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Indian Ocean Power Competition

Indian Ocean CommissionIOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IOC

Mains level : Indian ocean security


India was accepted as an observer in the Indian Ocean Commission getting a seat at the table of the organization that handles maritime governance in the western Indian Ocean.

Indian Ocean Commission

  • The Indian Ocean Commission is an intergovernmental organization that was created in 1982 at Port Louis, Mauritius and institutionalized in 1984 by the Victoria Agreement in Seychelles.
  • The COI is composed of five African Indian Ocean nations: Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion (an overseas region of France), and Seychelles.
  • These five islands share geographic proximity, historical and demographic relationships, natural resources and common development issues.

Aims and Objectives of IOC

  • COI’s principal mission is to strengthen the ties of friendship between the countries and to be a platform of solidarity for the entire population of the African Indian Ocean region.
  • COI’s mission also includes development, through projects related to sustainability for the region, aimed at protecting the region, improving the living conditions of the populations and preserving the various natural resources that the countries depend on.
  • Being an organisation regrouping only island states, the COI has usually championed the cause of small island states in regional and international fora.

India and IOC

  • India’s entry is a consequence of its deepening strategic partnership with France as well as its expanding ties with the Vanilla Islands.
  • India had made the application to be an observer. The IOC has four observers — China, EU, Malta and International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF).

Significance

  • For India, the importance of joining this organization lies in several things.
  • First, India will get an official foothold in a premier regional institution in the western Indian Ocean, boosting engagement with islands in this part of the Indian Ocean.
  • These island nations are increasingly important for India’s strategic outreach as part of its Indo-Pacific policy.
  • This move would enhance ties with France which is the strong global power in the western Indian Ocean.
  • It lends depth to India’s SAGAR (security and growth for all in the region) policy unveiled by PM Modi in 2015.
  • The move, India hopes, would lead to greater security cooperation with countries in East Africa.
Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

Freedom in the World 2020IOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Freedom in the World Report

Mains level : Read the attached story


 

India has become one of the world’s least free democracies, according to a global survey.

Freedom in the World Report

  • It is a yearly survey and report by the U.S. based non-governmental organization Freedom House.
  • It measures the degree of civil liberties and political rights in every nation and significant related and disputed territories around the world.
  • The report derives its methodology from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948.
  • It covers 195 countries, awarding scores based on political rights indicators such as the electoral process, political pluralism and participation and government functioning, as well as civil liberties indicators related to freedom of expression and belief associational and organisational rights, the rule of law and personal autonomy and individual rights.

Highlights of the report

 

 

Deteriorating freedom in India

  • The report ranks India at the 83rd position, along with Timor-Leste and Senegal.
  • This is near the bottom of the pile among the countries categorised as “Free”.
  • India’s score fell by four points to 71, the worst decline among the world’s 25 largest democracies this year.
  • India scored 34 out of 40 points in the political rights category, but only 37 out of 60 in the civil liberties category, for a total score of 71, a drop from last year’s score of 75.
  • The report treats “Indian Kashmir” as a separate territory, which saw its total score drop precipitously from 49 to 28 this year, moving it from a status of “Partly Free” to “Not Free”.

Reason for the downfall

  • The annulment of autonomy and the subsequent shutdown of Kashmir, the NRC and the CAA, as well as the crackdown on mass protests, have been listed as the main signs of declining freedom in the report.
  • These three actions have shaken the rule of law in India and threatened the secular and inclusive nature of its political system said the report.
  • The report slammed the internet blackout in Kashmir terming it the longest shutdown ever imposed by democracy.
  • It said freedom of expression was under threat in India, with journalists, academics and others facing harassment and intimidation when addressing politically sensitive topics.
  • It warned that the Indian government’s alarming departures from democratic norms under present govt. could blur the values-based distinction between Beijing and New Delhi.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

World University Rankings by Subject 2020IOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Highlights of the report

Mains level : State of higher education in India


 

 

Indian higher-education institutes have improved their performance on the global stage, with a greater number getting ranked in the top-100 programs, according to the latest edition of the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject 2020.

Major findings of the report

  • IIT Bombay (44), IIT Delhi (47), IIT Kharagpur (86), IIT Madras (88) and IIT Kanpur (96) found place in top 100 of this category.
  • In the Natural Sciences category, three Indian institutions made it to the top 200: IIT-Bombay at 108th rank closely followed by the IISc, Bangalore at the 111th position, while IIT-Madras scraped in at the 195th rank.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru University remained the country’s top institution in the Arts and Humanities category, with a global ranking of 162, followed at a distance by Delhi University at 231.
  • Delhi University topped the Social Sciences and Management category, with a global ranking of 160, followed by IIT-Delhi at 183.
  • There are no Indian institutions in the world’s top 200 when it comes to Life Sciences and Medicine.
  • The top institution in the country is the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, which had a global ranking of 231.
  • Other top subjects included physics & astronomy with 18 Indian institutes, biological sciences (16), electrical engineering (15), chemical engineering (14) and mechanical engineering (14).
  • MIT, Stanford University and the University of Cambridge has secured top three positions in the Engineering and Technology category.
Air Pollution

World Air Quality Report, 2019IOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PM 2.5

Mains level : World Air Quality Report, 2019


 

The 2019 World Air Quality Report was recently released

World Air Quality Report

  • The World Air Quality Report is released by the pollution tracker IQAir and Greenpeace.
  • The report focuses on PM2.5 as a representative measure of air pollution.

Highlights of the report

  • India accounts for two-thirds of the world’s most polluted cities — 21 of the most polluted 30 cities; 14 of the highest 20; and 6 of the highest 10 — in the report.
  • Among countries, when population is taken into account, average PM2.5 pollution is highest in Bangladesh, followed by Pakistan, while India is at number 5.
  • China is at number 11 in the list of countries affected by population, with population factored in. Chinese cities achieved a 9% average decrease in PM2.5 levels in 2019.
  • While cities in India, on average, exceed the WHO target for annual PM2.5 exposure by 500%, national air pollution decreased by 20% from 2018 to 2019, with 98% of cities experiencing improvements.
  • It said 90% of the global population breathing unsafe air.

Top polluted Indian Cities


Back2Basics

PM 2.5

  • PM 2.5 refers to particulate matter (ambient airborne particles) which measure up to 2.5 microns in size and has a range of chemical makeups and sources.
  • It is widely regarded as the pollutant with the most health impact of all commonly measured air pollutants.
  • Due to its small size PM2.5 is able to penetrate deep into the human respiratory system and from there to the entire body, causing a wide range of short- and long-term health effects.
  • Particulate matter is also the pollutant group which affects the most people globally. It can come from a range of natural as well as man-made sources.
  • Common sources of PM include combustion (from vehicle engines, industry, wood and coal burning), as well as through other pollutants reacting in the atmosphere.
Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

Future for the World’s Children Report 2020IOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Future for the World’s Children Report 2020 and indices mentioned

Mains level : Ensuring sustainable development worldwide


The Future for the World’s Children Report 2020 was recently released.

About the report

  • The report was released by a commission of over 40 child and adolescent health experts from around the world after assessing 180 countries.
  • It was commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and The Lancet medical journal.

What is Flourishing Index?

  • Flourishing is the geometric mean of Surviving and Thriving.
  • For Surviving, the authors selected maternal survival, survival in children younger than 5 years old, suicide, access to maternal and child health services, basic hygiene and sanitation, and lack of extreme poverty.
  • For Thriving, the domains were educational achievement, growth and nutrition, reproductive freedom, and protection from violence.

Threats to Children

  • The report highlights the distinct threat posed to children from harmful marketing.
  • Evidence suggests that children in some countries see as many as 30,000 advertisements on television alone in a single year, while youth exposure to vaping (e-cigarettes) advertisements increased by more than 250% in the U.S. over two years, reaching more than 24 million young people.
  • Studies in Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the U.S. — among many others — have shown that self-regulation has not hampered commercial ability to advertise to children.
  • Children’s exposure to commercial marketing of junk food and sugary beverages is associated with the purchase of unhealthy foods and overweight and obesity, linking predatory marketing to the alarming rise in childhood obesity.
  • The number of obese children and adolescents increased from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016 — an 11-fold increase, with dire individual and societal costs, the report said.

What is Sustainability Index?

  • Under the Sustainability Index, the authors noted that promoting today’s national conditions for children to survive and thrive must not come at the cost of eroding future global conditions for children’s ability to flourish.
  • It ranks countries on excess carbon emissions compared with the 2030 target.
  • This provides a convenient and available proxy for a country’s contribution to sustainability in future.

Highlights of the SI

  • The report noted that under realistic assumptions about possible trajectories towards sustainable greenhouse gas emissions, models predict that global carbon emissions need to be reduced from 39·7 gigatonnes to 22·8 gigatonnes per year by 2030 to maintain even a 66% chance of keeping global warming below 1·5degrees C.
  • No country in the world is currently providing the conditions we need to support every child to grow up and have a healthy future alarmed the report.

India’s performance

India ranked 77th on a sustainability index that takes into account per capita carbon emissions and ability of children in a nation to live healthy lives and secures 131st spot on a flourishing ranking that measures the best chance at survival and well-being for children.

Performance of nations in SI

  •  Norway leads the table for survival, health, education and nutrition rates – followed by South Korea and the Netherlands.
  • The central African Republic, Chad and Somalia come at the bottom.
  • However, when taking into account per capita CO2 emissions, these top countries trail behind, with Norway 156th, the Republic of Korea 166th and the Netherlands 160th.
  • Each of the three emits 210 per cent more CO2 per capita than their 2030 target, the data shows, while the U.S., Australia, and Saudi Arabia are among the 10 worst emitters.
  • The lowest emitters are Burundi, Chad and Somalia.
  • According to the report, the only countries on track to beat CO2 emission per capita targets by 2030, while also performing fairly — within the top 70 — on child flourishing measures are Albania, Armenia, Grenada, Jordan, Moldova, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Uruguay and Vietnam.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI) 2019IOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : WEFFI

Mains level : Need for internationalization of Indian education system


 

 

India has jumped five ranks in the Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI) 2019.

About WEFFI

  • The report is published by The Economist Intelligence Unit. The report and index were commissioned by the Yidan Prize Foundation.
  • The index ranks countries based on their abilities to equip students with skill-based education.
  • The report analyses the education system from the perspective of skill-based education “in areas such as critical thinking, problem-solving, leadership, collaboration, creativity and entrepreneurship, as well as digital and technical skills.”

Global scenario

  • Among the world’s largest economies, the US, UK, France and Russia all fell back in the index, while China, India and Indonesia took steps forward.
  • Finland was at the apex of the index, with strengths across each category followed by Sweden.

India’s performance

  • India ranked 35th on the overall index in 2019 with a total score of 53, based on three categories – policy environment, teaching environment and overall socio-economic environment.
  • India scored 56.3 in policy environment falling from a 61.5 score in 2018.
  • India’s score of 52.2 in the teaching environment category and 50.1 in the socio-economic environment category increased significantly from 32.2 and 33.3 in 2018 respectively.
  • Earlier, India ranked 40th with an overall score of 41.2 across categories in 2018.

What made India progress?

  • The report attributed India’s growth to the new education policy introduced by the government.
  • India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in the Union Budget 2020, had highlighted a
  • The New Education Policy announced in this year budget under ‘Aspirational India’ will focus on “greater inflow of finance to attract talented teachers, innovate and build better labs.
  • The policy will focus further on skill-based education.

Various shortcomings highlighted

  • The 2018 WEFFI report had highlighted the shortcomings in India’s education system emphasizing upon its inability to utilise the opportunity of internationalizing its higher education system.
  • A decentralized education system is another shortcoming of India’s education policy according to the 2019 report.
  • Well-intentioned policy goals relating to future skills development often do not get filtered downward, a hazard in economies such as the US and India that have large, decentralized education systems, the report said.

International Mother Language DayIOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : NA


 

Friday, February 21 was International Mother Language Day.

International Mother Language Day

  • It has been observed since 1999 to promote “linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism”, according to the UN.
  • Of the world’s 6,000 languages, 43% are estimated as endangered, according to the UN.
  • On the other hand, just 10 languages account for as many as 4.8 billion speakers — over 60% of the world population.
  • Globally, English remains the most widely spoken language with 1.13 billion speakers in 2019, followed by Mandarin with 1.17 billion, according to the online database Ethnologue.

Why February 21?

  • UNESCO declared International Mother Language Day in 1999, to commemorate a 1952 protest against West Pakistan’s imposition of Urdu as the official language of East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh).
  • According to a report, police opened fire on demonstrating Dhaka University students and “some people were killed”.
  • When thousands thronged the university the next day, police fired again, killing more people.
  • In Bangladesh, since 1953, February 21 is observed as Ekushe Day, after the Bengali word for twenty-one.
  • According to the South Asia Democratic Forum, five among those killed were recognised as “language martyrs — Abul Barkat, Abdul Jabbar, Rafiquddin Ahmad, Abdus Salman and Shafiur Rahman.

