Daily Current Affairs – 22-05-2023

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    25 years of Kudumbashree

    Syllabus: GS1/ Social, Women Empowerment, GS2/ Government policies & intervention

    In News

    • Recently, President Droupadi Murmu inaugurated the silver jubilee celebrations of Kudumbashree, the largest self-help group network in the country.

    Kudumbashree Mission

    • About: 
      • The Kudumbashree is the poverty eradication and women empowerment programme implemented by the State Poverty Eradication Mission (SPEM) of the Government of Kerala.
      • The name Kudumbashree in Malayalam language means ‘prosperity of the family’.
      • Kudumbashree was set up in 1997 following the recommendations of a three member Task Force appointed by the Kerala government.
      • In 2011, the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), Government of India recognised Kudumbashree as the State Rural Livelihoods Mission (SRLM) under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM).
    • Working:
      • Kudumbashree operates at the grassroots level, organizing women into neighbourhood groups (NHGs), which then form larger community-level and ward-level organizations.
      • It has a three-tier structure for its women community network, with Neighbourhood Groups (NHGs) at the lowest level, Area Development Societies (ADS) at the middle level, and Community Development Societies (CDS) at the local government level. 

    Significance

    • Kudumbashree has played the biggest role in bringing women in Kerala to the forefront. They help women from microfinancing to setting up micro-enterprises; from schools for differently-abled to male-dominated construction sector.
    • Studies and surveys, like the Multidimensional Poverty Index by NITI Aayog, have emphasised Kudumbashree’s achievement in reducing poverty.
    • It has established “Janakeeya Hotels” across the state, offering affordable meals. Currently, it operates 125 restaurants providing meals for just Rs 20.
    • The skills and capabilities of the Kudumbashree women were utilised in numerous ways to ensure the management of COVID-19 in the state.
    • The mission has also led to women members venturing into organic farming, tourism, agri-business, poultry, food processing and several micro-enterprises. The state mission has an e-commerce platform for marketing of Kudumbashree products.
      • Example: Amrutham Nutrimix, a branded nutritional food mix produced and distributed by Kudumbashree for children at anganwadis, had bagged the Glenmark Nutrition Award for 2022 that was organised in partnership with the UN’s World Food Programme.

    Challenges

    • Struggle for power: The Kudumbashree units have become powerful in mobilizing people and in accessing funds.  The increasing financial strength and autonomy of Kudumbashree and its potential to become the political training ground for women have started giving concern to many local government leaders.
    • Politicalization – the emergence of ‘Janashree’: It is alleged that they are compelled to carry out work for political parties and instructed to attend meetings and rallies of political parties which are in power of the concerned local government.
    • Social exclusion: Due to constraints on money and time, women from some of the poorest households found it difficult to play leadership roles, and some were unable to join the groups at all.
    • Delayed service: The deliberately delaying the release of funds to Kudumbashree by the local governments and even diversion or non-release of funds meant for the programme.
    • Unsustainable micro enterprises:  About 80 percent SHG members who are running micro enterprises lack entrepreneurial skills. Above 60 percent enterprises are found to be unsustainable but continue to operate to avail the subsidy and other facilities from the government. 
    • Micro credit: Lack of monitoring: There is no proper follow up or monitoring mechanism to ensure that the loan is used for the declared purpose.

    Conclusion

    • The process of community development involves the collective efforts by the community members to take actions and generate solutions to common problems. In this way, development can be attained only through the efficient functioning of the CBOs. In Kerala, the presence of the women’s community network of Kudumbashree contributes to the empowerment, livelihood management, and capability enhancement of the women associated with this CBO.

    Source: IE

    Assistance To Medical Device Clusters For Common Facilities Scheme

    Syllabus: GS3/ Science and Tech / Health 

    In News 

    • The Centre has announced a new initiative, dubbed the “Assistance to Medical Device Clusters for Common Facilities” scheme.

    Scheme 

    • The scheme plans the establishment of additional quality testing labs, the development of shared infrastructure facilities, and the provision of financial aid to manufacturers.
    • Guidelines for the scheme were issued by the Department of Pharmaceutical against the backdrop of the recently launched National Medical Devices Policy. 
    • The scheme will run from 2023-24 to 2026-27.

