Topic: Health & Sanitation and related issues
Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is an anti-malarial drug similar to chloroquine, one of the oldest and best-known anti-malarial drugs, but with lesser side-effects. It can be bought over the counter and is fairly inexpensive.
The drug shot to fame as it is shown to have shortened the time to clinical recovery of COVID-19 patients. However, many of these are in small lab-controlled testing and no proper human trials have been conducted to determine its efficacy.
The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has cleared HCQ to be used as a prophylaxis, or preventive medication, by doctors, nurses and other health staff. Union Health Ministry, last month, moved it to Schedule H1, which can be sold on prescription only.
U.S. President Donald Trump has been a proponent of its use, calling it a “game changer”. He warned “retaliation” against India, if it didn’t revoke the ban on its exports. India eventually allowed export of the drug.
Topic: Role of Media and Social Networking Sites in internal security challenges
The Central government made a claim, on the eve of April 1, April Fool’s Day, that “fake news” alone is responsible for the untold misery and loss of life of migrant workers after the lockdown. It is important to examine this in the light of what “fake news” actually means, that is, a report, presented as authoritative, of an event which never actually occurred.
Fake news is a menace not only because it is usually motivated by an intent to deceive and misinform but also because it may induce people to act on the information. This can have grave consequences, especially where the penetration of mobile telephony and social media exceeds that of education and awareness.
Editorial | Uncritical endorsement: On exodus of migrant workers and the Supreme Court
For many who engage in political discourse, however, “fake news” is used as an epithet to describe any critical comment or opposing viewpoint. By branding criticism as “fake news”, governments draw on the consensus that fake news is pernicious, obviating the need to respond to the content of the criticism. If it is fake news, after all, it merits no response. Used in this way, the phrase “fake news” is used as an antidote to any opposition or critique.
Such usage is disingenuous. News reports facts. “Fake news” is a report of facts that are knowingly false, presented as “news”. By definition, news is not opinion, which can be wrong, but it cannot be “fake”. Therefore, an opinion that you disagree with, cannot be branded as “fake news”, because it is just that, opinion. You cannot, by mischaracterising criticism as “fake news”, escape from having to respond to it.
Contemporary political discourse has taken this dangerous approach a step further. Where governments are criticised for causing suffering among their people, the suffering is instead attributed to the menace of “fake news”. For example, after the precipitous announcement of lockdown, the government has been criticised for failing to anticipate the exodus of migrant workers; failing to make advance provision for food, shelter or salaries; failing to communicate with State governments to formulate a coordinated approach before the lockdown; and failing to communicate with the public regarding what migrant workers should do in view of the lockdown.
The government’s response to the mass exodus was, by any yardstick, uncoordinated, where initially there was abject confusion, then the States reportedly provided vehicles to ferry the workers, and, finally, the States were directed to seal their borders. The human loss was incalculable, with hundreds of thousands undertaking Partition-esque journeys across hundreds of kilometres in a desperate bid to return home, leading to the tragic loss of lives and enormous suffering that are yet to be fully documented. The newspapers continue to report that food and shelter are still not reaching many of the migrant workers. These criticisms certainly deserve a response.
Instead of responding, the government, on affidavit to the Supreme Court of India in response to petitions that migrant workers need to be provided for during lockdown, says that the only culprit for the loss of life and hardship of migrant workers is, simply, “fake news”. Apparently, the sole reason that migrant workers undertook the punishing journey back home across hundreds of kilometres back home was “fake news” that the lockdown would extend to three months rather than three weeks. The prospect of three weeks without food, shelter or basic amenities was, according to the government, not devastating enough to motivate workers to return home. Fake news is apparently to blame for upsetting the government’s careful calculation that millions of migrant workers would have serenely stayed put and there would have been no hardship whatsoever.
