GS Paper II
Context: The Ministry of Defence’s Signal Intelligence Directorate has been buying technology from Cognyte, a spyware manufacturer frequently promoted as a Pegasus substitute. The company in question is Cognyte Software Ltd, and investors have filed a class action lawsuit against it in the United States.
Without their knowledge, Cognyte routinely targeted journalists, dissidents, opponents of authoritarian regimes, opposition families, and human rights activists around the globe and gathered intelligence on them by coercing them into disclosing information and/or by hacking into their devices and accounts.
Pegasus malware allegedly used to eavesdrop on Indian politicians, journalists, and activists in the past. After the Pegasus Project revelations that exposed the danger to India’s democracy, a year has passed.
- The methods used to safeguard computers, networks, programmes, and data from unwanted access or assaults intended for exploitation are known as cybersecurity or information technology security.
- Making cyberspace secure from dangers, namely cyberthreats, is the goal of cyber security.
- Cyberwarfare: The use of computer viruses or denial-of-service assaults by a nation-state or other international group to attack and attempt to harm the computers or information networks of another country.
Need for Robust Cybersecurity:
- Because cyberspace has no physical borders, a country’s cyberspace is a component of the global cyberspace and cannot be isolated to establish its borders. Cyberspace can and is expanding, in contrast to the physical world, which is constrained by geographic bounds in space—land, sea, river waters, and air. As cyberspace’s size is proportionate to the activities conducted via it, increased Internet usage is causing it to expand.
- India is well-positioned to take the lead in data, technology, digitalization, and inclusiveness on a global scale. With flagship programmes like Startup India, Digital India, and other technology-driven initiatives, the government has been at the forefront of fostering a favourable business climate for both new and current enterprises to become global unicorns.
- In the upcoming years, India has a lot of room for growth. Also, as the digital economy expands, cyber attacks and vulnerabilities become a bigger hazard. For instance, the risk of cyberattacks on crucial infrastructure and financial institutions is increasing.
- The majority of Internet users in the globe download millions of applications each year from India. Yet, 80% of these apps lack adequate security measures.
- The Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, as well as other technological, institutional, and regulatory measures have been implemented by the Government of India (c) to address cybersecurity-related challenges.
- The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) established the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) as the country’s central agency for incident response, including review, forecasting, and notifications for cybersecurity breaches.
- By detecting botnets, the Cyber Swachhta Kendra (Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre) (CSK), a component of the GoI’s Digital India project under MeitY, strives to develop a safe internet.
- The National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Cyber and Information Security (C&IS) Division of MHA, and National Information Security Policy & Guidelines are among the topics they address (NISPG).
- The GoI has an integrated intelligence master database structure called NATGRID that connects databases from several security organisations.
- The MHA launched the Cyber Crime Prevention against Women and Children (CCPWC) Programme to provide the states/UTs with USD 11.99 million in financial support for the development of cyber forensic-cum-training laboratories.
- To address all forms of cybercrime in the nation in a coordinated and thorough way, MHA developed the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C). It costs 49.9 million dollars.
- Other government cybersecurity projects include the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Center (NCIIPC) and the National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC).
- For instance, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has implemented Card-on-File Tokenization, one of the newest technologies, to build a strong and secure digital payment infrastructure for customers and boost company trust in taking digital payments.
- The industry will need to take a proactive role in educating the public and providing training, as will state and federal governments. India’s population is largely technologically savvy, however many people are not aware of the fundamental security precautions.
- As they can aid the sector in fostering innovation and delivering innovative solutions to the market at a faster speed and with more agility, policymakers’ involvement will be equally vital.
- The government and industry stakeholders must develop capabilities that are powered by cutting-edge AI and ML technologies in order to combat cyber threats urgently.
- AI/ML aids in the analysis of data from millions of cyber events and uses it to find new malware variants or prospective threats.
Source: The Hindu
GS Paper II
Context: The excellent connection between India and Bhutan has played a significant role in maintaining the peace and security of the area. The recent trip to India by Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck has as its main goal strengthening bilateral ties between the two nations. The Bhutan-China border negotiations, which have gathered steam recently, were the visit’s unsaid component, though.
Exemplary India-Bhutan Relationship:
- Special and strategic relationship: Bhutan and India have a border that spans more than 600 kilometres. Since India’s independence, the relationship has grown stronger, acting as a barrier between China and India.
