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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 23rd March 2018

  • IASbaba
  • March 23, 2018
  • 6
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 23rd March 2018

Archives


(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


Putting a check on safety and efficacy of drugs

Part of: Mains GS Paper II: Issues related to governance, Interventions in health sector

Key pointers:

  • In an effort to close the tap on new drugs and combination medicines entering the market without regulatory approval, the Drug Controller General of India is writing to State regulators to review and recall such medicines already in the market.
  • The DCGI has also urged the Health Ministry to alert State health authorities to not give manufacturing approvals to new drugs and combination medicines that have not been approved by the Central regulator or the DCGI.
  • State authorities and large drug companies need to be aware that they should not be approving or marketing new drugs or FDCs respectively, that have not got DCGI approval.
  • The 59th Parliamentary Standing Committee report on Health and Family welfare had flagged the issue that drugs sold without safety and efficacy trials put patients at risk.

Article link: Click here


Genetic disorders to be included in insurance provided by insurers

Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Issues related to governance, Interventions in health sector

Key pointers:

  • In a significant directive, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has asked insurers not to reject claims on the basis of exclusions related to genetic disorders.
  • Genetic disorders will no longer be grounds for exclusion from health covers provided by insurers.
  • The directive comes in the wake of a recent judgment of the Delhi High Court in the case of United India Insurance Company Ltd vs Jai Parkash Tayal, which held that the exclusionary clause arising from ‘genetic disorders’ in the policy is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

Article link: Click here


(MAINS FOCUS)


ENVIRONMENT

TOPIC:

General Studies 2:

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

General Studies 3:

  • Conservation, Environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
  • Water Pollution, Wastewater management.

Water crisis in making

Background:

The world is heading towards an unprecedented water catastrophe. A majority of the world’s water systems that keep the ecosystems thriving and feed a growing human population have become stressed. According to NASA satellite data, about 21 of the world’s 37 largest aquifers are running out too fast to be replenished; an additional 13 are declining at a faster rate.
In its most recent data, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO, 2014) has highlighted that 45 countries were experiencing water shortages of less than a thousand cubic metres per person a year.
Water scarcity is becoming increasingly common all around the world, as country after country hits the limit of what it can use.
The World Economic Forum has also ranked water crisis among its top three global risks in terms of impact since 2012.

Water crisis in India:

  • A report by World Resources Institute (2015) reveals that about 54 per cent of the wells across India are decreasing at a faster pace and almost 600 million people are at higher risk of surface water supply disruptions.
  • According to a latest survey by the Central Groundwater Board (CGWB), the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka are in a worse state as far as ground water is concerned with decline rate much higher than the national average.

Given such an alarming situation, a World Bank report reveals that at least 21 Indian cities are moving towards zero groundwater level by 2020.
If the present rate of groundwater depletion persists, India will only have 22 per cent of the present daily per capita water available in 2050, possibly forcing the country to import its water.

Reasons behind decline in water availability:

  • Centuries of mismanagement of small water bodies is one of the prime reasons for a decline in water availability.
    The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE, 2015) reports that Chennai had more than 600 small water bodies during 1980s, but now only a fraction of them could be found healthy. Bangalore had around 280 interlinked tanks during 1960s which is reduced to less than 80 at present.
  • Increased population pressure along with competing demand for water from different sectors (drinking, agriculture, industry and energy) .
    The data published by the Central Water Commission indicate that agriculture alone accounts for about 85 per cent of all water use, mostly drawn from groundwater.
  • A growing population, lack of adequate planning, crumbling infrastructure, indiscriminate drilling of borewells, large-scale consumption of water, and a false sense of entitlement in using water carelessly are causing water shortages.

Cause of concern:

India’s current water requirement is estimated to be around 1,100 billion cubic metres per year, which is projected to touch 1,447 billion cubic metres by 2050.

According to a forecast by the Asian Development Bank, India will have a water deficit of 50% by 2030.