Data on Indian languages

  • Hindi is third with 615 million speakers while Bengali is seventh with 265 million.
  • In India, Hindi is the most spoken language with over 528 million speakers in 2011, as per the Census.
  • Bengali had 97.2 million speakers in 2011, followed by Marathi (83 million), while other languages with over 50 million speakers are Telugu (81 million), Tamil (69 million), Gujarati (55.5 million) and Urdu (50.8 million).
  • Percentage trends from 1991 to 2011 underline the growth of the most widely spoken language, Hindi, which was spoken by 39.29% of the Indian population in 1991, and whose share grew to 43.63% in 2011.
  • For other languages in India’s top 12, the 2011 percentage share has fallen when compared to that in 1991.
Air Pollution

Global cost of air pollution from fossil fuelsIOCR


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new Greenpeace report has estimated the global cost of air pollution from fossil fuels at around $2.9 trillion per year, or $8 billion per day — 3.3% of the world’s GDP.

Cost of air pollution

India is estimated to bear a cost of $150 billion, or 5.4% of the country’s GDP, which is the third-highest absolute cost from fossil fuel air pollution worldwide.

China and the US are estimated to bear the highest absolute costs from fossil fuel air pollution, respectively at $900 billion and $600 billion.

Loss of lives

  • Globally, air pollution is estimated to cause 4.5 million premature deaths each year.
  • This includes 3 million deaths attributable globally to PM2.5, which is one of the principal pollutants in northern Indian cities including Delhi.
  • Globally, PM2.5 is also estimated to cause the loss of 62.7 million years of life, 2.7 million emergency room visits due to asthma, 2 million preterm births and 1.75 billion work absences.
  • The 2 million preterm births include 981,000 in India and over 350,000 in China.

Economic cost

In India, exposure to fossil fuels also leads to a loss of around 490 million workdays, the report said.

Human Rights Issues

‘2 Billion Kilometers to Safety’ campaignIOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : '2 Billion Kilometers to Safety' campaign

Mains level : Refugees issue across the world


 

The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR has announced a new global campaign urging people worldwide to cover the total distance travelled by refugees each year – 2 billion kilometers – by running, jogging or walking.

About the campaign

  • The “2 Billion Kilometers to Safety” campaign vies to encourage people to support refugees by championing individual acts of solidarity.
  • The goal is to acknowledge the resilience and strength of refugees.
  • It calls on the public to show their solidarity with refugees by running, walking or cycling to collectively cover two billion kilometers.
  • Participants can use their fitness apps or the campaign website to log the kilometers and contribute to the global total.

Distance covered by refugees 

  • UNHCR traced the journeys of refugees around the world and calculated that, collectively, people forced to flee travel approximately two billion kilometers every year to reach the first point of safety.
  • This is roughly the distance that separates Earth from somewhere between the planets Saturn and Uranus.
  • According to UNHCR estimates, Syrian refugees travelled over 240 kilometers each to reach Turkey.
  • South Sudanese refugees travelled more than 640 kilometers to reach Kenya. Rohingya refugees from Myanmar travelled approximately 80 kilometers to reach Bangladesh.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

[pib] 13th COP of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)IOCRPIB

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CMS, Central Asian Flyway

Mains level : Conservation of migratory species


 

The 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) is going to be hosted by India at Gandhinagar in Gujarat.

13th COP of CMS

  • The theme of CMS COP13 in India is, “Migratory species connect the planet and we welcome them home.
  • The CMS COP 13 logo is inspired by ‘Kolam’, a traditional artform from southern India.
  • In the logo of CMS COP-13, Kolam art form is used to depict key migratory species in India like Amur falcon, humpback whale and marine turtles.
  • The mascot for CMS COP13, “Gibi – The Great Indian Bustard” is a critically endangered species which has been accorded the highest protection status under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

About CMS

  • CMS is an international treaty concluded under aegis of UN Environment Programme (UNEP), concerned with conservation of wildlife and habitats on a global scale.
  • It is commonly abbreviated as Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) or the Bonn Convention.
  • It aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range.
  • It was signed in 1979 in Bonn (hence the name), Germany and entered into force in 1983.
  • Its headquarters are in Bonn, Germany.
  • CMS is only global and UN-based intergovernmental organization established exclusively for conservation and management of terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species throughout their range.

Prospects for India

  • As the host, India shall be designated the President for the next three years.
  • India is Signatory to the CMS since 1983.
  • India has been taking necessary actions to protect and conserve migratory marine species.
  • Seven species that include Dugong, Whale Shark, Marine Turtle (two species), have been identified for preparation of Conservation and Recovery Action Plan.

