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03 May, 2020

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-I Jamini Roy Art and Culture
GS-II India is a candidate for a non-permanent seat in the UNSC
Sudan moves to criminalise Female Genital Mutilation International Relations
Curbs on large gatherings of people and World major protests & Moment International Relations
GS-III US FDA ALLOWS “Remdesivir” antiviral drug for severely ill CoVID 19 patients
National Mission for Clean Ganga organised IDEAthon Biodiversity & Environment
Chitra EmBed and Chitra EnMesh
eCovSens
NHC drug (beta-D-N4-hydroxycytidine)-Prodrug
Mobile power plants are taking to the high seas
PT Pointer ‘BHARATMARKET’ for retail traders Economic Issues
Lokpal member Justice A K Tripathi (Retd) dies of coronavirus Indian Polity
Forex reserves fall $113 mn to $479.45 bn Economic Issues
Important GS Topics 5G-Rajya Sabha Analysis
Lokpal and Lokayukta Governance
GS-I : Art and Culture
Jamini Roy

National Gallery of Modern Art pays tribute to pioneering artist Jamini Roy through virtual tour

Context

National Gallery of Modern Art pays tribute to the pioneering artist Jamini Roy on his 133rd Birth Anniversary year through virtual tour.

About Jamini Roy

He was honoured with the State award of Padma Bhushan in 1955. He was one of the most famous pupils of Abanindranath Tagore.

Jamini Roy was one of the earliest and most significant modernists of twentieth century Indian art.

From 1920 onwards his search for the essence of form led him to experiment with dramatically different visual style. His career spanning over nearly six decades had many significant turning points and his works collectively speak of the nature of his modernism and the prominent role he played in breaking away from the art practices of his time. Trained in the British academic style of painting in the early decades of the twentieth century, Jamini Roy became well-known as a skilful portraitist.

He received regular commissions after he graduated from the Government Art School in what is now Kolkata, in 1916. The first three decades of the twentieth century saw a sea-change in cultural expressions in Bengal.

The growing surge of the nationalist movement was prompting all kinds of experiments in literature and the visual arts. The Bengal School, founded by Abanindranath Tagore and Kala Bhavana in Santiniketan under Nandalal Bose rejected European naturalism and the use of oil as a medium and were exploring new ways of representation.

Jamini Roy, too, consciously rejected the style he had mastered during his academic training and from the early 1920s searched for forms that stirred the innermost recesses of his being. He sought inspiration from sources as diverse as East Asian calligraphy, terracotta temple friezes, objects from folk arts and crafts traditions and the like.

From the end 1920s, Jamini Roy rejected the European oil medium and  began to use the traditional pigments from vegetable and mineral  sources. The imagery was often drawn from village life.

Jamini Roy  invested in the portrayal of peasants, artisans, followers of  religious cults, village women and adivasis with immense dignity.  He represented in his paintings what they held sacred with references from folk tales and narratives that permeated the rural consciousness. In this particular painting titled 'Woman' the  artist has painted the figure of a woman against a red background  with thick, black contouring lines. The simplification of form suggests a sculptural quality, especially the structured drapery with an ornate border.

From 1924 onwards, Jamini Roy experimented with a new idiom as he was looking for ways to simplify form. During this time his images for the most part became either monochromatic bearing an austere  play of white, soft grey and black or the palette was limited to  the use of one or two colours.

With a masterly control of the brush, he created contours of the form with fluid, calligraphic lines. Roy, during this phase painted seated female forms, mother and child figures, bauls, leaping deer, crawling infant

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GS-II :
India is a candidate for a non-permanent seat in the UNSC

India is a candidate for a non-permanent seat in the UNSC

Part of: GS-II- UN General Assembly (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande has discussed options, including online voting, to conduct elections for five non-permanent members of the Security Council in June, as large in-person meetings at the world body stand postponed till at least end of June due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Important Points

  • The 193-member General Assembly is scheduled to hold elections in June for five non-permanent members of the Security Council, members of the Economic and Social Council, the president of the 75th session of the General Assembly and the vice presidents of the 75th session.
  • India is a candidate for a non-permanent seat in the UNSC elections this year and its victory is almost certain following the unanimous endorsement of its candidature by the 55-member Asia-Pacific grouping, including China and Pakistan.
  • Elections for the five non-permanent members of the 15-nation Council for the 2021-22 terms were scheduled for June 17.
  • Canada, Ireland and Norway are eying for two seats in the Western Europe and Other countries category, Mexico is the only candidate for the one Latin America and Caribbean seat and Kenya and Djibouti will contest the seat available for the African group.

Election criteria and procedure

Each year the General Assembly elects five non-permanent members (out of 10 in total) for a two-year term. The 10 non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis five for African and Asian States; one for Eastern European States; two for the Latin American and Caribbean States; and two for Western European and other States. The election is held by secret ballot.

The General Assembly is not holding meetings in person as UN staff and diplomats telecommute due to the pandemic. Resolutions are being adopted by the UN body through a silence procedure, under which if no member state raises any objections to the draft within a specified time period, the President of the General Assembly will circulate a letter confirming adoption of the text.

Past News

India has appointed T S Tirumurti as its Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN).

  • Permanent Mission to the United Nations
    • It is the diplomatic mission that every member state deputes to the UN.
    • It is headed by a Permanent Representative who is also referred to as the UN ambassador.
    • According to Article 1(7) of the Vienna Convention on the Representation of States in their Relations with International Organizations of a Universal Character, 1975 it is a mission of permanent character, representing the State, sent by a State member of an international organization to the organization.
      • Other important Vienna Conventions are the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963.
    • According to the UN General Assembly resolution 257(III) of 3rd December, 1948, permanent missions assist in the realization of the purposes and principles of the UN.
      • They keep the necessary liaison between the Member States and the Secretariat in periods between sessions of the different organs of the UN.
    • UN Permanent Representatives are assigned to the UN headquarters in New York City, and at other offices in Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi as well.
  • Indian Permanent Mission at the United Nations
    • There are currently eight Indians in senior leadership positions at the UN at the levels of Under Secretary General and Assistant Secretary General.
    • The first Indian delegates at the UN included statesman Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar and freedom fighters Hansa Mehta, Lakshmi N. Menon and Vijayalakshmi Pandit
      • Mehta and Pandit were among the 15 women members of the Indian Constituent Assembly.
    • India was among the select members of the UN that signed the United Nations Declaration at Washington on 1st January, 1942.
    • India also participated in the historic UN Conference of International Organization at San Francisco from 25th April to 26th June, 1945.
    • As a founding member of the United Nations, India strongly supports the purposes and principles of the UN and has made significant contributions to implementing the goals of the Charter, and the evolution of the UN’s specialized programmes and agencies.

Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar (1887-1976)

  • One of the prominent lawyers of his time and joined the Justice Party in 1917.
  • Took part in Joint Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms in India and the Round Table Conferences.
  • He was India’s delegate to the San Francisco Conference.
  • In 1946 he was elected the first President of the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
  • He also served as the chair of the executive boards of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO).

Hansa Mehta (1897-1995)

  • After studying Journalism and Sociology from England, she returned to India and served as the President of the Bhagini Samaj and played a crucial role during the campaign against the Simon Commission.
  • She was the first woman to be elected to the Bombay Legislative Council in 1931.
  • She represented India on the Nuclear Sub-Committee on the status of women in 1946.
  • As the Indian delegate on the UN Human Rights Commission (now known as the UN Human Rights Council) in 1947–48, she was responsible for changing the language Justice Party of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from “all men are created equal” to “all human beings”, highlighting the need for gender equality.

