India to export sugar to China
GS Prelims and Mains II and III – International Relations; Bilateral ties; Economy
- India to export sugar to China in early 2019 à major boost to sugar mills sitting on surplus stocks. (Initial contract is to dispatch 50,000 tonnes)
- India is also engaged in talks to finalise exports to Indonesia and Malaysia as well.
- Raw sugar is the second product after non-basmati rice that China will import from India.
- It is a move to reduce the $60 billion trade deficit that China has with India. India’s exports to China in 2017-18 amounted to $33 billion while imports from China stood at $76.2 billion.
- India is the world’s largest sugar producer with a production of 32 million tonnes in 2018. However, domestic consumption is only around 25 million tonnes.
Indian Army inducts its artillery gun systems
GS Prelims and Mains III – Defence; Technology
Indian Army inducts its first artillery gun systems in three decades.
- M777 Ultra Light Howitzers : : from the U.S.
- K9 Vajra-T self-propelled artillery gun : : from South Korea
- The Army last inducted an artillery gun system — the Bofors guns procured from Sweden — in the early 1980s. Attempts to buy new guns did not make progress.
- India signed a $737-million deal with the U.S. in November 2016 under the Foreign Military Sales Programme for 145 M777 Ultra Light Howitzers. (The first 25 guns will be imported and the rest will be assembled in India in partnership with Mahindra Group.)
- The M777 is a 155-mm, 39-calibre towed artillery gun. It weighs just four tonnes, making it transportable underslung from helicopters.
- The K9 Vajra-T is a 155-mm, 52-calibre self-propelled gun with a maximum range of 40 km. (The first 10 guns will be imported from South Korea and the rest will be made by L&T in India.)
The Army’s Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan, 1999, envisages induction of 3,000 guns of various types for 220 artillery regiments.
- Concept of Double Jeopardy: Article 20 (2) of the Constitution mandates that a person cannot be prosecuted or punished twice for the same offence.
- India continues to have the highest burden of pneumonia and diarrhoea child deaths in the world (according to ‘Pneumonia and Diarrhoea Progress Report’ released by the International Vaccine Access Centre and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). Globally, pneumonia and diarrhoea led to nearly one of every four deaths in children under five years of age in 2016.
- 10 key interventions to help protect against, prevent, and treat, pneumonia and diarrhea – breastfeeding, vaccination, access to care, use of antibiotics, oral rehydration solution (ORS) and zinc supplementation.
- United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal target – reduce under-five mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births by 2030.
TOPIC: General studies 2 and 3
- Women and related issues: female foeticide
- Equality, right to education
- Inclusive growth, regional disparity
Fissures amidst growth: Female foeticide
- India is now among the fastest-growing large economies of the world with 7 per cent real GDP growth during October-December 2017; followed by 7.7 per cent in January-March 2018 and then 8 per cent in April to June 2018.
- Unless stung by some serious shocks, India should achieve an annual growth rate of around 7.5 per cent over the next few years.
- The issue is not inadequate growth. Far more worrisome are some serious fractures that have emerged and show no signs of healing. Four such are: Female foeticide and infanticide; Failure of education; Rising inequalities; and Huge economic differences between regions of the country.
Female foeticide and infanticide:
- Demographers agree that the “natural” sex ratio at birth for the world is 935 girls per 1,000 boys. Given the poor state of birth registrations in many parts of India, we use the sex ratio of girls per 1,000 boys between ages zero to six.
- At 918 girls per 1,000 boys in 2011, India’s 0-6 sex ratio is among the poorest in the world.
- With an outrageously low sex ratio of 834 girls per 1,000 boys, Haryana is the vilest state, with every district faring poorer than the poor all-India average.
- In 2011, the 0-6 sex ratio in Punjab was 846, or 7.8 per cent below the all-India average, twenty-eight of the 33 districts of Rajasthan were worse than India, as were 47 of the 71 districts of Uttar Pradesh (UP).
- In 17 of the 26 districts of Gujarat, the 0-6 sex ratios were poorer than India’s. Surat, one of the country’s richest districts, had a ratio of 835 girls per 1,000 boys, ranking among the bottom 25.
- Ahmedabad had 857 girls per 1,000 boys, or 7 per cent lower than all-India. In Gandhinagar, the capital, the ratio was 847, or 45th from the bottom.
- In Maharashtra, for 22 of 35 census districts, the ratio was poorer than India’s.
- Simply put, much of north India, western UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and the northern part of Madhya Pradesh rampantly engage in ultrasonography to detect and then illegally abort female foetuses.
- Despite tough laws against sex-determination and female foeticide, there is no police action to speak of. For instance, during 2001-2015, Haryana registered only 139 police cases — in a state which is unparalleled in this crime.
Failure of education:
- In a rapidly digitising world, India is wholly unequipped to supply quality education.
- According to the 2011 Census, 14 per cent of men aged 25-34 years hadn’t studied beyond class 10, 11.5 per cent hadn’t progressed beyond Class 12 and only 14.6 per cent were graduates.
- For women, these numbers were poorer: 10 per cent stopped studying after class 10, 8 per cent after class 12 and just 11 per cent were graduates.
- According to the Annual Status of Education Report for 2017, 25 per cent of rural students of 14-18 years could not read basic text fluently in their own language.
