Current Affairs September 28, 2023: Prophet Muhammad, Secularism, MoHA Powers to Retire AGMUT Officers, National Quantum Mission, Compulsory Retirement of GoI Officials, M.S. Swaminathan, Norman Borlaug Field Award, First Green Hydrogen-Fuelled Bus, G-Bonds, Quantum Computers, Swavlamban 2.0

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Table of contents

{GS1 – A&C – Religion – 2023/09/28} Prophet Muhammad

  • Context (TH): Mawlid al-Nabhi marks the birth of the Prophet Muhammad.
  • It is observed on the 12th day of Rabi’ al-Awwal (the third month of the Islamic lunar calendar).
  • The date in the Gregorian calendar varies each year because the Islamic calendar is lunar-based.
  • Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, was born around 570 CE in Mecca.
  • Around 612 CE, he declared himself to be God’s messenger (Rasul).
  • During 612-32 CE, he preached:
    • The worship of a single God, Allah.
    • The membership of a single community of believers (umma).
  • In 622 CE, he was forced to migrate with his followers to Medina.
  • His journey from Mecca to Medina (hijra) was a turning point in the history of Islam.
  • The year of his arrival in Medina marked the beginning of the Muslim calendar (Hijri era).
  • After he died in 632, a conflict broke out and the Islamic society was divided into Sunnis (who believed that Muhammad’s successor was Abu Bakr, a father-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad) and Shias (who believed that Muhammad’s successor was Ali, a senior companion of Muhammad).
  • 85-90% of the world’s Muslims are Sunni and 10-15% are Shia. Shia are in the majority in Iran, Iraq and Bahrain. Kuwait, Yemen, Lebanon, Qatar, Syria and UAE have sizeable Shia populations.

Sunnis and Shia in the Middle East - BBC News

  • In recent years, Sunni-Shia relations have been increasingly marked by conflict, particularly the Iran (Shia majority)–Saudi Arabia (Sunni majority) proxy conflict.
  • All those who adopted Islam accepted the five “pillars” of the faith:
    1. There is one God, Allah, and Prophet Muhammad is his messenger (shahada)
    2. Offering prayers five times a day (namaz/salat)
    3. Giving alms (zakat)
    4. Fasting during the month of Ramzan (sawm)
    5. Performing the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj)

Islamic Calendar

  • The Hijri era starts from 622 CE. It is a lunar year of 354 days (11 days shorter than the solar year).
  • Each day begins at sunset, and each month with the sighting of the crescent moon.

Quran

  • The Quran is a book in Arabic divided into 114 chapters (suras).
  • According to Muslim tradition, the Quran is a collection of messages (revelations) that God sent to the Prophet Muhammad between 610 and 632.

{GS1 – IS – Secularism – 2023/09/28} Secularism

  • Context (TH): Inclusive secularism should not be seen as a project to defend minority rights. It should also address inter-religious and intra-religious dominance and caste and gender domination.

Secularism in the Indian Constitution

Preamble

  • Secularism has always been a part of the IC and is reflected in Articles 25-28.
  • The 42nd Constitutional Amendment officially added the word ‘Secular’ to the Preamble of the IC.

Article 25 of IC: Freedom of conscience

  • Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion: It gives the right to profess, practice and propagate religion subject to public order, morality, and health.
  • The state can make laws:
    • Regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political, or other secular activity associated with religious practice.
    • Providing for social welfare and reform.
    • Opening the Hindu religious institutions to all classes and sections of Hindus.

Article 26 of IC: Freedom to manage religious affairs

  • Every religious denomination or any section has the right:
    • To establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes.
    • To manage its own affairs in matters of religion.
    • To own and acquire movable and immovable property and administer such property.

Article 27 of IC

  • Freedom as to payment of taxes for the promotion of any particular religion: People cannot be forced to pay taxes that are used to support/promote a particular religion/religious denomination.

