Issues related to Health & Education
- India Report- Digital Education June 2020
- World Hepatitis Day
- Green-Ag Project
- Chambal region into arable land
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Environment Minister releases report of Tiger Census
- Gas flaring
- Reduction in Life expectancy of Indians due to Air Pollution
- Covid-19 Biomedical Waste Problem
Bilateral & International Relations
- India and Indonesia bilateral defence cooperation
- Suspension of Extradition Treaties
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Issues related to Health & Education
India Report- Digital Education June 2020
Union Minister for HRD virtually launched India Report on Digital Education, 2020.
- The report elaborates on the methods adopted by Ministry of HRD, Education Departments of State/UTs for ensuring accessible and inclusive education to children at home and reducing learning gaps.
- Out of all the states/UTs assessed, only Meghalaya fulfilled all the criteria such as having e-learning portals, digital classrooms, web TV channels etc.
Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) Initiatives
It was announced in 2020 announced under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat programme to unify all efforts related to digital/online/on-air education.
- As part of PM eVidya, DIKSHA is the ‘one nation; one digital platform’.
- It will provide e- content and QR coded textbooks for all grades to nearly 25 crore school going children.
- DIKSHA has content in 14 languages – Assamese, Bengali, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Chhattisgarhi.
- Launched by CBSE in April 2020 to leverage DIKSHA platform.
- The scheme allows contribution of e-learning resources by educational bodies/private bodies/individual expert.
CBSE Creative and Critical Thinking (CCT) Weekly Practice Program
- Set of 5 questions are shared every week for students of classes 7th-10th on Reading, Mathematical and Scientific Literacy to provide a good opportunity to build critical thinking skills amongst students.
- It is a group of 32 channels devoted to telecast of high-quality educational programmes.
- Online MOOC courses relating to NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling) from grades 9 to 12 of open schooling are uploaded on SWAYAM portal.
- It is a podcast started by Central Board of Secondary Education, using 289 Community Radio Stations, for learners of grades 9 to12.
For the differently abled
- For visually and hearing impaired students, study material has been developed in Digitally Accessible Information System (DAISY) and in sign language.
- One DTH channel is being operated specifically for hearing impaired students in sign language.
- The e-textbooks in e-Pathshala web portal has more than 600 digital books as well as audio/video content of NCERT in various languages.
National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER)
- It is an open storehouse of e-content for students, teachers, teacher educators and parents. E-content of NCERT and other collaborative partners are available for all grades.
ICT scheme under Samagra Shiksha
- The Government of India had introduced ICT (Information and communications technology) @ Schools scheme in 2004 by merging the scheme of Educational Technology -1972 and Computer Literacy and Studies in Secondary Schools (CLASS)-1984.
- It aims to provide opportunities to secondary stage students to mainly build their capacity on ICT skills and make them learn through computer aided learning process.
- From April, 2018, ICT@Schools scheme of Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) along with Computer Aided Learning (CAL) programme under SarvaShikshya Abhiyan (SSA) and ICT interventions under Teacher Education component has been subsumed as “ICT in School Education component of scheme of Samagra Shiksha”, covering Govt. Schools having classes from VI to XII.
- There is a provision Non- Recurring amount of Rs. 6.4 lakh and Recurring amount of Rs. 2.4 lakh per school (recurring cost for 5 year after implementation) for establishing ICT labs in school.
Long-term strategy of Indian Government on Digital education
- Developing digital classrooms as an instructional modality – Integration of use of technology with the education system.
- Inclusion of virtual vocational training, virtual labs & skill development courses.
- Multi-mode access to education using web portals, mobile apps, TV channels, radio, podcasts etc. with coherent user experience.
- Developing quality e-content in local languages.
- Developing framework for enhancing learning within and outside the classroom, and for assessments in the era of digital education.
- Framing of Online/Digital Education Guidelines addressing the digital divide.
World Hepatitis Day
- Recently, eminent figures like the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare and among others participated in the 2nd Empathy e-Conclave on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day.
