Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Nidhi
Why in News?
- The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, has approved the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Nidhi (PMSSN) as a single non-lapsable reserve fund for share of Health from the proceeds of Health and Education Cess levied under Section 136-b of Finance Act, 2007.
Salient features of the PMSSN
- A non-lapsable reserve fund for Health in the Public Account;
- Proceeds of share of health in the Health and Education Cess will be credited into PMSSN;
- Accruals into the PMSSN will be utilized for the flagship schemes of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare namely,
- Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY)
- Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs)
- National Health Mission
- Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY)
- Emergency & disaster preparedness and responses during health emergencies
- Any future programme/scheme that targets to achieve progress towards SDGs and the targets set out in the National Health Policy (NHP) 2017.
- Administration and maintenance of the PMSSN is entrusted to Ministry of Health & Family Welfare; and
- In any financial year, the expenditure on such schemes of the MoHFW would be initially incurred from the PMSSN and thereafter, from Gross Budgetary Support (GBS).
- The major benefit will be: enhanced access to universal & affordable health care through availability of earmarked resources, while ensuring that the amount does not lapse at the end of financial year.
King Bhumibol World Soil Day – 2020 Award
Why in News?
- Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) receives King Bhumibol World Soil Day – 2020 Award by FAO.
- The international recognition was announced by the FAO, Rome on the eve of World Soil Day – 2020 in view of the ICAR’s excellent contributions in “Soil Health Awareness” on the theme “Stop soil erosion, save our future” during the last year.
- ICAR organized a massive awareness campaign for preserving “SOIL – Our Mother Earth” to commemorate the World Soil Day including March-Past and distribution of promotional materials on soil health to the participants.
Why in News?
- Indo-Uzbekistan Field Training Exercise ‘DUSTLIK ‘ commences in Ranikhet(Uttarakhand).
- This is the Second Edition of annual bilateral joint exercise of both armies.
- The first edition of the exercise was held at Uzbekistan in Nov 2019.
- Both contingents will be sharing their expertise and skills in the field of counter terrorist operations in mountainous/rural/urban scenario under UN mandate.
- This joint exercise will definitely provide impetus to the ever growing military and diplomatic ties between the two nations and also reflects the strong resolve of both nations to counter terrorism.
Why in News?
- Indian Navy’s third stealth Scorpene class Submarine INS Karanj has been commissioned at the Naval Dockyard Mumbai.
- Six Scorpene Class submarines are being built in India by the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) Mumbai, under collaboration with M/s Naval Group, France.
- INS Karanj would form part of the Western Naval Command’s Submarine fleet and would be another potent part of the Command’s arsenal.
- This year is being celebrated as the ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’ which marks 50 years of 1971 Indo – Pak war.
- The Scorpene Submarines are one of the most advanced conventional submarines in the world.
- These platforms are equipped with the latest technologies in the world.
- More deadly and stealthier than their predecessors, these submarines are equipped with potent weapons and sensors to neutralise any threat above or below the sea surface.
- Project – 75 also marks a critical milestone in the Yard’s continued importance in the field of Defence Production.
Why in News?
- The Government decided to conduct Census 2021 under the Census Act, 1948 in two phases, viz.,
- Houselisting & Housing Census during April-September, 2020 and
- Population Enumeration during 9th to 28th February, 2021.
- It was also decided to update the National Population Register (NPR) under the Citizenship Act, 1955 along with the first phase of Census.
- Due to outbreak of Covid-19, the first phase of Census, updation of NPR and other related field activities have been postponed.
- Mobile Applications for collection of data and a Portal for management and monitoring of various Census related activities have been developed.
- Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 was conducted by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) and the then Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) in rural and urban areas respectively.
- The SECC 2011 data excluding the caste data have been finalized and published by MoRD and HUPA.
- The Office of the Registrar General, India had provided logistics and technical support in conducting the SECC-2011.
- The raw caste data has been provided to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE) for classification and categorization of the data.
- There is no proposal to release the caste data at this stage.
Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) Day
Why in News?
- DIPSI (Diabetes in Pregnancy Study Group in India) has declared March 10 as GDM Day.
