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Daily Current affairs 21 July 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

 

SL. NO.

TOPICS

THE HINDU

PAGE NO.

1

Colistin banned in animal food industry

09

1

How will India contribute to LIGO?

14

3

Whither House panels?

14

4

What are the advantages blockchain offers?

14

5

EVMS   

09


 

Title

Colistin banned in animal food industry (The Hindu Page 09)

Syllabus 

Mains GS paper III: Science 

Theme

Colistin ban 

Highlights

Context: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued an order prohibiting the manufacture, sale and distribution of colistin and its formulations for food-

producing animals, poultry, aqua farming and animal feed supplements.

 

  • The order directed manufacturers of colistin and its formulations (since it is also used to treat humans) to affix a label on the container reading thus: Not to be used in food producing animals, poultry, aqua farming and animal feed supplements: on the package, insert and promotional literature

  •  It is a critical antibiotic used to treat severe forms of bacterial infection.

 

Importance of colistin?

  • Colistin is listed as a highest priority critically important antibiotic (HPCIA) in the WHO’s list of critically important antimicrobials for human medicine. Being an HPCIA implies that colistin is the sole or one of limited available therapies to treat serious bacterial infections in people.

  • Colistin is the last resort drug against multidrug resistant gram-negative infections such as pneumonia and bacteraemia in critically ill patients in intensive care units

  • When colistin fails, doctors are left with the limited option of using fosfomycin that costs nearly Rs 24,000 per day. This is very expensive and hence would be unaffordable to many patients. Lives would be lost due to colistin-resistance if it is not timely contained.

  • Recently WHO released AWaRe, an online tool aimed to ensure safer antibiotic use and reduce antimicrobial resistance (AMR). As part of this, colistin has been marked ‘Reserved’, meaning it should only be used as a last resort when all other antibiotics have failed.

  •  Indian National Action Plan on AMR also aims to restrict and phase out non- therapeutic use of antimicrobials such as their use as growth promoters and disease prevention in animals. 

 

Why banned?

  • Apart from its therapeutic use, it is used for non-therapeutic purposes in animals.

  •  It is used for growth promotion (for example fattening of broiler poultry in less time and with less feed) as well as for preventing diseases in healthy animals.

  •  Its excessive use in poultry has led to development of colistin resistant bacteria.

  • Research has found Colistin-resistant bacteria in food samples in India in meat, mutton, fish, fruits and vegetables in 2018. Indiscriminate colistin use by several companies such as Venky’s for raising poultry in India was also reported by an international news agency.

  • Hence if we can cut the use of colistin as a growth factor in animals and limit it to therapeutic usage only, the chances of developing resistance to it goes down.

 

Conclusion

  • Colistin can save human lives and its efficacy needs to be preserved. Its use as a growth promoter in food animals must not be allowed and India has taken a right step banning it.

  • However, to ensure proper implementation, it is needed to conduct awareness programmes for farmers, telling them about the danger of using colistin in feed. Most are not aware of the presence of colistin, since it comes mixed in the feed.

  •  Further since the bulk of colistin (nearly 95%) is imported from China, it would also be easy to stop importing it within a short time.

 

Title

How will India contribute to LIGO? (The Hindu -Page.14)

Syllabus 

Prelims: Science 

Mains GS paper III: science  

Theme

LIGO Project   

Highlights

BACKGROUND 

  • On September 14, 2015, the two LIGO detectors in the U.S., at Livingston in Louisiana, and Hanford in Washington, registered a disturbance that was due to gravitational waves travelling outwards from a point 1.3 billion light years away from the earth.

  • At this point, two massive black had merged to give off gravitational wave disturbances.

  • Following the 2015 detection, the two LIGO detectors detected seven such binary black hole merger events. They were joined by the European Virgo detector in 2017.

  •  In collaboration with LIGO, a gravitational wave detector is being set up in India.

