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Current Affairs 01 December 2022

CONTENTS

  1. Ransomware Attacks
  2. Great Indian Bustard
  3. Maternal Mortality Ratio
  4. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin)
  5. Avian flu
  6. PR23: A perennial rice variety developed by China
  7. YUDH ABHYAS 22

Ransomware Attacks


Context:

Recently, e-services at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) were crippled by what is being suspected to be a ransomware attack.

Relevance:

GS III: Security Challenges

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is ransomware?
  2. What is Cyber Attack and Cyber Security?
  3. What are other similar types of Cyber Attacks?

 What is ransomware?

  • Ransomware is a type of malicious software, used by cyber criminals, to infect a computer system by blocking access to the stored data by encrypting the files.
  • A ransom is then demanded from the owner in exchange for the decryption key.
  • While it is not yet clear as to how exactly the AIIMS computer systems were targeted, the malware may usually be injected remotely by tricking the user into downloading it upon clicking an ostensibly safe web link sent via email or other means, including hacking.
  • It can spread throughout the network by exploiting existing vulnerabilities. Ransomware attacks can also be accompanied by theft of sensitive data for other sinister motives.

What is Cyber Attack and Cyber Security?

  • Cyber attack is an assault launched by cybercriminals using one or more computers against a single or multiple computers or networks. A Cyber Attack can maliciously disable computers, steal data, or use a breached computer as a launch point for other attacks. Cybercriminals use a variety of methods to launch a Cyber Attack, including malware, phishing, ransomware, denial of service, among other methods.
  • 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.

What are other similar types of Cyber Attacks?

  • Viruses which are the most commonly-known form of malware and potentially the most destructive. They can do anything from erasing the data on your computer to hijacking your computer to attack other systems, send spam, or host and share illegal content.
  • Worm is a type of malware that spreads copies of itself from computer to computer which can replicate itself without any human interaction, and it does not need to attach itself to a software program in order to cause damage.
  • Trojan is a type of malware that is often disguised as legitimate software which can be employed by cyber-thieves and hackers trying to gain access to users’ systems.
  • Spyware collects your personal information and passes it on to interested third parties without your knowledge or consent. Spyware is also known for installing Trojan viruses.
  • Adware displays pop-up advertisements when you are online.
  • Fake security software poses as legitimate software to trick you into opening your system to further infection, providing personal information, or paying for unnecessary or even damaging “clean ups”.
  • Browser hijacking software changes your browser settings (such as your home page and toolbars), displays pop-up ads and creates new desktop shortcuts. It can also relay your personal preferences to interested third parties.

Which agencies in India deal with cyber-attacks?

  • Set up in 2004, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) is the national nodal agency that collects, analyses and circulates inputs on cyber-attacks; issues guidelines, advisories for preventive measures, forecasts and issues alerts; and takes measures to handle any significant cyber security event.
  • It also imparts training to computer system managers.
  • The National Cyber Security Coordinator, under the National Security Council Secretariat, coordinates with different agencies at the national level on cybersecurity issues, while the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre has been set up for the protection of national critical information infrastructure.
  • According to the government, the Cyber Swachhta Kendra (Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre) has been launched for detection of malicious software programmes and to provide free tools to remove the same, while the National Cyber Coordination Centre works on creating awareness about existing and potential threats.

-Source: The Hindu


Great Indian Bustard


Context:

The Supreme Court sought the government’s response about evolving a “Project Great Indian Bustard” conservation programme like the Project Tiger to bring attention to the peril faced by the critically endangered bird.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Species in News, Conservation of Biodiversity)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Great Indian Bustard
  2. About the Habitat of Great Indian Bustard
  3. On the brink of extinction
  4. Project Tiger

About the Great Indian Bustard

  • The Great Indian Bustard is one of the heaviest flying birds in the world often found associated in the same habitat as blackbuck.
  • GIBs are the largest among the four bustard species found in India, the other three being MacQueen’s bustard, lesser florican and the Bengal florican.
  • The GIB is Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, and comes under the Appendix I of CITES, and Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Threats to the GIB include widespread hunting for sport and food, and activities such as mining, stone quarrying, excess use of pesticides, grassland conversion and power projects along with the expansion of roads and infrastructures such as wind-turbines and power cables.

About the Habitat of Great Indian Bustard

  • The Great Indian Bustard’s habitat includes Arid and semi-arid grasslands with scattered short scrub, bushes and low intensity cultivation in flat or gently undulating terrain. It avoids irrigated areas.
  • GIBs’ historic range included much of the Indian sub-continent but it has now shrunken to just 10 per cent of it.
  • Among the heaviest birds with flight, GIBs prefer grasslands as their habitats. Being terrestrial birds, they spend most of their time on the ground with occasional flights to go from one part of their habitat to the other.
  • GIBs are considered the flagship bird species of grassland and hence barometers of the health of grassland ecosystems.
  • They feed on insects, lizards, grass seeds etc.
On the brink of extinction
  • In 2020, the Central government had told the 13th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) held in Gandhinagar, that the GIB population in India had fallen to just 150.
  • Of the 150 birds in 2020, over 120 birds were in Rajasthan, some were in Kutch district of Gujarat and a few in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Pakistan is also believed to host a few GIBs.
  • Due to the species’ smaller population size, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has categorised GIBs as critically endangered, thus on the brink of extinction from the wild.
  • Scientists of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) have been pointing out overhead power transmission lines as the biggest threat to the GIBs.

