Polity & Governance
- Critics missing from economic council to PM
Issues related to Health & Education
- Minister for Health launches ‘TB Harega Desh Jeetega’ Campaign
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Andhra Pradesh bags three water mission awards
Bilateral & International Relations
- Indian Prime Minister pitches for India’s NSG entry
- How a US President can be impeached?
Defence & Security Issues
- Defense Minister Commissions patrol vessel Varaha
- 200 years on, why Odisha’s Paika Rebellion continues to agitate
Science & Technology
- After US FDA flags ranitidine, DCGI asks state regulators to get antacid tested for carcinogens
- Why are scientists so excited about a recently claimed quantum computing milestone?
- Nanocurcumin enhances BCG vaccine efficacy
Key Facts for Prelims
- Govt institutes Sardar Patel National Unity Award
- World Maritime Day 2019
- Virat Kohli is close to a ban: How ICC’s demerit point system works
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Polity & Governance
Critics missing from economic council to PM
The government dropped Rathin Roy and Shamika Ravi from the economic advisory council (EAC) to the Prime Minister.
About the Economic Advisory Council
- The EAC-PM is a non-constitutional and non-statutory, non-permanent and independent body which provides advice on economic issues to the government, specifically to the Prime Minister.
- The five-member council consists of economists of high repute and eminence.
Terms of reference of EAC
- EAC is mandated to give advice to prime minister on economic matters such as inflation, GDP changes, export-import changes, creating supporting environment for increased trade and commerce.
- It analyses any issue, economic or otherwise, referred to it by prime minister and advising him thereon.
- It addresses issues of macroeconomic importance and present its views to the prime minister.
- Its advice can be either suo-motu or on reference from prime minister or anyone else.
- It can also attend any other task as may be desired by prime minister from time to time.
Issues related to Health & Education
Minister for Health launches ‘TB Harega Desh Jeetega’ Campaign
Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare launched the new TB Harega Desh Jeetega Campaign, along with the National TB Prevalence Survey.
Union Minister for Health also:
- Launched an all oral regimen kit for multi-drug resistant TB patients which does not include injections which can have side effects.
- Announced a partnership with the World Bank which is providing a $400 million credit for accelerating TB response in 9 states of India.
- Flagged off a van for the National TB Prevalence Survey which will be part of the prevalence survey carried out over 6 months across the country. This will present national and state level TB data, which will be used as a policy tool for further interventions.
- Awarded states for their excellent performance in tackling TB. Among large population (>50 lakhs), Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat were awarded as best performers, while Tripura and Sikkim were awarded among medium population (less than 50 lakhs) states. Puducherry, and Daman and Diu were judged as the best performers among Union Territories.
About TB Harega Desh Jeetega Campaign
- It has been launched with an aim to improve and expand the reach of TB care services across India by 2022.
- The campaign has three pillars – clinical approach, public health component and active community participation.
- There are some other supporting aspects of the campaign including – patient support, private sector engagement, political and administrative commitment at all levels.
- The government will ensure that all patients, at private or public hospitals, receive free-of-cost and high-quality TB care.
Government’s efforts in tackling TB
- In 2018, 21.5 lakh TB cases were reported to the government, compared to 18 lakhs in 2017, an increase of 17% in one year.
- Moreover, notifications from private sector health care providers increase by 40%, contributing to 25% of all TB notifications.
- The Government of India has also partnered with the Global Fund to launch JEET (Joint Effort for Elimination of TB), a private sector engagement program operating in 45 cities across India.
- In April 2018, the government launched the Nikshay Poshan Yojana, a direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme to provide nutritional support to TB patients. Under the scheme, TB patients have been receiving Rs. 500 per month for the entire duration of treatment.
- United Nations has marked 2030 as a global target to eliminate TB worldwide but the Government of India has made 2025 as its target to eliminate tuberculosis from the country.
- SDG 3 also includes a target (Target 3.8) related to universal health coverage (UHC) in which TB is explicitly mentioned. This includes an indicator on the coverage of essential prevention, treatment and care interventions.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Andhra Pradesh bags three water mission awards
Andhra Pradesh bagged three awards at the National Water Mission Awards – 2019 for various initiatives in water conservation and effective usage.
Three awards were given for:
- AP Water Resources Information and Management System (APWRIMS) for real-time monitoring of both supply and demand of water
- Effective use of basin-wise water.
