Ojaank IAS Academy




13 May 2022 – Current Affairs

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The India Hypertension Control Initiative

Paper 2 HEALTH 

What is the IHCI?

• Recognising that hypertension is a serious, and growing, health issue in India, the Health Ministry, the Indian Council of Medical Research, State Governments, and WHO-India began a five-year initiative to monitor and treat hypertension.
• Hypertension is defined as having systolic blood pressure level greater than or equal to 140 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure level greater than or equal to 90 mmHg or/and taking anti-hypertensive medication to lower his/her blood pressure.
• India has committed to a “25 by 25” goal, which aims to reduce premature mortality due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 25% by 2025.
• One of the nine voluntary targets includes reducing the prevalence of high blood pressure by 25% by 2025.
• The programme was launched in November 2017. In the first year, IHCI covered 26 districts across five States – Punjab, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, and Maharashtra.
• By December 2020, IHCI was expanded to 52 districts across ten States – Andhra Pradesh (1), Chhattisgarh (2), Karnataka (2), Kerala (4), Madhya Pradesh (6), Maharashtra (13), Punjab (5), Tamil Nadu (1), Telangana (13) and West Bengal (5).

How many have been enrolled in the programme? 

• As of December 2021, 101 districts across 19 States had commenced project activities. The project districts enrolled almost 21 lakh patients across 13,821 health facilities.
• In the 26 initial districts, one fifth of the expected patients were enrolled.
• State wise proportions were Maharashtra (27%), Kerala (22.6%), Madhya Pradesh (18.7%), Telangana (18.6%) and Punjab (14.2%).
• Managing blood pressure for 2.5 crore individuals can prevent up to five lakh deaths due to cardiovascular disease in the next 10 years.

What has the IHCI found so far?

• Its most important discovery so far is that nearly one-fourth of(23%) patients under the programme had uncontrolled blood pressure, and 27% did not return for a follow-up in the first quarter of 2021.
• There were an estimated 20 crore adults with hypertension in the country. To achieve India’s target of a 25% relative reduction in the prevalence of raised blood pressure, approximately 4.5 crore additional people with hypertension need to get their blood pressure under control by 2025.
• of a million patients registered in five phase I and three phase II States till Dec 2020, 7.4 lakhs were under care between April 2020 to March 2021.
• Nearly half (47%) of the registered patients under care had blood pressure under control during the most recent visit in the first quarter of 2021.
• Drug availability improved in all phase I States with at least one-month refills for key blood pressure drugs.
• Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana had stocks for nearly six months for protocol drugs.
• Kerala had only one month stock and Maharashtra had two months stock available in May 2021.
• Availability of drugs was a challenge in most phase II States and procurement process took nearly one year from planning.
• There weren’t enough validated high-quality digital blood pressure monitors in several health facilities, which affected accuracy of hypertension diagnosis.
• In phase I States, dedicated nurses were insufficient except in Telangana and Maharashtra.
• In phase II States, most districts did not have dedicated NCD nurses at public health care centres level except Chennai.

How prevalent is the problem of hypertension?

• Southern States have a higher prevalence of hypertension than the national average, according to the latest edition of the National Family Health Survey.
• While 21.3% of women and 24% of men aged above 15 have hypertension in the country, the prevalence is the highest in Kerala where 32.8% men and 30.9% women have been diagnosed with hypertension.
• Kerala is followed by Telangana where the prevalence is 31.4% in men and 26.1% in women.
• About one-fourth of women and men aged 40 to 49 years have hypertension. Even at an earlier age, one in eight women and more than one in five men aged 30 to 39 years have hypertension.
• The prevalence of hypertension is higher among Sikhs (37% for men and 31% for women), Jains (30% for men and 25% for women), and Christians (29% for men and 26% for women) than the rest.

Ranil as Sri Lanka Prime Minister


Why We Should Know

• Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as Premier, to restore stability in the island nation amid a political impasse and stifling economic crisis.
• This is the sixth time Mr. Wickremesinghe, 73, has been appointed to the office – he has never finished a full term – and will have the task of arresting the devastating impact of the island’s economic downturn, that too under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is fiercely detested by disgruntled citizens demanding his resignation.