Lakshmi Menon (1899-1994)

  • She was one of the founder members of the All India Women’s Conference.
  • She was India’s delegate to the Third Committee in 1948 and argued forcefully in favour of non-discrimination based on sex and “the equal rights of men and women” in the in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • In 1949-1950, she headed the UN Section on the Status of Women and Children.

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit (1900-1990)

  • She led the Indian delegation to the UN (1946-48 and 1952-53).
  • In 1953, she became the first woman to be elected president of the UN General Assembly.
  • In 1978, she was appointed the Indian representative to the UN Human Rights Commission.
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GS-II : International Relations
Sudan moves to criminalise Female Genital Mutilation

Sudan moves to criminalise Female Genital Mutilation

Part of: GS-II- International issues (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

Female genital mutilation is a deeply-rooted practice in Sudan and other countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, where it is traditionally seen as a way of curbing female sexual desire in order to reinforce conservative behaviour.

Sudanese officials said they are working to criminalise the widespread practice of female genital mutilation after the transitional government approved a landmark draft law. Under the proposed amendment to the criminal code, anyone found guilty of performing the procedure would be sentenced up to three years in prison.

What UN report says?

A 2014 report by the U.N. children’s agency estimated that 87% of Sudanese women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 have been subjected to the procedure. The U.N. children’s agency also welcomed the efforts to outlaw the practice. This practice is not only a violation of every girl child’s rights; it is harmful and has serious consequences for a girl’s physical and mental health.

What it is?

Most undergo an extreme form known as infibulation, which involves the removal and repositioning of the labia to narrow the vaginal opening.

 

In context of India

FGM is practised by the Dawoodi Bohra, a sect of Shia Islam with one million members in India. In the community, FGM is performed on six- or seven-year-old girls in a form known as khatna or khafz involving the total or partial removal of the clitoral hood.

The spiritual leader of the Dawoodi Bohra, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, has stated that male and female circumcision (respectively khatna and khafz) are required as "acts of religious purity". The term khafd is also used to describe the practice. Other Bohra sects including the Sulemani Bohras and the Alavi Bohras As well as some Sunni communities in Kerala, are reported as practising FGM

 

Matter in Supreme Court

In May 2017 a public interest litigation (PIL) case was raised in India's Supreme Court. The case was filed by Sunita Tiwari, a lawyer based in Delhi, seeking a ban on FGM in India. The Supreme Court received the petition and sought responses from four states and four ministries of the central government. An advocate for the petition claimed the practice violated children's rights under Article 14 (Right to Equality) and Article 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution of India. Female genital mutilation is performed "illegally upon girls (between five years and before she attains puberty)" and is against the "UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights of which is India is a signatory", the plea said, adding the practice caused "permanent disfiguration to the body of a girl child".

While an advocate opposing the petition argued that khafz is an essential part of the community's religion, and their right to practise the religion is protected under Articles 25 and 26. On August 28, 2018, the then CJI Dipak Mishra referred this matter to a five-judge bench. However, a bench has not yet been constituted to hear the matter in the apex court.

CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD

The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention and opened it for signature on 20 November 1989 (resolution 44/25)

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child’ is an international statement of the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of children

Key highlights

The convention mentions the following rights of children 

Guiding principles: General requirements for all rights

  • Definition of the child: The convention mentions that everyone under 18 years of age has all the rights in this convention.
  • Application: The convention applies to everyone whatever their race, religion, abilities, whatever they think or say, and whatever type of family they come from.
  • Protection of rights: It also states that Every child has the right to life. Governments must take necessary steps to ensure that children survive and grow up well.
  • Respect for the views of the child: Children have the right to say what they think in all matters that may affect them and to have their opinion taken into account

Survival and Development rights: The basic rights to life and achieving one’s full potential 

  • Registration, name, nationality, care: Children have the right to a legally registered name and nationality. They also have the right to know and, as far as possible, to be cared for, by their parents
  • Separation from parents: Children should not be separated from their respective parents unless it is for their own good, for example, if a parent is abusing or neglecting a child. In the event of their parents getting separated, they have the right to stay in contact with both parents, unless this might harm them.
  • Refugee children: If children have come into the country as refugees,then it is important that they have the same rights as children born here. Also adequate steps are to be taken to make sure that these children are reunited with their families, wherever possible.
  • Child with disability: Every child with a disability has the right to live a decent life with dignity, independence and an active role in the community. They are entitled to special care and support to lead such a life.
  • Right to education: Every child has the right to an education. Primary education must be free. Secondary education must be available to every child.

Protection Rights: Keeping safe from harm

  • Protection from violence: Governments should ensure that children are properly cared for and protected from violence, abuse and neglect by their parents, or anyone else who looks after them.
  • Child labour: The Government should protect children from work that is dangerous, or that might harm your health or education
  • Detention: No child shall be tortured or suffer cruel treatment or punishment, while being detained for an offence. They can be arrested only as the last resort and that too for the shortest possible time and they are entitled to be in contact with their families during the detention period.

Participation rights: Having an active voice

  • Freedom of association:  Every child has the right to receive  and to share information, to meet together and to join groups and organisations as long as it does not restrict the rights of others.
  • Access to information from mass media: Children have the right to reliable information from the mass media. Television, radio and newspapers should provide information that they can understand, and should not promote materials that could harm them.
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GS-II : International Relations
Curbs on large gatherings of people and World major protests & Moment

Curbs on large gatherings of people and World major protests & Moment

Part of: GS-II- INTERNATIONAL Issue (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

In India
Protest movements in India against the implementation of the CAA and NRC appear to have been temporarily halted, due to corona outbreak but still many countries the protest seems to reappear.

 

Hong Kong protest 

The Umbrella Movement was a political movement that emerged during the Hong Kong democracy protests of 2014. Its name arose from the use of umbrellas as a tool for passive resistance to the Hong Kong Police’s use of pepper spray to disperse the crowd during a 79-day occupation of the city demanding more transparent elections, which was sparked by the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) of 31 August 2014 that prescribed a selective pre-screening of candidates for the 2017 election of Hong Kong's chief executive.

Almost all students in universities of Hong Kong were in echo of 2014 Hong Kong class boycott campaign, and fully supported the "Umbrella Movement". Many secondary schools established political reform concern groups, for supporting student protests and "Umbrella Movement". Hong Kong's protests took another turn in June against plans to allow extradition to mainland China. Critics feared this could undermine judicial independence and endanger dissidents.

Until 1997, Hong Kong was ruled by Britain as a colony but then returned to China. Under the "one country, two systems" arrangement, it has some autonomy, and its people more rights. The bill was withdrawn in September but demonstrations continue and now demand full democracy and an inquiry into police actions.

  • Some protesters have adopted the motto: "Five demands, not one less" These are:
  • For the protests not to be characterised as a "riot"
  • Amnesty for arrested protesters
  • An independent inquiry into alleged police brutality
  • Implementation of complete universal suffrage
  • The fifth demand, the withdrawal of the bill, has already been met.

Protests supporting the Hong Kong movement have spread across the globe, with rallies taking place in the UK, France, US, Canada and Australia.

 

LEBANON

Lebanon has been hit by civil protests since October 2019 that show no signs of stopping more than six months later.

