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Current Affairs 29 August 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Global South
  2. Ultra Processed Food
  3. RTI Online Portal Data Loss and Maintenance
  4. C-DOT’s TRINETRA
  5. Nabhmitra device
  6. ORON Aircraft

Global South


Context:

Recently, External Affairs Minister said that the disruptions caused by the corona virus pandemic and recent geopolitical conflicts call for a realignment of the world order. He said that the “Global South” can no longer be at the mercy of a few suppliers.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Understanding the Global South
  2. India’s Role in the Global South

Understanding the Global South

  • Emergence: Initially denoted countries excluded from industrialization.
  • Ideological Divide: Shaped by Cold War conflicts between capitalist and communist nations.
  • Encompassing Continents: Encompasses Asia, Africa, and South America.
  • Economic Contrast: Opposite of ‘Global North’, marked by economic disparity.

Challenges Faced by the Global South

Geopolitical Shifts and Emerging Challenges
  • Disruption Catalysts: Coronavirus pandemic and prolonged Ukraine-Russia War.
  • Resulting Challenges: Food and energy supply security, technology transfer, energy transition, climate change impact.
Securing Supply Chain
  • Supply Chain Concerns: Escalating energy costs and fertilizer prices.
  • Necessity of Supply Chain Security: Reevaluating essential commodity distribution to ensure availability in the Global South.
Ensuring Adequate Energy Supply
  • Energy Transition Hurdles: Sustainable energy transition entails technological and financial challenges.
  • Disproportionate Impact: Global South nations most affected due to financial constraints.
  • Sustainable Transition Imperative: Vital for socio-economic development across Global South nations.
Adapting to Climate Change
  • Disproportionate Impact: Historical polluters from Global North, adverse climate change effects on Global South.
  • Broader Climate Change Perspective: Need to consider climate change consequences holistically for Global South.
Advocating for Multilateralism
  • Genuine Multilateralism Demand: Call for equitable representation in global governance institutions.
  • UNSC Reform: Necessity to reform United Nations Security Council and other multilateral bodies for fair Global South representation.

India’s Role in the Global South

Historical Leadership and Global Influence
  • Non-Aligned Movement: India’s historical leadership in the Non-Aligned Movement underscores its role in global politics.
  • Economic and Geopolitical Clout: India’s growing economic and geopolitical influence drives its increased involvement in global geopolitics.
  • G-20 Presidency: Assumes G-20 Presidency in 2022-23, reflecting its greater global role.
Leader of the Global South
  • Voice of the Global South: As a leader of the Global South, India provides representation and a platform for the Global South Movement.
  • Proactive Engagement: Active participation in international forums on climate change, energy transition, and normative issues.
Championing Global South’s Interests
  • Alternative Narrative: India contributes to an alternative narrative in global geopolitics by voicing Global South concerns.
  • Climate Summits: Protecting Global South interests in climate financing, emission norms, and historical polluter responsibility.
Global Energy Transition and Security
  • Leading Energy Transition Discourses: Initiatives like International Solar Alliance and hydrogen-based fuel promotion.
  • Energy Security Emphasis: Prime Minister Modi’s call for energy market stability at the G-20 Summit in 2022.
Democratizing International Relations and UN Reform
  • Consistent Approach: India aligns with Global South demands for international relations democratization and United Nations reform.
  • Leadership and Narrative Shift: India’s leadership reshapes global geopolitics and provides a new perspective.

-Source: The Hindu


Ultra Processed Food


Context:

A recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations revealed that India’s Ultra-Processed Food Sector witnessed a significant Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 13.37% in retail sales value between 2011 and 2021.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Ultra-Processed Food
  2. Key Highlights of the Report on Indian Ultra-Processed Food Sector
  3. Recommendations from the Report on Indian Ultra-Processed Food Sector

Ultra-Processed Food

Definition and Characteristics
  • Processed vs. Ultra-Processed: Processed food contains added salt, sugar, and fat. Ultra-processed food goes beyond, with five or more ingredients added.
  • Additional Ingredients: These include flavor enhancers, emulsifiers, colors, and preservatives, enhancing taste, shelf life, and convenience.

