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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 20 September 2016



Insights Daily Current Affairs, 20 September 2016


Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Only one college gets an A++ in NAAC test


Only one college among a total of 328 educational institutions in the country has bagged the prestigious A++ grade awarded by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) under the new grading pattern.


Key facts:

  • Joseph’s College, Devagiri, Kozhikode in Kerala, has bagged a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 3.76 to get an A++ grade in the third cycle.
  • Seven educational institutes have got the A plus rating, while 81 have got A rating, 55 have got B++, 64 have got B +, 87 have got B and 33 have got the C grade.  



NAAC introduced the new grading pattern in July 2016, where it began grading institutions based on seven grades from the earlier four grades.

  • This method was introduced to encourage healthy competition among institutions so that they would strive for excellence.
  • The council uses seven criteria to assess institutes ranging from teaching-learning and evaluation, curricular aspects, research, consultancy and extension, infrastructure and learning resources.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.


Online search engines should check sex determination ads, says Supreme Court


Noting that online search engines Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are under an “obligation” to check pre-natal sex determination advertisements, the Supreme Court has directed them to develop in-house methods to prohibit such content.


What has the court said?

Search engines are under obligation to see that the ‘doctrine of auto block’ is applied within a reasonable period of time. Also, it has to be an in-house procedure/method to be introduced by the companies.



PCPNDT law prohibits pre-natal sex determination. The PCPNDT Act was brought in to stop female foeticide and arrest the declining sex ratio in India. Under this Act, gender selection is prohibited.


About PCPNDT Act:

The Pre-conception & Pre-natal Diagnostics Techniques (PC & PNDT) Act, 1994 was enacted in response to the decline in Sex ratio in India, which deteriorated from 972 in 1901 to 927 in 1991.

  • The main purpose of enacting the act is to ban the use of sex selection techniques before or after conception and prevent the misuse of prenatal diagnostic technique for sex selective abortion.
  • Offences under this act include conducting or helping in the conduct of prenatal diagnostic technique in the unregistered units, sex selection on a man or woman, conducting PND test for any purpose other than the one mentioned in the act, sale, distribution, supply, renting etc. of any ultra sound machine or any other equipment capable of detecting sex of the foetus.


Key features of the act:

  • The Act provides for the prohibition of sex selection, before or after conception.
  • It regulates the use of pre-natal diagnostic techniques, like ultrasound and amniocentesis by allowing them their use only to detect few cases.
  • No laboratory or centre or clinic will conduct any test including ultrasonography for the purpose of determining the sex of the foetus.
  • No person, including the one who is conducting the procedure as per the law, will communicate the sex of the foetus to the pregnant woman or her relatives by words, signs or any other method.
  • Any person who puts an advertisement for pre-natal and pre-conception sex determination facilities in the form of a notice, circular, label, wrapper or any document, or advertises through interior or other media in electronic or print form or engages in any visible representation made by means of hoarding, wall painting, signal, light, sound, smoke or gas, can be imprisoned for up to three years and fined Rs. 10,000.
  • The Act mandates compulsory registration of all diagnostic laboratories, all genetic counselling centres, genetic laboratories, genetic clinics and ultrasound clinics.


Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 (PNDT), was amended in 2003 to The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition Of Sex Selection) Act (PCPNDT Act) to improve the regulation of the technology used in sex selection. The Act was amended to bring the technique of pre conception sex selection and ultrasound technique within the ambit of the act. The amendment also empowered the central supervisory board and state level supervisory board was constituted. In 1988, the State of Maharashtra became the first in the country to ban pre-natal sex determination through enacting the Maharashtra Regulation of Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


One-third of total maternal deaths in 2015 happened in India: Report


Ahead of the U.N. General Assembly, The Lancet has published a new series of papers on maternal health which reveal that while progress has been made in reducing maternal mortality globally, differences remain at international and national levels.


