Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- POSHAN Abhiyan
- Indo – US Cooperation on Agriculture
- Facts for Prelims
1 . UNESCO
Context: The UN cultural and scientific agency UNESCO announced that the U.S. plans to rejoin — and pay more than $600 million in back dues — after a decade-long dispute sparked by the organization’s move to include Palestine as a member.
The Dispute and Efforts for Reconciliation
- The U.S. and Israel stopped funding UNESCO after it voted to include Palestine as a member state in 2011, and both countries lost their voting rights in 2013.
- The Trump administration decided in 2017 to withdraw from the agency altogether the following year, citing anti-Israel bias and management problems.
- However, in recent years, UNESCO, under the leadership of Audrey Azoulay, has made efforts to address the reasons for the U.S. departure.
- The U.S. decision to rejoin UNESCO is the result of five years of work, focusing on calming tensions, improving response to challenges, and modernizing the organization’s functioning.
- The United States previously pulled out of UNESCO under the Reagan administration in 1984 because it viewed the agency as mismanaged, corrupt and used to advance Soviet interests. It rejoined in 2003.
What is the current situation?
- The United States has announced its plans to rejoin the United Nations cultural and scientific agency, UNESCO, after a decade-long dispute sparked by the inclusion of Palestine as a member.
- The decision, driven by concerns over China’s increasing influence in setting global standards for artificial intelligence and technology education.
- The United States is expected to face a vote by the organization’s 193 member states next month.
- UNESCO diplomats express confidence that the U.S. decision to return is for the long term, irrespective of the outcome of the upcoming presidential election.
What is the significance of the US rejoining with UNESCO?
- UNESCO faced financial uncertainty during the U.S. absence, leading to budget cuts across various programs.
- The return of the U.S., along with the payment of over $600 million in back dues, is a significant financial boost for UNESCO’s initiatives, including the renowned World Heritage program, climate change efforts, and educational projects for girls.
- The return of the United States is expected to energize UNESCO’s programs, particularly in regulating artificial intelligence, promoting girls’ education in Afghanistan, and documenting victims of slavery in the Caribbean.
About UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was born on 16 November 1945. UNESCO originally rebuilt schools, libraries, and museums destroyed in Europe during World War II.
- UNESCO has 195 Members and 8 Associate Members and is governed by the General Conference and the Executive Board. The Secretariat, headed by the Director-General, implements the decisions of these two bodies.
- Countries are divided into five regional groups: Africa; Arab states; Asia and the Pacific; Europe and North America; and Latin America. In each of these regions, the agency establishes programs and activities that are specific to the needs of their location.
- UNESCO’s programs are divided into five major sectors: Education; Natural Sciences; Social and Human Sciences; Culture; and Communications and Information.
- The Organization has more than 50 field offices around the world and its headquarters are located in Paris.
- UNESCO is a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group, a coalition of UN agencies and organizations aimed at fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals.
- UNESCO’s mission is to contribute to the building of a culture of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and Intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.
- Attaining quality education for all and lifelong learning
- Mobilizing science knowledge and policy for sustainable development
- Addressing emerging social and ethical challenges
- Fostering cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace
- Building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication
2 . POSHAN Abhiyan
Context: More than 57,000 migrant workers have registered for the One Nation, One Anganwadi programme under which even if people relocate to another State, they can receive benefits given by the government to children under six years of age and pregnant and lactating women. Ministry of Women and Child Development said that this is possible through coordination between the Centre and the State governments by using the Poshan Tracker App on mobile phones.
About POSHAN Abhiyaan
- India’s National Nutrition Mission was renamed as POSHAN Abhiyaan (Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition) and was launched by the Government of India on 8th March 2018.
- As a flagship programme, POSHAN Abhiyaan aims to improve nutrition amongst children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers with specific targets on reducing stunting, anemia, under-nutrition and low birth weight.
- POSHAN Abhiyaan focuses on converting the agenda of improving nutrition through a Jan Andolan involving the Panchayati Raj Institutions/Village Organizations/SHGs etc. and ensuring wide public participation.
- Prevent and reduce Stunting in children (0- 6 years)
- Prevent and reduce under-nutrition (underweight prevalence) in children (0-6 years)
- Reduce the prevalence of anemia among young Children(6-59 months)
- Reduce the prevalence of anemia among Women and Adolescent Girls in the age group of 15-49 years
- Reduce Low Birth Weight (LBW)
Pillars of the POSHAN Abhiyaan–
- The seven pillars of POSHAN Abhiyaan are the ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme)-CAS (Common Application Software) usage to meet the objectives of the ICDS scheme, Capacity building exercises, Convergence between health and nutrition schemes, Innovations, Incentivising States and union territories, Behaviour change, IEC and Advocacy and Grievance redressal.
