Open Skies treaty
Context: Russia announced on Friday it was pulling out of the Open Skies treaty, saying that the pact, which allows unarmed surveillance flights over member countries, had been seriously compromised by the withdrawal of the United States.
Topic in syllabus: Prelims – International relations
What is Open Skies treaty?
· The OST aims at building confidence among members through mutual openness, thus reducing the chances of accidental war.
· Under the treaty, a member state can “spy” on any part of the host nation, with the latter’s consent.
· A country can undertake aerial imaging over the host state after giving notice 72 hours before, and sharing its exact flight path 24 hours before.
· The information gathered, such as on troop movements, military exercises and missile deployments, has to be shared with all member states.
· Only approved imaging equipment is permitted on the surveillance flights, and officials from the host state can also stay on board throughout the planned journey.
· India is not a member of this treaty.
· The OST was signed in 1992, much before the advent of advanced satellite imaging technology which is currently the preferred mode for intelligence gathering. Yet, as explains a report in The Economist, surveillance aircraft provide key information that still cannot be gathered by satellite sensors, such as thermal imaging data.
· Also, since only the US has an extensive military satellite infrastructure, other NATO members would have to rely on Washington to obtain classified satellite data, which would be more difficult to obtain compared to OST surveillance records that have to be shared with all members as a treaty obligation.
· Notably, the Economist report also mentions the OST’s utility for Washington, which since 2002 has flown 201 surveillance missions over Russia and its ally Belarus.
Kalapani boundary dispute
Context: Nepal has raised the Kalapani boundary dispute with India during the Joint Commission meeting, visiting Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said here on Friday.
Topic in syllabus: Prelims – International relations, Geography
What is Kalapani boundary dispute?
· Kalapani is a 372-sq km area at the China-Nepal-India tri-junction. India claims Kalapani as a part of Uttarakhand while Nepal depicts the area in its map.
· The border dispute flared up again recently after India released its new political map, following the reorganisation of J&K, showing the area as its own.
· According to the Sugauli treaty signed between Nepal and British India in 1816, the Mahakali river that runs through the Kalapani area is the boundary between the two countries.
· However, British surveyors subsequently showed the origin of the river, which has many tributaries, at different places.
· While Nepal claims that the river west of the disputed territory is the main river and so Kalapani falls in its territory, India claims a different origin and includes the area in its territory.
Context: Pakistan has issued special permits to Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the crown prince and five other members of their family to hunt Houbara bustard during the 2020-21 hunting season.
Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Species in news
About Houbara bustard:
· The houbara bustard, is a large bustard native to North Africa and southwestern Asia, where it lives in arid habitats. The global population is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 2014.
· It is dull brown with black markings on the wings, a greyish neck and a black ruff along the side of the neck. Males are larger and heavier than females.
· Asian houbara bustards extends from northeast Asia, across central Asia, the Middle East, and the Arabian Peninsula.
· Some Asian houbara bustards live and breed in Iran, Pakistan and Turkmenistan.
· The International Fund for Houbara Conservation is the global leader in Houbara bustard conservation. A global conservation strategy was developed and implemented over the past forty years with the objective of ensuring the species has a sustainable future in the wild through effective and appropriate conservation programmes and management plans.
Important news in
· India’s trade with China declined last year to the lowest level since 2017, with the trade deficit narrowing to a five-year low as the country imported far fewer goods from its northern neighbour.
· The U.S. government has blacklisted Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. and China’s third largest national oil company for alleged military links, heaping pressure on Beijing in President Donald Trump’s last week in office.
· Pregnant and lactating women have not been a part of any COVID19 vaccine clinical trial so far and should not receive the COVID19 vaccine at this time, cautioned the Health Ministry in its note on precautions and contraindications for the vaccines. It added that vaccine specific contraindications may apply as new information becomes available.
Examples related to Ethics (GS-4) in today’s newspaper
Source: The Indian express
Written by: K Srinath Reddy
Topic in syllabus: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health. (GS-2)
Analysis about: This editorial talks about issues of nutrition regarding COVID-19 vaccination programme.
· How long will the immunity conferred by the COVID-19 vaccine last? Will the immune response be strong in all persons who receive it? These are frequently asked questions, as vaccines are set to roll out in India.
· The answers provided, be they six months or two years, assume that the strength and duration of the vaccine response are entirely dependent on the vaccine, without taking into account the age, nutritional status or pre-existing health conditions in the person receiving the vaccine.
Nutrients and immunity:
· Studies on the immune response to several vaccines, ranging from polio and cholera to rotavirus, have revealed that deficiencies of several key nutrients adversely affect the strength of the immune response.
· Dietary protein deficiency is an obvious culprit, as antibodies are proteins too.
· Zinc and selenium are important minerals that have been shown to potentiate vaccine efficacy, apart from enhancing natural (innate) immunity.
· Vitamin E, too, has been proposed as a nutrient that enhances the immune response to a vaccine.
What are the concerns related to nutrition?
· Much of the population consume the diet which is deficient in vital nutrients needed for a robust immune response. It may have elements that stoke high levels of inflammation in the body, consuming the building blocks of immunity which could be better utilised for the adaptive response to the vaccine.
These effects are very likely if the diet has a high content of ultra-processed foods.
· The diet may also adversely affect the composition of our gut microbiome which, with its trillions of bacteria, is turning out to be an important influencer of our immunity. Studies on the immune response to several vaccines, ranging from polio and cholera to rotavirus, have revealed that deficiencies of several key nutrients adversely affect the strength of the immune response.
· We are presently offering cereals stripped of fibre and ultra-processed foods without adequate and affordable supply of pulses, millets, fruit, vegetables, nuts and fish which can provide us much needed proteins, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Even eggs are being removed from school mid-day meal menus in some states, despite their being power packed with the nutrients needed for immunity.
What is the necessity?
· What is needed is a reconsideration of policies that influence our agricultural priorities and shape our food systems. Enabling people to consume healthy diets will boost natural immunity that can fight off microbial infection and also to build a robust immune response when stimulated by a vaccine.
· The impact of climate change also needs to be considered as we examine the future of food systems and nutrition in our country.
o A study from Columbia University (Data Science Institute, 2018) estimates the impact that climate change would have on India, by 2050.
o The nutrient quality of staples would decrease, according to the study. It projects that global warming would result in 49.6 million new zinc deficient persons, 38.2 million new protein deficient persons, apart from 106.1 million children and 396 million women who would be iron deficient.
o It concludes that diversifying crop production, replacing some part of rice cultivation with millets and sorghum, would make India’s food supply more nutritious, while reducing irrigation demand, energy use and greenhouse gas emission.
o Such diversification of crops would also enhance India’s climate resilience without reducing calorie production or requiring more land These diets should also be predominantly plant-based, making them both nutritionally appropriate and ecologically sustainable.
· Ultra-processed foods should be regulated and taxed to decrease their production, promotion and consumption.
· Our protection does not lie only at the tip of a needle that injects the vaccine but even more so in the policies that determine what fills our plate when we eat.