Current Affairs Analysis

20th May 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Measures for Desiltation of Ganga by Chitale Committee recommendations; Healthcare access and quality index (HAQ); Common Risk Mitigation Mechanism (CRMM); International Solar Alliance; Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP); First human antibodies to fight all Ebola viruses; GST rates on green goods; ‘Nasofilters’- Cheapest respiratory filter
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
May 20, 2017


Issues related to Health & Education

  • Survival of newborns: India ranks lower than Somalia

Environment & Ecology

  • Chitale Committee recommends several measures for Desiltation of Ganga
  • Study on Common Risk Mitigation Mechanism for Solar Power Generation Projects

Bilateral & International Relations

  • RCEP trade ministers to meet

Key Facts for Prelims

  • First human antibodies to fight all Ebola viruses found
  • GST rates on green goods
  • Cheapest respiratory filter

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Issues related to Health & Education

Survival of newborns: India ranks lower than Somalia

Healthcare access and quality index (HAQ), part of the Global burden of diseases has been released.

ias toppers Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors

  • The HAQ Index is based on death rates from 32 ailments that could be avoided by timely medical intervention.

About GBD:

  • The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors study is put together by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent population health research centre associated with the University of Washington, along with a consortium of 2,300 researchers in more than 130 countries.

Highlights of the study:

iastoppers Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors


  • The top five performers were Andorra (94.6), Iceland (93.6), Switzerland (91.8), Sweden (90.5), and Norway (90.5).
  • Among the developed nations, those who did not perform well include the US and the UK.

Performance of India:

  • India is at 154th among 195 countries.
  • India’s healthcare access and quality (HAQ) index has increased by 14.1, up from 30.7 in 1990 to 44.8 in 2015.
  • India lags behind Sri Lanka (72.8), Bangladesh (51.7), Bhutan (52.7) and Nepal (50.8) and ranks above Pakistan (43.1) and Afghanistan (32.5).
  • As per the study, India has performed poorly in tackling cases of tuberculosis, diabetes, chronic kidney diseases and rheumatic heart diseases.
  • The journal lists India among the biggest underachievers in Asia in health care access.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Environment & Ecology

Chitale Committee recommends several measures for Desiltation of Ganga

Chitale committee constituted to prepare guidelines for desiltation of river Ganga from Bhimgauda (Uttarakhand) to Farakka (West Bengal), submitted its report to Ministry of Water Resources.


  • The committee was constituted as per the commitment made by Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti while chairing the 6th meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority in New Delhi in July, 2016.

Important recommendations made by the committee:

The committee in its report has recommended a slew of measures which include

  • Study of reach wise sediment transport processes to guide annual de-silting activities,
  • Preparation of annual reports (Sand registry) and a technical institute may be entrusted to conduct the sediment budget,
  • Morphological and flood routing studies to examine and confirm the necessity of the de-silting of the reach under consideration.
  • It is necessary to provide the river sufficient areas of flood plain and lakes along the river to moderate the flood level.
  • Any encroachment of flood plain, reclamation of lakes or disconnection of lakes from river should be avoided; rather adjoining lakes/depressions may be de-silted to increase their storage capacities.
  • Calling for evolving guidelines, better broad principles, which should be kept in mind while planning and implementing de-silting works, the committee cautioned that indiscriminate de-siltation works may result in more harm to ecology and environment flow.
  • Upstream reaches of natural constriction works, like barrages/bridges, tend to get silted leading to the wandering of the river, Chitale committee says possibly river training, cut-off developments and provision of extra water way near the constrictions could be tried after proper assessment without impacting the morphology of river elsewhere.
  • Embankments, spurs and river training measures provided to protect the banks should not encroach upon the flood plains and delink the lakes, flood plains and other riverine environments from the river.

Desiltation process is hard to study, Why?

