Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 47


The Hindu science & tech CurrentAffairs

Sun, Apr 5, 2015
Most H1N1 deaths occurred in high risk factor groups: Study

Vaccination a must for high risk patients having diabetes, chronic lung disorder or
TB, and pregnant woman

About 65 per cent of persons who died due to swine flu this January and February,
also had a high risk factor involved.

They all suffered from other chronic diseases including diabetes, TB and chronic lung
disorder, a study has revealed.

research paper titled Profiling the Mortality due to Influenza A (H1N1) pdm09 at a
Tertiary Care Hospital in Jaipur during the Current Season - January & February
2015 in the Journal of the Association of Physicians of India.

Of the 412 serious swine flu patients admitted to the SMS Hospital here, 76 succumbed
to the H1N1 virus, of which 65 per cent were in the high risk category and suffering
from other chronic diseases like diabetes, lung disorder, or TB or were pregnant.

Research suggested that a rejig of the existing guidelines was needed to identify and treat
influenza like illness at the national level.

Factors that promote its rapid progression - especially in a group without any
predisposing risk condition - should form the focus of future studies.

As risk group individuals formed a major chunk of deaths, the need to vaccinate this
group should form a scaffold on which future directions and interventions have to be built
up to combat the morbidity and mortality
science & tech
CurrentAffairs Businessline
Sun, Apr 5, 2015
Large Hadron Collider restarts in hunt for dark matter
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the worlds biggest and most powerful particle
accelerator, has been re-started after it was shut down for two years to receive an upgrade
that almost doubled its power.
The restart of the LHC is now under way, with protons making their way around its 27kilometre tunnel for the first time since 2013.
Particle beams will soon travel in both directions, inside parallel pipes, just beneath the
speed of light.
Actual collisions will not begin for at least another month, but they will take place with
nearly double the energy the LHC reached during its first run.
The beams have arrived a week or so later than originally scheduled, due to a nowresolved electrical fault.
The protons are injected at a relatively low energy to begin with. However, engineers
hope to gradually increase the beams energy to 13 trillion electronvolts, double what it
was during the LHCs first operating run.
Scientists hope to glimpse a new physics beyond the Standard Model of particle
The model describes 17 subatomic particles, including 12 building blocks of matter and 5
force carriers - the last of which, the Higgs boson, was detected by the LHC in 2012.
Things beyond the Standard Model have been proposed to explain several baffling
properties of the universe, but never directly detected.
These include dark energy and dark matter. Dark energy is the all-pervading force
suggested to account for the universe expanding faster and faster.
Dark matter is the web that holds all visible matter in place, and would explain why
galaxies spin much faster than they should, based on what we can see.

By taking matter to states we have never observed before, physicists hope to find
something unexpected that addresses some of these questions.
Debris from the tiny but history-making smash-ups might contain new particles, or tell-tale
gaps betraying the presence of dark matter or even hidden dimensions.
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Sun, Apr 5, 2015
Dr Harsh Vardhan Urged National Aerospace Laboratories Scientists to work hard to
make the Prime Ministers Make in India programme.

Aerospace and Defence have been identified to be at the heart of Make in India

more than five decade experience of providing indigenous technologies to these strategic
sectors, CSIR-NAL is uniquely poised to underpin Prime Minister Narendra Modis call to
raise the percentage of domestic procurement from 40% to 70% in next five years.

Aerospace and Defence is globally, a very highly competitive area, defined by technology
denial regimes and highly proprietary systems.

aerospace is an area marked by large investment and long gestation periods but
nevertheless it is imperative to develop streams of innovation that provide significant longterm payoffs in terms of import substitution as well as cutting-edge technologies.

it was this far-sightedness in supporting aerospace R&D with the establishment of

CSIR-NAL in 1959 that resulted in its key technology successes for the strategic sector
like carbon fibre composite airframe components and Fly-by-wire Flight Control systems
for the Tejas light combat aircraft programme which were all denied under the technology
control regime.

CSIR-NALs efforts towards Indias space programme, the latest being acoustic
qualification of subsystems for GSLV-D5 and the aerodynamic characterisation of the
LVM3 launcher.

the numerous spin-off products developed including Indias largest Autoclave for
Airworthy Composite Processing, the first indigenous transmissometer (DHRISTI) for
measuring runway visibility, the first indigenous Electronic target (DHVANI) for
the Indian Army, Active noise control, smart materials and surface modification.

Such spinoffs demonstrated out-of-the-box thinking and were imperative for the Prime
Ministers Make-in- India program.

CSIR-NAL technologies that have significant societal impact such as solar selective
coating for industrial and domestic solar water heaters, coatings to enhance tool wear
resistance and windsolar hybrid wind turbine system to power off grid remote areas.

CSIR-NAL on its many laurels, the latest being the Best Laboratory Award 2014
from Brahmos Aerospace , for its breakthrough technology development and outstanding
science & tech
CurrentAffairs Businessline
Fri, Apr 3, 2015
Can organic and GM cropsco-exist?
Can organically cultivated crops and genetically modified crops co-exist especially, in
adjoining fields?

This has been an issue of debate for some years now.

The issue at hand is the potential of contamination of organic crop through pollen drift
from non-organic or GM crop cultivated in proximity.

While companies selling genetically modified seeds claim that the technology is not
in conflict with organic cultivation as the former helps reduce use of pesticides, those

engaged in organic cultivation perceive GM technology as not purely organic.

GM crops still need integrated pest management and integrated nutrient management.
There are issues with organic certification too.

The matter has come to a head in a court in Western Australia where owners of two
fields one cultivating organic oats and the other GM canola are
fighting over cultivation rights and duty of care.

The organic farmer has lost his certification because his neighbour planted modified
canola. Commercial cultivation of GM canola was permitted by the Australian
government sometime in 2009- 2010.

The outcome of the legal dispute is keenly awaited.

The court is likely to rule on the relative rights and obligations of neighbouring farms.

The outcome may also potentially force amendments to the organic certification process.

Clearly, the issue is not about desirability or otherwise of GM crops and their contribution
to the market; but whether organic and non-organic cultivation can harmoniously coexist.

It may be a coincidence that the legal dispute in faraway Australia has come up at a
time when the Indian Government has permitted field trials of GM crops, subject to State
governments approval. Maharashtra, for instance, has decided to allow firms to undertake
field trials of select crops.

Given that landholdings in India are rather small over 80 per cent of farmers own less
than two acres the issue of co-existence of GM and non-GM crops assumes greater
importance. Currently, Bt Cotton is the only GM crop commercialised.

Over the last several years, area under modified cotton cultivation has expanded and
currently stands at nearly 90 per cent of the total area under cotton (11-12 million
science & tech
CurrentAffairs Businessline
Thu, Apr 2, 2015
NASAs Curiosity rover spots mineral veins on Mars

NASAs Curiosity rover has found mineral veins at a site on Mars, offering clues about
multiple episodes of fluid movement in the area.

The mineral veins were found at the site called Garden City on the slopes of a 5-kmhigh mountain known as Mount Sharp.

They appear as a network of ridges left standing above the now eroded-away bedrock
in which they formed.

Individual ridges range up to about 2.5 inches high and half that in width, and they bear
both bright and dark material.

Some of them look like ice-cream sandwiches: dark on both edges and white in the
middle, said Linda Kah, a Curiosity science-team member at the University of Tennessee,

These materials tell us about secondary fluids that were transported through the region
after the host rock formed,

Veins such as these form where fluids move through cracked rock and deposit minerals in
the fractures, often affecting the chemistry of the rock surrounding the fractures.

Curiosity has found bright veins composed of calcium sulfate at several previous
locations. The dark material preserved here presents an opportunity to learn more.

Mud that formed lake-bed mudstones Curiosity examined near its 2012 landing site and
after reaching Mount Sharp must have dried and hardened before the fractures formed.

The dark material that lines the fracture walls reflects an earlier episode of fluid flow
than the white, calcium-sulfate-rich veins do, although both flows occurred after the cracks

Garden City is about 39 feet higher than the bottom edge of the Pahrump Hills outcrop of
the bedrock forming the basal layer of Mount Sharp, at the centre of Mars Gale Crater.

The Curiosity mission spent about six months examining the first 33 feet of elevation at
Pahrump Hills, climbing from the lower edge to higher sections three times to vertically
profile the rock structures and chemistry, and to select the best targets for drilling.

The first, Confidence Hills, had the most clay minerals and hematite, both of which
commonly form under wet conditions.

The second, Mojave, had the most jarosite, an oxidised mineral containing iron and
sulfur that form in acidic conditions.

The third is Telegraph Peak.

science & tech
CurrentAffairs Businessline
Wed, Apr 1, 2015
Eliminate this deadly livestock disease

Ruminant plague wipes out unvaccinated cattle in alarmingly quick time, driving farmers to

It is extraordinary when a disease is eradicated from the face of the earth, as great a
human accomplishment as inventing the internet or putting a man on the moon.

Two serious ones have already been wiped out smallpox, a scourge of human history,
and rinderpest, a chronic killer of cattle and instigator of famine.

The disease we propose be made the third target for elimination is often deadly to sheep
and goats but also devastating to the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of smallholder
farmers who rely on them for meat, milk and other products.

Called by its French name peste des petits ruminants (PPR), which means small ruminant
plague, the disease can wipe out entire unvaccinated flocks in a matter of days.

PPR is an ideal candidate for total eradication as there is only one virus strain for which
an effective vaccine exists.

That is why the organisations we lead are jointly launching and leading a 15-year campaign
to eradicate the disease, involving regions and countries.

By 2030 the world should be free of PPR.

Why target PPR?

Since it was first identified in 1942 in Cote dIvoire, the disease has spread throughout
Africa, West Asia, Central and South Asia and most recently has swept across China.

As a result today PPR is present in more than 70 countries.

If no action is taken , the disease is expected to spread further into southern Africa,
Southeast Asia, and Mongolia. Most countries in the Mediterranean basin are also at risk.

PPR does not affect human health directly, but it seriously jeopardises the livelihoods of
millions of poor smallholders.

When their flocks die, farmers and their families in rural areas are pushed deeper into
poverty, increasing their levels of malnutrition.

Eradicating the rinderpest plague in cattle showed that with political will, economic
commitment and the full involvement of veterinary services including practitioners, local
shepherds, pastoralists, and farmers, countries can eradicate a disease completely.

Better veterinary care One key component of the strategy is the strengthening of
veterinary systems; they contribute directly to human health and food safety, the
protection of such threats from animals such as rabies, brucellosis, Ebola, or
antimicrobial resistant organisms that may have environmental or animal origin.

Consumer confidence relies on the veterinary systems of regulatory inspection and

assurances of compliance.

There are around 500 million family farmers in developing countries and a high
percentage of them depends on small ruminants for food such as meat, milk and other
products for income generation.

Eradication makes economic sense as it will permanently eliminate the negative socioeconomic impacts of the disease and result in estimated savings of almost $2 billion a

This means the entire investment in this initiative is expected to be recovered within a few
years following PPR eradication.

Sheep and goats are famously hardy and can survive dry and rocky environments in
which cattle or other livestock would perish.

They are less expensive than cattle and have a higher reproduction rate.

Women and children make up the majority of those caring for and raising small

Many people would benefit by the end of PPR: farmers and pastoralists, traders, retailers,
transporters and those who slaughter animals, dress carcasses and cure skins, retailers.
Consumers would benefit, too, both in terms of access to food and nutrition.

The global campaign to eradicate PPR will be launched officially at a conference from
March 31 to April 2 in Abidjan, jointly organised by FAO and OIE with the government of
the Republic of Cte dIvoire.

The Hindu
science & tech
Wed, Apr 15, 2015

Current Affairs

Blow for Netneutrality

online retailer Flipkart pulling out of Airtel Zero, the controversial plan offered by Indias
leading telecom provider Bharti Airtel to provide its subscribers free access to select websites.

Flipkart had to contain the fallout after Airtel Zero was severely criticised by the proponents
of Net neutrality, the principle that all Internet traffic has to be treated equally.

The e-retailer faced a severe backlash on social media over its decision to join Airtel, and even
had its app down-rated on app stores by die-hard Net neutrality advocates.

For all the pro-Net neutrality utterances it makes now ironically, Airtel also does so what
is still a surprise is what made it join the platform in the first place.

Flipkart did so disregarding the wave of support for Net neutrality that has been
sweeping across India following the recent publication of a consultation paper on it by the
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

Politicians, celebrities and the common person alike have joined the cause.
Facebook introduced internet.org a few months ago to subscribers of Reliance Communications.

Airtel Zero and internet.org are very similar schemes.

Airtel would know; it is Facebooks partner in Africa.


The only difference is in positioning. Internet.org is presented as an attempt to make the

Internet available to those who dont have access to it.

But the actors in internet.org are all commercial enterprises, as they are in Airtel Zero.

The list includes Facebook, Reliance Communications, and many of the nearly three dozen
Indian content and news sites, some of which have been vocal in their support for Net

Such free plans, also called zero-rating plans wherein the subscriber gets access to select
sites, are deemed to be against Net neutrality and banned in countries such as Chile.

Whatever made it join Airtel Zero in the first place, Flipkart is now making the right
redemption noises, leaving Airtel in the lurch.

The dramatic pullback has given supporters of Net neutrality more ammunition, much more
than would have been the case had Flipkart not decided to join Airtel Zero in the first place.
The Hindu
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Wed, Apr 15, 2015
Genetically engineered bacteria can treatcancer

Genetically modified Salmonella bacteria that causes severe food poisoning can be used
to kill cancer cells.

There has long been interest in using genetically engineered microbes to target and destroy
cells within solid tumours,

certain strains of bacteria, including Salmonella enterica, can kill cancer cells.

Specifically Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium has been shown to not only
colonise solid tumours, but also to exhibit an intrinsic anti-tumour effect.

in order to use Salmonella as a weapon against cancer in humans, researchers must find a
balance between allowing it to kill the cancer and be safe for the patient.

The bacteria, commonly known for causing severe food poisoning, can lead to sepsis and
death in humans.

In the study, the researchers focused on modifying the lipopolysaccharide structure (LPS)
of the Salmonella strain to make the bug less toxic.

LPS, found in the outer membrane of bacteria, is one of the major inducers of sepsis, a lifethreatening infection.

Researchers used genetic engineering to delete genes involved in the synthesis of the LPS, and
then tested various modified Salmonella strains to see how they performed in test tube studies
with human cancer cells and in tumour bearing mice.

They identified a particular mutant strain that was the most effective at killing cancer cells and
shrinking tumours, and also unable to cause disease.

However, this mutant strain was less able to colonise the tumours, although being most
effective in killing tumour cells when getting there.

To address this problem, the researchers then added another genetic modification, an
inducible arabinose promoter.

The modification allowed the Salmonella to be injected in the mouse in a form that would not
harm normal, healthy cells, was effective at colonising tumours, and after entering cancer cells,
would turn toxic.

This transition from benign, invasive Salmonella that doesnt hurt normal cells to the toxic
type occurs very rapidly in the tumour due to the very rapid growth and cell division that
occurs when Salmonella enters a tumour, he said.

In a normal cell, Salmonella grows very slowly, dividing once or twice in a 24-hour period,
but in a tumour, the bacteria divide every hour.

The Hindu
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Wed, Apr 15, 2015
Rosetta mission: comet 67P may notbe magnetised

The strength of the magnetic fields measured did not increase systematically as the point of
observation moved closer to the comets nucleus.

Researchers of the Rosetta Mission have made a sensational discovery the comet
67P/Churyumov- Gerasimenko may not have a magnetic field.

This discovery is important because it calls into question some of the theories of formation of
structures, such as our solar system, in which magnetic field is crucial to the formation of
clumps of matter which later grew to become large celestial bodies.

When the Rosetta mission arrived at its destination, floating in sync with the comet 67P, it
dropped a lander, Philae, which contained instruments for measuring various parameters on the
comet, including its magnetic field.

Philae was supposed to anchor itself, by means of some harpoons, to the surface of the comet on

However, this mechanism failed, and it bounced off the surface a couple of times to land some
distance away, following a complex path.

This turned out to be scientifically beneficial to the scientists who were looking at the
magnetometer measurements from Philae and from the Rosetta spacecraft.

They could collect precise magnetic field measurements at the four points where Philae made
contact and at a range of heights.

The strength of the magnetic fields measured did not increase systematically as the point of
observation moved closer to the comets nucleus.

This rules out the possibility that the nucleus of the comet carries any magnetism.

Instead, the observed value is consistent with there being an external source of magnetism,
namely the solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field near the comet nucleus.