Project Tiger

  • Project Tiger is a tiger conservation programme launched in April 1973 by the Government of India.
  • The project aims at ensuring a viable population of Bengal tigers in their natural habitats, protecting them from extinction, and preserving areas of biological importance as a natural heritage forever represented as close as possible the diversity of ecosystems across the distribution of tigers in the country.
  • The project’s task force visualized these tiger reserves as breeding nuclei, from which surplus animals would migrate to adjacent forests. Funds and commitment were mastered to support the intensive program of habitat protection and rehabilitation under the project.
  • The government has set up a Tiger Protection Force to combat poachers and funded relocation of villagers to minimize human-tiger conflicts.

-Source: The Hindu


Maternal Mortality Ratio


Context:

Maternal Mortality Ratio has declined from 130 per lakh live births in 2014-16 to 97 per lakh live births in 2018-20, according to a special bulletin released by the office of the Registrar General of India.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues Related to Women and Children, Health related issues)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Maternal Mortality Ratio?
  2. Recent decrease in MMR and its reasons

What is Maternal Mortality Ratio?

  • Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) is the annual number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
  • According to World Health Organization, “Maternal death is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes.”
  • It is a key performance indicator for efforts to improve the health and safety of mothers before, during, and after childbirth.

Recent decrease in MMR and its reasons

  • As per the statistics derived from Sample Registration System (SRS), the country has witnessed a progressive reduction in MMR from 130 in 2014-2016, 122 in 2015-17, 113 in 2016-18, 103 in 2017-19 and to 97 in 2018-20, respectively.
  • Upon achieving this, India has accomplished the National Health Policy (NHP) target for MMR of less than 100/lakh live births and is on the right track to achieve the SDG target of MMR less than 70/ lakh live births by 2030
  • Assam, which has the highest MMR, is followed by Madhya Pradesh with MMR of 173 per lakh live births and Uttar Pradesh 167.
  • Kerala, which has the lowest MMR, is followed by Maharashtra 33 and Telangana 43, the data revealed.
Reasons for Declining MMR:
  • Focus on quality and coverage of health services through public health initiatives have contributed majorly to the decline. Some of these initiatives are:
    • LaQshya,
    • Poshan Abhiyan,
    • Janani Suraksha Yojana,
    • Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan
    • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana,
  • The implementation of the Aspirational District Programme and inter-sectoral action has helped to reach the most marginalized and vulnerable population.
  • Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan Initiative (SUMAN) especially focuses on zero preventable maternal and newborn deaths.

-Source: Live mint


Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin)


Context:

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant-Governor revealed that close to one lakh houses for the poor have been completed against the target of two lakh in the Union Territory, as he transferred installments to the beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G).

Relevance:

GS II- Welfare Schemes

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana
  2. Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G)
  3. What are the reasons for delay?

About Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana

  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Launched on 25th June 2015) is an initiative by Government of India in which affordable housing will be provided to the urban poor with a target of building 20 million affordable houses by 31 March 2022.
  • It has two components i.e. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) (PMAY-U) for the urban poor and Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Gramin) (PMAY-G and also PMAY-R) for the rural poor.
  • This scheme is converged with other schemes to ensure houses have a toilet, Saubhagya Yojana electricity connection, Ujjwala Yojana LPG gas connection, access to drinking water and Jan Dhan banking facilities, etc.
  • The houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana would be constructed through a technology that is eco-friendly, while allotting ground floors in any housing scheme under PMAY, preference will be given to differently abled and older persons.
  • 3 Phases of PMAY envisage starting and completing the house construction work  i.e. Phase I (2015-2017), Phase II (2017-2019), and Phase III (2019-2022).

Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G)

Nodal :  Ministry of Rural Development

  • The Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G) was launched to achieve the objective of “Housing for All” by 2022. The erstwhile rural housing scheme Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) was restructured to Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G).
  • It will be implemented in rural areas across the country except Delhi and Chandigarh
  • PMAY-G aims to provide a pucca house with basic amenities to all rural families, who are homeless or living in kutcha or dilapidated houses by the end of March 2022 and also to help rural people Below the Poverty Line (BPL) in construction of dwelling units and upgradation of existing unserviceable kutcha houses by providing assistance in the form of a full grant.
  • People belonging to SCs/STs, freed bonded labourers and non-SC/ST categories, widows or next-of-kin of defence personnel killed in action, ex-servicemen and retired members of the paramilitary forces, disabled persons and minorities will be the target beneficiaries of the PMAY-G.
  • Selection of beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G) is based on housing deprivation parameters of Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC), 2011, subject to 13 point exclusion criteria, followed by Gram Sabha verification
  • The cost of unit assistance is shared between Central and State Governments in the ratio 60:40 in plain areas and 90:10 for North Eastern and hilly states.

