Karol Bagh | IAS GS Foundation Course | 29 May, 6 PM Call Us
This just in:

State PCS

  • 28 Feb 2024
  • 45 min read

ASHA Workers & Related Challenges

For Prelims: Accredited Social Health Activist, National Rural Health Mission, ORS, Anaemia, Malnutrition, Non-communicable diseases

For Mains: Major Roles and Responsibilities of ASHA Workers and Challenges Faced by Them.

Source: TH

Why in News?

The recent protest by Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers in Bengaluru underscores persistent concerns surrounding their working conditions and pay, shedding light on challenges within India's rural healthcare system.

Who are ASHA Workers and What are their Responsibilities?

  • Background: In 2002, Chhattisgarh pioneered a revolutionary approach to community healthcare by appointing women as Mitanins, or community health workers.
    • Mitanins served as advocates for underprivileged communities, bridging the gap between distant health systems and local needs.
    • Inspired by the success of Mitanins, the central government launched the ASHA program in 2005-06 under the National Rural Health Mission and expanded to urban areas with the introduction of the National Urban Health Mission in 2013.
  • About: Selected from the village itself and accountable to it, the ASHA workers are trained to work as an interface between the community and the public health system.
    • They are primarily women residents of villages, aged between 25 to 45 years, preferably literate up to 10th grade.
    • Typically, there is 1 ASHA for every 1000 people. However, in tribal, hilly, and desert regions, this ratio may be adjusted to one ASHA per habitation based on workload.
  • Major Responsibilities:
    • They serve as the first point of contact for health-related needs, especially for women and children.
    • They receive performance-based incentives for promoting immunization, reproductive & child health services, and construction of household toilets.
    • They counsel on birth preparedness, safe delivery, breastfeeding, immunization, contraception, and prevention of common infections.
    • They facilitate community access to health services available at Anganwadi/sub-centre/primary health centers.
    • They act as depot holders for essential provisions like ORS, IFA tablets, contraceptives, etc.

What are the Challenges Faced by ASHA Workers?

  • Heavy Workload: ASHAs are often burdened with multiple responsibilities, it sometimes becomes overwhelming, especially considering the vast scope of their duties.
  • Inadequate Compensation: ASHAs, primarily relying on meager honorariums, face economic challenges aggravated by delayed payments and out-of-pocket expenses.
    • They lack basic support like social security benefits like leave, provident fund, gratuity, pension, medical assistance, life insurance and maternity benefits.
  • Lack of Adequate Recognition: ASHAs' contributions are not always recognized or valued, leading to feelings of underappreciation and frustration.
  • Lack of Supportive Infrastructure: ASHAs face challenges related to inadequate infrastructure, including limited access to transportation, communication facilities, and medical supplies. This hinders their ability to effectively carry out their duties.
  • Gender and Caste Discrimination: ASHAs, who are predominantly women from marginalised communities, face discrimination based on gender and caste within the healthcare system.

Way Forward

  • Formalise Employment Status: There is a need to transition ASHA workers from voluntary positions to formalized employment status within the healthcare system.
    • This would provide them with job security, regular salaries, and access to benefits such as health insurance and paid leave.
  • Strengthen Infrastructure and Logistics: Investing in improving infrastructure, logistics, and supply chain management to ensure ASHA workers have access to essential equipment, supplies, and transportation is also important.
  • Recognition and Rewards: instituting formal recognition and rewards programs to acknowledge the contributions and achievements of ASHA workers, such as certificates of appreciation, public recognition ceremonies, or performance-based bonuses.
    • They also need to be provided with opportunities for career advancement within the existing healthcare system, leading to positions such as Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs).

