CURRENT AFFAIRS – 06/10/2023
Defusing the ticking time bomb called diabetes
(General Studies- Paper III)
Source : TH
A study conducted in June 2023 by the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Union Health Ministry, revealed concerning statistics about diabetes, pre-diabetes, and obesity in India.
- The study found that 11.4% of the population (approximately 10.13 crore people) are living with diabetes, and an additional 15.3% (approximately 13.6 crore people) are pre-diabetic.
- Furthermore, 28.6% of the population is considered obese based on BMI measurements.
- Role of Ultra-Processed Foods
- The World Health Organization identifies the consumption of unhealthy ultra-processed foods and beverages as a significant contributor to these health issues.
- These foods, which include carbonated drinks, chips, instant noodles, cookies, and more, are aggressively marketed and have displaced traditional diets.
- Consuming diets high in sugar, fat, and salt from ultra-processed foods is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and obesity.
- A 10% increase in the daily consumption of ultra-processed foods is linked to a 15% higher risk of type-2 diabetes in adults.
- Health Implications
- Ultra-processed foods often lack nutritional value, and their consumption leads to weight gain and an increased risk of chronic diseases, including diabetes.
- Obesity and diabetes are also significant risk factors for heart disease and overall mortality.
- People who consume more than four servings of ultra-processed foods a day face a higher risk of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.
- Marketing Tactics and Vulnerable Populations
- The food industry, facing declining sales of sugar-sweetened beverages in high-income countries, has turned its attention to low- and middle-income countries like India.
- Billions are spent on marketing and advertising these unhealthy foods, targeting young people and the growing middle class.
- Children are exposed to marketing tactics that utilize cartoon characters, incentives, and celebrity endorsements, making it difficult for individuals to make healthy food choices.
- Policy and Regulatory Actions
- While the food industry resists restrictions on marketing, policy and regulatory actions are crucial.
- The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has been criticized for its lackluster response to the crisis, despite suggesting front-of-package labeling.
- It is argued that exercise alone is not enough; regulatory policies are necessary.
- Mandatory Provisions
- To combat the influence of the food industry, a legal framework or even an ordinance is proposed.
- This framework would aim to reduce or halt the consumption of ultra-processed foods and could include defining “healthy food,” implementing warning labels on unhealthy products, and restricting the promotion and marketing of unhealthy food and beverages.
- South Africa, Norway, and Mexico have recently taken similar actions, and it is suggested that India follows suit.
- Such a law would demonstrate the government’s commitment to regulating food labeling and marketing and protecting public health.
- Diabetes is a chronic medical condition characterized by high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) resulting from problems with insulin production, insulin action, or both.
- There are several types of diabetes, each with its unique characteristics and causes.
- Type 1 Diabetes (T1D):
- Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.
- The exact cause is not fully understood, but it’s believed to involve genetic and environmental factors.
- Typically develops in childhood or adolescence but can occur at any age.
- Insulin Dependence:
- People with T1D require lifelong insulin therapy to survive.
- They cannot produce insulin on their own.
- Type 2 Diabetes (T2D):
- Type 2 diabetes is primarily associated with insulin resistance, where the body’s cells do not respond effectively to insulin, and decreased insulin production over time.
- It is often linked to genetic factors, obesity, physical inactivity, and poor diet.
- Commonly develops in adulthood, but it is increasingly diagnosed in children and adolescents due to rising obesity rates.
- Insulin Dependence:
- While some people with T2D may initially manage their condition with lifestyle changes and oral medications, many may eventually require insulin therapy.
- Gestational Diabetes (GDM):
- Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy when the body cannot produce enough insulin to meet increased needs during pregnancy.
- Hormonal changes and genetic factors play a role.
- Typically diagnosed during the second or third trimester of pregnancy.
- Insulin Dependence:
- Most women with gestational diabetes can manage their blood sugar levels with diet and exercise, but some may require insulin therapy.
