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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 9th February 2022

  • IASbaba
  • February 9, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Sri Lanka’s Unitary Digital Identity framework

Part of: Prelims and GS-II -International Relations

Context: India shall provide a grant to Sri Lanka to implement a ‘Unitary Digital Identity framework.

  • The framework is apparently modelled on the Aadhaar card.

Key takeaways 

  • Under the proposed Unitary Digital Identity Framework, the following features shall be introduced.
    • personal identity verification device based on biometric data
    • a digital tool that can represent the identities of individuals in cyberspace
    • the identification of individual identities that can be accurately verified in digital and physical environments by combining the two devices.

What is Aadhar number?

  • Aadhaar number is a 12-digit random number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to the residents of India after satisfying the verification process laid down by the Authority.
  • Any individual, irrespective of age and gender, who is a resident of India, may voluntarily enrol to obtain an Aadhaar number.
  • Person willing to enrol has to provide minimal demographic and biometric information during the enrolment process which is totally free of cost.
  • An individual needs to enrol for Aadhaar only once.
  • Legal Framework: The Parliament has passed the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Act, 2019 which allows voluntary use of Aadhaar as proof of identity

News Source: TH


EU Chips Act

Part of: Prelims and GS-II International Relations and GS-III Economy

Context: The European Union has planned to unveil the EU Chips Act that will mobilise more than €43 billion ($49.1 billion) of public and private investments and enable the EU to reach its ambition to double its current market share of semiconductors to 20% in 2030.

Key takeaways 

  • Getting to 20% of the global market share of chips production would mean basically quadrupling the industry’s efforts.
  • The plan also hopes to limit the bloc’s dependence on Asia for semiconductor which is a key component used in electric cars and smartphones.
  • Significance: The production of chips has become a strategic priority in Europe as well as the United States, after the shock of the pandemic choked off supply, bringing factories to a standstill and emptying stores of products.
  • The manufacturing of semiconductors overwhelmingly takes place in Taiwan, China and South Korea.

Do You Know?

  • It is estimated that the semiconductor industry is growing fast and can reach $1 trillion dollar in this decade. India can grow fast and reach $64 billion by 2026 from $27 billion today. 
  • Mobiles, wearables, IT and industrial components are the leading segments in the Indian semiconductor industry contributing around 80% of the revenues in 2021. The mobile and wearables segment is valued at $13.8 billion and is expected to reach $31.5 billion in 2026

News Source: TH


United Nations World Food Program.

Part of: Prelims and GS-II Health; International Relations

Context: According to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), Drought conditions have left an estimated 13 million people facing severe hunger in the Horn of Africa.

  • The Horn of Africa consists of the internationally recognized countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia, as well as the de facto country of Somaliland

Key takeaways 

  • People in a region including Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya face the driest conditions recorded since 1981.
  • Drought conditions are affecting pastoral and farming communities. Malnutrition rates are high in the region.
  • WFP said it needs $327 million to look after the urgent needs of 4.5 million people over the next six months.

United Nations World Food Program (WFP)

  • The World Food Programme is the food-assistance branch of the United Nations. 
  • It is the world’s largest humanitarian organization focused on hunger and food security, and the largest provider of school meals. 
  • Founded in 1961.
  • It is headquartered in Rome

News Source: TH


Sustainable Access to Markets and Resources for Innovative Delivery of Healthcare (SAMRIDH)

Part of: Prelims and GS-II International Relations

Context: The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a new partnership under the Sustainable Access to Markets and Resources for Innovative Delivery of Healthcare (SAMRIDH) initiative.

  • Aim: 
    • To improve access to affordable and quality healthcare for vulnerable populations in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, and rural and tribal regions.
    • to combine public and philanthropic funds with commercial capital to create and rapidly scale market-based health solutions.
  • SAMRIDH’s efforts will help reach vulnerable populations, leveraging AIM’s expertise in innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • The collaboration would focus on innovations across the healthcare landscape with the common goal to mount an effective response to the ongoing third wave of COVID-19 and build health system preparedness for future infectious disease outbreaks and health emergencies.

News Source: TH


(News from PIB)


National Single Window System (NSWS)

Part of: GS- Prelims and Mains GS-II- Governance

Context: Jammu & Kashmir became the first Union Territory to be onboarded the National Single Window System (NSWS). This marks a major leap in Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) in the Union Territory. 

