Polity & Governance
- unveils faceless I-T assessment, opens National e-Assessment Centre
Issues related to Health & Education
- Large graphical health warnings on tobacco packets more effective: study
- Donimalai effect: Iron ore price in Karnataka set to fall by ₹600/tonne
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Advanced air pollution warning system to predict stubble burning areas near Delhi
Bilateral & International Relations
- India, Bangladesh sign 7 MoU including setting up a coastal surveillance system radar
Science & Technology
- 2019 Nobel Prize: Kaelin, Ratcliffe, Semenza jointly awarded for work on cells, oxygen
Key Facts for Prelims
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Polity & Governance
Govt. unveils faceless I-T assessment, opens National e-Assessment Centre
Revenue Secretary has launched the faceless assessment system in the Income Tax department and also inaugurated the National e-Assessment Centre.
About Faceless e-Assessment:
- Under the new system of faceless e-Assessment, tax payers will receive notices specifying the issues for which their cases have been selected for scrutiny.
- The replies to the notices can be prepared at ease by the tax payers at their own residence or office and be sent by email to the National e-Assessment Centre by uploading the same on the designated web portal.
Benefits of Faceless Assessment:
- Eliminates human interface between Assessing Officer and Assessee
- Introduces team based assessment with dynamic jurisdiction
- Ease of compliance for taxpayers
- Brings transparency and efficiency
- Functional specialisation as only one agency dealing with faceless assessment
- Expeditious disposal of cases
About National e-Assessment Centre (NeAC):
- NeAC will be an independent office that will look after the work of e-Assessment scheme notified for faceless e-assessment for income tax payers.
- There would be a NeAC in Delhi to be headed by Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax.
- There are 8 Regional e-Assessment Centres (ReAC) set up at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata Ahmedabad, Pune, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
- Each ReAC will be headed by Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (CCIT).
- Cases for the specified work shall be assigned by the NeAC to different units by way of automated allocation systems.
Issues related to Health & Education
Large graphical health warnings on tobacco packets more effective: study
A new study has shown that large health warnings on tobacco packets with plain packaging can be highly effective in conveying ill effects of tobacco to people.
About the study
- A study to check the effectiveness of tobacco warning found that tobacco packs with 85% graphical warnings were perceived to be more effective in increasing noticeability of the warnings and conveying the intended health message.
- These warnings were also effective in preventing non-users from initiating tobacco use, and motivating users to quit.
- The study also highlights the need for plain packaging instead of commercial packaging of tobacco packets, in line with the experience in elsewhere. A study conducted in Australian had shown that plain packaging accelerated the decline in smoking prevalence and reduced the appeal of tobacco packs.
- In 2016, a 15-member Parliamentary Committee on Subordinate Legislation stop the implementation of pictorial warnings covering 85 per cent of the principal display area on both sides of all tobacco products.
- It said that increasing the size of the warning from the current 40 per cent on only one side of the packet to 85 per cent on both sides would be too harsh on the tobacco industry. It instead recommended increasing the size to just 50 per cent.
Need for stricter laws:
- In India, the number of deaths caused by tobacco is expected to touch of 1.5 million by 2020, up from 1.3 million deaths per year in 2017.
- Nearly one million tobacco-related deaths take place in India every year, and in 2011, the total health expenditure burden from all diseases due to tobacco use amounted to more than Rs.1,00,000 crore, which is 12% more than the combined State and Central government expenditure on health in 2011-12.
- The revenue earned through tobacco excise duty during the same period was a paltry 17% of the health burden of tobacco.
- Also, 12% of children in India in the 13-15 age group use tobacco. Similarly, in the case of adults in India, the percentage is 35%.
- Tobacco is extracted from around 65 known species of the tobacco plant of which the one that is grown commercially and widely as a source of tobacco is Nicotiana tobaccum.
- Most of the tobacco from Northern India and Afghanistan comes from the species Nicotiana rustica.
- Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like ischemic heart diseases, cancers, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases are the leading causes of death globally and associated with tobacco use.
