Daily Current Affairs : 19th January 2022

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Tuberculosis
  2. Hunger
  3. 13th Amendment
  4. Borneo island

1 . Tuberculosis


Context : The Union Health Ministry has advised COVID-19 patients to undergo tests for tuberculosis and other conditions if cough persists for more than two or three weeks. It also instructed the States to keep an eye on the decline in the number of COVID-19 tests.

About Tuberculosis

  • Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable.
  • TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
  • About one-quarter of the world’s population has a TB infection, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit it.
  • Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is among the health targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Symptoms and diagnosis

  • Common symptoms of active lung TB are cough with sputum and blood at times, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.
  • WHO recommends the use of rapid molecular diagnostic tests as the initial diagnostic test in all persons with signs and symptoms of TB as they have high diagnostic accuracy and will lead to major improvements in the early detection of TB and drug-resistant TB.
  • Rapid tests recommended by WHO are the Xpert MTB/RIF Ultra and Truenat assays.
  • Tuberculosis is particularly difficult to diagnose in children.

MDR-TB & XDR-TB

  • Drug resistance emerges when anti-TB medicines are used inappropriately, through incorrect prescription by health care providers, poor quality drugs, and patients stopping treatment prematurely.
  • Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a form of TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to isoniazid and rifampicin, the 2 most powerful, first-line anti-TB drugs. MDR-TB is treatable and curable by using second-line drugs.
  • However, second-line treatment options are limited and require extensive chemotherapy (up to 2 years of treatment) with medicines that are expensive and toxic.
  • Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) is a more serious form of MDR-TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to the most effective second-line anti-TB drugs, often leaving patients without any further treatment options.

Government Initiatives

  • Universal drug susceptibility testing has been rolled out, shorter and newer treatment regimen has been expanded countrywide. India is moving towards an injection free regimen.
  • Private sector engagement has been elevated as one of the highest priorities with strengthened regulatory measures, collaborative incentives and scale up of successful Patient Provider Support Agency (PPSA) interventions which led to a 35% increase in TB notification from the private sector.
  • The Nikshay Poshan Yojana has benefited 15 lakh TB patients for nutrition support with Rs. 240 cores disbursed as DBT since April 2018.
  • A comprehensive call centre for information, addressing grievance, patient linkages and provider relationship has been established.
  • Institutional system of award for TB free status has been introduced to generate federal competitiveness, motivate and to bring about proactive actions from States and Districts.
  • TB forums at various levels in the states have been formed to remove stigma and to create awareness about the symptoms of the disease and the free treatment available at the government health facilities.
  • 1180 CBNAAT labs have been made operational throughout the country, along with 4 lakh treatment support centres at the village level.
  • These efforts have resulted in increase from 25% to 83% in the treatment success rates (2017-2018), and the TB prevalence rates have come down from 29% to 4%. 

2 . Hunger


Context : The Supreme Court’s questions on hunger deaths saw the Union government insist on Tuesday that no one died of starvation in recent times across the country, even during the pandemic.

About Hunger in India

  • India, with a population of over 1.3 billion, has seen tremendous growth in the past two decades. Gross Domestic Product has increased 4.5 times and per capita consumption has increased 3 times. Similarly, food grain production has increased almost 2 times.
  • However, despite phenomenal industrial and economic growth and while India produces sufficient food to feed its population, it is unable to provide access to food to a large number of people, especially women and children.
  • A National Sample Survey Exercise points towards the fact that about 5% of the total population in the country sleeps without two square meals a day. This section of the population can be called as “hungry”.

State of Hunger in India

  • According to FAO estimates in ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2020 report, 189.2 million people are undernourished in India. By this measure 14% of the population is undernourished in India. Also, 51.4% of women in reproductive age between 15 to 49 years are anaemic.
  • Further according to the report 34.7% of the children aged under five in India are stunted (too short for their age), while 20% suffer from wasting, meaning their weight is too low for their height. Malnourished children have a higher risk of death from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria.
  • The Global Hunger Index 2020 ranks India at 101 out of 116 countries on the basis of three leading indicators — prevalence of wasting and stunting in children under 5 years, under 5 child mortality rate, and the proportion of undernourished in the population.
  • India has slipped to 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 of 116 countries, from its 2020 position of 94th and is behind its neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Government Schemes to address Hunger

  • Nutrition Security is being addressed through the National cooked Mid-day Meal Programme, ICDS, Kishori Shakti Yojana, Nutrition programme for Adolescent Girls and Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yojana
  • National Food Security Act, Antyodaya Anna Yojana etc are also undertaken by the govt to address the issue of hunger

Food Loss & Food Waste

  • It is estimated that nearly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted. 40 percent of the fruits and vegetables, and 30 percent of cereals that are produced are lost due to inefficient supply chain management and do not reach the consumer markets.
  • While significant levels of food losses occur upstream, at harvest and during post-harvest handling, a lot of food is lost or wasted during the distribution and consumption stages. Some food is also wasted on the shelves and in the warehouses of food businesses either due to excess production, introduction of new products, labeling errors, or due to shorter remaining shelf life.
  • Such food could be saved by timely withdrawing it from the distribution network, aggregating it and then redirecting it to the people in need.

