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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 21 June 2021

Contents

  1. WHO and Centre on Health infrastructure
  2. Delimitation exercise kicks off in Jammu & Kashmir
  3. India abstains on U.N. resolution on Myanmar
  4. Integrated Tri-service Theatre Commands
  5. Climate Change & Increase in sea level in Lakshadweep
  6. Conserving Assam temple turtles launched

WHO and Centre on Health infrastructure

Context:

  • The Centre told the Supreme Court that the nation’s health infrastructure has increased up to 45-fold to brace successive waves of COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised countries in the South-East Asia region to scale up and rigorously implement public health and social measures, along with efforts to accelerate vaccination for COVID-19, to prevent another surge, as more countries confirmed prevalence of highly transmissible variants of concern.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Health related issues, Government Policies regarding Health Infrastructure)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. India’s Current Healthcare System under strain
  2. Improvement in Health infrastructure in India
  3. WHO on implementing public health, social measures
  4. World Health Organization (WHO)

India’s Current Healthcare System under strain

  • While those involved in the clinical response are clearly doing their often-desperate best — care staff are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 — the Central and State governments are now coordinating measures within and across their respective jurisdictions. For example, the railways are running special trains carrying oxygen supplies, and the military is also involved in supply chains.
  • The Supreme Court has, suo motu, called for a national plan to deliver oxygen and vaccines.
  • The responses to the worsening COVID-19 crisis are, nevertheless, not free of tensions.
  • India’s fragmented clinics, hospitals, and variably functional primary health centres are plagued with various issues like corruption and underfunding along with being urban-centred and elite-focused.
  • India’s public spending on health is set to double in the 2021-22 financial year, but that is from a figure that has long been only a little over 1% of GDP.
  • In certain rural areas, the doctor-population ratio is over 1:40,000.
  • Medical expenses constitute the major reason for personal debt in India, whether the causes are episodic afflictions or, for example, those caused by environmental conditions which none can escape, such as air pollution.

Improvement in Health infrastructure in India

  • The Centre told the Supreme Court that the total ICU beds had increased by 45-fold from a baseline 2,500 to more than 1.1 lakh.
  • The total isolation beds (excluding ICU beds) have climbed 42-fold from 41,000 to over 17 lakhs.
  • The government said over 1.5 lakh health personnel have been engaged including medical officers, specialists, staff nurses, community volunteers, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) and ASHA facilitators along with other support staffs.
  • The affidavit said insurance coverage was given to more than 22 lakh heath workers, including ASHAs fighting COVID-19.
  • The Centre had further enhanced the ceiling limit for expenditure of State Disaster Response Fund from 35% to 50% in 2020-21 for States to finance COVID-19 containment measures.

WHO on implementing public health, social measures

  • A WHO statement said that the public health and social measures were part of a wide range of non-pharmaceutical interventions, both individual and societal, and were cost-effective measures to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and save lives.
  • WHO advised countries in the South-East Asia region to scale up and rigorously implement public health and social measures, along with efforts to accelerate vaccination for COVID-19.
  • A risk-based approach is needed for public health and social measures which should be implemented by the lowest administrative level and continuously adjusted to the intensity of transmission and the capacity of health systems.
  • The capacity of health systems includes both clinical care for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19, and public health services such as case detection, diagnostic testing and contact tracing.

World Health Organization (WHO)

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health.
  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Its main objective is ensuring “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.”
  • The WHO’s broad mandate includes advocating for universal healthcare, monitoring public health risks, coordinating responses to health emergencies, and promoting human health and well-being.
  • The World Health Assembly (WHA), composed of representatives from all 194 member states, serves as the agency’s supreme decision-making body.

-Source: The Hindu


Delimitation exercise kicks off in Jammu & Kashmir

Context:

The delimitation commission for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has kicked off the exercise by writing to all 20 District Commissioners (DC), seeking basic demographic, topographic information as well as the local administration’s impressions of political aspirations of the district.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Government Initiatives and Policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Delimitation?
  2. How delimitation is carried out?
  3. Delimitation Commission
  4. Delimitation Commission Act, 2002
  5. Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019
  6. About the current Delimitation exercise in Jammu & Kashmir

What is Delimitation?

  • Delimitation literally means the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country to represent changes in population.
  • Delimitation is done in order
    • to provide equal representation to equal segments of a population,
    • to facilitate Fair division of geographical areas so that one political party doesn’t have an advantage over others in an election.
    • To follow the principle of “One Vote One Value”.

How delimitation is carried out?

  • Under Article 82, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census.
  • Under Article 170, States also get divided into territorial constituencies as per Delimitation Act after every Census.
  • Once the Act is in force, the Union government sets up a Delimitation Commission.
  • The first delimitation exercise was carried out by the President (with the help of the Election Commission) in 1950-51.
  • The Delimitation Commission Act was enacted in 1952.
  • Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.
  • There was no delimitation after the 1981 and 1991 Censuses.

