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27 April, 2020

72 Min Read

GS-I : Modern History
Lord Basaveshwara

Context:

  • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi paid homage to Lord Basaveshwara and greeted the people on the occasion of Basava Jayanthi, the Birth anniversary of Lord Basaveshwara, in a video message on 26th April,2020. 
  • Basava Jayanthi is an annual event celebrated in the honour of the birth of Vishwaguru Basaveshwara, the 12th century philosopher and social reformer. 
  • Global Basava Jayanthi – 2020 is being held digitally today, connecting followers in India and abroad.

 Lord Basaveshwara

  • Lord Basaveshwara is a 12th Century Kannada social reformer, poet and philosopher, who is considered as one of the most revered saints by the Lingayat sect. Reports suggest he was born in 1131 AD in Bagevadi (now in Bijapur, Karnataka) to a Brahmin family.
  • Basaveshwara believed in caste, creed, class, gender equality.
  • Lord Basaveshwara, or Basavanna, worked towards uplifting the underprivileged classes and women, and believed that all humans are equal, irrespective of class, caste, creed, and gender.
  • It is said he denounced the sacred janeu thread- worn by upper-caste Hindus, particularly Brahmins- at a young age in hopes to transform himself and achieve spiritual bliss.
  • Basaveshwara spread his teachings through poetry (Vachanaas).
  • He denounced superstitions and rituals, introducing an Ishta linga necklace, bearing a shiva-linga image, to mark equality.
  • He also introduced a hall of spiritual acceptance, Anubhava Mantapa, where people of all origins could ask spiritual and mundane questions of life.
  • Basaveshwara popularized the principles of Kayakave Kailasa (work is worship) and Dasoha (giving back to society).
  • Basaveshwara statue is on the bank of river Thames in London, United Kingdom.

Source: PIB

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GS-I : Human Geography
Great Barrier Reef suffers third major bleaching event

Great Barrier Reef suffers third major bleaching event

Part of: GS-III- Environment and Coral reefs (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem located in Australia, recently experienced its third major bleaching event in five years.

  1. It is considered to be the most widespread coral bleaching event on record, owing to the rise in temperatures due to climate change.
  2. The Great Barrier Reef contains the world’s largest collection of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of molluscs.
  3. No other World Heritage property contains such biodiversity.
  4. It has suffered several mass bleaching events in the past due to warmer than normal ocean temperatures. Researchers are constantly experimenting with new ways to save the Great Barrier Reef.

About coral reef

Coral reefs are among the world’s most diverse ecosystems, with more than 800 species of corals providing habitat and shelter for approximately 25% of global marine life. Coral reefs are also extremely beneficial to humans: They protect coastlines from tropical storms, provide food and income for 1 billion people, and generate $9.6 billion in tourism and recreation each year. But according to the United Nations Environment Programme, coral reefs are endangered and rapidly degrading due to overfishing, bottom trawling, warming temperatures and unsustainable coastal development.

Also, the abundance and diversity of fish serve as an important indicator of overall reef health

 

Growth conditions for Coral Reefs

  1. The temperature of the water should not be below 20°C. The most favourable temperature for the growth of the coral reefs is between 23°C to 25°C. The temperature should not exceed 35°C.
  2. Corals can survive only under saline conditions with an average salinity between 27% to 40%.
  3. Coral reefs grow better in shallow water having a depth less than 50 m. The depth of the water should not exceed 200m.

 

Types of Coral Reefs

Coral Reefs are differentiated into three categories based on their shape, nature and mode of occurrence.

  1. Fringing Reef: The coral reefs that are found very close to the land and form a shallow lagoon known as Boat Channel are called Fringing Coral Reefs. The Fringing Reefs develop along the islands and the continental margins. They grow from the deep bottom of the sea and have their seaward side sloping steeply into the deep sea. Fringing Reefs are the most commonly found coral reefs among the three. For example Sakau Island in New Hebrides, South Florida Reef.
  2. Barrier Reef: Barrier Reefs are considered as the largest, highest and widest reefs among the three coral reefs. They develop off the coast and parallel to the shore as a broken and irregular ring. Being the largest reef among the all, they run for 100kms and is several kilometres wide. One example of Barrier Reef is the Great Barrier Reef of Australia which is 1200 mile long.
  3. Atolls: An atoll can be defined as a reef that is roughly circular and surrounds a large central lagoon. This lagoon is mostly deep having a depth of 80-150 metres. The atolls are situated away from the deep sea platforms and are found around an island or on a submarine platform in an elliptical form. For example Fiji Atolls, Suvadivo in Maldives and Funafoothis Atoll of Ellice.

 

Coral Reefs in India

India has its coastline extending over 7500 kilometres. It is due to the subtropical climatic conditions, there are a very few coral reefs in India. The major coral reefs in India include the Palk Bay, the Gulf of Mannar, the Gulf of Kutch, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep Islands. Among all these coral reefs, the Lakshadweep reef is an example of atoll while the rest are all fringing reefs.

Palk Bay

Situated in the south-east coast of India, Palk Bay is separated from the Gulf of Mannar by the Mandapam Peninsula and the Rameshwaram Island and is centered on 9 °17’N and 79° 15′. The one fringing reef in the Palk Bay is 25-30km long, and less than 200m wide lies in the east-west direction of the Pamban channel. This reef has a maximum depth of around 3 m.

The Gulf of Mannar

Situated around a chain of 21 islands, the Gulf of Mannar lies between Tuticorin and Rameswaram at a stretch of 140 km. These 21 islands fall between latitude 8°47′ N and 9° 15′ N and longitude 78° 12′ E and 79° 14’E and form a part of the Mannar Barrier Reef which is 140 km long and 25 km wide.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands fall between 6°-14° N lat and 91 °-94° E longitude. They are situated at the south-eastern part of the Bay of Bengal and consist of 350 islands, of which only 38 are inhabited. These islands extend southward from the Irrawaddy Delta of Burma to the Arakan Yoma Range. All the islands of the Andaman and Nicobar groups are almost fringing reefs.