  • The LIGO India project also known as IndIGO (Indian Initiative in Gravitational-wave Observations) is expected to join the international network in a first science run in 2025.

 

What are the LIGO detectors?

  • The acronym LIGO stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.

  •  It consists of a pair of huge interferometers.

  • Interferometers are investigative tools and work by merging two or more sources of light to create an interference pattern, which can be measured and analyzed. They are often used to make very small measurements that are not achievable any other way. This is why they are so powerful for detecting gravitational waves--LIGO interferometers are designed to measure a distance 1/10,000 th  the width of a proton.

  • Remarkable precision is needed to detect a signal as faint as a gravitational wave, and the two LIGO detectors work as one unit to ensure this.

 

What is the need to have another detector in India?

  • Right now, with just three detectors, (2 in USA and one in Europe).

  •  There is huge uncertainty in determining where in the sky the disturbance came from.

  •  Observations from a new detector in a far-off position will help locate the source of the gravitational waves more accurately.

 

Why does one study gravitational waves?

  • As a largely unknown and fundamental phenomenon, gravitational waves are interesting to scientists.

  • The study also offers a new way to map out the universe, using gravitational-wave astronomy

 

About LIGO India

  • LIGO India will come up, in Hingoli district of Maharashtra

  •  The project is formally in the construction phase, with the building design conceptualized.

  •  IndIGO (Indian Initiative in Gravitational-wave Observations) is an initiative to set up advanced experimental facilities for a multi-institutional


 

 

Title

Whither House panels? (The Hindu -Page. 14)

Syllabus 

Prelims : polity 

Mains: GS Paper II: Polity 

Theme

Parliamentary committee        

Highlights

Context: 11 of the 22 Bills introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament have been passed, which makes it a highly productive session after many years. But these Bills have been passed without scrutiny by parliamentary standing committees, their purpose being to enable detailed consideration of a piece of legislation.

 

Why No Scrutiny ?

  • After the formation of the 17th Lok Sabha, parliamentary standing committees have not been constituted as consultations among parties are still under way.

  • Partly as a result of this, the Bills were passed without committee scrutiny.

  • They were discussed in Parliament over durations ranging between two and five hours.

 

Need of Parliamentary Committees

  • India has a Representative Parliamentary Democracy

  • Parliament is the embodiment of the people’s will.

  • Parliament of India performs broadly two functions which are law making and oversight of the executive branch of the government.

  • These Committees help Parliament in performance of these two functions in the following manner:

 

Role of Parliamentary Committees in Law making

  • Given the volume of legislative business, discussing all Bills under the consideration of Parliament in detail on the floor of the House is impossible. So Committees are platforms for such discussion on a proposed law.

  • At least in principle, the assumption is that the smaller body of lawmakers, assembled on the basis of the proportional strength of individual parties and interests and expertise of individual lawmakers, could have more open, intensive and better informed discussions.

  • Committee meetings are ‘closed door’ and members are not bound by party whips which allows them the latitude for a more meaningful exchange of views as against discussions in full and open Houses where grandstanding and party positions invariably take precedence.

  •  Disruptive changes in technology and the expansion of trade, commerce and economy in general throw up new policy challenges that require a constant reform of legal and institutional structures.

  • While law making gets increasingly complex, lawmakers cannot infinitely expand their knowledge into ever expanding areas of human activities.

  • For instance, we live in an era of metadata being generated by expanding connectivity. The laws and regulations that are required to govern a digital society cannot be made without highly specialised knowledge and political acumen.

  •  Members of Parliament may have great acumen but they would require the assistance of experts in dealing with such situations.

  •  It is through committees that such expertise is drawn into lawmaking.



 

 Role of Parliamentary Committees in making Executive accountable to Leislature

  • Executive accountability to the legislature is enforced through questions in Parliament also, which are answered by ministers.

  • However, department standing committees go one step further and hear from senior officials of the government in a closed setting, allowing for more detailed discussions.

