13th March, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
(DOWNLOAD THE PDF AT THE END OF THIS PAGE)
(GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: A teaspoon less of salt, sugar and oil — that’s the Indian Medical Association’s mantra for tackling lifestyle diseases and pressuring the government and industry to limit the quantity of these vital, yet potentially harmful, ingredients in popular foods.
Cause for such an observation
Excessive consumption of salt, sugar and oil has been linked to several life-threatening lifestyle diseases such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. Nearly 40% of CKD patients are diabetics, while 60% of them have both BP and diabetes, conditions where salt and sugar intake plays a big role. Oil intake too has been linked to obesity, which in turn could lead to BP and diabetes.
The World Health Organisation prescribes one teaspoon of salt, six to eight teaspoons of sugar, and four teaspoons of oil per person per day. However, the IMA said, the average Indian consumption is a worrisome two to three teaspoons of salt, 16 to 20 teaspoons of sugar, and eight teaspoons of oil per person per day.
What are lifestyle diseases?
A disease associated with the way a person or group of people lives. Lifestyle diseases include atherosclerosis, heart disease, and stroke; obesity and type 2 diabetes; and diseases associated with smoking and alcohol and drug abuse. Regular physical activity helps prevent obesity, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, colon cancer, and premature mortality.
About Indian Medical Association
Indian Medical Association is the only representative voluntary organization of Doctors of Modern Scientific System of Medicine, which looks after the interest of doctors as well as the well being of the community at large.
The Association was started in 1928 on the occasion of the 5th all India Medical Conference at Calcutta with the avowed objectives:
a. Promotion and Advancement of Medical and allied sciences in all their different branches.
b. The improvement of public Health and Medical Education in India.
c. The maintenance of honor and dignity of medical profession.
‘S-400 deal with Russia’
(GS2: Bilateral Relations)
Issue: The contract negotiations for the purchase of the S-400 Triumf long range air defence systems are in the final stages, and are expected to be closed by March 31.
India is planning to buy five systems that is expected to cost about ₹39,000 crore and is considered one of the most potent Surface to Air missile systems in the world. It can track and shoot down a range of incoming airborne targets at ranges of up to 400km.
In 2016, the two countries had concluded the Inter-Governmental Agreements for five S-400 systems and four stealth frigates after which the contract negotiations began to conclude a commercial contract.
For India, deploying the S-400 means that Pakistani aircraft can be tracked even when they are flying in their airspace. This will significantly beef up India’s alert levels in securing the country’s air space. The systems will be operated by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
China which has signed a $3 billion deal for six S-400 systems in 2014 has begun taking delivery of them. In December 2017, Turkey signed an agreement for two systems.
About S-400 Triumf
The S-400 Triumf (previously known as the S-300PMU-3, is an anti-aircraft weapon system developed in the 1990s by Russia’s Almaz Central Design Bureau as an upgrade of the S-300 family. It has been in service with the Russian Armed Forces since 2007. The S-400 uses four missiles to fill its performance envelope: the very-long-range 40N6 (400 km), the long-range 48N6 (250 km), the medium-range 9M96E2 (120 km) and the short-range 9M96E (40 km). The S-400 has been described, as of 2017, as “one of the best air-defence systems currently made.”
‘Index of Industrial Production’
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Industrial activity accelerated in January to 7.5% on the back of strong manufacturing growth and a rebound in the consumer durables sector
Retail inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), eased to 4.4% in February, following two months of figures above 5%
The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an index for India which details out the growth of various sectors in an economy such as mineral mining, electricity and manufacturing. The all India IIP is a composite indicator that measures the short-term changes in the volume of production of a basket of industrial products during a given period with respect to that in a chosen base period. It is compiled and published monthly by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) six weeks after the reference month ends.
The level of the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an abstract number, the magnitude of which represents the status of production in the industrial sector for a given period of time as compared to a reference period of time. The base year was at one time fixed at 1993–94 so that year was assigned an index level of 100. The current base year is 2011-2012.
The Eight Core Industries comprise nearly 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). These are Electricity, steel, refinery products, crude oil, coal, cement, natural gas and fertilizers.