The Gulf of Kutch

The Gulf of Kutch is situated in the northern part of Saurashtra Peninsula and is located between 22°15′-23°40′ N Latitude and 68°20′-70°40′ East Longitude having an area of about 7350 sq km. These reefs are of fringing type and are about 170 km long and 75 km wide at the mouth which narrows down at a longitude of 72° 20′. Due to the mud deposits on various coral reefs, these coral reefs are in a highly degraded condition.

Lakshadweep Islands

Located between 8°N – 12°3’N latitude and 71 °E- 74°E longitude, the Lakshadweep Islands which lies scattered in the Arabian Sea are situated at about 225 km to 450 km from the Kerala Coast. The islands covering an area of 32 km2 consist of 36 tiny islands, 12 atolls, 3 reefs and 5 submerged banks, with lagoons occupying about 4200 km2.

Due to the warm humid climate of these islands, the temperature of the water varies between 28-31 °C with salinity ranging from 34% – 37%.

 

Coral Bleaching

The United Nations has reported that:

    • 70% of the Earth's coral reefs are threatened,
    • 20% have been destroyed with no hope for recovery,
    • 24% are under imminent risk of collapse, and
    • an additional 26% are at risk due to longer-term threats.

According to a recent report, if stern measures to bring down the greenhouse gas emission levels are not adopted urgently, then Australia’s Great Barrier Reef might be in danger of coral bleaching as frequently as every two years by 2034. Large scale coral bleaching in 2016 destroyed thousands of square kilometres of the Great Barrier Reef.

Hawaii became the first U.S. state to put curbs on the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can cause coral bleaching.

What is Coral Bleaching?

  • When corals face stress by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients, they expel the symbiotic algae zooxanthellae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white. This phenomenon is called coral bleaching.
  • The pale white colour is of the translucent tissues of calcium carbonate which are visible due to the loss of pigment producing zooxanthellae.
  • Corals can recover if the stress-caused bleaching is not severe.
  • Coral bleaching has occurred in the Caribbean, Indian, and Pacific oceans on a regular basis.

Causes of Coral Bleaching?

  • Rise in Sea Temperature: Most coral species live in waters close to the warmest temperature they can tolerate i.e., a slight increase in ocean temperature can harm corals. El Nino elevates the sea temperature and destroys coral reefs.
  • Ocean Acidification: Due to rise in carbon dioxide levels, oceans absorb more carbon dioxide. This increases the acidity of ocean water and inhibits the corals ability to create calcareous skeletons, which is essential for their survival.
  • Solar radiation and ultraviolet radiation: Changes in tropical weather patterns result in less cloud cover and more radiations which induce coral bleaching.
  • Infectious Diseases: Penetration of bacterium like vibrio shiloi inhibits photosynthesis of zooxanthellae. These bacteria become more potent with elevated sea temperatures.
  • Chemical Pollution: Increased nutrient concentrations affect corals by promoting phytoplankton growth, which in turn supports increased numbers of organisms that compete with coral for space.
  • Increased Sedimentation: Land clearing and coastal construction result in high rates of erosion and a higher density of suspended silt particles which can
    • smother corals when particles settle out (sedimentation),
    • reducing light availability (turbidity) and
    • potentially reducing coral photosynthesis and growth.
  • Human Induced Threats: Over-fishing, pollution from agricultural and industrial runoff, coral mining, development of industrial areas near coral ecosystems also adversely impact corals.

Consequences

  • Changes in coral communities can affect the species that depend on them, such as the fish and invertebrates that rely on live coral for food, shelter. Loss of such marine animals can disturb the entire food chain.
  • Declines in genetic and species diversity may occur when corals die as a result of bleaching.
  • Healthy coral reefs attract divers and other tourists. Bleached and degraded reefs can discourage tourism, which can affect the local economy.
  • Coral bleaching can cause large shifts in fish communities. This can translate into reduced catches for fishers, which in turn impacts food supply and associated economic activities.
  • Coral reefs protect coastlines by absorbing constant wave energy from the ocean, thereby protecting people living near the coast from increased storm damage, erosion and flooding.

Way Forward

  • Solutions for protecting the future for coral must transcend social, economic and cultural boundaries.
  • Halting unplanned coastal development would play a significant role in reversing the decline of reefs in some locations.
  • Promoting sustainable fishing and providing opportunities for ecotourism can help conserve corals.
  • There is a need to minimise the use of chemically enhanced fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides which are non degradable and harm corals.
  • Harmful industrial waste must be treated before being disposed of in bodies of water.
  • Water pollution should be avoided wherever possible by not dumping chemicals or oils in water bodies.
  • Taking all possible measures to prevent actions that worsen global warming since Climate change is the greatest global threat to coral reef ecosystems.

Source: TH/AIR

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GS-II : International treaties and conventions Nuclear disarmament
Nuclear Arm Race-Compliance Report and Nuclear treaties  

Nuclear Arm Race-Compliance Report and Nuclear treaties  

Part of: GS-II- International treaties (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

In News: 2020 Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Compliance ReportThe Trump Administration just released its “Executive Summary of Findings on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments,” also known as the Compliance Report. As directed by Congress, the Department of State is required to provide an annual report on “the status of United States policy and actions with respect to arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament.” An unclassified report (with classified annexes, as necessary) must be submitted to Congress by April 15 each year. The full report has reportedly been delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The 2020 Executive Summary of the Compliance Report includes a number of assessments and significant concerns and charges that were not present in the 2019 Compliance Report. In addition to new language describing the termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, there is language expressing stronger concern over whether China, Iran, and Russia are now, or have previously been in violation of their obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention. The summary also makes several new assessments about compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Certain language describing China’s nuclear weapons testing program requires immediate clarification for the confusion it has generated. Contrary to some news reports published in the hours immediately following the document’s public release, the United States did not conclude that China has conducted covert or yield-producing nuclear tests during 2019, nor did it conclude that China is in non-compliance with any of its commitments regarding nuclear weapons testing. Rather, the Executive Summary cites several additional activities that “raised concerns regarding [China’s] adherence to the ‘zero yield’ standard adhered to by the United States.” Both Russia and China have already denied the charges leveled in the report regarding low-yield testing and made counter-accusations about the U.S. testing program.

