The Hindu NOTES – 19th Nov 2017(Daily News Paper Analysis)
📰 THE HINDU NEWSPAPER– DAILY Hindu Current Affairs Analysis 19th Nov 2017
Date:- 19-NOV, 2017
📰 Manmohan wins Indira Gandhi Prize
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be the recipient of this year’s Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development.
A jury headed by former President Pranab Mukherjee made the decision on the award given out annually to individuals and organisations in recognition of creative efforts toward promoting international peace, development and a new international economic order, ensuring that scientific discoveries are used for the larger good of humanity, and enlarging the scope of freedom.
📰 Smart cities project unsustainable: expert
Goal 11 of the SDGs pertains to sustainable cities. “The Area Development Component takes up 75% of the money intended for the project. This will be used to develop only specific areas of the city, with amenities like 24×7 water supply, nicely-paved roads, well-laid pavements, etc.
Based on an analysis of 60 cities’ proposals under the project, I found that hardly 4% of the physical area of the city would be developed this way. That way, retrofitting the infrastructure for entire cities would remain a dream for over 20 years.
Under the project, Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) are registered under the Companies Act with the State and the Centre investing equally. Private capital could be injected into the project comprising up to 48% as equity,
Neither the local communities nor the local officials are involved in framing project proposals, and the decision-making is dominated by top bureaucrats.
📰 The lowdown on the dengue epidemic
What is it?
The National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) records show that 1,29,329 people fell sick with dengue this year, while 200 died. India’s official numbers are well known to be gross underestimates, with private hospitals often not reporting the disease.
In fact, a 2014 study calculated that the actual number of cases between 2006 and 2012 was 282 times the NVBDCP number.
But even if one were to factor in the undercounting, 2017 is an extraordinary year. This is due to three reasons. First, India is getting better each year at reporting dengue, leading to more cases being counted. Second, dengue itself is becoming more endemic due to urbanisation.
The dengue mosquito thrives in urban habitats, in water pooled under a flower pot for example. As population explodes in rural areas, what was initially an urban disease has moved to these regions too, . Third, dengue epidemics follow a natural cycle as population immunity waxes and wanes. But given our patchy data collection, it has been hard to glean out such cycles.
How did it come about?
As dengue burden rises in the country, says Mr. Arunkumar, the likelihood of more people becoming severely ill grows. This is because more infections raise the chances of the virus mutating to a more virulent form. It also raises the risk of a phenomenon called antibody-dependent enhancement.
The dengue virus has four serotypes, or types that are classified by the type of antigen (a molecule on the viral surface which human antibodies recognise) they have.
These serotypes are DENV-1, DENV2, DENV-3 and DENV-4. When a person is affected by one dengue serotype, she develops antibodies against it, which protect her for the rest of her life. If the same person is then infected by a different serotype, she is likely to develop severe disease.
This is because, in some cases, antibodies against the first serotype worsen the second infection, instead of protecting against it. This phenomenon is called antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) and results in a more dangerous illness called dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF).
Why does it matter?
Severe dengue haemorrhagic fever causes blood vessels to leak, which leads to a loss of blood pressure. If this isn’t treated quickly by replacing bodily fluids, the person can go into shock and can die. But treating a patient of DHF is a delicate balance, and hard to do in the high-pressure environment of an outbreak.
First, doctors must learn to spot severe cases and avoid indiscriminate admission of mild cases. For this, they need to look beyond easily-measured parameters like platelet counts, to symptoms that need careful observation. Haemorrhagic fever shows up as a puffy face, loss of blood pressure, low pulse rate and a range of other symptoms. Once it develops, fluids need to be given with care. It often happens, says Mr Arunkumar,that doctors give patients too much fluid, which too has dangerous consequences.
Given the burden of dengue, the economic cost for India is huge. One calculation based on data from Madurai estimated the 2012 medical cost of dengue for India to be $548 million. According to the study, a hospitalised person spent an average of $235.20, usually out of her own pocket. Costs like this are a blow to daily-wage earners, because hospitalisation also means a loss of income.
The good news is that, across the world, early treatment keeps mortality levels as low as 2%. India is still pondering over introducing the world’s first dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, and for good reason. Studies show that people who have never been exposed to dengue can develop severe disease if they get dengue a few years after vaccination. This is thought to be due to ADE.
So, for vaccination to be helpful, between 50 and 70% of the population needs to have been exposed to the virus. India is conducting seroprevalence studies to calculate exposure rates before it takes a call.
📰 Russia again vetoes bid to renew Syria gas attacks probe
- Russia cast a second veto in as many days at the United Nations Security Council to block the renewal of a probe to identify the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
- A draft resolution put forward by Japan would have extended the UN-led Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) for 30 days to allow time for negotiations on a wider compromise. But Russia used its veto power to prevent adoption after 12 council members voted in favour of the measure, effectively ending the mission.
