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21 April, 2020

92 Min Read

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-II Bangalore Blue for Karnataka’s and GI analysis
Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 Governance
Singapore and South Korea model to fight COVID-19 Governance
World Trade Organisation-WTO
Mob Lynching and associated laws Governance
GS-III Health Problems and New National Health Policy
'SWAYAM' and eLearning – Digital learning Economic Issues
BIO FUEL CELL
Ethanol Policy
PT Pointer MoRTH launches dashboard
Major bridges in India
DCGI approves trial of a drug to reduce mortality rate
New model to predict ionospheric electron density
DBT-BIRAC Call on COVID-19 Research Consortium
CSIR-CFTRI provides high-protein biscuits to COVID-19 patient
Six inter-ministerial central teams to assess COVID-19 Governance
GS-II :
Bangalore Blue for Karnataka’s and GI analysis

Bangalore Blue for Karnataka’s grape farmers

Part of: GS-III- Economy-WTO (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

  • Bangalore blue grape, also simply called Bangalore Blue, is a variety of fox grape grown in districts around Bengaluru, Bengaluru rural, Chikkaballapur and Kolar districts.
  • Its cultivation has been going on for the past 150 years in about 5,000 hectares.
  • It has been given the Geographical Indication (GI) status in 2013. The Bangalore Blue got the GI tag for its specific geographic and indigenous variety.
  • Almost all the growers of Bangalore Blue grapes are now in dire straits as their crops have started drying up with no buyers due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

 

What is GI Tag?

A GI or Geographical Indication is a name or a sign given to certain products that relate to a specific geographical location or origins like a region, town or country. Using Geographical Indications may be regarded as a certification that the particular product is produced as per traditional methods, has certain specific qualities, or has a particular reputation because of its geographical origin.

Geographical indications are typically used for wine and spirit drinks, foodstuffs, agricultural products, handicrafts, and industrial products. GI Tag ensures that none other than those registered as authorized users are allowed to use the popular product name. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place.

 

Who accords and regulates Geographical Indications?

Geographical Indications are covered as a component of intellectual property rights (IPRs) under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. At the International level, GI is governed by the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO’s) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). In India, Geographical Indications registration is administered by the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 which came into force with effect from September 2003. The first product in India to be accorded with GI tag was Darjeeling tea in the year 2004-05.

 

Benefits of GI Tags

The Geographical Indication registration confers the following benefits:

  • Legal protection to the products
  • Prevents unauthorised use of GI tag products by others
  • It helps consumers to get quality products of desired traits and is assured of authenticity.
  • Promotes the economic prosperity of producers of GI tag goods by enhancing their demand in national and international markets.

Along with the benefits, there are certain issues associated with GI tags as well. Off late, there has been a rise in disputes over the question of the place of origin of the product under consideration. This gets aggravated due to a lack of clear historical evidence. 

For example, the disputes surrounding the origin of Roshogulla, a popular dessert, from eastern India. Both West Bengal and Odisha claim that the dessert originated in their own states. By ‘winning’ a GI tag, each state is looking to promote its own cultural and regional jingoism over the other.

This sort of unhealthy competition tends to polarise the country on regional, cultural and linguistic lines. Most states in their rush to corner as many GI tags as possible have forgotten to pay attention to enhance the value of products already having a GI tag. 

As a result, neither the local community nor the customer is benefitting economically. This trend undercuts the very idea of GI protection to native endemic products.

 

Significance of GI Tags

A geographical indication right facilitates those who have the right to use the indication to prohibit its usage by a third party whose product does not conform to the applicable standards.

For example, in the purview in which the Darjeeling geographical indication is protected, producers of Darjeeling tea can omit the term “Darjeeling” for tea not grown in their tea gardens or not produced according to the norms set out in the code of practice for the geographical indication.

However, a protected GI does not permit the holder to forbid someone from making a product using the same approaches as those set out in the standards for that indication. Protection for a GI tag is usually procured by acquiring a right over the sign that constitutes the indication.

 

Role of GI in Rural Development

Geographical indications are mostly traditional products, produced by rural communities over generations that have gained prominence on the markets for their precise qualities.

The recognition and protection of the markets of these products allow the producers’ community to devote and maintaining the precise qualities of the product on which the reputation is built. This might also allow them to invest together in promoting the reputation of the product.

Some of the observed rural development impacts of GI are:

  • The supply chain is structured around a common product reputation
  • Increased and stabilised prices for the GI product
  • Distributed through all the levels of the supply chain adds value
  • Natural resources can be preserved on which the product is based
  • Preservation of traditions and traditional expertise
  • Tourism can be boosted

 

Geographical Indications Protection

Geographical indications are protected and preserved in various countries and regional systems through a wide array of approaches and often using a consolidation of two or more approaches. 

There are three major ways to protect a geographical indication:

  1. So-called sui generis systems (i.e. special regimes of protection)
  2. Using collective or certification marks
  3. Techniques concentrating on business practices, including administrative product approval schemes.

These approaches have been developed in consonance with different legal practices and within a framework of individual historical and economic conditions.

The approaches to protect GI comprise of differences with respect to critical questions like conditions for protection or the scope of protection. On the other hand, the two modes of protection mentioned above namely sui generis systems and collective or certification mark systems, share some common characteristics, such as the fact that they set up rights for collective use by those who comply with defined standards.

 

Way Forward for GI

  • The tag for geographical indications needs to be allotted only after a thorough historical and empirical inquiry.
  • for products whose origin can’t be effectively traced, either both the states should be given ownership or none of the regions be provided with the GI tag.
  • The focus of the states and the community needs to shift from mere certification for the sake of regional and instead divert all resources towards active promotion of the product and its respective industry.

