24th March, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Office of Profit’
(GS2: Parliament and State Legislatures)
Issue: Setting aside the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs, the Delhi High Court Friday said the Election Commission recommendation in the office-of-profit case was “bad in law”, “vitiated” and failed to “comply with the principles of natural justice”. The High Court directed the EC to hear the matter afresh and also decide the “all important and seminal issue” of what is meant by “office-of-profit in government”.
What is office of profit?
It is a position in the government which cannot be held by an MLA or an MP. The post can yield salaries, perquisites and other benefits. The origin of this term can be found in the English Act of Settlement, 1701. Under this law, “no person who has an office or place of profit under the King, or receives a pension from the Crown, shall be capable of serving as a member of the House of Commons.” This was instituted so that there wouldn’t be any undue influence from the royal household in administrative affairs.
According to Articles 102(1)(a) and 191(1)(a) of the Constitution, an MP or MLA is barred from holding an office of profit as it can put them in a position to gain a financial benefit. “A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of either House of Parliament, (a) if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State, other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder,” says the law.
Under the Representation of People Act too, holding an office of profit is grounds for disqualification.
The President of India decides on matters of office of profit based on the recommendations of the Election Commission
‘Myanmar-India oil pipeline’
(GS2: Bilateral relations)
Issue: India has proposed to build a pipeline from the country’s east coast to deliver products, mainly diesel, to Myanmar
A working group has been formed by Myanmar and India to look at issues such as security, land and oil storage, and how to price the fuel and the oil’s specification
Other major projects between India and Myanmar
Myanmar shares a long land border of over 1600 Km with India as well as a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal. Four North-Eastern States viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram share international boundary with Myanmar.
On 13 February 2001 India and Burma inaugurated 250 kilometre Tamu-Kalewa-Kalemyo highway, popularly called the Indo-Myanmar Friendship Road, built mainly by the Indian Army’s Border Roads Organisation and aimed to provide a major strategic and commercial transport route connecting North-East India, and South Asia as a whole, to Southeast Asia.
India and Myanmar have agreed to a 4-lane, 3200 km triangular highway connecting India, Myanmar and Thailand. The route, which is expected to have completed during 2016, runs from India’s northeastern states into Myanmar, where over 1,600 km of roads were built or improved.
The route begins from Guwahati in India and connects to Mandalay in Myanmar, route continues to Yangon in Myanmar and then to Mae Sot in Thailand, which then continues to Bangkok.
The first phase connecting Guwahati to Mandalay is set to complete by 2016. This will eventually be extended to Cambodia and Vietnam under Mekong-Ganga Cooperation within the wider framework of Asian Highway Network. This is aimed at creating a new economic zone ranging from Kolkata on the Bay of Bengal to Ho Chi Minh City on the South China Sea
The Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport Project will connect the eastern Indian seaport of Kolkata with Sittwe seaport in Myanmar by sea; it will then link Sittwe seaport to Lashio in Myanmar via Kaladan river boat route and then from Lashio on to Mizoram in India by road transport.
‘World Tuberculosis Day 2018’
(GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: World Tuberculosis Day is observed on March 24 every year to help spread awareness about the disease, communicate prevention measures as well as to commemorate efforts undertaken against the disease.
The date was earmarked due to the discovery of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a bacterium, which is the main cause of TB, by German microbiologist Dr Robert Koch in 1882, when the disease had much of Europe and America under its grip.
Theme for Tuberculosis day
The 2018 theme for World Tuberculosis Day is “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-Free World. We can make history. End TB”, which highlights the importance of engaging people from all across the world to put efforts to eliminate TB.
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. Most infections do not have symptoms, in which case it is known as latent tuberculosis. About 10% of latent infections progress to active disease which, if left untreated, kills about half of those infected. The classic symptoms of active TB are a chronic cough with blood-containing sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. The historical term “consumption” came about due to the weight loss. Infection of other organs can cause a wide range of symptoms Tuberculosis is spread through the air when people who have active TB in their lungs cough, spit, speak, or sneeze. People with latent TB do not spread the disease. Active infection occurs more often in people with HIV/AIDS and in those who smoke. Diagnosis of active TB is based on chest X-rays, as well as microscopic examination and culture of body fluids. Diagnosis of latent TB relies on the tuberculin skin test (TST) or blood tests.
