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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 20th December 2021

  • IASbaba
  • December 20, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI)

Part of: Prelims and GS-II -Health

Context The Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI), in collaboration with the Association of Healthcare Providers of India (AHPI) has launched an accreditation programme that will enable hospitals to get a “breastfeeding-friendly” tag.

Key takeaways

  • This programme is called “Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI)”.
    • The BFHI programme is a worldwide programme of the WHO and UNICEF. 
  • Chennai’s Bloom Healthcare has become the first hospital to be recognised as “breastfeeding-friendly” under this programme.
  • The initiative is only for private hospitals and is based on the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s MAA programme for government hospitals launched in 2016.
  • Process: The certification process involves two stages — the first stage includes self-assessment by a hospital, followed by an external assessment by an authorised appraiser

Breastfeeding status in India

  • Early initiation of breastfeeding continues to be low in the country.
  • According to the National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-2021), while there were 88.6% institutional births, only 41.8% of infants were breastfed within the first one hour.
  • In fact, many States such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have shown a decline in the proportion of children breastfed within the first hour

International Development Association (IDA)

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Economy 

Context International Development Association (IDA) has recently provided $93 billion cash to help the world’s poorest nations which would help scale up aid for pandemic recovery and other programs.

Key takeaways 

  • It was the biggest replenishment ever for the International Development Association (IDA), which provides grants for 74 countries, most of which are in Africa.
  • The package includes $23.5 billion of contributions from high- and middle-income countries as well as financing raised in the capital markets and the World Bank’s own contributions.
  • The funds will help countries prepare better for future crises.

What is The International Development Association (IDA)?

  • It is an international financial institution which offers concessional loans and grants to the world’s poorest developing countries.
  • The IDA is a member of the World Bank Group 
  • Headquartered: Washington, D.C.
  • It was established in 1960 to complement the existing International Bank for Reconstruction and Development

Mormugao: Indian Navy’s indigenous stealth destroyer

Part of: Prelims and GS-III- Defence and security

Context Mormugao, Indian Navy’s second indigenous stealth destroyer of the Project 15B class, planned to be commissioned in mid-2022, proceeded on her maiden sea short trip recently.

About Mormugao

  • Mormugao is being built at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDSL) as part of the Project 15B destroyers.
  • Mormugao will add significantly to the Indian Navy’s combat capabilities.
  • With the recent commissioning in November 2021 of INS Visakhapatnam and the fourth P75 submarine INS Vela, sea trials of Mormugao are testimony to the indigenous shipbuilding tradition of India.

About P-15B

  • The Visakhapatnam-class destroyers or simply P-15B, is a class of guided-missile destroyers currently being built for the Indian Navy.
  • Designed by the Directorate of Naval Design, a total of four ships are being built by Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL).
  • The four ships are named after major cities from all four corners of the country — Visakhapatnam, Mormugao, Imphal and Surat.
  • The first vessel of the class, INS Visakhapatnam was commissioned on 21 November 2021.

Operation Vijay

Part of: Prelims and GS I – History and Culture

Context Every year on 19 December, Goa Liberation Day is celebrated as Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule on that day in 1961. 

  • Goa was a Portuguese colony for 451 years.

About Operation Vijay

  • Goa was taken over by the Portuguese from the Maratha rule in 1641 and the conflict ended in a peace treaty between the Portuguese and Maratha Empire (Bicholim conflict).
  • Goans also participated in Satyagraha in the late 1940s.
  • After India got independence, the Portuguese refused to give up their hold over Goa.
  • The Indian government under Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961 adopted Operation Vijay to free the Portuguese colonies (Gos, Daman and Diu) in India. 
  • The Portuguese surrendered and the coastal state acquired its liberation on December 19, 1961.
  • Then Goa was annexed into the Indian Union and became the Union Territory of India along with Daman and Diu.
  • Goa continued to be a Union Territory till 1987 and then was given statehood by becoming the 25th state of India.

Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Polity

Context The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that seeks to link electoral rolls to Aadhaar number has been listed for introduction in the Lok Sabha.

About the Bill

  • The Bill allows electoral registration officers to ask for Aadhaar numbers of applicants wanting to register as voters to establish the identity of the applicant.
  • It also seeks to allow the officers to ask for the number from “persons already included in the electoral roll.
  • People who cannot furnish their Aadhaar numbers will be allowed to present other documents to establish identity.

