Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
Global Hunger Index
According to the latest Global Hunger Index data, hunger levels in developing countries may have fallen 29% since 2000, but India is still rated as a country with ‘serious’ hunger levels in the 2016. This year’s report hails a new paradigm of international development proposed in the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which envisages Zero Hunger by 2030, as one goal among 17, in a holistic, integrated, and transformative plan for the world.
The report is released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
The hunger index ranks countries based on four indicators.(Prelim question of UPSC- CSE- 2016)
Undernourishment: the proportion of undernourished people as a percentage of the population (reflecting the share of the population whose caloric intake is insufficient;
Child wasting: the proportion of children under the age of five who suffer from wasting (that is, low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition);
Child stunting: the proportion of children under the age of five who suffer from stunting (that is, low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and
Child mortality: the mortality rate of children under the age of five (partially reflecting the fatal synergy of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments).
The GHI ranks countries on a 100-point scale. Zero is the best score (no hunger), and 100 is the worst, although neither of these extremes is reached in practice.
The 2016 report ranked 118 countries in the developing world, almost half of which have “serious” or “alarming” hunger levels.
The GHI score for the developing world as a whole is 21.3, which is in the low end of the “serious” category. Regionally, Africa South of the Sahara has the highest hunger level, followed closely by South Asia.
Hunger levels are “alarming” in seven countries, with Central African Republic (CAR), Chad and Zambia experiencing the worst levels. The report also said that another 43 countries, including India, Nigeria and Indonesia, have “serious” hunger levels.
It ranked India 97 among 118 countries, faring worse than all its neighbors China (29), Nepal (72), Myanmar (75), Sri Lanka (84) and Bangladesh (90), except for Pakistan (107) in measures of hunger.
The report found that one in three children in India has stunted growth, whereas 15% of the country’s population are undernourished. India’s score is 28.5. An improvement of 7.5 (36 in 2008)
Detailed score for India, 2016
Proportion of undernourished in population (%)
Prevalence of wasting in children under five years (%)
Prevalence of stunting in children under five years (%)
Under five mortality rate (%)
Country data (in %)
Paper 3 Topic: biodiversity.
Nagaland ready for Amur falcons, to mark arrival with a postage stamp
The department of posts has agreed to release a special postal cover next month to mark the occasion of the returning Amur Falcons.
Thousands of Amur falcons, small birds of prey that undertake one of the longest migrations have started arriving in Wokha district in Nagaland and Tamenglong district of Manipur. Wokha district is a declared second home of the Amur falcons.
Weighing 160–200 g, Amur Falcon is a small bird of prey and is a long distance, trans-equatorial migrant, travelling from eastern Asia all the way to southern Africa and back every year. Annually, in early autumn, these migrant falcons leave their Asian breeding range and travel to parts of northeast India and Bangladesh that act as staging areas for the overland flights across India. Subsequently, they undertake the longest regular overwater migration of any bird of prey, crossing over the Indian Ocean between western India and tropical east Africa, a journey of more than 4,000 km, which includes nocturnal flight.
This species is adapted to the strong monsoon tailwinds, which results in its late arrival in eastern Africa in autumn. Migrants are said to arrive in their southern African winter range in November-December and depart by early May .spring passage route is not clearly known, and it is suspected that they fly across the Arabian Peninsula, north through Afghanistan and then to East Asia.
The species flies non-stop from Mongolia to northeast India covering 5,600 km in five days which will make a four to five week stop-over in Wokha en route to South Africa..
Until recently, Naga tribesmen used to hunt thousands of Amur falcons for meat. But, after a vigorous campaign by wildlife activists, they have pledged to protect the bird and since then, not a single bird has been hunted in the area.
A joint mission to satellite tag Amur Falcons in Nagaland between November 4–9, 2013 was thus initiated by the Wildlife Institute of India in collaboration with the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MOU); the Nagaland State Forest Department.
Paper 3, Topic- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Lung friendly: Palampur to set the standards for air quality
A hill station in Himachal Pradesh may soon set the bar for clean air in India. The National Physical Laboratory, a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research organisation, b has set up instruments in Palampur that will measure atmospheric levels of a wide range of pollutants including ozone, nitrous oxides, ammonia and particulate matter.
Based on at least a year’s worth of observations on how these gases vary and the influence of local weather, the scientists hope to develop a reference standard for air quality — realistic to India’s climate — that can be extrapolated to other cities and regions.
Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
Cabinet approves revision of ethanol price for supply to Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the mechanism for revision of ethanol price for supply to Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to carry out the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme in the following manner:
Background: Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme was launched by the Government in 2003 which has been extended to the Notified 21 States and 4 Union Territories to promote the use of alternative and environment friendly fuels. This intervention also sought to reduce import dependency for energy requirements.
However, since 2006, OMCs were not able to receive offers for the required quantity of ethanol against the tenders floated by them due to various constraints like State Specific issues, Supplier related issues including Pricing issues of ethanol.
GS III Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
A concrete step toward regional Connectivity Scheme
The government will unveil the final RCS policy soon after which it will invite bids from the airlines wanting to fly on regional routes.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI), the nodal body entrusted to implement the ambitious scheme, has written to the coal ministry to share its experience on the modus operandi of the coal block e-auction process.
The civil aviation ministry will do the bidding of the routes through state-owned Metal and Scrap Trading Corporation (MSTC) — the body which conducts the coal mine and iron ore auction.
1. The regional connectivity scheme will be applicable on route length between 200 to 800 km with no lower limit set for hilly, remote, island and security sensitive regions.
2. The Central government will provide concessions to the tune of 2 per cent excise on Value Added Tax (VAT) and service tax at 1/10th the rate and liberal code sharing for regional connectivity scheme airports.
3. State governments will become key partners and provide free security and fire service and reduce VAT on ATF to 1%.
4. No landing charges, parking charges and Terminal Navigation Landing Charges will be imposed for regional connectivity scheme flights.
5. A Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF) will be created to fund the scheme via a levy on certain flights. States are expected to contribute 20 per cent to the fund.
6. For balanced regional growth, allocations will be spread equitably across 5 regions – North, West, South, East and North East with a cap of 25 percent.
7. Interested operators can submit initial route proposals. The gap in costs and revenues, if any, will be compensated through Viabilitilty gap funding.
GS III, Topic- Science and Technology‐ developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
Human hair used to produce cheaper cathodes for solar cells
Researchers from Kolkata based Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) have produced cost-effective, metal-free cathodes using human hair for use in solar cells.
This is the first instance where a bio-waste-derived electrode (in this case human hair) has been used as cathode in a quantum dot sensitised solar cell device.
Method- IISER researchers have developed graphitic porous carbon cathode by cleaning and drying human hair and treating with sulphuric acid to achieve precarbonisation.
It was then heated at different temperatures in the presence of inert gas for six hours to carbonise and bring better electrical conductivity for efficient charge transfer.
This efficient green cathode achieves highly catalytic graphitic porous carbon stage at optimum temperature of 850 degrees C.
It has potential to bring down the cost of solar cells.
The bio-waste-derived cathode has higher efficiency to convert visible sunlight to electricity. It also enhances the power conversion efficiencies.
It generates high open-circuit voltage compared to conventional platinum and activated carbon cathodes. It is metal-free cathode, while commonly used cathode is made of platinum metal and metal sulfides.