31st March, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Indian Brain Template’
(GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: At the National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) here, a group of scientists is preparing a one-of-its-kind database of brain images that, when compiled together, could result in a so-called Indian Brain Template (IBT). These will serve as a guide to neuroscientists and surgeons, who have so far based their knowledge of intricate brain anatomy on Caucasian models.
The IBT is funded by the Department of Science and Technology.
One of the important areas of study
They will be looking out for quantity of a molecule called glutathione, an antioxidant known to help repair cell damage, reduced glutathione concentrations in the parietal cortical region — near the back of the brain near where the skull bulges — may help predict Alzheimer’s disease.
About Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease (AD), also referred to simply as Alzheimer’s, is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and worsens over time. It is the cause of 60% to 70% of cases of dementia. The most common early symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events (short-term memory loss). As the disease advances, symptoms can include problems with language, disorientation (including easily getting lost), mood swings, loss of motivation, not managing self care, and behavioral issues. As a person’s condition declines, they often withdraw from family and society. Gradually, bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death. Although the speed of progression can vary, the average life expectancy following diagnosis is three to nine years.
The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is poorly understood. About 70% of the risk is believed to be genetic with many genes usually involved. Other risk factors include a history of head injuries, depression, or hypertension. The disease process is associated with plaques and tangles in the brain.
No treatments stop or reverse its progression, though some may temporarily improve symptoms. Affected people increasingly rely on others for assistance, often placing a burden on the caregiver; the pressures can include social, psychological, physical, and economic elements.
(GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Around 180 recyclers from across the country have joined hands to change the narrative and come together to form the All India e-Waste Recyclers’ Association. To be headquartered in Bengaluru, the association will look at streamlining the dismantling and recycling cycle of e-waste in the country.
Objective of setting up this association
An estimated 18 lakh metric tonnes of electronic waste (e-waste) that India generates per annum, less than 2 lakh tonnes reach licensed recyclers. The rest is either reaching the unorganized sector (such as scrap dealers), or ending up in landfills. Not only does this mean that potentially recyclable e-waste is being wasted, but also that unscientifically managed e-waste is a hazard that stands exposed.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notified the E-Waste Management Rules, 2016
1. Manufacturer, dealer, refurbisher and Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) have been introduced as additional stakeholders in the rules.
2. The applicability of the rules has been extended to components, consumables, spares and parts of EEE in addition to equipment as listed in Schedule I.
3. Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) and other mercury containing lamp brought under the purview of rules.
4. Collection mechanism based approach has been adopted to include collection centre, collection point, take back system etc for collection of e – waste by Producers under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
5. Option has been given for setting up of PRO , e – waste exchange , e – retailer, Deposit Refund Scheme as additional channel for implementation of EPR by Producers to ensure efficient channelization of e – waste.
6. Provision for Pan India EPR Authorization by CPCB has been introduced replacing the state wise EPR authorization.
7. Collection and channelization of e – waste in Extended Producer Responsibility – Authorization shall be in line with the targets prescribed in Schedule III of the Rules. The phase wise Collection Target for e – waste, which can be either in number or Weight shall be 30% of the quantity of waste generation as indicated in EPR Plan during first two year of implementation of rules followed by 40% during third and fourth years, 50% during fifth and sixth years and 70% during seventh year onwards.
8. Deposit Refund Scheme has been introduced as an additional economic instrument wherein the producer charges an additional amount as a deposit at the time of sale of the electrical and electronic equipment and returns it to the consumer along with interest when the end – of – life electrical and electronic equipment is returned.
9. The e – waste exchange as an option has been provided in the rules as an independent market instrument offering assistance or independent electronic systems offering services for sale and purchase of e – waste generated from end – of – life electrical and electronic equipment between agencies or organizations authorized under these rules.
10. The manufacturer is also now responsible to collect e-wastes generated during the manufacture of any electrical and electronic equipment and channelizes it for recycling or disposal and seek authorization from SPCB.
11. The dealer, if has been given the responsibility of collection on behalf of the producer, need to collect the e – waste by providing the consumer a box and channelize it to Producer.
12. Dealer or retailer or e – retailer shall refund the amount as per take back system or De posit Refund Scheme of the producer to the depositor of e – waste.
13. Refurbisher need collect e – waste generated during the process of refurbishing and channelise the waste to authorised dismantler or recycler through its collection centre and seek one time authorization from SPCB.
