9th March, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Special Category status for states’
(GS2: Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure)
Issue: Upping the ante in their demand for Special Category Status and more funds for Andhra Pradesh, Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Minister of State for Science and Technology Y.S. Chowdary of the Telugu Desam Party submitted their resignations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
What is Special Category status?
While the Constitution does not have any provision for categorization of any state as a Special Category Status (SCS) State, but considering the fact that some areas in India are historically disadvantaged as compared to others, the Centre has assisted states with funds in the past allocated by the former Planning Commission body called the National Development Council (NDC)
In the past, the NDC considered factors such as difficult and hilly terrain, low population density and/or a sizeable share of tribal population, strategic location along borders, economic and infrastructural backwardness, and non-viable nature of state finances. The NITI Aayog, which has replaced the Planning Commission, has no power to allocate funds- therefore, the discretion that the ruling party at the Centre had to dole out special favors to states through the Plan panel, no longer exists.
The Centre says the Fourteenth Finance Commission effectively removed the concept of Special Category States after its recommendations were accepted in 2015.
The Centre pays 90 per cent of the funds required in a centrally-sponsored scheme to special category status category states as against 60 per cent in case of normal category states, while the remaining funds are provided by the state governments.
The NDC first accorded SCS in 1969 to Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Nagaland. Over the years, eight more states were added to the list — Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tripura and, finally, in 2010, Uttarakhand. Until 2014-15, SCS meant these 11 states received a variety of benefits and sops.
‘Karnataka State Flag unveiled’
(GS2: Issues and challenges pertaining to federal structure)
Issue: The Karnataka flag, ‘Nada Dwaja’ in Kannada, has already been approved by the cabinet and will now be sent to the Union home ministry for its approval
Provisions with respect to having a separate state flag in India
There is no provision in the Indian Constitution which bars states from having their own flags. In SR Bommai vs Union of India case, the Supreme Court had declared that federalism is a basic feature of the Constitution and States are supreme in their sphere. This implicitly is believed to provide a mechanism for states having a separate state flag
Although there is no bar in the Constitution, experts feel that the head of the state should think about its impact on the unity and integrity of the country. If the state government does have its way, Karnataka will become the second state after Jammu and Kashmir to have its own flag.
‘Cheaper TB drugs’
(GS2: Issues relating to Health)
Issue: The World Health Organization (WHO), on Tuesday, invited pharmaceutical companies around the world to submit proposals to manufacture affordable versions of newer medicines for treatment of drug resistant tuberculosis.
WHO has now requested drug makers to submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) for Bedaquiline and Delaminid, two new-generation drugs, recommended for drug resistant-TB. Under WHO norms, drugs submitted upon such requests and complying with its standards are included in a list for procurement by the UN and other organisations.
Worldwide more people die from the disease than from any other infectious disease. TB is an abbreviation of the word Tuberculosis and is how people often refer to the disease. It is caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tuberculosis).
Bovine TB is a disease caused by similar bacteria called Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis). Bovine TB mainly affects cattle but can also affect humans.
TB is spread from one person to another through the air. You get TB by breathing in TB bacteria that are in the air. Bacteria get released into the air by someone who already has the bacteria in their body.
The bacteria that usually cause the disease in humans, usually affect the lungs, but can affect other parts of the body. If you are infected with the bacteria you won’t necessarily become sick, because you can have either latent TB or TB disease. 1 People with latent TB do not feel sick and do not have any symptoms.
TB disease is what happens when a person has latent TB and then becomes sick. Sometimes this is known as having active TB. Overall about 5 to 10% of people with latent TB, who do not receive treatment for it, will become sick at some time in their lives.2
Some people become sick soon after they have become infected, before their immune system (the part of the body that fights diseases) can fight the bacteria. Other people don’t get sick at first but they get sick years later when their immune system becomes weak for another reason. This can be because they have an infection, such as HIV, or some other health problem.
Some people are known to have a higher risk of becoming ill.
- Infants and children aged less than 4 years
- People infected within the previous two years
- People infected with HIV
- People who have certain illnesses or conditions which affect their immune system, such as people with diabetes, and people with chronic renal failure.
The symptoms depend on which area of the body has been infected. If someone has pulmonary disease, which is TB in the lungs, then they may have a bad cough that lasts longer than two weeks. They may also have pain in their chest and they may cough up blood or phlegm from deep inside their lungs. Other symptoms of TB include weakness or fatigue, weight loss, lack of appetite, chills, fever and night sweats.
