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- An organ transplant racket has surfaced in Tamil Nadu. Officials of the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare have found that hearts harvested from brain-dead patients were given to foreign nationals, bypassing Indian patients on the waiting list.
- In 2017, foreigners got about 25% of all heart transplants in the State and 33% of lung transplants.
- Acting on this Directorate General of Health Services convened an urgent meeting in New Delhi recently and framed strict guidelines for allocation of organs to foreigners.
- National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO)which functions under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, is an all-India apex body for coordination and networking for procurement and distribution of organs/tissues and transplantation.
- The protocol is that an organ should first be offered to an Indian. If no Indian is available, an NRI should be considered. The question of an international patient arises only when both Indian and NRI patients decline an organ offer.
- Going by the rule book, allocation of organs to recipients on the waiting list is based on criteria that include the date of registration and the medical condition of the recipient.
- The wealth, race or gender of a person on the waiting list has no bearing on when and whether a person will receive a donated organ. The Transplantation of Human Organs Act of 1994 makes it illegal to buy or sell human organs in India.
- Health is a State subject, we can only frame national guidelines. States should implement the guidelines. They have to take strong action… they are the appropriate authority to take steps to unravel the truth.
- InteInterestingly, while the wait list of active patients as on June 9, 2018 had 53 foreigners, it had 5,310 Indians.restingly, while the wait list of active patients as on June 9, 2018 had 53 foreigners, it had 5,310 Indians.
- It was decided that strategies for maximising utilisation of organs by Indian recipients should be worked out by State governments and post-transplant data on follow-ups and outcome of transplants for every recipient be compiled.
- National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO) is a National level organization set up under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
- It has following two divisions:
- “National Human Organ and Tissue Removal and Storage Network”
- “National Biomaterial Centre”.
- This has been mandated as per the Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act 2011. The network will be established initially for Delhi and gradually expanded to include other States and Regions of the country. Thus, this division of the NOTTO is the nodal networking agency for Delhi and shall network for Procurement Allocation and Distribution of Organs and Tissues in Delhi.
National Network division of NOTTO would function as apex centre for All India activities of coordination and networking for procurement and distribution of Organs and Tissues and registry of Organs and Tissues Donation and Transplantation in the country.
- The protected water bodies the temple ponds across northeast India have emerged as safe havens for many threatened species of freshwater turtles, including the Nilssonia nigricans or Black Softshell turtle, declared extinct in the wild by the IUCN Red list.
- However, given their ritual nature, scientists are denied complete access to these ponds and hence have used the technique of extracting environmental DNA (eDNA) to confirm the presence of specific varieties. eDNA based specimen identification through DNA barcoding successfully detected the targeted taxa from environmental water samples.
- In addition to N. nigricans, tests at the Nagshankar temple pond in Assam have confirmed the presence of two more species Nilssonia gangetica or Indian softshell turtle, classified as Vulnerable, and Chitra indica or South Asian narrow-headed softshell turtle, listed as Endangered by the IUCN.
- Environmental DNA (eDNA) is nuclear or mitochondrial DNA that is released from an organism into the environment. Sources of eDNA include secreted faeces, mucous, gametes, shed skin, hair and carcasses. Recent research has shown that the DNA of a range of aquatic organisms can be detected in water samples at very low concentrations using qPCR (quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction) methods.
- In aquatic environments, eDNA is diluted and distributed in the water where it persists for 7–21 days, depending on the conditions. However, the DNA of organisms once trapped in sediments can be preserved for thousands of years.
is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species. It uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species and subspecies. These criteria are relevant to all species and all regions of the world. With its strong scientific base, the IUCN Red List is recognized as the most authoritative guide to the status of biological diversity.
The IUCN system uses a set of five quantitative criteria to assess the extinction risk of a given species. In general, these criteria consider:
- The rate of population decline
- The geographic range
- Whether the species already possesses a small population size
- Whether the species is very small or lives in a restricted area
- Whether the results of a quantitative analysis indicate a high probability of extinction in the wild
After a given species has been thoroughly evaluated, it is placed into one of several categories.In addition, three of the categories (CR, EN, and VU) are contained within the broader notion of “threatened.”
