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Daily Current affairs 08 February 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

 

The Dard Aryans of Ladakh: who are this tribe, what are their concerns?

The News

  • Thirty Dard Aryans of Leh Ladakh visited Delhi to attend a seminar that discussed the need to preserve their legacy.

 

About the Dard Aryans

  • The Buddhist Dard Tribes inhabit the villages of Dha, Hanu, Garkone and Darchik on both sides of the Indus River in Leh-ladakh region.
  • These villages are together called the “Aryan valley”.
  • History
    • The word ‘Dard’ here is derived from a Sanskrit word, ‘Daradas’, which means people who live on hillsides.
    • People of this region are culturally and linguistically different from those in other parts of Ladakh. Their festivals are based on the solar calendar.
    • They do not document their history but according to some researchers, the “Aryans of Ladakh” or the “Brokpas” might have descended from soldiers in Alexander’s army who had come to the region over 2,000 years ago.
  • Economy
    • These tribals are mainly dependent on agriculture. They rear goat and sheep for milk and meat.
    • The apricots grown in their region are considered among the best in the world.

 

Summary of the news

  • There are only 4,000 of Dard Aryans left in the world and some of them visited Delhi to take part in a seminar that discussed the need to preserve their legacy.
  • They spoke about their struggle to preserve their legacy, as they perceived a threat to their culture resulting from modernisation and migration.
  • They also expressed concern over lack of development and education and livelihood resources.
  • Their delegation submitted their charter of demands to Minister of State for Tribal Affairs, seeking government intervention.

 

The demands of the Dard Aryans

  • Education and livelihood: They have demanded that the government set up a tribal hostel in their villages and declare the “Aryan valley” a heritage village to boost tourism.
  • Dardi Post: A Dardi post should be filled at J K Art, Culture and Language Academy in Kargil.
  • Study centre: A regional Study Centre for Dardi Tradition and a Cluster Model Village to boost the cultural heritage of the Dard Aryans.
  • Special status: The tribe is already part of the Scheduled Tribes list, but to sustain them they demanded special status and help for making them self-sufficient.

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Section : Social Issues

 

NGOs call for funds to eliminate tuberculosis

The News

  • NGOs working to eliminate TB have urged the government to step up funding and implementation of the National Strategic Plan for TB Elimination 2017-2025.

Background

  • In March 2018, India launched the TB Free India Campaign in the historic ‘Delhi End TB Summit' and committed to eliminate Tuberculosis by 2025 much ahead of the world target of 2030 set under SDG Framework.
  • Prior to this, in 2017, India had prepared a strategic framework under National Strategic Plan for TB Elimination 2017-25 based on ‘End TB Strategy’ of WHO and SDG of UN.
    • It is a guidelines framework for the activities of various stakeholders working towards to TB elimination in India.

 

About Tuberculosis

  • Tuberculosis is an airborne bacterial disease caused by the slow growing bacteria bacillus Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
  • Since they grow best in areas of the body with high amount of oxygen and blood, it typically affects the lungs (80% - pulmonary TB).
  • TB is a communicable disease that is transmitted through coughing, sneezing or spiting.
  • High-risk people include those infected with HIV, suffering from under-nutrition (weak immunity), diabetes (weak immunity), smoking (weak lungs) and alcohol consumption.

Prevention and Treatment

  • The BCG vaccine is widely administered among children to prevent severe forms of TB However, there is currently no vaccine that is effective in preventing TB disease in adults
  • Early diagnosis is extremely important in fighting TB.
  • DOTS strategy (Directly observed Treatment Short Course) is globally a recognized cost effective strategy to reduce the disease burden of TB.
  • Currently, Bedaquiline and Delaminid are the new-generation drugs, recommended by the WHO for Drug Resistant-TB patients.

 

TB incidence in India

  • India tops the list of TB high burden countries in the world
  • According to WHO’s Global TB Report 2017, out of the 10.4 Million global TB incidences, about 27% occurred in India in 2016 killing almost 4.2 lakh Indians.
  • The number of deaths per lakh population due to TB is 217 in India.

 

Eradicating TB in India

  • National TB Control Programme is ongoing since 1962 which has not performed upto the mark.
  • Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) was adopted in 1997 after WHO declared TB as the global epidemic in 1993.
  • Under RNTCP, about 4 lakh DOTS centres have been established so far.
  • Objectives of RNTCP:
    • To achieve and maintain a TB treatment success rate of at least 85% among new sputum positive patients.
    • To achieve and maintain detection of atleast 70% of the new sputum positive patients.

