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16th October Current Affairs

AMRUT 2.0

(GS-I: Population and associated issues, poverty, and developmental issues)

In News:

The Union Cabinet has approved the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation 2.0 (AMRUT 2.0) till 2025-26.

Details:

This is a step towards Aatma Nirbhar Bharat intending to make the cities ‘water secure and self-sustainable’ through circular economy of water.

Background:

Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) was launched to facilitate ease of living to citizens in 500 cities by providing tap connections and sewer connections.

So far, 1.1 crore household tap connections and 85 lakh sewer/septage connections have been provided.

AMRUT 2.0:

  • 100% coverage of water supply to all households in around 4,700 urban local bodies by providing about 68 crore tap connections.
  • 100% coverage of sewerage and septage in 500 AMRUT cities by providing around 64 crore sewers/ septage connections.
  • Adopt the principles of Circular Economy (Generating wealth from waste using 3Rs)
  • Promote conservation and rejuvenation of surface and groundwater bodies.
  • Data led governance in water management
  • Technology Sub-Mission to leverage latest global technologies and skills.
  • ‘Pey Jal Survekshan’: To promote competition among cities.

‘One Health’ consortium

(GS-II: Issues related to health)

In News:

The Department of Biotechnology has launched a ‘One Health’ consortium. This is the First ‘One Health’ project of the DBT.

About the project:

It envisages carrying out surveillance of important bacterial, viral and parasitic infections of zoonotic as well as transboundary pathogens in the country.

The project also looks into use of existing diagnostic tests and development of additional methodologies for surveillance and understanding the spread of emerging diseases.

Composition:

The ‘One Health Consortium’ consists of 27 organisations led by DBT-National Institute of Animal Biotechnology, Hyderabad.

Need for and significance of ‘One Health’ approach:

The Covid-19 pandemic showed the relevance of ‘One Health’ principles in the governance of infectious diseases, specially efforts to prevent and contain zoonotic diseases throughout the world.

Therefore, there is a need for a holistic approach to understand the health of human, animals and wildlife to minimise the damage caused by future pandemics.

What is the OneHealth concept?

One Health is the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally, to attain optimal health for people, animals and our environment, as defined by the One Health Initiative Task Force.

One Health model facilitates interdisciplinary approach in disease control so as to control emerging and existing zoonotic threats.

What are zoonotic diseases?

The word ‘Zoonosis’ (Pleural: Zoonoses) was introduced by Rudolf Virchow in 1880 to include collectively the diseases shared in nature by man and animals.

Later WHO in 1959 defined that Zoonoses are those diseases and infections which are naturally transmitted between vertebrate animals and man.

Zoonoses may be bacterial, viral, or parasitic, or may involve unconventional agents.

Concerns:

As well as being a public health problem, many of the major zoonotic diseases prevent the efficient production of food of animal origin and create obstacles to international trade in animal products.

India’s framework, plans:

India’s ‘One Health’ vision derives its blueprint from the agreement between the tripartite-plus alliance comprising the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) — a global initiative supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank under the overarching goal of contributing to ‘One World, One Health’.

In keeping with the long-term objectives, India established a National Standing Committee on Zoonoses as far back as the 1980s.

This year, funds were sanctioned for setting up a ‘Centre for One Health’ at Nagpur.

The Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD) has launched several schemes to mitigate the prevalence of animal diseases since 2015, with a funding pattern along the lines of 60:40 (Centre: State); 90:10 for the Northeastern States, and 100% funding for Union Territories.

PM GatiShakti — National Master Plan

(GS-III: Infrastructure)

In News:

“PM GatiShakti — National Master Plan” for infrastructure development has been launched.

Aim:

It aims to boost multimodal connectivity and drive down logistics costs.

About PM GatiShakti:

It is a digital platform that connects 16 ministries — including Roads and Highways, Railways, Shipping, Petroleum and Gas, Power, Telecom, Shipping, and Aviation.

It aims to ensure holistic planning and execution of infrastructure projects.

Services provided:

The portal will offer 200 layers of geospatial data, including on existing infrastructure such as roads, highways, railways, and toll plazas, as well as geographic information about forests, rivers and district boundaries to aid in planning and obtaining clearances.

The portal will also allow various government departments to track, in real time and at one centralised place, the progress of various projects, especially those with multi-sectoral and multi-regional impact.

Significance:

The objective is to ensure that “each and every department now have visibility of each other’s activities providing critical data while planning and execution of projects in a comprehensive manner.

Through this, different departments will be able to prioritise their projects through cross–sectoral interactions”.

It will also boost last-mile connectivity and bringing down logistics costs with integrated planning and reducing implementation overlaps.

Need for:

Poor infrastructure planning included newly-built roads being dug up by the water department to lay pipes. This has badly affected the road Infrastructure and movement of the country.

Also, logistics costs in India are about 13-14% of GDP as against about 7-8% of GDP in developed economies. High logistics costs impact cost structures within the economy, and also make it more expensive for exporters to ship merchandise to buyers.

Who are Nihangs?

(GS-I: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times)

In News:

Last year, a group of Nihangs had chopped off the hand of a policeman in Patiala with a sword after he asked them to show ‘movement passes’ during the Covid lockdown.

Details:

This year, they have again killed a man near Singhu border in New Delhi, allegedly for desecrating a sacred text.

Who is a Nihang?

Nihang is an order of Sikh warriors. They are characterised by blue robes, antiquated arms such as swords and spears, and decorated turbans surmounted by steel quoits.

What does the word ‘Nihang’ mean?

Etymologically the word nihang in Persian means an alligator, sword and pen but the characteristics of Nihangs seem to stem more from the Sanskrit word nihshank which means without fear, unblemished, pure, carefree and indifferent to worldly gains and comfort.

Origin:

Sources trace their origin to Guru Gobind Singh’s younger son, Fateh Singh (1699-1705), who once appeared in the Guru’s presence dressed in a blue chola and blue turban with a dumala (piece of cloth forming a plume).

On seeing his son look so majestic, the Guru remarked that it shall be the dress of Nihangs, the reckless soldiers of the Khalsa.

How were Nihangs different from other Sikhs, and other Sikh warriors?

Nihangs observe the Khalsa code of conduct in its strictest sense. They do not profess any allegiance to an earthly master. Instead of saffron they hoist a blue Nishan Sahib (flag) atop their shrines.

What is their role in Sikh history?

Nihangs had a major role in defending the Sikh panth after the fall of the first Sikh rule (1710-15) when Mughal governors were killing Sikhs, and during the onslaught of Afghan invader Ahmed Shah Durrani (1748-65).

Nihangs also took control of the religious affairs of the Sikhs at Akal Bunga (now known as Akal Takht) in Amritsar. They did not consider themselves subordinate to any Sikh chief and thus maintained their independent existence.

Their clout came to an end after the fall of Sikh Empire in 1849 when the British authorities of Punjab appointed a manager (sarbrah) for the administration of the Golden Temple in 1859.