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Current Affairs 23 August 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Global Initiative on Digital Health
  2. Committee on Stalled Real Estate Projects
  3. Rising Methane Levels and Climate Transition: Concerns
  4. Public Tech Platform for Frictionless Credit
  5. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
  6. Cholera
  7. Piripkura Tribe

Global Initiative on Digital Health


Context:

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the G20 India presidency announced a new Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH).

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Digital Health: Transforming Healthcare Through Technology
  2. Global Initiative on Digital Health: Advancing Healthcare Transformation
  3. Conclusion

Digital Health: Transforming Healthcare Through Technology

  • Digital health integrates technology into healthcare, revolutionizing delivery and patient engagement.
  • It encompasses tools like mobile apps, wearables, electronic records, and telemedicine, driving a synergy between technology and healthcare.
Importance of Digital Health:
  • Provides holistic patient insights to healthcare providers and empowers patients to manage their health proactively.
  • Wearable devices monitor vital signs, enabling real-time feedback for patients and healthcare professionals.
  • Facilitates prevention, early diagnosis, and chronic disease management outside traditional healthcare settings.
  • Enhances access, reduces costs, increases quality, and personalizes medicine.
Challenges in Digital Health:
  • Equitable Access: Universalizing digital health across all nations, especially in low-income regions, is challenging due to low digital literacy and internet penetration.
  • Ethical Concerns: The growth of digital health raises ethical dilemmas regarding data ownership, privacy, and consent. Tech giants like Amazon and Apple entering the domain further complicate the scenario.
  • Data Interoperability: Collating data from various systems with differing formats presents a challenge in achieving seamless data interoperability.
  • Medical vs. Consumer Tech: The distinction between medical and non-medical devices becomes blurry with consumer tech companies delving into healthcare, necessitating regulatory clarity.

Global Initiative on Digital Health: Advancing Healthcare Transformation

The Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH), a key outcome of India’s G-20 Presidency, is poised to drive global progress in digital health. Operated by WHO, it serves as a network of networks, fostering equitable access to digital health solutions and knowledge-sharing.

Aims of GIDH:
  • Alignment: Supporting the Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020–2025.
  • Assistance: Providing quality technical support to develop standards-based, interoperable systems adhering to global best practices.
  • Facilitation: Promoting deliberate utilization of quality-assured digital tools for effective digital health transformation.
Pillars of GIDH:
  • Investment Tracker: Monitoring investments in digital health projects.
  • Ask Tracker: Tracking countries’ technological needs.
  • Digital Tools Library: Cataloging available digital tools.
  • Knowledge-sharing Platform: Enabling large-scale implementation of technologies.
Strategies of GIDH:
  • Priority-driven Investment Plans: Developing focused investment strategies for digital health transformation.
  • Resource Transparency: Enhancing visibility and transparency of digital health resources.
  • Knowledge Exchange: Facilitating cross-regional collaboration to accelerate progress.
  • Support to Strategy Implementation: Boosting technical and financial assistance for executing the Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020–2025 and its subsequent phases.

Conclusion:

GIDH’s comprehensive approach, encompassing alignment, assistance, facilitation, and knowledge-sharing, is set to strengthen global digital health endeavors. By fostering cooperation and advancing technological adoption, GIDH will contribute to a more equitable and efficient global healthcare landscape.

-Source: Indian Express


Committee on Stalled Real Estate Projects


Context:

A 14-member committee, constituted to examine stalled real estate projects and recommend ways to complete them, submitted its report on August 21.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Committee on Stalled Real Estate Projects: Findings and Recommendations
  2. Major Recommendations
  3. Special Window for Affordable & Mid-Income Housing (SWAMIH) Scheme

Committee on Stalled Real Estate Projects: Findings and Recommendations

  • In March 2023, the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs established a committee chaired by Amitabh Kant, former NITI Aayog CEO, to address stalled real estate projects.
  • The committee included officials from Union Finance Ministry, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana state governments, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India, National Housing Bank, and Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) of Haryana and UP.
  • The committee submitted its report to Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Puri.
Major Findings:
  • Legacy Stalled Projects: Indian Banks’ Association estimated 4.12 lakh dwelling units worth Rs. 4.08 lakh crore were “stressed,” with 44% in the National Capital Region and 21% in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
  • Financial Viability Issue: Stress in these projects resulted from “lack of financial viability,” causing cost overruns and delays.
  • Solution: Enhance the Internal Rate of Return of projects to attract funding.
  • Stakeholder Cooperation: Developers, financiers, land authorities, etc., must accept compromises to make projects viable.

