Daily Prelims Notes 17 June 2022
- June 17, 2022
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
17 June 2022
1. Digital Communications Commission (DCC)
Section: National Organization
- The Government of India, vide executive resolution has re-designated the Telecom Commission (set up in 1989 by executive order) as the ‘Digital Communications Commission’.
The DCC is responsible for:
- Formulating the policy of Department of Telecommunications for approval of the Government;
- Preparing the budget for the Department of Telecommunications for each financial year and getting it approved by the Government; &
- Implementation of Government’s policy in all matters concerning telecommunication.
- The Digital Communications Commission consists of a Chairman, four full time members, who are ex-officio Secretaries to the Government of India in the Department of Telecommunications and four part time members who are the Secretaries to the Government of India in the concerned Departments.
- The Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Telecommunications is the ex-officio Chairman of the Digital Communications Commission.
- The full-time Members of the Digital Communications Commission are Member (Finance), Member (Production), Member (Services) & Member (Technology).
- The part-time Members of the Digital Communications Commission are Chief Executive Officer, NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog, Secretary (Department of Economic Affairs), Secretary ( Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology) and Secretary (Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion).
2. In harmony: Dargah shifted, shikhar set, PM Modi to unfurl flag atop temple
Subject: Art and Culture
Section: Temple architecture
Context: According to the temple trust, for the first time, the temple will have a shikhara (superstructure and spire) where earlier stood the Hazrat Sadanshah Wali Peer dargah that was relocated to a space next to it in an “amicable settlement” during redevelopment.
- Shikhara, a Sanskrit word translating literally to “mountain peak”, refers to the rising tower in the Hindu temple architecture of North India, and also often used in Jain temples.
- A shikhara over the garbhagriha chamber where the presiding deity is enshrined is the most prominent and visible part of a Hindu temple of North India.
- In South India, the equivalent term is vimana; unlike the shikhara, this refers to the whole building, including the sanctum beneath.
- In the south, shikhara is a term for the top stage of the vimana only, which is usually a dome capped with a finial; this article is concerned with the northern form.
- The southern vimana is not to be confused with the elaborate gateway-towers of south Indian temples, called gopuram, which are often taller and more prominent features in large temples.
Types of Shikhara:
The shikhara has four faces, which may include projections or ratha within each face.
All the elements run smoothly up the face in a curve.
They are also sometimes called “homogeneous” shikhara, as opposed to the next two types, which may be called “heterogeneous”.
The latina shape has engaged (attached) sub-spires or spirelets called urushringa echoing the main shape.
These may run up most of the face.
There may be more than one size of these, sometimes called secondary and tertiary.
Tertiary spirelets are typically near the ends of the face or on the corners.
The tower has miniature spires, in horizontal and vertical rows, all the way to the top, creating a grid-like effect on each face.
The tower is generally less strongly vertical in overall shape, often approaching a pyramidal shape.
Mainly found in the northern Deccan and West India.
3. VPN firms withdrawing servers from India
Subject: Science and Technology
Section: Awareness in computers
- Top VPN companies such as Surfshark, ExpressVPN and NordVPN have announced that they would be removing their servers from India, but consumers may not face any immediate impact.
- Overall, the three companies have been clear that Indian customers are still free to connect with their servers overseas to utilize their services. So, customers do not face an immediate impact.
- It is a private network that is virtually created when you surf the Web.
- Every time you switch on your VPN connection, a secure channel is created, which acts as an intermediary between your device and the destination webpage.
- Your data is then sent to an external VPN server, which then connects you to your destination.
- However, when the VPN server does this, your IP address, which is the online equivalent of a user-specific postal code, is changed — and thus websites are unable to accurately track your location.
- This private network promotes online safety and enhances your overall privacy on the Web.
- CERT-in issued directives, asking data centres, VPS and cloud service providers and Virtual Private Network service (VPN service) providers, to register and retain some of the metadata.
- VPN companies have been specifically directed to store validated customer names, their physical addresses, e-mail IDs, phone numbers and the reason why a customer is using the VPN, as part of the CERT-In directives.
4. Crashing crypto market
Section: Monetary Policy
- Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies have been crashing since they hit an all-time high late last year.
