Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Semi conductors
- Controlled Human infection studies
- Gig Workers Rights bill
- Process of amending SC list
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Semi conductor
Context: India is currently waking up to its opportunities vis-à-vis semiconductors: access to the underlying technologies has been a long-standing dream of India. Success on this front would place India among a small, elite group of nations that have access to the tech as well as provide thousands of highly skilled jobs. As a result, the term “semiconductor node” has become the talk of the town.
What is a semiconductor chip?
- A semiconductor chip is composed of transistors, which in turn are meticulously crafted from a specially selected material, typically silicon.
- One major function of a transistor is to encode information in the form of 0s and 1s, and to manipulate them to produce new information.
- These transistors have three parts: the source, the gate, and the drain (or the sink).
- How it works? – The flow of current between the source and the drain points is regulated by the voltage applied to the gate. This arrangement gave rise to the specific meaning of ‘gate’ in computing – analogous to a physical gate but operating with electrical means rather than mechanical ones.
- By manipulating the gate to ‘open’ or ‘close’, the transistor stores and manipulates the data in a semiconductor chip. The semiconductor stores information in the form of bits. Each bit is a logical state that can have one of two values (represented by voltage levels) at a time. The more bits a semiconductor can store and the more quickly it can manipulate them, the more data transistors can process.
- The three parts of a transistor are connected to multiple metal layers on top of them that apply voltages, forming a complex mesh of electrical connections with the transistors. The metal layers allow selective access to a transistor and provide the versatility required for the chip to execute multiple tasks.
What does node number mean?
- Through history, the names of semiconductor nodes have been based on two numbers: the length of the gate and the distance between adjacent metal strips connected to the gate; the latter, when measured centre to centre, is called the pitch. These dimensions were often equal.
- For example, the 500-nm node featured a gate length and metal half-pitch of 500 nm. This naming convention started with the invention of the transistor in 1960, with the 50,000 nm (50 microns) node, up to the 350-nm node of the 1990s.
- The smaller a transistor becomes, the more of them can be fit on a semiconductor chip, the more data the chip can store, the more computing power there will be.
- Yet as transistors continued to become smaller, researchers spotted a discrepancy between the gate length and the metal pitch, rooted in the fact that while smaller transistors generally resulted in faster operation, reducing the size of metal wires created different problems, including not being able to transport data fast enough.
- In 1997, a 250-nm semiconductor node hit the market – and also broke the naming convention. Its metal half-pitch contributed to the name, but its gate length, which had been reduced to 200 nm, didn’t. Since then, as the miniaturisation continued, both the half-pitch and gate length ceased to contribute to the node name.
- Node names hold no significance vis-à-vis the actual physical dimensions. Instead, marketers use them to mean one node is better than a previous iteration.
What is the need of legacy nodes?
- The most advanced nodes are used in devices like smartphones and laptops, many applications require legacy nodes, including robotics, defence, aerospace, industry automation tools, automobiles, Internet of Things, and image sensors – because they are more cost-effective.
- The principal revenue source for any fabrication facility, or ‘fab’, is its most advanced node. But almost every commercial fab also maintains the production of legacy nodes to fulfil demands in the aforementioned areas.
- Indeed, as the demand for electric cars – together with the ever-increasing demand for complementary electronics in the car, like music players – increases, the demand for legacy nodes will also increase.
- Given these facts, the Indian government and private players are sensible to begin their semiconductor journey with the legacy nodes, improving their game over time.
2 . Controlled human infection studies
Context: India has taken its first step to introduce controlled human infection studies (CHIS) that is used in many countries for vaccine and treatment development.
What is controlled human infection studies?
- In a Controlled Human Infection Model (CHIM) study, a well-characterised strain of an infectious agent is given to carefully selected adult volunteers in order to better understand human diseases, how they spread, and find new ways to prevent and treat them. These studies play a vital role in helping to develop vaccines for infectious diseases.
