- Odd – Even scheme
- Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA) initiative
- National Security Strategy
- Stubble Burning
- WHO global report on TB
- Transmission of Electricity
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Odd – Even scheme
Context: As air pollution in Delhi touched about 18 times the limit set by the World Health Organization, Environment Minister Gopal Rai announced that the government would implement an odd-even vehicle rotation scheme in the city from November 13 to 20 to reduce air pollution.
About the Scheme
- In the odd-even scheme, vehicles whose registration number ends on even digits are allowed to ply on even dates like 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and so on.
- Similarly, vehicles having their registration numbers ending on odd digits, are allowed to ply on odd dates such as 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and so on.
- Only odd-numbered cars are allowed on the roads between 8 am and 8 pm on odd days, whereas even-numbered cars are allowed in the same time on even days.
- The people who violated the rule were fined Rs 2,000.
- Special arrangements like extra buses, a bike taxi service and increase in the metro frequency were made to make the plan successful.
- In the previous phases of the scheme, two-wheelers, women-only vehicles, CNG, hybrid and electric vehicles, emergency vehicles and VIPs were exempted from it. Apart from the VIPs, politicians, Supreme Court judges and defence vehicles, single women drivers and women drivers with children below the age of 12 were also exempted.
- The ‘odd-even’ was first introduced in 2016 by the AAP government to control vehicular pollution and bring down increasing particulate matter levels.
Has the scheme worked?
- As per a study done by Delhi Technological University published in 2016, when the scheme was implemented for a roughly two-week period, concentration of PM 2.5 and PM 1 saw a drop.
- Studies have also shown that on an average, there was a reduction in PM 2.5 of 5.73 per cent and 4.70 per cent in PM 1 levels.
- The university conducted a study in three different corridors of the city — Pitampura (Madhubhan Chowk), Panchkuian Road and Najafgarh road.
Issues which still remain
- It is estimated that while pollution would come down with the scheme, experts say it is difficult to estimate exactly how much.
- Restricting traffic volume alone cannot control PM2.5 concentration over Delhi, where there are multiple other sources contributing towards making the city’s air polluted.
- The bulk of pollution that lingers outside NCT limits will not be contained outside the boundaries of the city if the traffic interventions are applied only within the NCT.
Need for the scheme
- Air pollution in Delhi touched about 18 times the limit set by the World Health Organization.
- The air pollution Levels continued to be in the “severe” category, according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data.
- It is also being implemented anticipating a spike in air pollution after Deepavali.
- The Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) directed the State governments to consider additional emergency measures such as an odd-even scheme.
2) Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA) initiative
Context: The Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA) initiative, announced by the Quad grouping, is a testament to the commitment to a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific, Navy chief Admiral R. Hari Kumar says, stressing that building networks and partnerships will be instrumental in ensuring the security and stability of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
About the initiative
- It is an initiative of Quad group consisting of India, Australia , US and Japan to track dark shipping and build a faster, wider, and more accurate maritime picture of near-real-time activities in partners’ waters , integrating three critical regions in the Indo-Pacific including the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and the IOR.
- It was announced at the 2022 Quad Leaders’ Summit in Tokyo.
- IPMDA is a technology and training initiative to enhance maritime domain awareness in the Indo-Pacific region and to bring increased transparency to its critical waterways.
- IPMDA harnesses innovative technology, such as commercial satellite radio frequency data collection, to provide partners across Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean region and the Pacific with near real-time information on activities occurring in their maritime zones.
- The cutting-edge maritime domain awareness picture provided under IPMDA supports the ability of Indo-Pacific partners to rapidly detect and respond to a wide range of challenges involving illicit maritime activities such as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, climate events, and humanitarian crises.
- The initiative also involves regional information centres, helping to establish a common operating picture of the maritime domain across the Indo-Pacific region.
- The IPMDA is expected to provide assistance to QUAD nations and coastal countries in response to the increasing naval presence of China in the region.
3 . National Security Strategy
Context: After years of deliberations in the military and strategic community, India has kickstarted the process of bringing in a National Security Strategy.
About the news
- The National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) is in the process of collating inputs from several Central ministries and departments to stitch together the draft of the strategy before seeking the final cabinet approval for it.
