September 2019

Daily Current Affairs (07-09-19)

TRANSFORMATION OF ASPIRATIONAL  DISTRICT PROGRAMME

Related Topics: Government Schemes, NITI Aayog

News

The apex body for child rights, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), is visiting 117 Aspirational Districts to hold public meetings on complaints affecting children pertaining to education, health and nutrition as well as lack of infrastructure.

What is Aspirational Districts Programme?

  • The Government of India has launched the ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ initiative in January, 2018 under its think tank NITI Aayog.
  • The programme focuses on transforming the districts that have witnessed the least progress along certain development parameters.
  • The three core principles of the programme are – Convergence (of Central & State Schemes), Collaboration (among citizens and functionaries of Central & State Governments including district teams), and Competition among districts.
  • Driven primarily by the States, this initiative focuses on the strengths of each district, and prioritizes the attainable outcomes for immediate improvement.

Selection Criteria

  • The districts were identified in a transparent manner by a committee of Senior Officers to the Government of India, in consultation with State Officials.
  • The selection was done using a composite index of key data sets that included deprivation enumerated under the Socio-Economic Caste Census, key health and education sector performance and state of basic infrastructure.
  • Government has selected about 35 districts which are “affected by Left Wing Extremism” on the advice of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Need for the Programme

  • There is a widespread disparity in development indicators among various regions of the country.
  • Pockets of under-development poses challenge to Sustainable high growth, Inclusive Growth, Meeting SDG commitment.
  • Earlier programmes/schemes were infested by certain loopholes, including lack of convergence, absence of centralised monitoring mechanism, only a fraction of sanctioned amount reaching the districts, lack of availability of real time data, lack of people’s participation and above all the ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Areas of Focus

  • The programme aims for overall transformation of the districts using mass movement
  • Different districts have different strength and weakness and detail of district level plans would vary.
  • The programme seeks to focus in following sectors as these are important for all districts:

a) Health and Nutrition

b) Education

c) Agriculture and Water Resources

d) Financial inclusion and skill development

e) Basic Infrastructure including access to road, potable water, rural electrification and individual household toilets.

Core Strategy

  • States as main drivers
  • Work on the strength of each district.
  • Make development as a mass movement in these districts.
  • Identify low hanging fruits and the strength of each district, to act as a catalyst for development.
  • Measure progress and rank districts to spur a sense of competition.
  • Districts shall aspire to become State’s best to Nation’s best.

Baseline Ranking & Real-time Monitoring 

  • The NITI Aayog launched the baseline ranking for the Aspirational Districts based on the published data of 49 indicators (81 data points) across five developmental areas with different weightages.
  • The dashboard is designed, developed, and maintained by the Planning Department of the Government of Andhra Pradesh.
  • The ranking of districts is dynamic and would reflect the incremental (delta) improvement made month on month.
  • The first Delta ranking (incremental progress) for the Aspirational Districts, based on self-reported data of districts between March 31, 2018 to May 31, 2018, was launched by NITI Aayog in June 2018.
[Source: The Hindu, PIB, championsofchange.gov]

 

INDIA AMONG TOP 10 NATIONS IN GOLD RESERVES

Related Topics: Gold Reserves, World Gold Council

News

  • According to the World Gold Council, India is among top ten countries in terms of total gold reserves and has gold reserves totalling 618.2 tonnes.

Global Ranking

  • U.S. leads the country list with total gold reserves of 8,133.5 tonnes followed by Germany with 3,366.8 tonnes.
  • While the IMF is ranked third with a holding of 2,451.8 tonnes, it is followed by countries such as Italy (2,451.8 tonnes), France (2,436.1 tonnes), Russia (2,219.2 tonnes), China (1,936.5 tonnes), Switzerland (1,040 tonnes) and Japan (765.2 tonnes) before India at the 10th spot.
  • Pakistan has seen its standing unchanged at the 45th position with total gold reserves of 64.6 tonnes.

India’s Gold Reserve

  • In terms of individual countries, India actually ranks ninth since the International Monetary Fund (IMF) occupies the third position after the U.S. and Germany.
  • When the WGC reported the country-wise reserves in March 2019, India’s gold holding was pegged at 607 tonnes.
  • India’s gold reserves have grown substantially in the past couple of decades from 8 tonnes in the first quarter of 2000 to the current 618.2 tonnes.
  • India’s entry into the list of top ten countries (ranked 10th) comes at a time when the quantum of monthly purchases is the lowest in over three years.

[Source: The Hindu]

 

CRANIOPAGUS TWINS

Related Topics: Rare Diseases, Science & Technology

News

India’s only successfully separated craniopagus twins from Odisha — Jagga and Balia — were discharged from the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), two years after they were admitted, operated and started on rehabilitation at the hospital.