*Coughing that lasts for two or more weeks.
*Coughing up blood.
*Loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss.
*Fever, chills, night sweats and fatigue.
Prevention of TB involves screening those at high risk, early detection and treatment of cases, and vaccination with the bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine. Those at high risk include household, workplace, and social contacts of people with active TB. Treatment requires the use of multiple antibiotics over a long period of time. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem with increasing rates of multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB).
Last year, WHO reported that 10.4 million people fell ill with TB and there were 1.8 million TB deaths in 2016, making it the top infectious killer worldwide. This disease is deeply rooted in populations where human rights and dignity are limited. While anyone can contract TB, the disease thrives among people living in poverty, communities and groups that are marginalized, and other vulnerable populations.
These include: migrants, refugees, ethnic minorities, miners and others working and living in risk-prone settings, the elderly, marginalized women and children in many settings etc. Factors such as malnutrition, poor housing and sanitation, compounded by other risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use and diabetes, affect vulnerability to TB and access to care. Furthermore, this access is often hindered by catastrophic costs associated with illness, seeking and staying in care, and lack of social protection, resulting in a vicious cycle of poverty and ill-health. The transmission of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) adds great urgency to these concerns.
‘Fifteenth Finance Commission’
(GS2: Constitutional Bodies)
Issue: The Government of India has constituted the Fifteenth Finance Commission under the Chairmanship of Shri N. K. Singh.
About Finance commission
Vertical and horizontal imbalances are common features of most federations and India is no exception to this. The Constitution assigned taxes with a nation-wide base to the Union to make the country one common economic space unhindered by internal barriers to the extent possible. States being closer to people and more sensitive to the local needs have been assigned functional responsibilities involving expenditure disproportionate to their assigned sources of revenue resulting in vertical imbalances. Horizontal imbalances across States are on account of factors, which include historical backgrounds, differential endowment of resources, and capacity to raise resources. Unlike in most other federations, differences in the developmental levels in Indian States are very sharp. In an explicit recognition of vertical and horizontal imbalances, the Indian Constitution embodies the following enabling and mandatory provisions to address them through the transfer of resources from the Centre to the States.
1. Levy of duties by the Centre but collected and retained by the States (Article 268)
2. Taxes and duties levied and collected by the Centre but assigned in whole to the States (Article 269).
3. Sharing of the proceeds of all Union taxes between the Centre and the States under Article 270. (Effective from April 1, 1996, following the eightieth amendment to the Constitution replacing the earlier provisions relating to mandatory sharing of income tax under Article 270 and permissive sharing of
Union excise duties under Article 272).
4. Statutory grants-in-aid of the revenues of States (Article 275)
5. Grants for any public purpose (Article 282).
6. Loans for any public purpose (Article 293).
2. In addition to provisions enabling transfer of resources from the Centre to the States, a distinguishing feature of the Indian Constitution is that it provides for an institutional mechanism to facilitate such transfers. The institution assigned with such a task under Article 280 of the Constitution is the Finance Commission, which is to be appointed at the expiration of every five years or earlier. Under the Constitution, the main responsibilities of a Finance Commission are the following.
1.The distribution between the Union and the States of the net proceeds of taxes which are to be divided between them and the allocation between the
States of the respective shares of such proceeds.
2. Determination of principles and quantum of grants-in-aid to States which are in need of such assistance.
3. Measures needed to augment the Consolidated Fund of a State to supplement the resources of the Panchayats and Municipalities in the State on the basis of
the recommendations made by the Finance Commission of the State.
