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Current Affairs 05 August 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Formal Employment
  2. Hate speech
  3. Nuclear Weapons and India
  4. Urban Flooding
  5. WHO’s Comprehensive Report on Tobacco Control Measures
  6. UNESCO heritage danger list
  7. Spike Non Line of Sight (NLOS) Anti-tank Guided Missile (ATGM)

Formal Employment


Context:

Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF) data indicates net increases in contributors, but this contradicts ground reports of Unemployment and Job Scarcity in India. The Indian government has been using the EPF’s data to measure the Formal Employment creation since 2017.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Formal Employment
  2. EPF Data Analysis: Insights into Formal Employment Trends
  3. Factors Leading to the Decline in Contributors
  4. Scenario of the Job Crisis in India
  5. Causes of Low Employment in India

Formal Employment:

Formal employment pertains to a category of work where labor laws and employment contracts ensure regulated and safeguarded terms and conditions.

Salient Attributes of Formal Employment:
  • Formal employment is typically established through a written employment agreement that comprehensively outlines various aspects of the job, encompassing roles, working hours, remuneration, benefits, and other associated provisions.
  • Individuals engaged in formal employment often have access to social security benefits, encompassing health coverage, pension plans, provident funds, unemployment support, and various other forms of financial safeguards.
  • Workers within the realm of formal employment are granted specific labor rights that are upheld by legal frameworks. These rights include the freedom to join trade unions, engage in collective bargaining, protection against arbitrary dismissal, and access to legal remedies for dispute resolution.
  • A notable feature of formal employment is the provision of consistent wages or salaries, typically disbursed on a fixed schedule. This characteristic ensures a reliable and stable source of income for employees.
Contextualizing Informal Employment:
  • In contrast, informal employment pertains to work arrangements that lack regulation or protection under labor laws, often operating without formal contractual agreements and frequently evading governmental oversight.
  • Informal employment can lead to precarious working conditions, potentially hindering economic growth due to factors such as reduced productivity and heightened income inequality.

EPF Data Analysis: Insights into Formal Employment Trends

Stagnancy and Decline in Regular Contributors:

  • The annual reports of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) reveal a concerning trend of either stagnant or decreasing figures for individuals classified as regular contributors – those consistently making Provident Fund (PF) contributions.

Growth Patterns Over the Years:

  • Over the decade spanning 2012 to 2022, there was an observable increase in the count of regular contributors affiliated with the EPF scheme, climbing from 30.9 million to 46.3 million.
  • However, a noteworthy pattern emerges between 2017 and 2022, wherein the expansion of regular contributors showed a subdued growth, rising only slightly from 45.11 million to 46.33 million.

Discrepancy in EPF Enrollments and Regular Contributions:

  • Although the overall count of EPF enrollments experienced a substantial surge, progressing from 210.8 million in 2017 to 277.4 million in 2022, a divergence becomes evident when comparing these figures with the number of consistent regular contributors.
  • The discernible gap between the total EPF enrollments and the count of regular contributors (46.33 million) underscores a significant segment of enrollments that fail to translate into steady and routine PF contributions.

Temporal Nature of EPF Enrollments:

  • The data provides insights into the nature of EPF enrollments, suggesting that a significant proportion of these enrollments are associated with temporary or casual employment arrangements marked by irregular PF contributions.

Concluding Implications:

  • The analysis of EPF data illuminates evolving dynamics within the realm of formal employment, revealing both growth and stagnation patterns in regular contributors.
  • The existence of a substantial divergence between total enrollments and consistent contributors highlights the prevalence of transient and irregular employment practices in the landscape of EPF affiliations.

Factors Leading to the Decline in Contributors:

  • EPFO Disputing Its Own Data and Halting Monthly Reports: The EPFO questioned its own data and ceased the regular publication of monthly reports on contributors.
  • Pandemic Exacerbating the Situation: The pandemic further deteriorated the scenario, resulting in a decrease in EPF contributors.
  • Neglect of Alternative Employment Data Sources: The Indian government overlooked other sources of formal employment data, such as the Directorate General of Employment and Training (DGET), which hasn’t been released since 2013.

