Context:An Indian student claims to have solved Sanskrit’s most difficult puzzle—a grammatical difficulty discovered in the ‘Ashtadhyayi’.
Confusion in Interpretation of Ashtadhyayi:
- Ashtadhyayi dives deeply into the phonetics, syntax, and grammar of the language.
- It also has a ‘language machine,’ which allows you to enter the root and suffix of any Sanskrit word and get grammatically accurate phrases and sentences back.
- Panini devised 4,000 rules regulating the logic of this’machine’ to assure its accuracy.
- However, when researchers investigated it, they discovered that two or more of the principles may apply concurrently, producing confusion. Panini had offered a’meta-rule’ (a rule that governs rules) to settle this, which has historically been understood as: ‘In the case of a dispute between two rules of equal strength, the rule that follows later in the serial sequence of the ‘Ashtadhyayi’ wins’.
- Following this interpretation, however, did not address the machine’s problem.
- It continued to generate exceptions, necessitating the creation of new norms by researchers.
Solution to This Problem:
- Dr. Rishi Rajpopat offered a simpler method in his thesis titled ‘In Panini We Trust,’ saying that the meta-rule has been mistakenly understood throughout history; what Panini truly meant was that for rules pertaining to the left and right sides of a word, readers should utilise the right-hand side rule.
- Using this logic, he discovered that the ‘Ashtadhyayi’ might eventually become a reliable ‘language machine,’ creating grammatically correct words and phrases practically every time.
- Panini’s approach can now be used to create millions of Sanskrit words, and because his grammar rules were precise and formulaic, they can function as a Sanskrit language algorithm that computers can learn.
Panini, the ‘father of linguistics’
- Panini most likely lived around the 4th century BC, during Alexander’s conquests and the establishment of the Mauryan Empire.
- He was also born in the sixth century BC, at the time of The Buddha and Mahavira.
- He most likely resided in Salatura (Gandhara), which is now in northwestern Pakistan.
- Panini was most likely affiliated with Taksasila’s famous university, which produced Kautilya and Charaka, the ancient Indian masters of statecraft and medicine, respectively.
- Panini’s excellent grammar is known as ‘Ashtadhyayi,’ or ‘Eight Chapters.’
- It is a linguistic work that established the norm for how Sanskrit should be written and spoken.
- The Ashtadhyayi established almost 4,000 grammatical rules, couched in a form of shorthand that uses single letters or syllables for the names of the cases, moods, persons, tenses, and so on that are used to classify linguistic events.
- Sanskrit had nearly attained its classical form by the time it was written, and it grew little more after that, save in its vocabulary.
- Panini’s grammar significantly fixed the Sanskrit language by building on the work of numerous preceding grammarians.
- Panini’s grammar is one of the greatest intellectual achievements of any ancient civilisation, and it is the most thorough and scientific grammar written in any portion of the world before the nineteenth century.
- Earlier works recognised the root as the essential constituent of a word and categorised around 2,000 monosyllabic roots that, when combined with prefixes, suffixes, and inflexions, were supposed to create all of the language’s words.
Commentaries on Panini:
- Later Indian grammars, such as Patanjali’sMahabhasya (2nd century BC) and Jayaditya and Vamana’sKashikaVritti (7th century AD).
Source: The Hindu
Bihar Hooch Tragedy
Context:The Bihar government has formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate deaths caused by the use of fake liquor in Saran district, which has claimed the lives of 82 people so far.
- Although alcohol prohibition is recommended in the Indian constitution (Article 47, DPSP), alcohol policy is a state matter.
- States have complete power over alcohol-related laws, excise rates, and the manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcohol.
- In 2016, alcohol sales and use were prohibited in Bihar.
- Bihar continues to see black market booze sales and fatalities caused by the drinking of locally manufactured fake whiskey.
History of Hooch tragedies:
- The number of hooch-related deaths in the country has been increasing.
- Every day, three individuals die in the country as a result of bogus liquor poisoning.
