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Daily Category  (Information Technology)

Chang’e-5 Mission

Context:

China has launched its Chang’e-5 Mission to the Moon and will become the first probe in over four decades to bring back samples of lunar rock from a previously unexplored portion of the Moon.

Background:

  • In 2019, China’s Chang’e-4 probe successfully transmitted images from the far side of the Moon which is also referred to as the dark side.
  • It was the first probe to land on the dark side of the Moon.

Chang’e-5 Mission:

  • It is named after the Chinese Moon goddess who is traditionally accompanied by a white or jade rabbit.
  • It is the Chinese National Space Administration’s (CNSA) lunar sample return mission.
  • The goal of the mission is to land in the Mons Rumker region of the moon, where it will operate for one lunar day and return a 2 kg sample of the lunar rock.
  • The mission comprises a lunar orbiter, a lander, and an ascent probe that will lift the lunar samples back into orbit and return them back to Earth.
  • Chang’e-5 comprises a robotic arm, a coring drill, a sample chamber and is also equipped with a camera, penetrating radar, and a spectrometer.

Significance of Lunar Samples:

  • Lunar samples can help to unravel some important questions in lunar science and astronomy, including the Moon’s age, the formation of the Moon, the similarities and differences between the Earth and the Moon’s geologic features.
  • The shape, size, arrangement, and composition of individual grains and crystals in a rock can tell scientists about its history, while the radioactive clock can tell them the rock’s age.
  • As per the Lunar and Planetary Institute, rocks found on the Moon are older than any that have been found on Earth, and therefore they are valuable in providing information about the Earth and the Moon’s shared history.

Source: Indian Express

World Wide Radio Navigation System (WWRNS)

Context

India became the fourth country in the world to have its independent regional navigation satellite system recognized by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as a part of the World Wide Radio Navigation System (WWRNS).

Details:

  • The navigation system can now replace GPS in the Indian Ocean waters up to 1500 km from the Indian boundary.
  • The process of getting the recognition for the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System based on satellites of the Indian Space Research Organisation took about two years.
  • The merchant vessels in Indian waters can now use the “modern and more accurate” system as an alternative navigation module.

Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System:

  • It is an independent regional navigation satellite system developed by India.
  • It is designed to provide accurate position information service to assist in the navigation of ships in the Indian Ocean waters.
  • It could replace the US-owned Global Positioning System (GPS) in the Indian Ocean extending up to approximately 1500 km from the Indian boundary.
  • The system is based on the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) satellites that are used for navigation.

Importance of recognition to IRNSS from IMO:

  • The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the IMO recognized the IRNSS as a component of the World-wide Radio Navigation System (WWRNS) during its 102nd session.
  • With the recognition as a component of the WWRNS, the Indian navigation system is similarly placed as GPS.
  • After the US, Russia, and China have their own navigation systems, India has become the fourth country to have its independent regional navigation system.

Use of IRNSS:

  • All merchant vessels including small fishing vessels are authorized to use the system.
  • The vessels that have transponders installed in them will be tracked by satellite navigation showing the accurate position in the Indian Ocean region.

International Maritime Organisation (IMO):

  • The IMO was established following an agreement at a UN conference held in Geneva in 1948 and the IMO came into existence in 1959.
  • The IMO is the United Nations’ specialized agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships.
  • The IMO sets standards for the safety and security of international shipping.

Source: Indian Express

Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Satellite

Context:

Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite was launched from the Vandenberg Air Force base in California aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Sentinel-6 Satellite:

  • The Satellite is a part of the next mission dedicated to measuring changes in the global sea level.
  • It aims to track changes in the oceans on a global scale include the TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1, and OSTN/Jason-2, among others.
  • It has been named after Dr. Michael Freilich, who was the Director of NASA’s Earth Science Division from 2006-2019.

Mission:

  • The mission is called the Jason Continuity of Service (Jason-CS) mission.
  • The mission is designed to measure the height of the ocean, which is a key component in understanding how the Earth’s climate is changing.
  • It has been developed jointly by the European Space Agency (ESA), NASA, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat), the USA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the EU.

Significance:

  • The satellite will ensure the continuity of sea-level observations into the fourth decade and will provide measurements of global sea-level rise.
  • The high-precision satellite altimeters have helped scientists understand how the ocean stores and distributes heat, water, and carbon in the climate system.
  • The satellite will send pulses to the Earth’s surface and measure how long they take to return to it, which will help scientists measure the sea surface height.
  • It will also measure water vapor along this path and find its position using GPS and ground-based lasers.
  • The data it collects will support operational oceanography, by providing improved forecasts of ocean currents, wind, and wave conditions.
  • The data will allow improvements in both short-term forecastings for weather predictions in the two-to-four-week range and long-term forecasting, for instance for seasonal conditions like El Niño and La Niña.

Importance of measuring the height of the ocean

  • It is possible to observe the height of the oceans on a global scale and monitor critical changes in ocean currents and heat storage only from space.
  • In order to measure and track changes in the oceanic heat budget, scientists need to know the ocean currents and heat storage of the oceans, which can be determined from the height of the sea surface.
  • Sentinel-6 can keep up in the air with much-improved capability helping it to monitor seas right up against coastlines better.

Source: Indian Express

ATAL Faculty Development Programmes

Context:

Union Education Minister inaugurated 46 online AICTE Training and Learning (ATAL) Academy Faculty Development Programmes (FDPs) to train teachers of higher education institutions associated with All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE).

Key Highlights:

  • The FDPs will be conducted in 22 Indian states.
  • The London-based organization has recognized the FDPs as a world record, under which 1,000 online FDPs in over 100 emerging areas will benefit one lakh faculty members across premier institutions.
  • In 2020-21, new thrust areas in the field of Engineering, Management, Life Skills, Design & Media have been incorporated.
  • The online FDPs will be conducted according to the new National Education Policy (2020).

AICTE Training and Learning (ATAL) Academy:

  • The first AICTE Training And Learning (ATAL) Academy and NWRO (Camp Office) of AICTE in Jaipur were announced with the establishment of other ATAL Academy in the country at Jaipur, Vadodara, Guwahati & Trivandrum in 2018.

Mission:

  • To establish AICTE Training and Learning (ATAL) cell in all the technical institutions, Universities, Deemed-to-be Universities, and other institutions of technical learning.
  • AICTE will support the establishment of the AICTE Training and Learning (ATAL) cell in all the technical institutions, Universities, Deemed to be Universities and other institutions of technical learning.
  • To establish Academies web portal and mobile application for carrying out its operations.
  • To build a database of trainers/experts, Video Repositories, Training materials, and training needs of technical institutions.

Objectives:

  • To set up an Academy which will plan and help in imparting quality technical education in the country.
  • To support technical institutions in fostering research, innovation, and entrepreneurship through training.
  • To stress upon empowering technical teachers & technicians using Information & Communication Technology.
  • To utilize the SWAYAM platform and other resources for the delivery of training.

AICTE:

  • It was set up in November 1945 as a national-level apex advisory body to conduct a survey on the facilities available for technical education.
  • It aims to promote development in the country in a coordinated and integrated manner.
  • As stipulated in the National Policy of Education (1986), AICTE was vested with:
    • Statutory authority for planning, formulation, and maintenance of norms & standards
    • Quality assurance through accreditation
    • Funding in priority areas, monitoring, and evaluation
    • Maintaining parity of certification & awards
    • The management of technical education in the country
  • The AICTE Act was constituted to provide for the establishment of an All India Council for Technical Education with a view to proper planning and co-ordinated development of a technical education system.

Source: The Hindu

Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance (UMANG)

Context:

Ministry of Electronics & IT organized an online conference to mark the 3rd anniversary of Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance (UMANG) and the 2000+ services milestone.

Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance (UMANG):

  • It is a Government of India all-in-one single, unified, secure, multi-channel, multi-lingual, multi-service mobile app.
  • It is aimed at providing access to high-impact services of various organizations of the Centre and States.
  • It was developed by National e-Governance Division (NeGD), Ministry of Electronics & IT.
  • It attained four illustrious awards including the ‘Best m-Government service’ award at the 6th World Government Summit held in Dubai, UAE in 2018.

Objectives:

  • To act as an enabler and facilitator in developing an overall mobile-based service delivery ecosystem in India.
  • Provide easy access for individuals to various services via a single Mobile Application, easy to remember shortcode, and single Toll-Free number.
  • Provide easy discoverability of services, easy manageability, and standardization of service delivery.
  • Provide for quick mobile enablement of e-Gov applications/services of Government departments through easy and fast integration, onboarding, mobile front-end roll-out by bringing their services on this mobile application platform.
  • Provide another value-added service to departments via a common platform through integration with Telecom Service Provider and Payment gateway which will facilitate easy on-boarding of Government departments.

Other details:

  • The key partners of UMANG are Employee Provident Fund Organization, Direct Benefit Transfer scheme departments, Employee State Insurance Corporation, Ministries of Health, Education, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, and Staff Selection Commission (SSC).
  • UMANG’s international version was launched for selected countries that include the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, UAE, Netherlands, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand.
    • It will help Indian international students, NRIs, and Indian tourists abroad, to avail of Government of India services, anytime.
    • It will also help in taking India to the world through ‘Indian Culture’ services available on UMANG and create interest amongst foreign tourists to visit India.

Source: PIB

India’s first Convergence Project

Context:

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) and the Department of New & Renewable Energy (DNRE), Goa, have signed a memorandum of understanding to roll out India’s first Convergence Project.

