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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 16 February 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. India opening up the Geo-spatial sector
  2. Corruption Perception Index 2020
  3. A&N Proposed Project and Giant Leatherback turtle

INDIA OPENING UP THE GEO-SPATIAL SECTOR

Context:

  • The Ministry of Science and Technology released new guidelines for the Geo-spatial sector in India, which deregulates existing protocol and liberalises the sector to a more competitive field.
  • India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) opened access to its geospatial data and services, including maps, for all Indian entities.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance, GS-III: Science and Technology, Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is geo-spatial data?
  2. Existing Policies on Geo-spatial Data
  3. Reasons for having strict regulations in the past
  4. Current Deregulation
  5. Why was Deregulation of Geo-Spacial Data needed now?
  6. Impact of the Current Deregulation
  7. Bhuvan Portal
  8. Navigation in Indian Constellation (NavIC)

What is geo-spatial data?

Geospatial data is data about objects, events, or phenomena that have a location on the surface of the earth.

The location may be:

  1. Static in the short-term, like the location of a road, an earthquake event, malnutrition among children, or
  2. Dynamic like a moving vehicle or pedestrian, the spread of an infectious disease.

Geospatial data combines

  1. Location information,
  2. Attribute information (the characteristics of the object, event, or phenomena concerned), and also
  3. Temporal information or the time at which the location and attributes exist.

Geospatial data includes location information about natural or man-made, physical or imaginary features, whether above the ground or below, boundaries, points of interest, natural phenomena, mobility data, weather patterns, and other statistical information.

  • Geo-spatial data usually involves information of public interest such as roads, localities, rail lines, water bodies, and public amenities.
  • The past decade has seen an increase in the use of geo-spatial data in daily life with various smartphone apps related to e-commerce and delivery services or even weather apps.

Existing Policies on Geo-spatial Data

  • There are strict restrictions on the collection, storage, use, sale, and dissemination of geo-spatial data and mapping under the current regime.
  • The policy had not been renewed in decades and has been driven by internal as well as external security concerns.
  • The sector so far is dominated by the Indian government as well as government-run agencies such as the Survey of India.
  • Private companies need to navigate a system of permissions to be able to collect, create or disseminate geo-spatial data.
  • These include permissions from different government departments (depending on the kind of data to be created) as well as the defence and Home Ministries.

Reasons for having strict regulations in the past

  • Geo-spatial data was initially conceptualised as a matter solely concerned with security.
  • So, geo-spatial data collection was the prerogative of the defence forces and the government.
  • The Kargil war highlighted the dependence on foreign data and the need for indigenous sources of data.
  • With this, GIS mapping was also rudimentary, and the government invested heavily in it after the war.

Current Deregulation

  • The system of acquiring licenses or permission, and the red tape involved, can take months.
  • This delayed the projects, especially those that are in mission mode, for both Indian companies as well as government agencies.
  • The deregulation would eliminate the requirement of permissions as well as scrutiny, even for security concerns.
  • Indian companies can now self-attest, conforming to government guidelines without actually having to be monitored by a government agency.
  • More and more sectors such as agriculture, environment protection, power, water, transportation, communication, health (tracking of diseases, patients, hospitals etc) rely heavily on geo-spatial data.
  • But there is a huge lack of data in the country. This impedes planning for infrastructure, development, natural calamities as well as businesses which are data-based.
  • Given this, the mapping of the entire country, that too with high accuracy, by the Indian government alone could take decades.
  • There is thus a need to incentivise the geo-spatial sector for Indian companies and increased investment from private players in the sector.
  • There has also been a global push for open access to geo-spatial sector as it affects the lives of ordinary citizens.
  • The new guidelines have thus ensured such an open access, with the exception of sensitive defence or security-related data.
  • Large amounts of geo-spatial data are also available on global platforms. This makes the regulation of data that is freely available in other countries, untenable.

