11 Nov 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. MHA didn’t refer remission plea to President
C. GS3 Related
ENVIRONMENT
1. Elevated corridor: ‘Consider transplanting at least 760 trees proposed to be felled’
2. Is Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary safe for migratory birds?
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
HEALTH, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. Polio vaccine contamination is a worry?
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. The lowdown on the crisis in Sri Lanka (India and the Neighbourhood; India- Sri Lanka Relations)
F. Tidbits
1. Groundwater depletion alarming in northwest, central India
G. Prelims Fact
1. National body set up to study rare form of diabetes
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. ‘MHA didn’t refer remission plea to President’

 

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has admitted that Tamil Nadu’s proposal for premature release of convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case was not sent to the President and the decision (not to concur with the proposal) was taken at the highest level in the Ministry.
  • In March 2016, the State sent a proposal to the Centre seeking remission of the sentences of life convicts V. Sridharan alias Murugan, T. Surendraraja alias Santhan, A.G Perarivalan alias Arivu, Nalini, Jayakumar, Robert Payas and Ravichandran.
  • In its reply dated April 18, 2018, the MHA said the Central Bureau of Investigation had opposed the plea on the ground that “releasing the four foreign nationals who had committed the gruesome murder of the former Prime Minister of this country along with 15 others, most of whom were police officers, in connivance with three Indian nationals, will set a very dangerous precedent and lead to international ramifications…”

Related Concept – Pardoning Power of the president

  • Article 72 of the Constitution empowers the President to grant pardons to persons who have been tried and convicted of any offence in all cases where the – Punishment or sentence is for an offence against a Union Law, offence by a court martial (military court) and the sentence of death.
  • The object of conferring this power on the President is to keep the door open for correcting any judicial errors in the operation of law and to afford relief from a sentence, which the President regards as unduly harsh.

The pardoning power of the President includes the following:

  • Pardon – It removes both the sentence and the conviction and completely absolves the convict from all sentences, punishments and disqualifications
  • Commutation – It denotes the substitution of one form of punishment for a lighter form. For example, a death sentence may be commuted to rigorous imprisonment, which in turn may be commuted to a simple imprisonment
  • Remission – It implies reducing the period of sentence without changing its character. For example, a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for twenty years may be remitted to rigorous imprisonment for ten years.
  • Respite – It denotes awarding a lesser sentence in place of one originally awarded due to some special fact, such as the physical disability of a convict or the pregnancy of a woman offender.
  • Reprieve – It implies a stay of the execution of a sentence (especially that of death) for a temporary period. Its purpose is to enable the convict to have time to seek pardon or commutation from the President.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ENVIRONMENT

1. Elevated corridor: ‘Consider transplanting at least 760 trees proposed to be felled’

Context

  • After having lost the battle to construct a steel flyover, the Karnataka government has now decided to build six steel flyovers across the length and breadth of Bengaluru.
  • To minimise the loss, the State-level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) has said that the authorities planning the project should consider transplanting at least 760 trees.
  • The Rs. 19,265-crore project (excluding land acquisition cost) is envisioned to be six corridors — of four or six lanes — with a total length of 102.05 km.
  • The SEIAA, which approved the Terms of Reference — the preliminary step in the environmental clearance process — has said that the environment impact assessment report should examine the possibility of transplanting at least 20% of the trees proposed to be felled.

Related Concept – Environment Impact Assessment

  • It is a study to evaluate and identify the predictable environmental consequences and the best combination of economic and environmental costs and benefits of the proposed project.
  • On the basis of EIA, an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) is prepared, which is a description of the means by which the environmental consequences as pointed out in the EIA will be mitigated. Together the whole draft is termed as EIA-EMP report.

Why is EIA conducted?

  • To systematically examine both beneficial and adverse consequences of the proposal.
  • To ensure that those consequences are taken into account during project design.
  • To identify possible environmental effects of the proposal and means to mitigate them.
  • To predict whether there will be significant adverse effects even after the mitigation.
  • To lessen conflicts by promoting community participation and informing decision makers.

What are the benefits of the EIA?

  • Identification of the consequences of the proposal.
  • Prediction of the extent of consequences.
  • Evaluation of the predicted consequences. (Significant or not)
  • Mitigation of the adverse consequences.
  • Documentation to inform decision makers what needs to be done.

2. Is Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary safe for migratory birds?

Context

  • The water quality at the Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary might be unsafe for avifauna to feed and breed, notes a study that examined different pollution indicators in water. Researchers from Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli compared their results with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) standards to reach this conclusion.

Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary

  • The wildlife sanctuary located in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu spreads across an area of 30 sq.km and comprises sandy coastal, saline swamps and thorn scrub forests around the backwater.
  • Though it is a protected area and a Ramsar site, chemical companies and small-scale shrimp farms around the wetland have started to pose a threat to the biodiversity and ecosystem of the sanctuary.

Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary

  • The dwindling of mud ponds in the Pulicat and low levels of water at the Point Calimere (in Tamil Nadu) are driving more and more migratory birds to Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary every year.
  • It is located in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
  • It is the second largest surviving stretch of mangrove forests in India after Sundarbans of West Bengal.
  • It is home for 24 mangrove tree species and over 120 bird species, according to an estimate.
  • After Kolleru and Pulicat, Coringa is the third place that attracts more and more migratory birds every year.
  • The sanctuary is a part of the Godavari estuary and has extensive mangrove and dry deciduous tropical forest.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: HEALTH, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. Polio vaccine contamination is a worry?

Larger Background:

  • It is important to note that since April 2016, all oral polio vaccines (OPV) across the world contain only two of the three polio serotypes — Type 1 and Type 3.

  • Type 2 is banned because the wild, disease-causing version of this virus was eradicated globally by 1999, and because OPV itself can cause polio in rare cases.

  • However, sometime in September, routine surveillance detected the Type 2 vaccine virus in stool samples from children in Uttar Pradesh, implying that someone was still making the vaccine. Further investigations revealed that the OPV, made by a Ghaziabad-based firm called Bio-Med, contained traces of the Type 2 vaccine virus.

Can a Vaccine cause the dreaded Polio?

Experts are of the belief that a vaccine can cause the dreaded polio disease.
It is important to note that there are two ways in which all three oral vaccine viruses can cause polio. These are as follows:

  1. The first one is called Vaccine Associated Paralytic Polio (VAPP). Here, in extremely rare cases, the vaccine virus mutates into a virulent version of itself, causing disease in the child who received the vaccine, or in a person who came in contact with the child. VAPP causes isolated cases and not outbreaks, because it doesn’t spread from person to person.

  2. The second way in which the vaccine can cause polio is through Circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Virus (cVDPV). In this case, the vaccine virus mutates into a virulent version, but spreads from person to person, causing outbreaks. For this to happen, though, the vaccine virus must circulate among people for at least around 12 months. During this transmission, the virus has a chance to mutate. This usually happens in communities where vaccination rates are low. cVDPV, too, is extremely rare.

Can contamination cause VAPP or cDVPV?

  • Experts suggest that the probability is small. “The risk is virtually zero, but not absolutely zero.”

  • For instance, the risk of VAPP is extremely low, in general.
    What lends further credence to this is an important statistic: A 2002 study in the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation estimated that India saw one case of VAPP for every 4.1-4.6 million OPV doses administered in 1999. This was the combined risk from all three serotypes. The risk from the Type 2 virus alone is even smaller.

  • Experts point out  that cVDPV, on the other hand, is a bigger worry, because the Type-2 vaccine virus is the most likely to turn cVDPV among all the three. However, for this to happen, two conditions must be fulfilled.

  1. Firstly, a large number of children must be unimmunised against Type-2.

  2. Secondly, the virus needs to circulate from person to person for several months.

  • It is important to note that the above two conditions don’t seem to be met in Uttar Pradesh. Even though India stopped giving children OPV Type 2 in 2016, it has been giving them the Inactivated Polio Vaccine, which also protects against the Type-2 polio. After news of the contamination, mop-up rounds to give IPV to any children who had missed it earlier were conducted. All this drastically reduces the chance that the vaccine virus will stick around in the environment for long enough to turn into cVDPV.

Concluding Remarks:

  • Experts suggest that the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation ought to trace the source of the contamination, which it hasn’t done yet.
    They further assert that unless this happens, we won’t know how to prevent incidents of larger contamination in future.

  • The two possible sources are Ghaziabad’s Bio-Med and PT Bio Farma, an Indonesian firm which supplied the vaccine raw material to Bio-Med and all other Indian OPV manufactures. Therefore, if Bio Farma was the source, the worry is bigger.

  • Secondly, Uttar Pradesh health authorities haven’t made it clear how widespread the contamination was. Early media reports said 1.5 lakh vials were contaminated.

