Current Affairs - Points to Ponder

INSACOG and Genome Sequencing Of corona virous

  • Recently, the government has added more laboratories to the INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genome Sequencing Consortia). In India, scientists are not worried about the origin of the mutation so much; they are more interested to find out to what extent the virus can mutate and the focus of research will be on which variant is causing what and how can the transmission be efficiently handled.
  • According to GISAID (Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data), UK, microbiologists and genome sequencing specialists have found that the B.1.617 strain is a combination of 15 mutations and its sub variant like B1.617.2 is responsible for the second wave of the pandemic in India.

Study the following points for the above topic:

  1. How genome sequencing works, research institutions in India like INSACOG, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), working parameters, nodal ministry and previous research.
  2. Know variant names and key characteristics.
Sustainable and resilient climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies

India’s climate vulnerability is very high. Some states, districts and regions show a higher frequency of natural hazards, including extreme fluctuations in weather patterns, droughts, cyclonic storms, regional micro climatic changes, etc. What changes need to be brought about in development strategy? Discuss the need and importance of investing in cost effective, environment-friendly, sustainable and climate resilient infrastructure.

Read the following points for the above topic:

  1. As per analysis of CEEW (Council on Energy, Environment and Water), higher frequency of extreme weather in the last 50 years has recorded a 12 fold increase.
  2. During this period, associated cyclonic events like extreme rainfall, floods, sea level rise and thunderstorms increased in frequency and intensity over the country.
  3. Arabian Sea cyclones and west coast cyclones have a major impact of hotter summer, warmer days and droughts.
  4. Micro climatic changes are primary reasons causing regional floods and drought in the same season.
  5. Deforestation, encroachment upon wetlands and water bodies are the main causes of changing microclimatic patterns.
  6. There is an urgent need to invest in cost effective, environment-friendly, sustainable and climate resilient infrastructure in India, particularly in climate vulnerable states at the local and regional levels.
  7. Impact of National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project 2015 for western coast and eastern coast; rules and regulations under NGT, IMD, NDRF and SDRF with emphasis on policy, schemes, programmes, constitutional provisions and SC judgments and guidelines.
Universal access to health services in India

  • India's comprehensive vision for improving universal access to health services includes a holistic approach to health and a robust multi-tier system that provides protection to the poorest citizens.

Read the following for the above topic:

  • Steps taken by the centre and the states towards improving health infrastructure, economy and condition of the vulnerable and distressed sections, particularly through digital infrastructure.
Cryptocurrencies and cybersecurity

  • Recently there was a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, one of America's largest fuel suppliers. According to media reports, the attack was carried out by an affiliate of DarkSide, a criminal hacking group. The company had to pay ransom in cryptocurrency.
  • Is cryptocurrency - based on blockchain technology - a possible future for global finance?
India’s sovereign right over tax laws and its sovereign commitment

There have been instances of judgments delivered against India by international arbitration tribunals. The judgment in one of the cases relates to India’s sovereign right over tax laws and its sovereign commitment to honour international treaties.

Read the following for the above topic:

  • Provisions of retrospective taxation (amendments of 2012) and kind of amendments required for India’s long term benefit.
  • Indian government’s stand on the judgment.
  • Impact on potential FDI, disinvestment exercise and investment atmosphere.
  • Role of international arbitration tribunals and dispute resolution mechanism.
  • Bilateral investment treaties on FDI.

Data gives us power but it creates vulnerabilities.

Read the following for the above topic:

  1. Cyberspace has been called the fifth domain after land, air, water and space. India has no single rule for protection from cyber-attacks in all five domains across all activities -military, economic, commercial, political and cultural.
  2. Recently a cyber-attack shutdown the electric grid of Mumbai. The New York Times reported it was China’s cyber-attack. China could not only fight with India in the Himalayan region but across all our activities, viz. geopolitical, economic, commercial, military, political, cultural and social also.
  3. Rogue nations and well organised digital terrorist hacker groups steal data, IP, R&D and innovation work and pry into diplomatic and strategic plans.
  4. To strengthen cyberspace operations, India needs to technologically advance with 5G technology and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Who will determine the new world order in the digital age - world’s democratic nations or techno-autocratic nations?

Read the following for the above topic:

Authoritarian nations find the freedom of cyberspace very threatening. To protect their societies from freedom and for geopolitical reasons, they use cyber weapons to attack other countries.

  1. How can protection be ensured - by the techno-autocratic nations like China, Russia, North Korea or the democratic nations like the US, Japan, India and others? What can be done with hackers if they originate from Russia, China and North Korea?
  2. To develop awareness systems about ransomware attacks (the DarkSide attack, for example), we should have developed foolproof encryption to protect national data. What do we do to address the vulnerabilities of the least developed nations (LDCs)?
  3. There is a need to fundamentally change the application of technology and law by the democratic nations.
  4. There is a need to develop more aggressive measures that identify and penalise illegal intruders into proprietary networks.
  5. Read provisions of the UN charter and international security act and bilateral agreement.
Advantages of invoking the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 in the states and the centre.

Read the following for the above topic:

  • India has been facing major problems during the pandemic with reference to real-time data collection from the states and other stakeholders. To initiate necessary policy measures, real-time analysis of collected data as well as clinical measures are most important to be able to tackle the issue and manage the epidemic within a stipulated time frame.
  • Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and role of the centre and states during pandemics.
  • Understand what are notifiable diseases and the responsibility of the government in notifying such diseases.
  • Constitutional provisions in relation to health emergencies and epidemics.
  • Mechanism of coordination and management of relations between the centre and the states during epidemics.
Jurisdiction and Authority of Supreme Court and High Courts

Read the following for the above topic:

  • Constitutional provisions regarding the jurisdiction, authority and respective roles of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
  • As per the Constitution, in matters having trans-national or international ramifications, the HCs should refrain and restrain from passing any order since the SC is best suited to deal with these issues.
  • Instances of HCs crossing their limits and passing orders having pan India ramifications.
  • HCs are constitutionally entitled to scrutinize state government actions and point out deficiencies.
Recently, the government issued directions to social media platforms under the IT Act with reference to "content against security of the state and public order."

Read the following for the above topic:

  1. Information Technology (IT) Act and the issue; content which is covered under "content against security of the state and public order" and the perspective of constitutional provisions such as freedom of speech and expression.
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