Why was Deregulation of Geo-Spacial Data needed now?

  • System of acquiring licenses or permission, and the red tape involved, took months, delaying projects, especially those that are in mission mode – for both Indian companies as well as government agencies.
  • The deregulation eliminates the requirement of permissions as well as scrutiny, even for security concerns. Indian companies now can self-attest, conforming to government guidelines without actually having to be monitored by a government agency- these guidelines therefore place a great deal of trust in Indian entities.
  • There is also a huge lack of data in the country which impedes planning for infrastructure, development and businesses which are data-based.
  • The mapping of the entire country, that too with high accuracy, by the Indian government alone could take decades.
  • The government therefore felt an urgent need to incentivise the geo-spatial sector for Indian companies and increased investment from private players in the sector.
  • Geo-spatial data has now become imperative for the government in planning for infrastructure, development, social development, natural calamities as well as the economy, with more and more sectors such as agriculture, environment protection, power, water, transportation, communication, health (tracking of diseases, patients, hospitals etc) relying heavily on this data
  • There has also been a global push for open access to geo-spatial as it affects the lives of ordinary citizens.
  • Large amounts of geo-spatial data are also available on global platforms, which makes the regulation of data that is freely available in other countries, untenable.

Impact of the Current Deregulation

  1. By liberalising the system, the government will ensure –
  • More players in the field
  • Competitiveness of Indian companies in the global market
  • More accurate data being made available to both the government (to formulate plans and administer) and an Indian individual.
  1. Startups and businesses can now also use this data in setting up their concerns.
  2. This will particularly be of help in e-commerce sector or geo-spatial based apps.
  3. This, in turn, will increase employment in these sectors.
  4. Indian companies will be able to develop indigenous apps, for example an Indian version of Google maps.
  5. There is also likely to be an increase in public-private partnerships with the opening of the sector.
  6. The government also expects an increase in investment in the geo-spatial sector by companies.
  7. There is also likely to be an increase in export of data to foreign companies and countries, which in turn will boost the economy.

Bhuvan Portal

  • Geospatial Portal “Bhuvan” is a type of web portal used to find and access geographic information (geospatial information) and associated geographic services (display, editing, analysis, etc.) via the Internet.
  • Recently, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and MapmyIndia have partnered to come up with Bhuvan in line with the new guidelines for the Geo-Spatial Sector in India.
  • Its services will reflect the true borders of the country as per the information available from Government of India.
  • By using MapmyIndia maps and applications instead of the foreign map apps, users can better protect their privacy.
  • As foreign search engines and companies claim to offer ‘free’ maps, but in reality, they make money by targeting the same users with advertising, by invading the user’s privacy and auctioning private location and movement data. However, there is no such provision of advertisement in MapmyIndia.

Navigation in Indian Constellation (NavIC)

  • Navigation in Indian Constellation (NavIC) is an Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
  • IRNSS consists of eight satellites, three satellites in geostationary orbit and five satellites in geosynchronous orbit.
  • The main objective is to provide reliable position, navigation and timing services over India and its neighbourhood.
  • It works just like the established and popular U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) but within a 1,500-km radius over the sub-continent.
  • It has been certified by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), a global body for coordinating mobile telephony standards.

-Source: The Hindu, Indian Express


CORRUPTION PERCEPTION INDEX 2020

Context:

India’s rank has slipped six places to 86th among 180 countries in a corruption perception index (CPI) in 2020.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)
  2. Highlights of Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2020
  3. Recommendations of the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)

What is the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)

  • The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is an index published annually by Berlin-based Transparency International since 1995 which ranks countries “by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys.”
  • The CPI generally defines corruption as “the misuse of public power for private benefit”.
  • A study published in 2012 found a “very strong significant correlation” between the Corruption Perceptions Index and two other proxies for corruption: black market activity and an overabundance of regulation.

