Insights Daily Current Affairs, 01 February 2018
Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
Context: The four-day ‘Sammakka – Saralamma Jatara’ at Medaram in Telangana has begun. Considered the biggest tribal festival across South Asia, the Jatara witnesses a huge number of devotees thronging the village to take the blessings of Goddess Sammaka-Saralamma.
About the Medaram’s Sammakka-Sarakka/Saralamma Jatara:
What is it? Sammakka-Sarakka Jatara held by forest dwelling Koya tribe of Telangana and surrounding States, is the biggest Tribal festival in Asia which is attended by one crore people on an average.
Why is it held? The event is held bi-annually to honour the twin goddesses Sammakka and her daughter Sarakka. Several communities in Telangana society support Jatara as it is also a mythical narrative of two tribal women leaders who fought against the Kakatiya rulers who tried to annex their land and forests. According to the myth it was Sammakka’s curse which caused gradual decline and death of Kakatiya rule.
Facts for Prelims:
Where is Medaram located? Medaram is a remote place in the Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary, a part of Dandakaranya, the largest surviving forest belt in the Deccan.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
Context: The Economist Intelligence Unit has released 2017 Democracy Index report. The report shows that democracy is in decline across the world. It is the worst performance since 2010-’11 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
The index ranks 165 independent states and two territories on the basis of five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture. The list has been divided into four broad categories — full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime and authoritarian regime.
Performance of various countries:
Top and bottom countries: Norway, Iceland and Sweden are the top three on the list while Chad, Syria and North Korea bring up the bottom.
Performance of India: The total score of 89 countries fell when compared to their ranking in 2016. India was one of the countries whose score declined the most. It fell ten places in the rankings from 32 to 42 as its score deteriorated by 0.58 points to 7.23 (on a scale of 0 to 10). In the ‘media freedom ranking’, India ranked 49 out of 167 countries that the index covered.
Continents: Asia recorded the biggest decline compared to other regions of the world. According to the index, Asia (5.63) lagged behind North America (8.56), Western Europe (8.38) and Latin America (6.26). Indonesia was the worst-performing nation, falling to 68th position from 48th rank.
Classification: Only top-19 countries have been classified as ‘full democracies’, while the hybrid regimes include Pakistan (110th), Bangladesh (92nd), Nepal (94th) and Bhutan (99th). Those named as ‘authoritarian regimes’ include China (139th), Myanmar (120th), Russia (135th) and Vietnam (140th). North Korea is ranked the lowest at 167th, while Syria is a notch better at 166th place.
What lies behind India’s poor performance?
The report has classified India as a flawed democracy and attributed the dip in India’s rankings to lack of freedom of speech and free media. The report notes that the rise of conservative religious ideologies has mainly affected India. The strengthening of right-wing Hindu forces in an otherwise secular country led to a rise of vigilantism and violence against minority communities, particularly Muslims, as well as other dissenting voices.
In some states in India, the authorities there have restricted freedom of the press, closed down several newspapers and heavily controlled mobile internet services. Several journalists were murdered in India in 2017, as in the previous year.
A Human Rights Watch report published on January 22 had also alleged that Indian failed to protect its minorities in 2017. This report should serve as a warning sign for the country. Urgent steps are needed to protect democratic values of the country, without which our fundamental credentials as a democracy will be seriously undermined.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena.
‘Super Blue Blood Moon’
Context: Large parts of the globe experienced a rare ‘Super Blue Blood Moon’ on January 31st, 2018. A supermoon, a blue moon and a total lunar eclipse took place at the same time.
So, what is a ‘Super Blue Blood Moon?’
A ‘Super Moon’ is simply a moon that is closer to the Earth than normal. As a result, it appears bigger and brighter in the sky.
A ‘Blue Moon’ is also simple and means the second full moon in a calendar month.
A ‘Blood Moon’ happens when sunlight passes through the atmosphere above the Earth, casting a dark colour across the surface of the moon.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
Coach Factory in Marathwada, Maharashtra
A massive rail coach factory will be set up in Latur, Maharashtra by Indian Railways. This plant would manufacture Electric Multiple Units for suburban trains and coaches for metros.
Significance of the project:
Marathwada, the region where Latur lies, is amongst the most backward areas of Maharashtra. There have been few central government projects in this region. This will massively benefit ‘Make in India’, and bring employment to a large number of people. In addition, it will create an industrial ecosystem in the drought prone region boosting shift from agriculture to industry. It may be noted that the region suffers from heavy migration to other parts of the country.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP)
Context: Post-graduates and doctorates from premier institutes are going to teach undergraduates in engineering colleges in backward regions of 11 districts as part of an HRD Ministry initiative. This is being done under the third phase of Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP). The initiative is aimed to improve quality of education and help secure NBA accreditation of the engineering programme.
Under the initiative there will be focus on seven districts which have been called aspirational. They include Gaya and Muzaffarpur in Bihar, Kalahandi in Orissa and Dumka in Jharkhand.
Significance of this move:
There are a lot of vacancies for teachers in engineering colleges in backward states and quality teachers are not willing to go there to teach. Therefore, this initiative aims to address the problem of dearth of well qualified faculty in the country.
TEQIP or Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme is an initiative of the National Project Implementation Unit (NPIU) which implements World Bank Assisted Projects in Technical Education. The initiative is aimed at improving the quality of engineering graduates.
Under this project, all the Government engineering colleges are selected for direct intervention, and all private engineering colleges are selected for indirect intervention. The focus is on the most-backward states like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, North-East, Rajasthan, MP etc.
