Polity & Governance
- One IP- Two Dispensaries scheme
- First-ever Induction Training Programme for new recruits of Central Health Services (CHS)
- Employment under PMEGP falls 9.5%
- Fortified foods to tackle malnutrition
Bilateral & International Relations
- India-Cyprus signed four agreements to boost the bilateral relations
- Curious case of dip, rise in Indian seas
Science & Technology
- 3D printed cartilage to treat osteoarthritis
Key Facts for Prelims
- Tarang Sanchar
- Ganga Swachhta Sankalp Divas
- Stamp on Ramanujacharya’s 1,000th birth anniversary
- 1 May: International Labour Day
- Aerotropolis to come up in Assam
- Bhitarkanika National Park
- The Buxa Tiger Reserve
- ‘79th Armour Day’
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Polity & Governance
One IP- Two Dispensaries scheme
“One IP- Two Dispensaries” scheme was launched by the government on the occasion of International Labour Day.
- Under this scheme, ESIC has given an option to an Insured Person (IP) to choose two dispensaries, one for self and another for family through an employer.
Significance of the scheme:
Due to the non-availability of option of second dispensary, the dependant members of family are often deprived of medical benefits as till now, insured persons (IP) had an option of choosing one dispensary for self and family.
- By introducing the concept of ‘One IP- Two Dispensaries’, Employee’s State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) gives an option to an IP to choose two dispensaries, one for self and another for family through an employer.
- From now onwards, individuals as well as their family members will be able to get treatment from either of the dispensaries and in case of emergency from any ESI Institution.
- This scheme will benefit all IPs, especially migrant workers who are working in other than home State, while their families are living in their native States.
As of now, around 3 crore IPs are covered under ESIC and total number of is over 12 crore.[Ref: PIB]
First-ever Induction Training Programme for new recruits of Central Health Services (CHS)
The first-ever induction training programme for the newly appointed General Duty Medical Officers (GDMOs) of the Central Health Service Cadre was recently inaugurated.
- This is the first time such a foundation training programme is being undertaken.
- The nine week course especially designed for the new recruits will enable the medical officers to broaden their knowledge base, confidence level and experience in public health facilities.
Need for training:
On an average, every year around 400 to 600 doctors are recruited through UPSC.
- Incidentally, throughout the under-graduate and post-graduate education and thereafter, these doctors are not been trained in the areas of management, supervision, leadership, communication, conduction of office procedures, etc.
- The training module is designed to fill this gap so that they can look after the administration of the organization and implementation of various national health programmes for which they have very limited exposure.
- Central Health Service (CHS) Cadre is a cadre governed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
- Its doctors are working all over the country providing health care services to a large number of people.
- CHS has four sub-cadres, namely, GDMOs, Teaching, Non-Teaching Specialists and Public Health, with a sanctioned strength of more than 4000 of which the GDMOs constitute the largest chunk, more than 2000.
Employment under PMEGP falls 9.5%
A study by ASSOCHAM has found that job opportunities under the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) fell over 9.5% year-on-year to 3.2 lakh in FY16 from more than 3.5 lakh in FY15.
About Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP):
The PMEGP is an effective scheme aimed at reducing unemployment and generating sustainable employment opportunities in rural and urban India.
- This is credit linked Scheme of Govt. of India by merging erstwhile REGP and PMRY scheme. KVIC is the Nodal Agency at National Level.
- The Scheme is implemented through KVIC and State/UT Khadi & V.I. Boards in Rural areas and through District Industries Centres in Urban and Rural areas in ratio of 30:30:40 between KVIC / KVIB / DIC respectively.
Key features of the scheme:
- No income ceiling for setting up of projects.
- Assistance under the Scheme is available only to new units to be established.
- Existing units or units already availed any Govt. Subsidy either under State/Central Govt. Schemes are not eligible.
- Any industry including Coir Based projects excluding those mentioned in the negative list.
- Per capita investment should not exceed Rs. 1.00 lakhs in plain areas and Rs. 1.50 lakhs in Hilly areas.
- Maximum project cost of Rs. 25.00 lakhs in manufacturing sector and Rs. 10.00 lakhs in Service Sector.
Highlights of the ASSOCHAM’s study report:
- The number of projects set up under the PMEGP have reduced from over 48,100 in FY15 to about 44,300.
- Uttar Pradesh topped with over 43,000 jobs generated under the PMEGP in FY16, but the number of jobs reduced from more than 48,600 that was generated in FY15 thereby registering a year-on-year decline of more than 11%.
- While the number of credit proposals approved under the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) increased significantly from just over four lakh to over 5.1 lakh between 2014-15 and 2015-16, the approved amount under this scheme fell 6% from ₹21,200 crore in FY15 to more than ₹19,900 crore in FY16.
- The number of MSMEs which benefited from the Marketing Assistance and Technology Upgradation programme also fell from 359 in FY15 to 303 in FY16.
- The number of trainees under the Entrepreneur Development Programmes Scheme fell significantly from more than 1.4 lakh in FY15 to just over 66,000 in FY16.
