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Showing posts from February 23, 2017

Basic income and mental health gains (Hindu)

Innovative interventions such as unconditional cash transfers could work wonders for millions

A National Mental Health Survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, estimated that approximately 150 million people in India experience one or the other mental health condition. Typically, care access points are limited to clinics, psychiatrists or therapists, all serving essential and distinct purposes. However, concerted attacks on inequality through innovative social interventions that build social capital and decrease the experience of relative poverty and discrimination could influence trajectories of well-being and mental ill health, especially among families living in poverty (India is home to 30% of all poor children globally). These in conjunction with effective health systems, marked by early identification and appropriate care paradigms, could yield ideal results.

A challenging nexus
The gender-poverty-caste nexus opens up a…

'This is an opportunity for Indian scientists to adopt new technologies (hindu,)

American geneticist Mary-Claire King, who discovered that breast cancer can be inherited, talks of the road ahead for India

In April 1975, a 29-year-old geneticist's research finding made it to the cover of Science, vastly advancing our understanding of evolution: she had found that the genetic sequences of chimpanzees and humans are 99% identical.

Today, Mary-Claire King, Professor of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington, is better known for another key discovery: that breast cancer, which claims the lives of over 500,000 women around the world every year, can be inherited. She identified the gene BRCA1, which, when it mutates, leads to a lifetime risk of breast cancer of 80% and ovarian cancer of 50%.

In an interview to Divya Gandhi in Chennai, where she will deliver the first lecture in a four-city Cell Press-TNQ India Distinguished Lectureship Series, Professor King talks about the road ahead for India, where breast cancer is the leading form of cancer among women;…

Agricultural transformation vital to produce 50% more food in 2050 (downtoearth,)

Transforming agricultural systems and rural economies is the need of the hour if we want to ensure a food-secure future. With the global population expected to touch 9.7 billion by 2050, there will be increasing pressure on our limited natural resources to produce more food.

A new Food and Agriculture Organization report warns that the projected growth in world population is likely to be concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. This will pose immense problems, as expanding agriculture in these regions will be difficult because of scarcity of land and water resources.

According to the report, agriculture in 2050 will need to produce almost 50 per cent more food, feed and bio-fuel than it did in 2012. In sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, agricultural output would need to more than double by the middle of the century. Besides more output, dietary transition towards higher consumption of meat, fruits and vegetables will put additional pressure on natural resources.

In such a s…

Effluent treatment plants must meet water quality norms by March 31: SC (downtoearth,)

Supreme Court has set March 31 as the new deadline for all the Sewage Treatment Plants and Common Effluent Treatment Plants to meet the water quality norms set by the Pollution Control Boards. A SC bench lead by JS Kehar said that individual industries as well as industrial clusters found flouting these norms will face closure notice along with civil and criminal proceedings.

Hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by Vadodara-based Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), the three- member bench has transferred the matter to the regional courts of National Green Tribunal (NGT). The apex court has asked Member Secretary of state pollution control boards, chairpersons of environmental board of the states and Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to critically monitor several polluted clusters as well to ensure that the norms of the pollution control boards are met.

Further, the Bench, comprising Justice Kehar, Justices D Y Chandrachud and Sanjay K Kaul, asked munici…

Solar system with seven Earth-sized exoplanets (downtoearth)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced on February 23 the discovery of a solar system with seven Earth-sized exoplanets about 39 light years away from our sun. The discovery is being seen as very significant as the planets found orbiting dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 could potentially harbour life.

NASA has called the newly discovered solar system a ‘sister solar system’ to our own. The dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 is a low-mass, dim, ultracool star (with an effective temperature under 2,430 degrees Celsius) in the Aquarius constellation. All seven planets, apparently, have earth-like masses and could potentially host liquid water- considered a critical factor for the existence of life. While the presence of water largely depends on other properties of the planets, six of the inner planets are thought to be made up of rock and having surface temperatures ranging from 0-100 degrees Celsius, deemed conducive for life.
The TRAPPIST-1 solar system is a compact system in whic…

Current Affairs MCQ for UPSC Exams – 26 January 2017

Q. Arrange these countries from west to east:

1. Kuwait
2. Bahrain
3. Qatar
4. UAE

A. 1-3-4-2
B. 1-2-3-4
C. 3-1-2-4
D. 3-2-1-4

Q. Which of the following is correct regarding Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership?

1. It is a proposed FTA between ASEAN and Six states with which ASEAN has FTA’s
2. RCEP contains 24% of the world GDP

A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both
D. None

Q. Consider the following statements and mark the correct option

1. Transparency International is organisation related to openness of the economy
2. India got 96th position in Transparency International ranking

A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both
D. None.
 Answer 1-B,2-C,3-C.

Current Affairs MCQ for UPSC Exams – 25 January 2017

Q. Which of the following is not part of Representation of people act 1950? A. Qualification of voters.
B. Preparation of electoral rolls.
C. Election offences
D. Allocation of seats in the Parliament and state legislatures.
Q. Babur-3 and Ababeel missiles are recently developed by which of the following country? A. Afghanistan
B. Iran
C. Bangladesh
D. Pakistan
Q. Which of the following statement is/are correct regarding varishtha pension bima yojana, 2017? 1. It will cover people above the age of 65 yrs
2. The scheme will provide an assured pension based on a guaranteed rate of return of 8% per annum for ten years A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both
D. None. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ANSWER 1-C,2-D,3-B.