Various amendments to Representation of People Act, 1950

  • Section 23 will be amended to allow linking of the roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem.
  • Amendment to Section 14 will allow four “qualifying” dates for eligible people to register as voters. As of now, January 1 of every year is the sole qualifying date.
  • Amendment to Section 20 and Section 60 will allow the elections to become gender-neutral for service voters. 

(News from PIB)


PM GatiShakti

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-III: Infrastructure

In News: The Government has constituted Empowered Group of Secretaries (EGoS) headed by Cabinet Secretary with Secretaries of 20 Infrastructure and Economic User Ministries as members of EGoS to monitor implementation of PM GatiShakti.  

PM GatiShakti National Master Plan has been launched for providing multimodal connectivity to various Economic Zones in the country.  

  • A target of making India energy independent by 2047 has been set – by replace petroleum with other forms of energy 
  • National Hydrogen Mission has been announced noting the country spends Rs 12 trillion on energy imports every year.

Aim: To reduce the logistics cost

National Master Plan developed by: Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics (BISAG-N)

Nodal department for PM GatiShatki: Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT)

Significance: Currently, the logistics cost in India is about 13% of the GDP whereas in other developed countries it is to the extent of 8%. Government is committed to reduce the cost of logistics to ensure 

  • Competitiveness of our manufacturing sector, 
  • Better realisation of prices to farmers 
  • Availability of goods at cheaper prices to consumers

News Source: PIB


New generation ballistic missile ‘Agni P’

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-III: Agriculture

In News: Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully tested the new generation nuclear capable ballistic missile ‘Agni P’ from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam island off the coast of Odisha.

  • A two-stage canisterised solid propellant ballistic missile with dual redundant navigation and guidance system. 
  • This second flight-test has proven the reliable performance of all the advanced technologies integrated into the system.
  • Successor for Agni-I and Agni-II missiles in the operational service of Strategic Forces Command with significant upgrades in the form of composite motor casing, maneuverable reentry vehicle (MaRV) along with improved propellants, navigation and guidance systems.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


ENVIRONMENT/ INTERNATIONAL/ SECURITY

  • GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation 
  • GS-2: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

India reject UNSC draft on climate

Context: On December 13, India joined Russia in opposing a draft proposal at the United Nations Security Council which would effectively bring climate change in the Security Council’s purview.

  • This would have allowed UNSC to enforce and hold countries accountable for their promises to mitigate global warming. 
  • The proposal was sponsored by Niger and Ireland, who claimed that 113 countries, which included permanent Security Council members U.S., the U.K., and France, backed their view to integrate climate-related security risks into the UNSC’s conflict prevention mandate.
  • However, after a heated debate and a strong counter by India, the proposal was vetoed by Russia, and the UNSC recorded 12 in favour, 2 against as well as an abstention from China.

Why are sponsors keen to introduce climate change into the UNSC mandate?

  • Climate change has been discussed at the UNSC since 2007, and several UNSC statements reference the impact of global warming on conflicts. 
  • Both Niger and Ireland pointed out that people in countries most vulnerable to climate change are also most vulnerable to terror groups and violence, attempting to connect both to the UNSC’s mandate on peacekeeping. 
  • They said climate-related conflicts over arable land, food security, desertification and forced migration, the increase in climate refugees due to global warming would all eventually lead to conflicts that the UNSC needs to weigh in on.
  • According to a report by Peace Research Institute SIPRI, 10 of 21 ongoing UN peacekeeping operations are located in countries ranked as most exposed to climate change. 
  • Some commentators in favour, said it was only after 2000 when the UNSC passed Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security that gender violence in conflict really entered the debate, and hoped they could do the same for climate. 
  • Niger’s representative said if the Security Council could pass a resolution on the COVID-19 pandemic and health security (UNSCR 2565 (2021)), why could climate security not be addressed there?

Why did India vote with Russia?

  • India’s stand on the proposal is consistent with a desire not to allow the UNSC too broad a mandate to “intervene” and overreach on sovereign issues
  • While the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which held the CoP 26 at Glasgow collates the voluntary contributions of countries in order to battle climate change and promote sustainability, India believes these are not issues where the UNSC should interfere. 
  • India reiterated that it is “second to none” on keeping its climate commitments and fighting for climate justice, it would be “misleading” to view conflicts through the prism of climate change worldwide. 
  • India even suggested that it would support a more limited draft that focused exclusively on the Sahel region of North Africa, where desertification of arid areas is directly sparking water-related conflict, but this was not considered, and India then recorded its first negative vote in this term at the UNSC. 
  • The Chinese representative, also said that UNSC should only consider security risks driven by climate change, based on “country-by-country or situation-by-situation” analysis.

