Draft National Policy on Electronics (NPE)

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  • Draft NPE aims to promote domestic manufacturing in entire value-chain of ESDM sector for spur economic development in the country.
  • It also aims to double the target of mobile phone production from 500 million units in 2019 to 1 billion by 2025 to meet objective.
  • It replaces existing incentive schemes like Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS), with schemes that are easier to implement such as interest subsidy and credit default guarantee etc.
  • It also takes into consideration interest subsidy and credit default guarantee in order to encourage new units and in expansion of existing units in electronics manufacturing sector.
  • The set target of $400 billion turnover under it, includes targeted production of 1 billion mobile handsets by 2025, valued at $190 billion (approximately Rs. 13 lakh crore) and also 600 million mobile handsets valued at $110 billion (approximately Rs. 7 lakh crore) for export.

  • It also proposes to push development of core competencies in all sub-sectors of electronics including electronic components and semiconductors, automotive electronics, defence electronics, industrial electronics, strategic electronics etc.
  • It also proposes to set up 20 greenfield and three brownfield electronic manufacturing cluster projects have been sanctioned with project outlay of Rs 3,898 crore, including Rs 1,577 crore from Central Government.
  • It proposes suitable direct tax benefits, including inter-alia investment-linked deduction under Income Tax (IT) Act for electronics manufacturing sector, for setting up of new manufacturing unit or expansion of an existing unit.
  • The proposal includes increasing tax benefits on expenditure incurred on R&D, enhancing rate of duty drawback for electronics sector, reimbursement of state levies and other levies for which input tax credit is not available, allowing duty free import of second-hand capital goods for electronics hardware manufacturing etc.
  • It also proposes cess on select electronic goods resources to promote certain critical sub-sectors of electronic manufacturing such as semiconductor wafer fabrication and display fabrication units.

Technology in Administration : Examples

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  • #LooReview Campaign
    • Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs + Google
    • Under Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban
    • Allows all citizens to locate public toilets in their cities on Google Maps
    • Rating of Public toilets

 

  • Rail Heritage Digitisation Project
    • Union Railway Ministry + Google
    • Aims to showcase India’s rail heritage to the national and international audience in an online story-telling platform.

Tech Giants Data Localisation

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Context

  • Indian government has asked Global Tach giants to set up local data centres.
  • In a fear that it will inhibit their growth aspirations in India with raising cost, the U.S. technology giants plan to intensify lobbying efforts against stringent Indian data localisation requirements.
  • Amazon, American Express and Microsoft, have opposed India’s push to store data locally.

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Issue Area

  • Data localisation is not just a business concern, it potentially makes government surveillance easier, which is a worry.
  • It could lead to increased government demands for data access.
  • Technology firms worry the mandate would hurt their planned investments by raising costs related to setting up new local data centres.
  • The issue could further undermine already strained economic relations between India and the United States.

Manned space mission by 2022

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Context:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi as part of his 72nd Independence Day speech vowed to put Indian in space by 2022 under manned space mission on board ‘Gaganyaan’.
  • This announcement gives Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) definitive timeline for manned space mission it has been working on for the last 15 years.

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Developments till now:

  • The proposed human spaceflight programme (HSP) has been on table since 2004.
  • ISRO is still long way away, despite advancements in some critical technologies in past decade.
  • It is stilling building its capabilities and developing critical technologies required to send astronaut being into space.
  • The mission will be completed at budget of Rs 10,000 crore and some of technology components required for it already have been developed.
  • This includes heavy-lift launch vehicle (GLSV Mark-III), re-entry and recovery technology, crew module, Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) and astronaut training.
  • The required key technologies ISRO still has to develop for such mission are : ability to launch, recover and ensure earth-like conditions for astronauts. I

Note: If successful, India will become fourth nation in the world to send astronaut into space after US, Russia and China. Former Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Rakesh Sharma was first Indian to travel to space. He was part of the Soviet Union’s Soyuz T-11 expedition, launched on April 2, 1984, as part of the Intercosmos programme.