- POSHAN Abhiyaan aims to reduce stunting, undernutrition and low birth weight by 2% annually and anemia by 3% annually.
Activities under POSHAN Abhiyaan
- These are activities planned to mobilize the nutrition officers, field staff and community through various activities throughout the year. Some of these include:
- POSHAN Maah: The Month of September is celebrated as POSHAN Maah across the country to ensure community mobilization and bolster people’s participation in improving the nutritional status of the community.
- POSHAN Pakhwada: POSHAN pakhwada emphasises on identification and celebration of healthy child, and integration of modern and traditional practices for a healthy India within the thematic areas around POSHAN MITRA (Modern, IT-based, Traditional and Regional Activities). It is held every year in the month of March for a fortnight.
- POSHAN Vatika: POSHAN Vatika or Nutrition Gardens encourages the community to local, seasonal produce for use by the community. The main objective of POSHAN Vatika is to ensure supply of nutrition through organically grown vegetables and fruits, to improve and create awareness about diet diversity in the community and provide different food groups to malnourished children, simultaneously ensuring that the soil remains healthy.
About POSHAN Tracker App
- The Poshan Tracker enables real-time monitoring and tracking of all AWCs and beneficiaries on defined indicators. It is built using centralized data architecture that also aligns with the digital technology systems of other ministries and programs.
- The objective is to provide a 360-degree view of the activities of the Anganwadi Centre (AWC), service deliveries of Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) and complete beneficiary management for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children.
- The public dashboard helps to impart transparency on services delivered to beneficiaries.
- It is a critical and beneficiary-centric service delivery Application under POSHAN Abhiyaan which will promote real time data with analytics.
3 . Indo-US cooperation in agriculture
Context: The Soviet Union’s role in independent India’s early industrialization through supply of capital equipment and technology is well-known. Not as widely known is the part that the United States, and the likes of Rockefeller and Ford Foundation, played in India’s agricultural development during the 1950s and 1960s. A brief history of this involvement is useful in the context of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to the US for strengthening the “global strategic partnership” between the two countries.
Indo – US Cooperation in Agriculture
Contribution to the establishment of Agriculture Universities
- India’s First Agriculture University was first established based on a ‘Blueprint for a Rural University in India’ prepared by H.W. Hannah, Associate Dean of the University of Illinois.
- India’s first Agriculture University, the UP Agricultural University (later renamed as G.B. Pant University of Agriculture & Technology) was inaugurated by the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on November 17, 1960.
- It was based on the US land-grant model agricultural university – which integrated teaching, research and extension. These institutions, set up on public land, engaged in agricultural education as well as research and extension activity. This was unlike the agricultural and veterinary colleges in India that merely taught and produced graduates. Research and extension was largely left to the state agricultural departments.
- Relationship with US- Land Grant Universities- Hannah’s blueprint was published by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and circulated to interested state governments. It led to as many as eight agricultural universities coming up within eight years, mostly at the initiative of the chief ministers themselves.
- All the eight universities received the US Agency for International Development’s assistance for training of faculty and provision of equipment and books.
- Each was further linked to a US land-grant institution , whose specialists were involved in curriculum design and putting in place research and extension systems in the new universities.
US Contribution in the Green Revolution’s Seeds
- Issues in traditional Seeds– Traditional wheat and rice varieties were tall and slender. They grew vertically on application of fertilizers and water, while “lodging” (bending over or even falling) when their ear-heads were heavy with well-filled grains. The Green Revolution entailed breeding semi-dwarf varieties with strong stems that didn’t lodge. These could “tolerate” high fertilizer application. The more the inputs (nutrients and water), the more the output (grain) produced.
- Introduction of New seed variety- In 1949, an American biologist S.C. Salmon stationed in Japan – under US occupation after World War II – identified a wheat variety. Called ‘Norin-10’, its plants grew to only 2-2.5 feet, as against the 4.5-5 feet height of traditional tall varieties. By 1960-61, many varieties incorporating the Norin-10 dwarfing genes in a spring wheat background were released.
- Vogel shared the seeds of Norin-10 and his original crosses with Norman Borlaug, working with the Rockefeller Foundation in Mexico. Borlaug, in turn, crossed these with the spring wheats grown in Mexico
- Swaminathan got in touch with Borlaug, who came to India only in March 1963, following a request placed to the Rockefeller Foundation. He sent the seeds of four Mexican wheat varieties bred by him, which were first sown in the trial fields of IARI and the new agricultural universities at Pantnagar and Ludhiana. By 1966-67, farmers were planting these in large scale and India, from being an importer, turned self-sufficient in wheat.
Why did the US help India?
