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27th Feb Current Affairs

New ‘Public Sector Enterprise Policy’

In News:

The government recently released a new ‘Public Sector Enterprise Policy’.

Under the New Policy:

  • Strategic: Atomic energy, space, defence, trans and telecom, power, petro, coal, other minerals, banking, insurance and financial services will be classified as strategic sectors.
  • Privatization: The remaining companies in strategic sectors will be considered for privatization/merger/closure and non-strategic sectors will be considered for privatization, where feasible or for closure.
  • In strategic sectors, the minimum presence of existing companies at the holding level will be retained under government control.
  • The strategic sectors have limited number of players restricting it to maximum four public sector enterprises of the holding nature.

Significance:

Having a robust disinvestment policy would be critical for the government at a time when it needs resources to bridge the fiscal gap and for spending on key policy initiatives to battle Covid-19 pandemic affected economy.

Influenza A(H5N8) virus

In News:

Russia says it detected first case of H5N8 avian flu in humans, alerts WHO.

Details:

There are different subtypes of avian influenza viruses. While the highly contagious strain H5N8 is lethal for birds it has never before been reported to have spread to humans.

About Avian influenza (bird flu):

It is a viral infection that can infect not only birds, but also humans and other animals. Most forms of the virus are restricted to birds.

It is a highly contagious viral disease affecting several species of food-producing birds (chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, etc.), as well as pet birds and wild birds.

Occasionally mammals, including humans, may contract avian influenza.

Influenza A viruses are classified into subtypes based on two surface proteins, Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA).

Influenza A(H5N8) virus:

According to Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health, H5N8 avian influenza is a disease of birds, caused by Type “A” influenza viruses, which can affect several species of domestic poultry, such as chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, ducks, as well as pet birds, wild migratory birds and water fowl.

Can the virus transfer to humans?

There are no known cases of H5N8 in human beings. Risk to general public is very low. There is also no evidence that consumption of poultry meat or eggs could transmit the virus to humans. But necessary precautions are required while handling sick/dead birds and contaminated material during control and containment operations. It is considered safe to eat properly cooked poultry products.

Control measures:

Culling is usually undertaken to control the infection when it is detected in animals. Besides culling, safe disposal of all such culled animals and animal products is also important. The authorities also need to strictly enforce decontamination of infected premises and undertake quarantine of contaminated vehicles and personnel.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

In News:

IAEA Chief has said that a three-month “temporary solution” had been found to allow the agency’s monitoring in Iran to continue, although its level of access will be limited.

What’s the issue?

Iran’s conservative-dominated parliament passed a law in December demanding the country suspend some inspections if the US failed to lift sanctions. The law is due to go into effect on Tuesday.

Significance of the move:

This is an attempt by the U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, European powers and Iran to rescue the 2015 nuclear deal that has been on the brink of collapse since former President Donald Trump withdrew from it.

About IAEA:

Set up as the world’s “Atoms for Peace” organization in 1957 within the United Nations family.

Reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.

Headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

Functions:

Works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies.

Seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.

Functions:

  • Recommendations to the General Conference on IAEA activities and budget.
  • Responsible for publishing IAEA standards.
  • Responsible for making most of the policy of the IAEA.
  • Appoints the Director General subject to General Conference approval.

Programs:

  • Program of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT).
  • Human Health Program.
  • Water Availability Enhancement Project.
  • International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles, 2000.

Telangana achieves 100% tap water connections to schools

In News:

Work on providing connection to schools, AWCs and ashramshalas was taken up under the 100-day special campaign of the Ministry of Jal Shakti under the Jal Jeevan Mission.

Details:

Now, Telangana has joined a group of States that has ensured tap water connections to all schools and anganwadi centres (AWCs).

Previously, the State was the first to provide tap water connections to all households.

About Jal Jeevan Mission:

Announced in August 2019.

Objective of the Mission is to provide piped water supply (Har Ghar Jal) to all rural households by 2024.

It seeks to provide 55 lpcd (Litres per capita per day) of prescribed quality on long-term and regular basis.

It aims to create local infrastructure for rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and management of household waste water for reuse in agriculture.

Implementation:

Following the principles  of Gandhiji’s ‘Gram Swaraj’, under Jal Jeevan Mission, local village community/ Gram Panchayats or sub-committee i.e. Village Water & Sanitation Committee/ Paani Samiti/ user groups having 10 – 15 members with 50% women are to be involved in planning, implementation, management, operation and maintenance of water supply systems to ensure long-term sustainability to achieve drinking water security.

Funding Pattern:

The fund sharing pattern between the Centre and states is 90:10 for Himalayan and North-Eastern States, 50:50 for other states, and 100% for Union Territories.

Central funding will be 50% for cities with less than 1 lakh population, one third for cities with 1 lakh to 10 lakh population and 25% for cities with million plus population.

Need for and significance of the mission:

India has 16% of the world population, but only 4% of freshwater resources. Depleting groundwater level, overexploitation and deteriorating water quality, climate change, etc. are major challenges to provide potable drinking water. It is an urgent requirement of water conservation in the country because of the decreasing amount of groundwater level. Therefore, the Jal Jeevan Mission will focus on integrated demand and supply management of water at the local level.