Daily PT Capsule May 25

Daily PT Capsule UPSC Civil Services
Daily PT Capsule UPSC Civil Services

Here is the digest of important newspaper articles and quiz!

HC says terminally ill persons cannot be denied insurance

The Punjab and Haryana High court has ruled in a landmark judgement that the family of a terminally ill person cannot be denied insurance if the person refuses treatment and dies.

The court said the patient’s desire not be treated was an issue of “patient autonomy” and “embracing dignity in death”. The bench also said that whether the patient shall be allowed to die by withdrawal of life support is quite different from a patient expressing desire not to be treated. In the former, we are broaching issue of passive euthanasia and in the latter, it is an issue of patient autonomy.


What are active and passive euthanasia? – Active euthanasia occurs when the medical professionals, or another person, deliberately do something that causes the patient to die.

Passive euthanasia occurs when the patient dies because the medical professionals either don’t do something necessary to keep the patient alive, or when they stop doing something that is keeping the patient alive.

  • switch off life-support machines
  • disconnect a feeding tube
  • don’t carry out a life-extending operation
  • don’t give life-extending drugs

What is legality of euthanasia in India? – Passive euthanasia is legal in India.On 7 March 2011 the Supreme Court of India legalised passive euthanasia by means of the withdrawal of life support to patients in a permanent vegetative state. The decision was made as part of the verdict in a case involving Aruna Shanbaug, who had been in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) until her death in 2015.

Source: BBC, TheHindu

Potassium Bromate in bread samples

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has tested bread samples in Delhi and found potassium bromate, a cancer causing chemical. Breads of top brands were tested and the results showed that nearly 84 per cent of 38 commonly available brands of pre-packaged breads, including pav and buns, had the presence of potassium bromate and potassium iodate, banned in many countries and listed as “hazardous” for public health.

While one of the chemicals is a category 2B carcinogen (possibly carcinogenic to humans), the other could trigger thyroid disorders but India has not banned their use.

The Health Minister has directed the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to take-up the matter and submit a detailed report at the earliest.

The FSSAI has maintained that it has recommended removal of potassium bromate from the list of permissible food additives to the Health Ministry.


What is FSSAI and its mandate? – The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been established under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which consolidates various acts & orders that have hitherto handled food related issues in various Ministries and Departments.

FSSAI has been created for laying down science based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.

Source: TheHindu


Air pollution levels up by 8%

In a meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi it was noted that air pollution has increased by 8 per cent and progress and policies on air quality fall short of what is needed to save millions of lives each year.

The UNEA report “Actions on Air Quality”, said the declining air quality across the globe was threatening to add to the seven million air pollution deaths across the world in what was described as a ‘’global public health emergency.”

India figured high in countries with stringent norms for air quality but lacking ground implementation. While India was ranked among countries where major investments have been made in public transport in the last 5 years, it also figures among nations with neither low sulphur fuels (50 ppm) nor advanced vehicle emission standards, highlighting the dichotomy between intent and ground action.

Also burning of both agricultural and municipal wastes is not regulated and commonly practiced.

The cost of reducing air pollution in 2010 for India was pegged at $0.5 trillion and $1.4 trillion for China. However, on an optimistic note, the report said there have been improvements in access to cleaner cooking fuels and efforts point to a growing momentum for change.


What is the United Nations Environment Assembly? – UNEA  represents the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment enjoys the universal membership of all 193 UN Member States and the full involvement of major groups and stakeholders. With this wide reach into the legislative, financial and development arenas, UNEA provides a groundbreaking platform for leadership on global environmental policy.

For many, the creation of UNEA represents the coming of age of the environment. Since UNEP’s inception in 1972, the environment has moved from the margins to the centre of the world’s sustainable development agenda. This transition was affirmed at the historic United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012, when world leaders called for UNEP to be strengthened and upgraded. The result was a new governing body, UNEA, which – for the first time – gives the environment the same level of global prominence as issues such as peace, poverty, health, security, finance and trade.

