Daily Current Affairs – 29-06-2023

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    World Economic Forum Report: AI in Healthcare

    Syllabus: GS2/Health/GS3/Science and Technology

    In News

    • The World Economic Forum has released a report that highlights the transformative potential of Artificial Intelligence in healthcare and the importance of public-private collaboration in driving its global adoption.

    About

    • It aims to spur public-private collaboration to accelerate the responsible application of AI in healthcare. 
    • The report shows how global healthcare systems could unlock the full potential of these new technologies to transform patient care, reduce costs and enable people to live healthier, longer lives.

    What is Artificial Intelligence?

    • The ability of machines and systems to acquire and apply knowledge, and to carry out intelligent behavior. 
    • It is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. 

    Key takeaways from the Report

    • Three factors are driving the adoption of AI in healthcare: the exponential growth of medical data, a healthcare provider shortage (exacerbated, but not caused, by the COVID-19 pandemic) and advances in what AI technology is capable of. 
    • Top uses in healthcare: In the areas of AI-driven diagnosis and risk stratification, clinical trial optimization, and outbreak intelligence and prediction. 
      • Several additional areas, including administrative, workflow and training solutions; automated triage processes; supply chain and manufacturing; and drug discovery also deserve greater exploration and may hold equal promise. 

    • Implementation: To maximize the impact of AI in healthcare, data must be plentiful, usable and representative (to minimize bias); design must aid adoption by being transparent and inclusive, and applications must be seamless and scalable. 
    • Ethical use of AI: Even with sustained public-private investment, strong data foundations and thoughtful, ethical AI policies must be implemented to build trust and accelerate adoption in an appropriate way.
    • Public-Private cooperation: Acting on this report’s recommendations will require coordinated effort between public- and private-sector leaders. 
      • Creating change in health and healthcare requires multilateral partnerships across health systems, consumers, governments and civil society. 
      • These technologies will transform how care is defined and delivered – but only if stakeholders can solve underlying issues with data foundations, refocus efforts towards scaling rather than experimentation and give providers, patients, policy-makers and business leaders the confidence to use them.

    Case Study of Apollo Hospitals in India

    • Apollo Hospitals uses AI to assess cardiovascular risk more accurately than established benchmarks and at massive scale.
    • Apollo Hospitals operates more than 50 hospitals serving more than 300 million patients across India. 
    • AI tool used by Apollo: It has developed an AI-powered cardiovascular disease risk tool that assigns every patient a score of either “high”, “moderate” or “minimal”. 
      • Beyond clinical inputs, the tool incorporates data on patient lifestyle, such as tobacco use and diet, as well as physical activity, mental health and other routine vitals. 
      • The algorithm places patients in one of three categories and recommends “health actions” for healthcare providers to lower a patient’s risk score. 
    • Impact: Apollo’s AI-powered cardiovascular disease risk tool (AICVD) has proven more accurate than conventional risk scores commonly deployed in Europe and India. 
      • Apollo’s AI-driven diagnosis and risk stratification tools, extensively reviewed and validated before use, are now being used in at least eight countries and have been adapted for other non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, asthma and liver fibrosis. 

    Conclusion

    • This report was created to focus the attention of the public and private sectors on those use cases for AI with the largest potential to transform public health and healthcare and improve patient health outcomes. 
    • For the vast majority of those in healthcare, government and NGOs, the focus should be on building scale in the real world. Without scale, far fewer patients will benefit from AI’s transformative potential. 
    • The agenda should be clear to all stakeholders in the complicated healthcare ecosystem: choose a few use cases, select the partners whose capabilities and access complement your own, and bring single-minded focus to removing the barriers impeding the widespread adoption of AI tools in healthcare.

    World Economic Forum

    • It is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.
    • The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
    • It was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
    • It is independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests.

