Daily Current Affairs
23 February 2021

1) Railways stung by IT ‘breaches’

GS 3

basics of cyber security



  1. There were many instances of cyber attacks during the ongoing pandemic across the Railway network.
  2. The Ministry of Railways has roped in the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) to educate its officials on Internet ethics, cyber hygiene and best practices in the use of IT equipment, including mobile phones.
  3. This is a part of its National Cyber Security Strategy.



  1. The Railway Board said a number of incidents had come to notice regarding breaches in various IT applications as electronic working has got further proliferated.
  2. The Board said in the note the pandemic had introduced a greater reliance on electronic modes of communication in official working.
  3. Hence, it was necessary that all officials took responsibility and followed adequate procedures when using IT infrastructure for ensuring confidentiality, privacy etc in dealing with official information.
  4. This can be achieved to a great extent by following Internet ethics, cyber hygiene and following best practices on the use of IT equipment like desktops, laptops, mobile devices etc.
  5. While many officials are aware of these and other related practices, there are still a number of officials who are unaware of the same.
  6. A majority of them were applications related. Incidents occurred due to improper handling of the IT assets by the personnel”.
  7. The IT Wing of the Computerisation & Information System Directorate sends out periodic alerts on cybersecurity vulnerabilities and threats to the staff directly handling IT-based systems.
  8. One of the major IT functions is the Passenger Reservation System (PRS).



  1. In January 2019 alone, 6.61 crore passengers booked from 10,394 PRS terminals in 3,440 locations and the IRCTC website resulting in a revenue of ?3,962.27 crore.
  2. While 9.38 lakh passengers made bookings on January 10, 2019, 671 bookings were made per second nine days later.
  3. The PRS involves passengers disclosing their identities along with proof of address, mobile phone number and netbanking/card payment details.
  4. The Railways also uses its IT infrastructure for Unreserved Ticketing System which served 2.11 crore passengers in January 2019 earning ?58.83 crore each day.
  5. E-payment is provided as part of the Freight Operations Information System (FOIS) leading to ?8,666.6 crore of revenue in January 2019.



  1. Before 2013, India did not have a cybersecurity policy. The need for it was felt during the NSA spying issue that surfaced in 2013.
  2. Information empowers people and there is a need to create a distinction between information that can run freely between systems and those that need to be secured.
  3. This could be personal information, banking and financial details, security information which when passed onto the wrong hands can put the country’s safety in jeopardy.
  4. This Policy has been drafted in consultation with all the stakeholders.
  5. In order to digitise the economy and promote more digital transactions, the government must be able to generate trust in people in the Information and Communications Technology systems that govern financial transactions.
  6. A strong integrated and coherent policy on cybersecurity is also needed to curb the menace of cyber terrorism.



  1. To protect information and information infrastructure in cyberspace.
  2. To build secure and resilient cyberspace for citizens, businesses and Government.
  3. To build capabilities to prevent and respond to cyber threats.
  4. To reduce vulnerabilities and minimize damage from cyber incidents through a combination of institutional structures, people, processes, technology and cooperation.


Source- The Hindu


2) Kerala govt. annuls agreement with U.S. firm

GS 2

Bilateral agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests



  1. The Kerala government has invalidated a controversial agreement that the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) had reached with a U.S.-based firm, EMCC International.
  2. The agreement aimed to build and operate a deep-sea trawling fleet to harvest the marine wealth off the State’s coast.
  3. The agreement is a ?2,950-crore pact for building 400 deep-sea fishing trawlers and new harbours and port development activities.
  4. The investment proposal that seemed at odds with the vast coastal community’s inalienable right to harvest their traditional fishing grounds exclusively.
  5. The government found that the agreement contravened the Left Democratic Front’s policy to allow only traditional fishers to own or operate deep-sea trawlers. Only they would receive new boat permits.



  1. The government felt the KSINC had “missed” the critical proviso when inking the agreement. The KSINC “failed” to vet the firm before inking the memorandum of understanding.
  2. The company “lacked” the financial heft to build a vast fleet and allied infrastructure. Its seed money was less than ?10 lakh, an official said.
  3. The Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation also appeared taken in by the firm’s pitch to build modern fishing harbours and a marine product processing centre.
  4. Consequently, it agreed to allocate four acres for the firm in an industrial park in Alappuzha.
  5. The government found the firm had attempted to take advantage of its programme to modernise the State’s ageing fishing fleet incrementally.


Source- The Hindu


3) Maldives Parliament debates defence deal with India

GS 2

Bilateral agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests



  1. A day after Male and New Delhi signed an agreement to jointly develop the Maldives National Defence Force Coast Guard Harbour, Maldives’s Parliament, ‘the People’s Majlis’, took up an emergency motion, demanding greater transparency on the bilateral pact.
  2. Following the signing of the agreement, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar quoted by saying that the agreement will strengthen Maldivian Coast Guard capability and facilitate regional HADR efforts. Partners in development, partners in security.