- The theme for the year was ‘Keep your Liver Safe in COVID times.’
- India is committed to World Health Organisation goals of elimination of Hepatitis C and of reducing the burden of Hepatitis B by 2030.
- Hepatitis refers to an inflammatory condition of the liver. It’s commonly caused by a viral infection.
- There are 5 types of viral hepatitis namely hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. A different virus is responsible for each type of virally transmitted hepatitis.
- Hepatitis A is always an acute, short-term disease, while hepatitis B, C, and D are most likely to become ongoing and chronic.
- Hepatitis C virus (HCV) causes both acute and chronic infection. Acute HCV infection is usually asymptomatic and is only very rarely (if ever) associated with a life-threatening disease.
- Hepatitis E is usually acute but can be particularly dangerous in pregnant women.
- The Union Government launched the Green-Ag Project in Mizoram, to reduce emissions from agriculture and ensure sustainable agricultural practices.
- Other states include Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttarakhand.
- Madhya Pradesh (Chambal Landscape), Mizoram (Dampa Landscape), Odisha (Similipal Landscape), Rajasthan (Desert National Park Landscape) and Uttarakhand (Corbett-Rajaji Landscape) are the landscapes where the project will be implemented.
About Green-Ag Project:
- The Green-Ag Project is funded by the Global Environment Facility.
- The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation, and Farmers’ Welfare (DAC&FW) is the national executing agency. Other key players involved in its implementation are the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
- The project seeks to mainstream biodiversity, climate change, sustainable land management objectives and practices into the agriculture sector.
- The project is designed to achieve multiple global environmental benefits in at least 1.8 million hectares (ha) of land in five landscapes, with mixed land-use systems.
- It aims to bring at least 104,070 ha of farms under sustainable land and water management.
- The pilot project is supposed to end on March 31, 2026, in all states.
- Ensure 49 million Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq) sequestered or reduced through sustainable land use and agricultural practices.
- Help local people take advantage of the rich agro-biodiversity.
- Promotion of secondary agriculture
- Establishment of green value chains
Chambal region into arable land
- The Union Government, in collaboration with the World Bank, has decided to convert a large area of ravines in Gwalior-Chambal belt of Madhya Pradesh into arable land.
- The focus is on the Bihad area in the Gwalior—Chambal region.
- Improving agricultural development and the environment.
- Create employment opportunities.
- Substantive development of the region.
- The Chambal Expressway will be built and will pass through this area.
What are ravines?
- A ravine is generally a fluvial slope landform of relatively steep (cross-sectional) sides.
- Ravines may or may not have active streams flowing along the downslope channel which originally formed them.
- Ravines are narrower than a canyon
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Environment Minister releases report of Tiger Census
Union Environment Minister released a report “Status of Tigers Copredators & Prey in India”, an updated report on India’s Tiger Survey from 2018, on the eve of Global Tiger Day.
- Assesses Status of tigers in terms of spatial occupancy, density of individual populations and habitat corridors connecting major tiger populations.
- Compares information obtained from the earlier three tiger surveys (2006, 2010, and 2014) with data obtained from the 2018-19 survey to estimate population trends at country and landscape scales.
- Gives likely factors responsible for changes in tiger status at the fine spatial resolution of 100 km.
- India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority
(NTCA) announced the adoption of the Conservation Assured | Tiger Standards
[CA|TS] across all of the country’s 50 Tiger Reserves.
- CA|TS is a conservation tool that sets best practice to manage target species, and encourages assessments to benchmark progress. Tigers are the first species selected for the initiative.
- Launched in 2013, the tool was developed in collaboration who are engaged in tiger conservation.
- Environment Ministry is working on a programme
to provide water and fodder to animals in the forest itself to deal with the
challenge of human-animal conflict. For this LIDAR based survey technology
will be used for the first time.
- Lidar is a method for measuring distances by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflection with a sensor.
