Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 16 July 2023

France’s highest decoration for PM

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

French President Emmanuel Macron conferred his country’s highest honour, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Government of India described it as a “warm gesture embodying the spirit of the India-France partnership”. The honour normally recognises the contribution of the French people in the “service of the nation”. PM is on a two-day state visit to France, and was the Guest of Honour at the French National Day (Bastille Day) parade in Paris.

What is the Legion of Honour?

  • The National Order of the Legion of Honour, or simply The Legion of Honour is the highest French decoration, both civil and military, and is one of the most famous national honours in the world.
  • The Order was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, and has been presented for more than the past two centuries on behalf of the French Head of State to its most deserving citizens in all fields of activity. The motto of the Order is Honneur et Patrie, French for Honour and Fatherland.
  • The Legion of Honour, 2,200 French and 300 foreigners are decorated every year, and the Order currently has 79,000 members.

When can a foreigner be honoured with the Legion?

  • The foreigners may be decorated with the Legion of Honour “if they have rendered services (e.g. cultural or economic) to France or supported causes defended by France, such as human rightsfreedom of the press, or humanitarian action”.
  • Also, “State visits are…an occasion for conferring the Legion of Honour upon official figures, pursuant to diplomatic reciprocity and thereby supporting the foreign policy of France.”

What is the award that Prime Minister Modi has got?

  • The Legion of Honour has five degrees of increasing distinction: three ranks — Chevalier (Knight)Officier (Officer), and Commandeur (Commander) — and two titles — Grand Officier (Grand Officer) and Grand-croix (Grand Cross). T
  • he Prime Minister has been honoured with the highest French honour, akin to the Bharat Ratna in India.
  • The Legion of Honour is worn before any other French or foreign insignia, on the left-hand side.
  • With informal attire, lapel insignia (ribbon or rosette) is worn. Pendants and small-size decorations are preferred for official ceremonies.


The Gujarat law for Delhi

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The Delhi Police is likely to get more stringent powers of preventive detention, after Lieutenant Governor (L-G) V K Saxena recently approved a proposal by the Delhi Home Department to extend the Gujarat Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act, 1985 to the national capital. The move comes after the Delhi Police wrote to the L-G asking for a stricter law to deal with snatchers and drug peddlers.

What is the Gujarat PASA Act?

  • The Gujarat Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act, 1985, provides for preventive detention of “boot-leggersdangerous personsdrug offendersimmoral traffic offenders, and property grabbers for preventing their anti-social and dangerous activities prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.”
  • While it was first published in the Gujarat Government Gazette on 2 August 1985, it is deemed to have come in force on 27 May 1985.
  • In 2020amendments to the Act brought under its ambit operators of gambling dens and prostitution rackets, offenders of cow-slaughter, sexual offences and cyber crimes, those involved in usury, and repeated offenders of the Arms Act.

What are the rules for detention?

  • According to Section 3 of the Act, the state government may, if satisfied that “it is necessary to do so with a view to preventing a person from acting in any manner prejudicial to public order, make an order directing that such a person be detained”.
  • The person can be detained anywhere in Gujarat, and be removed from one place of detention to another within the state.
  • The offender must have more than one FIR filed against him at any police station within the state.
  • However, the offender can be booked under PASA only by an officer whose territorial jurisdiction he resides in.

What criticism has the Act faced?

  • The authorities have received criticism over the ‘misuse’ of the Act, especially since the criterion of multiple FIRs is often met through complaints filed years ago, for which the detainee has not been convicted. Critics and legal experts argue the Act infringes upon a person’s personal liberty.
  • Section 6 allows the government to detain an individual on multiple grounds, making separate orders for each ground.
  • Therefore, even if one of the multiple grounds is held ‘invalid’ or ‘vague’ in a Court, the detention order can sustain on the other grounds.
  • On 3 May this year, the state home department released guidelines asking officials to be “vigilant” before invoking the Act, and said those found in violation would be penalised.


State of emergency for Guillain-Barré Syndrome

GS Paper - 3 (Health and Diseases)

The Peruvian government has declared a state of national emergency for up to three months, due to a spike in the number of cases of a rare neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Back in 2019, Peru faced a similar problem following an outbreak of a bacterial infection called campylobacter.

What is Guillain-Barré Syndrome?

  • Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a rare neurological disorder where the body’s immune system — which normally protects it from infections and other foreign bodies — mistakenly attacks its own peripheral nerve cells.
  • More specifically, the myelin sheath — an insulating layer of fat and protein that surrounds the nerve cells — becomes inflamed.
  • The myelin sheath enables signals to pass through the nerve tracts at breakneck speed under normal conditions. If the sheath is inflamed, the nerves can hardly transport stimuli.
  • Simply put, a person with this syndrome will have difficulty speakingwalkingswallowingexcreting or performing other normal functions of the body. The condition can get progressively worse.
  • Thus, the peripheral nerves— the nerves that branch out from the brain and the spinal cord — get damaged as a result and the muscles can become weak or paralyzed.
  • The first symptoms include a tingling sensation in the body’s extremetiesweakness in the legs that spreads to the upper body, difficulty in facial movements, unsteady walking or inability to walk, pain and, in severe cases, paralysis.

What causes Guillain-Barré Syndrome?

  • The exact reasons for Guillain-Barré Syndrome are not yet understood. However, it often develops shortly after a person gets an infectious disease.
  • Rarely, vaccinations can cause it. Guillain-Barré Syndromeor GBS, also was linked to the cytomegalovirusEpstein Barr virusZika virus and even the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Why does this happen? Scientists say that our immune system is highly specialized to recognize foreign substances such as viruses, bacteria and fungi.
  • It produces proteins called antibodies that bind to the surface structures of pathogens while building up an immune response against them.
  • In an autoimmune disease like Guillain-Barré Syndrome, the invaders camouflage themselves with a surface that mimics the body’s own structures.
  • For example, the surface structures of the bacterium Campylobacter look very similar to the myelin sheath.

Is Guillain-Barré Syndrome curable?

  • Currently, there is no certain cure for Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The paralysis not only affects the legs and arms, but also important parts of the nervous system that regulate breathing, blood pressure and heartbeat.
  • There are also two treatments that can help recovery and reduce the severity of the disease.
  • The first is plasma exchange or plasmapheresis. The plasma or the liquid part of the blood is removed and separated from the blood cells, inducing new plasma production to make up for the loss. This treatment is aimed at removing the antibodies which are attacking the peripheral nerves.
  • The second available therapy is called immunoglobin therapy, where healthy antibodies from blood donors are injected intravenously.
  • The damaged antibodies contributing to GBS are then blocked by the high doses of the immunoglobulins. Apart from this, physical therapy might also be useful in alleviating pain.

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