Insights Daily Current Affairs, 15 September 2018
Topic: Women and related issues.
Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)
What to study?
- For Prelims: Key features of PMMVY.
- For Mains: Significance of the mission and the need for it.
Context: Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) recently marked the anniversary of the launch of scheme as Matru Vandana Saptah.
- National level achievement of the scheme post an year’s implementation on grounds is 48.11 Lakhs of women enrollment under the scheme till September 13, 2018, out of which 37.30 Lakhs have been paid the maternity benefit which accounts to a total fund disbursement of Rs1168.63 Crores.
Pradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) is a maternity benefit rechristened from erstwhile Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY). The IGMSY was launched in 2010.
The scheme is a conditional cash transfer scheme for pregnant and lactating women of 19 years of age or above for first live birth.
It provides a partial wage compensation to women for wage-loss during childbirth and childcare and to provide conditions for safe delivery and good nutrition and feeding practices.
- Exceptions: The maternity benefits under Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) are available to all Pregnant Women & Lactating Mothers (PW&LM) except those in regular employment with the Central Government or State Government or Public Sector Undertaking or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being in force.
- Funding: The scheme is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under which cost sharing ratio between the Centre and the States & UTs with Legislature is 60:40 while for North-Eastern States & three Himalayan States; it is 90:10. It is 100% Central assistance for Union Territories without Legislature.
Need for special attention:
Under-nutrition continues to adversely affect majority of women in India. In India, every third woman is undernourished and every second woman is anaemic. An undernourished mother almost inevitably gives birth to a low birth weight baby. When poor nutrition starts in-utero, it extends throughout the life cycle since the changes are largely irreversible.
Owing to economic and social distress many women continue to work to earn a living for their family right up to the last days of their pregnancy. Furthermore, they resume working soon after childbirth, even though their bodies might not permit it, thus preventing their bodies from fully recovering on one hand, and also impeding their ability to exclusively breastfeed their young infant in the first six months.
Topic: Women related issues.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the scheme.
Context: To combat human trafficking, the West Bengal government has rolled out a scheme, Swayangsiddha, in its different districts.
As the per the NCRB data West Bengal has highest recorded case of trafficking among the States.
Highlights of the scheme:
- Swayangsiddha, which means self-reliance, will be executed by the West Bengal Police.
- The scheme aims to empower young boys and girls to make informed choices so that they are less vulnerable to trafficking and child marriage.
- Swayangsiddha Groups have been formed in schools and colleges with interested students. These groups were formed with students between the age group of 12 to 21 years.
Objectives of the mission:
- Raising awareness on human, gender and child rights and strengthening prevention of human trafficking and child marriage using a converging approach.
- Engaging youth from different schools and colleges to combat human trafficking and child marriage.
- Strengthening response mechanism in collaboration with Police and child protection committees to build safe community.
- Strengthening access to schemes and entitlements on education, training, livelihood and food security for vulnerable groups.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
National AIDS Control Organization (NACO)
What to study?
- For Prelims: NACO and highlights of the National AIDS Control Programme.
- For Mains: Significance and achievements of the programme, what else is needed to achieve the target?
Context: The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) has released the report HIV Estimations 2017.
- The HIV Estimations 2017 is the 14th round in the series of HIV Estimations under National AIDS Control Programme (NACP).
- NACO undertakes HIV estimations biennially in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Medical Statistics (NIMS).
- The first round of HIV estimation in India was done in 1998, while the last round was done in 2015.
Highlights of the report:
- As per the report, in 2017, India had around 21.40 lakh people living with HIV (PLHIV) with adult prevalence of 0.22%.
- Around 87.58 thousand new HIV infections and 69.11 thousand AIDS related deaths happened in 2017 while around 22,675 mothers needed Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) for prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV.
- HIV Estimations 2017 corroborate the previous rounds in terms of characteristic of the HIV epidemic in India i.e. national prevalence and incidence remains low, but the epidemic is high in some geographical regions and population group.
- The rate of decline in annual new HIV infections has been relatively slower in recent years.
- The report concludes that, overall, the impact of the programme has been significant with more than 80% decline in estimated new infection from peak of epidemic in 1995. Similarly, estimated AIDS related death declined by 71% since its peak in 2005.
Need for data on this:
The objective of HIV Estimations is to provide updated information on the status of HIV epidemic in India at national and State/UT level. Estimations of adult HIV prevalence, annual new infections (HIV incidence), AIDS-related mortality and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) needs are produced as outcomes of HIV estimations. The modelled estimates are needed because there is no direct reliable way of measuring these core indicators which are used to track the epidemic and monitor and evaluate the response in countries around the world.
The report highlights the significant achievement of National AIDS response on prevention as well as on treatment front but has also indicated that there is no place for complacency as country move forward on ambitious goal of attaining the ‘End of AIDS’ by 2030.
About National AIDS Control Organization:
- It is a division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that provides leadership to HIV/AIDS control programme in India through 35 HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Societies.
- In 1986, following the detection of the first AIDS case in the country, the National AIDS Committee was constituted in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
- As the epidemic spread, need was felt for a nationwide programme and an organization to steer the programme. In 1992 India’s first National AIDS Control Programme (1992-1999) was launched, and National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) was constituted to implement the programme.
Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Government moves to stabilise rupee
What to study?
- For Prelims: Reasons for fall in value of rupee against dollar.
- For Mains: Measures announced, need for such measures and long term measures necessary.
Context: The government has announced a plan to check “non-essential imports”, boost exports and initiated five measures to attract dollar inflows into the country to trim the widening current account deficit that is seen as a factor behind the rupee’s sharp slide against the dollar.
The five measures include:
- Mandatory hedging conditions for infrastructure loans through the external commercial borrowing (ECB) route will be reviewed.
- 20 percent exposure limits of foreign portfolio investors’ corporate bond portfolio to a single corporate group, company and related entities will be removed, and 50 percent of any issue of corporate bonds will be reviewed.
- Manufacturing sector entities will be permitted to avail external commercial borrowings up to $50 million with a minimum maturity of one year instead of the earlier period of three years.
- Masala Bond issues done in the current financial year will be exempted from withholding tax.
- Restrictions on Indian banks’ market making in Masala Bonds, including restrictions on underwriting of such bonds, will be removed.
These five concrete steps announced would help increase inflows by $8-10 billion. The measures are essentially on the capital account side where the aim is to infuse more dollars into the economy through routes like ECBs, FPI, Masala Bonds etc. There is intent to put some curbs on imports and give a push to exports. There can be no debate that all these measures are positive for the rupee as they attack the fundamentals of demand and supply for dollars.
What necessitated this?
The pressure on rupee and the current account may not be a short-term phenomenon. That’s because of rising interest rates in the US, high crude oil prices and its impact on emerging markets and the trade war between the US and China. Therefore, the government’s intervention was necessary.
Will it help?
The measures announced by the government will work if the primary reason is weaker fundamentals. In case it is a global phenomenon, then it may not really help to correct the fall though it could cause some reversal in the first two or three sessions.
Also, it should be remembered that what the government has announced will take time to work through. There will be a review by companies on the hedging requirements for infra loans from global markets. For this to work, it will take time for companies to take such decisions.
Why Indian Rupee is Falling Against the US Dollar?
Turkish currency turmoil: The Indian currency had plunged by Rs 1.08, or 1.57 per cent, to a record low of 69.91 against the US currency amid fears that Turkish currency turmoil could turn out into global financial crisis.
The Spike in oil prices has pulled down the rupee, by pushing up dollar demand.
Global Trade war fears triggered by the US and China’s retaliatory import tariffs have also weakened the Rupee.
The Chinese yuan has fallen sharply in the last few sessions. This also has triggered a dollar flight from many emerging economies. The Spurt in dollar outflow has pulled down most Asian currencies, including the rupee.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
India’s first indigenous anti-nuclear medical kit
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Components and significance of the kit launched.
