(GS-II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate)
Experts have said that increasing both the Quad’s membership and influence can serve as the basis of the Biden administration’s strategy to check China’s maximalist ambitions in Asia.
For this, experts suggested inviting South Korea to join the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad).
Why South Korea?
South Korea has 50 million people, and its economy is now G7 class, on a par with Canada or Russia. It has 600,000 servicemen and women, and its military budget, at $US50 billion ($69.5 billion), will soon surpass that of Japan. Engagement by South Korea with the Quad is becoming more important than ever.
What is Quad grouping?
The quadrilateral security dialogue includes Japan, India, United States and Australia.
All four nations find a common ground of being the democratic nations and common interests of unhindered maritime trade and security.
The grouping traces its genesis to 2004 when the four countries came together to coordinate relief operations in the aftermath of the tsunami.
It then met for the first time in 2007 on the sidelines of the Association of SouthEast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
The intention was to enhance maritime cooperation between the four nations.
Significance of the grouping:
Quad is an opportunity for like-minded countries to share notes and collaborate on projects of mutual interest.
Members share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific. Each is involved in development and economic projects as well as in promoting maritime domain awareness and maritime security.
It is one of the many avenues for interaction among India, Australia, Japan and the US and should not be seen in an exclusive context.
What are China’s views on the Quad?
There is a general understanding that the Quad would not take on a military dimension against any country. The strategic community in China, nevertheless, had branded it an emerging “Asian NATO”.
Notably, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s “Confluence of Two Seas” address to the Indian Parliament gave a fresh impetus to the Quad concept. This recognised the economic rise of India.
mRNA vaccine technology
(GS-III: Biotechnology related issues)
Vaccine maker Biological E. has been selected to receive mRNA technology from the World Health Organization technology transfer hub.
WHO’s technology transfer hub:
Primarily set up to address the Covid-19 emergency, WHO’s technology transfer hub has the potential to expand manufacturing capacity for other products as well, including treatments, and target other priorities such as malaria, HIV and cancer.
What is this technology all about?
Messenger RNA or mRNA technology works by teaching our cells to recognize and protect us against infectious diseases. One of the challenges with this new technology is that it must be kept cold to maintain stability during transport and storage.
What are mRNA vaccines?
mRNA vaccines trick the body into producing some of the viral proteins itself.
They work by using mRNA, or messenger RNA, which is the molecule that essentially puts DNA instructions into action.
Inside a cell, mRNA is used as a template to build a protein.
How it works?
To produce an mRNA vaccine, scientists produce a synthetic version of the mRNA that a virus uses to build its infectious proteins.
This mRNA is delivered into the human body, whose cells read it as instructions to build that viral protein, and therefore create some of the virus’s molecules themselves.
These proteins are solitary, so they do not assemble to form a virus.
The immune system then detects these viral proteins and starts to produce a defensive response to them.
Significance of mRNA vaccines:
There are two parts to our immune system: innate (the defences we’re born with) and acquired (which we develop as we come into contact with pathogens).
Classical vaccine molecules usually only work with the acquired immune system and the innate immune system is activated by another ingredient, called an adjuvant.
Interestingly, mRNA in vaccines could also trigger the innate immune system, providing an extra layer of defence without the need to add adjuvants.
CyberSecurity in India
(GS-III: Cyber security related issues)
Microsoft has introduced a cybersecurity skills development campaign in 23 geographies, including India, to address the alarming shortage of internet security professionals.
By 2025 there will be 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs available globally, representing a 350% increase over an eight-year period, as per Cybersecurity Ventures.
By that time, India alone is estimated to have almost 3.5 lakh cybersecurity job positions waiting to be filled, both in the private and public sectors.
Cyber crimes in India caused Rs 1.25 trillion loss in 2019.
Cyber threats will continue to increase as the country starts developing smart cities and rolling out 5G network, among other initiatives.
There are only a few Indian companies who are making some of the cyber security products and there is a big vacuum in the sector.
Steps taken by the Government to spread awareness about cyber crimes:
Online cybercrime reporting portal has been launched to enable complainants to report complaints pertaining to Child Pornography/Child Sexual Abuse Material, rape/gang rape imageries or sexually explicit content.
A scheme for establishment of Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) has been established to handle issues related to cybercrime in the country in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.
Establishment of National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) for protection of critical information infrastructure in the country.
All organizations providing digital services have been mandated to report cyber security incidents to CERT-In expeditiously.
Cyber Swachhta Kendra (Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre) has been launched for providing detection of malicious programmes and free tools to remove such programmes.
Formulation of Crisis Management Plan for countering cyber attacks and cyber terrorism.
What needs to be done ahead?
Finally, ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects as per the Constitution of India. States/UTs are primarily responsible for prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of crimes through their law enforcement machinery.
Indian Antarctic Bill 2022
(GS-III: Scientific Developments)
Nearly 40 years after India first signed the Antarctic Treaty, the government has brought in the Indian Antarctic Bill-2022 to regulate and monitor activities at its research stations in the frozen continent.
Key features of the bill:
It envisages regulating visits and activities to Antarctica as well potential disputes that may arise among those present on the continent.
Applicability: The Bill will apply to Indians, foreign citizens, corporations, firms and joint ventures functioning in India, and any vessel or aircraft that is either Indian or part of an Indian expedition.
It prescribes penal provisions for certain serious violations.
It prohibits Indian expedition to Antarctica or carrying of certain activities in Antarctica without a permit or the written authorisation of another party to the protocol.
It provide for inspection in India by an officer designated by the Central government as an Inspector and to constitute an inspection team to carry out inspections in Antarctica.
It provides for the constitution of the fund to be called the Antarctic fund which shall be applied towards the welfare of Antarctic research work and protection of Antarctic environment.
Need for legislation:
India had been a signatory to the Antarctica Treaty since 1983 that encumbered India to specify a set of laws governing portions of the continent where it had its research bases.
The Treaty made it mandatory for the 54 signatory countries to specify laws governing territories on which their stations are located.
India is also signatory to treaties such as the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and the Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, both of which enjoin India to help preserve the pristine nature of the continent.
Also, there is growing concern over preserving the pristine Antarctic environment and ocean around Antarctica from exploitation of marine living resources and human presence in Antarctica.