Major Recommendations:

  • Mandatory RERA Registration:
    • All projects over 500 sq. meters or with more than eight apartments must be registered with state RERA.
    • Enforce registration for transparency.
  • Rehabilitation Package for Stalled Projects:
    • States should establish a rehabilitation package to revive stalled projects.
    • Developers committing to the package must complete projects in three years.
    • Proposed Noida and Greater Noida model includes a “Zero Period” of two years to waive interest and penalties during the pandemic.
    • Developers can involve a “co-developer” to complete work.
    • “Partial surrender policy” allows developers to return unused land for dues waiver.
  • Special Window for Affordable and Mid-Income Housing (SWAMIH) Fund:
    • MoHUA should prepare a scheme using SWAMIH Fund to finance stalled projects.
    • Reconsider minimum Internal Rate of Return and first charge requirements in SWAMIH fund.
Implementation:
  • Most recommendations fall under state jurisdiction.
  • Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry shared the report with all states.
  • UP’s NOIDA and Greater Noida authorities are considering implementing the rehabilitation package.
  • The adoption of recommendations by other states remains to be seen.

Special Window for Affordable & Mid-Income Housing (SWAMIH) Scheme:

The Central Government initiated the SWAMIH Scheme in November 2019.

Aims:
  • Extend priority debt financing to conclude stalled affordable and mid-income housing projects.
  • Aid developers in completing unfinished projects, ensuring timely delivery to homebuyers.
  • Foster growth in India’s real estate sector.
Eligibility and Beneficiaries:

1,509 housing projects, housing about 4.58 lakh units, meet the scheme’s criteria.

Funding Criteria:

  • Stalled due to insufficient funds.
  • Belong to affordable and middle-income categories.
  • Projects must be net worth positive.
  • Registered under RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Authority).
  • Preference for nearly completed projects.
About SWAMIH Fund:
  • SWAMIH Fund, a government-backed Category-II AIF (Alternate Investment Fund) debt fund registered with SEBI.
  • AIF: A privately pooled investment vehicle collecting funds from sophisticated investors for investments aligned with a defined policy.
  • Investment Manager: SBICAP Ventures, subsidiary of SBI Capital Markets and State Bank of India.
  • Government infusion commitment up to Rs. 10,000 crore in affordable and mid-income housing sector through SWAMIH.
  • Maximum financing for any individual project capped at Rs. 400 crore.

-Source: Indian Express


Rising Methane Levels and Climate Transition: Concerns


Context:

The increase in methane levels in the Earth’s atmosphere has prompted worries regarding the ongoing climate transition. The escalation of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, has led to discussions about the possibility of Earth undergoing a ‘termination-level transition’ akin to historical climate shifts.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Methane
  2. Termination-Level Transition
  3. Methane’s Threat to Warming Limits
  4. Initiatives Combatting Methane Emissions

Methane:

  • Methane is the simplest hydrocarbon, composed of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms (CH4).
  • It is flammable and widely utilized as a global fuel source.

Potent Greenhouse Gas:

  • Methane holds significant greenhouse gas properties.
  • Over the initial 20 years of its atmospheric existence, methane’s warming potential surpasses carbon dioxide by more than 80 times.

Diverse Emission Sources:

  • Approximately 60% of methane emissions stem from fossil fuel utilization, farming, waste, and landfills.
  • Natural sources, particularly decaying vegetation in tropical and northern wetlands, account for the remaining emissions.

Termination-Level Transition:

  • The term “termination-level transition” signifies a remarkable and sudden alteration in Earth’s climate from one state to another.
  • These shifts manifest through swift and substantial changes in diverse climatic elements, carrying potential extensive impacts on ecosystems, weather patterns, and overall environmental equilibrium.
  • Earth’s historical timeline has witnessed termination-level transitions, frequently linked to the culmination of ice ages and the ensuing transition into warmer interglacial periods.
  • The triggers for these transitions encompass various factors such as alterations in ocean currents and modifications in atmospheric composition.

