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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

Monthly DNA

24 Dec, 2022

24 Min Read

Deepfake technology

GS-III : S&T S&T

Deepfake technology

  • The sophistication of audio, video, and image editing techniques has rapidly increased as a result of recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing technology.
  • The country's online overseer, the Cyberspace Administration of China, is implementing new rules to limit the use of deep synthesis technology and stop the deception.

About deepfake:

  • A person in an already-existing video or photograph is replaced with another person in a deepfake type of synthetic media. Using machine learning and artificial intelligence, it manipulates the audio/video, which has a tendency to deceive.
  • It has attracted attention because of how quickly false information, celebrity pornography, etc. can be transmitted online.
  • By adding fresh audio or visuals on top of an already-existing media file, it creates a fake version of authentic or original audio-visual information.
  • It overlays a digital composite over an already-existing video, picture, or audio; cybercriminals use Artificial Intelligence technology.
  • The term deepfake originated in 2017 when an anonymous Reddit user called himself “Deepfakes.”

Challenges posed by deep fake:

  • Financial fraud is brought on by Deepfake, which is problematic for the entire financial system.
  • The security of cyber networks and the reliability of online information are both threatened in the age of fake news.
  • The ability to identify a hoax would be made harder by deepfakes in phishing attempts.
  • Deep fakes can be used to undermine democratic processes like elections in any country.
  • Since it can be used to create fake pornographic videos and make politicians appear to say things they did not, the potential for harm to people, organisations, and societies is considerable.

Deep Fakes’ technological advantages:

  • Deepfakes can be used to generate fictional medical images in order to train disease detection algorithms for rare diseases and to assuage patient privacy concerns.
  • Deepfake can hasten the drive for greater equity through accessibility.
  • Artificial intelligence will soon be able to reason more precisely as Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) advances.
  • Exhibits in museums and galleries can be animated by deepfake videos.
  • Deep fakes technology can be used to create AI avatars that can be used in training videos.

What other nations are doing to combat fake news:

USA:

  • The Bipartisan Deepfake Task Force Act was introduced in the United States to help the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) combat deepfake technology.
  • The law requires the DHS to conduct an annual assessment on deepfakes to evaluate the technology being used, monitor how both domestic and foreign companies are using it, and develop countermeasures to deal with the issue.

India:

  • However, there are no laws prohibiting the use of deepfake technology in India.
  • However, certain legal issues, such as copyright violations, defamation, and cyber crimes, can be handled when technology is used improperly.

European Union:

  • To prevent the spread of false information using deepfakes, the European Union has amended its Code of Practice.
  • The updated Code mandates that social media platforms like Twitter, Google, and Meta take action against deepfakes and fake accounts.
  • Once they have agreed to the Code, they have six months to put their plans into action.

Way Forward

  • As media consumers, we must be able to decipher, understand, translate, and use the information we encounter.
  • Meaningful regulations created in collaboration with the technology industry, civil society, and the government can aid in preventing the creation and spread of malicious deep fakes.
  • Deep fakes pose risks to the government, society, economy, culture, and local communities, which should be known by policymakers.
  • Additionally, technical solutions that are simple to use and widely available are required to identify deep fakes, verify media, and amplify reliable sources.

Source: The Hindu

Kunming Montreal Biodiversity Framework (GBF) adopted

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Biodiversity & Environment

Kunming Montreal Biodiversity Framework (GBF) adopted at COP15

  • The UN Convention on Biological Diversity's 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) has accepted the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).
  • 188 of 196 member governments agreed on a new framework to halt the sharp and steady loss of biological species.
  • These governments, supported by the U.S. and the Vatican, who are not a party to the Convention, adopted the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) that sets out four goals for 2050, and 23 targets for 2030, to save existing biodiversity and ensure that 30% of degraded terrestrial, inland water, coastal and marine ecosystems come under effective restoration.
  • At the U.N. biodiversity conference, India pressed for the creation of a new fund to stop biodiversity loss.
  • In Montreal, Canada, the U.N. biodiversity conference came to an end.

