National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 19th September 2018
UN Report: A child under 15 dies every 5 seconds around the world
Why in news?
According to the new mortality estimates released by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Population Division and the World Bank Group, an estimated 6.3 million children under 15 years of age died in 2017, or 1 every 5 seconds, mostly of preventable causes.
- In 2017, 2.5 million newborns died in their first month while 5.4 million deaths — occur in the first five years of life, with newborns accounting for around half of the deaths.
- Globally, in 2017, half of all deaths under five years of age took place in sub-Saharan Africa, and another 30% in Southern Asia.
- Also, a baby born in sub-Saharan Africa or in South Asia was nine times more likely to die in the first month than a baby born in a high-income country
- The most risky period of child’s life is the first month.
- The estimates also said that the number of children dying under five has fallen dramatically from 12.6 million in 1990 to 5.4 million in 2017.
- The number of deaths in older children aged between 5 to 14 years dropped from 1.7 million to under a million in the same period.
- Under-five mortality rates among children in rural areas are, on average, 50% higher than among children in urban areas.
- In addition, those born to uneducated mothers are more than twice more likely to die before turning five than those born to mothers with a secondary or higher education.
- Most children under 5 die due to preventable or treatable causes such as complications during birth, pneumonia, diarrhea, neonatal sepsis and malaria.
- Among children between 5 and 14 years of age, injuries become a more prominent cause of death, especially from drowning and road traffic.
- Within this age group, regional differences exist, with the risk of dying for a child from sub-Saharan Africa 15 times higher than in Europe.
Akash Upgraded version
Why in news?
DRDO developed Akash as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme which was initiated in 1984.
- It is made by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).
- Akash is a surface-to-air missile defense system
- Akash can fly at supersonic speeds, ranging from Mach 2.8 to 3.5
- Akash has a range of 25 km and can engage multiple targets at a time in all-weather conditions.
- Akash missile has an indigenous content of 96 per cent.
- It has a large operational envelope, from 30 meter to a maximum of 20 km.
- The upgraded version will include the seeker technology and possess a 360-degree coverage, and will be of compact configuration.
- It is operationally critical equipment, which will provide protection to vital assets.
India’s challenge will be fighting non-communicable diseases
Why in news?
As Apollo Hospitals celebrates the 35th anniversary of its founding, the group’s chairman, Prathap C. Reddy, is looking ahead to make the most of the global advances in medical technology rather than choosing to rest on past laurels. In this interview, he speaks on a number of issues, including the need for increased government spending on health, the right pricing strategies for the soon-to-be-launched Central scheme of Ayushmaan Bharat, and the scope for medical tourism in India.
His views on the Private health-care model
- He mentions the point that about thirty-five years ago, private health care was not really considered as a doable model.
- It was essentially just the charitable and government sectors that were providing health care.
- Unfortunately, India, which at one point in time, did have medical institutions at par with the best in the world, fell back because of lack of upgradation of infrastructure for over 30 years.
- He also goes on to add that we as a society need to recognise that the doctor is important, and that continuous training on the job is essential, in order that he gives the highest calibre of skills to the patient.
- In 2017, the size of the Indian health-care sector was estimated at $160 billion,
- Currently, the Indian health-care sector is projected to grow to $372 billion by 2023.
- As a matter of fact, the hospital sector alone was worth $62 billion in 2017, and is expected to grow to $133 billion by 2023, with the private sector accounting for about 74%.
- There are around 40-45 million admissions per year in private hospitals in India.
Views on Non-Communicable Diseases
- By 2020, diabetes will pose to be a major challenge. Currently, China has the highest number of diabetics in the world. India, at the rate at which she is going is bound to catch up in a few years.
- India also has the unfortunate tag of being the cancer capital of the world, the stroke capital, and the heart disease capital of the world.
- According to a World Economic Forum study, the world will spend $30 trillion by 2030 and India’s share of that would be $4.8 trillion.
- Currently, India is battling to raise the health allocation to at least 3% of the GDP from about 1.5%.
