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Current Affairs – 2 July 2021

Current Affairs (2nd July 2021)

NATIONAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY (NDMA)

Context:

The Supreme Court directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to frame guidelines for payment of ex-gratia compensation to family members of persons who succumbed to COVID-19.

About:

  • It also directed the NDMA to ascertain within six weeks ex-gratia amount that can be paid to the family members of those who died due to the infection.
  • The court’s order came in response to a plea seeking ex-gratia of four lakh rupees each to the families of all those who succumbed to the virus.

NDMA:

  • Ministry of Home Affairs is the parent body.
  • Objective: To coordinate response to natural or man-made disasters and for capacity-building in disaster resiliency and crisis response.
  • Origin: NDMA was established through the Disaster Management Act enacted by the Government of India in 2005.
  • Organisation setup:
    • The Prime Minister is the ex-officio chairperson of the NDMA, who chairs a 9-member board.
    • The remainder of the board consists of members nominated based on their expertise in areas such as, planning, infrastructure management, communications, meteorology etc.
    • The day-to-day management of the agency is overseen by the office of the Vice Chair.

 

Pyrostrialaljii

Context:

  • Recently, Pyrostrialaljii has been discovered from the Andaman Islands.

About:

  • It is a 15-meter-tall tree that belongs to the genus of the coffee family.
  • The new species is also the first record of the genus Pyrostria in India. Plants belonging to genus Pyrostria are usually found in Madagascar.
  • The tree is distinguished by a long stem with a whitish coating on the trunk, and oblong-obovate leaves with a cuneate base.
  • It was first reported from South Andaman’s Wandoor forest. The other places in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands where the tree is found are,
  1. Tirur forest near the Jarawa Rerserve Forest and
  2. ChidiaTapu (Munda Pahar) Forest.
  • Pyrostrialaljii has been listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.
  • While the genus Pyrostria is not found in India, there are several genera from the family Rubiaceae that are common in India – Cinchona, coffee, adina, hamelia, ixora, etc. They have high potential for economic value.

Rivinaandamanensis

  • It is a new species of pokeweed. It was found growing under large trees, shaded and rocky areas, along with herbs and shrubby plants.
  • This new species represents the first record of the pokeweed family Petiveriaceae in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

 

Study on Air Pollutants

Context:

  • A new study says that Black Carbon (BC) has adverse effect on human health and leads to premature mortality.

About:

  • The Scientists from the Centre of Excellence in Climate Change Research who conducted the study were supported by the Climate Change programme of Department of Science and Technology (DST).
  • The study explored the individual and cumulative impact of BC aerosol, fine (PM 2.5), and coarse (PM 10) particulates, and trace gases (SO2, NO2, O3) on premature mortality in Varanasi of Indo-Gangetic plain.
  • The Scientists utilized daily all-cause mortality and ambient air quality from 2009 to 2016 to clearly establish a significant impact of BC aerosols, NO2 and, PM2.5 exposure on mortality.

Findings:

  • The inclusion of co-pollutants (NO2 & PM 2.5) in the multi-pollutant model increased the individual mortality risks for BC aerosols.
  • The effect of pollutants was more prominent for males, age group 5-44 and, in winter. The adverse effect of pollutants wasn’t limited to current day of exposure but can extend as high as up to 5 days (Lag effect).
  • The mortality rises linearly with an increase in air pollutants level and shows adverse impact at higher levels.

Black Carbon

  • Black carbon, commonly known as soot, is a solid particle or aerosol that is produced from incomplete combustion.
  • It is a form of particulate air pollutant that contributes to warming of the atmosphere.

 

INDRAJAAL

Context:

  • Hyderabad-based technology R&D firm Grene Robotics has designed and developed India’s first indigenous drone defence dome called “Indrajaal”.

About:

  • The drone defence dome has the capability to autonomously protect an area of 1000-2000 sq km against the aerial threats by assessing and acting on aerial threats such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), loitering munitions, and Low- Radar Cross Section (RCS) targets.
  • The ANTI-UAV systems will not only provide protection to defence bases but it will be beneficial for linear infrastructures like international borders against advanced weaponry.

