Issues related to Health & Education
- National Institute of Technology kick-starts programme under GIAN
- Health Ministry forms a Solidarity Human Chain on World Health Day
- ADB cuts India’s growth rate to 7.2% in 2019-20
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Three Bejjur vultures die of unknown causes
- India Accounts for Quarter of the World’s Air Pollution Deaths: State of the Global Air 2019 report
Art & Culture
- ‘Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman’ Awards
Science & Technology
- Study disproves Hawking, shows tiny black holes may not account for Dark Matter
Key Facts for Prelims
- PM Modi gets Order of Zayed
- 5 April: National Maritime Day:
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Issues related to Health & Education
National Institute of Technology kick-starts programme under GIAN
The National Institute of Technology, Tiruchi, launched a five-day programme under the Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) in Higher Education, aimed at tapping the talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs.
About Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN):
Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) in Higher Education is scheme of HRD Ministry launched in 2015.
Aim of GIAN:
- GIAN aims at tapping the talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs to engage with the institutes of higher education in India to augment the country’s existing academic resources, accelerate the pace of quality reforms, and further strengthen India’s scientific and technological capabilities.
Objectives of GIAN:
GIAN is envisaged to achieve the following objectives:
- To increase the footfalls of reputed international faculty in the Indian academic institutes.
- Provide opportunity to our faculty to learn and share knowledge and teaching skills in cutting edge areas.
- To provide opportunity to our students to seek knowledge and experience from reputed International faculty.
- To create avenue for possible collaborative research with the international faculty
- To increase participation and presence of international students in the academic Institutes.
- Opportunity for the students of different Institutes/Universities to interact and learn subjects in niche areas through collaborative learning process.
- Provide opportunity for the technical persons from Indian Industry to improve understandings and update their knowledge in relevant areas.
- Motivate the best international experts in the world to work on problems related to India.
- Develop high quality course material in niche areas, both through video and print that can be used by a larger body of students and teachers.
- To document and develop new pedagogic methods in emerging topics of national and international interest.
Health Ministry forms a Solidarity Human Chain on World Health Day
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare along with World Health Organization (WHO) formed a Solidarity Human Chain as part of the World Health Day celebrations to reaffirm their commitment to bridging gaps and working collaboratively towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
About World Health day:
- April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day.
- The day was initiated at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and was first out in effect in 1950,
- The celebration has aimed to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization.
- The theme of World Health Day 2019 is Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere.
What is Universal health coverage (UHC)?
- Universal health coverage (UHC) means that all people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative
health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.
- Achieving UHC is one of the key targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
This definition of UHC embodies three related objectives:
- Equity in access to health services – everyone who needs services should get them, not only those who can pay for them;
- The quality of health services should be good enough to improve the health of those receiving services; and
- People should be protected against financial-risk, ensuring that the cost of using services does not put people at risk of financial harm.
UHC is firmly based on the WHO constitution of 1948 declaring health a fundamental human right and on the Health for All agenda set by the Alma Ata declaration in 1978.
What UHC is not?
There are many things that are not included in the scope of UHC:
- UHC does not mean free coverage for all possible health interventions, regardless of the cost, as no country can provide all services free of charge on a sustainable basis.
- UHC is not just about health financing. It encompasses all components of the health system: health service delivery systems, the health workforce, health facilities and communications networks, health technologies, information systems, quality assurance mechanisms, and governance and legislation.
- UHC is not only about ensuring a minimum package of health services, but also about ensuring a progressive expansion of coverage of health services and financial protection as more resources become available.
- UHC is not only about individual treatment services, but also includes population-based services such as public health campaigns, adding fluoride to water, controlling mosquito breeding grounds, and so on.
- UHC is comprised of much more than just health; taking steps towards UHC means steps towards equity, development priorities, and social inclusion and cohesion.
ADB cuts India’s growth rate to 7.2% in 2019-20
Asian Development Bank (ADB), in its flagship publication Asian Development Outlook 2019, mentioned that recent policy measures by the Government to improve the investment climate and boost private consumption and investment will help India to lift economic growth in the next two fiscal years.
India specific Highlights of Asian Development Outlook 2019:
- Asian Development Bank (ADB) lowered India’s growth by 40 basis points to 7.2 per cent in fiscal year 2019-20.
