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Current Affairs 02 August 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Press and Registration of Periodicals (PRP) Bill 2023
  2. ISRO rocket debris on Australian shore
  3. Electric vehicles
  4. Railway Protection Force
  5. Post Quantum Cryptography
  6. MP Local Area Development Scheme
  7. Worldcoin Project
  8. Bhojpatra Tree

Press and Registration of Periodicals (PRP) Bill 2023


Context:

The Union Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister introduced the Press and Registration of Periodicals (PRP) Bill 2023 in the Rajya Sabha.

  • The Bill seeks to replace the existing Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act 1867, which governs the registration of print and publishing industry in the country.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867
  2. Salient Provisions of the PRB Bill 2023
  3. Significance of the PRP Bill 2023

The Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867:

Aim and Scope:

  • The PRB Act, 1867, serves to regulate the printing press and newspapers in India.
  • It also mandates the preservation of copies of books and newspapers printed in India.
  • The Act provides for the registration of books and newspapers.

Inclusion and Exclusion:

  • The definition of ‘Book’ under the Act includes pamphlets, sheets of music, maps, charts, etc.
  • Notably, electronic media falls outside the purview of this Act, as established in the case of Sanjay Pinto v. A. Kamaraj, 2011.

Salient Provisions of the PRB Bill 2023:

  • Simplified Registration Process: The PRB Bill 2023 aims to streamline the registration process for periodicals, making it more accessible and straightforward for publishers.
  • One-Time Registration for Digital News Platforms: Digital news platforms will be required to undergo a “one-time registration” to operate legally, ensuring better regulation and accountability in the digital media space.
  • Empowerment of Press Registrar General (PRG): The Bill grants authority to the PRG to suspend or cancel registrations, giving them the power to enforce compliance and take necessary actions against non-compliant publishers.
  • Prohibition for Convicted Individuals: Individuals who have been convicted of offences related to terrorist acts, unlawful activities, or activities against the security of the state will be barred from publishing periodicals, ensuring the integrity of the publishing sector.
  • Single Online Intimation: The requirement for publishers and printers to file declarations before the district magistrate (DM) is eliminated, and a single online intimation will be introduced to both the PRG and DM, simplifying the reporting process.
  • Reduced Punishment for Improper Declaration: The PRB Bill reduces the severity of punishment for improper declaration of information by publishers. Jail sentences will be limited to cases where a periodical is published without a registration certificate, and the publisher fails to cease printing despite a six-month directive from the PRG.
  • Appellate Authority: The Bill establishes the Press and Registration Appellate Board, consisting of the chairperson of the Press Council of India (PCI) and two PCI members. This authority will hear appeals related to registration refusals, penalties, and suspension or cancellation of registration imposed by the PRG.

Significance of the PRP Bill 2023:

  • Transparency and Ease of Doing Business: The PRP Bill 2023 aims to simplify the registration process for periodicals, providing a more straightforward and efficient mechanism. This will particularly benefit small and medium publishers, promoting transparency and ease of doing business in the publishing sector.
  • Regulation of Digital News Media: By bringing digital news platforms under its purview, the PRP Bill 2023 addresses the gap in regulation for these platforms. It aims to combat the spread of fake news and misinformation by subjecting digital news apps, websites, and social media accounts to the registration process.
  • Covering Digital News Platforms: Currently, traditional print and electronic media are governed by various laws, while digital news platforms lack a registration process. The PRP Bill, along with the IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, makes it mandatory for digital news platforms to register with the government, ensuring a more comprehensive and regulated media landscape.
  • Focus on Core Subject: The PRP Bill has a focused approach, concentrating on periodicals and digital news media, while books have been taken out of its purview. Books are now administered by the Ministry of Education, allowing the PRP Bill to concentrate on its core objective.
  • Decriminalization: Compared to the PRB Act 1867, the PRP Bill significantly reduces criminal provisions. By limiting jail sentences to specific cases of non-compliance, the Bill decriminalizes the publishing process, making it less punitive for publishers. This shift aims to promote a more progressive and conducive environment for the publishing industry.

