Prime-Minister-International-Rice-Research-Institute--iastoppers
Current Affairs Analysis

12th & 13th November 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Rice Field laboratory in Manila named after PM Modi; International Rice Research Institute (IRRI); Article 345; Project Saksham; Measles Rubella (MR) vaccination campaign; Measles-rubella (MR); What is Hepatitis? Hepatitis C; Hausala 2017; Bal Sandad; Islamic banking; What is Sulphur dioxide? South China Sea Controversy; What is a cobot? Piezoelectric rubber; UNESCO'S new chief; First woman President of NASSCOM; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
November 13, 2017

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Rice Field laboratory in Manila named after PM Modi
  • Urdu becomes second official language of Telangana

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Project Saksham

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Expert Advisory Group on Measles & Rubella commends India on MR vaccination progress
  • Haryana first state to treat Hepatitis-C patients with oral medicine
  • Hausala 2017

Economy

  • Not to pursue Islamic banking: RBI

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • India becoming world’s top sulphur dioxide emitter: study

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Southeast Asia nations to start talks with China on sea code

Science & Technology

  • Thin, flexible material generates electricity when stretched
  • What humans do, cobots can too

Key Facts for Prelims

  • UNESCO’S new chief
  • First woman President of NASSCOM

For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here

Polity & Governance

Rice Field laboratory in Manila named after PM Modi

A ‘rice field laboratory’ named after Prime Minister Modi was recently inaugurated by Prime Minister himself at International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Banos in Philippines.

38325367316_6b9f9e16c8_o

About International Rice Research Institute (IRRI):

ias-toppers-International-Rice-Research-Institute

  • IRRI is an international agricultural research and training organization with headquarters in Los Baños, Philippines.
  • It was established in 1960 and has offices in 17 countries.
  • It is also the largest non-profit agricultural research centre in Asia.
  • It aims to reduce poverty and hunger, improve the health of rice farmers and consumers, and ensure environmental sustainability of rice farming.
  • IRRI is known for its work in developing high yielding rice varieties that contributed to the Green Revolution in the 1960s.
  • It advances its mission through collaborative research, partnerships, and the strengthening of the national agricultural research and extension systems of the countries IRRI works in.

CGIAR

  • IRRI is one of 15 agricultural research centers in the world that form the CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research centres, a global partnership of organizations engaged in research on food security.
  • It is also the largest non-profit agricultural research centres in Asia.

India and the IRRI:

  • IRRI has successfully collaborated with Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) to introduce drought- tolerant, flood-tolerant and salt-tolerant varieties of rice in India.
  • The Indian government is also setting up a regional centre of the IRRI in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency, to develop high-yielding rice varieties.
  • The Varanasi Centre would help increase farmers’ income by enhancing and supporting rice productivity, reducing cost of production, value addition, diversification and enhancement of farmers’ skills.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Urdu becomes second official language of Telangana

Urdu was declared second official language in Telangana.

Urdu-Telangana-iastoppers

What does it mean?

  • Every office in the state will now have an Urdu speaking officer.
  • State government will appoint Urdu officers in all offices over next 60 days to receive petitions from public and reply them in Urdu.
  • Apart from this, all competitive examinations in the state will also be conducted in Urdu.

Constitutional provision of Official Language

  • The Indian constitution does not specify the official languages to be used by the states for the conduct of their official functions, and leaves each state free to, through its legislature, adopt Hindi or any language used in its territory as its official language or languages.
  • The language need not be one of those listed in the Eighth Schedule, and several states have adopted official languages which are not so listed.

Article 345:

  • Article 345 of the Constitution deals with Official language or languages of a state which empowers state legislature to adopt ‘any one or more of the languages in use in the State or Hindi as the language or languages to be used for all or any of the official purposes’ of the concerned State.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Government Schemes & Policies

Project Saksham

The Indian Railways has launched Project Saksham, country’s largest time-bound “upskilling” exercise for its employees to boost their efficiency.

Railways Project Saksham

  • It will start in January 2018 and go on till September 2018.

About the project:

Objective:

  • Project Saksham aims to upgrade the skillsets of 13 lakh-strong workforce of Indian Railways with a single drive spanning nine months.