Will the climate security proposal be reviewed and resubmitted?

  • Given the strong support the proposal has received, and the numerically small opposition from Russia and India at the UNSC at present, it is unlikely that the issue will go away, and it is only a matter of time before American, European, African and Latin American countries come together with another proposal to introduce climate change to the Security Council’s mandate. 
  • The current proposal is a revised version of a draft proposed by Germany that was opposed in the UNSC in 2020. 
  • According to its backers, the real objective is to ensure that the UNSC considers the impact of climate change along with other causes of conflicts it is debating. 
  • However, those opposed to it, which include about 80 countries, say that bringing climate change into an already polarised Security Council, torn between the U.S., the U.K. and France versus Russia and China will only deepen divisions over an issue that concerns the whole globe and requires an undivided approach. 

Conclusion

As one of the most populous countries in the UNSC at present, and representing a region that is itself highly exposed to the risks of climate change, India’s voice will be important in deciding the debate between securitising climate change, and ensuring the global peacekeeping body doesn’t overstep its mandate.

Connecting the dots:


AGRICULTURE/ ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-3: Indian Economy and challenges
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Impact of PepsiCo verdict

Context: Two years ago PepsiCo India had sued nine Gujarati farmers for allegedly infringing patent rights by growing its registered potato variety.

  • However, now the company’s registration of the variety has been revoked by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights’ Authority (PPV&FRA). 
  • The PPV&FRA questioned the documentation produced by PepsiCo claiming it was the owner of the variety, and thus could be considered the Registered Breeder under the law. 
  • The wider implications of the verdict for intellectual property rights in the agricultural sector are being examined by farmers’ groups as well as seed developers and industrial agriculture companies, both international and Indian.

What does the verdict mean for farmers’ rights?

  • Although the PPV&FRA verdict largely depended on procedural errors and shortcomings of PepsiCo and the registrar with regard to documentation and transfer of rights between the plant breeder and the production company, it does touch briefly on the protection of farmers’ rights and public interest. 
  • “Farmers have been put to hardship including the looming possibility of having to pay huge penalty on the alleged infringement they were supposed to have been committing which violated the public interest” said the judgment. 
  • The verdict sent a strong signal to those who hold intellectual property rights for seeds that the unique rights that the PPV&FR Act provides Indian farmers are not to be transgressed.

What is the difference in rights provided under law to farmers and breeders?

  • ‘Producing from a variety’, including a farmer saving seed and using unbranded seed from a harvest, is very different to ‘producing a variety’, which involves breeders following complex technical procedures that farmers largely do not have the skills for. 
  • There is no risk of commercial competition for the IPR owner in the first case, when harvests are meant for consumption, processing and the grocery market, unlike in the latter case when harvests are meant for further planting and multiplication of the genome or to generate heterosis in hybrid varieties

Does the PPV&FR Act encourage innovation and protect intellectual property rights of seed developers?

  • The biggest problem with the law is the lack of proper enforcement, according to the seeds industry. 
  • There must be a mechanism to catch and punish those who illegally sell the variety, but enforcement is left to States and is uneven. The rampant spread of unauthorised and genetically modified HTBt cotton seeds as an example of this.
  • The unique protections provided to farmers in India can act as an enforcement loophole given the grey area between farmers and aggregators. 
  • A farmer is allowed to grow protected varieties, sell the produce, even sell the unbranded seeds under the law, and that intention is good. But there is ambiguity on what happens when many farmers sell registered seeds to an aggregator who collects it and then sells it in a branded fashion, or sells to a competitor.
  • If the aggregator owns an acre of land somewhere, he may also call himself a farmer, and therefore there is a possibility of pilferage of the parent seed from farmers’ fields to other farmers.
  • Other issues with PPV&FR implementation which obstruct innovation include the slow turnaround time for registration of varieties and the requirement that companies submit parent seeds when applying for registration. 
  • As a result, not just foreign investment, even domestic investment in innovation is low because of lack of protection of IPR.
  • The Indian seed market has annual revenues of ₹20,000 crore, but less than 3% or about ₹500-600 crore is ploughed back into research, in contrast with 10-12% which is the global standard.

How does contract farming law impact the issue?