    Indian medical device industry

    • The Indian medical device industry is currently the 4th largest Asian medical devices market after Japan, China and South Korea. 
    • It is estimated at $11 billion and has the potential to reach $50 billion by 2030.

    National Medical Devices Policy, 2023

    • The 2023 Policy sets a goal for India to achieve a 10-12% share of the global market for medical devices, increase the size of the sector from USD 11 billion to USD 50 billion by 2030, and frames strategies to achieve this target. Key features of this Policy include the following:
    • Regulatory streamlining: This includes measures such as single window clearance for licensing of medical devices and revising pricing regulations.
    • Investment: Private investment in the sector will be increased through schemes such as Make in India, Ayushman Bharat, and Start-up Mission.
    • Infrastructure: The Policy proposes the establishment and strengthening of industrial parks which develop and produce medical devices. These will receive logistical connectivity and support under the National Logistics Policy, 2021.
    • Human resource development: The Policy proposes to increase the strength of the skilled workforce in this sector through the involvement of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. The Policy also aims to support the implementation of courses in educational institutions focusing on the development of medical devices.
    • Brand positioning and awareness: An Export Promotion Council under Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers will conduct studies of best practices in manufacturing and skill development.

    Source: LM
     

    World Health Statistics 2023

    Syllabus: GS2/ Health

    In News

    • The World Health Statistics 2023 was recently released by the World Health Organization (WHO).

    About the World Health Statistics

    • The report is an annual compilation of health and health-related indicators, which has been published by the WHO since 2005.
    • The World Health Statistics reports present the most recent health statistics for the WHO Member States and each edition supersedes the previous one.

    Report highlights

    • COVID damage:
      • The COVID-19 pandemic may have caused over 20 million deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said in its updated estimates in a new report. A total of 336.8 million life-years have been lost globally due to the pandemic.
        • Years of life lost (YLL) is a measure of premature mortality that takes into account both the frequency of deaths and the age at which it occurs. The YLL is the highest globally in ages 55-64 years old, with a total of over 90 million years of life lost.
      • Globally, 14.9 million excess deaths could be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic by the end of 2021,
      • The official figures are around seven million deaths, but the true figure can be closer to 20 million, WHO said.
      • The pandemic also disproportionately affected the age group of 45 years and above.
    • Stalled progress on key health indicators:
    • The health progress on key health indicators has markedly stalled since 2015, compared with the trends seen in 2000-2015, the report found. 
      • The COVID-19 pandemic was also responsible for putting many health-related indicators further off-track.
    • Non-attainment of SDGs:
      • The stagnation in health progress challenges the timely attainment of the United Nations-mandated sustainable development goals (SDG) targets by 2030.
        • UN’s Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, also called 2030 Agenda, set 17 SDGs that aim to mobilise global efforts to end poverty, foster peace, safeguard the rights and dignity of all people and protect the planet. 
    • Need of investments:
      • The report calls for a substantial increase in investments in health and health systems to get back on track towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

    Achievements

    • Population health has notably improved globally since 2000. 
      • Child mortality has halved, 
      • Maternal mortality has fallen by a third, 
      • The incidence of many infectious diseases — including human immunodeficiency virus, tuberculosis and malaria — has dropped.
    • The risks from dying prematurely from NCDs and injuries have declined and global life expectancy at birth rose from 67 years in 2000 to 73 years in 2019. 

