- The 12th edition of exercise INDRA NAVY, a biennial bilateral maritime exercise between Indian Navy and Russian Navy was held in the Baltic Sea from 28 to 29 July 2021.
- Initiated in 2003, Ex INDRA NAVY epitomises the long-term strategic relationship between the two navies.
- This exercise was undertaken as part of the visit of INS Tabar to St Petersburg, Russia to participate in the 325th Navy Day celebrations of the Russian Navy.
- The flow in a river is a dynamic parameter and depends on many sub-parameters such as rainfall, its distribution, duration and intensity in the catchment, health of catchment area, vegetation and withdrawals/utilization of water.
- While reports by some experts have expressed concern about reduction in water flow in rivers, the annual average flow data maintained by Central Water Commission (CWC) for last 20 years for major/important rivers in the country does not indicate any significant decline in water availability.
- However, as per CWC, the per capita annual water availability in the country has progressively reduced due to increase in population, urbanization, improved lifestyle of people, etc.
- Rivers in the country are polluted due to discharge of untreated and partially treated sewage from cities/towns and industrial effluents in their respective catchments, problems in operation and maintenance of sewage/effluent treatment plants, lack of dilution and other non-point sources of pollution.
- Rapid urbanization and industrialization have compounded the problem. Based on monitoring results in terms of Bio-chemical Oxygen Demand (BOD)
- It is the responsibility of the States/UTs and local bodies to ensure required treatment of sewage and industrial effluents to the prescribed norms before discharging into water bodies, coastal waters or land to prevent and control of pollution therein
- Steps taken by the Government to stop discharge of industrial effluents into rivers inter alia, include issuance of notification of specific discharge standards,
- revision of the criteria for categorization of industries and
- issuing directions to all State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs)/Pollution Control Committees (PCCs)
- SPCBs/PCCs, based on Comprehensive Environment Pollution Index (CEPI) critically polluted areas are identified to take necessary measures through time-targeted Action Plans,
- regular inspections of Grossly Polluting Industries (GPIs) by CPCB for compliance verification,
- installation of Online Continuous Effluent Monitoring System (OCEMS) for assessment of effluent quality and compliance status.
- In addition, the industries are encouraged to reduce their waste water generation by technological advancement, reuse/recycle of wastewater and maintain Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) where ever possible.
The Inland Vessels Bill 2021
- The Inland Vessels Bill 2021 was passed in Lok Sabha today. It was introduced in the House by Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways
- The Bill seeks to incorporate unified law for the country, instead of separate rules framed by the States.
- The registration certificate under the new law will be considered valid all over the country, and separate permissions from States shall not be required.
- The Bill also provides for a central database for recording the details of the vessels and their crew on an electronic portal.
- Shri Sonowal has said the Bill promotes cheaper and safer navigation, ensures protection of life & cargo and brings uniformity in application of laws related to inland waterways & navigation.
- Access to computing, and the Internet opened a whole new avenue for communication, all this is coming at a price.
- Privacy has been eroded
- Cyber is often touted as the fifth dimension of warfare — in addition to land, sea, air and space.
- However, it needs to be understood that cyber, as the domain of military and national security, also co-exists with cyber as a domain of everyday life
- Israelis, though not the cyber pioneers, today dominate the cyber domain along with the Chinese, Russians, Koreans and, of course, the Americans.
- Already by the first decade of the 21st century, cyberspace had graduated from being merely the new domain of warfare, into becoming fundamentally a civilian space.
- From its very inception, cyberweapons ranked as special weapons
- Following the joint U.S.-Israeli effort in unleashing the Stuxnet Worm in 2010 — which helped disable several hundred centrifuges at the Iranian nuclear facility in Natanz.
- it currently employs ‘zero click’ attacks, which do not require any interaction on the part of the phone owner.
- It is used to exploit certain ‘zero day’ vulnerabilities found in operating systems — about which the manufacturers themselves are unaware.
- Where ‘spear phishing’ or a ‘zero click’ attack cannot succeed, the Pegasus spyware can be installed over a wireless trans-receiver located near a target.
Zero day and spear phising
- A zero-day attack (also referred to as Day Zero) is an attack that exploits a potentially serious software security weakness that the vendor or developer may be unaware of. The software developer must rush to resolve the weakness as soon as it is discovered in order to limit the threat to software users.
- Spear phishing is an email or electronic communications scam targeted towards a specific individual, organization or business. Although often intended to steal data for malicious purposes, cybercriminals may also intend to install malware on a targeted user’s computer.
- Essentially, the Pegasus virus seeks what are termed as ‘root privileges’ — that enable communication with its controllers through an anonymised network on Internet addresses and servers and transit data.
- Beginning with the 2007 devastating cyberattack on Estonia’s critical infrastructure, this was followed by the Stuxnet worm attack a few years later on Iran’s nuclear facility.
- The Shamoon virus attack on Saudi Aramco occurred in 2012. Thereafter, followed the 2016 cyberattack on Ukraine’s State power grid; the 2017 Ransomware attack (NotPetya) which affected machines in as many as 64 countries;
- A Wannacry attack the same year on the United Kingdom’s National Health Service;
- and the series of attacks this year on Ireland’s Health Care System and in the United States such as ‘SolarWinds’, the cyber attack on Colonial Pipeline and JBS, etc.
