Note: The following Current affairs has been selected from AIR, PIB, PRS, BBC, The Hindu, IDSA (Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses), Live mint, Indian Express, Quora.com, Hindustan Times, Telegraph, The Times , WTO, New Indian express , The Guardian and is highly recommended for UPSC Prelims and Mains Examination
News Analysis: 25-01-2019
General Studies-II : Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary
SC refuses to stay amendments to SC/ST Act
The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018, that nullified a judgment that diluted the stringent provisions of the law to protect Dalits.
The government brought in the amendments, arguing that the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes still faced social stigma, poverty and humiliation.
The 2018 Act nullified a March 20 judgment of the court, which allowed anticipatory bail to those booked for committing atrocities against members of these communities.
The original 1989 Act bars anticipatory bail. After the verdict, protests broke out, in which several died and property worth crores was destroyed. The government filed a review petition and then amended the 1989 Act.
The government responded that there was no decrease in the atrocities on these communities, despite the laws to protect their civil rights, and 195 special courts in 14 States.
“The 1989 Act is the least the country owes to this section of society that has been denied several civil rights for generations and subjected to indignities, humiliations and harassment,” the government argued.
Source: The Hindu
General Studies-II : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
A concerted public health push is required to tackle periodic outbreaks of influenza
Seasonal influenza poses a significant public health challenge for India every year.
The spurt in infections during the first two weeks of 2019 cries out for an effective plan to contain it. Rajasthan, which had a big case load last year, is the worst-affected State in the current season, with 768 cases and 31 deaths as of January 13.
There have been peaks in the country over the past six years, with the number of cases recorded by the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme soaring to 42,592 and the death toll touching 2,990 in 2015.
With better understanding of the nature of active viruses and the availability of a quadrivalent vaccine, State governments have no excuse for failing to sharply reduce the spread.
Last year, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare deputed teams to assist Rajasthan in containing the outbreak.
It is pertinent to ask what preventive measures were put in place based on the experience.
Large-scale vaccination covering high- risk groups such as health workers, people with lung, kidney, liver and heart disease, diabetics and the elderly could reduce the impact of the viruses in States such as Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana and the National Capital Region, all of which had a large number of cases three years ago.
A universal preventive programme should be considered at least for the future.
Last year, the Union Health Ministry put out an advisory on the right vaccine to protect against a known set of viruses, such as Influenza A H1N1, H3N2 and Influenza B.
Yet, most public health programmes are not prepared for a mass adoption of the vaccine. Non-availability of sufficient doses of quadrivalent vaccine as well as profiteering on the demand have not been addressed.
If a vaccine has proven efficacy in reducing the burden of seasonal influenza, it must be made part of the public health system.
An umbrella scheme such as Ayushman Bharat can easily provide it to everyone using public and private institutions.
Campaigns to educate the public through mass media ahead of the season, especially on respiratory etiquette and risk reduction, can help cut transmission.
At the same time, upgrading existing vaccines requires a consistent effort to track viral mutations that take place periodically, and communicate the information to researchers through open access databases.
There are 41 Virus Research Diagnostic Laboratories in India and they can study the nature of infections to provide genetic insights to peer scientists. This can help develop vaccines and remedies.
When it comes to treatment, the availability of anti-viral drugs such as Oseltamivir in the public health system should be ensured.
Seasonal influenza will, according to the WHO, continue to resurface. India must prepare for it with a comprehensive programme that covers all the States.
Source: The Hindu
General Studies-III : Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
ISRO tastes first success of 2019
ISRO successfully placed into orbit a military satellite, Microsat-R.
The mission with the modified PSLV with just two strap-on motors, dubbed the PSLV-DL (dual strap-ons), marked another first for ISRO as it provided an alternative to its normal six strap-on motors. This will enable it to carry slightly higher payloads than its Core-Alone version.
Innovation is the making the fourth stage, as an experimental platform to do technology demonstrations and carry out science experiments by students
This would enable any agency that wants to conducts experiments in space to use the fourth stage till it disintegrates naturally.
The fourth stage of the rocket may be orbiting in space for six months to a year. ISRO is aiming to use this time-frame to enable agencies to run short time experiments. Mr. Sivan asked students in India to develop such satellites and ISRO would take care of the launch.
He also said ISRO was developing a Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), smaller than the PSLV. The first SSLV launch will take place this year
Source: The Hindu
General Studies-II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.
India, South Africa to revise 22-year-old Strategic Partnership
India and South Africa will update their Strategic Partnership by agreeing on a comprehensive “roadmap” on the way ahead, as well as relaxing visa restrictions, when South African President Cyril Ramaphosa meets with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, officials said here.
Mr. Ramaphosa will be in India as the chief guest at the Republic Day parade on January 26, and and will be accompanied by nine Ministers and a 50-member business delegation.
The Strategic Partnership between India and South Africa, called the Red Fort Declaration, was signed in March 1997 by the then South African President Nelson Mandela and former PM H.D. Deve Gowda.
Officials said all aspects the partnership would be reviewed and updated with a three-year plan of action on security cooperation, trade and investment, tourism, harnessing the ‘blue economy’, maritime cooperation, agriculture, science and technology projects.
The two sides are also expected to explore new defence deals in the backdrop of the lifting of a 13-year old ban on South African defence firm Denel that was barred from doing business in India since 2005.
Denel was finally removed from the blacklist in September 2018 after the Central Bureau of Investigation filed a closure report and the Supreme Court subsequently dismissed corruption charges against the company.
The decision to take Denel off the blacklist was made after Mr. Ramaphosa made a personal intervention on the issue during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Johannesburg last July.
Source: The Hindu
General Studies-III : Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
Report on AQIS’s growing influence alarmist: official
A top intelligence official on Thursday dismissed as ‘alarmist’ a U.S.-based think tank’s report that contends that the Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) was exploiting the growing incidents of violence against Muslims in India and attacks in the name of “cow vigilantism” to recruit cadres.
Asserting that the study by The Soufan Center, a New York-based think tank, was misleading, the official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said: “researchers appear to have extrapolated isolated instances, imaginatively.”
The report titled ‘AQIS — The Nucleus of Jihad in South Asia’ asserts that the rise in inter-religious clashes in India due to a changing political discourse had resulted in further divisions between Hindus and Muslims.
Increasing incidents of violent attacks on Muslims in India, who are accused of eating beef, was being exploited by groups like AQIS to “incite Indian Muslims to join what is being called a fight for their honour,” according to the study’s authors.
Indian Islam is based on rich Sufistic traditions of pluralism, inclusivism and composite nationalism.
The wave of Al Qaeda in the 1990s and 2000s did not impact the Indian Muslim.
The wave of Islamic State had minimal impact, with only about 108 individuals succumbing to its lure. In the past few decades, global Islamist uprisings and terrorism have not impacted the Indian Muslim, as they were based on Jihadism, born out of exclusionism,” the official added, dismissing the report’s premise on the increasing vulnerability of the Indian Muslim to recruitment by the AQIS.
The think tank said the situation in Kashmir had also taken an “unprecedented turn.” For the first time since the onset of conflict in Kashmir, the region is responding to the appeal of groups like al-Qaeda.
Source: The Hindu
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