India to begin COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16 and frontline, healthcare workers to get priority.

India to begin COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16, frontline, healthcare workers to get priority

     The COVID-19 vaccination drive in India will commence on January 16, 2021. The decision of starting the largest vaccination drive was taken in a meeting on January 9 during which PM Modi also reviewed the status of COVID-19 in India.

On 16th January, India takes a landmark step forward in fighting COVID-19. Starting that day, India’s nation-wide vaccination drive begins. Priority will be given to our brave doctors, healthcare workers, frontline workers including Safai Karamcharis. 

Prime Minister also reviewed the preparedness of UTs and states for vaccination against the deadly disease. After the detailed review during the meeting, the decision was taken that in the view of upcoming festivals including Makar Sankranti, Lohri, Magh Bihu, Pongal, etc., the vaccination drive will start from January 16.

As per the release by PMO, priority will be given to the frontline, healthcare workers who are estimated to be around three crores. They will be followed by those who are above 50 years and under 50 population groups with any form of co-morbidities. Their number is around 27 crores.

During the meeting, PM Modi was briefed about the centre’s preparedness status of the drive-in collaboration with UTs and states for the rollout of the vaccine. He was also apprised of the government’s CO-WIN Vaccine delivery management system.

While reviewing the vaccination drive status, PM Modi was informed of the three phases of dry run by the government having been conducted all over the country.

• As per the release, the vaccination drive has been underpinned by the principles of participation by people (jan bhagidari), the Universal Immunization Program, and utilizing the experience of elections.

• The drive will not compromise the existing healthcare services, especially primary healthcare and national programmes. It will be underpinned by no compromise on regulatory and scientific norms and smooth and orderly implementation driven by technology.

• A crucial pillar of the vaccination drive will be comprised of the vaccine administrators and vaccinations. During the meeting, their training process was also detailed out.

• Around 2,360 participants were trained during the national-level training of trainers. It included cold chain officers, immunization officers, development partners, and IEC officials.

• For the drive, more than 2 lakh vaccinators, 61,000 programme managers, and 3.7 lakh team members have been trained. They are trained as part of training at district, state, and block levels.

• The unique digital platform will be providing real-time information on vaccine stocks, the vaccine’s storage temperature, and the tracking of beneficiaries of the vaccine.

• The platform will also be assisting the program managers at all levels for pre-registered beneficiaries. There will also be assistance for their verification and for the generation of the digital certificates on the successful completion of the vaccine schedule.

• On the platform, more than 79 lakh beneficiaries have already registered.

The National regulator granted the emergency use authorization for two vaccines in India- COVAXIN, and Covishield. Both the vaccines have established immunogenicity and safety during the clinical trials.

How Electric Vehicles dominate Norway’s Car Market.

In 2020, Norway further cemented its position as a world leader in renewable technologies, as battery electric vehicles (BEVs) made up more than half of all vehicles sold in the country during the year.

Last year, the market share of BEVs rose to 54 per cent, up from 42 per cent in 2019, as per data released by the Norwegian Road Foundation (OFV). Only a decade ago, BEVs made up just 1 per cent of the overall market.

If hybrid vehicles are included, the share of electric vehicles in 2020 is 83 per cent. Petrol and diesel cars, which commanded a 71 per cent market share in 2015, are now at 17 per cent

Also last year, Germany’s Volkswagen replaced US-based Tesla as the largest electric vehicle producer in the country.

How Norway became a electric vehicles pioneer

Norway, which is the biggest producer of crude oil in Western Europe, has in the recent past made a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy. A country roughly the size of Maharashtra in terms of area, it began the electric push in the 1990s in an effort to cut pollution, congestion, and noise in urban centres.

In 2017, Norway’s parliament set a non-binding goal to ensure that all cars sold should be zero emissions by 2025. The UK and Germany plan to do this by 2030, and France by 2040. In India, the government has set a target of 30 per cent vehicles becoming EV by 2030.

To achieve its target, Norway has been giving tax incentives for fully electric vehicles, which make them cheaper to buy compared to similar internal combustion (IC) engine models. Norway also taxes IC engine cars more heavily than most European countries.

The government lets electric cars run on bus lanes, while toll roads are free for them. Parking lots offer a free charge, and new charging stations are continuously being built on the nation’s highways — a mix of regular charging stations and fast-chargers. At the moment, Norway has 10,000 publicly available charging points.

