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The Hindu Analysis Free PDF Download

Date: 24 May 2021

NEWS

  • Depression over East Central Bay of Bengal intensifies into deep depression
  • PM Modi reviews preparations to deal with Cyclone Yaas; asks officials to ensure safe & timely evacuation of people from high-risk areas
  • Centre to decide on CBSE Class 12th Board exams by 1st of June; states asked to give their feedback by tomorrow
  • India's daily COVID positivity rate declines to 11.34 per cent
  • Railways delivers more than 15, 284 MT of Liquid Medical Oxygen to various states so far
  • Centre provides more than 21.80 crore Covid vaccine doses to States, UTs: Health Ministry
  • SC's E-Committee releases manual for its free e-Courts Services Mobile App
  • Armed Forces commence preparations to mitigate impact of ‘Cyclone YAAS’
  • Yoga guru Ramdev's statements on allopathy hurts sentiments of nation, Corona warriors: Dr Harsh Vardhan
  • PM Modi expresses grief over demise of Former Atomic Energy Commission chairman Dr. Srikumar Banerjee
  • Myanmar suspends 1.25 lakh teachers for supporting protests
  • Volcano erupts in eastern DR Congo
  • Bangladesh position on Israel remains unchanged: Foreign Minister Dr. Momen
  • 21 dead due to extreme weather during cross-country mountain race in China
  • UN watchdog can no longer access nuclear data, says Iran Parliament Speaker
  • Asian Boxing Championships get under way today in Dubai

FINANCIAL NEWS

  • Remittances to Hinterland Drop as Migrants Go Home
    • Fund remittances to the less-affluent hinterland from the shuttered urban pockets have dropped up to 30% in May, reflecting the impact of localised lockdowns on business activity — and employment in the unorganised sector.
  • WTO Council to Discuss Revised Plan for IPR Waivers
    • The TRIPS Council of the World Trade Organization will discuss a revised proposal submitted by 62 co-sponsors, including India, South Africa, and Indonesia, seeking patent waivers to manufacture Covid-19-related medical products, an official said.
    • In October 2020, India and South Africa had submitted the first proposal suggesting a waiver for all WTO members on the implementation of certain provisions of the TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of Covid-19.

Corona’s cost

  • Corona pandemic has been playing havoc with people’s lives and livelihood.
  • Many people died, many are homeless
  • Virus has affected business and normal life too
  • Side-effects of lockdown
  • Aviation and tourism industry
  • The economy of the country is going through a grim phase
  • Many people have postponed their business decisions or curtailed their operations, leading to more job losses
  • Weaker purchasing power in the hands of the people.
  • On the other, the prices of essential commodities are on the rise.
  • Mustard oil that sold for around Rs 120/litre is now selling at Rs 180/litre
  • Arhar dal, which sold around Rs 90 in March last year, is selling for around Rs 110 a kg
  • Since several expenses, like the home rent, cannot be curtailed
  • The daily earners are leaving for their villages and hometowns.
  • This has led to the migration of the workforce in large numbers, having repercussions for various industries.
  • As we approach the end of the second wave, a third wave is staring us in the face; experts say in October, probably.
  • In Delhi, the number of cases rose and fell with the rest of the country despite the lockdown.

Hasty decision?

  • Should the Indian Government reconsider its May 13 decision to increase the gap between Covishield doses to 12-16 weeks?
  • The Government has accepted the recommendation of the technical group to extend the gap from six-eight weeks after reports that the second dose after a longer gap can develop stronger immunity.
  • NITI Aayog member VK Paul said the efficacy of even a single dose was not a problem.
  • A month earlier, Adar Poonawalla of the Serum Institute of India had said the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine was 90 per cent effective when the gap was three months.
  • Scientist Andrew Pollard, who co-developed the AstraZeneca vaccine with Sarah Gilbert at the Oxford University, said that a three-month interval produces “very goodprotection; this gets even better with a longer interval from three to four months.
  • The UK Government, which was earlier following a three-month gap, reduced it to eight weeks.
  • This was done because of concerns that an extended first dose may not be of help against the notorious B.1.617 variant that was first discovered in India.
  • The Financial Times reported using the latest UK data that a single dose “offered 33 per cent protection against symptomatic infection from B.1.617.2 and 51 per cent against B.1.1.7”.
  • These are the mutants of B.1.617. Both doses together reduced this gap in protection to six percentage points, giving 81 per cent protection against B.1.617.2 and 87 per cent against B.1.1.7.
  • The Cornell University’s Weill Cornell Medicine community said the UK Government’s decision to delay the second dose was controversial and risky and the Indian policy needs “reconsidering”.
  • A virologist of the centre said a single dose does not give enough protection against B.1.617.
  • The vaccination for 18+ has either stopped or is at a snail’s pace.
  • There is vaccine shortage in the country since the last week of April.
  • From a total of 2.47 crore vaccinations in the week of April 3-9, it has come down to 92.1 lakh during May 15-21.
  • Of the 19.33 crore people who received vaccination till May 22, only 4.13 crore received both doses.
  • Delhi, for instance, has halted vaccination in the 18-44 age group centres, claiming shortage.
  • Against a demand of 80 lakh doses a month, it got only one-fifth, or 16 lakh doses, in May.
  • Full relief is not available till July end when the SII would have reached ramped up production capacity.
  • And yet, the Government is confident of vaccinating all adults by this year’s end as 16 crore doses would become available in July and 25 crore in October.
  • Where does this confidence emanate from?

