Current Affairs, 08 October 2018
G.S Paper 1:
Topic: Women and related issues.
“Future of Work in India” survey by WEF
What to study?
- For Prelims: About WEF and highlights of its report.
- For Mains: Significance of the report, concerns raised and challenges ahead.
Context: “Future of Work in India” survey report has been released by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
- The “Future of Work in India” survey of of 770 companies conducted by the WEF (World Economic Forum) included various sectors such as textiles, banking & financial services, transport & logistics, and retail.
Highlights and findings of the report:
Major gender gap in Indian corporates: Four out of five retail firms hire less than 10% women. Companies in India experiencing the highest growth prefer hiring men and technology-led job growth benefits men more than women. Notably, while one in three companies preferred hiring men, only one in 10 companies said they wanted to hire more women, accentuating the gender gap rampant in the country.
Statistics: The report found that just 2.4% of these have half or more female employees, and as many as 71% have fewer than 10%. Out of this 71%, 30% companies have no female employees, and another 32% have less than 5%. The sector-wise breakup showed that 79% companies in retail, and 77% in transport & logistics, have less than 10% female employees, while banking & finance companies have 61% female participation and textiles 64%.
Global comparison: India’s female workforce participation is mere 27% and stands 23% points lower than global average. Jobs in India are experiencing highest growth and companies are hiring women at only 26%. Women in India are entering workforce at a slower rate than current female workforce participation.
More than 33% of the total companies said that they prefer to hire men, as compared to just over one-tenth that said that they are looking to hire more women going forward. In the last five years, the surveyed companies stated that they hired just 26% female workers in the job roles that saw the most growth, which is less than India’s already low female labour force participation of 27%.
The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.
- The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
- It was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It is independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests. The Forum strives in all its efforts to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest while upholding the highest standards of governance. Moral and intellectual integrity is at the heart of everything it does.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Task force for closing skills gap in India
What to study?
- For Prelims: About the Task force and its functions.
- For Mains: Significance of the task force, skills gap in India.
Context: The government has launched a task force for closing the skills gap in India, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum.
- The Task Force is the second country-led public-private collaboration of the World Economic Forum’s Closing the Skills Gap Project after South Africa.
About Closing the skills gap task force:
- The task force will bring together leaders from business, government, civil society and the education and training sectors to accelerate the future-proofing of education and training systems in the country.
- The goal of the Task Force is to develop an action plan to address skills gaps in India and make the Indian workforce ready for jobs of future.
With more than half of our population in the working age, skills development will be critical to sustaining inclusive growth and development in India.’ The “Closing the Skills Gap” task force will be a significant step to accelerate the impact on skills development already achieved by bringing together relevant stakeholders to act collectively.
Closing the Skills Gap Project by WEF:
The Closing the Skills Gap Project aims to create global and national platforms to address current skills gaps and to reshape education and training for the future. It works at three levels:
- Country implementation deep-dives: At the national level, the Closing the Skills Gap Task Forces provides a platform for multi-stakeholder collaboration to close the skills gap and prepare for the future of work. Each Closing the Skills Gap Task Force brings together leaders from business, government, civil society, and education and training sectors to accelerate reskilling and upskilling efforts in the current workforce and the future-proofing of national education and training systems.
- Global and regional knowledge exchange: At the global level, an informal Global Alliance for Closing the Skills Gap provides an exclusive global platform for leaders and experts from business, government, civil society, and the education and training sectors to build consensus, share ideas, and identify preferred models and best practices.
- Global business commitments: With skilling, reskilling and upskilling becoming a clear “no-regret” move for addressing the flux in labour markets, there is a rapid movement of multinational businesses towards such efforts for their employees, communities and wider audience. Managed strategically, this can be impactful and a win-win for companies and workers alike. As a first step, the Forum is consolidating global business commitments with the goal to reach 10 million people by January 2020.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Awareness in space.
Parker Solar Probe
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: About Parker Solar Probe- mission objectives, significance and why study sun and its corona.
Context: NASA’s historic mission- Parker Solar Probe- to solve the mysteries of the Sun has successfully completed its flyby of Venus on October 3rd. The probe successfully completed its flyby of Venus at a distance of about 1,500 miles during the first Venus gravity assist of the mission.
- These gravity assists will help the spacecraft tighten its orbit closer and closer to the Sun over the course of the mission.
Throughout its mission, the probe will make six more Venus gravity assist and 24 total passes by the Sun. This manoeuvre will change Parker Solar Probe’s trajectory to take the spacecraft closer to the Sun.
About the mission:
What is it? NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds. Parker Solar Probe will travel through the sun’s atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.
Journey: In order to unlock the mysteries of the sun’s atmosphere, Parker Solar Probe will use Venus’ gravity during seven flybys over nearly seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the sun. The spacecraft will fly through the sun’s atmosphere as close as 3.9 million miles to our star’s surface, well within the orbit of Mercury and more than seven times closer than any spacecraft has come before.
Goals: The primary science goals for the mission are to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles.
