IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 19th March 2019
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
West Nile Virus
- As per the media reports, a seven-year-old boy from Malappuram District of Kerala is suffering from a West Nile Virus (WNV), a mosquito-borne disease, mostly reported in the continental United States.
- West Nile fever is spread by Culex mosquitoes and the infection could be confirmed only if the second samples test positive.
- Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, occasionally with a skin rash on the trunk of the body, and swollen lymph glands.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) says West Nile virus transmits to humans through bites from infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds.
Do you know?
- West Nile virus can cause a fatal neurological disease in humans.
- Approximately 80% of West Nile virus infections in humans have few or no symptoms.
- WNV is found in temperate and tropical regions of the world.
- The virus was discovered in Uganda in 1937 and was first detected in North America in 1999.
Repeat MPs’ assets rose 142%
Part of: GS Paper II and III – Corruption in Politics; Social issue; Polity
- The average financial assets of 153 re-elected Lok Sabha MPs grew by 142%, from ₹5.5 crore in 2009 to ₹13.32 crore in 2014, according to an analysis by National Election Watch and the Association for Democratic Reforms.
- Financial details of 153 sitting re-elected MPs fielded by various political parties have been taken from the recently filed affidavits by these MPs and the values of these financial assets have been compared to the corresponding values of the assets that the MPs showed in their affidavits from the previous elections.
Male reaffirms its ‘India first’ policy
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – International relations; India and the World
- Requests for a cricket stadium, renewable energy projects and a thousand additional slots for Maldivian students in Indian courses were the highlights of the discussions during India’s External Affairs Minister recent visit to the Maldives, as the island nation reaffirmed its “India first” policy.
- Three agreements were signed during the visit, which officials called the first “full-fledged substantive bilateral” engagement at a political level with the new government in Male.
- One of the agreements is for visa exemption for diplomats and another for MoUs for development projects.
- Maldives reiterated that it would remain sensitive towards India’s security and strategic concerns.
India on the brink of a dry eye disease epidemic, says study
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Social Justice/Health
- For the first time, a large-scale, hospital-based study in India involving over 14.5 lakh patients had found the incidence (number of new cases occurring each year) of dry eye disease to be 21,000 (1.46%).
- At over 12,500 cases, the incidence in urban areas was higher than in rural areas (over 8,700 cases).
- With a large ageing population, growing middle-class and chronic nature of the disease, India is on the verge of a dry eye disease epidemic, says the study.
- The prevalence of dry eye disease will be about 40% of the urban population by 2030.
- Since the disease tends to be progressive with age, once corneal damage becomes irreversible it can lead to visual impairment and even blindness.
- Early diagnosis and treatment is therefore important.
Do you know?
- The disease is hugely underdiagnosed in India.
- The study was undertaken across 200 locations in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Karnataka between 2010 and 2018. The results were published in The Ocular Surface.
- The study found the onset of dry eye disease is early in men than in women. In men, the age of disease onset is early 20s and 30s compared with 50s and 60s in women. Hormonal imbalance could be a likely reason for higher cases in women in their 50s and 60s.
- This is first study that has shown an age-based gender risk for the disease.
Low tear production
- Age, urban residence, occupation and socio-economic affluence were found to be high risk factors for developing the disease.
- Dry eye disease could occur due to inadequate tear production (aqueous deficient), tear film instability due to evaporation or mixed type. Over 20.5% had dry eye disease caused by inadequate tear production, 35.5% due to tear film instability (evaporative) and 40% being mixed.
- As tears are not produced sufficiently in people who are aqueous deficient, it is a more dangerous form of dry eye disease. They have severe clinical disease.
- There is a possible underlying autoimmune disease, which is causing inadequate tear production and this has to be investigated.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Functions and responsibilities of the Government; Separation of powers between various organs
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Governance issues
Lokpal and its functions
- In previous day DNA, we read about Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose, is to become the first Lokpal (or first anti-corruption ombudsman).
- C. Ghose, Chairman of national anti-corruption ombudsman selected.
- This comes five years after the President had given assent to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.
- The government was prompted to make the selection after the Supreme Court set the February-end deadline.
- Now that the Lokpal has been chosen, victims of corruption have a viable avenue of redress.
Do you know?
- The concept of an institutional mechanism, or an anti-corruption ombudsman, has been around for over 50 years.