  • This mechanism also enables parliamentarians to understand the executive processes closely.

 

Types of Parliamentary Committees

1. Standing Committee 

2. Select Committee 

3. Most committees are ‘standing’ as their existence is uninterrupted and usually reconstituted on an annual basis

4. some are ‘select’ committees formed for a specific purpose, for instance, to

deliberate on a particular bill. Once the Bill is disposed of, that select committee ceases to exist.

 

Constitutional Provisions Related to Parliamentary Committees

  • Parliamentary committees draw their authority from Article 105 (on privileges of Parliament members) and Article 118 (on Parliament’s authority to make rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of business).

  • Committee reports are usually exhaustive and provide authentic information on matters related to governance.

  • Bills that are referred to committees are returned to the House with significant value addition.

  • Parliament is not bound by the recommendations of committees.

 

What are its origins?

  • As is the case with several other practices of Indian parliamentary democracy, the institution of Parliamentary Committees also has its origins in the British Parliament.

  • The first Parliamentary Committee was constituted in 1571 in Britain.

  • The Public Accounts Committee was established in 1861.

  •  In India, the first Public Accounts Committee was constituted in April 1950.

  • According to P.D.T. Achary, former Secretary General of the Lok Sabha, “The practice of regularly referring bills to committees began in 1989 after government departments started forming their own standing committees.

  • Prior to that, select committees or joint committees of the houses were only set up to scrutinise in detail some very important bills, but this was few and far between.”


 

 

Title

What are the advantages blockchain offers? (The Hindu -Page.14)

Syllabus 

Prelims: science 

Mains: GS Paper III: science and technology 

Theme

Blockchain technology      

Highlights

Context : Blockchain was has been in news in the light of its application in cryptocurrency . However recently RBI by an order banned cryptocurrency in India. However now various companies are eyeing the application of blockchain technology in other fields due to some of its inherent advantages. 

What is Blockchain?

 

  • Allows designing a secure way to record transactions and circulate it among signatories.

  • It is an extremely democratic ledger that cannot be arbitrarily manipulated and easily shareable.

 

How does Blockchain work?

  • Every block in a blockchain is a record of transactions.

  • Blocks are great because they provide an unalterable document of the history of every transaction.

  • In the context of currency, it stores the place, time, value (rupee, for example) and location of a purchase. 

  • There is minimal identifying information and every block is linked to a unique ‘digital signature’ of the transacting participants.

  • Every block is distinguished from another through a unique code which is a string of numbers. 

  • In blockchain applications, this verifying role is outsourced to several computers on a network — each has the exact same copy of the block. 

  • These computers verify the genuineness of transaction by solving mathematical problems that can only be done in brute-force, energy intensive ways that require a lot of computational power, and therefore electricity.

 

Applications 
 

  • Facebook has recently launched Libra, which is a kind of blockchain backed digital currency. 

  • Testing blockchain technology as a replacement for paper-based and manual transaction processing in such areas as trade finance, foreign exchange, cross

  • border settlement, and securities settlement

  • Ethereum is a blockchain-based startup. It aims to decentralise online information. It claims that if it were to work as envisioned, it will give users control over their data unlike the present where a lot of our privacy is ceded to Google and Amazon’s servers. 

  • It will help trace the origin of food and where it is grown Applications to journalism and ‘fact-checking’ applications. 

 

Challenges 
 

  • Technology has always proved to be disruptive, creating new opportunities and jobs and destroying old ones. 

  • Blockchain’s appeal lies in its appeal to destroy intermediaries — banks, courts, lawyers 

  • Moreover, there is already serious theorising by economists that shows how blockchain has its own vulnerabilities and susceptibility to creating new hegemons, power networks, cartels and challenges to global energy consumption.

 

 



 


 

 

Title

EVMs   (The Hindu Page 09)

Syllabus 

Mains GS paper II: Polity  

Theme

Electronic voting machines

Highlights

 

 





 

 

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