- The exact timeline of when the strategy would be ready is yet to be known, even as multiple ministries have already sent their inputs to the NSCS on different aspects of the comprehensive document.
- This is the first time that India would come out with such a strategy.
What is a National Security Strategy?
- A National Security Strategy document outlines the country’s security objectives, and the ways to be adopted to achieve these.
- It defines traditional, non-traditional threats and opportunities while introducing accountability of agencies tasked with the implementation of such responsibilities and is updated periodically.
- It would guide the military as well as critical defence and security reforms with strategic implications, providing a holistic view of the overall national security, the threats and the roadmap to address them.
- The exact contours of the strategy being drafted is not known, but it will likely include the entire range of newer challenges and modern threats facing India, including non-traditional ones such as financial and economic security, food and energy security, information warfare, vulnerabilities in India’s critical information infrastructure, as well as those associated with supply chains and environment.
Countries having a National Security Strategy
- Most developed countries with an advanced military and security infrastructure have a National Security Strategy in place, updated from time to time. The US, the UK and Russia have published national security strategies.
- China also has such a strategy in place, called the Comprehensive National Security, which is closely tied to its governance structure.
- Pakistan has brought out a National Security Policy 2022-2026, underlining its national security objectives and priority areas.
- The complex nature of the various traditional and non-traditional threats, coupled with rising geopolitical tensions have given way to uncertainties.
- Former Army Chief General NC Vij (retd) had written in a paper in 2018 that the only political direction to the Armed Forces in existence is Raksha Mantri’s operational Directive of 2009 which is now outdated and needs to be revised.
- Some experts have also highlighted that major military reforms should ideally flow from a national security strategy.
- Experts also believe it is essential to draft a national security strategy before taking the theaterisation process forward.
Reasons for not having a strategy
- Hesitation at the political level: A former NSA at an event said that in the past, three attempts were made to come out with a national security strategy, but there was hesitation at the political level.
- Lack of a cohesive, whole-of-government effort.
- Deliberate attempt by the government to not make its national security objectives public.
4 . Deepfakes
Context: After a deepfake video clip of actor Rashmika Mandanna went viral on social media platforms such as Instagram, the Electronics and Information Technology Ministry on Tuesday sent notices to “all social media intermediaries”, reminding them that online impersonation is illegal under Section 66D of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
About the news
- The IT Ministry warned platforms to take down Deepfake content within 36 hours, a requirement outlined in the IT Rules, 2021.
- It informed that “due diligence is exercised and reasonable efforts are made to identify misinformation and deepfakes”.
What are Deepfakes?
- Deepfakes are a type of artificial intelligence (AI) technology that is used to create highly realistic, manipulated, or fabricated audio or video content.
- These creations, often in the form of videos, can make it appear as if a person is saying or doing things they never did.
- The term “deepfake” is a portmanteau of “deep learning” and “fake.”
- They are called deepfakes because they use deep learning technology, a branch of machine learning that applies neural net simulation to massive data sets, to create fake content.
Issues with it
- Identity Theft: Usage of deepfakes for purposes of identity theft and synthetic pornography.
- Deepfake pornography is almost always non-consensual, involving the artificial synthesis of explicit videos featuring celebrities or personal acquaintances.
- Political Misuse: Another equally worrying ramification is the creation and dissemination of morphed videos of elected representatives and public figures in a political sphere already reeling from an avalanche of disinformation and polarisation.
- Violation of privacy: deepfakes directly violate the fundamental right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Steps to combat it
- The European Union updated its Code of Practice on Disinformation to counter the spread of disinformation via deepfakes, including provisions penalising organisations such as Meta for up to 6 per cent of their annual global turnover, if found non-compliant.
- In India, sections of the Information Technology Act 2000, criminalise the publication and transmission of intimate photos of any person without their consent and deal with the obligations of intermediaries.
- Provisions of the Copyright Act 1957, concerning the doctrine of fair dealing and right to integrity can also be applied.
- Privacy laws such as the new Digital Personal Data Protection Bill could be the most effective means of regulating deepfakes in India if implemented well.