Delimitation Commission

  • The Delimitation commission (or Boundary commission) of India is a commission established by the Government of India under the provisions of the Delimitation Commission Act.
  • Hence, Delimitation Commission is a Statutory Body, based on Delimitation Commission Act was enacted in 1952.
  • Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.

Important Points about the Delimitation Commission:

  • The Delimitation Commission is appointed by the President of India and works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.
  • The main task of the commission is redrawing the boundaries of the various assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies based on a recent census.

The representation from each State is NOT CHANGED during this exercise.

  • However, the number of SC and ST seats in a state are changed in accordance with the census.
  • The present delimitation of constituencies has been done on the basis of 2001 census under the provisions of Delimitation Act, 2002.
  • The Commission is a powerful and independent body whose orders cannot be challenged in any court of law.
  • The orders are laid before the Lok Sabha and the respective State Legislative Assemblies. However, modifications are NOT permitted.

Delimitation Commission Act, 2002

  • An Act to provide for the readjustment of:
    • The allocation of seats in the House of the People to the States
    • The total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of each State
    • The division of each State and each Union territory having a Legislative Assembly into territorial constituencies for elections to the House of the People and Legislative Assemblies of the States and Union territories and for matters connected therewith.
  • Delimitation literally means the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country to represent changes in population.

Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019

  • The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019 was introduced in Rajya Sabha on August 5, 2019 by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Amit Shah.
  • The Bill provides for reorganisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh.
  • The Bill reorganises the state of Jammu and Kashmir into: (i) the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir with a legislature, and (ii) the Union Territory of Ladakh without a legislature.
  • The Union Territory of Ladakh will comprise Kargil and Leh districts, and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will comprise the remaining territories of the existing state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be administered by the President, through an administrator appointed by him known as the Lieutenant Governor.
  • The Union Territory of Ladakh will be administered by the President, through a Lieutenant Governor appointed by him.
  • The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir will be the common High Court for the Union Territories of Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir.  Further, the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will have an Advocate General to provide legal advice to the government of the Union Territory. 
  • The Legislative Council of the state of Jammu and Kashmir will be abolished.  Upon dissolution, all Bills pending in the Council will lapse.

About the current Delimitation exercise in Jammu & Kashmir

  • The commission for delimitation in Jammu Kashmir was set up in February-March 2020 to delineate Assembly and parliamentary constituencies and given a year’s extension in March 2020.
  • It is only after the completion of the delimitation exercise that elections for the Assembly can be held, although District Development Council (DDC) polls were held in 2020 on earlier patterns and based on the 2011 census.
  • The renewed push by the Central government for talks has raised hopes not only of early Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir but also of an eventual restoration of statehood, which was taken away under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, a reading down of Article 370 of the Constitution. For all this, the delimitation exercise, a laborious and sensitive process of carving out parliamentary and Assembly seats, has to be done.

The 2002-2008 exercise

  • The then State of Jammu and Kashmir (before reorganization) was kept out of the delimitation exercise when it was carried out in the rest of country (between 2002-2008), as delimitation of Assembly seats was under the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution and its separate Representation of People Act. After becoming a Union Territory, the delimitation commission was constituted and asked to mark out Assembly and Parliament seats.

-Source: The Hindu


India abstains on U.N. resolution on Myanmar

Context:

India has abstained on a U.N. General Assembly resolution on Myanmar, saying its views have not been reflected in the draft and New Delhi does not believe the resolution, tabled hastily, is conducive to “aiding our joint efforts towards strengthening democratic process” in the country.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important International Institutions, Foreign Policies and developments affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

Click Here to read more about UNGA

Click Here to read more about Myanmar’s military coup

About the UNGA resolution on Myanmar

  • The General Assembly adopted the draft resolution “The situation in Myanmar” with 119 Member States voting in favour, including Myanmar while 36 nations abstained, including Myanmar’s neighbours India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Laos, Nepal and Thailand. Russia also abstained. Belarus was the sole country voting against it.
  • The resolution expressed “grave concern” at the February 1 coup and called upon Myanmar’s military junta to immediately and unconditionally release President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other government officials, politicians and those arbitrarily detained or arrested.
  • It also called “upon all Member States to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar”.
  • The resolution called on the Myanmar armed forces to end the state of emergency and respect all human rights of all the people of the country.
  • It also called on Myanmar to allow the sustained democratic transition, “including the opening of the democratically elected Parliament and by working towards bringing all national institutions, including the armed forces, under a fully inclusive civilian government that is representative of the will of the people”.
  • It voiced concern at the human rights situation of persons belonging to ethnic, religious and other minorities in Myanmar, “including the Rohingya Muslim minority, in particular with respect to the violations committed against them and their rights related to citizenship status”.

