Current Affairs for IAS PCS Civil Services Exams : 07 March, 2019

 Current Affairs : 07 March 2019

Relevant articles from PIB:

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

 

Janaushadhi Diwas

 

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: 7th March 2019 to be celebrated as ‘Janaushadhi Diwas’ across India.

As part of the celebrations, PM will interact with owners of Janaushadhi Kendras and beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) across the country.

 

About 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.

 

Conclusion:

No poor person should die due to non-availability of good quality affordable medicines in the country. Therefore, making quality healthcare affordable for all should be the ultimate objective of the government.

 

Mains Question: The central government has taken an initiative ‘Jan Aushadhi’ to avail citizens of low-cost medicines. What will be the benefits of the scheme to the people and the pharmaceutical companies? Critically examine.

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

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

 

Quality Assurance Scheme

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the scheme and the need for quality assurance.

 

Context: NABL launches Quality Assurance Scheme for Basic Composite Medical Laboratories.

 

Key features of the scheme:

  1. It is a voluntary scheme.
  2. The laboratories performing only basic routine tests like blood glucose, blood counts, rapid tests for common infections, liver & kidney function tests and routine tests of urine will be eligible to apply under this scheme.
  3. The scheme requires minimal documentation and a nominal fee has been prescribed for availing the scheme. Components of competence assessment have been added for assuring quality and validity of test results.
  4. Successful laboratories will be issued a certificate of compliance to QAS BC scheme by NABL and they will be allowed to use a distinct symbol on the test reports as a mark of endorsement to the basic standard for a defined time frame before which they will have to transition to full accreditation as per ISO 15189.
  5. Through this scheme, patients availing services of small labs in primary health centers, community health centers, doctor’s clinic, standalone small labs, labs in small nursing homes will also have access to quality lab results.

 

Significance of the scheme:

The scheme will help to bring quality at the grass root level of India’s health system where laboratories follow the imperatives of quality in all their processes. This will inculcate the habit of quality and facilitate the laboratories to achieve benchmark accreditation of ISO 15189 over a period of time.

 

About National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL):

  1. NABL is a constituent board of Quality Council of India (QCI) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  2. NABL is Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) signatory to International bodies like International Laboratory Accreditation Co-operation (ILAC) and Asia Pacific Accreditation Co-operation (APAC) for accreditation of Testing including Medical and Calibration laboratories.
  3. NABL is also having APAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) for Proficiency Testing Provider (PTP) & Reference Materials Producers (RMP). MRA are based on evaluation by peer Accreditation Bodies and facilitates acceptance of test/ calibration results between countries which MRA partners represent.

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

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

 

Hazardous Waste (Management& Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Highlights of rules.
  • For Mains: Significance and the need for these rules, comprehensive waste management rules.

 

Context: In order to strengthen the implementation of environmentally sound management of hazardous waste in the country, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has amended the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016.

  • The amendment has been done keeping into consideration the “Ease of Doing Business” and boosting “Make in India” initiative by simplifying the procedures under the Rules, while at the same time upholding the principles of sustainable development and ensuring minimal impact on the environment.

 

Some of the salient features of the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management& Transboundary Movement) Amendment Rules, 2019 are as follows:

  • Solid plastic waste has been prohibited from import into the country including in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and by Export Oriented Units (EOU).
  • Exporters of silk waste have now been given exemption from requiring permission from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • Electrical and electronic assemblies and components manufactured in and exported from India, if found defective can now be imported back into the country, within a year of export, without obtaining permission from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • Industries which do not require consent under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981, are now exempted from requiring authorizationalso under the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016, provided that hazardous and other wastes generated by such industries are handed over to the authorized actual users, waste collectors or disposal facilities.

 

What necessitated this?

