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Government Interventions

Why in news?

The Telecom Ministry is ready to roll out a Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) to curtail the rampant cloning and theft of mobile phones across the country.

About the news

  • Once implemented, consumers whose mobile phones are lost or stolen can inform the Department of Telecom (DoT) via a helpline number after filing a report with police.
  • The DoT can then blacklist the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number, effectively blocking the mobile device from accessing any cellular network in the future.

About CEIR

  • Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) is a database of International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers.
 
  • In line with global practices, DoT’s identity register will be a database of IMEI numbers that will consist of three lists
  1. White
  2. Grey
  3. Black
  • Mobile phones with IMEI numbers in the white list will be permitted for use.
  • Mobile phones in the blacklist will be the ones that are reported stolen or lost and will not be allowed to access the network.
  • Devices with IMEI numbers in the grey list will be the ones that do not conform to standards but will be permitted to connect under supervision.
  • The concept of a central identity register is advocated by the GSM Association (GSMA), a body representing mobile operators, equipment manufacturers, software and internet companies, among other stakeholders in the telecom ecosystem.
  • The CEIR will also have access to GSMA’s global IMEI database, allowing comparison of IMEI numbers to identify counterfeit devices.

Objectives of India’s CEIR

  • Curtailment of counterfeit mobiles
  • Blocking of lost or stolen mobiles across networks thus discouraging theft of mobile phones
  • Maintaining a registry of all equipment identity to facilitate database of valid devices
  • Facilitate IMEI-based lawful interception

What is IMEI?

  • It is a 15-digit number that uniquely identify each mobile device.
  • It is usually found printed inside the battery compartment of the phone, but can also be displayed on-screen on most phones by entering *#06# on the dialpad.
  • GSM networks use the IMEI number to identify valid devices, and can stop a stolen phone from accessing the network.
  • The IMEI only identifies the device and has no particular relationship to the subscriber.
  • The phone identifies the subscriber by transmitting the International mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) number, which it stores on a SIM card that can, in theory, be transferred to any handset.
Ht Bt Cotton Controversy

Why in news?

Farmers held in Maharashtra for sale of Ht Bt cotton seeds.

What is allowed?

  • Bt cotton remains the only GM crop allowed to be cultivated in the country.
  • It was developed by US giant Bayer-Monsanto.
  • It involves insertion of two genes viz ‘Cry1Ab’ and ‘Cry2Bc’ from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into cotton seeds.
  • This modification codes the plant to produce protein toxic to Heliothis bollworm (pink bollworm) thus making it resistant to their attack.
  • The commercial release of this hybrid was sanctioned by the government in 2002.

What is the variety now sown?

  • The farmers planted an herbicide-tolerant variety of Bt cotton.
  • This variety (HtBt) involves the addition of another gene, ‘Cp4-Epsps’ from another soil bacterium, Agrobacterium tumefaciens.
 
  • It is not cleared by GEAC.
  • The farmers claim that the HtBt variety can withstand the spray of glyphosate, an herbicide that is used to remove weeds, and thus it substantially saves them de-weeding costs.

What is the procedure involved?

  • In India, it is the responsibility of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the Environment Ministry to assess the safety of a genetically modified plant, and decide whether it is fit for cultivation.
  • The GEAC comprises experts and government representatives, and a decision it takes has to be approved by the Environment Minister before any crop is allowed for cultivation.
  • Besides Bt cotton, the GEAC has cleared two other genetically modified crops, brinjal and mustard.
  • But these have not received the consent of the Environment Minister.
  • Legally, sale, storage, transportation and usage of unapproved GM seeds is a punishable offence under the Rules of Environmental Protection Act 1986.
  • Also, sale of unapproved seeds can attract action under the Seed Act of 1966 and the Cotton Act of 1957.
  • The Environmental Protection Act provides for a jail term of five years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh for violation of its provisions, and cases can be filed under the other two Acts.
  • The culprit can also be charged under various sections of the Essential Commodities Act and the Indian Penal Code.

