Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK)
- The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched a scheme for Universal Screening of Children below 18 years for Leprosy and Tuberculosis (TB).
- It is a part of the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK)
What is Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK)?
- It is a health programme launched in 2013 under the National Health Mission for screening of children below 18 years for Leprosy and Tuberculosis (TB)
Which is the Implementing agency ?
- It is implemented by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Early identification and early intervention for children from birth to 18 years to cover 4 ‘D’s viz.
- Defects at birth
- Development delays including disability.
Why leprosy and tuberculosis (TB)?
- Child Health Screening and Early Intervention Services under RBSK covers 30 selected health conditions for screening, early detection and free management.
- Tuberculosis and Leprosy were previously not a part of it.
Tigers in High Altitudes
Union Environment Minister has released a study on the Status of Tiger Habitats in high altitude ecosystems.
Who – The study was conducted by the Global Tiger Forum(GTF) in partnership with the Governments of Bhutan, India and Nepal and along with the World Wide Fund for Nature(WWF).
- IUCN Assistance – The study has been supported by the Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Program (ITHCP) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and KfW (German Development Bank).
Why study on tiger habitats ?
- The study has revealed that even ecology at high altitude is compatible for the tiger growth.
- The study has called for developing a master plan for the Tigers at High altitude with gainful portfolio for local communities and ensuring centrality of tiger conservation in development.
Efforts on conservation on tiger
- The study has also identified possible viable habitats, corridor linkages, anthropogenic pressures and induced landscape-level changes for evolving an in-situ conservation roadmap.
Concepts for Understanding
Global Tiger forum
- Global Tiger forum is the only intergovernmental platform of tiger range countries which has been consolidating Tiger Action Plans of the range countries.
- The forum was formed in 1993 on recommendations of an international symposium on Tiger Conservation.It is headquartered in New Delhi, India.
- Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP) – initiative by IUCN.
- ITHCP was formed in 2014 , It aims to save tigers in the wild, preserve tiger habitats, and support human populations living in tiger landscapes.
- This initiative was also formed to contribute to the Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP).GTRP is a global effort to double tiger numbers in the wild by 2022.
- The programme consists of a portfolio of 12 large-scale projects in key Tiger Conservation Landscapes across Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Nepal and Myanmar.
Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index(TTCI) Report
- World Economic Forum(WEF) has released the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index(TTCI) Report
What is Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index(TTCI)
- The index is published biennially by World Economic Forum(WEF).The Index ranks 140 economies.
The countries are ranked in four sub-indexes namely
(b)travel and tourism policy and enabling conditions
(d)natural and cultural resources.
Rankings of the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index(TTCI)
- The index has ranked India at 34th place.Earlier.India was ranked 40th in 2018.
- Spain was ranked first followed by France,Germany and Japan with the United States replacing the UK in the top five.
- The index has said that China is the largest travel and tourism economy in the Asia-Pacific and 13th most competitive globally.
Concepts for understanding
What is World Economic Forum(WEF)?
WEF was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva,Switzerland.
Objective of WEF – is to improve the state of the world by engaging business,political,academic and other leaders of society to shape global,regional and industry agendas.
Manufacturers told to rush rabies vaccines to areas facing shortage
- National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has ordered the manufacturers to supply the anti-rabies vaccines where there is a shortage of these medicines.
What is Rabies?
- Rabies is caused by Ribonucleic Acid(RNA) virus that is present in the saliva of a rabid animal.It is transmitted following a bite of a rabid animal that leads to deposition of the saliva and the virus in the wound.
- The death invariably occurs in four days to two weeks due to cardio-respiratory failure.However,the time interval between the bite and occurrence of symptoms varies from four days to two years or rarely even more.
- Thus,it is important to remove the virus from the wound as early as possible by immediately washing the wound with water and soap followed by application of antiseptics that reduce chances of nerve infection.
India is a hotbed of human rabies
- India accounts for more than one-third of the world’s rabies deaths.