Scenario of the Job Crisis in India:

  • Unemployment Rate According to NSO PLFS Report: The unemployment rate for the year 2021-22 was 4.1%, as indicated by the National Statistical Office’s Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) report.
  • LFPR Drop According to CMIE: India’s Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) declined to 39.5% in the fiscal year 2022-23, marking the lowest LFPR reading since 2016-17.
  • Record Low LFPR for Men and Women: The LFPR for men reached a seven-year low at 66%, while women’s LFPR was a mere 8.8%.
  • Definition of LFPR: LFPR signifies the proportion of the working-age population (15 years and above) that is either employed, unemployed, or actively seeking employment.

Causes of Low Employment in India:

  • Absence of Formal, Well-Paid, and Regular Employment: The lack of formal, adequately compensated, and consistent employment opportunities hinders the growth of India’s middle class, setting it apart from China’s economic model.
  • Quality Job Deficiency and Over-Qualification: The scarcity of high-quality jobs results in highly qualified young individuals competing for a limited number of job openings. This raises concerns about the validity of claims regarding robust economic growth.
  • Caste System Impact: India’s prevalent caste system restricts specific castes from accessing certain types of work in particular regions, further limiting employment opportunities.
  • Dependency in Joint Families: In large joint families engaged in substantial businesses, there may be individuals who do not contribute to work and instead rely on the collective family income.
  • Agricultural Dependence and Seasonal Employment: India’s workforce is heavily reliant on agriculture, an underdeveloped sector that offers seasonal employment, contributing to unstable job prospects.
  • Industrial Development’s Impact: The growth of large-scale industries has adversely affected cottage and small industries. As a result, production in cottage industries decreased, leading to unemployment among artisans.
  • Mismatch between Education and Job Demands: India’s education system does not align with the specialized skills demanded by jobs in the capitalist world. This mismatch leaves many individuals unemployed, despite their willingness to work.
  • Lack of Skill Development: A significant portion of the population lacks the necessary skills for specialized jobs, further exacerbating unemployment rates.

-Source: The Hindu


Hate Speech


Context:

Two-judge bench of the Supreme Court observed that defining hate speech is complex but the real problem in tackling hate speech lies in the implementation and execution of law and judicial pronouncements.

Relevance:

GS II- Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is “Hate Speech”?
  2. Laws related to hate speech in India
  3. Indian Penal Code on Hate Speech
  4. Observations of different institutions related to hate speech
  5. Rangila Rasool case
  6. Later cases

What is “Hate Speech”?

  • In general, “Hate Speech” refers to words whose intent is to create hatred towards a particular group, that group may be a community, religion or race.This speech may or may not have meaning, but is likely to result in violence.
  • BPRD Definition: The Bureau of Police Research and Development recently published a manual for investigating agencies on cyber harassment cases that defined hate speech as a “language that denigrates, insults, threatens or targets an individual based on their identity and other traits (such as sexual orientation or disability or religion etc.).”
  • According to the Law Commission of India, “Hate speech generally is an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief and the like. This, hate speech is any word written or spoken, signs, visible representations within the hearing or sight of a person with the intention to cause fear or alarm, or incitement to violence.”

Laws related to hate speech in India

Article 19 of the Constitution– Freedom of Speech and Expression is guaranteed to all the citizens of India. However, the right is subjected to reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

Indian Penal Code on Hate Speech
  • Section 295A defines and prescribes a punishment for deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
    • “Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to [three years], or with fine, or with both,” the IPC section reads.
  • According to Section 153A of IPC, “promotion of enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony”, is a punishable offence and attracts three years of imprisonment.
  • According to Section 505 of IPC, “Statements that promote mutiny by the armed forces, or causes such fear or alarm that people are induced to commit an offence against the state or public tranquillity; or is intended to incite or incites any class or community to commit an offence against another class or community”, will attract a jail term of up to three years under Section 505(1).
  • Under Section 505(2), “it is an offence to make statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes.
  • Under Section 505(3), the offence will attract up to a five-year jail term if it takes place in a place of worship, or in any assembly engaged in religious worship or religious ceremonies.

