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Daily Current affairs 31 January 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

 

DIPP rechristened to include internal trade

The News:

  • Recently the union government has notified changing the name of the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, and also enhanced its role.
  • The move comes amidst a demand by traders' body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) for forming a separate ministry for internal trade.

 

About DIPP

  • Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) was established in the year 1995, which later was reconstituted in the year 2000 with the merger of Department of Industrial Development.
  • The department functions under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • DIPP is responsible for the overall industrial policy of the country.
  • Key Roles and Functions:
    • Formulation and implementation of industrial policy and strategies for industrial development in conformity with the development needs and national objectives
    • Administration of the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951
    • Industrial Management
    • Promotion of productivity, quality and technical cooperation
    • Managing the matters related to e-commerce
    • Facilitating and increasing the foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to the country
    • Responsible for intellectual property rights relating to patents, designs, trademarks, and Geographical indication of goods

 

News Summary

  • The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has been renamed as Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, with some new roles.
  • Added Responsibilities:
    • Promotion of internal trade (including retail trade)
    • Welfare of traders and their employees
    • Matters relating to facilitating Ease of Doing Business
    • Matters relating to start-ups
  • The matters related to internal trade were earlier under the domain of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, which now will be under Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Significance of the move:

  • The decision will ensure better coordination between internal and external trade, and help in promoting growth of both segments of the trade.
  • This will bring retail trade in to the mainstream of the economy.
  • With creation of the Department for Internal Trade, the way is paved for creation of separate ministry for internal trade in the future.

 

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Section : Economics

 

Dangerous arctic chill sweeps over US Midwest

The News

  • A weak, distorted and dislodged polar vortex pushed the arctic upper air mass southwards towards the continental USA, causing severe wind chills.

 

News summary

  • USA is witnessing dangerously low temperatures in about 12 states in the Midwest.
  • The unusually low temperatures are due to intrusion of arctic air mass due to distorted Polar Vortex that usually circulates around the Arctic low-pressure belt near the North Pole.
  • According to forecasts, the temperatures are set to dip anywhere between -23 to -40 Celsius over the next few days.
  • The sub-zero temperatures combined with strong winds is causing ‘wind chills’ that are life-threatening and cause frostbites in few minutes.

 

About Polar Vortex

Normal Condition

  • Polar vortex is a low-pressure system where strong cold air masses circulate in counter-clockwise direction, 2 meters over the poles (both North and South).
  • Usually the upper cold air mass is trapped in the poles due to existence of low-pressure belt at the poles.(See figure)

 

 

Distorted Condition

  • Sometimes during the winter, this system is distorted resulting in the cold upper air mass being pushed farther south than usual. 
  • When distorted, the polar vortex will expand, sending weakened cold air southward with the jet stream.
  • In 2014 polar vortex distortion occurred twice, once throughout the winter months and also in early spring.

 

 

 

What is causing the distortion in Polar Vortex?

  • The Polar vortex weakens, partly due to warming temperatures in the stratosphere.
  • According to recent studies, with the warming of planet the jet stream over North America and Europe, is slowing and becoming wavier.
  • The jet streams interact with the polar vortex pushing the cold air downwards south.

 

Global Warming and Polar Vortex

  • It is well known that global warming is leading to melting of Arctic ice.
  • During summers as the ice retreats, specific heat is absorbed by the ocean that lies under the ice.
  • During winter this heat is released as latent heat into the atmosphere creating high pressure belts in the arctic, spurring winds that can disrupt the polar vortex.
  • Thus, global warming is also a cause for cold spans from distorted polar vortex.

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Section : Environment & Ecology

 

India to buy 2 more AWACS worth Rs 5.7k crore from Israel

The News

  • Indian government is set to approve a deal with Israel for two more “Phalcon” airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft worth over Rs 5,700 crore.
  • Israel is one of the top arms suppliers to India.

About Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS)

  • AWACS is basically an aircraft fitted with a sophisticated radar, and hence described as ‘Eye in the Sky’.
  • The system mainly identifies and classifies the threats based on the emissions from them, and also serves as a Friend-or-Foe identification system.
  • It can detect and track incoming fighters, cruise missiles and drones much before ground-based radars.
  • It can also as direct friendly fighters during air combat with enemy jets.

Phalcon AWACS:

  • India incudcted three Israeli Phalcon AWACS in 2009-2011.
  • The new deal will bring in two more Phalon AWACS aircrafts.

India's own NETRA AEW&CS:

  • DRDO, in collaboration with CAB (Centre for Airborne Systems), has developed a multisensor airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system on a carrier jet.
  • Also referred to as DRDO NETRA AEW&C system, it is India's first indigenous AEW system, and is providing airborne surveillance system for the Indian Air Force.
  • The AEW&C system is developed to serve the Indian Air Force in detection and tracking, identification and classification of threats, guidance and interception control, display of air situation picture and multisensor data integration.
  • The system enables the armed forces to communicate with fighter jets and other AEW&C assets, while it also allows for Search and Rescue (SAR) operations, mission planning as well as record and replay for post mission analysis.
  • Presently, IAF has two indigenous “Netra” mini-AWACS.

Comparison with neighboring countries:

  • India has only three Phalcon AWACS and two indigenous “Netra” mini-AWACS, while China has around 30 such systems, including Kong Jing-2000 “Mainring”, KJ-200 “Moth” and KJ-500 aircraft.
  • Pakistan, in turn, has eight Chinese Karakoram Eagle ZDK-03 AWACS and Swedish Saab-2000 AEW&C, and is on course to get more from China.

 

Other defence deals:

Fire control radars

  • India recently inked a deal with Israeli Aerospace Industries for 66 fire control 3-D surveillance and tracking radars.
    • A fire-control radar (FCR) is provides information to a fire-control system in order to direct weapons such that they hit a target.
  • These radars will replace the Flycatcher radar systems present with the Indian Army’s Air Defence Corps.

Drones:

  • India is also looking to buy additional "Heron" and “Harop” drones from Israel.
    • Heron: It is a surveillance and armed drone.
    • Harop: It is a killer unmanned aerial vehicle, which act as cruise missiles by exploding into enemy radars and other targets.

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Section : Defence & Security

 

Explained: The 67 acres in Ayodhya

The news

  • The central government is seeking to return “excess/superfluous land” from the 67.703 acres it acquired in Ayodhya in 1993 to the original owners.
  • To this end, it has moved to the Supreme Court asking to allow the return of land.

 

Background

  • After the demolition of Babri Masjid, the central government passed Acquisition of Certain Areas of Ayodhya Act, 1993 under which the government acquired 67.703 acres of land.
  • The plinth area of the structure demolished in 1992 was only on a 0.313 acre plot (which was within the disputed premises of 2.77 acre).
  • The government also acquired 67.390 acre of "non-disputed" acquired land around the disputed land.
  • 42 acres of the acquired 67 acres of land belongs to Ram Janmbhoomi Vyas.
  • The land acquisition was challenged in the Court but the SC in the M Ismail Faruqui Vs Union of India case in 1994, gave the following rulings:
    • It upheld the Constitutional validity of the land acquisition act.
    • It established that the disputed area is limited to just 0.313 acres where the disputed structure stood before its demolition.
    • It also held that the area acquired in excess of 0.313 acres disputed land shall be reverted back to its original owners once the case is disposed of.
    • It also gave the government the right to determine the extent of the "extra land required around the disputed property" for the winning side to enjoy their rights.
  • After the Faruqui ruling, the Ram Janmbhoomi Nyas had requested the government in 1996 to return the excess land but the government refused to accept the request as the suits related to disputed area were pending with the Allahabad High Court.
  • Further, in 2003, the Supreme Court in Mohd Aslam alias Bhure’s case held that the status quo has to be maintained till the Allahabad High Court disposes of the case.
  • The Allahabad High Court delivered its judgment in 2010, in which it divided the disputed 2.77 acres of land, equally among the Nirmohi Akhara, the Sunni Central Wakf Board, UP, and Ramlalla Virajman.

