Daily Current Affairs: 16th October 2021

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics covered

  1. Tuberculosis
  2. Ordnance Factory Board Dissolved
  3. Global Hunger Index
  4. Stubble Burning
  5. Climate action and finance mobilization dialogue
  6. Facts for Prelims
  7. Places in news

1. Tuberculosis

Context : The COVID-19 pandemic has reversed years of global progress in tackling tuberculosis and for the first time in over a decade, TB deaths have increased, according to the 2021 Global TB report released recently by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Global TB report 2021 – Key Points

  • India (41%) along with Indonesia (14%), the Philippines (12%), China (8%) and 12 other countries accounted for 93% of the total global drop in TB notifications.
  • The WHO estimated that some 4.1 million people currently suffer from TB but had not been diagnosed with the disease or had not officially reported to national authorities. This figure is up from 2.9 million in 2019.
  • There was also a reduction in provision of TB preventive treatment. About 2.8 million people accessed this in 2020, a 21% reduction since 2019.
  • It explained that the first challenge was disruption in access to TB services and a reduction in resources. In many countries, human, financial and other resources had been reallocated from tackling TB to the COVID-19 response, limiting the availability of essential services. The second was that people had struggled to seek care in the context of lockdowns.

About Tuberculosis

  • Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable.
  • TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
  • About one-quarter of the world’s population has a TB infection, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit it.
  • Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is among the health targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Symptoms and diagnosis

  • Common symptoms of active lung TB are cough with sputum and blood at times, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.
  • WHO recommends the use of rapid molecular diagnostic tests as the initial diagnostic test in all persons with signs and symptoms of TB as they have high diagnostic accuracy and will lead to major improvements in the early detection of TB and drug-resistant TB.
  • Rapid tests recommended by WHO are the Xpert MTB/RIF Ultra and Truenat assays.
  • Tuberculosis is particularly difficult to diagnose in children.


  • Drug resistance emerges when anti-TB medicines are used inappropriately, through incorrect prescription by health care providers, poor quality drugs, and patients stopping treatment prematurely.
  • Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a form of TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to isoniazid and rifampicin, the 2 most powerful, first-line anti-TB drugs. MDR-TB is treatable and curable by using second-line drugs.
  • However, second-line treatment options are limited and require extensive chemotherapy (up to 2 years of treatment) with medicines that are expensive and toxic.
  • Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) is a more serious form of MDR-TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to the most effective second-line anti-TB drugs, often leaving patients without any further treatment options.

Government Initiatives

  • Universal drug susceptibility testing has been rolled out, shorter and newer treatment regimen has been expanded countrywide. India is moving towards an injection free regimen.
  • Private sector engagement has been elevated as one of the highest priorities with strengthened regulatory measures, collaborative incentives and scale up of successful Patient Provider Support Agency (PPSA) interventions which led to a 35% increase in TB notification from the private sector.
  • The Nikshay Poshan Yojana has benefited 15 lakh TB patients for nutrition support with Rs. 240 cores disbursed as DBT since April 2018.
  • A comprehensive call centre for information, addressing grievance, patient linkages and provider relationship has been established.
  • Institutional system of award for TB free status has been introduced to generate federal competitiveness, motivate and to bring about proactive actions from States and Districts.
  • TB forums at various levels in the states have been formed to remove stigma and to create awareness about the symptoms of the disease and the free treatment available at the government health facilities.
  • 1180 CBNAAT labs have been made operational throughout the country, along with 4 lakh treatment support centres at the village level.
  • These efforts have resulted in increase from 25% to 83% in the treatment success rates (2017-2018), and the TB prevalence rates have come down from 29% to 4%. 

2. Ordnance Factory Board

Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated seven new state-run defence firms replacing the Ordnance Factory Board and said that a single-window system has been put in place instead of stagnant policies to develop India as a major producer of defence equipment.

