Polity & Governance
- 2016 Global Hunger Index (GHI)
- Who will regulate pension products?
- CERC panel suggests overhaul in transmission planning
Environment & Ecology
- Nagaland, Manipur cheer as Amur falcons arrive
Science & Technology
- NASA’s ‘electric bandage’ to speed up wound healing
Polity & Governance
2016 Global Hunger Index (GHI)
According to recently released the 2016 Global Hunger Index (GHI), Hunger levels in developing countries may have fallen 29% since 2000, but India was still rated as a country with ‘serious’ hunger levels in the 2016.
About the report:
- The report is released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
- The hunger index ranks countries based on undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting (low weight for height) and child stunting (low height for age).
- This year’s report hails a new paradigm of international development proposed in the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which envisages Zero Hunger by 2030.
- The GHI ranks countries on a 100-point scale. Zero is the best score (no hunger), and 100 is the worst, although neither of these extremes is reached in practice.
Highlights of the Global Hunger Index:
- The Central African Republic, Chad, and Zambia had the highest levels of hunger in the report.
- Seven countries had alarming levels of hunger, while 43 countries including high-population countries like India, Nigeria and Indonesia had serious hunger levels.
- No developing countries were in the extremely alarming category.
- Regionally, Africa South of the Sahara has the highest hunger level, followed closely by South Asia.
- The report says if hunger declines at the same rate as it has since 1992, more than 45 countries including India, Pakistan, Haiti, Yemen, and Afghanistan will still have moderate to alarming hunger scores in 2030.
- India is ranked at 97th and Pakistan at 107th. All other Asian neighbours did relatively better- China (29), Nepal (72), Myanmar (75), Sri Lanka (84) and Bangladesh (90).
- India’s GHI score of 28.5 is worse than the developing country average score of 21.3.
- Although India runs two of the world’s biggest children’s nutrition programmes, the ICDS for children under 6 years and the mid-day meal programme for school going kids up to the age of 14, still malnutrition continues to haunt India.
Who will regulate pension products?
The Finance Ministry has set up a high-level committee to consolidate the regulation of pension products that is currently being done by three different watchdogs including the insurance and stock market regulators.
Composition of the committee:
The committee will be formed by the Department of Financial Services, would have representatives from all financial sector regulators —
- Security Exchange Board of India (SEBI),
- Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA),
- Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and
- Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA).
Aim of the committee:
- The aim of the committee is to look into the issue of bringing these companies which are offering pension plans under the purview of Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority.
Need for consolidation:
Pension product regulation is piecemeal in India.
- While the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) was set up with the intent of regulating all pension products, insurers and mutual funds continue to sell pension products outside its watch, creating confusion among consumers looking to build a retirement nest egg.
- Currently, pension products floated by insurance companies come under the purview of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) while those sold by mutual funds are overseen by the SEBI.
- The Centre has asked the committee to look into the issue of bringing all those companies which are offering pension plans under the purview of PFRDA.
The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) is a pension regulatory authority which was established in 2003.
- It is authorized by Ministry of Finance, Department of Financial Services.
- It promotes old age income security by establishing, developing and regulating pension funds and protects the interests of subscribers to schemes of pension funds and related matters.
- It is also responsible for appointment of various intermediate agencies such as Central Record Keeping Agency (CRA), Pension Fund Managers, Custodian, NPS Trustee Bank, etc.
CERC panel suggests overhaul in transmission planning
The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) appointed committee has submitted its recommendations.
- It was headed by power system expert Mata Prasad.
- The committee has suggested an overhaul in transmission planning to facilitate transfer of power on economic principles.
- It must be aligned to meet customer aspirations as opposed to existing system where transmission is associated with long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs).
- It can be done basis of projected load of states and anticipated generation scenario based on economic principles of merit order operation.
- The transmission system may be planned by the central transmission utility (CTU) based on estimated capacity additions in perspective plan and renewable purchase obligations of each state.
- To promote the power market, transmission corridor allocation must be done suitably made. 5% of each flow gate may be reserved for day-ahead collective transactions.
- This flow gate may be released for contingency market in case of non-utilisation of corridor by power exchanges. The percentage of reservation may be reviewed after 1 year of operation.
- They must be carried out for various generation and load scenarios during peak and off-peak hours. It should also consider renewable capacity addition and scheduling of various generating stations that don’t have any PPAs.
Central repository of generators:
- The committee has emphasised the need for the creation of a central repository of generators in the Central Electricity Authority of India (CEA). In this case any generation project developer proposing to set up a new generation plant must register itself.
Accurate demand forecasting:
- Hand-holding of states by CEA and CTU for accurate demand forecasting. States must procure software for short-term, medium-term and long-term demand forecasting.
Environment & Ecology
Nagaland, Manipur cheer as Amur falcons arrive
Thousands of Amur falcons, small birds of prey that undertake one of the longest migrations have started arriving in Wokha district in Nagaland and Tamenglong district of Manipur.
- Wokha district is a declared second home of the Amur falcons.
About Amur falcons:
- The Amur falcon is a small raptor of the falcon family.
- It breeds in south-eastern Siberia and Northern China before migrating in large flocks across India and over the Arabian Sea to winter in Southern Africa.
- It was earlier treated as a subspecies of the red-footed falcon and known as the eastern red-footed falcon.
- The wide breeding range and large population size of the Amur falcon have led to the species being assessed as being of least concern.
- Of the 69 species of raptors known from India, Amur Falcon was one of the least talked about species till recently.
- Primarily recorded from northeast India, with a few scattered sight records in peninsular India, the species is generally considered rare.
In 2012, mass trapping and capture of migrating Amur falcons in Nagaland (India) was reported in the media and a successful campaign was begun to prevent their killing.[Ref: The Hindu, TOI]
Science & Technology
NASA’s ‘electric bandage’ to speed up wound healing
The NASA has developed a new high-tech electroactive bandage that uses electricity to significantly promote healing of injured wounds.
- The material, called Polyvinylidene Flouride (PVDF) has numerous possible applications, including wound healing.
How will it be helpful in space?
- The high-tech bandage creates an electric charge to promote the healing process of wounds in space especially in conditions of non-Earth gravity.
- In conditions of non-Earth gravity, human blood displays quite different behaviour from that on Earth.
- In case of injury in space, wounds heal more slowly Considering the survival risks due to injury and the cost of space missions, healing wounds as fast as possible is crucial.
How it heals the wounds?
- The electroactive bandage uses a new material called polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) which can be stimulated by pressure of cell growth and body heat.
- The new material generates a small amount of electricity when interacts with another surface, including human skin.
- When this electroactive bandage is applied to an external wound site, it utilises low level electrical stimulation to promote wound healing.
- The bandage speeds the wound’s healing process and minimises infection and related complications such as amputation or illness.
- This bandage could be used by astronauts in space, military personnel wounded in field, patients who have undergone surgery or who have suffered a serious wound.