9 December, 2020 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu

  • The dangers of misplaced optimism Eco
  • The rise of the AI economy Eco
  • In Stanford ranking, hope for Indian science Social Issues
  • HC stays nod for OIL project in Assam national park -Env
  • Mt. Everest grows taller as China, Nepal announce new height Geo
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    UPSC Current Affairs: The dangers of misplaced optimism | Page 6

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper 3 –GS Paper III–Indian Economy

    Sub Theme:| Need for Fiscal Stimulus | UPSC

    Context:

    The National Statistical Office (NSO) has recently published the GDP estimates for the Second Quarter of the Financial year 2020-21. In the second quarter, India's GDP has contracted by almost 7.5% in comparison to 24% contraction in the first quarter of financial year 2020-21. Accordingly, the Government believes that the Economy is recovering quite fast post COVID-19.

    However, the article raises concerns that such optimism on behalf of the Government is quite misplaced. This is so because, if the Government starts feeling that the Economy is getting back to higher GDP growth rates, then the Government would not focus on providing fiscal stimulus. Rather, the Government would continue to be conservative in providing fiscal stimulus and thus it can have an adverse impact on the Indian Economy.

    Basics about GDP Measurement

    According to Expenditure method, GDP is calculated as C+G+I+ (X-M) where C denotes Private final consumption expenditure (PFCE), G denotes Government Final consumption Expenditure (GFCE), I denotes Investment, X denotes Exports and M denotes Imports. As shown in the figure below, the PFCE accounts for the highest contribution followed by Investment.

    As shown below, the major drivers of India's GDP are PFCE and Gross Investment. 

    Impact of COVID-19 on Indian Economy

    The lockdown imposed due to the outbreak of CoVID-19 has impacted both demand and supply side simultaneously leading to twin shocks, which is considered to be quite unprecedented. 

    Lessons to be learnt from Latest GDP Numbers in second Quarter of 2020-21

    1. Though there are signs of a short-run recovery in PFCE, net incomes and consumer confidence are still lower as compared to previous year.
    2. Poor Revival of demand could lead to poor revival of Gross Investment rates
    3. Since the major drivers of India's GDP i.e., PFCE and Gross Investment continue to be poor, there is a need for enhancing Government final consumption Expenditure (GFCE). Higher Government expenditure on creation of Capital assets would lead to revival of both PFCE and Investment. (Higher Govt. Investment on Construction of National Highways--> Creation of Employment Opportunities ( Demand) and Higher Demand for Iron and Steel, Cement, Raw Materials etc--> Promote Higher Investment)

    Way Forward

    The GFCE increased in the first quarter of the financial year 2020-21. However, in the second quarter, the GFCE has decreased by 22% as compared to previous financial year. Considering the fact that, Indian Economy is reeling under slowdown, the GFCE should have increased rather than contracting. This clearly shows that the Government has adopted fiscal conservatism rather than Fiscal Stimulus to counter the economic slowdown. Hence, accordingly, the article argues that the Government must focus on enhancing GFCE in order to revive Indian Economy.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: The rise of AI Economy | Page–07

    UPSC Syllabus:| Mains – GS Paper 3–Indian Economy

    Sub Theme: Artificial  Intelligence in India- Prospects and Challenges

    Context:

    • In India, NITI Aayog released a policy paper, ‘National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence’, in June 2018, which considered the importance of AI in different sectors.
    • The Budget 2019 also proposed to launch a national programme on AI. While all these developments are taking place on the technological front, no comprehensive legislation to regulate this growing industry has been formulated in the country till date.

    NITI Aayog has issued a discussion paper on National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence AI forAll where it has decided to focus on five sectors that are envisioned to benefit the most from AI in solving societal needs:

    (a) Healthcare: increased access and affordability of quality healthcare,

    (b) Agriculture: enhanced farmers’ income, increased farm productivity and reduction of wastage,

    (c) Education: improved access and quality of education,

    (d) Smart Cities and Infrastructure: efficient and connectivity for the burgeoning urban population,

    (e) Smart Mobility and Transportation: smarter and safer modes of transportation and better traffic and congestion problems.

    Use of AI in different fields

    Healthcare

    • AI can be used to integrate data on patient health records, diagnosis, and treatment outcome across the government and private hospitals.
    • This will ensure proper accessibility of treatment even in far flung villages. For example, using mobile phones with a camera, patients in villages can send their eye images to ophthalmologists who can confirm the diagnosis and recommend clinical diagnosis.
    • Creation of a data pool on health will help the government in giving an analysis of the conditions of health and treatment provided across the country.
    • Thus, a nation-wide uniform and centralised data-deposition system can be incorporated under the recently announced National Health Policy, 2017.

