Centre likely to allow residents to fill their NPR details online
GS2- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
The Centre will allow residents to fill the National Population Register (NPR) form on their own, through the online mode, a month before the door-to-door enumeration by Census officials starts.
After filling the form online, residents will get a reference code that they can mention to the field enumerator at the time of her or his visit.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced on February 1 that ?3,768 crore had been allocated for the Census in the financial year 2021-22.
As per an annual report of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, the option will now be made available for updating the NPR also.
The NPR earlier collated in 2010 and 2015 has an electronic database of more than 119 crore residents.
The NPR’s link with the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the yet to be implemented Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019, has been opposed by many States and civil society groups.
The Citizenship Rules framed in the year 2003 say that the NPR is the first step towards the compilation of the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC), or the NRC.
Environmentalists, residents against legalisation of mining in Aravalis
GS3- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Ahead of the hearing of a petition by Haryana government seeking permission for mining in Aravalis in Gurugram and Faridabad in the Supreme Court, environmentalists and the residents are strongly opposed to mining being legalised and demand that forest cover be increased in the State.
In an email campaign to the Chief Justice of India, the residents have been demanding that no mining and real estate be allowed in the Aravalis.
The residents, in the email, argued that destruction of the Aravalis would worsen the air pollution situation in the NCR and the mountain range is the only natural barrier against desertification.
The Aravalis, with their natural cracks and fissures, have the potential to put two million litres of water per hectare in the ground every year.
Govt to shed AAI stake in Delhi, Mumbai airports
GS2- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
The Ministry would obtain requisite approvals for the divestment of equity stake of AAI in the joint ventures for the Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad airports.
Once approval comes through, the Government is likely to sell the remaining shareholding of AAI in these four key airports.
Currently, AAI holds 26 per cent stake each in the Delhi and Mumbai airports, 13 per cent in Hyderabad and 13 per cent in the Bengaluru facility.
The GMR Group owns 54 per cent stake in the Delhi airport, while Adani Group hold 74 per cent in the Mumbai airport.
In addition to these four airports, AAI holds 49 per cent stake in Nagpur, 7.47 per cent in Kannur, and 51 per cent in Chandigarh.
India, Pak Indus Commissioners set to meet on March23-24
GS2 –Bilateral agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
The Indus Commissioners of India and Pakistan are set to meet on March 23-24 in New Delhi.
Indians are committed towards full utilisation of India’s rights under the treaty and believe in amicable solution of issues through discussion.
This will be the first meeting of Indus Commissioners after a gap of two and a half years.
The last meeting of the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) was held in Lahore, Pakistan from August 29-30, 2018.
According to the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty, all the waters of the Eastern Rivers (Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi) amounting to around 33 million acre feet (MAF) annually is allocated to India for unrestricted use and the waters of Western rivers (Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab) amounting to around 135 MAF annually largely to Pakistan.
Future force for future wars
Why in News: –
Confluence technology and a whole-of-government approach need to drive new strategies and tactics.
GS-3: Security challenges and their management in border areas.
While addressing the country’s top military leadership in Gujarat’s Kevadia recently, Prime Minister asked the top commanders to develop the military into a future force while taking note of the rapidly changing technological landscape.
It is an approach that focuses on breaking down civil-military silos and on expediting the speed of decision-making besides shedding the legacy system.
Changing nature of war:
The character of war was demonstrated depending upon the norms and ideology of society, technology, and anonymity.
Now, new terms denote changes in the definition of modern war. These include ‘hyper’, ‘hybrid’, ‘compound’, ‘non-linear’, ‘fourth-generation’, ‘next-generation’ and ‘contactless.
Military theorist Carl von Clausewitz recognised the changing character of war incredibly early when he stated that war was practically limitless in variety.
Such being the unpredictability, how do you modernise a force and make it ready for the future
Fifth Domain is the newest theater of warfare – cyberspace – joining land, sea, air and space. But unlike the other domains, the conflicts in cyberwar are rarely military-on-military.
Instead, nation-states, criminal organizations and terrorist groups are going after civilian populations and infrastructure.
Modern future technology:
It consists of cutting-edge technology, exploration of new operational concepts for utilising such technology, and retaining the best and brightest in human resource to achieve the objective of peace.
Although still in its inchoate stages, it focuses on promising technology areas such as robotics and system autonomy, miniaturisation, Big Data, and advanced manufacturing.
