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[op-ed snap] Smoke of the Vaper: On e-cigarettes ban

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ENDS

Mains level : Need to ban e-cigarettes


Context

  • When alternatives are peddled as ‘the lesser evil’, virtue is artificially added as a measure of degrees.
  • The evil is often clear and present, as in the case of electronic cigarettes, in all forms — Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS), vapes, and e-hookahs.

The Ban

  • The Centre’s move to ban these products shows a welcome intolerance of anything that impacts negatively on the health and wellness of the people of the country.
  • The Cabinet recently cleared the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Ordinance, 2019.
  • Now, any production, import, export, sale (including online), distribution or advertisement, and storage of e-cigarettes is a cognizable offence punishable with imprisonment or fine, or both.

E-cigarettes over Cigarettes

  • E-cigarettes, which were to aid smokers kick their habit, do not burn tobacco leaves.
  • Instead these battery-operated devices produce aerosol by heating a solution containing among other things, nicotine.
  • Nicotine is an addictive substance that may, according to studies, function as a “tumour promoter” and aid neuro-degeneration.
  • Some other compounds in the aerosol are toxic substances that have known deleterious effects, and might just be less harmful than cigarettes, not harmless.
  • Seven deaths have been recorded in the U.S. — the largest consumer of e-cigarettes in the world — where, New York recently banned the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes.

Ban is justified

  • There is ample evidence on the harm of nicotine addiction — the reason that it is only approved under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act for use only in nicotine gums and patches.
  • As the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) outlines, these devices can only be believed to succeed if smokers have moved on to an alternative nicotine source.
  • There is evidence now that vaping dangled as a cool, fun, activity, lures youngsters, and ironically, serves to introduce them to smoking.
  • The FCTC also records that e-cigarettes are unlikely to be harmless, and long-term use is expected to increase the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and possibly cardiovascular disease and other diseases also associated with smoking.

Numbers were the trigger

  • The urgency to act on this front is also justified by the number of users.
  • As per figures submitted to Parliament earlier this year, e-cigarettes and accessories valued at about $1,91,780 were imported to India between 2016 and 2019.

Conclusion

  • The government, already on the right path, must go all out to ensure that its ban is implemented earnestly in letter and spirit, unlike the patchy execution of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act.
  • It is essential to ensure this progressive ordinance does not go up in smoke.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Explained: PoK and Gilgit Baltistan, parts of J&K under Pak occupation

Mains Paper 2 : Federalism |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PoK

Mains level : India's territorial integrity



News

  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said this week that “we expect one day we will have physical jurisdiction” over Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Supporting regulation

  • A resolution unanimously adopted by Parliament on February 22, 1994 affirmed that “the State of Jammu & Kashmir has been, is and shall be an integral part of India.
  • It demanded that Pakistan must vacate the areas of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, which they have occupied through aggression.
  • PoK and GB are both part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession to India in 1947.

The PoK

  • Pakistan Occupied Kashmir is an area of 13,297 sq km, which was under the control of the Pakistani forces when the ceasefire line came into effect on January 1, 1949.
  • That was after a 14-month period of hostilities between India and Pakistan, which began with an invasion of Kashmir by Pashtun tribesmen, and later its Army, to seize Kashmir.
  • In 1963, through an agreement, Pakistan ceded to China over 5,000 sq km of J&K land under its control, in the Shaksgam area, in northern Kashmir, beyond the Karakoram.

Demography

  • PoK has a population of over 40 lakh, according to a census carried out in 2017.
  • It is divided into 10 districts: Neelum, Muzaffarabad, Hattian Bala, Bagh, and Haveli bordering areas in Kashmir, and Rawlakot, Kotli, Mirpur, and Bhimber bordering areas in Jammu.
  • The capital of PoK is Muzaffarabad, a town located in the valley of the Jhelum river and its tributary Neelum (which Indians call Kishanganga) to the west and slightly north of Srinagar.

And what is Gilgit Baltistan?

  • This is a picturesque, hilly region to the north of PoK and east of the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
  • The British sold it, along with the rest of Jammu and Kashmir, to the Dogra ruler of Jammu, Gulab Singh, after defeating the Sikh army in 1846.
  • However they retained controlled over the area through a lease extracted from the Maharaja.This lease was last renewed in 1935.
  • In 1947, a British army officer of the rank of Colonel imprisoned Maharaja Hari Singh’s governor in the region, and handed over the area for accession to Pakistan.
  • Gilgit Baltistan (GB) is spread over 72,871 sq km, and is five-and-a-half times the size of PoK. But it is sparsely populated, with just under 20 lakh people.
  • GB is divided into three administrative divisions and 10 districts.

What is the administrative status in GB?