Summary of Geographical Indications in India

  • Geographical Indications of Goods are defined as that aspect of industrial property which refers to the geographical indication referring to a country or to a place situated therein as being the country or place of origin of that product.
  • Under Articles 1 (2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, geographical indications are covered as an element of IPRs.
  • Typically, the GI tag conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to the fact of its origin in that defined geographical locality, region or country.
  • They are also covered under Articles 22 to 24 of the TRIPS -Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement, which was part of the Agreements concluding the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.
  • Promoters of Geographical indications regard them as strong tools for protecting their national property rights. Opponents, however, consider GI as a barrier to trade.

 

GI Tags 2019-2020

Products

Categories

States

Kandhamal Haladi 

Agricultural 

Odisha

Rasagola 

Food Stuff 

Odisha

Kodaikanal Malai Poondu 

Agricultural 

Tamil Nadu

Pawndum 

Handicraft 

Mizoram

Ngotekherh 

Handicraft 

Mizoram

Hmaram

Handicraft 

Mizoram

Palani Panchamirtham

Food Stuff 

Tamil Nadu

Tawlhlohpuan 

Handicraft 

Mizoram

Mizo Puanchei 

Handicraft 

Mizoram

Gulbarga Tur Dal 

Agricultural 

Karnataka

Tirur Betel Leaf (Tirur Vettila)

Agricultural 

Kerala

Khola Chilli 

Agricultural 

Goa

Idu Mishmi Textiles 

Handicraft 

Arunachal Pradesh

Dindigul Locks 

Manufactured 

Tamil Nadu

Kandangi Saree 

Handicraft 

Tamil Nadu

Srivilliputtur Palkova 

Food Stuff 

Tamil Nadu

Kaji Nemu 

Agricultural 

Assam

 

 

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GS-II : Governance
Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan on March 2, 2020.  The Bill amends the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 which provides for the termination of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners.  The Bill adds the definition of termination of pregnancy to mean a procedure undertaken to terminate a pregnancy by using medical or surgical methods.

 

Termination of pregnancy:  Under the Act, a pregnancy may be terminated within 12 weeks, if a registered medical practitioner is of the opinion that:

  1. continuation of the pregnancy may risk the life of the mother, or cause grave injury to her health, or
  2.  there is a substantial risk that the child, if born, would suffer physical or mental abnormalities.  For termination of a pregnancy between 12 to 20 weeks, two medical practitioners are required to give their opinion.

 

The Bill amends this provision to state that a pregnancy may be terminated within 20 weeks, with the opinion of a registered medical practitioner.  Approval of two registered medical practitioners will be required for termination of pregnancies between 20 to 24 weeks.  The termination of pregnancies up to 24 weeks will only apply to specific categories of women, as may be prescribed by the central government.   Further, the central government will notify the norms for the medical practitioner whose opinion is required for termination of the pregnancy.

 

Under the Act, if any pregnancy occurs as a result of failure of any device or method used by a married woman or her husband to limit the number of children, such an unwanted pregnancy may constitute a grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman.  The Bill amends this provision to replace ‘married woman or her husband’ with ‘woman or her partner’. 

 

Constitution of a Medical Board:  The Bill states that the upper limit of termination of pregnancy will not apply in cases where such termination is necessary due to the diagnosis of substantial foetal abnormalities.  These abnormalities will be diagnosed by a Medical Board.  Under the Bill, every state government is required to constitute a Medical Board.  These Medical Boards will consist of the following members: (i) a gynaecologist, (ii) a paediatrician, (iii) a radiologist or sonologist, and (iv) any other number of members, as may be notified by the state government.  Note that, the central government will notify the powers and functions of these Medical Boards.

 

Protection of privacy of a woman:  The Bill states that no registered medical practitioner will be allowed to reveal the name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated, except to a person authorised by any law.  Anyone who contravenes this provision, will be punishable with imprisonment of up to one year, or with a fine, or both. 

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GS-II : Governance
Singapore and South Korea model to fight COVID-19

Singapore Model to fight COVID19

Singapore is currently in a "relatively stable" situation as the government has put in place a series of measures and adjusted them as needed. The measures taken by the Singapore government are:

  1. Imposing border controls since January.
  2. All travelers, including Singapore residents, long-term pass holders and short-term visitors, entering Singapore with recent travel history to other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, Japan, Switzerland, or Britain within the last 14 days, will be issued with a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN).
  3. In addition, they will have to provide proof of the place where they will serve the 14-day SHN, and may also be swabbed for testing for COVID-19, even if asymptomatic.
  4. All short-term visitors who are nationals of any other ASEAN country will have to submit requisite information on their health to the Singapore Overseas Mission in the country they are residents before their intended date of travel, and the submission will have to be approved by the MOH before travel to Singapore.
  5. MOH also advises Singaporeans to defer all non-essential travel abroad.
  6. The country decided to deny the entry of short-term visitors regardless of their nationalities and limit the entry of work-pass holders, as the newest of a slew of border control measures.
  7. Singapore's COVID-19 multi-ministry task force has been implementing stricter social distancing measures starting March 26.

South Korea model to fight COVID19:

The country's first case was reported on January 20, but the largest outbreak started with a peak of 909 new cases on February 29. 

On March 4, South Korean President Moon Jae-in declared "war" on the novel coronavirus, as the number of infections mounted up in the country. Less than a week later, the number of new cases halved.

Some of the measures taken by South Korea to contain corona virus spread are:

  1. In the early stage of the outbreak, government officials met with representatives from several medical companies, urging them to begin immediately developing coronavirus test kits for mass production.
  2. In addition to helping work out who to test, South Korea's data-driven system helps hospitals manage their pipeline of cases.
  3. People found positive are placed in self-quarantine and monitored remotely through a smartphone app, or checked regularly in telephone calls until a hospital bed becomes available.
  4. When a bed is available, an ambulance picks the person up and takes the patient to a hospital with air-sealed isolation rooms. All of this, including hospitalization, is free of charge.
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GS-II :
World Trade Organisation-WTO

World Trade Organisation (WTO):

  • The WTO started functioning on 1 January 1995, but its trading system is half a century older. Since 1948, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) had given the rules for the system. (The second WTO ministerial meeting, held in Geneva in May 1998, included a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the system.)
  • It did not take long for the General Agreement to give birth to an unofficial, extant international organization, also known informally as GATT.
  • Over the years, GATT evolved through several rounds of negotiations.
  • The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) had its last round in 1986 and it lasted till 1994.
  • This was known as the Uruguay Round and it led to the formulation of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • While GATT mostly dealt with trade in goods, the WTO and its agreements could not only cover goods but also trade in services and other intellectual properties like trade creations, designs and inventions.
  • The WTO has 164 members and 23 observer governments. Afghanistan became the 164th member in July 2016. In addition to states, the European Union, and each EU country in its own right is a member.

