Today’s Current Affairs Diary
Today’s Important Prelims Bits 14-05-2022
In News: Counterterrorism teams from Russia, China, Pakistan and Central Asian countries will gather in Delhi on the weekend ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s Regional Anti-Terror Structure (SCO-RATS) meeting hosted by India from May 16 to 19.
About SCO’s RATS
SCO’s RATS, based out of the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, is a permanent body of the grouping and aims to counter terrorism, extremism, and separatism in the region.
- The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation, the creation of which was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai (China) by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan. It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism.
- The SCO’s main goals are as follows: strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states; promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas; making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region; and moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.
- The SCO comprises eight member states, namely the Republic of India, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan;
- The SCO counts four observer states, namely the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Republic of Belarus, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Mongolia;
- The SCO has six dialogue partners, namely the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Armenia, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, the Republic of Turkey, and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
- In October, joint anti-terrorist exercises titled “Manesar-Antiterror-2022” will be held on the NSG training campus in Manesar on the outskirts of Delhi, and will be followed by another joint border operation of the SCO member states called “Friendship Border-2022” in Kazakhstan later this year.
- India is expected to host the SCO summit in 2023, which would see leaders of the eight-member grouping (China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) travelling to New Delhi.
In News: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully carried out the static test of the HS200 solid rocket booster.
About HS200 booster
- Designed and developed by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram for over two years.
- The HS200 booster is the ‘human-rated’ version of the S200 rocket boosters used on the geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle Mk-III (GSLV Mk-III), also called the LVM3.
- The HS200 is a 20-metre-long booster with a diameter of 3.2 metres and is the world’s second largest operational booster using solid propellants.
- It is loaded with 203 tonnes of solid propellant
Note: Of the three propulsion stages of the GSLV Mk-III, the second stage uses liquid propellant while the third is a cryogenic stage.
About Gaganyaan Programme
- The Gaganyaan Programme envisages undertaking the demonstration of human spaceflight to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in the short-term and will lay the foundation for a sustained Indian human space exploration programme in the long run.
- The objective of Gaganyaan programme is to demonstrate indigenous capability to undertake human space flight mission to LEO.
- As part of this programme, two unmanned missions and one manned mission are approved by Government of India (GoI).
In News: The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) here has established the “proof of principle” of the first indigenous mRNA vaccine technology coming from a scientific institution in India.
About mRNA vaccine
- Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response inside our bodies.
- Like all vaccines, mRNA vaccines benefit people who get vaccinated by giving them protection against diseases like COVID-19 without risking the potentially serious consequences of getting sick.
- mRNA vaccines are newly available to the public. However, researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades.
Facts About COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines:
COVID-19 mRNA vaccines cannot give someone the virus that causes COVID-19 or other viruses.
- mRNA vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19 and cannot cause infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 or other viruses.
They do not affect or interact with our DNA in any way.
- mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell where our DNA (genetic material) is located, so it cannot change or influence our genes.
The mRNA and the spike protein don’t last long in the body.
- Our cells break down mRNA and get rid of it within a few days after vaccination.
- Scientists estimate that the spike protein, like other proteins our bodies create, may stay in the body up to a few weeks.
Eklavya Model Residential Schools
- GS 2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.
EMRS UPSC: Context
- Recently, Ministry of Tribal Affairs has laid the foundation stone for construction of Eklavya Model Residential School (EMRS) at Nashik, Maharashtra to make quality education accessible to tribal students in remotest tribal hinterlands of Nashik, Maharashtra.
What is EMRS?
- Eklavya Model Residential School (EMRS) is a Government of India scheme to establish model residential schools for Schedules Tribes(STs) across India.
- It is one of the flagship interventions of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India and was introduced in the year 1997-98 to ensure tribal students get access to quality education in the remote tribal areas.
- Each school has a capacity of 480 students, catering to students from Class VI to XII.
- 10% of the seats of EMRS can be filled up by non-ST candidates (shall not exceed the total strength of 480).
- Currently, 367 EMRS are functional in India.
