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Daily Current Affairs

: 14-10-2021 : 60 Minutes

SUBJECT : Internal Security

Tackling Drug Trafficking From Afghanistan

In News 

  • Recently, India-Iran discussed and examined ways and means of mutual cooperation in fighting drug trafficking which accordingly resulted in some positive outcomes.
    • Talks gain importance in view of the recent seizure of around 3,000 kg heroin at the Mundra port.

Implications  illegal production of drugs in Afghanistan

  • The illegal production of drugs in Afghanistan has impacted Iran severely for several decades. 
  • The geographical location of Iran has turned it into a major transit country for illicit drugs. 
    • The drug haul also impacted Iran’s trade as the Adani Group declared that containers from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan will not be handled at the port from November 15.
    • In response to this challenge, the country has built one of the strongest counter-narcotics enforcement capabilities in the region over the years. 
  • The global trade in illicit Afghan opiates has become one of the world's greatest transnational drug and crime threats, with severe consequences for health, governance and security at national, regional and international levels.
    • It is for many decades that narcotic drugs production and organised drug trafficking from Afghanistan has posed a major threat to India and to the world.

Afghan Opiate Trade Project (AOTP) 

  • A dedicated project was established in 2008 to help monitor and achieve a better understanding of the global impact of Afghan opiates.
  • It aims to address the need for systematic, comprehensive and consolidated analytical information about trends in the global illicit Afghan opiate trade in order to support the international response to that issue. 
  • It also aims to enhance the drug research capacity of those countries most affected by Afghan opiates, and increase the awareness of the data and information needed to support research on the opiate trade.

Current Threat as Highlighted in World Drug Report of UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

  • Opium
    • Afghanistan reported a 37% increase in the extent of land used for illicit cultivation of opium poppy during 2020 compared to the previous year.
    • The potential production of over-dry opium was 6,300 tonnes last year compared to 4,000 tonnes in 2009.
  • Heroin 
    • It is manufactured using morphine extracted from opium. 
    • The country accounted for 85% of the global total opium production last year.
  • Methamphetamine
    • The drug is prepared using ephedrine extracted from Ephedra plants in Afghanistan.
    • In neighbouring Iran, the proportion of Afghan-origin methamphetamine seizures increased from less than 10% in 2015 to over 90% in 2019. 
    • The seizures in Afghanistan also increased almost sevenfold that year compared to 2018. 
  • Regions famous for Opium Cultivation in Afghanistan
    • Afghanistan’s southwestern region (Helmand, Kandahar, Nimroz, Uruzgan, and Zabul Provinces) continued to dominate opium-poppy cultivation 
      • It accounted for 68% of the national total in 2020.
  • Pandemic Effect
    • The economic crisis brought on by the pandemic will only increase the appeal of illicit crop cultivation.

Way Ahead

  • Following steps can go a long way in curbing the drug menace in India
    • Sharp vigil, effective surveillance, source-based intelligence, sensitisation of field officials.
    • Public awareness and cooperation.
    • Strict actions against the drug cartels including suppliers, peddlers along with consumers.
    • Psychological help and Counselling Centres are to be established in each block for helping the drug addicts.
    • Keep a Check on Customs and Immigration Points:
      • Any country can not control the happenings of foreign nations but isolate itself by filtering the incoming goods and people.
      • India can upgrade its customs and Immigration management system to closely monitor the influx of drugs.
  • Sealing the porous Land Borders:
    • Few major areas of concern are Nepal, Myanmar and the Pakistan border.
    • Such hotspots must be identified with appropriate intelligence gathering and sealed for future infiltration.

Source: TH

SUBJECT : Indian Economy

PM Gati Shakti-National Master Plan

In News

  • Recently, the Prime Minister launched the PM Gati Shakti-National Master Plan for multi-modal connectivity.

