Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 17 June 2019
Relevant articles from various news sources:
- Issues related to health.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: One health concept- background, features, need and significance.
What is it?
The World Organization of Animal Health, commonly known as OIE (an abbreviation of its French title), summarises the One Health concept as “human health and animal health are interdependent and bound to the health of the ecosystems in which they exist”.
Is it a new concept?
The philosophy of One Health recognises inter-connectivity among human health, the health of animals, and the environment.
Circa 400 BC, Hippocrates in his treatise On Airs, Waters and Places had urged physicians that all aspects of patients’ lives need to be considered including their environment; disease was a result of imbalance between man and environment. So One Health is not a new concept, though it is of late that it has been formalised in health governance systems.
Why it has received renewed interests?
As human populations expand, it results in greater contact with domestic and wild animals, providing more opportunities for diseases to pass from one to the other. Climate change, deforestation and intensive farming further disrupt environment characteristics, while increased trade and travel result in closer and more frequent interaction, thus increasing the possibility of transmission of diseases.
- According to the OIE, 60% of existing human infectious diseases are zoonotic i.e. they are transmitted from animals to humans; 75% of emerging infectious human diseases have an animal origin.
- Of the five new human diseases appearing every year, three originate in animals.
- 80% biological agents with potential bio-terrorist use are zoonotic pathogens.
- It is estimated that zoonotic diseases account for nearly two billion cases per year resulting in more than two million deaths — more than from HIV/AIDS and diarrhoea.
- One-fifth of premature deaths in poor countries are attributed to diseases transmitted from animals to humans.
Need of the hour:
- There is need for strengthening veterinary institutions and services.
- The most effective and economical approach is to control zoonotic pathogens at their animal source.
- It calls not only for close collaboration at local, regional and global levels among veterinary, health and environmental governance, but also for greater investment in animal health infrastructure.
- This calls for strict health surveillance to incorporate domestic animals, livestock and poultry too.
- Humans require a regular diet of animal protein. Thus, loss of food animals on account of poor health or disease too becomes a public health issue even though there may be no disease transmission, and we lose 20% of our animals this way.
- There could not be a stronger case for reinventing the entire animal husbandry sector to be able to reach every livestock farmer, not only for disease treatment but for prevention and surveillance to minimise the threat to human health.
- Early detection at animal source can prevent disease transmission to humans and introduction of pathogens into the food chain.
- So a robust animal health system is the first and a crucial step in human health.
- Disease surveillance has to go beyond humans and encompass preventive health and hygiene in livestock and poultry, improved standards of animal husbandry for greater food safety, and effective communication protocols between animal and public health systems.
Challenges for India:
- Developing countries like India have much greater stake in strong One Health systems on account of agricultural systems resulting in uncomfortably close proximity of animals and humans.
- The size of India’s human and animal populations is almost the same; 121 crore people (2011 Census) and 125.5 crore livestock and poultry.
- A network of 1.90 lakh health institutions in the government sector form the backbone of health governance, supported by a large number of private facilities.
- On the other hand, only 65,000 veterinary institutions tend to the health needs of 125.5 crore animals; and this includes 28,000 mobile dispensaries and first aid centres with bare minimum facilities.
- Private sector presence in veterinary services is close to being nonexistent.
Sources: Indian express.
Conservation related topics.
What to study?
For prelims: about WCDD- theme and significance.
For mains: what is desertification, causes, effects, Concerns and measures needed to prevent?
Context: World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed on June 17 every year.
The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought 2019 theme is ‘Let’s Grow the Future Together’ (Reflecting on 25 years of progress and envisaging to the next 25) encouraging people against depleting the land of its inbuilt resources.
Desertification and the Sustainable Development Goals:
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development declares that “we are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations”. Specifically, Goal 15 states our resolve to halt and reverse land degradation.
What is Desertification?
- Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. It is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations. Desertification does not refer to the expansion of existing deserts.
- It occurs because dryland ecosystems, which cover over one third of the world‘s land area, are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and inappropriate land use. Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices can all undermine the productivity of the land.
Facts for Prelims:
About UNCCD: Established in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. The Convention addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found.
Concerns for India:
- India has witnessed increase in the level of desertification in 26 of 29 states between 2003-05 and 2011-13, according to the State of India’s Environment (SoE) 2019 in Figures.