Other facts

  • The Indian sub-continent is also part of the major bird flyway network, i.e, the Central Asian Flyway (CAF) that covers areas between the Arctic and Indian Oceans, and covers at least 279 populations of 182 migratory water bird species, including 29 globally threatened species.
  • India is home to several migratory species of wildlife including snow leopard, Amur falcons, bar headed Geese, black necked cranes, marine turtles, dugongs, humpbacked whales, etc.
  • It has signed non legally binding MOU with CMS on the conservation and management of Siberian Cranes (1998), Marine Turtles (2007), Dugongs (2008) and Raptors (2016).
Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Cancer Gene MappingIOCRPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mutation, Gene mapping

Mains level : Rising incidences of cancer in India and its prevention


 

A series of new papers in the journal Nature has revealed the most comprehensive gene map ever of the genes causing cancer. It shows departures from normal behaviour i.e. mutations trigger a cascade of genetic misbehaviours that eventually lead to cancer.

What is Mutation?

  • A mutation is a change that occurs in our DNA sequence, either due to mistakes when the DNA is copied or as the result of environmental factors such as UV light and pollution etc.
  • Structural variations mean deletion, amplification or reorganization of genomic segments that range in size from just a few bases to whole chromosomes.
  • Bases are the structural units of genes.
  • Over a lifetime our DNA can undergo changes or ‘mutations’ in the sequence of bases A, C, G and T.

Why study cancer?

  • Cancer is known to be a disease of uncontrolled growth.
  • The growth process, like all other physiological processes, has genetic controls so that the growth is self-limiting. When one or more genes malfunction, the growth process can go out of hand.
  • Not just cancer, there are many other diseases with a genetic link in varying degrees.
  • Just a handful of “driver” mutations could explain the occurrence of a large number of cancers, the researchers said, raising hopes of a cancer cure being nearer than ever.

How big is the cancer burden?

  • Cancer is the second most-frequent cause of death worldwide, killing more than 8 million people every year; incidence of cancer is expected to increase by more than 50% over the coming decades.
  • 1 in 10 Indians will develop cancer during their lifetime, and one in 15 Indians will die of cancer, according to the World Cancer Report by WHO.
  • The Northeastern states, UP, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Haryana, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh account for 44% of the cancer burden in India, says a recent analysis, published in The Lancet.

Is the genetic link to cancer well established?

  • Yes, it is. One such association, for example, is of breast cancer with the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes; the actress Angelina Jolie, who discovered that she carried the former gene, chose to undergo a preventive double mastectomy.
  • This is personalised therapeutics where, instead of traditional toxic medications like chemotherapy, drugs that specifically target the delinquent genetic mutation are already being used.
  • Such therapy, however, remains very expensive.

What is the new study that has oncologists around the world excited?

  • It is a major international collaboration called the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG), in which researchers has published a series of papers after analysing some whole-cancer genomes and their matching normal tissues across 38 tumor types.
  • They concluded that on average, cancer genomes contained 4-5 driver mutations when combining coding and non-coding genomic elements.
  • This is the largest genome study ever of primary cancer.
  • Various kinds of cancers required to be studied separately because cancers of different parts of the body often behave very differently from one another; so much so that it is often said that cancer is not one disease but many.

Breakthrough achievement of the study

  • The mutations identified by the team have been catalogued. Identification and cataloguing of the genes is a very crucial step and has taken science’s understanding of cancer and its genesis ahead by several leaps.
  • The catalogue, which is already available online, allows doctors and researchers from all over the world to look things up, consult and find information about the cancer of a given patient.
  • The study has discovered causes of previously unexplained cancers, pinpointed cancer-causing events and zeroed in on mechanisms of development, opening new vistas of personalized cancer treatment to strike at the root of the problem.
  • When it comes to drug development, however, the gene mapping is but a first step.

The next step

  • The process of drug development will have to now kick in with pharmaceutical companies first identifying the compound(s) that target these gene mutations and then it being subjected to the rigours of clinical trials to prove its safety and efficacy.
  • That could take anything from a few decades to a few years to cover all the mutations identified.
Intellectual Property Rights in India

Global Intellectual Property IndexIOCRPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Prospects of the Global IP Index

Mains level : Intellectual property rights and their protection in India


 

India has been ranked 40th out of 53 countries on a global intellectual property index, even as the country has shown improvement in terms of scores when it comes to the protection of IP and copyright issues.