Also read | In Bareilly, migrants returning home sprayed with ‘disinfectant’
This begs a raft of questions: “Fake news” is a statement that is knowingly false — what was the false statement that constituted “fake news” in this case? Was it the announcement of relief measures for three months by the Finance Minister triggering speculation that the 21-day lockdown could be extended to June 30? Isn’t the government extending the lockdown and isn’t its eventual duration still uncertain? Was extending the lockdown a decision that the government could even have taken on March 24, or would it depend on an assessment of the situation closer to April 14? Could any of us, including the government, categorically have said on March 24 that the lockdown would not be extended, depending on the situation prevailing on April 14? Was the government itself the source of what it is now calling “fake news”?
The government cannot be permitted, by the artifice of “fake news”, to bypass the criticism that it should have planned better, coordinated between Centre and State governments, and been clear in strategy and communication. These are not hindsight criticisms either. Lessons could and should have been learned from deficiencies in similar announcements made earlier by foreign governments regarding COVID-19 measures. Chanting the mantra of “fake news” cannot wish away these questions.
Also read | Migrant workers in Surat come out on road demanding salaries
The Supreme Court passed an order on March 31 directing the media to carry the official version of events of the pandemic, which the government is to publish on a daily basis. With little to go on other than the government’s fervid assertions that it had taken more than adequate measures in response to COVID-19, the Court perhaps did not want to enter the thicket of whether better government planning and communication could have avoided or reduced the suffering of migrant workers, or whether the source of the so-called “fake news” was the government itself. The Court, fortunately, made clear that it did not intend to stifle discussion of the pandemic, else even this piece could not have been published. If false information circulated on social media is dangerous because it can trigger action, misleading statements or lack of clarity in government messaging is even more dangerous, given the credibility of the source. What “fake news” is not, is a dissenting opinion or a viewpoint the establishment does not like. No government should be permitted to hide behind a vague assertion of “fake news” to abdicate responsibility for its actions. Not even on April Fool’s Day.
Topic: Rights & Welfare of Persons with Disability including Mentally ill
People – Schemes & their Performance, Mechanisms, Laws Institutions and Bodies
People with disabilities need much more support than others in the face of a pandemic. They may not be eating properly and may experience higher stress because they are unable to understand what is happening all around them, says G.V.S. Murthy, Vice-President and Director, Indian Institute of Public Health, Hyderabad.
What are the unique challenges that people with disability face?
People with disability have special issues in a situation like the spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). People with disability are a diverse group, experiencing different hardships in accessing information on prevention and risk of infection.
People with visual impairment and blindness depend upon touch for most of their daily activities. They need to hold the hand of an escort to move around; they cannot read the messages that the rest of the population can see; they cannot practice social distancing unless there are innovative approaches like keeping a safe distance using a white cane.
For the hearing impaired, especially those who are not literate, they cannot hear the message or read it. Since many depend on lip-reading, they are compromised when the person giving a message is wearing a mask.
None of the messages in the media is using sign language interpreters. The physically disabled cannot reach a wash basin or may not be able to wash their hands vigorously.
Children and adolescents with conditions like cerebral palsy or Down’s Syndrome need to be assisted in feeding. People with mental health issues cannot comprehend the messages. At the same time, people with disabilities have a higher risk of conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, which are high-risk factors for COVID-19 mortality. Therefore, people with disabilities need much more support than the rest of the population in the face of a pandemic.
They may not be eating properly and may experience higher stress because they are unable to understand what is happening all around them, over which they have no control.
Women with disability have additional issues. They are vulnerable to exploitation and even more so during a pandemic. Many of them have children without disability and are highly stressed as to how they can care for them and family members because they are not supported to care for them.
People with communication disabilities don’t know how to express their problems. Routine health needs that they have are also not provided as health centres or transportation facilities are not accessible.
What is the scale of the problem?
India is home to nearly 150 million people with some degree of disability. Nearly 25-30 million have severe disability. Most of them live as part of their families and depend on a career. This adds to another 25-30 million carers. Therefore, we are looking at nearly 50 million people who need special support, which is not routinely forthcoming.