    Some major reports published by WEF are

    • Fostering Effective Energy Transition report
    • Global Competitiveness Report.
    • Global Gender Gap Report.
    • Global Risk Report.
    • Global Travel and Tourism Report.
    • Global Social Mobility Report
    • Chief Economists Outlook

    Source: AIR

    Resurgence of Malaria in the US

    Syllabus: GS2/ Health

    In News

    • This is the first time in 20 years that the US has seen malaria among people with no history of international travel.

    About

    • The five cases have raised alarm because this is the first time in 20 years that there has been local transmission of malaria in the United States. 
    • The last time the infection was transmitted by a mosquito locally in the country was in 2003 when eight people in Florida were infected.
    • The CDC has also said all the cases have been caused by plasmodium vivax. 

    Malaria Causing Plasmodiums

    • There are five plasmodiums that can cause malaria in humans – p. falciparum, p. vivax, p. malariae, p. ovale, and p. Knowlesi.
    • P. falciparum is the deadliest form of the disease, resulting in several complications including cerebral malaria if left untreated. Cases of p. falciparum are mostly seen on the African continent. 
    • Outside the African continent, p vivax causes most of the malaria cases. Though not as deadly as p. falciparum, it poses a unique challenge as the parasite is capable of laying dormant in the liver for extended periods.
    • P. vivax is always the last parasite surviving in countries that try to or have eliminated the infection.
    • p. vivax can remain dormant in the liver and cause repeated bouts of malaria. 
    • In the human body, parasites initially multiply in liver cells and then attack the Red Blood Cells (RBCs).

    Status of malaria in the world

    • As per the World Malaria Report, nearly half of the world’s population continued to be at risk for the infection in 2021.
    • The report highlighted that there were an estimated 247 million cases across the world and 619,000 deaths due to malaria during the year. Around 95 per cent of these cases were from Africa.

    How does India fare?

    • There was an 85.1 per cent decline in malaria cases and an 83.36 per cent decline in deaths between 2015 and 2022, it is still one of the countries with a high burden of the infection.
    • In 2021, 1.7 percent of the malaria cases in the world and 1.2 per cent of all the deaths were reported in India. 
    • India accounted for 79 per cent of the malaria cases and 83 per cent of the deaths from the WHO Southeast Asia region

    Challenge India Facing

    • India faces a challenge  in reducing cases of p. Falciparum is faced with a high burden of the difficult-to-treat p. vivax infections.
    • A 2021 study published in PLOS Medicine found that the highest the number of p. vivax cases is seen in India, Pakistan, and Ethiopia.

    Challenges in tackling Malaria

    • Resurgence of malaria and Climate Change: Climate has a very important role to play in the transmission of the vector-borne disease.
      • The mosquitoes that transmit malaria are very sensitive to temperatures, they can thrive only in certain not-too-hot and not-too-cold temperatures. For example, states like Himachal if the temperatures go up, malaria will be transmitted more easily.
      • A 2021 study published in the Lancet says that the increasing temperatures is likely to increase the climate suitability for malaria for an additional 1.6 months in tropical highlands in the African region, the Eastern Mediterranean region, and the Americas.
    • Impact of rural areas: Outbreaks can occur in areas where people might be immunologically naive and public health systems unprepared.
    • Other Factors: Disruptions due to COVID, potential effects of climate change, humanitarian crisis, health system shortfall, and limited donor funding are some of the challenges in combating malaria.

    Steps to eliminate the infection

    • Artemisinin-based combination therapies have been introduced, shorter course treatments for p. vivax have been developed, and a vaccine has been deployed for children living in regions with high transmission of p. Falciparum.
    • The sustainable development goals have set the target of reducing malaria incidence by 90 per cent, reducing malaria mortality by 90 per cent, eliminating malaria in at least 35 countries, and preventing resurgence in all countries that are malaria-free by 2030.
    • Countries that achieve zero indigenous transmission for three consecutive years can apply for WHO certification of malaria elimination.
      • Nine countries have been certified since 2019, with the latest being China and El Salvador in 2021. 
    • The WHO has also identified 25 countries with the potential to eradicate malaria by 2025 under its ‘E-2025 Initiative’.
    • WHO has initiated the High Burden to High Impact (HBHI) initiative in 11 high malaria burden countries, including India. 
    • The WHO has recently endorsed a vaccine for malaria, clinically known as the RTS,S vaccine and colloquially called Mosquirix.
    • World malaria Day is observed on 25th April every year.

