Government Schemes & Policies
- Government launches National Broadband Mission
- Mission on urban renewal extended by 2 yrs to 2022
Issues related to Health & Education
- U.S. firms sued for death of children in DR Congo
- Advisory on Gujarat model of delivery kicks up row
- Most packaged foods have high sugar, salt in violation to food laws- CSE study
- India 112th out of 153 countries in gender parity index
Bilateral & International Relations
- Indian peacekeepers in South Sudan receive prestigious UN medal
- World must ‘reboot’ approach to refugees, first UN Global Forum hears
Key Facts for Prelims
- Three Capitals for AP
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Government Schemes & Policies
Government launches National Broadband Mission
The government promised broadband access in all villages by 2022, as it launched the ambitious National Broadband Mission entailing stakeholder investment of Rs 7 lakhs crore in the coming years.
Objectives of National Broadband Mission
- Broadband access to all villages by 2022.
- Laying of incremental 30 lakhs route km of Optical Fiber Cable and increase in tower density from 0.42 to 1.0 tower per thousand of population by 2024.
- Develop a Broadband Readiness Index (BRI) to measure the availability of digital communications infrastructure and conducive policy ecosystem within a State/UT.
- Creation of a digital fiber map of the Digital Communications network and infrastructure, including Optical Fiber Cables and Towers, across India.
- Investment from stakeholders of USD 100 billion (Rs 7 Lakh Crore) including Rs 70,000 crore from Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
- Facilitate universal and equitable access to broadband services for across the country and especially in rural and remote areas.
- It will fast track growth of digital communications infrastructure, bridge the digital divide, facilitate digital empowerment and provide affordable and universal access of broadband for all.
- It will lay emphasis on universality, affordability and quality of services. The Centre will work with the states and UTs for having consistent policies pertaining to expansion of digital infrastructure, including for Right of Way (RoW) approvals required for laying of optical fibre cable.
Mission on urban renewal extended by 2 yrs to 2022
Unable to meet set targets for urban renewal in 500 cities, the Centre has decided to extend the mission period of its flagship initiative Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) by two more years. AMRUT was aimed at completing its mission period in March 2020.
About Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)
- AMRUT, Centrally Sponsored Scheme, was launched in 2015 for the transformation of 500 cities and towns into efficient urban living spaces.
- The total outlay for AMRUT is INR 50,000 crore for five years from 2015-16 to 2019-20. Almost 50% of the total mission outlay has been allocated to water supply sector.
- To ensure that every household has access to a tap with assured supply of water and a sewerage connection
- To increase the amenity value of cities by developing greenery
- To reduce pollution by switching to public transport or constructing facilities for non-motorized transport e.g. walking and cycling
The Mission has 5 Thrust Areas:
- Water Supply
- Sewerage and septage management
- Storm Water Drainage to reduce flooding
- Non-motorized Urban Transport
- Green space/parks
Selection Criteria for AMRUT
- All cities and towns with a population of over one lakh with notified Municipalities, including Cantonment Boards (Civilian areas)
- All capital cities/towns of states/ UTs, not covered in the above mentioned category
- All cities/ towns classified as heritage cities under the HRIDAY Scheme
- 13cities and towns on the stem of the main rivers with a population above 75,000 and less than 1 lakh
- 10 Cities from hill states, islands and tourist destinations (not more than one from each State).
Smart Cities Mission and AMRUT
The two missions that were simultaneously launched – Smart Cities Mission and AMRUT are interlinked. AMRUT adopts a project approach to ensure basic infrastructure services in 500 cities and towns. Smart Cities Mission adopts an area based approach in 100 cities with focus on core infrastructure services like: Adequate and clean Water supply, Sanitation and Solid Waste Management etc.
[Ref: Economic Times]
Issues related to Health & Education
U.S. firms sued for death of children in DR Congo
Five U.S. tech giants, including Apple, Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet, have been named in a lawsuit over the death of child labourers in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
International Rights Advocates
- International Rights Advocates promotes human rights and corporate accountability through legal advocacy and capacity building.
