GS II Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
New technology to check illegal mining.
The government has launched the Mining Surveillance System (MSS). MSS is a satellite-based monitoring system which aims to establish a regime of responsive mineral administration, through public participation, by curbing instances of illegal mining activity through automatic remote sensing detection technology.
Ministry of Mines, through Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), has developed the MSS, in coordination with Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geo-informatics (BISAG), Gandhinagar and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY).
Significance of MSS:
Developed under the Digital India Programme, MSS is one of the first such surveillance systems developed in the world using space technology. The current system of monitoring of illegal mining activity is based on local complaints and unconfirmed information. There is no robust mechanism to monitor the action taken on such complaints.
How it operates?
In the MSS the maps of the mining leases have been geo-referenced. The geo-referenced mining leases are superimposed on the latest satellite remote sensing scenes obtained from CARTOSAT & USGS.
The system checks a region of 500 meters around the existing mining lease boundary to search for any unusual activity which is likely to be illegal mining. Any discrepancy if found is flagged-off as a trigger.
Automatic software leveraging image processing technology will generate automatic triggers of unauthorized activities. These triggers will be studied at a Remote Sensing Control Centre of IBM and then transmitted to the district level mining officials for field verification. A check for illegality in operation in conducted and reported back using a mobile app.
A user-friendly mobile app has been created which can be used by these officials to submit compliance reports of their inspections. The mobile app also aims to establish a participative monitoring system where the citizens also can use this app and report unusual mining activity.
GS II topic- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
The Global TB Report 2016
The country has 27 per cent of the global burden of incident tuberculosis and 34 per cent of global TB deaths.
For the year 2015, the updated estimate of is 2.8 million cases. India diagnosed and notified 1.7 million incident TB patients in 2015, leaving approximately 1.1 million presumptive patients whose fate was unknown.
Worryingly, the 2015 estimate of the number of TB deaths is 4,78,000 — making TB one of the leading causes of death in India.
Further, of the estimated 79,000 cases of multidrug resistant (MDR) TB, about 31,000 were diagnosed and the majority put on treatment.
There is strong political commitment at the moment to tackle TB head-on and achieve the 90-90-90 targets by 2035 (90 per cent reductions in incidence, mortality and catastrophic health expenditures due to TB). In order to do this, our policies must be driven by data and evidence, as well as be responsive to patient needs and expectations. Unlike polio, we do not have an effective vaccine to prevent TB, so our strategy must be based on finding all cases, treating them appropriately, reducing risk factors and preventing further transmission. For this, we need better and more efficient diagnostics, shorter treatment courses, a better vaccine (BCG protects only young children from severe forms of TB) and better preventive strategies.
Hope with research
There is hope on all these fronts. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Department of Biotechnology (DBT) have a joint programme to evaluate indigenous TB diagnostics and have evaluated a couple of very promising products which could potentially replace imported tests.
Two new drugs for TB (Bedaquiline and Delamanid) were introduced globally in 2013 and can now be tested in combination trials to see if shorter and more effective treatment regimens can be created.
Indian scientists working in laboratories of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), the DBT and the Indian Institute of Science as well as some new start-up companies have identified several targets and compounds, which need further work (pre-clinical, toxicology and clinical trials), to see if a new drug for TB can be developed.
A modified, recombinant BCG vaccine developed by German scientists and to be manufactured at the Serum Institute of India, will soon be tested at many centres in India to try and reduce recurrences of TB in treated patients.
Focus on nutrition
Of the many risk factors for TB, the one that we need to pay most attention to is under nutrition. Malnutrition (low body weight) is responsible for 50 per cent of TB in India and also leads to higher death rate, because of the low capacity of the body to mount an immune response.
Reports from tribal areas of our country show that the average body weight of men and women with TB is 30-35 kg!
Prevalence rates of TB are directly correlated with socio-economic status, with people in the lowest economic quintile having 3-4 times the rate of TB than those in the highest.
