TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. Open to new deal with Iran: Trump C. GS3 Related HEALTH 1. State may change tack to ease dengue burden 2. Rajasthan Zika strain not linked to microcephaly 3. IIT Roorkee team uses tamarind seed protein to treat chikungunya INTERNAL SECURITY 1. IEDs, Myanmar-based insurgents pose threat along Manipur border D. GS4 Related E. Editorials ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY 1. Wrong doctor, wrong medicine (Air Pollution- Delhi) F. Tidbits 1. Highlights of WRI Report on Food habits – Why you should stop eating cattle? G. Prelims Fact H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS2 Related
What is the news?
- U.S. President Donald Trump has suggested he is open to a new comprehensive deal with Iran, saying that till then the toughest-ever sanctions on the West Asian country that kick off on Monday would continue.
- “The U.S. remains open to reaching a new, more comprehensive deal with Iran that forever blocks its path to a nuclear weapon, addresses the entire range of its malign actions, and is worthy of the Iranian people,” Mr. Trump said in a presidential statement late on Friday night.
What happened after the deal?
- October 2015: Iran conducts its first ballistic missile test since the nuclear deal. The US accuses Iran of violating a UN Security Council resolution, but former President Barack Obama acknowledges that ballistic missiles are “entirely separate” from the nuclear deal.
- Jan 2016: The IAEA acknowledges Iran has met its commitments under the nuclear deal, which sees most sanctions on Iran lifted. It takes time but Iran re-enters the global banking system and begins selling crude oil and natural gas on the international market. Next day, the US imposes sanctions over Iran’s ballistic missile tests.
- October 2018: Trump announces he will not re-certify the Iran nuclear deal as required, criticizing the accord by saying it “threw Iran’s dictatorship a political and economic lifeline.
What are US’s present concerns?
- Trump administration says the deal did not target Iran’s ballistic missile programme.
- It does not focus on Iran’s nuclear activities beyond 2025.
- It also leaves Iran’s role in conflicts in Yemen and Syria.
C. GS3 Related
What is the News?
- Scientific evidence emerging from an ongoing epidemiological study on dengue fever in Kerala has pointed to the need for better vector surveillance and control strategies which will help the State develop accurate dengue outbreak prediction models.
- The study, being conducted by the Community Medicine Department of Thiruvananthapuram Government Medical College (TMC), with WHO’s technical support, is the first ever to explore the epidemiology of dengue fever in Kerala.
What is Dengue?
- Dengue is a vector-borne disease transmitted by the bite of an infected female Aedes Aegypti mosquito.
- The mosquito becomes infected when it feeds on the blood of a person infected with the virus. After about one week, the mosquito can then transmit the virus while biting a healthy person.
- There are 4 serotypes of the virus that causes dengue. These are known as DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, DEN-4.
- Infection with one strain will provide life-time protection only against that particular strain. However, it is still possible to become infected by other strains and develop into severe dengue.
- Dengue cannot be spread directly from person to person. However, a person infected and suffering from dengue fever can infect other mosquitoes.
- Most cases occur in tropical areas of the world, including the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Southern China, Taiwan, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, Mexico, Africa, Central and South America.
- Dengue causes flu-like symptoms and lasts for 2-7 days. Dengue fever usually occurs after an incubation period of 4-10 days after the bite of the infected mosquito.
- High Fever (40°C/ 104°F) is usually accompanied by at least two of the following symptoms: headaches, pain behind eyes, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands, joint, bone or muscle pains and rash.
- There is no vaccine or specific medication for dengue fever. Patients should seek medical advice, rest and drink plenty of fluids.
- As a precautionary approach, patients can adopt measures to reduce transmission by sleeping under a treated net especially during the period of illness with fever.
- Aedes aegypti is a daytime feeder: The peak biting periods are early in the morning and in the evening before dusk.
- Aedes aegypti has evolved into an intermittent biter and prefers to bite more than one person during the feeding period. This mechanism has made Aedes aegypti a very highly efficient epidemic vector mosquito.
- Researchers have found that a protein found in tamarind seeds reduces the infectivity of chikungunya virus by 64% and the virus RNA levels inside infected cells by nearly 45%.
