29 October, 2020
- Countering deep fakes, the most serious AI threat - (Science & technology)
- The challenges of walking the Indo-Pacific talk - (International relations)
- U.K. to partner for developing GIFT City, funding infra pipeline (Economy)
- Greenâ crackers to make full-fledged Delhi debut (Env)
- Rhino horn trade: 7 Kaziranga workers held (Env)
- Question for the day
UPSC Current Affairs: The challenges of walking the Indo-Pacific talk | Page 06
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – International Relation
Sub Theme: Geo-political strategy in Indo-Pacific | UPSC
Context: With the rise of China, India's Foreign policy seems to focusing on strategic and military considerations which is visible in its alliance with USA and renowned focus on Indi-Pacific and the Quadrilateral security dialogue. However there are differences in the understanding of the concepts of Indo - Pacific and the Quadrilateral grouping. In this background author has highlighted the hurdles in the India's strategy with regards to the Indo-Pacific and the Quad. So let us understand the issues faced by India and also what should be India's approach to clearly outline its interest in the Indo-Pacific and the Quad.
Differences in the concept
The Indo-Pacific is a grand politico-economic vision while the Quad is a forum for strategic and military consultations among India, the U.S., Australia and Japan.
Similarities in Indo-Pacific and the Quad
The Quad members are also major States in the Indo-Pacific region, and both the Quad and the Indo-Pacific constructs are focused on China.
They are also in some ways centred around India’s geographic location and its policies.
- The first is a politico-economic vision and the last is a military-strategic vision
- The Indo-Pacific provides a complex political and economic construct aimed challenging China Strategically.
- The Quad on the other hand is inherently more anti-China in character and intent.
- The Indo-Pacific has subtle anti-China undertones.
- However the Quad is more anti China. But The Quad’s ability to succeed would entirely depend on China — the more aggressive China gets, the more resolute the Quad countries would be in strengthening it.
Hurdles in India’s strategy
For a politico-economic construct such as the Indo-Pacific to survive, there must be strong economic partnerships and linkages among its members.
Merely focusing on strategic talk and possible military cooperation will not work.
India's economic engagement of the Indo-Pacific -
India's recent decision not to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the region’s flagship free trade arrangement, could potentially complicate the its future engagements in the region.
Economic realities that hindered India's engagement with the RCEP
- There is huge gap between India and China on trade with almost every Indo-Pacific country.
- This growing trade gap that India and China have with these countries will be a major determining factor in shaping the region’s strategic realities.
- Further India's decision not to sign on to the RCEP also needs to be viewed in the broader context of the Chinese institutional engagement of the region.
- India does not have FTAs with Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Bangladesh and the Maldives. It has FTAs with South Korea, the Association of South East Asian Nations, or ASEAN, Japan and Sri Lanka.
- In the case of China, it has FTAs with all these countries barring the U.S.
- It does not have an FTA with Bangladesh, while negotiations are on with Sri Lanka. Trilateral FTA negotiations are also going on between China, Japan and South Korea.
- This shows that economic compulsions will go a long way in shaping strategic realities for a variety of reasons including that trade with China is crucial for the economies of these States.
- Thus strategic talks need to be aligned with the economic realities for the success of the Indo-Pacific.
- Even on this front India lags behind China
- China is a major defence supplier to several of the region’s States including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand
- While India has minimal sales, defence dialogues and occasional joint military exercises in the region.
India’s role in the Indo-Pacific will remain limited if it does not prove to be a major economic partner to these States.
But given the economic slowdown in India today in the wake of COVID-19 (compared to the much better place that China is in) and the lack of political consensus in the country about regional economic agreements such as the RCEP, India’s ability to economically engage with the region remains limited.
On the military-strategic side too, India’s performance in the region is less than desirable.
Further it is said that the only way forward for India is a regional strategic alliance with the US. But given the hangover its Non alignment principles and Material constraints India will needs fresh mindset to do so.
UPSC Current Affairs:Countering deepfakes, the most serious AI threat Page | Page 06
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Fake News | Threat of AI | UPSC
First let us understand what deep fakes are?
