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Current Affairs 19 December 2023

  1. The LEADS [Logistics Ease Across Different States] 2023 Report
  2. Arctic Report Card 2023: Impact of Extreme Weather and Climate Events
  3. e-Cigarettes
  4. Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra
  5. Ketamine
  6. Noma disease
  7. Mount Vinson


Context:

As many as 11 States and two UTs have been named as ‘Achievers’ in the LEADS [Logistics Ease Across Different States] 2023 report released by the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoC&I).

Relevance:

GS II: Government policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Aricle:

  1. Logistics Market in India
  2. Need for a Holistic Logistics Policy in India
  3. Government Initiatives to Improve the Logistics Market
  4. LEADS (Logistics Ease Across Different States)
  5. Prospects for India’s Logistics Sector: China-Plus-One Strategy Perspective

Logistics Market in India:

  • Definition: Logistics involves the efficient planning and execution of the transportation and storage of goods from the origin to the consumption point.
  • Objective: The primary goal of logistics is to fulfill customer requirements in a timely and cost-effective manner.
  • Market Value: The estimated worth of the Indian logistics market exceeds USD 200 billion.
  • Employment Impact: The logistics sector provides livelihoods for more than 22 million people in India.

Need for a Holistic Logistics Policy in India:

  • Rationale: The necessity for a national logistics policy arises due to the comparably high logistics costs in India when juxtaposed with other developed economies.
  • Competitiveness Enhancement: Reducing logistics costs is crucial for enhancing the competitiveness of Indian goods, both in domestic and export markets.
  • Economic Efficiency: Lowering logistics costs contributes to overall economic efficiency, fostering value addition and enterprise across various sectors.
  • Encouraging Factors: An effective logistics policy is expected to encourage efficiency, streamline processes, and create a favorable environment for businesses to thrive.
  • Strategic Impact: A holistic logistics policy is strategic in bolstering India’s position in the global market, fostering economic growth and trade relations.

Government Initiatives to Improve the Logistics Market:

National Logistics Policy (September 2022):
  • Launched by the Indian government to ensure a smooth flow of goods across the country.
  • Aims to boost the development of an integrated logistics ecosystem.
  • Anticipated outcomes include a reduction in time, wastage, and overall logistics costs.
  • Emphasizes sustainability in logistics operations.
PM GATI Shakti Master Plan (2021):
  • Introduced to enhance integrated planning and coordinated implementation of infrastructure connectivity projects.
  • Establishes a digital platform bringing together 16 Ministries, including Railways and Roadways.
  • Focuses on streamlining planning and execution for improved infrastructure development.
Bharat Mala Pariyojana:
  • Government approval for the development of 35 New Multi-Modal logistics Parks under Bharat Mala Pariyojana.
  • Aims to reduce logistics costs by creating efficient and interconnected logistics hubs.
Air Cargo Terminals for Export Promotion:
  • Construction of 40 air cargo terminals to promote export activities.
  • Provision of cold-storage facilities in 30 airports to support the storage and transportation of goods with specific temperature requirements.

LEADS (Logistics Ease Across Different States):

  • Conceived in 2018 by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), MoC&I.
  • Modeled after the Logistics Performance Index (LPI) of the World Bank.

Methodology:

  • LEADS incorporates both perception-based surveys and objective data.
  • Aims to enhance robustness and comprehensiveness in evaluating logistics performance.

Pillars Evaluated:

LEADS assesses performance across three key pillars:

  • Logistics Infrastructure
  • Logistics Services
  • Operating and Regulatory Environment

Annual Exercise – LEADS 2023:

  • The 5th edition of LEADS provides insights into the improvement of logistics performance at the State/Union Territory (UT) level.
  • Highlights positive shifts in States’ performance across key pillars.
Significance of LEADS:
  • Encourages healthy competition among States/UTs to improve logistics performance.
  • 23 States/UTs align their State Logistics Policies with the National Logistics Policy.
  • 16 States/UTs grant industry status to logistics.
  • Enhances the overall competitiveness of the Indian logistics ecosystem and its global positioning.
India’s Global Ranking:
  • India improves its Logistics Performance Index (LPI) rank by 6 places, reaching the 38th position in 2023.
  • Digital reforms, including PM GatiShakti, Logistics Data Bank, Unified Logistics Interface Platform (ULIP), and GST, contribute to this advancement.
Collaborative Approach:
  • The LEADS report is developed collaboratively and through consultation, bringing objectivity to the assessment of infrastructure development and process-related reforms.
Impact:
  • Empowers State/UT Governments with region-specific insights for informed decision-making and comprehensive growth.
  • Reflects a positive shift in States’ performance, signaling the effectiveness of various reforms and stakeholders’ perceptions.

Prospects for India’s Logistics Sector: China-Plus-One Strategy Perspective

  • Coined in 2013, China-Plus-One is a global business strategy diversifying investments beyond China.

