- Quad: The confluence of four powers and two seas
- Is SARS-CoV-2 a latent virus which can recur?
- Criminal Contempt of court
- Hurricane Hanna
- What is African Swine Fever?
Focus: GS-II International Relations
Parallel exercises in the Indo-Pacific this week, including a trilateral exercise between the U.S., Australia and Japan in the Philippines Sea, and an Indo-U.S. naval exercise in the Indian Ocean have fuelled speculation that Quadrilateral (Quad) exercises will be launched soon between all four navies.
Highlights regarding the “Quad”
- Australia’s request has been pending for four years, to join the annual Malabar exercises with India, the U.S. and Japan.
- China’s poses fierce opposition to the militarisation of a coalition seen as a counter to its claims in the Pacific and inroads in the Indian Ocean.
- At the Shangri-La Dialogue, Indian Prime Minister had said that India sees the Indo-Pacific as a “geographical concept”, not a “strategy or a club of limited members”.
- India is the only country in the Quad that shares a land boundary with China, and the militarisation of the Quad will not help India deal with that threat.
- Unlike the U.S., Japan and Australia, which are tied by military alliances, India is a member of other strategic forums, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation with China, Russia and Central Asia, BRICS and RIC, which appear to be at cross purposes with a Quad alliance.
The China factor
China’s recent moves of aggression were seen by many as the tipping point that makes India push the countries of the Quadrilateral Security Group, called the Quad for short, into a military embrace that will have far-reaching implications for regional and global security.
History of formation of Quad
- Quad was originally born in an instant: from the crisis that followed the tsunami in 2004.
- Within days of the disaster, India had mobilised an impressive fleet, and demonstrated to the world that it would not just manage its own rescue effort in Tamil Nadu and the Andaman and Nicobar islands but could also provide assistance to its maritime neighbours: Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia.
- The humanitarian and disaster relief effort was coordinated in the next few weeks with three other naval powers engaged in the rescue effort: the U.S., Australia and Japan.
How did China see this formation?
- China’s Navy had not at the time undergone its massive modernisation drive towards a blue water navy and the effort by the Quad countries was clearly an impetus to hasten the process.
- The exercises and the strategic coordination between these countries rattled Beijing and Moscow, who termed it an attempt to build “an Asian NATO”.
Alternatives to BRI (Belt and Road Initiative)
- The Quad grouping has met biannually discussing “connectivity, sustainable development, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation and maritime and cyber security, with a view to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in an increasingly inter-connected Indo-Pacific region”.
- The emphasis on connectivity has seen the Quad challenge China in another sphere: a coordinated effort to provide financing and sustainable alternatives to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has led many nations to take loans and accept infrastructure bids from Beijing.
- The counter has not yet made much headway, but each of of the Quad countries is coordinating their responses on infrastructure projects in their spheres of influence, including India and Australian efforts in the Pacific islands, India-U.S. coordination in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region, and India-Japan joint efforts to develop projects in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
- The military aspect of the Quad has also grown: India has strengthened its naval ties with each of the other Quad countries, and there have been more interactions, formal and informal at the official, political and military levels.
-Source: The Hindu
Focus: GS-III Science and Technology
Ever since cases of ‘reinfection’ — people who had tested negative for COVID-19 testing positive again after a while — emerged the question of latency of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is being hotly debated.
What is a latent viral infection?
- A latent viral infection is an infection that is inactive or dormant and does not replicate within the host.
- It however possesses the capacity to be reactivated at some point, causing a flare-up of the disease much later.
- As opposed to active infections, where a virus is actively replicating and potentially causing symptoms, latent (or persistent; but not chronic) infections are essentially static which last the life of the host and occur when the primary infection is not cleared by the adaptive immune response.
- Latent viral infections can be reactivated into a lytic form (the replication of a viral genome).
- The ability to move back and forth from latent to lytic infections helps the virus spread from infected individuals to uninfected individuals.
Chronic and Acute
- Viruses fall into two broad categories: chronic and acute; while a chronic virus will infect its host for extended periods of time, often through the lifetime of the host.
- An acute infecting virus, such as influenza and rotavirus, is cleared from the body after a few days or weeks.
- The ability of chronic virus to enter the latent stage and reactivate into the lytic stage could be a strategy to promote its survival.
Does SARS-CoV-2 go into latency?
- None of the observations conclusively proves a second infection. In each one of these cases, there is sufficient reason to suspect that it is one infection, with negative results in between.
- While the RT- PCR [reverse transcription/polymerase chain reaction] tests are considered to be the gold standard for testing, all tests are not 100% accurate. False positives and false negative results are expected to occur.
- It’s entirely possible to have detectable, then non-detectable, and then detectable SARS-CoV-2 virus because of the limit of detection of our current testing.
-Source: The Hindu
Focus: GS-II Governance
Why in news?
The recent initiation of proceedings for criminal contempt of court, has brought under focus the necessity for retaining the law of contempt as it stands.
- The origin of the dilemma about what would be more judicious – ignoring adverse remarks or seeking to punish – lies in the part of contempt law that criminalises anything that “scandalises or tends to scandalise” the judiciary or “lowers the court’s authority”.
- One side of the argument is that contempt power is needed to punish wilful disobedience to court orders (civil contempt), as well as interference in the administration of justice and overt threats to judges.
- Some argue that the law for criminal contempt can be asynchronous with our democratic system which recognises freedom of speech and expression as a fundamental right.
A wide field in India
- The objective for contempt is stated to be to safeguard the interests of the public, if the authority of the Court is denigrated and public confidence in the administration of justice is weakened or eroded.