    Agriculture

    • Framers can use AI in knowing weather predictions thereby giving them a variety of choice in terms of crop growth and its market price.
    • Additionally, such tools can also help farmers to monitor soil health, mine historical weather data including satellite imagery, and maintain supply-chain efficiency. AI tools can be used to determine the metabolism of crops and fruit bearing trees.
    • AI has real potential to aid farmers in selecting the right animals for breeding and, thereby,increasing milk, egg, and meat production.

    Smart Cities

    • Integration of AI in newly developed smart cities and infrastructure could also help meet the demands of a rapidly urbanising population and providing them with enhanced quality of life.
    • Potential use cases include traffic control to reduce congestion and enhanced security through improved crowd management. 

    Education and Skilling

    • AI can potentially solve for quality and access issues observed in the Indian education sector.
    • Potential use cases include augmenting and enhancing the learning experience through personalised learning, automating and expediting administrative tasks, and predicting the need for student intervention to reduce dropouts or recommend vocational training.

    Smart Mobility, including Transports and Logistics

    • Potential use cases in this domain include autonomous fleets for ride sharing, semiautonomous features such as driver assist, and predictive engine monitoring and maintenance.
    • Other areas that AI can impact include autonomous trucking and delivery, and improved traffic
    • management

    Barriers which needs to be addressed as suggested by AI

    As per NITI Aayog’s report, to truly reap the potential of AI at a large scale, the following barriers need to be addressed in order to achieve the goals of AI for All:

    a) Lack of broad based expertise in research and application of AI,

    b) Absence of enabling data ecosystems – access to intelligent data,

    c) High resource cost and low awareness for adoption of AI,

    d) Privacy and security, including a lack of formal regulations around anonymisation of data, and

    e) Absence of collaborative approach to adoption and application of AI.

    f) Lack of proper checks and balance on misuse of data. There is a need for a robust policy on data collection, use, inference, privacy, release and security.

    Need for Legal Framework to Regulate AI

    Reasons:

    If AI is not regulated properly, it is bound to have unmanageable implications. Imagine, for instance, that electricity supply suddenly stops while a robot is performing a surgery, and access to a doctor is lost? These questions have already confronted courts in the U.S. and Germany. All countries, including India, need to be legally prepared to face such kind of disruptive technology.

    Challenges:

    Predicting and analysing legal issues and their solutions, however, is not that simple. For instance, criminal law is going to face drastic challenges. What if an AI-based driverless car gets into an accident that causes harm to humans or damages property? Who should the courts hold liable for the same? Can AI be thought to have knowingly or carelessly caused bodily injury to another? Can robots act as a witness or as a tool for committing various crimes?

    Way forward

    We need a legal definition of AI. Given the importance of intention in India’s criminal law jurisprudence, it is essential to establish the legal personality of AI (which means AI will have a bundle of rights and obligations), and whether any sort of intention can be attributed to it.

    To answer the question on liability, since AI is considered to be inanimate, a strict liability scheme that holds the producer or manufacturer of the product liable for harm, regardless of the fault, might be an approach to consider.

    Since privacy is a fundamental right, certain rules to regulate the usage of data possessed by an AI entity should be framed as part of the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: In Stanford ranking, hope for Indian science | Page - 06

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper III – Economy/ Science and Technology

    Sub Theme: Ecosystem for Boosting Research and Development in India| UPSC

    Context: A new report by Stanford has created a database of 1,59,683 (top 2%) scientists of the world based on standard indicators such as information on citations, h-Index, co-authorship and a composite indicator. This database has largely depended on the citation index provided by resource databases such as Scopus and Web of Science. It is based on the number of research papers published, the number of times the author has been cited and the h-index, which is a measure of the impact of an author’s work and other people’s research.

    From India, 1,594 Indians have made it to the list of top 2% scientists in the world.

    An appraisal of the report, which includes disciplines of science, technology, medicine and allied areas, shows certain significant trends. Scientists from government-supported institutions have shown supremacy in the disciplines of science and technology, whereas scientists from private institutions find more place in the disciplines of medicine and allied areas. An analysis of the report shows that there is an equitable distribution of scientists working in institutions in urban and rural areas. In certain disciplines, a large number of scientists have secured a place in the list, whereas in some disciplines, only one scientist could be included.