  • Assuming 20 doses per vial, this is around 3 million doses. The previous calculations of low risk are based on this number. If a substantially larger number of doses was administered, the risk would grow.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. The lowdown on the crisis in Sri Lanka (India and the Neighbourhood; India- Sri Lanka Relations)

Larger Background:

A Brief Note on India- Sri Lanka Bilateral Relations:

  • The relationship between India and Sri Lanka is more than 2,500 years old. Both countries have a legacy of intellectual, cultural, religious and linguistic interaction. In recent years, the relationship has been marked by close contacts at all levels.
  • Trade and investment have grown and there is cooperation in the fields of development, education, culture and defence.
  • Both countries share a broad understanding on major issues of international interest.
  • In recent years, significant progress in implementation of developmental assistance projects for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and disadvantaged sections of the population in Sri Lanka has helped further cement the bonds of friendship between the two countries.

Political Relations:

  • President Maithripala Sirisena was elected as the new President of Sri Lanka in the presidential election held on 8 January, 2015.
  • He succeeded former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Following parliamentary elections on 17 August 2015, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe was reappointed as the Prime Minister by President Sirisena on 21 August 2015.

Commercial Relations:

  • Sri Lanka has long been a priority destination for direct investment from India. Sri Lanka is one of India’s largest trading partner in SAARC. India in turn is Sri Lanka’s largest trade partner globally.
  • India is among the top four investors in Sri Lanka with cumulative investments of over US$ 1 billion since 2003. The investments are in diverse areas including petroleum retail, IT, financial services, real estate, telecommunication, hospitality & tourism, banking and food processing (tea & fruit juices), metal industries, tires, cement, glass manufacturing, and infrastructure development (railway, power, water supply).

Developmental Cooperation:

  • The conclusion of the armed conflict saw the emergence of a major humanitarian challenge, with nearly 300,000 Tamil civilians housed in camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The Government of India put in place a robust programme of assistance to help the IDPs return to normal life as quickly as possible.
  • India also continues to assist a large number of smaller development projects in areas like education, health, transport connectivity, small and medium enterprise development and training in many parts of the country through its grant funding.
  • During the devastation of floods in the end of May 2017, India has responded immediately by sending three ships with relief materials including food supplies, water, inflatable boats, diving team and medical teams for flood relief efforts.

Cultural Relations:

  • The Cultural Cooperation Agreement signed by the Government of India and the Government of Sri Lanka on 29 November, 1977 at New Delhi forms the basis for periodic Cultural Exchange Programmes between the two countries.
  • India and Sri Lanka commemorated the 2600th year of the attainment of enlightenment by Lord Buddha (Sambuddhatva Jayanthi) through joint activities. These included the exposition of Sacred Kapilavastu Relics in Sri Lanka that took place in August – September 2012. During the exposition, approximately three million Sri Lankans (nearly 15 percent of the total population of Sri Lanka) paid homage to the Sacred Relics.
  • The India-Sri Lanka Foundation, set up in December 1998 as an intergovernmental initiative, also aims towards enhancement of scientific, technical, educational and cultural cooperation through civil society exchanges and enhancing contact between the younger generations of the two countries. Education is an important area of cooperation. India now offers about 290 scholarship slots annually to Sri Lankan students. In addition, under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Scheme and the Colombo Plan, India offers 370 slots annually to Sri Lankan nationals.

Fishermen issue:

  • Given the proximity of the territorial waters of both countries, especially in the Palk Straits and the Gulf of Mannar, incidents of straying of fishermen are common.
  • Both countries have agreed on certain practical arrangements to deal with the issue of bona fide fishermen of either side crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line.
  • Through these arrangements, it has been possible to deal with the issue of detention of fishermen in a humane manner. India and Sri Lanka have agreed to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries between the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare of India and Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development of Sri Lanka as the mechanism to help find a permanent solution to the fishermen issue and first meeting took place in December 2016 in New Delhi and second meeting in Colombo on April 07, 2017.
  • Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Shri Radha Mohan Singh visited Colombo on 2 January 2017 to participate in the Ministerial Meeting on Fishermen issue. The second meeting of the JWG was held during April 2017 in Colombo. The next round of Ministerial-level talks and JWG meetings were held during October 2017 at New Delhi.

