IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 30th October 2018
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
India-Japan: 13th annual summit
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – India and the World; International Relations
- Both the countries outlined a vision for strengthened bilateral relations.
- Main focus – enhanced strategic and defence cooperation.
- Unwavering commitment towards “free and open Indo-Pacific”.
- Invest in upholding the rule of law and democratic values.
- Both countries to “expand concrete cooperation with the U.S. and other partners”.
- Announced the start of negotiations on an Acquisition and Cross-servicing Agreement, a logistics-sharing pact, that would allow Japanese ships to get fuel and servicing at Indian naval bases.
- A new Foreign and Defence Ministerial Dialogue, termed 2+2, was also announced to supplement an already formidable array of bilateral dialogue mechanisms that include the Annual Defence Ministerial Dialogue, Defence Policy Dialogue and the National Security Advisers Dialogue.
- On the economic front, the two countries have agreed to a Bilateral Swap Arrangement that would allow their central banks to exchange local currencies for up to $75 billion.
Freedom of navigation
- Both the countries also referred to the necessity of ensuring the freedom of navigation and the importance of upholding the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), a set of conventions that China has been accused of flouting in the South China Sea.
10th SCO meet: disaster prevention
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – India and its neighbours; International Relations
- India to host 10th SCO meeting on handling urban disaster.
- National Disaster Response Force to host the preparatory meeting for the “Joint mock exercise on urban earthquake search and rescue” to be held next year in India.
- Pakistan accepts India invite to SCO meet.
- The exercise will provide an opportunity to member countries to validate their preparedness and resilience to address the various disaster related challenges.
Children under 15 at serious risk from polluted air: WHO
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Health issue; Pollution and Environment concerns
According to WHO –
- Every day about 93% of the world’s children under the age of 15 (1.8 billion children) breathe polluted air.
- Children could suffer neuro-development deficits.
- Air pollution also impacts neuro-development and cognitive ability and can trigger asthma, and childhood cancer.
- Children exposed to high levels of air pollution may be at greater risk for chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease later in life, the WHO said.
Do you know?
- Delhi tops national charts in bad air quality.
- Fourteen out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India.
- The report says India faces the highest air pollution-related mortality and disease burden in the world.
TOPIC: General studies 2
- 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.
India, China and the INF Treaty
- US President Donald Trump’s recently announced about American plans to withdraw from the three-decade-old missile treaty with Russia.
- The decision marks the end of an era of disarmament that India was so engaged with since its Independence.
- As one of the nine known nuclear-weapon powers, India has to adapt to the erosion of traditional methods of managing arms races.
- Geopolitical developments, emergence of new technologies and the declining domestic political support among the great powers are contributing to the demise of arms control.
- Implications of this withdrawal are important for Indian security — especially on the military balance with China, its traditional defence cooperation with Russia and the new possibilities for high-technology cooperation with the US, Europe and Japan.
The INF treaty
- The Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty concluded in 1987 by Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev.
- It has been hailed as one of the most important arms control agreements between both the countries.
- Under the INF treaty, the US and Soviet Union agreed not to develop, produce, possess or deploy any ground-based ballistic and cruise missiles that have a range between 500 and 5,500 km.
- It exempted the air-launched and sea-based missile systems in the same range.
- The agreement came in the wake of huge public outcry in Europe in the 1980s at the Russian deployment of the SS-20 ballistic missiles and the US response with Pershing-2 rockets.
- The INF treaty helped address the fears of an imminent nuclear war in Europe.
- It also built some trust between Washington and Moscow and contributed to the end of the Cold War.
Drawbacks of the treaty
- The treaty had loopholes that have now come to haunt America and Russia.
- This bilateral treaty left the other nuclear weapon powers free to develop ground-based intermediate range forces.
- Since then, many countries have developed missiles in the range of 500 to 5,500 km, including India, Pakistan and North Korea.
- It is China that has dramatically expanded its missile arsenal in the last three decades.
- According to American officials, nearly 90 per cent of China’s vast missile armoury — estimated at around 2,000 rockets — is in the intermediate range and would be illegal if Beijing were to be a part of the INF treaty.
