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17 October Current Affairs

Delhi-based National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL)

In News:

The Delhi-based National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL) has synthesised a novel security ink that emits intense red colour when exposed to 254 nm wavelength UV and emits green colour soon after the UV source is turned off.

About:

The emission of red is due to fluorescence while green is due to phosphorescence phenomenon.

Both red and green can be clearly seen with the naked eye under ambient conditions. The red colour is emitted at 611 nm wavelength while the green is emitted at 532 nm.

The ink has the potential to be used as a security feature on currency notes and passports.

This is the first report of an ink that contains two pigments that emit different colours at very different wavelengths when exposed to UV light of a particular wavelength. The results were published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry C.

Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT)

In News:

Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) launched the website and mobile application L2Pro India [Learn to Protect, Secure and Maximize Your Innovation] on Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs).

About:

The modules of this e-learning platform will aid and enable youth, innovators, entrepreneurs and small and medium industries (SMEs) in understanding IPRs for their ownership and protection.

The L2Pro India IP e-learning platform will have 11 modules for three different levels: Basic, Intermediate and Advanced.

The website and app has been developed by Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM)-DPIIT in collaboration with Qualcomm and National Law University (NLU), Delhi.

The L2Pro has been successfully implemented in Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and France, benefiting immensely from close collaboration with respective IP organizations and public research institutions.

Two Diagnostic Kits

In News:

The Department of Animal Husbandry released two diagnostic kits developed by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) – Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), namely the “Bluetongue: sandwich ELISA (sELISA)” and the “Japanese Encephalitis lgM ELISA” kit for the control of Swine and Detection of Antigen.

About:

The Bluetongue (BT) virus is an insect-transmitted viral disease of domestic and wild ruminants that includes the camelid species.

The disease is widespread among the sheep, goats, cattle, buffaloes and camels in the country.

With the help of the Kit “Bluetongue: Sandwich ELISA for detection of Antigen”, the Bluetongue Virus can be controlled with the vaccination of susceptible animals, vector control and quarantine of infected animals with the good management practices.

Apart from the vaccination, the early diagnosis and isolation of the infected animals are one of the commonly suggested preventive methods for controlling the spreading of the disease.

Union Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE)

In News:

Union Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), announced the launch of 14 Authorized World Skills India Training Centers (AWSITC) across 9 cities in India, for the Media and Entertainment sector.

About:

The new institutes are being set up for advanced skill training of candidates in the media and entertainment sector, not just to compete in the WorldSkills and IndiaSkills competitions but also to further develop the skilling eco-system for training candidates for the international market.

The state of the art AWSITCs will be set up in partnership with the MESC (Media & Entertainment Skill Council).

The training programs will be designed as per the NSFQ level, which will be industry linked.

Cities include Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Indore, Mumbai, Pune, Shillong and Trivandrum.

Kurdish fighters

In News:

Kurdish fighters in northern Syria have served as a crucial U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State. But U.S. troops stepped aside last week as Turkey launched an offensive against the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces. Kurdish forces have described the U.S. departure as “a stab in the back.”

About:

The Kurds are members of a large, predominantly Muslim ethnic group.

They live in the highlands of southern and eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, the northeastern Syria, northwestern Iran, and parts of south Armenia, and are a minority in each of these countries.

They have their own cultural and linguistic traditions, and most speak one of two major dialects of the Kurdish language.

There are an estimated 25 million to 35 million of them.

After World War I, Western powers promised Kurds their own homeland in the agreement known as the Treaty of Sèvres. But a later agreement instead divided them among Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran.

Today, there are about 30 million Kurds living across the region, with about half of them in Turkey. Iraq is the only country in the region to have established an autonomous Kurdish region, known as Iraqi Kurdistan. Its parliament was founded in 1992.

Over the decades, the Kurds made repeated attempts at establishing a de facto Kurdistan with defined national borders — and in the process attracted massive Turkish repression, including bans on the Kurdish language, names, songs, and dress.

Global Hunger Index

In News:

The 2019 Global Hunger Index report has been released.

Details:

The GHI ranks countries on a 100-point scale, with 0 being the best score (no hunger) and 100 being the worst. Values less than 10 reflect low hunger, values from 20 to 34.9 indicate serious hunger; values from 35 to 49.9 are alarming; and values of 50 or more are extremely alarming.

What is Global Hunger Index?

The report is a peer-reviewed publication released annually by Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide.

The GHI scores are based on a formula that captures three dimensions of hunger—insufficient caloric intake, child undernutrition, and child mortality—using four component indicators:

UNDERNOURISHMENT: the share of the population that is under-nourished, reflecting insufficient caloric intake

CHILD WASTING: the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (low weight-for-height), reflecting acute undernutrition.

CHILD STUNTING: the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (low height-for-age), reflecting chronic undernutrition.

CHILD MORTALITY: the mortality rate of children under the age of five.

Key findings:

Global scenario:

The report is topped by Central African Republic.

It is becoming difficult to feed the world due to climate change.

While there has been progress in reducing hunger, but the gains are now being threatened and severe hunger persists in many regions across the world.

Multiple countries have higher hunger levels now than in 2010, and approximately 45 countries are set to fail to achieve low levels of hunger by 2030.

Among the 117 countries, 43 have “serious” levels of hunger. The Central African Republic is in the “extremely alarming” level in the hunger index.

The Global Hunger Index recommends various steps the countries could take to tackle this serious problem: Prioritizing resilience among the most vulnerable groups, better response to disasters, addressing inequalities, action to mitigate climate change are among measures suggested in the report.

