Polity & Governance
- Notice for privilege motion against Jairam
- U.P., Bihar lead in crimes against Dalits
- Second phase of ‘Feed the future’ programme launched
Science & Technology
- intervention sought for Hepatitis C treatment
- Zebrafish provide insights into a rare human disease
Also in News
- Armenia to have the world’s largest Yazidi temple
Polity & Governance
Notice for privilege motion against Jairam
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) gave notice for a privilege motion in the Rajya Sabha against Congress MPs Jairam Ramesh and Renuka Chowdhury for allegedly misbehaving with Union Minister Harsimrat Badal.
What is parliamentary privilege?
- Parliamentary privilege refers to rights and immunities enjoyed by Parliament as an institution and MPs in their individual capacity, without which they cannot discharge their functions as entrusted upon them by the Constitution.
Are these parliamentary privileges defined under law?
- According to the Constitution, the powers, privileges and immunities of Parliament and MP’s are to be defined by Parliament.
- No law has so far been enacted in this respect. In the absence of any such law, it continues to be governed by British Parliamentary conventions.
What is breach of privilege?
- A breach of privilege is a violation of any of the privileges of MPs/Parliament. Among other things, any action ‘casting reflections’ on MPs, parliament or its committees; could be considered breach of privilege. This may include publishing of news items, editorials or statements made in newspaper/magazine/TV interviews or in public speeches.
What is the punishment in case of breach of privilege or contempt of the House?
- The house can ensure attendance of the offending person. The person can be given a warning and let go or be sent to prison as the case may be.
- In the case of throwing leaflets and chappal, the offending individuals were sentenced to simple imprisonment.
- In the 2007 case of breach of privilege against Ambassador Ronen Sen, the Lok Sabha Committee on privileges held that the phrase “headless chicken” was not used by Shri Sen in respect of MPs or politicians. No action was taken against him.
- In 2008, an editor of an Urdu weekly referred to the deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha as a “coward” attributing motives to a decision taken by him. The privileges committee held the editor guilty of breach of privilege. The committee instead of recommending punishment stated that, “it would be better if the House saves its own dignity by not giving undue importance to such irresponsible articles published with the sole intention of gaining cheap publicity.”
U.P., Bihar lead in crimes against Dalits
According to the official data pertaining to 2013, 2014 and 2015 released recently by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan lead the country in the number of crimes registered against the Scheduled Castes.
- U.P. with 20% of India’s Dalit population accounts for 17% of the crimes against them.
- 52% to 65% of all crimes in Rajasthan have a Dalit as the victim. This despite the fact that the State’s SC (Dalit) population is just 17.8% of its total population.
- Bihar, with 6,721 to 7,893 cases, accounts for 16-17% of the all-India crimes against Dalits with just 8% of the country’s SC population.
- Gujarat’s numbers of crimes against Dalits had jumped to 6,655 in 2015 from 1,130 in 2014.
- So far as the atrocities reported to the NCSC by Dalits who feel the authorities are not giving them justice are concerned, U.P. accounts for the highest number at 2024 cases and Tamil Nadu comes next at 999 cases.
About National Commission for Scheduled Castes:
- It is a constitutional body established with a view to provide safeguards against the exploitation of Scheduled Castes.
- To promote and protect their social, educational, economic and cultural interests, special provisions were made in the Constitution.
Composition of the commission:
- The Commission consists of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and three other members.
- They are appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.
- Their conditions of service and tenure of office are also determined by the president. The commission presents an annual report to the president.
Functions of the commission:
- To investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Castes under this Constitution or under any other law for the time being in force or under any order of the Government and to evaluate the working of such safeguards;
- To inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Castes;
- To participate and advise on the planning process of socio-economic development of the Scheduled Castes and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State;
- To present to the President, annually and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards;
- To make in such reports recommendations as to the measures that should be taken by the Union or any State for the effective implementation of those safeguards and other measures for the protection, welfare and socio-economic development of the Scheduled Castes; and
- To discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the Scheduled Castes as the President may, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, by rule specify.
