02, May 2017

1.One IP- Two Dispensaries” and “Aadhaar Based Online Claim Submission” Schemes on International Labour Day

Source: PIB

Minister of  Labour and Employment launched two schemes “One IP- Two Dispensaries” and “Aadhaar based Online Claim Submission” on the occasion of International Labour Day.

The Government is Committed for Job Security, Wage Security and Social Security of the Workers

Significance of this Scheme:

  • Under One IP- Two Dispensaries scheme ESIC has given an option to an Insured Person (IP) to choose two dispensaries, one for self and another for family through an employer.
  • This will benefit all IPs, especially migrant workers who are working in other than home State, while their families are living in their native States.
  • Because of non-availability of option of second dispensary, the dependant members of family are often deprived of medical benefits.
  • By introducing the concept of ‘One IP- Two Dispensaries’, IP as well as their family members would now be able to get treatment from either of the dispensaries and in case of emergency from any ESI Institution.
  • As of now, around 3 crores IPs are covered under ESIC and total number of beneficiaries i.e. IPs and their family members is over 12 crores.

Under Aadhaar based Online Claim Submission scheme all EPF Members who have activated their UAN and seeded their KYC (Aadhaar) with EPFO will be able to apply for PF final settlement (form19), Pension withdrawal benefit (Form10-C) and PF part withdrawal (Form31) from the their UAN Interface directly.

2.The Armoured Corps Celebrates ‘79th Armour Day’

Source: PIB

The Armoured Corps celebrated its ‘79th ARMOUR DAY’ on 01 May 17.

  • The event commemorates the mechanization of the erstwhile Indian Cavalry on 01 May 1938, when the SCINDE HORSE became the first Indian Cavalry Regiment to stable its horses and convert to the Vickers Light Tank and Chevrolet Armoured Cars.
  • The elite ‘Tank’ Corps celebrated the DAY with serving & veterans officers’ fraternity of the Corps and other arms/services.
  • The elegant function truly epitomized traditional elan, camaraderie and all – round excellence that characterizes the Armoured Corps.
  • Organized, equipped and trained to effectively accomplish assigned mission in all types of conventional operations in varied terrain, the Armoured Corps also contributes substantially to the Army’s counter insurgency effort with a large representation in the Rashtriya Rifles and Assam Rifles.
  • It has a standing Contingent in the UN Peace Keeping Mission in Lebanon as its representatives amidst the blue beret fraternity.

3.Bhitarkanika National Park closed for crocodile breeding – Orissa (The park is home to Saltwater crocodiles)

Source: Indian Express

As per the latest head count of these animals, 1671 estuarine crocodiles were counted living along the Bhitarkanika’s water bodies.

  • With the onset of the breeding season of estuarine crocodiles, Bhitarkanika National Park authorities three-month-long prohibition on entry of tourists and visitors to the wetland sites of the park.
  • Prohibition is being imposed in view of the breeding season of salt-water crocodiles. Human interference would disturb the breeding animals.
  • As the reptiles often turn violent and attack intruders during breeding period, the authorities put this restriction to ensure the safety of humans and provide congenial environment to the breeding crocodiles, said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division.

4.Why immunise?

Source: The Hindu

For the first time, the government-run immunisation campaign — the measles-rubella (MR) drive — has faced challenges

Diseases such as polio, smallpox, and neonatal tetanus caused widespread disability and death among children worldwide. Clean water, sanitation, and access to health-care facilities alone could not have contained these deaths, so medical science came to the rescue.

Why Science is under siege?

  • India is free of these diseases because safe, effective vaccines were developed. That science is now under siege. With rumours taking hold of people’s faith, the health of children is at stake not only in India but also in developed nations in Europe and the U.S.
  • In a country of 1.2 billion people, with varying social and economic realities.
  • Vaccine-preventable diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, and measles are significant contributors to child morbidity and mortality in our country.
  • The risk is not only child death but also that children who do survive these disease are at risk of long-term effects such as suffering deafness, seizures, motor impairment, cognitive impacts and stunting.