Key facts:

  • Under Project Saksham, over the next one year, all employees in each zone will be put through a week’s training in skills and knowledge relevant to their work area.
  • The nature of short-duration training will range from refresher courses, with eye on evolved global practices in respective areas, to skills in existing lining of functioning.

Beneficiary:

  • Employees from rank of a peon to higher echelons of Railway Board Members will undergo the training.
[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]

 

Issues related to Health & Education

Expert Advisory Group on Measles & Rubella commends India on MR vaccination progress

The India Expert Advisory Group on Measles & Rubella (IEAG-MR) has commended India on the progress of the measles and rubella vaccination campaign.

Measles Rubella (MR) vaccination ias

  • The expert member group concluded that ‘the country is on the right track’.
  • The group has advised for the MR vaccination campaign to cover the whole country by 2018.

Background:

  • Measles kills an estimated 49,000 children in India each year, which is about 37% of the global deaths due to this disease.
  • India has set an ambitious goal to eliminate measles from the country. Measles Rubella vaccine has been introduced in 13 states.
  • It is planned to expand across the country, covering 41 crore children by the end of 2018.

About Measles Rubella (MR) vaccination campaign:

The Health Ministry has initiated MR vaccination campaign in the age group of 9 months to less than 15 years in a phased manner in the country.

Measles Rubella (MR) vaccination iastoppers

  • It was started across the country under the universal immunisation programme (UIP).
  • The campaign aims to rapidly build up immunity for both measles and rubella diseases in the community to knock out the disease.
  • The MR campaign targets around 41 crore children across the country, the largest ever in any campaign.
  • Under the campaign, children will be given a single shot of Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccination irrespective of their previous measles/rubella vaccination status or measles/rubella disease status.
  • MR vaccine will be provided free- of- cost across the states from session sites at schools as well as health facilities and outreach session sites.
  • Presently, 13 states have been covered by the vaccination campaign.

About Measles-rubella (MR):

iastoppers-measles-rubella-2

  • Measles is one of the important causes of death in children. It is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing of an infected person.
  • It can also make a child vulnerable to life threatening complications such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and brain infection.
  • Symptoms of the infection can include cataracts and deafness. It can also affect the heart and the brain.
  • The disease commonly known as German Measles (or three-day measles) and is symptomatically similar to measles.
  • It can have devastating consequences if a pregnant mother is infected with it and the foetus may be born with incurable congenital anomalies.
  • Symptoms of the infection can include cataracts and deafness. It can also affect the heart and the brain.
  • The congenital rubella infection is believed to affect approximately 25,000 children born in India every year.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Haryana first state to treat Hepatitis-C patients with oral medicine

Haryana has become the first state in the country to treat Hepatitis-C patients of all categories through oral medicine.

Haryana first state to treat Hepatitis-C ias

Key facts:

  • For the first time, the state government has included oral medicine in government hospitals.
  • This medicine would be provided free of cost to permanent residents of all categories at district level. This has benefitted lakhs of patients in Haryana.
  • Haryana would be the first state where health screening would be done of everyone and 35 to 40 necessary tests would be conducted by visiting houses of all residents. The full record of these tests would remain with the department.

What is Hepatitis?

  • Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. It may be caused by drugs, alcohol use, or certain medical conditions. But in most cases, it’s caused by a virus. This is known as viral hepatitis
  • Scientists have identified 5 unique hepatitis viruses, identified by the letters A, B, C, D, and E. While all cause liver disease, they vary in important ways.

Hepatitis C:

Hepatitis C is an infectious disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) that primarily affects the liver.

Hepatitis C

  • During the initial infection people often have mild or no symptoms. Occasionally a fever, dark urine, abdominal pain, and yellow tinged skin occurs.
  • The virus persists in the liver in about 75% to 85% of those initially infected.
  • Early on chronic infection typically has no symptoms. Over many years however, it often leads to liver disease and occasionally cirrhosis.
  • There is no vaccine for HCV.

Hepatitis C: How Does It Spread?

  • It spreads through infected blood. In the U.S., sharing needles or other items used to inject drugs is the most common cause of infection.
  • Getting a tattoo or body piercing with an infected needle is another means of exposure.
  • A mother may pass the virus to her child at birth. In rare cases, unprotected sex spreads hepatitis C, but the risk appears small.
  • Having multiple sex partners, HIV, or rough sex seems to raise risk for spreading hepatitis C.