About Ordnance Factory Board (OFB)

  • Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), consisting of the Indian Ordnance Factories, now known as Directorate of Ordnance (Coordination & Services) is an organization, under the Department of Defence Production (DDP) of Ministry of Defence (MoD), Government of India.
  • Ordnance Factory Board predates all the other organisations like the Indian Army and the Indian Railways by over a century.
  • The first Indian ordnance factory can trace its origins back to the year 1712 when the Dutch Ostend Company established a Gun Powder Factory in Ichhapur.
  • OFB was the 37th-largest defence equipment manufacturer in the world, 2nd-largest in Asia, and the largest in India.
  • OFB was the world’s largest government-operated production organisation, and the oldest organisation in India.
  • It was engaged in research, development, production, testing, marketing and logistics of a product range in the areas of air, land and sea systems.
  • OFB consisted of forty-one ordnance factories, nine training institutes, three regional marketing centres and four regional controllerates of safety, which are spread all across the country
  • The 41 Indian Ordnance Factories have been converted into 7 Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs).

New Companies

  • Armoured Vehicles Nigam Limited (AVANI) : The five units of AVNL include — Heavy Vehicles Factory, Engine Factory, Ordnance Factory, Vehicle Factory and Machine Tool Prototype Factory. The main products of AVNL include battle tanks, Infantry combat vehicles, military mobility solutions, engines and other accessories.
  • Munitions India Limited (MIL) : Munitions India primarily manufactures ammunition, explosives, rocket launchers and bombs.
  • Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited (AWE India) : It manufactures small arms and weapons for the police and armed forces
  • Troop Comforts Limited (TCL) : It is involved in manufacture of Life Cycle Clothing (LCC), Extreme Cold Climate Items (ECC), Special Clothing & Mountaineering Equipment (SCME), Supply Drop Equipment (SDE), Water Storage Equipment, Covers, Tentages, Leather Items, Arrester Barrier, General Stores, etc for Defence Services and Civil Sector
  • Yantra India Limited (YIL) : YIL manufactures components like shells of various of ammunition ranging from small caliber weapons to that for artillery and armoured. One of the main items include the Pinaka rockets, shells for 155mm Bofors guns, 130 mm artillery guns and tanks
  • Gliders India Limited (GIL) : Gliders India Limited is a prime parachute manufacturer for the Indian government and military, providing soldiers and airmen with quality parachutes
  • India Optel Limited (IOL) :  Entrusted with a responsibility to give renewed thrust to expand Electro-Optical solutions 

Reason for Restructuring

  • Inefficiencies in production and delays, thus, can be deemed to be a primary reason behind the overhaul of OFB.

3. Global Hunger Index

Context The Government of India challenged India’s poor ranking in the the Global Hunger Index 2021 and the methodology used calling it “devoid of ground reality and facts”. It is the FAO report used for assessing undernourishment that the Government has questioned. The Government has questioned the poll-based assessment that “has increased the value of ‘proportion of population undernourished’ from 14.0% for the previous period 2017-19 to 15.3% for the latest period 2018-20,” This is also the only indicator in the report that has shown deterioration in India, the other three either show an improvement or have remained unchanged.

About Global Hunger Index

  • Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels.
  • GHI scores are calculated each year to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger.
  • The GHI is designed to raise awareness and understanding of the struggle against hunger, provide a way to compare levels of hunger between countries and regions, and call attention to those areas of the world where hunger levels are highest and where the need for additional efforts to eliminate hunger is greatest.
  • A low score gets a country a higher ranking and implies a better performance. Each country’s GHI score is classified by severity, from low to extremely alarming.
  • The reason for mapping hunger is to ensure that the world achieves “Zero Hunger by 2030” — one of the Sustainable Development Goals laid out by the United Nations. It is for this reason that GHI scores are not calculated for certain high-income countries.
  • The report, prepared jointly by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organisation Welt Hunger Hilfe termed the level of hunger in India serious

India’s Rank

  • India has slipped to 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 of 116 countries, from its 2020 position of 94th and is behind its neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
  • The share of wasting among children in India rose from 17.1 per cent between 1998-2002 to 17.3 per cent between 2016-2020, according to the report.
  • India has shown improvement in other indicators such as the under-5 mortality rate, prevalence of stunting among children and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food
  • Eighteen countries, including China, Brazil and Kuwait, shared the top rank with GHI score of less than five.

How GHI Scores are Calculated

  • GHI scores are calculated using a three-step process that draws on available data from various sources to capture the multidimensional nature of hunger

First Step – For each country, values are determined for four indicators:

  1. UNDERNOURISHMENT: the share of the population that is undernourished (that is, whose caloric intake is insufficient);
  2. CHILD WASTING: the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (that is, who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition);
  3. CHILD STUNTING: the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (that is, who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and
  4. CHILD MORTALITY: the mortality rate of children under the age of five (in part, a reflection of the fatal mix of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments

Second Step – Each of the four component indicators is given a standardized score on a 100-point scale based on the highest observed level for the indicator on a global scale in recent decades.

