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GS-2

NEWS

One in three companies in India prefer hiring men: World Economic Forum study

News:

  1. A recent World Economic Forum (WEF) study has found that women are entering the workforce at a slower rate than current female workforce participation.

Important Facts:

  1. The WEF “Future of Work in India” report prepared with the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) surveyed 770 companies, from micro-sized firms to those employing more than 25,000 workers, across four industries i.e., textiles, banking and financial services, logistics and transportation, and retail to understand how technology impacts the workforce.
  2. The report takes into consideration worldwide concern that technology adoption may displace human workers, leading to jobless growth.
  3. Findings of the study
  • The findings indicate that there is overall technology-led job growth, but men are disproportionately reaping the benefits.
  • Preference: While only 11 per cent of the companies surveyed stated they wanted to hire more women, 36 percent of companies reported a preference for men.
  • The study also found that these companies prefer hiring men and that technology-led job growth benefits men more than women.
  • Presence of women at workplace: The survey also found that currently, a third of the companies had no female employees, 71 per cent have fewer than 10 per cent female workers, and only 2.4 per cent have half or more females.
  • Sector-wise gender data: The retail sector had the most companies with no female employees at 45 per cent, followed by transport and logistics at 36 per cent. Companies in both sectors also stated they prefer hiring men the most, at 43 and 48 per cent respectively.
  • Trend towards informality: The study also found that the workforce is trending toward independent, freelance and informal labour that, again, give men the advantage. Of the companies surveyed, 22 per cent will replace permanent workers with contract workers in the next five years.
  • Income disparity: According to the study, men with ten to 20 years experience are paid 30 per cent more than their female counterparts.
  • Maternity leave: Less than a quarter of the companies provide maternity leave for permanent employees and 10 per cent for contract workers.
  • Unpaid work: The concept of informal work includes unpaid work of family members, in which women participation is three times more than men. Sixty-six per cent of work by women is unpaid, while male work is 12 percent unpaid.

 

 

Pence speech signals new Cold War 

News:

  1. The war of words between America and China signalling new Era of Cold War.

Important Facts:

  1. Why there is war of words between China and America:
  • United States imposed 10% tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods, escalating trade war between both the countries.
  • Trump administration has formally described China as a “revisionist power” and “strategic competitor” in the past year.
  • Chinese structural economic reforms to hurt farmers, factory workers, and small business owners in America.
  1. American Vice President has taken a tough approach towards China, accusing it with strings of arguments such as:
  • Manipulation of social media or the hacking of email accounts to influence Midterm Election because of its imposition of tariffs on billions of dollars on Chinese goods.
  • China persuaded three Latin American countries to break diplomatic ties with Taiwan and recognize the People’s Republic of China but United States might no longer abide by the One China principle.
  • China is targeting U.S. state and local governments and officials to exploit any divisions between federal and local levels on policy.
  1. China’s Accusation:
  • Trump is attempting to damage China’s economy, derail China’s rise, and to withdraw China’s leadership.
  • Trump is scapegoating China for America’s own domestic challenges.
  1. It is expected the America will broaden the attack on China because:
  • China’s aggressiveness and rapid military buildup in its coastal waters.
  • Its use of debt financing to corrupt financially vulnerable countries.
  • Its influence campaign in American news media, at think tanks and on college campuses.
  1. China is predicting, America is trying to embark on a Cold War that would force the China to involve into prolonged multi-front battle with the United States.

