Factly articles for December 3, 2020

10 min read

World Trade Report(WTR)

News: World Trade Organization(WTO) has released the report titled ‘World Trade Report 2020: Government Policies to Promote Innovation in the Digital Age’.

Facts:

  • World Trade Report: It is an annual report published since 2003 by the World Trade Organization to deepen understanding about trends in trade, trade policy issues, and the multilateral trading system (MTS).
  • What is the 2020 Report about? The 2020 World Trade Report looks at the role of innovation and technology policies in an increasingly digitized world economy and explains the role of the WTO in this changing context.

Key Takeaways:

  • Uptake of Digital Innovation: The report observes that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the uptake of digital innovation and e-commerce and led countries to strengthen policies aimed at boosting growth through innovation and technological upgrading.
  • Transition to Digital Economy: The report warns the transition towards digital economy can have positive spillovers and negative spillovers.
    • Positive spillovers: generating growth, creating new markets and encouraging technology diffusion.
    • Negative spillovers: distorting trade, diverting investment or promoting unfair competition with the winner-takes-all characteristics of certain digital industries.

Explained: How the 1.5-times formula for crops MSP is calculated?

News: The talks between farmer unions and the government failed to reach a resolution.The main bone of contention in these talks is the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops which farmers fear the new laws will do away.

Facts:

  • MSP: It is the minimum price paid to the farmers for procuring food crops. It is announced by the Government at the beginning of the sowing season.
  • How was the MSP calculated before? The Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) would recommend MSPs for 23 crops by taking into account the supply and demand situation for the commodity; market price trends and implications for consumers (inflation), environment and terms of trade between agriculture and non-agriculture sectors.
  • What changed with the Union Budget for 2018-19? The Budget for 2018-19 announced that MSPs will be fixed at 1.5 times of the production costs for crops as a predetermined principle.Simply put, the CACP’s job now is only to estimate production costs for a season and recommend the MSPs by applying the 1.5-times formula.
  • How is this production cost arrived at? CACP considers both A2+FL and C2 costs while recommending MSP.However, C2 costs are used by CACP primarily as benchmark reference costs (opportunity costs) to see if the MSPs recommended by them at least cover these costs in some of the major producing States.
    • A2: It covers all paid-out costs directly incurred by the farmer — in cash and kind — on seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, hired labour, leased-in land, fuel, irrigation, etc.
    • ‘A2+FL’: It includes A2 plus an imputed value of unpaid family labour.
    • ‘C2’: It is a more comprehensive cost that factors in rentals and interest forgone on owned land and fixed capital assets on top of A2+FL.

Additional Facts:

  • Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP): It is an attached office of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. It is not a statutory body set up through an Act of Parliament.

ARTPARK to Promote Tech Innovations in AI & Robotics

News: An AI & Robotics Technologies Park(ARTPARK) has been set up in Bengaluru, Karnataka.

Facts:

  • ARTPARK: It is a unique not-for-profit foundation established by Indian Institute of Science(IISc),Bengaluru with support from AI Foundry in a public-private model.
  • Aim: To promote technology innovations in artificial intelligence(AI) and robotics leading to societal impact by executing mission mode R&D projects in healthcare, education, infrastructure, agriculture focusing on problems unique to India.

Additional Facts:

  • Artificial Intelligence: It refers to the ability of machines to perform cognitive tasks like thinking, perceiving, learning, problem-solving and decision making. (NITI Aayog).

Govt Forms Task Force to Impart Technical Education in Mother Tongue

News: The Ministry of Education has set up a task force for technical education in the mother tongue.

Facts:

  • Chaired by: The task force is being chaired by the Secretary, Higher Education.
  • Mandate: To prepare a roadmap on imparting technical education in Mother Tongue.

Additional Facts:

  • Shiksha Parv Initiative: It was organized by the Ministry of Education to felicitate the teachers and to take New Education Policy 2020 forward. Under this, the Ministry has organised a series of webinars on NEP and its implementation.

Green Charcoal Hackathon

News: NVVN (NTPC VidyutVyapar Nigam), a wholly-owned subsidiary company of NTPC Ltd in partnership with Energy Efficiency Services Limited(EESL) has launched Green Charcoal Hackathon.

Facts:

  • Aim: To leverage the innovative Indian mind to bridge the technology gap with the prime objective to clean the air by eliminating farm fire, producing renewable energy out of the agro residue, to promote local entrepreneurship, and to increase the income of the farmers.

Additional Facts:

  • Torrefaction Technology: It involves heating up straw, grass, saw mill residue and wood biomass to 250 degrees Celsius-350 degrees Celsius. This changes the elements of the biomass into ‘coal-like’ pellets.These pellets can be used for combustion along with coal for industrial applications like steel and cement production.

Cyclone Burevi

News: Cyclone Burevi is heading towards the Tamil Nadu(TN) coast after crossing Sri Lanka.

Facts:

  • Cyclonic Burevi: It is a tropical cyclone formed over southwest Bay of Bengal.It is expected to bring heavy rainfall over south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala.
  • Named by: The name “Burevi” was suggested by the Maldives.

Additional Facts:

  • Tropical Cyclones: These are storms that originate and intensify over warm tropical oceans.They are intense low pressure areas with very strong winds circulating around it in anti-clockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere and in clockwise direction in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Different Names: Tropical Cyclones are known by different names in different regions:
    • Cyclones in Indian Ocean
    • Hurricanes in Atlantic
    • Typhoons in Western Pacific in South China Sea
    • Willy-Willies in Western Australia
  • Conditions: The conditions favourable for the formation and intensification of tropical cyclones are:
    • Large sea surface with temperature higher than 27° C;
    • Presence of the Coriolis force enough to create a cyclonic vortex
    • Small variations in the vertical wind speed;
    • A pre-existing weak low-pressure area or low-level-cyclonic circulation is must for cyclone formation in tropics
    • Upper divergence above the sea level system