Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs – 8th July 2023



Today Topics List :

  1. PhD degree and the post of Assistant Professor

  2. Cluster Munitions

  3. The Rupee Challenge

  4. Brain Eating Amoeba

  5. The Yamuna problem



PhD degree and the post of Assistant Professor

    • The University Grants commission (UGC), India’s higher education regulator, notified that it is no longer mandatory to have a PhD degree to apply for the post of assistant professor in colleges and universities.
      • Clearing the National Eligibility Test (NET), state Eligibility Test (SET) or State Level Eligibility Test (SLET) is enough.
      • This new minimum criteria for direct recruitment of college and university teachers at the entry level  came into effect on July 1.

What are the changes:

  • The revised regulations on Minimum qualifications for appointment of Teachers and other Academic staff in universities and colleges released in June 2010.
    • It says the candidate for assistant professor must qualify in the NET, SET or SLET. However, candidates who had PhDs were exempt. That is A PhD holder can apply even if he did not clear such tests.
  • In 2018, UGC issued a notification which made PhD degree mandatory for direct recruitment to the post of Assistant Professor with effect from 01.07.2021
    • The candidates got three-year window (2018-2021) for completing their PhDs.
    • UGC also directed universities and colleges to implement the new minimum criteria for recruitment from July 2021, following COVID 19 disruption, this has been pushed to July 2023.
  • Hence, in effect, having a PhD is never a mandatory criterion for the job as even before this could kick in, UGC had notified that a PhD is no longer mandatory.
    • Thus, UGC has reversed its 2018 decision even before it could be implemented.

Reasons for reversal;

  • It seems to be to cast recruitment net wider by removing an inessential entry barrier, while ensuring quality does not suffer.
    • In certain disciplines such as policy making, design, foreign languages, law, architecture and other similar subjects, universities often find it difficult to get candidates with a PhD.
    • Removal of mandatory PhD conditions at the entry level will help universities in recruiting candidates with a flair for teaching but without a PhD. They of course need to complete their PhD to move to the next level- Associate Professor.
  • India has more than 25,000 PhDs produced every year, in major disciplines, there is intense competition to select the best PhDs for faculty positions, and removing the condition at entry level will not affect the quality of education.
  • While clearing NET/SET/SLET is a minimum criterion, universities may set higher shortlisting criteria for the interviews in order to manage the number of candidates, as HEIs are autonomous.
    • They can set a higher selection criterion in certain disciplines but use the UGC’s mminimum criteria in other disciplines.

           Higher education system plays a major role in deciding the employability of the country’s youth. UGC with such a decision has enabled the institutions to provide more employment as well as bring in industrial skill set / practical knowledge to the higher education sector in India.



Cluster Munitions

    • The US has decided to send cluster munitions to Ukraine to help its military push back Russian forces entrenched along the front lines.

What is it?

  • It is a bomb that opens in the air and releases smaller bomblets across a wider area.
  • The bomblets are designed to take out tanks and equipment, as well as troops, hitting multiple targets at a time.
  • The munitions are launched by the same artillery weapons that the US and allies have already provided to Ukraine for the war such as howitzers.
    • And also the type of cluster munitions that the US is planning to send is based on a common 155 mm shell that is widely used across the battlefield.
  • These cluster munitions have had a higher dud rate, that is thousands of the smaller unexploded bomblets remained behind and killed and maimed people decades later.
    • US used them last in 2003 Iraq battle, and decided not to use them as the battle shifted to more urban environments with dense civilian populations.
    • US defence department has multiple variants of the munitions and the ones that were considered for providing to Ukraine would not include older variants with (unexploding) rates that are higher than 2.35%.

Consequences of Using them:

  • Use of cluster bombs itself is not a violation of international law, but using them against civilians can be a violation.
    • As in any strike, determining a war crime requires looking at whether the target was legitimate and if precautions were taken to avoid civilian casualities.
  • A convention banning the use of cluster bombs has been joined by more than 120 countries, which agreed not to use, produce, transfer or stockpile the weapons and to clear them after the’ve been used.
    • US, Russia and Ukraine haven’t signed on.



The Rupee Challenge

  • The Reserve Bank of India constituted an Inter Departmental group to frame a road map for the internationalisation of the Rupee. The committee has submitted its report. The report mainly pointed out Russia- Ukraine conflict.

Russia Ukraine war

  • Russia- Ukraine war led to subsequent imposition of sanctions on Russia.
  • This has made way for weaponization of financial system which led to apprehensions over excessive reliance on the dollar.
  • This led to calls for diversification of usage of currency in International transactions.

Advantages of Internationalisation:

  • For India, usage of Rupee in international transactions provides many advantages susch as,
    • It brings down exchange rate risks for Indian exporters and importers, while curtailing the demand for US Dollar.
    • It reduces the need to maintain a forex war chest in order to manage external vulnerabilities.
    • It makes the economy lee at risk to sudden stops and reversals of capital flows.

