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Current Affairs – 18 October 2021

Nobel Prize 2021 for Economics

Business Line

GS 3: Economy

Context:

  • David Card, Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens were the 2021 Nobel Prize winners in Economics for their contribution in the field of labour economics.
  • Their work is based on cause-and-effect related issues and is particularly relevant in public policy.

About:

  • They have provided us with new insights about the labour market and shown what conclusions about cause and effect can be drawn from natural experiments.
  • Their approach has spread to other fields and revolutionised empirical research.
  • David Card has analysed how minimum wages, immigration and education impact the labour market.
  • One of the significant findings of this research was that “increasing the minimum wage does not necessarily lead to fewer jobs”.
  • It also led to the understanding that “people who were born in a country can benefit from new immigration, while people who immigrated at an earlier time risk being negatively affected”.
  • It also illuminated the role of resources available in school in shaping the future of students in the labour market.
  • Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens were rewarded for their “methodological contributions” to the research tool.
  • Their work demonstrated “how precise conclusions about cause and effect can be drawn from natural experiments”.

Key questions in labour economics answered by their work:

Do more years of education lead to higher future income?

  • Their experiments showed that students who studied more earned higher income.
  • This study cannot be done with a fixed set of respondents.
  • Understanding the socio-economic conditions and observing the target populations over a time period is important, which the observational data approach helped.

Does an increase in minimum wage lead to lower employment?

  • This is a critical question for the labour market to find a balance.
  • The labour wants a higher wage. But companies like to be selective in paying higher wage to the more efficient.
  • David Card’s analysis shows that employment does not suffer with an increase in minimum wage.
  • Because, when minimum wage increases labour tends to become more efficient which helps the organisation to increase output.
  • So, labour costs do not get burdensome.

Do immigrants create problems to the local labour force?

  • This was one of the key issues in the US that came up especially under the Trump regime.
  • It was alleged that immigrants tend to take over the jobs of the local population.
  • David Card’s analysis shows this does not necessarily happen, and it depends on the level of work.

Challenges:

  • The larger question is whether corporates can wait for long to get these results before launching a product.
  • Often the product is differentiated and cannot be compared with stories of other companies.
  • So, such natural experiments tend to work better for government-driven programmes where experiences from the past provide signals for the future.
  • In other words, from the public policy point of view, these theories are very relevant and more likely to be pursued.

 

E-voting

The Hindu

GS 2: Polity

Context:

  • Former Chief Election Commissioners (CEC) have raised a range of concerns, from maintaining secrecy of ballots to bringing political parties on board around the idea of online voting and remote voting.
  • This came at a time the Telangana State Election Commission is set to carry out an e-voting experiment and the Election Commission of India, too, is exploring remote voting.

About:

  • E-Voting/Remote Voting will allow electors to vote from faraway cities without going to the designated polling station of their constituencies.
  • The voters will have to reach a designated venue during a pre-decided period of time to be able to use this facility.
  • The IIT-M is developing a system for two-way remote voting in a controlled environment using blockchain technology.
  • It would entail voter identification and authorisation on the Electoral Registration Officer Network (ERO Net) using biometric data and web cameras for authentication, followed by a blockchain-based e-ballot generation, which would convert into a vote once the hash code would be generated on its execution.
  • The encrypted remote votes cast would once again be validated at the pre-counting stage to ensure that they have neither been decrypted nor tampered with or replaced.

International perspective:

  • Countries such as the USA, Argentina, Russia, Estonia, Thailand and South Korea in the past have utilised the blockchain methods for conducting voting processes for their citizens, with a fair share of positives and negatives deriving consequentially.

India’s position:

  • India has had a positive response towards exploring the implementation of blockchain networks across several sectors, including election systems.
  • The foremost example is that of the Telangana government, which aims at implementing an experimental run towards an e-voting idea.
  • The ECI had used a one-way electronic system for service electors for the first time in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
  • The postal ballots were transmitted electronically to the service electors, which led to an increased turnout of 60.14%.
  • In 2020, the Election Commission conducted several discussions and demonstrations with various state governments, policy think tanks, and private industry stakeholders to explore the idea of a nationwide remote blockchain election system.
    • In February 2020, it had collaborated with the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M)

Significance:

  • Breaks the geographical barriers
  • More Flexible for voters
  • Inclusion of eligible voters and increase turnout in voting numbers
  • It will be promoting security towards the recording of votes as opposed to physical tampering.
  • Efficiency in counting votes
  • Minimising errors

Concerns:

  • Reliability  
    • O.P. Rawat, who was the CEC in 2018, agreed that if the security of EVMs that are standalone devices was questioned from time to time, then Internet-based voting would have even more issues and critics.
  • It might be attacked by hackers which would distort the final result.
  • Issues of Privacy

Way Forward:

  • It can be stated that blockchain technology in elections is a double-edged sword and one needs to ponder upon whether there are additional complications that arise out of the same.
  • The existing laws will have to be amended to undertake that gigantic exercise which also requires political consensus.
  • The issue of individual privacy and data protection in the course of collation, authentication of personal data for blockchain elections require significant deliberation.
    • There would be process changes and wider consultations with all the stakeholders including political parties before the facility is rolled out.
  • In order to ensure an effective blockchain election system, two points stand pertinent:
    • Cryptography involved blockchain election system should ensure a tamper-free record, display, and calculation of data involved in the election.
    • Policymakers should pay attention to the aspect of data protection and privacy in the course of authenticating a valid voter via biometric systems.

 

Research Centre for Indian art set up in Zurich Museum

The Hindu

Prelims Fact

Context:

  • Museum Rietberg based in Zurich, Switzerland has established a unique research centre and fellowship programme named GBF Centre.

Purpose of the GBF Centre:

  • GBF Centre is a public-private partnership initiative meant for scholars, curators and artists who specialise in Indian painting.
  • The centre takes its name from the initials of its founders, three renowned names in art historical research, Prof. B.N. Goswamy from India, Prof. Milo Cleveland Beach from the U.S and Dr. Eberhard Fischer from Switzerland.
  • Aim: To enhance international scientific, artistic, and curatorial exchange on Indian art and advance the museum’s own collections through dialogues from different perspectives.
  • As part of the initiative, research fellows will get a chance to engage with original artworks from renowned collections for three to six months in a project of their own design.
  • The research fellows will work with the museum’s team of scholars as well as experts from Switzerland and Europe. Their papers will be presented at lectures and conferences and feed into the work at the Rietberg.

Museum Rietberg

  • It was founded in 1952.
  • It is the only art museum for non-European art in Switzerland, and houses collections from Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Oceania.
  • It holds exhibitions, cultural events, and global collaborations.
  • Its Indian paintings collection is ranked alongside those in London, Paris, and Berlin.

 

‘One Health’ Consortium

PIB

Prelims Fact

Context:

  • The Department of Biotechnology has launched a ‘One Health’ consortium in a virtual mode.
Purpose of the ‘One Health’ Consortium:
  • One Health Consortium has been launched to carry out surveillance of important viral, bacterial, & parasitic infections of zoonotic and transboundary pathogens in India.
  • The consortium will also look into the use of existing diagnostic tests and the development of additional methodologies to conduct surveillance and understand the spread of emerging diseases.
Organisations under ‘One Health’ Consortium
  • One Health Consortium comprises 27 organisations and is led by the DBT-National Institute of Animal Biotechnology, Hyderabad.

One Health Approach:

  • One Health is an approach that recognises that the health of human beings is connected to the health of animals and the environment.
  • Hence, it aims to design and implement programmes, policies, legislation and research in a way in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes.