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Mains 2016 Initiative

Mains 2016: Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 – Aims and Targets


sendai-framework


The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (Sendai Framework) is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities for action. The Sendai Framework is a 15-year, voluntary, nonbinding agreement. It recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including:-

Local government
• The private sector and
• Other stakeholders


It aims for


Substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods, and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries.


Four Priorities for Action in the framework


Disaster risk management should be based on an understanding of disaster risk in all its dimensions of vulnerability, capacity, exposure of persons and assets, hazard characteristics and the environment.
• Strengthening disaster risk governance at the national, regional and global levels is very important for prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, and rehabilitation.
• Public and private investment in disaster risk prevention and reduction through structural and non-structural measures Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.


The Seven Global Targets are


Substantially reduce global disaster mortality by 2030, aiming to lower average per 100,000 global mortality rate in the decade 2020-2030 compared to the period 2005-2015.
• Substantially reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030, aiming to lower average global figure per 100,000 in the decade 2020 -2030 compared to the period 2005-2015.
• Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to the global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.
• Substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services by 2030.
• Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020.
• Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation.
• Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030.


India, UNISDR sign Statement of Cooperation on Sendai Framework


Recently, India and United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction signed a Statement of Cooperation. India will partner with UNISDR to work towards strengthening the capacity of Asian countries in ensuring risk resilient development. It will also facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experiences, and collaborative efforts towards
addressing critical regional challenges.


The cooperation aims:-
• To ensure effective implementation and monitoring of the Sendai Framework through Training and capacity building for Asian countries;
• At Promoting international and regional cooperation to reinforce political commitment,
• To facilitate knowledge sharing and strengthen the capacity of UNISDR for monitoring and review of the Sendai Framework.


 

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Mains 2016 Initiative

Mains 2016: Mitochondrial Donation Technology


Mitochondrial Donation Technology


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World’s first child with new three-parent technique (spindle transfer) was born this year in Mexico.


Mitochondrial Donation or Mitochondrial


manipulation technology (MMT) is a form of in vitro fertilization in which the future baby’s mitochondrial DNA comes from a third party apart from mother and father. This is a controversial technique because mitochondria contain genetic makeup and using the mitochondria from a third party means the genetic makeup of the baby has 3 parent.

This is a controversial technique because mitochondria contain genetic makeup and using the mitochondria from a third party means the genetic makeup of the baby has 3 parents.

Applications: Used in cases when mothers carry genetic mitochondrial diseases Cases where other IVF technologies do not work


Mitochondrial disease


 Mitochondria is known as powerhouse of the cell, producing energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) Mitochondrial DNA is made up of 37 genes, making up <0.1% of our body’s total DNA. Mitochondrial dysfunction is due to mutations in either nuclear or mitochondrial DNA sequences.


Techniques used in MMT


  1. Spindle transfer 

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  • In this technique, the unfertilized mother’s egg which has abnormal mitochondria is taken and the spindle and other chromosomes are removed from it.
  • They are then transferred to the unfertilized donor’s egg with healthy mitochondria.
  • This reconstituted egg is then fertilized with sperm from the father.

Pronuclear transfer 


  • In this case, both the mother’s egg which contains abnormal mitochondria and the donated egg which contains normal mitochondria are first fertilized with father’s sperm.
  • Then the mother’s pro nuclei is removed and transferred into the donor’s egg.
  • It is then implanted into the mother’s uterus.

1


Social and ethical issues


  • Though the third part constitutes only 0.1% of the genetic makeup. People opposing it say it
    has psychological and physical effects which provide god like powers to the scientists.
  •  It involves modification of the germ-line which is then inherited by the later generations.
  • This can lead to genetically modified i.e. designer babies where certain traits are changed or fixed.
  • Safety issues may arise when some abnormal mitochondria is left.
  • Techniques like pronuclear transfer involve creating and then destroying an embryo in the process.
  • It raises questions about the identity of the individual, thus it has the potential to cause
    disruption in the society.
  • As scientists keep gaining the huge power to change the genetic makeup of future babies, question of access to the technology depending on income inequality gains importance.


