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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 3rd October, 2016

  • October 3, 2016
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Oct 2016, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 3rd October, 2016

 

SECURITY/NATIONAL

 

TOPIC:

General Studies 3

  • Awareness in the fields of IT, computers,
  • Challenges to internal security through communication networks, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.
  • Linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Important aspects of governance

 

Cybercrime and need of robust cyber security policy

Cyber security and defence against cyber warfare assume greater significance due to rapidly increasing risks, vulnerabilities, threats, cybercrimes and fraud. The incidence of cybercrimes in the country went up significantly in 2015 where number of cases booked under the cybercrime category rose by 20.5%. This reiterates the need of an effective cyber security policy to thwart cyber threats.

What is cybercrime?

  • Cybercrime is defined as a crime in which a computer is the object of the crime (hacking, phishing, spamming) or is used as a tool to commit an offense (child pornography, hate crimes).
  • Cybercriminals may use computer technology to access personal information, business trade secrets, military data or use the Internet for exploitive or malicious purposes.
  • Criminals who perform these illegal activities are often referred to as hackers.

Today, criminals and rogue nations are increasingly attacking the technology assets of individuals, organizations and governments, stealing and selling valuable information, and in an alarming trend, holding data for ransom.

Some examples are:

  • California hospital’s technology systems and encrypted patient-care data was hacked. A ransom of over $5.5 million was demanded.
  • A leading e-commerce company recently discovered that a loophole in its payment gateway gave the hackers opportunity to procure goods at 100% discount coupons.
  • A hacker sent spurious email from CEO’s mailbox to the finance department asking it to transfer funds to a fictitious vendor’s bank account.

Thus, new facets of cyber threats are emerging with advancing technology and new business models.

Use of internet

  • The government and enterprises have now increased internet usage for critical applications like operating power grids and smart cities, conducting banking transactions etc.
  • However, these increased usage has brought forward cybersecurity concerns.

 

Cyber terrorism

  • Currently, state sponsored cyber terrorism, non-state terrorist groups, corporate and individual hackvists are engaged in different crimes, espionage, theft of patents, and other information assets.
  • Nations such as Russia, China, Iran, North Korea are reported to use cyber capabilities as an effective geostrategic tool for espionage, propaganda attacks, to target critical infrastructure systems, for intelligence gathering and also to support political and military objectives.
  • Non-state terrorist groups deploy internet “to organise, recruit, spread propaganda, collect intelligence, raise funds, and coordinate operations”. Example: ISIS is found targeting sensitive information about US military personnel to spur ‘lone-wolf’ attacks for theft, extortion, and drug trafficking. It is also spreading its vicious propaganda through social networking sites which attract a larger number of people, mainly youth.

India Inc.’s cyber security preparedness

  • Unfortunately, the Indian industries also don’t have robust response to cyber risks.
  • India ranks third globally as a source of malicious activities and its enterprises are the sixth-most targeted by cybercriminals.
  • There have been investments in high-end security products, cyber-breach detection capabilities in most large organizations, yet they remain largely ineffective.
  • Their crisis-response strategies also appears to be inadequate. In early 2016, EY conducted a cyber-attack simulation for 79 CEOs where they were asked how they would react when informed about their customer data being compromised.
  • The responses ranged from contacting the chief information security officer to the chief marketing officer to the corporate communications officer. However, most executives did not have concrete plan with regards to cybercrime related to ransom demands.

Thus, the organisations have to protect their intellectual property, customer, vendor and employee data, strategic plans, financial statements, legal positions etc. which are at risk due to cyber threat and enhance their cyber resilience.

Way forward

Need for awareness and skilled manpower

  • Now, the attacks cannot be limited just by installing anti-virus security. It has become far more complex.
  • Cybercrimes include techniques like botnets (use of network of robots that spread malware), zombie computers (a computer that has been hacked into and is used to launch malicious attacks), app exploitation, and detecting problems in newer programming languages like Python, among others.
  • Hence, now the cyber security is not only about protecting but also detecting and responding.
  • Currently, there is a need for three lakh professionals but the availability is around 30,000. Hence, there has to be a dedicated cadre of cyber security professionals and experts.

