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Prelims Booster

24th July – Prelims Booster

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has paid tributes to Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak on his Jayanti.

About Bal Gangadhar Tilak –

  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak or Lokmanya Tilak was an Indian nationalist, social reformer and lawyer.
  • The British called him, ‘The Father of the Indian unrest’. He was given the honorary title of ‘Lokmanya’, which means admired (or accepted) by the people.
  • He is known as the ‘Father of Swarajya’ and made ‘Swaraj‘ as a part of the independence movement and he was the strongest advocates of ‘Swaraj’ (self-rule).
  • He was instrumental in the start of Swadeshi movement.
  • He joined the Indian National Congress (INC) in the year 1890.
  • He started two newspaper, ‘Kesari’ in Marathi and ‘Mahratta’ in English (referred as ‘Maratha’).
  • He had a political regime with Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai and they were referred as ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’.
  • He organised ‘Deccan Education Society’ along with Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, Mahadev Ballal Namjoshi and Vishnushastri Chiplunkar. It was set up to teach young Indians, the nationalist ideas through an emphasis on Indian culture.
  • He founded the ‘All India Home Rule League’ in 1916 along with Joseph Baptista, Annie Besant and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Tilak founded the first home rule league at the Bombay provincial congress at Belgaum in April,1916.
  • He transformed the household worshipping of Ganesha into a grand public event ‘Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav’ in 1894.
  • Tilak was the pioneer for the celebration of “Shiv Jayanti“, the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji.

Chandrashekhar Azad

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has paid tributes to Chandrashekhar Azad on his Jayanti.

About Chandrashekhar Azad –

  • Chandrashekhar Azad was a great Indian freedom fighter. His fierce patriotism and courage inspired others of his generation to enter freedom struggle. He was the mentor of Bhagat Singh, another great freedom fighter, and along with Bhagat Singh he is considered as one of the greatest revolutionaries that India has produced.
  • In December 1921, when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi launched the Non-Cooperation Movement, Chandra Shekhar, then a 15-year-old student, joined. As a result, he was arrested. On being presented before a magistrate, he gave his name as “Azad” (The Free), his father’s name as “Swatantrata” (Independence) and his residence as “Jail”. From that day he came to be known as Chandra Shekhar Azad among the people.
  • He was involved in the Kakori Train Robbery of 1925, in the attempt to blow up the Viceroy of India’s train in 1926, and at last the shooting of J. P. Saunders at Lahore in 1928 to avenge the killing of Lala Lajpat Rai. The Colt pistol of Chandra Shekhar Azad is displayed at the Prayagraj Museum.
  • The Jallianwala Bagh tragedy which took place in 1919 was when he decided to join the Non-Cooperation movement led by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920.
  • He was the chief strategist of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA). He also inspired Bhagat Singh. Chandrashekhar Azad was attracted towards more aggressive and revolutionary ideals. He committed himself to complete independence by any means. Azad and his compatriots would target British officials known for their oppressive actions against ordinary people and freedom fighters.
  • He was on the hit list of British police and the they badly wanted to capture him dead or alive. On February 27, 1931 Azad met two of his comrades at the Alfred Park Allahabad. He was betrayed by an informer who had informed the British police. The police surrounded the park and ordered Azad to surrender. Azad fought alone valiantly and killed three policemen. But finding himself surrounded and seeing no route for escape, he shot himself. Thus he kept his pledge of not being caught alive.

Draft Report on Non-Personal Data

A draft report on non-personal data has sought to bring some clarity to a pack of contentious issues in India’s data privacy space.

Details –

  • The panel has tried, but with limited success, to define non-personal data. It has delved into crucial subjects such as ownership of data, undertaking a data business and data sharing.
  • It puts forward useful suggestions on the need to set up a ‘non-personal data regulatory authority’ to manage India’s vast and emerging data space, while nurturing a creative and egalitarian technology architecture.
  • However, the report is not free of the ambiguities embedded in earlier policy papers on the subject, including the overarching Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill 2019.

Major concerns –

  • A major concern arising out of the new report is the lack of clarity on how it defines non-personal data. It considers this to be data that is not related to an identified or identifiable natural person.
  • According to the report, this would include data on weather conditions, from sensors installed on industrial machines, from public infrastructure, and so on.
  • Another category of non-personal data could pertain to information that initially was personal data but were later made anonymous. For instance, the report says that data that are aggregated and to which “certain data transformation techniques” are applied to the extent that the individual or specific events related them are no longer identifiable can qualify as anonymous data.
  • The data transformation techniques that can be used to “anonymise” personal data are not clearly defined. Vested interests can exploit the situation.
  • The panel’s suggestions also end up giving the State immense powers to define and determine non-personal data and use that for its interests. This doesn’t augur well for a democracy, besides hurting business interests. A new form of digital control raj should be avoided.
  • Another potentially controversial idea is the suggestion to create a Non-Personal Data Authority. The panel suggests that data can be classified into three categories — public, community and private non-personal data, based on their ownership and origin of creation. There is little clarity on who owns what kind of data as reflected in the way the report defines and identifies stakeholders such as data principal, data custodian, data trustee and data trust. The roles of these parties are still not delineated.

Conclusion –

These issues need to be addressed to avoid unethical practices, especially in a country like India which is witnessing a data economy explosion. Going forward, this could lead to a chain of exploitative practices, legal wrangles and policy deadlocks, only benefiting vested interests — if the legal framework is not revisited. Bringing transparency into the data debate is the need of the hour.

US-China Cold War

Tensions between China and the US have reached the most acute levels since the countries normalised diplomatic relations more than four decades ago, with the US government’s ordering that China close its Houston consulate being just the latest example.