- IR Advocates dates back to the late 1980’s when the organization operated as the litigation department of the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF).
- Cobalt is extracted as a by-product of copper, nickel, zinc or precious metals.
- It is oxidation resistant, ferromagnetic (form permanent magnets) and conducts electricity. Cobalt is also a bio-essential element and is found in the centre of vitamin B12.
- The importance of cobalt to rechargeable batteries, electronics, catalysts, alloys and healthcare has resulted in the metal being referred to as a technology enabling element.
- DR Congo has the largest reserve of Cobalt (49%), followed by Australia (17%). Besides, major reserves are also located in Cuba (7%), Philippines, Canada, & Russia (4% each).
Cobalt in India
- Presently, there is no production of cobalt in India from primary cobalt resources. The demand for cobalt is usually met through imports.
- Two possible sources of cobalt are cobalt occurring with nickeliferous limonite/laterite in Sukinda area, Jajpur district, Odisha.
Location of Democratic Republic of Congo
- Located in Africa, Congo is shares land borders with 9 countries: Angola, Zambia, Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Sudan, Burundi, Uganda, Central African Republic.
- It is the second largest country in Africa.
- The Congo is among the most resource-rich countries on the planet, with an abundance of gold, tantalum, tungsten, and tin – all minerals used in electronics such as cell phones and laptops.
Advisory on Gujarat model of delivery kicks up row
An advisory was issued by Health Ministry to States to adopt the Gujarat model of “non-interventional approach during the final stages of labour” as the best obstetric practices, amidst -partum haemorrhage (PPH) being the leading cause of maternal mortality in India.
- However, obstetricians say the advisory runs contrary to WHO recommendations and the best of proven international advisories and this can undo all their efforts to reduce PPH and prevent mothers bleeding to death.
What is Obstetrics?
Obstetrics is the field of study concentrated on pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.
What is Postpartum haemorrhage?
- ‘Postpartum haemorrhage’ is an excessive bleeding of mother after childbirth.
- WHO-recommended strategy of ‘Active management of third stage of labour’ (AMTSL). The third stage is the time between the delivery of the baby and the expulsion of the placenta and its duration could be approximately six to 30 minutes.
- The volume of blood loss during this time depends on how long it takes the placenta to separate from the uterine wall and how effectively the uterine muscle contracts in the immediate post-partum period. However, this is crucial. Hence, in 2012, the WHO confirm the validity of AMTSL, with the use of uterotonics (drugs to contract uterus and reduce bleeding) as the best critical measure.
What is the government advisory?
- The new advisory, however, says to delay the clamping and cutting of umbilical cord till placenta separates naturally and is expelled from the uterus. And that the uterotonic oxytocin be administered only after the placenta is expelled.
- However, there is concern about delayed administration of oxytocin. Failure of uterus to contract, followed by massive haemorrhage, occurs in the third and fourth stage. (Immediate administration of oxytocin as soon as foetus is delivered contracts the uterus and helps the expulsion of placenta without blood loss).
Most packaged foods have high sugar, salt in violation to food laws- CSE study
A laboratory analysis of most packaged and fast food items sold in India has revealed high salt and fat content, in violation of thresholds set by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
- The report says that ‘Most packaged food falls into the ‘snack’ category and the RDA of this food is, therefore, a proportion of our daily intake. If we say that we have three meals and two snacks in a day, each snack must not add up to more than 10 per cent of the RDA.’
What is Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)?
- Recommended Dietary Allowance is the estimated amount of a nutrient (or calories) per day considered necessary for the maintenance of good health.
- RDA is used to understand how much of any nutrient (salt, sugar, fat) should be consumed from different meals.
- RDA suggested for Indian population is based on the reference man and reference woman. Reference man and Reference woman are defined on the basis of body weights of well-nourished healthy adults who have satisfactory growth.
