Daily PT Capsule May 20-23

Daily PT Capsule UPSC Civil Services
Daily PT Capsule UPSC Civil Services

Here is the digest of important newspaper articles and quiz!

TRAI floats consultation paper on free data

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India issued a consultation paper on free data seeking comments from stakeholders whether business models which provide free data or suitable reimbursement to users could be allowed without violating the differential pricing norms set by the regulator.

This move has come in the background of connecting the remaining Indian population with Internet. The paper says that after the last ruling of TRAI, certain stakeholders approached the regulator expressing “a need to have some TSP agnostic platform which can facilitate app developer to promote their website by providing some incentive to user for making their website popular.” The paper links this with serving the “under-connected” or “unconnected” populations in India. This TRAI paper asks if there is a need for such a model, if such a model should need regulation, and if such a model should be extended to fixed line broadband as well.

It is looking at whether a “Telecom Service Provider (TSP)-agnostic platform” that does not play the role of gate-keeper could be allowed in order to “give consumers more choices for accessing the Internet.”

The regulator cited examples of some business models like Gigato and mCent which provide data recharge coupons (essentially giving away free data without being a gatekeeper) in exchange for the customer downloading a specific application or performing some activity on a particular website.


What was the TRAI ruling on net neutrality? – The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Monday barred telecom service providers from charging differential rates for data services, effectively prohibiting Facebook’s Free Basics and Airtel Zero platform by Airtel.

1) No service provider can offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content.

2) No service provider shall enter into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called, with any person, natural or legal, that the effect of discriminatory tariffs for data services being offered or charged by the service provider for the purpose of evading the prohibition in this regulation.

3) Reduced tariff for accessing or providing emergency services, or at times of public emergency has been permitted.

4) Financial disincentives for contravention of the regulation have also been specified.

5) TRAI may review these regulations after a period of two years.

What could be the problems with free data business models? – According to net neutrality activists, the issue of a platform, and not a telecom operator, zero rating specific websites is the same thing that Free Basics was doing, and it was denied in the last consultation.

Also, the idea of a website tracking the usage of their website and reimbursing users the exact amount of cash for that usage had the same impact as zero rating does. These models should not be allowed.

Source: TheHindu, TimesofIndia


Ordinance cleared to keep states out of NEET

The Union cabinet cleared an ordinance bypassing Supreme court’s decision on the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance test(NEET) a common test for admission to medical and dental courses.The ordinance that, once it comes into effect, will override the apex court’s order and allow the State boards to hold their own entrance tests this year.

The Health Ministry maintains that the exception is only for the present academic session. NEET will be implemented next year onwards.

President Pranab Mukherjee has sought legal advice on the ordinance to keep State boards out of the ambit of uniform medical entrance examination, NEET, for this year.


What is the ordinance making power of President? – Article 123 of the constitution allows President to promulgate ordinances during Parliamentary recess. If at any time, except when both Houses of Parliament are in session, the President is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action, he may promulgate such Ordinance as the circumstances appear to him to require.

An Ordinance promulgated under this article shall have the same force and effect as an Act of Parliament.

Source: TheHindu


Red Line campaign on antibiotic

The global Review on Antimicrobial Resistance – commissioned by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014 and chaired by economist Jim O’Neill has said in its final report India has led the way so far with its idea of a ‘Red Line Campaign’ for antibiotics packaging.

Labelling standards of the red line type could be imitated around the globe. The report also says 20-30 per cent of antibiotics are consumed without prescription in south and east Europe, and up to 100 per cent in parts of Africa.


What is antimicrobial resistance? – Antimicrobial resistance is resistance of a microorganism to an antimicrobial drug that was originally effective for treatment of infections caused by it.

Resistant microorganisms (including bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites) are able to withstand attack by antimicrobial drugs, such as antibacterial drugs (e.g. antibiotics), antifungals, antivirals, and antimalarials, so that standard treatments become ineffective and infections persist, increasing the risk of spread to others.

Antibiotic resistance refers specifically to the resistance to antibiotics that occurs in common bacteria that cause infections. Antimicrobial resistance is a broader term, encompassing resistance to drugs to treat infections caused by other microbes as well, such as parasites (e.g. malaria), viruses (e.g. HIV) and fungi (e.g. Candida).

What is Red Line Campaign? – India’s Red Line campaign, launched in February 2016, began marking prescription-only antibiotics with a red line to curb their irrational use and create awareness on the dangers of taking antibiotics without being prescribed.

It is still early in India to map the impact of the Red Line initiative, but experts see better awareness. The government has backed it up with a communication campaign that says a Red Line medicine should not be taken without prescription.

Source: TheHindu


Cyclone Roanu on East coast

The Indian coast of Bay of Bengal has been facing a cyclonic threat pre monsoons. Cyclone storm Roanu  is likely to move along the Andhra Pradesh coast and, thereafter, north-eastwards. It is expected to cross the south Bangladesh coast between Khepupara and Cox’s Bazaar as a cyclonic storm.

The Met department has issued “orange” warning (cyclone warning) to the Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coasts, and “yellow” warning (cyclone alert) to the West Bengal coast.


