Government Schemes & Policies
- Government launches SUMAN scheme, assures free medicines for pregnant women
Issues related to Health & Education
- POSHAN atlas to map local crops, food grains for tackling malnutrition
- HRD Ministry launches ‘Dhruv’ platform
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Government plans 1,400km long great ‘green wall’ of India
- IFS officer selected for Asia Environmental Enforcement Award by UNEP
Science & Technology
- Researchers discover new antibiotic in Mexican forest
- Satellite-based advisory service launched for deep sea fishermen
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Government Schemes & Policies
Government launches SUMAN scheme, assures free medicines for pregnant women
Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare launched Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan, SUMAN, initiative in New Delhi.
About Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan – SUMAN scheme
- It was launched by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW).
- It aims to provide assured quality antenatal care, free of cost, universally to all pregnant women on the 9th of every month, up to 6 months after delivery.
- It envisages to improve the Antenatal Care (ANC) and Diagnostics and Counselling services as part of the Reproductive Maternal Neonatal Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) Strategy.
- The programme motivates private practitioners to volunteer for the campaign. Pregnant women would be given Mother and Child Protection Cards.
- ‘IPledgeFor9’ Achievers Awards have been devised to celebrate individual and team achievements and acknowledge voluntary contributions for PMSMA across India.
Services under SUMAN Scheme
- At least four ante natal check-ups, Iron Folic Acid supplementation and Tetanus diptheria injection
- Home-based newborn care visits
- Zero expense access to the identification and management of complications (such as C-section facility) during and after the pregnancy.
- Free transport from home to health institutions
- Assured referral services with scope of reaching health facility within one hour of any critical case emergency
Objectives of the program:
- Ensure care provision by a physician/specialist in at least one ante-natal visit in the second or third trimester
- Special emphasis on women with malnutrition conditions like Anemia.
- Special focus on adolescent and early pregnancies, as these pregnancies need extra and specialized care.
- Improve the quality of care during ante-natal visits. This includes ensuring provision of the following services:
- All applicable diagnostic services
- Screening for the applicable clinical conditions
- Appropriate management of any existing clinical condition such as Anaemia, Gestational Diabetes etc.
- Appropriate counselling services
- Additional service opportunity to pregnant women who have missed ante-natal visits
- The program aims to guarantees a minimum package of antenatal care services to all Pregnant Women who are in the 2nd or 3rd Trimesters of pregnancy.
Rationale for the program
- The Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) is the ratio of the number of maternal deaths during a given time period per 100,000 live births during the same time-period.
- According to government, India’s maternal mortality rate has declined from 254 per 1,00,000 live births in 2004-06 to 130 in 2014-16. Between 2001 and 2016, the infant mortality rate came down from 66 per 1,000 live births to 34.
- MMR in India was very high (556) in 1990 compared to the global MMR of 385/lakh live births.
- However, India has registered an overall decline in MMR of 70% between 1990. In 2015, MMR of India has declined to 167/lakh live births against a global MMR of 216/lakh live births.
- While India has made considerable progress in the reduction of maternal and infant mortality, every year approximately 44000 women still die due to pregnancy-related causes and approximately 6.6 lakh infants die within the first 28 days of life.
- The scheme will largely help in bringing down maternal and infant mortality rates in the country.
- It will provide a positive and stress-free birth experience to the mother and newborn.
- PMSMA can play a critical role in reducing the number of maternal deaths in India. If Implemented well, it can prove to be a game changer and a sturdy stepping stone for achievement of the sustainable development goals.
Issues related to Health & Education
POSHAN atlas to map local crops, food grains for tackling malnutrition
In a bid to tackle malnutrition, government is developing an POSHAN Atlas to map the crops and food grains grown in different regions of the country so that nutritious protein rich food in local areas can be promoted.
About the POSHAN atlas:
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) in association with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Deendayal Research Institute is developing a POSHAN atlas under POSHAN abhiyan.
- It will map the crops and food grains grown in different regions of the country.
- The intent behind such mapping is to tackle malnutrition by promoting regional cropping patterns and embracing local food that are rich in protein.
National Nutrition of India:
- Nearly 10% of children in the age group of 5-9 years and adolescents in the age group of 10-19 years are pre-diabetic, 5% are overweight and another 5% suffer from blood pressure.
- Nearly 25% of 5-9 and 10-19 year-olds were thin for their age, one in five children 5-9 years’ old were stunted.
- According to the World Bank Global Nutrition Report – 2018, malnutrition costs India at least $10 billion annually in terms of lost productivity, illness and death.
About POSHAN Abhiyaan
- POSHAN Abhiyaan was launched on International Women’s day (March 8) in 2018 to boost nutrition among children and women.
