10 September , 2020

  • Blockchain technology in Indian Elections (Science & technology) (Important aspects of Blockchain technology)
  • Changing definition of farmer - (Economy) (Issues in the present definition of farmers)
  • Bt Cotton - (Environment)
  • Initiatives to boost domestic defense production (Science & Technology ) Prelims pointers
  • Digital divide - Indices (Economy)
  • PM SVANidhi (Social Issues)
  • Indo-Pacific Trilateral dialogue (International Relations)
  • Question for the day (Economy)

Prelims Quiz

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    Description

    UPSC Current Affairs:  Digital divide shadows post-pandemic education – Pg 6

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Polity & Governance; Science & Technology | Mains: GS Paper II, GS Paper III

    Sub Theme: Blockchain Technology | Use of Technology in Elections |Concerns in using blockchain technology for elections| UPSC      

    With the idea of further digitizing electoral infrastructure in India, Election Commission of India held an online conference in collaboration with the Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency and IIT-Madras to explore the possibility of using blockchain technology for the purpose of enabling remote elections. The article has highlighted certain concerns on using blockchain technology in our general elections to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies.

    About Blockchain Technology

    • Blockchain technology allows information to be distributed digitally without being copied. The technology does not operate through any central authority and is managed by a cluster of computers not owned by any single entity. Since the data is shared, it is open and transparent for everyone to see.
    • Blockchain ledgers have traditionally been used as supporting structures for cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum and even digital currency LIBRA of Facebook.
    • However, use of blockchain technologies in non-cryptocurrencies applications too has seen a steady rise, with some solutions allowing individuals and companies to draft legally-binding “smart contracts,” enabling detailed monitoring of supply chain networks including projects focused on enabling remote voting and elections.

    Key Concerns on using Blockchain Technology for Elections in India 

    • Open to Hack - Security experts warn any internet-based election system is wide open to attack and manipulation regardless of the underlying infrastructure. The issues around online voting include server penetration attacks, client-device malware, denial-of-service attacks and other disruptions, all associated with infecting voters' computers with malware or infecting the computers in the elections office that handle and count ballots.
    • Misuse by Foreign Intelligence & Corporates - Online technology for voting is open to manipulation and attack by foreign intelligence and corporates as transmission of votes through the internet conduit is subject to tampering.
    • Voting Preference and Pattern may become Public - Another problem in using blockchain technology for using is that it assumes before-hand that there is no malware or virus in the voter’s computer or mobile. Another problem is the possibility of everyone’s vote becoming public if the system is hacked and this will against the democratic principle of “Secret Ballot” used in all elections across the globe including India.
    • Chance of Impersonation of Voters - Blockchain solutions rely heavily on the proper implementation of cryptographic protocols. If any shortcomings exist in an implementation, it may unmask the identity and voting preferences of electors or worse it may allow an individual to cast a vote as someone else. So even though the person may have voted for Party Z, the vote would eventually go to Party Y.
    • Report From Russian Election - Case Study - In Russia, during the vote on the recent controversial constitutional amendment ushered in by Russian President Vladimir Putin, citizens were able to cast their vote online. While the voting process was still under way, Russian media outlet reported that it was possible to access and decrypt the votes stored on the blockchain due to a flaw in cryptographic implementation, which could have been used to unmask the votes cast by electors. 
    • Physical Presence at Voting Booth for Biometric Authentication may cloned - The requirement of physical presence and biometric authentication may not necessarily make a remote voting system invulnerable to attacks either. An attacker may be able to clone the biometric attributes required for authenticating as another individual and cast a vote on their behalf. Physical implants or software backdoors placed on an individual system could allow attackers to collect and deduce voting choices of individuals.
    • System prone to targeted Denial-of-Service attacks – Such attacks might increase where an attacker would be in a position to block traffic from the system, effectively preventing, or at the very least delaying the registration of votes.
    • Disenfranchising of select voters out of design or flaw – Digitised voting systems may also stand to exclude and disenfranchise certain individuals or community or tribe either due to flaws in interdependent platforms, flaws in system design, as well as general failures caused by external factors or by purposefully designed failures to exclude them from voting.

