Current Affairs September 7

Nipah virus


  • Nipah virus (NiV) is a zoonotic virus (it is transmitted from animals to humans) and can also be transmitted through contaminated food or directly between people.
  • In infected people, it causes a range of illnesses from asymptomatic (subclinical) infection to acute respiratory illness and fatal encephalitis.
  • The virus can also cause severe disease in animals such as pigs, resulting in significant economic losses for farmers.
  • Nipah virus was first recognized in 1999 during an outbreak among pig farmers in, Malaysia.
  • Fruit bats of the family Pteropodidae – particularly species belonging to the Pteropus genus – are the natural hosts for Nipah virus. There is no apparent disease in fruit bats.
  • It is assumed that the geographic distribution Pteropus bats from Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
  • Outbreaks of the Nipah virus in pigs and other domestic animals such as horses, goats, sheep, cats and dogs were first reported during the initial Malaysian outbreak in 1999.


Manda buffalo


  • The National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR) has recognised the Manda buffalo, found in the Eastern Ghats and plateau of Koraput region of Odisha, as the 19th unique breed of buffaloes found in India.
  • The Manda are resistant to parasitic infections, less prone to diseases and can thrive on modest resources.





Performing assets and NMP


  • The Government has identified “performing assets” to transfer to private entities and these are both strategic and significant.
  • These include over 26,700 kilometres of highways, 400 railway stations, 90 passenger trains, 4 hill railways, including the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
  • Moreover, existing public sector infrastructure in telecoms, power transmission and distribution and petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas pipelines are included in the “(National Monetization Pipeline” (NMP)
  • Under the NMP, the Government intends to lease or divest its rights over these assets via long-term leases against a consideration that can be upfront and/or periodic payments.
  • Thus, expected financial flows from leasing or divesting the Government’s share in these entities would be a major benefit for the central government
  • With private companies getting the sole responsibility of running all these assets, from highways and railways to all the major utilities such as power, telecom and gas, the citizens of this country would be double-taxed.
  • First, they paid taxes to create the assets, and would now pay higher user charges.
  • According to NITI Aayog, the “strategic objective of the Asset Monetisation programme is to unlock the value of investments in public sector assets by tapping private sector capital and efficiencies”



China BRI and Taliban

  • Afghanistan has a few other things that are valuable — rare-earth metals and huge deposits of copper.
  • Afghanistan is indeed vital for the BRI. Without counting on Afghanistan, the bulk of Chinese investment in the China-Pakistan corridor will be at risk.
  • Considering the heavy infrastructure investment sunk in the BRI, only many years of successful operation could repay it.
  • The Chinese successfully implemented this investment strategy, and it worked well in the context of Southeast Asia and Africa.
  • First, the cost of production being lower in Southeast Asia meant Chinese firms could gain by shifting their production bases outside China.
  • Second, investing in these regions meant access to bigger markets for Chinese firms and more uniform regional development.
  • For instance, the relatively underdeveloped Kunming region in Yunnan province became a commercial hub.
  • Third, Chinese firms could evade protectionist measures targeted at their exports when they began exporting from Southeast Asian countries instead.
  • Fourth, investing in Africa and Asia has also reduced some of China’s energy requirements, enabling Beijing to access cheaper foreign energy (oil and power) and minerals.
  • Chinese firms have also constructed hydropower plants and a thermal power station in Myanmar.
  • China has also invested in power transmission and copper processing activities in Vietnam.
  • The Chinese want to mimic the same strategies in the case of Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • According to the government of China, the development of the BRI would impact 4.4 billion people and generate trade worth $2.5 trillion within a decade.


  • The recent suicide attacks in Kabul and Gwadar are a pointer and may even indicate the resurgence of terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, Daesh, and the Islamic State
  • The dependence on opium export makes Afghanistan vulnerable to world mafias and corruption

Concurrent list and federalism

  • Parliament passed the farm laws without consulting the States.
  • The laws, essentially related to Entry 14 (agriculture clause) belonging to the State List, were purportedly passed by Parliament citing Entry 33 (trade and commerce clause) in the Concurrent List.
  • According to various decisions of the Supreme Court, beginning from the State of Bombay vs F.N. Balsara case, if an enactment falls within one of the matters assigned to the State List and reconciliation is not possible with any entry in the Concurrent or Union List after employing the doctrine of “pith and substance”, the legislative domain of the State Legislature must prevail
  • The Major Ports Authorities Act, 2021, was passed by Parliament
  • State government in Goa objected to the law, stating that it would lead to the redundancy of the local laws, including the Goa Town and Country Planning Act, the Goa Municipalities Act, the Goa Panchayat Raj Act, the Goa Land Development and Building Construction Regulations, 2010, and the Goa Land Revenue Code.
  • When it comes to non-major ports, the field for legislation is located in Entry 31 of the Concurrent List.
  • According to the Indian Ports Act, 1908, which presently governs the field related to non-major ports, the power to regulate and control the minor ports remained with the State governments.
  • However, the new draft Indian Ports Bill, 2021, proposes to change the status quo by transferring the powers related to planning, developing and regulating the non-major ports to the Maritime State Development Council (MSDC), which is overwhelmingly controlled by the Union government
  • West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have also come forward against the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
  • The field related to electricity is traceable to Entry 38 of the Concurrent List.
  • The power to regulate the sector was vested with the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs), which were ostensibly manned by individuals appointed by the State government.
  • However, the proposed amendment seeks to change the regulatory regime from head-to-toe with the establishment of a National Selection Committee, dominated by members nominated by the Union government that will make appointments to the SERCs.
  • The Union government increasingly extending its hands on subjects in the Concurrent List is a cause of grave concern as the balance of the Constitution is now turned on its head
  • The fields in the Concurrent List were to be of common interest to the Union and the States, and the power to legislate on these subjects to be shared with the Union so that there would be uniformity in law across the country
  • The Sarkaria Commission Report had specifically recommended that there should be a “coordination of policy and action in all areas of concurrent or overlapping jurisdiction through a process of mutual consultation and cooperation is, therefore, a prerequisite of smooth and harmonious working of the dual system”
  • The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC), or the Venkatachaliah Commission, had recommended that individual and collective consultation with the States should be undertaken through the Inter-State Council established under Article 263 of the Constitution.
  • As the Supreme Court itself had held in the S.R. Bommai vs Union of India case, the States are not mere appendages of the Union.
  • The Union government should ensure that the power of the States is not trampled with.




Food Emergency in Sri Lanka


  • With the government’s drastic measures against hoarding, triggering speculation over food security in Sri Lanka that is home to 21 million people.
  • Fuelling the speculation are different factors, including the country’s known reliance on imports for essentials — such as petroleum, sugar, dairy products, wheat, medical supplies — its fast-dwindling foreign reserves, from $7.5 billion in November 2019 to $2.8 billion in July 2021, and the daunting foreign debt repayment schedule in the coming years.
  • The fear of a possible food shortage also stems from the Rajapaksa administration’s decision in April to ban import of chemical fertilizers and adopting an “organic only” approach.
  • Meanwhile, many, especially daily-wage earners, and low-income families, are complaining about being unable to afford.
  • Prices of essential commodities — including rice, dhal, bread, sugar, vegetables, fish — have risen several times during the pandemic,
  • Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, using powers vested in the country’s Public Security Ordinance, declared Emergency regulations pertaining to the distribution of essential food items.
  • The regulations sought to empower authorities to provide essential food items at a “concessionary rate” to the public by purchasing stocks of essential food items,