Current Affairs Analysis

7th April 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Pench Tiger Reserve; National Cadet Corps; Bharatmal Pariyojna; Challenges & Suggestions of virtual learning; Hydroxychloroquine’s efficacy in COVID-19 patients; Article 142 of the Constitution; World Health Day; Caruna
By IASToppers
April 07, 2020

Contents

Government Schemes & Policies

  • NCC cadets start serving people during COVID-19

Economy

  • NHAI achieves highest ever Construction of National Highways in FY 2019-20

Social Issues

  • In the time of the pandemic, classes go online and on air

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India lifts partial ban on hydroxychloroquine after Trump’s request

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Pench tiger death raises COVID-19 fears

Polity & Governance

  • Restrictions on court hearings lawful, says Supreme Court

Issues related to Health & Education

  • World Health Day

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Caruna

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Government Schemes & Policies

NCC cadets start serving people during COVID-19

Civil and police administration have started requisitioning for services of senior division National Cadet Corps (NCC) cadets in fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

National Cadet Corps

  • The National Cadet Corps is the youth wing of Armed Forces with its Headquarters at New Delhi.
  • It is a Tri-Services Organisation, comprising the Army, Navy and Air Wing, engaged in grooming the youth of the country into disciplined and patriotic citizens. 
  • It is open to all regular students of schools and colleges on a voluntary basis. The students have no liability for active military service. A student enrolled into NCC is referred to as a “Cadet”.
  • The NCC Day is observed on the four Sunday of November.
  • Its motto is ‘Unity and Discipline’.
  • At the National level, the Ministry of Defence deals with NCC while in all States, Education Ministry of respective states deals with NCC.
  • NCC is headed by the Director General (DG), an Army Officer of the rank of Lieutnant General.

Background

  • The NCC in India was formed with the National Cadet Corps Act of 1948. National Cadet Corps can be considered as a successor of the University Officers Training Corps (UOTC) which was established by the British in 1942.
  • A committee headed by Pandit H.N. Kunzru recommended a cadet organization to be established in schools and colleges at a national level.
[Ref: PIB]

Economy

NHAI achieves highest ever Construction of National Highways in FY 2019-20

NHAI has accomplished construction of 3,979 km of national highways in the financial Year 2019-20. NHAI has been mandated development of about 27,500 km of national highways under Bharatmal Pariyojna Phase-I.

Bharatmal Pariyojna 

  • Bharatmala Pariyojana is a second largest highways construction project in India since National Highways Development Project (NHDP), under which almost 50,000 km or highway roads were targeted across the country.
  • Bharatmala Pariyojana is an umbrella program for the highways sector that focuses on optimizing efficiency of freight and passenger movement by bridging critical infrastructure gaps in India.
  • It is a centrally-sponsored and funded road and highways project of the Government of India.
  • The project is divided into seven distinct phases.
  • A total of around 24,800 kms are being considered in Phase I of Bharatmala along with 10,000 kms of balance road works under NHDP, taking the total to 34,800 km. It is to be implemented over a five years period of i.e. 2017-18 to 2021-22.
[Ref: PIB, Indian Express]

Social Issues

In the time of the pandemic, classes go online and on air

Amid the long lockdown for the COVID-19 pandemic, e-learning poses a challenge to both teachers and students over technology and access.

  • Some institutions are uploading lectures to YouTube, while the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan is deploying its Swayam Prabha portal, which has lectures on DTH and online, to help students.

Challenges

  • Not all students might have laptops or tablet computers. Since the whole family is at home, the only laptop or computer in the house might be used by the parents who are working from home as well.
  • Teachers are apprehensive about students using smartphones earnestly because of distracting apps.
  • Teachers too might have technical constraints. In a higher secondary school, teachers had requested for laptops to plan their curriculum.
  • Lack of familiarity with technology forces teachers to seek help from their children to set up apps and deal with technical glitches.
  • Most of the subjects like beauty culture, fashion design and tailoring, office management, travel and tourism, web design etc need practical learning so it is difficult to teach them from a distance.
  • Parents are finding it difficult to adjust to the online system of the children. Due to the lockdown, domestic help is not available adding to household work.
  • Economically weaker section (EWS) quota students may be facing the starkest consequences of the digital divide, at a time when many schools are into some form of distance education.
  • Students in government schools and rural students without access to the slew of new education apps are also at a disadvantage.
  • More than 90% of the edtech products in the market are built with middle and higher income families in mind. So even if those products are being made available for free during the lockdown, they are not contextualised for a poorer or rural audience.

Suggestions

  • Student interest in online classes offered as live teaching can be sustained only with a mix of activities, worksheets and interactive sessions
  • All institutions will have to chalk out an infrastructure plan for virtual learning.
  • Teachers need to be considerate about how children feel or what they are going through these days so an understanding should be developed.
  •  Rise in smartphone penetration means that good tech resources could actually help level the playing field in rural areas if it were not for poor connectivity in many parts of rural India.
[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]

Bilateral & International Relations

India lifts partial ban on hydroxychloroquine after Trump’s request

The Indian government has decided to lift a partial ban on hydroxychloroquine after US President requested India to export the drug to aid America’s fight against the deadly Covid-19 disease.