Reasons behind withdrawal
- Although the US cites Russian violations of the INF treaty as the immediate cause for the withdrawal, coping with China’s massive rocket force appears to be the more important reason for the decision.
- According to S.’s national security adviser, even without the alleged Russian violations, the INF treaty was a bad idea since it left China and North Korea free to undermine the security of the US and its allies in Asia.
- The expansive Chinese land-based intermediate range missile forces threaten the American naval ships deployed in the Western Pacific and target US military bases in Japan.
- The vulnerability of American military presence in the Pacific to Chinese missiles, in turn, undermines the credibility of American security commitment to its Asian allies.
- The US military leadership has long sought to lift the limitations imposed by the INF treaty on US missile forces in Asia.
Is there any possibility of revival of INF treaty?
- In announcing the intent to withdraw, Trump said the only way to sustain the treaty is for Russia to stop the violations and China to join the INF treaty.
- Many arms control activists have long called for a genuinely universal INF treaty — that is all countries will give up intermediate range missiles.
- China has already rejected the proposition. It has always refused to join the US-Russian arms control agreements.
- If the US deploys a new INF in Asia, to enhance its capacity to deter China, Beijing is bound to react.
- The focus of a potential new arms race appears to be less on traditional nuclear armed missiles, but precise hypersonic missiles (which travel at least five times the speed of sound) equipped with conventional warheads.
- Moscow and Beijing have already invested in the development of hypersonic systems.
- India too will have little interest in joining a treaty that would take away its current nuclear deterrent in the form of medium-range Agni missiles.
- India’s problem is less with the arms control diplomacy than the nature of its missile programme.
- While it has no reason to shed tears for the INF treaty, it will have to seriously examine the implications of the next steps by the major powers.
- India has an effort underway on hypersonic missiles — part indigenous and part in collaboration with Russia to build on the supersonic Brahmos missiles that travel more than twice as fast as sound.
- As the US conflict with Russia deepens, India’s partnership with Russia on advanced military systems will come under increasing scrutiny and pressure.
- The recent controversy over the acquisition of S-400 from Russia is just the beginning of a trend.
- Russia’s increasing military relations with China also casts a shadow over defence ties between India and Russia.
- India has to think long and hard about its missile programme by focusing on the urgent need to ramp up the domestic effort as well as diversify its international collaboration on hypersonic weapons.
- India needs a significant force of hypersonic missiles to better control escalation to the nuclear level if there is another Doklam-like military confrontation with China.
- Delhi will also have to cope with the inevitable proliferation of hypersonic systems in its neighbourhood.
Connecting the dots:
- The US withdrawal from the three-decade-old disarmament pact with Russia presents both a challenge and opportunity for India. Analyse.
TOPIC: General studies 2 and 3
- Public Services; Health
- Science and Tech, Indigenisation of technologies
More potent healers
- In 2017, tuberculosis (TB) affected over 10 million and killed more people than HIV/AIDS — an estimated 1.3 million fatalities worldwide.
- With a quarter of TB cases and deaths, India’s efforts are critical for the global push to ending the epidemic by 2030.
- Well-executed programmes that screen and effectively treat potential patients can stop TB in its tracks (China halved its TB prevalence rate between 1990 and 2010), but most such programmes rely on a top-down public healthcare system.
- A largely unregulated private sector treats two-thirds of India’s patients.
- In 2014, the Central TB Division, in partnership with local governments and two NGOs (PATH and World Health Partners), put in place a new programme in Patna and Mumbai that sought to improve the quality of TB diagnosis and treatment in the private sector.
- A critical part of the programme was first understanding how the private sector treated patients and the problems they faced.
- A team initiated the world’s largest surveillance of TB care quality, using the gold-standard method of standardised patients (SPs).
- SPs were trained professionals, recruited from local communities, who presented as patients with a pre-determined set of symptoms and responses to questions the doctors may ask.
- The standardisation of the case meant that the care they received could be benchmarked to standards of care, and accurately compared across providers.
Findings of the surveillance
- The programme showed three key features characterised the “market” for TB care in these cities.
- First, only 35 per cent of patients choosing a healthcare facility at random would have been treated in a manner consistent with national and international guidelines.
- Penalising providers for unnecessary (potentially harmful) tests and medications reduces that fraction to below 10 per cent.
