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22nd October Current Affairs

Contents

  1. Deplorable Condition of India’ s air pollution: SOGA 2020
  2. Integrated theatre commands: The next step
  3. Govt. to widen manufacturing PLI plan
  4. Police Commemoration Day
  5. U.S., Russia to Extend START Treaty
  6. ‘Infodemic’ management during Pandemic

DEPLORABLE CONDITION OF INDIA’S AIR POLLUTION: SOGA 2020

Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology

Why in news?

  • India recorded the world’s highest annual average concentration of PM 2.5 exposure in its air in 2019, according to the State of Global Air 2020 (SOGA 2020) report released recently: extending to a decade the rising streak of the common air pollutant that has emerged as a respiratory health risk in the Capital and other cities.
  • According to the report over 116,000 infants in India died within a month after their birth due to exposure to severe air pollution in 2019.
Exposed to pollution 
India had the worst annual average concentration of PM2.5 in 
its air in 2019, according to the State of Global Air 2020 report 
Deaths in India in 2019 
attributed to air pollution, 
according to the report 
EXPOSURE TO PM2.5 (population-weighted) 
83.2 
83.1 
80.1 
76 
70.4 
62.6 
.9 
47.7 
7.66 
DEATHS ATTRIBUTED TO AIR POLLUTION 
Highest deaths 
China 
due to air pollution 
were from China. 
Its relatively older 
population may 
have influenced it 
said Pallavi Pant, 
scientist at Health 
Effects Institute 
India 
Pakistan 
Bangladesh 
o 
236,000 
174,000 
United States 60,200
Pollution risk for infants 
A total of 476000 rpwborns workfwkfedkd in 
withil a rmnth of thei bitti as a result of pdlutnn 
Nations with highest inhnt deaths 
476,000 
Work± 
116,000 
India 
P*istdl 
22,900 12,700 
Ethiopia DR Congo

Highlights of State of Global Air 2020 concerning India

  • According to the report, India was followed by Nepal, Niger, Qatar and Nigeria in exposure to PM 2.5, which are fine, inhalable particulate matter with diameters that are generally 2.5 microns, or about 30 times smaller than a strand of human hair.
  • India has been recording an increase in PM 2.5 pollution since 2010, said the report.
  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)’s 2019 report indicates that the national average PM 2.5 concentrations has recorded a rising trend in the past three years owing to an increasing number of vehicles on the roads and re-suspension of natural dust.
  • Out of 20 most populous countries, 14 have recorded a gradual improvement in air quality but India, Bangladesh, Niger, Pakistan and Japan are among countries that have recorded at least a modest increase in air pollution levels measured by PM 2.5 content, said the report.
  • The report comes on top of others showing India to be one of the countries with the world’s worst air quality.
  • Two-thirds of the most polluted cities, or 21 out of 30, are in India, and Delhi has the worst air among all national capitals, according to the 2019 World Air Quality Report by IQAir AirVisual.

SOGA 2020 on Infant deaths in India due to Pollution

  • The report said that India had the highest burden of infant deaths due to air pollution followed by Nigeria (67,900), Pakistan (56,500), Ethiopia (22,900), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (1,200).
  • It is based on a growing body of research and evidence that suggests mothers’ exposure to polluted air during pregnancy is linked to increased risks to infants weighing under 2,500 grams at birth or those born before 37 weeks of gestation, as opposed to 38 to 40 weeks.
  • Low weight and premature birth are linked to a higher risk of lower respiratory tract infections, diarrhoea, other serious infections as well as brain damage and blood disorders, jaundice that can be potentially fatal.
  • Of all neonatal deaths attributable to air pollution globally, household air pollution accounted for about 64% of them.
  • The rest were due to outdoor air pollution.
  • The highest percentage of deaths attributable to household air pollution (80%) was estimated to be in the sub-Saharan region.
  • The lowest was in high-income regions (less than 2%).
  • Long-term exposure to outdoor and household air pollution contributed to over 1.67 million annual deaths from stroke, heart attack, diabetes, lung cancer, chronic lung diseases, and neonatal diseases in India last year, making air pollution the largest risk factor for deaths among all health risks.

More about State of Global Air report

  • The State of Global Air report brings into one place the latest information on air quality and health for countries around the globe and it t is produced annually by the Health Effects Institute and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s Global Burden of Disease project as a source of objective, peer-reviewed air quality data and analysis.
  • The report uses both data from ground monitors and satellite data to make its assessments.