- Extinct (EX), a designation applied to species in which the last individual has died or where systematic and time-appropriate surveys have been unable to log even a single individual
- Extinct in the Wild (EW), a category containing those species whose members survive only in captivity or as artificially supported populations far outside their historical geographic range
- Critically Endangered (CR), a category containing those species that possess an extremely high risk of extinction as a result of rapid population declines of 80 to more than 90 percent over the previous 10 years (or three generations), a current population size of fewer than 50 individuals, or other factors
- Endangered (EN), a designation applied to species that possess a very high risk of extinction as a result of rapid population declines of 50 to more than 70 percent over the previous 10 years (or three generations), a current population size of fewer than 250 individuals, or other factors
- Vulnerable (VU), a category containing those species that possess a very high risk of extinction as a result of rapid population declines of 30 to more than 50 percent over the previous 10 years (or three generations), a current population size of fewer than 1,000 individuals, or other factors
- Near Threatened (NT), a designation applied to species that are close to becoming threatened or may meet the criteria for threatened status in the near future
- Least Concern (LC), a category containing species that are pervasive and abundant after careful assessment
- Data Deficient (DD), a condition applied to species in which the amount of available data related to its risk of extinction is lacking in some way. Consequently, a complete assessment cannot be performed. Thus, unlike the other categories in this list, this category does not describe the conservation status of a species
- Not Evaluated (NE), a category used to include any of the nearly 1.6 million species described by science but not assessed by the IUCN
All else being equal, a species experiencing an 90 percent decline over 10 years (or three generations), for example, would be classified as critically endangered. Likewise, another species undergoing a 50 percent decline over the same period would be classified as endangered, and one experiencing a 30 percent reduction over the same time frame would be considered vulnerable. It is important to understand, however, that a species cannot be classified by using one criterion alone; it is essential for the scientist doing the assessment to consider all five criteria when determining the status of the species.
- British authorities have confirmed to Indian officials that fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, accused of bank fraud worth Rs. 13,000 crore, is in the U.K. and assured them of cooperation in locating him.
- The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said on Monday that it had sent a request to the Interpol for issuance of a Red Notice against Mr. Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi.
This article is a bit political analysis , but have some important analysis in relation to internal security and Pak .
- The Narendra Modi government in New Delhi has decided to make a host of political concessions — in the form of conciliatory moves, positive responses and toned-down rhetoric — vis-à-vis Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and Pakistan.
- New Delhi has offered to reach out to the separatists in Kashmir (junking its earlier resolve not to engage them),
- reportedly carried out backchannel parleys with the separatist leadership in Srinagar,
- declared a ceasefire during the month of Ramzan, and agreed to maintain the 2003 ceasefire agreement on the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) with Pakistan.
- These moves have come against the backdrop of several worrying developments within J&K and on the border. For one, the intensity of ceasefire violations had been steadily rising, with damage to civilian habitats and civilian and military casualty rates going up.
- Past experience suggests that fire assaults and cross-border raids on the LoC are fraught with potential for bilateral escalation.
- Within Kashmir, an increasing number of local boys are joining the ranks of militancy, and terrorist attacks on civilian and military targets have been on the rise.
- There seems to be a counterintuitive rationale behind it. While the BJP has traditionally benefitted from a hardline policy in Kashmir, and towards Pakistan, the diminishing returns of such a policy have started kicking in. The use of force has failed to achieve its objectives. Hence, the potential to use the Kashmir or Pakistan bogey for electoral gains is limited for now.
- it would be risky for the government to have a violent border and a troubled Kashmir going into the 2019 campaign
- while the BJP’s hardline policy on the border initially received popular support in the Jammu region, such support is drastically fading now, given the displacement of tens of thousands of civilians from the border villages and the attendant misery for the local population.
- India’s policy of disproportionate bombardment against Pakistani forces, especially last year, has also not helped. For instance, India violated the ceasefire more than twice as Pakistan did in 2017 (i.e. India fired twice as much), but tables have already turned in 2018: Pakistan violated the ceasefire 1,252 times till May this year whereas India violated the ceasefire on 1,050 occasions. Adding to the locals problems.
- Both infiltration into J&K and militant attacks in the State have been on the rise. In 2014, 65 terrorists infiltrated into J&K, with the number steadily rising since then. In 2016 it was 119, and last year it went up to 123. In other words, New Delhi’s hardline policy has not only not worked, it has actually had the reverse effect.
- India and Pakistan have been signalling to each other for some time about the possibility of a rapprochement.
What’s next ?
- Both India and Pakistan, and in particular the people of J&K, will immensely benefit for these two ceasefires.
