GS Paper 1- Art and Culture
Folk dances of India
Why in news?
- Recently the Rabha group performed its folk dance called Hamja during an election rally in Assam.
- Rabha is an indigenous Tibeto - Burman community.Rabha people have migrated to many places right from olden times and don't have a written history of the original whereabouts.
- Rabha is found in Assam, Meghalaya, West Bengal in India, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
- In Assam, the Rabhas live mostly in Goalpara, Kamrup, Kokrajhar, Udalguri, and Baksa districts; and also in some places of Bongaigaon, Chirang, Sonitpur, and Karbi Anglong districts.
- In Meghalaya, Rabhas are mostly found in Garo Hills districts.
- In West Bengal, Rabha people mainly live in Jalpaiguri district, Cooch Behar district and Alipurduar district.
About Rabha Tribe
- The Rabhas are divided into various Rabha ethnic groups.
- They speak distinct Rabha languages. The Rongdani Rabhas speak in Rongdani language, the Mayturi Rabhas speak in Mayturi language.
- But the Pati Rabhas,Dahuri Rabhas and the Bitolia Rabhas speak their own language which is merely similar to Assamese language.
- "Baikho Dera" is the main Festival of the Rabhas.
- Rabha people traditionally practice a few animistic rituals.
- However, today they more often follow a faith, which is a blend of some Hindu and a few animistic rituals.
Some important folk dances performed in various Indian states
Kuchipudi, Burrakatha, Butta Bommalu
Kathakali, Mohiniattam, Kaikottikali, Padayani, Kolkali-Parichakali, Chakyar Koothu
Odissi, Paika, Dalkhai, Danda Jatra
Kathak, Raslila, Dadra
Garba, Dandiya Raas
Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha
Ghoomar or Gangore, Kalbelia
Bhangra/ Giddha, Jhoomar
Madhya Pradesh, Malwa region
Gaur Maria, Raut Naach
Jharkhand and West Bengal
Biraha, Jat- Jatin
Tamil Nadu and Kerala
Chota Nagpur Plateau
Jammu and Kashmir
Source : PIB, Wikipedia, Art & Culture Book by Nitin Singhania
GS Paper-2 Governance
Why in News?
- The first farm based solar power plant under the Prime Minister’s Kisan Urja Suraksha Evum Utthan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM) scheme has come up in Jaipur district’s Kotputli tehsil with a provision for production of 17 lakh units of electricity every year.
- The 1 MW project has been established on 3.50 acres of farmland in Kotputli’s Bhaloji village.
Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) scheme was initiated by Government of India to increase the income of farmers and provide source for irrigation and de-dieselize the farm sector. PM-KUSUM Scheme got its administrative approval in March 2019 and guidelines were framed in July 2019. This scheme was launched by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) for the installation of solar pumps and other renewable power plants across the nation.
Three Components of PM-KUSUM Yojana
- Under this scheme, workers will setup 10,000 MW of decentralized renewable energy power plants which are grid connected on barren land
- These grids will be setup by farmers, cooperatives, group of farmers, panchayats, Water User Associations (WUA) and Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO)
- Power projects will be setup within the radius of 5 kms of the sub-station
- Under this scheme, farmers will be supported to install stand-alone solar agriculture pumps worth of Rs. 17.50 lakh
- The capacity of the pumps will be up to 7.5 HP for replacement of existing diesel agriculture pumps
- The capacity can be higher than 7.5 HP but financial support will only be provided upto 7.5 HP capacity
- This scheme is for solarisation of 10 Lakh Grid Connected Agriculture Pumps and individual farmers will be supported to solarize pumps those having grid connected pumps
- Extra solar power will be sold to Distribution Companies of India (DISCOMs) at pre-fixed tariff
- Farmer’s irrigation needs shall be met by using the generated solar power
Objectives of PM Kusum
- Under PM KUSUM Yojana, farmers, group of farmers, panchayat, co-operative societies can apply to plant a solar pump.