  1. In spite of having a significant plastic pollution load of its own, and a ban on plastic waste imports, imported PET bottles from abroad for processing SEZ.
  2. The influx of PET bottles was quadrupled from 2017 to 2018.
  3. Indian firms are importing plastic scrap from China, Italy, Japan and Malawi for recycling.
  4. India consumes about 13 million tonnes of plastic and recycles only about 4 million tonnes.

 

What is hazardous waste and what are the concerns associated with it?

Hazardous waste is the waste that poses substantial or potential threats to public health or the environment.

  • Rapidly growing industries in the country have contributed in the production of large part of hazardous waste material. The sources of hazardous waste are basically agricultural and agro industries, medical facilities, commercial centres, household and the informal sectors.
  • Therefore, to reduce environmental hazardous proper attention is required during disposal of such waste, because it cannot be disposed of by common means like other by products of our daily lives.

 

Mains Question: E-waste is a looming crisis for humanity and calls for immediate action. Discuss.

Paper 1:

Topics covered:

  1. Women related issues.

 

Web- Wonder Women Campaign

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Features and significance of the campaign.

 

Context: The Ministry of Women and Child Development hosted a felicitation event for Web Wonder Women.

 

About the Campaign:

  • The Campaign has been launched by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India in association with the NGO Breakthrough and Twitter India.
  • Through the campaign, the Ministry aims to recognize the fortitude of Indian women stalwarts from across the globe who have used the power of social media to run positive & niche campaigns to steer a change in society.
  • The Campaign is aimed at encouraging, recognizing and acknowledging the efforts of these meritorious Women.

 

National Sports Federation

Context: Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has granted provisional recognition to Kudo International Federation India(KIFI) as National Sport Federation with immediate effect.

The recognition means granting a major role to KIFI Association for promotion and Development of Kudo sport in India.

 

About NSFs:

National Sports Federations (NSFs) are autonomous bodies registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860.  The Government does not interfere in their day to day affairs.

  • However, Government has issued guidelines imposing age and tenure limits in respect of office bearers of NSFs, including those of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
  • These have further been reiterated in the National Sports Development Code of India, 2011, which has been made effective from 31.1.2011.

As per the guidelines, the Government has, inter-alia, provided the following age and tenure limits in respect of office bearers of the NSFs:

  1. The President of any recognized National Sports Federation, including the IOA can hold office for a maximum period of twelve years with or without break.
  2. The Secretary (or by whatever other designation such as Secretary General or General Secretary by which he is referred to) and the Treasurer of any recognized National Sports Federation, including the IOA, may serve a maximum of two successive terms of four years each after which a minimum cooling off period of four years is required to seek fresh election to either post.
  3. The President, the Secretary and the Treasurer of any recognized NSF, including the IOA, shall cease to hold that post on attaining the age of 70 years.

Relevant articles from various News Papers:

 

Paper 1:

Topics Covered:

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

 

Swachh Survekshan Awards 2019

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Rankings of cities in various categories.
  • For Mains: Swachh Bharat Mission- Significance, challenges and solutions.

 

Context: The Swachh Survekshan awards 2019 were recently conferred by President Ram Nath Kovind.

Swachh Survekshan 2019 covered all urban local bodies in the country, making it the largest such cleanliness survey in the world.

 

Performance of various countries:

  • Indore was adjudged India’s cleanest city for the third straight year. The second and third positions in the category were grabbed by Ambikapur in Chhattisgarh and Mysuru in Karnataka.
  • Bhopal is country’s Swachh capital.
  • New Delhi Municipal Council area was given the ‘Cleanest Small City’ award.
  • Uttarakhand’s Gauchar was adjudged the ‘Best Ganga Town’.
  • The ‘Cleanest Big City’award has been bagged by Ahmedabad, while Raipur is the ‘Fastest Moving Big City’.
  • Ujjain has been the adjudged the ‘Cleanest Medium City’and Mathura-Vrindavan bagged the tag of the ‘Fastest Moving Medium Cities’.

