Explained: One Health Philosophy

Mains Paper 3 : Economics Of Animal-Rearing |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : One Health Concept

Mains level : Livestock health issues



News

Frequent Outbreaks of Zoonotic Diseases

  • Not so long ago, the widespread prevalence of avian influenza in poultry, or bird flu as it commonly became known, created nationwide panic resulting in the culling of millions of poultry birds.
  • It was concern for human health that prompted the extreme reaction and subsequent establishment of protocols; containment of avian influenza is managed quite effectively now.
  • Similarly in 2003, SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome emanated suddenly in China and vanished soon.

Followed by hues and panic

  • These outbreaks culminated emergency response that included extreme measures like travel bans and restrictions.
  • In both cases, panic spread much faster than the virus.
  • Besides drawing a response from governments, these events also brought forth the hitherto forgotten philosophy of One Health.
  • This idea recognizes inter-connectivity among human health, the health of animals, and the environment.

The One Health concept

  • The World Organization of Animal Health, commonly known as OIE (an abbreviation of its French title), summarizes the One Health concept.
  • It says that as “human health and animal health are interdependent and bound to the health of the ecosystems in which they exist”.
  • Circa 400 BC, Hippocrates in his treatise On Airs, Waters and Places had urged physicians that all aspects of patients’ lives need to be considered including their environment; disease was a result of imbalance between man and environment.
  • So One Health is not a new concept, though it is of late that it has been formalized in health governance systems.

Why rise in such outbreaks?

  • As human populations expand, it results in greater contact with domestic and wild animals, providing more opportunities for diseases to pass from one to the other.
  • Climate change, deforestation and intensive farming further disrupt environment characteristics, while increased trade and travel result in closer and more frequent interaction, thus increasing the possibility of transmission of diseases.
  • According to the OIE, 60% of existing human infectious diseases are zoonotic i.e. they are transmitted from animals to humans; 75% of emerging infectious human diseases have an animal origin.
  • Of the five new human diseases appearing every year, three originate in animals. If this is not scary enough, 80% biological agents with potential bio-terrorist use are zoonotic pathogens.
  • It is estimated that zoonotic diseases account for nearly two billion cases per year resulting in more than two million deaths — more than from HIV/AIDS and diarrhoea.
  • One-fifth of premature deaths in poor countries are attributed to diseases transmitted from animals to humans.

Urgent care needed

  • Humans require a regular diet of animal protein.
  • This calls for strict health surveillance to incorporate domestic animals, livestock and poultry too.
  • Thus, loss of food animals on account of poor health or disease too becomes a public health issue even though there may be no disease transmission, and we lose 20% of our animals this way.

 India: The forerunner of global health

  • The WHO was set up in 1948 to, among other objectives; promote cooperation to control human diseases.
  • India, a founding member, also hosted the first meeting of WHO’s South East Asia Regional Committee in October that year.
  • The cooperation and collaboration among nations to control and contain animal diseases is a sine qua non for achieving the WHO objectives.
  • This has been recognised as early as in 1924 when OIE was established to fight animal diseases at the global level.
  • India has been at the forefront of both these apex bodies, though for different reasons.

India is at the forefront

  • The size of India’s human and animal populations is almost the same; 121 crore people (2011 Census) and 125.5 crore livestock and poultry.
  • A network of 1.90 lakh health institutions in the government sector form the backbone of health governance, supported by a large number of private facilities.
  • On the other hand, only 65,000 veterinary institutions tend to the health needs of 125.5 crore animals; and this includes 28,000 mobile dispensaries and first aid centres with bare minimum facilities.

Need for a robust animal health system

  • Private sector presence in veterinary services is close to being nonexistent.
  • Unlike a physician, a veterinarian is always on a house call on account of the logistic challenge of transporting livestock to the hospital, unless they are domestic pets.
  • There could not be a stronger case for reinventing the entire animal husbandry sector to be able to reach every livestock farmer, not only for disease treatment but for prevention and surveillance to minimize the threat to human health.
  • Early detection at animal source can prevent disease transmission to humans and introduction of pathogens into the food chain. So a robust animal health system is the first and a crucial step in human health.

