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1. Rbi Ban On Cryptocurrency

What is cryptocurrency?

  • Cryptocurrency is a type of digital currency that uses cryptography for security and anti-counterfeiting measures.

  • It is normally not issued by any central authority, making it immune to government interference or manipulation.

  • The control of each cryptocurrency works through distributed ledger technology called blockchain.

  • Examples include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple etc.

1.1. Arguments in favour of the ban

  • Financial stability: If they grow beyond a critical size, they can endanger financial stability as they raise concerns regarding consumer protection, market integrity and their use for speculation.

  • Investor protection: Since cryptocurrencies are virtual and do not have a central repository, a digital cryptocurrency balance can be wiped out by a computer crash if a backup copy of the holdings does not exist.

  • Volatility in the prices: For example: Bitcoin is currently trading below $7,000 as compared to its peak price of over $19,000, a loss of two-thirds of its value.

  • Security risks such as Hacking, passwords being stolen, malware attacks etc. Cryptojacking is a form of cyber-attack in which a hacker hijacks a target's processing power in order to mine cryptocurrency on the hacker's behalf. o Theft of cryptocurrencies from exchanges soared in the first half of this year to three times the level seen for the whole of 2017.

  • Illegal activities: It may be used for money laundering, tax evasion etc. In fact, anonymous nature and lack of a central regulator in cryptocurrency transactions can lead to funding of a host of illegal activities such as child pornography, drug dealing, gun supplies etc.

  • International examples: Countries like China and South Korea etc. have also unleashed a regulatory crackdown. Arguments against ban of cryptocurrencies

1.2. Use of blockchain beyond cryptocurrency

  • It has the power to transform business processes and applications across sectors — from financial services to agriculture, from healthcare to education, among others. Some examples include:

  • Blockchain-powered smart contracts where every piece of information is recorded in a traceable and irreversible manner would enhance ease of doing business, augment the credibility, accuracy and efficiency of a contract and reduce the risk of frauds substantially.

  • Property deals which are still carried out on paper making them prone to disputes, can be benefitted through in-built transparency, traceability and efficiency in this system

  • Financial services: For example, Yes Bank adopted this technology to fully digitise vendor financing for one of its clients which enables timely processing of vendor payments without physical documents and manual intervention while tracking the status of transactions in real time. Even NITI Aayog is reportedly building a platform called 'IndiaChain' — a shared, India-specific blockchain infrastructure to leverage the trinity of Jan-Dhan-Yojana, Aadhaar and the mobile.

  • Healthcare and pharmaceuticals: It involves a lot of sensitive clinical data which demands a secure and reliable system.

  • Insurance sector: It may play a crucial part in health or agriculture insurance claims management by reducing the risk of insurance claim frauds.

  • Education sector to ensure time-stamped repository of pass-outs and job records of students to enable easier verification of candidates by the employees.

  • In sync with rapid changes in the payments industry: such as emergence of private digital tokens and the rising costs of managing fiat paper/metallic money.

  • Potential benefits of blockchain technology or the distributed ledger technology, which is the backbone of cryptocurrencies, for financial inclusion and enhancing the efficiency of the financial system.

  • Difficult to counterfeit as compared to physical currency.

  • No transaction fees: There aren’t usually transaction fees for cryptocurrency exchanges because the miners are compensated by the network.

  • Shift of trade outside India: It may lead to millions of dollars leaving the country to carry on trade in these currencies outside India

  • Benefits for customers: The rise of cryptocurrencies offers ordinary people the rare opportunity to choose among multiple currencies in the marketplace. It also may help people gather funds for a cause.

  • Prohibition is not the solution: as people who are using cryptocurrency for illegal purposes may drive the trade underground where it will be purchased through cash or other untraceable commodities.

Way forward

  • In this age of digitisation, it is difficult to ban cryptocurrencies. For example, cryptocurrency exchanges have found a way around the ban by introducing currency-to-currency trading platforms, which essentially bypass the regulators. Hence, it’s important we regulate instead of banning. Also, some more steps can be taken in this regard:

  • Upgrading the technology platforms to be secure against fraud and data leak.

  • Setting up some kind of a global oversight to guard against misuse of the new currency by anti-social elements, terrorists and enemy countries.

  • Educating the users and greater interface with the tax authorities for introducing these currencies in future.