 

National Strategic Plan for TB Elimination 2017-2025

  • India adopted the National Strategic Plan for TB Elimination based on TB Elimination Strategy of WHO and SDG of UN.
  • The National Strategic Plan is built over 4 strategic pillars of "Detect – Treat – Prevent – Build".
  • It aims to eliminate TB in India by 2025.
  • Specific targets compared to 2015 include
  • 80% reduction in TB incidence
  • 90% reduction in TB mortality
  • 0% patient having catastrophic expenditure due to TB.

Strategy

  • Stepping up RNTCP
  • Supply of quality Anti TB Drugs through NIKSHAY Portal
  • Active engagement of private sector in early diagnosis and treatment
  • ‘Medicine till end’ and ‘nutrition till end’ strategy
  • Strong surveillance and quality improvement systems backed by IT to improve the effectiveness of interventions.

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Section : Social Issues

 

India jumps 8 places to 36th on International IP Index

The News

  • In the latest edition of the International IP Index, India’s rank moved up to 36 among 50 economies - jumping eight places - as against 44 in 2018.

What is Intellectual Property?

  • Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.
  • IP is protected in law by patents, copyright and trademarks etc., which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create.

 

About International IP Index

  • The index analyses the Intellectual Property climate in 50 global economies, covering over 90% of global GDP.
  • The index is brought out by the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC).
  • It ranks countries based on 45 indicators that are critical to an innovation-led economy supported by robust patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secrets protection.
  • The International IP Index provides an IP report card for the world and a blueprint for policy-makers in countries like India that wish to bolster economic growth and jobs, innovation, and creativity.

 

International IP Index (2019)

  • The US, the UK, Sweden, France and Germany remained the top five economies on the intellectual property index in 2019 retaining their spots from the last year.
  • India's Performance
    • This year India ranked 36th of 50 economies , a jump from 44th of 45 economies in 2018.
    • India's overall score has also increased substantially from the present edition. For the second year in a row, India's score represents the largest gain of any country measured on the Index.
    • The improvement reflects important reforms implemented by Indian policymakers towards building and sustaining an innovation ecosystem for domestic entrepreneurs and foreign investors alike.

 

Steps taken by India to improve its IP environment:

  • The 2017 Guidelines on the Examination of Computer-Related Inventions significantly improved the patentability environment for technological innovations.
  • The government created IP awareness workshops and technical training programs for enforcement agencies, implementing key deliverables of 2016 National IPR Policy.
  • Improving the protection of well-known trademarks.
  • Accession to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Internet Treaties, which shows India's recognition of International standards of copyright protection.
  • The agreement to initiate a Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) with international offices
  • Generous R&D and IP based incentives for small business and administrative reforms to address the patent backlog

 

Hurdles identifies in India's IP protection environment:

  • Barriers to licensing
  • Strict registration requirements
  • Limited framework for the protection of bio-pharmaceutical IP rights
  • Long pendency times in the Indian court system
  • Patentability requirements outside international standards
  • Lengthy pre-grant opposition proceedings
  • Previously used compulsory licensing for commercial and non-emergency situations

 

Way ahead:

  • Recognition of international standards of copyright protection and incentives for intellectual property have helped India improve its IP index rank.
  • If it can overcome the serious challenges that remain, including with regard to patent eligibility and enforcement, it can build a robust innovation-led growth model for other countries to follow.

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Section : Economics

 

RBI rate cut likely to spur growth hopes

Why in news?

  • In February, 2019, the RBI's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has cut the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.25% and changed its stance from 'calibrated tightening' to 'neutral'.

 

Some important terms:

  • Calibrated Tightening in monetary policy: It is uncertainty of stable rate, as well as probability of rate to go high /forward with no other option.
  • Neutral in monetary policy: It is an assurance of stable interest rate with no hike in interest rate in near future, with the control on inflation as projected. It is a sign of confidence given to the banks and borrowers etc. about the stable situation and intended to encourage their loans and advances.
  • Repo Rate: The rate at which the RBI lends money to commercial banks is called repo rate. It is an instrument of monetary policy. Whenever banks have any shortage of funds they can borrow from the RBI.
  • Reverse repo rate: It is the rate at which the Reserve Bank of India borrows money from commercial banks within the country.
  • Marginal Cost of funds based Lending Rates (MCLR): Minimum interest rate that a bank will charge on the loan; it cannot lend below this rate, except in some cases allowed by the RBI. It is an internal benchmark or reference rate for the bank. (It is modification from April 2016 of earlier base rate system.)

