Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - December 26, 2017

Operation Sadbhavana PM meets students from Jammu and Kashmir

  • A group of 30 schoolgirls, from Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi today in New Delhi.
  • The students are currently on a tour to various parts of the country, as part of Operation Sadbhavna organised regularly by the Indian Army.
  • The Prime Minister interacted with the students, on various subjects such as education – especially education of the girl child; Swachh Bharat, and their dreams and aspirations.

Enlighten about Sadbhavana

  • ‘Operation Sadbhavana' is a part of continuing efforts of Indian Army towards integrating the inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir with the national mainstream

Good Governance Day – 25th Dec.

What-

  • The Good Governance Day (GGD)

When-

  • Celebrated every year in India on December 25

Why-

  • To mark the birthday anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Enlighten about the day -

  • The day was established by Central Government in 2014 to honor Vajpayee by fostering awareness among the people of accountability in government.

Objectives of GGD

  • It aims to make people aware about government commitment for providing a transparent and accountable administration in the country.
  • It is also celebrated to enhance the welfare and betterment of the people.
  • It is celebrated to standardise government functioning and make it highly effective and accountable governance for the citizens of the country.
  • It also seeks to implement good and effective policies to complete mission of good governance in India.
  • It also seeks to enhance growth and development in the country through good governance.
  • It also strives to bring citizens closer to government to make them active participants in good governance process.

Government Initiatives -

electronic-Human Resource Management System (e-HRMS)

Implementing body -

  • The Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions

When -

  • on the occasion of Good Governance Day (25 December).

Enlighten about e-HRMS –

  • The e-HRMS was launched as a step towards the ease of governance and is in lines with Government’s goal of minimum government, maximum governance.
  • 25 applications of five modules of the system were also launched.
  • e-HRMS is an online platform for central government employees to apply for leave and access their service-related information.
  • It will enable these employees to see all their details with respect to service book, leave, salary, GPF, etc. and also apply for different kind of claims and reimbursements, loan and advances, leave, leave encashment, LTC advances, tour etc. on a single platform
  • The system is designed in such a way to obtain all management-related inputs and reports through its dashboard.
  • It will enable senior authorities to check all pendency of data updating as well as claims, which will in turn instil more responsibility and accountability among all government servants.
  • The launch of e-HRMS is in the direction of fully automated human resource management system with target to bring all government employees on employee portal.
  • Such automated system will take care of all processes of personnel management from hiring to retiring on digital platform and dispense manual system of management

Institutions

National Company Law Tribunal

  • Since the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) was set up 18 months ago, over 4,300 cases have been filed at its various benches for resolution process, according to the Reserve Bank data.
  • Of these, more than 500 applications seeking admission for insolvency proceedings were rejected, dismissed or withdrawn.

CL Enlightens about NCLT -

  • National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) is a quasi-judicial body that will govern the companies in India.
  • It was established under the Companies Act, 2013 and is a successor body of the Company Law Board.
  • NCLT will have the same powers as assigned to the erstwhile Company Law Board (which are mostly related to dealing with oppression and mismanagement), Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR)(revival of sick companies) and powers related to winding up of companies (which was available only with the High Courts).
  • The setting up of NCLT as a specialized institution for corporate justice is based on the recommendations of the Justice Eradi Committee on Law Relating to Insolvency and Winding up of Companies.

Bills

The Prevention Of Torture Bill

  • The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2017 has been introduced in the Parliament as a private member’s bill.
  • Private members’ bills can be introduced by any member of Parliament who is not a minister but seldom get enacted.

CL Enlightens About the Bill:

  • The Bill proposes at least three years of imprisonment for a public servant who inflicts torture on anybody for a confession or even for information that may lead to the detection of an offence.
  • The punishment could be extended to ten years.
  • A public servant who intentionally does any act to cause grievous harm to somebody, even if in police custody, shall be punished.

Significance of this move

  • The proposed legislation fulfils India’s commitment, as confirmed to the United Nations, that “torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” are prohibited and constitute serious violations of human rights.
  • The 152nd report of the Law Commission on “Custodial Crimes” had also recommended changes to the law to make torture punishable.
  • India is one of only eight countries out of 170 signatories to the United Nations convention against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment yet to ratify it.

UN convention against torture:

  • India has signed the UN Convention against torture way back in 1997.
  • But, it has still not ratified it. The Convention defines torture as a criminal offence.
  • The Convention requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction, and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured.

International News

New Sanctions On North Korea

  • The UN Security Council has unanimously voted to impose tough new sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s latest missile test.
  • The restrictions, proposed by the US, are designed to prevent Pyongyang from furthering its nuclear programme. The move was a “significant ramping up” of sanctions against North Korea.

