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Daily Current affairs of 19 June 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

 

 

SL. NO.

TOPICS

THE HINDU

PAGE NO.

1

Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs)

10

2

Simultaneous Elections in India

10

3

World Population Prospects Report 2019

13

4

Uptick for India on sanitation in UN report

01

5

Indian Grey Wolf

09

Title

  1. Bilateral Investment Treaties  (The Hindu, Page – 10)

Syllabus

Mains: GS Paper III : Indian Economy and various Issues

Theme

Criticism of Model BIT

 

Context

In 2016, the Indian Government decided to unilaterally terminate Bilateral Investment Treaties with more than 60 countries. The article argues that the replacement of these pro-investor BIT with pro-state model BIT has led to contraction in the FDI inflows  into India.

 

What is Bilateral Investment Treaty?

Bilateral investment Treaties (BITs) are agreements between two Countries  for the reciprocal promotion and protection of investments in each other's territories by individuals and companies situated in either State. BITs encourage foreign investors to invest in a State and there by contributing towards overall developments and advancements of the economy.

Some of the important features of the BITs are:

Fair and Equitable Treatment (FET): Mandates States to have a stable and predictable legal framework regulating investments which meets the reasonable expectations of the investors.  

Full Protection and Security (FPS): Mandates States to provide full protection and safety to foreign investments.

National Treatment: The foreign investors should be treated at par with the domestic investors.

Most Favourable Nation Treatment (MFN):  Concession extended to foreign investor of a particular country would be extended to foreign investors of other countries.

Expropriation (Taking over property): Bars the state from expropriating the foreign investments except under exceptional circumstances.

Repatriation of Investment and Returns: Mandates the states to provide unrestricted power to the foreign investors to repatriate their investments and returns.

Investor State Dispute Resolution (ISDS): Foreign investors  can directly initiate arbitration  proceeding against a State without approaching its own government. To handle such a dispute, an ad-hoc tribunal may be set up in accordance with the Arbitration rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.

 

Reason for termination of BITs

The BITs signed by India gave extensive protection to the foreign investment with scant regard for state's interests based on the neoliberal model.  For example, a number of foreign corporations slapped ISDS notices against India challenging a wide array of regulatory measures such as the imposition of retrospective taxes (Vodafone case),cancellation of spectrum licences and revocation of telecom licenses.

These ISDS cases against India led to a fundamental rethink and review of BITs in India leading to the adoption of Model BIT in 2016.

 

Important Provisions of Model BIT

Enterprise based definition of investment: The asset based definition of the investment under the earlier BITs has been replaced by Enterprise based definition under the model BIT. Asset based definition considers every kind of asset – both movable and immovable including the IPRs as investment and gives protection under treaties. Moving away from an asset-based approach to an enterprise-based approach aims at narrowing the scope of investments to be protected and thus seeks to reduce the number of BIT claims that can be brought against India.

Exclusion of MFN treatment: In recent years, some foreign investors have sued India arguing that they have to get the same beneficial treatment given to companies from other countries. Accordingly, India has dropped MFN Clause from the Model BIT.

Conditions for initiating arbitrations at international arbitrations: The Model BIT stipulate that the aggrieved investor should use all local remedies as well as negotiations and consultations before initiating arbitrations against the host State. Investor can use outside remedies only five years after resorting to all domestic arrangements.

Corporate Social Responsibility:  The Model BIT mandates foreign investors to voluntarily adopt internationally recognized standards of corporate social responsibility.

 

Concerns raised with respect to Model BIT

The unilateral termination of BITs by India has led to decrease in FDI Inflows into India. Apart from that, since such treaties work on reciprocal basis, the Indian investors in other countries do not have the option to sue the foreign governments.

 

Way Forward

The Indian BITs should strike a balance between the interests of foreign investors and those of the state. A well-balanced BIT framework coupled with transparency, clarity and consistency in the domestic regulations would enable India to attract more FDI inflows.

 


 

 

Title

  1. Simultaneous Elections in India – (The Hindu, Page-10)

Area of interest

Mains: GS Paper 2 under Polity & Governance

Theme

Pros and Cons of Simultaneous Elections in India

Highlights

Context

India' first general elections were held in 1951-52. There was a simultaneous General Election to Lok Sabha and all State Legislative Assemblies. This trend continued up to for 3 subsequent general elections until 1967. But in 1968, the cycle the cycle of simultaneous elections got disturbed due to the premature dissolution of some Legislative Assemblies.

