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Daily Current affairs 27 NOVEMBER 2018

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

[op-ed snap] The potential that quantum internet holds



Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Quantum computing and internet

Mains level: Potential uses of quantum internet and how it is better than traditional internet


Present computing theory

  1. All of today’s computing takes its root from the world of “bits”, where a transistor bit, which lies at the heart of any computing chip, can only be in one of two electrical states: on or off
  2. When on, the bit takes on a value of “1” and when off, it takes on a value of “0”, constraining the bit to only one of two (binary) values
  3. All tasks performed by a computer-like device, whether a simple calculator or a sophisticated computer, are constrained by this binary rule
  4. Eight bits make up what is called a “byte”
  5. Today, our computing is based on increasing the number of bytes into kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes and so on
  6. All computing advances we have had thus far, including artificially intelligent programmes, and driverless cars are ultimately reduced to the binary world of the bit

Advent of quantum computing

  1. Classical internet is constrained by a binary thought process
  2. With quantum computing, information is held in “qubits” that can exist in two states at the same time
  3. A qubit can store a “0” and “1” simultaneously
  4. If you build two qubits, they can hold four values at once—11, 10, 01, and 00
  5. Adding on more qubits can greatly increase the computing capability of such a machine

Towards quantum internet

  1. The logical extension of quantum computing is a quantum internet, where computers don’t just compute in isolation, they also communicate with one another
  2. Scientists are now working on how a quantum internet might work
  3. To accomplish this, they are beginning by providing a vision of fundamentally new technology protocols to enable network communications between any two quantum computing machines on Earth
  4. They say that such a quantum internet will—in synergy with the “classical” internet that we have today—connect quantum computers in order to achieve unparalleled capabilities that are impossible today
  5. Several major applications for the quantum internet have already been identified, including secure communication, secure identification, achieving efficient agreement on distributed data, as well as secure access to remote quantum computers in the cloud

Advantages of the quantum internet

  1. The ability of a quantum internet to transmit “qubits” that are fundamentally different than classical “1” and “0” bits is what is paramount
  2. Qubits also cannot be copied, and any attempt to do so can be detected
  3. This makes qubits well suited for security applications

Way forward

  1. The transmission of qubits require radical new concepts and technology, requiring concerted efforts in physics, computer science, and engineering to succeed
  2. Although it is hard to predict what the exact components of a future quantum internet will be, it is likely that we will see the birth of the first multi-node quantum networks in the next few years

Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

[op-ed snap] Preventing another scuffle



Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Various Security forces & agencies & their mandate

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Strained civil-military relationship in recent times and need of maintaining good relations between the two


Tensions between civil & military officers

  1. In a disturbing incident in Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh recently, two soldiers of the Indian Army were arrested by the local police and reportedly beaten up for alleged incorrect behaviour during a festival, which was then followed by alleged retaliatory high-handedness by their Army compatriots
  2. This is an apt example of the leadership on both sides not using their superior skills to prevent the unsavoury happenings and living up to the requirement of statecraft
  3. The term ‘statecraft’ is important because the leadership at every level of the government is a vital cog in maintaining a harmonious relationship with other arms, all the while respecting the other’s domain specialisation

Not the first instance

  1. The Bomdila incident is not the first instance of the civil administration and the military having locked horns
  2. It is just that earlier incidents did not get publicity in the absence of fast communication
  3. Though the issues were “resolved”, tensions have continued to simmer
  4. Social media and near instantaneous communications now amplify the damage

Link between civil & military personnel

  1. There is a delicate thread that links the uniformed and non-uniformed sections
  2. Pride in one’s job should not translate to contempt for another’s job
  3. The civil administration has challenges that no uniformed person ever faces, such as the pressures from social strife, economic hardships, and law and order
  4. The uniformed services, on the other hand, see themselves as protectors of the nation even at the cost of their own lives
  5. So, just as a uniformed force must acknowledge the expertise of the civil administration, so too should the latter respect and ensure that a soldier does feel a bit special

Role of leadership in the military

  1. A commander’s order is sacrosanct and a soldier on the front line follows it unflinchingly despite knowing that he could lose his life the next moment
  2. It is this implicit faith that permeates the psyche of a uniformed person based on the belief that his commander is supreme and will always look after his interests as well as those of his family
  3. This is how the military works, by laying emphasis on the point that military effectiveness requires a military culture that is different from that of a civilian’s
  4. This is the heart of the ‘chip on the shoulder’ feeling that drives a soldier to sacrifice his life at his superior’s command