 

Innovation, not eminence, is key

News:

  1. Kapil Vishwanathan, has talked about reforms required in Higher Education in India.

Important Facts:

  1. Man and Machine together has caused Rapid modernization and created a threat to environment.
  2. As per the Author, higher education across the globe has failed to address the changing demands of unpredictable world and environmental damage caused by it.
  3. Demerits of India’s higher Education:
  • In India, the better institutions of higher education tends to prepare graduates for their first job or vocation but not for life.
  • Though India is moving into towards liberal arts education, it does not seem to be moving hand in hand with technology (A liberal arts education refers to college studies that provide general knowledge and develop intellectual ability)
  1. What India should do:
  • Develop new vision for education to combine technology, humanities and ethics.
  • Higher education should prepare students for life, not just a career.
  • Motivate students to learn to deal with the inevitable ethical challenges in daily life.
  • Provide an opportunity to students to allow them to feel the sense of purpose they are studying.
  • Establish learnings of the past and present with preparedness for the future.
  1. How the Education System can ensure the above objectives?
  • Introduce core skills module to help students develop a set of life skills, including ethical reasoning, data science, design thinking and effective communication.
  • Introduce concentration module to help students to dive deep into a chosen discipline, not merely for the sake of accumulating knowledge but to develop a deep sense of inquiry and to learn to solve problems.
  • Provide an arrangement to allow the connect between Teaching and Research and Development.
  1. Suggestions for India
  • India needs hundreds of institutes of eminence, not just six
  • India needs to think beyond the current mandate of breaking into the top 500 global rankings within 10 years.
  • Require regulatory flexibility to encourage Institute of Eminence to experiment.

 

GS-3

NEWS

NMCE: The rise, fall and survival of India’s oldest commodity exchange
News
1.In September 2018, the nation’s oldest commodity exchange National Multi-Commodity Exchange of India Ltd (NMCE) is merged with the India Commodity Exchange Limited (ICEX).
Commodity exchange
2. A commodity exchange is an exchange where various commodities, derivative products, agriculture products and other raw materials are traded.
3. These exchanges usually trade futures contracts in commodities.

  • Future contracts– is a forward contract, a legal agreement to buy or sell something at a predetermined price at a specified time in the future

Examples of commodity exchanges in India
4. The commodity exchanges in India includes- National Spot Exchange Limited (NSEL), India Commodity Exchange Limited (ICEX), Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX), National Multi-Commodity Exchange of India Ltd (NMCE), National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Limited (NCDEX), etc.
Regulation of commodity exchanges
5. The commodity market in India is regulated by SEBI since September 2015.
6. Prior to that Forward Market Commission under Ministry of Consumer Affairs regulated Commodities market in India.

Win-Win Merger
7. NMCE merger with ICEX is seen as a win-win strategy.
8. This merger addresses two things: a) net worth requirement and b) requirement of setting up a clearing corporation.
9. ICEX which has already launched world’s first diamond futures and steel futures will now get agri-commodity futures after merging with NMCE.
Benefits of merger

  • Market participation will go up
  • Liquidity will improve
  • Number of long-term future contracts will increase
  • Reduction in operational expenses

 

Wind power too adds to warming

NEWS:

  1. Researchers have identified that wind turbines also contribute to climate change by redistributing heat and moisture in the atmosphere.

Important Facts:

  1. Wind turbines, designed as an alternative to fossil fuels, still contribute to climate change though turbine-caused warming is not as big a threat as greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. 3. How wind power adds to warming?
  • Normally the air is more still at night, with cold air staying near the surface and warmer air resting a little higher. But turbines bring the warm air down and cool air up, making the ground a bit warmer.
  • So, the wind turbines generate electricity by extracting energy out of the air, slowing down wind and otherwise altering “the exchange of heat, moisture, and momentum between the surface and the atmosphere,” the study explains, which produces some level of warming.
  1. Moreover the turbine caused warming is temporary and stops when the blades aren’t turning.
  2. Impact of warming caused by wind turbines:
  • Researchers from Harvard University in a recent study, published in the journal Joule, found that powering the entire US with wind energy would cause a 0.54 degree Celsius ground temperature rise in the area where the turbines were located, and a 0.24C increase across the continental US.
  • One recent study, published in the journal ‘Science’, concluded that covering an area of the Sahara desert with wind turbines would affect local temperature, rainfall, and in turn, vegetation.
  1. Limitations of the study:
  • The study only notes that the warming effect depends strongly on local weather conditions, as well as the type and placement of turbines. It didn’t analyze impacts outside the continental United States or time periods beyond a year.
  • It greatly overstates the surface temperature impact of renewable resources relative to fossil fuels.
  1. Alternative to wind power:
  • The Harvard researchers said that installing solar panels would have an impact around 10 times smaller than wind turbines for the same energy generation rate.
  1. The direct climate impacts of wind power are instant, while the benefits accumulate slowly. So despite the potential drawbacks, wind energy still makes more sense for the environment than fossil fuels.     

