11 th Oct, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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Pollution and H1N1 ( GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: High pollution and lack of good ventilation are making citizens susceptible to the H1N1, say doctors. As this is an airborne infection, citizens are more vulnerable to the virus due to high levels of pollution and population density, and poor ventilation in homes and offices.
As per data available with the Department of Health and Family Welfare, between 2009 and October 7, 2018, as many as 13,075 H1N1 positive cases have been recorded across the State of Karnataka
What is H1N1?
- H1N1 flu is also known as swine flu.
- It’s called swine flu because in the past, the people who caught it had direct contact with pigs.
- That changed several years ago, when a new virus emerged that spread among people who hadn’t been near pigs.
- H1N1 flu is caused by a influenza A virus.
- The letters H and N in the subtype name stand for proteins found on the surface of the virus, which are used to distinguish between different influenza A subtypes.
- Influenza viruses are constantly changing their genes, a process called mutation.
- When a swine flu virus is found in humans, it is said to have “jumped the species barrier.” This means that the virus has mutated in a way that allows it to cause the condition in humans. Because humans have no natural protection or immunity to the virus, they are likely to become ill.
- The H1N1 flu virus is made up of genes from flu viruses that normally cause influenza in pigs, birds, and humans.
- H1N1 flu virus is contagious. Person-to-person transmission of H1N1 flu virus occurs, and the virus is easily spread among people.The various strains of influenza A virus infection produce the same kinds of symptoms. People may experience:
- body aches
- loss of appetite
- sore throat
Minimum river flows (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: In a first, the Union government has mandated the minimum quantity of water — or ecological flow as it’s called in scientific circles — that various stretches of the Ganga must necessarily have all through the year.
The new norms would require hydropower projects located along the river to modify their operations so as to ensure they are in compliance. The National Mission for Clean Ganga has laid down the flow specifications.
About National Mission for Clean Ganga
National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) was registered as a society on 12th August 2011 under the Societies Registration Act 1860.It acted as implementation arm of National Ganga River Basin Authority(NGRBA) which was constituted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA),1986. NGRBA has since been dissolved with effect from the 7th October 2016, consequent to constitution of National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga (referred as National Ganga Council)
The Act envisages five tier structure at national, state and district level to take measures for prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution in river Ganga and to ensure continuous adequate flow of water so as to rejuvenate the river Ganga as below;
1. National Ganga Council under chairmanship of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India.
2. Empowered Task Force (ETF) on river Ganga under chairmanship of Hon’ble Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
3. National Mission for Clean Ganga(NMCG).
4. State Ganga Committees and
5. District Ganga Committees in every specified district abutting river Ganga and its tributaries in the states
NMCG has a two tier management structure and comprises of Governing Council and Executive Committee. Both of them are headed by Director General, NMCG. Executive Committee has been authorized to accord approval for all projects up to Rs.1000 crore. Similar to structure at national level, State Programme Management Groups (SPMGs) acts as implementing arm of State Ganga Committees. Thus the newly created structure attempts to bring all stakeholders on one platform to take a holistic approach towards the task of Ganga cleaning and rejuvenation.
About River Ganga
Great River of the plains of the northern Indian subcontinent, from time immemorial it has been the holy river of Hinduism. For most of its course it is a wide and sluggish stream, flowing through one of the most fertile and densely populated regions in the world. Rising in the Himalayas and emptying into the Bay of Bengal, it drains one-fourth of the territory of India, and its basin supports hundreds of millions of people.
Its five headstreams—the Bhagirathi, the Alaknanda, the Mandakini, the Dhauliganga, and the Pindar—all rise in the mountainous region of northern Uttarakhand state. Of those, the two main headstreams are the Alaknanda (the longer of the two), which rises about 30 miles (50 km) north of the Himalayan peak of Nanda Devi, and the Bhagirathi, which originates at about 10,000 feet (3,000 metres) above sea level in a subglacial meltwater cave at the base of the Himalayan glacier known as Gangotri. Gangotri itself is a sacred place for Hindu pilgrimage. The true source of the Ganges, however, is considered to be at Gaumukh, about 13 miles (21 km) southeast of Gangotri.
The Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers unite at Devaprayag to form the main stream known as the Ganga, which cuts southwestward through the Siwalik Range (Outer Himalayas) at the northern edge of the Indo-Gangetic Plain to emerge from the mountains at Rishikesh
The delta, the seaward prolongation of sediment deposits from the Ganges and Brahmaputra river valleys, is about 220 miles (355 km) along the coast and covers an area of some 23,000 square miles (60,000 square km). It is composed of repeated alternations of clays, sands, and marls, with recurring layers of peat, lignite, and beds of what were once forests. The new deposits of the delta, known in Hindi and Urdu as the khadar, naturally occur in the vicinity of the present channels. The delta’s growth is dominated by tidal processes.
The southern surface of the Ganges delta has been formed by the rapid and comparatively recent deposition of enormous loads of sediment. To the east the seaward side of the delta is being changed at a rapid rate by the formation of new lands, known as chars, and new islands. The western coastline of the delta, however, has remained practically unchanged since the 18th century.