- It is a multi-ministerial convergence mission with the vision to ensure attainment of malnutrition free India by 2022.
- Its aim to ensure holistic development and adequate nutrition for pregnant women, mothers and children.
- Its large component involves gradual scaling-up of interventions supported by on-going World Bank assisted ‘Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Systems Strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project’ (ISSNIP) to all districts in the country by 2022.
Target under the mission
- The target of the mission is to bring down stunting among children in the age group 0-6 years from 38 % to 25% by 2022.
- Prevent and reduce stunting in children (0-6 years)
- Prevent and reduce under-nutrition (underweight prevalence) in children (0-6 years)
- Reduce the prevalence of anemia among young Children (6-59 months)
- Reduce the prevalence of anemia among Women and Adolescent Girls in the age group of 15-49 years:
- Reduce Low Birth Weight (LBW)
Significance of the project
- The project will include investments in improving the skills and capacities of ICDS staff and community nutrition workers.
- It aims at strengthening systems of citizen engagement and grievance redress and establishing mobile technology based tools for improved monitoring of services.
- The project ensure convergence of all nutrition related schemes and provide performance based incentives to states and community nutrition and health workers.
About National Nutrition Council On India’s Nutrition Challenges
- Ministry of Women and Child Development constituted the National Council on India’s Nutritional Challenges under the POSHAN Abhiyaan.
- It is headed by the Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog.
Objectives of National Nutrition Council On India’s Nutrition Challenges
- To provide policy directions to address India’s Nutrition Challenges through coordinated inter-sectoral action
- To coordinate and review convergence among ministries
- To review programmes for nutrition on a quarterly basis
Foodgrains Availability in India
- Over the last 20 years, total food grain production in India increased from 198 million tonnes to 269 million tonnes. Wheat and rice are a major portion of food grain production, constituting around 75 percent of the total food grain production.
- The state of Uttar Pradesh leads in the production of wheat, cereals and Foodgrains, followed by Punjab and Madhya Pradesh. West Bengal is the ‘rice bowl’ of India, followed by Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Bihar.
- Though yields in food grains have increased by 33 percent in last two decades, it has been far less than desired. For instance, India has set a target of achieving yields of 5,018 kgs/hectare for rice, wheat and coarse grains by 2030. While no state/UT has achieved this target yet, the Chandigarh is nearing the targeted productivity followed by Punjab.
Access to Nutritious Food
- According to Engel’s law, the share of income spent on food decreases, even as total food expenditure rises. A higher share of total monthly expenditure for food shows lower purchasing power and is related to food access, so it is a relative measure of food insecurity.
- On average, people of India allocate about 49 percent of their monthly expenditure on food in rural areas and 39 percent in urban areas.
- Between 2004-05 to 2011-12, among the poorest, the share of expenditure on food has declined in rural and in urban areas showing that incomes have increased in both rural and urban areas and that food is no longer the only predominant expenditure head for the people.
- Between 1993-94 to 2011- 12, the average daily per capita consumption of both energy and protein decreased in rural India while in urban areas, there was no consistent trend. This decline has happened despite the increase in household income.
- Among the lowest 30 % of the expenditure/ income class, the average per capita consumption of energy is 1811 kcal/day which is much lower than the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) norm of 2,155 kcal/day.
Public Distribution System (PDS) and Nutritional Intake:
- The Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) has provided a critical nutritional supplement. During 2011-12, the average per capita supplementation of energy from TPDS was 453 kcal/day in rural areas and 159 kcal/day in urban India.
- However, it has been seen that poorest 30 percent of households had lower capacity to access food, and as a result, despite the PDS support, they were not able to reach the Recommended Dietary Energy (RDA) levels of energy and protein intakes
National Malnutrition Decadal Trends
- The prevalence of malnutrition in children 6-59 months in India has declined between 2005-06 to 2015-16. The prevalence of anaemia in young children has also decreased.
- Stunting has declined by one fifth during last decade. The prevalence of stunting is more than 30 percent across all states in India, except
- The Government of India has envisaged a challenging target for itself through National Nutrition Mission (NNM) with the target to reduce stunting by at least 2 percent per annum to reach 25 percent by 2022. Goa, Kerala, Daman and Diu, Andaman and Nicobar, Puducherry and Tripura have already achieved this level.
Inter and Intra State Variations in Malnutrition:
- The prevalence of stunting in children under five is the highest in Bihar (48 %), Uttar Pradesh (46 %), Jharkhand (45 %), and Meghalaya (44 %) and lowest in Kerala and Goa (20 %).
- Jharkhand also has the highest prevalence of underweight and wasting.
