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Here are the topics covered for 01 August 2023: Highlights of Sri Lankan Prime Minister’s Visit to India, LPG Adoption in Indian Households: Challenges and Alternatives, Government’s Bid to Attract Global Chip Manufacturers, The debate on data, Cheetah Deaths at Kuno National Park – Preliminary Findings, ISRO gives PSLV C56 ‘second mission’ to fight debris, Akira Ransomware Alert: Threat and Prevention, Electric Vehicles (EVs) and Net-Zero Transition, Celebrating Cultural Diversity: India’s G20 Campaign Sets Guinness World Record for Lambani Embroidery, Hazrat Imam Hussain, Issues with the UDAN Scheme, Urea Gold, Sahyadri Plateau and Destruction of Rocks
Table of Contents
GS Paper 2:
- Highlights of Sri Lankan Prime Minister’s Visit to India
GS Paper 3:
- LPG Adoption in Indian Households: Challenges and Alternatives
- Government’s Bid to Attract Global Chip Manufacturers
- The debate on data
- Cheetah Deaths at Kuno National Park – Preliminary Findings
- ISRO gives PSLV C56 ‘second mission’ to fight debris
- Akira Ransomware Alert: Threat and Prevention
- Electric Vehicles (EVs) and Net-Zero Transition
Prelims Related Facts
- Celebrating Cultural Diversity: India’s G20 Campaign Sets Guinness World Record for Lambani Embroidery
- Hazrat Imam Hussain
- Issues with the UDAN Scheme
- Urea Gold
- Sahyadri Plateau and Destruction of Rocks
Highlights of Sri Lankan Prime Minister’s Visit to India
- Prime Minister Modi and Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe engaged in discussions on bilateral, regional, and global matters.
- They agreed to conduct feasibility studies for a petroleum pipeline and a land bridge connectivity project.
- Plans were made to commence passenger ferry services between Nagapattinam (India) and Kankesanturai (Sri Lanka).
- The launch of UPI in Sri Lanka will enhance Fintech connectivity.
- An economic and technology cooperation agreement aims to stimulate trade and investment.
- During Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, India provided substantial financial support.
Key Outcomes of Sri Lankan President’s Visit to India
- Several MoUs and Agreements were exchanged between India and Sri Lanka.
- A Joint Declaration of Intent was signed for Animal Husbandry and Dairying cooperation.
- A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was established for renewable energy collaboration.
- A Memorandum of Cooperation was agreed upon for economic development projects in Trincomalee district, Sri Lanka.
- A Network to Network Agreement between NIPL and Lanka Pay facilitated UPI application acceptance in Sri Lanka.
- An Energy Permit was granted for the Sampur Solar Power Project.
- Both sides adopted the India-Sri Lanka Economic Partnership Vision document, aiming for mutual cooperation in various sectors.
India-Sri Lanka Economic Partnership Vision Document: Key Highlights
- The document, titled “Promoting Connectivity, Catalysing Prosperity: India-Sri Lanka Economic Partnership Vision,” is based on five pillars:
- Maritime connectivity
- Air connectivity
- Energy and power connectivity
- Trade, economic, and financial connectivity
- People-to-people connectivity
- Cooperation in developing ports and logistics at Colombo, Trincomalee, and Kankesanthurai to enhance regional logistics and shipping.
- Plans to resume passenger ferry services between Nagapattinam (India) and Kankesanthurai (Sri Lanka) and explore services between Rameshwaram and Talaimannar.
- Expansion of flights between Chennai and Colombo and exploration of connectivity between Chennai and Trincomalee, Batticaloa, and other Sri Lankan destinations.
Energy and Power Connectivity
- Establishing a high-capacity power grid interconnection to facilitate bidirectional electricity trade between Sri Lanka and other regional countries, including BBIN nations.
- Potential to reduce electricity costs in Sri Lanka and provide a valuable source of foreign exchange.