It provides for autonomous learning systems, collaborative decision-making between humans and machines, assisted human operations, advanced manned-unmanned systems operations, network-enabled autonomous weapons, and high-speed projectiles.
Technologies like these can be expected to cause unprecedented effects and disruption by impacting cognitive and perceptional domains through weapons, soldiers, robots, and cyborgs.
Tactical actions undertaken through these can be expected to cause strategic effects.
Indian Scenario and Technology: –
In India, the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, is preparing the future force. He admits that ‘force on force’ concepts are difficult to tide over but is positive about the future.
To prepare for accelerated future wars, they need to master the ‘hybridised effect’ of warfare that our adversaries are increasingly adopting.
Operating below the thresholdof out-and-out hostilities, effects caused by anonymous threats bypass frontiers without challenging national sovereignty.
The understanding of war: organized campaigns, orchestrated by domain-led central staff against an enemy that conforms to preconceived notions of logical and rational actions.
Confluence technology and a whole-of-government approach,which are absent, need to drive new strategies and tactics.
Way Forward: –
The Prime Minister said needs to change when he asked for breaking of civilian-military silos, Perhaps the most important political trend affecting armed conflict in the 21st centurywill be in the relationship between civilians and those who fight on their behalf.
That hybrid war operates in the space short of clear-cut military action recalls the admonishment of the ancient Chinese general, Sun Tzu, that “To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill”
Finally, contemporary hybrid war isan offensive, not defensive, military strategy. Those who wage hybrid war are not responding to a proximate event or threat.
War, at its core, is organised violence, waged for political purposes. Discuss in light of contribution of technology in changing the nature of war.
Forestalling a cyber–Pearl Harbour.
Why in News: –
The New York Times reported recently that , “China appears to warn India. As part of a broad Chinese cybercampaign against India’s power grid, timed to send a message that if India pressed, its claims too hard.
GS-3: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security;
According to a despatch by The New York Times,in the lead-up to the India-China border clashes, Recorded Future had found an increase in malware attacks targeting the Indian government, defence organisations and the public sector.
The coinciding with Chinese incursions in Eastern Ladakh, certain Indian power facilities had been targets of acyber-attack.
The evidence of ongoing intrusions, though the intensity of the activity appeared to have ceased by mid-February 2021.
What is Cyber security?
Cyber security is the application of technologies, processes and controls to protect systems, networks, programs, devices and data from cyber attacks.
It aims to reduce the risk of cyber attacks and protect against the unauthorised exploitation of systems, networks and technologies.
Cyber security can be described as the collective methods, technologies, and processes to help protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of computer systems, networks and data, against cyber-attacks or unauthorized access.
Cyber security is important because it encompasses everything that pertains to protecting our sensitive data, personally identifiable information (PII),
protected health information (PHI),personal information, intellectual property, data, and governmental and industry information systems from theft and damage attempted.
To whether the October 2020 blackout in Mumbai was directly linked to this cyber attack. State authorities in Maharashtra attributed the blackout to the attack by the Chinese cyber group, but authorities in Delhi blamed it on human error.
The real concern is that key infrastructure facilities, such as the power sector, were now in the crosshairs of a hostile China, which appeared intent on deploying cyber weapons to target India.
China’s intention evidently is to keep India in thrall, while outwardly demonstrating a conciliatory posture, such as vacating some of the areas in Eastern Ladakh that it had occupied post April 2020.
This was well demonstrated way back in 2016, when a major attack on Ukraine’s power grid took place and set an ominous precedent in this respect.
The attacks were carried out by skilled cyber security professionals, who had planned their assaults over many months, testing the quality of the malware, carrying out detailed logistics planning, and conducting a very sophisticated operation.
The Ukraine example should be a wake-up call for India and the world, as in the intervening five years, the sophistication of cyber attacks and the kind of malware available have become more advanced. India, could well be blindsided by Chinese cyber attacks on critical infrastructure if the latter sets out to do so, unless prophylactic measures are taken in time.
The wake-up call for India:
The reported events area wakeup call for India, and it would be a grievous error if India were to underestimate the extent of the cyber threat posed to it by China.
Indian government agencies, such as the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) and the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) may have more information on China’s aggressive cyber campaign, but if what Recorded Future has indicated is true,
There has been an observationof a large increase in suspected targeted intrusion activity against Indian organisations from Chinese state-sponsored groups’ concentrating on infrastructure targets, including the power sector and ports, then India needs to be on its guard.