Currently, Norway has the highest per capita all-electric (battery only) cars in the world – over 1,00,000 in a country of just over five million people. The country does not manufacture cars (with the exception of a Norwegian city electric car called Buddy produced by a homegrown firm Buddy Electric) and pretty much all of its vehicle fleet is imported.

The country’s policies have also encouraged carmakers to use Norway as a testing ground. As per the CNN report, Volkswagen’s luxury brand Audi was the market leader in 2020, selling 9,227 units of its e-tron model, followed by Tesla’s Model 3, which sold 7,77o units. Volkswagen’s ID.3 came third at 7,754.

Among fossil fuel-driven cars too, Norway has encouraged petrol cars over diesel ones. To do this, some of the country’s regions began charging higher road tolls for diesel cars than for petrol vehicles. Because of such policies, the share of diesel vehicles fell from 75.7 per cent in 2011 to 8.6 per cent in 2020.

As per a Reuters report, although BEVs had in the past crossed the 50 per cent mark in market share in individual months, 2020 was a special achievement since these cars crossed the combined share of models with IC engines for a year as a whole.

Now, alongside its advances in electric vehicles, Norway is also pushing for the next frontier — hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Experts, however, say Norway’s policies are difficult to replicate in other parts of the world, mainly because the country can offer generous subsidies thanks to its revenues from oil and gas production.

Thanks to its hydrocarbon wealth, Norway has been able to build the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, currently valued at $1.3 trillion.

Olympiad Examinations In India

Olympiad exams are different from regular school examinations. Every student should participate in Olympiads but most parents and students do not know the importance of these examinations.

What are Olympiad Exams?

Olympiad exams are competitive exams conducted by various organizations across India and abroad. These examinations are conducted on the basis of the school curriculum of CBSE, ICSE, and other major state boards. These exams help to compare student’s performance with their peers across the country and also around the world. The question paper for these exams is objective-type with multiple-choice questions. There may be negative marking for wrong answers. There may be 50 to 100 questions in an examination and a strict time limit. Olympiad exams focus on concept-based learning and logical thinking. This in turn enhances the abilities of the student which is an important tool to face the future competition coming in their lives.

What is the importance of Olympiad Exams?

Olympiad exams evaluate the conceptual learning and strengthen the reasoning, analytical and problem solving skills of a student from an early age. This way the student becomes ready for the upcoming challenges of the competitive world. Many people feel that competition at such an early age will not be beneficial for students, but these examinations build a strong base for students. Hence it is necessary for a student to take part in these examinations. 

Main benefits of Olympiad exams

  • They are perfect to test a student’s conceptual understanding of the subject.
  • Improves the student’s problem solving ability and challenges them to think analytically.
  • Prepares them for future competitive exams by testing a student’s aptitude as well as the knowledge of a particular subject. 
  • Provides exposure to students at the national as well as international platforms.
  • Instills the quality of hard work in the students by pushing them to prepare hard for the exam and improve their result.
  • Students’ performance in school is also improved as Olympiads sharpen their thinking and learning process which helps them to grasp the concepts taught in schools better.

Who conducts Olympiad exams?

There are independent private organizations who conduct the Olympiad Exams. Some of the major Olympiad Exam conducting bodies are as follows:

SOF (Science Olympiad Foundation), CREST Olympiads (Online Olympiad Exams), Unicus Olympiads (Summer Olympiad Exams), Educational Initiatives (ASSET), Indian Talent Olympiad, Humming Bird Education, Eduheal Foundation, Silver Zone Foundation, Unified Council

Almost all the Olympiads consider participation from school only. Only CREST Olympiads and NSTSE (organized by Unified Council) accept individual registrations.

Subjects 

Subjects in which these examinations are conducted:

Mathematics, Science, English, Cyber, General Knowledge, French, Reasoning and Spell Bee.

Preparation for Olympiad exams

Most of the Olympiad exams are conducted on the similar syllabus that is taught at school. No additional reference books are required for the preparation of these exams. But still, there are some special books and guides to prepare for Olympiads. Students are only required to be clear with all the concepts and basics. The questions asked in the Olympiad exams are quite different from what kids learn in the school. Questions are trickier and conceptual which require the students to have a wide thought process to solve the variety of problems based on logics and concepts. 

Export Sector

Indian export growth has remained low mainly due to low scale of production, low productivity of labour, institutional friction. Any policy from government must encourage greater scale, specifically labour reform that allows easier separation from firms and workers. Textile, mobile and electronic industries can be catalyst for growth and employment if one encourage scale. Micro policy like trade agreement, simpler documentation procedure at port, improved credit access and infrastructure up gradation will help. The ongoing strain between United States of America and People Republic of China may be an opportunity as firms seek an alternative trade relationship. Labour abundantly India could be a good alternative.

Problems In Export Sector.

In the twenty five years since 1992, when India began liberalizing its trade regime, India’s share of world export rose from 0.5% in 1992 to 1.7% in 2017. The export share of India’s much celebrated export increases from 0.5% in 1992 to 3.4% 2017. To put these number in context, over the same period the Chinese share of merchandise export increases from 1.8% to 12.8%. Bangladesh also increases its share of merchandise export from 0.09% to 0.2% over the same period. Moreover, world export are 30% of its GDP while for India share of export to India’s GDP is 20%.

Lethargic pace of India’s export growth has constraint India’s growth potential as it failed to tapped into the global demand and supply. Many exporters especially in textile and other small and medium enterprises which provide huge jobs in the economy lags behind in technology and innovation to compete in global competition. India’s labour force lacked sufficient skills and labour regulation makes it hard for the firms to operate and employ labour. Lastly, our transport system are outdated, insufficient and badly planned and bureaucratic red tape makes it even worse to compete in global competition.

What’s need to be done?

The solution to low export lies in fixing both micro and macro issues. Macro refers to the issue with export while micro refers what need to be done at the lower level to boost the export.

Macro Issue Solution.

Scale – It is successful for a export sector. Hurdle to land acquisition, labour regulation, inadequate power and other infrastructure support must be provided to the firms as it promotes the firms to increase the scale of production which not only leads to the growth of economy, exports but also provides employment.

Fundamental labour reforms – Reforms are needed to encourage large scale, labour incentive production while maintaining the workers right. This will help tradition industries like textiles, footwear, leatherworks and wood products and boost employment in the economy.

Better transportation infrastructure – The government need to work on improving the integration of different mode of transportation with each other, introducing modern warehousing, custom and improving integration with logistics and industrial park.

Micro Issue Solution

Improving credit access – Credit flows to exporters have to be encouraged to grow in order to facilitate export. The majority of India’s exporters are SME’s with limited access to external financing. Bank credit is often their only source of financing. These flows must be stable, so that SMEs can plan their production properly.

Simplify the GST refund – GST refund to the small and medium enterprises must be robust to help the exporter. Refunds are still slow. This means that SMEs are typically under pressure because they may not have enough capital. SMEs are typical labour intensive and constitute percentage of total export have performed very poorly recently.

Tariff – Resists temptation to raise tariff rates in response to economic pressure such as sudden increase in import. As most exporter use imported inputs, tariff reduces the competitiveness of Indian exporter.

Global Integration of Electronic Industry – This industry has one of the fastest growing global supply chains one that India’s has not been able to take advantage unlike China, Indonesia, Taiwan. According to world bank India’s entry to global supply chain faces many hurdles like : (1) poor transportation infrastructure (2) low skill of workforce due to huge investment needs to be done on training of labour (3) complexity of land acquisition (4) lengthy and unpredictable import clearance.

Export is one of the very important components of economy and plays a very important role in economic growth of the country. It also provides immense employment and uplift millions of Indians from poverty. India’s has underperformed in export sector since liberalization in 1992 but all is not lost several needs to be taken so that we can perform to our potential in coming decade.

Have you ever heard of G20?

     The G20 (or the group of Twenty) is an informal group of 19 countries and the European Union. A combination of the world’s largest advanced and emerging economies. The G20 members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, The U.K, the U.S, and the European Union. The G20 economies together account for nearly 80% of the world’s economic output, two-thirds of the global population, and about half of the world’s land area.

     G20 forum regularly meets to coordinate global policy on economic growth, international trade, health, climate, and other issues. The G20 summit is focused on several key issues such as achieving global economic stability, sustainable growth, prevention of future financial crises, putting in place regulatory mechanisms and action against climate change. The two-day summit concludes with a joint statement issued by the members committing themselves to action. It is significant to note that the resolutions of the G20 are not legally binding, but they do influence the policies of the member countries.