- Expediting the implementation of the Sampur Solar power project and exploring cooperation in Green Hydrogen and Green Ammonia.
- Collaborating on a multi-product petroleum pipeline from India’s South to Sri Lanka and jointly exploring and producing hydrocarbons in Sri Lanka’s offshore basins.
Trade, Economic, and Financial Connectivity
- Discussions on the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement to enhance bilateral trade and investments in new and priority areas.
- Designation of the Indian Rupee as the currency for trade settlements, fostering stronger and mutually-beneficial commercial linkages.
- Operationalizing UPI-based digital payments to enhance trade and transactions between businesses and people.
- Promotion of awareness and popularity of India’s Buddhist circuit and Ramayana trail, along with ancient places of religious worship in Sri Lanka, to boost tourism.
Focus on Land Connectivity
- Sri Lankan envoy emphasizes the importance of land connectivity for India-Sri Lanka relations.
- Proposes connectivity projects similar to the “Channel tunnel” from the U.K. to Europe if environmental concerns are addressed.
- Sri Lanka’s hopes of benefiting from India’s economic growth depend on building causeways, bridges, pipelines, electricity transmission lines, and landing infrastructure for increased travel.
- The 13th amendment for devolution of power to Tamil-majority areas discussed during President Wickremesinghe’s visit.
- Feasibility study on land connectivity between Sri Lanka and India planned for Trincomalee and Colombo ports.
- Private investments encouraged to expedite projects aimed at economic growth and prosperity.
Sri Lanka’s Strategic Significance for India
- Sri Lanka’s geostrategic position is pivotal for maritime communication and trade in the Indian Ocean.
- India is concerned about Chinese influence, particularly at strategic ports.
- India is offering assistance to prevent Sri Lanka from tilting towards China and to maintain regional stability.
The China-India-Sri Lanka Triangle
- China is actively engaging in South Asia to counter India’s ascending power and to secure Sea Lanes of Communication.
- India’s Neighbourhood First Policy seeks mutual growth, but China’s influence raises concerns.
- Sri Lanka maintains amicable relations with both India and China, leveraging its balanced approach for economic benefits.
- Sri Lanka benefits from playing the ‘China Card’ amid India-China rivalry.
- China is providing assistance to Sri Lanka during the pandemic, drawing the island closer into Chinese influence.
- India faces challenges in its relations with Sri Lanka, including fisherman issues and the Chinese presence.
- India aims to strengthen bilateral ties without meddling in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs.
- The US and Japan are closely monitoring Sri Lanka in the Indo-Pacific region.
- Sri Lanka’s stabilizing role is important for regional cooperation and economic recovery.
The way forward
- Build trust through India’s aid during Sri Lanka’s economic crises, understanding security concerns.
- Enhance trade and supply chains through investments for mutual security benefits.
- Transform relationship into reciprocal trade, similar to India-Japan ties.
- Streamline aid through a single development bank for effective implementation.
- Pursue high-quality free trade deal, focus on supply chains and investment.
- Consider adopting India’s digital infrastructure for seamless transactions.
- Develop early warning mechanism for economic crises, enhance cooperation.
LPG Adoption in Indian Households: Challenges and Alternatives
- The Indian government has worked to increase LPG adoption in rural and poorer households.
- The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana provided LPG connections to over 9.5 crore new households.
- However, LPG consumption saw a decline in FY23, raising questions about sustainable adoption and alternatives.
Challenges with LPG Adoption:
- Dependence on Imported LPG: Over 64% of LPG is imported, leading to price volatility.
- Subsidy Costs: High subsidy costs are unsustainable, considering the budget constraints.
- Home Delivery and Distribution Issues: Challenges in delivery and distribution affect refill rates.
Courtesy: NFHS-5 Report
Alternative Clean Cooking Technologies:
- Shift to Electric Cooking: Electric cook-tops and appliances can offset LPG usage.
