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24 Aug, 2020

32 Min Read

Open API Service in Aarogya Setu


Open API Service in Aarogya Setu

The government has announced a new feature 'Open API Service' for its contact tracing app Aarogya Setu.

Arogya Setu (under MEITy)

  • Aarogya Setu was launched in April 2020. It was developed by the National Informatics Centre under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology.
  • The motto of Aarogya Setu is ‘Main Surakshit, Hum Surakshit, Bharat Surakshit’. It is a contact tracing application.
  • Aarogya Setu has emerged as the most downloaded contact tracing App in the world, with more than 15 crore users.
  • It will help people identify risk of getting affected by Corona using bluetooth, algorithms and AI.
  • It Detects other nearby decides with same app.
  • Aarogya Setu app mandatory for returning NRIs, migrants.

Aarogya Setu data protocol norms issued

  • Empowered Group on Technology and Data Management issued an order notifying the Aarogya Setu Data Access and Knowledge Sharing Protocol, 2020 that lays down guidelines for collection, processing, storage and sharing of "anonymised" data.
  • Encrypted data of all users, stored in their devices, got deleted automatically in 30 days.
  • Data of the users who undergo tests were kept for 45 days and for those who had tested positive, it was stored in server till 60 days from the day they recovered from the illness.

Aarogya Setu data includes

  • Demographic data: Name, Mobile number, Age, Travel history, Gender
  • Contact data: Close proximity.
  • Location data: Geographical location.
  • Self assessment data: Self assessment.
  • Health Ministry only assesses the data.

Issues of using Aarogya Setu App

  • Government has issued guidelines to the employers to ensure that all their employees install this app. K S Puttaswamy case of 2017 holds this as the violation of Right to Privacy.
  • Govt has no power to make app's use compulsory without legislative authorisation.
  • There is no law for app's purpose, functioning and nature.
  • The data-sharing and knowledge-sharing protocol for the Aarogya Setu is prone to misuse, considering that India still doesn’t have data protection laws.
  • There is no clarity about what data will be collected, for how long and for what use.
  • There is no specification on how Govt will use data.
  • There are less smartphone users in the country especially in the vulnerable sections of the society.
  • Hacker sees security flaws in Aarogya Setu.

The Open API Service of Aarogya Setu addresses the fear/risk of Covid-19 infections and will help the people, businesses and the economy to return to normalcy.

  • Here, organizations can take informed decisions regarding the presence of employees in office and the need to explore work from home. Thus, risk of contracting is reduced without much compromising on activities of the entity.
  • The Open API Service of Aarogya Setu, can be availed by organizations and business entities.
  • Conditions:
  • Entities who are registered in India.
  • Entities with more than 50 employees.
  • Benefits to Organizations and Business Entities:
  • They can use the Open API Service to query the Aarogya Setu Application in realtime.
  • They can get the health status of their employees or any other Aarogya Setu User.
  • The Open API Service enables organizations to check the status of Aarogya Setu and
  • integrate it into its various Work from Home features.
  • Privacy Issue Addressed:
  • The Open API shall only provide the Aarogya Setu status and name of the Aarogya
  • Setu User (strictly, with User's consent only).
  • No other personal data shall be provided through the API.


  • The term ‘API’ stands for ‘Application Programming Interface’.
  • An API is an interface that can be used to program software that interacts with an existing application.
  • In practice, an API is “a set of functions and procedures” that allow one to access and build upon the data and functionality of an existing application.

Open Source API

  • An open source API, also called public API, is an application programming interface made publicly available to software developers.
  • Open APIs are published on the internet and shared freely, allowing the owner of a network-accessible service to give universal access to consumers.
  • These are to support businesses with limited capital to invest in digital applications.
  • An overlapping term web service is a resource that’s made available over the internet.
  • A Web service is a software system designed to support interoperable machine-to-machine interaction over a network.

APIs vs Web Services

  • APIs and web services are not mutually exclusive.
  • In fact, one is a subset of the other: every web service is an API — since it exposes an application’s data and/or functionality — but not every API is a web service. This is because the definition of a web service is quite restrictive:
  • Web services require a network. While APIs can be online or offline, web services must use a network.
  • APIs are protocol agnostic. While APIs can use any protocols or design styles, web services usually use specific protocols.
  • Web services are not open source generally: Instead, they tend to offer specific data and/or functionality to specific partners. Thus they are less prone to hacking than API.

Source: TH

Nuakhai Juhar

GS-I : Art and Culture Festivals

Nuakhai Juhar

Nuakhai Juhar is an agricultural festival, also called Nuakhai Parab or Nuakahi Bhetghat.

It is celebrated to welcome the new crop of the season.

Nuakhai is a combination of two words that signifies eating of new rice as ‘nua’ means new and ‘Khai’ means eat.

This is the festival of Western Odisha, southern Chhattisgarh and adjoining areas of Simdega (Jharkhand).

Its coastal counterpart is Nabanna, observed in Coastal Odisha.