Way Forward

  • Developing countries like India have much greater stake in strong One Health systems on account of agricultural systems resulting in uncomfortably close proximity of animals and humans.
  • This builds a strong case for strengthening veterinary institutions and services.
  • The most effective and economical approach is to control zoonotic pathogens at their animal source.
  • It calls not only for close collaboration at local, regional and global levels among veterinary, health and environmental governance, but also for greater investment in animal health infrastructure.
Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Dead Zones

Mains level : Impact of excessive water pollution



News

  • Scientists say this year’s oceanic ‘dead zone’ in the Gulf of Mexico will be one of the largest in recorded history.
  • It’s expected to grow to over 8,000 sq. miles, and scientists predict severe harm to marine habitat, impacting fish harvests.

Dead Zone

  • Dead zones are hypoxic (low-oxygen) areas in the world’s oceans and large lakes.
  • They are caused by “excessive nutrient pollution from human activities coupled with other factors that deplete the oxygen required to support most marine life in bottom and near-bottom water.
  • Historically, many of these sites were naturally occurring.
  • However, in the 1970s, oceanographers began noting increased instances and expanses of dead zones.
  • These occur near inhabited coastlines, where aquatic life is most concentrated.
  • The vast middle portions of the oceans, which naturally have little life, are not considered “dead zones”.

Why do they occur?

  • Dead zones can be caused by natural and by anthropogenic factors.
  • Natural causes include coastal upwelling and changes in wind and water circulation patterns.
  • Use of chemical fertilizers is considered the major human-related cause of dead zones around the world.
  • Runoff from sewage, urban land use, and fertilizers can also contribute to eutrophication
  • They can be caused by an increase in nutrients (particularly nitrogen and phosphorus) in the water, known as eutrophication.
  • These chemicals are the fundamental building blocks of single-celled, plant-like organisms that live in the water column, and whose growth is limited in part by the availability of these materials.
  • Eutrophication can lead to rapid increases in the density of certain types of these phytoplankton, a phenomenon known as an algal bloom.

How is hypoxia created?

  • The major groups of algae are Cyanobacteria, green algae, Dinoflagellates, Coccolithophores and Diatom algae.
  • Cyanobacteria are not good food for zooplankton and fish and hence accumulate in water, die, and then decompose.
  • The bacterial degradation of their biomass consumes the oxygen in the water, thereby creating the state of hypoxia.

With inputs from:

National Geographic

Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Operation Sunshine-2

Mains Paper 3 : Border Area Security Challenges |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Op Sunshine

Mains level : Counter terrorsism measures


News

Operation Sunshine-2

  • In a coordinated military operation conducted by the armies of India and Myanmar on their respective sides of the border, several camps of NE-based militant groups inside Myanmar territory were destroyed.
  • Called ‘Operation Sunshine-2’, the military action that took place between May 16 and June 8, is expected to give a debilitating jolt to insurgencies in the Northeastern states.
  • At least seven to eight camps of the NSCN-K, NDFB, ULFA(I), KLO and NEFT in Myanmar’s Sagaing Region were destroyed by the Myanmar Army in mortar firing.
  • Majority of these camps were in Hokayat, and were predominantly of the Naga rebel group, NSCN-K, which had abrogated its ceasefire with the Indian government in 2015.
  • The operation included blocks by two battalions of the Indian Army — along with Special Forces, Assam Rifles and infantry Ghataks — on the Indian side of the border.
  • This was a follow-up to ‘Operation Sunshine-1’ from February 22 to 26, when the Indian Army had acted against suspected Arakanese rebel camps inside Indian Territory.
Foreign Policy Watch: Cross-Border Terrorism

Species in news: Balsams of Eastern Himalayas

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Balsams

Mains level : Biodiversity richness of Eastern Himalayas



News

  • Between 2010 and 2019, botanists and taxonomists working on Impatiens – a group of plants commonly known as Balsams or jewel-weeds – discovered 23 new species from the eastern Himalayas.