Major Points 

• Sri Lanka, an island nation of 22 million, is facing an economic and political crisis, with protesters taking to the streets in defiance of curfews and government ministers stepping down en masse.
• A severe shortage of foreign currency has left Rajapaksa’s government unable to pay for essential imports, including fuel, leading to debilitating power cuts lasting up to 13 hours.
• Ordinary Sri Lankans are also dealing with shortages and soaring inflation.
• Sri Lanka has also requested help from China and India, with New Delhi already issuing a credit line of $1 billion in March — but some analysts warned that this assistance might just prolong the crisis rather than solve it.

Event Horizon Reveals True Colours of SgrA*


Why We Should Know

• Scientists from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) facility, at press conferences held simultaneously at several centres around the world, revealed the first image of the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.
• The image of Sagittarius A* (SgrA*) gave further support to the idea that the compact object at the centre of our galaxy is indeed a black hole, strengthening Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Major Points 

• In 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope facility, a collaboration of over 300 researchers, made history by releasing the first-ever image of a black hole, M87* – the black hole at the centre of a galaxy Messier 87, which is a supergiant elliptic galaxy.
• The ring-shaped image of SgrA*, which looked a lot similar to the one of M87*, OCcupied 52 microarcseconds in the field of view, which is as big a span of our view as a doughnut on the moon.
• The whole exercise was possible because of the enormous power of the Event Horizon Telescope, an ensemble of several telescopes around the world, which together were like a giant eye on the earth with a sight that is 3 million times sharper than the human eye. Sagittarius A* is 27,000 light years from us.
• At the press conference, the researchers said that imaging Sagittarius A* (SgrA*) was much more difficult than imaging M87* for the following reasons: first, SgrA* is only one-thousandth the size of M87*; second, the line of sight is obscured by a lot of matter; and as SgrA* is much smaller than M87*, the gas swirling around it takes only minutes to complete an orbit around SgrA* as opposed to taking weeks to go around M87*.
• The last gives a variability that makes it difficult to image. A clear imaging requires long exposure of eight to 10 hours, where ideally the object should not change much.

Retail Inflation


Why We Should Know

• Inflation in food and beverages, which has a 46% weight in the overall Consumer Price Index (CPI), sped up to 8.1% in April, from 7.47% in March, led primarily by a quickening in vegetables inflation to 15.4% from March’s 11.6%.
• The pace of price rise in oil and fats eased marginally to 17.3%, from 18.8% in March. Meat and fish inflation also cooled a bit to about 7% in April from 9.63% in the previous month.
• Food inflation at 8.4% was significant as inflation in cereals was high because of higher wheat prices.
• Transport and Communication inflation, which reflects automobile fuel prices, raced to 10.9%, surging by almost 300 basis points from the preceding month’s 8% reading.
• The government may consider using the additional fiscal capacity reflected in higher GST collections in April and the 49% uptick registered in direct tax collections in 2021-22, to reduce central excise duty rates on petroleum products with a view to containing inflation.


• In economics, inflation is a general increase in prices of goods and services in an economy.
• When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services; consequently, inflation corresponds to a reduction in the purchasing power of money.
• The opposite of inflation is deflation, a sustained decrease in the general price level of goods and services.
• The common measure of inflation is the inflation rate, the annualized percentage change in a general price index.
• As prices do not all increase at the same rate, the consumer price index (CPI) is often used for this purpose. The employment cost index is also used for wages in the United States.
• Economists believe that very high inflation and hyperinflation – which have severely disruptive effects on the real economy – are caused by persistent excessive growth in the money supply.
• Views on low to moderate rates of inflation are more varied. Low or moderate inflation may be attributed to fluctuations in real demand for goods and services, or changes in available supplies such as during scarcities.
• Moderate inflation affects economies in both positive and negative ways. The negative effects include an increase in the opportunity cost of holding money, uncertainty over future inflation which may discourage investment and savings, and if inflation were rapid enough, shortages of goods as consumers begin hoarding out of concern that prices will increase in the future.
• Positive effects include reducing unemployment due to nominal wage rigidity, allowing the central bank greater freedom in carrying out monetary policy, encouraging loans and investment instead of money hoarding, and avoiding the inefficiencies associated with deflation.
• Today, most economists favour a low and steady rate of inflation. Low (as opposed to zero or negative) inflation reduces the severity of economic recessions by enabling the labor market to adjust more quickly in a downturn, and reduces the risk that a liquidity trap prevents monetary policy from stabilising the economy.
• The task of keeping the rate of inflation low and stable is usually given to monetary authorities.
• Generally, these monetary authorities are the central banks that control monetary policy through the setting of interest rates, by carrying out open market operations and (more rarely) changing commercial bank reserve requirements.