  • India’s water needs are basically met by rivers and groundwater.
  • Water scarcity can lead to disastrous consequences impacting food production as most of the farming is rain-fed.
  • With ground water catering to about 60% of the country’s irrigation, 85% of rural water drinking requirements, and 50% of urban water needs, replenishing the aquifers is necessary.

Government’s initiative:

The government has come up with a Rs. 6,000-crore World Bank-aided Atal Bhujal Yojana with community participation to ensure sustained groundwater management in overexploited and ground water-stressed areas in seven States.

Way ahead:

  • People should be sensitised about the judicious use of water and educated about water-retention dams and other conventional structures such as eari, bawli, talab, anict, dametc. to store water.
  • The old practice of rainwater harvesting should also be popularised.
    Tamil Nadu has made mandatory installation of water harvesting structures in every house and this must be replicated in other States as well.
  • Investing and promoting water-recycling, storm-water capturing technologies and micro-irrigation techniques in crop cultivation can also solve the problem of water scarcity.
  • The cost effective method of reviving the traditional small water bodies under the age old practice of Kudimaramath should be given top priority.
  • Micro irrigation practices like drip and sprinkler systems have to be promoted in a big way for efficient use of water for agriculture.
  • Conscious efforts need to be made at the household level and by communities, institutions and local bodies to supplement the efforts of governments and non-governmental bodies in promoting water conservation.
  • Sustained measures should be taken to prevent pollution of water bodies, contamination of groundwater and ensure proper treatment of domestic and industrial waste water.
  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle must be the watchwords if we have to handover a liveable planet to the future generations.

Conclusion:

As emphasised in this year’s theme on World Water Day by the UN, we need to connect with nature to help rebalance the water cycle in a sustainable and cost-effective way by planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains and restoring wetlands. Governments, communities, the private sector, and researchers must collaborate.

Connecting the dots:

  • Governments, communities, the private sector, and researchers must collaborate if India is to avoid water crisis. Discuss.

NATIONAL

TOPIC:

General Studies 2:

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

General Studies 3:

  • Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

Making electricity accessible to all: Choosing the right mix

Solar and wind power:

  • Solar and wind are eminently suitable for isolated deployment such as for powering irrigation pumps. An irrigation pump directly connected to a solar panel can be useful for a farmer as he doesn’t have to depend on the grid.
  • Making electricity accessible for isolated remote communities-
    In India, there are communities that have no access to the central electricity grid, or the supply from the central grid is unreliable.
    A microgrid getting electricity supply from solar and wind, and connected to consumers in an isolated remote community, is helpful in providing electricity for lighting, in charging mobile phones, and small livelihood applications.
    Consumers connected to a community managed microgrid can meet their minimum needs. Until the reliability of the central grid can be assured, solar- and wind-powered microgrid is the way forward for rural and remote communities.

Moving forward:

  • Ongoing research in battery technologies must be carried on so as to bring down the cost of electricity storage and improve safety of storage, thereby paving the way for a large deployment of solar and wind.
  • The International Solar Alliance can direct technology development towards the needs of all developing countries.
  • Another option for large-scale penetration of solar and wind is to install gas-based power plants which can be ramped up and down fast.
    This will be possible only if overland or undersea pipes can be commissioned to transport gas from Central Asia and Iran to India.

Overall:

Solar and wind cannot meet even a quarter of India’s projected electricity requirements. A major share has to come from large hydro, nuclear and coal. Out of these three technologies, one has to prefer low-carbon technologies that is hydro and nuclear.
Until electricity generation from hydro and nuclear picks up, coal has to continue to meet India’s electricity requirements.
Along with investment in solar and wind, the government must plan for increased investment in both hydro and nuclear.

Connecting the dots:

  • Energy security in India can be achieved by adopting a right mix of coal-based power along with renewable energies (hydro, nuclear, solar and wind).

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