Article 28 of IC

  • Freedom regarding attendance at religious instruction/worship in certain educational institutions.
  • Religious teaching is not allowed in educational institutions funded entirely by the government.
  • The above provision doesn’t apply to educational institutions run by the government but are established through trusts that mandate religious instruction in that institution.
  • Any educational institution recognised by the government or receiving financial support from the government cannot force any individual to participate in religious instruction or attend religious ceremonies conducted within the institution.

Article 29 of IC: Protection of interests of minorities

  • Citizens with a distinct language, script, or culture have the right to conserve the same.
  • Citizens cannot be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receive aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, or language.

Indian Secularism vs. Western Secularism

  • The Indian concept of secularism is different from the West (separation of state and religion).
  • In Indian secularism, the state gives all religions the same status and support.
  • In India, exclusion of religion is not possible. The state has to intervene to ensure that there is neither inter-religious (Hindu, Muslim) nor intra-religious (Sunni, Shia) domination.
  • The state maintains principled distance. It intervenes depending on what helps foster equality, freedom, or fraternity.

{GS2 – MoHA – Powers – 2023/09/28} MoHA Powers to Retire AGMUT Officers

  • Context (TH | IE): The Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) has compulsorily retired an IAS officer, Ms Dugga in the public interest due to “lack of integrity and ineffectiveness”.
  • The action taken against Ms Dugga was based on her overall track record and is not specifically related to the dog-walking incident of 2022 where she and her husband, also an IAS officer, allegedly emptied the Thyagraj stadium in Delhi to walk their dog.
  • The retirement orders were issued under various provisions of the Fundamental Rules and Central Civil Services Pension Rules, 1972.
  • Though the Department of Personnel and Training (under Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions) is the cadre controlling authority for IAS officers, the orders were issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs as she was from the Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories (AGMUT) cadre, which the Home Ministry controls.

{GS2 – MoST – Initiatives – 2023/09/28} National Quantum Mission

  • Context (IE | IE | PIB | TH): The National Quantum Mission (NSM) was launched by the Department of Science and Technology for 2023-24 to 2030-31.
  • Aim: to develop scientific R&D and create a vibrant Quantum Technology (QT) ecosystem.
  • Objective: to accelerate QT-led economic growth of the country and make India one of the leading nations in the development of Quantum Technologies & Applications (QTA).

Development Targets

  • Intermediate-scale quantum computers with 50-1000 physical qubits in various platforms like superconducting and photonic technology
  • Satellite-based secure quantum communications between over a range of 2000 km within India
  • Long-distance secure quantum communications with other countries
  • Inter-city quantum key distribution over 2000 km
  • Multi-node Quantum network with quantum memories

Assistance

  • NSM will help develop:
    • Magnetometers with high sensitivity in atomic systems and Atomic Clocks for precision timing, communications, and navigation
    • Quantum materials such as superconductors, semiconductors, and topological materials
    • Photon sources for quantum communications, sensing and metrological applications

Steps

  • Four Thematic Hubs will be set up in top academic and National R&D institutes on the domains:
    1. Quantum Computing
    2. Quantum Communication
    3. Quantum Sensing & Metrology
    4. Quantum Materials & Devices

Benefits

  • Benefits of NSM:
    • It will greatly benefit India in communication, health, financial and energy sectors, drug design, and space applications.
    • It will provide a huge boost to National priorities like digital India, Make in India, Skill India and Stand-up India, Start-up India, Self-reliant India, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
  • Quantum technology: It is based on the principles of Quantum mechanics developed.
  • Quantum material: Materials whose properties are determined by principles of quantum mechanics.
  • Quantum mechanics: It is a branch of physics that studies the behaviour of matter at the atomic and subatomic levels.
  • Superconductors: Materials with zero electrical resistance that expel magnetic fields below a specific critical temperature.
  • Semiconductors: Materials with electrical conductivity between a conductor and an insulator.
  • Topological materials: Materials whose properties of shapes are preserved under continuous deformations (such as stretching, bending, and twisting).

