What's New :

23rd September 2022

  • Published
    23 September 2022

Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022

Context

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) issued the draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022. The proposed Bill aims to bring in sweeping changes to how the telecom sector is governed, primarily by giving the Centre more powers in several areas to do so.

About

Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022:

  • The Centre aims to consolidate and amend the existing laws governing the provision, development, expansion and operation of telecommunication services, telecom networks and infrastructure, in addition to assignment of spectrum.
  • The draft Bill consolidates three separate acts that govern the telecommunications sector —
    • Indian Telegraph Act 1885,
    • Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act 1933, and
    • The Telegraph Wires, (Unlawful Protection) Act 1950.

 Key amendments:

  • Inclusion of new-age over-the-top communication services like WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram in the definition of telecommunication services.
  • As per the draft law, providers of telecommunication services will be covered under the licensing regime, and will be subjected to similar rules as other telecom operators.
    • This issue has been under contention for several years now with telecom service providers seeking a level-playing field with OTT apps over communication services such as voice calls, messages, etc. where operators had to incur high costs of licences and spectrum, while OTT players rode on their infrastructure to offer free services.
  • The Centre is also looking to amend the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act (TRAI Act) to dilute the sectoral watchdog’s function of being a recommendatory body.
    • The current TRAI Act mandates the telecom department to seek the regulator’s views before issuing a new licence to a service provider.
    • The proposed Bill does away with this provision. 
  • The new Bill also proposes to remove the provision where if the DoT cannot accept TRAI’s recommendations or needs modification, it had to refer back the recommendation for reconsideration by TRAI.
  • The DoT has also proposed that if a telecom entity in possession of spectrum goes through bankruptcy or insolvency, the assigned spectrum will revert to the control of the Centre.
    • So far, in insolvency proceedings, there has been a lack of clarity on whether the spectrum owned by a defaulting operator belongs to the Centre, or whether banks can take control of it.
  • It also proposes to replace the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) with the Telecommunication Development Fund (TDF).

Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF):

  • USOF is the pool of funds generated by the 5 per cent Universal Service Levy that is charged upon all telecom fund operators on their Adjusted Gross Revenue.
  • The USOF has largely been used to aid rural connectivity. 

Popular Front of India

Context

The National Investigation Agency recently launched a massive nationwide search operation in connection with anti-terror activities.

About

What is the Popular Front of India?

  • The PFI was created in 2007 through the merger of three Muslim organisations in southern India,
  • the National Democratic Front in Kerala,
  • the Karnataka Forum for Dignity, and
  • the Manitha Neethi Pasarai in Tamil Nadu
  • 2006: A decision to bring the three outfits together was taken in November 2006 at a meeting in Kozhikode in Kerala.
  • 2007: The formation of the PFI was formally announced at a rally in Bengaluru during what was called the “Empower India Conference” on February 16, 2007.
  • The PFI, which emerged in the aftermath of the ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), has projected itself as an organisation that fights for the rights of minorities, Dalits, and marginalised communities.
  • It has frequently targeted the alleged anti-people policies of the Congress, the BJP, and the JD-S in Karnataka, even as these mainstream parties have accused one another of being in cahoots with the PFI to gather the support of Muslims at the time of elections.
  • The PFI has itself never contested elections. It has been involved in carrying out social and Islamic religious work among Muslims on the lines of the work done by right-wing groups such as the RSS, VHP, and Hindu Jagaran Vedike among the Hindu community.
  • The PFI does not maintain records of its members, and it has been difficult for law enforcement agencies to pin crimes on the organisation after making arrests.

What is the NIA?

  • It is a central agency. It is mandated to investigate the:
    • offences affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, friendly relations with foreign states
    • offences under the statutory laws enacted to implement international treaties, agreements, conventions and resolutions of the United Nations, its agencies and other international organisations
  • Establishment: The NIA was constituted in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack in November 2008. The agency came into existence on December 31, 2008, and started its functioning in 2009. 
  • Applicability: The law under which the agency operates extends to the whole of India and also applies to Indian citizens outside the country.
  • Crimes: These include terror acts and their possible links with crimes like smuggling of arms, drugs and fake Indian currency and infiltration from across the borders.
    • The agency has the power to search, seize, arrest and prosecute those involved in such offences.
  • Headquartered in Delhi, the NIA has its branches in Hyderabad, Guwahati, Kochi, Lucknow, Mumbai, Kolkata, Raipur, Jammu, Chandigarh, Ranchi, Chennai, Imphal, Bengaluru and Patna.