- India has a population of 30 million stray dogs which cause 96% of rabies in humans.Each year,as many as 20,000 people die due to the vaccine-preventable fatalit
Concepts for Understanding
- National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) – is an independent body set up in 1997 under Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
The functions of NPPA are:
- To implement and enforce the provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order
- Deal with all legal matters arising out of the decisions of the Authority
- To monitor the availability of drugs, identify shortages and
- To collect/ maintain data on production, exports and imports,profitability of companies for bulk drugs and formulation.
Nuakhai: The greatest harvesting festival of Odisha
- The Nuakhai festival is being celebrated in the state of Odisha.Nuakhai is an agricultural festival mainly observed by people of Western Odisha in India.
What so special about Nuakhai festival?
- Nuakhai festival traces its origin to the Vedic period where the sages or Rishis used to talk about Panch yajna.
- The word nua means new and khai means food so the name means the farmers are in possession of the newly harvested rice.It is observed to welcome the new rice of the season.
- The farmers offer the first produce of their respective lands to Goddess Samaleswari and then consume it personally.
- Apart from the rituals of offering the new crop to the deity, the ‘Nuakhai Juhar’ is a major ritual of the festival which is an exchange of greetings with friends, relatives and well-wishers.
External benchmark-based lending must: RBI
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has made it mandatory for banks to link all new floating rate personal or retail loans and floating rate loans to MSMEs to an external benchmark rate from October 1st,2019.
What is mandatory to the banks by RBI?
- The RBI has given the options to banks for external benchmark rates which are
(a) RBI repo rate
(b) 91-day T-bill yield
(c)182-day T-bill yield or
(d)any other benchmark market interest rate produced by the Financial Benchmarks India Pvt. Ltd.
What is at present?
- At present,interest rates on loans are linked to a bank’s marginal cost of fund-based interest rate(MCLR).
- The biggest problem with the current system is the lack of required transmission of policy rates by the banks to the borrowers.
Concepts for understanding
- Repo stands for ‘Repurchasing Option’.It refers to the rate at which commercial banks borrow money from the RBI.
- T-bills or treasury bills are short term securities issued on behalf of the government by the RBI and are used in managing short term liquidity needs of the government.
- The 91-day T-bills are auctioned every week on Wednesday and 182-day and 364-day T-bills are auctioned every alternate week on Wednesdays.T-bills are issued at a discount and are redeemed at par.
Marginal Cost of lending rate(MCLR)
- The marginal cost of funds based lending rate (MCLR) refers to the minimum interest rate of a bank below which it cannot lend except in some cases allowed by the RBI.It is an internal benchmark or reference rate for the bank.
- This rate is based on four components namely
(a)marginal cost of funds
(b)negative carry on account of cash reserve ratio
(c)operating costs and
Army mountaineering team successfully scales Mt. Kun
- The Indian Army has successfully conducted a mountaineering expedition to Mount Kun.
Geographical location – Mount Kun is the second-highest peak in between the Zanskar and Kargil regions of Ladakh.
- The mountain was first climbed in 1913.It is a part of the Nun Kun mountain massif in the Himalayas.
- Nun (7135 m) is the highest peak in the part of the Himalayan range lying on the Indian side of the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.
- Mount Kun is located north of Nun and is separated by a 4 km-long snowy plateau.
Prime Minister’s Visit to Russia
- Indian Prime Minister is on a visit to Russia as the guest of honour at Eastern Economic Forum(EEF).The bilateral summit was held on the sidelines of the EEF.
India and Russia bilateral talks
- India and Russia has agreed to open a maritime route between the ports of Chennai and Vladivostok to ensure connectivity between the two countries.A Memorandum of Intent was signed in this regard.
- This shipping link would enable to transfer cargo between Chennai and Vladivostok in 24 days in comparison to over 40 days currently taken to transport goods from India to Far East Russia via Europe.
On J & K issue
- Russian has backed India’s moves on J&K and emphasised that both India and Russia are against outside influence in the internal matters of any nation.
