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Daily Current affairs 26 NOVEMBER 2018

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

[op-ed snap] Ahead on malaria: on reduction in cases in India

POSTED ONNOVEMBER 26, 2018 | THE HINDU

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: World Malaria Report, WHO

Mains level: Efforts needed to eliminate Malaria from South Asia


Context

Malaria incidence reduced in India

  1. The World Malaria Report 2018 of the World Health Organisation notes that India’s record offers great promise in the quest to cut the number of new cases and deaths globally by at least 40% by 2020 and to end the epidemic by 2030
  2. The declining trend of the scourge shows that sustained public health action can achieve good results

Factors for optimism: Odisha shows the way

  1. A lot of that optimism has to do with the progress made by Odisha, one of the most endemic States
  2. Investments made there in recruiting accredited social health workers and large-scale distribution of insecticide-treated bednets, together with strategies to encourage health-seeking behaviour, seem to have paid off
  3. The WHO report highlights a sharp drop in the number of cases in the State
  4. The reduction in cases by half in 2017 compared to the same study period in 2016 appears to reinforce research findings
  5. Malaria cases in Odisha have been coming down steadily since 2003, with a marked reduction since 2008, attributed to greater political and administrative commitment
  6. This positive trend should encourage authorities not just in Odisha, but in the northeastern States and elsewhere too to cut the transmission of the disease further

Further efforts required

  1. This positive trend should encourage authorities not just in Odisha, but in the northeastern States and elsewhere too to cut the transmission of the disease further
  2. Importantly, the reduction in the number of cases should not produce complacency and lead to a reduction in the deployment of health workers and funding cuts to programme components
  3. Where allocations have been reduced, they should be reversed
  4. One issue that requires monitoring in India is resistance to combination therapy using artemisinin
  5. Recent reports indicate that some patients in West Bengal became resistant to the treatment protocol used for the falciparum parasite, which causes debilitating cerebral malaria and leads to a high number of deaths
  6. Eliminating malaria requires an integrated approach, and this should involve Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal, which have a higher burden of the disease

Way forward

  1. India has suffered from a major burden of malaria for decades, with high levels of morbidity and death
  2. Odisha’s experience with using public health education as a tool and reaching out to remote populations with advice needs to be replicated
  3. Given that emerging resistance to treatment has been reported in Myanmar, among other countries in this belt, there is a need for a coordinated approach to rid southern Asia of malaria

Communicable and Non-communicable diseases – HIV, Malaria, Cancer, Mental Health, etc.

[op-ed snap] Leave them alone: on the Sentinelese

POSTED ONNOVEMBER 26, 2018 | THE HINDU

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Arts & Culture | All syllabus

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Sentinelese and other tribes of Andaman

Mains level: Need of special safeguards for isolated tribes


Context

Killing of a US citizen by Sentinelese tribe

  1. The death of a young American man at the hands of the inhabitants of North Sentinel Island in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has led to dangerous lines of debate
  2. Some have called for the Sentinelese to be convicted and punished and others have urged that they be integrated into modern society
  3. Both these demands are misguided, and can only result in the extinction of a people
  4. The Sentinelese are perhaps the most reclusive community in the world today
  5. Their language is so far understood by no other group and they have traditionally guarded their island fiercely, attacking most intruders with spears and arrows

Special safeguards for the Sentinelese

  1. There is a reason why no one — whether missionary, scholar, adventurer, U.S. citizen or Indian — is allowed to venture near North Sentinel Island without permission, which is given only in the rarest of circumstances and with meticulous precautions in place to ensure that the Sentinelese are not disturbed
  2. Having lived in isolation in an island in the Bay of Bengal for thousands of years, the Sentinelese have no immunity or resistance to even the commonest of infections
  3. Various degrees of protection are in place for the indigenous people of A&N Islands, but it is complete in the case of the Sentinelese
  4. The administration enforces “an ‘eyes-on and hands-off’ policy to ensure that no poachers enter the island”
  5. A protocol of circumnavigation of the island is in place, and the buffer maintained around the island is enforced under various laws

