Daily Current Affairs – 10-07-2023

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    Regulation of OTT Services

     Syllabus: GS2/ Governance, Media

    In News

    • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has started consultations on how over-the-top (OTT) communication services like WhatsApp, Zoom, and Google Meet can be regulated.

    More on the news

    • The Draft Telecom Bill released by the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) last year had also recommended bringing OTT services under its ambit by creating a licensing regime for them. 
    • The IT Ministry is already the nodal ministry for regulating such services.
    • In September 2020, TRAI recommended against regulatory intervention for OTT platforms, saying that it should be left to market forces. But, it also said that the sector should be monitored and intervention should be done at an “appropriate time”.
    • In 2022, the DoT wrote back to the authority, requesting it to reconsider its recommendations and also suggest a suitable regulatory mechanism for “selective banning of OTT services”.

    About TRAI

    • The entry of private service providers brought with it an independent regulation in the form of The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which was established in 1997 by an Act of Parliament to regulate telecom services, including fixation/revision of tariffs for telecom services which were earlier vested in the Central Government.
    • TRAI’s mission is to create and nurture conditions for growth of telecommunications in the country in a manner and at a pace which will enable India to play a leading role in emerging global information society.
    • One of the main objectives of TRAI is to provide a fair and transparent policy environment which promotes a level playing field and facilitates fair competition.
    • The TRAI Act was amended by an ordinance, effective from 24 January 2000, establishing a Telecommunications Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to take over the adjudicatory and disputes functions from TRAI. 
    • TDSAT was set up to adjudicate any dispute between a licensor and a licensee, between two or more service providers, between a service provider and a group of consumers, and to hear and dispose of appeals against any direction, decision or order of TRAI.

    What are OTT Services?

    • OTT (Over-the-Top) refers to content providers that deliver media directly over the internet to users without the need for traditional cable or satellite TV services. 
    • Streaming, on the other hand, is the overarching technology that is used to transmit data (audio, video, etc.) in real time over the internet. Essentially, OTT platforms utilize streaming technology to deliver their content to users.

    Why a regulation for OTT communication services?

    • The TRAI has argued that while telecom operators and OTT platforms such as WhatsApp offer similar services, they are not bound by the same requirements – as a result, there is a need for regulatory parity.
    • It said that telecom operators need a service licence for offering voice and SMS services, and on the other hand “OTT communication service providers offer voice call, and messaging and video call services similar to the services provided by TSPs, without any such licence”.
    • Telecom service providers in India are regulated by several laws, including the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933 and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997, and have to adhere to requirements such as lawful interception. Such requirements are not applicable to OTT services currently.
    • It added that OTT services do not financially contribute towards increasing telecom services penetration in the country, unlike the operators who have to pay towards the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).

    What is the key issue between telcos and OTT apps?

    • Apart from a different regulatory regime, there are other financial considerations. Key among them is the avenue of revenues that has shifted from voice and SMS to data.
    • TRAI said that the contribution of data usage in the revenue from mobile subscribers has grown more than ten times from 8.10% in the quarter ending (QE) June 2013 to 85.1% in the QE December 2022.
    • From the year 2014 to 2022, the volume of monthly wireless data usage in India grew by about 156 times from 92.4 million GB (December 2014) to 14.4 trillion GB (December 2022), TRAI said. 
    • In the same period, the average revenue from data usage per wireless subscriber per month in the country increased by about 5.6 times from Rs. 22.19 (for GSM service in the quarter ending December 2014) to Rs. 125.05 (quarter ending December 2022).

    What did the draft telecom Bill prescribe for OTT services?

    • One of the key changes is the inclusion of new-age over-the-top communication services like WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram in the definition of telecommunication services.
    • As per the draft law, providers of telecommunication services will be covered under the licensing regime, and will be subjected to similar rules as other telecom operators. 
    • This issue has been under contention for several years now with telecom service providers seeking a level-playing field with OTT apps over communication services such as voice calls, messages, etc. where operators had to incur high costs of licences and spectrum, while OTT players rode on their infrastructure to offer free services.