- Monogenic Diabetes Syndromes:
- These rare forms of diabetes are caused by mutations in a single gene and are usually inherited.
- Can occur at any age, depending on the specific syndrome.
- Insulin Dependence:
- Treatment varies based on the specific genetic mutation and may involve oral medications or insulin.
- Other key facts:
- The number of people with diabetes increased from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.
- The prevalence of diabetes has been rising more rapidly in low- and middle-income countries compared to high-income countries.
- Diabetes is a major cause of various health complications, including blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, strokes, and lower limb amputations.
- Between 2000 and 2019, there was a 3% increase in diabetes mortality rates by age.
- In 2019, diabetes and kidney disease resulting from diabetes were responsible for approximately 2 million deaths.
- Prevention or delay of the onset of type 2 diabetes can be achieved through:
- Maintaining a healthy diet.
- Engaging in regular physical activity.
- Maintaining a normal body weight.
- Avoiding tobacco use.
- Diabetes can be effectively managed, and its complications can be avoided or delayed through a combination of:
- Dietary modifications.
- Regular physical activity.
- Medication when necessary.
- Routine screening for complications and timely treatment.
Nobel Prize in Literature 2023
(General Studies- I)
Source : TH
The 2023 Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to Norwegian author Jon Fosse.
- The award recognizes Fosse “for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable.”
- The announcement was made by the Royal Swedish Academy on October 5, 2023.
- Jon Fosse’s Literary Achievements
- Fosse’s magnum opus in prose is ‘Septology,’ which he completed in 2021.
- ‘Septology’ includes works such as ‘Detandrenamnet’ (2019; ‘The Other Name’, 2020), ‘Egereinannan’ (2020; ‘I is Another’, 2020), and ‘Eitnyttnamn’ (2021; ‘A New Name’, 2021).
- Fosse was born in 1959 on the Norwegian west coast and primarily writes in Norwegian Nynorsk.
- His body of work spans various genres, including plays, novels, poetry collections, essays, children’s books, and translations.
- Previous Nobel Literature Laureates
- In 2022, the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to French author Annie Ernaux for her exploration of personal memory.
- Each Nobel Prize carries a cash award of 10 million Swedish kronor (nearly $900,000).
- The prizes will be officially awarded on December 10.
- These awards are funded by a bequest left by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who passed away in 1895.
Bangladesh accepts first uranium for Russia-backed nuclear plant
(General Studies- Paper II)
Source : TH
Bangladesh has received its first uranium delivery for a Russia-backed nuclear power plant project.
- The plant aims to strengthen Bangladesh’s energy grid but has faced complications due to sanctions on Russia.
- Russia is providing 90 percent of the $12.65-billion plant’s cost through a loan, with hopes of resolving the nation’s chronic power shortages.
- Milestone for Bangladesh’s Nuclear Ambitions
- The nuclear plant, located in Rooppur, began construction in 2017.
- The first of its twin 1,200-megawatt units is expected to start operations next year, with full operation of both reactors targeted for 2025.
- Sanctions on key Russian firms, including Rosatom, delayed construction due to issues with loan repayments in US currency.
- Payment Challenges and Diplomatic Relations
- Bangladesh agreed in April to make payments in Chinese yuan to circumvent sanctions, but central bank officials have reported delays in payment.
- Despite payment issues, Bangladesh seeks closer ties with Russia as it approaches general elections and faces criticism from Western governments and rights groups for silencing critics and suppressing dissent.
- Addressing Energy Challenges
- The Rooppur plant is Bangladesh’s most expensive infrastructure project and will be its largest power station when fully operational.
- Bangladesh seeks to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, as its electricity grid has faced increasing stress and power blackouts due to energy price spikes and grid failures.
- A second nuclear power station is also planned in the south, with officials emphasizing the role of atomic energy in combating climate change.
- Nuclear Energy and Environmental Considerations
- Bangladesh views nuclear energy as a means to significantly reduce carbon emissions by 2030.
