IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 23rd March, 2016
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
TOPIC: General studies 3
Science and Technology – developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Awareness in the fields of IT, Computers
The colonised Internet: Why the Internet isn’t just free yet?
ICANN: Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers; U.S.-based body that runs the Internet’s central directory and coordinates its key technical functions
Issue: ICANN’s oversight moving from the U.S. government to a multi-stakeholder group
Multi-stakeholder group: elects ICANN’s board of directors, transforming ICANN into an independent organisation, with no external oversight
Consists of some sub-groups each with different technical governance roles, and different kinds of openness to non-members (strong in-group culture and ideology, and various kinds of meritocracies)
Dominated by the industry, which can pay for participants of ‘high quality’, with staying power (for the endless email discussions that could culminate in ‘decisions’), and who are well-versed in the U.S. corporate lingo (ICANN’s board- real decision-making body)
An important step towards making ICANN a genuinely global organisation?
Steps to understand the implications:
what does not change, and
what may even change for the worse
What happens if the proposal is accepted by the U.S. government—
Present-day ICANN: A contractor carrying out some tasks, of which the substantive authority vests with the U.S. government
The U.S. government will now be divested of this authority, and ICANN will become an independent body in managing its domain names-related policy work, and the Internet’s root zone file, containing information about Internet names and numbers, addresses, which are copied and replicated by other servers the world over
What doesn’t change-
Problem that non-U.S. actors have with the U.S. control over ICANN: is that it can unilaterally interfere with the ICANN’s policy process, and the Internet’s root server (containing the authoritative root zone file)
Post transition-it will no longer be able to do so with a direct fiat to ICANN
Judicial, executive and legislative powers held by the U.S. government over ICANN as an American organisation: Remain unchanged
The exceptional situations:
The U.S. President has various kinds of emergency powers regarding key infrastructure, which is likely to extend to ICANN and the root server
Office of Foreign Assets Control-has seized foreign assets in the U.S. on the flimsiest of geopolitical grounds; a country’s domain name, like .in, in the root server can be considered as its asset inside the U.S
Federal Communications Commission: Might at will seek jurisdiction over ICANN-managed critical Internet resources (declared Internet service as a public utility)
S. legislature can make any kind of law affecting any aspect of ICANN and the root server
A few adult content companies have legally challenged the ICANN-mandated .xxx domain name. A U.S. court has taken the case on file, thus exercising its jurisdiction over an ICANN policy decision. If the court strikes down this decision, it will immediately unravel ICANN’s pretensions of global legitimacy.
With the new round of generic top level domains (gTLDs) whereby every big company is encouraged to get its own domain name, like .abcd, it is only a matter of time before a U.S. court comes up with such a decision. Say, a U.S. pharmaceutical company claims in a U.S. court that an Indian generic drug manufacturer is infringing its patents globally, and therefore its assets, including its gTLD, in the U.S., must be seized. The U.S. court, if it agrees, can direct both ICANN to suspend the domain name and the root server operator to delete it from the root file.
The second phase of the group that developed its proposal have been looking into this issue (main issue to be resolved for any real change and progress)
The U.S. government and the board repeatedly put up redlines whenever there were structural proposals that could ensure a greater latitude within the system to embrace change (‘community’ being eager to keep the U.S. government pleased)
Not a democratic way of decision-making but ‘community’ remains most interested to have power fully transferred to itself
This might lead to a situation wherein ICANN’s oversight will shift to a group that has a narrow base and thus, the concerned industry’s narrow interests will entirely take over, with no restraints.
There is a strong need to get ICANN incorporated under international law, with host country immunities for an international organisation
Though ICANN is choosing to be highly accommodative, but with an independent status finally settled, it is likely to get much more unabashed in its narrow self-interest-based and commercial pursuits, disregarding global public interest. Therefore, there is also a need to come under international jurisdiction with a well-formulated external oversight
Connecting the Dots:
Do citizens have rights with respect to digital space? If yes, enumerate them.
TOPIC: General studies 2
India and its neighborhood- relations
Bilateral, regional , global groupings and agreement involving India and affecting its interest
Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.
Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
Pakistan has crippled SAARC: time to reassess
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an economic and geopolitical organization of eight countries that are primarily located in South Asia or the Indian subcontinent.
The SAARC Secretariat is based in Kathmandu, Nepal.
SAARC nations comprise 3% of the world’s area and contain 21% (around 1.7 billion) of the world’s total population and around 9.12% of the global economy as of 2015.
An idea for such a grouping was first mooted by former Bangladeshi president Ziaur Rahman in 1980.
The first Saarc summit was held in 1985 with seven heads of states (of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives) in attendance. Afghanistan was inducted as the eighth full member in 2007.
The 18th SAARC Summit was held in Kathmandu from 26–27 November 2014. The next summit (2016) will be held in Islamabad (Pakistan)
To promote welfare economics, collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia, and to accelerate socio-cultural development in the region.
Region accounts for 2% of world trade and 1.7% of world FDI (foreign direct investment).
Intra-regional trade is less than 6% of our global trade and intra-regional FDI accounts for only 3% of total FDI inflows
In contrast, the share of intra-regional trade for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)—to which SAARC is often compared—is close to 25%. Intra-regional FDI accounts for 18% of the net FDI inflows in the ASEAN region.
India’s recent initiatives to revive vitality:
India occupies a unique position in the South Asian region. By the virtue of its size, location and economic potential, India assumes a natural leadership role in the region.
SAARC satellite that will have applications in areas such as health, education, disaster response, weather forecasting and communications.
SAARC-wide knowledge network to connect students and academic communities, and a Saarc annual disaster management exercise.
The cumulative impact of these developments would resuscitate the SAARC back into action and vitality.
Why there is not much of progress in spite of such initiatives?
Reason for the lack of progress is that Pakistan pursuing its bilateral goals vis-à-vis India has become an obstacle in the path of greater connectivity and interdependence, preventing from attaining its full potential.
Despite the signing of a South Asian Free Trade Agreement in 2004 and the SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services in 2010, there is incomplete implementation of the same.
Are Inner currents between India and Pakistan affecting SAARC progress?
At the Kathmandu summit in November 2014, Pakistan’s delegation scuttled the SAARC Motor Vehicles Agreement and the Saarc Regional Railways Agreement. Following this, India pitched in and took the lead by getting the motor vehicles agreement signed in June 2015 under a sub-regional framework, BBIN, involving the countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal
The red line for Pakistan—Rawalpindi in particular—has been the connectivity between India and Afghanistan. India has no direct connectivity to Afghanistan due to the illegal occupation of a portion of Kashmir by Pakistan. Given Pakistan’s refusal to provide an overland transit route despite repeated exhortations from both India and Afghanistan, Indian goods access the land-locked country though Iran.
Recent investment by China as much as $46 billion in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Pakistan is unlikely to recognize the necessity of establishing connectivity with the rest of the Indian subcontinent
Upon that Pakistan believes SAARC will always be dominated by India; it has hence also pushed for China’s entry as a full member into the grouping. Thus SAARC is bound to remain a perpetual victim of inner currents between India and Pakistan.
BBIN-MVA: Pushing Regional Integration through Sub-regional Cooperation
In a major bid to strengthen sub-regional cooperation, four SAARC permanent members – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) – signed the historic Motor Vehicle Agreement (BBIN-MVA) in Bhutan for the ‘Regulation of Passenger, Personal and Cargo Vehicular Traffic’ amongst them.
The main objective of the agreement is to provide seamless people-to-people contact and enhance economic interaction by facilitating cross border movement of people and goods.
It will be wise of other nations to go ahead with securing connectivity projects without waiting for Pakistan to become active any further such as BBIN-MVA.
India’s initiative on BBIN is a step in the right direction.
A patchwork of bilateral free trade agreements, connectivity projects and sub-regional agreements such as the one secured by BBIN is the way to go forward.
India and Pakistan need to compartmentalize the differences and move forward on common ground to make cooperation a success.
Connecting the dots:
Should India continue to invest in SAARC given Pakistan’s attempts to scupper it? Discuss.