Current Affairs 18th January, 2019

Paper 1 and 2:

Topics Covered:

  • Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.

World Dynamic City 2019

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What to read?

Prelims: JLL’s City Momentum Index- features and key facts.

Mains: Significance and findings of the survey, challenges for cities and measures to fulfil them.

 6th City Momentum Index has been released by JLL.

 What is JLL’s City Momentum Index?

  • It measures momentum for 131 of the world’s most commercially active cities.

  • This is done by tracking a range of socio-economic and commercial real estate indicators over a three-year period to identify the urban economies and real estate markets undergoing the most rapid expansion.

  • Silicon Valley of India, Bengaluru has emerged as the world’s most dynamic city.

Analysis:

The absence of European and American cities demonstrates a marked East-West growth divide, reflecting Asia’s continued rapid urbanization and economic growth, driven by globalization, innovation and demographic factors.

Overall, Indian and Chinese cities dominate the rankings, accounting for three quarters of the top 20.

Key drivers of growth: Asia continues to show strong momentum, in terms of attracting capital, companies and people. Tech sector is a key driver of both real estate and economic momentum–driven by large technology firms as well as dynamic start-ups.

Challenges

Investing in infrastructure and greater transparency is essential. The cities need to address the environmental and social impacts of rapid growth such as social inequality, congestion and environmental degradation.

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  • Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

  • Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

SC Dismisses pleas on Appointment of DGPs

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What to study?

Prelims: Appointment of DGPs- role of UPSC.

Mains: Issues related and views of Supreme Court.

 The Supreme Court has dismissed the pleas of the states of Punjab, Kerala, West Bengal, Haryana and Bihar which sought implementation of their local laws regarding the selection and appointment of DGPs.

  • Supreme Court held that the directions of the court on selection and appointment of DGPs were issued in larger public interest and to protect the police officials from political interference.

 Directions issued by the Supreme Court in appointing DGPs:

  • States and Union Territories shall send names of senior police officers to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for being considered as probable candidates for the post of DGPs or police commissioners.

  • The UPSC would then prepare a list of three most suitable candidates out of the list of names sent by states and Union Territories.

  • The states are free to appoint any one of them as the police chief.

It is mandatory for the states to send the list of senior police officers to the UPSC at least three months prior to the retirement of the incumbent. The UPSC would then form a committee and intimate the state concerned, which in turn will immediately appoint one of the persons from among that list.

Paper 2

Topics Covered

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

National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (2018-2023)

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What to read?

Prelims: Key features of the draft.

Mains: The problem of drug and substance abuse in the country- concerns, challenges and need for a robust policy.

 The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has drafted National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (2018-2023) for addressing the problem of drug and substance abuse in the country, dumping a long-pending draft policy on the matter.

The components of the National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (2018-2023) are

Aim: employ a multi-pronged strategy involving education, de-addiction and rehabilitation of affected individuals and their families to address the issue.

Focus on preventive education, awareness generation, counselling, treatment and rehabilitation of drug-dependent people, besides training and capacity-building of service providers through the collaborative efforts of the Centre, state and NGOs.

Involvement of stakeholders: Coordination with implementing agencies for controlling the sale of sedatives, painkillers and muscle relaxant drugs, holding awareness generation programmes and checking online sale of drugs by stringent monitoring by the cyber cell are proposed under the Action Plan.

Awareness generation through social, print, digital and online media, and engagement of celebrities, besides strengthening the national toll-free helpline for drug prevention. The Action Plan calls for persuading principals, directors, vice chancellors of educational institutions to ensure that no drugs are sold within/nearby the campus.

Increase community participation and public cooperation in the reduction of demand by involving Panchayati Raj institutions, Urban Local Bodies, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan and other local groups like Mahila Mandals, self-help groups etc to tackle the menace of drugs.

A steering committee would be constituted under the chairmanship of the secretary, Social Justice Ministry, and with representatives from several other Ministries to monitor the implementation of the Action Plan.

Drug menace:

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India is vulnerable to narcotic drug trafficking as it is located between two largest Opium producing regions of the world i.e. Golden Crescent in the west and Golden Triangle in the east. Drug trafficking and abuse also pose serious threat to our societies.

Estimates suggest that there are 40 lakh drug addicts in the country. The most common drugs of abuse are ‘ganja’, ‘hashish’, ‘opium’ and ‘heroin’. The abuse of pharmaceutical preparations like ‘buprenorphine’, codeine based cough syrups and painkillers like ‘proxivon’ has also assumed serious proportions. In certain regions of the country, drug abuse has already become a severe social-economic problem affecting the vulnerable age groups.

What has the government done in this regard?

The Government has taken several policy and other initiatives to deal with drug trafficking problem.

  • It constituted Narco-Coordination Centre (NCORD) in November, 2016 and revived the scheme of “Financial Assistance to States for Narcotics Control”.

  • In 2017, the government approved new Reward Guidelines with increased quantum of reward for interdiction or seizure of different illicit drugs.

  • For effective coordination with foreign countries, India has signed 37 Bilateral Agreements/Memoranda of Understanding.

