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Daily Hindu notes for UPSC IAS preparation

General Studies-02

Can India protect Rohingya, SC asks govt.

Can india protect rohingyas

SC View point:

Can India protect a large section of humanity comprising Rohingya women, children, the sick and the old who are “really suffering”?This is the question the Supreme Court wants the government to answer.

Government view point:

  • The government said the crisis over its move to deport 40,000 Rohingya was not “justiciable”, that is, the issue outside the Supreme Court’s domain.
  • communication to all the States to identify Rohingya and aid in their deportation was based on certain “executive parameters” such as diplomatic concerns, on whether the country can sustain such an influx of refugees and geographically whether there would be tensions and threat to national security.
  • It denied saying all Rohingya were terrorists, but only “some of them”.

Rohingyas view point:

  • Senior advocate Fali Nariman, appearing for the Rohingya community, said the government “has gone out of sync” with its August 8 directive for deportation of Rohingya violating Article 14.
  • The government’s affidavit claiming the question of deportation of Rohingya was exclusively “within its subjective domain and not justiciable” makes “big inroads into what we thought our Constitution was.”
  • Mr. Nariman, who introduced himself as a refugee from British Burma, submitted that the fundamental right to life enshrined in Article 21 protects all “persons,” including refugees who fled persecution in their native countries.
  • The obligation to grant asylum was universal.

Excise duty on petrol, diesel cut

News:

The government on Tuesday slashed the excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs. 2 per litre, effective from October 4.

Beyond news:

  • The move comes days after senior Ministers defended the high tax levies on petroleum products.
  • According to official data, the retail selling prices (RSP) of petrol and diesel in Delhi rose to Rs. 70.88 per litre and Rs. 59.14 per litre respectively, on October 3, 2017.
  • These prices were Rs. 63.13 and Rs. 53.47, respectively, three months ago.

SC issues notice on donations to parties

  • The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre and the Election Commission to respond to a petition challenging the various amendments made through Finance Act 2017 and Finance Act 2016 in various statutes, saying these changes have opened the floodgates for unlimited corporate and foreign donations to political parties.
  • A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra issued notice on the petition filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms and Common Cause seeking to strike down the amendments made to:
  1. the Companies Act,
  2. the Income Tax Act,
  3. the Representation of the People Act,
  4. the Reserve Bank of India Act and
  5. the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.
  • The petitioners, represented by Prashant Bhushan and Neha Rathi, said the amendments, introduced as money Bills, legitimise electoral corruption, while ensuring complete non-transparency in political funding.

Ministry of Health ranks first in Swachh Bharat initiative

  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has been adjudged as the best department for its contribution during ‘Swachhta Pakhwada’, an inter-ministry initiative of the Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • The Ministry observed the Swachhta Pakhwada from February 1-15.
  • The award was presented on the third anniversary of the Mission on October 2.
  • “Swachhta Pakhwada was observed within the Ministry offices, in Central Government Hospitals, and in public health facilities in all the States/UTs,” noted a release issued by the Ministry.

India set to ink $4.5-bn credit deal with Bangladesh

News:

  • Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley arrived here on Tuesday ahead of India and Bangladesh signing the third line of credit (LoC) agreement involving $4.5 billion to be spent on infrastructure and social sector development.

Beyond News:

  • Two agreements for the implementation of the third LoC and the ‘Joint Interpretative Notes on the Agreement between India and Bangladesh for the Promotion and Protection of Investments’ would also be signed .
  • The two countries signed the first LoC in August 2010. The second one was inked in March, 2016.
  • Mr. Jaitley would call on the Bangladesh premier and inaugurate, along with his counterpart, a new scheme for cashless transactions in visa services run by the State Bank of India on behalf of the Indian High Commission here.

{Op-Ed}The cold facts.

Issue:
Ever since the influenza virus known as H1N1 landed on Indian shores during the 2009 pandemic, outbreaks have been an annual occurrence.

Background:

  • The worst case was in 2015, when 2,990 people succumbed to it.
  • This year the virus has been particularly active; mortality, at 1,873 by the last week of September, is quickly catching up with the 2015 toll.
  • In comparison, official figures show 2016 to be a relatively benign year, with an H1N1 death toll of 265. The problem with these official figures, however, is that they only capture H1N1 numbers, a practice that has been adopted in response to the severity of the 2009 pandemic.
  • But influenza was present in India even before 2009 in the form of H3N2 and Influenza B virus types.
  • Out of these, H3N2 is capable of causing outbreaks as big as H1N1, and yet India does not track H3N2 cases as extensively as it does H1N1.
  • This means that seemingly benign years such as 2016 may probably not be benign at all.

Inferences:

  • All this indicates that India’s surveillance systems are still poor and underestimate the influenza burden substantially.
  • If numbers are unsatisfactorily tracked, so are changes in the viral genome.
  • Sequencing is important because it can detect mutations in genetic material that help the virus evade human immune systems, making it more deadly.

Way ahead:

  • Vaccination is the best weapon that India has against this menace, because Oseltamivir, the antiviral commonly deployed against flu, is of doubtful efficacy unless administered early enough.
  • Yet, India has thus far stayed away from vaccinating even high-risk groups such as pregnant women and diabetics, because influenza is thought to be a more manageable public health challenge compared to mammoths such as tuberculosis.
  • Better surveillance of influenza will possibly change this perception by revealing the true scale of this public health issue.

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