PM2.5 and other Particulates

  • Particulates – also known as atmospheric aerosol particles, atmospheric particulate matter, particulate matter (PM), or suspended particulate matter (SPM) – are microscopic particles of solid or liquid matter suspended in the air.
  • The term aerosol commonly refers to the particulate/air mixture, as opposed to the particulate matter alone.
  • Sources of particulate matter can be natural or anthropogenic.
  • They have impacts on climate and precipitation that adversely affect human health, in ways additional to direct inhalation.
  • Types of atmospheric particles include suspended particulate matter; thoracic and respirable particles; inhalable coarse particles, designated PM10, which are coarse particles with a diameter of 10 micrometers (μm) or less; fine particles, designated PM2.5, with a diameter of 2.5 μm or less; ultrafine particles; and soot.
  • Fine particulate matter (PM2.5), tends to penetrate into the gas exchange regions of the lung (alveolus), and very small particles (ultrafine particulate matter, PM0.1) may pass through the lungs to affect other organs.
  • The smallest particles, less than 100 nanometers (nanoparticles), may be even more damaging to the cardiovascular system as they  can pass through cell membranes and migrate into other organs, including the brain.

-Source: Hindustan Times, The Hindu


INTEGRATED THEATRE COMMANDS: THE NEXT STEP

Focus: GS-III Internal Security Challenges

Why in news?

The next step in defence reforms after the appointment of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) would be the formation of integrated theatre commands, Indian Army Chief said.

Views of the Army Chief

  • Referring  to issues concerning the integration, theaterisation and modernisation of the armed forces the Army Chief noted that the appointment of the CDS and the creation of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) was a momentous one and that the services needed to demonstrate great wisdom and statesmanship in enabling the CDS, a long standing demand of the armed forces.
  • The next logical step in the process of defence reforms is the formation of Integrated Theatre Commands to synergise the capabilities and combat potential of the three Services during war and peace.
  • The Army Chief said that the Integration of the Armed Forces is “an inevitability” as it would lead to “tri-services synergy” and optimisation of resources.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)

  • CDS is a four-star general and will act as principal military adviser to defence minister on all tri services matters.
  • He will also head the department of military affairs
  • CDS was recommended by Kargil review committee after Kargil war.
  • In 2017, intelligence and security officials had said that the absence of a CDS was hampering India’s combat capabilities

Functions of CDS

  • Procurement for defence services other than capital acquisitions.
  • Charter says that, in 3 years, jointness in operation, logistics, maintenance, communication, repairs should be effective.
  • CDS heads the department of military Affairs, and will also be the permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.
  • CDS will not exercise any military command including over three service chiefs.
  • Rationalization of man power in military and ensuring adequate capital investment to all the 3 forces without discrimination and bias towards his own army.

-Source: The Hindu


GOVT. TO WIDEN MANUFACTURING PLI PLAN

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

The production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for manufacturing investments will soon be extended to eight more sectors, and the government is close to finalising its policy for the strategic sale of public sector enterprises (PSEs), Economic Affairs Secretary said.

Details

  • In the offing are about seven-eight sectors where the PLI scheme would be extended.
  • Unlike our other schemes, this is an outcome- and output-oriented scheme, incentives will be paid only if the manufacturers make the goods.
  • This scheme will give cash incentives for five to seven years and all the sunrise and important sectors are proposed to be covered in this.

Recently in news: PLI Scheme for Mobile Phone and Electronic Components manufacturers

Union Minister for Electronics & IT, Communications said that the Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) has been huge success in terms of the applications received from Global as well as Domestic Mobile Phone manufacturing companies and electronic components manufacturers.

Details

  • Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI)for Large Scale Electronics Manufacturing extends an incentive of 4% to 6% on incremental sales (over base year) of goods under target segments that are manufactured in India to eligible companies.
  • Under Mobile Phone (Domestic Companies) Segment, Indian companies have registered and are expected to expand their manufacturing operations in a significant manner and grow into national champion companies in mobile phone production.
  • Industry has reposed its faith in India’s stellar progress as a world class manufacturing destination and this resonates strongly with self-reliant India (AtmaNirbhar Bharat).

Benefits

  • Over the next 5 years, the Scheme is expected to lead to total production of about Rs. 11.5 lakh crores.
  • The scheme is expected to promote exports significantly, as more than 60% of the total production in next 5 years will be contributed by exports.
  • The scheme will generate approximately 3 lakh direct employment opportunities in next 5 years along with creation of additional indirect employment of nearly 3 times the direct employment.
  • With the demand for electronics in India expected to grow manifold by 2025, PLI scheme and other initiatives to promote electronics manufacturing will help in making India a competitive destination for electronics manufacturing and give boost to AtmaNirbhar Bharat.
  • Creation of domestic champion companies in electronics manufacturing under the Scheme will give fillip to vocal for local while aiming for global scale.

-Source: The Hindu


POLICE COMMEMORATION DAY

Focus: GS-II Governance

Introduction

The Police Commemoration Day is observed on October 21 every year to pay respects to the 10 policemen who were killed by Chinese troops in an ambush at Hot Springs area near Ladakh on October 21, 1959.