 

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Mains 2016 Initiative

Mains 2016: Disaster management Act in India – Salient Features and Issues



 Disaster management Act in India


rescue_uttrakhand_indian_army_troop_itbp_10

 


Some basic facts


• From 2002 to 2013, India was among the five countries most frequently hit by natural disasters.
• These included the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, which caused around 11,000 deaths and affected 2.79 million people in India, and the 2013 floods in Uttarakhand, which caused 5,748 deaths and affected 4,200 villages.
• Before this, India’s major disasters included Cyclone Paradip in 1999, which caused around 10,000 deaths.
• According to the World Risk Index 2014, India is in the top half of all countries at risk from natural hazards.
• India has suffered from many disasters in its recent history too, both natural and climate related, and these continue to cause devastation.
• In November 2015, floods in the southern city of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, killed over 370 people and damaged crops worth US$190 m.
• And in May 2016, record temperatures of 51°C hit Phalodi, Rajasthan, during a heat wave that affected much of northern India.


Disaster management act, 2005:-


  • Since the enactment of the disaster management act in 2005, it has enacted a new multidisciplinary focus on disaster prevention and risk reduction and a move away from a relief-centric regime.
    • The institutional framework under the Act mandated the creation of the National Disaster Management Authority and state disaster management authorities as the bodies responsible for disaster preparedness and risk reduction at the respective levels.
    • The Disaster Management Division of the ministry of Home Affairs’ retained responsibility for steering the national
    disaster response overall.
    • And, it mandated the concerned Ministries and Departments to draw up their own plans in accordance with the National Plan.
    • The Act further contains the provisions for financial mechanisms such as the creation of funds for the response, National Disaster Mitigation Fund and similar funds at the state and district levels.

Where disaster management act has been lacking


  • The states have not able to implement the concerned plans.
    • NDMA has failed the states to prepare for the disaster they are vulnerable to.
    • Regarding floods, NDMA has no system in place for the early warnings in the vulnerable areas like Uttrakhand.
    • There is alack of coordination between the government agencies and ministries responsible for disaster management like the ministry of earth sciences, state governments,and NDMA.
    • NDMA has failed in performing many important functions like recommending provision of funds for mitigation, as well as relief in repayment of loans or grant of fresh ones.

NDMA’s project management capacity has been found deficient. NDMA has not been able to complete many major projects so far.


National disaster management plan, 2016


Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi recently released the National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP), as a first ever national plan prepared in the country.


Salient features


  • The NDMP incorporates substantively the approach mentioned in the Sendai Framework.
    • The plan covers all phases of disaster management: prevention, mitigation, response and recovery.
    • It provides for horizontal and vertical integration among all the agencies and departments of the Government.
    • The plan has assigned roles and responsibilities of all levels of Government right up to Panchayat and Urban Local body level in a matrix format.
    • As the plan is following the regional approach, it will be beneficial not only for disaster management but also for
    development planning.
    • It also identifies major activities such as early warning, information dissemination, medical
    care, fuel, transportation, search and rescue, evacuation, etc. to serve as a checklist for agencies responding to a disaster.
    • The plan emphasizes on preparing communities to cope with disasters, so it stresses on a greater need for Information, Education, and Communication activities.

Problems with the Disaster Management Plan, 2016


  • The plan has been too general in its identification of the activities to be undertaken by the central and states governments for disaster risk mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, reconstruction, and governance.
    • The plan has not provided any time frame for undertaking these activities.
    • There is not mention of the framework for monitoring and evaluation of the plan.
    • The funding mechanism is also not clear about the project inneed of funds.
    • Activities that the plan has included are not new. Same activities were listed in the previous plans too that too with the time-frame for implementation.
    • Although the plan is said to be aligned with Sendai framework, but there are no goals or targets, unlike Sendai framework.


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Mains 2016 Initiative

Mains 2016: Scorpene data leak – Implications and Way Ahead


Indian Navy's first Scorpene submarine of project 75 is seen after being undocked from Mazagon Docks Ltd, a naval vessel ship building yard, in Mumbai. Express Photo by Ganesh Shirsekar. 06.04.2015. Mumbai.
Indian Navy’s first Scorpene submarine

Scorpene Data Leak


India signed a $3.5bn (£2.6bn, €3.1bn) deal for six Scorpene vessels in 2005 with France. They are being built in cooperation with a state-owned Mumbai shipbuilder.
Over 22,000 pages of top secret data on the capabilities of six highly advanced submarines being built for the Indian Navy in Mumbai in collaboration with a French company have been leaked. The confidential documents were made public by the Australian media.
The Scorpene submarines are small-to-intermediate size vessels currently in use in Malaysia and Chile. Brazil is due to deploy the submarine type in 2018.


