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Indian Express Explained-07/07/2020

1) Explained: How Kerala’s ‘triple lockdown’ strategy for Thiruvananthapuram works

Central Theme- Kerala’s ‘triple lockdown’ strategy entails focused interventions by the police at three different levels to minimise the impact of the community spread, if present, or prevent it altogether.

Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram was placed under a weeklong ‘triple lockdown’ starting July 6 after several Covid-19 cases turned up without a specific origin of infection. This has led to fears of a local transmission of the virus within the city.

Triple Lock

The first lock is a general containment strategy to prevent the movement of the people all over the area. Except for one road for entry/exit, all other roads and bylanes leading to the area are shut down using barricades and police officers posted for security. Public transport is suspended. Private transport is allowed only for essential purposes.

While grocery, vegetable stores and medical shops are allowed to operate, the public are advised to remain at home and call helpline numbers for doorstep delivery of services. Government offices, religious places and educational institutions will remain shut.

The second lock is on the specific geographical areas called clusters where primary and secondary contacts of the infected persons are staying in quarantine. These are essentially containment zones where there will be intensified police presence.

The third lock involves much more focused intervention on the households of the infected persons and well as those of their primary and secondary contacts. These are persons who are at greater risk of transmitting the virus to a large number of people. While those who test positive are ferried off to hospitals, asymptomatic primary or secondary contacts are monitored strictly so that they don’t step out of home.

The ‘triple lockdown’ strategy was implemented successfully in Kasaragod district in April and helped bring down the number of active cases in the district by 94% within three weeks.

2) Disengagement process: Why Army is cautious, will verify each step on the ground before taking next

Central Theme- As the India and China start repeating the disengagement process, the Indian side is doubly cautious in its insistence on verifying every single step in detail before moving to the next step.

Even though Monday’s events constitute an important step in the disengagement process on the LAC between India and China, these will have no bearing on either the Army’s alertness levels or its preparations for long-haul deployment in the barren mountainous terrain of Ladakh.

Reasons for Cautious Approach

The foremost reason for this is the high level of mistrust between the two armies caused by multiple incidents on the border over the past nine weeks.

  • The first step in all ‘friction points’ will itself take two to three weeks, which will be followed by another round of talks between military commanders to arrive at the second step.
  • This by itself forecasts an extended deployment period which could stretch into weeks, if not months, without any hitch being encountered during the whole process.
  • The Indian side cannot afford to lower its guard at any point in time, or even contemplate any reduction in strength for this period of extended deployment.
  • Considering the quantum of troops, weaponry and equipment moved to the theatre, this will take a lot of time, again prolonging the deployment for the Army.

The second reason for Army’s cautious approach is the situation in the Pangong Tso area, on the northern bank of the saltwater lake.

  • In all the meetings till date, the Chinese side has so far not relented in its stance on Pangong, where it has constructed massive infrastructure and undertaken huge deployment eight kilometres on to the Indian side of the LAC.
  • Indians are denied the right to patrol up to Finger 8, as they have historically done, while the Chinese would have shifted the LAC westwards. This could then erupt anytime and engulf the rest of the LAC as witnessed this May.

The third reason is the creation of de facto ‘buffer zones’ as part of the disengagement process, even though they are believed to be temporary.

  • These ‘buffer zones’ are areas of no-man’s land which end up denying Indian access to certain portions of the LAC, such as PP14, PP15 and PP17A.
  • The Army would like to regain full access to these PPs at the earliest as part of its primary role of ensuring territorial integrity.
  • If the Chinese response, as and when Indian soldiers patrol up to these areas, is hostile or violent, a situation could soon emerge which warrants greater military involvement, an operational contingency it was not prepared for in the routine course.

Way Forward

The Army has to be prepared for dealing with the new realities of the disputed border, and it means a high level of alertness, different preparations, and a fresh orientation. That new reality remains unaltered by Monday’s move of the two sides to step back some distance from Galwan.

3) Explained: Could virus be airborne?

Central Theme- 239 scientists from 32 countries have written an open letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) that the virus causing Covid-19 can remain airborne for a period of time and thus transmit itself.

The scientists have “outlined the evidence showing that smaller particles can infect people, and are calling for the WHO to revise its recommendation

What does this mean?

  • According to current evidence, Covid-19 virus is primarily transmitted between people through respiratory droplets and contact routes
  • However, the letter written by the scientists suggests aerosol transmission too can happen.
  • The 239 scientists, are citing evidence that the virus can be present in droplet nuclei (less than 5 microns in diameter) that do travel distances longer than 1 meter, and can remain in the air for a longer time.

Is this a new revelation?

  • As per the WHO, airborne transmission may be possible in specific circumstances and settings.
  • These include settings in which procedures that generate aerosols are performed; endotracheal intubation; bronchoscopy; open suctioning; administration of nebulised treatment; manual ventilation before intubation; turning a patient to the prone position; disconnecting a patient from the ventilator; non-invasive positive-pressure ventilation; tracheostomy; and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

What if the claim is established?

