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Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st May 2024) Part - 2 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC PDF Download

Global Report on Neglected Tropical Diseases 2024

Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st May 2024) Part - 2 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

Context:

  • Ahead of the 77th session of the World Health Assembly, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its 2024 Global report on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
  • The report highlights progress made in 2023 towards the Roadmap for neglected tropical diseases 2021-2030.

Key Highlights of the WHO Report

Global:

  • By December 2023, 50 countries had successfully eliminated at least one NTD, reaching halfway towards the 2030 goal of 100 countries.
  • 5 countries were commended for eliminating one NTD, with 1 country eliminating two.
  • In July 2023, Iraq became the 50th country to eliminate at least one NTD.
  • Noma was added to the list of NTDs in 2023.
  • In October 2023, Bangladesh was validated by WHO for eliminating visceral leishmaniasis.

Status for 2022:

  • In 2022, efforts were made to combat NTDs, with 1.62 billion people needing interventions, showcasing a 26% decrease since 2010.
  • Around 848 million individuals received treatment for at least one NTD in 2022.
  • Reported deaths from vector-borne NTDs increased by 22% by the end of 2022 compared to 2016.

India:

  • India was declared free of NTDs like dracunculiasis and yaws.
  • India treated about 117 million fewer people for certain NTDs in 2022 compared to 2021.
  • 40.56% of India's population required interventions against NTDs in 2022.

Key Facts About Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)

  • NTDs are a group of illnesses caused by various pathogens and have severe health, social, and economic impacts.
  • These diseases primarily affect impoverished communities in tropical regions.
  • NTDs are often vector-borne, have complex life cycles, and receive less funding compared to other major diseases.

Global and Indian Initiatives to Address NTDs

Global Initiatives:

  • WHO's 2021-2030 Roadmap prioritizes impactful strategies to combat NTDs, focusing on collaboration and community involvement.
  • The 2012 London Declaration aims to eliminate NTDs through a unified global effort.

Indian Initiatives:

  • India has successfully eliminated certain NTDs and continues efforts through programs like APELF.
  • Collaborations with WHO and regional initiatives aid in addressing NTDs effectively.
  • Programs like Mass Drug Administration and Vector Control play crucial roles in preventing NTD transmission.
  • Financial assistance schemes support individuals affected by NTDs, easing their financial burdens.

Conclusion

  • The 2024 WHO report illustrates progress in combating neglected tropical diseases globally.
  • While advancements were made in 2023, more efforts are required to meet global targets.
  • Challenges such as funding gaps and post-COVID-19 impacts need to be addressed for future success.
  • Enhanced collaboration at national and global levels is crucial for a world free from neglected tropical diseases.

World Wildlife Crime Report 2024

Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st May 2024) Part - 2 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

Context: The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has recently published the 3rd edition of the World Wildlife Crime Report 2024. This report offers a detailed analysis of the illegal wildlife trade spanning from 2015 to 2021.

Key Highlights of the Report

Trafficking in Animal and Plant Products:

  • The rhino and cedar were the most impacted by the global illegal wildlife trade during 2015-2021.
  • Rhino horn constituted the largest portion of illegal animal trade at 29%, followed by pangolin scales at 28% and elephant ivory at 15%.
  • Other illicitly traded animal species include eels (5%), crocodilians (5%), parrots and cockatoos (2%), carnivores, turtles and tortoises, snakes, and seahorses.
  • Major illegally traded plants were cedars, mahogany, holy wood, Guiacum, rosewoods, and agarwood, among others.

Commodities in Trade:

  • Coral pieces accounted for 16% of all seizures during 2015-2016, live specimens for 15%, and animal product medicines for 10%.

Bone Processing to Move to the Source Nations:

  • The report highlighted a shift where bones are now being processed closer to where the animals are sourced, potentially facilitating easier trafficking.
  • There are concerns about substituting lion and jaguar bones for tiger bones in traditional Chinese medicine.

Factors Responsible for Wildlife Crime

Organised Commercial Illegal Sourcing:

  • Organised crime groups engage in activities like elephant and tiger poaching, illegal fishing, and logging, often leveraging power relationships, corruption, and illicit firearms.

Supplementary Livelihoods and Opportunism:

  • Besides major criminal groups, poverty can drive individuals to partake in wildlife trafficking as a means of survival or protection.

Black Markets Create New Demands:

  • Declining legal uses of certain products can lead to the invention of new illegal markets, driving up demand for luxury items like rare animals or plants.

Corruption:

  • Corruption significantly hampers efforts to combat wildlife trafficking, influencing everything from inspection points to legal decisions.

Cultural Roots of Poaching:

  • Some individuals view poaching as part of their cultural identity, passed down through generations as symbols of bravery and manhood.