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)

Q. With reference to the National Rural Health Mission, which of the following are the jobs of ‘ASHA’, a trained community health worker? (2012)

  1. Accompanying women to the health facility for antenatal care checkup
  2. Using pregnancy test kits for early detection of pregnancy
  3. Providing information on nutrition and immunization.
  4. Conducting the delivery of baby

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1, 2 and 3 only
(b) 2 and 4 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Ans: (a)

Social Justice

Amendment to Surrogacy Rules

For Prelims: Surrogacy, Surrogacy (Regulation) Act 2021, Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser (MRKH) Syndrome, Ban on Commercial Surrogacy

For Mains: Laws Related to Surrogacy in India and Recently Amended Provisions

Source: IE

Why in News?

Recently, the Indian government has amended the Surrogacy (Regulation) Rules, 2022 and allowed married couples to use an egg or sperm of a donor in case one of the partners is suffering from a medical condition.

  • This overturned a previous amendment made to the rules in March 2023 that banned the use of donor gametes.

What are the Major Provisions of the Amended Surrogacy Rules?

  • Background: The March 2023 amended rules only permitted the use of the intending couple's own gametes, barring couples with specific medical conditions from having biological children through surrogacy.
    • These restrictions caused distress and challenged the right to parenthood for affected couples.
    • It faced legal challenges in the Supreme Court by a woman with Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser (MRKH) Syndrome, a congenital disorder causing infertility.
      • The Supreme Court expressed skepticism regarding the efficacy of these regulations, asserting that such rules undermined the fundamental objectives of surrogacy.
  • Recent Amended Provisions: It allows surrogacy with donor gametes if either spouse in the intending couple is certified by the District Medical Board to require donor gametes due to a medical condition.
    • This implies that couples still cannot opt for surrogacy if both partners have medical issues.
    • For divorced or widowed women opting for surrogacy, it mandates the use of the woman's own eggs alongside donor sperm.

What is Surrogacy?

  • About: Surrogacy is an arrangement where a woman, known as the surrogate mother, agrees to carry and deliver a baby for another individual or couple, known as the intended parents.
  • Types:
    • Traditional Surrogacy: Traditional surrogacy involves using the intended father's sperm to fertilise the surrogate's egg.
      • The surrogate carries the pregnancy to term, and the resulting baby is biologically related to the surrogate mother and the intended father.
    • Gestational Surrogacy: In gestational surrogacy, the baby is not biologically related to the surrogate.
      • An embryo, created using the intended father's sperm (or donor sperm) and the biological mother's egg (or donor egg), is implanted into the surrogate's uterus for her to carry to term.
  • Surrogacy Arrangements:
    • Altruistic Surrogacy: It refers to a surrogacy arrangement where the surrogate does not receive financial compensation beyond reimbursement for medical expenses and other related costs.
      • The primary motivation for the surrogate in altruistic surrogacy is typically to help another individual or couple achieve their dream of having a child.
    • Commercial Surrogacy: It involves a contractual agreement where the surrogate mother receives financial compensation beyond just reimbursement for medical expenses and other costs associated with the pregnancy.
      • This compensation may vary depending on factors such as location, legal regulations, and the specific terms of the surrogacy agreement.

What are the Other Provisions Related to Surrogacy in India?

  • Permissibility: Under the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act 2021, Surrogacy is permissible only for altruistic purposes or for couples with proven infertility or disease.
    • Commercial surrogacy, including for sale or exploitation purposes, is strictly prohibited.
  • Eligibility Requirements for Couples: Couples must be married for at least 5 years.
    • The wife must be aged between 25-50 years, and the husband between 26-55 years.
    • The couple must not have any living child, whether biological, adopted, or through surrogacy, except in cases of children with disabilities or life-threatening disorders.
  • Surrogate Mother Criteria: The surrogate mother must be a close relative of the couple.
    • She must be a married woman with at least one child of her own.
    • Her age must be between 25-35 years, and she must have only been a surrogate once in her life.
  • Parental Status upon Birth: Upon birth, the child is legally recognized as the biological child of the intended couple.