What do the different colors in warning indicate? – The cyclone warnings are issued to state government officials by IMD in four stages.

1) The First Stage warning known as “PRE CYCLONE WATCH” issued 72 hours in advance contains early warning about the development of a cyclonic disturbance in the north Indian Ocean, its likely intensification into a tropical cyclone and the coastal belt likely to experience adverse weather. This early warning bulletin is issued by the Director General of Meteorology himself and is addressed to the Cabinet Secretary and other senior officers of the Government of India including the Chief Secretaries of concerned maritime states.

2) The Second Stage warning known as “CYCLONE ALERT” is issued at least 48 hrs. in advance of the expected commencement of adverse weather over the coastal areas. It contains information on the location and intensity of the storm likely direction of its movement, intensification, coastal districts likely to experience adverse weather and advice to fishermen, general public, media and disaster managers.

3) The Third Stage warning known as “CYCLONE WARNING” issued at least 24 hours in advance of the expected commencement of adverse weather over the coastal areas. Landfall point is forecast at this stage. These warnings are issued by ACWCs/CWCs/and CWD at HQ at 3 hourly interval giving the latest position of cyclone and its intensity, likely point and time of landfall, associated heavy rainfall, strong wind and storm surge along with their impact and advice to general public, media, fishermen and disaster managers.

4) The Fourth Stage of warning known as “POST LANDFALL OUTLOOK” is issued by the concerned ACWCs/CWCs/and CWD at HQ at least 12 hours in advance of expected time of landfall. It gives likely direction of movement of the cyclone after its landfall and adverse weather likely to be experienced in the interior areas.

Different colour codes as mentioned below are being used since post monsoon season of 2006 the different stages of the cyclone warning bulletins as desired by the National Disaster Management.

Cyclone Alert – Yellow, Cyclone Warning – Orange, Post landfall OutLook –  Red.

Source: IMD


40 million Indians at risk from rising sea levels: UN Report

Nearly 40 million Indians will be at risk from rising sea levels by 2050, with people in Mumbai and Kolkata having the maximum exposure to coastal flooding in future due to rapid urbanisation and economic growth, according to a UN environment report.

The ‘Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6): Regional Assessments’ said the worst impacts of climate change are projected to occur in the Pacific and South and South-East Asia.

It said focussing on the population at risk from sea-level rise by 2050, seven of the 10 most vulnerable countries worldwide are in the Asia Pacific region.

India tops the chart with nearly 40 million people in the country projected to be at risk from rising sea levels, followed by more than 25 million in Bangladesh, over 20 million in China and nearly 15 million in the Philippines.

It said changes in settlement patterns, urbanisation and socio-economic status in Asia have influenced observed trends in vulnerability and exposure to climate extremes.


Who publishes the Global Environmental Outlook? – Global Environment Outlook (GEO) is a series of reports on the environment issued periodically by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).

The GEO project was initiated in response to the environmental reporting requirements of UN Agenda 21 and to a UNEP Governing Council decision of May 1995 which requested the production of a new comprehensive global state of the environment report.

Five GEO reports have been published to date: GEO-1 in 1997; GEO-2000 in 1999; GEO-3 in 2002; GEO-4 in 2007; and GEO-5 in 2012.

What will be the impact on coastal areas? – Evidence suggests that climate change and climate variability and sea-level rise will exacerbate multi-dimensional poverty in most developing countries.

By 2050, areas of storm surge zones are expected for Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, with a combined total of over 58 million people at risk.

Global urban populations are projected to increase by 2.5 billion by 2050, with nearly 90 per cent of the increase in Asia and Africa.

Source: TheHindu


Gene database of Indian genes

Bangalore-based Medgenome has teamed up with a Southeast Asian consortium that has committed to sequence 100,000 Asian genomes. This would include a consolidated storehouse of at least 30,000 Indian genomes.

Ever since the human genome was first sequenced in 2003, that is the entire DNA pattern in the cell that lends people their unique identity was deciphered, several countries have announced initiatives to map genomes of their resident populations. The so-called 1000 Genomes project is a collection of gene samples from across the world to capture the variety of genes that are typical to different population groups. The United Kingdom announced a plan in 2014 to create a bank of 100,000 genomes in the nation and 100,000 Asia genomes project – called GenomeAsia 100K – echoes similar ambitions.

The project will cost $120 million (approx. Rs 800 crore), though only about half of that has been firmed up. Other key collaborators in the project are Singapore’s Nanyang Technological Institute, Singapore, and Macrogen, a genetics diagnostic company in Seoul.


What is the benefit of the project? – The project could help understand the wide genetic variety in India’s various ethnic groups and result in customized medications for cancer and heart disease as well as identify possible new genetic aberrations that cause untreatable diseases.

While many diseases are linked to genes going awry, afflictions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer etc are usually the result of several genes malfunctioning, and often in a domino-like effect. Identifying such culprits are impossible without comparing genes, across individuals and population groups, in large numbers. Thus BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 – genes associated with breast cancer – are found in as many as one-third of women. Several of them go on to live without ever contracting the cancer. These genes come in several varieties that can vary on the level of families as well as ethnicity. Genome sequence studies are effective in studying such variations.

Source: TheHindu

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