India’s first Convergence Project:

  • Goa is the first state to adopt Convergence.
  • The project will accrue savings of INR 2,574 crores to the State over a period of 25 years.
  • The project will provide clean daytime electricity to farmers as well as energy-efficient pump sets which would reduce the power consumption as well as T&D losses associated with transmitting power to agriculture and rural feeder networks. 
  • Through its convergence initiative, EESL seeks to connect seemingly independent sectors like Solar Energy, Energy Storage, and LED lights to provide solutions.
  • Under this program, EESL is offering convergent interventions, which solve multiple gap areas in the energy ecosystem.

Significance of the Convergence Project:

  • The project is aimed at improving the health of DISCOMs and providing cleaner power.
  • The projects will accelerate the usage of renewable energy sources, especially for agricultural and rural power consumption in the State.
  • The projects will also contribute to the reduction of peak energy demand through the deployment of energy-efficient pumping and lighting thus contributing to overall sustainability.

Source: PIB

Leonid Meteor Shower

Context:

According to Norway-based website timeanddate.com, the Leonid meteor showers are currently making their yearly appearance and will reach their peak in India on November 17 and 18.

Leonid Meteor Shower:

  • The Leonids emerge from the comet Tempel-Tuttle, which requires 33 years to revolve once around the Sun.
  • The Leonid Meteor is bright and among the fastest moving i.e. traveling at speeds of 71 km per second.
  • The Leonid showers include "fireballs" i.e. bright and large meteors that can last longer than average meteors and "earthgazers" i.e. meteors which appear close to the horizon with colorful and long tails.
  • The meteor showers are named after the constellation they appear to be coming from and the Leonids originate from the constellation Leo 'the Lion' i.e. the groups of stars which form a lion’s mane.

Visibility of a meteor:

  • The meteors are best seen on a cloudless night, when the entire sky is visible and when the Moon is not extremely bright.
  • The chances of a successful viewing are higher from locations far away from the lights of cities.
  • The shower's peak when the Earth passes through the densest part of the debris cloud.

Meteor Shower:

  • The Earth passes through large swathes of cosmic debris on its journey around the Sun and the debris is essentially the remnants of comets i.e. great frigid chunks of matter that leave behind dirty trails of rocks and ice that linger long after the comets themselves have passed.
  • The Earth wades through the cloud of comet waste and the bits of debris create what appears from the ground to be a fireworks display in the sky which is known as a meteor shower.
  •  According to NASA, over 30 meteor showers occur annually and are observable from the Earth.
  • According to the International Meteor Organisation, the showers that are currently active are the Southern Taurids, the Northern Taurids, and the Leonids.

Source: Indian Express

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Spacecraft

Context:

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is all set to lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Background:

  • Boeing and SpaceX were selected by NASA in 2014 to develop transportation systems meant to transfer crew from the US to the ISS.
  • Earlier in May, NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight lifted off for the ISS, becoming the first crewed flight to launch from American soil since the conclusion of the space shuttle era in 2011.

SpaceX-NASA Crew-1 Mission:

  • It is a mission aimed at carrying a crew of four people to the International Space Station (ISS) on a six-month-long mission.
  • The objective of the Commercial Crew Program is to make access to space easier in terms of its cost, so that cargo and crew can be easily transported to and from the ISS.
  • The Crew-1 mission will launch the agency’s astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mission specialist Soichi Noguchi.
  • The Crew-1 will be the first operational flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket to the ISS.

Objectives of the Crew-1 Mission:

  • The goals of the mission are the same as that of Expedition 1 that lifted off 20 years ago.
  • At the ISS, the Crew-1 team will join members of Expedition 64 and conduct microgravity studies.
  • The mission aims to deliver new science hardware and experiments that they will carry with them to space aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
  • An experiment aboard the Crew Dragon is a student-designed experiment titled, "Genes in Space-7" that aims to understand how spaceflight affects brain function.
  • The mission will enable scientists to understand the physical interactions of liquid, rocks, and microorganisms, experiment on the role of microgravity on human health, and another on how microgravity affects heart tissue.

Source: Indian Express

Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) Project

Context:

Indian astronomers have collaborated with the Physics Nobel Laureate Prof. Andrea Ghez on the design of back-end instruments and possible scientific prospects of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project.

Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) Project:

  • The project is being installed at Maunakea in Hawaii.
  • It is being designed and developed by the TMT International Observatory LLC (TIO).
    • TIO is a non-profit international partnership between the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, the National Institutes of Natural Sciences of Japan, the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Department of Science and Technology of India, and the National Research Council (Canada).
  • It is an international partnership between CalTech, Universities of California, Canada, Japan, China, and India.

Significance:

  • It seeks to advance scientific knowledge while fostering connections among the partner countries and their citizens.
  • It is a new class of extremely large telescopes that will allow us to see deeper into space and observe cosmic objects with unprecedented sensitivity.
  • Its adaptive optics and spectroscopic capabilities will allow astronomers to explore the mysterious period in the life of the universe when the first stars and galaxies were formed.

CERN Project:

  • CERN is the world’s largest particle Physics laboratory.
  • India became a full Associate Member of CERN in 2017, thereby getting full access to data generated there.
  • The contribution of Indian scientists there is mainly in building the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and construction of two significant CERN experiments, CMS and ALICE.

Source: PIB

AIM–Sirius Innovation Programme 3.0

Context:

Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and Sirius, Russia, recently launched ‘AIM–Sirius Innovation Programme 3.0’. It is a 14-day virtual programme for Indian and Russian schoolchildren.

Background:

  • In 2019, an Indian delegation of 25 students and 5 teachers visited the Sirius Centre, Russia, for a 7-day research-based programme. 
  • The teams created 8 different innovations in the areas of remote earth sensing, biological and genetic research, clean energy, data analytics and frontier technologies, and drones and robotics, which were then presented to Russian President. 

AIM–Sirius programme:

  • It is a joint initiative of NITI Aayog's Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and Sirius, Russia.
  • Objective: The first Indo-Russian bilateral youth innovation initiative, the AIM–Sirius programme seeks to develop technological solutions (both web- and mobile-based) for the two countries.

Details:

  • Over a two-week programme, from 7–21 November 2020, 48 students and 16 educators and mentors will participate.
  • This year’s cohort comprises the best Russian students from the Sirius Centre and the best Indian students and ATL in-charges from the top 150 teams of the 2019 ATL Marathon.
  • AIM and Sirius’ mentors from the industry and academia will work closely with the teams.

Functioning:

  • It will create 8 virtual products and mobile applications addressing global challenges in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic.
  • It will involve a range of areas such as culture, distance education, applied cognitive science, health and well-being, sports, fitness, and games training, chemistry, artificial intelligence, and digital financial assets.

Source: PIB

Earth Observation Satellite (EOS)-01

Context:

India will be sending its first space mission in almost a year with a launch of EOS-01 along with nine satellites from foreign countries.

  • Of the nine foreign satellites being carried in the mission, four are from the United States and Luxembourg, while another is a technology demonstrator from Lithuania.

Earth Observation Satellite (EOS)-01:

  • It is a Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT) that will work together with RISAT-2B and RISAT-2BR1 launched last year.
  • EOS-01 was initially named RISAT-2BR2 and was supposed to be the third of the three-spacecraft constellation aimed at providing all-weather round-the-clock service for high-resolution images.
  • With EOS-01, ISRO is moving to a new naming system for its earth observation satellites which till now have been named thematically.

Significance of earth-observation satellites:

  • Land and forest mapping and monitoring,
  • Mapping of resources like water or minerals or fishes,
  • Weather and climate observations,
  • Soil assessment, and
  • Geospatial contour mapping

Features: 

  • The EOS-01, like its cousins RISAT-2B and RISAT-2BR1, uses synthetic aperture radars to produce high-resolution images of the land.
  • The EOS-01 and its sister RISATs, use X-band radars that operate at low wavelengths and are considered best for monitoring of urban landscape, and imaging of agricultural or forest land.
  • According to ISRO, EOS-01 is intended for applications in agriculture, forestry, and disaster management support.

Source: Indian Express

NASA has Observed a Mix of X-ray and Radio Signals

Context:

NASA has reported that on April 28, it observed a mix of X-ray and radio signals never observed before in the Milky Way.

Discovery of simultaneous bursts in the Milky Way:

  • The X-ray portion of the simultaneous bursts was detected by several satellites, including NASA’s Wind mission.
  • The radio component was discovered by the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME).
    • CHIME is a radio telescope located at Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in British Columbia.
    • It is led by McGill University in Montreal, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Toronto.
  • A NASA-funded project called Survey for Transient Astronomical Radio Emission 2 (STARE2) also detected the radio burst seen by CHIME.
    • The STARE2 is operated by Caltech and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

Fast Radio Burst (FRB):

  • The FRB was discovered for the first time in 2007.
  • FRBs are bright bursts of radio waves (radio waves can be produced by astronomical objects with changing magnetic fields) whose durations lie in the millisecond-scale.
  • The source of the FRB detected in the Milky Way is a very powerful magnetic neutron star, referred to as a magnetar, called SGR 1935+2154 or SGR 1935.
  • It is located in the constellation Vulpecula and is estimated to be between 14,000-41,000 light-years away.
  • The FRB was part of one of the magnetar’s most prolific flare-ups, with the X-ray bursts lasting less than a second.
  • The radio burst lasted for a thousandth of a second and was thousands of times brighter than any other radio emissions from magnetars seen in the Milky Way previously.

