We are in favour of BRICS expansion: PM
Context: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed India’s welcome to the expansion of the BRICS grouping through a consensus-based approach during the plenary session of the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg.
Relevance: GS -2 Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
The current members of BRICS are Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
Prime Minister Modi urged member states to leverage India’s digital solutions and collaborate for the betterment of the Global South.
- Expansion of BRICS: Prime Minister Modi emphasized India’s support for the expansion of BRICS and its membership through a consensus-based process. He highlighted India’s advocacy for the inclusion of the African Union in the G-20, showing India’s commitment to strengthening ties with the African continent.
- Global South Focus: The plenary session underscored India’s priorities during its G-20 Presidency year, with Prime Minister Modi emphasizing the importance of the Global South and the African Union. The East African nation of Comoros represented the African Union at the summit.
- Leaders’ Participation: The session was attended by leaders from BRICS member countries, including Brazil, China, and South Africa. Russian President Vladimir Putin participated virtually, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov leading the Russian delegation in person.
- Backdrop of Expansion Dialogue: The expansion of BRICS has triggered discussions on various topics, including Russia’s efforts to create an alternative global political-economic model in response to the G-7. This initiative has gained prominence following economic sanctions against Russia due to the conflict with Ukraine.
- Differences Among BRICS Members: While Russia and China have advocated for de-dollarization in global systems, Indian officials have not taken an aggressive stance on this matter. India’s approach to the changing global landscape indicates differences among the BRICS founding members.
How can ‘One Health’ help India, and India help ‘One Health’?
Context: The concept of ‘One Health’ is gaining global recognition and India is making significant progress in implementing strategies based on this approach to enhance its response to health crises.
Relevance: GS 2 Health
- The idea of One Health has ancient origins, with Hippocrates and Rudolf Virchow acknowledging the relationships between public health, clean environments, and the interconnectedness of animal and human medicines.
- Veterinarians like James Steele and Calvin Schwabe further emphasized the importance of ecology for both animal and human health.
Benefits of One Health:
- Promotes intersectoral coordination and collaboration among government units responsible for health, environment, agriculture, and more.
- Helps manage and respond to health crises more efficiently, minimizing resource requirements.
- Improves decision-making for resilient and sustainable policies.
Recent Initiatives in India:
- India’s ‘Standing Committee on Zoonoses’ was established in 2006 to address zoonotic challenges.
- The Department of Biotechnology launched India’s first One Health consortium in 2021 to assess animal and zoonotic diseases.
- In 2022, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairy launched a One Health pilot project in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and industry groups.
- India is preparing for a ‘National One Health Mission’ to integrate existing One Health initiatives.
- Communication: Establish mechanisms for communication between ministries and sectors involved in One Health.
- Collaboration: Exchange knowledge and expertise among sectors, clarify roles, and engage in short-term interventions.
- Coordination: Routine and long-term activities led by a coordinating agency to achieve One Health outcomes.
- Integration: Develop a policy framework for sectors to share resources and streamline programs.
Collaborative Science: To fully realise the benefits of One Health, India should create an integrated, science-based environment where researchers from various disciplines can collaborate and share resources effectively.
The U.K.-India relationship is alive with opportunity
Context: The United Kingdom acknowledges India’s role as the host of the G-20, a significant platform for international cooperation, and views trade as a catalyst for growth and prosperity.
Relevance: GS -2 Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Trade Collaboration and Benefits:
- Collaborating on global value chains’ resilience and digitalization of trade documents is crucial to unlock the full potential of global trade.
- With India’s middle class projected to grow significantly by 2050, enhancing the UK-India trade relationship could greatly benefit UK businesses.
- The UK and India already share a robust trading relationship, with bilateral trade worth £36 billion in 2022.
- India remains the UK’s second-largest source of investment projects, with 118 new projects creating over 8,000 jobs in the UK in the last financial year.
- The UK has invested $34 billion in India through foreign direct investment, contributing to job creation and growth opportunities.
- Tata Group’s investment of £4 billion in the UK’s automotive sector, including a gigafactory, exemplifies the strengthening UK-India business ties.