What started as hundreds of people taking to the streets of Lebanon to protest plans for new taxes during the 2020 budget season on everything from tobacco to social media platforms like WhatsApp, escalated and expanded to wide-scale protests against an unstable economy, sectarian rule, unemployment and corruption.
Lebanon’s financial crisis resulted in a sovereign debt default and also affected its currency’s value. Protest camps were ordered to be removed by the country’s security forces and curfews were imposed on public gatherings. Lebanon’s government is contemplating extending the lockdown at least until May 10 with proposals to potentially restore certain parts of the economy.

Since April 21, protests across the country, including in places like Beirut, Tripoli, Sidon, Nabatieh, Akkar, Bekaa Valley (PT) have become more volatile, resulting in deaths and injuries of civilians as well as soldiers.


FRANCE
The yellow-vest movement that started in France in October 2018, followed by mass demonstrations a month later, have shown no signs of stopping. This movement also started as a protest against high taxes that would further burden the middle class and the poor and against income inequality. France has been under lockdown since March 17 to curb the spread of Covid-19 and amid the global health crisis.

 

COLOMBIA

Protests have been ongoing in Colombia since November 2019 against a range of proposed economic and political reforms. While they stopped in January 2020, following the outbreak of coronavirus, they appear to have started once again. Since March 24, Colombia has been under lockdown, first starting at city levels and expanding across the country.

Following the announcement of the lockdown, many daily-wage workers gathered at the Plaza Bolivar, the main square in the capital of Bogotá and protested the sudden imposition of these government orders fearing that they may not be able to pay rent or purchase food due to the loss of wages.

UNITED STATES

With the US recording the highest rates of coronavirus infections around the world, and witnessing those numbers rising each day, it now has an additional challenge with which it needs to contend. While most of the country has still been ordered to stay at home, some states have been easing restrictions by allowing the opening of parks, beaches and some businesses.

However, in several states around the country, protestors have taken to the streets and have engaged in blocking streets using cars and car horns in their protest.

The protestors say these restrictions are preventing them from leading their daily lives and are impacting businesses. Some have even come carrying firearms, claiming infringement of rights and civil liberties.

Reports suggest unemployment has also spiked across the country. Some other protestors have said they are desperate to start earning a regular salary. In April, Trump appeared to endorse these protests on Twitter by posting messages with calls to “liberate” different states like Minnesota, Virginia, Michigan etc. that had placed curbs to control coronavirus.

Across political lines, the response towards these protests has also been divided. Some public health experts and state governors and other political leaders have stated that social distancing is necessary for the US given the high infection rates. Two weeks ago, Facebook announced that it would remove events listings for such protest gatherings if they violate state laws that have instituted bans against them.

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GS-III :
US FDA ALLOWS “Remdesivir” antiviral drug for severely ill CoVID 19 patients

US FDA ALLOWS “Remdesivir” antiviral drug for severely ill CoVID 19 patients

Part of: GS-III- S&T (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

In United States, the Food and Drug regulatory body FDA has allowed emergency use of the antiviral drug, Remdesivir for treatment of severely ill COVID19 patients. A study by Gilead Sciences in US has shown that Remdesivir shortens the recovery time by 31 percent or about four days on average, for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

According to reports, a clinical trial of Remdedivir was conducted on 1,063 patients. Those given the drug were able to leave the hospital in 11 days on average versus 15 days for the comparison group. US National Institutes of Health Director, Anthony Fauci said the drug would become a new standard of care for severely ill COVID-19 patients like those in this study.

About USFDA

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or USFDA) is a federal agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments.

  • The FDA is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the control and supervision of food safety, tobacco products, dietary supplements, prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs (medications), vaccines, biopharmaceuticals, blood transfusions, medical devices, electromagnetic radiation emitting devices (ERED), cosmetics, animal foods & feed and veterinary products.
  • The FDA was empowered by the United States Congress to enforce the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which serves as the primary focus for the Agency;
  • the FDA also enforces other laws, notably Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act and associated regulations, many of which are not directly related to food or drugs.
  • These include regulating lasers, cellular phones, condoms and control of disease on products ranging from certain household pets to sperm donation for assisted reproduction.

The FDA is led by the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Commissioner reports to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

What is the FDA equivalent in India?

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization is the Indian regulatory body for pharmaceuticals and medical devices, being the equivalent of the FDA in the US.

CDSCO

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India.

Functions: Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, CDSCO is responsible for approval of New Drugs, Conduct of Clinical Trials, laying down the standards for Drugs, control over the quality of imported Drugs in the country and coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organizations by providing expert advice with a view to bring about the uniformity in the enforcement of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

CDSCO along with state regulators, is jointly responsible for grant of licenses of certain specialized categories of critical Drugs such as blood and blood products, I. V. Fluids, Vaccine and Sera.

 

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GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment
National Mission for Clean Ganga organised IDEAthon

Context:

The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) under the Ministry of Jal Shakti and National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) organized an IDEAthon on “The future of River Management’ to explore how the COVID-19 crisis can shape River Management strategies for the future.

Dealing with the COVID-19 crisis has been a challenge for most countries across the globe which has witnessed some sort of lockdown in most of the places. While the general narrative around this crisis has been that of anxiety and concern, the crisis has also thrown up some positive developments.
Rivers have become cleaner. The air has become fresher. There has been a significant drop in GHG emissions.

Purely from a river management point of view, in India there has been a noticeable improvement in the water quality of the Ganga and Yamuna in the last few weeks. During the last year or so, the Gangetic Dolphin, an indicator species, has been showing improvements with sightings at several stretches of the river. The sighting of this is more frequent during lockdown in Ganga and its tributaries. Venice’s (in) famously polluted canals have become clearer as tourists stay away. For the first time in recent history, dolphins are back in the waterways of Italy as navigation has stopped.

National Mission for Clean Ganga

National Mission for Clean Ganga(NMCG) was registered as a society on 12th August 2011 under the Societies Registration Act 1860.It acted as implementation arm of National Ganga River Basin Authority(NGRBA) which was constituted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA),1986. NGRBA has since been dissolved with effect from the 7th October 2016.

The Act envisages five tier structure at national, state and district level to take measures for prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution in river Ganga and to ensure continuous adequate flow of water so as to rejuvenate the river Ganga as below; 
1. National Ganga Council under chairmanship of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India. 
2. Empowered Task Force (ETF) on river Ganga under chairmanship of Hon’ble Union       Minister of Jal Shakti (Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation). 
3. National Mission for Clean Ganga(NMCG). 
4. State Ganga Committees and 
5. District Ganga Committees in every specified district abutting river Ganga and its tributaries in the states.
 

 NMCG has a two tier management structure and comprises of Governing Council and Executive Committee. Both of them are headed by Director General, NMCG. Executive Committee has been authorized to accord approval for all projects up to Rs.1000 crore. Similar to structure at national level, State Programme Management Groups (SPMGs) acts as implementing arm of State Ganga Committees. Thus the newly created structure attempts to bring all stakeholders on one platform to take a holistic approach towards the task of Ganga cleaning and rejuvenation. 
The Director General(DG) of NMCG is a Additional Secretary in Government of India. For effective implementation of the projects under the overall supervision of NMCG, the State Level Program Management Groups (SPMGs) are, also headed by senior officers of the concerned States.

