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21st January 2021 Current Affairs

21st January 2021 Current Affairs for UPSC Exam

Contents

  1. NITI Aayog’s India Innovation Index Rankings 2020
  2. SC upholds validity of IBC Amendment 2020
  3. Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN)

NITI AAYOG’S INDIA INNOVATION INDEX RANKINGS 2020

Context:

Niti Aayog’s India Innovation Index rankings 2020 released recently showed that Karnataka has maintained its top position among the major states’ category.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Introduction to Innovation in India (For essay)
  2. Introduction to NITI Aayog’s India Innovation Index
  3. How is the India Innovation Index 2020 ranking determined?
  4. Key Findings of the India Innovation Index 2020: Country-Level Analysis
  5. Key Findings of the India Innovation Index 2020: State-Level Analysis
  6. Conclusion

Introduction to Innovation in India (For essay)

The rich cultural history of the Indian Subcontinent is dotted with illustrative instances of a dynamic past in the fields of mathematics, science, arts, architecture, and metallurgy, to name a few. Much of this glorious past is accredited to the ideas that were developed in the very heart of this soil, which were new at the time, but led India to prosperity.

In the 21st century, technology and science have played an indisputable role in helping India address the challenges of droughts, poverty and hunger, among others. Innovation has been instrumental in ushering in the Green, White, and Blue revolutions, and bringing millions out of poverty, generating livelihood opportunities, and paving the way for a young and self-reliant nation.

Over the last decade, India has laid a policy emphasis on innovation as a growth strategy. The drive to enhance the innovative tendencies has resulted in India breaking into the top 50 nations (Rank 48) of the Global Innovation Index 2020, with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) declaring India as one of the leading innovation achievers of 2019-20 in the central and southern Asian region.

Introduction to NITI Aayog’s India Innovation Index

  • NITI Aayog had introduced the first-ever India Innovation Index in 2019.
  • The index has not only served as a useful tool for governments to assess the innovation landscape in their states, but has also helped strengthen competitive federalism and create synergies between different stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem.
  • The second edition of the index will allow states to continue to evaluate their innovation environment and assess their progress.
  • To facilitate policymaking, the index also highlights the challenges present in the way of improving innovation in the country and creates a distinction between issues that can be tackled at the national and state levels.
  • The India Innovation Index depicts the innovation landscape of the country at the sub-national level.
  • It portrays the innovative capabilities of the States, highlighting their strengths, which can be replicated in others, and weaknesses, which can be rectified.

How is the India Innovation Index 2020 ranking determined?

Under the index, the states and union territories have been divided into 17 Major States, 10 North-East and Hill States and 9 City States and Union Territories for effectively comparing their performance.

The states and union territories have been ranked in two broad categories:

  1. Outcome and
  2. Governance.

The index consists of two dimensions, Enablers and Performance, and within each dimension are pillars and within each of the pillars are indicators.

Pillars

  • It measures innovation inputs through ‘Five Enablers pillars’ and ‘Two Performance pillars.’ Each pillar comprises relevant indicators.
  • Five Enablers pillars capture elements of the state economy that act as inputs for the innovation environment. They are: Human Capital, Investment, Knowledge works, Business Environment and Safety and Legal Environment.
  • The Two Performance pillars are Knowledge output and Knowledge diffusion.

Indicators

The framework of India Innovation Index 2020 consists of 36 indicators including hard data (32 indicators) and four composite indicators.

Further, the indicators were selected considering the state of the Indian economy, for instance, the fact that India is dominated by low-cost or frugal innovations, has been captured by incorporating the number of grassroots innovations.

Key Findings of the India Innovation Index 2020: Country-Level Analysis

  • Indian states have achieved an average score of 23.4 in the Innovation Index that ranges from a scale of 0 (worst-case scenario) to 100 (best-case scenario).
  • The score shows that India has immense scope for improvement in the space of innovation, but it needs to be put into perspective by analysing the factors making up the score.
  • The robust and agile cybersecurity ecosystem in India could be one of the reasons behind the high score for Safety and Legal Environment.
  • However, the Performance score falling below Enablers indicates that the innovation capabilities of the country are not utilised to their optimum level.
  • For example, despite the high number of engineering graduates in the country, their low employability in the knowledge economy results in a level of Knowledge Output and knowledge diffusion that does not correspond with the level of human capital available to be leveraged for innovation.

Key Findings of the India Innovation Index 2020: State-Level Analysis

  • Delhi scores the highest while Lakshadweep finishes last, displaying a wide range of scores on the index which do not capture the real story as the capability and size of the states and UTs vary largely.
  • To ensure a fair comparison, states have been categorised under three segments, viz. NE and Hill States, UT and City States, and Major States.
  • The first two categories are segregated from the rest of the Indian states (or Major States) due to their geographical categories, varied sizes and administrative capabilities.
  • Having recorded the highest number of trademark and patent applications, along with the establishment of new start-ups and companies in the last financial year, the national capital – Delhi has managed to deliver superior results in the domain of Knowledge Output.
  • Interestingly, many of the high-scoring states score higher on Performance than on Enablers, suggesting that their innovation output surpasses their ability.
  • On the other hand, low-scoring states reveal a pattern of scoring better on Enablers than on Performance, suggesting that they are not able to translate their innovation abilities into the desired outcome.
  • The innovation scores also show a positive correlation with the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), meaning higher economic growth leads to more innovation and vice-versa.

Conclusion

The need to innovate is intrinsic for a robust economy in order to harbour the spirit of competition. Through the medium of competition, different firms can utilize resources such as land, labour and capital that has the power to create value through new products.

