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Daily Current affairs 20 January 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair


Virtual Autopsy: No cuts to body, no hurt feelings

The News

  • Forensic medicine team at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences is starting an experiment for virtual Autopsy.
  • The project will be funded by ICMR under its new initiative to select 10 projects for funding under ‘Centre for Advanced Research and Excellence program’.


About Autopsy (Post-Mortem)

  • Autopsy is the procedure to examine the external and internal organs of the deceased to assess the cause and manner of death by opening the body.
  • Post-mortem is essential in case of unnatural death like suicide, accident or murder, as it is an important part of police investigation to identify the cause and manner of death.
  • Most families don’t want it done because their grief of losing a family member aggravates when they have to look at the deceased’s dissected body after post-mortem.


About Virtual Autopsy

  • Virtual autopsy is examining the internal organs, tissues and bones in the dead body without touching it.
  • There will be no dissection of the body, no cuts and no opening.
  • In the process of virtual autopsy, the body is packed in a bag, which is then put through a CT scan machine and within seconds, thousands of images of the internal organs are captured, which are analysed further by forensic experts.




Significance of Virtual Autopsy

  • Intact body: As there is no dissection of the body in the virtual autopsy unlike the conventional autopsy, the body of the deceased remains intact.
  • Less time consuming: Autopsies through conventional methods takes between 30 minutes to three days, depending on the complexity of the case and the availability of experts, which is time consuming whereas in virtual autopsy, just in few seconds approximately 25000 images are taken.
  • Improved quality of assessment: In virtual Autopsy, internal bleeding, bullet paths, and hidden fractures can also be detected, that are hard to find in conventional autopsy.
  • Additional analysis: In virtual autopsy, the deceased’s records are available in digital format and thus it permits additional analysis by other forensic pathologists on the same body, even second or third opinion can be taken even after years if some allegations crop up in the future.
  • Improve investigation: This will also improve the investigation of the cases related to unnatural deaths.
  • Already proven method: It is an established practice in many western countries, for example Switzerland, USA and Australia are already using imaging techniques for Autopsy.

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Section : Science & Tech


Why the confusion over construction plan in Bandipur?

The News

  • While the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change have opposed the proposal to construct elevated roads over the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is pushing for its completion.



  • In order to fight the menace of man-animal conflict, the High Court of Karnataka had, in 2009, imposed a ban on night traffic through Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
  • The ban on night traffic has evoked opposition from Kerala on the grounds that the ban could affect economic growth.
  • While Kerala has been seeking lifting of the ban, Karnataka has resisted the move to lift the ban.
  • To resolve the dispute, the Supreme Court constituted a committee to examine the issue of lifting of night ban and suggest alternatives, if any to it.
  • Accordingly the committee had suggested the construction of elevated roads or flyover as an alternative to night traffic on Bandipur.


Recommendations of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways

  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has been pushing the state government for lifting of the night-traffic ban along with some improvisations.
  • The proposed improvisations include construction of elevated corridors along a 25km stretch of the highway within the forest area.
  • National Highway 212 (new no. 766) , passing through Bandipur and Wayanad, to be developed with five elevated sections of 1km length each, four in Bandipur sanctuary and one in Wayanad.
  • The portion underneath these elevated sections would be converted into continuous forest patch for free movement of wildlife
  • On stretches where the highway is not elevated, the plan is to install 8ft-high fence to restrict the entry of animals.


Case against Night Traffic ban

  • Kerala has been pushing for both lifting the night traffic ban and proposed elevated corridors.The reason cited is effect on economic growth.
  • Kerala is dependent on Karnataka for vegetables and fruits which are perishables and thus due importance should be given to transportation.
  • Also, if the forest roads are closed patients are put to hardship in case of medical and emergency needs especially in districts of Waynad and Ernakulum.



Case in favor of Night Traffic

  • According to NTCA after the introduction of the ban on night traffic through Bandipur, the number of accident deaths in the core zone has come down from 23 between 2004 and 2009 to 7 between 2010 and 2017.
  • The wild animals such as tigers, elephants, gaurs, and other animals had behaviourally adjusted to the restricted traffic at night time.
  • Besides such projects are prohibited in Eco-Sensitive Zones under Environment Protection Rules, 1986.
  • The Tiger Conservation Plan (TCP) for Bandipur under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 also had recommended night closure of highways passing through the tiger reserve.


