Polity & Governance
- Govt to launch climate vulnerability map of India soon
- 12th tranche of electoral bonds to be issued from Oct 1
Issues related to Health & Education
- Government planning to revive Penicillin to fight rheumatic fever
- NITI Aayog releases School Education Quality Index (SEQI)
- Obesity and undernutrition coexist, finds study
- Government announces dates for further tranches of Sovereign Gold Bond sale
- Govt to launch enterprise development centres for MSMEs in all districts
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Bihar flood: National Crisis Management Committee reviews situation
Art & Culture
- Festivals of Telangana
Science & Technology
- Scientists excavate ‘ancient river’ in Uttar Pradesh
Key Facts for Prelims
- What’s in a Galo name? A pointer to ancestors
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Polity & Governance
Govt to launch climate vulnerability map of India soon
A pan India climate vulnerability assessment map is being developed to meet the challenge arising out of climate change.
About the vulnerability map
- The map is being developed under a joint project of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the Union Ministry of Science and Technology and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
- Such climate vulnerability map has already been developed for 12 states in the Indian Himalayan Region. Now, it will be extended to non-Himalayan states.
- The map will have details up to the district level as vulnerability within a state may differ from one region or district to another.
- A common set of indicators will be used for vulnerability profile all over the country. This is critical for comparison and for planning adaptation strategies. It also helps in identifying what makes a state or district vulnerable to climate change.
- The atlas is expected to be ready by the 2020.
Common set of indicators for vulnerability profile
- Climate change research programme of Department of Science and Technology is being implemented as part of the National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE) and National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change (NMSKCC).
- This projects uses the socio-economic and demographic climate vulnerability factors such as: population density; percentage marginal farmers; livestock to human ratio; per capita income; number of primary healthcare centres; and percentage of women in the overall workforce.
- Similarly, sensitivity of agricultural production is captured by indicators like percentage area under irrigation; yield variability; and percentage area under horticulture crops.
- Mizoram has launched a state wide public awareness campaign on the basis of the assessment, while West Bengal has developed a decision support system for prioritizing springshed management project sites using the climate vulnerability map as an input.
- Climate risk is interplay of hazard, exposure and vulnerability. There is a rise in climate-sensitive livelihood of people. While the occurrence of natural hazards such as landslides, droughts and floods is projected to go up, their impact depends on the level of exposure such as presence of people and infrastructure in areas. Hence a common methodology for assessing vulnerability is critical for comparison and for planning adaptation strategies.
- Addressing vulnerability can help reduce risk to climate change. It also helps in identifying what makes a state or district vulnerable to climate change.
- The vulnerability assessments will be useful for officials, decision makers, funding agencies and experts to have a common understanding on vulnerability and enable them to plan for adaptation.
12th tranche of electoral bonds to be issued from Oct 1
Ahead of Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, the government announced issuance of 12th tranche of electoral bonds that could be used to make donations to political parties.
What are Electoral bonds?
- Electoral bonds are bearer instrument in nature of promissory note and an interest-free banking instrument.
- These can be redeemed only through the registered accounts of a political party in a prescribed time frame.
- It aims at rooting out current system of largely anonymous cash donations made to political parties which lead to generation of black money in the economy.
- Electoral bonds can be purchased for any value in multiples of Rs.1,000, Rs.10,000, Rs.10 lakh, and Rs.1 crore only from State Bank of India (SBI).
Who can purchase?
- A citizen of India or a body incorporated in India will be eligible to purchase the bond.
- The purchaser is allowed to buy electoral bonds only on due fulfilment of all extant KYC norms and by making payment from a bank account. It will not carry the name of the payee.
- In essence, the donor and the party details will be available with the bank, but the political party might not be aware of who the donor is.
Eligibility of Political parties
- Every party that is registered under section 29A of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and has secured at least one per cent of the votes polled in the most recent Lok Sabha or State election will be allotted a verified account by the Election Commission of India. Electoral bond transactions can be made only via this account.
- It will have a life of 15 days during which they can be used to make donations to registered political parties.
- The electoral bonds will be available for purchase for a period of 10 days each in months of January, April, July and October with additional 30 days to be specified by Central government in year of general election so that this does not become a parallel currency.
Concerns related to the conventional system of political funding
- The conventional system of political funding is to rely on donations. These donations, big or small, come from a range of sources from political workers, sympathisers, small business people and even large industrialists.
