Daily Current affairs 23 April 2019UPSC - Daily Current Affair
Relevant articles from pib:
- Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: TKDL- features, significance and need.
Context: AYUSH ministry and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), New Delhi will collaborate in research and education in areas of traditional systems of medicine and its integration with modern science.
This is not the first collaboration of the two organisations. CSIR and the Department of AYUSH (now Ministry) developed the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL).
- The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) is an Indian digital knowledge repository of the traditional knowledge, especially about medicinal plants and formulations used in Indian systems of medicine.
- Set up in 2001, as a collaboration between the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the MINISTRY OF AYUSH.
- objective of the library is to protect the ancient and traditional knowledge of the country from exploitationthrough biopiracy and unethical patents, by documenting it electronically and classifying it as per international patent classification systems.
- Apart from that, the non-patent database serves to foster modern research based on traditional knowledge, as it simplifies access to this vast knowledge of remedies or practices.
The TKDL contains documentation of publicly available traditional knowledge (TK) that:
- relates to Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Yoga
- is in digitized format
- is available in five languages: English, German, French, Japanese and Spanish.
- seeks to prevent the granting of patents for products developed utilizing TK where there has been little, if any, inventive step
- intends to act as a bridge between information recorded in ancient Sanskrit and patent examiners (with its database containing information in a language and format understandable to patent examiners)
- facilitates access to information not easily available to patent examiners, thereby minimizing the possibility that patents could be granted for “inventions” involving only minor or insignificant modifications.
Relevant articles from various news papers:
- Issues related to health.
- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: malaria- causes, spread, symptoms and treatment, about mosquirix.
Context: African Nation, Malawi will be undertaking large scale pilot tests for the world’s most advanced experimental malaria vaccine in a bid to prevent the disease. The vaccine has been recommended by WHO for pilot introduction in selected areas of 3 African countries- Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.
- caused by the infectious Plasmodium
- Spread: Female Anophelesmosquitoes deposit parasite sporozoites into the skin of a human host.
- Malaria is a leading cause of human morbidity and mortality. Despite huge progress in tackling the disease, there are still 212 million new cases of malaria and 430,000 malaria-related deaths worldwide each year according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Most cases (80%) and deaths (90%) were in sub-Saharan African.
World’s first vaccine against a parasitic disease: Mosquirix:
- RTS,S, known by its trade name Mosquirix, uses antibodies to target proteins presented by sporozoites(such as the circumsporozoite protein of falciparum)to enhance the immune system and help prevent the parasite from infecting the liver.
- Mosquirix is also engineered using a hepatitis B viral protein and a chemical adjuvant to further boost the immune response for enhanced effectiveness.
India’s efforts in this regard:
- India’s progress in fighting malaria is an outcome of concerted efforts to ensure that its malaria programme is country-owned and country-led, even as it is in alignment with globally accepted strategies.
- At the East Asia Summit in 2015, India pledged to eliminate the disease by 2030. Following this public declaration, India launched the five-year National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination. This marked a shift in focus from malaria “control” to “elimination”. The plan provides a roadmap to achieve the target of ending malaria in 571 districts out of India’s 678 districts by 2022.
Durgama Anchalare Malaria Nirakaran (DAMaN) initiative:
- Among states, Odisha’s Durgama Anchalare Malaria Nirakaran (DAMaN) initiative is significant.
- The initiative aims to deliver services to the most inaccessible and hardest hit people of the State. The initiative has in-built innovative strategies to combat asymptomatic malaria.
- The programme is jointly implemented by Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Malaria Research (ICMR-NIMR), National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), Odisha and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV).
Sources: the Hindu.
- Issues related to women and women safety.
What to study?
For prelims: components of the kit.
For mains: sexual assault cases- numbers, concerns, challenges and significance of kits, other measures needed.
Context: Ministry of Home Affairs has distributed special kits to carry out immediate investigations into sexual assault cases. The Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kits or ‘rape investigation kits’ are designed to carry out immediate medico-legal investigation.
Components and significance of the kits:
- Each of these kits comprises essential items that will aid in furnishing evidence such as blood and semen samples in sexual assault and rape cases, thus helping the prosecution to gather evidence against the accused.
- The kit has a set of test tubes and bottles, which mention contents and specifications.
- These kits also contain instructions on collection of evidence from the crime scene. The SAECKs would be sent to the closest laboratory and within two months the results would be out.
