Current Affairs Analysis

27th June 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Nasha Mukt Bharat; National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction; World Drug Report 2020; International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking; India’s first assessment of public and private health care availability; Quick Interchange Station; Battery swapping facility; Pollinator Week; Lal-Bal-Pal; Department of Science and Technology; Sardar Patel National Unity Award; Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel; Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989; Vivekananda Yoga University; Anthropause; Maareech; Wheat Production etc.
By IASToppers
June 27, 2020

Contents

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Nasha Mukt Bharat: Annual Action Plan

Issues related to Health & Education

  • World Drug Report 2020
  • International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking
  • India’s first assessment of public and private health care availability

Economy

  • IOC launches battery swapping facility

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Pollinator Week

Art & Culture

  • NGO to revive the spirit of Lal-Bal-Pal

Science & Technology

  • DST celebrates Golden Jubilee Commemoration Year

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Sardar Patel National Unity Award
  • Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989
  • Vivekananda Yoga University
  • Anthropause
  • Maareech
  • Wheat Production

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Government Schemes & Policies

Nasha Mukt Bharat: Annual Action Plan

Nasha Mukt Bharat: Annual Action Plan (2020-21) was e-launched by the Ministry of State for Social Justice and Empowerment on the occasion of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (26 June).

Major Highlights:

  • The Nasha Mukt Bharat Annual Action Plan for 2020-21 would focus on 272 most affected districts and launch a three-pronged attack combining efforts of Narcotics Bureau, Outreach/Awareness by Social Justice and Treatment through the Health Department.
  • The Action Plan has the following components: Awareness generation programmes; Focus on Higher Educational institutions, University Campuses and Schools; Community outreach and identification of dependent population; Focus on Treatment facilities in Hospital settings; and Capacity Building Programmes for Service Provider.
  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is the nodal Ministry for drug demand reduction which coordinates and monitors all aspects of drug abuse prevention.
  • It includes assessment of the extent of the problem, preventive action, treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, dissemination of information and public awareness.

National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction:

  • The Ministry has also prepared a National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction for the period 2018-2025.
  • It aims at reduction of adverse consequences of drug abuse through a multi-pronged strategy involving education, de-addiction and rehabilitation of affected individuals and their families.
  • The Action Plan includes components for preventive education and awareness generation, capacity building, treatment and rehabilitation, setting quality standards, focussed intervention in vulnerable areas, skill development, vocational training and livelihood support of ex-drug addicts, State/UT specific interventions, surveys, studies, evaluation and research etc.
  • The funds for this programme in the year 2020-21 has been increased to Rs 260 crores.

 [Ref: PIB]

Issues related to Health & Education

World Drug Report 2020

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has released its 2020 World Drug Report.

Major Highlights:

  • UNODC has highlighted a wide range of possible consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on illegal drug production, supply and consumption.
  • This could lead to an increase in the number of people resorting to illicit activities linked to drugs to make a living.
  • As experienced during the 2008 economic crisis, it could result in reductions in drug-related budgets of the governments; overall increase in drug use, with a shift towards cheaper and more harmful drugs.
  • The lockdown could hinder the production and sale of opiates in major producing countries. The key months for the opium harvest in Afghanistan are March to June.
  • Drug trafficking by air is likely to be completely disrupted by the restrictions on air travel. There are signs of increased use of maritime routes.
  • The lockdown is increasing demand for cannabis, the restrictions have resulted in increasing cannabis sales over the darknet.
  • An estimated 192 million people used cannabis in 2018, making it the most used drug globally.

Maritime routes:

  • A recent uptick in heroin seizures in the Indian Ocean could be interpreted as an indication of an increase in the use of maritime routes for trafficking heroin to Europe along the ‘southern route’.
  • The large shipments of cocaine are still being trafficked but by alternative means, via sea routes.
[Ref: The Hindu]

International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

The International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking or the World Drug Day is celebrated annually on June 26.