Steps taken to Prevent Ganga Pollution

  • Ganga Action Plan: It was the first River Action Plan that was taken up by the Ministry of Environment & Forests in 1985, to improve the water quality by the interception, diversion, and treatment of domestic sewage. It also aimed to prevent toxic and industrial chemical wastes (from identified polluting units) from entering the river.
    • National River Conservation Plan was an extension to the Ganga Action Plan, so as to cover all the major rivers of the country.
  • ‘National River Ganga Basin Authority (NRGBA)’ was formed by the Central Government of India in the year 2009 under Section-3 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986. It is chaired by the Prime Minister of India.
  • In 2010, ‘Government clean-up campaign’ was started to ensure that by 2020 no untreated municipal sewage or industrial runoff enters river.
  • In 2014, ‘Namami Gange Programme’ was launched as an Integrated Conservation Mission, to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation, and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.
    • The program is being implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organization viz., State Program Management Groups (SPMGs).
    • It is the flagship programme of the Union Government with a budget outlay of Rs. 20,000 crore.
    • The main pillars of the programme are:
  1. Sewerage Treatment Infrastructure & Industrial Effluent Monitoring,
  2. River-Front Development & River-Surface Cleaning,
  3. Bio-Diversity & Afforestation,
  4. Public Awareness.
  • Ganga Manthan- It was a national conference that was held in 2014 to discuss issues and possible solutions for cleaning the river. The event was organized by the National Mission for Clean Ganga.
  • In 2014, Clean Ganga Fund was also formed for cleaning up of the Ganga, setting up of waste treatment plants, conservation of biotic diversity of the river, and development of public amenities (activities such as Ghat redevelopment, and Research and Development and innovative projects). This fund will also be used to finance National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG).
  • In 2017, the National Green Tribunal banned the disposal of any waste in the Ganga.

 

About IDEAthon

Fight Corona IDEAthon, a 2-day online ideathon, is an initiative jointly organised by MHRD Innovation Cell, AICTE, MEITY Startup Hub, InnovatioCuris and other institutions of global and national prominence offering support in terms of Technology, Knowledge, Outreach, etc., with Forge Accelerator as the Partner incubator, in the endeavour to scout for accessible and affordable technological solutions that can contain the rapid spread of infection, ease the mounting pressure and ensure a quick return to normalcy.

Challenges and problem statements have been sought from healthcare professionals, government officials and other stakeholders working on the ground and are curated under 8 different categories such as - Personal Hygiene & Protection, Awareness, Preparedness & Responsible Behavior, Medical Systems - Diagnostic & Therapeutic, Screening, etc.

During the 2-day IDEAthon, Startups and innovators shall be guided by Domain experts, Healthcare providers and professionals, Innovation experts, etc.

Online webinars, masterclasses and live one-one mentoring sessions are organized to support innovators with a focus to guide in technical design, innovation acceleration and rapid development of their prototypes

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GS-III :
Chitra EmBed and Chitra EnMesh

Context:

Technologists at the Sree Chitra Triunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology, Govt of India, have developed two types of nasal and oral swabs and viral transport medium for COVID-19 testing.

2 types of nasal and oral swabs

  1. Chitra EmBed flocked nylon swabs
  2. Chitra EnMesh, polymeric foam-tipped, lint-free swabs with flexible plastic handles

They have good recovery of viral RNA collected using these swabs and medium. The swabs will be available as sterile, ready-to-use devices.

The swabs are designed for efficiency and comfort in the working environment and help in improved specimen collection with minimum discomfort to patients. Their safe and convenient breakpoint ensures minimal contact of the health worker with the sample during packing.

Viral transport medium

The second innovation, Chitra Viral Transport Medium, is specifically designed to retain the virus in its active form during its transportation from the collection point to the laboratory. Currently, kits containing 50 (3ml/vial) viral transport medium with 50 swabs cost is upwards of Rs 12000/.

Currently, Nasal and throat specimens collected with specially designed swabs are used for the detection of SARS-COV2 by viral gene amplification method, which is necessary for the confirmation of COVID 19.

Proper and adequate specimen collection and its transport in a suitable liquid medium are critical for ensuring good quality and quantity of viral RNA from the sample for testing, as these influence the accuracy of the test.

Centre for disease control and prevention (CDC),the USA, recommends the use of synthetic fibre swabs with plastic shafts, preferably flocked swabs when available.

These two swabs developed with locally available material can reduce import dependency of the materials currently used and can meet the huge demand for them at much lower costs.

What is a nasal swab test?

A nasal (or nasopharyngeal) swab is used to diagnose upper respiratory tract infections, such as whooping cough and COVID-19. It is a quick test that may feel a little uncomfortable but is not painful.

In this test, secretions from the back of your nose and upper throat are collected using a swab. Sometimes, a suction device may be used to gently remove the secretions. This is known as a nasal (or nasopharyngeal) aspirate.

The secretions are sent to a laboratory where they are grown. This makes it easier to identify which viruses, bacteria or fungi are present. The results are sent back to your doctor who will use them to help diagnose what germs could be causing your symptoms.

How is a nasal swab done?

To do a nasal swab, a small, soft-tipped swab will be inserted into one or both of your nostrils and twirled a few times until it is covered in secretions. Only a single swab is taken for COVID-19 testing.

The swab will be inserted quite a way in to get to the area that will give the best result. This may be a little uncomfortable but should not be painful.

Note that although a nasal swab is the preferred option for COVID-19 diagnosis, sometimes a throat swab is used.

What is gene amplification ?

An increase in the number of copies of a gene. There may also be an increase in the RNA and protein made from that gene. Gene amplification is common in cancer cells, and some amplified genes may cause cancer cells to grow or become resistant to anticancer drugs. Genes may also be amplified in the laboratory for research purposes.

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GS-III :
eCovSens

NIAB develops portable coronavirus detection kit

Introduction

National Institute of Animal Biotechnology (NIAB), Hyderabad, have developed a biosensor that can detect the novel coronavirus in saliva samples.

Biosensors have been currently used across the world to detect toxins, narcotic drugs, and are also considered as a reliable tool to detect infectious diseases.

eCovSens

The new portable device named eCovSens, can be used to detect the presence of novel coronavirus antigens in human saliva within 30 seconds using just 20 microlitres of the sample.

How eCovSens works?

The in-house built biosensor consists of a carbon electrode and the coronavirus antibody. The antibody is capable of binding with the spike protein found on the outer layer of the virus. An electrical signal is generated when the antigen and antibody binds

Electrical components in the device further amplify this signal, process it, convert it to digital readings on an LCD display.

The device can also be connected to a computer or cellphone via Bluetooth and studied. The signal’s intensity was found to be proportional to the concentration of the antigen in the sample.

Battery-operated (Advantages)

1.The device can also be battery-operated as it uses very low voltage of 1.3V to 3V.

2.The team also compared eCovSens to a regular potentiostat and found the new device to be ultrasensitive and quicker.

3.The device is portable and can be taken to the bedside of the patient too.

4.It requires only a very small amount of saliva.

5.The device is stable and when built in bulk can drastically bring down the cost of testing. The validation studies using saliva samples from coronavirus patients are yet to be done.

Other viral antigens

Cross-reactivity studies were done to check if the antibody in the device binds with any other viral antigen. No electric current was generated when tested with antigens of the Avian influenza virus. Hence it can be used to test only COVID-19 strains

About NIAB (National Institute of Animal Biotechnology)

NIAB is an autonomous institution under Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology.

