ias-toppers-Border_Roads_Organisation_sign_in_Ladakh
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Current Affairs Analysis

20th & 21st August 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Border Roads Organisation (BRO); India’s first calf born to surrogate cow in Pune; In Vitro Fertilisation; What is Artificial intelligence (AI)? Mahaparinirvana posture; Reclining Buddha; Ghantasala; Electronic Nematic State; What is superconductivity? World’s smallest surgical robot created; China’s First Cyber Court; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
August 21, 2017

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Ministry of Defence approves delegation of Powers to Border Roads Organisation

Economy

  • Artificial intelligence imperils India Inc jobs

Art & Culture

  • Ghantasala to get 70-ft Buddha statue

Science & Technology

  • New state of matter discovered
  • World’s smallest surgical robot created
  • India’s first calf born to surrogate cow in Pune

Key Facts for Prelims

  • China’s First Cyber Court

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Polity & Governance

Ministry of Defence approves delegation of Powers to Border Roads Organisation

The Union Defence Ministry has approved delegation of administrative and financial powers to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

ias-toppers-delegation-of-Powers-to-Border-Roads-Organisation

Purpose:

  • The purpose of delegation of powers is to improve the functioning of the BRO and speed up works to avoid delays in projects and to achieve the desired outcomes according to the requirement of the Armed Force.

Need for more powers:

  • The BRO is engaged in road construction to provide connectivity to difficult and inaccessible regions in the border areas of the country. On various occasions, Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) and the Parliamentary Standing Committee has highlighted delay in the completion of strategic border roads. In pursuance of this, Defence Ministry had intended to bring transformational changes in the BRO in order to improve the pace of execution of works.

About the BRO:

Works under Ministry of Defence, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is one of the premier road construction agencies of the country.

Border-Road-Organization-BRO

  • It develops and maintains road networks in India’s border areas and friendly neighbouring countries.
  • It is staffed by officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Military Police and army personnel on extra regimental employment.

BRO-road-sign-india

  • Officers from the Border Roads Engineering Service and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the Border Roads Organisation.
  • Currently, the organisation maintains operations in twenty-one states, one UT (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), and neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
  • The BRO operates and maintains over 32,885 kilometres of roads and about 12,200 meters of permanent bridges in the country.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Economy

Artificial intelligence imperils India Inc jobs

Why in news?

Technology leaders are drumming up the thought that the emergence of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are going to be the new drivers of employment, especially for India’s $150 billion information technology (IT) industry that now employs about four million people.

ias-toppers-Artificial-intelligence

What is Artificial intelligence (AI)?

  • The theory and development of computer systems which are able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.
  • Some example includes Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana—which have been common place for a few years now.
  • AI able to respond to voice input anywhere in the house, sophisticated enough to understand natural language and context and carry on a conversation with the user in the process of offering information and performing tasks such as scheduling appointments or locking the door.

Automation:

  • According to a World Bank research, automation threatens 69% of the jobs in India, while it’s 77% in China.
  • The transition is expected to happen in a decade, according to experts. Therefore, if automation is not planned well and addressed holistically, it is a disaster in the making.
  • The impact of automation is not just limited to the country’s information technology industry but other areas as well such as agriculture.

ias toppers Artificial intelligence imperils India Inc jobs

Opportunities:

  • While there is a risk to jobs due to these trends, the good news is that a huge number of new jobs are getting created as well in areas like cybersecurity, cloud, big data, machine learning and AI.
  • The new job roles that will dominate the IT workforce are within digital domains such as big data, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and cybersecurity.
  • It is clearly a time of career pivot for IT professionals to make sure they are where the growth is.

Way ahead:

  • The need of the hour was planning ahead and making sure the talent pool has the skills that would be needed “as these systems (AI, automation) evolve.”
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Art & Culture

Ghantasala to get 70-ft Buddha statue

The government has cleared the proposal of developing Ghantasala village in Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh as one of the prime Buddhist tourist spots.

ias toppers Ghantasala to get 70-ft Buddha statue

  • 70ft Buddha Statue in Mahaparinirvana posture will be built and the theme of the tourist spot is also based on it.

Key facts:

  • A two-storied structure in Buddhist architecture resembling a pedestal with a 100-ft wide and 70-ft high Budha in the Mahaparinirvana posture will be a major highlight.
  • In Buddhism, Mahaparinirvana denotes the enlightenment of Buddha attained under the Bodhi tree.
  • Enlightenment in Buddhism means the ultimate state of everlasting, highest peace and happiness entered by an awakened being (Buddha).

Statue of the reclining Buddha:

ias-toppers-reclining-Buddha

  • On top of the two-storey structure will be an imposing statue of the reclining Buddha. This is a major iconographic and statuary pattern of Buddhism.
  • It represents the historical Buddha during his last illness, about to enter the Mahaparinirvana.
  • It shows Buddha lying on the right flank, his head resting on a cushion or on his right elbow, supporting his head with his hand.
  • This pattern seems to have emerged at the same time as other representations of the Buddha in the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara.

