- DNA Technology Regulation Bill
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
The draft report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, suggested that the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018 could be misused for caste or community-based profiling.
Provisions of the bill:
- Allowing the use of the technology to establish the identity of persons in matters of crime, parentage dispute, emigration or immigration and transplantation of human organs.
- ‘establishment of national and regional DNA data banks and each databank will maintain crime scene index, suspects’ or undertrials’ index and offenders’ index
Background of the issue :
- A similar bill was passed in Lok Sabha in 2018 but could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha.
- The 2019 Bill was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests for examination.
Concerns Raised by the Committee:
Misuse of Information:
- The DNA profiles can reveal extremely sensitive information of an individual such as family ancestry (pedigree), skin colour, behaviour, illness, health status and susceptibility to diseases.
- Access to such intrusive information can be misused to specifically target individuals and their families with their own genetic data.
- It could even be used to incorrectly link a particular caste/community to criminal activities.
Storage of DNA Profiles (of Unconvicted Persons):
- The Bill proposes to store DNA profiles of suspects, undertrials, victims and their relatives for future investigations.
- The Bill also provides that DNA profiles for civil matters will also be stored in the data banks, but without a clear and separate index.
- The committee has questioned the necessity for storage of such DNA profiles, pointing out that this violates the fundamental right to privacy and does not serve any public purpose.
- The Bill refers to consent in several provisions, but in each of those, a magistrate can easily override consent, thereby in effect, making consent perfunctory.
- There is also no guidance in the Bill on the grounds and reasons of when the magistrate can override consent.
Removal of DNA Profiles of Accused:
- The Bill permits retention of DNA found at a crime scene in perpetuity, even if conviction of the offender has been overturned.
- The committee has recommended that independent scrutiny must be done of the proposals to destroy biological samples and remove DNA profiles from the database. Absence of Robust Data Protections
- The committee has also called the Bill “premature” and questioned the security of a huge number of DNA profiles that will be placed with the National DNA Data bank and its regional centres.
Need of the Bill:
- DNA testing is currently being done on an extremely limited scale in India, with approximately 30-40 DNA experts in 15-18 laboratories undertaking less than 3,000 cases per year, which represent 2-3% of the total need.
- The standards of the DNA testing laboratories are not monitored or regulated, in absence of any proper regulation.
- The Bill will enable identification of missing children.
- As per the National Crime Records Bureau, annually 1,00,000 children go missing.
- The Bill will also help in identifying unidentified deceased, including disaster victims and apprehend repeat offenders for heinous crimes such as rape and murder.
Global Scenario Regarding DNA Profiling:
- According to US Interpol’s Global DNA Profiling Survey Results 2016, as many as 69 countries have a national DNA database, including the USA, Canada and China.
- The countries hold genetic information of at least 35,413,155 individuals. Different countries have different regulations for collection, removal and retention of DNA samples.
- Declaration on Human Genetic Data, which was adopted unanimously at UNESCO’s 32 General Conference on 16 October 2003, aims to ensure the respect of human dignity and protection of human rights and fundamental freedom in collection, processing, use and storage of human genetic data and biological samples.
Genome India Project (GIP):
- Recently, the Ministry of Science and Technology also approved an ambitious gene-mapping project called the Genome India Project (GIP) which aims to sample and sequence 10,000 genomes in the first phase from across India, to arrive at a representative Indian genome.
- Gene Mapping is different from DNA profiling as DNA profiling uses small stretches of DNA to identify an individual while gene mapping involves sequencing the whole genome.
- Gene Mapping is done for scientific and medical uses while DNA profiling is done primarily for forensic and criminal investigation.
- Super Apps in India
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
The Tata Group is planning to get into aggregating its consumer offerings in an all-in-one super app.
- A super app is an omnichannel digital platform, e.- a platform developed by a company offering various services and products under one umbrella.
- For example, China’s WeChat, which started out as a messaging app, expanded into payments, cabs, shopping, food ordering, cab services to become a super app.