Need of restraint

  1. At the heart of the issue is the survival of the Sentinelese
  2. According to the 2011 Census, their population was just 15 — though anthropologists like T.N. Pandit, who made contact with them in the 1960s, put the figure at 80-90
  3. This degree of ignorance about the Sentinelese often sparks an Orientalist public discourse, instead of understanding the dangers of trying to physically overpower them
  4. A foreigner’s death is a cautionary incident — for the danger of adventurism, and for the administration to step up oversight
  5. But it is also an occasion for the country to embrace its human heritage in all its diversity and to empathetically try to see the world from the eyes of it’s most vulnerable inhabitants

Tribes in News

[op-ed snap] India is not better prepared than 2008 

POSTED ONNOVEMBER 26, 2018 | LIVE MINT

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Role of external state & non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NATGRID

Mains level: Shortcomings in India’s counter-terrorism apparatus and need of strengthening it


Context

10 Years of Mumbai Terror Attack

  1. Ten years ago on this day, Pakistan carried out one of the most heinous of terror attacks perpetrated anywhere in the world
  2. The 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, named after the date in 2008 when the attack took place, is in some respects comparable to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the U.S.

Changes in terrorist tactics

  1. Terrorism is hardly a post-modern phenomenon
  2. Several of the terror attacks in the 21st century, however, reflect a paradigmatic change in the tactics of asymmetric warfare, and the practice of violence
  3. The kaleidoscopic features of modern terrorism have befuddled even advanced countries with better interdiction capability
  4. Today’s attacks carried out in different corners of the world by al-Qaeda and its affiliates, the Islamic State, al-Shabaab, and similar terror outfits, are very different from those witnessed in the previous century
  5. The tactics employed may vary, but the objective is common, viz. achieving mass casualties and widespread destruction

State involvement in terrorism

  1. The 26/11 Mumbai terror attack was one of a kind and not a mere variant of previous instances of terrorist violence
  2. It was the rarest of rare cases, where one state’s resources, viz. Pakistan’s were employed to carry out a series of terror attacks in a major Indian city
  3. It was a case of ‘war by other means’, in which the authorities in Pakistan, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, the Pakistani armed forces, were involved
  4. It is difficult to recall any recorded instance in modern times where a state and its various agencies were directly involved in carrying out a terror attack of this nature
  5. The degree of involvement of the Pakistani deep state in the planning and preparation of the attack is evident from many aspects that have come to light subsequently
  6. Seldom has any terrorist group then, or for that matter even now, used such highly sophisticated, state-of-the-art communications, including Voice over Internet Protocol
  7. Planning for the attack involved the use of a third country address
  8. Handlers in Pakistan were given unfettered freedom to provide instructions to the terrorists during the entire four-day siege
  9. The choice of the sea route aimed at deception and avoiding detection was again dictated by official agencies

Lacunae in counter-terrorism network

  1. The first major difficulty is that terrorism is handled by different state police systems with no legal role by the central government under Schedule 7 of our Constitution
  2. It is true that under Article 355, the central government is duty-bound “to protect every state against external aggression and internal disturbances”
  3. But the Constitution did not provide any implements to the central government to carry out this obligation except in emergencies when it can take over the administration of the state under articles 352 or 356
  4. In all other situations, central forces that are supplied to the states are under the control of state authorities
  5. Similarly, the intelligence provided by the central government to the states is only of advisory nature
  6. Thus, in our system, all peacetime CT activities are the legal responsibility of the states
  7. Situations might arise when the states concerned might ignore terrorism-related alerts