- Bitcoin has lost more than two-thirds of its value since it hit a peak of around $69,000 in November last year and is currently trading at around the $22,000 mark. Ethereum, another cryptocurrency popular among investors, has lost almost 80% from its peak.
- As a result, the overall market capitalisation of cryptocurrencies has dropped under $1 trillion for the first time since January 2021.
- The crash, which shows no signs of reversal yet, seems to have led to a drop in investor enthusiasm with trading volumes in Indian cryptocurrency exchanges dropping by 90% from their peak.
- It may not be possible to pinpoint the exact reasons why investors are fleeing cryptocurrencies at the moment.
- It’s in line with the fall in prices of stocks and other assets as central banks such as the U.S. Federal Reserve tightens monetary policy to fight price rise.
- Others believe that the crash could also mark the popping of the bubble that has driven the prices of cryptocurrencies to stratospheric levels.
5. China rewrites Hong Kong textbooks to deny Britain ever ruled the city
- New textbooks for use in Hong Kong contend the territory was never a British colony. The reason: China never recognized the treaties that ceded it to Britain.
- As Beijing’s grip on Hong Kong has tightened in the wake of huge anti-government protests in 2019, revamping education has been a focus.
History of Hong Kong
- Hong Kong was established as a colony of the British Empire after the Qing Empire ceded Hong Kong Island from Xin’an County at the end of the First Opium War in 1841 then again in 1842.
- The colony expanded to the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 after the Second Opium War and was further extended when Britain obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898.
- British Hong Kong was occupied by Imperial Japan from 1941 to 1945 during World War II; British administration resumed after the surrender of Japan.
- The whole territory was transferred to China in 1997.
- As one of China’s two special administrative regions (the other being Macau), Hong Kong maintains separate governing and economic systems from that of mainland China under the principle of “one country, two systems”.
- Until July 1997, Hong Kong was run by a British colonial administration. Many in Hong Kong still have links to Britain, or even U.K. passports, and some recall British rule with nostalgia, chafing under Beijing’s heavy hand.
- Even Chinese President Jiang seemed to acknowledge in a speech at the handover that Hong Kong had been a colony — or at least that China had not been exercising sovereignty over it.
6. Microplastics in Antarctica
- For the first time, microplastics have been found in freshly fallen snow in Antarctica.
What are microplastics?
- Microplastics are tiny plastic debris that are smaller than 5 mm in length, tinier than even a grain of rice.
- There are two types of microplastics.
- Primary microplastics are tiny particles that are purposely designed as such for commercial use, like in cosmetics, nurdles-plastic pellets used in industrial manufacturing and in fibres from synthetic textiles like nylon.
- Secondary microplastics are formed through the degradation of larger plastic items like bottles, fishing nets and plastic bags. This occurs through exposure to the environment, like radiation from the sun, wind and ocean waves.
How did they reach Antarctica?
- The study found an average of 29 particles of microplastic per litre of melted snow.These particles, due to their light weight and low density, might have travelled through air from more than 6,000 km away.
- There is also a possibility that the human presence in Antarctica created a microplastic ‘footprint’.
- Of the 13 different plastic types found, the most common was polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a type of plastic used in everyday items such as clothes, plastic bottles, packaging etc. PET was found in 79 per cent of all samples.
- The most likely sources of the airborne microplastic are local research stations, due to the clothing worn by staff, broken fragments of plastic equipment and mismanaged waste.
- There was a much larger concentration of microplastics (nearly 3 times higher) in the samples next to local base camps, such as Scott Base and McMurdo Station in Ross Island, as compared to those from more remote sites.
- Way finding flags, made of synthetic polyamide fabric which identify safe routes for travel, might also release microplastic, according to the report.
Why is this discovery troubling?
- It shows that the spread of microplastics is so widespread, that even the remotest and least habitable places in the world are now infested by these particles.
- The presence of these particles can pose a huge threat to Antarctica’s distinctive ecosystem.
- Microplastics are not biodegradable and once they are found in the environment, they begin to accumulate. They can be toxic for plants and animals.
- Ingestion of microplastics by various life forms in the region, from microorganisms like zooplankton to larger predators like king penguins can disrupt their usual biological processes and negatively impact the entire Antarctic food chain.
- The presence of microplastics in Antarctica can also worsen the impact of climate change.