GIP Index

  • The Global IP Index was released by Global Innovation Policy Center or GIPC of the US Chambers of Commerce.
  • The GIPC Index consists of five key sets of indicators to map the national intellectual property environment for the surveyed countries.
  • The major indicator categories are:
  1. patents, related rights, and limitations;
  2. copyrights, related rights, and limitations;
  3. trademarks, related rights, and limitations;
  4. enforcement;
  5. membership and ratification of international treaties.

India’s performance

  • India was placed at 36th position among 50 countries in 2019.
  • India’s score, however, increased from 36.04 per cent (16.22 out of 45) in 2019 to 38.46 per cent (19.23 out of 50) in 2020, a 2.42 per cent jump in absolute score.
  • However, India’s relative score increased by 6.71 per cent.
  • India also continues to score well in the Systemic Efficiency indicator, scoring ahead of 28 other economies in these indicators.

Challenges for India

  • GIPC has identified several challenges for India. Prominent among them are:

Patentability requirements, patent enforcement, compulsory licensing, patent opposition, regulatory data protection, transparency in reporting seizures by customs, and Singapore Treaty of Law of TMs and Patent Law Treaty

Measures to protect IPs in India

  • Since the release of the 2016 National IPR Policy, the government of India has made a focused effort to support investments in innovation and creativity through increasingly robust IP protection and enforcement.
  • Since 2016, India has improved the speed of processing for patent and trademark applications, increased awareness of IP rights among Indian innovators and creators, and facilitated the registration and enforcement of those rights.
  • To continue this upward trajectory, much work remains to be done to introduce transformative changes to India’s overall IP framework and take serious steps to consistently implement strong IP standards.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Global Report on Medical Data LeakIOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level :  Global Report on Medical Data Leak

Mains level : Medical administartion in India and its loopholes


 

Medical details of over 120 million Indian patients have been leaked and made freely available on the Internet, according to a recent report.

 Global Report on Medical Data Leak

  • It is published by Greenbone Sustainable Resilience, a German cybersecurity firm.
  • The first report was published in October 2019 in which Greenbone revealed a widespread data leak of a massive number of records, including images of CT scans, X-rays, MRIs and even pictures of the patients.
  • The follow-up report, which was published, classifies countries in the “good”, “bad” and “ugly” categories based on the action taken by their governments after the first report was made public.
  • India ranks second in the “ugly” category, after the U.S.

Highlights of the report

  • As per the follow-up report, Maharashtra ranks the highest in terms of the number of data troves available online, with 3,08,451 troves offering access to 6,97,89,685 images.
  • The next is Karnataka, with 1,82,865 data troves giving access to 1,37,31,001 images.
  • The number of data troves containing this sensitive data went up by a significant number in the Indian context a month after the initial report was published.
  • It is a notable fact for the systems located in India, that almost 100% of the studies (data troves) allow full access to related images stated the report.

What led to the leaks?

  • Greenbone’s original report says the leak was facilitated by the fact that the Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS) servers, where these details are stored.
  • These servers are not secure and linked to the public Internet without any protection, making them easily accessible to malicious elements.

Impact of leaks

  • The leak is worrying because the affected patients can include anyone from the common working man to politicians and celebrities.
  • In image-driven fields like politics or entertainment, knowledge about certain ailments faced by people from these fields could deal a huge blow to their image.
  • The other concern is of fake identities being created using the details, which can be misused in any possible number of ways.
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Global Go To Think-Tank IndexIOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Think Tank Index

Mains level : Not Much


Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) was placed No. 16 among 2019’s ‘top environment policy think tanks’ of the world in Global Go To Think Tank Index.

Think-Tank Index

  • The Index is released by University of Pennsylvania each year since 2008.
  • It evaluates public-policy research analysis and engagement organisations that generate policy-oriented research, analysis, and advice on domestic and international issues.
  • It claims to enable policy makers and the public to make informed decisions on public policy.
  • The 2020 report raised some critical threats and opportunities that think tanks across the globe face.
  • It called upon such organisations to develop national, regional, and global partnerships and create new, innovative platforms to deliver for an ever-expanding audience of citizens, policy makers and businesses.

India’s performance

  • CSE climbed up two notches in the 14th version of the report.
  • The organisation also moved up three places among ‘best independent think tanks’ to be at No.123 in the world and sixth among Indian think tanks.
  • Globally, it was ranked 41 of 60 organisations committed to energy and resource policy. It remained at No.58 among organisations working on science and technology policy in the world — fifth in India.