In this summary, the United States also certified that Russia is in compliance with its obligations under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START or NST) which is set to expire on February 5, 2021. This agreement may be extended for up to five years upon presidential agreement, but the Trump Administration continues to say it is reviewing a possible extension.

 

PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA (CHINA)

China maintained a high level of activity at its Lop Nur nuclear weapons test site throughout 2019. China’s possible preparation to operate its Lop Nur test site year-round, its use of explosive containment chambers, extensive excavation activities at Lop Nur, and lack of transparency on its nuclear testing activities – which has included frequently blocking the flow of data from its International Monitoring System (IMS) stations to the International Data Center operated by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization – raise concerns regarding its adherence to the “zero yield” standard adhered to by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France in their respective nuclear weapons testing moratoria.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION (RUSSIA)

The United States finds that Russia has conducted nuclear weapons experiments that have created nuclear yield and are not consistent with the U.S. “zero-yield” standard. The United States does not know how many, if any, supercritical or self-sustaining nuclear experiments Russia conducted in 2019. Despite Russia renewing its nuclear testing moratorium in 1996, some of its activities since 1996 have demonstrated a failure to adhere to the U.S. “zero-yield” standard, which would prohibit supercritical tests.

Iran

In November 2019, the Acting IAEA Director General (DG) reported the detection by IAEA inspectors of particles of chemically processed uranium at an undeclared location in Iran, and noted that this indicates the possibility of undeclared nuclear material in Iran. The IAEA continues to engage Iran regarding an explanation for the presence of these uranium particles that is consistent with the IAEA’s technical analysis. Iran’s intentional failure to declare nuclear material subject to IAEA safeguards would constitute a clear violation of Iran’s CSA required by the NPT, and would constitute a violation of Article III of the NPT itself. Until Iran provides a full and complete explanation for the presence of this man-made uranium, the IAEA’s safeguards -7- concerns are a matter of current proliferation concern. (Following the reporting period, additional concerns arose with regard to Iran’s compliance with its safeguards obligations and commitments. In March 2020, the IAEA DG reported that Iran had failed to provide inspector access at two locations not declared by Iran, and did not substantively respond to the IAEA’s requests for clarification regarding possible undeclared nuclear material or activities at those locations and a third, unspecified location.) During the reporting period, Iran progressively expanded its uranium enrichment activities and stockpile of enriched uranium, key factors in determining the amount of time required to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon or device, should Iran decide to pursue nuclear weapons. If Iran were to manufacture or otherwise acquire a nuclear weapon, such actions would violate its obligations under Article II of the NPT.

 

U.S. COMPLIANCE In 2019

The United States continued to be in compliance with all of its obligations under arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament agreements. When other countries have formally raised a compliance concern regarding U.S. implementation activities, the United States has carefully reviewed the matter to confirm its actions were in compliance with its obligations under the following instruments:

a) Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention or BWC);

b) Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention or CWC);

c) Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces or INF Treaty);

d) Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Limitation of Underground Nuclear Weapon Tests (Threshold Test Ban Treaty or TTBT), Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist -4- Republics on Underground Nuclear Explosions for Peaceful Purposes (PNET), and Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water (Limited Test Ban Treaty or LTBT);

e) 1925 Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare;

f) Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE);

g) Treaty on Open Skies (OST);

h) Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT);

i) Treaty Between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START or NST); and

j) Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation Concerning the Management and Disposition of Plutonium Designated as No Longer Required for Defense Purposes and Related Cooperation, as amended (Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement or PMDA)

 

Nuclear Treaties

With the voluntarily increasing of Nuclear Weapons in the world, the threat and the irreparable damage of its use brought the consideration of world leaders into it. The leaders from the world have come forward to bring various treaties to curb its proliferation and future use. The IAEA promotes adherence to and implementation of International legal instrument on Nuclear Safety adopted under its auspices. This includes the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, as well as the two emergency preparedness and response conventions. 

Convention on Nuclear Safety: 

• Adopted in Vienna, Austria on June 17 1994, and came into force on October 24, 1996, to commit participating states operating land based civil nuclear power plants to maintain a high level of safety by setting international benchmarks to which States would subscribe.

• The basis of the convention is Parties' common interests to achieve higher level of safety to be ensured through regular meetings.

• It obliges parties to submit reports on the implementation of their obligations for "peer review" at meetings that are normally held at IAEA Headquarters.

• As of July 2015, there are 78 state parties to the Convention plus the European Atomic Energy Community. The states that have signed the treaty but have not ratified it include Algeria, Cuba, Egypt, Ghana, Iceland, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Monaco, Morocco, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Philippines, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Uruguay.

• The Organizational Meeting for the Seventh Review Meeting was held on 15 October 2015. 

 

Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste management: 

• Adopted in Vienna on 5th September 1997 and came into force on 18th June 2001.

• It is the first legal instrument to address the issue of spent fuel and radioactive waste management safety on a global scale.

• The convention applies to spent fuel resulting from the operation of civilian applications. It also applies to spent fuel and radioactive waste from military or defence programmes if such materials are transferred permanently to and managed within exclusively civilian programmes, or when declared as spent fuel or radioactive waste for the purpose of the Convention by the Contracting Party concerned.

• The states that ratify the Convention agree to be governed by the Convention's provisions on the storage of nuclear waste, including transport and the location, design, and operation of storage facilities.

• The Convention implements meetings of the state parties that review the states' implementation of the Convention.

• Five review meetings were convened since the Joint Convention entered into force. The fifth review meeting of the Joint Convention was held in May 2015. 

 

Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT): 

• Adopted on June 12 1968 at UN, New York and came into force on March 5th 1970.