What data has been leaked?


  • The leaked data is said to include very sensitive details of the submarine such as technical manuals and models of the boat’s antennae.
  • It gives elaborate details of frequencies at which the submarine gathers intelligence, what levels of noise it makes at various speeds, range and endurance.
  • The documents also disclose the magnetic, electromagnetic and infrared data.
  • The noise specifications of the propeller and the radiated noise levels that occur when the submarine surfaces, have also been leaked.

Implications of leak


  • The leak will have major implications for the defense preparedness of the Indian Navy. In the case of submarines, it is their stealth that sets them apart Data is very crucial and it will have ramifications for the freedom with which Indian submarines can move in high-seas.
  • The deployment of submarines will be affected since very vital equipment data has been leaked.
  • The contents of the report will undermine India’s maritime security.
  • It is going to be challenging to India’s own Ocean strategy. Chinese submarine activity in the Indian Ocean has increased dramatically the past few years.
  • Scorpene was supposed to be the Indian counter to other powers in the ocean, data leakage put India on the.
  • Scorpene incident is the reminder of India’s need to re-look at its own cyber security and defense production norms.
  • Despite the claims of the defense ministry and other government agencies, India remains a laggard in terms of securing its more sensitive systems.
  • Cyber security remains a policy domain fragmented among over a dozen agencies.
  • India continues to import pretty much all of its military needs including combat rifles and specialized clothing. This leakage should be an alarming bell for India to create its own indigenous industry.
  • Kalvari is the first of the Scorpene-class submarines for India, which was scheduled for induction later this year. Now India would have to reconsider the induction that too in the times when regional tension is already escalating in the South Asia. It is an open secret that foreign intelligence agencies and defense firms are reluctant to share sensitive technology with India because they believe the computer systems of its State-owned defense companies are wholly compromised by the Chinese.
  • When India shares any details with any foreign manufacturer, there always is a possibility that the firm may sell the details to  any other countries at a price which is much more attractive, that too without any danger of ramification.

Way ahead


  • The only long-term solution to data leak threats is “Make in India.”
  •  It is a long-term plan that will take 15 to 20 years, but the only way forward is to trust the domestic manufacturers and promote them.
  • Until now the government has been reluctant in sharing any information on defense technologies with private firms, but after this information leak, it looks feasible for India to trust on its own private firms rather than foreign countries.
  • Government must come up with the laws and guidelines that promote trust and coordination between the private firms and government companies in developing complex technologies.

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Mains 2016 Initiative

Mains 2016: Draft Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016: Provisions and Criticisms


geospatial


Draft Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016


ContextMinistry of Home Affairs in May this year released a draft of “The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016.”
It basically aims to regularize critical information on Maps services that affect “the security, sovereignty and integrity” of the country.
Cold response from MNCs like Google to India’s security concerns is seen as a prime reason for the proposed legislation.
The government is said to have undertaken this move after social networking sites showed J&K to be a part of Pakistan and Arunachal Pradesh as a part of China


Provisions


  • It will be mandatory to take permission from the Security Vetting Authority before acquiring, disseminating, publishing or distributing any geo-spatial information of India.
  • Wrong depiction of the map of India by anyone could land the violators in jail with a maximum term of seven years and impose a fine up to Rs 100 crore.
  • Security venting Authority- Grants licenses to organisations/individuals who want to use geospatial data. It will check the content and data provided and make sure it is well within national policies.
  • It seeks to restrict the use of India’s geospatial data within India and it also pertains to any
    entity that uses this data outside India.
  • Violating the terms and conditions of the license mentioned thereof, punishable with a
    fine and/or suspension or revocation of the license and/or imprisonment.

Scope of the bill


  • The bill will not only affect companies like Google who have mapping tools like Google Maps, but also bring into its ambit other companies using maps for professional purposes like :-
  • Taxi-hailing services Ola, Uber (plot location on map);
  • Travel companies (map out properties offer mapped guides)
  • WhatsApp (allows users to share location with friends);
  • E-commerce delivery service providers (plot packages on a map) and many others.
  • It also includes anyone with a GPS-enabled smartphone as well as users of smartphones and laptops with inbuilt GPS.