- Twenty-one drought-prone districts, of the 78 in the country that were identified by the Indian Space Research Organisation, have more than half of their areas under desertification.
- Of these nine have also witnessed over two per cent increase in the area under desertification between 2003-05 and 2011-13.
- More than 80 per cent of the country’s degraded land lies in just nine states: Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana.
- Top three districts with highest area under desertification or land degradation are Jaisalmer, Rajasthan (92.96 per cent during 2011-13 and 98.13 per cent during 2003-05), Lahaul and Spiti, Himachal Pradesh (80.54 per cent during 2011-13 and 80.57 per cent during 2003-05) and Kargil, Jammu and Kashmir (78.23 per cent during 2011-13 and 78.22 per cent during 2003-05).
Main reasons that cause desertification in India are:
- Water erosion (10.98 per cent).
- Wind erosion (5.55 per cent).
- Human-made/settlements (0.69 per cent).
- Vegetation degradation (8.91 per cent).
- Salinity (1.12 per cent).
- Others (2.07 per cent).
Sources: the Hindu.
Mains Question: Differentiate between land degradation and desertification? Discuss impact of desertification on ecology.
Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: One Nation One Election- need, challenges associated, concerns and significance.
Context: PM Modi calls for all-party meet on ‘one nation, one election’.
Simultaneous elections refer to holding elections to Lok Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, Panchayats and Urban local bodies simultaneously, once in five year.
Problems associated with frequent elections:
- The massive expenditure that is currently incurred for the conduct of separate elections.
- The policy paralysis that results from the imposition of the Model Code of Conduct during election time.
- Impact on delivery of essential services.
- Burden on crucial manpower that is deployed during election time.
- Frequent elections affect policymaking and governance as the government is trapped in short-term thinking.
- It also destabilises duly-elected governments and imposes a heavy burden on the exchequer.
- It also puts pressure on political parties, especially smaller ones, as elections are becoming increasingly expensive.
- The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) which comes into force with the announcement of poll dates, prevents government from announcing any new schemes, make any new appointments, transfers and postings without the approval of election commission. This brings normal work of the government to a standstill.
- It also increases the cost of management to the election commission.
Merits of Simultaneous elections:
- Governance and consistency: The ruling parties will be able to focus on legislation and governance rather than having to be in campaign mode forever.
- Reduced Expenditure of Money and Administration: The entire State and District level administrative and security machinery will be busy with the conduct of elections twice in a period of five years as per the current practice. Expenditure can be reduced by conducting simultaneous elections.
- Continuity in policies and programmes.
- Efficiency of Governance: Simultaneous elections can bring the much-needed operational efficiency in this exercise. Populist measures by governments will reduce.
- Simultaneous elections can also be a means to curb corruptionand build a more conducive socio-economic ecosystem.
- The impact of black money on the voters will be reduced as all elections are held at a time.
But, why it is difficult to go for simultaneous elections?
- The biggest challenge is achieving political consensus, which seems to be “chimerical”.
- Regional parties will be more opposed to the idea than national parties because there is always a tendency for voters to vote the same party in power in the state and at the Centre in case the Lok Sabha polls and the state elections are held together.
- Also, according to IDFC, there is a 77% chance that the Indian voter will vote for the same party for both the state and Centre when elections are held simultaneously.
For simultaneous elections to be implemented, Changes to be made in Constitution and Legislations:
Amendments needed in the following articles:-
- Article 83 which deals with the duration of Houses of Parliament need an amendment
- Article 85 (on dissolution of Lok Sabha by the president)
- Article 172 (relating to the duration of state legislatures)
- Article 174 (relating to dissolution of state assemblies)
- Article 356 (on President’s Rule).
- The Representation of People Act, 1951 Act would have to be amended to build in provisions for stability of tenure for both parliament and assemblies. This should include the following crucial elements:
- Restructuring the powers and functions of the ECI to facilitate procedures required for simultaneous elections
- A definition of simultaneous election can be added to section 2 of the 1951 act.
Sources: the Hindu.
Mains Question: Analyze the feasibility of holding simultaneous election in India in the near future?
Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: location of Gulf of Mexico, about dead zones and eutrophication.
Context: Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Louisiana State University have predicted that this spring’s record rainfall would produce one of the largest-ever “dead zones” in the Gulf of Mexico.
What are dead zones?
