Issues related to Health & Education
- India’s deadly Nipah virus resurfaces in Kerala
- India ranks 95th among 129 countries in SDG Gender Index
Bilateral & International Relations
- Security Council Renews Sanctions against South Sudan
- 14th summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
- S. President terminates preferential trade status for India under GSP
- India, US, Japan and Australia for ASEAN-Led Architecture Mechanism for Indo-Pacific
Defence & Security Issues
- Defence Minister visits Siachen Glacier
- Andhra Pradesh allow CBI to raid without prior permission
- Italy’s Mount Etna erupted
Key Facts for Prelims
- Travel portal ‘UdChalo’ to give a new lease of life to wounded soldiers
- Financial Literacy Week 2019
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Issues related to Health & Education
India’s deadly Nipah virus resurfaces in Kerala
The deadly Nipah Virus has once again resurfaced in Kerala.
All about Nipah Virus (NiV) Infection:
NiV infection is zoonotic disease (disease transmitted to humans from animals) that causes severe disease in both animals and humans.
- The organism which causes Nipah Virus encephalitis is RNA or Ribonucleic acid virus of family Paramyxoviridae, genus Henipavirus, and is closely related to Hendra virus.
- The natural host of the virus are fruit bats belonging to the family Pteropodidae.
- The virus is present in bat urine and potentially, bat faeces, saliva, and birthing fluids. Presumably, first incidence of NiV infection occurred when pigs in Malaysian farms came in contact with fruit bats who had lost their habitats due to deforestation.
- In 2004, humans were affected after eating the date palm contaminated by infected fruit bats. Pigs can also act as intermediate hosts.
- It was first identified in 1999 during outbreak among pig farmers in Malaysia and Singapore.
- It gets its name from Sungai Nipah, a Malaysian village, where pig farmers became ill with encephalitis.
- The virus spreads fast and is mostly fatal. Infected bats shed virus in their excretion and secretion. It cannot be transmitted through air.
- It is transmitted through direct contact with infected bats, pigs. Human to Human transmission from other NiV-infected people is also reported.
Signs & Symptoms:
- NiV infection in humans has range of clinical presentations i.e., from asymptomatic infection to acute respitatory syndrome and fatal encephalitis (inflammation of brain).
- After exposure and incubation period of 5 to 14 days, illness presents with 3-4 days of fever and headache, followed by drowsiness, disorientation and mental confusion. These signs and symptoms can progress to coma within 24 to 48 hours.
- The mortality rate of patients infected with NiV infection is reportedly 70%. It is capable of causing diseases in domestic animals too.
- There is no vaccine for NiV disease either for humans or animals. The main treatment for those infected is intensive supportive care and supportive medicines.
- NiV Infection can be prevented by avoiding exposure of infected people without protective gear. In disease prone areas, fruits strewn on the ground should not be eaten, for safety.
- According to WHO, ribavarin can reduce the symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and convulsions associated with the disease.
- Individuals infected need to be hospitalised and isolated. Special care should be taken to prevent human-to-human transmission.
- Surveillance systems should be established to detect the virus quickly and to initiate appropriate control measures.
India ranks 95th among 129 countries in SDG Gender Index
India ranked 95th out of 129 countries in a new index that measures global gender equality looking at aspects such as poverty, health, education, literacy, political representation and equality at the workplace.
Sustainable Development Goals Gender Index
- The Sustainable Development Goals Gender Index has been developed by UK-based Equal Measures 2030, a joint effort of regional and global organisations including African Women’s Development and Communication Network, Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and International Women’s Health Coalition.
- The new index includes 51 indicators across 14 of the 17 official Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- The next iteration of the index will be launched in 2021 and updated regularly until 2030.
India’s position in Global gender equality index:
- India ranks 17th out of the 23 Asia and the Pacific countries covered by the index.
- Top three highest score of India was seen on SDG 3 of health, SDG 2 of hunger and nutrition and SDG 7 of energy.
- India’s lowest goal scores are on SDG 17 of partnerships (in the bottom 10 countries worldwide on the goal), SDG 9 of industry, infrastructure and innovation and SDG 13 of climate.
- Some of the factors based on which the ranking of India has been decided include proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments, extent to which a national budget is broken down by factors such as gender, age, income, or region (score of 0.0, tied for worst in region) and percentage of seats held by women on a country’s Supreme Court or highest court (4th worst in region).
- The world is furthest behind on gender equality issues related to public finance and better gender data (SDG 17), climate change (SDG 13), gender equality in industry and innovation (SDG 9) and – worryingly – the standalone ‘gender equality’ goal (SDG 5).