 

Need of stronger national cyber security policy

  • Cyber-attacks are not a matter of “if” but “when” in these times.
  • India’s existing cyber security policy of 2013 must be reviewed in the light of emerging cyber threats.
  • India’s cyber security strategy must be able to protect multiple digital intrusions at all levels: military and corporate espionage, electronic attacks disrupting critical infrastructure, ICT and IoT systems and data privacy, integrity and security of its citizens.
  • A national cyber security agency should be set up to develop appropriate policy, strategy and action plan, linking key ministries.
  • Dissemination of best security practices, intelligence sharing, intrusion reporting and effective coordination and partnership between private, corporate, government and international level organisations like the UN, the European Union and India’s allies.
  • Signing of MoUs on cyber defence with allies and international organisations may become unavoidable as cyber threats defy state borders and organisational boundaries.
  • Thus, cyberspace is increasingly becoming a key domain besides air, sea and land warfare. The nation’s top strategic, business, and technical leadership, both from government and private must work in tandem bolstering partnerships between central, States, and the local governments.
  • Adequate funding for ICT and IoT security is inevitable for strategic research and development along with enhancing India’s technological and investigative capabilities.

Connecting the dots:

  • What are the cyber challenges faced by government and organisations? Discuss
  • Dependence on internet is necessity but also a threat. Critically analyse the statement with respect to India’s cyber security and cyber threat preparedness.

 

Related articles:

Upgrading India’s cyber security architecture

Digitised records and patient rights

ENVIRONMENT

TOPIC: General Studies 3

  • Environment and Ecology, Bio diversity – Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Air pollution levels up by 8%: U.N. report

Concerns:

  • The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) meeting at Nairobi noted that air pollution has increased by 8 per cent and progress and policies on air quality fall short of what is needed to save millions of lives each year.
  • At least 600,000 deaths being caused annually in India by fine particulate matter pollution in the air — data released by the World Health Organisation
  • So many deaths could be attributed to particulate matter 2.5 micrometres or less in size
  • Residents in many urban areas are forced to breathe unhealthy levels of particulates, and the smallest of these — PM10 and less — can penetrate and get lodged deep in the lungs
  • A recent study by Yale and Columbia University ranked India 126th out of 132 countries surveyed on environmental performance and worst air pollution; far below all BRICS nations

WHO Global Burden of Disease study has also been working to estimate pollution-linked health impacts, such as stroke and ischaemic heart disease, acute lower respiratory infection and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Causes:

Data on fine particulates in India show that in several locations the pollutants come from burning of biomass, such as coal, fuel wood, farm litter and cow dung cakes. In highly built-up areas, construction debris, road dust and vehicular exhaust add to the problem.

SO2 and NO2:

  • Coal-powered thermal power plants are the leading sources of SO2 and NO2 in the environment.
  • Growing number of cars:
    • Low standards for vehicle emission
    • Diesel vehicles are responsible for 56% of all PM emissions and 70% of all Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) emissions
    • Content of sulphur in fuel makes it dirtier and lowers the efficiency of catalytic convertors, which control emissions in automobiles.

Indoor Air Pollution:

  • As per Census 2011, 87% of rural households and 26% of urban households depend on biomass for cooking.
  • Burning of biomass is a leading cause of indoor air pollution and is responsible for respiratory and pulmonary health issues in approximately 400 million Indians.
  • Usage of Kerosene:
  • The proportion of rural households using kerosene as a primary source of energy for lighting is almost 30%.
  • Kerosene lanterns used in rural areas are a primary source of emission of black carbon soot and cause significant health impact, particularly in the case of women and children.

 

Impacts

Cost of Air pollution- 3% of the GDP: A World Bank report highlighted that the annual cost of air pollution, specifically pollution from particulate matter (burning of fossil fuels): 3% of the GDP of the country:

  • Outdoor air pollution accounting 1.7% and
  • Indoor air pollution for 1.3%

The report observed that a 30% reduction in particulate emissions by 2030 would save India $105 billion in health-related costs and a 10% reduction would save $24 billion.