- The conventional practice of funding the political system was to take donations in cash and undertake these expenditures in cash.
- The sources are anonymous or pseudonymous. The quantum of money was never disclosed.
- The present system ensures unclean money coming from unidentifiable sources. It is a wholly non-transparent system.
Why Electoral Bonds are necessary?
- Elections and political parties are a fundamental feature of Parliamentary democracy.
- Elections cost money. The round the year functioning of the political parties involves a large expenditure. Parties run offices throughout the country. Staff salaries, travelling expenses, establishment cost are regular expenditures of political parties. There has not been a single year where election either for the Parliament or State Assemblies have not been held.
- Besides expenditure of individual candidates, political parties have to spend money on election campaigns, publicity, tours, travels and election related establishments. These expenditures run into hundreds of crores. Yet there has not been a transparent funding mechanism of the political system.
Issues related to Health & Education
Government planning to revive Penicillin to fight rheumatic fever
The government is planning on the revival of Penicillin in a bid to fight against drug resistance and to tackle rheumatic heart disease.
Government’s effort to revive penicillin
- Penicillin in many western countries still remains the first antibiotic. Yet in India, it has almost gone out of the market because the prices were kept so low that manufacturers stopped making the
- Hence, government is now planning to procure penicillin centrally for three years and give it to all children between 5-15 years who have a sore throat, at least once.
- The drug will be dispensed through primary health centres or administered by ASHAs.
- Penicillin is still effective in many cases as not many organisms have developed resistance to it yet. It is still the first line antibiotic in many western countries
- Penicillin is the cheapest option for rheumatic fever treatment.
About Rheumatic fever
- Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease that can develop as a complication of inadequately treated strep throat or scarlet fever.
- Rheumatic heart disease is a complication of rheumatic fever in which the heart valves are damaged.
- It is triggered by a streptococcal bacterial infection.
- It can affect connective tissue throughout the body, especially in the heart, joints, brain and skin.
- Although rheumatic fever can strike people of all ages, it is most common in children between 5 and 15 years old.
Rheumatic fever in India
- Rheumatic fever is endemic in India and remains one of the major causes of cardiovascular disease, accounting for nearly 25-45% of acquired heart disease.
- Every two persons out of 1000 has rheumatic heart disease. However, surveys conducted in school children in the age group of 5-16 years gives overall prevalence of 6 students per 1000.
- Penicillins are a group of antibacterial drugs that attack a wide range of bacteria.
- Discovered in 1928 by Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming, Penicillins were the first antibiotic that doctors used.
- Drugs in the penicillin work by indirectly destroying the bacterial cell walls.
NITI Aayog releases School Education Quality Index (SEQI)
Kerala has emerged on top among 20 large states in terms of quality of school education, followed by Rajasthan and Karnataka, while the most-populous Uttar Pradesh was ranked at the bottom position during 2016-17, according to SEQI report released by the NITI Aayog.
Highlights of the SEQI Report
- Of the 20 Large States, 10 perform better on the Outcomes category, with the most noticeable performance differences observed in the cases of Karnataka, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. The 3 Large States with the most noticeable performance differences in the Governance Processes Aiding Outcomes are Odisha, Punjab and Haryana.
- Of the eight Small States, seven perform better on the Outcomes category, with the most noticeable performance differences observed in the cases of Manipur, Tripura and Goa. Sikkim is the only Small State that performs better on the Governance Processes Aiding Outcomes category.
- All seven UTs have shown an improvement in their overall performance scores. Of the seven UTs, four perform better on the Outcomes category, with the most noticeable performance differences observed in Dadra & Nagar Haveli. Delhi, Daman & Diu and Lakshadweep perform better on the Governance Processes Aiding Outcomes category.
About the SEQI
- School Education Quality Index (SEQI) was developed by NITI Aayog to evaluate the performance of States and Union Territories (UTs) in the school education sector.
- The index aims to bring an ‘outcomes’ focus to education policy by providing States and UTs with a platform to identify their strengths and weaknesses and undertake requisite course corrections or policy interventions.
- It is developed by Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD), the World Bank and sector experts.
- SEQI also included an analysis of States and Union Territories for each indicator under study. For instance, indicators such as average score in Class 3, 5 and 8 for Language and Mathematics, Transition Rates from primary to upper-primary level, capturing equity in learning outcomes between general and marginalised sections of society etc.