NIAB is aimed to harness novel and emerging biotechnologies and take up research in the cutting edge areas for improving animal health and productivity. The Institute's focus of research will be on Animal Genetics and Genomics, Transgenic Technology, Reproductive Biotechnology, Infectious Diseases, Bioinformatics and Nutrition Enrichment.

The institute aims at translational research leading to the development of novel vaccines, diagnostics and improved therapeutic molecules for farm animals. The Institute plans to promote bio entrepreneurship by providing support environment for commercial tenants involved in the development of farm animal based products

Mission: Development of sustainable and  globally competitive livestock industry through innovative technology.

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GS-III :
NHC drug (beta-D-N4-hydroxycytidine)-Prodrug

NHC drug (beta-D-N4-hydroxycytidine)

Introduction

Researchers have found that a ribonucleoside analogue (beta-D-N4-hydroxycytidine or NHC) that has previously shown to be effective against influenza and Ebola is also potent against coronaviruses, including the novel coronavirus that is currently causing the pandemic.

NHC Drug

The drug was found to be effective in both cell lines and primary human airway epithelial cultures against SARS, MERS and SARS-CoV-2. It was also effective against three closely-related bat coronaviruses that were capable of replicating in human cells without undergoing any adaptation, suggesting potential direct transmission from bats to humans.

The NHC drug is highly active against all three coronaviruses — 2002 SARS, MERS and the novel coronavirus. While it was not toxic to human cells.

The antiviral activity of NHC arises from increased mutation rate in viral genomic RNA. In the case of MERS, treatment with 1 microMolar of NHC resulted in three-fold increase in error rate and 138-fold decrease in virus titer. When the amount of NHC used was increased to 10 microMolar, the error rate increased sixfold and virus titer reduction increased 26,000-fold.

 

Virus titer

Viral load, also known as viral burden, viral titre or viral titer, is a numerical expression of the quantity of virus in a given volume a body fluid, usually blood plasma.

 

 

Prodrug tested

 

Prodrug

A prodrug is a medication or compound that, after administration, is metabolized (i.e., converted within the body) into a pharmacologically active drug

 

 

NHC is a prodrug, which gets converted into a drug after getting administered into a body based on the mutation of the virus RNA.

The prodrug was tested in vitro using the 2002 SARS coronavirus. Lung haemorrhage was significantly reduced and there was a dose-dependent reduction in lung titer of SARS coronavirus. They found the prodrug given as a prophylactic was “robustly antiviral” and was able to prevent SARS coronavirus replication and disease.

Data demonstrate that NHC prodrug robustly reduces MERS-CoV infectious titers, viral RNA, and pathogenesis under both prophylactic and early therapeutic conditions.

One drawback is that this prodrug has to be used in the initial stages og the infections (administration of prodrug approx. 12hours from MERS infection helped the drug to control the viral load).

Way Ahead

Data support the continued development of NHC prodrug as a potent broad-spectrum antiviral that could be useful in treating contemporary, newly emerged and emerging CoV infections of the future

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GS-III :
Mobile power plants are taking to the high seas

Mobile power plants are taking to the high seas

Part of: GS-III- S&T (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

As economic lockdowns complicate efforts to bring electricity to every corner of the planet, one company is putting generation units on ships that can sit offshore and plug into local grids at short notice. Karpowership is busy marketing floating power plants across the developing world, where governments are seeking extra voltage to power hospitals and other facilities to keep the lights on during the coronavirus pandemic.

Benefits

  • Vessels can hook into an onshore grid quickly, sidestepping the red-tape and construction issues involved with building a traditional power plant.
  • And these ships come with their own fuel -- liquefied natural gas and fuel oil -- tapping into markets that are currently oversupplied.
  • “We can deploy them in less than 30 days,” Zeynep Harezi, chief commercial officer of Kapowership, said by phone from her office in Istanbul where the ships are designed.
  • The generators on the ships can produce between 36 megawatts to 470 megawatts of electricity and are already fully financed. While the ships use fossil fuels and present a challenge to the global drive for cleaner energy, they remain among the few solutions for feeding power to remote areas.
  • Such ships can work well in places with high barriers for onshore power stations or that lack access to gas pipelines

Risks

  • High cost and up-front capital requirements. Also, floating power plants concepts compete with more traditional units that run on liquid fuels, renewables and nuclear power, which may receive governmental support over LNG, the report said.
  • Karpowership has the biggest fleet of the vessels. Starting from the first ship for Iraq, which took three years to build in 2010, it now operates 25 such ships in 11 countries from Mozambique to Cuba to Indonesia. Coronavirus hasn’t slowed work, opening some opportunities for new markets instead.

How power ships work in four steps

  • LNG tanker arrives and unloads its fuel to another vessel earmarked for floating storage and re-gasification (FSRU)
  • LNG is turned back into gas on board the FSRU
  • From the FSRU, gas is delivered via a floating gas pipeline to the power ship, whose length varies from 80 meters to 300 meters. There, the fuel feeds generation units on the power-ship.
  • Electricity from the ship flows via a transmission line to a tower onshore and into a local distribution grid.

The company converts existing dry bulk vessels, buys engines in bulk and builds them “one after another, almost like a production line. The technology for the power plant is internal combustion engine, rather than more typical turbines. While more expensive to build, they are cheaper to maintain and better suited for countries in hot climates with unstable grids, which are often in desperate need for power to avoid blackouts. Since traditional power plants on land can take six years or more to complete, floating units have a distinct advantage and can appear in under three months to deal with a surge in demand.

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GS-III : Economic Issues
‘BHARATMARKET’ for retail traders

‘BHARATMARKET’ for retail traders

CAIT said the marketplace will integrate capabilities of various technology companies to provide end-to-end services in the logistics and supply chains from manufacturers to end consumers, including deliveries at home. The e-commerce portal will include a nationwide participation by retailers and aims to bring 95 per cent of retail traders on-board the platform, who would exclusively run the portal.

The initiative has had active support and guidance of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, as they see this as an effective way to get essential commodities to consumers during the lockdown period and within containment zones. CAIT National President BC Bhartia said the traders body is looking to enrol about one crore retailers on this e-marketplace in 2020 and make it the world's largest and most-unique e-marketplace.

About CAIT

Appraisal of post independent situation of India, in particular with regard to plight of traders, revealed that their problems in a broad way were attributed to the following factors:

  • Trading activity was governed by manifold Acts, Bye-Laws and Regulations enacted by the Central Govt., State Govt. & Local Bodies
  • Some of the Acts which were formulated by the British Govt. and which have been rendered outdated in the face of prevailing ground realities, continue to be enforced
  • Intricacies of laws appreciation of which is beyond capacity of a Trader of average knowledge, particularly self employed Trader because of constraints, means and limitations
  • Difficulty in seeking redressel of genuine grievances because of lack of strong lobby of Traders
  • Lethargic attitude of the govt. in recognizing vital role being played by Trading community in the field of economy of our Country. Besides notable contribution at the time of any natural crises and various philanthropic activities related to welfare of people
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GS-II : Indian Polity
Lokpal member Justice A K Tripathi (Retd) dies of coronavirus

Lokpal member Justice A K Tripathi (Retd) dies of coronavirus

Justice AK Tripathi (retired) was one of the four judicial members of the Lokpal. He passed away due to the novel coronavirus. He was Former Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court and Lokpal member.

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GS-III : Economic Issues
Forex reserves fall $113 mn to $479.45 bn

Forex reserves fall $113 mn to $479.45 bn

In the previous week, the reserves had increased by $3.09 billion to $479.57 billion.

