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Current Affairs 01 June 2024

  1. Tobacco Epidemic in India
  2. Severe Turbulence Incidents Highlight Growing Concerns
  3. Indian Peacekeeper to Receive Posthumous Dag Hammarskjold Medal
  4. Asian Development Bank
  5. Recombinant Proteins
  6. India to Use Food Irradiation to Mitigate Onion Shortages Amid Declining Output
  7. Pre-packaged Insolvency Resolution Process


Context:

Tobacco is the most widely recognized preventable cause of disease and death globally. India has the world’s second-highest number of tobacco consumers, following China, with nearly 26 crore (260 million) people using tobacco products.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Reports on Tobacco Consumption in India
  2. WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)
  3. Government Initiatives
  4. Hidden Costs of Tobacco Beyond Health Risks
  5. Challenges to Effective Tobacco Control in India
  6. Way Forward for Tobacco Control in India

Reports on Tobacco Consumption in India

Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS):

  • Indicates a general decline in tobacco use among people aged above 15 years, except for an increase among women between 2015-2016 and 2019-2021.

Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS):

  • Shows a reduction in tobacco use among students aged 13-15 years.

National Family Health Survey (NFHS):

  • Aligns with GATS findings, showing a decrease in tobacco use among individuals above 15 years, with the exception of an increase among women.

WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)

Overview:

  • The FCTC is an international treaty adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2003 and is legally binding.
  • Countries that ratify the treaty are required to implement the measures within their national jurisdictions.
  • The treaty addresses global health risks related to tobacco use and provides a framework for effective tobacco control policies and strategies.
Government Initiatives

Regulations:

  • Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003: Regulates advertisement, promotion, and sponsorship of tobacco products, prohibits smoking in public places, mandates pictorial health warnings on tobacco packaging, and sets rules for selling tobacco products to minors.
  • Media Awareness: India is the first country to implement warnings on OTT platform content when actors are seen using tobacco products.
  • Product Awareness: Implementation of prominent and graphic pictorial health warnings on tobacco packaging.

Hidden Costs of Tobacco Beyond Health Risks

Environmental Impact:

  • Tobacco cultivation rapidly depletes soil nutrients, requiring more fertilizers, which further degrade soil quality.
  • Tobacco production contributes to deforestation; processing 1 kg of tobacco requires up to 5.4 kg of wood.
  • The production and consumption of tobacco generate massive waste, amounting to 1.7 lakh tonnes annually in India.

Economic and Health Costs:

  • Tobacco use leads to significant healthcare costs, with an estimated loss of Rs. 1.7 lakh crore in India (2017-18), surpassing the national health budget of Rs. 48,000 crore.
  • Over 6 million people working in the tobacco industry are at risk of health issues due to tobacco absorption through the skin.
  • Cleaning up tobacco waste incurs substantial additional costs, estimated at Rs. 6,367 crore annually in India.

Challenges to Effective Tobacco Control in India

Regulatory Challenges:

  • Smokeless tobacco (e.g., gutkha) and smuggled products often evade Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) regulations, complicating control over their production, sale, and marketing.
  • Fines for COTPA violations are low (maximum of Rs. 5,000 for first-time violations) and have not been updated since 2003, providing inadequate deterrence.

Advertising and Promotion:

  • Surrogate Advertising: Tobacco companies use advertisements for other products (e.g., elaichi) to indirectly promote their brands, making regulation difficult. The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 featured surrogate advertisements for at least two tobacco brands.

Policy and Implementation Issues:

  • The Indian government has not passed proposed amendments to strengthen COTPA in 2015 and 2020, which could have addressed existing regulatory gaps.
  • The National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) lacks the necessary staff, resources, and monitoring systems to fully implement COTPA across the country.

Industry Influence and Governance:

  • Effective lobbying by the tobacco industry impacts policy-making and regulation enforcement.
  • Despite the ban, issues with enforcing the policy on e-cigarettes persist.
  • Tax breaks for small tobacco companies result in unequal taxation, making harmful products more affordable.
  • The government’s 7.8% stake in ITC Ltd., India’s largest tobacco company, raises concerns about conflicts of interest and commitment to tobacco control.