• The NPT aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to foster the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of disarmament.

• The Treaty establishes a safeguards system under the responsibility of the IAEA, which also plays a central role under the Treaty in areas of technology transfer for peaceful purposes.

• As of August 2016, 191 states have adhered to the treaty, though North Korea, which acceded in 1985 but never came into compliance, announced its withdrawal from the NPT in 2003, following detonation of nuclear devices in violation of core obligations.

• Four UN member states have never accepted the NPT, three of which are thought to possess nuclear weapons: India, Israel, and Pakistan. In addition, South Sudan, founded in 2011, has not joined. 

 

South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Rarotonga Treaty): 

• Opened for signature on August 6th 1985, came into force on Dec 11, 1986, a permanent nature treaty which will remain into force indefinitely.

• It was signed by the South Pacific nations of Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Western Samoa on the island of Rarotonga (where the capital of the Cook Islands is located).

• It formalises a Nuclear -Weapons Free Zone in the South Pacific. The treaty bans the use of testing and possession of Nuclear Weapons within the borders of the zone.

• There are three protocols to the treaty, which have been signed by the five declared nuclear states, with the exception of Protocol 1 for China and Russia who have no territory in the Zone. – no manufacture, stationing or testing in their territories within the Zone – no use against the Parties to the Treaty, or against territories where Protocol 1 is in force – no testing within the Zone

• In 1996 France and the United Kingdom signed and ratified the three protocols. The United States signed them the same year but has not ratified them. China signed and ratified protocols 2 and 3 in 1987. Russia has also ratified protocols 2 and 3 with reservations. 

 

Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (Treaty of Bangkok): 

• It is a Nuclear Weapons Moratorium Treaty between 10 South-east Asian Member states under the auspices of the ASEAN.

• It was opened for signature at the treaty conference in Bangkok, Thailand, on 15 December 1995 and it entered into force on March 28, 1997 and obliges its members not to develop, manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over nuclear weapons.

• The Zone is the area comprising the territories of the states and their respective continental shelves and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ); "Territory" means the land territory, internal waters, territorial sea, archipelagic waters, the seabed and the sub-soil thereof and the airspace above them.

• The treaty includes a protocol under which the five nuclear-weapon states recognized by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), namely China, the United States, France, Russia and the United Kingdom (who are also the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council) undertake to respect the Treaty and do not contribute to a violation of it by State parties. None of the nuclear-weapon states have signed this protocol. 

 

Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (PTBT): 

• Also known as the Limited Test Ban Treaty, banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water, which prohibits all test detonations of nuclear weapons except for those conducted underground.

• The PTBT was signed by the governments of the Soviet Union, United Kingdom, and United States in Moscow on 5 August 1963 before being opened for signature by other countries.

• The treaty formally went into effect on 10 October 1963. Since then, 123 other states have become party to the treaty. Ten states have signed but not ratified the treaty.

• Negotiations initially focused on a comprehensive ban, but this was abandoned due to technical questions surrounding the detection of underground tests and Soviet concerns over the intrusiveness of proposed verification methods. 

 

Conference on Disarmament (CD): 

• A forum established by the International Community to negotiate multilateral arms control and disarmament agreements.

• Established in 1979, it was the forum used by its member states, currently numbering 65, to negotiate the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

• It is not formally a United Nations (UN) Organization, but it is linked so because of the personal representation of UN Secretary General. Resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly often request the conference to consider specific disarmament matters. In turn, the conference annually reports its activities to the Assembly.

• The Conference succeeded the Ten-Nation Committee on Disarmament (1960), the Eighteen-Nation Committee on Disarmament (1962-68) and the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament (1969-78). • In the 1990s, the Conference held intensive efforts over three years to draft the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which was submitted by Australia to UNGA on Sep 10 1996. 

 

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty: 

• It is a multilateral treaty that bans all nuclear explosions, in all environments by everyone. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 September 1996 but has not entered into force as eight specific states have not ratified the treaty at the time of its adoption.

• As of August 2016, it has 183 signatories of which 166 have ratified it. 

• Obligations: – Each State Party undertakes not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion, and to prohibit and prevent any such nuclear explosion at any place under its jurisdiction or control. – Each State Party undertakes, furthermore, to refrain from causing, encouraging, or in any way participating in the carrying out of any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion. 

 

Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT): 

• A proposed international treaty to prohibit the further production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices. Neither this treaty has been negotiated nor have its terms been defined.

• Fissile Material is any material which can be used to create a Nuclear Bomb. It includes high enriched uranium and plutonium (except plutonium that is over 80% Pu-238).

• Plutonium-239 is the isotope most useful for nuclear weapons. Plutonium-239 and 241 are fissile, meaning the nuclei of their atoms can break apart by being bombarded by slow moving thermal neutrons, releasing energy, gamma radiation and more neutrons. 

 

Conclusion: The world has entered a new nuclear age. While the risk of large-scale, world-ending nuclear war has declined, regional instability, the proliferation of weapons and the materials to make them along with emerging threats like cyber and terrorism mean the risk of a single nuclear weapon or device being detonated - by accident, by miscalculation or on purpose - is on the rise. Our current nuclear policies have not adapted to today's security environment. This status quo is not sustainable, and the consequences of inaction are unacceptable. Unless we adapt our policies and forces to deal with new and emerging threats, global security will remain at serious risk.

 

LIST OF TREATIES

BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS

 

MULTILATERAL

The treaty prohibits the development, production, stockpiling, or acquisition of biological and toxin weapons, and mandates the elimination of existing weapons, weapons production material, and delivery means.

The Geneva Protocol prohibits the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous, or other gases, and of bacteriological methods of warfare. The Protocol provided the basis for the BTWC and CWC.

CHEMICAL WEAPONS

 

BILATERAL

The Agreement provides for the complete prohibition of chemical weapons in India and Pakistan, and requires both countries to make a commitment to not develop, possess or use chemical weapons.

