Insights Daily Current Events, 12 February 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
National Framework for Elimination of Malaria
The Union Health Minister recently launched the National Framework for Malaria Elimination (NFME) 2016-2030, which outlines India’s strategy for elimination of the disease by 2030.
- This framework has been developed with a vision to eliminate malaria from the country and contribute to improved health and quality of life and alleviation of poverty.
- The NFME document is expected to serve as a roadmap for advocating and planning malaria elimination in the country in a phased manner.
The objectives of the NFME are to:
- Eliminate malaria from all low (Category 1-Elimination phase) and moderate (Category 2-Pre-elimination phase) endemic states/UTs (26) by 2022.
- Reduce incidence of malaria to less than 1 case per 1000 population in all States/UTs and the districts and malaria elimination in 31 states/UTs by 2024.
- Interrupt indigenous transmission of malaria in all States/ UTs (Category 3-Intensified control phase) by 2027.
- Prevent re-establishment of local transmission of malaria in areas where it has been eliminated and to maintain malaria-free status of the country by 2030.
The milestones and targets are set for 2016, 2020, 2022, 2024, 2027 and 2030 by when the entire country has sustained zero indigenous cases and deaths due to malaria for 3 years and initiated the processes for certification of malaria elimination status to the country.
Why we need to eliminate Malaria?
- Eliminating Malaria will result in cutting down on expenditure on diseases control programme, and will help in reducing out-of-pocket expenditure too.
- It will also help to build systems to fight other mosquito-borne illnesses also.
- While there are already diagnostic kits and medicines available everywhere, it is time to streamline the delivery mechanism for better outcomes.
- An enabled environment and necessary resources would remain critical to realize the objectives in the pathway to malaria elimination.
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure.
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Ministry of Railways and Governments of Telangana
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the Ministry of Railways and State Government of Telangana for “Formation of Joint Venture Companies for Development of Railway Infrastructure in the State of Telangana”
- The MoU was signed in the backdrop of Railway Minister’s Budget announcement regarding setting up of Joint Ventures with States for focused project development, resource mobilization, land acquisition, project implementation and monitoring of critical rail projects.
- This MoU is expected to put the execution of railways projects on fast track. So far, the ministry has signed 5 such MoUs with five different states.
Salient Features of the MoU:
- The MoU envisages formation of a Joint Venture companies having 51% stakes of the respective State Government and 49% stakes of Ministry of Railways. Thus, the JV companies shall be fully owned by the Government. The companies will primarily identify projects and possible financing avenues in addition to Govt of India and the State Governments.
- After finances for a project are tied up, project specific SPVs or special purpose vehicles shall be formed. These SPVs can have other stake holders from Industries, Central PSUs, State PSUs etc. However, the JV companies shall be mandatory stake holders with minimum 26% shares in the SPVs.
- The ministry of Railways will sign a concession agreement of 30 years with the project SPV for safe and sound operation, revenue sharing and providing technical & marketing logistics to the SPV. The revenue sharing shall be based on already established formula being used for inter zonal apportionment of revenue.
- The most important aspect of this MoU is that the ownership of the land shall vest with the SPVs which is a departure from previous practice. This will give financial leverage to the company to exploit commercial potential of the land. This is likely to result in making project viable which are otherwise not viable.
- At the end of concession period, the railways will have option to take over the assets at a nominal price. This is largely in line with average codal life of the assets as most of the assets will need large scale replacement after 30 years.
Paper 3 Topic: space.
Physicists Detect Gravitational Waves From Violent Black-Hole Merger
After decades of effort, physicists have finally succeeded in detecting gravitational waves from the violent merging of two black holes in deep space.
- This confirms a key prediction of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.
These waves were detected by the scientists working with the gigantic optical instruments in the U.S. called LIGO [Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory].
Signals of gravitational waves emanated from two merging black holes located 1.3 billion light years away.
What does that mean?
That is to say, this cataclysmic event of two black holes merging occurred 1.3 b yrs ago, when multi-cellular organisms were just beginning to form on the Earth, the gravitational waves from which are being received now on the Earth.
Indirect evidence for the existence of gravitational waves had been seen from the decaying orbital period of objects called binary pulsars — which Russel Hulse and Joseph Taylor discovered in 1974 and for which they were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1993.
The observatory, described as “the most precise measuring device ever built,” is actually two facilities in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington. They were built and operated with funding from the National Science Foundation, which has spent $1.1 billion on LIGO over the course of several decades.
