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4th February Current Affairs

Poor literacy linked to worse mental health problems

(GS-II: Issues relating to Education/Health/Poverty/Hunger)

In News:

According to a recent study in India, people with poor literacy face more mental health problems such as loneliness, depression and anxiety.


It is the first such study to look at the global picture of literacy and mental health.

Highlights of the study:

Despite rising literacy rates over the past 50 years, there are still an estimated 773 million adults globally who can’t read or write.

Literacy rates are lower in developing countries and those with a history of conflict, and women, who account for two-thirds of the world’s illiterate, are disproportionately affected.

People with more literacy tend to have better social outcomes in terms of finding employment, being paid well, and being able to afford better food and housing.

Lower literacy is related to poorer health, chronic diseases and shorter life expectancy.

Thus, little or no literacy holds a person back throughout their life and they often become trapped in poverty or more likely to commit a crime.

Significant association between mental health and literacy:

People with lower literacy had greater mental health difficulties such as anxiety and depression.

Literacy may be impacted by a number of factors, such as poverty or living in a region with a history of conflict, which can affect mental health.

World Wetlands Day: In Andhra Pradesh, efforts on to save a unique wetland near Visakhapatnam

In News:

February 2 is marked as World Wetlands Day. ‘Revive and restore degraded wetlands’ is the theme for this World Wetlands Day.


In a belated but welcome move, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a special scheme called ‘Amrit Dharohar’ for protecting India’s wetlands in the Union Budget 2023.

A separate scheme for mangrove conservation, ‘Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes’, (MISHTI) was also announced as part of the green growth priority of the Budget.

About Wetlands:

A broad definition of wetlands includes both freshwater and marine and coastal ecosystems such as lakes and rivers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatlands, estuaries, tidal flats, mangroves, coral reefs, and all human-made sites such as fishponds, rice paddies, reservoirs, and saltpans.

Benefits of Wetlands:

Wetlands absorb carbon dioxide and help slow global warming and reduce pollution, hence, they are referred to as the ‘Kidneys of the Earth’.

Wetlands also provide a buffer against the impacts of floods, droughts, hurricanes, and tsunamis, and build resilience to Climate Change.

With frigid innovation, scientists make a new form of ice

In News:

Scientists have fashioned a previously unknown form of ice – one that might exist on our solar system’s icy moons – in research that sheds light on water’s behaviour under extreme conditions using a device that might be described as a super-duper cocktail shaker.

How was it made:

The researchers said they employed a process called ball milling to vigorously shake ordinary ice together with steel balls in a container cooled to minus-328 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-200 degrees Celsius).

This yielded what they called “medium-density amorphous ice,” or MDA, which looked like a fine white powder.

Its characteristics:

Ordinary ice is crystalline in nature, with water molecules – two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, or H2O – arranged in a regular pattern. Amorphous ice’s water molecules are in a disorganized form resembling a liquid.

Amorphous ice is by far the most common form of water in space. Scientists have identified 20 different forms of crystalline ice and three forms of amorphous ice – one low density (discovered in the 1930s), one high density (discovered in the 1980s), and the new one in between.

Almost all ice in the universe is amorphous and in a form called low-density amorphous ice. This forms when water condenses onto dust grains in space. Comets are amorphous ice as well.

The key significance of the discovery of a new form of ice with a density similar to liquid water is that it could serve as an ideal model for understanding the properties of water without the complexities introduced by its fluid motion.

Sickle Cell Disease

In News:

Recently, the government announced in the budget the Centre’s plan to launch a mission to eliminate sickle cell anaemia by 2047


The health ministry will now screen all tribals in the country below 40 years and give them identity cards based on their sickle cell anaemia status (Unmukt Project of the central government )

The colour-coded cards can be matched before marriage to understand the risk of sickle cell disease in the child born from the union

Prevalence: There are approximately 200 districts in the country where the disease is prevalent, mostly in Maharashtra. Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Odisha.

About Sickle cell disease:

Sickle cell disease is a genetic condition that affects haemoglobin — responsible for carrying oxygen in the body– in red blood cells.

It is inherited when a child receives two genes—one from each parent—that code for abnormal haemoglobin

It is prevalent among the tribal population in India

It can lead to problems such as Anaemia, debilitating acute and chronic pain, infection, acute chest syndrome, stroke, and renal failure are among the problems it can lead to.

Initiatives by Tribal Ministry:

Tribal Affairs Ministry established the National Council on Sickle Cell Disease and Tribal Health Cell.

The Tribal Affairs Ministry,  through the development of the Sickle Cell Support Corner, has instituted a mechanism for creating a Central Repository of data.