MULTILATERAL

The CWC requires State Parties not to develop, produce, acquire, stockpile or retain, transfer, use, or make military preparations to use chemical weapons. It entered into force in 1997.

REGIONAL

The Mendoza Agreement, signed in 1991, was an agreement between Argentina, Brazil, and Chile which never entered into force. The Parties agreed not to develop, produce, acquire, stockpile or retain, transfer, or use chemical or biological weapons.

CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS

 

MULTILATERAL

The Arms Trade Treaty obligates Parties to regulate ammunition or munitions fired, launched, or delivered by enumerated conventional arms, including battle tanks, combat vehicles, missiles, missile launchers, and small arms. Parties must also regulate export of parts and components that may assemble these conventional arms.

The CFE Treaty established an agreement aimed at reducing the possibility for major offensive operations in Europe through the reduction of troops and armaments in Central Europe.

The Treaty on Open Skies is an international agreement in which States Parties are given authorization to conduct unarmed observation flights over the territories of other States Parties.

NUCLEAR SAFETY

 

MULTILATERAL

The Convention on Nuclear Safety is an incentive-based instrument that commits States operating nuclear power plants to establish and maintain a regulatory framework to govern the safety of nuclear installations.

The CPPNM is the only legally binding international agreement focusing on the physical protection of peaceful use nuclear materials.

The Joint Convention is the first international instrument to focus on minimizing the effects of hazardous radiological materials and promoting an effective nuclear safety culture.

NUCLEAR WEAPONS

 

BILATERAL

The Agreement obligates India and Pakistan to refrain from undertaking, encouraging, or participating in actions aimed at causing destruction or damage to nuclear installations or facilities in each country.

The Joint Declaration was a treaty in which South and North Korea agreed not to possess, produce, or use nuclear weapons, and prohibited uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing.

The Lahore Declaration was an agreement between India and Pakistan that called for both to reduce the risk of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons, among other confidence-building measures.

SALT refers to two rounds of talks between the US and the USSR on nuclear arms control. SALT I (1969-1972) led to the ABM Treaty.

SALT refers to two rounds of talks between the US and the USSR on nuclear arms control. SALT II lasted from 1972-1979.

The treaty mandates the United States and Russia to mutually decrease and limit strategic nuclear weapons, with each party reserving the right to determine the structure of its strategic offensive arms.

New START is an agreement for nuclear arms reduction between the United States and Russia, establishing a limit on deployed strategic warheads.

START I limited the number of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles and warheads. START II complemented START I by attempting to establish further limits on strategic nuclear weapons for each party.

START II complemented START I by attempting to establish further limits on strategic nuclear weapons for each party.

The INF Treaty is a bilateral agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was the first treaty to reduce nuclear arms instead of establishing an arms ceiling.

The PNE Treaty allows the United States and the USSR to conduct underground peaceful nuclear explosions at any location under their jurisdiction or control.

The ABM Treaty is an agreement between the United States and Soviet to cease construction of a national anti-ballistic missile system to limit the development and deployment of defensive missiles.

The Agreed Framework was an agreement between the United States and North Korea, which called for replacing a North Korean nuclear reactor in exchange for normalizing relations and other incentives.

MULTILATERAL

The CTBT prohibits nuclear weapon test explosions. It has not yet entered into force, since three of the 44 required states have yet to sign it and five to ratify it.

The Convention covers a broad range of acts and possible targets, including nuclear power plants and nuclear reactors. It criminalizes the planning, threatening, or carrying out acts of nuclear terrorism.

The PTBT requires parties to abstain from carrying out nuclear explosions in any environment where such explosions cause radioactive debris outside the limits of the State that conducts an explosion.

 

Source: TH/Web

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GS-II : International treaties and conventions Weapons of Mass Destruction
India’s Entry into NSG

India’s Entry into NSG

Part of: GS-II- International treaties (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

Recently the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) also known as P5 countries (China, France, Russia, Britain and the US) - have concluded their meetings to discuss issues related to nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

  • China has said that India must sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to gain entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
  • Earlier, after India applied for the NSG membership, Pakistan too applied for the same following which China, a close ally of Pakistan, called for a two-step approach which states that NSG members first need to arrive at a set of principles for the admission of non-NPT states into the group and then move forward discussions of specific cases.

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)

  • NSG is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports.
  • The NSG was set up as a response to India’s nuclear tests conducted in 1974.
  • The aim of the NSG is to ensure that nuclear trade for peaceful purposes does not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
  • The grouping has 48 participating governments and the European Commission acts as an Observer.
  • Since 2008, India has sought membership in the NSG. The same year, the NSG granted India a "clean waiver" from its existing rules, which forbids nuclear trade with a country which has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
  • The waiver paved the way for India to engage in nuclear trade and led to the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal. India has since signed civilian nuclear cooperation agreements with the U.S., U.K., France, Canada, Argentina, Australia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia,Namibia, and South Korea.
  • The drive for India's membership got a decisive boost when U.S declared support for India joining the quartet of multilateral export control regimes.
  • U.S proposed case for a country-specific rather than a criteria-based approach rested on the argument that India's nuclear record and commitment to non-proliferation norms qualified it as a "like minded country" to join the NSG.

NOTE: The four multilateral export control regimes are Wassenaar Arrangement (WA), Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Australia Group (AG) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). India is not a member of NSG only.

Impediments to India’s NSG bid                                 

  • NSG operates by consensus and all its current members are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  • China has relied on an obstructionist argument claiming that a “compulsory” requirement for NSG membership is that they must be signatories to the NPT.
  • China equates India with Pakistan — which has an established history of nuclear proliferation, further complicating the scenario.

Significance of NSG Membership for India

  • Membership of NSG will increase India’s access to state-of-the-art nuclear technology from members of the Group.
  • As per India’s commitment under the Paris climate agreement, it has to ensure that 40% of its energy is sourced from renewable and clean sources by 2030. In order to achieve this target, India needs to scale up nuclear power production. This can only happen if India gains access to NSG.
  • Some nations are restricted by regional treaties (For eg., Pelindaba Treaty) to provide access to nuclear fuel and technology to India. If India joins the NSG, such restrictions are expected to be done away with.

