Polity & Governance
- India’s second FTII to be set up in Arunachal
Issues related to Health & Education
- Gender gap narrowing in higher education: HRD survey
- Food poisoning, a common outbreak in 2017
- Kerala’s fight against AMR
- CBDT relaxes norms for MAT on firms facing insolvency
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- ‘Green’ crackers on the anvil
- Mankidia denied habitat in Simlipal
- The battle of Bhima-Koregaon
Art & Culture
- Flamingo festival begins at Pulicat area
- Medaram Jatara to be National Festival
- NASA sees first direct proof of ozone hole recovery
Key Facts for Prelims
- Solar city initiative
For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here
Polity & Governance
India’s second FTII to be set up in Arunachal
Arunachal Pradesh would get its first Film and Television Institute, being set up by the Union Government as part of tapping the potential of the Northeastern region.
- This would be the second such one in the country.
- The first Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) was set up in Pune, an autonomous institute operating under the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
About the FTII:
The Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) is an autonomous institute under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of the Government of India and aided by the Central Government of India.
- It is situated on the premises of the erstwhile Prabhat Film Company in Pune.
- Since its inception in 1960, FTII has become India’s premier film and television institute, with its alumni becoming technicians, actors and directors in the film and television industry.
- FTII is a member of the International Liaison Centre of Schools of Cinema and Television (CILECT), an organisation of the world’s leading schools of film and television.
- The FTII is registered under Societies’ Registration Act of 1860.
- The Society is headed by a President, who also functions as the Chairman of the Governing Council, the Academic Council and the Standing Finance Committee.
- The Governing Council is constituted by election from among the members of the Society. The Governing Council is the apex body of the FTII and is responsible for making all major policy decisions of the Institute.
Issues related to Health & Education
Gender gap narrowing in higher education: HRD survey
The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) released the 8th All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) for the year 2016-17.
Highlights of the AISHE 2016-17:
Gender gap related:
- The gender gap in India’s higher educational institutions decreased by over nine lakh from 2011-12 to 2016-17 (31.5 lakh to 21.5 lakh) with girl students outnumbering men in eight disciplines in 2016-17 academic session.
- While in master’s of arts, there are 160 women for every 100 men, in bachelor’s of science (nursing) has 384 women for every 100 men.
- Even in the postgraduate classes of science and commerce, women have handsomely outnumbered men with 167 and 158 respectively per 100 males.
- However, in undergraduate and technical and professional courses like BTech, law or management, the enrolment is skewed in favour of males and the gap is significant.
- In Seven states — Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, J&K, Nagaland, Sikkim and Kerala — women in higher education have outnumbered men.
Other Key points:
- The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education of Indian has registered an increase from 24.5% in 2015-16 to 25.2% in 2016-17.
- India is aiming to attain GER of 30% by 2020, but it is still far behind countries like China with GER of 43.39% and US with 85.8%.
- The college density in top three states/UTs is Puducherry (49), Telangana (59) and Karnataka (53).
- There hasn’t been much improvement in the internationalisation of education in the country.
About AISHE Survey:
- The AISHE Survey was initiated in the year 2011 to prepare a robust database on higher education.
- Since then, seeing the usefulness of data collected during the very first year of survey, the government decided to make this survey an annual exercise of data collection in the higher education sector.
Food poisoning, a common outbreak in 2017
Recent data put out by the Union Health Ministry’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) has indicated that food poisoning is one of the commonest outbreaks reported in 2017.
- This is apart from acute diarrhoeal disease (ADD).
- The IDSP has interpreted that the incidence of ADD and food poisoning is high in places where food is cooked in bulk, such as canteens, hostels and wedding venues.
About Food poisoning:
- Food poisoning, also called food-borne illness, is caused by eating contaminated food.
- Infectious organisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites or their toxins are the most common causes.
About Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP):
The Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP) is a disease surveillance scheme under the Ministry of Health and Family Affairs in India, assisted by the World Bank.
- The scheme aims to strengthen disease surveillance for infectious diseases to detect and respond to outbreaks quickly.
