National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 18th September 2018

Man Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM)

  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) recently conducted first successful trials of indigenously developed third generation Man Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM).
  • The MPATGM is a third-generation anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), which has been under development by DRDO in partnership with Indian defense contractor VEM Technologies Ltd. since 2015.
  • Fitted with a high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead, the MPATGM reportedly boasts a top attack capability and has a maximum engagement range of about 2.5 kilometers.

Pacific Asia Travel Association gold awards

  • Kerala Tourism has won two prestigious gold awards of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) for its innovative marketing campaigns.
  • These awards were won by Kerala Tourism’s Yalla Kerala print campaign and Live Inspired Posters under PATA’s Travel Advertisement Print and Travel Poster categories respectively. Both campaign and posters were developed and designed by Stark Communications which is advertising agency of Kerala Tourism.
  • These awards are given by PATA and are sponsored by Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO).
  • The Awards are presented to outstanding entries in four principal categories: Marketing; Education and Training; Environment, and Heritage and Culture.

Paryatan Parv

  • The second edition of ‘Paryatan Parv’ of the Ministry of Tourism has begun across the country.
  • The Paryatan Parv will showcase the cultural diversity of the country, with cultural performances, crafts bazaar, food court showcasing folk and classical dance & music, handicrafts & handlooms and cuisine from all regions and States of the country.
  • The Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with other Central Ministries, State Governments and Stakeholders is organizing “Paryatan Parv” across the country.

Merger of Dena Bank, Vijaya Bank and Bank of Baroda

Why in news?

The Centre proposed the unification of state-owned Bank of Baroda, Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank to create India’s third largest bank with a total business of more than ₹14.82 trillion as parts of reforms in the public sector banking segment.

Details

  • It will oversee proposals of amalgamation of public sector banks.
  • After getting in-principle approval, the banks will take steps in accordance with the law and SEBI requirements.
  • The final scheme will be notified by the Central government in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India
  • The alternative mechanism will include a panel of ministers, whose members will be decided by the Prime Minister.
  • The merger will be based purely on commercial considerations.
  • The merged entity, comprising two relatively stronger banks and a weak one, will be the third-largest lender in India after State Bank of India and HDFC Bank Ltd
  • One of the core reasons behind the choice of these banks was perhaps the fact that all three use the same core banking system—Finacle from Infosys—making the task of merging the technology platforms and back-ends relatively easier.
  • The government has also moved to offload its majority stake in IDBI Bank to Life Insurance Corporation of India.
  • No employee will face any adverse service conditions after the amalgamation

Background

  • The proposal of fewer but stronger state-run lenders was originally mooted in 1991
  • Narasimhan report on banking reforms had recommended merger of public sector banks to make them stronger. It had envisaged a three-tier banking structure with three large banks with international presence at the top, eight to 10 national banks at tier two, and a large number of regional and local banks at the bottom.
  • Under the Bank Nationalisation Act 1969, there are provisions allowing such mergers. However, such decisions must be approved by Parliament.
  • Section 44A of Banking Regulation Act 1949 lays down the norms for voluntary mergers and “forced” mergers are done under Section 45 of the Act.

Jhum Cultivation

Why in news?

Niti Aayog has called for a mission mode approach for transforming shifting cultivation and it has also recommended that the Ministry of Agriculture should take up a “mission on shifting cultivation” to ensure inter-ministerial convergence. This was in reference to the report titled, “Mission on shifting cultivation: towards a transformational approach”.

Details

  • Shifting cultivation also referred to as jhum cultivation, is considered as an important mainstay of food production for a considerable population in northeast India in States like Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Manipur.
  • The publication notes that between 2000 and 2010, the land under shifting cultivation dropped by 70 %.
  • The report quotes data of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education published in Statistical Year Book-2014 by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, which points out that from 35,142 sq km in 2000, the area under jhum cultivation dropped to 10,306 sq km in 2010.
  • The Wastelands Atlas Map shows a reduction in shifting cultivation in north-eastern States from 16,435.18 sq km to 8,771.62 sq km in two years.
  • MGNREGA has also had an impact on reducing dependency of people on shifting cultivation

Concerns

  • Central as well as State government departments of forests and environment, agriculture and allied departments often have divergent approaches towards shifting cultivation.
  • This creates confusion among grass-roots level workers and jhum farmers
  • The practice ensures food security it does not provide adequate cash for the families.
  • Earlier the cultivators returned to fallows after 10-12 years, now they are returning in three to five years. This has impact on the quality of the soil.