About Ghantasala:

  • Ghantasala, known as Katakasila in the ancient times, was a renowned Buddhist centre located near the coast.
  • Ptolemy, the Greek geographer, had made a specific mention of an emporium of Kontakossyla in the region of Misolia (present Machilipatnam).
  • Initially, the archaeological significance of Ghantasala was reported by Boswel in 1870-71 and the site was subsequently subjected to excavations by Alexander Rea which brought out the stupa architecture in detail.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Science & Technology

New state of matter discovered

Scientists from US have discovered a potential new state of matter that may help explain phenomena like superconductivity.

ias toppers electronic nematic state

  • It was discovered in the high-magnetic-field state of the heavy fermion superconductor CeRhIn5. Heavy fermions are intermetallic compounds, containing rare earth or actinide elements.

About the newly discovered electronic nematic state:

  • In the new state, material’s electrons are aligned in such a way, that they apparently reduce the symmetry of the original crystal. This appearance of electronic alignment in a prototypical heavy-fermion superconductor is called nematic behaviour.
  • It is phenomenon of electronic symmetry breaking, common among the superconducting materials in high magnetic fields.
  • It highlights the interrelation of nematicity and unconventional superconductivity, suggesting that nematicity is common among correlated superconducting materials.
  • It appears to be universal among unconventional superconductors. Unconventional superconductivity develops near a phase boundary separating magnetically ordered and magnetically disordered phases of a material.

What is superconductivity?

  • Superconductivity is the ability of certain materials to conduct electric current with practically zero resistance.
  • For a material to behave as a superconductor, low temperatures are required i.e. they act as superconductors when they cooled below a characteristic critical temperature.
  • In order to achieve superconducting state, the element should have mobile electrons, and these electrons should come together to form pairs, known as Cooper pairs.

Usages of Superconductivity:

  • Superconductivity is extensively used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), particle accelerators, magnetic fusion devices, microwave filters, high-speed magnetic-levitation trains, ultra-high-speed computer chips and high-capacity digital memory chips etc.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

World’s smallest surgical robot created

Scientists in the UK have developed the world’s smallest surgical robot called Versius.

ias toppers World’s smallest surgical robot

  • It was developed using the low-cost technology used in mobile phones and space industries.
  • The robot is controlled by a surgeon at a console guided by a 3D screen in the operating theatre.

What this robot can do?

  • The robot can mimic human arm and can be used to carry out a wide range of surgical procedures.
  • Versius can make series of small incisions that will circumvent the need for traditional open surgery. These include colorectal operations, hernia repairs, as well as prostate, ear, nose and throat surgery.

Significance:

  • The robot is much easier to use than existing systems, and requires about a third of the space of current machines.
  • It works like a human arm and contains technology that detects resistance to make sure the right amount of force is used when the instruments are inside the patient.
  • It can help to reduce complications and pain after surgery and speed up recovery time for patients.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

India’s first calf born to surrogate cow in Pune

India’s first calf delivered by a surrogate cow through In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) technology carried out in a mobile laboratory was born in Pune, Maharashtra.

ias-toppers-India’s-first-calf

  • The calf has been named as Vijay.
  • The purpose of producing surrogate calf was to protect indigenous cow breeds in its original form which have been destroyed due to cross-breeding.

Key facts:

  • The experiment was successfully under taken by the JK Trust, an organisation which works at improving cattle breed.
  • The donor cow, Ratan, belongs to the Gir breed, whose population across the country is around one lakh currently. The Gir breed unevenly spread across Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
  • In this experiment, the oocytes collected from the mother cow were kept in a special incubator. Using the IVF technology, these oocytes were fertilised inside the incubator with semen was collected from a Gir bull. After the oocytes developed into an embryo, they were transferred to the recipient cow.

About In Vitro Fertilisation:

  • In vitro fertilisation is a process of fertilisation where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body, in vitro (in glass).
  • The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman’s ovulatory process, removing an ovum or ova from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a liquid in a laboratory.
  • The fertilised egg undergoes embryo culture for 2–6 days, and is then transferred to the same or another woman’s uterus, with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy.
[Ref: Indian Express]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

China’s First Cyber Court

iastoppers China’s First Cyber Court

  • China launched its first cyber (internet) court specialising in handling internet-related cases in the e-commerce hub of Hangzhou (capital of east China’s Zhejiang Province), amid a spike in the number of online disputes.
  • The cyber court will handle cases such as online trade disputes and copyright lawsuits. These cases handled by the court will be tried online.
  • The court will provide a judicial guarantee for maintaining cyber security, resolving online disputes and promoting the integration of the Internet with society and the economy.
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