  • Promoting stability in the sector, for e.g. – IBM is backing a new cryptocurrency pegged to the US dollar, in a partnership with US-based financial services provider which provides stability in this sector.

2. NET NEUTRALITY

What is Net Neutrality?

  • The basic principles of net neutrality is that nobody owns the internet and it is free and open to all and that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must treat all internet traffic equally without any regard to the type, origin or destination of the content or the means of its transmission.

  • According to TRAI net neutrality principles, any form of discrimination or interference in the treatment of content, including practices like blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content is prohibited.

2.1. Significance

  • Big victory for open internet movement: specially coming at a time when USA recently repealed net neutrality rules.

  • Implications for future of internet in India: India is expected to have more than 500 million internet users; hence the acceptance of net neutrality rules will have far reaching implications for the future of internet in India.

  • A Progressive move: The government’s decision is being seen as progressive as mobile operators, ISPs and social media companies cannot engage in, or seek, preferential treatment of content thus it will not allow any operator or ISP to create a monopoly on the internet.

  • Important for Innovation and Ease of doing business: Net neutrality is crucial for innovation, competition and the end consumers that provide a level playing field to content providers and startups.

  • Exceptions to critical, new and emerging services: such as autonomous driving, tele-medicine, disaster management, etc. which may require prioritized internet lanes and faster than normal speeds. A committee will look into the possible exceptions for critical services.

  • Provides enforcement and monitoring mechanism: Government has decided to form a multi-stakeholder body for monitoring and enforcement of Net neutrality.

Way forward

  • Internet must remain an open platform unhindered by any entity so that users and customers have a choice to access content of their liking.

  • India must align with other like-minded countries to promote an open internet, for instance India recently signed an MoU with European Union to promote net neutrality.

3. Wipo Treaties

3.1. About WIPO Copyright Treaty

  • WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation)

  • It is one of the 15 specialized agencies of the United Nations with headquarters at Geneva, Switzerland.

  • It aims to promote worldwide protection of both industrial property (inventions, trademarks, and designs) and copyrighted materials (literary, musical, photographic, and other artistic works).

  • It is a special agreement under the Berne Convention (for protection of literary and artistic works) that deals with the protection of works and the rights of their authors in the digital environment.

  • It grants following rights: o the right of distribution

  • the right of rental

  • a broader right of communication to the public

  • Any Contracting Party must comply with the substantive provisions the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

  • The WCT mentions two subject matters to be protected by copyright: computer programs and compilations of data which constitute intellectual creations

  • The term of protection must be at least 50 years for any kind of work.

3.2. About WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty

  • It deals with the rights of two kinds of beneficiaries, particularly in the digital environment: o performers (actors, singers, musicians, etc.); and

  • producers of phonograms (persons or legal entities that take the initiative and have the responsibility for the fixation of sounds)

  • It grants them these economic rights: the right of reproduction; the right of distribution; the right of rental; and the right of making available.

  • The term of protection must be at least 50 years.

3.3. Benefits of accession to two treaties

  • It extends coverage of copyright to the internet and digital environment and will instill confidence and allow distribution of creative works in digital environment.

  • It is a step towards achieving the objective laid in the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy 2016 which aims to get value for IPRs through commercialization by providing guidance and support regarding commercial opportunities of e-commerce.

  • It will facilitate international protection of domestic rights holders by providing them level-playing field in other countries as India already extends protection to foreign works.

  • It would facilitate the fight against the menace of on-line piracy by enabling recourse to legal remedies by authors, performers and producers of phonograms.

4. New Source Of Neutrinos In Space Discovered

More on news

  • Neutrinos are one of the most abundant particles in the universe.

  • They are incredibly difficult to detect as they have very little interaction with matter.

  • They do not carry electric charge.

  • Because neutrinos are electrically neutral, they are not affected by the electromagnetic forces which act on electrons. Neutrinos are affected only by a "weak" sub-atomic force of much shorter range than electromagnetism, and are therefore able to pass through great distances in matter without being affected by it.

  • Three types of neutrinos are known. Each type or "flavour" of neutrino is related to a charged particle- electron, muon and the tau.

  • They can change from one flavor to another as they travel. This process is called neutrino oscillation and is an unusual quantum phenomenon.

  • So far neutrinos had only been observed originating from supernovae (exploding stars) and the sun. They also come from the cosmic rays that come from beyond the solar system, and from the Big Bang from which our Universe originated.

