Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 31 August 2022
Strictly exclude undergrad courses from common entrance exams: Kerala panel
Undergraduate courses should be “strictly excluded” from the common entrance examination and such exams be limited to admissions to the postgraduate and research courses only if the universities are willing to participate in them, one of the panels appointed in Kerala last year to suggest higher education reforms has said. The panel has called common entrance exams violative of the autonomy of the universities in deciding admission processes.
The recommendations come as the Centre is holding the first Common University Entrance Exam (CUET) for undergraduate admissions. Last month, 7,700 students appeared in the first phase of CUET-UG in Kerala.
The panel has suggested the introduction of deprivation points for marginalised students, an increase in the number of seats in colleges and universities, more scholarships, research parks in every university and college, and a law to prevent corrupt practices. It has recommended a single exit option for the four-year undergraduate programmes while the National Education Policy 2020 envisages three.
The Kerala government last year appointed three panels to suggest measures to improve higher education. One of them under former BR Ambedkar University (Delhi) Vice Chancellor ShyamMenon submitted its report this month.
The commission said thrusting a uniform system of entrance tests on all universities at all levels like CUET is tantamount to violating the autonomy of universities. “Any common examination shall strictly exclude undergraduate programmes and may be confined to postgraduate programmes and above. This issue may be periodically revisited and discussed,” the commission said in its report.
Menon said the commission felt it should be left to the universities if they want to participate in common entrance exams for admissions to courses other than undergraduate. “The number of students taking admissions to undergraduate courses every year is huge. It is logistically very difficult to conduct a common entrance examination for so many students. It will also help the coaching industry. Besides, such a system completely violates the autonomy of universities...”
UN chief to travel to Pak next week on solidarity visit amid devastating floods
UN chief Antonio Guterres will travel to Pakistan next week for a solidarity visit as the country and millions of its people reel from the impact of "epochal" levels of rain and flooding, as a USD 160 million emergency plan was launched to help the cash-starved nation deal with the climate calamity.
A statement issued here Tuesday said that Secretary-General Guterres will travel to Pakistan for a solidarity visit given the “tragic situation facing millions of men, women and children impacted by historic floods.”
The Secretary-General is expected to arrive in Islamabad on September 9 and will then travel to the areas most impacted by the unprecedented climate catastrophe.
Guterres will meet with displaced families and will also witness how the UN is working, in collaboration with its humanitarian partners, to support the government’s relief efforts and provide assistance to millions of people. Guterres is expected back in New York on September 11.
In a video message on the flash appeal in support of the Pakistan Flood Response Plan, Guterres said the country is “awash in suffering."
“The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids -- the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding. This climate catastrophe has killed more than 1,000 people with many more injured,” he said.
Millions have been rendered homeless, schools and health facilities have been destroyed, livelihoods are shattered, critical infrastructure wiped out, and people’s hopes and dreams have washed away, Guterres said.
The “2022 Pakistan Floods Response Plan (FRP)” was jointly launched by the Government of Pakistan and the United Nations, simultaneously in Islamabad and Geneva. The FRP is being launched against the backdrop of devastating rains, floods and landslides that have impacted more than 33 million people in different parts of Pakistan.
Over 1,100 people, including over 350 children have lost their lives, more than 1,600 people have been injured, over 287,000 houses have been fully and 662,000 partially destroyed, over 735,000 livestock have perished and 2 million acres of crops have been adversely impacted, besides severe damage to communications infrastructure.
Use technology to make insurance affordable, says Irdai chairman Panda
High operating and distribution costs and inflated hospital expenses have kept the cost of health insurance products elevated, making them unaffordable for a section of the society, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) Chairman Debasish Panda said on Tuesday.
“We have to look at ways of reducing expenses to make insurance affordable,” said Panda, while addressing the Health Insurance Summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry.
The Irdai chairman suggested that advanced technological solutions such as using artificial intelligence for creating tailor-made health insurance products can be the way out.
Panda also nudged the industry to come out with solutions that are pocket-friendly. Often out-of-pocket expenses for consumables become a thorn in the side of the insured despite having a policy.
Panda said in tier II cities, health insurance providers are not able to sell insurance products because there is inadequate hospital infrastructure, terming it a chicken-and egg situation.
“Insurance companies and hospitals need to work together and investors need to invest in both these sectors,” he added.
Vinod Paul, member, NITI Aayog, emphasised on designing the right health insurance products covering the elderly as well as for people with pre-existing diseases without exclusion.
Paul said the insurance industry must develop workable products for the missing middle before December, bring transparency in the health care system and expand and speed up penetration of private health care in the country.
The Aayog in its report titled ‘Health Insurance for India’s Missing Middle’ released in 2021 said that at least 30 per cent of the population, or 400 million individuals — called the missing middle — are devoid of financial protection for health.
::Science and tech::
After postponing Artemis 1 launch, NASA to make second attempt on 03-09-2022
NASA will make a second attempt to launch its Artemis 1 mission, within a 2-hour window on September 3, the US space agency announced on Tuesday (local time).
The window will open at 2:17pm EDT (11:47pm IST) on the new launch date, it added.
Meanwhile, the official Twitter handle of Artemis 1 said, "Teams have reviewed the data from Monday's launch attempt of the #Artemis I mission and are moving forward with a second launch attempt on Sat., Sept. 3, with a two-hour launch window starting at 2:17 p.m. EDT.
NASA scientists will try to blast off the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket – the mission's carrier vehicle – from the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The launch of Artemis 1 on the initial date – August 29 – was postponed as the teams could not get the rocket's engines to the proper temperature range required to start the engines at liftoff, and ultimately ran out of time in the launch window, also of 2 hours, to continue.
The mission management team met a day later to review the data collected from the first attempt, and to discuss the next course of action, a NASA press release said.
Artemis 1 represents the first of NASA's several upcoming and ‘increasingly complex’ missions, all under its Artemis programme, which aims to build a ‘long-term human presence at the Moon for decades to come’.
Under this, the agency will send the first woman and first person of colour to the lunar surface, for a period of six weeks, or, specifically, 42 days, 3 hours and 20 minutes.
Venus Williams out of US Open in first round for second time
The welcome and support for Venus Williams in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday afternoon were not the same as they were for her sister, Serena, a night earlier. Nor was the result.
Venus, who turned 42 in June, has not made any pronouncements about her future in tennis, unlike her younger sibling, and while she has been successful and influential, too — a seven-time Grand Slam champion; a Black woman in a predominantly white sport — the fanfare and attention are not the same.
Playing in front of thousands of empty blue seats in an arena quite silent at the start, although growing louder later, Venus bowed out in the first round of the U.S. Open for the second consecutive appearance, losing 6-1, 7-6 (5) to Alison Van Uytvanck.
“She means so much to female tennis. Tennis, in general,” Van Uytvanck said. “She’s a legend.”
This was the 23rd trip to Flushing Meadows for Venus, who made it to the final in 1997 as a teen then won the trophy in 2000 and 2001, and her record 91st time participating in a major tournament.