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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 19 June 2019

Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 19 June 2019

Relevant articles from PIB:


Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP):


Context: Indian Coast Guard (ICG) will be co-hosting 12th Capacity Building workshop with Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) Information Sharing Centre (ISC).


About ReCAAP:

  • The ReCAAP is the first regional Government-to-Government agreement to deal with piracy and armed robbery at sea in Asia.
  • Presently 20 countries are members of ReCAAP. India played an active role in the setting up and functioning of ReCAAPISC along with Japan and Singapore.
  • Union Government has designated ICG as the focal point within India for ReCAAP.
  • Information sharing, capacity building and mutual legal assistance are the three pillars of co-operation under the ReCAAP agreement.
  • An ISC has been established at Singapore to collate and disseminate the information among the contracting parties and the maritime community.


Relevant articles from various news sources:


Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.


2019 Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Highlights and significance of the report, concerns over increased arms trade and need for their regulation, about NEW START policy.


Context: The 2019 Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which is part-funded by the Swedish government, was recently released.


Key findings:

  • Worldwide total of nuclear warheads has decreased since 2018 but countries are modernising their nuclear arsenals.
  • Nine nuclear-armed countries (including India) had a total of some 13,865 nuclear weapons at the start of 2019, which is a decrease of 600 nuclear weapons from 14,465 at the start of 2018.
  • Figures for North Korea were not added to the total on account of uncertainty.
  • The report separately counts “deployed warheads” (warheads placed on missiles or located on bases with operational forces) and “other warheads” (stored or reserve warheads and retired warheads awaiting dismantlement). For India, it gives a figure of 130-140 “other warheads” in 2019, the same as in 2018.
  • The decrease is mainly attributed to Russia and the US—which together still account for over 90 per cent of all nuclear weapons—further reducing their strategic nuclear forces pursuant to the implementation of the 2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START) while also making unilateral reductions.
  • However, both Russia and the US have extensive and expensive programmes under way to replace and modernize their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft delivery systems, and nuclear weapon production facilities.


Stockholm International Peace Research Institute:

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) established in 1966 is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.

Based in Stockholm the Institute provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.


About New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty):

It is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation with the formal name of Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms.

It was signed on 8 April 2010 in Prague, and, after ratification entered into force on 5 February 2011.

New START replaced the Treaty of Moscow (SORT), which was due to expire in December 2012. Its name is a follow-up to the START I treaty, which expired in December 2009, the proposed START II treaty, which never entered into force, and the START III treaty, for which negotiations were never concluded.


Under terms of the treaty:

  • The number of strategic nuclear missile launchers will be reduced by half.
  • A new inspection and verification regime will be established, replacing the SORT mechanism.
  • The number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads is limited to 1,550, which is down nearly two-thirds from the original START treaty, as well as 10% lower than the deployed strategic warhead limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty.
  • It will also limit the number of deployed and non-deployed inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments to 800. The number of deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments is limited to 700.


Timeline to meet these Targets:

These obligations must be met within seven years from the date the treaty enters into force. The treaty will last ten years, with an option to renew it for up to five years upon agreement of both parties.

Sources: down to earth.

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Issues related to health.


AWaRe- a WHO tool for safer use of antibiotics

What to study?

For prelims: about AWaRe and it’s key features.

For mains: antibiotic resistance, causes, effects and concerns.


Context: WHO launches tool for safer use of antibiotics, curb resistance- AWaRe.


About AWaRe:

It is an online tool aimed at guiding policy-makers and health workers to use antibiotics safely and more effectively.

The tool, known as ‘AWaRe’, classifies antibiotics into three groups:

  1. Access  — antibiotics used to treat the most common and serious infections.
  2. Watch   — antibiotics available at all times in the healthcare system.
  3. Reserve — antibiotics to be used sparingly or preserved and used only as a last resort.



  • Antibiotic resistance is already one of the biggest health risks and is estimated to kill 50 million by 2050 worldwide.
  • The threat continues to escalate globally because more than 50 per cent of antibiotics in many countries are used inappropriately such as for treatment of viruses when they only treat bacterial infections or use of the wrong (broader spectrum) antibiotic.
  • Besides, reduced access to effective and appropriate antibiotics in many low- and middle-income countries contributes to childhood deaths and lack of funding and implementation of national plans to tackle antimicrobial resistance.


Factors underlying the problem:

The factors underlying the problem of suboptimal antibiotic use are complex, but include, among others, lack of knowledge and awareness of the problem by prescribers and the public, diagnostic uncertainty due to limitations of actual diagnostic tests and insufficient diagnostic capacities, lack of access to evidence-based treatment guidelines taking into account local epidemiology, lack of access to data reflecting the quality of antibiotic prescribing and use, preference for dispensing large spectrum antibiotics even when narrow spectrum alternatives are available).


Need of the hour:

With the emergence of infections that are untreatable by all classes of antibiotics, antimicrobial resistance has become “an invisible pandemic”.

