Today's Headlines - 23 November 2022
India's first suicide prevention initiative
(GS Paper - 1 (Population and associated issues)
The National Suicide Prevention Strategy, the first of its type in the nation, was unveiled by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The strategy includes multi-sectoral partnerships and time-bound action plans to reduce suicide mortality by 10% by 2030.
- The overall goal of the strategy is to create effective suicide surveillance systems within the next three years, psychiatric outpatient departments that will offer suicide prevention services through the District Mental Health Programme within the next five years in all districts, and to integrate a mental health curriculum within the next eight years in all educational institutions. It calls for creating standards for ethical media coverage of suicides and limiting access to suicide tools.
- The emphasis is on fostering societal support for suicide prevention as well as community resilience. The policy states it will stay faithful to India's cultural and social environment while being in line with the WHO's South East Asia Region Strategy for suicide prevention.
- Suicide is the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 15 and 29 in India, taking more than one lakh lives per year. According to the document, the suicide rate jumped from 10.2 to 11.3 per 100,000 people in the last three years. Family issues and illnesses are the most frequent causes of suicide, accounting for 34% and 18% of all suicide-related deaths, respectively.
- The strategy's first draft was prepared by psychiatrist Lakshmi Vijayakumar, head of the Sneha Foundation.
- The NCRB survey revealed the shocking revelation that India's suicide rate reached frightening heights in 1998, when 104,713 people, including 43,027 women, hanged themselves to death.
- According to an NCRB source, "the rate of growth in suicides started rising up dramatically from 1998." Since then, the number of reported suicides has reached six figures, rising to 110,587 in 2009 after varying somewhat in the years before, according to the source.
- In 2021, 1, 65,033 suicides were reported, which is a record high compared to 1,53,052 and 1,39,123 in 2020 and 2019, respectively. 1, 29,887 suicides were reported in total in 2017, while 1,34,516 were reported in 2018.
'Intent of Cooperation' on Quantum Tech
GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)
India and the European Union signed an "Intent of Cooperation on High-Performance Computing (HPC), Weather Extremes and Climate Modeling and Quantum Technologies" at a virtual ceremony in New Delhi on 21 November 2022.
During the virtual ceremony
- It aimed at establishing collaboration on HPC applications using Indian and European Supercomputers in the areas of Bio molecular medicines, Covid therapeutics, mitigating climate change, predicting natural disasters and Quantum Computing.
- The Intent of Cooperation builds further on the commitments made by both sides for deepening technological cooperation on Quantum and High-Performance Computing during the EU-India Leaders' meeting on 8 May 2021.
- The signing of the agreement assumes significance in the context of the decision to set up the EU-India Trade and Technology Council (TTC) on 25 April 2022.
- HPC is tackling some of the biggest challenges in the world today. The demand for High-Performance Computing Systems is increasing rapidly in various application domains.
- Under this partnership, India and EU will leverage expertise from both sides to optimise HPC towards developing advanced technology solutions in multiple fields.
- Moreover, this agreement gives us an exciting perspective for the EU and India to explore the frontiers of Quantum Technologies jointly.
NASA's Orion capsule has reached the moon
GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)
NASA's Orion capsule reached the moon, whipping around the back side and passing within 80 miles (128 km) on its way to a record-breaking lunar orbit. The close approach occurred as the crew capsule and its three test dummies were on the far side of the moon.
- It's the first time a capsule has visited the moon since NASA's Apollo programme 50 years ago, and represented a huge milestone in the $4.1 billion test flight.
- Orion's flight path took it over the landing sites of Apollo 11, 12 and 14 - humanity's first three lunar touchdowns.
- If all continues to go well, another engine firing will place the capsule in that orbit on 26 November 2022.
- Orion will shatter NASA's distance record for a spacecraft designed for astronauts - nearly 250,000 miles (400,000 km) from Earth, set by Apollo 13 in 1970.
- A Pacific splashdown is planned for 11 Dec 2022. Orion has no lunar lander; a touchdown won't come until NASA astronauts attempt a lunar landing in 2025 with SpaceX's Starship.
- The Space Launch System rocket performed exceedingly well in its debut. The 322-foot (98-metre) rocket caused more damage than expected, however, at the Kennedy Space Centre launch pad.
World's "longest" gas supply agreement
GS Paper - 3 (Environmental security, Energy)
In order to deepen its links with Asia at a time when Europe is looking for alternative supplies, QatarEnergy signed a 27-year natural gas supply agreement with China. The company referred to the agreement as the "longest" ever seen.
- The China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) would receive four million tonnes of liquefied natural gas yearly from the national energy company's new North Field East project.
- Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, European nations have been more interested in Qatari gas, which is primarily sold to Asian nations led by China, Japan, and South Korea.
- As Germany and other European nations resisted signing the kind of long-term agreements reached with Asian countries, negotiations with those countries have been difficult.
- Qatar's plan to increase its liquefied natural gas production by more than 60% to 126 million tonnes annually by 2027 is centred on North Field.
- The first nation to sign a contract for North Field East is China.
- Natural gas that has been cooled down to a liquid state for convenience and safety of non-pressurized storage or transport is known as liquefied natural gas (LNG).
- LNG is made up primarily of methane CH4, with a little amount of ethane, C2H6.
- It occupies roughly 1/600th of the volume of natural gas when it is gaseous (at standard conditions for temperature and pressure).
- LNG has no smell, no colour, no toxicity, and no corrosion. Asphyxia, freezing, and flammability after vaporisation into a gaseous state are risks.