IASCLUB Daily Current Affairs : 06 June 2019

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Imperative to test all pregnant women for gestational diabetes

 Topic: GS–II: Health

 It has become imperative that every pregnant woman be screened for high blood glucose even if no symptoms are exhibited, a recent paper published in the Journal of the Association of Physicians of India has posited.

More in news:

  • At the earliest stage of development of the foetus, it is essential to prevent children from becoming predisposed to diabetes or other non-communicable diseases (NCD).
  • The aim should be to target keeping the new born’s birth weight appropriate for the gestational age (2.5-3.5 kg) to prevent the offspring developing NCD in the future.

 Intra-uterine period

  • The paper states that while several reasons have been ascribed for the rising trend of NCD, the concept of intrauterine programming has not received adequate attention.
  • Quoting David Barker’s ‘Fetal Origin of Adult Diseases’ theory, it says the body’s susceptibility to lifestyle diseases was programmed in the intra-uterine period.
  • Higher glucose transfer to the foetus, when the mother has high blood sugar, stimulates the foetal pancreatic cells to start secreting insulin earlier and in higher quantities. Once initiated, it becomes self-perpetuating.

National guidelines

  • The Ministry of Health has developed national guidelines for testing, diagnosis and management of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy, and they recommend early testing at the time of contact (during the first trimester) and if the test is negative, yet another test should be done between 24-28 weeks.

‘Implemented by U.P.’

  • Uttar Pradesh has implemented this programme well. They are even using advanced testing equipment not seen in other parts of the country.
  • Testing all pregnant women has become the norm across the world.

From Swachh to ‘Nal se Jal’

Topic: GS–II: Social Justice and Health

 With the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan to complete officially its mission of an open defecation-free (ODF) India by October 2, there is uncertainty on what lies ahead for the Centre’s flagship sanitation scheme.

More in news;

  • Since its launch by the Prime Minister in 2014, the rural component of the mission alone has attracted government spending of about ₹1 lakh crore, split between the Centre and the States in a 60:40 ratio. Discussions are now being held with the Finance Ministry to work out a potential allocation for the scheme in the Budget to be presented on July 5.
  • While government officials and funding agencies alike stress the importance of a second phase past October, with continued behavioural changes and solid and liquid waste management programmes required to maintain the scheme’s gains, it is unclear if funding and attention could be sustained at levels matching those of the high-profile first phase.

UNICEF study

  • On Wednesday, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Minister of the newly created Jal Shakti Ministry, which is expected to absorb the Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry, released a UNICEF study showing that groundwater is 12.7 times less likely to be contaminated in ODF villages than non-ODF ones. Noting that the sanitation mission had improved the environment as well as people’s health and dignity.
  • The Nal se Jal scheme aims to provide piped drinking water to every rural home by 2024, in response to studies showing that 84% of rural homes have no access to piped water, with more than 70% of the country’s water contaminated.
  • A second phase of Swachh Bharat may be key to reducing contamination.
Some background:

The Centre recently created a new Ministry called ‘Jal Shakti’ by merger of Ministries of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation along with Drinking Water and Sanitation. The move will bring all aspects of water management and regulation under one department.

About Jal Ministry

·         The Jal ministry is headed by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat while Ram Lal Kataria will be the minister of state.

·         The ministry under Nal se Jal scheme to provide piped water connections to every household in India by 2024.

·         It will also address international and inter-states water disputes and the Namami Gange project which is the flagship initiative to clean the River Ganga, its tributaries and sub-tributaries.

·         The Jal Ministry’s priority will be to provide clean drinking water to everyone.

10% drop in H-1B visa approvals in 2018: U.S.

Topic: GS –II: International relations

There was a sharp 10% decline in the approval of H-1B visas by the U.S. in the fiscal year 2018, which experts attributed to the “aggressive” policies of the Trump administration to clamp down on the use of the work visa programme, popular among highly skilled Indian IT professionals.

More in news:

  • The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approved 3,35,000 H-1B visas, both new and renewable, in the fiscal year 2018. This was 10% less than the 3,73,400 visas approved in the previous fiscal year of 2017, according to the USCIS’ annual statistical report.
  • The approval rate of H-1B declined from 93% in 2017 to 85% in 2018. “This administration has aggressively pursued strategies to clamp down on the use of the H-1B programme, and these efforts are now showing in the data,” Migration Policy Institute analyst Sarah Pierce was quoted as saying in a news report.
  • For the first six months of this fiscal year, the “overall H-1B approval rate for new and continuing visas continued to plummet to 79% by the end of March, down from 85% last year”.
  • “Buy American and Hire American” executive order seeks to create higher wages and employment rates for U.S. workers.

China launches its first sea-based space rocket

Topic: GS –II: International relations

China launched a space rocket from sea for the first time.

  • China now spends more than Russia and Japan on its civil and military space programmes — unveiling ambitious plans for missions to the moon and beyond in the coming decade.

2 experimental satellites

  • A Long March 11 rocket was launched from a ship in the Yellow Sea just after midday, the China National Space Administration said in a statement. “This is the first time that China has… (tested a) launch vehicle at sea,” it added.
  • The rocket carried two experimental satellites and five commercial ones.
  • The test marks another win for Beijing’s space programme.
  • Earlier this year, China became the first nation to land a rover on the far side of the moon. It also unveiled ambitious plans to build a research base on the lunar surface, send a probe to Mars and build a space station in Earth orbit.