CSE as forerunner

  • CSE was named the ‘national climate leader’ from India for 2019 in the first National Climate Leader Awards published in the Global Spotlight Report #22 by Climate Scorecard.
  • CSE also received the prestigious Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for 2018 in 2019 for ‘pioneering work on environment and sustainable development’.
  • CSE also featured in four other rankings in the report: ‘top water security think tanks’; ‘top energy and resource policy think tanks’; ‘top science and technology policy think tanks’ and ‘best independent think tanks’.
  • It also ranked 18 among 78 global think tanks for its work on ‘water security’ — second in India after Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)IOCRPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PHEIC

Mains level : Global health emergencies


 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the novel Coronavirus infection a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). In the past decade, WHO has declared public health emergencies for outbreaks including swine flu, polio and Ebola.

What is PHEIC?

Definition: Under the International Health Regulations (IHR), a public health emergency is defined as “an extraordinary event which is determined, as provided in these Regulations: to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease; and to potentially require a coordinated international response”.

What criteria does the WHO follow to declare PHEIC?

  • PHEIC is declared in the event of some “serious public health events” that may endanger international public health.
  • The responsibility of declaring an event as an emergency lies with the Director-General of the WHO and requires the convening of a committee of members.

Implications of a PHEIC being declared

  • There are some implications of declaring a PHEIC for the host country, which in the case of the coronavirus is China.
  • Declaring a PHEIC may lead to restrictions on travel and trade.
  • However, several countries have already issued advisories to their citizens to avoid travelling to China, while others are airlifting their citizens from it.
Air Pollution

IMO Sulphur regulations for ShippingIOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IMO, VLSFO

Mains level : SOx pollution control measures


The International Maritime Organization (IMO), the shipping agency of the United Nations issued new rules aiming to reduce sulphur emissions, due to which ships are opting for newer blends of fuels.

What do the new IMO rules say?

  • The IMO has banned ships from using fuels with sulphur content above 0.5 per cent, compared with 3.5 per cent previously.
  • Sulphur oxides (SOx), which are formed after combustion in engines, are known to cause respiratory symptoms and lung disease, while also leading to acid rain.
  • The new regulations, called IMO 2020, have been regarded as the biggest shake up for the oil and shipping industries in decades. It affects more than 50,000 merchant ships worldwide.
  • The new limits are monitored and enforced by national authorities of countries that are members of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI.

Cleaner options

  • Under the new policy, only ships fitted with sulphur-cleaning devices, known as scrubbers, are allowed to continue burning high-sulphur fuel.
  • Alternatively, Ships can opt for cleaner fuels, such as marine gasoil (MGO) and very low-sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO).
  • Of the two cleaner fuels, ship-owners were expected to opt for MGO, which is made exclusively from distillates, and has low sulphur content.
  • However, many are reportedly choosing VLSFO, which has better calorific properties and other technical advantages.

Issues with the rule

  • There are complaints against VLSFO as well, as testing companies have claimed that high sediment formation due to the fuel’s use could damage vessel engines.
  • VLSFO, with 0.5 per cent sulphur content, can contain a large percentage of aromatic compounds, thus having a direct impact on black carbon emissions.
  • Black carbon, which is produced due to the incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels, contributes to climate change.
Wetland Conservation

10 more wetlands from India get the Ramsar site tagIOCRPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ramsar sites in India

Mains level : Ramsar Convention


 

Ramsar has declared 10 more wetland sites from India as sites of international importance.

News Ramsar Wetlands

With this, the numbers of Ramsar sites in India are now 37 and the surface area covered by these sites is now 1,067,939 hectares.

  1. Maharashtra gets its first Ramsar site (Nandur Madhameshwar) ,
  2. Punjab which already had 3 Ramsar sites adds 3 more (Keshopur-Miani, Beas Conservation Reserve, Nangal) and
  3. UP with 1 Ramsar site has added 6 more (Nawabganj, Parvati Agra, Saman, Samaspur, Sandi and Sarsai Nawar).

Why conserve wetlands?

  • Wetlands provide a wide range of important resources and ecosystem services such as food, water, fibre, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control and climate regulation.
  • They are, in fact, are a major source of water and our main supply of freshwater comes from an array of wetlands which help soak rainfall and recharge groundwater.