Treatment:

Hepatitis C 2

What is the difference between Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are diseases caused by three different viruses. Although each can cause similar symptoms, they have different modes of transmission and can affect the liver differently.

  • Hepatitis A appears only as an acute or newly occurring infection and does not become chronic. People with Hepatitis A usually improve without treatment.
  • Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can also begin as acute infections, but in some people, the virus remains in the body, resulting in chronic disease and long-term liver problems.
  • There are vaccines to prevent Hepatitis A and B; however, there is not one for Hepatitis C.
  • If a person has had one type of viral hepatitis in the past, it is still possible to get the other types.
[Ref: The Hindu, Business Standard, CDC]

 

Hausala 2017

The Ministry of Women and Child Development would be celebrating the Child Rights Week by hosting ‘Hausala 2017’ festival from 16-20 November 2017.

Hausala 2017’ festival iatoppers

  • The festival will be hosted by the Ministry as an Inter CCI Festival for the children who reside in Child Care Institutions (CCIs).
  • The week was chosen as the nation celebrates the Children’s Day on 14 November and the International Child Rights Day is celebrated annually on 20 November.

Significance:

Hausala 2017’ festival ias

  • The week-long festival will provide an occasion to showcase the talents of children from various child care institutions across the country and provide them with a space to express their dreams and aspirations.
  • The children will be participating in various events including Bal Sansad, painting competition, athletics meet, football, chess competition and speech writing.

About Bal Sandad:

Bal-Sandad-iastoppers

  • The Bal Sandad or youth parliament will be held on 16 November 2017.
  • It will witness participation from a total of 36 children between the age group of 14- 18 years.
  • The children would be seen expressing their views on issues that affect them.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Economy

Not to pursue Islamic banking: RBI

The Reserve Bank of India has decided not to pursue a proposal to introduce Islamic banking in India.

Islamic-banking-india-iastoppers

  • The RBI said the decision was taken after considering “the wider and equal opportunities” available to all citizens to access banking and financial services.

What is Islamic or Sharia banking?

  • Islamic or Sharia banking is a finance system based on the principles of not charging interest. The charging of interest is prohibited under Islam.
Note: Read IASToppers’ Mains Article on ‘Islamic Banking’: Posted on 14th November 2017

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

India becoming world’s top sulphur dioxide emitter: study

What is Sulphur dioxide?

  • Sulphur dioxide is an air pollutant that causes acid rain, haze and many health-related problems.
  • It is mainly produced when coal is burned to generate electricity.

Why in news?

  • As per a study published in journal Nature, India is overtaking China as the World’s largest emitter of Anthropogenic Sulphur Dioxide (SO2).

India-world’s-top-sulphur-dioxide-emitter-iastoppers

Why India is ahead of china in sulphur dioxide emissions?

China and India are the world’s top consumers of coal, which typically contains up to three per cent sulphur.

  • However, the rapid decrease of sulphur dioxide emissions in China far exceeds expectations and projections. This can be attributed to the emission control measures undertaken by China in the early 2000s. While, India is yet to implement emission control measures.

Highlights of the study:

  • India’s emissions of the air pollutant sulphur dioxide has increased by 50 per cent since 2007, while China’s fell by 75 per cent.
  • Sulphur dioxide levels in China declined significantly, though the coal usage increased by approximately 50 per cent and electricity generation grew by over 100 per cent.
  • Despite 75 per cent drop in SO2 emissions, China’s air quality continues to cause significant health problems as SO2 contributes to only about 10-20 per cent of air particles that cause haze.
  • By contrast, India’s sulphur dioxide emissions increased by 50 per cent over the past decade as India opened its largest coal-fired power plant in 2012 and has yet to implement emission controls.
  • India’s increased sulphur dioxide emissions are not causing as health or haze problems as in China because the largest emission sources are not in the most densely populated area of India.
  • However, with the growing demand for electricity in India, the impact may worsen.

About the methodology:

To generate an accurate profile of emissions over India and China, the researchers combined emissions data generated by two different methods.

  • First, they collected estimated emission amounts from inventories of the number of factories, power plants, automobiles and other contributors to sulphur dioxide emissions.
  • The researchers’ second data source was the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite, which detects a variety of atmospheric pollutants including sulphur dioxide.
[Ref: Indian Express, Economic Times]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

Southeast Asia nations to start talks with China on sea code

Southeast Asian leaders are planning to start negotiations with China on a so- called “Code of Conduct” in the disputed South China Sea in what they regard as a milestone.