Balsams or Jewel-weeds

  • Consisting of both annual and perennial herbs, balsams are succulent plants with high endemism. Because of their bright beautiful flowers these groups of plants are of prized horticultural significance.
  • The details of the new species, including several new records, have been highlighted in the book, recently published by the Botanical Survey of India.
  • Of the 83 species described, 45 are from Arunachal Pradesh, 24 from Sikkim and 16 species common to both states.

Threats to Balsams

  • Prior to 2010, specimens of Impatiens that had potential of being identified as new species would be collected but the dried up specimens looked identical to the species discovered earlier and their effort yielded no results.
  • Other than high endemism, what sets Impatiens apart is their sensitivity to climate change.
  • Most of the species of Impatiens cannot endure persistent drought or extended exposure to direct sunlight.
  • As a result Impatiens species are typically confined to stream margins, moist roadsides, waterside boulders, near waterfalls and wet forests.

Mendeleev and his periodic table of elements

Mains Paper 3 : S&T - Applications In Everyday Life |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Modern Periodic Table

Mains level : Not Much



News

  • This newscard is supplementary to an must-read article published in the The Hindu

The Modern Periodic Table

  • The periodic table is an arrangement of all the elements known to man in accordance with their increasing atomic number and recurring chemical properties.
  • They are assorted in a tabular arrangement wherein a row is a period and a column is a group.
  • Until 1863, the world was aware of only 56 known elements.
  • The rate of scientific progress was such that every year, a new element was being discovered.
  • It was during this time that Mendeleev came up with the idea of the Periodic Table.
  • He published the Periodic Table in his book– The Relation between the Properties and Atomic Weights of the Elements.
  • Mendeleev said that he arrived at the idea in his dream, where he saw all chemical elements falling into place on a table according to their chemical properties.
  • Mendeleev had found a definitive pattern following which, each element could be placed according to their atomic weight.
  • He had also predicted the qualities of the ‘missing’ (yet to be discovered) elements and gave them Sanskrit names.

Its Evolution

  • The noble gases including helium (He), neon (Ne), argon (Ar), krypton (Kr), xenon (Xe), and radon (Rn) were added to the table between 1895 and 1901.
  • Likewise, additions have been made to the periodic table as new elements have been discovered in the last hundred years
  • In 1914, English physicist Henry Gwyn-Jeffries Moseley found out that each atomic nucleus can be assigned a number, according to the number of protons in that atom.
  • This changed the way the periodic table worked. The table was redesigned according to the atomic number of elements rather than their atomic weight
  • Rare-earth elements, including the elements in the Lanthanide series, were included in the atomic table in the late 19th century.
Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

[op-ed snap] If the rains fail

Mains :

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Steps to handle impacts of a weak monsson


CONTEXT

Low retail food inflation, ample stocks of pulses and cereals give government leeway to plan for the exigencies of a poor monsoon.

Monsoon Data

  • The first half of this month has seen the country receive 43 per cent below-normal rainfall, on top of a 25 per cent deficiency in the pre-monsoon season (March-May).
  • Moreover, Gujarat, Maharashtra, northern Karnataka, coastal Andhra Pradesh and large areas in the Northeast have been experiencing an extended dry spell since the last post-monsoon period (October-December).
  • If current conditions persist — the US Climate Prediction Center has forecast an 81 per cent chance of El Nino, the abnormal warming of the equatorial eastern Pacific Ocean waters known to adversely impact rainfall in India, continuing till July and 66 per cent up to August — kharif crop production will take a hit.
  • The agriculture ministry’s data already shows a 9 per cent fall in plantings so far this kharif season compared with last year’s corresponding acreage, with even sharper declines for pulses (51 per cent) and coarse cereals (26 per cent).