Western Investment Trends in China:

  • Over the last 30 years, Western companies heavily invested in China.
  • Attracted by low labor and production costs, and the substantial size of the domestic consumer market.
  • Resulted in an overconcentration of business interests in China.

Collective Supply Chain Roadmap:

  • Economies, including India, unveiled a roadmap to establish collective and resilient supply chains.
  • A response to the risks associated with over-reliance on a single market.
  • Includes measures to counter supply chain dependencies and vulnerabilities.

Role of India’s Logistics Sector:

  • The Logistics sector identified as a cornerstone for India’s growth.
  • Aims for tenfold economic expansion from $3.5 trillion to $35 trillion by 2047.
  • Critical in facilitating diversified business operations under the China-Plus-One strategy.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released its 18th Annual Arctic Report Card, highlighting the profound impact of extreme weather and Climate Events on the Arctic.

Relevance:

GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Arctic Report Card 2023: Key Highlights
  2. About Arctic and Arctic Report Card

Arctic Report Card 2023: Key Highlights

Record Summer Warmth:
  • The Arctic experienced its warmest summer on record in 2023.
  • The region has warmed nearly four times faster than the global average since 1979.
  • Ranked as the sixth warmest year in the Arctic since 1900.
Impact of Extreme Weather:
  • Unprecedented wildfires, leading to evacuations, decline in sea ice extent, severe floods, food insecurity, and rising sea levels.
  • Direct consequences on ecosystems, human health, and cultural practices.
Thawing Permafrost and Greenhouse Gas Release:
  • Warmer ocean temperatures accelerating subsea permafrost thaw, releasing methane and carbon dioxide.
  • Concerns about the unknown extent and impact of released greenhouse gases.
Decline in Salmon Populations:
  • Western Alaska saw significant reductions in Chinook and chum salmon populations.
  • Impacts Indigenous communities with cultural, food security, and economic implications.
Worst Wildfire Season in Canada:
  • Canada experienced its worst wildfire season, affecting 40% of Arctic and Northern lands.
  • Over 10 million acres burned in the Northwest Territories, leading to evacuations and air quality issues.
Mendenhall Glacier Thinning and Flooding:
  • Dramatic thinning of Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier over the past two decades.
  • Glacier meltwater causing annual floods, with a notable event in August 2023 causing severe property damage.
Greenland Ice Sheet Melting:
  • Greenland’s ice sheet melted for the fifth time in 34 years.
  • Despite above-average winter snow accumulation, the ice sheet lost approximately 350 trillion pounds of mass between August 2022 and September 2023.
  • Significant contributor to sea-level rise.

About Arctic and Arctic Report Card

Arctic
  • The Arctic is the northernmost polar region on Earth, characterized by seasonally changing snow and ice cover on its land.
  • This expansive area includes the Arctic Ocean, surrounding seas, and portions of Alaska (United States), Canada, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden.
Arctic Report Card
  • The Arctic Report Card, issued annually since 2006, serves as a timely and peer-reviewed resource.
  • Providing clear, reliable, and concise information, it offers insights into the current state of various Arctic environmental components compared to historical records.
  • This report is a valuable reference for understanding the ongoing changes in the Arctic environmental system.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged governments to treat e-cigarettes similarly to tobacco and ban all flavors, threatening cigarette companies’ bets on smoking alternatives.

Relevance:

GS II: Government policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are e-Cigarettes?
  2. Concerns Raised by WHO Regarding e-Cigarettes
  3. Arguments in Favor of e-Cigarettes

What are e-Cigarettes?

  • e-Cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid into an aerosol for inhalation and exhalation.
  • The liquid typically includes nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerin, flavorings, and other chemicals.
  • These devices, also known as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) or electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENNDS), come in various types.

Concerns Raised by WHO Regarding e-Cigarettes

  • Effectiveness: E-cigarettes are not proven effective at the population level for quitting tobacco use, and evidence suggests adverse health effects.
  • Marketing and Accessibility: Aggressive marketing, especially targeting young people, combined with inadequate regulations, raises significant concerns.
  • Global Regulations: Thirty-four countries ban e-cigarette sales, 88 have no minimum age restrictions, and 74 lack regulations for these products.
Recruitment and Trapping of Youth
  • Early Age Usage: Children and young people are at risk of early e-cigarette use, potentially leading to nicotine addiction.
  • Marketing Influence: Aggressive marketing, coupled with lax regulations, contributes to the recruitment of young users.
  • Global Trends: Youth e-cigarette use rates surpass those of adults in all WHO regions.
Alarming Trends in Specific Regions
  • Canada: E-cigarette use among 16–19-year-olds doubled between 2017–2022.
  • England (UK): The number of young e-cigarette users tripled in the past three years.
Health Risks and Unknowns
  • Long-term Effects: While the long-term health impact is not fully understood, e-cigarettes produce toxic substances linked to cancer, heart, and lung disorders.
  • Developmental Risks: E-cigarette use can affect brain development, cause learning disorders in young people, and harm fetal development in pregnant women.
Addictive Nature of Nicotine
  • Highly Addictive: E-cigarettes with nicotine are highly addictive, posing health risks to users and bystanders.
  • Counteracting Addiction: Concerns arise about countering nicotine addiction, particularly among young users.

