Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS | 26th December 2021

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1.  Parvovirus

UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: General Science | Mains – GS Paper III – Science & Technology
Sub Theme: Parvovirus | UPSC

Context-
Nearly 2,000 pet and stray dogs in Amravati city were affected by canine parvovirus virus last month with veterinarians cautioning pet owners against a severe outbreak.

What is Parvovirus?

  • It is a highly contagious viral disease that can also be life-threatening in puppies and dogs.
  • Parvovirus affects the intestinal tract of canines with puppies being more susceptible. Bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, drastic weight loss, dehydration and lethargy are some of the symptoms.
  • The virus has reported a 90 per cent mortality rate.
  • Experts have stated suspect that the recent rise in cases of Parvovirus in pets is due to the Covid-19 pandemic that compelled many pet owners to avoid timely vaccination of their dogs.

How does the virus spread in dogs? 

  • The highly contagious virus spreads through direct contact with an infected dog or by indirect contact with a contaminated object, including the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs.
  • The dogs can get exposed to the parvovirus every time it sniffs, licks, or consume infected faeces.
  • Indirect transmission occurs when a person who has recently been exposed to an infected dog touches the puppy, or when a puppy encounters a contaminated object, like food or water bowl, collars and leashes.

How to keep canines safe from infection?

  • Parvovirus has no cure and inoculating a puppy or a dog gives them a fighting chance against the infection.
  • The first dose is given at 45 days old and the second 21 days after the first dose. To properly protect canines, it is necessary to administer the vaccine to them while they are puppies and then continue to do the same every year.

2.  KERALA’S SILVERLINE PROJECT

UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Current Affairs
Sub Theme: KERALA’S SILVERLINE PROJECT | UPSC

Context- Protests are taking place across Kerala against SilverLine, a semi high-speed railway project that envisages trains running at 200 km/h between the state’s northern and southern ends. The project, estimated to cost Rs 63,940 crore, is billed as one of the biggest infrastructure plans.

What is the SilverLine project?

  • The proposed 529.45-km line will link Thiruvananthapuram in the south to Kasaragod in the north.
  • When the project is completed, one can travel from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram in less than four hours at 200 km/hr (It now takes 12 hours.)
  • The deadline for the project, being executed by the Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL), is 2025.
  • KRDCL, or K-Rail, is a joint venture between the Kerala government and the Union Ministry of Railways created to execute big railway projects.

Expected Benefits:

  • Meeting the growing demand
  • Reducing the travelling time
  • Reducing the congestion and related accidents on roads.
  • Reducing the green-house gas emissions.
  • Integrating airports and IT corridors.
  • Expanding Ro-Ro services.
    Producing employments.

Why are there protests against the project?

  • Financial implications- Opposition MPs from the state said the project was an “astronomical scam in the making” and would sink the state further into debt.
  • Large scale displacement- It would lead to displacement of over 30,000 families.
  • Environmental loss- The Samiti and green activists allege that SilverLine would cause great environmental harm as its route cuts through precious wetlands, paddy fields and hills. The building of embankments on either side of the major portion of the line will block natural drainage and cause floods during heavy rains.
  • E Sreedharan, (former Delhi Metro head) termed the project “ill-conceived” and defectively planned. He said the present proposal needs a lot of correction including its basic track width.

 

3.  After 50 years, Gharial alive in Beas river

UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Environment & Biodiversity
Sub Theme: Gharials in India| UPSC

Context-State’s wildlife preservation wing is now keeping its fingers crossed, expecting the breeding of the crocodilians to start in the new few years as the released gharials are healthy and have adapted to the Beas Conservation Reserve as their home

Key Facts:

  • Natural Habitat: Fresh waters of the northern part of India.
  • Gharials, sometimes called gavials, are a type of Asian crocodilian distinguished by their long, thin snouts which resembles a pot (ghara in Hindi).
  • Population of Gharials are a good indicator of clean river water.
  • Gharials are a type of Crocodilians that also includes crocodiles, alligators, caimans, etc. India has three species of Crocodilians namely:
    • Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus): International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)- Critically Endangered.
    • Mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris): IUCN- Vulnerable
    • Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus): IUCN- Least Concern
  • In comparison to Crocodiles, Gharials are very shy and unharmful species.
  • Primary Habitat: Chambal river
  • The National Chambal Sanctuary is located along river Chambal on the tri-junction of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. It is known for critically endangered gharials, the red-crowned roof turtle, and the endangered Ganges river dolphin.
  • Secondary Habitat: Ghaghra and Gandak river, Girwa river (Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh), the Ramganga river in Jim Corbett National Park and the Son river.
  • Listed under Schedule I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Listed on Appendix I of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Threats:

  • Gharials prefer sandbanks as suitable habitats. Wild animals as well as humans often destroy their eggs.
  • Increased river pollution, dam construction, massive-scale fishing operations and floods.
  • Illegal sand mining and poaching.

 

4.  Inescapable risk of iron fortification

UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Science & Technology
Sub Theme: Iron Fortification UPSC

Food fortification is defined as the practice of adding vitamins and minerals to commonly consumed foods during processing to increase their nutritional value. It is a proven, safe and cost-effective strategy for improving diets and for the prevention and control of micronutrient deficiencies
Need of iron fortification

  • Transports oxygen throughout the body in the haemoglobin of red blood cells so that cells can make energy.
  • Aids in the removal of carbon dioxide.
  • Required for brain development and growth in babies. Anemia is caused by iron deficiency, which impairs cognitive development and intellectual function, as well as pregnancy outcomes.
  • According to the NFHS-5 report, anaemia has grown from 58.6 to 67 percent in children under the age of five.

Measures taken to promote iron fortification

  • In 2013, the Ministry of Health established the “National Iron Plus Initiative.” Supplementation with iron and folic acid, as well as deworming, were used to boost haemoglobin levels.
  • The National Nutritional Anemia Control Program promotes regular intake of iron-rich foods, as well as the provision of iron and folate pills and therapy, in order to reduce the occurrence of anaemia.
  • Anemia Mukt Bharat (AMB) is a campaign aimed at minimising anaemia in pregnant women (from 50 percent in 2016 to 32 percent by 2022). Six age groups, six interventions, and six institutional processes are all part of AMB’s 6x6x6 plan for eliminating anaemia.
  • The Indian government is planning to implement a policy requiring rice to be fortified with iron and given via programmes such as Integrated Child Development Services and mid-day meal plans.

Risks associated

  • Non-communicable disease risk– Iron raises the risk of a variety of non-communicable illnesses, including diabetes, hypertension, and high blood cholesterol. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, those with a high ferritin level are four times more likely to develop diabetes.
  • Our children already have a high risk of chronic illness, and obligatory grain fortification would just increase that risk.
  • Oxidative stress is caused by iron, which raises the risk of cancer.
  • Choices are taken away- When mandated fortification is imposed in segments of the population, it takes away their freedom to eat what they choose.
  • A recent Lancet research recommended a lower haemoglobin cut-off level for diagnosing anaemia in Indian children, which would decrease the anaemia burden by two-thirds.
  • The iron-anemia link was discovered in the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey of Indian children, which revealed that iron deficiency was linked to fewer than half of the instances of anaemia.
  • The iron density of an Indian vegetarian diet is about 9 mg/1000 kcal, which is sufficient for most needs.
  • No behavioural modification- Food fortification is appealing since it does not need the recipient to change their behaviour.

Conclusion

  • Dietary modification should be the first line of defence.
  • We just need to improve our absorption of current dietary iron and supplement it with all of the other nutrients we need by eating a varied diet (with fruits and vegetables).
  • With the ever-expanding health-care infrastructure, we must advance toward fairness for everyone in precision treatment, determining the source of anaemia and prescribing appropriate medication.
  • To get to the genuine anaemia burden, we should wait for the next WHO haemoglobin cut-offs and exclusively use gold-standard venous blood haemoglobin in future polls.
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