 

 

News Summary

  • Now, the Centre has moved the Supreme Court seeking permission to return the excess land of the 67.703 acres acquired to its original owners.
  • The Centre’s application is based on the contention that appeals in the Supreme Court is confined to the 0.313 cares disputed land only and hence, the excessive land shall be returned to the original owners.
  • The government expressed willingness to determine the extent of extra land required to ensure enjoyment of full rights by the successful party in the case, as was ruled in 1994 Faruqui case.
  • However, the government cannot take this step because of the 2003 judgement of the Supreme Court that ordered to maintain the status quo till the case is finally disposed of.
  • Hence, with current move, the Centre has sought the modification of the Supreme Court’s order in 2003.

 

Note to students: There is no need to remember the information here for the exam. This is added as potentially useful for Personality Test and for general awareness.

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Section : Miscellaneous

 

World Leprosy Day: over half of new cases are detected in India

World Leprosy Day:

  • World Leprosy Day is observed globally on the last Sunday of January but will be observed in India on January 30 (M K Gandhi’s death anniversary).
  • It focuses on the target of zero cases of leprosy-related disabilities in children.

 

Trends of the disease in the world and India:

  • Trends of the disease in the world and India, can be seen from data collated from the WHO and India’s National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP).
  • New cases have declined gradually since 2008. However, they hit a sudden spike in 2012 and 2016. This was the trend for both India and globally.

 

India accounts for most of the new leprosy detections:

  • Every year, over 2 lakh new leprosy cases are detected around the world, with India accounting for more than half of these.
  • The country’s numbers have consistently been more than half the world figures since 2008.
  • In 2017, India accounted for 60% of new cases detected in the world.

Most affected states (in terms of cases):

  • As of March 2018, Bihar remains the worst affected, followed by UP, Maharashtra and West Bengal. These 4 states account for nearly 40% of all new case in India.

Most affected states (in terms of prevalence):

  • Prevalence is calculated in terms of cases per lakh population.
  • In Union Territories, Dadra & Nagra Haveli saw highest prevalence with 4.85 cases per 1 lakh population.
  • Among the states, Chhattisgarh had the highest prevalence (2.25)

 

 

About Leprosy

The disease:

  • Leprosy is one of the world’s oldest diseases, mostly found in warm tropical countries.
  • It is a chronic infectious disease caused by bacterium named Mycobacterium leprae.
  • Leprosy is transmitted via droplets from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contacts with untreated cases.
  • Mycobacterium leprae multiplies slowly and the incubation period of the disease on an average is 5 years.
  • In some cases, symptoms may occur within 1 year but can also take as long as 20 years to occur.
  • Impact on health:
    • The disease mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes.
    • Untreated, leprosy can cause progressive and permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs, and eyes.

Treatment

  • It is curable and treatment in the early stages can prevent disability.
  • Multi-drug therapy (MDT):
    • The most important breakthrough in treatment came in the early 1980s with the introduction of a highly effective treatment, multi-drug therapy (MDT).
    • More than 17 million leprosy patients have been treated with MDT over the past 30 years.

 

Efforts at tackling leprosy

WHO initiative:

  • In 1991, the WHO set a target to eliminate leprosy as a public health problem, defining elimination as a prevalence of less than 1 case per 10,000 population.
  • Since 1995, the WHO has provided MDT free of cost to all leprosy patients in the world.

Governmental efforts:

  • Control of leprosy has improved significantly as a result of national and subnational campaigns in most endemic countries.
  • Integration of basic leprosy services into general health services has made diagnosis and treatment of the disease more accessible.