Examples

  • Gradation of Processing: Raw atta is unprocessed, dalia (wheat porridge) with salt and sugar is processed, while cookies with multiple added ingredients are ultra-processed.
Health Implications
  • Salt, Sugar, and Fat: Commonly added to processed food, contributing to taste but posing health risks.
  • Negative Health Outcomes: Regular consumption of ultra-processed foods can lead to obesity, hypertension, cardiac issues, and lifestyle diseases.
  • Gut Health Impact: Artificial chemicals in ultra-processed food harm gut health, potentially causing various problems from neurological issues to obesity.
Addictive Nature
  • Taste Enhancers: Ultra-processed foods often contain taste enhancers that can lead to addiction.
  • Rapid Absorption: Ultra-processing breaks down natural food quickly, leading to rapid absorption by the body.
  • Sugar’s Impact: High doses of simple sugar trigger insulin release, causing hunger and cravings, contributing to sugar addiction.

Key Highlights of the Report on Indian Ultra-Processed Food Sector

Pandemic Impact
  • Temporary Disruption: Covid-19 Pandemic led to a decline in annual growth rate of Indian ultra-processed food sector from 12.65% (2019) to 5.50% (2020).
  • Remarkable Rebound: The sector demonstrated resilience, bouncing back with an impressive 11.29% growth in 2020-2021.
Popular Food Categories
  • Leading Categories: Notable ultra-processed food categories include chocolate and sugar confectionery, salty snacks, beverages, ready-made and convenient foods, and breakfast cereals.
  • Retail Sales Volume: From 2011 to 2021, beverages accounted for the largest share in retail sales volume, followed by chocolate and sugar confectionery, and ready-made convenience foods.
Consumer Shifts
  • Health-conscious Choices: During the pandemic, health-aware consumers transitioned from carbonated sugar-sweetened beverages to fruit and vegetable juices, possibly due to perceived immune-boosting properties.
  • Sugar Concerns: Alternative beverages, while seen as healthier, may still contain significant levels of free sugars, highlighting the need for balanced consumption.

Recommendations from the Report on Indian Ultra-Processed Food Sector

Stricter Advertising and Marketing Regulations
  • Focus on Children: Implement stringent regulations for advertising and marketing of products like sweet biscuits that appeal to children.
Addressing Salt Content in Salty Snacks
  • Health Risks: High salt content in salty snacks poses health risks. Regulations should be put in place to address this issue effectively.
Defining High Fat Sugar Salt (HFSS) Foods
  • Collaboration with FSSAI: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) should collaborate with stakeholders to establish a clear and comprehensive definition of HFSS foods.
Taxation for Healthier Options
  • GST Council Involvement: Link tax structure with HFSS food definition through the GST Council. Higher taxes can incentivize reformulated products and healthier alternatives by taxing items exceeding recommended fat, sugar, and salt levels.
Comprehensive National Nutrition Policy
  • Addressing Under- and Over-Nutrition: Develop a robust national nutrition policy through consultations with stakeholders. Ensure comprehensive coverage of both undernutrition and diet-related diseases.
Healthier Lifestyle Promotion
  • Reduce Ultra-Processed Food Consumption: Encourage a healthier lifestyle by advocating reduced consumption of ultra-processed foods and promoting higher intake of whole grains.
  • Address Noncommunicable Diseases: Recognize low whole grain intake as a key dietary risk factor for noncommunicable diseases in India.

