Current Affairs 12th February

Coordinated disengagement at Pangong Tso, Rajnath tells RS #GS2 #IR

India and China have reached an agreement on disengagement in the Pangong lake area to cease their forward deployments in a phased, coordinated and verified manner and it would substantially restore the situation to that existing prior to the commencement of the stand-off last year.

The Chinese side will keep its troop presence in the North Bank area to east of Finger 8. Reciprocally, the Indian troops will be based at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3. A similar action would be taken in the South Bank area by both sides.

These are mutual and reciprocal steps and any structures that had been built by both sides since April 2020 will be removed and the landforms re

Temporary moratorium

Further, both sides had agreed on a temporary moratorium on military activities in the North Bank, including patrolling in the traditional areas.

Patrolling will be resumed only when both sides reach an agreement in diplomatic and military talks that would be held subsequently. The implementation of this agreement started in the North and South Banks, and officials said withdrawal of tanks had been completed in some areas of South Bank.

There were still some outstanding issues with regard to deployment and patrolling at some other points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. These would be the focus of further discussions with the Chinese side.

Both sides have agreed that they should achieve complete disengagement at the earliest and abide fully by the bilateral agreements and protocols. By now, the Chinese side is also “fully aware of our resolve.

Benefit of the News– India China Border Dispute

17 major OTT players adopt regulatory toolkit #GS2 #Governance

Even as the government is soon expected to come out with regulations for OTT platforms, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) said 17 platforms, including Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video, have adopted a ‘toolkit’ for effective implementation of the self-regulation code introduced last year.

The industry body added that it will set up an ‘IAMAI Secretariat for the Code’, comprising representatives from the signatories to the Code, as well as the IAMAI, for its implementation.

This toolkit amplifies all the critical points that were addressed in the Code signed last year and aims to address feedback received from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, particularly on strengthening the grievance redressal mechanism.

The IAMAI said the toolkit not only aims to set out guiding principles and code of ethics, it also addresses the feedback received from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on the issues of conflict of interest and prohibited content.

The industry body said the toolkit will also provide for procedures to effectuate the various provisions of the Code; assist the signatories in fulfilling their commitments and responsibilities as set out in the Code and achieve effective self-regulation goals as envisioned by the signatories in the Code.

The signatories to the toolkit, which is effective February 10 onwards, include ZEE5, Viacom 18 (Voot), Disney+Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, SonyLiv, MX Player, Jio Cinema, Eros Now, Alt Balaji, Arre, HoiChoi, Hungama, Shemaroo, Discovery Plus, Aha and Lionsgate Play.

The toolkit will guide signatories on various dimensions like relevant laws of the land, grievance redressal mechanism, training programs for creative and legal teams and awareness programs for consumers.

The OTT players had in September last year announced adoption of the ‘Universal Self-Regulation Code for OCCPs’.

Benefit of the NewsAbout OTT regulations

Follow the law, Ravi Shankar Prasad tells social media #GS2 #Governance

Minister for Information Technology and Communications Ravi Shankar Prasad said global social media platforms were welcome to work and earn money in India but they should follow the law and the Constitution of India.

Replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Mr. Prasad said his Ministry had flagged Twitter and called out the microblogging site for double standards, adding that “freedom of speech” was there but Article 19 (2) of the Constitution added reasonable restrictions because of the sovereignty and integrity of India.

Twitter and the Government of India are at loggerheads over issues related to content removal and freedom of expression.

The row intensified after the Centre asked the micro-blogging site to block 250 accounts using hashtags related to “farmer genocide”, and about 1,178 accounts that security agencies suspect are backed by Khalistani sympathisers and Pakistan. 

Twitter said in a blog post that it withheld “a portion of the accounts but no action was taken against the accounts of news media entities, journalists, activists and politicians as it violated their policy of free speech”.

We have huge respect for India’s electoral process and if anyone uses social media to influence elections, strict action will bet taken. Whether it is Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, I have a message for all of you — come, work in India, earn money but you will have to follow India’s laws.

Benefit of the NewsSocial Media regulation

Rs. 16 crore drug is their only hope of survival #GS3 #SnT

A gene therapy costing Rs. 16 crore is the only shot of life for nearly 200 children with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type 1, a rare genetic disease, in Karnataka.

One-time infusion

SMA is a disease caused by loss of nerve cells, which carry electrical signals from the brain to the muscles. The protein needed for this signalling is coded by a gene for which everyone has two copies – one from the mother and the other from the father. A child develops this disorder only if both the copies are faulty. Without treatment, this disease is ultimately fatal. The disease as it progresses makes it extremely difficult for the babies to carry out basic activities like sitting up, lifting their head or swallowing milk.

Pointing out that the current treatment options range from medicines, which increase these proteins, to replacing the faulty gene, “Zolgensma is a revolutionary treatment, which works by supplying a healthy copy of the faulty gene, which allows nerve cells to then start producing the needed protein. That halts deterioration of the nerve cells and allows the baby to develop normally.”

Delay in customs

The drug has a 14-day shelf life and when it was sent from U.S. for the Bhatkal baby, it was stuck with customs for three days in mid-January making doctors jittery. Dr. Mathew said she had to personally meet the Customs officials to get it released

The Paediatric Neuromuscular Service at Baptist Hospital is a pioneering centre in the country with a multidisciplinary team of a paediatric neurologist, paediatric neuromuscular specialist, paediatric geneticist, paediatric pulmonologist, paediatric intensivist, paediatric cardiologist and paediatric endocrinologist providing comprehensive care under one roof. This service is run in collaboration with Organisation for Rare Diseases India, a NGO.

