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Current Affairs – 15 October 2021

BSF Powers and Jurisdiction

Indian Express

GS 3: Defence and Security

Context:

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has extended the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) up to 50 km inside the international borders in Punjab, West Bengal, and Assam. It has reduced BSF’s area of operation in Gujarat from 80 km from the border, to 50 km.

About:

  • The BSF’s powers — which include arrest, search, and seizure — were limited to up to 15 km in these states.
  • This move has been criticised by the Punjab and West Bengal, which have called it an attack on the federal structure and an attempt to curtail the rights of the state police.
  • The government said it was exercising the powers under the Border Security Force Act of 1968.

Powers of BSF:

  • Its jurisdiction has been extended only in respect of the powers it enjoys under Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and the Passport Act, 1967. BSF currently has powers to arrest and search under these laws.
  • It also has powers to arrest, search and seize under the NDPS Act, Arms Act, Customs Act and certain other laws.
  • Its jurisdiction under these laws has not been changed, meaning its powers under these will continue to be only up to 15 km inside the border in Punjab, Assam and West Bengal, and will remain as far as 80 km in Gujarat.
  • In 1969, the BSF first got powers to arrest and search under the CrPC with respect to certain laws such as the Foreigners Act, The Passport Act, forex laws and Customs Act.
  • Even before 2014, they had a jurisdiction of 15 km inside the border in several states.

Why has the government extended the jurisdiction?

  • The objective of the move is to bring in uniformity and also to increase operational efficiency.
  • BSF often gets information relating to crime scenes that may be out of their jurisdiction. For example, in West Bengal, at times BSF gets information that smugglers have gathered over 100 cows in a village and will take them to the border late in the night. If BSF act immediately, they can get all the cattle at one place. When they come to the border, they will be scattered and running.
  • The move was also necessitated due to increasing instances of drones dropping weapons and drugs in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab. However, the kind of drones spotted so far do not have a range beyond 20 km.
  • There has been no official explanation for why BSF’s jurisdiction has not been increased under the Arms Act, Customs Act and NDPS Act, which cover most of the smuggling offences on the border and deal with far greater offences.

Will it impact police jurisdiction?

  • At a basic level, the states can argue that law and order is a state subject and enhancing BSF’s jurisdiction infringes upon powers of the state government.
  • In 2012, then Gujarat Chief Minister had opposed a central government move to expand BSF’s jurisdiction. He accused the Centre for weakening the country’s federal structure, and calling the move an attempt to “create a state within a state”.
  • This is not an attack on the federal structure. Rather this is going to complement the efforts of the local police. It is an enabling provision.
  • It’s not that the local police can’t act within the jurisdiction of the BSF. BSF has been empowered to act till a greater distance and in turn strengthen the hands of the state police.

How will it be implemented?

  • Until now, state police and border forces have been working in tandem with minor, occasional differences. Now, with the issue taking political colour, implementation could be tricky if there are difficulties in coordination in future.
  • For example, be it the earlier 15 km or the enhanced 50 km, the BSF jurisdiction is not marked on a map. It is largely based on understanding between police and BSF.
  • Currently it is a rough estimate as to which village or town is how many kilometres from the border.

TB Elimination

Down to Earth

GS 2: Health

Context:

  • Recently, Global TB report has been released by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Findings:

  • The world suffered huge reverses in progress towards tuberculosis (TB) elimination in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. India has been the worst-hit.
  • The Philippines and Indonesia were also severely impacted.
  • The biggest impact was felt in terms of detection of new cases. This means a large number of cases went undetected due to highly curtailed access to diagnostics and restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic.
  • From 2016-2019, the number of new cases rose continuously, but fell dramatically to 20% in 2020.
  • The big global drop in notifications of TB cases in 2020, as compared with 2019, means that the gap between the number of people who actually got the disease and the new people who got diagnosed “widened substantially” in 2020.
  • The report estimated that gap to be around 4.1 million cases.
  • This was a major reversal of previous progress in closing the gap between 2012 and 2019, the world has now gone back to the levels of 2012.
  • This fact can be looked at from another perspective. When the world was making strides in closing the gap between people who actually got sickened and diagnosed with TB from 2013-19, India and Indonesia were the biggest contributors to this achievement. Now, these very countries are the two biggest laggards.
  • The general reasons cited in the report include both supply- and demand-side disruptions to TB diagnostic and treatment services.

