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9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – March 10, 2021

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

About 9 PM Brief- With the 9 PM Daily Current affairs for UPSC brief we intend to simplify the newspaper reading experience. In 9PM briefs, we provide our reader with a summary of all the important articles and editorials from three important newspapers namely The Hindu, Indian Express, and Livemint. This will provide you with analysis, broad coverage, and factual information from a Mains examination point of view.

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We know for a fact that learning without evaluation is a wasted effort. Therefore, we request you to please go through both our initiatives i.e 9PM Briefs and Factly, then evaluate yourself through the 10PM Current Affairs Quiz.

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Why India Should limit its Involvement With QUAD?

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: India and its Neighborhood- Relations.

Synopsis: The stand-off at Ladakh has shown the limits of India-U.S. security ties and India’s involvement in the Quad. So, India should limit its involvement in QUAD and prioritize national security.

How India joined the QUAD?

China’s encroachment & India’s response

  1. China was expanding its footprint in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region over the last few years.
  2. Thus, India required an up-gradation of its naval capabilities and enhancement of ties with the Indian Ocean Region littoral states and other major powers in the region.
  3. Later, due to the shared concerns relating to the rise of China, India-U.S. security ties deepened, For example,
    • Focus on Interoperability of defence equipment and training based on defence purchases,
    • Conducting frequent land and sea exercises,
    • The signing of agreements to harmonize the two countries’ military doctrines and operations.

India got dragged into the QUAD by the US

  • The US wants to maintain its global hegemony and sees china’s rise as a threat to the world order.
  • The deepening relationship with the US gradually pulled India into the ambit of the Indo-Pacific. (Indo-Pacific is a concept that views the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean as an integrated geopolitical space.)
  • This India joined the QUAD to expand its maritime ties with other regional states such as Japan, Australia.

What is the consequence of India’s involvement in QUAD?

  • By joining with the U.S.-led maritime coalition, India ignored the principal areas of its security concerns.
  • In the words of Shivashankar Menon, by joining QUAD India emphasized more focus on maritime borders. But had no clues on how to protect its borders on the mainland.
  • The shifting of India’s alignment with the U.S. and its allies made china respond strongly by engaging in direct confrontation at our territorial borders.
  • This resulted in the border face-off in Ladakh, from April 2020. By doing so China has reminded t India that its security concerns lie in its northern borders, not the west Pacific.

Why India should limit its involvement with QUAD?

  1. First, India is the only Quad member that is not in the west Pacific. It is also the only one that shares an undemarcated 3,500-km land border with China. So, any developments will have more impact on India-China relation. For example, Ladakh standoff.
  2. Second, Quad neither shares a strategic vision nor is it animated by a shared agenda. Its members despite being anti-china continue to forge ties with China. For example,
      • in 2020 China became India’s number one trade partner
      • American investors hold $1 trillion of Chinese equity, and 75% of U.S. companies in China continue to invest there.
  3. Third, The Quad has a core structural problem. It revolves around the U.S. which is self-centred in defining and pursuing its interests and hardly serves the security interests of its members.

What are the suggestions?

  1. One, India needs to dilute its focus on the Indo-Pacific and the Quad. It should prioritise spending of resources on issues concerning national security. (The border, the neighbours and the Indian Ocean.)
  2. Two, the rebuilding of ties with China will have to be a priority concern. Recent disengagement at LAC (Pangong Tso) is a step in the right direction.
  3. Three, the need to assure our commitment to democratic pluralism by building back our national ethos. Foreign policy should be made in line with domestic affairs.
  4. Finally, India’s foreign policy has often been ad hoc, reactive and short-term, reflecting the absence of broad strategic culture. So, with the rising ambition of India, we need to build a cohesive strategic vision to aid India’s interest in the long term.

Cyber attacks on critical Infrastructure

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS 3 Security Issues and basics of cyber security

Synopsis: At present Critical infrastructure of India is vulnerable to cyberattacks. The government have to strengthen its cybersecurity initiatives.

Introduction:

Recently Massachusetts-based firm Recorded Future released a study. It mentioned that Mumbai power outages can be a cyber attack aimed at critical infrastructure. The report also mentioned few important things such as,

  • The Cyberattack was carried out by the state-sponsored group Red Echo.
  • The Red Echo has close ties to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and has also behind many recent cyberattacks by China.
  • So the cyberattacks probably carry a message from China.
  • Chinese cyberattacks in the past focussed on stealing critical information and not on projecting their cyber potential. But their Cyberattack on India might be different.

What is the critical infrastructure?

These are the physical and cyber systems that are so vital to any country. Any attack on these infrastructures will weaken the economic security or public health or national security of a country.

In general 16 sectors are identified as a critical infrastructure of any country. This includes sectors such as the Defence sector, Energy sector, Emergency services, Nuclear reactors and their materials, etc.

What was India’s response to the cyber attack on critical infrastructure?

  1. The power minister denied the reports. Further, he mentioned cyberattack was not the reason behind power failure in Mumbai.
  2. But, the power minister of Maharashtra on the same day mentioned that the Mumbai Cyber Police investigation had suggested a possible cyberattack on critical infrastructure. The cyberattack aimed with the intent to disrupt the power supply.
  3. National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) has also reported cyberattacks by Red Echo to hack the critical grid network.