- The major development partner of Bhutan is India; the partnership goes beyond words to include an institutional and economic framework. Bhutan is India’s greatest commercial partner in the area, and India is Bhutan’s main development partner.
- Hydroelectricity is a key component: Bhutan’s largest source of income now is hydroelectricity, and India purchases the electricity produced there. Bhutan now has the greatest per capita income in South Asia as a result.
- Historical and religious connections: Bhutan is a contemporary, monarchical, Buddhist theocracy. Historical, religious, geopolitical, and economic factors all play a unique role in the particular connection between India and Bhutan.
Bhutan-China Boundary Talks:
- Much work has been made, but no decision has been reached as of yet, according to an interview with Bhutanese Prime Minister LotayTshering conducted before to the King’s trip to India. Years have passed since Bhutan and China began discussing the boundary issue, but no resolution has been made.
- There will be a change in the territory: Bhutan and China are employing a contemporary way to draw border lines on the ground, and as a consequence, there may be a change in the region.
- Indian interests strategically: The border negotiations between Bhutan and China impact India’s strategic interests. Bhutan has long been a target for China’s attempts to encroach. Bhutan is completely aware of the strategic requirements of India.
- Trijunction: As Bhutan, China, and India are at a trijunction there, the location of Bhutan’s border decision with China (to the west) is extremely relevant to India.
India’s Strategic Interests:
- India won’t openly discuss the conversations between China and Bhutan, but there won’t be any compromises when it comes to that country’s national security.
- Doklamplateau looks out over Chumbi Valley, which looks out over the chicken’s neck, in the Siliguri corridor (Siliguri corridor). India makes this statement to China to let them know that we would draw a line here in accordance with our national interest, not because Bhutan is endangering its collaboration with India on this front.
Why India needs Bhutan?
- Bhutan is an important buffer state for India due to its strategic placement halfway between China and India. Bhutan’s advantageous position supports the security of India and contributes to the preservation of regional stability.
- Water resources: The Brahmaputra, the Sankosh, and the Manas rivers all originate in Bhutan before flowing into India. India requires access to these rivers for a variety of uses, including agriculture and the production of hydroelectric power. Bhutan has received assistance from India in maximising its hydroelectric potential, and India has inked various agreements to buy energy from Bhutan.
- Bhutan’s major commercial partner is India, and Bhutan is significantly dependent on India for both imports and exports. Bhutan receives a variety of economic benefits from India, who has also assisted Bhutan in its growth.
- Cultural and historical ties: India and Bhutan have long-standing historical and cultural connections. India has backed Bhutan in its attempts to boost tourism and has assisted Bhutan in protecting its cultural heritage.
Why Bhutan needs India?
- Bhutan receives security help from India despite having a small army of its own. Bhutan has received assistance from India in developing its border infrastructure and its armed forces.
- Economic ties: India is Bhutan’s main commercial partner, and both its imports and exports are significantly dependent on India. Bhutan receives economic aid from India, and Indian businesses have invested in a variety of Bhutanese industries.
- Infrastructure: India has assisted Bhutan in developing its transportation, aviation, and telecommunications systems. Bhutan has received aid from India in building various hydroelectric plants as well as in maximising its hydropower potential.
- Healthcare and education: India has assisted Bhutan in the areas of healthcare and education. Bhutanese students travel to India often to study, and India offers financial aid to Bhutanese students. Bhutan has received medical aid and hospital construction support from India.
- Cultural and historical ties: Bhutan and India have long-standing historical and cultural connections. India has backed Bhutan in its attempts to boost tourism and has assisted Bhutan in protecting its cultural heritage.
Future of India-Bhutan Relations:
- Due to the spiritual foundations, geography, economics, and connection that all contribute to the partnership’s strength, the relationship between Bhutan and India has endured.
- Because the relationship between India and Bhutan was founded on trust, Bhutan has played an equal role in sustaining it. India need to pursue this alliance with full confidence.
- Bhutan’s young population, which is being affected by inaccurate information about India on social media, needs to hear from India.
The connection between India and Bhutan has played a significant role in maintaining the safety and security of the area. Mutual trust has been the foundation of the relationship between the two nations, which has been bolstered by an institutional and economic framework. The border negotiations between Bhutan and China impact India’s strategic interests. Reaching out to Bhutan’s younger generation is something India should do in order to maintain the connection.