About the day:

  • The United Nations General Assembly designated June 26 as International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in December 1987.
  • The theme of World Drug Day 2020 is Better Knowledge for Better Care.
  • It emphasises the need to improve the understanding of the world drug problem and how better knowledge will foster greater international cooperation for countering its impact on health, governance and security.
  • The day is dedicated to eradicating drug abuse and neutralise the systemic challenges which sustain the illegal drug issues.

Drug abuse:

  • Drug abuse does not only include consumption of drugs such as cocaine, hallucinogens, cannabis, opiates among others, but also includes prescription medications such as painkillers and sleeping pills.
  • According to the World Drug Report 2017, released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), about a quarter of a billion people used drugs at least once in 2015.

 [Ref: Hindustan Times]

India’s first assessment of public and private health care availability

According to India’s first comprehensive assessment of public and private health care availability and quality, at least two of every three doctors in rural India are informal providers of care, with no qualifications in modern system of medicine.

Major Highlights:

  • The survey of 1,519 villages across 19 states was done in 2009 by researchers from the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) in New Delhi.
  • Seventy five percent of Indian villages have at least one health care provider and a village on average has three primary health providers.
  • However, 86% of them are private doctors and 68% have no formal medical training.
  • The study found that formal qualifications were not a predictor of quality, with the medical knowledge of informal providers in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka being higher than that of trained doctors in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
  • For the vast majority of rural households, informal providers–usually called quacks– are the only option that is locally available.
  • The share of informal providers did not decline with rising socioeconomic status, though the quality of doctors improved.
  • The informal providers account for 68% of the total provider population in rural India, with 24% of them being Ayush doctors practising traditional and alternative stems of medicine and only 8% having an MBBS degree.

Report by WHO:

  • As per the World Health Organization’s 2016 report on ‘The Health Workforce in India’, 57.3% people practising allopathic medicine in India did not have a medical qualification, and 31.4% were educated only up to secondary school level.

 [Ref: Hindustan Times]

Economy

IOC launches Battery swapping facility

Indian Oil Corporation Limited and Sun Mobility announced the launch of a battery swapping facility for electric vehicles at IOC petrol pumps, offering to replace discharged batteries with fully charged ones within minutes.

Major Highlights:

  • IOC will begin with a pilot project of battery swapping called Quick Interchange Station (QIS) at one of its outlets in Chandigarh and gradually scale it up to 20 stations.
  • Battery swapping technology offers the best alternative to no or slow charging options and can help EV drivers make optimum use of their operational hours.
  • Indian Oil would consider various aspects of the battery-swapping technology for scaling up its presence in the EV infrastructure business.
  • The battery swapping model is initially targeted at commercial vehicles such as electric autos, rickshaws and electric two-wheelers and EVs that are either factory fitted or retrofitted.

Significance:

  • Battery swapping facilities and technologies could go a long way in reducing range-related concerns in EVs.
  • Range anxiety is one of the major stumbling blocks towards the mass adoption of EVs around the world.
  • It refers to the number of kilometres a vehicle can travel before requiring a charge.

Benefits of Battery Swapping technology:

i. User benefits:

  • It is quick (≤ 3 mins) and makes the experience as convenient as refuelling at a petrol pump.
  • It gives the option of selling the car separate from battery thereby reducing the cost by almost 30-50% since the battery is the most expensive part in it.
  • Battery Swapping Operators are more in control of batteries and will ensure maximum battery usage and proper disposal.

ii. DISCOM benefits:

  • This will increase revenue for DISCOMs by providing additional demand from reliable commercial end-users.
  • It can be flexible in terms of charging (can be done during non-peak hours), hence balancing the peak load of the grid.

iii. Energy operator benefits:

  • This will ensure better utilization of the land as swapping requires a fraction of land needed compared to the charging station.
  • This will be an attractive option for urban areas and reduce the financial burden for the energy operators and will provide new business opportunities.

 [Ref: Hindustan Times; News18]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Pollinator Week

June 22-28 is observed as Pollinator Week globally.