Important issues in the civil-military relationship

At the heart of civil-military relations are two questions

  1. First, who controls the military and how? Is there civilian control or has it degenerated into civilian bureaucratic control?
  2. Second, what degree of military influence is appropriate for a given society?
  • While direct intervention in domestic affairs is a big no, on the other extreme is the utilisation of the armed forces in happenings that should logically come under the civilian domain
  • The Army is being called in to construct railway foot overbridges in Mumbai and even clear up litter left behind by tourists in the hills of north India. There are pitfalls when lionising translates to deification

Way forward

  1. Deification of the military could lead to resentment among certain sections of society
  2. Using the armed forces very often as a bulwark to sort out civil issues is detrimental to military philosophy
  3. So also is the absence of oversight to prevent civilian bureaucratic control and delays in resolving the problems service personnel face
  4. An unequal civil-military dialogue, wherein a soldier begins to doubt his ‘uniqueness’ (not deification) in society does not bode well for good civil-military relations
  5. Civil-military relations is an art that requires delicate nursing through statesmanship. Good leadership from both sides is the key to preventing new Bomdilas

Indian Army Updates

[op-ed snap] Legacies crucial for the commons



Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: UPSC has been asking comparison questions between famous personalities on a continuous basis. The editorial is very important in that context


Anniversaries of Gandhi & Marx

  1. The 150th birth anniversary year of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and the 200th birth anniversary of Karl Marx went by this year
  2. Such anniversaries can become occasions of tokenism — for instance, the Indian government has set up a committee with more than 100 members to coordinate celebrations of Gandhi’s anniversary
  3. Any meaningful homage to Gandhi would call into question the very fundamentals of today’s political and economic power, and point a sharply critical gaze at the rampant abuse of religion and nationalism and so too perhaps for Marx

Legacy of these stalwarts continues

  1. The celebrations are being led by so-called revolutionary governments in those parts of the world where Leftist parties still hold power
  2. This does not mean that these two figures are of no relevance now. On the contrary, they are even more so than before
  3. Their legacy is crucial for the majority of the world’s population, marginalised by capitalism, statism, patriarchy and other structures of oppression
  4. As it is for the rest of nature, so badly abused by humanity

Resistance and construction

  1. There are many movements of sangharsh (resistance) and nirman (construction) throughout the world
  2. These movements realise that the injustices they are facing, and the choices they must make, are not bound by the divides that ideologues play games with
  • Resistance movements
  1. At any given time in India, there are dozens of sites where Adivasis, farmers, fisherpersons, pastoralists and others are refusing to part with their land or forest or water to make way for so-called development projects
  2. News that is both inspiring and depressing keeps coming from Latin America, of indigenous people standing up for their territorial rights against mining and oil extraction, and all too frequently paying the price when state or corporate forces kill their leaders
  3. There have been movements for land and forest rights, communal harmony, workers’ security and other causes in India that are not so easy to place in any ideological camp
  • Construction of alternatives
  1. Across the world, there are incredible examples of sustainable and holistic agriculture, community-led water/energy/food sovereignty, worker takeover of production facilities, resource/knowledge commons, local governance, community health and alternative learning, inter-community peace-building, the reassertion of cultural diversity, gender and sexual pluralism, and much else

Common features of these movements

  1. There is the exploration of autonomy, self-reliance, people’s governance of politics and the economy, freedom with responsibility for the freedom of others, and respect for the rest of nature
  2. While these movements do often call for policy interventions from a more accountable state, there is also an underlying antipathy to the centralised state, as there is in both Gandhian swaraj and in Marxist communism and in many versions of anarchy
  3. Private property is also challenged
  4. While Gandhi was weak on challenging capital, and Marx on stressing the fundamental spiritual or ethical connections amongst humans, these movements often tend to bridge these gaps
  5. Many of them integrate the need to re-establish ecological resilience and wisdom, some even arguing for extending equal respect to other species
  6. They also encompass Marx’s vision of a society that bridges humanity’s ‘metabolic rift’ with nature, and Gandhi’s repeated emphasis on living lightly on the earth
  7. With this they also challenge the very fundamentals of ‘development’, especially its mad fixation on economic growth, reliance on ever-increasing production and consumption, and its utter disregard for inequality

Way forward

  1. There are points of tension between Gandhi & Marx, for instance, on the issue of non-violence as a principle
  2. There are points of ambiguity in recognising that indigenous peoples have already lived many elements of their dreams
  3. But there is critical common ground amongst them if our ultimate goals are well-being, justice, and equity, based on ecological wisdom
  4. We would do well to honour their legacy by identifying such common ground and building on the struggles and creativity of ‘ordinary’ people in communities across the world

History- Important places, persons in news

[pib] Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP)



Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IHIP

Mains level: Need for electronic health information system.


