- The India Meteorological Department issued an advisory to Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and the Lakshadweep archipelago over cyclonic storm ‘Sagar’.
- Sagar is the name given by India, which is part of cyclone name list for the Northern Indian Ocean.
- WMO maintains rotating lists of names which are appropriate for each Tropical Cyclone basin.
- If a cyclone is particularly deadly or costly, then its name is retired and replaced by another one.
- Infamous storm names such as Haiyan (Philippines, 2013), Sandy (USA, 2012), Katrina (USA, 2005), Mitch (Honduras, 1998) and Tracy (Darwin, 1974) are examples for this.
- Tropical cyclone is a localized, very intense low-pressure wind system, forming over tropical oceans and with winds of hurricane force.
- As part of goodwill gesture and to strengthen relations between India and Samoa, the Union Minister of State for Tribal Affairs (MoS) will embark on a weeklong visit to Samoa, Pacific Island country.
- This is the first Ministerial level visit from Government of India.
- The Independent State of Samoa, known as Western Samoa until 1997, is made up of nine volcanic islands.
- Savai’i and Upolu 2 of the seven islands make up more than 99% of the land.
- It was governed by New Zealand until its people voted for independence in 1961.
- The Dutch navigator Jacob Roggeveen is the first European to explore Samoa.
Teams to clean beaches, river fronts
- In the build-up to the World Environment Day 2018, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, has formed 19 teams to take up cleaning of beaches, river fronts and lakes in the country.
- The teams will include senior officers of MoEF&CC, state nodal agencies in-charge of eco-clubs of schools, State Pollution Control Boards, district administration, college of fisheries located along the coastal stretches and other educational/research institutions.
- The Ministry will be engaging Eco-club schools, which are being provided assistance from MoEF&CC under the National Green Corps program.
- State Nodal Agencies (SNAs) are the nodal points for implementing the programme of the Ministry in every State.
- At the end of the program, the Minister will be awarding certificates titled ‘Green School/college’ to institutions that declare themselves free from plastic pollution.
- India is the global host of World Environment Day celebrations 2018, the largest UN-led celebrations on environment.
- The theme of this year’s edition of World Environment Day is – “Beat Plastic Pollution”.
Director General of Trade Disputes
- Department of Commerce formally issued notification for creation of Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- The Commerce and Industry Minister has given his approval for creation of DGTR in Department of Commerce, consequent upon amendment carried out by Government of India to the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961.
- DGTR will be the apex National Authority for administering all trade remedial measures including anti-dumping, countervailing duties and safeguard measures.
- The DGTR will bring Directorate General of Anti-dumping and Allied duties (DGAD), Directorate General of Safeguards (DGS) and Safeguards (QR) functions of Directorate General of Foreign Trade into its fold by merging them into one single national entity.
- It will also provide trade defence support to our domestic industry and exporters in dealing with increasing instances of trade remedy investigations instituted against them by other countries.
- DGTR will be a multi service organization drawing upon the skill-set of various officers from the field of International Trade, Customs, Revenue, Finance, Economics, Costing and Law.
- Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare addressed the Fisheries Ministers of Coastal states and Union Territories at National Conference of Fisheries Ministers of Coastal states.
- The Government has introduced a sub-component ‘Assistance for Deep Sea Fishing’ under the Blue Revolution to promote the same.
- The Government has made a budget provision of Rs 7,522.48 crore for the establishment of Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FAIDF).
- It has the potential to benefit 40 lakh marine and inland fishermen, especially women, self-help groups, weaker sections by making available modern infrastructure facilities and increased value of the produce.
- The Central Government has imposed a ban on the use of harmful fishing methods in EEZ such as LED or artificial light and pair trawling.
- The Centre and the coastal states will have to work together for an effective implementation of the National Marine Policy.
Swachh Survekshan 2018
The Swachh Survekshan 2018 results have been announced. It was organized by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), under the aegis of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), assessed 4203 Urban Local Bodies. Compared to the previous surveys, this year’s exercise allocated substantial weightage to the feedback from citizens based on their daily experience.The on-field survey for Swachh Survekshan was conducted by an independent agency and the data for ranking of the cities collected from 3 sources:
- Service Level Progress: To verify whether systems and processes are in place in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to implement Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) in the most efficient way.