- Based on the promising results obtained through in vitro studies, the researchers are planning to test the protein on animals to prevent and/or treat chikungunya infection. Currently, there are no drugs to treat chikungunya or any vaccine to prevent it.
- The study published in the journal Virology has for the first time confirmed that the sugar moiety on the surface of alphaviruses has a role in infectivity; this is known for other viruses such as HIV and influenza.
What is Chikungunya?
- Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus that causes a disease.
- It is transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes.
- Its symptoms are characterised by abrupt fever and severe joint pain, often in hands and feet, and may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash.
- There is no specific antiviral drug treatment for chikungunya.
- There is no commercial chikungunya vaccine.
- Chikungunya treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms, including the joint pain using anti-pyretics, optimal analgesics and fluids.
What is the news?
- While the intensity of Manipur’s decades-old insurgency has been contained, with security forces ensuring there are no insurgent camps left in the State, militants continue to take advantage of the hilly terrain and porous border with Myanmar to carry out attacks with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and sophisticated weapons, army officials said.
- “A number of insurgent groups were active in Manipur,” Major General V.K. Mishra, General Officer Commanding of the Leimakhong based 57 Mountain Division, told a group of visiting journalists. “We have been able to control them, most of their activities have been contained. However, the effort by insurgent groups to disrupt the peace continues, which is evident by the recoveries of weapons, IEDs and apprehension of cadres. This pressure needs to be maintained,” he added.
What is insurgency?
- An insurgency is an armed rebellion against a constituted authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents . In case of Indian scenario it can be seen as armed rebellion and violent protests against Indian Government or authority.
Why is the North-eastern region prone to insurgency?
- The seven sister states are predominantly tribal with some states having more than 90% tribal populations.
- The forest laws since the British times became intrusive & drastically affected their livelihoods & culture.
- The diversity within even small territories proved to be difficult to accommodate within the same political administration.
- This led to numerous demands, ranging from more autonomy to complete independence.
- The Bengali migration from present day Bangladesh to the north-east during 1947 & later has also added considerable resentment that has shown up both in electoral & militant modes.
What are some of the prominent militant groups in the north–east?
- Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland, was formed to advance the Naga cause for sovereignty.
- This organisation has operations in the Naga inhabited regions of India & Myanmar, with easy cross border access.
- This group has had major splits. Issac-Muivah faction (NSCN – IM) is currently involved in peace talks with the Indian government, while the Kaplang faction with its major operations in Myanmar is designated as a terror outfit by India.
- The United Liberation Front of Assam is operating to establish a sovereign Assam through an armed struggle.
- The Indian government banned it in 1990s & a severe crackdown was launched in 2010, which considerably brought down their numbers.
Some other organisations of significance are Mizo National Front and National Liberation Front of Tripura.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
A Brief Note on the Air Quality Index:
- It is important to note that air pollution has been a matter of environmental and health concerns, particularly in urban areas. Central Pollution Control Board along with State Pollution Control Boards has been operating National Air Monitoring Program (NAMP) covering 240 cities of the country.
- In addition, continuous monitoring systems that provide data on near real-time basis are also installed in a few cities.
- Traditionally, air quality status has been reported through voluminous data. Thus, it was important that information on air quality is put up in public domain in simple linguistic terms that is easily understood by a common person.
- Air Quality Index (AQI) is one such tool for effective dissemination of air quality information to people.
- An Expert Group comprising medical professionals, air quality experts, academia, advocacy groups, and SPCBs was constituted and a technical study was awarded to IIT Kanpur. IIT Kanpur and the Expert Group recommended an AQI scheme.
Associated Health Impacts
May cause minor breathing discomfort to sensitive people.
May cause breathing discomfort to people with lung disease such as asthma, and discomfort to people with heart disease, children and older adults.
May cause breathing discomfort to people on prolonged exposure, and discomfort to people with heart disease
May cause respiratory illness to the people on prolonged exposure. Effect may be more pronounced in people with lung and heart diseases.
May cause respiratory impact even on healthy people, and serious health impacts on people with lung/heart disease. The health impacts may be experienced even during light physical activity.