    Source: IE

    Global Forest Watch

    Syllabus: GS2/ Government Policies & Interventions; GS3/Conservation

    In Context

    • Recently, new research was established by the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Global Forest Watch.

    Key Findings

    • Loss of forest Cover: Tropical areas lost 4.1 million hectares of forest cover. This is equivalent to losing an area of 11 football fields per minute
      • This forest loss produced 2.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, which is around the same as India’s annual emissions due to the combustion of fossil fuels.
    • Declining forest cover: The total global tree cover loss in 2022 declined by 10%. This includes primary, secondary, and planted forests. This decrease, according to Global Forest Watch, is a direct result of a decrease in fire-related forest losses which decreased 28% from 2021. 
      • Non-fire losses in 2022 increased by slightly less than 1%.

    What are the Primary Forests?

    • Primary forests are mature, natural forests that have remained undisturbed in recent history. 
    • These forests have reached a stage of ecological maturity and exhibit a complex and diverse ecosystem with fully developed tree canopy layers, understory vegetation, and rich biodiversity.

    Significance

    • They often store more carbon than other forests and are rich sources of biodiversity. 
    • Once lost, the regrowth of secondary forests cannot match the ecological and carbon sequestration capabilities of primary forests.

    Reason for the Loss

    • Primary forests are burned for short-term cultivation and then left fallow for regeneration of soil nutrients. 
    • However, increased demand for food has shortened the fallow periods, destroying more forests.
    • WRI measures progress on two goals:
      • Ending deforestation by 2030, and
      • Restoring 350 million hectares (Mha) of lost and degraded forests by 2030  
        • These goals represent multiple global forest pledges.
    • Attaining the target of ending deforestation by 2030:
      • The world is not on track to meet most of its forest-related commitments. 
      • We need to reduce global deforestation by at least 10% every year to meet the 2030 target. 
      • In 2022, although the global deforestation rate was 3.1% lower than the baseline from 2018-2020, it was still over one million hectares above the level needed. 
        • This puts the world off track to meet the 2030 goal.

    • Globalwide Progress: 
      • Countries like Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with substantial tropical forest cover, experienced significant losses in 2022.
    • India:
      • India lost 43.9 thousand hectares of humid primary forest between 2021 and 2022.
      • This accounts for 17% of the country’s total tree cover loss in the period. 

    Global Forest Watch

    • It is an open-source web application to monitor global forests in near real-time. 
    • GFW is an initiative of the World Resources Institute, with partners including Google, USAID, the University of Maryland, Esri, Vizzuality and many other academic, non-profit, public, and private organizations.

    United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2030

    • The agreement on the first-ever UN Strategic Plan for Forests was forged at a special session of the UN Forum on Forests held in January 2017 and provides an ambitious vision for global forests in 2030. 
    • The Strategic Plan features a set of six Global Forest Goals and 26 associated targets to be reached by 2030, which are voluntary and universal.
      • It includes a target to increase forest area by 3% worldwide by 2030, signifying an increase of 120 million hectares, an area over twice the size of France.
    • It builds on the vision of the 2030 Agenda and recognizes that real change requires decisive, collective action, within and beyond the UN System.
    • It aims to promote sustainable forest management and enhance the contribution of forests and trees to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    Source: TH

    Amazon Forests

     

    Syllabus: GS1/Geography

    News

    • According to  Brazil’s national space research agency, deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon fell 34% in the first half of 2023 compared to last year’s data.

    Amazon Rain Forests

    • Location:The region belongs to nine nations of the South American continent.It is bounded by the Guiana Highlands to the north, the Andes Mountains to the west, the Brazilian central plateau to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.
    • Area Covered:The majority of the forest, 60%, is in Brazil, followed by Peru with 13%, Colombia with 10%, and with minor amounts in Bolivia,Ecuador,French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.
    • Climate: Hot and humid climate with temperatures of 26-30°C throughout the year.There are no periodic seasons.The precipitation ranges from 2,000 mm to 10,920 mm annually. 
    • Tribes:Yanomamo,Kayapo,Akuntsu,Matses,Tupi etc.
    • Fauna:Anaconda,Jesus lizard,howler monkey, golden lion tamarin, jaguar,sloth, spider monkey,Amazon River dolphin,toucan and the scarlet macaw,poison dart frog and the glass frog.
    • Flora:Moist broadleaf tropical rainforest like myrtle,laurel,palm, acacia,rosewood,Brazil nut,rubber tree, mahogany and Amazonian cedar. 