Source: Indian Express


ISRO rocket debris on Australian shore


Context:

A large object found on the shores of western Australia a couple of weeks ago has been confirmed to be the debris of an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) rocket.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. ISRO’s Findings on the Unidentified Object
  2. Associated Dangers of Falling Space Junk
  3. Regulatory Framework

ISRO’s Findings on the Unidentified Object

  • ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) suggests that the washed-up object is likely an unburnt part of the PSLV rocket used to launch a navigation satellite for the IRNSS constellation two months ago.
  • The satellite was launched in the southward direction, and it is possible that during re-entry into the atmosphere, one of the rocket’s parts did not burn completely, eventually falling into the ocean and later washing up on the Australian shore.
  • ISRO has not yet determined its future course of action regarding the object.
Previous Incidents of Falling Space Debris
  • Instances of space debris falling to Earth are not uncommon.
  • Such incidents often involve relatively small fragments from rockets that survive atmospheric friction.
  • In November 2022, large fragments of China’s Long March 5B rocket fell uncontrolled into the south-central Pacific Ocean. These fragments were stages of the rocket used to deliver the third and final module of the Tiangong space station.
  • In May 2021, a large chunk of a 25-tonne Chinese rocket fell into the Indian Ocean.

Associated Dangers of Falling Space Junk

  • Falling space junk poses a potential threat to life and property.
  • Even when falling into the oceans (which is more likely given that 70% of the Earth’s surface is ocean), large objects can be hazardous to marine life and contribute to pollution.
  • There have been no reported incidents of these falling objects causing significant damage anywhere on Earth.
  • However, when space debris has dropped over land, it has been over uninhabited areas.
  • The lack of a system to ensure designated landing places for these space junks is a cause for concern.

Regulatory Framework

Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects
  • Most space-faring countries are signatories to this convention.
  • It holds the launching country absolutely liable to pay compensation for damage caused by its space objects on Earth or to other space assets.
  • The country affected by falling space junk can claim compensation for any damages incurred.
  • The compensation amount is determined based on international law and principles of justice and equity.
Outer Space Treaty
  • Adopted by the United Nations in 1967, it emphasizes the peaceful use of outer space and prohibits the placement of nuclear weapons in space.
  • It addresses space debris and the safe return of space objects to Earth.
  • Provisions include:
    • Ensuring space activities benefit all humanity and avoid harm caused by space debris falling back to Earth.
    • Preventing harmful contamination and studying outer space responsibly.
    • Avoiding damage to celestial bodies like the Moon.
    • Launching countries’ responsibility for space objects and their safe return or disposal.
    • Consultation between countries for safety concerns related to space activities, including space debris.
Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines of COPUOS
  • While the Outer Space Treaty sets principles, it lacks specific regulations for space debris management.
  • The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) developed nonbinding Debris Mitigation Guidelines in 2007 to address space debris mitigation and safe disposal of space objects.

Source: Indian Express


Electric vehicles


Context:

A crucial element of the world’s transition to becoming net-zero is electric vehicles (EVs). However, hybrid electric vehicles (EVs) present a big opportunity for economically developing countries to begin the transition instead of waiting.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Electric Vehicles (EVs)
  2. Types of EVs
  3. EV Sales in India
  4. Major Schemes/Initiatives for Promoting EVs in India

Electric Vehicles (EVs):

  • An electric vehicle uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion.
  • It can be powered by self-contained batteries, solar panels, or an electric generator.
Origin and Increasing Scope in India:
  • The push for EVs is driven by global climate agendas, such as the Paris Agreement, which aims to reduce carbon emissions and limit global warming.
  • The global adoption of EVs has been rapidly increasing.
  • In 2020, around 2.1 million EVs were sold worldwide, and the global EV fleet reached 8.0 million.
  • Falling battery costs and improved performance efficiency are contributing to the growing demand for EVs.
Types of EVs:
  • Hybrid EVs (HEVs): These vehicles combine a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) with an electric propulsion system, resulting in lower fuel usage. Example: Toyota Hyryder in India.
  • Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs): PHEVs have a hybrid drivetrain that uses both an ICE and electric power. They can be charged by plugging into a power source. Example: Chevrolet Volt.
  • Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs): BEVs run solely on electric power and do not have an ICE or fuel tank. They are powered by rechargeable batteries. Example: Tata Nexon in India, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model S.
  • Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs): FCVs use hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, with water being the only byproduct. Example: Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity.
EV Sales in India:
  • Over the past three years, there has been a remarkable growth of over 2,218% in EV sales in India.
  • Currently, EVs make up around 5% of total vehicle sales in the country.
  • In the 2022-23 fiscal year, cumulative sales of EVs in India exceeded 1 million units for the first time.
  • Two-wheelers account for more than 60% of all EV sales in India.
  • The government has set ambitious targets for EV sales by 2030, aiming for 30% of private cars, 70% of commercial vehicles, and 80% of two and three-wheelers to be electric.
  • The promotion of e-mobility in India aligns with the objectives of reducing emissions and decreasing reliance on costly fuel imports.

