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Current Events 22 January 2017

 

NEWS

22 JANUARY 2017 

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II : SOCIAL - EDUCATION

Hands of — AIIMS, Bhopal, medicos operate on dummies

2.

GS I: CULTURE

CM to flag off jallikattu in Madurai, after ordinance

3.

GS I : ART AND CULTURE

After jallikattu, it is kambala’s turn

4.

GS III :   ECONOMY

Tax deduction limit for PF withdrawal to go up

5.

GS II:  SOCIAL - HEALTH

Swine flu on the rise in Hyderabad

6.

GS III: S&T  HEALTH

Will the superbug scare hit home

7.

GS III:  S&T - HEALTH

Highly pungent capsicum varieties have higher antioxidant property

8.

GS III:  S&T - HEALTH

MRI twice as likely as biopsy to spot prostate cancer

9.

GS III:  S&T - IT

New AI system can see like humans

10.

GS I : GEOGRAPHY

Heat moves tectonic plates

11.

GS III :  SECURITY

Assam Rifles selects 75 from Mizoram Bru refugee camps

12.

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA -PAKISTAN

India asked to stop work on J&K hydro projects

13.

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA -JAPAN

Japan threatens to drag India to WTO on steel as Trump era heralds trade tensions

14.

GS II : REGULATORY BODIES

SEBI reviews rules for removal of firms’ independent directors

15.

GS III : S&T SPACE

How ISRO plans to launch 103 satellites on a single rocket

16.

GS III : S&T SPACE

A sunspot with centre twice the size of Earth

17.

GS III:  S&T - HEALTH

New technique for faster diagnosis of HIV

18.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT  CLIMATE CHANGE

‘Massive Antarctic ice shelf ready to break’

GS II : SOCIAL – EDUCATION

Hands off — AIIMS, Bhopal, medicos operate on dummies

  • Thirteen years after the foundation stone was laid and five years after the first batch of students was admitted, Bhopal’s AIIMS is yet to get a licence to open a blood bank.
  • Without a blood bank, the emergency department cannot be operational. Other crucial departments like surgery and gynaecology are not functional either.
  • All of which, students say, has affected their learning. Some faculty members share the students’ frustration.
  • Explained a professor, requesting anonymity, “To get into AIIMS is not easy. These are among the brightest students in the country. From the third year on, students are supposed to spend the first half of their day in hospital, learning practical skills, and attending lectures during the second half.
  • Not a single one of my students has learnt these practical skills or assisted in surgery. They have only observed surgeries in other hospitals.” At AIIMS, Bhopal, the practice has been to take batches of four students to nearby government hospitals and get them to watch how operating theatres work. This is not the same as assisting and learning, added the faculty member.
  • They are then taught the same process on a dummy and taught the theory component.
  • India now has 11 AIIMS like institutions. The promise is to open an AIIMS in each State under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojna (PMSSY).
  • None of them are fully functional but Bhopal is the closest to completion.
  • As the Bhopal project nears “completion”, the Central government has announced eight more AIIMS, taking the total to 19.
  • According to AIIMS, Bhopal’s annual report, of the 305 positions sanctioned, only 57 are filled. Out of the 4081 positions in the institute, including non-teaching staff, nursing and resident doctors, only 446 have been filled.
  • Yet, the hospital saw 2,69,246 OPD patients between April 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016, an average of about 840 per day. Most patients were referred to other centres, if they required emergency or surgical intervention.

GS I: CULTURE

CM to flag off jallikattu in Madurai, after ordinance

  •  The Tamil Nadu government stepped up preparations for the conduct of jallikattu in Madurai and other parts of the State following the Governor’s approval for the ordinance proposing amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960).
  • An official release from the Raj Bhavan said that considering “the sentiments of Tamils and to protect their cultural right and having regard to the grave and volatile situation prevailing in the State and in the best interest of maintaining law and order," it had been decided to promulgate the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Ordinance, 2017.

