14 August, 2019

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‘Trans Fat’ Logo

GS-II : ‘Trans Fat’ Logo


The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has launched a new mass media campaign in order to create awareness about trans fats and eliminate them in India by 2022.

What are Trans Fat?

Artificial Trans fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Since they are easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time, and give foods a desirable taste and texture, they are still widely used despite their harmful effects being well-known.

Why this move?

Studies have recently shown that 60,000 deaths occur every year due to cardiovascular diseases, which in turn are caused due to high consumption of trans fats.Since the impact of trans fats on human health is increasing exponentially, it is very important to create awareness about them.

Other FSSAI Initiatives

  • As part of the campaign, edible oil industries took a pledge to reduce trans fat content by 2 per cent by 2022.
  • Later, food companies also took a pledge to reformulate packaged foods with reduced levels of salt, sugar and saturated fat.
  • Swasth Bharat Yatra, an initiative started under the “Eat Right” campaign which started on October 16 and will end on January 27, 2019, will also seek to create awareness among citizens about trans fats.

A Move to adopt WHO guidelines

  1. In May this year, the WHO released a step-by-step guide for the elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply.
  2. Since then, a lot of countries have made efforts to reduce the levels of trans fats and in some cases, have completely banned them.
  3. India is also moving towards same by first reducing the levels from 5 per cent to 2 per cent and then altogether by 2022.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-II : International Relations Afghanistan
Free fall: On the Afghan conflict

GS-II: Free fall: On the Afghan conflict


A recent suicide attack at a crowded wedding hall in Kabul killed at least 63 people and injured more than 180 others. It is a tragic reminder of the security situation in Afghanistan.


  • The blast is claimed by the local arm of the Islamic State. It occurred at a time when the U.S. and the Taliban are preparing to announce a peace agreement to end the 18-year-long conflict.
  • It’s now a three-way conflict in Afghanistan — the government, the Taliban insurgents and the global terrorists.
  • The Afghan government is fighting to preserve the existing system that offers a semblance of democracy. But it failed in ensuring the safety and security of the people.
  • The Taliban controls the mountainous hinterlands and wants to expand its reach to the urban centers.
  • IS declared a province (Khorasan) in eastern Afghanistan and has emerged as the thirdplayer.
  • Attacks against civilians, especially the Shia minority, is the central part of its brutal military tactics. Afghanistan’s Hazara Shias were the target of the wedding hall bombing.
  • IS has demonstrated an ability to survive and strike in Afghanistan despite the U.S.’s heavy air campaign in the east.

Afghanistan peace deal:

  • U.S. is ready to pull troops from Afghanistan in return for assurances from the Taliban that they will not allow the Afghan soil to be used by transnational terrorists such as the IS and al-Qaeda.
  • But the Taliban’s intentions are hardly clear. It ran most of Afghanistan according to its puritanical interpretation of Islamic law from 1996 to 2001.
  • There are chances that it turns against Kabul once the Americans are out and the country may plunge into a multi-party civil war as it did after the Soviet Union pulled out in 1989.

Way ahead :

  • Taliban and the government should have their own peace talks and settle differences. It would allow both sides to rechannel their resources to fighting terrorist groups.
  • The international community should strengthen the hands of the Kabul government against all kinds of terrorists, before seeking a settlement with the insurgents.

Source: The Hindu

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Let big data analysis begin

GS-III: Let big data analysis begin

What is Big Data ?

Big data is a term that describes the large volume of data both structured and unstructured beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to capture, curate, manage, and process data within a tolerable elapsed time. It’s what organizations do with the data that matters. Big data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves.

Applications of Big Data

  • Companies use big data to better understand and target customers by bringing together data from their own transactions as well as social media data and even weather predictions.
  • Businesses optimize their processes by tracking and analyzing their supply chain delivery routes and combine that data with live traffic updates. Others use machine data to optimize the service cycles of their equipment and predict potential faults.
  • Big Data is used in healthcare to find new cures for cancer, to optimize treatment and even predict diseases before any physical symptoms appear.
  • Police forces and security agencies use big data to prevent cyber-attacks, detect credit card fraud, foil terrorism and even predict criminal activity.
  • Big Data is used to improve our homes, cities and countries by optimizing the heating or lighting in our homes, the traffic flow in our cities, or the energy grid across the country.

Big Data in India

With a population of 1.2 billion, the relevance of Big Data becomes all the more pronounced for India .Recently, NITI Aayog also echoed the idea of evidence based policymaking guided by Big Data. Discoms in India are using data from last mile sensors to implement measures of cutting down aggregated technical and commercial losses.


