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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 24th May 2018

  • IASbaba
  • May 24, 2018
  • 8
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 24th May 2018

Archives


(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


Nipah Virus

Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Government internventions in key sectors

Key pointers:

  • Nipah Virus is an emerging infectious disease that broke out in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998 and 1999.
  • It first appeared in domestic pigs and has been found among several species of domestic animals including dogs, cats, goats, horses and sheep.
  • The infection is also known to affect human beings.
  • The organism which causes Nipah Virus encephalitis is an RNA or Ribonucleic acid virus.
  • Nipah virus infection gets its name from the village in Malaysia where the person from whom the virus was first isolated succumbed to the disease.

How does Nipah spread or get transmitted?

  • The disease spreads through fruit bats or ‘flying foxes,’ of the genus Pteropus, who are natural reservoir hosts of the Nipah and Hendra viruses.
  • The virus is present in bat urine and potentially, bat faeces, saliva, and birthing fluids.
  • Nipah Virus, which is a zoonotic disease, was known to affect humans in Malaysia and Singapore after coming in direct contact with the excretions or secretions of infected pigs.

Symptoms of the Nipah infection:

  • The human infection presents as an encephalitic syndrome marked by fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation, mental confusion, coma, and potentially death.
  • There is no specific treatment for Nipah Virus. The primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care.

Palestine to join the Chemical Weapons Convention

Part of: Mains GS Paper III- International relations

Key pointers:

  • The Palestinians have joined the global convention to halt the spread of toxic arms, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
  • Palestine will become the 193rd state to join the CWC
  • Palestinians are campaigning for the creation of their own state of Palestine, and have stepped up a campaign in recent years to win recognition from international organisations.
  • Israel however is vehemently opposed to these attempts and has pursued intense diplomatic efforts to stop them.
  • In 2012, the United Nations upgraded the Palestinians to a non-member observer state.
  • Interpol, the International Criminal Court, UNESCO, and now the OPCW all refer to the Palestinian territories as a state.

About the OPCW and the CWC:

  • The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is an intergovernmental organisation and the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, which entered into force on 29 April 1997.
  • The OPCW has its seat in The Hague, Netherlands, and oversees the global endeavour for the permanent and verifiable elimination of chemical weapons.
  • Only four countries, including Israel, have yet to sign up to the CWC, which aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction.
  • The CWC prohibits the development, production, acquisition and stockpiling of chemical weapons by its member states.

(MAINS FOCUS)


ECONOMY/ENVIRONMENT

TOPIC:

General Studies 3:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation

General Studies 2:

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

Calculating ‘Green GDP’: Developing a feasible transition path to a green economy

Introduction:

  • A few years ago, India suffered a cost of $550 billion, about 8.5% of GDP, due to air pollution, according to a World Bank report; the cost of externalities such as water pollution and land degradation were possibly far higher.
  • Through commodity exports, we effectively transfer natural capital to our trade partners, raising the risk of desertification and land being degraded significantly.
  • Within a century, our food production could see a loss of 10-40% if these trends continue.

So, when we talk of GDP growth, we should also consider the decline in natural capital in our national accounts.

Natural capital:

Natural capital can cover entire ecosystems such as fisheries and forests, besides other hidden and overlooked services — for example, the regeneration of soil, nitrogen fixation, nutrient recycling, pollination and the overall hydrological cycle.
Such natural capital is often self-generating (water, clean air) but needs to be handled in a sustainable way in order to avoid depletion.
Valuing such ecosystems can be challenging, with their market value often termed as zero.
Consider groundwater. Most groundwater basins in India are subjected to unrestricted extraction until the water table drops so low that new borewells are needed.

Externalities of economic growth:

While India might have a GDP of $2.65 trillion in nominal terms, it fails to take into account the externalities of such economic growth.
For example, India routinely suffers from high levels of air pollution that impose costs on local transport, health and liveability in urban and rural areas.
When economic growth leads to the destruction of forests, wetlands and woodlands for agriculture, mining or even urban expansion, it is typically the poorest of the traditional dwellers who suffer. Ecological collapse can soon come, examples being the Darfur region in Sudan and countries in the Horn of Africa. All were subject to rapid socio-economic decline.

Estimation is a challenge:

  • GDP computations indicate the economic activity in a country, with rising GDP growth rate often leading to international prestige.
    However, such estimates often exclude the variations in natural capital by assuming them to be constant and indestructible.
    When pollution happens, it is actually a depletion of our natural capital as, for example, acid rain damages forests and industrial seepage affects water quality. In a modern economy, the challenge is to estimate such depreciation to natural capital.
  • ‘India’s current national accounts incorporate environmental considerations in a limited fashion’.
    GDP includes the value of: minerals extracted; timber, fuelwood and non-timber forest products; natural growth of cultivated assets for some crops; and the output from dung manure. In addition, ‘gross fixed capital formation contains output estimates from the improvement of land along with irrigation works and flood control projects’.
    However, even in GDP estimates of timber value, there is significant under-estimation — non-monetised goods and services provided from timber forests are not considered.