Views on Medical Tourism
- Currently, over 3.5 lakh persons from over 150 countries visit India every year for treatment.
- According to the data presented in the Lok Sabha earlier this year, the Ministry of Tourism’s estimate was 4.27 lakh people in 2017.
- Currently, we see that the government has hiked the medical visa fee for patients and attenders. Further, while patients could come in on a tourist visa earlier, today, they need a valid medical visa to seek treatment in India now.
- A different narrative is witnessed in countries such as Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, more recently even Korea. The nations are trying to woo patients with easy entry formalities.
SEBI cuts expense ratio for MF schemes
Why in news?
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has broadly accepted the recommendations of the H.R. Khan Committee on Know-Your-Client (KYC) requirements for foreign portfolio investors (FPIs), while lowering the Total Expense Ratio (TER) for open-ended equity schemes, thereby making it less expensive for investors to invest in mutual funds. SEBI has agreed to amend the circular [issued in April] and the new one is largely in line with Khan Committee recommendations.
- It is the annual fee charged by the mutual fund scheme to manage money on behalf of individuals.
- It covers the fund manager’s fee along with other expenses required to run the fund administration.
- Asset management companies (AMCs) employ highly qualified professionals to track developments in equity, debt and money markets and then transact accordingly in the asset markets to attain the objectives that are stated in the fund’s offer documents. For such specialised services, the AMC pays a management fee to the professionals.
- There are operating expenses too, such as the fee for transfer and registrar agents.
- They are responsible for issuing and redeeming units of the mutual fund and providing other related services, such as preparation of transfer documents and updating investor records.
- Other than these charges, a fee is also paid to the custodian, who buys and sells securities in large volumes.
- Moreover, there are legal expenses, audit fees, as well as marketing and distribution expenses
- A mutual fund recovers such costs through its unit holders on a daily basis. The daily net asset values (NAVs) of a fund scheme are reported after deducting such expenses, though the expense ratio is disclosed only once every six months.
- If the funds’ assets are small, the expense ratio can be quite high so that the fund can meet its expenses from a restricted or a smaller asset base.
- If the net assets of the fund are large, the expense percentage should ideally diminish as expenses are spread across a wider asset base.
- Therefore it measures per unit cost of managing a fund.
Changes made by SEBI
- The market regulator, SEBI sets a ceiling for the expense ratio for equity mutual fund, for debt funds, for index funds, for fund of funds (FoFs).
- SEBI capped the total expense ratio (TER) for equity-oriented mutual fund schemes (close-ended and interval schemes) at 1.25% and for other schemes at 1%.
- However, it allowed an extra 30 basis points (bps) for selling in B-30 (beyond top 30) cities. One basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.
- The TER cap for fund of funds will be 2.25% for equity-oriented schemes and 2% for other schemes.
- The regulator has, however, allowed an additional expense ratio of 30 basis points for retail flows from beyond the top 30 cities.
- More importantly, the additional expense will not be allowed for flows from corporates and institutions.
- Laws managing losses in the Market
- The regulator has framed the SEBI (Settlement Proceedings) Regulations 2018 which bar offences that cause a marketwide impact, loss to investors or affects the integrity of the market, to be settled through the consent route.
- While serious offences like insider trading or front running can be settled through consent, the regulator has said that it would use a principle-based approach while deciding on such matters.
- The regulator will also not settle any proceedings wherein the applicant is a wilful defaulter or if an earlier application for the same offence has been rejected.
- The board of the capital markets has also approved a framework for permitting foreign entities having an exposure in physical commodity market to hedge in the commodity derivatives segment.
- Sebi also reduced the time period for listing after an initial public offering to three days from six, freeing up locked investor funds faster.
Why in the news?
Presently, some researchers are challenging the decision made by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in the year 2006. These researchers cite the manner in which scientific tradition has dealt with the taxonomy of planets.
- In the year, 2006 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) voted to remove Pluto’s planetary status.
- This decision ended years of debate on whether or not Pluto is a planet.
- The IAU, in 2006, designated Pluto as a ‘dwarf planet’.
