Insights Daily Current Affairs, 03 March 2018
Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
Context: The Kerala State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights has registered a suo motu case in connection with the Kuthiyottam ritual. The commission said it would examine if the ritual, reportedly involving piercing children’s sides with a hook, violated child rights in any manner.
What is Kuthiyottam ritual?
The Kuthiyottam ritual is usually performed every year during the Pongala festival at the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
The Attukal Pongala festival is the largest congregation of women for a festival in the world. Pongala, which means ‘to boil over’, is a ritual in which women prepare a pudding made from rice, jaggery, coconut and plantains cooked together, and offer it to the goddess. The ritual can only be performed by women.
What’s the controversy now?
Nearly 1,000 young boys undertake a seven-day penance before Pongala day. These boys are said to represent the wounded soldiers of the goddess. The boys have to observe strict discipline and stay inside the temple for seven days. The rigours include sleeping on the floor, strict diet restrictions, and bathing three times a day. They also have to prostrate 1,008 times before the deity. The ritual also reportedly involves piercing the child’s side with a small hook and knotting a thread through it to symbolise their bond with the Goddess.
- For Prelims: Attukal Pongala Festival, Kuthiyottam ritual.
- For Mains: Protection of vulnerable groups, balance between rights and customs.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.
Context: A winter storm – also known as a “bomb cyclone” –has slammed into the northeast United States. The storm has roughly 80 million people along its path, with 22 million of those affected by a coastal flood warning.
What is a Bomb cyclone?
The term is used by meteorologists to indicate a mid-latitude cyclone that intensifies rapidly. A bomb cyclone happens when atmospheric pressure in the middle of the storm drops at least 24 millibars over 24 hours, quickly increasing in intensity. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.
How it works?
Deep drops in barometric pressure occur when a region of warm air meets one of cold air. The air starts to move and the rotation of the earth creates a cyclonic effect. The direction is counterclockwise in the Northern hemisphere leading to winds that come out of the northeast.
What’s the difference between hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons?
Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are all tropical storms. They are all the same thing but are given different names depending on where they appear. When they reach populated areas they usually bring very strong wind and rain which can cause a lot of damage.
Hurricanes are tropical storms that form over the North Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific. Cyclones are formed over the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. Typhoons are formed over the Northwest Pacific Ocean.
- For Prelims: Bomb cyclones, difference between hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons.
- For Mains: disaster management.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Diabetes has five types, say scientists
Context: Scientists have unveiled a revised classification for diabetes. There are five distinct types of diabetes that can occur in adulthood, rather than the two currently recognised.
Currently, the disease is divided into two sub-types:
With type-1 — generally diagnosed in childhood and accounting for about 10% of cases — the body simply doesn’t make insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels.
For type-2, the body makes some insulin but not enough, which means glucose stays in the blood. This form of the disease correlates highly with obesity and can, over time, lead to blindness, kidney damage, and heart disease or stroke.
The new clusters are:
- Cluster 1 – severe autoimmune diabetes is broadly the same as the classical type 1 – it hit people when they were young, seemingly healthy and an immune disease left them unable to produce insulin
- Cluster 2 – severe insulin-deficient diabetes patients initially looked very similar to those in cluster 1 – they were young, had a healthy weight and struggled to make insulin, but the immune system was not at fault
- Cluster 3 – severe insulin-resistant diabetes patients were generally overweight and making insulin but their body was no longer responding to it
- Cluster 4 – mild obesity-related diabetes was mainly seen in people who were very overweight but metabolically much closer to normal than those in cluster 3
- Cluster 5 – mild age-related diabetes patients developed symptoms when they were significantly older than in other groups and their disease tended to be milder.
People with diabetes have excessively high blood glucose, or blood sugar, which comes from food. Some 420 million people around the world today suffer from diabetes, with the number expected to rise to 629 million by 2045, according to the International Diabetes Federation.
Significance of this discovery:
This is the first step towards personalised treatment of diabetes. This discovery could lead to better treatments and help doctors more accurately predict life-threatening complications from the disease.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes, often referred to by doctors as diabetes mellitus, describes a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both.
Today, Diabetes has become a major public health concern in India. According to the International Diabetes Federation, over 66 million people in India live with this metabolic disease; an almost equal number has pre-diabetes which is an immediate precursor to diabetes. It is predicted that by 2030 diabetes mellitus may afflict up to 79.4 million individuals in India.
India currently faces an uncertain future in relation to the potential burden that diabetes may impose upon the country. If this continues unchecked, an already overloaded and inefficient health system will run out of solutions. Many influences affect the prevalence of diabetes throughout a country, and identification of those factors is necessary to facilitate changes in the healthcare system.