 

Conclusion:

Cleanliness should be integral to the behaviour of every citizen to make it effective and sustainable. Many people pay attention to personal hygiene but remain apathetic to public and community cleanliness. Change in this mentality is important for achieving the goals of Swachh Bharat.

Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: Critically analyze the role Swachh Bharat has played in making India open defecation free?

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

 

Guard against misuse, social media platforms told

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Misuse of social media platforms, concerns over misuse and need for comprehensive guidelines.

 

Context: The Parliamentary Panel on Information and Technology has directed the social media platforms — Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram — to ensure that their platforms are not used to incite violence or to meddle in the Lok Sabha election.

 

Why there is need for regulation?

With over 460 million internet users, India is the second-largest online market, ranked only behind China. By 2021, there will be 635.8 million internet users in India. The widespread use of social networking in the country has been on a rise, especially among the new generation.

We cannot ignore the fact that politics and media share a complex synergistic relationship; media, politics and elections are knotted together and social media platforms have become the essential ground for discussion on political narratives.

Politics is a favourite topic of discussion among the young and old. The hashtags are famous on Twitter and Twitter users get pulled into it. These platforms may be misused by hatemongers or fake news peddlers. There can also be foreign interference in our election using social medias. Then, there is the issue of cloned and fake accounts.

Globally, some election experts have raised alarm against the recent elections in some countries where social media campaigns influenced election proceedings to such an extent that the democratic process came under threat. There is an alarming worry that outside interests can work to undermine the democratic process in a subtle and sneaky way. In April 2017, Facebook admitted that its platform had been exploited by governments seeking to manipulate public opinion in other countries during the presidential elections in the US and France. Facebook pledged to clamp down on such operations.

 

Recent developments at global level:

Courtiers such as Singapore and the Philippines are actively proposing legislation on fake news, while Germany introduced a new law that compels social media networks to remove hate speech. Indonesia has launched a new cybersecurity agency as part of its efforts to deal with online religious fanaticism, online hate speech, nip terrorist groups and fake news on social media.

 

Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: Social media has emerged as a major threat to nation’s internal security. Discuss.

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

UNODC

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Highlights of the report, about UNODC.
  • For Mains: Significance of the report and concerns raised, need for comprehensive measures.

 

Context: The latest report released by United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says that India is one of the major hubs of illicit drug trade ranging from age-old cannabis to newer prescription drugs like tramadol, and designer drugs like methamphetamine.

 

Key findings:

  • While the global trend of purchasing drugs over the internet, particularly on darknet trading platforms using cryptocurrencies has already spread across South Asia, it is particularly rampant in India.
  • India is also a transit country for illicitly produced opiates, in particular heroin. The route used by traffickers to smuggle opiates through South Asia is an alternative part of the so-called “southern route”, which runs through Pakistan or the Islamic Republic of Iran, via the Gulf countries, continues to East Africa and on to destination countries.
  • Also, India, Australia, France and Turkey accounted for 83% of global production of morphine-rich opiate raw materials in 2017. The stocks were considered sufficient to cover 19 months of expected global demand by manufacturers at the 2018 level of demand.

 

About UNODC:

  • Established in 1997 through a merger between the United Nations Drug Control Programme and the Centre for International Crime Prevention, UNODC is a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime.
  • UNODC relies on voluntary contributions, mainly from Governments, for 90% of its budget.
  • UNODC is mandated to assist Member States in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.

 

The three pillars of the UNODC work programme are:

  1. Field-based technical cooperation projects to enhance the capacity of Member States to counteract illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.
  2. Research and analytical work to increase knowledge and understanding of drugs and crime issues and expand the evidence base for policy and operational decisions.
  3. Normative work to assist States in the ratification and implementation of the relevant international treaties, the development of domestic legislation on drugs, crime and terrorism, and the provision of secretariat and substantive services to the treaty-based and governing bodies.

 

Sources: the hindu.