Indian Community:

  • The People of Indian Origin (PIOs) comprise Sindhis, Borahs, Gujaratis, Memons, Parsis, Malayalis and Telugu speaking persons who have settled down in Sri Lanka (most of them after partition) and are engaged in various business ventures.
  • Though their numbers (10,000 approximately) are much lesser as compared to Indian Origin Tamils (IOTs), they are economically prosperous and are well placed.
  • Each of these communities has their organization which organizes festivals and cultural events.
  • According to unofficial statistics, it is estimated that around 14,000 Indian expatriates are living in Sri Lanka.
  • The IOTs are mostly employed in either tea or rubber plantations in Central, Uva and Sabragamuwa Provinces though during the last decade, the younger generation has been migrating to Colombo in search of employment.
  • A fair number of IOTs living in Colombo are engaged in business. According to Government census figures (2011), the population of IOTs is about 1.6 million.

The News:

  • Recently, Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa, his political rival until the day before, as the new Prime Minister.
  • Experts believe that this is a surprising move which Mr. Sirisena made in order to resolve a deepening political dispute between himself and Mr. Wickremesinghe.
  • However, this act has only pushed Sri Lanka into an unprecedented constitutional crisis, beginning a potentially dangerous phase of an on-going three-cornered power struggle among three leaders.
  • At the centre of the crisis is the lack of clarity as the new Prime Minister seems to have been appointed without a constitutionally valid vacancy for the position.

 

A Closer Look:

The crux of the constitutional dispute:

    • It is important to note that the constitutional provision that Mr. Sirisena has cited in the official letter to Mr. Wickremesinghe does not grant the President authority to remove a Prime Minister from office.
  • Section 42(4) of the Constitution merely enables the President to appoint a PM.
    • The President has taken the position that since he is the appointing authority, he also has the implicit power to sack the PM.
  • It is important to note that the PM is not a public servant who can be sacked by the appointing authority at his will. It is a constitutional office with protection from the executive. This is the crux of the constitutional dispute.
  • Experts point out that the entire operation of altering the composition of the government seems to have been executed in a great hurry and in secrecy.
  • Further, there is also a lack of clarity as to whether Mr. Sirisena’s letter (removing Mr. Wickremesinghe) had actually reached him by the time Mr. Rajapaksa was sworn in. This has led some commentators to call it a ‘constitutional coup’.

Position Adopted by Mr. Wickremesinghe:

    • The position by Mr. Wickremesinghe aggravates the seriousness of this constitutional dispute. Dismissing the constitutional validity of the presidential action, Mr. Wickremesinghe has argued that he still commands a majority in Parliament.
    • His line of argument is that only Parliament has the constitutionally sanctioned authority to decide whether he could continue in office as PM or not.
  • It also suggests that as long as there is no no-confidence motion passed in Parliament against him and the cabinet, his position as PM cannot be invalidated by the President at his will.
  • Mr. Wickremesinghe has also cited the fact of having defeated a no-trust motion brought against him a few months ago, and that situation, of Parliament’s majority expressing faith in him, remaining unaltered.

 

19th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution:

  • It is important to note that the 19th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution, passed in 2015 under the joint political leadership of both Mr. Sirisena and Mr. Wickremesinghe.
  • It curtailed powers of the President under the 1978 Constitution (the original) as well as the 18th Amendment passed in 2010. Among the presidential powers taken away by the 19th Amendment, which is valid, is the one pertaining to the President’s powers over the PM.
  • The 19th Amendment, which created a dual executive, made the PM’s position secure from the arbitrary actions of the President. Thus, the office of the PM falls vacant only under limited circumstances.

These circumstances include:

  1. Death,
  2. voluntary resignation,
  3. loss of support in Parliament,
  4. rejection by Parliament of the budget, and
  5. ceasing to be an MP are these circumstances. Sacking by the President is certainly not in this list.
  • By this change, the 19th Amendment has also restored the Westminster framework of relationship between the head of state, the PM, and Parliament.
    • All these make the constitutionality as well as democratic legitimacy of the actions of Mr. Sirisena less than clear.
    • An argument put forward on behalf of the President is that when the United People’s Freedom Alliance, which was a partner in the so-called unity government, informed the Speaker that it was leaving the ruling coalition, the cabinet automatically stood dissolved, thereby creating a vacancy for the office of the PM.
  • However, this is not an argument derived from any explicit provision of the Constitution. It is merely a political argument. What it does is no more than confirm that the composition of the coalition government was altered. It does not automatically lead to the loss of constitutional validity of the cabinet and the position of the person holding the office of the PM.

