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17th August Current Affairs

In the coming 75 years

(GS-III: Science and Technology)

In News:

Even after 75 years of Independence, India spends a meagre 0.7% of its GDP on research and development (R&D), the author argues what should be done to improve innovation, R&D and science for the masses.

Even the funds which come for R&D are mired in several issues such as:

  • Inadequate staffing at funding agencies
  • lack of transparency in fund disbursal
  • excessive delay in fund disbursal
  • Outdated appraisal system of the outcome of the research

Fundamental policy changes required:

Spending 4% of the national GDP on R&D (Israel and South Korea spend nearly 5% of their GDP on R&D).

Building physical and intellectual infrastructure across the country, especially in the universities.

Globally competitive institutional administrators and standardized processes for better academia-industry collaborations

Ensuring that individual institutions implement processes to accommodate the large budget

Linking science with society by encouraging individual entrepreneurs

A robust system to link the labs with the entrepreneurs to funnel innovative ideas, products, and solutions to our society needs to be in place.

Kerala Cabinet clears Bill to curtail Chancellor’s power in VC selection

In News:

The Kerala State Cabinet has approved a Bill that could effectively curtail the Governor’s influence in the selection of Vice Chancellors to State universities.

Details:

Significance: The issue highlights the conflict between democratically elected CM and centre-appointed Governor.

Powers of Governor for state Universities:

Ex-officio chancellor of the universities in that state.

The difference in interpretation of laws:

  • In Kerala’s case, the Governor’s official portal asserts that “as Chancellor governor acts independently of the Council of Ministers and takes his own decisions on all University matters”.
  • Rajasthan’s Raj Bhawan states that the “Governor appoints the Vice-Chancellor on the advice/ in consultation with the State Government”

For Central Universities: President appoints chancellors.

NeVA

In News:

‘One Nation-One Application’ is being implemented using the National eVidhan Application (NeVA)

Details:

NeVA is a portal to bring all the legislatures of the country together, on one platform.

Key Benefits:

  • Paperless Assembly
  • Automation of the entire law-making process
  • Cloud technology (Meghraj) allows data to be accessed anywhere at any time.
  • Himachal Pradesh is the first Digital Legislature in the country.

NeVA (previously known as e-Vidhan) is a Mission Mode Project (MMP) under the Digital India Programme, under the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MoPA).

Quantum Key Distribution (QKD)

In News:

Basic terminologies about Quantum computing are important (but do not need to go into unnecessary details)

Details:

Under the Innovation for Defense Excellence (iDEX), a startup QNu labs have developed QKD.

Details:

QKD is a secure communication technology that allows two parties to generate a shared secret key which can be used to encrypt and decrypt messages.

Working: Quantum computing takes advantage of the strange ability of subatomic particles to exist in more than one state at any time. Due to the way the tiniest of particles behave, operations can be done much more quickly and use less energy than classical computers.

About iDEX:

It is an initiative by the government (launched in 2018) to contribute to the modernization of the Defense Industry.

It aims to promote innovation and technology development in Defense and Aerospace by engaging with Industries, MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes & academia

It will be funded by the Defense Innovation Organization (DIO) (under the Ministry of Defence).

Tackling stubble burning

In News:

With an aim to cut pollution caused by stubble burning in Haryana, Delhi region, a new 2nd generation (2G) ethanol plant (based on indigenous technology) was recently opened on world biofuel day (August 10).

About:

Built by the Indian Oil Corporation

Located close to the Panipat refinery.

It aims to utilise about 2 lakh tonnes of rice straw (crop-residue) annually to generate around 3 crore litres of ethanol annually.

Benefits:

The biofuel plant will be able to get rid of stubble without burning it

Empower farmers and provide an additional income generation opportunity

Other initiatives for residue crop management:

Haryana has set up 64.3 MW biomass power projects that consume 2.37 lakh MT of paddy straw, while another 2.41 lakh MT of paddy straw is being used by other industries.

Villages are being categorized into red, yellow and green zones in terms of incidences of crop residue burning

Haryana is providing a subsidy on Crop Residue Management (CRM) machines.

Use of Happy Seeders Machine.

Diplomacy for Viksit Bharat

(GS-II: International relations)

In News:

PM outlined a new ambition to make India a developed country, “Viksit Bharat”, by 2047.

India must address its foreign policy challenges in becoming “Viksit”:

Overcome colonial legacy: It undermines India’s geopolitical position e.g., the legacy of partition.

Prioritize deterring the dangers from across the Western frontier until Pakistan is ready for a productive relationship with India.

Resolve the problems left over by Partition on India’s North-western frontier

Addressing connectivity challenge: Strengthening regional and trans-regional institutions in South Asia and beyond e.g., BIMSTEC, BRICS, SCO, QUAD

Emphasize connectivity, trade ties, and security partnerships with its neighbours.

Address the China challenge: growing gap with China in terms of defence, trade, and clout.

China has been asserting itself across Asia to make a “unipolar Asia”.

Build stronger partnerships with other major powers: Partnerships should be based on negotiated mutually beneficial terms and India should always exercise its strategic autonomy.

Take global leadership: India must take global leadership in managing the enormous consequences of the unfolding technological revolution, stabilizing the economic order, and addressing the challenges of climate change and pandemics.

Pursue multilateralism: India has to continue its pursuit of multilateralism, at the UN, G-20, and WTO. India should make coalitions of like-minded nations.

Engage with Africa, Latin America, and Oceania where India’s footprint remains light, despite some recent initiatives.

Domestic changes needed: Promoting social justice, internal unity, economic modernization, resilient political institutions, and deep bases of science and technology.