1.One India Two Time Zones (The Hindu)
2.Terror in London (The Hindu)
3.TB Day: Drug resistance, fund crunch threaten India’s 2025 elimination goal (Live mint)
1.One India Two Time Zones(The Hindu)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the need and challenges of two time zones for India.(GS paper I)
- India follows a single time zone but the west-to-east extent of India makes a case for two time zones to be followed in India as North-East suffers the loss of precious day light.
- There have been various committees and reports to study the issue but
Present situation: IST
- Indian Standard Time (IST) is the time observed throughout India. It is 5:30 hours ahead of Greenwich mean time (GMT).
- Indian Standard Time is calculated on the basis of 82.30′ E longitude, Mirzapur (in Mirzapur district in the state of Uttar Pradesh).
Case of Northeast
- People from many walks of life; academicians, intellectuals, teachers, youth, student and women associations in the northeast have demanded creation of a separate time zone for the northeast States.
- The difference in sunrise/sunset time between the eastern and western parts in India is about two hours.
- In winter this problem gets even more heightened and the ecological costs are a catastrophe with much more electricity having to be consumed.
- Since day breaks earlier in the east than the rest of the country, a different time zone could allow people there to start working sooner.
- This could lead to energy saving and productivity gains. In fact, tea gardens in Assam start work at 8am, continuing a practice started during the colonial rule.
- This timing is so widespread that it is nick-named “bagaan timing” or the tea garden time. In effect, tea gardens in Assam follow their own informal time zone
- Three options have been examined by scientists in this regard over the years: creating two times zones in India, introducing DST from April to September and advancing the Indian Standard Time (IST) for the entire country by half an hour.
- The underlying objective in all three case is energy saving. After considering all the options, an expert panel constituted by the ministry of science and technology in 2002 rejected the idea of DST as well as a different time zone
- Daylight saving time (DST) is the practice of furthering clocks during summer months by one hour so that evening daylight lasts for an hour longer, while sacrificing normal sunrise times. Normally, regions that use Daylight Savings Time revise clocks forward one hour close to the start of spring and adjust them backward in the autumn to standard time.
- The panel felt that seasonal difference in daylight hours is marginal in countries closer to the equator than those near the poles. The panel, therefore, concluded that different time zones may not result in any benefits to north-eastern states but may pose difficulties for airlines, railways and communication services.
- On the other hand, India would save approximately 2.7 billion units of electricity/ year by changing the IST meridian eastward (from 82.5E longitude in U.P. to 90E near the Assam-Bengal border). Unlike DST, changing of IST is going to be just a one-time affair.
Impact on North-East
- Despite two hours time lag in sun rise in the eastern most and western most corners, the country continued to follow a single, undifferentiated time zone.
- Having to follow the IST, the people of northeast are subjected to do all their day to day activities at wrong time. Waking up minimum two hours after sunrise, breakfast after minimum four hours of daylight, start of office hours only at middle of the day, lunch at three to four hours after midday, dinner after five to six hours of darkness and finally going to bed much after midnight.
- India used to follow “Bombay time” and “Calcutta time” reminds us of an interesting aberration in the history of IST.
- It was instituted in 1905 but after it had been adopted, Bombay traders found it difficult to convert to IST. Because the conversion to IST was sought to be effected at a time when there was considerable public resentment over the Tilak sedition trial, the government found little support for this shift among the people in Bombay.
- Bombay Time was maintained right up to 1955 with Bombay following its own time zone which was 38 minutes ahead of the rest of the country.
- A possible solution to this problem can be adopted by advancing the IST for entire India by half an hour.
- It will solve the crisis in a great way without resorting to extremes such as either by ignoring the demands from North-East or by adopting dual time zone which may have problem of synchronizing the activities of two regions.
Question: How the presence of single time zone in India may fuel a new insurgency in already strife North-East? What should be government’s approach?
2.Terror in London (The Hindu)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the terror inflicted by lone wolf attacks.(GS paper III)
- London faced terror attacks recently and the location of attack near Westminster is a reminder of grave threats that are being faced by European countries from fundamentalism.
- Moreover, the concerned fact remains that lone wolf attacks are taking center-stage instead of conventional terror attack carried in groups
- The London attacker, Khalid Masood, turned a vehicle into a lethal weapon by mowing down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and later killed a police officer with a kitchen knife at the Parliament compound.