These findings of Philae were complemented by measurements made by Rosetta at the same
time, thereby adding weight to the conclusions.
science & tech CurrentAffairs Businessline
Wed, Apr 15, 2015
Chandrayaan-2 launch slated to take placein 2017-18: ISROChief

India's second lunar exploration mission - Chandrayaan - 2 is targeted to be launched by 201718 with complete indigenisation,

"With changes in the planned configuration for Chandrayaan-2, where originally the
lander was supposed to come from Russia.

So it will be completely indigenous system

"For the launch of Chandrayaan-2 the target is sometime in 2017-18," that meanwhile India will
see about seven space launches.

Of the seven launches, one has already been done last month in March.

"Apart from that we are now getting ready for DMC- Disaster Monitoring Constellation
satellite for Surrey Space Technology, followed by GSLV Mk-2 which is going to be launched,"

ISRO has also lined launch of IRNSS (Indian Regional Navigate Satellite System) 1E and 1F.

"On March, 28 launched the fourth IRNSS.

completed all the in-orbit tests that the satellite has actually gone into the right place.

"Once you have the four navigation satellites, you can independently determine your physical
position on ground.

Latitude, longitude and height using a receiver signal,"

Another in the line is the Astrosat to be launched in 2015 with a multi-wavelength telescope
system which will be carried on a single platform.

This will be unique observation systems to look at celestial objects thereby encouraging
students to take unique observations from sky.

With the new satellite, students can decide what celestial object they want to look at.
Astrosat will carry multi-frequency telescope systems on a platform.

GSAT-15 will be launched this year. "The remaining six are from our own PSLV and GSLV Mk-2."

"Also we will have Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration Program or RLV-TD's

first version or first trial of hypersonic experiment during this year,".

ISRO was focusing more on the critical technologies and will continue to capitalise on the
technology spin-offs. Presently, ISRO is working on composite material, artificial limbs,
mentioned the chairman.
The Hindu
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Tue, Apr 14, 2015
Clamour for Net neutrality grows online
Social media has been flooded with posts on Net neutrality, demanding that service providers
treat all data online equally and not discriminate or charge differently based on user,
content, site, platform, or application.
While the debate has been going on at the global level for a long time, in India it was triggered
when the countrys largest operator Airtel in December announced plans to start charging
customers for VoIP services, such as Skype and Viber.
The debate gained national momentum when telecom regulator TRAI came out with a
consultation paper inviting user comments on the subject. In reply to this, over 1 lakh
emails were sent to the authority through the website savetheinternet.in.
People from all sections of society, including politicians, corporate leaders and actors, have come
out in support of the campaign.
Topics such as #SavetheInternet, #Netneutrality have been trending on social media sites such
as Twitter and Facebook.
The government has formed a six-member committee comprising Telecom Ministry officials
to examine the issue.
Internet was one of the finest creations of the human mind and it was the property of the entire
human race and not of any country or society.
Internet to become entirely global should have a link to local and when we talk of digital
inclusion it must be available to the underprivileged and [those] on the margins,
Airtel recently announced another initiative, Airtel Zero, an open marketing platform that
allows customers to access a variety of mobile applications for free, with the data charges being
paid by start- ups and large companies.
This too is considered to be against Net neutrality.
Countries like Chile, the Netherlands and Brazil have already adopted Net neutrality.
Even the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has backed Net neutrality, saying the
Internet should be treated as a public utility.

The Hindu
science & tech
Tue, Apr 14, 2015


Privileging telcos overnetizens

The sort of closed Internet that TRAI is proposing, in defiance of the principle of net neutrality,
is no longer on the discussion agenda in any country

With the fight for net neutrality reaching a fever pitch, the Competition Commission is
examining whether Indian telecom operators are violating the principle. Unfortunately, the
Telecom Regulatory Authority of Indias (TRAI) Consultation Paper on Regulatory Framework
for Over-the-Top (OTT) Services appears to propose only two choices: that we either accept
licensing of Internet services or compromise on net neutrality.

If TRAIs claims are accepted, any business that uses the Internet e-retail, media or health
care can potentially be regulated by TRAI as an OTT service. This is indeed regulatory
overreach on a grand scale.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are licensed to provide data services.

They transmit data packets generated by the users or, more precisely, by the users computers.
What is in the packets is treated as content video, audio, text or pure data and is generally
not subject to telecom regulations.

That is why we do not need a licence to create a website, provide a service through the Internet,
or an app for use on computers, tablets or mobile phones. These are not telecom services but

This could change if TRAIs definition of OTT services is accepted. By defining any application
or service that uses the Internet as an OTT, it becomes subject to TRAI regulation.

The issue is not whether TRAI would ask for licensing all websites or applications. It may
restrict licensing to only a few existing services.

For example, it may argue that only Skype (not Voice over Internet Protocol) and WhatsApp
(messaging service using the Internet) need licensing. The problem is that any website that offers
real time chat or conferencing is no different from Skype or WhatsApp.

For an open Internet The definition of the Internet as a bunch of OTT services that may need
licensing has the potential of creating a closed Internet.

The Internet has grown due to its open character, and what is called permission-less innovation.

Anybody can connect to the Internet and offer an application or a service, or provide a website
containing blogs and other content.

TRAI states: Telecom service providers offering fixed and mobile telephony are currently
being overwhelmed by online content, known as over-the-top applications and services.

If the rapid growth of data traffic is indeed overwhelming the telecom network, it could be
for two completely different reasons.

One is that telecom operators, despite making enough money, are not investing in upgrading
their infrastructure. This calls for the regulator to crack its regulatory whip on the operators.

The second reason is that the growth of data traffic is not generating adequate revenue for the
telecom operators. If this is so, we should ask why the rates for data services are low
considering TRAI has allowed the operators to set their own rates.

The telecom operators lobby has not offered any evidence that data services do not generate
enough revenue; instead figures show revenues growing at a dizzying pace.

In fact, when telecom companies want to raise money from investors, they present a rosy
picture of a booming data business and rising revenues. Companies that prepare reports for
investors such as Morgan Stanley or PricewaterhouseCoopers say much the same things.

even voice and SMS traffic in India is growing.


The recent high auction price of spectrum shows that the telecom sector has enough revenues.

If they claim their revenue is too low to build infrastructure, the claim can easily be shown up
as false. Hence, the argument on how much OTT vendors earn and why a part of it should go
to telcos.

The most cited case, Skype versus voice calls, uses fictitious figures of losses. Telecom
companies calculate losses by converting Skype call time to equivalent voice call value, as if all
people who use Skype now would actually make voice calls if Skype were not there.

TRAI has partially bought into this argument by calling Skype voice calls revenue foregone.
TRAI also states (P: 19): This phenomenon, namely, the growth of OTT apps providing voice
services has started to impact revenues of TSPs from voice services, which constitutes a major
portion of their revenues. This, again, is an assertion for which no data has been provided.
Yes, some drop has taken place in international calling.

But has it not been more than compensated by an increase in revenues from data services and
growing local calls?

Comparing SMSs on voice networks to equivalent services such as WhatsApp is also misleading.
Mobile services were originally designated as value-added services, while voice on landline was
considered a basic service.

When mobile services were merged into basic services, SMS also came in. The reality is that
telecom companies offer SMS, essentially a data service, at a very high price.

This penalises the lower-end users, who use basic 2G services; not high-end users who have
migrated to voice and data services and can use applications such as WhatsApp.

The issue is whether telecom companies can discriminate between packets based on private
agreements with specific Internet vendors. Simply speaking, the principle of net neutrality
demands that telecom service providers should not discriminate between data packets
based on source, ownership or content.

The principle is essential to maintain a level playing field on the Internet by ensuring all
content is equally accessible to the public.

Expanding the network If net neutrality is violated, telecom operators would have a perverse
incentive to not expand their infrastructure or bandwidth.

Once bandwidth is choked, bigger Internet players will be willing to pay network operators to
speed up their packets.

Net neutrality regulation, thus, provides an incentive to expand the network to relieve
congestion, rather than constrain the bandwidth for earning monopoly profits.

This was recognised most recently in the American Federal Communication Commissions
decision to classify Internet services as a public utility.

There are many ways in which TRAI can address the issue of monopoly, the regulatory concern
that it claims to be addressing.

It could regulate monopolies directly, or refer such issues to the Competition Commission.

It can also regulate the interconnection rates between external networks that connect to Indian

All Internet companies such as Google and Facebook use their home networks to connect to
Indian consumers, with servers located in their home jurisdiction. Higher delivery charges
would help create extra revenue for the Indian network operator.

Among regulators in India, TRAI has functioned relatively well. Though it failed to stop the 2G
scam, it did, at least, caution against it.

But the TRAI document in question is almost entirely based on the submissions of telecom
players. Indeed, the paper reads as if it has been drafted by the telecom companies, for the
telecom companies, to meet their greed-dictated needs.

The TRAI has sullied its relatively clean record with this shoddy document.

science & tech



Why cast the net?

The internet is too important to be hijacked by telecom operators.

When the Digital India programme was announced in July last year,

the transformational potential of the internet for governance and the government-citizen

this vision needed specific policy action. This includes an internet that is easily accessible,
affordable and free from intrusive government control.

It seemed almost self-evident that the next steps taken by the government would be to create
an enabling policy framework for Digital India.

This would include allowing the internet to grow without fetters or discrimination in access a
position referred to as net neutrality.

Trai, however, decided to throw up some surprises. Its recently released 118-page consultation
report on Regulatory Framework for Over The Top services (OTTs) takes a highly dubious
pro-telecom operator position.
It not only assumes the need for a regulatory framework, but also seems to advocate,that telecom
companies should be permitted to differentially price services (that they consider as
utilising bulk bandwidth), or slow down access, through various discriminatory practices.
Equal treatment? The internet is a network where all information and services are transmitted
as data packets that are identical in structure and cost. In other words, all data packets used by
consumers are treated equally by Telecom Service Providers (TSPs).
The companies proposing these discriminatory pricing are the existing big players namely
telecom companies, who would like to continue to be gatekeepers to the net and profit by doing
so, and some internet apps that would like to ensure that competition from new startup
technologies is blocked.
A few companies would like to control consumer choice. Consumers will either have to pay
additional, separate charges for each type of service, or will only be able to access certain
content at significantly lower speeds.
The report has several passages that betray the regulators disregard for objectivity. For instance,
there is a section that provides a detailed tabulation of the adverse impacts of the proliferation
of OTTs such as Skype on telecom operator revenues.
This is notwithstanding much data readily available in the public domain confirming that
telecom operators continue to earn healthy profits; besides, there is an alternative argument that
telecom operators actually benefit from the growth of OTTs. No regulator has the right to
prevent consumers from accessing innovation and choice because of adverse impacts of this
disruptive technology on an existing set of companies.
Choice matters Trai, therefore, seems to be completely oblivious to the adverse impact
of that regulating OTTs will have on consumers, or on internet-based startups. Worryingly,
Trai defines the major challenge by blatantly stating, In a non-level playing field, how can
such OTT app providers be brought within the ambit of the prevailing regulatory regime of the
country to ensure public safety and security of users? An undiscerning reader would be near
convinced that telecom operators are victim to OTT malpractice.
The growth of OTT services is simply a manifestation of the tremendous opportunity for
innovation provided by the internet. Businesses such as Flipkart, Alibaba and Snapdeal are all
successes supported by a neutral internet.
These services have widened consumer choice. Disruptive technologies are a norm in the
telecommunications sector this should not be the reason to deny consumers of choice. Our
digital policy ecosystem must encourage telecom operators, among others, to innovate.
Bandwidth and speed are the only means by which TSPs should be allowed to create new
pricing models. Content should not fall under their purview.
a free, open and accessible internet is crucial to innovation, connectivity and economic growth.


Net neutrality lies at the core of how consumers are able to access the internet and is
therefore crucial to the success of Digital India. There should be no conditions placed on
consumers for using OTT services, and absolutely no restrictions on the internet. The internet is
too important to let a few private telecom players decide what the rules will be for consumers!
Down to Earth
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Tue, Apr 14, 2015
Why do we needpatents?
There is no empirical evidence that patents serve to increase innovation and productivity

As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an

opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.

So wrote Benjamin Franklin, Americas founding father and man of many parts, in his
autobiography explaining why he had refused a patent for a more efficient open stove he had
invented in 1742.
It did not matter to Franklin that a London ironmonger, using his documents, tweaked the
machine, got a patent and made a small fortune out of it. It was not the only time others had
benefited from this polymaths inventions. Franklin never contested these, having no desire of
profiting by patents, and hating disputes.

This is not the case with most inventors, especially in the US which has made a fetish of patents.
Thomas Edison, for instance, had over 1,000 US patents. But there have been others who have
given freely of their ideas and inventions.

Like Tim Berners-Lee who invented the World Wide Web. Like Jonas Salk, who discovered the
polio vaccine and is famously reported to have said when asked who owned the patent: Well,
the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?

Well, a rather churlish biotech industry claims its a patent myth surrounding Salk; the vaccine
simply could not be patented because of the way research on it was funded.

Whatever the truth, a little later, Albert Sabin came up with an oral vaccine for polio, which some
aver is more effective, but he, too, did not seek a patent.

Unlike the US, Europe was not fanatical about patents in the previous centuries. In fact, there
was a strong campaign to abolish patents and this was effective in getting quite a few European
states, such as Holland, to dismantle their patent systems.

Switzerlands laws excluded patents for chemicals, pharmaceuticals and dyes till the early
years of the 20th century. This is said to be the genesis for Switzerlands modern and
innovative pharma industry. Influenced by the abolitionists, the Congress of German Economists
warned that patents of invention are injurious to common welfare. Patents then tended to be
viewed as anti-competitive and a covert form of trade protectionism.

The dominant voice is that of the pharma lobbies who insist it is vital to provide incentives for
research and reward those who come up with life-saving or life enhancing drugs.

We all need to hark back to history to understand there are alternative ways of discovering
and inventing medicines as the story of penicillin and polio vaccine show. Patents and
copyrights are not the optimum solution.

Far from being a solution it has turned into a curse for the software and telecom industries who
have been sucked into a morass of costly litigation and stultified research on account of patent
thickets on basic research.

These industries are screaming for a reform of the global patent system, particularly in the US.

But its a system so broken and messed up that the US Congress has been unable to set it right
despite many tries over the past decade.

Economists point out there is no empirical evidence that patents serve to increase innovation
and productivity, unless, of course, productivity is equated with the number of patents awarded.

One paper titled The Case against Patents says the US economy has neither seen a dramatic
acceleration in the rate of technological progress, nor a major increase in R&D expenditure.

Down to Earth science & tech CurrentAffairs

Tue, Apr 14, 2015
Sale of antimicrobials for food animals on a rise in US:FDA

USFDA data on the sale and distribution of medically important antimicrobials for foodproducing animals shows an increase of 20 per cent from 2009 to 2013

Medically important antimicrobials contributed to over 60 per cent of all antimicrobials sold
and distributed for food-producing animals in 2013.

The report which was released on April 10, 2015 also gives us insights into the extent of
antimicrobial use in the feed of food-producing animals in the US.

Nearly three-fourth of all the medically important antimicrobials that was sold and distributed
in the US for food animals in 2013 was routed through feed.

It also is to be noted that the consumption of antimicrobials via feed is a non-therapeutic

use of antimicrobials and aims at increased efficiency of feed or to facilitate increase in weight
gain in food- producing animals.

Non-therapeutic use of antimicrobials also includes the use of antimicrobials in water for
disease prevention and mass disease control.

The indiscriminate use of antimicrobials is recognised as one of the contributors to the

development of resistant bacteria, thus leading to the problem of antimicrobial resistance
which is a growing public health-concern across the world.

News reports suggest that civil organisations have criticised the indiscriminate use of
antibiotics and have called for more action, saying such use of antibiotics aids the
development of antibiotic resistance.

the practice of giving routine doses of antibiotics to animals is akin to giving antibiotics to your
kids before they head off to day care when what they really should be doing is washing their

India does not have data on antibiotic use. We should also make the reporting of antibiotics
produced by companies mandatory. Such data will be very useful in addressing the issue of
antimicrobial resistance.

Down to Earth science & tech CurrentAffairs

Mon, Apr 13, 2015
Caesarian sections should be performed only on case-by-case basis, saysWHO

Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh record very high rates of caesarian

With rates of caesarean sections increasing the world over, the World Health Organization
(WHO) has issued a statement discouraging the practice of aiming for target rates for such

WHO says caesarean sections must be performed only when medically necessarywhen
vaginal delivery might pose a risk to the mother or baby due to prolonged labour, foetal
distress, or because the baby is presenting in an abnormal position.

However, caesarean sections can cause significant complications, disability or death,

particularly in settings that lack the facilities to conduct safe surgeries or treat potential
complications, the statement says.

The international accepted standard is between 10 and 15 per cent for caesareans. WHO says that
while caesarean section rates of up to 10 per cent show a decrease in the number of maternal and
newborn deaths, there is no evidence that mortality rates improve when rates exceed 10 per cent.

