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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 20th April 2021

  • IASbaba
  • April 20, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Fresh OCI card registration not required for renewing passport

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – Citizenship 

In news

  • The Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) will not be required to register for a fresh OCI card every time a new passport is issued in their name. 

Key takeaways 

  • At present, the OCI card is required to be reissued each time a new passport is issued up to 20 years of age and once after completing 50 in view of biological changes in the face of the applicant.
  • With a view to facilitate the OCI cardholders, it has now been decided to dispense with this requirement.
  • A person who has got registration as OCI cardholder prior to attaining the age of 20 years will have to get the OCI card reissued only once when a new passport is issued after his/her completing 20 years of age, so as to capture his/her facial features on attaining adulthood.
  • If a person has obtained registration as OCI cardholder after attaining the age of 20 years, there will be no requirement of reissue of the OCI card.

Important value additions 

  • The OCI Card has proved to be very popular amongst foreigners of Indian Origin and spouses of OCI cardholders, as it helps them in hassle free entry and unlimited stay in India. 
  • So far about 37.72 lakh OCI Cards have been issued by the Government of India.
  • As per the extant law, a foreigner of Indian origin or a foreign spouse of an Indian citizen or foreign spouse of an OCI cardholder, can be registered as an OCI cardholder. 
  • OCI card is a life-long visa for entry into and stay in India with a number of other major benefits attached to it which are not available to other foreigners. 

The Council of The European Union

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – International Relations 

In news

  • The Council of the European Union approved conclusions on a European Union strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. 
  • The strategy shall reinforce its strategic focus to contribute to regional stability at a time of rising challenges and tensions in the region.
  • The EU will aim to promote effective rules-based multilateralism, reiterating its support for ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) centrality.

Do you know? 

  • The Council of the European Union is the third of the seven Institutions of the European Union (EU) as listed in the Treaty on European Union.
  • It is one of three legislative bodies and together with the European Parliament serves to amend and approve the proposals of the European Commission, which holds legislative initiative.
  • It was founded on 1 July 1967.

Value of Dogecoin cryptocurrency increases

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Economy 

In news

  • Just as the virtual currencies Bitcoin and Ethereum have surged in value this week, so has Dogecoin– a cryptocurrency started in 2013 as an internet parody.

Key takeaways 

  • It is Based on the “Doge” meme and started as a “fun” alternative to Bitcoin. 
  • It’s now valued at $34 billion.
  • Created by: software engineers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer 
  • Unlike Bitcoins, whose maximum possible number is fixed at 21 million (a figure that is estimated to be reached by 2040), Dogecoin numbers do not have an upper limit, and there are already more than 100 billion in existence.

Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) Oxygen Plants

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II -Policies and interventions & GS – III – Sci & tech

In news

  • The Health Ministry said that 162 Pressure Swing Adsorption, PSA oxygen plants have been sanctioned by Government of India for installation in public health facilities in all States and these will augment medical oxygen capacity by over 154 Metric Tonnes.

Important value additions 

  • Pressure swing adsorption (PSA) is a technology used to separate some gas species from a mixture of gases under pressure according to the species’ molecular characteristics and affinity for an adsorbent material.
  • It operates at near-ambient temperatures and differs significantly from cryogenic distillation techniques of gas separation.
  • Specific adsorbent materials (e.g., zeolites, activated carbon, molecular sieves, etc.) are used as a trap, preferentially adsorbing the target gas species at high pressure.
  • The process then swings to low pressure to desorb the adsorbed material.

Miscellaneous

Cholistan Desert 

  • The Cholistan Desert, also locally known as Rohi, is a large desert in the southern part of Punjab, Pakistan.
  • It forms part of the Greater Thar Desert, which extends to Sindh province and Rajasthan.
  • It is one of two large deserts in Punjab, the other being Thal Desert.
  • Derawar Fort is located in the Cholistan Desert.

(Mains Focus)


CYBER-SECURITY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

Protecting children in the age of AI

Context:  Children and adolescents of today are born into a world increasingly powered by virtual reality and artificial intelligence (AI).

Like all fundamental technological change, AI is not only changing what humans can do, it is shaping our behaviours, our preferences, our perceptions of the world and of ourselves. 