  • Inefficient infrastructure (data management centers) for data collection and management
  • Constant evaluation of feedbacks generated from new data required to use Big Data effectively for policymaking, the government must adopt a dynamic approach and be willing to be flexible regarding its policy structure and processes.

Way Forward

In order to effectively analyze the large chunks of data available, the government must establish well-equipped data centres. It is essential to segregate the relevant data from the irrelevant. It must strengthen its cyber security in order to make the large pool of data available virtually safe. It must also address the ethical issues regarding big data analytics and formulate a policy regarding data privacy.

Source: Indian Express

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Ban or regulate? On India’s policy on cryptocurrencies

GS-III: Ban or regulate? On India’s policy on cryptocurrencies


The recommendation of an inter-ministerial committee that India should ban all private cryptocurrencies, that is, Bitcoin and others like it hardly comes as a surprise.


  • Indian policymakers and administrators have time and again made clear their distaste for them, their existence owed almost entirely to advanced encryption technologies
  • In his Budget speech in 2018, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government doesn’t consider them legal tender.
  • The Reserve Bank of India has repeatedly warned the public of the risks associated with dealing with cryptocurrencies.
  • Bitcoin, the most prominent among them, has fluctuate value, even over short periods of time.

No central authority to regulate

  • Governments and economic regulators across the world are wary of private cryptocurrencies.
  • As they need neither a central issuing authority nor a central validating agency for transactions, these currencies can exist and thrive outside the realm of authority and regulation.
  • They are even deemed a threat to the official currency and monetary system. The question then is whether banning cryptocurrencies is the most effective way to respond.

Some important cryptocurrencies

  • Bitcoins
  • Litecoin
  • Namecoin
  • Swiftcoin
  • Bytecoin
  • Gridcoin

Risk associated with the use of crptocurrency

Digital currencies, being in electronic format, are prone to losses arising out of hacking, loss of password etc.Lack of any authorized central agency to regulate the payments or to turn to for redressal of grievances. There is no underlying of asset for Cryptocurrencies, making the value a matter of speculation. The exchanges are located in various parts of the world, making the law enforcement a tricky thing for the multiple jurisdictions available. Trading may subject the user to illicit and illegal activities since the cryptocurrencies, can easily be used for illegal activities anonymously.


  • Even there, the report says, “owing to the network-based nature of cryptocurrencies, after banning domestic crypto exchanges, many traders turned to overseas platforms to continue participating in crypto transactions.”
  • Trading in China is now low but not non-existent.
  • But why would an outright ban be a superior choice to regulation, especially in a field driven by fast-paced technological innovations?
  • The report, unfortunately, doesn’t clarify that point.

Source: The Hindu

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Integrated Battle Groups

GS-III: Integrated Battle Groups


The new concept of Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) which the Indian Army plans to create as part of overall force transformation is close to implementation.

What are IBGs?

  • IBGs are brigade-sized, agile, self-sufficient combat formations, which can swiftly launch strikes against adversary in case of hostilities.
  • Each IBG would be tailor-made based on “Threat, Terrain and Task” and resources will be allotted based on the three Ts.
  • They need to be light so they will be low on logistics and they will be able to mobilise within 12-48 hrs based on the location.
  • An IBG operating in a desert needs to be constituted differently from an IBG operating in the mountains.
  • The key corps of the Army are likely to be reorganized into 1-3 IBGs.

Objective of IBG

Holistic integration to enhance the operational and functional efficiency, optimize budget expenditure, facilitate force modernization and address aspirations


  • While a command is the largest static formation of the Army spread across a defined geography, a corps is the largest mobile formation.
  • The idea is to reorganise them into IBGs which are brigade-sized units but have all the essential elements like infantry, armoured, artillery and air defence embedded together based on the three Ts.
  • The IBGs will also be defensive and offensive. While the offensive IBGs would quickly mobilise and make thrust into enemy territory for strikes, defensive IBGs would hold ground at vulnerable points or where enemy action is expected.

Why need IBGs?

  • After the terrorist attack on the Parliament, the Indian military undertook massive mobilization but the Army’s formations which were deep inside took weeks to mobilise loosing the element of surprise.
  • Following this, the Army formulated a proactive doctrine known as ‘Cold Start’ to launch swift offensive but its existence was consistently denied in the past.
  • Its existence was acknowledged for the first time by Gen Rawat in January 2017.

Source: The Hindu

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