Indian Polity

IGNCA’s Language Atlas

For Prelims: Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, Eighth Schedule , Indian Languages

For Mains: Protection and Promotion of Indian Languages, Diversity of India

Source: TH

Why in News?

The Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA), an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Culture, is planning a linguistic survey across India. The aim is to create a comprehensive 'Language Atlas' to showcase the linguistic diversity of the country.

How Linguistically Diverse is India?

  • Historical Census Records:
    • The first and most exhaustive Linguistic Survey of India (LSI) was carried out by Sir George Abraham Grierson and published in 1928.
    • The 1961 Census of India recorded 1,554 languages spoken in India.
      • The Census of 1961 was the most detailed with respect to linguistic data. In this Census, even languages with a single speaker were included in the records.
    • Since 1971, languages spoken by fewer than 10,000 individuals have been omitted from the Indian Census, leaving the native tongues of 1.2 million people unrecorded.
      • This exclusion disproportionately impacts tribal communities, whose languages are frequently absent from official records.
    • India now officially recognizes 22 languages listed in Schedule 8 of the Indian Constitution.
      • 2011 Census data indicates that 97% of the population speaks one of these officially recognized languages.
      • Additionally, there are 99 non-scheduled languages, according to the 2011 Census and around 37.8 million people identify one of these languages as their mother tongue.
        • There are 121 languages which are spoken by 10,000 or more people in India.
  • Multilingualism in India:
    • India is one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world, this diversity offers a unique opportunity for Indians to be multilingual, which means being able to use more than one language in communication.
      • According to the 2011 Census of India, more than 25% of the population speaks two languages, while about 7% speak three languages.
      • Studies state that young Indians are more multilingual than their elder generation with about half the urban population aged 15 to 49 years speaking two languages.

What are the Key Highlights of the Proposed Linguistic Survey?

  • The survey will focus on enumerating the number of languages and dialects in India, including those that are extinct or on the verge of extinction.
  • It aims to collect data at both the state and regional levels, with plans to digitally archive audio recordings of all languages spoken.
  • It also proposes to digitally archive the audio recordings of all the languages spoken.
  • Stakeholders in the survey include Ministries of Culture, Education, Tribal Affairs, and others, along with various language communities.

What is the Importance of a Linguistic Survey?

  • Preservation of Cultural Heritage:
    • Linguistic surveys help in identifying and documenting languages, dialects, and scripts, thereby preserving cultural heritage and linguistic diversity.
  • Policy Formulation:
    • Data from linguistic surveys informs policymakers about the linguistic needs of different communities, facilitating the formulation of language-related policies in education, governance, and cultural affairs.
  • Education Planning:
    • Knowledge about the languages spoken in different regions helps in designing educational programs that cater to diverse linguistic backgrounds, promoting inclusive education.
  • Community Empowerment:
    • Linguistic surveys empower linguistic minorities and marginalised communities by recognizing and validating their languages, contributing to their socio-economic and cultural well-being.
  • Research and Documentation:
    • Linguistic surveys serve as valuable resources for researchers, linguists, and anthropologists studying language evolution, dialectology, and language contact phenomena.
  • Promotion of Multilingualism:
    • By raising awareness about the richness of linguistic diversity, linguistic surveys promote multilingualism and foster a sense of pride in one's language and cultural identity.

What are the Constitutional Provisions Related to Language?