These conclusions highlight the value of caesarean section in saving the lives of mothers and

There is still a need for more research on the impact of caesarean sections on womens
psychological and social well-being. Caesarean sections, due to their increased cost, can pull
resources away from other services in overloaded and weak health systems if performed at
high rates unnecessarily.

WHO proposes adopting the Robson classification as an internationally applicable caesarean

section classification system.

The Robson system classifies all women admitted for delivery into one of 10 groups based
on characteristics that are easily identifiable, such as number of previous pregnancies, whether
the baby comes head first, gestational age, previous uterine scars, number of babies and how
labour started.

Using this system would facilitate comparison and analysis of caesarean rates within and
between different facilities and across countries and regions.

Information gathered in a standardised, uniform and reproducible way is critical for

health care facilities as they seek to optimise the use of caesarean section and assess and
improve the quality of care, explains Temmerman.

We urge the healthcare community and decision-makers to reflect on these conclusions and
put them into practice at the earliest opportunity.

India records a high level of caesarean sections, at least in a few states. the caesarean section
delivery rate in India is 9.2 per cent. However, a substantial inter-state variation of caesarean
section exists.

The study found that the proportion of women who have undergone caesarean deliveries is the
highest in Kerala (31.8 per cent), followed by Andhra Pradesh (29.3 per cent) and Tamil Nadu
(23.2 per cent) and the lowest in Rajasthan and Jharkhand (4.2 per cent in both states). The study
was published in International Union for the Scientific Study of Population.

Down to Earth science & tech CurrentAffairs

Mon, Apr 13, 2015
What is net neutrality?

From projecting the problems of the grassroots, highlighting initiatives and innovations to
disseminating knowledge and engaging people for a cause, the Internet has been more than
just a service.
One of the main reasons why the facility has been so successful is that customers have free and
equal access to all websites, known as net neutrality.
According to netneutrality.in, a website run by a group of netizens, it is an idea that internet
service providers give their customers equal access to all lawful websites and services on the
Internet, without giving priority to any website over another.
Net neutrality is also the Internet's guiding principle that preserves netizens right to
communicate freely.

Why is the issue being raised now?

After being turned down in 2012, telecom company Airtel once again proposed in February
2014 that apps like WhatsApp, Skype, You Tube and Line among others should be regulated
as they consume more bandwidth.
This primarily means that Internet Service providers (ISPs) like Airtel want a share in the profits
that these apps and other websites are making.

Due to intense lobbying by telecom operators, in March 2015, Telecom Regulatory Authority
of India (TRAI) published a consultation paper [3] to analyse the implications of the growth of
Internet services/Apps/over-the-top content and consider whether or not changes are required in
the current regulatory framework.
The regulator is planning to allow them an extreme violation of net neutrality. If executed, this
will not only take away the freedom to access free Internet, but also prevent small
businesses from booming.
In a latest development, TRAI has recommended to strive for non discriminate availability of
Internet, says a report on IBN Live website.

Global developments on net neutrality

According to the New York Times, in the US, The Federal Communications Commission
recently adopted strong net neutrality rules that should prevent cable and phone companies
from creating fast and slow lanes on the Internet. This has ensured that all users will have
equal access to content on websites.
While activists in India are trying to save Internet from the clutches of corporate giants,
European Council, a body of 28 countries in the European Union, has adopted a proposal to
allow telecom companies to charge Internet businesses like Netflix and Google a fee to deliver
their content faster, thus paving a way for preferential treatment.
What can you do?

If TRAI amends regulations to suit companies, it is destined to lead to a situation where

some companies could form tie ups with ISPs to allow quicker access to their websites.
To prevent the discrimination of Internet content or users being charged differently based on
the content or website, savetheinternet.in, a voluntary group of netizens, has put forward a
template response to TRAIs consultation paper. It also allows users to edit their responses
before submitting them.
The Hindu
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Sun, Apr 12, 2015
Googles patent to putan end toTV, film spoilers online

Search giant Google has been granted a patent for a system that would spot and hide spoilers
about TV shows, books and movies from a users social media feeds until they are up to date.

Google was granted a patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office earlier this week for a
system and method for processing content spoilers.

The proposed filter would identify spoilers about TV shows, books and movies and remove them
from a users social media feeds.

Users can already manually change their social media settings to block specific words and
avoid spoilers. The new system, however, will not block every post about a certain show or book.

It will track all the episodes of a show that users have watched. It could then automatically
censor content in a users feed if the post is about an episode the user has not seen.

However, this depends on users either manually logging or opting in to having their viewing
tracked, similar to how Netflix currently tracks viewing and posts to connected social media
accounts, CNET reported.

The patent does not outline what social media accounts the system would filter or how Google
would integrate the system with social networks it does not own.

We hold patents on a variety of ideas some of those ideas later mature into real
products or services, some dont,
The Hindu
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Sun, Apr 12, 2015

'The "candidate drugs" for malaria, osteoporosis and diabetes were currently undergoing clinical

The Indian pharmaceutical sector would soon be showcasing candidate drugs for malaria,
osteoporosis and diabetes.

With further R&D, important breakthroughs could be on the horizon for these diseases, he
said following a visit to the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow, a wing of the
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was committed to making India one of the worlds leading
destinations for end-to-end drug discovery and innovation by 2020.

the drug laboratories under the CSIR are capable of backing up the Swasth Swachh Bharat

Our scientists are focussing on both infectious and lifestyle diseases. We are developing next
generation drugs, biologics, biosimilars, gene therapeutics, stem cell therapeutics, personalised
medicine and multifunctional nanomedicine,.

Indian R&D efforts in government laboratories like CSIR-CDRI, CSIR-Indian Institute of

Chemical Technology (CSIR-IICT, Hyderabad) and CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology
(CSIR-IICB, Kolkata) have a track record in making drugs for kala azar, filaria, leprosy
and tuberculosis available at affordable rates to the common man.

The candidate drugs for malaria, osteoporosis and diabetes were currently undergoing clinical
trials, he said, adding that the CSIR-CDRI were simultaneously carrying out Investigational New
Drug (IND) studies on lead molecules for fracture-healing, cancers, thrombosis, malaria and
hyperglycemia. Strengthening of the R&D ecosystem is the priority,

science & tech CurrentAffairs
Sat, Apr 11, 2015
Dr Harsh Vardhan Announces Imminent Drug Research Breakthroughs Says, Swasth Bharat
Abihyantobe Boosted by Enablers for Pharma R&D
candidate drugs for malaria, osteoporosis and diabetes.
further R&D, important breakthroughs could be on the horizon for effective panacea for these
Indian R&D efforts in government laboratories like CSIR-CDRI, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical
Technology (CSIR-IICT, Hyderabad), CSIR- Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (CSIR-IICB,
Kolkata), CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (CSIR-IIIM, Jammu), CSIR-Institute of
Microbial Technology (CSIR-IMTECH, Chandigarh) and CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory
(CSIR-NCL, Pune) have a track record in making drugs for Kala Azar, Filaria, Leprosy and
Tuberculosis available at affordable rates to the common man.
The candidate drugs are currently undergoing clinical trials. CSIR-CDRI is carrying out
Investigational New Drug (IND) studies on lead molecules for fracture-healing, cancers,
thrombosis, malaria and hyperglycemia.
scientists are focusing on both infectious and life-style diseases. developing next generation
drugs, biologics, biosimilars, gene therapeutics, stem cell therapeutics, personalised medicine
and multifunctional nanomedicine.
Recently, CSIR-IMTECH, Chandigarh has developed a clot specific streptokinase. CSIR-IIIM,
Jammu has discovered natural product-based potential medicine for rheumatoid arthritis. CSIRIICB, Kolkata has developed an herbal extract for the treatment of benign prostate hyperplasia.
I am certain that India has the potential of becoming a global pharmaceutical powerhouse and is
in the process of putting some key enablers in place.
These include giving the right incentives for R&D, forging alliances with the private sector and
keeping an open mind on suggestions for fiscal relief to the private sector so that its role in R&D
is enhanced,.
CSIR laboratories have the competencies for new drug discovery and development including
clinical trials, and has played a major role over the last six decades in the growth of

pharmaceutical industry and education in India.

the Prime Minister is committed to making India one of the world's leading destinations for endto-end drug discovery and innovation by 2020. Strengthening of the R&D ecosystem is the
He also emphasized that the people of India are expecting that CSIR laboratories would be
able to produce therapeutic and preventive measures for re-emerged infectious diseases like
Dengue, Chikunguniya, Encephalitis, Swine Flu as well as conditions like Cancer, Diabetes,
Osteoporosis, Hypertension, Depression and Ulcers.
Today, India ranks third in terms of volume of production with 10 percent share of the global
market by volume and 14th largest by value. India is often dubbed the Pharmacy of
Developing World.
that India still has a long way to go in Pharma R&D. Moreover, in India pharma needs to move
from a phase of manufacturing to innovation.
Government would soon set up the Biopharma Industry Incubator (BII) under the umbrella of
CSIR-CDRI, Lucknow. It would strive to build a new generation of enterprises in the health care
The S&T Ministry is also considering setting up Government Laboratory Practices (GLP)certified labs in CSIR-CDRI for complete range of Investigational New Drug (IND) studies. He
said the step would foster new drug development as well as shore up the financial bottom line of
the laboratory.
the formation of a National Centre for Laboratory Animals in the CSIR- CDRI new campus
conforming to national and international guidelines.
The new institution would serve as a referral centre for lab animal breeding and
experimentation for new drug development.

Down to Earth science & tech CurrentAffairs

Fri, Apr 10, 2015
ResearchersdevelopsingledoseEbolavaccine, call it TrojanHorse

To address any possible safety concerns associated with this vaccine, the team developed two
next generation candidate vaccines

The researchers of University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston, along with
clinical-stage biotechnology company Profectus BioSciences, have developed a single dose
Ebola vaccine. The treatment has been dubbed as Trojan Horse by the researchers.

The vaccine has been undergoing testing in the Galveston National Laboratory, the only fully
operational Biosafety Level 4 laboratory on an academic campus in the US.

The findings may pave way for the identification and manufacture of safer, single dose, high
efficiency vaccines to combat current and future Ebola outbreaks,

the possibility of helping develop a way to stop this deadly disease.

To develop the vaccine, the research team, according to a release by the UTMB, developed a
vaccine effective against Ebola Zaire strain (that was responsible for 2014 outbreak) with a
single dose in a nonhuman primate model.

This new vaccine employs a virus not harmful to humans, called vesicular stomatitis virus that
had a part of the Ebola virus inserted into it.

According to UNTB, the Trojan horse vaccine safely triggered an immune response against
Ebola Zaire.

To address any possible safety concerns associated with this vaccine, the team developed two
next generation candidate vaccines that contain further weakened forms of the vaccine.

Both of these vaccines produced an approximately ten-fold lower level of virus in the blood
compared to the first generation vaccine.

Meanwhile, amid reports that Ebola cases have declined in Guineaone of the three West
African countries affected by Ebolaand are lowest since May 2014, there are fears that the
virus may be spreading in the little towns and hamlets in the country.

The Ebola response is now concentrating on new hotspots,.

science & tech
CurrentAffairs Businessline
Thu, Apr 9, 2015
Scientists warming up to cold fusion, see potential in other nuclear energy

About thirty scientists from all over India met in Bengaluru to discuss the way forward in an
emerging cheap and clean source of energy, called low energy nuclear reactions, or simply
cold fusion.

there was a need to study low energy nuclear reactions more.

The objective of the meeting was to further study the phenomenon of cold fusion, devices
based on which are beginning to be commercialized elsewhere in the world.

believe that cold fusion has the potential to become the primary source of energy in the not-sodistant future.

Dr Srinivasan, who attended the Bengaluru meeting, said that one of the decisions taken at the
meeting was that four groups of institutions and scientists would get into cold fusion research
and there would be an informal oversight committee. Some of the institutions involved are the
Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), which, incidentally, was once headed by Dr
Baldev Raj, the IIT-Madras, and the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology.

What is cold fusion?

Just as energy (heat) is produced when a nucleus splits in the nuclear power plants that we have,
energy gets generated also when two nuclei merge.
But it requires enormous input energy to get them to merge, as they contain positively charged
particlesprotonsand same charge tend to move away, not to come close.
Therefore, to get nuclear happen at room temperaturescold fusionhas been thought to be
In 1989, two American scientistsMartin Fleischmann and Stanley Ponsconducted some
experiments and observed more heat given out than they could explain and inferred that the
excess heat was due to nuclear fusion reactions.
They became instant celebrities in the scientific world, but in a matter of weeks they got
branded as incompetent scientists, or even frauds, after thousands of others tried their
experiment and got no excess heat. Cold fusion was practically buried.
But the subject was roused again in 2011, when an Italian engineer called Andrea Rossi
unveiled his inventiona fist-sized device that produced more energy than it consumed, using
only nickel powder spiked with some chemical, and hydrogen as raw materials. He kept the name
of the chemical secret.
An outraged scientific community branded Rossi a charlatan, but the engineer proceeded
regardless and started selling his E-Cat machines and has scaled up their capacity to 1 MW.
But lately the world is being less cold towards cold fusion, thanks to a number of
experiments that proved that E-Cat-like devices work, though nobody, including Rossi, knows
a group of scientists performed independent third party tests on the E-CAT in FebruaryMarch 2014 at Lugano, Switzerland and the results were announced in October. report said that
the devices produced more heat than can be explained by chemical burning and conceded that
they had no convincing theoretical explanation. the report also said that the results were too
conspicuous not to be followed up.
Furthermore, several universities (Texas Tech University of the US and the Tohoku University of
Japan, to name two examples) are opening research divisions or forming committees to look into
cold fusion.

Next week, the 19{+t}{+h} International Conference on Cold Fusion (ICCF-19) will take place in
Italy. The ICCFs have been generally dismissed as meeting of believers but this time around
many potential investors, notably the Bill Gates Foundation is taking part in it.

The Hindu
science & tech Current Affairs
Wed, Apr 8, 2015
India registers record production of nuclear fuel

Nuclear Fuel Complex produces over 1,252 MT of uranium bundles, close to double the annual
fuel requirement.

In a major milestone for the nuclear industry, India has registered a record production of over
1,252 MT of uranium bundles, manufacturing close to double the annual fuel requirement of
atomic reactors in the country.

The production has also exceeded countrys annual fuel requirement of 650 MT for the
Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs), which means the country has surplus nuclear
fuel, for at least a few months.

The Hyderabad-based Nuclear Fuel Complex, which produces fuel for nuclear reactors in the
country, has produced over 30 per cent more fuel compared to its 961.023 MT production in

The news is a breather for the power reactors in the country, which for all these years had been
under- performing, primarily because of lack of fuel.

NFC, set-up with an initial production capacity of 100 MT per year, was augmented several
times to a capacity to 850 MT, to cater to the fuel requirement of all the 18 operating PHWRs
and the two Boiling Water Reactors at Tarapur.

The nuclear fuel production in the country has seen a steady increase over the last seven years.
A lot has been attributed to the Indo-U.S. nuclear agreement and the subsequent ones
with Nuclear Suppliers Group that made the process of acquiring uranium simpler.

India produces around 5,780 MW of nuclear power. Of this, 4,780 MW of electricity is generated
by fuel processed at the NFC. Fuel for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) unit 1
is provided by Russia, as per the bilateral agreement.
The Hindu
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Wed, Apr 8, 2015

A recent report of the Rajasthan State Human Rights Commission making far-ranging
recommendations to check highly fatal and debilitating silicosis, has once again drawn attention
towards the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to take measures to prevent it.

Silicosis is a fibrotic lung disorder caused by inhalation, retention and pulmonary reaction to
crystalline silica, as a result of exposure during mining, stone crushing and quarrying activities.

The most common form of silica is quartz.

Exceptionally high exposure of silica can cause silicosis within a month with a significant
impairment of lungs within few years.

The major silicosis prone industries are: stone quarries and crushers; quartz mining; foundries;
sand blasting; ceramics; gem cutting and polishing; slate and pencil; construction; mining; and
glass manufacturing.

As per the report of Indian Council for Medical Research (1999), about 30 lakh workers in India
are at a high risk of exposure to silica. Out of these, 17 lakh are in mining/quarrying activities,

6.3 lakh in glass and mica industry and 6.7 lakh in metals industry. In addition, 53 lakh
construction workers are also at the risk of silica exposure.

Experts say this number could be much more as detection is low and is often diagnosed and
treated for tuberculosis which aggravates the situation for the patients.

Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Karnataka are some of the worst
affected States. The potential victims are poor migrant workers employed as casual labourers
who suffer or die for lack of specialised treatment.