  1. An MP from the Opposition Progressive Party of Maldives submitted an emergency motion in the House, objecting to the signing of the pact, linked to the “independence and sovereignty” of the Maldives, without the approval of Parliament.
  2. Maldivian Defence Minister said the project was “vital” to the effective functioning of the Maldivian Coast Guard.
  3. Given our expansive maritime territory, the need to enhance local coast guard capabilities cannot be overstate. explaining why the government is “elated” that the project is “finally under way”.
  4. This dockyard and harbour will, in time, afford us the opportunity to protect our maritime interests on our own thereby enhancing our sovereignty.
  5. The harbour development agreement, effectively a defence pact, was signed following a request from the government of Maldives for Indian assistance to enhance the capability of the Defence Forces.
  6. Not all in the ruling coalition agree with the government’s current foreign policy. Government MP said Male should avoid seeking assistance on military matters from any big power.
  7. Whether it is India, China or the U.S., their agreements here are bound to have conflicting interests.
  8. We should not end up in a situation where we have to choose one partner over another, we should not become part of a proxy [geopolitical] war.
  9. Last year, New Delhi welcomed the Maldives’s decision to sign a military agreement with the U.S.


Source- The Hindu


4) New freight plan: Loaded trucks will take the train

GS 2

Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors



  1. HOW WILL trucks loaded with goods reach their destinations hundreds of kilometres away three times faster than before? They will take the train.
  2. That’s the new business model designed by the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL) for one of its newly opened stretches in the western region with a projected annual earning close to Rs 100 crore.



  1. The “Roll-On-Roll-off (RORO)” service will be started between Palanpur in Gujarat and Rewari in Haryana, a distance of 636 km, to transport a wide range of goods unloaded in ports to markets in north India, especially the National Capital Region.
  2. Approximately 2,500-3,000 trucks ply between Rewari and Palanpur, riding on the traffic between the three Gujarat ports, the hinterland and the northern regions of Rewari, Hisar, Agra, Ghaziabad, Haridwar, Dehradun, Chandigarh, Ludhiana etc.
  3. DFCCIL, a Railways PSU, has floated a Request for Proposal for private players to bid for sole rights to market this service – 900 trips, each carrying 45 loaded trucks on specially designed wagons.
  4. The bids will be opened next month for the year-long contract that can be extended by another year.



  1. The RORO model has not really taken off as a viable offering for the Railways.
  2. But the Dedicated Freight Corridor ecosystem, with its own tracks and no passenger trains or red tape, may be a different story, officials believe.
  3. And once it is a success, it may be replicated on other stretches of the corridor — “wherever there is viability”.
  4. On road, the distance between Palanpur and Rewari is around 720 km with at least 13 major toll points costing around Rs 5,000 in all per truck.
  5. By train, the distance is reduced by around 84 km with no barriers, at an average speed of 75 km per hour.
  6. Besides, officials said, the distance of 36 hours by road will be reduced to a 10-hour ride coupled with assured, predictable transit for truck owners, along with less wear and tear of the trucks.
  7. The approximate calculations by the DFC expect the cost to the customer per trip will work out to be a few thousands of rupees cheaper.
  8. The other benefit, they said, is that 40,500 trucks travelling over 636 km one way on trains every year is a “huge gain” in terms of emissions and decongestion of roads.
  9. Various stretches of the critical infrastructure project have started getting commissioned, with Prime Minister last month inaugurating two stretches, including the 300-km Rewari-Madar section, for which this new plan has been worked out.


Source- Indian Express


5) Month-long drive launched to register construction workers

GS 2

Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability



  1. The Delhi government recently launched a month-long drive for registering construction workers with the board meant for their welfare, Deputy Chief Minister said.
  2. This comes six months after the government attempted a similar initiative that was marred by software glitches.



  1. Deputy Chief Minister said out of the estimated 10 lakh construction workers in Delhi, 2.12 lakh are currently in the government’s “registration network”.
  2. Out of the 2.12 lakh, 29,000 workers need to renew their annual membership with the construction workers welfare board.
  3. SMSes have been sent to them. In case of around 50,000 workers, registration process is underway. The rest remain outside the net of the board.
  4. The board runs a number of welfare schemes funded by the cess collected from building projects under the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996.
  5. The Delhi High Court has been hearing a PIL on the dip in the number of registered workers and issuing necessary directions since last year.



  1. As part of the drive, at 262 labour chowks, an awareness campaign will be carried out to apprise workers about the benefits of registering with the board, while 45 camps will be set up for carrying out registrations and renewals.
  2. The camps will run between 9 am to 5 pm every Monday to Friday during this period.
  3. “Mobile units would be deployed in the districts to travel between different construction sites and register construction workers at the construction site itself so that workers don’t have to forego their daily wage.


Source- Indian Expres