- The total cost involved in this scheme is divided into three categories in which the Government will help farmers.
- The government will provide a subsidy of 60% to farmers and 30% of the cost will be given by Government in form of loans.
- Farmers will only have to give 10% of the total cost of the project.
- The electricity generated from the solar panel can be sold by the farmers.
- The money gained after selling electricity can further be used for starting a new business.
- Solar Pumps are scanty for domestic suppliers.
- The scheme focuses on pumps of 3 HP and higher capacities, therefore it automatically eliminates around 85% of farmers who are low and marginal.
- Due to power subsidies, the recurring cost of electricity is low which makes farmers keep on pumping water which leads to declining water table.
- KUSUM scheme would ensure energy security for farmers, as they could generate revenue from their less productive or barren land. It would also help increase the clean green energy and generate employment in the rural areas.
- Due to the adopted solar energy and the wind and hybrid energy policies in December 2019 with the plans to develop a capacity of 38,000 MW renewable energy, the capacity to be developed under the KUSUM scheme will be of the order of 2,600 MW which is significant for the renewable energy targets.
GS PAPER 3- Health
Maternal Mortality Rate
Effect of lockdown on the institutionalised maternal delivery system during Pandemic
Why in News?
Maternal deaths rose during Pandemic.
- During the months of national lockdown between April’20 and June’20 as compared to the same period in 2019, there was a 27% drop in pregnant women receiving four or more antenatal checkups, a 28% decline in institutional deliveries and 22% decline in prenatal services.
The stalled transportation, poverty rise and overloaded healthcare system during strict Pandemic guidelines resulted in increase in maternal deaths and stillbirths. The disruption caused by the COVID19 pandemic has led to avoidable deaths of both mothers and babies. Therefore, the policy makers and healthcare leaders must urgently investigate robust strategies for preserving safe and respectful maternity care, even during the ongoing global emergency. Immediate action is required to avoid rolling back decades of investment in reducing mother and infant mortality in low resource settings and hence further lockdowns might not be beneficial in this context.
GS Paper 2- International relations
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)
Why in News?
US- Iran agreed to talk on nuclear deal.
What is JCPOA?
- The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal, is an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015, between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany) together with the European Union.
- Formal negotiations toward JCPOA began with the adoption of the Joint Plan of Action, an interim agreement signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries in November 2013. Iran and the P5+1 countries engaged in negotiations for the next 20 months and in April 2015 agreed on a framework for the final agreement.
- In July 2015 Iran and the P5+1 confirmed agreement on the plan along with the "Roadmap Agreement" between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Association.
The P5+1 refers to the UN Security Council's five permanent members (the P5); namely China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; plus Germany. The P5+1 is often referred to as the E3+3 by European countries.
- Outside of conservative political backlash there still remains a great litany of economic, social, and military challenges to the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal within Iran itself.
- If the Iranian economy continues to remain stagnated, and foreign investment remains low, it is likely the public will turn away from the nuclear deal since it did not bring the level of economic relief that many Iranians banked their support of the deal on.
- This is evidenced by the 13% drop in approval of the deal among Iranians in the year after the deal was reached.
- Even after the implementation of the JCPOA many foreign investors have remained weary of Iran.
- Decades of global economic isolation have strengthened the "economy of resistance", or the self-sufficient economy developed under sanctions, and as a result many businesses are actually front companies for or directly linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
- Other aspects that have hampered foreign direct investment in the wake of the Iran deal include high levels of corruption and the arrest of foreigners suspected of espionage.
- Iran's increasing military involvement in the Middle East may also present a challenge to the deal.
- The regional conflict between Sunni and Shiite proxy groups aggravates tensions between the region's powers and motivates Iran to "demonstrate its resolve" for the purpose of domestic audiences.
- The conflicts that arise as a result can lead to greater confrontation between the United States and Iran which can undermine the deal.
