Daily Current affairs 18 January 2019UPSC - Daily Current Affair
The Sentinelese people:
- The Sentinelese people are the world’s last known pre-Neolithic tribal group.
- These primitive tribals live on the remote, coral-fringed North Sentinel Island in the Andaman archipelago.
- The Sentinelese people are probably the most isolated of the world’s remaining remote tribes, and they are keen to stay that way.
- They shoot arrows to warn off anyone who approaches their island, and attack those who ignore their warnings.
Recent incident throws light on threats faced by the indigenous groups:
- The Sentinelese made headlines last year, after an American Christian missionary’s covert expedition to convert its residents, ended with him being killed.
- The episode has cast a spotlight on the threats faced by the world’s remote indigenous groups.
Sentinelese were once non-aggressive:
- Sentinelese were not always violent against the outsiders.
- When Europeans first made contact with the Sentinelese, the British naval commander Maurice Vidal Portman described them in 1899 as “painfully timid.”
The aboriginals turned aggressive after devastation by outsiders:
- But the profound shift as the tribes like the Sentinelese have learned to associate outsiders with the ghastly violence and deadly diseases brought by European colonization.
- In North Sentinel, the British forces raided and abducted the children and elderly who failed to flee into the forest.
- Portman used members of Andaman tribes as subjects in his supposed anthropometry research, measuring and photographing their bodies.
Just 4 tribes remaining in Andaman today:
- British colonial excesses whittled down the aboriginal population of the Andaman Islands, which includes North Sentinel Island, from more than two dozen tribes 150 years ago to just four today.
- The tribes that escaped genocide at the hands of the colonizers did so largely by fleeing to the most inaccessible parts of jungles.
After colonialism ended, independent countries protected isolated tribes:
- After the decimation of indigenous peoples under colonial rule, the countries where isolated tribes remain—including Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, India, and Peru—have pursued a “no contact” policy.
- It is illegal for outsiders to enter India’s tribal reserves.
- This policy is anchored in laws that protect indigenous people’s rights to ancestral lands and to live in seclusion.
- It is reinforced by an international convention obligating governments to protect these communities’ lands, identities, penal customs, and ways of life.
- Threats from those trying to contact them:
- But the threat to the Sentinelese people— and, indeed, all isolated tribes—is far from neutralized, as seen by the recent incident of a missionary's death in Andamans.
- Despite it being illegal for outsiders to enter India’s tribal reserves, a Christian missionary dodged local laws and security to make forays into North Sentinel over three days.
- The Sentinelese killed him only after he ignored repeated warnings.
Should policies protecting isolated tribes be reversed?
- Some have taken the recent incident in the Andamans as an opportunity to argue that the policies protecting isolated tribes should be reversed.
- Some advocate this change with good intentions—to provide access to modern technology, education, health care etc.
- Others do it to exploit their lands.
- For example, Brazil’s new President has threatened to repeal constitutional safeguards for aboriginal lands in order to expand developers’ access to the Amazon rainforest.
Connecting with them will only further devastate them:
- Whatever the motivation, connecting with remote tribes would amount to a death sentence for them.
- History so far makes it clear:
- The first waves of European colonization caused a calamitous depopulation of indigenous societies through violence and the introduction of infectious diseases, like smallpox and measles. The natives had no immunity to such diseases are died in large numbers.
- Case of Brazil:
- In Brazil, three-quarters of the indigenous societies that opened up to the outside world have become extinct, with the rest suffering catastrophic population declines.
- In the Andaman chain, of the four tribes that survive, the two that were forcibly assimilated by the British have become dependent on government aid and are close to vanishing.
- Indigenous communities’ combined share of the world population is now at just 4.5%.
They may vanish completely one day:
- Leaving secluded tribes alone is no guarantee that they will survive.
- These highly inbred groups are already seeing their numbers dwindle, and face the specter of dying out completely.
- But they will probably die faster if we suddenly contact them.
The significance of these tribes
- They safeguard the environment:
- With their reverence for—and understanding of—nature, such groups serve as the world’s environmental sentinels.