- This happened despite Britain has one of the best counter-terror police and intelligence agencies in Europe.
Lone wolf attacks
- A lone wolf attack is undertaken by a very small group or an individual in support of a larger cause, but without the overall supervision or support of a terrorist organisation. The potential for such attacks in various parts of the world is evident from the call given by the Islamic State (IS) encouraging its supporters and sympathisers, who are not formally enlisted cadres, to undertake lone wolf strikes
- Westminster attack shows how a “lone wolf” without any conventional weapons could bring terror even to the most guarded zones.
- Lone wolf attacks in the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia have been carried out either by an individual or by a couple of terrorists with access to explosives, light weapons and ammunition. Lone wolves tend to strike at a place associated with their personal frustration, like a school, college, or a mall. Attacks may also result from their larger disillusionment or anger with society, which is fuelled by a radical ideology that encourages the use of violence to rid the world of its ills or seek revenge for the perceived injustice towards people of a certain religion.
Source and ways
The Al Qaeda, and more recently the Islamic State have attempted to extend the reach of terrorism for furthering their extremist agenda. The threat emanating from the IS in particular is all the more potent as a result of the methods employed for propagating its message.
- The sophisticated use of social media, YouTube and Skype amongst others, has enabled the IS to undertake electronic outreach the extent of which remains unparalleled in the history of terrorist groups.
- This is accompanied by simple yet hard hitting messages that target the youth. The IS has been able to exploit the inherent frustrations and pent up fury which has always characterised a segment amongst the youth in any society and channel it towards radical ideas and utopian salvation. The resulting terrorism challenge has been reinforced by the open encouragement of the IS to undertake lone wolf attacks across the world, especially against counties like the US, UK and France, which are seen as a direct threat to the spread of its brand of Islam.
- This list of countries to be targeted by lone wolf terrorist attacks also includes India.
- The IS’s radical ideology has succeeded in providing the means, the way and targets, all as part of an overall strategy.
- There should be two types of approaches, the short term and the Long term. In the short-term intelligence capabilities along with security infrastructure should be beefed up. There should be a Vigil on the individuals with the flimsy backgrounds and radical ideology
- Moreover, in the Long term confidence building measures should be adopted to imbibe confidence in the minorities and radicalization should be checked. A long-term viable solution to west Asia crisis should also be find out to control the source of terrorism.
Question: Various intelligence reports have indicated that India is vulnerable to lone wolf attacks. How should India respond to such a crisis?
3.TB Day: Drug resistance, fund crunch threaten India’s 2025 elimination goal (Live mint)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue TB and increasing incidence of drug resistance, threatens to derail the progress made by nation.(GS paper II)
- A study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine mentioned India among the six countries that account for 60 per cent of the total TB cases globally.
- The Global Tuberculosis Report 2016 reveals that India has been underreporting TB incidence by a large margin. India has come under criticism from the global public health community for giving inaccurate estimates of the tuberculosis burden between 2000 and 2015. The Union health ministry aims to eradicate the disease by 2025, but that cannot be done without addressing drug-resistance.
What is TB?
- Tuberculosis is a contagious infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis and it usually attacks the lungs. It can also spread to other parts of the body like the brain and spine. Tuberculosis is contagious and spreads through the air, much like cold or flu. Most infections do not have symptoms, in which case it is known as latent tuberculosis.
- Tuberculosis is closely linked to both overcrowding and malnutrition, making it one of the principal diseases of poverty. People who inject illicit drugs, inhabitants, medically underprivileged and resource-poor communities, high-risk ethnic minorities, children in close contact with high-risk category patients, and health-care providers serving these patients are at high risk of TB.
- World Tuberculosis Day is observed on March 24 every year to help spread awareness about the disease, communicate prevention measures and precautions as well as to commemorate efforts undertaken against the disease.
- Drug resistance is the reduction in effectiveness of a drug such as an antimicrobial, antibacterial in curing a disease or condition.
- There are rising incidence of two kinds of drug resistant TB—Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) and Extremely Drug Resistant (XDR) tuberculosis.
- The National TB Control Programme (NTP) was stated in 1962 with the aim to detect cases earliest and treat them, to give a new thrust to TB control activities by revitalizing the NTP, The Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) has been formulated, with assistance from international agencies, in 1993.