Objectives of WTO:

The WTO has six key objectives:

  1. To set and enforce rules for international trade,
  2. To provide a forum for negotiating and monitoring further trade liberalization,
  3. To resolve trade disputes,
  4. To increase the transparency of decision-making processes,
  5. To cooperate with other major international economic institutions involved in global economic management, and
  6. To help developing countries benefit fully from the global trading system. Although shared by the GATT, in practice these goals have been pursued more comprehensively by the WTO.

 

For example, whereas the GATT focused almost exclusively on goods—though much of agriculture and textiles were excluded—the WTO encompasses all goods, services, and intellectual property, as well as some investment policies. In addition, the permanent WTO Secretariat, which replaced the interim GATT Secretariat, has strengthened and formalized mechanisms for reviewing trade policies and settling disputes. Because many more products are covered under the WTO than under the GATT and because the number of member countries and the extent of their participation has grown steadily—the combined share of international trade of WTO members now exceeds 90 percent of the global total—open access to markets has increased substantially.

Functions of WTO:

  1. Administering WTO trade agreements
  2. Conducting forum for trade negotiations
  3. Handling trade disputes
  4. Monitoring national trade policies
  5. Providing technical assistance and training for developing countries
  6. Cooperation with other international organizations

Although shared by the GATT, in practice these goals have been pursued more comprehensively by the WTO.

For example, whereas the GATT focused almost exclusively on goods—though much of agriculture and textiles were excluded—the WTO encompasses all goods, services, and intellectual property, as well as some investment policies.

 In addition, the permanent WTO Secretariat, which replaced the interim GATT Secretariat, has strengthened and formalized mechanisms for reviewing trade policies and settling disputes. Because many more products are covered under the WTO than under the GATT and because the number of member countries and the extent of their participation has grown steadily—the combined share of international trade of WTO members now exceeds 90 percent of the global total—open access to markets has increased substantially.

Singapore Issues,1996

Ministers of finance, trade, foreign and agriculture from more than 120 countries participated and the following issues were in discussion.

  • trade and investment
  • trade facilitation
  • transparency in government procurement
  • trade and competition

Doha Declaration,2001

The Doha Declaration is the November 2001 declaration that came out of the 4th Ministerial Conference of the WTO, that took place in Doha, Qatar.

  • This declaration gives the mandate for negotiations on an array of topics including issues concerning the implementation of the previous agreements.
  • This is called the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health.
  • There were disagreements between developed and developing countries.
  • The major bones of contention were agriculture, non-tariff trade barriers, industrial tariffs, services and trade remedies.
  • The Bali Ministerial Declaration was achieved in 2013 which is the first agreement under the Doha Round, and also the first unanimous agreement under WTO.

 

Swiss Formula,2005:

  • Adoption of the ‘Swiss Formula’ to cut down tariffs on non-agricultural goods (NAMA) by both developed and developing countries with different coefficients.

 

Bali Package,2013:

The ‘Bali Package’ was adopted by the WTO that aimed at the following points:

 

  • Boosting trade in the least developed countries (LDCs)
  • Higher food security provisions for developing countries
  • Streamlining trade

The Bali Package is a selection of issues from the broader Doha Round negotiations.

 

Nairobi Package,2015

The Nairobi Package was adopted by WTO that delivered beneficial commitments to WTO’s poorest members.

 

Pt: WTO 2020 summit will be heald at NurSultan,Kazakhstan.

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GS-II : Governance
Mob Lynching and associated laws

Mob lynching

Lynching, a form of violence in which a mob, under the pretext of administering justice without trial, executes a presumed offender, often after inflicting torture and corporal mutilation. The term lynch law refers to a self-constituted court that imposes sentence on a person without due process of law.

The Manipur Law defined mob lynchings as “any act or series of acts of violence or aiding, abetting such act/acts thereof, whether spontaneous or planned, by a mob on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, language, dietary practices, sexual orientation, political affiliation, ethnicity or any other related grounds.”

 

Steps taken to counter mob lynching in India:

  1. The West Bengal (Prevention of Lynching) Bill, 2019 provides for three years to life imprisonment to those injuring a person and capital punishment or rigorous life imprisonment for those causing death and a fine up to Rs.5lacs.
  2. Rajasthan also passed an anti-lynching bill.
  3. Manipur was the first state to pass a law against lynching.
  4. All hate crimes can be penalised under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, relating to foster enmity between people on the basis of religion, race, language and so on.

Supreme Court’s Guidelines on Preventing Mob Lynching ,2018

  • The state governments shall designate a senior police officer in each district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.
  • The state governments shall immediately identify districts, sub-divisions and villages where instances of lynching and mob violence have been reported in the recent past.
  • The nodal officers shall bring to the notice of the Director General of Police (DGP) any inter-district co-ordination issues for devising a strategy to tackle lynching and mob violence-related issues.
  • It shall be the duty of every police officer to cause a mob to disperse, which, in his opinion, has a tendency to cause violence in the disguise of vigilantism or otherwise.
  • The Central and the state governments should broadcast on radio and television and other media platforms including the official websites that lynching and mob violence of any kind shall invite serious consequence under the law.
  • Curb and stop the dissemination of irresponsible and explosive messages, videos and other material on various social media platforms which have a tendency to incite mob violence. Register FIR under relevant provisions of law against persons who disseminate such messages.
  • State governments shall prepare a lynching/mob violence victim compensation scheme.
  • Ensure that there is no further harassment of the family members of the victims.
  • If a police officer or an officer of the district administration fails to do his/her duty, the same will be considered as an act of deliberate negligence for which an appropriate action must be taken against him/her.