Factors affecting RDA:
- In general, requirement is more for men than women.
- Adult men and women require nutrients for maintenance whereas infants and children require it for growth and maintenance. Nutrient requirements during childhood are proportional to growth rate.
- Among adults, requirements are related to body weight and size.
- During menstruation, pregnancy and lactation women require some nutrients more than the normal times.
- Requirements of sports persons and athletes who perform high levels of extreme activity are high sometimes 2-3 times the normal times.
- Sedentary person needs much less nutrients than a moderate to severely active person.
- Extremes of climate or high altitude alters the need for certain nutrients.
- In April 2018, the FSSAI had come out with the draft of ‘Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2018’ that propose mandatory red-label marking on packaged food products containing high levels of fat, sugar and salt.
- The draft was prepared by a committee headed by B Sesikeran.
Draft provisions of Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2018:
- Mandatory declaration by packaged food manufacturers about nutritional information such as calories, total fat, trans fat, sugar and salt per serve on the front of the pack.
- Prescribed the labelling requirements of pre-packaged foods and display of essential information on premises where food is manufactured, processed, served and stored.
- HFSS (high in fat, sugar or salt) food products shall not be advertised to children in any form.
- It pitches for a colour code. It says that the high fats such as sugar and salt, trans-fat and sodium content should be coloured as ‘red’, if the value of energy from total sugar or fat is more than 10 percent of the total energy in the 100 grams/ml of the product. The colour coding will make it easier for consumers to know about the nutritional value of food products and will help them make choices as per their requirements.
- All food products having total Genetically Engineered (GE) ingredients 5% or more shall be labelled.
- The nutritional information should also be provided in the form of bar code.
Criticism of Draft Notification
- Draft includes the provision for labelling food, based on thresholds. These thresholds give the amounts of fat and salt which are allowed in 100 g/ml of packaged food. Above this threshold, food has to be labelled red. However, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found that all the food that it tested needs to be marked ‘red’. This is why the food industry is opposing this notification.
- As per Draft, in the case of ‘added sugar’, the product would be labelled redi if the energy provided by the added sugar is more than 10 % of the energy provided by 100 g of the product. In the 2018 draft, the notification had used ‘sugar’ and not ‘added sugar’. The draft 2019 regulation introduces ‘added sugar’, but has taken the same threshold as the one for ‘total sugar’ of 2018 draft (50 g/day). This is clearly a compromise to appease the powerful beverage and juice industry, but will compromise health instead.
Mislabelling of transfats
- Transfats need to be completely eliminated in foods as they are indicted for heart diseases. The results show that in almost all the food CSE tested, companies have under-reported the amount of transfats in their products.
India 112th out of 153 countries in gender parity index
India has slipped to the 112th spot from its 108th position in 2018 in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2020, which covered 153 economies.
About the Global Gender Gap Report
- The Global Gender Gap Report is a flagship publication of the World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society. It is published since 2006.
- The Rreport aims to serve as a compass to track progress on relative gaps between women and men on health, eduction, economy and politics.
It benchmarks 153 countries on their progress towards gender parity in four dimensions:
- Economic Participation and Opportunity,
- Educational Attainment,
- Health and Survival and
- Political Empowerment
Highlights of Global Gender Gap Index 2020
- Globally, the average (population-weighted) distance completed to parity is at 68.6%, which is a further improvement since last edition.
- The overall global gender gap will close in 99.5 years.
- The largest gender disparity is in political empowerment. Only 25% of the 35,127 seats in parliaments around the world are occupied by women, and only 21% of the 3,343 ministers are women.
- Iceland is once again the most gender-equal country in the world for the 11th time in a row. Iceland is followed by Norway (2nd, 84.2%), Finland (3rd, 83.2%) and Sweden (4th, 82.0%).
