15 August Current Affairs
August 15, 2019
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August 17, 2019
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16 August Current Affairs

Chief Of Defence Staff (CDS)

In News:

In his Independence Day address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff to provide “effective leadership at the top level” to the three wings of the armed forces, and to help improve coordination among them.

About:

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is a high military office that oversees and coordinates the working of the three Services. The role of the CDS becomes critical in times of conflict.

He offers seamless tri-service views and single-point advice to the Executive (in India’s case, to the Prime Minister) on long-term defence planning and management, including manpower, equipment and strategy, and above all, “jointsmanship” in operations.

Existing scenario in India:

India has had a feeble equivalent known as the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC); but this is a toothless office, given the manner in which it is structured.

The senior-most among the three Service Chiefs is appointed to head the CoSC, an office that lapses with the incumbent’s retirement.

The current Chairman CoSC is Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa. When ACM Dhanoa retires at the end of September 2019, he would have served as Chairman CoSC for a mere four months.

Kargil Review Committee (KRC): 

The first proposal for a CDS in India came from the 2000 Kargil Review Committee (KRC), which called for a reorganisation of the apex decision-making and structure and interface between the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces Headquarters.

The Group of Ministers Task Force that studied the KRC Report proposed to the Cabinet Committee on Security that a CDS, who would be five-star officer, be created.

In preparation for the post, the government created the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) in late 2002, which was to eventually serve as the CDS’s Secretariat. However, over the past 17 years, this has remained yet another department within the military establishment.

Pretomanid

In News:

The Food and Drug Administration approved Pretomanid Tablets, when used alongside 2 other antibiotics, to treat an extremely drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis.

About: 

The new drug – Pretomanid – cured 89% of 107 patients with extensively drug-resistant TB after 6 months, when used in combination with antibiotics bedaquiline and linezolid.

The three-drug regimen consists of bedaquiline, pretomanid and linezolid — collectively known as the BPaL regimen.

Significance: 

Before the FDA approved this combination therapy, the most common treatment for this type of tuberculosis required patients to take around 30 pills a day plus sometimes daily injections for at least 18 months.

This new treatment lowers that dose to 5 pills/day over 6 months for most patients.

Fertility Rate Data

In News:

During his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlined challenges posed by population growth in the country.

About:

The latest SRS estimates (2017) show the TFR dropping to 2.2. This figure is only marginally higher than the fertility rate (2.1) required for replacement of the existing population.

Even the states that have a higher TFR — Uttar Pradesh (3.0), Bihar (3.2), MP (2.7), Rajasthan (2.6), Assam (2.3), Chhattisgarh (2.4) and Jharkhand (2.5) — have been witnessing a declining trend in fertility rates. These seven states account for about 45 % of the total population in the 2011 Census.

Two more states, Gujarat and Haryana, recorded a TFR of 2.2, which is above the replacement rate but is equal to the national average. Taken together, these nine major states account for 52 % of the 2011 population.

This means that in the states barring these nine, and accounting for almost half the population, the replacement level is either 2.1 or has gone below it.

These states with a lower TFR include Kerala (1.7), Tamil Nadu (1.6), Karnataka (1.7), Maharashtra (1.7), Andhra Pradesh (1.6), Telangana (1.7), West Bengal (1.6), Jammu and Kashmir (1.6) and Odisha (1.9).

Total fertility rate (TFR) is defined as the number of children born to a woman until the end of her child-bearing age, is a key indicator for population trends.

The Sample Registration System (SRS) is undertaken by the Office of the Registrar General of India

SRS looks at other indicators such as crude birth rate, general fertility rate, age specific/marital fertility rate, gross reproduction rate along with sex ratio at birth.

While Census figures provide the total population every decade, the regular SRS estimates provide dynamic trends underlying the population growth.

Golden Butterfly Tea

In News:

A kilogram of a speciality Assam tea called “Golden Butterfly” was sold for Rs 75,000 at the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC), setting a new record.

About:

Golden Butterfly is produced by Dikom Tea Estate near eastern Assam’s Dibrugarh town.

This hand-crafted tea is made from tender leaves and buds available only around June-July.

The tea is named such because only “the soft golden tips go into making this exceptionally rare and special tea”.

The tea has an “extremely mellow and sweet caramel flavour.

Recent records:

Assam tea has, in fact, been repeatedly setting price records at auctions.

On July 31, an Assam tea variety known as “Maijan Golden Tips” sold for Rs 70,501 per kilogram at the GTAC.

A day earlier, Manohari Gold Special tea was auctioned for Rs 50,000 per kg at the Centre.

Tea Auction centres:

India has six tea auction centres — Kolkata (the oldest, set up in 1861), Guwahati (1970), Siliguri, Kochi, Coimbatore and Coonoor.

Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC) has 665 sellers, 247 buyers, and nine brokers, besides 34 warehouses, registered with it.

*Auctioning is the best way to know the value of a tea. The indicators that buyers look at, include appearance, quality/strength of the liquid form, aroma, and “keeping quality”, i.e., how well the tea will keep if stored for a long time in a shop or godown.

Single-use plastics

In News:

In response to Prime Minister’s call on India’s 73rdIndependence day, to make India free of single use plastics, a massive public campaign will be launched engaging all stakeholders.

What are single use plastics?

There is no central and comprehensive definition for single-use plastic, crucial for any ban to be successful. Governments currently use various definitions.

Some states like Telangana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh banned plastic bottles and Tetra packs, single-use straws, plastic/styrofoam tea cups/containers, etc. But many like Bihar banned only polythene bags.

India’s efforts to beat plastic pollution:

More than 20 States and Union Territories have joined the fight to beat the plastic pollution, announcing a ban on single-use plastics such as carry bags, cups, plates, cutlery, straws and thermocol products.

India has also won global acclaim for its “Beat Plastic Pollution” resolve declared on World Environment Day last year, under which it pledged to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022.

All such efforts have yielded positive results: Voluntary initiatives are having an impact in many States, as citizens reduce, reuse and sort their waste. A Bengaluru waste collective estimates that the volume of plastic waste that they collect dropped from about two tonnes a day to less than 100 kg.

Gaps existing:

Waste plastic from packaging of everything from food, cosmetics and groceries to goods delivered by online platforms remains unaddressed.

Collect-back system: The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 are clear that producers, importers and brand owners must adopt a collect-back system for the plastic they introduce into the environment. However, not much has been done to take the process forward.

Extended Producer Responsibility clause: Small producers of plastics are facing the ban, while more organised entities covered by the Extended Producer Responsibility clause continue with business as usual.

What is needed?

Governments must start charging the producers for their waste, and collect it diligently, which will lead to recovery and recycling.

State and local governments should upgrade their waste management systems, which is necessary to even measure the true scale of packaging waste.

Role of local bodies: Local bodies should consult manufacturers or importers to assess the problem. Cities and towns need competent municipal systems to achieve this.

A central legislation with a clear definition of what constitutes single-use plastic is also necessary.

Village volunteer system

In News:

The ward and village volunteer system has been launched in Andhra Pradesh.

Aim: The system is aimed at ensuring an efficient and corruption-free delivery of the government’s welfare schemes to households.

Key features:

  1. Village Volunteers System will take governance to the doorsteps of the people.
  2. The programme would involve 2.8 lakh volunteers.
  3. The volunteers will conduct door-to-door visits and provide the benefits under various programmes to eligible beneficiaries.
  4. The volunteers will identify the problems being faced by people in their jurisdiction and take steps towards solving them.
  5. Village secretariats would be set up in each village to deliver governance to people in 72 hours.
  6. This scheme involves provision of one volunteer to cover 50 families in each village. Identity cards would be given to the volunteers and they would be given an honorarium of Rs 5,000 per month.
  7. The volunteers would first identify the beneficiaries, get to know their problems and then delineate the schemes being provided by the government for them.

Significance of the scheme:

The basic idea behind implementing the scheme is to infuse confidence among the people and to see that their basic needs are met. The scheme would be able to reach the poorest of the poor and make villages self-sufficient.

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

It aims to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20%-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024

It is envisaged as a scheme to provide the States and the Centre with a framework to combat air pollution.

It is envisioned as a five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year. There would be a review every five years.

States in which the cities are located are expected to produce plans that include increasing the number of monitoring stations, providing technology support, conducting source apportionment studies, and strengthening enforcement.

The tentative national level target of 20%–30% reduction of PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by 2024 is proposed under the NCAP taking 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration.

For achieving the NCAP targets, the cities would be expected to calculate the reduction in pollution, keeping 2017’s average annual PM levels as the base year.

The NCAP requires cities to implement specific measures such as “ensuring roads are pothole-free to improve traffic flow and thereby reduce dust” (within 60 days) or “ensuring strict action against unauthorised brick kilns” (within 30 days).

The government has included 102 Non-Attainment Cities (NAC) as centers of focus for the NCAP.

Kondapalli toys

Kondapalli toys of Andhra Pradesh has been awarded GI tag

The Kondapalli toys are made from soft wood known as Tella Poniki which are found in nearby Kondapalli Hills.

The wood is first carved out and then the edges are smooth finished. The later step involves coloring with either oil and water-colours or vegetable dyes and enamel paints are applied based on the type of the toys.

The artisans mainly work on producing figures of mythology, animals, birds, bullock carts, rural life etc., and the most notable one is Dasavataram, dancing dolls etc.

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