Salient features of Indrajaal

  • Real-time situational awareness
  • Integrated and Intelligent meshed network
  • Integrated all current weapons suite and infrastructure
  • Honeycombed cell structure for seamlessly built
  • Synergic combination of 9-10 technologies
  • 24×7 persistent and autonomous monitoring, action, and tracking

Background

  • The path-breaking development is imperative because manual weapons and point-based defence systems can’t defend modern warfares, which are operated by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics.
  • For the first time in India and many times, globally rogue forces have adopted cutting-edge technologies such as UAVs, Smart Swarms, etc.
  • Jammu Air Base on June 27th was attacked by such technologies to drop explosives next to the Mi-17 hangar.
  • Capable of real-time situational awareness, Indrajaal comprises all current weapons suite and infrastructure along with a honeycombed cell structure to provide a seamlessly built over a combination of 9-10 technologies for 24×7 persistent monitoring, tracking and action.

 

‘Centre’s digital agri proposals raise concern’

Context:

  • The Centre had published a consultation paper on an India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture (IDEA)in June 2021, and sought public feedback.

About:

  • IDEA aims to build a National Digital Agriculture Ecosystem to elevate the Indian agriculture sector to higher levels of efficiency and productivity, and to improve the welfare and income of farmers.
  • The Agriculture Ministry aspires that the IDEA initiative would place the farmer in the centre of the agriculture ecosystem leveraging open digital technologies.
  • Precision agriculture would become a reality with access to the right information at the right time.
  • The farmer can take informed decisions and implement best practices to maximize the yield.
  • The agriculture supply chain players can plan their production and logistics on precise and timely information.

Objectives of IDEA:

  • To enable higher income and better profitability to farmers through access to the right information at the right time.
  • To enable better planning and execution of policies, programs, and schemes.
  • To enhance efficiencies in the usage of resources.
  • To give a fillip to R&D and Innovations in agriculture through access to high-quality data.
  • To formulate and leverage PPP frameworks for realizing the ‘power of the digital’.

Concerns:

  • The task force which brought out the proposals or the governance framework of IDEA does not include farmer representation.
  • The Centre’s digital agriculture proposals have raised concerns of:
  • exploitation of farmers
  • data protection and consent
  • mismanaged land records
  • exclusion of landless cultivators
  • the corporatisation of agriculture
  • The Centre has been demanded to stop implementation of the pilot projects being rolled out in partnership with tech and retail giants including Microsoft, Amazon and Patanjali.
  • Groups that sent feedback are against such digital infrastructure being owned by private corporates and have demanded that the ownership be with the government.

Conclusion:

  • Digital technologies and especially emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, Internet of Things open immense opportunities, with the right architecture and an enabling environment.

 

Global Cybersecurity Index 2020 (GCI)

Context:

  • Recently, Global Cybersecurity Index 2020 (GCI) was released by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

About:

  • The US topped the index, the UK and Saudi Arabia ranked 2nd.
  • Yemen, Vatican. and Micronesia shared the last position.
  • India’s Performance: India ranked 10th position, earlier it was at 47; China (33) & Pakistan(79).
    • 4th spot in the Asia-Pacific region.

Challenges:

  • Digital gaps.
  • Growing digital reliance in the post-COVID era has exposed digital disparities
  • Sophisticated use of cyberspace by terrorists to broaden their propaganda and incite hatred.

Reasons for increasing Cyber Attacks in India:

  • Adverse relations with China: China is considered one of the world leaders in information technology. Therefore, it is expected to have capabilities to disable or partially interrupt the information technology services in another country.
  • Asymmetric and covert warfare: Cyber warfare is covert warfare with the scope of plausible deniability, i.e. the governments can deny their involvement even when they are caught. Similarly, even a small nation with advanced systems and skilled resources can launch an attack on a bigger power, without the fear of heavy losses.
  • Increasing dependency on technology: As we grow faster, more and more systems are being shifted to virtual space to promote access and ease of use. However, the downside to this trend is the increased vulnerability of such systems to cyber-attacks.

International Efforts:

  • Budapest Convention: 1st international treaty to address cybercrime; India not a signatory.
  • Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN): US-based not-for-profit organisation for coordinating & maintenance of several databases.
  • Internet Governance Forum: UN forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue on Internet governance issues.

India’s Preparedness to Ensure Cybersecurity:

  • Agencies including Computer Emergency Response Team – India (CERT-In) & National Cyber Security Council.
    • IT Act, 2000.
    • Strategies under National Cyber Policy, 2013.
  • Recently, India had banned apps that posed a threat to security.
  • Comprehensive plan in preparing & dealing with cyber-attacks (Pre, Post and During the attack).
  • Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative, National Cybersecurity Coordination Centre (NCCC), Cyber Swachhta Kendra etc.
    • Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C): Launched in 2018, It is an apex coordination centre to deal with cybercrimes.
    • The Cyber Warrior Police Force: It was organised on the lines of the Central Armed Police Force in 2018.
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