Vaccines safety and Approval:

  • Today’s vaccines are safer and more effective than before. They are tested through rigorous and continuous scientific study — years and years of data collected from tens of thousands of children — before they are licensed for use.
  • Before a vaccine makes its way into the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP), the Health Ministry and other competent technical expert bodies analyse, discuss and deliberate on the vaccine’s safety and efficacy, among other key considerations.
  • The economic and social dividends awarded to the community are substantial — particularly when one considers that vaccines are able to reach the poorest and most vulnerable who are disproportionately impacted by the tragic consequences of a severe disease.

Why such UIP has been implemented?

  • Every year, 2.6 crore children are born in our country and immunising the population has far-reaching effects that influence parents’ confidence in the health system. If we are to reap the benefits of reduced child mortality and avoid inheriting a population stricken with disease, we have to ensure their good health and well-being.
  • When children are not vaccinated fully and on time, the entire community’s health is at risk. This has to be a group effort, involving national and State officials, doctors, parents, families, children, hospitals, health-care workers, and every citizen, and who can raise awareness around it.
  • Parents must ensure their children are vaccinated to protect not only their child but other Indian children as well.
  • With population growth, climate change, new infectious diseases, antibiotic resistance and several new threats emerging each day, the need for new vaccines is urgent. Now is the time for all to work together to safeguard the health of our children, our future, and our India.

UIP:

  • Under UIP, Government of India is providing vaccination free of cost against ten vaccine preventable diseases i.e. Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, severe form of Childhood Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and Meningitis & Pneumonia caused by Hemophilus Influenza type B across the country.
  • MR(Measles-Rubella) vaccine will be provided free- of- cost across the states from session sites at schools as well as health facilities and outreach session sites. Measles vaccine is currently provided under Universal Immunization Programme (UIP)

Way ahead:

Vaccines are technological advancements that will enable India to look forward to a healthier future and help secure India’s position among other strong and economically contributing nations.

5.Fortified foods to tackle malnutrition

Source: The Hindu

Malnutrition isn’t just about acute starvation. Often, healthy-looking people are malnourished too, because their diet does not include the right micronutrients.

In severe forms, such deficiencies can have serious effects. For instance, iron deficiency leads to critical problems during pregnancy, and not enough Vitamin A can lead to poor vision, infections, and skin problems.

Issues:

  • To tackle the issue, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) released a set of standards and a logo last year. Since then, it has focussed on awareness- and consensus-building. Now, a number of enterprises will begin adding premixes of micronutrients to launch fortified foods.
  • Milk cooperatives in Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Assam and Maharashtra will fortify their products too. Targeting children, the Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh governments have begun using fortified oil for their mid-day meal schemes.
  • West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands are now distributing fortified wheat flour through the public distribution system, and the Maharashtra government has started a pilot project.

National Summit on Fortification of Food

Five categories of staple foods and micronutrients under focus were:

  • Wheat flour-Iron, Folic acid , Zinc, Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pyridoxine
  • Rice-Iron, Folic acid, Zinc, Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pyridoxine
  • Milk-Vitamin A and Vitamin D
  • Oil-Vitamin A and Vitamin D
  • Salt-Iodine or double fortified with Iodine and Iron

Background:

Food fortification: Opinion of certifying the salience of fortified foods to combat malnutrition.

  • The first documented evidence of food fortification was in the early 1900s in the US when vitamin B3 was added to coarsely ground corn — the staple of the poor in the country — to help combat the rise of pellagra, a disease caused by the deficiency of this vitamin.
  • In Britain, after the First World War, the government ordered vitamins A and D to be added to margarine because butter had become a scarce commodity in the country.
  • In India, food fortification began in the early 1960s when iodine was added to salt to combat goiter. But while the UK and the US and many other countries have stringent standards on food fortification, India has been slow to get its act together.

View  of the government’s recent emphasis:

The FSSAI’s indecisiveness is especially troubling in view of the government’s recent emphasis on fortified food

  • Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare announced that fortified food would be a key element in the government’s fight against malnutrition.
  • Programmes such as the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Scheme and the Public Distribution System would be mandated to buy and distribute fortified food.