The aspiration of innovation can thus drive firms to increase their productivity and efficiency, thereby achieving growth. And it is this ushering in of new ideas in material form that drives social and economic transformation.

An economy that is steered by innovation across all sectors also requires a conducive innovation ecosystem, which is inclusive and sensitive to the aspirations and needs of the country. An innovation-driven economy can thus be India’s key to cement its position as an emerging world leader.

-Source: The Hindu


SC UPHOLDS VALIDITY OF IBC AMENDMENT 2020

Context:

The Supreme Court held that the successful bidders for a corporate debtor under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) would be immune from any investigations being conducted either by any investigating agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) or other statutory bodies such as Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Introduction to Insolvency and Bankruptcy and the IBC
  2. Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2020
  3. Which part of the IBC Amendment Bill was under contention?
  4. Issues with the Amendment to IBC
  5. How are the new amendments going to be beneficial?

Introduction to Insolvency and Bankruptcy and the IBC

Click here to read more about Insolvency and Bankruptcy, Process of Resolution, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 and its objectives

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2020

  • The bill seeks to remove bottlenecks and streamline the corporate insolvency resolution process. It aims to provide protection to new owners of a loan defaulter company against prosecution for misdeeds of previous owners. The latest changes pertain to various sections of the IBC as well as introduction of a new section.
  • The IBC, which came into force in 2016, has already been amended thrice.
  • Stressing that the government is “very responsive” and has been talking to the industry, she assured the House that amendments to the IBC are not being “unthinkingly done”.
  • The Bill replaces an ordinance.
  • The amendments were earlier introduced as ordinances. Now after the Parliament session begun the ordinance was introduced as bill. And the bill has now been passed as an act in the parliament. The amendment aims to protect the successful bidders of insolvent companies from risk of criminal proceedings. The criminal proceedings may be expected from previous promoters of the company.
  • The Ordinances are laws promulgated the President of India. The President issues ordinance on recommendation of Council of Ministers. An ordinance shall be issued only when the Parliament is not in session.

Which part of the IBC Amendment Bill was under contention?

  • According to one of the sections of the Amendment Act, an insolvency application could be filed only if 100 real estate allottees under the same real estate project or 10 percent of the total allottees of such project come together. The contention was that, this was in violation of Article 14.
  • Dismissing the contention of violation of Article 14, Supreme Court stated that “there cannot be any doubt that intrinsically a financial creditor and an operational creditor are distinct.”

Issues with the Amendment to IBC

  • In other countries, additional safeguards are available which include the right to seek a payment guarantee, and court-granted permission to terminate the contract in cases where the supplier demonstrates that continuation will cause hardship. However, this is not included in the amended bill.
  • Lack of transparency for the individual homebuyers which proves tricky as their rights will also be restricted with the law. Thus, converting an individual right into a cross-section.
  • Cross border insolvency framework has not been included in the amendment.

How are the new amendments going to be beneficial?

  • There is a liquidity problem across the system and the new amendments seem to create a balance between the creditors and the corporate debtor.
  • In the case of defaults by real estate developers, the insolvency resolution application should be filed jointly by at least 100 homebuyers or 10% of their total number. This has been included to avoid frivolous litigations.
  • Immunity is provided to the new promoter of the company against all legal complications committed by the previous promoter.
  • However, this does not apply to the new promoters of the company who are related to the old promoters.
  • The interest of all parties- lenders, borrowers, and even operational creditors is now addressed under a unified law under the IBC. This would address the concerns of many stressed assets.
  • The new amendments have also introduced a provision that would allow the resolution process to take effect only when a resolution professional has been appointed, thereby reducing the weeks of uncertainty.

-Source: The Hindu


OPEN RADIO ACCESS NETWORK (O-RAN)

Context:

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman said that use of Open-RAN (Radio Access Network) and software defined telecom networks will open new opportunities for Indian entities to enter into the network equipment market.

Relevance:

GS-III: Science and Technology, Cybersecurity

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Open-RAN (Radio Access Network)
  2. Radio Access Network (RAN)
  3. Advantage of O-RAN

Open-RAN (Radio Access Network)

  • Open-RAN is not a technology, but rather an ongoing shift in mobile network architecture that allows networks to be built using subcomponents from a variety of vendors.
  • O-RAN has an open, multi-vendor architecture for deploying mobile networks, as opposed to the single-vendor proprietary architecture.
  • O-RAN uses software to make hardware manufactured by different companies work together.
  • The key concept of Open RAN is “opening” the protocols and interfaces between the various subcomponents (radios, hardware and software) in the RAN.

Radio Access Network (RAN)

  • It is the part of a telecommunications system that connects individual devices to other parts of a network through radio connections.
  • A RAN resides between user equipment, such as a mobile phone, a computer or any remotely controlled machine, and provides the connection with its core network.

Elements of RAN

  • The Radio Unit (RU) is where the radio frequency signals are transmitted, received, amplified and digitized. The RU is located near, or integrated into, the antenna.
  • The Distributed Unit (DU) is where the real-time, baseband processing functions reside. The DU can be centralized or located near the cell site.
  • The Centralized Unit (CU) is where the less time-sensitive packet processing functions typically reside.

Advantage of O-RAN

  • An open environment expands the ecosystem, and with more vendors providing the building blocks, there is more innovation and more options for the Operators. They can also add new services.
  • It will open new opportunities for Indian entities to enter into the network equipment market.
  • The benefits of this approach also include increased network agility and flexibility, and cost savings.
  • It is expected to make 5G more flexible and cost efficient.

-Source: The Hindu

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