Source: The Hindu
National Curriculum Framework
GS Paper II
Context: The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for School Education has been issued as a pre-draft by the Ministry of Education.
Salient features of NCF:
(1) Values and Roots
- The document’s incorporation of values and “Indian roots” is a crucial component.
- According to the pre-draft, India’s content and language learning, pedagogical techniques, which include tools and resources, and philosophical foundation—in the goals and epistemic approach—are all firmly ingrained in the framework.
- The paper also states that it tends towards exposing pupils to authentic sources of knowledge, which have long been an interest of Indian philosophers.
- Six pramanas—pratyaksa, anumana, upamana, arthapatti, anupalabdhi, and sabda—are the emphasis of these sources.
1. Pratyaksha: Interpreted as perception through the five senses
2. Anumana: Uses inferences to come to new conclusions
3. Upamana: Knowing through analogy and comparison
4. Arthapatti: Involves knowing through circumstantial implication
5. Anupalabdhi: Includes perception of non-existence
6. Sabda: Something an individual can only directly know a fraction of all reality through direct experience and inference but must rely on other experts was acknowledged thousands of years ago
- (2) Moral Development
- The paper includes a section on the panchakoshavikas, or five-fold growth, of a child’s moral development.
- A healthy diet, traditional activities, yoga asanas, as well as a wide range of stories, music, lullabies, poetry, and prayers are all suggested in the pre-draft to help children acquire moral ideals and a love of cultural context.
(3) Curriculum revamp
- According to the pre-draft, students must complete two required courses from the humanities, math and computers, vocational education, physical education, arts education, social science, science, and transdisciplinary subjects in order to receive their Grade 10 certification.
- Students will have the option of taking choice-based courses in the same subjects in grades 11 and 12 for a more challenging experience.
- In addition to understanding of India, traditions, and practises of Indian knowledge systems, arts education will cover music, dance, theatre, sculpture, painting, set design, and scriptwriting.
- “Modular Board Examinations will be administered as opposed to a single exam at the end of the year, and the ultimate result will be based on the cumulative result of each exam,” the paper adds, referring to the class 11 and 12 students.
- The social science curriculum’s framework places a strong emphasis on understanding and enjoying the sense of Indianness, or “bhartiyata,” through praising the nation’s rich cultural legacy and traditions.
- It also emphasises highlighting key moments in the history of the Indian national movement against British rule and explaining them, with a focus on Gandhian and other subaltern movements.
(4) Social Science Curriculum
- By honouring the rich cultural legacy and traditions of the nation, the pre-draft places an emphasis on understanding and enjoying the sense of Indianness, or “bhartiyata.”
- The pre-draft also places a strong emphasis on highlighting key moments in the Indian national movement against British rule and explaining them, with particular attention paid to Gandhian and other subaltern activities.
- Moreover, it suggests introducing them to the ideas of Buddhism, Jainism, Vedic, and Confucian ideologies.
(5) Follow-up processes
- Four National Curriculum Frameworks have been started as a follow-up to the National Education Policy 2020: NCF for School Education, NCF for Early Childhood Care and Education, NCF for Teacher Education, and NCF for Adult Education.
- The Ministry established the National Steering Committee, which is led by K. Kasturirangan, to carry out and develop NCFs.
Controversy over curriculum revamp:
- After the NDA administration took office, the last round of textbook rationalisation has led to some of the most significant modifications in the curriculum.
- All references to the 2002 Gujarat riots have been eliminated, as have chapters on social movements and rallies, as well as material on the Mughal era and the caste system.
- Yet, their earlier entrance into the curriculum was also politically motivated. Several of these modifications are perceived as being “political.”
The furore over Mughal History:
- The Mughals have not fully vanished from history textbooks, despite some of the material on the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire having been omitted.
- For instance, a two-page table listing the accomplishments of the reigns of the emperors Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb has been removed from the Our Pasts – II history textbook’s chapter on “The Mughal Empire.”
- The chapter itself has not been deleted, though.
- Class 7 students will continue to study the Mughals, but in less depth.
- The function of school textbooks in forming national narratives and in fostering a desired national identity has long been recognised.
- More than 5 crore students in 18 states use NCERT textbooks, and political parties view them as a sizable captive audience with receptive minds.
