DAILY MAINS NEWSLETTER FOR UPSC | 05 MAY 2021 | RaghukulCS

Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

05 May 2021

Index

Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name

Source

1

Govt. gives TSPs nod for 5G trials; Chinese tech giants left out

The Hindu

2

Explained: Behind frequent hospital fires in India

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

EC diminished

Syllabus– GS2: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies

Analysis: –

  • Any list of winners and losers in the just-concluded round of assembly elections will have to include in the category of losers a non-combatant who is, in fact, the referee: The Election Commission of India.
  • A constitutional body that draws its mandate to conduct free and fair elections from Article 324, and has built for itself an enviable reputation for impartiality and a formidable cache of public trust, the EC has appeared all too pliable to political pressures amid a pandemic.
  • Trust in institutions, once earned, must then be maintained. That takes constant vigilance and work.
  • The EC must know that the impression is growing of late that it has let itself go. In a time when a strong executive does not hesitate to weaponise its mandate, the independence of monitorial institutions is especially precious, and needed.
  • The EC needs to act to retrieve and restore its hard-earned credibility.
  • It should begin by withdrawing its self-indulgent and ill-conceived petition from the Supreme Court.

An issue of lives versus livelihoods

SyllabusGS 2: Social Issues and Social Justice

Analysis: –

  • Strict to moderate lockdowns are being imposed again, this time in April 2021, terminating jobs in many an establishment employing large numbers of informal workers.
  • Of those employed in the informal category, large numbers include migrants who face, like they did in March-April of 2020, a bleak future, with job losses, loss of rented accommodations, a lack of sustainable income and savings to ensure food, transportation back to villages or any other emergency including falling victim to COVID-19.
  • Given their bitter experiences last year, migrants have already begun their journeys back to villages, paying exorbitant sums for their travel.
  • Of course, no bright prospect awaits them there given the state of rural distress which initially pushed them to seek a better future in the urban areas.
  • Nor do they expect new job opportunities, especially under shrinking National Rural Employment Guarantee Act allotments by the government.

A COVID blot on India’s foreign policy canvas

SyllabusGS 2: India’s foreign policy

Analysis: –

  • The second wave of COVID-19 and its agonising consequences, prompting the country to accept foreign aid after a gap of 17 years, is bound to have far-reaching strategic implications for India.
  • While the world realises that India is too important to ignore, which perhaps explains the rush to help, there is little doubt that the country will not be the toast of the western world until it is able to get back on its feet.
  • As a direct consequence of the pandemic, New Delhi’s claim to regional primacy and leadership will take a major hit, its ‘leading power’ aspirations will be dented, and accentuate its domestic political contestations. These in turn will impact the content and conduct of India’s foreign policy in the years to come.
  • India’s traditional primacy in the region was built on a mix of material aid, political influence and historical ties.
  • Its political influence is steadily declining, its ability to materially help the neighbourhood will shrink in the wake of COVID-19, and its historical ties alone may not do wonders to hold on to a region hungry for development assistance and political autonomy.

Mains Analysis

Govt. gives TSPs nod for 5G trials; Chinese tech giants left out

Why in News?

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Tuesday gave permission to Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) to conduct trials for the use and application of 5G technology.

Syllabus– GS 3: Science and Technology

  • India is now one step closer to having 5G mobile networks in the country.
  • The Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications of the Government of India has said that the approvals for 5G trials have been given and that telecom companies will be allotted 5G spectrum for the trials, sometime this week.
  • This means that telecom companies including Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vi could be in line to get the 5G spectrum for network trials across India.

What is 5G technology and how is it different?

  • 5G or fifth generation is the latest upgrade in the long-term evolution (LTE) mobile broadband networks.
  • 5G mainly works in 3 bands, namely low, mid and high frequency spectrum — all of which have their own uses as well as limitations.
  • While the low band spectrum has shown great promise in terms of coverage and speed of internet and data exchange, the maximum speed is limited to 100 Mbps (Megabits per second).
  • This means that while telcos can use and install it for commercial cellphone users who may not have specific demands for very high speed internet, the low band spectrum may not be optimal for specialised needs of the industry.
  • The mid-band spectrum, on the other hand, offers higher speeds compared to the low band, but has limitations in terms of coverage area and penetration of signals.
  • Telcos and companies, which have taken the lead on 5G, have indicated that this band may be used by industries and specialised factory units for building captive networks that can be moulded into the needs of that particular industry.
  • The high-band spectrum offers the highest speed of all the three bands, but has extremely limited coverage and signal penetration strength.
  • Internet speeds in the high-band spectrum of 5G has been tested to be as high as 20 Gbps (giga bits per second), while, in most cases, the maximum internet data speed in 4G has been recorded at 1 Gbps.
  • Where does India stand in the 5G technology race?
  • On par with the global players, India had, in 2018, planned to start 5G services as soon as possible, with an aim to capitalise on the better network speeds and strength that the technology promised.
  • All the three private telecom players, Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and Vi, have been urging the DoT to lay out a clear road map of spectrum allocation and 5G frequency bands, so that they would be able to plan the roll out of their services accordingly.
  • One big hurdle, however, is the lack of flow of cash and adequate capital with at least two of the three players, namely Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.
  • On the other hand, Reliance Jio plans to launch an indigenously built 5G network for the country as early as the second half of this year.
  • The company is said to have a complete end-to-end 5G solution prepared by the company itself that is ready for deployment once the networks are in place.
  • This solution can also be deployed by other telecom operators as a complete managed service.

