Government Schemes & Policies
- Only 7 in 100 anganwadi beneficiaries are in cities
- Conference on Capacity Building Reforms and iGOT
Issues related to Health & Education
- Classical Swine fever vaccine
- Coronavirus outbreak declared a State calamity in Kerala
- Mukti Caravan mobilising people against child trafficking
- Anti-dumping duty on PTA removed
Bilateral & International Relations
- Blue Dot Network
- 4th EAS Conference on Maritime Security Cooperation
Defence & Security Issues
- Maharashtra tops list of States hit by global medical data leak
- Oil Spill Causes Massive Fire Over Assam’s Burhi Dihing River
Science & Technology
- Centre to bar domestic RO systems where tap water meets BIS norms
- Government has lifted a duty on a chemical- Purified Terephthalic Acid
Persons in News
- Vikram Sarabhai Centenary Programme
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Government Schemes & Policies
Only 7 in 100 anganwadi beneficiaries are in cities
For every 100 anganwadi beneficiaries in India, only seven are in urban areas, according to the government’s response to a Right to Information (RTI). Because of a severe lack of anganwadis in cities, leading to poor coverage of the government’s flagship programme in early childhood development.
- Anganwadis centres or day-care centres are set up under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) by the Women and Child Development Ministry.
- The aim of the scheme is to reduce infant mortality and child malnutrition.
- Beneficiaries: include children in the age group of six months to six years, and pregnant women and lactating mothers.
Services provided under centers are:
- The services include supplementary nutrition; pre-school non-formal education; immunisation, nutrition and health education; as well as referral services.
Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) 2016-18:
- It found that 35% of children under five were stunted and 17% were wasted.
- It said 22% of children in the age group of 5-9 years were stunted and 23% were thin for their age. Also, 20% of those in the 10-19 years age group were thin for their age.
- It mentioned 2% of under four-year-olds, 8% of children in the 5-9 years age group, and 6% of adolescents, were overweight.
- Data also showed that children in urban areas showed two to three times higher prevalence of obesity as compared to their peers in rural areas.
- CNNS is a nationally representative and comprehensive nutritional survey profiling children and adolescents (ages 0–19) in India.
- The survey also includes the under-researched population of children and adolescents between the ages of 5–14 years.
- It is supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and is a collaborative effort with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
- While there were a total 7.95 crore beneficiaries of the anganwadi scheme in the country till September 2019, only 55 lakh were registered at urban anganwadis.
Conference on Capacity Building Reforms and iGOT
Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) which is nodal Department for training of Government functionaries, has recently conferenced on Capacity Building Reforms and Integrated Government Online Training (iGOT).
- The conference iplanned to familiarize the Cadre Controlling Authorities (CCAs) and Central Training Institutes (CTIs) with the new digital capacity-building framework to deliver online content.
Integrated Government Online Training (iGOT):
- The conference decided to widen the scope and coverage of the initiative of Integrated Government Online Training (iGOT) programme.
- It is a comprehensive online learning platform that will enable cadre controlling authorities, domain departments and both Central and State Training Institutions to deliver training in online, face-to-face and blended manner.
- The iGOT programme was launched in December 2018 and it will play a major role towards achieving a comprehensive and systematic capacity building initiative for India’s all civil services.
- To augment the existing training mechanism with on-line module based training coupled with certification.
- To make training inputs available to Government officers/officials on-sight and on-flexi time basis.
- Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) is primarily responsible for formulating policies with regard to capacity building and strengthening the Human resources within the government.
Issues related to Health & Education
Classical Swine fever vaccine
The Indian Institute of Veterinary Research (IVRI) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has developed an indigenous vaccine to control Classical Swine fever.
Classical Swine fever (CSF):
- Classical Swine fever (CSF) is a contagious viral disease of domestic and wild swine that causes a high mortality rate of swine in India.
- India has been using UK based swine fever vaccine since 1964. The traditional vaccine is a lapinized CSF vaccine which is manufactured from rabbits.
- CSF has high mortality rate with annual loss of about Rs 4.29 billion to India. Moreover, against the annual requirement of 20 million doses, the availability is only 1.20 million doses.
- The most common method of transmission is through direct contact between healthy swine and those infected with CSF virus. The virus is present in bodily secretions and faeces.
- CSF virus can survive in pork and processed pork products for months when meat is refrigerated and for years when it is frozen.
- The disease has been spread through legal and illegal transport of animals, and by feeding swill containing infective tissues to pigs.
Indigenous vaccine for Swine fever:
- The new vaccine has been developed using Indian strain and lakhs of doses can be produced very easily using the cell culture technology and the country’s requirement can be easily fulfilled.
- The new vaccine will provide two years of immunization capacity, contrary to the existing vaccine which provided 3 to 6 months of immunization capacity.