Way back in 2011, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) tabled a Special report to
Parliament of India on silicosis first of its kind and said failure of the government to provide
health facilities was a violation of human rights while suggesting that the government should
ensure health care to all workers employed at places prone to silica and earmark adequate
compensation to the families in the case of death.

The NHRC is of the view that the occupational hazard of silicosis is preventable if the
working conditions are property regulated and proper warning and protective equipments are
used. Once a worker or any other person is afflicted by silicosis it becomes a constitutional
obligation on part of the State to take appropriate short-term and long-term measures from the
point of view of providing medical facilities and rehabilitation of the victims, the report said.

The Commission has prepared a set of recommendations for prevention, treatment and
rehabilitation of silicosis patients including the use of modern technology to prevent the
disease, regular health check-ups for workers whether regular, contractual or daily wagers
at places where they are exposed to silica and even linking silica treatment with the TB
Control Programme.

In addition to suggesting legislative protection for silicosis patients, the special report had also
recommended automatic compensation for the victims and social security cover to those at risk.
Further, it had called for amending legal provisions like the Mines Act, Factories Act,
Workman's Compensation Act and the ESI Act to bring under their purview those at risk of
silicosis and stricter implementation of the existing laws.

However, there has been very little implementation of these recommendations as well as the
existing laws, both at the Centre and the State level, putting lakhs of workers employed in these
hazardous jobs at risk.
science & tech
CurrentAffairs Businessline
Wed, Apr 8, 2015
A digital revolution is quietly under way

Technology is the new normal, as some remote villages show. A multilingual thrust will create
a large talent pool

Brand India and Digital India have captured the imagination of the people. Akodara, a tiny
village in North Gujarat, is already on its way to making the governments vision a reality.

With a population of just 1,145, the village has introduced a digitised curriculum in school.
Teachers use audio-video content and digital boards in the anganwadis. The villagers encourage
girls to undertake skill development programmes that help in understanding and learning office

Akodara has also created a cashless ecosystem in which shops, merchants and ordinary villagers
engage in card transactions.

Elsewhere, in the tiny hamlet of Chanduali in Rajasthan, the children are all excited about the
internet and connecting on Facebook with their laptops!

Clearly, what started as a visionary notion once, is now the new normal! The government has
taken a step in the right direction to end the huge divide between rural and urban India, and the

digital haves and have-nots.

Industry studies such as Mary Meekers Internet Trends 2014 suggest that over the last one year
alone, India has witnessed a 27 per cent growth in internet users compared to the global 10 per

While the report pegs the current user base at 154 million, it points to the fact that only 13 per
cent of India is connected. If we take a look at the bigger picture, India is still an emerging

Big leap forward

Technology is clearly at the forefront of a revolution that promises to bridge the digital
divide in the country through data and telecom networks, enabling wireless connectivity and
creating 1.7 crore direct and 8.5 crore indirect jobs.
As technology leads the way towards economic progress, stable governance, inclusive and
accessible healthcare, education and citizen services, creating an enabling environment is a
must. For this to happen, companies need to focus on technology for governance, and
technology for empowerment.
Focus on innovation, not pricing : Much of the digital gap can be bridged if technology
is made affordable. We will need to move up the value chain, focusing on innovation and
creating new products and solutions rather than focusing on pricing strategies.
Increase investments in technology and enhanced PPP : Dedicated investments are sure to hit
the sweet spot with consumers, thereby boosting greater technology adoption.
In fact, organisations such as MAIT are already working hand-in-hand with the government
to forge efficient network systems, build digital super highways and integrate technology into
traditional systems. More such partnerships are critical to enrich and accelerate the
implementation of Digital India.
Weave in multi-lingual capabilities : India is a diverse and multicultural country. With
electronic manufacturers and operating systems incorporating voice capabilities and linguistic
search capabilities, education can receive a comprehensive boost.Imparting education with
technology built-in with multilingual capabilities would help address the skills challenge and
create an industry-ready talent pool.
Leverage technology for better governance : Integrating traditional systems into modern
systems will simplify various aspects of governance be it building an efficient public
distribution system, automating work, transforming the urban- rural living environment or
delivering better healthcare.
This in turn will boost the existing programmes of the government such as Aadhaar, the Central
Monitoring System, Netra, and Natgrid which are helping inclusive development and growth.
Technology will act as a critical leveller to bolster these programmes, thus building the bridge
between the government and the citizen.
It is clear that while technology giants and businesses continue to take big strides across the
globe, in India, they can play a strong and significant role in transforming India into a global
knowledge hub.
Down to Earth
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Tue, Apr 7, 2015
ADB, Japan to help countries tap space technologytofightnaturaldisasters

Grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction will be used to train government, community
officials and volunteers in Armenia, Bangladesh, Fiji, and the Philippines

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan are all set to help developing countries in Asia
and the Pacific region tap the latest technology in a bid to help them respond to natural
disasters quickly and effectively.

An US $ 2 million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR), administered by the
ADB, will be used to train government and community officials as well as local volunteers in

Armenia, Bangladesh, Fiji, and the Philippines to use state-of-the-art space-based technology
and sophisticated tools for disaster prevention and planning. These countries will act as pilots
for the wider adoption of the technology across the entire region.

JFPR was established in May 2000 to provide grants for projects aimed at poverty reduction and
social development activities.

Use of technology in disaster prevention

The use of space technology, including satellite-based systems like the Global Positioning System
(GPS,) for responding to natural disasters has grown considerably over the recent years. But
many developing countries still lack adequate funds and the expertise to adopt new technologies
which can supplement their existing systems of sending out early warnings.
Countries which are vulnerable to catastrophes need more information-based disaster risk
management and response tools to prepare better before disasters strike, and to respond better
after earthquakes, floods or typhoons hit, Yusuke Muraki, infrastructure specialist with ADBs
regional and sustainable development department, said.
Space-based technology can help these pilot countries improve their resilience in an efficient,
sustainable way with reliable and timely disaster-related data.

How will the project work?

The technical assistance project will train government agencies and local communities in the
selected countries to use OpenStreetMap.
It is a community-based digital world mapping platform and mobile phone application
which allows collection of information for disaster risk planning.
Combining satellite-based hazard maps with existing local government maps of vulnerable areas
will help in the identification of potential disaster locations precisely, according to the report.
Down to Earth
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Mon, Apr 6, 2015
Countries vow towipeout sheepand goat plaguegloballyby2030

The deadly animal disease causes a loss of US $2billion annually and has put livelihood of
millions of poor at risk in 70 countries of Asia and Africa

The authorities from 15 countries came together to take a pledge to eradicate devastating
animal disease Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) which mainly affects sheep and goat
across the world, especially Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa.

If it happens successfully, then it would be second deadliest animal disease to get eradicated.
Before this, rinderpest was eradicated from the world in 2011.
According to United Nations food agency Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), PPR is
estimated to cause over US $2 billion in losses each yearmostly in Africa, Asia and the Middle
East and its elimination will improve food and nutritional security for billions of consumers
and especially the more than 300 million vulnerable households who keep sheep and goats in the
affected regions.
Ministerial delegations (along with more than 300 participants from across the continents) and
representatives of regional and international organisations agreed to a plan drawn up by FAO
and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and presented at a meeting organised by
the two institutions with the Government of Cote d'Ivoire
What is PPR?
PPR is caused by a virus that can kill as many as 90 per cent of the animals it infects within days.
After a rapid expansion over the past 15 years, the disease is now present in around 70
It is also related to rinderpest, the cattle plague that FAO and OIE declared as eradicated in 2011,
thereby ending a primary cause of famine and unrest in recent centuries.
The 2.1 billion small ruminants in the world 80 percent of which live in affected regionsare
critical assets for poor rural households in developing countries. They provide quality protein,

milk, nutrition, fertilizer, wool and fibre as well as income opportunities and financial
According to the press release, if adequate resources are coordinated at all levels then PPR can
be eradicated in half the time it took to eradicate rinderpest. For its complete eradication, strong
political commitment from national government and effective engagement with veterinary
services and rural communities is needed.
"Eradication of PPR is not only within reach, but also in our hands.
mobilise public and private components of national veterinary services worldwide to
influence our strategy," "Improving animal health is our duty and our passion."

Moreover, the campaign will produce very significant collateral benefits, both by boosting the
goods and services of the national veterinary systems that can control other livestock diseases
such as brucellosis or foot-and-mouth disease, and because eradication of the PPR threat will
unleash greater investment in the sector, improve nutrition, and secure people's livelihoods.
According to the international health agency, demand for meat and milk from small ruminants
in Africa is expected to rise by 137 per cent from 2000 to 2030, and even more in Asia. It is the
diseases that cripple the efficiencies in reaching these needs.
Down to Earth
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Mon, Apr 6, 2015
Pesticideandantibioticusethreatenfood safetyinIndia

Pesticide and antibiotic use threaten food safety in India

While WHO focuses on food-borne diseases on the occasion of World Health Day, Delhi-based
Centre for Science and Environment expands the scope of food safety to include other local
factors that make food unsafe for consumption Safe food and health are strongly linked.
To highlight the importance of this link, the World Health Organization has chosen food safety
as the theme of this years World Health Day, celebrated every year on April 7.
Unsafe food is the reason behind more than 200 diseases, many of which lead to the deaths of
several thousand adults and children around the world.
Ensuring food safety is a tough challenge in a large and complex country like India.
Adulteration of several food items is regularly reported from different parts of country. A
case in point is the adulteration of milk with water and detergents in most states. The water used
for diluting milk could be contaminated with bacteria or virus, while detergents are toxic
to humans.
Pesticide use and management are largely unregulated in India. Food contaminated with
pesticide residues is linked with long-term health effects such as endocrine disruption, birth
defects and cancer.
Besides raw agriculture produce, pesticides have been found in packaged food products such as
soft drinks and bottled water.
So rampant is their use that they have been found in human tissues, blood and even breast milk.
Unregistered pesticides and those with no set maximum limits are being used. Waiting periods
are not known or not followed in many cases.
Their usage is largely influenced by the industrys marketing initiatives due to less effective
farm extension services and limited coherence between government institutions at the Centre
and in the state. Indiscriminate use of antibiotics for non-therapeutic reasons such as growth
promotion and mass disease prevention is a common practice in intensive industrialised farm
settings in the country.
Residues of antibiotics and drug-resistant bacteria can get transferred to humans through
contaminated food. Drug resistance, which is linked with the practice of using antibiotics,
makes food-borne illnesses difficult to treat. Most bacteria which cause food-borne illnesses
such as E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter are already found to be multi- drug resistant in the
Microbiological contamination of street food is a concern. On the other hand, the most
common replacement of street food is processed and packaged food, which is laden with
chemical additives used or generated during processing and packaging.

Long-term risks of many of these additives are still not known. Besides, ultra-processed junk
foods are also known to be high in salt, sugar and fats, including trans fats.
Considering their established linkages with non-communicable diseases such as diabetes,
obesity and heart disease, it would be more than appropriate to consider these foods as unsafe
Another challenge is that ultra-processed junk food and other pre-packaged foods are cheap and
more easily available than freshly prepared foods, fruits and vegetables. This is due to
increasing industrial food production practices, transition in food consumption habits,
fragmented food industry characterised by huge number of micro and small food operators,
and a newly set up food safety authority. This becomes more challenging in India as a large
proportion of the population is undernourished and unaware about the very concept of food
The connection between food and health (or disease in this case) is less understood. India
can no longer afford to remain torn between providing food and safe food to all. Safe food
is a must. Recommendations of CSE Strengthen the implementation and enforcement of the
Food Safety and Standards Act (FSS).
Set financial and legal penalties to act as deterrents. Apply procedures and practices of product
approval, registration and licensing of food business operators to facilitate better enforcement
of the law of the land. Improve food testing laboratory infrastructure and skills. It will also
help identify and address food-safety emergencies.
Set scientific and internationally accepted limits for chemicals or determinants of unsafe food.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) should set maximum residual
limits for antibiotic residues in chicken and other food-producing animals.
Also, set and implement a stringent limit for trans fats in hydrogenated oils at 5 per cent.
Prioritise training, education and awareness of all stakeholders.
Mass communication efforts and initiatives are the need of the hour. Emphasise appropriate food
labelling to inform consumers better.
Set a national level disease surveillance and public alert system.
Domestic food and international trade policies should facilitate easy and cheap availability of
freshly prepared food, fruits and vegetables in the country.
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Mon, Apr 6, 2015
SpeechbythePresidentofIndia,ShriPranab Mukherjee at the presentation of National
Geoscience Awards
1. These Awards were instituted in 1966 as the National Mineral Awards with the objective to honour

and recognize individual and teams of scientists for their extraordinary achievements in the field of
fundamental or applied geo-sciences, mining and allied areas.
2. Over time, the scope of these Awards was widened to accommodate new and relevant fields of geo-

scientific development. In 2009, it was enlarged into the National Geo-science Awards to foster
further research in Geo-sciences.
3. the Ministry of Mines for this initiative. It is heartening to note that these prestigious Awards not

only recognize lifetime contributions but also take cognizance of the outstanding efforts of young
4. Geo-science is a comprehensive branch of science that deals with the planet Earth.
5. The phenomena that make Earth the most magnificent spectacle of nature are diverse. The study
of geo-sciences enables mankind to decipher the interplay of various forces of nature. This important
science stream helps us to unravel the mystery of the origin and dynamism of the earth, the oceans,
earthquakes, volcanoes, river systems and the like. It also contributes to our growing understanding of
the evolution of life on this planet.
6. Geo-science is an old discipline. Since ages, it has defined the trajectory of human civilizations and

their transitions. The findings within the domain of this scientific field have shaped the Stone Age,
Copper Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age.
7. More recently, it has helped build the foundation of the modern industrial world - be it spaceship or

aircraft, cell phone or computer, nuclear devise or missile system.

8. Outcomes that have emerged from geo-scientific research have contributed to scientific progress in

no small measure.
9. India, with a unique geological diversity, has played a significant role in the evolution of geo-sciences.
10. The concepts developed in our country on Gondwanaland, Charnockites, Carbonatites,
Tectonics, Earthquakes and ore deposits in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century have been
instrumental in the growth of this vast discipline.
11. A noteworthy development in the 1890s India has been the introduction of petrological
microscope for the study of rocks for the first time ever.
India has a rich heritage of geological research work.


The Geological Survey of India, established in 1851, is the second oldest amongst such
organizations in the world. Over the years, it has developed a huge depository of knowledge in diverse
fields of geo-science. It has helped produce a large pool of talented geo-scientists who have left an
indelible mark in different realms from the lofty Himalayas to the abyss of the oceans, the scorching
deserts, the remote forests and the freezing Arctic.

This apex organization has spawned a number of academic organizations, research institutes
and exploration agencies.
15. Indias mineral and mining sector faces an acid test for sustaining the growth potential of
our economy.
16. Our mineral endowment poses both a challenge and an opportunity for geo-scientists. The
Government is committed to promote research and development in this area. The geo-scientists should
evolve an efficient work plan for development, conservation and augmentation of these precious
mineral resources.

The adverse impact of ecological degradation and climate change has emerged as a major
concern the world over. No part of the globe is today immune from the menace of environmental
disaster. Our nation, too, has bore the brunt of a series of natural calamities in the recent times. They
have resulted in a severe loss of life and property. The occurrence of many of these disasters is
attributed to human interference with the natural balance. There is, therefore, a need for more
objective research by the geo-scientific community in the field of disaster management to mitigate
environmental hazards and ensure greater resilience to such adversities.
18. Our geo-scientific organizations and other institutes have, over the last few decades, invested
heavily in analytical and instrumental infrastructure. By making good use of these instruments, our
scientists should accomplish significant outcomes to shape geo-science of the future. James Hutton,
who lived in the eighteenth century and is considered the father of modern geology, had said and I
quote: In matters of science, curiosity gratified begets not indolence but new desires (unquote).
The Hindu
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Sun, Apr 5, 2015
LHC cranked up, to reach into the unknown

CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, reported that particle beams were
successfully pushed around the LHC.

CERN scientists restarted their Big Bang Large Hadron Collider (LHC) on Sunday in a bid to
probe into the dark universe they believe lies beyond the visible one.

CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, reported that particle beams were
successfully pushed around the LHC in both directions after a two-year shutdown for a major
refit described as a Herculean task that doubled its power and its reach into the unknown.

But it will be two months before particle collisions mini-versions of the Big Bang primordial
blast that brought the universe into being 13.8 billion years ago begin and at least a year
more before any results can be expected.

Study of many billions of collisions in the LHCs first run from 2010 to 2013 produced
proof of the existence of the Higgs boson by 2012 and its linked force field, a long-sought

mechanism that gives mass to matter.

But that was part of the 40-year-old Standard Model of how the universe is believed to work at
the level of the fundamental particles that make up everything in it, including life.