About CPI and WPI
Wholesale Price Index (WPI) WPI first published in 1902, and was one of the more economic indicators available to policy makers until it was replaced by most developed countries by the Consumer Price Index in the 1970s. WPI is the index that is used to measure the change in the average price level of goods traded in wholesale market. In India, a total of 697 commodities data on price level is tracked through WPI which is an indicator of movement in prices of commodities in all trade and transactions. It is also the price index which is available on a weekly basis with the shortest possible time lag only two weeks. Base year to calculate WPI is 2011-2012=100
Consumer Price Index (CPI) in India comprises multiple series classified based on different economic groups. There are four series, viz the CPI UNME (Urban Non-Manual Employee), CPI AL (Agricultural Labourer), CPI RL (Rural Labourer) and CPI IW (Industrial Worker). While the CPI UNME series is published by the Central Statistical Organisation, the others are published by the Department of Labour.From February 2011 the CPI (UNME) released by CSO is replaced as CPI (urban), CPI (rural) and CPI (combined). Consumer Price Index is used in calculation of Dearness Allowance which forms an integral part of salary of a Government Employee. Base year to calculate CPI is 2012=100.
‘Pre-Iron Age artefacts found in Odisha’
(GS1: Indian culture)
Issue: Archaeological Survey of India, which has been excavating a mound at Jalalpur village of Odisha’s Cuttack district, has now come across stone and bone tools believed to be of early Iron Age.
What the discovery contains?
The discovery includes faunal remains, carbonized grains and stone and bone tools of early iron age to prehistoric period. Interestingly, we have found continuity in different periods. Yellow and dark grey color soil noticed during the excavation signifies the rural settlement flourished in different eras. Circular wall, semi-circular wall, crescent shape wall and mud platforms of different size and shape have also been discovered. Among the artefacts retrieved from the site include red ware, red slipped ware, grey and black wares, pots of different shapes, bowls, bowl-on-stand, ring based bowls, miniature pots, storage jars, pots .
Important antiquities retrieved from the site are polished stone axes and adzes, bone points, terracotta sling balls, terracotta wheel, beads of carnelian, and sand stone, hopscotch, barbed bone point, bone drill, bone arrow-head, bone spear-head, stylus and needle made of antler, bone borer cum side scraper and bone spatula.
About Iron Age in India
In the prehistory of the Indian subcontinent, an “Iron Age” is recognized as succeeding the Late Harappan (Cemetery H) culture. The main Iron Age archaeological cultures of present-day northern India are the Painted Grey Ware culture (1200 to 600 BCE) and the Northern Black Polished Ware (700 to 200 BCE). This corresponds to the transition of the Janapadas or tribal kingdoms of the Vedic period to the sixteen Mahajanapadas or kingdoms of the proto-historic period, culminating in the emergence of the historical Buddhist Maurya Empire towards the end of the period.
As elsewhere, the earliest evidence of iron smelting predates the emergence of the Iron Age proper by several centuries.
The earliest Iron Age sites in South India are Hallur, Karnataka and Adichanallur, Tamil Nadu at around 1000 BCE
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under the Ministry of Culture, is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation. Maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance is the prime concern of the ASI. Besides it regulate all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. It also regulates Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.
For the maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance the entire country is divided into 24 Circles. The organization has a large work force of trained archaeologists, conservators, epigraphist and scientists for conducting archaeological research projects through its Circles, Museums, Excavation Branches, Prehistory Branch, Epigraphy Branches, Science Branch, Horticulture Branch, Building Survey Project, Temple Survey Projects and Underwater Archaeology Wing.
‘Arms Import by India’
(GS3: Need for indigenization of technology)
Issue: Persisting failure to build a robust defence production industry has ensured that India continues to remain in the strategically-vulnerable position of being the world’s largest arms importer, accounting for 12% of the global imports from 2013-2017.
Arms imports by India increased by 24% between 2008-2012 and 2013-2017 periods, as per data on international arms transfers released by global think-tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
India is followed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, China, Australia, Algeria, Iraq, Pakistan and Indonesia as the world’s top arms importers. The largest arms suppliers to India from 2013-2017 were Russia (62%), US (15%) and Israel (11%).
SIPRI is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. Established in 1966, SIPRI provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public. Based in Stockholm, SIPRI also has a presence in Beijing, and is regularly ranked among the most respected think tanks worldwide. Vision and mission
SIPRI’s vision is a world in which sources of insecurity are identified and understood, conflicts are prevented or resolved, and peace is sustained.
