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Current Affairs 19 July 2023


  1. National Immunisation Coverage in India
  2. Export Preparedness Index (EPI) 2022
  3. India-UAE Pact on Local Currency Settlement System (LCSS)
  5. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin)
  6. Entamoeba moshkovskii
  7. Gambusia Fish

National Immunisation Coverage in India


The WHO and UNICEF have released estimates for national immunisation coverage in 2022. The coverage rate for DPT3 vaccines, representing diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, in India reached a new high of 93% in 2022.

  • This surpasses the pre-pandemic record of 91% in 2019 and demonstrates a significant increase from 85% in 2021.


GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. WHO and UNICEF Estimates of National Immunization Coverage
  2. Universal Immunization Programme (UIP)
  3. Mission Indradhanush
  4. DPT3 Vaccine

WHO and UNICEF Estimates of National Immunization Coverage:

  • WHO and UNICEF review reports and data from member states to estimate national immunization coverage.
  • The estimates are country-specific and reflect the performance of immunization systems.

Global Coverage:

  • Global immunization services reached 4 million more children in 2022 compared to the previous year.
  • Approximately 20.5 million children worldwide remained unvaccinated or under-vaccinated in 2022.

Coverage in India:

  • India accounted for 1.6 million of the unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children for the DPT-3 vaccine.
  • DPT vaccine protects against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus and is administered in three doses to children under 7 years old.
  • India achieved 93% coverage for its 22.5 million infants in 2022.

Performance in WHO South-East Asia Region:

  • The region showed the best immunization coverage improvements, mainly due to efforts in India and Indonesia.

Impact of Inequities in Immunization Coverage:

  • Inequities in coverage create pockets of unvaccinated children and increase the risk of outbreaks of preventable diseases like measles and diphtheria.

Universal Immunization Programme (UIP)

Program Evolution:

  • Expanded Programme on Immunization launched in 1978
  • Renamed as Universal Immunization Programme in 1985 for expanded reach
  • Integration with Child Survival and Safe Motherhood Programme in 1992
  • Inclusion in National Reproductive and Child Health Programme in 1997
  • Integral part of National Rural Health Mission since 2005

Program Scope:

  • Targets approximately 2.67 crore newborns and 2.9 crore pregnant women annually
  • One of the largest public health programmes in India
Vaccine Coverage:
  • Free immunization provided against 12 vaccine-preventable diseases
  • National Coverage (9 diseases):
    • Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, Rubella, severe form of Childhood Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B, and Meningitis & Pneumonia caused by Hemophilus Influenza type B
  • Sub-national Coverage (3 diseases):
    • Rotavirus diarrhoea, Pneumococcal Pneumonia, and Japanese Encephalitis

Full Immunization:

  • Criteria for a child to be fully immunized
  • All due vaccines as per national immunization schedule within the first year of the child’s age

Program Achievements:

  • Elimination of polio in 2014
  • Elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus in 2015

Mission Indradhanush (MI)

  • MI was launched in December 2014
  • Aims to increase full immunization coverage for children to 90%

Target Areas:

  • Focus on pockets of low immunization coverage and hard-to-reach areas
  • Prioritize areas with the highest proportion of unvaccinated and partially vaccinated children


  • Total of six phases of Mission Indradhanush completed
  • Coverage extended to 554 districts across the country
Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI):
  • Introduced in 2017
  • Enhances the immunization campaign
  • Seeks to achieve even higher immunization coverage levels

DPT3 Vaccine:

  • The DPT vaccine is a combination vaccine that provides protection against three infectious diseases: diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and tetanus.
  • The vaccine contains diphtheria and tetanus toxoids, as well as either killed whole cells of the pertussis-causing bacteria or pertussis antigens.
  • Administration of the DPT vaccine involves a primary dose given as part of the pentavalent vaccine, followed by two booster doses at 16-24 months and 5-6 years of age, respectively.
  • Diphtheria is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae.
  • It primarily affects children between the ages of 1 and 5 years, with higher incidence during colder months in temperate climates.
  • Tetanus is an infection caused by the bacteria Clostridium tetani.
  • The bacteria produce a toxin that leads to painful muscle contractions.
  • Tetanus bacteria typically enter the body through breaks in the skin.
  • It does not spread from person to person.
  • Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis.
  • The bacteria attach to the cilia in the upper respiratory system and release toxins, damaging the cilia and causing airway swelling.
  • Pertussis can easily spread from person to person through the air.

