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Newspaper Bits 06-03-2018

Don’t pursue probe against Army officer

  • The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Jammu and Kashmir government not to pursue any investigation against Major Aditya Kumar in connection with the killing of three persons after Army personnel allegedly opened fire on protesters in Shopian district.
  • At the outset of the hearing, Attorney General said the mere filing of the complaint against an Army personnel serving in the disturbed area was barred under Section 7 of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) without the prior sanction of the central government.
  • He cited top court judgements of 2006 and 2014 in support of his contention that without the Centre’s sanction even a complaint against a serving army officer operating in disturbed area was prohibited under the law.
  • The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was enacted in 1958 to bring under control what the government of India considered ‘disturbed’ areas.
  • Suggested Reading :

Threat of new malware looms over cyberspace

  • cybersecurity agencies have detected a new malware called Saposhi
  • which is capable of taking over electronic devices and turning them into ‘bots’, which can then be used for any purpose, including a Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS) which, with enough firepower, can cripple entire industries.
  • Saposhi is similar in its intensity to Reaper, which was taking over millions of devices at the rate of 10,000 devices per day.
  • In October last year, the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT)  issued an alert about Reaper.
Previous malwares : 
Mirai is a malware that turns networked devices running Linux into remotely controlled “bots” that can be used as part of a botnet in large-scale network attacks. Mirai caused widespread outages, it impacted IP cameras and internet routers by simply exploiting their weak or default passwords.
IoT Troop or Reaper, has evolved that strategy, using actual software-hacking techniques to break into devices instead.
A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS)
 is a DoS attack where the perpetrator uses more than one unique IP address, often thousands of them. Since the incoming traffic flooding the victim originates from many different sources, it is impossible to stop the attack simply by using ingress filtering. It also makes it very difficult to distinguish legitimate user traffic from attack traffic when spread across so many points of origin.The scale of DDoS attacks has continued to rise over recent years, by 2016 exceeding a terabit per second.
malware first creates a network of bots — called a botnet — and then uses the botnet to ping a single server at the same time. As the number of pings are far beyond the server’s capacity, the server crashes and denies service to its consumers.
 For example, if a large botnet attacks the server of a fleet cab provider, its server will crash, and scores of consumers will be unable to avail of its services, causing chaos in daily commuting as well as massive losses to the company.
Mechanism in India to deal with cyber attacks
What is CERT 
Computer Emergency Response Team CERT-In is operational since January 2004. The constituency of CERT-In is the Indian Cyber Community. CERT-In is the national nodal agency for responding to computer security incidents as and when they occur.
In the recent Information Technology Amendment Act 2008,CERT-In has been designated to serve as the national agency to perform the following functions in the area of cyber security:
  •  Collection,analysis and dissemination of information on cyber incidents.
  •  Forecast and alerts of cyber security incidents
  •  Emergency measures for handling cyber security incidents
  •  Coordination of cyber incident response activities.
  •  Issue guidelines,advisories,vulnerability notes and whitepapers relating to information security practices,procedures, prevention,response and reporting of cyber incidents.
  •  Such other functions relating to cyber security as may be prescribed
  • The ” Cyber Swachhta Kendra ” (Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre) is a part of the Government of India’s Digital India initiative under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to create a secure cyber space by detecting botnet infections in India and to notify, enable cleaning and securing systems of end users so as to prevent further infections.
  • The ” Cyber Swachhta Kendra ” (Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre) is set up in accordance with the objectives of the “National Cyber Security Policy”
Summer and Heat waves 
extreme heat waves
  • A spike in summer temperatures in India is not new, but some scientists contend that a half-degree rise in average temperature in recent decades has resulted in a higher probability of extreme heat waves and caused a lot of deaths.
