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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

Monthly DNA

31 Jul, 2020

81 Min Read

CHRI Report on Slavery

GS-II : Governance Human rights

CHRI Report on Slavery

GS-Paper-2 Governance- Human Rights (Mains)

Recently, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and Walk Free (an international anti-slavery organisation) released a report on slavery on the occasion of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (30th July).

The Report

  • It assessed the progress made by Commonwealth countries on the promises made in 2018 to end modern slavery by 2030 and achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (Target 8.7) of ending forced labour, human trafficking and child labour.
  • Commonwealth countries account for about 40% of people living in conditions of modern slavery in the world.
  • It is estimated that 1 in every 150 people in the Commonwealth countries lives in conditions of modern slavery.
  • It found that Commonwealth countries have made little progress towards their commitment to eradicate modern slavery and have been lacking in actions to eradicate modern slavery by 2030.
  • One-third of the Commonwealth countries had criminalised forced marriage, while 23 had not criminalised commercial sexual exploitation of children. All Commonwealth countries report gaps in victim assistance programs.

India Specific Outcome:

  • India had fared the worst in terms of coordination. It has no national coordinating body or National Action Plan in place to deal with modern-day slavery.
  • India accounted for one-third of all child brides in the world.
  • India, like all other Commonwealth countries in Asia, had not ratified the International Labour Organisation’s 2011 Domestic Workers Convention or the 2014 Forced Labour Protocol.
  • The 2014 Forced Labour Protocol obligates state parties to provide protection and appropriate remedies, including compensation, to victims of forced labour and to sanction the perpetrators of forced labour.
  • It also obligates state parties to develop a national policy and plan of action for the effective and sustained suppression of forced or compulsory labour.

Provisions in India

Constitutional Provisions:

  • Article 21 deals with the Right to Life and Personal Liberty.
  • Article 23 of the Constitution prohibits forced labour.
  • Article 24 prohibits the employment of children (below the age of fourteen years) in factories, etc.
  • Article 39 directs the State to secure the health and strength of workers, men and women, and to see the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength.
  • Article 42 directs the State to make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.

Legal Provision:

  • Various sections in Indian Penal Code (IPC) such as 366A, 366B, 370 and 374.
  • Section 370 and 370A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) provide for comprehensive measures to counter the menace of human trafficking including the trafficking of children for exploitation in any form including physical exploitation or any form of sexual exploitation, slavery, servitude, or the forced removal of organs.
  • The Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 and also the Immoral Traffic Act, the Prevention of Child Labour Act 1956, the Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act 1976, among others aims to eradicate various forms of slavery.

Other Initiatives:

  • India has ratified the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime (UNCTOC) which among others has a Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.
  • India has ratified the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Bangladesh has been signed on bilateral Cooperation for Prevention of Human Trafficking in Women and Children, Rescue, Recovery, Repatriation and Re-integration of Victims of Trafficking was signed in June, 2015.
  • Anti-Trafficking Nodal Cell was set up in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in 2006 to act as a focal point for communicating various decisions and following up on action taken by the State Governments to combat the crime of Human Trafficking.
  • Judicial Conferences: In order to train and sensitize the trial court judicial officers, Judicial conferences on human trafficking are held at the High court level. The aim is to sensitize the judicial officers about the various issues concerning human trafficking and to ensure a speedy court process.
  • To enhance the capacity building of law enforcement agencies and generate awareness among them, various Training of Trainers (TOT) workshops on ‘Combating Trafficking in Human Beings’ for Police officers and for Prosecutors at the Regional level, State level and District level have been organized by the government throughout the country.
  • Ministry of Home Affairs under a Comprehensive Scheme ‘Strengthening Law Enforcement Response in India against Trafficking in Persons’ through Training and Capacity Building, has released funds for the establishment of Anti Human Trafficking Units for 270 districts of the country.
  • The primary role of an Anti Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) is law enforcement and liaising with other concerned agencies for the care & rehabilitation of victims. MHA conducts coordination meetings with the Nodal Officers of Anti-Human Trafficking Units nominated in all States/UTs periodically.

Modern Slavery: Modern slavery refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot escape because of threats, violence, coercion, and abuse of power or deception. They may be held in debt bondage on fishing boats, against their will as domestic servants or trapped in brothels.

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)

It is an independent, non-partisan, international non-governmental organisation, headquartered in New Delhi, working for the practical realisation of human rights across the Commonwealth.

  • The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 independent and equal sovereign states.
  • It is one of the world’s oldest political associations of states. Its roots go back to the British Empire when some countries were ruled directly or indirectly by Britain. Some of these countries became self-governing while retaining Britain’s monarch as Head of State. They formed the British Commonwealth of Nations.
  • In 1949, the Commonwealth came into being. Since then, independent countries from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Pacific have joined the Commonwealth.
  • Membership is based on free and equal voluntary cooperation. Rwanda and Mozambique - have no historical ties to the British Empire.