Craniopagus Conjoined Twin Separation Surgery

  • This was the first successful craniopagus conjoined twin separation surgery from India wherein both the children had survived.
  • Worldwide only 10-15 children have survived after surgical separation of this condition in the last 50 years.
  • All modern adjuncts of technology for surgical planning, 3D print model technology for brain and skull model development, venous bypass, staged surgeries and continuous post-operative care was provided by the craniopagus team of over 75 doctors and 50 nursing/support team staff at AIIMS.

About Craniopagus Twins

  • They are conjoined twins that are fused at the cranium.
  • It is a rare congenital defect that occurs in 0.6 of every 1 million births.
  • Conjoined twins who are classified as craniopagus have either partial fusion, which consists of a connection between the skin, skull, or dura, or total fusion, in which the connection extends deep to the dura to involve the vasculature or brain parenchyma.
  • The presence of a shared superior sagittal sinus is the most critical aspect of the fusion because it will affect surgical planning and the chance of achieving a successful separation.
[Source: The Hindu, nejm.org]

 

GREAT INDIAN BUSTARD

Related Topics: Environment & Biodiversity, National Green Tribunal (NGT)

News

  • Noting the high mortality rate of the Great Indian Bustard, NGT has directed the Centre to prepare a time-bound action plan within two months for protection of the birds.
  • NGT also constituted a joint committee comprising officials of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Ministry of Power and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
  • The committee was asked to prepare an action plan for the implementation of suggestions put forth by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
  • A recent study suggests that, Great Indian Bustard population has been falling continuously, from around 1,260 in 1969 to less than 200 in 2018.

About the Species

  • The Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis Nigriceps), one of the heaviest flying birds, can weigh up to 15 kg and grow up to one metre in height.
  • Great Indian Bustard is the state bird of Rajasthan.
  • It is popularly known as ‘Godawan’.

Habitat

  • Arid and semi-arid grasslands, open country with thorn scrub, tall grass interspersed with cultivation. It avoids irrigated areas.
  • It is endemic to Indian Sub-continent, found in central India, western India and eastern Pakistan.
  • Currently, it is found in only six states in the country — Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka.

Protection

  • The bird was categorised as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in July 2011.
  • It is listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife(Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Protection under CITES Appendix I.

Significance

  • It is an indicator species for grassland
  • Its gradual disappearance from such environments shows their deterioration.
  • Once the species is lost, there will be no other species to replace it.
  • This will affect the stability of ecosystem of the grassland and affect critical bio-diversities, as well as blackbucks and wolves, who share their habitat with the Great Indian Bustard.

Threats

Hunting, poaching, habitat erosion, ‘greening’ projects that transform arid grasslands to wooded areas, change of land use from grassland to farmland, collisions with high tension electric wires, fast moving vehicles and free-ranging dogs in villages

Conservation Efforts

  • It’s one of the Species for the Recovery Programme under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.
  • Rajasthan, home to one of the last remaining populations of the Great Indian Bustard, has charted out a plan to recover the population of the critically endangered bird.
  • Rajasthan government has started “Project Godawan” for its conservation at Desert National Park (DNP) in Jaisalmer.
  • The project aims at identifying and fencing off bustard breeding grounds in existing protected areas as well as providing secure breeding enclosures in areas outside protected areas.

[Source: The Hindu, Down To Earth]

 

FACTS OF THE DAY

INDIA – SOUTH KOREA LOGISTICS PACT

India and South Korea have signed two major agreements to further defence educational exchanges and extend logistical support to each other’s Navies. The agreements will help enhance defence co-operation between two countries. The two countries also formulated a forward-looking road map to take bilateral defence industry cooperation to the next level. India will be able to get assured logistic support when it operates in the Indo-Pacific in the ports of South Korea. The agreement will extend the reach, presence and sustainability of Navy ships when deployed at great distances from home ports.

ROBERT MUGABE

Former president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe has died at the age of 95. Mugabe was a former guerrilla chief who took power after the end of white minority rule in 1980. Mugabe was celebrated as an African liberation hero and champion of racial reconciliation when he first came to power in a nation divided by nearly a century of white colonial rule. He was ousted in a military coup in November 2017, ending three decades in power.

PROFESSOR POINTER

After the very successful and international media safety award winning Pappu Zebra road sense project, the Kerala police has launched its Cyber Safety awareness programme; Professor Pointer – The Answer to Cyber Issues. The programme is primarily aimed at warning students of the dangers of cyberspace. The campaign will use animation films, picture stories, and posters to reach out to students and parents. Professor Pointer is the brainchild of Artist Nandan Pillai, who created Pappu Zebra too. The name was suggested by Additional Director General of Police Manoj Abraham, the nodal officer of CyberDome.

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