Current Affairs (20th April 2021)
NASA Mars helicopter
- NASA successfully flew its tiny helicopter Ingenuity on Mars, the first powered flight on another planet.
- The 8 kg rotorcraft lifted off, hovered 10 feet above the Martian surface, then came back to rest after 39.1 seconds.
- Data and images from the autonomous flight were transmitted 278 million km back to Earth where they were received by NASA’s array of ground antennas and processed more than three hours later.
- Ingenuity quickly sent back a black-and-white image from its downward pointing navigation camera, showing its bug-like shadow cast on the surface.
- Then came a choppy colour video from the Perseverance rover showing Ingenuity on the ground, in flight.
- The helicopter’s main task is to carry out a technology demonstration to test the first powered flight on Mars.
- Other technology demonstrations of the same kind include the Mars Pathfinder rover Sojourner and the Mars Cube One CubeSats that flew by Mars in 2018.
What is Ingenuity?
- Part of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, the small coaxial, drone rotorcraft.
- Ingenuity, the first helicopter to fly on Mars was carried by NASA’s rover called Perseverance that was launched in July last year and will help collect samples from the surface from locations where the rover cannot reach.
- A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life.
- Perseverance is fueled by electrical power by using heat of plutonium’s radioactive decay.
- Perseverance will carry a unique instrument, MOXIE or Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment: which for the first time will manufacture molecular oxygen on Mars using carbon dioxide from the carbon-dioxide-rich atmosphere (ISRU means In Situ Resource Utilization: or the use of local resources to meet human needs or requirements of the spacecraft).
- Perseverance landed at the Jezero Crater of Mars in February year. It will remain on the Red Planet for about two years and look for finding past signs of life.
- The rover is designed to study signs of ancient life, collect samples that might be sent back to Earth during future missions and test new technology that might benefit future robotic and human missions to the planet.
- The helicopter’s mission is experimental in nature and completely independent of the rover’s science mission.
- Ingenuity is able to fly using counter-rotating blades that spin at about 2,400 rpm. It has a wireless communication system, and is equipped with computers, navigation sensors, and two cameras. It is solar-powered, able to charge on its own.
Defences against cybercrime
- About 52% of adults admitted that they do not know how to protect themselves from cybercrime, according to a survey conducted by online security solutions provider NortonLifeLock.
- 59% of the adults in India had become victims of cybercrime in the past 12 months.
- The ‘2021 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report,’ based on the research conducted online by The Harris Poll among 10,030 adults in 10 countries, including 1,000 adults in India, also found that cybercrime victims collectively spent 1.3 billion hours trying to resolve these issues.
- The report suggested that many Indian consumers (90%) were taking proactive steps to safeguard their data, 2 in 5 still felt it was impossible to protect their privacy (42%) in this age or say they don’t know how to do so (42%).
- As per the research 7 in 10 Indian adults (70%) believe that remote work has made it much easier for hackers and cybercriminals to take advantage of people.
- Cyber security related incidents have seen a general rise in the past year, aided by the burgeoning use cases of remote working tools.
- India wasn’t the only country witnessing a rise in cyber crimes either. The Norton report found that a quarter of Americans “detected unauthorised access to an account or device” in the past 12 months.
- Of the nearly 108 million Americans who experienced cybercrime in the past 12 months (41%), an average of 6.7 hours was spent trying to resolve the issues created, for an estimated over 719 million hours of Americans’ time lost to cybercrime.
- On the other hand, remote working infra is just one of the means for hackers to compromise organizations.
- Many hackers have tried to take advantage of the pandemic itself to compromise users’ devices or accounts. These include phishing attacks that claim to inform users about vaccines or other covid-related measures.
- Around half (52%) say they do not know how to protect themselves from cybercrime, and even more (68%) say it is difficult for them to determine if the information they see online is from a credible source.
- Cyber-attacks have grown in terms of sophistication and reach in the recent times. The countries are witnessing growing cybercrime ranging from fraud calls to malwares that bring banking systems to a standstill.
- India was one of the worst hit countries by the WannaCry ransomware malware affecting sectors such as banking, finance and manufacturing last year.
Importance of cyber security:
- Important arena of internet when the country is moving forward towards a cashless society and digitization. Till 2013, India did not even have a cyber security policy in place.
- It is of paramount concern to take cyber security seriously in India with most of the transactions going online and cashless.
- Security becomes a challenge as now privacy is a fundamental right as per SC verdict and the rise in cybercrimes can lead to violation of private space and liberty of expression.
- There is need of new tools; capacity building must be done in various departments and a mechanism in place to address these challenges.
- The Indian government has embarked on a programme to turn the country into a digital economy.
- It has unveiled a series of initiatives—from introducing Aadhaar, MyGov, Government e-Market, DigiLocker, Bharat Net, Startup India, Skill India and Smart Cities to propel India towards technological competence and transformation.
- Cyber security becomes a vital law of cyber law today.
Review working of ARCs
- The RBI set up a committee to undertake a comprehensive review of the working of asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) in the financial sector ecosystem and recommend suitable measures for enabling them to meet the growing requirements.
- The six-member committee will be headed by Sudarshan Sen, former executive director, Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
- As per the terms of reference of the committee, the panel will review the existing legal and regulatory framework applicable to ARCs and recommend measures to improve efficacy of ARCs.
- It will also review the role of ARCs in the resolution of stressed assets, including under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), and give suggestions for improving liquidity in and trading of security receipts.
- Besides, it has also been asked to review the business models of ARCs.
- The committee will submit its report within three months from the date of its first meeting.
- At the time of the Asian Financial Crisis, India’s non-performing assets (NPAs) stood at a whopping 14.4 per cent.
- It was in this context that the Narasimham Committee (1998) recommended setting up an ARC specifically for purchasing NPAs from banks and financial institutions.
- Following this, the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act which was enacted in December 2002 which provides the legal basis for the setting up ARCs in India.
- ARCs are registered under the RBI. It helps the bank clear up its balance sheets and concentrate in normal banking activities.
- The ARCs take over a portion of the debts of the bank that qualify to be recognised as NPAs.
Startup India Seed Fund Scheme
- Minister of Railways, Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs and Food & Public Distribution launched the Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS).
- The Fund aims to provide financial assistance to startups for proof of concept, prototype development, product trials, market entry, and commercialization.
- The Scheme was announced by the Prime Minister on 16th January 2021 in his Grand Plenary address of ‘Prarambh: Startup India International Summit’, marking the five-year anniversary of the Startup India initiative.
- 945 Crore corpus will be divided over the next 4 years for providing seed funding to eligible startups through eligible incubators across India.
- The scheme is expected to support an estimated 3,600 startups through 300 incubators.
- SISFS will Secure seed funding, Inspire innovation, Support transformative ideas, Facilitate implementation, and Start startup revolution.
- Scheme will create a robust startup ecosystem, particularly in Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns of India, which are often deprived of adequate funding.
- DPIIT has worked tirelessly to bring a tectonic shift in the startup ecosystem in India. Department has been acting as the Facilitator, with Open door, Open Arms & Open Mind, encouraging large scale youth participation in the innovative activities.
- SISFS will act as a bridge between ideas and their implementation. Independent & ambitious thinking in the Startup ecosystem will encourage entrepreneurship and create a culture that will recognise innovation.
- The online portal created by DPIIT, for the scheme, will allow incubators to apply for funds under it. An Experts Advisory Committee (EAC) has been created by DPIIT to execute and monitor the SISFS.