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Current Affairs 16 June 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Non-communicable diseases
  2. Hiroshima AI Process
  3. Landfall of a cyclone
  4. SIPRI Yearbook 2023
  5. Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS)
  6. Gender Social Norms Index
  7. Mizoram parachute gecko

Non-Communicable Diseases


Context:

The new national estimates for diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCD) shows that 31 million more Indians became diabetic in four years (2019-2021).

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Non-communicable diseases
  2. Findings of the Study
  3. Significance of the Study
  4. Impact on India
  5. Way Forward

About Non-communicable diseases:

  • Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, are medical conditions that are not caused by infectious agents and cannot be transmitted from one person to another.
  • NCDs are generally long-lasting and progress slowly over time.
  • They are often associated with lifestyle factors, environmental influences, and genetic predisposition.
Common examples of non-communicable diseases include:
  • Cardiovascular diseases: These include conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and hypertension (high blood pressure). They are usually related to factors like poor diet, physical inactivity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Cancer: Non-communicable diseases include various types of cancer, such as lung cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer. Risk factors for cancer can include tobacco use, exposure to certain chemicals or radiation, unhealthy diet, and family history.
  • Chronic respiratory diseases: Conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and occupational lung diseases fall under this category. Factors such as tobacco smoke, indoor and outdoor air pollution, and occupational hazards contribute to the development of these diseases.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar levels. It can be of two main types: type 1 diabetes, which is usually diagnosed in childhood, and type 2 diabetes, which is typically associated with lifestyle factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diet.
  • Mental health disorders: While mental health conditions can have various causes, some are considered non-communicable diseases. These include depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
  • Chronic kidney disease: This refers to the long-term damage to the kidneys, leading to reduced kidney function over time. Diabetes, hypertension, and certain genetic factors can contribute to the development of chronic kidney disease.

Findings of the Study:

  • The study conducted in 2021 revealed the following statistics related to non-communicable diseases in India:
    • 101 million people had diabetes.
    • 136 million people had prediabetes.
    • 315 million people had high blood pressure.
    • 254 million people had generalized obesity.
    • 351 million people had abdominal obesity.
    • 213 million people had hypercholesterolemia.
    • 185 million people had high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
  • The study was a decade-long nationwide research project funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research and Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • The study involved 1,13,043 individuals from 31 states and some Union Territories.
  • The results of the study will be published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal.

Significance of the Study:

  • The study is the first comprehensive epidemiological research paper in India that includes a large and diverse sample size.
  • The study revealed two significant trends:
    • Diabetes and other metabolic non-communicable diseases are more prevalent in India than previously estimated.
    • While currently urban areas have higher rates of metabolic NCDs, rural areas are expected to experience a diabetes explosion in the next five years if not addressed.
  • The study highlights variations between states and regions in terms of disease prevalence:
    • Goa, Puducherry, and Kerala had the highest diabetes prevalence.
    • Sikkim had a high prevalence of prediabetes.
    • Punjab had the highest prevalence of hypertension.
    • Puducherry had the highest rates of generalized and abdominal obesity.
    • Kerala had high rates of hypercholesterolemia and high LDL cholesterol.
    • U.P., Mizoram, Meghalaya, and Jharkhand had the lowest prevalence of NCDs.
  • The findings emphasize the need for urgent state-specific policies and interventions to address the rising epidemic of metabolic non-communicable diseases in India.
  • While the diabetes epidemic is stabilizing in more developed states, it continues to increase in most other states.
Additional Information:
  • The study provides new national estimates for diabetes and other NCDs, revealing that an additional 31 million Indians became diabetic within four years (2019-2021).
  • The study is the first of its kind in India, involving a large sample size of 1,13,043 individuals from 31 states and Union Territories.
  • The combination of malnutrition and obesity in India, along with exposure to fast food, inadequate sleep, lack of exercise, and stress, contributes to the vulnerability of the population to NCDs.

Impact on India:

  • The study highlights the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in India, particularly diabetes and hypertension with obesity.
  • The population affected by these conditions is at a higher risk of developing life-altering medical conditions, including strokes.
  • India is facing the challenge of both malnutrition and obesity, with unhealthy lifestyle factors such as fast food consumption, lack of exercise, inadequate sleep, and stress contributing to the prevalence of NCDs.

