Today’s News Updates – 4.January 2018

Bharat Biotech’s Typbar-TCV: WHO approves Indian typhoid vaccine for global use

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has given its pre-qualification to Typbar Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine (TVC) developed by Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech for global use. Typbar TCV is world’s first typhoid vaccine clinically proven to be administered to children from six months of age to adults, and confers long-term protection against typhoid fever. It has been evaluated in Human Challenge Studies at Oxford University.
The WHO pre-qualification enables procurement and supplies of this life-saving vaccine to UNICEF, Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) and GAVI (vaccine alliance) supported countries. This also paves the way for WHO member countries to introduce the Typbar TCV into their immunization programs.
Typhoid 
Typhoid fever is caused by bacterium Salmonella Typhi (S. Typhi). It infects humans due to contaminated food and beverages from sewage and other infected humans. Its symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea or constipation.

Source:timesnownews.com/health/article/who-approves-indian-typhoid-vaccine-for-global-use-bharat-biotechs-typbartcv-safe-for-infants/185045


CCEA approves construction of bi-directional Zojila Tunnel in J&K

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved construction, operation and maintenance of 2-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel on Srinagar-Leh section connecting NH-1A in Jammu and Kashmir The strategic tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity to strategically important Leh region.
The Zojila Tunnel will be situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway (NH-1A). The Project aims at construction of 14.150 km long 2-lane bidirectional single tube tunnel with a parallel 14.200 km long egress (escape) tunnel excluding approaches between Baltal & Minamarg in J&K at estimated cost of Rs 6,089 crore.
The construction of this tunnel will provide all weather safe, fast and cheap connectivity connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh. It will bring about all round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions.

Source: thehindu.com/news/national/ccea-approves-over-6800-cr-zojila-tunnel-project/article22360209.ece


CCEA approves implementation of Jal Marg Vikas Project on NW-1

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved implementation of Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) for capacity augmentation of navigation on 1,380-km Haldia-Varanasi stretch of National Waterway-1 (NW1) on Ganga River.

Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) 
JMVP was announced by Government in 2014-15 Budget to enable commercial navigation of at least 1500 tonne vessels on the Ganga river. The project envisages the development of waterway between Allahabad and Haldia on Ganga River that will cover a distance of 1620 km.

The project covers Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. The major districts under its ambit are Varanasi, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chhapra, Buxar,Patna, Vaishali, Khagaria, Begusarai, Munger, Bhagalpur, Sahibganj, Murshidabad, Pakur, Hooghly and Kolkata.
Development and operations of NW1 will provide alternative mode of environment friendly and cost effective transport mode.The project will contribute in bringing down the logistics cost in the country and reduce traffic burden and congestion on roads and railways.

Source: pib.nic.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1515177

 

“Bomb Cyclone”

A massive winter storm called a “bomb cyclone” is hammering the eastern coast of the US, bringing snow, ice, flooding, and strong winds.

What is a Bomb cyclone?

The term is used by meteorologists to indicate a mid-latitude cyclone that intensifies rapidly. A bomb cyclone happens when atmospheric pressure in the middle of the storm drops at least 24 millibars over 24 hours, quickly increasing in intensity. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.

How it works?

Deep drops in barometric pressure occur when a region of warm air meets one of cold air. The air starts to move and the rotation of the earth creates a cyclonic effect. The direction is counterclockwise in the Northern hemisphere leading to winds that come out of the northeast.


What’s the difference between hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons?

Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are all tropical storms. They are all the same thing but are given different names depending on where they appear. When they reach populated areas they usually bring very strong wind and rain which can cause a lot of damage.
Hurricanes are tropical storms that form over the North Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific. Cyclones are formed over the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. Typhoons are formed over the Northwest Pacific Ocean.


Swine flu

The Rajasthan government has sounded an alert in the State after more than 400 people were diagnosed positive for the swine flu virus. Nearly 11,721 people were tested for swine flu between January 1, 2017 to December 19, 2017, of which 3,214 were confirmed positive.
Swine Flu:

What is it? Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. H1N1 is a flu virus. When it was first detected in 2009, it was called “swine flu” because the virus was similar to those found in pigs.

