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Question and Answer
Q. 445. Zero Budget Natural Farming
Zero Budget Natural Farming
Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), which is a set of farming methods, and also a grassroots peasant movement, has spread to various states in India. It has attained wide success in southern India, especially the southern Indian state of Karnataka where it first evolved. ZBNF inspires a spirit of volunteerism among its peasant farmer members, who are the main protagonists of the movement. The four pillars of ZNBF:
Microbial culture: It provides nutrients, but most importantly, acts as a catalytic agent that promotes the activity of microorganisms in the soil, as well as increases earthworm activity; During the 48 hour fermentation process, the aerobic and anaerobic bacteria present in the cow dung and urine multiply as they eat up organic ingredients (like pulse flour). A handful of undisturbed soil is also added to the preparation, as inoculate of native species of microbes and organisms. It also helps to prevent fungal and bacterial plant diseases.
Treatment of seeds, seedlings or any planting material: It is effective in protecting young roots from fungus as well as from soil-borne and seedborne diseases that commonly affect plants after the monsoon period.
Mulching: Soil Mulch: This protects topsoil during cultivation and does not destroy it by tilling. It promotes aeration and water retention in the soil. Straw Mulch: Straw material usually refers to the dried biomass waste of previous crops, it can be composed of the dead material of any living being (plants, animals, etc).
Moisture: it is a necessary condition for the roots of the plants.
It is, basically, a natural farming technique that uses biological pesticides instead of chemical-based fertilizers. Farmers use earthworms, cow dung, urine, plants, human excreta and such biological fertilizers for crop protection. Intercropping and Contour Bunds are some of the techniques of ZBNF. It reduces farmers’ investment. It also protects the soil from degradation.
ZBNF works not just in agronomic terms, but also brings about a variety of social and economic benefits. ZBNF brings improvements in yield, soil conservation, seed diversity, quality of produce, household food autonomy, income, and health.
Q. 444. Khelo India Programme
Khelo India Programme
Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has launched Pledge for Khelo India at Khelo India School Games Carnival in Delhi. The pledge resonates with vision of Khelo India programme and is aimed at inspiring youngsters to build mass participation and excellence in sports.
Some of the salient features of the Programme include:
• an unprecedented Pan Indian Sports Scholarship scheme, which would cover 1,000 most talented young athletes each year across select sports disciplines.
• Each athlete selected under the scheme shall receive an annual scholarship worth Rs. 5.00 lakh for 8 consecutive years.
• This is the first time ever that a long-term athlete development pathway would be made available to gifted and talented youngsters to excel in competitive sports and will create a pool of highly competitive athletes who can compete to win at the world stage.
• The Programme aims to promote 20 universities across the country as hubs of sporting excellence, which would enable talented sports persons to pursue the dual pathway of education and competitive sports.
• The Programme also aims at creating an active population with healthy life-style.
• The Programme would cover about 200 million children in the age group of 10-18 under a massive national physical fitness drive, which will not only measure the physical fitness of all children in the age group, but also support their fitness related activities.
• The power of sport in promoting gender equity and social inclusiveness is also fully recognized and special measures are provided for to achieve these objectives.
• The programme also aims at engaging youth living in disturbed and deprived areas, in sporting activities, to wean them away from unproductive and disruptive activities and mainstream them in the nation-building process.
• The programme strives to raise the standards of competition, both at school and college level, to have maximum access to organized sports competitions.
• It also includes the use of latest user-friendly technology in all aspects of sports promotion such as, use of mobile apps for dissemination of sports training; National Sports Talent Search portal for talent identification; interactive website for indigenous sports; GIS based information system for locating and using sports infrastructure, etc.
• This programme strives to promote “Sports for All” as well as “Sports for Excellence.”
Q. 443. Measles-Rubella campaign
India, along with ten other WHO South East Asia Region member countries, have resolved to eliminate measles and control rubella/congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) by 2020. In this direction, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has initiated measles-rubella (MR) vaccination campaign in the age group of 9 months to less than 15 years in a phased manner across the nation. The campaign aims to cover approximately 41 crore children.
The Measles-Rubella campaign is a part of global efforts to reduce illness and deaths due to measles and rubella/CRS in the country. Measles immunization directly contributes to the reduction of under-five child mortality, and in combination with rubella vaccine, it will control rubella and prevent CRS.