- It was the 11th time that Russia has used its veto power to stop council action targeting its ally Syria.
- A separate Russian draft resolution that called for changes to the JIM failed to garner enough support, with just four votes in favour.
📰 ‘Shift to EVs won’t eradicate pollution’
- If India wants to move ahead with its target of all-electric vehicles by 2030, and also wants to truly help the environment while doing so, then it will need much more renewable energy than the 175 GW target set for 2022, according to Purpose Climate Lab, a global campaign group focused on climate and environmental issues in India.
- Unless the renewable energy target is significantly increased, the target of an entire fleet of electric vehicles will have no material benefit to the environment.
Reduce oil imports: The concept of electric transportation, especially public transportation, is a really good one because it will reduce India’s imports of foreign oil, which is great, since those billions of dollars can then be spent to expand renewable energy programmes .
Social impact of simply shifting the fuel requirement from petrol and diesel to coal:
- Coal power plants are away from cities, in communities that don’t always have the power to challenge what happens to them. They are usually poor, and away from concentrations of political and elite classes of people. Every community in the country should have the right to be protected from air pollution.
- Urban areas themselves were not entirely protected from the fumes from power plants.
- Gases like SOx and NOx, travel hundreds of kilometres to urban centres.
📰 Plant emissions higher than believed
- New study prediction: Carbon released by plant respiration may be around 30% higher than previously predicted.
- The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that as the mean global temperature increases, respiration will increase significantly.
- Such increases may lower the future ability of global vegetation to offset carbon dioxide emissions caused by burning fossil fuels.
- Plants both capture carbon dioxide and then release it by respiration. Changes to either of these processes in response to climate change have profound implications for how much ecosystems soak up carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels.
- The findings are based on the comprehensive GlobResp database, which is comprised of more than 10,000 measurements of carbon dioxide plant respiration from plant species around the globe.
📰 Electric fences killing tigers in Maharashtra
The electrocution of a tigress in the Chimur forest range in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra on November 7 brings the tiger death toll due to electrocution in the Vidarbha area alone to five this year.
Why are tigers dying?
In a desperate attempt to prevent herbivores like nilgai (blue bulls) and wild boar from destroying their crops, farmers often set up illegal high-voltage electrical fences around their fields drawing power from electrical lines meant for home or agricultural use.
Tigers, which use human-dominated landscapes including agricultural fields to move about, die when they come in contact with these fences. In some places, poachers erect live wiretraps using overhead 11 kv lines to kill animals.
Why are there more incidents now?
This year, seven tigers have been electrocuted in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh alone. Habib’s team had radio-collared four tigers to study their movement outside protected areas in the landscape; three of them died due to electrocution this year. “The radio collars highlighted the threat and helped us understand what is happening,” he adds. “Electrocution could be a major problem in other landscapes too, but we are probably not aware of it.”
Though the last tiger death due to electrocution in the adjoining Telengana-Andhra Pradesh belt (parts of which are contiguous to the central Indian landscape) was reported from Andhra’s Chennur in December last year, electrocution of wildlife is a problem in these States too, says wildlife biologist Imran Siddiqui who studies tigers at the Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary in Telangana.
Why is this a problem?
These tiger deaths are just the tip of the iceberg and point to a larger problem, says Milind Pariwakam, wildlife biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Central Indian Programme. “Many uncollared animals may be dying of electrocution. Rampant and illegal use of high-voltage electric fences and traps is making the agricultural matrix more hostile to tiger movement, raising the importance of unbroken forest corridors.
Experts admit that electrocution is one of the major threats to tiger conservation in central India. The resulting tiger mortality could be a problem for the 50,000-sq km central Indian area — consisting of protected areas, reserved forests, agricultural land and villages in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh — which supports one of India’s largest tiger populations and has been identified as a global tiger conservation landscape.
What are authorities saying?
The threat of electrocution seems to be higher in villages near the core regions of the protected areas where crop raids by wild animals are more frequent, prompting farmers to put up high-voltage fences. With Maharashtra’s Electricity and Forest Departments, Habib’s team has identified nearly 200 villages that are prone to such a conflict and where tiger electrocutions are also highly probable.
In these areas, the government hopes to initiate awareness campaigns to prevent the use of electric fences. The campaigns will also highlight the illegal use of such fences for crop protection: stealing power from overhead lines amounts to theft, and animal deaths that result from the erection of these fences are offences under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. “Solar fencing has been going on in the buffer zone of parks nearby for the past three years and we find that it is successful.