    India’s Initiatives

    • National Framework for Malaria Elimination (2016-2030)– India’s vision to be malaria-free by 2027 and to eliminate the disease by 2030.
    • Malaria Elimination Research Alliance-India (MERA-India)
      • Established by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)
      • It is a conglomeration of partners working on malaria control
    • The Health Ministry has also initiated a joint action plan with the Ministry of Tribal Affairs for malaria elimination in tribal areas.
    • Real time data monitoring through an integrated health information platform (HIP-Malaria Portal).

    Source: IE

     

    Registration of birth, death by Aadhaar authentication

    Syllabus: GS2/Governance, Government policies & intervention

    In News 

    • The Union government has allowed the Office of the Registrar-General of India (RGI) to perform Aadhaar authentication during registration of births and deaths in the country. However, it is not mandatory.

    About

    • An amendment to the Aadhaar Act in 2019 allowed entities to enable Aadhaar authentication with the Unique Identification Authority of India’s (UIDAI) approval after ensuring compliance with security and privacy requirements.
    • At present, Ministries and Departments are allowed to undertake Aadhaar  Authentication under 2020 rules. It is allowed for purposes like in interest of
    • good governance, preventing leakage of public funds and enablement of innovation and spread of knowledge.
    • A Gazette notification by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEiTY) has allowed the RGI office to use the Aadhaar database for authenticating the identity details provided during registration of births and deaths.
    • It said the Registrar “shall be allowed to perform Yes or No Aadhaar authentication, on voluntary basis, for verification of Aadhaar number being collected along with other details as sought in the reporting forms of births or deaths, as the case may be, for the purpose of establishing the identity of child, parent and the informant in case of births, and of the parent, spouse and the informant in case of deaths during registration of births or deaths.”

    Issues with Aadhar

    • UIDAI has not prescribed any specific proof, document, or process to confirm whether a person who is applying for Aadhaar has resided in India for the period specified by the Rules.
    • The success rate of Aadhaar fingerprint authentication transactions remained a cause of dissatisfaction among the users due to biometric authentication failures.
    • Faulty biometrics and unpaired documents in the UIDAI database. CAG in its report finds flaws in the de-duplication process and issue of Aadhaars on faulty biometrics and documents.
    • UIDAI does not have a monitoring mechanism but only an audit mechanism.
    • Data goes to third parties vulnerability increases due to that.

    Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)

    • Brief History of UIDAI
      • The UIDAI was initially a division of the Planning Commission, which is today known as the NITI Aayog. But in 2015, the government changed the “Allocation of Business Rules” to include UIDAI under the control of the Department of Electronics and Information Technology. 
      • In 2010, a person residing in Nandurbar, Maharashtra, received the first UID number, also known as an Aadhaar.
      • The government of India officially acknowledged UIDAI on July 12, 2016, in accordance with the Aadhaar Act 2016. 
      • With its main office in New Delhi, UIDAI also operates eight or so regional offices across India.
    • Objectives of UIDAI: The main objective of UIDAI is to issue a 12-digit unique identification number (UID) to each individual in order to:
      • Do away with duplication of identities
      • Verify and authenticate identity in a cost-effective manner
      • The body is now responsible for the enrolment, authentication and management of all stages in the development of the Aadhaar Card life cycle.

