Current Affairs for BANK, IBPS Exams - 10 December 2017

Bank Exam Current Affairs

Current Affairs for BANK, IBPS Exams - 10 December 2017


Representation of OBCs in the workforce in Central Government offices less than 27%

  • At a time when President Ram Nath Kovind has appointed a five-member commission to examine sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) “to achieve greater social justice,”.
  • A reality check shows that representation of OBCs in the workforce in Central Government offices falls far short of achieving the 27% quota recommended by the Mandal Commission.
  • Data furnished under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by 24 of the 35 Union Ministries, 25 of the 37 Central departments and various constitutional bodies reveal that 24 years since the implementation of the Mandal Commission recommendations the OBCs have not optimally benefited from it.
  • Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) show that as on January 1, 2017, only 17% of the Group A officers in the 24 Ministries belong to the OBCs. The representation among the Group B officers is even lower at 14%.
  • Likewise, only 11% of the Group C employees are from the OBCs and in Group D, the figure is 10%. (See Graphic)
  • Incidentally, in July last year, Union Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh informed the Lok Sabha that as on January 1, 2014, OBC representation in 71 Ministries/Departments was 19.28%.
  • A reason, he cited, for the shortfall in meeting the Mandal Commission mandate was that OBC candidates appointed up to 1993 (when reservation kicked in) were not included for counting their representation.
  • Besides, he said, there is generally a time gap between occurrence of vacancies and filling them as recruitment is a time-consuming process.
  • Cut to the present: in the cumulative staffing position of the 24 Ministries, 25 departments (out of 37) and eight constitutional bodies (such as the PMO, the President’s Secretariat and the ECI), which provided information under the RTI Act — 14% of Group A officers are from the OBCs.
  • The figures for Group B, C and D employees are 15%, 17% and 18% respectively. In some cases, the under representation of OBCs is glaring.
  • For instance, in the Cabinet Secretariat, which has 64 Group A officers, not one is from the OBCs, whereas 60 belong to the Open Competition (OC) category and four are from the Scheduled Castes.

Indians are more likely to have a vehicle or life insurance than health insurance

  • Indians are more likely to have a vehicle or life insurance than health insurance, according to a survey by private research firm, Chrome Data Analytics and Media (CDAM).
  • Only 31% of Indians had medical policies independent of those provided by their employers inspite of nearly half the survey respondents admitting to having faced a “financial emergency” due to medical needs.
  • This was because the bulk of Indians weren’t correctly estimating the potential pitfall — of exorbitant bills — from not having insurance and only saw it from the lens of tax benefits.
  • While a vehicle insurance was mandatory, a life cover too was popular because of tax benefits and not due to having a succession plan in place, he added.
  • The survey polled about 4,000 people — 51% of them women — from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Pune and Bengaluru. While some had multiple policies, it emerged that 41% of those interviewed had a life insurance policy and 37%, one for their vehicle.
  • Only 36% had a health cover. Moreover, 87% of those considering health insurance were only doing so to save tax, the survey reported.
  • The number of lives covered under health insurance policies during 2015-16 was 36 crore which is approximately 30% of India's total population, according to the Indian Brand Equity Foundation.

India State-Level Disease Burden report

  • The India State-Level Disease Burden report, a first-of-its-kind assessment of causes for diseases in each State from 1990 to 2016, was released recently.
  • A team of scientists evaluated the diseases causing the most premature deaths and ill-health in each State. It found out, for instance, that life expectancy at birth in the country has improved significantly.
  • However, the report indicated many health inequalities among States, noting that while there was a fall in the under-five mortality in every State there was also a four-fold difference in the rate of improvement among them.
  • The report pointed out with researchers attributing this to differences in the development status, environment, lifestyle patterns, preventive health measures and curative health services between the States.
  • “In the most developed States this transition took place about 30 years ago, but in the poorest States this transition has taken place only over the past few years,” the report said.
  • It explained that infectious and childhood diseases continue to be significant problems in the poor Empowered Action Group States of north India, which still contributes 37-43% of the total disease burden.
  • These diseases are responsible for the inordinately high burden of premature deaths and morbidity suffered by children under five years of age in these States.
  • The results show that non-communicable disease and injuries have together overtaken infectious and childhood diseases in terms of disease burden in every State, but the magnitude of this transition varies markedly between the poor States and the more developed States.
  • It was the result of a collaboration between the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Public Health Foundation of India, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, and senior experts and stakeholders from about 100 institutions across India.
  • The India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative was led by Dr. Lalit Dandona, who serves as the director of this initiative, and was guided by Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director- General, World Health Organisation.
  • The India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative will update estimates annually for each State based on new data that become available. It will also provide more detailed findings: for example, next year it plans to report the rural-urban differences in disease burden for each State.
  • Detailed topic-specific reports and publications will be produced for major diseases and risk factors for deeper insights to plan their control.
  • The policy applications of these findings include planning of State health budgets, prioritisation of interventions relevant to each State, informing the government’s Health Assurance Mission in each State, monitoring of health-related Sustainable Development Goals targets.
  • Another important aspect of this major collaborative effort is that scientific capacity is being enhanced in India to generate and analyse large-scale health data, as well as to utilise it to improve our health.