Way Forward for Tobacco Control in India

  • Update Legislation:
    • India’s Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) and the National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) need revisions to enhance tobacco control efforts.
  • Increase Taxes:
    • Current taxes on tobacco products, particularly bidis and smokeless tobacco, fall short of the WHO-recommended target of 75%. Raising these taxes would reduce consumption and generate revenue for public health initiatives.
  • Enhance Monitoring:
    • Regular monitoring is essential to track tobacco use trends, identify violations of COTPA, and evaluate the effectiveness of anti-tobacco campaigns.
  • Support for Farmers:
    • Implement public programs to assist tobacco farmers in transitioning to alternative crops, minimizing economic hardship due to reduced tobacco cultivation.
  • Data Collection:
    • Timely collection of data on tobacco use patterns is crucial to understand changes and identify new strategies employed by the tobacco industry. This data is vital for formulating effective tobacco control policies.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recent incidents of severe turbulence affecting a Singapore Airlines flight over Myanmar and a Qatar Airways flight over Turkey underscore the increasing impact of rapid air traffic growth and climate change. While turbulence is a common occurrence on flights worldwide, episodes resulting in serious injuries are rare, pointing to emerging challenges in aviation safety due to these factors.

Relevance:

GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Understanding Flight-Turbulence: Causes and Types
  2. Impact of Climate Change on Flight-Turbulence

Understanding Flight-Turbulence: Causes and Types

Definition of Flight-Turbulence:

  • Turbulence refers to the irregular motion of air caused by eddies and vertical currents.
  • It can range from minor bumps to severe conditions that may throw an airplane out of control or cause structural damage.
  • Turbulence is often associated with weather fronts, wind shear, thunderstorms, and other atmospheric phenomena.

Effects of Flight-Turbulence:

  • Turbulence can affect the smoothness of a flight, causing varying levels of disruption to the aircraft’s altitude and attitude.
Types of Flight-Turbulence:
  • Light Turbulence: Causes slight, momentary changes in altitude, resulting in minor bumpiness.
  • Moderate Turbulence: Leads to more noticeable changes in altitude and attitude, but the aircraft remains well-controlled.
  • Severe Turbulence: Involves significant and sudden changes in altitude and attitude, potentially causing the aircraft to momentarily go out of control.
  • Extreme Turbulence: The aircraft is violently tossed and becomes practically uncontrollable.
Causes of Flight-Turbulence:
  • Mechanical Turbulence: Results from friction between the air and the ground, including irregular terrain and man-made obstacles, leading to the formation of eddies.
  • Convective or Thermal Turbulence: Occurs when hot air from certain ground surfaces rises rapidly while cooler air descends, creating convective air currents.
  • Frontal Turbulence: Caused by the friction between two opposing air masses and the lifting of warm air by a sloping frontal surface, commonly near thunderstorms.
  • Wind Shear: Involves changes in wind direction or speed over a specific horizontal or vertical distance, often near jet streams or in temperature inversion areas.
    • Clear Air Turbulence (CAT): A type of wind shear turbulence that can be sudden, severe, and difficult to forecast or see.

Impact of Climate Change on Flight-Turbulence:

Increasing Frequency and Severity:

  • Studies suggest that climate change may increase the frequency and severity of turbulence.
    • Jet Streams: Climate change strengthens jet streams, which contribute to turbulence.
    • Clear Air Turbulence (CAT): There has been a significant increase in CAT between 1979 and 2020, especially at mid and aircraft cruising altitudes.
    • North Atlantic: Severe CAT durations over the North Atlantic have increased by more than 55% during this period.

Broader Impact:

  • The frequency of severe turbulence is expected to rise more than that of light or moderate turbulence.
  • Other types of turbulence, such as mountain wave turbulence and near-cloud turbulence, will also intensify due to climate change.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

Indian peacekeeper Naik Dhananjay Kumar Singh, who served with the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), will be posthumously awarded the prestigious Dag Hammarskjold medal for his service and sacrifice.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Service of Naik Dhananjay Kumar Singh and MONUSCO
  2. International Day of UN Peacekeepers
  3. UN Peacekeeping Forces

Service of Naik Dhananjay Kumar Singh and MONUSCO

Service and Sacrifice:

  • Naik Dhananjay Kumar Singh served under the United Nations (UN) flag as part of MONUSCO.
  • He lost his life in the line of duty, exemplifying an unwavering commitment to peacekeeping efforts.

Role of MONUSCO:

  • MONUSCO took over from a previous U.N. peacekeeping mission in the African country in 2010.
  • Its mission is to protect civilians, humanitarian personnel, and human rights defenders from imminent threats of physical violence.
  • It supports the government of the country in stabilization and peace consolidation efforts.
The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal

Purpose:

  • Established in December 2000, the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal is a posthumous award to members of peacekeeping operations who lost their lives during service under the operational control of the United Nations.

