Issues related to Health & Education
- GM cotton grown in 8.5 lakh ha, illegal market is Rs 472 crore
- IISc & IIT Bombay among world’s top 200 for engineering
- Umbrella road project Bharatmala to be launched soon
- Jaipur, Srinagar top ranked airports in small aerodrome category in ACI-ASQ Survey
Key Facts for Prelims
- 2017 Man Booker Prize
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Issues related to Health & Education
GM cotton grown in 8.5 lakh ha, illegal market is Rs 472 crore
According to a Delhi-based non-profit organisation South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC), the illegal market of the herbicide tolerant (HT) genetically modified cotton is worth about Rs 472 crore.
- As per the SABC, about 35 lakh packets of illegal HT cotton hybrids were sold this kharif season across Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra, Odisha, Karnataka and MP.
- Around 8.5 lakh hectares, or 7% of the total cotton growing area in the country, is under the illegal HT cultivation.
- Though HT cotton is being grown in Brazil, USA and some countries from 1998, it has not been technically and officially approved in India so far.
What is a Genetically modified crop?
Genetically modified crops (GMCs, GM crops, or biotech crops) are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering techniques.
- In most cases, the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species.
- Examples in food crops include resistance to certain pests, diseases, or environmental conditions, reduction of spoilage, or resistance to chemical treatments (e.g. resistance to a herbicide), or improving the nutrient profile of the crop.
- Examples in non-food crops include production of pharmaceutical agents, biofuels, and other industrially useful goods, as well as for bioremediation.
- Potential benefits of GM plants include higher crop yields, reduced farm costs, increased farm profit, improvement in health and the environment.
- Potential risks of GM plants include the potential for pests to evolve resistance to the toxins produced by GM crops, the danger of unintentionally introducing allergens and other anti-nutrition factors in foods, the likelihood of transgenes escaping from cultivated crops into wild relatives, the risk of these toxins affecting non-target organisms.
What is Bt cotton?
- Bt cotton, is a transgenic plant which produces an insect controlling protein Cry1A(c).
- The gene has been derived from the naturally occurring bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis.
- The cotton hybrids containing Bt gene produces its own toxin. The toxin is effective in killing bollworms, which are the most potent pest affecting cotton plants.
- Thus they significantly reduce chemical insecticide use and provide benefit to cotton growers and the environment.
Its usage in India:
- Official approval of Bt Cotton was granted in March 2002, thus Bt Cotton became the first GM crop approved in India.
- Introduction of Bt cotton revolutionized the production of cotton in India since 2002. But since 2008, yield increase has been stagnating.
IISc & IIT Bombay among world’s top 200 for engineering
As per Times Higher Education subject-wise rankings, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore and IIT Bombay are among the world’s top 200 institutions for engineering and computer science.
- TIMES rankings scored 500 institutions worldwide, as opposed to 100 last year, on performance parameters such as industry income, international outlook, teaching and research.
- It highlights the educational institutions that are leading in electrical, mechanical, civil, chemical and general engineering courses.
Performance of various institutions:
- While India has a total of eleven institutions in the rankings, China has 35 institutions, which is more than any other country in Asia.
- While IISc occupied the 89th spot, IIT Bombay was pegged in the 126- 150 category, globally.
- IITs in Delhi, Kanpur and Kharagpur were placed in the 201-250 band, in that order, and IIT Madras and IIT Roorkee in the 251 – 300 category.
- IIT Guwahati was among institutes in the 301 – 400 ranks and Jadavpur University, NIT Rourkela and Tezpur University were pegged in the 401 to 500 band.
- China’s Peking University and National University of Singapore are among the top ten and top performers from Asia.
- Overall, Stanford University is number one, followed by California institute of Technology, Oxford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cambridge University.
Umbrella road project Bharatmala to be launched soon
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is set to get the power to approve projects with a construction cost of more than Rs 1,000 crore to ensure faster implementation of the Bharatmala programme.
- Under the proposal, only public private partnership (PPP) projects under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model, where viability gap funding (VGF) is to be provided by the government, will need CCEA clearance.
- Currently, all highway projects that entail a construction cost of more than Rs 1,000 crore, excluding land, need to be approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
What is Bharatmala Project?
Bharat Mala Project is an ambitious road development initiative under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
- It has been envisaged as an umbrella program that will subsume unfinished projects of National Highways Development Project (NHDP).
- The project, involving the construction of 24,000 kilometres of new highways, is aimed at speeding up cargo movement and the development of multimodal logistics hubs and parks on the periphery of major commercial centres.
- Networking of identified economic corridors (so far 44 economic corridors were identified) with high quality roads is the chief feature of Bharatmala.
- Besides, the coastal areas and the hinterland areas will be connected through national highways.
- The project includes construction of feeder routes alongside national highways.
- Around 80 per cent of Bharatmala will be based on a government funded, engineering procurement and construction (EPC) model while the rest will be a hybrid-annuity public private partnership.
- The Bharatmala corridors have been mapped based on traffic density and economic relevance of the cities that will be connected with the help of the Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geo-informatics.
Jaipur, Srinagar top ranked airports in small aerodrome category in ACI-ASQ Survey
The Jaipur and Srinagar Airport are ranked First and Second respectively in the category of 2-5 million passengers in ACI-ASQ Survey.
- This is for the second consecutive time that Jaipur Airport has been rated the Best Airport in the World in the traffic volume of 2 to 5 million passengers per year.
- Jaipur was ranked as the Best Airport in the World catering to a traffic volume of 2 to 5 million passengers per year in 2016 also.
About Airports Council International (ACI):
- Airports Council International (ACI) is the only global trade representative of the world’s airports.
- Established in 1991, ACI represents airports interests with Governments and international organizations such as ICAO.
- It develops standards, policies and recommended practices for airports, and provides information and training opportunities to raise standards around the world.
About ASQ awards:
The Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards are the aviation industry’s most prestigious accolades.
- The awards recognize the airports which have achieved the highest passenger satisfaction ratings in the ASQ Survey – the world’s benchmark measure of airport excellence.
- It is the only worldwide programme to survey passengers at the airports on their day of travel.
- Every year, the programme delivers some 600,000 individual surveys in 41 languages in 84 countries. It measures passengers’ views on 34 key performance indicators, including airport access, check-in, security screening, restrooms, stores and restaurants.
- Each airport uses the exact same survey, creating an industry database that allows airports to compare themselves to other airports around the world.
- The ASQ programme also has a feature that facilitates sharing of best practices among airport operators.
Key Facts for Prelims
2017 Man Booker Prize
- US author George Saunders became only the second American writer to win Britain’s renowned Man Booker Prize, which was awarded for his first full-length novel Lincoln in the Bardo.
- Launched in 1969, the Man Booker Prize is the world’s most prestigious English-language literary award. It was presented by the Man Group.
- The award aims at promoting the finest literary work in fiction by rewarding the best novel of the year written in English and published in the United Kingdom.
- It carries cash prize of 50,000 pounds.
- The 2015 Man Booker Prize was conferred on Jamaican author Marlon James for his book A Brief History of Seven Killings.
- The 2016 Man Booker Prize was conferred on US author Paul Beatty for his racial satirical novel ‘The Sellout’. He was the first US author to win this prestigious literary award.