June 2018
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Over 120 pregnant minke whales killed in Japan


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Minke whales, International Whaling Commission, International Court of Justice

Mains level: Killing of various animal species in name of culture and international efforts against it


Japan’s annual hunt

  1. More than 120 pregnant minke whales were killed during Japan’s latest annual hunt off the coast of Antarctica
  2. Japan’s latest hunting season in the Antarctic Ocean ran from early December to late February, lasting about 12 weeks
  3. International Whaling Commission report showed that 128 out of the 333 minke whales caught during the expedition in the Southern Ocean were female, and 122 of them were pregnant

Ban by ICJ

  1. In March 2014, the International Court of Justice ruled against Japan’s “research whaling”
  2. According to ICJ, it served as a front to allow commercial hunting and selling of whales under a scientific exemption
  3. The Japanese government continues to claim that the Antarctic program is necessary to study the managing methods of minke populations and that hunting whale is “an ancient part of its culture”
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Upgraded Pinaka rocket successfully test-fired

Image source


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | indigenization of technology & developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pinaka rocket, Imarat (RCI), DRDO

Mains level: India’s missile development program and its success so far


Pinaka system gets an upgrade

  1. An upgraded version of Pinaka rocket, with enhanced range and guidance system, was successfully test-fired from Chandipur in Odisha
  2. The earlier Pinaka system, which was an unguided one, has now been transformed into a guided version, with a navigation, guidance and control kit developed by the Research Centre, Imarat (RCI), Hyderabad
  3. The RCI comes under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)

About the development

  1. The guided Pinaka has been developed jointly by the Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), Pune, the RCI, and the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad, for the Indian Army
  2. The conversion helped in enhancing the range and accuracy of Pinaka
  3. Its range was 40 km earlier which has increased to more than 70 km now
Indian Missile Program Updates

Trilateral war games to kick off next week


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Malabar trilateral exercise

Mains level: Role of India in containing China’s rising hegemony across Pacific and Indian ocean


Malabar trilateral naval war games

  1. India, Japan, and the U.S. will hold the annual Malabar trilateral naval war games off the coast of Guam in the Philippine Sea from June 6-15
  2. The exercise comes at a time of increased friction between China and the U.S. along with the nations bordering the South China Sea

Increased focus on India

  1. The U.S. has just renamed its Pacific command as Indo-Pacific command
  2. This is to underscore its commitment to the region in line with its Indo-Pacific strategy
Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

Achieving universal health coverage in India


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Universal Health Care, SDG, MDG

Mains level: The newscard briefly talks about expanding the scope of definition of Health therefore ensuring Universal Health Care for all.


  1. The health goal under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is, arguably, the most important target on the agenda of India and other member countries.
  2. This is because of its inextricable connection with other indicators of socio-economic development like poverty, zero hunger (nutrition), quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation.
  3. The essence of this goal is to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all in all ages”, which implies universal health coverage.

Strive for Health for All

  1. The World Health Organization (WHO) Health Assembly set the target of “Health for All” in May 1977.
  2. These were to be achieved by the end of 2000. Subsequently, in 2000, the Millennium Development Goals were formulated by the UN with the target for achievement set for 2015.
  3. This was followed by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), set by the UN in 2016, to be achieved by 2030 by all member countries.
  4. Throughout this trajectory, the essence of “health for all” has been preserved.

Reviving the Definition of Health: Including determinants based on Climate Change

  1. The SDGs advocate universal health coverage for which the definition of health needs to be understood from a holistic perspective.
  2. This would entail revisiting the 70-year-old definition of health as described by the World Health Organization—“a state of complete physical, mental, social well-being and not merely absence of disease or infirmity”—and considering other determinants as well.
  3. A determinant-based definition of health and well-being will not only help in better perception of disease, but also provide a better tool in deciding the right priority for public health interventions.
  4. The ongoing 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva deliberated on the importance of environmental, climate and other determinants of health.

Other Factors of Health Hazards

  1. Besides many others, one important factor that needs to be considered while comparing the magnitude of different diseases is the level of parasitemia or viremia in the general population, incubation period and presence of pathogens in the non-human host in close environment, etc.
  2. Diseases of public health importance, such as kala azar, lymphatic filariasis, leprosy, etc., can manifest in an apparently healthy population in tropical and sub-tropical climatic regions and can re-emerge if not eliminated.
  3. While there has been tremendous progress in addressing neglected tropical diseases in many countries, including India, due to concerted efforts of the government, elimination efforts are still to be universalized across many districts.
  4. These diseases shouldn’t be neglected any more, even though the magnitude of reported cases has reduced over the years.

Redefining Health

  1. Well-being, in general, is associated with self-preserved health, awareness and practice of good health behaviour, social connectedness and productivity.
  2. Viewed through this holistic lens, the revised definition of health should include all such determinants and be redefined as “a state of complete physical, mental, social and environmental well-being, including absence of determinants of disease in the body or in its proximity that can cause harm by use or by contact with the body”.

The Way Forward

  1. It is high time for UN bodies/World Health Assembly to acknowledge the need for redefining health in light of the SDGs.
  2. Universal health coverage should be designed based on the revised definition of health. That will lead to a better understanding, and attainment, of holistic health and well-being.
  3. This will help in directing focused priority and mobilization of resources in the right direction.
  4. In addition, a national framework for universal health coverage needs to be developed by the member countries.
  5. This would involve inter-sectoral collaborations at the community level with local health teams, the private sector, non-government organizations and community-based organizations to strengthen primary health and support secondary and tertiary infrastructure.
  6. This would not also empower people to protect themselves from illness and encourage treatment-seeking behaviour for which people’s awareness needs to be built up through simple community-level ideas for health promotion, prevention and self-protection as essential part of primary healthcare.
  7. Joint participation with health teams by trained volunteers in uniform, including those from National Cadet Corps (NCC), National Scout Services (NSS), nursing schools, etc., can provide a thrust for addressing social, and environmental determinants and can bring about positive change in personal hygiene, healthy behaviour and cleanliness.

Following Ashoka’s Legacy

  1. History is full of examples of governments empowering their people to propagate a holistic approach to what we now term universal health coverage.
  2. In the third century BC, emperor Ashoka is believed to have said, “I am going to propagate medicinal herbs throughout my kingdom to ensure complete accessibility to all my subjects as it is my ethical responsibility to provide good health to all people.”