Polity & Governance
- UP Public Health and Epidemic Disease Control Ordinance, 2020
Issues related to Health and Education
- Silent Hypoxia
- Why do liquor sales matter to states?
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Study of endemism of Northern Western Ghats
Science and Technology
- Energy storage application of Nanomaterials
Art and Culture
- Buddha Purnima
Also in News
- Lost at Home Report
Key Facts for Prelims
- Bishnu Sendra Parva
- Arktika-M satellite
- Surakshit Dada-Dadi & Nana-Nani Abhiyan
- GARUD portal
- Fluid Intelligence
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Polity & Governance
UP Public Health and Epidemic Disease Control Ordinance, 2020
The Uttar Pradesh Public Health and Epidemic Disease Control Ordinance, 2020 has been cleared by the Cabinet recently & will be sent to the Governor for approval.
- Section 24 of the ordinance on “punishment for intentional affliction” says any person who “intentionally” infects another person with a contagious disease shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for 2-5 years.
- Section 25 defines “mass affliction” as infecting five or more persons.
- Section 26 states that whoever causes death by affliction under Sections 24 and 25, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years.
- It may extend to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to pay a fine ranging from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.
- Under the proposed law, the punishments are defined under different heads, including for “concealment” and “travel by public mode of transport”.
- The punishment for both these offences is imprisonment for 1-3 years and a fine of Rs 50,000-1 lakh.
- Section 30 of the ordinance underlines that notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), all offences under this ordinance shall be cognizable and non-bailable.
Section 31 (1):
- No suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings shall lie against any person for anything, which is done or intended to be done in good faith in pursuance of this ordinance,” says Section 31 (1).
Attacks on Corona warriors:
- The ordinance also prescribes stringent punishment for attacks on healthcare workers.
- There is a provision for punishment ranging from six months to 7 years, and fine ranging from 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh for assault or misbehaviour with health workers, paramedical staff, police personnel, sanitation workers or any corona warrior deployed by the government.
- There will be strict action against those who spit on corona warriors, throw filth on them, violate isolation norms during quarantine or incite people to attack or misbehave with corona warriors.
- There will be provision for imprisonment for 2-5 years, and a fine of Rs 50,000-2 lakh for this.
- There is also provision for recovery of damage done to any property.
Violation of Quarantine rules:
- For violation of quarantine rules, the person can be imprisoned for 1-3 years and made to pay Rs 10,000 -1 lakh.
- Those who escape from hospital can be imprisoned for 1-2 years and made to pay Rs 10,000-1 lakh.
Issues related to Health and Education
Many COVID-19 patients have reported a condition called silent hypoxia in which they have extremely low blood oxygen levels, yet do not show signs of breathlessness.
What is hypoxia?
- Hypoxia is a condition wherein there is not enough oxygen available to the blood and body tissues.
- Hypoxia can either be generalised, affecting the whole body, or local, affecting a region of the body.
- The normal arterial oxygen is approximately 75 to 100 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg), and normal pulse oximeter readings usually range from 95 to 100 percent.
- When levels fall below 90 per cent, patients could begin experiencing lethargy, confusion, or mental disruptions because of insufficient quantities of oxygen reaching the brain.
- Levels below 80 per cent can result in damage to vital organs.
What is silent hypoxia?
- Covid pneumonia — a serious medical condition found in severe Covid-19 patients is preceded by silent hypoxia, a form of oxygen deprivation that is harder to detect than regular hypoxia.
- In ‘silent’ or ‘happy’ hypoxia, patients appear to be less in distress.
- Many Covid-19 patients, despite having oxygen levels below 80 per cent, look fairly at ease and alert, according to multiple reports.
- This phenomenon has puzzled several medical practitioners..
- According to a theory, this happens because in patients with Covid pneumonia, the virus causes air sacs to fall, leading to a reduction in levels of oxygen.
- However, the lungs initially do not become stiff or heavy with fluid, and remain “compliant” — being able to expel carbon dioxide and avoiding its buildup.
- Thus, patients do not feel short of breath.
Why do liquor sales matter to states?