Source: TH

BIS Draft Standard for Drinking Water


BIS Draft Standard for Drinking Water

Recently, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has prepared a draft standard for the supply system of piped drinking water.

The draft has been titled as ‘Drinking water supply quality management system — requirements for piped drinking water supply service’.

Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)

  1. BIS Act, 2016 established BIS as a statutory and National Standards Body. It replaces Indian Standards Institution set up in 1947.
  2. It has enabling provisions for the Govt to bring under compulsory certification regime any goods or article of any scheduled industry, process, system or service which it considers necessary for public interest or for protection of human, animal or plant health, safety of environment, or prevention of unfair trade practices or national security.
  3. It has also made hallmarking of precious metals mandatory.
  4. The new Act, also allows multiple type of simplified comformity assessment schemes like self declaration of conformity against a standard which will give simplified options to manufacturers to adhere to the rules.
  5. Center can appoint any authority in addition to BIS to verify the conformity of products and services to a standard and issue certificate.

Features of the Draft BIS Standards

  • It has been prepared by the BIS’s Public Drinking Water Supply Services Sectional Committee.
  • The draft has been developed keeping in view the Centre’s Jal Jeevan Mission which aims for providing safe and adequate drinking water to all rural households by 2024 through tap connections.
  • The draft outlines the process of water supply, from raw water sources to household taps.
  • The draft standard is expected to make the process of piped water supply more uniform, especially in rural and underdeveloped areas of the country where the system runs on various government orders and circulars.
  • It outlines the requirements for a water supplier or a water utility on how they should establish, operate, maintain and improve their piped drinking water supply service.
  • Guidelines for top management of the water supplier/utility which includes:
  • Accountability and customer focus.
  • Establishing a quality policy for their service.
  • Monitoring the quality of water released to people.
  • Conducting a water audit.
  • It sets the Indian Standard (IS) 10500 for the treated water for drinking (PT). The IS 10500 outlines the acceptable limit of heavy metals such as arsenic, pH value of water, turbidity, the total dissolved solids in it, and the colour and odour.
  • Adoption of the concept of District Metering Area (DMA) where possible. DMA is a concept for controlling leakages in the water network, which is essentially divided into a number of sectors, called the DMAs, and where flow meters are installed to detect leaks.
  • The water supplier may provide bulk water meters in the water distribution system to ensure water audit, however the provisions should be made for domestic meters also.
  • The water supplier shall ensure that the consumers do not have direct access to the meters to avoid possible tampering of the meters.
  • The draft also mentions that water should be sampled at the treatment plant every four hours against quality parameters.

Jal Jeevan Mission

  1. It envisages supply of 55 litres water per person per day to every rural household through Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTC) by 2024.
  2. The Jal Shakti Ministry is the nodal ministry for the implementation of the mission.
  3. It focuses on integrated demand and supply side management of water at the local level.
  4. Creation of local infratructure as mandatory elements like rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and reuse of household water to be undertaken.
  5. Mission is based on community approach to water and includes Information, Education and Communication as key component of the mission.
  6. JJM looks to create a Jal Andolan to make water everyone's priority.
  7. Funding: It is a Centrally Sponsored Schemes. 50:50 for States; 90:10 for Himalayan and Northeast States and 100% for UTs.
  8. Operational guidelines: 4 level structure
    1. National Jal Jeevan Mission (NJJM) at the Central level
    2. State Water and Sanitation Mission (SWSM) at the State level
    3. District Water and Sanitation Mission (DWSM) at the District level
    4. Village Water Sanitation Committee (VWSC) at Village level
  9. Every village will prepare Village Action Plan which will have 3 components: Water source and its maintenance; Water supply and Greywater management.

Source: IE

Source: IE

California Wildfires

GS-I : Human Geography Forest Fire

California Wildfires

California (USA) is facing sprawling wildfires destroying more than 400,000 acres of forests in Northern and Central California.

Reasons for California’s Wildfires:

  • Climate: California, like much of the West, gets most of its moisture in the fall and winter. Its vegetation then stays dry throughout the summer because of a lack of rainfall and warmer temperatures, which ultimately serve as the ignition for fires.
  • However, with global warming, the temperature has increased by 1-2 degrees Celsius, leading to an upsurge in cases of wildfires.
  • Human intervention: The spark for many fires arises due to human-made causes such as fallen power lines, accidents etc.
  • Due to urbanization, human habitation is increasingly moving areas near forests, known as the urban-wildland interface, that are inclined to burn.
  • Suppressing Fires: Owing to the suppression of natural fires artificially for a long time, which would consume the dry inflammable materials in the forest, a lot of dry material has accumulated causing even more fires.
  • The United States Forest Service is now trying to rectify the previous practice through the use of prescribed or “controlled” or cool burning.
  • Cool Burning: Cool burning is done in a controlled manner by artificially creating small, localized fires to limit the amount of vegetation available in any given area. It means that any fires will not have any build-up of “vegetative fuel” to use to become a large, uncontrollable fire.
  • Santa Ana Winds: Santa Ana winds dry out vegetation and also move embers around, spreading fires.

