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09 March Current Affairs

Gairsain

In News:

Uttarakhand Chief Minister named Gairsain as the new summer capital of the state

Details:

Gairsain is situated at the eastern edge of the Dudhatoli mountain range.

Uttarakhand was carved out as a separate state from Uttar Pradesh in 1998.

Statehood activists had long contended that Gairsain, a tehsil in Chamoli district, was best suited to be the capital of the mountainous state as it was a hilly region falling on the border of Kumaon and Garhwal regions.

The state Assembly is located in Dehradun, but sessions are held in Gairsain as well.

Pragyan Conclave 2020

In News:

Recently, the “Pragyan Conclave 2020”, a two-day Indian Army International Seminar was organised by Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) at New Delhi.

Key Points:

The event brings together cross-domain national and international experts to deliberate on the complex subject of ‘Changing Characteristics of Land Warfare and its Impact on the Military’.

The seminar provided a platform for deliberations on emerging ideas, perspectives and narratives that define the ‘New Age Warfare’ which is increasingly witnessing a change in its character as well as battlespace with the usage of new ‘means’ to pursue the ‘ends’.

Increased Recycling of E-waste in India

In News:

Recently, the government has informed that E-waste recycling has doubled in the country compared to 2017-18.

The government has reported that the recycling rate of 10% in 2017-18 has risen to 20% in 2018-19.

Key Points:

  1. A) Production of E-waste in India:

According to the Global E-Waste Monitor 2017, India generates about 2 million tonnes (MT) of E-waste annually.

India ranks fifth among E-waste producing countries, after the US, China, Japan and Germany.

But the government has stated that the E-waste produced in India is lower than estimates by international agencies.

  1. B) Management of E-waste:
  2. a) Producers:

The government has implemented the E-waste (Management) Rules (2016) which enforces the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

Under EPR principle the producers have been made responsible to collect a certain percentage of E-waste generated from their goods once they have reached their “end-of-life”.

  1. b) State Governments:

They have been entrusted with the responsibility for maintaining industrial space for e-waste dismantling and recycling facilities.

They are also expected to establish measures for protecting the health and safety of workers engaged in the dismantling and recycling facilities for e-waste.

Recycling of E-waste:

Most of India’s e-waste is recycled by the informal sector and under hazardous conditions.

A report by the Union Environment Ministry in 2018 found that many of India’s e-waste recyclers didn’t have the capacity to handle a large quantity of waste.

India’s first e-waste clinic for segregating, processing and disposal of waste from household and commercial units will soon be set-up in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.

E-waste:

E-Waste is short for Electronic-Waste. It is the term used to describe old, end-of-life or discarded electronic appliances. It includes computers, mobiles, consumer electronics etc.

It majorly includes electronic equipment, completely or in part discarded as waste by the consumer or bulk consumer as well as rejects from manufacturing, refurbishment and repair processes.

New Test with Quantum Coins & Computers for Quantum Sensing

In News:

Researchers from the Raman Research Institute (RRI) (autonomous institution under the Department of Science & Technology) have devised a new test for fairness of quantum coin or qubit using entanglement theory.

Key Points:

The test uses entanglement to test the fairness of the quantum coin. Their strategy enables better discrimination between quantum states. Such an advantage is valuable in quantum sensors

This is a significant contribution to quantum state discrimination and an essential aspect of quantum information science which is expected to influence quantum sensing.

Quantum Information and Quantum Computing Technology:

The domain of Quantum Information and Quantum Computing Technology is a growing area of research which is expected to influence Data Processing, which in turn, plays a central role in our lives in this Information Age.

For instance, bank transactions, online shopping and so on crucially depend on the efficiency of information transfer.

Thus the work on quantum state discrimination is expected to be valuable in people’s lives in the current era.

Initiatives Launched during India Smart Utility Week 2020

In News:

Recently, the India-European Union Flagship Call on Integrated Local Energy Systems was announced at India Smart Utility Week 2020.

Additionally, Sweden and India have also announced the India-Sweden Collaborative Industrial Research & Development Programme during the event.

India-European Union Flagship Call on Integrated Local Energy Systems:

The partnership between Indian and European Union will help to strengthen cooperation in energy research and innovation, mainly in renewable energy and its integration in the energy system.

It will also help to find solutions encompassing local integration across various energy vectors and increase the share of renewables in the energy mix and high energy efficiency.

The programme is in line with both the European Union’s and India’s involvement in Mission Innovation (MI).

India-Sweden Collaborative Industrial Research & Development Programme:

India-Sweden Collaborative Industrial Research & Development Programme is a collaborative programme on Smart Grids at a collective investment of 5 Million US $ which will help to transform the clean energy sector into a secure, adaptive, sustainable and digitally-enabled ecosystem and provide reliable and quality energy for all.