- The health ministry has recently released National Strategic Plan (NSP) for TB elimination 2017-2025. India’s national TB strategic plan for the next years is aligned with WHO’s End TB Strategy. It calls for the use of digital technologies to improve TB reporting and care, the engagement of the private sector, the roll-out of rapid molecular tests to diagnose TB and drug resistance, new anti-TB drugs, and a shorter MDR regimen to combat drug-resistant TB.
- The two new WHO recommended drugs for drug resistance TB are Delaminid & Bedaquiline. While bedaquiline is currently provided only at six states TB centres, another new drug delamanid is yet to get approval from the drug regulator. Under the NSP, the government plans to introduce a shorter MDR-TB regimen and envisages country wide scale up of new drugs like bedaquiline and delamanid.
- Poor primary health-care infrastructure in rural areas of many states of India has leading to widespread irrational use of first-line and second-line anti-TB drugs.
- Lack of awareness about correct treatment among doctors, especially in the private sector, indiscipline among patients to complete treatment.
- Limited diagnostic capabilities for drug-resistant TB are the other key challenges.
- Patients approaching practitioners in alternate health systems such as homeopathy and Ayurveda for treatment is also an area of concern because TB cannot be treated by these therapies.
- City pollution is one of the major causes of tuberculosis. Stray dust on roads as well as fine dirt particles from construction sites entering lungs can aggravate chances of tuberculosis.
- Shortage of TB drugs, lack of labs, slow diagnostic tools, inadequate management of treatment and lack of trained personnel are major challenges.
- To end TB by 2025 and to achieve SDG target well before deadline needs proper implementation of policies. To ensure full impact of policies, actions must build on principles of government stewardship, engagement of civil society, human rights and equity.
- Integrated patient-centered approaches needed. The newly formed TB research consortium reflects India’s commitment to develop new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines, which are urgently needed to end the epidemic.
Question: In order to tap the demographic dividend India should focus on triple agenda of communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases and infectious diseases. In the light of Government of India’s strategy how feasible it seems to eradicate TB by 2025?
- For three billion years, life on Earth existed in a rhythm of light and dark that was created solely by the illumination of the Sun, Moon and stars.
- Now, artificial lights overpower the darkness and our cities glow at night, disrupting the natural day-night pattern and shifting the delicate balance of our environment.
- The negative effects of the loss of this inspirational natural resource might seem intangible. But a growing body of evidence links the brightening night sky directly to measurable negative impacts.
What is light pollution?
- The inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light – known as light pollution – can have serious environmental consequences for humans, wildlife, and our climate. Components of light pollution include:
- Glare – excessive brightness that causes visual discomfort
- Skyglow – brightening of the night sky over inhabited areas
- Light trespass – light falling where it is not intended or needed
- Clutter – bright, confusing and excessive groupings of light.
Negative effects of light pollution
- In disrupting ecosystems– light pollution poses a serious threat in particular to nocturnal wildlife, having negative impacts on plant and animal physiology. It can confuse the migratory patterns of animals, alter competitive interactions of animals, change predator-prey relations, and cause physiological harm.
- The rhythm of life is orchestrated by the natural diurnal patterns of light and dark; so disruption to these patterns impacts the ecological dynamics.
- With respect to adverse health effects– many species, especially humans, are dependent on natural body cycles called circadian rhythms and the production of melatonin, which are regulated by light and dark (e.g., day and night). If humans are exposed to light while sleeping, melatonin production can be suppressed.
- This can lead to sleep disorders and other health problems such as increased headaches, worker fatigue, medically defined stress, some forms of obesity due to lack of sleep and increased anxiety. And ties are being found to a couple of types of cancer.
- With respect to energy wastage– lighting is responsible for at least one-fourth of all electricity consumption worldwide. Over illumination can constitute energy wastage, especially upward directed lighting at night. Energy wastage is also a waste in cost and carbon footprint.
- Local governments in wealthy countries are racing to replace existing street- lights with LEDs, which consume less energy and last longer. In the United States, fully 10% of public lighting has already switched over to LED.
- That is good news for the fight against global warming, cutting on fossil-fuel burning for electricity, but it may be bad news for health. Not only do the bluish, high-intensity lights create a view-obscuring glare, they have five times greater impact on circadian sleep rhythms than conventional street lamps
Question: Ever growing civilization and urbanization is creating the problem of light pollution. Can there be any solution to this kind of pollution?