- This is for the first time ever that any country is declaring the GDM Day in the world.
Transitory form of diabetes
- What is less well known is that pregnancy is a diabetogenic stress and as a consequence, some women develop a transitory form of diabetes during pregnancy called gestational diabetes.
- Women of Indian (South Asian) origin are considered to be at highest risk of gestational diabetes. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that up to 25% of pregnancies in South Asia may be affected by hyperglycemia in pregnancy. In India it varies from about 10% in rural areas to about 30% in urban areas.
- Gestational diabetes is associated with significantly increased risk of complications during pregnancy such as preeclampsia (fits during pregnancy), prolonged and obstructed labour, need for assisted delivery, postpartum haemorrhage and sepsis, stillbirths, premature delivery, increased risk of neonatal deaths due to respiratory distress, neonatal hypoglycaemia and birth injuries. All these conditions contribute to high maternal and new born morbidity and mortality.
- Almost half the women with gestational diabetes go on to develop Type 2 diabetes within 10 years without preventive care.
- Children born to women with gestational diabetes are also at very high risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
3000 HP Cape Gauge Locomotive
Why in News?
- The Union Minister of Railways, Commerce & Industry and Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, flagged off 3000 HP Cape Gauge Locomotive indigenously developed by Banaras Locomotive Works, Varanasi.
- The export of locomotives to Mozambique shall boost the Indo-African relationship and pilot the economic empowerment through export.
- Indian Railways is exporting first batch of 2 locomotives as part of total order of 6 locomotives of 3000 HP cape gauge locomotive and 90 stainless steel passenger coaches to Mozambique.
- They are being exported through Indian Railways’ PSU, Rites Limited.
- Catnip (Nepeta cataria), a garden herb known for its hallucinogenic effects on domestic cats, is also used to ward off insects, especially mosquitoes.
- A new study has now decoded how the plant does this.
- The researchers found that Catnip and its active ingredient Nepetalactone activates an irritant receptor called TRPA1.
Frogs and noise-cancellation
- To find a suitable partner, male frogs sit in one place and call loudly.
- But how does the female hear and select the male of her species among all the other background noise and overlapping calls of other frog species?
- Their lungs act as noise-canceling headphones says a new study.
- The lungs when inflated were found to reduce their eardrum’s sensitivity to noise in a particular frequency range, making it easier to hear their mate’s calls.
- Meet Gliese 486 b, a new exoplanet found orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 486.
- The exoplanet is 2.81 Earth masses, 1.31 Earth radii and is a Super-Earth (exoplanet larger than Earth and smaller than Neptune).
- “The gravity is also 70% stronger than on Earth, making it harder to walk and jump.
- Someone who weighed 50 kg on Earth would feel like they weighed 85 kg on Gliese 486b.
Oil spill cleaner
- A new resin membrane could soon help clean up beaches contaminated with oil spills.
- Named SAVER (superamphiphilic vitrimer epoxy resin) membranes, they can separate oil and water efficiently.
- It is similar to classical epoxy resins and “the blocked membrane can be easily recovered when contaminated…recycled, and re‐”
Why in News?
- According to a report by cybersecurity firm, Quick Heal, a new ransomware Sarbloh is being distributed via malicious Word documents that contain political message supporting farmer community.
- The downloaded ransomware encrypts the files on the system with extension .sarbloh and shows the ransom note. In this case, the attack does not ask for money, but demands justice for farmers.
- The attack led by Khalsa Cyber Fauj uses military-grade encryption on system files to make them useless.
- Ransomware is malicious software that infects your computer and displays messages demanding a fee to be paid in order for your system to work again.
- This class of malware is a criminal money making scheme that can be installed through deceptive links in an email message, instant message or website.
- It has the ability to lock a computer screen or encrypt important, predetermined files with a password.
Why in News?
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off the Dandi March or Salt March on March 12 in Ahmedabad to celebrate the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence.
- The Salt March, which took place from March to April 1930, was an act of civil disobedience led by Mahatma Gandhi to protest the British rule in the country.
