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INSIGHTS CURRENT EVENTS: 29 OCTOBER 2014

Bangalore Railway Station Becomes the First Station in the Country to Have Wifi Facility

The Indian Railways has successfully implemented Wi-Fi facility in Bangalore City Railway station for providing high speed internet to the passengers. “RailWire” – the retail Broadband distribution model of RailTel Corporation of India Ltd, a PSU of the Ministry of Railways, is the powering engine for distributing internet bandwidth through WiFi. The facility at Bangalore is taken up as a pilot project. The Minister of Railways recently inaugurated the facility and dedicated the service for passengers.

This service will be great help for the commuters at Bangalore City Railway station to stay connected and surf internet on the go. With the implementation of this service, Bangalore railway station becomes the first station in the country to have WiFi facility for passengers.

RailTel has been mandated by Railways to provide Wi-Fi facility at A1 & A category stations and Bangalore is the first such stations being taken up this facility by RailTel as a pilot. The facility has been created by RailTel with a Gigabit Ethernet network using Optic Fibre in a ring.

RailTel Corporation a “Mini Ratna (Category-I)” PSU is the largest neutral telecom services providers in the country owning a Pan-India optic fiber network covering all important towns & cities of the country and several rural areas covering 70% of India’s population. RailTel is in the forefront in providing nationwide Broadband Telecom & Multimedia Network in all parts of the country in addition to modernization of Train operations and administration network systems for Indian Railways. With its Pan India high capacity network, RailTel is working towards creating a knowledge society at various fronts and has been selected for implementation of various.

Sources: PIB.

Celiac Disease Diagnostics Kits launched commercially

Minister for Science and Technology, Government of India, launched Diagnostic kits for Celiac Disease. These kits have been developed through a collaborative, multi-institutional, inter-disciplinary approach funded by the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India.

Celiac Microlisa is useful for centralized diagnostic laboratories with adequate infrastructure where large number of samples could be handled. The Celiac Cardcan be used by smaller hospitals and clinicswhich lack adequate facilities.

The newly launched diagnostic kits are expected to cater to the need for accurate identification of Celiac Disease in Indian population. These indigenous kits are rapid, sensitive, specific and would be much cheaper as compared to the imported kits.

Celiac Disease:

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.

The disease is a lifelong digestive and auto-immune disorder that results in damage to the lining of the small intestine when foods with gluten such as wheat, rye, barley and oats are eaten. The affected individuals display symptoms like prolonged diarrhea, abdominal, fullness and anemia, owing to decreased absorption of nutrients by the intestine.

When people with celiac disease eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.

Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families. People with a first-degree relative with celiac disease (parent, child, sibling) have a 1 in 10 risk of developing celiac disease.

Currently, the only treatment for celiac disease is lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. People living gluten-free must avoid foods with wheat, rye and barley, such as bread and beer. Ingesting small amounts of gluten, like crumbs from a cutting board or toaster, can trigger small intestine damage.

 

Sources: PIB, celiac.org/.

Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana

Centre has launched Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana (VKY) for welfare of Tribals. The scheme was launched on the occasion of the meeting of the Tribal Welfare Ministers of States/UTs. The scheme is aimed at improving the infrastructure and human development indices of the tribal population.

The scheme been launched on pilot basis in one block each of the States of AP, MP, HP, Telangana, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Under the scheme centre will provide Rs. 10 crore for each block for the development of various facilities for the Tribals. These blocks have been selected on the recommendations of the concerned States and have very low literacy rate.

This scheme mainly focuses on bridging infrastructural gaps and gap in human development indices between Schedule tribes and other social groups. VKY also envisages to focus on convergence of different schemes of development of Central Ministries/Departments and State Governments with outcome oriented approach. Initially the blocks having at least 33% of tribal population in comparison to total population of the block will be targeted.

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has taken up initiatives for strengthening of existing institutions meant for delivery of goods and services to tribal people i.e Integrated Tribal Development Agencies /Integrated Development Project and creation of new ones wherever necessary. Specific funds are allocated to the State Governments for this purpose to be utilized judiciously with a view to build the institutional mechanism more robust by way of strengthening these institutions.

Under the scheme maximum selling price for Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is being implemented in schedule V States initially. A web based portal has also been developed which indicate current price of MFPs on real time basis across different mandis of the States. 12 MFP products have been included in the programme namely (i) Tendu Leave (ii) Bamboo (iii) Mahuwa Seeds (iv) Sal Leaf (v) Sal Seed (vi) Lac (vii) Chironjee (viii) Wild Honey (ix) Myrobalan (x) Tamarind (xi) Gums (Gum Karaya) and (xii) Karanji.

Sources: PIB.

 

It will take 81 years for gender parity at workplace, says WEF report

The annual gender survey of the World Economic Forum shows that India, which ranks low on narrowing the gender gap in education, health and equal pay for equal work, has, however, taken a high position on the political empowerment sub-index.

Placing India at 114 out of 142 countries vis-à-vis removing gender-based disparities, the survey puts the country at number 15 on the scorecard for political empowerment. India also tops the list of countries on the years with woman head of state (over the past 50 years). While it fell 13 places to 114th slot, politically it is ranked higher than the United States and the United Kingdom. It ranks 111 on the list of countries which have women in Parliament and 107 on the list of countries with women ministers.