Government initiatives to protect critical infrastructure from cyberattacks:

  1. Indian government for the past few decades interested in critical information infrastructure protection (CIIP). So, In 2014 the government made NCIIPC as a national nodal agency for CIIP.
  2. In 2019, the government also announced a National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS). The mission allotted a budget of Rs 3,660 crore for five years, to strengthen the Cyber-Physical Systems(CPS).
  3. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) also launched the Industrial Cybersecurity Standards (IEC62443). This standard aimed to address and mitigate current and future cybersecurity challenges. Especially in industrial automation and control systems. But the government is yet to adopt the standards.

Vulnerability of Critical Infrastructures:

Critical infrastructure has become increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The power grid ecosystem is a major target of such cyberattacks.

Critical infrastructures always focused on productivity and reliability during their construction and planning. Further, many of these critical infrastructures were never designed to protect against cyberattacks. This is the main reason for their vulnerability to cyber attacks.

Suggestions to protect critical infrastructure:

The government has to adopt the BIS Industrial Cybersecurity Standards. This will strengthen cybersecurity.

Apart from that, Ministries and Departments need better budgetary allocations for cybersecurity. The government also need a robust infrastructure, processes and audit system to strengthen cyber security.

To strengthen the power sector India needs strong regulation. India can take examples from the North American Electric Reliability Critical Infrastructure Protection (NERC) policy. The policy could serve as a guide to the power sector companies and help in securing their operational technology (OT) networks.

India so far has protected the critical networks like the sensitive Aadhaar ecosystem, the core banking systems etc. To strengthen it further, India can release a new cybersecurity policy addressing wider challenges.


Absence of Regular Chiefs in Central Security Forces

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-3: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

Synopsis: Many Security Forces are functioning without regular chiefs. This will impact their efficiency. So the government has to take the necessary steps to strengthen security forces.

Introduction:

At present in India, Many Security Forces are without regular heads. They play a pivotal role in maintaining the internal security of India. However, they are not given the due importance that not only affects the performance of Security Forces but also affects national security.

Few examples of Security Forces without regular Director-General:

  1. The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)
    • With 3.5 lakh personnel, It is the largest Central force in the country.
    • But the CRPF is now headed by a temporary officer after its regular chief took superannuation.
  2. The Border Security Force(BSF)
    • It is the second-largest force in the country after the CRPF.
    • The BSF tackles Pakistan Army and militants along the borders.
    • Apart from that, it even combats militants in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast.
    • But the Director-General of BSF is also burdened with an additional charge for Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).
  3. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
    • The CBI has been without a head since February 3 after its head retired.
    • The additional Director is currently in charge of CBI until the regular appointment of its head.
    • The regular CBI Director will be appointed through the high-power selection committee(HPC). The HPC consist of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition.
    • An NGO Common Cause has also filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking the appointment of CBI Director.
  4. The National Security Guard(NSG)
    • It is an elite force comprising personnel from the Army and the Central Armed Police Forces
    • It comes into action during crisis times such as the Mumbai attacks of 2008.
    • Further, It is also entrusted with the responsibility of providing security to certain high-risk personalities.
    • But the NSG is without a regular Director-General for nearly six months.
  5. The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D)
    • It is the only research and training organisation for the police forces in the country
    • But the BPR&D also at present headed by an officer with an additional charge.

Impact of having vacancies in Security Forces:

  1. Officers holding provisional charges shy away from taking any major policy decisions.
  2. Apart from that, Many regular chiefs do not get sufficient time for outcomes. When appointed they only have just a few months or a year of service. So, the head of these organizations cannot provide desired outcomes within short tenures.

These issues have an adverse impact on the efficiency of these Security Forces.

Suggestions:

  1. The government should consider announcing the next chief of organisations at least three months in advance. Further, the government also consider appointing a chief with a minimum tenure of two years or till superannuation, whichever is later.
  2. The government can form a panel of officers cleared by the Union Public Service Commission. The government should appoint panel members for future vacancies in top posts. This will speed up the decisions and enhance the efficiency of the Security Forces.

The government not only focus on posting the right kind of officers with adequate skill but also have to post them within a time limit. This will improve the efficiency of the Security Forces.


Need for Fire Safety training and technologies

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 3 – Disaster and disaster management.

Synopsis- Despite large fires in the past, building and fire safety standards continues to be ignored.

Introduction-

The current fire protection measures in all major cities do not account for all contemporary fire hazard issues. It makes fire safety a growing concern.

  • The Fire accident at Eastern Railway Headquarter in Kolkata is a prime example of poor attention to fire safety fundamentals, lack of preparedness plan, and the absence of robust fire mitigation technologies.
  • This accident also provides an opportunity to assess the status of the Model Bill of 2019. It Provides for the Maintenance of Fire and Emergency Services of a state.

Modern technology and preparedness are both important for safety against fire hazards, but both are undervalued in India.

What are the concerns related to fire safety in India?

  • Lack of robust fire mitigation technologies.
  • Most of the modern Buildings in major cities lack sufficient in-built fire safety services such as smoke alarms and sprinkler systems. These systems operate as early warning systems and fire control measures.

What should be done to reduce fire accidents? 

  1. Proper use of fire safety norms prescribed under the National Building Code.
  2. Fire Safety Audits [FSA] should be made mandatory in India. Moreover, the auditing work should be delegated to third-party agencies with experience in the field.
  3. Regular fire safety drills should be conducted so that people are aware of what to do in the event of such tragedy.
  4. Enhancement of public awareness and proper use of technology and resources for the mitigation of fire hazards is needed.
  5. Technology and resource advancement is needed.

 

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Mar 10, 2021

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