- At the national level, among social groups, the prevalence of stunting is highest amongst children from the Scheduled Tribes (43 %), followed by Scheduled Casts (42 %) and Other Backwards Casts (38 %).
Recommendations to improve availability
- Farmers should be encouraged and incentivised to increase production of micronutrient-rich grains.
- Use of innovative farming technologies, increase in the irrigation coverage and enhancing knowledge of farmers in areas have high potential to improve the sustainability of food productivity.
- Promotion of farming of traditional coarse such as maize which are produced in abundance and are good source of energy.
- Enhanced coverage of Soil Health Card to small holder farmers and protection of farmers against price fluctuations and losses.
- Improve Storage Capacity.
Recommendations to improve access
- Strengthened Safety Nets Programmes such as well implemented Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)
Recommendations to improve utilisation
- Improve Child Feeding Practices, especially at the critical ages when solid foods are introduced to the diet.
- Food Supplementation Programmes such as The Take-Home Rations (THR) under the Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) should be adapted to the local food habits in each state.
- Good practices in Mother and Child Care
- Prioritise Maternal Anaemia
- Focus on addressing the Increase in Wasting Prevalence
- Improvement in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Practices
- Monitoring Progress on SDG 2 – Zero Hunger.
- Addressing Gender Issues (Women and children remain vulnerable due to various inequalities)
- Increase the utilization of Knowledge on Consumption Patterns and Behaviors
- Greater Use of Technology (use of Technology to inform farmer in terms of crops, rainfall and soil health)
- September 2019 is being observed as Poshan Maah or Nutrition month.
HRD Ministry launches ‘Dhruv’ platform
The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry launched the Pradhan Mantri Innovative Learning Programme called ‘Dhruv’, a platform to help meritorious students achieve excellence in science, performing arts and creative writing.
About Dhruv platform
- It aims to encourage talented children to enrich their skills and knowledge and allow talented students to realize their full potential.
- Currently, it will cover two areas i.e. Science and Performing Arts with 60 students from classes 9 to 12 in all. These students will be called ‘DHRUV TARA’.
- This is only the first phase of the programme which will be expanded gradually to other fields such as Creative writing.
- The programme will act as a platform to explore the talent of outshining and meritorious students, and help them achieve excellence in their specific areas of interest may it be science, performing arts, creative writing, etc.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Government plans 1,400km long great ‘green wall’ of India
The Centre is mulling a plan to create a 1,400km long and 5km wide green belt from Gujarat to the Delhi-Haryana border, on the lines of the “Great Green Wall” running through the width of Africa, from Dakar (Senegal) to Djibouti, to combat climate change and desertification.
- The idea of creating a huge green belt was part of the agenda of the recently held conference (COP14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in India.
- The idea of forming a green belt from Porbandar to Panipat will help in restoring degraded land through afforestation along the Aravali hill range that spans across Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi.
- It will also act as a barrier for dust coming from the deserts in western India and Pakistan.
- This project, if approved, can be a legacy programme in India’s efforts to deal with land degradation and the eastward march of the Thar desert.
- This idea got its motivation from the ‘Great Green Wall’ of Africa. However, Africa is still in process to make such wall even after 10 years of its announcement due to the involvement of many countries in its implementation.
- India seeks replicate the idea as a national priority under its goal to restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
- The green belt may not be contiguous, but would roughly cover the entire degraded Aravali range through a massive afforestation exercise.
- The Aravali has been identified as one of the key degraded zones to be taken up for greening under India’s target to restore 26 million hectares (mha) of its land by 2030.
Desertification in India
- India has, at present, 96.4 mha of degraded land which is 3% of the country’s total geographical area (328.7 mha).
- Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi are among states/UT where more than 50% of the total area was degraded land.
- The recently held COP14 saw an initiative, called Peace Forest Initiative (PFI), to develop forests in conflict areas between two countries, including the demilitarised zone of South and North Korea.
IFS officer selected for Asia Environmental Enforcement Award by UNEP
Senior Indian Forest Service officer Ramesh Pandey has been selected for the prestigious Asia Environmental Enforcement Award by the United Nations Environment Programme.
About Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards
- This Awards is given by the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and INTERPOL.
- The purpose of the Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards is to publicly recognise outstanding achievements by public organisations and individuals in Asia to combat transboundary environmental crime.
- Any government official and/or government institution or team working on fighting transboundary environmental crime in Asia OR on fostering Africa-Asia cooperation in the area of illegal trade in wildlife.
Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards 2019
- 2019 Awards will be given to recipients who demonstrate leadership in 6 categories: Collaboration; Impact; Innovation; Integrity and Gender leadership.