- Ice sheets and glaciers are already rapidly melting, and the report suggests that the microplastics deposited in ice and snow can accelerate the melting of the cryosphere — regions where water is in solid form, like the planet’s North and South Poles.
- Dark-coloured microplastics, which constituted 55% of the samples collected, are even more harmful than lighter colours, as they are better at absorbing sunlight and retain more heat.Further, the ubiquitous presence of microplastics in not only land and water, but the air as well.
- When snow travels in the atmosphere, it binds itself to airborne particles and pollutants, which are then deposited on Earth’s surfaces. This phenomenon is called “scavenging” and according to scientists is a significant way in which microplastics are able to travel and further pollute land and water.
- When carried by the snow, rain and wind, they can also lead to the risk of possible inhalation of microplastics by humans and wildlife.
7. Global warming and the Himalayas:
Section: Climate Change
- Underground phenomenon triggered by global warming is damaging the Himalayas
Impact of global warming in Himalayan ecosystem:
- Permafrost thaw, one of the changes to the mountain cryosphere in the Himalayas, triggered by global warming is causing irreparable loss and damage to the valley.
- Permafrost thawing can result in huge economic loss in the Himalayan region since the cryosphere lies at the source of many rivers in South Asia and influences a variety of activities from irrigation and fisheries to hydropower, apart from taking care of the water needs of people.
- In Tibetan Plateau, there is evidence that permafrost thawing has induced changes in wetlands, ponds, groundwater storage, and vegetation.
- It destabilises the slopes triggering landslides.
What is Permafrost?
- Permafrost is overlain by a layer of seasonally frozen and thawing ground known as “the active layer”.
- Under the active layer, permafrost can be from three feet to 4,900 feet thick.
- It stores carbon-based remains of plants and animals that froze before they could decompose. For example, one million square kilometres of Siberia, Canada, and Alaska contain pockets of Yedoma — thick deposits of permafrost from the last ice age, reports Nature.
- Considered as the largest terrestrial carbon sink on Earth, an estimate suggests that currently, permafrost is a reservoir of up to 1600 billion tons of carbon – that’s more than what the world’s soils store.
- Scientists fear that the IPCC recommendation of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius may not be enough to stop the permafrost from thawing.
Drivers of permafrost thawing:
- While global warming remains the primary driver of permafrost thawing, changes in air temperature, snow cover, vegetation, rainfall and soil moisture, and environmental disturbances (eg. wildfire, human activities like building infrastructure, farming, etc) and thermal properties of soil material, such as organic layer thickness, play an important part.
8. WTO – trade deal
Subject: International relation
Section: International organization
- The WTO is close to a trade deal with limited commitments.
12th Ministerial Conference of WTO in Geneva
- The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is close to cobbling up a trade deal at its 12th Ministerial Conference in Geneva, seven years after the last pact in Nairobi in 2015, with limited commitments under way in areas including TRIPS waiver for Covid-19 vaccines, World Food Programme procurement, moratorium on e- commerce and on disciplining fisheries subsidies.
- India’s key demands of getting a permanent solution on tackling subsidy limits for public stock holding programmes and allowing exports from public stocks on government-to-government basis for humanitarian causes and food aid, have, however, been set aside for a decision at the next Ministerial Conference, which is likely in two years’ time.
- The moratorium on customs duties on e-commerce is also likely to get an extension, with members agreeing to continue not imposing duties till the next Ministerial Conference, which is to be scheduled in December 2023.
- The package is also set to include a temporary waiver of certain TRIPS provisions, but only on vaccines, which is likely to be for a period of five years.
- India was insistent that the waiver should be given for therapeutics and diagnostics as well, but this is to be settled at a later date.
- In the area of fisheries subsidies, there will be no curbs on subsidies for fishers fishing within the country’s jurisdiction, which was a key demand of India.
- All members are free to give subsidies for items such as boats, nets, fishing equipment and fuel without any limits.
- However, for illegal and unregulated fishing, the extra emption from subsidy cuts is likely to be for two years.
- India does not engage in illegal and unregulated fishing or fishing in the high seas.
- Members are also set to agree to exempt food procurement by WFP from export restrictions, but with a clause that restrictions could be imposed if domestic food security is at stake.