Observations of different institutions related to hate speech

  • The Supreme Court had observed that “hate speech is an effort to marginalize individuals based on their membership in a group. It seeks to delegitimize group members in the eyes of the majority, reducing their social standing and acceptance within society. It, therefore, rises beyond causing distress to individual group members and lays the groundwork for later, broad attacks on vulnerable….”
  • The Human Rights Council’s ‘Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression’ expressed that freedom of expression can be restricted on the following grounds:
    • Child pornography (to protect the rights of children).
    • Hate speech (to protect the rights of affected communities)
    • Defamation (to protect the rights and reputation of others against unwarranted attacks)
    • Direct and public incitement to commit genocide (to protect the rights of others)
    • Advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence (to protect the rights of others, such as the right to life).

Rangila Rasool case

  • Rangila Rasool was a tract — brought out by a Hindu publisher — that had made disparaging remarks about the Prophet’s private life. Cases against the first pamphlet, filed under Section 153A, were dismissed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which examined the question whether targeting religious figures is different from targeting religions.
  • When a second, similar piece was published, it raised tensions. While the magistrate had convicted the publisher Rajpaul under Section 153A, the Lahore High Court held that a “scurrilous and foul attack” on a religious leader would prima facie fall under Section 153A — although not every criticism.
  • This debate in interpretation prompted the colonial government to enact Section 295A with a wider scope to address these issues.
Later cases
  • In 1957, the constitutionality of Section 295A was challenged in Ramji Lal Modi v State of Uttar Pradesh.
    • The Supreme Court upheld the law on the grounds that it was brought in to preserve “public order”.
    • Public order is an exemption to the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to religion recognised by the Constitution.
  • In a 1960 ruling, in Baba Khalil Ahmed v State of Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court said that “malicious intent” of the accused can be determined not just from the speech in question but also from external sources.
  • In 1973, in Ramlal Puri v State of Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court said the test to be applied is whether the speech in question offends the “ordinary man of common sense” and not the “hypersensitive man”.
    • However, these determinations are made by the court and the distinction can often be vague and vary from one judge to the other.
  • In Baragur Ramachandrappa v State of Karnataka, a 2007 decision of the Supreme Court, “a pragmatic approach” was invoked in interpreting Section 295A.
    • The state government had issued a notification banning Dharmakaarana, a Kannada novel written by award-winning author P V Narayana on the ground that it was hate speech, invoking a gamut of provisions including Section 295A.
    • The pragmatic approach was to restore public order by “forfeiture” of a book over individual interest of free speech.

-Source: The Hindu


Nuclear Weapons and India


Context:

Recently, a Hollywood movie named ‘Oppenheimer’, based on the life of J Robert Oppenheimer- an American physicist who is known as the “father of the atomic bomb”, was released. In this context, the article tries to explain India’s nuclear journey and its Nuclear Doctrine. 

Relevance:

GS III: Security Challenges

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Historical Evolution of India’s Nuclear Programme
  2. India’s Nuclear Doctrine (2003)
  3. Challenges to India’s Nuclear Doctrine

Historical Evolution of India’s Nuclear Programme:

  • Formation of Nuclear Research Center (1945): The foundation of India’s nuclear program dates back to June 1945 when Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha established the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. This marked the initial step in India’s journey toward nuclear research and technology.
  • First Research Reactor (1956): In 1956, India achieved a significant milestone by constructing its first research reactor named Apsara. This reactor not only contributed to nuclear research but also held the distinction of being Asia’s first nuclear research reactor.
  • Plutonium Reprocessing Plant (1964): By 1964, India had established its first plutonium reprocessing plant, further advancing its nuclear capabilities. This step laid the foundation for India’s future developments in nuclear technology.
  • Geopolitical Context – Sino-Indian Conflict (1962): India’s military setback in the Sino-Indian War of October 1962 against China was a turning point. This defeat compelled the Indian government to consider nuclear weapons as a potential deterrent against future aggression. The threat of conflict provided impetus to India’s efforts in developing a nuclear arsenal.
  • China’s Nuclear Test (1964): China’s successful nuclear test in October 1964 further heightened security concerns in the region. This event added urgency to India’s pursuit of nuclear capabilities as a response to perceived security threats.