    Challenges

    • Non-communicable diseases (NCD):
      • After 2015, the rate of progress has worsened and the burden of NCDs has grown immensely. 
        • The world is also facing an ever-growing threat of non-communicable diseases (NCD) and climate change, the paper said.
      • Without faster progress, no regions will achieve the SDG target for NCD mortality by 2030 — and half still won’t by 2048, the global health body pointed out.
    • Health burdon of NCDs:
      • The cause for the biggest health burden is still NCDs and their impact has worsened in the past two decades. 
        • For example, in 2000, 61 per cent of annual deaths were caused by non-communicable diseases. In 2019, they accounted for nearly 75 per cent of annual deaths. 
        • Similarly, in 2000, NCDs caused 47 per cent of global disability-adjusted life years (1.3 billion years); by 2019, NCDs caused 63 per cent (1.6 billion years).
      • If this trend continues, the proportion of lives lost to NCDs could reach 86 percent or 77 million deaths per year by the middle of this century. 
      • With preventive measures and early detection and treatment, many millions could be saved.
    • Maternal & neonatal mortality ratio:
      • Between 2000 and 2015, the annual rate of reduction (ARR) of the global maternal mortality ratio was 2.7 per cent. 
        • But this plummeted to -0.04 per cent between 2016 and 2020. 
      • The ARR fell from 4 per cent during the first decade (2000–2009) to 2.7 per cent during the second decade (2010–2021). 
        • Meanwhile, the ARR of the neonatal mortality rate fell from 3.2 per cent (2000–2009) to 2.2 per cent (2010–2021). This slowdown has been particularly pronounced since 2015.
    • Far-reaching targets:
      • Some indicators are far from reaching the midpoint of the required trajectories to reach their respective SDG targets, the WHO pointed out. 

    Sustainable Development Goals

    • The United Nations Document “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
      • This agenda contains 17 goals and 169 targets. 
    • The agenda is built on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were adopted in 2000 and were to be achieved by 2015.
    • SDGs provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.  
    • They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

     

    Indian government’s Initiatives for health sector:

    • Pradhan Mantri-Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM):
      • It aims to strengthen India’s health infrastructure and improve the country’s primary, secondary and tertiary care services.
    • Ayushman Bharat:
      • Follows a two- pronged approach by:
        • Creation of health and wellness centres to bring health care closer to homes.
        • formulation of a Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) to protect poor and vulnerable families against financial risk arising out of health episodes.
    • Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission: 
      • It aims to connect the digital health solutions of hospitals across the country. Under this, every citizen will now get a digital health ID and their health record will be digitally protected.
    • National Ayush Mission: 
      • It is a centrally sponsored scheme  for the  development of traditional medicines 
    • Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY):
      • It aims to  correct regional imbalances in the availability of affordable/reliable tertiary healthcare services and also to augment facilities for quality medical education in the country.

    Source: DTE

    Human PanGenome Project

    Syllabus: GS3/Science & Tech 

    In News

    • A new study published in the Nature journal describes a Pan genome reference map, built using genomes from 47 anonymous individuals.

    What is a genome?

    • Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid (DNA) is the information molecule for all living organisms. All of the DNA of an organism is called its genome. 
    • In humans, the genome consists of 23 pairs of chromosomes located in the cell’s nucleus, as well as a small chromosome in the cell’s mitochondria. 
    • A genome contains all the information needed for an individual to develop and function. 
    • Some genomes are incredibly small, such as those found in viruses and bacteria, whereas other genomes can be almost inexplicably large, such as found in some plants. 

     

    Genome Sequencing

    • Each DNA strand is made of four chemical units, called nucleotide bases, which comprise the genetic “alphabet.” The bases are adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G), and cytosine (C). 
    • Bases on opposite strands pair specifically: an A always pairs with a T; a C always pairs with a G. The order of the As, Ts, Cs and Gs determines the meaning of the information encoded in that part of the DNA molecule just as the order of letters determines the meaning of a word.
    • Genome sequencing is the method used to determine the precise order of the four letters and how they are arranged in chromosomes. 
    • Sequencing individual genomes helps us understand human diversity at the genetic level and how prone we are to certain diseases.

    The Human Genome Project

    • The Human Genome Project is one of the greatest scientific feats in history. The project was a voyage of biological discovery led by an international group of researchers looking to comprehensively study all of the DNA (known as a genome) of a select set of organisms. 
    • Launched in 1990 and completed in 2003, the Human Genome Project’s signature accomplishment – generating the first sequence of the human genome – provided fundamental information about the human blueprint, which has since accelerated the study of human biology and improved the practice of medicine.

    What is a reference genome?

