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GS 2

West Bengal renames itself as ‘Bangla’

News:

  1. The West Bengal Assembly passed a resolution to change the name of the State.

Important facts:

2. The proposal will change the name of the Sate as ‘Bangla’ in three languages- Bengali, English and Hindi.

3. In 2016, the Assembly passed a resolution to change the name to ‘Bengal’ in Bengali and ‘Bangla’ in Hindi.

4. However, the central government turned it down in 2017, objecting to having three names in three languages.

5. For amending the name of the State, an amendment to the Schedule 1 of the Constitution will be introduced in Parliament, which has to approve it with a simple majority, before the President’s assent.

 

Lok Sabha passes anti-trafficking Bill

News:

  1. Recently, the Lok Sabha passed the trafficking of persons (prevention, protection and rehabilitation) Bill, 2018.

Important facts:

2.Key features of the Bill are given below

  • The Bill lays down a stringent punishment of 10 years to life imprisonment for aggravated form of trafficking. Aggravated form of trafficking include:
  • Buying and selling of a person’s for the purpose of bonded labour.
  • Bearing a child.
  • Crimes where chemical substances or hormones are administered.
  • Survivor acquires life-threatening illness such as AIDS.

3.The Bill proposes establishing a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau (NATB) for coordinating, monitoring, and surveillance of trafficking cases.

4.It also provides for a Relief and Rehabilitation Committee and Rehabilitation Fund.

5.It prescribes forfeiture of property used or likely to be used for the commission of an offence.

6.To secure right of victims, many political parties demanding:-

  • The provision for confiscation of properties likely to be misused.
  • Need for community based rehabilitation for survivors.
  • Protection for transgender persons under the Bill.
  • The Bill also lacks safeguards to ensure that people who voluntarily enter into sex trade are not harassed.
  • While critising the Bill, politicians said the Bill victimizing adult persons voluntarily in sex work.
  1. Earlier, the Cabinet had  also approved a proposal for making the apex anti-terror body- the National Investigation Agency (NIA) , for probing cases of human trafficking. For which the government is expected to bring a separate amendment to the NIA Act

 

 GS 3

PSUs biggest donors to Clean Ganga Fund

News:

  1. Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) outdid their private sector peers in contributing to the Clean Ganga Fund (CGF) through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Important facts:

2. The State and Central government public sector units(PSU)s donated large funds for clean Ganga projects.

3. Around Rs 220 crore was donated to the CGF as of January 2018.

4. Private companies contributed around ₹20 crore

5. The public sector, Central public sector and Government Departments contributed about ₹177 crore.

6. The rest were from individual donations.

7. Clean Ganga Fund:

  • The Clean Ganga Fund(CGF) was created in 2014 and envisioned as a source of funds from private companies, individuals and institutions.
  • The purpose to set up CGF is to attract private contributions globally for increasing people’s participation in this massive task.
  • The ‘Clean Ganga Fund’ was launched as a part of the Namami Gange programme.
  • It was launched to encourage contributions from Indians, NRIs, PIOs, institutions and corporates towards Ganga rejuvenation.
  • Namami Gange Programme is an umbrella programme carried out through various coordinated activities including treatment of municipal sewage, river front development among others.

 

AI superpower or client nation?

Article:

  1. Parminder Jeet Singh associated with Bengaluru based NGO emphasized that industrial revolution moved the centres of physical power from human and animal bodies to machines.

Important Analysis:

2. Google’s CEO compares Artificial intelligence with fire and electricity in terms of their role in human civilization.

3. But, Stephen Hawking feared that AI could end humanity.

4. Radical transformation:

  • AI systems are set to transform economic, social and political organisation.
  • Intelligent systems tend to centralize and monopolise control.
  • AI economy will radically concentrate income and wealth.
  • Many global digital industry leaders have called for assured basic income for all.
  • Globally, just one or two concentrations of AI power may rule the world. Currently, these are in the U.S. and China.

5. India’s stand in the AI race:

  • It is fast squandering its great advantages of high IT capabilities and a big domestic market required for data harvesting.
  • AI does not develop in laboratories.
  • AI develops within business processes, as data are mined from digital platforms and used into intelligence.
  • Any country’s AI largely exists within its huge, domestically owned commercial digital/data systems.
  • In the U.S. it is with Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft — and in China with Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent.
  • India does not possess large domestically owned commercial data systems.

6. Google and Microsoft are partnering with U.S. military on AI applications, and China’s companies even more closely so with its military.

7. The digital/AI industry works in huge ecosystems with global digital corporations at the centre, and various start-ups and specific digital/AI applications at the peripheries.

8. Start-ups everywhere, including in India, are mostly vying to find a place in such huge global ecosystems, anchored either in the U.S. or China, generally by being bought out.

9. The Niti Aayog’s new AI strategy whether related to increased agricultural output, precision medicine or tailored learning is basically shop-window of global digital/AI corporations.