 

Protection from Mob Violence Act (Manipur State):

  • Manipur became the first state to pass a remarkable law against lynching or Protection from Mob Violence Act.

Main features of the Act:

Definition

Its definition of lynching is comprehensive, covering many forms of hate crimes. These are “any act or series of acts of violence or aiding, abetting such act/acts thereof, whether spontaneous or planned, by a mob on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, language, dietary practices, sexual orientation, political affiliation, ethnicity or any other related grounds .…”

It requires that hate crimes are undertaken by mobs (defined as a group of two or more individuals, assembled with a common intention of lynching).

Duty of the state

It clearly lays down the duty and responsibility of the State government to make arrangements for the protection of victims and witnesses against any kind of intimidation, coercion, inducement, violence or threats of violence.

It also prescribes the duty of State officials to prevent a hostile environment against people of the community who have been lynched, which includes economic and social boycott, and humiliation through excluding them from public services such as education, health and transport, threats and evictions.

Responsibility on Public Official

It lays down that “any police officer directly in charge of maintaining law and order in an area, omits to exercise lawful authority vested in them under the law, without reasonable cause, and thereby fails to prevent lynching shall be guilty of dereliction of duty” and will be liable “to punishment of imprisonment of one year, which may extend to three years, and with fine that may extend to fifty thousand rupees”.

No prior sanction is required to register crimes against public officials who fail in their duties to prevent hate crimes such as lynching.

No prior sanction

It does away with the requirement of prior state sanction before acting on a hate crime. All hate crimes today should attract Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, which is related to fostering enmity between people on the basis of religion, race, language and so on. But registering this crime requires prior permission of the State government, and most governments use this power to shield perpetrators of hate crimes who are politically and ideologically aligned to the ruling establishment. The Manipur law does away with this requirement, which would make acting against hate crimes far more effective and non-partisan.

Rehabilitation

The last substantial contribution of the law is requiring the state to formulate a scheme for relief camps and rehabilitation in case of displacement of victims, and death compensation.

 

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GS-III :
Health Problems and New National Health Policy

National Health Policy,2017

The National Health Policy, 2017 (NHP, 2017) seeks to reach everyone in a comprehensive integrated way to move towards wellness.  It aims at achieving universal health coverage and delivering quality health care services to all at affordable cost.

Objectives

Improve health status through concerted policy action in all sectors and expand preventive, promotive, curative, palliative and rehabilitative services provided through the public health sector with focus on quality.

Quantitative Goals

•             Increase Life Expectancy at birth from 67.5 to 70 by 2025.

•             Establish regular tracking of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY) Index as a measure of burden of disease and its trends by major categories by 2022.

•             Reduction of TFR to 2.1 at national and sub-national level by 2025.

•             Reduce Under Five Mortality to 23 by 2025 and MMR from current levels to 100 by 2020.

•             Reduce infant mortality rate to 28 by 2019.

•             Reduce neo-natal mortality to 16 and still birth rate to “single digit” by 2025.

•             Achieve global target of 2020 which is also termed as target of 90:90:90, for HIV/AIDS i.e, - 90% of all people living with HIV know their HIV status, - 90% of all people diagnosed with HIV infection receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

•             Achieve and maintain elimination status of Leprosy by 2018, Kala-Azar by 2017 and Lymphatic Filariasis in endemic pockets by 2017.

•             To achieve and maintain a cure rate of >85% in new sputum positive patients for TB and reduce incidence of new cases, to reach elimination status by 2025.

•             To reduce the prevalence of blindness to 0.25/ 1000 by 2025 and disease burden by one third from current levels.

•             To reduce premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory diseases by 25% by 2025.

•             Increase utilization of public health facilities by 50% from current levels by 2025.

•             Antenatal care coverage to be sustained above 90% and skilled attendance at birth above 90% by 2025.

•             More than 90% of the newborn are fully immunized by one year of age by 2025.

•             Meet need of family planning above 90% at national and sub national level by 2025.

•             80% of known hypertensive and diabetic individuals at household level maintain "controlled disease status" by 2025.

•             Relative reduction in prevalence of current tobacco use by 15% by 2020 and 30% by 2025.

•             Reduction of 40% in prevalence of stunting of under-five children by 2025.

•             Access to safe water and sanitation to all by 2020 (Swachh Bharat Mission).

•             Reduction of occupational injury by half from current levels of 334 per lakh agricultural workers by 2020.

•             Increase health expenditure by Government as a percentage of GDP from the existing 1.1 5 % to 2.5 % by 2025.

•             Increase State sector health spending to > 8% of their budget by 2020.

•             Decrease in proportion of households facing catastrophic health expenditure from the current levels by 25%, by 2025.

•             Ensure availability of paramedics and doctors as per Indian Public Health Standard (IPHS) norm in high priority districts by 2020.

•             Increase community health volunteers to population ratio as per IPHS norm, in high priority districts by 2025.

•             Establish primary and secondary care facility as per norm s in high priority districts (population as well as time to reach norms) by 2025.

•             Ensure district - level electronic database of information on health system components by 2020.

•             Strengthen the health surveillance system and establish registries for diseases of public health importance by 2020.

•             Establish federated integrated health information architecture, Health Information Exchanges and National Health Information Network by 2025.

•             Ensuring Adequate Investment - The policy proposes a potentially achievable target of raising public health expenditure to 2.5% of the GDP in a time bound manner.

 

Problems of Indian medical system:

Ailing Public health sector: meagre healthcare budget, overcrowding, long waiting time and the need for multiple visits for investigations and consultations frustrate patients on a daily basis.

