CURRENT AFFAIRS 08-10-2021
- UNESCO and State of the Education Report
- WHO: First Malaria Vaccine
- Coal Shortage in India
- India and Henley Passport Index 2021
- Swadesh Darshan Scheme
1. UNESCO and State of the Education Report
#GS2-Polity and Governance
- “No Teachers, No Class” is the theme of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) 2021 State of the Education Report (SOER) for India.
In depth information
The report’s main points
- Single-teacher schools in the country: The country has about 1.2 lakh single-teacher schools, with 89 percent of them located in rural areas.
- Arunachal Pradesh (18.22%), Goa (16.08%), Telangana (15.71%), Andhra Pradesh (14.4%), Jharkhand (13.81%), and Uttarakhand (13.81%) are among the states with a high rate of single-teacher schools (13.64 per cent),
- Women instructors account for 50% of all teachers, making the gender ratio in professions “generally balanced.”
- There are, however, inter-state urban-rural disparities.
- In rural areas, the proportion of female instructors is lower than in urban areas.
- Women make up 28% of primary school teachers in rural areas, compared to 63% in metropolitan ones.
- Early childhood education teachers, on the other hand, are mostly women, with 88 percent of them working in rural areas. Women make up 24 percent of secondary school teachers in rural areas, compared to 53 percent in urban ones.”
- The average wage of private school teachers in the country (primary and secondary) is Rs 13,564, according to PLFS data, with rural private school teachers earning less at Rs 11,584. In rural private schools, women instructors earn an average of Rs 8212 per month.
- Impact of the pandemic: The ongoing pandemic has highlighted the relevance of teaching as a profession and the importance of high-quality instruction.
- Despite a reported lack of professional abilities, most instructors were found to have favourable attitudes and views about incorporating technology into school during this unprecedented health crisis.
India’s State of Education Report (SOER)
- It is UNESCO’s yearly flagship report, and it is the result of intensive research.
- This third edition, which focuses on teachers, teaching, and teacher education, emphasises the complexity of teaching.
- It is based on an examination of data from the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) and the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE).
- It aims to provide a better understanding of key aspects of the teaching profession, including a profile of the 9.6 million teachers in the United States, as well as the challenges of their complex teaching routine and professional development.
- The report aims to serve as a reference for enhancing the implementation of the NEP and towards the realization of the SDG.4 target 4c on teachers.
- Teachers’ working conditions in both public and private schools should be improved.
- In North-Eastern states, rural areas, and “aspirational districts,” increase the number of teachers and improve working conditions.
- Teachers should be seen as frontline employees.
- Increase the number of teachers in the areas of physical education, music, art, vocational education, early childhood education, and special education.
- Teachers’ professional autonomy should be valued, and teachers’ career paths should be developed.
- Pre-service professional development should be restructured, and curricular and pedagogical reform should be strengthened.
- Develop teaching governance through consultation processes based on mutual accountability by providing relevant ICT training to teachers.
- The report concludes with a set of ten action-oriented recommendations for addressing the challenges facing India’s teaching profession and, as a result, assisting in the achievement of the NEP 2020 vision and goal of “ensuring a quality education for all in the country.”
2.WHO: First Malaria Vaccine
#GS3-Health Scientific Innovations & Discoveries
- The World Health Organization (WHO) recently endorsed the world’s first Malaria Vaccine in the hopes of reviving stalled efforts to combat the parasitic disease’s spread.
- Malaria is a life-threatening parasitic disease spread by bites from infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It’s both preventable and treatable.
In depth information
- RTS,S/AS01, also known as Mosquirix, is an injectable malaria vaccine that targets P. falciparum, the most common strain in Africa. It is the first and only vaccine to provide partial protection in children under the age of five.
- GlaxoSmithKline, a British pharmaceutical company, created it in 1987.
- Mosquirix’s active ingredient is a protein found on the surface of Plasmodium falciparum parasites (PFP).
- When the PFP enters the human host’s bloodstream through a mosquito bite and infects liver cells, RTS,S aims to activate the immune system to defend against the first stages of malaria.
- It also aids in the prevention of Hepatitis B virus infection of the liver.
- Although the vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing severe instances of malaria in children is only around 30%, it is the only one that has been licenced.
- It was approved by the European Union’s pharmaceuticals agency in 2015, with the benefits outweighing the hazards.
- It has a few negative effects, including a fever that might lead to brief convulsions.
- Before reaching the age of two, a child must take four injections, often at intervals that do not correspond to the usual immunisation regimens for most other diseases.
- Partially Successful:
- From 2009 to 2014, testing on over 10,000 African children revealed that the vaccine only prevented about 40% of detectable malaria infections after four doses.
- It Doesn’t Last:
- Previous experiments followed vaccinated youngsters for four years, but it’s unknown how long even those very low levels of protection endure.
- Experts are also concerned that parents who have had their children vaccinated would be less diligent in using mosquito nets and less likely to seek medical help if their children develop fevers.