 

 

PM Gati Shakti

  • About:
    • It was announced by the PM on the 75th Independence Day.
    • It is a national master plan for synchronising connectivity infrastructure projects across modes of transport.
    • It will help India realise its dream to become the “business capital” of the world.
    • Aim: Its aim is coordinated planning and execution of infrastructure projects to bring down logistics costs.
  • Focus areas of Project: 
    • It will help raise the global profile of local manufacturers and help them compete with their counterparts worldwide. It also raises possibilities of new future economic zones.
    • It will help India to increase both manufacturing and exports. Every product that is sold globally from India is attached to India.
    • The plan includes 11 industrial corridors, achieving a Rs 1.7 lakh crore turnover in defence production and having 38 electronics manufacturing clusters and 109 pharma clusters by 2024-25.
    • For Railways, the target by 2024-25 is to handle cargo of 1,600 million tonnes from 1,210 million tonnes in 2020, decongesting 51 per cent of the Railway network by completing additional lines and implementation of two Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs).
    • In Civil Aviation, the target is to double the existing aviation footprint to have a total of 220 airports, heliports and water aerodromes by 2025.
  • Importance to quality infra: 
    • It is globally accepted that the creation of quality infrastructure for sustainable development is a proven way, which gives rise to many economic activities and creates employment on a large scale.

Significance

  • Coordinated efforts: It will bring together 16 Ministries including Rail and Roadways, that will help in removing long-standing issues such as disjointed planning, lack of standardisation, problems with clearances, and timely creation and utilisation of infrastructure capacities.
  • Reduce turnaround time: Besides cutting logistics costs, the scheme is also aimed at increasing cargo handling capacity and reducing the turnaround time at ports to boost trade.
  • Silo working reduced: It would address the problem of government departments and Ministries working in silos.
  • Informed: It would also keep entrepreneurs and investors informed about the status of infrastructure projects and help state governments give time-bound commitments to investors.
  • Harness potential: It will be a gamechanger for the industry and would harness the potential of the industry.
  • Resolve historical problems: Its integration with the National Infrastructure Plan will help in resolving the historical problem of delay in project implementation and sporadic development and utilisation of national infrastructure.
  • Whole of the Government Approach: With this approach, the collective power of the government is being channelled into fulfilling the schemes by avoiding delays caused by coordination gaps.
  • Competitive products: It will make Indian products more competitive by cutting down logistic costs and improving supply chains.

Way Ahead

  • Infrastructure development will play an important role in India’s aim to become a $5 trillion economy.
  • India is seeking the use of innovative technology and materials in road construction and is open to adopting guidelines for use of new materials and technology.

Sources: IET

SUBJECT : Polity & Governance

Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021

In News

  • The government has notified new rules related to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021.
    • In this, the gestational limit for termination of a pregnancy has been increased from 20 to 24 weeks for certain categories of women.

Key Highlights of the Amendments

  • Under the new rules, 7 specific categories will be eligible for termination of pregnancy up to 24 weeks: 
    • Survivors of sexual assault or rape or incest;
    • Minors;
    • Change of marital status during the ongoing pregnancy (widowhood and divorce);
    • Women with physical disabilities;
    • Mentally ill women;
    • Foetal malformation that has a substantial risk of being incompatible with life or if the child is born, he/ she may suffer from serious physical or mental abnormalities; and
    • Women with pregnancy in humanitarian settings or disaster or emergency situations.

 

Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 2021

  • It amended the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.
  • Salient features of amendments:
    • Enhancing the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for special categories of women.
      • It will be defined in the amendments to the MTP Rules later.
      • It would include survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women (like differently-abled women, minors) etc.
    • Opinion of only 1 provider will be required up to 20 weeks of gestation and of 2 providers for termination of pregnancy of 20-24 weeks of gestation.
    • Upper gestation limit not to apply in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by the Medical Board
      • The composition, functions and other details of the Medical Board to be prescribed subsequently in Rules under the Act.
    • Name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated shall not be revealed except to a person authorised in any law for the time being in force.
    • The ground of failure of contraceptives has been extended to women and their partners.

Benefits of the Act

  • Expand access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds. 
  • Increase upper gestation limit for termination of pregnancy under certain conditions
  • Strengthen access to comprehensive abortion care, under strict conditions, without compromising service and quality of safe abortion.
  • Lesser harassment to rape victims
  • Reproductive rights of women restored

 

Comparison from the earlier MTP 2021

Medical termination of Pregnancy Act 2021

The new Amendment

  • Earlier, abortion required the opinion of
    • 1 doctor if done within 20 weeks of conception and 
    • 2 doctors if done between 20 and 24 weeks. 
  • Earlier Abortion in between 20 to  24 weeks was allowed but only for very few sections.
  • It has broadened the categories of women who can go for MTP till 24 weeks.
  • According to the new rules, a state-level medical board will be set up to decide 
    • if pregnancy may be terminated beyond 20 months till 24 months.
  • Such a decision can be taken by the medical board only after 
    • due consideration and 
    • ensuring that the procedure would be safe for the woman.
    • The time frame available to the Medical Board is 3 days.