14. The roles of the State Government has been also introduced in the Rules in order to ensure safety, health and skill development of the workers involved in the dismantling and recycling operations.
15. Department of Industry in State o r any other government agency authorised in this regard by the State Government is to ensure earmarking or allocation of industrial space or shed for e – waste dismantling and recycling in the existing and upcoming industrial park, estate and industrial clusters.
16. Department of Labour in the State or any other government agency authorised in this regard by the State Government need to ensure recognition and registration of workers involved in dismantling and recycling; assist formation of groups of such workers to facilitate setting up dismantling facilities; undertake industrial skill development activities for the workers involved in dismantling and recycling; and undertake annual monitoring and to ensure safety & health of workers involved in dismantling and recycling.
17. State Government to prepare integrated plan for effective implementation of these provisions, and to submit annual report to Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
18. The transportation of e – waste shall be carried out as per the manifest system whereby the transporter shall be required to carry a document (three copies) prepared by the sender, giving the details.
19. Liability for damages caused to the environment or third party due to improper management of e – waste including provision for levying financial penalty for violation of provisions of the Rules has also been introduced.
20. Urban Local Bodies (Municipal Committee/Council/Corporation) has been assign the duty to collect and channelized the orphan products to authorized dismantler or recycler.
‘Open Defecation Free states’
(GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Kerala and Mizoram top the list of States, with 100% of households which do not practise open defecation, while Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are at the bottom of the rankings, with less than 44% of such households
Other observations made in the report
Sixty eight per cent of rural households in India say that all their members use the toilet when required, meaning they do not practice open defecation at all, the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS) 2017-18 revealed.
The provisional summary report of the survey found that 77% of all rural households now have access to toilets, and that 93.4% of those who had access to toilets used them regularly. The survey was conducted by a third party agency Kantar Public, as a requirement by the World Bank to begin payout on its $1.5 billion loan to the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan-Gramin, according to the survey report.
To accelerate the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage and to put focus on sanitation, the Prime Minister of India launched the Swachh Bharat Mission on 2nd October, 2014. The Mission Coordinator for SBM is Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) with two Sub-Missions, the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) and the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban). Together, they aim to achieve Swachh Bharat by 2019, as a fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th Birth Anniversary.
In Rural India, this would mean improving the levels of cleanliness through Solid and Liquid Waste Management activities and making villages Open Defecation Free (ODF), clean and sanitised.
The aim of Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) is to achieve a clean and Open Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2nd October, 2019
- To bring about an improvement in the general quality of life in the rural areas, by promoting cleanliness, hygiene and eliminating open defecation.
- To accelerate sanitation coverage in rural areas to achieve the vision of Swachh Bharat by 2nd October 2019.
- To motivate communities to adopt sustainable sanitation practices and facilities through awareness creation and health education.
- To encourage cost effective and appropriate technologies for ecologically safe and sustainable sanitation.
- To develop, wherever required, community managed sanitation systems focusing on scientific Solid & Liquid Waste Management systems for overall cleanliness in the rural areas.
- To create significant positive impact on gender and promote social inclusion by improving sanitation especially in marginalized communities
The focus of the Strategy is to move towards a ‘Swachh Bharat’ by providing flexibility to State governments, as sanitation is a State subject, to decide on their implementation policy, use of funds and mechanisms, taking into account State specific requirements. The Government of India’s role is essentially to complement the efforts of the State governments through the focused programme being given the status of a Mission, recognizing its dire need for the country.
The key elements of the Strategy include
- Augmenting the institutional capacity of districts for undertaking intensive behaviour change activities at the grassroots level
- Strengthening the capacities of implementing agencies to roll out the programme in a time-bound manner and to measure collective outcomes
- Incentivizing the performance of State-level institutions to implement behavioural change activities in communities
‘Budget measures to begin from April 1st
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Several budget proposals, including the reintroduction of tax on long term capital gains (LTCG) exceeding ₹1 lakh from sale of shares, will kick in from April 1, the beginning of the 2018-19 financial year.
Other tax proposals include
Reduced corporate tax of 25% on businesses on turnover of up to ₹250 crore and a standard deduction of ₹40,000 in lieu of transport allowance and medical reimbursement will come into effect. While the exemption limit on income from interest for senior citizens has been raised five times to ₹50,000 per year, the limit of deduction for health insurance premium and medical expenditure has been raised to ₹50,000 from ₹30,000 under section 80D of the I-T Act.
