Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 4 September 2018
Expert panel recommends conservation of Himalayan springs
- A NITI Aayog constituted group of experts has urged the government to
set up a dedicated mission to salvage and revive spring water systems in the
country’s Himalayan States given their vital importance as a source of water
for both drinking and irrigation for the region’s inhabitants.
- Spanning States across the country’s north and northeast and home to
about 50 million people, the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) has been heavily
reliant on these natural groundwater sources, that are under increasing
threat from the urbanisation caused by a constant push for development and
- The extent of the crisis plaguing the mountainous region was recently
evident when more than half a dozen districts of Himachal Pradesh and the
State capital Shimla faced a severe drinking water crisis this May after
major water sources either went fully or partially dry.
- While poor water management was said to be the key cause, according to
State authorities, they also attributed reduced snowmelt and depressed flow
from springs as contributors to the crisis.
- The task force moots an 8-year programme to overhaul spring water
management. This includes: preparing a digital atlas of the country’s
springsheds, training ‘para-hydrogeologists’ who could lead grassroots
conservation and introduction of a ‘Spring Health Card.’
Draft Charter of Patients’ Rights released by the Union Ministry of Health
and Family Welfare
- If the draft Charter of Patients’ Rights released by the Union Ministry
of Health and Family Welfare comes into force, patients will not just have
the right to emergency medical care and informed consent, but will also have
the right to non-discrimination, seek a second opinion and choose
alternative treatment options, if available.
- The draft, prepared by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has
been put up on the Health Ministry’s website on August 30 for comments and
suggestions. According to a notice issued by Joint Secretary Sudhir Kumar,
the Ministry plans to implement the Charter of Patients’ Rights through
State governments for provision of proper health care by clinical
- Although some States have adopted the national Clinical Establishments
Act 2010 and certain others have enacted their own State-level legislations
to regulate hospitals, there is no consolidated document on patients’ rights
that can be followed by all States uniformly.
- The draft charter that includes 17 rights with description, draws upon
all relevant provisions, inspired by international charters and guided by
national level provisions, with the objective of consolidating these into a
- Right to non-discrimination is an important right. Every patient has the
right to receive treatment without any discrimination based on his or her
illnesses or conditions, including HIV status or other health condition,
religion, caste, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Supreme court thrashes out on states without solid waste management policies
- The Supreme Court said it was “pathetic” that some States and Union
Territories had not bothered to frame a solid waste management policy.
- The court ordered that further construction activities be stopped in
some States and Union Territories that remained unmindful of the interests
of their people to live in a clean environment.
- A Bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur imposed fines on some States
and the Union Territory of Chandigarh for not placing on record their
respective policies under the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.While
Andhra Pradesh was ordered to pay Rs. 5 lakh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh,
Uttarakhand and Chandigarh were imposed costs of Rs. 3 lakh each.
- In case the States have the interest of the people in mind and
cleanliness and sanitation, they should frame a Policy in terms of the Solid
Waste Management Rules so that the States remain clean. The attitude of the
States/Union Territories in not yet framing a Policy even after two years is
pathetic, to say the least. Further constructions in the States/Union
Territories are stayed until the policy is framed, supreme court observed.
- Justice Lokur had condemned the attitude of the authorities at one
point, saying “if they want the people to live in dirt, filth and garbage,
what can be done then.”
RBI tightens ombudsman scheme
- The Reserve Bank of India has tightened the banking ombudsman scheme
with the objective to strengthen the grievance redressal mechanism for
- The banking regulator has asked all commercial banks having 10 or more
banking outlets to have an independent internal ombudsman (IO) to review
customer complaints that are either partly or fully rejected by the banks.
- “The IO shall, inter alia, examine customer complaints which are in the
nature of deficiency in service on the part of the bank, that are partly or
wholly rejected by the bank,” RBI said in a statement. The instructions are
not applicable for Regional Rural Banks sponsored by commercial banks.
- As banks should internally escalate complaints that are not fully
redressed to their respective IOs before conveying the final decision to the
complainant, customers need not approach the IO directly, the RBI said.