3. The last function was added following the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution in 1992 conferring statutory status to the Panchayats and Municipalities. These Constitutionally mandated functions are the same for all the Finance Commissions and mentioned as such in the terms of reference (ToR) of different Finance Commissions. To enable the Finance Commission to discharge its responsibilities in an effective manner, the Constitution vests the Finance Commission with power to determine its procedures. Under the Constitution, the President shall cause every recommendation made by the Finance Commission together with an explanatory memorandum as to the action taken thereon to be laid before each House of Parliament. So far, twelve Finance Commissions have given their reports. The Thirteenth Finance Commission is expected to give its report in October, 2009. The Union government has always been accepting the recommendations of the Finance Commissions, exception being the recommendations of the Third Commission relating to Plan grants. There have been major changes in the public finances of the Union and the States during the period of over 55 years covered by the Finance Commissions. A number of new matters have been referred to the Commissions in consonance with these developments
Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY)
(GS2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population)
Issue: Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) were launched on 9th May, 2015. The cover period under these Schemes is 1st June of each year to 31st May of subsequent year. These Schemes are offered/administered through both Public and Private Sector Insurance companies, in tie-up with scheduled commercial banks, Regional Rural Banks and Cooperative Banks.
About the schemes:
PMJJBY offers a renewable one year term life cover of Rupees Two Lakh to all subscribing bank account holders in the age group of 18 to 50 years, covering death due to any reason, for a premium of Rs.330/- per annum per subscriber, to be auto debited from subscriber’s bank account. Similarly, PMSBY offers a renewable one year accidental death cum disability cover to all subscribing bank account holders in the age group of 18 to 70 years for a premium of Rs.12/- per annum per subscriber to be auto debited from subscriber’s bank account. The scheme provides a cover of Rs. Two Lakh for accidental death or total permanent disability and Rs One Lakh in case of permanent partial disability
PMJJBY and PMSBY provide insurance cover to common people, especially poor and the under-privileged sections of the society. The Government as well as the Public Sector Insurance Companies such as Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) had organized massive campaign to create awareness amongst large sections of population
This scheme is implemented by Ministry of Finance
(GS2: Issues related to health)
Issue: As per Global Burden of Disease Study, 2013 published in LANCET- an International medical journal, Visceral Leishmaniasis (Kala Azar) was the second largest Neglected Tropical Diseases causing mortality. As per this report, the age- standardised death rate was 0.9 per 1,00,000 population in respect of Kala Azar. Death due to Visceral Leishmaniasis is mainly due to delayed reporting of cases to health facility.
Reasons for not being able to eliminating this disease are:
- Reporting of cases from newer foci.
- Longer incubation peroid of about 2 years.
- The endemic blocks located in difficult geographical terrain.
- Indigenous health seeking behaviour in ethnic, poor and marginalised community.
About KALA AZAR
Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), also known as kala-azar, black fever, and Dumdum fever, is the most severe form of leishmaniasis and, without proper diagnosis and treatment, is associated with high fatality. Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by protozoan parasites of the Leishmania genus.
The parasite migrates to the internal organs such as the liver, spleen (hence “visceral”), and bone marrow, and, if left untreated, will almost always result in the death of the host. Signs and symptoms include fever, weight loss, fatigue, anemia, and substantial swelling of the liver and spleen. Of particular concern, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is the emerging problem of HIV/VL co-infection.
This disease is the second-largest parasitic killer in the world (after malaria) responsible for an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 infections each year worldwide.
What are Signs & Symptoms of Kala-Azar?
- Recurrent fever intermittent or remittent with often double rise
- loss of appetite, pallor and weight loss with progressive emaciation
- Splenomegaly – spleen enlarges rapidly to massive enlargement, usually soft and nontender
- Liver – enlargement not to the extent of spleen, soft, smooth surface, sharp edge
- Lymphadenopathy – not very common in India
- Skin – dry, thin and scaly and hair may be lost. Light coloured persons show grayish discolouration of the skin of hands, feet, abdomen and face which gives the Indian name Kala-azar meaning “Black fever”
- Anaemia – develops rapidly
Anaemia with emaciation and gross splenomegaly produces a typical appearance of the patients
(GS2: Issues related to health)
Issue: The Regulation 2.3.12 of Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales), Regulation, 2011, restricts the sale of common salt for direct human consumption unless the same is Iodized. As per the Regulation, ‘no person shall sell or offer or expose for sale or have in his premises for the purpose of sale, the common salt, for direct human consumption unless the same is iodized.