Other observations made:

  • India experienced a drop [in absolute and relative value] on the health and survival sub-index compared with 2006, mainly due to a decrease in the female-to-male sex ratio at birth. In 2014, it also performed below average on the Economic Participation and Opportunity and Educational Attainment sub-indexes
  • On economic participation and opportunity, India ranks 134, while on educational attainment it ranks 126. But on the health and survival parameter India’s rank is among the lowest at 142.
  • Owing to its low sex ratio at birth India slumps to 114th position overall, which makes it the lowest-ranked BRICS nation and one of the few countries where female labour force participation is shrinking.
  • Pointing out that it will take 81 years for gender parity at the workplace, the report shows Nordic nations dominate the Global Gender Gap Index in 2014.
  • On average, in 2014, over 96 per cent of the gap in health outcomes, 94 per cent of the gap in educational attainment, 60 per cent of the gap in economic participation and 21 per cent of the gap in political empowerment has been closed. No country in the world has achieved gender equality.

The index was first introduced by the World Economic Forum in 2006 as a framework for capturing the magnitude of gender-based disparities and tracking their progress. The index benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education and health criteria.

Sources: The Hindu.

Campaign to highlight violations of RTE Act

Several NGOs are set to launch a 150-day campaign to highlight violations of the Right to Education (RTE) Act. The campaign organised by the RTE Forum involves 10,000 NGOs across 18 States.

It is being observed that more than 10,000 schools are not implementing the Act and there was a shortage of 1.2 million teachers. Ten per cent of the schools have only one teacher and more than one lakh schools have been shut after the passage of the Act in 2009.

The campaign is expected to take place from November 1 to March 31, 2015 — which is the deadline for complete implementation of the Act.

RTE Act:

The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India to provide free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right in such a manner as the State may, by law, determine. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which represents the consequential legislation envisaged under Article 21-A, means that every child has a right to full time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school which satisfies certain essential norms and standards. Article 21-A and the RTE Act came into effect on 1 April 2010.

With this, India has moved forward to a rights based framework that casts a legal obligation on the Central and State Governments to implement this fundamental child right as enshrined in the Article 21A of the Constitution, in accordance with the provisions of the RTE Act.

The RTE Act provides for the:

  • Right of children to free and compulsory education till completion of elementary education in a neighbourhood school.
  • It clarifies that ‘compulsory education’ means obligation of the appropriate government to provide free elementary education and ensure compulsory admission, attendance and completion of elementary education to every child in the six to fourteen age group. ‘Free’ means that no child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education.
  • It makes provisions for a non-admitted child to be admitted to an age appropriate class.
  • It specifies the duties and responsibilities of appropriate Governments, local authority and parents in providing free and compulsory education, and sharing of financial and other responsibilities between the Central and State Governments.
  • It lays down the norms and standards relating inter alia to Pupil Teacher Ratios (PTRs), buildings and infrastructure, school-working days, teacher-working hours.
  • It provides for rational deployment of teachers by ensuring that the specified pupil teacher ratio is maintained for each school, rather than just as an average for the State or District or Block, thus ensuring that there is no urban-rural imbalance in teacher postings. It also provides for prohibition of deployment of teachers for non-educational work, other than decennial census, elections to local authority, state legislatures and parliament, and disaster relief.
  • It provides for appointment of appropriately trained teachers, i.e. teachers with the requisite entry and academic qualifications.
  • It prohibits (a) physical punishment and mental harassment; (b) screening procedures for admission of children; (c) capitation fee; (d) private tuition by teachers and (e) running of schools without recognition,
  • It provides for development of curriculum in consonance with the values enshrined in the Constitution, and which would ensure the all-round development of the child, building on the child’s knowledge, potentiality and talent and making the child free of fear, trauma and anxiety through a system of child friendly and child centred learning.

Sources: The Hindu, http://mhrd.gov.in/.

 

 

Global warming has doubled risk of harsh winters in Eurasia: report

According to new research, the risk of severe winters in Europe and northern Asia has been doubled by global warming. The counter-intuitive finding is the result of climate change melting the Arctic ice cap and causing new wind patterns that push freezing air and snow southwards. Severe winters over the last decade have been associated with those years in which the melting of Arctic sea ice was greatest.

The new work is the most comprehensive computer modelling study to date and indicates the frozen winters are being caused by climate change, not simply by natural variations in weather.

Climate change is heating the Arctic much faster than lower latitudes and the discovery that the chances of severe winters has already doubled shows that the impacts of global warming are not only a future threat. Melting Arctic ice has also been implicated in recent wet summers in the UK.

The research also shows that the increased risk of icy winters will persist for the next few decades. But beyond that continued global warming overwhelms the colder winter weather.

The Arctic is expected to be ice-free in late summer by the 2030s, halting the changes to wind patterns, while climate change will continue to increase average temperatures.

Climate scientists have warned for many years that global warming is not simply leading to a slow, gradual rise in temperature. Instead, it is putting more energy into the climate system which drives more frequent extreme events.

Sources: The Hindu.