- The Lok Sabha recently issued a thorough report on the top five states that recorded the highest number of deaths due to illicit and counterfeit liquor use from 2016 to 2020, with Bihar and Chhattisgarh leading the list.
- According to the data, over 6,000 deaths were recorded owing to the drinking of fake booze between 2016 and 2020, with the lowest number of deaths in 2020 being 947.
What is spurious liquor?
- Spurious liquor is liquor that has been tainted with an intoxicating substance that is detrimental to customers.
- It is inexpensive and is mostly utilised by our society’s poorer classes.
- It includes a greater concentration of toxic methyl alcohol.
- Consuming such liquor may result in blindness, other significant health issues, and even death.
- Other compounds are sometimes combined with the ethyl alcohol to make the customer feel intoxicated.
- Even these are exceedingly dangerous and can cause significant bodily harm, if not death.
Why do people fall prey to such liquor?
- It is the outcome of a straightforward demand vs. supply dilemma, and the cost complicates matters further.
- Several hooch disasters may be traced back to situations that occurred in jurisdictions where booze is prohibited.
- People often opt for a low-cost alternative out of desperation.
- They are also obvious targets for bootleggers looking to earn quick money by selling cheap, low-quality booze in order to maximise profits.
Arguments in favour of Liquor Ban:
- Even without selling booze, a thriving economy is feasible. If the government guarantees that there is no tax evasion, black money stored abroad is returned to the country, and corruption in the government is regulated.
- The state government is responsible for protecting public health. The Directive Principles of State Policy state unequivocally that the state is responsible for improving nutrition, living standards, and public health.
- Everyone knows that booze is harmful to one’s health, and no doctor has ever recommended that it will help one’s health. It not only harms the liver but also impairs the overall functioning of the body.
- In poor homes when a person is addicted to alcohol, a large portion of the household income that could have been spent on improving one’s standard of living is spent on booze.
- Liquor is also a factor in the perpetuation of domestic violence, the deterioration of family relationships, the divorce of spouses, and the neglect of children.
- With the ready availability of booze, young people are becoming hooked. In terms of crime, it appears that a substantial number of crimes are committed when under the influence of alcohol.
- If the government limits the sale of alcoholic beverages, crime will decrease.
Arguments against Liquor Ban:
- The government claims that the sale of liquor generates significant income in the form of excise tax and that the funds are needed to boost the economy.
- A significant increase in crime as a result of withdrawal symptoms and an inability to locate and use alcohol would be a serious issue.
- This is significant because if someone wants to consume alcohol when it is prohibited, they must utilise unlawful means. This is the dread that drives the prohibition of alcohol.
- The arguments in favour of the idea that the Fundamental Rights protected by the Indian Constitution include the freedom to drink and trade liquor are primarily based on Articles 21 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.
- At the moment, no Indian person has a basic right to use or trade liquor. In India, state governments hold a monopoly on the liquor market.
- Experts continue to push for education rather than ban, particularly in jurisdictions where the law already outlaws its use.
- Experts continue to assert that alcohol consumption is inelastic, which is true for states that do not have a liquor prohibition yet witness a significant increase in mortality due to erroneous booze intake.
Source: The Hindu
Context:A recent acid-like chemical assault on a 17-year-old girl in Delhi has brought to light the horrible crime of acid attacks and the ready availability of caustic substances.
Prevalence of Acid Attack:
- According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 150 such incidents were documented in 2019, 105 in 2020, and 102 in 2021.
- West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh routinely have the largest number of such instances, accounting for roughly half of all cases in the country year after year.
- 2019 – 54%
- 2020 – 72%
- 2021 – 20%
- Until 2013, acid assaults were not considered distinct offences.
- After certain changes, acid assaults were moved to a distinct section (326A) of the IPC in 2013.
- A minimum of ten years in jail, with the possibility of life in prison, as well as a fine.
- Punishment for denying victims treatment or police personnel who refuse to file a FIR or record any evidence.
- Denial of treatment (by both public and private institutions) is punished by up to one year in jail, while disobedience of duty by a police officer is punishable by up to two years in prison.