After rising for the past few weeks, the country’s foreign exchange reserves declined $113 million to $479.45 billion in the week to April 24, due to a fall in foreign currency assets, according to the latest data from the Reserve Bank of India.

In the previous week, the reserves had increased by $3.09 billion to $479.57 billion. The reserves had touched a lifetime high of $487.23 billion in the week to March 6, after it rose by $5.69 billion. During 2019-20, the country’s foreign exchange reserves rose by almost $62 billion.

In the reporting week ended April 24, the foreign currency assets (FCAs), a major component of the overall reserves, decreased by $321 million to $441.56 billion. Expressed in dollar terms, the FCAs include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US units like the euro, pound and yen held in the foreign exchange reserves. Gold reserves rose by $221 million to $32.901 billion in the reporting week, the RBI data showed. The special drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) fell $6 million to $1.42 billion.

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GS-III :
5G-Rajya Sabha Analysis

5G-Rajya Sabha Analysis

Part of: GS-III- S&T – 5G (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

What’s in the news?

  • China has officially marked its entry to the 5G era. 
  • On 5th June, 2019 the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology granted commercial licenses to four state-owned telecom giants.
  • These companies can now go ahead with full commercial deployment of 5G networks across China, and allow users to subscribe to the faster data services.
  • The high-speed 5G technology will transmit data at least 10 times faster than the current 4G system. This is going to be a significant step towards revolutionizing the tech world in the near future.
  • China is hopeful that the technology will bring new opportunities and boost its digital economy.
  • According to a research report by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, 5G is expected to generate 10.6 trillion yuan (about 1.54 trillion US dollars) worth of economic output and over three million jobs between 2020 and 2025.
  • Incidentally, China’s move to step up efforts in the global race for setting up the super-fast telecommunications system comes just days after Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced that the trials of fifth-generation airwaves will begin in 100 days and the first auction of 5G spectrum will be held in the year 2018 itself.
  • This edition of In-Depth talks about the 5G technology, the rapid changes it will bring about in the communications system and how it will support the growing number of connected devices globally.

Analysis: 

  • By granting 5G licenses for commercial use, China has marked the beginning of a new era in the country’s telecommunications industry. According to a forecast by the industry group, “Global System for Mobile Communication Association”, China is expected to become the world’s largest 5G market with 460 million users by the year 2025. 
  • China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, has granted 5G licenses for commercial use to its major state owned companies, marking the beginning of a new era in the country’s telecommunications industry. 
  • The three major telecom carriers, i.e. China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom, as well as the state-owned China Broadcasting Network Corporation are the first batch of companies that obtained the 5G licenses on the 5th of June, 2019. 
  • This means that these carriers can now start rolling out commercial 5G applications. The 5G technology will establish high speed, mobile, safe and widespread new generation information infrastructure. 
  • Chinese officials say that a comprehensive deployment of the network will help develop industrial manufacturing, internet connected cars, healthcare, smart city management, and artificial intelligence. 
  • The 5G stations are being installed in different parts of China, including Tibet as part of Chinese telecom giant, Huawei’s plans to lead the 5G trials. 
  • China started tests for 5G technology back in 2016 with a total of 7 domestic and international companies, including Huawei, Tang Telecom and Ericsson.
  • China is hopeful that the 5G technology, will bring new opportunities and buoy the growth of its digital economy. 
  • According to a forecast by the industry group, “Global System for Mobile Communications Association”, China is expected to become the world’s largest 5G market with 460 Million users by 2025. 
  • Having said this, first and foremost is the question of how much will the operators have to pay for the 5G spectrum? 

Perspective on India: 

  • The Telecom sector in India has made it clear that it cannot afford 5G spectrum at the current reserve price. 
  • Global Telecom Industry body, GSMA, expects India to have 920 million unique mobile subscribers by 2025, which will include 88 million 5G connections. 
  • According to GSMA, the emergence of 5G ecosystem in India will depend on telecom operators’ ability to invest in network which requires support on policy and regulatory fronts. 
  • 5th Generation 5G mobile internet could be launched as early as late 2019, or early 2020 in some countries. It promises download speeds 10 to 20 times faster than what we have now. But, how is it different from 4G? And what difference would it really make to our lives? 
  • It is important to maximise India’s opportunities for value creation from the global 5G revolution. India has limited intellectual property in 5G technologies and is largely going to be a buyer of this technology. However, the size of the Indian market and our strengths in services and software create some opportunities for symmetric dependencies and value creation. 
  • For example, global deployments of 5G are expected to continue over the next decade and will require skilled labour to design, install, and monitor these networks. 
  • The government should encourage capacity building in Indian companies for “5G deployment services” such that Indian talent can be used across the world. 
  • For vendors winning large 5G contracts in India, preferential agreements with Indian software companies could be considered. Additionally, setting up “use-case validation and development centres” should be incentivised to develop new applications of 5G that are most relevant to India’s social development such as health, education, agriculture, transportation and water. These solutions can also be exported.
  • Data Security is a paramount concern in the World today and India cannot remain secure in terms of data, unless it manufactures its own chips.
  • Next, India’s first Indigenous Semiconductor Chips was made by a Bengaluru based semiconductor company “SIGNALCHIP” for 4G/LTE and 5G NR MODEMs.
  • At present, only 8 companies and a few countries can design and build semiconductor chips.
  • When US and China are battling it out for the core ICT technology, India cannot lag behind.
  • India’s progress in communications technology in recent years has been rapid. Increased affordability, propensity to spend, and lower internet tariff rates have all helped the communications sector boom in India. This has put India on the verge of rolling out 5G technology based services. 
  • 5G networks are the next generation of mobile internet connectivity, offering faster speeds and more reliable connections on smartphones and other devices than ever before. 
  • One would be able to download a High Definition (HD) film in a few seconds. 
  • Video buffering during a streaming session would virtually disappear as data transmission would happen at lightning speeds on a 5G network. This would happen because 5G networks would deliver data with less than  a millisecond of delay. Currently, 4G networks have a delay of around 70 milliseconds. All this would happen when 5G networks are built alongside the existing 4G LTE networks. 
  • The standalore 5G networks, operating at very high speed frequencies, could easily achieve  Gigabit plus browsing speeds. 
  • Experts believe that with advances in communications technology, the world is fast moving towards a connected society. 
  • With all our devices being smart and connected to the internet, we would be able to look at Smart Homes that are energy efficient, save time on housekeeping and shopping, and enjoy safer and more efficient public and private transportation. Besides, it also enables new approaches in education, healthcare, transportation, energy, and entertainment. 
  • 5G networks could run on 3400 Mhz, 3500 Mhz, and 3600 Mhz. spectrum bands respectively.
  • It is important to note that airwaves in the 3500 Mhz band are considered ideal for the first wave of 5G. 
  • Going forward, millimetre-wave spectrum may play a significant role in 5G networks. 
  • They are called millimetre-waves as they wary in length from 1 to 10 millimetres, unlike radio waves that serve the present smartphones. 
  • Millimetre waves are broadcast on frequencies between 30 and 300 Ghz. They have largely been used by those running satellite networks and radar systems. 

Differences between 4G and 5G Networks: 

    • 5G uses different kinds of antennas, operates on different radio spectrum frequencies, connects many more devices to the internet, minimizes delays, and delivers ultrafast speeds.
    • 5G is the newest mobile network that’s replacing the current 4G technology by providing a number of improvements in speed, coverage, and reliability.
    • One fundamental difference is 5G’s use of unique radio frequencies to achieve what 4G networks cannot.
  • The radio spectrum is broken up into bands, each with unique features as you move up into higher frequencies. 4G networks use frequencies below 6 GHz, but 5G uses extremely high frequencies in the 30 GHz to 300 GHz range.