PM to head committee on economic growth

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

To address the twin problems of sluggish economic growth and rising unemployment, the government has constituted two Cabinet committees to be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

  • Committee on Investment and Growth:
  • The five-member Committee on Investment and Growth consists of Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister for Road Transport and Highways and MSME Nitin Gadkari and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal.
  • This committee will be a focused group to take measures to bring investments and spur growth in the critical sectors including infrastructure, manufacturing and agriculture, as the economy is passing through a highly volatile period.
  • Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development
  • Another 10-member Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development has also been formed.
  • In addition to the Prime Minister, the committee includes Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Railway Miinister Piyush Goyal, Minister of Agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar, Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister Skill and Entrepreneurship Mahendra Nath Pandey and Ministers of State Santosh Kumar Gangwar (Labour) and Hardeep Singh Puri (Housing and Urban Affairs).
  • Sources said there is a provision in Transaction of Business Rules to form Cabinet panels on various issues but the Prime Minister had not set up any such panel during the previous NDA tenure.
  • With the GDP falling to 5.8% in the last quarter of 2018-19, lowest in last five years, the committee will prepare a road map to bring the economy back on growth trajectory.
  • The GDP growth for 2018-19 was 6.8 %, against the target of 7.2 %.
  • The fall in growth is result of dip in the performance of the core sectors of the economy, as the eight core sectors recorded a growth of just 2.6 % in April, compared with 4.6% in the same month last year.

Studying Olive Ridleys

Topic: GS -III: Bio-diversity

 A proposal has been made to establish a permanent research centre near the Rushikulya rookery on the Odisha coast to study the mass nesting of Olive Ridleys and the environmental factors related to it.

  • A detailed project report had been sent to the State government.
  • The centre would be involved in a detailed study of the habits and the habitat of the turtles and the coastal flora and fauna. It would have a museum for the general public where skeletons and eggs of different marine turtles would be displayed. It would also include models and interactive displays.

Navy steams ahead with its plans to go ‘green’

Topic: GS-III: Environment

The Navy is pressing ahead with its eco-friendly programme, the Indian Navy Environment Conservation Roadmap (INECR) that comprises specific action plans covering the gamut of operations, maintenance, administration, infrastructure and community living, the service said in a statement on Environment Day.

More in news:

  • “The road map envisions ‘reduction in energy consumption’ and ‘diversification of energy supply’ as the key result areas.
  • Under the INECR, numerous policies aimed at reduction of energy consumption and environment sustenance have been formulated and disseminated to all ships, as well as shore establishments.
  • Indian Navy has also pledged 1.5% of its ‘Works’ budget towards renewable energy generation. Solar photovoltaic projects has been one of the focus areas of the Navy since the inception of the INECR and 24 MW of solar photovoltaic projects consisting of both rooftop and land-based solar panels are under execution at various shore establishments of the Navy under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.
  • Afforestation drives at Naval stations would mitigate an estimated 365 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

By 2025, India to have 88 mn 5G connections

 Topic: GS -III: Science and Technology

 Global telecom industry body GSMA expects India to have 920 million unique mobile subscribers by 2025 that will include 88 million 5G connections.

More in news:

  • “5G connections in India are forecast to reach 88 million by 2025. This will leave India trailing regional peers such as China, which is set to see almost 30% of its total connection base on 5G by 2025,” the GSMA Intelligence report released in May said.
  • It said there were close to 750 million unique subscribers at the end of 2018 and expected the number to reach almost 920 million by 2025.
  • India alone will generate almost a quarter of the world’s new mobile subscribers over this period.
  • However, the emergence of the 5G ecosystem in India will depend on the telecom operators’ ability to invest in network which requires favourable support on policy and regulatory fronts.

Non-life PSU firms may get ₹4,000 crore

 Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

 The government is likely to announce an infusion of about ₹4,000 crore in three public sector general insurance companies to shore up their capital.

More in news;

  • The announcement to this effect could be made in the first full-fledged Budget of the government, to be presented in Parliament on July 5.
  • According to the sources, the Department of Financial Services will seek about ₹4,000 crore in the Budget for fund infusion in these insurance companies —National Insurance Company, Oriental Insurance Company and United India Insurance Company.
  • Depending on the capital the Budget provides, individual allocations would be made, they added.

India’s services sector activity growth slips to 12-month low

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

The country’s services sector activity increased at the slowest pace in a year in May, as disruptions arising from the elections in the earlier part of the month hampered growth of new work intake, a monthly survey showed on Wednesday.

More in news:

  • The seasonally adjusted Nikkei India Services Business Activity Index fell to 50.2 in May, from 51.0 in April, pointing to the slowest growth rate in the current 12-month stretch of expansion.
  • Despite the moderation, the services PMI was in the expansion territory for the 12th straight month. In PMI parlance, a print above 50 means expansion, while a score below that denotes contraction.
  • The survey however noted that there were signs that the slowdown may prove temporary as companies stepped up hiring and became more confident about future prospects.
  • Meanwhile, the seasonally adjusted Nikkei India Composite PMI Output Index, that maps both the manufacturing and services industry, was at 51.7 in May, unchanged from April.

News in brief:

 G-20 meeting in Japan

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will attend the meeting of G-20 Finance Ministers and central bank governors in Japan on June 8 and 9.

  • The meeting is likely to focus on risks and challenges being faced by the global economy, investment in infrastructure, and international taxation.
  • The meeting would also deliberate on issues such as increasing protectionism and its implication on global growth and trade.

Editorial section:

Hindi or English, comparing apples and oranges –The Hindu

The healing touch –The Hindu

Caught napping –The Hindu

Needed: a solar manufacturing strategy –The Hindu

Helping strangers –The Hindu

Language discrimination –The Hindu


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