- The Project was undertaken to meet the World Health Organization Guidelines for South East Asian countries on disease surveillance to track the outbreak of diseases and its potential trans boundary threats.
- To strengthen/maintain decentralized laboratory based IT enabled disease surveillance system for epidemic prone diseases to monitor disease trends and to detect and respond to outbreaks in early rising phase through trained Rapid Response Team (RRTs)
- The scheme seeks to set up a Central Disease Surveillance Unit and a State Surveillance Unit in each State where data is collected and analyzed.
- A large amount of data on disease reports are collected in order to be able to identify the outbreak of a disease, identify its causes and take corresponding preventive and responsive measures.
- An early warning system has been put into place in order to take timely preventive steps.
Kerala’s fight against AMR
With antimicrobial resistance (AMR) emerging as a major concern in the health as well as allied sectors such as veterinary, dairy, fisheries and poultry, Kerala is all set to launch its strategic action plan for tackling AMR.
- The draft AMR action plan of the State is in the process of being finalised and implemented.
Why Kerala needs a strategic action plan?
- The AMR surveillance data, from seven tertiary care centres in the state, have reported that resistance to Colistin, the last-mile antibiotic available to treat pan-drug resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae strains, is a reality in most government medical college hospitals in the State.
- Besides, AMR surveillance in the State is currently restricted to the sample studies done in tertiary care hospitals but this hardly reflects the situation in the community.
The draft focuses on 5 strategies:
- Improving awareness and understanding of the public on AMR.
- Strengthening knowledge through evidence, AMR surveillance.
- Implementation of better infection prevention, control strategies.
- Optimising use of antimicrobial agents in all sectors including health, agriculture, dairy, poultry and fisheries.
- Promoting collaborative research studies on drug resistance in health, allied sectors.
What is Antimicrobial resistance or Superbugs?
- Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) or superbugs happens when microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs. These microorganisms are also termed as “superbugs”.
- As a result, the medicines or drugs become ineffective and infections persist in the body further increasing the risk of spread to others.
Dangers of AMR:
- AMR causes a reduction in the effectiveness of medicines, making infections and diseases difficult or impossible to treat.
- AMR is associated with increased mortality, prolonged illnesses in people and animals, production losses in agriculture, livestock and aquaculture. This threatens global health, livelihoods and food security.
- AMR also increases the cost of treatments and care.
National Action Plan to combat Antimicrobial Resistance:
- Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare announced the finalization of India’s comprehensive and multi-sectoral National Action Plan at the ‘Inter-Ministerial Consultation on AMR containment’ held at New Delhi.
- The Ministers signed a ‘Delhi Declaration’ to contain Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).
- The Delhi Declaration calls for the support of all stakeholders including UN, WHO, FAO and other UN agencies, civil society organizations etc., in developing and implementing the national and state action plans on AMR.
- The National action plan has objectives of enhancing awareness, strengthening surveillance, improving rational use of antibiotics, reducing infections and promoting research.
The National Programme for Containment of AMR is under implementation in 12th Five Year Plan with the following objectives:
- To establish a laboratory-based surveillance system by strengthening laboratories.
- To generate quality data on AMR for pathogens of public health importance.
- To generate awareness among healthcare providers and in the community regarding the rational use of antibiotics.
- To strengthen infection control guidelines and practices and promote rational use of antibiotics.
CBDT relaxes norms for MAT on firms facing insolvency
In a bid to provide taxation relief to the companies facing corporate insolvency proceedings, the Income Tax Department has decided to relax norms for levy of Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) from the current financial year 2017-18.
What is Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT)?
- The concept of MAT was introduced under the Income Tax Act, 1961 to tax ‘Zero Tax’ companies i.e. companies that make high book profit and declare substantial dividends to their shareholders but have no or insignificant taxable income under the Income Tax Act.
- MAT is a way of making companies pay minimum amount of tax.
- As per Section 115JB of the Income Tax Act, MAT is levied on book profit after deducting the amount of loss brought forward or unabsorbed depreciation, whichever is less.