- They safeguard 80% of global diversity and playing a critical role in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
- When the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami struck, more than a quarter-million people died across 14 countries, but the two isolated Andaman tribes, which rely on traditional warning systems, suffered no known casualties.
- Indigenous societies safeguard their forests zealously but are losing out to loggers, miners, crop planters and other interlopers. In the last 12 years alone, according to satellite data, Brazil’s Amazon Basin has lost forest cover equivalent in size to the entire country of Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Add to diversity:
- Indigenous people are an essential element of cultural diversity and ecological harmony.
- Important for studying evolutionary history:
- They are also a biological treasure for scientists seeking to reconstruct evolutionary and migratory histories.
Need to let them live in peace:
- The aboriginal tribes might be isolated, but their demise will have serious consequences to environment and human diversity.
- The least the world can do is to let them live in peace in the ancestral lands that they have honoured and preserved for centuries.
GS Paper II: Social Issues
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Section : Editorial Analysis
Why in news?
- Recently, the Delhi High Court stayed the Measles Rubella(MR) Vaccination Campaign of the Delhi Government, which mandated compulsory vaccination on children even without consent of their parents or guardians.
- Delhi Government on 19 December 2018, directed to all schools across Delhi and NCR region to compulsorily conduct the vaccination program on children between the age of 9 months to 15 years at their premises on different dates starting 16th January 2019.
- A petition was filed by six children through their parents, challenging the direction issued by the Delhi Government.
- According to the petitioners the Delhi Government's direction is contrary to the instructions of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which stated that the vaccine would not be forcibly injected into the children without informed consent of parents.
- Thus, Delhi High Court has stopped the implementation of the ‘Measles and Rubella Vaccine Immunization Campaign’ by the Delhi government on January 15, 2019.
- Measles is a highly contagious virus, spread by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing.
- Measles weakens the immune system and lead to secondary health problems, such as pneumonia, blindness, diarrhea, and encephalitis.
- The symptoms include a high fever, severe skin rash and cough.
- Being immune means someone has been vaccinated or has previously contracted the disease
- The disease is preventable through two doses of MR vaccine.
- There are two types of measles:
- Measles: This is the standard form caused by the rubeola virus.
- Rubella, or German measles: This is caused by the rubella virus.
- Rubella is a mild viral infection, which in an unprotected pregnant woman during her first trimester of pregnancy can cause abortion, stillbirth or a set of serious birth defects knows as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS)
- CRS often results in multiple birth defects including as heart problems, deafness and blindness.
- It is neither as infectious nor as severe as standard measles.
- There is no specific treatment for rubella and the disease can be only prevented through immunization.
Vaccination: The Measles-rubella (MR) vaccine
- MR vaccine is a live attenuated vaccine for both measles and rubella.
- It is safe and effective and provides long-term immunity for both diseases (mostly lifelong)
- Despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine since the 1960s, both measles and rubella are major public health concerns in the country.
- In India, more than 1.3 million children acquire measles infection and around 49 000 infected children die each year, contributing nearly 36% to the global figures.
- Rubella infection in pregnant women leads to the development of birth defects in almost 40 000 children annually in the country.
Measles Rubella Campaign
- India, along with ten other WHO South-East Asia Region member countries, has resolved to eliminate measles and control rubella/congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) by 2020.
- To take this agenda forward, Rubella vaccine in its universal immunisation programme (UIP) as Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccine in the age group of 9 months to less than 15 years in a phased manner across the nation.
- Aim: To rapidly build up immunity for both measles and rubella diseases in the community so as to knock out the disease.
Section : Social Issues
- The introduction of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, has sparked the protests across the N.E.
The Citizenship Bill, 2016: In Brief
- The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 by selectively relaxing the eligibility rules for immigrants in getting Indian citizenship
- Persons belonging to minority communities, that is, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan shall not be treated as illegal immigrants.
- It relaxes the residence requirement for immigrants in getting Indian citizenship from 11 years to six years.
- The cutoff for citizenship has now become December 31, 2014.