- Internal ceasefire:Government should have a clearly-articulated blueprint for bringing peace to Kashmir .
- Bilateral ceasefire: experience suggests that without political dialogue between India and Pakistan, especially on Kashmir, ceasefire agreements tend to break down.
- Measures such as formalising the ceasefire agreement through a written down document
- and regular scheduled meetings of Directors-General of Military Operations, among others would need to be taken by the two countries to sustain the ceasefire.
- Finally, and perhaps most important, there is an undeniable direct link between the Kashmir insurgency on the one hand, and India-Pakistan dialogue, maintenance of the ceasefire agreement, terrorist infiltration into J&K and terrorist violence in Kashmir on the other.
- it’s time to invest in negotiations, political concessions and soft power. And Pakistan must make efforts to control terrorist infiltration into Kashmir for these to be successful.
- In news: The NITI Aayog has published an ambitious discussion paper on kickstarting the artificial intelligence (AI) ecosystem in India.
- AI is the use of computers to mimic human cognitive processes for decision-making.
- The paper talks of powering five sectors — agriculture, education, health care, smart cities/infrastructure and transport — with AI.
- It highlights the potential for India to become an AI ‘garage’, or solutions provider, for 40% of the world.
- The U.S., Japan and China have published their AI strategy documents and, importantly, put their money where their aspirations are.
- The NITI Aayog does not talk about how India’s ambitions will be funded, but proposes an institutional structure to get things going.
- This structure includes a network of basic and applied research institutions, and a CERN-like multinational laboratory that would focus on global AI challenges.
- India hardly has any AI expertise today. The paper estimates that it has around 50 top-notch AI researchers, concentrated in elite institutions like the IITs.
- Further, only around 4% of Indian AI professionals are trained in emerging technologies such as deep learning.
- And while India does publish a lot, these publications aren’t very impactful; India’s H-index, a measure of how often its papers are cited, is behind 18 other countries.
- The technology has tripped up as often as it has delivered. Among successes, a recent study found that a Google neural network correctly identified cancerous skin lesions more often than expert dermatologists did. India, with its acute shortage of specialist doctors in rural areas, could benefit greatly from such a tool.
- On the other hand, studies have found that AI image-recognition technologies do badly at identifying some races, because the data used to train them over-represent other races.
- This highlights the importance of quality data in building smart AI tools;
- Recent foreign policy moves by New Delhi indicate an inflexion point. Combining orthodox ideas from the Cold War era along with 21st century pragmatism, it appears that India has decided that the emerging multipolar world is becoming far too complicated for the binary choices and easy solutions that some had envisioned for the country’s foreign policy.
- Not only has it recast its approach to the maritime Indo-Pacific but as the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit exemplifies, it is also building deeper and more constructive links with continental Eurasia.
Prime Minister’s speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore laid out a framework that might outlast the present government. The speech was dominated by four themes that collectively tell us about the evolving foreign policy.
- First, the central theme was that at a time when the world is facing power shifts, uncertainty and competition over geopolitical ideas and political models, India would project itself as an independent power and actor across Asia.India’s ties with the three great powers.
- Russia and the United States were called as partners with whom India has relationships based on overlapping interests in international and Asian geopolitics.
- India-China relations were portrayed in complex terms as having “many layers” but with a positive undertone that stability in that relationship is important for India and the world.
- The message was that India will not be part of a closed group of nations or aggregate Indian power in a bloc, but will chart out its own course based on its own capacity and ideas.
- India has become too big to be part of any political-military camp whose design and role in Asian affairs is being conceived elsewhere, upon ideas that India might not fully share, and where India has a marginal role in strategy and policy implementation.
- Second, even as China’s rise has undoubtedly increased the demand and space for India to increase its region-wide engagement, India’s role in the vast Indo-Pacific is no longer envisaged as a China-centric one.
- Third, despite this policy adjustment, India’s approach to the region is not going to be a hands-off policy or one devoid of norms. We continued to hear an emphasis on a “free, open, inclusive region” and a “common rules-based” Indo-Pacific order.
- Finally, without mentioning either,PM urged both the U.S. and China to manage their rivalry and prevent their “normal” competition from descending into conflict. “Asia of rivalry will hold us all back. Asia of cooperation will shape this century.
- After drifting towards the U.S. for the past decade, Delhi is rediscovering a posture and policy for a multipolar world as well as taking greater responsibility for its own future and destiny.