- Overall, countries have performed best on hunger and nutrition (SDG 2), water and sanitation (SDG 6), health (SDG 3) and education (SDG 4).
- Denmark, Finland, Sweden were the top three countries. Chad nation was at the bottom of the list.
- The majority of the top scoring countries on indicators related to women’s participation in government and the judiciary are Latin American and Sub-Saharan African countries.
- Kenya has very high rates of women who use digital banking – higher rates than three quarters of the world’s countries.
Bilateral & International Relations
Security Council Renews Sanctions against South Sudan
Despite resistance from Russia, China and African countries, United Nation Security Council (UNSC) has extended an arms embargo and sanctions on South Sudan for a year.
About UN Security Council sanctions regime:
- The Security Council can take action to maintain or restore international peace and security under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
- Sanctions measures under Article 41 encompass a broad range of enforcement options that do not involve the use of armed forces.
- Since 1966, the Security Council has established 30 sanctions regimes against ISIL (Da’esh) & Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
- The UNSC places sanctions to constrain terrorism, support peaceful transitions, deter non-constitutional changes, protect human rights and promote non-proliferation.
- The United Nations Charter’s Article 29 sets out that UNSC may establish subsidiary bodies such as committees or working groups as and when needed for performing its functions. One of them is Sanctions Committees which comprises of 15 members of the Council whose mandate is to impose sanctions.
1267 Sanctions Committee list of UN:
- The UNSC resolution 1267 was adopted unanimously on October 15, 1999. It is a consolidated list of people and entities it has determined as being associated with Al Qaeda or the Taliban, and laws which must be passed within each member nation to implement the sanctions.
Location of South Sudan:
South Sudan is a landlocked country in East-Central Africa.
- South Sudan is bordered by Sudan to the north, Ethiopia to the east, Kenya to the southeast, Uganda to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the southwest and the Central African Republic to the west.
- It includes the vast swamp region of the Sudd, formed by the White Nile and known locally as the Bahr al Jabal meaning “Mountain Sea”.
- The country gained its independence from the Republic of the Sudan in 2011.
14th summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
At the 14th OIC Summit in the city of Makkah, the 57-member OIC approved Arabia’s Yousef Aldobeay as its special envoy for J&K.
OIC’s envoy to J&K:
- The decision to appoint OIC’s special envoy to J&K came within three months of the OIC foreign ministers’ meet in the UAE where India was the guest of honour for the plenary session. On that occasion, Pakistan failed to get the Kashmir issue mentioned in the final joint declaration.
- As per people aware of the matter, the decision to appoint a special envoy for Kashmir issue was primarily the decision of the OIC contact group on Kashmir.
- Another possible reason is the role of Pakistan Army in support of Gulf states amid tensions with Iran which could have led to appoint a special envoy in response to the Pakistan’s request for such a post.
- India did not welcome the decision of appointment of special envoy to J&K.
About the Organization of Islamic Cooperation:
- The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) (formerly Organization of the Islamic Conference) has membership of 57 statesspread over four continents.
- The Organization was established upon a decision of the historical summit which took place in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco in 1969 following the criminal arson of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.
- Its headquartered at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. OIC has permanent delegations to United Nations and the European Union.
- Its objectives are to raise collective voice of the Muslim world and to ensure the safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.
- It is the second-largest intergovernmental organisation in the world after the United Nations.
- While the 22 members of the Arab League are also part of the OIC, the organisation has several significant non-Arab member countries, including Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. It also has five observer members, including Russia and Thailand.
- The OIC holds an Islamic Summit once every three years.
India and OIC:
- In this organization, India is a blocked country, though it has about 12% of the world’s Muslim population.
- India has been blocked by Pakistan from joining the OIC over Kashmir issue. OIC regard parts of Kashmir as “occupied by India”.
- The new programm ‘OIC-2025’ is anchored in the provisions of the OIC Charter and focuses on 18 priority areas.
- The priority areas include issues of Peace and Security, Palestine and Al-Quds, Poverty Alleviation, Counter-terrorism, Investment and Finance, Food Security, Science and Technology, Climate Change and Sustainability, Moderation, Culture and Interfaith Harmony, Empowerment of Women, Joint Islamic Humanitarian Action, Human Rights and Good Governance, among others.
- In 2018, Bangladesh proposed the restructuring of the charter of the OIC to pave way for the inclusion of non-Muslim countries like India as an “observer state”.
U.S. President terminates preferential trade status for India under GSP
US President has said that he intends to end India’s preferential trade treatment under generalised system of preferences (GSP) that allows $5.6 billion worth of Indian exports to enter the United States duty-free.
