Contents

  1. Medical termination of pregnancy
  2. Rural poor: facing manufactured crisis
  3. Should restrictions on free speech be reviewed
  4. A troubling prescription
  5. Cybersecurity a critical challenge for India’s digital payments ecosystem
  6. AI, ML chip in to fight climate change, protect environment

MEDICAL TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY

Why in news?

Recent  Centre’s move to extend the limit of medical termination of pregnancy to 24 weeks has triggered the debate.

Why did government do so?

  • In the first five months of pregnancy, some women realize the need for an abortion very late.
  • Usually, the foetal anomaly scan is done during the 20th-21st week of pregnancy.
  • If there is a delay in doing this scan, and it reveals a lethal anomaly in the foetus, 20 weeks is limiting.
  • The question of abortion needs to be decided on the basis of human rights, the principles of solid science
  • Supreme Court judgment in Roe v. Wade, the judges held that the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy and defined viability as potentially the ability to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid.
  • “Viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks.”

RURAL POOR: FACING MANUFACTURED CRISIS

Why in news?

The National Population Register (NPR) and a possible National Register of Citizens (NRC), which will unleash a humanitarian crisis, are being pushed at a time when rural distress is acute

Consumer expenditure survey 

  • The Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES) is meant to be conducted once every five years by the National Statistical Office (NSO)
  • The CES contains details about the spending patterns of households.
  • Data collected from this becomes a vital source of information to improve economic planning and budgetary allocation.
  • However, the Central government suppressed the release of the most recent survey data from 2017-2018.
  • According to the report, leaked to and published by Business Standard, consumer spending fell for the first time in 40 years.

PLFS survey

The government had kept delaying the release of the 2017-2018 Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) data. In January 2019, the PLFS data was leaked, revealing that unemployment under the BJP-led government had reached a 45-year high.

CPI

  • Recent NSO reports suggest that Consumer Food Price Index inflation increased from 2.99% in August 2019 to more than 14% in December 2019.
  • The sharpest rise was noted in vegetable prices (more than 60%) while the price of pulses spiked by more than 15%.
  • The rise in prices might benefit some farmers, and the vegetable price rise might be seasonal, how will it impact the landless and small farmers?

Need of MGNREGA

  • As per the 2011 Socio-Economic Caste Census, 56% of the households don’t own land and around 51% of the households depend on casual manual labour for income.
  • For this segment, the MGNREGA can serve as a lifeline. However, in the last five years, the budgetary allocation for MGNREGA has been abysmal. 

Wrong focus

  • It is distressing that instead of focusing on increasing rural wages and improving the functioning and payments of MGNREGA, the BJP-led government is wasting resources on divisive policies such as the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Population Register (NPR).
  • The estimated cost of the NPR is ₹4,000 crore, an amount that can support 2.2 crore landless labourers through MGNREGA for 100 days at current wage rates.
  • since the arbitrary dilution of Article 370, according to reports of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce, Kashmir Valley has incurred losses of around ₹18,000 crore, and about 5 lakh people have lost their jobs since August 5.

SHOULD RESTRICTIONS ON FREE SPEECH BE REVIEWED

Article 19[1] and 19[2]

  • In Shreya Singhal case (2015), it is a really interesting judgment where the distinction between advocacy and incitement was really highlighted.
  • The difference between advocating a certain point of view and inciting somebody to take up arms against the government or something like that that’s when speech isn’t really afforded any protection.
  • The greatest protection of free speech will not protect a man who falsely shouts fire in a crowded theatre as a person who falsely shouts fire in a crowded theatre immediately induces panic with his words.
  • Freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 (1) of the Constitution is not an absolute right; it comes with safeguards outlined under Article 19 (2)
  • During national emergency,

A TROUBLING PRESCRIPTION

Why in news?

At a time when the novel coronavirus, 2019­nCoV, has spread to 20 countries/ regions, when the number of 2019­nCoV cases has risen to 7,711, and the number of deaths to 170 in mainland China alone, the Ministry of AYUSH has published a misleading advisory that, certain Unani, ayurvedic and Unani medicines can prevent the spread of infection.

More about medicines

  • None of the medicines mentioned in the advisory has undergone any form of clinical validation.
  • These medicines have not been tested on people infected with 2019­nCoV to study their ability to provide any kind of relief or prevent any infection.
  • Yet, the Ministry has recommended untested medicines to treat a virus about which little is known

CYBERSECURITY A CRITICAL CHALLENGE FOR INDIA’S DIGITAL PAYMENTS ECOSYSTEM

Context:

An enormous increase in the adoption and dependence on digital payments has been  observed countrywide since the adoption of demonetization.

Digital payments in India are witnessing consistent growth at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.7%, while the mobile wallet market is expected to continuously grow at a CAGR of 52.2% by volume between 2019-23

Challenges in security

  • Existing security and fraud control frameworks
  • With more and more users preferring digital payments, the chances of getting exposed to cybersecurity risks such as online fraud, information theft, and malware or virus attacks are also increasing.
  • Digital payment frauds account for about half of all bank frauds in India Securing the fintech revolution
  • Need to understand that fraudsters today are building advanced technologies that can target the digital payments ecosystem
  • Changing nature of cybersecurity attacks such as web application attack, ransomware, reconnaissance, and DDoS attack clearly establish cyber-risk as a new reality

Way out

  • Robust regulatory framework, an effective customer redressal framework, foolproof security measures to enable confidence and trust, incentives for larger participation and benefits similar to cash transactions
  • Leverage technology for making Cards which are popular methods of cashless payments secure.
  • Biometric authentication-enabled cards can provide a greater layer of security by enabling replacement of traditional PIN.
  • Though cybersecurity and digital payment fraud cases pose a great risk, the digital payment ecosystem can surely be strengthened, with Organisations, users, and the government sharing the responsibility of securing the digital payments.

AI, ML CHIP IN TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE, PROTECT ENVIRONMENT

Context:

  • Global warming-induced climate change has started taking its toll on animals, plants and even humans
  • As per a 2019 study by the British Antarctic Survey the Penguin colony at Halley Bay has almost disappeared
  • The deteriorating air quality in large cities like Delhi, particularly during winter, has serious health implications
  • As per the Centre for Science and Environment, 30% of premature deaths in India are caused by air pollution.
  • The recent bushfire in Australia killed an estimated one billion animals and has endangered more than 100 different species.

How can AI, ML help in fighting climate change?

  • By providing accurate climate predictions.
  • Helping in detecting acts of deforestation and poaching while some are creating awareness among masses.
  • ML based detector model by Princeton, US-based data science company Gramener, which can estimate the number of penguins from the images captured by multiple camera traps located across Antarctica
  • Gramener used an image dataset of penguin colonies in Antarctica that included images from more than 40 locations.
  • Another AI-driven initiative empowering environmentalists with better insights is the Elephant Listening Project, which uses acoustic sensors to listen to forest elephants in Africa.
  • The project uses ML to more accurately identify the low-frequency rumbling sounds made by elephants to communicate with each other amid sounds made by other animals.
  • Using ML to identify unique sound patterns and then using sensors to capture that data can also be very effective against illegal deforestation and poaching
  • Global warming has changed the way climate modelling is done.
  • Using AI/ML is very important as it will make things happen faster.
  • Global warming has changed the way climate modelling is done. Using AI/ML is very important as it will make things happen faster.
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