Current Affairs August 1st and 2nd

‘Right to repair’ movement

Why in News?

  • The average consumer purchases an electronic gadget, knowing that it will very quickly become obsolete as its manufacturer releases newer, shinier, and more amped up versions of the same device.
  • As device grows older, issues start to crop up — smartphone may slow down to a point where it is almost unusable, or gaming console may require one too many hard resets.
  • When this happens, more often than not, one left at the mercy of manufacturers who make repairs inaccessible for most, by dictating who can fix your device and making it an inordinately expensive affair.
  • So, why aren’t consumers permitted to fix their gadgets themselves?
  • This is a question advocates of the worldwide ‘right to repair’ movement have been addressing for decades now.
  • In recent years, countries around the world have been attempting to pass effective ‘right to repair’ laws.
  • Recently, US President signed an executive order calling on the Federal Trade Commission to curb restrictions imposed by manufacturers that limit consumers’ ability to repair their gadgets on their own terms.
  • The UK, too, introduced right-to-repair rules that should make it much easier to buy and repair daily-use gadgets such as TVs and washing machines.

So, what is the right to repair movement?

  • Activists and organisations around the world have been advocating for the right of consumers to be able to repair their own electronics and other products as part of the ‘right to repair’ movement.
  • The movement traces its roots back to the very dawn of the computer era in the 1950s.
  • The goal of the movement is to get companies to make spare parts, tools and information on how to repair devices available to customers and repair shops to increase the lifespan of products and to keep them from ending up in landfills.
  • They argue that these electronic manufacturers are encouraging a culture of ‘planned obsolescence’ — which means that devices are designed specifically to last a limited amount of time and to be replaced.
  • This, they claim, leads to immense pressure on the environment and wasted natural resources.
  • Manufacturing an electronic device is a highly polluting process. It makes use of polluting sources of energy, such as fossil fuel, which has an adverse impact on the environment.
  • Right to repair advocates also argue that this will help boost business for small repair shops, which are an important part of local economies.
  • If a manufacturer has monopoly on repairs, then prices rise exponentially and quality tends to drop, they say.
  • Price is a major factor propounded by these activists. As there is a lack of competition in the repair market in the west, consumers are not able to hunt for the best deal.

But why do electronic manufacturers oppose this movement?

  • Large tech companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Tesla, have been lobbying against the right to repair.
  • Their argument is that opening up their intellectual property to third party repair services or amateur repairers could lead to exploitation and impact the safety and security of their devices.

End to end genome sequencing

  • The Human Genome Project that began in 1990 gave the first results of the complete human genome sequence in 2003.
  • For the first time, we were able to read the blueprint of human life.
  • The human genome is the entire set of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) belonging to a human. This resides in the nucleus of every cell of the human being.
  • The DNA consists of a double-stranded molecule, each of which is built up by four bases – adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T).
  • Every base on one strand pairs with a complementary base on the other strand (A pairs only with T, and C only with G).
  • In all, the genome is made up of 3.05 billion such base pairs, approximately.
  • On the other hand, protein-coding sequences or protein-coding genes are DNA sequences that get transcribed on ribonucleic acid (RNA) as an intermediate step.
  • These in turn make the proteins responsible for various functions such as keeping the body healthy or determining the colour of the eye — proteins carry out the instructions encoded in the genes.

Permafrost reducing


  • Areas with ground temperatures that remain below zero degrees Celsius for more than two years are called permafrost.
  • These are found in mountains as well as high latitude Tundra and Taiga regions.
  • About 13% of such an area on Daisetsu Mountains in Japan, estimated to be approximately 150 square killometres in 2010, is likely to disappear by 2100, under business as usual scenario.

Bacteria reverse active motion

  • Indian scientists have found a theoretical model explaining a unique kind of motion, called direction reversing active motion, exhibited by some bacteria that feed on other microorganisms,
  • This analysis can help in building more efficient artificial micro- and nano-motors used in drug delivery and bio-imaging using the concept to incorporate a reverse gear.
  • Bacteria move by propelling themselves with a velocity that changes direction randomly, which is called active motion.
  • Some microorganisms, such as predator bacteria Myxococcus Xanthus and saprotrophic bacteria Pseudomonas putida, exhibit a unique kind of reversing active motion, whereby, in addition to a diffusive change of direction, the motion also completely reverses its direction intermittent

Sun rotation and age

  • Stars like our Sun can go through a mid-life crisis,.
  • This can lead to dramatic changes in their activity and rotation rates.
  • The study also provides an explanation for the breakdown of the long-established relation between rotation rate and age in middle-aged sunlike stars
  • At about 4.6 billion years of age, the sun is middle aged, that is, it will continue to live for roughly the same period.
  • There are accurate methods for estimating the age of the Sun, such as by using radioactive dating of very old meteorites that have fallen on the Earth.
  • However, for more distant stars which are similar in mass and age to the Sun, such methods are not possible.
  • One of the methods used is called gyrochronology.
  • There is a relationship between rotation rate and age, that is the rotation rate of a star slows down with age
  • When the stellar wind escapes from the star, it carries away with it a part of the angular momentum of the star, which results in its slowing down.
  • The stellar wind has two drivers: one is the high temperature of the outer atmosphere of stars – the corona – which results in an outward expansion and hence plasma winds that emanate out.
  • The other is the magnetic field
  • The magnetic field actually heats the corona and so when magnetic activity is strong the winds are strong and since wind carries away the internal (rotational) angular momentum of the star, it slows down its rotation. This is called magnetic braking.