What is the issue?

  • The Directorate-General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) had prohibited the export of the drug on March 25. But it left the option of export open to fulfil export obligation and on humanitarian grounds.
  • On April 4, the DGFT issued a new notification, ending the exception mentioned in the previous order. As a result, India did not export Hydroxychloroquine and formulations made from it even against full advance payment.

Hydroxychloroquine’s efficacy in COVID-19 patients:

  • Hydroxychloroquine is an oral drug used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
  • The drug shows antiviral activity in vitro against coronaviruses, and specifically, SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-2].
[Ref: The Hindu]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Pench tiger death raises COVID-19 fears

The death of a male tiger, in the Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) that succumbed to a ‘respiratory illness’ raises fear of corona fear due to a confirmed COVID-19 infection in a tiger at the Bronx Zoo, in New York, United States.

Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR)

  • It is located in the Seoni and Chhindwara districts, in the southern lower reaches of the Satpura Range of hills of Madhya Pradesh. Though, some part also lies in Maharashtra.
  • It is named after the pristine River Pence which flows through the park.
  • The park also has its mention in the famous story of 1894, ‘The Jungle Book’, penned down by the renowned English Author Rudyard Kipling.
  • Flora: Southern tropical wet deciduous forest, Southern tropical dry deciduous teak forest and Southern tropical dry deciduous mixed forest.
  • Fauna:  Bengal Tiger, leopard, wild cat, wild dog, weasel among the vegetarian species, Gaur, Nilgai, Sambar, Chital, Chasinga, Chinkara, Wild Pig etc. Migratory birds include Ruddy shelduck, Pintail, Whistling Teal and Vegtel etc
[Ref: The Hindu]

Polity & Governance

Restrictions on court hearings lawful, says Supreme Court

The Supreme Court deemed all restrictions imposed on people from entering, attending or taking part in court hearings as lawful in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What did SC said?

  • The court invoked its extraordinary Constitutional powers under Article 142 to step away from the convention of open court hearings. Open court hearings would mean a congregation of large number of people. This would prove detrimental to the fight against the virus.
  • SC allowed the High Courts to decide the modalities for the temporary transition to the use of videoconferencing technologies in their respective States. District courts in each State would adopt the mode of videoconferencing prescribed by the respective High Courts.

Article 142 of the Constitution

  • Article 142 provide a unique power to the Supreme Court, to do “complete justice” between the parties, i.e., where at times law or statute may not provide a remedy, the Court can extend itself to put a quietus to a dispute in a manner which would befit the facts of the case.

Article 142(1) states that “The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree so passed or order so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, in such manner as the President may by order prescribe”.

[Ref: The Hindu]

Issues related to Health & Education

World Health Day

  • World Health Day is celebrated on 7th April each year.
  • The theme for world health day 2020 is to ‘Support nurses and midwives’.
  • World Health Assembly has also designated year 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

Highlights of the first ever report ‘State of the world’s nursing 2020’

  • The global nursing workforce is 27.9 million. This indicates an increase of 4.7 million in the total stock over the period 2013–2018.
  • The global shortage of nurses, estimated to be 6.6 million in 2016, had decreased slightly to 5.9 million nurses in 2018.
  • The countries accounting for the largest shortages (in numerical terms) in 2018 included Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan.
  • To address the shortage by 2030 in all countries, the total number of nurse graduates would need to increase by 8% per year on average.
  • Globally, the nursing workforce is relatively young, but there are disparities across regions, with substantially older age structures in the American and European regions.
  • The majority of countries reported that the minimum duration for nurse education is a three-year programme.
  • Nursing remains a highly gendered profession with associated biases in the workplace. Approximately 90% of the nursing workforce is female.

Suggestions

  • Countries affected by shortages will need to increase funding to educate and employ at least 5.9 million additional nurses.
  • Countries should strengthen capacity for health workforce data collection, analysis and use.
  • Nurse mobility and migration must be effectively monitored and responsibly and ethically managed.
  • Nurse education and training programmes must graduate nurses who drive progress in primary health care and universal health coverage.
  • Planners and regulators should optimize the contributions of nursing practice. Such as ensuring that nurses in primary health care teams are working to their full scope of practice.
  • Adequate staffing levels and workplace and occupational health and safety must be prioritized and enforced, with special efforts paid to nurses operating in fragile, conflict-affected and vulnerable settings.
  • Countries should deliberately plan for gender-sensitive nursing workforce policies
[Ref: WHO, Indian Express]

Key Facts for Prelims

Prelims Key Facts

Caruna

  • Associations representing officers of Central Civil Services, including the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service (IPS), have formed an initiative called ‘Caruna’ to support and supplement the government’s efforts in fighting coronavirus.
  • The acronym ‘Caruna’ stands for Civil Services Associations Reach to Support in Natural Disasters and represents a collaborative platform, on which civil servants, industry leaders, NGO professionals and IT professionals among others have come together to contribute their time and abilities.
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