- This designation was done along with Ceres in the asteroid belt and Xena, which is an object in the Kuiper belt.
What is the Kuiper belt?
- The Kuiper belt is an icy ring of frozen objects that circle the solar system beyond Neptune’s orbit.
- The Kuiper Belt is a doughnut-shaped ring of icy objects around the Sun, extending just beyond the orbit of Neptune from about 30 to 55 AU.
- Short-period comets (which take less than 200 years to orbit the Sun) originate in the Kuiper Belt.
Criteria for a celestial object to be called a planet
- It must orbit the Sun;
- It should be massive enough to acquire an approximately spherical shape;
- It has to ‘clear its orbit’, which means that the object that exerts the maximum gravitational pull within its orbit.
- Pluto is affected by Neptune’s gravity.
- Further, Pluto also shares its orbit with the frozen objects in the Kuiper belt. Based on this, the IAU deemed that Pluto did not ‘clear its orbit’.
- Dwarf planets, on the other hand, need only satisfy the first two conditions.
- The above rationale was questioned by Philip Metzger whos is a planetary physicist. He and his team have come up with several exceptions to the third rule.
- In a paper published in the journal Icarus, they point out that the only work in history that used this rule to classify planets was an article by William Herschel in 1802.
- They further argue that this work was based on reasoning and observations that have since been disproved.
If Pluto were to be re-designated a planet, what would happen?
- Charon, which is Pluto’s moon, is much too large to be called a satellite. Judging by this, the Charon-Pluto system should then rightly be called a binary planet system.
- If this is done, it would then lead to classifying several other sets of bodies as binary planets.
- Further, recent research shows that both the Kuiper Belt and the Oort cloud, contain objects that can then be called planets, thereby complicating the issue.
About Oort Cloud
- The Oort Cloud is essentially an extended shell of icy objects that exist in the outermost reaches of the solar system. It is a shell of objects that surrounds the entire solar system far beyond the Kuiper belt.
- This region of space is named after astronomer Jan Oort, who was the first who theorised its existence.
India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP)
Why in news?
MoEFCC has released the draft India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP). ICAP has been prepared by the ministry after extensive deliberations and multi-stakeholders engagement in public domain for receiving comments.
- India is the first country in world to develop such a document (ICAP), which addresses cooling requirement across sectors and lists out actions which can help reduce the cooling demand.
- The overarching goal is to provide sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all while securing environmental and socio-economic benefits for the society.
- The goals emerging from the suggested interventions stated in ICAP are:
- Reduction of cooling demand across sectors by 20% to 25 % by year 2037-38.
- Reduction of refrigerant demand by 25% to 30% by year 2037-38.
- Reduction of cooling energy requirements by 25% to 40% by year 2037-38.
- Training and certification of 100,000 servicing sector technicians by the year 2022-23, in synergy with Skill India Mission.
- Assessment of cooling requirements across sectors in next 20 years and the associated refrigerant demand and energy use.
- Map the technologies available to cater the cooling requirement including passive interventions, refrigerant-based technologies and alternative technologies such as not-in-kind technologies.
- Suggest interventions in each sector to provide for sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all.
- Focus on skilling of RAC service technicians.
- Develop an R&D innovation ecosystem for indigenous development of alternative technologies.
‘Smart fence’ pilot project
Why in news?
India’s first ‘smart fence’ pilot project has been launched along the India-Pakistan International Border in Ploura, Jammu and Kashmir.
- The pilot project involves deploying of laser-activated fences and technology-enabled barriers to plug vulnerable gaps along the frontiers.
- The smart fencing uses a number of devices for surveillance, communication and data storage.
- The innovative system provides for round-the-clock surveillance on the border, even in different weather conditions be it dust storm, fog or rain.
- It also reportedly comprises automated surveillance technology and alarm detection systems.
- The smart fence pilot project is expected to be a massive boon for monitoring security situations in border areas.
- It is a technological solution devised to make the security system at the borders more strong and effective.
- The system will virtually make it impossible for terrorists to infiltrate into the Indian side of the border.