- The results can help researchers to:
- understand more about how the body’s immune system responds to a disease
- work out how to prevent the disease or improve its treatment
- test the effectiveness of potential new vaccines and treatments
- monitor the performance of approved vaccines and treatments in the real world.
What are the issues in controlled human infection studies?
- These studies are ethically sensitive and raise concerns about contentious research ethics — issues like deliberate harm, possible disproportionate payment and hence inducements, third-party risk, withdrawal from the study and research with vulnerable participants.
- Hence these studies need a streamlined ethics review process with additional ethical oversight and safeguards to protect the study participants
What are the significance of controlled human studies for India?
- India carries a high burden of morbidity and mortality from infectious diseases. They contribute about 30% of the disease burden in the country. Finding novel, efficient, and cost-effective alternatives to existing methods of research in these diseases and their prevention is imperative to reduce this burden.
- CHIS is a relatively new research model that helps provide unique insights into disease pathogenesis and can accelerate the development of novel medical interventions
- It further states that CHIS offers accelerated, cost-effective, and efficient outcomes using smaller sample sizes in comparison to large clinical trials. Its social value includes potential contributions to public health response to diseases of concern, healthcare decision-making, policies and economic benefits, improved pandemic preparedness, and community empowerment.
- What are the concerns? – CHIS is a highly complex area and may require collaborations at different levels between researchers, institutions, organisations and/or between different countries. Collaborations should be encouraged to get the right expertise which may not be available with one centre/research team.
3 . Gig workers Right Bill
Context: The Rajasthan government passed the Rajasthan Platform Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill, 2023. It is the first legislation of its kind in India outlining welfare schemes for the State’s approximately three lakh gig workers.
Gig workers are independent contractors, online platform workers, contract firm workers, on-call workers, and temporary workers. Gig workers enter into formal agreements with on-demand companies to provide services to the company’s clients
What did the Bill propose?
- The Bill applies to “aggregators” (digital intermediaries connecting buyers and sellers) and “primary employers” (individual or organisations engaging platform-based workers).
- The Bill proposes a Welfare Board comprising State officials, five representatives each from gig workers and aggregators, and two others from civil society.
- The Board will “set up a welfare fund, register platform-based gig workers, aggregators and primary employers… facilitate guarantee of social security to platform-based gig workers and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
- The Board will maintain a database of companies and workers and each worker will receive a unique ID which “shall be valid in perpetuity.”
- Social security and Welfare fund: Social Security and Welfare Fund” comprising contributions made by individual workers, State government aids, other sources and a ‘welfare cess’ — a cut from each transaction — which the aggregator is required to pay.
- The rate of the welfare cess will not exceed 2% nor fall short of 1% of the value of “each transaction,” and aggregators are required to submit the amount within the first five days of a month.
- But the Unions objected to contributing to the fund, arguing that it should be sourced only from aggregator companies and State funds, owing to the fluctuating and inadequate nature of pay.
About the Rights of the Gig Workers
- The Bill states any person has the right to be registered the minute they join an app-based platform, regardless of the duration of work or how many providers they work for.
- The Welfare Board is expected to formulate schemes “for social security,” listing only accidental insurance and health insurance, and “other benefits concerning health, accident and education as may be prescribed.”
About Workers grievances
- Gig workers “have an opportunity to be heard for any grievances” with “entitlements, payments and benefits provided under the Act.” Per Section 15, a worker can file a petition physically before an officer or online through the web portal. The employer can object to the order within 90 days before an ‘Appellate Authority’. Several reports have documented ineffective and unresponsive redressal mechanisms. Urban Company workers are currently protesting the “arbitrary” blocking of their accounts and a lack of support.
- An aggregator’s duties under the Bill include: depositing welfare cess on time, updating the database of gig workers, and documenting any variations in numbers within one month of such changes. If they fail to comply, they will be fined up to ₹5 lakh for the first offence and ₹50 lakh for further violations; primary employers will pay up to ₹10,000 for the first offence and ₹2 lakh for subsequent violations.
