1)Project Loon:- Balloon-Powered Internet For Everyone
What is Project Loon? :-
Many of us think of the Internet as a global community. But two-thirds of the world’s population does not yet have Internet access. Project Loon is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps, and bring people back online after disasters
Project Loon balloons float in the stratosphere, twice as high as airplanes and the weather. In the stratosphere, there are many layers of wind, and each layer of wind varies in direction and speed. Loon balloons go where they’re needed by rising or descending into a layer of wind blowing in the desired direction of travel. By partnering with Telecommunications companies to share cellular spectrum we’ve enabled people to connect to the balloon network directly from their phones and other LTE-enabled devices. The signal is then passed across the balloon network and back down to the global Internet on Earth.
Project Loon began in June 2013 with an experimental pilot in New Zealand, where a small group of Project Loon pioneers tested Loon technology. The results of the pilot test, as well as subsequent tests in New Zealand, California’s Central Valley and in Northeast Brazil, are being used to improve the technology in preparation for the next stages of the project.
What is the importance of Loon from India’s Point of View :-
From Indian perspective project of this magnitude is important, the reasons are simple:-
For “Digital India” initiative it gives immense opportunities that can be realized in a very short span of time.The alternative to this is physical /broadband connectivity that needs physical infrastructure. Physical infrastructure takes time to build and includes high maintenance cost.It is easy to float a thousand balloons than to build lakhs of kms of digital infrastructure.The only challenge is the the demand of sophisticated engineering of higher order needed for Project Loon.
It is also poses serious questions of it’s geopolitical implication .Google is dominant in the internet arena and the invasion of “Right to Privacy” is a serious concern.This balloon can act as the eye on the sky owned by a particular private organization. And, in the age of “Data” , project of this magnitude should be understood and analyzed properly , else in the garb of science we might loose our edge on National security and our National interest might be subjugated.Hence for a project of this nature , while one can happily embrace science , one must be cautious about it’s future implications , and then there is the larger question of cyber terrorism – which has potential to bring a country to it’s knees .
We know that blocking river water , putting economic sanctions or withdrawing diplomatic support has been the way of exercising geopolitical power , however , in the age of data – it will be of no wonder , if internet blackout is used as tool of geopolitics and this project and implication , thus needs a holistic understanding from various arena – policy maker, cyber expert, scientist, physicist, climate engineers etc.
2)BIS elects Raghuram Rajan as its vice-chairman:-
Raghuram Rajan has been elected vice-chairman of the Bank of International Settlement (BIS). Mr. Rajan will have a three-year term as vice-chairman of the BIS.
The mission of the BIS is to serve central banks in their pursuit of monetary and financial stability, to foster international cooperation in those areas and to act as a bank for central banks.(For e.g.- The way RBI in India looks after monetary policy and liquidity , in the same way , in a globalized and interconnected economy, which has few reserve currency and most payments are made in dollar , it is necessary to have an institution such as BIS , which looks after global liquidity and stability of global monetary policy.
The BIS has 60 member central banks, representing countries from around the world that together make up about 95% of world GDP
This bank was created as part of ” Treaty of Versailles“*
*Treaty of Versailles:-
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers.The condition of this treaty was too harsh upon the German (huge monetary penalty was imposed on German to pay to other countries , for being an aggressor ) and many historians claim that the seeds of World War II and rise of Hitler were sown with the imposition of this treaty.
3)India Signs MoUs with six countries in the International Civil Aviation Negotiations :-
Note – Largely news of this nature is mostly fodder material for other recruitment exams and not for UPSC. However , the burden of UPSC aspirant is to know everything , if not in detail , at least in principle.As many aspirants rely upon us, we can’t discredit news like this , even though we believe it may not be as useful. We request you to go through the literature at least once. One never knows how it might help. If it does not help in prelims, it might help in adding points to your Mains answer, as in this case for Indian Aviation sector .
ICAN (International Civil Aviation Negotiations),2015 was held in Antalya, Turkey from 19th to 23rdOctober,2015. The Conference was attended by 106 countries out of ICAO membership of 191 countries
The Indian delegation representing Ministry of Civil Aviation participated in the Conference and negotiated with the delegations from 11 countries. During these negotiations,“Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)” was signed with six countries namely Finland, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Sweden, Norway &Denmark, Oman and Ethiopia and “Agreed Minutes”with Serbia, Greece, European Commission and “Record of Discussions” with Brunei Darussalam and Qatar.
4)Environment Minister Launches New Website on Climate Change :-
The website is launched in the run up to upcoming “Paris Conference”.
