Current Affairs Analysis

22nd November 2019 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

What is Botulinum? Sambhar Lake; Sections 5(1)(f) and 10(2) of Citizenship Act, 1955; Criteria to get an Indian citizenship; K-12 Education Transformation Framework; Arundhati Gold Scheme; Mission Indradhanush; Intensified Mission Indradhanush; Intensified Mission Indradhanush 2.0; Budapest Convention on Cybercrime or the Budapest Convention; Prithvi-2 Missile; What are Bacteriophages? Phage Therapy; Five Industrial corridors for development; National Industrial Corridor Development and Implementation Trust (NICDIT); World Conference on Access to Medical Products; Convention on the Rights of the Child; World Children’s Day; Swachh Survekshan Grameen Awards 2019; ISRO’s INSAT-3D & 3DR satellites; Aerosol optical depth (AOD); Udan 4.0; UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) scheme; Amnesty International;
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
November 22, 2019

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Why govt stripped Telangana MLA Chennamaneni Ramesh of his Indian citizenship

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Swachh Survekshan Grameen Awards 2019
  • Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 2.0 to be rolled out in 27 states
  • Assam govt to gift 10 gm of gold to every bride

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Minister for Health Inaugurated Conference on Access to Medical Products
  • Microsoft launches framework to facilitate digital transformation of schools

Social Issues

  • Vice President Urges Parliamentarians to prioritize child welfare

Economy

  • Udan 4.0 to Offer Priority Routes Connecting Bilaspur and Ambikapur Airports in Chhattisgarh
  • Government approved the development of five industrial corridor projects

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Avian botulism killed 18,000 birds at Sambhar: Govt report

Bilateral & International Relations

  • UN passes resolution that gives Russia ‘tighter control of the internet’
  • Amnesty says at least 106 killed in Iran protests

Defence & Security Issues

  • India successfully test-fires nuke-capable Prithvi-II off Odisha coast

Science & Technology

  • Satellites to Assess Pollution Status
  • Bacteriophages: An answer to antibiotic resistance

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Polity & Governance

Why govt stripped Telangana MLA Chennamaneni Ramesh of his Indian citizenship

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) cancelled the citizenship of MLA from Vemulawada in north Telangana. The MHA has cancelled his citizenship on the ground of misrepresentation of facts at the time of applying for citizenship in 2008.

Telangana-MLA-Chennamaneni-Ramesh

Background

  • Chennamaneni Ramesh, living in Germany since 1993, was granted Indian citizenship in 2009. A committee formed by Home Ministry in 2017 cancelled Ramesh’s citizenship as he violated the Citizenship Act, 1955.

How did Ramesh violate Citizenship Act, 1955?

  • In his application for citizenship filed in 2008, he did not disclose that he had not lived in India for 12 months before the date of the application, even though he had made multiple trips to Germany during this period.
  • Thus, he obtained registration of citizenship under section 5(1)(f)

What are the Sections 5(1)(f) and 10(2) of Citizenship Act, 1955?

  • Section 5(1)(f): It make mandatory for a person to reside in India for one year immediately before making an application for registration for Indian citizenship.
  • Section 10(2): Power of central government deprive any citizen of Indian citizenship which are obtained by means of fraud, false representation or the concealment of any material fact.

However, act also provides protection to citizens of India;

  • Section 10(3): The Central Government shall not deprive a person of citizenship unless it is satisfied that it is not conducive to the public good that person should continue to be a citizen of India.

Argument of Ramesh

  • At the time of application, the law did not specifically require him to “continuously” stay in India for 12 months prior to the date of application.
  • Since he was a German citizen prior to getting Indian citizenship, he did not consider going to Germany a trip ‘abroad’, and therefore he had not made any trips abroad.
  • A revision petition for the grant of Indian citizen to Ramesh was raised in 2008. The law requires the objection to be raised within 30 days. However, in Ramesh’s case, the government allows it beyond that period.

What is the Citizenship Act 1955?

