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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 20 January 2024

  1. Traditional Indian Medicine Goes Global
  2. Improving Climate Resilience


Context:

The global dissemination of Traditional Indian Medicine is currently experiencing a significant transformation under the leadership of the Ministry of Ayush, marking a pivotal shift in merging ancient wisdom with contemporary healthcare practices. Ayush, emphasizing the body’s innate healing capabilities and the equilibrium of mind, body, and consciousness, seeks to bridge the gap between ancient healing traditions and modern medical approaches.

Relevance:

GS-2

  • Health
  • Issues Arising Out of Design and Implementation of Policies
  • Management of Social Sector/Services

Mains Question:

With reference to the recently established Global Centre of Traditional Medicine in Jamnagar, Gujarat, analyse the necessity of bridging the gap between ancient healing traditions and modern medical approaches. How successful have the Ministry of Ayush’s efforts been in this regard? (15 Marks, 250 Words).

Traditional Medicine Systems:

  • As per the World Health Organization (WHO), traditional medicine refers to the cumulative knowledge, skills, and practices employed by diverse cultures over time to preserve health and address physical and mental illnesses through prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
  • Its scope encompasses both ancient methods like acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine, and herbal remedies, as well as contemporary medicinal approaches.
  • In the context of India, traditional medicine is often described to include practices and therapies such as yoga, Ayurveda, and Siddha.
  • These therapies, deeply rooted in Indian tradition, also incorporate practices like homeopathy that have become integral to the Indian healthcare tradition over the years.
  • Ayurveda and yoga enjoy widespread practice throughout the country, while the Siddha system is predominantly followed in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
  • Furthermore, the Sowa-Rigpa system finds application primarily in Leh-Ladakh and Himalayan regions such as Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling, Lahaul & Spiti.
  • Throughout history, India has been a custodian of diverse Traditional Medicine Systems with practitioners passing down holistic healthcare values across generations.
  • In the era of globalization, the need for universally recognized and evidence-based medical systems has become imperative to cater to a global population with consistent medical practices.

Recent Developments in this Context:

  • The Ministry of Ayush has established a robust framework to address this, exemplified by the recent inauguration of the Global Centre of Traditional Medicine in Jamnagar, Gujarat, by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • This signifies a landmark in the global acceptance of traditional medicine, reflecting a paradigm shift in international healthcare towards recognizing the potential benefits of Traditional Medicine (TM).
  • GCTM serves as a global knowledge hub for traditional medicine, representing the initial and sole international outpost center dedicated to traditional medicine worldwide.
  • Situated in Jamnagar, Gujarat, India, the WHO GCTM has received substantial support from India, its primary investor, with an estimated investment of around US$ 250 million dedicated to establishing, developing infrastructure, and facilitating operations of the Centre.
  • The primary objectives behind establishing GCTM include:

Integration with Technological Advancements:

The Centre aims to unlock the potential of traditional medicine by combining it with technological advancements and evidence-based research.

Setting Policies and Standards:

GCTM seeks to establish policies and standards related to traditional medicine products, aiding countries in creating a comprehensive, safe, and high-quality healthcare system.

Supporting WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy:

GCTM is committed to supporting the implementation of the WHO’s Traditional Medicine Strategy (2014-23). It strives to assist nations in formulating policies and action plans to enhance the role of traditional medicine, aligning with the universal health coverage goal.

Focus on Four Main Strategic Areas:

The Centre concentrates its efforts on four key strategic domains: Evidence and learning, Data and analytics, Sustainability and equity, and Innovation and technology. These areas are pivotal in optimizing the contribution of traditional medicine to global health.