 

Merits of Simultaneous Elections

  • Simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and all State Assemblies will provide continuity, consistency and stability in governance throughout the country.

  • It will reduce the massive expenditure spent during elections.

  • Help ruling parties focus on governance instead of being constantly in election mode.

  • Imposition of the Model Code of Conduct hampers the  development programmes and activities of the Union and State governments leading to policy paralysis and governance deficit.

  • Simultaneous elections would free crucial manpower which is often deployed for prolonged periods on election duties.

  • It would provide a stable five year term to the political parties in power to focus towards implementing their political manifestos and government schemes.

  • Help in controlling corruption to a large extent as use of unaccounted money through illegal sources  very common during elections.

 

Demerits of Simultaneous Elections

Practical Feasibility: Holding Simultaneous Elections would mean reducing or extending the term of existing State legislatures to bring their election dates in line with the due date for the rest of the country. Such a measure would undermine democracy and federalism.

Hamper the choice of Voters: The voters are better placed to express their voting choices keeping in mind the two different governments which they would be electing by exercising their franchise. This distinction gets blurred somewhat in case of simultaneous elections since the voters are made to vote for electing two types of government at the same time, at the same polling booth, and on the same day.

Go Against Local or Regional Interests:  Assembly elections are fought on local state issues and, in the true spirit of federalism, parties and leaders are judged in the context of their work done in the state. Clubbing them with the general election could lead to a situation where the national narrative submerges the regional problems and issues.

Go Against Smaller Political Parties:  In case of simultaneous polls, bigger political parties who are better funded have advantage over smaller regional parties. Even the corporates would favour a uniform government throughout India for their benefit hence could pour their entire fund in one or two strong national political parties. This may act as a huge disadvantage for the smaller political parties thereby distorting the very idea of federalism in India.

 

Recommendations of various Reports

  • Law Commission of India in its One Hundred and Seventieth Report has suggested that election of same of Legislation Assemblies where term is ending six months after the General election to Lok Sabha can be clubbed with it but election result can be declared at the end of their tenure. This can be possible with the cooperation of political parties.

  • The Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice  noted that the Representation of People Act, 1951 permits the Election Commission to notify general elections six months prior to the end of the terms of Lok Sabha and state assemblies. The Committee recommended that elections could be held in two phases. It stated that elections to some Legislative Assemblies could be held during the midterm of Lok Sabha. Elections to the remaining legislative assemblies could be held with the end of term of Lok Sabha.

  • The NITI Aayog in its Three Year’s Action Agenda has suggested that we need to move towards switching to a synchronised two-phase election to the Lok Sabha. This would require a maximum one-time curtailment or extension of some state assemblies.

 

 

Title

  1. World Population Prospects Report 2019  (The Hindu, Page-13)

Syllabus

Mains: GS Paper 2: Population and related Issues

Theme

Population related Statistics

Highlights

Introduction

The United Nations population estimates and projections form a comprehensive set of demographic data to assess population trends at the global, regional and national levels. They are used in the calculation of many of the key development indicators

Understanding global population trends and anticipating the demographic changes to come are crucial to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda emphasizes that people are at the centre of sustainable development. However, the Population trends observed over the past few decades point to substantial progress made towards several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) so far. Examples include reduced mortality, particularly among children, as well as increased access to sexual and reproductive health care and enhanced gender equality that have empowered women to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children.

Key findings from World Population Prospects 2019

  • The world’s population continues to grow, albeit at a slower pace than at any time since 1950, owing to reduced levels of fertility. From an estimated 7.7 billion people worldwide in 2019, the medium-variant projection indicates that the global population could grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050, and 10.9 billion in 2100.

  • With a projected addition of over one billion people, countries of sub-Saharan Africa could account for more than half of the growth of the world’s population between 2019 and 2050. By contrast, populations in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, Central and Southern Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe and Northern America are projected to reach peak population size and to begin to decline before the end of this century.

  • Continued rapid population growth presents challenges for sustainable development. For Small Island Developing States, the challenges to achieving sustainable development are compounded by their vulnerability to climate change, climate variability and sea-level rise.

  • More than half of the projected increase in the global population up to 2050 will be concentrated in just nine countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the United Republic of Tanzania, and the United States of America. India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country around 2027.

  • The populations of 55 countries or areas are projected to decrease by one per cent or more between 2019 and 2050 because of sustained low levels of fertility, and, in some places, high rates of emigration.