India-Pakistan angle


Pakistan raised objections at UN?

Pakistan has raised it’s concerns with UN stating that India’s official map, which is mentioned in the Bill, shows J&K to be a part of India, which is ‘factually incorrect’ and legally untenable.
The letter calls upon the UN to uphold UNSC resolutions and urge India to stop such acts which are in violation of international law.


India’s response


India, in its response, stated that the issue was entirely internal and the nation had no business seeking UN’s help.
The government has stated further that the proposed Bill is an entirely internal legislative matter of India since the whole of the state of J&K is an integral part of India. Pakistan or any other party has no locus standi in the matter.


Criticisms of bill


  • Experts have slammed the proposed bill saying it will bring back days of license Raj and create hurdles in business and technological development for companies.
  • There are already laws in place that prevent the use of geospatial information to undermine national security, like Official Secrets Act, 1923.
  • Section 5 of the OSA contains multiple provisions that penalize the possession and communication of maps that undermine “national security.”
  • Hence it goes against the policy of the government to reduce the number of laws in place to reduce the bureaucratic hurdles.
  • The definition of “geo-spatial information” will include all geo-referenced information, and data, that is produced by everyday users as an integral part of various everyday uses of digital technologies.
  • Bill effectively makes it illegal to acquire and maintain ownership of geospatial information that has not been subjected to security vetting.
  • Even ordinary users, who are unknowingly looking at maps that contain sensitive geospatial information, are committing an illegal act under the draft bill.
  • Even depictions of India for purposes of speculative fiction would be penalised under this proposed bill unless they depict the official borders.
  • Given the lack of a reusable version of maps of India, including of India’s official boundary as recognized by the Survey of India, it becomes impossible for people to accurately depict the boundary of India.
  • There are a number of sections in the draft bill which have negative implications for the rights of all users and potentially impinge on the constitutional rights of Indian citizens.

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Mains 2016 Initiative

Mains 2016: National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID): Functions and Concerns


National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID)


natgrid


Context: The government of India in 2016 appointed Ashok Patnaik as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Intelligence Grid. The appointment is being seen as the government’s effort to revive the project.


Introduction:


1. The attack on Mumbai in 2008, 26/11 attack, exposed many weaknesses in Indian intelligence security and information & response network system.
2. The then home minister P. Chidambaram came with the idea of National Intelligence Grid as a part of are structuring of security architecture at the national level.


What is NATGRID?


It is an integrated intelligence grid connecting databases of core security nagencies to collect comprehensive patterns of intelligence that can be readily accessed by intelligence agencies.


Functions of NATGRID:


1. Under NATGRID, 21 sets of databases will be networked to achieve quick, seamless and secure access to desired information for intelligence/enforcement agencies.
2. The database would be accessible to authorised persons from 11 agencies on a caseto- case basis, and only for professional investigations into suspected cases of terrorism.
3. It will utilize technologies like Big Data and analytics to study and analyze the huge amounts of data from various intelligence and enforcement agencies to help track suspected terrorists and prevent terrorist attacks.


Importance (need) of NATGRID:


1. India is a place where many terror networks operate that carryout attacks from time to time. Despite prone to such terror attacks; we don’t have a well-formulated database of these terror networks.
2. The idea is to collate and analyze vital data to get the complete view of a situation. Details that take one to three months can be had within minutes.
3. Nat Grid will tackle the problem of coordination mechanism regarding data transfer from one agency to another agency will tackle.
4. Due to federal nature of government, the coordination at center and states level is also lacking and in the case of any emergency, the response mechanism is not effective. Here too Nat Grid will be useful.


Concerns:


1. There can be misuse of digital databases against the citizens, it may compromise individual privacy and even violate national security.
2. Crucial intelligence information, if available to many agencies, can be leaked and used against the nation.
3. As no state agency or police force has access to its database, its efficacy in preventing terror has also been questioned thus reducing chances of immediate, effective action.
4. The data can be misused by state agencies itself and surveillance like situation against every citizen is against the democratic principle.Snowden case is a very good example of the threat this kind of database pose.


