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11 March Current Affairs

Pulse Polio Program 2019

In News:

In order to sustain polio eradication drive from the country, government has launched Pulse Polio programme for 2019.

Details:

The programme aims to protect children from the polio disease by conducting two nationwide mass polio vaccination campaigns and two to three sub-national campaigns each year.

More than 17 crore children of less than five years across the country will be given polio drops as part of the drive.

To provide additional protection to children Government has also introduced the injectable Inactivated Polio Vaccine into its routine immunization program.

About IPV:

IPV is produced from wild-type poliovirus strains of each serotype that have been inactivated (killed) with formalin.

As an injectable vaccine, it can be administered alone or in combination with other vaccines.

Significance: IPV is an evidence-based intervention that not only ensures continued protection of children against all types of polio viruses, but also helps save vaccine — a move bound to positively impact global vaccine supply in the coming years. IPV provides serum immunity to all three types of poliovirus, resulting in protection against paralytic poliomyelitis.

India became the first country globally to introduce fractional doses of IPV in childhood immunisation programme in eight states and Union territories in early 2016.

Facts for Prelims:

India was declared polio-free country in the year 2014.

India’s last reported cases of wild polio were in West Bengal and Gujarat on 13 January 2011.

About POLIO:

Polio (also called poliomyelitis) is a contagious, historically devastating disease that was virtually eliminated from the Western hemisphere in the second half of the 20th century. Although polio has been around since ancient times, its most extensive outbreak occurred in the first half of the 1900s until the polio vaccine was introduced in 1955.

It is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

Symptoms and Cure:

Although approximately 90% of polio infections cause no symptoms at all, affected individuals can exhibit a range of symptoms if the virus enters the blood stream. In about 1% of cases, the virus enters the central nervous system, preferentially infecting and destroying motor neurons, leading to muscle weakness and acute flaccid paralysis.

Initial symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent. There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented by immunization.

The focus of modern treatment has been on providing relief of symptoms, speeding recovery and preventing complications. Supportive measures include antibiotics to prevent infections in weakened muscles, analgesics for pain, moderate exercise and a nutritious diet. Treatment of polio often requires long-term rehabilitation, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, braces, corrective shoes and, in some cases, orthopedic surgery.

PMUY

In News:

The Centre has disbursed over seven crore LPG connections under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY). The target has been achieved within 34 months of the scheme’s launch.

About Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana:

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana aims to provide LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households.

Under the scheme, an adult woman member of a below poverty line family identified through the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is given a deposit-free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection by the Centre.

Identification of households: Eligible households will be identified in consultation with state governments and Union territories. The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

Key objectives of the scheme are:

Empowering women and protecting their health.

Reducing the serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuel.

Reducing the number of deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuel.

Preventing young children from significant number of acute respiratory illnesses caused due to indoor air pollution by burning the fossil fuel.

What makes LPG adoption necessary?

A large section of Indians, especially women and girls, are exposed to severe household air pollution (HAP) from the use of solid fuels such as biomass, dung cakes and coal for cooking. A report from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare places HAP as the second leading risk factor contributing to India’s disease burden.

According to the World Health Organization, solid fuel use is responsible for about 13% of all mortality and morbidity in India (measured as Disability-Adjusted Life Years), and causes about 40% of all pulmonary disorders, nearly 30% of cataract incidences, and over 20% each of ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and lower respiratory infection.

Way ahead:

The PMUY is a bold and much-needed initiative, but it should be recognised that this is just a first step. The real test of the PMUY and its successor programmes will be in how they translate the provision of connections to sustained use of LPG or other clean fuels such as electricity or biogas.

Truly smokeless kitchens can be realized only if the government follows up with measures that go beyond connections to actual usage of LPG. This may require concerted efforts cutting across Ministries beyond petroleum and natural gas and including those of health, rural development and women and child welfare.

Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP)

In News:

The World Bank, Government of India and representatives from the states of Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand signed Loan Agreement for additional financing of $137 Million for the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) that will help rehabilitate and modernize over 220 selected large dams.

Details:

This additional funding of $137 million will be used for the construction of an additional spillway for Hirakud Dam in Odisha and in rehabilitation and improvement of other dams including strengthening the institutional, legal and technical framework for dam safety assurance within the Government of India and in the participating States.

Why ensure safety of dams in the country?

About 80% of our large dams are over twenty-five years old. About 209 dams are over 100 years old and were built in an era when design practices and safety considerations were much below the current design and safety norms. Several of these dams may be experiencing distress and are in need of attention for ensuring their structural safety and operational efficiency.