International efforts

  • In 2016, WHO has launched a new global strategy – The Global Leprosy Strategy 2016–2020: accelerating towards a leprosy-free world.
  • It aims to reinvigorate leprosy control efforts and avert disabilities, especially among children affected by the disease in endemic countries.
  • This strategy emphasizes the need to
    • Sustain expertise and increase the number of skilled leprosy staff
    • Improve the participation of affected persons in leprosy services
    • Reduce visible deformities – also called grade-2 disabilities
    • Reduce stigmatization associated with the disease

 

India's national efforts

  • 1955 - National Leprosy Control Programme (NLCP) launched
  • 1983 - National Leprosy Eradication Programme launched (NLEP)
  • 1983 - Introduction of Multidrug therapy (MDT) in Phases
  • 1995 - Leprosy is recognised as a disability under the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act of 1995.
  • 2005 - Elimination of Leprosy at National Level
  • 2012 - Special action plan for 209 high endemic districts in 16  States/UTs
  • 2016 - Three-pronged strategy under the National Health Mission

The National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP)

  • It is a centrally sponsored Health Scheme of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India.
  • While the NLEP strategies and plans are formulated centrally, the programme is implemented by the States/UTs.
  • Apart from the government of India, additional support for the programme is continued to be received from the WHO and ILEP organizations.
  • Success of the programme:
    • As a result of planning and proper execution, India achieved the goal of elimination of leprosy as a public health problem, defined as less than 1 case per 10,000 population, at the National Level in 2005.

Three-pronged strategy under the National Health Mission:

  • With a view to eliminating leprosy from the country, a three-pronged strategy has been adopted for early detection of leprosy cases in the community during 2016-17:
    • Leprosy Case Detection Campaign for high endemic districts
    • Focused Leprosy Campaign for hot spots
    • Specific plan for Case Detection in Hard to reach areas

 

Issues related to Leprosy in India

  • Lack of vaccine: There is yet no prophylactic vaccine available for leprosy. As a result, early detection and treatment with MDT forms the cornerstone of efforts against the disease.
  • Accessibility: Ensuring that all cases are diagnosed and treated promptly remains a challenge among hard-to-reach and marginalised populations.
  • Capacity: Lack of effective training and varied presentations of the disease leads sometimes to wrong diagnosis or being missed by the primary health centre (PHC) medical officers.
  • Awareness: Efforts at educating the public about leprosy are needed so that people don’t fear coming forward to seek treatment.
  • Discrimination: Despite being completely curable, persons affected by leprosy continue to face discrimination not only from the larger society but also the disability sector itself.

 

Way ahead:

  • Government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private organizations need to work together in a coordinated fashion in the final battle against leprosy.
  • Accessibility: The government's three-pronged strategy under the National Health Mission is aimed at reaching the high endemic and hard to reach areas. Its execution should be properly monitored.
  • Capacity building: Strengthening referral networks is important to support integrated leprosy control services. Decline in number of leprosy experts needs to be reversed.
  • Ending discrimination: In 2017, the Supreme Court noted that 119 provisions across various Acts passed by the Central and State governments continue to discriminate against people affected by leprosy (PAL). The court asked the Centre to take a call to repeal these 119 Central and State laws that discriminate against persons affected by leprosy.
  • Awareness: In 2018, the Supreme Court directed the government to constitute a separate wing which will be devoted to create and extend public awareness that leprosy is curable and not contagious. A new environment free of stigma and fear needs to be created for early diagnosis and treatment of the remaining cases towards a leprosy free world.

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Section : Social Issues

 

India needs a tri-service war-fighting doctrine Editorial 31st Jan’19 HindustanTimes

Modern warfare conditions have changed significantly 

  • The world of warfare has moved far away from that during the Second World War, where surprise was critical, and war domains and technology were limited.
  • In modern warfare, there are numerous warfare domains to contend with, and technology is changing rapidly. The speed of operations, rather than surprise, would determine modern war outcomes.
    • For example, China has eight warfare domains (land, sea, air, outer space, deep sea, cyber, electronic, and psychological)

This makes a single military doctrine essential

  • Since speed is utmost importance in modern warfare, and it requires jointness.
  • This means it would be better to have a single Indian military doctrine, rather than mere coordination between the three services as being practised currently.
  • Instead of three separate warfare doctrines, there could be a single military doctrine for land and maritime warfare, with services agreeing on common threats and how best to beat them.

