Insights Daily Current Events, 24 February 2016
Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
Internet by light promises to leave Wi-Fi in the shade
French start-up Oledcomm demonstrated the Li-Fi technology at the recently held Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest mobile fair, in Barcelona.
- Laboratory tests have shown theoretical speeds of over 200 Gbps — fast enough to “download the equivalent of 23 DVDs in one second”.
What is Li-Fi?
Li-Fi, or light fidelity, invented by German physicist and professor Harald Haas, is a wireless technology that makes use of visible light in place of radio waves to transmit data at terabits per second speeds—more than 100 times the speed of Wi-Fi.
How it works?
- Li-Fi is a Visible Light Communications (VLC) system. This means that it accommodates a photo-detector to receive light signals and a signal processing element to convert the data into ‘stream-able’ content. Unlike Wi-Fi, which uses radio waves, Li-Fi runs on visible light.
- Here, data is fed into an LED light bulb (with signal processing technology), it then sends data (embedded in its beam) at rapid speeds to the photo-detector (photodiode).
- The tiny changes in the rapid dimming of LED bulbs is then converted by the ‘receiver’ into electrical signal.
- The signal is then converted back into a binary data stream that the user would recognise as web, video and audio applications that run on internet enables devices.
- An LED lightbulb is a semi-conductor light source meaning that the constant current of electricity supplied to an LED lightbulb can be dipped and dimmed, up and down at extremely high speeds, without being visible to the human eye.
- Li-Fi could make a huge impact on the internet of things too, with data transferred at much higher levels with even more devices able to connect to one another.
- Li-Fi offers great promise to overcome the existing limitations of Wi-Fi by providing for data-heavy communication in short ranges.
- Due to its shorter range, Li-Fi is more secure than Wi-Fi.
- Since it does not pollute, it can be called a green technology for device-to-device communication in the Internet of Things (IoT).
- Li-Fi systems consume less power.
Limitations of Li-Fi:
- As visual light can’t pass through opaque objects and needs line of sight for communication, its range will remain very restricted to start with. In order to enjoy full connectivity, more capable LED bulbs will need to be placed at various places.
- Li-Fi requires the lightbulb is on at all times to provide connectivity, meaning that the lights will need to be on during the day.
- Li-Fi is likely to face interference from external light sources, such as sunlight and bulbs, and obstructions in the path of transmission, and hence may cause interruptions in communication.
- Also, initially, there will be high installation costs of visual light communication systems as an add-on to lighting systems.
sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Assad regime agrees to Syria peace deal
Syria’s regime has agreed to a ceasefire deal announced by the United States and Russia after it was conditionally accepted by the opposition.
- The ceasefire plan was announced by top diplomats in Munich earlier this month, but failed to take hold last week as initially planned.
- As well as reducing violence and expanding humanitarian access, it aims to pave the way for a resumption of peace talks that collapsed earlier this month in Geneva.
- The deal does not apply to jihadists like the Islamic State group and Al-Nusra Front, putting up major hurdles to how it can be implemented on Syria’s complex battlefield.
- The deal calls for a “cessation of hostilities” between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and opposition groups that would take effect at midnight Friday Damascus time.
However, analysts say the deal may be simply unworkable, rebels on the ground doubted the regime’s goodwill and many civilians expected their hopes to once again be dashed.
- Moscow and Washington have been leading the latest diplomatic push to try to resolve Syria’s nearly five-year civil war, a brutal conflict that has left more than 260,000 dead and forced millions from their homes.
- The two countries are on opposing sides of the conflict — with Russia backing Assad and the United States supporting the opposition — but in recent weeks have joined forces to press for the ceasefire.
- Moscow and Washington are both pursuing air wars in Syria. A US-led coalition launched air strikes against ISIS positions in both Syria and Iraq in 2014 while Russia began its own aerial raids in Syria in September.
- Russia says it is targeting “terrorists” in its strikes but has been accused of hitting non-terrorist groups in support of Assad, a longtime ally.
- Iran has also sent military advisers to Syria and the Tehran-backed Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah has deployed at least 6,000 militants to fight alongside Assad’s forces.
sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
Amnesty international report
An Amnesty International (AI) report has stated that authorities in India have failed to “prevent many incidents of religious violence” and sometimes “contributed to tensions through polarising speeches”.
- The report titled “State of the World’s Human Rights Report 2015-16” said that authorities resorted to repressing civil society organisations opposing official policies through restrictive foreign funding laws, referring to issues faced by Greenpeace India.
