TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related POLITY 1. A roster of questions INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. Nasheed seeks Indian military intervention in Maldives C. GS3 Related ECONOMY 1. The manufacturing muddle 2. Meeting the target of EVs in India 3. Financial Assistance to AP SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 1. New AI system can train robots for armies 2. Augmented reality tech helps surgeons ‘see through’ the bodys ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY 1. Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 D. GS4 Related E. Prelims Fact F. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS2 Related
1. A roster of questions
- The new roster for allocation of cases in the Supreme Court, with division of work among the judges according to various subject categories, as a move towards greater objectivity or fairness comes on the heels of an important press conference by the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
- The incident clearly shows the dissatisfaction at the manner of allocation of cases and the high-handedness of the Chief Justice of India in asserting his supremacy as master of roster to the exclusion of the senior judges of the court.
- The roster that was to be operationalised from February 5 has risen more speculation and a stronger ground for criticism of the prevailing practice at the Supreme Court.
‘A court of equals’
- Concentration of power in the hands of one person violates the foundations of what Justice P.B. Sawant has called “a court of equals”.
- The Chief Justice of India is only one among equals, with the power to judiciously exercise an important role of constituting benches.
- This authority cannot be used in an autocratic manner defying all norms of equity and justice and in disregard for principles of neutrality, impartiality and transparency.
- Politically sensitive matters should be before the five senior judges of the Supreme Court.
- Among them, the allocation of individual cases must be by random computer allocation not by the individual decision of any human.
- For other cases as well, if there is more than one judge dealing with a particular subject then cases belonging to that subject should be randomly allocated among the various judges to whom that subject has been allocated.
- Collective decision-making was the bedrock that ushered in the collegium system in 1993.
- It laid the foundation of consultative procedures for appointment of judges. When appointments are a collective function, the allocation of important cases must be done collectively or at least in consultation with senior judges of the Supreme Court. This must be done, for greater transparency and accountability will only yield more authority to our Supreme Court as the supreme custodian of people’s rights.
1. Nasheed seeks Indian military intervention in Maldives
- Exiled former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed sought India’s military intervention in the country to release dissidents in prison.
What is the reason for Emergency?
- Nasheed’s appeal came a day after President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency in the Maldives, following a Supreme Court ruling last week that has put the Indian Ocean island back on the boil.
- The apex court ordered the release of nine Opposition leaders, including Mr. Nasheed, and the reinstatement of 12 expelled MPs.
Impact of Emergency
- The turbulence in the country over the last few days prompted some countries to issue travel advisories and security alerts citing potential violence, but President Yameen told the nation in a televised address that there was no enforcement of a curfew, and that neither general movements, services and businesses, nor travel in and out of or within the country was affected.
- The government put out a detailed statement justifying the emergency rule, saying President Yameen had exhausted all venues available to him, legally and protocol wise.
Amendment to decree
- President Yameen also revised and issued a second amendment to the Presidential decree concerning the state of emergency, lifting an Article in the Constitution that said: the Supreme Court shall be the final authority on the interpretation of the Constitution, the law, or any other matter dealt with by a court of law.
- The President added that the apex court overstepped its authority in ordering the politicians released.
- Opposition MPs in Male said they feared being arrested, in the wake of the arrests of a former President, the Chief Justice, and a Supreme Court judge, hours after the government declared emergency.
- According to the President of the Maldives Bar Association and a former Attorney-General, President Yameen needs to send his reasons for declaring emergency within 48 hours to Parliament for its approval.
- The restoration of the 12 MPs into the body, as per the Supreme Court order, would effectively give the Opposition a majority in Parliament.
Call from UN
- Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on the government in Male to lift the state of emergency and guarantee safety for its citizens, including members of the judiciary.
- India issued another statement of concern over the growing crisis in the Maldives, but didn’t respond to former President Mohamed Nasheed’s appeal for military intervention.
- However, the MEA refused to respond to questions about Mr. Nasheed’s call for international intervention.