{GS2 – Polity – Civil Services – 2023/09/28} Compulsory Retirement of GoI Officials

  • The Government has the absolute right to retire Government officials prematurely on the grounds of lack of integrity and ineffectiveness, in public interest, as per the provisions of:
    • Fundamental Rules (FR) 56(j)/(l) & Rule 48 of Central Civil Services (CCS) Pension) Rules, 1972
    • Rule 16(3) (Amended) of All India Services (Death-cum-Retirement Benefits),1958
  • These rules lay down the policy of periodic review and premature retirement of civil servants.

Fundamental Rules (FR) 56(j) of Central Civil Services (CCS) Pension Rules, 1972

  • Under FR 56(j), the appropriate authority has the absolute right to retire any Group ‘A’ & ‘B’ officers who entered service before 35 years of age and have attained 50 years of age.
  • In other cases, the rule applies to those who have attained 55 years of age.
  • The cases of government servants covered by FR 56(j) should be reviewed six months before they attain the age of 50/55 years or complete 30 years of service, whichever occurs earlier.
  • The government informed the Lok Sabha in August 2023 that in the past three years, 122 officers have been given compulsory retirement under Rule 56(j).

Fundamental Rules (FR) 56(l) of Central Civil Services (CCS) Pension Rules, 1972

  • FR 56(l) applies to a government servant in Group ‘C’ service or post who is not governed by any pension rules after he has completed 30 years of service.
  • The appropriate authority has the absolute right to retire them by giving notice of not less than three months in writing or three months of pay and allowances in lieu of such notice.
  • The compulsory retirement pension is admissible to a government servant who is retired as a measure of penalty by the competent authority.
  • The amount of pension/gratuity or both shall not be less than two-thirds and not more than the full compensation pension that could be sanctioned to a GoI servant on the date of such retirement.

Rule 48 of the Central Civil Services (CCS) Pension Rules 1972

  • The rule pertains to retirement on completion of 30 years of qualifying service. After 30 years of service, a government servant is eligible for retirement and can receive pension benefits.
  • The amount of pension or gratuity or both shall not be less than two-thirds and not more than the full compensation pension that could be sanctioned to a GoI servant on the date of such retirement.

Rule 16(3) of the AIS (DCRB) Rules 1958

  • The rules allows the Central government, in consultation with the state government, to require a member of the service to retire in public interest after a notice of three months or three months of pay in lieu of the notice.
  • The review of the officer’s performance can be done either when he/she completes 15 years of qualifying service, or after 25 years of service or upon the officer turning 50 years, or anytime thereafter as the government deems fit.

{GS3 – Agri – Green Revolution – 2023/09/28} M.S. Swaminathan

  • Context (TH | IE): The father of India’s Green Revolution, M.S. Swaminathan, passed away at 98.
  • M.S. Swaminathan was instrumental in developing high-yielding varieties of paddy, which helped India’s low-income farmers produce the crop in abundance.
  • The United Nations Environment Programme called him the “Father of Economic Ecology.

M. S. Swaminathan: The Visionary Father of Indian Agriculture

M.S. Swaminathan’s Role in the Green Revolution

  • The back-to-back severe drought in the mid-1960s compelled to look for solutions to overcome the “ship-to-mouth” existence when the country was dependent on foodgrains imported from the U.S.
  • Dr Swaminathan’s efforts led to the success of the ‘Green Revolution,’ a programme that paved the way for a quantum jump in productivity and production of wheat and rice.
  • The discovery of Norman Borlaug, a celebrated American farm scientist and 1970 Nobel Laureate, on wheat had played a huge role in this regard.

For more information: Green Revolution

Awards, Roles and Recognitions

  • M.S. Swaminathan became the Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
  • In 1979, he was made the Principal Secretary, Union Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation.

Awards

  • Received Padma Shri in 1967.
  • Awarded the Ramon Magsaysay award for community leadership in 1971.
  • Received the Padma Bhushan in January 1972.
  • The first World Agriculture Prize, instituted by the Indian Council of Food and Agriculture, was given to him in October 2018.

International Roles and Honors

  • He headed the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines from 1982 to 1988.
  • He was awarded the first World Food Prize in 1987 — the highest honour in the field of agriculture — for his leadership role at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines.
  • He was the the first foreigner to receive the Golden Heart Presidential Award of the Philippines.
  • M.S. Swaminathan established MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in 1988 with the proceeds he got from the Food Prize.
  • The Foundation, which began functioning in Chennai since 1989, aims to accelerate use of modern science and technology for agricultural and rural development.

