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Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2021

Oct 12, 2021

Current Affair 1:
Microfossils suggest our ancestors interacted with some early humans in Thar Desert, study says

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India’s Thar Desert may have been home to the youngest-known Acheulean population — an ancient human species that was known to develop characteristic stone tools — about 1,77,000 years ago, a new study has revealed.

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports Tuesday, suggests our ancestors may have interacted with some early humans in the monsoon region of the Thar Desert.

Acheulean is the longest lasting tool-making tradition. Distinctive oval and pear-shaped “hand-axes” and cleavers are typical Acheulean tools. So far, the human ancestors who are thought to have practised this tool-making were thought to have lived more than 1.5 million years ago in Africa and 1.2 million years ago in India.

Current Affair 2:
Modi launches Indian Space Association

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Indian Space Association (ISpA). The industry association will act as an independent and “single-window” agency for enabling the opening up of the space sector to start-ups and the private sector.

ISpA will perform the role of policy advocacy and engage with stakeholders in the space sector, including the government and all its other agencies, NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL) and Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), among others.

What ISpA will do?

The industry association was created following Modi’s meeting with industry insiders in December 2020, after which the government proposed a platform for private players to raise their concerns and aspirations.

ISpA will be focussed on capacity building and creation of space hubs as well as incubators in the country for private space start-ups. It will work in tandem with NSIL, a central public sector enterprise under the Department of Space (DOS), which functions as the commercial arm for ISRO and secures launch contracts from customer satellites. The association will also work with IN-SPACe, which acts as a regulator facilitating the use of government facilities to private companies.

Current Affair 3:
Protecting India’s natural laboratories

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Geological heritage- "Geologic Heritage encompasses the significant geologic features, landforms, and landscapes characteristic of our Nation which are preserved for the full range of values that society places on them, including scientific, aesthetic, cultural, ecosystem, educational, recreational, tourism, and other values.

Indian geological diversity- Indian landmass separated from Gondwana land and merged with the southern margins of the Eurasian continental landmass.

The geological features and landscapes that evolved over billions of years through numerous cycles of tectonic and climate upheavals are recorded in India’s rock formations and terrains, and are part of the country’s heritage.

India has tall mountains, deep valleys, sculpted landforms, long-winding coastlines, hot mineral springs, active volcanoes, diverse soil types, mineralised areas, and globally important fossil- bearing sites.

It is long known as the world’s ‘natural laboratory’ for geo-scientific learning.

Some famous examples:

  1. The Kutch region in Gujarat has dinosaur fossils and is our version of a Jurassic Park.
  2. The Tiruchirappalli region of Tamil Nadu, originally a Mesozoic Ocean, is a store house of Cretaceous (60 million years ago) marine fossils.

Why it needs to be protected?

  1. Geo- heritage sites are educational spaces important not only from the scientific point of view but also for understanding the cultural evolution of the society for example, history of the Indus River Valley, one of the cradles of human civilisation. India offers plenty of such examples.
  2. It offers many solutions like dealing with climate change. Learning from the geological past, like the warmer intervals during the Miocene Epoch (23 to 5 million years ago), whose climate can be reconstructed using proxies and simulations, may serve as an analogue for future climate.
  3. It also offers source of revenue and potential to generate employment in the name of geo tourism.

 

Current Affair 4:
Nobel economics prize rewards work on minimum wage

 

The 2021 Nobel Prize for economic sciences has been awarded in one half to Canadian-born David Card and the other half jointly to Israeli-American Joshua D Angrist and Dutch-American Guido W Imbens.

Understanding their findings:

  • Nature works on a cause-and-effect relation. Things fall on the surface. Why? Because of gravity. Price of a product rise. Why? Because of demand or scarcity.
  • But economist does not have exact comparative analysis on how the counter argument would go? That what would happen if there increase in demand with scarcity and yet price does not rise. What if economist could get answers to those questions where it is hard to find the cause effect relation.
  • These three economists have developed a statistical model showing answers to these questions and similar questions using natural experiments.
  • The key is to use situations in which chance events or policy changes result in groups of people being treated differently, in a way that resembles clinical trials in medicine.

Experiment:

  • Using natural experiments, David Card has analysed the labour market effects of minimum wages, immigration and education.
  • His studies from the early 1990s challenged conventional wisdom, leading to new analyses and additional insights.
  • The results showed, among other things, that increasing the minimum wage does not necessarily lead to fewer jobs.

Another example:

Extending compulsory education by a year for one group of students (but not another) will not affect everyone in that group in the same way. Some students would have kept studying anyway and, for them, the value of education is often not representative of the entire group.

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