  • From December 3, 2004, onwards, persons born outside of India is not considered citizens of India unless their birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year of the date of birth.

What are the criteria to get an Indian citizenship?

  • In India, the Citizenship Act, 1955 prescribes five ways of acquiring citizenship:

Birth:

  • Every person born in India on or after the 26thJanuary, 1950, is a citizen of India by birth provided his / her father is not an enemy or representative of a diplomatic mission.
  • A person born in India on or after 1st July,1987 but before 3rdDecember, 2004 is considered citizen of India by birth if either of his parents is a citizen of India at the time of his birth.
  • A person born in India on or after 3rd December, 2004 is considered citizen of India by birth if both the parents are citizens of India or one of the parents is a citizen of India and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of his birth.

Descent:

  • A person born outside India on or after Jan 26, 1950 but before 10th December 1992 is a citizen of India by descent if his/her mother/father is a citizen of India at the time of his birth.
  • A person born outside India on or after 10thDecember 1992 but before 3rd December, 2004, is considered as a citizen of India if either of his parents was a citizen of India by birth at the time of his birth.
  • A person born outside India on or after 3rdDecember, 2004 is not a citizen of India, unless the parents declare that the minor does not hold passport of another country

Registration:

A person can acquire citizenship by registering themselves with prescribed authority. Such categories of persons are:

  • Persons of Indian origin residing outside the territories of undivided India
  • Those persons of Indian origin who are ordinarily residents in India and have been so resident for 6 months immediately before making application for registration
  • Women who are married to citizens of India
  • Children of Indian citizens
  • Adult citizens of commonwealth country or republic of Ireland

Naturalization:

  • A foreign citizen not covered by any of the above methods can get Indian citizenship with the following conditions:
  • Belongs to a country where the citizens of India are allowed to become subjects or citizens of that country by naturalization.
  • Renounces the citizenship of his country and intimated the renunciation to the Government of India.
  • Has been residing in India or serving the government for 12 months before the date of making application for naturalization.
  • Possess a good character
  • Possess working knowledge of Indian Languages
  • Intends to reside in India after naturalization.

Incorporation of the territory:

  • If a new territory becomes a part of India, the government of India specifies the persons of that territory who shall be citizens of India.

 [Ref: Indian Express]

 

Government Schemes & Policies

Swachh Survekshan Grameen Awards 2019

Minister Ministry of Jal Shakti conferred the Swachh Survekshan Grameen (SSG) 2019 awards to top ranked states, union territories, and districts in the various categories on the occasion of World Toilet Day.

Swachh-Survekshan-Grameen-Awards-2019-2

What is Swachh Survekshan Grameen (SSG) award?

Swachh Survekshan Grameen Awards 2019

  • Swachh Survekshan Grameen (SSG) is a rural cleanliness survey to rank all states and districts on basis of qualitative and quantitative sanitation parameters.
  • It is undertaken by the Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti (DDWS).
  • It is based on a comprehensive set of parameters including self-reporting by Districts, data from the SBM-G IMIS, district-level surveys of public places like schools, Haat bazaars etc. and citizen’s perception of Swachhata and their recommendations for improvement of the program.

The weights to different elements of the SSG are:

  • Direct Observation of sanitation in public places (30%)
  • Citizen’s Feedback including feedback from common citizens, key influencers at the village level and from citizens online using the App (35%)
  • Service Level Progress on sanitation related parameters (35%)

Significance

  • SSG has played a crucial role in assessing the Swachhata status on ground, particularly at public places in rural areas through group discussions and feedback collection.
  • As part of SSG 2019, more than 17,000 villages across India were covered.

Overall Ranking of SSG 2019:

Overall Ranking of SSG 2019

Overall Ranking of SSG 2019 1

  • Top 3 States – 1) Tamil Nadu, 2) Haryana, 3) Gujarat
  • Top 3 Districts – 1) Peddapalli, Telangana, 2) Faridabad, Haryana, 3) Rewari, Haryana
  • State with maximum citizen participation – Uttar Pradesh
[Ref: PIB]

 

Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 2.0 to be rolled out in 27 states

The Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 2.0 that is to be rolled out from 2 December 2020 will focus on 272 districts of 27 states and 652 blocks of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar among hard-to-reach and tribal populations.