 

Key Highlights of the RBI's Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement:

  • Repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) has been reduced by 25 basis points to 6.25%.
  • Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF stands adjusted to 6.0 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate to 6.5 per cent.
  • Cash Reserve Ratio held constant at 4%
  • The MPC has changed the Monetary Policy stance from 'calibrated tightening' to 'neutral'.

 

Impact of reduction in Repo rate:

  • With the RBI lowering the repo rate, it is likely that banks will follow suit and reduce their MCLR. This may lead to increase in money supply in the country.
  • Decrease in MCLR may have a direct impact (lead to decrease) in amount of Equated Monthly Installment (EMI)that customers pay for their loans.
  • The transmission of this rate cut should reduce the borrowing costs of retail borrowers, MSMEs and corporates, thereby boosting both private capital expenditure and private consumption.
  • Increase in consumption will help in achieving the interim budget’s objective of stimulating private consumption and housing demand.
  • Decrease in Repo rate may increase demand of goods, which in turn may lead to increase in Inflation.
  • Increased borrowing results in higher consumption demand which will lead to economic growth and will lead to increase in GDP growth  for the short term.

 

What is Monetary Policy?

  • Monetary policy is the macroeconomic policy laid down by the central bank.
  • It is a set of economic policies that manages the size and growth rate of the money supply in an economy and regulates macroeconomic variables such as inflation and unemployment.
  • Monetary policies are implemented through different tools, including the adjustment of the interest rates, purchase or sale of government securities, and changing the amount of cash circulating in the economy.
  • In India, monetary policy of the Reserve Bank of India is aimed at managing inflation, the quantity of money in order to meet the requirements of different sectors of the economy and to increase the pace of economic growth.

 

About Monetary Policy Committee in India

  • On the recommendation of Urjit Patel Committee, Monetary Policy Committee was created in 2016 to bring transparency and accountability in fixing India's Monetary Policy.
  • The Monetary Policy Committee of India is responsible for fixing the benchmark interest rate in India, which was earlier decided by the Governor of Reserve Bank of India alone prior to the establishment of the committee.
  • Composition:
    • Three officials of the Reserve Bank of India (Governor of RBI: chairperson ex officio)
    • Three external members nominated by the Government of India
  • Decision: On the basis of majority, with Governor having the casting vote in case of a tie.
  • Meeting: At least 4 times a year and it publishes its decisions after each such meeting.
  • The current mandate of the committee is to maintain 4% annual inflation until March 31, 2021 with an upper tolerance of 6% and a lower tolerance of 2%, while supporting growth.
  • The committee is answerable to the Government of India if the inflation exceeds the range prescribed for three consecutive months

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Section : Economics

 

India to get ‘flying Oval Office’ with rocket shield

The News

  • India is all set to its own version of ‘flying Oval Office’ with advanced self-protection suites.
  • Air Force One or Flying Oval Office as it is called, is the most famous aircraft that the US President travels in.

Desi Air Force One

  • India will get its own version of Air Force One to ferry the President and Prime Minister on long-haul flights.
  • The Indian version, soon-to-be “Air India One” or “Indian Air Force One”, will be a Boeing 777 aircraft retrofitted with some of the world’s most advanced security features, on par with US President's plane.

 

LAIRCM self-protection suites:

  • On India’s request, the US state department has now approved the sale of two B777 large aircraft infrared countermeasures (LAIRCM) self-protection suites (SPS) to India.
  • The aim of the LAIRCM programme is to protect large aircraft from man-portable or shoulder-fired missiles.
  • It can protect from an infrared missile attack by automatically detecting a missile launch, determining if it is a threat, and activating a high-intensity countermeasure system to track and defeat the threat.
  • LAIRCM consists of missile warning sensors (MWS), a laser transmitter assembly, control interface unit (CIU) and processors to detect, track, jam and counter incoming infrared missiles.
  • Components:
    • It has “radar warning receivers” which basically sound an alert if a hostile radar identifies the aircraft.
    • Advanced electronic counter-measures on board the aircraft will be able to jam enemy radars.
    • The LAIRCM suite directs an infrared beam onto the incoming missile’s infrared seeker.
    • Then the advanced electronics in the aircraft activates various jamming algorithms in order to divert the path of the incoming missile.

 

Communication systems:

  • The advanced encrypted satellite communication centre on board the aircraft is shielded from electromagnetic interference from nuclear explosions.

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Section : Defence & Security

 

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