A Note on the Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi:
- Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi was launched in Delhi recently by the Union Minister for Earth Sciences and Environment, Dr. Harsh Vardhan.
- The System is designed to predict extreme air pollution events and give alerts to take necessary steps as per Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) of the Government of India. The air pollution system has been developed jointly by the scientists at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, India Meteorological Department and National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF).
- Speaking at the launch, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that the early warning system will help in proactively forewarning, 3-4 days in advance, any large scale air pollution events which may occur over the Delhi region.
A Closer Look:
- Recently, figures released by the Union Health Ministry showed the total emissions of Particulate Matter (PM) less than 2.5 micrometre in diameter increased by 15% in 2018, compared to 2010.
- Government figures show the levels of PM 2.5, a known carcinogenic, have gone up, with the transport sector contributing 40%, and wind-blown dust from road and other sources 21.5%.
- Further, the Central Pollution Control Board said PM 10 levels mid-week this time stood at 326.8 micrograms per cubic metre, three times higher than the prescribed limit.
What is contributing to the rising pollution levels?
- A senior official of the Ministry has said that the following factors have contributed to the rising pollution levels in the city:
- Dropped wind speed
- change in the direction of wind to northwest bringing in pollution from stubble- burning in Punjab and Haryana,
- increasing vehicular traffic owing to the festive season,
- lowered temperature,
- garbage dumping and
- waste burning
- Further, Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, Research and Advocacy, Centre For Science and Environment has given certain warnings.
- She has warned that winter air will turn more toxic soon. She asserted that this would happen due to toxic emissions from vehicles, industrial units, waste-burning, land-fill fires, and dust from construction and roads and stubble- burning.
A Few More Important Points to Note:
- For sometime now, the onset of the winter season has come to be associated with toxic atmospheric pollution in north India.
- It is important to note that although road dust and pollution from heavy vehicles are primarily responsible for the noxious air that sets on Delhi and other urban centres, the burning of paddy stubble by farmers further compounds the issue.
- This practice is followed by farmers to clear their fields for the next crop, but this is considered to be responsible for 20% of the smog.
To address this issue, and under directions from the Supreme Court-constituted Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, or EPCA, the Centre is partnering with the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to provide farmers with a range of mechanised implements to clear their fields of paddy crop residue to prepare for sowing wheat.
- Specifically, there is a 50% subsidy to farmers, and a 75% waiver to cooperative societies, agencies that rent out equipment, farmers’ interest groups or gram panchayats to buy such machines.
- Further, states have got nearly ₹650 crore to help farmers buy subsidised equipment such as Happy Seeder, paddy straw choppers and Zero Till Drill.
- Moreover, the state of Punjab, which of the three States has the largest acreage under paddy, has a target of procuring 24,315 machines by October 15.
- A task force, headed by the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and comprising Environment Ministry officials and Chief Secretaries of these States, have been meeting since January to prepare for the winter season.
Voices of Concern:
- Certain reports suggest that many farmers, particularly those with land holdings of less than 5 acres, remain sceptical of the efficiency of these machines.
- These farmers have concerns of whether or not these machines will affect productivity.
- As a matter of fact, many farmers have told officials that they are worried that there could be damage to the soil.
- Hence, it is believed that just making technological tools available may not be enough and that there needs to be proactive engagement to both persuade and reassure farmers.
- Experts have pointed out that surprisingly, it was technology that contributed to the problem in the first place.
- It was the rising cost of labour that prodded farmers to adopt mechanised equipment which, while efficient, left behind much longer stalks of paddy than what the traditional practice of removing them by hand did.
- The current state of affairs: the greater availability of machines and the zero-tolerance policy, need to be seen as works in progress to derive lessons on how to refine the crop-clearing process in an ecologically sound manner.
- There must also be a sense of proportion, as 80% of the atmospheric pollution in Delhi in winter draws from sources other than burning stubble.
- Lastly, given Delhi’s geography, low wind speeds and a spike in local pollution, which is caused largely from vehicles, biomass burning, firecrackers, etc, raise the particulate matter count dramatically during winter.
- Thus, to be effective, the fight against pollution must necessarily be broad-based.