Source: PIB

India Report on Digital Education, 2020

GS-II : Governance Education

India Report on Digital Education, 2020

GS-paper-3 Education (Mains)

Recently, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) launched India Report on Digital Education, 2020. Recently the MHRD has been renamed as the Ministry of Education.

The Report:

It has been prepared by the digital education division of MHRD in consultation with education departments of the states and union territories.

It elaborates on the innovative methods adopted by the MHRD, for ensuring accessible and inclusive education to children at home and reducing learning gaps during the Covid-19 pandemic.

MHRD Initiatives:

It has initiated many projects to assist teachers, scholars and students in their pursuit of learning like the DIKSHA platform, Swayam Prabha TV Channel, On Air - Shiksha Vani, e-PathShala and telecast through TV channels.

It also released guidelines on digital education called 'PRAGYATA'.

State Initiatives:

States and Union Territories have provided digital education at the doorstep of the students. Some of them are:

  • Social Media Interface for Learning Engagement (SMILE) in Rajasthan.
  • Project Home Classes in Jammu.
  • Padhai Tunhar Duvaar (Education at your doorstep) in Chhattisgarh.
  • Unnayan Initiatives in Bihar.
  • Mission Buniyaad in NCT of Delhi.
  • Kerala’s own educational TV channel (KITE VICTERS).
  • E-scholar portal as well as free online courses for teachers in Meghalaya.

They used social media tools like WhatsApp Group, Online classes through YouTube channels and Google meet to connect to the students. Some of the states/UTs like Lakshadweep, Nagaland and Jammu & Kashmir have also distributed tablets, DVDs and pen drives, equipped with e-contents to students.

They have also distributed textbooks at children’s doorsteps to ensure inclusive learning in remote areas where internet connectivity and electricity is poor. Several states have also focussed on the mental well-being of the children e.g Delhi conducted happiness classes. MHRD has also launched the 'Manodarpan' initiative, which aims to provide psychosocial support to students, family members and teachers for their mental health and well-being during the times of Covid-19.

Conclusion

The report will serve the purpose of cross-learning, adapting and adopting best practices across the country. While education is moving towards blended learning through online and offline modes, it shall be the endeavour of all the stakeholders in the field of education to ensure that no student is left behind for want of affordability and accessibility of quality education.

Source: PIB

Protesting is a Fundamental Right

GS-II : Governance Rights based issues

Protesting is a Fundamental Right

GS-Paper-2 International organisation (PT-MAINS)

Recently, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee has reaffirmed that protesting peacefully, online or in person, is a fundamental human right. This statement has come in the backdrop of increasing demonstrations over issues like political rights and racial justice.

UN Human Rights Committee: It is tasked with monitoring how countries implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) 1976, which under Article 21 guarantees the right to peaceful assembly.

Latest Interpretation of the Right to Peaceful Assembly
Fundamental Human Rights for People: To gather to celebrate or to air grievances in public and in private spaces, outdoors, indoors and online is a fundamental human right.

Protesters: Everyone, including children, foreign nationals, women, migrant workers, asylum seekers and refugees, can exercise the right of peaceful assembly.

Protection: Protesters have the right to wear masks or hoods to cover their faces and Governments should not collect personal data to harass or intimidate participants.

Role of Journalists and Human Rights Observers: They have the right to monitor and document any assembly, including violent and unlawful ones.

Government Obligations: Governments could not prohibit protests by making “generalised references to public order or public safety, or an unspecified risk of potential violence”. Governments cannot block internet networks or close down any website because of their roles in organising or soliciting a peaceful assembly.

Significance

The Committee’s interpretation will be important guidance for judges in national and regional courts around the world, as it now forms part of what is known as ‘soft law’.

The interpretation is a form of legal advice (not mandatory) from the Committee that monitors the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) 1976.

Indian Scenario:

India is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The right to protest, to publicly question and force the government to answer, is a fundamental political right of the people that flows directly from a democratic reading of Article 19 of the Constitution of India.

Article 19 (1) (a) states that all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression.

Article 19 (1) (b) states that all citizens shall have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms.

However, the State can impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of right of assembly on two grounds, namely, sovereignty and integrity of India and public order including the maintenance of traffic in the area concerned.

Further, Indian courts have reiterated that the right to protest is a fundamental right (Ramlila Maidan Incident v. Home Secretary, Union Of India & Ors. case -2012).

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

  • The ICCPR is a key international human rights treaty, providing a range of protections for civil and political rights.
  • The ICCPR, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, are considered the International Bill of Human Rights.
  • The Bill influences the decisions and actions of Government, State and Non-State actors to make economic, social and cultural rights a top priority in the formation and implementation of national, regional and international policy and law.
  • The ICCPR obligates countries that have ratified the treaty to protect and preserve basic human rights, such as the right to life and human dignity; equality before the law; freedom of speech, assembly, and association; religious freedom and privacy; freedom from torture, ill-treatment, and arbitrary detention; gender equality; the right to a fair trial; right family life and family unity; and minority rights.
  • The Covenant compels governments to take administrative, judicial, and legislative measures in order to protect the rights enshrined in the treaty and to provide an effective remedy.
  • The Covenant was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966 and came into force in 1976. 173 countries including India have ratified the Covenant.