  • Eighth Schedule:
    • The Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution lists the official languages of India. It includes 22 languages recognized as official languages.
      • Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi,Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Bodo, Santhali, Maithili and Dogri.
    • The Eighth Schedule also includes six classical languages currently:
      • Tamil (declared in 2004), Sanskrit (2005), Kannada (2008), Telugu (2008), Malayalam (2013), and Odia (2014).
    • Part XVII of the Indian Constitution deals with the official languages of India in Articles 343 to 351.
  • Language of The Union:
    • Article 120: Deals with the language to be used in Parliament.
    • Article 210: Similar to Article 120 but applies to the State Legislature.
    • Article 343: Declares Hindi in Devnagari script as the official language of the Union.
    • Article 344: Establishes a Commission and Committee of Parliament on official language.
  • Regional Languages:
    • Article 345: Allows the state legislature to adopt any official language for the state.
    • Article 346: Specifies the official language for communication between states and between states and the Union.
    • Article 347: Allows the President to recognize any language spoken by a section of the population of a state if demanded.
  • Special Directives:
    • Article 29: It protects the interests of minorities. It states that any section of citizens with a distinct language, script, or culture has the right to preserve it.
      • The article ensures that no citizen can be denied admission to any educational institution funded by the State solely based on factors such as religion, race, caste, or language.
    • Article 350: Ensures that every person has the right to submit a representation for the redress of any grievance in any language used in the Union or the State.
      • Article 350A: Directs States to provide adequate facilities for instruction in the mother tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups.
      • Article 350B: Establishes a Special Officer for linguistic minorities appointed by the President, tasked with investigating matters relating to safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under the Constitution.

What are the Major Challenges to Linguistic Diversity of India?

  • Linguistic Hegemony:
    • The dominance of certain languages over others, both politically and socially, poses a threat to linguistic diversity. Languages with greater political and economic power may overshadow minority languages, leading to their decline and endangerment.
    • One of the significant challenges to linguistic diversity in India is the perception of Hindi as a dominant language, leading to its imposition in non-Hindi speaking regions.
  • Identity Politics and Tensions:
    • Linguistic diversity can sometimes fuel identity politics and tensions, leading to conflicts between linguistic groups over language policies and rights.
    • Attempts to impose or privilege certain languages may provoke resistance and unrest among linguistic minorities, resulting in social discord.
  • Lack of Preservation Efforts:
    • Many indigenous and tribal languages face the risk of extinction due to a lack of preservation efforts and support from governments and institutions.
    • Without adequate documentation and revitalization efforts, these languages may disappear, resulting in the loss of cultural heritage and identity.
  • Inadequate Language Education Policies:
    • Insufficient emphasis on promoting and preserving regional languages in education policies can lead to a decline in proficiency and usage among younger generations.
    • The focus on a limited number of languages in educational institutions may neglect the linguistic diversity present in the country.
  • Urbanisation and Globalisation:
    • Rapid urbanisation, globalisation, and the influence of dominant cultures can contribute to the erosion of indigenous languages and cultures.
    • As younger generations shift towards dominant languages and cultures, there is a risk of losing traditional knowledge, customs, and cultural practices associated with regional languages.
  • Limited Access to Resources in Minority Languages:
    • Minority languages often lack resources such as literature, media, and technology in their respective languages.
    • This limited access to resources hampers the development and preservation of minority languages, making them vulnerable to extinction.

Way Forward

  • Implement policies that promote education in regional languages alongside Hindi and English. Encourage multilingual education to ensure students are proficient in their native language and a widely spoken language.
    • Review and revise educational policies to ensure support for multilingualism and the preservation of regional languages.
  • Establish standards for regional languages and support efforts to document and preserve endangered languages through oral history preservation, linguistic research, and digital archives.
    • Empower linguistic communities to take ownership of their languages through community-driven language revitalization projects.

UPSC Civil Services Examination Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q. Consider the following statements:(2021)

  1. 21st February is declared to be the International Mother Language Day by UNICEF.
  2. The demand that Bangla has to be one of the national languages was raised in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: (b)

Q2. With reference to India, the terms ‘HaIbi, Ho and Kui’ pertain to (2021)

(a) dance forms of Northwest India
(b) musical instruments
(c) pre-historic cave paintings
(d) tribal languages

Ans: (d)

Q.3 Which one of the following was given classical language status recently? (2015)

(a) Odia
(b) Konkani
(c) Bhojpuri
(d) Assamese

Ans: (a)


Maharashtra Exempts Private Schools from RTE Quota Admissions

Source: IE

Why in News?