Magnetar:

  • As per NASA, a magnetar is a neutron star.
  • It is crushed, city-size remains of a star many times more massive than our Sun.
  • The magnetic field of such a star is very powerful, which can be over 10 trillion times stronger than a refrigerator magnet and up to a thousand times stronger than a typical neutron star’s.
  • Neutron stars are formed when the core of a massive star undergoes gravitational collapse when it reaches the end of its life.
  • Magnetars are a subclass of these neutrons and occasionally release flares with more energy in a fraction of a second than the Sun is capable of emitting in tens of thousands of years.

Source: Indian Express

Gov Tech-Thon 2020

Context:

The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) has organized the 'Gov Tech-Thon 2020'.

Gov Tech-Thon 2020:

  • It is a pan-India virtual hackathon organized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), National Informatics Centre (NIC), and Oracle.
  • The five challenges seeking innovative solutions from Gov Tech-Thon 2020:
    • Suggest alternate crops or crop rotation for farmers during different seasons using artificial intelligence technology, considering the terrain and local challenges to increase the productivity
    • The seed supply chain is a complex ecosystem involving various stakeholders. Address the issues of poor seed quality effectively by tracing the seeds using BlockChain technology
    • A mobile/web-based application for scanning, resizing, and uploading documents (as required) in a single flow
    • A tool for monitoring online exams from homes/institutions through a combination of remote-supervision software and webcam. The system should ensure necessary authentication, control, fraud detection, and compliance, using appropriate technology like AI/ML, etc.
    • A self-learning tool for automating Vehicle Fitness Test procedures transparently

National Informatics Centre (NIC):

  • It was established in 1976 with an objective to provide ICT and eGovernance support to the Government.
  • It is an attached office of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
  • It has emerged as a promoter of digital opportunities for sustainable development.
  • NIC spearheaded “Informatics-Led-Development” by implementing ICT applications in social and public administration.
  • NIC facilitates the electronic delivery of services to the government (G2G), business (G2B), citizen (G2C), and government employee (G2E).

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):

  • It is the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity.
  • IEEE and its members inspire a global community to innovate for a better tomorrow through its more than 419,000 members in over 160 countries.
  • IEEE members collaborate on world-changing technologies, from computing and sustainable energy systems to aerospace, robotics, communication, healthcare, and more.

Source: The Hindu

The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST)

Context:

China announced that its Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) has discovered more than 240 pulsars and is expected to detect the primordial gravitational wave of the Big Bang.

The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST):

  • FAST is the world's largest and most powerful radio telescope
  • It is a radio telescope located in the Dawodang depression a natural basin in Pingtang County, Guizhou, southwest China.
  • It is the world's largest filled-aperture radio telescope, and the second-largest single-dish aperture after the sparsely-filled RATAN-600 in Russia.
  • In 2011 construction on the FAST project began and in 2016 it achieved first light.
  • After a three-year testing and commissioning period, it was declared fully operational on 11 January 2020.

Significance:

  • FAST has discovered more than 240 pulsars, and more than 40 high-level papers have been published based on the telescope's data.
  • The sensitivity of FAST is more than 2.5 times that of the world's second-largest single-aperture radio telescope.
  • This is the first time that a China-built radio telescope has topped the world on an important indicator of sensitivity.

India’s Largest Gamma-Ray Telescope:

  • India’s largest and the world’s highest gamma-ray telescope is live this year.
  • Objective: To provide a new window into distant stars and galaxies in the universe.
  • The Major Atmospheric Cherenkov Experiment Telescope (MACE) in Hanle, Ladakh, is placed at an altitude of 4,300 meters above sea level.
  • It is the world’s second-largest, ground-based gamma-ray telescope with a 21-meter-diameter dish.
  • The largest telescope of the same class is the 28-meter-diameter telescope, which is part of the High Energy Stereoscopic System (HESS) in Namibia.

Source: The Hindu

Cybercrime-Related Communication Services

Context:

The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) has created two Cybercrime-related Communication Services i.e. Cybercrime Knowledge Exchange (CKE) and Cybercrime Collaborative Platform-Operation.

Cybercrime Knowledge Exchange (CKE):

  • It handles the general, non-police information and is open to all relevant users.
  • It is open to law enforcement, governments, international organizations, and cybersecurity industry experts to exchange non-police operational information on cybercrime.
  • It is a dynamic communication channel that enables users around the world to discuss the latest cybercrime trends, prevention strategies, detection technologies, and investigation techniques with authorized colleagues globally.
  • The system is expected to foster an international network of subject matter experts to share knowledge and experience in this field.
  • The law enforcement officers and members of the Interpol National Central Bureaus (NCBs) are invited to join the Cybercrime Knowledge Exchange workspace.

Cybercrime Collaborative Platform-Operation:

  • It is the first of its kind a centralized information database for coordination of global law enforcement operations against cybercrime.
  • It assists in law enforcement operations with access restricted to the operational stakeholders only.
  • The platform would enable the member countries to see the bigger picture of cyberthreats and trends and better focus their resources and avoid duplication of effort.
  • The vetted platform members from the NCBs and law enforcement authorities, besides international or regional organizations and private partners that the Interpol has cooperation agreements with, would be invited to join specific workspaces.

Source: The Hindu

First India-Nordic-Baltic Conclave

Context:

The Union External Affairs Minister has addressed the first India-Nordic-Baltic Conclave.

  • Nordic-Baltic Countries is the informal cooperation of the five Nordic (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden), and the three Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania).

Details:

  • The India-Nordic-Baltic Conclave will provide for a greener, smarter, digital & innovation-led future between India and Nordic-Baltic countries.
  • India and the Nordic-Baltic nations have much in common and the shared values have led to a similar outlook towards global challenges and opportunities.
  • The theme of the first India-Nordic-Baltic Conclave was "An Innovation-driven Partnership for Growth in a New World".

The Key Features of the Conclave are:

  • A B2B meeting portal built into the platform where potential partners can meet privately in virtual rooms.
  • Possibility to also showcase products and services through a virtual exposition if required.
  • A virtual library to access documentation 
  • Bring together all key stakeholders–policymakers, businesses, and institutions- to facilitate dialogue and disseminate information

Significance of Nordic-Baltic countries:

  • The Nordic countries are among the most innovative and sustainable economies in the world.
    • When combined with the Baltic nations that are global leaders in niche technologies, the region of 8 nations becomes innovation and technological powerhouse.
    • The power of innovation is used to strengthen the competitiveness and sustainability of businesses and industries, cities, and society at large.
    • The close collaboration between research institutes and the private and public sectors is a key characteristic of the approach in these countries.
  • The Nordic countries rank consistently at the top of global rankings in innovation as well as sustainability.

Baltic Sea:

  • It is an arm of the North Atlantic Ocean, extending northward from the latitude of southern Denmark almost to the Arctic Circle.
  • It separates the Scandinavian Peninsula from the rest of continental Europe.
  • It drains through the Danish Straits into the Kattegat by way of the Oresund, Great Belt, and Little Belt.

Source: The Hindu

Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI) Awards

Context:

The Union Minister of Science & Technology has given Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Awards in two categories i.e. SITARE-GYTI and SRISTI-GYTI awards.

Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI) Awards:

  • The SITARE-GYTI stands for Students Innovations for Advancement of Research Explorations-Gandhian Young Technological Innovation.
    • It falls under the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
  • The SRISTI-GYTI stands for Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technological Innovations-Gandhian Young Technological Innovation.
    • It is given by the Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technological Innovation.
  • The awards and appreciations are given under these two categories to encourage technology students to move towards setting up Biotech and other start-ups.

E-YUVA:

  • The Empowering Youth for Undertaking Value Added Innovative Translational Research (E-YUVA) is a scheme of the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).
  • Objective: To promote a culture of applied research and need-oriented (societal or industry) entrepreneurial innovation among young students and researchers.
  • The scheme is implemented through E-YUVA Centres (EYCs) to inculcate entrepreneurial culture through fellowship, pre-incubation, and mentoring support.
  • The scheme provides support for students under the following two categories:
    • BIRAC’s Innovation Fellows (for postgraduates and above)
    • BIRAC’s E-Yuva Fellows (for undergraduate students)

Atal Innovation Mission:

  • It is a flagship initiative set up by the NITI Aayog.
  • Objective: To promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.
  • Initiatives: Atal Tinkering Labs, Atal Incubation Centers, Atal New India Challenges.

Source: PIB

National Monsoon Mission

Context:

National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) has released a report on "Estimating the economic benefits of Investment in Monsoon Mission and High-Performance Computing Facilities".

Key Findings:

  • 98 % of farmers made modifications to at least one of the nine critical practices based on the weather advisories such as:
    • changed variety/breed; arranged for storage of harvest; early/delayed harvesting; changed crop; early/delayed sowing; changed schedule of ploughing/land preparation;
    • changed pesticide application schedule; changed fertilizer application schedule, and changed scheduled irrigation.
  • About 94 % of farmers who made modifications to any one of the nine critical agricultural practices based on the weather forecast could either avoid the loss or saw an increase in income.
  • The average annual income of farming households which adopted no modification worked out to be Rs. 1.98 Lakh; Rs. 2.43 Lakh for those who modified 1 to 4 practices; Rs. 2.45 Lakh for those who modified 5 to 8 practices and Rs. 3.02 Lakh for those who adopted all the nine changes.