- Russia has also agreed to help train Indian astronauts for the manned space mission named the Gaganyaan project.
- They have also signed a pact under which India will manufacture spare parts for Russian military equipment.This pact will convert the India Russia relationship from one of buyer-seller to a collaborative one.
- They have also agreed to step up industrial cooperation and create new technological and investment partnership, especially in advanced high-tech areas with an aim to increase bilateral trade to $30 billion by 2025.
- Further,the two countries highlighted the successful cooperation in the construction of the Rooppur Nuclear power plant(NPP) in Bangladesh and expressed their readiness to expand similar cooperation in third countries.
Dawood, Masood Azhar among 4 declared ‘individual terrorists’ under amended law
- The Central Government has decided to declare Masood Azhar, Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman-Lakhvi and Dawood Ibrahim as individual terrorists under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act,2019.
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill 2019
- Parliament has passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill 2019.
- The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,1967 providing special procedures to deal with terrorist activities and individuals and groups that foster terrorism in India.
- Under the Act,the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it
(a)commits or participates in acts of terrorism,
(b)prepares for terrorism
(c) promotes terrorism or
(d) is otherwise involved in terrorism.
The bill additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.
Features of the bill
- Under the Act,an investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism.
- The Bill adds that if the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency(NIA),the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of such property.
- Under the Act,investigation of cases may be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.The Bill additionally empowers the officers of the NIA of the rank of Inspector or above to investigate cases.
- The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act.
- The Bill adds another treaty to the list.This is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism(2005).
Kartarpur: Final deal stalled over service fee from pilgrims, access to Indian officials
- Indian and Pakistan officials are holding discussions to finalise the remaining modalities of Kartarpur corridor.
What is Kartarpur Corridor?
- Kartarpur Corridor is a 4km long proposed corridor comprising border gates,road and a bridge to link Dera Baba Nanak gurdwara in Gurdaspur district in India to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan.
- It is aimed at allowing the easy movement of Sikh pilgrims to the Kartarpur gurdwara.
- The gurdwara in Kartarpur stands on the bank of River Ravi,about 120 km northeast of Lahore.It is revered as Guru Nanak’s final resting place.
Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary
- India wants the corridor to be ready in time for pilgrims to visit Kartarpur to celebrate Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary in November,2019.
India among top 10 nations in gold reserves
- According to the latest release by the World Gold Council, India has ranked 10th in the country list with total gold reserves of 618.2 tonnes.
- USA has been ranked 1st with total gold reserves of 8,133.5 tonnes followed by Germany, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Italy, France, Russia and China. Pakistan holds the 45th
Concepts for understanding
World Gold Council (WGC)
- The World Gold Council is the market development organisation for the gold industry. It is an association of the world’s leading gold producers.
- It was established in 1987 and is headquartered in the United Kingdom.
- Gold reserves – are central banks’ total holding of gold as a percentage of their foreign exchange reserves.
- WGC gold reserve data – are based on International Monetary Fund’s International Financial Statistics (IFS) which tracks central banks’ reported purchases and sales along with gold as a percentage of their international reserves.
International Monetary Fund
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 189 countries. It was established in 1945.
- The main goal of IMF is to ensure the stability of the international monetary system. It also seeks to facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.
The Global Liveability Index 2019
- The Economist Intelligence Unit has released its Global Liveability Index 2019
What is Global Liveability Index?
- The index assesses which locations around the world provide the best or the worst living conditions. 140 cities are assessed.
Parameters for assessing Global Liveability Index
- Each city is assessed on 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories:
- a) stability
- b) healthcare
- c) culture and environment
- d) education
- e) infrastructure
- Each factor in a city is rated as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable or intolerable.
- Factor-wise scores are then compiled and weighted to provide a score of 1–100, where 1 is considered intolerable and 100 is considered ideal
Rankings of Global Liveability Index 2019
- Vienna (Austria) has been ranked the most liveable city followed by Melbourne (Australia), Sydney (Australia), Osaka (Japan) and Calgary (Canada)
- New Delhi has been ranked 118th as compared to 112th in 2018. The downgrade in rank has been due to problems linked to climate change (air pollution, water scarcity) and rising crimes. Mumbai has been ranked 119th.