4 . Process of amending the Schedule caste list
Context: The Union Social Justice Ministry introduced the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2023 in the Lok Sabha to add two synonyms for the Mahar community in Chhattisgarh to the State’s Scheduled Castes list.
Process of amending SC List
- Scheduled caste are specified under the provisions of Articles 341. Government has laid down Modalities in June, 1999, as amended in June, 2002 for processing of modifications in the lists of SCs and STs.
- The Modalities envisage that only such proposals of the concerned State Governments/ Union Territory Administrations, which have been agreed to by the Registrar General of India (RGI) and National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), in the case of SCs, are further processed in accordance with provisions of clause (2) of Articles 341.
- The Constitution empowers the President to specify the Scheduled Castes (SCs) in various states and union territories. As any amendment in the list of Scheduled Castes can be made only by an Act of Parliament, in view of clause (2) of Article 341 of Constitution of India, no time frame can be assigned in the matter.
- Scheduled caste criteria- Extreme social, educational and economic backwardness arising out of traditional practice of untouchability.
5 . Facts for Prelims
- The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel. As the supreme state body, the Knesset is sovereign and thus has total control of the entirety of the Israeli government. It also has a constituent role in the creation of a constitution for the State of Israel.
- The Knesset passes all laws, elects the president and prime minister (although the latter is ceremonially appointed by the President), approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government, among other things.
- It also has the power to waive the immunity of its members, remove the president and the state comptroller from office, dissolve the government in a constructive vote of no confidence, and to dissolve itself and call new elections. The prime minister may also dissolve the Knesset. However, until an election is completed, the Knesset maintains authority in its current composition.
National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities
- The National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities is an Indian government agency responsible for maintaining cultural heritage database under the Ministry of Culture of the government of India. It was launched in 2007 aimed at studying, researching and preserving the cultural heritage of India
- The main goal of the agency is to make information available online to the general public, explicitly for scholars and students interested or associated with the subject.
- Responsible to maintain two national registers such as national registers on antiquities and national register on Built Heritage & Sites (BH&S), it is referred to one of the important databases of the country in architectural and historical perspectives alongside the Archaeological Survey of India, a nodal agency of the NMMA. It collaborates contractually with the state governments to collect reference works for managing its database more efficiently as amended by the union government.
Meri maati mera desh campaign
- Meri Mati Mera Desh” campaign, which will span from August 9 to August 15. The program is an integral part of the concluding ceremonies of Azadi Ka Amrit Mohotsav. Its central focus revolves around “soil,” symbolizing the essence and unity of the nation. The campaign aims to collect soil from every panchayat across the country and assemble it in Delhi to pay homage to the valiant heroes. A momentous Azadi Ka Amrit Mohotsav Memorial and Amrit Bhatika will be erected, commemorating the sacrifices of these heroes
Highlights of the Campaign:
- To ensure the campaign’s resounding success, several key aspects were discussed during the meeting:
- Memorial Plaques: The campaign will be carried out at the Panchayat level, where memorial plaques honoring the country’s heroes will be placed, particularly near the Amrit Sarovar reservoir.
- Panchprana Pledge: In Panchayats, participants will take the Panchprana pledge with mud lamps and upload selfies on a dedicated website for the campaign.
- Tree Plantation: Each village panchayat in India will plant 75 local tree saplings to commemorate the heroes and contribute to environmental conservation.
- Honoring the Brave: The families of freedom fighters, defense personnel, state police personnel, and Central Armed Police Force will be honored during the campaign. The national flag will be hoisted, and the national anthem will be played with due respect.
- Mitti Yatra: As part of the campaign, soil will be collected from villages and transported to the Panchayats, followed by block-wise Mitti Yatra. Dedicated youth from each block will carry earthen pots on a journey towards Delhi’s Kartavya path.
- Amrit Bhatika: In Delhi, Amrit Bhatika will be created with soil brought by 7,500 youths from each block, signifying the unity and strength of the nation.
- Final Ceremony: The campaign’s culminating event will take place during the final ceremony, where the significance of the soil and the sacrifices of the heroes will be commemorated.