Conclusion and Way Ahead

  • More Empowering to the Women:
    • Now the extra window of 4 weeks will help reduce the judicial cases apart from giving effect to Right to Choice.
  • Justice K.S.Puttaswamy (Retd.) vs. the Union Of India And Others:
    • In this case, Justice Chandrachud stated that 
      • the reproductive choice is personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian constitution, which, 
        • despite laying a robust jurisprudence on reproductive rights and the privacy of a woman, 
          • does not translate into a fundamental shift in power from the doctor to the woman seeking an abortion.
    • Thus, abortion remains tied to the state-sanctioned conditionalities and not the rights of the woman.
  • Need to remove Overarching qualifiers and conditionalities:
    • The original bill has multiple undefined vague qualifiers like ‘grave injury to her physical or mental health or severe physical or mental abnormality of the fetus.
    • Due to these, the woman’s agency ends up taking a backseat, requiring validation from the law at every stage in the way.
    • This needs to be undone in future amendments.

Source: IE

SUBJECT : Modern History

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

In News

  • Recently, a book named “Veer Savarkar: The Man Who Could Have Prevented Partition” was released. 

About Vinayak Damodar Savarkar 

  • Early Life: 
    • He was born in a Hindu Marathi family in Nashik, Maharashtra on May 28, 1883. 
    • He was nicknamed ‘Veer’ for his courage from an early age.
    • He, popularly known as Swatantryaveer Savarkar,
    • He was a freedom fighter, politician, lawyer, writer, social reformer, and institutor of Hindutva ideology. 
    • He was heavily influenced by his older brother Ganesh Savarkar. 
  • Contribution in Freedom Struggle: 
    • Propagated the idea of Swadeshi:
      • Savarkar was against foreign goods and propagated the idea of Swadeshi. In 1905, he burnt all the foreign goods in a bonfire on Dussehra.
    • Armed revolt against British; 
      • He was arrested in 1909 on charges of plotting an armed revolt against the Morley-Minto reform. In 1910, he was arrested over his association with the revolutionary group India House. 
      • He was sentenced to two life sentences i.e. 50 years in the cellular jail of Andamans, also known as Kala Pani, in 1911.
      • He was released in 1924 under strict conditions of not participating in politics for 5 years.
    • Formation of Mitra Mela:
      • In his teenage years, Savarkar formed a youth organization. Known as Mitra Mela (Group of Friends), this organization was put into place to bring in national and revolutionary ideas.
    • Untouchability: 
      • He started one of the most powerful social reform movements against untouchability in India”, He built the Patit Pavan Mandir in the Ratnagiri district to allow entry to all Hindus, including Dalits.
    • Writings: 
      • He wrote 'The Indian War of Independence, 1857' during his jail time.
      • In the book, he indicated the view that the Indian Mutiny of 1857 was the first expression of Indian mass rebellion against British colonial rule.
      • He also wrote Hindutva: Who Is a Hindu? coining the term Hindutva (“Hinduness' '), which sought to define Indian culture as a manifestation of Hindu values; this concept grew to become a major tenet of Hindu nationalist ideology.
      • He also founded the two-nation theory in his book ‘Hindutva’ calling Hindus and Muslims two separate nations. In 1937, Hindu Mahasabha passed it as a resolution.
    • Ideology: 
      • He was instrumental in forming the idea of a Hindu nation before Independence. 
      • He also championed atheism and rationality and also disapproved of orthodox Hindu beliefs. He even dismissed cow worship as superstitious.
    • Views on Quit India Movement of 1942:
      • He opposed the Quit India Movement of 1942. 
      • He was accused of having a role in the conspiracy to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi but was later acquitted by the court. 
    • Death:
      • It was in 1964, when Savarkar declared his wish to attain Samadhi and started the hunger strike on February 1, 1966, and passed away on February 26, 1966. 
      • He believed that his purpose in life was solved as India gained Independence.
      • In 2002, Port Blair airport at Andaman and Nicobar Islands was renamed Veer Savarkar International Airport.
    • Book on him: 
      • Historian Vikram Sampath’s concluding volume on the life and works of Veer Savarkar will hit the stands on July 26.
      • The book, titled “Savarkar: A contested Legacy (1924-1966).
    • His views:
  • He was a freedom fighter and staunch nationalist, but people who follow the Marxist and Leninist ideologies are the ones who accuse Savarkar of being a fascist.
  • Savarkar was very forthright in saying that India’s relations with other countries should depend on how conducive they are to India’s security and its interests, irrespective of what kind of government there was
  • Savarkar was India’s first military strategic affairs expert of the 20th century, who gave the country a robust defence and diplomatic doctrine
  • Savarkar’s ideology of Hindutva never suggested differentiation between people on the basis of their culture and “methodology of worshipping god.