Pokhran-I Nuclear Test and Its Significance:

  • Raja Ramanna’s Leadership: Physicist Raja Ramanna played a pivotal role in spearheading scientific research on nuclear weapons. He led a team of scientists responsible for overseeing and executing the test.
  • Codename and Date: The test was codenamed ‘Smiling Buddha’ and was conducted on May 18, 1974, which coincided with Buddha Purnima, an important Buddhist festival.
  • Test Location: The detonation took place at the Pokhran Test Range, situated on an army base in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.
  • Non-Permanent UNSC Member: Notably, this event marked the first confirmed nuclear test conducted by a nation that was not a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
Subsequent Nuclear Tests – Pokhran-II:
  • Operation Shakti (1998): Building upon the foundation of the 1974 test, India conducted a series of nuclear tests. Three tests were carried out on May 11, and two more on May 13, 1998. This series was codenamed ‘Operation Shakti.’
  • Political and Strategic Impact: The tests were significant not only from a technological perspective but also politically. India’s leadership strategically leveraged the tests to gain greater autonomy in decision-making and to strengthen its position on the global stage.
  • International Reaction and Sanctions: The nuclear tests attracted international criticism and led to sanctions against India. However, this also created political space for India to assert its strategic autonomy.
Indo-US Nuclear Deal (2008):
  • Strategic Partnership: The political fallout of India’s nuclear tests played a role in shaping its future relations with major powers. The Indo-US nuclear deal, finalized in 2008, marked a significant turning point in India’s engagement with the international community.
  • Technology Cooperation: The nuclear deal paved the way for closer cooperation between India and the United States, extending to various fields such as defense, technology, and even artificial intelligence.

India’s Nuclear Doctrine (2003):

India’s nuclear doctrine outlines the principles and guidelines governing the deployment and use of its nuclear weapons. Released in January 2003, this doctrine reflects India’s approach to nuclear deterrence and its commitment to maintaining peace and security. The main points of India’s nuclear doctrine can be summarized as follows:

  • Credible Minimum Deterrent: India’s nuclear arsenal is aimed at establishing and maintaining a credible minimum deterrent to deter potential adversaries from initiating nuclear aggression.
  • No First Use (NFU): India adheres to a policy of “No First Use,” stating that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in any conflict. Nuclear weapons will only be employed in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or on Indian forces anywhere.
  • Massive Retaliation: If India is subjected to a nuclear attack, its response will be massive and intended to cause unacceptable damage to the aggressor.
  • Civilian Control: The authorization to use nuclear weapons for retaliatory strikes rests solely with India’s civilian political leadership through the Nuclear Command Authority.
  • Non-Use Against Non-Nuclear States: India commits to not using nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states.
  • Chemical and Biological Attack: While India’s policy is NFU, it retains the option to respond with nuclear weapons if attacked by chemical or biological weapons.
  • Export Controls: India maintains strict controls on the export of nuclear and missile-related materials and technologies.
  • Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty: India participates in negotiations for the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) and remains committed to this effort.
  • Nuclear Testing Moratorium: India continues to observe a moratorium on nuclear testing.
  • Global Disarmament: India is committed to pursuing global nuclear disarmament through verifiable and non-discriminatory means. It aims for a world free of nuclear weapons.

Challenges to India’s Nuclear Doctrine:

Slow Implementation of Nuclear Triad:

  • India’s nuclear triad, involving land, sea, and air-based nuclear capabilities, is still in the process of being fully realized.
  • The sea component, represented by nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines like INS Arighat, is facing delays in commissioning.

Doctrine Upgrade Necessity:

  • The current doctrinal principles, including ‘credible minimum deterrence’ (CMD), ‘No First Use’ (NFU), and massive retaliation, are seen as insufficient to effectively deter potential adversaries, namely China and Pakistan.

Chinese Nuclear Expansion:

  • China’s efforts to expand its nuclear arsenal and enhance its delivery systems challenge India’s commitment to maintaining a credible minimum deterrence.
  • It raises concerns about the sufficiency of India’s nuclear capabilities to deter China effectively.

Altered Regional Dynamics:

  • China’s assertive behavior, including border tensions and territorial disputes, questions the relevance and original intent of India’s ‘No First Use’ policy.

Technological Advancements:

  • Rapid advancements in nuclear technology, including missile defense systems, cyber capabilities, and hypersonic weapons, present new challenges to India’s nuclear posture and deterrence.

Emerging Threats:

  • The emergence of non-traditional security threats, such as cyberattacks and hybrid warfare, could undermine the effectiveness of India’s nuclear deterrence.

Strategic Relationships:

  • Evolving strategic partnerships, alliances, and changing geopolitical dynamics could impact India’s nuclear decision-making and posture.

