Polity & Governance
- Ordinance to keep States out of NEET this year
- WCD Ministry and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sign MoC
Environment & Ecology
- ‘Heat Index’
- Himachal Pradesh propagating mahseer fish for conservation
- 40 million Indians at risk from rising sea levels: UN report
- Metro gets green award
Defence & Security Issues
- Centre sets up panel to relook defence spend
Science & Technology
- Indigenously developed fecal incontinence management system ‘Qora’ launched
Polity & Governance
Ordinance to keep States out of NEET this year
Under mounting pressure from several states, Government has approved promulgation of an ordinance to keep state boards out of the ambit of uniform medical entrance examination, National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), for one academic year.
- The ordinance is aimed at “partially” overturning the Supreme Court verdict which said all government colleges, deemed universities and private medical colleges would be covered under NEET.
- The next phase of the exam is scheduled for July 24. Nearly 6.5 lakh students have already sat for the first phase of NEET held on May 1.
- Once the ordinance is issued, students of state government boards will not have to sit for NEET on July 24. They, however, will have to become part of the uniform entrance exam from next academic session.
- The exam will be applicable for those applying for Central government and private medical colleges.
Concerns of the states:
- In recently held the health ministers conference, more than 15 states were opposed to NEET and had raised issues like different syllabus and languages.
- They said the students affiliated to state boards will find it tough to appear for the uniform test as early as July.
- On April 28, the Supreme Court allowed the NEET to be held in two phases, with the All India Pre-Medical Test considered the first phase. The decision meant that the State-level tests, already held or scheduled for later, were void.
- The decision was taken in response to a public interest litigation petition filed by NGO Sankalp Charitable Trust to reduce corruption in the admission process.
WCD Ministry and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sign MoC
The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) to provide technical support at the National and State level for strengthening the delivery of nutrition goals, especially during pre-conception, pregnancy and first two years of life.
- Under the MoC, the Gates’ Foundation will support an enhanced framework of collaboration in Information and Communication Technology enabled Real Time Monitoring (ICT-RTM) of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and technical support on nutrition.
The four priority areas of work as part of this MoC would include:
- Development and deployment of ICT solutions for improving and strengthening ICDS Service Delivery System.
- Support Ministry of Women & Child Development in developing a shared national communications campaign for maternal and child nutrition among target populations.
- Provision of technical support for the National Nutrition Mission, Restructured ICDS Systems Strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project (ISSNIP) and Restructured ICDS through a Technical Support Unit at the national and state level for strengthening their capacities to deliver nutrition especially during pre- conception, pregnancy and first two years of life.
- Technical support and Knowledge management support to strengthen human resource capabilities at various levels in order to deliver effective nutrition interventions.
Significance of the collaboration:
- This collaboration will strengthen the government’s restructured ICDS Systems Strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project (ISSNIP) and National Nutrition Mission, with a focus on technological innovation, sharing best practices and use of data and evidence to enhance performance at the national and state level.
Environment & Ecology
With the number of heat stroke cases is likely to go up, doctors have demanded that the public be acquainted with the idea of ‘heat index’.
What is ‘Heat index’?
- ‘Heat index’ is a measure of how hot it really feels when the relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature.
- Periods of high heat index adversely affect human health.
How ‘Heat index’ is measured?
- To find the Heat Index temperature, look at the Heat Index Chart above or check our Heat Index Calculator. As an example, if the air temperature is 96°F and the relative humidity is 65%, the heat index–how hot it feels–is 121°
- The red area without numbers indicates extreme danger.
How the human body works?
- The human body cools itself by sweating. But, high relative humidity reduces the rate of evaporation. This causes the body to retain more heat than it would in dry air.
- Consequently, the body temperature increases and leads to heat exhaustion, cramps and heat stroke.
- While heat cramps are a mild form of heat disorders, which are a result of dehydration, heat exhaustion is when the body does not sweat enough.
About Heat stroke:
- Heat strokes cause the temperature of the body to increase and take away its ability to cool itself.
- In case of a heat stroke, the body’s internal temperature may shoot up and it may not respond to injectable or oral paracetamol.
- Among the symptoms of heat stroke are high fever, dehydration and absence of sweating. A heat stroke can be lethal if not treated on time.
About Armpit Test:
- Clinically, both heat exhaustion and heat stroke may show symptoms like fever and dehydration.
- We can detect the absence or presence of sweating with the simple armpit test. A dry armpit may mean severe dehydration.
- Normally, the axillae will be wet even if a person has severe dehydration. If the axillae are dry and the person has high fever, this means he has progressed from heat exhaustion to heat stroke. Such a situation should be treated as a medical emergency.
- During summer, everyone should pass urine once in eight hours. Not doing so may indicate severe dehydration.
- Avoid eating cut fruits and vegetables to prevent jaundice, typhoid, gastroenteritis and cholera.
Himachal Pradesh propagating mahseer fish for conservation
Himachal Pradesh fisheries department has started an artificial propagation programme for rehabilitation and conservation of Golden Mahseer fish.
- A hatchery with an outlay of Rs 6 crore ($900,000) has been set up to rear the mahseer fish and release its fingerlings into the wild.
Reasons for its decline:
- The population of the golden mahseer is declining in the state due to various reasons, including construction of dams, barrages, pollution, indiscriminate fishing of brood and juvenile fish, introduction of exotic species and habitat deterioration.
- The golden mahseer is hunted for sport and food.
About Golden mahseer:
- Golden mahseer is also known as the tiger of Indian rivers
- Being a game fish, the mahseer is also an angler’s delight.
- It has been declared endangered by the Washington-based International Union of Conservation of Natural Resources.