Saurabh Chaudhary (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: India shooter Saurabh Chaudhary clinched the gold medal in the 10m air pistol event at the Youth Olympic Games
This is India’s third gold medal in Buenos Aires and the fourth medal overall for the shooting contingent. Chaudhary also bagged the yellow metal in the recently concluded Asian Games and Junior ISSF World Championship.
Other medals won at the games include:
He is the second Indian to win a shooting medal at the Youth Games and the first male to do so. Manu Bhaker won the Girl’s 10m air pistol event on Tuesday to win the first ever shooting gold for India in the multi-sport event. Weightlifter had Jeremy Lalrinnunga claimed gold in the Boy’s 62kg weightlifting event. That was the first time ever that an Indian had won gold in the history of the Youth Olympics
India and Finland Environmental co-operation(GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modihas approved Memorandum of Cooperation between India and Finland on Environmental Cooperation. The Memorandum of Cooperation will enable establishment and promotion of closer and long-term cooperation between the two countries in the field of environment protection and management of natural resources on the basis of equity, reciprocity and mutual benefits, taking into account the applicable laws and legal provisions in each country.
The areas of cooperation under this Memorandum of Cooperation shall include:
- Air and water pollution prevention and purification, remediation of contaminated soils;
- Waste management including hazardous wastes, and waste-to-energy technologies;
iii) Promotion of circular economy, low-carbon solutions and sustainable management of natural resources including forests.;
- iv) Climate change;
- v) Environmental and Forest monitoring and data management;
- vi) Conservation of Marine and Coastal Resources;
vii) Integrated water management of Oceanic/Sea Islands; and
viii) Any other areas jointly decided upon.
Vocational training (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the merger of the existing regulatory institutions in the skills space – National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT) and the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) into the National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET).
NCVET will regulate the functioning of entities engaged in vocational education and training, both long-term and short-term and establish minimum standards for the functioning of such entities. The primary functions of NCVET will include –
- recognition and regulation of awarding bodies, assessment bodies and skill related information providers;
- approval of qualifications developed by awarding bodies and Sector Skill Councils (SSCs);
- indirect regulation of vocational training institutes through awarding bodies and assessment agencies;
- research and information dissemination;
- grievance redressal.
Benefits of mergers
This institutional reform will lead to improvement in quality and market relevance of skill development programs lending credibility to vocational education and training encouraging greater private investment and employer participation in the skills space. This in turn will help achieve the twin objectives of enhancing aspirational value of vocational education and of increasing skilled manpower furthering the Prime Minister’s agenda of making India the skill capital of the world.
National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) established in 2013, was to coordinate and harmonize the skill development efforts of the government and the private sector. The primary role of NSDA has been to anchor and operationalise the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) to ensure that quality and standards meet sector specific requirements.
However, a need was felt for an overarching regulatory authority which could tend to all aspects of short-term and long-term skill-based training. In view of this, NCVET is envisaged as an institution which will perform the regulatory functions so far vested in NCVT and NSDA. Regulatory functions currently being carried out by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) through the Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) will also be housed in the NCVET.
Ethanol Bio-refinery (GS3: Energy)
Issue: The foundation stone for Second Generation (2G) Ethanol Bio-refinery of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited being set up at Baulasingha village, Bhatli Tehsil, Bargarh ditrict, Odisha was laid by Governor of Odisha Professor Ganeshi Lal
About the project
The Bio-refinery, the first of its kind to be set up, will have a capacity to produce three crore litres of fuel grade Ethanol annually using Rice straw as the feedstock. Ethanol produced from this plant will be blended with Petrol. The cost of the project is around Rs 100 Crore.
Need for biofuels
- Biofuels have assumed importance recently due to the growing energy security needs and environmental concerns.
- India has surplus biomass availability of about 120-160 MMT annually which if converted, has the potential to yield 3000 crore litres of ethanol.
- The National Biofuel Policy of India 2018 targets 20% Ethanol blending to Petrol by year 2030.
- However, due to non-availability of Ethanol, the current Ethanol blending in Petrol is about 3 to 4%. Setting up of 2G Ethanol plants will help achieve the target of Ethanol blending in Petrol.
- The Bio-Refineries will contribute to cleaner environment due to usage of waste Rice straw for Ethanol production thereby reducing waste straw burning in fields.
- Blending of Ethanol in Petrol will reduce Green House Gas emissions as compared to fossil fuels. The plant is based on Zero-liquid discharge plant technology where all water will be recycled back into the plant. In addition to cleaner environment, the project will also help improve the socio-economic conditions of the farmers due to additional income from sale of Rice straw to the bio-refinery.
Stock market (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Benchmark equity index Sensex tumbled more than 1,000 points on Thursday morning, joining the meltdown in Asian markets after Wall Street suffered its worst decline in eight months.
Sensex and Nifty have erased all the gains made in 2018 and are currently trading around 2% lower on a year-to- date basis.
Indian stock market woes in present times
Indian markets have been seeing a sharp correction since last week due to surging crude oil prices, weakening rupee and concerns over default by IL&FS on loan payments.