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Current Affairs – 10 July 2021

Current Affairs (10th July 2021)

Global Warming

Context:

  • A study published in The Lancet Planetary Health claimed that global warming has always raised the spectre of deluge and drought; now add diseases to it.
  • A 7 degrees Celsius rise in temperatures by 2100 from pre-industrial levels can unleash fatal outbreaks of malaria and dengue.
  • At that level of warming, some 4.7 billion more people may be at risk from such deadly diseases than were during 1970-99, the study said.

About:

  • The researchers used an integrated multi-model multi-scenario framework to measure the impact of climate change in the length of the transmission season.
  • They also used this to the global measure population at risk of malaria and dengue for different altitudes and population densities for the period 1951-99.
  • The study predicted the population at risk of malaria and dengue will be higher in densely populated urban areas in the World Health Organization (WHO)’s African region, South-East Asia region and the region of the Americas.
  • It also estimated that 4 billion additional people will be at risk of malaria and dengue in urban areas in Africa and southeast Asia.
  • The study found that the transmission season of both diseases would also increase due to climate change.
  • Recent studies have shown that winters are becoming warmer and summers are arriving earlier. Hence, vectors like mosquitoes get more time to breed.
  • The study found that the risk of transmission of malaria will increase by 1.6 additional months in Africa’s tropical highlands, the eastern Mediterranean and the Americas.
  • The risk of dengue transmission will increase in the lowland areas of the western Pacific and the eastern Mediterranean by four additional months.
  • The study suggested that policy makers should prepare appropriate strategies to build resilience to major mosquito-borne diseases in a warmer and more urbanised world.
  • The study also acknowledged that the researchers did not consider the effects of socio-economic development, disease and vector evolution or the development of more effective drugs and vaccines, all of which could lead to important differences in the amount of risk simulated.

 

Zoonotic viruses

Context:

  • A quarter of mammal species in wildlife trade host 75 per cent of zoonotic diseases that can spread from animals to humans, according to a recently published study.

About:

  • Rodents and bats were previously identified as the significant players for disease transmission.
  • The study also added primates and even-toed ungulates such as deer (often poached for their meat) and carnivores to the hot list.
  • The researchers surveyed the association of 226 viruses responsible for zoonotic diseases with more than 800 mammal species distinguished into three categories: traded, non-traded, and domesticated mammals.
  • Primates, bats, ungulates, and carnivores alone host 58 per cent of the known zoonotic viruses present in the wildlife trade.
  • Ongoing deforestation, land-use change and habitat fragmentation could result in direct contact and disease transmission between humans and the species listed in their study.

Way ahead:

  • Strong policy measures are needed for curtailing and monitoring wildlife trade.
  • National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Wellbeing has proposed the establishment of surveillance sites to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases.
  • Such sites could also be used for pathogen surveillance in confiscated wildlife specimens.

 

EMVÓLIO

Context:

  • DBT-BIRAC supported startup Blackfrog Technologies has developed Emvolio.

About:

  • Emvólio is a portable, battery-powered medical-grade refrigeration device that improves the efficiency of the immunization by strictly maintaining preset temperature for up to 12 hours, thus enabling the safe and efficient transportation of vaccines to the last mile.
  • Emvólio has a 2-litre capacity, enabling it to carry 30-50 vials, the standard for a daylong immunization campaign.
  • The device also includes continuous temperature monitoring, location tracking, state-of-charge indication, communication with headquarters via live-tracking, and vital statistics for improved coverage.
  • Blackfrog is an ISO-13485 certified manufacturer of medical devices, and Emvólio has been designed in accordance with WHO-PQS E003 standards.

BIRAC:

  • Set up by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), is a not-for-profit Section 8, Schedule B, Public Sector Enterprise.

 

COOPERATIVE MOVEMENT

Context:

  • The government announced the formation of a separate Union Ministry of Cooperation, a subject that till date was looked after by the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • In the Cabinet reshuffle of July 7, Home Minister Amit Shah was given charge of the new Ministry.