Composition of tobacco
Tobacco products contains around 5000 toxic substances. Most important and dangerous constituents are:
- Nicotine (responsible for tobacco addiction)
- Carbon Monoxide (reduces the amount of oxygen blood can carry and causes shortness of breath)
- Tar (Cancer causing agents)
Risk from smoking
[Ref: The Hindu, Down to Earth]
Donimalai effect: Iron ore price in Karnataka set to fall by ₹600/tonne
With NMDC set to restart mining at Donimalai in Bellari district of Karnataka, iron ore supply is bound to increase and bring down prices particularly when many sponge iron and pellet manufacturers in the State have shut operations due to rise in cost and weak demand.
- NMDC, which owned Donimalai mine since 1968, suspended operations in November 2018 after the Karnataka government impose 80 per cent premium on iron mined to renew its lease for another 20 years.
- Hence, NMDC moved the Karnataka High Court which set aside the condition on premium.
- In August 2019, the Karnataka government withdrew the demand and decided to auction the iron ore mine as per the Mines and Mineral (Regulation) Development Act.
- Subsequently, the Centre amended the Mineral (Mining by Government Company) Rules, 2015 and made renewal of mining leases of public sector companies mandatory without going through the auction process.
About National Mineral Development Corporation
- It was incorporated in 1958 as a Government of India fully owned public enterprise.
- NMDC is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Steel.
- It is India’s single largest iron ore producer.
- It involved in the exploration of wide range of minerals including iron ore, copper, rock phosphate, lime stone, dolomite, gypsum, bentonite, magnesite, diamond, tin, tungsten, graphite, beach sands etc.
- To expand the operations in the areas of Mining and Mineral Processing to meet the growing demands from domestic and international Markets.
- Achieve international standards in per capita productivity, value addition and cost effectiveness.
- To increase the iron ore production capacity to 50 MTPA by 2018-19 and 67 MTPA by 2021-22.
[Ref: The Hindu]
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Advanced air pollution warning system to predict stubble burning areas near Delhi
The Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has launched an advanced Air Quality Early Warning System, which can predict places neighbouring Delhi that are likely to burn crop residue on a given day.
Need for Air Quality Early Warning System for stubble burning
- Air pollution in Delhi has been ranked as the highest in the world. A major chunk of it is caused because of the stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Delhi.
- In 2018, Delhi’s Air quality index (AQI) peaked at 449 which is a level of air pollution that is considered a public health emergency. Owing to this, the supreme court ordered a ban on the stubble burning.
- Despite this, owing to the convenience, time-saving and inexpensiveness of the practice, it is still the most preferred method of getting rid of the farm waste by the farmers.
About advanced Air Quality Early Warning System for stubble burning
- It is developed by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, under Ministry of Earth Sciences.
- It uses data of stubble burning incidents from the past 15 years to predict the date and place of the next burning and help authorities to act in advance.
- The system can also track pollution load from stubble burning in places neighbouring the Delhi, using satellite data.
- It can predict the air pollution level for next 72 hours.
- It can also forecast the level of pollutants like particulate matter (PM) 2.5, PM10, and dust, coming from sources other than stubble burning.
What is Stubble burning?
- Stubble burning is intentionally setting fire to the straw stubblethat remains after grains, like paddy, wheat, etc., have been harvested.
- Stubble burning contributes significantly towards the air pollutionin north India every winter.
- Open stubble burning emits large amount of toxic pollutants in the atmospherewhich contain harmful gases like Methane (CH4), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Volatile organic compound (VOC) and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
- Although burning of straw residues emits large amounts of CO2, this component of the smoke is not considered as net Greenhouse gas (GHG)emissions and only concludes the annual carbon cycle that has started with photosynthesis.
Why do farmers burn the stubble?
- Stubble burning usually required in areas that use the combine harvesting methodwhich leaves crop residue behind.
- Combines are machines that harvest, separate the grain, and also clean the separated grain, all at once.
- The problem, however, is that the machine doesn’t cut close enough to the ground, leaving stubble behind that the farmer has no use for.