  • It is noteworthy that, as per WHO estimates, a significant 80% of the world’s population utilizes traditional medicine.
  • In a new wave of international medical revolution, the Ministry of Ayush aims to integrate terminologies related to various diseases in Ayush healthcare, Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani into the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) 11.
  • The ICD, a crucial instrument for member countries like India, facilitates the collection of data on various diseases and mortality statistics.
  • Previously, data primarily focused on biomedical conditions, excluding information from Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani systems.
  • The inclusion of Ayush within the ICD will enable international standardization, allowing for measurement, comparison, and monitoring over time.
  • India is committed to implementing the ICD 11 TM2 module for collecting morbidity statistics, which will have implications for public healthcare, Ayush insurance coverage, research and development, policymaking, and future disease prevention strategies.
  • Infectious diseases like Malaria and lifestyle diseases such as Chronic Insomnia will be classified under this system.
  • Diseases like Giddiness disorder in Ayurveda, Azal Kirukiruppu in Siddha, and Sadr-O-Duwar in Unani will be released as glossary codes by WHO through ICD11.

Significance of the Above Move:

  • The incorporation of TM2 into ICD-11 encourages rigorous scientific evaluation of traditional practices, fostering robust research on Traditional Medicine modalities.
  • This inclusion facilitates cross-cultural collaboration, promoting a more comprehensive understanding of health and disease.
  • It opens avenues for innovative and inclusive healthcare solutions, expanding access to healthcare and encouraging cost-effective interventions.
  • The effort to standardize Ayurveda-Unani-Siddha terminologies led to the creation of the National Ayush Morbidity and Standardized Terminologies Electronic (NAMASTE) Portal in 2017, providing a platform for testing and validating traditional diagnoses.

Conclusion:

The Donor Agreement between the Ministry of Ayush and WHO in 2020 marked a significant breakthrough, intensifying the global reach of traditional medicine. This momentum has prompted other WHO member countries to consider adopting a similar format for including Traditional Medicine diseases in the ICD, reflecting a growing demand for a holistic approach to patient care. Every nation should dedicate themselves to exploring optimal methods for incorporating traditional and complementary medicine into their domestic healthcare systems to harness the true potential of traditional medicine.



Context:

Earlier this week marked the 150th anniversary of the India Meteorological Department (IMD). While it currently addresses a wide range of climate and weather phenomena, from cyclones to fog, its initial purpose during colonial times was to investigate the intricacies of the southwest monsoon. Over the years, the IMD has amassed extensive meteorological data, forming the basis for its monsoon forecasts.

Relevance:

GS- 1- Physical Geography

GS- 3

  • Water Resources
  • Conservation of Resources
  • Cyclone
  • Disaster Management

Mains Question:

Prioritising regional and sub­district weather forecasts over national ones would be a commendable step forward by the government in enhancing climate resilience. Comment. (10 Marks, 150 Words).

India Meteorological Department (IMD):

Overview:

The IMD serves as the National Meteorological Service of the country and is the primary government agency for all matters related to meteorology and related subjects. It operates under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India.

Objectives:

  • To conduct meteorological observations and furnish up-to-date and forecasted meteorological information essential for the efficient operation of weather-sensitive activities such as agriculture, irrigation, shipping, aviation, offshore oil exploration, etc.
  • To issue warnings for severe weather phenomena like tropical cyclones, norwesters, dust storms, heavy rains and snow, cold and heat waves, etc., that may lead to loss of life and property.
  • To provide meteorological statistics necessary for agriculture, water resource management, industries, oil exploration, and other nation-building activities. To facilitate and encourage research in meteorology and related fields.

Evolution of the IMD Over Time:

Historical Background:

In 1864, Kolkata and the Andhra coast were hit by two devastating cyclones, resulting in substantial loss of life. The severity of these calamities underscored the absence of a system to monitor atmospheric parameters, leading to the establishment of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) in 1875.

Development of the IMD:

  • Official operations commenced with the appointment of HF Blanford, an Englishman recognized as the Imperial Meteorological Reporter.
  • Under the leadership of Gilbert Walker, appointed as the head of the IMD in 1903, significant progress was made in understanding monsoons.
  • Walker identified large-scale oscillations in atmospheric circulations, laying the foundation for the modern comprehension of the El Niño phenomenon.
  • Over 150 years, the IMD has transformed into a vast organization with permanent observatories and automatic weather stations nationwide.