Alternative Route

  • While MoRTH is pushing for elevated highway, the Karnataka State government has developed an alternative road that bypasses the core forest area.


About Bandipur Tiger Reserve

  • Bandipur Tiger Reserve spreads over nearly 912 sq km in Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka.
  • It constitutes an important component of a forest landscape comprising Nagarahole (Karnataka), Mudumalai and Sathyamangalam (Tamil Nadu) and Wayanad (Kerala).

  • As per NRCA data, the tiger reserve is home to nearly 120 to 150 tigers. It also supports nearly 1,600 elephants.
  • It is declared as Eco-Sensitize Zone under Environment Protection Rules, 1986.

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Section : Environment & Ecology


Demolish wall on elephant corridor: SC to Assam’s Numaligarh Refinery

The News

  • In a bid to protect elephants in Deopahar Reserve Forest, the Supreme Court has reiterated the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) direction to Numaligarh Refinery Ltd. to demolish the boundary wall erected on an elephant migration corridor.
  • The Deopahar Reserve Forest area is situated in Numaligarh, Golaghat district of Assam.



  • In 2011, the Numaligarh Refinery Ltd erected a wall on a hill close to the Deopahar reserve forest in Golaghat District to secure a residential complex for the refinery workers.
  • The Deopahar reserve forest falls in the ecologically sensitive elephant corridor.
  • Consequently the construction of the conflict wall had led to various deaths of elephants in the area.
  • This led to NGT in 2016 directing the refinery to demolish the wall.
  • The NGT also observed that the proposed township fell under the ‘No Development Zone’ of Kaziranga National Park.
  • Now the apex court while replying to appeal has reiterated the need to demolish the ‘conflict wall’.


Man-animal conflict in Deopahar Reserve Forest

  • Deopahar is a major corridor for the wild animals, particularly for the elephants, in close proximity to Kaziranga National Park (15-20 km).
  • The elephants use this corridor to move from the Karbi Hills to Dhansiri River for their water requirement.
  • According to a report by the Elephant Task Force of the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ Asian Elephants are under severe stress primarily because of loss of habitat.
  • Sole focus on Protected Areas is inadequate for the long term conservation of the species.
  • Fragmentation of the available habitats has confined most of the populations to smaller habitation islands.
  • As a result NGT directed Assam to take steps to notify Deopahar into a Reserved Forest under Section 17 of the Assam Forest Regulations 1891.


Elephant Corridors in India

  • Elephant corridors are essentially linear patches of natural vegetation that connect two habitats which is important for jumbo movement and to maintain a healthy population.
  • However, sprouting of roads, railway lines, electricity towers, canals, and human settlements in these corridors are forcing elephants to stray from their natural paths, causing conflict situations with disastrous results for both man and animal.
  • According to census of elephants (2017), there are 27, 312 elephants in India.
  • Karnataka (6,049) has the highest elephant population followed by Assam (5,719) and Kerala (3,054).
  • Currently 110 elephant corridors are identified in the country.
  • Wildlife Trust of India and MOEF’s Project Elephant has identified ‘
  • of passage’ in 101 elephant corridors and pressed for greater surveillance and protection of elephant corridors.




Man-animal conflict in General


  • Man-animal is defined as interaction between humans and wildlife where negative consequences, whether perceived or real, exists for both humans and animals when action of one has an adverse effect on the other.

Impact of Man-animal conflict

  1. Injury and loss of life of humans and wildlife
  2. Crop damage, livestock depredation, predation of managed wildlife stock.
  3. Damage to human property
  4. Trophic cascades
  5. Destruction of habitat
  6. Collapse of wildlife populations
  7. Reduction of geographic ranges


Man-animal conflict in India

  • Conflict-prone species include tiger, leopard, Asian elephants, sloth bear, Himalayan black bear, wild pig, nilgai and gray wolves.
  • In the Gir forests, livestock of Maldhari community is severely affected by Asiatic lion.
  • Snow leopard causes huge economic loss to the local communities through livestock predation in the Trans-Himalayan ecosystem.
  • Asiatic elephant is known to cause large scale damage to crops and human lives across its range in India
  • In north-east, the incidences of conflict have increased due to reduction of forest cover below 30-40%.
  • ‘Vermin’ or ungulate species including wild pig, nilgai, barking deer, spotted deer, and wild ass cause damage to both food crops and young shoots of other crops and plantations.


