India’s one million Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) volunteers have received arguably the biggest international recognition in form of the World Health Organization’s Global Health Leaders Awards 2022.
- The ASHAs were among the six awardees announced at the 75th World Health Assembly in Geneva.
- This World Health Organization (WHO) award is in recognition of the work done by ASHA volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as for serving as a link between communities and health systems.
- Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, ASHAs have made extraordinary contributions towards enabling increased access to primary health-care services; i.e. maternal and child health including immunisation and treatment for hypertension, diabetes and tuberculosis, etc., for both rural and urban populations, with special focus on difficult-to-reach habitations.
- Over the years, ASHAs have played an outstanding role in making India polio free, increasing routine immunisation coverage; reducing maternal mortality; improving new-born survival and in greater access to treatment for common illnesses.
About ASHA programme
- India launched the ASHA programme in 2005-06 as part of the National Rural Health Mission.
- Initially rolled out in rural areas, with the launch of the National Urban Health Mission in 2013, it was extended to urban settings as well.
- Each of these women-only volunteers work with a population of nearly 1,000 people in rural and 2,000 people in urban areas, with flexibility for local adjustments.
- The core of the ASHA programme has been an intention to build the capacity of community members in taking care of their own health and being partners in health services.
- The ASHA programme was inspired from the learnings from two past initiatives: one from the late 1970s and the other of the early 2000s.
Status of Gun Control Legislation in India
- Gun licence applicants in India must be at least 21 years and not convicted of any offence involving violence, of ‘unsound mind’ or a threat to public safety and peace.
- Upon receiving an application, the licensing authority (i.e., the Home Ministry), asks the officer in-charge of the nearest police station to submit a report about the applicant after thorough vetting.
- The Arms Act amended in 2019 reduces the number of firearms that an individual can procure from three to two.
- Indian laws are particularly elaborate in dealing with sale and unlawful trade of weapons. It also enlists specific provisions on curtailing the use of licensed weapons to ensure social harmony.
- No entity is permitted to sell or transfer any firearm which does not bear the name of the maker, manufacturer’s number or any other visible or stamped identification mark.
- Any act of conversion (such as shortening the barrel of a firearm or converting an imitation firearm into a firearm) or unlawful import-export is punishable with an imprisonment term of seven years, which may extend to life imprisonment and be liable to monetary fines.
History of the Indus Water Treaty
- The Indus river basin contains six rivers: the Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej, which originate in Tibet and flow across the Himalayan hills into Pakistan, terminating in Karachi to the south.
- Apart from dividing India and Pakistan geographically, the partition line also split the Indus river system in two in 1947.
- Both sides were reliant on water from the Indus river basin to keep their irrigation system running, therefore a fair distribution was required.
- Initially, the Inter-Dominion Agreement of May 1948 was signed, under which both countries agreed that India would deliver water to Pakistan in exchange for an annual payment from Pakistan.
- This agreement, however, quickly fell apart since the two countries couldn’t agree on how to interpret it.
- In 1951, both countries sought to the World Bank for finance of their respective irrigation projects on the Indus and its tributaries, which is when the World Bank volunteered to mediate the disagreement due to the water-sharing dispute.
- After over a decade of fact-finding, discussion, World Bank recommendations, and changes, the two countries finally came to an agreement in 1960, and the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) was signed by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and then-President of Pakistan, Ayub Khan. W.A.B. Iliff, a former World Bank Vice President, also signed it.
- The two countries meet once a year to discuss cooperation on the Indus River System, as required by Article VIII of the Indus Waters Treaty, which both countries signed in 1960 with the World Bank’s assistance.
- The Commissioners are supposed to convene at least once a year, in India and Pakistan, on alternating years.
Purchasing Managers’ Index
What is a PMI?
- Started in 1948 by the US-based Institute of Supply Management, the Purchasing Managers’ Index, or PMI, has now become one of the most closely watched indicators of business activity across the world.
- PMI or a Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is an indicator of business activity — both in the manufacturing and services sectors.
- It is a survey-based measures that asks the respondents about changes in their perception of some key business variables from the month before.
- It is calculated separately for the manufacturing and services sectors and then a composite index is constructed.
- The index shows trends in both the manufacturing and services sector. The index helps in determining whether the market conditions, as seen by purchasing managers, is expanding, contracting or staying the same. It is used to provide information regarding the current and future business conditions.
PMI is one of the closely watched indicators of business activity and helps in predicting the economic health of a country. There are two types of PMI — Manufacturing PMI and Services PMI. A combined index is also made using both manufacturing PMI and services PMI.
Astra Mk-1 Air-to-Air Missile
- GS Paper 3: Security- Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism; Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.