 

How China has restructured its forces understanding the criticality of jointness

China's PLA:

  • To understand the criticality of jointness, look at how the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA’s) warfare would concentrate on employing non-contact assets in order to obviate loss of life of their soldiers.
  • China's People’s Liberation Army (PLA), consisting of the Ground Force, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, and the Strategic Support Force, has understood the criticality of jointness between various forces.

Non-Contact forces taking the lead:

  • PLA's warfare would concentrate on employing non-contact assets in order to avoid loss of life of their soldiers.
  • Thus, the lead in war would be taken by PLA’s Strategic Support Force (SSF), formed in 2015, which has under it cyber, outer space and electronic warfare capabilities.
  • The SSF would destroy and disrupt command, communications, communication centres and domain awareness by hitting at an adversary’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets.

Followed by conventional attack: 

  • Offensive action by SSF would likely be followed by massive salvos of conventionally armed missiles and unmanned armed aerial vehicles.
  • The missiles will produce shock and awe to demoralise the adversary.

Together they will force adversary into a defensive posture:

  • The SSF and missiles combined would destabilise, disrupt and delay the adversary’s sensor-shooter cycle, called in military parlance as the Observe-Orient-Decide-Act (OODA) loop.
  • Thus, they will compel the adversary to adopt a defensive posture.

 

India is making a slow beginning

Plans to restructure the Indian Army:

  • Over the past few years, the army has been undertaking a number of studies on changes in organizational structure.
  • With the intent of modernising and ‘rightsizing’ the Army, the Army chief and the defence ministry got four committees of experts to study and suggest ways.
  • These are the the most far-reaching personnel and organisational reforms the force has attempted since Independence.

A start is made in merging of MT and ARTRAC:

  • Indian Army chief has taken up the task of manpower reduction and warfighting rejuvenation exercise.
  • As a first step, the directorate of Military Training (MT) will merge with Army Training Command (ARTRAC).
    • The ARTRAC is responsible for the Indian Army’s policy, future threat projections, operational strategy and land warfare strategy. It has 105 officers.
    • The MT provides updates to defence ministry on army training. 

India cannot afford duplication of capabilities and needs jointness: 

  • India, with its meagre resources and barely functional defence-industrial complex, cannot afford duplication of capabilities within services.
  • Example on duplication of resources:
    • Army’s Military Intelligence (MI) projects the threats.
    • Military Operation (MO) assesses how threats are to be mated with capabilities.
    • Perspective Planning (PP) articulates future threats, modernisation and capabilities.
    • ARTRAC does detailed threats assessment and how they can be met by training; it is in charge of publications on training and doctrine.
  • Possibilities of restructuring:
    • ARTRAC holds a weekly video conference with PP and MO to iron on differences on threats, capabilities and training. Some defence analysts suggest that all of them could be merged together.
    • They also suggest that ARTRAC could be combined with other services’ training command to generate jointness through a common doctrine.

 

Why the merger of commands hasn't happened despite becoming increasingly necessary?

The idea of the commands’ merger is often opposed by the services on three counts:

  1. Dissimilar cultures:
  • The different services have dissimilar cultures, ethos and traditions exemplified by their blue, white and olive-green uniforms.
  • The disagreements would be huge, and the services say that the focus should be on jointness of operations, not jointness of forces.
  1. Guarding their territories:
  • Each service has its core competencies, which they guard zealously, while being dismissive about the others.
  • The services’ headquarters (that is, the top brass) of each of the forces are resistant to change.

 

India needs to get ready to counter China

Currently, Indian forces are divided on who leads in a war:

  • The Army and Air Chiefs presently are in support coordination in war.
  • Despite that, based upon different war-fighting doctrines, Army and Air Force have sought their own services’ primacy in war.
  • Such a situation would lead to duplications, confusion and impede speed of operations.

India also needs a common warfighting doctrine:

  • The good way to meet the PLA challenge would be to first formulate a common warfighting doctrine.
  • This alone would determine which service (between the army and air force) would take the lead in war.

 

Importance:

GS Paper III: Security Issues

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Section : Editorial Analysis

 

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