GS I : ART AND CULTURE

After jallikattu, it is kambala’s turn

  • With an Ordinance promulgated to lift the ban on jallikattu (bull-taming) in Tamil Nadu, the demand for lifting the ban on kambala — buffalo racing — is gaining momentum in coastal Karnataka.
  • The State government in November 2016 informed the High Court, during the hearing of a PIL petition filed by PETA, that it had withdrawn the permission given to hold kambala based on the Supreme Court’s order on jallikattu.
  • The hearing on the petition is scheduled for January 30.
  • While the buffalo race was a development in the last four decades, traditional kambala was over 1,000 years old
  • A kambala organiser said kambala could be “saved” as its ban was a fallout of the ban on jallikattu.

Kambala

  • Kambala  is an annual Buffalo Race (he-buffalo) held traditionally under the auspicies of local land lords and households (Aramane, Beedu, Guthu/Mane, Dodmane) or Patel of village, in coastal Karnataka.
  • The Kambala season generally starts in November and lasts until March.

GS III :   ECONOMY

Tax deduction limit for PF withdrawal to go up

  • The Labour Ministry has sought a fourfold increase in the threshold limit for tax deduction on provident fund withdrawals, from the existing ?.50,000 to ?.2 lakh, in the coming Budget.
  • This means that if the proposal gets a go-ahead, you may be able to withdraw provident fund savings of up to ?.2 lakh without any tax deduction even if you have not completed five years of continuous service.
  • At present, provident fund withdrawals of more than ?.50,000 before completing five years in service attracts income tax of up to 34.608%.
  • The Centre had last year increased the threshold limit of PF withdrawal for deduction of tax (TDS) from ?. 30,000 to ?. 50,000.

Pan Card requirement:

  • The Labour Ministry has also requested the Finance Ministry to remove tax deduction of 34.608%, known as the maximum marginal rate, for workers who do not furnish PAN card details.
  • While a 10% tax is deducted for workers disclosing PAN details, 34.608% tax is deducted for workers who do not have a PAN card.
  • The Finance Act of 2015 had first introduced the deduction of income tax on payment of accumulated provident fund balance due to an employee with less than five years of service.

Retrospective service tax exemption:

  • The Labour Ministry has also sought retrospective service tax exemption for the EPF scheme. EPFO was exempted from the purview of service tax from April 2016.
  • The Labour Ministry has now said the exemption should come into effect retrospectively arguing that EPF is a social security scheme and doesn’t come in the category of ‘banking and financial services.’

Employees Provident Fund Organisation

  • The Employees Provident Fund Organisation (abbreviated to EPFO), is an Organization tasked to assist the Central Board of Trustees, a statutory body formed by the Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 and is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India.
  • EPFO assists the Central Board in administering a compulsory contributory Provident Fund Scheme, a Pension Scheme and an Insurance Scheme for the workforce engaged in the organized sector in India.
  • It is also the nodal agency for implementing Bilateral Social Security Agreements with other countries on a reciprocal basis.
  • The schemes cover Indian workers as well as International workers (for countries with which bilateral agreements have been signed.
  • As of now 17 Social Security Agreements are operational.
  • It is one of the largest social security organisations in India in terms of the number of covered beneficiaries and the volume of financial transactions undertaken.
  • The EPFOs apex decision making body is the Central Board of Trustees (CBT).

GS II:  SOCIAL - HEALTH

Swine flu on the rise in Hyderabad

  • With one more death and a confirmed case of infection in an infant, swine flu cases in Hyderabad are on a steady climb.
  • The four deaths — all women — were reported at the Gandhi Hospital. Two women were below 40.

 

GS III: S&T  HEALTH

Will the superbug scare hit home?

  • The suspected Indian superbug link to an American woman’s death underscores the urgent need for a national action plan to execute the existing framework for combating antimicrobial resistance
  • An incurable bacterial infection, believed to have been contracted from one of India’s hospitals, is said to have killed the the U.S. woman in September 2016.
  • During the two years before her death in 2016, the woman was hospitalised multiple times in India for treatment of her fractured right thigh bone.
  • Following an emergency hospitalisation in the U.S. in August 2016, testing of a wound sample for antibiotic susceptibility found the infection-causing bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae, which was resistant to all antibiotics available in the U.S.
  • In its description of the woman’s case, the CDC rather conservatively termed resistance to all 26 antibiotics, including the last-resort antibiotic colistin, “very uncommon”.
  • The agency stated that in the more than 250 isolates of Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), including K. pneumoniae isolated from the U.S. woman, that it had tested, susceptibility of infection-causing bacteria to at least one of the antibiotics in use was seen in 80% of the cases, while 90% of the samples contained bacteria that could be treated by tigecycline, an antibiotic specifically developed for multidrug-resistant bacteria.
  • The Indian connection to the woman’s death was not restricted to the origin of her infection; the killer superbug’s resistance was attributed to a gene that produces an enzyme now popularly called New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase-1 or NDM-1. As its name suggests, the enzyme was first seen in a person who, according to the 2009 study that described the enzyme and the gene coding for it, had undergone a surgical procedure in 2007 at a New Delhi hospital.
  • NDM-1 helps bacteria fend off carbapenems, a group of powerful antibiotics originally capable of killing several bacilli species.
  • What makes NDM-1 frightening is that it is known to be transferred horizontally across bacterial species.

