Current Affairs 12th July

New population policy keeps all sections in mind: Adityanath #GS2 #SocialIssues

Every section of society must join in the awareness programme for population control, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said as he launched the State’s population policy for 2021-2030.

Mr. Adityanath said rising population was the root of major problems and prevailing inequality in society. “Increasing population can be an obstacle to development,” he said here, stating that the new policy was drafted keeping in mind all sections of society. If there is no gap between the birth of two children, it will naturally affect their nutrition, he said, explaining the need for spacing and control in population.

‘Hurdle to development’

“Across the world, concerns have been raised from time to time about increasing population being a hurdle in development. Discussions on it have been going on for four decades… The countries and States which have made efforts in this direction have seen positive results. However, more efforts are needed.”

The new policy aims at decreasing the Total Fertility Rate from 2.7 to 2.1 by 2026 and 1.7 by 2030, increase Modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate from 31.7% to 45% by 2026 and 52% by 2030, increase male methods of contraception use from 10.8% to 15.1% by 2026 and 16.4% by 2030, decrease Maternal Mortality Rate from 197 to 150 to 98, and Infant Mortality Rate from 43 to 32 to 22, and Under 5 Infant Mortality Rate from 47 to 35 to 25.

Targeting stabilisation, the draft of the policy also said the State would attempt to maintain a balance of population among the various communities. “Awareness and extensive programmes would be held among those communities, cadres and geographical areas that have a higher fertility rate,” the policy read.

Need for awareness

Addressing a function at his official residence here, the Chief Minister said efforts to control population were linked to comprehensive awareness in society. “We should not forget that the increase in population contributes to poverty in society. Hence, until all sections of society are made comprehensively aware, there will be a delay in fulfilling various goals. Every section of society has to be associated with the awareness campaign.

New IT rules are empowering and will protect users: Minister #GS2 #Governance

Information Technology and Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Sunday said the new information technology rules were empowering and protecting users. The new IT rules will ensure a safer and more responsible social media ecosystem in India.

“Reviewed the implementation and compliance of Information Technology Rules, 2021 along with my colleague Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar ji. These guidelines are empowering and protecting users and will ensure a safer and responsible social media ecosystem in India,” Mr. Vaishnaw said in a post on the Koo platform, Twitter’s Indian competitor.

The new rules, which came into effect from May 25, mandate social media companies to establish a grievance redress mechanism for resolving complaints from the users or victims.

All significant social media companies with a user base of over 50 lakh shall appoint a grievance officer to deal with such complaints and share the name and contact details of such officers.

The big social media companies are mandated to appoint a chief compliance officer, a nodal contact person and a resident grievance officer. All of them should be residents of India.

However, Facebook-owned Whatsapp has challenged the new IT rules for social media intermediaries requiring the messaging app to trace chats and make provisions to identify the first originator of information, saying they violate the right to privacy and are unconstitutional.

WhatsApp further alleged the requirement of intermediaries enabling the identification of the first originator of information in India upon government or court order puts end-to-end encryption and its benefits “at risk”. Some of the media houses have also challenged the new IT rules and the matter is sub judice.

HAL set to deliver first batch of 3 LCH #GS3 #Defence

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is gearing up to deliver the first batch of three Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) to the Indian Air Force (IAF) once acceptance tests are completed. These are part of the 15 Limited Series Production (LSP) helicopters approved for the Army and the IAF.

“HAL has received Letter of Intent for five Air Force and five Army LCH for delivery pending contract finalisation of 15 Limited Series Production (LSP) LCH. HAL has produced and signalled out three LSP LCH for the IAF. Same will be subjected to customer acceptance and training shortly.

On the remaining helicopters of the LSP series, the source added, “In the current year we are producing four LCH for Army and two for the Air Force. Remaining six LCH will be produced next year. The deal for the 15 LCH was expected to have been signed in the first quarter of 2021 but has been delayed due to the second wave of the pandemic.

The IAF has put forward a requirement for 65 LCH and the Army for 114 helicopters. Of the 15 LSP helicopters, 10 are for the IAF and five for the Army. The LCH, the lightest attack helicopter in the world weighing 5.5 tonnes, has been designed and developed by the HAL to meet the specific and unique requirements of the Indian armed forces and can operate at heights of 12,000 feet.

The Army Aviation operates smaller utility helicopters but does not have attack helicopters in its fleet and has for sometime pitched for attack helicopters of its own to operate with its strike Corps. The attack helicopter fleet is operated by the Air Force which provides close air support to the Army.

The IAF operates the older Mi-25 and Mi-35 Russian attack helicopters which are in the process of being phased out and has inducted 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters from the U.S. The Army will also start receiving the Apache attack helicopters from early 2023 onwards, six of which have been contracted under an estimated $800-mn deal from the U.S. in February 2020.