- For Prelims: Types of diabetes.
- For Mains: Health concerns, changes required in the healthcare system.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.
Social security scheme
Context: The labour ministry has proposed a comprehensive social security system to provide retirement, health, oldage, disability, unemployment and maternity benefits to 50 crore workers in the country.
Implementation of the scheme:
The scheme will be implemented in three phases over 10 years, after which the government hopes to make it universal. The scheme will be implemented in four tiers with the government wholly financing the cost for people below the poverty line.
The first phase of the scheme will cost Rs 18,500 crore. The first phase will see all workers getting the bare minimum, which includes health security and retirement benefits. The second phase will see unemployment benefits being added to it while in the third phase, other welfare measures can be added.
- The scheme will be largely funded from the Building and Construction Worker Cess and funds allocated to other scattered schemes through the National Stabilisation Fund set up for the purpose.
- Its implementation would be regulated and monitored by an overarching regulatory body called the National Social Security Council to be chaired by the prime minister with finance minister, health minister and chief ministers of all states along with workers and employers as its members.
Classification of workers:
The 50 crore beneficiaries will be classified into four tiers.
- The first tier will comprise destitute and people below poverty line who cannot contribute for their security and hence the cost will be entirely borne by the government under tax-based schemes.
- Workers in the unorganised sector who have some contributory power but are not self-sufficient may be covered under the subsidised schemes in the second tier.
- The third tier of beneficiaries will include those who either by themselves or jointly with their employers can make adequate contribution to the schemes, so as to be self-sufficient.
- The fourth tier will comprise comparatively affluent people who can make their own provisions for meeting the contingencies or risks as they rise.
Need for a social security scheme:
India’s total workforce stands at around 500 million. A little over 10% of this is in the organised sector, where workers enjoy social security of some sort under EPFO and ESIC. But a major portion of the total workforce is still in the unorganised sector, where workers do not often get even the minimum wage and lack any kind of social security cover.
- For Prelims: National Social Security Council, National Stabilisation Fund.
- For Mains: Need for a comprehensive social security cover.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
Global Status Report 2017
Context: The ‘Global Status Report 2017: Towards a zero-emission, efficient, and resilient buildings and construction sector,’ published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has listed the Energy Management Centre (EMC), an autonomous institution under the Kerala government campus, as one of the recent achievements in the deployment of key technologies for energy-efficiency in buildings.
Unique features of EMC campus:
The EMC campus uses daylighting controls, CFC-free heating, ventilation and cooling systems, along with a halogen-free fire-fighting system. Solar reflectance index coating, combined with high-albedo painting and turbo-vents for passive cooling, has been used, and tropical rainforest trees help create cool surroundings. Only certified green construction materials, recycled wood boards, low-emitting paints and adhesives, and green-plus certified carpets have been used. Built with assistance from the Global Environment Fund, the EMC campus is the only LEED Gold certified building in the government sector in Kerala.
Facts for Prelims:
EMC is the only one from India to figure in the list, along with five other projects worldwide. The other five projects recognised by the UNEP include the Sierra Crest development in Fontana, California, the Association of Nubian Vaults in Sub-Saharan Africa, a construction and demolition waste recycling project in Paris, the Palm Tree eco-development project in Hanoi, Vietnam, and the Higashi-Matsushima Smart ecotown in northern Japan.
Need for energy efficiency in buildings:
Building-related carbon emissions have been rising by around 1% per year since 2010, and more than four million deaths are attributable to illness from household air pollution.
- For Prelims: GSR 2017, Global Environment Fund, UNEP.
- For Mains: Need for energy efficient buildings.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
India to help build nuclear plant in Bangladesh:
India, Bangladesh and Russia have signed a tripartite memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the construction of the Rooppur nuclear power plant in Bangladesh.
Russia is building the nuclear power plant in Bangladesh on a turnkey basis. Indian companies can be involved in construction and installation works and in the supply of equipment of a non-critical category.
Context: Scientists have announced the discovery of a previously unknown “supercolony” of more than 1,500,000 Adélie Penguins in the Danger Islands, a chain of remote, rocky islands off of the Antarctic Peninsula’s northern tip.
What’s important for Prelims? Location of Danger Islands.
World’s largest solar park Shakti Sthala launched in Karnataka:
Context: The Karnataka government recently inaugurated the world’s largest solar park, Shakti Sthala. It is located in Tumkur district, about 180km from Bengaluru. The park ties in with the centre’s scheme to generate 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar power by 2020. It has a capacity of 2,000 MW.
It is part of the “Karnataka Solar Policy 2014-2021” which aims to decrease dependence on traditional power sources and move to environmentally friendly ones to meet the growing power needs of the state.