- Reflecting its unique geographical position at the rimland of Eurasia and at the mouth of the Indo-Pacific, India’s foreign policy is likely to be driven by a dual attention to the balance of power and order building in the continental and maritime environment around the subcontinent.
Less than a year ago, North Korea scored a ‘nuclear double’. In July 2017, it launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles, the first capable of reaching Alaska, and the second, the Hwasong-14, capable of reaching California. In November, it detonated its most powerful nuclear weapon — a 120 kiloton-boosted fission device.For long, North Korea had been seen as an impoverished state, run by a megalomaniac dictator, trying to punch way above its weight by defying the United Nations and the U.S. Yet, last year, it was very close to establishing a viable nuclear deterrent against the world’s biggest superpower.
By late 2017, these developments had brought the world closer to a potential nuclear exchange than perhaps at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. both North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump kept exchanging threats and barbs.Fortunately, matters have greatly improved since, aided by some statesman-like initiatives by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Today, Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump will sit across the table and start negotiations.
The impact of sanctions
When North Korea pulled out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003 and intensified its nuclear programme, the UN imposed sanctions. But the North Korean regime continued to conduct missile and nuclear weapon tests, provoking the UN and the U.S. to impose more severe sanctions in the hope that North Korea would abandon its nuclear programme. But that did not happen.The prolonged sanctions have had a very serious impact on the North Korean economy.
But the resulting hardship has not caused any internal protests or revolt in North Korea, threatening Mr. Kim’s rule.The regime survived those years through a combination of a brutal internal security apparatus, political indoctrination, and tight media control.But although North Korea has found the sanctions manageable and continued with its nuclear programme, it would certainly like to have the sanctions eased.
There has been a deep-rooted conviction in the successive Kim regimes that only a nuclear deterrent can keep the U.S. at bay — a view that has only been reinforced by the downfall and eventual assassination of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi after he gave up his nuclear programme.
Fortunately, 2018 saw some ‘Olympics diplomacy’ coming to the rescue.This provided the diplomatic opportunity for the two Koreas to address more serious bilateral issues as well as the stand-off with the U.S. A North-South summit was scheduled for April and, more importantly, a message was conveyed to the U.S.
To Mr. Trump’s credit, he has further softened his earlier demand for “the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula” before any lifting of sanctions and has instead settled for “credible steps” by North Korea towards that goal. The North is extremely unlikely to give up its entire nuclear deterrent, no matter what the inducement. Instead, it might, in stages, offer to suspend further weapon and missile tests, desist from producing more fissile materials and from non-deployment of shorter range missiles that could threaten Japan or South Korea, and perhaps work towards partial disarmament.
- External Affairs Minister held a high-power meeting on Monday to discuss a deadline set by the Maldives for India to withdraw its helicopters gifted to the island nation.
- Tensions over the presence of the two Indian helicopters in two different strategically important locations in Laamu and Addu atolls have been growing over the past few weeks, forcing the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to step in to defuse the situation.
- India had gifted two Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) to Maldives in 2013, of which one was operated by the Indian Coast Guard and the other by the Indian Navy.
- In the normal course, Letters of Exchange (LoE) are renewed for two years at a time, but on this occasion the Present Maldivian government refused to do so and has since made it clear that it would like India to remove them and their crew entirely.
- Maldives has also not approved an LoE sent by India for a Dornier maritime patrol aircraft that the Maldives had itself requested.
Prelims: An Atoll sometimes called a coral atoll, is a ring-shaped coral reef including a coral rim that encircles a lagoon partially or completely.
- India will host the first military exercise of the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) group focussing on counter-terrorism in September. As part of this, a conclave of the Army chiefs of all seven member-states is being planned.
- The aim of the exercise is to promote strategic alignment among the member-states and to share best practices in the area of counter-terrorism.
- The theme includes counter-terrorism in semi-urban terrain and cordon and search, and each side will bring in some 30 soldiers.
- BIMSTEC countries held a disaster management exercise in 2017, but this is the first military exercise of the grouping which brings together important neighbours of India in South and Southeast Asia.
- BIMSTEC is an international organisation involving a group of countries in South Asia and South East Asia.
- Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal are its members.
- In news:the government has finally made some headway and provided cash incentives to nearly 23.6 lakh beneficiaries out of an estimated 51.6 lakh a year under Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY).