    Significance of the Rainforests

    • Lungs of the planet:Rainforests generate about 20% of the world’s oxygen and its trees play a key role in reducing pollutant levels.
    • Fight climate change:They act as a crucial buffer in the global fight against climate change as it holds tremendous capacity to store carbon.
    • Medicinal Properties:Many of these plants contain bioactive compounds capable of treatmenting diseases that are not yet curable, especially cancer.

    Threat to the forests

    • Climate Change:Due to climate change the forests are witnessing various challenges like changes in rainfall patterns,pollution etc.
    • Deforestation: The size of the Amazon forest shrank dramatically as a result of settlers’ clearance of the land to obtain lumber and to create grazing pastures and farmland. 
    • Wildfires:It causes threat to the survival of ecosystem and biodiversity.The 2019 forest fires in the region have led to widespread devastation in the region.

    Amazon River

    • It is the largest river by volume of water and second longest river after the Nile river of Africa in the world.It represents 20% of the global riverine discharge into oceans.
    • Source:River has its source in the Peruvian Andes, at an elevation of 5,598 m.
    • Length:6400 km.
    • Basin:The basin includes the greater part of Brazil and Peru,some parts of Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia and a small area of Venezuela.
    • Tributaries:Japurá , Juruá, Madeira, Negro, Purus, and Xingu rivers.
    • Mouth:Atlantic Ocean on the northeastern coast of Brazil.

    Source:IE

    Facts In News

    Candida auris

    Syllabus: GS2/Health

    In News

    • This is the first time that live Candida auris cultures have been isolated from an animal source.

    About

    • Candida auris is an emerging multidrug-resistant oval-shaped fungus causing life-threatening outbreaks, often in healthcare settings. 
    • This fungal pathogen has been rated as an urgent threat by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and classified as a critical priority group by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

    Candida Auris

    • About: 
      • Candida auris is a yeast species belonging to the genus Candida. It is a species of fungus that grows as yeast, and is one of the few species of the genus Candida which causes candidiasis in humans. 
      • First reported in Japan in 2009, C. auris has since spread all over the world.
      • The prevalence of Candida auris infection globally is unknown and likely underreported due to the lack of commercially available diagnostic methods. 
    • Transmission: 
      • Through contact with contaminated environmental surfaces or equipment, or from person to person.
    • Risk Groups: 
      • Candidiasis is acquired in hospitals by patients with weakened immune systems.
      • In some patients, this yeast can enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, causing serious invasive infections.
    • Treatment: 
      • Most C. auris infections are treatable with a class of antifungal drugs called echinocandins. However, some C. auris infections have been resistant to all three main classes of antifungal medications, making them more difficult to treat. 

    Source: TH

    Performance Grading Index for Districts (PGI-D) 

    Syllabus: GS2/Education

    In News

    • The Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSE&L), Ministry of Education released the Performance Grading Index for Districts (PGI-D) combined report for 2020-21 & 2021-22. 

    Aim & Objective

    • It assesses the performance of the school education system at the District level by creating an index for comprehensive analysis.
    • The PGI-D is expected to help the state education departments to identify gaps at the district level and improve their performance in a decentralized manner. 

    Methodology

    • Grades: PGI-D grades the districts into ten grades  viz., Highest achievable Grade is Daksh, which is for Districts scoring more than 90% of the total points in that category or overall. 
      • The lowest grade in PGI-D is called Akanshi-3 which is for scores upto10% of the total points.