The first phase of measles-rubella vaccination campaign has been successfully completed during February 2017 in five states, namely, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Lakshadweep and Puducherry. The campaign was carried out in schools, community centres and health facilities.
The campaign aims to rapidly build up immunity for both measles and rubella diseases in the community so as to knock out the disease, therefore, all the children should receive MR vaccine during the campaign.
In order to achieve maximum coverage during the campaign, multiple stakeholders have been involved, which includes, apart from Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, other Ministries, development partners, Lions clubs, professional bodies, for example, Indian Association of Paediatrics, Indian Medical Association, Civil Society Organizations etc.
All children from 9 months to less than 15 years of age will be given a single shot of Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccination during the campaign. Following the campaign, MR vaccine will become a part of routine immunization and will replace measles vaccine, currently given at 9-12 months and 16-24 months of age of child.
Q. 442. Jal Marg Vikas Project
Jal Marg Vikas Project
The Government is developing National Waterway-1 (NW-1) under the Jal Marg Vikas Project, with assistance from the World Bank. NW-1 refers to 1620 km Haldia-Allahabad stretch of River Ganga. The project would be completed over a period of six years at an estimated cost of Rs. 4,200 crore. Phase-I of the project covers the Haldia-Varanasi stretch.
The project includes development of fairway, multi-modal terminals, strengthening of open river navigation technique, conservancy works, modern River Information System (RIS), Digital Global Positioning System (DGPS), night navigation facilities, modern methods of channel marking, construction of a new navigational lock at Farakka etc. Multimodal Terminals with rail and road connectivity are to be constructed at Varanasi, Haldia and Sahibganj.
Q. 441. Harvest Festivals Of India
Harvest Festivals Of India 1. Makar Sankranti
Where? Pan India in different ways but mainly in the north
Celebrated all over the country, Makar Sankranti is the oldest and the most colorful harvest festival in India. As per Hindu mythology, this festival marks the end of an unfavorable phase and the beginning of a holy phase. Particularly in villages of Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Himachal, West Bengal, and Punjab, people celebrate the harvest of new crops with bonfire, carnivals, songs, dances, kite flying, and rallies.
Key attractions of Makar Sankranti festival: Kumbh Mela and various sumptuous sweet dishes made of sesame and jiggery.
Where? Punjab and Haryana
People of Punjab and Haryana celebrate Baisakhi or Vaisakhi by thanking God for the good harvest. And the farmers of the country express their happiness and delight through this Indian harvest festival. People wear their best colorful dresses, sing the happiest songs, and dance to the melodious beats of Dhol. Baisakhi fairs are also organised where acrobatics, wresting, algoza, and vanjli performances can be seen.
Key attractions of Baisakhi festival: Bhangra by menfolk and Giddha by women
3. Ladakh Harvest Festival
Where? Ladakh, Zanskar, Kargil
Ladakh Harvest Festival has gained immense popularity and fame all over the world. Ladakh looks bright, beautiful, and absolutely stunning with the commencement of this harvest festival. Monasteries and stupas are decorated and pilgrimages to Thangka of Kyabje Gombo are mandatory things as a part of this celebration. Archery along with old social & cultural ceremonies and art & handicrafts are the other features of the event.
Key attractions of Ladakh Harvest Festival: Dramas or ‘Chhams’ are performed to display life and teachings of Buddha and different dance forms of Tibetan culture
Lohri is a renowned harvest festival in Punjab that showcases traditional dance and songs. To kill the chills of winter, the entire family and neighbours gather around the bonfire and sing together and offers grains, corns, and nuts to respect and appreciate the grand harvest of sugarcane crops.
Key attractions of Lohri festival: The Punjabi folklore Sunder Mundriye sung by everyone
5. Basant Panchami
Basant Panchami marks the onset of spring season. Celebrated in different states of North India, it is considered an auspicious day. This festival is associated with yellow color, which is a color of spirituality. One can see the magnificent mustard crop fields in the countryside, especially rural areas of Haryana and Punjab.
Key attractions of Basant Panchami festival: Indian cuisine like Meethe Chawal, Maake ki Roti, and Sarso Ka Saag
6. Bhogali Bihu
Every year in January, the entire state of Assam showcases enthusiasm and delight in celebrating Bhogali Bihu. The farmers of Assam celebrate and cherish the efforts of cultivation and reap the benefits. The celebration starts one night before with Uruka—the community feast. On the day of Bihu, the mejis or pavilion made of clay and hay are burnt. Local women wear stunning mukhlas and participate in group songs and dance. Also known as Magh Bihu, this is an exotic and most vibrant name on the list of harvest festivals of India.
