IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 18th August, 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 and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
By 2020- 730 million internet users in India
A report ‘The Future of internet in India’ released by Nasscom (National Association of Software & Services Companies) in partnership with Akamai Technologies Inc., a leader in content delivery network services.
Aim: to understand the impact of the internet on the way people live, learn, work, shop and connect
Focus: on the future trends that will change the landscape of India by 2020
Findings: with 75% of new user growth expected to come from rural areas, India is expected to have 730 million internet users by 2020
India’s internet consumption has already exceeded US to become No. 2 globally. China leads
Globally, the internet users is expected to touch 4,170 million by 2020
Internet and India
Internet has successfully created a strong ecosystem for new businesses to tap into growing markets and create solutions to address their demands
As per the report, the rapid growth of the internet has impacted the key verticals that include e-commerce, travel and hospitality, financial technology and media
The overall e-commerce market in India was valued $17 billion in FY 2016
By 2020, India will have an estimated 702 million smartphones in use
70% of the total online shopping will be preferred to be done by mobile phones
With 35% contribution to e-commerce gross merchandise value, fashion and lifestyle segment will be the largest e-commerce shopping category.
At present, the e-commerce industry is dominated by consumer electronics segment
39% contribution to e-commerce gross merchandise value is non-travel related section
E-tailing is growing 93% every year. The top three e-tailing giants- Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon- account for over 80% of the segment in 2015.
By 2020, e-commerce is likely to double to $34 billion, mainly driven by the growth in the online retail space
Travel across India through online booking will increase
There is a huge data of user-generated content online (views on social media, reviews on websites, etc.) which is driving aspirational travel. These have tipped over the scales in favour of trips that were once only contemplated but never undertaken
The major share of increase in online travel is also because of competitive pricing offered by IRCTC, online travel agents and aggregators
India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF)
By 2020, the total addressable travel market in India is estimated to reach $40 billion and online travel is estimated to account for 40- 50% of all travel related transactions
The tourism and hospitality sector is among the top 15 sectors in India to attract the highest foreign direct investment (FDI)
DIPP: During April 2000-September 2015, the hotel and tourism sector attracted around $8.48 billion in FDI
What drives the growth is demand being generated by younger population which is joining internet
Government initiatives, diverse product offerings, the growing economy, increasing disposable income levels and marketing initiatives are key in shaping Indian tourism sector
Also, there is an increase in number of women and senior citizen travellers, multiple short trips and weekend holidays, and introduction of innovative tourism concepts and customised tour packages.
It is the new medium of personal entertainment
OTT= delivery of entertainment—including TV programmes and movies—via the internet, without having to subscribe to a cable or satellite TV provider
It is given a boost by increased usage of smart phones, reduced data prices and better connectivity
It has the potential to merge the worlds of television and digital media once content providers figure out what their audiences want to watch and distributors figure out how best to deliver it
There will be various ways such as subscriptions, transactions, or free, but ad-supported, platforms
As per a report, India had 12 million active OTT video subscribers in 2014
With it, there is social media with VOIP-based OTT players like Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, and SnapChat. It is changing the revenue game in telecom.
Messaging has seen a shift from traditional SMS to OTT messaging services
Messaging platforms are evolving into destination-content portals
The financial services is being disrupted by the Financial Technology (Fintech)
Fintech market software is estimated to be at $1.2 billion (13-15%) of total market
The remaining 87% focus is primarily in payments and core banking services
The Fintech market is expected to grow 1.7 times between 2015 and 2020
Cash on delivery the way in online financial market, but payments through mobile banking and e-wallets is also on the rise
Government’s Jan Dhan Yojana will help Fintech companies become data-rich, strengthening the unique national identity system (Aadhaar) and the omnipresence of mobile phones in India
Last mile connectivity
This is the most important feature of connecting new users to mainstream world
The next generation of internet users (rural, mobile-centric, and local-language consumers) have to be brought online by multiple stakeholders
The Digital India programme will lead the way by deploying National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) to provide broadband connectivity to cover 250,000 gram panchayats
However, to connect the end user with broadband will be the responsibility of telecom and technology companies
The NOFN will have to be linked with telecom towers to deliver wireless broadband services to rural households but setting up telecom infrastructure in remote areas is a challenge
To help out, companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft are coming up with unconventional methods
Google uses helium balloons to relay signals to remote areas, Facebook plans to use drones, and Microsoft is eyeing the unused spectrum in frequencies used by TV channels to carry data.
These products are expected to start in 2016-17. The governments and telecom companies should partner with internet-based technology giants to drive up the connectivity.
Connecting the dots:
Internet is silently replacing the conventional methods of interaction. Critically analyse
How is increased number of internet users expected to benefit India? Are there any drawbacks? Evaluate
Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
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.
Uniting the divided world order
The article deals about ‘Multilateralism’, which has started to become less effective oand successful.
This article also describes the constant political stresses and tensions that run through multilateral diplomacy.
What is multilateralism?
In international relations, multilateralism is multiple countries working in concert on a given issue.
In broad terms, Multilateralism refers to collective, cooperative action by states – to deal with common problems and challenges when these are best managed collaboratively at the international level.
Areas such as maintaining international peace and security, economic development and international trade, human rights, functional and technical cooperation, and the protection of the environment and sustainability of resources require joint action to reduce costs and bring order and regularity to international relations. Such problems cannot be addressed unilaterally with optimum effectiveness.