Second phase of ‘Feed the future’ programme launched
The Union Agriculture Ministry and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the second phase of the “Feed the Future” India triangular training programme, in a bid to bring specialised agriculture training to 1,500 agricultural professionals across Africa and Asia.
- The programme is expected to enable India and the U.S. to share these farming techniques worldwide, helping countries in Africa and Asia revolutionise their agriculture practices and ultimately, improve global nutrition levels.
- Notably, led by the National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management- MANAGE, the programme will train agricultural professionals from 17 countries in Africa and Asia on specialised farming practices such as agricultural marketing, dairy management, food processing and ways to prevent post-harvest losses.
About the programme:
The Feed the Future Initiative (FTF) was launched in 2010 by the United States government to address global hunger and food insecurity.
- According to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, it is “the U.S. government’s global food security initiative.”
- The Feed the Future Initiative began as an effort “to combat the global food price spikes of 2007 and 2008.”
- The Initiative was developed by the Department of State and is coordinated primarily by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
- The main objectives of the initiative are the advancement of global agricultural development, increased food production and food security, and improved nutrition particularly for vulnerable populations such as women and children.
- The first phase trained more than 200 professionals from Kenya, Liberia and Malawi, and they are now implementing the new farming methods to increase farm productivity and income.
- India and the U.S. are expanding the programme with the second phase launch to reach hundreds of professionals and in turn thousands of smallholder farmers.
Science & Technology
Govt. intervention sought for Hepatitis C treatment
In absence of a policy intervention for Hepatitis C, civil society and legal aid organisations have put together a policy brief, calling upon the government to take concerted action to address the right to health of people living with HCV (PLHCV).
- HCV is a significantly bigger epidemic than HIV and yet, there has been considerably less awareness about it. While HIV testing and treatment are free of cost through the government programme, HCV is not supported in any way.
- Despite the estimated disease burden of 8.7 million Hepatitis C patients, India does not have data and, therefore, does not have appropriate budgets to address the concerns of the patients.
- Also, the price of treatment of HCV has become a global concern with the Indian government granting patent for the drug Sofosbuvir to American pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences. While Gilead’s Sofosbuvir is priced at almost $84,000 for an entire course in the U.S., generic Indian companies are selling their versions for less than $200 for a full course.
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. It may be caused by drugs, alcohol use, or certain medical conditions. But in most cases, it’s caused by a virus. This is known as viral hepatitis
Scientists have identified 5 unique hepatitis viruses, identified by the letters A, B, C, D, and E. While all cause liver disease, they vary in important ways.
Hepatitis C is an infectious disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) that primarily affects the liver.
- During the initial infection people often have mild or no symptoms. Occasionally a fever, dark urine, abdominal pain, and yellow tinged skin occurs.
- The virus persists in the liver in about 75% to 85% of those initially infected.
- Early on chronic infection typically has no symptoms. Over many years however, it often leads to liver disease and occasionally cirrhosis.
- There is no vaccine for HCV.
Hepatitis C: How Does It Spread?
- It spreads through infected blood. In the U.S., sharing needles or other items used to inject drugs is the most common cause of infection.
- Getting a tattoo or body piercing with an infected needle is another means of exposure.
- A mother may pass the virus to her child at birth. In rare cases, unprotected sex spreads hepatitis C, but the risk appears small.
- Having multiple sex partners, HIV, or rough sex seems to raise risk for spreading hepatitis C.
What is the difference between Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are diseases caused by three different viruses. Although each can cause similar symptoms, they have different modes of transmission and can affect the liver differently.
- Hepatitis A appears only as an acute or newly occurring infection and does not become chronic. People with Hepatitis A usually improve without treatment.
- Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can also begin as acute infections, but in some people, the virus remains in the body, resulting in chronic disease and long-term liver problems.