 


International Year of Millets slotted for 2023, India thanks FAO for endorsing its demand 

News:

  1. Acting on India’s proposal, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has agreed to celebrate ‘International Year of Millets’ in 2023.

Important Facts:

  1. Aim is to create awareness and inspire all stakeholders to work towards improving production and productivity of the climate-resilient and nutritious millets across the globe.
  2. Significance: The decision of FAO Committee on Agriculture to endorse India’s proposal in Rome signifies India’s prominence in agriculture diplomacy.
  3. Government steps to recognise millets in India:
  • India’s India, which celebrates 2018 as ‘National Year of Millets’, had in April notified these cereals as ‘ nutri-cereals’ and allowed its inclusion in the Public Distribution System (PDS) for improving nutritional support.
  • Recognising millets’ anti-diabetic properties, the notification called it a “powerhouse of nutrients” and identified several varieties of millets for promotion.
  • The millets in the category of “ Nutri-Cereals” include Sorghum(Jowar), Pearl Millet

(Bajra), Finger Millet ( Ragi), Foxtail Millet (Kangani/ Kakun) and Buckwheat ( Kuttu) among others.

  • In July 2018, the government substantially hiked the minimum support price (MSP) of millets so that more and more farmers may opt for cultivation of these less water consuming crops.
  1. International trade fair on organics and millets:
  • The Karnataka government will hold an international trade fair on organics and millets in January 2019 in Bengaluru to promote them as the next-generation smart foods.
  • The second edition of the Organics and Millets International Trade Fair 2019 will be the largest congregation of India’s Organic and Millets community.
  • As the largest gathering of the stakeholders (Farmers, sellers, buyers and exporters), the fair will position Karnataka as the country’s millets capital and promote them as the best food for all.


According to the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), over 500 million people in more than 30 countries depend on sorghum as a staple food. However, in the past 50 years, these grains have largely been abandoned in favour of more popular crops like maize, wheat, rice and soybeans.


Article/Opinion 

Avoiding the currency basket case 

Article

The article elaborates on the evolution of Indian rupee and how internationalization of the rupee will benefit the Indian currency.

Important Analysis:

  • The Indian rupee was once a multi-lateral currency as its usage prevalent across the Indian ocean in Java, Borneo, Macau, Muscat, Basra and Zanzibar.
  • The Gulf had a familiarity with the rupee for five centuries.

Genesis of Indian rupee

  • The issuance of new rupee coin dates back to accession of George V to the British throne in 1911.
  • The annexation of Sindh, Ceylon and Burma further intensified the presence of rupee in the region.
  • Gulf states were using RBI-minted Gulf rupees until 1966.

Transition line

  • These countries switched to their own currency after the devaluation of Indian rupee in 1966 after 1965 war.
  • Presently, only Bhutan and Nepal conduct bilateral trade with India in rupees.
  • Rupee value to dollar has been devaluated from Rs. 3.30 in 1947 to Rs. 7.50 in 1966 to Rs. 32.4 in 1995.