In the absence of development of new drugs, “we must safeguard these precious last-line antibiotics to ensure we can still treat and prevent serious infections”.


Sources: down to earth.

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Report Defending In Numbers


What to study?

For prelims and mains: key findings, concerns and measures needed.


Context: The biennial report, titled Defending In Numbers, has been released by the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM‐ASIA).

The report documented 688 cases of violations and abuses affecting 4,854 people — including human rights organisations, local communities and media outlets — across 18 countries in the continent between 2017 and 2018.


Most common forms of violation were:

  1. Judicial harassment (327 cases).
  2. (Arbitrary) arrest and detention (249 cases).
  3. Violence (164 cases).


Key findings:

  • Asia continues to be a dangerous place for defenders of human and environment rights, even after 20 years of United Nations Declaration on Human right defenders (HRDs).
  • Across Asia, HRDs are threatened, harassed, persecuted, and at times killed for promoting and protecting human rights.
  • Fifty per cent of the total 688 cases in the year have been against those fighting for the cause of democracy and access to land and environmental rights
  • Over 210 cases were against pro-democracy defenders — the most targeted group of HRDs. Between 2017 and 2018, pro-democracy defenders were harshly targeted with violations such as: judicial harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, and violence, six of which resulted in the death of the defender.
  • This was followed by land and environmental right activists — fighting to access natural resources.
  • The activists include indigenous and tribal peoples, farming and peasant groups and other local communities, whose land, life, and livelihoods are threatened by the exploitation of the environment and the establishment of development projects that violate people’s rights.
  • State actors such as the police, the judiciary and armed forces were ranked as the number one perpetrator of harassment and abuse against HRDs, the report stated.
  • Besides, the role of non-state actors in harassing land and environmental defenders was increasingly common between 2017 and 2018.
  • This primarily includes businesses and corporations in the mining and extractives industries and agri-businesses, which are competing to access natural resources for profit or otherwise seeking to implement large-scale development projects with little regard for its impact on the surrounding communities or environment.


Need of the hour:

  1. As development projects proliferate and the competition for natural resources increase, the situation of activists fighting for the cause of environment is expected to worsen unless measures are established for their protection.
  2. According to the United Nations mandated Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 16) states must protect fundamental freedoms in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.
  3. The human costs associated with these attacks on HRDs cannot be easily quantified but if states do not take requisite actions to halt this onslaught, key targets of Agenda 2030 will be missed.
  4. There is need for action to be taken by various stakeholders in order to create a safer and more enabling environment for these defenders.
  5. The report also calls upon the corporations to comply with the guiding principles for business and human rights while implementing the United Nations ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’framework and other international human rights standards. 
  6. It has also asked the government to ensure that all laws comply with international human rights standards and the judicial processes remain just and transparent.


Sources: the Hindu.

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Issues related to health.




What to study?

For prelims and mains: Anthrax- causes, effects, symptoms and prevention.


Context: DRDO, JNU scientists develop more potent Anthrax vaccine. Claim new vaccine superior than existing ones as it can generate immune response to anthraxtoxin as well as spores.


About anthrax:

Anthrax is a disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a germ that lives in soil.

It affects animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats more often than people. People can get anthrax from contact with infected animals, wool, meat, or hides. It can cause three forms of disease in people.



Anthrax does not spread directly from one infected animal or person to another; it is spread by spores. These spores can be transported by clothing or shoes.


Symptoms & Infection:

  • In most cases, symptoms develop within seven days of exposure to the bacteria. The one exception is inhalation anthrax, which may take weeks after exposure before symptoms appear.
  • Respiratory infection in humans initially presents with cold or flu-like symptoms for several days, followed by pneumonia and severe (and often fatal) respiratory collapse.
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) infection in humans is most often caused by consuming anthrax-infected meat and is characterized by serious GI difficulty, vomiting of blood, severe diarrhea, acute inflammation of the intestinal tract, and loss of appetite.
  • Cutaneous anthrax, also known as Hide porter’s disease, is the cutaneous (on the skin) manifestation of anthrax infection in humans. It presents as a boil-like skin lesion that eventually forms an ulcer with a black center (eschar).



  • Occupational exposure to infected animals or their products (such as skin, wool, and meat) is the usual pathway of exposure for humans. Workers who are exposed to dead animals and animal products are at the highest risk, especially in countries where anthrax is more common.
  • It does not usually spread from an infected human to a noninfected human. But, if the disease is fatal to the person’s body, its mass of anthrax bacilli becomes a potential source of infection to others and special precautions should be used to prevent further contamination. Inhalational anthrax, if left untreated until obvious symptoms occur, may be fatal.
  • Anthrax can be contracted in laboratory accidents or by handling infected animals or their wool or hides.



The standard treatment for anthrax is a 60-day course of an antibiotic. Treatment is most effective when started as soon as possible.

Although some cases of anthrax respond to antibiotics, advanced inhalation anthrax may not. By the later stages of the disease, the bacteria have often produced more toxins than drugs can eliminate.