- National Education Society for Tribal Students (NESTS) as an autonomous body under the Ministry has been set up to provide overall support and policy directions to the schools in order to bring uniformity in the administration of the schools.
EMRS: Budget 2018-19
- A separate Central Sector Scheme was carved out in 2018 to improve the geographical outreach of Eklavya Model Residential School (EMRS) to every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons based on Census 2011 data.
- Prior to 2018, 288 EMRSs were sanctioned under Article 275(1) of the Constitution, where grants are given to States by Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
- A total of 740 EMRSs (288+ 452) would be sanctioned by 2022 based on provision of suitable land by the States.
- To provide quality residential schools for the promotion of education and ensure all round development of tribal students in all areas, habitations and diversified environment throughout the country.
- To provide quality upper primary, secondary and senior secondary level education to ST and PVTG students in tribal dominated areas, along with extra-curricular activities, to enable them to access the best opportunities in education and to bring them at par with the general population.
Global Food Policy Report
- GS 2: Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
Global Food Policy Report IFPRI: Context
- According to the Global Food Policy Report 2022 published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), India’s food production could drop 16% and the number of those at risk for hunger could increase 23% by 2030 due to climate change.
Global Food Policy Report 2022: Key points
- These projections are part of a model named IMPACT, which was used to evaluate the impact of climate change on aggregate food production, food consumption (kcal per person per day), net trade of major food commodity groups, and the population at risk of going hungry.
- The model was developed with inputs from scientists from the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR) and other leading global economic modelling efforts.
- Impacts of COVID-19 and other current geopolitical factors have not yet been incorporated in these projections.
Global Food Policy Report 2022: India
- Population at risk: The number of Indians at risk from hunger in 2030 is expected to be 73.9 million in 2030.
- Additionally, if the effects of climate change were to be factored in, the vulnerable population would increase to 90.6 million.
- Positive calorie consumption: Climate change will not impact the average calorie consumption of Indians and this is projected to remain roughly the same at 2,600 kcal per capita per day by 2030 even in a climate change scenario.
Global Food Policy Report 2022: World
- Increase in food production: Global food production will grow by about 60% over 2010 levels by 2050 in the context of climate change.
- Notably, production and demand are projected to grow more rapidly in developing countries, particularly in Africa, than in developed countries, due to projected growth in population and incomes.
- Shift in dieting: Diets are also shifting toward higher-value foods, including more fruits and vegetables, processed foods, and animal-source foods, outside of high-income countries.
- Also, meat production is projected to double in South Asia and West and Central Africa by 2030 and triple by 2050.
- Despite this growth, however, per capita consumption levels in developing countries will remain less than half of those in developed countries.
- Processed foods: The demand for processed foods would also increase in the growing production of oil crops: by 2050 production is expected to more than double in Southeast Asia and West and Central Africa.
- Fruits and vegetables: Production of fruit and vegetables is projected to grow more than double in regions like Central and West Asia and North Africa; East and Southern Africa; and West and Central Africa by 2050.
- Inequitable distribution of produces: However, regional differences in access to food mean that nearly 500 million people are projected to remain at risk of going hungry.
- Globally, about 70 million more people will be at risk from hunger because of climate change, including more than 28 million in East and Southern Africa.
Global Food Policy Report 2022: Recommendations
- Investments in R&D for innovation: The report recommends doubling current levels of public funding for agricultural R&D, including $15 billion per year for innovations targeted to benefit sustainable intensification in LMICs (low- and middle-income countries).
- Improved governance of resources: Policymakers must incentivize integrated landscape management, promote the adoption of clean energy sources, work to restore soil quality, strengthen rights for land tenure, and ensure equitable access to water and other natural resources.
- Healthier diets and more sustainable production: To support healthier global diets, the report recommends all countries adopt national food-based dietary guidelines, prioritize R&D for nutrient-rich foods, and support changes in the food environment that nudge consumers toward healthy and sustainable choices.