- Develop Resistance:
- The vaccine reduced the prevalence of severe malaria by approximately 30% and severe anaemia, a serious consequence that sometimes kills youngsters, by nearly 60%. It did not provide adequate protection against parasite strains with weak genetic matches, raising concerns that, like pharmaceuticals, parasites could develop resistance to the vaccination over time.
- The WHO-recommended malaria vaccine’s next steps will include global health community funding decisions for a broader rollout in endemic countries, as well as country decisions on whether to adopt the vaccine as part of national malaria control strategies.
3. Coal Shortage in India
- The power minister recently expressed concern about India’s coal shortage.
In depth information
- A sharp increase in energy demand has triggered an unprecedented fuel shortage at the country’s coal-fired power plants as the economy recovers from pandemic blows.
Availability at the moment
- With a total generation capacity of 14,875 MW, 15 of the 104 thermal plants monitored daily had zero days of coal stocks.
- Another 39 plants, totaling 52,530 MW, had stockpiles of less than three days.
- Another 6,960 MW of capacity is at risk of being shut down due to a lack of coal.
- Primary source of energy:
- Coal is India’s primary energy source, accounting for 57 percent of the country’s energy mix. This is unlikely to change anytime soon.
- Coal is expected to meet 42 percent of India’s new energy demand by 2040.
- Apart from the post-monsoon rise in demand and supply constraint, the coal issue has been exacerbated by a lack of stockpiles in April-June 2021, as well as a steep drop in imports due to high international coal prices.
- Similarly, the all-India electrical peak demand is usually recorded in October, following a monsoon-affected mining output slump.
Despite having large coal reserves, we must import nearly 170 million tonnes of coal.
Coal Block Allocation-That Isn’t Fair:
- Private enterprises are not permitted to mine coal for the purpose of selling it to third parties under the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act 1973, yet captive mining is permitted for specific end-use sectors
- There are political considerations in allowing private investment in the coal business, but it is simply not logical to prohibit private investment in coal when it is permitted in petroleum and natural gas.
- The Coal Mines Act of 1973 has been called for to be amended.
Mining in the Underground:
- Underground mines account for only 15% of India’s coal production.
- By 2030, the industry hopes to produce 30% of its total coal from underground mines.
- Given the looming challenges of forest clearance and land acquisition, serious efforts must be made to boost underground production by focusing on longwall technology and underground mine productivity.
Coal Pricing and Regulation:
- India has the world’s fifth-largest coal reserves.
- There are plans for massive power expansions that will require coal as a fuel source.
- There has, however, been no coal regulator.
- A Coal Regulatory Authority was proposed in 2008, but it was never implemented for unknown reasons.
- The amendments to the Mineral Concession Rules of 1960 are intended to benefit operators of 100 coal and lignite blocks with a 500-tonne annual production capacity.
- End-users of coal, such as steel and electricity companies, run captive mines.
- The amended laws created the door for more coal to be released into the market by maximising the use of captive coal and lignite blocks’ mining capacities, which were only partially utilised due to low coal production to meet their captive needs.
4.India and Henley Passport Index 2021
- India has been ranked 90th in the most powerful passport report ‘Henley Passport Index 2021’.
In depth information
About the Index:
- The Henley Passport Index is the first ranking of all passports in the world based on the number of countries to which their holders can travel without a visa.
- The rating is based on unique data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information. It was originally designed by Dr. Christian H. Kaelin (chairman of Henley & Partners).
- It was first issued in 2006 and now has a total of 199 different passports.
- Japan and Singapore stood at the top of this year’s list, with their passport holders allowed to travel visa-free to 192 countries, while South Korea and Germany share the second position.
- For the third consecutive year, Japan has secured the top position.
- Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen, on the other hand, are among the least powerful countries.
- India has dropped to 90th place, with its passport holders being able to travel visa-free to 58 countries.
- Tajikistan and Burkina Faso are tied for second place.
- In the January 2021 index, India was ranked 85th, followed by 84th in 2020 and 82nd in 2019.
5.Swadesh Darshan Scheme
- The Tourism Ministry recently sanctioned 5 projects worth Rs 325.53 crore for Buddhist circuit development under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme.
- As part of the Union government’s Dekho Apna Desh initiative, it has also organised a Buddhist Circuit Train FAM Tour.
- The tour visits Gaya-Bodhgaya in Bihar, Rajgir-Nalanda in Uttar Pradesh, and Sarnath-Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
In depth information
- Swadesh Darshan is a Central Sector Scheme that was initiated in 2014-15 with the goal of integrating the development of theme-based tourist circuits around the country.
- This scheme is intended to work in tandem with other initiatives such as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill India, and Make in India.
- The Ministry of Tourism offers Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to State Governments/Union Territory Administrations for the development of circuit infrastructure under the scheme.
- One of the scheme’s goals is to create integrated theme-based tourist circuits based on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness, and sustainability.
- Buddhist Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Desert Circuit, Eco Circuit, Heritage Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Krishna Circuit, North East Circuit, Ramayana Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Sufi Circuit, Tirthankar Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Wildlife Circuit have all been identified as tourism circuits under the scheme.