- Mahatma Gandhi and 78 others from his Sabarmati Ashram had embarked on the Dandi Yatra on March 12, 1930 to break the law which had imposed tax on salt. After walking for 21 days, they reached Dandi on April 5 and broke the law.
- The event to be kicked off from Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram will be part of the State government’s programme to mark “Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav.”
India’s Biggest Floating Solar Plant
Why In News?
- The country’s biggest floating solar power plant, by generation capacity, till date being developed by NTPC in the reservoir of its thermal plant at Ramagundam in Peddapalli district of Telangana is set to be commissioned by May-June next.
- It would be one of the renewable (solar) energy plants being developed by NTPC with an installed capacity of 447MW in the Southern Region and the entire capacity would be commissioned by March 2023.
- The renewable energy plants that are likely to be commissioned in the next three months are 25MW floating solar plant at Simhadri thermal power plant near Visakhapatnam and 92MW floating solar plant at Kayamkulam in Kerala, besides the 100MW plant at Ramagundam.
- Floating solar plants is an opportunity to generate power with low cost as land acquisition of at least five acres per megawatt of capacity involves huge fixed cost.
Turkish Lake May Hold Clues To Ancient Life On Planet
Why in News?
- As NASA’s rover Perseverance explores the surface of Mars, scientists hunting for signs of ancient life on the distant planet are using data gathered on a mission much closer to home at a lake in southwest Turkey.
- The minerals and rock deposits at Salda are the nearest match on earth to those around the Jezero Crater where the spacecraft landed and which is believed to have once been flooded with water.
- Information gathered from Lake Salda may help the scientists as they search for fossilised traces of microbial life preserved in sediment thought to have been deposited around the delta and the long-vanished lake it once fed.
- The sediments around the lake eroded from large mounds that are formed with the help of microbes and are known as microbialites.
- The team behind the Perseverance rover, the most advanced astrobiology lab ever flown to another world, wants to find out whether there are microbialites in Jezero Crater.
- Also compare the beach sediments from Salda with carbonate minerals — formed from carbon dioxide and water, a key ingredient for life — detected on the margins of Jezero Crater.
China and Russia to launch lunar space station
- Russia and China unveiled plans for a joint lunar space station, as Moscow seeks to recapture the glory of its space pioneering days of Soviet times, and Beijing gears up its own extraterrestrial ambitions.
- The Russian space agency Roscomos had signed an agreement with China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) to develop a “complex of experimental research facilities created on the surface and/or in the orbit of the Moon”.
- This year, it celebrates the 60th anniversary of Russia’s first-ever manned space flight — it sent Yuri Gagarin into space in April 1961, followed by the first woman, Valentina Tereshkova, two years later.
- The United States NASA space agency launched its first manned space flight a month after Russia, in May 1961, sending Alan Shepard up aboard Mercury-Redstone 3.
- But Moscow has lagged behind both Washington and Beijing in the exploration of the Moon and Mars in recent years.
Early nuclear tests in French Polynesia
- Starting in 1966, France secretly started carrying out nuclear tests in French Polynesia, a group of islands and atolls in in the South Pacific, and over the next 30 years, conducted 193 tests.
- The impact of these tests on the inhabitants was grossly underestimated by the French government, said a new investigative report.
- Around 110,000 people were contaminated by the radiation, almost the entire population of the Polynesia.
- While the tests were confined to two atolls, Moruroa and Fangataufa, dense atomic clouds were carried to surrounding inhabited land and settled there, causing widespread contamination.
- The report focused on three major tests: The first operation ‘Alderaban’ in July 1966, the Encelade test done in June 1971 and the Centaure (the first underground test) detonated in November 1974.
- The contamination is assumed to have caused a spate of cancer cases in French Polynesia. In Rikitea, Taku and Taravai shorelines on the Gambier islands, for example, the radiation caused a cluster of thyroid cancer cases.
Summers may last 6 months, winters only 2
- Summers may last up to half-a-year while winters may get only two months of the year by the end of this century in the Northern Hemisphere. This is a possibility if humans continue to emit greenhouse gases (GHG) at the current rate, according to a recent study.
- Spring and autumn seasons will also become shorter.
- An extended summer season would mean large-scale changes in agricultural seasons and processes; behavioural changes in plants and animals; increase in heat waves, storms and wild fires.
- Farmers in the mountain states of India witnessed flowering in Rhododendron trees as early as January 2021, which is indicative of an early start to the summer season.
- The usual flowering time for rhododendrons — evergreen trees that grow at a height of 1,500-3,600 metres above mean sea level — is March / April. The average temperatures required for the process is 15-20 degrees Celsius.
- Another indication of changing seasons, especially the increase in intensity of summers, is being witnessed in the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh where mango trees have started bearing fruits in the last five-six years.
- Between 1952 and 2011, summer duration increased to 95 from 78 days. In winters, it decreased to 73 from 76 days. Spring duration decreased to 115 from 124 days; autumn to 82 from 87 days.
- The Mediterranean region and the Tibetan Plateau experienced the greatest changes to their seasonal cycles.
- Birds, for example, are shifting their migration patterns and plants emerging and flowering at unusual time of the year. These phenological changes can create a mismatch between animals and their food sources, disrupting ecological communities.
Odisha has most contaminated sites in India
- Odisha topped the list of states and Union territories with the maximum number of contaminated sites, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data.
- Of the 112 sites in India contaminated by toxic and hazardous substances, 23 were in Odisha followed by Uttar Pradesh (21) and Delhi (11).
- ‘Contaminated sites’ are delineated areas in which “constituents and characteristics of the toxic and hazardous substances, caused by humans, exist at levels and in conditions which pose existing or imminent threats to human health and the environment”.
- Most contaminated sites were created when industrial hazardous wastes were disposed of by occupiers in unscientific manner or in violation of the rules prescribed.
- Dumping or spillage of hazardous wastes or chemicals would adversely impact / affect the surrounding environment, particularly soil, surface water and groundwater and subsequently the people in impact zones.
- CPCB had in 2017 identified Paradip port as one of the most polluted areas of the state.
- The coal dust generated at Paradip port was not just confined to the port and its nearby areas. Fanned by the winds, the dust spreads to distant areas causing respiratory, skin, kidney diseases and cancer in the populace. The chemical wastes released by plants pollute the air, water and soil.
- Cases of asthma and respiratory infections have been on the rise in the port town.
Every Third Woman Faces Violence by Men
- One in three women across the world, or around 736 million women, faced physical or sexual violence from their intimate partners or non-partners, according to a report released the World Health Organization.
- Younger women and those in low- or lower-income countries were most at risk, said the report titled Violence against Women Prevalence Estimates, 2018.
- WHO conducted the study on behalf of United Nations agencies and gathered data from 2000 to 2018. The new statistics replaced estimates on violence against women brought out in 2013.
- One in four young women in the 15-24 years age group, who were in a relationship, experienced violence from their partners.
- Among those who have been in a relationship, the highest rates (16 per cent) of intimate partner violence in the past 12 months occurred among young women aged between 15 and 24.
- Apart from grievous injuries, these violent episodes can lead to depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders.
- Around 37 per cent women in the least-developed countries reported being physically or sexually abused by an intimate partner. The highest prevalence was found in Oceania, South Asia (includes India) and sub-Saharan Africa.
- Europe reported the lowest range (16–23 per cent) of intimate partner violence, followed by central Asia (18 per cent), eastern Asia (20 per cent) and south-eastern Asia (21 per cent).
The report suggests the following methods countries could adopt to tackle violence against women:
- Sound gender transformative policies, from policies around childcare to equal pay, and laws that support gender equality,
- A strengthened health system response that ensures access to survivor-centred care and referral to other services as needed.
- School and educational interventions to challenge discriminatory attitudes and beliefs, including comprehensive sexuality education,
- Targeted investment in sustainable and effective evidence-based prevention strategies at local, national, regional and global levels, and
- Strengthening data collection and investing in high quality surveys on violence against women and improving measurement of the different forms of violence experienced by women, including those who are most marginalised.