27th April, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘World Immunization Week’
(GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: World Immunization Week is celebrated from 24th- 30th of April by the World Health Organization (WHO) in order to increase awareness about vaccination. This years’ theme has been about #VaccinesWork.
Current scenario of Immunization in India
According to the National Family Health Survey IV of 2015-16, 6% of children between 12-24 months of age have not received any childhood vaccines mentioned under the National Immunization Program. Furthermore, it adds that 62% of children 12-24 months of age had received all basic childhood vaccines.
‘Virtual Bronchoscopy Navigation (VBN)’
(GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Thursday said it has become the country’s first hospital to set up Virtual Bronchoscopy Navigation (VBN), an advanced facility for diagnosis and treatment of patients with small tumour-like spots in the lungs, which can be cancerous.
Lung diseases are on the rise and it is not uncommon to find patients who have been diagnosed with small abnormal appearing areas in the lungs which are picked up on chest X-rays and CT scan examinations
The VBN system allows getting samples from these small lung lesions with extreme precision and safety using a bronchoscope after a 3D view of the windpipe is generated using the CT scan images, thereby avoiding puncturing the lung and reducing complications
(GS3: Indian Agriculture)
Issue: National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. (NAFED) reeling under financial distress and massive debt of its lender banks till recently, has made an impressive turn around with record profit for the financial year 2017-18. This has enabled the Federation to contribute Rs. 220 Crore as cash payment to its lender banks towards part fulfillment of its One Time Settlement amount of Rs. 478 Crore.
National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd.(NAFED) was established on the auspicious day of Gandhi Jayanti on 2nd October 1958. Nafed is registered under the Multi State Co-operative Societies Act. Nafed was setup with the object to promote Co-operative marketing of Agricultural Produce to benefit the farmers. Agricultural farmers are the main members of Nafed, who have the authority to say in the form of members of the General Body in the working of Nafed.
Objectives of Nafed
The objectives of the NAFED shall be to organize, promote and develop marketing, processing and storage of agricultural, horticultural and forest produce, distribution of agricultural machinery, implements and other inputs, undertake inter-state, import and export trade, wholesale or retail as the case may be and to act and assist for technical advice in agricultural, production for the promotion and the working of its members, partners, associates and cooperative marketing, processing and supply societies in India. In furtherance of these objectives, the NAFED may undertake one or more of the following activities.
(i) to facilitate, coordinate and promote the marketing and trading activities of the cooperative institutions, partners and associates in agricultural, other commodities, articles and goods;
(ii) to undertake or promote on its own or on behalf of its member Institutions or the Government or Government Organizations, Inter-State and international trade and commerce and undertake, wherever necessary, sale, purchase, import, export and distribution of agricultural commodities, horticultural and forest produce, other articles and goods from various sources for pursuing its business activities and to act as the agency for canalization of export and import and interstate trade of agricultural and other commodities or articles under any scheme formulated by the Government of India or other Government agencies and to facilitate these activities, wherever necessary, to open branches/sub-offices and appoint agents at any place within the country or abroad;
(iii) to undertake purchase, sale and supply of agricultural, marketing and processing requisites, such as manure, seeds, fertilizer, agricultural implements and machinery, packing machinery, construction requisites, processing machinery for agricultural commodities, forest produce, dairy, wool and other animal products;
(iv) To act as warehouseman under the Warehousing Act and own and construct its own godowns and cold storages;
(v) to act as agent of any Government agency or cooperative institution, for the purchase, sale, storage and distribution of agricultural, horticultural, forest and animal husbandry produce, wool, agricultural requisites and other consumer goods;
(vi) To act as insurance agent and to undertake all such work which is incidental to the same;
(vii) To organize consultancy work in various fields for the benefit of the cooperative institutions in general and for its members in particular;
(viii) to undertake manufacture of agricultural, machinery and implements, processing, packing, etc. and other production requisites and consumer articles by setting up manufacturing units either directly or in collaboration with or as a joint venture with any other agency, including import and distribution of spare-parts and components to up-keep of the machinery/ implements;
(ix) To set up storage units for storing various commodities and goods, by itself or in collaboration with any other agency in India or abroad;
(x) to maintain transport units of its own or in collaboration with any other organization in India or abroad for movements of goods on land, sea, air and operate freight station, container depot and undertake other incidental activities;
(xi) To collaborate with any international agency or a foreign body for development of cooperative marketing, processing and other activities for mutual advantage in India or abroad;
(xii) To undertake marketing research and dissemination of market intelligence;
(xiii) to subscribe to the share capital and undertake business collaboration with cooperative institutions, public, joint and private sector enterprises, if and when considered necessary for fulfilling the objectives of NAFED;
(xiv) To arrange for the training of employees of marketing/ processing/supply cooperative societies;
(xv) To establish processing units for processing of agricultural, horticultural and forest produce, wool and allied products;
(xvi) To undertake grading, packing, standardization, scientific treatment and process of agricultural produce and other articles;
(xvii) To acquire, take on lease or hire, lands, buildings, fixtures and vehicles and to sell, give on lease or hire them for the business of NAFED.