Back2Basics

Ramsar Convention

  • The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (better known as the Ramsar Convention) is an international agreement promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
  • It is the only global treaty to focus on a single ecosystem.
  • The convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
  • Traditionally viewed as a wasteland or breeding ground of disease, wetlands actually provide freshwater and food, and serve as nature’s shock absorber.
  • Wetlands, critical for biodiversity, are disappearing rapidly, with recent estimates showing that 64% or more of the world’s wetlands have vanished since 1900.
  • Major changes in land use for agriculture and grazing, water diversion for dams and canals and infrastructure development are considered to be some of the main causes of loss and degradation of wetlands.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) 2020IOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GTCI 2020

Mains level : Unemployment in India


The Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) was recently published.

About the report

  • The GTCI report is compiled by INSEAD in collaboration with human resource firm Addeco and Google.
  • The report, which measures countries based on six pillars —
  1. enable
  2. attract
  3. grow
  4. retain talent
  5. vocation and technical skills
  6. global knowledge skills

Performance Analysis

  • India has climbed eight places to 72nd rank in the GTCI which was topped by Switzerland, the US and Singapore.
  • Sweden (4th), Denmark (5th), the Netherlands (6th), Finland (7th), Luxembourg (8th), Norway (9th) and Australia (10th) complete the top 10 league table.
  • In the BRICS grouping, China was ranked 42nd, Russia (48th), South Africa (70th) and Brazil at 80th position.
  • This year’s GTCI report explores how the development of AI is not only changing the nature of work but also forcing a re-evaluation of workplace practices, corporate structures and innovation ecosystems.

Remarks for India

  • India’s highest-ranked sub-pillar is employability, but the ability to match labour market demand and supply stands in contrast to the country’s poor “mid-level skills”, which result in a mediocre score in vocational and technical skills.
  • India’s poor ability to attract and retain talent is its greatest challenge.
Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Corruption Perception Index 2019IOCRPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Corruption Perception Index 2019

Mains level : Menace of corruption in India


The Corruption Perception report for 2019 has been released. It has revealed that a majority of countries are showing little to no improvement in tackling corruption.

About CPI

  • The CPI is annually released by Transparency International.
  • It draws on 13 surveys and expert assessments to measure public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, giving each a score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

India’s performance

  • India’s ranking in the CPI-2019 has slipped from 78 to 80 compared to the previous year.
  • Its score of 41 out of 100 remains the same.
  • CPI highlighted that unfair and opaque political financing, undue influence in decision-making and lobbying by powerful corporate interest groups, has resulted in stagnation or decline in the control of corruption.

Global corruption

  • In the Asia Pacific region, the average score is 45, after many consecutive years of an average score of 44, which “illustrates general stagnation” across the region.
  • China has improved its position from 87 to 80 with a score of 41 out of 100, a two-point jump.
  • Despite the presence of high performers like New Zealand (87), Singapore (85), Australia (77), Hong Kong (76) and Japan (73), the Asia Pacific region hasn’t witnessed substantial progress in anti-corruption.
  • In addition, low performers like Afghanistan (16), North Korea (17) and Cambodia (20) continue to highlight serious challenges in the region.
  • The top ranked countries are New Zealand and Denmark, with scores of 87 each, followed by Finland (86), Singapore (85), Sweden (85) and Switzerland (85).
Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Trolling in IndiaIOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Abuse of women on social media and its implications


 

The Amnesty International India has released a report titled “Troll Patrol India: Exposing Online Abuse Faced by Women Politicians in India”. The report analysed more than 114,000 tweets sent to 95 women politicians in the three months during and after last year’s general elections in India.

Highlights of the report

  • The research found that women are targeted with abuse online not just for their opinions – but also for various identities, such as gender, religion, caste, and marital status.
  • Indian women politicians face substantially higher abuse on Twitter than their counterparts in the U.S. and the U.K.
  • Around 13.8% of the tweets in the study were either “problematic” or “abusive”.
  • Problematic content was defined as tweets that contain hurtful or hostile content, especially if repeated to an individual on multiple occasions, but do not necessarily meet the threshold of abuse.
  • While all women are targeted, Muslim women politicians faced 55% more abuse than others.
  • Women from marginalized castes, unmarried women, and those from non-ruling parties faced a disproportionate share of abuse.

A matter of concern

  • Abusive tweets had content that promote violence against or threaten people based on their race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, religious affiliation, age, disability or other categories.
  • They include death threats and rape threats.
  • Problematic tweets contained hurtful or hostile content, often repeated, which could reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes, although they did not meet the threshold of abuse.