Ambitious Free Trade Agreement (FTA):
- UK and India are working on an ambitious Free Trade Agreement that can further enhance their bilateral trading relationship.
- Discussions cover goods, services, and investments, aiming for a balanced, mutually beneficial deal that supports businesses.
- The partnership between the UK and Tata Group, as well as the UK’s selection as the site for Tata Group’s gigafactory, demonstrates the growing collaboration.
Diverse Partnership Beyond Trade:
- The UK and India share a strong partnership encompassing culture, sport, education, and tourism.
- The “living bridge” between the nations is exemplified by shared cultural interests, including Bollywood movies shot in the UK.
- The vibrant Indian diaspora in the UK, contributing across various sectors, including education and workforce, strengthens the ties.
‘Alive with Opportunity’ Campaign:
- The UK is launching a £1.5 million marketing campaign, “Alive with Opportunity,” to celebrate the bond between the UK and India.
- The campaign aims to stimulate interest in UK goods and services, promote business growth, and attract Indian investment.
- Over the next year, the campaign will showcase the multifaceted UK-India relationship, highlighting trade, culture, sports, and more.
India lights up the dark side of the moon
What next for ISRO after the Chandrayaan-3 mission?
On the moon, over the moon
Context: India has achieved a significant milestone by successfully landing Chandrayaan-3’s lander module with the rover on the moon’s surface.
Relevance: GS 3 Space
India’s Successful Moon Landing
- India now joins a prestigious group of countries — the U.S., Russia, and China — that have achieved successful moon landings.
- This achievement also marks India as the first nation to touch down on the moon’s polar region.
- The focus now shifts to the rover within Vikram, named Pragyan.
- Pragyan is set to perform in-situ chemical analysis while moving on the lunar surface.
Rover Deployment and Experiments
- Pragyan rover’s deployment is anticipated within hours or a day, depending on conditions.
- The rover will carry out two crucial experiments using its payloads: LASER Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) and Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS).
- LIBS aims to analyze elemental composition and mineralogy to enhance understanding of the lunar surface.
- APXS will determine elemental composition of lunar soil and rocks near the landing site.
Overcoming Past Setbacks
- The successful landing of Chandrayaan-3’s lander erases the disappointment of Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander failure in 2019.
- During Chandrayaan-2’s attempt, the Vikram lander crashed before touchdown and lost communication with ground stations.
India’s Space Endeavors and Future Leadership
- India’s success in lunar exploration places it in an advantageous position as a member of the Artemis Accords, a multilateral effort led by the U.S. to expand human space exploration.
- India has an opportunity to lead other Artemis countries by maximizing the contributions of the space sector to their economies.
- Russia’s recent Luna-25 spacecraft failure underscores India’s potential role in collaborative lunar research.
Chandrayaan-3’s Achievements and Opportunities
- Chandrayaan-3’s successful landing demonstrates India’s technological prowess and ability to conduct interplanetary missions.
- The rover’s role in scientific missions highlights the importance of investing in research and prioritizing scientific outcomes.
- The Lunar Polar Exploration (LUPEX) mission, a collaboration between ISRO and JAXA, is set to study water-ice at the moon’s South Pole, using landing technology developed by ISRO.
Path Forward for ISRO and India’s Space Program
- Chandrayaan-3’s success empowers ISRO to pursue ambitious goals such as electrically-powered satellites, quantum communications, human space flight, reusable launch vehicles, planetary habitation, and more.
- The private sector’s contributions will be crucial to accelerating innovation and lowering launch costs.
- With renewed confidence, ISRO is poised to lead the way in space exploration and development, opening new avenues for India’s progress.
Can AI be ethical and moral?
Context: Many countries are introducing AI regulations to ensure responsible use.
Relevance: GS 3 Science and Technology
AI Regulations and Biases
- AI’s biases, reflecting biases in data or developer perspectives, can lead to unjust outcomes, posing a significant challenge to integrating AI into governance.