Concerns

  • Digital Divide: Not everyone can tap into the opportunities offered by this transformation. According to UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), as many as two-thirds of the world’s children do not have access to the Internet at home.
  • Amplify Societal Inequalities:  Unless we take rapid and concerted action to close this digital divide, AI will radically amplify societal inequalities among children of different races, socio-economic background, genders, and regions.
  • Complexity of technology: The expansion and deployment of AI is far outpacing our ability to understand its implications, especially its impact on children. Elders themselves hardly understand the complexity of technology which is preventing us to equip children and young people with the knowledge, tools and awareness to protect themselves
  • Dangers of Child abuse: While video gaming and chat forums offer an online space for children to socialise with their friends, multiple reports identify such virtual playgrounds as “honeypots” for child predators.
  • Challenges with oversight by parents: Short of banning screen time entirely, parents are hard-pressed to keep tabs on just what their kids are doing online, and with whom. With online homework and both the parents working, this oversight has become even more difficult.
  • Business models causing digital addiction: AI systems driving many video games and social networks are designed to keep children hooked, both through algorithms and gimmicks like “streaks”, “likes”, infinite scroll, etc. Even if this is an ancillary consequence of the underlying business model, the damage is done — children, from a tender age through adolescence, are becoming digitally addicted.
  • Reduced attention Span & Social Interactions: Right when they need to be learning concentration skills, emotional and social intelligence, the digital addiction is causing children’s attention to be spliced into ever-thinner slices, and increasingly virtualising their social interactions.
  • Unhealthy Shaping of Worldview: Similarly, right when children and youth are forming their initial views of the world, they are being sucked into virtual deep space, including the universe of fake news, conspiracy theories, hype, hubris, online bullying, hate speech and the likes
  • Echo Chambers causing intolerance: An echo chamber is an environment (aided by AI) where a person only encounters information or opinions that reflect and reinforce their own. Echo chambers can create misinformation and distort a person’s perspective so they have difficulty considering opposing viewpoints and discussing complicated topics. 
  • Data Harvesting and Privacy: AI powered toys can offer playful and creative opportunities for children, with some even promoting enhanced literacy, social skills and language development. However, they also listen and observe our children, soaking up their data, and with no framework to govern its use

Way Ahead- Simultaneously close the digital divide, and safeguard children’s rights in the age of AI

  • The next phase of the fourth Industrial Revolution must include an overwhelming push to extend Internet access to all children. Governments, private sector, civil society, parents and children must push hard for this now, before AI further deepens the pre-existing inequalities and creates its own disparities.
  • And on mitigating on-line harms, we need a multi-pronged action plan: 
    • we need legal and technological safeguards
    • we need greater awareness among parents, guardians and children on how AI works behind the scenes
    • we need tools, like trustworthy certification and rating systems, to enable sound choices on safe AI apps
    • we need to ban anonymous accounts
    • we need enforceable ethical principles of non-discrimination and fairness embedded in the policy and design of AI systems 
    • we need “do no harm” risk assessments for all algorithms that interact with children or their data. 
    • we need safe online spaces for children, without algorithmic manipulation and with restricted profiling and data collection. 
    • we need online tools (and an online culture) that helps prevent addiction, that promotes attention-building skills, that expands children’s horizons, understanding and appreciation for diverse perspectives, and that builds their social emotional learning capabilities.

Connecting the dots:

  • Fourth Industrial Revolution and its challenges

GOVERNANCE/ POLITY

Topic:

  • GS-2: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies. 

Elections & MCC

Article 324 contains plenary powers to ensure free and fair elections and these are vested in the ECI which can take all necessary steps to achieve this constitutional object.

The model code of conduct (MCC)

  • It issued by the ECI is a set of guidelines meant for political parties, candidates and governments to adhere to during an election. 
  • This code is based on consensus among political parties. Its origin can be traced to a code of conduct for political parties prepared by the Kerala government in 1960 for the Assembly elections. 
  • It was adopted and refined and enlarged by the ECI in later years, and was enforced strictly from 1991 onwards.

Challenges

  • Extent of Power: There exists a considerable amount of confusion about the extent and nature of the powers which are available to the ECI in enforcing the code as well as its other decisions in relation to an election.
  • Lacks Statutory backing: It is a code of conduct framed on the basis of a consensus among political parties, it has not been given any legal backing.
  • Utility of Status-quo vi-a-vis legal backing: If MCC becomes a part of law, all matters connected with the enforcement of the code will be taken to court, which would delay elections.
  • Transfers of Civil Servants: It is not clear whether the ECI can transfer a State government official in exercise of the general powers under Article 324 or under the model code.
  • Merely Guidelines: The code does not say what the ECI can do; it contains only guidelines for the candidates, political parties and the governments.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note:

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q.1 Which of the following is/are type of crypto currency? 

  1. Bitcoin
  2. Litecoin
  3. Ethereum
  4. Dogecoin

Select the correct answer:

  1. 1 and 2 only 
  2. 1 only 
  3. 2, 3, 4 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 & 4

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Cholistan Desert:

  1. It is located in Pakistan.
  2. It forms a part of Thar Desert. 

Which of the above is/are correct? 

  1. 1 only 
  2. 2 only 
  3. Both 1 and 2 
  4. Neither 1 nor 2 

ANSWERS FOR 19th April 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 C
3 A

Must Read

On unfair discontinuation of social benefits:

Indian Express

On credit-related corporate frauds:

The Hindu

On criticism of Ordinance route:

The Hindu

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