International best practices for counterterrorism

  1. In all countries, a centrally directed CT architecture is provided to watch the global developments in terrorist methodology to advise all components of the country to take preventive measures
  2. In many countries concurrent powers are given to the central government to intervene when a state fails to take security measures
  3. After 9/11 the private sector was involved in a big way in other countries in supplementing security and resistance measures
  4. This is because several key infrastructure projects are now managed by private companies
  5. In some countries, they even participate in intelligence sharing so that they could take preventive action on their own with their security personnel

Initiatives taken by India after 26/11

  1. In the wake of the terror attack, several steps were initiated to streamline the security set-up
  2. Coastal security was given high priority, and it is with the Navy/Coast Guard/marine police
  3. A specialised agency to deal with terrorist offences, the National Investigation Agency, was set up and has been functioning from January 2009
  4. The National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) has been constituted to create an appropriate database of security related information
  5. Four new operational hubs for the NSG have been created to ensure rapid response to terror attacks
  6. The Multi Agency Centre, which functions under the Intelligence Bureau, was further strengthened and its activities expanded
  7. The Navy constituted a Joint Operations Centre to keep vigil over India’s extended coastline

Way forward for India

  1. One new variant is the concept of ‘enabled terror’ or ‘remote controlled terror’, viz. violence conceived and guided by a controller thousands of miles away
  2. Today the ‘lone wolf’ is, more often than not, part of a remote-controlled initiative, with a controller choosing the target, the nature of the attack and even the weaponry to be used. Internet-enabled terrorism and resort to remote plotting is thus the new threat
  3. Operating behind a wall of anonymity, random terror is likely to become the new terror imperative
  4. We have to go a long way to claim that we are safer in 2018 than what we were in 2008

With inputs from the editorial: Ten years after the Mumbai attack

Internal Security Architecture Shortcomings – Key Forces, NIA, IB, CCTNS, etc.

Scientists mull stratospheric barrier to curb global warming

POSTED ONNOVEMBER 26, 2018 | THE HINDU

Note4studnets

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Stratospheric Aerosol Injection (SAI)

Mains level: Artificial mitigations against Global Warming


News

Fencing Earth against Sunlight

  1. Spraying sun-dimming chemicals high above the earth to slow global warming could be remarkably inexpensive costing about $2.25 billion a year over a 15-year period, according to a study by U.S. scientists.
  2. Some researchers say the geo-engineering technique known as stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) could limit rising temperatures that are causing climate change.

What are Stratospheric Sulphur Aerosols?

  1. Stratospheric sulfur aerosols are sulfur-rich particles which exist in the stratosphere region of the Earth’s atmosphere.
  2. The layer of the atmosphere in which they exist is known as the Junge layer, or simply the stratospheric aerosol layer.
  3. These particles consist of a mixture of sulfuric acid and water.
  4. They are created naturally, such as by photochemical decomposition of sulfur-containing gases, e.g. carbonyl sulfide.
  5. Sulfur aerosols are common in the troposphere as a result of pollution with sulfur dioxide from burning coal, and from natural processes.
  6. Volcanoes are a major source of particles in the stratosphere as the force of the volcanic eruption propels sulfur-containing gases into the stratosphere.

Stratospheric Aerosol Injection (SAI)

  1. Under SAI delivery of precursor sulfide gases such as sulfuric acid, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) or sulfur dioxide (SO2) by artillery, aircraft and balloons has under study.
  2. This proposed method could counter most climatic changes, take effect rapidly, have very low direct implementation costs, and be reversible in its direct climatic effects.
  3. It would involve the use of huge hoses, cannons or specially designed aircraft to spray large quantities of sulphate particles into the upper layer of the atmosphere to act as a reflective barrier against sunlight.
  4. Total costs estimated to launch a hypothetical SAI effort 15 years from now would be $3.5 billion and average annual operating costs would be about $2.25 billion a year over 15 years.
  5. Discounting other methods of deployment because of cost and feasibility, the research assumes a special aircraft can be designed to fly at an altitude of about 20 km and carry a load of 25 tonnes.

