- Widespread lack of HIV awareness in Indian adults: NFHS4 data
- Global Talent Competitiveness Index: India slips to 89th rank
Environment & Ecology
- New class of frogs found in the north-east
- Cabinet approves policy on Promotion of City Compost
Science & Technology
- ISRO successfully launches India’s fifth navigation satellite IRNSS-1E
- Photonics to drive terabit chips
Widespread lack of HIV awareness in Indian adults: NFHS4 data
The latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data findings, released by the Health Ministry, reveal widespread ignorance about HIV/AIDS among adults in India.
- According to the latest data, nearly 82 per cent women and nearly 70 per cent men — in the 13 States surveyed under phase 1 of NFHS4 — lacked comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS and safe sex practices.
- The pattern is, worryingly, seen even in high burden States with the most drastic fall coming from Andhra Pradesh.
- As per the NFHS4 data, only 56% men and 29% women know about HIV — a staggering fall from a 2005 data when 93% in men and 74% in women in the State had comprehensive knowledge.
- With a prevalence of 0.59%, Andhra Pradesh shoulders the third highest HIV burden in India — way above the national average of 0.35%.
- A comparison with NFHS3 revealed that while 45% men had ‘heard of’ HIV in 2005 (across the 13 States for which partial data has been released), only 30% currently are aware of the disease. For women, the figure fell from 24% in 2005 to 18% in 2016.
The Ministry has, historically, relied heavily on IEC activities, since prevention is the only key method of curbing and reversing the epidemic.
Global Talent Competitiveness Index: India slips to 89th rank
According to the annual Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTC), released by INSEAD business school in partnership with Adecco Group and the Human Capital Leadership Institute of Singapore, India has slipped 11 places to rank 89th on a global index of talent competitiveness.
- It is released every year on the first day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting.
- Reflecting an acute shortage of skilled labour force and difficult business conditions, India’s ranking is worst among the five BRICS countries, with China leading the pack with a global rank of 48.
- Last year, India was ranked 78th on the index that measures a nation’s competitiveness based on the quality of talent it can produce, attract and retain.
- According to the report, in India, there are no signs of an improved regulatory and market landscape to enable the ‘Make in India’ campaign.
India and China:
- In both China and India skill shortage in vocational talent shows up clearly in the GTCI scores, as it also does in South Africa.
- Stating that India and China remain a net exporter of talent, the study said many emerging countries that have invested in higher education have neglected vocational education.
- According to the report, another challenge for countries such as China and India is to attract talent from abroad, particularly in the context of large emigration rates of high-skilled people in the past.
- China has a low performance in terms of Attract (71st), and India shows one of the worst scores (103rd) – particularly affected by the lack of international students and, unlike China, by not being able to attract and retain global talent (so being more at risk of a brain drain despite the connection with the diasporas working the IT sector).
- A list has been topped by Switzerland. Switzerland is followed by Singapore, Luxembourg, the US and Denmark in the top five positions.
- It noted that this is particularly the case in Brazil, where talent capabilities show signs of weakening on all fronts despite relatively low scores in vocational skills, China continues to strengthen in growing talent.
- According to the report, last year has seen a cooling off in the growth of emerging markets, and indeed we note the relative decline in the talent competitiveness of all BRICS countries except Russia.
- The gap in terms of vocational skills, however, is not limited to BRICs and emerging economies: GTCI data shows that it extends to a number of high-income countries, such as Ireland, Belgium or Spain.
Environment & Ecology
New class of frogs found in the north-east
A new class of frogs that grow in tree holes and, as tadpoles feed on eggs laid by their mother have been discovered in the north-east region, according to an international team of researchers led by a Delhi University-based scientist.
- In the last two decades, India has reported a rapid rise in the discovery of frog species from the Western Ghats and, more recently, the north-eastern States.
- The new frog, reported in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS One, has been christened Frankixalus Jerdonii and was once considered a species lost to science.
- “This genus remained unnoticed by researchers probably because of its secretive life in tree holes.
- He said he had first found these frogs in 2005 during explorations in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, among other places, but had taken a decade to publish about them because of the complexities involved in ensuring that it was indeed an entirely new genus and not merely a known species.
- Frogs of the newly described genus Frankixalus, were relatively large (between 37–50 mm long) with big, bulging eyes and blunt snouts and are found on forest canopies and inside bamboos slits.
- Due to insufficient food resources in tree holes, the mother exhibits “remarkable parental care” by laying unfertilised eggs to feed her tadpoles.