Key Highlights of the report
The report divided India in five tiger occupied landscape complexes having unique geographical features and tiger populations:
- The largest contiguous tiger population in the world of about 724 tigers was found in the Western Ghats (Nagarhole-Bandipur-Wayanad-MudumalaiSatyamangalam-BRT block) while the second largest population of about 604 tigers was found across Uttrakhand and western Uttar Pradesh (Rajaji-Corbett-Ramnagar-Pilibhit-Dudhwa block).
Tiger Density and population blocks
- As per All India Tiger Estimation 2018, India
has 2,967 tigers.
- This is 33% increase in tiger numbers from 2014(2,226 tigers).
- One in every 3 tigers in India lives outside reserves (Tiger population within reserves is 1,923).
- Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of tigers (526), followed by Karnataka (524) and Uttarakhand (442).
- Corbett Tiger Reserve had the largest population of tigers (231) in 2018. Also, Corbett has the highest density of tigers in the country— 14 per 100 sq km.
- Corbett, Kaziranga, Nagarhole, Ranthambore are among tiger reserves at or nearing capacity.
- No tigers were recorded in Mizoram’s Dampa, Jharkhand’s Palamau and West Bengal’s Buxa tiger reserves.
- Chhattisgarh and Mizoram saw a decline in tiger population and all other States saw a positive increase.
- Reintroduction of tigers in Dampa Tiger Reserve from Kaziranga Tiger Reserve is needed as Damapa is one of the important cross-boundary tiger reserves important for the tigers as it provides connectivity to other protected area. However, a proper protection regime and control of insurgency is required before reintroduction.
International Tiger Day
- Every year, July 29 is celebrated as International Tiger Day.
- It was first established in 2010 at Saint
Petersburg Tiger Summit in Russia.
- Here, 13 tiger range countries pledged to double the number of tigers by 2022 under the Global Tiger Recovery Program.
- However, India achieved its target in 2019.
All India Tiger Estimation
- The All India Tiger Estimation, done quadrennially, is steered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority with technical backstopping from the Wildlife Institute of India and implemented by State Forest Departments.
Unfitness of the 4th All India Tiger Estimation
- Abundance index of co-predators and other species has been carried out which was restricted only to occupancy.
- Sex ratio of tigers in all camera trap sites has been carried out for the first time.
- Anthropogenic effects on tiger population have been elaborated in a detailed manner.
- Tiger abundance within pockets in tiger reserves has been demonstrated for the first time.
Note: To know more about the detail of 4th All India Tiger Estimation, refer IASTopper’s previous current affairs: https://www.iastoppers.com/12th-13th-july-2020-current-affairs-analysis-iastoppers/
- India has 70 % of world’s tiger population.
- Tigers are the third-largest carnivore on land after polar bears and brown bears.
- There are five subspecies of tiger existing today: Bengal, South China, Indochinese, Sumatran and Siberian. However, three of them have become extinct – Caspian, Bali and Javan.
- In India, under Project Tiger (1973), the initial number of 9 tiger reserves (18,278 km) has now expanded to 50 tiger reserves (72,749 km) covering about 2.21% of India’s geographical area.
According to a recent analysis by the World Bank, gas flaring is not only increasing but has also hit the highest level in a decade. In 2019 gas flaring increased to 150 billion cubic metres (BCM) compared to 145 BCM in 2018.
What is Gas Flaring?
- In chemical factories, oil refineries, oil wells, rigs and landfills, gaseous waste products and sometimes even non-waste gases produced are routed to an elevated vertical chimney called a gas flare and burnt off at its tip. This is called gas flaring.
The reasons are:
- Waste product removal from chemical production processes.
- Pressure relief to prevent the risk of explosions.
- Cheaper to burn rather than store and transport.
- Increase in three countries — the United States, Venezuela and Russia.
- Local conflicts like in the case of Syria.
- Gas flaring or burning of natural gas during oil extraction contributes 400 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent every year.
Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR):
- GGFR is a global body of governments, oil companies and institutions seeking to monitor gas flaring and work on ways to reduce flaring and waste.
- The coalition aims to attain zero flaring by 2030.
Reduction in Life expectancy of Indians due to Air Pollution
- According to an assessment by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, pollution levels in India could reduce 5.2 years from the life expectancy of the average Indian and it most acutely hits people living in the Indo-Gangetic plains.
- The study used Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) data in the report, and it was averaged across women, men and children globally, and covers the period between 1998 and 2018.
- Since 1998, average annual particulate pollution increased by 42 per cent in India.
- All of India’s 1.4 billion population lives in areas where the annual average particulate pollution level exceeded the WHO guideline, and 84 per cent live in regions where it exceeded India’s air quality standard.
Most Affected Regions in India
- Uttar Pradesh is the most polluted state; residents here stand to lose 8.6 years due to Air Pollution.
- Residents of Delhi stand to lose 9.4 years. But the highest is in Lucknow where residents risk losing 10.3 years of life expectancy.
Comparison with other Countries:
- India is the second most-polluted country globally after Bangladesh, while Nepal, Singapore and Pakistan are the other top countries.
- Singapore, China and India were the three most polluted countries in 1998 with the Chinese losing 3.6 years of life to pollution but by 2018, China was the seventh most polluted and had improved its life expectancy by 1.3 years. Singapore has also improved.
- China declared war against pollution in 2013 with some aggressive reforms. Since then, three-quarters of the world’s reductions in pollution have come from China and it has reduced PM 2.5 pollution by nearly 40% during the period according to the analysis.
- Industrialization, economic development and population growth.
- Increased energy demand.
- Increased number of stationary and mobile sources of air pollution.
Covid-19 Biomedical Waste Problem
According to a report filed by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in the National Green Tribunal, Delhi accounts for 10% of the 101 tonnes of Covid-19 biomedical waste generated in the country each day and is the third-largest generator of such waste after the Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The tribunal said that while the Bio-Medical Waste Rules deal with waste generated in dealing with infectious diseases, the coronavirus pandemic has presented a further challenge in terms of capacity to scientifically dispose of generated waste.
- Improper segregation of waste at COVID hospitals, isolation centres and quarantine homes.
- An additional burden on the incinerators designed only to handle the biohazardous waste.
- Risk of further contamination affecting public health.
- Lack of availability of biomedical waste treatment options.
What is Biomedical Waste?
- Biomedical waste or hospital waste is any kind of waste containing infectious (or potentially infectious) materials. Biomedical waste may be solid or liquid. E.g. discarded blood, used bandages and dressings etc.
Amended guidelines of Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016.
- Recently, CPCB published the revised guidelines under the Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016.
- It stressed regarding concerns over biomedical waste generated by treating COVID-19 patients.
- It addresses the safety of waste handlers and sanitation workers associated with such healthcare facilities.
- It must be followed by all stakeholders including isolation wards, quarantine centres, sample collection centres, urban local bodies and among others.
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- Scientific disposal of Biomedical Waste through segregation, collection and treatment in an environmentally sound manner.
- Mass awareness through public broadcasting organizations like Doordarshan and All India Radio.
- Identify and remedy the gaps with respect to compliance of Central government guidelines.
- Adopt deep burial systems (burying biomedical waste in 2-meter-deep ditches and covering them with a layer of lime and soil).
- Use of technologies such as gasification, pyrolysis, autoclave, microwave disinfection etc.
Bilateral & International Relations
India and Indonesia bilateral defence cooperation
India’s and Indonesia’s defence ministers agreed to further enhance the bilateral defence cooperation in mutually agreed areas in a recently held Defence Ministers’ Dialogue.
Key Highlights of the meeting
- Defence cooperation between India and Indonesia has witnessed an upswing in the recent years, which is in consonance with the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two sides.
- Issue of possible export of BrahMos cruise missile to Indonesia by India figured prominently in the talks.