Related Organisations

  • Abhinav Bharat Society (Young India Society)(1904):
    • He established a secret organization called Abhinav Bharat Society in 1904 with his brother, Ganesh Damodar Savarkar.
    • He was associated with India House and founded student societies like Free India Society.
  • India House (1905):
    • It was founded by Shyamji Kishan Verma in 1905 in London.
    • It was opened to promote nationalist views among Indian students in London.
  • Free India Society :
    • It was a political organization of Indian students in England, committed to obtaining the independence of India from British rule.
    • Initially an intellectual group, it became a revolutionary outfit under its founding leader, Madam Bhikaji Cama.
  • Hindu Mahasabha: (1933)
    • As the President of the Hindu Mahasabha:
      • He was a nationalist and one of the most important figures of the Hindu Mahasabha ("Great Society of Hindus"), a Hindu nationalist organization and political party.
      • He also served as the President of the Hindu Mahasabha for seven years. He endorsed the idea of a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu nation).

Relevance

  • Vision: 
    • He popularized the term Hinduism (or better known as Hindutva) even when it was very controversial. 
    • The essence of this move was to create a sense of Hindu identity that was predicated on India (Bharat). 
    • His Hindutva was free from Caste Discrimination and other indigenous practices that were breaking Hinduism. 
  • Passion for learning and teaching: 
    • To be a good leader means you must be well-informed and knowledgeable. 
    • Savarkar helped other students understand the struggles of Bharat under the British Occupation and educated others. 
  • Resilience: 
    • Veer Savarkar was confronted with a lot of challenges, but he remained resilient. 
    • He became an author of several books calling for the total independence of India from Britain. 
  • Courage: 
    • Veer Savarkar was so brave that he confronted what was the greatest power on earth at that time – the British Empire. 
    • He boldly called for the total independence of India and even advocated for revolution. He insisted that India must become free. 
    • He opposed Gandhi and other tall leaders of the Indian National Congress to save India from Partition.
  • Pragmatism: 
    • Veer Savarkar was not the best friend of Muslims, but he knew when to team up with them to achieve the same goal. 
    • He demonstrated this in 1939 when he formed a collaboration with the Muslim League and other political parties to take power. 
    • In 1942, Savarkar knew the British army’s presence in India was practically a must-lose situation, and so he opposed the move. 
  • Patience: 
    • Veer Savarkar went through a lot in life, from imprisonment on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to his extradition from the United Kingdom. 
    • However, he took everything in good stride and exhibited the highest levels of patience. 
    • He wrote numerous books and essays while in jail and didn’t lose sight of Hindutva.

Conclusion

  • It is clear that his relentless efforts for the existence of a free and independent country have been very underappreciated. 
  • With the risk and never-ending drive to see a free nation with the values of Hindutva, he truly stands to be a father figure of the nation.

Source: TH

SUBJECT : International Relations

China-Taiwan Tussle

In News

  • Tensions between China and Taiwan have escalated since October 1, when China observes its National Day.
    • 1st October marks the birth of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
  • Coinciding with the 72nd-anniversary celebrations, China flew over 100 fighter jets into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone.
    • It jangled nerves in Taiwan and set off an alarm around the world that it was preparing to take over the island by force.