Some attempts to estimate the externalities:

India has sought to unveil “green GDP” figures in the past.

  • In 2009, the Centre announced that it would publish a “green GDP” that would include the environmental costs of degrading and depleting our forests, grasslands and natural stock.
  • An expert programme, sponsored by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, released a Compendium of Environment Statistics 2013.
    The group recommended that India shift to a system of measuring comprehensive national wealth, which includes items such as human capital, capital equipment and natural capital.
    Implementation of recommendations as in the Compendium has been constrained by the lack of micro-level data on capital formation, particularly in a natural context.
    While the 12th Five Year Plan undertook groundwater resource mapping at the national level, a similar focus is essential for data on land usage, forests and mineral wealth.

Way ahead:

India must calculate ‘its green GDP’ to factor in the value of the environment in its growth.
India should seek to publish “green GDP” figures that take into account depreciation of natural capital stock due to economic exploitation and environmental degradation. This can follow the template provided by the UN’s System of Environmental-Economic Accounting.
Adapting our national accounts in line with this framework will help in incorporating the value of the environment in our growth while helping us to focus on developing a feasible transition path to a green economy.

Connecting the dots:

  • What do you mean by the terms ‘Green GDP’ and ‘Natural capital’? India must calculate ‘its green GDP’ to factor in the value of the environment in its growth. Comment.

Also read: What has happened to ‘Green GDP’?


DEFENCE/SECURITY

TOPIC:

General Studies 3:

  • Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
  • Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

General Studies 2:

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

Defence Planning Committee: Apprehensions

Introduction:

The government has set up a defence planning committee last month to reboot defence planning in India. The step has been taken four years too late.

Also read: Setting up of Defence Planning Committee: As significant policy reform

Apprehensions:

  • The step calls into question the relevance of the existing long-term, five-year and annual plans of the armed forces, which form the basis of several procurement proposals that are in the pipeline.
  • The move also infuses uncertainty in the rollout of several steps taken to promote Make in India in defence.
  • Revamping of the “make” procedure for indigenous design and development of equipment and the introduction of the strategic partnership scheme for production of aircraft, helicopters, submarines and armoured fighting vehicles were expected to rejuvenate the defence industry.
    Now there is no saying whether all this will fit into the new strategies and plans prepared by the committee.
  • The committee consists of extremely busy persons like the national security advisor, service chiefs and secretaries of three of the most important ministries of the government.
    It will require extraordinary effort on their part to meet often enough to do justice to the committee’s charter.
  • The committee will be assisted by four sub-committees on policy and strategy, plans and capability development, defence diplomacy and defence manufacturing ecosystem.  
    Their usefulness will depend on their composition and terms of reference, both of which are yet to be decided.
  • A challenge for the sub-committees is to ensure that deliberations are free from presumptions and prejudice. This has been the bane of defence planning.
    It’s important that the committee makes ready-to-implement recommendations.
  • The committee will be required to submit its reports to the defence minister, which implies that these would be subjected to examination by the ministry officials who may not find all the recommendations workable.
    This has happened in the past with many committees recommending measures like appointing a chief of defence staff or integrating the services headquarters with the MoD but the latter finding these suggestions impractical for various reasons.

Conclusion:

All the apprehensions notwithstanding, any effort, even if belated, to set right the problems besetting defence planning should be welcomed.
The establishment of Defence Planning Committee recently, is expected to have a far-reaching consequence on the way defence planning is undertaken and on defence preparedness. And for this to happen the above mentioned issues must be resolved.

Connecting the dots:

  • The government has set up a defence planning committee recently to reboot defence planning in India. The step will strengthen the process of defence planning in India. Analyse critically.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)

Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Q.1) Which of the following statements are true regarding Chemical Weapons Convention.

  1. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an intergovernmental organisation, is the implementing body for the CWC.
  2. The CWC prohibits the development, production, acquisition and stockpiling of chemical weapons by its member states.
  3. Five countries, including Israel and Palestine, are yet to sign up to the CWC

Select the correct option

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 1 and 3 only
  3. 1, 2 and 3
  4. None of the above

Q.2) Which of the following statements are true regarding solar power infrastructure in India.

  1. Nipah virus infection gets its name from the village in Singapore where the person from whom the virus was first isolated succumbed to the disease.
  2. Nipah Virus is a zoonotic disease.
  3. It spreads from animal to humans through animal bite.

Select the correct option

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. None of the above

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