Understanding Informal Summits
Topic: GS –II: International relations
China President Xi Jinping visit to India for the second Informal Summit in Tamil Nadu on October 11-12.
- The two countries convened their first Informal Summit in central China’s Wuhan in April 2018, where they exchanged views on issues of global and bilateral significance.
What is an ‘Informal Summit’?
- Informal Summits act as supplementary exchanges to annual Summits and other formal exchanges such as the G20 Summit, EU-India Summit and the BRICS Summit among others, and allow for “direct, free and candid exchange of views” between countries, something that may not be possible to do through formal bilateral and multilateral meetings that are agenda driven, where specific issues are discussed, and outcomes are more concretely defined.
- Informal Summits may not take place on a fixed annual or biennial schedule; they are impromptu in the sense that they take place when a need for them is perceived by the concerned nations. For instance, the intergovernmental organisation ASEAN held four Informal Summits in the years 1996, 1997, 1999, and 2000. And in November 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the ASEAN-India Informal Breakfast Summit in Singapore.
- Since Informal Summits allow discussion on wide-ranging issues, they are not particularly purpose-specific, and are sometimes considered to play bigger roles in diplomatic dialogue than formal exchanges — the reason is that they tend to be more in-depth, and relatively flexible in intent and the scope of discussion.
- For instance, in Wuhan, Prime Minister Modi and President Xi discussed a range of subjects, including the India-China boundary question, bilateral trade and investment, terrorism, economic development and global peace, and reached a “broad consensus”.
- China is not the only country with which India has had an Informal Summit. In May 2018, Modi met Russia’s President Vladimir Putin for their first Informal Summit in Russia’s Sochi to discuss international matters in a “broad and long-term perspective”.
Rural children breastfed more: survey
Topic: GS–II: Health
first-ever national nutrition survey conducted by the government finds that Malnutrition among children in urban India is characterised by relatively poor levels of breastfeeding, higher prevalence of iron and Vitamin D deficiency as well as obesity due to long commute by working mothers, prosperity and lifestyle patterns, while rural parts of the country see higher percentage of children suffering from stunting, underweight and wasting and lower consumption of milk products.
- The Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey released by the government on Monday shows that 83% of children between 12 and 15 months continued to be breastfed, a higher proportion of children in this age group residing in rural areas are breastfed (85%) compared to children in urban areas (76%).
- Breastfeeding is inversely proportional to household wealth and other factors influencing this trend may include working mothers who have to travel long distances to reach their workplace.
- Because of these reasons, it also noted that rural children receive meals more frequently in a day at 44% as compared to 37% of urban children. However, a higher proportion of children residing in urban areas (26.9%) are fed an adequately diverse diet as compared to those in rural areas (19%).
- Children and adolescents residing in urban areas also have a higher (40.6%) prevalence of iron deficiency compared to their rural counterparts (29%),
- Experts say this is due to a better performance of the government’s health programmes in rural areas.
- Children in urban areas are also overweight and obese as indicated by subscapular skinfold thickness (SSFT) for their age. While 14.5% of children in the age group of 5 to 9 years in cities had higher SSFT than 5.3% in rural areas, 10.4% of adolescents surveyed in urban areas in the age group of 10-19 had higher SSFT than 4.3% in rural areas.
Vitamin D deficiency
- Wealthier households in urban areas and sedentary lifestyle of children may also be responsible for higher deficiency of Vitamin D in urban areas (19%) as compared to rural areas (12%), though the study shows that 74% of children living in cities consume dairy products as compared to 58% in rural areas.
- Rural children lag in intake of zinc which causes diarrhoea, growth retardation, loss of appetite and impaired immune function. Among children aged 1–4 years, zinc deficiency is more common in rural areas (20%) compared to urban areas (16%).
- Rural areas also witness higher prevalence of stunting (37% in rural versus 27% in urban), underweight (36% in rural versus 26% in urban) and severe acute malnutrition (34.7% in rural areas for children in 5-9 years versus 23.7% in urban areas, 27.4% in urban areas for adolescents in 10-19 years versus 32.4% in rural areas).
Children face rising risk of diabetes, high cholesterol
Topic: GS–II: Health
Indian children are facing the double burden of malnutrition and rising risk of non-communicable diseases including diabetes, high cholesterol, chronic kidney disease and hypertension, the findings of the Health Ministry’s recently released Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) 2016-18 show.
- The report presents data on the shifting conditions of both undernutrition and overweight, obesity among Indian children from 0-19 years.