Highlights of the report:

  • Each year, about 210 million women become pregnant and about 140 million newborn babies are delivered. But, nearly one quarter of babies worldwide are still delivered in the absence of a skilled birth attendant.
  • In high-income countries, rates of maternal mortality are decreasing but there is still wide variation at national and international level. For instance, in the U.S., the maternal mortality ratio is 14 per 1,00,000 live births compared to 4 per 1,00,000 in Sweden. Nigeria shouldered the maximum burden of 58,000 maternal deaths.
  • The sub-Saharan African region accounted for an estimated 66% (2,01,000) of global maternal deaths, followed by southern Asia at 22% (66,000 deaths). However, not all care is evidence-based, and improved surveillance is needed to understand the causes of maternal deaths when they do occur.
  • There are also new challenges in delivering high quality care, including the increasing age of pregnancy, and higher rates of obesity.
  • While facility and skilled birth attendant deliveries are increasing in many low-income countries, phrases such as ‘skilled birth attendant’ and ‘emergency obstetric care’ can mask poor quality care. Besides, many birth facilities lack basic resources such as water, sanitation and electricity.
  • Also, measuring progress via the current indicator of skilled birth attendant coverage is insufficient and fails to reflect the complexity of circumstances. It is also unethical to encourage women to give birth in places with low facility capability, no referral mechanism, with unskilled providers, or where content of care is not evidence-based. This failing should be remedied as a matter of priority.  


Reasons for poor maternal health care:

According to the report, there are two broad scenarios that describe the landscape of poor maternal health care — the absence of timely access to quality care (defined as ‘too little, too late’) and the over-medicalisation of normal and postnatal care (defined as ‘too much, too soon’).

The problem of over-medicalisation has historically been associated with high-income countries, but it is rapidly becoming more common in low and middle-income countries, increasing health costs and the risk of harm. For instance, 40.5% of all births are now by caesarean section in Latin America and the Caribbean.


What’s the main concern?

In all countries, the burden of maternal mortality falls disproportionately on the most vulnerable groups of women. This reality presents a challenge to the rapid catch-up required to achieve the underlying aim of the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] — to leave no one behind.


Why India should be concerned?

One-third of the total maternal deaths in 2015 happened in India, where 45,000 mothers died during pregnancy or childbirth.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Centre sends BS-V auto emission norms for a ‘six’


The Centre has notified the Bharat Stage (BS)-VI emission standards for two-wheelers and four-wheelers from April 2020 across the country.


Key facts:

  • With this, the government has decided to skip the BS-V emission standards and move directly to BS-VI from the BS-IV norms currently being followed in various cities.
  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has given the Union Petroleum Ministry four years to make BS-VI fuels available to auto companies.
  • Oil companies will be investing more than Rs.60,000 crore towards BS-VI fuels. BS-VI is the Indian equivalent of the Euro-VI norms. At present, BS-IV norms are being followed in over 30 cities while the rest of the country followBS-III norms.



In a bid to curb vehicular pollution, the government, in January 2016 decided to implement stricter emission norms of Bharat Stage (BS) VI from April 1, 2020 by skipping BS-V altogether.


What are Bharat norms?

Introduced in the year 2000, the Bharat norms are emission control standards put in place by the government to keep a check on air pollution. Based on the European regulations (Euro norms), these standards set specifications/limits for the release of air pollutants from equipment using internal combustion engines, including vehicles. Typically, the higher the stage, the more stringent the norms.

  • The BS IV norms were introduced in 13 cities apart from the National Capital Region from April 2010. Currently, BS IV fuel is being made available across the country in stages, with the entire nation expected to be covered by April1 2017.


BS-VI Norms:

  • The particulate matter emission in BS-V and BS-VI is same for diesel cars though it is 80% less than BS IV.
  • The nitrogen oxide (NOx) level is, however, 55% less in BS-VI over BS-V which in itself is 28% lower than BS IV.
  • The sulphur content in fuel norms for diesel and petrol under both BS-V and -VI standards does not change at 10 ppm, though it is substantially less than 50 mandated for both the fuels under BS-IV.

Sources: the hindu.

Facts for Prelims

  • PARAM-ISHAN: It is a super computing facility launched recently at IIT, Guwahati. PARAM-ISHAN have power of 250 Teraflops and three hundred tera bites capacity and this will not only augment the research initiatives in the Institute, but also help in creating an ecosystem for attracting right talents to the field of research. PARAM-ISHAN can be used in the application areas like Computational Chemistry, Computational Fluid Dynamics, Computational Electromagnetic, Civil Engineering Structures, Nana-block Self Assemble, Optimization etc. North East India receives heavy rainfall during monsoon, which leads to flooding and landslides. PARAM-ISHAN can also be used for Weather, climate modeling and seismic data processing.


  • Australia has returned to India three sculptures. The returned sculptures are – a 900-year-old stone statue of Goddess Pratyangira, a third century rock carving of worshippers of the Buddha and the sculpture of ‘Seated Buddha’.
Pratyangira Statue