- Assessment of the impact of climate change on water resources
About National Water Mission
- Launched in 2011, National Water Mission (NWM) is one of the 8 missions under National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
- The main objective of NWM is conservation of water, minimizing wastage and ensuring its more equitable distribution.
- One of the strategies is to incentivise the through awards for water conservation and efficient use of water. Hence, the NWM has initiated the ‘Annual NWM Water Awards’ to recognize excellence in water conservation and sustainable water management practices.
5 Goals of NWM
- Comprehensive water data base in public domain and assessment of the impact of climate change on water resources
- Promotion of citizen and state actions for water conservation, augmentation and preservation
- Focused attention to vulnerable areas including over-exploited areas
- Increasing water use efficiency by 20%
- Promotion of basin level integrated water resources management
National Water Policy (NWP)
- National Water Policy is formulated by the Ministry of Water Resources to govern the planning and development of water resources and their optimum utilization.
- The first National Water Policy was adopted in 1987. It was reviewed and updated in 2002 and later in 2012.
The major provisions under the policy are:
- Envisages to establish a standardized national information system with a network of data banks and data bases.
- Resource planning and recycling for providing maximum availability.
- To give importance to the impact of projects on human settlements and environment.
- Guidelines for the safety of storage dams and other water-related structures.
- Regulate exploitation of groundwater.
- Setting water allocation priorities in the following order: Drinking water, Irrigation, Hydropower, Navigation, Industrial and other uses.
- The water rates for surface water and ground water should be rationalized with due regard to the interests of small and marginal farmers.
Criticism of NWP
- Paradigm shift in approach from service provider of water to facilitator of service.
- Policy does not deter use among those who can afford to pay for water.
- PPP mode may not ensure equity.
- Policy does not follow polluter pay principle, rather it gives incentives for effluent treatment.
- Policy was criticized for terming Water as an economic good.
- In some regions it has not yet become successful.
- The policy does not focus on the reduction of water pollution.
- The policy doesn’t lay out objective for commercial use of water, especially ground water
Challenges of water resources in India
- Rapid growth in demand for water due to population growth, urbanization and changing lifestyle pose serious challenges to water security.
- There is wide temporal and spatial variation in availability of water, which may increase substantially due to a combination of climate change, causing deepening of water crisis and incidences of water related disasters.
- Climate change may also increase the sea levels. This may lead to salinity intrusion in ground water aquifers / surface waters and increased coastal inundation in coastal regions.
- Skewed availability of water between different regions and different people in the same region and also the intermittent and unreliable water supply system has the potential of causing social unrest.
- Groundwater, though part of hydrological cycle and a community resource, is still perceived as an individual property and is exploited inequitably and without any consideration.
- Water resources projects are being planned and implemented in a fragmented manner without giving due consideration to optimum utilization and environment sustainability.
- Inter-regional, inter-State, intra-State disputes in sharing of water, strain relationships and hamper the optimal utilization of water through scientific planning on basin/sub-basin basis.
- Natural water bodies and drainage channels are being encroached upon, and diverted for other purposes.
- Growing pollution of water sources, especially through industrial effluents, is affecting the availability of safe water besides causing environmental and health hazards.
- Inadequate sanitation and lack of sewage treatment are polluting the water sources.
- Low consciousness about the overall scarcity and economic value of water results in its wastage and inefficient use.
- India has more than 18 % of the world’s population, but has only 4% of world’s renewable water resources and 2.4% of world’s land area.
Bilateral & International Relations
Indian Prime Minister pitches for India’s NSG entry
Prime Minister of India made a pitch for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in New York, as he addressed a largely business gathering in the Bloomberg Global Business Forum where he delivered the keynote address.
Highlights of the speech
- Since India is not a member of the NSG, it does not have the ability to get the fuel for producing nuclear energy.
- India has aimed for 450 GW target for solar energy by 2030.
- India, being the third largest coal reserves in the world, need to make mining more environmentally friendly and adopt coal gasification technology.
- Intellectual property (IP) has been a concern for U.S. businesses as India has continued to be placed on a S. government’s ‘Priority Watch List’ for its IPR practices.
About Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)
- Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development.
- The NSG was founded in response to the Indian nuclear test in May 1974 to stop what it called the misuse of nuclear material meant for peaceful purposes.
- Currently, it has 48 members and European Commission is its Permanent Observer.
Why India needs permanent membership?