Methane’s Threat to Warming Limits

Potent Heat Trapper:

  • Methane outperforms carbon dioxide (CO₂) in heat retention capability.
  • Its atmospheric life span is shorter, lasting less than a decade, unlike CO₂ that persists for centuries.
  • Despite its lower presence, methane’s heat-trapping potency is 28-36 times stronger over a century.

Escalating Concentrations:

  • Initial methane content was 0.7 parts per million (ppm) before human fossil fuel consumption.
  • It has now exceeded 1.9 ppm and is escalating rapidly.

Challenges for Temperature Control:

  • Escalating methane levels complicate achieving safe global warming limits.
  • Augmented methane intensifies the greenhouse effect, exacerbating temperature elevation.
  • Rising methane content brings the planet closer to perilous temperature thresholds.

Amplified Impact:

  • Methane-induced warming triggers further methane release from thawing permafrost and melting Arctic ice.
  • Such a feedback loop magnifies the warming consequences.

Ecosystem Disruption:

  • Elevated methane levels disrupt ecosystems, impede natural processes, and impact biodiversity.
  • Vulnerable habitats like wetlands are especially susceptible to methane-induced transformations.

Sea-Level Rise Catalyst:

  • Methane amplifies sea-level rise by accelerating polar ice and glacier melting.
  • This further jeopardizes coastal communities and exacerbates climate change repercussions.

Initiatives Combatting Methane Emissions

Indian Initiatives:
  • ‘Harit Dhara’ (HD): An anti-methanogenic feed supplement developed by ICAR that reduces cattle methane emissions by 17-20% and enhances milk production.
  • India Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Program: Led by WRI India, CII, and TERI, this industry-led framework helps organizations measure and manage greenhouse gas emissions for sustainable business practices.
  • National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC): Launched in 2008, NAPCC raises awareness about climate change and outlines strategies to counter its effects.
  • Bharat Stage-VI Norms: India adopted more stringent BS-VI emission norms to control vehicular emissions.
Global Measures:
  • Methane Alert and Response System (MARS): Integrates satellite data to detect methane emissions globally and notifies stakeholders for immediate action.
  • Global Methane Pledge: Around 100 countries pledged at UNFCCC COP 26 to reduce methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030 compared to 2020 levels.
  • Global Methane Initiative (GMI): An international partnership promoting the recovery and use of methane as a clean energy source.

-Source: Down To Earth


Public Tech Platform for Frictionless Credit


Context:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has initiated a pilot programme aimed at evaluating the feasibility of a ‘Public Tech Platform for Frictionless Credit’, seeking to facilitate seamless and efficient credit delivery by lenders for Credit Appraisal, and therefore boosting Financial Inclusion in India.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Public Tech Platform for Frictionless Credit
  2. Benefits and Outcomes of the Public Tech Platform for Frictionless Credit

Public Tech Platform for Frictionless Credit

The Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH) has developed a digital platform for seamless credit access, aiming to simplify the credit process and enhance efficiency.

Key Features:
  • End-to-End Digital Platform: The platform provides an end-to-end digital solution for credit access, integrating various services and data sources.
  • Open Architecture and APIs: The platform is built with an open architecture, open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and standards, allowing all banks to connect easily.
  • Plug and Play Model: Banks can connect to the platform using a “Plug and Play” model, facilitating quick integration.
  • Consolidation of Data: The platform integrates data from central and state governments, Account Aggregators (AA), banks, credit information companies, and digital identity authorities.
  • Streamlined Lending Processes: By consolidating data, the platform aims to eliminate obstacles and streamline rule-based lending processes.
Credit Appraisal Process:
  • The platform encompasses the credit appraisal process, which evaluates a borrower’s ability to repay the loan and adhere to credit terms.
  • The process is built on three pillars: adverse selection, exposure risk measurement, and default risk assessment.
Diverse Loan Types:
  • The platform covers various loan types, extending beyond Kisan Credit Cards (KCC) to include dairy loans, collateral-free MSME loans, personal loans, and home loans.
Data Integration:
  • The platform integrates with various services such as Aadhar e-KYC, Aadhar e-signing, land records, satellite data, PAN validation, transliteration, and account aggregation by Account Aggregators (AAs).