-Source: Indian Express, The Hindu

Export Preparedness Index (EPI) 2022


Recently, NITI Aayog has released the 3rd edition of Export Preparedness Index (EPI) for States/UTs of India for the year 2022.


GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Export Preparedness Index (EPI)
  2. Key Highlights of EPI 2022
  3. Key Learnings of the Exports Preparedness Index (EPI)
  4. Recommendations of the EPI

Export Preparedness Index (EPI)

  • EPI is a comprehensive tool that measures the export preparedness of the States and Union Territories (UTs) in India.
  • It aims to understand the factors influencing export performance and identify strengths and weaknesses.


  • Data-driven approach to identify core areas crucial for export promotion at the sub-national level.
  • Highlights India’s export potential by examining contributions from each state and union territory.
  • Policy: Evaluates the effectiveness of trade policies in providing strategic direction for exports and imports.
  • Business Ecosystem: Assesses the efficiency of the business ecosystem in attracting investments and creating enabling infrastructure for startups.
  • Export Ecosystem: Examines the business environment specific to exports.
  • Export Performance: Measures the reach of export footprints of States and UTs.

Considers 10 sub-pillars that contribute to export promotion:

  • Export Promotion Policy
  • Institutional Framework
  • Business Environment
  • Infrastructure
  • Transport Connectivity
  • Export Infrastructure
  • Trade Support
  • R&D Infrastructure
  • Export Diversification
  • Growth Orientation

Key Highlights of EPI 2022:

Top Performing States:

  • Tamil Nadu secured the top position in EPI 2022.
  • Maharashtra and Karnataka followed in the second and third positions, respectively.
  • Gujarat, the previous year’s top performer, dropped to the fourth position.

Tamil Nadu’s Performance:

  • Tamil Nadu’s strong performance in export indicators, such as export value, concentration, and global market footprint, contributed to its top ranking.
  • The state has shown consistent leadership in sectors like automotive, leather, textiles, and electronic goods.

Hilly/Himalayan States:

  • Uttarakhand ranked first among the hilly/Himalayan states in EPI 2022.
  • Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura, Sikkim, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, and Mizoram followed in the rankings.

Landlocked Regions:

  • Haryana emerged as the top performer among landlocked regions, indicating its preparedness for exports.
  • Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan also performed well in this category.

Union Territories and Small States:

  • Goa secured the first position among union territories and small states in EPI 2022.
  • Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Ladakh followed in the rankings.
Global Trade Recovery and Impact of Russo-Ukrainian War:
  • Global trade in 2021 showed signs of recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Increased demand for goods, fiscal policies, vaccine distribution, and easing of restrictions contributed to a 27% increase in merchandise trade and a 16% increase in services trade compared to the previous year.
  • However, the Russo-Ukrainian war in February 2022 slowed down the recovery and had an impact on sectors such as grain, oil, and natural gas.
India’s Export Performance in 2021-22:
  • Despite the global slowdown, India’s exports in 2021-22 exceeded USD 675 billion.
  • Trade in goods accounted for USD 420 billion, while trade in services also showed a recovery to pre-pandemic levels by Q4 2021.
  • The value of merchandise exports crossed USD 400 billion in FY2022, reaching up to USD 422 billion by March 2022.
  • Several factors contributed to this performance, including the increase in commodity prices and rising demand from developed countries.

Key Learnings of the Exports Preparedness Index (EPI):

  • Coastal states have performed well in the index, with Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Gujarat showing strong performance.
  • The policy ecosystem in many states is favorable for driving exports, with the adoption of necessary measures.
  • Transport connectivity remains a challenge, particularly in landlocked or geographically disadvantaged states.
  • Research and Development (R&D) in exports need more attention, indicating a lack of focus on innovation.
  • Support to struggling industries is crucial, as many states have seen a decrease in the gross value addition of their manufacturing sector and inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
  • Capacity-building workshops for exporters should be increased to enhance their global market penetration.
  • Timely project approvals are essential for the effectiveness of government schemes supporting states.