Areas which need clarity:

 

    • In Mr. Sirisena’s address to the nation, he did not clarify the constitutional issue at hand.
    • He cited political and personal reasons as to why he could not partner with Mr. Wickremesinghe as the PM.
    • However, his assertion that he acted fully in accordance with the Constitution is only a claim. It awaits clarification.
  • What is in dispute is not the total breakdown of relationship between the two leaders, leading to a collapse of their coalition. What is in doubt is the constitutionality of a series of actions by Mr. Sirisena.
  • Further, if the series of actions by Mr. Sirisena are valid at all, they set a bad precedence for future constitutional governance in Sri Lanka. It is believed that contrary to the letter and spirit of the 19th Amendment, no PM will be secure in his/her position against arbitrary dismissal by the President. These circumstances also warrant judicial intervention to resolve the constitutional doubt.

 

A Look at the Current Situation:

    • Currently, Mr. Wickremesinghe has refused the leave the office of PM as well as the official residence in Colombo.
    • Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has written to Mr. Sirisena demanding that the rights and privileges of Mr. Wickremesinghe be protected, “until any other person emerged from within Parliament as having secured the confidence of Parliament”.
  • The Speaker has implicitly acknowledged that Mr. Wickremesinghe is still the constitutionally legitimate PM.
  • The Parliament was prorogued by the President till November 16.
  • Mr. Wickremesinghe and the UNP have only limited options. They include:
  1. Testing his floor strength,
  2. bringing a motion against Mr. Rajapaksa, and
  3. political defiance.
  4. He can also go to the Supreme Court.
  • If the UNP does so, the Supreme Court, which has been on a path to regaining its institutional independence and autonomy, will be called upon to adjudicate over a very sensitive power struggle among top politicians. Thus, the days ahead could be a trying time for the judiciary as well.

 

Editorial Analysis:

  • Recently, President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved the Sri Lankan Parliament and called a snap general election for January 5, 2019.
  • The announcement came within hours of his party spokesman publicly admitting to lacking a majority in Parliament. Mr. Sirisena’s front was aiming for a majority to push its controversially installed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa through the legislature.
  • Resisting Mr. Sirisena’s move, Mr. Wickremesinghe maintained that he was the legitimate Prime Minister and challenged Mr. Rajapaksa to a vote in Parliament to test their claims to majority.
  • Mr. Sirisena had earlier suspended Parliament until November 16, 2018 possibly to muster strength for his front, but summoned the House for November 14, 2018 amid growing pressure.
  • Experts point out that both decisions of Mr. Sirisena, i.e.
    a) sacking Mr. Wickremesinghe and
  1. b) dissolving Parliament, have raised serious questions about constitutional validity.
  • As for the dismissal of Mr. Wickremesinghe, the 19th Amendment removed the President’s authority to arbitrarily sack his Prime Minister.

It is important to note that under the Constitution, the Prime Minister’s office does not fall vacant unless in circumstances of his death, voluntary resignation or loss of majority in a crucial vote in Parliament.

  • Further, since none of these is true in the current situation, a new appointment by the President is constitutionally ruled out.



Conflicting Interpretations of the Constitution?:

  • Some lawyers even point to a discrepancy between the English and Sinhala texts of the Constitution and claim the President, as per the Sinhala version, still has the power to remove a Prime Minister.
  • Other constitutional lawyers have argued that while there is a discrepancy in language and framing, the import and essence of the Sinhala text is consistent with that in English, especially when read along with the rest of the Constitution in Sinhala.
  • On the dissolution of Parliament, the President does not have the powers to dissolve Parliament within four-and-a-half years of its convening, unless requested by two-thirds of its members, as per the 19th Amendment.
  • The President’s side has invoked Article 33(2) C that lists the powers to summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament, in addition to his existing powers.
  • Nevertheless, critics have noted that while the Article is a general enumeration of his powers, it is the 19th Amendment’s specific provision that must prevail in such a situation.