  •  A heat event thus has serious implications for public health: it can lead to fatal heat stroke in a small percentage of people.
  • It is vital for governments to ensure that all stakeholders, including the health-care system, are prepared to deal with the phenomenon.
  • The World Health Organisation recommends that countries adopt heat-health warning systems, including daily alerts to ensure that people are in a position to deal with adverse weather, starting with reduction of exposure.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has given the following criteria for Heat Waves :
  •  Heat Wave need not be considered till maximum temperature of a station reaches atleast 40*C for Plains and atleast 30*C for Hilly regions
  •  When normal maximum temperature of a station is less than or equal to 40*C Heat Wave Departure from normal is 5*C to 6*C Severe Heat Wave Departure from normal is 7*C or more
  •  When normal maximum temperature of a station is more than 40*C Heat Wave Departure from normal is 4*C to 5*C Severe Heat Wave Departure from normal is 6*C or more
  •  When actual maximum temperature remains 45*C or more irrespective of normal maximum temperature, heat waves should be declared. Higher daily peak temperatures and longer, more intense heat waves are becomingly increasingly frequent globally due to climate change. India too is feeling the impact of climate change in terms of increased instances of heat waves which are more intense in nature with each passing year, and have a devastating impact on human health thereby increasing the number of heat wave casualties.
It’s time to reimagine South Asia
  • mutually beneficial economic cooperation between Pakistan and India is not taking place because of “blind nationalism” in Pakistan.
  • Those who watch Indian TV channels debating India-Pakistan relations routinely hear similar Pak-phobia. Result: despite being neighbours, India and Pakistan are among the least integrated nations in the world.
  • There are no direct flights between their capitals — New Delhi and Islamabad. The frequency of Delhi-Lahore and Mumbai-Karachi flights have become minimal. The Mumbai-Karachi ferry service was stopped after the 1965 war.
  • At less than $3 billion annually, trade with Pakistan accounts for a meagre 0.4% of India’s growing global commerce.
  • statusquoist’s have set responses Indian side, it will be said that terror and trade cannot go together, terror and talks cannot go together.
  • Pakistani side, resolution of the Kashmir issue has become a precondition for any substantial bilateral cooperation.
  • China has become a new factor influencing India’s negative attitude towards Pakistan
  • If India’s foreign and defence policies proceed on this belief, South Asia is surely heading towards a future of intensified hostilities and conflicts.
  • employment, education, health care and food-and-environmental security. These needs can be met only through regional cooperation, not regional rivalry.
  • China become a part of the solution, A three-way India-China-Pakistan cooperation is not only necessary but indeed possible, and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) provides a practical framework for such partnership.
  • By joining the renamed CPEC, it would gain land access, through Pakistan, to Afghanistan, Iran, Central Asia and western China
World Justice Project
  • the World Justice Project released its Rule of Law Index 2017-18 report it takes into account 44 indicators in 113 countries.
  •  India’s rank in 2017-18 is 62.
  • Every country’s performance was assessed in eight areas, including fundamental rights, which is measured by “absence of discrimination, right to life and security, due process, freedom of expression and religion, right to privacy, freedom of association, and labour rights.”
  • This report, along with others such as the Amnesty International Annual Report 2017-18, indicates the serious erosion of international human rights
  • The rise of majoritarian attitudes, hate speech and hate crimes is a growing concern, including in India.
  • It is not just the erosion of human rights but the normalisation of it that is of concern.
  • The Second World War and the horrors of the Holocaust were the reason for the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.
  • The ideals of justice, equality, and human rights for all, enshrined in the UDHR and other international treaties, are the building blocks of international human rights law.
  • In the international arena there are concerted efforts to advocate the inclusion of international human rights provisions in the local laws of countries and more effective implementation and monitoring.
  • in many instances, engagement with these mechanisms has reduced.
Way forward :
  • While not a panacea, effective engagement with international human rights law is necessary in an era where rights are increasingly being stifled in many countries.