- The kits are expected to help law enforcement agencies to ensure effective investigation in a timely manner for better prosecution and convictions in sexual assault cases.
- The kits were procured with financial support under the central government’s ‘Nirbhaya Fund’, which was named after the 2012 Delhi gang-rape victim.
Incidents of crime against women rose from 3,29,243 in 2015 to 3,38,954 in 2016.
In 2015, as many as 34,651 cases of rape were registered in the country. The figure increased to 38,947 in 2016, according to the data of the National Crime Records Bureau.
Sources: the Hindu.
- Border areas and their management.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: the ban-need, effects on civilians and viable alternatives.
Context: The Supreme Court has sought responses from the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir on the plea seeking quashing of an order which restricts civilian traffic two days a week on the national highway (NH) stretch from Udhampur to Baramulla for movement of security forces.
The J&K govt. has issued an order banning the movement of civilian traffic on a 270-km stretch (Udhampur-Baramulla) of the Jammu-Srinagar-Uri national highway for two days every week.
On Sundays and Wednesdays, the highway would be exclusively used for movement of military convoys. The decision has been taken considering the security concerns that led to temporarily blocking part of the highway. However this has an implication on civilian population.
Why is the highway important?
The Jammu-Srinagar-Uri national highway (NH-1A) runs 370 km. The national highway is not just the only road link that connects Kashmir to the outside world but also the key highway that connects Srinagar with the southern and northern districts of the Valley. The highway passes through five of the 10 districts of the Valley, and highways to at least two more districts branch out from it. The highway, directly and indirectly, impacts a population of over 69 lakh.
Why such decision?
The government has cited the recent suicide bombing of a security forces convoy in Pulwama — which killed 40 CRPF personnel — as the reason for restricting traffic.
Implications of the road-block:
- It means a virtual lockdown of the Valley for two days every week. According to official figures, over 10,000 vehicles move on the highway from both sides every hour, including around 5,000 light motor vehicles. These include vehicles carrying students, patients, government officials and businessmen.
- Closing the highway during daytime would mean that most government and private offices, banks, schools and colleges would remain shut on Wednesdays and the movement of people to hospitals would be severely restricted on Wednesdays and Sundays.
What can be done?
Whenever security forces’ vehicles are using the highway, civilian traffic can be halted for various lengths of time.
Sources: the Hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- It is an annual event, organized to show support for environmental protection around the world on April 22.
- Earth Day was founded by American senator Gaylord Nelson for environmental education.
- This day commenced on April 22, 1970. In the year 2020, the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day will be celebrated.
- Theme of Earth Day 2019: Protect Our Species.
The East Asia – Australasian Flyway (EAAF):
Context: In a first, east Asian birds make Andaman stopover. These birds also use Andaman and Nicobar Islands for a few week rest before they can fly along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF).
- The routes that migratory waterbirds traverse on an annual basis are known as ‘flyways’. There are nine major flyway around the world.
- The East Asian – Australasian Flyway (EAAF) stretches from the Russian Far East and Alaska, southwards through East Asia and South-east Asia, to Australia and New Zealand and encompasses 22 countries.
- The EAAF is home to over 50 million migratory waterbirds from over 250 different populations, including 32 globally threatened species and 19 Near Threatened species.
- During migration, waterbirds rely on a system of highly productive wetlands to rest and feed, building up sufficient energy to fuel the next phase of their journey.
Context: In order to counter fake, sub-standard and expired drugs, the Union Health Ministry has said Hindi and regional language will be used in the tendering process.
Background: The Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) recently recommended that government procurement agencies should take necessary steps in the tendering process to include the regional language, along with English, on the label of iron tablets and polio drops in government programmes.
Garia festival is an important festival for the Tripuri tribal community of the state. The Garia dance is very popular among the Tripuris and the Reangs. Symbolic of the worship of deities as well as of the socio-economic activities of the households, these dances represent hunting, fishing, food-gathering and various other activities.
- The Garia Puja is usually held from the beginning of the last day of the month of Chaitra till the seventh day of the month of April (Vaishakha).
- They offer prayers to a bamboo pole whom they considered as their Lord Garia and sought His blessings for a good and prosperous life.
- The devotees sacrifice roosters as part of the rituals during the puja.
- The puja is followed by traditional dance derived from the Garia dance or the dance of Shiva and other cultural activities.
Summaries of important editorials:
India’s response to China’s BRI linked to its territorial concerns:
Context: India has, once again, decided to not participate in China’s second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) due on April 25, which is likely to be attended by around 40 heads of government.