The first session of UNEA, which was held in June 2014, tackled major issues such as the illegal trade in wildlife, air quality, environmental rule of law, financing the Green Economy, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The UNEA is meeting for its second session in Nairobi under the overarching theme of Delivering on the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Source:TheHindu, UNEP.org


ISRO to test air breathing propulsion system

ISRO is planning to test an air-breathing propulsion system, which aims to capitalise on the oxygen in the atmosphere instead of liquefied oxygen while in flight.

Until now liquefied oxygen was carried by rockets along with the fuel. For future missions that could involve reusable launch vehicle atmospheric oxygen could be utilised upto 50kms from the earth’s surface.

It would help in reducing lift off mass of the vehicle since liquefied oxygen weight would be reduced. This would also help increasing the efficiency of the rocket and also make it cost-effective. The new propulsion system, once mastered, would complement ISRO’s aim to develop a reusable launch vehicle, which would have longer flight duration. The system, involving the scramjet engine, would become crucial while sending up the spacecraft.


What are common types of rocket propellants? – Rocket propellant is a material used by a rocket as, or to produce in a chemical reaction, the reaction mass (propulsive mass) that is ejected, typically with very high speed, from a rocket engine to produce thrust, and thus provide spacecraft propulsion.

1) Solid Propellants – Solid propellants are either “composites” composed mostly of large, distinct macroscopic particles or single-, double-, or triple-bases (depending on the number of primary ingredients), which are homogeneous mixtures of one or more primary ingredients.

Solid propellant rockets are much easier to store and handle than liquid propellant rockets. Relative to liquid fuel rockets, solid fuel rockets have lower specific impulse, a measure of propellant efficiency.

2) Liquid Propellants – Liquid-fueled rockets have higher specific impulse than solid rockets and are capable of being throttled, shut down, and restarted. Only the combustion chamber of a liquid-fueled rocket needs to withstand high combustion pressures and temperatures and they can be regeneratively cooled by the liquid propellant.

The primary performance advantage of liquid propellants is due to the oxidizer. Several practical liquid oxidizers (liquid oxygen, nitrogen tetroxide, and hydrogen peroxide) are available which have better specific impulse than the ammonium perchlorate used in most solid rockets, when paired with comparable fuels.

The main difficulties with liquid propellants are also with the oxidizers. These are generally at least moderately difficult to store and handle due to their high reactivity with common materials.

3) Gas Propellants – A gas propellant usually involves some sort of compressed gas. However, due to the low density of the gas and high weight of the pressure vessel required to contain it, gases see little current use, but are sometimes used for vernier engines, particularly with inert propellants like nitrogen.

A cryogenic rocket engine is a rocket engine that uses a cryogenic fuel or oxidizer, that is, its fuel or oxidizer (or both) are gases liquefied and stored at very low temperatures. Cryogenic engine has greater lift.

Source: TheHindu, Wikipedia


IOR countries to boost cooperation on SEZs

The Indian Ocean Rim countries  have decided to evolve a regional mechanism for cooperation on Special Economic Zones (SEZ) – or duty-free enclaves with tax holidays — to boost exports. A meeting of the SEZ authorities from IOR countries including India was held in Chabahar, Iran.

Owing to their strategic locations and access to major waterways, these zones have formed a “virtual network of trade connections” spanning continents including Asia, Australia and Africa.

Participants at the Chabahar meet also considered a proposal to form a “joint FTZ” among the IOR Association (IORA) member countries since most of these FTZs are situated or are being built in coastal regions. The meeting also assumes importance given that India has signed a pact with Iran to develop the Chabahar port, and agreed to provide $500 million for the purpose.


What is the IORA? – The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), formerly known as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative and Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), is an international organisation consisting of coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean.

The IORA is a regional forum, tripartite in nature, bringing together representatives of Government, Business and Academia, for promoting co-operation and closer interaction among them. It is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperation particularly on Trade Facilitation and Investment, Promotion as well as Social Development of the region.

The organisation was first established as Indian Ocean Rim Initiative in Mauritius on March 1995 and formally launched on 6–7 March 1997 by the conclusion of a multilateral treaty known as the Charter of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation.

Source: TheHindu, Wikipedia

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