    Use of Technology no guarantee of safety in Elections

    • There is a general consensus among Indians that if any project uses technology then it must work. If the concerns regarding use of blockchain technology for voting is not addressed then elections in India and democracy in particular stands compromised.
    • It is important to emphasise that further digitisation in itself does not make processes more robust. Any solution to electoral problems must be software independent and fault tolerable, where failure or tampering of one mechanism or several mechanisms would not affect the integrity or transparency of the overall electoral process. 

    Conclusion

    • Even if the Election Commission is able to design a system which is proven to be satisfactorily secure in the face of attacks, where tampering could be detected, and where the integrity of the ballot is verifiable by electors, use of such a system could perhaps only be justified for lower level elections, and not for something as significant and politically binding as the general election.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Redefining a Farmer – Article – Pg 7

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy | Mains: GS Paper-III

    Sub Theme: Farmers| Problems of farmers in India | M.S. Swaminathan Committee |UPSC

    This article highlights that there seems to be ambiguity as to who constitutes farmers in India. The Central Government has taken a narrow perspective with respect to the definition of the farmers.  Such a narrow outlook and ambiguity on the definition of farmers can have serious implications for the design of various agricultural schemes.     

    Centre's Definition of Farmer

    There are multiple definitions for a ‘farmer’ in official data published by the Government of India. The population census defines ‘cultivators’ as a person engaged in cultivation of land either ‘owned’ or held in kind or share.

    The 59th round of the Situation Assessment Survey (SAS) of farmers, conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), also stresses on ‘possession of land’ either owned or leased or otherwise possessed for defining ‘farmers’.

    Problems with the Definition of Farmers

    As can be seen from above definition, only those persons who either own land or lease land through a formal mechanism are being entitled to be recognised as farmers. This is considered to be exclusionary, discriminatory and unfair on account of multiple reasons:

    1. Large number of farmers lease land informally, yet they are not recognised as farmers.
    2. Does not include other categories of people involved in agriculture such as Sharecroppers, agricultural labourers etc.
    3. Growing feminisation of Indian agriculture due to entry of women into agriculture. However, very rarely, land is registered in their names and hence discriminatory.
    4. Land-owning farmers get major benefits from government in the form of cash transfers under PM-KISAN Scheme, subsidies, loan waivers, institutional credit etc. However, such support is not extended to tenants and sharecroppers, who bear the maximum risk in agricultural sector. The distress caused to the tenant farmers can be seen from the fact that they account for majority of the farmer suicides.

    Apart from these problems, there is ambiguity in the Government itself as to who constitutes the farmer. Recently, agriculture Minister was asked a question in the Parliament as to what the definition of farmer is and how many farmers are there in India according to that definition. However, the agriculture Minister failed to answer this question satisfactorily.

    Problems with Definition

    Such a narrow and exclusionary definition of farmers can have negative implications on the design of various agricultural schemes. For example, the various schemes provide benefit only to the land-owning farmers based upon the narrow definition of farmers.

    For instance, the PM-KISAN scheme provides income support only to the land-owning families. Thus, such a narrow definition fails to include the agricultural labourers, tenants, sharecroppers, women etc. as beneficiaries under the schemes.

    This comes quite important since according to the census 2011, there are 11.8 cultivators while there are around 14 crore agricultural workers.

     What should be done?

    • The National Commission on Farmers headed by M.S. Swaminathan has given a clear, unambiguous and comprehensive definition of farmer in India. Under this policy, almost everyone involved in agricultural related activity is considered as farmer. This includes - Operational Land holders, Cultivators, Agricultural Labourers, Sharecroppers, Tenants, Non-corporate planters, plantation labourers, people involved in allied activities such as livestock rearing, sericulture, agroforestry etc. It also includes the tribal families engaged in shifting cultivation and collection of minor forest produce.
    • There is a need for a broad-based identification of farmers on the lines of the definition recommended by M.S. Swaminathan Committee. Such a broad-based definition has to be in turn integrated into the design of our agricultural policies and schemes.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: The demonization of dissent - Page 7

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GSII, Polity and Governance

    Sub theme: History of Cotton in India | Bt Cotton | Variety of Cotton cultivated till 20th Century | Hybrid Varieties | UPSC         

    A lot of agricultural scientists have proposed the GM/Bt Technology as panacea for all the problems in agro sector.