- Cold War geopolitics and great-power rivalry of those times made the US so much interested in India’s agricultural development the way the Soviet Union promoted its industrialization
- For example- idea of an MSP – “a guaranteed minimum price announced in advance of the planting season” and “a market within bullock-cart distance that will pay…when the cultivator has to sell” – was first pushed by a Ford Foundation team’s report of 1959
- US help to India resulted in competition to do-good, extending to “fighting world hunger” and sharing of knowledge and plant genetic material that were viewed as “global public goods”.
4 . Facts for Prelims
- UMANG (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance) is developed by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and National e-Governance Division (NeGD) to drive Mobile Governance in India.
- UMANG provides a single platform for all Indian Citizens to access pan India e-Gov services ranging from Central to Local Government bodies.
- It is a component of the Digital India initiative, intending to make government services available to the general public online and around the clock
- CERT-In is the national nodal agency for responding to computer security incidents as and when they occur.
- CERT-In is operational since January 2004. The constituency of CERT-In is the Indian Cyber Community.
- CERT-In has been designated to serve as the national agency to perform the following functions in the area of cyber security:
- Collection, analysis and dissemination of information on cyber incidents.
- Forecast and alerts of cyber security incidents
- Emergency measures for handling cyber security incidents
- Coordination of cyber incident response activities.
- Issue guidelines, advisories, vulnerability notes and whitepapers relating to information security practices, procedures, prevention, response and reporting of cyber incidents.
- Such other functions relating to cyber security as may be prescribed.
Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)
- An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is a ballistic missile with a range greater than 5,500 kilometres (3,400 mi), primarily designed for nuclear weapons delivery. Conventional, chemical, and biological weapons can also be delivered with varying effectiveness, but have never been deployed on ICBMs. Russia, the United States, China, France, India, the United Kingdom, Israel, and North Korea are the only countries known to have operational ICBMs.
- Agni V- Agni-V is a land based nuclear capable intercontinental ballistic missile ICBM developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India. The Agni-V, a three-stage solid fueled missile, has an approximate range of 5,500-5,800 kilometers [the exact range remains classified, but it is assumed that the missile has a range of 6,000-7,500 kilometers], and can carry a 1,500-kilogram (3,300-pound) nuclear warhead. India has reportedly also been working on multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV) for the Agni-V in order to ensure a credible second-strike capability
- Agni VI- Agni-VI is an MIRV-capable intercontinental ballistic missile under development by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Indian Armed Forces. Agni-VI will be a four-stage intercontinental ballistic missile, which is in the hardware development phase, after its design phase was completed. The Agni VI programme is already on track and DRDO is simultaneously working on SLBM variant.
- Betelgeuse is a red supergiant star of spectral type M1-2 and one of the largest visible to the naked eye.
- It is usually the tenth-brightest star in the night sky and, after Rigel, the second-brightest in the constellation of Orion.
- It is a variable star and usually has an apparent magnitude of about 0.6. Starting in October 2019, Betelgeuse began to dim noticeably, and by mid-February 2020 its brightness had dropped by a factor of approximately 3, from magnitude 0.5 to 1.7. It then returned to a more normal brightness range, reaching a peak of 0.0 visual and 0.1 V-band magnitude in April 2023.
- Infrared observations found no significant change in luminosity over the last 50 years, suggesting that the dimming was due to a change in extinction around the star rather than a more fundamental change.
- A study using the Hubble Space Telescope suggests that occluding dust was created by a surface mass ejection. This cast material millions of miles from the star that then cooled to form the dust that caused the star’s dimming.
- Svalbard Mission is the ISRO and Norway mission to send the Rohini RH-300 Mk-II sounding rocket.
- It was On November 20, 1997, a Rohini RH-300 Mk-II sounding rocket rose to the skies from Svalbard, Norway, operationalising a new rocket launching range there.
- The RH-300 Mk-II was part of the Rohini family of sounding rockets developed by ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram.
- Devaki Nambisan was one of the key figures in the 1950s movement against barring Nair women from participating in a temple ritual wearing blouses.
- The 1956 agitation, later known as ‘Velur maaru marakkal samaram (Velur breast-covering protest), was a movement against a custom that prevented Nair women from covering their breasts while taking part in certain rituals during the annual temple festival at Manimalarkavu Temple near Velur.
- At the time, while Nair women were allowed to participate in the temple rituals topless, Dalit women were not even allowed to take part in the ceremony.
- Devaki and other leaders persuaded Dalit women to take part in the ritual wearing blouses while the Nair women attended the ceremony without covering their breasts.
- Though Devaki couldn’t participate in the festival in 1956, she was one of the leaders who played a key role in uniting the women who participated in the temple ritual covering their breasts to defy the existing system.
- The movement was successful as temple authorities thereafter allowed Dalit women to perform the rituals, besides putting an end to the practice of women being barred from wearing blouses during the rituals.