About the week:

  • The Pollinator Week (June 22-28) was initiated by non-profit Pollinator Partnership and the United States’ Senate in 2007.
  • It is observed to make people increasingly aware of how this activity affects lives and livelihoods across the world.

Pollinators:

  • A pollinator is an animal that causes plants to make fruit or seeds.
  • They do this by moving pollen from one part of the flower of a plant to another part and this pollen then fertilizes the plant.
  • There are two categories of pollinators: invertebrates and vertebrates.
  • Well-known invertebrate pollinators include bees, moths, flies, wasps, beetles and butterflies.
  • The vertebrate pollinators include monkeys, rodents, lemurs, tree squirrels and birds.
  • More than 180,000 plant species, including 1,200 crop varieties, across the world, depend on pollinators to reproduce.
  • But the little creatures, like the bees and the butterflies, have increasingly been under threat.

Decline in numbers:

  • Around 40 % of invertebrate pollinator species — particularly bees and butterflies — face extinction across the world.
  • Around 16.5 % of vertebrate pollinators are threatened with extinction.

Major causes for the decline:

The pollinators are declining as a result of an increase in human activities:

  • Land-use change and fragmentation.
  • Changes in agricultural practices including the use of chemical pesticides, fungicides and insecticides.
  • Change in the cropping pattern and crops like the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and mono-cropping.
  • High environmental pollution from heavy metals and nitrogen.
  • Growth of invasive alien species.
[Ref: DownToEarth]

Art & Culture

NGO to revive the spirit of Lal-Bal-Pal

The Pune-based non-governmental organisation Sarhad will launch a series of literary and cultural programmes to strengthen connections between Maharashtra and West Bengal.

Major Highlights:

  • The programmes are aimed to revive the Independence-era spirit of the ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’, named after nationalists Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal, and to mark the death centenary of Tilak.
  • The programmes are to be inaugurated on August 1 through videoconferencing in the presence of Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Punjab and Maharashtra.
  • Punjab, Bengal and Maharashtra have played significant roles during the struggle for Indian Independence.
  • The historical association and cultural bonds among the three States were solidified in the modern era by the trinity of ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’.

Contributions of Lal-Bal-Pal:

  • ‘Lal Bal Pal’ was a triumvirate of assertive nationalists in British-ruled India in the early 20th century, from 1906 to 1918.
  • They advocated the Swadeshi movement involving the boycott of all imported items and the use of Indian-made goods in 1907 during the anti-Partition agitation in Bengal which began in 1905.
  • Lal-Bal-Pal mobilized Indians across the country against the Bengal partition, and the demonstrations, strikes and boycotts of British goods that began in Bengal soon spread to other regions in a broader protest against the Raj.
  • The nationalist movement gradually faded with the arrest of its main leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak and retirement of Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh from active politics.
  • Lala Lajpat Rai suffered from injuries due to lathi (baton) charge and died on 17 November 1928 of a heart attack.

 [Ref: The Hindu]

Science & Technology

DST celebrates Golden Jubilee Commemoration Year

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) is observing Golden Jubilee Commemoration Year during the period 3rd May 2020 to 2nd May 2021.

Department of Science and Technology:

  • The Department of Science and Technology (DST) is a department within the Ministry of Science and Technology in India.
  • It was established on 3rd May 1971.
  • It gives funds to various approved scientific projects in India.
  • It also supports various researchers in India to attend conferences abroad and to go for experimental works.
  • DST supports open access to scientific knowledge, originated from the public-funded research in India.

Objectives:

  • To promote new areas of Science & Technology.
  • To play the role of a nodal department for organising, coordinating and promoting S&T activities in the country.