- Meanwhile defence sources said troops have been put on alert as the situation is still developing in the Maldives. No order has been issued to move any troops or aircraft towards the country, they said. Resources could be mobilised at a short notice, the sources added, but rejected the reports that India was preparing for action.
- Adding to the limitations is the fact that the Maldives has left the Commonwealth, and the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) is not meeting, and neither multilateral fora has much leverage over the Maldivian government at present.
Intervention in 1988
- As New Delhi weighs its options, a former diplomat who was part of previous Indian interventions in the Maldives, including in 1988, when Indian troops defeated a coup d’etat against then President Gayoom, said it would be a mistake to see the situation there in isolation.
- The Maldives is only one part of the troubled region, and a misstep here could become a trigger for other problems for India in South Asia.
C. GS3 Related
1. The manufacturing muddle
- The Union Budget has hardened the correction of the inverted duty structure (IDS), which has adversely impacted manufacturing for decades.
- An IDS means higher duty on intermediate as opposed to final/finished goods, that enjoys concessional custom duty under certain schemes.
- The Budget has raised customs duties significantly; Chinese/other imports have swamped India’s small- and medium-sized enterprises and large manufacturing companies, raising the import-intensity of manufacturing as well as dampening job growth by raising capital intensity.
- So the share of manufacturing in GDP and employment has not risen since 1991.
- ‘Make in India’ dream is to realize that India becomes ‘factory of Asia and the world’.
- The goods and services tax (GST), especially the IGST or Integrated GST component, has begun to erode the advantage that the IDS was giving to foreign exporters in Indian markets.
Reasons that gave an edge to Chinese industrial success in comparison to India
- India’s policy structure failed to utilise its labour advantage to grow labour intensive manufacturing exports.
- While China reduced the absolute numbers and percentage of the poor in the population by absorbing surplus labour in manufacturing,
- India’s poverty reduction was much slower.
- While China’s agricultural and rural income growth was much higher as it sustained consumer demand, it also generated industrial jobs much faster.
- Between 2011-12 and 2015-16, the growth of manufacturing jobs not only first slowed after 2011-12 but also became negative.
- Customs duties have been raised on capital goods and electronics, and silica for use in manufacture of telecom grade optical fibre especially among the sectors adversely impacted by the IDS in the past decade.
- Indian manufacturers were suddenly exposed to competition. A slower reduction would have enabled them to adjust to import competition, upgrade technology, and compete.
- Meanwhile, labour force grew sharply to 12 million per annum till 2004-05; as a result of domestic manufacturing employment growth was slow, they could only be absorbed in agriculture or traditional services; and informal employment grew even more than ever before.
- However, these entrants, much better educated than the earlier cohort, are now entering the labour force.
- They want either white-collar jobs in the private or preferably public sector, or in industry or in modern services.
- Recent data such as the government’s Annual Labour Bureau survey, with a sample size larger than the NSS, and the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy indicate that job growth is lower than entrants to the labour force.
- The youthful labour force, between 15 and 29 years, saw a very sharp increase of 40 million, from 147 million to 187 million between 2011-12 and 2015-16.
- The GST, has resulted in a neutralisation of the IDS.
- This has also led to a formalisation of some informal firms, and hence workers (by registration in the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation).
- The resolution of the twin balance sheet problems (of companies being over-leveraged and banks unable to lend due to mounting non-performing assets), together with the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, should now open the floodgates for new manufacturing investment.
- Finally, policy must attempt to close the loop between rising demand and supply through consumer demand, which the Budget attempts through its agriculture and rural infrastructure focus.
2. Meeting the target of EVs in India
- If electric vehicles stood at about 20-25% of the total vehicles registered in 2025, India could consider that it had done a splendid job, the CEO of Tata Motors said.
What is the target of the Government?
- The Centre has proposed moving to 100% electric vehicles by 2030, though the auto industry has recommended that the country should target 40% of personal vehicles and 100% of public transport vehicles to turn electric by then. It has suggested 2047 as the target for all-electric passenger vehicles.
- Strong growth in the electric vehicle segment would also lead to the automatic promotion of fuel cell vehicles as well.