India has been attacked by suspected Chinese state-sponsored groups multiple times in the past. In 2009, a suspected cyber espionage network dubbed Ghost Net was found to be targeting, amongst others, the Tibetan government in exile in India, and many Indian embassies.
AXIOMATIC ASYMPTOTE,whose servers are known to be used by RedEcho, a China-linked activity group which targets India’s power sector, and facilitates the employment of a malware known as Shadow Pad.
Shadow Pad is a network intrusion malware affiliated to both the Chinese Ministry of State Security and the People’s Liberation Army. Shadow Pad is depicted as a “back-door ‘Trojan’ malware which creates a secret path from a targeted system to a command-and-control server to extract information”.
An offensive by China:
Across the world, Beijing does appear to be engaged in a major cyber offensive, directed not only against countries like India but against many advanced nations as well.
In attempting this, what China is doing is essentially exploiting to perfection the much vulnerability that software companies essentially thosein the West, have deliberately left open for offensive purposes at an opportune time.
Exploiting this loophole, and also turning matters on its head, it is companies in the western world that are now at the receiving end of such antics, having ‘left vulnerabilities for future exploitation,
Chinese cyber espionage sets no limitations on targets.
Towards the end of 2020, and as the world prepared for large-scale deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, their attention was directed to vaccine distribution supply chains around the world.
A global ‘spearphishing campaign’ targeting organisations responsible for vaccine storage and transportation was reportedly unleashed, and while concrete evidence as to which country was indeed responsible for this is not available, the shadow of suspicion has fallen mainly on Chinese hackers.
Their objective seems to have been targeting vaccine research, gaining future access to corporate networks, and seeking sensitive information relating to COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
Cyber warfare by others:
Very recently in 2021, several thousands of U.S. organizations were hacked in an unusually aggressive Chinese espionage campaign.
The Chinese group, Hafnium, which has been identified as being responsible for this breach, exploited a series of flaws in the Microsoft software, enabling attackers to gain total remote control over affected systems.
The U.S. has extensively publicised Russia’s cyber antics from time to time. Best known are accusations of Russia’s cyber interference in the U.S. presidential elections in 2016, which approached the level of a major scandal.
Russia is currently the prime suspect in one of the greatest data breaches concerning the U.S. Federal government, involving the Departments of Defence, Energy, State, Homeland Security, Treasury, etc
Headlined SolarWinds, the late 2020 breach is a prime example of the damage that can be caused by a cyber-attack.
China’s Cyber- View
China’s analysis of the state of current relations between China and India is that they remain antagonistic to the point of ‘de-coupling’, and the confrontation between Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ‘Community with shared future for mankind’ and India’s current posture could lead to a ‘long period of volatility’.
As India grows closer to the U.S., this gap between the two key Asian nations can be expected to become still wider.
Under Mr. Xi, China has forged a firm nexus between authoritarianism, global ambitions and technology, and is determined to transform the global order to advance its interests.
China’s 2021 Defence Budget (amounting to $209 billion)gives special weightage to the Strategic Support Force (SSF), which embraces cyber warfare — an ominous portent that bodes little good for countries that posit a challenge to China’s ambitions, such as India.
Drawing up a comprehensive cyber strategy, one that fully acknowledges the extent of the cyber threat from China, has thus become an imperative and immediate necessity
India Institutional security:
The National Security Council, usually chaired by the National Security Adviser (NSA), and plays a key role in shaping India’s cyber policy ecosystem. The NSA also chairs the National Information Board, which is meant to be the apex body for cross-ministry coordination on cybersecurity policymaking.
The National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre established under the National Technical Research Organisation in January 2014 was mandated to facilitate the protection of critical information infrastructure.
In 2015, the Prime Minister established the office of the National Cyber Security Coordinator who advises the Prime Minister on strategic cybersecurity issues.
India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In),which is the nodal entity responding to various cybersecurity threats to non-critical infrastructure comes under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY).
The Ministry of Defence has recently upgraded the Defence Information Assurance and Research Agency to establish the Defence Cyber Agency, a tri-service command of the Indian armed forces to coordinate and control joint cyber operations, and craft India’s cyber doctrine.
The Ministry of Home Affairs oversees multiple similarly-named “coordination centres” that focus on law enforcement efforts to address cybercrime, espionage and terrorism,
The Ministry of External Affairs coordinates India’s cyber diplomacy push both bilaterally with other countries, and at international for a like the United Nations.