- India is currently engaged in nuclear trade with international partners based on a waiver from the NSG in 2008.
- In other words, the NSG, in 2008, permitted its members to do civil nuclear cooperation with India despite India not being a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
- However, as the waiver is in the form of a concession without according India the status of a full member, it has an element of unpredictability and attendant risks in the long run for India’s long-term nuclear power programme.
- Since then, India has been trying to upgrade the waiver into a full member status.
- However, While the S. support India’s entry into the NSG, China has opposed it saying India has not signed the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. The support of the US for India was seen in the march 2019 announcement that six US companies would set up nuclear power reactors in India.
Benefits of full membership
- Full membership of the NSG would enable India to have enhanced global access to nuclear technology, fuel, materials and components required for expanding civil nuclear programme.
- It would advance energy security, contribute to India’s growth strategy based on clean energy to combat climate change, and strengthen global nuclear non-proliferation.
How a US President can be impeached?
Recently, US House of Representatives Speaker announced that the House would launch an impeachment inquiry against US President, over his alleged efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, his potential rival in the 2020 elections.
Procedure of Impeachment in US
- Impeachment is a provision that allows Congress to remove the President of the United States. President can be removed from office for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
- Under the US Constitution, the House of Representatives (Lower House) has the sole power of impeachment while the Senate (Upper House) has the sole power to try all impeachments.
- The Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court has the duty of presiding over impeachment trials in the Senate.
Ground of impeachment:
- The President can be removed from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”.
- Essentially, it means an abuse of power by a high-level public official. This does not necessarily have to be a violation of an ordinary criminal statute. Historically, in the US, it has encompassed corruption and other abuses, including trying to obstruct judicial proceedings.
What’s the procedure?
- It begins with an investigation by a House committee. If they find that there is enough evidence of wrongdoing, it will refer the matter to the full House.
HOUSE VOTE: When the full House votes, if one or more of the articles of impeachment gets a majority vote, the President is impeached. Next, the proceedings move to the Senate.
SENATE TRIAL & VOTE: The Senate holds a trial, overseen by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. A team of lawmakers from the House, known as managers, play the role of prosecutors. The President has defence lawyers, and the Senate serves as the jury. If at least two-thirds of the Senators present find the President guilty, he is removed and the Vice President takes over as President.
- Numbers in the Houses: The House has 235 Democrats, 199 Republicans, and one independent. The Democrats could, therefore, impeach Trump with no Republican support.
- The Senate has 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents who usually vote with the Democrats. Conviction of the President would require 67 votes, which cannot happen unless some Republicans vote against him.
Defence & Security Issues
Defense Minister Commissions patrol vessel Varaha
Defense Minister commissioned the Coast Guard offshore patrol vessel ICGS ‘Varaha’ at the Chennai Port Trust in Chennai.
About Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Varaha
- It is one of the seven Vikram-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) being built at the Kattupalli shipyard, Chennai by for the Indian Coast Guard.
- ‘Varaha’ refers to the third incarnation of Lord Vishnu who took the form of a boar to rescue Goddess Earth from the ocean by lifting her on his tusks.
Special features of ICGS Varaha
- Integrated Bridge System
- Automated power management system
- High power external firefighting system
- Indigenously built Integrated platform management system
- Help Traversing System
- Capabilities to operate Helicopters developed indigenously by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)
- Capabilities of carrying limited Pollution Response equipment to contain oil spill at Sea
200 years on, why Odisha’s Paika Rebellion continues to agitate
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind will visit Odisha’s Khorda district to lay the foundation of a memorial dedicated to the 1817 Paika Rebellion.
Who were Paikas?
- Paiks were the traditional landed militia of Odisha, used to perform policing functions.
- They owned rent-free land (nish-kar jagirs) that was given to them for their military service to Kingdom of Khurda.
- However, they were rendered landless by the policies of British East India Company and Bengali landlords.
About Paika Rebellion
- Paika Rebellion of 1817 is an armed rebellion against British colonialism.
- The revolution was in response to the tinkering of the revenue system by the British in 1803.
- In new system, people of Odisha have to pay taxes in silver, which was more expensive for them, and resulted in their further marginalisation and oppression. In response, the farming community of Odisha rose in rebellion.
- At that juncture, Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar, the military chief of the King of Khurda, led the army of Paikas and forced the British to retreat. This came to be known as Paika Bidroh (Paika rebellion).