- Urban Households as Early Adopters: Urban households using electric appliances can lead the transition in rural areas.
- Nudging the Shift: Gradually increasing LPG prices for higher-use households can create demand for electric cooking technologies.
Benefits of Electric Cooking:
- Cost-Effectiveness: Electric cooking can be cheaper than LPG even at higher electricity tariffs.
- Reduced Climate Pollution: Electric cooking reduces climate pollutant release compared to traditional chulhas.
- Monetizing Emission Reductions: India can monetize avoided emissions through the newly launched carbon market, supporting rural communities’ adoption of electric cooking.
- India needs to explore alternatives to just subsidizing LPG adoption, such as promoting electric cooking to reduce dependence on imported LPG and achieve climate and clean air benefits.
Government’s Bid to Attract Global Chip Manufacturers
- Incentives and Financial Assistance: Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced incentives and 50% financial assistance to tech firms under India’s semiconductor program.
- Micron Technology’s Investment: Micron Technology’s proposed $2.75 billion facility in Gujarat has sparked investor interest and cooperation with the U.S.
- De-risking from China: India aims to de-risk itself from China’s chip manufacturing dominance through collaborative or ‘friendshoring’ arrangements.
- Fierce Competition: The U.S. offered $52 billion in financing support for semiconductor makers, drawing over $200 billion in commitments. Intel committed $80 billion in outlays across the European Union.
- Stability and Policy Framework: Investors need evidence of a stable operating environment with a predictable policy framework to ensure long-term commitment.
- Trade Linkages and Tariffs: Investors will compare India’s trade linkages with world markets through bilateral or multilateral compacts and its approach to tariffs on components.
- Assurance and Action: The Prime Minister’s assurance of understanding global chip supply chain needs must be matched by concrete actions to address investors’ concerns.
- Ensuring Success: To create a successful exemplar effect, it is critical to hand-hold the Micron investment till fruition and provide a stable environment for chip manufacturing.
While the government’s efforts to attract chip manufacturers are promising, ensuring a stable operating environment and addressing investors’ concerns will be critical for success. Concrete actions are needed to back the assurance of understanding the global chip supply chain needs.
The debate on data
The article discusses the current state of India’s statistical system and the data it produces. There is a debate about the quality and usefulness of this data in measuring the country’s economic and social progress. The article highlights three main issues: the credibility of data, discrepancies in data from different agencies, and delays in data publication. The lack of reliable data hinders policy formulation and economic assessment.
- Recent debates on India’s statistical system and data quality.
- Importance of data in measuring social and economic progress.
Issues in Data Quality:
- Credibility and Accuracy: Policy formulation and research depend on accurate and credible data.
- Survey Credibility: Household surveys facing questions on sample representation and non-response.
- Multiple Data Sources: Different agencies providing data on the same indicators, leading to policy formulation challenges.
Competence and Ability:
- Delays in surveys and data publication hinder the assessment of economic growth and poverty reduction.
- Outdated wholesale price series and consumer price index affecting inflation assessment.
Urgent Attention Required:
- Lack of credible, coherent data on the economy and society.
- Need for an overhaul of the system, better communication, and transparent data dissemination.
Cheetah Deaths at Kuno National Park – Preliminary Findings
The Environment Ministry and National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) informed the Supreme Court that a provisional diagnosis suggests the deaths of eight cheetahs at Kuno National Park were likely due to natural causes.
Courtesy: Indian Express
- Absence of Unnatural Reasons: The deaths were not attributed to poaching, road hits, or electrocution.
- Survival Rates: The government stated that the big cats have low survival rates, with only 50% surviving even in adults and 10% survival for cubs in an “introduced population” of cheetahs.
- Translocation: Two batches of cheetahs were translocated to Kuno National Park in September 2022 and February 2023.
- Current Status: Currently, there are 15 adult cheetahs and one Indian-born cub surviving at the park.