Source: IE

Hiroshima Black Rain

GS-III :

Hiroshima Black Rain

GS-Paper-3 Environment (PT)

Recently, a district court of Hiroshima (Japan) has recognised 84 survivors of the post-nuclear explosion “black rain” as the atomic bomb survivors enabling them to avail benefits like free medical care.

Nuclear Explosion: In 1945, the USA dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6th and 9th August respectively, which marked the end of World War II. 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the incident.

The explosion and resultant firestorms are believed to have killed around 80,000 people in Hiroshima and around 40,000 people in Nagasaki. Thousands more died in the following years due to the exposure to radiation from the blast and also from the black rain that fell in the aftermath of the explosions.

Black Rain: The debris and soot from the destroyed buildings in Hiroshima (estimated 69% of the buildings was destroyed) mixed with the radioactive fallout from the bomb, rose high into the atmosphere in the form of a mushroom cloud. This material combined with the vapour in the atmosphere and came down as dark drops of liquid that have been called black rain.

Survivors describe it as consisting of large, greasy drops that are much heavier than normal raindrops. Nagasaki witnessed less black rain despite the fact that the nuclear bomb dropped on it was more powerful than Hiroshima’s. It killed fewer people and its effects were confined to a smaller area because of Nagasaki’s geographical position between hills. The blast did not produce firestorms and the material contributing to black rain was less.

Effects:
Black rain is full of highly radioactive material and exposure to it can result in serious illnesses. A study conducted in 1945 showed that black rain had come down as far as 29 km away from ground zero. In relation to nuclear explosions and other large bombs, ground zero is the point on the Earth's surface closest to a detonation.

In the case of an explosion above the ground, ground zero is the point on the ground directly below the nuclear detonation and is sometimes called the hypocenter. The rain contaminated everything it came in contact with. Dead fish were reported floating in water bodies and severely ill cattle were seen lying in the fields.

Black rain caused Acute Radiation Symptoms (ARS) in many who were exposed to it. These symptoms include nausea, diarrhoea, fever, sore throat and loss of hair. Over time, many people who were exposed to black rain have developed cancer as well.

Effects of the Ruling:

The Hiroshima District Court ruling recognises the plaintiffs as Hibakusha (Japanese term for the survivors of the nuclear blasts). It gives hope to many others because the decision may pave the way for the government to reconsider the limits it has set on who can be considered a survivor of the atomic bomb.

Source: TH

AIM-iCREST: NITI Aayog

GS-III :

AIM-iCREST: NITI Aayog

GS-PAPER- 3 S&T (PT-MAINS)

Recently, the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) has launched an incubator capabilities enhancement program ‘AIM-iCREST’. Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is a flagship initiative set up by the NITI Aayog to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.

  • AIM-iCREST is an Incubator Capabilities Enhancement program for a Robust Ecosystem focused on creating high performing Startups.
  • It has been designed to act as a growth support for AIM’s Atal and Established Incubators across the country.
  • For the same, AIM has joined hands with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wadhwani Foundation - organizations that can lend credible support and expertise in the entrepreneurship and innovation space.
  • The AIM’s incubators are set to be upscaled and provided requisite support to foster the incubation enterprise economy, that will help them to significantly enhance their performance.
  • This will be complemented by providing training to entrepreneurs, through technology driven processes and platforms.
  • The focus will be on supporting start-up entrepreneurs in knowledge creation and dissemination as well as in developing robust and active networks.

AIM’s Atal and Established Incubators:

Business incubators are institutions that support entrepreneurs in developing their businesses, especially in initial stages. Incubation is usually done by institutions which have experience in the business and technology world.

Atal Incubation Centres: AIM intends to support the establishment of new incubation centres called Atal Incubation Centres (AICs) that would nurture innovative start-ups in their pursuit to become scalable and sustainable business enterprises.

Established Incubation Centres: In recent years, academia, industry, investors, small and big entrepreneurs, government organizations, and non-governmental organizations have taken an initiative to set up incubation centres across the country. AIM envisages to upgrade these Established Incubation Centres (EICs) to world-class standards.

Atal Innovation Mission

  • AIM is Government of India’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.
  • It’s objective is to develop new programmes and policies for fostering innovation in different sectors of the economy, provide platform and collaboration opportunities for different stakeholders, create awareness and create an umbrella structure to oversee the innovation ecosystem of the country.

