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28th November – Editorials/Opinions Analyses

Contents

  1. Tech tact
  2. Stepping out of the shadow of India’s malnutrition

TECH TACT

Context:

India’s decision on Tuesday to block another 43 Chinese mobile applications hardly comes as a surprise.

Relevance:

GS Paper 3: Basics of Cyber Security; Role of media and social-networking sites in internal security challenges; Internal security challenges through communication networks.

Mains Questions:

  1. Discuss the potential threats of Cyber-attack and the security framework to prevent it. 15 Marks
  2. India must stick to a rules-based approach in regulating the Internet. Critically Discuss. 15 marks

Dimensions:

  • What is cyber security?
  • Rationale behind blocking Chinese Mobile Applications
  • Why Cyber security is needed?
  • Challenges to Cyber security
  • Measures taken by the government to improve the cyber security
  • Way forward

What is Cyber Security?

Cybersecurity means securing the cyberspace from attack, damage, misuse and economic espionage. Cyberspace is a global domain within the information environment consisting of interdependent IT infrastructure such as Internet, Telecom networks, computer systems etc.

All About Cyber Security In India

Rationale behind blocking Chinese Mobile Applications

  • China’s version of the Internet is tightly controlled and heavily censored, and has been so for years Thus it creates cyber threats to India.
  • These apps have been engaging in activities “which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”.
  • There have been reports that the data handled by the banned apps, its compilation, mining and profiling is hostile to national security, integrity and defense of India.
  • There have been reports of the misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.
  • These are banned to safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users and is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.

Why Cyber Security is needed?

  • Government’s digital push: Various programs of government such as Aadhaar, MyGov, Government eMarket, DigiLocker, Bharat Net etc. is prompting a larger number of citizens, companies and government agencies to transact online.
  • Start-ups digital push: India is the third largest hub for technology-driven start-ups in the world and its ICT sector is estimated to reach $225 billion landmark by 2020.
  • Increasing vulnerability: India the fifth most vulnerable country in the world in terms of cybersecurity breaches. India saw at least one cybercrime every 10 minutes during the first half of 2017 including more sophisticated cyber threats such as the WannaCry and Petya ransomware. The country accounted for 5.09 per cent of all cyberattacks such as malware, spam and phishing attacks detected globally in 2017.
  • Increasing cost: The estimated cost of cyber-attacks in India stands at four billion dollars which is expected to reach $20 billion in the next 10 years.
  • Increasing internet users: India ranks 3rd in terms of number of internet users after USA and China. By 2020, India is expected to have 730 million internet users with 75% of new users from rural areas.
  • Increasing online transactions: For e.g.: by 2020, 50% of travel transactions will be online and 70% of ecommerce transactions will be via mobile.

Challenges of Cyber Security in India

  • Data colonization: India is net exporter of information however data servers of majority of digital service providers are located outside India. Also, data is being misused for influencing electoral outcomes, spread of radicalism etc.
  • Widespread Digital illiteracy makes Indian citizens highly susceptible to cyber fraud, cyber theft, etc.
  • Substandard devices: In India, majority of devices used to access internet have inadequate security infrastructure making them susceptible to malwares such as recently detected ‘Saposhi’. Also, rampant use of unlicensed software and underpaid licenses make them vulnerable as well.
  • Lack of adoption of new technology: For Eg-Banking infrastructure is not robust to cop-up with rising digital crime as 75% of total Credit and Debit card are based on magnetic strip which are easy to be cloned.
  • Lack of uniform standards: There are variety of devices used with non-uniform standards which makes it difficult to provide for a uniform security protocol.
  • Import dependence for majority of electronic devices from cell phones to equipment’s used in power sector, defence, banking, communication and other critical infrastructure put India into a vulnerable situation.
  • Lack of adequate infrastructure and trained staff: There are currently around 30,000 cyber security vacancies in India but demand far outstrips supply of people with required skills.
  • Under-reporting: majority of cases of cybercrime remains unreported because of lack of awareness.
  • Lack of coordination among various agencies working for cyber security. Private sector, despite being a major stakeholder in the cyberspace, has not been involved proactively for the security of the same.
  • Anonymity: Even advanced precision threats carried out by hackers is difficult to attribute to specific actors, state or nonstate.

Measures taken by the government to improve the Cyber Security

  • National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) to battle cyber security threats in strategic areas such as air control, nuclear and space. It will function under the National Technical Research Organisation, a technical intelligence gathering agency controlled directly by the National Security Adviser in PMO.
  • National cyber coordination centre (NCCC) to scan internet traffic coming into the country and provide real time situational awareness and alert various security agencies.
  • A new Cyber and Information Security (CIS) Division has been created to tackle internet crimes such as cyber threats, child pornography and online stalking.
  • Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative to strengthen Cybersecurity ecosystem in India. It is first public private partnership of its kind and will leverage the expertise of the IT industry in cybersecurity.
  • Information Technology Act, 2000 (amended in 2008) to provide a legal framework for transactions carried out by means of electronic data interchange, for data access for cybersecurity etc.

Way Forward

Cybersecurity is an increasingly important part of our life today, and the degree of interconnectivity of networks implies that anything and everything can be exposed, and everything from national critical infrastructure to our basic human rights can be compromised. Governments are therefore urged to consider policies that support continued growth in technology sophistication, access and security, and as a crucial first step, to adopt a national cybersecurity strategy.