Victim compensation and care:
- According to Supreme Court orders, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has directed states to ensure that victims of acid attacks receive compensation of at least Rs. 3 lakhs from the appropriate state government/union territory as aftercare and rehabilitation costs.
- States are obligated to guarantee that acid attack victims receive free care in any hospital, public or private.
- The expense of therapy is not to be included in the victim’s Rs 1 lakh compensation.
Regulation of acid sales:
Order by Supreme Court:
- The Supreme Court took notice of acid assaults in 2013 and issued an order regulating the sale of caustic chemicals.
Model Poisons Possession and Sale Rules, 2013:
- Based on the ruling, the MHA provided a guidance to the states on how to govern acid sales and drafted the Poisons Act, 1919 Rules.
- It requested that states develop their own laws based on model guidelines because the topic lay under the authority of states.
- The sale of acid over the counter was prohibited unless the vendor kept a logbook/register recording the sale of acid.
- This logbook was also supposed to include information on the person to whom the acid was sold, the amount sold, the individual’s address, and the reason for obtaining the acid.
- The transaction will also be made only if the buyer presents a government-issued picture ID with his address.
- The buyer must additionally show proof that he or she is over the age of 18.
- Sellers are obliged to disclose all acid stockpiles with the relevant Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) within 15 days and in the case of undeclared acid stock.
- For a violation of any of the directives, the SDM has the authority to seize the stock and levy a fine of up to Rs 50,000.
- The laws compel educational institutions, research laboratories, hospitals, government departments, and departments of Public Sector Undertakings that are obliged to preserve and store acid to keep a record of acid consumption and to file it with the relevant SDM.
Advisory by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA):
- In 2015, MHA issued an advise to all states urging them to expedite prosecution in cases of acid assaults.
- MHA issued another recommendation in August 2021 to all States/UTs to evaluate and ensure that the retail sale of acids and chemicals is rigorously regulated in accordance with the Poison Rules so that they are not utilised in crime.
- MHA proposed that states offer social integration programmes to victims, for which NGOs might be financed only to address their rehabilitative needs.
- The key to resolving this issue is still in society. Parents must instil in their children the value of limits and consent.
- There is an urgent need to raise awareness.
- Things have improved in comparison to the past because social views are improving and the police’s concentration on dealing with crimes against women can provide some deterrent.
Source: Indian Express
The Digital Gateways
Context:The convenience afforded by digital technology has transformed digital innovations into critical services for the general population. Previously considered a curiosity, the internet has now become a necessity for most day-to-day activities.
Internet access and restrictions:
- Various gateways, such as telecom service providers, personal computers and cellphones, operating systems, and so on, have emerged in recent decades to enable internet access.
- When these gateways permit and limit access to other gateways or networks, the internet’s openness is jeopardised.
- They then transform from a facilitator to a regulator, from a doorway to a gatekeeper. As a result, a code of behaviour or regulation is required to keep the playing field level and accessible to all.
Analysis: Telecoms and Government:
- Telecom businesses have played a critical role in facilitating access to important communication services such as voice calls, internet data, and text messaging.
- Governments all around the world have taken steps to regulate these companies in order to secure democratic access for the people. The internet would not exist if these gateway providers were not subjected to this rule of behaviour. These service companies would have become gatekeepers, controlling the internet and stifling innovation and democratic growth.
- The code of conduct and laws cannot keep up with the new gateway providers that are emerging at the rate that digital technologies are growing. Distribution systems for smartphone applications are one such example.
- Google and Apple, the two leading smartphone operating systems, control the majority of the app store business. They used best practises to guarantee basic cleanliness for smartphone apps, upheld quality standards for content on their operating systems, and protected their customers’ interests.
- It’s a dangerous slope, though, without effective laws to control how companies decide what should be weeded and whose interests should be protected.
Policy on Net Neutrality put forwarded by Indian Government:
- Closer to home, another example of this code of behaviour being enforced on providers was when the Indian government issued the Net Neutrality policy, which, among other things, states that telecom networks should be neutral to any information transferred over them.
- Networks should handle every communication similarly, regardless of its content, application, service, device, sender, or recipient address. Adopting Net Neutrality guaranteed that we fought Big Tech in a democratic manner.
Questionable practices of distribution platforms:
- Various practises include payment gateway limits, advertising options, app regulations, and a variety of other characteristics of an application or company that might be considered discriminatory in both theory and practise.
- The Google Play Store’s payment mechanism was recently judged to be “unfair and discriminatory” in a report filed before the Competition Commission of India. Google’s Play Store billing policy was updated in September 2020, and all applications on its platform were required to use its payment systems for any type of in-app purchases or subscriptions.
- Concerns have also been made about Apple’s App Store, with both platforms reportedly collecting up to 30% commission on purchases completed.
- Google and Apple control the majority of the worldwide smartphone operating system market (OS). This has given them complete control over the publication of smartphone applications on their operating system.
- Bigtechs push developers to alter their apps or use their proprietary advertising engines if they want their applications to be seen. As seen by Google’s sudden change in billing policy, different smartphone application-dependent businesses and developers are still vulnerable to similar internal business policy changes on these platforms.
European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA):
- The European Union recently passed the Digital Markets Act, which is set to go into effect in early 2023.
- Through ex-ante regulation, the Digital Markets Act legislation strives to maintain digital markets creative and open to competition.
- The DMA will prevent the major digital platforms from engaging in the most severe anti-competitive conduct.
- The goal is to strike a balance between these platforms that regulate access to digital marketplaces and the businesses who provide services on them.
The Indian government has made a giant step forward in preserving its sovereignty by developing ground-breaking and disruptive digital public goods. This list includes names like Aadhaar, UPI, DigiLocker, and CoWIN. However, there is still a high reliance on different digital products made possible by international Big Tech firms. The government must develop suitable laws to preserve a level playing field and prevent innovative gates from becoming dictatorial gatekeepers.
Rupee Settlement Mechanism
Context:More nations are showing interest in India’s rupee trade settlement system, which allows them to use rupees instead of dollars and other major currencies in international transactions.
- Tajikistan, Cuba, Luxembourg, and Sudan have all began discussions with India about utilising the system.
- They have shown an interest in creating vostro accounts, which are special rupee accounts.
- The Reserve Bank of India must approve the opening of these accounts.
- It has already been employed by Russia in response to sanctions imposed on.
- To support the Rupee Settlement System for International Trade, banks functioning as authorised dealers would need to get prior authorisation from the regulator.
- Under the invoicing system, all exports and imports may be denominated and invoiced in Rupee.
- The exchange rate between the currencies of the two trade partners may be established by the market.
- For receipts and payments denominated in rupees, exporters and importers can now use a Special Vostro Account connected to the correspondent bank of the partner nation.
- These accounts can be used for project and investment payments, import or export advance flow management, and Treasury Bill investments subject to the Foreign Exchange Management Act of 1999. (FEMA).
- FEMA guidelines would also include bank guarantees, setting-off export receivables, advances against exports, use of surplus balance, approval procedure, paperwork, and other associated elements.
Benefits of such a mechanism:
- This will also ease commerce with sanctioned countries such as Russia.
- Because India buys more than it exports, the new arrangement will save the government foreign dollars.
- The rupee is at an all-time low versus the US currency. It will also aid in the stabilisation of the currency.
- Payments became a headache for exporters very immediately after the Russia-Ukraine conflict erupted, especially after Russia was shut off from the SWIFT payment system.
- We consider this as a first step toward the rupee’s complete convertibility.
- It will also aid in the purchase of cheaper crude oil from Russia, which presently accounts for 10% of all imported petroleum.
- As a result, the new method will assist India in promoting its exports.
Which countries would prefer this system?
- For the time being, it appears that trade settlements in rupees will be confined to nations such as Russia and Iran that are subject to Western sanctions.
- Sri Lanka is experiencing economic difficulties, and India has repeatedly extended lines of credit to Sri Lanka.
