Daily Analysis

An in-depth analysis of the best and most relevant editorials of the day from the best dailies known for civil services preparation.

DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS, 11th February 2019

Human-elephant conflict kills 1,713 people, 373 pachyderms in 3 years

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

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Why in News?

In the three years between 2015-2018, human-elephant conflict caused 1,713 human and 373 elephant deaths by unnatural causes, including electrocution and poaching. Experts say various factors, including habitat disturbance and urbanisation, could be the cause of the alarming rise in unnatural human and animal casualties.

Background

  • Electrocution of elephants is a particular cause for concern in managing India’s elephant population. 
  • Deaths caused by electrocution stood at 226, contributing to 60.6% of deaths since 2015, according to the data. 
  • In comparison, elephant deaths by all other causes, including train accidents, poaching and poisoning, added up to 147.

The statistics

Human-elephant conflict kills 1,713 people, 373 pachyderms in 3 years

Solutions

  • Policy should be formed to provide solutions suited to the particular geography. 
  • Habitat degradation is a major cause of elephant deaths. 
  • While compact landscapes like ones in the Nilgiris provide little space for interaction between wild elephants and people, disturbed landscapes, like Thevaram in Tamil Nadu’s Theni district, are linear forests and hence lead to issues such as crop raiding and human deaths.
  • Construction of physical barriers such as barbed wire fences, solar powered electric fences, and bio-fencing using cactus and boundary walls, to prevent the entry of elephants into agricultural land.

Source: The Hindu.

Decoding Vangchhia’s ancient art of holding water in rock amid Mizoram’s hills

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

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Why in News?

As climate change and extreme weather events push the world towards growing conflicts over water, a lost civilisation in Mizoram that turned rocks into hidden reservoirs could hold the key to water conservation in extreme conditions. 

Background

In January 2016, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) announced the discovery of a “living history museum” at Vangchhia, a village in Mizoram’s Champhai district bordering Myanmar.

About the site

  • The site, measuring about 45 sq km and located 260 km from Aizawl, has yielded pictographs etched on large stone slabs, menhirs — large standing stones — and a necropolis — a large cemetery — among other artefacts. 
  • The area is part of the Lower Himalayas, and has rows of steep hills largely made up of various kinds of sandstone shading from light grey to blackish. 
  • The ancient people of Vangchhia carved terraces on these rocks for their settlement — the main excavated site consists of 15 such terraces.
  • But what fascinated the archaeologists the most was a water pavilion and strategically drilled holes — between one feet and one metre across — spread over several sandstone slopes. 
  • The grey sandstone is softer and home to the holes while the harder black rock is used for menhirs, ASI researchers said.

Theories behind and significance

  • In two years of study since the discovery of the Vangchhia site, researchers have arrived at some theories behind the “seemingly simple science” of water harvesting, perfected several centuries ago, which could sustain local populations for at least a year.
  • It is remarkable how they trapped rainwater flowing down the slopes by making holes to let the water flow in and be stored in the fissures and veins of the rocks.
  • Denying enemies easy access to water storage areas is believed to have been one of the reasons behind the holes.
  • Most of the ethnic groups that inhabited these areas were at war, and the possibility of raiders poisoning water reservoirs or stealing water could have made locals devise this strategy to dissuade those not familiar with the topography.
  • Water harvesting, however, seems to be at the heart of the activity with the nearest river, the Tlau, 12 km away as the crow flies beyond several hills.

Source: The Hindu.

As new cases rise, leprosy in spotlight

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

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Context

The rise in the number of recorded leprosy cases from 86,147 (in 2013-14) to 90,709 (2017-18), reported a decade and a half after India was declared leprosy-free in 2005, has turned the spotlight on the hotspots for the disease.

Background

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has set the goal of zero children with leprosy and deformities by 2020, and less than one patient per million for other newly diagnosed patients.

The need

  • Today, though, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Maharashtra remain the ‘hotspots’ from which maximum prevalence was detected last year. 
  • High population density, poor sanitation and inadequate access to nutrition are among the reasons for the number remaining high. 
  • The Centre says a more aggressive detection campaign is being carried out, explaining the numbers.

About Leprosy Case Detection Campaign

  • The Leprosy Case Detection Campaign has shown that 34,730 cases were detected in 2016, 32,147 in 2017, and 16,097 in 2018. 
  • India’s leprosy management programme is running in a very aggressive sweep mode, after the “relaxed period” of 2005.
  • The number of cases reported fell after 2005-06, when India was declared leprosy-free — the prevalence rate at the time was 0.84%. 
  • It was only at the end of 2011 that we realised leprosy is very much around — when people started reporting in with leprosy-related disabilities — and we refreshed our strategy to find and treat new cases.

Fighting the social stigma

  • Disease management efforts now include going down to the village level in what is called the “active seeking mode” for cases, where health workers go from house to house and physically examine people for a leprosy patch. 
  • Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by a bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae, which multiplies slowly. 
  • The incubation period of the disease, on average, is five years. In some cases, symptoms may occur within one year but can also take as long as 20 years to occur. 
  • This is exactly the trouble with the elimination of leprosy. 
  • The long incubation period, and the social stigma attached to it, makes it a tough disease to eliminate.
  • Leprosy mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, and also the eyes. 
  • The disease is transmitted via droplets, from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contacts with untreated cases. 
  • Untreated leprosy can cause progressive and permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes. 
  • It is curable with multi-drug therapy (MDT).

