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1. Indian economy records 8.2% growth in first quarter of 2018-19
• The Indian economy grew at a 15-quarter high of 8.2% in the April-June quarter of current fiscal on good show by manufacturing and farm sectors, according to government data released on Friday.
• The growth cemented India’s position as the fastest growing major economy, clocking higher expansion rate than China’s 6.7 in the same quarter.
• The gross domestic product (GDP) at constant (2011-12) prices in the first quarter of 2018-19 is estimated at ₹33.74 lakh crore, against ₹31.18 lakh crore in Q1 of 2017-18, showing a growth rate of 8.2%, a Central Statistics Office statement said.
• The quarterly GVA (Gross Value Added) at basic price at constant (2011-2012) prices for Q1 of 2018-19 is estimated at ₹31.63 lakh crore, against ₹29.29 lakh crore in Q1 of 2017-18, showing a growth rate of 8% over the year-ago period.
• The previously high quarterly GDP growth was recorded in July-September period in 2014-15 at 8.4%.
• As per the data, the quarterly GVA at basic prices for Q1 2018-19 from the ‘manufacturing’ sector grew by 13.5%, compared to contraction of 1.8% in Q1 2017-18.
• The Quarterly GVA at basic prices for Q1 2018-19 from ‘agriculture, forestry and fishing’ sector grew by 5.3% as compared to growth of 3% in Q1 2017-18.
2. Uniform civil code neither necessary nor desirable at this stage, says Law Commission
• A uniform civil code ‘is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage’ in the country, the Law Commission of India said.
• In a 185- page consultation paper, the Commission said secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country.
• The Commission, led by former Supreme Court judge Justice B.S. Chauhan, said ‘cultural diversity cannot be compromised to the extent that out urge for uniformity itself becomes a reason for threat to the territorial integrity of the nation.’
• A unified nation did not necessarily need to have ‘uniformity’. Efforts have to be made to reconcile our diversity with universal and indisputable arguments on human rights. Difference did not always imply discrimination in a robust democracy, the government’s topmost law advisory body said.
==> Meaning of term Secularism
• In fact, term ‘secularism’ has meaning only if it assured the expression of any form of difference. This diversity, both religious and regional, should not get subsumed under the louder voice of the majority, the Commission said.
• At the same time, the Commission said, discriminatory practices within a religion should not hide behind the cloak of that faith to gain legitimacy.
• It said the way forward may not be a uniform civil code, but the codification of all personal laws so that prejudices and stereotypes in every one of them would come to light and could be tested on the anvil of fundamental rights of the Constitution.
• By codification of different personal laws, one can arrive at certain universal principles that prioritize equity rather than imposition of a uniform code, which would discourage man from using the law altogether, given that matters of marriage and divorce can also be settled extra-judicially.
• The Commission suggested certain measures in marriage and divorce that should be uniformly accepted in the personal laws of all religions.
• These amendments in personal laws include fixing the marriageable age for boys and girls at 18 years so that they marry as equals, making adultery a ground for divorce for men and women and to simplify divorce procedure. The Commission said the filing of Section 498A IPC (dowry harassment) cases was actually done by women wanting a quick exit from a difficult marriage.
• The Commission suggested that nikahnamas should make it clear that polygamy is a criminal offence and this should apply to ‘all communities.’
3. Census 2021 to collect data on OBCs
• Census 2021 will for the first time in independent India collect data on Other Backwards Castes (OBCs).
• The then V P Singh government had announced 27 per cent reservation for OBCs based on the Mandal Commission recommendation, which was broadly prepared on the basis of the country’s last castes data collected in the 1931 census.
• The disclosure of the decision to collect the OBC data came after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the preparation for the Census 2021.
• The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), a wing of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, had announced a sample survey report on the country’s population in 2006 and suggested that the OBC population in the country is around 41 per cent of the total population.
• The NSSO had enumerated 79,306 households in rural areas and 45,374 in urban regions.
• In 2011, the government had conducted the Socio Economic and Caste Census and its findings were released on July 3, 2015 by the government.
• Subsequently, on July 28, 2015, the government had said that a total of 8.19 crore errors were found in the caste particulars, of which 6.73 crore errors were rectified. However, 1.45 crore errors are yet to be rectified.
• The home ministry spokesperson said the census 2021 will be finalised in three years after conducting the census instead of the current seven to eight years period.
• In today’s review meeting, the home minister discussed the road map for undertaking the census in 2021. It was emphasised that improvements in design and technological interventions be made to ensure that the data was finalised within three years of the census being conducted.
• At present, it takes seven to eight years to release the complete data. Nearly 25 lakh enumerators are trained and engaged for the gigantic exercise.
• The use of maps and geo-referencing at the time of house listing is also under consideration.
• Singh also stressed the need for improvement in the civil registration system, especially registration of births and deaths in remote areas, and strengthening sample registration system for estimating data such as Infant Mortality Rate, Maternal Mortality Ratio and Fertility Rate.
4. India’s CO2 emission could double by 2030
• Indian carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy generation in 2030 could be nearly double 2012 levels but will still meet its international commitments, says a new report. The authors—Navroz K. Dubash, Ankit Bhardwaj and Radhika Khosla of the Centre for Policy Research, and Narasimha D. Rao of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis—examined 15 scenarios from seven different studies to understand India’s emission and energy projections.
• They project a future based on current policies and scenarios. Under the current scenario, India’s emissions are likely to rise by 91-98% over the 2012 levels by 2030. However, the level is consistent with its nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement of 33-35% reduction in emission intensity from 2005 levels. In addition, India’s per-capita emission will still be significantly lower than the global average.
• Currently, India’s CO2 emission from energy is the fourth highest in the world, but is less than a quarter of China’s and half the US’s levels. The authors show that even a doubling of India’s 2012 emissions will put its 2030 emissions at less than half of China’s 2015 emissions.
• The study says India’s lower carbon future stems from two factors. One, official electricity planning documents, such as those by the Central Electricity Authority, estimate lower-than-anticipated demand for electricity.
• Two, as renewable energy prices decline globally, a faster-than-expected transition from coal to renewable electricity is likely to lower CO2 emissions. The authors suggest that while India’s energy demand will invariably grow, the magnitude of growth is amenable to policy intervention. They highlight the importance of modelling national energy and emissions to address the global climate problem.
5. Google’s AI to predict earthquake aftershocks
• Scientists at Harvard University and Google have used an artificial intelligence (AI) system to analyze a database of earthquakes from around the world to predict where aftershocks might occur.
• Earthquakes typically occur in sequences: an initial ‘mainshock’ is often followed by a set of aftershocks.
• Although these aftershocks are usually smaller than the main shock, in some cases, they may significantly hamper recovery efforts.
• Although the timing and size of aftershocks has been understood and explained by established empirical laws, forecasting the location of these events has proven more challenging.
• The team has used a database of information on more than 118 major earthquakes from around the world.
• From there, the team applied a neural net to analyze the relationships between static stress changes caused by the mainshocks and aftershock locations.
• The end result was an improved model to forecast aftershock locations and while this system is still imprecise, it is a motivating step forward.
• Machine learning based forecast may one day help deploy emergency services and inform evacuation plans for areas at risk of an aftershock.
• When the researchers applied neural networks to the data set, they were able to look at the specific combinations of factors that it found important and useful for that forecast, rather than just taking the forecasted results at face value.
• This opens up new possibilities for finding potential physical theories that may allow better understanding of natural phenomena.
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