  • In most of sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in parts of Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, recent reductions in fertility mean that the population at working ages (25 to 64 years) is growing faster than in other age groups, providing an opportunity for accelerated economic growth known as the “demographic dividend”.

  • In 2018, for the first time in history, persons aged 65 years or over worldwide outnumbered children under age five. This shows the issue of ageing population. The falling proportion of working-age population that is putting pressure on social protection systems; and migration has become a major component of population change in some countries.

  • Life expectancy at birth for the world’s population reached 72.6 years in 2019, an improvement of more than 8 years since 1990. Further improvements in survival are projected to result in an average length of life globally of around 77.1 years in 2050.

  • Total fertility has fallen markedly over recent decades in many countries, such that half of all people globally live in a country or area where lifetime fertility is below 2.1 live births per woman. In 2019, fertility remains above this level, on average, in sub-Saharan Africa (4.6 live births per woman), Oceania excluding Australia and New Zealand (3.4), Northern Africa and Western Asia (2.9), and Central and Southern Asia (2.4).

  • In some parts of the world, international migration has become a major component of population change.

 

About India

 
  • India is expected to add nearly 273 million people between 2019 and 2050. Current projections indicate that India will surpass China as the world’s most populous country around 2027.

  • Around 40 per cent of the world’s population lives in intermediate-fertility countries, where women have on average between 2.1 and four births over a lifetime. Intermediate-fertility countries are found in many regions, with the largest being India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Mexico, the Philippines and Egypt.

  • Moving from geographical areas to age cohorts, India is still among the countries where the working-age population (25-64 years) is growing faster than other groups, creating an opportunity for accelerated economic growth. However, the “demographic dividend” will peak by 2047 in the region, meaning that countries such as India must rush to invest in education and health, especially for young people.

  • A high population with no jobs may become a threat to the economy and the current challenges will become harder.

 

Hence as India is poised to soon become the world’s most populous country, government should invest more in health, education and women empowerment as they are the key contributors both to slowing down population growth and accelerating development.

Investing in a skilled health workforce can both draw dividend from the youth segment while meeting the health needs of the elderly not only in India but across the world.

 

India was the first country in the world to launch a national programme, emphasizing family planning to the extent necessary for reducing birth rates to stabilize the population at a level consistent with the requirement of national economy in 1952.



 


 

Title

4. Uptick for India on sanitation in UN report (The Hindu, Page-01)

Syllabus

GS Paper II: Social Issues

Theme

Sanitation in India

Highlights

Why in News

The Joint Monitoring Programme report, Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2000-2017: Special focus on inequalities by UNICEF and the World Health Organization recently reported that-

  • India has made great gains in providing basic sanitation facilities since the start of the millennium, accounting for almost two thirds of the 650 million people globally who stopped practising open defecation between 2000 and 2017.

  • India has increased the percentage of its population with access to a protected drinking water source less than 30 minutes away, from 79% in 2000 to 93% in 2017.

  • India’s Swachh Bharat mission has been an example and inspiration to other countries, especially in Africa, but also East and South Asia.

Concerns Raised in Report –

  • While significant progress has been made towards achieving universal access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene, there are huge gaps in the quality of services provided.

  • Some 2.2 billion people around the world do not have safely managed drinking water services, 4.2 billion people do not have safely managed sanitation services, and 3 billion lack basic handwashing facilities.

  • In India, there has been absolutely no growth in the population with access to piped water facilities over that period (the percentage of households getting piped water has remained stagnant at 44% over the 17-year period).

  • Only 30% of the India’s wastewater is treated at plants providing at least secondary treatment, in comparison to an 80% global average.

  • Large inequalities remain between rural and urban areas.

About the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP)

The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene is the official United Nations mechanism tasked with monitoring country, regional and global progress, and especially toward the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets relating to universal and equitable access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. The JMP is an authoritative source of internationally comparable estimates which reference to make policy decisions and resource allocations, especially at the international level.


 

Title

5. Indian Grey Wolf(The Hindu, Page-09)

Syllabus

Prelims: Environment and Biodiversity

Theme

About Grey Wolf

Highlights

Details:

The Indian Wolf (Canis lupus pallipes), is a subspecies of grey wolf.

 

Distribution

The Indian wolf inhabits areas dominated by scrub, grasslands and semi-arid pastoral agro-ecosystems; however, in the eastern parts of its range extending across parts of Odisha, Bihar and West-Bengal they are known to inhabit moister low density forested habitats.