-Source: Down To Earth


RTI Online Portal Data Loss and Maintenance


Context:

The Union government’s RTI Online portal has experienced data loss, including past applications and responses, highlighting challenges in maintaining accountability under the RTI Act. The portal is currently undergoing maintenance to restore the missing archival data.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Right to Information (RTI) Act
  2. Challenges and Concerns in RTI Implementation in India
  3. Future Steps for Enhancing RTI Implementation

Right to Information (RTI) Act

  • Legislative Empowerment: The RTI Act, enacted in 2005, grants Indian citizens access to public authorities’ information, aiming to enhance transparency, accountability, and participation in governance.
  • Origin and Influence: Inspired by the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) in Rajasthan, which advocated for an RTI Act, it replaced the Freedom of Information Act 2002.
  • Legal Independence: Section 22 of the RTI Act establishes its supremacy over other laws, ensuring its effectiveness regardless of contradictions with existing laws.
  • Constitutional Basis: Rooted in Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and expression, and affirmed as a fundamental right in the Raj Narain vs State of Uttar Pradesh case.
  • Timely Information: The RTI Act mandates supplying information to applicants within 30 days, and within 48 hours if it concerns a person’s life or liberty.
  • Application Process: Information can be sought through the Public Information Officer (PIO) or an Assistant PIO, with certain days added for incorrect submissions.
  • Exemptions and Disclosure: Section 8(1) lists exemptions, including matters of national security, but information can be disclosed if public interest outweighs harm.
  • PIO’s Role: The PIO acts as a liaison between citizens seeking information and government entities holding the information, central to the Act’s implementation.
  • Appeals and Redress: If a request is denied or unsatisfactory, citizens can appeal to the First Appellate Authority within the same authority. Further appeals can be made to Central or State Information Commissions.

Challenges and Concerns in RTI Implementation in India

  • Backlog and Delays: With over 3 lakh pending complaints or appeals in various information commissions, the system is grappling with a substantial backlog, delaying timely responses.
  • Vacancies in Key Positions: A notable shortage of Information Commissioners (ICs) and State Information Commissioners (SICs) hampers the smooth functioning of the RTI mechanism.
  • Misuse and Frivolous Requests: The Act is sometimes exploited for personal or vexatious motives, causing inefficiency, resource wastage, and undermining genuine public interest.
  • Misapplication of Exemptions: While the Act provides exemptions to safeguard sensitive information, these exemptions have been misused to reject valid requests, potentially infringing on transparency.
  • Conflict with Data Protection: Emerging data protection and privacy laws have created a complex interplay between RTI rights and individual privacy, raising concerns about hierarchy and conflicts.

Future Steps for Enhancing RTI Implementation

  • Open Data Ecosystem: Establish a comprehensive open data platform that provides government datasets in user-friendly formats, reducing the need for RTIs and enabling better analysis by citizens, researchers, and journalists.
  • Blockchain Technology: Explore the use of blockchain for maintaining an unalterable and transparent record of government actions and RTI-related decisions, ensuring accountability and preventing data manipulation.
  • Transparency Index: Develop a transparency rating system for public authorities based on their responsiveness to RTI requests, fostering competition and encouraging improved accountability standards.
  • AI-powered Processing: Implement AI-driven systems to categorize and process RTI requests, enhancing efficiency and accuracy in responding to queries while streamlining the information retrieval process.

-Source: Indian Express


C-DOT’s TRINETRA


Context:

Recently, the Minister of State for Communications, Government of India, launched the TRINETRA Security system at the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT) campus in New Delhi.

Relevance:

GS III: Security Challenegs

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. C-DOT’s TRINETRA
  2. Key Facts about Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT)

C-DOT’s TRINETRA

  • Integrated Security Solution: C-DOT’s TRINETRA is a comprehensive amalgamation of various security systems, including:
    • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
    • Security Orchestration and Automated Response (SOAR)
    • Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
    • User Entity and Behavior Analytics (UEBA)
    • Multi-Source Threat Intelligence, and more.
  • Cybersecurity Status: Offers 24×7 near real-time actionable insights into the cybersecurity landscape.
  • Threat Detection and Resolution: Facilitates identification and resolution of cyber threats, spanning viruses, malware, ransomware, spyware, and more.
  • Endpoint Protection: Safeguards IT assets, such as PCs, laptops, servers, and virtual machines, via vulnerability detection, analysis, and mitigation. Implements AI-enabled automated responses to cyber threats.
  • Sensitive Data Protection: Ensures safeguarding of sensitive data during operations.
  • Government Sector Focus: Primarily designed to safeguard the critical digital infrastructure of various government departments.
  • Adaptive Defense: Equipped to counteract the evolving and dynamic cyber threat landscape.

