UN Report on Internet Shutdown
(GS-II: Government policies and interventions)
Recently released United Nations-backed report (by OHCHR) has highlighted that shutting down the internet affects people’s safety & well-being, hampers information flow and harms the economy
What is an Internet shutdown?
Internet shutdowns are measures taken by a government or on behalf of a government, to intentionally disrupt access to and the use of information and communications systems online.
As per #KeepItOn coalition (which monitors internet shutdown episodes across the world), documented 931 shutdowns in 74 countries from 2016-2021
India’s record: India blocked or disrupted internet connections 106 times and at least 85 of India’s internet shutdown episodes were in Jammu & Kashmir
Reasons behind it:
To subvert protests and political crisis: Almost half of all shutdowns recorded by civil society groups from 2016-2021 were carried out in the context of protests and political crises related to social, political or economic grievances.
Impact of Internet shutdown (as per the report):
Economic cost: It disrupts financial transactions, entrepreneurship, commerce and industry
The World Bank recently calculated that Internet shutdowns in Myanmar alone had cost nearly $2.8 billion from February-December 2021, reversing economic progress made over the previous decade.
Disrupts political transparency: Such disruptions undermine or eliminate access to digital tools that are critical for campaigning, promoting public discussion, conducting voting and overseeing the electoral processes
Disrupts civic life:g. societal debates, works of NGO, SHG.
Interferes with health and education: E.g. for digital education and tele-medicines
Endangers vulnerable sections: women and girls who are in need of support and protection
Loss of creativity: People are not able to utilize their online creativity and long-term disruption may also affect their mental health.
Stop imposing Internet shutdowns: It may be the last recourse but should be used rarely for legitimate reasons
Legitimate shutdown: Need to control the spread of hate speech, disinformation or other forms of content deemed illegal or harmful
Clear policies: There should be an unambiguous, publicly available and legitimate policy for any shutdown
Internet companies should engage and collaborate with stakeholders including government and civil society to prevent such disruption.
Carbon neutral efforts by Agri-food companies
(GS-III: Environment Conservation)
A recent report by FAO and EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development), highlights the need for decarbonizing agrifood systems.
Global agrifood system:
Account for 21-37% of total anthropogenic GHG emissions
Are affected by warming through changing rainfall patterns and supply chain disruptions.
Carbon neutrality may help but still is an imperfect tool to transform food systems because:
Roadblock 1: Governance of standards and processes: g. A common terminology surrounding carbon neutrality is still lacking.
Roadblock 2: Knowledge, data and tools gaps at several levels
Roadblock 3: Costs: The costs of becoming carbon neutral can be relatively high for smaller farmers and companies
Roadblock 4: Engaging smaller players: While some companies are engaging SMEs and smallholder farmers in carbon neutrality efforts, these cases are singular and so far, wide-scale engagement has been minimal.
Action Area for greener agrifood system:
Strategically target carbon neutrality ( through decarbonization policies and Nationally Determined Contributions)
Improve and standardize tools: g. simplify and harmonise database and standards for carbon accounting)
Directly support companies and farmers to decarbonize
Awareness and education on carbon neutrality
Promote sound governance mechanisms to guide low-carbon investment and private sector compliance
What are Net-zero emissions?
Net zero-emission (or carbon neutrality) means removing an equal amount of CO2 from the atmosphere as we release it, thus reducing the Earth’s net climate balance.
What is meant by the CO₂ budget?
A CO₂ budget determines how much CO₂ a country or person is allowed to emit in order to achieve the global climate protection goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.
How India taught the world the art of collecting data
(GS-I: Post Independence)
June 29, is national ‘Statistics Day’, in ‘recognition of the contributions made by Prof. Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, the ‘Plan Man’ of India.
Father of Indian statistics:
Mahalanobis certainly believed data to be instrumental in efficient planning for national and human development.
Mahalanobis established the Statistical Laboratory within the Baker Laboratory at Presidency College.
In 1933, Mahalanobis founded Sankhyā, the Indian Journal of Statistics.
Founded the Indian Statistical Institute.
His relations with Rabindranath Tagore:
Seventeen-year-old Mahalanobis first met Tagore at Santiniketan in 1910.
Mahalanobis wrote a series of essays titled ‘Rabindra Parichay’ (‘Introduction to Rabindra’) for the prestigious Bengali magazine, Probashi. He also wrote a book, Rabindranath Tagore’s Visit to Canada in 1929
He not only served as a joint secretary of Visva Bharati for 10 years from the beginning but he was also a member of the governing body, executive council, academic council, and the agricultural board.
Tagore’s dance drama, ‘Basanta’ (meaning ‘Spring’), had a premiere at the Calcutta University institute auditorium on Mahalanobis’ marriage day.
Mahalanobis-type innovation, dedication, and diligence are much needed today.
Contribution to the World:
The World Bank and the United Nations now use the methods pioneered by him.
Cooking with ‘dirty’ fuels affects women’s mental health
(GS-II: Social Justice)
The study revealed that women cooking primarily with charcoal and wood had approximately 50% higher odds of likely depression than those cooking with gas.
About 2.6 billion people — nearly half of the global population, most of them in Africa, Asia, and central and south America — rely on biomass fuels, like wood and charcoal, or kerosene to cook meals, heat, and light their homes.
In high-income countries, the inability to afford clean household energy has worsened people’s mental health. A recent study in the United Kingdom found that individuals who couldn’t afford to heat their homes had poorer mental health than those who could. This manifested in lower levels of life satisfaction.
Women whose homes did not have electricity for lighting also had 40% higher odds of being depressed than those with electric lighting.
These include a loss of productivity, fewer job opportunities, and less food security than those with access to clean energy.
Time is also lost because women often have to travel long distances to gather firewood.
Cooking with biomass fuels takes much longer than it would with clean energy sources.
This has led to reduced their stress levels, improved their diets, and provided them with more time to take on new employment.