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Sri lanka formally handed over the strategic southern port to China

  • Sri Lanka formally handed over the strategic southern port of Hambantota to China on a 99- year lease, in a deal dubbed by the Opposition as a sell-out.
  • Two Chinese firms — Hambantota International Port Group and Hambantota International Port Services managed by the China Merchants Port Holdings Company and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority — will own the port and the investment zone around it, officials said.
  • Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe during a visit to China in April had agreed to swap equity in Chinese infrastructure projects launched by former President Mahinda Rajapakse in his home district.
  • Sri Lanka owed China $8 billion, then Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said last year.
  • “With this agreement, we have started to pay back the loans. Hambantota will be converted to a major port in the Indian Ocean,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said while addressing the handing-over ceremony held in Parliament.
  • “There will be an economic zone and industrialisation in the area, which will lead to economic development and promote tourism,” the Prime Minister said.

India-China soft power embrace appears to be getting warmer

  • The India-China soft power embrace, evident from the runaway success of Aamir Khan’s Dangal , appears to be getting warmer.
  • They were attracted by the prospects of a joint on-stage dance and musical performance by Indian and Chinese artistes. Rukmini Chatterjee, the veteran choreographer and dancer, was marshalling the performance from the Indian side.
  • The fluidity, energy and masculine elegance of the Chinese artistes — Chen Xin, Chen Xiuzhuang, Jia Tianyu and others — belonging to The Beijing City Contemporary Dance Company, blended easily with the feminine grace of the Indian performers.
  • Nevertheless, the choreographer, who spent 27 years in Paris before moving into India, is all for a pervasive Indian and Chinese artistic communication in the future.
  • Among other undertakings which have kept India’s soft-power push alive, yoga, arguably, continues to remain on top of the tree. In fact, China’s Minzu University, headquartered in Kunming, has now begun to offer the country’s first master’s degree in yoga.
  • The three-year course will include two years of study in China and a final year in India. Classes will be detailed, covering lessons on yoga asanas, yoga physiology, yoga anatomy, yoga therapy and meridian theory, so central to acupuncture in traditional Chinese medicine.

::Business and Economy::

India highlighted the difficulties faced by services suppliers from developing economies

  • Ahead of the December 10-13 meeting of the WTO highest decision-making body, India has highlighted the difficulties faced by services suppliers from developing economies in complying with rich countries’ complex domestic regulations.
  • India also rejected attempts by some WTO Members such as European Union and Canada to include ‘gender equality’ in the services trade negotiations agenda.
  • According to a November 27 WTO report, “the state of play in the services negotiations covers four areas: services trade facilitation, services related to e-commerce, market access, and domestic regulation.”
  • The WTO’s Ministerial Conference will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In a submission to the WTO on December 5, India said, “Service suppliers, particularly those of developing country Members, face numerous difficulties in complying with complex domestic regulations brought out by developed country Members.”
  • It particularly emphasised hurdles faced by ‘natural persons supplying services in foreign jurisdictions.’
  • Incidentally, India is pushing for a Trade Facilitation in Services Agreement, which also aims to ensure easing rules regarding movement of professionals and skilled workers across borders for temporary work/projects.
  • On gender-related issues (or women’s economic empowerment) including the proposed disciplines on gender equality, India said, “…while we strongly support gender equality in all areas, we cannot agree with proponents that gender is a trade-related issue which can be meaningfully addressed through Domestic Regulation (DR) disciplines.”
  • On services related to e-commerce and services trade facilitation, the report had said, “In view of the limited time available before the Ministerial, proponents in these two areas [India’s TFS proposal as well as the EU proposal for rules to facilitate online service transactions focusing on the issues of electronic contracts”
  • “No outcome in the form of an agreed text can be expected in Buenos Aires in these areas, and the proponents agree with this assessment…”
  • The report added that “in terms of post-Buenos Aires work on these two topics, India and the EU have communicated their intention to re-engage on services trade facilitation and online transactions, respectively, after the Ministerial Conference.”