If China has indeed embarked on an all-out offensive of this nature, India needs to adopt comprehensive measures to forestall a potential ‘Cyber Pearl Harbour’, as far as India is concerned.
There are no readymade solutions to counter the cyber offensive emanating from different quarters. No nation can hope, or can claim, to be insulated from such attacks. Awareness, readiness, resilience and technology in cyber space could be a solution for cyber attract.
‘Cyber’ could well be one of China’s main threat vectors employed against countries that do not fall in line with China’s world view. Critically examine.A
A high growth plan for Indian agriculture
Why in News: –
GS 3: Growth And Development
The centrality of agriculture in India goes much beyond its immediate employment contribution, where it engages close to 42 per cent of the country’s workforce.
The sector not only feeds the large and growing Indian population but with its close interlinkage with poverty, it is best positioned to alleviate problems of malnutrition and hunger.
In addition, agriculture supplies inputs for other industries and is critical for triggering a multiplier effect in the economy, where a financially empowered farming community triggers a demand-led growth, particularly for manufactured products and services.
There is no doubt that the sector needs to grow not just for those employed in it but also for the economy as a whole.
Growth in Agriculture: –
More specifically, one seeks a growth process that is not just more efficient, and inclusive of India’s small and marginal but is also sustainable — both financially and environmentally — and augments farmer incomes.
But then comes the question of the diversity in Indian states, where they differ as much on endowments of factors of production like land and water as they do on access to market opportunities
Three factors are necessary for most of the agrarian growth. One, access to infrastructure — mainly irrigation and roads — two, diversification to high value agricultural products like fruits, vegetables, and allied activities like dairy and poultry, and three, price incentives or favourable terms of trade.
Bringing markets closer to farmers and increasing the efficiency of the value-chains emerged as an important factor that explained agricultural growth in Gujarat (mainly cotton, groundnut, livestock), Madhya Pradesh (wheat, soybean, pulses), Odisha (livestock and fruits and vegetables), and Bihar (maize and livestock). Access to irrigation emerged as a critical factor of growth.
By ensuring timely access to sufficient irrigation, states like Gujarat and Punjab could explain their high performances.
Role of uninterrupted quality power too emerged important in this.
Diversification of the agricultural basket of a state was found to strengthen a state’s agri-performance.
For the period between 2000-01 to 2015-16, among the six states, GVO in agriculture grew the fastest in Gujarat at 9.1 per cent.
About a quarter of this growth came from growth in livestock, followed by cotton and F&V sectors that each made about an equal contribution of 17 per cent.
Madhya Pradesh with an average GVO growth of 8 per cent grew second fastest. Again, it was fruits and vegetables and livestock that together explained about 39 per cent of this growth.
The lowest growth was observed in Punjab, about 35 per cent of this came from livestock sector and about 30 percent from cereals.
Oilseeds contributed largest to growth in Gujarat (16.9 per cent) and Madhya Pradesh (12.5 per cent).
Pulses made a substantial contribution only in case of MP (11.6 per cent) and sugar emerged an important growth driver in UP (11.6 per cent).
The requirement to undertake policy reforms, mainly related to marketing, emerged as a key driver and predictor of growth.
Historical agricultural growth rate averages of Indian states against the state-wise ranks on the NITI Aayog’s Agricultural Markets and Farmer Friendly Reforms Index — AMFFRI, an index that evaluates Indian states on the extent to which each of them undertook required agri-reforms; a low AMFFRI rank implies the state is undertaking desired reforms.
It was found that states that undertook reforms, and were thus ranked low on AMFFRI, witnessed a relatively faster Agri-GDP growth rate and states which did not undertake required reforms, and thus were ranked high on the AMFFRI, witnessed relatively lower agri-GDP growth rates.
There were some exceptions: Karnataka, Haryana and Maharashtra. These states undertook reforms, and thus had low AMFFRI ranks, but they witnessed a low agri-GDP growth rate.
This is likely to be attributed to the delayed effect of reforms on the agri-performance.
Way Forward: –
States need to move beyond production-centric approach to a value-chain approach with FPOs at its centre.
It highlights importance and requirement of growing public investments in basic infrastructure, like roads, markets, power supplies, and agri-R&D.
And finally, in the longer run, rationalising subsidies (both input and output) via direct income transfer is suggested, as that will not only empower farmer but will also give them right signals for efficient use of these resources (fertilisers, power, water).
This will help put agriculture on a higher growth trajectory, augment farmers’ incomes, and promote sustainable development of agriculture.