Gold standard methods
- This was the largest micronutrient survey ever implemented globally and used gold standard methods to assess anaemia, micronutrient deficiencies and biomarkers of non-communicable diseases among children for the first time in India, noted the Ministry.
- Abdominal obesity among children and adolescents showed that prevalence of abdominal obesity increased with the level of mother’s schooling and household wealth.
- “The highest percentage of children with abdominal obesity was observed in Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Goa (7% each), while the lowest percentage was observed in Bihar (0.3%),” the survey observed.
- “For adolescents, the highest percentage of abdominal obesity was observed in Delhi (7%) and Tamil Nadu (6%) and the lowest percentage was observed in Assam (0.2%)”.
- The survey noted that overall 8% of children aged 5-9 years and 6% of adolescents aged 10-19 years had a high subscapular skinfold thickness — an anthropometric measurement used to evaluate nutritional status by estimating the amount of subcutaneous fat — for their age.
- “A much higher prevalence was observed among children and adolescents residing in urban areas as compared to rural settings. The largest prevalence was observed in Goa (21%) and Delhi (15%) with lowest prevalence being recorded from Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand (3%) and for adolescents in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Assam (2%).”
Physics Nobel Prize
Topic: GS -III: Science and Technology
This year’s Nobel Prize for Physics, recognises research that helps us understand our place in the universe.
- Canadian-American cosmologist James Peebles, 84, won one-half of the Prize for his theoretical work helping us understand how the universe evolved after the Big Bang. The other half went to Swiss astronomers Michel Mayor, 77, and Didier Queloz, 53, for their discovery of an exoplanet that challenged preconceived ideas about planets.
How the universe evolved
- Modern cosmology assumes that the universe formed as a result of the Big Bang. In decades of work since the 1960s, Peebles used theoretical physics and calculations to interpret what happened after. His work is focused largely on Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation, which is electromagnetic radiation left over from the early universe once it had cooled sufficiently following the Big Bang.
- Today, CMB can be observed with detectors. When it was observed for the first time in 1964 by radio astronomers Arnold Penzias and Robert Wilson —who would go non to be awarded the 1978 Physics Nobel — they were initially puzzled. They learnt later that Peebles had predicted such radiation.
- Peebles and colleagues have correlated the temperature of this radiation with the amount of matter created in the Big Bang, which was a key step towards understanding how this matter would later form the galaxies and galaxy clusters. From their work derives our knowledge of how mysterious the universe is — just 5% known matter and the rest unknown, as dark matter (26%) and dark energy (69%).
- The hunt for extraterrestrial life, if any exists, depends on finding habitable planets, mainly outside our Solar System. Today, exoplanets are being discovered very frequently — over 4,000 are known — which is remarkable progress from three decades ago, when not even one exoplanet was known. The first confirmed discoveries came in 1992, but these were orbiting not a star but the remains of one.
- The planet discovered by Mayor and Queloz in 1995 is 50 light years away, orbiting the star 51 Pegasus that is similar to our Sun. Called 51 Pegasus b, the exoplanet is not habitable either, but it challenged our understanding of planets and laid the foundation for future discoveries. Using a spectrograph, ELODIE, built by Mayor and collaborators and installed at the Haute-Provence Observatory in France, they predicted the planet by observing the “Doppler effect” — when the star wobbles as an effect of a planet’s gravity on its observed light.
- It is a gas giant comparable to Jupiter, yet it very hot, unlike icy cold Jupiter; 51 Pegagsus b is even closer to its star than Mercury is to our Sun. Until then, gas giants were presumed to be cold, formed a great distance from their stars. Today, it is accepted that these hot gas giants represent what Jupiter would look like if it were suddenly transported closer to the Sun. The discovery of the planet “started a revolution in astronomy”, as described in the official Nobel Prize website. “Strange new worlds are still being discovered… forcing scientists to revise their theories of the physical processes behind the origins of planets,” it said.
Rajnath receives first Rafale in France
Topic: GS -III: Security
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh formally received the first Rafale fighter jet built for the Indian Air Force (IAF) in France. However, the first batch of the jets will arrive in India only in May 2020.
· DassaultRafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation.
· Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. The Rafale is referred to as an “omnirole” aircraft by Dassault.
· Introduced in 2001, the Rafale is being produced for both the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations in the French Navy. The Rafale has been marketed for export to several countries, and was selected for purchase by the Indian Air Force, the Egyptian Air Force, and the Qatar Air Force. The Rafale has been used in combat over Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria. Several upgrades to the weapons and avionics of the Rafale are planned to be introduced by 2018.
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