Background

1: About Budapest convention on cybercrime

  • This convention of the council of Europe is the only binding international instrument on this issue that addresses Internet and computer crime by harmonizing national laws, improving legal authorities for investigative techniques, and increasing cooperation among nations.
  • It deals with issues such as infringements of copyright, computer-related fraud, child pornography and violations of network security.
  • It aims to pursue a common criminal policy, especially by adopting appropriate legislation and fostering international police as well as judicial co-operation.
  • It is supplemented by a “Protocol on Xenophobia and Racism” committed through computer systems
  • The Convention has 56 members, including the US and the UK. India is not yet a member.

STEPPING OUT OF THE SHADOW OF INDIA’S MALNUTRITION

Context:

Two recent reports — the annual report on “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020” by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and the 2020 Hunger report, “Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow” by the Bread for the World Institute– document staggering facts about Indian food insecurity and malnutrition.

Relevance:

GS Paper 2:  Poverty and hunger issues

Mains Questions

  1. How far do you agree with the view that the focus on lack or availability of food as the main cause of hunger takes the attention away from ineffective human development policies in India? 15 marks

Dimensions of the Article

  • Status of Undernourishment in India
  • Triple burden of Malnutrition
  • Causes of triple burden of Malnutrition
  • Measures to address malnutrition in India
  • Way Forward

Status of Undernourishment

  • Using two globally recognised indicators, namely, the Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU) and the Prevalence of Moderate or Severe Food Insecurity (PMSFI), these two reports indicate India to be one of the most food-insecure countries, with the highest rates of stunting and wasting among other South Asian countries.
    • The PoU measures the percentage of people who are consuming insufficient calories than their required minimum dietary energy requirement.
    • The PMSFI identifies the percentage of people who live in households that are severely or moderately food insecure.
  • The reduction in poverty has been substantial going by official estimates available till 2011-12. However, malnutrition has not declined as much as the decline has occurred in terms of poverty.

Triple burden of Malnutrition

  • Undernutrition
    • Stunting: Children are defined as stunted if their height-for-age is below the WHO Child Growth Standards median. It is a clear sign that children in a country are not developing well – is both a symptom of past deprivation and a predictor of future poverty.
    • Wasting: Low weight-for-height indicates in most cases with acute starvation and/or severe disease. Contrary to common belief, most wasted children around the world live in Asia and not in emergency settings.
  • Hidden hunger is a lack of vitamins and minerals which harms children and women. Iron deficiency reduces children’s ability to learn and iron deficiency anaemia increases women’s risk of death during or shortly after childbirth.
  • Child overweight can lead to early onset of type-2 diabetes, stigmatization and depression, and is a strong predictor of adult obesity, with serious health and economic consequences.
Part I]: 1 METRICS FOR FOOD INSECURITY AND MALNUTRITION | A Sustainability  Challenge: Food Security for All: Report of Two Workshops | The National  Academies Press

Causes of triple burden of Malnutrition

  • Broken Food systems: Food systems (all the elements and activities involved in the production, processing, distribution, preparation and consumption of food) are failing to provide children with the diets they need to grow healthy.
  • Globalization is shaping food options and choices: 77% of processed food sales worldwide are controlled by just 100 large firms.
  • Urbanization: In cities, many poor children live in ‘food deserts’, facing an absence of healthy food options, or in ‘food swamps’, confronted with an abundance of high-calorie, low-nutrient, processed foods.
  • Poverty: Poor families tend to select low-quality food that costs less. Because of poverty and exclusion, the most disadvantaged children face the greatest risk of all forms of malnutrition.
  • Climate shocks, loss of biodiversity, and damage to water, air and soil are worsening the nutritional prospects of millions of children and young people, especially among the poor
  • Despite the National Food Security Act – 2013 ensuring every citizen “access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices”, two crucial elements that still got left out are the non-inclusion of nutritious food items such as pulses and exclusion of potential beneficiaries.

Measures to address malnutrition in India

  • Empower families, children and young people to demand nutritious food: Stimulating demand for nutritious foods means not only educating consumers on the benefits of healthy diets, but also leveraging cultural and social aspirations.
  • Drive food suppliers to do the right thing for children: Demand alone is not enough; healthy food must be available, affordable, safe and convenient. Governments must create a level playing field for all producers and suppliers and help ensure that their actions align with children’s best interests.
  • Build healthy food environments for all children: The personal and external food environments are where children and their caregivers interact with the food system. While the forces of supply and demand shape food environments, context-appropriate actions such as mandatory front-of-pack labelling and protection against exploitative marketing practices can help create food environments that are conducive to nutritious diets for children.
  • Mobilize supportive systems to scale up nutrition results for every child: As well as food systems, four other key systems must be mobilized to deliver nutrition services, improve nutrition practices and achieve nutrition outcomes at scale.
    • The health; water and sanitation; education; and social protection systems must all deliver interventions in a coordinated fashion.
    • A systems approach to children’s nutrition can help ensure that children and families have access to healthy diets and that children receive the nutrition services they need to develop to their full potential.
  • Collect, analyse and use good-quality data and evidence regularly to guide action and track progress: Data collection methods and frequency must be transformed to expand what we know about the diets and nutrition of children, adolescents and women at every stage of life. Data systems must become responsive and a culture of data-sharing and transparency must be developed.

Way Forward

Hence, a major shift in policy has to encompass the immediate universalisation of the Public Distribution System which should definitely not be temporary in nature, along with the distribution of quality food items and innovative interventions such as the setting up of community kitchens among other things.

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