Rupee Hits Second Record Low


Why We Should Know?

• The rupee plunged to a fresh low in less than a week, as elevated crude oil prices and quickening inflation spurred concern over the outlook for the currency.
• The rupee fell to a new low of 77.63 against the U.S. dollar in intraday trade before recovering slightly to close at 77.50. The previous lowest close was 77.44.
• Elevated crude prices, global uncertainty amid the war in Ukraine, mounting inflation and prospects of an aggressive monetary tightening path by the U.S. Fed have been major headwinds for the domestic currency.
• The rupee is expected to trade in the 76.80-78.50 range in the near-to-medium term, she added.
• Stock indices too saw a sell-off on 12 May for the fourth consecutive day, led by banking and financial stocks. The S&P BSE Sensex fell 1,158 points, or 2.14%, to 52,930.31.
• Stocks that slid the most were Indusind Bank (5.82%) and Tata Steel (4.13%). The NSE Nifty too declined 359.10 points, or 2.22%, to 15,808.

Others Major Points 

• The rupee has gone to its all-time low of nearly 77.5.
• All Asian currencies have fallen led by Yuan.
• Currency analysts at Emkay Global Financial Services said that any major rupee appreciation will be seen only below the 77 level. “The currency can hit levels of 78/78.25 levels until then,” the broking firm said.
• The slide in the domestic currency was capped by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which was understood to have intervened at around the 77.60 level.
• The rupee closed at 77.42 after hitting an intraday high of 77.37, supported by dollar sales by the central bank.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque


Why We Should Know?

• AVARANASI court ordered that the video survey of the Gyanvapi Mosquelocated next to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple be resumed and a report submitted by May 17.
• The court had ordered the inspection last month on a petition by five Hindu women seeking round-the-year access to pray at “a shrine behind the western wall of the mosque complex”, but the exercise had been halted after allegations of bias were made against the official in charge.
• The site is currently opened for Hindu prayers once a year-on the fourth day of the chaitra navratri in April.
• The petitioners have also sought permission to pray to other “visible and invisible deities within the old temple complex”.

The mosque

• The Gyanvapi Mosque is believed to have been built in 1669 during the reign of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, who ordered the demolition of the existing Vishweshwar temple and its replacement by a mosque.
• The plinth of the temple was left untouched, and served as the courtyard of the mosque. One of the walls too was spared, and it became the qibla wall, the mostomate and important wallinamosque that faces Mecca.
• Material from the destroyed temple was used to build the mosque.
• The name of the mosque is said to have derived from an adjoining well, the Gyanvapi, or Well of Knowledge.
• An old sculpture of the Nandi bull inside the compound of the present Kashi Vishwanath Temple faces the wall of the mosque instead of the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.
• It is believed that Nandi is in fact, facing the sanctum sanctorum of the original Vishweshwar temple.

The temple

• For more than 100 years after the mosque was built, there was no temple at the site.
• The present Kashi Vishwanath Temple was built in the 18th century by Rani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore, immediately to the south of the mosque.
• Over the decades it emerged as one of the most prominent and revered centres of the Hindu religion.
• Many Hindus have long believed that the original lingam of the erstwhile Vishweshwar temple was hidden by the priests inside the Gyanvapi well during Aurangzeb’s raid – which has fired the desire to conduct puja and rituals at the sacred place where the mosque now stands.