Major Initiatives:

  • Atal Tinkering Labs: Creating problem solving mindset across schools in India.
  • Atal Incubation Centers: Fostering world class startups and adding a new dimension to the incubator model.
  • Atal New India Challenges: Fostering product innovations and aligning them to the needs of various sectors/ministries.
  • Mentor India Campaign: A national mentor network in collaboration with the public sector, corporates and institutions, to support all the initiatives of the mission.
  • Atal Community Innovation Center: To stimulate community centric innovation and ideas in the unserved /underserved regions of the country including Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.
  • Atal Research and Innovation for Small Enterprises (ARISE): To stimulate innovation and research in the MSME industry.

Source: PIB

WTO: Dispute Panels against India

GS-III : Economic Issues WTO

WTO: Dispute Panels against India

GS-Paper-3 WTO- Dispute redressal mechanism (MAINS)

Recently, the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has set up two dispute settlement panels targeting import duties imposed by India on a number of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products including mobile phones. It was done on the request of Japan and Taiwan, taking up the number of panels constituted to examine the same tariff-related issue to three. In June 2020, the European Union (EU) had a panel established against India on the same issue.

  • The panels would determine whether India’s customs duties on imports of certain ICT products infringe the WTO’s norms or not.
  • The panels have been set up to decide on the 20% customs duty levied by India on mobile phones and some other ICT products.
  • India decided to levy a 10% customs duty on these products for the first time in July 2017 which was increased to 15% in the same year.
  • These custom duties were further increased to 20% despite opposition from a number of WTO members.
  • The EU, USA, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Canada, Japan and Thailand initiated consultations with India on the matter claiming that the move substantially affects them.
  • The goods covered in the complaint include telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks; base stations; machines for the reception, conversion and transmission or regeneration of voice, images or other data, etc.

Complainants’ Arguments:

  • Japan and Taiwan said that their failed consultations with India prompted them to submit the requests for panels.
  • Japan, Taiwan and the EU have argued that these products fall within the scope of the relevant tariff lines for which India has set the bound rate of 0% for its WTO schedule of commitments.
  • Bound Rates are the legally bound commitments on customs duty rates, which act as ceilings on the tariffs that member governments can set.
  • Once a rate of duty is bound, it may not be raised without compensating the affected parties
  • They held that India is applying tariffs on ITC goods falling under five tariff lines in excess of the 0% bound rate and that for some products, the applied tariff rate was as high as 20% sometimes.
  • The tariff Line refers to the classification codes of goods, applied by individual countries, that are longer than the 6-digit level of the Harmonized System (HS).
  • HS is a system of code numbers for identifying products. The codes are standing up to six digits. Beyond that countries can introduce national distinctions for tariffs and many other purposes.

India’s Stand:

India managed to block Japan’s first request for a panel on the grounds that the complaint undermined India’s sovereignty. India also rejected the EU’s suggestion of agreeing to one consolidated panel combining complaints from all three of them and saving time and resources. India argued that all three complainants are seeking to get the country to take on commitments under the Information Technology Agreement-II (ITA-II) which it never agreed to.

Information Technology Agreement

  • It is a plurilateral agreement enforced by the WTO and concluded by 29 participants in the Ministerial Declaration on Trade in Information Technology Products at Singapore in 1996.
  • It entered into force on 1st July 1997.
  • It seeks to accelerate and deepen the reduction of trade barriers for the critically important ICT industry.
  • Currently, the number of participants has grown to 82, representing about 97% of world trade in IT products.
  • India is a signatory.

Information Technology Agreement-II

  • Few developed countries proposed to broaden the scope and coverage of the ITA.
  • At the Nairobi Ministerial Conference in December 2015, over 50 members concluded the expansion of the Agreement, which now covers an additional 201 products valued at over USD 1.3 trillion per year.
  • Its aim was to increase the coverage of IT products on which customs duty would be bound at zero, addressing non-tariff measures and expanding the number of signatory countries to include countries such as Argentina, Brazil and South Africa.
  • India has decided not to participate in this for the time being because India’s experience with the ITA-I has been most discouraging, which almost wiped out the IT industry from India.
  • The real gainer from that agreement has been China which raised its global market share from 2% to 14% between 2000-2011. China is a significant exporter of ICT goods.

Source: TH

Higher Food Prices

GS-III : Economic Issues Food security, PDS, FCI, Buffer

Higher Food Prices

GS-Paper-3 Economy Inflation (Mains)

Recently, the Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition in New York conducted a study titled “Pandemic Prices: Covid-19 Price Shocks and their Implications for Nutrition Security in India”. It analysed prices of cereals (wheat and rice) and non-cereals (onion, tomatoes, potatoes, five pulses and eggs) in 11 tier-1 and tier-2 cities from 1st March-31st May 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

  • Following the lockdown, all food groups witnessed a rise in prices, but the rise in prices was higher for non-cereals compared to cereals.
  • After the lockdown was lifted, prices of cereals and non-cereals stabilised quickly while those of protein-rich pulses continued to remain high.