Given the delayed onset of monsoon and likely rainfall deficit, farmers should be advised to sow short-duration pulses (moong and urad), soyabean, groundnut, sesame, guar and fodder crops, apart from maize and cotton that need less water than paddy or sugarcane.

More important, however, is to think beyond the immediate.

    • That would mean freeing up agricultural markets by totally abolishing stocking, Movement and export restrictions on produce;
    • Giving farmers the freedom to sell their crop to anybody and anywhere;
    • And replacing all input and output subsidies with per-acre direct benefit transfers.

Conclusion

The farm sector must no longer be viewed as a source of wage-goods for meeting industrialisation or inflation-targeting goals, but a potent instrument for raising rural incomes and reducing poverty.

Monsoon Updates

[op-ed snap] In the absence of good law

Mains Paper 2 : Laws, Institutions & Bodies Constituted For The Vulnerable Sections |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Parliamentary Legislation is required for efficient procurements


CONTEXT

Recently, the Supreme Court expressed its growing concern over the award of tenders being challenged in writ proceedings almost as a matter of routine. In anguish it added, “It however appears that the window has been opened too wide as almost every small or big tender is now sought to be challenged in writ proceedings almost as a matter of routine.”

Absence of legislation

  • The rude fact is that India has still to enact parliamentary legislation to comprehensively deal with public procurement.
  • Consider this. Procurement by the government accounts for 30% of the GDP; yet notwithstanding such fiscal significance, there is no comprehensive parliamentary legislation till date to regulate such public procurement by the Central government.
  • Parliamentary legislation – Given such a scenario, parliamentary legislation to regulate public procurements which provide adequate means for aggrieved parties to challenge inequities and illegalities in public procurement needs to be put in place.
  • The government is also well aware of this inadequacy.
  • Past efforts in legislating –
    • For example, the United Progressive Alliance introduced the Public Procurement Bill in the Lok Sabha in 2012, “to regulate public procurement with the objective of ensuring transparency accountability and probity in the procurement process”. The sad fact is that it was not passed by Parliament.
    • The National Democratic Alliance, in 2015, revamped the provisions of the earlier Bill to come up with the Public Procurement Bill, 2015; it was a significant improvement to the 2012 Bill. Unfortunately, this Bill too is floundering.
  • Weak Existing constitutional provisions –  Existing constitutional provisions are themselves no great help in this area. While Article 282 provides for financial autonomy in public spending, there are no further provisions that address any guidance on public procurement principles, policies, procedures or for grievance redress.

Inadequacies in State law

  • Less prevalent – State public procurement is regulated by a State Act only in five States: Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Assam.
  • Ineffective grievance redress – The grievance redress mechanisms provided in these Acts are not confidence-inspiring as they are neither independent nor effective.
  • No followup to court’s directives – They fall woefully short of the prescriptions set out by the Supreme Court in Madras Bar Association v. Union of India, in which the court spelt out the requirements that tribunals must possess to qualify them as being “efficacious alternative remedy” — a phrase so wisely provided in Article 226 by our founding fathers. The emphasis being on the word “efficacious”.
  • less interference by courts – Further, getting back to the issue of tenders being challenged, courts have imposed such stringent self-imposed restrictions in the area of judicial reviewvis-à-vis tenders that the power to interfere is very sparingly exercised, if at all.
  • Extra powers to procuring officer – The procuring officer is empowered by judicial principles such as “Government must be allowed a play in the joints”. Given such a feeble legal framework which demands so little accountability, the award of tenders can become a happy hunting ground for the unscrupulous.

Conclusion

  • While such restraints imposed on courts by themselves would be admirable if alternative efficacious remedy is available, they, unfortunately, would only encourage the growth of other negative aspects of public procurement, in the absence of an alternate efficacious remedy to redress grievances. In such a depressing legal scenario, it is no surprise that public procurement tender awards are often challenged in constitutional courts.
  • Till such time as a robust efficacious alternative remedy is provided, one would only appeal to the constitutional courts using the words of the Bard of Avon: “Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper sprinkle cool patience.”