30 July 2021 Daily Current Affairs

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Questions :-

Cairo Consensus was recently seen in the news. Which of the following statements are related to the Cairo Consensus?

a. The consensus aims to reduce global warming in African Countries

b. The consensus aims to take welfare-based approach for population control

c. The consensus aims to take welfare-based approach for population control

d. The consensus aims to provide free vaccine for low- and marginal-income populations.

2) Consider the following statements regarding Government Securities (G-secs)

1. It is a tradable instrument issued by the Central Government or the State Governments.

2. State Governments can issue both, treasury bills and bonds or dated securities. 

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

1 only

2 only

Both 1 and 2

Neither 1 nor 2

3) Consider the following statements regarding Artemis Accords

1. It aims to ensure space exploration is conducted in a safe, sustainable and transparent manner.

2. India is a founding member of this accord 

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

1 only

2 only

Both 1 and 2

Neither 1 nor 2

In India, the Central Government issues both, treasury bills and bonds or dated securities. While the State Governments issue only bonds or dated securities which are called the State Development Loans (SDLs). 

Artemis Accords ensures that space exploration is conducted in a safe, sustainable and transparent manner and in full compliance with international law. 

The founding members of the Artemis Accords are Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the US. 

Prelims Specific News Items

1) King Chilli ‘Raja Mircha’ from Nagaland exported to London for the first time :- What is the News?

The consignment of ‘Raja Mircha’ also referred as king chilli from Nagaland was exported to London via Guwahati by air for the first time.

About Raja Mircha:

Raja Mircha is a chilli from Nagaland. It is also referred to as king chilli or Bhoot Jolokia and Ghost pepper.

Genus: This chilli belongs to the genus Capsicum of the family Solanaceae.

GI Tag: It got the Geographical Indication(GI) certification in 2008.

Significance: It has been considered as the world’s hottest chilli and is constantly on the top five in the list of the world’s hottest chilies based on the Scoville Heat Units (SHUs).

2) Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya students have detected Eight Asteroids as part of the Khagolshala Asteroid Search Campaign 2021.

About Khagolshala Asteroid Search Campaign:

Khagolshala Asteroid Search Campaign(KASC) is an initiative of the Office of Principal Scientific Adviser, Government of India, and SPACE Foundation.

The campaign is the India chapter of an international student research program that has got students involved in the search for asteroids.

Under the campaign, high-quality astronomical data sets are distributed to students through the PANSTARRS telescope for analysis and identification of asteroids.

The students then analyze the data using software, which then leads to potential discoveries.

3) Khadi and Village Industries Commission(KVIC) in collaboration with the Border Security Force (BSF) has planted 1000 bamboo saplings at Tanot village in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan under Project BOLD.

About Project BOLD:

Project BOLD (Bamboo Oasis on Lands in Drought) is an initiative of Khadi and Village Industries Commission(KVIC).

Purpose: The project seeks to create bamboo-based green patches in arid and semi-arid land zones of the country.

It is a unique scientific exercise serving the combined national objectives of reducing desertification and providing livelihood and multi-disciplinary rural industry support

Why was Bamboo chosen for the Project?

Bamboo grows very fast and in about three years’ time. Hence, they could be harvested.

Bamboo is also known for conserving water and reducing evaporation of water from the land surface, which is an important feature in arid and drought-prone regions.

4) Sachar Committee :- The Sachar Committee was a seven-member High Level Committee in India established in March 2005 by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The committee was headed by former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Rajinder Sachar to study the social, economic and educational condition of Muslims in India. The committee submitted its report in 2006 and the report was available in public domain in 30 November 2006.

5) Crowding out Explained :-

Definition: A situation when increased interest rates lead to a reduction in private investment spending such that it dampens the initial increase of total investment spending is called crowding out effect.