Key attractions of Bihu festival: Bihu dance, bullfight, bird fight and Sunga Pitha, Til Pitha and Laru
Where? Meghalaya and Assam
Wangala is the merriment of 100 drums played by Garo tribes of northeast India. This is one of the popular harvest festivals of India marking the onset of winter. During this festival, Sun God is worshiped with immense devotion and zeal. Women wear their traditional colourful clothes and dance while men rhythmically drum their fingers on the traditional drum pads.
Key attractions of the Wangala festival: Musical extravaganza with drums, flutes, and gongs
8. Ka Pomblang Nongkrem
The inhabitants of Khasi hills worship Goddess Ka Blei Synshar and celebrate the plentiful harvest with vigour and excitement. Ka Pomblang Nongkrem brings ultimate joy and happiness to the community. The celebration comprises of animal sacrifice and Nongkrem dance with sword in one hand and yak hair whisk on the other.
Key attractions of Ka Pomblang Nongkrem festival: Pemblang ceremony and Ceremony of Tangmuri
Nuakhai is an age old harvest celebration in Odisha. Locally ‘nua’ means new and ‘khai’ means food. This is not only a popular harvest festival in India, but also celebrated to appreciate the passing away of the past and evil days while welcoming the new and beautiful with open arms. The festival is also known as Nuakhai Parab or Nuakhai Bhetghat.
Key attractions of Nuakhai festival: The delicious Arsaa Pitha (sweet pancakes)
10. Gudi Padwa
Gudi Padwa is a grand festival in Maharashtra marking the beginning of an auspicious New Year. People make rangoli designs at the entrance of their homes and decorate it with flowers and a handmade doll . Folks meet friends and relatives, exchange wishes, and women cook sweets like Puran Poli, Shrikhand, and Sunth Paak.
Key attractions of Gudi Padwa festival: Local people make Gudi (bamboo doll) using mango and neem leaves and hang them at the entrance.
Where? West Bengal
This is one of the most celebrated traditions of Bengal, where new rice is harvested with sheer joy and stocked in homes. Farmers from Bengal cheerfully participate in this harvest ritual in the Bengali month of Agrahayan and offer the first grains to Goddess Lakshmi while thanking her for all blessings.
Key attractions of Nabanna festival: Payesh (Kheer) made from the newly harvested rice and Nabanna fair.
Onam is a legendary harvest festival of Kerala celebrated with great enthusiasm in different parts of Kerala. The festival is celebrated for 10 days with the arrival of Mahabali. To relish the successful harvest, Malayalee people decorate their house entrance with floral rangoli, wear new traditional clothes, women cook delicious food, and celebrate with traditional music and dance.
Key attractions of Onam festival: Traditional Malayalee recipes like Rasam, Payasam, Avial, brown rice and parippu curry are offered to guests in traditional green leaf, snake boat race and tiger dance are also exciting to watch.
Where? Tamil Nadu
Pongal is another name for Makar Sankranti, which is celebrated during the same time in various cities of Tamil Nadu. This is a thanksgiving celebration where people express their deep gratitude to mother nature for the produce of the year. This is one of the most colourful harvest festivals of India celebrated for 4 days. The first day is the Bhogi Festival devoted to Lord Indra for abundance of rain. On the second day, newly harvested rice and milk is cooked outdoor and offered to Sun God. Third day is for cattle worship and on the fourth day, Pongal or traditional coloured rice is offered with turmeric, betel leaf, and betel nuts.
Key attractions of Pongal festival: Decorated houses with Kolam, bull taming contests, bonfire with agricultural wastes and worship for the family’s prosperity
Where? Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka
Ugadi is a regional New Year celebration for people of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. This harvest festival is considered auspicious to start new work and ventures. On the day, local people take oil bath, wear traditional clothes, decorate homes with earthen lamps and rangoli, and perform Ugadi puja at home.
Key attractions of Ugadi festival: The Ugadi delicacies like Ugadi Pachadi, Pulihora and Bobbatlu are prepared with raw mango, jaggery, neem, and tamarind.