- OCI card holders are susceptible to lose their status if they violate any laws of the country.
Reasons for the protests:
- Change in Demography: There will be change in demography because of the migration and inclusion of new people, which is considered as a threat to the cultural and linguistic identity of the people of Assam. This could also lead to loss of their political rights.
- Negates Assam Accord and NRC: The Assam Accord and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) set March 25, 1971 as the cutoff for citizenship, irrespective of religion. To be included as citizens, applicants need to prove that they (or their ancestors) were present in Assam before that date.
- Religious discrimination: The Bill proposes to grant citizenship on the basis of religion, which is said to be unconstitutional.
- All NE states (Tripura partially) have been opposing the bill.
- Mizoram is concerned that Buddhist Chakmas from Bangladesh may take advantage of the law
- Meghalaya and Nagaland are apprehensive of influx of Bengali migrants
- Arunachal Pradesh fears that the law would favour and benefit the Chakma, Hajongs and the Tibetans
- Not much impact on demography: As per the government, the Bill is not just for Assam and the Northeast, but for the entire country. The regularized immigrants would not be settled in Assam alone but be distributed among various states.
- The cut-off date of 31 December, 2014 has been intended to determine eligibility and prevent further influx into India, negating thereby the possible malafide design of the vested interests in the neighbouring countries.
- Not against Assam Accord: The proposed provision to exempt persons belonging to certain minority communities coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan has general application beyond the Assam Accord and is intended to apply to the whole of India.
- The government should take necessary steps to assure that the rights ad socio-cultural identity of indigenous people are not affected.
- The Bill should be seen as positive step to address the plight of persecuted minorities who had no other option aside from coming to India illegally.
- Also, the government should formulate policies and take appropriate measures to provide education, employment and a decent living to the concerned migrants.
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Section : Polity & Governance
- According to a report by Lung Care Foundation, Delhi air is heavily contaminated with 3 toxic heavy metals that can cause brain damage.
- The study named 'Death in Every Breath' has reported details of samples of air taken from Delhi and Gurugram in November and December 2018.
- The sample study has revealed the presence of alarming levels of toxic heavy metals such as manganese, nickel, barium and lead, in addition to excess PM2.5.
- The contaminated air samples were taken mainly near construction sites which has alarming levels of toxic metals.
Heavy Metal Pollution levels
- India has not set standards for manganese in the ambient air.
- However the study has shown manganese level at much higher than WHO-prescribed concentration of 0.15 µg/m3.
- Lead levels also exceed the National Ambient Air Quality Standard benchmark 0.05 µg/m3.
- Nickel levels in all samples also exceed the WHO-prescribed benchmark of 0.0025 µg/m3.
- India sees an upsurge in barium levels especially during Diwali as Barium nitrate is used for light emitting crackers.
About Heavy-Metals contamination
- Heavy metals are metallic elements with an atomic number greater than 20.
- They are trace elements having a density at least five times that of water.
- Some of these elements are necessary for growth, development and functioning of living organisms
- These include Copper, zinc, chromium, iron etc.
- Those which are unnecessary include cadmium, lead, mercury.
- However, beyond a certain limit all of them are toxic for plants, animals and humans.
- These elements penetrate the body by inhalation, ingestion and skin absorption.
- If heavy metals accumulate in body tissues faster than the body’s detoxification a gradual build-up of these toxins occurs.
- Vegetables provide the trace elements and heavy metals.
- Minor or trace elements are essential for good health if they come from an organic or plant source.
- In contrast, if they come from an inorganic or metallic source, they become toxic.
- Vegetables and fruits accumulate higher amounts of heavy metals because they absorb these metals in their leaves.
Effects of heavy metals in food
- cardiovascular, kidney, nervous, bone diseases,
- decreasing immunological defences,
- intrauterine growth retardation,
- impaired psychosocial faculties,
- disabilities associated with malnutrition
- upper gastrointestinal cancer
Effects of heavy metals in air
- Manganese, lead and nickel are neurotoxins that damage the brain.
- Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of lead.