    About Aadhar

    • Its a 12-digit unique identity for every Indian individual, including children and infants 
    • Enables identification for every resident Indian 
    • Establishes uniqueness of every individual on the basis of demographic and biometric information 
    • It is a voluntary service that every resident can avail irrespective of present documentation 
    • Each individual will be given a single unique Aadhaar ID number
    • Aadhaar will provide a universal identity infrastructure which can be used by any identity-based application (like ration card, passport, etc.) 
    • UIDAI will give Yes/No answers to any identity authentication queries 

    Initiatives lead to strengthening of Aadhaar ecosystem

    • As a part of Aadhaar 2.O a number of initiatives for strengthening the Aadhaar System have been taken in the recent past.
    • Biometrics based deduplication:
      • Biometric Service Providers (BSPs) presently operational use Facial image as additional biometric attribute for de-duplication along with 10 finger prints and two IRIS.
      • The present BSPs have capabilities to detect mixed biometrics of different persons.
      • Identify use of unusual Biometrics from multiple individuals for a single enrolment.
      • Capability  to detect attempted enrolment by using wrong fingers, non human fingers, gummy fingers, inverted IRIS images, closing of eyes, etc.
      • A robust liveliness check of fingerprints in authentication transactions is in operation. The new two factor/layer authentication is adding add-on checks to validate the genuineness (liveness) of the fingerprint so as to eliminate chances of any spoofing attempts.
    • 2. Strengthening Aadhaar Enrolment/Update ecosystem:
      • To discourage mischievous operators from misusing the system, GPS fencing has been embedded in the Enrolment machines. An operator is required to verify the credentials of the Enrolment machine regularly with the UIDAI data centre and only  a limited number of enrolments are allowed per day per machine.
      • With Aadhaar saturation reaching near universal, Adult enrolments are now happening at a restricted number of centers. Trusted and verified  operators of enrolment Agencies only are allowed  to carry out new enrolments.
      • An updated and user friendly list of supporting documents required for Aadhaar enrolment and update has been notified.
      • UIDAI regularly carries out inspections to find deviant behavior among operators. UIDAI does benching and retraining of operators on a regular basis.

    Related Supreme Court Rulings

    • The Supreme Court of India, in Justice Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. v Union of India and Ors. upheld the overall validity of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 (the “Aadhaar Act”).
    • The Aadhaar Act was held to be constitutional to the extent it allowed for Aadhaar number-based authentication for establishing the identity of an individual for receipt of a subsidy, benefit or service given by the Central or State Government funded from the Consolidated Fund of India.
    • However, the Supreme Court disallowed the use of individual Aadhaar numbers by any private entities for establishing the identity of the individual concerned for any purpose pursuant to a contract, on the basis that it was contrary to the fundamental right to privacy. 
    • The Supreme Court also ruled on a number of laws, circulars and directions, which required the mandatory linking of Aadhaar for receiving relevant services. For instance, it said, Aadhaar proof is not mandatory for opening bank accounts or borrowing unless the customer is a beneficiary of government subsidies.

    Source: TH

    National Statistics Day

    Syllabus: GS3/ Achievements of Indian in S&T

    In News

    • In recognition of the contributions made by Professor Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis in the fields of statistics and economic planning, the Government of India has designated 29th June every year, coinciding with his birth anniversary, as “Statistics Day”.

    More on the News:

    • The objective of this Day is to create public awareness, especially in the younger generation, by drawing inspiration from Professor (late) Mahalanobis about the role and importance of statistics in socio-economic planning and policy formulation.
    • The theme of Statistics Day, 2023 is “Alignment of State Indicator Framework with National Indicator Framework for Monitoring Sustainable Development Goals”.