    • When genomes are newly sequenced, they are compared to a reference map called a reference genome. 
    • This helps us to understand the regions of differences between the newly sequenced genome and the reference genome. 
    • One of this century’s scientific breakthroughs was the making of the first reference genome in 2001. 
    • It helped scientists discover thousands of genes linked to various diseases; better understand diseases like cancer at the genetic level; and design novel diagnostic tests. 
    • Although a remarkable feat, the reference genome of 2001 was 92% complete and contained many gaps and errors. Additionally, it was not representative of all human beings as it was built using mostly the genome of a single individual of mixed African and European ancestry. 
    • Since then, the reference genome map has been refined and improved to have complete end-to-end sequences of all the 23 human chromosomes.

    What is a Pangenome map?

    • Unlike the earlier reference genome, which is a linear sequence, the pangenome is a graph. 
    • The pangenome is built using genomes of 19 men and 28 women mainly from Africa but also from the Caribbean, Americas, East Asia, and Europe.
    • The graph of each chromosome is like a bamboo stem with nodes where a stretch of sequences of all 47 individuals converge (similar), and with internodes of varying lengths representing genetic variations among those individuals from different ancestries. 
    • To create complete and contiguous chromosome maps in the pangenome project, the researchers used long-read DNA sequencing technologies, which produce strings of contiguous DNA strands of tens of thousands of nucleotides long. 
      • Using longer reads helps assemble the sequences with minimum errors and read through the repetitive regions of the chromosomes which are hard to sequence with short-read technologies used earlier.

    Genome not included

    • Although the project is a leap forward, genomes from many populations are still not a part of it. For example, genomes from more people from Africa, the Indian sub-continent, indigenous groups in Asia and Oceania, and West Asian regions are not represented in the current version of the pangenome map.

    Why is a pangenome map important?

    • Although any two humans are more than 99% similar in their DNA, there is still about a 0.4% difference between any two individuals. 
    • This may be a small percentage, but considering that the human genome consists of 3.2 billion individual nucleotides, the difference between any two individuals is a whopping 12.8 million nucleotides. 
    • A complete and error-free human pangenome map will help us understand those differences and explain human diversity better. 
    • It will also help us understand genetic variants in some populations, which result in underlying health conditions. 
    • The pangenome reference map has added nearly 119 million new letters to the existing genome map and has already aided the discovery of 150 new genes linked to autism.

    Source: TH

    Oxford University’s WildCRU, Panthera join forces for Africa’s lions

    Syllabus: GS3/ Conservation

    In News

    • Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organisation, has appointed Andrew Loveridge as Lion Program Director, a joint role with Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU).

    About

    • WildCRU is a research unit within Oxford University’s Department of Biology — with a focus on wild carnivore research and threat mitigation – and the host of a distinguished early-career conservation training programme.
    • Under Dr Loveridge’s leadership, Panthera and WildCRU seek to develop programmes which help reverse lion declines in sites with recovery potential; maintain populations’ genetic diversity; and protect and connect priority populations via comprehensive threat mitigation

    Significance

    • Together, both organisations have supported work in 12 countries, including landscapes which cover 67 percent of lion range and around 70 percent of Africa’s remaining 24,000 lions.
    • The efforts taken will include high-tech law enforcement and anti-poaching partnerships; community engagement; conservation education; behavioural change campaigns; lion and prey monitoring; and meaningful local incentives for conservation.

    Major Challenges

    • In recent decades, wild lion populations in Africa have undergone catastrophic decreases due to poaching for the illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict. 
    • Approximately 24,000 lions remain today, while around 100,000 were estimated to roam Africa in the 1970s, a decline of 75% in the last five decades.

    Way Ahead

    • Cooperation is the way to go. If institutions are coming together, it can only be a positive thing. Pooling thinking and action adds strength and resilience.

    Source: DTE

    Ganga Prahari

    Syllabus: GS3/ Environment

    In News 

    • Over 4,000 Ganga Prahari volunteers under the Namami Gange initiative have been keeping a check on littering and poaching in the river to make sure that its flora, fauna are intact.

    About 

    • Ganga Prahari (guardian) is a task force of volunteers. 
    • constituted by the National Mission for Clean Ganga and the Wildlife Institute of India (NMCG-WII) under the Namami Gange programme to cover 8.61 billion sq.km of the river basin.
    • The Ganga Prahari project began in 2016.
    • The task force, now has over 4,000 volunteers in 100 districts across Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, and West Bengal
    • It keeps a check on river protection, preventing people from littering, and reports poaching.