It means that wearing a mask becomes more important than ever. It might be possible that N-95 masks, which are used by clinicians in hospital settings, could now be recommended to prevent aerosol transmission, subject to availability, and depending on the health condition of a person.

What is the evidence so far on the aerosol transmission?

One of the first studies, published in Nature, was conducted in Renmin Hospital and Wuchang Fangcang Field Hospital in Wuhan. Levels of airborne SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the most public areas was undetectable, except in two areas that were prone to crowding.

4) Explained: Why it is difficult to prosecute someone accused of match-fixing

Central Theme- Match-fixing is not an independent offence in India and there are no laws covering it.

Why in news?

On Sunday, the Mohali police arrested alleged match-fixer Ravinder Dandiwal, who has been linked to two betting scandals exposed over the last fortnight. Dandiwal has been charged with cheating under Section 420 of the IPC.

Why is he arrested for cheating rather than match-fixing?

Match-fixing is not an independent offence in India and there are no laws covering it. After every match-fixing scandal, investigators, legislators and lawyers have called for reforms, arguing that the absence of laws makes it difficult for them to incriminate someone for match-fixing.

How, then, have alleged match-fixers been punished in the past?

Those punishments were handed out by the cricket board under its anti-corruption rules and not by law enforcement (these punishments, too, were later reduced or overturned by courts). In fact, lawyers use these cases to illustrate the need to have separate, foolproof laws for match-fixing.

What is the CBI’s definition of match-fixing?

In its report on the 2000 scandal, the CBI defined match fixing as:

  • Instances where an individual player or group of players received money individually/collectively to underperform;
  • Instances where a player placed bets in matches in which he played that would naturally undermine his performance;
  • Instances where players passed on information to a betting syndicate about team composition, probable result, pitch conditions, weather, etc.;
  • Instances where grounds-men were given money to prepare a pitch in a way that suited the betting syndicates; and
  • Instances of current and ex-players being used by bookies to gain access to Indian and foreign players to influence their performances for a monetary consideration.

So, under what existing provisions are they charged?

  • Investigating authorities mostly try to book the accused for cheating under IPC Section 420.
  • In the IPL spot-fixing scandal, the Mumbai Police charged Sreesanth under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), 1999. Here, too, a Delhi court let Sreesanth off for lack of evidence.

Does the BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit have similar powers?

In an interview to The Indian Express recently, the head of BCCI’s ACU, Ajit Singh, said they are a “non-enforcement agency”. “We can request him (to come for questioning). If he comes, fine, but if he does not, there is little we can do. Also (without a law), police will be able to only question him if he has committed a crime.

Have there been attempts to make laws against match-fixing?

Yes. In 2013, the Sports Ministry drafted the Prevention of Sporting Fraud Bill, which suggested a jail term for offenders. That Bill has died a slow death.

Two Private Member’s Bills too were introduced in the Lok Sabha, one by Anurag Thakur (National Sports Ethics Commission Bill) in 2016 and the other by Shashi Tharoor — The Sports (Online Gaming and Prevention of Fraud) Bill – in 2018. Neither has been debated yet.

5) Explained Ideas: Why China’s rise could spell the end of the Asian century

Central Theme- China once used to talk about the “Asian century”. Its current focus is on building the “Chinese century”.

What does it mean?

  • The deepening conflict between India and China is bound to complicate the prospects for an Asian century, as well as the Chinese century
  • As China privileges nationalism, it is bound to compel its Asian neighbours to do the same.
  • The idea of Asian unity was among the many transcendental political notions that emerged in the late-19th and early-20th centuries as the eastern civilisations struggled to rediscover themselves amidst the domination of the West.

Objective

  • The current president of China, Xi Jinping continues to talk about Asian unity. But for a very different purpose. For Deng, Asian unity was central to his strategy of rebuilding China.
  • Xi has a very different objective. He is leading a country that has emerged as a great power, thanks to the sweeping reforms under Deng. For Xi, Asian unity is about getting Beijing’s neighbours to acquiesce in China’s regional primacy.

Paradox

  • It is in an unfortunate paradox that the phenomenal rise of China may have created the very conditions for the demise of the Asian century. “That China has become far more powerful than all of its Asian neighbours has meant Beijing no longer sees the need to evoke Asian unity.
  • But if powerful nationalism is driving China to seek more territory from its neighbours and dominate the region, equally intense nationalist forces in Asia will react against CCP’s assertive policies.
  • To be sure, an India that is smaller in economic size than China will pay a price for being the first to challenge the Chinese century.
  • But Delhi may be strong enough to extract a cost from Beijing which is discounting the enormous power of the nationalist sentiment that the CCP is unleashing in China’s neighbourhood
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