     The G20 was established in December 1999 in response to financial crises faced by a number of countries in the 1990s with the aim of uniting the world around promoting global financial stability. There was also the need to create a more inclusive body with greater representation. What began as a regular forum for finance ministers and central bank governors turned into a key summit in 2008 when the heads of state and government came together for the first time in Washington to discuss the global economy as well as other challenges facing the world. Ever since the leaders have been meeting annually. A series of G20 ministerial events take place during a year.

     Saudi Arabia hosted last year’s G20 summit in Riyadh on November 22 and 23. With the global economy experiencing a sharp contraction in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the G20 leaders have vowed to ensure affordable and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics and vaccines around the world. They said they are taking immediate measures to address the health, social and economic impacts arising from the pandemic. A G20 Leader’s Declaration issued at the end of the summit called for coordinated global action, solidarity, and multilateral cooperation to overcome the current challenges and realise opportunities of the 21st Century for all by empowering people, safeguarding the planet, and shaping new frontiers. Italy will host the summit of the high-profile grouping in 2021, Indonesia in 2022, India in 2023, and Brazil in 2024.

  The G20, 2021:  

     The G20, bringing together much of the world’s population and the global economy, must live up to its role. This is why the 2021 G20, under the Italian Presidency, will focus on three broad, interconnected pillars of action: People, Planet, Prosperity.

Within these pillars, they are taking the lead in ensuring a swift international response to the pandemic – able to provide equitable, worldwide access to diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines – while building up resilience to future health-related shocks.

They are also looking beyond the crisis, towards ensuring a rapid recovery that addresses people’s needs. This implies a focus on reducing inequalities, on women’s empowerment, on the younger generations, and on protecting the most vulnerable. It means promoting the creation of new jobs, social protection, and food security.

The G20 is also intent on paving the way to rebuilding differently in the aftermath of the crisis. More efficiently, through better use of renewable energies and with a firm commitment to protecting our climate and our common environment.

This is a prerequisite for our sustained prosperity. A prosperous future, however, also requires that we properly harness the main drivers of growth and innovation. They are working to bridge the digital divide and make digitalization an opportunity for all, improve productivity and – in short –leave no one behind.

Earth is spinning faster. Here’s what scientists are saying

The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) in Paris announced in July last year that no “leap second” would be added to the world’s official timekeeping in December 2020.

Scientists think days are getting shorter than 24 hours because the planet is spinning faster than it has in 50 years and a full day has been taking less than normal since last year. According to the Daily Mail, July 19, 2020, was the shortest day since scientists began keeping records in the 1960s – 1.4602 milliseconds shorter than the full 24 hours. It is a retreat from previous records showing that for decades, the Earth took slightly longer than 24 hours to complete a rotation.

The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) in Paris announced in July last year that no “leap second” would be added to the world’s official timekeeping in December 2020. Leap seconds are time adjustments like leap years and timekeepers at IERS have added leap seconds to 27 days since the 1970s, with the most recent on December 31, 2016. According to the Daily Mail, they keep atomic time in line with solar time, thereby keeping satellites and communications equipment in sync. The next possible date for a leap second is June 30, 2021, as  leap seconds are always added on the last day of June or December.

According to scientists, the days are on average about 0.5 seconds shorter than 24 hours. Though the time difference is noticed only at the atomic level, experts say its impact could be significant. World timekeepers are debating whether to delete a second from time — called a “negative leap second” — to account for the change and bring time passage back into line with the rotation of the Earth.

Peter Whibberley of the National Physical Laboratory in the UK said, while speaking to the Telegraph, that the Earth is spinning faster now than at any time in the last 50 years. “It’s quite possible that a negative leap second will be needed if the Earth’s rotation rate increases further, but it’s too early to say if this is likely to happen. There are also international discussions taking place about the future of leap seconds, and it’s also possible that the need for a negative leap second might push the decision towards ending leap seconds for good,” Whibberley, a senior research scientist, said.

Peter Whibberley of the National Physical Laboratory in the UK said, while speaking to the Telegraph, that the Earth is spinning faster now than at any time in the last 50 years. “It’s quite possible that a negative leap second will be needed if the Earth’s rotation rate increases further, but it’s too early to say if this is likely to happen. There are also international discussions taking place about the future of leap seconds, and it’s also possible that the need for a negative leap second might push the decision towards ending leap seconds for good,” Whibberley, a senior research scientist, said.

A study published in Science Advances in 2015 suggests global warming may be the reason behind the Earth’s speedier rotation.A study published in Science Advances in 2015 suggests global warming may be the reason behind the Earth’s speedier rotation.