India’s View of the resolution

  • India’s Permanent Representative to the UN said that this resolution was tabled in the U.N. General Assembly in a hasty manner without adequate consultations with neighbours and regional countries, adding that this is not only unhelpful but may also prove counter-productive to the efforts of the ASEAN to find a solution to the current situation in Myanmar.
  • India’s explanation said that as Myanmar’s immediate neighbour and close friend of its people, India is cognizant of the “serious impact of political instability” and the potential of its spillover beyond Myanmar’s borders.
  • India has been calling for greater engagement with the objective of peacefully resolving all issues.
  • However, India expressed its deep concern on the developments in Myanmar and strongly condemned the use of violence and urge maximum restraint.

Consultative, constructive approach suggested by India

  • India said that its views have not been reflected in the draft being considered for adoption and reiterated that a consultative and constructive approach involving the neighbouring countries and the region, remains important as the international community strives for the peaceful resolution of the issue.
  • India was also of the view that the fact that there is a lack of support from all neighbouring countries and several countries in the region itself “should, hopefully, serve as an eye-opener to those who chose to pursue a hasty course of action.

-Source: The Hindu


Integrated Tri-service Theatre Commands

Context:

A high-level committee consisting of representatives from the services and the Ministries concerned has been formed for wider consultations on the creation of integrated triservice theatre commands.

Relevance:

GS-III: Internal Security Challenges (Security Challenges & their Management in Border Areas, Security Forces and Agencies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Recent Move on formation of Integrated Theatre Command
  2. About the Integrated Triservice Theatre Commands
  3. Disadvantages of having an Integrated Tri-service Theatre Command

About the Recent Move on formation of Integrated Theatre Command

  • A high-level committee has been formed for the consultations on the creation of integrated triservice theatre commands that will examine all issues and find a way forward before a formal note on their creation is sent to the Cabinet Committee on Security.
  • The move was necessitated due to some aspects like bringing in paramilitary forces (which is under Home Ministry) under the purview of the theatre commands and financial implications that may arise in the process of integration.
  • The proposed Air Defence Command plans to integrate all air assets of the armed forces while the Maritime Theatre Command plans to bring in all assets of Navy, Coast Guard as well as coastal formations of Army and Air Force under one umbrella.

About the Integrated Triservice Theatre Commands

  • An integrated theatre command envisages a unified command of the three Services, under a single commander, for geographical theatres (areas) that are of strategic and security concern.
  • The commander of such a force will be able to bear all resources at his disposal — from the Army, the Indian Air Force, and the Navy — with seamless efficacy.
  • The integrated theatre commander will not be answerable to individual Services.
  • Integration and jointness of the three forces will avoid duplication of resources. The resources available under each service will be available to other services too.
  • The integrated theatre commander will not be answerable to individual Services, and will be free to train, equip and exercise his command to make it a cohesive fighting force capable of achieving designated goals.
  • The logistic resources required to support its operations will also be placed at the disposal of the theatre commander so that it does not have to look for anything when operations are ongoing.
  • This is in contrast to the model of service-specific commands which India currently has, wherein the Army, Air Force and Navy all have their own commands all over the country. In case of war, each Service Chief is expected to control the operations of his Service through individual commands, while they operate jointly.

Disadvantages of having an Integrated Tri-service Theatre Command

  • There has been no occasion, during actual warfare, when the three services have not operated with commendable cooperation.
  • Faraway land war and medium to high intensity wars are a distant possibility.
  • With increased communication networks, interaction between three organizations is easy, they can come on board, can plan without much consideration of spatial distance, so there is no need for a new organisation.
  • Domain knowledge of the integrated force commander is likely to be limited in respect of the other two Services components under his command, thereby limiting his ability to employ them in the most suitable manner and at the appropriate time.

-Source: The Hindu


Climate Change & Increase in sea level in Lakshadweep

Context:

A team of scientists under the Climate Change Programme (CCP), studied the Climate projections of sea level rise and associated coastal inundation in atoll islands, a ring-shaped coral reef or island.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Climate Change and its issues, Environmental Pollution and Degradation 

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Lakshadweep
  2. Highlights of the study on rising sea levels
  3. Sea Level Rise

About Lakshadweep

  • India’s smallest Union Territory, Lakshadweep is an archipelago consisting of 36 islands with an area of 32 sq km.
  • There are three main group of islands: Amindivi Islands, Laccadive Islands, Minicoy Island.
  • All are tiny islands of coral origin (Atoll) and are surrounded by fringing reefs.
  • The Capital is Kavaratti and it is also the principal town of the UT.
  • These islands are a part of Reunion Hotspot volcanism.
  • The entire Lakshadweep islands group is made up of coral deposits.
  • Fishing is the main occupation on which livelihoods of many people depend.
  • The Lakshadweep islands have storm beaches consisting of unconsolidated pebbles, shingles, cobbles, and boulders.
  • Minicoy Island, located to the south of the nine-degree channel is the largest island among the Lakshadweep group.
  • 8 Degree Channel (8 degrees north latitude) separates islands of Minicoy and Maldives.
  • 9 Degree Channel (9 degrees north latitude) separates the island of Minicoy from the main Lakshadweep archipelago.
  • In the Lakshadweep region, there is an absence of forests.
  • Pitti Island is an important breeding place for sea turtles and for a number of pelagic birds such as the brown noddy, lesser crested tern and greater crested tern. The Pitti island has been declared a bird sanctuary.

