Sarat Chandra IAS Academy brings to you the daily current affairs keeping in mind the changing pattern of the UPSC civil services exam. UPSC Prelims and Mains exams mix the current affairs with static core concepts. So, we give the background explanation for every current topic.
TOPICS OF THE DAY:
- INFORMATION MANAGEMENT AND ANALYSIS CENTRE (IMAC)
- INDIA’S PUSH FOR GENDER EQUITY IN SCIENCE
- SUSTAINABLE PEATLAND MANAGEMENT AND FUTURE PANDEMIC
- CONTRACTION OF EIGHT CORE INDUSTRIES OUTPUT
- THE SANITATION AND HYGIENE
- MALNUTRITION IN INDIA
1) INFORMATION MANAGEMENT AND ANALYSIS CENTRE (IMAC):
Relevant to: Prelims GS #Mains: GS 2
Context: The Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) will soon become a National Maritime Domain Awareness (NDMA) centre, with all stakeholders having their presence there.
ABOUT IMAC AND ITS FUNCTIONS
IMAC, based in Gurgaon, was established in November 2014.
- It is the nodal centre for maritime security information collation and dissemination
- It is jointly operated by the Navy and Coast Guard and is the cornerstone of the National Command Control Communication and Intelligence Network for monitoring maritime traffic in India’s area of interest.
- IMAC’s task is to facilitate exchange of maritime security information among various national stakeholders, and generate a common operational picture.
- Since “threats in maritime domain have a transnational” character, IMAC feeds data from international sources as well.
- It is important to note that IMAC tracks only non-military or commercial ships, known as white shipping.
- Military ships, or grey hull ships, are tracked by the Directorate of Naval Operations, as this is on a classified network.
WHY WAS THE NEED FELT?
- The ten Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists who carried out the 26/11 attacks had entered Mumbai through the sea, using inflatable speedboats.
- In the aftermath of the attacks, “several vulnerabilities of coastal security came to the fore”, and IMAC was created so that “another dastardly act like the 26/11 attacks do not take place
2) INDIA’S PUSH FOR GENDER EQUITY IN SCIENCE
Relevant to:#Mains GS 2
Context: One of the focuses of the new Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, currently being drafted by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), will be to increase the participation of women in science. WHAT IS THE PLAN?
The DST will incorporate a system of grading institutes depending on the enrolment of women and the advancement of the careers of women faculty and scientists.The concept borrows from a programme started by the UK in 2005 called the Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s
Academic Network), which is now being adopted by many countries. The DST will soon launch a pilot, which the British Council has helped it develop.
WHAT IS THE PILOT BEING LAUNCHED?
• For the pilot, 25 institutes will be shortlisted to carry out self-assessment on gender equity in their departments.
• The British Council is assisting the DST and will facilitate collaboration between selected institutions under GATI with Athena SWAN-accredited institutions in the UK, with each institute here having a partner institute in the UK for guidance. WHAT IS ATHENA SWAN?
• The Athena SWAN Charter is an evaluation and accreditation programme in the UK enhancing gender equity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).
• Participating research organisations and academic institutions are required to analyse data on gender equity and develop action plans for improvement.
• The programme recognises such efforts with bronze, silver or gold accreditation
• . Institutions that sign up commit to addressing unequal gender representation; tackling the gender pay gap; removing the obstacles faced by women in career development and progression; discriminatory treatment often experienced by trans people; gender balance of committees and zero tolerance for bullying and sexual harassment.
WHY DOES INDIA NEED SUCH A PROGRAMME?
• In India, it will be called GATI (Gender Advancement through Transforming Institutions).
• India is ranked 108 out of 149 countries in the 2018 Global Gender Gap report
• . According to DST figures, in 2015-16, the share of women involved in scientific research and development was 14.71% — after it had actually increased from 13% in 2000-2001 to 29% in 2014-15.
• The DST has also found that women are either not promoted, or very often drop out mid-career to attend to their families. WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES AHEAD?
• To get as many institutions as possible to sign up, the DST will need to manoeuvre around government red tape as most universities, barring the IITs and NITs, are run and funded by the government as well.
• This means that these institutions don’t have direct control over institutional policies, recruitment and promotions.
• The DST has tied up with National Assessment and Accreditation Council, under the UGC, aiming to push gender equity through them.
• The DST plans to run intensive gender sensitisation programmes, especially for the top leadership of institutions, and work within existing rules such as pushing for women members on selection committees during recruitment processes. In the future, the DST is likely to consider policy changes such as those brought about in the UK providing financial incentives through grants to institutes.
3) SUSTAINABLE PEATLAND MANAGEMENT AND FUTURE PANDEMIC:
Relevant to: Prelims GS
Context: Sustainably managing peat lands — peat-swamp forests found around the tropics — can protect humans from future pandemics, according to a new study.