Impacts of Wildlife Crime and Trafficking

Environmental Impacts:

  • Species Overexploitation leads to biodiversity degradation, population reductions, and extinction threats.
  • Ecological Impact can result in imbalances and disruptions to essential ecological functions.
  • Dispersal of Invasive Species can harm native ecosystems due to the introduction of non-native species.

Social and Economic Harms:

  • Wildlife crime undermines nature's benefits, impacting food, medicine, energy, and cultural values.
  • Global economic losses from illegal wildlife trade are estimated at USD 1-2 trillion annually.
  • Private sector incurs costs and losses, affecting resource access, competition, and reputations.
  • Health Risks associated with disease transmission are significant, posing threats to ecosystems and livelihoods.
  • Harm to Environmental Defenders like police and wildlife rangers is a serious concern.

Governance Harms:

  • Illegal wildlife trade undermines the rule of law, weakens resource management, and compromises political stability.
  • Loss of Government Revenues occurs due to evasion of legal fees and taxes.
  • Financial Costs of Enforcement have risen globally due to increased spending on conservation and law enforcement.

Measures to Reduce Wildlife Crime

Banning Illegal Wildlife Products:

  • Prohibiting the possession and trade of goods derived from illegal wildlife aims to reduce demand and protect endangered species.

Strengthening Domestic Regulations:

  • Enforcing existing laws and imposing penalties for wildlife protection violations is essential for effective deterrence.

Effective Funding for Wildlife Protection:

  • Improved allocation and management of resources can bolster wildlife protection efforts, supporting park rangers and anti-poaching units.

Public Awareness and Empowerment:

  • Raising awareness about wildlife trafficking consequences and educating the public on the value of wildlife can help reduce demand and encourage reporting of suspicious activities.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st May 2024) Part - 2
Try yourself:
Which country became the 50th country to eliminate at least one Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) in July 2023?
View Solution


SC Limits ED's Arrest Powers in PMLA Cases

Context:

  • Recently, the Supreme Court has restricted the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) authority to arrest an accused once a special court acknowledges a chargesheet filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
  • The judgment underscores the importance of personal liberty and curtails ED's power to make arrests.

Recent Ruling of the Supreme Court Regarding PMLA

  • Provisions in Question: The ruling originated from an appeal against the ED, contesting a Punjab and Haryana High Court decision that denied anticipatory bail.

Key Points:

  • The case inquired whether an accused could seek bail under the regular Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and if such a bail plea needed to meet the conditions outlined in Section 45 of the PMLA.
  • The court also deliberated on the bail conditions for an accused who did not get arrested during the PMLA investigation but appeared in court following a summons or warrant issuance for non-appearance.

SC Observations:

  • If an accused appears in a special court as per a summons, they are not considered in custody, eliminating the need to apply for bail under stringent PMLA conditions.
  • The ED must separately request custody of an accused after their court appearance, providing specific reasons for custodial interrogation.

What is PMLA?

About: The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) aims to prevent money laundering and enable the confiscation of proceeds from such activities.

Key Provisions:

  • The Act defines money laundering offenses, imposes penalties, and facilitates property attachment and confiscation related to money laundering.
  • It mandates reporting requirements for entities like banks and financial institutions and establishes an Appellate Tribunal for appeals.

Recent Amendments:

  • The rules now include provisions for the restoration of confiscated property and expand disclosure requirements for reporting entities like NGOs.
  • New rules define "Politically Exposed Persons" aligning with global standards set by the FATF.

Concerns Regarding PMLA, 2002

  • Broad Definition of Proceeds of Crime: Discussions have emerged about the wide interpretation of "proceeds of crime" within the PMLA, potentially encompassing legal financial transactions.
  • Coverage of Numerous Offences: The PMLA lists various offenses beyond its original focus, leading to debates on its scope and application.
  • Arrest Procedures: Concerns exist regarding the arrest process, especially the communication of grounds for arrest to individuals as mandated by law.

Bailable and Non-Bailable Offences in India

Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st May 2024) Part - 2 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

Way Forward

  • Clear Definition of Proceeds of Crime: A precise definition would prevent misinterpretation and specify the types of crimes involved.
  • Revising Burden of Proof: Balancing the burden of proof between prosecution and defense can ensure a fair legal process.
  • Independent Oversight: Establishing oversight bodies can prevent law enforcement overreach.
  • International Cooperation: Collaborating internationally is vital due to money laundering's global nature.
  • Technological Advances: Leveraging technology can enhance the effectiveness of PMLA enforcement.

Issue of Solid Waste Management

Context:

  • Recently, the Supreme Court's criticism of solid waste management in New Delhi highlights a critical issue. Over 3,800 tonnes of untreated waste in the national capital pose threats to public health and the environment as it accumulates in landfills.