- The cell cultured vaccine will do away with the sacrificing of rabbits.
- The new vaccine is quite economical, and will be ready for commercial production within a year.
Coronavirus outbreak declared a State calamity in Kerala
With the confirmation of a third case of the novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection in the State, Kerala declared the epidemic a State calamity. 2,239 travellers from China and other nCoV-affected countries have been placed under surveillance in Kerala.
What is State of Calamity?
- A condition involving mass casualty and/or major damages to the environment, property, infrastructures, disruption of means of livelihoods and businesses, and normal way of life of people in the affected areas as a result of the occurrence of natural or human-induced hazard.
Wuhan Virus/ Coronavirus:
- According to World Health Organization (WHO), coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
- A coronavirus has many “regularly arranged” protrusions on its surface, because of which the entire virus particle looks like an emperor’s crown, hence the name “coronavirus”.
- It can affect mammals including humans, pigs, cattle, cats, dogs, martens, camels, hedgehogs and some birds.
- SARS was believed to have been transmitted from civet cats to humans while MERS travelled from a type of camel to humans.
- So far, there are four known disease-causing coronaviruses, among which the best known are the SARS corona virus and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, both of which can cause severe respiratory diseases.
- A novel coronavirus, identified by Chinese authorities is currently named 2019-nCoV, is a new strain that had not been previously identified in humans.
Mukti Caravan mobilising people against child trafficking
A Mukti Caravan is mobilising people against child trafficking with the focus on generating awareness about preventive procedures in place to combat forced labour, exploitation and sexual abuse of children.
- The Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF) and Rajasthan Police have joined hands to run this campaign.
- Mukti Caravan is a campaign on wheels that will go from village to village across India raising awareness about evils like child trafficking, child labour and child sexual abuse.
- Activists, government officials, theatre artists, National Legal Services Authority representatives, judiciary are the partners of this campaign.
- Mukti Caravan was launched by Nobel peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi in 1997.
Anti-dumping duty on PTA removed
Finance Minister in Union Budget speech announced the removal of anti-dumping duty that was levied on imports of a chemical called PTA, giving a huge relief to the polyester industry.
What is PTA?
- Purified Terephthalic Acid
- (PTA) is a crucial raw material used to make various products, including polyester fabrics.
- PTA makes up for around 70-80% of a polyester product and hence important to those involved in the manufacture of man-made fabrics or their components.
- This includes products like polyester staple fibre and spun yarn, sportswear, dresses, curtains, covers, etc. have a certain proportion of polyester in them.
What is Anti-dumping duty?
- An anti-dumping duty is a tariff that a domestic government imposes on foreign imports that it believes are priced below fair market value, to protect the interest of the producers in that country.
Why was the duty imposed?
- The anti-dumping duty on PTA was imposed after two domestic manufacturers, MCC PTA India Corp Pvt Ltd and Reliance Industries Ltd, approached the Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) in October 2013.
- The companies said that they accounted for over 50% of the domestic PTA industry, and some countries like China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia etc. are exporting the product to India at prices lower than its value in their own domestic markets.
- This dumping of PTA into the Indian market had a “significant” adverse impact on the domestic industry.
- Companies using PTA to manufacture polyester products claimed that the move went against the government’s vision of making the textiles sector a globally competitive industry.
Significance of the removal:
- Removing the duty will allow PTA users to source from international markets and may make it as much as $30 per 1,000 kg cheaper than now.
- The easy availability of this PTA at competitive prices is desirable to unlock immense potential in the textile sector, seen as a significant employment generator.
- Mono Ethylene Glycol (MEG), another raw material used in the manufacturing of polyester, is currently the subject of another anti-dumping duty investigation initiated by DGTR recently.
Bilateral & International Relations
Blue Dot Network
The United States, Australia and Japan’s new Blue Dot Network will serve as a globally recognized seal of approval for major infrastructure projects, to let people know that projects are sustainable and not exploitative.
- The initiative aligns with the G20’s Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment, particularly on governance, environmental standards and transparency.
- The three countries announced the network during the November 4, 2019, Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Bangkok.
- To bring together governments, the private sector and other organizations behind a set of high-quality global infrastructure development standards.
- Facilitate transparent, competitive, market-driven system that is mutually beneficial for all the stakeholders involved.
- To promote high-standard investment and private sector–led economic development.
- To do away with the system based on a state-led economic model, where deals are closed with bribes and fail to account for the needs of local communities.
- Any country or company can participate in the network, as long as it agrees to adhere to the network’s high standards of promoting quality, private sector-led investment.
- Projects that seek to be certified by the Blue Dot Network will complete an online application.
- When projects are certified by the Blue Dot Network, communities and investors can be confident about the high standards and sustainability of the infrastructure.
