Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 25 March 2023

World TB Day 2023

GS-3 (Disease)

On World TB Day 2023 (24 March), Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the One World TB Summit and announces initiatives to help the country meet the 2025 target.This year's theme: ‘Yes! We can end TB!’ also relates to India’s goal for itself.

More about the news:

  • India is setting the target of eliminating tuberculosis by 2025, five years ahead of the global target, scientists are rushing to test newer vaccines and shorter courses of treatment.

  • The government is focusing on active case finding, entrepreneurs have helped increase testing capacity, and the community at large has come forward to provide nutritional support to patients.

Data about TB cases detection each year in India:

  •   India continues to be the largest contributor to global TB cases, there has been a decline in the number of cases in 2021.
  •   According to the Global TB Report 2022India accounts for 28% of all TB cases in the world.
  •   India reporting of TB cases also improved in 2021, it didn’t reach the pre-pandemic levels, and it bounced back from the lows seen during the first year of the pandemic.
  •  The incidence of TB – new cases detected through the year – reduced by 18% in 2021 over the 2015 baseline, dropping to 210 cases per lakh population as compared to 256 cases per lakh population.
  •  The incidence of drug-resistant TB also went down by 20% during the period from 1.49 lakh cases in 2015 to 1.19 lakh cases in 2021.
  •  According to data from the government’s Ni-kshay portal, there were 21.3 lakh cases detected in 2021 as compared to 18.05 lakh cases in 2020. The numbers are still lower than the 24.04 lakh cases reported before the pandemic in 2019.
  •  A survey conducted across 20 states pegged the incidence at a higher 312 cases per lakh population.

India’s TB elimination target:

  •  The elimination of Tuberculosis is one of the sustainable development targets to be achieved by 2030 by the world; India has set the target of 2025.
  •  The national strategic plan 2017-2025 sets the target of India reporting no more than 44 new TB cases or 65 total cases per lakh   population by 2025.
  •  The estimated TB incidence for the year 2021 stood at 210 per lakh population.Achieving this target is a big task as the plan had envisaged an incidence of only 77 cases per lakh population by 2023.
  • The programme also aims to reduce the mortality to 3 deaths per lakh population by 2025. The estimated TB mortality for the year 2020 stood at 37 per lakh population.
  • The plan also aims to reduce catastrophic costs for the affected family to zero. However, the report states that 7 to 32 per cent of those with drug-sensitive TB, and 68 per cent with drug-resistant TB experienced catastrophic costs.
  • The goals are in line with the World Health Organisation’sEnd TB strategy that calls for 80% reduction in the number of new cases, 90% reduction in mortality, and zero catastrophic cost by 2030.

Efforts to achieve this target:

  • To achieve the TB elimination target of 2025, the government has taken several steps includinglooking for cases actively among vulnerable and co-morbid populations, screening for it at the health and wellness centres, and calling on the private sector to notify all TB cases.

  • An online Ni-kshay portal has been set up to track the notified TB cases.

  • The pandemic has led to improved access to the more accurate molecular diagnostic tests like CB-NAAT and TureNat that were also used to test for Covid-19.

  • The government has also implemented a universal drug susceptibility test, meaning that antibiotic susceptibility of the mycobacterium is determined for all newly diagnosed cases.

The improvements in treatment protocols:

  • The newer drugs such as Bedaquiline and Delamanid for the treatment of drug-resistant TB have been included in the government’s basket of drugs provided free TB patients.
  • These oral drugs can replace the injectable kanamycin that was associated with serious side effects like kidney problems and deafness.
  • These new drugs have also been included in the new National List of Essential Medicines that gives the government power to regulate their market price as well.

Interpol notice was withdrawn

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

After the Red Corner Notice (RCN) against fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi was withdrawn, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has appealed to the Commission for Control of Interpol’s Files (CCF) to restore it. In a statement, the agency said, “Based on new information and serious errors in the decision, CBI is taking steps for the decision of CCF to be revised.”

Why was the RCN withdrawn?

  1. Red Notice, according to the Interpol, is “a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action”.

  2. The withdrawal of the RCN against Choksi — issued by the Interpol in 2018 — means he can now travel without restrictions anywhere in the world, except in India.

  3. Choksi had appealed against the notice earlier too, but his demand was rejected in 2020.

  4. According to the CBI statement, in 2022, he approached the CCF, a separate body within Interpol that is not under the control of INTERPOL Secretariat and is mainly staffed by elected lawyers from different countries “to revise its earlier decision of 2020.” “…based on mere imaginary conjunctures and unproven surmises, a five member CCF chamber has taken a decision on deletion of Red Notice,” the CBI said.