National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC):

NCTC is a proposed federal anti-terror agency to be created in India. It is modeled on the National Counter terrorism Center of the USA. The proposal arose after the 2008 Mumbai attacks where several intelligence and operational failures revealed the need for a federal agency with real-time intelligence inputs of actionable value specifically to counter terrorist acts against India.
The proposal has however met with much criticism from the Chief Ministers of various states who see this as a means of weakening India’s federalism.
States allege that the NCTC has been empowered to search and arrest people without keeping the state government, police or anti-terror squad in the loop, despite law and order being a state subject in Indian constitution.


Conclusion:


A robust and secure NATGRID is of the vital interest to the nation. Issues related to privacy and access can be addressed by strict regulatory and authentication norms or by introducing a privacy law regarding that. But considering the present situation it is important that the data with various agencies must be integrated to check terror, corruption, black money and other crimes.


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Mains 2016 Initiative

Mains 2016: Farm Subsidies and WTO – Issues and Way Ahead


Farm Subsidies and WTO


farm


WTO Functions


  1. Ensure all countries benefit from world trade.
  2. Reducing barriers to international trade – both tariff barriers and non-tariff barriers.
  3. Getting the members to Enter into multilateral trade agreements.
  4. Providing forum for negotiation and dispute settlement for the members.
  5. Cooperating with UN, World and IMF for a global economic policy

WTO has many categories of agreement like agreements for goods , services , property rights etc.

Under agreement for goods category there is Agreement on Agriculture category.

Agreement on Agriculture has 3 heads

  • Market Access
  • Export subsidies
  • Domestic Agriculture Subsidy

WTO classifies Domestic Agricultural subsidies into three categories:

  • Green box- these subsidies cause minimum distortion and does not affect the trade balance.
  • Blue box- these subsidies that does not increase with increase in production.
  • Amber box -Subsidies that distort trade balance like subsidies on fertilizers, seeds, power and irrigation.They encourage excessive production,making the country’s products cheaper than others in international markets.

WTO Issue-


  • Per the original Agreement on agriculture (AoA), the developed and developing countries have to keep their Amber box subsidies within De-minimus level i.e. 5% and 10% of their agriculture production in 1986-88 respectively.
  • India opposed this base year and limits, because it would make the implementation of food security programs for the poor and MSP for the farmers impossible.
  • India wants the subsidy computation methodology to reflect current international prices not 1986.
  • Hence, as a measure of temporary relief, in 2013 Bali summit a “peace clause” for the AoA was enacted.

Salient features of Peace Clause:

  • No member, can drag any developing country to Dispute settlement mechanism of WTO, for violation of de-minimus limits in AoA.
  • Provided that the said developing country is paying subsidies for staple food crops for public stock-holding program or For food security purpose.
  • Providing annual information of its food security Program to WTO.
  • Permanent solution will be taken no later than 11th ministerial conference i.e. at December 2017.

Problem with the Peace Clause


  • India’s worry was that if the clause expired before a permanent solution was in place, food security programmes and policies to protect farmers, such as Minimum Support Prices, would face unwanted uncertainty.
  • The clause also required full disclosure of MSPs and annual procurement for food security programmes, which the Government fears would leave India open to questioning by other countries on domestic matters.

So, The new government in Nov 2014 , managed to get anew’ peace clause which was signed between India and US.

  • It allowed countries such as India to continue to freely procure and stock grains for the public distribution system even if subsidies resulting from these breach limits under the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture (AoA).
  • It is ‘open ended ‘ until a permanent solution to the issue of farm subsidies linked to national food security is arrived at.

Farm Subsidies in India-


Various type of subsidies provided by india to its farmers include:

Input subsidy, power subsidy, fertilizer subsidy, seed subsidy, irrigation subsidy, credit subsidy.

Recently, US has questioned India at the WTO on its move to increase minimum support prices (MSPs) for Kharif crops in the current year.

India said that its main objective for increasing MSP for pulses and oil-seeds was:

  • To cover the increasing gap between the demand and domestic supply of these crops.
  • leguminous pulses have environmental benefits as they consume less water and reduce soil degradation.
  • MSPs are intended to reduce distress sales by poor farmers.