  • NSWS is linked with India Industrial Land Bank (IILB) which hosts 45 industrial parks of J&K. This will help Investors to discover available land parcels in J&K. 

About NSWS

  • The NSWS, a 2020 budgetary announcement of the Government of India, is a digital platform that serves as a guide for investors to identify and to apply for approvals as per their business requirements. The platform was soft launched in September 2021.
  • NSWS will eliminate the need for investors to visit multiple platforms/offices to gather information and obtain clearances from different stakeholders.
  • Twenty Ministries / Departments have been integrated on NSWS including Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare amongst others. Currently 142 central approvals can be applied through the NSWS portal. 
  • 14 States/UTs have onboarded on NSWS.
  • The Know Your Approval (KYA) module on NSWS guides investors to identify approvals required for their business based on a dynamic intuitive questionnaire. Currently, the module hosts more than 3,000 approvals across Centre & States. 

IDEA Database

Part of: GS- Prelims and Mains GS-II- E-Governance

Context: Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has commenced the work for creating various agricultural services built around a core layer of Farmers’ Database (Agristack) in the country. 

  • In order to create Agristack, Union Government is in the process of finalising the “India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture (IDEA)” which lays down a framework for building Agristacks. 
  • This Ecosystem shall help the Government in effective planning towards increasing the income of farmers in particular and improving the efficiency of the Agriculture sector, as a whole. 
  • As a first step, in this direction, the Government has already initiated building federated farmers’ database that would serve as the core of the envisaged Agristack. 
  • The federated farmers’ database is being built by taking the publicly available data as existing in the Department and in various data silos in Government and linking them with the digitised land records. 
  • The issue of data protection / data privacy etc. in the Agristack are being deliberated and hence, as of now, no decision has been taken regarding the mandatory enrolment of farmers in the Database.
  • At present, proposed farmers’ database will include the farmers registered under the PM-Kisan Scheme. 

E-PANCHAYAT FACILITY

Part of: GS- Prelims and Mains GS-II- Polity

Context: Under Digital India Programme, Ministry of Panchayati Raj  is implementing e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project (MMP) with the aim to transform the functioning of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs). 

  • Under e-Panchayat MMP, Ministry of Panchayati Raj launched eGramSwaraj, a simplified work-based accounting application to addresses various aspects of Panchayat functioning viz. planning, budgeting, accounting and online payments.
  • As on 2 February 2022, 2.55 lakh Gram Panchayat (GP), 5390 Block Panchayat and 481 ZillaPanchayats have prepared and uploaded their Development Plans for 2021-22on eGramSwaraj application. 
  • Further, 2.19 lakh GPs have taken necessary steps for carrying out payments through Public Finance Management System (PFMS).

About BharatNet 

  • BharatNet project is being implemented in a phased manner by Department of Telecommunications to provide broadband connectivity to all the Gram Panchayats and equivalent in the country. 
  • As on 17.01.2022, total 1,70,136 GPs have been made Service Ready under the BharatNet project in the country. 
  • The scope of BharatNet on 30.06.2021 has been extended to all inhabited villages beyond GPs in the country. 

(Mains Focus)


SOCIETY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-1: Population & its issues 

Declining Birth Rate and need for Change

Context: The country’s fertility rate has already fallen below the replacement level, 2, according to the latest data from the National Family Health Survey.

  • The ongoing shock and uncertainty caused by the pandemic will likely drive down birth rates even further. 
  • Decreased fertility has many rewards, but this demographic achievement might come with a price that has profound implications for India’s health, fiscal and gender policies.

What are the concerns with low birthrates?