Paucity of Resources: Doctors work in extreme conditions ranging from overcrowded out-patient departments, inadequate staff, medicines and infrastructure.

Expensive Private Medical Education: increasingly high cost of medical education in the private sector is forcing many students in India to look for cheaper destinations abroad.

  • Countries such as China, Russia, Ukraine, Philippines and Nepal have become popular destinations for aspiring doctors as the cost can be less than half of what private institutes charge in India.
  • Expensive medical studies are responsible for dearth of doctors in India as after acquiring studies from abroad they do not prefer to practice their profession in India because of the necessity to clear the exam conducted by the Medical Council of India.

Overburdened Doctors: Owing to disproportionate Doctor Patient ratio, limited number of doctors, nurses and medical staff have to cater to a large number of patients.

Unaffordable Treatments: More than 17% of Indian population spends at least 10% of household budgets for health services.

  • Catastrophic healthcare related expenditure pushes families into debt, more than 24% households in rural India and 18% of the population in urban areas have met their healthcare expenses through some sort of borrowings.
  • Competition Commission of India report on affordability stated that 50 to 65% of Indians did not have regular access to essential medicines.

Doctor Patient Relation: The highlighting of errors by doctors, medical staff, and hospitals, as well as corruption among doctors, has further eroded the trust patients have in the medical facilities.

  • Trust deficit between doctors and patients is also gradually becoming a concern, with rising violence against doctors.
  • According to the Indian Medical Association (IMA) nearly 75% of doctors in India have faced some form of violence or threat at some point in their careers.

 

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GS-III : Economic Issues
'SWAYAM' and eLearning – Digital learning

'SWAYAM' and eLearning – Digital learning

Part of: GS-II- Education (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

Human Resource Development held a detailed review of the National online education platform SWAYAM and the 32 DTH Television Education Channels SWAYAM PRABHA. During the meeting, a brief presentation of the progress of these schemes was made. In the lockdown condition there has been a tremendous increase in demand and the usage of SWAYAM Courses and SWAYAM PRABHA videos. The Ministry in a statement said that 1902 courses are available currently in SWAYAM, which have been offered to 1.56 crore  students since launch.

It was decided that all the 1900 SWAYAM Courses and 60 thousand  SWAYAM PRABHA videos would be translated into ten regional languages and made available to the students so that more benefit can be derived from the same. The more popular content, and for engineering courses taught in first year shall, however, be prioritized for translation.  The whole project will be started immediately and completed in a time bound manner.  It said, UGC has been asked to prepare guidelines regarding online and Distance learning guidelines to increase Gross Enrolment Ratio.

On SWAYAM PRABHA, the Ministry said that is a group of 32 DTH channels devoted to telecasting of high-quality educational programmes on 24X7 basis using the GSAT-15 satellite. It said that possibility of redistribution of channels to match available content, and viewership will be explored. It was also decided to enrich the content in SWAYAM PRABHA by collecting content from who so ever willing to contribute the same under Vidya Daan Programme. Subject expert committees shall be formed to approve the content received, before getting it uploaded on SWAYAM Prabha.

 

About Vidya Daan

CBSE is leveraging DIKSHA to launch ‘Vidya Daan’- A program to enable contributions to improve teaching & learning. Vidya Daan is an effort to encourage the sharing of high quality, curated, relevant & curriculum linked digital content. Teaching and Learning content in Vidya Daan have been contributed by teachers and schools across India.

This program attempts to synergize countrywide developments in the field of education by providing schools all over India, from the Metro cities to the smallest villages with good quality e-content that can be used by them anytime, anywhere at no cost. The aim of this program is to empower each school, teacher, and student and improve learning.

Several schools in India have participated in the program to contribute curriculum linked digital content for multiple resources required by the teacher.

 

DIGITAL EDUCATION

Digital education making way into education sysytem

Gone are the days when classroom training was restricted to textbook learning, teachers using the blackboard to students writing notes in copies. Its more chalk and talk in most schools. Digital education is making its way into the education system of India and is taking the place of the traditional classroom training.

Distance education beyond boundaries

Technology has made it possible for students who fall off the traditional path to jump back on and finish what they spent most of their childhood working towards. This may be in the form of taking remote classes from home, remedial classes in on-campus computer labs or even by enrolling in full-time online schools, public or private.

Flexible learning environment

A student who needs extra help on a particular topic need not hold up the entire class, or feel embarrassed asking for that help, when there are computer modules and tablet apps available for individual learning experiences.

Teachers who spot a trouble area with a particular student can gear that teen towards more exercises to master the topic. Of course, technology is not the magic wand to fix all problems, but it does allow for more flexibility of the learning process.

Many schools now come with a TV or a projector attached to their whiteboard where it is easy to shift from a normal classroom session to an interactive digital session. This can make students pay more attention as we are now in the digital era where Google is our go-to place.

Field trips turned to Online Webinars

If a school does not have the resources to send students on field trips, they can opt for web seminars related to their course work. Conducting online seminars and webinars, enabling all students to engage in commenting and participating in questionnaires can help them stay alert. It is very vital that students engage in seminars and the lectures involve two-way communication.

NASA is known to offer a program for students wherein they can talk to astronauts in space using such web seminars. This hybrid, collaborative online learning experience is broadly changing the aspects of education in India.

Usage of VR and AR for learning

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are already buzzwords in the technology space. Their advent in e-learning has massively impacted the efficiency with which it is offered to students and the way it assesses their performance.VR allows students using e-learning platforms on mobile devices to directly interact with study material. This keeps their engagement levels high and motivates them.

Globalized learning, maximized exposure

With the internet, it has become possible for students to communicate with students from other parts of the world. This makes it really easy to learn foreign languages and expand the exposure of young minds. Video conferencing is a boon to students who want to communicate or meet with their global counterparts.

Today, India is one of the world's top destinations for education. Where the pedagogy is all about the smartboards where teachers can drag and drop shapes, bring in online calculators on the board, measure with AR tools and voice out the text they want to see on the board.It is time to collaborate teaching methodology with technology and make education and classroom sessions livelier and more interesting!