Intensified-Mission-Indradhanush-IMI-2

Mission Indradhanush

Mission Indradhanush

  • Mission Indradhanush was launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India in 2014.
  • It aims to achieve more than 90 % full immunisation coverageamong children by 2020 who are either unvaccinated, or are partially vaccinated against vaccine preventable diseases.
  • IMI is supported by 12 other ministries and departments.
  • It is monitored at the highest level under a special initiative called ‘Proactive Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI)’.

Diseases treated under Mission Indradhanush

  • Diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, poliomyelitis, tuberculosis, measles and Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis and Haemophilus influenzae type B, Rubella, Injectable Polio Vaccine Bivalent and Rotavirus.

Areas Under Focus

  • High risk areas identified by the polio eradication programme
  • Areas with missed/low routine immunization (RI) coverage
  • Areas with vacant sub-centers
  • Small villages, hamlets, dhanis or purbas clubbed with another village for RI sessions and not having independent RI sessions.

About Intensified Mission Indradhanush:

About Intensified Mission Indradhanush

  • To further intensify the immunization programme, government launched the Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) in October 2017.
  • It aims to reach each and every child under 2 years of age and all those pregnant women who have been left uncovered under the routine immunisation programme.
  • It focused on improving immunization coverage to ensure full immunization to more than 90% by December 2018.
  • It covered low performing areas in the selected districts and urban areas. Special attention was given to unserved/low coverage pockets in sub-centre and urban slums with migratory population.

About Intensified Mission Indradhanush 2.0

  • IMI 2.0 will be launched as part of the silver jubilee celebrations of the Pulse Polio Programme.
  • It aims to reach each and every child below the age of 2 years and all pregnant women still uncovered/partially covered in 271 districts of India and 652 blocks of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
  • It will include four rounds of vaccination, with each round involving a seven-day immunisation drive to be conducted each month.
  • The IMI programme is supported by 12 ministries and departments and is being monitored by the cabinet secretary at the national level.
[Ref: Livemint]

 

Assam govt to gift 10 gm of gold to every bride

Under Arundhati Gold Scheme, the Assam government announced that it will gift 10 grams of gold to every adult bride, if she has studied at least up to class 10 and her marriage is registered.

Assam-Govt-to-gift-10-gm-of-gold-to-every-bride

  • The Assam government also introduced a scheme to provide battery-operated e-bikes to all those girls who have secured first division in higher secondary education.

About the Arundhati Gold Scheme

Arundhati-Swarna-Yojana

  • It is a scheme of Assam government for the registered newly married couples.
  • It aims to promote marriage registrations and prevent under-age marriages in Assam.
  • Under the scheme, an amount of INR 30,000 will be given to the bride to purchase gold.
  • The scheme will commence from January 1, 2020.

Eligibility

  • The family has to register their marriage under the Special Marriage (Assam) Rules, 1954.
  • Annual income of the bride’s family must be less than 5 lakh rupees
  • Minimum age should be 18 years and 21 years for the bride and bridegroom respectively.
  • Minimum education should be 10th standard
[Ref: Indian Express]

 

Issues related to Health & Education

Minister for Health Inaugurated Conference on Access to Medical Products

Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare as inaugurated the ‘2019 World Conference on Access to Medical Products: Achieving the SDGs 2030’.

2019-World-Conference-on-Access-to-Medical-Products-1

  • The main objective of the 2019 World Conference is to track the progress on recommendations from the 2018 World Conference for access to medical products for achieving Universal health coverage (UHC) in the context of SDGs.

About the World Conference on Access to Medical Products

  • It is being jointly organized by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the World Health Organization, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR); Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC); and Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI).
  • It was launched in 2017.