How do these high frequencies help? 

    • These high frequencies are helpful for a variety of reasons. As a matter of fact, one of the most important being that they support a huge capacity for fast data. 
    • Next, not only are they less cluttered with existing cellular data, and so can be used in the future for increasing bandwidth demands, they’re also highly directional and can be used right next to other wireless signals without causing interference.
    • This is very different than 4G towers which fire data in all directions, and potentially wastes both energy and power to beam radio waves at locations that aren’t even requesting access to the internet.
  • 5G also uses shorter wavelengths, which means that antennas can be much smaller than existing antennas while still providing precise directional control. 
  • Next, since one base station can utilize even more directional antennas, it means that 5G can support over 1,000 more devices per meter than what’s supported by 4G.
  • As a consequence of all this, 5G networks, when they become widely available, will be able to beam ultrafast data to a lot more users, with high precision and little latency.
  • Another difference between 5G and 4G is that 5G networks can more easily understand the type of data being requested, and are able to switch into a lower power mode when not in use or when supplying low rates to specific devices, but then switch to a higher powered mode for things like HD video streaming.
  • 5G is 10 times faster than 4G. This means that during the time it took to download just one piece of data with 4G (like a movie), the same could have been downloaded 10 times over a 5G network. 

Some Negatives of 5G: 

  • Most of the super-high frequencies of 5G networks work only if there’s a clear, direct line-of-sight between the antenna and the device receiving the signal. What’s more is that some of these high frequencies are easily absorbed by humidity, rain, and other objects, meaning that they don’t travel as far.
  • It’s for these reasons that we can expect lots of strategically placed antennas to support 5G, either really small ones in every room or building that needs it or large ones positioned throughout a city; maybe even both. 
  • There will also probably be many repeating stations to push the radio waves as far as possible to provide long range 5G support.
  • Also, the spectrum that we use today for 4G technology is for the lower bands. This cannot carry large amounts of data. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of Giga bits of data in a second. For this, it is natural that we need higher frequencies. 

Tracing the journey of Communications Technology: 

(I) 1G: Voice Only

  • Cell phones began with 1G technology in the 1980s. 1G is the first generation of wireless cellular technology. 1G supports voice only calls.
  • 1G is analog technology, and the phones using it had poor battery life and voice quality, little security, and were prone to dropped calls.
  • The maximum speed of 1G technology is 2.4 Kbps.

(II) 2G: SMS and MMS

  • Cell phones received their first major upgrade when their technology went from 1G to 2G. This leap took place in Finland in 1991 on GSM networks and effectively took cell phones from analog to digital communications.
  • The 2G telephone technology introduced call and text encryption, along with data services such as SMS, picture messages, and MMS.
  • Although 2G replaced 1G and is superseded by later technology versions, it’s still used around the world.
  • The maximum speed of 2G with General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is 50 Kbps. 

(III) 2.5G and 2.75G: Data

  • Before making the major leap from 2G to 3G wireless networks, the lesser-known 2.5G and 2.75G were interim standards that bridged the gap to make data transmission, i.e. slow data transmission, possible.
  • 2.5G introduced a new packet-switching technique that was more efficient than 2G technology. This led to 2.75G, which provided a theoretical threefold speed increase. 
  • AT&T was the first GSM network to support 2.75G with EDGE in the U.S. 
  • 2.5G and 2.75G were not defined formally as wireless standards. They served mostly as marketing tools to promote new cell phone features to the public.

(IV) 3G: More Data, Video Calling, and Mobile Internet

  • The introduction of 3G networks in 1998 ushered in faster data-transmission speeds; one could use their cell phones in more data-demanding ways such as for video calling and mobile internet access. 
  • The term “mobile broadband” was first applied to 3G cellular technology.
  • Like 2G, 3G evolved into the much faster 3.5G and 3.75G as more features were introduced to bring about 4G.
  • The maximum speed of 3G is estimated to be around 2 Mbps for non-moving devices and 384 Kbps in moving vehicles. 

(V) 4G: The Current Standard

  • The fourth generation of networking, which was released in 2008, is 4G. It supports mobile web access like 3G does and also gaming services, HD mobile TV, video conferencing, 3D TV, and other features that demand high speeds.
  • The max speed of a 4G network when the device is moving is 100 Mbps. The speed is 1 Gbps for low-mobility communication such as when the caller is stationary or walking.
  • Most current cell phone models support both 4G and 3G technologies.

(VI) 5G: The Future

  • 5G is a not-yet-implemented wireless technology that’s intended to improve on 4G. 

5G promises significantly faster data rates, higher connection density, much lower latency, and energy savings, among other improvements.

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GS-II : Governance
Lokpal and Lokayukta

Lokpal and Lokayukta

Part of: GS-II&IV- Polity and Governance (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

  • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 provided for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States.
  • These institutions are statutory bodies without any constitutional status.
  • They perform the function of an "ombudsman” and inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters.

Why do we need such institutions?

  • Maladministration is like a termite which slowly erodes the foundation of a nation and hinders administration from completing its task. Corruption is the root cause of this problem.
  • Most of the anti-corruption agencies are hardly independent. Even Supreme Court has been termed CBI as a “caged parrot” and “its master’s voice”.
  • Many of these agencies are advisory bodies without any effective powers and their advice is rarely followed.
  • There is also the problem of internal transparency and accountability. Moreover, there is not any separate and effective mechanism to put checks on these agencies.
  • In this context, an independent institution of Lokpal has been a landmark move in the history of Indian polity which offered a solution to the never-ending menace of corruption.

History

  • In 1809, the institution of ombudsman was inaugurated officially in Sweden.
  • In the 20th century, Ombudsman as an institution developed and grew most significantly after the Second World War.
  • New Zealand and Norway adopted this system in the year 1962 and it proved to be of great significance in spreading the concept of the ombudsman.
  • In 1967, on the recommendations of the Whyatt Report of 1961, Great Britain adopted the institution of the ombudsman and became the first large nation in the democratic world to have such a system.
  • In 1966, Guyana became the first developing nation to adopt the concept of the ombudsman. Subsequently, it was further adopted by Mauritius, Singapore, Malaysia, and India as well.
  • In India, the concept of constitutional ombudsman was first proposed by the then law minister Ashok Kumar Sen in parliament in the early 1960s.
  • The term Lokpal and Lokayukta were coined by Dr. L. M. Singhvi.
  • In 1966, the First Administrative Reforms Commission recommended the setting up of two independent authorities- at the central and state level, to look into complaints against public functionaries, including MPs.
  • In 1968, Lokpal bill was passed in Lok Sabha but lapsed with the dissolution of Lok Sabha and since then it has lapsed in the Lok Sabha many times.
  • Till 2011 eight attempts were made to pass the Bill, but all met with failure.
  • In 2002, the Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution headed by M.N. Venkatachaliah recommended the appointment of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas; also recommended that the PM be kept out of the ambit of the authority.
  • In 2005, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission chaired by Veerappa Moily recommended that the office of Lokpal should be established without delay.
  • In 2011, the government formed a Group of Ministers, chaired by Pranab Mukherjee to suggest measures to tackle corruption and examine the proposal of a Lokpal Bill.
  • "India Against Corruption movement" led by Anna Hazare put pressure on the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre and resulted in the passing of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2013, in both the Houses of Parliament.
  • It received assent from President on 1 January 2014 and came into force on 16 January 2014.