Escalation Control:

  • Ensuring effective escalation control in a crisis situation remains a challenge, particularly given the potential for misinterpretation or miscalculation.

Public Debate and Political Consensus:

  • There is an ongoing debate within India about the need for revisiting the nuclear doctrine to address emerging challenges and geopolitical shifts. Achieving political consensus on any changes can be complex.

Arms Control and Disarmament Initiatives:

  • India’s approach to global arms control and disarmament efforts may need to be balanced with its national security imperatives and regional considerations.

-Source: Indian Express


Urban Flooding


Context:

There has been an increased incidence of high intensity Rainfall in short duration, causing Urban Flooding which is further compounded by unplanned growth, encroachment of natural water bodies, and Poor Drainage System.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Urban Flooding
  2. Causes
  3. Impacts

Urban Flooding

  • Urban flooding refers to the inundation of land or properties in built environments, particularly densely populated urban areas, due to rainfall overwhelming drainage systems.
  • Unlike rural floods, which occur over flat or low-lying regions, urban flooding is exacerbated by factors beyond precipitation, including unplanned urbanization.
  • This phenomenon can have significant environmental and social consequences. Here’s a breakdown of its causes and impacts:

Causes:

  • Unplanned Urbanization: New developments in low-lying city areas, often driven by increased land prices and limited availability, contribute to reduced natural drainage capacity. Encroachments on lakes, wetlands, and riverbeds further compound this issue.
  • Inadequate Drainage Infrastructure: Failure to widen natural drains to accommodate increased stormwater flows, coupled with large-scale encroachments, reduces the capacity of natural drainage systems, leading to flooding.
  • Climate Change: Higher frequency of intense, short-duration rainfall events due to climate change leads to increased water runoff, overwhelming drainage systems and causing flooding.
  • Urban Heat Island Effect: Urban areas experience localized, high-intensity rainfall when rain clouds pass over urban heat islands, where hot air pushes clouds upwards, resulting in concentrated and heavy rainfall.
  • Environmental Degradation: Tourism development and waste dumping harm water bodies, diminishing their natural protective capacities. Pollutants overflow during floods, posing risks to urban areas.
  • Unplanned Water Releases: Sudden and unplanned releases of water from dams and lakes during heavy rains contribute to urban flooding without giving the public sufficient time to respond.
  • Illegal Mining: Unauthorized extraction of river sand and quartzite for construction reduces water body capacity, accelerates water flow, and leads to soil erosion.

Impacts:

  • Property Damage: Urban flooding damages buildings, infrastructure, and properties, leading to substantial economic losses for individuals, businesses, and municipalities.
  • Displacement and Loss of Life: Residents may be forced to evacuate flooded areas, leading to temporary displacement. In extreme cases, urban flooding can result in loss of life.
  • Health Risks: Contaminated floodwater can pose health hazards due to pollutants and diseases, increasing the risk of waterborne illnesses among residents.
  • Infrastructure Strain: Floods strain urban infrastructure, disrupt transportation, and damage roads, bridges, and utilities.
  • Environmental Degradation: Floods can lead to soil erosion, sediment buildup, and loss of vegetation, affecting overall ecosystem health.
  • Economic Disruption: Urban flooding disrupts businesses, interrupts services, and impacts the local economy, potentially leading to job losses and decreased economic activity.
  • Long-Term Resilience: Frequent urban flooding may erode community resilience, as residents and local governments grapple with recovery and rebuilding efforts.

-Source: Indian Express, PIB


WHO’s Comprehensive Report on Tobacco Control Measures


Context:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently released a comprehensive report on tobacco control measures. The report evaluates the progress made globally since the introduction of the MPOWER measures – a set of strategies developed by WHO to combat tobacco use and its detrimental effects on health.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Major Highlights of the Report on Tobacco Control
  2. MPOWER Measures in Tobacco Control
  3. What is the Status of Tobacco Consumption in India?

