Insights Daily Current Affairs, 20 August 2016
Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
India ranks 39th in Asia Pacific on fixed broadband
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in its report, has placed India at 39th position in terms of fixed broadband adoption among Asia Pacific countries. The report is named- ‘State of ICT in Asia and the Pacific 2016: Uncovering the Widening Broadband Divide’.
- India ranks lower than countries such as Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in ESCAP countries in 2015.
- According to the report, 1.3% of population in India subscribed to fixed broadband service in 2015.
- Hong Kong, New Zealand, Japan, Macao, Australia and Singapore topped the list of 53 countries covered in the report.
- Presently, more than half of the global fixed broadband subscriptions are from Asia and the Pacific (52.3%). The report pointed out that this was a dramatic increase from 2005 when subscriptions in the ESCAP region merely constituted 38.1% of the global total fixed broadband subscriptions. However, the subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in the ESCAP region is still behind Latin America and the Caribbean, and far lower than Europe and North America.
- Fixed broadband penetration in Asia and the Pacific is even below the world’s average of 11.2 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in 2015.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Prices of essential drugs capped
NPPA has fixed/revised ceiling prices of 22 scheduled formulations of Schedule-I under Drugs (Price Control) Amendment Order, 2016 and retail price of 13 formulations under DPCO, 2013. 22 essential drugs include drugs used for treatment of cancer, HIV, bacterial infections and malaria among others.
The calculation for essential drugs is based on the simple average of all medicines in a particular therapeutic segment with sales of more than 1%. The government had notified the DPCO 2013, which covers 680 formulations, with effect from 15 May, 2014, replacing the 1995 order that regulated prices of only 74 bulk drugs.
National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)
NPPA was established, inter alia, to fix/ revise the prices of controlled bulk drugs and formulations and to enforce prices and availability of the medicines in the country, under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995. The organization is also entrusted with the task of recovering amounts overcharged by manufacturers for the controlled drugs from the consumers.
Functions of National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority:
- To implement and enforce the provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order in accordance with the powers delegated to it.
- To deal with all legal matters arising out of the decisions of the Authority.
- To monitor the availability of drugs, identify shortages, if any, and to take remedial steps.
- To collect/ maintain data on production, exports and imports, market share of individual companies, profitability of companies etc, for bulk drugs and formulations.
- To undertake and/ or sponsor relevant studies in respect of pricing of drugs/ pharmaceuticals.
- To recruit/ appoint the officers and other staff members of the Authority, as per rules and procedures laid down by the Government.
- To render advice to the Central Government on changes/ revisions in the drug policy.
- To render assistance to the Central Government in the parliamentary matters relating to the drug pricing.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Poor air quality across 41 cities in 2015, says CPCB survey
According to a latest analysis released by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), in 2015, 41 Indian cities with a million-plus population faced bad air quality in nearly 60% of the total days monitored.
- Days wherein all monitored parameters like sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter are within the prescribed norms were considered good days while remaining monitoring days when value of one or the other parameter exceeds the norms were categorised as bad days.
- The three cities—Gwalior, Varanasi and Allahabad—which didn’t have even one single good air quality day was followed by Raipur with 2%, Lucknow with 3%, Delhi and Ghaziabad with 4% each among all the days when their air quality was monitored.
- Among the best, Coimbatore had 99% of good air quality days, Rajkot had 96%, Ahmedabad and Madurai 93% each, Vishakhapatnam, Surat and Chennai with 92% each.
- Most cities recorded high percentage of good days during monsoon season and low percentage of good days during winter season. Coastal cities have recorded higher percentage of good days compared to the land locked cities. Southern and western cities recorded higher percentage of good days.
There is a need for strong national air quality planning strategy so that each and every city has a clear pollution source-wise plan which is to be implement in a time bound manner. Otherwise its implications on public health are going to a very serious.
Facts for Prelims:
- P.V. Sindhu is the first Indian woman to receive Olympic Silver medal. She was defeated by Spanish player and world number one Carolina Marin. She received international attention as she broke into the Top 20 in the Badminton World Federation rankings released on 21 September 2012. On 10 August 2013, Sindhu became the first ever Indian women’s singles player to win a medal at the 2013 World Championships. On 30 March 2015, she received India’s fourth highest
civilian honor, the Padma Shri. On 18 August 2016, at the 2016 Summer Olympics, she became the first Indian to reach the finals in the Badminton event of an Olympic games after beating Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the semi-finals. She subsequently won the Silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics and became the first Indian shuttler to win a Silver medal and the youngest Indian overall to make a podium finish in the Olympics. She also became the second Indian female shuttler to win an Olympic medal after Saina Nehwal‘s Bronze medal at 2012 Summer Olympics at London. (Wikipedia)
- Project Alloy: It is a virtual-reality headset unveiled by Intel recently. The head-mounted display consists of a set of goggles that contain the computing power needed to run the headset. The headset is a completely standalone device, with no need to hook up to a computer or external sensors, so wearers can move around and explore virtual environments with total freedom. The headset uses Intel’s RealSense cameras, which have depth-sensing capabilities, to allow, without the need for additional sensors, objects such as the user’s hands to be tracked and entered into the virtual world displayed within the goggles. The device creates mixed reality, which drags real-world objects into the virtual realm using 3D cameras.
- XMU-MP-1: It is a drug discovered by Chinese scientists, which can promote repair and regeneration in the liver, intestines and skin. In the future, the drug may well do away the need for organ transplant or complex biomaterial and cell therapies. The XMU-MP-1 has been proven to inhibit the activity of MST1/2, the central component of this pathway and promote cell growth in four different mouse models with acute and chronic injuries, including acetaminophen-induced injury, which is a common cause of liver failure worldwide.