Context: In a major shot in the arm for paramilitary and police forces, scientists at Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS) claim to have developed India’s first indigenous medical kit that may ensure protection from serious injuries and faster healing of wounds resulting from nuclear warfare or radioactive leakage.
- The kit has been developed for the armed, paramilitary and police forces only as they are the first ones likely to get exposed to radiation — be it during nuclear, chemical and biomedical (NCB) warfare or a rescue operation after a nuclear accident.
About the kit and its components:
- The kit has over 25 items, including radio-protectors that provide 80-90% protection against radiation and nerve gas agents, bandages that absorb radiation as well as tablets and ointments.
- Developed in India for the first time, it’s a potent alternative to similar kits that were till now being procured from strategically advanced nations such as the US and Russia at much higher prices.
The contents include an advanced form of Prussian blue tablets, highly effective in incorporating Radio Cesium (Cs-137) and Radio Thallium, among the most feared radioisotopes in nuclear bombs that destroy human body cells.
- The kit also has an Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) injection that traps uranium in the guts and blood of victims during a nuclear accident or warfare. When EDTA is injected into the veins, it “grabs” heavy metals and minerals and removes them from the body.
- The kit also has Ca-EDTA Respiratory Fluid, which is the inhalation formula for chelation, or grabbing, of heavy metals and radioactive elements deposited in lungs through inhalation at nuclear accident sites.
- The kit also has a radioactive urine/biofluid collector which is cost-effective, easy to store and can safely dispose of the urine of a person affected by radiation. The collector has silk at its base, more than enough to jellify 500 millilitre of urine, which could be disposed of safely.
- The kit has anti-gamma ray skin ointment that protects and heals the radiation damage on the skin.
- Also part of the kit is the amifostine injection, a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved conventional radiopharmaceutical that limits damage from gamma radiation.
- Another medicine in the form of a tablet is Indranil 150 mg. It is being introduced as a reserve emergency drug for services, rescue workers and places where high acute exposures are expected and lives will be at stake.
Significance of the kit:
During radioactive accidents thousands of patients may be rushed to hospitals. In several cases, if not most, they will also have traumatic, orthopaedic, surgical injuries or burns. The blood of such patients will have radioactive elements and will require wound dressing with significantly higher absorption capacity so that nothing leaks and infects others. Such highly absorptive dressings and gauze also make it safer for the medical staff to handle radioactive patients as the chance of their own contamination is reduced.
The kit is a potential alternative to those being procured from nations such as the US and Russia at much higher prices. Such medicines will help everyone and not just soldiers. This will also help the victims affected in terrorist attacks.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Conservation related issues.
Chiller Star Labelling Program
What to study?
- For Prelims: What are Chillers, salient features of the programme.
- For Mains: Significance of the programme and the importance of energy efficiency.
Context: Ministry of Power, Government of India launched Chiller Star Labelling Program, an ambitious program to encourage the deployment of Energy Efficient chiller systems in the country.
- The Chiller Star Labelling Program has been formulated by Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE).
- The program envisages providing star rating in terms of its energy performance. Initially, the program is launched on voluntary basis and will be valid upto 31st December 2020.
- This initiative will promote advancement technology for central HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems and will also facilitate energy efficient solutions for the large commercial and industrial applications.
What are Chillers?
Chillers are used extensively for space conditioning of buildings and for industrial process cooling applications. The size of Indian chiller market which stood at 1 Million Tonne per year at 2017, is projected to grow at a CAGR of 3.6% fuelled by a growth in the retail, hospitality and infrastructure projects.
Chillers, being energy intensive system, contribute more than 40% of the total energy consumption in commercial buildings. Therefore, it is important to optimize energy performance of chillers and create awareness amongst the end users to adopt transition towards energy efficient chillers.
Topic: Awareness in space.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the mission.
Context: NASA is preparing to launch its $1 billion (about Rs. 7,210 crores) ICESat-2 mission, using advanced lasers to uncover the true depth of the melting of Earth’s ice sheets. The satellite mission, called ICESat-2, should provide more precise information on how these frozen surfaces are being affected by global warming.