What is a multilateral diplomacy?
Multilateral diplomacy is defined as the practice of involving more than two nations or parties in achieving diplomatic solutions to supranational problems.
The global and interconnected character of the 21st century challenges calls for solutions transcending national border and require effective global coordination.
However, on the one hand, we are witnessing a global gridlock in multilateral negotiations and understanding of how to tackle different types of crises.
The examples of multilateral negotiations that didn’t lead to a desired outcome in crucial areas are many, including for example the absence of progress in the 2008 Doha round negotiations. This has also reduced the relevance of World Trade Organisation (WTO). The last successful global trade talks were held in Uruguay, almost 23 years ago.
The world has forged ahead with a cluster of regional and bilateral trade agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Regional FTAs have weakened multilateral systems.
Even geopolitical competition is gradually abstaining from multilateral institutions. For instance –China’s rejection of the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s decision in the South China Sea case, despite signing up to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, along with Russia’s absorption of Crimea, shows changes in the global order.
The march of liberal democracy and free trade, in tandem, in lockstep with global institutions, has seemingly stopped. There is a greater shift towards regionalism.
Challenges to multilateralism
Multilateralism’s rise was the product of unique post-war factors such as American hegemony combined with a post-war consensus on the benefits of democracy. Its decline remains structural – which includes three main areas – concepts, methods and institutions.
Concepts are becoming volatile(liable to change rapidly and unpredictably, especially for the worse).
The number of international conventions has multiplied over a few decades. Some concepts have created complex problems, for example – national sovereignty versus human rights concerns or international criminal justice decisions, environmental and health problems.
Negotiation methods and techniques do not capture the complexity of modern society. The existing institutions do not reflect the increasing role of regionalism and the changing balance of power.
The Security Council reform is still being discussed after a few decades, for instance, India’s struggle to gain its rightful place at the UN Security Council.
There is a problem of inadequate voting rights of emerging and African economies in the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, despite recent progress.
The rapid emergence of new global players such as BRICS and rival institutions — the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in response to the World Bank, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in response to NATO and the G-7 – have profound implications on negotiations and international governance.
Emerging powers are building alliances and common positions in various international fora. African countries increasingly realize that they can better defend their interests when speaking with one voice. (I.e., embracing individualism over social democracy, continuing towards towards atomisation trend)
Changing global order:
Multilateralism is the lifeblood of the European Union and the means to achieving global peace, stability and prosperity, the cornerstones of EU policy.
However, the European welfare state, once a model of social constitutionalism, has started to become less effective and successful. EU today is unable to cope with challenges such as influx of immigrants, refugees, and rise in inequality.
Transatlantic multilateral institutions have failed to manage global challenges such as global warming and financial instability.
Global powers are no longer a cosy club. The West has had its energy sapped by the European crisis, the complicated or confused situation in West Asia, and domestic political gridlock.
Faith in “single undertakings” associated with multilateral institutions has dropped, with bilateral diversification being considered as offering better deals through regional economies, that offer broad access to deep market, while balancing free trade with social goals.
Multilateralism is indeed more complex today than ever before.
Multilateralisation is increasingly perceived to be a straightjacket, dominated by great powers and industrial lobbies. In other words, critics protest that multilateral institutions are typically dominated by rich, powerful countries and that their rules can sometimes be used to thwart the popular will.
For instance, the formation of the WTO was highly coercive, as the wealthy countries imposed rules on poorer ones.
In an interdependent, globalized and networked world, multilateralism will continue to be a key aspect of international relations. Therefore, reviving multilateralism is essential.
However, reviving multilateralism with new players will require structural changes in the world order.
International organizations and the values of multilateralism embedded in them must be reconstituted in line with 21st century principles of governance and legitimacy.
They must be capable of addressing contemporary challenges effectively. This may involve moving beyond the original roots of multilateralism, reassessing the values on which multilateralism is based and promoted, and recognizing that contemporary and prospective challenges call for more agility, nimbleness, flexibility, adaptability and anticipatory rather than always reactive solutions.
The survival and vitality of multilateralism depend on two factors: the capacity to change and adapt and the quality of their governance.
Without continual structural and procedural reforms, the legitimacy and performance deficits will accumulate and there will be an intensifying crisis of confidence in the world’s system of organized multilateralism.
“In the end, the same rules must apply for the big, middle-sized and small countries.”
Some quotes in favour of Multilateralism:
“Terrorism and organized crime can only be resolved through international cooperation based upon the principles of multilateralism — and of international law.”
“Many in Europe feel that the biggest threat to the global order is not rogue states, but the dominance of America — hence the need to shackle it with treaties and multilateral organizations.”
“We cannot accept either a politically unipolar world, nor a culturally uniform world, nor the unilateralism of a single hyperpower.”
“The multilateral trading system could become the battle ground for unsettled geopolitical disputes — with disastrous consequences.”
Connecting the dots:
Multilateralism and Multilateral diplomacy has started to become less effective and successful. Do you agree with this view? Give arguments in favour of your answer.
Critics protest that multilateral institutions are typically dominated by rich, powerful countries and that their rules can sometimes be used to thwart the popular will. Critically comment with examples.