Reasons for Man-animal conflict

  • Growing human settlements has resulted in shrinking habitats of animals.
  • Changing land-use patterns
  • Wildlife corridors are being blocked by linear infrastructure projects like highways, railway tracks etc.
  • Degradation and fragmentation of wild habitats: A main reason for the increasing human-animal conflicts is the presence of a large number of animals and birds outside the notified protected areas.


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Section : Environment & Ecology


BP goes global with seismic imaging technology

The News

  • Recently, a new software i.e. Full Waveform Inversion (FWI) was used in the Gulf, which led to British Petroleum (BP) discovering the crude in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The company plans to expand the use of the technology to other big oil and gas basins, including Brazil and Angola.


About Full Waveform Inversion

  • Full Waveform Inversion (FWI) analyses reverberations of seismic sound waves to produce high-resolution 3D images of ancient layers of rock thousands of meters under the sea bed, helping geologists locate oil and gas.
  • It is run on a super-computer.
  • It is more accurate than previous surveying methods and processes data in a matter of days, compared with months or years previously.
  • 3D Seismic imaging uses sound waves to form three dimensional images of geologic formations.



  • Deep water exploration is a costly business known for its low success rate and high risk. So, it is a major leap forward for deepwater exploration.


Seismic waves for Oil and Natural gas exploration:

  • Seismic waves are the waves of energy caused by the sudden breaking of rock within the earth or an explosion.
  • They are the energy that travels through the earth and is recorded on seismographs, which is used to study earthquakes.
  • They are frequently used to search for oil and natural gas deep below Earth’s surface.
  • These waves of energy move through the Earth, just as sound waves move through the air.
  • In oil and gas exploration, seismic waves are sent deep into the Earth and allowed to bounce back.
  • Geophysicists record the waves to learn about oil and gas reservoirs located beneath Earth’s surface.



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Section : Economics


Government to throw open AMRIT stores to private franchisees

The News

  • Recently, the Union Health Ministry has decided to throw open AMRIT stores to private players in a bid to increase access to affordable drugs.


About the AMRIT scheme

  • AMRIT stands for Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment
  • Ministry: Union Health ministry
  • Aim: To provide affordable life-saving, cancer, cardiac drugs and medical disposables.
  • AMRIT stores sell branded drugs (not generic versions of drug). Also, the AMRIT store can only sell AMRIT medicines.


Need for AMRIT scheme

  • According to the WHO estimates of 2015, 8 per cent of the Indian population had been pushed below the poverty line by high out-of-pocket expenditure for health care.
  • The cost of medicines expenses of families are as much as 70 per cent of the total out-of-pocket expenditure.
  • In 2011, the report of the High Level Expert group (HLEG) of the erstwhile Planning Commission highlighted the limited protection offered by the government and the preponderance of private players in drug prescription and dispensing.


Significance of the recent step

  • Including the private players will increase access without putting in government funds for the establishment expenditure.


Other Important Initiatives of Government in Health Sector

  • Mission Indradhanush
  • National Health Mission Free Drug and Diagnostics Initiatives
  • Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Services Programme
  • The Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA)
  • Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS)
  • India Newborn Action Plan
  • Biomedical Equipment Management & Maintenance Program (BMMP)
  • MAA- Mother's Absolute Affection Programme
  • Kayakalp initiative
  • Jan Aushadhi Scheme was launched in 2008 to make available quality generic medicines at affordable prices to all, especially the poor, throughout the country, through outlets known as Jan Aushadhi Stores (JASs).
  • National Quality Assurance Programme: Quality Standards for District Hospitals, Community Health Centres, Primary Health Centres and Urban Primary Health Centres have been formulated.
  • New Mental Health Policy 2014: promoting mental health, by providing accessible, affordable and quality health and social care to all persons with mental illness.
  • Cartridge Based Nucleic Acid Amplification test (CB NAAT) specialized machines which enables accurate diagnosis of drug resistant TB within a few hours facilitating diagnosis and treatment of Drug Resistant TB have been set up in 628 districts.
  • E-governance system (SUGAM) has been introduced in CDSCO for online processing of applications, linking of CDSCO HQ with other offices, laboratories, and for maintenance of database to promote ease of doing business.
  • E-health initiatives such as Kilkari, Mobile Academy, ANM On Line (ANMOL), Mera Aspataal, e-hospital, e-rakthkosh, etc., have been rolled out.

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Section : Social Issues