Functions:

  • Formulation of policies relating to Science and Technology.
  • Matters relating to the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Cabinet (SACC).
  • Promotion of new areas of Science and Technology with special emphasis on emerging areas.
  • Research and Development through its research institutions or laboratories for development of indigenous technologies.
  • Undertaking or financially sponsoring scientific and technological surveys, research design and development, where necessary.
  • Support and Grants-in-aid to Scientific Research Institutions, Scientific Associations and Bodies.
  • Application of Science and Technology for weaker sections, women and other disadvantaged sections of Society, etc.
[Ref: PIB]

Key Facts for Prelims

Sardar Patel National Unity Award

The online nomination process for Sardar Patel National Unity Award has been extended till August 2020.

National Unity Award:

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs notified the institution of the Sardar Patel National Unity Award in September 2019.
  • It is the highest civilian award in the field of contribution to the unity and integrity of India.
  • The Award seeks to recognize notable and inspiring contributions to promote the cause of national unity and integrity and to reinforce the value of a strong and united India.

About Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel:

  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (1875–1950), was a leading figure in the nonviolent Indian Independence Movement and the First Deputy Prime Minister/ Home Minister of Independent India.

Role in Indian Freedom Struggle:

  • In 1918, he led a massive No Tax Campaign that urged the farmers not to pay taxes after the British insisted on tax after the floods in Kaira, Gujarat.
  • In 1928, he successfully led the Bardoli campaign and earned the title Sardar.
  • He was deeply influenced by Gandhi’s ideology and principles and actively supported the non-cooperation Movement launched by Gandhi.
  • In 1930, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was among the leaders imprisoned for participating in the Salt Satyagraha initiated by Mahatma Gandhi.
  • He was elected as the President of Indian National Congress in its Karachi session, 1931.
  • In the 1942 Quit India Movement, Patel continued his support to Gandhi when several leaders criticized Gandhi.
  • After independence, he was crucial in the integration of over 500 princely states into the Indian Union. His efforts towards consolidation of India earned him the title Iron Man of India.
  • He was the key force in establishing the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service.
  • The Civil Services Day is celebrated every year on April 21 to mark Sardar Patel’s address to the probationers at the All India Administrative Service Training School at Delhi on this day in 1947.
  • He was honoured with the highest civilian award Bharat Ratna in 1991.
[Ref: PIB; The Hindu]

Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989

  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has issued a notification for an amendment to the FORM 1 (Declaration about physical fitness) and FORM 1A (Medical certificate) of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989.
  • The move is aimed for enabling the Citizens with mild to medium colour blindness in obtaining the Driving License.

Vivekananda Yoga University

  • As part of the 6th International Yoga Day commemorations, the world’s first yoga university outside India has been launched in Los Angeles.
  • The university is named as ‘The Vivekananda Yoga University (VaYU)’.
  • It will offer programmes that combine scientific principles and modern research approaches to the ancient Indian practice of yoga.

Anthropause

  • Researchers in the UK are set to study Anthropause, a term they have coined to refer to the coronavirus-induced lockdown period and its impact on other species.
  • Anthropause refers specifically to a considerable global slowing of modern human activities, notably travel.
  • The unprecedented curbs imposed on millions of people around the world, mainly due to restrictions in travel, led to reports of unusual animal behaviour.
  • They believe studying this period will provide valuable insights into the relationship between human-wildlife interactions in the 21st century.
  • The insights may be useful in preserving global biodiversity, maintaining the integrity of ecosystems and predicting global zoonoses and environmental changes.

Maareech

  • Anti-Submarine Warfare capability of the Indian Navy has received a major boost with the conclusion of a contract for Advanced Torpedo Decoy System Maareech capable of being fired from all frontline warships.
  • It is designed indigenously by DRDO labs. Bharat Electronics Limited, a Defence PSU, would undertake the production of this decoy system.

Wheat Production

  • Madhya Pradesh in 2020 has surpassed Punjab to become the number one contributor of wheat.
  • Punjab, however, is still a way ahead from MP as far as per hectare productivity of wheat is concerned, which is around 52 % more (per hectare) than MP.
  • Of the total wheat area in the country, MP’s share was 31 %, while Punjab cultivated wheat on 10.6 % of the total national area.
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