- Facebook’s Deepfake Detection Challenge aimed towards encouraging and incentivising innovation in this regard, is a positive step forward.
- Operation Minerva uses technology to compare and detect deepfakes by cross-referencing with their catalogue of digitally fingerprinted videos, alerting users if a potentially doctored version of the existing media is detected.
Centre’s advisory to Social media Platforms
- The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has sent advisories to social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, to take down misleading content generated through artificial intelligence like deepfakes, within 24 hours.
- It has mentioned Section 66D of the Information Technology Act, which entails punishment for cheating by personation by using computer resources with imprisonment up to three years and fine up to Rs 1 lakh.
- It also mentioned Rule 3(2)(b) of the Information Technology Rules, under which social media platforms are required to take down content in the nature of impersonation, including artificially morphed images of an individual, within 24 hours of the receipt of a complaint.
5 . Stubble Burning
Context: The Supreme Court directed the State governments of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to ensure that stubble burning is “forthwith” stopped as an immediate measure to protect the lives and health of people.
About Stubble Burning
- Stubble burning is the practice of deliberately setting fire to crop residues, such as straw and stubble, left in the fields after the main harvest. This agricultural practice is commonly employed by farmers to quickly clear their fields and prepare them for the next planting season.
- It is a form of crop residue management.
- It offers a relatively quick and cost-effective way to clear the fields of crop residues, making it easier for farmers to prepare the land for the next planting season. This practice can save time and labor.
- It is a common practice in October and November across North West India, but primarily in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.
Issues with it
- Air Pollution: Stubble burning releases a variety of harmful pollutants and particulate matter into the atmosphere, contributing to poor air quality. This pollution can have adverse effects on the health of people living in the vicinity and lead to respiratory problems, eye irritation, and other health issues.
- Contribution to Climate Change: The practice of stubble burning results in the release of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, into the atmosphere. These gases contribute to global warming and climate change.
- Smog Formation: Stubble burning is a major contributor to the formation of smog, especially during the winter months. Smog can reduce visibility, disrupt transportation, and have serious health consequences.
Steps to tackle
- Utilizing Technology – One example is the Turbo Happy Seeder (THS) machine, which not only removes the crop stubble but also simultaneously sows new seeds in the cleared area. The harvested stubble can be repurposed as mulch for the field.
- Government should take steps to incentivise farmers to switch over from paddy cultivation to alternative traditional crops such as millets by offering them the minimum support price (MSP).
6 . WHO global report on TB
Context: 7.5 million new cases of TB in 2022, shows WHO Global report.
Findings of the report
- There was a major global recovery in the number of people diagnosed with TB and treated in 2022, after two years of COVID-related disruptions.
- TB remains the world’s second leading cause of death from a single infectious agent, and global TB targets have either been missed or remain off track.
- The net reduction from 2015 to 2022 was 8.7%, far from the WHO End TB Strategy milestone of a 50% reduction by 2025.
- The reported global number of people newly diagnosed with TB was 7.5 million in 2022. This is the highest number since WHO began global TB monitoring in 1995, above the pre-COVID baseline (and previous historical peak) of 7.1 million in 2019, and up from 5.8 million in 2020 and 6.4 million in 2021.
- India, Indonesia and the Philippines, which collectively accounted for nearly 60% of the reduction in the number of people newly diagnosed with TB in 2020 and 2021, recovered to above 2019 levels in 2022.
- TB caused an estimated 1.30 million deaths in 2022, again almost back to the level of 2019.
- COVID-related disruptions are estimated to have resulted in almost half a million excess deaths from TB in the three years 2020–2022.
- Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
- It primarily affects the lungs but can also target other parts of the body, such as the kidneys, spine, and brain.
- TB is a contagious disease that spreads through the air when an infected coughs or sneezes.
- Active TB disease can cause symptoms such as persistent cough, chest pain, weight loss, fatigue, fever, and night sweats. It can also affect other organs and systems in the body.
- Some TB strains have developed resistance to the standard antibiotics used for treatment. This results in drug-resistant TB, which is more challenging to treat and may require more extended and more complex drug regimens.