 

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

International Criminal Court (ICC)

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: ICC and issues related to its functioning.

 

Context: Malaysia has ratified the Rome Statute making it the 124th State party to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

 

About ICC:

  • The International Criminal Court (ICC), located in The Hague, is the court of last resort for prosecution of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
  • It is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal courtestablished to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.
  • Its founding treaty, the Rome Statute, entered into force on July 1, 2002.
  • Funding:Although the Court’s expenses are funded primarily by States Parties, it also receives voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, corporations and other entities.

 

Composition and voting power:

  • The Court’s management oversight and legislative body, the Assembly of States Parties, consists of one representative from each state party.
  • Each state party has one vote and “every effort” has to be made to reach decisions by consensus. If consensus cannot be reached, decisions are made by vote. The Assembly is presided over by a president and two vice-presidents, who are elected by the members to three-year terms.

 

Jurisdiction:

  • The ICC has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
  • The ICC is intended to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore only exercise its jurisdiction when certain conditions are met, such as when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals or when the United Nations Security Councilor individual states refer situations to the Court.

 

Criticism:

  • It does not have the capacity to arrest suspects and depends on member states for their cooperation.
  • Critics of the Court argue that there are insufficient checks and balances on the authority of the ICC prosecutor and judges and insufficient protection against politicized prosecutionsor other abuses.
  • The ICC has been accused of bias and as being a tool of Western imperialism, only punishing leaders from small, weak states while ignoring crimes committed by richer and more powerful states.
  • ICC cannot mount successful cases without state cooperation is problematic for several reasons. It means that the ICC acts inconsistently in its selection of cases, is prevented from taking on hard cases and loses legitimacy. It also gives the ICC less deterrent value, as potential perpetrators of war crimes know that they can avoid ICC judgment by taking over government and refusing to cooperate.

Sources: the hindu.

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

 

National Rural Economic Transformation Project

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the proposed project.

 

Context: India has signed a $250 million loan agreement with the World Bank for the National Rural Economic Transformation Project (NRETP) that aims to help women in rural households shift to a new generation of economic initiatives by developing viable enterprise for farm and non-farm products.

 

National Rural Economic Transformation project:

  1. The National Rural Economic Transformation project is additional financing to the $500 million National Rural Livelihoods Project (NRLP)approved by the World Bank in July 2011.
  2. The project will support enterprise development programs for rural poor women and youthby creating a platform to access finance including start-up financing options to build their individual or collectively owned and managed enterprises.
  3. The project will involve developing financial products using digital financial services to help small producer collectives scale-up and engage with the market.
  4. It will also support youth skills development, in coordination with the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana.

 

Sources: the hindu.

Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Nitrogen pollution

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Nitrogen- natural cycle, pollution and ways to prevent it.

 

Context: The annual Frontiers Report 2019 published by the United Nations (UN), has included a chapter on nitrogen pollution in its latest edition. The report was released by the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi.

 

Highlights of the Frontiers Report 2019:

  • Pollution caused by the reactive forms of nitrogen is now being recognised as a grave environmental concern on a global level.
  • It highlights that growing demand on the livestock, agriculture, transport, industry and energy sector has led to a sharp growth of the levels of reactive nitrogen — ammonia, nitrate, nitric oxide (NO), nitrous oxide (N2O) — in our ecosystems.
  • The report claims that the total annual cost of nitrogen pollution to eco system and healthcare services in the world is around $340 billion.
  • The report also warns that the scale of the problem remains largely unknown and unacknowledged outside scientific circles.

 

Nitrogen as an essential nutrient:

Nitrogen, which is a vital macronutrient for most plants, is the most abundant element in the atmosphere.

A little over 78% of dry air on Earth is nitrogen. But atmospheric nitrogen, or dinitrogen, is unreactive and cannot be utilised by plants directly.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, farmers depended on a natural process called nitrogen fixation for the conversion of atmospheric nitrogen into reactive nitrogen in the soil: nitrogen-fixing bacteria like rhizobia live symbiotically with leguminous plants, providing nitrogen to the plant and soil in the form of reactive compounds like ammonia and nitrate.