Finding dark matter With its capacity to smash particles together at almost the speed of light
and at a collision energy twice that of its first run, scientists hope that the revamped LHC will
produce evidence of what has been dubbed New Physics.

Among elements of this concept are the dark matter thought to make up some 96 per cent of
the stuff of the universe while being totally invisible, and super-symmetry, or SUSY, under
which all visible particles have unseen counterparts.

If I had to bet on what we will find, I would go for SUSY, said Oliver Buchmueller, a scientist
on one of the four machines around the ring that records each collision. But we could also find
something very, very unexpected, he added.

This is what makes life on the energy frontier so exciting.

But CERN will only gradually move towards applying the full energy now within the power of
the LHC, mindful of a helium leak in 2008 that forced postponement of the machines first run
for two years, and an electrical fault that put off Sundays start-up, originally set for last month,
by two weeks.

The Hindu science & tech CurrentAffairs

Sun, Apr 5, 2015
Large HadronCollidertostart upafter2-year shutdown

Scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, were preparing to
shoot the first particle beams on Sunday.

The worlds biggest particle accelerator

Scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, were preparing to
shoot the first particle beams on Sunday through the Large Hadron Colliders 27-km tunnel,
beneath the Swiss- French border near Geneva.

The collider was instrumental in the discovery of the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle that
had long been theorised but never confirmed until 2013. Scientists are promising nearly twice
the energy and more violent particle crashes this time around.
Down to Earth
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Thu, Apr 30, 2015
Most nations in the world have no plan to fight antimicrobial resistance: WHO
First- of-its-kind report shows even surveillance of antibiotic resistance is very poor
An assessment by the World Health Organization (WHO) of its member countries shows that
three- fourths of them have no system in place to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR) [2] in
The reportWorldwide country situation analysis: response to antimicrobial resistance
released on Wednesday, shows only 34 countries out of the health associations 133 members
have a national plan to fight AMR.
The surveillance of antimicrobial resistance is poor in many countries, the sale of antimicrobial
drugs without prescription is widespread and there is limited public awareness on the issue, the
report adds.
The WHO report takes a look at country-level strategies to combat drug resistance in human
beings. The survey, which was conducted in 133 countries across all the six WHO regions in 2013
and 2014, is a first-of-its kind which captures governments assessments of their strategies and
systems to combat AMR.
Global action plan drawn up
The report was released after WHO developed a global draft action plan to combat AMR. The

global draft action plan has been submitted to the World Health Assembly, which will convene in
May 2015.
The report assesses each WHO region on a number of parametersnational plans and other
strategies, surveillance and laboratory capacity, access to quality-assured antimicrobial
medicines, use of antimicrobial medicines, public awareness and infection prevention and
control programmes.
In WHOs South-East Asia Region, which consists of 11 member states including India, five states
have a national plan and six are armed with policies to fight AMR.
All the 11 nations in the region published progress reports in the previous five years. These states
have also collected surveillance data on AMR. Antimicrobial medicines are available without a
prescription in seven of these states and five had conducted campaigns on antimicrobial
resistance for public information, the WHO report shows.
Indias poor progress report
India introduced a National Policy for Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance in 2011 and
the next year launched a five year programme to contain the health problem which has
become a global pandemic now.
But, as of last year, when Delhi non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) released a
report revealing the presence of antibiotic residues in chicken, the National Program in
Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance had shown little progress even after two years after its
As per information with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), only 10 labs across
India had been signed on to monitor AMR as of last year. NCDC is the nodal agency for
implementing the surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in the country and reports to the
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
India was one of the few countries which did not provide national-level resistance data to
WHOs Antimicrobial Resistance: global report on surveillance, 2014.
Monitoring of AMR is conducted sporadically across the country by individual laboratories and
medical colleges.
Amit Khurana, the programme manager at CSEs Food Safety and Toxins Programme, says
though the WHO report gives a high-level overview of the global preparedness to handle the
crisis of antimicrobial resistance, the report does not talk about the status of policy,
infrastructure and manpower in a particular country.
CSE also points out that antibiotics which were unlabelled can still be purchased without
prescription. Until last year, there was no action plan on AMR with institutional framework and
responsibilities with stated goals or timelines. If there is a progress report on Indias action on
combating AMR, it is not available in the public domain. Little public awareness has been
created on antimicrobial resistance in the past few years.
AMR is a public health concern threatening the world today. The misuse of antibiotics in
humans and animals aids in the development of drug resistance. Antibiotics are used for nontherapeutic purposes in the production of food animals. They are fed to poultry and food
producing animals for growth promotion and disease prevention.
While the WHO report does not address antimicrobial use in animals, it mentions that a future
survey will be conducted on AMR and animal health with the Organisation for Animal Health
and the Food and Agriculture Organization.
information on animal use of antibiotics is not mentioned in the WHO report. However,
India, as we know, needs to cover a lot of ground in its fight against antimicrobial
resistance,. As of now there is no information on how much antibiotic is consumed by humans
and animals in India and the extent of spread of antibiotic resistance. We are yet to control
misuse and overuse of antibiotics and do not have standards for antibiotic residues in food
products such as chicken,
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Thu, Apr 30, 2015
6 more satellites are planned to belaunched during 2015-16
6 more satellites are planned to be launched during 2015-16
6 more satellites are planned to be launched during 2015-16. These are two Communication
satellites GSAT-6 & GSAT-15; three Navigation satellites IRNSS-1E, IRNSS-1F & IRNSS-1G; and

one Space science satellite ASTROSAT.

In addition, it is also planned to launch 13 more satellites from four countries using Polar
Satellite Launch Vehicle.
Antrix Corporation Ltd., the commercial arm of Department of Space is already marketing
remote sensing data (images) from Indian Remote Sensing satellites in the global market
through establishment of International Ground Stations and reseller network.
As on April 2015, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched 74 satellites. Out of
these, 7 satellites failed to reach the orbit due to launch failure and 3 satellites failed in orbit.
In addition, ISRO has successfully launched 40 foreign satellites from 19 countries and 4 micro &
nano satellites built by students of Indian Universities using Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
This information was given by MoS in the Prime Ministers Office and Minister of State in the
Ministry of Personnel, PG & Pensions, Dr Jitendra Singh in written reply to an unstarred question in
the Rajya Sabha today.
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Thu, Apr 30, 2015
India ranks 13th in terms of electricity generationfromnuclearsource
India ranks 13th in terms of electricity generation from nuclear source
There are thirty one countries including India in the world which generate electricity from
nuclear source. According to the data published in 2014, by Power Reactor Information
System (PRIS) of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), India ranked at 13th
position in terms of generation.
However, it stood at 7th position in terms of number of reactors in operation country-wise
The current installed nuclear power capacity is 5780 MW, which is expected to increase to 10080
MW on progressive completion of projects under commissioning/ construction by 2019. The
Government has accorded sanction for two more projects with a total capacity of 3400 MW. More
nuclear power projects based both on indigenous technologies and with international cooperation
are planned in future.
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Wed, Apr 29, 2015
National Supercomputing Mission
There are Nine (9) supercomputers from India that figured in the list of top 500
supercomputers according to the 44th edition of TOP 500 list, released in November 2014
(released twice-yearly), of the worlds most powerful supercomputers.
The Cabinet has recently approved the National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) with a total
outlay of Rs.4500 crore for a period of 7 years.
The mission would be implemented jointly by Department of Science and Technology (DST)
and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY).
The mission is driven with the aim of consolidating various ongoing efforts into a nationally
coordinated collaborative programme involving developers and users of supercomputing
systems as well as academic and research institutions along with effective collaborative,
governance and monitoring mechanisms to build culture of supercomputing for solving
complex R&D problems and designing solutions addressing various country specific
requirements for scientific, strategic and societal applications. One of the deliverables would be
a grid connecting 70 supercomputers located in R&D Institutions, Universities and the 1 million
core cloud using National Knowledge Network (NKN).
The National Supercomputing Mission would be an enabler for the Digital India vision of the
Government by making available huge data storage space and linking systems together. The
mission envisages manufacturing of supercomputing systems in India and may play a lead role in
Make in India vision.
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Wed, Apr 29, 2015
MoU signed between ISRO and DoLR for development of Web Geo Portal and Mobile
App for monitoring of IWMP watersheds through Bhuvan Test firing of cryogenic engine
depicts the Honble Prime Ministers vision of Make in India: Dr Jitendra Singh
The Department of Space and Department of Land Resources (DoLR), Ministry of Rural

Development signed an MoU on development of Web Geo Portal Shrishti and Mobile App
Drishti for Monitoring of IWMP watersheds through Bhuvan in New Delhi today. The MoU
was signed by Dr. Sandeep Dave, Joint Secretary, Department of Land Resources and Dr. V K
Dadhwal, Director, NRSC in the presence of Union Minister for Rural Development, Panchayati
Raj, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Chaudhary Birender Singh and the Minister of State for
Development of North Eastern Region (Independent Charge), Prime Ministers Office,
Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Space,
Dr. Jitendra Singh.
The National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), ISRO in partnership with DoLR is designing and
developing the required technological interventions for the monitoring and evaluation of
Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) watersheds through the Bhuvan GeoWeb portal
. In addition, a Mobile Application
DRISHTI has also been developed that will integrate field level activities and their monitoring with
Bhuvan portal.
The Government of India has been implementing the erstwhile Integrated Watershed
Management Programme (IMWP), now the Watershed Component of Pradhan Mantri Krishi
Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) since 2009-10.
The activities of the programme include ridge area treatment, drainage line treatment, soil and
moisture conservation, rain water harvesting, nursery raising, afforestation, horticulture, pasture
development, livelihoods for asset less persons etc.
A total of 8214 projects covering 39.07 million ha have been sanctioned in 28 States upto 201415. Considering the vastness and diversity of the activities undertaken in the programme, use of
space technology is very apt for monitoring and evaluation of such a programme.
the recent crisis of floods in Jammu and Kashmir, when the state was cut off from other parts of
country, it is this technology that came to their help.
ISRO is also working with other ministries including Ministry of Human Resource
Development (HRD), Earth Sciences, Water Resources etc and helping these ministries to improve
their efficiency with the help of space technology.
In Human Resource Development Ministry, more than 80 tele education networks have been set
up with the help of ISRO. The ISRO is also engaged with various ministries regarding their
requirements of space technology for good governance.
The Minister said that for any technology to be successful, it should have social applications along
with the economic viability, only then the technology can sustain in the long-term.
ISROs achievement of test firing the indigenous cryogenic engine as a step towards fulfillment
of Honble Prime Ministers vision of Make in India.
Now India is in the position to launch heavy satellites on its own and need not depend on foreign
countries for assistance.
ISRO for this work and quoted it as an exercise of national importance and said that it will be
very useful for watershed management in the country.
science & tech CurrentAffairs Tue, Apr 28, 2015
Campaign for Preventing Childhood Diarrhoea
Under National Health Mission, Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight (IDCF) was observed
from 28th July to 8th August, 2014 for control of deaths due to Diarrhoea across all states AND
Under National Health Mission, Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight (IDCF) was observed
from 28 th July to 8th August, 2014 for control of deaths due to Diarrhoea across all states AND
The activities under IDCF mainly included- awareness generation activities, diarrhoea
management service provision, establishing ORS-Zinc demonstration sites, ORS distribution by
ASHA through home visits, detection of undernourished children and their treatment, promotion
of appropriate Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices by ASHA and establishing
IYCF corners.
Around 1.9 crore under-five children were benefitted and prophylactic ORS packets were

distributed to them with counselling for care during diarrhoea by the ASHAs. The
measures taken by the Government for management of childhood diarrhoea are given
below: I.
Early detection of cases from community with provision of primary care with ORS and Zinc
dispersible tablets and referral to facilities for appropriate treatment by the health workers
trained in Integrated management of Neonatal and Childhood Illnesses (IMNCI) II. Health,
hygiene and nutrition education to the mothers at Village health and Nutrition Days
Observation of Integrated Diarrhoea Control Fortnight (IDCF) for mass awareness
generation on prevention and control of diarrhoea, service delivery provisions along with
information, education and communications on appropriate Infant and Young Child feeding
practices. IV.
Surveillance activities to detect outbreaks of Diarrhoea through Integrated Disease Surveillance
Programme (IDSP) are also carried out.

science & tech CurrentAffairs
Tue, Apr 28, 2015
International Conference on Low Temperature Science and Biotechnological Advances in New Delhi
A four-day International Conference on Low Temperature Science and Biotechnological
Advances was inaugurated on 27th April 2015 in New Delhi. Dr S Ayyappan, Secretary, DARE
& DG, ICAR inaugurated the conference which would attempt to assess the present status and
to formulate future plans on low temperature science and biotechnology in various Asian
countries and in other continents.
In his inaugural address Dr Ayyappan said, this is a unique opportunity of having an
international event on cryobiology for the first time in Asia to bring together the research
leaders of diverse disciplines working on crops, veterinary, aquatic species, microbial
biotechnology and medical sciences.
The Conference was organised by ICAR-NBPGR and National Academy Agricultural Sciences,
India in collaboration with Society for Low Temperature Biology (SLTB), UK and Royal Botanic
Gardens (RBG), Kew, UK.
Dr. Maurizio Lambardi from National Research Council of Italy who is the immediate past chair
of SLTB co-chaired the inaugural session. Prof. R.B. Singh, immediate past president, NAAS and
Dr. J.S. Sandhu (DDG, Crop science) gave their remarks as Guests of Honour.
Plant cryopreservation: Scale, Scope and Hope.
During Conference session on Stem Cells and Animal Tissue Biobanking, would be highly
informative for medical doctors and researchers working on stem cells preservation and their
therapeutic use. Medical doctors are also participating who would present their research
work through lectures and posters.
There is a session on microbes as services of cryopreserved microbial cultures are essential for
research for understanding the interactions between microbes and plants. There is immense
metabolic diversity of the microorganisms and have varying intrinsic capacity to cope up with
sudden osmotic and temperature stresses.
Cryopreservation is a standard technique for different types of microbial preservation and it
needs the use of cryoprotectants, different rates of freezing, etc. State-of- the art in optimization
of preservation conditions would be analysed.
Throughout the world most of the reputed microbial resource centers have adopted the
cryopreservation technology. Using glycerol as a cryoprotectant, to date, over 4000 species
belonging to 700 genera have been successfully cryo-preserved. A scientific dialogue on
these aspects at the Conference would immensely benefit the researchers.
The worlds population is projected to be about 9.2 billion in 2050. This would be needed to be
fed with sufficient and nutritious food.
However, due to climate change agricultural production is not coping up. Abiotic stress factors
such as heat, cold, drought represent key elements which retard the food production. Cold
stress is a major environmental factor that limits the agricultural productivity of plants in hilly
areas. Intensive discussions on these issues would be held during the conference.
Under the field of Aquaculture, cryopreservation has been successfully achieved for sperm of

many fish species mainly on commercially important ones. Advances in research on

cryopreservation of oocytes and embryos of fish species are still in infancy and need discussion
for additional studies.
Low temperature biology in animal sciences especially related to endangered and threatened
species is steadily gaining importance. These species are often difficult to breed both in
captivity and under natural conditions.
The preservation of valuable breeds using assisted reproductive technologies needs further
studies and hence cryopreservation of biological materials from such species holds promise.
science & tech
CurrentAffairs Businessline
Mon, Apr 27, 2015
Digital Indias linguisticschallenge
In order to dismantle information hierarchies, both voice and data should be easily available in
multiple languages
A recent research report by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) indicated that there
are 935.4 million mobile connections in India out of which nearly 548 million were from urban
India and the rest are from rural.
And according to I-Cube 2014, India has about 159 million internet users as of October 2014. Of
this 119 million were from urban India and rest 40 million were from rural India. There has
been a growth of 45 per cent from October 2013.
So, while India is expected to have 500 million internet users by 2017, a lot of the growth is
dependent on getting the non-English speaking and non-internet literate audience on to the
Worldwide Web.
Making e-governance effective There is a saturation of English content on web and hence, a
growing demand for consumption of content in Indian languages. Digital initiatives of the
government will be a non-starter unless they deliver in 22 major and over hundred minor Indian
All e-governance content needs to be delivered in not only in text mode but also in speech
because that is the only way to ensure social and digital inclusion in rural India, where illiteracy
is still a harsh reality. The TDIL (Technology Development for Indian Languages) programme of
Union Government is a push towards localising e-governance content in 22 Indian languages.
Role of technology People can and want to communicate with machines in their language
such as smartphones and other mobile devices. In India, smartphone growth has been
phenomenal, bringing the best user experience at affordable prices.
With this there is also a demand for smart language processing applications. This implies using
tools like machine translation, information retrieval, speech enabled search and multilingual
content creation.
Computational linguistics is a multidisciplinary field of study involving primarily computer
science and linguistics. We develop programmes which will enable more and more Indians
to come online and circumvent barriers to internet connectivity like language and literacy.
For example, an English-Hindi machine translation will enable Hindi speakers from India to
search the web in their language. In such cases, even if the native language content is not
enough, machine can translate the search string into English, search the content in English and
display back in the native language. Computational linguistics also comes with challenges.
For instance, natural languages are very diverse and dynamic. Hence, they keep changing at a
faster pace. They could also be ambiguous where one word or phrase or sentence may have
varied meaning depending on the contexts. Therefore, computer apps have to be updated
Besides the general need for smart apps with artificial intelligence, India needs this field much
more than other countries.
The scope of this field is vast and could apply to various sectors like digital education, online
health services and other areas of development that come under the Digital India initiative.
The game changer to internet connectivity in terms of numbers is the prospect of more
companies investing in voice enabled technologies and locally appropriate web content.
Private players Its not only the government sector that needs to develop this field; internet
companies too are looking at the potential of such technology. For instance, companies like
Microsoft have been successful at achieving English-Urdu machine translation for its Bing search

Popular keyboard application SwiftKeys biggest strength is contextual prediction and
adaptation to the users own language, learning from their personal writing style.
The app company has been investing resources in making their application more relevant for
Indian language speaking users.
The SwiftKey app has found success on the Google app store and the company has seen
growing traction across the Indian market, not least due to its extensive Indian language
coverage (15 to date) and the multilingual feature allowing users to type in up to three
languages at once.
Computational linguistics has helped in building predictive keyboards in several difficult native
languages like Sanskrit, Santhali and Sindhi.
For simple things like browsing, navigating, filtering and processing information on web, we
need to build software that can get at the contents of the document in any language.
This will ensure a level playing field to access information on internet. The Digital India
initiative is a dream, but technologies like these can make it a reality.