- Over 50 per cent struggled with dividing three-digits by one-digit and 60 per cent couldn’t calculate the length of a key if placed away from the “0” mark on the ruler.
- These are going to be the sentinels, the demographic dividend, of our globalised knowledge economy.
Rise in inequalities:
- Though there are over 240 million desperately poor people in the country, poverty has clearly reduced in both rural and urban India. Not so inequalities.
- The Gini coefficient, which ranges from 0 and 1, is an indicator of inequality with a higher Gini implying greater inequality.
- Based on household consumption expenditure, Gini coefficient is calculated.
- In 1993-94, the Gini coefficient for India as a whole was 0.301. By 2011-12, it had risen to 0.359.
- Urban India has shown greater increases in inequality. The urban Gini for 1993-94 was 0.319, which increased to 0.377 in 2011-12.
- We still don’t have frighteningly large inequalities in consumption expenditure or income, such as in Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, South Africa and Pakistan. Wealth inequalities are becoming obviously large.
Huge economic differences between regions of the country
- The 2001 and 2011 censuses lists household ownership and access to some basic assets and amenities.
- These are: Pucca house, electricity, latrine, separate bathroom, bank account, television, phone, two-wheeler and LPG connection.
- Based on these, one can construct a ranking of each district of India, from the “richest” to the “poorest”.
- The north (Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Western UP), the irrigated parts of Rajasthan, most of Gujarat, parts of Maharashtra, Goa, parts of Karnataka, most of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, all of Kerala and much of Tamil Nadu do well.
- The districts that fare poorly cover most of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, central and eastern Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, parts of West Bengal, lower Assam, parts of upper North East and the tribal belts of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
- If you drew a longitude somewhere between Allahabad and Varanasi you could say this: West of the line is the zone of relative prosperity; east of it lie the districts of absolute and relative misery.
In a milieu of impressive growth, India has developed some serious fractures that show no signs of cure. If these fractures are cured, India’s growth will translate in true sense of development.
Connecting the dots:
- Growth rate of India is on positive trajectory, but to develop in true sense some fractures needs to be cured. Such as Female foeticide and infanticide, Failure of education, Rising inequalities; and Huge economic differences between regions of the country. Critically comment.
TOPIC: General studies 2 and 3
- Public Health issues
- Science and technology: medical research
Zika Virus: Cause to remain alert
- Rise in Zika virus infections in Jaipur was recently in news.
- The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recently announced that the Zika virus strains causing the outbreak in Jaipur, Rajasthan, cannot cause microcephaly.
- But there are concerns, because this announcement is based on an study on mouse. It is better to take precautions to avoid complications.
Zika virus epidemic
- Over the last few years, the international community has banded together to quickly address a growing international public health crisis — the Zika virus epidemic.
- After its detection in Brazil during 2015, observant clinicians began to notice a striking increase in the rates of babies born with microcephaly, a rare neurological condition characterised by underdeveloped brains and undersized heads.
- Epidemiological, clinical, and experimental data has indicated that microcephaly, and a range of other birth defects (such as miscarriages and ocular disease) could be caused by the Zika virus passing from a pregnant women to her foetus.
Zika Virus in India
- The ICMR recently announced that the Zika virus strains causing the outbreak in Jaipur, Rajasthan, cannot cause microcephaly.
- This conclusion was based on a genetic sequencing of viruses isolated from the outbreak.
- In these sequences, the ICMR did not find a Zika virus mutation linked to microcephaly that was suggested in a Science magazine study, in 2017.
- The problem with this conclusion is that the research was based on infection in mouse brains — not humans — and contains no epidemiological or clinical support.
- Numerous other studies suggest that all Zika virus strains may have the capacity to infect foetuses and cause neurological disease.
- More research is needed to determine if some strains are associated with a higher risk.
- It is also difficult to determine how extensive Zika virus outbreaks will be in India.
- If the Zika virus has been silently spreading in the country, as it did throughout most of Asia for the last 50 years, then enough people may be immune to the virus to prevent large outbreaks.
- According to the most recent updates, 159 people in Jaipur had confirmed Zika virus infections.
- Considering that most infections do not cause noticeable disease, and thus most infected individuals do not seek medical attention, the true number of cases may be more than 10,000.
- At least 50 of the infected individuals are pregnant women, but again, the true number is likely to be much higher.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S., only 5-10% of Zika virus infections during pregnancies lead to Zika-associated birth defects, and the rates of microcephaly are much lower.
- So, while the chances for the Zika virus to cause harm to an individual baby are low, there is still a chance, regardless of the Zika virus strain in circulation.
- Despite the recent announcement suggesting that the Jaipur Zika virus strains cannot cause foetal microcephaly, all possible measures to control transmission and monitor pregnancies should be taken.
- Pregnant women and their families, including those planning to get pregnant, should take great caution to avoid mosquitoes — wear long sleeves and trousers, stay indoors when possible, use insect repellent, and remove standing water that mosquitoes use for breeding.
- Zika virus infection is not guaranteed upon mosquito bite, but the chances for infection rise with each new bite.
- Zika-associated birth defects could be a serious public health crisis in India, and, without a vaccine, all possible measures to control transmission and monitor pregnancies should be taken.