Parker Solar Probe has three detailed science objectives:
- Trace the flow of energy that heats and accelerates the solar corona and solar wind.
- Determine the structure and dynamics of the plasma and magnetic fields at the sources of the solar wind.
- Explore mechanisms that accelerate and transport energetic particles.
Why study corona?
The corona is hotter than the surface of the sun. The corona gives rise to the solar wind, a continuous flow of charged particles that permeates the solar system. Unpredictable solar winds cause disturbances in our planet’s magnetic field and can play havoc with communications technology on Earth. Nasa hopes the findings will enable scientists to forecast changes in Earth’s space environment.
Why do we study the sun and the solar wind?
- The sun is the only star we can study up close. By studying this star we live with, we learn more about stars throughout the universe.
- The sun is a source of light and heat for life on Earth. The more we know about it, the more we can understand how life on Earth developed.
- The sun also affects Earth in less familiar ways. It is the source of the solar wind; a flow of ionized gases from the sun that streams past Earth at speeds of more than 500 km per second (a million miles per hour).
- Disturbances in the solar wind shake Earth’s magnetic field and pump energy into the radiation belts, part of a set of changes in near-Earth space known as space weather.
- Space weather can change the orbits of satellites, shorten their lifetimes, or interfere with onboard electronics. The more we learn about what causes space weather – and how to predict it – the more we can protect the satellites we depend on.
- The solar wind also fills up much of the solar system, dominating the space environment far past Earth. As we send spacecraft and astronauts further and further from home, we must understand this space environment just as early seafarers needed to understand the ocean.
Facts for Prelims:
- The previous closest pass to the Sun was by a probe called Helios 2, which in 1976 came within 27 million miles (43 million km).
- By way of comparison, the average distance from the Sun for Earth is 93 million miles (150 million km).
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
What to study?
- For Prelims: Particulars of the programme.
- For Mains: Challenges involved.
Context: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Russia’s Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities (ROSCOSMOS) have signed an MoU to work together for Gaganyaan.
- As per the MoU, ROSCOSMOS has offered ride to Indian astronaut short visit to International Space Station (ISS) on board Soyuz spacecraft for short training mission in 2022.
- It is India’s first manned space mission. Under it, India is planning to send three humans (Gaganyatris) into space i.e. in low earth orbit (LEO) by 2022 i.e. by 75th Independence Day for period of five to seven days.
- India plans to build a crew vehicle that can accommodate 2 or 3 astronauts and human rate its GLSV Mk-III launcher.
Recent technological advancements:
In what appears to be a preparation for the Gaganyaan mission, ISRO recently conduced its first ‘pad abort’ testthat was successful.
- The ‘pad abort’ test or Crew Escape System is an emergency escape measure that helps pull the crew away from the launch vehicle when a mission has to be aborted. The test was conducted at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.
- The Pad Abort Test demonstrated the safe recovery of the crew module in case of any exigency at the launch pad.
A manned space mission is very different from all other missions that ISRO has so far completed. In terms of complexity and ambition, even the missions to the Moon (Chandrayaan) and Mars (Mangalyaan) are nowhere in comparison.
- For a manned mission, the key distinguishing capabilities that ISRO has had to develop include the ability to bring the spacecraft back to Earth after flight, and to build a spacecraft in which astronauts can live in Earth-like conditions in space.
- If India does launch the Gaganyaan mission, it will be the the fourth nation to do so after the United States, Russia and China.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Conservation and pollution related issues.
National Dolphin Research Centre (NDRC)
What to study?
- For Prelims: About Gangetic Dolphins and NDRC.
- For Mains: Conservation efforts both at National and International levels.
Context: India’s and Asia’s first Dolphin Research Centre will be set up on the banks of the Ganga river in Patna University campus in Patna, Bihar. It will be named- National Dolphin Research Centre (NDRC).
- The announcement for the centre was made on the occasion of Dolphin day (October 5), observed in Bihar for protection and conservation of Gangetic river dolphin to create awareness to save endangered species.
NDRC will play important role in strengthening conservation efforts and research to save endangered mammal whose population is decreasing. Bihar is home to around half of the country’s estimated 3,000 dolphin population.
About Gangetic Dolphins:
- The Ganges River dolphin, or susu, inhabits the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.
- It is classified as endangered by the IUCN.
- This dolphin is among the four “obligate” freshwater dolphins – the other three are the baiji now likely extinct from the Yangtze river in China, the bhulan of the Indus in Pakistan and the boto of the Amazon River in Latin America. Although there are several species of marine dolphins whose ranges include some freshwater habitats, these four species live only in rivers and lakes.
- Being a mammal, the Ganges River dolphin cannot breathe in the water and must surface every 30-120 seconds. Because of the sound it produces when breathing, the animal is popularly referred to as the ‘Susu’.