PRC (China) and ROC (Taiwan): A Brief History

  • Taiwan: The Republic of China:
    • Location: Taiwan, earlier known as Formosa, a tiny island off the east coast of China.
      • East-China Sea, 
      • Northeast of Hong Kong, 
      • North of the Philippines and South of South Korea, 
      • Southwest of Japan. 
    • Thus, What happens in and around Taiwan is of deep concern to all of East Asia
    • Taiwan is largely unrecognised by other countries as such.
    • Though self-ruled Taiwan sees itself as no less than an independent nation
    • Its leaders, including the fiercely pro-independence President Tsai Ing-wen, have vowed to defend its sovereignty against the Chinese goal of “reunification”.
  • 1949: Founding of the PRC
    • Taiwan is the place where Chinese republicans of the Kuomintang government retreated after the 1949 victory of the communists — and it has since continued as the Republic of China (RoC). 
    • October 10 — “double 10”
      • Taiwan observes October 10- “double 10”- as its national day
      • It was on this day in 1911 that sections of the Manchu army rose in rebellion,
      • Ultimately overthrowing the Qing dynasty and ending 4,000 years of the monarchy. 
    • The RoC was declared on December 29, 1911, and it found its feet in the 1920s under the leadership of Dr Sun Yat-sen, founder of the Kuomintang (KMT) Party.
    • Sun’s successor  General Chiang Kai-shek, actions against the Chinese communists
      • who were part of an alliance with the KMT, triggered the civil war that ended in victory for the communists 
      • This led to the retreat of Chiang and the KMT to Taiwan.
    • Since its founding in 1949, the PRC has believed that Taiwan must be reunified with the mainland
    • The RoC became the non-communist frontier against China during the Cold War and was the only ‘China’ recognised at the UN until 1971. 
    • That was when the US inaugurated ties with China through the secret diplomacy of Henry Kissinger, national security adviser to President Richard Nixon.

Formosa Resolution: How is the US involved? 

  • In 1954-55, and in 1958, the PRC bombed the Jinmen, Mazu, and Dachen islands under Taiwan’s control
  • It drew the US. Congress passed the Formosa Resolution authorising President Dwight D Eisenhower to defend RoC territory.
  • In 1955, Premier Zhou En-lai declared at the Bandung Conference that he wanted negotiations with the US. 
    • But civil war broke out in Lebanon in 1958
    • China resumed the bombing, provoking the US to supply Taiwanese outposts on the islands. 
  • The PRC and ROC then arrived at an arrangement to bomb each other’s garrisons on alternate days — this continued until 1971. 
  • The most serious encounter was in 1995-96, when China began testing missiles in the seas around Taiwan, triggering the biggest US mobilisation in the region since the Vietnam War. 
  • The tests led to the re-election in 1996 of President Lee Teng-hui, seen by the Chinese as a pro-independence leader.

 Xi reiterated that Taiwan (map) must reunify with China. (Courtesy: IE)

Independence Politics

  • In 1975, Chiang Kai-shek died, martial law was lifted, and Taiwan got its first democratic reforms. 
  • Starting from the 1990s, and despite the missile crisis, relations between the PRC and RoC improved, and trade ties were established. 
  • As the British prepared to exit Hong Kong in 1999, the “One China, Two Systems” solution was offered to Taiwan as well, but it was rejected by the Taiwanese.
  • In 2000, Taiwan got its first non-KMT government, when the Taiwanese nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the presidency. 
  • In 2004, China started drafting an anti-secession law aimed at Taiwan; trade and connectivity, however, continued to improve.

Present relation between Taiwan and China

  • Today, the two big players in Taiwan’s politics are the DPP and KMT. 
  • The 2016 election of President Tsai marked the onset of a sharp pro-independence phase in Taiwan
  • Taiwan has massive economic interests, including investments in China.
  • Pro-independence sections worry that this might come in the way of their goals. 
  • Inversely, the pro-reunification sections, as well as China, hope that 
    • economic dependence and increasing people-to-people contacts will wear out the pro-independence lobbies.

Current Tensions

  • Last year, amid worsening US-China relations over Covid and trade
    • The US sent its highest-ranking delegation yet to Taipei. 
    • During the visit, the Chinese conducted a military exercise in the Taiwan Strait.
  • In October 2020, President Xi Jinping asked the PLA to prepare for war, triggering an alarm in Taiwan, which read it as an open threat.
  • The US also declared a “rock-solid” commitment to Taiwan.
  • China is assertive about its stand on One China by breaching the air and sea territories of Taiwan since the beginning of this year.

Challenge for the US

  • Taiwan is entirely dependent on the US for its defence against possible Chinese aggression 
    • Thus, every spike in military tensions between China and Taiwan injects more hostility into the already strained relationship between Washington and Beijing.
  • Amidst the rise in tensions, the world is watching the US
    • It’s status as the world’s pre-eminent power has been dented by the messy exit from Afghanistan. 
  • In East and Southeast Asia, several countries like Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines, 
    • Which are sheltered under the protective umbrella of the US, are anticipating their future.
  • The US so far is walking a thin line between pledging support for Taiwan and keeping the lid on tensions with Beijing. 
    • They had agreed to abide by the “Taiwan Agreement”, 
      • Under which US support for the “One China Policy”.