    Contribution of P C Mahalanobis

    • Mahalanobis set up the Indian Statistical Institute(ISI) as a learned society on 17 December 1931, which was registered in April 1932 as a non-profit distributing learned society under the Societies Registration Act. 
    • All or nearly all the statistical work done in India during the 1920s and until the mid-1930s was done single-handedly by Mahalanobis. 
    • Some of the findings of these early studies were of great impact in the control of floods and development of agriculture. His analysis of anthropometric data led to the famous concept in Statistics known as “Mahalanobis Distance‟. 
    • Mahalanobis’s contributions to large scale sample surveys are among his most significant and lasting gifts to statistics.
    • The three notable contributions to the theory and practice of sample surveys by Mahalanobis are “pilot surveys, optimum survey design and Interpenetrating Network of sub-samples technique (IPNS)”
    • In addition to introducing these concepts, Mahalanobis raised important and difficult philosophical questions on randomness and representativeness of a sample, which remain relevant and challenging even today. 
    • He was elected Chairman of the United Nations Sub-Commission on Statistical Sampling in 1947, and held this post until 1951. 
    • Mahalanobis received the Weldon Medal from Oxford University in 1944 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, London, in 1945, for his fundamental contributions to Statistics, particularly in the area of large-scale sample surveys.
    • Although remembered today largely as the architect of India’s five-year plan model, Mahanalobis, as the honorary statistical adviser to the cabinet, had a greater contribution in building a new statistical architecture for the country. He helped establish the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), the National Sample Survey (NSS) and the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI), all of which were run from ISI in the early years.

    He was a truly visionary leader of his times and the path shown by him has not lost its relevance even today. It has only gained in importance.  He is rightly referred to as the chief architect of the Indian statistical system as well as father of statistical science in India.

    Source: PIB

     

    Chandrayaan Missions

    Syllabus: GS3/ Space

    In News

    • ISRO will soon launch its third moon mission, Chandrayaan-3 (Ch-3) with the primary objective of executing a precise landing on the celestial body.

    About

    • Chandrayaan is India’s lunar exploration program consisting of a series of robotic missions that aims to explore the Moon and its resources

    Chandrayaan-1 mission

    • It was launched in October 2008 and it orbited the Moon and performed a number of scientific experiments and observations.
    • It was India’s first lunar mission and the first to discover water on the Moon.
    • It Involved an orbiter and an impactor, both of which were built by ISRO.
    • It was launched by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and made more than 3,400 orbits around the Moon.
    • It was operational for 312 days till August 29, 2009.

    Chandrayaan-2 mission

    • Launched on July 22, 2019, the Chandrayaan-2 mission’s Vikram lunar lander crashed on the Moon.
    • Objective of the Chandrayaan-2 was to demonstrate the ability to soft-land a lander and rover on the unexplored south pole of the Moon, it also had other goals. 
    • The mission was designed to expand the lunar scientific knowledge through a detailed study of topography, seismography, mineral identification and distribution, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics of topsoil and composition of the tenuous lunar atmosphere, leading to a new understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon.
    • Despite the setback, the mission wasn’t a complete failure as its Orbiter part kept on working normally and produced a handsome amount of data about the Moon. 
    • This helped in building upon existing knowledge of the celestial body in terms of its surface, sub-surface and exosphere.
    • The lander Vikram and rover Pragyaan were carrying instruments to carry out observations on the surface. 
    • These were supposed to pick up additional information about the terrain, composition and mineralogy

    Chandrayaan-3 Mission

    • Chandrayaan-3 is India’s third moon mission and is slated to be launched later this year by Launch Vehicle Mark 3 (LMV3) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.
    • The Chandrayaan-3 is an interplanetary mission which has three major modules: 
      • The Propulsion module, 
      • Lander module, and 
      • Rover.
    • The mission’s complexity calls for establishing radio-frequency (RF) communication links between the modules.

    Significance

    • The mission has helped India gain valuable knowledge and experience in space exploration, which can be applied to other fields, such as satellite technology and space tourism.
    • The discovery of water on the Moon by Chandrayaan-1 has opened up new possibilities for space exploration and resource utilization, including the potential for future lunar colonies and space mining.
    • It puts India in the coveted league of being only the 4th country in the world after the United States, Russia and China to have successfully landed on the moon.