 

Plastic can enter the human food chain

Context

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland have found that small pieces of plastic called nanoplastics can travel up the human food web, through plants, insects and even fish.

About

About New study:

  • The team of researchers developed a new, metallic fingerprint-based method to detect and measure the amount of nanoplastics in organisms.
  • The experiment:
  • For the study, researchers applied the technique to a model food chain that contains three trophic levels (trophic level is the position an organism occupies in the food chain) — lettuce, which was the primary producer, black soldier fly larvae, the primary consumer, and insectivorous fish (roach) as the secondary consumer.
  • The researchers exposed lettuce plants to nanoplastics from commonly found plastic waste in the environment — polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) nanoplastics — through contaminated soil for 14 days.
  • They were then harvested and fed to black soldier fly larvae, insects that are used as a source of protein in many countries, and are also used as feed for chickens and cattle.
  • After five days of feeding them the lettuce, the insects were then fed to the fish (roach) for five days. The roach, (Rutilus rutilus) is widely found in fresh and brackish water and is sometimes eaten and used as bait.

What is plastic?

  • Plastic is a polymer or a long, long chain of monomers.
  • In nature, polymers exist everywhere. But it is also possible to create them from crude oil or petroleum.
  • These are known as synthetic polymers and plastic is one of them. Synthetic polymers have extraordinary traits. They are lightweight, durable and can be given any colour and molded into almost any shape.
  • Microplastics: They are pieces of plastic debris under five millimetres in length.
  • Nanoplastics: Nanoplastics are tiny plastic debris particles smaller than 1,000 nanometre (1 nm is equal to one billionth of a metre)

What makes plastic non-biodegradable?

  • Strong bond: The atomic structure of plastic or the monomer is essentially made up of carbon and hydrogen that has a strong bond and is hard to break. This bond make plastic non-biodegradable and causing plastic pollution.
  • Unfortunately, no plant/animal/bacteria exists has the ability to break down the bonds between carbon and hydrogen atoms of the monomer of plastic.
  • In exposure to ultra violet rays of sunlight, plastic breaks down into very small pieces known as micro plastics.

Why plastic is a threat?

  • Adding toxics to atmosphere:The used plastic is unsuitable for recycling and is burnt, which further releases toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. 
  • Contamination:In case, the plastic is not burnt, it ends up in a landfill, potentially contaminating soil, land and water sources.
  • Adding threats to marine life:Plastic bags threats marine life such as fishes, turtles which unknowingly consume plastic that is dumped into the water bodies. Ocean plastic is estimated to kill millions of marine animals every year. 
  • Uncollected waste:Since there is no adequate capacity of recycling of plastic waste, a huge quantity of plastic waste remains uncollected causing substantial damage to soil and water bodies.

Paediatric eczema

Context

According to a new study, a new drug has shown ‘significant’ improvement in moderate to severe eczema symptoms for patients between the age of six months and five years.

About
  • Dupilumab, a biological drug, worked better than immune-suppressing medications. 
  • Dupilumab injection is in a class of medications called monoclonal antibodies. It works by stopping the action of certain substances in the body that cause inflammation

Eczema:

  • Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder characterised by red, dry, often oozing skin and itch that can profoundly affect the lives of affected patients and their families. 
  • An estimated 19 per cent or more of all children under 6 years of age have eczema. The onset of the disease for 85-90 per cent patients happens in the first five years of life. 
  • The children’s debilitating itch leads to sleep disturbance, poor neurocognitive development and, on average, a full night of sleep lost per week.
  • Eczema is not contagious. The cause of eczema is unknown. It is likely caused by both genetic and environmental factors.
  • Eczema may get better or worse over time, but it is often a long-lasting disease. People who have it may also develop hay fever and asthma.

Infant eczema symptoms

The following atopic dermatitis symptoms are common in babies under the age of 2:

  • rashes on the scalp and cheeks
  • rashes that bubble up before leaking fluid
  • rashes that can cause extreme itchiness, which may interfere with sleeping

Symptoms of eczema include the following:

  • Rough, leathery patches
  • Intense itching
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Recurring rash
  • Dark colored patches of skin
  • Dry, sensitive skin
  • Scaly areas
  • Areas of swelling

Treatments

  • There is currently no cure for eczema. Treatment for the condition aims to heal the affected skin and prevent flares of symptoms.
  • Doctors will suggest a treatment plan based on an individual’s age, symptoms, and current state of health.
  • For some people, eczema goes away over time. For others, however, it is a lifelong condition.