Third Step – Standardized scores are aggregated to calculate the GHI score for each country, with each of the three dimensions (inadequate food supply; child mortality; and child undernutrition, which is composed equally of child stunting and child wasting) given equal weight

This three-step process results in GHI scores on a 100-point GHI Severity Scale, where 0 is the best score (no hunger) and 100 is the worst. The GHI Severity Scale shows the severity of hunger – from low to extremely alarming – associated with the range of possible GHI scores

Source of Data

  • Undernourishment data are provided by the Food and Agriculture Organisation
  • Child mortality data are sourced from the U.N. Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME).
  • Child wasting and stunting data are drawn from the joint database of UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank, among others.

Criticisms raised by India

  • According to the govt the methodology used by FAO is unscientific. They have based their assessment on the results of a ‘four question’ opinion poll, which was conducted telephonically
  • The Government has questioned the poll-based assessment that “has increased the value of ‘proportion of population undernourished’ from 14.0% for the previous period 2017-19 to 15.3% for the latest period 2018-20,”
  • According to the FAO report, prevalence of undernourishment in a population is calculated in a very scientific manner that includes habitual dietary energy intake levels, information on the population structure and median height in each sex and age.

4. Stubble Burning

Context: There is a 70% reduction so far in instances of stubble burning in Punjab and 18% in Haryana from last year, according to a report by the Commission for Air Quality Management. Paddy residue burning incidents have dropped by 69.49 per cent in Punjab, 18.28 per cent in Haryana and 47.61 per cent in the eight NCR districts of Uttar Pradesh in the one-month period beginning September 15 from the same period last year.

About stubble burning

  • Stubble (parali) burning is intentionally setting fire to the straw stubble that remains after grains, like paddy, wheat, etc., have been harvested.
  • Stubble burning is, quite simply, the act of removing paddy crop residue from the field to sow wheat. It’s usually required in areas that use the ‘combine harvesting’ method which leaves crop residue behind.
  • Combines are machines that harvest, thresh i.e separate the grain, and also clean the separated grain, all at once. The problem, however, is that the machine doesn’t cut close enough to the ground, leaving stubble behind that the farmer has no use for. There is pressure on the farmer to sow the next crop in time for it to achieve a full yield. The quickest and cheapest solution, therefore, is to clear the field by burning the stubble.
  • Stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana is a major reason behind Delhi’s worsening air quality.
  • The period from October 15- November 15 is when stubble burning instances spike because paddy crops are harvested during this period and the residue left behind is to be cleared for sowing wheat.

Effects of stubble burning

  • It is a significant source of gaseous pollutants such as, carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), and methane (CH4) as well as particulate matters (PM10 and PM2.5) causing serious damage to human health and the environment.
  • The situation is more austere in India due to the intensive rice-wheat rotation system which generates large amount of stubble.
  • The health effects of air pollution ranges from skin and eyes irritation to severe neurological, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, lung capacity loss, emphysema, cancer, etc.
  • It also leads to an increase in mortality rates due to the prolonged exposure to high pollution.
  • In addition to its effects on air quality, stubble burning also affects soil fertility (through the destruction of its nutrients), economic development and climate.

Alternate uses

  • The crop stubbles (if managed properly) could provide immense economic benefits to the farmers and protect the environment from the severe pollution.
  • Some of the alternative management practices include the incorporation of the stubble into the soil, use of stubble as fuel in power plants, use as raw material for pulp and paper industries, or as biomass for biofuel production.
  • It can also be used to generate compost and biochar, or as blend for the production of cement and bricks.
  • Most of the farmers in North India are not aware of the prolific alternatives for managing stubble and, therefore, consider burning as the best option. This necessitates the need for immense awareness programs to enlighten the farmers about the availability of economically feasible options and the composite effects of stubble burning.