India, China step up engagement

  • India and China are seeking to step up the pace in improving ties, with two high-level ministerial meetings this month leading to a summit meeting.
  • Both sides are to set the stage for more harmonious dealings ahead
  • China agreed to Pakistan’s nomination to the FATF grey list on terror finance last month .
  • India Defence Ministry had put off its Institute of Defence Strategic Analysis (IDSA) Asian Security Conference , It appears India doesn’t want hard opinions on China aired from the government’s most prominent defence think-tank . Also Dalai Lama events in Delhi cancelled, Tibetans shift ‘Thank You India’ function to Dharamsala .
  • All eyes are also on India’s participation at the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) meeting in Beijing , which is China’s equivalent of the World Economic Forum.
  • Revision topic : Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)

China hikes military budget

  • Beijing will raise its defence budget by a hefty 8.1% over the previous year, signalling the country’s intent to build world-class armed forces. The total amount of spending would be $175 billion .
  • China has already inducted the fifth generation J-20 stealth fighters in its arsenal.
  • China had fulfilled its earlier goal of cutting troop numbers by 3,00,000, as part of a road map to build a modern technology driven military force.

Services PMI contracts

  • The Nikkei India Services Business Activity Index came in at 47.8 in February compared with 51.7 in January. A reading above 50 implies an expansion while one below 50 denotes a contraction.
  • The fall in the services index outweighed the upturn seen in the manufacturing index


  • The Reserve Bank on Monday said it would inject additional liquidity of Rs. 1 lakh crore in banks through longer tenor instruments to enable flexibility towards meeting their fund needs.

Now, AI that makes fake videos

  • deepfake” — an ultrarealistic fake video made with artificial intelligence software. It was created using a programme called FakeApp, which superimposed Obama’s face onto the body of a pornographic film actress. The hybrid was uncanny — if you didn’t know better, you might have thought it was really her.
  • FakeApp — a programme that was built by an anonymous developer using open-source software written by Google. FakeApp makes it free and relatively easy to create realistic face swaps and leave few traces of manipulation
  • It’s not hard to imagine this technology’s being used to smear politicians, create counterfeit revenge porn or frame people for crimes. Lawmakers have already begun to worry about how deepfakes could be used for political sabotage and propaganda.
  • Even on morally lax sites like Reddit, deepfakes have raised eyebrows.

Gir lions

  • As many as 32 lions died due to “unnatural causes”, like falling into wells or being run over by trains in 2016 and 2017 in Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat.
  • Its ecoregion is that of Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests, which not only includes Kathiawar Peninsula, where the forest is located, but also other places, like Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan.
  • The Asiatic lion (Panthera leo leo)  is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List because of its small population size.

Queen bee syndrome

  • “Queen bee syndrome” — the phenomenon of women discriminating against other female coworkers as they rise in seniority — may be getting worse, a study has found.

doubling farmers’ real incomes by 2022.

  • Written by Ashok Gulati , Shweta Saini  they believe that armers’ real incomes cannot be doubled even by 2025. The target of achieving it by 2030 seems more plausible.
  • In April 2016, the Dalwai Committee was formed; it came out with a 14-volume report to identify ways to double farmers’ income from the 2015-2016 levels, in real terms, in seven years.
  • the Committee arrived at estimates by applying net state domestic product (NSDP) growth rates on estimated state-wise farmers’ incomes of 2012-13 (from the NSSO).
  • It found that an average Indian farmer household earned Rs 96,703 in 2015-16 (this was Rs 77,977 in 2012-13 according to the NSSO). Doubling this to Rs1,93,406 (at 2015-16 prices) by 2022-23, needed real incomes to grow at CAGR of 10.4 per cent at the all India-level, and at differentiated rates at state-level.
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare organised a conference, “Agriculture2022-Doubling Farmers’ Income”
  • The PM shared his aim to overhaul the agriculture sector and double farmers’ incomes through a four-pronged strategy.
  •  This involves reducing costs of cultivation (through neem-coating urea and soil health cards);
  •  ensuring better prices for produce (through new cost plus-pricing MSP formula, reforming agri-markets through e-NAM and upgrading 22,000 village-markets);
  •  reducing wastage in the value-chain (through proper storage, logistics, food processing, and implementing Operation Greens-TOP (tomatoes, onions and potatoes);
  • and diversifying sources of farmer incomes (through blue, organic, sweet revolution).
Way Forward :
  • Unless the PM makes these bold and rational policy decisions, chances of augmenting farmer incomes are bleak, let alone doubling them by 2022-23.
Quote for essay
 Gandhiji once said, “It’s easy to stand with the crowd. It takes courage to stand alone.”

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