Key Facts

  • The World Health Assembly recently adopted resolution WHA 72.8 ‘Improving the transparency of markets for medicines, vaccines, and other health products’.
  • The 11 member countries of the South-East Asia region adopted the Delhi Declaration on ‘Improving access to essential medical products in the South-East Asia Region and beyond’ in September 2018. It reaffirmed their commitment to making essential medicines affordable and accessible to all.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Microsoft launches framework to facilitate digital transformation of schools

Microsoft has launched its ‘K-12 Education Transformation Framework’ to facilitate comprehensive digital transformation of schools in India, a model which has been adopted in over 50 countries so far.

K12-Education-Transformation-Framework-widely-in-India

About the K-12 Education Transformation Framework

The framework comprises four pillars:

Microsoft-K-12-Education-Transformation-Framework-1

  • Leadership and policy
  • Modern teaching and learning
  • Intelligent environments
  • Technology blueprint

Objective

  • To Provide education tools to leadership, government decision-makers, teachers and learners to achieve the ambitious change.

What will it offer?

  • To help school principals initiate their journey of digital transformation, the programme will offer a series of workshops based on each of these pillars.
[Ref: India Today]

 

Social Issues

Vice President Urges Parliamentarians to prioritize child welfare

Addressing the ‘National Summit for Every Child in India’ organized by UNICEF in Parliament Vice President of India urged all Parliamentarians to take a solemn resolve to continue their crusade to evolve child-centred policies.

National-Summit-for-Every-Child-in-India-2

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Convention-on-the-Rights-of-the-Child-1

  • The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is a human rights treaty which sets out the rights of children.
  • Adopted in 1989, it is the world’s most widely ratified human rights treatyin history.
  • Nations that ratify this convention are bound to it by international law. Compliance is monitored by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
  • Currently, 196 countriesare party to it, including every member of the United Nations except the United States. India ratified this convention in 1992.
  • Article 30 of the Convention gives children the right to ‘learn and use the language and customs of their families’.

Principles

This Convention establishes 4 principles:

  • Non-discrimination
  • Best interest of the child
  • Right to life, survival and development
  • Respect for the views of the child

Protocols

The Convention was completed in 2000 with two Protocols and in 2011 with a third one:

The optional Protocol regarding the,

  1. Involvement of children in armed conflicts
  2. Sale of children, children prostitution and children pornography
  3. Complaints procedure before the Committee on the Rights of the Child

World Children’s Day:

World Children’s Day is celebrated on 20th November each year to promote international togetherness and awareness among children worldwide, and improve children’s welfare.

World-Children’s-Day

Why chose 20th November as World Children’s Day?

  • The United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959.
  • The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Economy

Udan 4.0 to Offer Priority Routes Connecting Bilaspur and Ambikapur Airports in Chhattisgarh

Minister of state for Civil Aviation discussed demands received for connectivity of Bilaspur and Ambikapur in Chhattisgarh and said that the Ministry is committed to connect these airports at these airports.

Minister of state for Civil Aviation

Why Bilaspur?

  • Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh) is significant both culturally and commercially. It is recognized for its distinct characteristics such as high rice quality called Doobraj and the contribution of the Kosa silk industry to the handloom sector.

About UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) scheme

Ude-Desh-Ka-Aam-Naagrik-1

  • UDAN or Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) is a scheme of Ministry of Civil aviation to develop regional airport and to give a boost to regional connectivity.
  • It is a component of the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) which was released in June 2016.
  • It aims to stimulate regional connectivity with flights covering distances up to 800 km through a market-based mechanism. It focuses on states having unconnected regions.
  • It addresses the challenges relating to the issue of lack of infrastructure by upgrading the airports and cutting down the cost of operations by extending various incentives to airlines.

Salient Features of the scheme

  • Operational for a period of 10 years.
  • A demand driven scheme where the interested airlines and helicopter operators are selected through bidding process.