- Cyberweapons carry untold capacity to distort systems and structures — civilian or military — and, most importantly, interfere with democratic processes, aggravate domestic divisions and, above all, unleash forces over which established institutions or even governments have little control.
- As more and more devices are connected to networks, the cyber threat is only bound to intensify, both in the short and the medium term.
- What is especially terrifying is that instruments of everyday use can be infected or infiltrated without any direct involvement of the target.
Use of AI
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) is often seen as a kind of panacea for many of the current problems and ills, but all advances in technology tend to be a double-edged sword.
- If truth be told, AI could in turn make all information warfare — including cyber related — almost impossible to detect, deflect or prevent, at least at the current stage of development of AI tools
Child and cyber trafficking
- July 30 is United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons
- It is also a time to reflect on India’s human trafficking crisis.
- Between April 2020 and June 2021, an estimated 9,000 children have been rescued after being trafficked for labour, according to a child rights non-governmental organisation (NGO).
- In other words, 21 children have been trafficked every day over nearly 15 month
- “The [corona] virus has resulted in loss of income and economic crisis, causing families’ reduced capacity to care for children in the long-term.
- It has also caused, in some instances, loss of parental care due to death, illness or separation, thereby placing children at heightened risk for violence, neglect or exploitation.
- India is still classified by the U.S. Department of State as a Tier-2 country in its report on global human trafficking
- This means that the Government does not fully meet the minimum standards under U.S. and international law for eliminating trafficking, but is making significant efforts to comply
- The lack of implementation is illustrated by the state of the AntiHuman Trafficking Units (AHTUs).
- AHTUs are specialised district task forces comprising police and government officials.
- If properly staffed and funded, AHTUs could provide crucial ground-level data on the methods and patterns of traffickers, which in turn can strengthen community-based awareness and vigilance activities
- draft anti-trafficking Bill also provides for AHTUs/ committees at the national, State and district levels.
- Proper case management must be introduced to give meaning to the “fast track” courts.
- Other problems include the low number of beneficiaries of monetary compensation and the lack of consistent access to psychological counselling
India and USA convergence and divergence
- On the Quad, they showed full convergence.
- On Afghanistan, that there were “more convergences than divergences” on the common positions that there is no military solution to conflict, and that neither country would recognise a Taliban regime that takes Kabul by force.
- However, the divergences are more troubling for India, given that the fallout of the U.S. withdrawal will mean a less secure region.
- The U.S. continues to engage the Taliban in talks for a power sharing arrangement, despite the Taliban leadership’s refusal to enforce a ceasefire, and stop attacks against civilians in areas they take over.
- The militia is also trying to squeeze trade and financial supply chains to the Afghanistan government.
- Perhaps the greatest worry for India is the U.S.’s refusal to hold Pakistan to account for having given shelter to the Taliban, as this will only embolden Islamabad if the Taliban advance in Afghanistan.
- New Delhi tiptoed around the U.S.’s announcement of a new “Quad” with Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan on connectivity, but this is another cause for worry
Compulsory vaccination and Right to life
Why in News?
- In Registrar General v. State of Meghalaya, the Meghalaya High Court ruled that the State government’s order requiring shopkeepers, local taxi drivers and others to get the COVID-19 vaccines before they resume economic activities is violative of the right to privacy, life, personal liberty, and livelihood.
- The court reasoned that forcing people to vaccinate themselves vitiates the “very fundamental purpose of the welfare attached to it”.
- It ruled that the government’s order intrudes upon one’s right to privacy and personal liberty as it deprives the individual of their bodily autonomy and bodily integrity, even though the intrusion is of minority intensity.
- It ruled that the government’s order affects an individual’s right “significantly” more than affecting the general public. It found that the government’s order is not maintainable in law as there is no legal mandate for mandatory vaccination
Why compulsory vaccination?
- Compulsory vaccination has often been deployed in India and abroad.
- The Vaccination Act, 1880, allowed the government to mandate smallpox vaccination among children in select areas.
- Similarly, several State laws, which set up municipal corporations and councils, empower local authorities to enforce compulsory vaccination schemes
- In a recent judgment in Vavřička and Others v. Czech Republic, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) said that the compulsory COVID-19 vaccination scheme is consistent with the right to privacy and religion
- It is a well-established principle that no right is absolute; rather rights are subject to reasonable restrictions.
- According to the order in Justice Puttaswamy v. Union of India, a restriction on privacy can be justified if it passes a three-prong test.
- First, the restriction must be provided in the law.
- State governments have the authority to mandate vaccines under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, which allows them to prescribe regulations to prevent the spread of an epidemic disease.
- Second, the restriction must have a legitimate aim. Compulsory vaccination pursues the legitimate aim of protecting the public from COVID-19.
- Third, the restriction must be proportional to the object pursued.
- With more than four lakh reported deaths and a looming third wave, the current scenario counts as a pressing social need.