Impact of Weather Advisories on Livestock Owners:

  • The survey finds that almost all livestock owners are taking decisions on livestock management practices based on the weather forecast, 76 % of whom are doing so on all the three practices viz.
    • Modification of shed/shelter; vaccination against seasonal disease; and fodder management
  • About 18 % are taking decisions on any two practices, about 6 % on any one of the three practices, and just 0.3 % of all livestock owners were ignoring all the three practices.
  • The majority of livestock owners (96 percent) reported that weather advisories are improving the practice of vaccination against the seasonal disease.

Impact of Weather Advisories on Fishermen:

  • The decision on venturing into sea-based on Ocean State Forecast (OSF) advisories for fishing has resulted in a substantial reduction in operational cost.
  • About 82 % of fishermen reported using OSF advisories every time before venturing into the sea while 18 percent reported using it sometimes.
  • Almost 95 % of fishermen reported having avoided empty trips by following OSF advisories.
  • About 97 percent of all the surveyed fishermen had received information about the latest flood or cyclone on time whereas slightly less than two-third (63.4 percent) of the fisherfolk were affected by the cyclone or flood in some way or the other.

National Monsoon Mission:

  • It was launched in 2012 by the Ministry of Earth sciences (MoES).
  • Objective: To build a working partnership between the Academic and Research & Development Organizations, both national and international, and the MoES to improve the monsoon forecast skill for the entire country.
  • The four MoES institutes partnered for NMM are:
    • Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune;
    • National Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), Noida;
    • India Meteorological Department (IMD); and
    • Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS)

High-Performance Computing System:

  • The increased resolution of the NMM dynamic models is made possible through timely investments made by MoES for augmentation of High-Performance Computing (HPC) capability at its institutes from 1 PetaFlop to 10 PetaFlops.
  • In order to cater to the needs of modeling activities of Monsoon Mission, an additional 6.8 Peta flops-scale HPC facilities are established at two of the MoES institutes:
    • “Pratyush” at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune with computing capacity of 4 petaflops; and
    • “Mihir” at National Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast (NCMRWF), Noida with computing capacity of 2.8 petaflops.

Source: PIB

Asteroid 16 Psyche

Context:

A study done by NASA has found that asteroid 16 Psyche, which orbits between Mars and Jupiter, could be made entirely of metal. Researchers observed the asteroid through the Hubble Space Telescope.

Key findings:

  • Ultraviolet observation: The scientists noted that the manner in which ultraviolet light was reflected from Psyche was very similar to the way in which iron reflects sunlight.
  • Presence of iron oxide ultraviolet absorption bands: This is an indication that oxidation is happening on the asteroid, which could be a result of the solar wind hitting the surface.
    • Solar wind refers to a stream of charged particles emitted from the sun’s hot outer atmosphere, which is known as its Corona.
  • Metallic asteroid: NASA scientists believe that the asteroid is made up of almost entirely of iron, nickel, and several other rare materials like gold, platinum, cobalt, iridium, and rhenium. 
    • Most asteroids are made up of rocks or ice. Metal asteroids are not commonly found in the solar system.
  • Highly valuable: Hypothetically, if it was to be transported to Earth, NASA has calculated that the iron alone would be worth more than $10,000 quadrillion.

Asteroids:

  • They are sometimes called minor planets, are rocky, airless remnants left over from the early formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago.
  • Most of this ancient space rubble can be found orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter within the main asteroid belt. 

Asteroid 16 Psyche:

  • It is located around 370 million kilometers away from Earth.
  • It is one of the most massive objects in the asteroid belt in our solar system. 
  • This potato-shaped asteroid has a diameter of around 140 miles.
  • It was first discovered on March 17, 1853, by the Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis and was named after the ancient Greek goddess of the soul, Psyche.

NASA’s Psyche mission:

  • NASA plans to launch a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to study Psyche. 
  • The unmanned spacecraft will reach the asteroid in January 2026. 

Objectives:

  • To capture a photograph of the metallic asteroid, after which the spacecraft will study and map it from a distance.
  • To determine whether the asteroid is, in fact, the core of an earlier planet or if it is merely made up of unmelted material.

Source: Indian Express

Promoting Opportunities for Women in Exploratory Research (SERB-POWER)

Context:

The Ministry of Science & Technology has launched the 'Promoting Opportunities for Women in Exploratory Research (SERB-POWER)'.

Promoting Opportunities for Women in Exploratory Research (SERB-POWER):

  • It is an initiative of the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB).
  • It is a scheme designed exclusively for women scientists in India.
  • Objective: To mitigate gender disparity in science and engineering research in various S&T programs in Indian academic institutions and R&D laboratories.

Components: 

  • The SERB-POWER Scheme will have two components namely:
    • SERB-POWER Fellowship
    • SERB- POWER Research Grants.

Features of the SERB-POWER Fellowship are:

  • Target: Women researchers 35-55 years of age. Up-to 25 Fellowships per year and not more than 75 at any point in time.
  • Components of support: Fellowship of Rs. 15,000/- per month in addition to regular income; Research grant of Rs. 10 lakh per annum; and Overhead of Rs. 90,000/- per annum.
  • Duration: The duration of the scheme is three years, without the possibility of extension.

Features of the SERB-POWER Research Grants:

  • The POWER Grants will empower women researchers by funding them under the following two categories:
    • Level I (Applicants from IITs, IISERs, IISc, NITs, Central Universities, and National Labs of Central Government Institutions): The scale of funding is up to 60 lakhs for three years.
    • Level II (Applicants from State Universities / Colleges and Private Academic Institutions): The scale of funding is up to 30 lakhs for three years.
  • The POWER Grant will be regulated through terms of reference conforming to SERB-CRG (Science and Engineering Research Board-Core Research Grant) guidelines.

Source: PIB

Earth Observation Satellite EOS-01

Context:

India would launch its latest earth observation satellite EOS-01 and nine international customer spacecraft onboard its PSLV-C49 rocket from the spaceport of Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on November 7, 2020.

Nine Customer Satellites:

  • These are being launched as part of a commercial agreement with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), Department of Space.
  • This will be the 51st mission of ISRO’s workhorse, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.

EOS-01:

  • It is an earth observation satellite and is intended for applications in agriculture, forestry, and disaster management support.
  • Earth observation satellites are the satellites equipped with remote sensing technology.
  • Earth observation is the gathering of information about Earth's physical, chemical, and biological systems.
  • Many earth observation satellites have been employed on sun-synchronous orbit.

NewSpace India Limited (NSIL):

  • It is a Central Public Sector Enterprise of Government of India and commercial arm of ISRO.
  • It was established in 2019 under the administrative control of the Department of Space (DOS) and the Company Act 2013.
  • Objective: To scale up industry participation in Indian space programmes.

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV):

  • PSLV is the third generation launch vehicle of India.
  • It is the first Indian launch vehicle to be equipped with liquid stages.  
  • PSLV emerged as the reliable and versatile workhorse launch vehicle of India with 39 consecutively successful missions by June 2017.
  • During 1994-2017 period, the vehicle has launched 48 Indian satellites and 209 satellites for customers from abroad.
  • PSLV was used for two of the most important missions. These are Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 and Mars Orbiter Spacecraft in 2013.

Source: The Hindu

Detection of Water on the Moon’s Sunlit Surface 

Context:

The study by NASA reports the detection of water on the Moon’s sunlit surface for the first time.

Background:

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Chandrayaan-1 mission has provided evidence for the existence of water.
  • In 2009, the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) instrument aboard Chandrayaan-1 found water molecules in the polar regions.
  • In 2013 a paper in Nature Geoscience analyzed M3 data to report the detection of magmatic water (water originating from the deep interiors) on the Moon’s surface.
    • However, the observations made by the Chandrayaan-1 mission, NASA’s Cassini and Deep Impact comet mission, and NASA’s ground-based Infrared Telescope Facility did not establish that whether the detected molecules were water as we know it (H20) or in the form of hydroxyl (OH).

About the new discovery:

  • The new findings have confirmed H20 molecules discovered in Clavius Crater in the Moon’s southern hemisphere.
  • It is the first time water has been detected on the sunlit side which implies that water is not restricted to the shadow regions.
  • SOFIA, which is a modified Boeing 747SP jetliner that flies at altitudes up to 45,000 feet, has an infrared camera that picked up the wavelength unique to water molecules.

Formation of Water on Moon:

  • The space rocks carrying small amounts of water could have bombarded the Moon.
  • The Sun’s solar wind could have carried hydrogen, which then reacted with minerals in the lunar soil to create hydroxyl, which later transformed into water.
  • The sunlit surface retaining the water presents a puzzle because the Moon does not have a thick atmosphere and there is a possibility that the water gets trapped into tiny bead-like structures that were created in the soil by impacts from space rocks.
  • The water could be hidden between grains of lunar soil and sheltered from the sunlight.

Significance of the discovery:

  • Water is a precious resource in deep space because water being a marker of potential life.
  • The water is necessary for astronauts landing on Moon not only to sustain life but also for purposes such as generating rocket fuel.
  • NASA’s Artemis program plans to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon in 2024 and hopes to establish a “sustainable human presence” on Moon.

Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3):

  • It is an imaging spectrometer instrument that flew aboard Chandrayaan-1.
  • It provided the first mineralogical map of the lunar surface.
  • In 2009, the Moon Mineralogy Mapper made one of its biggest discoveries when it found water molecules in the polar regions of the moon.

Source: Indian Express

India, Australia Circular Economy Hackathon

Context:

Atal Innovation Mission, in association with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), is organizing an ‘India–Australia Circular Economy Hackathon (I-ACE)’.