Researchers, academics, government and private sector doctors, corporate sector and industry, non-governmental organisations, TB programme staff, treated TB patients, students and all citizens can contribute to this effort. We have a window of opportunity now — TB can be history by 2050 if we try.
GS II Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Kigali makes history with HFC freeze
More than 190 countries in Kigali, adopted an amendment to the 1989 Montreal Protocol to eliminate planet-warming HFC gases (not ozone depleting), thus delivering the second major international agreement in less than a year to fight climate change. Complete elimination of HFCs by the year 2050 is estimated to prevent about 0.5 degree celsius rise in global temperatures by the end of this century. .
The announcement came at Kigali where 197 countries that are party to the Montreal Protocolwere trying to negotiate a deal to substantially reduce the use of HFCs by 2030.
The amendment to the legally-binding Montreal Protocol will ensure that the rich and industrialised countries bring down their HFC production and consumption by at least 85 per cent compared to their annual average values in the period 2011-2013.
Developing countries will follow with a freeze of HFCs consumption levels in 2024, with some countries freezing consumption in 2028. By the late 2040s, all countries are expected to consume no more than 15-20% of their respective baselines. Overall, the agreement is expected to reduce HFC use by 85% by 2045.
As per the agreement, China, which is the largest producer of HFCs in the world, will reduce HFC use by 80% by 2045 over the 2020-22 baseline. India will reduce the use of HFCs by 85% over the 2024-26 baseline.
The countries negotiating at Kigali also agreed to provide adequate financing for HFCs reduction—which runs in billions of dollars globally.
The amendment will enter into force on 1 January, 2019, provided that at least 20 instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval of the Amendment have been deposited by states or regional economic integration organisations that are parties to the Montreal Protocol on substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
GS II Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
BRICS meet declaration pledges to fight terror
The 8th BRICS summit has ended with the adoption of the Goa Declaration.
The theme for the summit was “Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions”.
The Declaration urged the dismantling of terror bases and said nations should adopt a comprehensive approach that includes tackling radicalisation, recruitment, cutting off terror funding systems and address terrorism on the internet and social media. The declaration mention ISIS, Al Qaeda and Jubhat ul Nusra.
The declaration calls for a “holistic approach” and says all counter-terrorism measures should “uphold international law and respect human rights”.
The declaration also emphasized the need for adaptation of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN General Assembly and the urgent need to reform the United Nations, including UN Security Council, to increase representation of developing countries.
It also expressed its confidence in resolving international problems that require collective efforts for peaceful settlement of disputes through political and diplomatic means.
The declaration also condemned unilateral military interventions and economic sanctions in violation of international law and universally recognised norms of international relations.
Concerns about the situation in the Middle East and North Africa were also expressed. BRICS countries have expressed their support for finding ways to the settlement of the crises in accordance with international law and in conformity with the principles of independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the countries of the region.
India and Russia have signed a deal on S-400 missile systems
It would be a game-changer in countering airborne threats.
It is one of the most advanced long-range defence systems in the world.
It can tackle all airborne targets at a range of up to 400 km. The system has 8 launchers, a control centre, a powerful radar and 16 missiles that are available for reload.
The system is capable of firing three types of missiles, hence creating a layered defence for any country that owns it.
The S-400 would help check short and medium range ballistic missile threats.
India is the second purchaser of this system after China, which had struck a deal with Russia for S-400 last year.
India and Russia have signed a deal to jointly produce 200 Kamov Ka-226T helicopters, at the India Russia Summit in Goa. The helicopters are believed to boost the capabilities of the armed forces.
Kamov 226T will replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak choppers.
Kamov is a small, twin engine Russian utility helicopter. It is manufactured by Russian Helicopters.
This light multipurpose helicopter has a maximum takeoff weight of 3.6 tons. It can carry up to one ton payload. It has a maximum speed 220 Km/hr.
The machine has excellent maneuverability and handling, easy maintenance.