The claims 

• From time to time, petitioners have laid claim to the mosque, saying it remains the original sacred place of Hindu worship.
• he VHP’s Ram Temple movement aimed to “liberate”, apart from the Ramjanmabhoomi Temple-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya, the Kashi-Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi mosque site and the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi in Mathura as well.
• The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 – which mandates that the nature of all places of Worship, except the one in Ayodhya that was then under litigation, shall be maintained as it was on August 15, 1947, and that no encroachment of any such place prior to the date can bechallenged in courts – applies to the disputed complex in Varanasi.
• In April 2021, Fast Track Court Civil Judge (Senior Division) ordered the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India to “get a comprehensive archaeological physical survey” done of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque complex to find out as to whether the religious structure standing at present at the disputed site is a superimposition, alteration or addition or there is a structural overlapping of any kind, with or over, any religious structure”.
• The mosque is not an ASI-protected site, and the ASI has no role in its maintenance or upkeep.

Digital Health Solutions


Why We Should Know?

• The number of digital health solutions successfully added to the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) in the last three months, according to the National Health Authority (NHA).
• This takes the tally of ABDM integrated service applications to 40 since the national launch was announced on September 27, 2021.
• The ABDM scheme aims to develop the backbone necessary to support the integrated digital health infrastructure of India and bridge the existing gap in the healthcare ecosystem through digital highways.

Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM)

• Prime Minister launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) via video conferencing on 27th September 2021, in the presence of Shri Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, among other dignitaries.
• Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission will connect the digital health solutions of hospitals across the country with each other.
• The Mission will not only make the processes of hospitals simplified but also will increase ease of living.
• The Digital Ecosystem will also enable a host of other facilities like Digital Consultation, Consent of patients in letting medical practitioners access their records, etc.
• With the implementation of this scheme, old medical records cannot get lost as every record will be stored digitally.

National Digital Health Eco-system

• It is a National Digital Health Eco-system that supports Universal Health Coverage in an efficient, accessible, inclusive, affordable, timely, and safe manner, through provision of a wide-range of data, information and infrastructure services, duly leveraging open, interoperable, standards-based digitalsystems, and ensuring the security, confidentiality and privacy of health-related personal information.

Genes grafted to tomato plant cells


Why We Should Know?

• Recently, Australian scientists have broken the barrier separating animals and plants by transplanting a group of genes from a bacterium into the cells of a tomato plant, it was reported here to-day.
• Three scientists of the School of Biological Sciences of the Australian National University in Canberra announced to-day that the transplant had given the cells of the tomato plant the genetic memory of an animal.
• The transplant had given the plant cells entirely new characteristics. The genetic information transmitted will make it possible for plants to take nitrogen directly from the air rather than from fertilizers.
• Plants might also be induced by such transplants to produce protein of the type needed to help overcome the world’s food shortage.


• Cell is a peer-reviewed scientific journal publishing research papers across a broad range of disciplines within the life sciences.
• Areas covered include molecular biology, cell biology, systems biology, stem cells, developmental biology, genetics and genomics, proteomics, cancer research, immunology, neuroscience, structural biology, microbiology, virology, physiology, biophysics, and computational biology.
• The journal was established in 1974 by Benjamin Lewin and is published twice monthly by Cell Press, an imprint of Elsevier.

Ujjwala LPG scheme: 90-lakh beneficiaries don’t take refills


Why We Should Know?

• In the financial year 2021-22, 90-lakh beneficiaries of the Narendra Modi government’s flagship welfare scheme, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), did not take refill gas cylinders. And over one crore beneficiaries got their refills only once.
• These revelations come against the backdrop of the much-feted labharthi, or beneficiary, class which reportedly voted in good numbers for the BJP in the recent elections, especially to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly.

