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Here are the topics covered for 7th October 2023:
Table of Content
GS-3:World Health Organization’s Specs 2030,Global amphibian assessment, Aligning higher education with the United Nations SDGs, Child-Centric AI Regulation: Ensuring a Safe Digital Environment
Facts for Prelims: Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, GST Council
World Health Organization’s Specs 2030
- A substantial number of individuals worldwide experience vision issues, and a significant portion requires eyeglasses. Nevertheless, obtaining proper eye care, especially in low- and middle-income nations, poses a considerable challenge.
Specs 2030 Overview:
- Launched by the 74th World Health Assembly in 2021.
- Aims to address global vision problems, focusing on the need for spectacles and quality eye care.
Vision of Specs 2030:
- Envisions universal access to quality, affordable, and people-centred refractive error services.
- Supports Member States in achieving the 2030 target on effective refractive error coverage.
- Advocates coordinated global action across 5 strategic pillars (SPECS) to improve coverage.
Refractive Error of Vision:
- A common condition affecting how light is focused on the retina leads to blurred or distorted vision.
- Comes in various forms and severity levels.
Symptoms of Refractive Errors:
- Blurry vision, double vision, hazy vision, glare or halo around lights, headaches, and eye strain.
- Over 2.2 billion people globally suffer from compromised eyesight.
- 1 billion cases could be prevented with proper eye care.
- 90% of affected individuals live in low- and middle-income countries.
- Urgent need for eye care and glasses for millions with uncorrected refractive errors.
- At least 100 million Indians lack access to necessary spectacles.
Rise of Myopia:
- Global increase, notably in East and South Asian countries.
- The average onset in China shifted from 10.5 to 7.5 years in two decades.
- By 2050, 50% of the world’s population may be myopic, requiring glasses.
- Strategies to reduce screen time, promote outdoor activities, and monitor children’s eye health combat myopia.
- Encourage regular eye check-ups for all ages for early detection and intervention.
- Build infrastructure for accessible eye care, especially in remote areas.
- Launch public awareness campaigns on refractive errors.
- Advocate for collaboration and investment from governments, NGOs, and the private sector in Specs 2030.
Global amphibian assessment
- A new study, based on the second global amphibian assessment, revealed that climate change posed the greatest threat to the existence of amphibian life.
Global amphibian assessment:
- The Global Amphibian Assessment (GAA) is a comprehensive scientific evaluation aimed at assessing the conservation status of the world’s amphibian species.
- This initiative, launched by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), involves a systematic review of the biological, ecological, and distributional information of amphibians.
- A new paper analysing two decades of data from around the world has found that climate change is emerging as one of the biggest threats to frogs, salamanders, and caecilians.
Key findings of the report:
- Earth’s amphibian species are under an imminent threat of extinction.
- Out of the 8,011 assessed amphibian species, 41% are now classified as endangered due to factors like habitat loss, diseases, and climate change.
- This situation signifies a deteriorating trend since the initial assessment in 2004, which indicated that 39% of amphibian species were at risk.
- Amphibians face a more severe crisis compared to other vertebrate groups, with 27% of mammals, 21% of reptiles, and 13% of birds also confronting extinction risks according to separate assessments.
- Among amphibian orders, salamanders and newts are the most endangered, with 60% of species facing potential extinction, followed by frogs and toads (39%) and caecilians (16%).
- Habitat destruction and degradation as the result of agriculture (crops, livestock like cattle and livestock grazing, and silviculture), infrastructure development and other industries are the most common threats.
- Conservationists can use the information from this study to help inform a global conservation action plan, prioritise conservation actions at the global level, seek additional resources, and influence policy that can help reverse the negative trend for amphibians.
- The protection and restoration of amphibians is a solution to the climate crisis because of their key role in keeping carbon-storing ecosystems healthy. As a global community, it is time to invest in the future of amphibians, which is an investment in the future of our planet.
Aligning higher education with the United Nations SDGs
- Educational institutions need to reconsider their strategies to align with the National Education Policy (NEP).
- This alignment will play a pivotal role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the year 2030.
- The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) consist of 17 goals with 169 targets, aiming for global achievement by 2030. These goals are vital for addressing poverty, inequality, and environmental issues through improved living standards, education, and economic growth.
- However, as of 2023, progress toward these goals has been sluggish due to factors like COVID-19, climate crises, conflicts, and a weak global economy. This lack of progress has been more pronounced in Least Developed Countries, including India.
- India, though facing challenges, is committed to SDG realization, particularly through the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. NEP 2020 aligns with several SDGs and prioritizes higher education as it empowers individuals with skills, creativity, and critical thinking.