Ethical Concerns and Kantian Philosophy
- Immanuel Kant’s ethical philosophy emphasizes autonomy, rationality, and moral duty.
- Applying Kantian ethics to AI in governance raises concerns about humans abdicating moral responsibility to algorithms.
- Isaac Asimov’s ‘Three Laws of Robotics’ highlight challenges in codifying ethics into rules for AI-driven decision-making.
Challenges in Delegating Ethical Decisions to AI
- AI’s integration into decision-making is inevitable.
- Delegating ethical decisions to AI presents challenges in translating complex human moral reasoning into algorithmic form.
Programming Ethics into AI: A Complex Endeavor
- Programming ethics into AI is complex, as ethics are multifaceted and context-dependent.
- The complexity of programming ethics into AI surpasses that of tasks like playing chess, which have well-defined rules.
Categories of Machine Agents and Ethicality
- AI’s role as an “artificial moral agent” (AMA) is debated.
- Moore’s categorization defines machine agents: ethical impact agents, implicit ethical agents, explicit ethical agents, and full ethical agents.
- Creating AMAs, especially the third and fourth categories, remains challenging due to the complexities of human-like ethical reasoning.
Bounded Ethicality and Moral Disengagement
- Bounded ethicality is observed in machines as well, where they may engage in unethical behavior based on framing.
- Machine predictions often work in conjunction with human decision-makers, but questions arise about accountability when AI-led decisions prove unethical.
Accountability and Punishment
- When AI-led decisions turn out to be unethical, issues arise concerning accountability.
- Punishing the AI system is problematic due to its lack of consciousness or guilt.
- Determining accountability for AI-led unethical decisions becomes a complex matter involving developers and decision-makers.
- While AI can enhance decision-making, ethical considerations are paramount.
- Programming ethics into AI is intricate, and the potential consequences of unethical decisions require thoughtful solutions.
- Governments must navigate these complexities to ensure responsible and ethical AI integration into governance.
Implementing a car safety programme
Context: The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has introduced the Bharat New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP), an indigenous star-rating system for crash testing cars.
Relevance: GS 3
This voluntary system aims to evaluate vehicles’ safety levels during collisions and assign ratings ranging from one to five stars. Set to take effect from October 1, 2023, this initiative seeks to promote safer vehicles on Indian roads and empower consumers to make informed decisions.
- The Bharat NCAP focuses on crash testing passenger vehicles with up to eight seats (excluding the driver’s seat) and a gross vehicle weight not exceeding 3,500 kgs.
- The crash testing protocols are outlined in the upcoming Automotive Industry Standard 197.
- The program assesses vehicles based on three criteria: adult occupant protection, child occupant protection, and safety assist technologies.
- Cars will be evaluated through various tests, including frontal offset tests, side impact tests, and pole-side impact tests.
Rating System and Voluntary Participation
- Vehicles will receive a rating between one and five stars, reflecting their safety performance.
- While the Bharat NCAP is voluntary, automobile manufacturers can nominate their vehicles for testing.
- The base model of each variant will be tested, and participation is encouraged to ensure safer cars in the market.
Importance and Objectives
- The primary goal of the program is to encourage the adoption of safer vehicles by providing consumers with transparent safety information.
- India witnesses a significant number of road fatalities annually, contributing to 10% of global road crash deaths with only 1% of the world’s vehicles.
- The Bharat NCAP aims to reduce road fatalities by promoting demand for vehicles with higher safety standards.
Evolution and Global Standards
- The testing protocols of the Bharat NCAP are inspired by the Global NCAP, which collaborates with new car assessment programs worldwide.
- The initiative traces its roots to the Safer Cars for India campaign launched by the NGO Towards Zero Foundation in 2014.
- The program is a response to the need for road safety regulations and improvements in vehicle safety standards.
Challenges and Future Steps
- India must enhance its crash testing capabilities and knowledge expertise to ensure effective implementation of the Bharat NCAP.
- The program will need to align with global standards over time, expanding testing parameters and incorporating additional safety aspects.
- As the program advances, it is expected to contribute significantly to improving vehicle safety and reducing road fatalities in India.