- These textbooks are used by applicants preparing for competitive examinations including the Civil Services Examination, SSC, JEE, and NEET, in addition to school pupils.
Source: Indian Express
RBI’s Pause On Repo Rate Hike
GS Paper III
Context: In light of ongoing rate increases by significant central banks including the US Federal Reserve (Fed) and European Central Bank (ECB), as well as worries about domestic inflation, the RBI has chosen not to raise the repo rate. Yet, if new data indicate increased inflation concerns, this move could just represent a break in the cycle of rate hikes.
The RBI’s decision to pause on rate hikes:
- The RBI chose to take a break from rate rises because it believes that since May 2022, money market rates have actually increased more than the repo rate by 250 basis points.
- A robust rabi crop, a regular monsoon, lowering global commodity prices, and the effects of rate rises are the primary factors driving the MPC’s projection of a drop in inflation to 5.2% in the current fiscal.
- The RBI acknowledged the potential upside risks and declared that it was prepared to combat any unforeseen increase in inflation.
Impact on GDP growth:
- Due to sluggish global economy, rising domestic interest rates, and tumultuous geopolitics, the RBI anticipates that GDP growth would drop to 6% this fiscal year from 7%.
- India’s exports will be adversely affected by a slowing of global economy, and given its increasing reliance on commodities exports, it is increasingly susceptible to fluctuations in global growth.
- The durability of India’s domestic demand in the face of rising interest rates will thus be put to the test in fiscal 2024.
Reasons for the expected cooling of consumer inflation:
- Fuel inflation is predicted to decline: After reaching a peak of over 10% in the current fiscal year, fuel inflation is predicted to decline to 3% as global economic growth slows.
- Core inflation will drop from extremely sticky levels of over 6% in the previous fiscal year to 5.5% in the current one as a result of slower domestic growth. Nonetheless, as long as input cost pressures persist, the core inflation rate’s drop will only be modest. Businesses will continue to pass on input costs to the final customer in order to maintain their profits. As consumer demand shifts from products to services, pressure on prices for services will likewise remain high.
- Food inflation is expected to fall to slightly around 5%, assuming a normal monsoon. Food inflation has historically driven headline inflation due to its large weight in the Consumer Price Index. Yet, due in large part to climate-related factors impacting farm output and pricing, food inflation has always been unpredictable and poses upside risks.
How slowing global growth will have a negative impact on India’s exports?
- More than China’s recovery is the impact of the US and European economies’ slower growth: The combined GDP of the US and Europe is double that of China. As a result, the effects of the growth slowdown in the US and Europe will be more severe than those of China’s economic recovery. As a result, India’s exports to the US and Europe would suffer.
- India sells six times more to the US and Europe than it does to China. India sells six times more to the US and Europe than it does to China. India will thus experience the negative effects of the slowing economy in the US and Europe more so than China.
- India is particularly susceptible to fluctuations in global growth because of its increasing reliance on exports of raw materials: India is becoming increasingly susceptible to fluctuations in global growth as a result of its increasing exports of steel and petroleum goods. India’s exports would suffer as a result of the projected drop in commodity demand as global economy slows.
- With a smaller current account deficit (CAD) and low short-term foreign debt, India’s external vulnerability is anticipated to decrease.
- The CAD is anticipated to decrease from an estimated 2.5% of GDP previous fiscal year to 2% this fiscal.
The RBI decided to hold off on raising rates due to forecasts that inflation will drop. Yet, there is still a risk of inflation, and rate increases are anticipated to have a considerable effect on GDP growth. Although it is anticipated that India’s external vulnerabilities would decrease, a danger still exists due to the banking turbulence occurring during interest rate increases by significant central banks and high debt levels. The RBI’s decision to stop rate increases will be closely scrutinised, and if inflation threats remain, more rate hikes could be required.
Source: Indian Express
Indian Space Policy, 2023
GS Paper III
Context: The Indian Space Policy, 2023, has been approved by the Union Cabinet.
Indian Space Policy, 2023:
It intends to strengthen the Department of Space’s role, increase ISRO mission activity, and promote engagement from academics, startups, research, and industry.
(1) Outlining roles and responsibilities
- The tasks and responsibilities of several entities in the space industry are described in the Indian Space Policy, 2023.
- The duties of ISRO, NewSpace India Ltd, and private sector organisations are outlined in the policy.