- A physical world analogy of a super app would be a mall, which allows retail space to various brands and shops across businesses and verticals.
There are two concept of super app emergence:
- The concept of super app first emerged in China and southeast Asia where internet companies like WeChat, Go-Jek and Grab evolved their apps into versatile feature apps.
- Customer Traffic to Services: These companies used the opportunity of customer traffic on their platforms that originally came as social media by offering additional services leading to increased revenue realisations.
- A different approach is followed in the west Asia region.
- Services to Target Customer: The traditional business conglomerates with a large portfolio with a presence in shopping malls, grocery and entertainment are building digital assets. These businesses observe high customer footfall and high repeat purchase frequency.
Advantages of Super Apps
- Higher Revenue: It ensures increased revenue realization due to consolidation of services at one place.
- Control over Data: It provides to companies a large amount of consumer data.
- Such a large amount of data can be harnessed to learn more about user behaviour.
- Market Access: It enables domestic and foreign retailers to easily get access to the market.
- Convenience: It shortens the way to the desired action.
- Diverse Services: It offers a variety of services.
- Easy experience: It allows for a uniform and individual user experience.
- Less Load on Phone: It saves phone memory compared to what it is in the case of multiple apps.
Concerns about Super Apps
- Monopoly: The very concept of a conglomerate trying to keep a customer within its own ecosystem for most services they might require increases the possibility of a The data collected by the master app could then be used to train machines in artificial intelligence which can be used either way.
- Risk to Financial Systems: Super Apps are disintermediating banks from their customers, which is not healthy for a financial system unless formal regulations are not in place concerning such apps.
- Issue with Device: A large chunk of India’s smartphone market belongs to lowerend smartphones, most of which come with a space crunch.
- Language Issue: India is a multi-linguistic nation. So a super app must use vernacular language to increase consumer reach.
- Privacy: Concerns of privacy in cases where a super app has onboarded third-party service providers.
- Main reasons why Indian companies are looking at building super apps are Relatively large base of the population is smartphones first instead of desktop.
- India’s smartphone base is estimated around 450 million (2020) and it is expected to reach 820 million in the next two years.
- The ecosystem of apps customised to local needs has not yet evolved.
- Few Examples: Jio umbrella of Reliance Industries has consolidated various services and offerings such as shopping, content streaming, groceries, payments, cloud storage services, etc.
- Paytm has also brought together services like payments, ticket bookings, games, online shopping, banking, consumer finance, etc into one app.
- AIIB Loan for MUTP-3
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
The Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) have signed a loan agreement for a USD 500 million for Mumbai Urban Transport Project-III.
- MUTP-3: Mumbai Urban Transport Project-III is a project supervised and implemented by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority to enhance the network capacity, service quality and safety of Mumbai’s suburban railway system.
- The deadline for completion of MUTP-3 is
- Improve traffic and transportation situation in Mumbai Metropolitan Region. Institutional development and strengthening.
- The Project is expected to increase network capacity in the region and thus will improve mobility.
- There will be a reduction in journey time and fatal accidents of commuters.
- There will be direct safety benefits to passengers and the public through the introduction of trespass control measures.
- It is estimated that among primary beneficiaries of the project, 22% are female passengers who will benefit from improved safety and quality of service.
- It will also help in reducing carbon emissions by shifting passengers away from higher-carbon road transport towards efficient and convenient rail-based mobility.
- The population’s explosive growth represents the core driver behind Mumbai’s urban expansion. It is compelling to prioritize sound urban and infrastructure planning.
- Around 86% of Mumbai commuters rely on public transport. The Mumbai suburban railway network carries three-quarters of all motorized travel (8 million passengers per day).
- User experience remains compromised by the low amenity of carriages, substandard stations and station access, and serious safety concerns.
- Between 2002-2012, there were more on average, 9 fatalities per day on the Mumbai suburban railway network.
- A key reason for accidents and deaths is trespassing and overcrowding of both stations and train cars.