Unoxygenated “dead zones” appear in waterways wherever algae are overfed by runoff from human activities such as urbanization and agriculture – a phenomenon called eutrophication.
What caused dead zone in Gulf of Mexico?
The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, fueled by the nutrient-laden water spilling from the mouth of the Mississippi River, is the second-largest in the world.
It blooms every summer, when warming waters accelerate the metabolisms of microorganisms, and it is expected to get even worse as the climate continues to change.
The primary culprits in eutrophication appear to be excess nitrogen and phosphorus—from sources including fertilizer runoff and septic system effluent to atmospheric fallout from burning fossil fuels—which enter waterbodies and fuel the overgrowth of algae, which, in turn, reduces water quality and degrades estuarine and coastal ecosystems.
Effects of Eutrophication:
Eutrophication can also produce carbon dioxide, which lowers the PH of seawater (ocean acidification). This slows the growth of fish and shellfish, may prevent shell formation in bivalve mollusks, and reduces the catch of commercial and recreational fisheries, leading to smaller harvests and more expensive seafood.
What needs to be done?
- Improvement of the purifying performance of waste water treatment plants, installing tertiary treatment systems to reduce nutrient concentrations;
- implementation of effective filter ecosystems to remove nitrogen and phosphorus present in the run-off water (such as phyto-purification plants);
- reduction of phosphorous in detergents;
- rationalisation of agricultural techniques through proper planning of fertilisation and use of slow release fertilisers;
- use of alternative practices in animal husbandry to limit the production of waste water.
- oxygenation of water for restore the ecological conditions, reducing the negative effects of the eutrophic process, such as scarcity of oxygen and formation of toxic compounds deriving from the anaerobic metabolism;
- chemical precipitation of phosphorous by the addition of iron or aluminium salts or calcium carbonate to the water, which give rise to the precipitation of the respective iron, aluminium or calcium orthophosphates, thereby reducing the negative effects related to the excessive presence of phosphorus in the sediments.
Sources: the Hindu.
- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.
What to study?
For Prelims: Features of PMBJP and Janaushadhi Suvidha.
For Mains: Health facilities for the underprivileged- need and efforts by the government, generic medicines and their increasing popularity worldwide.
Context: The Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) has found 25 batches of drugs of 18 pharmaceutical companies to be of substandard quality since January 2018.
BPPI implements the Centre’s flagship affordable medicine scheme Pradhan Mantri Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP).
- ‘Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana’ is a campaign launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Govt. Of India, to provide quality medicines at affordable prices to the masses through special kendra’s known as Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendra.
- Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendra (PMBJK) have been set up to provide generic drugs, which are available at lesser prices but are equivalent in quality and efficacy as expensive branded drugs.
- Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) is the implementing agency of PMBJP. BPPI (Bureau of Pharma Public Sector Undertakings of India) has been established under the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Govt. of India, with the support of all the CPSUs.
SALIENT FEATURES OF THE SCHEME:
- Ensure access to quality medicines.
- Extend coverage of quality generic medicines so as to reduce the out of pocket expenditure on medicines and thereby redefine the unit cost of treatment per person.
- Create awareness about generic medicines through education and publicity so that quality is not synonymous with only high price.
- A public programme involving Government, PSUs, Private Sector, NGO, Societies, Co-operative Bodies and other Institutions.
- Create demand for generic medicines by improving access to better healthcare through low treatment cost and easy availability wherever needed in all therapeutic categories.
What is a Generic Medicine?
Generic medicines are unbranded medicines which are equally safe and having the same efficacy as that of branded medicines in terms of their therapeutic value. The prices of generic medicines are much cheaper than their branded equivalent.
Outreach of generic medicines:
- With developments like more and more doctors prescribing generic medicines and opening of over 5050 Janaushadhi stores across 652 districts, awareness and availability of high quality affordable generic medicines has increased in the country. About 10-15 lakh people benefit from Janaushadhi medicines per day and the market share of generic medicines has grown over three fold from 2% to 7%in last 3 years.
- The Janaushadhi medicines have played a big role in bringing down the out of pocket expenditure of patients suffering from life threatening diseases in India. The PMBJP scheme has led to total savings of approximately Rs.1000 crores for common citizens, as these medicines are cheaper by 50% to 90% of average market price.
- The PMBJP is also providing a good source of self-employment with self-sustainable and regular earnings.