- The main cause of the revolution was the takeover of the rent-free land that had been given to the Paiks for their military service to the Kingdom of Khurda.
- Though the revolution occurred before the first war of independence in 1857, the revolution did not get similar recognition like that of the Revolt of 1857.
Recognition given to Paika Rebellion
- In April 2017, to mark the 200th anniversary of the Paika Rebellion, Prime Minister honored descendants of families that were associated with the uprising.
- In 2017, then Culture Minister recognized the rebellion of Khorda as the ‘first well organised rebellion against the British’.
- In 2018, the NCERT introduced a page on the Paika rebellion in the Class-8 history textbook and a stamp and a coin was released to commemorate the rebellion.
Science & Technology
After US FDA flags ranitidine, DCGI asks state regulators to get antacid tested for carcinogens
Recently, the USFDA had issued a safety alert citing the low-level presence of NDMA in ranitidine, including those commonly known under the brand name Zantac.,
What is the issue?
- Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation has asked its state-level counterparts to get manufacturers to test anti-acidity drug ranitidine for the nitrosamine impurity called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).
- This comes just days after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) flagged low-level presence of carcinogenic substance in ranitidine.
- The N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ and is an environmental contaminant.
Other drugs with the same problem
- The US FDA sent out a warning letter to a Chinese company over the drug ‘Valsartan’ due to the same NDMA impurities in 2018.
- Indian company had changed their manufacturing process for the Valsartan API soon after this.
Why are scientists so excited about a recently claimed quantum computing milestone?
Google researchers claim to have achieved a major milestone in computer science known as “quantum supremacy.”
What is quantum supremacy?
- Quantum supremacy means that researchers have been able to use a quantum computer to perform a single calculation that no conventional computer, even the biggest supercomputer, can perform in a reasonable amount of time.
What is the recent achievement of Google?
- The Google Inc. has performed a calculation, using a new quantum processor called to check whether the output of an algorithm for generating random numbers was truly random within little over 3 minutes.
- On the other hand, world’s most powerful commercially-available computer named the ‘Summit 3’ would take about 10,000 years to perform the same task Google’s used.
Comparison between Classical computers and Quantum computers
- Classical computers process information in a binary format, called bits, which can represent either a 0 or 1. Quantum computers use logical units called quantum bits (qubits) that can be put into a quantum state where they can simultaneously represent both 0 and 1.
- While the bits in a classical computer all operate independently from one another, in a quantum computer, the status of one qubit effects the status of all the other qubits in the system, so they can all work together to achieve a solution.
- However, while a conventional computer gives the same answer to a problem every time a programme is run, the outputs of a quantum computer does not always produce the same answer. Hence, to use a quantum computer, one has to run a calculation thousands or even millions of times, and the array of outputs converge around the answer that is most likely to be correct.
- Today’s conventional computers can get correct answer to most mathematical problems compared to today’s quantum computers because when qubits fall out of a quantum state, they introduce errors into the calculations. Those errors have to be corrected by using additional qubits.
- The Google researchers say that their quantum computer may also have uses in optimization problems, machine learning as well as materials science and chemistry.
- However, it is unclear how much of an advantage Google’s new quantum computing hardware will have in these other applications.
- For many business applications, in fact, today’s quantum computers are no match for the power and accuracy of today’s conventional laptops.
Nanocurcumin enhances BCG vaccine efficacy
Indian scientists have found that BCG – the world’s only vaccine against TB – can be made more effective if nano-particles of curcumin, the main component of the popular kitchen spice turmeric are used in tandem with the shot.
What is Curcumin?
- Curcumin, a yellow chemical produced by Curcuma longa plants, is the main active ingredient in turmeric.
- It is sold as an herbal supplement, cosmetics ingredient, food flavoring, and food coloring.
- However, the only disadvantage that it suffers is of low aqueous solubility and poor bioavailability.
- Hence, there are ongoing experiments worldwide to develop a method for the preparation of nanoparticles of curcumin to improve its aqueous-phase solubility and improve its antimicrobial properties.
What is BCG Vaccine?
- The Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine is one of the most widely used of all current vaccine to treat TB (tuberculosis) disease.
Need for such research
- In children, the BCG vaccine affects two types of immune cells: i) Effector memory T cells and ii) Central memory T cells.
- While the effector memory T cells kills TB bacteria immediately, the central memory T cells help in long-term protection in children from childhood TB.
