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Current Affairs – 18 November 2021

National Register of Citizens (NRC)

The Hindu

GS 1: Population and associated issues

Context:

  • In an RTI reply, State Coordinator of NRC, Assam mentioned that only little over a thousand doubtful cases in the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), Assam have been referred to the concerned district commissioners for necessary action.
  • More than 19 lakh of the 3.29 crore applicants in Assam were excluded from the final draft register published on August 31, 2019, which cost ₹1,220 crore.

About:

  • The current government has rejected the NRC in its current form and demanded re-verification of at least 30% names in areas bordering Bangladesh and 10% in the rest of the State.
  • Each rejected person can approach the Foreigners Tribunals (FT) within 120 days of receiving the rejection slips.
  • There is no additional budget allocated for NRC in the year 2020 by the State or Central Government. In the year 2021, Rs 10.07 crore is allocated in the State budget by the Government of Assam.

NRC:

  • NRC is a register prepared after the conduct of the Census of 1951 in respect of each village, showing the houses or holdings in a serial order and indicating against each house or holding the number and names of persons staying therein. The NRC was published only once in 1951.
  • The main purpose for the introduction and updating of the NRC in Assam was the identification of the illegal immigrants in Assam who had migrated to Assam from Bangladesh during the 1971 war with Pakistan.
  • At present, only Assam has such a register. This is a sensitive issue in Assam as many complain of mass infiltrations from the eastern border that are eroding the Assamese culture and changing the demographics of the region.
    • Nagaland is already creating a similar database known as the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants.

 

Antibiotic Consumption

Indian Express

GS 3: Science and Technology

Context:

  • Global antibiotic consumption rates increased by 46% in the last two decades, according to a study covering 204 countries from 2000 to 2018, and published in the Lancet Planetary Health by the Global Research on Antimicrobial Resistance (GRAM) Project.

About:

  • GRAM used a novel approach that deployed statistical modelling techniques, and incorporated multiple data sources and types, such as large-scale household surveys in low-and middle-income countries, pharmaceutical sales data, and antibiotic consumption data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
  • The study provides a comparative analysis of total antibiotic consumption rates in humans globally, expressed in the WHO metric of defined daily doses (DDD) per 1,000 population per day.

The key findings:

  • 10-fold: Variation between countries in total antibiotic consumption rates, ranging from as low as 5 DDD to 45.9 DDD per 1000 population per day.
  • 46% up: Between 2000 and 2018, global antibiotic consumption rates increased from 9.8 to 14.3 DDD per 1000 population per day).
  • 76%: Increase observed between 2000 and 2018 in low- and middle-income countries (from 7.4 to 13.1 DDD per 1000 per day). In high-income countries, consumption rates remained stable.
  • 116%: Increase in antibiotic consumption rates in South Asia. The second largest increase was in the North Africa and Middle East region (111%).
  • Excess and inappropriate use of antibiotics is an important driver of drug resistant infections. These findings reveal the huge task ahead, implementing and delivering the WHO Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance, which relies on optimising antibiotic use and reducing the incidence of infections.

AMR:

  • Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.
  • AMR occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes.
    • Antimicrobial-resistant organisms are found in people, animals, food, plants and the environment (in water, soil and air).
    • They can spread from person to person or between people and animals, including from food of animal origin.

  • The main drivers of AMR include
    • lack of access to clean water,
    • misuse and overuse of antimicrobials
    • sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for both humans and animals,
    • poor infection and disease prevention and control in healthcare facilities and farms,
    • poor access to quality, affordable medicines, vaccines and diagnostics,
    • lack of awareness and knowledge, and
    • lack of enforcement of legislation.

 

Kulbhushan Jadhav

The Hindu

GS 2: India and its Neighbourhood

Important International Institutions

Context:

  • Pakistan’s Parliament in its joint sitting moved International Court of Justice (Review and Re-consideration) Bill, 2020 to give Indian death-row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav the right to file a review appeal against his conviction by a military court.

About:

  • Jadhav, a 51-year-old retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017.
  • India approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence.
  • After hearing both sides, the Hague-based ICJ issued a verdict in July, 2019, asking Pakistan to give India consular access to Jadhav and also ensure review of his conviction.
  • Recent law allowed Jadhav to challenge his conviction in the high court through a review process which was a requirement of the ICJ verdict.

 

ASER Report

Indian Express

GS 1: Education

Context:

  • The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) survey, which is facilitated by Pratham Education Foundation, has captured an unprecedented jump in government school students, and a 10-year low in private school enrolments. 
  • It has reported a growing dependency on private tuition classes and a stark digital divide, which carries the risk of severely affecting the learning abilities of primary grade students.

Findings:

  • Tuitions: Students, especially those from poor families, are dependent more than ever on private tuition.
  • While 39.2% of children overall are now taking tuitions, between 2018 and 2021.
  • The proportion of children with parents in the ‘low’ education category who are taking tuitions increased by 12.6 percentage points, as opposed to a 7.2-percentage-point increase among children with parents in the ‘high’ education category.
  • Preference to government schools: There is a “clear shift” from private to government schools — from 64.3% in 2018 to 65.8% in 2020, to 70.3% in 2021; and a fall in private school enrolment from 28.8% in 2020 to 24.4% in 2021.
  • Digital divide: The percentage of enrolled children having at least one smartphone at home has risen from 36.5 to 67.6 between 2018 and 2021.
  • Only 19.9% of children in Classes I-II have access to the devices whenever they require.
  • The access to smartphones increases with age, with 35.4% students in Classes IX and above having constant access.
  • Learning: 4% teachers flagged the problem of children being “unable to catch up” as one of their biggest challenges — which is also a warning that their learning outcomes are set to be affected unless addressed with urgency.
  • Enrolment: There is a decline in the proportion of children not currently enrolled in the 15-16 age group — the one in which the risk of dropping out is the highest.
  • In 2010, the proportion of 15-16-year-olds who were out of school was 16.1%. Driven by the government’s push to universalise secondary education, this number has been steadily declining and stood at 12.1% in 2018. The decline continued in 2020 to 9.9% and to 6.6% in 2021.
  • Learning material: 9% of enrolled children have textbooks for their current grade. But only about a third (33.5%) of children in grades I-II of yet-to-reopen schools reported having received learning materials — print or virtual worksheets, online or recorded classes, or learning-related videos — from schools.
  • Parent-Teacher: Fewer had had some form of contact with teachers to discuss children’s learning (28.5%).
  • The proportion of families who had some contact with teachers was heavily skewed towards better off families, as proxied by parental education levels.
  • From having no experience of pre-primary class to the lack of access to digital devices, the pandemic has left the youngest entrants in India’s formal education system particularly vulnerable, and not addressing their specific needs and can have grave consequences.

About:

  • It is the oldest survey of its kind in the country, and well regarded for the range of insights it provides on levels of foundational learning at the elementary level.
  • In the context of the pandemic, the ASER Centre switched its focus to access to learning opportunities in 2020.
  • The 16th edition of the report is based on a phone survey, conducted in September and October, of 75,234 children ages 5-16 across 581 rural districts in 25 states and three Union Territories.
  • The surveyors also contacted teachers or head teachers from 7,299 government schools offering primary grades.
  • The report classifies families with parents who have studied up to Class 5 or lower in the ‘low’ education category; parents who have cleared at least Class 9 are in the ‘high’ education category.

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