Benefits of the SAI

  • Mimics a natural process
  • Technological feasibility
  • Economic and feasible Cost
  • Efficiency

Possible side effects

  • Tropospheric Ozone depletion
  • Whitening of the sky
  • Tropopause warming and the humidification of the stratosphere
  • Health effects
  • Stratospheric temperature and circulation change

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

RIMES terms Titli cyclone ‘rarest of rare’

POSTED ONNOVEMBER 26, 2018 | THE HINDU

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Geography | Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: RIMES

Mains level: Impact of such rarest cyclones on coast as well as hinterlands


News

Background

  1. The severe cyclonic storm Titli left more than 60 people dead, mainly due to land slide in interior Gajapati district of Odisha.
  2. The Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES) for Africa and Asia, a 45-nation international organisation on disaster warning, has termed ‘Titli’as ‘rarest cyclone’.

Rarest in 200 Years

  1. More than 200 years of cyclone track history in the Odisha coast reveals that the Titli cyclone is the rarest of rare.
  2. The severe cyclone had changed its path after landfall.
  3. It is explained in terms of its characteristics such as recurvature after landfall and retaining its destructive potential after landfall and recurvature away from the coastal areas for more than two days.
  4. Considering the history of cyclone tracks, no synthetic track projection captures the Titli type of
  5. The forecast information available lacks actionable early warning information such as no indication of occurrence of secondary hazards, including landslides far away from the coasts.

Danger is not limited to Coast

  1. The State government actions linked to the cyclone-risk management is heavily focused on the coastal areas where cyclones cross at their peak intensities.
  2. Therefore, coastal areas now have been largely well managed through evacuations and other protocols, leading to zero casualties in these areas.
  3. The highest number of casualties occurred in a village called Baraghara in Gajapati district due to landslides.
  4. People did not evacuate, as the risk is unknown and also not expected. There was no pin-pointed forecast available what will happen where.

About RIMES

  1. The RIMES stands for Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia.
  2. It is an international and intergovernmental institution, owned and managed by its Member States, for the generation and application of early warning information.
  3. It was established on 30 April 2009, and was registered with the United Nations on 1 July 2009.
  4. It operates from its regional early warning center located at the campus of the Asian Institute of Technology in Pathumthani, Thailand.
  5. RIMES evolved from the efforts of countries in Africa and Asia, in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
  6. It aims to establish a regional early warning system within a multi-hazard framework for the generation and communication of early warning information, and capacity building for preparedness and response to trans-boundary hazards.
  7. RIMES caters to differential needs and demands of its Member States by enhancing capacities for end-to-end multi-hazard early warning, in particular:
  • Hazard monitoring, detection, analysis, prediction, and forecasting
  • Risk assessment
  • Potential impact analysis
  • Generation of tailored risk information at different time scales
  • Risk communication
  • Application of tailored risk information in decision-making
  1. The governing council is composed of heads of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and national scientific and technical agencies generating multi-hazard early warning information.
  2. The Council is empowered to make policy decisions, on behalf of governments, concerning regional early warning arrangements, for enhanced preparedness, response, and mitigation of natural hazards.
  3. Currently, India chairs the RIMES Council.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

IMD develops technology to assess rise of water level in rivers, reservoirs by rain

POSTED ONNOVEMBER 26, 2018 | THE ECONOMIC TIMES

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster & disaster management

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Impact Based Forecasting Approach

Mains level: Flood Monitoring using Impact Based Forecasting Approach


News

  • A new technology has been developed by IMD to assess the rise of water level in rivers and reservoirs by rain and can help state governments to minutely monitor the impact of rainfall.

Impact Based Forecasting Approach

  1. The technology shows “pre-event scenario which can help authorities in taking real-time decisions.
  2. With this the government can be able to generate a scenario where it can take decisions to release water or not release it.
  3. It will be helpful for every state authority to take a decision.
  4. There is another technology which would help in identifying warm ocean segments that are contributing to the rapid intensification of the systems.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Open Transit Data (OTD)

POSTED ONNOVEMBER 26, 2018 | THE HINDU

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, and Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: OTDs

Mains level: Utility of OTD in transportation and its viability for use in other parts of country.