- However, concerns persist regarding safety risks and nuclear waste disposal, and opponents highlight the lengthy construction time compared to renewable energy sources.
About Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant
- The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant is situated in Rooppur, a village located on the banks of the Ganges River, approximately 175 kilometers (110 miles) west of the capital city, Dhaka.
- The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant is designed to have two reactors, each with a capacity of 1,200 megawatts (MW), making it a total of 2,400 MW when both reactors are fully operational.
- Indian-Bangladesh Nuclear Cooperation:
- India and Bangladesh signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in the Field of Nuclear Energy in 2014.
- Under the cooperation framework, Indian nuclear experts have provided training and technical assistance to Bangladeshi counterparts.
- This training has included aspects of nuclear safety, regulatory practices, and peaceful uses of nuclear technology.
- While India has not been directly involved in the construction or financing of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, it has played a role in capacity building and knowledge sharing to support the safe operation of the plant.
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
(General Studies- Paper II)
Source : TH
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month recently concluded, highlighting the pressing need for improved management of pediatric cancers.
- Raising Awareness:
- Raising awareness about childhood cancers is crucial because early detection and diagnosis are key to successful treatment.
- Childhood cancers often present with symptoms that can mimic common infections, leading to delayed diagnosis.
- There is a need for broader public awareness campaigns to educate families and healthcare providers about the signs and symptoms of pediatric cancers.
- Specialist Treatments and Accessible Centers:
- Ensuring that children with cancer receive treatment from specialists in pediatric oncology is vital for the best possible outcomes.
- Pediatric cancer care centers need to be established across the country to provide accessible treatment options for affected children and their families.
- Access to these centers can significantly reduce the indirect expenses incurred by families during the course of treatment.
- Affordable Treatments:
- The cost of cancer care is a significant concern for families, and there is a need for affordable treatment options.
- Insurance coverage for childhood cancers should be enhanced to provide better financial support to families.
- Tailored therapy and individual-centric approaches have improved the prognosis of childhood cancers, but cost-related challenges persist.
- Prioritizing Childhood Cancers:
- Childhood cancers currently account for 2-3% of all cancers diagnosed in India, with leukemia being the most common type, followed by brain tumors.
- Historically, the Indian government has not prioritized pediatric cancers, and they are not included in the national cancer control policy.
- Advocates call for a policy shift that recognizes childhood cancers, includes them in national cancer control policies, and allocates funding for research and access to medicines.
- Multidisciplinary Approach:
- The treatment of pediatric cancers requires a multidisciplinary team-based approach, involving pediatric oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, and radiologists.
- Each type of childhood cancer has its own prognosis and treatment plan, highlighting the need for specialized care.
- Awareness Among Healthcare Providers:
- Raising awareness about childhood cancers should not be limited to the general public but should also target primary care providers such as pediatricians and family physicians.
- Healthcare professionals play a crucial role in early detection and referral for specialized care.
- Challenges and Long-Term Follow-Up:
- Pediatric cancers impose a significant burden on affected families, including emotional, financial, and physical challenges.
- Affordability of treatment remains a concern, and efforts to reduce the cost of care are essential.
- Long-term follow-up is necessary for children who have undergone cancer treatment, as they may require ongoing care and monitoring.
Cancer: Understanding the Disease
- Cancer is a complex and diverse group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells within the body.
- It is a leading cause of death worldwide, posing a significant health challenge.
- Cellular Abnormalities:
- Cancer begins when the normal processes of cell growth and division become disrupted, leading to the formation of abnormal cells.
- These abnormal cells can form a mass or lump known as a tumor.
- Types of Cancer:
- There are more than 100 different types of cancer, which can originate in various tissues or organs of the body.
- Common types of cancer include breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and skin cancer (melanoma).
- One of the defining characteristics of cancer is its ability to metastasize, which means the cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood or lymphatic system.
- Metastatic cancer is more challenging to treat and often associated with poorer outcomes.