Reason for withdrawal:
- The US administration argues that India has failed to assure America that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets in numerous sectors.
- Moreover, as per USA, India has implemented a wide array of trade barriers that create serious negative effects on United States commerce.
Impact of withdrawal:
- India was the largest beneficiary of the programme in 2017 with $5.7 billion in imports to the US given duty-free status. Hence from now onwards, American importers have to pay more in the production of goods.
- On the other hand, as per Indian government, this move will not have a significant impact on exports to America from India as the benefits were only about USD 190 million annually.
- The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) began a review of India’s eligibility for GSP in April 2018.
- India had offered the U.S. a meaningful package that covered U.S. concerns, but this was rejected by USA.
Generalised System of Preferences (GSP)
- The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), instituted on January 1, 1976, is a the largest and oldest U.S. trade program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry of products.
- It is a preferential arrangement in the sense that it allows concessional low/zero tariff imports from developing countries.
- The objective of GSP was to give development support to poor countries by promoting exports from them into the developed countries.
How does GSP works?
- The US government selects a group of poor countries and a set of products and offers these countries lower-than-normal tariffs than it applies to imports from all other World Trade Organisation countries.
- The objective of GSP was to give development support to poor countries by promoting exports from them into the developed countries.
- There are eight mandatory and seven discretionary criteria for GSP eligibility. Mandatory criteria include a beneficiary not being a communist country and committing to end the worst forms of child labour. Discretionary criteria include the level of economic development and assurances on market access.
- The United States Trade Representative (USTR) makes annual reviews about the types of commodities to be selected under GSP and the countries to be benefited.
- The products covered under GSP are mainly agricultural products including animal husbandry, meat and fisheries and handicraft products.
- Imports from China and some developing countries are ineligible for GSP benefits.
What is the difference between GSP and the usual trade arrangement under WTO?
- Under the normal trade laws, the WTO members must give equal preferences to trade partners. without any discrimination between countries. This trade rule under the WTO is called the Most Favored Nation (MFN) clause.
- The MFN instructs non-discrimination that any favorable treatment to a particular country. At the same time, the WTO allows members to give special and differential treatment to from developing countries (like zero tariff imports). This is an exemption for MFN. The MSP given by developed countries including the US is an exception to MFN.
India, US, Japan and Australia for ASEAN-Led Architecture Mechanism for Indo-Pacific
The US, India, Australia and Japan collectively came out in strong support of an ASEAN-led mechanism to preserve and promote rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region where China is trying to dominate.
- The group of the four nations known as ‘the Quad’, during a meeting in Bangkok, held consultations on collective efforts to advance a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific.
- The four nations also reaffirmed their shared commitment to preserve and promote the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region.
- The meet also referred to efforts to “maintain universal respect for international law and freedom of navigation and overflight”.
- In the wake of china trying to expand its military presence in the region, in 2017, India, US, Australia and Japan reviewed the Quad Coalition to develop a new strategy for keeping the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.
About QUAD countries:
- Japan has proposed a “Quadrilateral” grouping consisting of India, Australia, USA and Japan. The idea was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007.
- Quad is a group of 4 countries: India, US, Japan and Australia.
- All four countries share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific.
- Each country is involved in development and economic projects as well as in promoting maritime domain awareness and maritime security.
- The grouping aims to be a grouping of countries all looking to balance China, using an international rules-based order to counter China’s aggressive power play.
- The purpose is to provide alternative debt financing for countries in the Indo-Pacific region.
- The ASEAN region along with India accounts for 1.85 billion people, which is one fourth of the global population and their combined GDP has been estimated at over $3.8 trillion.
- The ASEAN comprises Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.
Defence & Security Issues
Defence Minister visits Siachen Glacier
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has recently visited the Siachen glacier.
About Siachen Glacier:
- The Siachen Glacier is known as the highest battlefield of the world.
- Siachen Glacier lies in Northern Ladakh in the Karakorams, a mountain range originating from the Pamirs. Its position is located near Indo-Pak Line of Control.
- The total area of Siachen Glacier is approximately 78 km. Siachen is the 5th largest glacier of the Karakoram Range and second largest glacier in the world.
- Siachen is the source of the Nubra River that eventually feeds the Indus river.
- The average elevation of Siachen Glacier from sea level is approximately 17770 feet. Most of the Siachen Glacier as is the LoC, a disputed territory between India and Pakistan.