SIPRI’s mission is to:
- undertake research and activities on security, conflict and peace;
- provide policy analysis and recommendations;
- facilitate dialogue and build capacities;
- promote transparency and accountability; and
- Deliver authoritative information to global audiences
‘Water crisis in Ladakh’
(GS3: Achievement of Indians in Science and Technology)
Issue: Chewang Norphel — as a civil engineer with the Jammu and Kashmir Rural Development Department — took inspiration from his childhood observations and made a breakthrough by devising the first artificial glacier in picturesque Leh, thereby solving a water crisis faced by the local community, of which at least 80 per cent were farmers growing barley and wheat.
Spurred by the success of his experiment, he went on to create 17 such artificial glaciers across Ladakh, thereby earning his nickname — “The Ice Man of India”. Most of his projects received financial aid from several state-run programmes, the army and various national and international NGOs.
Ladakh (“land of high passes”) is a region in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir that currently extends from the Kunlun mountain range to the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent. It is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Jammu and Kashmir and its culture and history are closely related to that of Tibet. Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture.
The largest town in Ladakh is Leh, followed by Kargil.
Ladakh is a high altitude desert as the Himalayas create a rain shadow, generally denying entry to monsoon clouds. The main source of water is the winter snowfall on the mountains. Recent flooding in the region (e.g., the 2010 floods) has been attributed to abnormal rain patterns and retreating glaciers, both of which have been found to be linked to global climate change. The Leh Nutrition Project, headed by Chewang Norphel, also known as the “Glacier Man”, creates artificial glaciers as one solution for retreating glaciers.
The regions on the north flank of the Himalayas — Dras, the Suru valley and Zangskar — experience heavy snowfall and remain cut off from the rest of the region for several months in the year, as the whole region remains cut off by road from the rest of the country. Summers are short, though they are long enough to grow crops. The summer weather is dry and pleasant. Temperature ranges are from 3 to 35 °C in summer and minimums range from -20 to -35 °C in winter.
Zanskar is the main river of the region along with its tributaries. The Zanskar gets frozen during winter and the famous Chadar trek takes place on this magnificent frozen river.
Issue: Under Project UNNATI 116 initiatives have been identified for various major ports. Out of the 116 initiatives, 86 have been implemented so far.
About the project
The shipping ministry launched Project Unnati in 2014 under which efficiency of equipment was studied and every activity was scrutinized to identify excesses/mistakes. Project Unnati identified over 104 such initiatives across 12 major ports. These initiatives are being monitored regularly by the minister
The aims and objectives of Project UNNATI of the Ministry of Shipping are as follows:
- Benchmark operational and financial performance of the 12 major ports with selected Indian private ports and best-in-class international ports for identifying improvement areas.
- Undertake capability maturity assessment for key processes and functional capabilities (e.g., IT, HR, Environment, and Health) and identify gaps and areas for further strengthening.
- Detailed deep-dive diagnosis and root cause analysis for the identified opportunity areas in each of the 12 major ports to understand underlying reasons for performance bottlenecks.
- Develop practical and actionable solutions on the basis of root cause findings, and develop a comprehensive improvement roadmap for each of the 12 major ports.
Issue: Six new port locations, namely – Vadhavan (Maharashtra), Enayam (Tamil Nadu), Tajpur (West Bengal), Paradip Outer Harbour (Odisha), Sirkazhi (Tamil Nadu), Belekeri (Karnataka) have been identified. Techno- Economic Feasibility Reports (TEFR) have been prepared for 5 locations and is under preparation for Tajpur. DPR is under preparation for Port of Vadhavan, Enayam and Paradip Outer Harbour Project. In-principle Cabinet approval has been obtained for development of a transshipment port at Enayam.
What is Sagarmala project?
Maritime sector in India has been the backbone of the country’s trade and has grown manifold over the years. To harness India’s 7,500 km long coastline, 14,500 km of potentially navigable waterways and strategic location on key international maritime trade routes, the Government of India has embarked on the ambitious Sagarmala Programme which aims to promote port-led development in the country.
The concept of Sagarmala was approved by the Union Cabinet on 25th March 2015. As part of the programme, a National Perspective Plan (NPP) for the comprehensive development of India’s coastline and maritime sector has been prepared
India is one of the fastest growing large economies in the world with a GDP growth rate of 7.5% in 2015-16 and ports play an important role in the overall economic development of the country. Approximately 95 % of India’s merchandise trade (by volume ) passes through sea ports. Many ports in India are evolving into specialised centres of economic activities and services (Table 1) and are vital to sustain future economic growth of the country.
However, Indian ports still have to address infrastructural and operational challenges before they graduate to the next level. For example, operational efficiency of Indian ports has improved over the years but still lags behind the global average. Turnaround time (TAT) at major ports was approximately 4 days in 2014-15 , whereas global average benchmark is 1-2 days . Some of the private sector ports in India like Mundra and Gangavaram, have been able to achieve a turnaround time of around 2 days .