Major Highlights of the Report on Tobacco Control:

  • Decline in Smoking Prevalence: Globally, smoking prevalence has decreased from 22.8% in 2007 to 17% in 2021, resulting in 300 million fewer smokers today.
  • Impact of MPOWER Measures: The WHO’s MPOWER measures have played a crucial role in tobacco control, protecting 71% of the global population (5.6 billion people) with at least one measure.
  • Increasing Implementation of MPOWER Measures: The number of countries implementing at least one MPOWER measure has risen from 44 in 2008 to 151 in 2022. Brazil, Turkiye, Netherlands, and Mauritius have successfully implemented all MPOWER measures.
  • Challenges to Address: While progress has been made, challenges remain. At least 44 countries do not implement any MPOWER measures, and 53 countries lack a complete ban on smoking in healthcare facilities.
  • Smoke-Free Environments: Only half of the countries enforce smoke-free workplaces and restaurants, highlighting the need for stronger enforcement.
  • Dangers of E-cigarettes: The report emphasizes the risks of e-cigarettes, with the tobacco industry’s promotion of them as safer alternatives undermining progress. E-cigarettes pose dangers to users and those around them, particularly indoors.
  • Second-Hand Smoke Impact: Approximately 1.3 million of the 8.7 million tobacco-related deaths annually are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke is linked to nearly 400,000 deaths due to heart disease and adversely affects children.
  • India’s Initiatives: India stands out in implementing health warning labels and providing tobacco dependence treatment. The country has banned e-cigarette sales and enforced smoking bans in healthcare and educational institutions.
  • Tobacco Control in Bengaluru: The city of Bengaluru has achieved notable progress in tobacco control through enforcement drives, ‘No Smoking’ sign displays, and awareness campaigns, resulting in a 27% reduction in smoking in public places.

MPOWER Measures in Tobacco Control:

MPOWER is a comprehensive framework established by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2008 to guide and promote effective tobacco control strategies. It encompasses six key strategies, each corresponding to a letter in the acronym MPOWER:

  • M: Monitor Tobacco Use and Prevention Policies: This strategy involves tracking the prevalence of tobacco use and the effectiveness of tobacco control policies. Monitoring provides essential data for assessing the impact of interventions and guiding future efforts.
  • P: Protect People from Tobacco Smoke: This strategy emphasizes creating smoke-free environments to safeguard non-smokers from exposure to second-hand smoke. Implementing laws and regulations that prohibit smoking in public places, workplaces, and indoor spaces helps reduce health risks.
  • O: Offer Help to Quit Smoking: Providing support and resources for individuals who want to quit smoking is crucial. This strategy includes promoting access to counseling, medication, and other cessation services to increase the likelihood of successful quitting.
  • W: Warn About the Dangers of Tobacco: Effective warning labels on tobacco products help educate consumers about the health risks associated with smoking. Striking graphic warnings and informative messages discourage tobacco use and inform users about potential harms.
  • E: Enforce Bans on Tobacco Advertising, Promotion, and Sponsorship: Restricting tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship reduces the industry’s ability to attract new users. Banning these activities helps prevent tobacco companies from targeting vulnerable populations, especially the youth.
  • R: Raise Taxes on Tobacco: Increasing taxes on tobacco products makes them less affordable and discourages consumption. Higher prices are a proven way to reduce tobacco use, particularly among younger individuals.

What is the Status of Tobacco Consumption in India?

The status of tobacco consumption in India is characterized by significant prevalence and associated health risks:

  • High Tobacco Users: As of the Global Adult Tobacco Survey India (2016-17), approximately 29% of all adults (15 years and above) in India are tobacco users. This translates to nearly 267 million adults using tobacco.
  • Prevalence of Smokeless Tobacco: Smokeless tobacco use is the most common form of tobacco consumption in India. This includes products like gutkha, paan, khaini, and zarda. Smokeless tobacco is often chewed or placed in the mouth, and it is a significant contributor to the overall tobacco consumption pattern in the country.
  • Health Impacts: Tobacco consumption is a major cause of death and disease in India. It is estimated to be responsible for nearly 1.35 million deaths annually. Tobacco use is linked to various serious health conditions, including cancers (oral, lung, and others), cardiovascular diseases, respiratory disorders, and other chronic illnesses.
  • Burden on Healthcare System: The health consequences of tobacco consumption place a substantial burden on India’s healthcare system. Treating tobacco-related diseases and conditions consumes a significant portion of healthcare resources.
  • Global Ranking: India is the second-largest consumer and producer of tobacco products in the world. The country’s large population and high prevalence of tobacco use contribute to these rankings.
  • Youth and Children: The tobacco epidemic in India extends to youth and children as well. Initiating tobacco use at a young age increases the risk of addiction and health complications later in life. Efforts to prevent tobacco initiation among the youth are crucial for reducing future tobacco-related health burdens.
  • Regulatory Measures: India has taken various regulatory measures to control tobacco consumption. These include graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging, restrictions on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, and bans on smoking in public places. Additionally, the sale of e-cigarettes has been banned in the country.
  • Continued Challenges: Despite these measures, tobacco consumption remains a significant public health challenge in India. Addressing cultural, economic, and social factors that contribute to tobacco use is essential for effective tobacco control.

