Issues related to Health & Education
- Smoking causes one in 10 deaths worldwide: Study
- First NIMCARE World Health Day Summit 2017
- India jumps 12 spots in WEF’s global travel & tourism ranking
Environment & Ecology
- North India to get its first DNA bank for wild animals
Science & Technology
- Atmosphere found around Earth-like planet GJ 1132b
Key Facts for Prelims
- 100-day plan for reducing trade deficit
- United Nations Messenger of Peace
- IOA grants affiliation to Boxing Federation of India
- Sarin gas: what is it?
Issues related to Health & Education
Smoking causes one in 10 deaths worldwide: Study
According to a recently released Global Burden of Disease (GBD) report, smoking caused one in ten deaths worldwide in 2015.
- It also stated that half of these deaths occurred in just four countries, which are China, India, the United States and Russia.
Highlights of the Report:
- The 10 countries with the largest number of smokers in 2015 were China, India, Indonesia, U.S., Russia, Bangladesh, Japan, Brazil, Germany and the Philippines.
- In 2015, about 6.4 million deaths worldwide were caused by smoking and 52.2 per cent of them took place in China, India, U.S. and Russia.
- China, India, and Indonesia, the three leading countries with male smokers, accounted for 51.4 per cent of the world’s male smokers in 2015.
- India holds 11.2 per cent of the world’s total smokers.
- Deaths attributable to smoking increased by 4.7 per cent in 2015 from the figures in 1990.
- Smoking was rated as a bigger burden on health, moving from the third to the second highest cause of disability.
- The U.S., China and India, the leading three countries in total number of female smokers, accounted for 27.3 per cent of the world’s female smokers.
- The study also warns that the war against tobacco is far from won. The report goes on to argue that despite implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2005, policy makers need to make renewed and sustained efforts to tackle it.
- India, Pakistan and Panama are the three countries that have implemented a large number of tobacco control policies over the last ten years.
- The FCTC is necessary and vital for creating policy environment for more effective tobacco control worldwide but is not enough to fully address each country’s tobacco-control needs.
First NIMCARE World Health Day Summit 2017
The first NIMCARE World Health Day Summit 2017 was recently held in New Delhi.
- The slogan of the first NIMCARE World Health Day Summit is, ‘Unite for a Healthy Mind’.
- The summit will focus on the importance of talking about depression as a vital component of recovery.
- NIMCARE is a non-profit organisation founded in the year 2009, a registered Charitable Trust under the Government of Tamil Nadu.
Problem of Depression in India:
- Out of all the mental health disorders, depression is the most common. Depression affects people of all ages from all walks of life and in all countries.
- As per the National Mental Health Survey 2015-16 conducted by NIMHANS, 5.2% of the Indian adult population suffers from depression in some form or the other.
- The problem of depression often gets ignored due to lack of understanding on the part of family members.
- The social stigma attached to a mental disorder, even if it is easily treatable, is also a major problem in India.
The stigma surrounding mental illness, including depression, remains a barrier to people seeking help throughout the world.
Talking about depression, whether with a family member, friend or medical professional; in larger groups, for example in schools, the workplace and social settings; or in the public domain, in the news media, blogs or social media, helps break down this stigma, ultimately leading to more people seeking help.[Ref: PIB]
India jumps 12 spots in WEF’s global travel & tourism ranking
India was ranked 40th among the 136 economies across the world in 2017 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) released by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Highlights of the report:
- Top 10 Countries in 2017 TTCI include Spain (1st), France (2nd), Germany (3rd), (4th), the United Kingdom (5th), the United States (6th), Australia (7th), Italy (8th), Canada (9th) and Switzerland (10th).
- Globally, advanced economies still hold the top slots, 12 of the top 15 most improved countries are emerging markets.
- Regionally, rise of Asia’s giants shows that Asian Tourism Century is becoming a reality. To reach their potential, Asian countries still have more to do, from enhancing security, promoting their cultural heritage, building their infrastructure and creating stronger visa policies.
- The travel and tourism industry is considered force for good in largely stagnant global economy. This sector accounts for 10% of global GDP, growing faster than other sectors and providing one in 10 jobs.
- In this edition of index, India has jumped 12 places from earlier 52nd position in 2015. But it lagged behind its other Asian peers like Japan (4th) and China (13th).
- India continues to enrich its cultural resources, protecting more cultural sites and intangible expressions through UNESCO World Heritage lists, and via a greater digital presence.
- Some of the factors that helped India to improve its rank include international openness through strong policies such as implementing visa on arrival and e-visas, and improvements ground transport infrastructure.
- Moreover, India’s vast cultural and natural resources and its price competitiveness advantage also attracted international tourists. India has seen continued growth in international arrivals over the past 15 years, reaching the 8 million mark in 2015.
- But, still it needs to improve health conditions which are inadequate at present, similarly, ICT readiness, security concerns and human resources are improving, but remain “weak”.
- Indian travel and tourism sector presents significant opportunities that are yet to be reaped, especially in provision of tourist service infrastructure, and also in terms of additional accommodation capacity and entertainment facilities.
About Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index:
- The index compiled by World Economic Forum (WEF) ranks 136 countries across 14 dimensions under sub-indexes.
- It measures set of factors and policies that enable sustainable development of travel and tourism sector, which in turn, contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country.
- It further reveals how well countries could deliver sustainable economic and societal benefits through their travel and tourism sector.
Environment & Ecology
North India to get its first DNA bank for wild animals
The Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh is going to set up a DNA bank for wildlife, first of its kind in North India.
- Researchers at the institute are in the process of collecting the DNA of all wild animals.
- They have up until now collected samples of around 140 species.
- The bank would be only next to Hyderabad’s Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES), which is currently the only such facility in India.
Functions of this DNA bank:
- Though the bank, the scientists at IVRI’s Centre for Wildlife will be able to tell the name and schedule of the species by studying just a part of the meat, hair, blood, skin or bone of any animal.
- The centre would also be collecting serum of animals.
- The move is expected to assist in research and help bring down poaching and smuggling of wildlife.
Need for DNA Bank:
- Forest and police officials at times catch poachers and recover animal parts but the species of the animals is difficult to determine.
- Experts at times are able to suspect the species based on the type of meat or bone and the population of animals present in the area of origin of the body parts.
- But if scientists get any animal’s meat, hair, blood or any other part from which cells can be obtained, they will compare it with the DNA bank to know the name and schedule of species.
- The schedule of the species will help in knowing that whether animal falls in endangered category or not.
Science & Technology
Atmosphere found around Earth-like planet GJ 1132b
Scientists have for the first time detected atmosphere around an Earth-like planet beyond our solar system.
- The planet, GJ 1132b, which orbits the dwarf star GJ 1132, is reported to be 39 light years away from Earth.
- The discovery is a significant step towards discovering life beyond Earth.
- The planet is reported to have a radius of about 1.4 times that of the Earth and mass of about 1.6 times that of the Earth.
- The researchers initially called the planet a potential Venus twin considering its rocky world with a high surface temperature.
- The recent discovery shows that the planet also has a thick atmosphere. Though Venus has a thick atmosphere as well, the atmosphere of the two planets may be made up of different compositions.
- While Earth’s atmosphere is mostly made up of nitrogen with a large oxygen component, Venus’ is a thick veil of carbon dioxide.
- According to the researchers, the new planet’s atmosphere is likely to be rich in water vapour or methane.
While this is not the first instant that the scientists have discovered an atmosphere around a planet, as they have previously detected atmospheres around large Jupiter-like gaseous bodies and on the even larger super-Earth, this is the first time that they have detected it around an exoplanet that is almost close to Earth’s size.
Scientists can use a planet’s atmosphere to identify potential traces of life on it or to determine if it is suitable for life, as we have on earth.[Ref: The Hindu]
Key Facts for Prelims
100-day plan for reducing trade deficit
- United States and China have agreed to pursue a ‘100-day plan’ aimed at reducing the US trade deficit with China.
- Decision in this regard was taken by US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in their first summit held in Florida, US.
- They also agreed to adopt the US-China Comprehensive Dialogue. It will replace the Strategic and Economic Dialogue.
- It is designed to cover 4 fields that include law enforcement, cyber security and economy.
United Nations Messenger of Peace
- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has selected Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai as Messenger of Peace.
- With this, she becomes UN’s youngest-ever Messenger of Peace, the highest honour bestowed by the UN on a global citizen.
- Pakistani education activist Malala became a global symbol of the fight for girls education after being shot in the head in October 2012 for opposing Taliban restrictions on female education.
- She had survived the deadly attack and became an advocate for millions of girls denied formal education around the world.
IOA grants affiliation to Boxing Federation of India
- The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has granted affiliation to the Boxing Federation of India (BFI).
- With this, the BFI now becomes the fully recognised body for Indian boxing. It already has been granted affiliation by AIBA and the Union Sports Ministry.
- The affiliation also ends a logjam that goes back to September 2016 when BFI took charge of the sport after fair elections were conducted in the presence of AIBA and Sports Ministry observers.
- Prior to it, IOA had refused to grant recognition to BFI stating that it still considered the now-defunct Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) as the official national body for the sport.
Sarin gas: what is it?
- The United States believes the Syrian government employed a sarin-like nerve agent in recent deadly attack in the country’s northwest.
- The name sarin comes from the chemists who discovered it by chance: Schrader, Ambros, Ruediger et Van der Linde.
- Originally conceived as a pesticide, sarin was used by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime to gas thousands of Kurds in the northern town of Halabja in 1988.
- Inhaled or absorbed through the skin, the gas kills by crippling the respiratory center of the central nervous system and paralysing the muscles around the lungs.
- The combination results in death by suffocation, and sarin can contaminate food or water supplies, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Symptoms of exposure to the agent include nausea and violent headaches, blurred vision, drooling, muscle convulsions, respiratory arrest and loss of consciousness.
- Sarin is 26 times more deadly than cyanide gas. Even when it does not kill, sarin’s effects can cause permanent harm —damaging a victim’s lungs, eyes and central nervous system.
- Heavier than air, the gas can linger in an area for up to six hours, depending on weather conditions.