Udan

  • Makes flying affordable by capping fares at Rs. 2500 per seat per hour.
  • A Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF) was created to fund the scheme via a levy on certain flights. States are contributing 20 % to the fund.
  • Amount collected as Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF) is used to provide financial support to airlines in the form of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) for operations. The States bears the 20% share of VGF and 10% for North Eastern States and Union Territories.
  • Central government provides concessions on Value Added Tax (VAT) and service tax and liberal code sharing for airports under this scheme.

UDAN 1.0

  • Under this phase, 5 airlines companies were awarded 128 flight routes to 70 airports (including 36 newly made operational airports)

UDAN 2.0

  • In 2018, the Ministry of Civil Aviation announced 73 underserved and unserved airports.
  • For the first time, helipads were also connected under phase 2 of UDAN scheme.

UDAN 3.0

  • Inclusion of Tourism Routes under UDAN 3 in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism.
  • Inclusion of Seaplanes for connecting Water Aerodromes.
  • Bringing in a number of routes in the North-East Region under the ambit of UDAN.

Significance

Udan-1

  • It will make flying easier and affordable for the common man.
  • It is hailed as the first-of-its-kind scheme globally to stimulate regional connectivity through a market-based mechanism.
  • India is already among the fastest growing aviation markets in the world. But infrastructure constraints at airports in big cities could slow down this growth. UDAN can provide a fillip to India’s aviation industry. It could boost passenger numbers and provide feeder traffic to networks in big centres.
  • The scheme is expected to have positive effects on the economy in terms of employment and investment.
  • Air connectivity has a multiplier effect on tourism, investments, economic growth, job creation. Getting the nooks and corners of India linked up, directly or indirectly, through the fastest mode of transportation can open up the country like never before.
  • Cheap fares on regional routes can mean a horde of first-time fliers taking to the skies, making accessible to them new economic opportunities and quick connections in times of emergencies.

Challenges in implementation

  • Poor infrastructure is the main area of concern for the success of the scheme. The area which needs to be addressed is operationally of airports in far furlong areas and availability of bays at the private airports in the metro cities.
  • The second most concern issue is huge shortage of pilots.
  • Lack of favorable rules and still long pending reforms in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
  • The complex rules and regulations practiced by Airport Authority of India.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Government approved the development of five industrial corridor projects

Government of India has approved the development of five industrial corridor projects to be implemented through National Industrial Corridor Development and Implementation Trust (NICDIT).

five-industrial-corridor-projects-2

Five Industrial corridors for development 

No

Industrial Corridor

States

1

Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC)

Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra

2

Amritsar Kolkata Industrial Corridor (AKIC)

Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal

3

Chennai Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC)

Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala

4

East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC) with Vizag Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC) as Phase-1

West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu

5

Bengaluru Mumbai Industrial Corridor (BMIC)

Karnataka, Maharashtra

 

About National Industrial Corridor Development and Implementation Trust (NICDIT)

NICDIT is an apex body under the administrative control of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) for coordinated development of the following industrial corridors:

  1. Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC)
  2. Chennai Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC)
  3. Amritsar Kolkata Industrial Corridor (AKIC)
  4. Bengaluru Mumbai Industrial Corridor (BMIC)
  5. Vizag Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC)

NICDIT was earlier known as the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project Implementation Trust Fund (DMIC-PITF).

Functions

  • Channelize Government’s funds as well as institutional funds ensuring that the corridors are properly planned
  • Support project development activities, appraise, approve and sanction projects
  • Coordinate all central efforts for the development of Industrial Corridor projects
[Ref: PIB]

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Avian botulism killed 18,000 birds at Sambhar: Govt report

The Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Bareilly confirmed avian botulism as the reason for mass mortality of birds, including migratory species from Northern Asia, at Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan.

Sambhar-Lake-1

What is Botulinum?

Botulinum

  • Botulinum is a natural toxin produced by a bacteria known as Clostridium botulin.
  • The toxin has been recognised as a major cause of mortality in wild birds since the 1900s.
  • It produces the toxin when the bacteria start reproducing.
  • This bacterium is commonly found in the soil, river, and sea water.
  • There are around eight types (A, B, C1, C2, D, E, F, and G) of botulinum toxin. All types of toxins attack the neurons, which leads to muscle paralysis.
  • Botulinum affects both humans and animals but the type of the toxin varies — botulinum C in birds and A, B and E in humans.