Major Points

• The scheme was originally launched on May 1, 2016, in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a target of releasing eight crore connections by March 2020.
• So far, over nine crore connections under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana has been released.
• The PMUY 2.0 was launched in 2021-22, making a provision for release of additional one crore connections.
• According to the RTI replies, the IOCL, for the connections released by them till March 2021, 65 lakh customers have not refilled their connections during the past financial year.
• The figures for the HPCL and the BPCL are 9.1 lakh and 15.96 lakh, respectively.
• The BPCL specified that the figure of 15.96 lakh is only for the connections released up to September 2019, which was the first round of the Ujjwala Yojana.
• The number of customers who got refill cylinders only once for the IOCL was 52 lakh, for HPCL 27.58 lakh and BPCL 28.56 lakh.
• As per a reply filed by the government in the Lok Sabha in March this year, the LPG consumption under the Ujjwala Yojana remains 3.66 refills per connection annually.

COVID effect

• These figures should also take into account the fact that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the government provided up to three free of cost LPG refills to PMUY beneficiaries from April 1, 2020, and this was extended up to December 31, 2020.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana 2.0 

• In May 2016, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MOPNG), introduced the ‘Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana’ (PMUY) as a flagship scheme with an objective to make clean cooking fuel such as LPG available to the rural and deprived households which were otherwise using traditional cooking fuels such as firewood, coal, cow-dung cakes etc. Usage of traditional cooking fuels had detrimental impacts on the health of rural women as well as on the environment.
• The scheme was launched on 1st May 2016 in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri. Narendra Modi.
• The target under the scheme was to release 8 Crore LPG Connections to the deprived households by March 2020.
• On 7th September 2019, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India handed over the 8th Crore LPG connection in Aurangabad, Maharashtra.
• The release of 8 Crore LPG connections under the scheme has also helped in increasing the LPG coverage from 62% on 1st May 2016 to 99.8% as on 1st April 2021.
• Under the Union Budget for FY 21-22, provision for release of additional 1 Crore LPG connections under the PMUY scheme has been made. In this phase, special facility has been given to migrant families.

Indo-Israeli cooperation


Why We Should Know?

• The number of Indian villages to be shaped with Israeli cooperation to mark India’s 75th Independence anniversary, according to Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
• The Minister added that the step was taking the Indo-Israel cooperation to the “next level in the field of agriculture. Mr. Tomar, who was in Israel on a four-day official visit from May 8, met with his Israeli counterpart, Oded Forer and discussed issues related to modern agro-techniques and transfer of knowledge in agriculture.

Indo – Israel 

• An Indo-Israel Work Plan was signed during the visit of Agriculture Minister to Israel in May 2006. Based on the field visits of Israeli experts and discussions, an Action Plan (2008-2010) was agreed upon during the visit of Minister of Agriculture, Government of Israel to India in January, 2008 wherein a number of areas were identified on which collaborative efforts could be taken up in the States of Maharashtra, Haryana and Rajasthan.

First Phase of Indo-Israel Action Plan:

• The action plan 2008-10 was implemented in the states of Haryana and Maharashtra. Good progress was achieved during the implementation of Action Plan from January 2008 to December 2010.
• A number of technologies in the field of horticulture mechanization, protected cultivation, orchard and canopy management, nursery management, micro-irrigation and PHM were achieved through visit of Israeli Experts in the States of Haryana and Maharashtra.
• During this phase, elite planting material /varieties of fruits and machinery was also imported from Israel.
• The experts from Israel trained the officers and farmers from these States on above mentioned fields during the Ist phase of implementation.
• A number of officers from States (57 no’s) were trained in Israel during 2008-2010.

Second Phase of Indo-Israel Action Plan:

• A Joint Team finalized the second phase of three year Action Plan (2012-15) under Indo-Israel work plan to complete the ongoing projects which were at different stages of implementation in the States of Haryana and Maharashtra.
• The States of Haryana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Punjab who have shown interest for their inclusion during 2nd phase were requested to take up activities such as Post Harvest Management, water use efficiency, waste water use, dairying etc. during the extended phase.
• States of Haryana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Punjab, made presentation before the Joint Team on the projects to be implemented with financial support from NHM and technology support from Israel.

Third Phase of Indo-Israel Action Plan:

The Steering Committee of Indo Israel Action Plan agreed to extend the activities for a further period of three years (2015 – 18) and approved a revised action plan and activities to be extended in additional States.
• Participating States were decided to be Haryana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Tripura, Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana and West Bengal.

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