 

Protection status

The IUCN Redlist has listed it as a species of least concern

The Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 in view of the threats faced by the animal across its range in India places it in Schedule I Part I

It is also in appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

 

Wildlife protection act 1972 has six schedules which give varying degrees of protection. 

Schedule I and part II of Schedule II provide absolute protection - offences under these are prescribed the highest penalties.

Species listed in Schedule III and Schedule IV are also protected, but the penalties are much lower. 

Schedule V includes the animals which may be hunted. 

Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP):

 

ContextIndian Coast Guard (ICG) will be co-hosting 12th Capacity Building workshop with Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) Information Sharing Centre (ISC).

 

About ReCAAP:

  • The ReCAAP is the first regional Government-to-Government agreement to deal with piracy and armed robbery at sea in Asia.
  • Presently 20 countries are members of ReCAAP. India played an active role in the setting up and functioning of ReCAAPISC along with Japan and Singapore.
  • Union Government has designated ICG as the focal point within India for ReCAAP.
  • Information sharing, capacity building and mutual legal assistance are the three pillars of co-operation under the ReCAAP agreement.
  • An ISC has been established at Singapore to collate and disseminate the information among the contracting parties and the maritime community.

 


Relevant articles from various news sources:

 

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

 

2019 Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Highlights and significance of the report, concerns over increased arms trade and need for their regulation, about NEW START policy.

 

Context: The 2019 Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which is part-funded by the Swedish government, was recently released.

 

Key findings:

  • Worldwide total of nuclear warheads has decreased since 2018 but countries are modernising their nuclear arsenals.
  • Nine nuclear-armed countries (including India) had a total of some 13,865 nuclear weapons at the start of 2019, which is a decrease of 600 nuclear weapons from 14,465 at the start of 2018.
  • Figures for North Korea were not added to the total on account of uncertainty.
  • The report separately counts “deployed warheads” (warheads placed on missiles or located on bases with operational forces) and “other warheads” (stored or reserve warheads and retired warheads awaiting dismantlement). For India, it gives a figure of 130-140 “other warheads” in 2019, the same as in 2018.
  • The decrease is mainly attributed to Russia and the US—which together still account for over 90 per cent of all nuclear weapons—further reducing their strategic nuclear forces pursuant to the implementation of the 2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START)while also making unilateral reductions.
  • However, both Russia and the US have extensive and expensive programmes under way to replace and modernize their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft delivery systems, and nuclear weapon production facilities.

 

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute:

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) established in 1966 is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.

Based in Stockholm the Institute provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.

 

About New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty):

It is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation with the formal name of Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms.

It was signed on 8 April 2010 in Prague, and, after ratification entered into force on 5 February 2011.

New START replaced the Treaty of Moscow (SORT), which was due to expire in December 2012. Its name is a follow-up to the START I treaty, which expired in December 2009, the proposed START II treaty, which never entered into force, and the START III treaty, for which negotiations were never concluded.

 

Under terms of the treaty:

  • The number of strategic nuclear missile launchers will be reduced by half.
  • A new inspection and verification regime will be established, replacing the SORT mechanism.
  • The number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads is limited to 1,550, which is down nearly two-thirds from the original START treaty, as well as 10% lower than the deployed strategic warhead limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty.
  • It will also limit the number of deployed and non-deployed inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments to 800. The number of deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments is limited to 700.

 

Timeline to meet these Targets:

These obligations must be met within seven years from the date the treaty enters into force. The treaty will last ten years, with an option to renew it for up to five years upon agreement of both parties.

Sources: down to earth.


Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Issues related to health.

 

AWaRe- a WHO tool for safer use of antibiotics

What to study?

For prelims: about AWaRe and it’s key features.

For mains: antibiotic resistance, causes, effects and concerns.

 

Context: WHO launches tool for safer use of antibiotics, curb resistance- AWaRe.

 

About AWaRe:

It is an online tool aimed at guiding policy-makers and health workers to use antibiotics safely and more effectively.

The tool, known as ‘AWaRe’, classifies antibiotics into three groups:

  1. Access  — antibiotics used to treat the most common and serious infections.
  2. Watch   — antibiotics available at all times in the healthcare system.
  3. Reserve — antibiotics to be used sparingly or preserved and used only as a last resort.