Peatlands were rich in biodiversity, including many potential vertebrate and invertebrate vectors, or carriers of disease, the study said. Risk of spreading zoonotic disease
- These included numerous vertebrates known to represent a risk of spreading zoonotic disease, such as bats, rodents, pangolins and primates. Zoonotic diseases are those that jump from animals to humans.
- These areas also faced high levels of habitat disruption such as wild or human-made fires and wildlife harvesting that were perfect conditions for potential zoonotic emerging infectious diseases (EID), it added. Examples from around the world.
- The first reported case of Ebola in 1976 was from a peatland area, as was the most recent outbreak in May 2020, it noted.
- The cradle of the HIV/AIDS pandemic was believed to be around Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, another area with extensive peatlands.
- Wildlife harvesting for consumption and trade was common in tropical forestnations. For instance, in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, fruit bats were captured in tropical peat-swamp forest areas and transported to local markets for sale as wild meat.
- High densities of domestic and semi-wild animals reared on peatlands could also serve as a direct or indirect zoonotic EID vector to humans, the study said. The ongoing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- Sustainably managing tropical peatlands and their wildlife was important for mitigating the impacts of the ongoing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the study said.
- The move would also help in reducing the potential for future zoonotic EID emergence and severity, it added.
- The study titled Tropical peatlands and their conservation are important in the context of COVID-19 and potential future (zoonotic) disease pandemics was published in the PeerJ journal November 17, 2020.
4) CONTRACTION OF EIGHT CORE INDUSTRIES OUTPUT:
Relevant to: Prelims GS
Context: Contracting for the eighth consecutive month, the output of eight core infrastructure sectors dropped by 2.5 per cent in October, mainly due to decline in production of crude oil, natural gas, refinery products and steel. KEY HIGHLIGHTS:
- The production of eight core sectors had contracted 5.5 per cent in October 2019. • While coal, fertiliser, cement and electricity recorded positive growth, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products and steel registered negative growth in the month under review.
- During April-October, the sectors’ output declined by 13 per cent as compared to a growth of 0.3 per cent in the same period of the previous year.
- The output of crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, and steel declined by 6.2 per cent, 8.6 per cent, 17 per cent, and 2.7 per cent, respectively.
- The growth rate in fertiliser production has declined to 6.3 per cent in October, from 11.8 per cent in the same month last year.
- On the other hand, the coal, cement and electricity sector output grew by 11.6 per cent, 2.8 per cent and 10.5 per cent, respectively, during the month under review.
- The output of these eight key sectors is in the negative zone since March.
- In September, the rate of contraction was 0.1 per cent. ABOUT CORE INDUSTRIES
- The eight core industries are coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertiliser, steel, cement and electricity.
- These together have a 40.27 per cent weight in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). INDEX OF INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION (IIP)
- The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an index which shows the growth rates in different industry groups of the economy in a stipulated period of time.
- The IIP index is computed and published by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) on a monthly basis.
- It is classified under: o Broad sectors, namely, Mining, Manufacturing and Electricity o Use-based sectors, namely Basic Goods, Capital Goods and Intermediate Goods. • Currently IIP figures are calculated considering 2011-12 as base year
5) The Sanitation and Hygiene Fund:
Relevant to: Prelims GS
Context: The United Nations launched the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund to provide accelerated funding to countries with the heaviest burden of diseases. Aim To provide accelerated funding to countries with the heaviest burden of diseases stemming from lack of sanitation services and have the least ability to respond to them.
- It also aims to raise $2 billion over the next five years for these countries.
The objectives of the Fund are:
- Expanding household sanitation
- Ensuring menstrual health and hygiene
- Providing sanitation and hygiene in schools and healthcare facilities
- Supporting innovative sanitation solutions.
Host: The fund is hosted by the UN Office for Project Services, which provides technical advice and project implementation to the UN and its partners.
6) Malnutrition in India:
Relevant to: #Mains GS2
Context: Malnutrition in India Key points:
- Two recent reports the annual report on “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020” by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and the 2020 Hunger report, “Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow” by the Bread for the World Institute document staggering facts about Indian food insecurity and malnutrition
- The reduction in poverty has been substantial going by official estimates available till 2011-12 . However, malnutrition has not declined as much as the decline has occurred in terms of poverty
- Despite the National Food Security Act 2013 ensuring every citizen “access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices”, two crucial elements that still got left out are the non -inclusion of nutritious food items such as pulses and exclusion of potential beneficiaries . Because of this, there is little to disagree that the current COVID -19 pandemic would make the situation worse in general, more so for vulnerable groups
- The problem of malnutrition is likely to deepen in the coming years with rising unemployment and the deep economic slump
- Hence,a major shift in policy has to encompass the immediate universalisation of the Public Distribution System which should definitely not be temporary in nature, along with the distribution of quality food items and innovative interventions such as the setting up of community kitchens among other things Conclusion This year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the United Nations World Food Programme which should bring some of the focus back on these pressing issues of undernourishment and hunger in India The need of the hour remains the right utilisation and expansion of existing programmes to ensure the needed .
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