Where? Kerala and Karnataka
Grand worship of Lord Vishnu or Lord Krishna, elaborate family lunch, evening prayers, and fireworks sum up the complete picture of Vishu festival. This is an interesting harvest festival celebrated on the first day of Malayalee New Year. Women of the house prepare Vishukkani—varieties of traditional cuisine to offer to Gods—, with rice, golden lemon, golden cucumber, jackfruit, yellow konna flowers, and betel leaves.
Key attractions of Vishu festival: Kani Kanal—the first holy sight of Vishnu and the Sadya—the grand mid-day meal spread
Q. 440. National Nutrition Strategy
National Nutrition Strategy
The nutrition strategy envisages a framework wherein the four proximate determinants of nutrition – uptake of health services, food, drinking water & sanitation and income & livelihoods – work together to accelerate decline of under nutrition in India. Currently, there is also a lack of real time measurement of these determinants, which reduces the capacity for targeted action among the most vulnerable mothers and children.
Supply side challenges often overshadow the need to address behavioural change efforts to generate demand for nutrition services. This strategy, therefore, gives prominence to demand and community mobilisation as a key determinant to address India's nutritional needs.
The Nutrition Strategy framework envisages a Kuposhan Mukt Bharat - linked to Swachh Bharat and Swasth Bharat. The aim is to ensure that States create customized State/ District Action Plans to address local needs and challenges. This is especially relevant in view of enhanced resources available with the States, to prioritise focussed interventions with greater role for panchayats and urban local bodies.
The strategy enables states to make strategic choices, through decentralized planning and local innovation, with accountability for nutrition outcomes.
Q. 439. Swaminathan Report: National Commission on Farmer
Swaminathan Report: National Commission on Farmer
The National Commission on Farmers was chaired by Prof. M. S. Swaminathan. The findings and recommendations encompass issues of access to resources and social security entitlements.
Key Findings and Recommendations
Farmer's distress: Agrarian distress has led farmers to commit suicide in recent years. The major causes of the agrarian crisis are: unfinished agenda in land reform, quantity and quality of water, technology fatigue, access, adequacy and timeliness of institutional credit, and opportunities for assured and remunerative marketing. Adverse meteorological factors add to these problems. Farmers need to have assured access and control over basic resources, which include land, water, bioresources, credit and insurance, technology and knowledge management, and markets. The Committee has recommended that "Agriculture" should be inserted in the Concurrent List of the Constitution.
Land Reforms: are necessary to address the basic issue of access to land for both crops and livestock. Land holdings inequality is reflected in land ownership. In 1991-92, the share of the bottom half of the rural households in the total land ownership was only 3% and the top 10% was as high as 54%. The committee has recommended preventing diversion of prime agricultural land and forest to corporate sector for non-agricultural purposes; ensuring grazing rights and seasonal access to forests to tribals and pastoralists, and access to common property resources.
Irrigation: Out of the gross sown area of 192 million ha, rainfed agriculture contributes to 60 per cent of the gross cropped area and 45 per cent of the total agricultural output. The report recommends: a set of reforms to enable farmers to have sustained and equitable access to water; Substantial increase in investment in irrigation sector; minor irrigation and new schemes for groundwater recharge.
Productivity of Agriculture: the per unit area productivity of Indian agriculture is much lower than other major crop producing countries. The NCF recommends: Substantial increase in public investment in agriculture related infrastructure particularly in irrigation, drainage, land development, water conservation, research development and road connectivity etc.; A national network of advanced soil testing laboratories with facilities for detection of micronutrient deficiencies; Promotion of conservation farming, which will help farm families to conserve and improve soil health, water quantity and quality and biodiversity.
Credit and Insurance: timely and adequate supply of credit is a basic requirement of small farm families. The NCF has suggested: Expanding the outreach of the formal credit system to reach the really poor and needy; Reducing rate of interest for crop loans to 4 percent; Moratorium on debt recovery, including loans from non-institutional sources, and waiver of interest on loans in distress hotspots and during calamities, till capability is restored; Establishing an Agriculture Risk Fund to provide relief to farmers in the aftermath of successive natural calamities; Issuing Kisan Credit Cards to women farmers, with joint pattas as collateral; Expanding crop insurance cover to cover the entire country and all crops, with reduced premiums and create a Rural Insurance Development Fund to take up development work for spreading rural insurance.