  • The Ministry of Ayush has collaborated with the U.K.’s London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) to conduct a study on ‘Ashwagandha’ for promoting recovery from COVID-19
  • ‘Ashwagandha’ (Withania somnifera), commonly known as ‘Indian winter cherry’, is a traditional Indian herb that boosts energy, reduces stress and makes the immune system stronger.
  • It is an easily accessible, over-the-counter nutritional supplement in the U.K. and has a proven safety profile.
  • The positive effects of ‘Ashwagandha’ have been observed in long COVID-19, which is a multi-system disease with no evidence of its effective treatment or management.

SC on 66A

  • States and their agencies share an “equal responsibility” to ensure that people are not booked under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act for expressing themselves freely on social media, the Centre has submitted in an affidavit to the Supreme Court..
  • Section 66A was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in a judgment in 2015.
  • Section 66A made messages deemed by the police to be offensive or menacing to anyone, or those that caused “annoyance”, a criminal offence if these were sent through a computer or computer resource.
  • It prescribed a prison term of up to three years on conviction.
  • In its landmark judgment in Shreya Singhal (2015), the Court ruled that the provision was vague and violated the freedom of free speech.
  • It was so broadly defined that it took into its sweep protected speech also, and therefore upset the balance between the exercise of the free speech right and the imposition of reasonable restrictions

Higher inflation

  • In the current scenario, there is no war to create demand. On top of it, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in demand destruction.
  • This is because many jobs have been lost, and even where jobs were retained, there have been pay cuts.
  • Next is inflation. India is suffering from stagnant growth to low growth in the last two quarter
  • Inflation in India is being imported through a combination of high commodity prices and high asset price inflation caused by ultra loose monetary policy followed across the globe.
  • Foreign portfolio investors have directed a portion of the liquidity towards our markets. Compared to a developed capital market such as that of the U.S., India has a relatively low market capitalisation.
  • It, therefore, cannot absorb the enormous capital inflow without asset prices inflating.
  • This might be seen as a welcome move, but it is to be noted that most of India’s population do not own equity or bonds, which means that they cannot cash in on asset inflation.
  • The wealthy upper class gets richer due to access to financial assets. The middle and lower-middle class get destitute due to regressive indirect taxes and high inflation, with their wealth eroding due to said inflation
  • Essential goods have increased in cost due to scarce supply because of these bottlenecks caused by COVID-19 and its reactionary measures enforced.
  • India’s usurious taxation policy on fuel has made things worse.
  • Rising fuel prices percolate into the economy by increasing costs for transport.
  • RBI is infusing massive liquidity into the system by following an expansionary monetary policy through the G-SAP, or Government Securities Acquisition Programme
  • Rising interest rates lead to a decrease in aggregate demand in a country, which affects the GDP.
  • There is less spending by consumers and investments by corporates.
  • Finally, rising non performing assets, or NPAs. Rising interest rates, lack of liquidity, and offering credit to leveraged companies instead of direct subsidies to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to counter the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects will result in NPAs of public sector banks climbing faster



Minsky Moment

  • Our small and medium scale sector is facing a Minsky moment. The Minsky moment, coined by the economist Hyman Minsky, states that every credit cycle has three distinct stages.
  • The first stage is that of cautious lending and risk aversion by the bankers.
  • The second stage is lending to trustworthy debtors who can pay the principal and its interest.
  • The third stage is a state of euphoria caused by rising asset prices where bankers lend to debtors regardless of their ability to pay back interest, let alone the principal.

Nuclear technology

  • Expanded use of nuclear technologies offered immense potential to meet important development needs.
  • In fact, to satisfy energy demands and to mitigate the threat of climate change .
  • the expectation was short lived because the Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan on March 11, 2011 completely transformed the nuclear power situation beyond recognition and dealt a blow to plans for swiftly scaling up nuclear power to address not only climate change but also energy poverty and economic development
  • plutonium is a nuclear explosive which can be used for developing a bomb.
  • They are afraid that the availability of plutonium through commercial channels would be fraught with dangers.
  • The main objection to nuclear enrichment beyond a point in Iran arises from the fact that it would lead to weapon grade uranium being available for them.
  • A Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) is a nuclear reactor that uses fast neutron to generate more nuclear fuels than they consume while generating power, dramatically enhancing the efficiency of the use of resources. Nuclear fission by fast neutron causes the increase in neutrons generated.