Way Forward:

  • The focus should be on promoting wellness and adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and regular exercise.
  • The Indian Health Ministry has identified cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes as major NCDs and has implemented programs to address them.
  • Efforts are being made to strengthen health infrastructure, develop human resources, promote health awareness, and encourage prevention, early diagnosis, and appropriate treatment of NCDs.
  • It is crucial to address the dual problem of malnutrition and obesity and create an environment that supports healthy behaviors to prevent the further spread of NCDs.

-Source: The Hindu


Hiroshima AI Process


Context:

Recently, in the annual Group of Seven (G7) Summit the G7 Hiroshima Leaders’ Communiqué initiated the Hiroshima AI Process (HAP).

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Hiroshima AI Process
  2. Potential Challenges and Outcomes
  3. Global Partnership on AI (GPAI)

About Hiroshima AI Process

The Hiroshima AI Process (HAP) is an initiative designed to foster international discussions and collaboration on the governance and interoperability of artificial intelligence (AI) with a focus on achieving trustworthy AI. Here are some key points about the HAP:

Aims:

  • Facilitate international discussions on inclusive AI governance and interoperability.
  • Foster a common vision and goal of trustworthy AI.

Recognition:

  • Acknowledges the growing prominence of Generative AI (GAI) globally and in various sectors.
  • Emphasizes the importance of addressing the opportunities and challenges associated with GAI.

Working:

  • Operates in cooperation with international organizations like the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Global Partnership on AI (GPAI).
  • Collaborates with these organizations to advance discussions and initiatives related to AI governance and interoperability.

Objectives:

  • Govern AI in a manner that upholds democratic values, ensuring fairness, accountability, transparency, and prioritizing the safety of AI technologies.
  • Establish procedures that promote openness, inclusivity, and fairness in AI-related discussions and decision-making processes.

Potential Challenges and Outcomes

The Hiroshima AI Process (HAP) encounters several potential challenges and outcomes in its efforts to foster international cooperation on AI governance. Here are the key points:

Challenges:
  • Differing approaches among G7 countries in regulating AI risks pose a challenge to achieving consensus and common understanding.
  • Balancing the diverse perspectives and interests of various stakeholders involved in AI governance can be challenging.
  • Preventing complete discord and finding a harmonious middle ground among G7 countries can be a complex task.
Outcomes:
  • Convergent Regulation: The HAP may facilitate the G7 countries in moving towards a divergent regulation approach based on shared norms, principles, and guiding values. It aims to find common ground on important regulatory issues and foster convergence in AI governance.
  • Ineffective Solution: There is a possibility that the HAP becomes overwhelmed by divergent views among the G7 countries, resulting in the inability to deliver a meaningful solution. This outcome would signify a lack of consensus and limited progress in addressing AI governance challenges.
  • Mixed Outcome: The HAP may deliver a mixed outcome where there is partial convergence on finding solutions to some issues, while significant differences persist on many others. This outcome reflects a complex and ongoing process of negotiation and compromise.

Global Partnership on AI (GPAI)

Purpose: A multi-stakeholder initiative bridging theory and practice in AI by supporting research and applied activities on AI-related priorities.

Launch and Membership:
  • Established in June 2020 as a result of G7 collaboration.
  • Initially had 15 members and currently has 29 members.
  • India is one of the member countries.
  • Secretariat: The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) serves as the secretariat for GPAI.

-Source: Down To Earth


Landfall of a cyclone


Context:

On June 15, the landfall process of Cyclone Biparjoy started near Jakhau port in the state’s Kutch district and continued till midnight.

Relevance:

GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Landfall of a Cyclone
  2. What is the damage caused by a cyclone’s landfall?
  3. How long does a landfall last?

Landfall of a Cyclone

  • Landfall refers to the event when a tropical cyclone transitions from being over water to moving onto land.
  • According to the IMD (Indian Meteorological Department), landfall occurs when the center or eye of the cyclone crosses the coast.

The Eye of a Cyclone:

  • The eye of a cyclone is a region at the center of the storm characterized by relatively calm weather.
  • It has circular or oval shape and features light winds, clear or partly cloudy skies, and reduced precipitation.
  • The size of the eye can vary significantly, ranging from a few kilometers to over 50 kilometers (30 miles) in diameter for larger cyclones.

During Landfall:

  • Prior to landfall, the outer bands of the cyclone may have already reached the coast, bringing strong winds, heavy rain, and storm surge.
  • Landfall marks the official moment when the cyclone reaches the land.