Swaminathan Commission

  • Appointed as chairman of the National Commission on Farmers in 2004.
  • The commission submitted five reports, with a key recommendation of setting a minimum support price (MSP) at least 50% higher than the cost of production.

Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)

  • ICAR is an autonomous body responsible for co-ordinating agricultural education and research in India. It reports to the Department of Agricultural Research and Education, Ministry of Agriculture.
  • The Union Minister of Agriculture serves as its president.

Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI)

  • ICAR-IARI, popularly known as Pusa Institute (IARI was initially located in Pusa, Bihar), is India’s national agricultural research, education and extension institute.
  • The IARI in Delhi is administered by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
  • The IARI was responsible for the research leading to the “Green Revolution in India” of the 1970s.
  • M.S. Swaminathan obtained a postgraduate degree in cytogenetics in 1949 from the IARI.

{GS3 – Agri – Green Revolution – 2023/09/28} Norman Borlaug Field Award

  • Context (TH | IE): Dr Swati Nayak, a scientist at the International Rice Research Institute South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC), has been awarded the Borlaug Field Award by the World Food Prize.
  • Dr Swati Nayak is renowned for researching climate-resilient and nutritious rice varieties.
  • She has researched extensively on 500+ climate-resilient, high-yielding, biofortified rice varieties through 10,000 on-farm tests, focusing on helping smallholder farmers.
  • She raised the issue that about 1,500 rice varieties have been released or developed in India, but only 350-400 are indented by seed producers/suppliers.
  • Even out of those, the demand is for hardly 50 varieties, with the rest just on paper and never hitting farmers’ fields.

World Food Prize

  • The World Food Prize is an international award recognising the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving food quality, quantity, or availability.
  • Conceived by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug and established in 1986, the prize is envisioned as the Nobel or the highest honour in the field of food and agriculture.
  • It is now administered by the World Food Prize Foundation with support from numerous sponsors.
  • Since 1987, the prize has been awarded annually. Laureates are honored and officially awarded their prize in Des Moines, Iowa, USA.

Norman Borlaug

  • Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug, American agronomist and Father of the Green Revolution, revolutionised agriculture globally by introducing high-yielding wheat varieties in the 1960s.
  • Due to his contribution, India shifted from food imports to self-sufficiency in wheat production. India transformed from ship to mouth’ to ‘self-sufficiency and export’.

For more information: Green Revolution

International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

  • IRRI is an international agricultural research and training organisation headquartered in Los Baños, Laguna, in the Philippines, and has offices in seventeen countries.
  • One of the IRRI’s regional centres, IRRI South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC), is in Varanasi.
  • The institute, established in 1960, aims to reduce poverty and hunger, improve the health of rice farmers and consumers, and ensure the environmental sustainability of rice farming.
  • IRRI is one of 15 agricultural research centres in the world that form the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR), a global partnership of organisations engaged in research on food security.
  • IRRI is known for developing rice varieties that contributed to the Green Revolution in the 1960s.
  • IRRI’s semi-dwarf varieties, including the famous IR8, saved India from famine in the 1960s.
  • In 2005, it was estimated that 60% of the world’s rice area was planted to IRRI-bred rice varieties.

Golden rice

  • IRRI is pursuing the development of golden rice. Geneticists inserted two genes into the rice plant that allow it to produce beta carotene, which makes its grains yellow.
  • Because the human body converts beta carotene to vitamin A, golden rice can potentially address vitamin A deficiency.
  • Vitamin A deficiency causes blindness and increases the risk of death from disease. Children are particularly vulnerable.
  • Anti-GMO activists oppose IRRI’s research trials of golden rice.