Initiatives against China

  • The AUKUS pact among the US, UK, and Australia, 
    • Under which Australia will be supplied with nuclear submarines, has imparted a new dimension to the security dynamics of the Indo-Pacific. 
    • Taiwan has welcomed the pact, while China has denounced it as seriously undermining regional peace.

Implications for India and Way Forward

India is having border issues with China at the LAC

  • Experts suggest reviewing One China Policy.
    • Though, India uses the policy to make a diplomatic point, 
      • i.e., if India believes in “One China” policy, China should also believe in a “One India” policy.
    • However, India has stopped reiterating this officially since 2010. 
  • Strengthening India and Taiwan relations 
    • Currently maintain “trade and cultural exchange” offices in each other’s capitals. 
    • India has also developed more robust relations with Taiwan to send a message to Beijing.
    • In May 2020, the swearing-in of Tsai was attended virtually by MoS External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi and Rahul Kaswan. 
  • Semiconductor or chip manufacturing plant to India
    • Ongoing talks with Taipei could bring a $7.5-billion semiconductor or chip manufacturing plant to India. 
      • Chips are used in a range of devices from computers to 5G smartphones, to electric cars and medical equipment. 
    • This would give a boost to Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan
    • It would also help to build a safe supply chain for semiconductors.

Source: IE

SUBJECT : Polity and Governance

DBT Launched First ‘One Health’ Project

In News 

  • Recently, the Department of Biotechnology launched the First ‘One Health’ project in post-COVID times. 
    • It envisages carrying out surveillance of important bacterial, viral and parasitic infections of zoonotic (diseases that can spread between animals and humans) as well as transboundary pathogens in India, including the North-eastern part of the country. 

What is One Health Approach?

  • It is an approach to design and implement programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes.
  • It focuses on the interconnectedness of animals, humans and the environment.
  • The areas of work in which a One Health approach is particularly relevant include food safety, the control of zoonoses (diseases that can spread between animals and humans, such as flu, rabies and Rift Valley Fever), and combating antibiotic resistance (when bacteria change after being exposed to antibiotics and become more difficult to treat).

Image Courtesy: Lancet

Need & Significance

  • COVID-19 pandemic showed the relevance of ‘One Health’ principles in the governance of infectious diseases, especially in preventing zoonotic diseases.
  • The risk of infectious agents is crossing the barriers and spreading rapidly around the globe due to increased travel, food habits and trade across borders.
  • Zoonotic diseases have devastating impacts on animals, humans, health systems, and economies, requiring years of social and economic recovery. 
  • Information on influenza viruses circulating in animals is crucial to the selection of viruses for human vaccines for potential influenza pandemics. 
  • Saving lives along with the livelihoods.
  • Drug-resistant microbes can be transmitted between animals and humans through direct contact between animals and humans or through contaminated food, so to effectively contain it, a well-coordinated approach in humans and in animals is required.

Steps by India for One Health Targets

  • India established a National Standing Committee on Zoonoses in the 1980s.
  • In February 2020, funds were allocated for the setting up of the Centre for One Health at Nagpur.
  • Further, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD), under the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, has launched several schemes to mitigate the prevalence of animal diseases since 2015.
    • Under the National Animal Disease Control Programme, Rs. 13,343 crores have been sanctioned for Foot and Mouth disease and Brucellosis control.
    • It will also establish a ‘One Health’ unit within the Ministry.
    • It has partnered with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in the National Action Plan for Eliminating Dog-Mediated Rabies.
      • This initiative is geared towards sustained mass dog vaccinations and public education to render the country free of rabies.
  • The government is revamping Assistance to States for Control of Animal Diseases (ASCAD).
    • ASCAD focuses on capacity building for veterinarians and upgrading the animal health diagnostic system.
  • There is increased focus on vaccination against livestock diseases and backyard poultry and assistance is extended to State biological production units and disease diagnostic laboratories.

Global Efforts

  • The WHO works closely with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to promote multi-sectoral responses to food safety hazards, risks from zoonoses, and other public health threats at the human-animal-ecosystem interface and provide guidance on how to reduce these risks.

Challenges

  • Veterinary manpower shortages.
  • Lack of information sharing between human and animal health institutions.
  • Inadequate coordination on food safety at slaughter, distribution, and retail facilities.
  • Risk of more pandemics as more than 1.7 million viruses circulating in wildlife with potential threats to human health.