- In a presentation, the CEO claimed that India could be the world’s third largest auto market by 2026, with a revenue of $300 billion. The auto industry was looking at growth of 10-15% for the next five years.
- All industry players did not have a level playing field as they moved to implement BS-VI standards by April 1, 2020.
- Some of Tata Motors’ competitors already had off-the-shelf technology in other parts of the world, which they could bring to India.
- According to the Tata Motors CEO, a different standard of infrastructure and a new kind of service station would be required to cater to electric vehicles.
- India needed solid competency in the manufacturing of electric vehicles. For instance, countries like South Korea and China had already established competencies in this field.
3. Financial Assistance to AP
- The Union government is working out an alternative mechanism to extend financial assistance to Andhra Pradesh.
- During the Motion of Thanks on the President’s address, TDP members gathered in the Well of the House raising slogans in support of their demand and expressing their grievances.
- The Finance Minister then intervened, giving an assurance that the government was looking into the issue. He said efforts were being made to ensure that every part of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act and the commitments made by the Central government at all the stages were honoured.
- About the funds to given in lieu of the special package, he said the State government had requested that it be given by way of externally aided programmes. The decision was taken to cover the difference of 30% funds coming from the Centre, between the Central schemes and the amount as provided under Special Status.
- The Chief Minister wrote to him suggesting that the programmes be funded through NABARD. The externally aided schemes were time-consuming as they required approval of external agencies such as the World Bank.
- However, the Finance Minister said, funding through NABARD would create problems with regard to the addition of fiscal deficit, reducing the borrowing space for the State. He said he had asked the Expenditure Secretary to talk to the State’s Finance Secretary to come up with an alternative mechanism.
1. New AI system can train robots for armies
Scientists have developed an artificial intelligence technique that will teach robots and computer programmes to interact with a human instructor and perform tasks for the army.
Who developed it?
- Researchers at the US Army Research Laboratory and the University of Texas at Austin considered a specific case where a human provides real-time feedback in the form of critique.
How does it work?
- First introduced by researchers as Training an Agent Manually via Evaluative Reinforcement (TAMER), the team developed a new algorithm called Deep TAMER.
- It is an extension of TAMER that uses deep learning – a class of machine learning algorithms that are loosely inspired by the brain to provide a robot the ability to learn how to perform tasks by viewing video streams in a short amount of time with a human trainer.
- The team considered situations where a human teaches an agent how to behave by observing it and providing critique, for example, “good job” or “bad job” – similar to the way a person might train a dog to do a trick.
- Many current techniques in artificial intelligence require robots to interact with their environment for extended periods of time to learn how to optimally perform a task.
- During this process, the agent might perform actions that may not only be wrong, like a robot running into a wall for example, but catastrophic like a robot running off the side of a cliff.
- Help from humans will speed things up for the agents, and help them avoid potential pitfalls.
- As a first step, the researchers demonstrated Deep TAMER’s success by using it with 15 minutes of human-provided feedback to train an agent to perform better than humans on the Atari game of bowling – a task that has proven difficult for even state-of-the-art methods in artificial intelligence.
- Deep-TAMER-trained agents exhibited superhuman performance, besting both their amateur trainers and, on average, an expert human Atari player.
- Within the next one to two years, researchers are interested in exploring the applicability of their newest technique in a wider variety of environments: for example, video games other than Atari Bowling and additional simulation environments to better represent the types of agents and environments found when fielding robots in the real world.
- The army of the future will consist of soldiers and autonomous teammates working side-by-side.
- While both humans and autonomous agents can be trained in advance, the team will inevitably be asked to perform tasks, for example, search and rescue or surveillance, in new environments they have not seen before.
- In these situations, humans are remarkably good at generalising their training, but current artificially- intelligent agents are not.
2. Augmented reality tech helps surgeons ‘see through’ the body
- Augmented reality headsets can help doctors ‘see through’ organs and tissues in the operating theatre, and improve the outcome of reconstructive surgery for patients, a study has found.
- In a series of procedures carried out by a team from the Imperial College London in the UK, researchers showed for the first time, how surgeons can use augmented reality headsets while operating on patients undergoing reconstructive lower limb surgery.