Multidrug-resistance in India

  • Encountering multidrug-resistant bacteria is fairly common in India.
  • In 2016, K. pneumoniae made headlines when it caused varying degree of vision loss in a dozen elderly patients who underwent cataract surgeries at the state-run Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital in Hyderabad.
  • Though the bacterium was found to be sensitive to Imipenem, a carbapenem antibiotic, the antibiotic could not help restore vision. An investigation found the bacteria in RL solution, which is used to wash the eyes during cataract procedure.
  • Consequently, reports of colistin resistance from India in recent years have increased as dependence on it grows due to widespread resistance to other antibiotics.

Lack of an action plan

  • Large public hospitals in India — often the only point of care for most Indians — do not have comprehensive policies concerning antibiotic use and infection control.
  • In private conversations with the writer, doctors at one of the two biggest government hospitals in Hyderabad have confided rampant irrational and incorrect antibiotic prescription practices within the institution, highlighting need for hospital-level policies.
  • Irrational antibiotic use both among humans and animals is recognised as one of biggest drivers of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
  • The World Health Organisation reported in the findings of a 2015 multi-country survey that 75% of respondents in India said they believed antibiotics treated flu and only 58% reported they knew use of antibiotics should only be stopped when the prescribed course ends.
  • WHO has said candidly in the past that India lacks a National Action Plan to combat AMR.
  • However, a policy to combat antimicrobial resistance has been in place for more than five years.
  • It envisages

1.     a separate schedule for antibiotics to prevent sale without prescription,

2.     hospital surveillance systems for monitoring resistance,

3.     enforcement of regulation in veterinary use of antibiotics and

4.     rational prescription of antimicrobials through evidence-based medicine.

  • Sans an action plan, the policy remains unimplemented.
  • The National Centre for Disease Control is now formulating a pilot plan.

 GS III : S&T HEALTH

Highly pungent capsicum varieties have higher antioxidant property

  • A team of Indian researchers from the School of Life Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University and other institutions has successfully decoded the molecular basis of extreme fiery hot (pungency) property of Bhut jolokia (Capsicum chinense) which is native of northeast India; Bhut jolokia has the highest pungency level in the world.
  • In the study, many varieties belonging to C. chinense, C. frutescens, C. annuum were studied and comparative analysis carried out for pungency, vitamins and other metabolites.
  • The high level of pungency and vitamins was found to be positively correlated with high antioxidant activities — the higher the pungency of the capsicum variety the higher was its antioxidant property.
  • The scavenging property is useful in humans and animals as it neutralises the free radicals which are otherwise harmful.
  • The team identified crucial genes involved in pungency development.

GS III:  S&T - HEALTH

MRI twice as likely as biopsy to spot prostate cancer

  • Every man with suspected prostate cancer should have an MRI scan; this is twice as likely to identify the presence of dangerous tumours as the invasive biopsy used currently, say doctors.
  • Researchers funded by Prostate Cancer UK, an organisation that funds research in prostate cancer and works to promote awareness among the public, have shown that an MRI picks up 93% of aggressive cancers, compared with 48% for a biopsy.
  • The biopsy, which removes a sample of tissue for lab testing, often misses the tumour altogether.