- Higher education leads to better employment opportunities and economic growth, aligning with multiple SDGs, including poverty reduction, gender equality, and reduced inequalities.
- Universities should strengthen the research-teaching nexus to address global challenges such as clean energy, sustainable communities, and climate change. Collaborating with private companies for innovation and introducing Value-Based Education (VBE) can further support SDG achievement.
- To accelerate progress, Indian higher education institutions should integrate SDGs into their daily operations and engage stakeholders. Universities should actively to local communities, focusing on health, resource efficiency, skill development, and collaboration with external partners.
- Incorporating SDGs into institutional strategies, both in administration and teaching/research, is essential for universities to make a meaningful impact on socio-economic development and nation-building.
Child-Centric AI Regulation: Ensuring a Safe Digital Environment
- India is set to host global AI summits in 2023, emphasizing the strategic importance of AI for the Indian Economy. The country will lead the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) in December 2023.
- However, as AI advances, there’s a pressing need for robust regulation. Children, in particular, face unique risks associated with AI, and India’s existing data protection laws may not fully address these challenges.
Key Aspects of AI Regulation:
- Safety and Reliability: Rules to prevent accidents or malfunctions, crucial in areas like autonomous vehicles and medical diagnostics.
- Ethical Considerations: Human oversight for critical areas like healthcare and finance.
- Data Privacy: Standards for handling personal data in AI applications, as seen in the EU’s GDPR.
- Transparency and Accountability: Regulations for providing transparency into algorithms.
- Export Controls: Measures to prevent sensitive AI capabilities from being misused.
- Compliance and Certification: Ensuring AI systems meet regulatory standards.
- International Cooperation: Collaborative efforts for consistent global standards.
Global AI Regulation Overview:
- EU: Drafting comprehensive AI regulation known as the Artificial Intelligence Act.
- Brazil: Developing initial AI regulation, similar to the EU’s draft AI Act.
- China: Actively regulating AI, particularly recommendation systems and synthesis technologies.
- Japan: Adopted non-binding principles and guidelines for responsible AI development.
- Canada: Introduced the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA) to regulate AI systems.
India has an opportunity to lead in policy-making for the Global South, particularly in addressing the critical demographic of children and adolescents in AI regulation.
Why Robust AI Regulation for Child Safety Matters:
- Addresses addiction, mental health, and safety concerns.
- Mitigates risks associated with data-hungry AI services targeting youth.
- Prevents body image issues, cyber threats, misinformation, and cyberbullying.
- Considers the impact of family’s online activity on children.
- Addresses deep fake vulnerabilities and biases in digital spaces.
Steps India Can Take:
- Draw from UNICEF’s guidance for child-centric AI.
- Embrace best practices like the Californian Act for transparency and assessing potential harm.
- Establish an Indian Age-Appropriate Design Code for AI.
- Leverage the upcoming Digital India Act (DIA) for enhanced child protection.
- Ensure AI platforms offer age-appropriate content and robust parental control features.
- Develop child-friendly online feedback channels for AI-related experiences.
As AI progresses swiftly, India’s regulatory efforts must focus on safeguarding the well-being and interests of its young population. This involves adopting international standards, engaging in open dialogues with children, and creating flexible regulations to establish a safe and advantageous digital space for India’s youth.
Fact for Prelims:
Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
- CTBT was negotiated at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1996.
- The Treaty intends to ban all nuclear explosions – everywhere, by everyone. It was opened for signature in 1996.
- By prohibiting nuclear test explosions, the treaty aims to impede the development and improvement of nuclear weapons.
- To enter into force, the CTBT requires ratification by 44 specific countries known as Annex 2 States, which are listed in the treaty and participated in the negotiations of the treaty in 1996.
- India, North Korea and Pakistan have not yet signed the Treaty.
- The GST regime, implemented after the passage of the Constitutional (122nd Amendment) Bill in 2016, is a major indirect tax reform in India. It consolidated taxes like excise duty, VAT, service tax, luxury tax etc.
- The GST Council is a collaborative platform involving the Central government and the states. Established by the President under Article 279A (1) of the amended Constitution, it comprises the Union Finance Minister (as chairperson), the Union Minister of State for Finance, and nominees from each state. These state nominees can be ministers in charge of finance or taxation or any other designated minister.
- As per Article 279, the Council’s role is to advise both the Union and the states on crucial GST matters, including which goods and services should be subject to or exempted from GST, as well as the formulation of model GST Laws.
- It also decides on various rate slabs of GST.
GST was introduced through the 101st Constitution Amendment Act, 2016