- Two new countries: Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu are added for the first time in the raking. Yemen is ranked as the worst country in gender gap (153rd) position while Iraq is at 152nd and Pakistan is at 153rd
India related Highlights
- India ranks 112th compared to its 108th rank (in 2019 edition).
- India is the only country where the economic gender gap is larger than the political gender gap. Only one-quarter of women, compared with 82% of men, engage actively in the labour market (i.e. working or looking for work).
- Female estimated earned income is one-fifth of male income, which is also among the world’s lowest (144th). Women only account for 14% of leadership roles and 30% of professional and technical workers. I
- India ranks a low 150th on the Health and Survival sub-index, as a result of the skewed sex ratio at birth: there are 91 girls born per 100 boys born, a ratio well below the natural one.
- From primary to tertiary education, the share of women attending school is larger than the share of men. However, only twothirds of women are literate compared with 82% of men. Yet the gap has been narrowing in the past decade, because the literacy rate has significantly increased among women (66%) and slightly decreased among men to 79%.
Bilateral & International Relations
Indian peacekeepers in South Sudan receive prestigious UN medal
About 850 Indian peacekeepers serving in South Sudan have been awarded the prestigious UN medal for their service and contribution to building peace in the strife-torn nation and supporting the local communities.
About United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is the United Nations peacekeeping mission for the South Sudan, which became independent in July 2011.
Role of India in UNMISS
- Currently, more than 2,000 Indian troops are deployed with UNMISS. The Indian troops were particularly praised for their efforts to support peace talks between the government and the opposition forces in the Upper Nile region and establishing the first-ever UNMISS base on the west bank of the Nile at Kodok.
- The Indian troops serving with the UNMISS received the United Nations Medal for their dedication and sacrifice.
- Engineering troops from India serving with the UN Mission in South Sudan perform a variety of duties that help the local communities, including rehabilitating road, which will help facilitate peacekeeping operations and trade.
- A team of medical staff from the Indian field hospital and a few other volunteers are also teaching how girls to ride a bike.
What is UN Peacekeeping Operations?
- Peacekeeping by the United Nations is a role held by the Department of Peace Operations to help countries torn by conflict to create the conditions for lasting peace.
- The first two UN peacekeeping operations deployed were the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) and the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).
- India is among the largest troop contributing countries to UN peacekeeping operations.
Functions of UN peacekeeping operations
Location of South Sudan
- Located in East Africa, South Sudan is a landlocked country bordered by – clockwise – Sudan, Ethiopia Kenya, Uganda, Congo and Central African Republic.
- Until July 2011, it was part of Sudan, then the largest country in Africa before a referendum took place in January 2011.
World must ‘reboot’ approach to refugees, first UN Global Forum hears
More must be done to protect refugees, respect their rights and address the reasons why people leave their homes in the first place, UN Secretary-General told the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva, meeting for the first time. In this meeting, Switzerland commits $125 million over four years to refugee protection.
First ever Global Refugee Forum
- The first ever Global Refugee Forum was held at Geneva, Switzerland. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is co-hosting the Forum together with Switzerland.
- The aim of the Forum is to generate new approaches and long-term commitments from a variety of actors to help refugees.
About Global Compact on Refugees
- In December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly affirmed the Global Compact on Refugees.
- The compact aims to i) Ease the pressures on host countries; ii) Enhance refugee self-reliance; iii) Expand access to third-country solutions; and iv) Support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.
There are 25.4 million refugees around the world, and 85 per cent of them are hosted in low and middle-income countries.[Ref: Indian Express]
Key Facts for Prelims
Three Capitals for AP
- Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh hinted that Andhra Pradesh could have three Capitals on the lines of the ones in the Republic of South Africa (RSA).
- RSA has three capitals — Pretoria (administrative Capital), Cape Town (legislative capital) and Blomemfontein (judicial capital).
- He says, Visakhapatnam, which has infrastructure, could be executive capital, while Amaravati could be legislative capital and Kurnool can be considered as the judiciary capital.