Types

There are several types of eczema. Besides atopic dermatitis, other types include:

  • Allergic contact dermatitis:This is a skin reaction that occurs following contact with a substance or allergen that the immune system recognizes as foreign.
  • Dyshidrotic eczema:This refers to irritation of the skin on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It is characterized by blisters.
  • Neurodermatitis:This leads to scaly patches of skin on the head, forearms, wrists, and lower legs. It occurs due to a localized itch, such as from an insect bite.
  • Discoid eczema:Also known as nummular eczema, this type presents as circular patches of irritated skin that can be crusted, scaly, and itchy.
  • Stasis dermatitis:This refers to skin irritation of the lower leg. It is usually related to circulatory problems.

James Webb Space Telescope captures Neptune’s rings in decades

Context

The James Webb Space Telescope has captured the clearest image of Neptune, its rings, and its moons since the Voyager 2 spacecraft did a fly-by in 1989.

About

About the image:

  • Neptune does not appear blue in the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) image from Webb because it captures light in the near-infrared range.
  • Also, methane gas so strongly absorbs red and infrared light that the planet is very dark at those wavelengths unless high-altitude clouds are present.
  • The bright streaks and spots on the planet are such methane-ice clouds which reflect sunlight before it is absorbed by the methane gas.
  • A thin line of brightness can be seen circling the planet’s equator. This could be a signature of the global atmospheric circulation that powers the winds and storms on Neptune.
  • The atmosphere descends and gets warm at the equator, this causes the glows at infrared wavelengths.
  • Apart from the planet itself, Webb also captured seven of its 14 known moons.
  • The very bright point of light with diffraction spikes at the top left of the image is Neptune’s largest moon Triton.

Triton:

Triton has a surface covered in frozen condensed nitrogen and it reflects around 70 per cent of the sunlight that hits it. It far outshines Neptune in this image take in the near-infrared wavelength.

About Neptune:

  • Neptune is the eighth and most distant planet from the sun. This means that Uranus is its only neighbouring planet.
  • Neptune is dark, cold, and windy. It’s the last of planets in our solar system.
  • The composition of Neptune is similar to Uranus – ice and rock with about 15% hydrogen and a little helium. Its atmosphere is made up of hydrogen, helium, and methane.
  • Neptune’s blue colour is primarily due to the absorption of red light by methane in the atmosphere. Neptune winds are the fastest in the solar system reaching a speed of 2000 km/hr.
  • Neptune is located 30 times farther away from the Sun than our planet.
  • At that distance, the sun is so distant, small and faint that mid-noon on the icy planet is similar to a dim twilight on Earth.
  • Compared to Jupiter and Saturn, which are gas giants, the ice giant Neptune is much richer in elements that are heavier than hydrogen and helium.
  • Neptune appears blue in Hubble images captured at visible wavelengths, which is caused by the presence of gaseous methane.

 

Editorial

A census is not about counting sheep

Context:

The census in India has many dimensions to it, and not just confined to numbers. It provides the basis for numerous facets of society too.

Census as an Indicator:

  • Reliable Data: The reliability of the census exceeds any other sample surveys and which makes it difficult for the government to put it in the junk. Even before the term ‘Big Data’ became commonplace the census provided reliable data.
  • Census as a Treasure Trove: The exercise of census provides data about age, gender, economic status, religion, and languages spoken yields information of another order. These findings provide pathways for planning and resolving problems, and fixing deficiencies.
  • Revealing Facts and Busting Assertions: Stories like India heading for population explosion due to Muslim reproductive rates got busted only because of census data. The Census established that the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is coming down and the fall in TFR among Muslims is faster than in any community.
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ThinkQ

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QUIZ - 23rd September 2022

Mains Question:

Q1. Examine micro plastic’s impact on agroecosystem components and potential effects on the food chain. (150 words)

Question Mapping

  • Subject: Environment (GS-III)
    • Sub-topic: Environmental Pollution

 Approach 

  • Introduction- brief about micro plastics (sized < 5 µm) and its widespread presence 
  • List Microplastic factors
    • increasing anthropogenic activities, tiny sizes, ubiquity, sheer volume, and composite chemicals
  • Impact on food chain
    • alters plant's growth and developments
    • blocks organisms’ digestive/roots system
    • vectors of toxic compounds
    • disrupts the activities of microbial decomposers and nutrient cycles
    • reduce food yields
    • impact the food chain components negatively, food security, and human health
  • Required measures
    • alternative solutions for microplastic abatement (bio-based plastics and remedial biotechnologies)
    • need to promulgate laws that mitigate the plastic problem
  • Wrap up your answer with a way forward

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