Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2021
Current Affair 1:
WHO issues revised ‘Air Quality Standards’
The WHO released the first set of guidelines for air quality in 1987 and since then, these have been updated in 1997 and 2005 on the basis of prevalent conditions and health studies, to ensure that the guidelines continue to be relevant. The guidelines also support policy formulation for air quality management across the world. Prior to the 2021 guidelines, the last global revision was released in 2005.
These guidelines are not legally binding
It should be noted that the guidelines are not legally binding. Governments across the world may use these guidelines as a reference, or in such ways depending on their economic capacity, technical capabilities, prevalent air quality management policies, and other social & political factors. Before adopting the WHO’s guidelines, the local conditions are taken into consideration by respective governments.
The WHO’s latest guidelines are applicable worldwide to both outdoor and indoor environments. It recommends permissible pollution levels and interim targets for common air pollutants which not only affect human health but are also responsible for climate change. These are-
- Particulate matter (PM)
- Ozone (O3)
- Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
- Sulphur dioxide (SO2)
- Carbon Monoxide (CO)
Further, the guidelines also include qualitative good practice recommendations for black carbon/elemental carbon, ultrafine particles (<=1um) and particles derived from sand and dust storms.
India’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) is lenient
India follows the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ambient air quality notified by the Central Pollution Control Board in 2009 under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. The NAAQS is more lenient and does not meet the WHO’s recommended standards. The levels stipulated by NAAQS exceed even the WHO’s recommended standards from 2005, and farther away from the 2021 guidelines.
Current Affair 2:
‘Right to Privacy in Digital Age’ Report.
On 15 September 2021, the UN Human Rights Office has published a Report titled ‘Right to Privacy in Digital Age’ that analyses how AI – including profiling, automated decision-making and other machine-learning technologies – affects peoples’ right to privacy and other rights, including the rights to health, education, freedom of movement, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and freedom of expression.
Legal framework for the right to privacy rooted in International Human Rights Conventions
Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and several other international and regional human rights instruments recognize the right to privacy as a fundamental human right.
The Reports on Right to Privacy provides a clear and universal framework for the promotion and protection of the right to privacy, including in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveillance, the interception of digital communications and the collection of personal data.
Impacts of artificial intelligence on the right to privacy and other human rights
- The operation of AI systems can deepen privacy intrusions in a variety of ways. These include entirely new applications as well as features of AI systems that expand, intensify or incentivize interference with the right to privacy, most notably through increased collection and use of personal data.
- AI systems typically rely on large data sets, often including personal data.
- One particular concern is the possibility of de-anonymization that is facilitated by fusing data from various sources. At the same time, the design of data sets can have implications for individuals’ identity. For example, a data set that records gender as binary misgenders those who do not identify as male or female.
- With access to the right data sets, it is possible to draw conclusions about how many people in a particular neighbourhood are likely to attend a certain place of worship, what television shows they may prefer and even roughly what time they tend to wake up and go to sleep.
- AI-based decisions are not free from error. In fact, the scalability of AI solutions can dramatically increase negative effects of seemingly small error rates.
- Outputs from AI systems relying on faulty data can contribute to human rights violations in a multitude of ways, for example, by erroneously flagging an individual as a likely terrorist or as having committed welfare fraud. Biased data sets that lead to discriminatory decisions based on AI systems are particularly concerning.
Current Affair 3:
Difference between Gold Monetization Scheme, Sovereign Gold Bond and Gold ETF
Just for conceptual clarity, not in detail.
The basic fact is India imports a lot of gold (second largest consumer of gold) as Indians are fond of gold and gold jewellery.
In Gold monetization scheme, we can deposit gold and gold jewellery which we already have with the authorized banks. So, the traders rather than importing raw gold from abroad (to make jewellery), will purchase this gold from the banks and melt it and will produce new jewellery/bars and will start selling again. This will REDUCE IMPORT of GOLD. When we want, we can get back our deposited gold but in bars form (not in jewellery form) or in cash and we will also earn interest.
Sovereign Gold Bond, is for those who are YET to purchase gold for investment purchase. So, Govt. is saying do not purchase physical gold for investment purpose, rather purchase Sovereign Gold bonds. And whenever you would want your money back you can sell the gold bonds and you will get money as per that day’s price PLUS you will also get interest (2.5%). So, Sovereign gold bonds gives you both price appreciation (or depreciation) and interest both but physical gold gives only price appreciation (or depreciation). So, when you replace the purchase of physical gold with Sovereign gold bond then the import of Gold will get reduced.
When you purchase Gold ETF, then it’s almost same as purchasing physical gold. When you purchase physical gold then you keep the physical gold but when you purchase Gold ETF then you just have the paper, but on your behalf the exchange purchases the physical gold and keeps it with itself. This removes any making charges and reduces the traders commission and removes security issues. When you will sell Gold ETF you will get price appreciation (or depreciation) but no interest. So, when you purchase Gold ETF then it will lead to import of gold.
Current Affair 4:
WHO releases new roadmap to defeat meningitis?
The World Health Organization (WHO) and partners launched the first ever global strategy to defeat meningitis - a debilitating disease that kills hundreds of thousands of people each year.
By 2030, the goals are to eliminate epidemics of bacterial meningitis – the most deadly form of the disease – and to reduce deaths by 70% and halve the number of cases.
As per WHO,
‘Meningitis is a dangerous inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord, predominantly caused by infection with bacteria and viruses.’
Meningitis that is caused by bacterial infection tends to be the most serious – leading to around 250,000 deaths a year - and can cause fast-spreading epidemics. It kills 1 in 10 of those infected – mostly children and young people - and leaves 1 in 5 with long-lasting disability, such as seizures, hearing and vision loss, neurological damage, and cognitive impairment.
Are vaccines available for this?
Several vaccines protect against meningitis, including meningococcal, Haemophilus influenzae type b and pneumococcal vaccines. However, not all communities have access to these lifesaving vaccines, and many countries are yet to introduce them into their national programmes.