- The growth rate in FY 2020-21 likely to be 7.3 per cent.
- Consumer price inflation is expected to rise to 4.3 per cent in FY 2019 and 4.6 per cent in FY2020 as food costs increase slightly and domestic demand strengthens.
- Imports are expected to rise mainly due to stronger domestic demand while a growth slowdown in India’s key export destinations would dent export growth.
- The current account deficit is expected to widen a bit to 2.4 per cent of GDP in FY2019 and 2.5 per cent of GDP in FY2019. The deficit is expected to be financed comfortably by capital flows, given that India has emerged as an attractive destination for foreign investment.
- According to ADB, India will remain one of the fastest-growing major economies in the world this year given strong household spending and corporate fundamentals.
Highlights of other regions:
- For the entire Asia, it forecasted that growth will soften to 5.7 per cent in 2019 and 5.6 per cent in 2020. Developing Asia’s growth in 2018 was 5.9 per cent.
- Excluding the newly industrialized economies, developing Asia is forecast to expand 6.2 per cent in 2019 and a slightly slower 6.1 per cent in 2020. Still, it is lower than 6.4 per cent growth recorded in 2018.
- According to the report, downside risks to growth include a higher-than-expected moderation in global demand and a potential escalation of trade tensions.
- Lower-than-targeted tax revenues or a delay in strengthening bank and corporate balance sheets could also undermine economic expansion.
- The East Asian economy slowed down by 0.2% to 6.0% during 2018, due to debilitated external trade and moderating investment in China however sustained by strong domestic consumption.
About Asian Development Bank (ADB):
- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank established on 19 December 1966.
- It is headquartered in the Ortigas Center located in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines.
- The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East or ECAFE) and non-regional developed countries.
- ADB was modelled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with member’s capital subscriptions.
- ADB has been modelled closely on the World Bank.
- ADB is an official United Nations Observer.
- ADB offers both Hard Loans and Soft loans. The ADB offers “hard” loans from ordinary capital resources (OCR) on commercial terms, and the Asian Development Fund (ADF) affiliated with the ADB extends “soft” loans from special fund resources with concessional conditions.
Members & funding:
- The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly known as the
- United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East) and non-regional developed countries.
- Currently, it has 67 members – of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.
- ADB raises funds through bond issues on the world’s capital markets.
- ADB also rely on its members’ contributions, retained earnings from its lending operations, and the repayment of loans.
- Japan holds the largest proportions of shares at 15.67%. The United States holds 15.56%, China holds 6.47%, India holds 6.36%, and Australia holds 5.81%.
Board of Governors:
- It is the highest policy-making body of the bank.
- It is composed of one representative from each member state.
- The Board of Governors also elect the bank’s President who is the chairperson of the Board of Directors and manages ADB.
- The Alternate Board of Governors are nominated by Board of Governors of ADB’s 67 to represent them at the Annual Meeting that meets formally once year to be held in a member country.
Functions of ADB:
- Provides loans and equity investments to its Developing Member Countries (DMCs)
- Provides technical assistance for the planning and execution of development projects and programs and for advisory services
- Promotes and facilitates investment of public and private capital for development
- Assists in coordinating development policies and plans of its DMCs
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Three Bejjur vultures die of unknown causes
Three Indian vultures from the famous Palarapu cliff-habitat in Penchikalpet forest range of Kumram Bheem in Telangana died of unknown reasons about two months ago.
Key facts about Bejjur vultures:
- They are also known as longbilled vultures (Gyps indicus).
- Long-billed Vulture is the smallest of the vultures.
- They feed exclusively on carrion, and mainly remains of cattle.
- These vultures breed in colonies.
- The long billed vultures are listed under the ‘critically endangered’ category by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
India Accounts for Quarter of the World’s Air Pollution Deaths: State of the Global Air 2019 report
A report titled ‘State of Global Air-2019’ was published by the two US based institutes, Health Effects Institute (HEI) and Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation showing global and regional air quality.
About the report:
- The ‘state of global air’ offers the most recent information from the Global Burden of Disease project (GBD) and analysis on levels in air quality and health for countries around the globe.
- The GBD project categorizes each country’s level of development using a sociodemographic index (SDI), which reflects a combination of income levels, educational attainment, and fertility rates.