Details:

  • The idea of I-ACE was mooted during a virtual summit between the Indian and Australian prime ministers, exploring innovative ways to boost the circular economy in India and Australia.
  • I-ACE will focus on the development of innovative technology solutions by startups and MSMEs of both nations.

The four key themes for the hackathon:

  • Innovation in packaging reducing packaging waste
  • Innovation in food supply chains avoiding waste
  • Creating opportunities for plastic waste reduction
  • Recycling critical energy metals and e-waste

Significance:

  • R&D partnership: By coming together, India and Australia can align research and developmental efforts to achieve more.
  • Circular economy: In the long run a circular economy model will provide more jobs and higher economic growth. 
  • Reduce costs: It will also reduce costs, drive innovation, and have significant environmental benefits.

Atal Innovation Mission:

  • It is a flagship initiative set up by the NITI Aayog.
  • Objective: To promote innovation and entrepreneurship across the length and breadth of the country, based on a detailed study and deliberations on the innovation and entrepreneurial needs of India in the years ahead.
  • AIM is also envisaged as an umbrella innovation organization that would play an instrumental role in:
    • Alignment of innovation policies between central, state, and sectoral innovation schemes 
    • Incentivizing the establishment and promotion of an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship at various levels - higher secondary schools, science, engineering and higher academic institutions, and SME/MSME industry, corporate and NGO levels.

AIM has adopted the following frameworks in the achievement of its objectives.

  • Atal Tinkering Labs: to promote a creative, innovative mindset in schools.
  • Atal Incubators: to promote entrepreneurship in universities and industry.
  • Atal New India Challenges and Atal Grand Challenges: to promote specific product innovations with social/economic impact.
  • Mentors of Change: to mentor students at ATL and AIC Incubators / Startups.

Source: PIB

India, US Ministerial Meeting

Context:

India and the US are preparing for the third 2+2 ministerial meeting between External Affairs Minister and Defence Minister, and US Secretary of State.

  • The meeting will mainly focus on the various agreements signed between the two countries. 

Agreements signed between the two nations:

The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA):

  • BECA largely pertain to geospatial intelligence and sharing information on maps and satellite images for defense.
  • The signing of BECA will allow India to use the US’s advanced geospatial intelligence and enhance the accuracy of automated systems and weapons like missiles and armed drones.
  • The agreement will give access to topographical and aeronautical data and products that will aid navigation and targeting.
  • It will also provide Indian military systems with a high-quality GPS to navigate missiles with real-time intelligence to precisely target the adversary.

The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement  (LEMO):

  • LEMO was signed between India and the US in August 2016.
  • It allows the military of each country to replenish from the other’s bases i.e. access supplies, spare parts, and services from the other country’s land facilities, air bases, and ports, which can then be reimbursed.
  • It is extremely useful for Navy-to-Navy cooperation since the US and India are cooperating closely in the Indo-Pacific.
  • In military terms, one’s Naval ships are strategic assets and the use of another country’s base would expose one’s military asset to the host.

The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA):

  • The agreement was signed in September 2018, after the first 2+2 dialogue.
  • It allows the US to provide India with its encrypted communications equipment and systems so that Indian and US military commanders, aircraft, and ships can communicate through secure networks in peace and war.
  • COMCASA paved the way for the transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India to facilitate “interoperability” between their forces and potentially with other militaries that use US-origin systems for secure data links.

Source: The Hindu

Asteroid Bennu

Context:

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft touched asteroid Bennu, from where it is meant to collect samples of dust and pebbles and deliver them back to Earth in 2023.

  • OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer.
  • The asteroid was named after an Egyptian deity by a nine-year-old boy from North Carolina in 2013. 

Asteroids:

  • These are rocky objects that orbit the Sun, much smaller than planets. They are also called minor planets. 
  • According to NASA, there are around 994,383 known asteroids, the remnants from the formation of the solar system over 4.6 billion years ago.
  • Asteroids are divided into three classes:
    1. Tose found in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, which are estimated to contain somewhere between 1.1-1.9 million asteroids.
    2. Trojans: These are asteroids that share an orbit with a larger planet. NASA reports the presence of Jupiter, Neptune, and Mars trojans. In 2011, they reported an Earth trojan as well.
    3. Near-Earth Asteroids (NEA): These have orbits that pass close by the Earth. Those that cross the Earth’s orbit are called Earth-crossers. More than 10,000 such asteroids are known, out of which over 1,400 are classified as potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs).

OSIRIS-REx mission:

  • This is NASA’s first mission meant to return a sample from the ancient asteroid. 
  • The mission was launched in 2016, it reached its target in 2018 and since then, the spacecraft has been trying to match the velocity of the asteroid using small rocket thrusters to rendezvous it. 
  • The mission is essentially a seven-year-long voyage and will conclude when at least 60 grams of samples are delivered back to the Earth.
  • The mission aims to bring the largest amount of extraterrestrial material back to our planet since the Apollo era.

Recent developments: 

  • Recently, the spacecraft’s robotic arm called the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM), made an attempt to “TAG” the asteroid at a sample site which was no bigger than a few parking spaces and collected a sample.
  • The spacecraft contains five instruments meant to explore Bennu including cameras, a spectrometer, and a laser altimeter.
    • The departure window for the mission will open up in 2021, after which it will take over two years to reach back to Earth.

Asteroid Bennu:

  • Bennu is an asteroid about as tall as the Empire State Building and located at a distance of about 200 million miles away from the Earth. 
  • Scientists study asteroids to look for information about the formation and history of planets and the sun since asteroids were formed at the same time as other objects in the solar system.
    • Another reason for tracking them is to look for asteroids that might be potentially hazardous.
  • Bennu hasn’t undergone drastic changes since its formation over billions of years ago and therefore it contains chemicals and rocks dating back to the birth of the solar system.
    • It is also relatively close to the Earth.

Source: Indian Express 

Frontier Technologies Cloud Innovation Center

Context:

NITI Aayog and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have announced the establishment of a Frontier Technologies Cloud Innovation Center (CIC).

Cloud Innovation Centers:

  • The Cloud Innovation Centers (CIC) Program provides an opportunity for non-profits, education institutions, and government agencies to collaborate with other public sector organizations.
  • Objective: To test new ideas with Amazon’s innovation process and access the technical expertise of AWS.
  • Eligibility: Any non-profit, education or government organization can apply to work on a challenge with a global network of public sector-led innovation centers.

Significance:

  • Frontier Technologies CIC will be a great enabler to budding innovators and start-ups.
  • It will help in piloting state-of-the-art, cloud-centric digital innovations by leveraging emerging technologies such as AI, IoT, robotics, blockchain, etc.
    • The internet of things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals, or people.
    • Blockchains are a new data structure that is secure, cryptography-based, and distributed across a network. The technology supports cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and the transfer of any data or digital asset.
  • It is also aligned to the Prime Minister’s vision of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, as well as that of NITI Aayog and Atal Innovation Mission.
  • Frontier Technologies Cloud Innovation Center will enable government stakeholders, start-ups, and local organizations in India to innovate and create new approaches to solving problems.
  • The center will identify and prioritize projects as well as collaborate with local leaders, including subject matter experts at the state and district levels, to solve critical challenges.

National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog):

  • The Government constituted the NITI Aayog to replace the Planning Commission instituted in 1950. 
  • It was formed in 2015 as a premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Government of India, providing both directional and policy inputs.
  • NITI Aayog designs strategic and long term policies and programs for the Government and also provides relevant technical advice to the Centre and States.
  • Prime Minister of India is the Chairperson of NITI Aayog.
  • Chief Ministers of all the States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories are in the governing council.

Members:

  • Part-time: Maximum of 2 members from foremost universities, leading research organizations, and other innovative organizations in an ex-officio capacity. Part-time members will be on a rotational basis.
  • Ex Officio: Maximum of 4 members of the Council of Ministers which is to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
  • Chief Executive Officer: CEO will be appointed by the Prime Minister for a fixed tenure. He will be in the rank of Secretary to the Government of India.

Source: PIB

Vessel traffic services (VTS) and Vessels Traffic Monitoring Systems (VTMS)

Context:

The Union Ministry of Shipping launched the development of an Indigenous Software solution for Vessel traffic services (VTS) and Vessels Traffic Monitoring Systems (VTMS).

Details:

  • VTS and VTMS are Softwares that determine vessel positions, the position of other traffic or meteorological hazard warnings, and extensive management of traffic within a port or waterway.
  • The Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) contribute to the safety of life at sea, safety, and efficiency of navigation, and protection of the marine environment.
  • The VTS provides protection to adjacent shore areas, worksites, and offshore installations from possible adverse effects of maritime traffic.
  • The Vessels Traffic Management Systems are installed at the busiest waters in the world and are making valuable contributions to safer navigation, more efficient traffic flow, and protection of the environment.

Features:

  • VTMS is mandatory under the IMO Convention SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea).
  • The VTMS traffic image is compiled and collected by means of advanced sensors such as radar, AIS, direction finding, CCTV, and VHF.
  • Currently, India has approximately 15 VTS systems operational along the Indian Coast and there is no uniformity of VTS software as each system has its own VTS software.

Significance of VTS software:

  • VTS Software can be provided to Indian trade-friendly nations viz. Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Bangladesh, and Gulf countries.
  • Minimize the cost for future upgradations of software.
  • Easier to interconnect with MIS/ERP software of ports.
  • Saving of foreign exchange for various VTSs in India.
  • The availability of Indian VTS software shall make Indian companies be competitive commercially in global bids.

Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS):

  • It was born after the sinking of the 1914 RMS Titanic.
    • The third version of the Convention was adopted in 1960 and entered into force in 1965.
  • It is an international maritime treaty that requires signatory flag states to ensure that flagged vessels meet minimum safety standards for operation, equipment, and construction.
  • It contains various chapters dealing with ship-building, security, cargo transport, and International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.
  • It provides for international maritime safety for flag vessels to meet minimum safety standards with reference to the construction, equipment, and operation.

Source: PIB

Science-Society-Setu for Aatmanirbhar Bharat (S34ANB)

Context:

The Ministry of Science & Technology has launched the Science-Society-Setu for Aatmanirbhar Bharat (S34ANB).

Science-Society-Setu:

  • It is a web-clinic series by Science for Equity Empowerment and Development SEED Division, Department of Science and Technology (DST).
  • The initiative is being jointly organized by DST, in collaboration with the office of the Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA), Vigyan Prasar, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), Accelerating Growth of New India’s Innovations (AGNIi), World Wide Fund for Nature India (WWF-India), and Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organization (HESCO).
  • It aims to reach the unreached through ‘vocal for local approach’ to strengthen the social infrastructure and technology-driven pillars of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.
  • It aims to cover four broad sectors i.e. agriculture and allied sectors, MSME & economic sector, social infrastructure, and cross-sectoral areas.

The objectives:

  • To bridge the systematic gaps in the S&T absorption capacity of the community;
  • To enhance the knowledge capacity and livelihood systems for sustainable development at the local level by strengthening the S&T capacity of NGOs and communities.
  • It intends to align Technology, Knowledge, Skills, and Resources at local levels to strengthen the pillars of ‘Social Infrastructure’ and ‘Technology Driven System’.
  • It is being launched, implemented, and managed using the India Science, Technology, and Innovation (ISTI) Web Portal of Vigyan Prasar.

India Science, Technology and Innovation Web Portal:

  • It is a one-stop window for information about developments in India on science, technology, and innovation.
  • It focuses on bringing all stakeholders and Indian STI activities on a single online platform.
  • The portal brings on the table the storehouse of technologies developed in India, the organizations that have developed these technologies, those that have funded them, and the status of the technologies.

Source: PIB

Mars Opposition 2020

Context:

According to NASA, this year Mars’ closest approach to Earth was on October 6, the opposition will happen on October 13, which will give the planet its “biggest, apparent size of the 2020s”.

The opposition:

  • It is the event when the sun, Earth, and an outer planet are lined up, with the Earth in the middle.
  • The event of Opposition, in the case of Mars, takes place every two years and two months (26 months).
    • During this event, Mars outshines Jupiter and becomes the third brightest object (moon and Venus are the first two) in the night sky.
  • The time of opposition is the point when the outer planet is typically also at its closest distance to the Earth for a given year.
  • An opposition can occur anywhere along Mars’ orbit, but when it happens when the planet is also closest to the sun, it is also particularly close to the Earth.
  • As per NASA, from an individual’s perspective on the Earth, Mars rises in the east and after staying up all night, it sets in the west just as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
  • The Sun and Mars appear to be on the opposite sides of the sky and that is why Mars is said to be in “opposition” because of the perspective on the Earth

Occurrence of Opposition:

  • Earth and Mars orbit the sun at different distances (Mars is farther apart from the sun than Earth and therefore takes longer to complete one lap around the sun).
  • The event of opposition can happen only for planets that are farther away from the sun than the Earth.
  • In case of opposition, Mars and Sun are on directly opposite sides of the Earth i.e. the Earth, sun, and Mars all lie in a straight line, with the Earth in the middle.
  • As per NASA, Mars made its closest approach to Earth in 2003 in nearly 60,000 years and it won’t be that close to the planet until 2287 because the orbits of Earth and Mars are not perfectly circular and their shapes can change slightly because of gravitational tugging by other planets.

Why opposition doesn’t always mean the closest point to Earth?

  • Mars' orbit is more elliptical than Earth's which causes the difference between perihelion and aphelion to be greater.
  • The gravity of Jupiter tugs on Mars and causes its orbit to be a bit off-kilter compared with Earth.
  • The orbital quirks can lead to Mars sometimes be closest before opposition, and therefore before it appears brightest.

Source: Indian Express

Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020

Context:

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 for discovering one of gene technology’s sharpest tools i.e. the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors.

Background:

  • Emmanuelle Charpentier was studying a bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes and noticed a previously unknown molecule called tracrRNA.
  • The tracrRNA was part of the bacteria’s immune system and it helps the bacteria destroy viral DNA.
  • In 2011, Charpentier and Doudna succeeded in recreating the bacteria’s scissors and reprogramming it and then proved that they can now use these scissors to cut any DNA molecule at a required site.

CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors:

  • CRISPR is an abbreviation for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.
  • The CRISPR-Cas9 system consists of two molecules that make an edit in the DNA.
    • Cas9: An enzyme that functions as a pair of ‘molecular scissors’. It has the ability to cut the two strands (sense and anti-sense) of DNA at a specific location in the genome.
    • guide RNA (gRNA): A short (20 bases or so) piece of pre-designed RNA sequence located within a longer RNA scaffold. The gRNA guides the Cas9 to the planned part of the genome ensuring the right place is cut.
    • The gRNA has bases that are complementary to the target sequence in the DNA like a very specific lego piece. This in theory ensures that the gRNA binds only to the desired sequence and not somewhere off-target.
  • The Cas9 scissor enzyme is guided to the desired location and snips across both strands of the DNA. Once this happens the cellular mechanism understands that the DNA is damaged so initiates a repair mechanism. At this juncture, it is possible to use this opportunity to introduce changes to the genes of their design.

Possible Applications with CRISPR-Cas Systems:

Gene silencing:

  • With the use of a target-specific CRISPR RNA (crRNA) and trans-activating crRNA (tracrRNA), or a fused format called a single guide RNA (sgRNA), locations within complex mammalian genomes can be targeted by the Cas9 endonuclease for a double-stranded break.
  • The crRNA, tracrRNA, and sgRNAs can either be transcribed intracellularly, in vitro transcribed or custom synthesized and introduced through transfection.
  • The Intracellular expression of Cas9 endonuclease can be accomplished by plasmid or integrated lentiviral expression vectors driven by constitutive or inducible promoters.

DNA-free CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing:

  • The system uses no CRISPR-Cas9 components in the form of DNA vectors i.e. each component is either RNA or protein.
  • The use of DNA-based Cas9 or guide RNA expression systems carries with it the possibility of undesirable genetic alterations due to plasmid DNA integration at the cut site or random lentiviral vector integrations.
  • A DNA-free gene editing system can be a good choice for creating engineered cell lines.

Homology-directed repair (HDR):

  • The CRISPR-Cas9 induced double-strand break can also be used as an opportunity to create a-knockin, rather than a target gene knockout.
  • The precise insertion of a donor template can alter the coding region of a gene to “fix” a mutation, introduce a protein tag, or create a new restriction site.

Embryonic stem cell and transgenic animals:

  • CRISPR-Cas systems can be used to rapidly and efficiently engineer one or multiple genetic changes to murine embryonic stem cells for the generation of genetically modified mice.

Transient activation of endogenous genes (CRISPRa or CRISPR on):

  • By employing a Cas9 mutant that cannot cut DNA and to which a transcriptional activation domain has been fused, the expression of endogenous genes can be up-regulated by targeting the Cas9 fusion protein to the promoter region of an endogenous target gene, or multiple genes simultaneously.

Source: Indian Express

Artemis Program

Context:

NASA plans to send the next man and first woman to the lunar surface by the year 2024 under its Artemis program. The last time NASA sent humans to the Moon was in 1972, during the Apollo lunar mission.

Artemis program:

  • Under this program, NASA will demonstrate new technologies, capabilities, and business approaches that will be needed for the future exploration of Mars.
  • The program is divided into three parts,
    • Artemis I: It is most likely to be launched next year and involves an uncrewed flight to test the SLS and Orion spacecraft.
    • Artemis II: It will be the first crewed flight test and is targetted for 2023.
    • Artemis III: It will land astronauts on the Moon’s the South Pole in 2024.

Details:

  • For NASA, going to the moon involves various elements such as:
    • Exploration ground systems (the structures on the ground that are required to support the launch),
    • Space Launch System (SLS), Orion (the spacecraft for lunar missions),
    • Gateway (the lunar outpost around the Moon), lunar landers (modern human landing systems) and
    • Artemis generation spacesuits 
  • NASA’s new rocket called SLS will send astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft a quarter of a million miles away from Earth to the lunar orbit.
    • Once the astronauts dock Orion at the Gateway (small spaceship in orbit around the moon) they will be able to live and work around the Moon, and from the spaceship, will take expeditions to the surface of the Moon.
  • The astronauts going for the Artemis program will wear newly designed spacesuits, called Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or xEMU.
    • These spacesuits feature advanced mobility and communications and interchangeable parts that can be configured for spacewalks in microgravity or on a planetary surface.