Transmission from Pigs to Humans: The H1N1 virus is currently a seasonal flu virus found in humans. Although it also circulates in pigs, one cannot get it by eating properly handled and cooked pork or pork products.

Pandemic: In 2009, H1N1 was spreading fast around the world, so the World Health Organization called it a pandemic.

Spread: 
Swine flu is contagious, and it spreads in the same way as the seasonal flu. When people who have it cough or sneeze, they spray tiny drops of the virus into the air. If a person comes in contact with these drops or touch a surface that an infected person has recently touched, the person can catch H1N1 swine flu.
Pregnant women who contract the H1N1 infection are at a greater risk of developing complications because of hormonal changes, physical changes and changes to their immune system to accommodate the growing foetus.


Typbar TCV

What is it? It is a Typhoid conjugate vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech Ltd (BBL).

Why in news? The World Health Organisation (WHO) has pre-qualified its typhoid conjugate vaccine. The new vaccine was found to have given a longer immunity from typhoid than older vaccines and it required fewer doses for childhood immunisation.

What does this mean? The pre-qualification by WHO allows for the sale of the vaccines to UN agencies such as UNICEF and GAVI.

About the vaccine:

Typbar TCV is reportedly the world’s first typhoid vaccine clinically proven for use on recipients who can be as young as six months. A single dose offers 87% protective efficacy against typhoid.
About Typhoid:
Typhoid fever is caused by food and water contaminated by Salmonella Typhi (S. Typhi) bacteria. The symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, constipation and sometimes diarrhoea. According to the World Health Organisation, typhoid affects about 21 million people per year and kills around 222,000.

Facts for Prelims:

What is GAVI? Created in 2000, Gavi is an international organisation – a global Vaccine Alliance, bringing together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries. Gavi brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists.


 

Official languages of the UN

India is pushing forward its proposal to include Hindi as one of the official languages of the United Nations. The ministry of external affairs [MEA] is currently reviewing a draft advocacy paper to present the Indian case with regard to introducing Hindi in the UN.

Procedure for language to be recognised as an official one of UN:

The procedure for getting any language recognized as one of the Official Languages of the UN involves obtaining approval of the General Assembly. Such a proposal has to be approved by more than half of the members of the General Assembly where every member-State has a vote. In addition, recognizing any language as the official language of the UN entails a substantial increase in the expenditure of the UN necessitating an enhanced contribution by every member country, which is why most of the members remain reluctant to support such a proposal.
Need for recognition:

According to the estimates around 340 million to 500 million speak, and as many as 800 million people understand Hindi language. Outside India there are countries like Nepal South Africa, Mauritius, the United Kingdom, the United States, Yemen, and Uganda where a significant number people speak Hindi. Also, the government believes that at a time when Indian economy is shining and the country is emerging as next global power it is the best time for the country to promote its national language and get it recognised as an official language of United Nations.


Official languages of the UN:

There are six official languages of the UN. These are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. These languages are used at meetings of various UN organs, particularly the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and the Security Council.

Each representative of a country may speak in any one of these six languages, or may speak in any language and provide interpretation into one of the six official languages. The UN provides simultaneous interpretation from the official language into the other five official languages, via the United Nations Interpretation Service.
The six official languages are also used for the dissemination of official documents. Until a document is available in all six official languages, it is not published. Generally, the texts in each of the six languages are equally authoritative.
The six official languages spoken at the UN are the first or second language of 2.8 billion people on the planet, less than half of the world population. The six languages are official languages in more than half the nations in the world.
Multilingualism and the UN:

Multilingualism enables communication between the UN’s linguistically and culturally diverse Member States within the meeting rooms and halls of the UN. By promoting tolerance, multilingualism also ensures increased participation of all Member States in the Organization’s work, as well as greater effectiveness, better outcomes and more involvement.