Use in Bioterrorism:

Anthrax has been used in biological warfare by agents and by terrorists to intentionally infect.

It was spread in US through a mail. It killed 5 people and made 22 sick.


Sources: down to earth.

Paper 1:

Topics covered:

  1. population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.


World Population Projections 2019


What to study?

For prelims: Key findings of the report.

For mains: concerns raised, challenges associated and measures necessary to tackle the population growth.


Context: World Population Prospects 2019 has been released by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.



Key findings:

India specific:

  • India will overtake China as the most populous country by around 2027.
  • India is also expected to add 273 million people by 2050 and will remain the most populated until the end of the century.
  • India leads the set of nine countries that will make up for more than half the projected growth of the global population by 2050.
  • Top five: India is expected to remain the world’s most populous country with nearly 1.5 billion inhabitants, followed by China at 1.1 billion, Nigeria with 733 million, the United States with 434 million, and Pakistan with an estimated population of 403 million.


Global scenario:

  • The global population is projected to increase by another 2 billion people by 2050, from 7.7 billion in 2019 to 9.7 billion thirty years down the line.
  • Between now and 2050, 55 countries are estimated to see their populations shrink by at least one per cent.
  • Incidentally, since 2010, 27 countries have recorded a minimum one per cent reduction in population. This trend of a growing number of countries experiencing a decline in population has been attributed to sustained low levels of fertility and, in some cases, high rates of emigration.
  • In China, the largest of these 55 countries, the population is projected to shrink by as much as 2.2 per cent or 31.4 million by 2050.
  • Overall, the world’s population is ageing, with the age group of 65 and above growing at such a fast rate that by 2050, one in six people in the world will be part of it as compared to one in 11 in 2019. By the end of the century, the world population is set to peak at a level of about 11 billion.
  • Life expectancy: Although overall life expectancy will increase (from 64.2 years in 1990 to 77.1 years in 2050), life expectancy in poorer countries is projected to continue to lag behind.
  • Sex ratio: Males are projected to continue to outnumber females until the end of the century, but the gap will close.


Sources: the Hindu.

Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Facebook’s new cryptocurrency- Libra


What to study?

For prelims and mains: various cryptocurrencies, their uses, concerns over their regulation and issues associated.


Context: Facebook has announced a digital currency called Libra that will roll out for use in 2020 and allow the platform’s billions of users across the globe to make financial transactions online.


What is Libra?

Facebook says Libra is a “global currency and financial infrastructure”. In other words, it is a digital asset built by Facebook and powered by a new Facebook-created version of blockchain, the encrypted technology used by bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.


Why is it called Libra?

The name Libra comes from the basic Roman measurement of weight. The abbreviation lb for pound is derived from Libra, and the £ symbol originally comes from an ornate L in Libra.


Who is in charge of Libra?

The currency will be serviced by a collective of companies called the “Libra Association”. It functions as what is known as a “stablecoin”, pegged to existing assets like the dollar or euro, in the aim of making it less subject to the volatility that many cryptocurrencies experience.

The Libra Association is described by Facebook as an independent, not-for-profit organisation based in Switzerland. It serves two main functions: to validate transactions on the Libra blockchain and to manage the reserve Libra is tied to and allocate funds to social causes.


Facebook claims that although it created the Libra Association and the Libra Blockchain, once the currency is launched in 2020 the company will withdraw from a leadership role and all members of the association will have equal votes in governance of Libra.


What you need to know about the cryptocurrencies?

Founded as a peer-to-peer electronic payment system, cryptocurrencies enable transfer of money between parties, without going through a banking system. These digital payment systems are based on cryptographic proof of the chain of transactions, deriving their name, Cryptocurrency. These employ cryptographic algorithms and functions to ensure anonymity (privacy) of the users (who are identified by an alphanumeric public key), security of the transactions and integrity of the payment systems. “Decentralised Digital Currency” or “Virtual Currency” is also interchangeably used for a cryptocurrency.


How are they used?

Cryptocurrency is fundamentally a decentralised digital currency transferred directly between peers and the transactions are confirmed in a public ledger, accessible to all the users. The process of maintaining this ledger and validating the transactions, better known as mining, is carried out in a decentralised manner. The underlying principle of the authenticity of the present to historical transactions is cryptographic proof, instead of trust; different from how it happens in the case of traditional banking systems.


Sources: the Hindu.


Facts for prelims:


Solanum plastisexum; Australia’s new sex-changing tomato:

Also known as the Dungowan bush tomato, Solanum plastisexum is a distant relative of the cultivated eggplant.

The new species provides a compelling example of the fact that sexuality among Earth’s living creatures is far more diverse, and interesting, than what is expected.

Background: Living organisms, including plants and animals, often exhibit diverse sexual forms, such as an all-female lizard species whose eggs have all the genetic material needed to reproduce, and clown fish, which are born male and can transform into females later in life. Plants are especially fluid and might have flowers with only male or only female parts, or both, or reproductive systems that function differently from the way they appear.