- The components put in place recently will perform more effectively thanks to this clarity in duties.
(2) Multistake holder participation
- The strategy seeks to advance the space industry by strengthening the Department of Space’s function and promoting involvement from universities, entrepreneurs, and research.
- This will boost the space industry’s growth and open up new business prospects for the private sector.
(3) Boosting ISRO Missions
- The Indian Space Policy, 2023 seeks to increase ISRO mission activity.
- This will make it easier and more efficient for ISRO to accomplish its goals.
- Moreover, it will support the creation of cutting-edge techniques and new technologies.
(4) Involvement of Private Sector
- The Policy, 2023 acknowledges the crucial role the private sector has played in the growth of the space industry.
- It promotes private sector participation in a variety of space-related activities.
- As a result, the private sector will have more chances, and the Indian space industry would expand.
(5) Research and development
- The goal of the strategy is to include academic institutions, entrepreneurs, and research in the growth of the space industry.
- Innovative ideas, new technology, and a skilled pool will all benefit from this.
- Moreover, it will provide prospects for research and development in the field while also contributing to the expansion of the Indian space industry.
- The Indian Space Policy, 2023 is a thorough document that outlines the obligations of different entities in the space industry.
- The goal of the strategy is to expand the space market, promote private sector participation, and include research, universities, and entrepreneurs in the industry’s growth.
- The strategy will increase chances for the commercial sector and for space sector research and development while also assisting ISRO in more effectively and efficiently fulfilling its goals.
Source: Indian Express
Facts for Prelims
- United States, Canada, France, and eight other European nations make up the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a military alliance.
- In 1949, it was formed.
- There are presently 31 members, including 1 from Eurasia, 2 from North America, and 28 from Europe.
- In the years following World War II, NATO’s primary goal was to establish a “collective defence” against any future German or Soviet Union invasion.
- Article 5: According to NATO’s Article 5, when one NATO member strikes another, it is seen to constitute an attack on all NATO members.
- Without membership, NATO cannot assist all of its members. For instance, it does not promise to send soldiers to nations that are not members.
- But, it has sent soldiers to nearby countries and made clear that it supports Ukraine.
- All European countries are eligible to apply as long as they meet a set of requirements, which include “a functioning democratic political system based on a market economy; fair treatment of minority populations; a commitment to peaceful conflict resolution; an ability and willingness to provide military support to NATO operations; and a commitment to democratic civil-military relations and institutions.”
- All members must agree in order to admit a new member.
- NATO’s Command Structure (NCS), which is made up of the Chiefs of Defence of all twenty-nine member nations, is under the direction of the Military Committee, the alliance’s highest military authority.
- Allied Command Operations (ACO) and Allied Command Transformation (ACT) are the two strategic commands that make up the NCS (ACT).
United Nations Statistical Commission:
- The highest body in the world statistics system is the United Nations Statistical Commission, which was founded in 1947.
- It brings together the top statisticians from its member nations worldwide.
- A functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council, the Statistical Commission is responsible for supervising the activities of the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD).
- It is in charge of creating statistical standards, developing ideas and methodologies, and ensuring their application at both the national and international levels. It is the highest decision-making organisation for international statistical activity.
The Commission is made up of 24 UN member nations that were chosen by the UN Economic and Social Council based on a fair geographical distribution in the manner described below:
- Five members from African States;
- Four members from Asia-Pacific States;
- Four members from Eastern European States;
- Four members from Latin American and Caribbean States;
- Seven members from Western European and other States.
- Members serve four-year terms in office.
- The Economic and Social Council determined in July 1999 that the Commission will have four-day sessions once a year beginning in 2000.
International Finance Corporation (IFC):
- The World Bank’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has said that it would not support investments in new coal projects.
- The IFC is moving closer to its goals being in line with those of the Paris Agreement.
- IFC had previously published a strategy in 2020 that did not prohibit new investments but required customers to cut their exposure to coal projects in half by 2025 and to zero by 2030.
- Banks and other financial institutions that lend to infrastructure and energy projects receive funding from the IFC. According to reports, the IFC has given about $5 billion to roughly 88 Indian financial institutions.
- The International Finance Corporation (IFC) was founded in the 1950s and has its headquarters there.
- It is the biggest organisation dedicated only to the needs of the private sector in emerging nations.