3 . 13th Amendment


Context : Prominent Tamil legislators from Sri Lanka’s north and east have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking India’s help in ensuring that Colombo addresses the island’s long-pending Tamil question with a lasting political solution. The seven-page letter foregrounds the many unkept promises, made by different governments in Colombo, to implement the 13th Amendment and go beyond it to ensure meaningful power devolution.

Background

  • After Rajapaksas’ win in the November 2019 presidential polls and the August 2020 general election, the spotlight has fallen on two key legislations in Sri Lanka’s Constitution.
    • 19th Amendment: It was passed in 2015 to curb powers of the Executive President, while strengthening Parliament and independent commissions. The Rajapaksa government has already drafted and gazetted the 20th Amendment.
    • 13th Amendment: It passed in 1987 and it mandates a measure of power devolution to the provincial councils established to govern the island’s nine provinces.

What is the legislation?

  • It is an outcome of the Indo-Lanka Accord of July 1987, signed by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President J.R. Jayawardene, in an attempt to resolve Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict that had aggravated into a full-fledged civil war, between the armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which led the struggle for Tamils’ self-determination and sought a separate state.
  • The 13th Amendment led to the creation of Provincial Councils and assured a power sharing arrangement to enable all nine provinces in the country, including Sinhala majority areas, to self-govern.
  • Subjects such as education, health, agriculture, housing, land and police are devolved to the provincial administrations, but because of restrictions on financial powers and overriding powers given to the President, the provincial administrations have not made much headway.
  • The provisions relating to police and land have never been implemented.
  • Initially, the north and eastern provinces were merged and had a North-Eastern Provincial Council, but the two were de-merged in 2007 following a Supreme Court verdict.

Why is it contentious?

  • The 13th Amendment carries considerable baggage from the country’s civil war years.
  • It was opposed vociferously by both Sinhala nationalist parties and the LTTE. The former thought it was too much power to share, while the Tigers deemed it too little.
  • A large section of the Sinhala polity, including the leftist-nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) which led an armed insurrection opposing it, saw the Accord and the consequent legislation as an imprint of Indian intervention.
  • Though signed by the powerful President Jayawardene, it was widely perceived as an imposition by a neighbour wielding hegemonic influence.
  • The Tamil polity, especially its dominant nationalist strain, does not find the 13th Amendment sufficient in its ambit or substance.
  • However, some including the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) — which chiefly represented the Tamils of the north and east in Parliament in the post-war era until its setback in the recent polls — see it as an important starting point, something to build upon.

Why is the 13th Amendment significant?

  • Till date, the 13th Amendment represents the only constitutional provision on the settlement of the long-pending Tamil question.
  • It is considered part of the few significant gains since the 1980s, in the face of growing Sinhala-Buddhist majoritarianism from the time Sri Lanka became independent in 1948.

Who wants it abolished and why?

  • From influential Cabinet ministers in the current government to state ministers, including a former naval officer who has been assigned the Provincial Councils & Local Government portfolio, many have openly called for the abolition of provincial councils after the new government took charge.
  • They deem the councils “white elephants” and have argued that in a small country the provinces could be effectively controlled by the Centre.
  • The opposition camp also includes those fundamentally opposed to sharing any political power with the Tamil minority.
  • All the same, all political camps that vehemently oppose the system have themselves contested in provincial council elections.
  • The councils have over time also helped national parties strengthen their grassroots presence and organisational structures.

What is the stand of the Rajapaksas?

  • Neither President Gotabaya Rajapaksa nor Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has commented on the Amendment so far.
  • During Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s two terms as President, for a decade from 2005, he gave several assurances to implement the 13th Amendment and go even beyond its provisions, popularly referred to as his promise of “13 plus”.
  • The conduct of the historic Northern Provincial Election in 2013 was a welcome step, but his government was reluctant to part with land and police powers.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has referenced the Amendment more than once, especially during high-level bilateral visits, but observers in Sri Lanka wonder how far India can go on the Tamil question, amid growing geopolitical insecurities.

4 . Facts for Prelims


Borneo island

  • Indonesia’s parliament passed a law approving the relocation of its capital from slowly sinking Jakarta to a site 2,000 kilometres away on the jungle-clad Borneo island that will be named “Nusantara”.
  • Borneo is the world’s third-largest island and the largest island of Asia. It is part of the Indonesian archipelago. Borneo is surrounded by the Java Sea to its south, the Celebes Sea on its east, and the South China Sea to its north. It has an area of 288,869 square miles (748,168 square kilometers).
  • From neighboring islands, Borneo is north of Java, west of Sulawesi, and east of Sumatra. The island is bisected by the equator, with approximately half of its land area in the northern hemisphere and half in the southern hemisphere.
  • The island is divided between three countries: Indonesia (73%), Malaysia (26%), and Brunei (1%). The Indonesian provinces of North Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, and Central Kalimantan make up the southeastern part of the island. The Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak make up the northwestern part of the island. Brunei is a sovereign state located almost entirely on Borneo. It consists of two coastal tracts within the Malaysian state of Sarawak, and also includes several small adjacent islands.
  • The island of Borneo is rich in natural resources. Known metal deposits include: gold, silver, copper, tin, aluminum (as bauxite), and iron ore. Most of the island is covered by tropical forests that produce tropical timber and other forest products. The coastal and offshore areas are underlain by deposits of coal, peat, oil, and natural gas.
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