    What is the history of Cotton in India?

    • Cotton has been woven and used in India for thousands of years.
    • Cotton fabric from around 3,000 BCE has been excavated from the ruins of Mohenjo-daro, and archaeological findings in Mehrgarh, Pakistan, show that cotton was used in the subcontinent as far back as 5,000 BCE. (See Image)
    • Indian cotton fabrics dominated the world trade during the succeeding millennia and were exported to many places, including Greece, Rome, Persia, Egypt, Assyria and parts of Asia.

    what is Bt Cotton?

    • Genetically modified (GM) cotton, the plant containing the pesticide gene from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), has been grown in India for about twenty years.
    • This pesticide, now produced in each Bt plant cell, ought to protect the plant from bollworm, thereby increasing yields and reducing insecticide spraying on the cotton plant. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, from 2005, adoption of Bt cotton rose to 81% in 2007, and up to 93% in 2011.

    So what was the variety of the cotton which was cultivated till 20th century?

    • Much of the cotton cultivated until the 20th century was of the indigenous ‘desi’ variety, Gossypium arboreum.

    When did the hybrid varieties came into Indian scene?

    • From the 1990s, hybrid varieties of G. hirsutum were promoted.

    So what are the issues with these hybrid varieties?

    • These hybrids cannot resist a variety of local pests and require more fertilizers and pesticides.
    • Cotton suffers from plenty of infestation from moth pests (Lepidopteran) such as the Pink Bollworm (PBW) and sap-sucking (Hemipteran) pests such as aphids and mealy bugs.
    • With increasing pressure to buy hybrid seeds, the indigenous varieties have lost out over the years.
    • But recently, there has been some resurgence of interest.

    Why is there a resurgence of interest in indigenous varieties?

    • The increasing use of synthetic pyrethroids (group of man-made pesticides) to control pests and the rising acreage under the American long-duration cotton led to the emergence of resistant pests.
    • Resistant Pink and even American Bollworm (ABW), a minor pest in the past, began increasing, leading to a growing use of a variety of pesticides.

    What has this led to?

    • Rising debts and reducing yields, coupled with increasing insect resistance, worsened the plight of cotton farmers. 

    It was in this setting that Bt cotton was introduced in India in 2002.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Defence Exports increased 700% in 3 years: Rawat - Pg 11

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy |Mains: GS III: Economy, Security

    Sub theme: Increase in Defence Exports | Current Status of Defence Production in India | Increase in domestic production of arms | Policy for indigenisation of components and spares used in Defence Platforms | Mission Raksha Gyan Shakti |Defence Offsets | UPSC

    • In the past three years, the country witnessed a “staggering” 700% growth in defence exports — from Rs. 1,521 crore in 2016-17 to ₹10,745 crore in 2018-19, an all-time high and 19th in the list of defence exporters in 2019, according to Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat.
    • Also, With the aim to achieve a manufacturing turnover of $25 bn or ₹1,75,000 crore, including exports of $5 bn in aerospace and defence goods and services by 2025, in August, the Defence Ministry issued a draft ‘Defence Production & Export Promotion Policy 2020’.

    This becomes very important from the perspective of UPSC prelims as well as the GSIII as the syllabus contains the following lines:

    What is the current status of the defence production in our country?

    • India is the third largest spender on defence around the world.
    • We are the only net importer in the category and account for 9.2% of global arms imports.

    So in this regard let us take a comprehensive look at the overall steps taken by the government to boost the defence manufacturing.