What charges does Choksi face in India?

  1. Mehul Choksi is a key accused in the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) loan fraud case.

  2. He fled India in January 2018, days before the CBI booked him and his nephew Nirav Modi in the case.

  3. He had by then acquired the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda, and is fighting the Indian government’s efforts to bring him back to the country.

‘Guillotine’ in legislative parlance

 GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

Amidst the ongoing stalemate in Parliament, some MPs said the government may guillotine the demands for grants and pass the Finance Bill without any discussion in the Lok Sabha.

What is a guillotine?

  1. A guillotine is an apparatus designed for efficiently carrying out executions by beheading.

  2. It consists of a largeweighted blade that is raised to the top of a tall, erect frame and released to fall on the neck of a condemned person secured at the bottom of the frame, executing them in a single, clean pass. The origin of the exact device as well as the term can be found in France.

  3. The design of the guillotine was intended to make capital punishment more reliable and less painful in accordance with new Enlightenment ideas of human rights.

  4. Prior to use of the guillotine, France had inflicted manual beheading and a variety of methods of execution, many of which were more gruesome and required a high level of precision and skill to carry out successfully.

  5. The guillotine is most widely associated with the French Revolution, when it became popular with the revolutionaries meting out capital punishment to members and supporters of the Ancien Regime, including King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette.

  6. It was a method of execution in France until the country stopped capital punishment in 1981.

What does ‘guillotine’ refer to in legislative parlance?

  1. In legislative parlance, to “guillotine” means to bunch together and fast-track the passage of financial business. It is a fairly common procedural exercise in Lok Sabha during the Budget Session.

  2. After the Budget is presented, Parliament goes into recess for about three weeks, during which time the House Standing Committees examine Demands for Grants for various Ministries, and prepare reports.

  3. After Parliament reassembles, the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) draws up a schedule for discussions on the Demands for Grants.

  4. Given the limitation of time, the House cannot take up the expenditure demands of all Ministries; therefore, the BAC identifies some important Ministries for discussions.

  5. It usually lists Demands for Grants of the Ministries of Home, Defence, External Affairs, Agriculture, Rural Development and Human Resource Development. Members utilise the opportunity to discuss the policies and working of Ministries.

  6. Once the House is done with these debates, the Speaker applies the “guillotine”, and all outstanding demands for grants are put to vote at once.

  7. This usually happens on the last day earmarked for the discussion on the Budget. The intention is to ensure timely passage of the Finance Bill, marking the completion of the legislative exercise with regard to the Budget.

 SC ruling under UAPA

 GS Paper -2 (Judiciary)

The Supreme Court ruled that even a mere membership of a banned association is sufficient to constitute an offence under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967. The ruling lowers the bar for who can be charged under the stringent anti-terror law.

More about the news:

A three-judge bench headed by Justice MR Shahalso overruled three key precedents on this aspect which had distinguished between active and passive membership of an unlawful association and the crucial difference between advocacy and incitement to violence.

About ruling:

  • Itupheld the constitutional validity of Section 10(a) (i) of the UAPA, the bench said that the provision is in consonance with the fundamental right to free speech.
  • In doing so, the SC also overruled earlier judgements that had read down Section 10(a) (i).
  • Section 10(a) (i) of the UAPA reads: “Penalty for being a member of an unlawful association, etc. Where an association is declared unlawful by a notification issued under section 3 which has become effective under sub­-section (3) of that section:
  • A person, who is and continues to be a member of such association, the rest of Section 10(a) includes a person who takes part in meetings of such association; or contributes to, or receives or solicits any contri­bution for the purpose of, such association; or in any way assists the operations of such association.

Earlier judgement of the SC:

  • In 2011, a two-judge bench in ‘Arup Bhuyan v State of Assam’, had said that a person’s association with an unlawful organisation must be an active “membership” which required actual incitement to violence or the act of committing violence.

  • Several High Courts and even subsequent benches of the SC relied on the principle in the Arup Bhuyan case to hold that membership meant active membership and not just “mere membership” without any proof of incitement to violence.

  • Possession of literature or expression of sympathy to the cause without any real involvement in the crime can be counted as evidence of “membership” if the threshold is lower and does not require actual involvement.