Manufacture and sale of liquor is one of the major sources of the revenue of states of India.
How do states earn from liquor?
- Liquor contributes a considerable amount to the exchequers of all states and Union Territories except Gujarat and Bihar, both of which have enforced prohibition.
- Generally, states levy excise duty on manufacture and sale of liquor.
- States also charge special fees on imported foreign liquor; transport fee; and label & brand registration charges.
- A few states, such as Uttar Pradesh, have imposed a special duty on liquor to collect funds for special purposes, such as maintenance of stray cattle.
- State excise duties on liquor is the second or third largest contributor to the category State’s Own Tax revenue; sales tax (now GST) is the largest.
- This is the reason states have always wanted liquor kept out of the purview of GST.
Which states collect the highest revenue from liquor?
- During 2018-19 the five states that collected the highest revenue from excise duty on liquor were Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Telangana.
- With Bihar and Gujarat having prohibited liquor, Bihar had ‘nil’ revenue from liquor in 2018-19 and 2019-20, while Gujarat’s liquor revenue was negligible.
- Andhra Pradesh too announced prohibition last year; however, sale of the liquor has been allowed with “prohibition tax”.
What is state excise?
- State excise is levied mainly on liquor and other alcohol-based items.
- Revenue receipts from state excise come mainly from commodities such as Country Spirits; Country Fermented Liquors; Liquor; Foreign Liquors; Commercial and Denatured Spirits and Medicated Wines; Opium, Hemp and other Drugs; and Sales to Canteen Stores Depots etc.
- Besides, a substantial amount comes from licences, fine and confiscation of alcohol products.
Other sources of revenue for the states:
- The states’ revenues comprise broadly two categories — Tax Revenue and Non-Tax Revenue.
- Tax revenue is divided into two further categories: State’s Own Tax Revenue and Share in Central Taxes.
- Own Tax Revenue comprises three principal sources: Taxes on Income (agricultural income tax and taxes on professions, trades, callings and employment); Taxes on Property and Capital Transactions (land revenue, stamps and registration fees, urban immovable property tax); and Taxes on Commodities and Services (sales tax, state sales tax/VAT, central sales tax, surcharge on sales tax, receipts of turnover tax, other receipts, state excise, taxes on vehicles etc.)
- According to the RBI report, in 2019-20, state GST had the highest share, 43.5%, in states’ Own Tax Revenue, followed by Sale Tax at 23.5% (mainly on petroleum products which are out of GST), state excise at 12.5%, and taxes on property and capital transactions at 11.3%.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Study of endemism of Northern Western Ghats
Scientists at the Agharkar Research Institute, Pune have come up with plant data of the Northern Western Ghats.
- The researchers investigated the Northern Western Ghats to produce an updated checklist of 181 local endemic plant species, including four monospecific genera.
- They have found that a majority of the endemic species are therophytes, which complete their life cycle in a short period during monsoon.
- The data indicates that in addition to the forests plateaus should be prioritized for conservation of the Northern Western Ghats.
- It is the plateaus and the cliffs that harbour most of the endemic species, thus increasing their importance in conservation plans.
- The Northern Western Ghats is the region of rapid diversification of specific herbaceous endemic genera.
Biodiversity in Northern Western Ghats:
- The Western Ghats of India is one of the global biodiversity hotspots owing to the endemism that is sheltered by a chain of mountains.
- The northern part of this biodiversity hotspot, along with the Konkan region, is considerably different from its southern and central counterparts on account of lesser precipitation and extended dry season.
- A notable geographical feature of the Northern Western Ghats is the presence of plateaus and cliffs that display maximum endemic species, unlike forests.
- Although the Northern Western Ghats region has been floristically surveyed well, the local endemism of the flowering plants in the area is not much explored.
- To project the Northern Western Ghats prominently on the world vegetation map, it is absolutely necessary to complete the IUCN threat status assessment on priority, which is underrepresented for the region.
- The published data can be used as a proxy for conservation planning and effective protection measures of the Northern Western Ghats.
- Western Ghats run around 1.6 lakh sq. km, from Kanyakumari to Gujarat and spread across six states.