  • Neutrinos can also be made artificially. They are produced in radioactive decays and in nuclear reactors.

5. National Viral Hepatitis Control Program

National Viral Hepatitis Control Program

  • It aims to reduce morbidity and mortality due to viral hepatitis.

  • The key strategies under the programme are:

  • Preventive and Promotive interventions with focus on awareness generation.

  • Safe injection practices and socio-cultural practices.

  • Sanitation and hygiene like safe drinking water supply, infection control and immunization.

  • Co-ordination and collaboration with different Ministries and departments.

  • Increasing access to testing and management of viral hepatitis.

  • Promoting diagnosis and providing treatment support for patients of hepatitis B &C through standardized testing and management protocols with focus on treatment of hepatitis B and C.

  • Building capacities at national, state, district levels and sub-district level up to Primary Health Centres (PHC) and health and wellness centres.

 

It seeks to

  • Establish National program management unit at the Centre which will act as the hepatitis cell within the National Health Mission.

  • Establish State program management unit which will also be the state coordination unit in the first year and will act as the hepatitis cell within existing state health governance structure i.e. state health society.

  • Upgrade and strengthen the existing laboratories in the state to perform the requisite diagnostic functions for testing of viral hepatitis. Free drugs and diagnosis for Hepatitis B and C will be provided under the programme.

  • Establish 665 testing centres in the public sector that can offer access to quality assured testing and diagnosis of hepatitis over 3 years.

  • Establish at least 100 treatment sites in the public sector that can offer access to quality assured management of Viral Hepatitis with focus on treatment of Hepatitis C over 3 years. It aims to treat a minimum of 3 lakh hepatitis C cases over a period of three years.

6. Coloured X-Ray On Human

6.1. About colour X-ray

  • The device is based on the traditional black-and-white X-ray and incorporates particle-tracking technology developed for CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.

  • The CERN technology called Medipix is like a camera detecting and counting individual sub-atomic particles as they collide with pixels while its shutter is open. This allows for high-resolution, high-contrast pictures.

  • When X-rays travel through your body, they're absorbed by denser materials (bones) and pass right through softer ones (muscles and other tissues). The places where the X-rays couldn't pass through appear solid white.

  • Instead of recording the X-rays as either passing right through the body or getting absorbed by the bone, this scanner is better as it records the precise energy levels of the X-rays as they hit each particle in your body. It then translates those measurements into different colours representing your bones, muscles, and other tissues.

  • Thus, it clearly shows the difference between bone, muscle and cartilage and also the position and size of cancerous tumours as well.

  • Other benefits include o More accurate diagnosis as it would produce clearer and more accurate pictures.

  • Future version may enable complete image of a human, which may help in 3D printing a lost limb or a malfunctioning organ

  • Customised medical care to individual needs as it would not just show fractures, surrounding tissues, blood and nerve supply but also structures exactly as they are.

7. ‘P NULL’ PHENOTYPE

7.1. More about the news

  • ABO and Rh are the common types of blood group systems. However, there are more than 200 minor blood group antigens known besides A, B and Rh.

  • A blood type is considered rare if fewer than one in 1,000 people have it. A person is said to have rare blood group when he lacks the high frequency antigen or multiple common antigens.

  • The ‘P null’ blood group has anti-PP1Pk antibody that has the potential to cause acute intravascular haemolytic reaction to incompatible blood transfusion. This antibody is also known to cause recurrent abortions in women.

  • Finding compatible unit for such case is a near impossible task without a well-established rare donor panel, hence Rare donor registry should be maintained for managing such cases.

8. Formalin

Details

  • Formalin (formaldehyde) is an anti-decomposition agent.

  • It is a colorless flammable chemical used in pressed wood products, fabrics, insulation materials.

  • It is also used as fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant.

  • In mortuaries it is used as a preservative for bodies and organs to ensure the specimen doesn’t decompose.

  • Short term damages for formaldehyde are watery eyes, coughing, wheezing, nausea and skin irritation.

  • International agency for research on cancer and US FDA both classify formaldehyde as a human carcinogen. It increases risk of leukaemia, blood cancer etc.

  • The most common reasons for using formalin is the easy availability, unavailability of good quality ice at harvest centres, inadequate insulation during domestic transport and lack of warehousing facility for bulk storage of fish.

July Science and Technology

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