Advancements in Cyclone Forecasting:

A pivotal moment occurred in 1999 during the Odisha super cyclone, prompting substantial investments in technology and manpower. Since then, cyclone-related casualties have notably decreased, attributed to the IMD’s effective forecasts. IMD’s cyclone forecasts now extend beyond India, benefiting the entire region, with as many as 13 countries utilizing these forecasts for their cyclone management systems.

Diversified Roles:

Originally focused on weather forecasting, the IMD now extends specialized services for elections, sporting events, space launches, and various sectors. Global Recognition: The IMD’s enhanced capabilities have led to its recognition as the Regional Climate Centre for South Asia. The IMD has partnered to contribute to the United Nations’ ‘Early Warning for All’ program, involving 30 identified countries.

Region-wise Trend Analysis in the Indian Monsoon:

  • An analysis conducted by researchers at the Council on Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW) delves into monsoon trends at the tehsil (sub-divisional) level from 1982 to 2022.
  • This analysis reveals that in more than half of India’s approximately 4,400 tehsils, or 55%, monsoon rainfall is increasing.
  • Conversely, around 11% of tehsils observed a decline in rainfall, with approximately 68% experiencing reduced rainfall in all four monsoon months, and 87% showing a decline during the crucial June and July period—critical for the sowing of kharif crops.
  • The majority of these tehsils are situated in the Indo-Gangetic plains, contributing to over half of India’s agricultural production, as well as in northeastern India and the Indian Himalayan region.
  • The research also discovered that 30% of India’s districts experienced multiple years of insufficient rainfall, while 38% encountered numerous years of excessive rainfall.
  • Some tehsils in historically dry regions such as Rajasthan, Gujarat, central Maharashtra, and parts of Tamil Nadu were undergoing a shift towards increased precipitation.
  • Changes were also observed in the northeast monsoon, affecting peninsular India during October, November, and December.
  • Over the past decade (2012-2022), northeast monsoon rainfall has risen by over 10% in around 80% of Tamil Nadu’s tehsils, 44% in Telangana, and 39% in Andhra Pradesh.
  • The southwest monsoon, contributing nearly 76% of India’s annual rainfall, contrasts with the northeast monsoon, which contributes about 11%.
  • The increasing susceptibility of India’s monsoons to extended dry periods and intense wet spells is well-documented, but the extent to which this can be attributed to natural variability versus global warming remains an active area of research.

Way Forward:

Analyzing Monsoon Performance at a More Localized Scale:

  • Given the considerable month-to-month fluctuations and the increasing frequency of intense wet events, making decisions at a localized level becomes paramount.
  • Hence, acquiring detailed data at a granular level is essential to offer comprehensive, actionable insights, ultimately improving disaster preparedness and response.

Formulation of Climate Action Plans at the District Level:

  • In alignment with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s (MoEFCC) directive in 2019, the revision of State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCCs) is underway.
  • It is advisable to create climate action plans at the district level to conduct thorough climate risk assessments in critical sectors such as agriculture, water, and energy.

Investment in Automatic Weather Stations and Community-Based Data Collection for Monitoring Rainfall Variability Locally:

  • Recognizing the necessity for hyperlocal climate adaptation strategies, it is recommended to invest in technologies like automatic weather stations and community-driven data collection initiatives.
  • These measures are vital for capturing rainfall variabilities at an extremely local level. Initiatives like the national Weather Information Network and Data System (WINDS) and community efforts play a crucial role in this regard.

Conclusion:

While colonial interests in weather were driven by revenue extraction at the regional level, such analyses now hold contemporary significance. They can inform region-specific plans to enhance climate resilience and allocate necessary funds and resources. Prioritizing regional and sub-district forecasts over national ones would be a commendable step forward by the government.


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