Prelims Booster

19th August – Prelims Booster

ARIIA 2020

The Vice President of India Shri M Venkaiah Naidu has announced the Atal Ranking of Institutions of Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) 2020.

Details –

  • This year, a special category for higher educational institutions for women has been introduced to encourage women and bringing gender parity in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship, top place for which was secured by Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women under this category.
  • This year, ARIIA announcement included classification of the institutes into two broad categories and six sub categories. Among these, IIT Madras bagged the top position under the category of Institutes of National Importance, Central Universities, and Centrally Funded Technical Institutes; Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai got the top position under Government and Government Aided Universities; College of Engineering, Pune under Government and Government Aided Colleges; Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, Bhubaneswar under Private or Self-Financed Universities and S R Engineering College, Warangal under Private or Self-Financed Colleges were declared on top positions respectively.

What is ARIIA?

  • Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) is an initiative of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) (now Ministry of Education) to systematically rank all major higher educational institutions and universities in India on indicators related to “Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development” amongst students and faculties.
  • Major Indicators for consideration
    • Budget & Funding Support.
    • Infrastructure & Facilities.
    • Awareness, Promotions & support for Idea Generation & Innovation.
    • Promotion & Support for Entrepreneurship Development.
    • Innovative Learning Methods & Courses.
    • Intellectual Property Generation, Technology Transfer & Commercialisation.
    • Innovation in Governance of the Institution.

Significance –

  • ARIIA ranking will certainly inspire Indian institutions to reorient their mind-set and build ecosystems to encourage high quality research, innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • More than quantity, ARIIA will focus on quality of innovations and will try to measure the real impact created by these innovations nationally and internationally.
  • Moreover, ARIIA will set tone and direction for institutions for future development for making them globally competitive and in forefront of innovation.

Swadeshi Microprocessor Challenge

Union Ministry of Electronics, Communication and Information Technology has launched “Swadeshi Microprocessor Challenge – Innovate Solutions for Aatmanirbhar Bharat” to provide further impetus to the strong ecosystem of Start-up, innovation and research in the country.

What is it?

  • IIT Madras and Centre for Development of Advance Computing (CDAC) have developed two microprocessors named SHAKTI (32 bit) and VEGA (64 bit) respectively using Open Source Architecture under the aegis of Microprocessor Development Programme of Ministry of Electronics and IT.
  • Swadeshi Microprocessor Challenge – Innovate Solutions for Aatmanirbhar Bharat” seeks to invite innovators, startups and students to use these microprocessors to develop various technology products.

Need –

  • As one of the concrete steps towards realising the ambition of self-reliance and a momentous stride towards “Atmanirbhar Bharat”, this initiative is aimed at not only meeting India’s future requirements of strategic and industrial sectors but also has the potential to mitigate the issues of security, licensing, technology obsolescence and most crucially cutting dependency on imports.
  • The design, development & fabrication of these state-of-the-art processor variants at foundry in the country and abroad, is the successful step to leapfrog to ultimate goal of vibrant ecosystem of Electronic System Design & Manufacturing in the country.

How will it work?

  • The “Swadeshi Microprocessor Challenge” is part of the series of proactive, preemptive and graded measures taken by Ministry of Electronics and IT to spur the technology led innovation ecosystem in the country and staying at the forefront of digital adoption.
  • Open to students at all levels and startups, the Challenge demands contestants to not only tinker with these Swadeshi Processor IPs & facilitate them with innovating the frugal solutions for societal needs but also make available the entire home-grown ecosystem around Swadeshi Processors to develop the complex designs for catering to both global and domestic requirements in near future. 
  • Ministry of Electronics and IT offers, internship opportunities, regular technical guidance from the best VLSI & Electronics System Design Experts in the country and financial support to the tune of Rs. 4.30 Crore at various stages of the Challenge.
  • The Challenge spread over 10 months, kick-starts with registration process at https://innovate.mygov.in on 18th August 2020 and culminates in June 2021.

Dhanwantri Rath and AYURAKSHA

A MoU was recently signed between All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) and Delhi Police for extending the Ayurveda Preventive and Promotive health services in the residential colonies of Delhi Police.

Details –

  • These preventive care health services are to be provided through a mobile unit named ‘Dhanwantari Rath’ and Police Wellness Centres and are to be catered by AIIA, supported by Ministry of AYUSH.
  • AYURAKSHA a joint venture of AIIA, an autonomous Institute under Ministry of AYUSH and Delhi Police aims for maintaining the health of frontline COVID warriors like Delhi police personnel through Ayurveda immunity boosting measures. In continuation of the project, Ayurveda Preventive and Promotive health care are now planned to be extended to the families of Delhi Police personnel.
  • Dhanwantari Rath and Police wellness centres would be outreach OPD services of AIIA and aimed to benefit the Families of Delhi Police through Ayurveda Preventive health care services.
  • Dhanwantari Rath – Mobile unit of Ayurveda health care services would consist a team of Doctors who would be visiting Delhi Police colonies regularly. These Ayurveda Health care services are expected to reduce the incidence/prevalence of various diseases and also reduce the number of referrals to hospitals thereby reducing cost to healthcare system as well as patient.

Telecom Security Audit

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has directed telecom companies to undertake an “information security audit” of their networks and submit the report to the department.

What is an information security audit for telecom networks?

