The Hindu – UPSC Current Affairs 5th November 2018

The Hindu - UPSC Current Affairs 5th November 2018

Water ATM may help in Bridging Safe Water Gap :-

For thousands of communities across India, the process of getting drinking water is now the same as the process of getting cash : they head to an ATM.

With 82 crore people who still do not have access to piped water and 70% of water in the country contaminated by pollutants, the government is increasingly starting to accept small water enterprises — such as water ATMs and community purification plants — as an alternative solution to the safe drinking water challenge.

A recent report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) pointed out that only 18% of the rural population has access to potable piped water, failing to meet the 2017 target of 50%.

What is Water ATM ?

The water ATM is a dispensation system, which can be automatic with a coin or smart card, or manual,”

SWN (Safe Water Network) :-

Community water purification plants have grown from less than 12,000 in 2014 to almost 50,000 in 2018, according to the SWN, as they have been incorporated into government planning.

To reach the government’s Har Ghar Jal target of 100% piped water by 2030, almost Rs. 5 lakh crore of infrastructure investment will be required, says government data. SWN estimates that if the government is willing to spend less than 10% of that amount on small water enterprises, it could provide safe drinking water at a fraction of the cost.

According to a report by Safe Water Network (SWN) says 

  • Government needs to spend Rs. 44,000 crore on 2.2 lakh small water enterprises to provide safe drinking water to about 37 crore people, mostly in urban slums where piped water infrastructure is difficult to build, and in rural areas with contaminated water sources.
  • While such Small Water enterprises cost only a fraction of piped water infrastructure, policy changes and at least a doubling of tariffs are needed to help them bridge the safe water gap.

Water Quality Index :- India is ranked at 120 out of 122 countries on the Water Quality Index, said Niti Aayog, adding that 70% of the country’s water supply is contaminated.

RBI starts process to setup PCR :-

The Reserve Bank has initiated steps to set up a wide-based digital Public Credit Registry (PCR) to capture details of all borrowers, including wilful defaulters and also the pending legal suits in order to check financial delinquencies.

The PCR will also include data from entities like market regulator SEBI, the Corporate Affairs Ministry and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India to enable banks and financial institutions to get a 360-degree profile of existing and prospective borrowers on a real-time basis. The RBI has invited expression of interest (EOI) for developing the registry from companies with a turnover of over Rs. 100 crore in the last three years.

NASA’s historic Dawn mission to asteroid belt comes to end :-

Context :-

NASA’s pioneering Dawn spacecraft which orbited the two largest objects in the asteroid belt has run out of fuel, ending a historic 11-year mission. It had unraveled many mysteries of our solar system.

Dawn Mission :-

The Dawn mission was launched in 2007 to study the protoplanets Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres. The astounding images and data that Dawn collected from Vesta and Ceres are critical to understanding the history and evolution of our solar system.

Reasons for an end of 11 year old Dawn Mission :-

  • It missed scheduled communications sessions with NASA’s Deep Space Network.
  • Mission managers concluded that the spacecraft finally ran out of hydrazine, the fuel that enables the spacecraft to control its pointing.
  • Dawn can no longer keep its antennae trained on Earth to communicate with mission control or turn its solar panels to the Sun to recharge, according to the US space agency.

Records set by the mission

  • In 2011, when Dawn arrived at Vesta, the second largest world in the main asteroid belt, the spacecraft became the first to orbit a body in the region between Mars and Jupiter.
  • In 2015, when Dawn went into orbit around Ceres, a dwarf planet that is also the largest world in the asteroid belt, the mission became the first to visit a dwarf planet and go into orbit around two destinations beyond Earth, it said.
  • Dawn also reinforced the idea that dwarf planets could have hosted oceans over a significant part of their history and potentially still do.
  • Dawn will remain in orbit for at least 20 years, and engineers have more than 99% confidence the orbit will last for at least 50 years

Zika Outbreak in India :-

India battles the first-ever significant zika virus outbreak in the country, with more than 150 cases reported from Rajasthan in the last few weeks. Strains of the virus have also been found in the States of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. Zika is an infection caused by mosquito bite and there is no vaccine available yet. But worry not, serious efforts are being made the world over to develop a zika vaccine.

Whatis zika fever?

It’s a disease caused by Zika virus that’s transmitted primarily through the bite of several species of Aedes mosquitoes. Aedes is a genus of mosquitoes originally found in tropical and subtropical zones, but now found on all continents except Antarctica. Zika belongs to a family of flaviviruses. Besides Zika, the falvivirus genus includes the West Nile virus, dengue virus, tick-borne encephalitis virus, and yellow fever virus.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Zika are similar to other illnesses spread through mosquito bites, such as dengue and chikungunya.

The majority of people infected with Zika virus are asymptomatic or show mild symptoms. The symptoms include fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, and headache. They usually last for two to seven days.

When was zika virus first discovered?

Zika virus was first discovered in monkeys in Uganda in 1947. It was later identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The first recorded outbreak of Zika virus disease was reported from the Island of Yap (Federated States of Micronesia) in 2007, where the virus affected more than a hundred people. A major outbreak was recorded in French Polynesia (a set of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, an overseas territory of France) in 2013. It affected more than 30,000 people. The next larger outbreak was reported from Brazil in 2015. Outbreaks and evidence of transmission soon appeared throughout the Americas, Africa and Asia.

A total of 86 countries have reported Zika infection, according to the WHO.

In India, the first confirmed Zika case occurred in 2016 in Gujarat.

Whyis it dangerous?

Zika virus disease is dangerous because it has been linked to deadlier conditions such as Guillain-Barré Syndrome and microcephaly. Zika infection may trigger Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nerves, sometimes resulting in paralysis. And a zika infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other congenital abnormalities in the developing foetus and newborn.

How does it spread?

Zika virus is primarily transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti. Aedes mosquitoes usually bite during the day.

Zika virus is also transmitted from mother to the foetus during pregnancy, through sexual contact, transfusion of blood, and organ transplantation.

What should you do to prevent a zika infection?

There is no vaccine to prevent Zika. The best way to prevent Zika virus infection is to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

• Sleep under mosquito nets

• Wear clothes that cover as much of the body as possible

• Use physical barriers such as window screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering the house

• Apply mosquito repellents

• Aedes mosquitoes breed in small pools of water. Eliminate such breeding sites – close water storage containers, remove stagnant water, and clean up trash and used tyres.

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