current-affairs-based-mains-drill-30-july-2020

 

Q.1) What is the aerial seeding technique of plantation? Highlight its advantages over conventional methods. Can it replace conventional methods of plantation? (15 marks - 250 words)

Why this question? - The Haryana Forest Department has begun aerial seeding across the state on a pilot basis, starting with the Aravalli region recently.

Intro - Aerial seeding is a technique of plantation wherein seed balls – seeds covered with a mixture of clay, compost, char and other components – are sprayed on the ground using aerial devices, including planes, helicopters or drones.

Body - 

  • Working:
    • Seeds balls or seed pellets are dispersed in a targeted area by the low-flying drones, falling to the ground with the help of the coating of clay, compost, char and other material.
    • The coating provides the required weight for seeds to drop on a predetermined location rather than disperse in the wind. 
    • These pellets will then sprout when there is enough rain, with the nutrients. 
    • According to the officials, the timing of the seeding is critical, hence to be taken care of for the plantation to be successful.
    • What kind of species can be dispersed?: 
      • Have to be native to the area and hardy: With seeds that are of an appropriate size for preparing seedballs, and have to have a higher survival percentage. 
  • Advantages of this technique:
    • Suitable for inaccessible areas: That have steep slopes, are fragmented or disconnected with no forest routes, making conventional plantation difficult. 
    • Process of growth requires no attention: The reason why seed pellets are known as the “fire and forget” way of plantation.
    • Eliminate the need for ploughing and digging holes in the soil and the seeds do not need to be planted, since they are already surrounded by soil, nutrients, and microorganisms. 
    • Protection from birds: The clay shell of these pellets along with the other items in the mixture also protects them from birds, ants and rats.
  • Can it replace conventional plantation methods?
    • According to the officials, aerial seeding as of now being done only on a pilot basis, to evaluate the effectiveness of the technology and the dispersal mechanism.
    • Will supplement, not replace conventional methods: And the stage of replacing conventional methods can only come when there is improvement in technology, when drones particularly developed for seeding are there.

Conclusion - Summarize based on above discussion.

 

Q.2) We are at an incipient stage of looking for “cyber norms” that can balance the competing demands of national sovereignty and transnational connectivity. Comment.

Why this question?

  • Increasing cyberattacks: In one week in April 2020, reportedly, there were over 18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to COVID-19 monitored by a single email provider, in addition to more than 240 million COVID-19-related daily spam messages. Twitter hackers collected $120,000 in full public gaze.

Introduction to the answer:

  • Give a brief info about the concept of cybersecurity and its significance.

Body:

  • Discuss about current global cybersecurity norms, concerns related to them.
  • Also discuss the need for balance between national sovereignty and transnational connectivity.
  • Concerns: What aspects of international law and in what circumstances will be applicable remains to be addressed. 
  • Issues such as Internet governance, development, espionage, and digital privacy are kept out. While terrorism and crime are acknowledged as important, discussion on these has not been focused on.
  • Issues with Budapest Convention

Conclusion : Suggest a way forward for establishing norms in the global and Indian cybersecurity arena like a UN convention on cybersecurity, reforming India’s Data protection laws.

 

Q.3) What is a cryptocurrency? Discuss the feasibility of “digital rupee” as the official currency of India. (250 Words, 15 Marks)

Why this question?

There has been growing interest in cryptocurrencies since Bitcoin captured the imagination of people. With Facebook creating its own cryptocurrency, governments are watching this development as it threatens their monopoly over issuing money.

Introduction the answer:

  • Give a brief about cryptocurrency – “Cryptocurrencies are e-currencies that are based on decentralized technology and operate on a distributed public ledger called the blockchain. 
  • Blockchain records all transactions updated and held by currency holders. It is considered to be a part of the virtual currency group. 
  • It uses cryptography technology that keeps the transactions secure and authentic.
  • Such cryptocurrencies exist and are transacted over dedicated blockchain-based networks that are open to the common public.

Body:

  • Discuss the recommendations of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Virtual Currencies headed by finance secretary Subhash Chandra Garg 
    • The government panel constituted to regulate virtual currencies has suggested a ban on private cryptocurrencies and introducing an official ‘Digital Rupee’ in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India.
    • Discuss the draft bill proposed by the panel—Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2019
    • The risks of Central Bank Digital Currencies:
    • impact on existing payments infrastructure
    • monetary policy transmission and financial stability. 
    • The resilience of existing financial firms such as banks to deal with disruptions caused due to the introduction of CBDCs.

Conclusion

  • A blanket ban on cryptocurrencies could push the entire system underground and will defeat the purpose. It is now imperative on authorities to find the right “regulatory balance” on cryptocurrencies.

 

Q.4) The changing global landscape calls for India to become self sufficient in AI (Artificial Intelligence) space. Comment 10 marks (150 words)

Why this question:

AI is expected to manage and lead in every sector ranging from agriculture to mobility but the concern is the dominance of few top U.S and Chinese companies  over the AI sector.

Intro:

Define AI

Body:

Current Scenario:

  • AI is expected to manage and lead in every sector ranging from agriculture to mobility but the concern is the dominance of few top U.S and Chinese companies  over the AI sector.
    • The Google’s parent company Alphabet, for instance, is into automobiles, media, health, education, travel and perhaps more. 
  • With an immense emerging global concentration of AI power, the field has basically become a race between the US and China due to which the IMF has warned of a Digital Berlin Wall, with countries forced to choose one side.
  • U.S’s investment in R&D and its first mover advantage helped him to become a pioneer in AI technologies while it was only China who managed to achieve a similar fate with the Government support and barriers like internet firewall.

Way Ahead:

  • The current scenario requires development of a robust domestic AI landscape in order to minimise economic dependence on global leaders.
  • Further initiatives like Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI or Gee-Pay) must be implemented in letter and spirit as it focuses on responsible development and use of AI, grounded in human rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation, and economic growth. 
  • India has devised a National AI Strategy and National AI Portal which will play a pivotal role in attaining self sufficiency.
  • Similarly the recommendations of Kris Gopalakrishnan on using Non Personal data is vital for the development of the AI ecosystem.
  • Digital businesses must shift from data hoarding as a key competitive advantage to devising innovative uses of widely-shared data for the benefit of consumers. 
    • All players would benefit from such a shift and it could help India avoid an abject dependence for its AI needs on the two global AI superpowers.

Conclusion:

In a digital age, being self-sufficient in terms of AI is central to any conception of an Atmanirbhar Bharat and requires India’s data to be made widely available for use by the Indian AI industry.