    Source: TH

    Facts In News

    American Bald Eagle

    Syllabus: GS3/ Species in News

    In News

    • The American bald eagle was removed from the United States’ list of endangered species on June 28, 2007.
      • Since then, the population of the bird has steadily risen. 

    Population decline since the 1800s

    • Bald eagles were abundant across the United States when they were adopted as the US’s national symbol in 1782.
    • In the early 1800s, their population started to decline as they were seen as a threat to livestock, especially domestic chicken, their feathers used on hats for fashion symbols. 
    • Later on, the appearance of DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) used for agriculture decimates the bald eagle population
      • DDT is promoted as an insecticide and is used to kill malaria-carrying mosquitos and agricultural pests. 

    How DDT decimates the bald eagle population?

    • Water bodies contaminated with DDT, which in turn contaminated the fish in them. The chemical would enter the bald eagles’ bloodstream when they would eat these fish. 
    • DDT resulted in female eagles laying extremely thin-shelled eggs, leading to nesting failures.
    • Notably, like the bald eagle, birds such as ospreys and peregrine falcons also faced a similar dropoff in population.

    American bald eagle

    • About: 
      • Bald eagle, the only eagle solely native to North America. In 1782, it was first placed with outspread wings on the country’s Great Seal as a sign of strength.
    • Features:
      • Bald eagles are large, predatory raptors that are recognizable for their brown body and wings, white head and tail, and hooked yellow beak.
      • Their feet are yellow, and are equipped with sharp black talons. Eagle nests are called aeries (AIR-ees).
      • Female bald eagles are a bit bigger than males. Bald eagles love fish. They’ll eat whatever they can catch, including small birds and rodents. 
    • Distribution:
      • They are North American birds. Their range extends from the Mexico border through the United States and Canada.
      • The birds are extremely populous in Alaska.

    Conservation Steps Taken

    • Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring played a crucial role in documenting the detrimental effects of chemical pesticides on the environment.
    • US has pass the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act in 1940 expanding protections and prohibiting even the possession of eagle feathers
    • DDT was banned for agricultural use in 1972. 
    • The Endangered Species Act was enacted. This act broadened protections already in place for endangered species, particularly focussing on the protection of animal habitats.
    • Captive breeding programmes were launched in the 1970s.
    • Hacking Practice commonly used by conservationists. Hacking is a controlled way to raise and release bald eagles into a wild viable environment from artificial nesting towers. This method simulates a wild eagle nesting site and aids in recovery in an area where re-population is desirable.

    Source: IE

     

    Green Credit Programme (GCP)

    Syllabus: GS3/Environment

    In News

    • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) notified the draft ‘Green Credit Programme (GCP)’ implementation rules 2023 under Mission LiFE.

    About

    • The move follows the Finance Minister’s announcement of the creation of a Green Credit Programme in the union budget speech this year.
    • The draft notification will be out on public domain for 60 days for inviting objection and suggestion after which the rules will be notified.

    About GCP

    • Aim: The programme aims to create a market-based mechanism for the entities to earn incentives in the form of green credits.
    • Sectors: The eight identified sectors include increasing the green cover across the country through tree plantation and related activities; water conservation and harvesting, water-use efficiency; natural and regenerative agricultural practices and land restoration, soil health and nutritional value of food produced; waste management and steps for reducing air pollution and other pollution abatement activities.
      • The draft has also included mangrove conservation and restoration-based green credit to promote measures for the conservation and restoration of mangroves. 
    • Ecomark-based green credit encourages manufacturers to obtain eco-mark labels for their goods and services and sustainable building and infrastructure-based Green Credit encourage the construction of buildings and other infrastructure using sustainable technologies and materials.
    • Entities considered: Individuals, industries, farmers producers organisations (FPOs), urban local bodies (ULB), gram panchayats and private sectors, among a host of other entities, will be able to earn “green credit” for undertaking environment-friendly actions. 
    • Trading Platform: The trading platform for the exchange of green credits shall be established by the trading service provider accredited by the administrator in accordance with the approved guidelines.
      • The green credits will be tradable and those earning it will be able to put these credits up for sale on a proposed domestic market platform.
    • One of the major highlights of the draft notification is to provide regulatory provisions to account for individual and community actions, besides corporate and businesses, and incentivise them.