How can the public and government help?
India has signed up to achieve sustainable development goals, the cornerstone of which is universal access to health and education and equity. The government and the organisations working with people with disabilities have to make efforts to convert prevention and care messages on COVID-19 into an accessible format.
Health facilities should prioritize the needs of people with disabilities over the rest of the population. Decreasing waiting time in hospitals for them will reduce contact with other asymptomatic carriers of the novel corona-virus. Their medicine needs have to be provided for. Mobile health teams can provide them services at their homes rather than having them travel to hospitals. A dedicated helpline can be set up for this so that the medical team can reach them. They need to be assured of supplies of soap, sanitisers and tissues.
The general public needs to be educated on providing support for people with disabilities. Technology-savvy professionals can help to make information available in an accessible format for people with disabilities.
Students with disabilities also need to be provided support so that they can keep up academically. Therefore, online teaching programmes should be made available to them in an accessible format. Civil society should volunteer their time to provide this sort of support. Since many of them will not be able to access professional carers during a lockdown, civil society volunteers should help. Even for supporting cooking and other self-care activities, volunteers should step in.
Inclusive society is the need of the hour. We don’t want to face a situation where medical equipment is prioritised based on younger populations being cared for at the cost of the elderly and the people with disability, as happened in countries like Spain where there was a limited number of ventilators and beds, which could not cope with the avalanche of cases that needed critical care.
A country’s development is measured by its social support and inclusive policies. We need to set high standards and not succumb to the ‘might is right’ philosophy and abandon people with disability in this crisis.
What is the current situation?
Nobody is addressing the special needs of people with disabilities and making efforts at reaching out to them. We would fail as a human race if we don’t show a humane response in an equitable manner with affirmative action for people with disabilities.
Health facilities should prioritise the needs of people with disabilities over the rest of the population
Topic: Role of NGOs, SHGs, Donors & Charities, and Institutional & other Stakeholders in Development Process Ministry of Rural Development
NRLM Self Help Group women emerge as community warriors to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country
About 2 crore masks have been produced by around 78,000 SHG members of 27 State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs);
More than 5000 PPE kits manufactured by SHGs in various states; Around 900 SHG enterprises in 9 States have produced more than 1 lakh litres of hand sanitiser, Some SHGs have also produced liquid soaps to guarantee hand hygiene
COVID-19 outbreak has presented an unprecedented health emergency worldwide. In India, this has led to increased requirement of medical facilities including masks, personal protective equipment (PPE) and face shields for medical and police personnel, cleaning staff etc. Government is also making the use of masks by the citizen’s compulsory in most areas.
The strength of Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), Ministry of Rural Development, are the approximately 690 lakh women members of around 63 lakh Self Help Groups (SHGs) across the country. SHG members have emerged as community warriors by contributing in every possible way to contain the spread of COVID-19. As the masks were the first line of defence against COVID-19, SHGs immediately took up the task of production of masks. Various categories of masks including 2-3 ply woven and non-woven surgical masks, cotton masks etc. adhering to the advisories of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Ministry of Consumers’ Affairs and instructions of Health Departments from the states are produced by SHGs. The masks have been supplied to the health department, Local Self Government (LSGs), local administration, front line workers, police officials, and are also sold in open markets. It has also been distributed free to the rural households in many states. SHG members have now also started making Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like aprons, gowns, face shields etc.
Details of masks, PPE, face shield etc produced through SHG network and media coverage are as follows:
The micro-enterprises supported by DAY-NRLM have taken up the production of hand sanitisers and hand wash products to ensure the availability in rural areas. 900 SHG enterprises in 9 States have produced 1.15 lakh litres of sanitisers with the production in the three States of Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh exceeding 25,000 litres each. Around 900 SHG enterprises located across the states of Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Mizoram are producing sanitizers to feed soaring demand.