- BRI consisting of the land-based belt, ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’, and ‘Maritime Silk Road’, aims to connect the East Asian economic region with the European economic circle and runs across the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa.
- BRI is China’s ambitious project announced in 2013. It covers about 65% of the world population, 60% of the world GDP and over 70 countries in six economic corridors.
- China is spending almost $1 trillion to revive and renew the overland and maritime trade links between China, Europe, West Asia, and East Africa through construction of modern ports linked to high-speed road and rail corridors.
India’s concerns with BRI:
- India argues that the BRI and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project violates its sovereignty because it passes through the part of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir that belongs to India.
- Debt trap: BRI projects are pushing recipient countries into indebtedness, do not transfer skills or technology and are environmentally unsustainable.
- China is planning to extend the CPEC to Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Maldives, Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka are eagerly pursuing potential BRI projects.
- Through OBOR, China is countering the strategies of India in North East region and is promoting its greater presence in North East India, part of which China claims as its own territory. This may have a security impact on India.
- Tense bilateral relations with China, deep mistrusts and India’s growing concerns over Chinese hegemonic intentions in South Asia and Indo-Pacific region make it practically unlikely that India will ever consider joining this project.
- Military deployment: The fact that the Chinese have begun to deploy 30,000 security personnel to protect the projects along the CPEC route makes it an active player in the politics of the Indian sub-continent. Clearly, this is a case of double standards.
Way ahead for India:
- India now needs to match ambition with commensurate augmentation of its capacities that allows it to be a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region. This will require the government to not only overcome its chronic inability to take speedy decisions with respect to defence partnerships and procurement, but will also necessitate a sustained period of predictable economic growth; BRI can assist in the latter.
- Chinese railways, highways, ports and other capacities can serve as catalysts and platforms for sustained Indian double-digit growth. Simultaneously, India can focus on developing last-mile connectivity in its own backyard linking to the BRI— the slip roads to the highways, the sidetracks to the Iron Silk Roads.
- Currently, India has neither the resources nor the political and economic weight to put in place competitive and alternative connectivity networks on a global scale. Therefore, for the time being, it may be worthwhile to carefully evaluate those components of the BRI which may, in fact, improve India’s own connectivity to major markets and resource supplies and become participants in them just as we have chosen to do with the AIIB and the NDB.
Impact of crude oil price rise on the Indian rupee:
Context: Brent crude price is on rise.
- A rise in the price of crude oil hurts the economy because crude accounts for a significant portion of India’s overall imports.
- If crude rises further, it will not only impact the stability of the rupee and the rise in stock markets, but may also produce an inflationary effect.
What is leading to the rise in the price of Brent crude?
- The recent spike in prices followed reports that the United States will stop granting sanction waivers to any country importing Iranian crude or condensate beginning May 2, 2019.
- Besides, crude oil prices have been rising steadily since March, 2019 on concerns over supply from OPEC, and the US sanctions on Venezuela.
What is the impact on the rupee? Could it weaken further?
Inflow of funds from foreign portfolio investors led to a strong recovery in the rupee between January and March 2019. However, the rupee has been rising against the dollar since the reversal in the trend of crude prices.
If Brent continues to rise, the rupee is likely to face additional pressure. Crude has traditionally been a big determinant of the way the rupee moves.
How it affects economy’s?
A weak rupee hurts the country on account of the higher import bill and current account deficit, and also tends to be inflationary.
Does the US decision on Iran hurt India’s imports?
The US decision to end waivers for countries importing crude from Iran beginning May 2, 2019 may hurt India’s interests, as it will have to look for alternative sources of oil.
It is important to note that the US sanctions on Venezuela are already restrictive for India.
From April 2018 to January 2019, India imported almost 6.4% of its requirement from Venezuela.
Also, if the total supplies from these two big oil exporters is kept out of the market, it will lead to a supply crunch, and likely increase in overall crude oil prices.
What are the other sources of crude oil for India?
- While Iraq is the biggest exporter, Saudi Arabia is a close second, and both of them account for 38% of India’s total petroleum imports.
- UAE and Nigeria together account for 16.7%.
- However, the biggest change has been the entry of the US as a major player.
- While it did not figure in the list of top 10 petroleum exporters for India in 2017-18, in the 10 months of FY’19, the US stood at number 9 with an over 3% share of India’s petroleum imports.