The survival of the Ganges River dolphin is threatened by unintentional killing through entanglement in fishing gear; directed harvest for dolphin oil, which is used as a fish attractant and for medicinal purposes; water development projects (e.g. water extraction and the construction of barrages, high dams, and embankments); industrial waste and pesticides; municipal sewage discharge and noise from vessel traffic; and overexploitation of prey, mainly due to the widespread use of non-selective fishing gear.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Pollution related issues.
Tiny spheres to trap water contaminants developed
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: BPA- what is it? And how it pollutes water, about the newly developed spheres.
Context: Scientists have created tiny spheres that can catch and destroy bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic chemical used to make plastics that often contaminates water.
Bisphenol A (BPA):
- BPA is commonly used to coat the insides of food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines, and was once a component of baby bottles.
- Concerns: While BPA that seeps into food and drink is considered safe in low doses, prolonged exposure is suspected of affecting the health of children and contributing to high blood pressure.
Tiny spheres to trap BPA- how they function?
- The micron-sized spheres developed resemble tiny flower-like collections of titanium dioxide petals.
- The supple petals provide plenty of surface area for researchers to anchor cyclodextrin — a benign sugar-based molecule often used in food and drugs.
- It has a two-faced structure, with a hydrophobic (water-avoiding) cavity and a hydrophilic (water-attracting) outer surface.
- BPA is hydrophobic and naturally attracted to the cavity. Once trapped, reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by the spheres degrades BPA into harmless chemicals.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
What is it? It is a joint Maritime Exercise between India and Japan. It was started in January 2012 with special focus on Maritime Security Cooperation.
Why in News? The 3rd edition of Japan-India Maritime Exercise (JIMEX) is being held at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. JIMEX-18 is aimed to enhance interoperability, improve understanding and imbibe best practices between navies of two countries.
Nobel Peace Prize:
Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad have jointly been awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. They were given award for their efforts to end use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.
The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by a committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament.
Editorial: A flight path with obstacles
India is one of the fastest-growing markets for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and one of the top UAV importers for military purposes worldwide, says a report.
According to global market intelligence and advisory firm BIS Research, by 2021, the Indian UAV market will reach USD 885.7 million, while the global market size will touch USD 21.47 billion.
Recent Policy of commercial Drones will be a game-changer:
Businesses across industries ranging from real estate developers to power producers in India will be able to use commercial drones for monitoring, and shipping and delivery operations from 1 December as the government unveiled a landmark policy.
The step could help substantially lower the cost of operations at various industries.
These include aerial photography of real estate projects by companies, monitoring equipment at wind and solar power plants, precision delivery of fertilizers, disaster relief, mineral exploration and shipping mail.
However, there are Policy contradictions:
While the rest of the world has been soaring ahead in making the futuristic promise of unmanned flying vehiclesa more immediate reality, India has largely been dragging its feet.
Up until the end of August, flying a drone was mostly illegal here.
With the publication of the drone regulations, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has attempted to give some structure to the development of drone infrastructure in India.
While announcing the publication of these guidelines, Civil Aviation Ministry made two points, the contradictions of which also highlight India’s lack of clarity on what it should do with drones.
- For one, he estimated the potential of the “drone market” in India to be $1 trillion.
- And in the next breath is India’s security environment necessitated extra precautions.
Drones are barred from being flown near the airports, international border, coastline, Parliament, Secretariat complex in State capitals, military installations etc.
The security and privacy risks of allowing drones to fly in an unregulated manner are high. However, if India is to reach even the fraction of the $1 trillion potential, it needs to figure out a more balanced manner of regulation.
The current rules are a start, but only in the sense that they free all drones from their previous illegality.
Missing out on working on these applications early enough will likely have serious repercussions to India’s future competitiveness in the field.
Manufacturers of drones as well as technologists and researchers making applications using drones have to test fly these frequently, often several times a day.
In Nyon, Switzerland, agriculture scientists fly a drone to study nitrogen level in leaves, not for a farm as a whole, but for each individual plant.
The drone takes a large number of images, which when fed into a computer model with data on soil condition, weather, time of the year and other information helps analyse which plants are deficient in nitrogen, enabling farmers to add corrective fertilizer, only where necessary.
Sensefly, a Swiss drone manufacturer, has customers around the World, whose use of drones has resulted in higher yields and significantly lower usage of fertilizers and herbicides.
China’s drone economy of manufacturing and development will be worth $9 billion in 2020, while the U.S’s commercial drone market is expected to be $2.05 billion by 2023 (Global Market Insights).
In India, so many Government authorities are involved in allowing permission. It is inevitable that operators could be slapped easily with real and perceived violations.
The regulation provides for a list of identified areas for testing and demonstration. Flying drones in those areas comes with less paperwork. But, however, the locations are far from technology and development hubs.
Filing a series of applications in multiple copies and waiting for various government departments to respond is not the best way to get started.
For India to compete against these giants, it already has a lot of catching up to do.
The real impact of drones will be in the many applications they will be put to. Agriculture is just one such. They are likely to be the disaster prevention systems, rescue operation leaders, and even public transport providers in the not too distant future.