  • Shrinking Youth Population: With a lower number of births, the youth population will keep shrinking. As the size of the youth population falls, the number of older adults will surpass the young.
  • Increasing Dependence Ratio: Dependency ratio is measured as the number of people aged 65 and up compared to the population aged 15-64. It has moved from 5.4 in 1960 to 9.8 in 2020 and will increase to more than 20.3 in 2050.
  • Job Squeeze: Demand for work within the older adult population will grow and may result in delayed retirement, leading to a “job squeeze” in which the young and old alike compete for a limited number of jobs.
  • New Health challenges: With the increased number of older adults, the number of non-communicable diseases is already outgrowing infectious diseases. This demands a significant policy shift towards preventing and managing morbidities like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
  • Challenges with Health Insurance: Less than 1% of older adults have health insurance, and ageing-related morbidities are a grey area in terms of coverage. Most older adults depend on families and immediate relatives for healthcare. As family size shrinks due to declining births, such informal safety nets may not be a viable option in the near future.
  • Challenges on Food Security: Older adults are still at risk of food and nutrition insecurity, as their declining social and economic bargaining power often makes them dependent on social security. 6% of Indians over the age of 45 have experienced insufficient food in the household which is expected to grow in future.
  • Gender Issue: As the older portion of the population grow, the number of older adult women will be greater than the number of men. By 2050 women will make up 56% of India’s population at the age of 80. 
    • Due to the difference in life expectancy, more women will live as widows in the later stages of their lives. Historically, widowhood is closely linked to the social and economic insecurity in India. 
    • Older women will be less empowered, vulnerable to social insecurity and at greater risk of both chronic and acute health disorders 
  • Need for Reassessing Social Security Focus: India will need to reassess its social-security focus and make investments to provide the growing number of older adults with improved access to healthcare, income-security and social safety-nets.

Way Ahead

  • India needs to move simultaneously towards two goals: investing in today’s youth to build a healthy and empowered population in long run, and creating a more protected platform to provide immediate benefits for older adults.
  • By doing so, India can achieve “healthy ageing” and flatten the curve where disease, disability and disempowerment accumulate with age.
  • Promoting healthy investment behaviours among young workers will help in economic empowerment at a later age. 
  • Targeted behaviour-change communication for healthy life practices will enable the youth to grow healthier.
  • Replicating the model of ASHA workers, and creating a cadre of health outreach workers trained in first-line care of geriatrics will be helpful.
  • The negative cultural view of old age must come to an end. 
  • Government policies should converge around the goal of promoting active aging to keep older adults economically productive. Senior workforce participation can be an added advantage when older adults bring their experience and wisdom to the workplace to optimise youth energy.
  • Moving forward, the gendered approach to health care, food security and overall well-being must include a new dimension: old age. 
  • India must increase its old age pension share, which is currently 1% of the GDP.

Connecting the dots:


POLITY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure 

Governor’s role in approving a Bill

Context: The Tamil Nadu Assembly has once again adopted a Bill that was earlier returned by Governor R.N. Ravi. 

  • The Bill seeks to grant exemption from the mandatory National Entrance-cum-Eligibility Test (NEET) for seats allotted by the Government in undergraduate medical and dental courses in Tamil Nadu. 
  • Recently, the Governor returned the Bill, contending that it was against the interests of rural and poor students.

What comes next?

  • Under Article 200, the Governor may 
    • (a) grant assent 
    • (b) withhold assent 
    • (c) return for reconsideration by the Legislature or 
    • (d) reserve for the consideration of the President any Bill passed by the State legislature and presented to him for assent.
  • There is no timeframe fixed in the Constitution for any of these functions. 
  • If the State legislature reconsiders the bill and passes it again, with or without changes, and presented for assent, “the Governor shall not withhold assent therefrom”.
  • The Constitution makes it mandatory that the Governor should reserve for the President’s consideration if, in his opinion (discretionary power) any Bill that seems to clip the wings of the High Court or undermine its functioning.
  • In the present case, the Bill will have to be sent to the President for his assent, as it is enacted under an entry in the Concurrent List on a subject that is covered by a central law. There is no doubt that the Governor will now have to grant his assent to the Bill. 
  • NEET is mandatory under Section 10D of the Indian Medical Council of India Act, an amendment introduced in 2016. Therefore, the State law can be in force only if the President grants his assent. This will cure the ‘repugnancy’ between the central and State laws.

What happens when the President considers the Bill?

  • Once again, there is no timeframe. 
  • Article 201 says when a Bill is reserved by a Governor for his consideration, “the President shall declare either that he assents to the Bill, or that he withholds assent therefrom”. He may also direct the Governor to return the Bill, if it is not a Money Bill, to the Legislature along with a message. 
  • State Legislature will have to reconsider the Bill within a period of six months from receiving it. It may pass the Bill again with or without any change. 
  • The Bill shall again be presented to the President for his consideration. The article ends with that. This means that the Bill will become law if the assent is given, but nothing can be done if the Bill is denied assent by the President or if he makes no decision.

Does the Governor have any discretion in this regard?