More about Police Commemoration Day

  • The day traces its history back to 21 October 1959, when twenty Indian soldiers were attacked by Chinese troops in Ladakh. Due to the altercation between the troops, ten Indian policemen lost their lives and seven were imprisoned.
  • More than a month later, on 28 November 1959, Chinese troops handed over the dead bodies of the martyred policemen.
  • Since that day, 21 October has been observed as Police Commemoration Day in honour of the martyrs.
  • In 2018 the Indian Prime Minister  inaugurated the first-ever National Police Memorial in New Delhi on the occasion of Police Commemoration Day – which commemorates 34,844 police personnel from all of the central and state police forces who have sacrificed their lives since 1947.

-Source: The Hindu


U.S., RUSSIA TO EXTEND START TREATY

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • The U.S. and Russia are on the verge of an arms-control deal that would freeze the number of nuclear warheads on each side and extend the New START agreement for a year.
  • The Russian President has proposed extending by one year the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) between the USA and Russia expiring in February 2021.

About the START Treaty

  • The New START Treaty is a treaty which entered into force on 2011, between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on measures for the further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms.
  • New START has replaced the 1991 START I treaty, which expired December 2009, and superseded the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which terminated when New START entered into force.
  • It is a successor to the START framework of 1991 (at the end of the Cold War) that limited both sides to 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles and 6,000 warheads.
  • It continues the bipartisan process of verifiably reducing the USA and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals by limiting both sides to 700 strategic launchers and 1,550 operational warheads.

INF Treaty

  • In 2019, the United States has also suspended the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty (INF Treaty) with Russia.
  • It was a nuclear arms-control accord reached by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987 in which the two nations agreed to eliminate their stocks of intermediate-range and shorter-range (or “medium-range”) land-based missiles (which could carry nuclear warheads).
  • The United States withdrew from the INF Treaty in 2019.

-Source: The Hindu, Wall Street Journal


‘INFODEMIC’ MANAGEMENT DURING PANDEMIC

Focus: GS-II Governance

Why in news?

Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that managing the “infodemic” has been a serious challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Details

  • The WHO Chief Scientist defined “infodemic” as having too much information, including false or misleading information, particularly on social media.
  • She said that the “infodemic” led to confusion, risk-taking and ultimately mistrust towards governments and the public health response.
  • She said that the WHO has been working with technology companies to address this challenge by directing the public to credible sources of information, taking down false and misleading information from online platforms, and developing chatbots in different languages that the public could use for accessing information.   

Introduction:

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has caused social and economic disruptions in the world and the ease at which fake news has been spreading around it is causing more harm.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) admitted that humanity is fighting two foes — a pandemic and an “infodemic”.

What is Infodemic?

  • Infodemic is an overabundance of information that makes it difficult for people to identify truthful and trustworthy sources from false or misleading ones.
  • In the present state of emergency, a barrage of information on the virus has deluged the traditional and social media space.

Recent Example

  • The recent exodus of migrant labourers from NCR (risking spread of virus through community transmission to the rural areas where healthcare infrastructure is in a dismal state) was triggered due to panic created by some fake/misleading news on social media.
  • Though social media is acting as a fertile ground for dangerous rumour-mongering, it can act as an indispensable source of vital information.

Negative Role Played by Social Media

  • There is a paradigm shift from the 20th-century ecosystem dominated by print and broadcast media to an increasingly digital, mobile and social media dominated ecosystem.
  • Social Media, with its ability to amplify a message through endorsements and forwards, gives one the tool to reach a potential audience without needing substantial resources or access to expensive media technology.
  • Social media provides the tools for an information cascade. It enables individuals to distribute large volumes of disinformation or fake news.
  • The lack of filtering on online platforms negates any authentication mechanisms.
  • Recent events show that in many cases today’s decision-making is not based on individual rationality but from shared group-level narratives. Social media helps in making the false and misleading narratives of some social miscreants.

Positive Role Played by Social Media during the Pandemic

Covid-19 has led to social distancing and lockdown all across the nation. In these conditions, social media serves as:

  1. A potent tool to spread awareness and keep the community up-to-date with the protocols to be followed to stay safe.
  2. A medium to extend help and ask for help to be extended (online fundraisers) – For example, donations in the PM-CARES fund got encouraged by people sharing this on social media.
  3. A crucial conduit between families, friends, office, and a medium of entertainment.
  4. A reliable way for the victims of this virus to communicate with the outside world and avoid depression.

Social media displays and strengthens solidarity against this virus.For example, Indian Prime Minister called for lighting lamps to reinforce the public commitment to fight Covid-19.

WHO and other public health organizations also use social media to inform the public about the outbreak and the open publications allow thousands of researchers to brainstorm possible solutions, cures and explanations.

Way Forward: “Information hygiene” that can be followed in the society

  1. Verifying the authentic source of fact.
  2. Double checking with some fact checking website.
  3. Asking some expert opinion on that particular issue.
  4. Applying rational thinking while going through a forwarded news on social media.
  5. Applying these ideas before sharing the same.

-Source: The Hindu

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