Measures required:

  • The report has detailed several measures required to boost rupee’s usage in international transactions such as,
    • In short-term, putting in place a uniform approach for dealing with trade arrangements for “invoicing, settlements and payment in rupee and local currencies.”
    • Incentivising exporters to use the Indian currency for trade settlement and integrating payment systems to seamless cross border transactions.
    • Among the medium-termmeasures,Synchronising tax regimes of India and other financial centres,
    • Allowing banking services in the Rupee outside the country.
    • In long run, the objective could be to include the Rupee in the IMF’s Special drawing Rights (SDR) basket.

Challenges involved:

  • Even though the central bank had allowed banks in July last year to settle international trade in rupees with 18 countries, there has been a little traction for this facility so far.
  • Russia, for instance preferred the Yuan or the dirham as a medium of transaction, even though there has been a sharp increase in oil imports from the country to India.
    • One on the main reasons was the lack of imports from India to Russia, so Russia won’t be able to use the Rupees that it accumulates with oil sale.
  • The depth and breadth of financial and foreign exchange markets, the extents of friction therein, will also play a critical role in determining the pace of internationalisation of Rupee.

Way Forward:

      As Indian economy grows in size, as trade linkages with other countries grow stronger, more space will be created for using the Rupee in International transactions. But, a cautious approach is called for.



Brain Eating Amoeba

    • A 15 year old boy in Kerala has died due to a rare infection caused by Naegleria fowleri or “brain eating amoeba” after a week of high fever and rapid deterioration in his vitals.
      • The teen used to bathe in a stream, which is a likely source of amoeba.
      • This is not new, Last December, a 50 year old man in South Korea, and a man in Florida succumbed to this infection in march.

Naegleria fowleri:

  • The single cell organism can be seen only under a microscope.
  • It is found in warm freshwater environments such as lakes, rivers, and springs.
  • It survives on bacteria in the sediment in lakes and rivers.
    • This is particularly true in summers, when it creates a favourable conditions for the amoeba’s growth. Such conditions are not rare in India.
  • In a very rare case, it may be found even in swimming pools and water bodies in entertainment parks, especially if they are poorly maintained or not well chlorinated.
  • It cannot survive in saline conditions, and is therefore not found in seawater.

Infections in Humans:

  • It enters the body through the nose and enters the brain – diving or jumping into a river or lake can force water up the nose.
  • This infection leads to severe and usually fatal brain infection known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis. (PAM)
  • Amoeba is vulnerable in its maturing or trophozoite phase, as a cyst it becomes resistant to the environment
    • Unlike, trophozoites which are killed rapidly by refrigeration, cysts can survive even extreme cold.

Prevention and Treatment:

  • The infection do not spread from person to person.
  • Preventive measures such as avoiding warm fresh water bodies with inadequate chlorination, using nose clips and using sterile water for nasal cleansing rituals can help reduce the risk of contracting the infection.
  • The amoeba cause inflammation and destruction of brain tissues.
    • Symptoms that usually appears within a week of infection, include, severe headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, confusion seizures and hallucinations.
    • As the infection progresses, the patient can slip into coma and ultimately die.
  • US CDC recommends treatment with a combination of drugs that often includes amphotericin B, Azithromycin, fluconazole, rifampcin, miltefosine, and dexamethasone.
    • Miltefosine, the newest of these drugs, has been shown to kill Naegleria fowleri in the laboratory, and has been used to treat three survivors.



The Yamuna problem

    • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) in January, constituted a panel headed by Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor to find ways to rejuvenate the Yamuna in the Capital. A status report was submitted after six months by the Delhi Government.
      • The report shows that there’s scarcely any reduction in the river’s pollution levels.


  • The City’s sewage treatment plants do not operate to full capacity and untreated or partially treated sewage flows into the river.
  • A large number of localities, inhabited by the poor, are not covered by the network of pipes that take sewage to treatment plants.
    • Hence, water in the river in most of its stretch in the capital is not fit for bathing quality.
  • 245 million gallons of sewage is left untreated and a 6 months deadline has not made much difference to the pollution levels.
    • Before the intervention of NGT 250 MGD was dumped in the river.
  • An interceptor drains project initiated more than 15 years ago has missed several deadlines. The project’s main idea was that, instead of laying a massive network of new lines, interceptor sewers would be laid to trap the sewage from Delhi’s three large drains that carry most city’s filth and dump it into the Yamuna.
    • Since the project was conceived, the number of colonies outside the city’s severage network has increased.
  • Different authorities in the city – the DDA, the municipal corporation, and the pollution control agencies rarely work in sync.
  • The Yamuna cleaning work is among the several causalities of the constant confrontation between the Delhi government and the city’s LG

            The Delhi stretch is only 2 % of the river’s length, but more than 70 % of the Yamuna’s pollution burden originates in the capital. Therefore, restoring the river in Delhi is critical for its health. The solutions have been known for long now. It’s high time they are implemented.

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