  • Section 75 of the Government of India Act, 1935, contained the words ‘in his discretion’ while referring to the Governor’s grant of assent to Bills. The phrase was consciously omitted when Article 175 in the draft Constitution (later renumbered as the present Article 200) was enacted. 
  • It is generally agreed that the Governor, who normally functions on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, is bound to go by the advice in the matter of granting assent. 
  • Also, a reading of the Constituent Assembly debates shows that framers of the Constitution intended that Governor should act on ministerial advice even when withholding assent and returning a Bill for reconsideration. Such a situation may arise when a bill has been hastily adopted or that it requires changes
    • In such a situation, the Constitution must provide for the possibility that the Council may want to recall its Bill, and accordingly advise the Governor to return it.
  • Sarkaria Commission notes that there could be occasions for even withholding assent on the advice of the Ministers. For instance, if after a Bill is passed the Ministers resign before the Bill gets the Governor’s assent, the new Ministry may not want to go ahead with the Bill and might advise against assent being given. 
  • These examples suggest that no discretion was ever envisaged for the Governor in dealing with Bills.

Connecting the dots:


(Down to Earth: Health)


Jan 20: Ineffective magic bullets: Antibiotic resistance is now the leading cause of deaths across the globe – https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/health/ineffective-magic-bullets-antibiotic-resistance-is-now-the-leading-cause-of-deaths-across-the-globe-81213 

TOPIC:

  • GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Ineffective magic bullets: Antibiotic resistance is now the leading cause of deaths across the globe

Context: The phenomenon by which bacteria and fungi evolve and become resistant to presently available medical treatment is known as anti-microbial resistance. It is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. The term antimicrobial is used for medicines targeting living microbes

  • Includes antibiotics for bacterial infections, anti-virals for viral infections, antifungals for fungal infections, and anti-parasitics for infections caused by parasites.
  • The term broadly defines how medicines that worked efficiently earlier are unable to destroy microbes causing the disease.

Typically, a pathogen can take two routes to antibiotic resistance:

  • A pathogen’s own genes can mutate spontaneously to help fight the drug. Mutations take time to spread through a bacterial population.
  • Horizontal gene transfer- is for the bug to borrow resistance genes from its neighbours.

Scientists believe that many human pathogens today picked up their resistance genes from the environment.

Key Numbers

  • Untreatable infections caused at least 1.27 million deaths per year across the globe
  • The toll is higher than that for HIV/AIDS or malaria
  • There were an estimated 4.95 million deaths associated with bacterial AMR in 2019. Out of these, 1.27 million deaths were directly attributable to AMR.
  • Young children were found to be particularly affected by AMR, although every population group is at risk. In 2019, one in five deaths attributable to AMR occurred in children under the age of five.

Concerns

  • Undoes Medical Progress: AMR represents an existential threat to modern medicine. AMR is a slow tsunami that threatens to undo a century of medical progress. 
  • Increased Mortality: AMR is already responsible for up to 7,00,000 deaths a year. Neonatal and maternal mortality will increase due to AMR.
  • Economic Loss: Unless urgent measures are taken to address this threat, we could soon face an unprecedented health and economic crisis of 10 million annual deaths and costs of up to $100 trillion by 2050.
  • Increased Vulnerability to infections: Without functional antimicrobials to treat bacterial and fungal infections, even the most common surgical procedures, as well as cancer chemotherapy, will become fraught with risk from untreatable infections. 
  • Disproportionate Burden on Poor Economies: The low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) of Asia and Africa are at severe risk of being overrun by untreatable infectious diseases.
  • The pediatric population is vulnerable to respiratory and diarrhea infections owing to a weaker immunity compared to the older population. 
  • A majority of these infections are caused by viruses that cause fever, running nose, cough and watery diarrhea.
  • Viral infections are usually self-limiting and require only medicines to relieve symptoms; paracetamol, for example, brings down the fever. A saline nose drop relieves a blocked nose.
  • Antibiotics that are meant to treat bacterial infections have no effect on viruses. And yet, antibiotics are widely misused.
  • Children often receive multiple courses of antibiotics every year since viral infections are recurrent. This problem is further precipitated in children who have hypersensitive airways that make them cough whenever there is a change in climatic conditions or pollution levels. These conditions are often mistaken as bacterial pneumonia and are treated unnecessarily with antibiotics.