Down to Earth science & tech CurrentAffairs

Fri, Apr 24, 2015
Why mosquitoes are more attracted to some of us thanothers
According to the WHO, over 500 million people are affected by mosquito-borne illnesses and it
leads to around a million deaths every year
Researches in the past have found that insects like mosquitoes are choosy predators. From
genetic factors like blood group to characteristics like colour of clothes and body temperature,
a lot of study has gone into what attracts mosquitoes to their prey. But a recent research has
tried to understand the extent to which human genes influence attractiveness of mosquitoes.
Body odour is believed to be the single most important factor which attracts mosquitoes to
humans. But body odour is at least partly controlled by our genetic makeup.
In a recent study titled Heritability of Attractiveness to Mosquitoes, the researchers have
found a sharp correlation between genetic variations and differential attractiveness to mosquitoes
How the link was strengthened
The trials for this study were conducted on identical and non-identical twins through the
Y-tube olfactometer test.
To do this, a set up was created where a Y-tube made of flexiglass had mosquitoes entering
from the vertical end of the tube and the participants placing their hands at the ends of both
arms of the Y tube.
This meant that the mosquitoes were free to choose a path towards or away from the odours
emanating from hands of the participants.
The behavioural response of mosquitoes was observed using different combinations of stimuli
and it was found that the identical twins had a more similar level of attractiveness as
compared to non identical twins.
The heritability values, or the extent of variation that can be attributed to genetic factors,
for attractiveness to mosquitoes was observed to be 0.83 on a scale of 0 to 1 (0 means genes
have no effect). The results suggest that the level to which genes are responsible for
attractiveness of mosquitoes is at par with levels observed for influence of genes on traits like
height (0.8) and IQ (0.5 to 0.8).
The paper, however, reminds us that the small sample size and the nature of the variable which
was analysed places limits on the precision of the conclusions.
a deeper investigation on the role of genetic variations in attracting mosquitoes could lead to
the development of novel insect repellents and individualised strategies for avoiding insect
What older studies say
In the past, several studies have explored why some people are found to be mosquito magnets
while others remain relatively unattractive.
Carbon dioxide and octenol in exhaled air, amount of lactic acid emitted, body heat, secretor
status, moisture, physical movements and the colour of clothing are some factors that lead to
differences in attractiveness to mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide that humans exhale and it has been observed that
adults are more susceptible to mosquito bites than children due to the larger amounts of
carbon dioxide exhaled.
Octenol, a chemical found in the human breath, also attracts mosquitoes and forms a potent
combination with carbon dioxide in alluring mosquitoes.
Additionally, the presence of larger amounts of lactic acid that is emitted through the skin of
humans and the production of which is linked with physical activity as well as consumption of
certain foods, are other factors associated with an increased attractiveness for mosquitoes.
This is why people who sweat profusely tend to be ambushed by mosquitoes. A study of
these three factors was conducted in 2007 and was led by D F Hoel. It was published in the
journal of the American Mosquito Control Association.
The blood type of a person also plays a role in secretion of different scents. It has been
found that mosquitoes are most attracted to Type O and least attracted to Type A. This was
demonstrated in a study that was published in Nature in 1972 (titled Wood and Dore) and has
been re-confirmed in later studies.
Secretor status is another factor which determines attraction. A secretor is a person who
secretes the antigens of their blood type into body fluids and secretions like sweat and
Mosquitoes have more affinity for secretors than non secretors. Mosquitoes have highly
developed thermo sensors that can detect body heat. Warmer bodies are more attractive for
mosquitos. Pregnant women have been found to be more attractive to mosquitoes due to a
combination of increased body temperatures and carbon dioxide output.
Mosquitoes can observe changes in movements by detecting fluctuations in radiation and use
it to approach the human prey.
The moisture in ones breath or on the skin also attracts mosquitoes. Lastly, darker clothing and
alcohol consumption are also known to attract mosquitoes. Some of these would be worth
remembering as the mosquito menace intensifies in the summer.
According to the WHO, over 500 million people are affected by mosquito-borne illnesses and it
leads to around a million deaths every year

Down to Earth
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Fri, Apr 24, 2015
Scientists announce final trial results of worlds most advanced malariavaccine
Vaccine can prevent a substantial number of cases of clinical malaria, especially in areas of
high transmission rates
The first malaria vaccine candidate (RTS,S/AS01) to reach phase three clinical testing is partially
effective against clinical disease in young African children up to four years after vaccination,
according to data published in medical journal, The Lancet.
The results suggest that the vaccine could prevent a substantial number of cases of clinical
malaria, especially in areas with high transmission rates.
The findings reveal that vaccine efficacy against clinical and severe malaria was better in
children than in young infants, but waned over time in both the groups.
However, protection against the disease was prolonged by a booster dose, increasing the
average number of cases prevented in both children as well as young infants.
Brian Greenwood, corresponding author and professor of clinical tropical medicine at the
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said, Despite the falling efficacy over time,
there is still a clear benefit from RTS,S/AS01. An average 1,363 cases of clinical malaria were
prevented over four years of follow-up for every 1,000 children vaccinated and 1,774 cases in
those who also received a booster shot.
Over three years of follow-up, an average 558 cases were averted for every 1,000 infants
vaccinated, and 983 cases in those also given a booster dose.
Given that there were an estimated 198 million malaria cases in 2013, this level of efficacy
potentially translates into millions of cases of malaria in children being prevented,.
About the vaccine
The RTS,S/AS01 vaccine was developed for use in sub-Saharan Africa where malaria still kills
around 1,300 children every day. There is currently no licensed vaccine anywhere in the world

against malaria[3] .
The phase three randomised trial enrolled 15,459 young infants (aged 6 to 12 weeks at first
vaccination) and children (5 to 17 months at first vaccination) from 11 places across seven
sub-Saharan African countries (Burkina Faso, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and
United Republic of Tanzania) with varying levels of malarial transmission.
In 2014, the initial phase three results at 18 months showed vaccine efficacy of about 46 per
cent against clinical malaria in children and around 27 per cent among young infants.
Vaccine efficacy is the reduction in the incidence of a disease (the number of new cases that
occur in a population in a given period) among trial participants who receive the vaccine
compared to the incidence among participants who do not receive the vaccine.
Vaccine efficacy in children
As part of the study, members of RTS,S Clinical Trials Partnership followed up the infants and
children for a further period of 20 to 30 months, respectively, and assessed the impact of a fourth
booster dose.
In children who received three doses of RTS,S/AS01 plus a booster dose, the number of clinical
episodes of malaria at four years was reduced by just over a third (36 per cent). This is a drop in
efficacy from the 50 per cent protection against malaria witnessed in the first year.
What is important is that without a booster dose, significant efficacy against severe malaria
was not shown in this age group. However, in children who were given a booster dose, the
overall protective efficacy against severe malaria was 32 per cent and 35 per cent against
malaria-associated hospitalisations.
Vaccine efficacy in infants
In infants, who received three doses of RTS,S/AS01 plus a booster dose, the vaccine reduced the
risk of clinical episodes of malaria by 26 per cent over three years of follow-up. There was
no significant protection against severe disease in infants.
According to Greenwood, The European Medicines Agency (EMA) will assess the quality,
safety, and efficacy of the vaccine based on these final data. If the EMA gives a favourable
opinion, WHO could recommend the use of RTS,S/AS01 as early as October this year. If licensed,
RTS,S/AS01 would be the first licensed human vaccine against a parasitic disease.
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Fri, Apr 24, 2015
Control of Tuberculosis
It is estimated that around 40 percent of Indian population is infected with Mycobacterium
Tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes TB in human beings, but the vast majority of them have
latent TB infection rather than TB Disease. According to latest WHO estimates, the incidence
of TB disease in India is around 2.1 million cases annually.
Malnutrition/undernutrition, which reduces immunity, makes a person susceptible to many
diseases, including TB. Social determinants like poverty, overcrowding, poor ventilation,
under nutrition, etc., have a role in spread of TB.
Under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP), diagnosis and
treatment facilities including anti-TB drugs are provided free of cost to all TB patients.
Designated microscopy centres have been established for quality diagnosis for every one lakh
population in the general areas and for every 50,000 population in the tribal, hilly and
difficult areas.
More than 13000 microscopy centres have been established in the country. More than six lakh
treatment centres (DOT Centres) have been established near to residence of patients to the
extent possible. All government hospitals, Community Health Centres (CHC), Primary
Health Centres (PHC), sub centres are DOT centres.
In addition NGOs, Private Practitioners (PPs) involved under the RNTCP, community
volunteers, Anganwadi workers, women self-help groups etc. also function as DOT
providers/DOT Centres.
Drugs are provided under direct observation and the patients are monitored so that they
complete their treatment.
Programmatic Management of Drug Resistant TB (PMDT) services for the management of
multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDRTB) and TBHIV collaborative activities for TB HIV co34

infection are being implemented throughout the country.

Under the universal immunization programme, BCG vaccine is administered for prevention of
serious forms of childhood TB, like tubercular meningitis.
Government has also formulated Standards for TB Care in India which lay down standards for
social inclusion for TB, providing information to vulnerable groups and developing synergies
with the social welfare schemes.
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Fri, Apr 24, 2015
Promoting Organic Farming
Cultivated area under certified organic farming has grown almost 17 fold in last one decade.
Government of India has implemented the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP)
in the year 2001.
The national programme involves the accreditation programme for certification agencies,
norms for organic production, promotion of organic farming etc. States like; Uttaranchal,
Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Nagaland,
Mizoram, Sikkim have been promoting organic farming.
Government is promoting organic
farming through various schemes/ programmes under National Mission for Sustainable
Agriculture (NMSA)/ Paramapragat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana
(RKVY), Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), National Mission on
Oilseeds & Oil Palm (NMOOP), Network Project on Organic Farming of ICAR.
In addition to this, Government is implementing a Cluster based programme to encourage the
farmer for promoting organic farming called Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) : v
Groups of farmers would be motivated to take up organic farming under Paramparagat Krishi
Vikas Yojana (PKVY).
Fifty or more farmers will form a cluster having 50 acre land to take up the organic farming
under the scheme. v In this way during three years 10,000 clusters will be formed covering 5.0
lakh acre area under organic farming.
There will be no liability on the farmers for expenditure on certification. v Every farmer will be
provided Rs. 20,000 per acre in three years for seed to harvesting of crops and to transport
produce to the market. v Organic farming will be promoted by using traditional resources and the
organic products will be linked with the market. v It will increase domestic production and
certification of organic produce by involving farmers v In order to implement the Paramparagat
Krishi Vikas Yojana in Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana in the year 2015-16.
science & techCurrentAffairs
Fri, Apr 24, 2015
Antitrustlaw for a free and fair internet
The practices of telecom service providers and over the top players need closer scrutiny
The term net neutrality was coined in 2003 by a Colombia University professor, Tim Wu;
he also predicted that it would be difficult to sort out. Indeed, it continues to be hotly debated
in the US and in Europe, mostly because there is no set framework or law governing it across
In India, the concept of net neutrality doesnt exist legally it is just an idea. With Trai
publishing a consultation paper on over the top service (OTT) providers like Flipkart, Whats
App and Facebook, and the CCI keeping a close watch on the developing relationship between
Airtel and OTTs, there is debate aplenty.
Proponents of competition/antitrust law argue that it is particularly well suited for addressing
the concerns raised in the longstanding debate surrounding net neutrality in a manner that best
serves consumers.
However, critics argue that antitrust law is not sufficiently broad in scope as it does not address
the non-economic goals of net neutrality, including the protection of free speech and political
debate. Whether competition law would represent an effective remedy for net neutrality in
practice, remains untested.
In 2013, the European Competition Commission started an investigation against major telecom
service providers for abusing their dominant position to throttle data-heavy services such as
YouTube and Skype. The EC however closed the investigation for lack of evidence.
Scrutinising the field Interestingly, its not just the TSPs that are being scrutinised. Dominant

OTTs such as YouTube have also been accused of anti-competitive conduct. Last year, Impala
(the independent music companies association) filed a complaint against YouTube for
offering worse terms to small music labels than those already signed by major labels
making them agree to draconian terms, a kind of market abuse.
The economic relationship between OTTs and TSPs is multifaceted. At one level, TSPs
provide the network infrastructure that OTTs use (a vertical relationship) and on another,
some OTTs provide services (SMS/VoIP) that compete with the business models of TSPs (a
horizontal relationship). In India, the Competition Act, 2002, frowns upon any arrangement
between companies and unilateral conduct by a dominant company which distorts competition
and harms consumers.
A case of dominance against a TSP is difficult to prove, but a similar case against an OTT can be
made out. For example, Facebook and WhatsApp are dominant players with an over 50 per cent
market share in India.
A case under Section 3 (anti-competitive agreements) can be made where it can be shown that the
companies enforcing an anti-competitive agreement have some market power, resulting in
barring entry for new companies and foreclosing competition.
Any agreement to block rival OTT website or degrading its services; blocking OTT services where
TSP is directly competing with OTT (VoIP/ SMS): Airtel and WhatsApp both provide calling
and messaging services.
Forcing consumers to buy a particular pack of internet with limited OTT services; for instance,
the pack provides for Amazon but not Flipkart; refusal to deal with a particular OTT or only on
one-sided terms.
Dominant OTTs (Facebook) pressuring TSPs for favourable treatment vis--vis others; TSPs
giving preferential treatments to their own OTT services, such as Airtel Wynk Music.
The critical question, however, is not whether anti-competitive conduct should be barred; it is
whether we can identify the best regulatory regime for addressing this concern and which
approach best enhances consumer welfare. Reportedly, the CCI has written to Trai expressing
its preliminary opinion on the consultation paper being ambiguous.
In the absence of a law on net neutrality, competition law quite clearly offers a far superior
approach to addressing potential problems.

Down to Earth
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Thu, Apr 23, 2015
Newe-wastedraftrulespromiseabroader scope
The 2015 rules boast of clarity and lay down the responsibilities of various stakeholders in clear
The draft of e-waste rules, 2015, has broadened the scope of the existing one by including several
major provisions. Earlier, there were several deterrents in the rules for stakeholders which
prevented their proper implementation.
The new draft rules now boast of clarity and lay down the responsibilities of various
stakeholders in clear terms.
However, it still neglects a few major areas in e-waste management where immediate
attention of regulators and stakeholders is required.
New additions made
Some new stakeholders have been added to the new draft rules. Refurbishers, dealers and
producer- responsibility organisations (PROs) are some of the inclusions made in 2015.
Refurbishers are those who repair used electrical and electronics equipment. In India, a
majority of electronic items is reused by people after repairing them or by handing them
down to family members, friends and acquaintances.
Refurbishing usually generates a sizeable quantity of e-waste as a result of repair and
assemblage of parts. The draft rules now require refurbishers to channelise the e-waste to a
collection centre or to a dismantling or recycling facility.
Then there are individual dealers or firms, which buy or receive electric and electronic
items from producers for bulk sale, wholesale and retail.
According to the new rules, dealers have been mandated to collect e-wastes in a box or a bin or
else they can demarcate a deposit area.