What’s India doing in this regard?

India has already started diplomatic efforts to promote Hindi at international level and to gain the support of other countries. The MEA has set up the World Hindi Secretariat in Mauritius along with the ministry of external affairs has prepared Hindi-Chinese, Hindi-Arabic, Hindi-French, and Hindi-Spanish dictionaries to promote Hindi. A consolidated Hindi-based dictionary of UN languages is also under compilation.


NABARD Bill

The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Amendment) Bill, 2017, was recently passed by voice vote in the Rajya Sabha. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in August, 2017.

Highlights of the Bill:

The Bill seeks to amend the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Act, 1981.

Increase in capital of NABARD: Under the 1981 Act, NABARD may have a capital of Rs 100 crore. This capital can be further increased to Rs 5,000 crore by the central government in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The Bill allows the central government to increase this capital to Rs 30,000 crore. The capital may be increased to more than Rs 30,000 crore by the central government in consultation with the RBI, if necessary.

Transfer of the RBI’s share to the central government: Under the 1981 Act, the central government and the RBI together must hold at least 51% of the share capital of NABARD. The Bill provides that the central government alone must hold at least 51% of the share capital of NABARD. The Bill transfers the share capital held by the RBI and valued at Rs 20 crore to the central government. The central government will give an equal amount to the RBI.

Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME): The Bill replaces the terms ‘small-scale industry’ and ‘industry in the tiny and decentralised sector’ with the terms ‘micro enterprise’, ‘small enterprise’ and ‘medium enterprise’ as defined in the MSME Development Act, 2006. Under the 1981 Act, NABARD was responsible for providing credit and other facilities to industries having an investment of upto Rs 20 lakh in machinery and plant. The Bill extends this to apply to enterprises with investment upto Rs 10 crore in the manufacturing sector and Rs five crore in the services sector.

Under the 1981 Act, experts from small-scale industries are included in the Board of Directors and the Advisory Council of NABARD. Further, banks providing loans to small-scale, tiny and decentralised sector industries are eligible to receive financial assistance from NABARD. The Bill extends these provisions to the micro, small, and medium enterprises.

Consistency with the Companies Act, 2013: The Bill substitutes references to provisions of the Companies Act, 1956 under the NABARD Act, 1981, with references to the Companies Act, 2013. These include provisions that deal with: (i) definition of a government company, and (ii) qualifications of auditors.

Nabard:

It is an apex development and specialized bank established on 12 July 1982 by an act by the parliament of India. Its main focus is to uplift rural India by increasing the credit flow for elevation of agriculture & rural non farm sector.

It was established based on the recommendations of the Committee set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) under the chairmanship of Shri B. shivaraman. It replaced the Agricultural Credit Department (ACD) and Rural Planning and Credit Cell (RPCC) of Reserve Bank of India, and Agricultural Refinance and Development Corporation (ARDC).

It has been accredited with “matters concerning policy, planning and operations in the field of credit for agriculture and other economic activities in rural areas in India”.

Zojila Pass tunnel

The Union Cabinet has approved the construction of Asia’s longest bi-directional Zojila Pass tunnel at an estimated cost of Rs 6,089 crore.

About the Zojila pass tunnel:

What is it? It is a 14.2-km long tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir to provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh, which remains cut-off from the rest of India during winters due to heavy snowfall. “Zojila tunnel will be the longest bi-directional tunnel in Asia.

Implementation: The project will be implemented by the ministry of road transport and highways (MoRT&H) through the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL).

Benefits of the tunnel: The project would enhance the safety of travellers crossing Zojila Pass and reduce the travel time from 3.5 hours to 15 minutes. This pass is most strategic for the entire Kargil sector which has seen intrusion and war in the past. It will further increase the employment potential for the local labourers for the project activities.

Facts for Prelims: Zojila pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway which remains closed during winters (December to April) due to heavy snowfall and avalanches cutting off Leh-Ladakh region from Kashmir.

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