    Significance

    • It is proposed to be launched at national level to leverage a competitive market-based approach for Green Credits thereby incentivising voluntary environmental actions of various stakeholders. 
    • Apart from incentivising individual/community behaviour, the Green Credit Programme will encourage private sector industries and companies as well as other entities to meet their existing obligations, stemming from other legal frameworks, by taking actions which are able to converge with activities relevant for generating or buying Green Credits.
    • Unlike carbon markets, where only greenhouse gas emissions were traded, the Green Credit Scheme was “trickier” as it involved accounting for a wide range of actions.
    • There are a few examples globally but nowhere in the world is such a wide range of actions considered.

    Source: TH

     

    Headquarters Agreement between India and CDRI

    Syllabus: GS3/ Disaster Management

    In News

    • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for ratification of the Headquarters Agreement (HQA) between Government of India (Gol) and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) signed in 2022.

    Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI):

    • Launched by India during the United Nations Climate Action Summit in 2019, at New York. 
    • Secretariat:New Delhi
    • CDRI is a global partnership of National Governments, UN agencies and programmes, multilateral development banks and financing mechanisms, the private sector, academic and knowledge institutions.
    • It aims to promote the resilience of infrastructure systems to climate and disaster risks, thereby ensuring sustainable development.
    • Members: 31 Countries, 6 International Organizations and 2 private sector organizations.

    Headquarters Agreement (HQA):

    • In 2019, the Cabinet approved the setting up of CDRI along with its supporting Secretariat in New Delhi and also gave the approval for Government of India financial support of Rs. 480 crore to CDRI over a period of 5 years from 2019-20 to 2023-24.
    • Subsequently, in 2022, the Cabinet had approved recognition of CDRI as an International Organization and the HQA was signed between the Gol and CDRI.

    Significance of HQA:

    • Ratification of the Headquarters Agreement will facilitate grant of exemptions, immunities and privileges as contemplated under Section- 3 of the United Nations (Privileges & Immunities) Act, 1947 to CDRI.
    • It will provide CDRI an independent and international legal persona so that it can carry out its functions more efficiently.

    Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations:

    • It is a Convention passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946 in New York.Hence referred to as the New York Convention.
    • The Convention defines and specifies numerous issues relating to the status of the United Nations, its assets, and officials, in terms of the privileges and immunities that must be granted to them by its member states.

    Source:PIB

     

     National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill,2023

    Syllabus: GS2/ Education

    In News

    • The Union Cabinet approved the National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill, 2023, in the Parliament. 

    NRF Bill 2023

    • The Bill, will establish NRF, as an apex body to provide “high-level strategic direction” to scientific research in the country as per recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP), at a total estimated cost of ₹50,000 crore from 2023-28.
    • The Department of Science and Technology (DST) will be the administrative Department of NRF which will be governed by a Governing Board consisting of eminent researchers and professionals across disciplines.
    • The Prime Minister will be the ex-officio President of the Board and the Union Minister of Science & Technology & Union Minister of Education will be the ex-officio Vice-Presidents. 
    • NRF’s functioning will be governed by an Executive Council chaired by the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.The NRF will prioritize research funding and the Executive Council will decide on what areas need support.
    • The bill will also repeal the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) established by an act of Parliament in 2008 and subsume it into NRF. 

    Objective of NRF:

    • NRF will forge collaborations among the industry, academia, and government departments and research institutions, and create an interface mechanism for participation and contribution of industries and State governments in addition to the scientific and line ministries. 
    • It will focus on creating a policy framework and putting in place regulatory processes that can encourage collaboration and increased spending by the industry on R&D.