Reasons

  • Natural process catalyzed: Microorganisms develop resistance to antimicrobial agents as a natural defence mechanism. But, human activity has significantly accelerated the process.
  • Misuse of Antibodies: The misuse and overuse of antimicrobials for humans, livestock and agriculture is probably the biggest reason for this, but other factors also contribute. COVID-19 has increased awareness of infections and control measures such as hand washing and surveillance. But increased hospitalisations have raised fears that AMR will worsen due to increased use of antibiotics by patients.
  • Waste releases:  Once consumed, up to 80% of antibiotic drugs are excreted un-metabolised, along with resistant bacteria. Also, they are release in effluents from households and health and pharmaceutical facilities, and agricultural run-off, is propagating resistant microorganisms. 
  • Ineffective Wastewater treatment: An analysis of single wastewater discharge from a treatment facility in India catering to drug manufacturers found concentrations of antibiotics high enough to treat over 40,000 people daily. Thus, Wastewater treatment facilities are unable to remove all antibiotics and resistant bacteria.
  • Pollution: Research points to the role of environment and pollution in AMR. 
  • Other reasons: Water, then, may be a major mode for the spread of AMR, especially in places with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene. Wildlife that comes into contact with discharge containing antimicrobials can also become colonised with drug-resistant organisms.

Way Ahead

India is severely affected by anti-microbial resistance and this has increased the burden of diseases. It is important for the government to initiate several measures from creating awareness to policies that shall be instrumental to address the same.

  • Comprehensive Surveillance Framework: To track the spread of resistance in microbes, surveillance measures to identify these organisms need to expand beyond hospitals and encompass livestock, wastewater and farm run-offs. 
  • Sustained Investments: Finally, since microbes will inevitably continue to evolve and become resistant even to new antimicrobials, we need sustained investments and global coordination to detect and combat new resistant strains on an ongoing basis.
  • Managing Pharmaceutical Waste: Given the critical role of manufacturing and environmental contamination in spreading AMR through pharmaceutical waste, there is a need to look into measures to curb the amount of active antibiotics released in pharmaceutical waste.
  • Controlled Prescription & Consumer Awareness: Efforts to control prescription through provider incentives should be accompanied by efforts to educate consumers to reduce inappropriate demand.
  • Multi-sectoral Coordination: AMR must no longer be the remit solely of the health sector, but needs engagement from a wide range of stakeholders, representing agriculture, trade and the environment. Solutions in clinical medicine must be integrated with improved surveillance of AMR in agriculture, animal health and the environment. 
  • Public awareness about the need for judicious use of antimicrobials needs to be ramped up. This would help physicians to not resort to antimicrobials just for satisfying the health seeker.
  • Better and rapid diagnostic facilities: The availability of rapid diagnostic tests such as rapid malarial antigen test, Dengue NS1 Antigen test, etc., has revolutionised the time taken to confirm a clinical diagnosis and give appropriate treatment.

The country needs stringent regulations to avoid irrational antibiotic combinations as well as over-the-counter availability of antibiotics. Vaccination plays an important role in preventing bacterial diseases such as pneumonia, typhoid, diphtheria, meningitis, whooping cough, etc.  

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. Elaborate on the criticality of antimicrobial resistance in India. How does it affect the socio economic set up of India?
  2. A bigger challenge lies in checking irrational use of antimicrobials for common viral illnesses that a majority of children suffer from. Discuss. 

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding United Nations World Food Program (WFP):

  1. It is the world’s largest humanitarian organization focused on hunger and food security, and the largest provider of school meals. 
  2. It is headquartered in Rome

Which of the above is or are correct? 

  1. 1 only 
  2. 2 only 
  3. Both 1 and 2 
  4. Neither 1 nor 2 

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Aadhar: 

  1. Aadhaar number is a 12-digit random number issued by the NITI Aayog.
  2. Enrolment in Aadhar is compulsory for every citizen of India 

Which of the above is or are correct? 

  1. 1 only 
  2. 2 only 
  3. Both 1 and 2 
  4. Neither 1 nor 2 

Q.3 Sustainable Access to Markets and Resources for Innovative Delivery of Healthcare (SAMRIDH) initiative was developed by Which of the following? 

  1. NITI Aayog
  2. Atal Innovation Mission (AIM)
  3. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) 
  4. All of the above

ANSWERS FOR 8th Feb 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 D
3 D

Must Read

On boosting agri-spending:

The Hindu 

On Tax incentives for philanthropy:

The Hindu 

On need for regulating Opinion Polls:

Indian Express

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