Tree frogs occur across sub-Saharan Africa, China, much of tropical Asia, Japan, the Philippines and Sulawesi.
Cabinet approves policy on Promotion of City Compost
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for a Policy on Promotion of City Compost.
- Under the policy, a provision has been made for Market development assistance of Rs. 1500 per tonne of city compost for scaling up production and consumption of the product. Market development assistance would lower MRP of city compost for farmers.
- Eco-Mark standard for City Compost would ensure that environment friendly quality product reaches the farmers.
- Fertilizer companies and marketing entities will also co-market City Compost with chemical fertilizers through their dealers’ network. The companies will also adopt villages for promoting the use of compost.
- Government Departments and Public Sector undertakings will also use City Compost for their horticulture and related uses.
- Concerned Ministry/Department will carry out IEC campaigns to educate farmers on the benefits of city compost and will take steps to increase setting up of compost plants across all States.
- The Agricultural Extension Machineries including KVKs of ICAR will also make special efforts in this regard..
- A joint mechanism will be set up by Department of Fertilizers, Ministry of Urban Development and Department of Agriculture to monitor and facilitate availability of adequate quantity of City Compost at terms mutually agreeable between compost manufacturers and Fertilizer Marketing companies. They will also be authorised to resolve any co-ordination related issue that may arise.
- Initially, marketing and promotion of city compost is proposed to be done through the existing fertilizer companies. In due course, compost manufacturers and other marketing entities recognized by the concerned State Government may also be included for the purpose with the approval of Department of Fertilisers. The market development assistance shall be routed through the entity which is marketing it.
- Compost from city garbage would not only provide carbon and primary/secondary nutrients to soil but also help in keeping the city clean.
- Composting can reduce the volume of waste to landfill/dumpsite by converting the waste into useful by-products.
- This also prevents production of harmful greenhouse gases (especially methane) and toxic material that pollutes groundwater apart from polluting the environment.
- City Waste composting would also generate employment in urban areas.
Science & Technology
ISRO successfully launches India’s fifth navigation satellite IRNSS-1E
India has successfully put into orbit its fifth navigation satellite called IRNSS-1E powered by its own PSLV rocket.
India’s successful launch – its first this year – has now moved it closer to joining a select group of nations possessing their own satellite navigation systems.
- The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) consists of a constellation of seven satellites of which five – IRNSS-1A, IRNSS-1B, IRNSS-1C, IRNSS-1D and IRNSS-1E-have been put into orbit till date.
- The IRNSS will provide two types of services – standard positioning service and restricted service. The former is provided to all users whereas the later is an encrypted service for authorised users.
- IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system designed to provide position information in the Indian region and 1500 km around the Indian mainland.
- Various applications of IRNSS are:
- Terrestrial, Aerial and Marine Navigation.
- Disaster Management.
- Mapping and Geodetic data capture.
- Terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travelers.
- Vehicle tracking and fleet management.
- Integration with mobile phones.
- Precise Timing.
- Visual and voice navigation for drivers.
- Once fully operational, the National Space Agency is aiming to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign navigational systems such as the US Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Russian GLONASS.
While ISRO is silent on the system’s strategic application, it is clear that the IRNSS will be used for defence purposes as well.
Other countries’ navigational systems:
- The IRNSS is similar to the global positioning system (GPS) of the US (24 satellites), Glonass of Russia, and Galileo of Europe, China’s Beidou.
- While GPS and Glonass are fully functional global systems, the Chinese and the Japanese systems are offering regional coverage whereas Europe’s Galileo is yet to be operational.
[Ref: Hindu, ISRO]
Photonics to drive terabit chips
Scientists from the Centre for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE) at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru are working on two projects in the area of photonic integrated circuits.
- Researchers and scientists at CeNSE are building a next-generation processor. But at its very core, each unit is still electrical; it has millions of transistors connected with copper lines.
- These ubiquitous little chips drive our technology and are embedded everywhere, from phones to laptops to DVDs and rockets.
Now, scientists from CeNSE, in a project supported by the Defence of Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), are trying to develop indigenous technology for high-speed optical interconnect technology.
What is Photonics?
- Photonicsis the science of light (photon) generation, detection, and manipulation through emission, transmission, modulation, signal processing, switching, amplification, and detection/sensing.
Applications of photonics:
- Applications of photonics includes all areas from everyday life to the most advanced science, e.g. light detection, telecommunications, information processing, lighting, metrology, spectroscopy, holography, medicine (surgery, vision correction, endoscopy, health monitoring), military technology, laser material processing, visual art, bio photonics, agriculture, and robotics.