    Significance:

    • The efforts made by higher education institutions to enhance the research ecosystem on their campuses will get an impetus. 
    • NRF will provide an excellent opportunity for academia, industry, and research institutions to work together on the most pressing challenges of our country to make India the frontrunner in research and innovation.

    Source:PIB

    National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO)

     Syllabus: GS2/ Government policies & intervention
    In News

    • The National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO) has issued a warning after it found private websites and social media posts promoting and offering organs for trade.

    More on News

    • The organisation said that certain websites and social media posts are promoting and offering organ trading which is in violation of the provisions of Transplantation of Human Organ and Tissue Act (THOTA), 1994 and Rules. 
    • India has also updated its organ donation and transplant guidelines where domicile requirement has been done away with. 
    • It has also maintained that with India’s growing geriatric population it is critically important to update communication and awareness strategy, so that potential organ donors come forward. 
    • The Ministry said that despite India having 640 plus medical hospitals and colleges, transplants remain a specialised service limited to some hospitals only.

    About NOTTO

    • National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization is a National level organization set up under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India located at Institute of Pathology (ICMR) Building in Safdarjung Hospital New Delhi.
    • It is mandated to establish a network for organ procurement and distribution and to maintain a national registry for the purpose of surveillance of organ donation and transplantation in the country. 
    • It has following two divisions:
    1. “National Human Organ and Tissue Removal and Storage Network”: It functions as the apex centre for All India activities of coordination and networking for procurement and distribution of Organs and Tissues and registry of Organs and Tissues Donation and Transplantation in the country.
    2. National Biomaterial Centre (National Tissue Bank)
      It aims to fulfill the demands of tissue transplantation including activities for procurement, storage and fulfil distribution of biomaterials.The main thrust & objective of establishing the centre is to fill up the gap between ‘Demand’ and ‘Supply’ as well as ‘Quality Assurance’ in the availability of various tissues.

    Resurgence in transplant activities

    • The Health Ministry noted that there has been a fast resurgence in the transplant activities post COVID-19 pandemic and for the first time the country has achieved more than 15,000 transplants in a year (2022). 
    • Along with this, there was an annual increase of 27% in transplant numbers. 

    Way Ahead:

    • There is a need to expand the number of institutions where surgeries and transplants are undertaken. 
    • To increase surgeries/transplants in the country, along with sensitisation and training for healthcare professionals, our physical infrastructure must be optimally utilised. 
    • There is also a need to identify high case load institutions and bring them under the network NOTT program. 

    Source: TH

     

    Tam Pà Ling

    Syllabus: GS3/ Places in News

    In News

    • Researchers have reported more human remains found in Tam Pà Ling in Laos. 

    About Tam Pà Ling

    • It  is a cave in the Annamite Mountains in north-eastern Laos.
    • Research Findings : Humans were present in the vicinity of Tam Pà Ling Cave for roughly 56,000 years.  The research also confirmed that the site contains sediments that accumulated steadily over some 86,000 years.

    Laos

    • It is officially known as  the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
    • Capital :Vientiane which is located along the banks of the Mekong River.

    • It is a landlocked country located in the southeast of the Asian continent in the centre of the Indo-china Peninsula. 
    • It has borders with Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and China. 

    • Major River : Mekong River 
    • Important mountain chains : The Annamite Mountains and Luang Prabang.
      • The highest point:  Phou Bia .

     

    Fraser Island

    Syllabus: GS3/ Places in News

    In News

    • The government of the Australian state of Queensland has changed the name of the Fraser island to its traditional name K’gari.

    About Fraser Island

    • The island’s traditional name, K’gari, means paradise in the native tongue of the Butchella People who inhabited the island for thousands of years. 
    • It  lies along the eastern coast of Australia and is located off the southeastern coast of Queensland, Australia, separated from the mainland and the port of Maryborough by Hervey Bay and Great Sandy Strait.
    • It is the largest sand island in the world, with golden sand dunes that date back to ancient times. 
    • It was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1992.

    Source: TH