9. WTO E-comm deal
Subject: International relation
Section: International organization
- WTO members reached a provisional deal on Thursday to extend a moratorium on applying duties to electronic transmissions until the next ministerial meeting, likely to be in 2023.
- The prospect of ending the moratorium, which has exempted data ﬂows from cross-border tariﬀs since 1998, had raised major concerns among businesses.
- Backed by players like the U.S., the U.K. and the European Union, they argued that letting it expire would undermine a global recovery already threatened by spiralling prices.
- WTO members agree to maintain the current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions until MC13 which should ordinarily be held by 31 December 2023.
- It said the mora-torium would expire in March 2024, should the next conference be postponed.
- India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and South Africa had threatened to block an extension earlier in the five-day’s ministerial conference, where deals are also being sought on fishing, vaccines and food security.
Moratorium on Customs duties
- Under the programme, WTO members agreed to continue the practice of not imposing Customs duties on electronic transmissions.
- Also known as “moratorium on Customs duties”, this has been renewed regularly at each Ministerial Conference and many WTO members, led by the US, wanted the moratorium to continue in MC 13
- One of the reasons for implementing the moratorium is that it is technically not possible for Customs to collect duties on digitised products like software.
Change in stance of India in recent years :
- India’s position has changed over time. India, with a vibrant software industry, was a proponent of liberalisation of Mode 1 or cross-border trade.
- However, with the growth of e-commerce, there is a fear that developing countries, including India, are importers and thereby losing out on Customs duty.
- On March 10, 2020, India and South Africa circulated a paper on the need to understand the scope and impact of the moratorium.
- Citing UNCTAD studies, it presented the potential tariff revenue losses from goods that have become digitised, and which are digitisable.
10. What was the Black Death, where did it originate?
Subject: Science and Technology
Context: In a study published in the journal Science on June 15, researchers have claimed that the Black Death disease originated in modern day northern Kyrgyzstan around 1338-1339 – nearly 7-8 years before it ravaged large parts of the world
What was the Black Death?
- The term Black Death refers to the bubonic plague that spread across Western Asia, Northern Africa, Middle East and Europe in 1346-53
- It was caused by bacterium Yersinia pestis
- It was spread by fleas that were carried by rodent hosts
- It is transmitted to others either through the vector of a human flea or directly through the respiratory system
Why was Bubonic plague called as Black Death?
- It gets name from the black marks that appeared on some of the plague victims’ bodies.
- However, historians argued that this term, which only emerged centuries later, had less to do with the disease’s clinical symptoms, and more to do with how European writers from the 19th century onwards understood the epidemic
- In the 14th century, the epidemic was referred to as the ‘great pestilence’ or ‘great death’, due to the demographic havoc that it caused
- Plague is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, a zoonotic bacteria usually found in small mammals and their fleas
- People infected with Y. pestis often develop symptoms after an incubation period of one to seven days
- There are two main clinical forms of plague infection: bubonic and pneumonic. Bubonic plague is the most common form and is characterized by painful swollen lymph nodes or ‘buboes’
- Plague is transmitted between animals and humans by the bite of infected fleas, direct contact with infected tissues, and inhalation of infected respiratory droplets
11. More interaction, info on India Data Management Office sought
Subject: Science and Technology
Section: Awareness in IT
Context: Stakeholders at a consultation on the Draft National Data Governance Framework Policy sought continued interaction, information on the functioning of the India Data Management Office.
National Data Governance Framework Policy (NDGFM)
- It was issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY)
- It give more emphasis on sharing of non-personal data for building a large repository of India-specific datasets and for use by researchers and start-ups
- A platform will be designed which will process requests and provide access to non-personal and/or anonymised datasets to Indian researchers and start-ups
- Under this, the Indian government will also build the India Datasets program, which will consist of non-personal and anonymised datasets from Government entities that have collected data from Indian citizens or those in India. Private entities will also be encouraged to share such data
Who will be responsible for the framework?
- India Data Management Office (IDMO) will be set up under the Digital India Corporation in MeitY, which will be responsible for the data framework by developing rules, standards and guidelines under the policy
- Departments and ministries will have data management units (DMU), headed by a designated official. This official will work closely with IDMO for ensuring implementation of policy
- State governments also would be encouraged to designate/appoint State-level data officers and IDMO will provide all assistance, including training in this regard
Where will the datasets be sourced from?
