Current Affair-March 12, 2021

Trusted telecom’ rules

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has amended the licensing conditions for telecom companies to include defence and national security as parameters when purchasing ‘trusted telecom products’ and sourcing equipment from ‘trusted telecom equipment sources’.

Reason for origin

  • With the advent of technology, some countries such as China, the US, Russia, Japan stole a march over others in developing new technology that would be able to carry signals over long distances without much interference. This was overall good for betterment of technology in the telecom space.
  • However, due to geo-political tensions, these countries, over time, became non-trusting of one another’s technological advances and accused each other of spying using modern technologies. This resulted in each nation curating its own list of companies, countries and products that it trusted, especially in crucial sectors such as telecom.

Trusted telecom product

  • A trusted telecom product or a trusted telecom equipment source is simply a product, a company, or a technology that has been deemed safe by the government of a country for use in crucial and critical infrastructure.
  • In December last year, India’s Cabinet Committee on Security approved the setting up of a new National Security Directive on telecommunication sector with an intent to classify telecom products and their sources under the ‘trusted’ and ‘non-trusted’ categories.

The list of products telecom companies will be allowed to use in their network would be approved by the National Cyber Security Coordinator, which in turn will make its decision based on the approval of a committee headed by the deputy National Security Advisor (NSA). The expert committee will also have members from other departments and ministries, independent experts as well as two industry members.

DoT’s notification on trusted telecom equipment

  • DoT amended the telecom licensing norms and included defence and national security as parameters for the purchase of trusted telecom products and from trusted equipment sources.
  • Including defence and national security as parameters means the designated authority can, at any time, citing these two aspects, ask telecom companies not to use products which it has deemed unsafe.
  • The new norms will kick in from June 15, following which telecom companies will not be able to use any products that do not appear on the trusted telecom equipment source list or the trusted telecom product list.
  • If a telecom company wishes to expand its network by using any equipment that does not come from a trusted source or is not on the list of trusted telecom products, it will have to take prior permission from the designated authority, which is the National Cyber Security Coordinator.

Impact of new policy

  • The new policy could make it more difficult for Chinese telecom equipment vendors like Huawei and ZTE to supply equipment to Indian telecom players in the future. Both, Huawei and ZTE, have been under global scrutiny for allegedly installing ‘backdoor’ or ‘trap door’ vulnerabilities and spying for the Chinese government and have been banned by several countries.

Of the three telcos, almost 30 per cent of Bharti Airtel’s existing network comprises Chinese telecom equipment, it is as much as 40 per cent for Vodafone Idea. BSNL and MTNL)

  • Too have equipment from Chinese vendors, including Huawei and ZTE, in their 3G and older networks.
Source: Indian Express

NIO scientists mapping genomes in the Indian Ocean

  • A 30-member team of scientists and researchers from the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) in Panaji and another 30 crew members onboard its research vessel Sindhu Sadhana will spend the next three months traversing the course of over 10,000 nautical miles in the Indian Ocean on a research project to reveal the internal working of the body of the ocean at a cellular level.
  • It is first-of-its-kind research project in the country.
  • The project is aimed at understanding the biochemistry and the response of the ocean to climate change, nutrient stress and increasing pollution.

About the researchers project

  • The research project that will be flagged off at Visakhapatnam with a team of scientists and researchers who will course the Indian Ocean from India’s east coast, all the way to Australia, then onward towards Port Louis in Mauritius and up to the border of Pakistan, off India’s west coast, gathering samples for genome mapping of microorganisms in the Indian Ocean.
  • The researchers will collect samples from various stretches of the ocean at an average depth of about 5 km.

Just like gene mapping is carried out on blood samples collected from humans, the scientists will map these in the bacteria, microbes found in the ocean. The mapping of the Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and Ribonucleic acid (RNA) will show the nutrients present in them, and also those lacking in different parts of the ocean.

Implications of study

The project will help scientists understand the internal working of the ecosystem of the Indian Ocean.

  • The research will enable scientists to identify the factors controlling the changes in RNA, DNA in the oceans, and various stressors impacting them.
  • The large pool of RNA, DNA library of the oceans will be utilised for using the Indian Ocean to human benefit in the future.
  • Exploring the ocean genome will enable an increase in the growing number of commercial biotechnology applications, extending from multiple anticancer treatments to cosmetics and industrial enzymes, to antiviral molecules.
  • Exploration of the ocean at a genetic level will result in new insights into taxonomy and adaptive capacity that can help optimize conservation efforts.

The ocean has several micronutrients like nitrates, sulphates and silicates, minerals like iron ore and zinc, and trace metals like cadmium or copper. The genome mapping will show the presence of which these microbes have adapted to, in addition to their reaction to atmospheric carbon dioxide. This will help in identifying which part of the ocean has a greater concentration of which mineral or element.

Source: Indian Express

Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Nidhi

It is a single non­-lapsable reserve fund for health from the proceeds of Health and Education Cess. The cess are levied under Section 136­b of Finance Act, 2007.

  • Proceeds of share of health in the Health and Education Cess will be cre­dited into PMSSN and ac­cruals into the PMSSN will be utilised for the flagship schemes of the Health Mi­nistry.
  • Administration and main­tenance of the PMSSN is entrusted to the Health Ministry.
  • PMSSN will lead to enhanced access to univer­sal and affordable health care through availability of earmarked resources.

In the 2018 Budget, the Central government while announcing Ayushmann Bharat Scheme, also announced replacement of existing 3% Education Cess by 4% Health and Educa­tion Cess,

Source: The Hindu

First Quad Leaders’ Virtual Summit

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will be participating, along with Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison and Prime Minister of Japan YoshihideSuga and President of U.S.A. Joseph R. Biden, in the first Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework, being held virtually on 12th March 2021.


  • The Leaders will discuss regional and global issues of shared interest, and exchange views on practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
  • The Summit will provide an opportunity to exchange views on contemporary challenges such as resilient supply chains, emerging and critical technologies, maritime security, and climate change.
  • The Leaders will discuss ongoing efforts to combat Covid-19 pandemic and explore opportunities for collaboration in ensuring safe, equitable and affordable vaccines in the Indo-Pacific region


  • The quadrilateral formation includes Japan, India, United States and Australia.
  • Member countries of Quad share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific.

Origin of Quad

  • The Quad traces its origins to the great Asian tsunami of December 26, 2004.
  • Gy’ndian ships, aircraft and helicopters were dispatched within hours to assist Sri Lankan, Maldivian and Indonesian neighbours in distress. This swift response established our navy’s credentials as a credible regional force. On the other hand, not a single PLA Navy (PLAN) ship was seen throughout the 2004 tsunami relief operations.
  • Later, when navies of five nations assembled for a joint exercise off Okinawa, China issued a demarche to India, US, Japan and Australia seeking details about their meeting — terming it a “Quadrilateral initiative”.
Source: PIB

INS Shardul

  • INS Shardul is visiting Port Louis, Mauritius from 10 to 13 March, 2021 as part of an overseas deployment to Southern Indian Ocean nations. It will participate in the National Day celebrations of Mauritius on 12 March 2021 during the port call. 
  • It is a ship of the First Training Squadron of the Indian Navy.
  • It is indigenously built at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Kolkata and commissioned in the Indian Navy in 2007.
  • INS Shardul is an amphibious warfare ship capable of carrying battle tanks, troops and an integral helicopter.
  • The ship has also played an important role in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations in the recent past. Notable among these include delivery of 600 Tons of food grains to drought hit Madagascar in March 2020 and operation Samudra Setu for evacuation of overseas Indians in June 2020 during COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: PIB

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