Data Analysis:

  • Wheat and Rice: Retail prices were either stable or cheaper than the weeks preceding the lockdown and last year.
  • Potato, Onions and Tomatoes: The prices went high initially but later on stabilised. Onion prices went as high as 200-250%.
  • Eggs: The prices fell initially (because of fear of coronavirus through poultry) but increased by March-end and then stabilised two months later.
  • Pulses: The prices rose during the lockdown and continued to remain higher than the pre-Covid-19 levels.

Concerns: The relative stability in cereal prices and enhanced prices of pulses will most likely distort spending and consumption decisions resulting in a staple-based, protein-deficient diet hampering the food security in the country. The relatively higher prices of more nutritious food make it difficult for the poor and marginal population to access such nutrient-rich food. As a result, the proportion of such foods in the diets goes further down and is replaced by less nutritious and calorie-dense foods. It will worsen the nutritional status of women and children across India, and more so in the impoverished regions of the country. The study also criticised the amendment to the Essential Commodities Act,1955 which deregulated cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potatoes.

  • Suggestions:
    The government can ensure the provision of supplementary protein by timely interventions to stabilise the increase in prices.
  • Policies that insulate non-staple supply chains from price shocks and fluctuations are necessary.
  • Abolishing outdated restrictions to address farm sector bottlenecks is very important.

Food and nutrition security is ensured if all of the citizens of a nation have enough nutritious food available, all of them have the capacity to buy food of acceptable quality and there is no barrier to access to food. The right to nutritious food is a well-established principle of international human rights law. It has evolved to include an obligation for state parties to respect, protect and fulfil their citizens’ right to food and nutrition security.

Source: TH

Aerial Seeding in Haryana

GS-III :

Aerial Seeding in Haryana

GS-Paper-3 Biodiversity (PT-MAINS) IFS EXAM

Recently, the Haryana government has employed aerial seeding techniques to improve green cover in the Aravalli area of the state. The project is being carried out on a pilot basis to regenerate the low vegetation density or denuded areas on inaccessible or difficult sites of Aravalli and Shivalik hills.

Aerial Seeding

Aerial Seeding is a plantation technique wherein seed balls — seeds covered with a mixture of clay, compost, char and other components — are sprayed using aerial devices, including planes, helicopters or drones.

Working: Seeds balls/pellets are dispersed in a targeted area by low-flying drones, with the coating providing the required weight for seeds to airdrop on a predetermined location rather than getting deterred by the wind. These pellets sprout when there is enough rain, with nutrients present within them helping in initial growth.

Advantages:
Areas that are inaccessible, having steep slopes or no forest routes, can be targeted using this method.

The process of the seed’s germination and growth is such that it requires no attention after it is dispersed and thus seed pellets are known as the “fire and forget” way of plantation.

They eliminate any need for ploughing and do not need to be planted since they are already surrounded by soil, nutrients, and microorganisms. The clay shell also protects them from birds, ants and rats.

Species to be Used for Aerial Seeding: The plant species which are native to the area and hardy, with seeds that are of an appropriate size for preparing seedballs are usually used for aerial seeding, with a higher survival percentage.

Use of Seeding Drone:

The method involves spraying seed balls or seed pellets from the air using seeding drones. It is equipped with a precise delivery mechanism for seeds of different sizes from a height of 25 to 50 metres. A single drone can plant 20,000-30,000 seeds a day.

Implementation:
The method is being implemented on 100 acres of land to test efficacy of the seed dispersal mechanism and review the success rate.

The species that will be planted through aerial seeding include Acacia senegal (Khairi), Ziziphus mauritiana (Beri), and Holarrhena spp (Inderjo), all of which have a higher chance of survival in these areas.

Also, site specific grass seeds will also be added to the mix as they serve as good soil binders.

It will provide work opportunities to the local community, especially women, who can prepare the seed balls. The method will be useful since there are many areas that are either difficult to reach or inaccessible altogether, making traditional methods of plantation difficult.

Source: IE

Antibiotic Use in Dairy Sector

GS-III :

Antibiotic Use in Dairy Sector

GS-PAPER-3 Health (Mains)

Recently, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) held an online meeting on antibiotic use in the dairy sector. The meeting was attended by experts from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (under the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying), the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, (CDSCO) etc. The meeting highlighted that the milk sold directly to consumers and the processed milk sold in packets are not tested and stay largely unchecked for antibiotic residues.

  • India is the world's largest milk producer, and it also forms an integral part of Indian diets, especially of children’s.
  • It produced 188 million tonnes (MT) of milk in 2018-19.
  • Urban areas consume 52% of it and the unorganised sector, comprising milkmen and contractors, caters to 60% of this consumer base.
  • The remaining demand is met by dairy cooperatives and private dairies which represent the organised sector.

Concerns
Inadequate Focus on Testing: There is an inadequate focus on testing for antibiotic residues in the milk collected by State federations, which process it and sell it as packaged milk.