Namesake:

  • Named after former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, who died in a plane crash while on a peacekeeping mission in 1961.

Award Ceremony:

  • Held annually on Peacekeeper’s Day (29th May), the medal is awarded to any Member State that has lost one or more military or police peacekeepers.
International Day of UN Peacekeepers

Establishment:

  • The International Day of UN Peacekeepers was established by the UN General Assembly in 2002.
  • It honors all men and women serving in peacekeeping and commemorates those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.

2024 Theme:

  • “Fit for the future, building better together” emphasizes the evolution and adaptability of UN Peacekeeping to address future conflicts.

UN Peacekeeping Forces

  • UN Peacekeeping is a joint effort which deploys troops and police from around the world, integrating them with civilian peacekeepers to address a range of mandates set by the UN Security Council (UNSC) and the General Assembly.
  • This joint effort between the Department of Peace Operations and the Department of Operational Support helps countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace.
  • According to the UN Charter, every Member State is legally obligated to pay their respective share for peacekeeping.
  • Since 1948, UN Peacekeepers have undertaken 71 Field Missions.
  • There are approximately 81,820 personnel serving on 13 peace operations led by UNDPO, in four continents currently.
  • This represents a nine-fold increase since 1999.
  • A total of 119 countries have contributed military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping.
  • Currently, 72,930 of those serving are troops and military observers, and about 8,890 are police personnel.

India’s contribution to UN Peacekeeping

  • India has a long history of service in UN Peacekeeping, having contributed more personnel than any other country.
  • To date, more than 2,53,000 Indians have served in 49 of the 71 UN Peacekeeping missions established around the world since 1948.
  • Currently, there are around 5,500 troops and police from India who have been deployed to UN Peacekeeping missions, the fifth highest amongst troop-contributing countries.
  • India has also provided, and continues to provide, eminent Force Commanders for UN Missions.
  • India is the fifth largest troop contributor (TCC) with 5,323 personnel deployed in 8 out of 13 active UN Peacekeeping Missions, of which 166 are police personnel.
  • India’s contribution to UN Peacekeeping began with its participation in the UN operation in Korea in the 1950s, where India’s mediatory role in resolving the stalemate over prisoners of war in Korea led to the signing of the armistice that ended the Korean War. India chaired the five-member Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission, while the Indian Custodian Force supervised the process of interviews and repatriation that followed.
  • The UN entrusted the Indian armed forces with subsequent peace missions in the Middle East, Cyprus, and the Congo (since 1971, Zaire).
  • India also served as Chair of the three international commissions for supervision and control for Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos established by the 1954 Geneva Accords on Indochina.

Role of women in Indian Peacekeeping

  • India has been sending women personnel on UN Peacekeeping Missions.
  • In 2007, India became the first country to deploy an all-women contingent to a UN Peacekeeping Mission.
  • The Formed Police Unit in Liberia provided 24-hour guard duty and conducted night patrols in the capital Monrovia, and helped to build the capacity of the Liberian police.
  • These women officers not only played a role in restoring security in the West African nation but also contributed to an increase in the number of women in Liberia’s security sector.

Medical care as part of India’s Missions

  • In addition to their security role, the members of the Indian Formed Police Unit also organised medical camps for Liberians, many of whom have limited access to health care services.
  • Medical care is among the many services Indian Peacekeepers provide to the communities in which they serve on behalf of the Organization. They also perform specialised tasks such as veterinary support and engineering services.
  • Indian veterinarians serving with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), stepped up to help cattle herders who were losing much of their stock to malnutrition and disease in the war-torn nation.
  • The Indian contingent in South Sudan has provided vocational training and life-saving medical assistance, as well as carrying out significant road repair work.
  • In September 2020, based on an urgent request received from the UN Secretariat, India deployed two medical teams of 15 medical personnel each at Goma (DRC) and Juba (South Sudan).
  • The Hospital by India in Goma, operational since January 2005, has 90 Indian nationals including 18 specialists.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has made a significant commitment of USD 2.6 billion in sovereign lending (important source of financing for countries around the world) to India in 2023, focusing on various development projects and initiatives.

Relevance:

GS II- Inter Groupings

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Asian Development Bank (ADB)

About Asian Development Bank (ADB):

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank established on 19 December 1966 to promote social and economic development in Asia.
  • It is headquartered in the city of Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines.
  • The ADB was modelled closely on the World Bank and an official United Nations Observer.
  • Japan holds the largest proportion of shares in ADB followed by the USA, and it has a weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with members’ capital subscriptions (just like the World Bank).
  • The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East or ECAFE) and non-regional developed countries.
  • ADB defines itself as a social development organization that is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.
  • ADB aids in reducing poverty through investments in the form of loans, grants and information sharing (in infrastructure, health care services, financial and public administration systems), helping nations prepare for the impact of climate change or better manage their natural resources, as well as other areas.