- Other nations might include India’s near neighbours.
Why would countries choose rupees over dollars?
- At the most basic level, this is equivalent to two Indians electing to use an alternate medium of trade they devised instead of rupees.
- In other words, it’s akin to the barter system.
The major reason countries wish to deal with India with rupees is as follows:
- The US dollar has been strengthening against the majority of the world’s currencies. This has effectively made imports more costly for most countries.
- Sri Lanka, which is experiencing one of its worst economic crises in decades, is a prime example of a country whose economy has ground to a standstill due to a precipitous drop in currency reserves.
- While the Sri Lankan rupee has fallen by more than 83 percent against the US dollar, it has fallen by just 70 percent versus the Indian rupee.
- Instead of paying 83 percent more in USD for goods, Sri Lanka can pay in Indian Rupees and save some money.
- The RBI and the Indian government will have to explain the issue of why nations with trade surpluses with India would wish to trade in rupees.
- In 2021-22, China had a $73 billion trade surplus with India, which means that Indian purchases from China surpassed Indian exports to China by $73 billion.
- If China traded with India in rupees, it would have $73 billion (approximately 5.77 lakh crore) in Indian rupees sitting idle in its Rupee Vostro accounts with an Indian bank.
- Countries whose exports to India exceed imports will be hesitant to deal in rupees, especially if the disparity is large, as it is in the case of China.
Context:The identification of a victim of a gruesome murder and mutilation has been determined through DNA fingerprinting, according to Delhi Police.
What exactly is DNA fingerprinting?
- Alec Jeffreys of the United Kingdom invented DNA fingerprinting in 1984 after discovering that no two persons could have the same DNA sequence.
- Within three years after the discovery, the United Kingdom obtained the world’s first conviction based on DNA evidence in a rape and murder case.
How is DNA fingerprinting accomplished?
- Except for identical twins, each person’s DNA is distinct.
- A crime laboratory can create a profile for identifying a suspect by studying certain DNA sequences (called loci).
- DNA may be extracted from a variety of materials, including hair, bone, teeth, saliva, and blood.
- Because DNA is present in the majority of cells in the human body, even a trace amount of biological fluid or tissue can offer important information.
- Samples can even be taken from old garments, linen, combs, and other objects that are often used.
Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA):
- Humans and practically all other species have DNA as their genetic material. Almost single cell in a person’s body contains the same DNA.
- The majority of DNA is contained in the cell nucleus (where it is known as nuclear DNA), but a minor quantity can also be discovered in the mitochondria (where it is called mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA).
- Mitochondria are cell structures that transform energy from meals into a form that cells can utilise.
- DNA stores information as a code composed of four chemical bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T).
- Human DNA is made up of around 3 billion bases, with more than 99 percent of those bases being the same in all humans.
- The arrangement, or sequence, of these bases defines the information accessible for constructing and sustaining an organism, in the same way that letters of the alphabet occur in a certain order to make words and phrases.
How it is used in criminal investigation?
DNA evidence is used to solve crimes in two ways:
- If a suspect’s DNA sample is known, it may be matched to biological evidence collected at a crime scene to determine if the suspect was present at the crime site or whether they committed the crime.
- If there is no known suspect, biological evidence from the crime scene can be studied and matched to offender profiles in existing DNA databases to help identify a suspect.
- Aside from its accuracy, DNA fingerprinting allows detectives to go through crime scene material in previously inaccessible ways.
- For example, modern DNA fingerprinting can create unique prints of different persons from a sample combination obtained at the crime scene – this is useful during gang rape investigations since each culprit can be identified separately.
DNA fingerprinting in India:
- By 1988, Lalji Singh, who had been in the UK on a Commonwealth Fellowship from 1974 to 1987, had developed DNA fingerprinting for criminal investigations in Hyderabad.
- Lalji Singh, who died in 2017, is now acknowledged as “India’s father of DNA fingerprinting.”
- The Kerala Police employed DNA fingerprinting for the first time in a case in 1989.
