· Japan to resume commercial whaling
- Japan said it is withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and will resume commercial whaling next year, in a move expected to spark international criticism.
- Leaving the IWC means Japanese whalers will be able to resume hunting in Japanese coastal waters of minke and other whales currently protected by the IWC.
- Japan has hunted whales for centuries, and the meat was a key source of protein in the immediate post-World War II years when the country was desperately poor.
- The IWC, established in 1946 to conserve and manage the world’s whale and cetacean population, introduced a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986.
- India is member of IWC.
- World Bank AID for Rehabilitation of DAMS
- Government of India has started implementation of Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) with financial assistance from World Bank to rehabilitate 198 dam projects in 7 States viz. Kerala (28 dam Projects), Madhya Pradesh (25 dam Projects), Odisha (26 dam Projects), Karnataka (22 dam Projects), Uttarakhand (Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited) (5 dam Projects), Jharkhand (Damodar Valley Corporation) (3 dam Projects) and Tamil Nadu (89 dam Projects).
- As per NRLD(National Register of Large Dams), 209 dams are 100 years or more old.
· USTAAD: Railways develops AI-powered robot to check for faults in trains
- The mechanical branch of Central Railway‘s Nagpur division developed a new AI-powered robot named USTAAD (Undergear Surveillance through Artificial Intelligence Assisted Droid) which examines parts of the coach in real time with an HD camera and transmits them over WiFi.
- The new Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered robot will click photos and record videos of the train, under the gears and then transmits them over WiFi to engineers for maintenance and repair.
- Since USTAAD can watch and examine areas which cannot be seen and approached by humans usually, due to the narrow spaces between under-gear parts, it will reduce chances of human error while examining undergear equipment on Indian Railways trains.
- The special features of the robot include HD (high-definition) camera that can be rotated in any direction as per commands are given by the engineer and can capture video as well as still photographs with zoom in or out facility.
· NITI Aayog releases Second Delta Ranking of Aspirational Districts Programme
- The ranking details the incremental progress achieved by the districts during June to October this year across six key development sectors.
- Virudhunagar districtin Tamil Nadu has shown the most improvement overall, followed by Nuapada district in Odisha, Siddarthnagar in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar’s Aurangabad and Koraput in Odisha.
- These districts have championed the development narrative in fundamental parameters of social progress.
- Meanwhile, Nagaland’s Kiphire district, Jharkhand’s Giridih, Chatra in Jharkhand, Hailakandi in Assam, and Pakur in Jharkhand have shown least improvement.
- The Aspirational District Programmewas launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January this year with the aim to rapidly transform the districts that have shown relatively lesser progress in key social areas.
· Govt’s shrinking footprint in India’s healthcare
- The public health expenditure in India, or what the government (Centre and state combined) spends on health, has remained constant over years in most states and is even less than the national average of 1.2% of GDP, making India one of the biggest private spenders on health among the low-middle income countries, latest data from National Health Accounts (NHA).
- In major states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the government’s share in the total health expenditure continues to hover between 1.1-1.3% of gross state domestic product (GSDP), despite a substantial increase in healthcare costs. Public health spending in Maharashtra stood at a mere 0.7% of GSDP in 2015-16, against a total health expenditure of almost Rs 57,000 crore. Consequently, increasing the out-of-pocket burden.
- The government expenditure on healthcare has increased to 1.18% of GDP in 2015-16 from 0.96% in 2005-06. In 2014-15, the total expenditure incurred on health as a percentage of GDP was 3.89%, whereas the government share stood at 1.13% of GDP.
- At present, the Centre shares around 30% of the total public health expenditure, the rest is borne by states.
- The National Health Policy, 2002, had set a target of 2% of GDP by 2010; the previous government, in 2004, had set a goal to increase publichealth spending to 2-3% of GDP over a five-year period; and the Centre’s 12th five-year plan set the target at 1.87% of GDP by March 2017.
- Despite these targets, India’s public-health expenditure is amongst the lowest in the world, lower than most low-income countries.