Current Affairs MCQ for UPSC Exams – 22 February 2017

Q. Which of following statements is/are correct regarding Amnesty International? 1. Amnesty international is a global hunger reduction movement
2. This movement was started in 1961 A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both
D. None
Q. Which of the following is correct regarding India's coastline? 1. Andhra Pradesh has longest coastline among all the Indian states
2. India has total coastline of 7600 km excluding islands A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both
D. None
Q. Which of the following statements are correct regarding Public Accounts of India? 1. It includes Provident fund, National small savings fund etc.
2. Government needs parliaments approval to spend money from public accounts of India A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both
D. None. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Answer 1-c,2-d,3-A

A disaster that’s still unfolding (Hindu)

The inadequate response to the oil spill off the coast of Chennai raises questions of accountability

The disaster continues unabated. The oil spill which hit the Ennore coast in Chennai, at 3.45 a.m. on January 28, continues to spread along the coast. It is destroying marine life, livelihoods and causing permanent damage to biodiversity. The issue, with its massive ramifications, has been sidelined from public space by the dramatic political developments in the State — a cruel irony which allowed those responsible to escape attention and accountability.

From denial to tardiness
Some crucial facts. Two ships, the Maple, having offloaded LPG at Ennore, and on its way out, and the Dawn Kanchipuram, with 21,141 tonnes of toxic heavy furnace or bunker oil, and coming in, collided at Ennore port that Saturday. The oil gushed out of Dawn Kanchipuram. Although a probe by the Ministry of Shipping is under way, it is still not known how Kamarajar Port Limited (KPL) authorities allowed the “acc…

Tackling the Islamic State (Hindu.)

Despite some disillusioned youth leaving the group, its endurance remains evident

Celebrated by historian William Dalrymple in his book Nine Lives as “a place where for once you saw religion acting to bring people together, not to divide them”, the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, a Sufi shrine in Sehwan, Pakistan’s Sindh province, was the most unlikely place for conflict. Yet it was the target last week of a terrorist attack, for which the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility,) for, and which killed at least 80 people.

Why was the shrine chosen as the site for savagery? Dalrymple’s description of the shrine as “a syncretic place” is a possible explanation. The IS is known for its intolerance towards all non-Sunnis, especially the Shias, and constantly looks for an opportunity to spoil any endeavour to forge inter-sect unity. There are reasons to believe that the Pakistani Taliban, from which many have defected to the IS, has collaborated in the Sehwan attack. Whatever be the case, the Seh…

A foreign policy of cruel populism (Hindu)

Leaders like Donald Trump are offering a harsh cultural agenda to address the West’s economic problems

Just before he was inaugurated as the U.S. President, Donald Trump laid out some principles of what appeared to be his non-interventionist foreign policy. “We will stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn’t be involved with,” he said in North Carolina. “Instead our focus must be on defeating terrorism and destroying ISIS, and we will.” What Mr. Trump implied is that his administration would not conduct regime-change operations — such as against Iraq in 2003 during the George W. Bush administration — and certainly not indulge in nation-building outside the United States. He promised nation-building within the United States and to enhance the military “not as an act of aggression, but as an act of prevention”.

The tenor of Mr. Trump’s statements suggested that the United States would have a much less interventionist foreign policy. It would not…

Ageing with dignity (Hindu)

We may be a young nation, but we need to gear up to meet the needs of the elderly

While India’s celebrated demographic dividend has for decades underpinned its rapid economic progress, a countervailing force may offset some of the gains from having a relatively young population: rapid ageing at the top end of the scale. This is a cause of deep concern for policymakers as India already has the world’s second largest population of the elderly, defined as those above 60 years of age. As this 104-million-strong cohort continues to expand at an accelerating pace, it will generate enormous socio-economic pressures as the demand for healthcare services and tailored accommodation spikes to historically unprecedented levels. It is projected that approximately 20% of Indians will be elderly by 2050, marking a dramatic jump from the current 6%. However, thus far, efforts to develop a regime of health and social care that is attuned to the shifting needs of the population have been insufficient.…

A battle lost? (Hindu.)

T.R. Zeliang’s exit as Nagaland CM must not scotch the promise of a women’s quota

Going against the status quo to take a progressive decision is always a difficult endeavour in politics or in government. Such decisions yield enthusiastic support from those in favour of change; at the same time, they invite strong responses from reactionary sections. The right thing to do for any politician seeking to embark on change is to not give in to resistance after making the decision. T.R. Zeliang, who recently stepped down as the Chief Minister of Nagaland, had taken the bold decision to conduct long-pending urban local body elections on February 1 with 33% reservation for women in accordance with the 74th Amendment to the Constitution. The move, predictably, resulted in strong opposition from tribal groups who sought to use the issue of Naga autonomy as a ploy to resist it. Mr. Zeliang should have stuck to his government’s order and sought more public acceptance by rallying the many in favour…