Food Security: the report recommends implementing a universal public distribution system. The NCF pointed out that the total subsidy required for this would be one per cent of the Gross Domestic Product; eliminating micronutrient deficiency induced hidden hunger through an integrated food cum fortification approach; promoting the establishment of Community Food and Water Banks operated by Women Self-help Groups (SHG), based on the principle ‘Store Grain and Water everywhere'; formulating a National Food Guarantee Act continuing the useful features of the Food for Work and Employment Guarantee programmes.
Farmer's Suicides: Cases of suicides have been reported from states such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh. Some of measures suggested include: Providing affordable health insurance and revitalizing primary healthcare centres; Setting up State level Farmers' Commission with representation of farmers for ensuring dynamic government response to farmers' problems; Restructuring microfinance policies to serve as Livelihood Finance, i.e. credit coupled with support services in the areas of technology, management and markets; Covering all crops by crop insurance with the village and not block as the unit for assessment;
Bioresources: Rural people in India depend on a wide range of bioresources for their nutrition and livelihood security. The report recommends: Preserving traditional rights of access to biodiversity, which include access to non-timber forest products including medicinal plants, gums and resins, oil yielding plants and beneficial micro-organisms; Conserving, enhancing and improving crops and farm animals as well as fish stocks through breeding;
Q. 438. Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology
Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology
NASA has invented a new type of autonomous space navigation that could see human-made spacecraft heading into the far reaches of the Solar System, and even farther - by using pulsars as guide stars. It's called Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology, or SEXTANT (named after an 18th century nautical navigation instrument), and it uses X-ray technology to see millisecond pulsars, using them much like a GPS uses satellites.
Pulsars are highly magnetised, rapidly rotating neutron stars - the result of a massive star's core collapsing and subsequently exploding. As they spin, they emit electromagnetic radiation. From the right angle they can appear as sweeping beams, like a cosmic lighthouse. They're also extraordinarily regular - in the case of some millisecond pulsars, which can spin hundreds of times a second, their regularity can rival that of atomic clocks.
This is what led to the idea behind SEXTANT. Because these pulsars are so regular, and because they're fixed in position in the cosmos, they can be used in the same way that a global positioning system uses atomic clocks.
SEXTANT works like a GPS receiver getting signals from at least three GPS satellites, all of which are equipped with atomic clocks. The receiver measures the time delay from each satellite and converts this into spatial coordinates. The electromagnetic radiation beaming from pulsars is most visible in the X-ray spectrum, which is why X-ray detection has been employed in SEXTANT.
It could take a few years for the technology to be developed into a navigation system suitable for deep-space vessels, but the concept has been proven. Eventually, SEXTANT could be used to calculate the location of planetary satellites far from the range of Earth's GPS satellites, and assist on human spaceflight missions, such as the space agency's planned Mars mission.
Q. 437. Accessible India Campaign
Accessible India Campaign
Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) has launched Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) as a nation-wide Campaign for achieving universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). It has the following three important components :
Part A: Built Environment Accessibility
An accessible physical environment benefits everyone, not just persons with disabilities. Measures should be undertaken to eliminate obstacles and barriers to indoor and outdoor facilities including schools, medical facilities, and workplaces. These would include not only buildings, but also footpaths, curb cuts, and obstacles that block the flow of pedestrian traffic.
Part B: Transportation System Accessibility
Transportation is a vital component for independent living, and like others in society, PwDs rely on transportation facilities to move from one place to another. The term transportation covers a number of areas including air travel, buses, taxis, and trains.
Part C: Information and Communication Eco-System Accessibility
Access to information creates opportunities for everyone in society. Access to information refers to all information. People use information in many forms to make decisions about their daily lives. This can range from actions such as being able to read price tags, to physically enter a hall, to participate in an event, to read a pamphlet with healthcare information, to understand a train timetable, or to view webpages. No longer should societal barriers of infrastructure, and inaccessible formats stand in the way of obtaining and utilizing information in daily life.
Q. 436. India Hypertension Management Initiative (IHMI)
India Hypertension Management Initiative (IHMI)
The IHMI aims to reduce disability and death related to cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading cause of death in India, by improving the control of high blood pressure (hypertension), reducing salt consumption and eliminating artificial trans-fats, leading risk factors for CVD.