    Governments steps to increase the domestic production of arms:

    • Specific incentives were introduced under the foreign trade policy.
      • The Ministry of External Affairs has facilitated a Line of Credit for foreign countries to import defence products. “Where feasible, defence exports can also be financed through the Exim Bank,” he observed.
      • Defence attaches in Indian missions were empowered to promote defence exports, which would also strengthen defence diplomacy, he stated.
    • Defence Production in India is led by Ordnance Factories and Defence Public Sector undertakings which have played a huge role in making our country a defence manufacturing hub.
    • Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX):
      • iDEX is aimed at creation of an ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in Defence and Aerospace by engaging Industries including MSMEs, Start-ups, Individual Innovators, R&D institutes and Academia and provide them grants/funding and other support to carry out R&D which has potential for future adoption for Indian defence and aerospace needs.
    • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI):
      • FDI Policy has been revised and under the revised policy, FDI is allowed under automatic route upto 49% and beyond 49% through Government route wherever it is likely to result in access to modern technology or for other reasons to be recorded.
    • Government has notified a Policy for indigenisation of components and spares used in Defence Platforms in March, 2019 with the objective to create an industry ecosystem which is able to indigenize the imported components (including alloys & special materials) and sub-assemblies for defence equipment and platform manufactured in India.
    • Mission Raksha Gyan Shakti: The Ministry has instituted a new framework titled ‘Mission Raksha Gyan Shakti’ which aims to provide boost to the IPR culture in indigenous defence industry.
    • Technology Development Fund: Government has set up the Technology Development Fund (TDF) to encourage participation of public/private industries especially MSMEs, through provision of grants, so as to create an eco–system for enhancing cutting edge technology capability for defence applications
    • Buy (Indian-IDDM) in Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP-2016): A new category of procurement ‘Buy {Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)}’ has been introduced in DPP-2016 to promote indigenous design and development of defence equipment. It has been accorded top most priority for procurement of capital equipment. Besides this, preference has been accorded to ‘Buy (Indian)’, ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ & ‘Make’ categories of capital acquisition over ‘Buy (Global)’ & ‘Buy & Make (Global)’ categories.
    • ‘Make’ Procedure: The ‘Make’ Procedure has been simplified with provisions for funding of 90% of development cost by the Government to Indian industry and reserving projects not exceeding development cost of Rs.10 Crore (Government funded) and Rs.3 Crore (Industry funded) for MSMEs.
    • Defence Offsets: Offset guidelines have been made flexible by allowing change of Indian Offset Partners (IOPs) and offset components, even in signed contracts. Foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are now not required to indicate the details of IOPs and products at the time of signing of contracts. ‘Services’ as an avenue of offset have been re-instated

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Digital Disconnect – Editorial – Pg 06

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Social Issues |Mains: GS I – Indian Society, GS Paper II – Social Justice, GS Paper III – Science & Technology

    Sub theme: Household Social Consumption on Education in India | NSO Report | National Sample Survey | Digital Divide | UPSC   

    The full report of the NSO’s survey of ‘Household Social Consumption on Education in India’, for July 2017-June 2018, highlights the poor state of computer and Internet access in several States. The disparities are glaring among different economic strata as well. The digital divide exists even years after the broadband policy of 2004, and its effects are painfully evident during the pandemic as students struggle to log on to online classes.

    • Only in Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala did the survey find Internet access exceeding 50% for urban and rural households taken together.
    • Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand exceeded 40%.
    • Large States — Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka — had access below 20%.

    In current times net access is critical, considering that even where mobile phones and laptops are available — some States provide them under student welfare programmes — they cannot be meaningfully used in its absence. Many remote locations have reliability problems and power deficits, making it a challenge to keep gadgets operational even offline.

    Mapping the needs of each district based on the NSO data will help identify areas where children do need equipment and connectivity. Such efforts have been launched globally in the wake of COVID-19, some in partnership with the telecom sector to leverage its capacity for surveys and mapping. Some companies in India have made the valuable suggestion that their used desktop computers could be refurbished and donated, for which governments need to open a programme.