Following guidelines proposed by World Health Organization (WHO), a well-measured mix of four ingredients has been used to develop these sanitizers in Jharkhand. The sanitizer has been developed using alcohol (72%), distilled water (13%), glycerin (13%) and basil (2%). For their medicinal effects, lemon grass or basil are being added to the hand sanitizer to increase its effectiveness in destroying the virus. Priced modestly at Rs. 30/- per 100 ml bottle of sanitizer, they are being made available to the general public, hospitals and police stations.
Some SHGs have also been selling liquid soaps to guarantee safe hand hygiene. SHG units located in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu have also been able to produce 50,000 litres of hand-washing products.
Sustaining their livelihoods through socially responsive contributions in promoting safe hygiene practices within their respective communities, these women have been fighting the COVID-19 outbreak with utmost dedication and devotion.
The World Bank has released the South Asia Economic Focus report. The report saw India’s growth at 1.5-2.8% in 2020-21 which is the slowest since 1991 economic reforms.
o TheAsian Development Bank (ADB) sees India’s economic growth decrease to 4% in the current fiscal.
o S&P Global Ratingshas estimated the GDP growth forecast for the country to 3.5% from a previous downgrade of 5.2%.
o Moody’s Investors Servicehas slashed its estimate of India’s GDP growth during the 2020 calendar year to 2.5%, from an earlier estimate of 5.3%.
1991 Economic Reforms
South Asia Economic Focus
Why in News
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has clarified that the contributions to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund or the State relief fund will not qualify as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) expenditure, while any donation to the PM CARES Fund will.
o Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013 provides the list of activities that can be included in CSR.
Corporate Social Responsibility
o Eradicating extreme hunger and poverty,
o Promotion of education, gender equality and empowering women,
o Combating Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and other diseases,
o Ensuring environmental sustainability;
o Contribution to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund or any other fund set up by the Central Government for socio-economic development and relief and funds for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, other backward classes, minorities and women etc.
Science & Technology
Why in News
Recently, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has initiated the Science and Technology of Yoga and Meditation (SATYAM) programme.
o Aims and objectives of proposed work.
o Existing literature.
o Expected outcome.
o Budget requirement.
o Details of host institutions along with detailed bio-data of the principal investigator with latest publications included in scientific journal databases.
o To provide assistance to societyin today’s critical condition arising due to pandemic Covid-19.
This is a need-based call,therefore, proposed work should be completed within 6-12 months.
o Dimensions of Covid:Covid-19 usually has three dimensions, related to:
Stress (worry, sitting at home).
o Scientific Investigation:The effects of yoga and meditation on the life of a person during such stressful times have to be scientifically investigated.
Sometimes, there is an empirical correlation in the actions and the outcome,but it needs to be understood scientifically.
o Modern Tools:All the participants are expected to work together using the modern tools of life science and bio-sciences to understand what works and what does not.
If something works, then what is the efficacy and in what conditions does it work.
o Holistic Target:The project may address improving immunity, improving respiratory systems and interventions to overcome respiratory disorders and other dimensions like stress, anxiety and depression-related issues due to isolation, uncertainty and disruption in normal life.
Science and Technology of Yoga and Meditation Programme
o Investigations on the effect of Yoga and Meditation on physical and mental health and well being.
o Investigations on the effect of Yoga and Meditation on the body, brain, and mind in terms of basic processes and mechanisms.
o Scientists/academicians with research background in ‘Yoga and Meditation’and having regular positions are invited to participate in this initiative.
o Practitioners actively involved in yoga and meditation practicesare also encouraged to apply in collaboration with academic and research institutions of repute.
Cognitive Science Research Initiative
o To foster scientific research in the interdisciplinary field of Cognitive Science for better understanding of Indian mind sets, languages and cognitive disorders etc.
o Nature and origins of mental disorders, of physiological, social and neuro-chemical origins.
o Design of better learning tools and educational paradigm.
o Design of better software technologies and artificial intelligence devices.
o Streamlining of social policy formulation and analysis.
o Individual R&D Projects.
o Multi-centric Mega Projects.
o Post Doctoral Fellowship.
o Support for Schools, Training, Workshops, Conferences, etc.