India and it’s neighbours:

India ranked 102 on the index among 117 qualifying countries with a score of 30.3. Even North Korea, Niger, Cameroon fared better than India.

Neighboring countries too bagged better spots — Sri Lanka (66), Nepal (73), Pakistan (94) and Bangladesh (88).

India bagged the top spot in child wasting rate in the world with an increase of 4.3 percentage points in nine years.

Around 90 per cent of children aged between 6 and 23 months in the country don’t even get minimum required food.

When it comes to stunting in children under five, the country saw a dip, but it’s still high — 37.9 per cent in 2019 from 42 per cent in 2010.

Despite the Swachh Bharat campaign, open defecation is still practiced in India. It jeopardises the population’s health and severely impacts children’s growth and their ability to absorb nutrients.

Concerns for India:

These findings point at a serious food crisis since wasting is “a strong predictor of mortality among children under five and is usually the result of acute significant food shortage and/or disease.

India’s hunger indicators have a huge impact on the total indicators of the region owing to its large population.

The data shows that India’s poor scores were pulling down South Asia to a point where it does worse than even sub-Saharan Africa.

Randomised Controlled Trial

In News:

The new Economics Nobel laureates – Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer – are considered to be instrumental in using randomised controlled trials to test the effectiveness of various policy interventions to alleviate poverty.

What is a randomised controlled trial?

It is an experiment that is designed to isolate the influence that a certain intervention or variable has on an outcome or event.

Why is randomised controlled trial so popular?

At any point in time, there are multiple factors that work in tandem to influence various social events.

RCTs allow economists and other social science researchers to isolate the individual impact that a certain factor alone has on the overall event.

For instance, to measure the impact that hiring more teachers can have on children’s learning, researchers must control for the effect that other factors such as intelligence, nutrition, climate, economic and social status etc., which may also influence learning outcomes to various degrees, have on the final event.

Randomised controlled trials promise to overcome this problem through the use of randomly picked samples.

Significance:

Many development economists believe that RCTs can help governments to find, in a thoroughly scientific way, the most potent policy measures that could help end poverty rapidly.

Criticisms of randomised controlled trials:

As per economist Angus Deaton, who won the economics Nobel Prize in 2015, “Understanding and misunderstanding randomised control trials” that simply choosing samples for an RCT experiment in a random manner does not really make these samples identical in their many characteristics. While two randomly chosen samples might turn out to be similar in some cases, he argued, there are greater chances that most samples are not really similar to each other.

Other economists argue that social science research, including research in the field of development economics, may be inherently unsuited for such controlled research since it may be humanly impossible to control for multiple factors that may influence social events.

IMF’s World Economic Outlook (WEO)

In News:

IMF’s 2019 World Economic Outlook (WEO) has been released.

India- specific observations:

India retains its rank as the world’s fastest-growing major economy, tying with China.

It has a projected growth rate of 6.1 per cent for the current fiscal year, despite an almost one per cent cut in the forecast.

However, India’s economy is projected to pick up and grow by 7 per cent in the 2020 fiscal year.

Reasons for the cut in growth projection for India:

India’s economy decelerated further in the second quarter, held back by sector-specific weaknesses in the automobile sector and real estate as well as lingering uncertainty about the health of non-bank financial companies.

“Corporate and environmental regulatory uncertainty” are other factors that weighed on demand.

The reduction in India’s growth projection for this year “reflects a weaker-than-expected outlook for domestic demand”.

Measures needed for India to revive its growth:

Use monetary policy and broad-based structural reforms to address cyclical weakness and strengthen confidence.

A credible fiscal consolidation path is needed to bring down India’s elevated public debt over the medium term.

This should be supported by subsidy-spending rationalisation and tax-base enhancing measures.

Reduce the public sector’s role in the financial system, reform the hiring and dismissal regulations.

Global scenario:

The world economy is projected to grow only 3 per cent this year and 3.4 per cent next year amid a “synchronised slowdown“.

China’s economic growth will slow down to 5.8 per cent next year.

In the Euro area, growth is projected to be only 1.2 percent this year and 1.4 next year, with the German economy expected to grow by a dismal 0.5 per cent this year.

United States is expected to slightly better with a 2.1 per cent growth projected for this year and 2.4 per cent for the next.

Reasons for slowdown: rising trade barriers, uncertainty surrounding trade and geopolitics, and structural factors, such as low productivity growth and an aging population in developed countries.

One Nation One FASTag

In News:

One Nation One FASTag scheme inaugurated recently.

Details:

The government has already announced that FASTags will be mandatory for all vehicles at all National Highways from December 1.

Features of the scheme- One Nation One FASTag:

The scheme will be implemented from December 1, 2019, and can be availed upon activation by new cars having Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags on national and state highways throughout the country.

The plan aims to integrate the collection of toll digitally and ensure seamless mobility of vehicles across India.

The payment method is a part of the National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) programme. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) collects the payments.

What is ‘FASTag’? How they operate?

Stickers affixed to the windscreen of vehicles.

Use RFID technology to enable digital, contactless payment of tolls without having to stop at toll gates.

The tags are linked to bank accounts and other payment methods.

Sensors are placed on toll barriers, and the barriers open for vehicles having valid FASTags.

A FASTag is valid for five years and needs to be recharged only as per requirement.

Why do we need this scheme?

According to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), these devices will make passing through tolls considerably smoother since drivers will no longer have to carry cash or stop to make a transaction.

Cameras at toll booths will take photos of passengers in a vehicle, which will be useful for the Ministry of Home Affairs as there will be a record of a vehicle’s movement.

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