- Researchers used Microsoft HoloLens – a computer headset that immerses the wearer in ‘mixed reality’, enabling them to interact with holograms or computer-generated objects made visible through the visor.
- The team used the technology to overlay images of CT scans – including the position of bones and key blood vessels – onto each patient’s leg, in effect, enabling the surgeon to ’see through’ the limb during surgery.
- According to the team trialling the technology, the approach can help surgeons locate and reconnect key blood vessels during reconstructive surgery, which could improve outcomes for patients.
- “We are one of the first groups in the world to use the HoloLens successfully in the operating theatre,” said Philip Pratt, a research fellow at Imperial College London.
- Through this initial series of patient cases we have shown that the technology is practical, and that it can provide a benefit to the surgical team.
- With the HoloLens, you look at the leg and essentially see inside of it. You see the bones, the course of the blood vessels, and can identify exactly where the targets are located.
How it can help?
- Following a car accident or severe trauma, patients may have tissue damage or open wounds that require reconstructive surgery using fasciocutaneous flaps.
- These flaps of tissue, which are taken from elsewhere on the body and include the skin and blood vessels, are used to cover the wound and enable it to close and heal properly.
- A vital step in the process is connecting the blood vessels of the ‘new’ tissue with those at the site of the wound, so oxygenated blood can reach the new tissue and keep it alive.
- The standard approach for this element of reconstructive surgery has been the use of a handheld scanner which uses ultrasound to identify blood vessels under the skin by detecting the movement of blood pulsing through them, enabling the surgeon to approximate where the vessels are and their course through the tissue.
- Augmented reality offers a new way to find these blood vessels under the skin accurately and quickly by overlaying scan images onto the patient during the operation.
How it was used
- In the procedures used to trial the technology, five patients requiring reconstructive surgery on their legs underwent CT scans to map the structure of the limb, including the position of bones and the location and course of blood vessels.
- Images from the scans were then segmented into bone, muscle, fatty tissue and blood vessels and loaded into intermediary software to create 3D models of the leg.
- These models were then fed into specially designed software that renders the images for the headset, which in turn overlays the model onto what the surgeon can see in the operating theatre.
- Clinical staff are able to manipulate these AR images through hand gestures to make any fine adjustments and correctly line up the model with surgical landmarks on the patient’s limbs, such as the knee joint or ankle bone.
1. Solid Waste Management Rules 2016
What is the issue?
- The Centre had come to the court with the voluminous affidavit containing a collection of schemes, official correspondence and other documents on solid waste management across the country. But the court refused to take it on record.
What is the background of the issue?
- The court was hearing a PIL on the implementation of Solid Waste Management Rules 2016. In 2015, the apex court had taken suo motu cognisance of the death of a seven-year-old due to dengue. He was allegedly denied treatment by five private hospitals and his distraught parents had committed suicide.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for Today!!!
E. Prelims Fact
Nothing here for Today!!!
F. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. Consider the following statements in relation to Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.
- These rules extend to households and street vendors as well.
- Duties of waste generators and authorities have been mentioned in the rules.
- There is a provision for reviewing the implementation of these rules on various stages.
Which of the above statement/s is/are correct?
- Only 1
- Only 1 and 2
- Only 1 and 3
- All of the above
Question 2. In which of the following fields do we find applications of Augmented Reality?
- Urban Planning
- 1, 2 and 4 only
- 1, 2, 4 and 6 only
- 1, 2 and 6 only
- All of the above
Question 3. Consider the following statements.
- National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) was formed to promote sustainable and equitable agriculture and rural development.
- It has financial, developmental and supervisory roles.
- Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) created under NABARD can be utilized for agriculture and social sector.
Which of the above statement/s is/are incorrect?
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Only 2 and 3
- None of the above
G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
GS Paper II
- India and Maldives share a historic relationship. Discuss the need for India to resolve the present conflict in Maldives.
GS Paper III
Science and Technology
- What is augmented reality? Discuss the potential benefits of this technology.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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