Arguments in Favor of e-Cigarettes

Harm Reduction Strategy:
  • Proponents contend that e-cigarettes provide a harm reduction strategy in comparison to traditional tobacco products.
  • While containing nicotine, they lack many of the harmful carcinogens found in conventional cigarettes, making them a potentially safer alternative.
  • Seen as a viable option for adult smokers who may be unwilling or unable to quit nicotine use completely.
Reduced Carcinogens:
  • E-cigarettes are argued to be devoid of numerous harmful carcinogens present in traditional cigarettes, reducing the health risks associated with tobacco consumption.
  • This aspect makes e-cigarettes a potentially less harmful option for adults who choose to continue using nicotine.
Economic Benefits:
  • An economic argument suggests that legalizing and regulating e-cigarettes could result in significant tax revenue for governments.
  • Taxing e-cigarettes would not only generate revenue but also provide authorities with a means to control and monitor their usage, potentially curbing illicit markets.
Consumer Choice and Access:
  • Supporters emphasize the importance of consumer choice, advocating for the availability of alternatives in the market.
  • Adults who struggle with traditional smoking cessation methods should have the option to choose less harmful nicotine delivery systems according to proponents.
  • The argument centers on providing choices to adult smokers seeking alternatives to conventional tobacco products.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

PM Modi is on a two-day visit to Varanasi where he addressed a Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra event. He is also scheduled to inaugurate the second edition of the Kashi Tamil Sangamam during this visit.

Relevance:

GS I: Culture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra
  2. Kashi Tamil Sangamam

Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra:

  • Government initiative to raise awareness and monitor the implementation of key central schemes.
  • Schemes include Ayushman Bharat, Ujjwala Yojana, PM Surkasha Bima, PM SVANidhi, etc.
Aims:
  • Reach eligible but unbenefitted vulnerable populations.
  • Disseminate information and create awareness about various schemes.
  • Interact with beneficiaries through personal stories/experience sharing.
  • Enroll potential beneficiaries based on Yatra-derived details.
Implementation:
  • Active involvement of Union ministries and state governments in the program.
Achievements:
  • Over 2.50 crore citizens reached in just one month across 68,000 Gram Panchayats.
  • Nearly 2 crore individuals participated in Viksit Bharat Sankalp.
  • Over 2 crore beneficiaries shared their experiences through the ‘Meri Kahani Meri Zubani’ initiative, according to government’s PIB.

About Kashi Tamil Sangamam

  • The Kashi Tamil Sangamam commemorates a variety of characteristics of the North and South of India’s shared history and culture.
  • The overarching goal is to strengthen the bonds between the peoples of the North and the South by bringing their respective knowledge systems and cultural traditions closer together.
  • It is being put on by the Ministry of Education in association with the Government of Uttar Pradesh and other ministries including Culture, Textiles, Railways, Tourism, Food Processing, Information & Broadcasting, etc.
  • The project is in line with the National Education Policy (NEP), which places a strong emphasis on fusing the richness of Indian Knowledge Systems with contemporary knowledge systems by the year 2020.
  • The program’s two implementing organisations are IIT Madras and Banaras Hindu University (BHU).

Cultural Significance:

  • In order to construct a temple for Lord Shiva, King Parakrama Pandya of the area around Madurai in the 15th century travelled to Kashi (Uttar Pradesh) and brought back a lingam.
  • He took a break under a tree while travelling back, but when he tried to move on, the cow carrying the lingam stood still.
  • When Parakrama Pandya realised that this was the Lord’s intention, he put the lingam in the area, which later became known as Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu.
  • The Pandyas had constructed the Kasi Viswanathar Temple for devotees who could not go to Kashi at what is now Tenkasi in southern Tamil Nadu, near to the state’s border with Kerala.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

Recently, the autopsy report for Matthew Perry, stating that the actor’s cause of death was the “acute effects of ketamine,” which has sparked concerns and questions about the use of this medication.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Ketamine
  2. Schedule X Drugs

About Ketamine:

  • Ketamine, also known as Ketalar, is a medicinal substance utilized by doctors to induce anesthesia and alleviate pain during surgical procedures.
Chemical Origins and Mechanism:
  • Derived from Phencyclidine (PCP), a hallucinogenic drug.
  • Operates by blocking the NMDA receptor in the brain and spinal cord.
  • Increases the release of the neurotransmitter glutamate.
Medical Applications:
  • Classified as a dissociative anesthetic with psychedelic properties.
  • Used strictly under medical supervision for anesthesia.
  • Also employed in the treatment of conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, end-of-life distress, chronic pain, and substance abuse issues.
Impact on the Body:
  • Induces hallucinations and distorts sight and sound perceptions.
  • Leads to a sense of disconnection and loss of control.
  • Can result in unconsciousness and memory loss.
Regulatory Status in India:
  • Classified as a Schedule X drug in India.
  • Subject to stringent control and monitoring on a case-specific basis by the prescribing doctor.