GS II Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear (SSBN)
India has quietly completed its nuclear triad by inducting the indigenously built strategic nuclear submarine INS Arihant into service.
With this India joins the select group of countries which have a nuclear triad (The UK, USA, France, Russia and China possesses as of now), i.e. capable of delivering nuclear weapons by aircraft, ballistic missiles and submarine launched missiles.
Arihant is capable of carrying nuclear tipped ballistic missiles, the class referred to as Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear (SSBN). SSBNs are designed to prowl the deep ocean waters carrying nuclear weapons and provide a nation with an assured second strike capability — the capability to strike back after being hit by nuclear weapons first.
The vessel weighing 6000 tonnes is powered by a 83 MW pressurised light water nuclear reactor.
It will be armed with the K-15 Sagarika missiles with a range of 750 km and eventually with the much longer range K-4 missiles being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation
GS II Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Law Commission suggests changes in govt. draft Bill on child abduction
The 21st Law Commission in its first report has recommended a series of changes in the draft Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Bill-2016, proposed by the Women and Child Development Ministry.
Recommendations made by the commission:
One-year jail term for wrongful retention or removal of a child from the custody of a parent. The offenders may include one of the parents or family, relatives and others.
Three months punishment for wilful misrepresentation or concealment of fact as regards the location or information about the child or for voluntarily preventing the safe return of the child.
In June, 2016, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) uploaded on its website a proposal to enact a draft of the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Bill, 2016. This was considered as it was imperative to have an enabling legislation in India before accession to the Hague Convention.
The proposed Bill considered the removal to or the retention of a child in India to be wrongful if it is in breach of rights of custody attributed to a person, an institution, or any other body, either jointly or alone, at a place where the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention.
Election Commission of India to Organize ‘International Conference on “Voter Education for Inclusive, Informed and Ethical Participation”
The first ever Global Conference on Voter Education titled “Voter Education for Inclusive, Informed and Ethical Participation” is being organized by the Election Commission of India in association with UNDP from 19th to 21st October, 2016 at New Delhi. The main purpose of the conference is to learn from the experiences of EMBs, government and non-government by way of sharing the best practices, policies and initiatives of voter education.
The ECI envisages a number of initiatives towards achieving international synergy in Voter Education and awareness. In this regard, the following components, during the Conference, shall be of significance:
GLOBAL PLATFORM: The Conference shall provide the first ever global platform for the sharing of best practices in voter education. The participants consist of a varied conglomeration of nations ranging from relatively young democracies to nations spreading across all continents of the world. This diverse variety of knowledge and experience would enable to bring out ‘best of the best’ global practices in the Conference.
OVERSEAS INDIAN SURVEY CUM COMPETITOIN: With the Conference, the ECI also launches the NRI survey cum competition. It aims to not only gather useful data through the survey but also attract and engage NRIs about their voting eligibility and rights. This will also help guide the Commission in formulating further voting initiatives especially designed for the Overseas Indian population.
The VoICE.NET: The Conference will see the launch of the ambitious project of VoICE.NET. It is a Global Knowledge Network on voter education with membership from participating EMBs and Organisation working in the field of elections and democracy – VoICE.NET. This network will provide an innovative wide platform to share knowledge resources, interact on discussion board, sharing platform for events and practices in member countries and also extend its knowledge and resource support to stakeholders e.g. CSOs, Departments and other organisations associated with elections besides Academic Institutions.
THE EXHIBITION: An exhibition showcasingVoter Education tools and materials from India and across the world consisting of informational material, model polling station, provision of live voting on EVM, photos, videos, 3D models, interactive games developed by ECI shall be on show.The substantial quantum of Voter Education material developed by ECI, the voter education guides/brochures, the compilation of Human Stories and other literature including the praiseworthy Braille brochures on voting education shall also be on display.
THE RESOLUTION:The Conference will also aim to achieve a Resolution to strengthen Inclusive, Informed and Ethical electoral participation among member countries with the help of Voter Education and outreach.
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.