 

The key e-Learning Projects being run by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) are as follows:

  • ICT in Education Curricula for School system:

ICT in Education Curricula for students, teachers and teacher educators has been developed at the national level and being implemented across the country. 805 MRPs/ KRPs of thirty six States/UTs were oriented on ICT curriculum for students and teachers and their roll out in respective states. Guidelines for teacher, student and schools on cyber safety and security have been published.

  • e-pathshala:

 e-pathshala has been developed by NCERT (National Council for Educational Research and Training) for showcasing and disseminating all educational e-resources including textbooks, audio, video, periodicals and a variety of other print and non-print materials. So far, 3444 audios and videos, 698 e-books (e-pubs) and 504 flip books have been made available on the portal and mobile app.

  • Shagun portal:

 A web portal called ShaGun (from the words Shaala and Gunvatta) which has two parts, one of which is a Repository of good practices, photographs, videos, studies, newspaper articles etc on school education, State /UT wise has been developed which is in public domain. Its purpose is to showcase success stories and also to provide a platform for all stakeholders to learn from each other. This also instills a positive competitive spirit among all the States and UTs.

  • National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER) –

The National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER) is an initiative to bring together all digital and digitisable resources across all stages of school education and teacher education. So far, 13635 files including 401 collections, 2722 documents, 565 interactive, 1664 audios, 2581 images and 6105 videos have been made available over the portal. State/ UTs are motivated to contribute resources on NROER and create OERs for their own State/ UT.

  • SWAYAM:

The ‘Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds’ (SWAYAM) an integrated platform for online courses, using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and covering school (9th to 12th) to Post Graduate Level.  SWAYAM provides one integrated platform and portal for online courses, using information and communication technology (ICT) and covering all higher education subjects and skill sector courses to ensure that the every student in the country has access to the best quality higher education at affordable cost.  It also offers online courses for students, teachers and teacher educators. It may be accessed on swayam.gov.in.  Besides, National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) is promoting education through e-learning methods by providing courses on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on the portal. There are 44 courses of NIOS offered on SWAYAM platform – 14 at secondary level, 16 at senior secondary level, 4 vocational courses and 10 courses of Diploma in Elementary Education (D.El.Ed.).

  • SWAYAM PRABHA:-

A programme for utilization of satellite communication technologies for transmission of educational e-contents through 32 National Channels i.e. SWAYAM  PRABHA DTH-TV has been launched. CIET-NCERT is the national coordinator for one DTH TV channel i.e., Kishore Manch (#31) and has started feeding a 24×7 educational TV channel w.e.f. 09.07.2018.

Everyday four hour fresh slot is telecast and repeated 5 more times in 24 hours to provide learning opportunities for the stake holders, as per their convenience.  Besides, NIOS is running 5 channels for teachers, for secondary and senior secondary levels and for sign language.

  • National Digital Library (NDL):-

The National Digital Library of India (NDL) is a project to develop a framework of virtual repository of learning resources with a single-window search facility.  

NOTE: For SWOT analysis of eLearning

https://www.aspireias.com/daily-news-analysis/Ethics/COVID-19-eLearning-SWOT-analysis

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GS-III :
BIO FUEL CELL

Fish gills for low-cost electro-catalysts – BIO FUEL CELL

Part of: GS-III- S&T (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

Scientists at the Institute of Nano Science and Technology, Mohali, have recently come up with an efficient, low-cost electro-catalyst from fish gills that can help develop environmentally friendly energy conversion devices. This bio-inspired carbon nanostructure can help overcome the bottleneck in the realization of several renewable energy conversion and storage technologies such as fuel cell, biofuel cell, and metal−air battery. It could be utilized as next-generation nonprecious carbon-based electrocatalyst for energy conversion and storage applications.

 

microbial fuel cell (MFC) is a bio-electrochemical systemthat drives an electric current by using bacteria and a high-energy oxidant such as O2,  mimicking bacterial interactions found in nature. MFCs can be grouped into two general categories: mediated and unmediated. The first MFCs, demonstrated in the early 20th century, used a mediator: a chemical that transfers electrons from the bacteria in the cell to the anode. Unmediated MFCs emerged in the 1970s; in this type of MFC the bacteria typically have electrochemically active redox proteins such as cytochrome on their outer membrane that can transfer electrons directly to the anode. In the 21st century MFCs have started to find commercial use in wastewater treatment.                         

biofuel cell uses living organisms to produce electricity. It may refer to:

  • Microbial fuel cell, a bio-electrochemical system that drives a current by using bacteria and mimicking bacterial interactions found in nature
  • Enzymatic biofuel cell, a type of fuel cell that uses enzymes rather than precious metals as a catalyst to oxidize its fuel
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GS-III :
Ethanol Policy

FCI to use surplus rise to make alcohol-based sanitizers- Ethnol Policy

Part of: GS-III- S&T (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

Surplus rice available with Food Corporation of India (FCI) would be converted to ethanol to ensure adequate availability of alcohol-based sanitizers in the country. Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, in a meeting of National Biofuel Coordination Committee approved this decision as per the National Policy on Biofuels, 2018. The ethanol produced from surplus rice would also be used in production of  Ethanol Blended Petrol .The National Policy on Biofuels, 2018, allows such conversions of surplus food grains, in case the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare anticipates its over supply during a crop-year.

 

National policy on Bio fuels

The National Policy on Biofuels-2018 approved by the Government envisages an indicative target of 20% blending of ethanol in petrol and 5% blending of bio-diesel in diesel by 2030.

 

National Policy on biofuels- salient features:

Categorization: The Policy categorises biofuels as “Basic Biofuels” viz. First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel and “Advanced Biofuels” – Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.

Scope of raw materials: The Policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of Sugarcane Juice, Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet, Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn, Cassava, Damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, Rotten Potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.