Importance of Iodized salt
Iodized salt is table salt mixed with a minute amount of various salts of the element iodine. The ingestion of iodine prevents iodine deficiency. Worldwide, iodine deficiency affects about two billion people and is the leading preventable cause of intellectual and developmental disabilities. Deficiency also causes thyroid gland problems, including “endemic goitre.” In many countries, iodine deficiency is a major public health problem that can be cheaply addressed by purposely adding small amounts of iodine to the sodium chloride salt.
Iodine is a micronutrient and dietary mineral that is naturally present in the food supply in some regions, especially near sea coasts, but is generally quite rare in the Earth’s crust, since iodine is a so-called “heavy” element and abundance of chemical elements generally declines with greater atomic mass. Where natural levels of iodine in the soil are low and the iodine is not taken up by vegetables, iodine added to salt provides the small but essential amount of iodine needed by humans.
An opened package of table salt with iodide may rapidly lose its iodine content through the process of oxidation and iodine sublimation
Iodized salt was introduced to India in the late 1950s. Public awareness was increased by special programs and initiatives, both governmental and nongovernmental. As of now iodine deficiency is only present in a few isolated regions which are still unreachable.
‘Stem Cell Treatment’
(GS2: Issues related to health)
Issue: Stem Cell Treatment is still under research mode in India and the Government is supporting various basic pre-clinical and clinical researches. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had released ‘Draft Guidelines for Stem Cell Research/Regulation’ in 2002, which was elaborately worked upon along with Department of Biotechnology resulting in ‘Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Therapy (2007)’.
What is Stem Cell treatment?
Stem-cell therapy is the use of stem cells to treat or prevent a disease or condition.
Bone marrow transplant is the most widely used stem-cell therapy, but some therapies derived from umbilical cord blood are also in use. Research is underway to develop various sources for stem cells, and to apply stem-cell treatments for neurodegenerative diseases and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions.
For over 30 years, bone marrow has been used to treat cancer patients with conditions such as leukaemia and lymphoma; this is the only form of stem-cell therapy that is widely practiced.
- Brain and spinal cord injury
- Blood cell formation
- Teeth re-growing
- Cochlear hair cell re-growth
- Blindness and vision impairment
- Pancreatic beta cells
- Wound healing
‘Indian Sign language dictionary’
(GS2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population)
Issue: “First Indian Sign Language Dictionary of 3000 words” was launched by Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment. The dictionary has been developed by Indian Sign Language Research & Training Centre (ISLR&TC) under Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), M/o Social Justice & Empowerment.
About the dictionary
The English and Hindi terms for the dictionary will also help deaf children to learn English. The ISL dictionary consists of words of five categories:
1. Everyday Terms – This category includes terms that are used in everyday communication. The videos contain the sign and the corresponding English term.
2. Legal Terms – This category includes videos for 237 legal terms help explain complicated legal terminology like “Affidavit”, “Acquittal”, etc. That are used in various legal situations.
3. Academic Terms – To help deaf children understand complex academic concepts, the academic dictionary contains explanations for terms like “Nervous System”, “Rotation” and “Revolution”, etc. The words are from various subjects like Physics, Geography, Biology, Maths, etc. This category contains 229 videos for 212 terms.
4. Medical Terms – This category includes 200 sign videos for 200 medical terms will help the deaf community to better understand medical terminology used in hospitals and in medical situations.
5. Technical Terms – This category has 206 videos of sign and explanations in ISL for 204 technical terms that are used in vocational training or in computer courses.
‘MAHILA SHAKTHI KENDRA’
(GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: Government of India has approved Mahila Shakti Kendra scheme for the period 2017-18 upto 2019-20
Aim of this programme
To empower rural women through community participation
The programme is implemented by Ministry of Women and Child Development