  • Though both PoK and GB are ruled directly from Islamabad, neither is officially listed as the territory of Pakistan.
  • Pak has just four provinces: Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (which now includes the Federally Administered Tribal areas or FATA), Balochistan, and Sindh.
  • PoK and GB are both “autonomous territories”.
  • Pakistan has kept this fiction going, as incorporating these areas into its map would damage its international position in the UN and elsewhere that the entire Jammu and Kashmir is “disputed”.
J&K – The issues around the state

Access to Internet is a basic right, says Kerala High Court

Mains Paper 2 : Indian Constitution - historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Art. 19

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

  • The Kerala High Court held that the right to have access to the Internet is part of the fundamental right to education as well as the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Right to access Internet

  • The court ordered to re-admit a student who had been expelled from the college hostel for using her mobile phone beyond the restricted hours.
  • The court observed that when the Human Rights Council of the UN has found that the right of access to Internet is a fundamental freedom and a tool to ensure right to education.
  • A rule or instruction which impairs the said right of the students cannot be permitted to stand in the eye of law.
  • The bench contended that the use of mobile phones amounted to a violation of fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

Restrictions on Art. 19(1)(a)

  • The court cited the observations of the Supreme Court in the S.Rengarajan and others v. P. Jagjivan Ram (1989) case.
  • It said that the fundamental freedom under Article 19(1)(a) can be reasonably restricted only for the purposes mentioned in Article 19(2) .
  • And the restriction must be justified on the anvil of necessity and not the quicksand of convenience or expediency.
  • 19(2) provides for reasonable restrictions on Art. 19(1)(a) in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence
Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

Issues in debate around setting an age limit for IVF

Mains : Ethics | Paper 4 |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IVF

Mains level : Ethical issues surrounding IVF



News

Oldest women gave birth with IVF

  • A 74-year-old woman from AP was recently recorded as the oldest in the world to give birth to twins through in-vitro fertilization or IVF.
  • The medical community has expressed ethical and medical concerns over conception at such an advanced age.

Why this is a concern

  • The average life expectancy of an Indian woman is 70 and of a man 69 and the medical community has expressed concerns over future of children born to such an elderly couple.
  • Medical technology has reached a stage where we can get even a 90-year-old pregnant. But there are complications that can risk human life.
  • Pregnancy in old age poses multiple risks — hypertension, diabetes, convulsions, bleeding, and cardiac complications to name a few.
  • The womb of an older woman has to be prepared by injecting hormones for the foetus to grow for nine months.
  • Also, a woman of that age cannot breastfeed.

Can a doctor face action?

  • Internationally this pregnancy is being condemned. Everything could have gone wrong. It sets a wrong precedent said doctors organization.
  • Several experts have demanded punitive action, saying the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) should deregister his Andhra Pradesh centre.
  • But with no law in place — a Bill is pending — the assisted reproductive technology (ART) industry continues to operate in a grey zone.
  • In 2005, when ICMR drafted guidelines for ART, it had not set an age limit keeping in mind that reproductive rights were a fundamental right for a woman.
  • The guidelines have been amended after an elderly woman in Haryana gave birth through IVF. Since the Bill on ART has not been passed yet, legal action against such clinics is impossible.
  • ART clinics are expected to self-regulate.

The Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill, 2010

  • Globally, an estimated 15% of couples are infertile.
  • The ART Regulation Bill, 2010, states that in the Indian social context, children are “old-age insurance”.
  • The Bill proposes the upper age limit at 45 for women and 50 for men to undergo the IVF procedure.
  • As of now, several centres rely on ICMR’s 2017 guidelines that recommend the same age limits. Even for adoption, the total age of the couple must not exceed 110 years.
  • With increasing life expectancy, doctors are in talks with the government to increase the IVF age limit to 50-52 years for women.
  • Until then, several experts self-regulate, some counsel senior citizens to drop the idea, and others refuse them IVF treatment.

The counter-view

  • Societal pressure to have children, the fear of living without support in old age, and the loss of an only child often encourage couples.
  • A lot of couples tell that they want an heir to pass their life’s earnings to.
  • Some doctors argue that childbirth is a personal decision and each individual has the right to make that choice after counselling.
  • Still, a doctor has to conduct tests for the heart, bone structure, diabetes, blood pressure to judge the feasibility of pregnancy.

Laws in other countries

  • Most countries that have a law range the upper limit for IVF between 40 and 50 years.
  • In the US, the upper limit for IVF is 50, and for ovum donation, 45.
  • In Australia, guidelines prohibit IVF beyond menopause (52 years).
  • In the UK, 42 is the age limit for women to seek free insurance under National Health Service. In Canada, the age limit is 43.
Mother and Child Health – Immunization Program, BPBB, PMJSY, PMMSY, etc.

Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)

Mains Paper 1 : Climatic Change |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : AMOC

Mains level : Impacts of oceanic warming



News

  • While greenhouse warming caused by human activity is heating up the Indian oceans, it is likely to boost a key system of currents in the Atlantic Ocean that plays a key role in determining the weather across the world.

Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)

  • AMOC is sometimes referred to as the “Atlantic conveyor belt”.
  • It is one of the Earth’s largest water circulation systems where ocean currents move warm, salty water from the tropics to regions further north, such as western Europe and sends colder water south.
  • It aids in distributing heat and energy around the earth, as the warm water it carries releases heat into the atmosphere, and in absorbing and storing atmospheric carbon.

Why in news?

  • For thousands of years, AMOC has remained stable, but since the past 15 years, it has been weakening.
  • This change could have dramatic consequences for Europe and other parts of the Atlantic rim.

Impact of AMOC slowdown

  • AMOC last witnessed a slow down 15,000 to 17,000 years ago.
  • It caused harsh winters in Europe, with more storms or a drier Sahel in Africa due to the downward shift of the tropical rain belt.
  • The mere possibility that the AMOC could collapse should be a strong reason for concern in an era when human activity is forcing significant changes to the Earth’s systems.

Need for delaying AMOC slowdown

  • Researchers found that rising temperatures in the Indian Ocean can help boost the AMOC and delay slow down.
  • Warming in the Indian Ocean generates additional precipitation, which, in turn, draws more air from other parts of the world, including the Atlantic.
  • This higher level of precipitation in the will reduce precipitation in the Atlantic and increase salinity in the waters.
  • This saline water in the Atlantic, as it comes north via AMOC, will get cold much quicker than usual and sink faster, acting as a jump start for AMOC, intensifying the circulation.

Uncertainty ahead

  • Scientists don’t know for how long this enhanced warming in Indian Ocean will continue.
  • If other tropical oceans’ warming, especially the Pacific’s, catches up with the Indian Ocean, the advantage for AMOC will stop.
  • Moreover, it isn’t clear whether slowdown of AMOC is caused by global warming alone or it is a short-term anomaly related to natural ocean variability.
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

[pib] NEAT Scheme

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NEAT Scheme

Mains level : Applications of AI in HRD


News

  • Ministry of HRD has announced a new PPP Scheme, National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT) for using technology for better learning outcomes in Higher Education.

NEAT Scheme

  • MHRD proposes to launch and operationalize NEAT in early November 2019.
  • The objective is to use Artificial Intelligence to make learning more personalized and customised as per the requirements of the learner.
  • This requires development of technologies in Adaptive Learning to address the diversity of learners.
  • There are a number of start-up companies developing this and MHRD would like to recognise such efforts and bring them under a common platform so that learners can access it easily.
  • Educating the youth is a National effort and MHRD proposes to create a National Alliance with such technology developing EdTech Companies through a PPP model.

 Role of MoHRD

  • MHRD would act as a facilitator to ensure that the solutions are freely available to a large number of economically backward students.
  • MHRD would create and maintain a National NEAT platform that would provide one-stop access to these technological solutions.
  • EdTech companies would be responsible for developing solutions and manage registration of learners through the NEAT portal. They would be free to charge fees as per their policy.
  • As their contribution towards the National cause, they would have to offer free coupons to the extent of 25% of the total registrations for their solution through NEAT portal.
  • MHRD would distribute the free coupons for learning to the most socially/economically backward students.

Implementation

  • AICTE would be the implementing agency for NEAT programme.
  • The scheme shall be administered under the guidance of an Apex Committee constituted by MHRD.
  • Independent Expert Committees would be constituted for evaluating and selecting the EdTech solutions.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PMMVY

Mains level : Success of PMMVY



News

  • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), a flagship scheme of the Government for pregnant women and lactating mothers has achieved a significant milestone by crossing one crore beneficiaries.

About PMMVY

  • PMMVY is a direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme under which cash benefits are provided to pregnant women in their bank account directly to meet enhanced nutritional needs and partially compensate for wage loss.
  • Implementation of the scheme started with effect from 01.01.2017.
  • Under the ‘Scheme’, Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW&LM) receive a cash benefit of Rs. 5,000 in three installments on fulfilling the respective conditionality.
  • They include early registration of pregnancy, ante-natal check-up and registration of the birth of the child and completion of first cycle of vaccination for the first living child of the family.
  • The eligible beneficiaries also receive cash incentive under Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY). Thus, on an average, a woman gets Rs. 6,000.

Performance by states

  • Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Rajasthan are the top five States/UT in the country in implementation of PMMVY.
  • Odisha and Telangana are yet to start implementation of the scheme.
Mother and Child Health – Immunization Program, BPBB, PMJSY, PMMSY, etc.