Benefits and Outcomes of the Public Tech Platform for Frictionless Credit

Improved Credit Risk Assessment:

  • The consolidation of data allows for better credit risk assessment by providing a comprehensive view of the borrower’s financial profile.
  • Lenders can make more informed decisions, reducing the risk of defaults and improving the overall quality of the credit portfolio.

Efficient Credit Portfolio Management:

  • The platform enables lenders to manage their credit portfolios more efficiently by accessing real-time data and insights.
  • Lenders can monitor the performance of existing loans and make necessary adjustments based on changing circumstances.

Access to Accurate Information:

  • Borrowers benefit from improved access to accurate information that supports transparent and swift credit assessments.
  • Accurate data minimizes discrepancies and ensures fair lending practices, resulting in improved credit availability.

Lower Cost of Capital Access:

  • The expansion of credit availability due to accurate information and streamlined processes can lower the cost of borrowing for borrowers.
  • Reduced interest rates can make credit more affordable, especially for small businesses and individuals.

Reduction of Operational Challenges:

  • The platform addresses operational challenges associated with multiple visits and extensive documentation requirements.
  • This reduction in administrative burdens leads to cost savings for both lenders and borrowers.

Faster Loan Processing and Disbursement:

  • The platform’s streamlined processes lead to quicker loan processing and disbursement.
  • Borrowers can receive funds in a shorter timeframe, enabling them to meet their financial needs promptly.

Scalability and Efficiency:

  • The platform’s efficiency and digitized processes facilitate scalability, allowing lenders to handle a higher volume of credit applications.
  • This scalability contributes to a more efficient and responsive credit ecosystem.

Enhanced Credit Ecosystem:

  • The platform’s outcomes contribute to an enhanced credit ecosystem that benefits both lenders and borrowers.
  • It fosters trust and transparency in lending practices, promoting financial inclusion and economic growth.

-Source: The Hindu


Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)


Context:

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the first vaccine that protects newborns from Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
  2. Transmission
  3. Prevention

About Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that affects people of all ages.
  • It is a significant cause of childhood illness and can lead to more severe infections in certain populations.
Symptoms:
  • RSV infection usually starts with symptoms appearing 4 to 6 days after infection.
  • Common symptoms include a runny nose, decreased appetite, cough, sneezing, fever, and wheezing.
Severity:
  • RSV usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms in healthy individuals.
  • However, it can lead to more severe infections in specific groups, including premature infants, babies younger than 6 months old, older adults, and individuals with compromised immune systems or underlying health conditions.
Complications:
  • In severe cases, RSV can lead to complications such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis.
  • Bronchiolitis involves inflammation of the small airways in the lungs.
  • Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs.

Transmission:

  • RSV spreads from person to person through the air via coughing and sneezing.
  • Direct contact, such as kissing the face of an infected person, can also transmit the virus.
  • Touching surfaces with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes can lead to infection.
  • People infected with RSV can be contagious for 3 to 8 days, and infants and those with weakened immune systems may remain contagious for up to 4 weeks.
Risk Groups:
  • Premature infants, young babies, older adults, and individuals with certain health conditions are at a higher risk of severe RSV infection.
Prevention:
  • Practicing good hygiene, such as frequent handwashing, can help prevent the spread of RSV.
  • In severe cases, hospitalization may be required, especially for infants and high-risk individuals.
  • Awareness and Early Detection:
  • Recognizing the symptoms and seeking medical attention early can help in managing RSV infections, especially in high-risk individuals.