Concluding Remarks

    • In conclusion, experts believe that the political flux over the past two weeks was the culmination of a bitter power struggle between Mr. Sirisena and Mr. Wickremesinghe within the ruling coalition.
    • The two leaders, from traditionally rival parties and with incompatible ideologies, had joined hands to form the government in 2015, ousting Mr. Rajapaksa.
    • Further, in about three-and-a-half years, they fell apart. Amid the pressure of a Rajapaksa comeback , Mr. Sirisena chose to side with him.
    • It is important to note that the conduct of elections will depend on the Election Commission’s position on the development and possible legal hurdles, since Mr. Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) has vowed to move the Supreme Court on the “illegal” dissolution of Parliament.
  • Also, from the time the 19th Amendment capped the Presidency at two terms, Mr. Rajapaksa has been eager to return as Prime Minister.
  • But he is now with Mr. Sirisena, who brings with him at least part of his unpopular coalition government’s incumbency. Mr. Wickremesinghe, on the other hand, is faced with a dual challenge. These challenges are as follows:
  1. some within his party have been demanding a new leader for some time,
  2. while those backing him are aware of his falling political stock amid a growing economic crisis.
  • Some experts also suggest that Mr. Wickremesinghe should realise that he is partly to blame for the political imbroglio.
  • His inability to establish a stable working relationship with the President to run the coalition government, casual disregard for the popular mandate he and Mr. Sirisena jointly won in 2015 for corruption-free governance and politics, lackadaisical attitude to constitutional reform and reconciliation, and gross neglect of popular demands for better economic governance have severely eroded his popular standing.
  • The biggest political irony is this. The collective failure of Mr. Sirisena and Mr. Wickremesinghe to be faithful to the 2015 mandate has now brought Mr. Rajapaksa back to power on the invitation of one party in a coalition which dislodged him from power.
  • It is believed that whatever turn the crisis may take, Sri Lanka’s fragile process of democratic recovery is in peril.

 

F. Tidbits

1. Groundwater depletion alarming in northwest, central India

 

  • Based on Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) data
  • Natural recharge during monsoon may not help much if groundwater depletion becomes acute, as rainfall of past years controls current storage
  • With 230 billion metre cube of groundwater drawn out each year for irrigating agriculture lands in India, many parts of the country are experiencing rapid depletion of groundwater. The total estimated groundwater depletion in India is in the range of 122–199 billion metre cube.
  • The Indo-Gangetic Plain, northwestern, central and western parts of India account for most intensive groundwater-based irrigation. And among these regions, western India and the Indo-Gangetic Plain have more than 90% of the area irrigated using groundwater.
  • “The tensiometer gives visual information about the availability of soil moisture conditions. Irrigating the field based on this information will help conserve groundwater,” says Prof. Kamal Vatta from the Columbia International Project Trust, New Delhi and co-author of the paper.
  • The tensiometer is 2–3 feet long and has a ceramic cup containing numerous tiny pores at the bottom. It is inserted up to 8 inches into the soil, which is beyond the root zone of rice. The water inside the tensiometer reaches equilibrium with soil moisture, and rises or falls depending on the amount of moisture in the soil.

G. Prelims Fact

1. National body set up to study rare form of diabetes

 

  • A National Monogenic Diabetes Study Group has been formed to identify cases of monogenic diabetes across the country. Supported by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF) and Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre (DMDSC) will be the national coordinating centre for the study group.

What is Monogenic Diabetes?

  • Monogenic diabetes is a group of disorders where mutation of a single gene causes diabetes; the three commonest forms being – Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY), Neonatal Diabetes Mellitus (NDM) and Congenital Hypoglycaemia.

What is diabetes?

  • Diabetes, often referred to by doctors as diabetes mellitus, describes a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both.
  • Some 420 million people around the world today suffer from diabetes, with the number expected to rise to 629 million by 2045, according to the International Diabetes Federation.

Currently, the disease is divided into two sub-types:

  • With type-1 — generally diagnosed in childhood and accounting for about 10% of cases — the body simply doesn’t make insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels.
  • For type-2, the body makes some insulin but not enough, which means glucose stays in the blood. This form of the disease correlates highly with obesity and can, over time, lead to blindness, kidney damage, and heart disease or stroke.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements related to Socio-economic Caste Census (SECC), 
please choose the correct one.
  1. SECC 2011 is the first paperless census in India.
  2. SECC takes caste into account for the first time since 2011.

Choose the right option:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only 
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 2. Consider the following statement regarding the Law commission of India.
 Choose the correct one.
  1. Law Commission of India is a statutory body.
  2. India’s first Law Commission was constituted via Charter Act of 1813.

Choose the right option:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only 
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following the statement regarding Rafale Fighters. 
Choose the correct one.
  1. Rafale is a twin-engine, multi-role fighter aircraft manufactured by Israel.
  2. These aircrafts is capable of carrying out all combat missions such as interception, air defence, in-depth strikes, ground support, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes including nuclear deterrence

Choose the right option:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only 
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. Zika-associated birth defects could be a serious public health crisis in India. Discuss (10 Marks; 150 words)
  2. The RBI suggests that its independence is being violated while the government rationalises its intervention in terms of its concern for the economy. What is your opinion on this (10 Marks; 150 words)

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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