 

Concerns:

  • Antibiotic resistance is already one of the biggest health risks and is estimated to kill 50 million by 2050 worldwide.
  • The threat continues to escalate globally because more than 50 per cent of antibiotics in many countries are used inappropriately such as for treatment of viruses when they only treat bacterial infections or use of the wrong (broader spectrum) antibiotic.
  • Besides, reduced access to effective and appropriate antibiotics in many low- and middle-income countries contributes to childhood deaths and lack of funding and implementation of national plans to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

 

Factors underlying the problem:

The factors underlying the problem of suboptimal antibiotic use are complex, but include, among others, lack of knowledge and awareness of the problem by prescribers and the public, diagnostic uncertainty due to limitations of actual diagnostic tests and insufficient diagnostic capacities, lack of access to evidence-based treatment guidelines taking into account local epidemiology, lack of access to data reflecting the quality of antibiotic prescribing and use, preference for dispensing large spectrum antibiotics even when narrow spectrum alternatives are available).

 

Need of the hour:

With the emergence of infections that are untreatable by all classes of antibiotics, antimicrobial resistance has become “an invisible pandemic”.

In the absence of development of new drugs, “we must safeguard these precious last-line antibiotics to ensure we can still treat and prevent serious infections”.

 

Sources: down to earth.


Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Report Defending In Numbers

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: key findings, concerns and measures needed.

 

Context: The biennial report, titled Defending In Numbers, has been released by the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUMā€ASIA).

The report documented 688 cases of violations and abuses affecting 4,854 people — including human rights organisations, local communities and media outlets — across 18 countries in the continent between 2017 and 2018.

 

Most common forms of violation were:

  1. Judicial harassment (327 cases).
  2. (Arbitrary) arrest and detention (249 cases).
  3. Violence (164 cases).

 

Key findings:

  • Asia continues to be a dangerous place for defenders of human and environment rights, even after 20 years of United Nations Declaration on Human right defenders (HRDs).
  • Across Asia, HRDs are threatened, harassed, persecuted, and at times killed for promoting and protecting human rights.
  • Fifty per cent of the total 688 cases in the year have been against those fighting for the cause of democracy and access to land and environmental rights
  • Over 210 cases were against pro-democracy defenders — the most targeted group of HRDs. Between 2017 and 2018, pro-democracy defenders were harshly targeted with violations such as: judicial harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, and violence, six of which resulted in the death of the defender.
  • This was followed by land and environmental right activists — fighting to access natural resources.
  • The activists include indigenous and tribal peoples, farming and peasant groups and other local communities, whose land, life, and livelihoods are threatened by the exploitation of the environment and the establishment of development projects that violate people’s rights.
  • State actors such as the police, the judiciary and armed forces were ranked as the number one perpetrator of harassment and abuse against HRDs, the report stated.
  • Besides, the role of non-state actors in harassing land and environmental defenders was increasingly common between 2017 and 2018.
  • This primarily includes businesses and corporations in the mining and extractives industries and agri-businesses, which are competing to access natural resources for profit or otherwise seeking to implement large-scale development projects with little regard for its impact on the surrounding communities or environment.

 

Need of the hour:

  1. As development projects proliferate and the competition for natural resources increase, the situation of activists fighting for the cause of environment is expected to worsen unless measures are established for their protection.
  2. According to the United Nations mandated Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 16) states must protect fundamental freedoms in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.
  3. The human costs associated with these attacks on HRDs cannot be easily quantified but if states do not take requisite actions to halt this onslaught, key targets of Agenda 2030 will be missed.
  4. There is need for action to be taken by various stakeholders in order to create a safer and more enabling environment for these defenders.
  5. The report also calls upon the corporations to comply with the guiding principles for business and human rights while implementing the United Nations ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’framework and other international human rights standards. 
  6. It has also asked the government to ensure that all laws comply with international human rights standards and the judicial processes remain just and transparent.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Issues related to health.

 

Anthrax

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Anthrax- causes, effects, symptoms and prevention.

 

Context: DRDO, JNU scientists develop more potent Anthrax vaccine. Claim new vaccine superior than existing ones as it can generate immune response to anthraxtoxin as well as spores.

 

About anthrax:

Anthrax is a disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a germ that lives in soil.

It affects animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats more often than people. People can get anthrax from contact with infected animals, wool, meat, or hides. It can cause three forms of disease in people.

 

Spread:

Anthrax does not spread directly from one infected animal or person to another; it is spread by spores. These spores can be transported by clothing or shoes.