    Observations

    • From the entire list of disciplines, more than four-fifths of the scientists are from government-supported institutions that include institutions of national importance, central universities, State universities, and government-funded research institutions.
    • In the disciplines of science and technology, the share of scientists from government-supported institutions, especially the institutions of national importance, is very high as they feature in most of the places in the list. The conclusion is that the listings point to the outcome of freedom, flexibility and facilitation to the faculty in these institutions to carry out research on any relevant topic. The practices of peer review, motivation to participate in international seminars, and incentivisation packages offered in these institutions are sure to have had a positive impact in this connection.
    • In of conventional and modern disciplines , number of scientists from private colleges and other institutions even from the remote areas have managed to find a place in the list. This is noted in a number of conventional and modern disciplines, thereby showing the reach and the extent of the performance of these scientists beyond the centres of excellence.
    • several institutions located in remote areas — much away from the ‘urban hubs of education’ are listed . It highlights the professional excellence and equitable sharing of excellence in the rural and urban settings. The reading of this is that this could act as a great incentive to many rising scientists from the rural areas.
    • Scientists working in non-governmental organisations, and private institutions have also made it to the list consisting of science, technology and medicine. In disciplines such as general and internal medicine, anatomy, ophthalmology and optometry, nutrition and dietetics, etc., scientists from private institutions find mention. This points to the need for reorienting and taking a relook at the investment in research and development by government medical institutions
    • The Medical Council of India, the Pharmacy Council of India and other regulatory institutions would need to review their guidance and support mechanisms for enhanced research and development.

    Considering the fact that India invests less than 1% of its GDP in research and innovation , the NEP proposed to set up a National Research Foundation, or NRF.

    About  of NRF

    • The proposal to set up an NRF is aimed at boosting research and innovation in all higher education institutions in the country.
    • It will be set up as an autonomous body and will look after funding, mentoring, and building ‘quality of research’ in India. The NRF aims to fund researchers working across streams in India.
    • In order to bring non-science disciplines of research in its ambit, NRF will fund research projects across four major disciplines –Sciences; Technology; Social Sciences; and Arts and Humanities. Additional divisions such as agriculture, environment, etc. could be added by the governing board of the NRF.
    • The funds allocated to research have declined from 0.84 per cent of GDP in 2008 to 0.69 per cent in 2014, as mentioned in the draft NEP. The new national education policy also acknowledges, “research and innovation investment in India is, at the current time, only 0.69 per cent of GDP as compared to 2.8 per cent in the United States of America, 4.3 per cent in Israel and 4.2 per cent in South Korea
    • To ensure increased participation in research, NRF suggests career counselling in schools to identify student interests and talents, promoting research in universities, inclusion of research and internships in the undergraduate curriculum, faculty career management systems that give due weightage to research.
    • The new policy states that NRF will provide a “reliable base of merit-based but equitable peer-reviewed research funding” which will help to develop a culture of research in the country through “suitable incentives for and recognition of outstanding research”.
    • The NRF paves the way for a self-reliant India while advocating merit-based but equitable peer-reviewed research funding, an incentivisation of research, and to usher in a new culture of research and development in the country.

    Despite certain limitations, the announcement of the NEP and the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan may enable the country to redraw the contours of research beyond the conventional disciplines. The report by Stanford University provides the impetus to Indian scientists to reach international standards.

     

     UPSC Current Affairs: HC stays nod for OIL project in Assam national park | Page - 04

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Environment and Biodiversity

    Sub Theme: Dibru-Saikhowa National Park | UPSC

    Dibru-Saikhowa National Park
    Dibru-Saikhowa is a National Park as well as a Biosphere Reserve situated in the south bank of the river Brahmaputra in Assam.
    The forest type of Dibru-Saikhowa comprises semi-evergreen forests, deciduous forests, littoral and swamp forests and patches of wet evergreen forests.
    It is the largest swamp forest in north-eastern India.
    It is an identified Important Bird Area (IBA), notified by the Birdlife International. It is most famous for the rare white-winged wood ducks as well as feral horses.
    Mammals found in the Park include Tiger, Elephant, Leopard, Jungle Cat, Bears, Small Indian Civet, Squirrels, Gangetic Dolphin, Hoolock Gibbon, etc.
    Maguri Motapung wetland is a part of the Reserve





     

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Mt. Everest ‘grows’ taller as China, Nepal announce new height | Page - 01

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Indian Geography

    Sub Theme: Plate Tectonics| UPSC

    The Indian plate includes Peninsular India and the Australian continental portions. The subduction zone along the Himalayas forms the northern plate boundary in the form of continent— continent convergence.

    India was a large island situated off the Australian coast, in a vast ocean. The Tethys Sea separated it from the Asian continent till about 225 million years ago. India is supposed to have started her northward journey about 200 million years ago at the time when Pangaea broke.

    India collided with Asia about 40-50 million years ago causing rapid uplift of the Himalayas. About 140 million years before the present, the subcontinent was located as south as 50 degree South. latitude.

    The two major plates were separated by the Tethys Sea and the Tibetan block was closer to the Asiatic landmass. From 40 million years ago and thereafter, the event of formation of the Himalayas took place. Scientists believe that the process is still continuing and the height of the Himalayas is rising even to this date

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