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The Hindu 13 August 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair







Rooting A.I. in ethics



Wildlife sanctuary set to expand boundaries



A maiden 1500 km journey for wild buffaloes  



No toxic chemicals in PET bottles



Ending J&K’s special status an internal matter, China told




1. Rooting AI in ethics (The Hindu, Page 11)


Mains: G.S. IV in Ethics


Ethics in Artifical Intelligence


  • Context

The NITI Aayog has come out with the "National Strategy on Artificial Intelligence" which aims to guide research and development in new and emerging technologies. NITI Aayog has identified five sectors — healthcare, agriculture, education, smart cities and infrastructure and transportation — to focus its efforts towards implementation of AI.

In this regard, this article highlights that we need to be careful about the ethical implications of AI. The AI must be rooted on an egalitarian ethical basis wherein the technology should be evaluated both on the basis of its utility as well as intention.

  • What is Ethics?

Ethics is a set of standards that society places on itself and which help guide behaviour, choices and actions. Ethics refer to the rules for deciding correct conduct. They are well founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to the society.

  • Determinants of Ethics

ACTION: It can be evaluated as right or wrong. e.g Telling the truth is evaluated as right act whereas lying as a wrong act. Theories that emphasise on principles of actions are called deontological according to which principles of actions have inherent value (end in themselves). The most famous exponent is Kant.

CONSEQUENCE: Ethical theories that take consequence into considerations to determine the rightness or wrongness of an act are called teleological. The most famous exponents are J.S Mill and Jeremy Benthem.


Ethical Flaws in the Artificial Intelligence

  • Limited perspective

The article highlights that most of the time the AI is based on Teleological perspective rather than on deontological perspective and hence does not take into account the interest and concerns of the minorities.

For example, the facial recognition system of Google in USA was given a go-ahead inspite of the fact that it could not recognise the faces of minority African Americans.

Such an approval was given based on the teleological perspective since the AI was able to recognise the faces of the dominant Caucasian Americans and hence was able to bring about "Greatest benefit for the greatest number". (Teleological perspective).

Had this AI evaluated on the basis of deontological perspective, it would not have got green signal since the intention of the AI was to recognize people from all the races and not necessarily the dominant races.

Limited data to train AI

In the field of law-enforcement, the success of the AI depends on its ability to harness huge amount of data to predict the results correctly. This requires that the data fed to the AI is completed, unbiased and non-partisan. 

For instance, a person can end up being labelled as threat to public safety if limited data based upon skin colour is used to train AI to identify criminals.


Sanctity of the data to train AI

  • As stated before the data fed to the AI should be unbiased and non-partisan and free from personal prejudices. However, the article highlights that the data used to train AI may get compromised because of the flawed mental models of the human beings.

  • Way Forward

The AI can become successful only if its ethical basis rests on both teleological as well as deontological perspective. This becomes quite critical since NITI Aayog has planned to invest around Rs 75,000 crores in building capability and infrastructure for AI. The Institutional framework should have a multidisciplinary framework and multi stakeholder approach and more importantly have an explicit focus on the ethical basis.




2. Wildlife sanctuary to expand boundaries (The Hindu, Page 08)


Prelims: Geography & Environment

Mains: G.S. I in Geography and G.S. III in Environment


Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary


What is the news?

  • The Forest Department has identified 308.84 hectares of revenue land for inclusion in the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS). 

  • This was recommended by the National Board for Wildlife as compensation for other land which was diverted to set up a Missile Test Launch Facility by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Nagayalanka mandal in Krishna District. 

  • Of the total 154.42 hectares of forest land to be diverted to the DRDO, 45 acres falls in the heart of the sanctuary. 

  • The area, compensating the forest land to be diverted for the DRDO, has been identified adjacent to the KWS to ensure the maintenance of ecological balance and mangrove cover.     


Use of the forest land by DRDO

  • The DRDO proposes to utilise the 45-acre forest land in the sanctuary for the road facility that connects to the test and technical facility of the project, almost dividing it into two parts.    


About Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS)

  • KWS was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1989 and is spread across 194 hectares in Krishna and Guntur districts in Andhra Pradesh. 

  • It is in Andhra Pradesh, which is at a distance of 80 km from Vijaywada and is nestled on the estuary of River Krishna and hence acquired its name from the river.        

  • The sanctuary is a part of the mangrove wetland in Andhra Pradesh and are located in the coastal plain of Krishna delta.   

  • KWS includes Sorlagondi Reserve Forest, Nachugunta Reserve Forest, Yelichetladibba Reserve Forest, Kottapalem Reserve Forest, Molagunta Reserve Forest, Adavuladivi Reserve Forest and Lankivanidibba Reserve Forest. They occupy the islands of the delta and the adjacent mainlands of Krishna and Guntur Districts.  


About Estuaries

  • An estuary is a partially enclosed body of water formed where fresh water from land meets and mixes with salt water from the ocean. 

  • Estuaries and their surrounding wetlands are bodies of water usually found where rivers meet the sea. Estuaries are home to unique plant and animal communities that have adapted to brackish water—a mixture of fresh water draining from the land and salty seawater.

  • Estuaries are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. Many animals rely on estuaries for food, places to breed, and migration stopovers.  

  • In addition to providing economic, cultural and ecological benefits to communities, estuaries deliver invaluable ecosystem services. Ecosystem Services are fundamental life-support processes upon which all organisms depend. Two ecosystem services that estuaries provide are water filtration and habitat protection.

  • Reason for estuaries productivity is that the water filtering through them brings in nutrients from the surrounding watershed. A watershed, or drainage basin, is the entire land area that drains into a particular body of water, like a lake, river or estuary.    