10. Suggestions for India to became an AI superpower:

  • Controlling huge commercial data ecosystems.
  • Technologies should flow freely across the globe.
  • Welcome global technology companies to help India’s digital development.
  • Data-based sectoral platforms, like in e-commerce, urban transport, agriculture, health and education, etc, should largely be domestic.
  • India needs to provide domestic protection through policy, if India begins to treat its collective social/economic data as a strategic national asset.
  • Such policy protection will ensure that large-scale data driven Indian companies able to develop the highest AI in every sector.
  • Once enough AI proficiency and strength has been developed domestically, it should then be used to go global.
  • With its highest IT as well as entrepreneurial/managerial competence, and a huge domestic market, India is among extremely few countries that can make it.

 

New models for airport management

News:

  1. Growth in the aviation sector has pushed the government to propose an Amendment in the AERI Act, 2008.

Important facts:

2. India has emerged as the third largest domestic aviation market in the world.

3. Need for amendment:

  • The number of major airports increased from 12 to 27 between 2007 and 2017.
  • There is also an increase in private operators entering the airline/airport sector
  • Some of the major airports now function under public-private partnerships.
  • If large number of operators come under the purview of the Authority, it would be difficult to efficiently determine the tariffs and monitor the service standards of major airports.
  • For engaging private partners in infrastructure projects, several business models like predetermined tariff or tariff-based bidding have come into place.
  • The airport project is awarded to the concessionaire who offers the lowest tariff.
  • In this model, the market itself determines the charges.
  • The regulator is not required to fix charges after the award of the project.
  • The 2008 Act does not cover such complexities.

4. AERI Act, 2008

  • The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008 was enacted to provide an independent authority to protect the interests of airports, airlines and passengers.
  • It primary objective is to regulate tariff for aeronautical services rendered at airports.
  • Aeronautical services include navigation, surveillance and supportive communication for air traffic management, services for the landing, housing or parking of an aircraft, ground safety, and fuel and handling services.

5.Amendment to the 2008 act:

  • The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2018, proposes to first amend the definition of “major airport” as any airport with passengers in excess of 3.5 million from the existing 1.5 million.
  • The amended Bill seeks to update Section 13 of the 2008 Act in tune with the present business models and tariff system.
  • Section 13 is an umbrella provision in the Act which further covers:

6. Capital expenditure incurred and timely investment in improvement of airport facilities;

7. The service provided, its quality and other relevant factors;

8. Cost for improving efficiency; and economic and viable operation of major airports.

 

Einstein was right: astronomers confirm key theory of relativity

News:

  1. The astronomers claimed that they had for the first time confirmed a prediction of Albert Einsten’s theory of general relativity by observing the gravitational effects of a supermassive black hole on a star zipping by it.

Important facts:

2. The German-born theoretical Physicist said that large gravitational forces could stretch light, much like the compression and stretching of sound waves.

3. Researchers from the GRAVITY consortium led by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics realized that they had a “perfect laboratory” to test Einstein’s theory with the black hole, Sagittarius A*, in the centre of the Milky Way.

4. Black holes are so dense that their gravitational pull can trap even light, and the supermassive Sagittarius A* has mass four million times that of sun, making it the biggest in galaxy.

5. Astronomers followed the S2 star as it recently passed close to the black hole at a speed in excess of 25 million kmper hour.

6. They then calculated its velocity and position using a number of instruments and compared it with predictions made by Einstein that the light would be stretched by the gravity, in an effect called gravitational redshift.

7. Newtonian physics doesn’t allow for a redshift.

8. Researcher’s findings:

  • The result are perfectly in line with the theory of general relativity and are a major breakthrough towards better understanding the effects of intense gravitational fields.
  • The European Southern Observatory, whose Very Large Telescope in Chile was used to make the observations, had watched S2 pass by Sagittarius A* in 2016.
  • The instruments it was using in 2016 were not sensitive enough to detect the gravitational redshift.

9.Astronomers already use another effect predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity — that a black hole can bend passing light.

10.Researchers have used gravitational lensing to peer behind black holes.

 

Magsaysay for ‘3 idiots’ muse

News:

  1. Two Indians are among six winners picked for the 2018 Raman Magsaysay Awards.

Important facts:

2. Name of awardees:-

From India:

Name:

3. Sonam Wangchuk, educational reformer from Ladakh, widely regarded as the inspiration for Aamir Khan’s character, Phunsuk Wangdu in the film ‘3 Idiots’.

 Achievement:

  • In 1988, Wangchuk founded the Students’ Education and Cultural Movement of Ladakh to coach Ladakhi students, 95% of whom used to fail the government exams.
  • In 1994, with him in the lead, Operation New Hope was launched to consolidate the programme.

4. Bharat Vatwani, a psychiatrist who works for mentally ill street people in Mumbai.

Achievement:

  • Vatwani was recognised for “his tremendous courage and healing compassion” in embracing mentally-afflicted destitute people.

Awardees from other countries:

  • The others are Youk Chhang from Cambodia, Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz from East Timor, Howard Dee from the Philippines and Vo Thi Hoang Yen from Vietnam.

5. Ramon Maysaysay award:

  • The Ramon Magsaysay Award is an annual award established to perpetuate former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysays.
  • The prize was established in April 1957 by the trustees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund based in New York City with the concurrence of the Philippine government.
  • The award is internationally-recognized as Asia’s Nobel Prize counterpart and is the highest award given to Asian individuals and organizations.
  • It is awarded for outstanding contributions in government services, public service, community leadership, journalism, literature and creative communication arts, peace and international understanding and emergent leadership.
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