Description: Sometimes, government adopts an expansionary fiscal policy stance and increases its spending to boost the economic activity. This leads to an increase in interest rates. Increased interest rates affect private investment decisions. A high magnitude of the crowding out effect may even lead to lesser income in the economy.

With higher interest rates, the cost for funds to be invested increases and affects their accessibility to debt financing mechanisms. This leads to lesser investment ultimately and crowds out the impact of the initial rise in the total investment spending. Usually the initial increase in government spending is funded using higher taxes or borrowing on part of the government.

Editorials of the Day

The epoch of cyberweapons

Context

The controversy over the use of Pegasus spyware for snooping highlights the threats posed by cyber-weapons.

The emergence of cyber weapons epoch

  • Cyberattacks on institutions such as banks and on critical infrastructure have proliferated to an alarming extent, signalling the emergence of the cyber weapon epoch.
  • Privacy has been eroded and the Internet has become a powerful weapon in the hands of those seeking to exploit its various facets.
  • Fith dimension of warfare: Cyber is often touted as the fifth dimension of warfare — in addition to land, sea, air and space.

The domain of everyday life

  •  Cyber, as the domain of military and national security, also co-exists with cyber as a domain of everyday life.
  • The war is no longer out there.
  • It is now directly inside one’s drawing-room, with cyberweapons becoming the weapon of choice.
  • Israelis today dominate the cyber domain along with the Chinese, Russians, Koreans and, of course, the Americans.
  • The linkage between sabotage and intrusive surveillance is but a short step.

Cyberattacks during the past decades

  •  Beginning with the 2007 devastating cyberattack on Estonia’s critical infrastructure, this was followed by the Stuxnet worm attack a few years later on Iran’s nuclear facility.
  • The Shamoon virus attack on Saudi Aramco occurred in 2012.
  • In 2016, a cyberattack occurred on Ukraine’s State power grid; in 2017 there was a Ransomware attack (NotPetya) which affected machines in as many as 64 countries.
  • United Kingdom’s National Health Service fell prey to Wannacry attack the same year/
  • The series of attacks happened this year on Ireland’s Health Care System and in the United States such as ‘SolarWinds’, the cyber attack on Colonial Pipeline and JBS, etc.

What are the threats posed by cyberattacks?

  • Cyberweapons carry untold capacity to distort systems and structures — civilian or military.
  • Cyberweapons also interfere with democratic processes, aggravate domestic divisions and, above all, unleash forces over which established institutions or even governments have little control.
  • As more and more devices are connected to networks, the cyber threat is only bound to intensify, both in the short and the medium term.
  • What is especially terrifying is that instruments of everyday use can be infected or infiltrated without any direct involvement of the target.
  • The possibilities for misuse are immense and involve far graver consequences to an individual, an establishment, or the nation.
  • It is not difficult to envisage that from wholesale espionage, this would become something far more sinister such as sabotage.

Way forward

  • Deeper understanding:  Dealing with ‘zero day’ vulnerabilities require far more thought and introspection than merely creating special firewalls or special phones that are ‘detached’ from the Internet.
  • Recognising the mindset: What is needed is a deeper understanding of not only cyber technologies, but also recognising the mindsets of those who employ spyware of the Pegasus variety, and those at the helm of companies such as the NSO.
  • Short-term remedies are unlikely to achieve desired results.
  • No use of AI: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is often seen as a kind of panacea for many of the current problems and ills, but all advances in technology tend to be a double-edged sword.
  • If truth be told, AI could in turn make all information warfare — including cyber related — almost impossible to detect, deflect or prevent, at least at the current stage of development of AI tools.

Conclusion

All this suggests that security in the era of ever-expanding cyberweapons could become an ever-receding horizon.

Extra Fact

Zero-day vulnerability

  • The term “zero-day” refers to a newly discovered software vulnerability.
  • Because the developer has just learned of the flaw, it also means an official patch or update to fix the issue hasn’t been released.
  • So, “zero-day” refers to the fact that the developers have “zero days” to fix the problem that has just been exposed — and perhaps already exploited by hackers.

