Gist of The Hindu: January 2019

Gist of The Hindu: January 2019

Central govt. releases guidelines on HIV interventions in Prisons

  • Government is not only fully funding the HIV/AIDS programme but also increasing the resource envelope in accordance with the programme needs.” This was stated by Smt. Anupriya Patel, Minister of State (Health & Family Welfare) at a function to mark World AIDS Day, 2018 organised by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).
  • Speaking at the event, Smt. Anupriya Patel informed that the HIV/AIDS Programme has focused on more than one million people from high risk group and kept the infection of HIV in control through comprehensive and intense targeted interventions services.
  • “The Programme has also given attention to eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV and Syphilis by 2020. Under the PradhanMantriSurakshitMatritvaAbhiyan complete ante-natal check up facility is provided to all pregnant women across the country, including HIV testing.
  • The Minister further said that in a historic move, the HIV/AIDS (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017 was unanimously passed by the Government and it has also come into force. “This Act provides an enabling environment to HIV affected and infected population where they get a seamless access to services and a comprehensive grievance redressal mechanism with ombudsman at the Centre and Complaints Officer at establishments, she added.
  • Stressing on the need for multi-faceted and multi-sectoral response, Smt Anupriya Patel stated that NACO has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with 16 key Ministries to augment a comprehensive AIDS response. In addition to this NACO has signed MoUs with more than 250 industries of public and private sectors to mobilize their support.

External affairs minister to co-chair India-UAE joint commission for economic & technical cooperation

  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will co-chair the 12th session of the India-UAE Joint Commission Meeting for Economic and Technical Cooperation with her counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi during her official visit to the Gulf country from December 3-4.
  • With nearly USD 50 billion bilateral trade, the two countries are one of the largest trade partners for each other and have made robust investments bilaterally. The UAE is the sixth-largest source of Indian oil imports and hosts a 3.3 million-strong Indian community.
  • “We look forward to the visit of the External Affairs Minister to Abu Dhabi to co-chair the India-UAE Joint Commission,” India’s Ambassador to the UAE, Navdeep Singh Suri, said.
  • Mr.Suri said the minister’s visit is an important opportunity to continue the bilateral dialogue at the highest levels of government, to share views on major regional and global issues and to give a further boost to our comprehensive strategic partnership.
  • Meanwhile, the External Affairs Ministry has said that with the exchange of visits at the highest-level in the recent past, the bilateral relationship has been elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
  • Along with the UAE Foreign Minister, Ms.Swaraj would also inaugurate a Gandhi-Zayed Digital Museum in Abu Dhabi to mark the celebrations of 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth and centenary celebrations of the birth of Sheikh Zayed, founder of the modern UAE.

Mother’s milk influences rotavirus infection in children

  • By studying the complex interplay between the sugars and microbes in mother’s milk and the baby’s gut microbes, an international team of researchers has tried to understand neonatal rotavirus infection.
  • Rotavirus infection is one of the leading causes of gastroenteritis in children under five years worldwide. Babies in 10 Indian states are immunised against rotavirus.
  • The researchers first investigated whether human milk oligosaccharides (specific sugars in milk) can inhibit infection by a particular strain (G10P11) of rotavirus. In vitro studies were carried out on monkey kidney epithelial cells (MA104 cells).
  • Though mother’s milk sugars should be ideally killing the virus, the researchers found that the oligosaccharides enhanced the infection of cells with this strain of rotavirus.
  • The researchers then repeated the study in a neonatal nursery to validate their lab results. A study group of 181 mother–infant pairs were selected from the Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore. The sugars and microbiome of breast milk, and baby’s gut microbiome were characterised.
  • They found that oligosaccharides responsible for increased infectivity were “significantly higher” in breast milk where the babies had symptomatic infection.
  • There were also specific differences in the milk microbiome.

Optimal utilisation of demographic dividend crucial for India’s economic growth : Centre

  • India has an advantage of Demographic Dividend like no other country in the World has today with over 60% percent of its youth in the working age group at present”, said Minister of State for Chemicals & Fertilizers, Road Transport & Highways, Shipping, Shri Mansukh L. Mandaviya in a statement.
  • Shri Mandaviya said that in the near future, most of the sectors of Indian economy would require more skilled workforce than the present. It would be both a challenge and an opportunity for India to provide its workforce with required skill sets and knowledge to enable them to contribute substantially to its economic growth.
  • Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi has identified ‘Skill India’ as a mission to skill India’s youth and ensure optimal utilization of India’s demographic dividend, the Minister added.
  • In this background,the Minister informed that the Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals, under Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, has made good progress in creating skilled workforce and generating gainful employment for Indian youth through Central Institutes of Plastic Engineering & Technology (CIPETs) across the country.
  • Giving information in this regard, Shri Mandaviya informed that since 2014, there has been a significant jump in the number of CIPET centres in the country from 23 to 39 in 2018. In the field of Plastics Engineering and Technology, CIPET is running long-term and short-term courses, including post-graduate, undergraduate and diploma.

