Current Affairs from PIB - May 2013 - Part 1

1. Earlier, farmgate prices of urea (a nitronegous fertilizer) and complex fertilizers have traditionally been controlled by the government. Consequently, any increase in the cost of production for fertilizer companies was reimbursed by the government in the form of a subsidy. To rein in the ballooning fiscal deficit, the government, in 2010, introduced an NBS regime in complex fertilizers, under which the subsidy was fixed for each nutrient. Simultaneously, farmgate prices of complex fertilizers were decontrolled.
Natural gas is the predominant input in the manufacture of urea, which accounts for 50 per cent of fertilizer consumption in the country. 

2. The Union Cabinet gave its approval to launch a National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) as a new sub-mission under the over-arching National Health Mission (NHM). Under the Scheme the following proposals have been approved :

1.        One Urban Primary Health Centre (U-PHC) for every fifty to sixty thousand population.
2.        One Urban Community Health Centre (U-CHC) for five to six U-PHCs in big cities.
3.        One Auxiliary Nursing Midwives (ANM) for 10,000 population.
4.        One Accredited Social Health Activist ASHA (community link worker) for 200 to 500 households.
The interventions under the sub-mission will result in

  •  Reduction in Infant Mortality Rate (IMR)
  •  Reduction in Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR)
  •  Universal access to reproductive health care
  • Convergence of all health related interventions.

3. Kala-azar, black fever, and Dumdum fever, is the most severe form of leishmaniasis. Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by protozoan parasites of the Leishmania genus. This disease is the second-largest parasitic killer in the world (after malaria), responsible for an estimated 500,000 infections each year worldwide. The parasite migrates to the internal organs such as liver, spleen, and bone marrow, and, if left untreated, will almost always result in the death of the host.

4. The Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG) Sabla is a centrally sponsored program of Government of India initiated on April 1, 2011 under Ministry of Women and Child Development. The program would cover adolescent girls 11–18 years old under all ICDS projects in selected 200 districts in all states/UTs in the country.
The objectives of the program are:

  • Enable the Adolescent girls for self-development and empowerment
  • Improve their nutrition and health status.
  • Promote awareness about health, hygiene, nutrition, adolescent reproductive and sexual health (ARSH) and family and child care.
  • Upgrade home-based skills, life skills and integrate with the National Skill Development Program (NSDP) for vocational skills.
  • Mainstream out of school adolescent girls into formal/non formal education.
  • Provide information/guidance about existing public services such as PHC, CHC, Post Office, Bank, Police Station, etc.

5. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an economic and geopolitical organization of eight countries that are primarily located in South Asia. The SAARC Secretariat is based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Members:  Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Since then the organization has expanded by accepting one new full member, Afghanistan, and several observer members.The 18th SAARC Summit is scheduled to be held in Kathmandu in November 2014. Current Secretary : Arjun Bahadur Thapa from Nepal.

6. An international team of biologists has identified both the enzyme and molecular mechanism critical for controlling a chameleon-like process that allows blue-green algae to maximize light harvesting for photosynthesis.

7. Using blue-green bacteria, researchers have for the first time developed a way to convert sun light directly into electricity in a CO2-free manner.Cyanobacteria utilize the energy of sunlight to drive photosynthesis, a process where the energy of light is used to split water molecules into oxygen, protons and electrons. While most of the high—energy electrons derived from water are utilized by the cyanobacterial cells for their own needs, scientists at the University of Maryland BioMET laboratories found that a fraction of these electrons are donated to the external environment. To harvest those electrons from cyanobacteria, the scientists developed a photosynthetic microbial fuel cell, or PMFC, that serves as both a growth chamber for cyanobacteria and an electron harvester.

8. Using a molecular switch in an enzyme, blue-green algae build up energy reserves that allow them to survive in darkness. Removing this switch enables use of the excess energy for purposes such as hydrogen production.

9. In a bid to encourage development of the domestic debt market and accelerate the pace of economic growth, the government announced reduction in withholding tax rates along with simplification of norms to attract greater subscription in debt securities by foreign investors.

Consistent with its policy of gradual easing of withholding tax (WHT) norms and extending the benefit of lower rates at 5 per cent — instead of 20 per cent earlier — to a larger cross-section of investors, the government has now sought to provide broad-based incentive and encourage greater offshore investment by foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and qualified foreign investors (QFIs) in the country’s debt market, including bonds issued by Indian companies and government securities.

10. Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) previously called Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) is a Community-led total sanitation program initiated by Government of India in 1999. It is a demand-driven and people-centered sanitation program.  The main goal of Total Sanitation Campaign is to eradicate the practice of open defecation by 2017. Government of India gives 10000 rupees to every family to construct a toilet.

Major activities Covered under Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan are,

  • Construction of Individual House Hold Latrines for which the enhanced incentive for individual household latrine units has been extended to all Below Poverty Line (BPL) Households and Above Poverty Line Households (APL) restricted to SCs/STs, small and marginal farmers, landless labourers with homestead, physically handicapped and women headed households.
  • Convergence with Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for additional financial assistance.Provision of sanitation facilities in Government Schools and Anganwadis in Government buildings.
  • Assistance to Production Centres of sanitary materials and Rural Sanitary Marts, Provision of construction of Community Sanitary Complexes.
  • Solid and Liquid Waste management (SLWM) to be taken up in project mode for each Gram Panchayat (GP) with financial assistance capped for a GP on the basis of number of household to enable all Panchayats to implement sustainable SLWM projects.
  • Information Education Communication (IEC) activities for sustainable demand generation for sanitation facility.
  • Provision of extensive capacity building of the stake holders like Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), Village Water and Sanitation Committees (VWSCs) and field functionaries for sustainable sanitation.