About GEAC

GEAC
  • GEAC is India’s apex regulator for genetically modified seeds.
  • It is responsible for appraisal of proposals relating to release of genetically engineered (GE) organisms and products into the environment.
  • It is responsible for appraisal of activities involving large scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from the environmental angle.
  • It functions in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF & CC).
  • GEAC is chaired by the Special Secretary/Additional Secretary of MoEF & CC and co-chaired by a representative from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

Economy

Financial Stability Development Council

Why in news?

The 20th Meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was held under the Chairmanship of the Union Minister of Finance.

About FSDC

  • FSDC is the apex regulatory body for regulating financial sector which is vital for bringing healthy and efficient financial system in the economy.
  • FSDC was established in 2010 and the first meeting of the Council was held on 31st December, 2010.
  • FSDC has replaced the High Level Coordination Committee on FConsider the following statements:
  • The International Solar Alliance was launched at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2015.
  • The Alliance includes all the member countries of the United Nations.
 
  • Which if the Statements given above is/are correct?
  • 1 only                               
  • 2 only
  • Both 1 and 2
  • Neither 1 nor 2
  • inancial Markets (HLCCFM), which was facilitating regulatory coordination, though informally, prior to the setting up of FSDC.

Composition

  • The Chairman of the FSDC is the Finance Minister of India.
  • Members include the RBI Governor, heads of the financial sector regulatory authorities (i.e, SEBI, IRDA, RBI, PFRDA and FMC), Finance Secretary and/or Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (Ministry of Finance), Secretary, (Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance) and the Chief Economic Adviser.

Mandate

  • FSDC would monitor macro prudential supervision of the economy, including the functioning of large financial conglomerates.
  • It will address inter-regulatory coordination issues and thus spur financial sector development.
  • It will also focus on financial literacy and financial inclusion.
  • What distinguishes FSDC from other such similarly situated organizations across the globe is the additional mandate given for development of financial sector.

World Affairs

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals

Why in news?

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have panned the imminent journey of the elephants in railway wagons from being taken for religious event.

Why it is controversial?

  • Elephant is a Schedule 1 protected animal and as per the Environment and Forest Ministry.
  • No elephant can be made to walk for more than 3 hours or 30 km at a stretch.
  • Elephants are also not allowed to be transported for 6 hours at a stretch as per guidelines.
  • While it is common for elephants to be transported by train, those transporting them have to follow the rulebook, which is provide a veterinarian on board, among others.

About PETA

  • People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is the largest animal rights organization in the world.
  • It was founded in 1980.
  • It is based on US.
  • Its slogan is "Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way."
  • It focuses on four core issues
  1. Opposition to factory farming
  2. Fur farming
  3. Animal testing
  4. Use of animals in entertainment

Current Affair Capsules

Achondroplasia
  • Achondroplasia is a bone growth disorder that causes disproportionate dwarfism.
  • A drug named, vosoritide helps regulate bone development in children with achondroplasia.
Euthnasia
  • Euthanasia, the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering is now legal in Australia’s second most populous state, Victoria.
  • The scheme will be accessible only to terminally ill adult patients with fewer than six months to live or one year left to live for sufferers of conditions such as motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis.

Map Aided Programme     

National Parks of Nagaland
  • Ntangki National Park
  1. Among the creatures that inhabit the park are the rare hoolock gibbon, golden langur, hornbill, palm civets, black stork, tiger, white-breasted kingfisher, monitor lizard, python and sloth bear.
  2. The name "Ntangki" is derived from the Zeme dialect of the Zeliangrong tribe.

Previous Year Questions Revision Series (Pqrs)

  1. Consider the following statements:
  2. The International Solar Alliance was launched at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2015.
  3. The Alliance includes all the member countries of the United Nations.

Which if the Statements given above is/are correct?

(a)1 only                            (b) 2 only                     (c) Both 1 and 2         (d)Neither 1 nor 2