9 PM Current Affairs Brief – October 31st, 2019

National Health Profile(NHP)

News:Union Health Minister has released the 14th National Health Profile (NHP),2019.

Facts:

About the National Health Profile:

  • The National Health Profile(NHP) has been prepared by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI).
  • The National Health Profile was first published in 2005.Ever since the profile has been released every year.
  • The profile provides information on demographic, socio-economic health status, health finance indicators, health infrastructure and health of human resources in the country.

Key takeaways from the Health Profile:

  • The life expectancy in India has increased from 49.7 years in 1970-75 to 68.7 years in 2012-16.For the same period,the life expectancy for females is 70.2 years and 67.4 years for males.
  • The Total Fertility Rate(TFR) for the country was 2.3 whereas in rural areas it has been 2.5 and 1.8 in urban areas during 2016.
  • The infant mortality rate has also declined considerably at 33 per 1,000 live births in 2016.However,difference between rural (37) & urban (23) are still high.
  • The highest population density of 11,320 people per square kilometre was reported by Delhi whereas Arunachal Pradesh has reported the lowest population density of 17.
  • India spends only 1.28% of its gross domestic product (according to 2017-18 budget estimates) as public expenditure on health.
  • Air pollution-linked acute respiratory infections contributed 68.47 per cent to the morbidity burden in the country and also to highest mortality rate after pneumonia.

Additional information:

About CBHI:

  • Central Bureau of Health Intelligence(CBHI) was established in 1961 by the Act of Parliament on the recommendation of Mudaliar committee.
  • It is the Health Intelligence Wing under Directorate General of Health Services,Ministry of Health & Family Welfare(MoHFW).

Infant mortality rate:

  • Infant mortality rate(IMR) is the number of deaths per 1,000 live births of children under one year of age.

Total fertility rate:

  • Total fertility rate(TFR) is defined as the number of children born to a woman until the end of her child-bearing age.

Lymphatic Filariasis

News:Union minister for Health and Family Welfare has organized National Symposium on United to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis.

Facts:

About Lymphatic Filariasis:

  • Lymphatic filariasis is commonly known as elephantiasis.It is a neglected tropical disease.
  • There are three different filarial species that can cause lymphatic filariasis in humans.
  • Most of infections worldwide are caused by Wuchereria bancrofti.In Asia, the disease can also be caused by Brugia malayi and Brugia timori.
  • The infection spreads from person to person by mosquito bites.The infection is usually acquired in childhood causing hidden damage to the lymphatic system.
  • The disease does not kill the affected people but may cause permanent disfigurement, reduced productivity and social stigma.
  • The disease affects the poorest population in society, particularly those living in areas with poor water, sanitation and hygiene.

Measures taken by India:

  • Indian Government has announced the use of Triple Drug therapy in a phased manner.
  • Triple drug therapy was recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).It involves a combination of ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine citrate and albendazole.
  • India adopted the twin pillar strategy after WHO launched the Global Program to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis(GPELF)
  • Indian Government has also launched the Accelerate Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis(APELF) in 2018.

National Investment and Infrastructure Fund(NIIF)

News:Union Finance minister has chaired the governing council meeting of National Investment and Infrastructure Fund(NIIF).

Facts:

About NIIF:

  • NIIF is India’s first sovereign wealth fund set up by the government of India in 2015.It is a fund manager that invests in infrastructure and related sectors in India.
  • It was created with the objective to maximise economic impact especially by infrastructure investment in commercially viable projects.
  • The Indian government has a 49% stake in NIIF with the rest held by foreign and domestic investors.
  • NIIF currently manages three funds each with its distinctive investment mandate. The funds are registered as Alternative Investment Fund (AIF) with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

About the three funds:

  • Master Fund:The Master Fund is an infrastructure fund with the objective of primarily investing in operating assets in the core infrastructure sectors such as roads, ports, airports, power etc.
  • Funds of Funds:Fund of Funds anchor and/or invest in funds managed by fund managers who have good track records in infrastructure and associated sectors in India.Some of the sectors of focus include Green Infrastructure, Mid-Income & Affordable Housing, Infrastructure services and allied sectors.
  • Strategic Investment Fund:Strategic Investment Fund is registered as an Alternative Investment Fund II under SEBI in India.

Air-independent propulsion(AIP) system

News: Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) programme to build a fuel cell-based Air Independent Propulsion(AIP) system for Indian Naval Submarines has crossed several milestones in technology maturity.

Facts:

About Air Independent Propulsion(AIP) system:

  • Air-independent propulsion(AIP) is any marine propulsion technology that allows a non-nuclear submarine to operate without access to atmospheric oxygen(by surfacing).
  • AIP can augment or replace the diesel-electric propulsion system of non-nuclear vessels.
  • It enables conventional submarines to remain submerged for a longer duration.

Significance of AIP:

  • AIP significantly improves the stealth of a submarine as it allows a submarine to generate electricity for services and battery charging and propulsion while completely submerged.
  • AIP enables conventional submarines to remain submerged for two to three weeks at a time.This significantly reduces the risk of detection.
  • AIP systems also permits diesel-electric submarines to recharge their batteries independent of their engines.
  • It also helps to reduce the noise without compromising the submarine performance.

Additional information:

About Submarine:

  • A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation underwater.A submarine is the quietest military platform and extremely tough to detect.
  • Their main cover is their ability to move stealthily under water and keep an eye on enemy movement of vessels.

Nirvik Scheme

News:The Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India(ECGC) has said that the Nirvik scheme announced by the Union Government would give a fillip to export lending and insurance cover for export credit.

Facts:

About the scheme:

  • The scheme aims to ease the lending process and enhance loan availability for exporters.
  • Under the scheme,the insurance cover guaranteed will cover up to 90% of the principal and interest.The insurance cover will include both pre and post-shipment credit.
  • The enhanced cover will ensure that Foreign and Rupee export credit interest rates will be below 4% and 8% respectively for exporters.
  • The gems, jewellery and diamond(GJD) sector borrowers with a limit of over Rs 80 crore will have a higher premium rate in comparison to the non-GJD sector borrowers of this category due to the higher loss ratio.
  • The scheme also mandates inspection of bank documents and records by ECGC officials for losses exceeding Rs.10 crore as against the present Rs 1 crore.

Significance of the scheme:

  • This scheme will help make Indian exports competitive and make ECGC procedures exporter friendly, benefiting MSME exporters.
  • The insurance cover is also expected to bring down the cost of credit due to capital relief, less provision requirement and liquidity due to quick settlement of claims.

Additional information:

Export Credit Guarantee Corporation(ECGC):

  • ECGC is a premier export credit agency of the Government of India to provide Export Credit Insurance Services to facilitate exports from the country.It was founded in 1957.It is headquartered at Mumbai.
  • The ECGC offers credit insurance schemes to exporters to protect them against losses due to non-payment of export dues by overseas buyers due to political or commercial risks.

Assamese Bhaona

News:Recently, the Assamese Bhaona performers had made a foreign debut in Abu Dhabi.

Facts:

About Bhaona:

  • Bhaona is a traditional form of entertainment with religious messages, prevalent is Assam. 
  • It is a creation of Mahapurusha Srimanta Sankardeva written in the early sixteenth century.He created the form to convey religious messages to villagers through entertainment.
  • The bhaona are written in the Assamese and Brajavali languages.
  • The plays of bhaona are popularly known as Ankiya Nats and their staging is known as bhaona.Bhaona is generally staged at xatras and namghar in Assam.
  • There are some special characteristics of Bhaona like the plays, dialogues, costumes, ornaments among others.These characteristics helps to differentiate Bhaona from other plays.

Paramahansa Yogananda

News:Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs has released a special commemorative coin on Paramahansa Yogananda to mark his 125th birth anniversary.

Facts:

About Paramahansa Yogananda:

  • Paramahansa Yogananda(1893–1952) is considered one of the preeminent spiritual figures of modern times.
  • He was the author of the best-selling spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi.
  • He went to America in 1920 from India and was the first great master of yoga to live and teach in the West.
  • He introduced millions to teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his organization Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) / Yogoda Satsanga Society(YSS) of India.