Protection to farmers: Farmers are at a risk of not getting appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase. Taking this into account, the Policy allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol with the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee.

Viability gap funding: With a thrust on Advanced Biofuels, the Policy indicates a viability gap funding scheme for 2G ethanol Bio refineries of Rs.5000 crore in 6 years in addition to additional tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels.

Boost to biodiesel production: The Policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, Used Cooking Oil, short gestation crops.

 

Expected benefits:

Import dependency: The policy aims at reducing import dependency.

Cleaner environment: By reducing crop burning & conversion of agricultural residues/wastes to biofuels there will be further reduction in Green House Gas emissions.

Health benefits: Prolonged reuse of Cooking Oil for preparing food, particularly in deep-frying is a potential health hazard and can lead to many diseases. Used Cooking Oil is a potential feedstock for biodiesel and its use for making biodiesel will prevent diversion of used cooking oil in the food industry.

Employment Generation: One 100klpd 2G bio refinery can contribute 1200 jobs in Plant Operations, Village Level Entrepreneurs and Supply Chain Management.

Additional Income to Farmers: By adopting 2G technologies, agricultural residues/waste which otherwise are burnt by the farmers can be converted to ethanol and can fetch a price for these waste if a market is developed for the same.

 

Significance of Biofuels:

Globally, biofuels have caught the attention in last decade and it is imperative to keep up with the pace of developments in the field of biofuels. Biofuels in India are of strategic importance as it augers well with the ongoing initiatives of the Government such as Make in India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill Development and offers great opportunity to integrate with the ambitious targets of doubling of Farmers Income, Import Reduction, Employment Generation, Waste to Wealth Creation.

 

Classification of Biofuels:

1st generation biofuels are also called conventional biofuels. They are made from things like sugar, starch, or vegetable oil. Note that these are all food products. Any biofuel made from a feedstock that can also be consumed as a human food is considered a first generation biofuel.

2nd generation biofuels are produced from sustainable feedstock. The sustainability of a feedstock is defined by its availability, its impact on greenhouse gas emissions, its impact on land use, and by its potential to threaten the food supply. No second generation biofuel is also a food crop, though certain food products can become second generation fuels when they are no longer useful for consumption. Second generation biofuels are often called “advanced biofuels.”

3rd generation biofuels are biofuel derived from algae. These biofuels are given their own separate class because of their unique production mechanism and their potential to mitigate most of the drawbacks of 1st and 2nd generation biofuels.

 

Major Types of Biofuels

Bioethanol

  • It is derived from corn and sugarcane using fermentation process.
  • A litre of ethanol contains approximately two thirds of the energy provided by a litre of petrol.
  • When mixed with petrol, it improves the combustion performance and lowers the emissions of carbon monoxide and sulphur oxide.

Biodiesel

  • It is derived from vegetable oils like soybean oil or palm oil, vegetable waste oils, and animal fats by a biochemical process called “Transesterification.”
  • It produces very less or no amount of harmful gases as compared to diesel.
  • It can be used as an alternative for the conventional diesel fuel.

Biogas

  • It is produced by anaerobic decomposition of organic matter like sewage from animals and humans.
  • Major proportion of biogas is methane and carbon dioxide, though it also has small proportions of hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen, carbon monoxide and siloxanes.
  • It is commonly used for heating, electricity and for automobiles.

Biobutanol

  • It is produced in the same way as bioethanol i.e.through the fermentation of starch.
  • The energy content in butanol is the highest among the other gasoline alternatives. It can be added to diesel to reduce emissions.
  • It serves as a solvent in textile industry and is also used as a base in perfumes.

Biohydrogen

  • Biohydrogen, like biogas, can be produced using a number of processes such as pyrolysis, gasification or biological fermentation.
  • It can be the perfect alternative for fossil fuel.

PT PICKUPS

About Ethanol: About 5% of the ethanol produced in the world in 2003 was actually a petroleum product. It is made by the catalytic hydration of ethylene with sulfuric acid as the catalyst. It can also be obtained via ethylene or acetylene, from calcium carbide, coal, oil gas, and other sources.

Bio-ethanol is usually obtained from the conversion of carbon-based feedstock. Agricultural feedstocks are considered renewable because they get energy from the sun using photosynthesis, provided that all minerals required for growth (such as nitrogen and phosphorus) are returned to the land. Ethanol can be produced from a variety of feedstocks such as sugar cane, bagasse, miscanthus, sugar beet, sorghum, grain, switchgrass, barley, hemp, kenaf, potatoes, sweetpotatoes, cassava, sunflower, fruit, molasses, corn, stover, grain, wheat, straw, cotton,other biomass, as well as many types of cellulose waste and harvesting, whichever has the best well-to-wheel assessment.

An alternative process to produce bio-ethanol from algae is being developed by the company Algenol.


yesJai Hind Jai Bharat

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GS-III :
MoRTH launches dashboard

MoRTH launches dashboard on its website to provide 'dhabas and repair shops' details

Road Transport and Highways Ministry has launched a dashboard on its website to provide details of Dhabas and Truck. The list can be accessed at www.morth.nic.in. The Ministry said, this is intended to facilitate travel of truck and cargo drivers and cleaners. A regular contact is being maintained with various stake holders providing information. National Highway Authority of India’s centralized call number 1033 has also been activated to answer calls and provide information about the dhabaas and repair shops along National Highways. The Ministry said, people have to follow all necessary precautions and healthcare protocols of social distancing at these spots and use masks

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GS-III :
Major bridges in India

BRO constructs bridge in record time on a key road connecting strategic areas in AP

Border Roads Organisation (BRO) constructed bridge over Subansiri river in Arunachal Pradesh in a record span of just 27 days. Amidst the nationwide lockdown, BRO undertook the developmental work for construction of the Daporijo bridge maintaining utmost precautions against COVID-19.  The bridge is of utmost importance in strategic connectivity as it links roads leading upto the LAC between India and China.