-Source: The Hindu


Avian Flu


Context:

Rapid Response Teams (RRT) of the Animal Husbandry department (AHD) in Kerala on Wednesday culled 8,380 birds at avian flu-hit Purakkad and Karuvatta in Alappuzha.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Bird Flu
  2. Mode of transmission

About Bird Flu

  • Bird flu, also known as Avian influenza (AI), is a highly contagious viral disease affecting several species of food-producing birds (chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, etc.) as well as pet birds and wild birds.
  • Occasionally mammals, including humans, may contract avian influenza.
  • Avian Influenza outbreaks can lead to devastating consequences for the country, particularly the poultry industry.
  • Farmers might experience a high level of mortality in their flocks, with rates often around 50%.
  • Strict biosecurity measures and good hygiene are essential in protecting against disease outbreaks.
  • If the infection is detected in animals, a policy of culling infected and contact animals is normally used in an effort to rapidly contain, control and eradicate the disease.

Mode of transmission:

  • Avian influenza is most often spread by contact between infected and healthy birds, though can also be spread indirectly through contaminated equipment.
  • The virus is found in secretions from the nostrils, mouth, and eyes of infected birds as well as their droppings.
  • Though the virus can spread through airborne secretions, the disease itself is not an airborne disease.
  • Human to Human transmission:
  • In its present form, human-to-human infection is not known — human infections have been reported only among people who have handled infected birds or carcasses.

-Source: The Hindu


PR23: A Perennial Rice Variety Developed By China


Context:

Farmers in China are now growing a perennial variety of rice called PR 22 which does not need to be planted every year.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is PR23?
  2. Significance

What is PR23?

  • Researchers at the Yunnan University have developed a variety of perennial rice named PR23 by cross-breeding regular annual rice Oryza sativa with a wild perennial variety from Africa.
  • Unlike regular rice which is planted every season, PR23 can yield eight consecutive harvests across four years (as these plants with stronger roots grow back vigorously after each harvest).
  • PR23 yields, reported at 8 tons per hectare, are comparable to regular irrigated rice.
  • But growing it is much cheaper since it requires less labour, seeds and chemical inputs.
Benefits
  • In addition to increasing the amount of water available to plants, it can produce extraordinary environmental benefits such soils storing up to a tonne of organic carbon (per hectare per year).
  • Farmers favoured it because it reduced labour expenses by 58% and other input expenditures by 49% over each cycle of regrowth.
  • According to the researchers, it can change farming by strengthening soil quality, improving lives, and spurring research on other grains.
  • The innovation could revolutionise rice production by making it more environmentally friendly and requiring less labour and other resources.

Significance for India

  • India is the world’s second largest rice producer, after China, and the largest exporter with a 40% share in global trade.
  • It is grown during both summer and winter crop seasons.
  • Perennial rice can reduce the drudgery of annual trans-plantation, a back-breaking task, and generate savings on seeds and other inputs.
  • China’s early success has another lesson for India: to raise investments in public research and agricultural sciences.
  • This can help counter the impact of climate change on food security and rural incomes.

-Source: The Hindu


YUDH ABHYAS 22


Context:

Recently, China said it had expressed its concern to India over the joint India-U.S. military exercise, Yudh Abhyas, being conducted in Uttarakhand, about 100 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Relevance:

GS III: Security challenges

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Yudh Abhyas 2022
  2. Significance

About Yudh Abhyas 2022

  • Exercise Yudh Abhyas is conducted annually between India and USA with the aim of exchanging best practices, Tactics, Techniques and Procedures between the Armies of the two nations.
  • The previous edition of the exercise was conducted at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Alaska (USA) in October 2021.
  • The schedule will include all operations related to peace keeping & peace enforcement.
  • The troops from both nations will work together to achieve common objectives. 
  • The joint exercise will also focus on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.
  • Troops from both nations will practice launching of swift & coordinated relief efforts in the wake of any natural calamity.
  • In order to derive full benefit from the professional skills & experiences of  both the armies, a Command Post Exercise and Expert Academic Discussions (EAD) on carefully selected topics will be carried out.
  • The scope of the Field Training Exercise includes validation of integrated battle groups, force multipliers, establishment and functioning of surveillance grids, validation of operational logistics, mountain warfare skills, casualty evacuation  and combat medical aid in adverse terrain and climatic conditions.
Significance:
  • The exercise will involve exchanges and practices on a wide spectrum of combat skills including combat engineering, employment of UAS/Counter UAS techniques and information operations
  • The exercise will facilitate both Armies to share their wide experiences, skills and enhance their techniques through information exchange.

-Source: The Hindu


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