- Action Plan: The government and NTCA plan to introduce 12-14 cheetahs annually from African countries for the next five years, depending on various factors like availability and habitat conditions.
ISRO gives PSLV C56 ‘second mission’ to fight debris
- ISRO successfully launched seven Singaporean satellites into space using the PSLV rocket in PSLV C56 mission.
- During this mission, ISRO conducted a unique experiment to address the space debris problem.
Unique Experiment to Mitigate Space Debris:
- ISRO lowered the fourth stage of the rocket into a lower orbit (300 km high) after placing the customer satellites at an altitude of 536 km.
- This experiment was carried out to reduce the time the rocket stage stays in orbit, thus mitigating the issue of space debris.
- Normally, rocket stages stay in space for decades, adding to space debris before re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
- By reducing the lifespan in space to two months, ISRO aims to control the return of the PSLV upper stage in a controlled manner.
Objectives of the Experiment:
- The experiment serves two main purposes: addressing the space debris problem and making way for future satellites.
- By bringing back the spent stage in a controlled manner, ISRO intends to mitigate the menace of debris in orbit.
Akira Ransomware Alert: Threat and Prevention
- Akira Ransomware: Targets both Windows and Linux devices, encrypts data, and deletes Windows Shadow Volume copies.
- Data Encryption: Renames encrypted files with “.akira” extension and threatens to release stolen data if ransom not paid.
- Victim Targets: Mainly targets victims in the U.S., with an active leak site for data leaks.
- Spread: Spreads through spear phishing emails, drive-by-downloads, and insecure Remote Desktop connections.
- Infection: Gains Windows domain admin credentials and spreads laterally in corporate networks.
- Data Theft: Steals sensitive data for leverage during extortion.
- Backup Data: Maintain up-to-date offline backups to prevent data loss.
- Regular Updates: Keep operating systems and networks updated, with virtual patching for legacy systems.
- Email Security: Implement Domain-based Message Authentication, DKIM, and Sender policy to prevent email spoofing.
- Strong Authentication: Enforce strong password policies and multi-factor authentication.
- Device Usage Policy: Implement strict external device usage policy and data encryption.
- Block Suspicious Files: Block attachment file types like .exe, .pif, or .url to prevent malicious code download.
- Security Audits: Conduct periodic security audits of critical networks and systems.
Some related basics:
- Definition: Malicious software that encrypts files and demands a ransom for decryption.
- Example: Akira Ransomware encrypts data and threatens victims with data leaks.
- VPN Services:
- Definition: Provides secure connections over public networks for privacy and security.
- Example: Akira ransomware uses VPN services to trick users into downloading malicious files.
- Operating System:
- Definition: Software that manages computer hardware and allows programs to run.
- Example: Windows and Linux are targeted by Akira ransomware for data encryption.
- API (Application Programming Interface):
- Definition: Set of rules enabling communication between software applications.
- Example: Akira ransomware uses the Windows Restart Manager API to terminate active services.
About Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In):
- National nodal agency for responding to cyber incidents.
- Established in 2004 under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
- Objective: Securing Indian cyberspace.
- Collect, analyze, and share information on cyber incidents.
- Issue alerts and forecasts for cyber security incidents.
- Coordinate response activities for cyber incidents.
- Provide guidelines and advisories for information security practices.
CERT-In’s April 2022 Directions:
- Enforces information security practices and reporting of cyber incidents.
- Covers aspects like ICT system clocks, incident reporting, and maintenance of system logs.
- Includes registration details and KYC norms for service providers.
- Budapest Convention on Cybercrime: International treaty addressing cybercrime, but India is not a signatory.
- Cyber Surakshit Bharat Yojana: A program for cyber security awareness and best practices.
- Cyber Swachhta Kendra: Detects and removes malicious programs.
- Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C): Established in 2018 to combat cybercrime.
Electric Vehicles (EVs) and Net-Zero Transition
- EVs play a crucial role in achieving net-zero emissions.