Recommendations of the EPI:

  • States should learn from successful peers and adopt good practices to improve their export performance.
  • Investing in R&D can drive product innovation, improve product quality, reduce costs, and enhance efficiency.
  • Establishing dedicated research institutes with regular funding can support states in improving their exports.
  • Capitalizing on unique Geographical Indication (GI) products can help states establish a presence in the global market.
  • Identifying and promoting high-growth sectors like information technology, pharmaceuticals, automotive, textiles, and renewable energy can boost India’s export potential.

-Source: Indian Express, PIB

India-UAE Pact on Local Currency Settlement System (LCSS)


India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed a pact to establish Local Currency Settlement System (LCSS) to promote the use of the Indian rupee (INR) and UAE Dirham (AED) for cross-border transactions.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Agreements during India-UAE Pact
  2. Significance of Rupee-Based Cross Border Transactions

Key Agreements during India-UAE Pact

  • The Local Currency Settlement System (LCSS) covers current account and permitted capital account transactions.
  • It enables exporters and importers to transact in their domestic currencies (INR and AED) and facilitates the development of an INR-AED forex market.
  • The system reduces transaction costs and settlement time, including remittances from Indians in the UAE.
  • India can utilize this mechanism for paying for imports, including oil and other commodities, from the UAE.
  • The central banks of India and the UAE have signed an agreement to link India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) with the UAE’s Instant Payment Platform (IPP) and card switches (RuPay switch and UAESWITCH).
  • The UPI-IPP link enables fast, secure, and cost-effective cross-border transfers between the two countries.
  • The linking of card switches allows the mutual acceptance of domestic cards and processing of card transactions.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Central Bank of UAE signed the Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) for these collaborations.
IIT Delhi Campus in Abu Dhabi:
  • An MoU was signed to establish a campus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi in Abu Dhabi.
  • This campus is part of the “IITs go Global” campaign and will be the second international IIT campus after IIT Madras in Zanzibar, Tanzania.
  • The campus will offer degrees starting from 2024, covering various fields such as Energy and Sustainability, AI, Computer Science and Engineering, Healthcare, Mathematics and Computing, and other engineering, science, and humanities disciplines.

Significance of Rupee-Based Cross Border Transactions

  • Mitigating exchange rate risks: Rupee-based cross border transactions help Indian exporters reduce their exposure to exchange rate fluctuations, thereby limiting potential losses.
  • Internationalization of the Rupee: Encouraging trade in rupee terms is part of India’s strategy to promote the internationalization of the Indian rupee and reduce dependence on the US dollar.
  • Increased interest from various countries: Apart from Russia, countries in Africa, the Gulf region, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh have shown interest in conducting trade in rupee terms, indicating the growing acceptance of the Indian currency in cross-border transactions.
  • Simplified payment process: The Reserve Bank of India’s plan to settle international trade in the local currency allows importers to make payments in rupees, which are then credited to the correspondent bank’s special account in the partner country. Exporters, on the other hand, receive payments from the designated special account’s balances.
  • Boosting trade and economic ties: Facilitating rupee-based transactions can enhance trade and economic cooperation between India and its trading partners, promoting bilateral relations and creating opportunities for increased trade volumes.
  • Managing liquidity and foreign exchange reserves: Rupee-based transactions help in managing liquidity and foreign exchange reserves as they reduce the demand for US dollars and promote the use of the Indian currency in international trade settlements.