4th EAS Conference on Maritime Security Cooperation
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), in partnership with the governments of Australia and Indonesia, will organise the fourth EAS Conference on Maritime Security Cooperation in Chennai from February 6-7, 2020.
About the summit:
- This conference is the fourth in a series of EAS Maritime Security Conferences organised by the Indian government – the first conference was organised in New Delhi in November 2015.
- The summit was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 14th East Asia Summit (EAS) in Bangkok in November 2019.
- To serve as a platform for free and open dialogue among all the EAS partners on various issues of maritime security cooperation, and to come up with useful suggestions on tackling challenges in the maritime domain in a cooperative manner.
- As a nation deeply committed to strengthening the EAS as an ASEAN-led organisation, India continues to contribute positively to the EAS goals, including maritime security cooperation.
- Various aspects of maritime security cooperation under five thematic sessions such as Holistic Maritime Security, Maritime Safety, Transition to a Regional Blue Economy, India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative and the Way Forward.
- The sessions will be interactive in nature and more than 100 participants are expected to attend the Conference, including about 50 delegates nominated by the EAS participating countries.
East Asia Summit:
- The East Asia Summit is the premier forum in the Asia-Pacific region to deal with issues relating security and defence.
- It is a forum held annually by leaders of 18 countries in the East Asian, Southeast Asian and South Asian regions.
- EAS meetings are held after annual ASEAN leaders’ meetings.
- Apart from the 10 ASEAN member states (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam), East Asia Summit includes India, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, United States and Russia.
- Since its inception in 2005, it has played a significant role in the strategic, geopolitical and economic evolution of East Asia.
Significance of EAS:
- EAS, representing nearly 50 per cent of the world’s population and over 20 per cent of global trade, is a mega gathering and is a testimony to the rise of Asia.
- EAS is a region of strong and fast growing economies. It is considered the third pole of world economy after the US and Europe. Its four major economic players namely Japan, China, India and Korea are among the twelve largest ranking global economies.
- Financial and monetary cooperation between ASEAN+6 or EAS countries could be an area of fruitful cooperation in view of the fact that their combined foreign exchange reserves exceed $ 3 trillion.
Significance for India:
- For India, EAS acts as an alternative to the APEC in which India doesn’t enjoy the membership.
- India’s membership to the EAS is a recognition of its fast growing economic and political clout.
- Act East policy of India: In order to build multi-faceted relations with ASEAN and other multilateral nations and strengthen bilateral relations India has emphasized upon its Act East Policies for which EAS will prove crucial.
- China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea and the nature of its growing investments has led the ASEAN countries to view India as a potential power that could balance a rising China.
- India’s strength lies in service sector and information-technology and Japan has a sound capital base. Thus, there are complementarities in trade and production structures of the EAS members.
- India’s deep cultural and civilizational links with the EAS countries are widely known. India can play a major role in cultural and people to people cooperation with the region, which can reinforce the economic momentum for community building.
Defence & Security Issues
Maharashtra tops list of States hit by global medical data leak
Medical details of over 120 million Indian patients have been leaked and made freely available on the Internet, according to a recent report published by Greenbone Sustainable Resilience, a German cybersecurity firm.
Key highlights of report:
- Report places Maharashtra at the top of the States affected by the leak in terms of the number of data troves available online followed by the Karnataka.
- The first report of Greenbone Sustainable Resilience was published in 2019 revealed a widespread data leak of a massive number of records, including images of CT scans, X-rays, MRIs and even pictures of the patients.
- Report classifies countries in the good, bad and ugly categories based on the action taken by their governments. India ranks second in the ugly category after the U.S.
What is the reason?
- These Medical details are stored in Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS) servers which are not secure and linked to the public Internet without any protection, making them easily accessible to malicious elements.
What is Picture Archiving and Communications Systems?
- PACS is a medical imaging technology used primarily in healthcare organizations to securely store and digitally transmit electronic images and clinically-relevant reports.
- The leak is worrying because the affected patients can include anyone and could deal a huge blow to their image and fake identities being created using the details, which can be misused in any possible number of ways.
Oil Spill Causes Massive Fire Over Assam’s Burhi Dihing River
A massive fire breaks out on Assam’s Burhi Dihing river after an underwater crude oil pipeline exploded due to a leakage.
Dihing or Burhi Dihing:
- Dihing is a large tributary of the Brahmaputra River in Assam.
- The river originates in the Eastern Himalayas in Arunachal Pradesh and flows through Assam to its confluence with the Brahmaputra at Dihingmukh.
- The Dihing has created number of oxbow lakes in the area.
- An oxbow lake is a U-shaped lake that forms when a wide meander of a river is cut off, creating a free-standing body of water.