Pelindaba Treaty (African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty)

  • It establishes a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Africa.
  • The treaty was signed in 1996 and came into effect in July 2009.
  • It aims at preventing nuclear proliferation and preventing strategic minerals of Africa from being exported freely.
  • This treaty prohibits member parties to come into bilateral agreement with countries who are non signatories of NPT.
  • In 2016, Namibia criticized the Treaty of Pelindaba for disallowing Namibia to trade uranium to India because India is not a member of the NPT.

India and Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

  • The NPT is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to foster the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of disarmament.
  • It represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States.
  • Nuclear-weapon states parties under the NPT are defined as those that manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device before January 1, 1967.
  • India did not sign it as the treaty was discriminatory. India argued that treaties like NPT were selectively applicable to only non-nuclear powers and legitimized the monopoly of nuclear power by a few.
  • Consequently India conducted nuclear explosion test in May 1974, all along maintaining that it was committed to peaceful use of atomic energy.
  • In 1998, India again conducted a nuclear explosion tests, and acquired the capacity to use nuclear energy for military purposes.
  • To alleviate the fears of a world community, India formulated a comprehensive nuclear doctrine. The major tenets of this doctrine are:
    • Maintenance of a credible minimum nuclear deterrence.
    • Professes no first use policy.
    • Commitment to global veritable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament leading to a nuclear weapons free world.
  • India has abided by both NPT and Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) even though it is a non-signatory. This along with its commitments on nuclear non-proliferation under NSG waiver in 2008 provides India with a strong basis for membership in NSG.

CTBT

  • The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is the treaty banning all nuclear explosions - everywhere, by everyone.
  • The Treaty was negotiated at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. It opened for signature on 24 September 1996.

Source: TH/Web

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GS-II : International treaties and conventions Nuclear disarmament
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and USA

Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and USA

Part of: GS-II- Nuclear disarmament (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

U.S. President Donald Trump declared that the U.S. is quitting the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a bilateral agreement with Russia signed in 1987.

The decision was not unexpected since the U.S. has long maintained that Russia has been violating the treaty and Mr. Trump has been critical of arms control agreements because, according to him, other countries cheat putting the U.S. at a disadvantage.

 

Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty:

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty, formally Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles) is a 1987 arms control agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Under the INF Treaty, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. agreed to eliminate within three years all ground-launched-missiles of 500-5,500 km range and not to develop, produce or deploy these in future.

The U.S. destroyed 846 Pershing IIs and Ground Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCMs) and the U.S.S.R., 1,846 missiles (SS-4s, SS-5s and SS-20s), along with its support facilities.

 

Importance of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in U.S.-Russia relations:

Under the Treaty, the two parties agreed that a whole important class of nuclear weapons would be removed from Europe, and only tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) or short-range missiles mostly deployed on the territory of Germany would remain.

The INF Treaty for years served to mitigate fears of both parties in relation to possibility of military escalation, operational miscalculation, and helping to shift the logic of MAD [mutually assured destruction] to the higher “more sensitive” political level.

 

Adverse consequence of the present decision by Mr.Trump:

Mr. Trump’s decision has generated dismay and concern that this will trigger a new nuclear arms race in Europe and elsewhere.

What it ignores is that the INF Treaty reflected the political reality of the Cold War of a bi-polar world with two nuclear superpowers no longer consistent with today’s multi-polar nuclear world.

The greater challenge today is to understand that existing nuclear arms control instruments can only be preserved if these evolve to take new realities into account.

 

What is the impact of U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty on China? 

 

Intermediate-range missile systems and cruise missiles would considerably enrich U.S. capabilities in a potential clash over Taiwan or other contentious strategic issue.

As the PLA of China has a variety of cruise missiles that can be launched from land, air, sea, and sub-surface platforms, returning to intermediate-range systems would equip American forces with the capability to strike targets that are highly difficult to penetrate for conventional weapons at present.

Meanwhile, vectoral enhancement of political relations with states all over the world, particularly those that are economically and politically affiliated to China, with possible shows of economic might and deeper engagement on the field of security.

All this will serve as a catalyst of economic allegiance and a probe of America’s security creed, especially in the region of the Pacific and Asia.

Nevertheless, joining the arms race in Asia may lead China into a trap of “competitive strategy.”

 

Foreign and Security policy consequences for U.S. nuclear deterrence in the absence of the INF treaty:

Leaving the INF Treaty would allow the U.S. to balance the military technology gap with these assets, which has grown since 1980, especially between U.S. and China.

In harmony with the Limited Test Ban Treaty of the 1960s, SALT [Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty] and START [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty], the INF has had a codifying effect on the two superpowers’ strategic relations.

Washington’s leaving the ABM [Anti-Ballistic Missile] and INF Treaty creates a formal agreement to vertical proliferation of WMD and gives higher status to the concept of power in international politics.

 

Conclusion:

In today’s return of major power rivalry, it is no longer a bi-polar world, and nuclear arms control is no longer governed by a single binary equation.

There are multiple nuclear equations — U.S.-Russia, U.S.-China, U.S.-North Korea, India-Pakistan, India-China, but none is standalone.

Therefore, neither nuclear stability nor strategic stability in today’s world can be ensured by the U.S. and Russia alone and this requires us to think afresh.

The most important achievement of nuclear arms control is that the taboo against use of nuclear weapons has held since 1945.

Preserving the taboo is critical but this needs realisation that existing nuclear arms control has to be brought into line with today’s political realities.

Source: TH/Web

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GS-III :
NTPC launches Hydrogen Fuel bus and car project for Leh and New Delhi

Context:

NTPC Ltd, India's largest power producer and a central PSU under Ministry of Power, has invited Global Expression of Interest (EoI) to provide 10 Hydrogen Fuel Cell (FC) based electric buses and an equal number of Hydrogen Fuel Cell based electric cars in Leh and Delhi.  The EoI has been issued by NTPC's wholly owned subsidiary, NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN) Limited.