What is the issue?

  • Bird carcasses began appearing on the banks of the Sambhar Lake in early October due to the avian botulism.

Possible reason

  • Mismanagement of Sambhar Salts Limited (some Sambhar Lake land is leased to Sambhar Salts Limited by government).
  • Illegal salt production by private players.
  • Lack of oxygen in the lake’s water, high salinity, and high level of invasive living organisms.
  • Under its plan to rejuvenate six wetlands in Rajasthan, the Union ministry of environment, forest had sought a report on the health of the ecosystems at the Sambhar Lake, which rated Sambhar and other five lakes as the worst.
  • Fluctuating Water levels throughout the year. Due to a good monsoon this year, the water level reached the lake bed after a gap of 20 years.
  • The good monsoon provided a favorable environment for the bacteria to spread. The bacteria need anaerobic (absence of oxygen) conditions and does not grow in acidic conditions.
  • The lake also provided a nutrient-rich substrate, like areas with large amounts of decaying plant or animal materials. The monsoon brought with it a large population of crustaceans (like shrimps, crabs, and prawns), invertebrates (snails) and plankton (like algae), which are capable of hosting the bacteria for a long period of time.
  • The Rajasthan forest department is reluctant to intervene unless it finds any violation of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Two theories:

  • The bacteria are also found in the gills and digestive tracts of healthy fish. It reproduces through spores and these spores remain dormant for years. They are resistant to temperature changes and drying. Under favourable conditions, the spores are activated. After the monsoon, when the water levels receded, there might have been an increase in salinity levels which could have led to the death of these living organisms. At this point in time, the spores could have been activated.
  • ‘A bird-to-bird cycle’ could also have led to the tragedy. In such an event, maggots feeding on dead birds can concentrate the toxin. Birds feeding on dead birds can get affected. This was observed in Sambhar too as researchers found only insectivorous and omnivorous birds affected and not herbivores.

Suggestions

  • The government should pass legislation in the Assembly to create a Sambhar Lake Development and Conservation Authority. This authority should be handed all the responsibility of Sambhar Lake.
  • There is no document about management of Sambhar Lake. A new document should study why the water from four rivers, which flows into the lake, has decreased over the years, along with studying the hydrology, sedimentation, the increase or decrease in depth of the lake etc.

Sambhar Lake

Sambhar Lake

  • It is located in Rajasthan near Jaipur.
  • It is India’s largest inland saline water body.
  • It is surrounded on all sides by the Aravali hills.
  • It is source of most of Rajasthan’s salt production.
  • It has been designated as a Ramsar site (recognized wetland of international importance).
  • It is important wintering area for flamingos and other birds that migrate from northern Asia.
[Ref: The Hindu, Down To Earth]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

UN passes resolution that gives Russia ‘tighter control of the internet’

A United Nations (Un) Committee passed a Russian-led resolution on a global cybercrime treaty, despite reservations that it could be used to justify shutting down civil society in repressive countries.

UN-passes-resolution-that-gives-Russia-'tighter-control-of-the-internet'

  • The resolution was sponsored by China, North Korea, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Syria, among others, and will up an “Open Ended Working Group” to examine cybercrime.

About the New Treaty

  • The proposed treaty has been framed to serve as an alternative to the US-led Budapest Convention, which was ratified in 2001 and intended to promote international cooperation to curb cybercrime. The Convention, however, was not endorsed by Russia and China at the time.

Criticism

  • As per US and European governments, it will do nothing to help tackle cybercrime and instead will help authoritarian governments justify tightening control of the internet within their borders.
  • Rather than tackling cybercrime, the UN treaty should allow governments to block critical websites.

Background

  • Russia recently enforced ‘sovereign internet’ law, under which, Russian government can block access to content whether from within or from outside Russia in an emergency.
  • As per Russia, the aim behind the law is to prevent cyberattacks and to keep its internet functioning in case the Western countries cuts the Russia off from internet.