Additional information:

About Kriya Yoga:

  • Kriya Yoga is an ancient meditation technique of energy and breath control, or pranayama. 
  • It is part of a comprehensive spiritual path which includes additional meditation practices along with right living.
  • The Kriya technique was hidden in secrecy for many centuries.It was revived in 1861 when the great yogi Mahavatar Babaji taught the technique to his disciple Lahiri Mahasaya.
  • Yogananda then popularized Kriya Yoga through his book, Autobiography of a Yogi and through his public teachings in the West.

SEED Awards

News:Recently,Fourteen start-ups have been selected for SEED awards,2019.

Facts:

About the SEED awards:

  • The SEED award aims to highlight the contribution of green and social enterprises to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs).
  • The awards are given annually to organisations working on sustainable development.

About SEED:

  • SEED was founded by the UNEP, UNDP and the International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN) at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.
  • It is a global partnership for action on sustainable development and the green economy. 
  • This initiative works in Asian and African countries including Ghana, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Thailand and Uganda and supports small and growing enterprises with business and capacity-building support.

Additional information:

About UNEP:

  • The United Nations Environment Programme was founded by the UN General Assembly as a result of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Conference) in June 1972.
  • UNEP sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system.

About UNDP:

  • The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the UN’s global development network.
  • UNDP was established in 1965 by the General Assembly of the United Nations.It is headquartered in New York,US.
  • It provides expert advice, training and grants support to developing countries, with increasing emphasis on assistance to the least developed countries.

About IUCN:

  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN) is a membership union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations.
  • It was created in 1948.It is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.It is headquartered in Switzerland.

Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas

News:According to the data from its Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas,the European Space Agency(ESA) has announced that compared to August 2018,there were almost five times as many wildfires across the world in August 2019.

Facts:

Key takeaways from the study:

  • The Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission has recorded 79,000 fires in August this year compared to just over 16,000 fires detected during the same period last year.
  • The data revealed that 49% of the fires were detected in Asia, around 28% were detected in South America, 16% in Africa, and the remaining were recorded in North America, Europe and Oceania. 

About Sentinel-3:

  • Sentinel-3 is an Earth observation satellite constellation developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) as part of the Copernicus Programme.
  • Sentinel-3 uses the satellite data to plot the number of fires occurring monthly.
  • The sensors on satellites measure thermal infrared radiation to take the temperature of Earth’s land surfaces.This information is used to detect and monitor the heat emitted by the fires.
  • This data is important as fires have a significant impact on global atmospheric emissions with biomass burning contributing to the global budgets of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

Additional information:

About Copernicus Programme:

  • Copernicus is the most ambitious Earth observation programme till date.This initiative is headed by the European Commission (EC) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA).
  • The programme aims to provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.
  • ESA is developing a new family of satellites called Sentinels specifically for the operational needs of the Copernicus programme. 
  • At present,three complete two-satellite constellations are in orbit plus an additional single satellite, Sentinel-5P.
  • The Sentinels will provide a unique set of observations, starting with the all-weather, day and night radar images.

International Air Transport Association(IATA)

News:IndiGo airlines has joined the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as a member.

Facts:

About IATA:

  • International Air Transport Association(IATA) is a trade association for the world’s airlines.
  • It represents some 290 airlines primarily major carriers, representing 117 countries, accounting for 82% of total air traffic.
  • It was established in April 1945 and is a successor to International Air Traffic Association established in 1919.
  • It is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Functions of IATA:

  • It supports airline activity and helps to formulate industry policy and standards.
  • It helps airlines to operate safely, securely, efficiently, and economically under clearly defined rules.
  • It provides professional support to all industry stakeholders with a wide range of products and expert services.
  • It assists airlines by simplifying processes and increasing passenger convenience while reducing costs and improving efficiency.
  • It also improves understanding of air transport industry among decision makers and increase awareness of the benefits of aviation sector to national and global economies.
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