- The area of “Aksai Chin” is also located in this area. It is very important for India to deploy its troops in this area to monitor the activities of the Pakistan and China in this area. Prior to 1984 neither India nor Pakistan had any permanent presence in the area.
Siachen Glacier Dispute
- In the Shimla Agreement of 1972, the Siachen area was termed as barren and useless. But this agreement did not determine the boundary between India and Pakistan.
- While most positions were delineated as per the 1972 Shimla agreement, the boundary line was specified to only a point called NJ 9842, till the area from where Siachen starts.
- The agreement did not specifies which nation would have control over which area.
- In 1984, Indian Army discovered that Pakistan was issuing permission to foreign expeditions to trek in Siachen. But before the consignment of Pakistan suit taken place; India already deployed its troops on “Bilafond La Pass”.
- Thus, the Indian army launched Operation Meghdoot to capture the glacier.
- In 1987, Pakistan achieved success in creating a post called “Quaid Post” at an altitude of 21 thousand feet, because the Indian army had finished all its ammunition.
- Since India’s army had reached this place first that is why Indian army is sitting at higher altitude and Pakistan army is sitting at lower altitude; hence Indian army is in commanding position in this region.
- In 2003, there was an armistice treaty signed between India and Pakistan. Since then firing and bombardment has ceased in this area but the army of both nations is stationed here.
Where do both countries disagree?
- India’s stance is that the LoC runs from point NJ 9842 along the watersheds formed by the Saltoro Mountain ridge that puts the entire Siachen glacier within Indian territory.
- Pakistan claims that the line joins point NJ 9842 with the Karakoram Pass that lies towards the northeast, putting Siachen within its territory.
- The ground position now is that the Indian Army controls the entire Saltoro ridge.
A number of suggestions have been made on how the problem can be resolved, including
- Declaring the area a peace park
- Joint patrolling of the region
- International peacekeeping force being deployed in the region
Andhra Pradesh allow CBI to raid without prior permission
The governments in Andhra Pradesh has decided to restore the general consent for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to exercise its authority in the state.
What is general consent?
- Unlike the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is governed by its own NIA Act and has jurisdiction across the country, the CBI is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act that makes consent of a state government mandatory for conducting investigation in that state.
- There are two kinds of consent: case-specific and general. Given that the CBI has jurisdiction only over central government departments and employees, it can investigate a case involving state government employees or a violent crime in a given state only after that state government gives its consent.
- General consent is normally given to help the CBI seamlessly conduct its investigation into cases of corruption against central government employees in the concerned state. Almost all states have given such consent. Otherwise, the CBI would require consent in every case.
Withdrawal of general consent:
- Withdrawal of consent means that CBI officers will lose all powers of a police officer as soon as they enter the state unless the state government has allowed them.
- However, The CBI would still have the power to investigate old cases registered when general consent existed. CBI can probe anyone in a state that has withdrawn general consent if the case is not registered in that state.
- Also, cases registered anywhere else in the country, but involving people stationed in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, would allow CBI’s jurisdiction to extend to these states.
- Moreover, The CBI can always get a search warrant from a local court in the state and conduct searches. In case the search requires a surprise element, there is CrPC Section 166, which allows a police officer of one jurisdiction to ask an officer of another to carry out searches on his behalf. And if the first officer feels that the searches by the latter may lead to loss of evidence, the section allows the first officer to conduct searches himself after giving a notice to the latter.
Under what provision can general consent been withdrawn?
- In exercise of power conferred by Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, the state governments can withdraw the general consent accorded. Section 6 of the Act says, “Nothing contained in Section 5 (which deals with jurisdiction of CBI) shall be deemed to enable any member of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise powers and jurisdiction in any area in a State, not being a Union Territory or Railway, area, without the consent of the Government of that State.”
What happens in fresh cases?
- Withdrawal of consent will only bar the CBI from registering a case within the jurisdiction of states which have withdrawn consent. However, the CBI could still file cases in Delhi and continue to probe people inside such states.
- An October 11, 2018, order of the Delhi High Court makes it clear that the agency can probe anyone in a state that has withdrawn “general consent” if the case is not registered in that state. The order was given with regard to a case of corruption in Chhattisgarh, which also gives consent on a case-to-case basis. The court ordered that the CBI could probe the case without prior consent of the Chhattisgarh government since it was registered in Delhi.
- In November 2018, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal withdraw the general consent for CBI investigation.
- Over the years, several states including Sikkim, Nagaland, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka, had withdrawn the General consent.
Italy’s Mount Etna erupted
Recently, Italy’s Mount Etna volcano has erupted again.