India and Indonesia have shared two millenia of close cultural and commercial contacts. The Hindu, Buddhist and later Muslim faith travelled to Indonesia from the shores of India.
- Comprehensive Strategic Partnership: In 2018, both countries agreed to strengthen cooperation in all areas by establishing a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership to take Indonesia and India’s bilateral relationship into a new era.
- Operation Samudra Maitri: It was the relief effort launched by India to assist the victims of the 2018 Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia.
- 70th anniversary: Year 2019 marked the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Indonesia. Indonesia released a special commemorative stamp on the theme of ‘Ramayana’ to mark the event.
- Samdrua Shakti – Bilateral maritime exercise
- Garuda Shakti – Joint military exercise
- Indonesia has emerged as the second largest trading
partner of India in the ASEAN region.
- Bilateral trade has increased from US$ 4.3 billion in 2005-06 to US$ 21 billion in 2018-19.
- In order to meet the trade target of USD 50 billion by 2025, efforts were made for expanding the trade basket between India and Indonesia, with special focus on Indian agricultural commodities.
- India is the second largest buyer of coal and crude palm oil from Indonesia and imports minerals, rubber, pulp and paper and hydrocarbons reserves.
- India exports refined petroleum products, commercial vehicles, telecommunication equipment, agriculture commodities, bovine meat, steel products and plastics to Indonesia. Location of Indonesia.
- Indonesia is a major recipient of ITEC (Indian
Technical & Economic Cooperation Programme) and TCS (Technical Cooperation
Scheme) of Colombo Plan scholarships.
- The ITEC and TCS Colombo program was launched in 1964 as a bilateral programme of India, under which, candidates from 158+ countries are trained in institutions giving special knowledge in the field of Information Technology, Rural development etc.
Location of Indonesia
- Indonesia is Southeast Asian country between Indian and Pacific oceans.
- It shares land borders with 3 countries: Malaysia, Timor-Leste and Papa New Guinea.
- Positioned on the Equator, it has some 400 volcanoes within its borders.
- Its islands can be grouped into the Sumatra, Java, southern extent of Borneo and Celebes; Bali; Moluccas and western extent of New Guinea (generally known as Papua).
Suspension of Extradition Treaties
- Chinahas decided to suspend extradition treaties between Hong Kong and Canada, Australia and the U.K., as well as criminal justice cooperation agreements.
- This was in response to the UK governments action of suspending its extradition treaty arrangements with Hong Kong immediately and indefinitely.
About Five Eyes:
- The Five Eyes (FVEY) is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
- These countries are parties to the multilateral UKUSA Agreement, a treaty for cooperation in signals intelligence.
Location of Hong Kong:
- Hong Kong is a metropolitan area and special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China.
- It is located on the eastern Pearl River Delta of the South China Sea.
- Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places in the world.
- It was a former colony of the United Kingdom and was handed over to China in 1997.
- As part of the agreement, Hong Kong enjoys some freedoms not seen in the mainland.
Prelims Key Facts
New Supreme Court Building of Mauritius
Recently, India and Mauritius jointly inaugurated the new Supreme Court Building of Mauritius under the Special Economic Package.
- Government of India in 2016 agreed to provide a Special Economic Package (SEP) of ($353 million) for the execution of five projects in Mauritius: Metro Express Project, Supreme Court Building,Social Housing project, Supply of digital tablets to primary school children and a hospital.
Location of Mauritius:
- Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) off the south-east coast of the African continent. Mauritius is considered to be part of the African Continent.
- The capital and largest city, Port Louis, is located on the main island of Mauritius.
- Physiographically, it is part of the Mascarene Islands.
- Mauritius is known for its varied flora and fauna, with many species endemic to the island.
- Mahatma Gandhi en route to India from South Africa made a brief stopover (October 29 to November 15, 1901), in Mauritius. As a tribute to Gandhiji and the Indian freedom struggle, the National Day of Mauritius is celebrated on March 12 (the date of launch of Dandi Salt March).