- There is also a separate category for Africa-Asia cooperation in the area of illegal trade in wildlife.
Need for such award
- Transboundary environmental crime presents a serious threat in Asia region. Illegal trade in wildlife undermines conservation efforts, harms economies, devastates livelihoods and compromises ecosystems.
- Illegal trade in wildlife also takes place on the routes between Africa and Asia at significant scale.
- The Asia region is also one of the main destinations for illegally traded chemicals and waste. Millions of tonnes of hazardous waste and harmful chemicals are transported to and within Asia, with disastrous effects for human health and the environment.
Science & Technology
Researchers discover new antibiotic in Mexican forest
A new antibiotic named ‘Phazolicin’ has been discovered in the soil of a tropical rainforest, and its unique properties could make it particularly attractive for use in agriculture.
About the New Discovery of ‘Phazolicin’ producing microbe
- An international team of scientists have discovered a new antibiotic produced by a soil bacterium found in a tropical forest in a tropical forest in Los Tuxtlas, Mexico, in the soil and roots of wild beans called Phaseolus vulgaris.
- These microbes produce Phazolicin which is present in the roots of plants produced by microbes called Rhizobium. The antibiotic phazolicin is a class of peptide produced in the ribosome.
- The phazolicin-producing microbe formed nodules on bean plant roots, and provided plants with nitrogen, making them grow more robustly than others.
- The microbes also defended plants from harmful bacteria sensitive to phazolicin. Researchers found that phazolicin-producing microbe targeted the harmful bacteria’s ribosome (protein manufacturing component in cells) to kill it. Phazolicin is only the second peptide known to do such things.
Need for such study
- Antibiotic resistance is a huge problem in both medicine and agriculture. Hence, continuing searches for new antibiotics are very important as they may provide leads for future anti-bacterial agent.
- The Phazolicin could one day help us to grow food more sustainably, increasing the yield of legumes and their ability to resist pests.
Satellite-based advisory service launched for deep sea fishermen
The Government launched the Gagan Enabled Mariner’s Instrument for Navigation and Information (GEMINI) device.
About Gagan Enabled Mariner’s Instrument for Navigation and Information (GEMINI)
- It is a portable device which provides information on disaster warning, Potential Fishing Zones (PFZ – probable locations on fish aggregation) and Ocean States Forecasts (OSF) and sends this information to the fishermen’s cellphone.
- Currently, the sea weather forecasts are disseminated through multiple communication modes, However, none of them could provide such information, when the fishermen move away from the coast beyond 10-12 km.
- That remained as a major limitation in disseminating the information to fishermen who go in the sea beyond 50 nautical miles; sometimes up to 300 nautical miles and beyond.
- Hence, to overcome this difficulty, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) joined hands with Airports Authority of India (AAI) to utilize the GAGAN (GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation) satellite system to transmit the PFZ, OSF and disaster warnings to fishermen.
- To receive the messages transmitted through the GAGAN satellites, INCOIS developed a GAGAN system-enabled GEMINI (GAGAN Enabled Mariner’s Instrument for Navigation and Information) device.
- The GEMINI device receives and transfers the data received from GAGAN satellite/s to a mobile through Bluetooth communication. A mobile application developed by INCOIS displays the information in nine regional languages.
About Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS)
- INCOIS is an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
- It is a unit of the Earth System Science Organization (ESSO). It was established in 1999 and is headquartered in Hyderabad.
- Its mandated is to provide the best possible ocean information and advisory services to government agencies, society, industry and the scientific community.
- It is a central repository for marine data in India.
- INCOIS has been designated as the National Oceanographic Data Centre by the International Oceanographic Data Exchange Programme (IODE) of International Oceanographic Commission (IOC).
- Further, INCOIS serves as the National Argo Data Centre, Regional Argo Data Centre and is a founding member of the Indian Ocean Global Ocean Observing System (IOGOOS) Programme.
About GAGAN satellites
- The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) have implemented the GAGAN project as a Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) for the Indian Airspace.
- The GAGAN’s goal is to provide a navigation system to assist aircraft in accurate landing over the Indian airspace and in the adjoining area and applicable to safety-to-life civil operations.
- The coverage of GAGAN covers huge area beyond Indian Territory, from Africa to Australia and can support seamless navigation across the Globe.
- GAGAN is the first Satellite-Based Augmentation System in the world which has been certified for approach with vertical guidance operating in the equatorial ionospheric region.
- One essential component of the GAGAN project is the study of the ionospheric behaviour over the Indian region. GAGAN ionospheric algorithm was developed by ISRO. This makes India the third country in the world which has such capabilities.