- This decision was taken based on suggestions of various stakeholders suggesting hardship faced by companies against whom application for corporate insolvency resolution process was admitted by Adjudicating Authority due to restriction in allowance of brought forward loss for computation of book profit.
- The Indian Banks Association (IBA) also had sought removal of MAT for new investors apprehending depressed bids.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
‘Green’ crackers on the anvil
In a bid to fight air pollution, Science and Environment Minister has tasked the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research to come up with a way to make crackers that are “environmentally friendly”.
How to make ‘Green’ crackers?
- A key ingredient in several crackers is perchlorate and replacing them with nitrogen-rich materials or nitrocellulose could make them burn cleaner and produce less smoke.
Harmful effects of crackers:
- Other than smoke-aggravating partially-burnt paper that sheaths the gunpowder in crackers, metals in fireworks such as strontium and barium are toxic to human and animal health, and the burning process produces other harmful emissions such as polychlorinated hydrocarbons.
Mankidia denied habitat in Simlipal
Mankidia tribe in Odisha as denied habitat rights inside core area of Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) in Odisha under historic Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
- State Forest Department had objected their habitat rights on grounds that tribals could be attacked by wild animals, especially tigers.
Definition of Habitat in Forest Rights Act:
- “‘Habitat’ as defined under Section 2(h) of the FRA (Forest Rights Act) includes the area comprising the customary habitat and such other habitats in reserved forests and protected forests of primitive tribal groups and pre-agricultural communities and other forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes.
Who is Mankidia?
- Mankidia is one of the 13 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG).
- It is a marginalised group that critically depends on making rope with siali fibre that’s richly available in Similipal.
Who are these PVTGs?
- Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) are more vulnerable among the tribal groups.
- Due to this factor, more developed and assertive tribal groups take a major chunk of the tribal development funds, because of which PVTGs need more funds directed for their development.
- In this context, in 1975, the Government of India initiated to identify the most vulnerable tribal groups as a separate category called PVTGs and declared 52 such groups.
- In 1993 an additional 23 groups were added to the category,making it a total of 75 PVTGs out of 705 Scheduled Tribes, spread over 17 states and one Union Territory(UT), in the country (2011 census).
- Among 75 listed PVTG’s the highest number are found in Odisha (13), followed by Andhra Pradesh (12).
- No base line surveys have been conducted among more than half of such groups.
How PVTGs are identified?
- PVTGs are identified by Union Government according to procedure in which state governments or UT governments submit proposals to Union Ministry of Tribal Welfare for identification of PVTGs.
- After ensuring the criteria is fulfilled, the Tribal Ministry Ministry selects those groups as PVTGs.
About Simlipal National park:
Simlipal National Park is national park and a tiger reserve in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha.
- It is part of Similipal-Kuldiha-Hadgarh Elephant Reserve popularly known as Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve.
- Simlipal National Park derives its name from the abundance of semul (red silk cotton trees) that bloom here.
- It was the second largest national park in India.
- Its reserve is part of UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves since 2009.
- It is home to 99 royal Bengal tigers and 432 wild elephants.
- It is also famous for gaurs (Indian bison), chausingha as well as an
- The park has protected area of 845.70 square kilometres and has some beautiful waterfalls like Joranda and Barehipani.
The battle of Bhima-Koregaon
On January 1, members of the Dalit community on their way to Bhima-Koregaon, a village near Pune, were attacked, allegedly by Hindutva forces. Following this, a State-wide bandh was called.
About the battle of Bhima-Koregaon:
- The Koregaon Ranstambh (victory pillar) is a memorial for British East India Company soldiers killed in a battle on January 1, 1818, in which a small group of infantrymen — about 500 of them Mahars (a Scheduled Caste community) — held off a numerically superior force from the army of Peshwa Bajirao II. The Mahars fought alongside the British, some accounts say, because the Peshwa had scorned their offer to join his army.
Why is Koregaon-Bhima important?
- After Dr. Ambedkar visited the site on January 1, 1927, it became a place of pilgrimage for Dalits, an assertion of pride.