- However, after some time, the central memory cells diminish. As a result, the protection does not last beyond childhood and adults become vulnerable to TB infection despite BCG vaccination.
- Thus the BCG vaccine is not protective in adults.
About the research
- A study carried out on mice models has found that curcumin in nanoparticle form has the potential to enhance the efficacy of BCG vaccine such that it gives protection against adult pulmonary TB.
- The researchers found that injecting curcumin nanoparticles soon after vaccinating the mice with BCG results in enhancement of T central memory cells (responsible for long-term protection against TB infection).
How did it enhance T central memory cells?
It enhances the BCG vaccine in two ways:
Increasing the number of central memory cells
- Efficacy of the BCG vaccine can be enhanced by increasing the number of central memory cells so they last longer and confer protection for longer duration.
- The potassium ion channel (Kv1.3) separates the central memory cells from effector memory T cells.
- In mice, the nanocurcumin blocks this channel and as a result the conversion of central memory cells into effector memory cells reduced. Hence, the number of central memory cells increases leading to better vaccine efficacy.
Enhance the level of TB-specific acquired immune cells
- Curcumin also helps in the activation of innate immune cells known as macrophages and dendritic cells. TB bacteria grow inside the macrophages. But once activated by curcumin nanoparticles, these cells clear the bacteria and also enhance the level of TB-specific acquired immune cells (Th1 and Th17 cells).
- It also reduces the level of certain other cells (Th2 and Tregs) which destroy the Th1 and Th17 cells that enhances BCG vaccine effect.
Key Facts for Prelims
Govt institutes Sardar Patel National Unity Award
The government has instituted Sardar Patel National Unity Award for outstanding contribution of an individual, institution or group for the unity and integrity of India.
About the Sardar Patel National Unity Award
- This award is the highest civilian award in the field of contribution to the unity and integrity of India.
- The award will be announced on the occasion of the National Unity Day on October 31, the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel.
- It will be conferred by the President by a Sanad under his hand and seal and presented by him in a presentation ceremony along with the Padma award presentation ceremony held in Rashtrapati Bhawan.
- The award will be presented every year and any institute or individual can file the nomination for award.
- An Award Committee would be constituted by the Prime Minister, which would include the Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Secretary to the President, Home Secretary as Members and three-four eminent persons selected by the Prime Minister.
- The Award would consist of a medal and a citation. No monetary grant or cash award would be attached to this Award.
- It would not be conferred posthumously except in very rare and highly deserving cases.
- Not more than three awards will be given in a year.
- Any Indian national or institution or organization based in India would be able to nominate an individual for consideration for this Award.
- Individuals may also nominate themselves. State Governments, UT Administrations and Ministries of Government of India may also send nominations.
World Maritime Day 2019
World Maritime Day 2019 emphasizes on the importance of maritime security, marine environment and shipping safety.
About World Maritime Day 2019
- World Maritime Day 2019 is being observed on September 26 to celebrate the maritime industry’s contribution and emphasizes on the importance of maritime security, marine environment and shipping safety.
- The theme World Maritime Day 2019 is “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”. Its objective is to create awareness on gender equality and to highlight the contribution of women in the maritime sector.
Women in Maritime Industry
- According to the UN, women represent only 2% of world’s total seafarers. However, 94% of women seafarers are working in the cruise industry.
- IMO started its gender equality programme in 1988 to bring gender equality in the maritime industry.
Virat Kohli is close to a ban: How ICC’s demerit point system works
The Indian skipper has accumulated three demerit points since he received his first in the Centurion Test on January 15, 2018.
How does International Cricket Council (ICC)’s Demerit Points system works?
- ICC’s demerit points system, introduced in 2016, is a player’s personal disciplinary record.
- The idea behind the demerit points system is to punish players for repeatedly breaking the Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct describes four different levels of offences, each of which have a certain number of demerit points assigned to them.
- For instance, Level 1 offences include showing any sort of dissent at an umpire’s decision, using obscene, offensive language/gestures, excessive appealing and aggressive pointing towards the pavilion by any member of a fielding team when a batsman gets out etc.
- When a player reaches four or more demerit points within 24 months, the demerit points are converted into suspension points leading to a player getting suspended from international cricket.
- Two suspension points mean a ban for either one Test or two ODIs or two T20Is depending on which game is first.
Who decides what level of offence has been committed?
- In most cases, it is the on-field umpires who report offences to the match referee. He then decides on the number of demerit points.