  • The Union Health Ministry did soft-launch of the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) segment of Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP) in seven states today.

Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP)

  1. IHIP is real time, village-wise, case based electronic health information system with GIS tagging which will help in prompt prevention and control of epidemic prone diseases.
  2. The initiative will provide near-real-time data to policy makers for detecting outbreaks, reducing the morbidity and mortality and lessening disease burden in the populations and better health systems.
  3. The primary objective of IHIP is to enable the creation of standards compliant Electronic Health Records (EHRs) of the citizens on a pan-India basis.
  4. The EHRs aims to build a comprehensive Health Information Exchange (HIE) as part of this centralized accessible platform.
  5. The success of this platform will depend primarily on the quality of data shared by the states.
  6. For effective implementation of the platform, 32,000 people at the block level, 13,000 at the district level and 900 at the state level have been trained.

Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

[pib] PAISA Portal for Affordable Credit & Interest Subvention Access launched under DAY-NULM




Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Urbanization – problems and remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: PAISA Portal, Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana

Mains level: Read the attached story


PAISA Portal

  1. PAiSA stands for  Portal for Affordable Credit and Interest Subvention Access
  2. Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs
  3. It is a centralized electronic platform for processing interest subvention on bank loans to beneficiaries under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM).
  4. The web platform has been designed and developed by Allahabad Bank which is the Nodal bank.
  5. PAiSA is an effort by the government to connect directly with the beneficiaries, ensuring that there is greater transparency and efficiency in delivery of services.
  6. DBT of subvention on monthly basis under DAY-NULM will give the necessary financial support to small entrepreneurs in a timely manner.
  7. All 35 states / UTs & all scheduled commercial banks, RRBs and Cooperative Banks are expected to be on board the PAiSA portal the year end.


Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana


NASA’s InSight spacecraft lands on red planet after six-month journey



Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the mission

Mains level: Importance of the mission


Landing on the Red Planet

  1. InSight, a NASA spacecraft designed to burrow beneath the surface of Mars landed on the red after a six-month, 482 million-km journey and a perilous, six-minute descent through the rose-hued atmosphere.
  2. It was NASA’s ninth attempt to land at Mars since the 1976 Viking probes. All but one of the previous U.S. touchdowns was successful.
  3. NASA last landed on Mars in 2012 with the Curiosity rover.
  4. The plan called for the spacecraft to go from 12,300 mph (19,800 kph) to zero in six minutes flat as it pierced the Martian atmosphere and settled on the surface.

Landing: A difficult Job

  1. Landing on Mars is one of the hardest single jobs that people have to do in planetary exploration.
  2. Mars has been the graveyard for a multitude of space missions.
  3. Up to now, the success rate at the Mars has been only 40 percent, counting every attempted flyby, orbital flight and landing by the U.S., Russia and other countries since 1960.

Missions on board with InSight

  1. InSight was shooting for Elysium Planitia, a plain near the Martian equator that the InSight team hopes is as flat.
  2. This is no rock-collecting expedition.
  3. Instead, the stationary 800-pound (360-kilogram) lander will use its 6-foot (1.8-metre) robotic arm to place a mechanical mole and seismometer on the ground.
  4. The self-hammering mole will burrow 16 feet (5 metres) down to measure the planet’s internal heat, while the seismometer listens for possible quakes.
  5. No lander has dug deeper than several inches, and no seismometer has ever worked on Mars.

Expected Outcomes

  1. By examining the interior of Mars, scientists hope to understand how our solar system’s rocky planets formed 4.5 billion years ago.
  2. It would try to justify that why they turned out so different i.e.Mars cold and dry, Venus and Mercury burning hot, and Earth hospitable to life.
  3. InSight has no life-detecting capability, however.
  4. NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will collect rocks that will eventually be brought back to Earth and analysed for evidence of ancient life.