    Some important indices related to internet for prelims exam

    • In EIU's Inclusive Internet Index 2020 India ranked 46 globally.
    • India has been ranked 122 among 215 countries in terms of internet users in a report released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 2019.
    • India ranked 91st in World Economic Forum’s, Networked Readiness Index.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Govt. will ease problems of poor: PM – Pg 11

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy |Mains:, GS Paper III – Economy  

    Sub theme: PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi | Special Micro-Credit Facility for Street Vendors | UPSC     

    PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi - A Special Micro-Credit Facility for Street Vendors

    What is the Scheme?   

    This is a Central Sector Scheme to facilitate street vendors to access affordable working capital loan for resuming their livelihoods activities, after easing of lockdown.

    What is the rationale of the Scheme?

    The COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdowns have adversely impacted the livelihoods of street vendors. They usually work with a small capital base, which they might have consumed during the lockdown. Therefore, credit for working capital to street vendors will be helpful to resume their livelihoods.

    What are the objectives of the Scheme?

    (i) To facilitate working capital loan up to `10,000 at subsidized rate of interest;

    (ii) To incentivize regular repayment of loan; and

    (iii) To reward digital transactions.

    What are the salient features of the Scheme?

    (i) Initial working capital of up to `10,000/-

    (ii) Interest subsidy on timely/ early repayment @ 7%

    (iii) Monthly cash-back incentive on digital transactions

    (iv) Higher loan eligibility on timely repayment of the first loan.   

    Who is the target beneficiary for the Scheme?

    Street vendors/ hawkers vending in urban areas, as on or before March 24, 2020, including the vendors of surrounding peri-urban and rural areas.

    Who is a Street Vendor/hawker?

    Any person engaged in vending of articles, goods, wares, food items or merchandise of daily use or offering services to the public in a street, footpath, pavement etc., from a temporary built up structure or by moving from place to place. The goods supplied by them include vegetables, fruits, ready-to-eat street food, tea, pakodas, breads, eggs, textile, apparel, artisan products, books/ stationary etc. and the services include barber shops, cobblers, pan shops, laundry services etc.

    Which lending institutions will provide credit?

    Scheduled Commercial Banks, Regional Rural Banks, Small Finance Banks, Cooperative Banks, Non-Banking Financial Companies, Micro-Finance Institutions and SHG Banks. 8. What is the tenure of the Scheme? The Scheme shall be implemented up to March, 2022.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Indo-Pacific trilateral dialogue held – Pg 01

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Current Events of International Importance |Mains: GS Paper II – International Relations  

    Sub theme: 1st Senior Officials’ India-France-Australia Trilateral Dialogue | India-France-Australia |Trilateral Dialogue | Enhancing cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region | Cooperation on Marine Global Commons | UPSC    

    1st Senior Officials’ India-France-Australia Trilateral Dialogue

    • The first India-France-Australia Trilateral Dialogue was held virtually on 9 September 2020.
    • The focus of the dialogue was on enhancing cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region.
    • The three sides discussed economic and geostrategic challenges and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and domestic responses to COVID-19.
    • Cooperation on Marine Global Commons and potential areas for practical cooperation at the trilateral and regional level were also discussed, including through regional organisations such as ASEAN, IORA and the Indian Ocean Commission.
    • The three countries also had an exchange on the priorities, challenges and trends in regional and global multilateral institutions, including the best ways to strengthen and reform multilateralism.
    • The outcome oriented meeting was held with the objective of building on the strong bilateral relations that the three countries share with each other and synergising their respective strengths to ensure a peaceful, secure, prosperous and rules-based Indo-Pacific Region. The three sides agreed to hold the dialogue on an annual basis.
    Comments

    Yuvi 2 months ago

    Respected Rau'sIAS DNS Team,
                                                   Today's PDF format for daily revision notes  is perfect one as compared to previous one, please keep this format for all upcoming revision notes.
                                                  I hope you will consider my suggestion.
                                                  Thank you.


    Kshitish Mishra 2 months ago

    Kindly, produce the word file in the earlier format. It was the unique feature of your daily analysis, which was completely different from other institutes. 
    Especially, in the personal notes section it was easy to add some specific points or diagrams, which is missing in the new one... And, again the table format is always better than to write in a paragraph.

    Hope you consider and give the word doc in earlier format.