Major Schemes/Initiatives for Promoting EVs in India:

  • National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMPP) 2020: Launched in 2013 with targets for electric vehicle adoption and reduction of oil imports and CO2 emissions.
  • Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles in India (FAME India) scheme: Launched in 2015 to promote the manufacturing and adoption of electric and hybrid vehicle technology through subsidies.
  • Production-linked incentive (PLI) Scheme – National Programme on Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) Battery Storage: Aims to boost the domestic manufacturing of advanced chemistry cell batteries for electric vehicles.
  • Go Electric Campaign: Launched to raise awareness about the benefits of electric mobility and inform potential EV owners about government incentives.

Source: The Hindu


Railway Protection Force


Context:

A constable of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) allegedly shot and killed four people on board the Mumbai-bound 12956 Jaipur-Mumbai Superfast Express. Later, the accused was arrested by Government Railway Police (GRP).

Relevance:

GS II: Security Challenges

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Railway Protection Force (RPF)
  2. Government Railway Police (GRP)
  3. Challenges in the Current System

Railway Protection Force (RPF)

  • The RPF is an armed force under the control of the Union Ministry of Railways.
  • Its primary role is to protect railway property, passenger areas, and ensure the safety of passengers.
  • It was established through The Railway Protection Force Act, 1957, with subsequent amendments in 1985.
Function and Area of Operation
  • The force consists of over 74,000 personnel, distributed across the country.
  • Its area of operation covers the extensive railway network of more than 63,000 kilometers.
  • With millions of passengers and tons of freight transported daily, RPF plays a crucial role in securing this vital transportation system.
Origin and Reasons for Creation
  • The RPF’s origins can be traced back to the ‘Watch and Ward’ system of private railway companies during British rule.
  • In 1954, a committee recommended reorganizing the ‘Watch and Ward’ into a statutory body, leading to the formation of the RPF.
  • The force was created to address security issues faced by railway passengers, including concerns about personal safety and property theft during rail journeys.
  • Additionally, the fear of terrorist activities, such as attacks on tracks and trains, further highlighted the need for a specialized railway security force.
  • Law and order problems like unscheduled stoppages, delays due to demonstrations, and protests also contributed to the decision to create the RPF.

Government Railway Police (GRP)

  • The GRP operates under the district police force and is accountable to the state government.
  • It works in collaboration with the RPF and ideally complements and strengthens its operations.
Functions
  • The primary responsibility of the Government Railway Police is the prevention and detection of crime on railways.
  • However, they are not tasked with protecting railway property. This duty falls under the jurisdiction of the Railway Protection Force (RPF).
  • GRP’s functions include maintaining order at railway stations and in trains, especially those halted at stations.
  • They ensure prevention of overcrowding in carriages and handle the arrest of individuals involved in creating nuisance or disturbances.
  • Additionally, the GRP can assist in track patrolling and conduct effective investigations in cases of sabotage related to railway operations.

Challenges in the Current System

  • Over the years, the role of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) has evolved, but its primary responsibility for maintaining law and order remained with the State Government. This division of responsibilities between the State Police and RPF has led to certain challenges.
  • The Government Railway Police (GRP) is organized on provincial lines, resulting in a lack of continuity of jurisdiction. For example, a journey of about 70 kilometers from Ambala to Kalka involves the oversight of four different GRP units, causing inefficiencies.
  • The boundaries of States create a fragmented line of control and a lack of a single chain of command, as each State has its own Police Force. This can lead to coordination issues and gaps in security.
  • The presence of multiple security agencies on the railway, including the RPF, GRP, and District Police, can confuse people. They may not know whom to report to in case of a crime on the railway, leading to delays in response and investigation.