  • However, China has been opposed to a legally binding code.
Note: Read IASToppers’ G.S. Slide Notes on ‘SOUTH CHINA SEA CONTROVERSY’ at here.

 

 

Science & Technology

Thin, flexible material generates electricity when stretched

Scientists have developed a thin, flexible material that generates electricity when stretched or compressed.

Piezoelectric rubber sample iastoppers
Piezoelectric rubber sample
  • The specially designed rubber is able to convert mechanical movements into electrical charges.

How it was made?

  • The rubber is a composite material made of polar nanoparticles and an elastomer – silicone in the prototype.

How it works?

  • The trick behind the generated current is the internal polarisation which changes when the rubber film is mechanically stressed.
  • This effect is used in sound pick-ups on analogue record players, for instance: the needle is guided through the grooves in the record in such a way as to generate mechanical vibrations.
  • In a piezoelectric crystal, these vibrations are converted into electrical impulses, which in turn can be amplified and transformed into sound waves.
  • For a long time, the piezoelectric effect was only known for crystals. As these are heavy and solid, the effect could only be used in certain applications.
  • However, researchers have now succeeded in giving elastomers piezoelectric properties. Nevertheless, the new material is not easy to produce.

Potential usage:

  • The discovery may pave the way for smart clothing or self-powered pacemakers.
  • It could be used to construct pressure sensors, for example If the material is compressed, an electrical impulse is produced that can be received and understood by devices.
  • It can also be used to develop a novel type of control buttons.
  • It can also be used to develop a sensitive skin for robots that can feel (pressure) touches.
  • It might also be useful in clothing to either monitor the wearer’s activities or generate electricity from their movements.
  • It also has the potential to be used to obtain energy from the human body.
  • It could power pacemakers or other implanted devices, eliminating the need for invasive operations to change the battery.
[Ref: Economic Times]

 

What humans do, cobots can too

What is a cobot?

  • Small, collaborative robots, or cobots is intended to work hand-in-hand with humans in a shared workspace.
  • This is in contrast with full-fledged robots that are designed to operate autonomously or with limited guidance.
  • They support and relieve the human operator of his excess work.

cobots-iastoppers

Benefits of Cobots:

  • Cobots are easy to use, flexible and safe.
  • Unlike industrial robots, cobots don’t need fencing for the protection of workers in the shop floor.
  • With the deployment of cobots, almost 80% of downtime gets eliminated, as per estimates. In other words, productivity gains are significant.

How cobots work?

  • For example, in an auto factory, while the the cobot tightens the bolts, the human worker places the tools in front of the cobot.
  • In a biscuit factory, the cobot would package the biscuits while the worker segregates burnt ones not fit for consumption.
  • In a small-scale industry, the cobot is placed on the drilling job while the worker performs a quality check.

Where they are mostly used?

  • The automotive sector is a large adopter of cobots. The global electronics industry is also an adopter.

Why in news?

  • Cobots, are gaining currency across the world, as also in India.
  • Several firms, be it Bajaj Auto or Aurolab, have benefited from the adoption of cobots and are planning to add more to their shop floors.

Cobots in India:

  • The first cobot arrived in India in 2011 when Bajaj Auto decided to deploy one at its shop floor.
  • The adoption of cobots has been low in India compared with China and the developed world. For every cobot sold in India, 30 are sold in China.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

UNESCO’S new chief

gettyimages-861014106-Audrey-Azoulay

  • Audrey Azoulay, France’s former culture minister, was appointed as Director General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
  • The agency’s general conference, which includes all 195 members, formally approved Ms. Azoulay’s four-year term.
  • The new Director will set priorities for UNESCO’s World Heritage program that protects cultural sites and traditions.

 

First woman President of NASSCOM

Debjani-Ghosh-iastoppers Current Affairs

  • The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) has named Debjani Ghosh its president-designate.
  • It will make her first female president global trade body representing software companies.

About NASSCOM

  • NASSCOM is global non-profit trade association (organisation) of Indian Information Technology (IT) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry.
  • It facilitates business and trade in software and services and encourages the advancement of research in software technology.
  • It is registered under the Indian Societies Act, 1860.

 

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