- The number of new ideas approved as part of Entrepreneurial Development of SMEs through Incubators rose marginally from 143 in FY15 to 145 in FY16, according to ASSOCHAM.
Fortified foods to tackle malnutrition
To tackle the issue of malnutrition, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) released a set of standards and a logo last year. Since then, a number of enterprises have begun adding premixes of micronutrients to launch fortified foods.
Various efforts in this regard:
- Milk cooperatives in Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Assam and Maharashtra are fortifying their products.
- Targeting children, the Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh governments have begun using fortified oil for their mid-day meal schemes.
- West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands are now distributing fortified wheat flour through the public distribution system, and the Maharashtra government has started a pilot project.
- The FSSAI is also working with small local suppliers, for instance local flour grinding mills, to get them to add premixed micronutrients.
What is Food fortification?
- Food fortification or enrichment is the process of adding micronutrients (essential trace elements and vitamins) to food.
- Fortification requires neither changes in existing food patterns, habits nor individual compliance.
- It is socio-culturally acceptable and does not alter the characteristics of the food.
Benefits of Food fortification:
- Food fortification is a proven and effective strategy to meet the nutritional needs of a large number of people across various sections of the society, including the poor and underprivileged as well as the vulnerable, such as pregnant women and young children.
- It can be introduced quickly and can produce nutritional benefits for populations in a short period of time.
- It is safe and cost effective, especially if advantage is taken of the existing technology and delivery platforms.
- Food fortification reinforces and supports existing nutrition improvement programmes and is part of a broader, integrated approach to prevent micronutrient deficiencies, thereby complementing other approaches to improve health and nutrition.
Regulations on Food fortification in India:
- Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has formulated a comprehensive regulation on fortification of foods namely ‘Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2016’.
- These regulations set the standards for food fortification and encourage the production, manufacture, distribution, sale and consumption of fortified foods.
- The regulations also provide for specific role of FSSAI in promotion for food fortification and to make fortification mandatory. This sets the premise for the national summit on fortification of food.
Bilateral & International Relations
India-Cyprus signed four agreements to boost the bilateral relations
India and Cyprus signed four agreements to boost the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
- In addition to the four-agreements, the two nations also released a Joint Statement titled India-Cyprus Joint Statement.
- The agreements/MoUs were inked during the state visit of President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades to India.
The signed agreements include:
- Executive Programme on Culture Education and Scientific Cooperation (EPCEC) for the year 2017-2020
- Work Plan under programme of Cooperation in the field of Agriculture for 2017- 18
- Merchant Shipping Agreement
- Air Services Agreement
Curious case of dip, rise in Indian seas
A team of scientists have found decadal variations in temperatures of North Indian Ocean waters.
- The NIO consists of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and part of the Indian Ocean up till the 5°S latitude.
Highlights of the study:
- From 1993 to 2003 — the first decade when satellites started to consistently track the rise and fall of ocean heights and global temperatures soared — the North Indian Ocean (NIO) sea levels fell.
- After 2004, sea levels began an unprecedented, accelerated spike till 2014.
- This rise and fall was even as global temperatures steadily climbed and registered their largest two-decadal jump in more than a century.
- Such a “decadal swing” in the North Indian Ocean was unique and never observed in either the Pacific or Atlantic oceans.
- Wind flows, which welled warm water on the Indian Ocean surface, changed directions every decade and probably influenced sea level patterns. It could be that coming decades — in spite of rapid, rising temperatures — will see a fall in sea levels but that’s still hypothetical.
Reasons for rise in sea level temperatures in NIO:
- Sea levels primarily rise due to water expanding from atmospheric heat and, more water being added from, for instance, melting ice sheets and glaciers. In this case, 70% of the NIO’s warming could be explained by expansion.
- Unlike the Pacific and Atlantic, the NIO is hemmed in all sides, except for an outlet on the southern side. This influenced the rate at which heat was absorbed and flushed out from within the system.
Significance of these findings:
- This inter-decadal trend is an extremely important factor and underlines why we need to plan coastal management better.
Science & Technology
3D printed cartilage to treat osteoarthritis
Researchers have successfully generated cartilage tissue using a 3D bioprinter, an advance that could lead to new treatments for osteoarthritis.
- The advance represents a giant step forward in the ability to generate new, endogenous cartilage tissue.
How was it developed?
- The team used cartilage cells harvested from patients who underwent knee surgery, and these cells were then manipulated in a laboratory, causing them to rejuvenate and revert into “pluripotent” stem cells — cells that have the potential to develop into many different types of cells.
- The stem cells were then expanded and encapsulated in a composition of nanofibrillated cellulose and printed into a structure using a 3D bioprinter.
- Following printing, the stem cells were treated with growth factors that caused them to differentiate correctly, so that they formed cartilage tissue.
- Each individual stem cell is encased in nanocellulose, which allows it to survive the process of being printed into a 3D structure.
- This bioprinted tissue can be used to repair cartilage damage, or to treat osteoarthritis, in which joint cartilage degenerates and breaks down.
Key Facts for Prelims
- It is a portal launched by telecom department.