{GS3 – Envi – Air Pollution – 2023/09/28} First Green Hydrogen-Fuelled Bus

  • Context (IE | PIB): Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has started the operational trial of green hydrogen-fuelled buses in the National Capital Region (NCR).
  • Benefits:
    • Fuel cells are more efficient than conventional internal combustion (IC) engines. The electrical efficiency of fuel cells is 55-60% compared to thermal efficiency of around 25% for IC engines.
    • Fuel cell vehicles are also more efficient than Electrical Vehicles (EVs).
    • Fuel cell vehicles have zero carbon emissions (only emit water vapour and warm air).

Hydrogen as Fuel

  • Hydrogen is a colourless, odourless, highly flammable, non-toxic gas.
  • It is the lightest and most abundant element in the universe.
  • On earth, it never occurs freely. It exists combined with other elements, e.g., water (H2O).
  • It has to be produced using other sources of energy. Hence, it is an energy carrier (like electricity) and not an energy source.
  • Hydrogen is a clean molecule that produces only water and water vapour as by-products when used as fuel. However, the process of extracting it is energy-intensive.
  • Energy carriers: They allow energy transport in a usable form from one place to another.

Types of Hydrogen

  • Hydrogen is classified into different types based on the energy source used in its production:
    • Brown Hydrogen: Produced using coal without carbon sequestration (high carbon emission).
    • Grey Hydrogen: Produced using Natural Gas without carbon sequestration (carbon emission).
    • Blue Hydrogen: Produced using Natural Gas with carbon sequestration (low carbon emission).
    • Green Hydrogen: Produced using Renewable Energy (Zero carbon emission; carbon sequestration is not needed).

Green Hydrogen

  • Green hydrogen is produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using an electrolysis process powered by renewable energy (like wind and solar energy).
  • Electrolysis: The process by which electric current is passed through a substance to effect a chemical change. In a chemical change, the substance loses or gains an electron (oxidation or reduction).

Hydrogen Colours - Green Hydrogen

Hydrogen Colours - Green Hydrogen

Benefits of green hydrogen

  • Green hydrogen releases no carbon by-products because it is produced using renewable energy (water and water vapour are the only by-products it releases). So, it has a low carbon footprint.
  • It is challenging to use renewable energy as a steady source of energy supply. So, green hydrogen helps in the utilisation of renewable energy while meeting energy needs steadily.
  • It is light, storable for a long time and energy-dense (storing a large amount of energy in relation to its volume). So, it is suitable for long-distance mobilisation.

Challenges in the use of green hydrogen

  • High transportation cost of renewable energy required in green hydrogen production.
  • High cost of production and lack of infrastructure.
  • Limited technology to use green hydrogen in different sectors.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC)

  • IOC is an Indian government-owned oil and gas company.
  • It is a Maharatna company founded in 1959.
  • It is the country’s largest fuel retailer.

{GS3 – IE – Securities – 2023/09/28} G-Bonds

  • Context (TH): GoI will issue G-Securities (G-secs) with a 50-year maturity. Till now, the maximum maturity period was 40 years.

Financial Securities

  • Financial security refers to a financial instrument that holds some monetary value.
  • The term “securities” is commonly associated with stocks and bonds.
  • These are tradable financial instruments to raise capital in public and private markets.
  • There are primarily three types of securities:
    1. Equity: It provides ownership rights to holders.
    2. Debt: Loans repaid with periodic payments.
    3. Hybrids: It has aspects of debt and equity.

Government Securities (G-Sec)

  • It is a tradable instrument issued by the Central or State Governments.
  • The government issues only debt securities.
  • G-sec are issued through auctions conducted by RBI.
  • There is no risk of default; hence, they are called risk-free gilt-edged instruments.
  • There are four types of G-Securities:
    1. Treasury bills (T-bills)
    2. Cash Management Bills (CMB)
    3. Dated Securities
    4. State Development Loans (SDL)
  • The central government can issue all four types of G-Sec.
  • The state government can issue only SDL and not others.
  • T-bills and CMBs are examples of zero-coupon bonds.

Zero-coupon bond

  • A zero-coupon bond is a debt security that doesn’t pay interest (a coupon).
  • It is traded at a price lower than its face value. It is redeemed for its full face value, making a profit.
  • The difference between a regular bond and a zero-coupon bond is that the former pays bondholders’ interest, while the latter does not issue such interest payments.