- Deepfakes are fake videos or audio recordings that look and sound just like the real thing.
- While the act of faking content is not new, deepfakes leverage powerful techniques from machine learning and artificial intelligence to manipulate or generate visual and audio content with a high potential to deceive.
- The main machine learning methods used to create deepfakes are based on deep learning and involve training generative neural network architectures, such as autoencoders or generative adversarial networks (GANs)
What has aided the growth of deep fakes?
- Access to commodity cloud computing, algorithms, and abundant data has created a perfect storm to democratise media creation and manipulation.
Deepfakes are a new tool to spread computational propaganda and disinformation at scale and with speed.
- They make it possible to fabricate media —
- swap faces, lip-syncing, and puppeteer — mostly without consent and bring threat to psychology, security, political stability, and business disruption.
- Use against women:
- The very first use case of malicious use of a deepfake was seen in pornography, inflicting emotional, reputational, and in some cases, violence towards the individual.
- Pornographic deepfakes can threaten, intimidate, and inflict psychological harm and reduce women to sexual objects. Deepfake pornography exclusively targets women.
- Threat to internal security
- A deepfake could act as a powerful tool by a nation-state to undermine public safety and create uncertainty and chaos in the target country.
- It can be used by insurgent groups and terrorist organisations, to represent their adversaries as making inflammatory speeches or engaging in provocative actions to stir up anti-state sentiments among people.
- Undermining Democracy
- To undermine a discourse
- A deepfake can also aid in altering the democratic discourse and undermine trust in institutions and impair diplomacy. False information about institutions, public policy, and politicians powered by a deepfake can be exploited to spin the story and manipulate belief.
- Sabotaging image
- A deepfake of a political candidate can sabotage their image and reputation. A well-executed one, a few days before polling, of a political candidate spewing out racial epithets or indulging in an unethical act can damage their campaign. There may not be enough time to recover even after effective debunking. Voters can be confused and elections can be disrupted. A high-quality deepfake can inject compelling false information that can cast a shadow of illegitimacy over the voting process and election results.
SO what are the solutions
- Multi-stakeholder and multi-modal approach
- Collaborative actions and collective techniques across legislative regulations, platform policies, technology intervention, and media literacy can provide effective and ethical countermeasures to mitigate the threat of malicious deepfakes.
- Role of Media:
- Media literacy for consumers and journalists is the most effective tool to combat disinformation and deepfakes.
- Media literacy efforts must be enhanced to cultivate a discerning public.
- As consumers of media, we must have the ability to decipher, understand, translate, and use the information we encounter.
- Even a short intervention with media understanding, learning the motivations and context, can lessen the damage. Improving media literacy is a precursor to addressing the challenges presented by deepfakes.
- Creating regulations:
- Meaningful regulations with a collaborative discussion with the technology industry, civil society, and policymakers can facilitate disincentivising the creation and distribution of malicious deepfakes.
- We also need easy-to-use and accessible technology solutions to detect deepfakes, authenticate media, and amplify authoritative sources.
Deepfakes can create possibilities for all people irrespective of their limitations by augmenting their agency. However, as access to synthetic media technology increases, so does the risk of exploitation. Deepfakes can be used to damage reputations, fabricate evidence, defraud the public, and undermine trust in democratic institutions.
To counter the menace of deepfakes, we all must take the responsibility to be a critical consumer of media on the Internet, think and pause before we share on social media, and be part of the solution to this infodemic.
UPSC Current Affairs: U.K. to partner for developing GIFT City, funding infra pipeline| Page 14
UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper-II – International Relations
Sub Theme: Indo-U.K relationship | GIFT city | UPSC
Recently, India and UK recently concluded 10th round of UK-India Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD). Let us look at the some of important highlights of this dialogue.
Support to India's National Infrastructure Pipeline: UK and India have agreed to cooperate through a new Partnership on Infrastructure Financing and Policy to support National Infrastructure Pipeline.
National Infrastructure Pipeline
In his Independence Day speech, PM Modi had highlighted that Rs 100 lakh crore would be invested on infrastructure over the next 5 years including the social and economic infrastructure projects.