What are the measures should be taken to tackle the problems?

  • The document calls for policy coherence.
  • It said land for shifting cultivation should be recognised as “agricultural land” where farmers practise agro-forestry for the production of food rather than as forestland.
  • The publication suggested that shifting cultivation fallows must be legally perceived and categorised as ‘regenerating fallows’ and that credit facilities be extended to those who practise shifting cultivation.
  • The publication also addresses the issue of food and nutritional security of communities involved in jhum cultivation during transition and transformation by broadening the public distribution system (PDS) to ensure widespread access to cereals and other basic food items.
  • This can be done by enlisting well-established and well-performing SHG cluster federations already established in several of the NE States.

Future of Jobs’ Report- World Economic Forum (WEF)

Why in news?

“The Future of Jobs 2018” report by WEF predicts that the rise of robotics will result in machines performing more tasks on the job than humans by 2025. It also estimates that while that trend could displace 75 million jobs globally by 2022, it’ll create 133 million new positions.

Details

  • The report surveyed executives from different industries around the world, aiming to get a look at how new technologies, like artificial intelligence, will affect the global labor force.
  • In 2018, humans performed an average of 71% of total task hours across the 12 industries spanning manufacturing, services and high tech.
  • By 2025, that will drop to just 48%, according to the WEF. Machines will perform the remaining 52%.
  • Globally, almost half of all companies expect automation to cut their full-time workforce in the next four years;
  • However, new jobs will still lead to a net gain in employment opportunities if sufficient reskilling is done.
  • In India, 54% of employees in these sectors will need reskilling by 2022
  • Of this 35% would need at least six months’ worth of reskilling,
  • 10% would need more than a year of training in order to meet the demands of the new economy

About World economic forum

  • 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.

India’s first woman IAS officer dead 

  • India’s first woman IAS officer after Independence, Anna Rajam Malhotra, who served in the Madras State under then Chief Minister C. Rajagopalachari and at the Central government, died in Mumbai.
  • Malhotra was born in 1927 in Niranam, Alleppey as the daughter of Ottavelil O. A. George and Anna Paul.
  • Anna cracked her Civil Services examination back in 1950, and was requested by the panel to join either Foreign service or Central service despite her merit.
  • However, Anna stood her ground and was given a secretarial post instead of district sub-collector by the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
  • She became the first woman to hold a secretarial post in the Central government.
  • She successfully executed the construction of India’s first computerised port Nhava Sheva (Jawaharlal Nehru Port) in Mumbai as its chairperson.

Satkosia Tiger Reserve 

  • Experts of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) said the Royal Bengal tigress ‘Sundari’ will continue to stay in Satkosia Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • The local people are demanding that the tigress be shifted from Satkosia Wildlife sanctuary alleging that it killed a woman.
  • Satkosia tiger reserve is a tiger reserve located in the Angul district of Odisha.
  • The tiger reserve is located in the Eastern Highlands moist deciduous forests ecoregion.
  • It is located where the Mahanadi River passes through a 22 km long gorge in the Eastern Ghats.

Cyber University in Maharashtra

Why in news?

The Maharashtra Government has taken the first step towards setting up a varsity dedicated to mitigating cyber threats. It has set aside 80 crore for the first round of its funding.

Details

  • The new Cyber University will train 3,000 professionals to fight online space cyber-attacks, internet crimes, and conduct cyber forensics.
  • It will also impart training in 15 other Internet of Things (IoT) areas such as Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  • The government will provide different levels of training and enable affiliated colleges to impart certification for the 15 courses. The State will also supply infrastructure for training and education.
  • The varsity will provide for and prepare internet professionals on the lines of the Microsoft Certified Professional Program.
  • The courses will cost less than 5 lakh for courses in data analytics, cloud computing, blockchain, AI, cyber forensics and cyber investigations.

Why this move?

  • A 2015 skill gap analysis for Maharashtra by the consultancy firm KPMG had pointed to a gap of 1.5 crore professionals in 10 sectors. Of these, there was a greater shortfall in the IoT and Cyber Forensics sectors. The new varsity will bridge this skill gap
  • The current supply of cyber professionals in the country is about a lakh while the demand hovers around 30 lakh.
  • A cyber-attack is taking place every 10 minutes as opposed to 12 minutes previously. The varsity will remedy this.
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