Science & Technology
Centre to bar domestic RO systems where tap water meets BIS norms
The Union Environment Ministry has published a draft notification that effectively prohibits users from installing membrane-based water purification (mainly reverse osmosis) systems in their homes if the water has been sourced from a supply that meets the Bureau of Indian Standards’ drinking water norms.
Installation or use of MWPS (Membrane based Water Purification System) shall be prohibited for purification of supplied water:
- Which is subjected to conventional flocculation, filtration and disinfection process OR
- Which is from any sources which are in compliance with acceptable limit for drinking water prescribed by Bureau of Indian Standard.
Membrane-based water purification systems (MWPS):
- MWPS is a process that removes unwanted constituents from water. A membrane is a barrier that allows certain substances to pass through while blocking others.
- Osmosis is the diffusion of water molecules, from a region where the water molecules are in higher concentration, to a region where they are in lower concentration, through a partially permeable membrane.
- Example: Isolated plant cells placed in a dilute solution or water will take in water by osmosis. Plant cells take in water until the cell wall pushes back on the cell’s contents with the same pressure.
- Animal cells also take in and lose water by osmosis. They do not have a cell wall, so will change size and shape when put into solutions that are at a different concentration to the cell contents.
- Reverse osmosis (RO) is a special type of filtration that uses a semi-permeable, thin membrane with pores small enough to pass pure water through while rejecting larger molecules such as dissolved salts (ions) and other impurities such as bacteria.
- Reverse osmosis is used to produce highly purified water for drinking water systems, industrial boilers, food and beverage processing, cosmetics, pharmaceutical production, seawater desalination, and many other applications.
- Desalination is removal of dissolved salts from seawater and in some cases from the brackish (slightly salty) waters of inland seas, highly mineralized groundwater and municipal wastewaters.
Reverse Osmosis (RO) Desalination:
- RO Desalination is one of the technique used to desalinate the brackish or salty water.
- RO is the most prevalent technology to convert salt water into freshwater.
- In this technology, a plant pumps in salty or brackish water, filters separate the salt from the water, and the salty water is returned to the sea.
- The quality standards for drinking water in India is prescribed by Bureau of Indian Standards.
Government has lifted a duty on a chemical- Purified Terephthalic Acid
During Budget speech, Finance Minister said the government was abolishing in public interest an anti-dumping duty that was levied on imports of a chemical called PTA.
Purified Terephthalic Acid (PTA):
- It is a raw material which is used in the production of high-performance multipurpose plastics including polyester fabrics.
- PTA makes up for around 70-80% of a polyester product and therefore it is important to those involved in the manufacture of man-made fabrics or their components.
- It includes products like polyester staple fibre and spun yarn that were used in cushions and sofas. Some sportswear, swimsuits, dresses, trousers, curtains, sofa covers, jackets, car seat covers and bed sheets have a certain proportion of polyester in them.
- Mono Ethylene Glycol (MEG) is an another raw material used in the manufacturing of polyester.
Persons in News
Vikram Sarabhai Centenary Programme
ISRO is running a year long programme for commemorating the birth centenary of its founder father Dr. Vikram A Sarabhai.
Highlights of the programme:
- The programme includes exhibitions, competitions to school children, journalism awards and speeches by eminent personalities.
- It is being conducted across 100 selected cities all over India from August 12, 2019 in Ahmedabad and the valedictory function for the year long programme will be at Thiruvananthapuram on August 12, 2020.
- A commemorative coin on Sarabhai was launched and ‘Space on Wheels’ exhibition inside a bus was inaugurated.
Vikram Sarabhai (1919-1971):
- Vikram Sarabhai is considered the Father of Indian space programme. Vikram Sarabhai, along with noted scientist, Homi Jahangir Bhabha, spearheaded Indian space research.
- Sarabhai founded the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad in the year 1947. The laboratory started its operation from RETREAT, Sarabhai’s residence in Ahmedabad. Its first topic of research was cosmic rays.
- He persuaded the government of India to set up the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) in 1962 to concentrate on space research, after Russia launched the Sputnik satellite.
- Sarabhai was the first chairman of the INCOSPAR.
- INCOSPAR was restructured and renamed as Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 1969. Sarabhai took over an advisory role in ISRO as well.
- Sarabhai also set up India’s first rocket launch site in Thumba, a small village near the Thiruvananthapuram airport in Kerala.
- Vikram Sarabhai was also responsible for bringing cable television to India. His constant contact with NASA paved a way for the establishment of Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) in 1975.
- Sarabhai was the mastermind behind building India’s first satellite, Aryabhata.
- He was one of the founding members of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA).
- Vikram Sarabhai received the Padma Bhushan in 1966 for his contribution to India’s progress. He was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1972, posthumously.