- In recent years, attendance has been in the lakhs, with Dalits coming from all over India. This year, the bicentenary, saw an especially large influx.
- Sambhaji, Shivaji’s son and successor, was captured by the Mughals; according to legend, he was tortured and his mutilated corpse thrown into the Bhima river.
- Govind Mahar, a Dalit, gathered the dismembered parts of his body and performed the last rites; later, Mahars of the village erected a memorial to Sambhaji.
- Govind Mahar’s tomb stands near Sambhaji’s in Vadhu-Budruk village, near Bhima-Koregaon.
What triggered the violence?
- On December 29, a board came up in Vadhu-Budruk hailing Govind Mahar, which, locals say, irked the Marathas in the village, who believe that their ancestors performed Sambhaji’s last rites. Mahar’s tomb was vandalised which triggered violence.
Art & Culture
Flamingo festival begins at Pulicat area
The three-day annual Flamingo Festival was held at Pulicat lake and Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary in Sullurpet mandal.
About Flamingo Festival:
- Flamingo Festival is held every year to promote tourism in Pulicat and Nellapattu.
- Flamingo Festival is being organised for the past 12 years. Migratory birds from Siberia have visit this place during winter season for breeding.
- Somewhere between 9,000 to 12,000 migratory birds arrive at Pulicat region for breeding this season.
- Usually around 80 different avian species migrate to Pulicat for breeding.
- They hunt in shallow waters of lake and breed there. Once the breeding season concludes, they fly away to their native land with their offspring in tow.
About Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary:
- Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary is one of the biggest habitats for some hundreds of pelicans and other birds.
- It is located about 20 km north of the Pulicat Lake on the Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu border.
- This sanctuary spread in an area about 459 hectares and plays important role in nesting of various birds especially migratory birds.
About Pulicat Lake:
- Pulicat Lake is the second largest brackish water lake or lagoon in India, after Chilika Lake.
- It straddles the border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states with over 96% of it in Andhra Pradesh and 4% in Tamil Nadu situated on the Coromandal Coast in South India.
- The barrier island of Sriharikota separates the lake from the Bay of Bengal and is home to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
- The Buckingham Canal, a navigation channel, is part of the lagoon on its western side.
- Two rivers which feed the lagoon are the Arani river at the southern tip and the Kalangi River from the northwest, in addition to some smaller streams.
- The lake encompasses the Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary.
- Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary and Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary are two most popular bird sanctuaries in South India and an important breeding site for spot billed pelicans in India and noted for the many greater flamingos.
Medaram Jatara to be National Festival
Central government is likely to declare Medaram’s Sammakka-Sarakka/Saralamma Jatara a national festival this year.
- Once declared a national festival, Jatara can be considered for ‘intangible cultural heritage of humanity’ tag of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
About the Medaram’s Sammakka-Sarakka/Saralamma Jatara:
Sammakka-Sarakka Jatara held by forest dwelling Koya tribe of Telangana and surrounding States, is the biggest Tribal festival in Asia which is attended by one crore people on an average.
- The event is held bi-annually to honour the twin goddesses Sammakka and her daughter Sarakka.
- Several communities in Telangana society support Jatara as it is also a mythical narrative of two tribal women leaders who fought against the Kakatiya rulers who tried to annex their land and forests.
- According to the myth it was Sammakka’s curse which caused gradual decline and death of Kakatiya rule.
Location of Medaram:
- Medaram is a remote place in the Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary, a part of Dandakaranya, the largest surviving forest belt in the Deccan.
NASA sees first direct proof of ozone hole recovery
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has confirmed that the hole in the ozone layer has shrunk thanks to the ban of CFCs.
- It was confirmed after finding that chlorine levels are rapidly declining in the Earth’s stratosphere.
- A year ago, satellite pictures demonstrated that the opening had started to close and could be totally recuperated by 2060. But it was not clear whether the closure was a direct result of the Montreal Protocol, which was signed by all countries of the world in 1985, phasing out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
- Presently long-term satellite observations by Nasa have shown a 20% decrease in levels of chlorine in the Earth’s atmosphere since 2005, proving for the first time that the worldwide action is having a dramatic impact on the planet.