- TB prevention includes vaccination (e.g., BCG vaccine), early diagnosis and treatment of active cases, and infection control measures in healthcare settings.
Initiatives to tackle
- The WHO, in collaboration with the Global Fund and the Stop TB Partnership, has initiated a joint campaign called “Find. Treat. All. #EndTB.”
- Additionally, the WHO publishes the Global Tuberculosis Report to provide comprehensive information on the global TB situation.
- India has implemented the National Strategic Plan (NSP) for Tuberculosis Elimination for the period 2017-2025.
- India has also introduced the Nikshay Ecosystem, a national information system for TB, and the Nikshay Poshan Yojana (NPY) to provide financial support in TB cases.
- Furthermore, India is running the “TB Harega Desh Jeetega Campaign” to combat tuberculosis effectively.
- Two vaccines, VPM 1002 and MIP (Mycobacterium Indicus Pranii), have been developed and are currently in Phase-3 clinical trials for the treatment of TB.
7 . Transmission of Electricity
Context: When India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited the planned site of the Bhakra Nangal Dam in Bilaspur in 1954, he called dams “the temples of modern India”. Contained in his turn of phrase were many indications about the way India was to develop in the coming decades, but it also spoke to the centrality of electricity in the modern nation and the foundations that power transmission laid for development.
Basics of Electricity Transmission:
- The transmission of electricity involves several key principles. Firstly, electrical transmission is most efficient when conducted at higher voltage and lower current. This is due to the fact that energy loss during transmission is directly proportional to the square of the current, whereas reducing the current while increasing the voltage maintains a 1:1 ratio, resulting in significantly lower energy loss. Transformers play a crucial role in this process by elevating voltage and reducing current before it enters transmission lines, and vice versa when delivering electricity to consumers. Transmission cables are commonly used at various voltage levels, such as 115 kV and 230 kV, to optimize this efficiency. However, extremely high voltages, exceeding around 2,000 kV, are impractical because they can cause the surrounding air to become conductive, leading to current leakage.
- Secondly, even in efficient transmission systems, there is some resistance in the cables, resulting in energy loss. The thickness of the cables can be adjusted to control these losses, with thicker cables experiencing less energy loss but at a higher material cost. Therefore, the choice of cable thickness is often influenced by material costs.
- Lastly, the longer the distance over which electricity is transmitted, the lower the overall transmission cost.
- These principles are further complicated by the use of alternating current (AC), which can be more easily adjusted using transformers compared to direct currents (DC) and offers higher transmission efficiency.
- However, higher AC frequencies can lead to increased resistance within the materials used for transmission. To optimize electrical transmission efficiency, engineers analyze these various factors within a given network to estimate the amount of energy lost from generation to consumption.
- Alternating current (AC) power is the most commonly used method for transmitting electric power. In AC, the voltage periodically changes direction, switching its polarity. When one polarity encourages the flow of current in one direction, the opposite polarity prompts the current to flow in the opposite direction. The frequency of AC corresponds to the rate at which the voltage changes direction.
- One can visualize this voltage variation as a circular pattern: it completes half of a circle (180°) as it switches in one direction and then the other half of the circle (180°) as it switches in the opposite direction, ultimately returning to its starting point.
- In a three-phase AC circuit, there are typically three wires. As current begins to flow in Wire A, the voltage is at 120°; in Wire B, it is at 240°; and in Wire C, it is at 360°. These represent the three phases of the AC power.
- All three wires carry AC power, and consumers, such as households, receive these three wires to provide power to various appliances. These appliances are designed to operate on AC because it offers greater control compared to direct current (DC).
How is power transmitted?
- In a three-phase AC circuit, each wire transmits an AC current in a different phase. From a power station, the wires are routed to transformers that step-up their voltage. Then, they are suspended from transmission towers, which must be stable and properly wired, as they travel long distances.
- Insulators in contact with the wires draw away some current if there is a surge in the line; circuit-breakers ‘break’ the circuit if there is too much.
- The towers are also grounded and equipped with arresters that prevent sudden increases in voltage, such as due to a lightning strike from affecting the wires. Similarly, dampers prevent vibrations in the wires from affecting the towers’ stability.