But the natural nitrogen cycle was inadequate to feed the growing population. Scientists Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch solved this problem by producing ammonia by combining atmospheric nitrogen with hydrogen gas at high temperature and pressure—known as the Haber-Bosch process. The Green Revolution, which was instrumental in establishing food security in the developing countries in the 1960s, was driven by artificial nitrogen-fixation. Today, about half of the world’s population depends on this process for its nutrition.

 

How Nitrogen turned into pollutant from nutrient how it is affecting health and environment?

  • Nitrogen is an inert gas that’s necessary for life. But we’re changing it into forms that are harmful, overloading the environment with it, and throwing the natural nitrogen cycle out of whack.
  • Nitrogen compounds running off farmland have led to water pollution problems around the world, while nitrogen emissions from industry, agriculture and vehicles make a big contribution to air pollution.
  • Over 80% of the nitrogen in soil is not utilised by humans. While over four-fifths of the nitrogen is used to feed livestock, only about six per cent reaches humans in case of non-vegetarian diet, as compared to the 20% that reaches the plate of a vegetarian.
  • Nitrogen becomes a pollutant when it escapes into the environment and reacts with other organic compounds. It is either released into the atmosphere, gets dissolved in water sources such as rivers, lakes or groundwater, or remains in the soil. While it might lead to favourable growth of species that can utilise this nutrient, nitrogen as a pollutant is often detrimental to the environment and health.

 

Effects on health:

According to the World Health Organization, nitrate-contaminated drinking water can cause reduced blood function, cancer and endemic goiters. Surplus inputs of nitrogen compounds have been found to cause soil acidification. The lowering pH, as a result of the acidification, can lead to nutrient disorders and increased toxicity in plants. It may also affect natural soil decomposition.

 

Nitrogen pollution has a significant impact on the environment:

  • It creates of harmful algal blooms and dead zones in our waterways and oceans; the algae produce toxins which are harmful to human and aquatic organisms (and indirectly affects fisheries and biodiversity in coastal areas).
  • Contamination of drinking water. 10 million people in Europe are potentially exposed to drinking water with nitrate concentrations above recommended levels. This can have an adverse effect on human health.
  • Food Security:Excessive nitrogen fertiliser application contributes to soil nutrient depletion. As the world needs to feed an ever growing population loss of arable land is major global problem.
  • The release of Nitrous Oxide is essentially a greenhouse gaswhich is harmful to the environment.

Sources: the hindu.

Facts for Prelims:

 

Institutions in News- National Centre for Good Governance (NCGG):

Context: National Centre for Good Governance (NCGG) and Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) sign an MoU.

National Centre for Good Governance (NCGG):

  • It has been set up by the Government of India (GoI) under the aegis of Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
  • It aims to promote good governance through Capacity Building on Public Policy and Governance both at National and International Level and carrying out studies/ action research on issues relating to governance.

 

CERT-In (the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team):

Context: Indian cyber security agencies are tracking a massive leak of data from at least 16 online platforms — websites as well as apps — several of which are widely used by Indians. The National Computer Emergency Response Team (NCERT), in collaboration with global cyber intelligence agencies, are currently trying to gauge the extent of the damage.

 

About CERT-In:

What is it? CERT-In (the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team) is a government-mandated information technology (IT) security organization. CERT-In was created by the Indian Department of Information Technology in 2004 and operates under the auspices of that department.

 

It’s purpose:

  1. The purpose of CERT-In is to respond to computer security incidents, report on vulnerabilities and promote effective IT security practices throughout the country.
  2. According to the provisions of the Information Technology Amendment Act 2008, CERT-In is responsible for overseeing administration of the Act.

 

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *