Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - September 30, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Home Minister inaugurates ‘Destination North-East-2020’

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Context

  • The Home Minister Amit Shah inaugurated the “Destination North East -2020” through video conferencing.
  • Shah, who is also the Chairman of the North-East Council, said, “‘Destination North East-2020’, which runs till September 30, aims to introduce various cultures of the country to each other along with the tourist destinations of the North East and through this the whole of India will also get familiar with the vibrant and diverse culture of the North East”.

Background

  • North East, rich in natural beauty, folk culture and art, is fully capable of becoming a major centre of world tourism.
  • The four-day programme will feature audio-visual presentation of the tourist spots of the States and the region, messages from State icons and achievers, introduction to prominent local entrepreneurs and virtual exhibition of handicraft/ traditional fashion/ and local products.

Highlights

  • The development is not possible without proper funds.
  • Earlier, plans were made for the development of North-East but the amount allocated for them was very less.
  • The 14th Finance Commission increased the allocation for the North-East by 251 per cent to ₹3,13,375 crore, whereas previous government in 13th Finance Commission had earlier given only ₹89,168 crore.
  • The government has made a huge effort in the direction of linking the North Eastern States amongst themselves and connecting the region with the rest of India by rail, road and air links.
  • Destination North East is a calendar event of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region conceptualised with the objective of taking the North-East Region to other parts of the country and bringing them closer together to strengthen national integration.

Source: The Hindu.

NCDC Sanctions Rs 19444 crores In First Instalment For MSP Operations Support To Three States During Kharif Season 2020-21

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.


Context

National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), the apex financing organization of Union Agriculture Ministry has sanctioned as first instalment, funds amounting to Rs 19444 crores to the states of Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Telangana for Kharif paddy procurement under Minimum Support Price (MSP) operations.

Background

  • These amounts have been sanctioned to assist the States/ State Marketing Federations in undertaking paddy procurement operations in a timely manner through their respective cooperative organizations.
  • Chhattisgarh gets the highest amount to the tune of Rs 9000 crores. Haryana has been sanctioned Rs 5444 crores and Telangana Rs 5500 crores.

Highlights

  • This proactive step by NCDC during the COVID pandemic will give the much needed financial support to farmers of these three state who account for nearly 75% of production of paddy in the country.
  • The timely step will help the state agencies start procurement operations immediately.
  • It will provide the much needed support to farmers to sell their produce at the government notified minimum support price.

Source: Business Standard.

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Committed to raise health expenditure to 2.5% of GDP: Harsh Vardhan

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.


Context

  • Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan reiterated the the Narendra Modi government's commitment to increase the expenditure on public health to 2.5 per cent of India's gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025.
  • The Union Government is committed to increasing the public healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP from the existing 1.15 per cent to 2.5 per cent by 2025," he said in the third episode of 'Sunday Samvaad'.

Highlights

  • The committed leap in the share means an actual rise of 345 per cent from the current expenditure.
  • The 15th Finance Commission's high-level group on health has concurred that healthcare spending must be raised substantially in the next five years in view of the present pandemic.
  • Similar commitments have been made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Health Minister J.P. Nadda in recent years as well.
  • In 2017, Nadda, now the BJP President, had said that the Central government would increase the total health expenditure to 2.5 per cent of the GDP by 2025.
  • Similarly, Modi, while addressing the Partners' Forum in 2018, had said that the government is set to increase its spending on public health to 2.5 per cent of the GDP.
  • However, the share of expenditure for public health has remained stagnant at 1.15 per cent of the GDP, despite the multiple assurances, and the Modi government has faced flak for reduced and consistently low spending on healthcare for years now.
  • The Central government had added 29,185 MBBS seats in the last five years while answering a question on the disparity of setting up AIIMS in different regions while approving merely one for the entire northeast region.
  • The Centre would establish new medical colleges attached with existing district and referral hospitals in Dhubri, Nagaon, North Lakhimpur, Diphu, and Kokrajhar districts in Assam, Churachandrapur in Manipur, West Garo Hills district in Meghalaya, Falkawan district in Mizoram, and Kohima and Mon in Nagaland.

Source: Business Standard.

Health in India Report

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.


Context

  • The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementationhas released the report of a survey titled ‘Health in India’.
  • The main objective of the report is to gather basic quantitative information on India’s health sector.

Background

  • The report details aspects of the role played by government and private sector facilities, and also contains health information for separate religious communities.
  • Around 7.5 % of Indians reported that they were suffering from ailments.

Highlights

  • While in rural India only 6.8 % said that they were suffering from an ailment, this number in urban India was 9.1 %.
  • The Zoroastrian community remains the most susceptible to ailments.
  • Results from the National Sample Survey (NSS)’s 75th Round released in July show that 31.1 % of Zoroastrians reported that they were suffering from an ailment at the time the survey was conducted.
  • This number for other communities is: Jains, 11.2 %; Sikhs 11 %; Christians 10.5 %; Muslims 8.1 %; Buddhists 8 %; and Hindus 7.2 %.
  • The survey shows that women remain more susceptible to suffering from ailments than men.
  • In rural India, 6.1 % of males said that they were suffering from ailments, while 7.6 % of rural women said the same.
  • While 8.2 % of urban males said that they were sick, 10 % of urban females said the same.

About the findings

  • The survey defines ailment as any deviation from a person’s state of physical and mental well-being.
  • The ‘Proportion of Persons who Responded as Ailing’, or PPRA, in a 15-day period when they were approached by the surveyors, were registered as those suffering from ailments.
  • Government is committed to increasing public healthcare spending from the existing 1.15 per cent of the GDP to 2.5 per cent by 2025.
  • The 15th Finance Commission’s high-level group on health has concurred that healthcare spending must be raised substantially in the next five years in view of the present pandemic.
  • In union budget 2017-18, the government increased budget for the health sector by 27.7% and National Health Policy (NHP) 2017 also envisages to increase health expenditure as a percentage of GDP from the existing 1.15% to 2.5 % by 2025.
  • The 14th Finance Commission also increased devolution of finances from 32% to 42% of the divisible pool, implement and finance schemes.

Source: The Hindu.

Sandalwood Spike Disease

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Context

  • India’s sandalwood trees, the country’s pride — particularly of Karnataka — are facing a serious threat with the return of the destructive Sandalwood Spike Disease (SSD).
  • The infection has resurfaced in the aromatic tree’s natural habitats in Karnataka and Kerala.

Background

  • The natural population of sandalwood in Marayoor of Kerala and various reserve forests in Karnataka, including MM Hills, are heavily infected with SSD for which there is no cure as of now.
  • Presently, there is no option but to cut down and remove the infected tree to prevent the spread of the disease, caused by phytoplasma — bacterial parasites of plant tissues — which are transmitted by insect vectors.

Highlights

  • SSD has been one of the major causes for the decline in sandalwood production in the country for over a century.
  • The disease was first reported in Kodagu in 1899.
  • The devastating impact in natural habitats resulted in sandalwood being classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 1998.

Source: The Hindu.

Armenia, Azerbaijan clashes disturb peace in South Caucasus, brings Nagorno-Karabakh back in focus

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.


Context

  • Clashes erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan on Sunday over the volatile Nagorno-Karabakh region, reigniting concern about instability in the South Caucasus, a corridor for pipelines transporting oil and gas to world markets.
  • Both sides, which fought a war in the 1990s, reported fatalities.
  • Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region that is inside Azerbaijan but is run by ethnic Armenians, declared martial law and mobilised their male populations.

Background

  • Armenia said Azerbaijan had carried out an air and artillery attack on Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • Azerbaijan said it had responded to Armenian shelling and that it had seized control of up to seven villages, but Nagorno-Karabakh denied this.
  • The clashes prompted a flurry of diplomacy to prevent a new flare-up of a decades-old conflict between majority Christian Armenia and mainly Muslim Azerbaijan, with Russia calling for an immediate ceasefire and Pope Francis leading calls for talks.

Highlights

  • Pipelines shipping Caspian oil and natural gas from Azerbaijan to the world pass close to Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • Armenia also warned about security risks in the South Caucasus in July after Azerbaijan threatened to attack Armenia’s nuclear power plant as possible retaliation.
  • Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan in a conflict that broke out as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
  • Though a ceasefire was agreed in 1994, after thousands of people were killed and many more displaced, Azerbaijan and Armenia frequently accuse each other of attacks around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the separate Azeri-Armenian frontier.
  • Azerbaijan denied an Armenian defence ministry statement saying Azeri helicopters and tanks had been destroyed, and accused Armenian forces of launching “deliberate and targeted” attacks along the front line.
  • Turkey said Armenia must immediately cease what it said was hostility towards Azerbaijan that will “throw the region into fire”, and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter that Ankara would continue to show solidarity with Azerbaijan.

Source: Hindustan Times.

5 killed in Nagaland scrub typhus outbreak

Focus: GS2.                                

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.


Context

  • An outbreak of scrub typhus, a bacterial disease, has claimed the lives of five people in Nagaland’s Noklak district bordering Myanmar, officials said.
  • More than 600 others tested positive for the disease but recovered after treatment.

About Scrub Typhus

  • Scrub typhus, also known as bush typhus, spreads to people through bites of larval mites.
  • The symptoms include fever, headache and bodyache.
  • Scrub typhus has been the latest in a string of viral and bacterial fatalities in the Northeast.
  • Apart from the novel coronavirus, which has killed 911 people in the region, vector-borne diseases such as malaria and Japanese encephalitis have accounted for 53 lives in Assam so far.

About the Highlights

  • Animals have also fallen victim to “exotic” diseases.
  • While more than 17,000 pigs have died in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya due to the African swine fever, milk yield has suffered after the viral lumpy skin disease in cattle in Assam.
  • Pest attacks have hit farmers too.
  • Five types of beetles have damaged standing crops on large swathes across the Siang River belt in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Fall armyworms, inchworms and a strange species of grasshoppers affected paddy and maize crops in other parts of the Northeast.

Source: DD News.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements wrt net neutrality:
  • It is the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all Internet communications equally, and not discriminate or charge differently based on user, content, website, platform, application, type of equipment, source address, destination address, or method of communication.
  • The term was coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003.
  • Without net neutrality, ISPs may prioritize certain types of traffic, meter others, or potentially block traffic from specific services, while charging consumers for various tiers of service.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

     A. 1 and 2 only
     B. 2 and 3 only
     C. 1 and 3 only
     D. AOTA

Solution: D

  1. SAMVEDNA (Sensitizing Action on Mental Health Vulnerability through Emotional Development and Necessary Acceptance) is launched by:

    A. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
    B. NITI Aayog
    C. PMO
    D. ISRO

Solution: A

 

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