IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


4th July, 2020


During the pandemic, strides made over the last year in dealing with single-use plastic have suffered a setback

Rise in Plastics consumption:

- Hyper-hygienic way of life has become the increased dependence on non-recyclable items such as plastic-lined masks, gloves, hand sanitizer bottles and other personal protective equipment.

- There has also been a steep increase in day-to-day items such as plastic bags and delivery packaging.

-  Today, the WHO estimates that the planet is using about 89 million masks and 16 million gloves each month.

Plastic Pollution and challenges of pandemic:

- The Guardian recently reported that there are possibly more masks than jellyfish in the oceans today.

- Thailand, which had banned disposable plastic bags at major stores in January and had planned to slash plastic waste completely in 2020, now expects to see such waste rise by as much as 30 per cent.

- Starbucks has moved away from bring your own utensils campaign to fight the pandemic.

- Issue is handling of Plastic. SUP (Single Use Plastic) is difficult to dispose of.

- Plastics have an end life too. They cannot be treated more than four-five times.


Programme against Plastic waste:

- In 2018, a report by McKinsey estimated that, globally, we generate 350 million tonnes of plastic waste a year of which only 16 per cent is recycled.

- In countries such as Canada and the US, recycling of plastic is classified as essential.

- In India, we have the Plastic Waste Management Rules of 2016, which were updated and amended in 2018.

- Initiated the campaign of Plogging.

- In 2019, country led the campaign of Swachhata Hi Seva campaign.

- About 94% of plastics are recyclable. India recycles about 60%; the rest goes to landfills, the sea, and waste-to-energy plants.

Way Forward:

- One way to approach the issue is to treat it not just as an environmental problem but as an economic opportunity.

- In Uganda, they are melting plastic waste to make face shields, which are being sold for just a dollar each.

- In Singapore, start-ups are using stainless steel cups and bamboo boxes, which can be returned and reused after being washed and sanitised.

- Village communities are setting up the waste collection and segregation systems, with material recovery facilities at the block- level under phase 2 of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen).

Plastic rules 2016:

- Rural areas have been brought in ambit of these Rules since plastic has reached to rural areas also. Responsibility for implementation of the rules is given to Gram Panchayats.

- Use of plastic sheet for packaging, wrapping the commodity except those plastic sheet’s thickness, which will impair the functionality of the product are brought under the ambit of these rules.

- State Pollution Control Board (SPCBs) will not grant/renew registration of plastic bags, or multi-layered packaging unless the producer proposes the action plan endorsed by the concerned State Development Department.

- Producers to keep a record of their vendors to whom they have supplied raw materials for manufacturing carry bags, plastic sheets, and multi-layered packaging. This is to curb manufacturing of these products in unorganised sector.

- Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has been mandated to formulate the guidelines for thermoset plastic (plastic difficult to recycle). In the earlier Rules, there was no specific provision for such type of plastic.


True change is only possible when each one of us takes responsibility for the environment around us and takes necessary steps to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and, when all else fails, Remove, or dispose of plastic waste safely and effectively.

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/covid-19-plastic-pollution-environment-6489034/



ICMR looks at COVID-19 vaccine launch by August 15


- ICMR sent out a letter asking officials at 12 hospitals across the country to expedite the vaccine testing process.

- It is envisaged to launch the vaccine for public health use latest by 15th August, 2020 after completion of all clinical trials.

Challenges in trial:

- To promise delivery on a month’s timeline is overtly optimist.

- Each trial site posed its own unique challenges in sourcing patients and, therefore, it was possible for one centre to finish phase-1 and phase-2 studies but for others to lag.

- The primary aim of the phase-1 trial was to check if there were side-effects or any adverse reactions.

-  In phase-2, it would be to check if on administering the vaccine a measurable quantity of protective antibodies are produced by the immune system.

About the Vaccine:

- It is India’s first vaccine candidate for COVID-19.

- It has been developed by Bharat Biotech (Hyderabad-based vaccine makers) in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV).

- COVAXIN is an inactivated vaccine, created from a strain of the infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus that has shown promising results in preclinical studies demonstrating extensive safety and effective immune responses.

- The SARS-CoV-2 strain was isolated in NIV, Pune and transferred to Bharat Biotech.

- Now, approval has been given for the Phase I and II human clinical trials.



Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/icmr-for-covid19-vaccine-launch-byaug-15-but-clinicians-differ/article31977513.ece


India won’t import equipment from China

Government comment:

- India will not import power equipment from China, saying that the sector, being strategic and essential, was vulnerable to cyber attacks.

- Any import of equipment from prior reference countries will require prior permission of the government.

- Such permission will not be available for either China or Pakistan.

Concern of India:

- China a large suppliers of power equipment with roughly 1/3rd market with China.

- Chinese banks and financial institutions have liberally given long-term credit facilities to India’s power companies to promote the business of the country’s equipment manufacturers.

- Imports from China were worth over Rs 21,000 crores in FY19 and in excess of Rs 16,000 crores in April-December FY20.

- In the last 10 years, 22,420 MW of super-critical power plants have been commissioned and of these 12,540 MW were built on Chinese equipment.

- Imported electrical equipment industry has a share of 35% in the domestic market.

- Imports of these capital-intensive machines have been rising at a fast rate despite sufficient, if not surplus, domestic capacity and India being a serious exporter of such equipment.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-wont-import-equipment-from-china-says-union-power-minister-rk-singh/article31984313.ece#:~:text=Singh-,Union%20Power%20Minister%20R.K.,essential%2C%20was%20vulnerable%20to%20cyberattacks.&text=The%20State%20power%20distribution%20companies,with%20Chinese%20firms%20for%20equipment.


M.P. Ministry exceeds size limit: Cong.

Congress comment:

- Congress will move the court as the strength of the Council of Ministers in Madhya Pradesh exceeds the prescribed limit.

- With an Assembly strength of 206, the strength of the Council of Ministers should not have exceeded 30. The appointment of 34 Ministers, including CM.

Law for the size of ministry:

- Article 164(1): The total number of Ministers, including the Chief Minister, in the Council of Ministers in a State shall not exceed 15% of the total number of members of the Legislative Assembly of that State.

- 91st Amendment act, 2003 has brought this amendment.

- Article 72 of the Constitution prescribes that the total number of Ministers, including the Prime Minister, in the Council of Ministers shall not exceed 15 per cent of the number of members of the House of the People.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/strength-of-mp-ministry-exceeds-constitutional-limit-says-congress/article31980230.ece


Prelims Facts:


- Landlocked African country

- Largest Elephant population in the world

- Recently, 350 elephants were found dead in Okavango delta.

- Kalahari desert has some areas in Botswana.

- Okavango delta is a swampy inland delta formed where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough in the central part of the endorheic basin of the Kalahari.


Integrated Disease Surveillance Project:

- Launched in 2004.

- Objective is to strengthen/maintain decentralized laboratory based IT enabled disease surveillance system for epidemic prone diseases.

- Under IDSP, data is collected on epidemic prone diseases on weekly basis (Monday–Sunday). 

- The information is collected on three specified reporting formats, namely “S” (suspected cases), “P” (presumptive cases) and “L” (laboratory confirmed cases) filled by Health Workers, Clinicians and Laboratory staff respectively. 

- The weekly data gives information on the disease trends and seasonality of diseases.


Miyawaki technique:

- Miyawaki is a technique pioneered by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki that helps build dense, native forests.

- The approach is supposed to ensure that plant growth is 10 times faster and the resulting plantation is 30 times denser than usual.

- It involves planting dozens of native species in the same area, and becomes maintenance-free after the first three years.