  • Estuaries are some of the most fertile ecosystems on Earth as it brings important nutrients along with the water flow. 

  • Estuaries and their surrounding wetlands are also buffer zones. They stabilize shorelines and protect coastal areas, inland habitats and human communities from floods and storm surges from hurricanes. 



3. A maiden 1500 km journey for wild buffaloes  (The Hindu, Page 05)


Prelims: Geography & Environment

Mains: G.S. I in Geography and G.S. III in Environment


Wild Buffaloes


What is the news?

  • Five female wild buffaloes will be trans-located from Assam (most likely from Manas National Park) to Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary in Raipur district in Chattisgarh.       


Why is trans-location necessary?   

  • The trans-location is done to help revive the decreasing population of wild buffaloes and expand its territory across States. It is Chhattisgarh’s State animal. 

  • The survival hazard of inbreeding, continuing lineage and increasing male population have necessitated the translocation. 

  • In the Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary, only nine wild buffaloes including three females are left. 

  • Thus, the habitat of wild buffaloes in Central India depends on 

  • Hassle free translocation, 

  • successful breeding and 

  • subsequent restocking of other habitats in the region 

  • On issues of adapting to a new area in Central India for the wild buffaloes, Central Government sent genetic samples to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.     

  • The scientists are also considering viability to trans-locate more wild-buffaloes to other sanctuaries to increase their population in Central India. 

  • Wild Buffaloes of Central India often travel from location to other. As per the scientists, 20-25 buffaloes of Indravati National Park in Bijapur, Chhattisgarh, also frequently travel to neighbouring Kolamarka Conservation Reserve in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. 

  • Thus, the scientists are also considering to release the progenies of wild buffaloes in other areas in future. 


About Wild Buffaloes (Bubalus arnee)

  • The population of wild buffaloes in North east accounts for roughly 92% of its world population. 

  • Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 – Schedule I 

  • IUCN Red List – Endangered   

  • Mentioned in CITES    




4. No toxic chemicals in PET bottles (The Hindu, Page 09)


Prelims: Science & Environment

Mains: G.S. III in Technology & Environment


PET Bottles


Context: Evaluation by the CSIR-Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore has declared that (Polyethylene Terephthalate) PET bottles are safe for human use.

The debate - There has been a debate internationally on whether PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottles, which are mainly used for making plastic bottles and disposable food containers can leach harmful chemicals when exposed to high temperatures.   

About PET - Polyethylene Terephthalate  

  • PET, which stands for polyethylene terephthalate, is a form of polyester (just like the clothing fabric). It is extruded or molded into plastic bottles and containers for packaging foods and beverages, personal care products, and many other consumer products. 

  • PET is a polymer of ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. Pellets of PET resin are heated to a molten liquid, which can be easily extruded or molded into almost any shape. 

The Analysis      

  • The researchers collected four different kinds of PET containers and exposed them to different stimuli such as ethanol of varying concentrations, acetic acid and vegetable oil. 

  • The scientist tested these bottles when they were subject to 40 and 60 degree Celsius temperature as well as when test-chemicals were stored in them for 10 days. 

  • Along with metals, the scientists also measured Terephthalic Acid, Isophthalic Acid, Ethylene Glycol, BPA (bis-phenol A) and phthalates. 

  • CSIR concluded that antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, mercury, selenium and zinc “were below” their detection limits (BDL) of 0.001 mg/kg. Bisphenol-A was below its detection limit of 0.02 mg/kg. 

  • BPA is a synthetic organic compound and used in the manufacture of PET bottles but is now phased out after research found a link between the presence of BPA and the disruption of hormone regulation, as well as breast cancer. 

  • As mentioned, BPA was also below the EU regulation norms of the “specific migration limit”.   


CSIR−Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore 

  • It is a constituent laboratory of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi and came into existence during 1950 to research in areas of food science and technology. 

  • It functions under the Ministry of Science and Technology. 

  • Research focus of CSIR-CFTRI has been revolved around broadly into the following areas:

  • Engineering Sciences

  • Technology Development

  • Translational Research

  • Food Protection and Safety




5. Ending J&K’s special status an internal matter, China told (The Hindu, Page 13)


Prelims: International Relations

Mains: G.S. II in International Relations & G.S. III in Security


Ladakh & China


Editorial Context:

  • India recently took a decision to form ladakh into a Union Territory.  China opposed the measure and said that India had “continued to damage China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally modifying the form of domestic law.”

  • India in response has clarified that administrative changes in Ladakh would have no implications for India’s external boundaries or the Line of Actual Control with China. Moreover, regarding the boundary dispute, India said that a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement will be reached based on the 2005 Political Parameters and Guiding Principles agreement between India and China. 

  • In addition, India strongly asserted that whatever decision it takes with regards to J&K, it is an internal matter of India.


Ladakh Border Dispute:

  • The boundary dispute in the Western Sector in-particular to Aksai Chin pertains to the Johnson Line proposed by the British in the 1860s that extended up to the Kunlun Mountains and put Aksai Chin in the then princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. Independent India used the Johnson Line and claimed Aksai Chin as its own. 

  • China after its invasion of Tibet, stated that it had never accepted the Johnson Line and therefore claimed Aksai Chin. Aksai Chin was strategically important to China and began building a new road through Aksai Chin which connected its Xianjing province with Tibet. When India saw the road during the late 1950's, it opposed Chinese road and extent into Aksai Chin. In 1962, China attacked India and militarily occupied the Aksai Chin region.