Why India needs to Subsidize its farmers


  • India is basically an agrarian economy with over 50% of population directly or indirectly attached to agriculture though it doesn’t contributes very high in GDP .
  • One third of population lives below the poverty line or near it.
  • The developed nations see India as a huge market for food-grains and other products.
  • Indian democracy relies heavily on farmers , to keep them happy is also politically motivated.
  • There is a threat of dumping by countries producing a particular product in huge quantities.
  • Large size of population is employed in agriculture . If they drop out of agriculture, some other mean should be there to absorb them instead it would lead to heavy unemployment.

Facts-


  • China’s farm subsidies go to the tune of $100 billion. Though it provides less than $100 as subsidy per farmer annually while the US provides more than $20,000 per farmer annually.
  • US provides more than $150 billion of subsidies under the Green Box
  • India was blocking the Trade facilitation Agreement of WTO , as a bargaining chip until a permanent solution to the subsidy and public stocking issue was not reached . The TFA was approved by cabinet this year in Feb.

Nairobi 2015-


India wanted an agreement on a Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) and a permanent solution on public stock-holding for food security.

SSM

  • A trade remedy, important for developing countries
  • Will allow developing countries to temporarily hike duties to counter sudden import surges and price fall due to the heavily subsidized agricultural imports.

Takeaways from Nairobi Declaration

  • Developed Members have to immediately eliminate their remaining scheduled export subsidy entitlements.
  • Developing country Members will eliminate their export subsidy entitlements by the end of 2018.
  • The members of the global trade body agreed on a commitment for giving the developing nations a right to take recourse to Special Safeguard Mechanism to protect their farmers
  • Phasing out export subsidies on cotton immediately for developed nations, and after January 2017 for developing nations.
  • The Bali and the General Council’s November 2014 decision on public stock-holding which gives protection to farmers was reaffirmed.
  • An LDC (Least Developed Countries) package, was also agreed all the members, which would include duty-free, quota-free market access for LDCs, the LDC services waiver (to ensure preferences to LDCs in services trade) and preferential rules of origin.

Way Ahead- 


US and its supporters want a finite number of deliverable in which they themselves do not have to undertake any fresh commitments . while the countries like India which are heavily dependent on agriculture and least developed countries which are at much disadvantage find themselves bargaining for some leverages in the present system which can easily be skewed in their disadvantage.

It is required for these countries to stand together for their legitimate demands while at the same time not jeopardize world trade which can be for there own development.

Without world consensus such negotiations are difficult to come by leading to alternative agreements like TPP etc.



 

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Mains 2016 Initiative

Mains 2016: Augmented Reality


Augmented Reality


aug-reality


What is Augmented Reality?


Augmented reality is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time. Unlike virtual reality, which creates a totally artificial environment, augmented reality uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it.


Applications of Augmented Reality:


1. Navigation: Enhanced GPS systems are using augmented reality to make it easier to get from point A to point B. Using the phone’s camera in combination with the GPS, the users see the selected route over the live view of what is in front of the car.
2. Sightseeing: Using a smartphone equipped with a camera, tourists can walk through historic sites and see facts and figures presented as an overlay on their live screen.
a. These applications use GPS and image recognition technology to look up data from an online
database.
b. In addition to information about a historic site, applications exist that look back in history and show how, the location looked 10, 50 or even 100 years ago.
3. Military: The Heads-Up Display (HUD) is the typical example of augmented reality when it comes to military applications of the technology.
a. A transparent display is positioned directly in the fighter pilots view. Data typically displayed to the pilot includes altitude, airspeed, and the horizon line in addition to other critical data.
b. The term “heads-up” comes from the fact that the pilot doesn’t have to look down at the aircraft’s instrumentation to get the data they need.
c. The Head-Mounted Display (HMD) is used by ground troops. Critical data such as enemy location can be presented to the soldier within their line of sight.
d. This (HMD) technology is also used for simulations for training purposes.
4. Medical: Medical students use the technology to practice surgery in a controlled environment. Also, Visualizations (with AR) aid in explaining complex medical conditions to patients. Augmented reality can reduce the risk of an operation by giving the surgeon improved sensory perception.
5. Gaming: It has changed the gaming experience in a revolutionary way. The mixing up of virtual life with real life using GPS has given a unique experience in gaming.
6. Safety and rescue operations: In the case of emergencies, the police or firefighters often arrive at chaotic scenes and need to make sense of the environment and navigate a place they have never been to. With the use of AR technology (virtual maps and X-ray vision) they can help better in such situations.