- By the early 1990s, the technique was being used to verify paternity, link offenders, and identify victims in high-profile crimes.
- From the 2000s forward, the technique was used to match vaginal swab samples with semen samples from suspects in rape cases.
Challenges with DNA fingerprinting in India:
- The DNA of the investigators must not be mixed with that of the victims or suspects.
- Thus, collecting samples from a crime scene with sterile devices and correctly storing them are important for the evidence to hold up in court.
- While India has laws and procedures in place, its police forces fall well behind their international counterparts.
- While federal institutions like the CBI have the expertise to ensure that crime scenes are maintained and relevant protocols are followed, state police forces are undertrained and under-equipped.
Issues with such technology:
- The issue is not exclusive to police awareness.
- The country’s capability for DNA fingerprinting is limited.
- DNA fingerprinting is only available in a few states, including Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Chandigarh.
- Advanced technical methods are restricted to the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) in Hyderabad.
Source: Indian Express
FACTS FOR PRELIMS
- First Global Water Survey Satellite:
- NASA will perform the first worldwide study of the Earth’s surface waters, which will give fresh information on the mechanisms and effects of climate change.
- The Surface Water and Ocean Topography satellite, or SWOT, uses powerful microwave radar technology to acquire high-definition measurements of the world’s seas, lakes, reservoirs, and rivers.
- The data, which was generated from radar sweeps of the world at least twice every 21 days, will be used to improve ocean-circulation models, improve weather and climate forecasts, and help in the management of precious freshwater supplies in drought-stricken areas.
- Twitter has suspended the accounts of many journalists in the United States, as part of the social media platform’s new anti-doxing policy, according to its owner Elon Musk.
What is doxing and what is Twitter’s new policy around it?
- Doxing is the exposing of someone’s personal information with the goal of harassing them. It is a well-known and contentious practise employed against persons who hold opposing political ideas. Celebrities and influencers have also been doxed, with serious implications.
- Twitter’s policy currently prohibits revealing any individual’s live location as a possible “severe safety and security concern,” and this is not permitted (neglected in the older version).
- Violations of these may result in the account being locked, and repeated violations may result in a permanent suspension, according to the policy. However, disclosing anyone’s live location without their express consent would result in an instant suspension, as was the case with the journalists.
- The Agni-5 was tested from A P J Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of Odisha by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC).
- Agni-5 was tested independently for the first time by the SFC in October, a few months after China launched its hypersonic missile.
- Created by the DRDO as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP)
- The significance of the test is that it supports India’s nuclear strategy and spearheads India’s nuclear triad.
- The SFC is a tri-services structure (including the Army, Navy, and Air Force) under the Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) that maintains and controls all strategic assets in India (executive council).
- Nataraja Idol
- On December 16, Tamil Nadu police successfully halted the auction of the ‘Shiva Nataraja’ statue in France.
- The unique bronze idol was allegedly taken from Kayathar in the Thoothukudi area half a century ago.
- Nataraja (Lord of the Dance), the Hindu God Shiva as the cosmic dancer, is depicted in metal or stone in many Shaivite temples, especially in South India.
- It is a significant CHOLA sculpture.
- The drum, which represents the music of creation, is held in the upper right hand. The damru’s enormous sound is the source of all creation.
- The perpetual fire, which signifies destruction, is held in the upper left hand. Destruction is the forerunner and unavoidable opposite of creation.
- The lower right hand is lifted in the Abhay mudra gesture, expressing blessing and telling the devotee not to be fearful.
- The route to redemption is shown by the lower left hand pointing to the upraised foot.
- Shiva is doing a dance on the figure of a little dwarf. The dwarf represents ignorance and an individual’s ego.
- Shiva is shown as the source of all movement within the cosmos, as well as the deity whose apocalyptic dance, represented by the arch of flames, accompany the universe’s destruction at the end of an aeon.
- Shiva’s tangled and flowing hair depict the flow of the Ganges.
- Shiva’s ear is ornamented with a male earring and a female earring. This depicts the union of masculine and female energy and is also known as Ardhanarishvara.