Difference from “Direct Hit”:

  • It’s important to distinguish landfall from a “direct hit.”
  • A direct hit refers to a situation where the core of high winds, known as the eyewall, comes onshore, but the center of the storm may remain offshore.

What is the damage caused by a cyclone’s landfall?

  • The damage caused by the landfall will depend on the severity of the cyclone – marked by the speed of its winds.
  • For Cyclone Biparjoy, classified by the IMD as a “very severe cyclonic storm”, the impact may include extensive damage to kutcha houses, partial disruption of power and communication lines, minor disruption of rail and road traffic, potential threat from flying debris and flooding of escape
  • routes.
  • The factors behind this kind of damage include extremely strong winds, heavy rainfall and the storm surge which cause devastating floods in the coast.

How long does a landfall last?

  • Landfalls can last for a few hours, with their exact duration depending on the speed of the winds and the size of the storm system.
  • Cyclone Biparjoy’s land process is expected to last around five to six hours, with the cyclone almost completely dissipating over approximately the next 24 hours.
  • Cyclones lose their intensity once they move over land because of sharp reduction of moisture supply and increase in surface friction.
  • This means that while landfalls are often the most devastating moments of cyclones, they also mark the beginning of its end.

-Source: Indian Express


SIPRI Yearbook 2023


Context:

Recently, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Yearbook 2023 revealed that China could potentially have as many Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) as U.S. or Russia by the end of the decade.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. SIPRI Findings on Nuclear Arsenals
  2. About SIPRI

SIPRI Findings on Nuclear Arsenals

Global Nuclear Arsenals:
  • The United States, Russia, and China are among the nine nuclear-armed states that continue to modernize and expand their nuclear arsenals.
  • Other nuclear-armed countries include the UK, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel.
  • The total global inventory of warheads is estimated at 12,512, with around 9,576 warheads held in military stockpiles.
Dominance of Russia and U.S.:
  • Russia has the highest number of stored nuclear arsenals followed by US and China while the US has deployed the highest number of nuclear arsenals followed by Russia and France.
  • Russia and the United States possess nearly 90% of all nuclear weapons.
  • Both countries have relatively stable sizes of their nuclear arsenals.
Arms Control Concerns:
  • Transparency and dialogue regarding nuclear forces between Russia and the United States declined after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • The strategic stability dialogue and the New START treaty have been suspended, halting discussions for a follow-on treaty.
New START Limits Maintained:
  • Despite strained relations, both Russia and the United States remain within the limits set by the New START treaty for their deployed strategic nuclear forces.
India’s Nuclear Arsenal:
  • India’s nuclear arsenal expanded from 160 warheads in 2022 to 164 warheads in 2023.
  • India’s focus is increasingly on longer-range weapons capable of reaching targets in China.
  • Upgrades to ballistic missiles, including a submarine-launched intermediate-range ballistic missile and the forthcoming
  • Agni Prime ballistic missile.
China’s Nuclear Arsenal:
  • China’s nuclear arsenal grew from 350 warheads in January 2022 to 410 warheads in January 2023.
  • The expansion raises concerns as it contradicts China’s stated goal of maintaining minimum nuclear forces for national security.

About SIPRI

  • Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is an independent international think-tank institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
  • It was established in 1966 at Stockholm (Sweden).
  • It provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.

-Source: The Hindu


Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS)


Context:

The Central Government recently discontinued the sale of rice and wheat from the central pool under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) to State governments.

Relevance:

GS III: Agriculture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS)
  2. About the Food Corporation of India (FCI)

Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS):

Objective:
  • The objective of the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) is to enhance the supply of food grains, specifically wheat, during the lean season and moderate open market prices, especially in deficit regions.
Process:
  • The Food Corporation of India (FCI) conducts weekly auctions through e-auctions in the open market to sell surplus stocks of wheat and rice.
  • The auctions are conducted using the platform of the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Limited (NCDEX).
  • State Governments and Union Territory Administrations have the option to participate in the e-auction if they require wheat and rice outside the Targeted Public Distribution Scheme (TPDS) and Other Welfare Schemes (OWS).
Reserve Price and Bidding:
  • The government sets a reserve price for the auction.
  • Bidders participating in the tenders floated by the FCI cannot quote a price less than the reserve price.
Types of OMSS Schemes:

The present form of OMSS consists of three schemes:

  • Sale of wheat to bulk consumers/private traders through e-auction.
  • Sale of wheat to bulk consumers/private traders through e-auction by dedicated movement.
  • Sale of Raw Rice Grade ‘A’ to bulk consumers/private traders through e-auction.