- But the definition of criminal contempt in India is extremely wide, and can be easily invoked.
- An excessively loose use of the test of ‘loss of public confidence’, combined with a liberal exercise of suo motu powers, can be dangerous, for it can amount to the Court signalling that it will not suffer any kind of critical commentary about the institution at all.
In England and abroad
- The contempt doctrine fell into disuse, and England abolished the offence of “scandalising the court” in 2013.
- The U.K. Law Commission that recommended abolition of the contempt law said that the law was originally intended to maintain a “blaze of glory” around courts.
- Contempt has practically become obsolete in foreign democracies, with jurisdictions recognising that it is an archaic law.
- Canada ties its test for contempt to real, substantial and immediate dangers to the administration.
- American courts also no longer use the law of contempt in response to comments on judges or legal matters.
Indian Constitution: Regarding Contempt of court
- Article 129 and 215 of the Constitution of India empowers the Supreme Court and High Court respectively to punish people for their respective contempt.
- The Contempt of Courts Act of 1971 defines the power of the High Court to punish contempts of its subordinate courts.
- Power to punish for contempt of court under Articles 129 and 215 is not subject to Article 19(1)(a).
According to Lord Hardwick, there is a three-fold classification of Contempt:
- Scandalizing the court itself.
- Abusing parties who are concerned in the cause, in the presence of court.
- Prejudicing the public before the cause is heard.
However, in India contempt of court is of two types:
- Civil Contempt: Under the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971, civil contempt has been defined as wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court.
- Criminal Contempt: Under the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971, criminal contempt has been defined as the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which:
- Scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court, or
- Prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with the due course of any judicial proceeding, or
- Interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.
-Source: The Hindu
Focus: GS-I Geography
Texas is facing another hardship apart from being one of the largest hotspots for Covid-19 in the U.S., as Hurricane Hanna has made landfall.
- As per the latest update issued by the National Hurricane Centre (NHC), the centre of Hanna has moved into north-eastern Mexico and the storm surge warning for Texas has been discontinued.
- There are five categories of tropical cyclones, depending on the wind speeds, and Hanna is category one.
- Once tropical cyclones make landfall, they become weaker since they are no longer fed by the heat of the ocean, but before dying out completely, they move far inland dumping inches of rainwater and causing wind damage.
What are hurricanes and how do they form?
- Tropical cyclones or hurricanes use warm, moist air as fuel and therefore form over warm ocean waters near the equator.
- When the warm, moist air rises upward from the surface of the ocean, it creates an area of low air pressure below.
- When this happens, the air from the surrounding areas, which has higher pressure, enters this space, eventually rising when it becomes warm and moist too.
- As the warm and moist air continues to rise, the surrounding air will keep entering the area of low air pressure.
- When the warm air rises and cools off, the water in the air forms clouds and this system of clouds and winds continues to grow and spin, fuelled by the ocean’s heat and the water that evaporates from its surface.
- As such storm systems rotate faster and faster, an eye forms in the centre.
- Storms that form towards the north of the equator rotate counter clockwise and those that form south of the equator spin clockwise because of the rotation of the Earth on its axis (Coriolis effect).
How are tropical cyclones named?
- Atlantic tropical storms are named according to lists by the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
- NHC uses alternating men and women’s names.
- These names are maintained and updated by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organisation (WTO).
- The WTO represents over 120 countries and uses pre-determined lists of names for each ocean basin of the world.
- Typically, the names should be short and should be readily understood when broadcast.
- There are 6 lists of such names that are used in rotation – so the list of names attributed to Atlantic tropical storms in 2019 will also be used in 2025.
- However, names of storms that caused particular damage and deaths are retired (not reused).
- Further, the only time that a storm may be renamed is when it dissipates to a tropical disturbance and reforms.
What is the use of Naming of Tropical Cyclones?
Naming of Tropical Cyclones helps the scientific community, disaster managers, media and general masses to:
- identify each individual cyclone.
- create awareness of its development.
- remove confusion in case of simultaneous occurrence of TCs over a region
- remember a TC easily
- rapidly and effectively disseminate warnings to much wider audience.
-Source: Indian Express
Focus: GS-III Science and Technology
The porcine industry in Assam suffered major losses during the COVID-19 lockdown, which was followed by an outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF).
What is African Swine Fever?
- African Swine Fever (ASF) does not affect humans but can be catastrophic for pigs.
- The current outbreak of ASF in India is the first time that the disease has been reported in the country.
- In 2019, the outbreak of the disease swept through pig populations in China — which is the largest exporter and consumer of pork — leading to large-scale cullings.
- ASF is a severe viral disease that affects wild and domestic pigs typically resulting in an acute haemorrhagic fever.
- The disease has a case fatality rate (CFR) of almost 100 per cent.
- Its routes of transmission include direct contact with an infected or wild pig (alive or dead), indirect contact through ingestion of contaminated material such as food waste, feed or garbage, or through biological vectors such as ticks.
- Any country with a pig sector is at risk of the spread of the disease and its spread is most likely via meat arriving aboard ships and planes, which is incorrectly disposed of and by meat carried by individual travellers.
What about ASF in India?
- Officials believe ASF came into India through Tibet into Arunachal Pradesh and then into Assam, the state with the highest population of pigs in the country (the route of infection remains unconfirmed).
- The Assam government decided to ban the slaughter and sale of pork awaiting test results of samples that were sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal. It was later confirmed that the samples were positive for ASF.
-Source: Indian Express