- The mahseer, the longest-living freshwater fish, is native to mountain and sub-mountain regions. It belongs to the genus Tor.
- The Pong Dam reservoir, around 250km from state capital Shimla and 190km from Chandigarh, supports an ample population of the golden mahseer.
- It migrates upstream for spawning during the southwest floods. After spawning, it returns to the original feeding grounds. It is available at altitudes of up to 2,000 metres above sea level and is purely carnivorous.
40 million Indians at risk from rising sea levels: UN report
According to a UN environment report, nearly 40 million Indians will be at risk from rising sea levels by 2050.
- The report is titled the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6): Regional Assessments.
Key facts of the report:
- The worst impacts of climate change are projected to occur in the Pacific and South and Southeast Asia.
- It said focusing on the population at risk from sea level rise by 2050, seven of the 10 most vulnerable countries worldwide are in the Asia Pacific region.
- India tops the chart with nearly 40 million people in the country projected to be at risk from rising sea levels, followed by more than 25 million in Bangladesh, over 20 million in China and nearly 15 million in the Philippines.
- People in Mumbai and Kolkata having the maximum exposure to coastal flooding in future due to rapid urbanisation and economic growth.
Metro gets green award
Delhi Metro’s newly-opened Jahangirpuri-Samaypur Badli section and the Receiving Sub-Station (RSS) at Mukundpur Depot have received the highest platinum rating for following green building norms by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).
- This achievement will help stations to reduce their power consumption by 35 per cent
About Indian Green Building Council (IGBC):
- The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), part of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) was formed in the year 2001.
- The vision of the council is, “To enable a sustainable built environment for all and facilitate India to be one of the global leaders in the sustainable built environment by 2025”.
About IGBC’s Green Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) Rating:
The IGBC’s Green Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) Rating is the world’s first exclusive rating system to address sustainability in the new monorail and metro rail systems.
- This rating system is a tool to enable new rail-based MRTS to apply green concepts during design and construction so as to further reduce environmental impacts that are measurable, said a DMRC spokesperson.
- The objective of the IGBC Green MRTS Rating is to ensure environmental sustainability, while enhancing commuter experience.
- The IGBC has devised a rating mechanism for metro stations and buildings on a scale of platinum, gold, silver, etc., for following green building specifications.
Benefits of MRTS Rating:
By applying the green concepts in the design, construction & operation, the following additional benefits are envisaged over conventional MRTS for the Environment, Metro Rail Authorities and Commuters:
- Reduced dependency on private vehicles, thereby minimising the environmental impacts associated with the use of conventional energy
- Integration with other modes of public transport, thereby enhancing connectivity
- Enhanced station accessibility to improve first & last mile connectivity and achieve maximum ridership
- Maximise resource efficiency
- Increased environmental awareness among commuters
- Enhanced commuting experience
Defence & Security Issues
Centre sets up panel to relook defence spend
The Union government has appointed a committee of experts to recommend measures to enhance the combat capabilities of the over 13-lakh strong armed forces and “re-balance” the overall defence expenditure in view of the escalating salary and pension bills.
- The 11-member committee led by Lt Gen D B Shekatkar (retd), which includes several other top military officers as well as civilian experts, has been given three months to chalk out an action plan.
Aim of the committee:
The overall aim is to ensure India’s combat capabilities and potential are enhanced, with a better teeth-to-tail combat ratio, within budgetary constraints.
This comes a year after Parrikar first underlined the need to slash the non-operational “flab” of the Army, Navy and IAF after a detailed review to ensure leaner, meaner and cost-effective fighting forces.
The Army has followed a policy of `save and raise’ since the 1999 Kargil conflict to improve combat capabilities without manpower increases. With modernisation and induction of cutting-edge technologies, some more scope for manpower optimisation can be created.
Necessity of the move:
- Due to budgetary limitations, there is no option but to “downsize in areas which are not of operational importance”, both in terms of manpower and infrastructure.
- Every year, the revenue component (day-to-day costs/salaries) in the defence budget by far outstrips the capital outlay, leaving very little for new modernisation projects for the armed forces.
PM Narendra Modi, too, has told top military commanders that instead of constantly trying to expand the size of their forces, they should focus on forces that are “agile, mobile and driven by technology”.[Ref: ToI]
Science & Technology
Indigenously developed fecal incontinence management system ‘Qora’ launched
An indigenously developed “affordable” faecal incontinence management system ‘Qora’, a spin-off of a programme of the Department of Biotechnology and implemented at AIIMS and IIT Delhi, was launched by the Ministry of Science & Technology.
- The QoraTM Stool Management Kit is the world’s first FDA 510(k) approved indwelling fecal drainage device for the management of fecal incontinence that can be used across a continuum of care facilities from ICUs to nursing homes.
- The technology for the medical device was developed by Consure Medical, New Delhi.
- The international partners of the programme are Stanford University, US, Queensland University of Technology, Australia, and Tottori University, Japan.
What is Faecal incontinence?
Faecal incontinence is a medical condition marked by inability to control one’s bowel movements, causing stools (faeces) to leak unexpectedly from the rectum.
- It affects nearly 100 million bed-ridden patients worldwide.
- Furthermore, about 50% of the psychiatric ward patients have FI due to long-term neurological diseases.
- Absorbent pads and fecal drainage catheters are the only available solutions for this condition a need for a better solution was felt by the team.
Objective of Qora:
- The technology ‘Fecal Incontinence Management System-Qora’ has been developed to address the clinical and economical implications of faecal incontinence by expanding indications for use, reducing skill level required to use a device, and introducing a new level of care for patients outside the ICU.