  • The spark for many of these fires comes from around 11,000 lightning strikes California has been hit by.


  • Economic loss from the destruction of life and property.
  • Air pollution by small particulate matter and also acids, organic chemicals, and metals along with dust and allergens.
  • Land degradation as high temperatures consume all nutrients and vegetation from land, leaving it barren and infertile.
  • Loss of biodiversity.

California has two distinct fire seasons:

  • First or western fire season: From June through September
  • Due to warmer and drier weather.
  • Fires are more inland and in higher-elevation forests.
  • Second Fire Season: From October through April
  • Due to Santa Ana Winds.
  • Burn closer to urban areas.
  • Three times faster than first-season fires
  • Responsible for 80% of the economic losses over two decades

Santa Ana Winds

  • The winds' name derives its name from the Santa Ana canyon in Orange County, California.
  • Santa Anas are dry, warm (often hot) winds that blow westward through Southern California toward the coast.
  • They're usually seasonal and typically occur between October and March and peak in December.
  • They originate when high-pressure systems form over the high-elevation deserts of the Great Basin between the Sierra Nevadas and the Rocky Mountains.
  • As they flow downwards and cross desserts, they become very dry, warm, and gain speed. The lack of humidity in Santa Ana winds dries out vegetation, making it better fuel for a fire.
  • The wind also fan the flames and helps spread them.

Way Forward

  • Some immediate solutions to wildfires include not planting easily flammable tree species such as eucalyptus and pine in forest fire regions, not allowing human development near forest zones, and promoting policies that conserve water like waste-water recycling, desert landscaping, and low-water consumption appliances.
  • However, in the long -term working on controlling greenhouse gas emissions and thus, climate change is crucial to controlling such incidents which have affected the whole world and not just California.
  • Recent Australian Bushfires and Forest Fires in Uttarakhand are some other examples.

Source: IE

Source: IE

National Council for Transgender Persons

GS-I : Social issues Ministry of Social Justice

National Council for Transgender Persons

Recently, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment constituted the National Council for Transgender Persons, under the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.


  • Indian Census never recognized third gender i.e. Transgender while collecting census data. But in 2011, data on Transgender was collected with details related to their employment, literacy and caste.
  • As per the 2011 Census, the total population of Transgender is 4.88 lakhs, the highest being in Uttar Pradesh followed by Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar.
  • In the National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India case (2014), the Supreme Court of India declared transgender people to be a 'third gender'. It also affirmed that the fundamental rights granted under the Constitution of India will be equally applicable to transgender people, and gave them the right to self-identification of their gender as male, female or third-gender.

Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019

  • The Bill defines a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth. It includes transmen and trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons with socio-cultural identities, such as kinnar and hijra.
  • A transgender person may make an application to the District Magistrate for a certificate of identity, indicating the gender as ‘transgender’.
  • It calls for establishing a National Council for Transgender persons (NCT).
  • The Bill prohibits discrimination against a transgender person, including denial of service or unfair treatment in relation to Education, Employment, Healthcare, Movement, Reside, Rent, public or private office, and access to a Govt or private establishment.
  • The Act has a provision that provides transgender with the right of residence with parents and immediate family members.
  • It states the offences against Transgender persons will attract jail of 6 months to 2 years + a fine.
  • Bill also seeks to provide rights of health facilities to transgender persons including separate HIV surveillance centres, and sex reassignment surgeries. Govt shall review the medical curriculum and provide medical insurance.

Functions of the National Council for Transgender Persons:

  • Advising the Central government on the formulation of policies, programmes, legislation and projects with respect to transgender persons.
  • Monitoring and evaluating the impact of policies and programmes designed for achieving equality and full participation of transgender persons.
  • Reviewing and coordinating the activities of all the departments.
  • Redressing grievances of transgender persons.
  • Performing such other functions as prescribed by the Centre.

Composition of the Council:

  • Its chairperson will be the Union Minister of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • It will also consists of:
  • Representatives from 5 states or UTs (one each from the north, south, east, west and northeast regions), on a rotational basis.
  • Five members of the trangender community (one each from the north, south, east, west and northeast regions).
  • The tenure of the community members shall be three years.
  • Representatives from 10 central departments.
  • The council will have joint secretary-level members from the Ministries of Health, Home, Minority Affairs, Education, Rural Development, Labour and Law.
  • In addition, there will be a member from the Department of Pensions (Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions), NITI Aayog, National Human Rights Commission and National Commission for Women.

Way Forward

  • The establishment of National Council for Transgender Persons which seeks to increase awareness and inculcate sense of respect and acceptance for transgender community, is a welcome step. However, its upto the effective functioning of the council whether it will able to identify the issues faced by the transgender community and accordingly advice the government.
  • Apart from policies and regulations, there is also a need for an inclusive approach, sensitising legal and law enforcement systems in particular towards the issues of transgender community.

Source: TH

Source: TH

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