GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.

Indian-Origin AIDS Researcher Appointed As The UNAIDS Special Ambassador.

Background-

  • Acclaimed South African Indian-origin AIDS researcher Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim has been appointed as a UNAIDS Special Ambassador for Adolescents and HIV.
  • Professor Abdool Karim is one of the worlds leading AIDS researchers and has made pioneering contributions to understanding the HIV epidemic among young people, especially among young women.
  • She is a strong advocate for the rights of people living with and affected by HIV.
  • In her new role as a UNAIDS Special Ambassador, Abdool Karim will focus on adolescents and HIV, while also championing the involvement of young women in science.

Highlights Of The Development–

  • The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS- related deaths.
  • Last month (October, 2017), Abdool Karim and her husband Professor Salim Abdool Karim received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Institute for Human Virology (IHV) in Baltimore , US.
  • Post her appointment as the special ambassador, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibei said the organisation “looks forward” to supporting her Abdook Karims work.
  • Sidibei also said that a strong and consistent champion of young people living with and affected by HIV, she will use her new role to continue to translate scientific research and knowledge into people-centred solutions and prevention programmes to reduce the factors making young people so vulnerable to HIV infection.
  • Professor Abdool Karim said that as we increase our understanding of the HIV epidemic and the transmission dynamics that place young people at higher risk of infection, all sectors of society must work together to make sure that adolescents have access to the information and services that can keep them safe and well through a crucial period of their lives and into adulthood.
  • Professor Abdool Karim is Professor in Clinical Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, United States of America, and an Honorary Professor in Public Health at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
  • She is also a member of the UNAIDS Scientific Expert Panel and Scientific Adviser to the Executive Director of UNAIDS.
  • In 2013, Professor Abdool Karim was awarded South Africas highest honour, the Order of Mapungubwe, for her contribution to the response to HIV.

Sources- Indiatoday.

GS Paper II- Governance.

51 Lakh Houses Under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana By 31st March 2018.

Background

  • More than 50 lakh homes for the poor will be built in rural areas across the country by March 31, 2018 under a central scheme bringing social transformation in villages, the government said on 20th November, 2017.
  • Under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin) a target of to construct 1 crore new houses by March 31, 2019 was set.
  • Of these, 51 lakh houses had to be completed by 31st March, 2018, the Rural Development Ministry said in an official statement.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • After the launch in 2016, it took a few months to complete the process of beneficiary registration, geo-tagging, account verification etc, the ministry said adding that it used Socio Economic Census of 2011 for selection of beneficiaries.
  • The homeless and those living in one kuccha room with kuccha roof or two kuccha rooms with kuccha roof are the beneficiaries of this pro-poor PMAY scheme.
  • The homes are designed by the best of institutions after studying the existing local design typologies and are constructed by beneficiaries as per their need. The payment for construction of the houses is directly transferred into the accounts of beneficiaries.
  • The ministry statement also said that the poor are getting safe homes and can live with dignity with facilities like toilet, LPG connection, electricity connection, drinking water facility etc.
  • To ensure transparency and check corruption, the Centre has set up an online platform where any person can see construction of homes with geo-tagged photographs and complete details of beneficiaries and payments made to them.
  • The ministry has also decided to commission a study on social transformation to understand the impact of the housing programme.
  • Besides this, the National Institute of Public Finance & Policy will also study the governance reforms under PMAY(G) and the impact of higher demand of steel and cement on growth.

Sources- NDTV.

GS Paper III- Security.

Ministry Of Defence Scraps $500 Million Israeli Missile Deal, Wants DRDO To Make In India

Background

  • Asking the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to indigenously develop and produce a Man-Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM) for the Army, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has decided to cancel the $500 million deal for Spike ATGM with Israel.
  • The deal, seen as another proof of growing Indo-Israel defence cooperation, was expected to be signed after price negotiations with Rafael Advanced Defence Systems of Israel were completed in 2016.
  • In anticipation of this deal, Rafael had entered into a joint venture with Kalyani group for missile production in India.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Ministry sources told that the decision to cancel the deal was based on the consideration that importing a foreign ATGM at this stage would adversely impact the programme for indigenous development of the weapon system by DRDO. Earlier, India had also rejected an offer from US-based Raytheon-Lockheed Martin for Javelin ATGM in favour of the Israeli weapon system.
  • DRDO has successfully produced the Nag and Anamika ATGMs. It is confident about providing the Army with an MPATGM of 3rd generation missile technology, at par with Spike, within three to four years.
  • The decision to retract the Request for Proposal (RFP), however, will be a setback to the modernisation programme of the Army. In letters to the MoD, the Army headquarters had highlighted “the operational urgency of the equipment”, arguing that the Spike “gives a major capability impetus to border troops.
  • Spike MR missile is a 3rd generation, fire and forget, top attack, ATGM with a range of 2.5 km, which can operate both during the day and night. The Army is currently using 2nd generation ATGMs — Konkurs and Milan 2T — which do not have night-fighting capabilities. Moreover, the Army currently has a shortage of around 68,000 missiles.
  • In 2009, the MoD accepted the requirement of buying 321 ATGM launchers and 8,356 missiles, with 30 per cent offsets and a transfer of technology clause. Only Rafael of Israel responded, and Spike missiles underwent trials in 2011-12. The ministry accepted the trial evaluation in 2013 and gave clearance for procuring from a single vendor.
  • Ministry sources said that trials highlighted a problem with one of the two homing devices in the launcher which led to constitution of a study group. The study group presented its report in August 2014, and the ministry agreed in October 2014 to procure the missiles from Rafael.

Sources- The Indian Express.