Highlights of Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2020

  • CPI 2020 paints a grim picture of the state of corruption worldwide. While most countries have made little to no progress in tackling corruption in nearly a decade, more than two-thirds of countries score below 50, with an average score of just 43.
  • The top countries on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) are Denmark and New Zealand, followed by Finland, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland.
  • South Sudan and Somalia are the bottom Countries followed by Syria, Yemen and Venezuela.
  • India’s rank has slipped six places to 86th among 180 countries, India was ranked 80th out of 180 countries in 2019.
  • The highest scoring region is Western Europe and the European Union and the lowest scoring regions are Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Recommendations of the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)

  1. Strengthen oversight institutions to ensure resources reach those most in need. Anti-corruption authorities and oversight institutions must have sufficient funds, resources and independence to perform their duties
  2. Ensure open and transparent contracting to combat wrong doing, identify conflicts of interest and ensure fair pricing.
  3. Defend Democracy, Promote Civic Space by enabling civil society groups and the media to hold governments accountable.
  4. Publish relevant data and guarantee access to information to ensure the public receives easy, accessible, timely and meaningful information.

-Source: The Hindu


A&N PROPOSED PROJECT AND GIANT LEATHERBACK TURTLE

Context:

Proposals for tourism and port development in the Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands have conservationists worried over the fate of some of the most important nesting populations of the Giant Leatherback turtle in this part of the Indian Ocean.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About NITI Aayog’s megacity plan for Little Andaman
  2. About the Leatherback sea turtle
  3. Threats to the Leatherback sea turtle
  4. Significance of the Impact of NITI Aayog’s proposed project in Andaman

About NITI Aayog’s megacity plan for Little Andaman

  • A plan proposed by NITI Aayog for the sustainable and holistic development of the fragile Little Andaman Island in the Andaman and Nicobar group has raised the alarm among conservationists.
  • The ‘Sustainable Development of Little Andaman Island – Vision Document’, is the NITI Aayog’s proposal to leverage the strategic location and natural features of the island.

Click Here to read more about Little Andaman Island and NITI Aayog’s proposal for Little Andaman and Hurdles

About the Leatherback sea turtle

  • The leatherback sea turtle is the largest of all living turtles and is the fourth-heaviest modern reptile behind three crocodilians.
  • The leatherback turtle is a species with a cosmopolitan global range and is found in all tropical and subtropical oceans, and its range extends well into the Arctic Circle.
  • The species is listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as VU (Vulnerable).
  • They are also listed in Schedule I of India’s Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • While little research has been done on Dermochelys populations in the Indian Ocean, nesting populations are known from Sri Lanka and the Nicobar Islands.
  • These turtles are proposed to form a separate, genetically distinct Indian Ocean subpopulation.

Threats to the Leatherback sea turtle

  • Leatherback turtles have few natural predators once they mature; they are most vulnerable to predation in their early life stages.
  • Leatherbacks have slightly fewer human-related threats than other sea turtle species.
  • human activity still endangers leatherback turtles in direct and indirect ways. Directly, a few are caught for their meat by subsistence fisheries.
  • Nests are raided by humans in places such as Southeast Asia.
  • Light pollution is a serious threat to sea turtle hatchlings which have a strong attraction to light. Hatchlings are attracted to light because the lightest area on a natural beach is the horizon over the ocean and Human-generated light from streetlights and buildings causes hatchlings to become disoriented and crawl away from the beach.

Significance of the Impact of NITI Aayog’s proposed project in Andaman

  • Surveys conducted in the A&N Islands over the past three decades have shown that the populations here could be among the most important colonies of the Leatherback globally.
  • At least three key nesting beaches — two on Little Andaman Island and one on Great Nicobar Island — are under threat due to mega “development” plans announced in recent months.
  • The A&N Islands are prominent in the National Marine Turtle Action Plan released in 2021 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), so a plan that endangers Turtles in the islands will be unprincipled.

-Source: The Hindu

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