India removed from currency monitoring list
Topic: GS –II: International relations
The U.S. on Tuesday removed India from its currency monitoring list of major trading partners, citing steps being taken by New Delhi that addressed some of the Donald Trump administration’s major concerns.
- Switzerland is the other nation that was removed from the list.
Countries in the list
- India, alongside China, Japan, Germany, Switzerland and South Korea, was placed in the bi-annual currency watch list in October last year.
- While India and Switzerland have not been mentioned in the latest list, the US has added Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam to the list, with China continuing to figure in it.
- While the designation of a country as a currency manipulator does not immediately attract any penalties, it tends to dent the confidence about a country in the global financial markets.
- Countries with a current-account surplus equivalent to 2 per cent of gross-domestic product are eligible for the list, according to modifications made in the new list, down from 3 per cent earlier. Other thresholds include repeated intervention in the currency markets and a trade surplus with the US of at least $20 billion
Why is this significant?
- Tweaks in currency policy has been used by the Trump administration to browbeat countries that, from Washington’s perspective, have hurt American businesses and consumers.
- For India, this comes amid the ongoing trade spat between Washington and New Delhi. Trump has repeatedly claimed that India is a “tariff king” and imposes “tremendously high” tariffs on American products, while also dismissing as “inadequate” the Indian government’s decision to halve the import tariff on Harley-Davidson motorcycles from 100% to 50% last year, even as he has maintained that his administration is “fixing broken trade deals” to protect American workers.
Being transgender is no longer a mental disorder, says WHO
Topic: GS–II: Social Justice, Health
The World Health Organization (WHO) will no longer categorise being transgender as a “mental disorder”.
- The change was brought in after a major resolution to amend the WHO health guidelines was approved earlier this week on May 25.
Health care needs
- The global health organisation said, “Evidence is now clear that gender incongruence is not a mental disorder, and indeed classifying it as such can cause enormous stigma for people who are transgender. Also there remain significant health care needs that can best be met if the condition is coded under the ICD (International Classification of Diseases).” Gender incongruence has now been listed under sexual health conditions.
- The WHO added that a “significant change in the mental disorders section of ICD-11 is the attempt of statisticians to simplify the codes as much as possible to allow for coding of mental health conditions by primary health care providers rather than by mental health specialists. This will be a critical move since the world still has a scarcity of mental health specialists — upto 9 out of 10 people needing mental health care don’t receive it.”
- Health and human rights activists are now hoping that the ICD-11 will be implemented by the WHO’s 194 member states over the next three years. The WHO’s removal of “gender identity disorder” from its diagnostic manual will have a liberating effect on transgender people worldwide.
- In India, psychiatrists at an individual level have stopped treating transgender as a mental health condition. With this move, the Indian government will have to make the changes in the medical systems and laws that require this now officially outdated diagnosis.
India has 20 health workers for 10,000 people, study finds
Topic: GS–II: Health
India has 20.6 health workers per 10,000 people, a study based on data from the National Sample Survey reveals. While it is less than the World Health Organisation’s minimum threshold of 22.8, the numbers have increased from 19 health workers per 10,000 people in 2012.
- This is welcome news as the numbers have increased since 2012. Unfortunately, the distribution of health workers is uneven between urban and rural areas.
- Rural areas with nearly 71% of India’s population have only 36% of the country’s health workers.
- The data also showed that approximately 25% of currently working health professionals do not have the required qualifications as laid down by professional councils.
- The paper notes that policy should focus on enhancing the quality of health workers and bringing professionally qualified persons into the health workforce.
Gaganyaan astronaut training pact finalised
Topic: GS -III: Science and Technology
The Indian Air Force and the Indian Space Research Organisation signed an MoU on Wednesday for imparting training to Indian astronauts for the ISRO’s Gaganyaan programme.
More in news:
- The development formally involves IAF’s Bengaluru-based medical arm, the Institute of Aerospace Medicine, as the nodal centre to train the first set of Indian astronauts.
- ISRO has suggested that 10 candidates will be trained for the space travel.
- But only three astronauts will be involved in circling the Earth for about seven days from a distance of 400 km.
- It is an Indian crewed orbital spacecraft intended to be the basis of the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme.
- The spacecraft is being designed to carry three people, and a planned upgraded version will be equipped with rendezvous and docking capability.
- In its maiden crewed mission, Indian Space Research Organisation’s largely autonomous 3.7-tonne capsule will orbit the Earth at 400 km (250 mi) altitude for up to seven days with a three-person crew on board.
- The ₹10,000-crore Gaganyaan is planned for 2022, the 75th year of Independence.
- The crewed vehicle is planned to be launched on ISRO’s GSLV Mk III.
84 cities submit plans for improving air quality by 2024
Topic: GS-III: Environment
Eighty-four out of the 102 cities that have been tasked with reducing toxic particulate matter levels by 20%-30% by 2024 have submitted proposals.
- One hundred and two cities, considered India’s most polluted, have been tasked with reducing PM (particulate matter) 10 and PM 2.5 levels by 2024, as part of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). This was made public in January this year.
- The States in which the cities are located are expected to produce plans that include increasing the number of monitoring stations, providing technology support, conducting source apportionment studies, and strengthening enforcement. For achieving the NCAP targets, cities would be expected to calculate the reduction in pollution, keeping 2017’s average annual PM levels as the base year.
- The NCAP requires cities to implement specific measures such as “ensuring roads are pothole-free to improve traffic flow and thereby reduce dust” (within 60 days) or “ensuring strict action against unauthorised brick kilns” (within 30 days). It doesn’t specify an exact date for when these obligations kick in.
What is the NCAP?
- The National Clean Air Programme is a pollution control initiative that was launched by the Ministry of Environment with the intention to cut the concentration of coarse (particulate matter of diameter 10 micrometer or less, or PM10) and fine particles (particulate matter of diameter 2.5 micrometer or less, or 5) by at least 20% in the next five years, with 2017 as the base year for comparison.
Which cities will fall under this?
- Following reports by WHO and the air quality data obtained, 102 cities from 23 States and UTs have been chosen as non-attainment cities. With the exception of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru, most of those chosen are tier two cities.
- Maharashtra tops the list with 17 cities in the list, including Pune and Nagpur, while Uttar Pradesh is second with 15 cities chosen, including Lucknow and Varanasi. A city from Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal too are in the list. Meanwhile, no cities from Manipur, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Tripura, Kerala, Goa and Haryana figure in the list.
Who all will participate?
- Apart from experts from the industry and academia, the programme is expected to be a collaboration between the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Ministry of Heavy Industry, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health, NITI Aayog, and Central Pollution Control Board.
New species of wasp identified in Goa
Topic: GS -III: Bio-diversity
A new species of wasp from the genus Kudakrumia has been recently identified by scientists in Goa.
- The wasp, Kudakrumia rangnekari, has been named after Goa-based researcher Parag Rangnekar.
- The new species was collected in the forests of the Western Ghats.
- Rangnekar’s quest to document the butterflies of this unique region resulted in a record of 220 species, of which 13 species had not been spotted before.
- Rangnekar, who is the founder-president of the Goa Bird Conservation Network, has now taken up the documentation of the dragonflies in the State.
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