Astra Mk-1 Air-to-Air Missile in News
- Recently, the Ministry of Defence said that it has signed a contract with the Hyderabad-based public-sector Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) for supply of the Astra Mark-1, at a cost of Rs 2,971 crore.
- These Astra Mark-1 Missiles will be deployed on fighter jets of the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.
- Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles are capable of engaging beyond the range of 20 nautical miles or 37 kilometers.
- Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs) are fired from an airborne asset to destroy an airborne target.
What is Astra Mk-1 Air-to-Air Missile?
- Background: Astra project was officially launched in the early 2000s with defined parameters and proposed future variants.
- Around 2017, the development phase of Mk-1 version was complete.
- About: The Astra Mk-1 is a beyond visual range (BVR), air-to-air missile (AAM).
- Design and Development: The Astra Mk-1 missile has been designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- Astra Mk-1 Missile has been developed for deployment on fighter jets like Sukhoi-30 MKI and Tejas of the IAF and the Mig-29K of the Navy.
- Astra Mk-1 Missile Range: While the range for Astra Mk-1 is around 110 km, the Mk-2 with a range over 150 km is under development and Mk-3 version with a longer range is being envisaged.
- One more version of Astra, with a range smaller than Mk-1 is also under development.
- Features: The Astra Mk-1 missile can travel at speeds more than four times that of sound and can reach a maximum altitude of 20 km, making it extremely flexible for air combat.
- The missile is fully integrated on the Sukhoi 30 MKI I and will be integrated with other fighter aircraft in a phased manner, including the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas.
- The Indian Navy will integrate the missile on the MiG-29K fighter aircraft which are deployed on the Navy’s aircraft carriers, thus adding to the lethality of India’s Aircraft carriers.
Strategic significance of Astra Mk-1 Air-to-Air Missile
- The missile has been designed based on requirements specified by the IAF for BVR as well as close-combat engagement, reducing the dependency on foreign sources.
- AAMs with BVR capability provides large stand-off ranges to own fighter aircraft which can neutralise adversary airborne assets without exposing themselves to adversary air defence measures.
- Stand-off range means the missile is launched at a distance sufficient to allow the attacking side to evade defensive fire from the target.
- Astra is technologically and economically superior to many such imported missile systems.
First Liquid Nano Urea Plant
- GS 3: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices.
Nano urea plant in India: Context
- Recently, PM has launched the country’s first liquid nano urea plant at Kalol, Gujarat not only to substitute imported urea, but to also produce better results on farms.
What is liquid nano urea?
- It is urea in the form of nanoparticle. Urea is a chemical nitrogen fertiliser, which artificially provides nitrogen, a major nutrient required by plants.
- It has been developed at IFFCO’s Nano Biotechnology Research Centre (NBRC) at Kalol.
- Liquid nano urea is sprayed directly on the leaves and gets absorbed by the plant.
- Fertilisers in nano form provide a targeted supply of nutrients to crops, as they are absorbed by the stomata, pores found on the epidermis of leaves.
- IFFCO advises that 2-4 ml of nano urea should be mixed a litre of water and sprayed on crop leaves at active growth stages.
Benefits of liquid nano urea over urea
- While conventional urea has an efficiency of about 25 per cent, the efficiency of liquid nano urea can be as high as 85-90 per cent.
- Apart from reducing the country’s fertiliser subsidy bill, it is aimed at reducing the unbalanced and indiscriminate use of conventional urea, increase crop productivity, and reduce soil, water, and air pollution.
- Liquid nano urea has a shelf life of a year, and farmers need not be worried about “caking” when it comes in contact with moisture.
Nano urea liquid IFFCO
- In 2021, the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) launched the Nano Urea Liquid, a nutrient to provide nitrogen to plants as an alternative to the conventional urea.
- IFFCO Nano Urea Liquid was developed to replace conventional urea and it could curtail the requirement of the same by at least 50%.
- It contains 40,000 ppm of nitrogen in a 500 ml bottle which is equivalent to the impact of nitrogen nutrient provided by one bag of conventional urea
Nano urea fertilizer: Why important
- India is the second-largest consumer of urea in the world but only the third-largest producer.
- India is dependent on imports to meet its urea requirements.
- During 2019-20, the production of urea was only 244 LMT (lakh metric tonnes) as against the consumption volume of 336 lakh metric tonnes leaving a gap of over 91 LMT.
World Summit of Information Society (WSIS)
- GS Paper 2: International Relations- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) in News
- Recently, the Minister of State for Communications, Shri Devusinh Chauhan, attended the opening ceremony of World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) 2022.
- Speaking about India’s focus on inclusive development during the event, he said that the Digital inclusion is at the heart of financial inclusion and inclusive economic development.
What is World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) 2022?
- About: The World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2022 represents the world’s largest annual gathering of the ‘ICT for development’ community.