Limitations/Challenges:


1. Currently, AR works better in static, unchanging situations, and when it has to show information that is constantly changing, it becomes less accurate.
2. It has privacy concerns due to its facial and location recognition technologies.
3. With the already isolation of individuals due to various technologies (e.g. social media), AR can further lead to social detachment among people.


Recent concern related to augmented reality games:


1. Some of the games like Pokemon Go, and other advanced AR devices like Google Glass and Holo Lens are present in the market today.
2. All AR devices whether it is a game or device, distracts people from their surroundings, leading to potentially severe consequences.
3. Several countries have issued advisories regarding the game and some have even raised ‘national security’ concerns. A Pokemon Go player was robbed at knife point in New Hampshire, a player got stuck in a tree in a cemetery in New Jersey, a teenager was led to a dead body in a river in Wyoming, and in Baltimore, a man drove into a police car while chasing Pokemon.


Safety concerns Linked to children:


1. Real-world game-play has been linked to armed robberies as criminals have used the game to locate and lure intended targets and children are most vulnerable in that scenario.
2. Since these games encourage players to go to areas which may not belong to them. Trespassers whether the children or a mature person face a real threat of physical harm from property owners who may use force to protect their property.
3. The game requires users’ full attention immediately. Children playing games on the roads can meet an accident due to speedy cars or any other cause.
4. Since the game, developed by Niantic, uses Google Maps and has access to IP addresses of the users, it can be used to trace locations, in which case children are the most vulnerable and will be unable to respond to any criminal activities.
5. When a player downloads Pokémon Go, the app gets “full access” to the person’s phone. Children playing games on their parent’scellphones could give up personal data in the phones.
6. A number of doctors and psychologists feel that these games add to the stress levels of the player and children tend to get more stressed due to their immature emotional level.
7. These games can affect a growing child’s ability to distinguish between real and virtual objects.


Way ahead:


Accidents and mishaps can be avoided by being more alert and avoiding seedy locations. The guardian of children needs to be more aware as these technologies can lead to the isolation of children from family.
The only way to resolve this from the developer’s side would be to maintain a global, up-to-date information bank on what areas are off limits, and alter the gaming experience accordingly. The sheer scale of this task makes it very difficult to accomplish by today’s standards.


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Mains 2016 Initiative

Mains 2016: Zika Virus – All you need to know


Zika virus


 zika


Introduction


Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. It is an emerging mosquito-borne virus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys. Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.


Symptoms


Symptoms of Zika virus infections are similar to other arbovirus infections such as dengue. Like:-

• Fever
• Skin rashes
• Conjunctivitis
• Muscle and joint pain
• Malaise, and headache

National health authorities in Brazil have reported potential neurological and auto-immune complications of Zika virus disease. Agencies investigating the Zika outbreaks are finding an increasing body of evidence about the link between Zika virus and microcephaly.


Transmission


  • Zika virus is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus.
  • This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever.
  • Zika virus can migrate between humans through sexual contact
  • it can also cross the placenta, affecting an unborn fetus
  • An infected mother can pass on the virus to her newborn around the time of birth.
  • The vertebrate hosts of the virus are primarily monkeys and humans.

Threat


  • Zika virus outbreak in Latin America could be a bigger threat to global health than the Ebola epidemic.
  • There is currently no vaccine available for this disease.
  • Most virus carriers of Zika virus are symptomless.
  • It is a silent infection in a group of highly vulnerable individuals – pregnant women.
  • However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect.

Microcephaly– abnormal smallness of the head,a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects.


  • With at least 80% of those infected showing no symptoms, tracking the disease is extremely difficult.
  • Only extreme measures like DDT are likely to contain the Zika threat, which will be environmentally harmful.

Prevention


  • Prevention and control rely on reducing mosquitoes through source reduction.
  • Reducing contact between mosquitoes and people.
  • This can be done by using insect repellent; wearing clothes (preferably light-colored).
  • Using physical barriers such as screens, closed doors and windows, and sleeping under mosquito nets.
  • Special attention and help should be given to those who may not be able to protect themselves adequately.
  • Zika virus is diagnosed through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and virus isolation from blood samples.

How does virus attack?