The US administration is even weighing a blanket ban on travel to the United States by the 92 million members of China’s ruling Communist Party and the possible expulsion of any members currently in the country, an action that would likely invite retaliation against American travel and residency in China.

What are the trigger events?

  1. Coronavirus and anti-Chinese racism – US President Donald Trump and his subordinates have blamed China for spreading the coronavirus, which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. They have repeatedly described the virus in racist and stigmatising terms, calling it the Wuhan Virus, China virus and Kung Flu. The administration also has defunded and ordered a severing of ties with the World Health Organization, accusing it of having abetted shortcomings in China’s initial response to the outbreak.
  2. Trade relationship – Trump won office in 2016 partly on his accusations that China was exploiting the country’s trade relationship with the United States by selling the country far more than it purchased. In office, he decreed a series of punitive tariffs on Chinese goods, and China retaliated, in a trade war that has now lasted more than two years.
  3. South China Sea – The Trump Administration has increasingly challenged China’s assertions of sovereignty and control over much of the South China Sea, including vital maritime shipping lanes. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo decreed that most of China’s claims in the South China Sea are “completely unlawful,” setting up potential military confrontations between Chinese and US naval forces in the Pacific.
  4. Battle over technology – China has long been accused by successive US administrations of stealing American technology. The Trump White House has escalated the accusations by seeking an international blacklisting of Huawei, China’s largest technology company, calling it a front for China’s efforts to infiltrate the telecommunications infrastructure of other nations for strategic advantage.
  5. Expulsion of journalists – Accusing China’s state-run media outlets of fomenting propaganda, the Trump administration sharply limited the number of Chinese citizens who could work for Chinese news organisations in the United States. China retaliated by ordering the expulsions of journalists from The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, and took other steps that suggested further impediments to American press access in China were looming.
  6. Expulsion of students – The Trump administration has taken steps to cancel the visas of thousands of Chinese graduate students and researchers in the United States who have direct ties to universities affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army, according to US officials knowledgeable about the planning.
  7. Hong Kong – In November 2019, President Trump, with bipartisan support, signed legislation that could penalise Chinese and Hong Kong officials who suppress dissent by democracy advocates in Hong Kong that was guaranteed some measure of autonomy by China. Recently, President Trump has taken steps to end Hong Kong’s preferential trading status with the United States after China passed a sweeping security law that could be used to stifle any form of expression deemed seditious by China.
  8. Xinjiang’s Uighur Muslims – The US Administration has recently imposed sanctions on a number of Chinese officials, including a senior member of the Communist Party, over human rights abuses by China in the Xinjiang region against the country’s largely Muslim Uighur minority.
  9. Taiwan and Tibet – Recently, the Trump administration has approved a $180 million arms sale to Taiwan, part of a far bigger arms deal that has angered Chinese authorities, who regard the self-governing island as part of China. Another long-standing source of Chinese anger is the U.S. deference to the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader-in-exile of Tibet, the former Himalayan kingdom in China’s far west. In 2018 Trump signed a bill that penalises Chinese officials who restrict U.S. officials, journalists and other citizens from going freely to Tibetan areas.

H-CNG

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has notified draft notification seeking comments and suggestions from the public and all stakeholders for amendment to Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1979 for inclusion of Hydrogen enriched CNG as an automotive fuel.

What is Hydrogen-CNG?

  • HCNG is a vehicle fuel which is a blend of compressed natural gas and hydrogen, typically 8-50% hydrogen by volume.
  • Existing natural gas engines can be used with HCNG, although higher hydrogen blends require re-tuning of the engines for optimal performance. Studies indicate that HCNG mixtures with 20- 30% hydrogen by volume are optimal for vehicle performance and emissions reduction.
  • Delhi has become India’s first city to launch hydrogen-enriched CNG (HCNG) buses in 2019

Advantages –

  • No retrofitting required – It does not need any modification of the engine or retrofitting. Only some calibration is required thus allowing governments and agencies to promote the use of hydrogen to greater number of people at less cost. It is usable with the existing CNG infrastructure. It requires only small hydrogen storage and a column for the mixing of hydrogen with natural gas. Safety properties are similar to CNG.
  • Lower pollutant emissions – Global HCNG testing to date has demonstrated the fuel’s potential to reduce nitrous oxide (NOx), carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (approximately 70%) and hydrocarbon emissions (approximately 15%) vehicle emissions compared to traditional CNG. Hydrogen addition to natural gas can decrease engine’s unburned hydrocarbons and speed up the combustion process.
  • Improves fuel economy – It improves the engine efficiency, lowers fuel consumption upto 5 per cent as compared to a CNG bus.
  • The thermal efficiency of both Natural gas and HCNG increases with increase in load which makes it an ideal fuel for high load applications and heavy-duty vehicles. 

Issues involved –

  • Determining the most optimised hydrogen/compressed natural gas ratio- If the hydrogen faction increases above a certain limit, it will result in abnormal combustion such as pre-ignition, knock and backfire occur.
  • Ensure safe infrastructure– Probably most evident challenge for wide-spread use of the new fuel is the current lack of infrastructure. Similar to other gaseous fuels, natural gas and hydrogen are both lighter than air, therefore if there is a leak it will quickly disperse into air with adequate ventilation.
  • Cost and continuous availability- The cost of Hydrogen is higher than cost of Natural gas resulting in HCNG being costlier than CNG. Further, continuous availability of HCNG needs to be assured before embarking on its major use in IC engines.
  • Continued engine performance, emissions and durability testing in variety of engine types and sizes need to be developed to increase consumer and manufacturer confidence.

Daily MCQs

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