  • The committee in its report said erosion, sediment transport and siltation were very complex phenomena.
  • It was impossible to apply a “one-size-fits-all” approach to sediment management and control, because the issues involved were frequently regional specific.
  • Local factors such as topography, river control structures, soil and water conservation measures, tree cover, and riparian land-use or land disturbance could have a large impact on sediment loads in rivers.
  • River control structures such as reservoirs, soil conservation measures and sediment control programmes could cause downstream sediment loads to decrease, while factors like land disturbance could cause increased sediment loads.
  • At the same time, indiscriminate de-siltation works might result into more harm to ecology and environment flow.
  • There was a need to evolve guidelines, better broad principles, which should be kept in mind while planning and implementing de-silting works.
[Ref: PIB]


Study on Common Risk Mitigation Mechanism for Solar Power Generation Projects

India along with countries like Argentina, Burkina-Faso, Chad, France, Ivory Coast, Mali, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda and Yemen has jointly commissioned a study to define and structure a Common Risk Mitigation Mechanism (CRMM) for solar power generation projects in solar rich countries.

ias toppers Common Risk Mitigation Mechanism

  • The commissioning of the study is aimed at dramatic reduction in the cost of finance for renewable energy and the overall price of electricity.
  • The exercise is part of the international efforts aimed at implementing the the Paris Declaration of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) adopted on 30 November 2015.
  • The study has been entrusted to a task force chaired by Terrawatt Initiative (TWI), the World Bank Group, the Currency Exchange Fund (TCX), the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and also the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII).
  • Each of the participating countries will also appoint a qualified representative who will cooperate with the task force and provide information regarding the country specific expectations, experience and needs of the task force.
  • All the countries lying fully or partially between the Tropics are also invited to join the task force and support this initiative in order to attract investments into solar sector.


  • The Council on Energy, Environment and Water calculates the cost of capital to form a substantial amount in the total costs of renewable energy. In India it accounts for 70% of the total cost of solar Power. In this regard, the CRMM is expected to offer a simple and affordable tool that will develop a secure environment for private institutional investment in solar assets.

About International Solar Alliance:


  • ISA was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in November, 2015 by Modi and French President Francois Hollande.
  • The alliance, headquartered in India, aims to bring together countries situated between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn which receive abundant sunshine for around 300 days a year.
  • ISA aims to invite solar rich 121 countries located fully or partly between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn to join the alliance.
  • It will function from the Gurgaon, Haryana based National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE).
  • Alliance seeks to share common platform to reduce the cost of finance and technology that is needed to deploy solar power widely.
  • Alliance would pursue cooperation in training, building institutions, regulatory issues, common standards, and investment including joint ventures.
[Ref: PIB]


Bilateral & International Relations

RCEP trade ministers to meet

Trade ministers of 16 countries, including India and China, are all set to meet in Vietnam to discuss progress in the ongoing negotiations of proposed trade deal, RCEP.

  • So far, negotiators of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have held 18 rounds of negotiations.

About RCEP:


The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement (FTA) is proposed between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).

  • RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.
  • The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is among the proposed three mega FTAs in the world so far. The other two is:
  • The TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership, led by the US) and
  • The TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the US and the EU).
  • RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the TPP trade agreement, which includes the United States but excludes China.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Key Facts for Prelims

First human antibodies to fight all Ebola viruses found

ias toppers First human antibodies

  • A team of scientists from the United States have discovered the first natural human antibodies that are capable of neutralizing and protecting animals against all three major disease-causing ebola viruses.
  • Monoclonal antibodies have emerged as one of the most promising treatments for Ebola patients.
  • The findings could lead to the discovery of first effective ebolavirus therapies and vaccines.
  • Scientists have discovered the broadly neutralizing antibodies from the blood of a survivor of the 2013-16 Ebola outbreak.
  • Scientists have also pinpointed the human gene which is expected to be the source of the immune cells that produce these antibodies.


GST rates on green goods


  • The GST Council has finalised the rates and cess for most of the goods under the purview of the tax.
  • Among these, it set a rate of 18% for commercial LPG, and 5% for all renewable energy devices and spare parts, although the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy had requested exemption for these items. Experts term this as a missed opportunity regarding auto LPG.
  • Experts say, GST Council has missed an opportunity to back environmentally friendly goods.
  • Domestic LPG is taxed at 5%. This would also encourage theft, since people already transfer LPG from domestic cylinders to commercial containers to avoid the higher tax.


Cheapest respiratory filter

ias toppers Nasofilters

  • Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi developed cheapest respiratory filter, named ‘Nasofilters’.
  • The filter, which is ready for commercialisation, restricts entry of up to 95 per cent dust and air pollutants.
  • It is the cheapest naso filter available in comparison to the face masks and other alternatives available in the market to fight critical levels of air pollution.
  • It gives protection against the finest particulate pollutants in the air for at least eight hours. Therefore, the device is quite effective at reducing the risk of respiratory diseases.
  • The filters aim to provide relief to common users from air pollution and to protect people, who are prone to allergies.
  • It also safeguards those who are exposed to job related industrial particulate pollutants.


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