Q.) Name the Chinese Agricultural Scientist famously known as the “Father of Hybrid Rice”, whose breakthroughs in hybrid rice brought food security to China

  1. Yuan Longping
  2. Zhong Nanshan
  3. Yin Xinzhong
  4. Yuen Kwok-yung

Another challenge

  • The number of daily cases touching 4.14 lakh on May 6 and cumulative cases crossing 15 million, mortality reaching an all-time peak of 4,529 on May 18 and the total number of deaths reaching nearly 1.5 lakh.
  • There is now a growing number of mucormycosis cases being reported in COVID-19 patients.
  • A concerned Health Ministry has now asked all States to classify mucormycosis, a fungal infection, as a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897; a few States have complied.
  • As a notifiable disease, every suspected and confirmed case is to be reported to the State Health Department.
  • While the infection is caused by a group of moulds called mucormycetes, which are commonly found in the environment, the fungi are largely harmless under normal circumstances.
  • But COVID-19 patients with uncontrolled diabetes who are on steroid therapy face a higher infection risk.
  • Breathing in the fungi spores can cause an infection in the lungs or sinuses which can spread.
  • Even when blood sugar is under control, indiscriminate steroid use can cause an increase in blood sugar levels, making such patients more susceptible to mucormycosis infection.
  • Patients with severe COVID-19 disease tend to develop a systemic inflammatory response leading to lung injury and multisystem organ dysfunction.
  • While WHO “strongly recommends” that corticosteroids such as dexamethasone be used in treating patients with severe and critical COVID-19, they should not be used in non-severe COVID-19 patients.
  • The absence of any new or repurposed drugs to effectively treat COVID-19 patients and the lack of clear guidelines in using certain drugs have led to indiscriminate drug use, including steroids.
  • The rise in mucormycosis infection cases should be a wake-up call for COVID-19 patients and medical practitioners to use steroids judiciously for a limited period and in the right dosage, especially in diabetic patients; self-medication with steroids should be avoided at any cost.
  • Most importantly, in COVID-19 patients with diabetes, controlling blood sugar levels using insulin can help prevent mucormycosis infection.
  • While the availability of Amphotericin-B to treat mucormycosis was limited till recently, five manufacturers in India are in the process of ramping up production.
  • Five more companies have also been licensed to augment supplies.
  • Since the infection presents itself with typical symptoms, timely diagnosis is easy.
  • The infection can be cured without even surgery if detected early.
  • This is one more reason why people, particularly those with diabetes, should get vaccinated soon.
  • Since complete vaccination prevents severe disease, diabetics will not need steroids, and hence will not suffer from mucormycosis.