-Source: Indian Express



The first-ever Foreign Ministers’ meeting of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) recently began in Bangkok


GS-II: International Relations (Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests, Important International groupings), Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About BIMSTEC
  2. History of Formation of the BIMSTEC
  3. Significance of BIMSTEC


  • The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is an international organisation of seven nations of South Asia and Southeast Asia:
    • Bangladesh
    • Bhutan
    • India
    • Nepal
    • Sri Lanka
    • Myanmar (South-east Asia)
    • Thailand (South-east Asia)
  • Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand are the member states dependent on the Bay of Bengal.
  • Its members lie in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal constituting a contiguous regional unity. BIMSTEC not only connects South and Southeast Asia, but also the ecologies of the Great Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal.
  • Fourteen priority sectors of cooperation have been identified and several BIMSTEC centres have been established to focus on those sectors.
  • The permanent secretariat of the BIMSTEC is in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
  • The BIMSTEC uses the alphabetical order for the Chairmanship which has been taken in rotation commencing with Bangladesh (1997–1999).

History of Formation of the BIMSTEC

  • In 1997, a new sub-regional grouping was formed in Bangkok under the name BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation).
  • Following the inclusion of Myanmar on 22 December 1997 during a special Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok, the Group was renamed ‘BIMST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation).
  • In 2004, at the first Summit the grouping was renamed as BIMSTEC or the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.

Significance of BIMSTEC

  • BIMSTEC acts as a platform for intra-regional cooperation between SAARC and ASEAN members.
  • Around one-fourth of the world’s traded goods cross the Bay of Bengal every year.
  • Important Connectivity Projects related to BIMSTEC
  • Kaladan Multimodal Project – links India and Myanmar.
  • Asian Trilateral Highway – connecting India and Thailand through Myanmar.
  • Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement – for seamless flow of passenger and cargo traffic.

Strategic Significance for India

  • BIMSTEC Enables India to pursue three core policies:
    • Neighbourhood First- primacy to the country’s immediate periphery;
    • Act East- connect India with Southeast Asia; and
    • Economic development of India’s North Eastern states- by linking them to the Bay of Bengal region via Bangladesh and Myanmar.
  • India has moved from Look East Policy to Act East Policy and Indo Pacific cooperation through its diaspora, culture and connectivity. This has led to India’s goodwill in the region.
  • Allows India to counter China’s creeping influence in countries around the Bay of Bengal due to the spread of its Belt and Road Initiative.
  • Physical connectivity with BIMSTEC would also help India integrate itself with ASEAN’s Master Plan of Connectivity 2025.
  • A new platform for India to engage with its neighbours with South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) becoming dysfunctional because of differences between India and Pakistan.
  • BIMSTEC suddenly received special attention as New Delhi chose to treat it as a more practical instrument for regional cooperation over a faltering SAARC.

-Source: The Hindu

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin)


The Centre has withdrawn the allocation of 1.44 lakh houses from about two dozen states and UTs which failed to sanction the houses by June 30 under the PMAY-G, and given these to UP as additional allocation.

  • Under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G), the Union Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) aims to construct 2.95 crore houses by March 2024.


GS II- Welfare Schemes

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. PMAY-G (Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin)
  2. Allocation of Houses and UP’s Share
  3. What are the reasons for delay?

PMAY-G (Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin)

  • PMAY-G is a rural housing program that aims to provide pucca houses with basic amenities to houseless households and those living in kutcha and dilapidated houses by 2022.
  • It was introduced in 2016 to address gaps identified in the previous rural housing program, Indira Awas Yojana.
  • The immediate objective is to cover 1 crore households living in kutcha and dilapidated houses by 2018-19.
  • The program selects beneficiaries using housing deprivation parameters from the Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011, verified by Gram Sabhas.
Salient Features of PMAY-G:
  • Minimum size of the house increased to 25 with a hygienic cooking space.
  • Increased unit assistance for construction, shared between the Central and State Governments.
  • Leveraging convergence with other programs for assistance in toilet construction, piped drinking water, electricity connection, LPG gas connection, etc.
  • National Technical Support Agency (NTSA) established for better quality construction.
  • Training and certification program for masons launched.
  • Implementation and monitoring through e-Governance model using Awaas Soft and Awaas App.
  • Community participation through social audit and oversight by Member of Parliament (DISHA Committee).