- Risk Factors: Several risk factors can increase an individual’s likelihood of developing cancer, including:
- Genetics: Some cancers have a hereditary component.
- Lifestyle factors: Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, lack of physical activity, and exposure to carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) can increase the risk.
- Environmental factors: Exposure to radiation, pollutants, and certain chemicals can contribute to cancer development.
- Infections: Some infections, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B and C, are linked to cancer.
- Age: Cancer risk tends to increase with age.
- Symptoms: Cancer symptoms can vary depending on the type and stage of cancer. Common symptoms include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Changes in the skin
- Changes in bowel or bladder habits
- Persistent cough or hoarseness
- Difficulty swallowing
- Cancer diagnosis typically involves a combination of methods, including physical exams, imaging tests (e.g., X-rays, CT scans), laboratory tests (e.g., blood tests), and biopsies (tissue sample analysis).
- Staging helps determine the extent and severity of cancer and guides treatment decisions.
- Stages range from 0 (in situ, localized) to IV (advanced, with distant metastasis).
- Treatment: Cancer treatment varies depending on the type, stage, and location of cancer. Common treatment options include:
- Surgery to remove tumors
- Radiation therapy to target cancer cells
- Chemotherapy using drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells
- Immunotherapy to enhance the body’s immune system to fight cancer
- Targeted therapy that targets specific molecules involved in cancer growth
- Hormone therapy for cancers that are hormone-sensitive
- Prevention: Several preventive measures can reduce cancer risk, including:
- Lifestyle changes:
- Adopting a healthy lifestyle by quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, eating a balanced diet, and engaging in regular physical activity.
- Some vaccines, like the HPV vaccine, can prevent infections linked to certain cancers.
- Early detection:
- Screening tests such as mammograms and colonoscopies can help detect cancer at an early, more treatable stage.
- Research and Progress:
- Ongoing research into cancer biology, genetics, and treatment options continues to advance our understanding of cancer and improve treatment outcomes.
- Early detection and advances in therapies have contributed to improved survival rates for many types of cancer.
- Other key statistics:
- Cancer is a leading global cause of death, responsible for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, accounting for approximately one in six deaths.
- The most prevalent types of cancer include breast cancer, lung cancer, colon and rectum cancer, and prostate cancer.
- Roughly one-third of cancer-related deaths are attributed to factors such as tobacco use, high body mass index (obesity), alcohol consumption, low intake of fruits and vegetables, and lack of physical activity.
- Infections that can lead to cancer, like human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis, are responsible for around 30% of cancer cases in low- and lower-middle-income countries.
- Early detection and effective treatment can result in the successful cure of many cancer cases, underscoring the importance of timely diagnosis and intervention.
- Cancer overview- India:
- According to the Indian Council of Medical Research-National Cancer Registry Programme (ICMR-NCRP), the projected number of cancer cases in India is expected to increase from 14.6 lakh in 2022 to 15.7 lakh in 2025.
- Additionally, the three most common types of cancers in India are oral cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer.
- Lifestyle changes:
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: History, India’s response
(General Studies- Paper II)
Source : The Indian Express
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, often described as one of the “frozen conflicts” of the world, has witnessed recent developments that have implications for the South Caucasus region and India’s connectivity and ties with the region.
- Conflict Origins and Historical Context:
- Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountainous region recognized as part of Azerbaijan but inhabited predominantly by ethnic Armenians, who have close cultural, social, and historical ties with Armenia.
- Throughout history, the region has been subject to influence from various regional powers, including imperial Russia, the Ottoman Empire (modern-day Turkey), and the Persian Empire (Iran).
- In 1923, during the Soviet era, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast was established within the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic despite having a predominantly Armenian population.
- Tensions and Conflict in the Late 20th Century:
- Tensions escalated in 1988 when the regional legislature of Nagorno-Karabakh declared its intention to join Armenia, despite being geographically located within Azerbaijan.
- Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence, leading to a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan that resulted in around 30,000 casualties.