About DRIP:

The Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), Government of India, with assistance from the World Bank, is implementing the DAM REHABILITATION AND IMPROVEMENT PROJECT (DRIP), which would be a six-year project.

The Central Dam Safety Organisation of Central Water Commission, assisted by a Consulting firm, is coordinating and supervising the Project implementation.

Goals: The project originally envisaged the rehabilitation and improvement of about 223 dams within four states namely, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Tamil Nadu and later Karnataka, Uttarakhand (UNVNL) and Jharkhand (DVC) joined DRIP and total number of dams covered under DRIP increased to 250. The project will also promote new technologies and improve Institutional capacities for dam safety evaluation and implementation at the Central and State levels and in some identified premier academic and research institutes of the country.

The project development objectives of DRIP are: (i) to improve the safety and performance of selected existing dams and associated appurtenances in a sustainable manner, and (ii) to strengthen the dam safety institutional setup in participating states as well as at central level.

Background:

Globally India ranks third after China and the USA in terms of the number of large dams with 5264 large dams in operation and 437 large dams under construction. The total storage capacity of the impounded water by these dams is about 283 billion cubic meters (BCM).

Kashi Vishwanath Corridor

In News:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid the foundation stone for the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor.

Key facts:

The project envisions a massive makeover of the holy shrine and its surrounding areas. This massive makeover is the first after the 1780 AD when the Maratha queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore renovated the temple and the area surrounding it.

The proposed 50-feet corridor will directly connect Ganga’s Manikarnika and Lalita Ghat to the Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlinga Temple.

Along the corridor, pilgrims and travellers will see a newly built museum and depicting Varanasi’s ancient history and culture.

Background:

Kashi Vishvanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. The temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganga, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva temples.

Return Policy for militants in Jammu and Kashmir

In News:

The Jammu and Kashmir government is considering a new policy to encourage militants from the state to give up arms. The policy draft “is presently at the pre-SAC stage” and is subject to clearance by the state Home Department and the chief secretary.

Details:

The proposed scheme is a revised version of earlier initiatives, but with a fresh focus on socio-economic re-integration.

Highlights of the new policy:

In order to encourage militants to join the mainstream, the policy provides for a monthly stipend of Rs 6,000 for those who surrender. However, this initiative will not cover militants found to have been involved in “heinous crimes”.

Jobs and reformative measures are also part of the new reintegration policy draft.

Significance:

There is need for rehabilitation through a two-pronged approach including reformative measures and opportunities of livelihood. It is essential for the government to show its will to reach out to alienated youth.

The successful implementation of a surrender policy is of utmost importance in Jammu and Kashmir as there are a large number of surrendered or released militants. The successful rehabilitation of one hardcore surrendered or released militant will motivate others to follow suit.

Previous approaches:

An earlier policy from 2010 focused on ensuring the return of former militants from the state who had taken up arms between January 1989 and December 2009 but later gave up insurgent activities “due to a change of heart and are willing, to return to the state”.

In 2004, a “rehabilitation policy” implemented by the then Peoples Democratic Party government sought to provide “facility to those terrorists who undergo a change of heart and eschew the path of violence and who also accept the integrity of India and Indian Constitution to encourage them to join the mainstream and lead a normal life”. This policy had laid out provisions to provide vocational training for surrendered militants who wished to pursue a trade, and a monthly stipend of Rs 2,000 for the first three years.

Source: Live Mint

India launches third IT corridor in China

In News:

India has launched its third IT corridor in China. The corridor will facilitate partnerships between Indian and Chinese companies.

Details:

The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) entered into a partnership with China’s Xuzhou city from Jiangsu Province in China to help develop the IT corridor.

The primary aim of this IT corridor will be to facilitate partnerships between Indian and Chinese companies.

Background:

The IT industry body has already launched such corridors at Dalian and Guiyang cities to cash in on the burgeoning Chinese IT industry market. Through its previous similar initiatives in China, NASSCOM has brought to the fore opportunities with over 300 companies where more than 10 Indian SME companies have signed deals worth 31 Million RMB (USD 4.5 million).

Outcomes:

Through this partnership, the platform will be launched that will facilitate match-making between Indian companies wanting to collaborate with companies in Huai Hai economic zone looking to adopt digital transformation from verticals such as manufacturing, retail, automotive, healthcare and utilities and help them create innovative product and solutions in the co-create mode.

Way ahead:

India is a world leader in the area of Information Technology and IT-enabled services with annual revenue of over $164 billion and exports of over $120 billion. The country has been demanding China to provide market access to Indian IT and pharmaceutical firms for several years to reduce bilateral trade deficit.

For India, getting access to China’s IT market, valued at over $493 billion in 2013 by the ministry of industry and information technology of China, is important to address the massive trade deficit which has now spiralled to over $51 billion. The Chinese IT market grew exponentially since then.

Source: The Hindu

BEE Star Ratings

In News:

The Ministry of Power has announced that two more electrical appliances microwave ovens and washing machines will now be assigned star ratings based on their energy efficiency metrics.

Details:

The programme of star rating of Microwave Ovens and Washing Machines will be implemented on a voluntary basis and will be valid up to December 31, 2020.

What is BEE Star Rating?

Star ratings are provided to all the major kind of appliances in the form of labels. These star ratings are given out of 5 and they provide a basic sense of how energy efficient each product is, just in a single glance.

The manufacturers are officially required to put these labels as per the Standards and Labelling Program introduced in 2006.

Why do they put these BEE Star Rating labels?

The prime importance of these Star Ratings is to educate and inform consumers about how energy efficient each product is. This also makes the manufacturer responsible for creating products which are highly energy efficient as consumers may eventually prefer better rated products.

How do they decide the BEE Star Ratings?

One of the most common myths about the BEE Star Rating is that it is solely based on the appliance’s power consumption. A lot of factors contribute into formulating the final star rating on the product.

Although the manufacturers rate and label the product, BEE sets all the standards and norms which need to be followed while rating an appliance. While some category of appliances necessarily have to be given a star rating, for others it’s optional.

Appliances which need to have an energy rating label mandatorily: Frost-free refrigerator, Tubular Fluorescent Lamps, Room Air-Conditioners, Distribution Transformer, Colour TV, CST AC, Direct Cool Refrigerator and Electric Geyser.

The appliances with the lowest energy consumption in a product category are given the most stars and those with the highest energy consumption are given the least.

There are two variants of these labels, a big one and a smaller version:

Big label:

The big energy rating label is aimed at appliances which have a constant usage and consume more electricity. These labels show additional information such as the yearly energy consumption of the product, brand name, product category and much more. For consumers, this big label is helpful as it allows you to calculate the actual money you would spend in electricity bills for that particular product.

Products with a big label: Refrigerators, air-conditioners, geysers and washing machines.

Small Label:

Small labels can be found in appliances which usually don’t consume more energy. These labels just give you a visual representation of the energy consumption levels by showing star ratings.

Products with a small label: Ceiling fans, tube lights, computers/laptops and televisions.

Facts for Prelims:

Bureau of Energy Efficiency is a statutory body set up under the Energy Conservation Act, 2001. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency assists the government in developing policies and strategies with a thrust on self-regulation and market principles with the primary objective of reducing the energy intensity of the Indian economy within the overall framework of the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.

Source: The Hindu

India Urban Observatory & Video Wall

In News:

Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the state-of-the-art India Urban Observatory and Video Wall.

Details:

It is a platform that uses data from different sources to enable analysis and visualization over a geospatial platform. Such platforms churn out interesting analyses and visualizations by collating massive datasets.

The concept of Urban Observatories was formally initiated at the UN Habitat-II Conference in 1997 in Istanbul.

India Urban Observatory:

It is an important component of the recently launched DataSmart Cities strategy that envisions creating a ‘Culture of Data’ in cities, for intelligent use of data in addressing complex urban challenges.

It will showcase the insights gained from the Observatory and the various Missions/ offices with the idea to proactively engage with citizens/ visitors in spreading awareness about the various initiatives of the Ministry.

It would progressively become the chief data analysis and Management Hub of the Ministry and would enable evidence-based policy formulation, capacity building of ecosystem partners on data-driven governance, foster innovation through development of newer and better use cases thereby enabling solutions at scale and speed.

Background:

The Data Smart Cities Policy allows cities to open their data to public view, such as number of hospitals, gardens, people, public toilets and other city management. Making cities ‘DataSmart’ is key to realizing the full potential of technology interventions and innovation ecosystems in cities.

The Data Smart Cities Strategy also presents a Data Maturity Assessment Framework (DMAF), that measures the readiness and evolution of cities in their efforts to implementing the Data strategy.

Significance:

It is imperative for the empowerment of communities that cities work on using information available through various sources to improve their functioning, public services, governance systems, achievements and failures in the public domain, thereby, empowering their citizens through the access to information. The future of Governance is data-driven and Indian cities are beginning to adopt this change in their functioning.

Source: The Hindu

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