Mitras Analysis of News : 5-6-2017

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1.UN Ocean Conference: a roadmap for sustainable use of oceans (Down to Earth)

2.Real challenge for Swachh Bharat (Live Mint)

3.Cure to drug resistant kala azar on the table (Down to Earth)


 1.UN Ocean Conference: a roadmap for sustainable use of oceans (Down to Earth)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on ongoing United Nation Ocean Conference and its implications for Ocean conservation.(GS paper III)


  • Human activities are having major impacts on the ocean, affecting everything from the viability of marine habitats to the quality and temperature of the water, the health of marine life and the continued availability of seafood, warming oceans, depleting sea life and plastic pollution has led to the call for urgent action to improve the health of the oceans.
  • The United Nation Ocean Conference will run from 5th to 9th June 2017 at United Nations Headquarter in New York. The Ocean Conference is the first U.N. conference of its kind on the issue, is hosted by the Governments of Fiji and Sweden.

Objectives of the conference

  • The Ocean Conference, the first ever such summit convened by the UN, The Conference will focus on the targets outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goal 14- “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources to benefit present and future generations.”
  • The Conference aims to be the game changer that will reverse the decline in the health of our ocean for people, planet and prosperity. It will be solutions-focused with engagement from all.

The Conference shall:

  • Identify ways and means to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14;
  • Build on existing successful partnerships and stimulate innovative and concrete new partnerships to advance the implementation of Goal 14;
  • Involve all relevant stakeholders, bringing together Governments, the United Nations system, other intergovernmental organizations, international financial institutions, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, academic institutions the scientific community, the private sector, philanthropic organizations and other actors to assess challenges and opportunities relating to, as well as actions taken towards, the implementation of Goal 14;
  • Share the experiences gained at the national, regional and international levels in the implementation of Goal 14;
  • Contribute to the follow-up and review process of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by providing an input to the high-level political forum on sustainable development.

Expected outcome

  • The Conference plans to finalize the text for its zero draft ‘Call for Action’. It calls on countries to implement strategies for reducing the use of plastics.
  • The Call takes note of the Paris Agreement on climate change and includes measures to protect coastal and blue carbon ecosystems such as mangroves, tidal marshes, seagrass and coral reefs as well as enhancing sustainable fisheries management.
  • Countries are called upon to decisively prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing and eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

India’s opportunity

  • Over a third of India’s population around 35% lives along its vast coastline and nearly half of this coast experiences erosion. More than one million peoples in India situated along the coast are employed in marine capture fisheries.
  • According to India’s Fourth National Report to the Convention of Biological Diversity, 2009, India is endowed with vast inland and marine bio-resources, and is the third largest producer of fish in the world and the second largest producer of inland fish. Climate change can potentially impact food security in the Indian Ocean rim countries and also the global fisheries market.
  • The Indian government’s Sagarmala Project is working to improve the state of India’s ports and coastlines. To conserve marine ecosystems, the government has undertaken a National Plan for the Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems. Coastal and marine biodiversity protection is a key area of focus for India.
  • The Government of India is strongly committed to the 2030 Agenda, including the SDGs, as evidenced by the statements of the Prime Minister. India’s policy think-tank NITI Aayog has been assigned the task to ensure that national goals are in concurrence with SDGs. The planning body noted the ministries and departments to work on these goals and asked the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation to set indicators for monitoring progress.
  • Ministry of earth sciences is the nodal ministry in-charge of SDG14. It has to work along with the ministry of environment, forest and climate change and department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries under the ministry of agriculture.

Sustainable Development Goal 14


By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution


By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans


Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels


By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics


By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information


By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognising that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation


By 2030, increase the economic benefits to small island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism


Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries


Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets


Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources.

Way ahead

  • Oceans are the largest ecosystems on Earth; they are the Earth’s largest life support systems. To survive and prosper, we all need healthy oceans. From plastic bags to pesticides most of the waste we produce on land eventually reaches the oceans, either through deliberate dumping or from run-off through drains and river. It is responsibility of every citizen to play his or her part in making these oceans clean so that marine species can thrive for long period of time.
  • Working toward UN SDG Goal 14 and the improvement of infrastructures affecting ocean and marine ecosystems is no small task. A surge in the number of voluntary commitments in Ocean Conference to take action to improve the health of the ocean has been recorded, that is indeed a welcome gesture.

Question: What is the potential for the UN Ocean conference to take issue of Ocean conservation on board? How far it can achieve its goal? 


2.Real challenge for Swachh Bharat (Live Mint)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the impending challenges in the swachh Bharat mission in the areas such as solid waste management. (GS paper II)


  • Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), the campaign was launched with much fanfare by the PM on 2 October 2014 with the involvement of various celebrities.
  • However, it may be missing out on one of the key ingredients of clean cities i.e. waste management.

Swachh Bharat Mission

  • In his address to the nation at the Red Fort on 15 August 2014, Prime Minister set the ambitious target of making India ‘open defecation free’ by Mahatma Gandhi’s 150thbirth anniversary on 2 October 2019.
  • Technically, the crisis of sanitation is now being handled by three ministries as nodal entities with an expectation that this division of labour will help in achieving the gigantic goal of making India open defecation free by 2019.
  • Rural sanitation is vested within the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS), while urban areas fall under the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD).
  • School sanitation is given to the Ministry of Human Resource Development. In reality, however, there is a lack of coordination between the ministries and it is unclear yet on how they will work together to overcome their overlapping sanitation challenges.