The move to procure Hydrogen Fuel Cell based vehicles is first of its kind project in the country, wherein a complete solution from green energy to the fuel cell vehicle would be developed.

Fuel cell Technology

A fuel cell uses the chemical energy of hydrogen or another fuel to cleanly and efficiently produce electricity. If hydrogen is the fuel, electricity, water, and heat are the only products. Fuel cells are unique in terms of the variety of their potential applications; they can provide power for systems as large as a utility power station and as small as a laptop computer.

Benefits of fuel cell:

  • Fuel cells can be used in a wide range of applications, including transportation, material handling, stationary, portable, and emergency backup power applications.
  • Fuel cells can operate at higher efficiencies than combustion engines, and can convert the chemical energy in the fuel to electrical energy with efficiencies of up to 60%.
  • Fuel cells have lower emissions than combustion engines.
  • Hydrogen fuel cells emit only water, so there are no carbon dioxide emissions and no air pollutants that create smog and cause health problems at the point of operation.
  • Also, fuel cells are quiet during operation as they have fewer moving parts.

How Fuel Cells Work

  • Fuel cells work like batteries, but they do not run down or need recharging.
  • They produce electricity and heat as long as fuel is supplied. A fuel cell consists of two electrodes—a negative electrode (or anode) and a positive electrode (or cathode)—sandwiched around an electrolyte.
  • A fuel, such as hydrogen, is fed to the anode, and air is fed to the cathode. In a hydrogen fuel cell, a catalyst at the anode separates hydrogen molecules into protons and electrons, which take different paths to the cathode.
  • The electrons go through an external circuit, creating a flow of electricity. The protons migrate through the electrolyte to the cathode, where they unite with oxygen and the electrons to produce water and heat.

Source: PIB

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GS-III :
Study shows that COVID 19 may affect the Central Nervous System causing loss of smell and taste

Context:

  • Scientists of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Jodhpur have explored the neuroinvasive nature of the COVID 19 virus SARS-CoV-2 highlighting that loss of smell and taste of infected patients makes their entire Central Nervous System (CNS) and the underlying structures in the brain more prone to viral infection with devastating effects.
  • The paper recounts a recently conducted study on the brain scans (CT and MRI) of a patient infected by COVID-19 virus that shows a rare encephalopathy called ANE, which leads to brain dysfunction with seizures and mental disorientation.

How COVID-19 virus affects the CNS?

  • Dr. Surajit Ghosh and his team have pointed out that SARS-CoV-2 is known to interact with a specific human receptor known as hACE2 (human angiotensin-converting enzyme-2) which also happens to be the entry point of the virus and has an almost ubiquitous presence in most human organs ranging from lung parenchyma to nasal mucosa.
  • The brain is also known to express this receptor.
  • They have attributed the loss of smell or taste to the fact that nose and mouth both are very important entry points of the virus, which then may be slowly making its way to the olfactory bulb using the neurons of the olfactory mucosa.
  • The olfactory bulb located in the forebrain is the structure that is chiefly responsible for the sense of smell. This explains the loss of smell associated with many asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 and also may be exposing the CNS to viral infection.

The paper accepted in ACS Chemical Neuroscience and supported by Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB), a Statutory Body of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), has suggested probable therapeutic strategies that could be adopted to combat it on the basis of understanding the neurological manifestations of the COVID-19.

Why COVID-19 virus is a life threatening disease?

  • It indicates that in the presence of human ACE2 receptors in CNS, the brain may be infected by the virus through the olfactory bulbs and also through other peripheral nerve terminals or simply blood circulation and may breach the blood-brain barrier to innervate and attack CNS.
  • The scientists said that it may also completely destroy the medulla oblongata of the hindbrain, which regulates breathing, heart, and blood vessel function.

Precautionary measures

  • The paper also rings warning bells to the asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 with anosmia (loss of smell) and ageusia (loss of taste) to self-quarantine themselves as soon as they feel these and consult specialized nephrologists before they turn into carriers.
  • Brain autopsies of COVID-19 infected patients and analysis of their cerebrospinal fluid.
  • The publication highlights that activities like smoking could increase the chances of contracting COVID-19 infection, attributing this to the interactions and co-expression of the hACE2 receptor and the nicotinic receptor, which is stimulated on smoking. Hence prevention of smoking.

Treatment:

  • The paper reflects upon therapeutics agents ranging from the peptide-based therapeutics, which will curb the interaction between the viral protein and the human receptor to the strategic design of small molecule inhibitors designed against the viral spike protein that interacts with the ACE2.
  • It also suggests the development of subunit vaccines from the purified virus along with antibody.

Source: PIB/WEB

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GS-III :
India top fifth sextortion countries

India top fifth sextortion countries

Part of: GS-III- Internal security Cyber crime (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

As per a report by SophosLab, India is among the top 10 countries from where the sextortion spam emails originate.
Researchers from the British cybersecurity firm Sophos traced the origin of millions of sextortion spam emails sent between September 2019 and February 2020 to conclude that India is among the top 10 sextortion mail source countries.

Being the source of 3.73 per cent of all sextortion emails, India is placed at fifth position preceded by Vietnam at the top (7.01 per cent), Brazil at second (5.89 per cent), Argentina at third (4.76 per cent), and Korea at fourth (4.76 per cent).

 

What is sextortion?

Sextortion is a widely used form of spam attack where cybercriminals extort money by claiming to have receiver’s compromising pictures or evidence of their sexual activity. The attacker threatens to share such pieces of evidence with the receiver’s friends and family unless they pay ransom money.

Sextortion email is not different from any other phishing. It’s more of a subcategory of ransomware emails. It includes malware that can hack the system upon accepting or activating the link.

The National Cyber Security Policy (NCSP) 2013  is a policy framework by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MoCIT). The NCSP underscores the need for the creation of a secure computing environment and generating adequate trust in online systems and networks.