Presently, the Army has 90 Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and 75 Rudra, weaponised ALH, helicopters in service which are indigenously designed and developed by the HAL in addition to around 160 older Cheetah and Chetak utility helicopters which are in need of urgent replacement.

Last August, amid the ongoing standoff with China in Eastern Ladakh, two LCH were deployed for operations at high altitude in Leh at short notice to support IAF missions, validating their capability.

Bihar’s Kesaria Buddha stupa waterlogged #GS1 #Culture

The world-famous Kesaria Buddha stupa in east Champaran district of Bihar is waterlogged following floods in some parts of the district after heavy rainfall in the catchment areas of river Gandak in neighbouring Nepal. East and West Champaran districts share their borders with Nepal at many places.

‘Issue of concern’

“Since it is waterlogged from all sides, it is feared that it may suffer damage. But, even last year too the stupa was waterlogged,” said an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) official in Patna over phone. “It is indeed an issue of serious concern.

The stupa, located about 110 km from the State capital Patna, has a circumference of almost 400 feet and stands at a height of about 104 feet. The first construction of the nationally protected stupa is dated to the 3rd century BCE. It is regarded as the largest Buddhist stupa in the world and has been drawing tourists from across several Buddhist countries.

The sputa’s exploration had started in the early 19th century after its discovery led by Colonel Mackenzie in 1814. Later, it was excavated by General Cunningham in 1861-62 and in 1998 an ASI team led by archaeologist K.K. Muhammad had excavated the site properly.

The original Kesaria stupa is said to date back to the time of emperor Ashoka (circa 250 BCE) as the remains of an Ashokan pillar was discovered there. The local call the stupa “devalaya” meaning “house of gods”. The ASI has declared it a protected monument of national importance. However, a larger part of the stupa is yet to be developed as it remains under thick vegetation.

Kandahar evacuation is temporary, says MEA #GS2 #IR

India has evacuated personnel from the Consulate-General in Kandahar as a temporary measure in view of the fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces, said the Ministry of External Affairs on Sunday. Official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the mission is “not closed” and the visa-related work has been shifted to the Indian Embassy in Kabul.

“The Consulate-General of India in Kandahar has not been closed. However, due to the intense fighting near Kandahar city, India-based personnel have been brought back for the time being,” said Mr. Bagchi, emphasising that the evacuation “is a purely temporary measure”.

The reiteration of the “temporary” nature of the closure came a day after The Hindu reported that India has closed diplomatic operations at Kandahar temporarily. The Indian personnel were seen on Saturday leaving the premises of the mission in a cavalcade of official vehicles.

“The Consulate continues to operate through our local staff members. Arrangements are being made to ensure continued delivery of visa and consular services through our Embassy in Kabul. The diplomatic mission in Kandahar serves as an important coordinating centre for the large number of medical tourists who seek treatment in India and obstructions and delays in visa acquisition can create challenges for Afghan citizens intending to visit Indian hospitals.

The security situation in Kandahar continues to remain grim with fierce fighting going on in the suburbs and in nearby areas that have been taken over by the Taliban fighters. Taliban fighters on Friday attacked the jail in Kandahar that holds a large number of veterans of the Taliban movement.

Indian missions in Afghanistan were targeted by terrorists in the past and Saturday’s evacuation is, therefore, being interpreted as a measure to ensure the safety and security of the people employed at the Indian Consulate-General.

Current weather could add to virus symptoms’ #GS3 #SnT

The lingering second COVID-19 wave and the current weather — a combination of high heat and humidity prevailing across some parts of India — have prompted doctors to caution the general public to strictly follow COVID-appropriate behaviour to ensure that places with common air conditioning and poor ventilation do not prove to be superspreader zones.

The effect of worsened weather on an ongoing illness contributed in terms of aggravated symptoms, said Anurag Aggarwal, associate consultant, internal medicine, QRG Health City, Faridabad, who added that there was no proven research on how the virus responded to weather conditions.

Bhagwan Mantri, consultant, pulmonology, Moolchand Hospital, noted that lower relative humidity aided airborne transmission of water droplets and aerosols.

“When we cough, sneeze, talk or sing, water droplets and smaller water particles [aerosols] containing living viruses disperse into the air. Droplets and aerosols tend to stay afloat longer and travel farther in the air with lower relative humidity. Virus-containing aerosols, in particular, can penetrate more deeply into the lungs to increase the possibility of transmission,” he said.

“When moisture levels are insufficient, viral particles have a greater ‘docking’ potential at airway receptor sites, which can lead to an increased risk of infection. Low relative humidity has a drying effect on the cells and mucous linings of our airways. These cells act as a defence against viral particles and other invading foreign substances. Drying out airway linings impairs their ability to function properly. However, he said adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour was the only way to reduce the transmission risk in any atmospheric condition.

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