What is the ozone layer?
- The ozone layer is a deep layer in the stratosphere, encircling the Earth, that has large amounts of ozone in it.
- The layer shields the entire Earth from much of the harmful ultraviolet radiation that comes from the sun.
- The ozone layer exists mainly in the stratosphere, a layer of the atmosphere that reaches from 10 to 50 kilometers (about 6 to 30 miles) above the Earth’s surface.
About UV-B and UV-A radiation:
- UV-B radiation (280- to 315- nanometer (nm) wavelength) from the Sun is partially absorbed in ozone layer. As a result, the amount of UV-B reaching Earth’s surface is greatly reduced.
- UV-A (315- to 400-nm wavelength) and other solar radiation are not strongly absorbed by the ozone layer.
- Human exposure to UV-B increases the risk of skin cancer, cataracts, and a suppressed immune system. UV-B exposure can also damage terrestrial plant life, single cell organisms, and aquatic ecosystems.
What is the ozone hole?
- The “ozone hole” occurs over Antarctica in the very early spring when weather conditions and a lack of sunlight which produces ozone cause the stratospheric ozone layer in this region to become very thin (very little ozone).
Depletion of ozone is due to many factors, the most dominant of which is the release of chlorine from CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) which destroys the ozone.
How ozone hole develops?
- An atmospheric circulation pattern known as the “circumpolar vortex” builds over Antarctica in the winter, due to the very cold air mass that forms there. This vortex prevents stratospheric air from lower latitudes, which contains much more ozone, from penetrating into the atmosphere over Antarctica. At the same time, the long winter night deprives the air in the vortex of sunlight, which is necessary to produce stratospheric ozone. The result is that very low levels of ozone occur during September and October.
What are CFCs?
Chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, are compounds made up of combinations of the elements chlorine, fluorine and carbon; aerosols, refrigerants and foams contain CFCs.
- When these CFCs enter the air, they rise up into the atmosphere to meet up with and destroy ozone molecules.
- Some of the better-known CFCs are the Freon compounds, which were used as cooling ingredients in refrigerators and air conditioners.
- CFCs have lifetimes from 50 to 100 years, so they linger in the atmosphere for a very long time.
- CFCs are not flammable; therefore they were used as propellants that would push other molecules out of the aerosol sprays.
- For the same reason CFCs were used to form foamed plastics.
- Also low flammability enabled people to use these molecules to dry clean hot electronic components of devices such as air conditioning.
- Emissions of CFCs to date have accounted for roughly 80% of total stratospheric depletion.
How do CFCs Destroy the Ozone Layer?
Whilst chlorine is a natural threat to ozone, CFCs which contain chlorine are a man-made problem.
- Although CFC molecules are several times heavier than air, winds mix the atmosphere to altitudes far above the top of the stratosphere much faster than molecules can settle according to their weight.
- CFCs are insoluble in water and relatively unreactive in the lower atmosphere but are quickly mixed and reach the stratosphere regardless of their weight. When UV radiation hits a CFC molecule it causes one chlorine atom to break away.
- The chlorine atom then hits an ozone molecule consisting of three oxygen atoms and takes one of the oxygen molecules, destroying the ozone molecule and turning it into oxygen.
- When an oxygen molecule hits the molecule of chlorine monoxide, the two oxygen atoms join and form an oxygen molecule.
- When this happens, the chlorine atom is free and can continue to destroy ozone. Naturally occurring chlorine has the same effect in the ozone layer, but has a shorter life span.
Key Facts for Prelims
Solar city initiative
- To promote the use of renewable energy in the Capital, BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL), in partnership with United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-PACE-D and Indo-German Collaboration (GIZ), launched a ‘solar city initiative’.
- The ‘utility anchored rooftop programme’ aims to maximise utilisation of solar rooftop potential in south and west Delhi.
- Under this programme, rooftop solar installations will be provided at a single point for the entire apartment complex.