Reasons for Reduction this year

  • A reduction in the area under paddy cultivation in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, as well as a shift away from paddy varieties that take long to mature are few reasons  
  • Other preventive intervention includes higher use of crop residue removal machines, mandatory
    use of straw in NTPC power plants as supplementary fuel, creating straw-based animal feed for
    Kutch and Jaisalmer, use of biological decomposition technology, better enforcement and
    awareness on the prevention of farm fires and cleaning up of the cities

5. Climate action and finance mobilization dialogue

Context: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met on Thursday for the eighth ministerial meeting of the U.S.-India Economic and Financial partnership. The ministerial held a session dedicated to climate finance for the first time, as per a joint statement. In the run-up to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow at the end of the month, India has been pushing for rich countries to meet their Paris Accord climate finance commitment of $100 billion per year. 

About Climate action and finance mobilization dialogue

  • The CAFMD is one of the two tracks of the India-U.S. Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 partnership launched at the Leaders’ Summit on Climate in April 2021, by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and US President Mr. Joseph Biden.

India-U.S Climate and Clean Energy Agenda partnership 2030

  • India and the United States launched the “India-US Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership.
  • Led by Prime Minister Modi and President Biden, the Partnership will represent one of the core venues for India-US collaboration and focus on driving urgent progress in this critical decade for climate action.
  • Both India and the United States have set ambitious 2030 targets for climate action and clean energy.
  • In its new nationally determined contribution, the United States has set an economy-wide target of reducing its net greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52 percent below 2005 levels in 2030.
  • As part of its climate mitigation efforts, India has set a target of installing 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030.
  • Through the Partnership, India and the United States are firmly committed to working together in achieving their ambitious climate and clean energy targets and to strengthening bilateral collaboration across climate and clean energy.

6 . Facts for Prelims

Mudumalai Tiger reserve

  • Mudumalai Tiger Reserve is located in the Nilgiris District of Tamil Nadu state spread over 321 sq.km. at the tri-junction of three states, viz, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and it plays an unique role by forming part of the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve, the first Biosphere Reserve in India, declared during 1986.
  • It has a common boundary with Wyanad Wildlife Sanctuary (Kerala) on the West, Bandipur Tiger Reserve (Karnataka) on the North, and the Nilgiris North Division on the South and East and Gudalur Forest Division on the South West, together forming a large conservation landscape for flagship species such as Tiger and Asian Elephant.
  • The name Mudumalai means ” the ancient hill range”. Indeed, it is as old as 65 million years when Western Ghats were formed.
  • The Reserve has tall grasses, commonly referred to as “Elephant Grass”, Bamboo of the giant variety, valuable timber species like Teak, Rosewood, etc,.
  • There are several species of endemic flora. Such a varied habitat is inhabited by a variety of animals which include Tiger, Elephant, Indian Gaur, Panther, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Mouse Deer, Common Langur, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Wild Dog, Mangoose, Jungle Cat, Hyena, among others.
  • This reserve has got a wide variety of more than 260 species of birds. Eight percentage of bird species found in India are recorded in Mudumalai.
  • This includes rare birds like Malabar grey hornbill, Malabar pied hornbill, Malabar laughing thrush, Frog mouths and a variety of woodpeckers.
  • Hornbills play an important role in dispersal of seeds. Malabar whistling thrush, peacock and jungle fowl are the other important bird species found in Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary.

Research centre for Indian art set up in Zurich’s Museum

  • Museum Rietberg, based in Zurich, Switzerland, has established a unique research centre and fellowship programme with a focus on Indian art.
  • The GBF Centre is meant for scholars, curators, and artists who specialise in Indian painting.
  • The public-private partnership takes its name from the initials of its founders, three renowned names in art historical research, Prof. B.N. Goswamy from India, Prof. Milo Cleveland Beach from the U.S., and Dr. Eberhard Fischer from Switzerland.

7. Places in News

Doklam tri junction area

  • Doklam, or Donglang in Chinese, is an area spread over less than a 100 sq km comprising a plateau and a valley at the trijunction between India, Bhutan and China.
  • It is surrounded by the Chumbi Valley of Tibet, Bhutan’s Ha Valley and Sikkim.

Kandahar and Kunduz City

  • Kandahar is a city in Afghanistan, located in the south of the country on the Arghandab River, at an elevation of 1,010 m. It is Afghanistan’s second largest city after Kabul.
  • Kunduz is a city in northern Afghanistan, the capital of Kunduz Province.
  • Both the places are in news because of the terrorist suicide attacks on Shia worshippers during Friday prayers.

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