A Few More Points to Note:
- It is important to note that the present air quality has become a threat to the people. High pollution levels directly harm skin. It can cause watering of eyes and nose. Smaller particles less than 2.5 micron can directly enter our body through the respiratory pathway.
- The immediate symptoms include breathlessness, cough, fever and even choking sensation. The nervous system also gets affected and we may have headache and dizziness. Nausea and vomiting may occur. Studies have shown direct harmful effect of pollution on our heart also.
- Finally, Delhi has brought in a graded action plan for emergency response. The plan includes shutting of the Badarpur thermal power station and water sprinkling and mechanised sweeping of select roads.
- These plans seek a transition to clean energy in all sectors and an overhaul of waste management practices. Experts want the State governments to micro-map pollution hotspots across Delhi and the NCR for customised action. The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority has also asked all agencies to enforce the graded response action plan.
- Experts have cited that with Diwali round the corner, people with respiratory problems are literally anticipating the worst.
- They further assert that if more smoke is blown in from the burning fields of stubble in Punjab and Haryana, and if the great Indian public decides to ignore both legal bans and social appeals (as it has done in the past) and celebrate with the usual noisy, smoky firecrackers, some of those with acute problems might literally be facing a death sentence.
- Experts have pointed out that as usual, with both the elected and administrative arms of government failing to come up with tangible solutions, it was left to the judiciary to do something. The Supreme Court did do something: it has prohibited the plying of diesel vehicles that are over 10 years old and petrol vehicles that are over 15 years old in the National Capital Region.
A Brief Note on Historical Interventions:
- From a historical perspective, we note that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had imposed such a ban as far back as in April 7, 2015, but clearly nobody was implementing this very seriously.
- After being pulled up by the Supreme Court, though, the Delhi government told the court that it had struck off nearly 40 lakh such vehicles off the registry, which means that these vehicles will no longer be able to legally ply on the roads.
- Thus, it is believed that at one stroke, this will make a dramatic and immediate difference to the traffic problem as well as pollution levels in the NCR.
- Further, that order was just the latest in a long series of orders and directives by the Supreme Court.
- It is important to note that orders and directives have been issued by the Supreme Court time and again to try to check the rampant rise in pollution levels in Delhi caused by a toxic mix of vehicular emissions, emissions from thermal power plants, construction dust and open burning of refuse along with seasonal additions like fine dust blowing in from the Thar desert during some summer months and smoke from burning field stubble in neighbouring States, especially in October and November.
- Further, one also observes that the courts have intervened dozens of times over the past couple of decades to somehow curb this relentless rise in pollution, which has left Delhi with the distinction of being the world’s most polluted city.
- One observes that starting from 1998, the honourable Supreme Court of India had first imposed a ban on all public transport vehicles using diesel as a fuel and ordered them to convert to CNG.
- Since then, the Supreme Court of India has taken all kinds of steps.
- Historically, we observe that the Supreme Court has imposed a restriction on the plying of commercial goods vehicles in the day time, ordered the phasing out/banning of commercial vehicles over 20, 17 and 15 years old within different time frames, ordered stopping the sale of unleaded oil and loose 2T engine oil, directed an increase in the number of CNG outlets in the capital and even ordered the construction of bypass roads and a new inter-State bus terminus for the city.
- Now, the court has also said that no Bharat Stage-IV vehicle shall be sold across the country with effect from April 1, 2020. These are all measures that the government should have taken.
- The fact that all these measures have failed to have any kind of significant or long-term impact on Delhi’s pollution levels shows that trying to solve society-level problems through court orders, that too without an administrative set-up that is capable and willing to implement such orders, is simply going to fail.
- One observes that two years ago, the NGT had directed commercial vehicles entering Delhi to pay an environment compensation charge to the government.
- To this, the administration simply responded later that it was unable to collect this charge. And despite deregistering 40 lakh vehicles at one stroke now, reports indicate that the number of cars that have been impounded are far too few.
- In conclusion, there is another problem when courts intervene in such technical areas.
- This can be illustrated by the following example: for instance, diesel as a fuel has been demonised, although there are specific diesel engines which pollute less than petrol engines. Likewise, a 10-year-old diesel engine car might be far less polluting than a poorly maintained one-year-old diesel taxi.