- Switches are used to control the availability of current and to move currents between different lines.
- These wires eventually lead to and exit from different kinds of substations. For example, collectors collect power incoming from different sources and relay them to transmission substations.
- Converters modify the AC frequency.
- Distribution substations step-down the voltage in power lines and prepare them for consumption. Transmission substations merge or fork different lines and diagnose problems in different lines.
- All these centres require their own support and safety infrastructure, from electrical engineers to fire protection, from connections to computerised operations to facilities for staff.
How do grids operate?
- A national grid includes all three components of transmission, production and distribution.
- Transmission also has to account for the particulars of power production at different types of sources, at various locations, and how and where that power is consumed. For instance, some sources like coal-fired or nuclear reactors can produce energy continuously, whereas renewable energy sources are intermittent. So grids also have storage facilities that store electrical energy when there’s a surplus supply and release it in times of deficit.
- They are also connected to sources like gas turbines that can provide power on short notice, such as during emergencies, as well as automated systems that inform sources to increase or decrease their output in response to fluctuating consumer demand.
- Grids also need to respond to failure in different parts of the network and prevent them from carrying over to other parts, adjust voltages in response to demand, control the AC frequency, improve the power factor.
- A grid becomes a wide-area synchronous grid if all the generators connected to it are producing an AC current at the same frequency.
- The world’s largest such grid covers Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and Russia.
- The world’s most powerful grid is the North Chinese State Grid, with a connected capacity of 1,700 GW.
- India’s national grid is also a wide-area synchronous grid.
8 . Facts for Prelims
- Silk, known as the queen of fibres, is drawn or reeled from cocoons of the silk moth (Bombyx mori).
- Humans domesticated it more than 5,000 years ago in China, from the wild moth (Bombyx mandarina).
- The ancestral moth is today found in China, the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and far eastern Russia, whereas the domesticated moth is reared all over the world, including in India.
- India is the world’s second largest producer of raw silk after China.
- Caterpillars, also known as silkworms, of both the species of silk feed exclusively on leaves of mulberry plants (genus Morus)
- Silkworms feed voraciously on the mulberry leaves, absorb the chemicals in their midgut, transport them via the hemolymph , which is the arthropods’ analogue of blood, to the silk glands, where they are taken up and bound to the silk protein.
- Mature caterpillars then spin out the silk proteins and associated pigment into a single fibre. The caterpillar wraps the fibre around itself to build the cocoon.
- In seismology, an aftershock is a smaller earthquake that follows a larger earthquake, in the same area of the main shock, caused as the displaced crust adjusts to the effects of the main shock.
- Large earthquakes can have hundreds to thousands of instrumentally detectable aftershocks, which steadily decrease in magnitude and frequency according to a consistent pattern.
- In some earthquakes the main rupture happens in two or more steps, resulting in multiple main shocks. These are known as doublet earthquakes, and in general can be distinguished from aftershocks in having similar magnitudes and nearly identical seismic waveforms.
- Most aftershocks are located over the full area of fault rupture and either occur along the fault plane itself or along other faults within the volume affected by the strain associated with the main shock.
- The Central Information Commission (CIC) is an independent statutory body responsible for ensuring transparency and accountability in government operations.
- It was established under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
- It consists of a Chief Information Commissioner and not more than ten Information Commissioners.
- They are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister.
- The Chief Information Commissioner and an Information Commissioner shall hold office for such term as prescribed by the Central Government or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
- They are not eligible for reappointment.
- The Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Textiles and Commerce and Industry, flagged off 100 mobile vans for sale of wheat flour (Atta) under ‘Bharat’ brand, from Kartavya Path, New Delhi.
- The atta will be available at an MRP not exceeding ₹27.50/Kg.
- This is the latest among a series of steps taken by the GoI for the welfare of ordinary consumers.
- The launch of retail sale of ‘Bharat’ brand Atta will increase supplies in the market at affordable rates, and will help in continued moderation of prices of this important food item.
- It will be available at all physical and mobile outlets of Kendriya Bhandar, National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) and National Cooperative Consumers Federation of India Ltd (NCCF) and will be expanded to other co-op/retail outlets