- Western Ghats is a treasure trove of biodiversity and source of major rivers, including Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery.
- The hills of this area run parallel to the western coast of the Indian peninsula and span Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
- The area is an important biological landscape and hosts a variety of endemic species of flora and fauna.
- Alongside such biodiversity, the Ghats also support about 50 million people.
Science and Technology
Energy storage application of Nanomaterials
Researchers from IIT BHU have made significant achievements in developing nanomaterials based supercapacitors to achieve high energy power density of supercapacitors.
- Dr. Mishra and his research group at IIT (BHU) have developed a reduced graphene oxide (rGO) at a moderate temperature of 100°C with high capacitance performance.
- The production process is a cost-effective one, making it suitable for commercial purposes.
- The group has also developed a novel green approach for synthesis of Iron-based nanocatalyst, which can be used for large scale production of Carbon Nanotubes.
- They are also working on optoelectronic applications of nanomaterials.
- They are developing novel nanostructures of carbon and metal dichalcogenides semiconductors for photodetection and Surface-Enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS).
- The SERS can help detect harmful molecules present in water at ultra-low concentrations.
- Increasing energy demand due to the growth of human population and technological advancement poses a great challenge for human society.
- High energy density of supercapacitors suggests that constant current can be withdrawn for a longer duration without recharging.
- Hence automobiles can run longer distances without charging.
- These Supercapacitors can be an alternative for such purposes.
- The optoelectronics devices pave the way for the development of cost-effective and efficient devices, which can be used for energy storage application.
- Their findings make way for materials which can be used as advanced photodetectors and also be used as optical sensors for water pollution control.
INSPIRE Faculty award:
- The Department of Science and Technology has launched the “Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE)” program in 2008.
- The program aims to attract talent for study of science and careers with research.
- INSPIRE Faculty Scheme offers contractual research awards to young achievers and opportunities for independent research and emerge as a future leader in the long term.
- Each selected INSPIRE Faculty shall be eligible to receive a consolidated amount of Rs. 1,25,000/- pm.
- In addition, a Research Grant of Rs 7 lakh per year for 5 years shall also be provided to each successful candidate.
- The INSPIRE Faculty Award is for a maximum period of 5 (five) years.
Art and Culture
Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Buddha hails this year on May 7.
- Vesak (Buddha Purnima) is a Buddhist festival that marks Gautama Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death.
- It falls on the day of the full moon in May.
- Buddha Purnima, celebrated in May every year, is even more special because the Buddha’s enlightenment and mahaparinirvan also happened during the Purnima in the month of May.
- This year marks the 2564th Buddha Jayanti, the birthday of the Buddha.
Key Facts About Buddha:
- Gautam Buddha was born in 563 BCE in a royal family of the Sakya clan who ruled from Kapilvastu, in Lumbini, situated near the Indo-Nepal Border.
- At the age of 29, he left home and embraced a lifestyle of asceticism.
- He attained enlightenment under a pipal tree at Bodhgaya, a village in Bihar.
- Buddha gave his first sermon in the village of Sarnath, in UP. This event is known as Dharma-Chakra-Pravartana (turning of the wheel of law).
- He died at the age of 80 in 483 BCE at a place called Kushinagara, in UP. The event is known as Mahaparinirvana.
Teachings of Buddha:
1. The Three Universal Truths:
i. Annica: The first truth says that nothing lasts. People, plants, even things like mountains are changing all the time. The Buddha said that because nothing remains the same for long, there is no rest except Nirvana.
ii. Dukkha: Life is Dukkha because there is nothing that is absolutely perfect. The Buddha said that no-one can escape Dukkha. His teaching was a way of overcoming it.
iii. Anatta: It means no soul. The Buddha taught that there is nothing that can be called a soul. Instead people are made up of five parts: feelings, thoughts, awareness, ideas and body.
2. The Four Noble Truths:
i. Dukkha: Life is suffering. Suffering is real and almost universal.
ii. Samudaya: There is a cause of suffering. Suffering is due to attachment.
iii. Nirodha: There is an end to suffering. Attachment can be overcome. Suffering ceases with the final liberation of Nirvana.
iv. Magga: In order to end suffering, you must follow the Eightfold Path.