Key Features of Mission

  • The entire cost of Gaganyaan mission will be less than Rs 10,000 crore.
  • It will be totally indigenous, very cost-effective mission by Indian standards which is not viable from international standards.
  • Prior to actual launch of this manned mission by 2022, ISRO will launch  two unmanned Gaganyaan missions (first in 30 months’ time and then 36 months).
  • Launch Phase: 
    • GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle will be used to launch Gaganyaan as it has necessary payload capability for this mission.
    • The spacecraft will comprise of crew module and service module that constitute orbital.
    • It weighs approximately 7 tonnes and will be placed in low earth orbit (LEO) of 300-400 km. Crew module’s size will be 3.7 meters and of service module will be 7 meters.
  • Orbital Phase: 
    • The mission will send three-member crew to space for period of five to seven days.
    • The launch vehicle will take off from spaceport of Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh and it will reach desired orbit in 16 minutes.
    • The crew will be selected by Indian Air Force (IAF) and ISRO jointly after which they will undergo training for two-three years.
    • It will conduct microgravity experiment during the mission.
  • Re-entry phase:
    • The velocity of whole module will be reduced and will be turned in opposite direction so that it can start to come down.
    • When it will reach distance of 120 km from Earth’s surface, service module will be removed and separated out.
    • The module carrying crew alone will come back to earth, this will take about 36 minutes to reach Earth.
    • ISRO is planning to land crew module in Arabian Sea, closer to Gujarat coast or in Bay of Bengal or even on land from where the crew will be recovered
  • Execution time: 
    • The mission may be executed six months before India completes its 75th Independence Day in 2022. It is expected to be completed before 2022.

Questions:

  • Does India need it now?

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Solar Probes

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Why do we study the sun and the solar wind?
  • The corona gives rise to the solar wind, a continuous flow of charged particles that permeates the solar system. 
  • Unpredictable solar winds cause disturbances in our planet’s magnetic field and can play havoc with communications technology on the earth.
  • Findings of study will enable scientists to forecast changes in the earth’s space environment.
  • In the most extreme cases of these space weather events, it can actually affect our power grids on the earth
  • The sun is a source of light and heat for life on Earth. The more we know about it, the more we can understand how life on Earth developed
 
Parker Solar Probe:
  • NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will study sun’s outer atmosphere and to understand how sun works.
  • It is set to fly into the sun’s corona within 3.8 million miles from the solar surface, seven times closer than any other spacecraft.
  • The previous closest pass to the sun was by a probe called Helios 2, which in 1976 came within 43 million km.
  • The distance of the earth from the sun is approximately 149.6 million km.

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Rumor Mongering

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Context:
  • WhatsApp, in India, has decided to put a cap on the number of chats one can forward a message to in one go. Users will be allowed to forward messages to only five chats at once as against 20 for the rest of the world.

 

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Facts:
  • WhatsApp noted that its users in India “forward more messages, photos, and videos, than any other country in the world”.
 
Govt Role in stoppings rumours:
  • The primary responsibility to fix this lies with law enforcement agencies. A mob takes the law into its hands if it believes that either law enforcement agencies are incapable/unwilling to help or that its crimes will go unpunished.
  • Law enforcement agencies shut down the Internet to prevent the forwarding of messages and possible riots. In 2017, according to data from the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), India had 70 Internet shutdowns.
  • An Internet shutdown is a suspension of the constitutional right to free speech; a disproportionate act of censorship of all speech in response to the actions of a few.
  • The data suggest that there are no shutdowns in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, while smaller towns bear the brunt of such actions. The lack of capacity of law enforcement agencies in smaller towns to deal with these situations is a worrying sign, especially in the run-up to elections
  • State governments need to build law enforcement capacity and ensure prosecution in case of mob violence. A new law covering lynchings will be ineffective if our criminal justice system is incapable of enforcing the law.
 
Good Idea: What WhatsApp should do?
  • Messages between individuals should remain private and not be those that can be forwarded.
  • However, if a message creator wants to enable the forward ability of that message, the chat should be treated as public, and attributed with a unique ID linked to the original creator. This will allow WhatsApp to shut down such a message across its network once it is reported and identify the creator when a court-directed request is made by law enforcement agencies.
  • It’s important to remember that incorrect or false information is not illegal and people could be mistaken. It is messages with incitement of violence that need to be addressed.
 
So, the government, law enforcement agencies, and WhatsApp, need to come together mob violence and lynching.
 

Scientific Research Infrastructure for Maintenance and Networks (SRIMAN)

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Context:
  • In recent years India has seen a growth in acquisition of research equipment (mostly imported). However, access to equipment’s needs attention.
  • It is common to find in Indian laboratories, expensive equipment’s lying idle or underutilized.
  • According to a recent study by NSTMIS, DST (2013), 94% of the research equipment used in India are imported while only 6% are being manufactured indigenously.
  • Further, the study showed that large number of equipment’s are not shared and are marred with issues related to maintenance and want of spares.
  • This adds to the burden of research infrastructure costs.
  • A suitable ecosystem for sharing of scientific equipment is a solution to this problem. A culture of collaboration/sharing between institutions helps in optimum utilization of equipment resulting in better maintenance of the equipment.
So, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has come up with this policy document.
 
