India Current Affairs 2017

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Government launches Test and Treat policy for HIV

Union Health Minister JP Nadda has launched the Test and Treat policy for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) patients. As per this new policy, anyone who is tested and found positive will get the necessary treatment free of cost. Anyone found positive will be provided with ART (Anti- Retroviral Therapy) irrespective of his CD count.  The scheme will be a centrally sponsored scheme. All men, women, adolescents and children who have been diagnosed positively can benefit under this new policy.

HIV destroys the CD4 T cells in the human body and weakens the immunity levels. A person who has CD4 cell count below 200 is considered to be at significant risk of developing serious illnesses. Before the announcement of this new policy, the government was providing free treatment to people with a count of 400 and below.

Government initiatives

The government is set to soon launch a National Strategic Plan for HIV for the next seven years, which will be significant for ending AIDS. Recently, the government also passed the long-pending HIV/AIDS Act. The HIV/AIDS Act has the key provisions such as the prohibition of discrimination, informed consent, non-disclosure of HIV status, anti-retroviral therapy and opportunistic infection management, protection of property of affected children, safe working environment and provision for the appointment of ombudsman in every state.

In India, around 21 lakh people are estimated to have HIV. Out of them, only about 14 lakh people have been identified yet. To identify the remaining cases, the government has revised national HIV testing guidelines. Recently, the treatment provided by about 1,600 ART and Link ART sites have crossed the 1 million people mark making the country the second in the world to have such large number of people on free lifelong treatment.

AIDS

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus. It is also known as human T-lymphotropic virus-III (HTLV-III), lymphadenopathy-associated virus (LAV), and AIDS-associated retrovirus (ARV). Transmission of HIV involves anal, vaginal or oral sex, blood transfusion, contaminated hypodermic needles, an exchange between mother and baby during pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or other exposure to one of the above bodily fluids.

 

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Plan for common Engineering entrance exam put on hold

The Ministry of Human Resources and Development has put on hold the plan for conducting a single entrance test for admission to engineering courses throughout the country till a consensus is reached with the states. The ministry feels that without reaching consensus, the purpose of having a common engineering entrance exam would not be served. Also, the ministry wants to discuss the possibility of having common counselling provisions with the states.

However, it is not fully clear whether the consultation with the states will delay the implementation of the plan in 2018. As per the sources, as soon as the consensus is built among the states, the centre will work out the modalities of implementing the plan.

Background

Recently, the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) had passed a regulation to hold a national-level common engineering entrance exam from 2018. But, it was vehemently opposed by states like West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Development wants to conduct a common test for admission to engineering courses similar to that of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for medical and dental colleges introduced last year.

At present, various exams are held for admitting students to engineering courses. For instance, the CBSE conducts JEE-Mains exam every year, for which over 11 lakh students appear. Several states have their own tests. In addition, several private colleges have their own entrance examinations. In India, there are over 3,300 approved engineering colleges with an annual intake of around 16 lakh students. So, the government feels that there should be a single common entrance examination for admission to engineering courses.

AICTE

AICTE is a statutory body established in November 1945. It comes under the aegis of Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resources Development. AICTE is a national-level council for technical education responsible for planning and coordination of technical education and management of education system in the country. It accredits graduate and post graduate programs at Indian institutions.

 

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Tripartite MoU signed for broadband services to Post Offices

A tripartite Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between BBNL, Department of Posts and BSNL to provide broadband connectivity of BharatNet to Post Offices in rural areas.

BSNL would provide broadband services. The infrastructure expenses and the operational expenses would be paid by the Department of Posts. BBNL would facilitate and coordinate the entire project.

BharatNet

BharatNet is Centre’s rural internet connectivity programme which is implemented by Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL). It is world’s largest rural broadband connectivity programme using Optical fibre. Bharat Net seeks to connect all of India’s households, particularly the rural areas, through demand, affordable broadband connectivity of 2 Mbps to 20 Mbps to realise the vision of Digital India. The project is being funded by Universal service Obligation Fund (USOF). The three-phase implementation under the BharatNet project is:

  • Under the first phase, one lakh gram panchayats would be provided connectivity by laying underground optic fibre cable (OFC) lines by March 2017. This phase is nearing its completion.
  • Under the second phase, connectivity will be provided to all 2,50,500 gram panchayats in the country. It is to be completed by December 2018.
  • Under the third phase from 2018 to 2023, state-of-the-art, future-proof network, including fiber between districts and blocks would be created.

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