Secondly, last mile connectivity to the ports is one of the major constraints in smooth movement of cargo to/from the hinterland. Almost 94% of Indian freight uses either road or rail for transportation of goods . A significant share of this cargo experiences “idle time” during its transit to the ports due to capacity constraints on highways and railway lines connecting ports to production and consumption centers. Although water-borne transport is much safer, cheaper and cleaner, compared to other modes of transportation, it accounts for only 6% of India’s modal split . By comparison, coastal and inland water transportation contribute to 47% of China’s freight modal mix, while in Japan and US, this share is 34% and 12.4% respectively . Significant savings can be achieved by shifting movement of industrial commodities like coal, iron ore, cement and steel to coastal and inland waterways. For example, transportation of coal through coastal shipping costs one-sixth (Rs. 0.20 per tonne km) as compared to rail (Rs. 1.20 – 1.40 per tonne km). However, more than 90% of coal currently moves via railways . The constraints on connectivity and sub-optimal modal mix results in higher logistics cost thereby affecting the manufacturing sector and export competitiveness.
The third factor is the location of industries / manufacturing centres vis-à-vis the ports. While cost differential between India and China is not significant on a per tonne km basis, China still has a lower container exporting cost, than the cost in India, due to lower lead distances . Presence of major manufacturing and industrial zones in coastal regions in China, which were developed as part of the Port-Led Policy of the government is the main reason for lower lead distances.
Any programme for port-led development needs to consider the above mentioned factors to effectively harness the potential of India’s long coastline.
Vision of the Sagarmala Programme (Figure) is to reduce logistics cost for EXIM and domestic trade with minimal infrastructure investment. This includes:
- Reducing cost of transporting domestic cargo through optimizing modal mix
- Lowering logistics cost of bulk commodities by locating future industrial capacities near the coast
- Improving export competitiveness by developing port proximate discrete manufacturing clusters
- Optimizing time/cost of EXIM container movement
Components of Sagarmala Programme are:
- Port Modernization & New Port Development: De-bottlenecking and capacity expansion of existing ports and development of new greenfield ports
- Port Connectivity Enhancement: Enhancing the connectivity of the ports to the hinterland, optimizing cost and time of cargo movement through multi-modal logistics solutions including domestic waterways (inland water transport and coastal shipping)
- Port-linked Industrialization: Developing port-proximate industrial clusters and Coastal Economic Zones to reduce logistics cost and time of EXIM and domestic cargo
- Coastal Community Development: Promoting sustainable development of coastal communities through skill development & livelihood generation activities, fisheries development, coastal tourism etc.
‘Jal Marg Vikas Project’
Issue: In order to assist the state governments to decongest cities, the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has engaged a reputed consultant to prepare feasibility studies for development of ferry services and identification of locations in Varanasi, Patna, Munger, Bhagalpur, Kolkata and Haldia .
About the project
The Government is implementing the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) for the capacity augmentation of navigation on the Haldia-Varanasi stretch of National Waterway-1 (Ganga) with the technical and financial assistance of the World Bank at an estimated cost of Rs.5,369.18 crore. Under this project, construction of three multimodal terminals, two intermodal terminals, one new navigational lock and works for fairway development, River Information System (RIS), vessel repair and maintenance facilities and Ro-Ro terminals are envisaged to be completed by December, 2022.
About Inland Waterways Authority of India
The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) came into existence on 27th October 1986 for development and regulation of inland waterways for shipping and navigation. The Authority primarily undertakes projects for development and maintenance of IWT infrastructure on national waterways through grant received from Ministry of Shipping.
India has about 14,500 km of navigable waterways which comprise of rivers, canals, backwaters, creeks etc. About 55 million tonnes of cargo is being moved annually by Inland Water Transport (IWT), a fuel – efficient and environment -friendly mode. Its operations are currently restricted to a few stretches in the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly rivers , the Brahmaputra, the Barak river, the rivers in Goa, the backwaters in Kerala, inland waters in Mumbai and the deltaic regions of the Godavari – Krishna rivers. Besides these organized operations by mechanized vessels, country boats of various capacities also operate in various rivers and canals and substantial quantum of cargo and passengers are transported in this unorganized sector as well.