Objectives: –

  • According to the Ministry, the objectives of conducting the 5G trials include testing 5G spectrum propagation characteristics in the Indian context, model tuning and the evaluation of chosen equipment and vendors, testing of indigenous technology, testing of applications such as tele-medicine, tele-education, augmented, virtual reality and drone-based agricultural monitoring, and to test 5G phones and devices.

Significance of 5G for India: –

  • The 5G ecosystem has been building in India for a while now.
  • Most phone launches over the past 12 months have talked about 5G connectivity as an important feature on the spec sheet.
  • Affordable Android phones now are 5G ready and that’s expected to help 5G uptake among consumers once services are available for users to sign up for.
  • The Indian government, with its Make in India campaign is pushing to make India a global manufacturing hub. “5G in India is expected to provide the network to keep these factories connected real time with suppliers and customers, thereby making them smarter and much more efficient – the factories of the future,” Deloitte had said in its “5G: The Catalyst to Digital Revolution in India” report, last year.
  • The duration of the trials is for six months, which includes a time period of two months for the procurement and setting up of the equipment.
  • “The permissions have been given by DoT as per the priorities and technology partners identified by TSPs themselves

What is the global progress on 5G?

  • More than governments, global telecom companies have started building 5G networks and rolling it out to their customers on a trial basis.
  • In countries like the US, companies such as AT&T, T-mobile, and Verizon have taken the lead when it comes to rolling out commercial 5G for their users.
  • While some such as AT&T had started testing and deploying the technology as early as 2018, other companies such as Verizon have followed suit, expanding their 5G ultra-wide broadband services to as many as 60 cities by the end of 2020.
  • In other countries such as China, some of the telcos such as China Unicom had started 5G trials as early as 2018, and have since rolled out the commercial services for users.

Way Forward: –

  • In countries like the USA and China, 5G has already started rolling out to the masses with South Korea being the first country to launch a large-scale 5G network.
  • India, however, has been lagging behind and is still in its testing phase.
  • In December 2020, Jio announced plans to launch their 5G network in the second half of 2021, but that does not seem feasible at present. In a recent parliamentary panel, it was highlighted that there would be a delay in the launch of 5G technology. The report said that “It is very likely that after missing the 2G, 3G and 4G bus, India is going to miss on 5G opportunities.”
  • The government expects 5G services to roll out by early 2022 after a spectrum auction that is planned to be held after six months.
  • All the major telecom giants will participate in this spectrum auction, which will allow companies to tune their infrastructure to those frequencies and finally roll out their networks.
  • A huge reason behind this delay is the lack of cash flow, especially for Airtel and Vodafone-Idea due to tight market competition and low data-tariffs.
  • This problem is compounded by the fact that the unit pricing for 5G networks is exorbitantly high: it is seven times costlier than the UK, 14 times costlier than Australia, 35 times costlier than Spain and 70 times costlier than Austria.

Question: –

Critically evaluate the applications of 5g technology in India. Discuss its merits and demerits.

Explained: Behind frequent hospital fires in India

Why in News?

As many as 93 people, most of them Covid-19 patients, died in 24 incidents of fire in hospitals in India since last August

Syllabus– GS2: Issues related to Health & Public Policies.

  • Fires occur in many public buildings in India every year, killing a large number of people and injuring many. Over the past year, there have been deadly fires in hospital buildings, including those treating COVID-19 patients. Recent infernos in hospitals at Bharuch in Gujarat, Virar, a suburb of Mumbai, and Mumbra near Thane, killed at least 37 people. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) says 330 people died in commercial building fires in 2019, while fatalities for residential or dwelling buildings were much higher at 6,329.