- Issues:Many States like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Odisha and West Bengal have not yet come on board to implement the scheme. As these States account for nearly 25% of the total beneficiaries.
- The scheme is being implemented on a 60:40 cost-sharing basis with the State governments.
The maternity benefits under Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) are available to all Pregnant Women & Lactating Mothers (PW&LM) except those in regular employment with the Central Government or State Government or Public Sector Undertaking or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being in force, for first living child of the family as normally, the first pregnancy of a woman exposes her to new kind of challenges and stress factors.
The eligible beneficiaries gets Rs. 5,000/- under PMMVY and the remaining cash incentive as per approved norms towards Maternity Benefit under Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) after institutional delivery so that on an average, a woman gets Rs. 6000/-.
(i) providing partial compensation for the wage loss in terms of cash incentives so that the woman can take adequate rest before and after delivery of the first living child; and
(ii) the cash incentives provided would lead to improved health seeking behaviour amongst the Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW&LM).
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed a minimum 40% loan component for working capital funding of Rs. 150 crore and above to bring in greater credit discipline and improve monetary transmission.
- According to draft guidelines, the RBI has proposed that the loan component of 40% will come into effect from October 1 and will be increased to 60% from April 1, 2019. The loan’s tenure will be minimum seven days.
- What changes?
- First, if there is a loan component then there will be a repayment schedule which will put pressure on borrowers to manage their liquidity.
- Secondly, since the loan component will have a fixed tenure, the reset clause can be invoked at the end of each tenure period.
- If there is one thing that has changed in Indian agriculture in recent times, it is supply response — the ability of farmers to increase production when prices go up. Traditionally, the supply curve in most crops was near vertical: No matter the price, the quantity harvested and sold remained virtually the same.
- In the past, sugar production typically took two years to recover from a drought. But 2017-18 will see output rebound to a record 32 mt-plus, from a seven-year-low of 20.26 mt last season. Thus, the old “sugar cycle”, where three bumper years were followed by two lows, is dead.
- The same goes for vegetables.
- So what changed? Better seeds and faster diffusion of technology have made a difference. HD-2967, a blockbuster wheat variety released in 2011, could cover 10 million hectares area in a single season within five years. Along with HD-3086, a newer variety more resistant to yellow rust fungus, but the story of yield increases isn’t limited to publicly-bred open-pollinated varieties (OPV).
- The technologies in all these — be it hybrid seeds, high-density cultivation using tissue-cultured plants, or drip irrigation — have been supplied by the likes of DuPont, Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta and Jain Irrigation.
- In short, the farm supply curve has been flattened, both by better seed technology and improved roads, electricity, irrigation and communication infrastructure. Farmers are also more aware about prices and the latest hybrids/varieties, crop protection chemicals, machinery and agronomic practices — from laser levelling and raised-bed planting to seed treatment — than, say, 20 years ago. As a result, they take far less time to respond to high prices.
- Downside:is that it makes gluts commonplace and shortages temporary. We have, indeed, entered a regime of “permanent surpluses” in most crops — a reality our policymakers are unable to grasp, stuck as they are in the era of the Essential Commodities Act.
- The moment prices now go up, the immediate reaction is to impose stock-holding limits, allow duty-free imports, restrict exports and inter-state movement of produce,Thesesupply-side management measures have acquired legitimacy with the policy of “inflation targeting.
- There is practically no agri-commodity today that isn’t a victim of “permanent surpluses”
The ECA was enacted way back in 1955. It has since been used by the Government to regulate the production, supply and distribution of a whole host of commodities it declares ‘essential’in order to make them available to consumers at fair prices.
- The list of items under the Act include drugs, fertilisers, pulses and edible oils, and petroleum and petroleum products. The Centre can include new commodities as and when the need arises, and take them off the list once the situation improves.
- Here’s how it works. If the Centre finds that a certain commodity is in short supply and its price is spiking, it can notify stock-holding limits on it for a specified period. The States act on this notification to specify limits and take steps to ensure that these are adhered to. Anybody trading or dealing in a commodity , be it wholesalers, retailers or even importers are prevented from stockpiling it beyond a certain quantity.
- A State can, however, choose not to impose any restrictions. But once it does, traders have to immediately sell into the market any stocks held beyond the mandated quantity. This improves supplies and brings down prices.
- It empowers the government to control prices directly too. The recent amendment to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules 2011 is linked to the ECA. The Government can fix the retail price of any packaged commodity that falls under the ECA.