19 July, 2019

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Threat of Ebola

GS-II Paper: Threat of Ebola


The health emergency declared by the WHO can counter the risk of a global


  • After holding itself back on the three occasions the World Health Organizations has declared the Ebola virus disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
  • The announcement of the health emergency comes amid renewed concerns that the virus could spread to other countries.
  • A single imported case of Ebola in Goma, a city in Congo with two million people and with an international airport bordering Rwanda, served as a trigger to finally declare a global emergency.
  • Surprisingly, the spread to neighbouring Uganda last month did not seem to change the way the WHO assessed the situation.

Even when a handful of Ebola cases were confirmed in Uganda, all the infected people had travelled from Congo and there had been no local transmission or spread within Uganda — one of the criteria used by the WHO to assess if an outbreak is a global emergency.

Previous Cases

  • This is the fifth time that the WHO has declared a global emergency. The earlier occasions were in February 2016 for Zika outbreaks in the Americas, August 2014 for Ebola outbreaks in western Africa, the spread of polio in May 2014, and the H1N1 pandemic in April 2009.
  • Declaring an event as a global emergency is meant to stop the spread of the pathogen to other countries and to ensure a coordinated international response.

Shortage of Vaccine

  • Owing to vaccine shortage, the WHO’s expert group on immunisation has recommended reducing the individual dose to meet the demand.
  • What is equally important is for the G7 countries to fulfil their promise to the WHO to contain the spread.

Source: The Hindu

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Indian Forest Act Amendment

GS-III: Indian Forest Act Amendment

Across India, activists for tribal rights have said the proposed Indian forest act amendments will divest tribals and other forest-dwelling communities of their rights over forest land and resources.

Highlights of the amendments:

  • The amendment defines community as “a group of persons specified on the basis of government records living in a specific locality and in joint possession and enjoyment of common property resources, without regard to race, religion, caste, language and culture”.
  • Forest is defined to include “any government or private or institutional land recorded or notified as forest land in any government record and the lands managed by government/community as forest and mangroves, and also any land which the central or state government may by notification declare to be forest for the purpose of this Act.”
  • The amendment also introduces a new category of forests — production forest. These will be forests with specific objectives for production of timber, pulp, pulpwood, firewood, non-timber forest produce, medicinal plants or any forest species to increase production in the country for a specified period.

Indian Forest Act, 1927:

  • The Indian Forest Act, 1927 was largely based on previous Indian Forest Acts implemented under the British. The most famous one was the Indian Forest Act of 1878.
  • Both the 1878 act and the 1927 one sought to consolidate and reserve the areas having forest cover, or significant wildlife, to regulate movement and transit of forest produce, and duty leviable on timber and other forest produce.
  • It also defines the procedure to be followed for declaring an area to be a Reserved Forest, a Protected Forest or a Village Forest.
  • It defines what a forest offence is, what are the acts prohibited inside a Reserved Forest, and penalties leviable on violation of the provisions of the Act.

Concerns with regard to the present Draft Bill:

  1. The draft Bill reinforces the idea of bureaucratic control of forests, providing immunity for actions such as use of firearms by personnel to prevent an offence.
  2. The hard-line policing approach is reflected in the emphasis on creating infrastructure to detain and transport the accused.
  3. To penalise entire communities through denial of access to forests for offences by individuals. Such provisions invariably affect poor inhabitants, and run counter to the empowering and egalitarian goals that produced the Forest Rights Act.
  4. The exclusion of ‘village forestry’ from the preview of Forest Right Act (forest official supersedes Gram Sabha) is legally contradictory and would add confusion on the ground.

Source: The Hindu

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