Suggestions/Way Forward

  • There is a need for better and strong coordination between all stakeholders and agencies.
  • Existing animal health and disease surveillance systems should be consolidated.
    • The Information Network for Animal Productivity and Health and the National Animal Disease Reporting System are developing best-practice guidelines for informal market and slaughterhouse operation and creating mechanisms to operationalise ‘One Health’ at every stage down to the village level.
  • Awareness generation and increased investments are needed toward meeting ‘One Health’ targets.
  • Many professionals with a range of expertise who are active in different sectors, such as public health, animal health, plant health and the environment, should join forces to support One Health approaches.
    • Government officials, researchers and workers across sectors at the local, national, regional and global levels should implement joint responses to health threats.

Source: DTE

SUBJECT : Facts in News

Cicada Species

In News

  • The discovery of a new cicada species Platyomia kohimaensis in the Naga Hills, Nagaland almost after a century underscores the need for conservation.
    • Naga hills lie within the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot.

Key Points

  • About:
    • Cicadas are hemipteran insects known for their loud, complex and species-specific acoustic signals or songs.
    • Most cicadas are canopy dwellers and are found in natural forests with large trees.
  • Prevalence:
    • The generic diversity of cicadas in India and Bangladesh ranks the highest in the world, followed by China.
    • The periodical cicada Chremistica ribhoi (locally called niangtaser and popular as ‘world cup cicada’) described in 2013 is confined to areas surrounding the Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary in Meghalaya, extending north up to Jirang block in Ri Bhoi district bordering Assam.
    • Their emergence is now confined to only areas adjoining Nongkyllem Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Major Threats:
    • Rapidly diminishing natural habitat due to clearing of forest land and wildfires. 
    • Lack of much conservation support, unlike Butterflies.
  • Uniqueness of Platyomia kohimaensis:
    • The newly discovered cicada sings only in the dusk for a few hours.


Source: DTE

SUBJECT : Facts in News

Climate Resilience Information System and Planning (CRISP-M) Tool

In News

  • Climate Resilience Information System and Planning (CRISP-M) tool for Mahatma Gandhi NREG Scheme has launched recently.
    • Recently, a new portal under “Bhuvan Yuktdhara” was launched to facilitate the planning of new MGNREGA assets using Remote Sensing and GIS-based information.

Key Points

  • The CRISP-M tool will help embed climate information in the GIS-based planning and implementation of Mahatma Gandhi NREGS.
    • Geographical information system (GIS) helped to visualize, analyze and explore such asset-related data and also manage them more effectively along with a better understanding of their impact/outcome. 
  • This tool will be used in seven states wherein the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the Government of the UK and Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India are jointly working towards climate resilience.
  • The states are Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Rajasthan. 

Benefits:

  • The implementation of CRISP-M will open up new possibilities for Rural communities to deal with climate change.
  • It is helping poor and vulnerable people to cope with climate change and protecting them from weather-related disasters.


Source: PIB

SUBJECT : Facts in News

Sela Main Tunnel

In News

  • In a major milestone in providing all-weather connectivity to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh close to the border with China, the BRO carried out the breakthrough blast of the main tube of the Sela tunnel which marks the completion of the excavation process.

Sela Main Tunnel

  • About:
    • The foundation stone for the Sela tunnel was laid by Prime Minister on February 09, 2019.
    • It will provide connectivity between Guwahati in Assam and Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh through the Balipara-Chariduar-Tawang Road
    • It is being constructed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) under Project Vartak.
    • This tunnel is constructed using the latest New Austrian Tunneling Method is much below the snow line allowing all-weather travel without the challenges of snow clearance.
  • Significance:
    • It will reduce the distance and travel time, ensure speedier movement across the Sela Pass and ensure connectivity even during winter.
    • It will strengthen national security.
  • This tunnel will work to strengthen the socio-economic condition of the citizens by bringing a big change in the transport facility of the local population. 


Source: TH

SUBJECT : Facts in News

China Biodiversity Fund

In News 

  • Recently, China has announced the launch of a 1.5 billion yuan ($232.47 million) fund to support biodiversity protection in developing countries.

About

  • Its pledge came as delegates from about 195 countries gathered in the southern Chinese city of Kunming for the first of a two-part summit on safeguarding plants, animals and ecosystems.
  • The summit aims to establish a new accord setting out targets for 2030 and 2050.
  • It will provide a much-needed boost for the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
  • It aims to protect biodiversity in developing countries during a key UN conservation summit, despite disagreements among major donors on the initiative.
  • ‘30 by 30’ agenda:
    • A key proposal being debated at the conference is the “30 by 30” agenda that would afford 30% of the Earth’s land and oceans protected status by 2030.