Whatsapp seeks RBI nod to expand its payment services

  • WhatsApp Chief has written to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), seeking a formal nod to expand payments services to all its 200 million users in India.]
  • The messaging app, which has drawn fire from the government over spread of fake messages on its platform, continues to wait for a regulatory clearance to launch full-fledged payments operations in India, months after its ‘testing’ amassed nearly one million users, and almost two years since it first began discussions with the government on its payments services plans.
  • The development comes at a time when competitors such as Google have forged ahead with their payments offerings.
  • WhatsApp is currently piloting WhatsApp payments, and its Chief Chris Daniels has now written to the RBI urging that a formal approval be granted to take the payments product to all its users in the country.
  • When contacted, a WhatsApp spokesperson said the platform is working closely with the Indian government, National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), and multiple banks, including payment service providers to expand the feature to more people and support the country’s digital economy.
  • WhatsApp has also made a case for scaling up its operations by citing the productivity gains that have accrued to Indian small business as a result of the digital tool, and expressed its deep commitment to the market.
  • WhatsApp’s ambitious payment services’ blueprint has been caught in a bind, over concerns around authentication and its data storage practices. In the past, its home grown rivals have alleged that WhatsApp’s payment platform has security risks for consumers and is not in compliance with the guidelines.

Qatar to quit OPEC from next year

  • Qatar is withdrawing from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as of January 2019, Saad al-Kaabi, the country’s Energy Minister said on Monday, December 3, 2018.
  • The decision came after Qatar, one of OPEC’s smallest producers but the world’s largest liquefied natural gas exporter, reviewed ways to enhance its role internationally and plan long-term strategy, including focusing on its gas industry, he said.
  • The announcement comes ahead of the meeting by OPEC and its allies including Russia on December 6-7 to discuss cutting supply.The Minister said the decision was not easy as Qatar has been in OPEC for 57 years, but that the country’s impact on OPEC production decisions was small.
  • He stressed that Doha would continue to abide by all its commitments like any other non-OPEC oil producer.
  • The withdrawal decision reflects Qatar’s intent to focus its efforts on developing its natural gas industry, the Minister said, as the Gulf state moves to increase LNG production from 77 million to 110 million tonnes annually.
  • He said the decision was not linked to a political and economic boycott of Qatar imposed since June 2017 by OPEC’s de facto leader Saudi Arabia and three other Arab states.

World Bank unveils USD 200 bn in climate action investment plan

  • The World Bank has unveiled 200 billion US Dollars in climate action investment for 2021 to 2025, adding that this amounts to a doubling of its current five-year funding. The move coincides with a UN climate summit in Katowice.
  • In a statement, the World Bank said, the move represents a significantly ramped up ambition to tackle climate change and sends an important signal to the wider global community to do the same.
  • The statement said the breakdown of 200 billion dollars would comprise approximately 100 billion in direct finance from the World Bank. Around one-third of the remaining funding will come from two World Bank Group agencies with the rest private capital mobilised by the World Bank Group.
  • World Bank senior director for climate change, John Roome said, if the emissions are not reduced, 100 million more people will be living in poverty by 2030.

Number of patents by India up in 2017 : WIPO

  • The number of patents granted by India shot up by 50% in 2017, keeping up a trend of steep increases, according to the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
  • The patents granted by India increased from 8,248 in 2016 to 12,387 last year, the WIPO’s World Intellectual Property Indicators 2018 report released in Geneva on Monday said.
  • Last year’s number was more than double the 6,022 patents granted in 2015, according to WIPO statistics.Of the patents granted last year, 1,712 went to entities and individuals based in India, and 10,675 to foreigners, according to the WIPO report.
  • The WIPO said that the steep increase in the number was driven by patents granted to foreigners, which accounted for 85% of the total increase.
  • The number of patents given to domestic entities has also shown an increasing trend: In 2016, 1,115 went to domestic individuals or entities and 7,133 to foreigners, and in 2015, 822 were granted to applicants in India and 5,200 to foreigners, the report said.

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Courtesy: The Hindu