-Source: Live Mint


Cholera


Context:

Recently, UNICEF said that since 2017, a spike in conflict and displacement in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is pushing children into the worst cholera crisis.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Cholera
  2. Key Facts about UNICEF

About Cholera

  • Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.
  • It is a global health threat and serves as an indicator of inadequate social development and public health measures.
Symptoms:
  • Cholera is characterized by its extreme virulence and can lead to severe acute watery diarrhea.
  • Other symptoms include profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps.
Rapid Spread:
  • The disease can spread rapidly, particularly in areas with insufficient sewage and inadequate drinking water treatment.
  • Lack of proper sanitation and hygiene contribute to the rapid transmission of cholera.
Vaccination:
  • In efforts to control and prevent cholera, three oral cholera vaccines (OCV) have been pre-qualified by the World Health Organization (WHO): Dukoral, Shanchol, and Euvichol-Plus.
  • These vaccines require a two-dose regimen to provide full protection.
Impact and Importance:
  • Cholera outbreaks can have devastating effects on communities, leading to illness and even death.
  • The disease’s prevalence can reflect societal disparities and the lack of access to clean water, sanitation, and healthcare.
Prevention and Control:
  • Preventing cholera requires a multi-pronged approach that includes improving water and sanitation infrastructure, promoting hygiene practices, and providing access to vaccines in high-risk areas.
Global Significance:
  • Cholera remains a global health concern, emphasizing the need for continued efforts in disease surveillance, early detection, and rapid response to outbreaks.

Key Facts about UNICEF

  • UNICEF stands for the United Nations Children’s Fund.
  • Mission: UNICEF is a specialized agency of the United Nations focused on providing humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.
  • Establishment: It was established in 1946, shortly after World War II, with the goal of addressing the needs of children affected by the war.
  • Headquarters: The organization’s headquarters is located in New York City, United States.
  • Global Reach: UNICEF operates in over 190 countries and territories across the world, making it one of the largest and most widespread international organizations.
Focus Areas:
  • UNICEF is committed to ensuring that every child, regardless of their background or location, has access to fundamental rights and services.
  • It works to provide basic healthcare, quality education, proper nutrition, clean water, sanitation, protection from violence, and safeguarding against exploitation.
Child Protection:
  • UNICEF is a prominent advocate for children’s rights and protection, working to prevent child labor, trafficking, and other forms of exploitation.
Emergency Response:
  • In times of crisis, UNICEF plays a crucial role in providing immediate relief and support to children and families affected by disasters, conflicts, and emergencies.
Collaboration:
  • UNICEF collaborates with governments, non-governmental organizations, other United Nations agencies, and various partners to implement programs and initiatives that benefit children and mothers.
Achievements and Challenges:
  • Over the years, UNICEF’s efforts have contributed to significant improvements in child health, education, and overall well-being.
  • Despite these achievements, there are ongoing challenges, such as persistent poverty, unequal access to resources, and new emerging threats to children’s well-being.
Advocacy and Awareness:
  • UNICEF plays a critical role in raising awareness about child rights issues, mobilizing public support, and advocating for policies that benefit children.
Nobel Peace Prize:
  • UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965 for its dedicated work to promote the well-being and rights of children worldwide.
Long-Term Commitment:
  • UNICEF’s commitment to improving the lives of children and mothers reflects the broader United Nations goal of achieving sustainable development and ensuring a better future for all.

-Source: The Hindu


Piripkura Tribe


Context:

Recently, the last survivors of an Amazon rainforest tribe- Piripkura found in Brazil.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Piripkura Tribe: Guardians of Tradition in Amazon Rainforest
  2. Amazon Rainforest: Lifeline and Habitat

Piripkura Tribe: Guardians of Tradition in Amazon Rainforest

  • The Piripkura tribe hails from Brazil’s Mato Grosso region.
  • This nomadic tribe is renowned for its strong commitment to preserving their traditional lifestyle and cultural practices.

Challenges and Isolation:

  • The tribe’s isolation has been paramount in their story.
  • They’ve encountered numerous obstacles due to encroachments on their land by illicit logging, mining, and other forms of land exploitation.
  • The tribe has strived to protect their land from deforestation and resource extraction.

Amazon Rainforest: Lifeline and Habitat:

  • The Amazon Rainforest, covering 2.3 million square miles, is a vast tropical rainforest spread across northern South America.
  • Encompassing 40% of Brazil’s land area, it’s bordered by the Guiana Highlands, Andes Mountains, Brazilian central plateau, and the Atlantic Ocean.
  • This biodiverse region serves as home to numerous indigenous communities, including the Piripkura tribe.
  • The Piripkura tribe’s valiant efforts to safeguard their ancestral lands in the Amazon Rainforest underscore the broader struggle for indigenous rights and conservation in the face of modern challenges.

-Source: Indian Express


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