The initiative is an attempt to raise awareness about NCDs amongst families regarding packaged food and processed foods with excessive salt and trans-fat. The risk factors have to be managed at a very young age and we need to look into behavioral issues related to food intake, especially salt.
The India Hypertension Management Initiative (IHMI) is a collaborative project of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), State Governments, World Health Organization (WHO), and Resolve to Save Lives initiative of Vital Strategies.
The IHMI is focused on five essential components of scalable treatment of hypertension:
It will support the adoption of standardized simplified treatment plans for managing high blood pressure,
ensure the regular and uninterrupted supply of quality-assured medications,
task sharing so health workers who are accessible to patients can distribute medications already prescribed by the medical officer, and
patient-centered services that reduce the barriers to treatment adherence.
Data on hypertension will be improved through streamlined monitoring systems, and the lessons learned and practice-based evidence will inform further interventions to improve cardiovascular care.
Around 200 million adults in India have high blood pressure, yet control rates for the condition remain low. In rural areas in India, only one quarter of people with hypertension are aware of their condition, and only around 10 percent have their blood pressure controlled. In urban areas, around 40 percent of people with hypertension are aware of their condition, and only around 20 percent have their blood pressure controlled.
Q. 435. Border Protection Grid
Border Protection Grid
The concept of Border Protection Grid (BPG) for multi-pronged and foolproof mechanism is to secure our border. The grid will comprise of various elements namely physical barriers, non-physical barriers, surveillance system, Intelligence agencies, State Police, BSF and other State and Central agencies. BPG will be supervised by a State level Standing Committee under the Chairmanship of respective Chief Secretaries. BPG will ensure greater help for the States in the overall border security.
The areas to be covered by non-physical barriers are those where fencing is not feasible like rivers or nullahs etc. In these areas technological solutions of a networked combination of electronic gadgets like radar, day-night cameras, various types of sensors etc. all integrated in a command and control architecture will be used.
The Indo-Bangladesh Border covering 5 states of India including Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and West Bengal is 4096 km long. So far in 3006 km border security infrastructure of fence, roads, floodlights and border out posts (BOPs) are in place and works in the remaining 1090 km are yet to be started. Out of this, 684 km will be secured with fence and the related infrastructure, and the balance 406 km with the non-physical barriers. Although bulk of the infrastructure is in place or under construction, construction in some parts is yet to commence mainly due to land acquisition issues.
Q. 434. MSME Sambandh
A Public Procurement Portal ‘MSME Sambandh’ was launched recently by the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises. The objective of the portal is to monitor the implementation of the Public Procurement from MSEs by Central Public Sector Enterprises.
The Procurement Policy launched in 2012 mandates the Central Government Departments / CPSUs to procure necessarily from MSEs i.e. every Central Ministry / Department / PSU shall set an annual goal for procurement from the MSE sector at the beginning of the year, with the objective of achieving an overall procurement goal of minimum of 20 per cent of the total annual purchases of the products or services produced or rendered by MSEs. By creating an online portal, the Ministries and the CPSEs can assess their performance.
Q. 433. Trachoma
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has released the National Trachoma Survey Report (2014-17). According to the report, India is now free from ‘infective trachoma’. Active trachoma infection has been eliminated among children in all the survey districts with overall prevalence of only 0.7%. This is much below the elimination criteria of infective trachoma as defined by the WHO.
Trachoma is a chronic infective disease of the eye and is the leading cause of infective blindness globally. Trachoma is a disease of poor environmental and personal hygiene and inadequate access to water and sanitation. It affects the conjunctiva under the eyelids. Repeated infections cause scarring leading to in-turning ofthe eyelashes and eyelids. This further causes damage to the cornea and blindness. It is found affecting the population in certain pockets of the States of North India like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Nicobar Islands. Trachoma infection of the eyes was the most important cause of blindness in India in 1950s and over 50% population was affected in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh. It was the most important cause of corneal blindness in India, affecting young children.
The National Trachoma Prevalence Surveys and the Trachoma Rapid Assessment Surveys were conducted by Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi in collaboration with National Program for Control of Blindness & Visual Impairment, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare from 2014 to 2017. This was conducted in 27 high-risk districts across 23 states and union territories.