- There is pressure on the farmer to sow the next crop in time for it to achieve a full yield. The quickest and cheapest solution, therefore, is to clear the field by burning the stubble.
Problem of crop residue burning in India
- The problem of crop residue burning has been intensifying over the years, with Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh being the major burning hotspots.
- Increased mechanization, declining number of livestock, long period required for composting and no economically viable alternate use of residues are some of the reasons for residues being burnt in field.
- This not only has implications for global warming, but also has an adverse impact on air quality, soil health and human health.
[Ref: Down To Earth, Hindustan Times]
Bilateral & International Relations
India, Bangladesh sign 7 MoU including setting up a coastal surveillance system radar
India and Bangladesh inked 7 MoU including setting up of a coastal surveillance system radar in Bangladesh and boosting India’s Indo-Pacific strategy with Dhaka.
MoUs signed between India and Bangaldesh
- MoU for providing a Coastal Surveillance System
- MoU for Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on the use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports for Movement of goods to and from India;
- MoU on withdrawal of 1.8 cusec of water from Feni River by India for drinking water supply scheme for Sabroom town, Tripura;
- Agreement concerning Implementation of the Lines of Credit (LoCs) committed by India to Bangladesh
- MoU between University of Hyderabad and University of Dhaka;
- Renewal of Cultural Exchange Programme MoU on Co-operation in Youth Affairs.
Bilateral development partnership projects between India and Bangladesh
- Import of Bulk LPG from Bangladesh
- Inauguration of Vivekananda Bhaban (students hostel) at Ramakrishna Mission, Dhaka
- Inauguration of Bangladesh-India Professional Skill Development Institute (BIPSDI) at the Institution of Diploma Engineers Bangladesh (IDEB), Khulna
Other decisions taken between India and Bangladesh
- Operationalization of the Dhulian-Gadagari-Rajshahi-Daulatdia-Aricha Route and Daudkandi-Sonamura Route under Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade.
- Operationalization of the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement for movement of goods and passengers between the member countries who are willing or to work towards a bilateral India-Bangladesh Motor Vehicles Agreement.
- Directed the Committee of the Joint Rivers Commission to exchange updated data and prepare the framework of Interim Sharing Agreements for the six rivers – Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar.
About coastal surveillance system in Bangladesh
- The coastal surveillance system will pave way for Indo-Bangladesh White Shipping Agreement in future.
- This will be useful amid growing terror threats via seas and growing presence of China in the Bay of Bengal region.
About Feni River
- Feni River is a river in southeastern Bangladesh which demarcates boundaries between India and Bangladesh.
- It is a trans-boundary river with an ongoing dispute about water rights.
- The Feni River originates in South Tripura district and flows through Sabroom town and then enters Bangladesh.
Bridge on Feni river
- The construction of the India-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge over Feni River, started in 2017, is expected to be completed by 2020.
- The bridge is also known as Maitree Setu.
- It will connect Sabroom (Tripura) and Ramgarh in Bangladesh.
Port of Mongla
- The Port of Mongla is the second busiest seaport of Bangladesh.
- It is located in Bagerhat District in the southwestern part of the country.
Science & Technology
2019 Nobel Prize: Kaelin, Ratcliffe, Semenza jointly awarded for work on cells, oxygen
The 2019 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to scientists William G Kaelin, Jr, Peter J Ratcliffe and Gregg L Semenza.
Nobel prize for or Physiology or Medicine
- Nobel prize for or Physiology or Medicine was awarded for the discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability.
- This discovery has paved the way for new strategies to fight anemia, cancer and many other diseases.
Why does this matter?
- The oxygen-sensing ability of the body has a role in the immune system and the earliest stages of development inside the womb.
- If oxygen levels are low, it can trigger the production of red blood cells or the construction of blood vessels to counter low oxygen level.
- More red blood cells mean the body is able to carry more oxygen and is why athletes train at high altitude.
- Hence, drugs that mimic this process may be an effective treatment for anaemia. Tumours can take oxygen from body to grow itself. So, drugs that reverse this process can help removing cancer.
How was the discovery made?
- Scientists noticed the increase in levels of hormone erythropoietin (EPO) when oxygen level fall in body.