The inclusion of PROs is another welcome initiative in the draft rules.

They are professional organisations authorized collectively by producers, but sometimes they
also act independently or on a public-private partnership basis.
PROs can take the responsibility of a group of producers for collection and channelization of ewaste generated from the end of life of their products.
The concept works well in developed countries where a number of organisations come
together to implement take back of e-waste financed by producers. India being a vast
country, setting up a collection mechanism is a huge challenge. If any of the brands try
individually to reach out to all parts of the country, it will not be economically sustainable.
Another new feature that the draft rules have incorporated is the Deposit Refund Scheme. Under
this, a portion of the sale price shall be retained by the producers and be refundable to
consumers once the end-of-life products are channelised according to the prescribed methods.
Authorization and registration simplified
The existing rules mandated producers, dismantlers, recyclers and collection centres to seek
authorisation from State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) or Pollution Control Committees
However, getting the authorisation and registration complete with other necessary
documentation was proving to be difficult for new entrants.
The new rules have simplified the formalities regarding authorisation and registration. It
now asks producers to seek authorisation for carrying out Extended Producer Responsibility
(EPR) from SPCB in case they are implementing it in a particular state or the Central Pollution
Control Board (CPCB) in case of a pan-India implementation.
Roles of producers, manufacturers demarcated
Rules have also categorised producers and manufacturers differently for ease of
understanding. According to the draft rules, producers are manufacturers selling electrical and
electronic equipment (EEE) under their own brands. They can also assemble EEE by other
manufacturers or import them for sale in India.
Manufacturers are those persons, entities or organisations registered under the Companies Act,
2013 or Factory Act, 1948 who have facilities to manufacture EEE.
It was a point of contention that where and who the producers will approach to for authorisation
if they manufacture in one state and sell it in another.
The new draft rules make it clear by assigning two different definitions for two different
activities. The producers, which also include companies who import EEE for sale in India,
will now have to seek authorisation for implementing EPR.
This authorisation can be taken from SPCBs if their sale is limited to one state, but for panIndia they will have to seek authorisation from CPCB. EEE manufactures will have to seek
authorisation from the SPCB of the particular state where they intend to manufacture their items.
The draft rules have exempted collection centres from seeking any kind of authorisation and
registration. It is a good initiative by the environment ministry and will allow more
organisations and individuals to enter the e-waste management field.
It has also been made clear that collection centres do not require authorisation since they
do not engage in any activity that can harm the environment.
Refurbishers and dealers are required to attain one-time registration from SPCBs, file annual
returns and maintain records of e-wastes handled.
One-time registration will ease the task of SPCBs and encourage more dealers and
refurbishers to be a part of the legal chain which will make the assessment of e-waste easy.
EPR explained in new rules
EPR, which is a requirement to be fulfilled by the producers, was not clarified in the existing
The draft rules have laid down how producers would go about implementing EPR. The
producer of e- waste will now have to seek authorisation for carrying out EPR and seek
authorisation from SPCB or CPCB and submit state-specific plans. The state-specific EPR plans
by the producers will be screened by CPCB.
Note on hazardous substances
Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) mandated by the existing rules was to be complied

by the producers of EEE within a period of two years since the rules were notified in 2011.
The provision came into effect on May 2013, but still majority of electronics are noncompliant. The existing rules stipulated concentrations of hazardous substances to be reduced
from the EEE but there was no provision to ensure how the producers will implement this and
who will monitor the equipment post reduction of hazardous substances.
The new draft rules have covered this point. It says that CPCB will conduct random sampling of
EEE placed in the market to monitor and verify the compliance with RoHS.
What still needs to be addressed?
More than 90 per cent of e-waste generated in the country is handled by the informal sector, yet
the rules are silent on this issue. It is essential that any long-term policy on e-waste integrates the
informal sector by including them in the mainstream.
The draft rules do cover almost all stakeholders. All of them have been assigned specific roles
and will contribute towards their implementation.
However, with limited human, financial and technical capacity of SPCBs and CPCB, it will
remain a challenge to monitor so many players.
Penalty remains the same
Penalty and punishment for non-compliance are in accordance with section 15 and 16 of the
Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 which says that whoever fails to comply with the rules
will be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 5 years or with fine which
may extend to Rs 1 lakh.
The penal provisions are the same as the existing rules of 2011. Stringent penal provisions are a
must which can deter erring parties from violating rules.
Overall, the draft rules have incorporated new additions which will help in better
management of e- waste in the country. The scope of the rules has now become wider and the
CPCB and SPCBs will need greater manpower and technical capacity for monitoring compliance
with the rules.
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Thu, Apr 23, 2015
Health Hazards Due to Expired CFL
CFL bulbs contain mercury which is a hazardous element if disposed of carelessly. The
expired/used CFL bulbs thrown into Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) dumpyards may lead to
health hazards because of mercury and its compounds.
The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change had constituted a Task Force
to evolve a policy on Environmentally Sound Management of mercury in Fluorescent
A Technical Committee, constituted by this Task Force, had prepared Guidelines for
Environmentally Sound Mercury Management in Fluorescent Lamps Sector.
These guidelines prescribe the best practices at various levels such as at manufacturers level
and include aspects relating to mercury consumption, process technology, raw mercury
distillation, on-site storage, treatment, recycling, disposal of mercury bearing wastes and
mercury spill management, the Minister added.
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Wed, Apr 22, 2015
SatelliteNavigationalSystemtobenefitcountry intheareasofcivilaviation, highseaandinland
Satellite Navigational System to benefit country in the areas of civil aviation, high sea and
inland waterway navigation and other fields
In the area of satellite navigation, India has already established GPS Aided Geo Augmented
Navigation (GAGAN) system primarily for the use by aviation sector. GAGAN provides
improved position accuracy over the Indian region. This system is based on Global Positioning
System (GPS) of USA.
Further, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has undertaken a project for
developing an indigenous regional positioning system for India known as Indian Regional
Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). IRNSS consists of seven satellites in a constellation, three
satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO) and four satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GSO).
IRNSS will provide positioning and navigational services in Indian mainland and surrounding
region upto 1500 Km. Out of the 7 satellites required in the constellation, four satellites namely,

IRNSS-IA, 1B, 1C and 1D have already been successfully placed in the orbit.
GAGAN System has already been certified by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)
to provide Non-Precision Approach services for En-route Navigation over Indian Airspace
and it is expected to operationalise in the year 2015.
IRNSS is expected to operationalise in the year 2016.
The Satellite Navigational System will benefit the country in the areas of civil aviation, high
sea and inland waterway navigation, rail transport, patrol services and vehicle tracking & fleet
The navigation system provides precise position & location information and accurate timing
information to the users which will benefit the user by way of improved efficiency of
operations, cost and time saving, enhanced safety of people, etc.
Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea and Russia have expressed interest for cooperation in
satellite navigation and applications. The cooperation will be pursued on receiving specific
proposals from these countries.
science & tech Current Affairs
Wed, Apr 22, 2015
The data collected from Remote Sensing satellites are used in various applications including
mapping, monitoring and management of natural resources, urban planning, infrastructure
development, rural development, management of natural disasters, weather and climate
The ways in which the remote sensing data are used include (i) Generation of thematic maps
(such as land use/land cover, forest cover map, ground water prospect map, etc.,) in
conjunction with conventional data (ii) Generation of value added products and advisory
services such as potential fishing zones, agricultural advisories, etc., and (iii)
Analysis/Modelling of data for Early warning of cyclones, Flood inundation mapping, land
slide hazard zonation, etc.,
The beneficiaries/intended beneficiaries of remote sensing data include (i) Departments under
Central Ministries dealing with Natural Resources Management& Infrastructure Development
(such as Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change,
Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Urban Development, etc.,), (ii) Various line
Departments under State Governments, (iii) Local bodies including Gram Panchayat, (iv) Non
Governmental Organisations, (v) Private / Public Sector establishments and Academia.
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Wed, Apr 22, 2015
Presence of hydroxyl and water molecules on the Moon.
NASAs Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft launched in June 2009 has detected the
spectral signature of hydroxyl, a key indicator that water ice is present in the floor of the crater.
The data from the LRO has also indicated that hydrogen bearing molecule deposits may be
slightly more abundant on crater slopes in the southern hemisphere that face the lunar South Pole.
The data from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper onboard Indias Chandrayaan-1, launched on
October 22, 2008 has indicated the presence of hydroxyl and water molecules on the lunar
surface. Further, Mini- Synthetic Aperture Radar (Mini-SAR) instrument of Chandrayaan-1
has indicated existence of sub surface water-ice deposits in the base of the craters of
permanent sun shadow region.
A mass spectrometer based experiment on the Indian Moon Impact Probe (MIP) of
Chandrayaan-1 also indicated presence of water molecules in the lunar exosphere.
It is concluded from the above results that hydroxyl and water molecules are present on the
Moon. The molecules may be more prevalent beneath the lunar surface.
The Hindu
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Tue, Apr 21, 2015
No frisson in talks overfission
The 2015 Review of the Non Proliferation Treaty is a process expected to be stormy and
contentious due to a new set of geopolitical drivers.
The 2015 Review of the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will take place in New York from April
27 to May 22 and the process is expected to be stormy and contentious. The event marks
some significant anniversaries of conflict: the 100th of the use of chemical weapons in

Ypres, Belgium; the 70th of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and the 20th of the
indefinite extension of the NPT.
A new set of geopolitical drivers will work the agendas of nuclear and non-nuclear members of
the Treaty.
Coming into force in 1970, the Treaty has been subjected to numerous pulls and pressures which
have left the dream of nuclear disarmament unattained and the purpose of preventing
proliferation defeated.
The last review, in 2010, followed the complete failure of the 2005 Review conference, as a
consequence of serious disagreements which had emerged over a decade. The desire of nonnuclear states to see better progress on disarmament by the Nuclear Weapons States (NWS)
will figure as before. The discourse on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons has given a
new shape to the NPT debate.
Humanitarian impact The NWS have not been enthused by either of these two concepts.
Relations among the NWS after Russian actions in Ukraine will have a substantial impact on
the conference. Moscows rhetoric and responses have led to a rethink on the role and relevance
of nuclear deterrence, even among the non-nuclear states of eastern Europe.
As if this is not enough, the situation in West Asia will loom large since it involves the
uncertainties of Iran, Israel, Syria and the Islamic State (IS) in particular and the rest of the
Arab world in general.
In comparison, the nuclear shenanigans of North Korea which were once viewed as a major
global danger, would remain a marginal issue.
The NPT Review Conference in 2010 built a hard-fought consensus based on more than 60 action
points spread over three broad areas.
These three pillars were nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear
West Asia figured large, which primarily meant finding a way to a nuclear-free zone, which
in turn meant addressing the issue of Israels nuclear weapons.
This has now been much muddied by Irans own nuclear programme which in turn could now be
resolved if the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between the P5+1 (the United
States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China, facilitated by the European
Union) and Iran comes to fruition.
Three preparatory committee (Prepcom) meetings have been held so far to prepare an agenda or
work plan for the 2015 Review Conference next week. Reconciling the wide range of views of
190-member states has never been easy. Consequently, various consensus drafts have been
attempted and what emerges as the agreed agenda for the conference remains to be seen.
The three pillars are in themselves complex and intractable as examined hereon.
Discussing disarmament Nuclear disarmament is possibly the easiest issue on the table,
more so because there is no solution possible or even conceivable.
As a result, a formulaic approach is likely to get used in which non-nuclear weapon states
deplore the NWSs lack of progress on reducing their arsenals and making good on promises
made in the past. On their part, the NWS will reaffirm their commitment to disarmament, but
point to the strategic security scenario to justify the incremental and slow progress so far.
This will be contested strongly at the conference. The discourse on the humanitarian dangers,
from the use, deliberate or accidental, of nuclear weapons either by states or non-state actors,
has gathered strength.
This requires, from the NWS, greater transparency and tangible steps on nuclear security.
U.S. President Barack Obama has led the initiative on nuclear security through international
conferences, which have yielded more statements of intentions than specific actions.
This will coalesce the non-nuclear states into a large bloc demanding tangible action from the
NWS. They would seek time bound progress on the long promised consultative process
among the NWS.
Shifts in West Asia West Asia has undergone significant shifts of power and capabilities since
the 2010 conference.
Mixed outcomes of the Arab Spring, the ongoing struggle for power within and among the
states of the region, and the emergence of the IS have made West Asia a region of

Progress on the Middle East Conference, agreed upon in 2010, has been at a glacial pace. Israel
has shown no inclination to either join the conference or otherwise.
Iranian obduracy or strategic skill in holding out against sanctions and other pressures
had led to a situation where the U.S. turned towards a solution which favoured a postponed
Iranian nuclear weapons capability, instead of an immediate cessation of weapons capacity
An agreement flowing from the JCPOA that provides for the lifting of sanctions on Iran
(which has agreed to a stringent regime of nuclear regulation) will change altogether the
balance of strategic strength in the region.
Israel has serious objections to this plan and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus
recent statements suggest no lowering in its hard stance on the issue.
The Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in West Asia will have to be worked on wholly new
parameters, whose shape and content remain unclear. The conference next week will thus
provide a platform for a lively, if not hostile, conglomeration of protagonists and antagonists.
Whether it leads to clarity or confusion on West Asia remains to be seen.
Developments in Ukraine Events in the Ukraine have had a far-reaching impact in many fields,
all of which have a bearing on the imminent NPT Review. Russian-U.S. strategic arms control
equations have reached their nadir. Russia is unwilling to engage in negotiations on bilateral
arms reductions.
Its annexation of Crimea, its continuing support to dissidents in Ukraine, and the reactions to it
in Europe and from the U.S., will make it more difficult than ever for the Obama administration
to even contemplate unilateral reductions.
It is useful to remember that Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons from its territory after the
Soviet Union collapsed, only to face a Russian-directed conflict threatening to dismember it
On its part, Russia is witnessing a narrative of resurgence in the face of containment and
sanctions by the West. A reset of U.S.-Russia relations does not seem likely in the foreseeable
future. The first casualty in this stand-off will be nuclear proliferation and disarmament.
South Asias two states with nuclear weapons are also steadily improving their strategic
capabilities of nuclear warheads, missiles and submarines. Pakistan continues to assert its new
found capability in tactical nuclear weapons, as a counter to Indian conventional military
This is viewed as another form of proliferation by Western nuclear mandarins, whose best
solution is confined to advising New Delhi on restraint in dealing with Pakistan.
The NPT Review 2015 will be held in a strategic scenario not very dissimilar to the Cold War
antagonism of the 1980s. The glue of a globalised world economy and the prospect of a
world without conflicts among developed states have been replaced by seemingly implacable
The situation is made explosive by the arrival on the scene of new forces of terror and coercion
in and around states whose efforts had led to the signing and sustaining of the NPT over the
An idea of the straitjacket of ideas which drives the NPT can be had from the resolution
passed in the UN last year. This had demanded that India and other non-signatories to the
NPT join the Treaty as Non Nuclear Weapons States. India had rightly rejected the
resolution which ignores the ground realities.

PIB science & tech Current Affairs Tue, Apr 21, 2015
Radiation Technology for Cleaner India Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and Bhabha
Atomic Research Centre signed MoU to set up a Sewage Sludge Hygienisation Plant at Ahmedabad
2015 India enters into a new era of utilizing advanced technology of Radiation Processing for
Hygieniesing Sewage Sludge by signing of MoU between Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre will provide all technical and scientic support for setting up a
100 tons per day dry sewage sludge hygienisation Cobalt -60 Gamma Irradiation Plant at
Largely, sludge is disposed in unoraganized manner resulting in environmental pollution and
spread of diseases.