Outcomes of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), CoP 15:

  • By 2030, reduce pollution risks and adverse effects from all sources to levels safe for biodiversity and ecosystem functions.
  • Reduce the global footprint of consumption by 2030, in part by cutting back on waste production, overconsumption, and food waste.
  • Stop known species from going extinct, and by 2050, tenfold the risk and rate of extinction for all species (including unknown)
  • By 2030, cut the danger from pesticides by at least 50%.
  • By 2030, cut the amount of nutrients lost to the environment by at least 50%.
  • At least $500 billion (one billion = 100 crore) in yearly environmental subsidies, such as those for the production of fossil fuels, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, must be eliminated.

About Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) :

  • The agreement to implement the GBF was pushed through on December 18 by the Chinese conference presidency and host Canada in the face of objections from some African countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and Uganda.
  • The draft Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), will replace the Aichi Biodiversity Targets 2020.

It sets out targets for 2030 on:

  • protection for degraded areas,
  • resource mobilization for conservation,
  • compensation for countries that preserve biodiversity,
  • halting human activity linked to species extinction,
  • reducing by half the spread of invasive alien species (introduced plants and animals that affect endemic biodiversity),
  • cutting pollution to non-harmful levels and
  • minimizing climate change impact and ocean acidification, among others.
  • The GBF goals and targets do not prohibit the use of biodiversity, but call for sustainable use, and a sharing of benefits from genetic resources.
  • Agricultural practices also find a strong focus. Besides emphasizing sustainable practices in agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, and forestry, the agreement calls upon members to adopt biodiversity-supporting methods such as agroecology and sustainable intensification.
  • One target also looks at turning cities into hosts of biodiversity. Urban planning should also be biodiversity-inclusive, “enhancing native biodiversity, ecological connectivity and integrity, and improving human health and well-being and connection to nature.”
  • The GBF emphasises respect for the rights of indigenous communities that traditionally protect forests and biodiversity, and their involvement in conservation efforts. It advocates similar roles for women and local communities.

The key aspects of the four GBF goals for 2050 are:

  • maintaining ecosystem integrity and health to halt extinctions,
  • measuring and valuing ecosystem services provided by biodiversity,
  • sharing monetary and non-monetary gains from genetic resources and ,
  • digital sequencing of genetic resources with indigenous people and local communities, and
  • raising resources for all countries to close a biodiversity finance gap of an estimated $700 billion.

National Strategies to be adopted as per GBF:

  • Member nations need to submit a revised and updated national biodiversity strategy and action plan in the conference to be held in 2024.
  • Further, the parties to the CBD should submit national reports in 2026 and 2029 to help prepare global reviews. High-level discussions on the progress reviews should be held in 2024 and 2026.
  • Businesses and industries, including transnational corporations would have to assess, monitor, and report the risks and impacts of their operations and portfolios. They must provide information for sustainable consumption and comply with the rules on benefit-sharing. Perverse incentives that affect biodiversity should be eliminated.

Funding arrangements planned as per GBF:

  • By 2030, the GBF hopes to see at least $200 billion raised per year from all sources — domestic, international, public and private — towards implementation of the national action plans.
  • In terms of international funding, developing countries should get at least $20 billion a year by 2025 and at least $30 billion by 2030 through contributions from developed countries.
  • The Global Environment Facility (GEF), a multilateral body that partners with countries and agencies, has been asked to establish in 2023, and until 2030, a Special Trust Fund to support the implementation of the GBF.

India's Position:

  • To assist developing nations in successfully implementing a post-2020 global framework to prevent and reverse biodiversity loss, it is urgently necessary to establish a new and dedicated fund.
  • India claims that because poor nations are primarily responsible for carrying out the goals for biodiversity preservation, they need enough financing and technology transfer.

Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR)

  • Given that climate change has an impact on the natural world, biodiversity conservation must also be based on CBDR.
  • India emphasized the urgent need to establish a brand-new, special fund to assist poor nations in effectively putting into place a post-2020 global framework to stop and reverse biodiversity loss.
  • The only source of money for biodiversity conservation is still the Global Environment Facility, which supports numerous accords like the UNFCCC and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.
  • The GBF's goals and objectives should be challenging but yet realistic and doable.
  • India opposes cutting back on agricultural subsidies and diverting the money saved to biodiversity preservation.
  • Biodiversity conservation: This calls for the holistic, integrated protection and restoration of ecosystems.

NOTE

  • States have "shared but diverse obligations in light of the different contributions to global environmental deterioration," according to the definition of CBDR.

About Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD):

  • The Biodiversity Convention is the informal name for the CBD.
  • It is an international agreement.
  • 196 countries have accepted the CBD, a legally binding agreement to conserve biodiversity, which has been in effect since 1993.
  • It lays out rules for nations to safeguard sustainable use, encourage just and equitable benefit sharing, and save biodiversity.
  • Montreal, Canada serves as the home of the Convention on Biological Diversity's (SCBD) Secretariat.
  • Ratification: 196 countries have ratified it.
  • The only UN member state that has not ratified the convention is the United States.
  • The Conference of Parties (COP) refers to the periodical meetings of the Parties (Countries) to the CBD.
  • Earlier, the CBD had launched the Aichi biodiversity targets for 2020, which included safeguarding of all ecosystems that provide services for humanity’s survival, and the Nagoya Protocol which went into effect in 2014 to ensure sharing of biodiversity access and benefits.

About CBD agreements:

  • The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, a supplement to the Convention, was approved in 2000. It becomes effective on September 11, 2003.
  • An International agreement called the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity regulates the transfer of living modified organisms (LMOs) brought about by contemporary biotechnology from one nation to another.
  • Another addendum to the Convention on Biological Diversity is the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from their Utilization (ABS).
  • The COP-10 also approved a ten-year action plan for all nations to follow in order to preserve biodiversity.
  • The Aichi Targets for biodiversity are a collection of 20 challenging but attainable goals that are officially known as the "Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020."

The Biological Diversity Act was passed by India in 2002 to implement the CBD's provisions.

Way Forward

  • The provision of financial resources to parties from poor countries requires the development of a fresh, special procedure.
  • Agriculture serves as the primary economic engine for rural people in developing countries, and the vital support given to these industries cannot be changed. the emphasis should be on avoiding agricultural subsidies.
  • Instead of opting for nature-based solutions, ecosystem methods to biodiversity protection need to be used

Source: The Hindu

Distorted use of fertilizers

GS-III : Economic Issues Industry

Distorted use of fertilizers

  • According to the Department of Fertilisers, the sale of urea increased by 3.7% from April to October 2022 compared to the same period the previous year.

More on the news:

  • Issue: The incumbent government's two ambitious schemes — the Soil Health Card and mandatory neem-coating of urea — were intended to promote the balanced use of fertilizers.
  • Urea: Rather than weaning farmers away from urea, annual consumption of this nitrogenous fertiliser has increased from 30 to 35 million tonnes (mt) in the last five years.
  • DAP: Another fertiliser, di-ammonium phosphate (DAP), is experiencing a similar phenomenon of over-application.
  • Sales of all other fertilisers: Other fertiliser sales have declined, including complexes containing nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), and sulphur (S) in various proportions.

Unbalanced usage:

  • In other words, instead of applying a balanced mix of plant nutrients based on soil testing and crop requirements, Indian farmers are effectively applying only urea and DAP — both high-analysis fertilisers containing 46% N and P, respectively.

Outcome:

  • The effects of these - the current NPK ratio is approximately 13:5:1, as opposed to the ideal 4:2:1 - would eventually be seen in crop yields.
  • Plants, like humans, will respond poorly to excess nutrients if only one or two nutrients are provided.

Reasons for this disparity

Other fertilisers are being underpriced:

  • The government has set maximum retail prices for urea and DAP. It has established informal MRPs for NPKS complexes and potash muriate (MOP).
  • Other fertiliser prices are higher when compared to Urea and DAP. As a result, farmers have little incentive to purchase additional fertilisers.
  • The fact that DAP lacks K, S, and other macro and micro nutrients would be irrelevant to the vast majority of farmers.
  • Their choice of fertiliser is primarily determined by price.

Subsidies and political motivations:

  • Subsidy-induced market distortions cause urea underpricing (a historical phenomenon) and DAP underpricing (recent).
  • The low prices and high sales of these two fertilisers are due to large government subsidies.
  • Concerns about soil nutrient imbalances have clearly taken a back seat to electoral politics.

Supply-side constraints include:

  • India is facing a scarcity of fertilisers, particularly phosphatic and potassic nutrients.
  • The difficulties include securing supply from new sources, more expensive raw materials, and logistics.
  • The pandemic has had an impact on fertiliser production, import, and transportation worldwide.