Issues with India's Solid Waste Management

About:

  • Solid Waste includes various types like solid or semi-solid household waste, sanitary waste, commercial waste, institutional waste, catering and market waste, and non-residential wastes.
  • It encompasses street sweepings, horticulture waste, agriculture and dairy waste, treated biomedical waste, battery, and radioactive waste.
  • India, with 18% of the world's population, generates 12% of global municipal waste, producing 62 million tonnes of waste annually, with 70% collected, 12 million tonnes treated, and 31 million tonnes dumped in landfills.
  • Due to shifting consumption patterns, urban municipal solid waste generation is projected to reach 165 million tonnes by 2030.

Issues

Poor Implementation of Rules:

  • Metro cities face littered garbage bins, lack of waste segregation at the source, and irregular waste collection services, violating Solid Waste Management Rules 2016.

Problem of Dumping Sites:

  • Waste processing plants in metro cities struggle with land scarcity, leading to untreated waste, exacerbated by illegal dumping and lack of coordination.

Lack of Data Collection Mechanism:

  • The absence of historical data hinders private entities from assessing costs and benefits in waste management projects.

Formal and Informal Waste Management System:

  • Informal waste pickers fill gaps in low-income communities, facing health risks and lack of public awareness.

Solid Waste Management Rules 2016

Key Features:

  • Introduction of waste segregation at source into three streams: Wet, Dry, and Domestic hazardous wastes.
  • Implementation of User Fee and Spot Fine for waste generators.
  • Mandate for processing bio-degradable waste on-site and financial assistance from manufacturers for waste management systems.

Way Forward

Role of Municipalities:

  • Cities must enhance waste processing capacities, focus on composting and biogas generation, and involve stakeholders in facility operations.

Waste-to-Energy Justification:

  • Refuse-derived fuel can be used for power generation in waste-to-energy projects.

Decentralised Waste Processing:

  • Collaboration with neighboring states to establish composting facilities and setting up Micro-Composting Centres and Dry Waste Collection Centres.

Integrated Approach:

  • Combining decentralized options with large-scale processing facilities to ensure comprehensive waste treatment.

Disenfranchisement of Undertrials in India

Context:

  • During the ongoing 18th Lok Sabha elections, a significant issue has arisen concerning the inability of over four lakh undertrials in prisons across India to exercise their voting rights due to a comprehensive legal restriction.

Why are Undertrials Barred from Voting?

  • According to Section 62(5) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, individuals under imprisonment, transportation sentences, or police custody are not permitted to vote in any election.
  • Despite the voting prohibition, individuals on the electoral roll retain their status as electors.
  • Exceptions to this restriction are made for individuals under preventive detention according to current laws.

Legal Framework and Historical Context

  • The Representation of the People Act, 1951, establishes regulations regarding voting rights, distinguishing between statutory and constitutional rights.
  • Article 326 of the Indian Constitution guarantees adult suffrage, outlining criteria for voting eligibility.
  • Prisoner disenfranchisement has historical roots dating back to the English Forfeiture Act of 1870 and the Government of India Act of 1935.

Should Undertrials Have the Right to Vote?

  • Arguments in Favor of Allowing Undertrials to Vote:
  • Presumption of innocence: Denying voting rights to undertrials before conviction may contradict the principle of innocence until proven guilty.
  • Representation and political participation: Allowing undertrials to vote ensures their interests are represented in the political sphere.
  • Arguments Against Allowing Undertrials to Vote:
  • Public safety concerns: Allowing undertrials to vote could raise issues of voter intimidation and electoral interference.
  • Logistical challenges: Ensuring voting rights for undertrials in prison environments may pose administrative difficulties for election authorities.

Debates and Solutions

  • Debates persist regarding the disenfranchisement of undertrials, balancing the presumption of innocence with public safety concerns.
  • As electoral systems evolve, considerations for alternative voting methods for incarcerated individuals, such as mobile voting units, are being discussed.
  • Recommendations include differentiating between convicts and undertrials in terms of electoral rights and exploring the inclusion of the duty to vote as a Fundamental Duty in the Indian Constitution.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st May 2024) Part - 2
Try yourself:
What does the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) restrict?
View Solution


19th Session of United Nations Forum on Forest

Context:

  • India took part in the 19th Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) at the UN Headquarters in New York.
  • India highlighted advancements in forest conservation, leading to increased forest cover over the past fifteen years.

Key Takeaways from UNFF19:

  • India's revised National Forest Policy emphasizes forest fire prevention and management.
  • Approximately 100 million hectares of forest, about 3% of the world's total forest area, are affected by fires annually according to UNFF.
  • India proposed the operationalization of the Global Fire Management Hub to mitigate forest fires.
  • India suggests the adoption of universally accepted standards, like the Model Forests Act, for forest certification programs globally.
  • The forum reviewed the UN's strategic plan for forests (2017-2030) and progress towards global forest goals.
  • A UN report expressed concerns about the commercialization of forests for carbon sequestration, potentially diminishing their ecological and social values.
  • Initiatives by Indonesia and Malaysia were also highlighted.