Source: Indian Express


Post Quantum Cryptography


Context:

Computation has transformed various facets of human civilization, from banking to warfare, however, the emergence of Quantum Computing has raised concerns about its impact on Computer Security in the Future.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Quantum Computing
  2. Significance of Quantum Computers
  3. Post Quantum Concerns of Quantum Computing: Safeguarding Security

Quantum Computing:

  • Quantum computing is a field of computer science that utilizes the principles of quantum theory to process and manipulate information.
  • Quantum theory describes the behavior of energy and matter at the atomic and subatomic levels.
  • Quantum computers have the potential to solve complex problems by exploring and analyzing a vast number of possibilities simultaneously.
Working Principle:
  • Quantum computers use qubits (quantum bits) instead of classical bits.
  • While classical bits can only represent either a 0 or a 1, qubits can exist in a superposition, representing both 0 and 1 simultaneously until measured.
  • Multiple qubits can also be entangled, meaning their states become interconnected and quantum mechanically linked.
  • Qubits can be implemented using various physical systems, such as manipulating atoms, ions, electrons, or artificial atoms created through nanoengineering techniques like superconducting qubits.
  • These physical systems allow for the control and manipulation of quantum states to perform computations.
  • Quantum computers rely on principles like superposition, entanglement, and quantum interference to perform complex calculations efficiently.

Significance of Quantum Computers

  • Quantum Phenomenon: Quantum computers exploit quantum mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, enabling them to manipulate vast amounts of information in parallel. This paves the way for groundbreaking applications in diverse domains.
  • Molecular and Chemical Interactions: Quantum computers hold promise in simulating complex molecular and chemical interactions. They could provide invaluable insights into drug discovery, material science, and catalyst design, expediting the development of life-saving drugs and innovative materials.
  • Optimization Problems: Quantum computers have the potential to solve complex optimization problems more efficiently than classical computers. This can lead to advancements in fields like logistics, supply chains, and transportation, optimizing resource allocation and minimizing costs.
  • Artificial Intelligence: By enhancing the power of artificial intelligence, quantum computers can significantly improve machine learning algorithms and data processing. This could lead to more accurate predictions, better decision-making, and greater understanding of complex datasets.
  • Scientific Discoveries: Quantum computers have the capacity to unravel mysteries in fundamental physics, cosmology, and quantum field theory. They may lead to novel scientific discoveries and a deeper understanding of the universe.
  • Financial Modeling: Quantum computers could revolutionize financial modeling and data analysis, providing faster and more accurate predictions for markets and economic trends.

Post Quantum Concerns of Quantum Computing: Safeguarding Security

Vulnerabilities in Current Security Techniques:
  • Quantum computers, using algorithms like Shor’s algorithm, can easily break widely used cryptographic algorithms such as RSA, ECC, and Diffie-Hellman. As quantum computing progresses, these security measures will become vulnerable, necessitating the exploration of alternative techniques.
    • RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman): RSA is a widely employed cryptographic algorithm and a fundamental pillar of modern computer security. It plays a crucial role in secure communication and data encryption, offering confidentiality and authentication across various applications.
    • Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC): ECC is a contemporary and extensively utilized cryptographic technique that combines security and efficiency in various computer security applications. Its popularity stems from its ability to offer strong protection with lower computational resources.
    • Diffie-Hellman (DH) Key Exchange: Introduced by Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman in 1976, Diffie-Hellman is a key exchange algorithm designed to establish a shared secret key between two parties over an insecure channel. It is a foundational element of modern public-key cryptography, ensuring secure key exchange for secure communication.
Complex Implementation of Quantum Cryptography:
  • Quantum cryptography systems, like Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), can be challenging to implement and scale to large networks due to the need for specialized hardware and tight environmental constraints.
Limitations of Quantum Cryptography:
  • Quantum cryptography faces limitations in terms of the distance over which secure keys can be distributed.
  • Extending the range of secure key distribution is a significant challenge for researchers in this field.
Building a Robust Quantum Network Infrastructure:
  • Creating a reliable quantum network infrastructure requires developing quantum repeaters, quantum routers, quantum memory, and other components to ensure the secure transmission of quantum information.
Integration of Quantum and Classical Communication:
  • As the transition to post-quantum cryptography progresses, hybrid communication scenarios will arise, where both classical and quantum communication systems coexist.
  • Ensuring seamless integration and secure communication between these systems presents a challenge.