  • Narcotics Control Bureau has been provided funds for developing a new software i.e. Seizure Information Management System (SIMS) which will create a complete online database of drug offences and offenders.

  • The government has constituted a fund called “National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse” to meet the expenditure incurred in connection with combating illicit traffic in Narcotic Drugs; rehabilitating addicts, and educating public against drug abuse, etc.

  • The government is also conducting National Drug Abuse Survey to measure trends of drug abuse in India through Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment with the help of National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of AIIMS.

Probable Mains Question

India is vulnerable to narcotic drug trafficking. Critically examine its causes. Also comment on the role of Government in combating drug problem.

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  • Issues related to health.

Kyasanur Forest Disease

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What to read?

Prelims and Mains: The disease- symptoms, causes, spread, treatment and prevention.

 Karnataka is currently reeling under an outbreak of monkey fever or Kyasanur forest disease (KFD). Authorities are taking measures, including vaccination to combat the disease and spread of it in the state.

About the Disease:

KFD is caused by the Kyasanur Forest Disease Virus (KFDV). The virus was identified in 1957 when it was isolated from a sick monkey from the Kyasanur Forest. Since then, between 400-500 humans cases per year have been reported.

Hard ticks (Hemaphysalis spinigera) are the reservoir of the KFD virus and once infected, remain so for life.

Rodents, shrews, and monkeys are common hosts for KFDV after being bitten by an infected tick. KFDV can cause epizootics with high fatality in primates.

 Transmission:

  • Transmission to humans may occur after a tick bite or contact with an infected animal, most importantly a sick or recently dead monkey. No person-to-person transmission has been described.

  • The disease as of now is stated to be transmitted through monkeys. Large animals such as goats, cows, and sheep may become infected with KFD but play a limited role in the transmission of the disease.

  • These animals provide the blood meals for ticks and it is possible for infected animals with viremia to infect other ticks, but transmission of KFDV to humans from these larger animals is extremely rare. Furthermore, there is no evidence of disease transmission via the unpasteurised milk of any of these animals.

 Symptoms:

  • After an incubation period of 3-8 days, the symptoms of KFD begin suddenly with chills, fever, and headache. Severe muscle pain with vomiting, gastrointestinal symptoms and bleeding problems may occur 3-4 days after initial symptom onset. Patients may experience abnormally low blood pressure, and low platelet, red blood cell, and white blood cell counts.

  • After 1-2 weeks of symptoms, some patients recover without complication. However, the illness is biphasic for a subset of patients (10-20 %) who experience a second wave of symptoms at the beginning of the third week. These symptoms include fever and signs of neurological manifestations, such as severe headache, mental disturbances, tremors, and vision deficits.

Vulnerable Group:

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  • People with recreational or occupational exposure to rural or outdoor settings (e.g., hunters, herders, forest workers, farmers) are potentially at risk for infection by contact with infected ticks.

  • Seasonality is another important risk factor as more cases are reported during the dry season, from November through June.

Diagnosis:

Diagnosis can be made in the early stage of illness by molecular detection by PCR or virus isolation from blood. Later, serologic testing using enzyme-linked immunosorbent serologic assay (ELISA) can be performed.

 Prevention:

Doctors say there is no specific treatment for KFD, but early hospitalisation and supportive therapy is important. Supportive therapy includes the maintenance of hydration and the usual precautions for patients with bleeding disorders.

  • A vaccine does exist for KFD and is used in endemic areas of India. Additional preventative measures include insect repellents and wearing protective clothing in areas where ticks are endemic.

Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  • Science and Technology – developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Saksham 2019

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 Saksham (Sanrakshan Kshamta Mahotsav) is an annual flagship event of Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Government of India.

Saksham actively involves the Oil & Gas PSUs along with other stakeholders like State Governments,

  • To create focused attention on fuel conservation through people centric activities and

  • To sensitize the masses about the conservation and efficient use of petroleum products leading to better health and environment.

 About PCRA (established in 1978)–

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  • Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) is a registered society set up under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Government of India.

  • As a non-profit organization, PCRA is a national government agency engaged in promoting energy efficiency in various sectors of economy.

  • PCRA aims at making oil conservation a national movement. As part of its mandate, PCRA is entrusted with the task of creating awareness amongst the masses about the importance, methods and benefits of conserving petroleum products & emission reduction.

  • It sponsors R&D activities for the development of fuel-efficient equipment / devices and organizes multi-media campaigns for creating mass awareness for the conservation of petroleum products. 

  • To take the message to the people, PCRA uses all possible and effective media for mass communication.

  • To give impetus to the oil conservation movement, PCRA utilizes various platforms like the World environment day, World energy day, various festivals etc.

  • It functions as a Think Tank to the Govt. of India for proposing policies and strategies on petroleum conservation and environment protection aimed at reducing excessive dependence on oil.

  • For the benefit of various target groups of petroleum products, PCRA has developed literature containing simple ready to implement conservation tips and techniques. 

  • Special low cost green leaflets have also been developed to educate the masses on the ill effects of pollution caused due to incomplete combustion and its impact on health.