Real concerns

  • The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, one of the Narendra Modi’s flagship schemes, may be missing out on one of the key ingredients of clean cities: waste management. Although the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan lays a lot of emphasis on collecting waste in cities, it does not seem to have given adequate attention to waste management, the recently released draft of the State of Environment Report 2105 shows.
  • Most of the solid waste generated in cities is dumped in landfill sites, which the report describes as “non-scientific” and “rudimentary”. These sites, apart from being health hazards, also pose a serious threat to land and water resources.
  • Many of India’s big cities are struggling to treat their sewage as well. According to figures from the 2016 compendium of environment statistics, Delhi’s sewage treatment capacity was only 60% of its total sewage generation.
  • The waste-management problems of cities do not seem to be reflected in the Swachh Bharat rankings of cities published recently. For instance, Indore, Bhopal and Surat, which ranked first, second and fourth, respectively, based on their Swachh Survekshan 2017 scores, are each able to treat less than half of the sewage they generate.
  • As several commentators have pointed out, a key drawback of the Swachh Bharat rankings is that they rely too heavily on perception. The environment ministry data suggests that the perception about cleanliness of cities may differ quite sharply from the reality.
  • Another area of worry is the cut in resources allocated for behaviour change. Over the past few months, urban areas have been inundated with billboards, posters, TV and radio ads urging people to keep their surroundings clean and build toilets in their houses. While the government has spent a lot of money on this mass media campaign, it is as yet unclear if the campaign has managed to change people’s attitudes and approach towards sanitation. In India, the major challenge is getting people to use toilets once constructed, but only a meagre 8% of funds have been directed towards this.
  • To enable the creation of organic demand for sanitation among communities, SBM emphasises creating foot soldiers termed as Swacchata Doots. While this frontline work force is much desired, only 8,890 Swachhata Doots have been identified so far against the 76,108 needed in urban areas. The rural scenario looks even worse. According to one estimate, 6.4 lakh people will be needed from the panchayat to state levels to run this programme but the SBM is unclear on how this huge human resource crunch will be filled.
  • The larger challenge is that of lack of trained human resources at every level, which has led to sub-optimal performance of mandated bodies like the State Water and Sanitation Missions and District Water and Sanitation Missions. Without a real fillip to these, the supply side challenge will not be met.

Waste and Urbanization

  • As India urbanizes, the problem of waste management will only grow. What compounds this problem further is the growing volume of hazardous waste generated in the country.
  • According to the state of the environment report, the number of hazardous waste generating industries has risen from an estimated 36,165 generating 6.2 million tonnes of hazardous waste in 2009 to 42,429 generating 7.8 million tonnes of hazardous waste in 2015.
  • Moreover, Smaller firms or micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME), as they are classified in India, seem to be generating most of the industrial waste and pollutants in the country as they are not subject to the strict pollution control norms which apply to big industries.
  • The share of highly polluting industries which do not comply with pollution norms has increased by around 8 percentage points between 2010 and 2014, according to the state of the environment report.

Way ahead

  • “Swachh Bharat” (or clean India) is possible only when these issues are dealt with in a holistic manner. Piecemeal initiatives to clean streets, or to clean rivers, will not succeed without adequate waste management infrastructure and pollution control measures.
  • A classic example is the Clean Ganga Mission, which is facing challenges because of inadequate sewage treatment in Varanasi and unregulated discharge from leather tanneries in Kanpur.
  • The battle for a cleaner, greener and healthier India cannot succeed without an overarching framework to deal with the generation, management and disposal of waste.

Question: What are the recognisable improvements which can be seen since the commencement of SBM? How government should respond to the issue of Soli waste management in its context?


3.Cure to drug resistant kala azar on the table (Down to Earth)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the discovery of the possible cure for kala azar disease. (GS paper III)


  • Kala azar is the second largest parasitic killer in the world. Along with Chagas disease and sleeping sickness, kala azar is one of the most dangerous neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
  • Kala-azar or visceral leishmaniasis is a public health problem in parts of India and of late, it is posing a new challenge due to the rise of drug resistance. Now a group of Indian scientists have figured out underlying reasons for the disease-causing parasite, Leishmania donovani, to become resistant to drugs.  This development could pave the way for addressing the problem of drug resistant kala-azar.

Kala Azar

  • Kala azar is endemic in 47 countries with approximately 200 million people at risk of infection. The parasite is spread to humans by bites from infected female sand flies. It attacks the immune system, and is almost always fatal if not treated.
  • There are between 200,000 and 400,000 new cases a year, about 90 percent of which are in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sudan and Brazil.
  • Kala azar is caused by bites from female phlebotomine sandflies – the vector (or transmitter) of the leishmania parasite.
  • The sand flies feed on animals and humans for blood, which they need for developing their eggs. If blood containing leishmania parasites is drawn from an animal or human, the next person to receive a bite will then become infected and develop leishmaniasis.
  • Months after this initial infection the disease can progress into a more severe form, called visceral leishmaniasis or, kala azar.

kalaPotent solution to kala azar

  • Researchers had figured out that nine proteins present in the invading parasite play an important role in its response to antimony agents currently in use.
  • The presence of these proteins, scientists say, can differentiate between the drug resistant and sensitive types of the parasite and can predict treatment outcomes.
  • Researchers deployed a combination of modern tools to study the parasite’s strategy which modulates immune response of the host to its own advantage. Although most of the nine proteins have been reported earlier in different studies as factors associated with resistance against different drugs, the present study has found that these proteins act together and interact closely in the host resulting in the drug becoming ineffective.


  • Among the 200,000-400,000 new cases of visceral leishmaniasis reported annually in India, a staggering 65% are resistant to the conventional treatment to antimony. As a result, the death toll due to this is 20,000-40,000 annually.
  • Finding molecular markers can provide crucial headway in development of molecular tools to detect and monitor drug susceptibility, optimize drug use, and to identify novel drug targets.

Question What are the implications of diseases such as kala azar, TB etc. on the Make in India campaign? Discuss it in the light of demographic window for India.

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