To achieve this objective, a Task Force was constituted to draw up the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) for each of the years from FY 2019-20 to FY 2024-25 with the approval of the Finance Minister. The Task force has now outlined the expenditure of around Rs 102 lakh crore over the next 5 years in order to realise $ 5 trillion economy. The funding of the National Infrastructure Pipeline will be jointly made by the Centre, states and the private sector in the proportion of 39:39:22 (39 % each by the centre and states and 22% by the private sector).
UK India Development Cooperation Fund (UKIDCF) - a Fund of Funds to be managed by the State Bank of India Group and serve as the financial and accounting platform for the UK Government’s future development capital investments in India.
What is Fund of Funds?
The Fund of Funds is a fund that makes indirect investment in various sectors such as Start-ups, Electronics Manufacturing Industries, MSMEs etc. For example, the Government has set up Fund of Funds for the Start-up companies. This fund is managed by SIDBI. This fund invests money in the various Alternate Investment Funds (AIF) registered with the SEBI for funding the start-up companies. These AIFs which are supported by Fund-of-funds are also referred to as “Daughter Funds”. Hence, in this case, the Fund-of-funds would be considered as Father Fund and the funds in which it fund-of-funds invest, they are considered as “daughter funds”
Similarly, the Government of India has also set up Electronics Development Fund as Fund-of-Funds for development of Electronics manufacturing Industries. This fund invests in SEBI registered Venture Capital funds, that in turn invest in equity of companies involved in the development of new technologies in the field of electronics.
UK-India strategic collaboration to accelerate the development of GIFT City (Gujarat International Finance Tec-City):
About GIFT City
The Section 18 of the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005 provides that the Central Government may approve the setting up of an International Financial Services Centre in a Special Economic Zone and may prescribe the requirements for setting up and operation of such Centre. The first International Financial Services Centre in India has been set up at GIFT City in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
An International Financial Services Centre enables bringing back the financial services and transactions that are currently carried out in offshore financial centres by Indian corporate entities and overseas branches of financial institutions to India by offering world class business and regulatory environment. It would also enable Indian corporates easier access to global financial markets.
Earlier, the banking, capital markets and insurance sectors in International Financial Services Centres were regulated by multiple regulators such as the Reserve Bank of India, the Securities and Exchange Board of India and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India.
Hence, in order to avoid this problem, the Parliament has passed International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill, 2019 to set up a unified regulatory authority in the form of International Financial services Centre Authority. This regulator would regulator all the financial products within the International Financial service centre.
UPSC Current Affairs: ‘Green’ crackers to make full-fledged Delhi debut | Page 01
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Green Crackers| Air Pollution | UPSC
- Delhi is set for its first full-fledged date with ‘green’ crackers this Deepavali amid growing sentiment against not deepening the air pollution crisis the Capital countenances every winter.
- A ban on fireworks was imposed in 2018 and in 2019 only ‘green’ crackers were allowed, but the permission had come too late for manufacturers to ensure their availability on time.
What are these Green crackers?
- The crackers have been named as safe water releaser (SWAS), safe minimal aluminium (SAFAL) and safe thermite cracker (STAR).
It has unique property of releasing water vapour and /or air as dust suppressant and diluent for gaseous emissions and matching performance in sound with conventional crackers.
Safe Water Releaser (SWAS):
- SWAS crackers eliminates usage of (KNO3) Potassium nitrate and Sulphur with consequent reduction in particulate matter (30-35%) SO2 and NOx.
- It has matching sound intensity with commercial crackers in the range of 105-110 dBA.
Safe thermite cracker (STAR).
- STAR eliminates usage of KNO3 and S with consequent reduction in particulate matter (35-40%), SO2 and NOx.
- It has matching sound intensity with commercial crackers in the range of 105-110 dBA.
Safe minimal aluminium (SAFAL)
- SAFAL has minimal usage of aluminium (only in flash powder for initiation)with consequent significant reduction in particulate matter(35-40 %) compared to commercial crackers.
- It has matching sound intensity with commercial crackers in the range of 110-115 dBA.