Leading cause of Death: The Global Burden of Disease Report has ranked outdoor air pollution as the fifth leading cause of death in India and indoor air pollution as the third leading cause.

Agricultural productivity: A recent research study “Recent climate and air pollution impacts on Indian agriculture” suggested that Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) were having an adverse impact of agricultural productivity of India.

Initiatives & Policy Measures:

  1. Steps to curb vehicular emission
  • Emission norms and fuel regulation standards: BS – IV norms are applicable in 34 cities whereas BS –III norms are applicable in the rest of the country. Adaptation of Euro VI norms to Bharat Stage VI.
  • Saumitra Chaudhari Committee:Government should introduce the Bharat Stage – V norms across the country by 2020.
  • Promotion of cleaner technologies and alternate sources of energy to run vehicles:
    • National Mission for Electricity Mobility (NMEM):To enhance penetration of efficient and environmentally friendly hybrid and electric vehicles;
    • GoI: 1,000 crores for the Plan in 2015 to decrease CO2 emissions by 1.2- 1.5% in 2020
  • Promotion of usage of Biofuels: To substitute petrol and diesel in automobiles
    • target: 20% blending of bio-fuels such as bio-diesel and bio-ethanol by 2017 is proposed;
    • Ethanol run bus launched in Nagpur under ‘Green Bus’ Project
  • Encouraging greater use of public transport: To prioritize the use of public transport running on cleaner fuel and technology and developing a people-centric sustainable multi-modal urban transport network, taking into consideration the unique characteristics in cities.
  1. Reducing the dependence on biomass burning
  • National Biomass Cookstoves Programme: Promote the use of improved cookstoves resulting in:
    • Reduced emissions,
    • Reduced fuel consumption and
    • Cleaner cooking energy solutions
  • Renewable Energy:
    • Achieve 175,000 MW of green energy by 2022 including
    • 1 lakh MW of solar power,
    • 60,000 MW of wind energy,
    • 10,000 MW of biomass and
    • 5000 MW of small hydro projects
  • Solar Power:
    • An enabling policy framework for manufacturing solar components and setting up power plants should be created
    • Off-grid applications should be promoted and steps be taken to bring tariff to grid parity level

Currently,

  • Government has revised the target to 100 GW by 2022.
  • Gandhinagar Solar Photovoltaic Rooftop Programme

From carbon subsidization to carbon taxation:

  • Cess on coal has been doubled which will boost renewable energy financing
  • Cess is collected as National Clean Energy Fund and is disbursed for renewable energy-based initiatives and power projects.

National ‘Air Quality Index’: “One Color, One Number and One Description”.

Measurement index consisting of 8 parameters, which would disseminate information in a simple and effective manner (Real time; 8 pollutants)

Conclusion:

Comprehensive measurement of PM2.5 is not yet being done and the linkages between pollution, disease and deaths need further study.

A neglected aspect of urban air pollution control is the virtual discarding of the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, notified to sustainably manage debris that is dumped in the cities, creating severe particulate pollution.  The Environment Ministry has highlighted the role that debris can play as a resource.

Municipal and government contracts are, under the rules, required to utilise up to 20 per cent materials made from construction and demolition waste, and local authorities must place containers to hold debris.  This must be implemented without delay.

Providing cleaner fuels and scientifically designed cook stoves to those who have no option but to burn biomass, would have a big impact on reducing particulate matter in the northern and eastern States, which are the worst-hit during winter, when biomass is also used for heating.

Greening the cities could be made a mission, involving civil society, with a focus on landscaping open spaces and paving all public areas to reduce dust.  These measures can result in lower PM10 and PM2.5 levels.

Connecting the Dots:

  • Discuss the role of States in promoting Renewable Energy in India.
  • Can India tap solar power and transform it into a crucial component of India’s power portfolio? Discuss various initiatives taken by the government and suggest a way ahead for better enhancement of India’s prospects.

 

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