  • Extensive Misuse: Antibiotics are extensively misused in the dairy sector. Such chemical-intensive food leads to antibiotic resistance.
  • No Professional Help: Farmers often inject animals on their own judgment of signs and symptoms of a disease without any veterinary supervision.
  • Indiscriminate Usage: Dairy farmers indiscriminately use antibiotics for diseases such as mastitis (infection/inflammation of the udder) which is a common ailment in dairy animals.
  • The antibodies used by them often include Critically Important Antibiotics (CIAs) for humans.
  • The WHO has warned that the CIAs should be preserved in view of the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance.
  • Farmers often sell milk while the animal is under treatment, which increases the chances of antibiotic residues.

Easy Availability: The antibiotics are easily available without the prescription of a registered veterinarian and stocked at farms.

Source: TH

Ammonia in Yamuna

GS-III :

Ammonia in Yamuna

GS-PAPER-3 Environment Pollution (PT-MAINS)

Recently, high levels (around 3 parts per million) of ammonia in the Yamuna river has been detected in Delhi which led to the disruption of water supply in Delhi. As per the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the acceptable maximum limit of ammonia in drinking water is 0.5 parts per million (ppm)

Ammonia:

  • Its chemical formula is NH3.
  • It is a colourless gas and is used as an industrial chemical in the production of fertilisers, plastics, synthetic fibres, dyes and other products.
  • It occurs naturally in the environment from the breakdown of organic waste matter, and may also find its way to ground and surface water sources through industrial effluents, contamination by sewage or through agricultural runoff.

Effect of High Level of Ammonia:

Ammonia reduces the amount of oxygen in water as it is transformed to oxidised forms of nitrogen. Hence, it also increases Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). If the concentration of ammonia in water is above 1 ppm it is toxic to fishes. In humans, long term ingestion of water having ammonia levels of 1 ppm or above may cause damage to internal organs.

Treatment:
Mixing of freshwater with ammonia polluted water.

Chlorination: Chlorination is the process of adding chlorine or chlorine compounds such as sodium hypochlorite to water.

This method is used to kill certain bacteria and other microbes in tap water. However, chlorine is highly toxic.

Long Term Solution: Stringent implementation of guidelines against dumping harmful waste into the river. Making sure untreated sewage does not enter the water. Maintain a sustainable minimum flow, called the ecological flow.
******Ecological flow is the minimum amount of water that should flow throughout the river at all times to sustain underwater and estuarine ecosystems and human livelihoods, and for self regulation.

Yamuna

  • The river Yamuna, a major tributary of river Ganges, originates from the Yamunotri glacier near Bandarpoonch peaks in the Mussoorie range of the lower Himalayas in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand.
  • It meets the Ganges at the Sangam in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh after flowing through Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi. Important Dam: Lakhwar-Vyasi Dam (Uttarakhand), Tajewala Barrage Dam (Haryana) etc.
  • Important Tributaries: Chambal, Sindh, Betwa and Ken.

Source: IE

Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar

GS-III :

Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar

The Government of India has invited nominations for the ‘Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar’. Applications for the year 2021 would be accepted till 31st August 2020.

  • Field Recognised: The Government of India instituted Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskaar to recognise the excellent work done by the individuals and institutions in the field of disaster management.
  • Administered By: National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA - created by the Ministry of Home Affairs under the Disaster Management Act, 2005).
  • Award: The awards are announced on the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on 23rd January every year. In addition to a certificate, these awards carry a cash award of Rs. 51 lakhs for an Institution and Rs. 5 lakhs for an Individual. The Institution has to utilize the cash prize for Disaster Management related activities only.
  • Eligibility: Only Indian nationals and Indian institutions can apply for the award. The nominated individual or institution should have worked in any area of disaster management like Prevention, Mitigation, Preparedness, Rescue, Response, Relief, Rehabilitation, Research, Innovation or early warning in India.

Source: PIB

AJO-Neo

GS-III :

AJO-Neo

Recently, researchers from the S.N. Bose National Centre For Basic Sciences (SNBNCBS), Kolkata have developed a device called “AJO-Neo '' to measure the neonatal bilirubin levels. SNBNCBS is an autonomous research Institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.

Description
AJO-Neo is a non-contact and non-invasive spectrometry-based technique for the measurement of neonatal bilirubin levels without limitations of other available bilirubin meters. Bilirubin is a yellowish substance in the blood. It forms after red blood cells break down, and it travels through the liver, gallbladder, and digestive tract before being excreted.

It is a necessary process in the body's clearance of waste products that arise from the destruction of aged or abnormal red blood cells.

Significance: The screening of bilirubin levels in newborns is necessary to reduce incidents of a type of brain damage called kernicterus that can result from high levels of bilirubin in a baby's blood. Kernicterus leads to Neuropsychiatry problems in neonates.

Advantages: It is reliable in measuring bilirubin levels in preterm, and term neonates irrespective of gestational or postnatal age, sex, risk factors, feeding behaviour or skin colour. The device delivers an instantaneous report (about 10 seconds) to a concerned doctor. The conventional “blood test” method takes more than 4 hours to generate the report.