India's Highlighted Initiatives in Forest Management at UNFF19:

  • India showcased success in using technology for forest fire management.
  • Technological methods include real-time fire monitoring, online reporting, and ecological restoration.
  • India ranks third globally in net gain of average annual forest area between 2010 and 2020.
  • India celebrated milestones in Project Tiger and Project Elephant, focusing on species conservation.
  • The 'Green Credit Program' was introduced to promote tree plantation and forest restoration for climate action.
  • India hosted a country-led Initiative under UNFF in 2023, emphasizing forest fire management and certification.

Key Facts About the Indian Forest Policy:

  • The National Forest Policy has evolved over the years, from timber production in 1894 to ecological security in 1988.
  • Each policy iteration addressed changing national priorities and environmental concerns.
  • The 2018 draft policy focuses on modern challenges like climate change and public-private partnerships for forest restoration.

Conclusion:

  • India's participation in UNFF19 highlighted its achievements in forest conservation and sustainable management.
  • India proposed a comprehensive national forest policy and called for international collaboration through knowledge sharing.
  • UNFF19 made significant progress towards global forest goals despite ongoing discussions on the High-Level Declaration.

Police as the Last Resort in Marital Dispute

Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st May 2024) Part - 2 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

Context

  • The Supreme Court recently emphasized that involving the police should be the final step for families experiencing marital issues.
  • The court's advice follows a case where a husband challenged criminal proceedings against him, indicating a cautionary approach towards police intervention.

Key Observations by the Supreme Court

  • The Supreme Court suggests involving the police only in genuinely severe cases of abuse and harassment within marriages.
  • It warns against the mechanical application of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, emphasizing the need for substantial evidence in domestic violence cases.
  • The court also highlights the detrimental effects of divorce on children, especially when initiated hastily due to legal proceedings.

Alternative Methods for Resolving Marital Disputes

  • Various mechanisms like Mediation, Conciliation, and Arbitration under Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provide efficient ways to resolve marital conflicts.
  • Family Courts, Gram Nyayalayas, and legal frameworks like the Code of Civil Procedure and the Hindu Marriage Act support reconciliation in family disputes.

Recommendations for the Future

  • Parliament should review certain sections of the law to prevent misuse and promote reconciliation before legal actions in matrimonial disputes.
  • Strengthening ADR mechanisms, regulating uncontrolled bodies like Khap Panchayats, and enhancing public awareness about legal rights are crucial steps for peaceful dispute resolution.
  • Accessible mental health services should be readily available for couples facing marital discord to promote effective communication and conflict resolution skills.

Conclusion

  • The Supreme Court's approach underscores the importance of prioritizing reconciliation and tolerance over immediate legal actions in marital disputes, aiming to protect the interests of all parties involved. 

The document Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st May 2024) Part - 2 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly.
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FAQs on Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st May 2024) Part - 2 - Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

1. What are neglected tropical diseases and why are they a global concern?
Ans. Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of infectious diseases that primarily affect populations in tropical and subtropical regions. These diseases often disproportionately impact marginalized communities with limited access to healthcare and resources. They are considered a global concern because they can cause significant morbidity and mortality, leading to economic and social burdens in affected regions.
2. What is the significance of the World Wildlife Crime Report 2024?
Ans. The World Wildlife Crime Report 2024 provides a comprehensive overview of the current status of wildlife crime globally. It highlights the various illegal activities threatening wildlife populations, such as poaching, trafficking, and habitat destruction. The report also sheds light on the need for increased conservation efforts and enforcement measures to combat wildlife crime effectively.
3. How does the recent SC ruling affect the arrest powers of the Enforcement Directorate in PMLA cases?
Ans. The recent Supreme Court ruling limits the arrest powers of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in cases related to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ruling states that the ED can only arrest an individual under PMLA if there is concrete evidence of money laundering and not solely based on suspicion or allegations. This decision aims to prevent the misuse of arrest powers by the ED and protect the rights of individuals under investigation.
4. What are the key challenges in solid waste management and how can they be addressed?
Ans. Some key challenges in solid waste management include inadequate infrastructure, lack of public awareness, and improper waste disposal practices. To address these challenges, it is essential to invest in proper waste management facilities, promote recycling and composting, and educate the public on the importance of waste reduction. Implementing strict regulations and enforcement measures can also help improve solid waste management practices.
5. How does disenfranchisement of undertrials impact the democratic process in India?
Ans. Disenfranchisement of undertrials in India deprives them of their right to vote, which is essential for a functioning democracy. This exclusion undermines the principles of equality and justice, as undertrials are presumed innocent until proven guilty. By disenfranchising this group of individuals, India risks marginalizing a significant portion of its population and weakening the democratic process.
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