The many benefits of an eco tax

  • The Indian government announced a pandemic-related stimulus package in FY 2020-21 though there was large decline in tax revenue.
  • The fiscal deficit for FY 2020-21 (revised estimates) is projected to be 9.5% of the GDP; for 2021-22, it is pegged at 6.8%.
  • The focus is on maintaining fiscal discipline.
  • In this peculiar scenario, sustained health financing in India remains a challenge.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) provides data on the percentage of the total population where the household expenditure on health was greater than 10% and 25% of the total household expenditure or income in India in 2011.
  • As far as health expenditure above 10% is concerned, 17.33% of the population in India made out-of-pocket payments on health.
  • The percentage was higher in rural areas compared to urban areas.
  • Globally, the average was 12.67%, which means that 12.67% of the population spent more than 10% of their income (out of their pocket) on health.
  • In Southeast Asia, 16% spent more than 10% of their household income on health.
  • The Western Pacific region came second in the list of regions that saw a rate higher than the global average.
  • Similarly, 3.9% of the population in India made more than 25% of out-of-pocket payments on health, with 4.34% in the rural areas.
  • The Economic Survey of India 2019-20 has outlined the fact that an increase in public spending from 1% to 2.5-3% of GDP, as envisaged in the National Health Policy of 2017, can decrease out-of-pocket expenditure from 65% to 30% of overall healthcare expenses.
  • This is where the importance of alternate sources of health financing in India needs to be stressed.
  • Fiscal reforms for managing the environment are important, and India has great potential for revenue generation in this aspect.
  • Environment regulation, in turn, may take several forms: command and control; economic planning/urban planning; environmental tax (eco tax)/subsidies; and cap and trade.
  • India currently focuses majorly on the command-and-control approach in tackling pollution.
  • The success of an eco tax in India would depend on its architecture, that is, how well it is planned and designed.
  • It should be credible, transparent and predictable.
  • Ideally, the eco tax rate ought to be equal to the marginal social cost arising from the negative externalities associated with the production, consumption or disposal of goods and services.
  • This requires an evaluation of the damage to the environment based on scientific assessments.
  • This would include the adverse impacts on the health of people, climate change, etc.
  • The eco tax rate may, thus, be fixed commensurate to the marginal social cost so evaluated.
  1. Eliminating existing subsidies and taxes that have a harmful impact on the environment
  2. Restructuring existing taxes in an environmentally supportive manner
  3. Initiating new environmental taxes
  • Taxes can be designed either as revenue neutral or revenue augmenting.
  • In case of revenue augmenting, the additional revenue can either be targeted towards the provision of environmental public goods or directed towards the overall revenue pool.
  • In developing countries like India, the revenue can be used to a greater extent for the provision of environmental public goods and addressing environmental health issues.
  • In India, eco taxes can target three main areas:
  1. Differential taxation on vehicles in the transport sector purely oriented towards fuel efficiency and GPS-based congestion charges
  2. In the energy sector by taxing fuels which feed into energy generation
  3. Waste generation and use of natural resources
  4. There is also a need to integrate environmental taxes in the Goods and Service Tax framework
  • The implementation of an environmental tax in India will have three broad benefits:
  1. Fiscal
  2. Environmental
  3. Poverty reduction

WhatsApp and its dubious claims

  • The learned senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Arvind Datar submitted to the Delhi High Court that WhatsApp’s contentious new privacy policy came into effect from May 15, 2021.
  • Mr. Sibal raised the central question of national importance, “The question is, does India have a public policy for privacy? If a public policy of privacy is there in India, does it apply to WhatsApp policy?”
  • This question acquires relevance due to the dominant market status of WhatsApp-Facebook-Instagram.
  • In its affidavit to the Delhi High Court, WhatsApp defended its privacy policy and explicitly named Google, Microsoft, Zoom, Zomato, Republic World, Ola Cabs, Truecaller, Big Basket, Koo, and public companies such as Aarogya Setu, Bhim, Air India, Sandes, Government e-Marketplace, and the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation of having similar policies, of relying on collecting user data.
  • In the submission, WhatsApp suggested that users who did not agree to its terms and conditions could discontinue use of its service.
  • Apps such as Signal and Telegram provide alternate reliable communication services.
  • WhatsApp has an inherent advantage with its messaging and audio-video calling even in low-bandwidth Internet areas.
  • This has to be seen in conjunction with WhatsApp Pay which allows users to transfer money to others.
  • The claim that the new privacy policy is applicable to only the business version of the app is not comforting.
  • This is because metadata from the non-business versions are already being exchanged with other services of the Facebook company.
  • To ensure that the privacy of the Indian citizen is protected in the digital sphere, the data protection Bill needs to be reformulated to ensure that it focuses on user rights with an emphasis on user privacy.
  • A privacy commission would have to be established to enforce these rights.
  • The government would also have to respect the privacy of the citizens while strengthening the right to information.
  • There is an overarching need for a strong data protection Bill.

ANS

Q.) Name the chief of Hamas in Gaza, whose house was destroyed by Israeli airstrike

  1. Hassan Yousef
  2. Fawzi Barhoum
  3. Yehya Al-Sinwar
  4. Khaled Mashal