About Mount Etna:
- Mount Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe and one of the world’s most frequently erupting volcanoes.
- Mount Etna, nearly 3330 meters tall, is an active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily, Italy.
- It lies above the convergent plate margin between the African Plate and the Eurasian Plate.
- It is Europe’s tallest and most active volcano.
- Mount Etna often comes to life in short, violent bursts called paroxysms.
- The mountain’s largest feature is the Valle del Bove (Valley of the Ox), a large horseshoe-shaped caldera on the eastern slope.
- It is a series of nested stratovolcanoes with four distinct summit craters with two central craters, called Bocca Nuova and Voragine; the Northeast crater; and the newest Southeast crater.
- Mount Etna has a longer written record of eruptions than any other volcano. The first recorded observation of a Mount Etna eruption was written by Diodorus Siculus in 425 B.C. The mountain was also described by the Roman poet Virgil in the Aenid.
- During the volcanic eruption of Etna in 1992 in Zafferana (Catania), Earthen dams were erected to contain the lava but were shortly overtopped by the flowing lava. Then after, the US soldiers conducted “Operation Volcano Buster” by flying cargo helicopters to drop huge concrete blocks at the edge of the lava tunnel.
- Locals call Mount Etna “Mongibello,” the beautiful mountain. They grow olives, grapes and fruit in the soil enriched by the fallen ash.
Why it is so active?
There are many theories as to why Mount Etna is so active.
- Mount Etna rests on the subduction boundary where the African tectonic plate is being pushed under the Eurasian plate. Etna, rather than sitting directly on the subduction zone, actually sits just in front of it.
- Etna sits on the active fault between the African plate and the Ionian microplate, which are both being subducted together beneath the Eurasian plate.
- Current evidence suggests that the much lighter Ionian plate may have broken and part of it forced backwards by the much heavier African plate. Magma directly from Earth’s mantle layer is being sucked into the space created by the tilting Ionian slab. This phenomenon would account the activeness of Etna.
Key Facts for Prelims
Travel portal ‘UdChalo’ to give a new lease of life to wounded soldiers
In a bid to make wounded soldiers, who are now confined to wheelchairs, self-reliant, an initiative ‘UdChalo’ is all set to take off at the Army’s Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre (PRC) in Punjab’s Mohali.
About UdChalo Portal:
- ‘UdChalo’ is a travel portal, that caters for the personal travel of the military and paramilitary forces personnel by aggregating defence fares and getting exclusive discounts.
- It is an initiative by UpCurve Business Services Private Limited, a company registered under Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
- The PRC has joined hands with UdChalo with an aim to empower the disabled military veterans.
- PRC provides institutionalised care to soldiers, who are wounded in military or insurgency operations and can’t adequately provide for themselves the constant medical care associated with quadriplegia and paraplegia.
About Paraplegic Rehabilitation Center (PRC):
- The aim of the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre (PRC) is to ensure the best after care and rehabilitation of personnel of the Armed Forces of India (Army, Navy & Air Force) who are medically boarded out.
- The idea of building a Paraplegic Home (now named Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre) was conceived after the 1971 Indo-Pak War when there were 60 Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) casualties.
- There are two such institution in the country, one at Kirkee, Pune and the other at Mohali, Punjab.
- Admit Paraplegic/Quadriplegic soldiers for their medical care and extended rehabilitation that includes physical, psychological, and financial rehabilitation.
- Provide Occupational Therapy, Vocational Training in sheltered workshop & opportunities for job placement.
- Provide Care for their welfare i.e. settlement of pension account, education of children & assistance for interfacing with the Defence Ministry and State/Central Government.
- Act as nodal agency to impart training to Doctors and Paramedics of the Armed Forces and Civil hospitals for rehabilitation of paraplegics and quadriplegics.
Paraplegi and Quadriplegia:
- Personnel who have been affected by a Spinal Chord Injury (SCI) have one of the following post injury conditions:
- Paraplegi: Paralyses both lower limbs which also in turn affects bladder and bowel control.
- Quadriplegia: Affects all four limbs, which in turn also affect bladder & bowel control. It is one of the most severe forms of physical disablility that can be afflicted upon an individual.
Financial Literacy Week 2019
- The Financial Literacy Week 2019 will be observed from 3 June to 7 June.
- The theme of Financial Literacy Week 2019 is ‘Farmers’ which focuses on how they can benefit by being a part of the formal banking system.
About the Financial Literacy Week:
- It is an annual initiative by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to promote awareness on key topics through a focused campaign.
- The aim of initiative is to create awareness about financial products and services, good financial practices, going digital and consumer protection.