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
- The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a multilateral development bank with a mission to improve social and economic outcomes in Asia. It was established in December 2015.
- It is headquartered in Beijing (China) and began its operations in January 2016.
- It has 103 members including India.
- India is among the founding members of AIIB.
- China is the largest shareholder in AIIB with a 26.6% voting power, followed by India with a 7.62% voting power.
AIIB Support to India
- India is the largest beneficiary of AIIB financing for infrastructure projects. The AIIB has approved some major projects in India. These are:
- Bangalore Metro Rail Project (USD 335 million).
- Gujarat Rural Roads (MMGSY) Project (USD 329 million).
- India Infrastructure Fund.
- Andhra Pradesh 24×7 – Power For All Project.
- USD 750 Million for Covid-19 support for India.
- River Ropeway in Assam: India’s Longest river ropeway
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
Recently. The Assam government has inaugurated a 1.8-km ropeway across the Brahmaputra river, and described it as India’s longest river ropeway.
Key points About the Ropeway:
- It is Built at the cost of 56 crore, it extends from Central to Northern Guwahati. It takes eight minutes to traverse the entire length of the ropeway.
- It passes over the mid-river Peacock Island that houses Umananda, a medieval Shiva temple.
- this is one of the most advanced & longest river crossing Aerial Tramway systems in India.
- Aerial tramways are particularly well-suited in extreme terrain since the towers can be erected at larger intervals.
- Thousands of people commute every day between the capital city of Guwahati and the town of North Guwahati, where IIT Guwahati is located.
- Other travel options between the two banks are by ferry (30 minutes or more, depending on current and season) or by road through a bridge that usually takes over an hour in the traffic.
- It will substantially reducing travel time, the ropeway will provide a breathtaking view of the Brahmaputra river and promote tourism in the State.
- Tourists can take the ropeway to North Guwahati and spend quality time on that side. Hospitality services will also develop on that side and thus the ropeway is expected to be an overall boost for tourism in the city.
- Further, the ropeway is considered as a convenient and non-polluting means of transport, as well as a source of environmentally friendly tourism.
- It is ecologically sustainable as it is run by electric power protecting the beauty of the area, while simultaneously providing passengers with a comfortable and speedy means of travel.
- Bonda Tribe: Odisha
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
four people from the Bonda tribal community have recently tested positive for the Covid-19.
- PVTGs: Bondas are one of the 13 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) found in Odisha.
- There are a total of 75 PVTGs in India.
- Austroasiatic Tribes: Bondas are members of a group of Austroasiatic tribes, they are believed to be part of the first wave of migration out of Africa about 60,000 years ago. They are the first forest settlers in India.
- Culture: The Bondas have retained their identity and culture despite external interventions over the years.
- Primarily forest dwellers, the Bondas used to hunt and forage for food in the wild.
- Matriarchal society-The women prefer to marry men who are younger by at least 5-10 years, so that the men can earn for them when they grow old.
- Unique dressing style- Women are semi clad and wear various types of rings and necklaces around their bodies, while the men carry lethal bows and arrows.
- Language- They continue to speak in their language, Remo, which comes under the Austroasiatic language belonging to the Mundari group.
- The Mundari group of languages are spoken by Munda people.
- The Bonda tribe is divided into two groups based on their settlement:
- The Upper Bondas living in the inaccessible forests. The Lower Bondas in the plains.
Tribes in Odisha:
- Odisha is home to 62 tribal communities — the largest diverse groups of tribal population in India.
- Thirteen of them are PVTGs— Bonda, Birhor, Chuktia Bhunjia, Didayi, Dungaria Kandha, Hill Kharia, Juang, Kutia Kondh, Lanjia Saora, Lodha, Mankirdia, Paudi Bhuyan and Saora.
- Tribal populations are found in the entire seven districts of Kandhamal, Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh, Nabarangpur, Koraput, Malkangiri and Rayagada, and in parts of six other districts.