- It allows people to track radiation emitted from mobile towers within a locality and check their compliance with the stipulated norms.
- It is aimed at clearing “myths and misconceptions” about mobile towers and emissions from them.
Ganga Swachhta Sankalp Divas
- Ganga Swachhta Sankalp Divas was observed on 2 May 2017 by the National Mission on Clean Ganga (NMCG) at 12 locations including Allahabad, Varanasi, Kanpur, Patna, Sahibganj, Bhagalpur, Raj Ghat (Hardoi), Kolkatta, Srinagar ( Uttarakhand), Bithoor, Devprayag and Vidhur Kuti.
- Over thirty more locations observed the day through the support of local NGOs, Ganga Vichaar Manch and volunteers.
- The main aim of celebrating the day is to spread awareness and encourage the public to actively involve themselves in the river’s rejuvenation process through the Ganga Swachhta Sankalp that reiterates their commitment to Swachh Ganga through a series of events like Swachhta Sandesh rally, Shram Daan and plantation.
- The day also aims to stir a sense of pride and ownership among citizens to rouse support for Namami Gange programme.
Stamp on Ramanujacharya’s 1,000th birth anniversary
- A commemorative stamp has been released on the 1,000th birth anniversary of Saint Ramanujacharya.
- Ramanuja was a Hindu theologian, philosopher, and one of the most important exponents of the Sri Vaishnavism tradition within Hinduism.
- He is famous as the chief proponent of Vishishtadvaita subschool of Vedānta.
- He wrote influential texts, such as bhāsya on the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, all in Sanskrit.
1 May: International Labour Day
- International Labour Day 2017 was celebrated across the world on 1 May 2017.
- The day is also known as International Worker’s Day and May Day.
- The day is celebrated by the working classes and is promoted by the international labour movement, socialists and communists.
- The International Labour Day is celebrated to commemorate the happenings of 4 May 1886, the Haymarket affair (Haymarket Massacre) in the Chicago.
- It was a big event as workers were on the general strike for their eight-hour workday and police were doing their job of dispersing the general public from the crowd. Suddenly, a bomb was thrown over the crowd and then police started firing over the workers and four demonstrators were killed.
- It was due to the sacrifice of these workers that eight-hours was declared as the legal time for the workers in the National Convention at Chicago in 1884 by the American Federation of Labor.
- To commemorate this event, the Second International, a pan-national organization of socialist and communist political parties, marked 1 May as the International Labour Day in 1891.
Aerotropolis to come up in Assam
- The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has proposed to build an aerotropolis in Assam, which would bring huge benefits to the region in terms of civil aviation and air connectivity.
- An aerotropolis is an airport centric metropolitan hub where infrastructure and economy are all based on the access to the airport which serves as a commercial point like any traditional metropolis which contains a central city commercial core area and commuter-linked suburbs.
Bhitarkanika National Park
- Bhitarkanika National Park is located in Kendrapara district of Odisha in eastern India.
- It is in news as Bhitarkanika National Park authorities have imposed restrictions on entry of tourists into the park for three months to provide undisturbed environment for breeding by estuarine crocodiles.
- Bhitarkanika is one of the largest sanctuaries of crocodiles in the region with 1,671 reptiles.
The Buxa Tiger Reserve
- The Buxa Tiger Reserve is a 760-square-kilometre tiger reserve located inside the Buxa National Park in West Bengal.
- It is in news as Six tigers would be relocated to Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR) in north Bengal from neighbouring Assam as part of a plan for augmentation of tiger population in the reserve which was approved by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
- The forest department had taken up tiger augmentation plan in Buxa-Jaldapara for which detailed project report was prepared in consultation with Wildlife Institute of India and Global Tiger Forum.
- The Buxa Tiger Reserve is situated in the Buxa Hills of the southern hilly area of Bhutan.
- Northern boundary of Buxa Tiger Reserve runs along the international border with Bhutan.
- The Sinchula hill range lies all along the northern side of BTR and the eastern boundary touches that of the Assam state.
- It is the eastern most extension of extreme bio-diverse North-East India and represents highly endemic Indo-Malayan region.
- The fragile “Terai Eco-System” constitutes a part of this reserve.
- The Phipsu Wildlife Sanctuary of Bhutan is contiguous to the north of BTR.
- Manas National Park lies on east of BTR. BTR, thus, serves as international corridor for Asian elephant migration between India and Bhutan.
‘79th Armour Day’
- The Armoured Corps celebrated its ‘79th ARMOUR DAY’ on 01 May 17.
- The event commemorates the mechanization of the erstwhile Indian Cavalry on 01 May 1938, when the SCINDE HORSE became the first Indian Cavalry Regiment to stable its horses and convert to the Vickers Light Tank and Chevrolet Armoured Cars.
- Organized, equipped and trained to effectively accomplish assigned mission in all types of conventional operations in varied terrain, the Armoured Corps also contributes substantially to the Army’s counter insurgency effort with a large representation in the Rashtriya Rifles and Assam Rifles.
- It has a standing Contingent in the UN Peace Keeping Mission in Lebanon as its representatives amidst the blue beret fraternity.