The in-depth analysis of “India-Climate Change- INDC and Paris Conference” has already been covered by us :- Click Here
Y S P Thorat (Former NABARD head) and R Gopalakrishnan has suggested few reforms that may help in Agriculture sector:-
Holistic Plan to be based on 5 Pillars:- Technology, Risk, Institutions, Policy and Skills (TRIPS)
Krishi Aayogshould be created on the lines of NITI Aayog
Key features should be promoting innovative research, funding projects and capacity building, focus on products or solutions for specific agricultural problems, thrust on networking and meaningful collaborations, between the public and private institutions, outcome-oriented, coupled with measurable milestones, leveraging the state’s extension machinery to promote modern technologies and streamlining of current responsibilities
Rules and regulations governing the exchange of plant parts and tissues, and export of research material, including seeds, need to be clear.
Strengthening agriculture financing and risk institutions
Crop Insurance:-The new crop insurance scheme should be based on a financially sustainable model. It should gain farmers’ trust through science-based, fast and affordable crop insurance. For this to be effective, farmers’ land records should be digitised through handheld GPS, leveraging technologies like drones, radar-based sensing and low earth orbits to monitor and assess crop damage in real-time, plus crop modelling for each block on the basis of weather parameters. The insurance product should cover market risks for all crops.
National Agriculture Policy, with a focus on productivity-linked growth. It should propagate a new approach to all areas – fertiliser, pesticides, marketing, mechanisation, extension services, foodgrain management and so forth
A national agriculture market would be there, guaranteeing unfettered access to an integrated, regulated and transparent pan-India market. All wholesale markets would be linked through national commodity exchanges, via electronic platforms
There is an urgent need to actively promote farmer-producer organisations or FPOs and start a concept of Agriculture Technical Training Institutions on the lines of Industrial training Institutes (it is) to train rural youth in modern practices and in entrepreneurship.
Use IT for agriculture, wider dissemination of crop insurance, rapid financial inclusion can go a long way in risk mitigation.
Darknet, also known as dark web or darknet market, refers to the part of the internet that is not indexed or accessible through traditional search engines. It is a network of private and encrypted websites that cannot be accessed through regular web browsers and requires special software and configuration to access.
The darknet is often associated with illegal activities such as drug trafficking, weapon sales, and hacking services, although not all sites on the darknet are illegal.
Examples of darknet markets include Silk Road, AlphaBay, and Dream Market, which were all shut down by law enforcement agencies in recent years.
These marketplaces operate similarly to e-commerce websites, with vendors selling various illegal goods and services, such as drugs, counterfeit documents, and hacking tools, and buyers paying with cryptocurrency for their purchases.
Anonymity: Darknet allows users to communicate and transact with each other anonymously. Users can maintain their privacy and avoid being tracked by law enforcement agencies or other entities.
Access to Information: The darknet provides access to information and resources that may be otherwise unavailable or censored on the regular internet. This can include political or sensitive information that is not allowed to be disseminated through other channels.
Freedom of Speech: The darknet can be a platform for free speech, as users are able to express their opinions and ideas without fear of censorship or retribution.
Secure Communication: Darknet sites are encrypted, which means that communication between users is secure and cannot be intercepted by third parties.
Illegal Activities: Many darknet sites are associated with illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, weapon sales, and hacking services. Such activities can attract criminals and expose users to serious legal risks.
Scams: The darknet is a hotbed for scams, with many fake vendors and websites that aim to steal users’ personal information and cryptocurrency. The lack of regulation and oversight on the darknet means that users must be cautious when conducting transactions.
Security Risks: The use of the darknet can expose users to malware and other security risks, as many sites are not properly secured or monitored. Users may also be vulnerable to hacking or phishing attacks.
Stigma: The association of the darknet with illegal activities has created a stigma that may deter some users from using it for legitimate purposes.
AI, or artificial intelligence, refers to the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence, such as recognizing speech, making decisions, and understanding natural language.
Virtual assistants: Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant are examples of virtual assistants that use natural language processing to understand and respond to users’ queries.
Recommendation systems: Companies like Netflix and Amazon use AI to recommend movies and products to their users based on their browsing and purchase history.
Efficiency: AI systems can work continuously without getting tired or making errors, which can save time and resources.
Personalization: AI can help provide personalized recommendations and experiences for users.
Automation: AI can automate repetitive and tedious tasks, freeing up time for humans to focus on more complex tasks.
Job loss: AI has the potential to automate jobs previously performed by humans, leading to job loss and economic disruption.
Bias: AI systems can be biased due to the data they are trained on, leading to unfair or discriminatory outcomes.
Safety and privacy concerns: AI systems can pose safety risks if they malfunction or are used maliciously, and can also raise privacy concerns if they collect and use personal data without consent.