Allocation of Houses and UP’s Share:

  • The Centre has set a target of constructing 2.95 crore houses by March 2024.
  • Allocation of houses is based on SECC data and a survey called Awas+ conducted between 2018 and 2019.
  • Some states and UTs failed to sanction the allocated houses within the deadline.
  • Uttar Pradesh (UP) had completed a significant number of houses and requested additional houses.
  • As a result, the additional houses that were withdrawn from other states and UTs have been allocated to UP.

What are the reasons for delay?

  • The government officials blame the Covid-19 Pandemic for the slowdown.
  • The completion rate for houses sanctioned before the Covid-19 pandemic stood around 80%.
  • Six States account for 70% of the target units — West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
    • Out of them only two States — Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal — have a completion rate above the national average.
    • Bihar has one of the lowest completion rates.
  • In urban areas, issues such as a lack of clear titles and other land documents tend to crop up. This further slowed down the pace. The same is true for rural areas as well.

-Source: Indian Express

Entamoeba Moshkovskii


The recent three-year surveillance study by the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (ICMR-NICED) reveals the emergence of Entamoeba moshkovskii (E. Moshkovskii) as a leading pathogen causing diarrhoea outbreaks in the Kolkata region.


GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Findings of the Study on E. moshkovskii Infections in Kolkata
  2. Entamoeba moshkovskii

Key Findings of the Study on E. moshkovskii Infections in Kolkata:

  • E. moshkovskii has emerged as the leading cause of amoebic infections in humans in Kolkata, surpassing E. histolytica.
  • Over 3% of patients with diarrhoea were infected with E. moshkovskii.
  • Infections caused by E. histolytica were decreasing, while E. moshkovskii infections were increasing.
  • E. moshkovskii infections exhibited two distinct peaks during the summer and post-fall seasons, unlike E. histolytica which followed a wet-dry season pattern.
  • Children aged 5-12 years were most affected by E. moshkovskii infections.
  • The study suggests that E. moshkovskii may act as a potential pathogen causing diarrhoea and gastrointestinal disorders, rather than being solely a commensal organism.
  • PCR-based molecular identification was used to differentiate between E. histolytica and E. moshkovskii due to their morphological similarities.
  • E. moshkovskii was identified in more than 50% of diarrhoea cases caused by amoebic parasites.

Entamoeba moshkovskii

  • Belongs to the same genus as E. histolytica but has distinct genetic and biochemical traits.
  • Initially isolated from sewage in Moscow in 1941.
  • Found in soil, water, and animals.

Health Implications of Entamoeba moshkovskii Infections

  • Can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and dehydration.
  • Has the potential to damage the intestines, leading to ulcers, bleeding, or serious conditions like liver infections.

Modes of Transmission

  • Infection can occur through the consumption of contaminated food or water.
  • Direct contact with feces can also result in the spread of the infection.

Challenges in Identification and Treatment

  • Similar appearance to Entamoeba histolytica under a microscope makes it difficult to differentiate them.
  • Specialized tests like PCR or DNA sequencing are required for accurate identification.
  • Treatment of E. moshkovskii infections can be challenging, as the standard drugs used for amoebic infections may not be effective.
  • Further research is needed to identify optimal treatment options.

-Source: The Hindu

Gambusia Fish


Recently, the Andhra Pradesh government has released approximately 10 million Gambusia fish into the state’s water bodies to combat mosquito-borne diseases like Malaria and Dengue.

  • The release of these invasive alien fish species has raised concerns about the potential harm that will be sustained by native species that abound in the state’s freshwater bodies.


GS II: Species in News

About Gambusia fish

  • Commonly known as mosquito fish, Gambusia fish is widely utilized as a biological agent to control mosquito larvae populations.
  • Originally native to the waters of the south-eastern United States, it has been employed in mosquito-control strategies worldwide, including India, for more than a century.
  • A single fully grown Gambusia fish can consume approximately 100 to 300 mosquito larvae per day, making it an effective natural predator.
  • In India, Gambusia fish has been a part of various malaria control initiatives, including the Urban Malaria Scheme, since 1928.
  • Despite its usefulness in mosquito control, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified Gambusia as one of the 100 worst invasive alien species globally, highlighting its potential negative impact on local ecosystems.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023