- The project is led by scientists from the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is supported by an international consortium of scientists and institutions.
This discovery may inaugurate a new era of astronomy in which gravitational waves are tools for studying the most mysterious and exotic objects in the universe.
Implications for India:
The biggest victory for the Indian gravitational wave astronomy community as a result of this discovery has been the in-principle approval from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for setting up of the Indian component of the advanced LIGO, which has been hanging fire for more than three years since the proposal was approved by the National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S.
What are Gravitational Waves?
Gravitational waves are the ripples in the pond of spacetime. The gravity of large objects warps space and time, or “spacetime” as physicists call it, the way a bowling ball changes the shape of a trampoline as it rolls around on it. Smaller objects will move differently as a result – like marbles spiraling toward a bowling-ball-sized dent in a trampoline instead of sitting on a flat surface.
Why they are useful?
These waves will be particularly useful for studying black holes (the existence of which was first implied by Einstein’s theory) and other dark objects, because they’ll give scientists a bright beacon to search for even when objects don’t emit actual light.
- With this, mapping the abundance of black holes and frequency of their mergers could get a lot easier.
- Since they pass through matter without interacting with it, gravitational waves would come to Earth carrying undistorted information about their origin.
- They could also improve methods for estimating the distances to other galaxies.
Why it is difficult to detect these waves?
The reason that gravitational waves have been so difficult to detect is that their effects are tinier than tiny. In fact, the signals they produce are so small that scientists struggle to remove enough background noise to confirm them.
Albert Einstein predicted gravitational waves in his general theory of relativity a century ago. Under this theory, space and time are interwoven into something called “spacetime”. Einstein predicted that mass warps space-time through its gravitational force.
- When objects with mass accelerate, such as when two black holes spiral towards each other, they send waves along the curved space-time around them at the speed of light, like ripples on a pond.
- The more massive the object, the larger the wave and the easier for scientists to detect.
- Gravitational waves do not interact with matter and travel through the Universe completely unimpeded.
What are gravitational waves (Simpler explanation)?
Gravitational waves are disturbances in the fabric of spacetime. If you drag your hand through a still pool of water, you’ll notice that waves follow in its path, and spread outward through the pool. According to Albert Einstein, the same thing happens when heavy objects move through spacetime.
- But how can space ripple? According to Einstein’s general theory of relativity, spacetime isn’t a void, but rather a four-dimensional “fabric,” which can be pushed or pulled as objects move through it. These distortions are the real cause of gravitational attraction.
- One famous way of visualizing this is to take a taut rubber sheet and place a heavy object on it. That object will cause the sheet to sag around it. If you place a smaller object near the first one, it will fall toward the larger object. A star exerts a pull on planets and other celestial bodies in the same manner.
- While the rubber sheet analogy is not an exact representation of how spacetime works, it demonstrates that what we think of as a void can be visualized as a dynamic substance. Any accelerating body should create ripples in this substance. But small ripples would fade out relatively quickly. Only incredibly massive objects—such as neutron stars or black holes—will create gravitational waves that continue to spread all the way to Earth.
Video link: https://youtu.be/MTY1Kje0yLg.
sources: the hindu, popsci.com.
Paper 3 Topic: biodiversity.
Wild pigs declared vermin in Uttarakhand for a year
Paving the way to cull wild pigs creating havoc in Uttarakhand, the Union environment ministry has declared them as “vermin” for a year.
The state of Uttarakhand has reported harm to life and property, including large-scale destruction of agriculture, due to overpopulation of wild pig in areas outside forests. Hence, the central government has considered it necessary to balance local population of this species to mitigate the damage to human life, crops and other properties of the state for ensuring conservation of wildlife in forests.
Such a move will allow state authorities to carry out an extermination of wild pigs on a large scale without attracting penal provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
About Wild Pig:
Wild pigs are a protected species under Schedule III of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. But if any wild animal poses a danger to human life or property (including standing crops on any land), or is so disabled or diseased as to be beyond recovery, the law allows for it to be hunted.
Declaring wild animals vermin:
- Area with clear administrative boundary has to be defined in which notification is applicable.
- Wild animal species to be declared as vermin and reasons thereof have to be mentioned.
- Period for which notification is contemplated is to be stated.
- The basis of recommendation like study, consultation, expert opinion and surveys etc need to be mentioned.