Highlights of the Lokpal Act of 2013:

  • The Act allows setting up of anti-corruption ombudsman called Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta at the State-level.
  • Composition: The Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members.
  • Applicability: The Lokpal will cover all categories of public servants, including the Prime Minister. But the armed forces do not come under the ambit of Lokpal.
  • The Act also incorporates provisions for attachment and confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even while the prosecution is pending.
  • The States will have to institute Lokayukta within one year of the commencement of the Act.
  • The Act also ensures that public servants who act as whistleblowers are protected.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill, 2016

  • This Bill was passed by Parliament in July 2016 and amended the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013.
  • It enables the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha to be a member of the selection committee in the absence of a recognized Leader of Opposition.
  • It also amended section 44 of the 2013 Act that deals with the provision of furnishing of details of assets and liabilities of public servants within 30 days of joining the government service.
  • The Bill replaces the time limit of 30 days, now the public servants will make a declaration of their assets and liabilities in the form and manner as prescribed by the government.
  • It also gives an extension of the time given to trustees and board members to declare their assets and those of their spouses in case of these are receiving government funds of more than Rs. 1 crore or foreign funding of more than Rs. 10 lakh.

NOTE: The name of former Supreme Court Judge Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose has been cleared by the Lokpal Selection Committee headed by the Prime Minister.

Who can become the Chairperson?

The person who is to be appointed as the chairperson of the Lokpal should be either of the following: Either the former Chief Justice of India Or the former Judge of Supreme Court Or an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.

Who can become a member?

Out of the maximum eight members, half will be judicial members. Minimum fifty per cent of the Members will be from SC / ST / OBC / Minorities and women. The judicial member of the Lokpal should be either a former Judge of the Supreme Court or a former Chief Justice of a High Court. The non-judicial member should be an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.

Who cannot become the chairperson?

The following persons cannot become chairperson of Lokpal: MPs and MLAs Persons convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude Less than 45 years of age, Members of Panchayats or Municipality, A person who was removed or dismissed from the public service, A person who holds any office of trust / profit; if so, he would need to resign from Lokpal. A person who is affiliated to a political party Carries on some business / profession; if so, he would need to quit some business.

Structure of Lokpal

  • Lokpal is a multi-member body, that consists of one chairperson and a maximum of 8 members.
  • Chairperson of the Lokpal should be either the former Chief Justice of India or the former Judge of Supreme Court or an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.
  • Out of the maximum eight members, half will be judicial members and minimum 50% of the Members will be from SC/ ST/ OBC/ Minorities and women.
  • The judicial member of the Lokpal either a former Judge of the Supreme Court or a former Chief Justice of a High Court.
  • The non-judicial member should be an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.
  • The term of office for Lokpal Chairman and Members is 5 years or till the age of 70 years.
  • The members are appointed by the president on the recommendation of a Selection Committee.
  • The selection committee is composed of the Prime Minister who is the Chairperson; Speaker of Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha,  Chief Justice of India or a Judge nominated by him/her and One eminent jurist.
  • For selecting the chairperson and the members, the selection committee constitutes a search panel of at least eight persons.

Lokpal Search Committee

  • Under the Lokpal Act of 2013, the DoPT is supposed to put together a list of candidates interested to be the chairperson or members of the Lokpal.
  • This list would then go to the proposed eight-member search committee, which would shortlist names and place them before the selection panel headed by the Prime Minister.
  • The selection panel may or may not pick names suggested by the search committee.
  • In September 2018, the government had constituted a search committee headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai.
  • The 2013 Act also provides that all states should set up the office of the Lokayukta within one year from the commencement of the Act.

Lokpal Jurisdiction and Powers

  • Jurisdiction of Lokpal includes Prime Minister, Ministers, members of Parliament, Groups A, B, C and D officers and officials of Central Government.
  • Jurisdiction of the Lokpal included the Prime Minister except on allegations of corruption relating to international relations, security, the public order, atomic energy and space.
  • The Lokpal does not have jurisdiction over Ministers and MPs in the matter of anything said in Parliament or a vote given there.
  • Its jurisdiction also includes any person who is or has been in charge (director/ manager/ secretary) of anybody/ society set up by central act or any other body financed/ controlled by central government and any other person involved in act of abetting, bribe giving or bribe taking.
  • The Lokpal Act mandates that all public officials should furnish the assets and liabilities of themselves as well as their respective dependents.
  • It has the powers to superintendence over, and to give direction to CBI.
    • If Lokpal has referred a case to CBI, the investigating officer in such case cannot be transferred without the approval of Lokpal.
  • The Inquiry Wing of the Lokpal has been vested with the powers of a civil court.
  • Lokpal has powers of confiscation of assets, proceeds, receipts and benefits arisen or procured by means of corruption in special circumstances.
  • Lokpal has the power to recommend transfer or suspension of public servant connected with allegation of corruption.
  • Lokpal has the power to give directions to prevent the destruction of records during the preliminary inquiry.

Limitations

  • The institution of lokpal has tried to bring a much needed change in the battle against corruption in the administrative structure of India but at the same time, there are loopholes and lacunae which need to be corrected.
  • Five years have passed since the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013 was passed by parliament, but not a single Lokpal has been appointed till date indicating the lack of political will.
    • The Lokpal act also called upon states to appoint a Lokayukta within a year of its coming to force. But only 16 states have established the Lokayukta.
  • Lokpal is not free from political influence as the appointing committee itself consist of members from political parties.
  • The appointment of Lokpal can be manipulated in a way as there is no criterion to decide who is an ‘eminent jurist’ or ‘a person of integrity.’
  • The 2013 act did not provide concrete immunity to the whistle blowers. The provision for initiation of inquiry against the complainant if the accused is found innocent will only discourage people from complaining.
  • The biggest lacuna is the exclusion of judiciary from the ambit of the Lokpal.
  • The Lokpal is not given any constitutional backing and there is no adequate provision for appeal against the Lokpal.
  • The specific details in relation to the appointment of Lokayukta have been left completely on the States.
  • To some extent, the need for functional independence of the CBI has been catered to by a change brought forth in the selection process of its Director, by this Act.
  • The complaint against corruption cannot be registered after a period of seven years from the date on which the offence mentioned in such complaint is alleged to have been committed.

Suggestions

  • In order to tackle the problem of corruption, the institution of the ombudsman should be strengthened both in terms of functional autonomy and availability of manpower.
  • Greater transparency, more right to information and empowerment of citizens and citizen groups is required along with a good leadership that is willing to subject itself to public scrutiny.
  • Appointment of Lokpal in itself is not enough. The government should address the issues based on which people are demanding a Lokpal. Merely adding to the strength of investigative agencies will increase the size of the government but not necessarily improve governance. The slogan adopted by the government of “less government and more governance”, should be followed in letter and spirit.
  • Moreover, Lokpal and Lokayukta must be financially, administratively and legally independent of those whom they are called upon to investigate and prosecute.
  • Lokpal and Lokayukta appointments must be done transparently so as to minimize the chances of the wrong sorts of people getting in.
  • There is a need for a multiplicity of decentralized institutions with appropriate accountability mechanisms, to avoid the concentration of too much power, in any one institution or authority.
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