- Every government ministry/ department/ organisation will have to identify and classify available datasets
- Private companies can also create datasets and contribute to the India Datasets program. IDMO will prescribe rules and standards in this regard
How will the data be shared?
IDMO shall notify protocols for sharing of non-personal datasets while ensuring privacy, security and trust
IDMO will notify rules to provide data on priority/ exclusively to Indian/ India-based requesting entities
The proposed regulatory body will also judge the genuineness of the data and its validity
How can one access the data?
- IDMO will design and maintain the Datasets Access platform which will be responsible for granting access to databases
- All datasets in the India Datasets program can only be accessed through this and any other IDMO-designated and authorised platforms
- The policy proposed limits to data requests by giving IDMO the power to ascertain whether requesting entities be allowed access to full databases or combinations for their use cases
- IDMO will also develop a mechanism for inter-government data access. “All Government Ministries/ Departments shall create detailed, searchable data inventories, with clear metadata and data dictionaries for government-to-government data access
What are the checks and balances in place for data sharing and storage?
- The policy said that disclosure norms will be formulated for data collected/ stored/ shared and accessed over a certain threshold
- IDMO will also be responsible for defining the principles for ethical and fair use of data shared beyond the government ecosystem
- IDMO will institute a mechanism for citizens to request datasets, register grievances, and establish the responsibility of data management units (DMU) under IDMO to respond in a timely manner.
Personal data is any information that relates to an identified or identifiable living individual
Non-personal data is any set of data which does not contain personally identifiable information. This in essence means that no individual or living person can be identified by looking at such data
12. RBI’s easing of coop banks’ lending to housing is welcome
- The RBI has revised upward the limits by over 100 per cent for individual housing loan extended
- by Urban Co-operative Banks (UCBs).
- Along with this, the Rural Co-operative Banks (RCBs) will now be allowed to extend finance — up to 5
- per cent of their total assets — to commercial real estate or residential housing projects.
- The RBI’s move to boost credit to housing sector will not only ease credit flow but also safeguard banks
- against rising NPAs through the space for secured loans.
- Cooperative bank is an institution established on the cooperative basis and dealing in ordinary banking business.
- Like other banks, the cooperative banks are founded by collecting funds through shares, accept deposits and grant loans
- The history of Indian cooperative banking started with the passing of Cooperative Societies Act in 1904. The objective of this Act was to establish cooperative credit societies “to encourage thrift, self-help and cooperation among agriculturists, artisans and persons of limited means
- Co-operative banks in India are registered under the States Cooperative Societies Act.The Co-operative banks are also regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and governed by the Banking Regulations Act 1949 and Banking Laws (Co-operative Societies) Act, 1955
Structure of Cooperative Banks in India:
13. Sustainable Switch:‘Give us one set ofrules,’ plead firms
Section : External Sector
Context: companies and investors are complaining that there are far too many different sustainability rules and they are pleading with regulators to harmonise environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) standards.
What is the issue?
- Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and U.N.-backed campaigners seek to boost the minimum standards for companies pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
- Currently, three draft sets of disclosure rules are out for public consultation from the European Union, the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and a new G20-backed International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB).
What the companies and investors want?
- The We Mean Business coalition of 7,000 global companies wants regulators to unify their definitions, terminology and concepts .Investors and companies want a single set of mandatory disclosures to aid comparison between firms and keep down reporting costs
The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS):
- It is the primary global standard setter for the prudential regulation of banks and provides a forum for regular cooperation on banking supervisory matters
- Its 45 members comprise central banks and bank supervisors from 28 jurisdictions.
14. Under2 Coalition and EP 100
Section: International organization
- The Under2 Coalition brings together over 270 governments representing 1.75 billion people and 50% of the global economy
- Its members commit to keep global temperature rise well below 2 degree Celsius to reach 1.5 degree Celsius
- Climate Group is the Secretariat to the Under2 Coalition and works with governments to accelerate climate action through four work streams
- EP100 is a global initiative led by the international non-profit Climate Group, bringing together over 120 energy smart businesses committed to measuring and reporting on energy efficiency improvements