Q. 432. INDICES
The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is a method of quantifying and numerically marking the environmental performance of a state's policies. This index was developed from the Pilot Environmental Performance Index, first published in 2002, and designed to supplement the environmental targets set forth in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. The EPI was preceded by the Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI), published between 1999 and 2005. Both indexes were developed by Yale University (Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy) and Columbia University (Center for International Earth Science Information Network) in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.
Global Environment Outlook (GEO) is a series of reports on the environment issued periodically by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). The GEO project was initiated in response to the environmental reporting requirements of UN Agenda 21 and to a UNEP Governing Council decision of May 1995 which requested the production of a new comprehensive global state of the environment report.
Since 2010, United Nations Environment (UNEP) has produced annual Emissions Gap Reports based on requests by countries for an independent scientific assessment of how actions and pledges by countries affect the global greenhouse gas emissions trend, and how this compares to emissions trajectories consistent with the long-term goal of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
State of the World's Forests (SOFO) is presented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. While agriculture remains the most significant driver of global deforestation, there is an urgent need to promote more positive interactions between agriculture and forestry to build sustainable agricultural systems and improve food security. This is the key message of the FAO's flagship publication The State of the World's Forests (SOFO).
More than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed the World Health Organization (WHO) limits. While all regions of the world are affected, populations in low-income cities are the most impacted. According to the latest urban air quality database, 98% of cities in low- and middle income countries with more than 100 000 inhabitants do not meet WHO air quality guidelines. However, in high-income countries, that percentage decreases to 56%. In the past two years, the database – now covering 3000 cities in 103 countries – has nearly doubled, with more cities measuring air pollution levels and recognizing the associated health impacts. As urban air quality declines, the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma, increases for the people who live in them.
World Wildlife Fund, in collaboration with energy consultants at Ecofys, prepare The Energy Report which explores how to power the world entirely by renewable energy by the middle of this century. The Living Planet Report is published every two years by the World Wide Fund for Nature since 1998. It is based on the Living Planet Index and ecological footprint calculations. The Living Planet Report is the world's leading, science-based analysis on the health of our only planet and the impact of human activity.
Q. 431. Integrated Disease Surveillance Project
Integrated Disease Surveillance Project
According to a recent data of Health Ministry Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) has indicated that food poisoning is one of the commonest outbreaks reported in 2017. This is apart from acute diarrhoeal disease (ADD).
According to the recent data, 312 of the 1,649 outbreaks in 2017 were due to ADD and 242 were due to food poisoning. The IDSP has interpreted that the incidence of ADD and food poisoning is high in places where food is cooked in bulk, such as canteens, hostels and wedding venues.
Food poisoning, also called food-borne illness, is caused by eating contaminated food. Infectious organisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites or their toxins are the most common causes.
Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) was launched in 2004 for a period upto 2010. The project was restructured and extended 2012. The project continues in the 12th Plan with domestic budget as Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme under National Health Mission for all States.
Objectives Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP): To strengthen/maintain decentralized laboratory based IT enabled disease surveillance system for epidemic prone diseases to monitor disease trends and to detect and respond to outbreaks in early rising phase through trained Rapid Response Team (RRTs) Programme Components:
i.Integration and decentralization of surveillance activities through establishment of surveillance units at Centre, State and District level.
ii.Human Resource Development – Training of State Surveillance Officers, District Surveillance Officers, Rapid Response Team and other Medical and Paramedical staff on principles of disease surveillance.
iii.Use of Information Communication Technology for collection, collation, compilation, analysis and dissemination of data.
iv.Strengthening of public health laboratories.
v.Inter sectoral Co-ordination for zoonotic diseases
Q. 430. Wassenaar Arrangement
Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) has decided to admit India as its new member. The inclusion which is expected to raise New Delhi’s stature in the field of non-proliferation besides helping it acquire critical technologies.
The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, commonly known as the Wassenaar Arrangement, is a multilateral export control regime (MECR) with 42 participating states including many former Comecon (Warsaw Pact) countries.
Wassenaar is a municipality and town located in the province of South Holland, on the western coast of the Netherlands.
The list of restricted technologies is broken into two parts, the "List of Dual-Use Goods and Technologies" (also known as the Basic List) and the "Munitions List". In order for an item to be placed on the lists, Member States must take into account the following criteria:
Foreign availability outside Participating States
Ability to effectively control the export of the goods
Ability to make a clear and objective specification of the item.
Controlled by another regime, such as the Australia Group, Nuclear Suppliers Group, or Missile Technology Control Regime
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