Global Situation:

  • Besides, Indonesia (14%), the Philippines (12%) and China (8%) and 12 other countries accounted for 93% of the total global drop of 1.3 million cases.

Scenario of India:

  • India contributed the biggest drop in detection of new cases. Some 41% of the total number of cases that dropped in 2020, as compared to 2019, came from India. Thus, a large chunk of TB cases went missing in the country.

Major milestones missed:

  • The ‘End TB Strategy’ milestones for reductions in TB disease burden by 2020 were a 35% reduction in the number of TB deaths.
  • Instead, the global reduction in the corresponding time period has only been 9.2%.
  • The same Strategy aimed to reduce the TB incidence rate to 20% by 2020, as compared with the levels in 2015. But the target achieved till 2020 was only 11%.
  • People suffering from conditions that make them vulnerable to TB, particularly an HIV infection, are also provided preventive treatment. Even this segment saw a decline.
  • The global number of people who were provided with TB preventive treatment increased to 3.6 million in 2019, from 1.0 million in 2015. However, in 2020, only 2.8 million people (21 per cent reduction) could avail this service.

Way forward:

  • If these results give an impression that 2020 was the worst year for TB elimination, the worst may actually be yet to come in 2021 and 2022.
  • Modelling studies suggest that TB mortality in 2021 is projected to be much higher than in 2020 in all of the 16 countries that accounted for almost all of the global drop in TB notifications. TB incidence is projected to be above the level of 2020 in most of them.
  • To improve the diagnosis, countries need to increase the proportion of cases that are confirmed bacteriologically either through bacteria culture or rapid tests.
  • The share of rapid tests especially needs to go up as only 33% of total cases were diagnosed through it.

 

Global Hunger Index

The Hindu

GS 2: Health

Issues related to Children

Context:

  • The Global Hunger Index (GHI) has been recently launched by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerlife.

About:

  • It ranked India at 101 position out of a total 116 countries.
  • India is also among the 31 countries where hunger has been identified as serious.
  • India ranked 94 among 107 countries in the GHI released last year.

  • Only 15 countries fare worse than India:
    1. Papua New Guinea (102),
    2. Afghanistan (103),
    3. Nigeria (103),
    4. Congo (105),
    5. Mozambique (106),
    6. Sierra Leone (106),
    7. Timor-Leste (108),
    8. Haiti (109),
    9. Liberia (110),
    10. Madagascar (111),
    11. Democratic Republic of Congo (112),
    12. Chad (113),
    13. Central African Republic (114),
    14. Yemen (115) and
    15. Somalia (116).

  • India was also behind most of the neighbouring countries. Pakistan was placed at 92 rank, Nepal at 76 and Bangladesh also at 76.
  • Current projections based on the GHI show that the world as a whole — and 47 countries in particular — will fail to achieve even low hunger by 2030.
  • The Index tracks key indicators used to measure progress toward Zero Hunger by 2030 at national, regional, and global levels.
  • Based on the values of the four indicators – undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality- the GHI determines hunger on a 100-point scale, where 0 is the best possible score (no hunger) and 100 is the worst.

  • Each country’s GHI score is classified by severity, from low to extremely alarming.
  • Somalia has the highest level of hunger according to the 2021 GHI ranking — its GHI score of 50.8 is considered extremely alarming,
  • It is preceded by five countries with levels of hunger that are alarming — Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, and Yemen — and 31 countries that have serious levels of hunger.
  • Although GHI scores show that global hunger has been on the decline since 2000, progress is slowing. While the GHI score for the world fell 4.7 points, from 25.1 to 20.4, between 2006 and 2012, it has fallen just 2.5 points since 2012.
  • After decades of decline, the global prevalence of undernourishment — one of the four indicators used to calculate GHI scores — is increasing. This shift may be a harbinger of reversals in other measures of hunger.