 

GS III : S&T   IT

New AI system can see like humans

  • Researchers from Northwestern University built the new computational model on CogSketch, an artificial intelligence platform, that has the ability to solve visual problems and understand sketches in order to give immediate and interactive feedback.
  • Researchers noted that developing artificial intelligence systems that have this ability not only provides new evidence for the importance of symbolic representations and analogy in visual reasoning, but it could potentially shrink the gap between computer and human cognition.
  • “Most artificial intelligence research today concerning vision focuses on recognition or labelling what is in a scene rather than reasoning about it,” Forbus noted.
  • The key to higher-order cognition is the ability to use and understand sophisticated relational representations.
  • “Relational representations connect entities and ideas such as ‘the clock is above the door’ or ‘pressure diferences cause water to flow’
  • These types of comparisons are crucial for making and understanding analogies, which humans use to solve problems, weigh moral dilemmas, and describe the world around them,” the study published in journal Psychological Review, noted.

GS I : GEOGRAPHY

Heat moves tectonic plates

  • New research in Science Advances shows that the movement of Earth’s tectonic plates is driven by heat from its core.
  • This challenges a longstanding theory that they move because of negative buoyancy caused as they cool.

GS III :  SECURITY

Assam Rifles selects 75 from Mizoram Bru refugee camps

  • Paramilitary force Assam Rifles has initiated the recruitment of tribal evacuees from Mizoram, presently housed in north Tripura.
  • The refugees continue to reside in camps in Tripura after successive attempts to repatriate them failed.
  • Assam Rifles, the world’s oldest paramilitary force engaged in counter insurgency and security operations in northeast India, provides support for young tribal men to enroll in the armed forces, mainly the army.
  • It selected 75 tribal youths from three of the seven camps of about 33,000 Bru or Reang displaced people.
  • Naisingpara is the largest campus meant for Bru residents, who entered Tripura in 1997 following ethnic turmoil in Mizoram.

Assam Rifles

  • The Assam Rifles is the oldest paramilitary force of India.
  • The unit can trace its lineage back to a paramilitary police force that was formed under the British in 1835 called Cachar Levy.
  • It is under the control of the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and they perform many roles including the provision of internal security under the control of the army through the conduct of counter insurgency and border security operations, provision of aid to the civil power in times of emergency, and the provision of communications, medical assistance and education in remote areas.
  • In times of war they can also be used as a combat force to secure rear areas if needed.
  • Since 2002 it has been guarding the Indo–Myanmar barrier as per the government policy "one border one force".

GS II : BILATERLA INDIA-PAKISTAN

India asked to stop work on J&K hydro projects

  • Pakistans two parliamentary committees in a rare joint resolution asked India to immediately suspend work on two hydropower projects in Jammu and Kashmir and agree on the constitution of an arbitration court to resolve the water dispute.
  • The resolution also called upon the World Bank to constitute a court of arbitration to adjudicate on issues raised by Pakistan against Indias ongoing construction of Kishanganga and Ratle hydro projects.

Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant 

  • Kishanganga dam is part of a run-of-the-river hydroelectric scheme that is designed to divert water from the Kishanganga River to a power plant in the Jhelum River basin.
  • It will have an installed capacity of 330 MW.
  • Construction on the project began in 2007.
  • Construction on the dam was temporarily halted by the Hagues Permanent Court of Arbitration in October 2011 due to Pakistans protest of its effect on the flow of the Kishanganga River (called the Neelum River in Pakistan).
  • In February 2013, the Hague ruled that India could divert a minimum amount of water for power generation.


 

Ratle Hydroelectric Plant

  • It is a run-of-the-river hydroelectric power station currently under construction on the Chenab River, downstream of the village of Ratle in Doda district in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The project includes a 133 m (436 ft) tall gravity dam and two power stations adjacent to one another.
  • The installed capacity of both power stations will be 850 MW.
  • In 2013, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone for the dam.
  • Pakistan opposes to project as they believe it is in violation of the Indus Water Treaty.


Baglihar Hydroelectric Power Project

  • It is a run-of-the-river power project on the Chenab River in the southern Doda district of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The project is estimated to cost USD $1 billion.
  • This project was conceived in 1992, approved in 1996 and construction began in 1999.
  • After construction began in 1999, Pakistan claimed that design parameters of Baglihar project violated the Indus Water Treaty of 1960.
  • The treaty provided India with exclusive control over three eastern rivers, while granting Pakistan exclusive control over three western rivers, including Chenab River. However it contained provisions for India to establish run-of-the-river power projects with limited reservoir capacity and flow control needed for feasible power generation.
  • The first phase of the Baglihar Dam was completed in 2004.
  • With the second phase completed on 10 October 2008, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India dedicated the 900-MW Baglihar hydroelectric power project to the nation.