Source: IE

PLpro: Covid-19

GS-III :

PLpro: Covid-19

According to a new study on Covid-19, pharmacological inhibition of PLpro blocks virus replication and also strengthens immune response in humans. Usually, when a virus attacks human cells, the infected body cells release messenger substances known as ‘type 1 interferons’ which attract the killer cells in human bodies. These killer cells kill the infected cells and save humans from getting sick.

When the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) enters a human cell, it hijacks the cell mechanism and fights back by letting the human cell produce PLpro. PLpro is a protein which suppresses the development of type 1 interferons. Due to this, killer cells are not informed about the infection. Hence, PL pro plays a crucial role in the replication of the virus.

Significance of the Research: Researchers can now monitor these processes in cell culture (artificial environment). By blocking PLpro, virus production can be controlled. In the absence of the PLpro, type 1 interferons will be released informing the killer cells and thus, strengthening the innate immune response of the human cells.

Source: TH

Antibiotic resistance analysis (RS TV)

GS-III :

Antibiotic resistance analysis (RS TV)

GS-PAPER-3 Health (PT-MAINS)

Antibiotics are life saving medicines. But these very same medicines can threaten our lives, if used indiscriminately. Already, seven lakh people around the world die due to drug-resistant diseases each year. And if no radical changes are made, these drug-resistant diseases could kill 10 million people a year by 2050.

Antibiotics

  • An antibiotic is a type of antimicrobial substance active against bacteria and is the most important type of antibacterial agent for fighting bacterial infections.
  • Antibiotic medications are widely used in the treatment and prevention of such infections.
  • They may either kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria.
  • A limited number of antibiotics also possess antiprotozoal activity.
  • Antibiotics are not effective against viruses such as the common cold or influenza; drugs which inhibit viruses are termed antiviral drugs or antivirals rather than antibiotics.

WHO: AWaRe.

It is an online tool aimed at guiding policy-makers and health workers to use antibiotics safely and more effectively.

The tool, known as ‘AWaRe’, classifies antibiotics into three groups:

  1. Access — antibiotics used to treat the most common and serious infections.
  2. Watch — antibiotics available at all times in the healthcare system.
  3. Reserve — antibiotics to be used sparingly or preserved and used only as a last resort.

Concerns

  • Antibiotic resistance is already one of the biggest health risks and is estimated to kill 50 million by 2050 worldwide.
  • The threat continues to escalate globally because more than 50 per cent of antibiotics in many countries are used inappropriately such as for treatment of viruses when they only treat bacterial infections or use of the wrong (broader spectrum) antibiotic.
  • Besides, reduced access to effective and appropriate antibiotics in many low- and middle-income countries contributes to childhood deaths and lack of funding and implementation of national plans to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

Superbug

  • A superbug is usually defined as a microorganism that’s resistant to commonly used antibiotics – but not all superbugs are created equal.
  • The number of different antibiotics to which it can be resistant determines the degree of the superbug. Some are resistant to one or two, but others can be resistant to multiple drugs.
  • So, if a bug is resistant to every available antibiotic, it would be the superbug of all superbugs.
  • Cases where people die from antibiotic-resistant infections are still comparatively rare, particularly in places like Australia, which doesn’t allow antibiotics to be sold without a doctor’s prescription.
  • But around the world, the number of people dying because their infection can’t be treated by any available antibiotic is increasing.
  • Currently, antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause 700,000 deaths worldwide each year, and a UK government review on antimicrobial resistance predicted this number could increase to 10 million by 2050.
  • If superbugs are allowed to spread, we may reach a point where it is too dangerous to conduct surgeries such as c-sections and transplants because of the risk of superbug infection, which would have huge implications for the health of people around the world.

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotics are medicine used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotic Resistance refers to resistance developed by bacteria against antibiotics or the ability of bacteria to mutate or change so as to resist the effects of antibiotics. The more we use them, and the more we abuse them, the less effective they become.

Antibiotics are unquestionably useful against bacterial infections. However, indiscriminate use has resulted in development of resistance in patients with bacterial infections thereby leading to long lasting illnesses.

Thanks to that annoying thing called evolution, bacteria are constantly adapting to counter-attack antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most significant threats to patients’ safety. It is driven by overusing antibiotics and prescribing them inappropriately.

Negative effect:

  • Antibiotic resistance causes people to be sick for longer and increases the risk of death.
  • Resistance also increases the cost of health care with lengthier stays in hospital and more intensive care required.
  • Antibiotic-resistant bacteria increase the chance and severity of illness and ultimately death.
  • Few new antibiotics are being developed, which is exacerbating the situation as more antibiotic resistant bacteria adapts and arises.

Therefore, rational use of antibiotics is essential in order to minimize antibiotic resistance.

