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In news:

Globally, the average temperature over land and ocean surfaces made January 2020 the hottest January on record.

In brief:

  • In India, January 2020 was the second warmest (21.92°C) since 1919 (22.13°C) in terms of average minimum temperatures, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD) data dating back to 1901. Normal January temperature is 20.59°C.
  • The January 2020 temperature departure was the highest monthly temperature departure without an El Niño present in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

More notable climate events in the January report

  • Lots of regional heat to go around. Record-warm temperatures were seen across parts of: Scandinavia, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the central and western Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, and Central and South America. No land or ocean areas had record-cold January temperatures.
  • Polar sea ice coverage remained smaller than normal. Arctic sea ice extent (coverage) was 5.3 percent below the 1981–2010 average, tying with 2014 as the eighth-smallest January extent in the 42-year record. Antarctic sea ice coverage during January was 9.8 percent below the average and tied with
    January 2011 as the 10th smallest.
  • Snow cover was lacking. Northern Hemisphere snow coverage was below the 1981–2010 average, having the 18th-smallest January snow cover in the 54-year record.

GISAT-1

  • ISRO is preparing to launch GISAT-1, a new earth observation satellite, in the first week of March 2020, for providing images quickly during disasters.
  • It will be the first of two planned Indian Earth Observation satellite to be placed in a geostationary orbitof around 36,000 km.
  • It will carry multi-spectral (visible, near infra-red and thermal), multi-resolution (50 m to 1.5 km) imaging instruments.
  • It will be launched using GSLV MK-II.

COVID-19

In news:

Health officials in China have published the first details of more than 44,000 cases of Covid-19

In brief:

  • The death toll from the COVID-19 epidemic outbreak has climbed to 1770 in mainland China.
  • More than 80% of the cases have been mild, with the sick and elderly most at risk.
  • Overall death rate of the Covid-19 virus of 2.3%.
  • Men are more likely to die (2.8%) than women (1.7%).
  • Existing illnesses put patients at risk. It puts cardiovascular disease at number one, followed by diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and hypertension.

Impact on Indian economy:

  • The viral outbreak comes at a time when the Indian economy is going through a difficult phase and the virus outbreak could make the slowdown worse.
  • India is dependent on China for a whole lot of sectors such as smartphone, solar cells and modules, TVs and electronics, toys, furniture, computers and cars.

Defence MoUs With Russia

In news:

The MoU will address the issue of regular spares and support for Russian military equipment which are currently being used by the armed forces in India.

In brief:

  • It will cover joint ventures such as modern T-90 tanks and Pechora air defence systems (surface-to-air missile system).
  • Under the proposed Indo-Russian Joint Venture ICT Center of Excellence, there are also agreements on emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, blockchain and robotics based on Russian technologies.
  • MoU was signed between the Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) and the AlmazAntey of Russia for exploring the feasibility of establishing a joint venture in India for the production of various subsystems of “air defence missile systems like Tunguska, Kavadrat, the OSA-AKA, Pechora air defence system as well as the Shilka self-propelled air defence gun system”

About T-90 tanks:

  • The T-90 is a third-generation Russian battle tank that entered service in 1993.
  • India opted to acquire 310 T-90 in response to numerous delays in the production of its own domestically developed Arjun main battle tank, and to counter Pakistani deployment of the Ukrainian-made T-80 tanks in 1995–97.
  • A follow-on contract, worth $800 million, was signed on October 26, 2006, for another 330 T-90M “Bhishma” MBTs that were to be manufactured in India by Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi, Tamil Nadu.

In 5 Years, 376 Dies Cleaning Sewers And Tanks: High In 2019

In news:

As per the data shared by Union ministry of State for Social Justice and Empowerment in the Lok Sabha, over 100 people have died in 2019 alone while cleaning sewers and septic tanks which is a jump of almost 62 per cent from 2018

In Brief:

  • A National Survey in 18 states identified 62,904 manual scavengers between 2013 and January 31, 2020.
  • Manual scavenging has been prohibited under The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, in all states and Union Territories with effect from December 6, 2013.
  • Uttar Pradesh has topped the list of sewer deaths last year at 21, followed by Maharashtra (17), Gujarat (16) and Tamil Nadu (15).
  • 13 states including Odisha, Jharkhand, northeast states and Union Territories Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Lakshadweep have reported zero incidents of manual scavenging deaths.
  • Out of 376 deaths, families of only 200 sanitation workers who died between 2015 and 2019 were paid full compensation, 75 received partial amount and 101 have not received any compensation at all.
  • A total of 62,904 manual scavengers have been identified between December 6, 2013 and January 31, 2020, in India. Out of this, 14,559 were identified by 13 states from 2013-14 to January 31, 2020 and 48,545 were identified in a national survey carried out in 194 districts of 18 states on the basis of unsanitary latrines converted into sanitary latrines under Swachh Bharat Mission.

Madhyapradesh Grapples With Spiraling Neonatal Deaths

In News:

According to the National Health Mission (NHM) Madhya Pradesh has recorded the highest percentage of newborn deaths of 11.5% against the total admissions to government-run sick newborn care units (SNCUs) in the past three years across the country, a rate ominously spiralling since 2017.The country’s average is 7%.

In Brief:

  • Factors responsible for deaths: Staff crunch, low community referrals, absence of a special neonatal transport service to health centres, and the non-availability of enough units to cater to increasing institutional deliveries had contributed to the spike in the percentage of deaths.
    • Staff crunch: In the Jabalpur unit, there are only 14 against a required
      22 nurses.
    • The crunch is magnified as only one against the required five (82% shortfall) of surgeons, gynaecologists, physicians and paediatricians is available at hospitals.
    • Time crucial: Transporting neonates on time is crucial as they may succumb to fatal diseases within hours.Although there is a dedicated service to transport pregnant women to hospitals from remote areas, there is none for neonates, who are mostly dependent on the 108 ambulance service.
    • The health of children and mothers is not tracked in a systematic way by one platform, and services are often given randomly.
  • Madhya Pradesh has also recorded an abysmal sex ratio in admissions. Even with a sex ratio of 931 as per the 2011 census, 663 girls were admitted against 1,000 boys in the three years, against the country average of 733.
  • Under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, each country, including India, has aimed to bring down neonatal mortality to at least 12 per 1,000 live births. In 2018, it stood at 23 for India.

India Rejects Guterres Mediation Offer

In News:

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) rejected an offer of mediation proposed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Kashmir.

In Brief:

  • The U.N. Secretary-General has offered several times to mediate on the issue, and had repeated the offer last September after India-Pakistan tensions flared over the government’s decision to amend Article 370 and impose restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • While the government’s rejection of the offer is also routine, it may also be meant as a reminder to U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made several offers of mediation in the past, and will arrive in India in a week’s time.
  • In a response the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson said, “The issue of Jammu and Kashmir that needs to be addressed is that of vacation of the territories illegally and forcibly occupied by Pakistan. Further issues, if any, would be discussed bilaterally. There is no role or scope for third party mediation.”