Factors behind devaluation of the rupee

  • Wars with Pakistan and China
  • Adoption of five year plans requiring foreign loans
  • political instability
  • oil price shock of 1973

Factors behind recent fall in rupee value

  • FII outflows from stocks and bonds
  • The ongoing US-China trade war
  • Iran sanctions
  • Further upward trend in oil prices

Options available for stabilization of rupee

  • Intervening in the forex market by selling dollars from the RBI reserves.
  • Selling non-resident Indian bonds to raise money.
  • Issuance of sovereign bond to raise to debt in rupee form.

What needs to be done to bring rupee in the top 10 traded currencies:

  • Rupee payment mechanism– India should consider formalizing the rupee payment mechanism with friendly countries like Russia. For example: rupee swap arrangement between India- Iran, rupee-rouble trade arrangement between India and Russia.
  • Industrial growth– These arrangements will work well when we have robust industrial growth.
  • A lower rupee can further increase import burden of the country.
  • Formalization of the economy– The formalization of Indian economy is also needed.
  • Tax rate rationalization– Tax rate rationalization with lower tax rate to increase the tax base and increase compliance with tax returns.

China campaigned hard for the inclusion of its currency in the IMF’s benchmark currency to make yuan “freely usable”.

RBI on the other hand has followed a cautious approach to convert rupee from a largely non-convertible  pegged currency before 1991 to a managed float by taking measures like

  • Allowing companies to raise debt offshore
  • Creation of masala bonds
  • Allowing foreigners to invest in rupee debt onshore

Institutional resistance against rupee convertibility should be reversed.

 

PT Facts

1. Nobel Peace Prize 2018

  • The Nobel Peace Prize 2018 was awarded jointly to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.”
  • Denis Mukwege, a  gynaecologist,  has treated thousands of rape victims, in decades in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi, who was sold into sex slavery by ISIS,  after escaping became an activist, campaigning to help put an end to human trafficking and calling on the world to take a tougher line on rape as a weapon of war.
  • Both have “helped to give greater visibility to wartime sexual violence”.
  1. Exercise KAZIND 2018:
  • It was held between Indian Army and Kazakhstan Army recently in Otar Military area, Kazakhstan.
  • This is the third joint military exercise.
  • The primary focus of the exercise was to undertake joint counter insurgency and counter terrorist operations in urban and rural environment under mandate of United Nations.
  1. Delhi Declaration on Renewable Energy:
  • 21 countries in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) adopted the Delhi Declaration on Renewable Energy at the 2nd Global Re-Invest India-ISA Partnership Renewable Energy Investor’s Meet & Expo in Delhi.
  • As per the declaration adopted, IORA member nations will collaborate with the International Solar Alliance (ISA) member nations to exchange knowledge regarding renewable energy with a focus on joint capacity-building programs, research & development activities in solar energy and exchange of best practices.
  • Additionally, IORA member nations and IRENA will undertake the expansion of the Global Renewable Energy Atlas, the world’s largest-ever joint renewable resource data project, thereby creating the Indian Ocean region’s first and most comprehensive map and database which can then be used to tap the sizable renewable energy potential of the region.
  1. Astra BVR-AAM : Astra Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVR-AAM) has been developed by DRDO with IAF’s active participation. The missile is integrated on Sukhoi Su-30 (a twin-engine, two-seat supermaneuverable fighter aircraft) and other air platforms.
  2. Udyam Abhilasha
  • Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), has launched a National Level Entrepreneurship Awareness Campaign, Udyam Abhilasha in 115 Aspirational Districts identified by NITI Aayog in 28 States.
  • The campaign would create and strengthen cadre of more than 800 trainers to provide entrepreneurship training to the aspiring youths across these districts thus encouraging them to enter the admired segment of entrepreneurs.
  1. IBSAMAR-VI
  • IBSAMAR is a joint Multi–National Maritime Exercise between the Indian, Brazilian and South African Navies. It is being held at Simons Town, South Africa from 01 – 13 Oct 18.
  • The last edition of IBSAMAR (IBSAMAR V) was conducted off Goa in 2016.
  • Aim of the exercise- to undertake collective training for participating navies, building interoperability and mutual understanding as well as sharing of best practices.
  1. Exercise Aviaindra 2018
  • Exercise Aviaindra is an Air Force level bi-annual exercise between India and the Russian Federation.
  • First Aviaindra exercise was conducted in 2014.
  • It is being conducted at Lipetsk, Russia in September 18 and will be conducted in Jodhpur, India in December 18.
  • Aim of the exercise- is focused towards anti-terrorist operations in a bi-lateral scenario.
  1. New 840 Higher Educational Institutes enrolled in Unnat Bharat Abhiyan
  • It is an initiative of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Ministry of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj to link all Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) with rural development processes.
  • 840 Institutions have been selected and will be part of UBA 2.0.
  • Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0 envisages students from colleges and universities to go to nearby villages to get acquainted with the life of the village people and the problems faced by them in day to day life.
  • This includes field visits, house to house survey, identifying the felt needs of the rural masses, developing technology or process to improve their lives.
  1. MoU between India’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and the Russian Federation’s SIRIUS Educational Foundation