Children are the focus

  • There has been a change in the percentage of new child cases from 9.49% in 2013-14 to 8.15% in 2017-18, with the level having remained almost stagnant at 8.94% in 2015-16 and 8.69 % in 2016-17. 
  • Our special emphasis is on children, for whom we have brought in active detection intervention, with primary health workers educating them from the school-level onward. 
  • In 2016-17, the proportion of new child cases was more than 10% of the new cases detected in 10 States.
  • Children are not predisposed to leprosy, but there is an element of risk in late detection, with parents hiding the disease, especially in the case of girls till the handicap sets in. 
  • Also, disability in children has a longer lifespan, which can hamper their quality of life.

Source: The Hindu. 

Vet institute, ambulances mooted in Rs.98 crore lion conservation plan

Focus on: Paper 3

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Image result for Vet institute,ambulances mooted in Rs.98 crore lion conservation plan

Why in News?

Three months after at least 20 lions in Gujarat succumbed to a virus, the Centre and the Gujarat government have announced a Rs. 97.85 crore Asiatic Lion Conservation Project.

Background

The Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh was identified to be the most suitable for reintroducing the species, according to a Supreme Court-appointed technical expert committee, but there has been no progress on the proposal. 

About the project

  • There are close to 600 lions in Gujarat and there has been no move yet to translocate lions to a location outside Gujarat.
  • There is a committee of experts from both States examining the suitability of Madhya Pradesh as a potential lion reserve.
  • It also have to comply with certain guidelines of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (on selecting suitable habitat, translocation)

Source: The Hindu. 

TB survivors challenge patent extension for latest drug

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Image result for TB survivors challenge patent extension for latest drug

Why in News?

Two tuberculosis survivors from India and South Africa have challenged a patent to prevent pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) from extending its monopoly on bedaquiline, one of the two newest anti-TB drugs in 50 years. 

Background

  • The patent challenge has been filed with support from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). 
  • Despite the benefits of the drug, high prices remain a barrier. 
  • J&J recently announced a reduced price of $400 for six months of bedaquiline treatment for South Africa and countries procuring the drug through the Global Drug Facility, but this falls short of making the drug affordable in all countries affected by the DR-TB epidemic. 

Highlights

  • The statement also said the J&J patent application being challenged is for the salt form of bedaquiline, which does not merit patenting under India’s patent law. 
  • If granted, J&J’s monopoly on bedaquiline would be extended from 2023 to 2027, delaying entry of generics by four additional years.
  • The patent application in question – for the formulation of bedaquiline – was filed in 2007, and became publicly available in 2008, as part of standard procedures when developing new medicines. 
  • The application was first considered by the Indian Patent Office in 2012 and remains under review. 
  • A formulation patent would not prevent generic manufacturers from developing the active pharmaceutical ingredient in their own formulations after July 2023.

Source: The Hindu. 

Case study

Doctors leave forceps in woman’s abdomen

Focus: GS4.

Topic: Work culture, Quality of service delivery.

Image result for doctors leave forceps in womans abdomen

  • Three months after a woman from Mangalhat underwent a hernia operation at the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Science (NIMS), Hyderabad, she was readmitted only to learn that a pair of artery forceps was left behind in her body during the earlier surgery.
  • The woman was suffering from stomach ache on and off post surgery and used to take painkillers for relief.
  • The botched operation came to light after the X-Ray showing the forceps inside her body, during a series of test performed by doctors on the intervening night.

Map of the Day

Biodiversity Hotspots – India

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Quote for the Day

" Many of life's failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.  “ – Thomas Edison.

Mains Answer Writing

1.Discuss the problems of Human-animal conflict in India and the steps taken by the government. Also suggest ways out for this problem.

2.Explain the local methods of water conservation which can help us save and conserve water which India is in need today.

3.Despite India being declared Leprosy free in 2005, there has been raising incidents of leprosy recently in the country. Critically analyse.

Test your Knowledge

1.Consider the following statements:

1.Train accidents are the major cause of Elephant deaths in India.
2.Elephants are national animal of India.

Which of the following statements given above is/are incorrect?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) None of the above 

2.Consider the following statements:

1.Vangchhia is in Manipur.

2.The grey sandstone were used for water conservation in Vangchhia.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct ? 

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) None of the above

3. Consider the following statements:

1.The World Health Organisation (WHO) has set the goal of zero children with leprosy and deformities by 2020.

2.Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by a bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae, which multiplies faster. 

Which of the statements given above is/are correct ?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) None of the above 

4. The Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary is in

a) Gujarat

b) Madhya Pradesh

c) Odisha

d) Maharshtra 

5. The Asiatic lion is 

a) Endangered

b) Critically Endangered

c) Vulnerable

d) Least Concerned

 

Answers

  1. D 2.B 3.A 4.B 5.A