Moon exploration:

  • In 1959, the Soviet Union’s uncrewed Luna 1 and 2 became the first rover to visit the Moon. Since then, seven nations have followed suit.
  • Before the US sent the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, it sent three classes of robotic missions between 1961 and 1968. After July 1969, 12 American astronauts walked on the surface of the Moon until 1972.
    • Together, the Apollo astronauts brought back over 382 kg of lunar rock and soil back to Earth for study.
  • Then in the 1990s, the US resumed lunar exploration with robotic missions Clementine and Lunar Prospector. In 2009, it began a new series of robotic lunar missions with the launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS).
  • In 2011, NASA began the ARTEMIS (Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence, and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun) mission and in 2012, the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory spacecraft studied the Moon’s gravity.
  • The European Space Agency, Japan, China, and India have sent missions to explore the Moon. China landed two rovers on the surface, which includes the first-ever landing on the Moon’s far side in 2019.
  • ISRO recently announced India’s third lunar mission Chandrayaan-3, which will comprise a lander and a rover.

Source: Indian Express

RAISE 2020 Summit

Context:

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and NITI Aayog will organize a Mega Virtual Summit on Artificial Intelligence (AI), RAISE 2020- ‘Responsible AI for Social Empowerment 2020,’ from October 5-9, 2020.

About RAISE 2020:

  • RAISE 2020 is a first of its kind, a global meeting of minds on Artificial Intelligence to drive India's vision and roadmap for social transformation, inclusion, and empowerment through responsible AI.
  • It is organized by the Government of India along with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the event will witness robust participation from global industry leaders, key opinion makers, Government representatives, and academia.
  • RAISE 2020 will be a global meeting of minds to exchange ideas and chart a course for using AI for social transformation, inclusion, and empowerment in areas like Healthcare, Agriculture, Education, and Smart Mobility, among other sectors.

Significance:

  • The Summit will feature some of the most exciting startups working in Artificial Intelligence-related fields. Startups chosen through the AI Solution Challenge will showcase their solutions. 
  • The Summit will explore in-depth, the role of AI in accelerating social empowerment.
  • RAISE 2020 has tracks like AI for Health, Agriculture, Education, Skilling, Mobility, Fintech, Research, Inclusive AI, Future of Work, and Responsible AI, and the Summit will serve as a platform for the meeting of some of the best minds in the world on AI.”

Artificial Intelligence in India:

  • As per the reports, AI could add up to 957 billion USD to India’s economy by 2035.
  • India can leverage AI for inclusive development, representing the country's 'AI for All' strategy.
  • Recently, India joined the 'Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI)' as a founding member to support the responsible and human-centric development and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  • India has launched National AI Strategy and National AI Portal and has also started leveraging AI across various sectors such as education, agriculture, healthcare, e-commerce, finance, telecommunications, etc.

Source: PIB

The Solar Cycle

Context:

Scientists from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced their predictions about the new solar cycle, called Solar Cycle 25. According to scientists, the solar cycle has begun. Solar cycles have implications for life and technology on Earth as well as astronauts in space.

Solar cycle:

  • Electrically charged gases on Sun's surface generate areas of powerful magnetic forces, which are called magnetic fields.
  • The gases on the Sun’s surface are constantly moving, these magnetic fields can get stretched, twisted, and tangled creating motion on the surface, which is referred to as solar activity.
  • Solar activity varied with the stages of the solar cycle, which lasts an average period of 11 years.

Tracking of solar activity:

  • Scientists track a solar cycle by using sunspots. Sunspots are associated with the origins of giant explosions such as solar flares that can spew light, energy, and solar material into space.
  • Sunspots are the dark blotches on the Sun that are associated with solar activity.

Significance:

  • The tracking of solar activity is important because it can have effects on Earth. For example, when charged particles from coronal mass ejections reach areas near the Earth, they can trigger intense lightning in the skies (auroras).
  • When Coronal mass ejections are particularly strong, they can also interfere with the power grids, which can cause electricity shortages and power outages.
    • NASA notes that solar flares and coronal mass ejections are the most powerful explosions in our solar system.
  • Solar flares can have also a major effect on radio communications, GPS connectivity, power grids, and satellites.

Sunspots:

  • It is an area on the Sun that appears dark on the surface and is relatively cooler than the surrounding parts.
  • These spots are around 50,000 km in diameter, are the visible markers of the Sun’s magnetic field, which forms a blanket that protects the solar system from harmful cosmic radiation.
  • When a Sunspot reaches up to 50,000 km in diameter, it may release a huge amount of energy that can lead to solar flares.
  • The beginning of a solar cycle is characterized by only a few sunspots and is therefore referred to as a solar minimum.
  • Recently, scientists announced that the solar minimum for Solar Cycle 25 occurred in 2019. It took time for them to announce this because of the variability of the Sun.
  • Scientists predict a solar maximum (middle of the solar cycle) will be reached by 2025 and that this solar cycle will be as strong as the last solar cycle, which was a “below-average cycle” but not without risks.

Source: Indian Express

Aatmanirbhar Bharat ARISE-Atal New India Challenges

Context:

Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog, launched the Aatmanirbhar Bharat ARISE-Atal New India Challenges, to spur applied research and innovation in Indian MSMEs and startups.

Details:

  • The programme will be driven by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and four ministries:
    • Ministry of Defence
    • Ministry of Food Processing Industries 
    • Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
    • Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

Features:

  • A total of 15 sector-specific challenges will be selected where three challenges are kept for each ministry.
  • The challenge is divided into two broad categories:
    • Art & Innovation
    • Science, Technology & Innovation.
  • A grant-of-aid of up Rs. 50 lakh for a period of 9 to 12 months have been earmarked for startups to develop a minimum usable prototype.
  • Innovators would also be attracted by using the Mahatma Gandhi Challenge method which was launched on the 150th birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Benefits:

  • The initiative will help promote technopreneurs because of their immense potential of taking India's economy forward.
  • It will support deserving applied research-based innovations by providing funding support of up to Rs 50 lakh for speedy development of the proposed technology solution and/or product.

Role of the ISRO in MSME :

  • ISRO, which is a great promoter of technology, Indian departments and big companies never encourage and promote new startups that have done unique work. For ARISE-ANIC’s success, the government must become the first buyer.
  • ISRO is planning to adopt 100 Atal Tinkering Labs, 3 each in each state and UTs.
  • ISRO has also adopted three thrust areas naming:
    • Use of Artificial Intelligence for weather forecasting and crop monitoring.
    • Use of green propellants, electric propulsion, and advanced air-breathing.
    • Use of AI and Robotics for supporting space exploration and outer space monitoring.

Source: PIB

 Real Mango Software

Context:

In a nationwide investigation, Railway Protection Force (RPF) has disrupted the operation of illegal software called “Real Mango”. It was used for cornering confirmed Railway reservation.

  • The information supplied by RPF will help the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) to strengthen security features in the Passenger Reservation System (PRS).

 Real Mango software:

  • It is an illegal software developed for booking Tatkal tickets of Indian railways.
  • The software mainly bypasses captcha and synchronizes bank OTP with the help of a mobile app and feeds it to the requisite form automatically.
  • The software auto-fills the passenger details and payment details in the forms.

Issues:

  • With the help of software, multiple tickets can be booked.
  • The software logs in to the IRCTC website through multiple IRCTC Ids.
  • The software helps in swift online ticket booking by agents whereas common people may not get the tickets booked on their own. This creates the possibility of ticket hoarding and black marketing of tickets.

Railway Protection Force (RPF):

  • It was established by the Railway Protection Force Act, 1957.
  • Objective: To provide better protection and security of railway property and passengers.
  • Power: RPF has the power to search, arrest, investigate, and prosecute offenses committed under Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act 1966, the Railways Act, 1989.
    • However, the power of arrests under other penal laws rests in the hands of the Government Railway Police (GRP).

Government Railway Police (GRP):

  • It is part of the state police.
  • GRP maintains law and order and policing on railways, including on trains.
  • GRP renders assistance to railway officers and enquires into accidents on the railway,

Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS):

  • CRIS is the Information Technology (IT) wing of Indian Railways.
  • It was set up by the Ministry of Railways as a Society in 1986.
  • It performs the functions of Indian Railways such as passenger ticketing, freight operations, train dispatching and control, crew management, e-procurement, etc.

Source: PIB

The India-Russia Joint Technology Assessment and Accelerated Commercialization Programme

Context:

The India-Russia Joint Technology Assessment and Accelerated Commercialization Programme has been launched by the Department of Science and Technology.

  • The program is launched in partnership with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises (FASIE) of the Russian Federation.

Key features:

  • Objective: To connect Indian, and Russian Science & Technology led SMEs and Start-ups for joint Research and Development for technology development and for cross-country technology adaptation.
  • The initiative will run through two annual cycles with up to five projects to be funded under each cycle.
  • Projects under the program include leading S&T focus areas, including IT & ICT, Medicine & Pharmaceuticals, Renewable Energy, Aerospace, Alternative Technologies, Environment, New Materials, Biotechnologies, Robotics, and Drones.
  • On behalf of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), FICCI will implement the program in India.

Funding:

  • Over a period of two years, DST will fund up to Rs 15 Crores to ten Indian SMEs/Start-ups and FASIE will provide similar funding to the Russian projects.
  • The program will provide access to partial public funding for jointly selected projects with the participation of at least one start-up/SME from India and one SME from Russia. The selected projects will be required to bear partial funding as well, either through their own funds or alternate sources of funding.
  • In addition to financial support, the teams will also be supported through capacity building, mentorship, and business development.
  • The program is accepting applications under two categories, i.e. Joint Partnership Projects and Technology Transfer/Adaptation. 