- Direct Observation: To verify and assess general cleanliness in the cities by making random field visits in different parts of the city and public conveniences (Community/Public Toilets).
- Citizens Feedback: To collect feedback directly from citizens and monitor the performance of Swachhata App, a citizens grievance Mobile App.
Performance of various cities:
- Indore has emerged as the cleanest city, followed by Bhopal and Chandigarh. Indore was the cleanest city last year as well.
- Jharkhand has been adjudged as the best performing state, followed by Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh.
- Cleanest State Capital/UT: Greater Mumbai.
- India’s ‘Cleanest big City’: Vijaywada (Andhra Pradesh).
- India’s ‘Fastest Mover’ big City: Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh).
- India’s Best City in ‘Citizens Feedback’: Kota (Rajasthan).
- India’s Best City in ‘Innovation & Best Practices’: Nagpur (Maharashtra).
- India’s Best City in ‘Solid Waste Management: Navi Mumbai (Maharashtra).
- India’s Cleanest Medium City: Mysuru (Karnataka).
- India’s ‘Fastest Mover’ Medium City: Bhiwandi (Maharashtra).
- India’s Best City in ‘Citizens Feedback’: Parbhani (Maharashtra).
- India’s Best City in ‘Innovation & Best Practices’: Aligarh (Uttar Pradesh).
- India’s Best City in ‘Solid Waste Management: Mangalore (Karnataka).
- India’s Cleanest Small City: New Delhi Municipal Council.
- India’s ‘Fastest Mover’ Small City: Bhusawal (Maharashtra).
- India’s Best City in ‘Citizens Feedback’: Giridih (Jharkhand).
- India’s Best City in ‘Innovation & Best Practices’: Ambikapur (Jharkhand).
- India’s Best City in ‘Solid Waste Management: Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh).
- In 2016, Swachh Survekshan was conducted in 73 cities having a population of one million or more and capital city of States/ UTs and Mysore had bagged the award of being the cleanest city of India.
- In 2017, the scope of Swachh Survekshan was enlarged to cover 434 cities having a population of one lakh or more and Capital city of states/ UTs and Indore was awarded as cleanest city of India.
WHO list of essential diagnostic tests
WHO has published its first Essential Diagnostics List, a catalogue of the tests needed to diagnose the most common conditions as well as a number of global priority diseases. The aim is to provide a tool that can be useful to all countries, to test and treat better, but also to use health funds more efficiently by concentrating on the truly essential tests.
- The list concentrates on in vitro tests – i.e. tests of human specimens like blood and urine. It contains 113 products.
- 58 tests are listed for detection and diagnosis of a wide range of common conditions, providing an essential package that can form the basis for screening and management of patients.
- 55 tests are designed for the detection, diagnosis and monitoring of “priority” diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis B and C, human papillomavirus and syphilis.
- Some of the tests are particularly suitable for primary health care facilities, where laboratory services are often poorly resourced and sometimes non-existent. These tests do not require electricity or trained personnel. Other tests are more sophisticated and therefore intended for larger medical facilities.
- For each category of test, the Essential Diagnostics List specifies the type of test and intended use, format, and if appropriate for primary health care or for health facilities with laboratories. The list also provides links to WHO Guidelines or publications and, when available, to prequalified products.
Significance of the list:
Similar to the WHO Essential Medicines List, which has been in use for four decades, the Essential Diagnostics List is intended to serve as a reference for countries to update or develop their own list of essential diagnostics. In order to truly benefit patients, national governments will need to ensure appropriate and quality-assured supplies, training of health care workers and safe use. To that end, WHO will provide support to countries as they adapt the list to the local context.
Need for diagnostic services:
An accurate diagnosis is the first step to getting effective treatment. However, many people are unable to get tested for diseases because they cannot access diagnostic services. Many are incorrectly diagnosed. As a result, they do not receive the treatment they need and, in some cases, may actually receive the wrong treatment.
For example, an estimated 46% of adults with Type 2 diabetes worldwide are undiagnosed, risking serious health complications and higher health costs. Late diagnosis of infectious diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis increases the risk of spread and makes them more difficult to treat.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the Ebola health risk assessment to “very high” in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While the WHO raised the national public health risk to ‘very high,” it said the global risk level is “currently low.”
More than 11,000 people died in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014-2015, mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The last outbreak in the DRC was in 2014 and killed more than 40 people. The region affected lies 1,300 km north-east of Kinshasa, close to the border with the Central African Republic.
- Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
- Transmission: The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
- The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.
- Prevention: Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service and social mobilisation.
- Early supportive care with rehydration, symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is as yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralise the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development.
BSE becomes India’s first exchange to be recognized as a DOSM by the US SEC
Asia’s first stock exchange, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) has become the first stock exchange in India to have received recognition as a ‘Designated Offshore Securities Market’ (DOSM) from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The DOSM status allows the sale of securities to U.S. investors through the trading venue of BSE without registration of such securities with the US SEC and thus eases the trades by US investors in India.
Prior to this recognition, investors who wished to sell such securities (i.e., equity or debt securities issued by BSE listed companies in a private placement under the U.S. securities laws) had to take certain measures to ascertain the location of the purchaser prior to re-selling.
The availability of a liquid resale market is expected to:
- Make exempt offerings by BSE-listed companies more attractive to U.S. investors.
- Enhance the attractiveness of Indian Depository Receipts (IDRs) amongst US investors.
What is an IDR?
An IDR is a depository receipt denominated in Indian rupees issued by a domestic depository in India. Much like an equity share, it is an ownership pie of a company. Since foreign companies are not allowed to list on Indian equity markets, IDR is a way to own shares of those companies. These IDRs are listed on Indian stock exchanges.
IDRs and equity shares:
IDRs are similar to equity shares. IDR holders have the same rights as shareholders; They can vote for or against company moves or decisions as and when it comes to them, get dividends, bonus and rights issues as and when the company declares them.
NASA’s GRACE mission has confirmed that a massive redistribution of freshwater is occurring across the Earth, with middle-latitude belts drying and the tropics and higher latitudes gaining water supplies.
What’s causing this?
A combination of the effects of climate change, vast human withdrawals of groundwater and simple natural changes are behind this.
If this continues, it could have profound consequences leading to a situation in which some highly populous regions could struggle to find enough water in the future.
- The resulting map of the findings shows an overall pattern, in which ice sheets and glaciers lose by far the most mass at the poles, but at the same time, middle latitudes show multiple areas of growing dryness even as higher latitudes and the tropical belt tend to see increases in water.
- The study emphasizes that the 34 separate changes that it detects do not all have the same cause – not even close.
- There’s very strong suspicion that the melting of glaciers and ice sheets is tied to climate change. On land, it’s possible that some droughts and rainfall increases may be also, though the study is cautious about that, noting that natural variability can also be a major factor here.
- There are also some major cases of humans increasing water storage in the landscape, particularly in China, where massive dam construction has created enormous reservoirs.
- Mainly, though, what’s striking about the map is the way that a combination of human-driven water withdrawals and droughts seem to be punishing the central latitudes of the northern hemisphere in particular, but also the southern hemisphere to a significant extent.
- The GRACE mission was selected as the second mission under the NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) Program in May 1997. Launched in March of 2002, the GRACE mission mapped variations in Earth’s gravity field. Designed for a nominal mission lifetime of five years, GRACE operated in an extended mission phase till 2017.
- GRACE is a joint partnership between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States and Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Luft und Raumfahrt (DLR) in Germany.
- GRACE consists of two identical spacecraft that fly about 220 kilometers (137 miles) apart in a polar orbit 500 kilometers (310 miles) above Earth. GRACE maps Earth’s gravity field by making accurate measurements of the distance between the two satellites, using GPS and a microwave ranging system.
Radar in a CubeSat (RainCube)
NASA is planning to deliver RainCube to the ISS on the OA-9 resupply mission.
- RainCube (Radar in a CubeSat) is a technology demonstration mission to enable Ka-band precipitation radar technologies on a low-cost, quick-turnaround platform. RainCube will demonstrate the feasibility of a radar payload on a CubeSat platform.
- Sponsored by NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office (ESTO) through the InVEST-15 program, RainCube developed a 35.75 GHz radar payload to operate within the 6U CubeSat form factor.
RainCube has three main objectives:
- Develop, launch, and operate the first radar instrument on a CubeSat (6U).
- Demonstrate new technologies and provide space validation for a Ka-band (35.75 GHz) precipitation profiling radar.
- Enable future precipitation profiling Earth science missions on a low-cost, quick-turnaround platform.