Editorial 02 : The long road to winning the battle against trafficking

Context

  • Every year July 30 is celebrated as the United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons.
  • Recently, the Ministry of Women and Child Development released Draft anti-trafficking Bill, the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021.

India’s vulnerability to human trafficking

  • Rising Labour trafficking: As per a report, an estimated 9,000 children have been rescued after being trafficked for labour, between April 2020 and June 2021.
    • It means 21 children have been trafficked every day over nearly 15 months.
  • Rampant child marriages: over 10,000 cases were tracked between April and August 2020.
  • US. Department of State’s report on global human trafficking: classifies India as a Tier-2 country as India does not fully meet the minimum standards under U.S. and international law for eliminating trafficking, but is making significant efforts to comply.

Causes for increased vulnerability

  • Covid virus Impact
    • Desire for cheap labour by various industries to offset losses occurred due to virus results in the trafficking of children.
    • loss of income and economic crisis, causing families’ reduced capacity to care for children in the long-term, placing children at the heightened risk for violence, neglect or exploitation.
    • Loss of parental care due to death, illness or separation further increases the vulnerability of children towards trafficking.
    • Erosion of some of the checks against child labour and child marriage provided by law, as well as the scrutiny of schools and society.
  • Increase in Internet access: has also led to increased cyber-trafficking in the present times.
    • Use of popular social media platforms and free messaging apps to contact and lure young people, under the pretext of offering him employment.
    • Once removed from their locality, they face challenges of limited resources, unfamiliarity with the area and perhaps the local language.
  • Lack of reporting by the victim: due to threat of violence from the trafficker and absence of any identifiable authority to approach other than the police, who are often seen as threats themselves, make it nearly impossible for trafficked persons to report the incident.
  • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime on the effects of the pandemic on trafficking: It found that-
    • Traffickers are taking advantage of the loss of livelihoods and the increasing amount of time spent online to entrap victims, including by advertising false jobs on social media.
    • Increased demand for child sexual exploitation material online due to lockdowns.

Evidence of Governance deficit in countering human trafficking

  • Official Data deficit on human trafficking: Recently, the government has accepted in parliament that it does not maintain any national-level data specific to cyber trafficking cases.
  • Lack of evidence about the efficacy of schemes launched by the Ministry of Home Affairs to improve investigation and prosecution of cybercrimes.
  • Lack of implantation of policies: as illustrated by the state of the Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs).
    • They are specialised district task forces comprising police and government officials.
    • Out of 330 AHTUs envisioned in 2010, only about 225 AHTUs had been set up, but only on paper till august 2020, as per an RTI response.
  • Issues with the draft Bill
    • Increasing the role of the National Investigation Agency should further be discussed by all stakeholders.
    • Introduction of the death penalty in some cases: it must be revisited as there is no evidence of death penalty have any greater deterrence on crime.
  • Failure of investigation machinery: due to poor quality of investigation, prosecutors and the judges find it difficult to convict the alleged criminals. As per government data, there were 140 acquittals and only 38 convictions in 2019.

Way forward

  • Strengthen AHTUs: by ensuring adequate funds and functionaries.
    • They could provide crucial ground-level data on the methods and patterns of traffickers, which in turn can strengthen community-based awareness and vigilance activities.
  • Learning from global best practices such as in Nigeria, Africa, and implanting them in the Indian context.
  • Government should work on the larger framework to protect women and children by incentivising education and creating safe employment opportunities.
  • Better and effective implementation of existing laws rather than formulating the new ones like the Draft Anti-trafficking bill 2021.
    • The draft Bill also provides for AHTUs/committees at the national, state and district levels.
    • Legislating without the political will to implement and monitor effectiveness is futile.
  • Ensuring speedy justice delivery system: by introducing proper case management system to give meaning to the “fast track” courts.

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