A WORLD FREE FROM HIDDEN HUNGER

  • Fortifying a variety of foods with essential micronutrients is one of those ideas, and Nutrition International has led the charge in building a global food fortification network.
  • Food fortification has been identified by the World Health Organization, the Copenhagen Consensus and the Food and Agriculture Organization as one of the top four strategies for decreasing micronutrient malnutrition at the global level. Nutrition International is supporting this strategy through a number of fortification programs, including salt iodization, grain and oil fortification.

Food fortification is aimed at compensating for what’s not available in local diets caused by such factors as micronutrient deficient foods due to poor soil conditions, lack of access to nutritious food and poverty.

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6.Six tigers to be relocated to Buxa Tiger Reserve

Source: The Hindu

Six tigers would be relocated to Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR) in north Bengal from neighbouring Assam as part of a plan for augmentation of tiger population in the reserve which was approved by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

Main causes for relocation:

  • The relocation of wild tigers should only be considered when the factors, such as poaching and anthropogenic pressure, that have caused the low population and local extirpation of the species have been addressed.
  • The tiger reserve has suffered from shortage of frontline staff, lack of protection, largescale illegal grazing, forest fires, constant anthropogenic pressure, widespread tree felling, dolomite mining (largely across the border in Bhutan but which affects the landscape).

7.Curious case of dip, rise in Indian seas

Source: The Hindu

A team of scientists have found decadal variations in temperatures of North Indian Ocean waters.

The NIO consists of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and part of the Indian Ocean up till the 5°S latitude.

Highlights:

  • From 1993 to 2003 — the first decade when satellites started to consistently track the rise and fall of ocean heights and global temperatures soared — the North Indian Ocean (NIO) sea levels fell.
  • After 2004, sea levels began an unprecedented, accelerated spike till 2014.
  • This rise and fall was even as global temperatures steadily climbed and registered their largest two-decadal jump in more than a century.
  • Scientists associated with the study said that such a “decadal swing” in the North Indian Ocean was unique and never observed in either the Pacific or Atlantic oceans.
  • Scientists say wind flows, which welled warm water on the Indian Ocean surface, changed directions every decade and probably influenced sea level patterns. It could be that coming decades — in spite of rapid, rising temperatures — will see a fall in sea levels but that’s still hypothetical.

Reasons for rise in sea level temperatures:

  • Sea levels primarily rise due to water expanding from atmospheric heat and, more water being added from, for instance, melting ice sheets and glaciers. In this case, 70% of the NIO’s warming could be explained by expansion.
  • Unlike the Pacific and Atlantic, the NIO is hemmed in all sides, except for an outlet on the southern side. This influenced the rate at which heat was absorbed and flushed out from within the system.

8.Novel methods to increase horticulture output

Source: The Hindu

The Andhra Pradesh government wants to promote ‘fertigation’ (micro-irrigation integrated with water soluble fertilizer) which will increase the returns of the fruit farmers by 35%.

Benefits:

  • According to a third party evaluation of the impact of micro irrigation on the net returns to farmers conducted by the NABCONS Consultancy Services and Agriculture Finance Corporation (AFC), there has been a minimum of 25% increase in net income per hectare due to micro-irrigation.
  • Mango showed the highest increase of 50% on net income including the saving on water and energy. The following are the crops and the percentage increase in net return on income due to the impact of micro irrigation: mango 50%, sweet orange 27%, acid lime 25%, guava 25%, banana 42 %, papaya 27%, vegetables 40%, tomato 39%, maize 22% and mulberry 40 %.
  • The State government is implementing strategies to make Rayalaseema as a horticulture hub.
  • The government has set for itself a target of covering 10 lakh farmers in the next three years under the Farmer Producer Organisations (FPO) for agriculture and allied sectors for the formation of linkages to market the State’s products, globally.

Other than Income:

  • The benefits of fertigation over the conventional or drop-fertilizing methods include increased nutrient absorption, reduction of fertilizer and water needed and greater control in the application of nutrients.
  • There is a reduction in soil erosion because the nutrients are pumped through the water drip system. Leaching of nutrients from the soil is also decreased.



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