SSB to patrol Dudhwa Tiger Reserve




Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Details of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve

Mains level: Preventing trans-boundary environmental crime


Intelligence and information Sharing  

  1. Dudhwa Tiger Reserve and Sashastra Seema Bal have joined hands to provide security to Dudhwa forests and its rich wildlife.
  2. A consensus was reached among all security agencies including SSB on the border and the Dudhwa field staff to strengthen the patrolling in and around Dudhwa to check forest and wildlife crimes.
  3. It is aimed for intelligence and information sharing among various security agencies about activities of wildlife and forest criminals.

About Dudhwa Tiger Reserve

  1. The Dudhwa Tiger Reserve is a protected area in Uttar Pradesh that stretches mainly across the Lakhimpur Kheri and Bahraich districts.
  2. It comprises the Dudhwa National Park, Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary.
  3. It covers an area of 1,284.3 and includes three large forest fragments amidst the matrix dominated by agriculture.
  4. It shares the north-eastern boundary with Nepal, which is defined to a large extent by the Mohana River.
  5. The area is a vast alluvial floodplain traversed by numerous rivers and streams flowing in south-easterly direction.
  6. In 1987, the Dudhwa National Park and the Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary were brought under the purview of the ‘Project Tiger’ as Dudhwa Tiger Reserve.

Tiger Conservation Efforts – Project Tiger, etc.

Andaman & Nicobar Islands: home to a tenth of India’s fauna species



Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Bio-geographic zones of India


ZSI account of A&N fauna

  1. A recent publication by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) titled Faunal Diversity of Biogeographic Zones: Islands of India has come up with a database of all faunal species found on the island, putting the number at 11,009.
  2. The ZSI document proves that the islands, comprising only 0.25% of India’s geographical area, are home to more than 10% of the country’s fauna species.
  3. The presence of a large number of species in such a small area makes the Andaman and Nicobar Islands one of the richest ecosystems and biodiversity hot spots in India.

Endemic Species of A&N

  1. There are 1,067 endemic faunal species found only on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and nowhere else.
  2. Key species of them include:
  • Narcondam Hornbill
  • Nicobar Megapode, a bird that builds nests on the ground
  • Nicobar Treeshrew, a small mole-like mammal
  • Long-tailed Nicobar macaque
  • Andaman day gecko

Features of the Islands

  1. The total area of the A&N Islands, which comprises of 572 islands, islets and rocky outcrops, is about 8,249 sq. km.
  2. The population of the islands, which includes six particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs) — Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa, Sentinelese, Nicobarese and Shompens — is not more than 4 lakh.

Threatened Species

  1. Of the ten species of marine fauna found on the islands, the dugong/sea cow, and the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, are both classified as Vulnerable under the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.
  2. Among the 46 terrestrial mammalian species found, three species have been categorised as Critically Endangered — Andaman shrew (Crocidura andamanensis), Jenkin’s shrew (jenkinsi) and Nicobar shrew (C. nicobarica).
  3. Five species are listed as Endangered, nine species as Vulnerable, and one species as Near Threatened, according to the IUCN.
  4. Among birds, endemism is quite high, with 36 among 344 species of birds found only on the islands. Many of these bird species are placed in the IUCN Red List of threatened species under the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA).

Marine diversity

  1. Another unique feature of the islands’ ecosystem is its marine faunal diversity, which includes coral reefs and its associated fauna.
  2. In all, 555 species of scleractinian corals (hard or stony corals) are found in the island ecosystem, all which are placed under Schedule I of the WPA.
  3. Similarly, all species of gorgonian (sea fans) and calcerous sponge are listed under different schedules of the WPA.

Tourism Sector

  1. The number of tourists visiting the islands has crossed the number of people residing in them, with latest data showing 4.87 lakh tourists visiting the islands annually.
  2. In a recent development, the Government of India relaxed the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) norms for some foreign nationalities notified under the Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1963, to visit 29 of its inhabited islands, till December 31, 2022.

Note of caution

  1. The publication cautions that tourism, illegal construction and mining are posing a threat to the islands’ biodiversity, which is already vulnerable to volatile climatic factors.
  2. Some of the species in A&N Islands are restricted to a very small area and thus more vulnerable to any anthropogenic threat.
  3. Development paradigm that we are pushing for this place at the macro level, such as tourism, construction and development of military, are not taking in account three factors:
  • Ecological fragility of the area (the endemism),
  • Geological volatility (earthquakes and tsunamis), and
  • Impact they will have on local communities