Key Facts about Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT):

  • Role and Affiliation: C-DOT serves as the principal Research and Development (R&D) center under the Department of Telecommunications, part of the Ministry of Communications, Government of India.
  • Diverse Telecom Technologies: C-DOT is renowned for its contributions to cutting-edge Telecom technologies, encompassing domains like 4G/5G, Disaster Management, Cyber Security, and Quantum Communications.
  • Establishment: C-DOT was founded in 1984 as an autonomous Telecom R&D institution operating under the Department of Telecommunications.
  • Legal Status: It operates as a registered society in accordance with the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
  • Recognition: C-DOT holds recognition as a ‘public funded research institution’ under the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India.
  • Location: The headquarters of C-DOT is situated in New Delhi.

-Source: Indian Express, PIB


Nabhmitra Device


Context:

Recently, the ISRO-Space Applications Centre (Ahmedabad) successfully tested the Nabhmitra device at Neendakara.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

About Nabhmitra Device:

The Nabhmitra device is a specialized satellite-based communication system designed to enhance the safety of fishermen during their maritime activities. Developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), this innovative technology offers several key features:

  • Two-way Messaging: The device facilitates seamless two-way messaging services, enabling communication to and from fishermen at sea.
  • Weather and Cyclone Alerts: Fishermen receive weather and cyclone warnings in their local language, enabling them to stay informed and make informed decisions.
  • Distress Messaging: In case of emergencies or distress situations such as capsizing or fire, fishermen can send distress messages to relevant authorities using the device.
  • Emergency Button: The device is equipped with an emergency button that, when pressed, establishes contact with a control center. This is particularly useful for immediate assistance during critical situations.
  • Location Identification: The control center receives alerts with precise location information, aiding in prompt response and rescue efforts.
  • Response Message: Upon receiving an alert, the control center responds with a message to the crew on the boat, confirming that the alert has been received and help is on the way.
  • Maritime Information: The device provides information about maritime boundaries, shipping channels, fishing fields, and other relevant navigational data.

-Source: Indian Express


ORON Aircraft


Context:

Israel’s Defense Ministry and the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) recently announced they completed two years of outfitting the ORON aircraft with advanced intelligence-gathering technology.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

About ORON Aircraft:

The ORON Aircraft is an advanced Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) mission aircraft developed collaboratively by the Israeli Defence Ministry’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), the Israel Air Force, the IDF Intelligence unit’s naval arm, and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

Key features of the ORON Aircraft include:
  • Purpose: The primary purpose of the ORON Aircraft is to perform intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. It is equipped with advanced sensors and data collection equipment to swiftly locate targets in various weather conditions.
  • Platform: The aircraft is based on the Gulfstream G550 executive jet platform, which has been extensively modified and equipped for its intelligence-gathering role.
  • Sensor Suite: The ORON Aircraft is equipped with an array of sensors, including aerial imaging, control and radar systems, and maritime intelligence gathering capabilities. This comprehensive sensor suite enables it to gather critical information across various domains.
  • Data Analysis: The aircraft is equipped with sophisticated automatic data systems based on advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI). These capabilities allow for real-time data analysis and the generation of comprehensive intelligence insights.
  • Comprehensive Intelligence: The ORON Aircraft enables the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to maintain a real-time and comprehensive intelligence picture. This includes information about the deployment of ground forces both in routine times and during wartime.

-Source: Indian Express


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