GS II : REGULATORY BODIES

SEBI reviews rules for removal of firms’ independent directors

  • The ongoing boardroom tussle in the Tata Group has compelled the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to review the norms for removal of independent directors in listed companies.
  • At the SEBI board meet held on January 14, the capital market watchdog took note of the fact that promoters by virtue of their majority holding in large listed companies can easily remove an independent director.
  • An internal note presented to the SEBI board stated that the regulator should evaluate the option of barring the promoters from voting on resolutions seeking removal of independent directors.
  • “It is felt that the present provisions make the removal process less stringent than the appointment process. Therefore, since a special resolution is required for the re-appointment of an independent director, the same principle should be applied for his removal also i.e special resolution may be made necessary,” according to an internal note prepared by SEBI, which was presented to the board.
  • At present there is no restriction on promoters to vote on such kind of resolutions, it said referring to the current regulatory framework for removal of independent directors.
  • The capital market regulator has brought this issue to the notice of Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) as well, based on the letters it received from Nusli Wadia who was removed as an independent director from Tata Motors, Tata Steel and Tata Chemicals.

GS III : SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

How ISRO plans to launch 103 satellites on a single rocket

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will set a record when it launches 103 satellites in one go on a single rocket, PSLV C37, in February 2017, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
  • With the exception of three satellites from India, the rest are from other countries.
  • In June 2016, ISRO launched 20 satellites in one go. It took about 26 minutes to launch all the 20 satellites.
  • The highest number of satellites launched in a single mission so far has been 37 by Russia in 2014; NASA launched 29 satellites in one go in 2013.

GS III : S&T  SPACE

A sunspot with centre twice the size of Earth

  • A new view of the dark, contorted centre of a sunspot that is nearly twice the diameter of the Earth, along with other invisible details of our Sun, has been unveiled by scientists.
  • The results are an important expansion of the range of observations that can be used to probe the physics of our nearest star.
  • The Atacama Large Millimetre/ submillimetre Array (ALMA) antennas had been carefully designed so that they could image the Sun in exquisite detail using the technique of radio interferometry.
  • Astronomers have harnessed ALMA’s capabilities to image the millimeter wavelength light emitted by the Sun’s chromosphere.
  • Researchers, including those from European Southern Observatory (ESO), produced the images as a demonstration of ALMA’s ability to study solar activity at longer wavelengths of light than are typically available to solar observatories

GS III:  S&T - HEALTH

New technique for faster diagnosis of HIV

  • Scientists have developed a new method for medical testing that may lead to faster diagnosis of HIV, Lyme disease, syphilis and rotavirus infections.
  • Researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in the U.S. combined cutting-edge nanoscience with a magnetic phenomenon discovered more than 170 years ago to create the method for speedy medical tests.
  • The team coated nanoparticles with the antibody to BSA, or bovine serum albumin, which is commonly used as the basis of a variety of diagnostic tests.
  • By mixing the nanoparticles in a test solution, the BSA proteins preferentially bind with the antibodies that coat the nanoparticles.
  • Mr. Putnam’s team came up with a novel way of measuring the quantity of proteins present.
  • He used nanoparticles with an iron core and applied a magnetic field to the solution, causing the particles to align in a particular formation.
  • As proteins bind to the antibody-coated particles, the rotation of the particles becomes sluggish, which is easy to detect with laser optics.

GS III : CLIMATE CHANGE ENVIRONMENT

‘Massive Antarctic ice shelf ready to break’

  • A gigantic chunk of ice that is breaking away from West Antarctica is now attached to its parent ice shelf just by a thread.
  • Covering 5,000 sq km and nearly 100 storeys-deep, the formation is poised to snap of from Larsen C ice shelf, creating “one of the largest icebergs ever recorded”, the researchers said in a statement.
  • If the glaciers held in check by Larsen C spilt into the Antarctic Ocean, it would lift the global water mark by about 10 cm, the researchers said.
  • The nearby Larsen A ice shelf collapsed in 1995, and Larsen B broke up seven years later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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