Budapest Convention on Cybercrime or the Budapest Convention

  • The Convention on Cybercrime or Budapest Convention is the only binding multilateral treaty instrument aimed at combating cybercrime.
  • It was drafted by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France with active participation from its observer states in 2001. It entered into force in 2004.
  • It was drawn up with the active participation of the Council of Europe’s observer states Canada, Japan, South Africa and the United States.
  • It is open for ratification even to states that are not members of the Council of Europe.
  • The Budapest Convention is supplemented by a Protocol on Xenophobia and Racism committed through computer systems.

Why India is not signatory of Budapest convention?

  • India did not participate in the negotiation of the Budapest Convention and should thus not sign up to it.
  • Budapest Convention— through its Article 32ballows for transborder access to data and thus infringes on national sovereignty.
  • The Mutual legal assistance (MLA) regime of the Budapest Convention is not effective, i.e., that there are grounds for refusal to cooperate.
  • It is a criminal justice treaty and thus does not cover state actors or that some of the States from which most attacks affecting India emanate, have not signed up to the Budapest Convention.
  • India should promote a treaty at the level of the United Nations.

Why India should join Budapest convention?

  • The challenges currently being addressed by the Parties to the Budapest Convention through the Cybercrime Convention Committee are highly relevant also for India.
  • Budapest Convention offers a legal basis and practical framework for police to police and judicial cooperation on cybercrime and electronic evidence with an increasing number of other Parties.
  • As the Budapest Convention evolves, India would be able to contribute to shaping future solutions if it were a Party;
  • India would become a priority country for capacity building.
[Ref: Indian Express, BBC]

 

Amnesty says at least 106 killed in Iran protests

Days of protests over rising fuel prices and a subsequent government crackdown have killed at least 106 people across Iran, Amnesty International said adding that the real figure may be much higher.

At-least-106-dead-in-protests,-which-Iran-disputes

What is the issue?

  • Following US’s decision in 2018 to exit from Iran Nuclear deal, US has imposed a set of financial sanctions on Iran, which impacted Iran’s economy severely.
  • Recently, the Iran decided to increase the petrol price (by 50 percent) as part of efforts to counter the effects of US sanctions.
  • Moreover, Iran also announced the rollout of a rationing scheme and the cutting down of subsidies to raise funds for Iran’s poorest citizens.
  • This all resulted in the protest across Iran.

About Amnesty International

Amnesty-International

  • Amnesty International (commonly known as Amnesty and AI) is a non-governmental organisation focused on human rights with over 7 million members and supporters around the world.
  • The stated objective of the organisation is “to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated.
  • Amnesty works to mobilise public opinion to put pressure on governments that let abuse take place.
  • The organisation was awarded the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize for its “campaign against torture,” and the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rightsin 1978.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Defence & Security Issues

India successfully test-fires nuke-capable Prithvi-II off Odisha coast

India successfully testfired on Wednesday night its indigenously developed nuclear capable surface-to-surface Prithvi-2 missile as part of a user trial by the Army from a test range off Odisha coast.

India-successfully-test-fires-nuke-capable-Prithvi-II

  • The entire launch activity was carried out by Strategic Force Command (SFC) of the Army and monitored by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

About Prithvi-2 Missile

Prithvi-II

  • The Prithvi-II is a short-range surface-to-surface missile.
  • It is capable of carrying warheads weighing 500 kg to 1,000 kg.
  • It uses advanced inertial guidance system with maneuvering trajectory to hit its target.
  • With a strike range of 350 km, Prithvi-II is powered by twin-engines which use liquid propulsion.
  • Prithvi’ was the first missile to have been developed by DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).
  • It was inducted into the Indian defence forces in 2003.
[Ref: Business Standard]

 

Science & Technology

Satellites to Assess Pollution Status

The Imager payload on-board ISRO’s INSAT-3D & 3DR satellites is used to monitor Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD), which is indicator of particles and smoke from biomass burning affecting visibility and increase of PM2.5 and PM10 concentration in the atmosphere.