 

Symptoms & Infection:

  • In most cases, symptoms develop within seven days of exposure to the bacteria. The one exception is inhalation anthrax, which may take weeks after exposure before symptoms appear.
  • Respiratory infection in humans initially presents with cold or flu-like symptoms for several days, followed by pneumonia and severe (and often fatal) respiratory collapse.
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) infection in humans is most often caused by consuming anthrax-infected meat and is characterized by serious GI difficulty, vomiting of blood, severe diarrhea, acute inflammation of the intestinal tract, and loss of appetite.
  • Cutaneous anthrax, also known as Hide porter’s disease, is the cutaneous (on the skin) manifestation of anthrax infection in humans. It presents as a boil-like skin lesion that eventually forms an ulcer with a black center (eschar).

 

Exposure:

  • Occupational exposure to infected animals or their products (such as skin, wool, and meat) is the usual pathway of exposure for humans. Workers who are exposed to dead animals and animal products are at the highest risk, especially in countries where anthrax is more common.
  • It does not usually spread from an infected human to a noninfected human. But, if the disease is fatal to the person’s body, its mass of anthrax bacilli becomes a potential source of infection to others and special precautions should be used to prevent further contamination. Inhalational anthrax, if left untreated until obvious symptoms occur, may be fatal.
  • Anthrax can be contracted in laboratory accidents or by handling infected animals or their wool or hides.

 

Treatment:

The standard treatment for anthrax is a 60-day course of an antibiotic. Treatment is most effective when started as soon as possible.

Although some cases of anthrax respond to antibiotics, advanced inhalation anthrax may not. By the later stages of the disease, the bacteria have often produced more toxins than drugs can eliminate.

 

Use in Bioterrorism:

Anthrax has been used in biological warfare by agents and by terrorists to intentionally infect.

It was spread in US through a mail. It killed 5 people and made 22 sick.

 

Sources: down to earth.


Paper 1:

Topics covered:

  1. population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

 

World Population Projections 2019

 

What to study?

For prelims: Key findings of the report.

For mains: concerns raised, challenges associated and measures necessary to tackle the population growth.

 

ContextWorld Population Prospects 2019 has been released by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

 

 

Key findings:

India specific:

  • India will overtake China as the most populous country by around 2027.
  • India is also expected to add 273 million people by 2050 and will remain the most populated until the end of the century.
  • India leads the set of nine countries that will make up for more than half the projected growth of the global population by 2050.
  • Top five: India is expected to remain the world’s most populous country with nearly 1.5 billion inhabitants, followed by China at 1.1 billion, Nigeria with 733 million, the United States with 434 million, and Pakistan with an estimated population of 403 million.

 

Global scenario:

  • The global population is projected to increase by another 2 billion people by 2050, from 7.7 billion in 2019 to 9.7 billion thirty years down the line.
  • Between now and 2050, 55 countries are estimated to see their populations shrink by at least one per cent.
  • Incidentally, since 2010, 27 countries have recorded a minimum one per cent reduction in population. This trend of a growing number of countries experiencing a decline in population has been attributed to sustained low levels of fertility and, in some cases, high rates of emigration.
  • In China, the largest of these 55 countries, the population is projected to shrink by as much as 2.2 per cent or 31.4 million by 2050.
  • Overall, the world’s population is ageing, with the age group of 65 and above growing at such a fast rate that by 2050, one in six people in the world will be part of it as compared to one in 11 in 2019. By the end of the century, the world population is set to peak at a level of about 11 billion.
  • Life expectancy: Although overall life expectancy will increase (from 64.2 years in 1990 to 77.1 years in 2050), life expectancy in poorer countries is projected to continue to lag behind.
  • Sex ratio: Males are projected to continue to outnumber females until the end of the century, but the gap will close.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Facebook’s new cryptocurrency- Libra

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: various cryptocurrencies, their uses, concerns over their regulation and issues associated.

 

ContextFacebook has announced a digital currency called Libra that will roll out for use in 2020 and allow the platform’s billions of users across the globe to make financial transactions online.

 

What is Libra?

Facebook says Libra is a “global currency and financial infrastructure”. In other words, it is a digital asset built by Facebook and powered by a new Facebook-created version of blockchain, the encrypted technology used by bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

 

Why is it called Libra?

The name Libra comes from the basic Roman measurement of weight. The abbreviation lb for pound is derived from Libra, and the £ symbol originally comes from an ornate L in Libra.

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