Initiatives by the government to rationalise fertiliser use:

The Soil Health Card Scheme:

  • A soil health card informs farmers about the nutrient status of their soil and recommends the appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied to improve soil health and fertility.
  • Objectives: Every two years, all farmers will receive soil health cards, which will serve as a foundation for addressing nutrient deficiencies in fertilisation practises.

Neem Coated Urea (NCU):

  • It is a fertiliser and an agricultural scheme supported by the Government of India to increase wheat and paddy growth.
  • Aside from increasing yield, Neem Coated Urea application has other benefits in paddy and wheat crops.
  • Farmers discovered that using Neem coated Urea in wheat crop reduced the incidence of white ants. This is due to the fragrance of Neem oil, which was released in the standing water upon dissolution, as well as the insecticidal properties of Neem.
  • The move will not only benefit the environment and farmers' livelihoods, but it will also reduce illegal urea diversion for industrial use.

‘One Nation, One Fertilizer’ scheme:

  • All fertiliser companies, State Trading Entities (STEs), and Fertiliser Marketing Entities (FMEs) will be required to use a single "Bharat" brand and logo under the PMBJP scheme.
  • The PMBJP logo and the new "Bharat" brand name will cover two-thirds of the front of the fertiliser packet.

Way Forward

  • The government should replace individual fertiliser product subsidies with a flat per-hectare cash transfer, perhaps twice a year.
  • Every farmer can open an e-wallet account and deposit this money before the kharif and rabi planting seasons.
  • The e-wallet may be used only for the purchase of fertilisers.
  • The government can maintain a stock of basic fertilisers, including urea and DAP, to ensure no untoward price rise even in a decontrol scenario.

Source: PIB

Tal Chhapar Sanctuary: Rajasthan

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Conservation

Tal Chhapar Sanctuary: Rajasthan

  • A defence has been provided for the Tal Chhapar blackbuck sanctuary in Rajasthan against a state proposal to shrink the area of its eco-sensitive zone.
  • The sanctuary, which spans a 7.19 sq. km. area, has a major initiative underway by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) to save raptors.
  • The wildlife sanctuary's area cannot be decreased, according to a recent court judgment.

About Tal Chhapar blackbuck sanctuary:

  • It is situated in the Churu district of Rajasthan
  • The Jaswantgarh forest block in the Nagaur district is located not far from Tal Chhapar and is traversed by the Nokha-Sikar highway.
  • On the edge of the Great Indian Thar Desert is where you'll find the Tal Chhapar Sanctuary.
  • The Rajasthani term "Tal" means "plane land."
  • This sanctuary has a large level landscape with a thin, low-lying area combined.
  • It has broad, vast grasslands with dispersed Acacia and Prosopis plants that give it the appearance of a typical Savanna.

Species diversity:

  • 4,000 blackbucks, more than 40 different raptor species, and over 300 different permanent and migratory bird species.
  • The top of the food chain and population controllers of tiny mammals, birds, and reptiles as well as insects are the raptors, which include predators and scavengers.
  • Earlier, there were many desert foxes and other burrowing species in the refuge, and now raptors use the enormous populations of spiny-tailed lizards, the only herbivorous lizard, as a base of operations for hunting.
  • For their stay over the winter, migratory birds come here.

Probable Threat to the Sanctuary:

  • Increase in the number of people living in the area around the sanctuary as well as sporadic and widespread construction work.
  • Hyperaridity, grazing pressure,
  • Prosopis juliflora, an invasive weed, and nearby salt mines.
  • For the enormous number of blackbucks in the sanctuary, the available space is insufficient.

About Blackbucks:

  • Blackbucks, commonly referred to as Indian antelopes, are antelopes that can be found in Pakistan, Nepal, and India.
  • The only living member of the genus Antilope is the blackbuck.
  • The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972's Schedule I forbids hunting of blackbuck in India.
  • The IUCN Red List categorises the blackbuck as having least concern.
  • After cheetah, blackbuck is thought to be the second-fastest animal.
  • Blackbuck, the state animal of Punjab
  • Hindu mythology accords blackbucks a sacred value, and the Rajasthani Bishnoi tribe is well known for its blackbuck conservation efforts.

Protection Status:

  • Wildlife Protection Act 1972: Schedule I
  • IUCN Status: Least Concern
  • CITES: Appendix III

Threat:

  • Habitat Fragmentation, Deforestation, Natural Calamities and Illegal Hunting.

Source: The Hindu

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