- World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) 2022 is scheduled to be held starting on 15 March with the final week that will be held on 30 May-3 June 2022.
- WSIS 2022 Organizers: World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) 2022 is being co-organized by ITU, UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD, in close collaboration with all WSIS Action Line Facilitators/Co-Facilitators.
What is the World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) 2022 Theme?
- WSIS 2022 Theme: World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) 2022 is being organized under the theme “ICTs for Well-Being, Inclusion and Resilience: WSIS Cooperation for Accelerating Progress on the SDGs”.
World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) 2022 Significance
- World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) 2022 has proven to be an efficient mechanism for-
- Coordination of multi-stakeholder implementation activities,
- Information exchange,
- Creation of knowledge,
- Sharing of best practices and continues to provide assistance in developing multi-stakeholder and public/private partnerships to advance development goals.
- WSIS 2022 Forum will provide structured opportunities to network, learn and participate in multi-stakeholder discussions and consultations on WSIS implementation.
- The Agenda and Programme of the WSIS 2022 Forum will be built on the basis of the submissions received during the Open Consultation Process.
- GS Paper 2: International Relations- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
India-Gabon Relations in News
- Recently, the Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu began the first ever visit by a high ranking Indian dignitary to Gabonese Republic with a series of high level meetings in the capital city of Libreville.
- During a delegation level talk, two MoUs were signed namely-
- Establishment of a Joint Commission between the Governments of India and Gabon, and
- An MoU between the diplomats’ training institutes, Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Services and Gabonese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- About: India and Gabon have enjoyed warm and friendly relations dating back to pre-independence era of Gabon.
- India-Gabon Trade Relations: India-Gabon bilateral trade has crossed US$ 1 billion mark in 2021-22 despite the pandemic.
- India is now the 2nd largest destination for Gabonese exports.
- Presence of several Indian companies in diverse sectors such as Oil & Gas, Mining, pharmaceuticals, wood processing, etc, especially in the Gabon Special Economic Zone (GSEZ).
- India-Gabon Energy Cooperation: Gabon is an important partner for India’s energy security requirement.
- India imported about US$ 670 million worth crude oil from Gabon in 2021-22.
- There is significant potential for diversifying India-Gabon engagement in oil & gas sector by enhancing cooperation in both upstream and downstream domains.
- Cooperation on International Forums: Gabon has supported India’s candidature at various international forums.
- India congratulated Gabon for getting elected as a non-permanent member of UN Security Council for the term 2022-23.
- Both India and Gabon are members of the Non Alignment Movement (NAM). NAM is focusses on mainstream contemporary issues of relevance to the developing world.
- International Solar Alliance (ISA): Gabon was among the first countries to sign and ratify the International Solar Alliance agreement.
- Gabon plans to have 100% clean energy by 2030.
- India conveyed to extend all possible assistance to Gabon to achieve its renewable energy targets.
- People to People Relations: Indian diaspora have been making significant contribution in various fields in Gabon.
- Indian community in Gabon has kept Indian culture alive and major Indian festivals are celebrated by entire community together.
India-Gabon Relations- Way Forward
- Diversifying the Cooperation: Exploring India-Gabon cooperation in green energy, services, health, and agriculture among other sectors is the need of hour.
- India and Gabon should broad base their economic partnership and harness the complementarities in their economy to attract investments.
- Agriculture Cooperation: there were immense possibilities for agricultural cooperation and transfer of knowledge in the farming sector from India to Gabon.
- Cooperation on Regional and Global Platforms: Both India and Gabon should work for a stronger India-Africa cooperation for making international governance more equitable.
- They must also work together towards an expanded and inclusive UN Security Council.
Industry Transition Dialogue
- GS 2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
United Nations Conference on the Human Environment: Context
- Recently, India and Sweden hosted the Industry Transition Dialogue today in Stockholm, as a part of their joint initiative i.e., Leadership for Industry Transition (LeadIT).
UNCHE: Key points
- The high level of dialogue has contributed to the UN Conference ‘Stockholm+50’: a healthy planet for the prosperity of all –our responsibility, our opportunity’, which will take place on 2 and 3 June 2022 and set the agenda for COP27.
- 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE) that took place in 1972 and put environmental issues at the forefront of the international concerns.
UNCHE meeting: India’s stand
- India said that the developed countries must take lead in the global transition towards net zero and low carbon industry transition.
- The developing world needs not just an industrial transition, but rather an industrial renaissance – a flowering of industries and sectors that will together create jobs, prosperity and a clean environment.
- The developed countries with their historical experiences must take lead in the global transition towards net-zero and low carbon industry transition.
- The green premium associated with zero or low carbon technologies must be compensated to trigger demand at a required scale in appropriate ways.
United Nations Conference on the Human Environment
- The 1972 United Nations Conference on the Environment in Stockholm was the first world conference to make the environment a major issue.