National Cyber Security Policy 2013 Objectives

  • To create a secure cyber ecosystem and build adequate confidence in IT systems and transactions.
  • To strengthen the regulatory framework for ensuring secure cyber ecosystem.
  • To create and enhance mechanisms for monitoring and resolving cyber security threats.
  • To enhance the protection and resilience of the nation’s critical information infrastructure.
  • To create a workforce of five lakh specialists in cyber security over the next five years.

Key Highlights of National Cyber Security Policy 2013

  • To meet with the various objectives of the cyber security policy, here are the strategy that will be put in place.
  • Policy aims at creating a national level nodal agency that will co-ordinate all matters related to cyber security in the country
  • It will encourage organizations to develop their own security policies as per international best practices.
  • The policy will ensure that all organizations earmark a specific budget to implement their security policies and initiatives.
  • Policy plans to offer various schemes and incentives to ensure that proactive actions are taken for security compliance.
  • To create an assurance framework, policy will create conformity assessment and certification of compliance to cyber security best practices, standards and guidelines
  • Policy aims at encouraging open standards that facilitate interoperability and data exchange among different IT products and services.
  • A legal framework will be created to address cyber security challenges arising out of technological developments in cyber space.
  • The policy also plans to enforce a periodic audit and evaluation of adequacy and effectiveness of security of Information infrastructure in India. The policy will create mechanisms to get early warnings in case of security threats, vulnerability management and response to the security threats thereof
  • A 24X7 operational national level computer emergency response team (CERT-in) will function as an umbrella organization that will handle all communication and coordination in deal with cyber crisis situations.
  • To secure e-governance services, policy will take various steps like encouraging wider usage of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) standards in communications and engagement of expert security professionals / organizations to assist in e-governance.
  • The policy will encourage and mandate use of tested, validated and certified IT products in all sensitive security areas
  • The policy also plans to undertake and invest in various R&D programs in area of national cyber security.

Source: AIR

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GS-III :
Convalescent plasma therapy

Context:

Karnataka’s first plasma donor, whose plasma will be administered to a COVID-19 patient, hopes to inspire others to come forward and help in the fight against the pandemic.

He contracted the virus in the end of March after travelling to Dubai.

What is plasma and what are platelets?

Plasma is the liquid portion of whole blood. It is composed largely of water and proteins, and it provides a medium for red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets to circulate through the body. Platelets, also called thrombocytes, are blood cells that cause blood clots and other necessary growth healing functions.

Platelet activation plays a key role in the body's natural healing process.

Facts about plasma

  • Plasma is the largest part of your blood. It, makes up more than half (about 55%) of its overall content.
  • When separated from the rest of the blood, plasma is a light yellow liquid. Plasma carries water, salts and enzymes.
  • The main role of plasma is to take nutrients, hormones, and proteins to the parts of the body that need it.
  • Cells also put their waste products into the plasma. The plasma then helps remove this waste from the body. Blood plasma also carries all parts of the blood through your circulatory system.

How does plasma keep you healthy?

  • Plasma is a critical part of the treatment for many serious health problems. This is why there are blood drives asking people to donate blood plasma.
  • Along with water, salt, and enzymes, plasma also contains important components. These include antibodies, clotting factors, and the proteins albumin and fibrinogen. When you donate blood, healthcare providers can separate these vital parts from your plasma. These parts can then be concentrated into various products. These products are then used as treatments that can help save the lives of people suffering from burns, shock, trauma, and other medical emergencies.
  • The proteins and antibodies in plasma are also used in therapies for rare chronic conditions. These include autoimmune disorders and hemophilia. People with these conditions can live long and productive lives because of the treatments. In fact, some health organizations call plasma "the gift of life."

Donating plasma

  • If you want to donate plasma to help others in need, you will go through a screening process. This is to make sure your blood is healthy and safe. If you qualify as a plasma donor, you'll spend about an hour and a half at a clinic on every follow-up visit.
  • During the actual blood donation process, your blood is drawn through a needle placed in a vein in one arm. A special machine separates the plasma and often the platelets from your blood sample. This process is called plasmapheresis. The remaining red blood cells and other blood components are then returned to your body, along with a little saline (salt) solution.

What is convalescent plasma? Is it a COVID-19 treatment?

  • Researchers are testing the use of donated blood as a treatment for people with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
  • People who've recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies to the disease in their blood. Doctors call this convalescent plasma. Researchers hope that convalescent plasma can be given to people with severe COVID-19 to boost their ability to fight the virus.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has outlined the requirements that individuals must meet to donate blood for this research. Before donated blood can be used, it must be tested for safety. It then goes through a process to separate out blood cells so that all that's left is plasma with antibodies.
  • The immediate goal of this research is to determine if convalescent plasma can improve the chance of recovery for people with the most severe disease. A second goal is to test whether convalescent plasma can help keep people who are moderately sick from getting sicker.
  • Such a treatment would be a boon for people at high risk — such as with underlying medical conditions, as well as family members and health care workers who have been exposed.
  • In addition, learning more about the use of convalescent plasma now will help health care workers be better prepared if a second wave of disease occurs, as has happened with past viral outbreaks.

 

 

 

Source: TH/WEB

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GS-III : Economic Issues
With Europe hit by COVID-19, mango exports from Karnataka look uncertain

With Europe hit by COVID-19, mango exports from Karnataka look uncertain

With most European countries in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic and many of them going through an extended lockdown period, uncertainty looms over mango exports from Karnataka. Growers producing export-quality fruits are keeping their fingers crossed with limited cargo flight operations.
Even though it is an “off-year” for the mango crop, Karnataka was expecting a yield of about 8 lakh tonnes, with the first batch of fruits harvested from trees with “manipulated” flowering already hitting the markets and fetching a handsome price.

The fruit varieties, mainly Alphonso, Badam, Saindoora, Mallika, Baganpalli and Kesar, are also exported to the Middle East, especially the UAE market, and the United States, but Europe has been the major market and the largest importer of mangoes.

Source: AIR

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