- Stronger value chains: Recommendations include ensuring that non-discriminatory trading rules for agriculture and food are aligned with into climate-smart policies, while investing in low-emissions solutions for safe, efficient storage and transportation along value chains.
- Climate-smart finance: Repurposing government support to agricultural sectors provides a major opportunity to do away with harmful subsidies and border measures, reorient finance towards R&D in green innovations.
- GS 2: Important International institutions, agencies and fora – their structure, mandate.
WHO reforms: Context
- Recently, the Prime Minister has discussed issue of reforming the World Health Organization while addressing the heads of countries at the second global COVID-19 summit.
WHO reforms: Why needed?
- To strengthen WHO and its ability to respond to novel and known disease outbreaks in order to limit the harm caused to the global community.
- The long delay and the reluctance of China to readily and quickly share vital information regarding the novel coronavirus, and its stubborn refusal to allow the global agency to investigate, freely and fairly, the origin of the virus have highlighted the need to strengthen WHO.
- For several years, the mandatory contribution has accounted for less than a fourth of the total budget, thus reducing the level of predictability in WHO’s responses; the bulk of the funding is through voluntary contribution.
- It is time to provide the agency with more powers to demand that member states comply with the norms and to alert WHO in case of disease outbreaks that could cause global harm.
- The demand for a review of the vaccine approval process is based on the assumption that the emergency use listing (EUL) of COVAXIN was intentionally delayed by the health agency.
- The technical advisory group had regularly asked for additional data from the company only underscores the incompleteness of the data presented by the company.
- To believe that the agency was influenced more by media reports than the data submitted by the company is naive; the media were only critical of the Indian regulator approving the vaccine even in the absence of efficacy data.
Recent WHO news
- Recently, the Union Cabinet has approved the establishment of the WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (WHO GCTM) in Jamnagar, Gujarat.
- India signed a Host Country Agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO) for establishing WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in India.
- WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine would be the first and only global outposted Centre (office) for traditional medicine across the globe.
National Data and Analytics Platform
- GS 3: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, Nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights
- Recently, NITI Aayog has launched the National Data & Analytics Platform (NDAP) to make available public government on a user-friendly platform.
National Data and Analytics Platform: Key points
- The platform aims to democratize access to public government data by making data accessible, interoperable, interactive, and available on a user-friendly platform.
- It hosts foundational datasets from various government agencies, presents them coherently, and provides tools for analytics and visualization.
What is NDAP?
- NDAP meaning: The National Data and Analytics Platform (or NDAP) is NITI Aayog’s flagship initiative to improve access and use of government data.
- NDAP is a user-friendly web platform that aggregates and hosts datasets from across India’s vast statistical infrastructure.
- NDAP follows a use-case based approach to ensure that the datasets hosted on the platform are tailored to the needs of data users from government, academia, journalism, civil society, and the private sector.
- All datasets are standardized to a common schema, which makes it easy to merge datasets and do cross-sectoral analysis.
- NDAP is a critical milestone, which aims to aid India’s progress by promoting data-driven disclosure, decision making and ensuring availability of data connecting till the last mile, is an example to how the power of data can be leveraged.
- India has a rich data ecosystem which generates data that is invaluable for decision making and research. NDAP is adding to these efforts to further strengthen the data ecosystem. NDAP is adding to these efforts to further strengthen the data ecosystem.
NDAP: Quality of data
- Datasets on the platform are required to meet a minimum data quality standard that is defined using NDAP’s in-house 5-star rating framework.
- Applying this minimum standard ensures that all datasets on NDAP are accompanied by detailed documentation, have been mapped to a common data schema, and have passed internal data quality checks to ensure that they remain true to the source.
- NDAP centres the user experience in data delivery by hosting use-case relevant datasets, ensuring that the platform experience is user friendly, and regularly soliciting and incorporating user feedback.
- NDAP’s dataset identification process incorporates use-case-based inputs from sector experts in academia, policy, journalism, etc. This process ensures that the datasets available on NDAP are relevant to the needs of real-life data users.
- NITI Aayog has developed NDAP keeping user feedback at the forefront, and hopes to continue integrating input from users.