-Source: Down To Earth


UNESCO Heritage Danger List


Context:

Recently, experts from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have stated in a new report that the Italian city of Venice should be added to a list of world heritage sites in danger.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. UNESCO World Heritage Danger List
  2. Key Facts about UNESCO

UNESCO World Heritage Danger List:

  • The UNESCO World Heritage Danger List includes sites that are deemed to be in imminent danger due to various factors, such as armed conflicts, natural disasters, pollution, urbanization, poaching, and unchecked tourism development.
  • Sites on the Danger List are identified based on specific and proven threats, as per guidelines and criteria established under the 1972 World Heritage Convention.

Key Facts about UNESCO:

  • Acronym: UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
  • Specialized Agency: UNESCO is a specialized agency of the United Nations, established with the goal of promoting international collaboration in the fields of education, science, and culture.
  • Constitution: The constitution of UNESCO came into effect in 1946, emphasizing the importance of fostering cooperation among nations in education, science, and culture.
  • Headquarters: UNESCO’s permanent headquarters are located in Paris, France.
  • Parent Organization: It operates under the framework of the United Nations and is part of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
  • Goals: UNESCO’s primary objectives are to contribute to global peace and security by fostering collaboration among nations through education, science, and culture. It also aims to promote sustainable development and intercultural dialogue.
  • Focus Areas: UNESCO believes that education, science, and culture are essential pillars for building a more just, peaceful, and inclusive world. It emphasizes the importance of preserving cultural heritage, promoting access to quality education, advancing scientific knowledge, and enhancing intercultural understanding.

-Source: Hindustan Times


Spike Non Line of Sight (NLOS) Anti-tank Guided Missile (ATGM)


Context:

The Indian Air Force recently received Israel’s Spike Non Line of Sight (NLOS) anti-tank guided missiles.

Relevance:

GS III: Defence

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Spike Non Line of Sight (NLOS) Anti-tank Guided Missile (ATGM)
  2. Key Features

Spike Non Line of Sight (NLOS) Anti-tank Guided Missile (ATGM):

The Spike NLOS is an advanced anti-tank and anti-personnel missile designed for precision strikes. Developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, an Israeli defense technology company, this versatile missile system offers several features and capabilities:

Key Characteristics:
  • Fire-and-Forget Capability: The Spike NLOS is a fire-and-forget missile, meaning that once launched, it does not require constant guidance from the operator, allowing the operator to engage other tasks.
  • Tandem-Charge Warhead: The missile is equipped with a tandem-charge high-explosive warhead, optimized for penetrating armored targets.
  • Variants: The Spike NLOS comes in man-portable, vehicle-launched, and helicopter-launched variants, providing flexibility in deployment and targeting.
  • Global Usage: It is employed by defense forces in various countries, including Israel, India, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Peru, Spain, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, UK, Philippines, and Singapore.
Key Features:
  • Range: The missile has a range of up to 30 kilometers, enabling it to engage targets at extended distances.
  • Weight: Weighing 71 kilograms, it offers a balance between portability and firepower.
  • Electro-Optical Seeker: The missile utilizes an electro-optical seeker for target acquisition and tracking. This seeker allows the launch operator to maintain visual contact with the target during the missile’s flight.
  • Datalink: The electro-optical seeker is linked to a datalink, enabling the launch operator to adjust the missile’s trajectory during flight, providing the capability to redirect the missile to different parts of a target or to select an alternative target.
  • Warhead Flexibility: The Spike NLOS can be equipped with various types of warheads suitable for engaging different types of targets, including tanks, air defense systems, or urban combat scenarios.

-Source: Indian Express


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