Drug resistance TB
If someone has drug resistant TB it means that the bacteria in their body won’t be affected by certain drugs that they are resistant to. The drugs just won’t work. There are two main reasons why people develop it. It can be because the person doesn’t take their drugs properly. It can also be that the bacteria that they are infected with have come from someone who has already got drug resistant TB. Being drug sensitive is the opposite of being drug resistant.
If someone has drug resistant TB then they must change drugs. But usually they mustn’t have just one new drug. They need to have several new drugs and for it to be believed that they will all be effective. Drug susceptibility testing which is available in many countries, and is very important, provides information about which drugs a person is resistant to
Bedaquiline and Delaminid are expected to be useful in fighting drug resistant TB in society
‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’
(GS2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)
Issue: On International Women’s Day on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will announce the expansion of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu. The government scheme, which has been launched in 161 districts, will now cover 640 districts across the country
About the programme:
The trend of decline in the Child Sex Ratio (CSR), defined as number of girls per 1000 of boys between 0-6 years of age, has been unabated since 1961. The decline from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001 and further to 918 in 2011 is alarming. The decline in the CSR is a major indicator of women disempowerment. CSR reflects both, pre-birth discrimination manifested through gender biased sex selection, and post birth discrimination against girls. Social construct discriminating against girls on the one hand, easy availability, affordability and subsequent misuse of diagnostic tools on the other hand, have been critical in increasing Sex Selective Elimination of girls leading to low Child Sex Ratio. Since coordinated and convergent efforts are needed to ensure survival, protection and empowerment of the girl child, Government has announced Beti Bachao Beti Padhao initiative. This is being implemented through a national campaign and focussed multi sectoral action in 100 selected districts low in CSR, covering all States and UTs. This is a joint initiative of Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Human Resource Development.
The objectives of this initiative are:
- Prevention of gender biased sex selective elimination
- Ensuring survival & protection of the girl child
- Ensuring education and participation of the girl child
‘National Nutritional Mission’
(GS2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population)
Issue: On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi launched the National Nutrition Mission
Features of the programme:
- The NNM, as an apex body, will monitor, supervise, fix targets and guide the nutrition related interventions across the Ministries.
- The proposal consists of
- Mapping of various Schemes contributing towards addressing malnutrition
- introducing a very robust convergence mechanism
- ICT based Real Time Monitoring system
- incentivizing States/UTs for meeting the targets
- incentivizing Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) for using IT based tools
- eliminating registers used by AWWs
- introducing measurement of height of children at the Anganwadi Centres (AWCs)
- Social Audits
- Setting-up Nutrition Resource Centres, involving masses through Jan Andolan for their participation on nutrition through various activities, among others.
The programme through the targets will strive to reduce the level of stunting, under-nutrition, anemia and low birth weight babies. It will create synergy, ensure better monitoring, issue alerts for timely action, and encourage States/UTs to perform, guide and supervise the line Ministries and States/UTs to achieve the targeted goals.
Benefits & Coverage:
More than 10 crore people will be benefitted by this programme. All the States and districts will be covered in a phased manner i.e. 315 districts in 2017-18, 235 districts in 2018-19 and remaining districts in 2019-20.
An amount of Rs. 9046.17 crore will be expended for three years commencing from 2017-18. This will be funded by Government Budgetary Support (50%) and 50% by IBRD or other MDB. Government budgetary support would be 60:40 between Centre and States/UTs, 90:10 for NER and Himalayan States and 100% for UTs without legislature. Total Government of India share over a period of three years would be Rs. 2849.54 crore.
Implementation strategy and targets:
Implementation strategy would be based on intense monitoring and Convergence Action Plan right up to the grass root level. NNM will be rolled out in three phases from 2017-18 to 2019-20. NNM targets to reduce stunting, under-nutrition, anemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and reduce low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively. Although the target to reduce Stunting is at least 2% p.a., Mission would strive to achieve reduction in Stunting from 38.4% (NFHS-4) to 25% by 2022 (Mission 25 by 2022).
There are a number of schemes directly/indirectly affecting the nutritional status of children (0-6 year age) and pregnant women and lactating mothers. In spite of these, level of malnutrition and related problems in the country is high. There is no dearth of schemes but lack of creating synergy and linking the schemes with each other to achieve common goal. NNM through robust convergence mechanism and other components would strive to create the synergy.
‘Indian IT professionals’
(GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: Japan will open up its doors to about two lakh IT professionals from India, and issue green cards to settle down in Japan and support the country’s rapidly expanding IT infrastructure, said Shigeki Maeda, Executive Vice President at Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), a government body
Logic behind this proposal
This is being necessitated due to the advent of rapid technological innovations in the societal needs in country. Japan wants to fill in this yawning gap and is looking towards India’s assistance in the IT space. Many Japanese companies feel the limitations to conventional “in-house innovation” and hence moving towards “most-advanced IT Technology Capabilities” for which India is the most ideal partner to look out for
(GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: The Ministry of Health has released revised guidelines strengthening its stand on universal screening of all pregnant women for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).