Schedule X Drugs:

  • Schedule X drugs are categorized as “restrictive drugs” under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Rules.
Scope:
  • The list of Schedule X drugs encompasses over 536 pharmaceutical substances.
Composition:
  • Schedule X includes Narcotic and Psychotropic drugs.
  • These drugs are known to induce effects such as delusion, hallucination, psychosis, sedation, and hypnosis.
Prescription Requirement:
  • Sale of Schedule X drugs is strictly regulated and permitted only through a prescription.
  • These prescriptions must be issued by a registered medical practitioner, emphasizing the importance of professional medical oversight.
Control Measures:
  • The classification of drugs under Schedule X signifies a high level of regulatory control and monitoring.
  • The intention is to ensure that these substances are dispensed and used responsibly under the guidance of qualified healthcare professionals.
Purpose:
  • Schedule X aims to strike a balance between making certain medications available for therapeutic use while preventing their misuse or potential harm due to their psychotropic or narcotic nature.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the inclusion of noma (cancrum oris or gangrenous stomatitis) in its official list of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Noma Disease

  • Definition: Noma disease is a rapidly progressing severe gangrenous condition that primarily affects the mouth and face.
  • Aliases: Also known as cancrum oris or gangrenous stomatitis.
  • Geographical Prevalence: Predominantly found in sub-Saharan Africa.
Affected Population:
  • Primarily targets children aged 2–6 years.
  • Common among those suffering from malnutrition, infectious diseases, living in extreme poverty, and experiencing poor oral health or weakened immune systems.
  • Occurs among immunocompromised adults, including those with HIV, leukemia, and other diseases.
Progression:
  • Begins as a soft tissue lesion (sore) of the gums.
  • Develops into acute necrotizing gingivitis, rapidly destroying soft tissues.
  • Progresses to involve hard tissues and the facial skin.
Transmission and Contagiousness:
  • Generally considered opportunistic and non-contagious.
  • Cases reported outside sub-Saharan Africa, including Asia-Pacific, the Americas, the Middle East, and Europe.
  • Evidence suggests causative agents are non-specific polymicrobial organisms.
  • No documented evidence supports direct person-to-person transmission.
Treatment:
  • Early detection crucial, with therapy most effective in the early stages (aggressively swollen gums).
  • Treatment involves prescription of widely available antibiotics.
  • Recommendations and support for improved oral hygiene.
  • Use of disinfectant mouthwash.
  • Nutrition supplements may be advised.
Conclusion:
  • Noma disease poses a severe threat, particularly to vulnerable populations in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions.
  • Timely intervention and comprehensive treatment strategies are essential for managing and preventing the progression of this devastating condition.

-Source: WHO



Context:

Recently, Kerala government employee Shaikh Hassan Khan has climbed Mount Vinson.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Mount Vinson and the Ellsworth Mountains
  2. Ellsworth Mountains: Key Facts

Mount Vinson and the Ellsworth Mountains:

Mount Vinson:
  • Mount Vinson stands as the highest mountain in Antarctica.
  • Soaring to an elevation of 4,892 meters (16,050 feet) above sea level.
  • Positioned within the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains, near the Ronne Ice Shelf.
  • Together with the next five highest summits in the vicinity, Mount Vinson is part of the Vinson Massif.
Vinson Massif:
  • Vinson Massif encompasses Mount Vinson and the five other prominent mountains in the same area.
  • The collective term refers to the next five highest summits on the continent of Antarctica.
Geographical Location:
  • Mount Vinson is situated approximately 1,200 kilometers from the South Pole.
  • The region ranks among the coldest places on Earth.

Ellsworth Mountains: Key Facts:

  • The Ellsworth Mountains constitute the mountain ranges in Antarctica.
  • This mountainous region spans a length of 360 kilometers (224 miles) and a width of 48 kilometers (30 miles), configured in a north-to-south alignment.
  • The Minnesota Glacier bisects the Ellsworth Mountains, giving rise to the Sentinel Range in the north and the Heritage Range in the south.
  • The Sentinel Range, notably higher and more spectacular, hosts Mount Vinson, the highest point on the Antarctic continent.

-Source: The Hindu


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