- There are vaccines to prevent Hepatitis A and B; however, there is not one for Hepatitis C.
- If a person has had one type of viral hepatitis in the past, it is still possible to get the other types.
Zebrafish provide insights into a rare human disease
Scientists from the Delhi-based CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology are a step closer to bringing hope to children born with a rare disorder — CHARGE syndrome — if the results seen in zebrafish are reproducible in humans.
- Scientists have studied the fertilised egg of a zebrafish to better understand the CHARGE syndrome.
Why zebrafish is chosen?
- Following fertilization, zebrafish embryos are transparent. This allows scientists to observe the inside of the embryo and watch in real time how various organs develop.
- Since most organs begin forming in the first 24-36 hours and are fully formed within five days, it allows researchers to study the development of an organism from egg to maturity.
- An RNA injected into a one-cell embryo interferes with the making of the CHD7 protein, thus producing a zebrafish embryo with very similar problems as the human babies with CHARGE syndrome.
About CHARGE syndrome:
CHARGE syndrome is a disorder that affects many areas of the body.
- CHARGE stands for coloboma, heart defect, atresia choanae (also known as choanal atresia), retarded growth and development, genital abnormality, and ear abnormality.
- The pattern of malformations varies among individuals with this disorder, and infants often have multiple life-threatening medical conditions. About two third of cases are due to a CHD7 mutation.
- The major characteristics of CHARGE syndrome are more specific to this disorder than are the minor characteristics. Many individuals with CHARGE syndrome have a hole in one of the structures of the eye (coloboma), which forms during early development.
- Some people also have small eyes (microphthalmia). One or both nasal passages may be narrowed or completely blocked.
- Individuals with CHARGE syndrome frequently have cranial nerve abnormalities. The cranial nerves emerge directly from the brain and extend to various areas of the head and neck, controlling muscle movement and transmitting sensory information.
- Abnormal function of certain cranial nerves can cause swallowing problems, facial paralysis, a sense of smell that is diminished (hyposmia) or completely absent (anosmia), and mild to profound hearing loss.
- People with CHARGE syndrome also typically have middle and inner ear abnormalities and unusually shaped ears.
- The diagnosis of CHARGE syndrome is often difficult, because it is rare.
- The syndrome spans many disciplines, and as such, can be diagnosed by a pediatrician, oral and maxillofacial surgeon, ENT specialist, ophthalmologist, audiologist, endocrinologist, cardiologist, urologist, developmental specialist, radiologist, geneticist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, or orthopedic specialist.
- There is a high death rate in the very first year in children born with CHARGE.
CHARGE syndrome in India:
- About 1 in 20,000 people in the world, and an estimated 50,000 in India alone, are born with CHARGE syndrome.
Also in News
Armenia to have the world’s largest Yazidi temple
A huge Yazidi temple is under construction in a small Armenian village, intended as a symbol of resilience for a persecuted religious tradition.
- The temple is being built in Aknalich, about 35km from Yerevan, the Armenian capital.
- Named Quba Mere Diwane, this will be the largest Yazidi temple in the world, although there are relatively few contenders.
- This temple is important for Yazidis because their community is facing extinction.
- The complex in Aknalich is not intended to overshadow Lalish, the most holy Yazidi temple, about 36 miles north of Mosul in northern Iraq.
Who are Yazidis?
- The Yazidis are one of the world’s smallest and oldest monotheistic religious minorities. Yazidi translates into “worshippers of god”. Their religion is considered a pre-Islamic sect that draws from Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism.
- Yazidis, who call themselves “a people of 72 genocides”, are the largest minority group in Armenia, with a population of about 35,000, although many have left or are leaving to find work elsewhere, particularly in Russia.
- They revere both the Bible and Quran, but much of their own tradition is oral.
- There are about 600,000 Yazidis worldwide. The Iraqi Yazidi population is thought to be 400,000-500,000.