- The participants adopted a series of principles for sound management of the environment including the Stockholm Declaration and Action Plan for the Human Environment and several resolutions.
- The Stockholm Declaration placed environmental issues at the forefront of international concerns and marked the start of a dialogue between industrialized and developing countries on the link between economic growth, the pollution of the air, water, and oceans and the well-being of people around the world.
- One of the major results of the Stockholm conference was the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Har Ghar Dastak Campaign
- GS Paper 2: Governance, Administration and Challenges- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to: Health; Education; Human Resources.
Har Ghar Dastak Campaign in News
- Recently, “Har Ghar Dastak campaign 2.0” was commenced to accelerate the pace and coverage of COVID19 vaccination across States and UTs.
- Under “Har Ghar Dastak campaign 2.0”, being implemented in a ‘Mission Mode’, States and UTs have been advised to give an intensive push towards full COVID19 vaccination coverage by vaccinating all eligible beneficiaries.
Har Ghar Dastak 2.0 Campaign
- About: Incorporating the experience & learning from “HarGharDastak campaign”, HarGharDastak 2.0’ will be implemented from 1st June 2022 to 31st July 2022.
- Objective: The objective of the ‘Har GharDastak2.0’ Abhiyan is to vaccinate and cover the eligible population groups for first, second and precaution doses through door-to-door campaigns.
- Focus Groups under Har Ghar Dastak 2.0 Campaign: Major focus will also remain on-
- Improving sub-optimal coverage of persons aged ≥ 60years with precaution dose, a
- Along with considerably slower speed of coverage in the 12-14 years’ cohort.
- Har Ghar Dastak 2.0 Campaign aims to achieve covid vaccination by focusing on old age homes, schools/colleges including the out-of-school children (for focussed coverage of children aged 12-18 years’ population), prisons, brick kilns, etc.
- Role of States/UTs: They have been urged to undertake effective monitoring with respective micro-plans based on due-lists of all eligible beneficiaries.
- They were also urged to review administration of precaution dose to 18-59 years’ age-group with the private hospitals on a regular basis.
- COVID-19 Vaccination: So far, 193.57 Cr doses have been administered across the country.
- 3% of all persons above 15 years of age have received at least one dose and 86.3% have received both the doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
- About: “HarGharDastak campaign” was launched in Nov 2021 to promote covid-19 vaccination and protect individual citizens of India.
- The ‘HarGharDastak’ Teekakaran Abhiyaan has been inspired by the successful strategy of Mission Indradhanush.
- Mission Indradhanush included mobilization, awareness & vaccination activities for reaching out to all the missed out and dropped out eligible beneficiaries of 1st & 2nd dose through House-to-House visit from 3rd Nov 2021 onwards.
- Significance: The HarGharDastak’ initiative contributed immensely towards the success of the programme by reaching out to the last mile beneficiaries including the old-aged, differently-abled and even the vaccine hesitant populations.
Economy in news
- GS 3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
Recent CSO estimate: Context
- According to the recent estimates, India’s gross domestic product (GDP) is reckoned to have grown 8.7% while the Gross Value Added (GVA) rose 8.1% in 2021-22.
Economic growth in India: Key points
- Indian economy declined due to the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020-21, however, the latest numbers show India is emerging out of the tunnel of pandemic-induced woes.
- The overall GDP and GVA have indeed recovered from pre-pandemic levels, but only just, by 1.5% and 2.9%, respectively.
- For one, it is not a V-shaped recovery, with GVA from job-creating sectors (trade and hotels) still 11.3% below 2019-20’s low levels.
- While GVA from industry is up 6.7% over 2019-20, another job creating sector, construction, is up only 3.4%, while mining has grown a meagre 1.9% over the two-year period.
- Manufacturing lifted the industry GVA, growing 9.3% from 2019-20 levels, but there are cracks on that front — the January to March 2022 quarter (Q4 of 2021-22) recorded a 0.2% contraction, year-on-year.
Issues in Indian economy
- With reluctant demand, supply-chain and input cost woes hurting manufacturing, and public administration lifted the growth amid slower growth in Services and Mining.
- A recovery in investment demand, helped by the Government’s capital spending, is a silver lining, but the lingering concern is that consumption remains troubled, and unless it recovers, private investments will remain aloof as will sustainable high growth.
- Worse, as inflation flared up, households’ consumption growth has steadily dropped through 2021-22, growing a mere 1.8% in Q4.
- Price rise, combined with higher interest rates, could squeeze middle class disposable incomes and dampen consumption further.
- Yes, India is the fastest growing major economy and likely to remain so in 2022-23.
- But the rising tide in the past year has not been enough to lift all boats stranded in the detritus of the pandemic and the slowdown that preceded it.