Current Affairs (14th July 2021)
Telangana Seasonal Disease Prevention Plan
- In Telangana, precautionary measures being taken to prevent vector-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria which would also help avoid Zika cases too.
- Zika virus disease is a caused by a mosquito-borne flavivirus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes, which bite during the day, in tropical and subtropical regions. Aedes mosquito also transmits dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever.
- Symptoms – Symptoms of Zika infection are generally mild and include fever, rash, conjunctivitis, headache and muscle and joint pain. They typically last for 2 to 7 days. Most people do not develop symptoms.
- Except for rare neurological manifestations like Guillian Barre syndrome, neuropathy and myelitis in some adults and children, the disease has little significance for the general population.
- But in pregnant women, especially those in the early trimester, the infection can seriously harm the developing foetus.
- It can also lead to the infant developing microcephaly and other congenital malformations, known as congenital Zika syndrome.
- Transmission – Zika virus is transmitted,
- By the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito,
- From mother to fetus during pregnancy,
- Through sexual contact, transfusion of blood and blood products, and organ transplantation.
- Diagnosis – A diagnosis of Zika virus infection can only be confirmed by laboratory tests of blood or other body fluids, such as urine or semen.
- Treatment – There is no treatment available for Zika virus infection or its associated diseases.
- Prevention – As the Aedes mosquitoes breed in stagnant fresh water, these breeding grounds should be prevented from being created.
- The Gambusia fish may be released in stagnant water bodies.
India’s Economic Situation
Over the past few weeks, Indians have become more and more worried about the inflation rate (or the rate at which prices are rising).
- Retail inflation for May 2021 was at 6.3%e., 30 basis points above the highest level of inflation that RBI targets.
- No other Asian country has faced the high levels of inflation that India is becoming used to.
- Retail inflation is measured by using the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
- The Retail inflation data for June will be crucial in determining RBI’s monetary policy stance when it meets in August, 2021.
- In 2022, consumer prices will grow at a rate that is around 2 ½ times more than the rest of Asia’s average.
- Oil prices have been high and rising for two broad reasons:
- Rising prices of imported crude oil (India depends on oil imports to meet more than 80% of its domestic requirement) and
- Taxation of refined fuel within the country.
- For every 10% increase in oil prices, economic growth of India falls by 20 basis points and the inflation rate goes up by 40 basis points.
- Even when crude oil prices went down, retail prices have stayed up due to the way the government taxes petrol and petroleum products.
- Besides the price rise in fuel, the prices of the food and non-food goods have shot up.
- India’s unemployment rate is so much higher than other Asian countries.
- India’s high unemployment rate is despite a low labour force participation rate.
- Total number of people employed in the Indian economy is over 5% less than the number of people employed before the pandemic. So, instead of creating jobs, the economy has extinguished close to 22 million jobs.
Right to Repair Movement
- In recent years, countries around the world have been attempting to pass effective ‘right to repair’ laws.
- US President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling on the Federal Trade Commission to curb restrictions imposed by manufacturers that limit consumers’ ability to repair their gadgets on their own terms.
- The UK, too, introduced right-to-repair rules that should make it much easier to buy and repair daily-use gadgets such as TVs and washing machines.
What is the right to repair movement?
- Activists and organisations around the world have been advocating for the right of consumers to be able to repair their own electronics and other products as part of the ‘right to repair’ movement.
- The movement traces its roots back to the very dawn of the computer era in the 1950s.
- The goal of the movement is to get companies to make spare parts, tools and information on how to repair devices available to customers and repair shops to increase the lifespan of products and to keep them from ending up in landfills.
- They argue that these electronic manufacturers are encouraging a culture of ‘planned obsolescence’ — which means that devices are designed specifically to last a limited amount of time and to be replaced. This, they claim, leads to immense pressure on the environment and wasted natural resources.
Electronic manufacturers oppose this movement:
- Large tech companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Tesla, have been lobbying against the right to repair.
- Their argument is that opening their intellectual property to third party repair services or amateur repairers could lead to exploitation and impact the safety and security of their devices.
Great Indian Bustard
- Recently, it has been highlighted that green energy projects in Rajasthan are emerging as a threat for the Great Indian Bustard (GIB or Ardeotis nigriceps).
- It is a large bird with brown-and-white feathers with black crown and wing markings. It is one of the heaviest birds in the world.
- Males have whitish necks and underparts with narrow black breast-bands.
- Females are smaller, with a greyer neck and typically no or incomplete breast-band.
- It is the state bird of Rajasthan.
- The species occurs in the Indian Subcontinent, with former strongholds in the Thar desert in the north-west and the Deccan tableland of the Peninsula.
- It has been extirpated from 90 per cent of its former range and is now principally confined to Rajasthan.
- Rajasthan is now home to the single largest viable population of the species.
- This species inhabits arid and semi-arid grasslands with scattered short scrub, bushes and low intensity cultivation in flat or gently undulating terrain.
- It has an extremely small population that has undergone an extremely rapid decline.
- Widespread hunting for sport and food precipitated its decline, accelerated by vehicular access to remote areas.
- High intensity poaching still continues in Pakistan and egg-collecting was rampant in many states during the early 19th century.
- However, the current threats are mostly from habitat loss and degradation, caused by
- Widespread agricultural expansion and mechanization of farming.
- Infrastructural development such as irrigation, roads, electricity pylons, wind turbines and constructions.
- Mining and industrialization.
- Well intended but ill-informed habitat management.
- Lack of community support.
- Power companies’ high-tension wires are major threat factors, leading to death of about 15 per cent of GIB population due to collisions with power lines, according to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
- IUCN Red List: Critically Endangered
- CITES: Appendix I
- India Wildlife Protection Act: Schedule I
- Recently, thousands of Cubans have joined street protests from Havana to Santiago in the biggest anti-government demonstrations in decades.
- The protests erupted amid Cuba’s worst economic crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union, its former ally, and a record surge in Covid-19 infections, with people voicing anger over shortages of basic goods, curbs on civil liberties and the authorities’ handling of the pandemic.
Reasons Behind Falling Economy
- Cuba’s economy is struggling as Tourism, one of the most important sectors, has been devastated by the restrictions on travel during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Sugar, which is mostly exported, is another key earner for Cuba. However, 2021’s harvest has been much worse than expected.
- The shortfall was to blame on several factors, including a lack of fuel and the breakdown of machinery which made bringing in the harvest difficult, as well as natural factors such as humidity in the fields.
- Consequently, the government’s reserves of foreign currency are depleted, meaning it cannot buy imported goods to supplement shortages.
- President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who also heads the Communist Party as well, blamed the unrest on the USA, an old Cold War foe.
- In recent years, the US has tightened its trade embargo on Cuba.
- He called its tight sanctions on Cuba – which have been in place in various forms since 1962 – a “policy of economic suffocation”.
- Allegedly, it is also manipulating social media campaigns and is sending “mercenaries” on the ground to provoke protests.
- In recent years, the US has tightened its trade embargo on Cuba.
- Thousands of protestors have gathered in downtown Havana and along parts of the seaside drive, chanting “Fidel” and are demanding the stepping down of Diaz-Canel.
- Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was a Cuban revolutionary and politician who was the leader of Cuba from 1959 to 2008.
- The USA stands with the people of Cuba in their call for freedom, relief from the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering by the authoritarian Cuban regime.