29 Mar Bioterrorism and India’s preparation
Bioterrorism and India’s preparation – Today Current Affairs
Bioterrorism covers a very broad spectrum of concerns, from catastrophic terrorism with mass casualties, to microevents using low technology but producing civil unrest, disruption, disease, disabilities and death. The threat of bioterrorism, long ignored and denied, has heightened over the past few years. The international terrorist attacks are changing over the past years towards the use of more deadly weapons for massive civil disruption. Most terrorists use explosive and guns but some groups now show interest in using chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) materials in order to cause mass casualties.
➢ “Intentional” release of virus, bacteria, etc. to harm humans, plants, animals.
Some examples: The Hhindu Analysis
➢ 2001 anthrax attacks in USA (letters with Anthrax sent to legislators, media, etc.)
➢ Iraq’s bioweapons program in 1980s. Loaded some missiles with anthrax and aflatoxin.
➢ Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of world powers to potential use of biological
weapons. (Don’t say that corona is a Chinese conspiracy, until proven).
Biological weapons are complex systems that disseminate disease causing organisms or toxins to harm or kill humans, animals or plants.
They generally consist of two parts – a weaponized agent and a delivery mechanism.
Challenges with bio-terrorism: The Hindu Analysis
➢ Relatively easy to create without getting detected. (like a vaccine production facility).
➢ Wide geographic reach and self-sustaining spread.
➢ Difficult to control due to possible mutations.
➢ Difficult to find the real attackers.
➢ It may be delivered through air, water supply, agri inputs, humans, etc.
➢ India specific challenges:
➢ Tropical climate generally more suitable for rapid spread of disease.
➢ High population density, crowded public transport.
➢ Neighbors who use proxy war as state policy. (Pak terror, China tech)
Need for Bio terrorism law in India: The Hindu Analysis
- India’s high vulnerability: High population density, Inadequate medical facilities, subtropical climatic conditions, poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation facilities make India extremely susceptible for such attacks.
- Control its impact on society: Bioterrorism causes damage, fear, and anxiety among people and affects the society and government of a country. These biological weapons can cause large-scale mortality and morbidity in large populations and create civil disruption in the shortest possible time.
- Increase in attacks due to advancement in technology: In this era of biotechnology and nanotechnology has created an easy accessibility to more sophisticated biologic agents apart from the conventional bacteria, viruses and toxins.
Is India prepared: The Hindu Analysis
➢ Epidemic Disease Act 1897 gives governments special powers to deal with dangerous epidemic
➢ NDMA is equipped to deal with effects of weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, nuclear)
➢ Integrated Disease Surveillance Program of MoHFW to detect outbreaks in early phase.
➢ Research infra e.g. ICMR labs like NIV Pune, academic labs, etc.
Today Current Affairs
What can be done?
➢ International cooperation on intelligence sharing.
➢ Infra for rapid detection, continuous monitoring of critical infra.
➢ Strengthening disaster management forces.
➢ Installing biodefense mechanisms on lines of USSR during cold war.
➢ Public awareness about dos and don’ts in cases of suspected bioterrorism.
Today Current Affairs
Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention 1972.
➢ It was the 1st multilateral disarmament treaty to ban Biological Weapons.
➢ It prohibits countries from producing, stockpiling, acquiring, or retaining biological agents that can be used as weapons.
➢ India ratified this treaty in 2015.