- Among the BRIC countries, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) ranked 89th, Moscow (Russia) ranked 68th, Beijing (China) ranked 76th.
- The world’s least liveable cities were Damascus (Syria), Lagos (Nigeria), and Dhaka (Bangladesh)
Supreme Court to study plea for food for all
- The Supreme Court has agreed to examine a plea urging the court to direct the Chief Secretaries across the country to formulate schemes for the implementation of community kitchens to combat starvation deaths.
Highlights of the petition
- The petition highlighted the success of various state-funded community kitchens addressing the problem of hunger and malnutrition across India.
Example: Amma Unavagam (Tamil Nadu), Annapurna Rasoi (Rajasthan), Indira Canteens (Karnataka), Ahaar Centre (Odisha) etc.
- The plea also stated that Right to Food is inherent to a life with dignity, and Article 21 of the Constitution of India which guarantees a fundamental right to life and personal liberty.
- Further, Article 47 (one of the Directive Principles) states that it is the duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and standard of living of its people as a primary responsibility
Status of hunger in India:
- The Global Hunger Index (2018) ranks India 103rd out of 119 countrie India was ranked below many neighbouring countries, including China (25), Nepal (72), Myanmar (68), Sri Lanka (67) and Bangladesh (86).
- According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017 report, India is home to 190.7 million undernourished people- a 14.5% prevalence of hunger vis-à-vis the country’s total population.
- According to NHFS Report (2017), 19 crore people in India are compelled to sleep on an empty stomach every nigh
Over three lakh children die every year oweing(due) to hunger and malnutrition.
- Hurricane Dorian made a landfall at Abacos Islands in the Bahamas.
Hurricane Dorian is a Category 5 hurricane –the highest on the Saffir-Simpson scale. It had a wind speed of around 285 kilometres/hour at landfall.
- Hurricanes are names given to tropical cyclones occurring in the Atlantic Ocean. To qualify as a hurricane, a storm must have sustained winds of 74 mph or more.
UNCCD CoP 14: Report on Soil Organic Carbon released
- The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)’s Committee on Science and Technology (CST) has released its report on Soil Organic Carbon titled “Realising the Carbon Benefits of Sustainable Land Management Practices: Guidelines for Estimation of Soil Organic Carbon in the Context of Land Degradation Neutrality Planning and Monitoring”.
Objective of the report
- The report emphasises the importance of SOC in preventing land degradation and desertification.
- It also provides guidelines to help countries identify suitable locally-relevant sustainable land management practices to maintain or enhance SOC
Basics of Science
What is Soil Organic carbon (SOC)?
- It is defined as the soil material of living origin (e.g. plants, microbes, soil biota) at varying stages of decomposition.
- It acts as a key resource for energy and nutrients, and affects many soil properties such as hydrology, structure, and habitat.
- It is the largest carbon pool in the terrestrial biosphere
What is Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN)?
- It is defined as a state where the amount and quality of land resources necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security, remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems
Concepts for understanding
Role of Sustainable Development Goal
- SDG target 15.3 envisions to combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world by 2030.
Three global indicators for LDN:
1) Land cover (land cover change)
2) Land productivity (net primary productivity)
3) Carbon stocks (soil organic carbon,)
India’s target for LDN is 30 million hectares by 2030.
What is UNCCD?
- The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. It was established in 1994. It has 197 parties.
- UNCCD seeks to work towards maintaining and restoring land and soil productivity and mitigating the effects of drought.
Why is it so important?
- India for the first time is hosting the 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP-14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
What is Land Degradation and Desertification?
- Land degradation is any reduction or loss in the biological or economic productive capacity of the land resource base
- Desertification is the process of ecological degradation by which economically productive land becomes less productive.