Major Global Efforts to Tackle Climate Change

  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was created in 1992 as the main forum for international action on climate change. 195 countries have joined the international agreement (known as a convention).
    • It holds negotiations focus on four key areas:
      • Mitigating (reducing) greenhouse gas emissions.
      • Adapting to climate change.
      • Reporting of national emissions.
      • Financing of climate action in developing countries.
    • It commits all signatory nations to formulate, implement, publish and update measures to prepare for the impacts of climate change, known as ‘adaptation’. 
    • In 2010, the Cancun Adaptation Framework was adopted and it was agreed that adaptation must be given the same priority as mitigation.
      • The framework calls for further action on adaptation including reducing vulnerability and increasing resilience to climate change in developing countries.
  • The Paris Agreement is a landmark agreement as it brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, for the first time.
    • It was adopted by 196 parties at Conference of Parties (COP) 21 in Paris, in December 2015 and entered into force in November 2016.
      • COP is the supreme decision-making body of the UNFCCC and all States that are Parties to the Convention are represented at the COP.
      • A key task for the COP is to review the national communications and emission inventories submitted by Parties. The COP meets every year unless the Parties decide otherwise.
  • The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
    • It is intrinsically linked to all 16 of the other Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • Major G20 Environment Related Initiatives:
  • Global Coral Reef Research and Development Accelerator Platform to accelerate scientific knowledge and technology development in support of coral reef survival, conservation, resilience, adaptation and restoration.
  • Circular Carbon Economy (CCE) Platform as a tool towards affordable, reliable, and secure energy and economic growth.

India's Initiatives for Tackling Climate Change

  • India has made remarkable commitments to tackle climate change and is on track to achieve its Paris Agreement targets.
  • India’s renewable energy capacity is the fourth largest in the world.
  • India has an ambitious target of achieving 450 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2030.
  • Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), announced in 2017 to pool best practices and resources from around the world for reshaping construction, transportation, energy, telecommunication and water.
  • The India-France joint initiative of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) with an aim to reduce carbon footprint.
  • Various National Schemes like National Action Plan on Climate Change, National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), National Biofuel Policy, etc.

Source: TH

SUBJECT : Facts in News

Flower Scorpionfish

In News 

  • Recently, Flower scorpionfish has been found in Digha, West Bengal and Paradip in Odisha.

Image courtesy :DTE

About Flower scorpionfish

  • It is also known as Hoplosebastes Armatus and it belongs to the order of ray-finned fish that is also known as Scorpaeniforme
  • It was discovered in the Pacific Ocean off Japan almost a century ago in 1929.
  • A unique, lesser-known fish species that was till now thought to be found only in the Pacific Ocean has been found in the Indian Ocean too. 
  • The two specimens of Hoplosebastes were collected by scientists from the harbour of Digha in West Bengal’s Purba Medinipur on February 12, 2019.
    • Two years after that discovery, scientists collected 22 other specimens from the waters off Paradeep in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district on October 13, 2021.
    • The length of the species ranged from 75-127 mm, while its body width was from 14-22 mm. The head of the species was comparatively large and greater than the body.


Source: DTE

SUBJECT : Facts in News

Kunming Declaration

In Context 

  • The UN Biodiversity Conference began on October 11, 2021, and will conclude on October 24. 
    • It was originally scheduled to take place from 15-28 October 2020 in Kunming, China but was postponed several times due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

About 

  • The declaration, titled ‘Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth’, represents the outcome of the high-level segment of Part One of COP15  (the fifteenth Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity).
  • It aims to demonstrate ministers’ political will to address the biodiversity crisis.

About Kunming Declaration

  • The Kunming Declaration was adopted by over 100 countries on October 13, 2021, at the first part of the ongoing virtual 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. 
  • It calls upon the parties to mainstream” biodiversity protection in decision-making and recognises the importance of conservation in protecting human health.
  • By adopting this, the nations have committed themselves to support the development, adoption and implementation of an effective post-2020 implementation plan, capacity building action plan for the Cartagena Protocol on biosafety.
  • Kunming Declaration acknowledges that the aim of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework should be to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. 
  • The adoption of the declaration will create momentum for a new global biodiversity pact.
  • This declaration is a reflection of the political will of all parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.


Source: DTE