About the Food Corporation of India (FCI):

  • FCI is a statutory body established in 1965 under the Food Corporation Act, 1964.
  • It was created in response to a major shortage of grains, particularly wheat, in the country.
  • FCI operates under the ownership of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Government of India.
  • The headquarters of FCI is located in New Delhi.
Objectives of FCI:
  • Provide effective price support to farmers.
  • Procure and supply grains to the Public Distribution System (PDS) for distributing subsidized staples to economically vulnerable sections of society.
  • Maintain a strategic reserve to stabilize markets for basic food grains.

-Source: The Hindu


Gender Social Norms Index


Context:

Recently, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released the Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) 2023.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI)
  2. Key Findings of GSNI 2023

Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI)

  • Quantifying Biases: The GSNI 2023 is a tool that measures biases against women by capturing people’s attitudes towards women’s roles.
  • Tracking Attitudes: The index examines people’s attitudes towards women across four dimensions: political, educational, economic, and physical integrity.

Key Findings of GSNI 2023:

  • Widespread Biases: The index, which covers 85 percent of the global population, reveals that nearly 9 out of 10 men and women hold fundamental biases against women. This indicates the prevalence of gender biases and discrimination.
  • Persistence of Biases: Alarmingly, almost 90 percent of people still hold at least one bias against women. This highlights the need for continued efforts to address and challenge these biases.
  • Acceptance of Violence: Shockingly, 25 percent of people believe it is justified for a man to beat his wife, indicating a concerning acceptance of gender-based violence in certain societies.
  • Political Underrepresentation: Countries with higher biases in gender social norms also exhibit lower representation of women in parliamentary positions. This suggests that biases in societal norms contribute to the political marginalization of women.
  • Intersectional Biases: Indigenous women, migrant women, and women with disabilities face additional challenges in terms of political representation. Overlapping biases further limit their opportunities and perpetuate inequalities.
  • Education-Economic Gap: Despite recent improvements in educational achievements, there is a disconnect between education and economic outcomes for women. The increase in education levels has not translated into better economic opportunities for women.

-Source: Down To Earth


Mizoram Parachute Gecko


Context

Scientists recently discovered a new species of gliding geckos in Mizoram, named Mizoram parachute gecko.

Relevance:

GS III: Species in News

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Mizoram Parachute Gecko
  2. About Geckos

About Mizoram Parachute Gecko:

  • The Mizoram parachute gecko, scientifically known as Gekko mizoramensis, is a recently discovered species of gliding geckos.
  • It is one of the 14 gecko species known to have the ability to glide through the air.
  • The evolution of this species is believed to have occurred due to geographical separation from its closest relative, G. popaensis, by the Arakan Mountains.
Features of the Mizoram Parachute Gecko:
  • Unlike other gliding reptiles that use their bones to form flying surfaces, these geckos have flaps of skin.
  • When they leap off a tall structure, air resistance pushes the flaps out, resembling a parachute, which slows their descent.
  • The skin flaps also provide camouflage, helping to break up their shape and protect them from predators.
  • The specialized camouflage and body shape of these geckos are shared by multiple species, making it challenging to differentiate them from one another.

About Geckos:

  • Geckos are reptiles found on all continents except Antarctica.
  • They are considered one of the earliest evolving squamates, which is the group comprising lizards, snakes, and their close relatives.
  • There are over 1,200 species of geckos, accounting for around a fifth of all known lizard species.
  • Geckos have adapted to various habitats, including rainforests, deserts, and cold mountain slopes.
Features of Geckos:
  • Geckos possess adhesive pads on their feet, thanks to a network of microscopic hairs, allowing them to climb almost any surface.
  • Most geckos have a transparent protective covering over their eyes, similar to snakes.
  • Geckos can have tails that are long and tapering, short and blunt, or even globular.
  • The tail serves as a fat storehouse in many species, enabling them to survive during unfavorable conditions.
  • Unlike other reptiles, most geckos have a voice and produce calls that vary among species, ranging from feeble clicks or chirps to shrill cackles or barks.

-Source: Economic Times


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