- Second, these numbers reflect the tremendous quality variation in both cities (Mumbai and Patna).
- Part of this variation is due to qualifications: Close to half the providers in both cities were AYUSH or informal, with MBBS providers correctly managing 46 per cent of the cases compared to 23.5 per cent for AYUSH and informal providers.
- Within both groups, there were always some providers who managed every SP correctly and some who got every case wrong.
- Third, it has been told again and again that the private sector over-medicates. This is evident in data, but with some nuance.
- The good news is that anti-TB medications were almost exclusively given by providers with the appropriate qualifications, and only after obtaining the necessary lab confirmations.
- Neither pharmacists nor informal or AYUSH providers abuse anti-TB medications — a major concern in past TB control efforts.
- The bad news is the frequent use of antibiotics and, more worryingly, classes of drugs known as fluoroquinolones and steroids, both of which can mask the symptoms of TB and make diagnoses harder.
- In 2014-2015, the programmes incorporated these features of the market in their scale-up plans.
- Since then, both Mumbai and Patna have seen significant improvements in TB notification rates among private sector providers, with greater use of microbiological tests and improved treatment completion rates.
- Preliminary analysis on new data after the programme was in place suggests substantial improvements in case management.
- The government, supported by The Global Fund, is expanding this model of private sector engagement to several cities through its Joint Effort for Elimination of Tuberculosis.
- It is likely that they will face a comparable situation, with high-quality, dedicated doctors practicing amidst many indifferent and mediocre providers.
Way forward: A proposed strategy
- A strategy called IFMeT is proposed, that may be key to successful private-public partnerships to fight TB with four components: Identification, focusing, messaging and testing (IFMeT).
- The strategy identifies “champion” high quality providers early in the programme to get quick and large returns by connecting patients with champion providers.
- Focusing investments and training on this smaller provider group, while leaving lower volume/quality providers untouched.
- This “provider focusing” approach decreases the scale of the programme while retaining virtually all its benefits.
- The third component is targeted messaging. Complex financial incentives that are hard to untangle in the private sector complicate efforts to reduce unnecessary medications.
- An alternate approach concentrates on one or two key behaviors. At this point, messaging only on the overuse of fluoroquinolones and steroids can have substantial impact on the patient’s health.
- Finally, under-testing is the key problem in the private sector. Doctors need to increase testing with more X-rays, sputum tests and GeneXpert tests for patients presenting with symptoms consistent with TB.
- The doctors given better diagnostic information like test results, made more appropriate decisions and gave fewer unnecessary medicines.
- Thus, IFMeT could take a large and seemingly intractable problem and reduce it to a series of actionable, manageable steps that can help end an epidemic that kills millions of Indians.
Connecting the dots:
- TB is still one of the major cause of deaths across the world. To eliminate this epidemic, understanding the private sector and designing the corresponding strategies is one of the important solutions. Elucidate.
(Note: For more on TB, Click here: https://iasbaba.com/2018/03/india-radio-air-tuberculosis-free-india/)
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
- Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
- IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.
Q.1) Which of the following statements regarding TB are correct?
- TB is a chronic viral disease.
- Once infected a person cannot be permanently cured.
- TB is spread through air when infected person cough, sneeze, spit or speak.
Select the code from below:
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 3 only
- None of the above
Q.2) Consider the following with regard to Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB)
- Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by Virus
- MDR-TB is a type of tuberculosis which is unresponsive to at least two of the first line of anti-TB drugs isoniazid and rifampicin
- Bedaquiline is a medication used in the treatment of MDR-TB
Choose the appropriate code
- 2 only
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- 1, 2 and 3
Q.3) Recently the SC has put a ban on selling of crackers because of its harmful impact on air pollution level and public health. Which of the following get emitted from the crackers?
- Toxic dust
Choose the appropriate option
- 1 only
- 1 and 2 only
- 2 and 3 only
- All of the above
Q.4) Consider the following regarding National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)
- National Disaster Response Force consist of 12 battalions
- Assam Rifles and CISF are the two most specialized battalions of NDRF
- NDRF is under the control of Ministry of Home Affairs
Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?
- 1 and 3
- Only 3
- 2 and 3
- 1, 2 and 3
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