(xiii) To advance loans to its members and other cooperative institutions on the security of goods or otherwise;
(xix) to guarantee loans or advances or give undertakings to any Society or Company in which the Federation has a shareholding or financial involvements as a promoter to be able to assist its development or expansion or for starting any industrial undertaking by such societies/companies;
(GS2: Appointment to various constitutional posts)
Issue: Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said the government was free to send back Uttarakhand Chief Justice K.M. Joseph’s name to the Supreme Court Collegium for re-consideration.
The government has already sent Justice Joseph’s file back to the Collegium for re-consideration. The grounds for returning the file include Justice Joseph’s relative juniority among High Court Chief Justices. The government has said he is the 42nd in the All-India High Court Judges Seniority List and there were 10 High Court Chief Justices senior to him.
About the Collegium system
The collegium system was created by two judgments of the Supreme Court in 1990s in which a body of senior apex court judges headed by the Chief Justice of India selected persons and recommended their names for appointment as judges.
Under the 22-year-old court-framed collegium system of appointment and transfer of judges of high courts and the Supreme Court, the chief justice of the respective high courts and two other senior-most judges of the court comprise a collegium empowered by virtue of a 1993 judgment of the Supreme Court to identify suitable candidates, do due diligence and recommend for appointment as judges of the court.
The shortlisted candidates are scrutinized by a collegium of five senior-most judges of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of India before being cleared for appointment. The same collegium of the apex court identifies serving judges and chief justices of high courts for elevation to the Supreme Court. There is no mention of the collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments.
‘Diversion of Forest land’
(GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given in-principle approval for the diversion of 77 hectares of forest land for the ₹1.08 lakh crore bullet train projects between Mumbai and Ahmedabad
The clearances have come with a rider that the remaining deficiencies on pending claims under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, in proposals submitted by Gujarat and Maharashtra, must be ironed out at the earliest. The two States have also been told to coordinate closely with the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) to speed up the project.
More about the project
1. The diversion, allowed under Section 2(2) of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, could be the highest after about 47 hectares of forest land was diverted for the ambitious Mumbai Trans Harbor Link (MTHL) project and another 58 hectares for the ₹45,000 crore Dedicated Freight Corridor between Mumbai and Dadri
2. Activists said the potential loss of green cover could further aggravate the issue, especially in Maharashtra’s Palghar district where geotechnical investigations, hydrological survey, utility mapping are all being halted on a 90-km alignment due to the protests.
3. About 312 villages in Gujarat and Maharashtra will have to give up land while a total of 7,974 plots belonging to the Forest Department and Railways will have to be acquired for the project.
4. The train, with a capacity of 750 passengers, will travel at speeds between 320 km/hr and 350km/hr and is expected to reduce travel time between Ahmedabad and Mumbai to three-and-a-half hours or less from the present eight. The project is expected to be completed in seven years.
‘Thrissur Pooram festival’
(GS1: Indian Culture)
Issue: Thrissur Pooram has enjoyed a special status in the long list of conventional temple festivals that light up the linear strip of south-western India
About the festival
Thrissur Pooram is an annual Hindu temple festival held in Kerala, India. It is held at the Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur every year on the Pooram day – the day when the moon rises with the Pooram star in the Malayalam Calendar month of Medam. It is the largest and most famous of all poorams
(GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Towards strengthening the emerging biotechnology enterprise in India, Department of Biotechnology (DBT), and Ministry of Science & Technology has initiated the Mission programme entitled: Industry-Academia Collaborative Mission for Accelerating Discovery Research to Early Development for Biopharmaceuticals
About National Bio-pharma mission
The National Bio-pharma Mission is being implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) – a Public Sector Undertaking of Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
The Mission has been approved at a total cost of US$250 million for five years with 50% funding through World Bank Loan, with an aim to make India a hub for design and development of novel, affordable and effective biopharmaceutical products such as vaccines, biologics and medical devices for combating public health concerns. This Programme of DBT would strengthen translational capability of academic researchers; empower bio-entrepreneurs and SMEs by decreasing the cost and risk during early stages of product development and also elevate the innovation quotient of the industry.
‘China’s defence modernization’
(GS2: Effect of policies of other countries on India’s policies)
Issue: China confirmed on Thursday that it had put into a service a new missile that Chinese media has dubbed the “Guam killer” for its ability to hit the U.S. Pacific Ocean base with a conventional or nuclear weapon.
China is in the midst of an ambitious modernization programme for its armed forces, developing stealth fighters, aircraft carriers and advanced missiles as it strives to become a world class military by the middle of the century.
That, along with an increasingly assertive stance in the disputed South China Sea and around Taiwan, claimed by China as its sacred territory, has rattled nerves around the region and in Washington.
Taiwan is one of China’s most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint. Over the past year or so, China has ramped up military drills around democratic Taiwan, including flying bombers and other military aircraft around the island.
Also, the Indian Air Force chief said the Chinese air force had significantly increased its deployment in Tibet across the border from India.