- The State of the Global Air 2019 report looks at air pollution caused by three of the most problematic pollutants: fine particles (PM2.5), ozone and household (indoor) air pollution.
- The report looks at how long-term exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution has affected health.
- This year’s report includes air pollution’s impact on life expectancy.
India-specific highlights of report:
- The burden of Type 2 diabetes contributed by exposure to fine particulate pollution is the highest in India.
- India tops a list of 13 countries, with populations over 50 million, in which more than 10% of the population was exposed to household air pollution by use of solid fuels. About 60% of India’s population was exposed to household pollution, followed by China with 32%.
- However, the report recognises that the proportion of households cooking with solid fuels in India has dipped from 76% in 2005 to 60% in 2017 due in part to a major government program to shift households from solid fuels to liquefied petroleum gas.
- In India, a sweeping government effort – Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) – seeks to shift more households to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) instead of biomass fuels.
- PMUY provided LPG connections to 35 million poor families free of charge between 2016 and early 2018 and aims to provide 80 million connections by 2020.
Key Global findings of the report:
- In 2017, exposure to PM 2.5 pollution was found to be the third leading risk factor globally for Type 2 diabetes-related deaths and disability after high blood sugar and excessive body weight.
- Air pollution ranks fifth among global risk factors for mortality exceeded only by poor diet, high blood pressure, tobacco exposure, and high blood sugar.
- In 2017, diabetes accounted for more than one million deaths and 57 million life years lost globally — an increase of 175% and 141%, respectively, since 1990.
- Exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution together contributed to over 1.2 million deaths in India and China in 2017.
- Globally, air pollution is estimated to have contributed to about 8.7% of all deaths globally and 5.9% of all life years lost to disability.
- Since 1990, there has been a 68% jump in the number of deaths attributed to PM 2.5 exposure, with the largest spike between 1990 and 2010.
- Russia, the European Union, Japan, Brazil, and the United States saw the most improvements in air quality.
- But the bulk of the population in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, India, and China have been exposed to levels of PM2.5 that are well above the WHO’s warning levels of interim target of 35 ug/m^3.
- Ozone pollution is a continuing challenge in more developed countries and is increasing in less developed areas, posing new air quality concerns.
- Children born in South Asia will live 26 months fewer than they would in an area with better air quality, while globally, life expectancy is lower by 20 months.
- Bhutan having the exposure was still above WHO’s first interim target.
- The top 10 nations having lowest PM2.5 exposure levels were the Maldives, United States, Norway, Estonia, Iceland, Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, Brunei, and Finland.
- Globally, the percentage of the world’s population living in areas that exceed the most-stringent WHO Air Quality Guideline (10 µg/m3 PM2.5) decreased slightly, from 96% in 1990 to 92% in 2017.
- An important precursor to PM2.5 pollution is sulfur dioxide gas (SO2).
Art & Culture
‘Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman’ Awards
The Vice President of India conferred around 100 ‘President’s Certificate of Honour’ and ‘Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman’ Awards to scholars in Classical Languages.
- Vice President also released Linguistic Data Resources for Artificial Intelligence and launched Data Distribution Portal that helps in developing language technology and artificial intelligence tools for many Indian languages.
About Maharshi Badrayan:
- Badarayana is regarded as having written the basic text of the Vedanta system, the Vedāntasūtra a.k.a. Brahmasūtra.
- He was an Indian philosopher about whom almost no personal details are reliably known.
- He is thus considered the founder of the Vedānta system of philosophy.
About the award:
- The Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman distinction is conferred on persons once a year on the Independence Day in recognition of their substantial contribution in the field of Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, Pali, Prakrit, Classical Oriya, Classical Kannada, Classical Telugu and Classical Malayalam.
- The award introduced in the year 2002, is given to selected young scholars in the age group of 30 to 45 years.
- It carries a certificate of honour and a one time cash prize of Rs.1 lakh.
About President’s Award of Certificate of Honour:
- President’s Award of Certificate of Honour was introduced in 1958 to honour Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian scholars.
- The scheme was extended to Pali and Prakrit in 1996. The annual distinction is conferred on the eve of Independence Day.
- For the year 2009, the Presidential Award of Certificate of Honour was also awarded in Sanskrit (International) apart from the Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian and Pali/Prakrit.
