Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 27 December 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 27 December 2020


The Ministry of Electronics and IT to implement Artificial Intelligence mission

  • The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has got the green signal to roll out the ambitious Artificial Intelligence (AI) mission.
  • The AI Mission is a five-year programme announced in the Budget two years ago.
  • The Niti Aayog had earlier made a proposal worth Rs 7000 crore for the project, which will now be implemented by MeitY.
  • The main focus of the AI mission will be on AI; we want to be the leading nation in the world in terms of AI capabilities and cutting-edge technologies.
  • While premier institutes like the IITs will be involved in research, industry will be roped in for the actual implementation.
  • The government is already running several centres of excellence in areas such as AI, augmented reality, fintech and agritech, which will all be subsumed under the mission.
  • MeitY had also announced the setting up a national AI centre.
  • MeitY’s programme included launching a national AI portal along with developing applications and doing proofs of concepts in the areas of health and education, Niti Aayog’s roadmap included setting up of five centres of research excellence, 20 institutional centres for transformational AI and a cloud computing platform called AIRAWAT.

V Ramgopal Rao committee 

  • A government committee recently reiterated a longstanding demand of the IITs — exemption from implementing reservation in faculty positions. 
  • The Ministry of Education on April 23 had appointed a committee for suggesting measures for effective implementation of reservation in student admissions and faculty recruitment in IITs. 

About the committee:

  • This committee, headed by IIT-Delhi V Ramgopal Rao, submitted its report on June 17, the contents of which were recently reported in the media.
  • Instead of implementing quotas in faculty positions, the panel has suggested that the 23 IITs should be exempted from reservations altogether under the CEI Act, 2019. 
  • Rather than specific quotas, diversity issues should be addressed through outreach campaigns and targeted faculty recruitment, the panel has said in its report to the government.
  • The report states that IITs should be added to the list of “Institutions of Excellence” mentioned in the Schedule to the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act 2019. 
  • Section 4 of the Act exempts “institutions of excellence, research institutions, institutions of national and strategic importance” mentioned in the Schedule and minority institutions from providing reservation.


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Caspian Sea

  • As per a recent study, by the end of the century the Caspian Seawill lose at least 25% of its former size and will also be 9-18metres lower.
  • Caspian Sea borders five countries and the major river feedingit is Volga.
  • Caspian Sea waters are isolated, its surface is already around 28metres below global oceans.

Andrott Island

  • Indian Naval Sailing Vessel Bulbul will undertake a sailingexpedition from Kochi to Andrott Island.
  • Andrott Island is the Largest island in the Lakshadweep.
  • Andrott is the nearest island to the mainland and hasan east-westorientation unlike other islands lying in the north-south direction.


Zero Liquid Discharge

  • The Centre is examining various options of moving forward on the country’s Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) policy to ensure that investment in emerging sectors such as semiconductors is not hampered while environment continues to be protected.
  • ZLD is a water treatment process to recirculate all the water back to the process with zero liquid waste. Government regulations demand fool-proof operations of the wastewater treatment plants for the purpose.
  • The Department for Policy on Investments and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has been getting suggestions for removing regulatory compliances such as Zero Liquid Discharge to encourage investments in sectors like semiconductors. Any decision on removing regulatory compliances will be taken only after consulting all sectors.
  • The DPIIT has held discussions with stakeholders such as Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the State governments of Gujarat, Haryana and Tamil Nadu, on what the policy for zero level discharge will be going ahead, the official said However, according to the industry, for products like semiconductor, meeting ZLD standards might be difficult as ultra-clean water is needed for chip manufacturing and it would also be expensive to contain the recycled water.
  • The Centre has got representations from the industry to see if there could be changes in the ZLD standards for sectors like semiconductor that are finding it difficult to meet them.
  • The MoEFCC is the nodal Ministry for the matter related to policy on Zero Liquid Discharge while the DPIIT’s role is to ensure that concerns of industry get addressed.

Science and Technology

Tau Bootes system

  • An international team of scientists has collected the first possible radio signal from a planet beyond our solar system, emanating from an exoplanet system about 51 light-years away. 
  • Using the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR), a radio telescope in the Netherlands, the researchers uncovered emission bursts from the Tau Bootes star-system hosting a so-called hot Jupiter, a gaseous giant planet that is very close to its own sun.
  • The team led by researchers from the Cornell University in the US also observed other potential exoplanetary radio-emission candidates in the constellation Cancer and Upsilon Andromedae systems.
  • However, the study published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics found that only the Tau Bootes exoplanet system exhibited a significant radio signature, a unique potential window on the planet’s magnetic field. 
  • Earth’s magnetic field protects it from solar wind dangers, keeping the planet habitable. “The magnetic field of Earth-like exoplanets may contribute to their possible habitability by shielding their own atmospheres from solar wind and cosmic rays, and protecting the planet from atmospheric loss, Turner said.
  • Two years ago, Turner and his colleagues examined the radio emission signature of Jupiter and scaled those emissions to mimic the possible signatures from a distant Jupiter-like exoplanet. Those results became the template for searching radio emission from exoplanets 40 to 100 light-years away


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