    Findings of the Report

    • None of the districts were able to earn Daksh and Utkarsh, in the latest report, 121 districts were graded as Ati-Uttam for 2020-21, though this number fell by more than half in 2021-22, with just 51 districts making the grade. 
    • In 2021-22, Chandigarh retained its Ati-Uttam status, as well as some districts of Delhi and Gujarat. In Maharashtra, Satara, Kolhapur, Nashik and Mumbai achieved this status as did Kolkata.
    • Uttar Pradesh has several districts under Uttam and Prachesta-1, and four under Prachesta-2. 
    • South Salmara-Mankachar district was the only district in Assam under Akanshi-1 for 2021-22, grade) while the two grades at the bottom had no districts.

    Source: TH

    Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centres 

     

    Syllabus: GS2/Health

    In News

    • As per the Health Ministry Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centres programme is undergoing its biggest ever expansion of services.

    About 

    • Under the latest expansion spree, the Central government is adding services, including screening, prevention, control & management of non-communicable diseases, care for common ophthalmic & ENT problems, basic oral health care, elderly and palliative health care services, emergency medical services, and screening and management of mental health ailments.
    • To complement the expanded services, the essential list of medicines and diagnostics has been expanded to make available medicines at Health Care-Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs).
    • A new cadre of Community Health Officers  has been introduced at the level of SHC-HWC to act as clinicians as well as public health managers and to lead the team of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA), Anganwadi Workers (AWW) and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANM).
    • The facilities are being encouraged to undergo the National Quality Assurance Standards (NQAS) assessment and certification with a target to realise 50% of the public health facilities being certified by 2026.

    Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centres

    • In  2018, the Government of India announced the creation of 1,50,000 Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) by transforming existing Sub Centres and Primary Health Centres as the base pillar of Ayushman Bharat. 
    • These centres would deliver Comprehensive Primary Health Care (CPHC) bringing healthcare closer to the homes of people covering both maternal and child health services and non-communicable diseases, including free essential drugs and diagnostic services.
    • The National Health Policy of 2017 envisioned these centres as the foundation of India’s health system.
    • AB-HWCs provide free essential medicines and diagnostic services, teleconsultation, and health promotion including wellness activities like Yoga.

    Ayushman Bharat

    • AyushmanBharat is an attempt to move from a sectoral and segmented approach of health service delivery to a comprehensive need-based health care service. 
    • Ayushman Bharat aims to undertake path breaking interventions to holistically address health (covering prevention, promotion and ambulatory care), at primary, secondary and tertiary level.
    • Ayushman Bharat adopts a continuum of care approach, comprising of two interrelated components, which are –
      • Establishment of Health and Wellness Centres
      • Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY)

    Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY)

    • The other component of Ayushman Bharat, namely Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) aims to provide financial protection for secondary and tertiary care to about 40% of India’s households. 
    • Together the two components of Ayushman Bharat will enable the realization of the aspiration of Universal Health Coverage.

    Source: TH
     

    Place In News: Churachandpur

    Syllabus: GS1/ Places in News

    In News

    • The name ‘Churachandpur’ in Manipur is being challenged amidst ongoing violence in the region.

    About

    • Kuki-Zomi organizations have been using the name ‘Lamka’ instead, reflecting their desire for autonomy from the state’s Meitei leadership.
    • Locals see it as a way of colonising, that’s why they are sentimental over the name. The consent of the local people was never taken to change the name in 1983. And secondly, Churachand Singh had never ruled there. It was the British who conquered us and took control of the administration.

    Churachandpur

    • Churachandpur district occupies the south-west part of Manipur state.
    • The name ‘Lamka’ — which means ‘crossroads’ in Kuki dialects — can be traced to the 1917-1919 Anglo-Kuki War. 
    • The conflict was a result of Kuki chiefs opposing British demands for recruiting people in the Labour Corps for World War I (between 1914 and 1918).
    • The name Churachandpur — which was first introduced in the area in 1921 — draws from Maharaja Churachand Singh, the king of the Manipur Kingdom from 1891 to 1941. 

    Source: IE