Science & Technology
Study disproves Hawking, shows tiny black holes may not account for Dark Matter
An international research team, including Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, has ruled out the possibility of primordial black holes being a major constituent of Dark matter which disproves a theoretical claim of Professor Stephen Hawking.
- Scientist Stephen Hawking suggested a theory that primordial black holes are the source of dark matters.
What is Dark matter?
- Dark matter is a hypothetical form of matter that is thought to account for approximately 85% of the matter in the universe.
- In the solar system, Mercury takes just 88 days to make one revolution around the sun; while Neptune takes 165 years to make one round.
- According to Laws of gravity, stars closer to the centre of galaxies should rotate faster than the stars on the edge. However, in most galaxies, the stars closer to the centre and the stars at the edge of the galaxies take almost same time to make one revolution.
- This implied that some invisible force was giving an extra push to the outer stars, speeding them up. This entity is known as `dark matter’ which has remained as one of the central unresolved puzzles in cosmology since 1930s.
- The material is considered to be a ‘matter’ since it appears to have gravitational attraction, and it is ‘dark’ because it does not seem to interact with light (or with any part of the electromagnetic spectrum).
What is Primordial black holes?
- Cosmologists have come up with various hypothesis to explain the dark matter.
- When the big bang hypothesis (A theory suggesting that the universe started as just a single point and it is continuously stretching) was proposed, physicists proposed that at the initial instant of the big bang, the densities would have been very high at many points, resulting in the formation of small black holes. These were named “primordial black holes”.
- Stephen Hawking investigated them in 1971 and computed that the mass of the primordial black holes could range from as low as one-hundredth of a milligram to as high as more than the mass of a thousand Suns.
What is Gravitational lensing?
- Black holes cannot be visible through any telescope. However, as first suggested by Albert Einstein, if by chance, a tiny primordial black hole rotates around a star, light rays of the star will bend around the black hole due to the gravitational force, resulting in the star appearing to be brighter than it originally is for a short while.
- This phenomenon is called “gravitational lensing”, which only occur when the star, the black hole and the observer on the Earth are aligned in a straight line.
How the experiment was conducted?
- The research team used the Japanese ‘Subaru Telescope’ located in Hawaii to look for evidence of primordial black holes between Earth and Andromeda galaxy using gravitational lensing technique.
- According to researchers, in case of presence of tiny holes, some tiny holes has to passed in front of some of the stars in Andromeda galaxy (nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way), distorting it slightly. This distortion could be spotted by the telescope.
- In contrast to hawking’s theory which state that the Universe is filled with invisible primordial black holes with masses lighter than the moon, researchers found only one such flickering of light which ultimately denies the Hawking theory.
Key Facts for Prelims
PM Modi gets Order of Zayed
Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was awarded the Order of Zayed by United Arab Emirate (UAE) Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
About Order of the Zayed:
- The ‘Order of the Zayed’ is UAE’s highest civilian honour awarded to kings, presidents, and other heads of state. It looks like a large necklace with a sunflower-like medallion at the centre.
- The award aims to highlight officials who have made an effort to strengthen relations between their home country and the UAE.
- Zayed is the founding father of the UAE.
Previous recipients of the Order of Zayed:
- Russian President Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, British Queen Elizabeth II, and former Pakistan President Musharraf.
Other recipients of the Order of Zayed in 2019:
- This year, UAE awarded the Order of Zayed to Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed and President of Eritrea Isaias Afwerki as well.
5 April: National Maritime Day
- The National Maritime Day (NMD) is observed every year on 5 April to commemorate the maiden voyage of the first Indian owned ship “SS Loyalty” (the first ship of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company Ltd) sailed from Bombay to London on 5th April 1919.
- It was crucial step for India shipping history when sea routes were controlled by the British. It marked red letter day in maritime history of India, a country known for its seafaring abilities since ancient days.
- This year is it is 56th edition of NMD and theme is “Indian Ocean-An Ocean of opportunity”.
- The NMD is being observed annually since 1964. It provides opportunity to spread awareness in supporting safe and environmentally sound commerce between continents across the world.
- It should be noted that World Maritime Day (WMD) is observed on September 29 to highlight the importance of shipping safety, maritime security and the marine environment.
- An award called Varuna is conferred to those who have made an outstanding contribution to the Indian maritime sector on this day.