- They discovered this because of a cluster of proteins called hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) was changing the behaviour of DNA.
- When oxygen levels were normal, cells constantly produced HIF which are destroyed by another protein called But when oxygen levels fell, VHL could no longer stick to HIF, leading to the build-up sufficient levels to change the behaviour of DNA.
About Nobel Prize
- Nobel Prize are collection of 6 prizes that are awarded annually from a fund bequeathed for that purpose by the Swedish inventor and industrialist Alfred Nobel.
- The Nobel Prize consists of a Nobel Medal and Diploma, and a document confirming the prize amount.
- Between 1901 and 2018, the Prizes have been awarded 590 times, the recipients during this period being 908 Laureates and 27 organisations.
Category of Nobel prize
- Physiology or medicine
- Economic sciences (Added separately in 1968)
- The Nobel Committees of four prize-awarding institutions every year invite thousands of members of academies, university professors, scientists, previous Nobel Laureates, and members of parliamentary assemblies among others to submit candidates for the Nobel Prizes for the coming year.
- The nominators are selected in such a way that as many countries and universities as possible are represented over time.
- One cannot nominate himself/herself for a Nobel Prize.
Institutions that choose winners:
The Nobel Committees of the prize-awarding institutions are responsible for the selection of the candidates, the institutions being:
- Nobel Prize in Physics, Nobel Prize in Chemistry: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
- Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine: The Karolinska Institutet
- Nobel Prize in Literature: The Swedish Academy
- Nobel Peace Prize: A five-member Committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament (Storting)
- Prize in Economic Sciences: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Indians who won Nobel prize:
The following Indians (or individuals of Indian origin) have been honoured with the Nobel:
- Rabindranath Tagore (Literature, 1913)
- C V Raman (Physics, 1930)
- Hargobind Khorana (Medicine, 1968)
- Mother Teresa (Peace, 1979)
- Subramanian Chandrashekhar (Physics, 1983)
- Dalai Lama (Peace, 1989)
- Amartya Sen (Economics, 1998)
- Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (2009)
- Kailash Satyarthi (Peace, 2014)
Key Facts for Prelims
Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare launched the eDantseva website and mobile application. He also released the Braille booklet and Voice over on Oral Health Education for the visually impaired individuals, along with the oral health posters for pregnant women and children.
- e-DantSeva is the first ever national digital platform that provides oral health information both in the form of a website and mobile application.
- It is an initiative of Ministry of Health in collaboration with All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
- It aims to sensitize the public about the significance of maintaining optimum oral health and equips them with the tools to do so, including awareness on the nearest oral health service facility.
What information are presented on e-DantSeva?
- Information about the National Oral Health Program.
- Detailed list of all the dental facility and colleges and directs the user to find their nearest available dental facility.
- A unique feature called the ‘Symptom Checker’, which provides information on symptoms of dental/oral health problems.
About National Oral Health Programme
- In 2014, National Oral Health Programme was introduced.
- The Center for Dental Education and Research (CDER), AIIMS, New Delhi functions as the National Center of Excellence for Implementation of NOHP.
- It offers oral programme by offering check-ups or preventive care by introducing different cards such as Child Oral Health Card, Corporate Oral Health Card, Special Previlege Card (for disabled and mentally retarded), Muskaan cards (rural Indian check-ups) etc.
- To improve the determinants of oral health
- To reduce morbidity from oral diseases
- To integrate oral health promotion and preventive services with general health care system
- To encourage Promotion of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) model for achieving better oral health.
Oral Health in India
- Dental caries/cavities and periodontal disease are the two most prevalent dental diseases of the Indian population.
- India 60-65% population living in rural areas. Where there is no oral health care system with the dentist: population ratio of about 1:2,00,000.
- 60–90% of school children and nearly 85-90% of adults have dental cavities, often leading to pain and discomfort.
- There is no paradental infrastructure at village level and the primary health care centre level.
- At community health care centre level, only 25% community health centres are having posting of dental surgeons but have inadequate instruments, equipments and dental materials.