- Exposures to even low levels of lead early in life have been linked to effects on IQ, learning, memory and behavior.
- Toxic metals are responsible for rising cases of brain strokes among youngsters in the city.
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Section : Environment & Ecology
- Punjab has recently witnessed an acute upsurge in Swine Flu with 60 out of 40 being positively tested in 2019 alone.
Upsurge in H1N1 cases
- With the onset of winter, India has reported nearly 1,700 cases of swine flu (Influenza A H1N1) with 49 deaths till January 13 this year.
- Rajasthan is the worst affected with nearly 800 cases and 31 deaths in the first two weeks of 2019.
- Gujarat, Delhi, Haryana and Punjab are the other affected states with high number of cases.
- In 2018, India witnessed about 15,000 confirmed cases with about 1,100 deaths.
About Swine Flu
- Swine influenza is a highly contagious acute respiratory disease of pigs caused by one of the several strains of swine influenza A.
- It's called swine flu because in the past, the people who caught it had direct contact with pigs, like hog farmers and veterinarians. That changed several years ago, when a new virus emerged that spread among people who hadn't been near pigs.
- In 2009, scientists recognized a particular strain of flu virus known as H1N1 which caused human respiratory infection.
- It was declared a global pandemic by WHO in 2009 after influenza A virus being responsible for a major outbreak.
- Spread of influenza happens through coughing or sneezing and people touching something with the virus on it and then touching their own nose or mouth.
- Pregnant women, the elderly, children and those suffering from respiratory problems like emphysema are the most vulnerable groups.
- It should be noted that the virus is not transmitted through food.
Symptoms and effects
- In humans, the symptoms of swine flu are chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness, and general discomfort.
- Worsening of chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma
- Neurological signs and symptoms, ranging from confusion to seizures
- Respiratory failure
Swine Flu in India
- Northern parts of India witness an upsurge in the number of flu cases in January, while in southern parts around February-March.
- India being crowded and cold and dry in winters offers conducive weather conditions for the virus to survive longer and spread unchecked.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu vaccination for all people older than 6 months of age.
- Further the treatment is mostly symptomatic with antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza prescribed to reduce the severity of symptoms.
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Section : Social Issues
- Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is soon to launch a satellite for exclusive use of Ministry of Home affairs to help it manage borders more effectively.
- The Home Ministry had set up a task force headed by Joint Secretary (Border Management) to recommend areas for use of Space Technology in improving Border Management.
- The Task force, having members from the BSF, the Department of Space and BM division of the Home Ministry, consulted all stakeholders including border guarding forces, the ISRO, National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) and the Ministry of Defence to finalise the report and submitted it to the home ministry.
- Now, the Home Minister has approved the report submitted by that Task force.
Highlights of the news
- The Union home minister has now approved the taskforce's report on border management.
- The report identifies following key areas in border management for the use of space technology-
- Island development
- Border security
- Communication and navigation
- GIS and operations planning system
- Border infrastructure development
- To execute/implement the recommendations timely, it has proposed short, medium and long-term plans over five years, in close coordination with ISRO and defence ministry.
- Short term plan
- Immediate needs of border guarding forces will be met by procurement of high resolution imagery and hiring of bandwidth for communications.
- Medium term plan
- One satellite will be launched by ISRO for exclusive use of MHA to help it manage borders more effectively.
- Long term plan
- Home ministry will develop ground segment and network infrastructure to share satellite resources by user agencies.
- It will develop a Central Archival Facility for storing various imagery resources and dissemination of the same to user agencies.
- BSF has been designated as the lead agency for implementation of ground segment and network infrastructure including the establishment of Archival Facility.
- Satellite communications will also guide deployment of central paramilitary forces in remote and difficult areas.
- Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS)-based GPS will provide navigation facilities for operational parties in high altitude, remote/difficult borders and Naxal areas.
- The department of space will assist the home ministry in implementing the project.
Significance of the project
- It will strengthen island and border security.
- It will facilitate the development of infrastructure in border/island areas.
Section : Defence & Security