Science & Technology
Why in News
Recently, there have been concerns about the manner in which some Covid-19 patients have apparently relapsed due to false negative tests.
False Negative Test
o An initial swab sample may not always collect enough genetic materialto provide an accurate test.
o This problem may arise more often in patients who do not show many symptoms at the time of their test.
o If the infection is in the lung, then a nose swab may not detect it.
o According to a study on SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)respiratory swabs can be negative, but faeces may test positive in tests done at the same time which proves that the virus can exist in the body even if not in the nose at a given time.
Why in News
The French competition regulator has asked Google to negotiate with publishers and news agencies the remuneration due to them under the law relating to neighbouring rights.
o Performers (actors/musicians);
o Producers of sound recordings (also referred to as phonograms); and
o Broadcasting organizations.
Protection in India
o Copyright is a right given by the law to creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings. In fact, it is a bundle of rights including, inter alia, rights of reproduction, communication to the public, adaptation and translation of the work.
o Copyright is an Intellectual Property Right (IPR).
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names and images used in commerce.
Other IPRs include trademarks, geographical indications, industrial designs, patents, etc.
o Copyright as provided by the Indian Copyright Act is valid only within the borders of the country. To secure protection to Indian works in foreign countries, India has become a member of the following international conventions on copyright and neighbouring (related) rights:
Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic works, 1886.
Universal Copyright Convention (Revised in 1971).
Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms against Unauthorised Duplication of their Phonograms, 1971.
Multilateral Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation of Copyright Royalties, 1979.
Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, 1995.
Use of ICT in Education
Recently, the Bihar Education Project Council (BEPC) has launched a mobile application and plans to book a slot with the All India Radio (AIR) for the audio broadcast of study materials for government school students.
o Radio has a deep penetration into villages and is much simpler to operate.
o On Diksha app NCERT books are availablefree of cost for Class 1 to XII and have also integrated audio-visual media along with digital textbooks.
o Television andInternet facilities are still luxury items for many people
Why in News
Recently, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has launched two new initiatives – Bharat Padhe Online Campaign and YUKTI web-portal – for improving and monitoring the online education ecosystem in India.
Bharat Padhe Online
o It aims to fulfil the goals of the Ministry in the wake of Covid-19 to keep the academic community healthy, both physically & mentally and to enable a continuous high-quality learning environment for learners.
10.Ebola Death in Democratic Republic of Congo
Why in News
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Democratic Republic of Congo recorded a second Ebola death in days following more than seven weeks without a new case.
Ebola Virus Disease
Why in News
Women members of around 63 lakh Self Help Groups (SHGs) across the country formed under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), Ministry of Rural Development are contributing in every possible way to contain the spread of Covid-19.
o Bihar SRLM (JEEViKA):
Utilizing Mobile Vaani Platformto spread awareness among the community through voice messages and answering queries on Covid-19.
Mobile Vaani (MV)is a mobile-based voice media platform for underserved areas in India whereby users generate content in their own local dialect through an Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS).
o Uttar Pradesh SRLM (Prerna):
Use of rangolisand markings such as lines and circles to re-emphasise the need for ‘social distancing’.
Wall paintings to spread key messages about Covid prevention.
o Jharkhand SRML:
Initiated Didi helpline,which helps migrant labourers by providing them verified information 24 hours.
o Kerala SRML:
Dispelling the widespread fake news causing panic through its WhatsApp groupsand propagating only the right information.
Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission
o It lays special emphasis on targeting the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable communities (i.e. Antyodaya)and their financial inclusion.
o Innovative projects under National Rural Economic Transformation Project(NRETP) to pilot alternate channels of financial inclusion, creating value chains around rural products, introduce innovative models in livelihoods promotion and access to finance and scale-up initiatives on digital finance and livelihood interventions.
o DAY-NRLM provides for mutually beneficial working relationships and formal platforms for consultations between Panchayati Raj Institutions(PRIs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs).
o NRLM has also developed an activity map to facilitate convergence in different areas of interventionswhere NRLM institutions and PRIs could work together which has been disseminated to all SRLMs.
Why in News
12.Recently, Odisha’s Ganjam district administration banned the Meru Jatra festival and congregations related to it at temples on the occasion of Mahavishub Sankranti (13th April, 2020), due to Covid-19.
Meru Jatra Festival
o Danda as the name implies, isself-inflicted pain, which the danduas (people who participate in the festival) undergo to pay their obeisance to the lord Kali. It is also a form of worshipping the lord Shiva and his consort Parvati.
o The origin of the festivalis generally traced to 8th and 9th AD after the decadence of Buddhism in Orissa.
o Tara Tarini hill shrine, located at a hilltop on banks of the Rushikulya river,is a major centre of Shakti worship in Odisha.
o The twin goddesses Tara and Tarinirepresent one Shakti and are the main deity of Ganjam district (Odisha).
Why in News
Recently, sales of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) rose over 79 % to 8.38 lakh units in March compared to 4.68 lakh in the same month a year ago owing to good supply.
o One REC is created when one megawatt hour of electricityis generated from an eligible renewable energy source.
o RPO was instituted in 2011,it is a mandate that requires large power procurers to buy a predetermined fraction of their electricity from renewable sources.
Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC).
Why in News
o Yanomami, also called South American Indians,live in the remote forest of the Orinoco River basin in southern Venezuela and the northernmost reaches of the Amazon River basin in northern Brazil.
o They numbered around 27,000 individuals throughout their range.
o Yanomami live in small, scattered, semi-permanent villages and speak the Xirianá language.
o They practice hunting and slash-and-burn agriculture.
Minimum Support Price (MSP) to be implemented for Minor Forest Produces (MFP)
Important value additions:
Minimum Support Price for Minor Forest Produce Scheme
o To provide fair priceto the MFP gatherers and enhance their income level.
o To ensure sustainable harvestingof MFPs.
o To ensure huge social dividendfor MFP gatherers, majority of whom are tribals.
Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED)
Minor Forest Produce (MFP)
Delivery of S-400 air defence missile systems to be on schedule
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – International Relations; Bilateral agreements
Important value additions:
India’s economic growth to get affected amidst COVID-19
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Economy & GS-II – Global groupings
Important value additions:
The South Asia Economic Focus report
Pradhan Mantri Janaushadhi Kendra (PMJK): Corona Warriors delivering affordable quality medicines
Important value additions:
Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP)
COVID-19 and the crumbling world order
COVID-19 will fundamentally transform the world especially the following:
o Pawn in the hands of the great powers (who created these institutions post WW-II)
o Undemocratic and unrepresentative in its character
o Cash-strapped to fight crisis of this scale
o Its agenda is focused on high-table security issues and are not designed to serve humanity at large.
o Beijing has offered medical aid and expertise to those in need
o China has increased cooperation with its arch-rival Japan
Globally, societies could become more self-seeking and inward-looking
Source: The Hindu
Connecting the dots:
From the country’s eastern region, 853 SHGs involving 2516 rural women of Chhattisgarh have supplied masks to the state. Self-help groups in Odisha have manufactured more than a million masks for distribution of masks among common people. Arunachal Pradesh Municipal Corporation has asked SHGs to supply 10,000 face masks to prevent the spread of highly infectious COVID-19.
In Andhra Pradesh, 2254 groups of 13 sub-blocks of the district have followed the guidelines of government for the manufacturing of cloth face masks. Similarly, Karnataka rural self-help groups have produced 1.56 lakhs face masks just in 12 days with their dedication to prevent the spread of disease in the state.