{GS3 – S&T – Computers – 2023/09/28} Quantum Computers

  • Context (TH): Quantum computers promise to be more efficient than conventional computing.
  • Quantum computers are a type of computing technology that uses the principles of quantum mechanics to perform calculations.
  • Quantum mechanics is a branch of physics that studies the behaviour of matter at the atomic and subatomic levels.

Characteristics of Quantum Computers

Reasons why quantum computers are more efficient than conventional computers:

Superimposition

  • Unlike classical computers that use binary bits (0,1), quantum computers use qubits (quantum bits) as the basic unit of information.
  • Binary bits can represent either 0 or 1, but qubits can exist in a superposition of states, meaning they can represent both 0 and 1 simultaneously.
  • Superposition states allow qubits to carry more information.
  • This property also allows quantum computers to perform multiple calculations parallelly.

Entanglement

  • Entanglement means that two qubits can be intrinsically linked even when physically separated.
  • This allows quantum computers to tackle complex problems that classical computers cannot.

Scalability

  • In classical computers, processing power grows linearly with adding more binary bits.
  • But in quantum computers, processing power grows exponentially with the addition of more qubits.

Concerns/Challenges with Quantum Computers

  • Sensitivity to environment: Quantum computers are extremely sensitive to interactions with their environment. This can result in errors in computation.
  • Limited tasks: While quantum computers have shown impressive performance for some functions, they are still relatively small compared to classical computers.
  • Quantum hardware: Developing high-quality quantum hardware, such as qubits and control electronics, is a significant challenge, both technologically and financially (expensive).
  • Quantum software: Quantum algorithms and software development tools are still in their infancy.
  • Classical computer interfaces: Quantum computers will not replace classical computers; they will be complementary technology. So, developing efficient and reliable methods for transferring data between classical and quantum computers is essential for practical applications.
  • Standards and protocols: Developing standards for quantum computer-related things is essential to ensure compatibility and interoperability between different quantum computing platforms.
  • Security threat: With the immense computing power of quantum computers, potential security threats arise, such as breaking classical cryptographic algorithms (even banking passwords can be easily cracked using brute-force techniques trial and error).

Quantum Computers vs. Supercomputers

  • A supercomputer has a high level of performance as compared to a general-purpose computer.
Aspect Quantum Computers Supercomputers
Technology Quantum mechanics Classical physics
Strengths Can solve certain types of problems much faster than supercomputers More versatile and can be used for a wider range of applications

Quantum Supremacy

  • Quantum supremacy means that a difficult problem is solved in seconds with the help of quantum computers which would otherwise take a supercomputer thousands of years to accomplish.

How is it possible?

  • Because of quantum superposition, a quantum computer can mimic several classical computers working in parallel.
  • For example, if we have a database of a million social media profiles & had to look for a particular individual, a classical computer would have to scan each profile which would amount to a million steps.
  • Quantum computers would do the same task with one thousand steps instead of a million.

What can this mean for online banking?

  • Supercomputers don’t have enough computational capabilities to break a bank grade encryption (theoretically they can but practically it takes years to break a bank grade encryption). But if quantum computers become a practical reality, then bank grade encryptions don’t stand a chance.
  • However, it is likely that banks will harness quantum computers (quantum cryptography) themselves to create a more secure ecosystem.

Quantum Cryptography

  • Quantum cryptography is the science of exploiting quantum mechanical properties to perform cryptographic tasks — encrypt and transmit data in a way that can never be hacked.
  • Quantum cryptography solves the problem of secure key distribution by allowing the exchange of a cryptographic key between two remote parties with absolute security.

What is Cryptography?

  • Cryptography is the reason you can privately send emails/Whatsapp to your friends without having to worry if anyone else will be able to read them (end to end encryption).
  • Cryptography is the art of rendering information exchanged between two parties unintelligible to any unauthorized person. It is the process of mathematically scrambling data so that only the person with the right “key” can read it.
  • Cryptography is used in data authentication, digital signatures, and non-repudiation.