Benefit of the NewsAbout Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type 1

‘Dams in the para glacial zone are a danger’ #GS3 #Environment

How do you see the disaster in Uttarakhand? Is it natural or man-made?

What we know so far is that the temperatures on February 5 and 6 in the Himalayas were higher than what’s normal for this time of the year. A mass of ice, snow and fresh water — always a lethal combination — came hurtling down a slope carrying with it lots of boulder and rocks and other debris and reached the base of the Rishiganga river. 

However to those who’ve died and been swept away, it doesn’t matter if the origins of the floods were from a glacial lake being breached or a rock falling on a glacier. While these are natural events, we have at various previous occasions warned of such risks. It’s a folly to be building dams, and hydropower projects above elevations of 2,200 metres. So in that sense, it’s entirely a man-made disaster.

In the aftermath of the 2013 floods, you’d led a committee — under the orders of the Supreme Court — to investigate the viability of hydropower projects. Were those recommendations heeded?

In the aftermath of the disaster, and after several petitions, there was no response from the government until the matter reached the Supreme Court. However, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, which was then led by Secretary Mr. Shashi Shekhar accepted our key recommendation — that most of the hydropower projects proposed by the Uttarakhand government be dropped. 

However, this led to the power developer companies then raising objections that they were being penalised in spite of following all the norms of the environmental appraisal process. That led to a second committee being formed and they opined that while all environmental appraisal norms were followed, it would be advisable to cancel hydropower projects.

A third committee has been set up but this time there were barely any environmentalists and consisted almost entirely of engineers. There is still a constant tussle and the Uttarakhand government has now cancelled most of the hydropower projects. The Clean Ganga mission and the Ganga draft law also played a significant role which influenced the Centre’s decision to not develop any more new hydropower projects.

The Uttarakhand government has been constantly advocating for hydropower projects on the grounds that it is the only reasonable source of electricity to meet the developmental demands of the region. Is a balance possible?

Until about 10 years ago, I believed that it was possible to strike a balance between hydropower projects in Uttarakhand without harming the environment here but there is really no case for it now. There are multiple reasons. One is that the cost of solar power has been dramatically reduced and it makes no sense to generate power at Rs. 7-8 per unit when solar power is Rs. 2. 

Second is that there is no sustainable way to develop such projects given the flouting of environmental norms and challenges with the disposal of debris, accumulated muck. The recent avalanche plus the 2013 experience show that dams in the para glacial zone (above 2,200 m) are a danger to the people below.

Given that Uttarakhand, like most States, wants to provide reliable electricity access, Internet connectivity, what alternatives are possible in terms of power supply?

We must have a solar-power based development. Industrial development here also has to be thought through.

We need a services-based economy on information technology companies that will not be power-intensive. And we also need to develop our roads, improve access and go about it in a thoughtful sustained manner such that it contributes to tourism. There are thousands of places here with unexplored potential that can host homestays.

Benefit of the NewsUK Glacier issue

‘More water is building up in the Rishiganga’ #GS3 #Environment

A fresh pool of water may be building up in the Rishiganga river that could tip over a mass of rock and debris, thereby impeding ongoing rescue operations in Uttarakhand.

The debris is from the avalanche that had resulted from the breaking of a large portion of rock and ice from the Raunthi peak.

Dr. Rana has shared video clips, where he is seen at the confluence of the Rishiganga river and the Raunthi stream (from where the glacier avalanche progressed). A National Disaster Response Force official told The Hindu that the pool was 8 km above Raini and was being studied by a team from the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

Benefit of the NewsAbout Raunthi Peak and river.

Disabled entitled to facilities: SC #GS2 #SocialIssues

The government is not conferring a “largesse” on disabled people by facilitating a scribe during the course of the Civil Services Examination.

The Union Public Service Commission and the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), by allowing a scribe, are not allowing those with disabilities any “privilege”

The court said it is high time the government shed its “fundamental fallacy” that only persons with “benchmark disability” or specified disability of 40% or more should be accommodated with a scribe while taking competitive tests like the Civil Services Examination. This is a clear violation of the intent to provide “reasonable accommodation” for disabled persons under the Right to Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act of 2016.

The principle of reasonable accommodation captures the positive obligation of the State and private parties to provide additional support to persons with disabilities to facilitate their full and effective participation in society,” the court observed.

Benefit of the NewsAbout Rights for Disable people

Most buses inaccessible to the disabled #GS2 #SocialIssues

Less than 7% of public buses in the country were fully accessible to wheelchair users as of December 2020, with the target of 25% of buses being accessible by June 2022 under the Accessible India Campaign getting closer, according to government data.

According to data from the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry’s Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) via a Ministry of Road Transport and Highways report in January, 42,169 buses or 28.6% of the total 1.47 lakh buses operated by State road transport undertakings were “partially accessible” and 10,175 buses or 6.9% were “fully accessible”. In addition, 3,217 bus stations in 24 States and Union Territories out of 3,487 were made accessible, the DEPwD data showed.

When the Accessible India Campaign was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015, the deadline for making at least 25% of public buses fully accessible was March 2018.

Out of the total buses operated by States, 1.02 lakh are inter-city buses and 44,768 function in urban areas, the report said. Of the inter-city buses, 210 were fully accessible, 27,133 were accessible and 75,257 were not accessible as of December 2020.

Among urban buses, 9,965 were fully accessible, 15,036 partially accessible and 19,767 were not accessible. Apart from public buses, the Accessible India Campaign, was aimed at making government buildings, airports, railway stations and government websites accessible to persons with disabilities.

Benefit of the NewsAbout Rights for Disable people

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January 2020 Hindu & IE Editorial Compilation & Imp. Article for quoting as an example

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