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The Arctic is a polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth.

8 Jul, 2020


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    Current Affairs – 16th February 2022


    • News: India’s merchandise exports touched $34.5 billion in January, 25.3% higher than a year ago, while imports grew at a slightly slower pace, taking the country’s trade deficit to a five-month low of $17.4 billion.
    • Details:
      • While January’s goods exports are 8.75% lower than December’s all-time record figure of $37.81 billion, it takes India’s exports near the $400-billion target set for 2021-22, with the first 10 months of the year already clocking outbound shipments worth $336 billion.
      • This marks a nearly 47% increase from a year ago and a 27.1% increase over the pre-COVID period of 2019-20.
      • Gold imports fell sharply during January to just $2.4 billion, 40.5% lower than that in the corresponding month in 2021 and almost half the $4.72 billion imported in the previous month.
      • The decline in the yellow metal’s imports was the biggest factor behind India’s import bill dropping to $51.9 billion in January, 12.7% lower than in December 2021.
      • Consequently, the trade deficit that had hit a record $22.9 billion in November 2021, and had averaged 21.7 billion since September, also dropped.
      • Exports of coffee and petroleum products almost doubled in January, while cotton yarn and handloom products rose 42.4%.
    • About Trade Deficit:
      • A trade deficit occurs when a country’s imports exceed its exports during a given time period. It is also referred to as a negative balance of trade (BOT).
      • The balance can be calculated on different categories of transactions: goods (a.k.a., “merchandise”), services, goods and services.
      • Balances are also calculated for international transactions—current account, capital account, and financial account.
      • A trade deficit occurs when a country’s imports exceed its exports during a given period.
      • Balances are calculated for several categories of international transactions
      • Trade deficits can be shorter or longer term.
      • Implications of a trade deficit depend on impacts on production, jobs, national security and how the deficits are financed.

    2.    RARE DISEASE

    • News: Waiting in vain for his treatment to begin at the Capital’s Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC), 20-month-old Rohit Tiwari succumbed to Gaucher disease, a rare genetic disorder that affects fat metabolism.
    • About National Rare Disease Policy 2021:
      • Aim:
        • To increase focus on indigenous research and local production of medicines.
        • To lower the cost of treatment of rare diseases.
        • To screen and detect rare diseases early at early stages, which will in turn help in their prevention.
      • Major Provisions of the Policy:
      • Categorization:
      • The policy has categorised rare diseases in three groups:
        • Group 1: Disorders amenable to one-time curative treatment.
        • Group 2:Those requiring long term or lifelong treatment.
        • Group 3:Diseases for which definitive treatment is available but challenges are to make optimal patient selection for benefit, very high cost and lifelong therapy.
      • Financial Support:
        • Those who are suffering from rare diseases listed under Group 1 will have the financial support of up to Rs. 20 lakh under the umbrella scheme of Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi.
      • Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi:The Scheme provides for financial assistance to patients, living below poverty line (BPL) and who are suffering from major life threatening diseases, to receive medical treatment at any of the super specialty Government hospitals / institutes.
        • Beneficiaries for such financial assistance would not be limited to BPL families, but extended to about 40% of the population, who are eligible as per norms of Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, for their treatment in Government tertiary hospitals only.
      • Alternate Funding:
        • This includes voluntary crowdfunding treatment by setting up a digital platform for voluntary individual contribution and corporate donors to voluntarily contribute to the treatment cost of patients of rare diseases.
      • Centres of Excellence:
        • The policy aims to strengthen tertiary health care facilities for prevention and treatment of rare diseases through designating eight health facilities as ‘Centres of Excellence’ and these will also be provided one-time financial support of up to Rs. 5 crore for upgradation of diagnostics facilities.
      • National Registry:
        • A national hospital-based registry of rare diseases will be created to ensure adequate data and comprehensive definitions of such diseases are available for those interested in research and development.
      • Concerns Raised:
        • Lack of Sustainable Funding:
          • Unlike conditions under Group 1 and Group 2, patients with Group 3 disorders require sustainable treatment support.
          • In the absence of a sustainable funding support for Group 3 patients, the precious lives of all patients, mostly children, are now at risk and at the mercy of crowdfunding.
        • Lack of Drug Manufacturing:
          • Where drugs are available, they are prohibitively expensive, placing immense strain on resources.
          • Currently few pharmaceutical companies are manufacturing drugs for rare diseases globally and there are no domestic manufacturers in India except for those who make medical-grade food for those with metabolic disorders.
        • About 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.


    • News: India plans to prepare digital maps of all its 6,00,000 villages and pan-India 3D maps will be prepared for 100 cities, Union Minister of State for Science and Technology Jitendra Singh said on Tuesday at an event to mark a year of the updated geospatial policy guidelines.
    • Details:
      • An ongoing scheme, piloted by the Panchayati Raj Ministry, called SVAMITVA (Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas).
      • The updated guidelines help private companies prepare a variety of maps without needing approvals from a host of Ministries and make it easier to use drones and develop applications via location mapping.
      • The “trinity of geospatial systems, drone policy and unlocked space sector will be the hallmark of India’s future economic progress”.
      • The complete geospatial policy would be announced soon as the liberalisation of guidelines had yielded very positive outcomes within a year’s time.
      • The geographical information based system mapping would also be useful in forest management, disaster management, electrical utilities, land records, water distribution, and property taxation.
      • Indian geospatial market in 2020 to be ₹23,345 crore, including ₹10,595 crore of export which was likely to grow to ₹36,300 crore by 2025.
      • It would help establish “clear ownership” of property in rural areas by mapping of land parcels using drone technology and providing a “record of rights” to eligible households by issuing legal ownership cards to them.
      • So far, drone surveys have covered close to 1,00,000 villages and maps of 77,527 villages had been handed over to States.
      • Property cards have been distributed to around 27,000 villages, according to current information on the SVAMITVA portal.
    • About SVAMITVA Scheme:
      • SVAMITVA (Survey of villages and mapping with improvised technology in village areas) scheme is a new initiative of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
      • It aims to provide rural people with the right to document their residential properties so that they can use their property for economic purposes.
      • The scheme is for surveying the land parcels in rural inhabited area using Drone technology.
      • The survey shall be done across the country in a phase wise manner over the period 2020 -2025.
      • The scheme is proposed as a Central Sector scheme with a projected outlay of Rs 79.65 crores for the pilot phase (FY 2020 -21) .
      • Objectives
        • To bring financial stability to the citizens in rural India by enabling them to use their property as a financial asset for taking loans and other financial benefits.
        • Creation of accurate land records for rural planning.
        • Determination of property tax, which would accrue to the GPs directly in States where it is devolved or else, add to the State exchequer.
        • Creation of survey infrastructure and GIS maps that can be leveraged by any department for their use.
        • To support in preparation of better-quality Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) by making use of GIS maps.
        • To reduce property related disputes and legal cases
      • Coverage: There are about 6.62 lakh villages in the country which will be eventually covered in this scheme. The entire work is likely to be spread over a period of five years.