How Cryptography Works?

  • Before transmitting sensitive information, the sender combines the plain text with a secret key, using some encryption algorithm, to obtain the cipher text.
  • This scrambled message is then sent to the recipient who reverses the process, recovering the plain text by combining the cipher text with the secret key using the decryption algorithm.
  • An eavesdropper cannot deduce the message from the scrambled one without knowing the key.
  • The scheme relies on the fact that both sender and receiver have symmetric keys, and that these keys are known only to the authorized persons.
  • Numerous encryption algorithms exist. Their relative strengths essentially depend on the length of the key they use. The more bits the key contains, the better the security.

How Cryptography Works

  • Cryptography (the study of encrypting data) vs encryption (the process): Cryptography is about studying methods to keep a message secret between two parties (like symmetric and asymmetric keys), and the second is about the process itself — encrypting and decrypting data.

How Password Encryption Works

How Cryptographic Hash Matching Works

What is Quantum Key Distribution?

  • Quantum key distribution (QKD) is a secure communication method which implements a cryptographic protocol involving components of quantum mechanics.
  • Quantum key distribution doesn’t encrypt the actual data, but rather allows users to securely distribute classical keys which can then be used for encrypted communication.
  • In the QKD, encryption keys are sent as ‘qubits’ (or quantum bits) in an optical fibre.
  • Quantum communication involves encoding information in quantum states, or qubits, as opposed to classical communication’s use of bits. Usually, photons are used for these quantum states.

Is it possible to copy data encoded through QKD?

  • No, it is not possible to copy data encoded in a Quantum State.
  • If one attempts to read the encoded data, the quantum state will be changed, which in return could be used to detect eavesdropping in QKD.

Phonons in Quantum Computers

  • Context (TH | TH): Phonons (particles of sound energy) can be used for quantum computing.
  • Quantum computers are a type of computing technology that uses the principles of quantum mechanics to perform calculations.
  • They use qubits as their basic unit of information. A qubit can be a particle like an electron.
  • Any particle that can be manipulated to encode information can be used as a qubit.
  • Scientists have developed an acoustic beam-splitter that can manipulate phonons to use as qubits.
  • Quantum mechanics studies the behaviour of matter at the atomic and subatomic levels.
  • Photons (particles of light energy) are already used as qubits.
  • Quantum gates is a circuit that changes the state of a qubit or a collection of qubits.

Majorana Zero Modes

  • Context (TH): Microsoft has found a way to create a particle called Majorana zero modes that can revolutionise quantum computing.

Majorana Fermions

  • All subatomic particles that makeup matter are called fermions.
  • British physicist Paul Dirac found the existence of an antiparticle for each particle.
  • An antiparticle is a subatomic particle with the same mass as a corresponding particle but with the opposite physical charges and magnetic moment.
  • If a particle and antiparticle meet, they annihilate each other.
  • Italian physicist Ettore Majorana found that particles that satisfied certain conditions can be their own antiparticles. Such fermions are called Majorana fermions.

Majorana Zero Modes

 

  • They are formed when two Majorana fermions bind together to form a single particle.
  • They are unique because they are their own antiparticle.
  • Benefit: They are topologically protected, meaning they are not easily destroyed by noise or errors. So, they can be used to create topological quantum computers.
    • Normally, quantum computers are very fragile to noise and errors.
  • Topologically protected means properties of shapes preserved under continuous deformations (such as stretching, bending, and twisting).
  • Quantum computers are a type of computing technology that uses the principles of quantum mechanics to perform calculations.

{Prelims – S&T – Defence – 2023/09/28} Swavlamban 2.0

  • Context (TH | IE): The Indian Navy is set to release its updated indigenisation roadmap, Swavlamban 2.0’, in the first week of October 2023.
  • In the previous year, as part of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Navy committed to developing 75 technologies. This goal has not only been met but exceeded.
  • These indigenously developed technologies are of world-class standards and are cost-effective.
  • ‘Swavlamban 2.0’ aims to foster collaboration, coordination, and development of new technologies through partnerships, further strengthening India’s self-reliance in naval technology.
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