- It (Lokpal) was finally enacted as a law in 2013, and came into effect on January 16, 2014. (Thanks to Anna Hazare’s movement)
- Under the 2013 Act, the Lokpal should consist of a chairperson and such number of members, not exceeding eight, of whom 50% should be judicial members.
Appointment system: two-stage process
- A search committee has to be formed, which will recommend a panel of names to the high-power selection committee.
- High-power selection committee comprises the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Justice of India (or his nominee) and an eminent jurist.
- The selection panel has to choose from a short-list consisting of names for the posts of Lokpal chairperson, and judicial and non-judicial members.
What happens after these selections to anti-corruption ombudsman?
- Lokpal helps to fight corruption in high places, as it probes corruption complaints against top functionaries and public servants, including the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers.
The Lokpal will set about creating its various wings:
- It will have an “Inquiry Wing, headed by the Director of Inquiry, for the purpose of conducting preliminary inquiry into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988”.
- It will also have a “Prosecution Wing, headed by the Director of Prosecution, for the purpose of prosecution of public servants in relation to any complaint by the Lokpal under this Act”.
- Once the other members of the Lokpal are appointed, the process for more appointments will start: Secretary, Director of Inquiry and Director of Prosecution and other officers and staff of the Lokpal.
What kind of public servants will come under the purview of these wings?
- Wide range of public servants — from the Prime Minister, ministers and MPs, to groups A, B, C and D employees of the central government.
- The Act does not allow a Lokpal inquiry if the allegation against the Prime Minister relates to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space.
- Also, complaints against the Prime Minister are not to be probed unless the full Lokpal bench considers the initiation of an inquiry and at least two-thirds of the members approve it.
- Such an inquiry against the Prime Minister (if conducted) is to be held in camera and if the Lokpal comes to the conclusion that the complaint deserves to be dismissed, the records of the inquiry are not to be published or made available to anyone.
- The Act also includes the Lokpal’s own members under the definition of “public servant”.
- It shall apply to public servants in and outside India, the Act states.
- It clarifies that “a complaint under this Act shall only relate to a period during which the public servant was holding or serving in that capacity.”
Connecting the dots:
- Is the office of the Lokpal independent of the government and others whom it is mandated to scrutinise? Examine.
- What is an ombudsman? Discuss its efficacy as an institutional measure to curb corruption.
- What are the institutional mechanisms to curb corruption? Are they effective? What role can Lokpal play in curbing corruption? Analyse.
TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Disaster and disaster management
Need for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure
- As the world is urbanising at an unprecedented pace, need for resilient infrastructure is very important.
- The term “resilient” refers to the ability of such infrastructure systems (including their interconnected ecosystems and social systems) to absorb disturbance and still retain their basic function and structural capacity.
- Around 34% of India’s population lives in cities and this demographic cohort is expected to grow in the years ahead.
- This growing rate of urbanisation and the subsequent increase in population density is bringing massive new investments in infrastructure.
- Bridges, roads, dams, power stations and electrical grids are just some of the services and facilities that need to be built to serve burgeoning urban populations.
- Unprecedented growing rate of urbanization and increasing population density.
- Half of the infrastructure needed in Asia by 2050 is yet to be built.
- Globally, $6 trillion needs to be invested in infrastructure every year until 2030 to meet current demands.
- Disasters in heavily populated urban areas can lead to high numbers of human casualties.
- Economic losses from disasters that damage infrastructure can reach huge proportions. (According to World Bank estimates, annual disaster losses are already close to $520 billion)
The way ahead:
- New infrastructure is to be made resilient to withstand future shocks, including those brought by a changing climate.
- Ensuring that all new investments in infrastructure are made in a risk-sensitive way can play a significant role in reducing economic losses from disasters.
Do you know?
- Second International Workshop on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure is being hosted this month (March 2019) under the initiative of the Indian government and with support from the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.
- It aims to create global coalition for resilient infrastructure and ensure that new risks are not created, as enshrined in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
Money saved from relief and rebuilding costs can be invested in development objectives, such as education, health care or improved transportation, helping countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Such international cooperation and shared commitment are needed to “future-proof” our cities and lock-in resilience for generations to come.
Connecting the dots:
- Define the term “Resilient Infrastructure”? Discuss the significance of Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
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Q.1) Consider the following statements about West Nile fever
- It is a mosquito-borne infection
- West Nile Virus (WNV) was first identified in Uganda
Select the correct statements
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
The death penalty: a fatal margin of error
A model problem
Foreign hand returns
When horror goes live on the web and fools fail the world
Look beyond unconditional transfers for social security
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