- By 1993, Armenia had captured Nagorno-Karabakh and occupied 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory.
- Ceasefire and De Facto Independence:
- In 1994, Russia brokered a ceasefire known as the Bishkek Protocol, effectively making Nagorno-Karabakh de facto independent with its own self-proclaimed government.
- Despite this de facto independence, Nagorno-Karabakh remained heavily reliant on Armenia for economic, political, and military support.
- Recent Conflict and Ongoing Tensions:
- In September 2020, Azerbaijan and Armenia went to war again, with Azerbaijan regaining control of territory surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh.
- Russia mediated a ceasefire and deployed peacekeeping forces along the Lachin Corridor, but no lasting peace agreement was reached.
- Azerbaijan reportedly received support from Turkey and Pakistan in the form of weapons and personnel, and there were reports of foreign fighters joining the conflict.
- In December 2022, Azerbaijan blockaded the Lachin Corridor, leading to severe shortages of essential goods in Nagorno-Karabakh.
- Current Situation and Implications:
- The recent “anti-terrorist” offensive by Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh has led to claims of regained control over the region.
- The conflict has political repercussions in Armenia, where Prime Minister NikolPashinyan faces protests, and for the approximately 1.2 lakh Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh, many of whom have fled to Armenia due to fears of persecution.
- Geopolitical Significance:
- The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has implications for India’s connectivity and ties with the South Caucasus region, as it is a region of strategic importance.
- India’s Position on Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
- India has consistently maintained a neutral stance in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, refraining from taking sides.
- In 2020, when the conflict broke out, India expressed its belief that a lasting resolution could only be achieved through peaceful diplomatic negotiations.
- India also supported the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group in seeking a peaceful resolution.
- Following the recent conflict, India emphasized the importance of dialogue and diplomacy in ensuring long-term peace and security in the region, with a focus on the safety and well-being of all civilians.
- Historical Ties and Relations:
- India has historical ties with both Armenia and Azerbaijan.
- India’s relationship with Armenia dates back millennia, with evidence suggesting the presence of Armenians in India as far back as 2000 BC.
- Indian settlements in Armenia were established in 149 BC.
- During the Mughal Empire, Armenian traders in India, particularly in Agra, enjoyed privileges and religious freedom.
- Emperor Akbar is believed to have had an Armenian wife, Mariam Zamani Begum.
- In modern times, India recognized Armenia’s independence and established diplomatic relations, with an Indian embassy opening in Yerevan in 1999.
- The two countries have a treaty relationship and have had visits at the level of Vice President and Prime Minister.
- Armenia publicly supports India’s position on the Kashmir issue and India’s aspiration for a permanent seat in the expanded UN Security Council.
- India has also conducted defense deals with Armenia, supplying military equipment worth US $250 million.
- In contrast, India’s relationship with Azerbaijan has been more recent, with diplomatic ties established after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
- There have been no visits at the level of Head of State/Government between India and Azerbaijan.
- The proximity of Azerbaijan to Pakistan has been viewed as a complicating factor in India-Azerbaijan relations.
- Geopolitical Significance for India:
- India views the South Caucasus region, where Nagorno-Karabakh is located, as strategically important for its connectivity plans.
- Armenia and Azerbaijan are members of the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a project India is keen to develop for connectivity with Russia and Europe through Central Asia and Iran.
- Armenia’s proposal to include Iran’s Chabahar port in INSTC is supported by India, as it aligns with India’s strategic interests.
About International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC)
The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is a multimodal transportation network designed to facilitate the movement of goods and trade between South Asia, Central Asia, and Europe.
- The primary objective of INSTC is to enhance connectivity and boost trade between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asian countries, and Europe.
- Member Countries:
- INSTC involves several member countries, including India, Iran, Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Belarus, Oman, Syria, and Turkey, among others
- INSTC provides a shorter route for goods traveling between South Asia and Europe compared to traditional sea routes, reducing transit time and costs.