It is a joint Programme, co-funded by the Indian Department of Science & Technology (DST) and the Swedish Energy Agency.

It aims to bring together world-class expertise of Sweden and India to address challenges in the area of Smart Grids.

A smart grid is an electrical grid which includes a variety of operation and energy measures including smart meters, smart appliances, renewable energy resources, and energy-efficient resources.

The project also aims to develop technologies that can be commercialized after two years through cooperation between India and Sweden.

Freedom in the World 2020 Report

In News:

The Freedom in the World 2020 report has ranked India at the 83rd position along with Timor-Leste and Senegal.

Details:

The report is released by Freedom House, a U.S.-based watchdog, which has been tracking global political and civil liberties for almost half a century.

The report derives its methodology from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1948.

It covers 195 countries, awarding scores based on-

  1. a) Political rights indicators such as the electoral process, political pluralism and participation and government functioning.
  2. b) Civil liberties indicators related to freedom of expression and belief, associational and organisational rights, the rule of law and personal autonomy and individual rights.

Key Highlights of the Report:

India’s score fell by four points to 71, the worst decline among the world’s 25 largest democracies.

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.

India is near the bottom of the pile among the countries categorised as “Free”, with only Tunisia receiving a lower score.

The scrapping of Article 370, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA), as well as the crackdown on mass protests have been listed as the main signs of declining freedom.

The report criticised the internet blackout in Kashmir, terming it the longest shutdown ever imposed by a democracy.

It highlighted that freedom of expression (Article 19) is under threat in India, with journalists, academics and others facing harassment and intimidation when addressing politically sensitive topics.

The report noted that India has long been seen as a democratic counterweight to China and hence a strategic partner for the United States in the region.

However, that view is changing, with India attracting criticism similar to that levied against China.

India as an Observer at IOC

In News:

India has been accepted as an observer of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC).

Details:

India’s joining of the IOC as an observer has strategic importance as the Commission is an important regional institution in the Western/African Indian Ocean.

Significance of an Observer Status of India:

  1. A) Engagement with the Western Indian Ocean:

It will facilitate collective engagement with the islands in the Western Indian Ocean that are becoming strategically significant.

Given China’s growing presence in the region, India will be able to increase its naval presence and gain support for its maritime projects across the Indo-Pacific.

The Western Indian Ocean (WIO) is also a strategic location of the Indian Ocean linking the Southeastern coast of Africa to the wider Indian Ocean and beyond.

  1. B) Opportunity in the Mozambique Channel:

The IOC islands are situated around one of the key chokepoints in the Indian Ocean- the Mozambique Channel.

The Mozambique Channel is an arm of the Indian Ocean located between the African countries of Madagascar and Mozambique.

The Mozambique Channel lost its significance post the opening of the Suez Canal, but the recent hostilities near the Strait of Hormuz brought the channel back into focus as the original route for bigger commercial vessels (especially for oil tankers).

Potential of natural gas reserves in the Mozambique Channel further increases the significance of the region.

  1. C) Cooperation with France:

It will also help to boost cooperation with France that has a strong presence in the western Indian ocean.

  1. D) SAGAR Policy:

It will help to extend India’s SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) policy in the region.

SAGAR is an articulation of India’s vision for the Indian Ocean which aims for enhancement of capacities to safeguard land and maritime territories & interests; deepening economic and security cooperation in the littoral; action to deal with natural disasters and maritime threats like piracy, terrorism.

MAC Binding

In News:

The authorities have removed ban on social media and restored full internet access in Kashmir on 4th March 2020.

Among various conditions, the Internet connectivity will be made available “with mac-binding”.

Key Points:

Every device has a Media Access Control (MAC) address, a hardware identification number that is unique to it. While accessing the Internet, every device is assigned an Internet Protocol (IP) address.

This forces a particular device to access the internet from a specific IP address.

If either the MAC (Media Access Control) address or the IP address changes, the device will not be able to access the internet.

MAC-binding will also enable authorities to trace a device on the basis of its online activity.

Mobile internet services too will be available only on postpaid connections. Prepaid connections will not have access to the internet “unless verified as per the norms applicable to postpaid connections,” the order said.

Further, internet speed is restricted to second generation 2G networks, while the high-speed 4G networks will remain blocked.

Media Access Control (MAC) address:

Address that uniquely defines a hardware interface is called MAC (Media Access Control) Address.

It identifies the physical address of a computer on the internet.

It is 48 bits (6 bytes) hexadecimal address.

MAC Address of each computer on a network is unique.

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