  • With the first national contract farming law passed by Parliament in 2020 being repealed in Nov 2021 under pressure from protesting farm unions, there is no uniformity among the few State laws that exist. 
  • The seed industry, which depends on farmers for seed production, prefers to deal with local contractors rather than sign direct contracts with farmers.
  • If a contract is violated, there is no way for private players to enforce it at the village level, so it is better to deal with a local player and form tripartite agreements. Also, it is inconceivable for any company to sue a farmer given that PepsiCo and Monsanto have faced political and public backlash for doing so.

Connecting the dots:


(Down to Earth: Health)


Dec 14 – Vitamin D3 can protect against fatal COVID-19 infection: Study – https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/health/vitamin-d3-can-protect-against-fatal-covid-19-infection-study-80683 

TOPIC:

  • GS-2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Vitamin D3 can protect against fatal COVID-19 infection

Context: A recent study has shown that patients with sufficiently high D3 serum levels preceding the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were highly unlikely to suffer a fatal outcome. It also underlined the importance of vaccination alongwith strengthening the immunity system of the whole population by vitamin D3 supplementation to consistently guarantee blood levels above 50 nanograms per millilitre.

What is Vitamin D? 

Vitamin D is a steroid hormone, produced endogenously with the effect of ultraviolet radiation on the skin or available from exogenous food sources or dietary supplements.

Effectiveness of Vitamin D Shown By Studies:

  • According to a paper written by three German scientists, there are enough evidences showing the role of Vitamin D in regulating the immune system. 
  • It follows different mechanism in reducing the risk of viral infection and mortality and also the risk of common cold through three pathways: physical barrier, cellular natural immunity, and adaptive immunity.
  • Including several other diseases, it is also effective in curing respiratory distress syndrome which is a COVID-19 after-effect, the risk of other such acute viral respiratory tract infections and pneumonia.
  • Effective in reducing the generation of inflammatory cytokines – responsible for cytokine release syndrome, also known as cytokine storm, which causes multiple organ damage – a key cause of death in late stage COVID-19 cases.   
  • According to a study conducted by Boston University’s School of Medicine, COVID-19 patients with adequate levels of vitamin D have a lesser chance of showing “adverse clinical effects of the coronavirus” — like becoming unconscious and suffering from hypoxia.
  • A study in 216 COVID-19 patients has found over 80% have vitamin D deficiency. Men had lower vitamin D levels than women. Those with low vitamin D levels also had raised serum levels of inflammatory markers.

Advantages of Vitamin D beyond Health Benefits:

  • From social and political point of view: It will reduce the need for contact restrictions and lockdown.
  • From economical point of view: Since it is inexpensive, billions of dollars will be saved. Together with vaccines, it will boost the chance of getting rid of the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Vitamin D-Rich Diet Sources

  • Fatty Fish – Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel and fish liver oils provide a goods amount of vitamin D content.
  • Dairy Products – Milk, cheese and other dairy products must be included in everyday diet for daily vitamin D fix.
  • Eggs Yolks – Many people discard yolks from eggs fearing high fat content. Egg yolks also contain decent quantities of vitamin D and can be sparingly used in our meals.
  • Cereals And Juices – A perfect breakfast combo to get your fill of vitamin D! Include cereals and different fruit juices in your morning diet.

The Challenge

  • Despite all these facts, testing and supplementation of vitamin D3 remains insufficient till now. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic began, the widespread of vitamin D deficiency was recorded. The reason being the shortfall to modern lifestyle that is “far from optimal with respect to nutrition, physical fitness, and recreation” as per the study.
  • This is a matter of concern as scientists wrote, after rickets – a condition from the 19th century that softens bones, “the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is becoming the second breakthrough in the history of vitamin D3 association with disease”

Conclusion

Adequate Vitamin D levels may prove key in preventing COVID-19 risk and reducing severity of infection. Thus, people who are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency during this global pandemic should consider taking supplements. But levels of supplements needed should be decided in consultation with doctors. 

Can you answer the following question?

  1. Vitamin D insufficiency is a public health problem that needs to be solved. Discuss.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Operation Vijay is associated with which of the following?

  1. Liberation of Goa, Daman and Diu
  2. Operation against Naxalites
  3. To help fleeing Hindus and Sikhs from Afghanistan
  4. Flushing out militants from Kashmir

Q.2 Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a worldwide programme of which of the following?

  1. WHO 
  2. UNICEF
  3. ASEAN
  4. Both (a) and (b)

Q.3 Visakhapatnam, Mormugao, Imphal and Surat indigenous stealth guided missile destroyers belong to which of the following class?

  1. Project 15B
  2. Project 75 submarine
  3. Project 18
  4. Project 15A

ANSWERS FOR 20th Dec 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 D
3 A

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