Satellites-to-Assess-Pollution-Status

Findings of the Imager payload on-board ISRO’s INSAT-3D & 3DR satellites

  • Aerosol optical depth (AOD), PM2.5 (Particulate Matter with diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers) and PM10 concentrations are higher over Indo-Gangetic Plain covering parts of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar during October and November.
  • High concentration of these pollutants is seen originating from parts of Punjab and Haryana during stubble burning.
  • Fire occurrences increased by 4% over Punjab and Haryana region during October- November between 2003 and 2017.
  • There is a high probability of transportation of smoke aerosols from Punjab & Haryana, towards down-wind regions of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Background

  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been carrying out monitoring of stubble burning since 2015.

What is INSAT-3D?

INSAT-3D

  • INSAT-3D is an advanced weather satellite of India with improved Imaging System and Atmospheric Sounder.
  • Launched in 2013, it is designed for enhanced meteorological observations, monitoring of land and ocean surfaces, generating vertical profile of the atmosphere in terms of temperature and humidity for weather forecasting and disaster warning.

What is INSAT-3DR?

INSAT-3DR similar to INSAT-3D, is an advanced meteorological satellite of India.

Insat3DR

The significant improvements in INSAT-3DR are:

  • Imaging in Middle Infrared band to provide night time pictures of low clouds and fog
  • Imaging in Thermal Infrared bands for estimation of Sea Surface Temperature (SST) with better accuracy
  • Higher Spatial Resolution in the Visible and Thermal Infrared bands

What is Aerosol optical depth (AOD)?

Aerosol-Optical-Depth

  • Aerosol optical depth is a measure of the extinction of the solar beam by dust and haze. In other words, particles in the atmosphere (dust, smoke, pollution) can block sunlight by absorbing or by scattering light.
  • AOD tells how much direct sunlight is prevented from reaching the ground by these aerosol particles.
  • It does not have any unit.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Bacteriophages: An answer to antibiotic resistance

Research on new antibiotics have hit a wall. Bacteriophages that kill disease-causing bacteria provide an alternative treatment.

Bacteriophages--An-answer-to-antibiotic-resistance

What are Bacteriophages?

Bacteriophages

  • Bacteriophage, also called phage or bacterial virus, are group of viruses that kill bacteria and archaea (a single-celled organism). Bacteriophage means ‘bacteria eater’.
  • They are found naturally where bacteria are present.
  • It was discovered by Frederick Twort in Britain (1915) and Félix d’Hérelle in France (1917).
  • Bacteriophages are not approved for treatment in India.

Role in Laboratory Research

Bacteriophages--An-answer-to-antibiotic-resistance-1

  • In 1952, Alfred Day Hershey and Martha Chase used the bacteriophage in a famous experiment in which they demonstrated that only the nucleic acids of phage molecules were required for their replication within bacteria.
  • For his work with bacteriophages, Hershey was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Uses of bacteriophages

Phage therapy: Used in Antibacterial agents

Food industry: Treating ready-to-eat (RTE) poultry and meat products

Diagnostics: In vitro diagnostic use

Counteracting bioweapons and toxins: Counteracting bioweapons and toxins, such as anthrax and botulism

Basic research: Important models for studying principles of evolution and ecology

Phage Therapy

  • After the discovery of Phage in 1915 in Britain, researchers began to use phages in treating human bacterial diseases such as bubonic plague and cholera.
  • However, Phage therapy was not successful, and after the discovery of antibiotics in the 1940s, it was virtually abandoned.
  • With the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, however, the therapeutic potential of phages has received renewed attention.

About the new study

  • The creation of a biofilm by the bacterium is the proble. as this does not allow the antibiotic to penetrate the wound,
  • However, a research team applied the mixture of bacteriophages on the wound for alternate days and saw a significant improvement after 3-5 doses.

 [Ref: Down To Earth]

 

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