Undiagnosed or inadequately treated GDM can lead to significant maternal and foetal complications. Moreover, women with GDM and their children are at increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes later in life
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a condition in which a woman without diabetes develops high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes generally results in few symptoms; however, it does increase the risk of pre-eclampsia, depression, and requiring a Caesarean section. Babies born to mothers with poorly treated gestational diabetes are at increased risk of being too large, having low blood sugar after birth, and jaundice. If untreated, it can also result in a stillbirth. Long term, children are at higher risk of being overweight and developing type 2 diabetes.
Prevention is by maintaining a healthy weight and exercising before pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is a treated with a diabetic diet, exercise, and possibly insulin injections. Most women are able to manage their blood sugar with a diet and exercise. Blood sugar testing among those who are affected is often recommended four times a day. Breastfeeding is recommended as soon as possible after birth.
Gestational diabetes affects 3–9% of pregnancies, depending on the population studied. It is especially common during the last three months of pregnancy. It affects 1% of those under the age of 20 and 13% of those over the age of 44. A number of ethnic groups including Asians, American Indians, Indigenous Australians, and Pacific Islanders are at higher risk. In 90% of people gestational diabetes will resolve after the baby is born. Women, however, are at an increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes
Issue: The Supreme Court has given legal sanction to passive euthanasia in a landmark verdict, permitting ‘living will’ by patients on withdrawing medical support if they slip into irreversible coma
The top court said that directions and guidelines laid down by it and its directive shall remain in force till a legislation is brought on the issue.
The ruling stems from a petition filed by an NGO ‘Common Cause’, who had approached the court seeking a direction for recognition of ‘living will’ and contended that when a medical expert said that a person afflicted with terminal disease had reached a point of no return, then she should be given the right to refuse being put on life support.
What is a living will?
A living will is a written document by way of which a patient can give his explicit instructions in advance about the medical treatment to be administered when he or she is terminally ill or no longer able to express informed consent.
In 2011, the top court had recognised passive euthanasia in Aruna Shanbaug’s case by which it had permitted withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from patients not in a position to make an informed decision. The Centre had opposed recognition of ‘living will’ and said the consent for removal of artificial support system given by a patient may not be an informed one and without being aware of medical advancements. It had cited examples of various countries in disallowing creation of living will.
Some more information on Euthanasia
Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide refer to deliberate action taken with the intention of ending a life, in order to relieve persistent suffering.
The Indian understanding and development on this issue arises from one of the brilliant judgments of 21st century, Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v. Union of India, 2011. This judgment basically differentiated ‘euthanasia’ into two classes, active and passive euthanasia.
Active euthanasia, which is defined as the intentional act of causing the death of a patient experiencing great suffering
The term “passive euthanasia” used by the Supreme Court in its verdict on Aruna Shanbaug’s case is defined as the withdrawal of medical treatment with the deliberate intention to hasten a terminally ill-patient’s death.
Only passive euthanasia is allowed India, such applications for passive euthanasia is made to high courts which will be assisted by a panel of doctors who would recommend action on such application. Passive euthanasia is restricted only to patients who are terminally ill
Countries around the world allow euthanasia to a certain extent in varying degrees, only for passive euthanasia though. Active euthanasia is still banned in many countries owing to its inherent chance of being abused
‘Ustad Pyarelal Wadali’
(Facts that could be asked in prelims)
The younger of the Wadali Brothers duo, Ustad Pyarelal Wadali, is no more. He was 75 years old. The Wadali Brothers, who are fifth-generation Sufi singers, started their careers by singing at temple sangeet sammelans in Punjab. Apart from Sufi music, the brothers were also known to sing gurbani, kaafi, ghazal and bhajan songs.
Issue: Asteroid Bennu may hit Earth on September 21, 2135 but before that happens NASA has a plan to destroy it using nuclear bombs before it reaches us. It has about 1 in 2,700 chance of hitting Earth.
The asteroid is a near-Earth object (NEO) listed as a “potential Earth impactor” and is quite massive. Measuring about 500 meters, the rock is not large enough to pose an existential threat to Earth
This project has been named as Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response (HAMMER). There are two methods listed by the Futurism report on how HAMMER could possibly work. If the asteroid is small, the spacecraft can be used like a pummeling tool and an 8.8-ton impactor would simply smash the rock. If the asteroid is large, then the idea is to obliterate it with nukes.