Highlights of the study on rising sea levels

  • The study highlights that the worst possible inundation scenarios projected for Lakshadweep Islands are almost similar under different emission scenarios projected and all the islands in the archipelago would be vulnerable to impact from sea-level rise.
  • One of the major threats in the coming years is rising sea level and its significant impact on small islands and this is for the first time, that climate model projections were used to assess the potential areas of inundation over the archipelago of Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea.

Loss of Land expected in Lakshadweep

  • The study estimated that smaller islands Chetlat and Amini are expected to have major land-loss.
  • Projection mapping indicated that about 60%-70% of existing shoreline would experience land-loss in Amini and about 70%-80% in Chetlat.
  • The present work highlights that, larger islands Minicoy and the capital Kavaratti are also vulnerable to sea-level rise, and expected to experience land-loss along 60% of the existing shoreline.
  • Sea-level rise effects are seen to have the least impact on Androth Island under all emission scenarios.

Sea Level Rise

  • Sea Level Rise is an increase in the level of the world’s oceans due to the effects of climate change, especially global warming, induced by three primary factors: Thermal Expansion, Melting Glaciers and Loss of Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets.
  • Sea level is primarily measured using tide stations and satellite laser altimeters.

Factors leading to Sea Level Rise

  • Thermal Expansion: When water heats up, it expands. About half of the sea-level rise over the past 25 years is attributable to warmer oceans simply occupying more space.
  • Melting Glaciers: Higher temperatures caused by global warming have led to greater-than-average summer melting of large ice formations like mountain glaciers as well as diminished snowfall due to later winters and earlier springs. That creates an imbalance between runoff and ocean evaporation, causing sea levels to rise.
  • Loss of Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets: As with mountain glaciers, increased heat is causing the massive ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica to melt more quickly, and also move more quickly into the sea.

-Source: The Hindu


Conserving Assam temple turtles launched

Context:

Recently, the Assam forest department has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with two Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and adopted a Vision Document to raise at least 1,000 black softshell turtles by 2030.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation of Ecology and Biodiversity, Species in news)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Black softshell turtle
  2. Turtles and Turtle conservation in India

About Black softshell turtle

  • The black softshell turtle or Bostami turtle is a species of freshwater turtle found in India (Assam) and Bangladesh (Chittagong and Sylhet).
  • Previously declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2002, these turtles were found still to exist in a temple’s pond called the Hayagriva Madhava Temple located in Assam, India.
  • Through conservation methods and protection of the species, some of these turtles can be found today throughout the wild, and scientists and environmental biologists are continuing to work hard to preserve this endangered species and their natural habitat.
  • Originally native to the lower Brahmaputra River, the only population ever reliably known consists of a small number of the species in a man-made pond which is part of the Bayazid Bostami shrine at Chittagong, where they are dependent on humans for survival. To the locals and worshipers, the black softshell turtle is known as mazari (“Mazar inhabitant”); specimens from this shrine were used in the first scientific description.
  • A freshwater species and there are 29 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises found in India.
  • They are found in ponds of temples in northeastern India and Bangladesh. Its distribution range also includes the Brahmaputra River and its tributaries.
  • It is listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List and also in Appendix 1 of CITES. However, it does not find any legal protection under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (WPA).
  • Consumption of turtle meat and eggs, silt mining, encroachment of wetlands and change in flooding pattern are the major threats faced by the species.

Turtles and Turtle conservation in India

  • There are five turtle species in Indian waters — Leatherback, Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Green and Olive Ridley.
  • In India sea turtles are protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, under the Schedule I Part II.
  • Every year, thousands of sea turtles are accidentally captured, injured or killed by mechanised boats, trawl nets and gill nets operated and used by comercial fishermen.
  • The turtle breeding season is usually between November and December. In Tamil Nadu, for example, the Olive Ridley nests between December and April along the Chennai-Kancheepuram coastline.
  • Sea turtles, especially the leatherback, keep jellyfish under control, thereby helping to maintain healthy fish stocks in the oceans.
  • The Green turtle feeds on sea grass beds and by cropping the grass provide a nursery for numerous species of fish, shellfish and crustaceans.

-Source: The Hindu

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