- SEQI used 2016-17 as the reference year and 2015-16 as the base year.
- The index consists of 30 critical indicators that assess the delivery of quality education.
The index was divided into two broad categories:
Category 1: Outcomes
- Learning outcomes
- Access outcomes
- Infrastructure and facilities for outcomes
- Equity outcomes
Category 2: Governance processes aiding outcomes
Factors affecting the SEQI
- States’ and UTs’ performance on Learning Outcomes is driven by their results on the National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2017.
- Their performance on Access Outcomes is primarily driven by enrolment ratios at the secondary level and transition rates from upper-primary to secondary level.
- In terms of Infrastructure & Facilities for Outcomes, States’ and UTs’ performance is strongly linked to the presence of Computer Aided-Learning (CAL) at the elementary level and vocational education at the secondary and senior-secondary level.
Obesity and undernutrition coexist, finds study
The first-ever national nutrition survey conducted by the Centre, yet to be made public, provided for the first time hard evidence of the coexistence of obesity and undernutrition, among school going children.
Highlights of first-ever National Nutrition Survey
- 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.
- Tamil Nadu and Goa had the highest number of adolescents who were obese or overweight.
About the National Nutrition Survey
- The National Nutrition Survey was conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and UNICEF between February 2016 and October 2018.
- It measured malnutrition, including micronutrient deficiencies through biochemical measures such as blood and urine samples, anthropometric data as well as details of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol and kidney function in children and adolescents.
About United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016–2025)
- The UN Decade of Action on Nutrition is a commitment by United Nations Member countries to undertake 10 years of sustained implementation of policies and increased investments to eliminate malnutrition in all its forms.
- It was proclaimed in April 2016 following the recommendations of the International Conference on Nutrition Framework (ICN2) for Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- It is being led by WHO and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with the World Food Programme, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the United Nations Children’s Fund.
- Creating sustainable, resilient food systems for healthy diets;
- Providing social protection and nutrition-related education for all;
- Aligning health systems to nutrition needs, and providing universal coverage of essential nutrition interventions;
- Ensuring that trade and investment policies improve nutrition;
- Building safe and supportive environments for nutrition at all ages; and
- Strengthening and promoting nutrition governance and accountability, everywhere.
- September 2019 is being observed as Poshan Maah or Nutrition month.
Government announces dates for further tranches of Sovereign Gold Bond sale
The Central Government has announced the dates for the launch of further tranches of its sovereign gold bond (SGB) scheme for FY20, in six tranches, from October 2019 through March 2020.
- The Bonds will be sold through Scheduled Commercial banks (except Small Finance Banks and Payment Banks), Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), designated post offices, and recognized stock exchanges viz., National Stock Exchange of India Limited and Bombay Stock Exchange Limited.
About Sovereign Gold Bond (SGB) Scheme
- Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme was launched by Govt in November 2015, under Gold Monetisation Scheme.
- SGBs are government securities denominated in grams of gold. They are substitutes for holding physical gold.
- The main objective of the scheme was to develop a financial asset as an alternative to purchasing metal gold.
- Investors have to pay the issue price in cash and the bonds will be redeemed in cash on maturity.
- The Bond is issued by Reserve Bank on behalf of Government of India.
- The bonds are denominated in multiples of gram(s) of gold with a basic unit of 1 gram. The tenor is for a period of 8 years with exit option from the 5th year to be exercised on the interest payment dates.
- The minimum permissible investment limit is 1 gram of gold, while the maximum limit is 4 kg for individual.
- Bonds can be used as collateral for loans.
- Persons resident in India as defined under Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 are eligible to invest in SGB. Eligible investors include individuals, Hindu Undivided Family (HUFs), trusts, universities, charitable institutions, etc.
- Attractive Interest with asset appreciation opportunity
- Redemption is linked to Gold Price
- Elimination of risk and cost of storage
- Exempt from Capital gains tax, if held till maturity
Govt to launch enterprise development centres for MSMEs in all districts
Union micro, small and medium enterprises sector (MSME) minister will launch enterprise development centres (EDCs) that have been in the planning stages for two years.
Features of enterprise development centres (EDCs)
- Similar to incubators for startups aimed at developing a cadre of indigenous entrepreneurs.
- Will help new and existing businesses develop by providing services such as management training and office space.
- Will offer enterprise development courses, vocational guidance and skill development for budding entrepreneurs.