Asteroids are rocky worlds revolving around the sun that are too small to be called planets. They are also known as planetoids or minor planets. There are millions of asteroids, ranging in size from hundreds of miles to several feet across. In total, the mass of all the asteroids is less than that of Earth’s moon.
Asteroids are leftovers from the formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. Early on, the birth of Jupiter prevented any planetary bodies from forming in the gap between Mars and Jupiter, causing the small objects that were there to collide with each other and fragment into the asteroids seen today.
Asteroids lie within three regions of the solar system. Most asteroids lie in a vast ring between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter .
Not everything in the main belt is an asteroid — Ceres, once thought of only as an asteroid, is now also considered a dwarf planet.
Many asteroids lie outside the main belt. Trojan asteroids orbit a larger planet in two special places, known as Lagrange points, where the gravitational pull of the sun and the planet are balanced. Jupiter Trojans are the most numerous, boasting nearly as high a population as the main asteroid belt. Neptune, Mars and Earth also have Trojan asteroids.
Near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) circle closer to Earth than the sun.
Exploration of Asteroids
The first spacecraft to take close-up images of asteroids was NASA’s Galileo in 1991, which also discovered the first moon to orbit an asteroid in 1994.
In 2001, after NASA’s NEAR spacecraft intensely studied the near-earth asteroid Eros for more than a year from orbit, mission controllers decided to try and land the spacecraft. Although it wasn’t designed for landing, NEAR successfully touched down, setting the record as the first to successfully land on an asteroid.
In 2006, Japan’s Hayabusa became the first spacecraft to land on and take off from an asteroid. It returned to Earth in June 2010, and the samples it recovered are currently under study.
NASA’s Dawn mission, launched in 2007, began exploring Vesta in 2011. After a year, it left the asteroid for a trip to Ceres, arriving in 2015. Dawn was the first spacecraft to visit Vesta and Ceres. As of 2017, the spacecraft still orbits the extraordinary asteroid.
In September 2016, NASA launched the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx), which will explore the asteroid Bennu before grabbing a sample to return to Earth.
(GS2: Welfare schemes for the vulnerable sections of the population)
Issue: Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Ananthkumar announced the launch of ‘Suvidha’, the 100% Oxo-biodegradable Sanitary Napkin, under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP)
The affordable sanitary napkin will be available for Rs. 2.50 per padat over 3200 Janaushadhi Kendrasacross India and would ensure ‘Swachhta, Swasthya and Suvidha’for the underprivileged Women of India. This step taken by the Department of Pharmaceuticals
According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, about 58 percent of women aged between 15 to 24 years use locally prepared napkins, sanitary napkins and tampons. Further, about 78 percent women in urban areas use hygienic methods of protection during menstrual period; only 48 percent women in rural areas have access to clean sanitary napkins.
The unhygienic aids cause fungal infections, Reproductive Tract Infection, Urinary Tract Infection, Cervical cancer and also make women vulnerable to infertility. Moreover, the disposal of non-biodegradable sanitary napkins available today creates a huge environmental problem. The 100% biodegradable SUVIDHA napkin would ensure Swachhta
About Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana
Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) is a campaign launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals to provide quality medicines at affordable prices to the masses. PMBJP stores have been set up to provide generic drugs, which are available at lesser prices but are equivalent in quality and efficacy as expensive branded drugs. It was launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals i
To bring down the healthcare budget of every citizen of India through providing Quality generic Medicines at Affordable Prices
- Create awareness among the public regarding generic medicines.
- Create demand for generic medicines through medical practitioners.
- Create awareness through education and awareness program that high price need not be synonymous with high quality.
- Provide all the commonly used generic medicines covering all the therapeutic groups.
- Provide all the related health care products too under the scheme.
Making quality medicines available at affordable prices for all, particularly the poor and disadvantaged, through exclusive outlets “Jan Aushadhi Medical Store”, so as to reduce out of pocket expenses in healthcare
‘UDYAM SAKHI Portal launched’
(GS2: Government policies for development and issues arising out of their implementation and design)
Issue: On the occasion of International Women’s Day today, March 8,the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises(MSME) launched a portal for women entrepreneursof India
About the portal:
The portal is a network for nurturing entrepreneurship and creating business models for low cost products and services in order to empower women and make them self-reliant and self-sufficient.
The portal provides assistance through its platform for entrepreneurship learning tools, incubation facility, training programs for fund raising, providing mentors, one-on-one investor meet, provide market survey facility and technical assistance.