- The report notes that laws that did not meet international standards on freedom of expression were also used to persecute human rights defenders and others in the country.
- The report also noted that there at least 3200 prisoners held in various prisons across India without trial under executive order.
sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology.
Students to take digital literacy to the masses
Kerala is preparing to launch the Statewide Digital Empowerment Campaign, which seeks to bridge the digital divide and maximise the potential of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) in day-to-day life.
- The initiative is aimed at making them capable of using e-mail, accessing online government services, making online utility payments and bank transfers and doing online shopping.
- The Kerala State IT Mission (KSITM) is the nodal agency for the project. It is readying as many as 5600 tablets to be distributed to the cadets.
- Student police cadets from as many as 280 schools in all 14 districts will be enlisted for the campaign, which is expected to help 3 million people in the State.
- Equipped with tablets preloaded with special software, the students will train at least one member in each family in the catchment area of a school extending up to a radius of 3 km.
- The training process will be monitored on real time basis using the software. A programme monitoring unit will also be set up at KSITM. The training will also cover mobile services and information security.
- Under this campaign, more than 10 lakh people will be digitally empowered in the first phase over a period of four months. The second phase will utilise the services of both NSS volunteers and NCC cadets to reach out to more citizens.
- This initiative has been taken up under the Digital India initiative.
sources: the hindu.
President Pranab Mukherjee recently addressed the joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament.
Articles 86 and 87 of the Constitution deal with the Address by the President.
- Article 86 confers a right on the President to address either House of Parliament or both Houses assembled together, and for that purpose require the attendance of members. However, since the commencement of the Constitution, the President has not so far addressed a House or Houses together under this provision.
- Article 87 deals with Special Address by the President and provides that the President shall address both Houses of Parliament assembled together at the commencement of the first session after each general election to the Lok Sabha and at the commencement of the first session of each year and inform Parliament of the causes of its summons.
Remember, article 87 makes it clear, the Address is to be to both Houses of Parliament assembled together. In other words, it means that if at the time of commencement of the first session of the year, the Lok Sabha has been dissolved and the Rajya Sabha has to meet, then the Rajya Sabha can have its Session without the President’s Address.
sources: the hindu.
AN international survey on quality of life has chosen Austria’s capital Vienna as the best place to live in the world. Please note that no Indian city in the top 100. Among Indian cities, Hyderabad is placed at 139, followed by Pune at 144 and Bangalore at 145.
- The study examined social and economic conditions, health, education, housing and the environment and is being used by big companies to assess where they should locate and how much they should pay staff.
sources: the hindu.
Falcated Duck sighted in Goa
The birders of Goa have sighted a new bird Falcated Duck, a very rare vagrant species to the south of India, which became the latest addition to the checklist of ‘Birds of Goa’.
Significance of this finding:
- The Falcated duck is a regular winter migrant to the northern States of India. They breed in Russia and north China in summers and migrates towards north of India in winter.
- Some individuals though are known to move further south. There are two reports of this species from south of India.
- The first was reported from Tamil Nadu in 2012 while in January 2015 a single individual was reported from Akola in Maharashtra and this sighting by the birding trio is only the third from south India.
- Falcated duck is classified as near threatened in terms of its conservation prioritization by International Union for Conservation of Nature.
- Recent estimates have put the world population of this species to be just about 89,000 individuals. The greatest threat faced by this species globally is the loss of habitat and hunting. Loss of habitat in their winter migratory region is also a cause for concern.
- With this new sighting, the checklist of Birds of Goa stands at 461 species.
sources: the hindu.
India remains world’s largest arms importer, with 14% of total share
The latest data on international arms transfers released by a global think-tank, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) show that India continues to remain the world’s largest arms importer, accounting for 14% of the global imports in the 2011-2015 timeframe.
- India’s arms imports remain three times greater than those of its rivals China and Pakistan. Its biggest suppliers are Russia, the US, Israel and France.
- After India, China ranks second in the global arms import list with 4.7%, followed by Australia (3.6%), Pakistan (3.3%), Vietnam (2.9%) and South Korea (2.6%).
- Incidentally, Pakistan is the main recipient of Chinese arms exports, notching up 35% of the total, followed by Bangladesh (20%) and Myanmar (16%).
- Russia, in turn, is China’s largest arms supplier with 59%, followed by France (15%) and Ukraine (14%).
However, India’s position is another indicator of the country’s enduring failure to build a strong domestic defence-industrial base (DIB).