  • Viruses are tiny organisms that may lead to mild to severe illnesses in humans, animals, and plants.
  • Viruses by themselves are not alive. They cannot grow or multiply on their own and need to enter a human or animal cell and take over the cell to help them multiply.
  • Viruses lie around our environment all of the time just waiting for a host cell to come along. They can enter us through the nose, mouth or breaks in the skin.
  • Once inside, they find a host cell to infect.
  • For example, cold and flu viruses will attack cells that line the respiratory or digestive tracts.
  • It then begins making copies of the viral genetic instructions and new viral proteins using the virus’s genetic instructions and the cells enzyme machinery.
  • The new copies of the viral genetic instructions are packaged inside the new protein coats to make new viruses.

Regardless of the type of host cell, all viruses follow the same basic steps:-

  • A virus particle attaches to a host cell.
  • The particle releases its genetic instructions into the host cell.
  • The injected genetic material recruits the host cell’s enzymes.
  • The enzymes make parts for more new virus particles.
  • The new particles assemble the parts into new viruses.
  • The new particles break free from the host cell Once inside the cell, the viral enzymes take over those enzymes of the host cell.

Categories
Mains 2016 Initiative

Mains 2016: Light Fidelity or Li-Fi


Light Fidelity or Li-Fi


lifi


What is Li-Fi?


LiFi is a Visible Light Communications system running wireless communications, traveling at very high speeds.


How does it work?


1. LiFi uses common household LED light bulbs to enable data transfer, reaching speeds of up to 224 gigabits per second.
2. Although Li-Fi bulbs would have to be kept on to transmit data, the bulbs could be dimmed to the point that they are not visible to humans and yet still functional.


How is it different from Wi-Fi?


1. Li-Fi and Wi-Fi are quite similar as both transmit data electromagnetically. However, Wi-Fi uses radio waves while Li-Fi runs on visible light.
2. Li-Fi signals cannot pass through walls. Therefore, it is useful for short-range transmission only.
3. Due to its shorter range, Li-Fi is more secure than Wi-Fi and it’s reported that embedded light beams reflected off a surface could still achieve 70 megabits per second.


Usage/Benefits of Li-Fi:


  1. Freeing up the spectrum: When the traffic is diverted to Li-Fi (wherever available), already clogged cellular networks would be relieved of their burden.
  2. Li-Fi can be used in electromagnetic sensitive areas like in aircraft cabins, hospitals, laboratories etc, without causing electromagnetic interference.
  3. Smart lighting: Street lamps could be used to provide Li-Fi hotspots.
  4. Electronic devices such as laptops, smart phones, tablets and other devices can interconnect directly using Li-Fi.
  5. Transportation: Headlights and tail lights in vehicles are moving to LED and so are streetlights. Li-Fi can be used for vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to roadside communications for road safety and traffic management.
  6. Li-Fi can also easily work underwater, where Wi-Fi fails completely, thereby throwing open endless opportunities for military and navigational operations.
  7. Li-Fi with its impressive high speed could make a huge impact on the internet of things, with data transferred at much higher levels with even more devices able to connect to one another.
  8. When developed fully, Li-Fi offers potential applications for a greener and cleaner future,
    riding on the rapid growth in the in the use of LED across the world.

Challenges/Disadvantages:


  1. Light cannot pass through walls so Li-Fi would have mobility issues.
  2. To make a Li-Fi network functional throughout the house, one will need these light bulbs in every room to have seamless connectivity.
  3. The external lights (sunlight and other bulbs) may cause obstructions in Li-Fi’s transmission.
    path, thus it may create disturbances in the communication process.
  4. Initial installation cost is high as Li-Fi receiving devices will require adapters to transmit data back to the transmitter.
  5. One of the drawbacks is that the light needs to be on all the time to deliver connectivity.
  6.  Another drawback is that Li-Fi is not very effective outdoors, meaning that public Li-Fi will not be able to replace public Wi-Fi networks anytime soon.

Conclusion:


If Li-Fi can be put into practical use, every LED lamp (indoor as well as outdoor) can be converted into something like a hot spot to transmit data to every mobile device to achieve universal broadband communication between devices.
Also, it presents another unique possibility: transmitting power wirelessly, wherein the Smartphone will not only receive data through Li-Fi but will also receive power to charge itself. Thus, it has immense potential which can be channelized for the more inclusive and better use of the internet.