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Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 1st June 2018

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US- Indo Pacific Command (INDOPACOM)

Part of: Mains GS Paper II- International relations

Key pointers:

  • The US military has renamed its Pacific Command to US-Indo Pacific Command, underlining the growing connectivity between India and Pacific Oceans.
  • The symbolic move came in recognition of the growing importance of the Indian Ocean in US strategic thinking.
  • Henceforth, the US Pacific Command, or PACOM, which was formed after World War II, will be known as the Indo-Pacific Command.
  • Soon after coming to power, the Trump administration had renamed Asia Pacific as Indo-Pacific and identified India as one bookend of the region.
  • America continues to invest vigorously in Indo-Pacific stability, bolstering the free and open rules-based international order that has enabled this region to grow and thrive for over 70 years.

‘Mission Raftaar’

Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Infrastructure

Key pointers:

  • The Indian Railways recently conducted a one-day workshop ‘Mission Raftaar’ in which officials discussed ways to increase the average speed of freight and passenger trains.
  • This workshop is an exercise with the top management of the railways to brainstorm about increase in speed of freight and passenger trains.
  • Issues such as “punctuality, rolling stock, removing bottlenecks in terms of traffic, elimination of unmanned level crossings were discussed.
  • ‘Mission Raftaar’ aims at doubling the average speed of freight trains and increasing the average speed of coaching trains by 25 kmph over a five-year period.
  • The average speed of freight trains is 24 kmph and that of passenger trains, excluding suburban trains, is 44 kmph. Increasing the average speed of trains is considered essential for reducing travel time for passengers, transit time for cargo, operational cost, and improving revenues and the railway’s market share.



TOPIC:General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

The issue of doping in sports

In news:

In the recently concluded Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, Australia, the Indian contingent got rapped for alleged violations of the “No Needle Policy”.
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has decided to implement a similar policy.
Zero tolerance is welcome. The culture of casual doping amongst athletes needs to change.
The reasons for the malaise are many — peer pressure, irresponsible advisers and fellow athletes, unscrupulous coaches, easy availability, poorly administered federations and, of course, human fallibility.


India had dropped from third to sixth place on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) 2016 List of Offenders.
What makes India’s position unique is that it’s too high on this list, disproportionately so to the levels of its sporting achievement.

Rules in India:

  • Indian anti-doping rules mirror the WADA code and prescribe a framework of strict liability. For this, the athlete first needs to establish how the prohibited substance entered his/her system. This burden is justifiably onerous. In reality, it disables an athlete caught in inadvertent doping.
    Inadvertent doping is due to contaminated or mislabelled supplements, misguided medical treatment and at worst, sabotage. Harmless food supplements like proteins or vitamins used by athletes are often from unreliable sources like private shops or online purchase.
  • A recent initiative by the Foods and Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) to test and certify supplements is still to be fully operationalised.

Way ahead:

  • The government should create a source for safe permitted supplements. It would curb accidental doping.
    An athlete accused of inadvertent doping cannot get supplements tested for contamination, having no access to authorised laboratories.
    The National Dope-Testing Laboratory (NDTL) is accessible only to NADA or the government.
  • Any anti-doping initiative should aggressively focus not only on detection but also on education and awareness.
    Athletes, support staff, federations, sports medical personnel must be equipped with well-conceived literature, consultation and workshops.
    Current efforts are inadequate. NADA’s efforts need to be supplemented by a cadre of indigenous anti-doping experts.

No needle policy:

The AFI has declared that they have drawn up a two-page protocol which would be distributed to all athletes at national camps and training centres. While we await the details, a few caveats.

  • As a policy, this will be separate from the Anti-Doping Rules and will have to be implemented in silos. The infringement of policy can lead to a disciplinary action but not an anti-doping sanction.
  • An impenetrable infrastructure needs to be put in place first, so that cases of sabotage (simply planting a needle in a competitor’s room) does not become rampant.

Restorative, rather than simply retributive justice:

A framework must be created to constructively counsel athletes to understand the real causes, degrees of fault and administrative lapses.
We must recognise the socio-cultural reality of our sportspersons. Quite a few are from semi-urban or rural backgrounds.
To them, sports is the only route to a better economic status. Literacy and language are serious impediments. They are subject to the whims and dictates of administrators. Amidst such intense pressure, they compete and carry our nation’s hopes. But when they err, or are accused of doing so, we disclaim all responsibility. Sports federations, more famous for politicking, must take this blame upfront.

Connecting the dots:

  • Making doping a criminal offence is an unsustainable idea which would subject athletes to an already crippled criminal justice system. Restorative, rather than retributive justice should be focused on. Discuss.


TOPIC:General Studies 2:

  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

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