3. The Noble Eightfold Path:
i. Right Understanding of the Four Noble Truths. Right View is the true understanding of the four noble truths.
ii. Right thinking: Right Aspiration is the true desire to free oneself from attachment, ignorance, and hatefulness.
iii. Right speech: No lying, criticism, condemning, gossip, harsh language.
iv. Right conduct or Right Action involves abstaining from hurtful behaviors, such as killing, stealing, and careless sex.
v. Right livelihood: Right Livelihood means making your living in such a way as to avoid dishonesty and hurting others, including animals.
vi. Right Effort: Promote good thoughts; conquer evil thoughts.
vii. Right Mindfulness: Become aware of your body, mind and feelings.
viii. Right Concentration: Right Concentration is meditating in such a way as to progressively realize a true understanding of imperfection, impermanence, and non-separateness.[Ref: UNHCR]
Also in News
Lost at Home Report
The Lost at Home report has been released by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently.
- More than 5 million people were internally displaced in India due to natural disasters, conflict and violence in 2019, constituting the highest number of new internal displacements in the world.
- This was followed by the Philippines, Bangladesh and China.
- Almost 33 million new displacements were recorded in 2019 — around 25 million were due to natural disasters and 8.5 million as consequence of conflict and violence.
- Of these, there were 12 million new displacements involving children, including around 3.8 million of them caused by conflict and violence, and 8.2 million due to disasters linked mostly to weather-related events.
- The report said that natural disasters resulted in more new displacements than conflict and violence.
- The report added that today, more children than ever before are displaced within their own countries.
- At the end of 2019, an estimated total of 46 million people were internally displaced by conflict and violence.
- About 19 million children were displaced within their own countries due to conflict and violence in 2019, more than in any other year, making them among the most vulnerable to the global spread of COVID-19.
- The largest number of internally displaced children due to conflict are found in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and sub-Saharan Africa.
- Internally displaced persons are concentrated in two regions — the Middle East and North Africa and West and Central Africa.
- In India, the total number of new internal displacements in 2019 stood at 5,037,000 – including 5,018,000 due to natural disasters and 19,000 because of conflict and violence.
- The report looks at the risks internally displaced children face —child labour, child marriage, trafficking among them — and the actions urgently needed to protect them.
- It calls for strategic investments and a united effort by governments, civil society to address the child-specific drivers of displacement, in particular, violence, exploitation and abuse.
- It also calls on governments convening under the High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement to invest in actions that will provide protection and equitable access to services for all internally displaced children and their families.
Key Facts for Prelims
Bishnu Sendra Parva
- It is an annual hunting festival observed by tribals of Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal.
- This year for the first time not a single animal was killed in the event because of a complete lockdown across the state.
- It is Russia`s remote-sensing and emergency communications satellites.
- Russia will be launching its first Arktika-M satellite to monitor the Arctic climate and environment later this year.
- It will gather meteorological data in the polar regions of the Earth, which will allow for improved weather forecasts and will enable scientists to better study climate change.
Surakshit Dada-Dadi & Nana-Nani Abhiyan
- It is launched by NITI Aayog in association with Piramal Foundation.
- It focussed on ensuring the well being of senior citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- It focuses on behaviour change, access to services, early detection & tracking of COVID19 symptoms.
- GARUD stands for Government Authorisation for Relief Using Drones.
- Launched by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to fast-track exemptions of coronavirus-related drone operations.
- The portal will help state-owned entities in seeking exemption from the central government for coronavirus related drone operations.
- This will also help in addressing the challenges posed by COVID-19 and will remain in force until further orders.
- A recent study was conducted by Swiss researcher couple in which they subjected a group of students to a series of cognitive tests of increasing difficulty.
- They found that solving harder problems somehow resulted in greater fluid intelligence.
- Fluid intelligence involves being able to think and reason abstractly and solve problems.
- This ability is considered independent of learning, experience, and education.