Exploring New ways:
- U.S. and Iran would begin negotiations through intermediaries to try to get both countries back into an accord limiting Iran’s nuclear programme.
- Cease Fire in Yemen will pave the way of safe and secure oil transport from Persian Gulf & Red Sea.
GS Paper-3 Science and Technology, Health
Why in News?
Union Health Minister approves National Policy for Rare Diseases, 2021
What is rare disease?
- A rare disease is any disease that affects a small percentage of the population.
- In some parts of the world, an orphan disease is a rare disease whose rarity means there is a lack of a market large enough to gain support and resources for discovering treatments for it, except by the government granting economically advantageous conditions to creating and selling such treatments.
- Orphan drugs are ones so created or sold.
- Most rare diseases are genetic and thus are present throughout the person's entire life, even if symptoms do not immediately appear.
- Many rare diseases appear early in life, and about 30% of children with rare diseases will die before reaching their fifth birthday.
- With only three diagnosed patients in 27 years, ribose-5-phosphate isomerase deficiency is considered the rarest known genetic disease.
- No single cut-off number has been agreed upon for which a disease is considered rare.
- A disease may be considered rare in one part of the world, or in a particular group of people, but still be common in another.
- The US organisation Global Genes has estimated that more than 300 million people worldwide are living with one of the approximately 7,000 diseases they define as "rare" in the United States.
- Global status of rare disease:
- Approximately 10% of the global population or 475 million people are affected by a “rare” condition.
- Only 5% of the 475 million people with rare disease have a treatment. Given that 80% of these diseases have genetic causes (meaning that people tend to be born with a rare disease), sufferers are highly likely to be children, with 30% of them dying before they reach their fifth birthday – often without a diagnosis. More than 450 million people – near the populations of the USA, Australia, Canada, and the UK combined – are living without a treatment or an opportunity to get better.
Some important data
- 10% Of the global population is affected by a rare disease
- 7,000 Rare diseases have been identified
- 475m People globally are estimated to have a rare disease
- 80% Of rare diseases have genetic or genomic causes and therefore affect children disproportionately
- 30% Of children with a rare disease die before they reach their fifth birthday
- 1 in 3 Hospital beds in paediatric hospitals are occupied by children with a rare disease
- 7 years Average time to diagnosis
- 5% Or less for a chance of treatment for a rare disease
Status of rare disease in India
- The commonly reported diseases in India include
- Primary immunodeficiency disorders,
- Lysosomal storage disorders (Gaucher’s disease, Mucopolysaccharidoses, Pompe disease, fabry disease etc.)
- small molecule inborn errors of metabolism (Maple Syrup urine disease, organic acidemias, etc.),
- Cystic Fibrosis,
- osteogenesis imperfecta,
- certain forms of muscular dystrophies and s
- pinal muscularatrophy, etc.
- Estimates suggest that around 70 million people suffer from a rare disease in India and the Government has to take proactive steps to ensure easy access to ‘orphan drugs’.
- Despite the serious implications on child mortality, innovative ways to integrate rare diseases into the government’s ambitious Ayushman Bharat are absent in the draft Policy.
- A rare disease patient’s journey begins before a diagnosis. In India, this journey is significantly more prolonged due to the unavailability of testing, limited access to specialists, and a lack of understanding of the impact of rare diseases on the patient’s quality of life.
- The annual cost of treatment for some rare diseases may vary from INR 10 Lakhs to more than INR 1 crore per year, with lifelong treatment, the cost of which increases as the patient ages.
- In addition to treatment, there are other associated overheads such as the cost of therapy, loss of caregiver jobs, and travel and special diets that need to be considered.
- The cost makes the treatment for rare diseases way beyond the paying capacity of an average Indian household.
Current Challenges in India
Challenges in research and development
- A fundamental challenge in research and development for the majority of rare
- diseases is that there is relatively little known about the pathophysiology or the natural history of these diseases.