- Hybrid EVs offer an opportunity for economically developing countries to start the transition to EVs.
Net-Zero for a Vehicle:
- Includes emissions from the vehicle’s tailpipe and the power plant.
- Requires cutting emissions from both new and existing vehicles.
Types of EVs:
- Hybrid EV: Combines an internal combustion engine with a small battery as an energy buffer.
- Full EV: Has no internal combustion engine and relies solely on a larger battery charged from the grid.
- Plug-in Hybrid EV: Larger battery, can be charged from the grid, operates as a full EV when charged.
Fuel Economy and Emissions:
- Hybrid EVs have 1.5-2x higher fuel economy than conventional vehicles.
- Full EVs result in 19-34% lower emissions by sedans and 38-49% lower emissions by SUVs.
- Hybrid EVs have 20-23% lower emissions than conventional vehicles.
Challenges to Transitioning:
- Lack of fast-charging infrastructure along highways.
- Limited access to reliable grids in economically developing nations.
- High costs of EVs with longer ranges.
Hybrid EVs as a Solution:
- Provide higher fuel economy and lower emissions in the interim.
- Regenerative braking improves fuel economy in urban and hilly conditions.
- Lower purchase price compared to full EVs.
- Full EVs are ideal for a renewable energy-powered future.
- Hybrid EVs offer a short-term solution for countries facing grid and infrastructure challenges.
Celebrating Cultural Diversity: India’s G20 Campaign Sets Guinness World Record for Lambani Embroidery
Context: The Culture Working Group (CWG) under India’s G20 Presidency sets a Guinness World Record for “largest display of Lambani items” as part of the “Culture Unites All” campaign. This initiative celebrates cultural diversity, supports local economies, and highlights traditional arts like Lambani embroidery.
- Guinness World Record: CWG sets record for largest display of Lambani items under “Culture Unites All” campaign.
- Promoting Cultural Diversity: Initiative celebrates diversity and traditional arts, supporting local economies and artisans.
- Lambani Embroidery: Intangible cultural heritage, providing livelihood for the community.
- Sustainable Living Heritage: Craft reflects traditional sustainable living practices, aligns with “Culture for LiFE” initiative.
- Global Cultural Linkages: Embroidery traditions of Lambanis have similarities across regions due to historical movements.
- Fostering Inclusivity and Sustainable Development: Campaign aims to foster inclusivity, harmony, and sustainable development through cultural exchange and collaborations.
Hazrat Imam Hussain:
- Grandson of Islamic prophet Muhammad, son of Ali ibn Abi Talib and Fatima.
- Third Imam of Shia Islam.
- Revered for standing against injustice and tyranny.
- Ashura: Marks his martyrdom in the Battle of Karbala, symbolizing the fight for justice and oppression.
Issues with the UDAN Scheme:
- Route Closures: 225 out of 479 RCS routes ceased operations.
- Commercial Unviability: Airlines found 70 routes unviable despite subsidy.
- Airport Readiness: Some airports were not ready for operations.
- Non-compliance by Airlines: Airline operators’ non-compliance led to route cancellations.
- Financial Challenges: Low passenger demand affected airlines’ market establishment.
- Inadequate Airport Infrastructure: Certain airports lacked proper infrastructure for operations.
- New urea variety coated with sulphur, addressing soil sulphur deficiencies.
- Slow release enhances nitrogen availability and crop uptake.
- Includes humic acid, extending fertilizer lifespan.
- More efficient, 15 kg of Urea Gold provides benefits similar to 20 kg of conventional urea.
Sahyadri Plateau and Destruction of Rocks:
- Sahyadri Plateau: Located in western India, impacted by land-use changes.
- Destruction of rocks threatens elusive amphibians, insects, and reptiles.
- Loss of biodiversity and disruption of natural habitats.
- Alters microclimates and water availability, affecting flora and fauna survival.