Hospital fires in India:

Eleven of the 24 fires were major fires and 13 were minor ones. More than half these fires occurred in March and April, when rising Covid-19 cases snowballed into a second wave. Of 59 deaths from hospital fires in the last two months, 33 deaths were reported from Maharashtra in six fire incidents and Gujarat (21) in three fire incidents.

Counting from August, 43 deaths in Maharashtra and 35 in Gujarat have been reported till date, the latest being in Bharuch where 16 patients and two nurses died.

What fire safety compliance is expected in public buildings, including hospitals?

At the centre of all standard-setting is the National Building Code of India. Part 4 of the Code deals with Fire and Life Safety. The document provides specifications and guidelines for design and materials that reduce the threat of destructive fires. Under the Code, all existing and new buildings are classified by nature of use, such as residential, educational, institutional, assembly (like cinemas and auditoria), business, mercantile, industrial, storage and hazardous.

The Union Home Ministry’s Directorate-General for Fire Services, Civil Defence & Home Guards says on its website that the National Building Code (NBC), published by the Bureau of Indian Standards, is a “recommendatory document”, and States have been asked to incorporate it into their local building bylaws, making the recommendations a “mandatory requirement”. Evidently, fire safety rules exist in every State, but the provisions of the Code are ignored in practice, and even mandatory certifications do not reflect compliance.

Overstressed ICUs, ACs

Fire experts blame an “overstressed” hospital system unable to bear the rising patient load for the frequent fire incidents.

“Hospitals are increasing beds, equipment and staff to admit more Covid patients, but it is not possible to immediately expand the electrical wiring system. Medical equipment or wires carrying current beyond their capacity can overheat. That is what is happening in many hospitals. We don’t need just a fire audit, we also need an electrical audit

More inflammable material

In Gujarat, fire officials have noted that ICUs lack cross-ventilation – this is the case with all ICUs as they are sealed for the purpose of keeping them sterile. In addition, due to Covid, there has been an increase of inflammable material in Hospitals – sanitiser spills and vapour, higher oxygen content in the air, and PPE kits, which are made of synthetic material . A fire official said “highly inflammable material such as these spread fire quickly” and leave very little time for a response.

Temporary hospitals

In makeshift hospitals, jumbo centres for Covid patients present their own challenges. They are made of highly inflammable materials, and sprinklers or fire alarms are difficult to install. Only fire extinguishers can be provided. Suresh Kakani, Additional Municipal Commissioner, said that to prevent a massive mishap, they have placed a fire engine next to the Mulund, Dahisar and BKC jumbo centres to reduce the response time to seconds.

No compliance with the safety Code: –

However, reports in the wake of recent fire accidents indicate that the authorities have been unable to keep up with inspection requirements for thousands of buildings. A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report for the period 2010 to 2015 noted that in Maharashtra, after a “joint physical inspection by audit of 53 government buildings/hospitals/educational institutions/commercial establishments in eight selected MCs [municipal corporations] revealed that only fire extinguishers were installed in 11 of 53 buildings and the remaining 42 buildings were not equipped with any of the fire-fighting installations”. Fire department professionals had earlier demanded third-party audits by licensed professionals.

Solutions: –

 The most common cause of fire accidents is electrical short circuit. Hospitals need to prioritize periodic testing of firefighting systems and regular training of staff on their use. Judicious placement of electrical equipment combined with oxygen monitoring devices in intensive care areas is recommended. Storage of flammable materials and placement of central gas supply points should be away from the vicinity of patient care areas and always in conjunction with robust fire detection and control methods. Hospitals should adhere to their planned capacity.

A back-up AC is necessary, which is absent in small hospitals, he said. In a fire in Vijay Vallabh Hospital in Virar outside Mumbai, which killed 15, and in Ayush Hospital, Surat, which killed three, the fire began from the AC. In both cases, the AC had functioned for 24 hours. Uchake said instead of a cassette or window AC, air handling units (AHU) must be installed in ICUs to circulate air as they are better workhorses.

Air handling units take air from the atmosphere, “recondition” it — cooling or heating as required — and circulate it within a building or a section of the building through ducts.

The cross-ventilation in ICUs to allow fumes an outlet, which would mean unsealing a part of it. 

Way forward: –

In December last year, the Supreme Court directed all States to carry out fire safety audits of dedicated COVID-19 hospitals. It has become evident that State forces lack the manpower to inspect and ensure compliance with safety codes, including the NBC, where it is mandatory. One option is to make heavy fire liability insurance compulsory for all public buildings, which would offer protection to occupants and visitors and bring about external inspection of safety.

Question: –

Explain how an uncontrolled fire is dangerous especially in the healthcare establishments as they frequently cater to the sick who often require assistance.

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