- According to bankers, the Internal Ombudsman Scheme of 2018 mandates
banks to grant a fixed term of three to five years, which cannot be renewed,
to the IO. The IO can be removed only with prior approval from RBI. The
remuneration would have to be decided by the customer sub-committee of the
President RamNathKovind reaches Cyprus,addresses the house of
- The President of India, Shri Ram NathKovind, reached Cyprus yesterday
(September 2, 2018) on the first leg of his State Visit to three European
nations – Cyprus, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. He addressed the members
of the House of Representatives of Cyprus in Nicosia.
- Speaking on the occasion, the President said that relations between
Cyprus and India are old, deep and have multiple facets. As ancient
civilisations, our first priority is our people. The strong connection
between the citizens of Cyprus and India is the most important source of our
- From people-to-people contacts, we build economic and trade links,
educational and intellectual connections, and a fruitful bilateral
partnership. Then of course are issues of common concern and our mutual
commitment to peace, security and sovereignty. This takes us to the
multilateral sphere and to global matters, where inevitably we find
ourselves on the same side.
- The President said that India’s overriding mission is its economic
growth and modernisation, with the fruits of development reaching all
sections of our people. Cyprus, as a trusted partner and as one of the
largest investors in India, is critical to this process. India is at an
exciting juncture and offers appealing business opportunities.
- Speaking on the occasion, the President underlined the common values
that mark India-Cyprus relations. India is the fastest growing major economy
in the world, he said. This opens up opportunities for investments for
Cyprus. Cyprus should look at not just portfolio investments but enter
sectors such as infrastructure, real estate, renewable energy, pharma,
wellness and healthcare.
China offers large sum of money to Africa in form of aid
- China has pledged a $60 billion fund to bolster industry, counter
hunger, and enhance security in Africa, a continent that has been
chronically plagued by piracy and terrorism.
- In his inaugural address at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC),
President Xi Jinping was authoritative in messaging that Beijing had become
the locomotive of Africa’s all-round progress.
- Among the eight verticals flagged on Monday, President Xi highlighted
China’s intent to set up additional economic and trade cooperation zones to
promote industrialisation in Africa. Local currency settlements, instead of
hard currency usage such as the U.S. dollar, would be encouraged to settle
- The Chinese have taken umbrage against allegations of involvement in
“debt trap” diplomacy by saddling smaller countries with unplayable loans
and using them as levers for political gain. President Xi stressed that out
of the $60 billion that were on offer, $15 billion would be disbursed as
aid, interest-free loans and concessional loans.
- Mr. Xi said 50 China-Africa security assistance programmes will be
launched under the flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). He also flagged
a China-Africa “green envoys programme” that would muscle Africa’s capacity
for environmental management, pollution prevention and control, as well as
- President Xi also announced that China will train 1,000 high-calibre
Africans, provide 50,000 government scholarships, sponsor seminars and
workshops that would benefit 50,000 Africans, and invite 2,000 African
youths to visit China for exchanges.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
New drug resistant superbug causing fear in hospitals
- A superbug resistant to all known antibiotics that can cause “severe”
infections or even death is spreading undetected through hospital wards
across the world, scientists in Australia warned on Monday.
- Researchers at the University of Melbourne discovered three variants of
the multidrug-resistant bug in samples from 10 countries, including strains
in Europe that cannot be reliably tamed by any drug currently on the market.
- The bacteria, known as Staphylococcus epidermidis , is related to the
better-known and more deadly MRSA superbug.It’s found naturally on human
skin and most commonly infects the elderly or patients who have had
prosthetic materials implanted, such as catheters and joint replacements.
- The researchers found that some strains of the bug made a small change
in its DNA that led to resistance to two of the most common antibiotics,
often administered in tandem to treat hospital infections.
- Another Australian study, published last month, suggested some hospital
superbugs are growing increasingly tolerant to alcohol-based disinfectants
found in handwashes and sanitisers used on hospital wards. “This highlights
that the use of more and more antibiotics is driving more drug-resistant
bacteria,” They said.
England’s Alastair Cook retires from international cricket
- Alastair Cook has announced his retirement from international cricket,
with the fifth Test against India at the Oval set to be his last. The
33-year-old opener is England’s all-time leading run-scorer and the
sixth-highest run-scorer in Test history.
- Cook has played 160 Test matches, with 12,254 runs to his name. He made
his Test debut in Nagpur in 2006 at the age of 21, and scored a century in
the second innings. He played a key role in England’s historic Ashes win in
Australia in 2010, scoring 766 runs. Two years later, he led from the front
as England won a Test series in India after 28 years.
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