Assam Current Affairs

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Assam plans to develop birth place of Srimanta Sankardev Batadrava

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has mooted an idea of developing the birthplace of Srimanta Sankardev Batadrava as an international tourist spot and plans to place it in the national and international tourist circuit. The state government plans to develop the birthplace on the lines of the Golden Temple of Amritsar. The site is proposed to be developed as an ideal place for religious and cultural tourism.

Srimanta Sankardeva

Srimanta Sankardeva (1449–1568) is a 15th – 16th century social and religious reformer, poet, playwright and preacher of the vaishnavite cult. He was born at Alipukhuri-Bordowa in 1449. Sankaradev is credited for inspiring the Bhakti Movement in Assam just like how Guru Nanak, Ramananda, Kabir, Basava and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu inspired in the rest of the Indian subcontinent. The ideas of Sankaradev were based on Bhagavata Purana.

Sankaradev is widely credited for developing new forms of music (Borgeet); theatrical performances(Ankia Naat, Bhaona); dance form (Sattriya), and literary language namely Brajavali. In addition, the Bhagavatic religious movement started by him had influenced two medieval kingdoms-Koch and Ahom.

The contributions made by the Sankaradev are a part of living tradition in Assam even today. Teachings of Sankaradev are practised by a large section of people in Assam. His teachings have left a lasting mark on the religious and cultural life of Assam. His teachings are credited to have integrated different castes and groups of people in Assam into one cultural unit.

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1.04 crore people hit by arsenic contamination in Bengal: Report

According to recent report tabled in the Lok Sabha, West Bengal has the highest number of arsenic-affected people in the country. State’s 83 blocks in eight districts have ground water affected by arsenic contamination.

Despite the State government’s efforts to curb the Arsenic menace, there is still a lot to be done. So far, state government was able to provide safe drinking water to 52% of the arsenic-affected areas in Bengal.

Key Facts
  • The total number of arsenic-affected people in the country is about 1.48 crore (as of March 2017).
  • West Bengal has topped the list with more than 1.04 crore arsenic-affected persons.
  • Bihar is second with 16.88 lakh persons, with Assam is third with 14.48 lakh victims.
  • According to the WHO’s guidelines for drinking water quality (2011), the permissible limit of Arsenic in groundwater is .01 m/ litre.
  • However, in India the permissible limit in drinking water was only recently been revised from .05 mg/litre to .01 mg/litre.
  • West Bengal government recently had initiated a project to provide safe drinking water to more than six lakh people in the arsenic-affected blocks.
  • However, there is slow progress in setting up water treatment plants since the technology for removal of arsenic is new and expensive.

About Arsenic Contamination

  • Arsenic is a natural component in the earth’s crust. It is widely distributed throughout the environment in the air, water and land. It is highly toxic in its inorganic form.
  • Contaminated water used for drinking, irrigation of food crops and food preparation poses the greatest threat to public health from arsenic.
  • Long-term exposure to arsenic from drinking-water and food can lead to chronic arsenic poisoning. It can cause cancer, skin lesions, developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity and diabetes.
  • The most important action in affected communities is the prevention of further exposure to arsenic by providing them of a safe water supply.
  • It is a high-profile problem in the Ganges Delta, due to the use of deep tubewells for water supply. The groundwater in these tubewells have high concentrations of arsenic in deeper levels .

Arsenic contamination

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Government announces expansion of rotavirus vaccine in 5 states

The Union Government has announced the expansion of rotavirus vaccine in five additional states under Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP). They are Assam, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

The announcement comes after 38 lakh children were vaccinated when the vaccine was first introduced in four states – Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. 

Key Facts
  • The rotavirus is one of the most common causes of severe diarrhoea in children less than 2 years of age. It is one of the biggest killers in children in India.
  • It is responsible for nearly 78,000 deaths, 32 lakh out-patient visits and nearly 9 lakh hospitalizations every year.
  • The vaccine will prevent Rotavirus diarrhoea in children which accounts for approximately 40% of hospitalizations from diarrhoea in India.
  • Rotavirus vaccine supplemented by proper sanitation, hand washing practices, ORS and zinc supplementation will go a long way in reducing the mortality and morbidity due to diarrhoea in children.

About Rotavirus

  • The Rotavirus is a genus of double-stranded RNA virus in the family Reoviridae.
  • It most common causative agent of moderate-to-severe diarrhoea (MSD) among infants below 11 months age group and death among children less than five years of age.
  • Transmission: The virus spreads from person to person due to bacterial and parasiting agents that are primarily transmitted through contaminated food or water.
  • Impact on Health: It causes gastroenteritis after it damages the cells that line the small intestine and causes gastroenteritis. In some cases in causes malnutrition, delayed physical and mental development among children.

About Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP)

The UIP provide free of cost vaccines to all children across the country to protect them against 11 life threatening diseases. These 11 diseases are Tuberculosis, Pertussis, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Hepatitis B, Polio, Pneumonia and Meningitis due to Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib), Measles, Rubella, Rotavirus diarrhoea and Japanese Encephalitis (JE). (Rubella, JE and Rotavirus vaccine are given in select states and districts). It is the largest birth cohort in the world vaccinating around 26 million children annually.

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