The measures include:
Institution based: accreditation of the courses through NBA, governance reforms, improving the processes, digital initiatives, securing autonomy for the colleges.
Student based: improving the quality of teaching, teacher training, equipping the class rooms, revision of syllabus, industry interaction, compulsory internships for students, training the students in industry-relevant skills, preparing them for the GATE exam etc.
Technical education of our country is in the threshold of having to undergo major reforms for building a credible professional workforce which has to build the nation for the welfare of our future generations.
Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential.
Government E Marketplace
Context: Government has launched the advanced version of GeM – the Government E Marketplace portal. The new version GeM would offer standardised and enriched catalogue management, powerful search engine, demand aggregation, user rating and analytics.
GeM 3.0 has undergone a digital transformation with superior technology and ability to scale from the previous version. This will bring together many sellers and service providers for products and services across the country under one roof. This will also give a huge uplift for growth of MSME’s, manufacturers & service providers.
Government e-Marketplace (GeM) aims to transform the way in which procurement of goods and services is done by the Government Ministries/Departments, PSUs, autonomous bodies etc. DGS&D with technical support of NeGD (MeitY) has developed GeM portal for procurement of both Products & Services.
GeM is a completely paperless, cashless and system driven e-market place that enables procurement of common use goods and services with minimal human interface.
Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
Context: In response to a submission by Rohingya refugees that the BSF was “pushing back” their compatriots at the borders with chilli spray and stun grenades, the Union government recently told the Supreme Court that it does not want the country to become the refugee capital of the world.
The government said it is in talks and should be allowed to take a decision. There was no contingency as of now and this was not a matter for the court to intervene.
What’s the issue?
Outbreaks of violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar, have forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people to flee their homes. There are numerous reports of widespread violence against men, women and children. Here are five things you need to know about the deepening crisis.
WHO ARE THE ROHINGYA?
Often described as the “world’s most persecuted minority,” the Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic group, mostly concentrated in Rakhine, one of Myanmar’s poorest states. The Rohingya have lived in Myanmar for generations, many migrating from Bangladesh during British rule. After gaining independence, Myanmar, a majority Buddhist nation, refused to acknowledge the Rohingya as citizens, rendering them a stateless people.
Without recognition as citizens or permanent residents of the country, the Rohingya have limited access to education, jobs, and health services, resulting in chronic poverty and marginalization. Violence targeting Rohingya over the last several decades has driven hundreds of thousands to neighboring countries.
Minimum humanitarian morality should be shown to the refugees at the border before sending them back. There is a need to balance national interests with humanitarian concern about the refugees.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology.
Context: In a recent pilot project, the ministry of electronics and IT successfully tested a technology called LiFi (Light Fidelity), which uses LED bulbs and light spectrum to transmit data at speeds as high as 10 GB per second over a 1-km radius. Indications are strong that it will be soon launched in India on a commercial basis.
The idea is to connect difficult terrains of the country that can’t be reached by fiber but have access to electricity. The technology can be used to connect hospitals where regular internet signals interfere with certain equipment as well as to provide underwater connectivity.
What is Li-Fi?
Li-Fi, or light fidelity, invented by German physicist and professor Harald Haas, is a wireless technology that makes use of visible light in place of radio waves to transmit data at terabits per second speeds—more than 100 times the speed of Wi-Fi.
How it works?
Li-Fi is a Visible Light Communications (VLC) system. This means that it accommodates a photo-detector to receive light signals and a signal processing element to convert the data into ‘stream-able’ content. Unlike Wi-Fi, which uses radio waves, Li-Fi runs on visible light.
Here, data is fed into an LED light bulb (with signal processing technology), it then sends data (embedded in its beam) at rapid speeds to the photo-detector (photodiode). The tiny changes in the rapid dimming of LED bulbs is then converted by the ‘receiver’ into electrical signal. The signal is then converted back into a binary data stream that the user would recognise as web, video and audio applications that run on internet enables devices.
An LED lightbulb is a semi-conductor light source meaning that the constant current of electricity supplied to an LED lightbulb can be dipped and dimmed, up and down at extremely high speeds, without being visible to the human eye.
- Li-Fi could make a huge impact on the internet of things too, with data transferred at much higher levels with even more devices able to connect to one another.
- Li-Fi offers great promise to overcome the existing limitations of Wi-Fi by providing for data-heavy communication in short ranges.
- Due to its shorter range, Li-Fi is more secure than Wi-Fi.
- Since it does not pollute, it can be called a green technology for device-to-device communication in the Internet of Things (IoT).
- Li-Fi systems consume less power.
Limitations of Li-Fi:
- As visual light can’t pass through opaque objects and needs line of sight for communication, its range will remain very restricted to start with. In order to enjoy full connectivity, more capable LED bulbs will need to be placed at various places.
- Li-Fi requires the lightbulb is on at all times to provide connectivity, meaning that the lights will need to be on during the day.
- Li-Fi is likely to face interference from external light sources, such as sunlight and bulbs, and obstructions in the path of transmission, and hence may cause interruptions in communication.
- Also, initially, there will be high installation costs of visual light communication systems as an add-on to lighting systems.
Facts for Prelims:
Floating island to come up on Neknampur Lake:
A floating island of 2,500 sq.ft with about 3,500 wetland plants will be introduced on the Neknampur Lake in Hyderabad on the eve of World Wetland Day on February 2nd. It will be introduced by Dhruvansh, a voluntary organisation working for protection of water bodies.
The ‘island platform’ has been designed using styrofoam, bamboo, gunny bags, coir and so on and could bear the weight of four persons, according to Madhulika Choudhary of the body.