As the name suggests, ICESat-2 is a follow-on project. The original spacecraft flew in the 2000s and pioneered the laser measurement of the height of polar glaciers and sea-ice from space. But the mission was plagued by technical problems that limited its observations to just a couple of months in every year.
About ICESat- 2 mission:
- ICESat-2 will measure the average annual elevation change of land ice covering Greenland and Antarctica to within the width of a pencil, capturing 60,000 measurements every second.
- ICESat-2’s Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) measures height by timing how long it takes individual light photons to travel from the spacecraft to Earth and back.
The satellite mission has four science objectives:
- Measure melting ice sheets and investigate how this effects sea level rise.
- Measure and investigate changes in the mass of ice sheets and glaciers.
- Estimate and study sea ice thickness.
- Measure the height of vegetation in forests and other ecosystems worldwide.
How it works?
ATLAS will fire 10,000 times each second, sending hundreds of trillions of photons to the ground in six beams of green light. With so many photons returning from multiple beams, ICESat-2 will get a much more detailed view of the ice surface than its predecessor. As it circles Earth from pole to pole, ICESat-2 will measure ice heights along the same path in the polar regions four times a year, providing seasonal and annual monitoring of ice elevation changes. Beyond the poles, ICESat-2 will also measure the height of ocean and land surfaces, including forests.
Significance of the mission:
ICESat-2 will improve upon NASA’s 15-year record of monitoring the change in polar ice heights. It started in 2003 with the first ICESat mission and continued in 2009 with NASA’s Operation IceBridge, an airborne research campaign that kept track of the accelerating rate of change. The new observational technologies of ICESat-2 will advance the knowledge of how the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica contribute to sea level rise.
Why is this mission important?
Antarctica and Greenland lose billions of tonnes of ice every year – the result largely of warm water being able to melt land glaciers where they meet the ocean. This wastage is slowly but surely pushing up sea-levels worldwide.
In the Arctic, the seasonal floes have also been in retreat. Sea-ice in the far north is thought to have lost two-thirds of its volume since the 1980s. And although this has no direct impact on the height of the oceans, the reduced ice-cover is working to amplify temperature rises in the region.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
Hindi Diwas 2018:
Context: National Hindi Divas or Hindi Day is observed every year on September 14 in India to promote Hindi as Matra Bhasha (mother tongue) of India. The day is a celebration of the Hindi language and its cultural heritage and values among the people of the country and abroad.
Why do we celebrate National Hindi Diwas?
The Constituent assembly of India adopted Hindi as the official language of the country on September 14, 1949 under Article 343. It started being observed as Hindi Day after stalwarts like Beohar Rajendra Simha, Hazari Prasad Dwivedi, Kaka Kalelkar, Maithili Sharan Gupt and Seth Govind Das lobbied hard for the cause. Hindi language is spoken by as many as 250 million people as the original language and it is the fourth language of the world.
Context: India’s first underwater robotic drone EyeROV TUNA was recently handed over to Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL) of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- It has been designed and developed indigenously by Kochi-based start-up IROV Technologies Pvt Ltd (EyeROV).
- It is smart micro-ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) or underwater drone. This underwater drone will be used by NPOL for research and development activities which in turn would result in commercial product for defence purposes.
- It is designed to perform visual inspection and surveys of submerged structures up to depth of 100 metres.
- It is also equipped to perform variety of functions, including inspection of ship hulls, undersea cables or bridge moorings, fish farms, dams, port structure and bridge foundations and also in various underwater research operations. Its commercial use will eliminate need for costlier and riskier manual inspection by divers.
Nahargarh Biological Park:
Rajasthan’s first lion safari has been inaugurated at Nahargarh Biological Park.
- The park is located on Delhi-Jaipur National Highway in the Aravalli foothills, nearly 12 kilometers from state capital Jaipur.
- Lions in this park were brought from Junagarh, Gujarat under an exchange programme.
- The park will serve for breeding lions and also centre of attraction for tourists. It will provide new habitat to lions and also add tourism venue to the Pink City.