Features of Policy
  • Procurement and maintenance of equipment and infrastructure for research
  • Providing access and sharing of scientific equipment and infrastructure
  • Disposal of scientific equipment and infrastructure
  • Capacity Building of operators and technicians for efficient operations
  • Monitoring of usage of expensive scientific research infrastructure
  • Infrastructure Management for efficient operations
  • It plans to hire out to researchers all lab equipment that cost more than ₹10 lakh.
 
How does it work?
  • It envisages institutions declaring on a website how often their instruments would be available for use by those outside the department or university.
  • Those who would like to use, for example, a DNA-sequencing machine, would have to pay a fee and specify the purpose and time they would want it for.
 
Advantages
  • The Govt would now rent instruments in government labs generating a steady rental income
  • This would reduce the amount of time such expensive instruments remain idle.
  • The policy also aims through its proper implementation to increase scientific output by wider access and reduce brain drain by providing access to wide section of researchers.

 

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Regulating Online Media

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Context:

  • The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has constituted 10-member committee to regulate online portals, including news websites, entertainment sites and media aggregators.
  • SC direction to government to get tough with social media platforms like FB, Youtube etc.

 

Committee:

  • The committee will look to bring online information dissemination under regulation.
  • It will propose policy for foreign direct investment (FDI) in this media.
  • It will to look at international best practices on such existing regulatory mechanism. 
  • It will cover print and electronic media as well as entertainment sites.

 

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Current Regulatory Mechanism:

  • At present both print and electronic media are regulated but online media (print and electronic media as well as entertainment sites) does not come under any regulatory mechanism.
  • The content telecast on television channels are regulated in terms of programme and advertisement codes under Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994.
  • Similarly, autonomous body Press Council of India (PCI) regulates the print media.
  • The social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter which are widely used for online information dissemination comes under purview of Department of Telecom, Ministry of Communications and IT and don’t fall in domain of I&B ministry, which looks at news, entertainment, infotainment, films and music.
  • Brainstorming over regulation of online news content had started because Government has felt that large numbers of people were depending on online media for news and that there should be some mechanism to check spread of misinformation (fake news) on the internet.

 

SC View:

  • Internet giants are not taking adequate steps to curb circulation of online videos of sexual violence against women and children.
  • Currently content removal requests are processed in about 36 hours. It should be brought down to less than 10 hours.

 

Whatsapp issue:

  • The Indian government and WhatsApp is at loggerheads over tracing the origin of fake messages.
  • The messaging platform has said it will not comply with the government’s demand as the move will undermine the privacy of WhatsApp users.
  • Arguments given by Whatsapp
    • People rely on WhatsApp for all kinds of sensitive conversations, including with their doctors, banks and families.
    • Building traceability would undermine end-to-end encryption and the private nature of WhatsApp, creating potential for serious misuse. WhatsApp will not weaken the privacy protections.
  • What the Government expects?
    • Given the increased instances of crime due to fake news circulated on various platforms, including WhatsApp, the government expects the company to continue to explore technical innovations whereby, in case of large-scale circulation of provocative and nefarious messages leading to violence and crime, the origin can be ascertained.
    • WhatsApp needs to set up an Indian corporate entity subject to Indian laws in a defined time frame.

 

 

5G

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  • 5G is wireless communication technology based on third-generation partnership project (3GPP).
  • It is next generation mobile networks technology after 4G LTE networks.
  • It is expected to offer enhanced mobile broadband.
  • The 5G technology will offer far greater upload and download speed available at present.
  • High data speed offered by 5G network will help cloud systems to stream software updates, music, and navigation data to driverless cars.
  • Moreover, it holds the key to growth of artificial intelligence (AI) systems and enhance IoT.
  • As per the OECD Committee on Digital Economic Policy, 5G technologies rollout will help in increasing GDP, creating employment and digitizing the economy.
  • Why in news? 5G technology was tested by Airtel and Huawei in Gurugram

Parker Solar Probe

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  • It is NASA’s mission to explore Sun’s outer atmosphere.
  • Aims:
    • To trace how energy and heat move through solar corona.
    • To explore what accelerates solar wind as well as solar energetic particles.
    • Determine structure and dynamics of magnetic fields at sources of solar wind.
    • Explore dusty plasma near Sun and its influence on solar wind and energetic particle formation.
  • It is a robotic spacecraft.
  • It is named after solar astrophysicist Eugene Parker, first spacecraft of NASA to be named after living person.
  • Launched in 2018.
  • In its seven-year mission, PSP will explore Sun’s outer atmosphere and make critical observations to answer questions about physics of stars.
  • Its data will also be useful in improving forecasts of major eruptions on Sun and subsequent space weather events that impact technology on Earth, as well as satellites and astronauts in space.