-Source: The Economic Times



Context:

Researchers at the Department of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science, have developed a novel method for the production of recombinant proteins.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

About Recombinant Proteins:

  • Definition: These are proteins encoded by recombinant DNA that has been cloned into an expression vector, supporting gene expression and translation of messenger RNA.
  • Gene Modification: Recombinant DNA technology can modify genes, leading to the expression of mutant proteins.
  • Manipulation: These proteins are manipulated forms of native proteins, generated to increase production, modify gene sequences, and create useful commercial products.
  • Creation: They are created by fusing sequences not normally present in an organism.
  • Production: Examples include vaccine antigens, insulin, and monoclonal antibodies. These are mass-produced by growing modified bacterial, viral, or mammalian cells in large bioreactors. The most widely used organism is the yeast Pichia pastoris (now Komagataella phaffii).
Application of Recombinant Proteins:
  • Biomedical Research: Used to understand health and disease.
  • Biotherapeutics: Used in treatments.
  • Drug Delivery and Disease Treatment: Produce protein-based polymers, antibodies, and enzymes, and protein scaffolds for tissue engineering.
What is Protein?
  • Role: Proteins are the workhorse in biological systems, facilitating most biological processes in a cell, including gene expression, cell growth, proliferation, nutrient uptake, intercellular communication, and apoptosis.
  • Synthesis: The blueprint for protein synthesis is stored in DNA, which serves as a template for highly regulated transcriptional processes to produce messenger RNA (mRNA).

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

To prevent shortages and price hikes, the Indian government plans to utilize radiation processing (food irradiation) to extend the shelf life of a 100,000 tonne onion buffer stock. This initiative comes as India, a major onion exporter, faces a 16% decline in onion output for the 2023-24 season, reducing production to an estimated 25.47 million tonnes.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

What is Food Irradiation?

  • Definition: Food irradiation is the process of exposing food and food products to ionising radiation such as gamma rays, electron beams, or X-rays.
  • Purpose: It is used in food processing to help ensure food safety.
Causes of Food Waste:
  • Seasonal Overstocking and Long Transport Times: Lead to significant food waste.
  • Climate Factors: India’s hot and humid climate is a breeding ground for spoilage-causing insects and microbes.
  • Post-Harvest Losses: In India, these losses amount to about 40-50% in food and food grains, mostly caused by insect infestation, microbiological contamination, sprouting, ripening, and poor shelf life.
  • Seafood, Meat, and Poultry: These can harbor harmful bacteria and parasites that make people sick.
Applications of Food Irradiation:
  • Prevention of Spoilage: Helps in preventing spoilage and extending the shelf life of food.
  • Germ Elimination: Kills germs and harmful microorganisms.
  • Pest Control: Eliminates bugs in stored food.
  • Delaying Sprouting: Helps in delaying the sprouting of certain foods.
Regulatory Framework:
  • In India, irradiated food is regulated in accordance with the Atomic Energy (Control of Irradiation of Food) Rules, 1996.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The Pre-packaged Insolvency Resolution Process (PPIRP) has resulted in the full settlement of operational creditors’ claims in five cases.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

About Pre-packaged Insolvency Resolution Process:

Introduction:

  • Launched in April 2021 in response to the Covid pandemic to alleviate stress on small and mid-sized companies.
  • Aimed at addressing the unique needs of distressed MSMEs.

Purpose:

  • Offers an alternative and faster resolution mechanism for micro, medium, and small enterprises in financial distress.

Process:

  • Negotiation: The debtor and creditors negotiate and agree on a resolution plan before formally starting the insolvency process.
  • Approval: The agreed resolution plan is submitted to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for approval, resembling an out-of-court settlement.
  • Drafting: Debtor and creditors draft a resolution plan before formal initiation.
  • Final Submission: The finalised plan, once approved by the required majority of creditors, is submitted to NCLT.

Initiation:

  • The pre-packaged insolvency process is voluntarily initiated by the debtor.

Significance:

  • The pre-negotiated and finalised resolution plan before NCLT filing significantly reduces resolution time compared to the corporate insolvency resolution process, minimizing disruptions.

-Source: The Economic Times


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