Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Preparation: 21 October 2017

Name rural toilets ‘izzat ghar’: Centre to states

The Centre has written to each state government to name toilets built in rural households as “izzat ghar” or “house of dignity” or any other appropriate equivalent in the local language.

Noting that the toilets in rural households in many parts of Uttar Pradesh are being named izzat ghar, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation wrote to state government’s principal secretaries, who are in charge of rural sanitation, to consider doing the same in their states, too. All states are encouraged to initiate similar local initiatives and good practices that associate a sense of dignity and pride among the households with having and using toilets.

The ministry has been overseeing implementation of the Swachh Bharat Mission in villages across the country, with the objective of achieving a clean and open defecation- free rural India by October 2, 2019. 4.99 crore toilets have been built in villages across the country since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin in 2014. Besides, over 16.41 lakh toilets have been built under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme till March 31 this year. Over 2.57 lakh villages, 214 districts and six states have been declared open defecation- free in the past three years.


India among five countries responsible for 50% newborn deaths

According to a UN report, India is among the five countries – Pakistan, Nigeria, Congo and Ethiopia being the others responsible for half of all new-born deaths in the world.

The report, “Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2017”, revealed that 5.6 million children died before reaching the age of five in 2016.

While India was accountable for 24 per cent of these new-born deaths, Pakistan accounted for 10 per cent, Nigeria 9 per cent, the Democratic Republic of Congo 4 per cent and 3 per cent of the deaths occurred in Ethiopia.

Pneumonia and diarrhoea caused 16 per cent and 8 per cent of deaths respectively among children under five globally. Thirty per cent of newborns succumbed to preterm birth complications and complications during labour or child birth last year.

Going by the current trends, 60 million children would die before their fifth birthday between 2017 and 2030, half of them newborns, according to the report released by the UNICEF, World Health Organisation, World Bank and the Population Division of UNDESA.


Lebanon’s parliament approves country’s first budget since 2005

Lebanon’s parliament has approved the first state budget in 12 years, a vital step towards reforming the fragile economy and preventing rising debt spinning out of control. Successive governments have failed to pass annual budgets due to a string of political crises since the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

A main obstacle to passing the 2017 and previous budgets has been demands from some politicians that an audit of extra-budgetary spending from previous years be carried out. But the parliament approved a law allowing the budget to be passed before such an audit is completed and giving the minister of finance up to a year to carry it out.


India tops list of pollution-linked deaths

According to a report by The Lancet Commission on pollution and health, India has been ranked No. 1 in pollution related deaths with 2.51 million deaths in 2015. China recorded the second highest number of such deaths (1.8 million). India accounted for about 28 per cent of an estimated nine million pollution linked deaths worldwide in 2015.

At 6.5 million premature deaths globally, air pollution was the leading cause of deaths in 2015. Nearly 25% of all deaths in India in 2015 were caused by pollution.

Deaths from air pollution were a result of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Pollution has been responsible for the most non-communicable disease deaths.

The Lancet Commission on pollution and health is a two-year project in which more than 40 international health and environmental authors led by environmental scientist Philip Landrigan were involved.