The sludge produced carries a heavy microbiological load and therefore its disposal has
been a challenge to the urban development authorities.
Bacterial counts including pathogens generally observed in sludge can vary between 105 to 109
per gram. Sludge also contains worms, ova, viruses, helminthes, weeds etc.
It also contains toxic heavy metals and organic pollutants like pesticides, polyaramatic
hydrocarbons, drugs and other persistent pollutants. Sludge is a rich source of many macro
(Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium),micro nutrients (Zinc, Iron, Copper, Manganese) and organic
carbon essential for soil. If the sludge can be treated in effective and economic way to
meet the prescribed norms, it can be recycled by safely applying it on land for various
applications including agricultural.
High energy gamma radiation from Cobalt-60 can kill pathogens, reduce odours and
degrade organic chemival contaminants and thus making sludge safer for use or disposal.
With this initiative of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and Bhabha Atomic Research
centre, a beginning is made to utilize advanced technology for hygienising sludge for cleaner
India (Swachcha and Swastha Bharat).
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Mon, Apr 20, 2015
Imperative for government departments to modernizesystemsbymakingbestuseof
Information &Communication
Public Financial Management System (PFMS) is the key to good governance.
The organized accounting services that they represent are charged with the responsibility of
building and maintaining a strong and robust system of financial management.
In almost all countries of the world today, there is a move towards developing Integrated
Financial Management Information Systems (IFMIS) and towards setting up Standards in
Accounting, Auditing and Budgeting. The Government of India is also moving towards such a
In India today this is a necessity in view of the increasing quantum of public expenditures
which require a sound system of tracking, monitoring and reporting to be in place. In
developing such a system we need to learn from best global practices and build upon them.
rising expectations amongst the public for greater efficiencies in service delivery
accompanied by transparency and accountability in government processes.
In order to address these concerns, it is imperative for Government Departments to modernize
systems by making best use of Information & Communication Technology and to make such
systems citizen-centric, secure, efficient, economical and transparent.
The Tax Information Network, OLTAS, the National Pension System are all extremely fine
examples of pan-India systems which have simplified life for the ordinary citizen and have
introduced greater efficiency and transparency in key areas of Governments functioning.
this trend shall only intensify in the future and he urged all officers to take part, as and when
they have the opportunity to do so, in the development of such pan-India systems.
NIFM, apart from a multitude of on-campus activities, also organizes attachments for
probationers with various offices and organizations of relevance where they are exposed to
practical aspects of governance.
keeping pace with the fast-changing world of information and communication technology also
requires constant up-gradation of systems and processes.
We need to examine how best we may use technology to make our payment and
accounting systems seamless, as also progressively use IT tools in auditing to not only
unearth frauds but also to evaluate and monitor the processes and outcomes of various
government schemes.
The challenges are many and the opportunities are vast and immense. He said he was sure that
all of them will rise to the occasion and live up to the expectations of their countrymen.
the Government of India decided to establish the National Institute of Financial Management
(NIFM) in 1993 to train the newly recruited officers of the Finance and Accounts Services.
The idea behind setting up NIFM was not only to train probationers in subjects related to
Financial Management but also to inculcate a sense of camaraderie and esprit d corps amongst
service officers. The opportunity of staying and learning together with officers from the
different accounting services shall prove to be extremely beneficial to them in the years to come,

he said.
Various long term courses and Management Development Programs on cutting edge financial
issues are now being organized by NIFM in addition to training programs in public financial
management for Defence Services, State Governments, Banks, Public Sector Enterprises,
Autonomous bodies and other stakeholders of Government. Another important area that they
have branched out into is organizing long term and short term courses on financial and
securities markets in collaboration with the BSE and NSE.
It was a matter of satisfaction that NIFM had entered into MoUs with various Universities
and institutions in the USA, Europe and Asia, apart from tie-ups with various institutions in
these collaborations need to be encouraged as they impart a much needed global perspective to
the learning that is imparted and also allow for cross cultural sharing of ideas and experiences.
The Hindu
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Sat, Apr 18, 2015
Here's why you're wrong, Mr. Zuckerberg
By providing a limited version of the internet, with pre-selected websites, as critics point out,
includes Facebook as the centrepiece. This automatically omits a huge part of the internet.
Whats internet.org?
In a few developing countries, Facebook has tied up with certain telecom providers to
offer their subscribers free access to select Web sites. In India, its partner is Reliance
Communications. Such a scheme is referred to as a zero-rating scheme.
When did it launch in India?
February, 2015
How many sites are offered free, and which are these?
Over three dozen. Many are content sites (e.g. Aaj Tak, Times of India, India Today) and
some are educational sites (Internet Basics, Wikipedia). The list also includes Facebook,
Microsofts Bing search engine, and Reliance Astrology.
Why does Facebook want to do this?
Its stated intention is to make available internet to people who dont have it. Why is internet.org in
the news now?
Because it is being accused of violating Net neutrality, public support for which has been
overwhelming. Some of its original content partners such as Cleartrip and NDTV have pulled
out of the platform after having a rethink on the issue.
What is Net neutrality?
It is the principle that all traffic on the Internet must be treated equally by internet service
providers. This has largely been the default mode since Internet started.
Whats Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerbergs defence of internet.org in his signed newspaper article?
Essentially that internet.orghelps lower the cost of accessing the internet and also raises the
awareness of internets value. He uses the word access 14 times in the article.
How does an attempt to provide access violate the principle of Net neutrality?
By providing a limited version of the internet, with pre-selected websites, as critics point out,
includes Facebook as the centrepiece. This automatically omits a huge part of the internet.
Is there any other problem?
The actors in internet.org are all players with commercial intent Facebook, Reliance, many
of the content sites. They have a competitive advantage.
And indeed, many of their business models are based on their ability to accumulate bigger
audiences. This creates winners and losers, and Facebook gets to make that choice.
What payoff do critics see in this for Facebook?
Internet companies such as Facebook look to keep increasing the number of Internet users.
Their revenue models are largely advertising-led. So, more users makes better business
sense. And for players such as Facebook, the more developed markets are saturating.
Have there been similar zero-rating schemes?
Yes. Players such as Google, Twitter and Facebook have separately tied up with telecom players to
offer their apps free of cost to users. Airtel Zero, which has got itself into a lot of controversy, is
also a zero- rating scheme.
What has been the global experience?

Countries such as Chile and Slovenia have banned zero-rating schemes while many European
countries are said to be considering such a move.
Down to Earth science & tech CurrentAffairs
Sat, Apr 18, 2015
Delhi has been awfully late in adopting open source software, but the policy is finally there
It has taken the government of India a decade and more to grasp a basic truththat open
source software (OSS) is the way to go. March-end, the Information Technology (IT) ministry
unveiled, finally, a policy for adopting OSS as the preferred option in all e-governance systems
implemented by various government organisations.
The policy, which makes it mandatory to adopt OSS, is intended to lower costs and ensure
strategic control of these systems. It says the aim is to ensure efficiency, transparency and
reliability of such services at affordable costs. Sigh.
All one can say is that its been a long, long learning curve for Delhi. Organisations and
governments across the world have switched from proprietary software, such as those provided
by Microsoft, to OSS not merely to cut costs (hugely) but to have control of their operating
systems by reducing dependence on vendors.
It allows better inter-operability of systems, is easier to customise and also helps promote the
development of systems in local languages. If only IT ministry officials had cared to look at
what was happening in one corner of the country it may not have taken them so long to
formulate a policy on the use of OSS in its various arms.
Kerala is the not-so-far corner where OSS or FOSS (Free OSS), as its also known, was recognised as
the path to the future in 2001. It was the first state to include the use of OSS in its IT policy. It
ought to be made clear here that free here does not mean free of cost but free to use as the
developer wishes.
FOSS as a radical paradigm to democratise knowledge came into its own a little later in 2007
when the Marxist government of V S Achuthanandan made the considered decision to use this
platform to build an egalitarian knowledge society.
The goals were enunciated in the title of the policy it issued: Towards an Inclusive Knowledge
Society. By then prophets of the FOSS movement, notably Richard Stallman, had made many
visits to Kerala, preached widely and laid the foundations for a philosophy that the state took
to its heart.
Another leap came with the setting up of an International Centre for Free and Open Source
Software (ICFOSS) in 2011 to popularise FOSS for universal use and network with different
nations, communities and governments to jointly promote FOSS as a powerful alternative to the
monopolistic approaches to knowledge creation.
Its lofty charter and well-grounded work may have created waves globally but not a ripple
appears to have touched Delhi.
In July last year, ICFOSS helped Kerala cross another milestone when its Legislative Assembly
shifted to OSS for recording its huge volume of business. Commendably, the migration
from Microsofts XP system was completed in a record three months, since the US software
giants support services was set to expire in that period. The magnitude of the task can be gauged
from the following: 500 pages of text are keyed in daily on average when the Assembly is in
session and this is mostly Malayalam, a complex Brahmic script.
And it could also provide a new lease of life to the governments own Bharat Operating
System Solutions which was plugged as an alternative to Microsofts Windows platform but
found few takers for want of official backing and poor customer services. That should change.
The Hindu
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Fri, Apr 17, 2015
Universal connectivity, net neutrality can coexist in India: Zuckerberg
"If someone cant afford to pay for connectivity, it is always better to have some access than
none at all", says the Facebook founder.
Days after few of its partners decided to exit Internet.org in support of net neutrality, Facebook
Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Friday said he strongly disagrees with the critics
of the zero-rating concept.
some people have criticized the concept of zero-rating that allows Internet.org to deliver

free basic internet services, saying that offering some services for free goes against the spirit of
net neutrality. I strongly disagree with this, he wrote in a Facebook post.
He added, We fully support net neutrality. We want to keep the internet open. Net neutrality
ensures network operators dont discriminate by limiting access to services you want to use. Its
an essential part of the open internet, and we are fully committed to it.
Internet.org is social networking sites initiative to bring internet services to areas that are
still not connected in partnership with tech giants like Samsung and Qualcomm. In India,
Facebook partnered with Reliance Communications to provide free Internet access to over 30
The initiative has drawn flak from users and net neutrality activists as they believe it
violates the principle of Net Neutrality. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg defended it saying
universal connectivity and net neutrality can co-exist.
But net neutrality is not in conflict with working to get more people connected. These two
principles universal connectivity and net neutrality can and must coexist. To give more
people access to the internet, it is useful to offer some service for free. If someone cant afford
to pay for connectivity, it is always better to have some access than none at all, he said.
Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers should treat all data on the
internet equally, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, site, platform, or
application. There are no norms for it in the country as of now.
Arguments about net neutrality should not be used to prevent the most disadvantaged
people in society from gaining access or to deprive people of opportunity, he said, adding
that eliminating programs that bring more people online wont increase social inclusion or close
the digital divide.
Following an uproar in the social media over the subject, Cleartrip, Times Group and NDTV had
earlier this week opted out of Internet.org.
While the debate has been going on at the global level for a long time, in India it was triggered
when countrys largest operator Airtel in December 2014 announced plans to start charging
customers for VoIP services, such as Skype and Viber.
The debate gained national momentum when telecom regulator TRAI, in a first step towards
making regulating the issue, came out with consultation paper inviting user comments on the
Recently, Airtel announced another initiative Airtel Zero, for which it received a lot of flak as
this too is seen as violating net neutrality.
science & tech CurrentAffairs
Fri, Apr 17, 2015
TRAI releases RecommendationsonDelivering Broadband QuicklyWhat do we need to do?
The Authority issued the Consultation Paper on Delivering Broadband Quickly: What do we
need to do? on 24.09.2014 to discuss issues contributing to broadband penetration in India
and to solicit stakeholders views on action required to be taken both by the Government and
the private sector to accelerate the proliferation and use of broadband in the country.
The comments and counter- comments received from the stakeholders were placed on the
TRAIs website. An Open House Discussion was held on 30.10.2014 in New Delhi with the
The Authority has noted with serious concern the slow penetration and adoption of broadband
in the country. Facts are:
India ranks 125 th in the world for fixed broadband penetration with only 1.2 per 100 inhabitants
having access to fixed broadband; the global average is 9.4 per 100 inhabitants.
In terms of household penetration within developing countries, India is ranked 75 th with a
penetration of 13%.
In the wireless broadband space too, India is ranked 113 th with a penetration of 3.2 per 100
In terms of ICT access, ICT use and ICT skills India ranks 129 th out of total 166 countries. Indonesia
(106), Sri Lanka (116), Sudan (122), Bhutan (123), Kenya (124) are ranked above India.
India is categorized in the Least Connected Countries Group of 42 countries that fall within the low IDI
Some of the problems identified during the consultation are as follows:

RoW charges were identified as single biggest impediment to the adoption of wire line
technology for access networks.
The lack of availability of a sufficient quantum of globally harmonized spectrum in contiguous
form is the biggest impediment to the deployment of wireless technology in the access network.
Another reason for poor quality of broadband is non-availability of adequate bandwidth in
the backhaul.
Civic authorities have imposed stringent punishment on the erection of towers.
Procurement of satellite capacity on foreign satellites through Department of Space (DoS) often
results in long delay and increase in prices due to some process flaws.
BBNL, the organization for implementing National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) project, is a
multi- layered structure with the control vesting in the Government, the decision making process
is stymied by the normal bureaucratic process (red tape).
In BBNL, at the delivery and implementation stage, the responsibilities are diffused with far too
many executing and supervising agencies.
There is a disconnect between the agency (BBNL) for implementation of the project and
stakeholders including private operators who shall ultimately utilize the fiber for provision
of broadband to the consumer. This has practically rendered BBNL dysfunctional, defeating
the very purpose for which it was set up to make independent and quick decisions.
After considering the comments from the stakeholders and further analysis, the Authority has
come out with its Recommendations on Delivering Broadband Quickly: What do we need to
do?. The salient features of the recommendations are as follows:
Institutional revamping
WPC should be converted into an independent body by de-linking it from the present DoT
hierarchy and either converting it into a statutory body responsible to Parliament or transferring
it to an existing statutory body. Even in a more limited role of assigning solely commercially
available spectrum, there is
a strong case for an institutional overhaul of WPC to realize goals of institutional efficiency,
transparency in decision-making and full disclosure of decisions.
The multi-layered structure for decision making for national project NOFN is just not
suitable for a project that needs to be executed in mission-mode. The structure needs immediate
Align spectrum bands with globally harmonized bands to achieve interference-free coexistence
and economies of scale. Current availability of spectrum in our LSAs is about 40% of that
available in comparable countries elsewhere. Clearly, there is a crying need for assignment of
additional spectrum for commercial telecom services.
There is a need to lay down a clear roadmap for spectrum management which should state
the requirement and availability of spectrum for each LSA as well as for the whole country.
This roadmap should be made available publicly to ensure transparency.
There is an urgent need for audit by an independent agency of all allocated spectrum both
commercial as well as spectrum allocated to various PSUs/Government organizations. This
ought to be a national priority and must be undertaken within 3 months.
Right of Way (RoW)
Single-window clearance is an imperative for all (Right of Way) RoW proposals at the level of the
States and in the Central Government. All such clearances have to be time-bound so that
TSPs and infrastructure providers can move rapidly to project execution. Ideally, singlewindow clearance should be administered online with a defined turnaround time. The reasons
for denial of RoW permission should be recorded in writing.
There is a need for enunciating a National RoW Policy to ensure uniformity in costs and
processes. NOFN
Project implementation on Centre State Public-Private Partnership (CSPPP) mode by involving
State Governments and the private sector.
Award of EPC (turnkey) contracts by BBNL to private parties through international competitive
bidding needs to be planned. Such contracts can be given region-wise with clear requirements
for interconnection with other networks, as well as infrastructure sharing with other operators
who would like to utilize this network. A commercial model around this will need to be suitably

Single-window, time-bound clearance should be encouraged for installation of towers to ensure
the rapid development of national networks.
Extensive consumer awareness and education programmes should be organized so that
consumers fully understand the latest scientific information on EMF radiation and its potential
impact on health.
Fixed line BB
To promote fixed line BB, the license fee on the revenues earned from fixed line BB
should be exempted for at least 5 years.
The infrastructure of PSUs is lying unutilized and thus they should be mandated to unbundle
their network and allow sharing of outside plant (OSP).
Cable operators should be allowed to function as resellers of ISP license holders to enable them to
take advantage of their cable network to provide BB.
Implementation of digitization of cable services to tier 2 and tier 3 cities in a time-bound manner.
Separation of Licensor, Regulator and Operator functions in the satellite space domain to
conform to best international practices of free markets.
The issue of coordination of additional spectrum in the 2500-2690 MHz band with DoS needs
to be addressed urgently, so that this band can be optimally utilized for commercial as well
as strategic purposes.
Hosting of Content in India
The Government needs to encourage local and foreign companies to build Data Centre Parks on the
lines of industrial parks, SEZs etc. by providing them land, infrastructure and uninterrupted power
supply at affordable rates.
Universal Adoption
Governments, both Central and State shall have to act as model users and anchor tenants through
delivery of e-Government services including e-education, e-governance, m-health, m-banking and other
such services.
Schools are the ideal and convenient point for early initiation to BB services. Government schools in
the rural and remote areas can be provided subsidy from the USOF for BB connectivity.
Cost of CPE (desktop/laptop/tabs etc.) are major barriers to the adoption of BB services. TSPs may be
allowed to offer CPE bundled tariff schemes. Revenues from such offers ought to be exempted from
the applicable license fee at least for a certain number of years (say for three years).
In addition, there are a large number of recommendations of the Authority on which decisions
of the Government are still awaited. The Government needs to act quickly on these
recommendations as we have already lost too much time. These include, inter alia, on Spectrum
Trading, Spectrum Sharing, Open Sky Policy, Infrastructure Sharing, Microwave Access and
Backbone Spectrum.