- Further, banning registration of non-BS-VI vehicles is akin to your income tax being deducted at source — experts argue that it simply reflects the tax department’s bid to cover up its inability to collect by shifting the responsibility somewhere else.
- Experts assert that there is no point running an odd-even vehicle scheme when the root cause of stubble burning remains unaddressed.
- Finally, one should note that pollution is a societal problem which calls for cohesive administrative action and behavioural change on the part of the public. It cannot be fixed through court orders.
- The World Resources Institute (WRI), based in Washington, DC, USA, has recently suggested that people should reduce (if not abandon) eating beef
- WRI estimates that the global demands for beef may increase by a whopping 95% by the year 2050. This is despite the fact that beef-eating in the US has dropped, thanks to health concerns about eating “red meat.”
- By the way, the word cattle here includes cows and bulls, buffaloes, horses, sheep and goats – in effect farm animals. There are 1.3 billion cattle across the world today (and India rears 300 million of them). This means, we would need over 2.6 billion cattle 30 years from now!
- Breeding cattle impacts the climate conditions on earth, contributing to global warming. It also takes up lot of land for pasturing (it is estimated that 25% of the earth’s land mass (minus the Antarctica) would be needed for pasture).
- It is also estimated that a third of the global water is needed for farm animal production .On top of this, cows, buffaloes, sheep, goats and other “ungulates” belch a lot; this alone emits enormous amount of greenhouse gases that contribute over 60% to global warming.
- In contrast, plants such as wheat, rice, maize, pulses, roots and tubers need no pasture land, demand far less water and, more importantly, generate little or no “greenhouse gases”. We have promised to cut down global warming to no more than 1.5°C within the next 20 years, but with the projected demand for increase the number of cattle, the situation can only worsen.
- Today about 20% of the world overeats, leading to obesity and being overweight, and there are consequent health problems. Cutting the calories down to the optimal level will lead to both health benefits and saving in land and water use.
- Include more plant-based proteins and cut down animal-based ones. Traditional Mediterranean diet (fish and poultry meat, at low levels) and vegetarian meals (with legumes-based proteins) are suggested.
- Reduce beef consumption specifically – Cutting down beef (cattle in general) in daily diet will offer both dietary and environmental benefit. The environmental benefits are clear; it saves agriculture for land use and reduces greenhouse gases. Rather than beef, one can turn to pork, poultry, fish and, of course, legumes.
- The move to vegetarianism, which started around 1500-500 BCE by the Indians and the Greeks, was connected with the idea of nonviolence towards animals, and promoted by religion and philosophy. The Tamil scholar-poet Thiruvalluvar, the Mauryan kings Chandragupta and Ashoka, and the Greek sage Pythagoras (of the theorem fame) were vegetarians.
- The current trend towards an even more stringent form of vegetarianism, called the vegan diet, forbids any form of dairy products such as milk, cheese, curds, and indeed any animal-derived material. Today, there are about 300 million Indians who are vegetarians, and of these, perhaps about 2 millions might be vegans, but this might well need correction.
G. Prelims Fact
Nothing here for today!!!
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. e-Shakti initiative, recently seem in the news, is:
- Online portal to file complaints related to women
- Digitisation of Self Help Group Accounts by NABARD
- Online marketing platform for women by Government
- Digitisation of Women cells by Delhi Police
Question 2. Consider the following statements regarding National Crime Records Bureau:
- National Crime Records Bureau functions under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- NCRB figures merely reflect the number of crimes registered by the police and may not reflect the actual situation on the ground.
Which of the above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 and 2
Question 3. Consider the following statements regarding National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR):
- NCPCR is neither a constitutional body nor a Statutory body.
- National Commission can inquire into any matter which is pending before a State Commission for Protection of Child Rights or any other Statutory Commission.
Which of the above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 and 2
I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam
Under what circumstances can the Financial Emergency be proclaimed by the President of India? What consequences follow when such a declaration remains in force? (150 words)
Why do you think the committees are considered to be useful for parliamentary work? Discuss, in this context, the role of the Estimates Committee. (150 words)
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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