Mitras Analysis of News : 20-6-2017

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1.A quantum step to a great wall for encryption (The Hindu)

2.Need of multi-level behavioural changes to eradicate open-defecation (Down to Earth)


1.A quantum step to a great wall for encryption (The Hindu)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the world’s first quantum communication satellite. (GS paper III)


  • The world’s first quantum communication satellite, the 600+kg Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS), nicknamed Micius after the ancient Chinese philosopher and scientist, is now officially operational following months of in-orbit testing. China became the first country to launch a quantum technology satellite, giving it an edge in the global cyber security race. It’s emerges as a major player in quantum technology. 
  • According to the scientists quantum communications are highly secure because subatomic particles can be used to create a secret key for the sender and receiver of information. Any attempt to eavesdrop would disturb the particles and be discovered. Quantum communication will enable China to provide high-level communication security support to areas like islands in the South China Sea, Chinese embassies and consulates in foreign countries, and naval vessels.

 What is Quantum mechanics (QM)? 

  • Quantum mechanics (QM) is a branch of physics which is the fundamental theory of nature at small scales and low energy levels of atoms and subatomic particles.

How it works

  • China has combined satellite technology and the elusiveness of quantum mechanics to demonstrate how secret information can be transmitted over a thousand kilometers with the guarantee that any unauthorized attempt to decipher it would be immediately discernible.
  • The satellite contains a quantum key communicator, a processing unit, a laser communicator, quantum entanglement emitter, and entanglement source to transmit quantum keys to Earth.
  • QUESS uses a principle of ‘quantum entanglement’, an act of fusing two or more particles into complementary ‘quantum states’. Quantum communication is designed to be hack-proof as a quantum photon used in the process can neither be separated nor duplicated without detection.
  • The Chinese set-up transferred entangled photons through a satellite, between two ground stations that were 1,200 km apart. The researchers shot a laser beam into a light-altering crystal in the satellite. The crystal emitted pairs of photons entangled so that their polarization states would be opposite when one was measured.
  • The pairs were split, with photons sent to separate receiving stations in Delingha and Lijiang, which are telescopes on mountains, 1,200 km apart. Both stations are in the high mountains of Tibet, reducing the amount of air the fragile photons had to traverse. This team then simultaneously measured more than 1,000 photon pairs. They found the photons had opposite polarisations far more often than would be expected by chance.


Way ahead

  • China‘s quantum endeavour also underlines the extent to which the West’s domination of science has eroded. With the new quantum network, organizations and people reliant on online financial transactions that are increasingly dependent on satellite-based Internet and paranoid about security would take a shine to quantum satellite encryption technology.
  • The implications go beyond record-setting demonstrations: A network of satellites could someday connect the quantum computers being designed in labs worldwide.

Question:  What are the practical implications of launching quantum satellite for making communication hack-proof?


2.Need of multi-level behavioural changes to eradicate open-defecation (Down to Earth)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the India’s need to imbibe behavioural changes in order to make India defecation-free. (GS paper II)


  • We need to look beyond toilets and establish a connection between sanitation and health in order to trigger a mind-set change in rural India.
  • According to the concept of Swachh Gram any village that is open defecation-free and has effective solid and liquid waste management mechanism at place will be declared a clean village.

Impending concerns

  • We need to answer a fundamental question: how does the waste get treated? “The government’s emphasis should be on safe disposal of waste and not just building toilets and sewage treatment plants.

Gender Gap

  • There is a gender gap in the way we look at solving sanitation problem. “Women are being shamed and discouraged to defecate in the open, while men go out in the open and defecate. How can we expect to make a village ODF when male members don’t embrace this shift?
  • Moreover, availability of water is also an issue because ultimately, it is the women who have to walk miles and fetch water for using in toilets.

Scarcity of data

  • There is not enough disaggregated and conclusive data down to the village level. “Each sector is collecting data in its own way and they are working in silos. That’s why there is no concrete data on health and sanitation.
  • We want tangible information on open defecation, sanitation and water-borne diseases to bring change in people’s mind-set. Since water-borne diseases have been denotifed, it has become a struggle to find data about them. Without data we can’t establish a viable argument.

Role of Health Ministry

  • There is a need to involve the Health Ministry to ensure that we have “convergence of thought” on tackling waste management, open defecation and water-borne diseases.
  • In Bangladesh, sanitation status of a village used to be assessed by the number of cholera and diarrhoea cases reported in nearby hospitals and health centres.

Behaviour change needed but not with a coercive approach

  • The panellists were unanimous in their opinion that the SBM has always been about toilets, numbers and incentives, but not about bringing a change in the mind-set of villagers.
  • The government’s biggest mistake has been to take responsibility on behalf of the people to trigger behaviour change. The authorities arbitrarily decided to thrust technology on people and focussed only on construction of toilets.

Way ahead

  • Indian Constitution says sanitation is a state subject. So let’s leave sanitation to panchayat and state and don’t let the Centre prescribe an approach. Right now, the Union Government is thrusting its policies on all the districts without understanding that one-size-fits-all approach cannot work. That’s why there is a need for behaviour change at the level of policymaking.

Question:  How government should work on soft measure in order to achieve the goal of Swachh Bharat ?

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