Benefits:

  • The innovations and technologies supported through this program will help both countries to face and overcome future challenges.
  • This initiative will create an ecosystem for S&T-led SMEs and startups to come together to develop new technological solutions.
  • The launch of this program will help both countries move towards the revival of the economies leading to sustainable growth.
  •  India and Russia have a long-standing bilateral scientific cooperation. The launch of the program is another step towards strengthening the Science, Technology, and Innovation ties between the two countries.
  • This initiative can leverage joint intellectual and financial resources to develop technologies. 
  • India has one of the largest startup ecosystems in the world. S&T-led innovation and entrepreneurship are the priorities of both countries. There is a history of scientific cooperation between the countries.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)

  • It was established in 1927 as an association of business organizations in India.
  • FICCI is the largest, and oldest business organization in India.
  • It is a non-government, not-for-profit organization.
  • FICCI draws its membership from the corporate sector, both private and public, including SMEs and MNCs.
  • Headquarter: New Delhi
  • It has a presence in 12 states in India and 8 countries across the world.

Source: PIB

5G Network in India

Context:

Reliance Industries’s telecom venture Jio has designed and developed a complete indigenous 5G network solution.

5G in India:

  • Telecom service providers and their equipment vendors have completed lab trials of 5G network components.
    • However, their field trials, which were initially scheduled to happen last year not done yet.
  • For the same, telecom companies are awaiting the allocation of test spectrum from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
  • Telecom companies have already tied up with mobile makers companies like Nokia, Ericsson, etc for deploying their 5G networks.

Jio’s 5G solution:

  • Jio has a complete end-to-end 5G solution prepared by the company itself that is ready for deployment once the networks are in place.
  • This solution can also be deployed by other telecom operators as a complete managed service.
  • American chipmaker Qualcomm invested in Jio the investment will deepen the ties between Qualcomm and Jio Platforms.
    • The objective of investment was to support Jio Platforms to rollout advanced 5G infrastructure and services for Indian customers.
  • Google also partnership with Jio to develop affordable smartphones using an optimized Android-based operating system.
  • Developing an Android 5G application ecosystem would also be an area of focus for Google from a medium-term perspective.

Features of 5G: 

  • It is the latest upgrade in the long term evolution (LTE) mobile broadband networks.
  • First-generation: It allowed only mobile voice calls to be made,
  • The second generation: It allowed mobile voice calls as well as sending short text messages.
  • The third generation: It allowed web browsing on mobile devices, the speed, and latency of which improved with fourth-generation (4G) networks.
  • The 5G networks will have even faster speeds with latency down to between 1-10 milliseconds.
    • Latency is the time a device takes to communicate with the network, which stands at an average of up to 50 milliseconds for 4G networks across the world.

Working of 5G:

  • All 5G networks operate on three spectrum bands.
  • The low-band spectrum has great coverage and works fast even in underground conditions. However, the maximum speed limit on the 5G network band is 100 Mbps.
  • In the mid-band spectrum, though the speeds are higher, telecom companies have registered limitations when it comes to coverage area and penetration of telephone signals into buildings.
  • The high-band spectrum provides the highest speed but has very limited network coverage area and penetration capabilities. The telecom companies using this band rely on the existing LTE networks and will need to install several smaller towers to ensure adequate coverage and high-speed performance.

Benefits:

  • 5G networks use beam tracking to follow all devices on the network to ensure consistent connection in real-time for the device.
  • 5G networks are designed to multiple-input multiple-output efficiency which improves signal throughput for all devices on the network.

Source: Indian Express

Non-Personal Data

Context:

A committee headed by Kris Gopalakrishnan has suggested that non-personal data generated in India be allowed to be harnessed by many Indian companies. The committee has kept time till August 13 for the public to send suggestions. 

Details:

  • The committee was set up by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to work on a data governance framework and suggest ways to regulate non-personal data. 
  • The committee has suggested setting up a new authority that would be empowered to monitor the use and mining of non-personal data.

Non-personal data:

  • It is any set of data that does not contain personally identifiable information. It means no individual or living person can be identified by looking at such data.
    • For example, Order details collected by a food delivery service will have the name, age, gender, and other contact details of the customer, it will become non-personal data if the identifiers such as name and contact information are taken out.

Public, community, and private non-personal data sets:

  • All the data collected by the government and its agencies (census data by municipal corporations) has been known as public non-personal data.
  • Any data about a set of people who have either the same geographic location, religion, job known as the community's non-personal data.
    • For example, the data collected by telecom companies, electricity distribution companies, etc.
  • Private non-personal data are those which are produced by individuals and can be derived from the application of proprietary software or knowledge.

Concerns of non-personal data:

  • Unlike personal data non-personal data is more likely to be in an anonymized form.
    • However, certain categories like data related to national security such as locations of government laboratories or research facilities, even if provided in anonymized form can be dangerous.
  • Similarly, even if the data is about the health of a community though it may be in anonymized form, it can still be dangerous.
  • Possibilities of harm are much higher if the original personal data is of a sensitive nature. Therefore, the non-personal data arising from such sensitive personal data may be considered as sensitive non-personal data,

Global standards on non-personal data:

  • In 2019, the European Union (EU) came out with a regulatory framework for the free flow of non-personal data in the EU. EU suggested that member states would cooperate with each other when it came to data sharing.
  • Such data would be shared by member states without any hindrances, and that they must inform the “commission any draft act which introduces a new data localization requirement.
  • The EU, however, had not defined what non-personal data constituted of. 
  • In other countries of the world, there are no nationwide data protection laws for personal or non-personal data.

Source: Indian Express

Aids to Navigation Bill, 2020

Context:

The draft of Aids to Navigation Bill, 2020 has been issued by the Ministry of Shipping and it is open for suggestions from the stakeholders and the general public.

  • Objective: To regulate state-of-the-art technologies of a marine navigation system which was earlier used to tangle in statutory provisions of Lighthouse Act, 1927.

Key features:

  • The draft bill is proposed to replace the Lighthouse Act, 1927, to incorporate the global best practices, technological developments, and India's International obligations in the field of Aids to Marine Navigation.
  • This initiative is part of the proactive approach adopted by the Ministry by repealing archaic colonial laws and replacing it with modern, advanced, and contemporary needs of the maritime industry. 
  • The draft bill has given additional power to Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL) such as Vessel Traffic Service, Wreck flagging, training and certification, implementation of other obligations under International Conventions, where India is a signatory.
  • It also provides for the identification and development of heritage lighthouses.
  • The draft bill comprises a new schedule of offenses, along with penalties for obstructing and damaging the aids to navigation, and non-compliance with directives issued by the Central Government and other bodies under the draft bill.
  • Modern technology has improved aids to maritime navigation, the role of authorities regulating and operating maritime navigation has changed significantly. Therefore the new law encompasses a major shift from lighthouses to modern aids of navigation.

Significance:

  • According to the ministry, the public and stakeholders will strengthen the provisions of the legislation. 
  • Development of modern technologically improved aids to maritime navigation has changed the role of authorities regulating and operating maritime navigation.
    • Hence, a new law was necessary that encompasses a major development from lighthouses to modern aids of navigation.
    • The new technology will improve India's maritime security. 

The Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships:

  • It is a subordinate office under the Ministry of Shipping for providing General Aids to Marine Navigation along the Indian coast.
  • Motto: Provide safe and secure navigation in the Indian waters.  
  • Headquarter: Noida (UP)
  • For administrative control, the entire coastline has been divided into Nine Districts having their regional headquarters at Gandhidham, Jamnagar, Mumbai, Goa, Cochin, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Kolkata, and Port Blair.
  • Aids Provided: The Directorate has provided aids to marine navigation that can be categorized as visual and radio Aids. The visual aids are lighthouses, light vessels, buoys, and beacons. The radio aids are DGPS, RACONs, etc.

Source; PIB

Atmanirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge

Context:

Prime Minister of India has launched the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge’ to help the local developers to create indigenous apps.

Background:

  • The challenge has been launched in the backdrop of India’s ban on 59 Chinese Apps which included famous apps such as UC Browser and Tik Tok.
  • This Challenge is a step forward not only towards a Digitalized India but also the one which is self-sufficient in sustaining itself in all the areas.

Details:

  • It has been launched in the combined partnership of the Ministry of Electronics &IT and Atal Innovation Mission-Niti Aayog.
  • Aim: It aims at encouraging tech & startup communities to create world-class Made in India Apps. Innovators are invited under this challenge to develop apps.
    • The Innovation Challenge which consists of various incentives and cash awards of featuring Apps aims at creating an ecosystem where Startups and Indian entrepreneurs are incentivized to incubate, ideate, build, sustain and nurture tech solutions that will serve not only Indian citizens but the whole world.
  • The app will identify the best Indian apps that are being used by the citizens and have the potential to become a world-class App in their respective categories.
  • The Innovation Challenge launched in the following 8 categories:
    • Social Networking
    • Office Productivity & Work From Home
    • E-Learning
    • Health & Wellness
    • Entertainment
    • News
    • Business including Fintech and Agritech
    • Games
  • The Innovation Challenge will be available on the MyGov portal.

The challenge will run in two tracks:

  • Promotion of existing apps.
  • Development of new apps.
  • The outcome: It will give better visibility and clarity to existing apps to achieve their goals and to create tech products to find solutions to tech conundrums with the help of mentorship, tech support, and guidance during the entire life-cycle.

Rewards:

  • The prize money for apps is between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 2 lakh depending on the category.
  • Criteria of evaluation: ease of use, robustness, security features, and scalability.

Source: PIB