Objectives:

  • To promote a spirit of collaborative innovation among young innovators of Atal Tinkering Labs and SIRIUS Educational Foundation, Russia.
  • To remove cultural and language barriers between students of Russia and India
  • To share the best practices in the promotion of educational, scientific, innovative achievements
  • Promote innovative cooperation

About Atal Innovation Mission

  • Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is NITI Aayog’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in India.

The Atal Innovation Mission has thus two core functions:

  • Innovation promotion: To provide a platform where innovative ideas are generated through various initiatives at school, university and industry levels
  • Entrepreneurship promotion: Wherein innovators would be supported and mentored to become successful entrepreneurs at Incubation Centers.

About SIRIUS Educational Foundation, Russia

  • Fund “Talent and success” is a unitary, non-profit, non-standard educational organization.
  • It aims to identify and support children and young people who have shown outstanding abilities.
  • Providing assistance in obtaining general and additional education for such personalities, including education in the fields of arts, natural sciences, physical culture and sports.
  1. GI Tag for Alphonso
  • Alphonso from Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Palghar, Thane and Raigad districts of Maharashtra, is registered as Geographical Indication (GI).

What is Geographical Indication or a GI – It is an indication used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.

  • Such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to its origin in that defined geographical locality.
  • The first product to get a GI tag in India was the Darjeeling tea in 2004. There are a total of 325 products from India that carry this indication.
  1. Launch of Methanol Cooking Fuel Program of India
  • Northeast and Assam Petrochemicals, a state-owned company is launching Asia’s first canisters based and India’s first “Methanol Cooking Fuel Program”.
  • 500 households inside the Assam Petro Complex will be the first pilot project,
  • In future, scaling it to 40,000 households in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana, Goa and Karnataka.
  • Methanol demand is growing at a robust 6 to 8 % annually. World has installed capacity of 120 MT of Methanol and will be about 200 MT by 2025.
  • Currently Methanol accounts for almost 9% of transport fuel in China.

Why Methanol?

  • Methanol burns efficiently in all internal combustion engines, produces no particulate matter, no soot, almost nil SOX and NOX emissions (NEAR ZERO POLLUTION).
  • The gaseous version of Methanol – DME can blended with LPG and can be excellent substitute for diesel in Large buses and trucks.
  1. India International Science Festival (IISF-2018).
  • Being organised in Lucknow with huge participation of scientists, students and experts from across the country and abroad
  • Theme is “Science for Transformation
  • IISF is conceivably the biggest platform in India that brings together students, researchers, artists and general public to celebrate our nation’s achievements in science and technology
  • All stakeholders have assembled to collectively work towards “Vigyan se Vikas”- contributing to the Making of a New India.
  • Major attention in coming days are two World record attempts in IISF 2018, one of which is a World Record attempt to “isolate DNA” by 500 students from class 8th to 10th standard
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