  • As the name suggests, an information security audit is a step-by-step assessment of the complete network infrastructure which checks for the equipment installed and the latest upgrades done in order to prevent any data leakages.
  • The auditors also check the data storage and security policies of the company and check whether all sections of the company adhere to the norms set by the company itself.
  • Apart from that, some auditing agencies also launch a controlled bug into the network of the company to check for vulnerabilities, and see what all systems are being impacted.
  • The objective of the audit is also to check for ‘backdoor’ and ‘trapdoor’ vulnerabilities. A ‘backdoor’ or a ‘trap door’ is a bug installed in the telecom hardware which allows companies to listen in or collect data being shared on the network.

Need of the audit –

  • One of the main reasons for the DoT asking telecom companies to get this external audit done by an agency empanelled with the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (Cert-IN) is to check for any ‘backdoor’ or ‘trapdoor’ bugs installed on their networks.
  • While it has not specifically mentioned threat from any company, DoT officials did hint that this audit was necessary since there were reports from other parts of the world of such bugs being installed in telecom networks.
  • The audit is likely to increase the scrutiny on Chinese vendors Huawei Telecommunication Company and ZTE, which have been alleged to spy for the Chinese government. For example, in January 2020, the US had released a report in which it had said that Huawei had inserted ‘backdoors’ in telecom networks it had helped build in mobile phone networks in the US and across the world.

Who will do the audit?

  • In its guidelines, the DoT is likely to suggest to the companies that the external audit should be done only by an agency empanelled with Cert-IN.
  • This means that the audit will no longer remain a commercial compliance norm for the company, but will also look into the national security aspects of the telecom network.
  • Though such internal and external audits are done by companies every three or four years, it will be the first time that the audit will be done by an agency specified by the DoT.
  • The report of the audit is likely to help DoT put in a concrete plan to bar Chinese vendors from the Indian telecom market space if any problems are found.

Arab Sovereignty

In his latest column, C Raja Mohan has contended that the geopolitical realignment marked by the recent normalisation of ties between the United Arab Emirates and Israel intersects with the equally significant reorientation of the Subcontinent’s relationship with the region.

What does he argue?

  • As Pakistan rediscovers its tradition of aligning with non-Arab powers, India must renew its defence of Arab sovereignty.
  • He says that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the engagement with the Arab Gulf has become deeper. The last six years have also coincided with a significant deterioration of Pakistan’s relations with the region, especially with the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Why this change in Arab region?

  • Saudis and Emiratis see sharpening existential threats to their kingdoms from both the Sunni Muslim brotherhood backed by Turkey and Shiite Iran’s regional expansionism.
  • On the other hand, Imran Khan appears to be dreaming of a new regional alliance with Turkey and Iran. Pakistan is also betting that a rising China and an assertive Russia will both support this new geopolitical formation as part of their own efforts to oust America from the Middle East.
  • For Turkey and Iran, the new non-Arab alliance backed by Russia and China is an instrument to advance their role in the Arab world at the expense of the Saudis.
  • It is no secret that Russians would like to bring the US down a notch or two in the Middle East. Beijing will be happy to let the Russians, Turks, and Iranians be the anti-American vanguard, while consolidating China’s economic influence in the region.
  • Islamabad is probably betting that America is on its way out of the Middle East, and that its all-weather strategic partnership with a rising China would give Pakistan new leverage in the changing Middle East.

What should India do?

C Raja Mohan argues that “standing up for Arab sovereignty and opposing the forces of regional destabilisation must be at the very heart of India’s new engagement with the Middle East”.

Bhadbhut Project

The Gujarat Government has recently awarded the contract for a barrage project to a joint venture of two private companies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017 laid the foundation stone of the project.

What is the Bhadbhut Project?

  • It is planned to be a 1.7-km causeway-cum-weir barrage with 90 gates, across the river Narmada, 5 km from Bhadbhut village, and 25 km from the mouth of the river, where it flows into the Gulf of Khambhat.
  • The barrage will stop most of the excess water flowing out of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from reaching the sea and thus create a “sweet water lake” of 600 mcm (million cubic metres) on the river.
  • The barrage will also have a six-lane road that will connect the left and right banks of the river and provide shorten the land distance between two large industrial estates in Surat and Bharuch.
  • The project also aims to prevent flooding in years when rainfall is higher than normal. Embankments 22 km long will be made and will extend upstream towards Bharuch, from either side of the river.

Need of the project –

  • The main purpose of the project is to prevent salinity ingress. Due to the reduced flow of fresh water, saline seawater gushes into the Narmada estuary during high tide, thus increasing salinity along the banks.
  • The sweet water from the reservoir will aim to meet the residential and industrial water requirements of Bharuch, Ankleshwar and Dahej.
  • The project is part of the larger Kalpasar Project, which entails construction of a 30-km dam across the Gulf of Khambhat between Bharuch and Bhavnagar districts. The reservoir is meant to tap the waters of the Narmada, Mahisagar and Sabarmati.

Concerns –

The barrage is expected to interfere with the migration and breeding cycle of hilsa. A marine fish, hilsa migrate upstream and arrives in the brackish water of the Narmada estuary near Bharuch for spawning usually during the monsoon months of July and August, and continue doing so till November. Once the barrage is built, it is expected to block their natural entry.

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