 

Other projects:  Bogibeel bridge is a combined road and rail bridge over the Brahmaputra river in the north eastern Indian state of Assam between Dhemaji district and Dibrugarh district, which was started in the year 2002 and took a total of 200 months to complete, Bogibeel river bridge is the longest rail-cum-road bridge in India measuring 4.94 kilometres over the Brahmaputra river. As it is situated in an earthquake-prone area it is India's first bridge to have fully welded steel-concrete support beams that can withstand earthquakes of magnitudes up to 7 on the Richter Scale. It is Asia’s 2nd longest rail-cum-road bridge and has a serviceable period of around 120 years. It is the 5th longest bridge in India after Bhupen Hazarika Setu, Dibang River Bridge, Mahatma Gandhi Setu and Bandra-Worli Sea Link. The bridge was constructed by a consortium of construction companies headed by Hindustan Construction Company. The bridge has a double rail line on the lower deck and a 3 lane road on the upper deck.

It was inaugurated by prime minister Narendra Modi on 25th December 2018 on the occasion of Good Governance Day.

 

The Dhola–Sadiya Bridge, also referred to as the Bhupen Hazarika Setu, is a beam bridge in India, connecting the northeast states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The bridge spans the Lohit River, a major tributary of the Brahmaputra River, from the village of Dhola (Tinsukia District) in the south to Sadiya to the north. The bridge is the first permanent road connection between the northern Assam and eastern Arunachal Pradesh.

At 9.15 kilometres (5.69 mi) in length, it is the longest bridge in India over water. However, the 9.76 kilometres (6.06 mi) Kacchi Dargah–Bidupur Bridge under construction in the Indian state of Bihar , is expected to become the longest bridge in India upon its estimated completion in November 2021.

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GS-III :
DCGI approves trial of a drug to reduce mortality rate

DCGI approves trial of a drug to reduce mortality rate

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved trial of a drug for reducing mortality rate in critically ill COVID-19 patients. The trial is likely to begin at multiple hospitals. The drug which has been developed by Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd. with the support of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is meant to treat critically ill patients suffering from Gram-negative bacterial sepsis. CSIR appointed monitoring committee supervised the research trials and development of this drug which has proved it's efficacy in providing faster recovery from organ dysfunction seen in infected patients.
Looking at similarities between clinical characteristics of patients suffering from COVID-19 and Gram-negative sepsis, CSIR, is now initiating a randomized, active comparator-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of this drug for critically ill COVID-19 patients.

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GS-III :
New model to predict ionospheric electron density

New model to predict ionospheric electron density

Researchers from Indian Institute of Geomagnetism, Navi Mumbai have developed a global model to predict the ionospheric electron density with larger data coverage - a crucial need for communication and navigation.
A new Artificial Neural Networks based global Ionospheric Model has been developed using long-term ionospheric observations to predict the ionospheric electron density and the peak parameters.
Artificial Neural Networks replicate the processes in the human brain to solve problems such as pattern recognition, classification, clustering, generalization, linear and nonlinear data fitting, and time series prediction. Very few attempts have been made to model the global ionosphere variability using ANNs.

 

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GS-III :
DBT-BIRAC Call on COVID-19 Research Consortium

DBT-BIRAC Call on COVID-19 Research Consortium

Department of Biotechnology, DBT and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council, BIRAC had invited applications on COVID-19 Research Consortium.

Sixteen proposals related to devices, diagnostics, vaccine candidates, therapeutics and other interventions have been recommended for receiving funding support. DBT and BIRAC had sought proposals for development of diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics and other interventions.

A multi-faceted approach is being adopted to ensure that vaccine candidates utilizing different platforms and at different stages of development are fast tracked through this Research Consortium which receives funding from National Bio-Pharma Mission.

In order to boost indigenous production and to scale-up the production of molecular and rapid diagnostic tests, several companies will be given financial support. Common shared facility to manufacture diagnostic kits and ventilators will be established at Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone under National Bio-pharma Mission to provide support to manufactures for scaling up production capacity.
Development and deployment of contactless, affordable thermopile based ultrasonic sensors
for screening of COVID-19 suspects and indigenous production of Novel Personal Protective Equipment for health care professionals will also be supported.

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GS-III :
CSIR-CFTRI provides high-protein biscuits to COVID-19 patient

CSIR-CFTRI provides high-protein biscuits to COVID-19 patient

The Mysuru-based CSIR unit,  Central Food Technological Research Institute- CFTRI has made available high-protein biscuits to the COVID-19 patients undergoing treatment at  All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), New Delhi.

The Institute has supplied 500 kilograms  of high-protein biscuits and rusks each to the Dietetics department of AIIMS for the patients.Ministry of Science and Technology in a statement said that the biscuits contain 14 per cent of protein while usual biscuits contain around 8 to 9 per cent  protein.     Director of CSIR- CFTRI said the enriched biscuits will provide protein needed for recuperating patients. COVID patients undergoing treatment in the hospital along with others will be receiving the biscuits as part of their routine diet.

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GS-II : Governance
Six inter-ministerial central teams to assess COVID-19

Six inter-ministerial central teams to assess COVID-19

Union Government has constituted six Inter-Ministerial Central Teams to make on-spot assessment of COVID-19 situation, issue necessary directions to State Authorities for its redressal and submit their report to the Centre.

The teams will focus on compliance and implementation of lockdown measures as per guidelines, supply of essential commodities, social distancing,  preparedness of the health infrastructure, safety of health professionals and conditions of the relief camps for labour and poor people.

Violations to lockdown measures have been reported, which pose a serious health hazard to public and risk for spread of COVID- 19. There have been incidents of violence on frontline healthcare professionals, complete violations of social distancing norms and movement of vehicles in urban areas.

Home Ministry has urged States and Union Territories to ensure strict compliance and implementation of revised consolidated guidelines on lockdown measures without any dilution to fight COVID-19. In a letter to states, the Ministry observed that certain states are allowing activities not permitted under Home Ministry guidelines.

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