CL Enlightens about the sanctions

  • The sanctions include a ban on nearly 90% of refined petroleum exports to North Korea.
  • The resolution also orders North Koreans who work abroad to return to the country within 24 months.
  • The resolution also contains a commitment to the resumption of “six-party talks”, leaving the door open for possible diplomatic negotiations.
  • The six-party talks are a diplomatic effort, which aim to find a peaceful solution to security concerns in the Korean Peninsula.
  • They involve North Korea, South Korea and the US, along with regional powers China, Japan and Russia.
  • The last six-party talks were held in 2009.

Why this move -

  • The idea is to squeeze North Korea as tightly as possible to reduce its income, reduce its revenues, and in that way hopefully drive it to the negotiating table and also for it to stop its missile development process.

The Past Record -

  • Last month, the US unveiled fresh sanctions against North Korea which it said were designed to limit the funding for its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
  • The measures targeted North Korean shipping operations and Chinese companies that trade with Pyongyang.
  • The UN also approved new sanctions following North Korea’s nuclear test on 3 September.
  • These measures restricted oil imports and banned textile exports – an attempt to starve the North of fuel and income for its weapons programmes.
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s government has conducted several missile tests this year, which have drawn condemnation from the international community.
  • Recently, in November 2017, it had successfully conducted a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the US mainland.
  • The missile is said to be the “most powerful ICBM” yet to be tested by the country. It was the third test of an ICBM by North Korea this year.
  • It described the latest UN sanctions “as a violent breach of our republic’s sovereignty and an act of war that destroys the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and a wide region.

Science & Tech

Reservoir Computing System

  • Scientists have developed a new type of neural network chip that can dramatically improve the efficiency of teaching machines to think like humans.
  • The network is called- Reservoir Computing System.

CL Enlightens

  • Researchers from University of Michigan in the US created their system using memristors, which require less space and can be integrated more easily into existing silicon-based electronics.
  • Memristors are a special type of resistive device that can both perform logic and store data.

Mechanism :

  • Researchers used a special memristor that memorises events only in the near history.
  • Inspired by brains, neural networks are composed of neurons, or nodes, and synapses, the connections between nodes.
  • To train a neural network for a task, a neural network takes in a large set of questions and the answers to those questions.
  • In this process of what’s called supervised learning, the connections between nodes are weighted more heavily or lightly to minimise the amount of error in achieving the correct answer.
  • Once trained, a neural network can then be tested without knowing the answer. For example, a system can process a new photo and correctly identify a human face, because it has learned the features of human faces from other photos in its training set.
  • Reservoir computing systems built with memristors can skip most of the expensive training process and still provide the network the capability to remember.
  • This is because the most critical component of the system – the reservoir – does not require training.
  • When a set of data is inputted into the reservoir, the reservoir identifies important time-related features of the data, and hands it off in a simpler format to a second network.
  • This second network then only needs training like simpler neural networks, changing weights of the features and outputs that the first network passed on until it achieves an acceptable level of error.

Use:

  • The system can predict words before they are said during conversation, and help predict future outcomes based on the present.

India To have its Own Gravitational Wave Detector

  • A new LIGO gravitational wave detector to measure ripples in the fabric of space and time is set to be built in India by 2025, in collaboration with universities from across the globe.
  • The new Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detector will add to the two already operational in the US.
  • A third LIGO detector will help pinpoint the origin of the gravitational waves that are detected in future.

CL Enlightens:

  • The observatory, described as “the most precise measuring device ever built,” is actually two facilities in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington.
  • They were built and operated with funding from the National Science Foundation, which has spent $1.1 billion on LIGO over the course of several decades.
  • The project is led by scientists from the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is supported by an international consortium of scientists and institutions.

Enlighten about Gravitational Waves

  • Gravitational waves are the ripples in the pond of spacetime.
  • The gravity of large objects warps space and time, or “spacetime” as physicists call it, the way a bowling ball changes the shape of a trampoline as it rolls around on it.
  • Smaller objects will move differently as a result – like marbles spiraling toward a bowling-ball-sized dent in a trampoline instead of sitting on a flat surface.

Is it difficult to detect these waves?

  • The reason that gravitational waves have been so difficult to detect is that their effects are tinier than tiny.
  • In fact, the signals they produce are so small that scientists struggle to remove enough background noise to confirm them.

Economy

Odisha as a Champion State

  • The Centre has recognised Odisha as a ‘Champion State’ for recording the highest growth in exports during 2016-17.
  • The exports from the state have increased from Rs 19,082 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 40,872 crore in 2016-17 with merchandise exports from Odisha registering the highest growth rate of 114% among all the states.

Country’s First AC Suburban local train

  • The Indian Railways has flagged off the country’s first air-conditioned suburban local train for Mumbai commuters, 150 years after the first suburban local was hauled by a steam engine in 1867.
  • Manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, the fully air-conditioned air-suspension coaches have a capacity of carrying nearly 6,000 commuters per rake, automatic door opening-closing system, LED lights, Emergency Talk Back System between commuters and guard besides a public address system and advanced GPS-based passenger information systems.