Sources: the Hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
World’s highest weather station at Mount Everest:
Context: Climate scientists have created a history by installing world’s highest operating weather station at Mount Everest’s Death Zone, including five other automated stations on other parts of the mountain.
- The weather station will record data on temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed, and wind direction. Besides, the new weather stations will also give scientists direct observations to understand jet stream, and will also help understand how the climate change is affecting the Himalayas.
- The other five weather stations that are located in the Mount Everest are in Balcony area (8,430 m), South Col (7,945m) at Phortse (3,810 m), Everest Base Camp (5,315 m) and Camp 2 (6,464 m).
- Note: From prelims perspective, please remember the locations mentioned and their geographical positions.
Balsams or jewel-weeds:
Context: Eastern Himalayas, a treasure trove of Balsams, yields 20 new species.
Belonging to Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, these plants are highly sensitive to climatic conditions like extreme drought and extended exposure to sunlight.
Consisting of both annual and perennial herbs, balsams are succulent plants with high endemism. Because of their bright beautiful flowers, these group of plants are of prized horticultural significance.
Summaries of important Editorials:
ISRO’s permanent space station:
Context: ISRO is planning to build a permanent space station for itself, possibly in the next five to seven years.
- ISRO would be undertaking many prolonged space exploration projects and sending many astronauts into space. Therefore, it would require a permanent station for itself.
- ISRO needs this facility in the context of its various space missions.
- NASA’s International Space Station, the only one functional right now, is slated to retire by 2025, or latest by 2028, and no replacement for it has been confirmed so far.
The Indian Space Station:
- A space station is an artificial satellite placed in orbit and is used as a long-term base for manned operations in space.
- The Indian space station would be stationed at an altitude of 400 kilometres from Earth.
- The proposed Indian space station would be similar to the International Space Station (ISS) but smaller in size weighing about 20 tonnes and would take another 5 to 7 seven years to construct.
What Is the International Space Station?
The International Space Station is a large spacecraft in orbit around Earth. It serves as a home where crews of astronauts and cosmonauts live. The space station is also a unique science laboratory. Several nations worked together to build and use the space station. The space station is made of parts that were assembled in space by astronauts. It orbits Earth at an average altitude of approximately 250 miles. It travels at 17,500 mph. This means it orbits Earth every 90 minutes. NASA is using the space station to learn more about living and working in space. These lessons will make it possible to send humans farther into space than ever before.
How Old Is the Space Station?
- The first piece of the International Space Station was launched in November 1998. A Russian rocket launched the Russian Zarya (zar EE uh) control module. About two weeks later, the space shuttle Endeavour met Zarya in orbit. The space shuttle was carrying the U.S. Unity node. The crew attached the Unity node to Zarya.
- More pieces were added over the next two years before the station was ready for people to live there. The first crew arrived on November 2, 2000. People have lived on the space station ever since. More pieces have been added over time. NASA and its partners from around the world completed construction of the space station in 2011.
How Big Is the Space Station?
The space station has the volume of a five-bedroom house or two Boeing 747 jetliners. It is able to support a crew of six people, plus visitors. On Earth, the space station would weigh almost a million pounds. Measured from the edges of its solar arrays, the station covers the area of a football field including the end zones. It includes laboratory modules from the United States, Russia, Japan and Europe.
Why Is the Space Station Important?
- The space station has made it possible for people to have an ongoing presence in space. Human beings have been living in space every day since the first crew arrived. The space station’s laboratories allow crew members to do research that could not be done anywhere else. This scientific research benefits people on Earth.
- Space research is even used in everyday life. The results are products called “spinoffs.” Scientists also study what happens to the body when people live in microgravity for a long time. NASA and its partners have learned how to keep a spacecraft working well. All of these lessons will be important for future space exploration.
- NASA currently is working on a plan to explore other worlds. The space station is one of the first steps. NASA will use lessons learned on the space station to prepare for human missions that reach farther into space than ever before.
- ISS is the ninth space station to be inhabited by crews, following the Soviet and later Russian Salyut, Almaz, and Mir stations as well as Skylab from the US.
- The ISS programme is a joint project among five participating space agencies: NASA, Roscosmos, JAXA, ESA, and CSA.
- The ownership and use of the space station is established by intergovernmental treaties and agreements. The station is divided into two sections, the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS) and the United States Orbital Segment (USOS), which is shared by many nations.