- Rare diseases are difficult to research upon as the patient pool is very small and it often results in inadequate clinical experience. Therefore, the clinical explanation of rare diseases may be skewed or partial.
- The challenge becomes even greater as rare diseases are chronic in nature, where long term follow-up is particularly important.
- As a result, rare diseases lack published data on long-term treatment outcomes and are often incompletely characterised.
- This makes it necessary to explore international and regional collaborations for research, collaborations with the physicians who work on any rare disease and with patient groups and families dealing with the consequences of these disorders.
- This will help gain a better understanding of the pathophysiology of these diseases, and the therapeutic effects that would have a meaningful impact on the lives of patients.
- There is also a need to review and where possible modify, clinical trial norms keeping in mind the particular challenges in rare diseases, without compromising on the safety and quality of the drugs or diagnostic tools.
Challenges in treatment
Unavailability of treatment
- Availability and access to medicines are important to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with rare diseases.
- Despite progress in recent years, effective or safe treatment is not available for most of the rare diseases.
- Hence, even when a correct diagnosis is made, there may not be an available therapy to treat the rare disease.
- There are between 7000 - 8000 rare diseases, but less than 5% have therapies available to treat them.
- About 95% rare diseases have no approved treatment and less than 1 in 10 patients receive disease specific treatment.
- Where drugs are available, they are prohibitively expensive, placing immense strain on resources.
Prohibitive cost of treatment
- As the number of persons suffering from individual rare diseases is small, they do not constitute a significant market for drug manufacturers to develop and bring to market drugs for them.
- For this reason, rare diseases are also called ‘orphan diseases’and drugs to treat them are called “orphan drugs”.
- Where, they do make drugs to treat rare diseases, the prices are extremely high apparently to recoup the cost of research and development.
- At present very few pharmaceutical companies are manufacturing drugs for rare diseases globally and there are no domestic manufacturers in India except for Food for Special Medical Purposes(FSMP) for small molecule inborn errors of metabolism.
- Due to the high cost of most therapies, the government has not been able to provide these for free.
- It is estimated that for a child weighing 10 kg, the annual cost of treatment for some rare diseases, may vary from Rupees 10 Lakhs to more than 1 crore per year with treatment being lifelong and drug dose and cost increasing with age and weight.
- Countries have dealt with this unique problem of high cost through various means that were suited to their local needs. Instruments like the Orphan Drug Act (ODA) in US & Canada, provide incentives to drug manufacturers to encourage them to manufacture drugs for rare diseases.
- The economic incentives & safeguards offered under the Act ensure benefits to the local patients.
- However, the exorbitant prices of drugs for rare diseases has led to concerns even in the developed countries about maintaining sustainability of the rare diseases funding/reimbursement programmes.
- The exorbitant prices have led to calls for transparency in setting prices of drugs and for price control and have even prompted scrutiny and congressional inquiries.
The National policy for rare diseases 2021
- Ministry of Health and family Welfare, formulated a National Policy for Treatment of Rare Diseases (NPTRD) in July, 2017.
- Given the challenges in implementing the policy, the need for wider consultation and recommendations, a decision was taken to reframe the National Policy for Treatment of Rare Diseases.
- An Expert Committee was constituted by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in November, 2018 to review the NPTRD, 2017.
- After comments/suggestions received and recommendations of the same Expert Committee, the National Policy for Rare Diseases has been finalised.
The benefits of the Policy
- The Rare Diseases Policy will lower the high cost of treatment for rare diseases with increased focus on indigenous research with the help of a National Consortium to be set up with Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare as convenor.
- Increased focus of research and development and local production of medicines will lower the cost of treatment for rare diseases.
- The policy also envisage creation of a national hospital based registry of rare diseases so that adequate data is available for definition of rare diseases and for research and development related to rare diseases within the country.