Antimicrobial Resistance in India

AMR is of particular concern in developing nations, including India, where the burden of infectious disease is high and healthcare spending is low. The country has among the highest bacterial disease burden in the world. Antibiotics, therefore, have a critical role in limiting morbidity and mortality in the country. The 2015 WHO multi-country survey revealed widespread public misunderstanding about antibiotic usage and resistance.

  • AMR has huge implications for India. There is a need to have in place a good comprehensive AMR National Action Plan in line with the Global AMR action plan.
  • For resistance, this means cutting the misuse of antibiotics in humans and farm animals, fighting environmental pollution, improving infection control in hospitals, and boosting surveillance.
  • While most of these goals need government intervention, individuals have a critical part to play too.
  • This is especially true for India, which faces a unique predicament when it comes to restricting the sale of antibiotics — some Indians use too few antibiotics, while others use too many.
  • Many of the 410,000 Indian children who die of pneumonia each year do not get the antibiotics they need, while others misuse drugs, buying them without prescription and taking them for viral illnesses like influenza.
  • Sometimes this irrational use is driven by quacks. But just as often, qualified doctors add to the problem by yielding to pressure from patients or drug-makers.

This tussle — between increasing antibiotic use among those who really need them, and decreasing misuse among the irresponsible — has kept India from imposing blanket bans on the non-prescription sale of these drugs.

When policymakers did propose such a ban in 2011, it was met with strong opposition. Instead, India turned to fine-edged tools such as the Schedule H1, a list of 24 critical antibiotics such as cephalosporins and carbapenems, whose sale is tightly controlled.

How can we prevent antibiotic resistant infections?

It is important to understand that, although they are very useful drugs, antibiotics designed for bacterial infections are not useful for viral infections such as a cold, cough, or the flu.

  • Before taking any antibiotic ask the physician if it is required and beneficial.
  • Always take antibiotics as prescribed by the physician.
  • Take antibiotics to treat only bacterial infections.
  • Do not take antibiotics in viral infections such as cold, cough, or flu
  • Do not repeat the same antibiotic for the next time you get sick.
  • Do not stop antibiotic before complete prescribed course of treatment.
  • Do not skip doses.
  • Do not copy the antibiotic with the same diseases which is prescribed for someone else.

Why is antibiotic resistance one of the biggest health challenges:-

  • Antimicrobial resistance will result in difficulty in controlling the diseases in the community and ineffective delivery of the health care services.
  • Neonates and the elderly both are more prone to infections and are vulnerable.
  • A very significant part of out-of-pocket expenditure on health care is on medicines. The ineffective drugs and/or second line expensive antibiotics is pushing the treatment costs higher.
  • WHO has published its first ever list of antibiotic-resistant ‘priority pathogens’ a catalogue of 12 families of bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health and most of these 12 superbugs have presence in India.
  • Antibiotic resistance is emerging as a threat to the successful treatment of infectious diseases, organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy and major surgeries.
  • Even when the process happens naturally, it is accelerated by the wrong use of antibiotics in humans and animals, and the effectiveness of these in the treatment of diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and gonorrhea has diminished.
  • Treating fatal diseases like sepsis, pneumonia and tuberculosis (TB) are becoming tough because microbes that cause these diseases are increasingly becoming resistant to fluoroquinolones.

Excessive use of medicines in poultry:-

Unregulated sale of the drugs for human or animal use accessed without prescriptionor diagnosis has led to unchecked consumption and misuse. Of tested birds destined for meat consumption, 87% had the super germs based on a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The mutated robust microbe strain can invade the body and cause diseases that are difficult to treat. Even mild infections require stronger dosage. Annual healthcare cost due to antibiotic resistanceis estimated to be as high as $20 billion, with an additional productivity loss of up to $35 billion in the US.

Way forward

Poultry:- Ban the use of antibiotics for growth promotion and mass disease prevention. It should only be used to cure the sick animals based on prescription of veterinarians. There is a need to introduce a labelling system wherein poultry raised without use of antibiotics should be labelled through reliable certified schemes to facilitate consumer choice.

Rationalizing antibiotic use to limit antibiotic resistance in India. Improving regulation of drug production and sale. Encouraging behavior change among doctors and patients are of immediate priority.

Regulation of the medical sector, particularly in the prescription of medicines. Improved management of the health care delivery systems, both public and private, will minimize conditions favourable for the development of drug resistance.

Improved awareness of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication. WHO’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week is one such event. Reducing the incidence of infection through effective infection prevention and control. As stated by WHO, making infection prevention and hand hygiene a national policy priority.

Discourage non-therapeutic use of antimicrobial agents in veterinary, agriculture and fishery practices as growth-promoting agents. Promoting investments for antimicrobial resistance activities, research and innovations Strengthening India’s commitment and collaborations on antimicrobial resistance at international, national and sub-national levels. Regulate the release of antibiotic waste from pharmaceutical production facilities and monitoring antibiotic residues in wastewater.

Source: WEB

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