About:

  • Cooperatives are organisations formed at the grassroots level by people to harness the power of collective bargaining towards a common goal.
  • In agriculture, cooperative dairies, sugar mills, spinning mills etc are formed with the pooled resources of farmers who wish to process their produce.
  • The country has 1,94,195 cooperative dairy societies and 330 cooperative sugar mill operations. Cooperative sugar mills account for 35% of the sugar produced in the country.
  • In banking and finance, cooperative institutions are spread across rural and urban areas. Village-level primary agricultural credit societies (PACSs) formed by farmer associations are the best example of grassroots-level credit flow.
  • There are also cooperative marketing societies in rural areas and cooperative housing societies in urban areas.

What laws govern cooperative societies?

  • Like agriculture, cooperation is in the concurrent list, which means both the central and state governments can govern them.
  • A majority of the cooperative societies are governed by laws in their respective states.
  • In 2002, the Centre passed a Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act that allowed for registration of societies with operations in more than one state.

 

₹23,123 cr. aid package

Context:

  • The Union Cabinet has approved a ₹23,123 crore package to boost emergency response and healthcare systems.
  • The Centre’s share in the package is ₹15,000 crore and the States’ share is ₹8,123 crore.

Aim:

  • This package aims to accelerate health system preparedness for immediate responsiveness for early prevention, detection and management, with the focus on health infrastructure development including for Paediatric Care.
  • It aims at preventing the problems observed during the second wave, including lack of transport facilities for oxygen and shortage of medicines.

About:

  • The package includes funding for 20,000 additional ICU (intensive care unit) beds and the setting up of paediatric units in all districts.
  • The Centre would provide support to its hospitals, the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences, and other institutes of national importance, for repurposing beds for COVID-19 management.
  • Genome sequencing machines would be provided to the National Centre for Disease Control.
  • It would also provide for the expansion of the national telemedicine platform, e-Sanjeevani, by increasing daily consultations from 50,000 at present to 5 lakh.
  • All district hospitals would implement Hospital Management Information System (HMIS) through NIC developed E-Hospital and CDAC developed E-Shushrut software. 
  • This will be the biggest impetus for the implementation of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM).
  • It also would help states add more ambulances and carry out at least 21.5 lakh tests a day.
  • In March 2020, when the country was faced with the first wave of the COVID 19 pandemic, the PM had announced a Central Sector Scheme of Rs. 15,000 crore for the “India COVID 19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Package”.
  • It provided a critical impetus to the efforts of MoHFW and helped in catalysing health systems activities for pandemic management.

 

Cairn Energy Dispute

Context:

  • Cairn Energyhas said that it has secured a French court order allowing it to freeze at least 20 Indian properties in central Paris.

Background:

  • Cairn Energy filed a lawsuit in a U.S. court against Air India, seeking to make the national carrier liable to pay the damages awarded to it, but which are not yet honoured by the Indian government.
  • Earlier, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague ruled in favour of Cairn Energy PLC of the U.K and awarded $1.2 billion in damages against India in the retrospective taxation case.
  • The Indian government has termed the tribunal’s December 2020 decision highly flawed.
  • It argues that the award improperly ratifies Cairn’s scheme to achieve Double Non-Taxation, which was designed to avoid paying taxes anywhere in the world, a significant public policy concern for governments worldwide.

About:

  • Cairn Energy said that the Paris court has allowed it to freeze 20 assets to secure a part of the dues.
  • Also, it has identified Indian assets worth $70bn across the world and could take action in 10 jurisdictions including the U.S., the U.K., Netherlands, Canada, France, Singapore, Japan, the UAE and even the Cayman Islands.
  • It has filed a plea in the US court seeking to make Air India liable to pay.
  • Recently, some foreign investors in Devas Multimedia filed a similar plea in the same court, seeking to declare Air India as the Indian government’s “alter ego” and recover a $160 million compensation awarded to the firm after an international arbitration over its scrapped deal with ISRO’s commercial arm, Antrix Corporation.
  • In a similar arbitration case, India lost against Vodafone, the government had filed an appeal in a Singapore court to defend the retrospective tax demand on the telecom firm.
  • The officials have stressed that the government’s sovereign right to levy taxes cannot be questioned under bilateral pacts.

Way Forward:

  • India is entangled in more than a dozen such cases against companies over retrospective tax claims and cancellation of contracts.
  • The exchequer could end up paying billions of dollars in damages if it loses.
  • To reduce future arbitration claims, India has ended such agreements with over 50 countries.
  • India is working on a new law to protect foreign investors by offering relief from possible policy changes even as it upholds the right to tax them.
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