Daily Current Affairs : 16th August 2019 has been prepared keeping in mind the requirement of UPSC IAS Exam Preparation to help you excel in it. These are prepared from very relevant resources such as The Hindu, PIB, Business Express, etc
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CHIEF OF DEFENCE STAFF
PM Narendra Modi announces new post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) on Independence Day this year. The post of CDS is above all the three Service Chiefs. This one is the country’s biggest higher level military reform to bring in jointness and tri-service integration.
Who is a Chief of Defence Staff?
Chief of Defence Staff is meant to be a single-point military advisor to the government, and to coordinate long-term planning, procurements, training and logistics of the three services.
He lays stress on the coordination of the three forces as the future wars are becoming more swift, short and network-centric.
The CDS, being above the three Service Chiefs, is expected to play this role by optimising procurement, avoiding duplication among the services and streamlining the process. He will also act as the military advisor to the Prime Minister on nuclear issues.
How old is the proposal of CDS?
The proposal for a CDS has been in existence for about 20 years. It was first made by the K. Subrahmanyam committee appointed after the Kargil conflict of 1999 to recommend higher military reforms.
However, it never moved forward due to lack of consensus and apprehensions among services.
In 2012, the Naresh Chandra committee recommended the appointment of a Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) as a midway to allay apprehensions over the CDS.
The CDS is also one of the 99 recommendations made by the Lt General D.B. Shekatkar (retd) Committee which submitted its report in December 2016 which had 34 recommendations pertaining to the tri-services.
What is the Status currently?
Presently, In the absence of a CDS, the senior-most of the three Chiefs functions as the Chairman of COSC. But it is an additional role and the tenures have been very short.
How other countries are different from India?
All the major countries, especially the nuclear weapon states, appoints a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). The United Kingdoms from which the Indian armed forces and the Defence Ministry are modelled on has a Permanent Secretary, equivalent to the Defence Secretary, and also a CDS.
According to the U.K. Government guidelines, the CDS is the professional head of the British armed forces and, as military strategic commander, is responsible for how operations are carried out.
He is also the most senior military adviser to the Secretary of State for Defence and the Prime Minister.
The Permanent Secretary is the government’s principal civilian adviser on Defence, has primary responsibility for policy, finance and planning, and is also the Departmental Accounting Officer.
The Ups and Downs of Transgender Bill
The Transgender Persons (Protection Of Rights) Bill which was passed in Lok Sabha on 5th August 2019, did not get much attention as at the same time the Jammu & Kashmir issue pops up which puts this act in the dim light.
There has been an upsurge by the Transgender community against the Bill. Below listed are few of the responses of the Community w.r.t salient features of the Bill. These are :
- Definition do not differentiate between transgenders, transsexuals, intersex persons and genderqueer.
- Community response : Community differentiates between transgenders, transsexuals, intersex persons and dismisses the ‘one solution fits all’ idea.
- Prohibition against discrimination in education, employment, healthcare, public facilities, etc. and also prevents forced labour.
- Community response : Lack of enforceability dilutes provisions. Lived experiences riddled with discrimination.
- Certificate of Identification can be obtained at the DM’s Office and a revised certificate is to be obtained if sex is changed.
- Community response : Shuns provision as impinging on their right to self-determination. Fear it’ll lead to bureaucratic discrimination.
- Government welfare measures and provisions of healthcare, including HIV surveillance centers and sex reassignment surgeries.
- Community response : Step forward but medical communities lacks knowledge of transgender communities.
- Transgender persons may only change their first name.
- Community response : Prefer to take Guru’s name since many have served ties with their birth family.
- Setting up of National Council of Transgender person (NCT) including various Ministers and five transgender persons.
- Community response : Desire greater representation in decision making which will affect them directly.
Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme
The Scheme was approved by the Odisha Cabinet in December 2018 for the development of farmers in the state.
What is the issue now?
The authorities are now facing a gigantic task of removing bogus beneficiaries who are already availed of the benefits of the scheme.
A total of 51 lakh cultivators, loanee and non-loanee farmers, sharecroppers and landless agricultural labourers have been provided with financial assistance under the scheme so far. The authorities have now found out that all beneficiaries were not entitled to the benefits under the scheme and have asked the ineligible people to refund the money.
The State government, which had increased the target of KALIA beneficiaries to 75 lakh families, has stopped disbursement of financial assistance following the revelation about bogus beneficiaries. It is now busy verifying the genuineness of each and every beneficiary and has extended the deadline of the verification process from August 14 to August 27.
Simultaneously, the government is also verifying applications of people who had been left out of the scheme earlier. The total number of applications received under KALIA stands at 1.25 crore against the targeted number of 75 lakh families, a surplus by 50 lakh.