    Namami Gange

    • Namami Gange Programme’, is an Integrated Conservation Mission, approved as ‘Flagship Programme’ by the Union Government in 2014 to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation, and rejuvenation of the National River Ganga.
    • The main pillars of the Namami Gange Programme are: Sewerage Treatment Infrastructure, River-Surface Cleaning, Afforestation, Industrial Effluent Monitoring, River-Front Development, Bio-Diversity, Public Awareness and Ganga Gram.
    • Its implementation has been divided into Entry-Level Activities (for immediate visible impact), Medium-Term Activities (to be implemented within 5 years of time frame) and Long-Term Activities (to be implemented within 10 years).
    • The United Nations in December 2022 recognised the initiative as one of the top 10 World Restoration Flagships involved in reviving the natural world under the banner of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) – a global movement coordinated by the UN Environment Programme and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. 

    Source: TH

    Subsidy on Electric 2- Wheelers

    Syllabus: GS – 3 / Economy

    News 

    • The Ministry of Heavy Industries announced that the subsidy would be reduced to ?10,000 per kilowatt hour (kWh) effective 1 June from ?15,000 currently. The lower subsidy would be applicable to all electric two-wheelers registered on or after 1 June.

    FAME I

    • The Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme was launched in 2015 under the National Electric Mobility Mission.
    • It was launched to encourage electric and hybrid vehicle purchase by providing financial support. 

    FAME II

    • The second phase of FAME II was launched in April 2019. It has been extended until 31 March 2024 with a total outlay of ?10,000 crore.
    • It provides incentives for electric vehicles in the segments of electric three-wheelers, electric four-wheelers, and electric buses. Privately owned registered electric two-wheelers are also eligible for subsidies.
    • It aims to generate demand by way of supporting 7,000 e-buses, 500,000 electric three-wheelers, 55,000 electric cars and 1 million electric two-wheelers.

    Source: LM

     

    Wolf-dog Hybridisation

    Syllabus: GS3/Conservation

    In News

    • Citizen scientists and researchers have found the first evidence of wolf-dog hybridisation in the country.

    About

    • A suspected wolf-dog hybrid animal with an unusually tawny coat was captured in a photograph by a group of nature lovers near Pune in Maharashtra.
    • The citizen researchers observed that the individual looked different from others in the wolf pack. They followed the animal and collected the hair strands.
    • The researchers then used 11 wolf whole and 16 dog genomes from different parts of the world.

     

    Findings

    • The research is the first evidence in the country of such hybridisation.
    • The genomic results document the occurrence of wolf?dog hybridization in peninsular India and highlight the complexity, and extent of current hybridization and dog introgression into the wolf population.
    • The first ever genetic detection of wolf-dog hybridization in Indian savannahs claimed that wolf (Canis lupus)-dog (Canis lupus familiaris) hybridisation may lead to immense reduction of certain adaptations in wolves eventually causing a drop in wolf populations.
    • Such hybridisation is complex among canid species. Both sexes of canid hybrids are fertile, in contrast to the other mammalian species where males are sterile with very few exceptions. This makes the introgression of dog genome into wolves and vice versa possible.
    • High population turnover and loss of breeding members may cause the break-up of wolf packs and disruption of social structure. Such factors can also further increase hybridisation rates.
    • These scenarios could drive these wild populations into a hybridisation vortex which eventually results in extinction via hybridisation.

    Why is it the first such detection?

    • The country is large and megadiverse, and the scale and breadth of the human–wildlife interface is substantive. 
    • Poor detection rates and low availability of laboratories to integrate field sampling with conservation genomics.
    • Identification of hybridization events between wild species and their domestic counterparts is not trivial due to the complex history and genetic ancestry of both subspecies. 

    Significance

    • The recent availability of genomic resources for both domestic dogs and wolves provides new insights into wolf?dog hybridization. 
    • The results from the research offer crucial information that can help understand the relation between wolves and dogs and their interaction and can lead the way for conservation.
    • The work exemplifies a novel model for conservation in the future, involving citizens and cutting?edge technology to acquire data at large spatial scales, and address conservation questions for ensuring the survival of species.

    Source: DTE