- Would also aim to plug the financial difficulties faced by MSMEs.
- Incentives and loans by the government for the sector will flow through the EDCs.
- Would offer credit facilitation and syndication, export promotion and supplier inclusion.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Bihar flood: National Crisis Management Committee reviews situation
The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) met to review the prevailing flood situation in Bihar and directed that immediate assistance be provided to meet the crisis.
National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC)
- A National Crisis Management Committee is a committee set up by the Government of India in the wake of a natural calamity for effective coordination and implementation of relief measures and operations.
- On the constitution of such a committee of the Cabinet, the Agriculture Secretary shall provide all necessary information to and seek directions of the Cabinet Committee in all matters concerning relief.
- In the absence of such a Cabinet Committee, all matter relating to relief shall be reported to the Cabinet Secretary.
- The NCMC gives direction to the Crisis Management Group as deemed necessary.
The composition of the Committee:
- Cabinet Secretary as Chairman
- Secretary to Prime Minister as a Member
- Secretary (Home Affairs) Member
- Secretary (MCD) Member
- Director (Intelligence Bureau) Member
- Secretary (R&AW) Member
- Secretary (Agri & Coopn.) Co-opted Member
- An officer of Cabinet Secretariat.
Art & Culture
Festivals of Telangana
- Bathukamma: It is celebrated by women, with flowers that grow exclusively in each region. Batukamma celebrates the inherent relationship between earth, water and man. Every year this festival is celebrated as per Telugu version of Hindu calendar in the Bhadrapada Amavasya, also known as Mahalaya Amavasya, usually in September–October of Gregorian calendar. In Telugu, ‘Bathukamma’ means ‘Mother Goddess come Alive’. It is the state festival of Telangana.
- Vijayadashami: Also known as Dussehra or Navaratri is an important Hindu festival celebrated in Telangana.
- Bonalu: It is a Hindu Festival where Goddess Mahakali is worshiped. It is an annual festival celebrated in Telangana state, especially in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. The festival falls during Ashada Masam in July/August.
- Ramadan: The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is observed by Muslim in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana. The biggest congregation is witnessed at the historic Mecca Masjid near Charminar.
- Peerla Panduga: It is also known as Muharram. During this occasion, a relic called Alam is taken out as a procession. Ashurkhana, representing a group of Sufi Shrines, is the area where the procession takes place. Many Muslims and even Hindus take part in this festival by chanting Ya Hussain.
Various Tribal festivals of Telangana
- Sammakka Saralamma Jatara (Medaram Jatara)
- Komuravelli Mallanna Jaathara
- Nagoba Jaatara
- Sri Kurumurthy Swamy Jathara
- Sri Kurumurthy Swamy Jathara
- Prataparudra Singaraaya Jaatara
- Inavolu (Iloni) Mallanna Jaatara
Science & Technology
Scientists excavate ‘ancient river’ in Uttar Pradesh
The Union Water Ministry an ancient river in Prayagraj that linked the Ganga and Yamuna rivers.
- The Union Water Ministry has excavated an old, dried-up river in Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad) that linked the Ganga and Yamuna rivers.
- The aim is to develop it as a potential groundwater recharge source.
- This 45 km long buried paleochannel joins the Yamuna river at Durgapur village, near the current Ganga-Yamuna confluence at Prayagraj.
- The genesis of the palaeochannel’s discovery followed a 2016 report of a committee, commissioned by the Water Resources Ministry which concluded that mythological Saraswati river did indeed exist.
What is palaeochannel?
- Palaeochannels are old rivers which were dried up due to various geological and climatological factors in the past.
Key Facts for Prelims
What’s in a Galo name? A pointer to ancestors
An ethnic group in Arunachal Pradesh can tell who started its clan by their system of naming.
How can Galo community can trace the name of their ancestors?
- Galos maintain genealogy through given names.
- Galo people have a system of prefixing the second syllable of a father’s name to that of a son, who passes on the suffix in his name to his son. They can trace the names of ancestors from the first syllable or prefix of their names.
About Galo community
- The Galos are one of the 26 major communities of Arunachal Pradesh.
- They belong to the Tani group inhabiting Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, besides Tibet.
- They trace their common origin to a primeval ancestor,
- They mostly live in West Siang, Lepa Rada and Lower Siang districts. They have a big population in East Siang, Upper Subansiri and Namsai districts too.