- The Rare Diseases Policy aims to lower the high cost of treatment for rare diseases with increased focus on indigenous research with the help of a National Consortium to be set up with Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare as convenor. Increased focus of research and development and local production of medicines will lower the cost of treatment for rare diseases. The policy also envisage creation of a national hospital based registry of rare diseases so that adequate data is available for definition of rare diseases and for research and development related to rare diseases within the country.
- The Policy also focuses on early screening and prevention through primary and secondary health care infrastructure such as Health and Wellness Centres and District Early Intervention Centres (DEICs) and through counselling for the high-risk parents. Screening will also be supported by Nidan Kendras set up by Department of Biotechnology. Policy also aims to strengthen tertiary health care facilities for prevention and treatment of rare diseases through designating 8 health facilities as Centre of Excellence and these CoEs will also be provided one-time financial support of up to Rs 5 crores for upgradation of diagnostics facilities.
- A provision for financial support up to Rs. 20 lakhs under the Umbrella Scheme of Rastriya Arogya Nidhi is proposed for treatment, of those rare diseases that require a one-time treatment (diseases listed under Group 1 in the rare disease policy). Beneficiaries for such financial assistance would not be limited to BPL families, but the benefit will be extended to about 40% of the population, who are eligible under Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.
- Besides, the Policy also envisages a crowd funding mechanism in which corporates and individuals will be encouraged to extend financial support through a robust IT platform for treatment of rare diseases. Funds so collected will be utilized by Centres of Excellence for treatment of all three categories of rare diseases as first charge and then the balance financial resources could also be used for research.
GS Paper-2 India and its neighbourhood relations
India’s stand on Myanmar Violence
Why in News?
India said that it condemn any use of violence and believe that the rule of law should prevail. India stands for the restoration of democracy in Myanmar.
- India has urged the release of political prisoners and supported any attempts at resolving the current situation, including through the efforts of ASEAN.
- India’s subsequent behaviour indicated that it preferred to maintain communication links with the military junta.
India wants democratically elected government structure. India needs normalization of all pre-coup situation. India stands with Myanmar and doesn’t support coup.
India was treating the flow of displaced people from Myanmar as per Indian laws and humanitarian considerations an India is not signatory of UN refugee conventions.
GS Paper 3 Food Processing and related Industries
Millet based products
Why in News?
- The United Nations has declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets. India is fast catching up with the western world in millet consumption and Millet based products are set to gain acceptance.
- Role of international recognition of Millet based nutritional food products in increasing the numeration of Indian Farmers.
- India, Nigeria and China are the largest producers of millets in the world, accounting for more than 55% of the global production.
- For many years, India was a major producer of millets. In India, pearl millet is the fourth most widely cultivated food crop after rice, wheat and maize. It occupies an area of 6.93 million hectare with an average production of 8.61 million tonnes and productivity of 1,243 kg/ha during 2018-19.
- Food grain nutritional research in India- Challenges and Opportunities
- Millets are available almost across India. They need very little water for growing. The awareness of the benefits of millets is still low and this is the reason for lesser number of players working on value added millet products in India.
- However, there is increasing awareness in the coming years as many States will start supporting millet cultivation both on account of the benefits and the fact that they need less water.
- Foods and beverages are being made more nutritious for consumers through millets and multigrains. In a country such as India where there is a high incidence of diabetes, millets, being complex carbohydrates with low GI [glycemic index], are indeed wonder grains and there is a huge relevance in shifting consumers to millets and millet based products.
Domestic food grains nutritional value will be recognised. India has diversified food patterns. India enjoys remarkable variety of crops. With the popularity of millets, product based startups like some Indian Millet company as Quaker Oats will be popularised which will increase the international recognition. Therefore, domestic industries will be supported as demand of organic food will increase, cropping of various food items will also be motivated. This will cause spill over effect as agri-food startups will fulfil the demand which will inturn give demand to farmers and then their production will be increased.