For senior and very senior citizens, the tax deduction for critical illness will be ₹1 lakh from April 1, as against the existing limit of ₹60,000 for senior citizens and ₹80,000 for very senior citizens
Raising the health and education cess, levied on all taxable income, to 4% from 3% will also come into effect from April 1st 2018
It is the tax paid on profit generated by an asset such as real estate, shares or share-oriented products held for a particular time-frame. The definition of Long-term Capital Gains, or LTCG, is different for various products.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his Union Budget speech, re-introduced LTCG tax on stocks. Investors will have to pay 10 per cent tax on profit exceeding Rs 1 lakh made from the sale of shares or equity mutual fund schemes held for over one year. Till now, LTCG was exempt from tax. The definition of a long-term investor in stocks for tax purposes is one year.
About Cess and Surcharge
A cess imposed by the central government is a tax on tax, levied by the government for a specific purpose. Generally, cess is expected to be levied till the time the government gets enough money for that purpose.
For example, a cess for financing primary education – the education cess (which is imposed on all central government taxes) is to be spent only for financing primary education (SSA) and not for any other purposes.
Surcharge is a charge on any tax, charged on the tax already paid. As the name suggests, surcharge is an additional charge or tax. The main surcharges are that on personal income tax (on high income slabs and on super rich) and on corporate income tax.
From the revenue side, surcharges are important as around 35% of all cesses and surcharges come from the surcharge on direct taxes.
A common feature of both surcharge and cess is that the centre need not share it with states.
(Facts that can be asked in prelims)
Issue: Another blue moon will light up the sky on Saturday. The rare celestial event will occur for the second time within a calendar month.
What is a Blue moon?
A “Blue Moon” is a fairly infrequent phenomenon involving the appearance of an additional full moon within a given period.
(Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: An out-of-control space laboratory that will plunge back to Earth in the coming days is unlikely to cause any damage, Chinese authorities say, but will offer instead a “splendid” show akin to a meteor shower.
About the Project
The lab was placed in orbit in September 2011 and had been slated for a controlled re-entry, but it ceased functioning in March 2016 and space enthusiasts have been bracing for its fiery return.
Experts have downplayed any concerns about the Tiangong-1 causing any damage when it hurtles back to Earth, with the ESA noting that nearly 6,000 uncontrolled re-entries of large objects have occurred over the past 60 years without harming anyone.
‘Anandi Gopal Joshi’
(Facts that can be asked in prelims)
Issue: Google is celebrating the 153rd birth anniversary of Anandi Gopal Joshi, India’s first female doctor, with a doodle.
About Anandi Gopal Joshi
Anandi was born in Yamuna, in Thane district of Maharashtra on March 31, 1865. She was married at the age of 9 to Gopalrao Joshi, a man many years her senior. At 14 she gave birth to her first child, and it was the death of her 10-day-old baby, due to lack of medical care, that encouraged her to study medicine and make a difference in her own country.
Her husband, known to be a progressive man for that era, played an important part in her early education, teaching her to read and write. Anandi lived in Calcutta for a while, before setting sail for the United States while still in her teens. Anandi battled ill health at the time but that didn’t stop her from pursuing her higher education in a foreign country.
In Pennsylvania, Anandi completed her thesis on “Obstetrics among the Aryan Hindus”. Following her graduation, Queen Victoria reportedly sent her a congratulatory message.
Anandi returned to India in 1886. The State of Kolhapur appointed her as the physician-in-charge of the female ward of the local Albert Edward Hospital. Months after taking on her new role, shortly before her 22nd birthday, Anandi succumbed to tuberculosis. A crater in Venus is named after her.
‘Unrecognized structure in the human body’
Issue: Researchers from New York University School of Medicine have reported a previously unrecognized structure in the human body which may have implications in the mechanisms of major diseases.
What is the new discovery?
The study published in Scientific reports reveals that layers below the skin’s surface, which were long thought to be dense, connective tissues are instead interconnected, fluid-filled compartments.
This series of spaces, supported by a meshwork of strong (collagen) and flexible (elastin) connective tissue proteins, may act like shock absorbers that keep tissues from tearing as organs, muscles, and vessels squeeze, pump, and pulse as part of daily function
Significance of this discovery
The report says that “these anatomic structures may be important in cancer metastasis, edema, fibrosis, and mechanical functioning of many or all tissues and organs.”