‘Myanmar refugee crisis’
(GS2: International relations)
Issue: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed Christine Schraner Burgener, a Swiss diplomat with conflict resolution experience in Southeast Asia, as his special envoy for Myanmar.
About the crisis
Over 7,00,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state since August when attacks on security posts by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army was met with wholesale retribution by the Myanmar military and civilian vigilantes.
Mr. Guterres has likened the conditions that led to the exodus of the Rohingyas to ‘ethnic cleansing.’
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India, along with other emerging economies like Turkey and the Philippines, will be a loser if the recent oil price rise continues, according to a Nomura report.
Highlights of the report
1. Turkey and Ukraine, with high inflation and large twin deficits, appear to be the most at risk of a vicious spiral from a continued rise in oil prices while India, Cambodia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Romania are also susceptible, albeit to a lesser extent
2. For India, the rising oil prices risk reversing the improving economic fundamental ‘sweet spot’ experienced during 2014-16, at a time when there are heightened market concerns over pre-election populist government policies, the costs of cleaning up the banking sector and the lack of progress in rejuvenating private investment
3. Every $10/barrel (bbl) rise in oil price would worsen the current account balance by 0.4% of GDP, increase inflation by 30-40 basis points (bps), hurt growth by 15 bps and worsen the fiscal balance by 0.1% of GDP.
4. The clear cut winners from the rise in oil prices include exporters Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Colombia.
5. Additionally, rising inflationary risks would push the Reserve Bank of India to hike cumulatively by 50 bps in H2 2018 against the current base case of no change.
‘Oil price bargain’
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India will work to create a network with other major oil buyers in Asia, such as China, South Korea and Japan, to negotiate better terms with sellers, the country’s Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said in New Delhi
Crude oil imports by China, India, Japan and South Korea alone make up more than 20% of global demand
India has not been able to bargain better rates from the Gulf-based producers of the oil cartel, OPEC. Instead of getting a discount for bulk purchases, West Asian producers, such as Saudi Arabia, charge a so-called ‘Asian Premium’ for shipments to Asian buyers, including India and Japan, as opposed to Europe.
This is India’s third attempt to unite major Asian energy importers to beat the producers’ cartel.
‘Google and Start-up movement’
(GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: Google has introduced an India-focused mentoring programme to support start-ups addressing local problems
About the project
‘Solve for India’ would provide technology support for deploying artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools to build solutions for India in areas such as agriculture, healthcare, retail and education.
‘New Frog species’
Issue: In the highland plateaus of the Western Ghats parts of Goa, scientists have identified a new species of frog called Fejervarya goemchi.
About this new discovery
The new species is named after the historical name of the state of Goa where the species is discovered. Come monsoons and many of these are large-sized terrestrial frogs sit next to water bodies making calls to attract females for mating and breeding. Although most of these frogs are terrestrial, they need water bodies to continue for survival.
‘Electrification in India’
Issue: Rural electrification became a cornerstone of the prime minister’s plan, which included connecting more than 18,000 villages by the end of this month. And with only a few left to be electrified, according to government data, that’s a target Modi’s administration looks set to meet.
But that will still keep almost 32 million homes in the dark: the government deems a village “electrified” if 10% of its households, as well as public places such as schools and health centers, are connected. As of Thursday, less than 8% of the newly electrified villages had all homes electrified, the data showed, and leaving swaths of rural India without power, which can hinder economic growth, basic health care and education.
Main concern with electrification
Government data this week showed India had electrified about 13% of the almost 36.8 million homes identified in October as needing power. To meet its next deadline, it has to accelerate its monthly pace by more than threefold
‘India and Formal Jobs’
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Making a case for creating more formal jobs, the World Bank in its draft World Development Report 2019 said in India the pay-offs in the formal sector are over twice as much as in the informal sector, which is among the largest in the world.
Highlights of the report
1. The Bank said regardless of how work may be changing, for low and middle-income countries, it is persistent informality and low-productivity employment that poses the greatest challenge.
2. Since 1999, India has seen its IT sector boom, become a nuclear power, broken the world record for the number of satellites launched in a single rocket and achieved an annual growth rate of 5.6%. Yet, the size of its informal sector has remained around 91%
3. In another draft report titled Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) for India released in February, the World Bank said India needs to create regular, salaried jobs with growing earnings rather than self-employed ones, in order to join the ranks of the global middle class by 2047—the centenary of its independence.
4. The draft World Development report said that self-employment, informal wage work with no written contracts and protections, and low-productivity jobs more generally are the norm in most of the developing world.
‘Fertilizers and health risks’
(GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Synthetic fertilizers used in farming can trigger diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, government scientists have found.
The scientists, from the nanoscience and water research unit of the central government’s department of science and technology, found a close link between toxic heavy metals used in fertilizers and the prevalence of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases among farmers.
Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar is high, but not high enough to be type 2 diabetes in which the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin, or it resists insulin. Atherosclerosis is a cardiovascular disease in which there is narrowing of the arteries due to plaque buildup on the artery walls.