‘Fight to Eradicate TB in India’
(GS2: Issues related to health)
Issue: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched a campaign to eradicate tuberculosis (TB) from India by 2025, five years ahead of a globally-set deadline.
The TB-free India Campaign is to take the activities under the National Strategic Plan for TB Elimination forward in a mission mode for ending the epidemic by 2025. TB is the most prevalent among communicable diseases in the country and the poor were the worst affected by it. Every step taken towards eradicating the disease is directly connected to their lives
Note: Please refer our earlier current affairs module for further information on TB and strategies employed by India to combat it.
(GS3: Achievements of Indians in Science and Technology)
Issue: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said it is aiming for an April launch of the Chandrayaan-2 satellite to the moon, this time it plans to send a rover to explore the lunar surface.
About the mission
The Chandrayaan-2 satellite would comprise an orbiter, lander and six-wheeled rover which would move around the landing site and instruments on it would send back data that would be useful in analyzing the lunar soil. After reaching the lunar orbit, the lander housing the rover will separate from the orbiter.
After a controlled descent, the lander will soft land on the lunar surface at a specified site and deploy the rover.
The space research activities were initiated in our country during the early 1960’s, when applications using satellites were in experimental stages even in the United States. With the live transmission of Tokyo Olympic Games across the Pacific by the American Satellite ‘Syncom-3’ demonstrating the power of communication satellites, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, the founding father of Indian space programme, quickly recognized the benefits of space technologies for India.
As Director, Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) located in Ahmedabad, Dr. Sarabhai convened an army of able and brilliant scientists, anthropologists, communicators and social scientists from all corners of the country to spearhead the Indian space programme.
Since inception, the Indian space programme has been orchestrated well and had three distinct elements such as, satellites for communication and remote sensing, the space transportation system and application programmes. The INCOSPAR (Indian National Committee for Space Research) was initiated under the leadership of Dr. Sarabhai and Dr. Ramanathan. In 1967, the first ‘Experimental Satellite Communication Earth Station (ESCES)’ located in Ahmedabad was operationalized, which also doubled as a training centre for the Indian as well as International scientists and engineers.
the first Indian spacecraft ‘Aryabhata’ was developed and was launched using a Soviet Launcher. Another major landmark was the development of the first launch vehicle SLV-3 with a capability to place 40 kg in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which had its first successful flight in 1980. Through the SLV-3 programme, competence was built up for the overall vehicle design, mission design, material, hardware fabrication, solid propulsion technology, control power plants, avionics, vehicle integration checkout and launch operations. Development of mult-istage rocket systems with appropriate control and guidance systems to orbit a satellite was a major landmark in our space programme.
In the experimental phase during 80’s, end-to-end capability demonstration was done in the design, development and in-orbit management of space systems together with the associated ground systems for the users. Bhaskara-I & II missions were pioneering steps in the remote sensing area whereas ‘Ariane Passenger Payload Experiment (APPLE)’ became the forerunner for future communication satellite system. Development of the complex Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV), also demonstrated newer technologies like use of strap-on, bulbous heat shield, closed loop guidance and digital autopilot. This paved the way for learning many nuances of launch vehicle design for complex missions, leading the way for realisation of operational launch vehicles such as PSLV and GSLV.
During the operational phase in 90’s, major space infrastructure was created under two broad classes: one for the communication, broadcasting and meteorology through a multi-purpose Indian National Satellite system (INSAT), and the other for Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS) system. The development and operationalisation of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and development of Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) were significant achievements during this phase.
The vision of ISRO is to “Harness space technology for national development, while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration”
(GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: The endangered Asiatic lion, which only lives in one forest in India, has fought back from the verge of extinction, with its population increasing to more than 600,
The lion, which once roamed across southwest Asia but is now restricted to the 1,400 square kilometre (545 square mile) Gir sanctuary in Gujarat state, was listed as critically endangered in 2000, with its population under threat due to hunting and human encroachment on its habitat.
In the late 1960s only about 180 Asiatic lions were thought to survive but an improvement in numbers prompted conservationists to raise their assessment to endangered in 2008.
Conservationists have suggested relocating some of the cats to another sanctuary, to reduce human-animal conflict and avoid the risk of the Asiatic lion being wiped out by disease or a natural disaster.
About Asiatic Lions
The Asiatic lion (Panthera leo leo) is a lion population in Gujarat, India, which is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List because of its small population size. Since 2010, the lion population in and around Gir Forest National Park has steadily increased.
The lion is one of five pantherine cats inhabiting India, along with the Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, snow leopard and clouded leopard