Source: The Hindu


MP Local Area Development Scheme


Context:

Recently, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation provided valuable insights into the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) during a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

Relevance:

GS II- Government policies and Interventions, Welfare Schemes

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Scheme
  2. Features
  3. Release of Funds
  4. Execution of works

About the Scheme:

MPLADS is an ongoing Central Sector Scheme which was launched in 1993-94.  The Scheme enables the Members of Parliament to recommend works for creation of durable community assets based on locally felt needs to be taken up in their constituencies in the area of national priorities namely drinking water, education, public health, sanitation, roads etc.

Nodal Ministry:

The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has been responsible for the policy formulation, release of funds and prescribing monitoring mechanism for implementation of the Scheme.

Features

  • The annual MPLADS fund entitlement per MP constituency is Rs. 5 crore.
  • MPs are to recommend every year, works costing at least 15 per cent of the MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 per cent for areas inhabited by S.T. population.
  • In order to encourage trusts and societies for the betterment of tribal people, a ceiling of Rs. 75 lakh is stipulated for building assets by trusts and societies subject to conditions prescribed in the scheme guidelines.
  • Lok Sabha Members can recommend works within their Constituencies and Elected Members of Rajya Sabha can recommend works within the State of Election (with select exceptions).
  • Nominated Members of both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the country.
  • All works to meet locally felt infrastructure and development needs, with an emphasis on creation of durable assets in the constituency are permissible under MPLADS as prescribed in the scheme guidelines.
  • Expenditure on specified items of non durable nature are also permitted as listed in the guidelines.
Release of Funds:
  • Funds are released in the form of grants in-aid directly to the district authorities.
  • The funds released under the scheme are non-lapsable.
  • The liability of funds not released in a particular year is carried forward to the subsequent years, subject to eligibility.
Execution of works:
  • The MPs have a recommendatory role under the scheme. They recommend their choice of works to the concerned district authorities who implement these works by following the established procedures of the concerned state government.
  • The district authority is empowered to examine the eligibility of works sanction funds and select the implementing agencies, prioritise works, supervise overall execution, and monitor the scheme at the ground level.

Source: The Hindu


Worldcoin Project


Context:

Recently, OpenAI CEO formally re-introduced Worldcoin project of his that was eclipsed by the popularity of ChatGPT.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Worldcoin Project: Creating a Digital Network with Human Stakeholders

  • The Worldcoin Project aims to establish a digital network that allows everyone to claim a stake in the digital economy.
Proof of Personhood:
  • Participants in the Worldcoin Project undergo a unique verification process called “proof of personhood.”
  • Volunteer operators, known as ‘Orb operators,’ use a device called “Orb” to scan a person’s iris pattern and collect their biometric data.
  • In exchange for the iris scan, participants receive a World ID, which serves as their unique digital identity.

Crypto Rewards and Transactions:

  • Once verified, participants can collect a cryptocurrency known as Worldcoin [WLD] at regular intervals through the World app.
  • They can also use their World ID for transactions wherever it is applicable.

World’s Largest Identity and Financial Public Network:

  • The Worldcoin Project claims to be building the world’s largest identity and financial public network that is accessible to people worldwide.

Locations:

  • The project is currently active in 18 locations, primarily in Delhi, Noida, and Bangalore, where Orb operators are scanning people’s eyes to participate in the initiative.

Source: The Hindu


Bhojpatra Tree


Context:

Recently, the Prime Minister of India, in 103rd edition of ‘Mann ki Baat programme highlighted the business of ‘bhojpatra calligraphy’ by the women of Mana village near Badrinath.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

Bhojpatra Tree: The Himalayan Birch

  • Also known as Himalayan Birch, it is abundant in the Himalayas.
  • A deciduous tree native to the Western Himalayas, thriving at elevations of up to 4,500 meters.
  • Possesses high freezing tolerance, enabling it to form a treeline in the Himalayan region.
  • A long-lived species with a survival capacity of up to 400 years, and the dominant angiosperm at extensive sub-alpine altitudes in the Himalaya.

Distribution:

  • Widely distributed in the altitudinal range of 3100 to 3800 meters in the North-western Himalaya.

Ecological Contribution:

  • Plays a vital role in preserving the Himalayan ecosystem by reducing soil erosion.
  • Creates a bio-shield for the remaining forests and sub-alpine meadows below the treeline.
Cultural Significance:
  • The bark of the Bhojpatra Tree has been historically used for writing lengthy scriptures and texts.
  • Particularly prominent in historical regions like Uttarakhand and Kashmir, where it was utilized for writings in Sanskrit and other scripts.

Source: Times of India


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