News

  • Open Transit Data (OTD) has started being shared on a dedicated portal launched by the Delhi government for commuter’s convenience.

Open Transit Data (OTD)

  1. The portal is designed and developed by IIT-Delhi.
  2. GPS feeds from cluster buses being operated by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) will currently be available to the public through this platform.
  3. The data will include geo-coordinates of bus stops, route maps, timetable, and real time GPS feeds of bus locations every 10 seconds.
  4. The Capital is the first city in the country to share transit data of city buses both static and real time through a dedicated website.

Services provided under OTD

  1. The OTD portal will incorporate multi-modal transport data feed in future, including those of Metro and last-mile connectivity vehicles.
  2. The portal will also enable the government install real-time Passenger Information Systems (PIS) or display boards at bus stops and terminals to let commuters know the arrival time of various buses.
  3. OTD will also enable app-builders provide transit-related services like estimated time of arrival (ETA) at any bus stop, position of the vehicle, and alert and diversion messages, among others.

Benefits of OTD

  1. This initiative will provide a lot of useful information at the finger tips of citizen and encourage more and more people to switch to public transport, thereby impacting pollution.
  2. Researchers or anyone who can handle data can scrutinise the performance of buses whether they stop at bus stops, whether they complete their routes and also if they are speeding.
  3. Anyone can also make mobility apps for consumers using this data for predicting bus timings, route planning and integration with other transit options.

Researchers develop transgenic rice with reduced arsenic accumulation

POSTED ONNOVEMBER 26, 2018 | DOWN TO EARTH

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology |Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspectives, the following things are important

Prelims Level:  WaarsM Gene

Mains Level: Benefits of transgenic rice for controlling arsenic accumulation


News

Background

  1. Arsenic accumulation in rice grains is one of the serious agricultural issues in India.
  2. To address this, researchers at Lucknow-based CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute have developed transgenic rice by inserting a novel fungal gene, which results in reduced arsenic accumulation in rice grain.

WaarsM Gene

  1. Researchers have cloned Arsenic methyltransferase (WaarsM) gene from a soil fungus, Westerdykellaaurantiaca.
  2. They inserted the same into the rice genome with the help of Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a soil bacterium which has natural ability to alter the plant’s genetic makeup.
  3. The newly developed transgenic rice along with normal rice was then treated with arsenic.
  4. Researchers found that the resulting transgenic plant acquired the potential for methylating inorganic arsenic to a variety of harmless organic species, including volatile arsenicals.
  5. This could be potential strategy for developing transgenic rice capable of low arsenic accumulation not only in grain but also in straw and feed which are used for livestock.

Benefits of this GM

  1. The genetic modification of rice grain can be applied to develop practices to decrease accumulation of arsenic by molecular breeding, gene editing or transgenic approaches.
  2. As large numbers of people are affected by arsenic toxicity, it is imperative to develop rice with lesser arsenic content and high yield.

Other significant Researches

  1. In the past, it has shown a transgenic approach in which phytochelatin synthase from Ceratophyllumdemersum (an aquatic plant) was expressed in rice.
  2. Transgenic lines showed enhanced accumulation of arsenic in roots and shoot but less in grains.
  3. They also described that over expression of OsGrx_C7 (protein found in rice) enhanced tolerance to arsenite and reduced arsenite accumulation in seeds and shoots of rice.
  4. Recently, they have showed that OsPRX38transgenics accumulate less arsenic due to high lignification in root which acts as a barrier for arsenic entry in transgenic plants.
  5. In this background, biotechnological methods such as modulating the expression of Arsenic metabolism-related genes in rice will be a fruitful and practical approach to decrease arsenic accumulation.