Education 4.0 is putting students at the heart of educational experience

  • Education 4.0 is putting students at the heart of educational experience and creating individual learning experiences. Education 1.0 was the traditional method of students going to a Gurukul in India. Then came the universities as in Takshila and Nalanda in India.
  • Then Universities came up in Europe. Then you had the industrial revolution which demanded a large number of people who could be trained. There, student read books, sat down and listened to the teachers.
  • They had a course, they had a curriculum and then they obtained a certificate to earn a livelihood.
  • In Education 4.0, students can create a degree of their own, are able to do a degree in nuclear science [combining it] with biotechnology, with dance, with music or with fundamental physics or something like that.
  • The mix and match is available and can be done offline or online. A student can sit at home do a course online and get a degree.
  • It’s already happening in the world. Many students will ask themselves why they need a university degree? Why can’t they do things on their own?
  • Employers will ask what the value of a university degree is? It is happening but slowly in India because lots of people have a common education system and they still want a degree. We see change all over the world and in next 5-10 years we see acceleration and an increase in people taking such certification.
  • For that we need to see which are the best institutes in the world and what the catalyst is. The best institutes are Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge and they are so good because they decide what they want to do.
  • They decide on courses, examinations... No Government and no regulator interference. The U.S. and U.K. governments just give money. We need to give full freedom to the top 100 education institutions and in the next five years we will see a change. We also need public funding for research.
  • The government should have a Rs. 5,000 crore annual fund for research and all universities should bid for it.
  • The biggest disappointment of the NDA government is that they have not done much in the education sector. Only now since Prakash Javdekar has come in do we see a focus on institutions of national importance
  • It is because there is control. Government is not giving approval to private sector people. Those who gave bribes got the approval.
  • At one point, there were 4,500-5,000 engineering colleges in one year. How did they come up? They all gave money. The system is rotten, it’s corrupt, and the bad people got it. Now, we are getting good universities.

::Science and Tech::

IISER synthesised a new type of anode material to make quick charging battery possible

  • One of the factors that determine the success of electric vehicles is the availability of batteries that can be charged quickly and retain enough charge to make long distance travel possible per charge.
  • Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Pune have synthesised a new type of anode material to make such a battery possible.
  • Unlike graphite anode-containing lithium ion batteries that have capacity of just 372mAh/gram, the anode synthesised by IISER researchers has double the capacity of about 720mAh/gram. The capacity remained the same even after 1,000 charge-discharge cycles.
  • The high capacity was seen when the rate of charging/discharging was 100mA/gram. But when the battery was charged quickly (1A/gram), the capacity reduced by about 20% (about 580mAh/gram).
  • “And even when the battery was charged rapidly (2A/gram), the capacity was still around 500mAh/gram, which is much higher than the graphite-containing battery.” He is one of the corresponding authors of a paper published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.
  • The researchers tested the capacity by replacing the graphite anode with the novel material (covalent organic framework) and used lithium metal as the cathode and not lithium cobaltate (LiCoO2), which is normally used as the cathode.
  • When tested in a full-cell configuration, the charge will be lower than what has been observed by the researchers. This is because the kinetics of lithium diffusion will be different depending on the cathode material used and the configuration of the battery.
  • The anode made of a few-layer thick (6-8 layers) nanosheets has pores lined by functional groups capable of interacting with lithium ions. The pores provide an easy path for diffusion of lithium ions and helps access the functional groups, which are sites of lithium ion interaction.
  • The ease with which lithium ions go in and come out of the nanosheet anode changes when the time taken to charge the battery changes. When it is charged quickly, the efficiency of lithium ions diffusion drops and capacity of the battery reduces.
  • The anode was tested in a coin cell and not a bigger battery that would typically be used in electric automobiles. The researchers are trying to scale-up the battery so that it can potentially be used for applications that need higher battery output.

A nano-array with one billion transistors

  • A nano-array with one billion transistors in 1 sq. cm area has been developed by researchers from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bengaluru.
  • Though tiny, these transistors provide higher output current in comparison with conventional organic field transistors used in organic light emitting diodes. As the new device is not rigid and uses organic semiconductor inks, it can also be used in flexible displays and sensor technology.
  • They developed the new vertical organic transistors called Organic Nano-Triode Array. “At 100 nm, each transistor in the circuit measures 500 times thinner than the human hair and it is half a micron in height. We made it in the lab using a simple templating technique”.
  • The cost per transistor is drastically scaled down with this procedure. “Curved, flexible and foldable device technology is increasing every day and these new electronic products require smarter, slimmer circuits which can provide high throughput at low cost.
  • The researchers carried out two types of measurements to study the capacity of the nano-array. The first one is the typical transistor measurement of the entire array. The second set of measurements involved studying each pore of the array and demonstrating its transistor action.
  • They concluded that the new transistor can be turned-ON to the high conducting state with a low voltage of less than 3 V.
  • The molecular electronics laboratory at JNCASR is building a portfolio of different devices in the area of organic electronics. Further design and development is needed to fully address these vertical transistors as functional blocks to build circuits.

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