Key features of the scheme
- According to the scheme, an amount of Rs. 10,000 per family at the rate of Rs. 5,000 each for Kharif and Rabi seasons shall be provided as financial assistance for taking up cultivation.
- The assistance will be provided to take care of sustenance of farmers not able to take up cultivation due to old age, disability, disease or other reasons.
- The scheme also has a component for livelihood support for landless households. The landless households will have the option of selecting any of the units. The scheme, among others, will particularly benefit scheduled caste and scheduled tribe households.
- Deserving families will be identified and selected by gram panchayats. About 10 lakh households will be covered over two years under this scheme at a cost of Rs. 100 crore.
- The scheme also include life insurance cover of Rs. 2 lakh and additional personal accident cover of Rs. 2 lakh will be provided to both cultivators and landless agriculture labourers covering about 74 lakh households.
Chattisgarh hikes quotas for OBCs, SCs
The announcement was made on the occasion of Independence Day regarding increasing the quotas for SCs and OBCs in government jobs and education in State.
What was the situation till now?
Till now, the OBCs and SCs were getting 14% and 12% reservation, respectively, in educational institutions and government jobs, while the STs had 32% quota.
What has changed now?
There is now 27% reservation to be provided to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), 13% to Scheduled Castes (SCs) and 32% to the Scheduled Tribes (STs).
What were the other key changes made in the State?
An ‘elephant reserve’ is announced to be set up in the State to provide the tuskers a permanent habitat and prevent human-animal conflict. Announcement regarding the creation of a new district — Gaurela-Pendra-Marwahi — out of Bilaspur, taking the total number of districts in the State to 28. It was also announced for developing Lemru forest area in Korba as an elephant reserve to deal with the increasing man-animal conflict.
Taming the EBOLA Virus
Ebola Virus, which stuck the Democratic Republic of Congo last year, making 2,619 people ill and leaving about 1,826 people dead is now claimed to be curable assuming that the final test results comes out to be valid.
The early start of treatment is also the condition for the cure.
Earlier, Merck’s preventive Ebola vaccine (rVSV-ZEBOV-GP), which has had a 97.5% efficiency helped slow the virus’s spread, but was not able to stop the disease in its tracks.
Now, four candidate drugs — Zmapp, remdesivir, REGN-EB3 and mAb114 — have been tested in a randomised trial, which began in November last year and, as on August 9, had enrolled 681 of the target 725 patients.
Preliminary results, of 499 of the participants, show that two of the candidates, REGN-EB3 and mAb114, were highly effective in treating people infected with the virus.
While REGN-EB3 “crossed the efficacy threshold” set for the trial, the efficacy of mAb114 was also comparable. The overall mortality among patients randomly chosen to receive REGN-EB3 and mAb114 was 29% and 34% respectively.
In the case of Zmapp and remdesivir, the overall mortality was way higher at 49% and 53% respectively.
REGN-EB3 is a cocktail of three antibodies generated by injecting Ebola virus into a mice model that has a human-like immune system, while mAb114’s development goes back to the Ebola outbreak in 1995 in Congo.
MICROPLASTICS IN SNOW
What are these Microplastics?
These particles, defined as shreds less than five millimeters in length are formed out of the plastic litter which courses through the rivers out into the oceans every year. It is found that microplastic particles can be transported tremendous distances through the atmosphere.
What is the Issue?
Minute microplastic particles have been detected in the Arctic and the Alps, carried by the wind and later washed out in the snow, according to a study that called for urgent research to assess the health risks of inhalation. Concentrations of the microparticles in the Arctic were significantly lower than in the European sites, but still substantial.
How it happened?
Every year, several million tonnes of plastic litter course through rivers and out to the oceans, where they are gradually broken down into smaller fragments through the motion of waves and the ultraviolet light of the sun.
- Grama and Ward Volunteer System, a brainchild of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minsiter Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, was launched in the State.
- It aims ensuring corruption-free governance and last-mile delivery of welfare schemes and services to every household and citizen.
- Kondapalli Toys : These are one of the most sold handicraft in India and abroad, across online, wholesale and retail platforms. They are the cultural icons of ANDHRA PRADESH.
- T.N. CM announced creation of two new districts in the State. He announced that Vellore district would be split into three to create two new districts of Tirupattur and Ranipet.
- Tamil Nadu has 32 districts. It was announced last month to create Chengalpattu district – carved out of Kancheepuram and Tenkasi district by bifurcating Tirunelveli.
- Minister of Environment, Mr. Prakash Javedkar to launch drive to make India free of single-use plastic.