Insights Daily Current Events, 29 March 2016

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Insights Daily Current Events, 29 March 2016

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Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Telecom panel clears entry of virtual operators

In order to allow telecom service providers to improve utilisation of their networks, the Telecom Commission has cleared a proposal to allow licensing of virtual network operators (VNOs). These VNOs, after getting a licence for operations, will be able to buy minutes and bytes to offer voice and data services, respectively.

Who is a VNO?

A virtual network operator is akin to a retailer selling products and services of various companies under one roof, and a customer has to pay a single bill for all items purchased.

  • Such an operator will primarily provide various services to end consumers by using the underlying network of a network service operator.

Key facts:

  • VNOs do not have spectrum of their own for access service, but can provide access services to its own customers through an agreement with the licensed access provider. A VNO leases bandwidth from various telecom operators to provide voice and data services to customers.
  • They cannot participate in spectrum auction for access services in their service areas, as they cannot have their own spectrum.
  • VNO will be able to invest in setting up mobile towers and other elements in network required for providing services. However, it will not be able to sign deal directly to interconnect infrastructure laid by it with other telecom operator.
  • VNO will be able to integrate service and offer it to customer as it wants. There will be no limit on integration and offering of services from licence or government that will be available shortly.
  • In case a VNO has partnered with multiple service providers, then it can offer voice call service of one and data service of other player.

Significance of this move:

  • The VNO, after obtaining licence from the government for its operations, can function under its own brand offering a plethora of services such as mobile telephony, broadband, wireless hotspots, etc at the last mile and in areas where stressed balance sheets of large telecom companies do not allow them to invest for rolling out infrastructure.
  • This would also allow telecom companies to leverage network and spectrum investment made by them, as this move will allow the virtual network operators to invest in setting up almost 70% to 80% of the equipment required to offer communication services. And hence, VNOs would contribute to the efficient use of existing telecommunication infrastructure.
  • VNOs may also offer some relief to telecom PSUs, BSNL and MTNL, which have already adopted a revenue-sharing model focusing on reducing capital expenditure.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Indian Air Force facing capacity crisis: U.S. expert

A U.S. expert, in his report, has said that India’s aerial fighting force is inadequate on a number of parameters.

  • The report, titled “Troubles, they come in Battalions: The Manifest Travails of the Indian Air Force”, is a sharp analysis of the current state of the IAF’s preparedness to face down threats from potentially troublesome neighbours.

Highlights of the report:

  • The report notes, “Falling end strength and problematic force structure, combined with its troubled acquisition and development programs, threaten India’s air superiority over its rapidly modernising rivals, China and Pakistan.”
  • It also says, “As of early 2016, the IAF was very weak and at nominally 36.5 squadrons, it is well short of its sanctioned strength, and many of its frontline aircraft are obsolete.”
  • On the other hand China and Pakistan have apparently fielded close to 750 advanced air defence or multirole fighters against the IAF’s 450-odd equivalents, and by 2025, China may well be in a position to deploy anywhere between 300 and 400 sophisticated air craft against India, in addition to likely 100 to 200 advanced fighters by Pakistan.

According to the report, the main barriers to embarking on a successful acquisition and modernisation drive-

  • Serious constraints on India’s defence budget.
  • The impediments imposed by the acquisition process.
  • The meagre achievements of the country’s domestic development organisations.
  • The weaknesses of the higher defence management system.
  • India’s inability to reconcile the need for self-sufficiency in defence production with the necessity of maintaining technological superiority over rivals.

Recommendations made by the report:

  • Be cautious about expanding the Tejas acquisition beyond six squadrons and consider enlarging the MMRCA component with the cheapest fourth-generation-plus Western fighter available.
  • Expand investments in advanced munitions, combat support aircraft, electronic warfare, physical infrastructure, and pilot proficiency while being realistic about domestic capacity to produce sophisticated combat aircraft.

Air dominance is vital for India if it were to have deterrence stability in southern Asia and for preserving the strategic balance in the wider Indo-Pacific region.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Government Unveils New Defence Procurement Policy

The much-awaited new defence procurement policy was recently unveiled by the government with an aim to ensure transparency, fast track acquisition process and give a push to ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Key facts:

  • To be applicable from April, the procurement policy lays the roadmap on how India, the world’s largest arms importer, will acquire defence equipment in the future.
  • The new DPP has included a new category to acquire weapons–IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured). The IDDM will be the first preferred category of preference.
  • The new policy also allows the Defence Acquisition Council to take a “fast-track” route to acquire weapons, something which was limited to only the armed forces till now.
  • In a bid to cut down on the time taken for acquisition process, it mandates that all AONs (Acceptance of Necessity) of a particular platform will be valid for only six months as against the 12-month deadline now.
  • Also, no AON will be notified until it is accompanied by a finalised RFP (Request for Proposal or tender). This means that the time taken for an RFP is cut down drastically.
  • Defence export clearances will now be granted online. The policy will also include ‘Start-up India’ initiative.
  • A review of the new DPP will be undertaken after six months.

Sources: the hindu.

 


 

Facts for Prelims from “The Hindu”:

  1. The ninth edition of DefExpo India, a biennial exhibition of land, naval and internal homeland security systems, being organised by the Defence Ministry, kicked off in Goa. More than 1,000 companies from 47 countries are participating in the event.
  2. Indian Naval ship Beas is on an official visit to Doha, Qatar to participate in the fifth edition of Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition (DIMDEX). DIMDEX is held biennially at Doha and provides an ideal platform for showcasing our indigenous shipbuilding capability and technological prowess as well as innovation in Naval systems. INS Beas, an indigenous Brahmaputra Class frigate will represent the Indian Navy at DIMDEX 16.
  3. India has decided to adopt ‘112’ as the national emergency number, similar to ‘911’ in the US and ‘999’ in the UK, with the inter-ministerial telecom commission giving a go-ahead to the move. The roll-out of ‘112’ may see a gradual phase-out of existing emergency numbers like 100 (for police), 101 (fire), 102 (ambulance) and 108 (disaster management), though they will continue to be in operation for at least a year. Telecom regulator Trai had suggested the adoption of 112 as the national emergency number in its recommendations submitted to the telecom department last year.
  4. Gujarat has been named the most film-friendly state in the country for its effort to ease the shooting of films. This was announced at the recently concluded 63rd National Film Awards. The ‘Most Film-Friendly State’ award was introduced this year.