The Maharashtra school education department recently issued a gazette notification exempting private unaided schools from the mandatory 25% admission quota for disadvantaged groups and weaker sections under certain conditions.

  • As per The Right Of Children To Free And Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act) (section 12.1(C)), unaided schools are obligated to ensure that 25% of Class 1 students admitted must belong to “weaker section and disadvantaged group in the neighbourhood”.


  • With this move, Maharashtra joins Karnataka and Kerala in exempting private schools from RTE admissions, following Karnataka's 2018 rule and Kerala's 2011 rules which allow fee concession only if no government or aided schools are within walking distance, set at 1 km for Class 1 students.

What Exactly Does the New Rule State?

  • The new rule prohibits local authorities from identifying private unaided schools for 25% admission of disadvantaged groups and weaker sections under the Maharashtra Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2013, if the government or aided schools (which receive money from the govt) are within one kilometre radius of that school.
    • Such private schools no longer need to adhere to the 25% requirement; instead, students in these areas will be given priority for admission to the government or aided schools.
  • The notification states that if there are no aided schools in the area, private schools will be selected for RTE admissions and reimbursed for fees, with a new list of obligated schools to be prepared accordingly.

Why have States Introduced Such Exemptions?

  • Karnataka's state law minister stated in 2018 that the RTE's main aim is to offer education to all students, noting that the state's previous policy of permitting parents to enrol children in private schools near government schools had drastically reduced government school enrollments.
    • The Karnataka government's 2018 gazette notification is currently under judicial scrutiny.
  • Private schools and teachers’ organisations have noted that state governments frequently fail to reimburse fees for students admitted under this quota, as mandated by Section 12(2) of the RTE Act, which requires state governments to reimburse schools per-child expenses or the fee amount, whichever is lower.

What are the Likely Implications of this Exemption?

  • Arguments Against:
    • Experts have raised questions regarding the state's authority to amend central law, stating that the notification contradicts the RTE and should be avoided.
    • The Maharashtra government's amendment has been criticised on the ground that it is unjustified and emphasising the importance of Section 12(1)(C) in combating education inequality.
  • Arguments in Favour:
    • Maharashtra govt has highlighted that states are empowered by Section 38 of the RTE Act to formulate rules for its implementation, clarifying that the changes made were to the rules drafted in 2011 and 2013, not the original law.
    • The action does not contravene the RTE Act, noting that section 6 recommends government schools in unserved areas, making section 12.1(C) a temporary measure until such schools are established.
    • The private unaided schools have welcomed the new rules arguing that the move will increase the number of students in government schools.

Are Minority Schools Exempted from Following RTE Quota Admission?

  • Article 30 of the Constitution guarantees minority communities the right to establish and manage educational institutions to preserve their unique culture, language, and script.
    • Therefore, in 2012, an amendment to the RTE Act 2009 exempted institutions offering religious education from complying with the 25% reservation under the RTE Act.
  • In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in the Pramati Educational & Cultural Trust vs Union Of India & Ors that the RTE Act does not apply to minority schools.

What are the Significant Provisions of the RTE Act?

  • Right to Free and Compulsory Elementary Education:
    • Children aged 6-14 years are entitled to free, compulsory education in local schools, with enrollment in an age-appropriate class for those above 6 not in school.
      • Aided schools must also offer education for free, proportionate to their funding, but not less than 25%.
    • Elementary education is free until completion, and no child can be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board exam before finishing elementary education.
  • Curriculum and Recognition:
    • An academic authority designated by the central or state government must develop the curriculum and evaluation procedure for elementary education.
    • All schools required to adhere to pupil-teacher ratio norms and meet prescribed standards before establishment or recognition
    • Teacher qualification to be ensured by the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) conducted by the appropriate government.
  • Responsibilities of Schools and Teachers:
    • Teachers are forbidden from giving private tuition or performing non-teaching tasks, except for census, disaster relief, and election duties.
    • Schools must establish School Management Committees (SMCs) consisting of local authority representatives, parents, guardians, and teachers to oversee the school's use of government funds and create a school development plan.
  • Grievance Redressal:


While the Maharashtra government move may alleviate some financial burdens on private schools and potentially increase enrollments in government schools, it raises concerns about equity and access to quality education for children from marginalised backgrounds. The balance between supporting private schools and ensuring inclusive education for all remains a contentious issue.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q. Consider the following statements: (2018)

  1. As per the right to education (RTE) Act, to be eligible for appointment as a teacher in a state, a person would be required to possess the minimum qualification laid down by the concerned State council of Teacher education.
  2. As per the RTE Act, for teaching primary classes, a candidate is required to pass a Teacher Eligibility Test conducted in accordance with the National Council of Teacher Education guidelines.
  3. In India, more than 90 % of teacher education institutions are directly under the State Governments.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 
(b) 2 only 
(c) 1 and 3
(d) 3 only

Ans: (b)


Q. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 remains inadequate in promoting incentive-based systems for children's education without generating awareness about the importance of schooling. Analyse. (2022)

Q. “Education is not an injunction, it is an effective and pervasive tool for all-round development of an individual and social transformation”. Examine the New Education Policy, 2020 (NEP, 2020) in light of the above statement. (2020)

Important Facts For Prelims

Kala Azar

Source: IE

Why in News?

India achieved significant progress in eliminating Kala Azar (KA), reporting less than one case per 10,000 population in 2023, compared to previous years.


  • India has not yet eliminated KA but has made substantial progress towards its elimination goal.
    • India’s initial target year for Kala Azar elimination was 2010, which was later extended to 2015, 2017, and then 2020.
  • The WHO defines elimination for KA as having fewer than one case per 10,000 people at the sub-district (block Primary Health Centres) level in India. Once achieved, the elimination is to be sustained for 3 years for KA elimination certification.
    • India will need to sustain this momentum over the next three years to receive WHO certification, considering that India has missed at least four deadlines for Kala Azar elimination.
  • In Oct 2023, Bangladesh became the first country, globally, to be officially validated by the WHO for eliminating Kala Azar as a public health problem.

What are the Key Facts About Kala Azar?

  • About:
    • Kala-azar (visceral leishmaniasis), also known as Black Fever is a fatal disease caused by a protozoan parasite Leishmania donovani.
  • Symptoms:
    • It is characterised by irregular bouts of fever, weight loss, enlargement of the spleen and liver, and anaemia.
  • Prevalence:
    • Most cases occur in Brazil, east Africa and India. An estimated 50,000 to 90 000 new cases of VL occur worldwide annually, with only 25-45% reported to WHO. It has an outbreak and mortality potential.
  • Transmission:
    • Leishmania parasites spread through bites of infected female sandflies, feeding on blood for egg production. Over 70 animal species, including humans, can carry these parasites.
  • Major Risk Factors:
    • Poverty, poor housing, and sanitation.
    • Diets lacking essential nutrients.
    • Movement into high-transmission areas.
    • Urbanisation, deforestation, climate change.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
    • Suspected visceral leishmaniasis cases require immediate medical attention. Diagnosis involves clinical signs combined with parasitological or serological tests.
      • Left untreated, it can be fatal in 95% of cases.
  • Prevention and Control:
    • Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are crucial in reducing disease prevalence, and preventing disabilities, and death.
    • Vector control, such as insecticide spray and the use of insecticide-treated nets, helps reduce transmission by decreasing the number of sandflies.
    • Effective disease surveillance is important for monitoring and acting during epidemics and high case fatality rates.
    • Social mobilization and strengthening partnerships, including community education and collaboration with stakeholders, are critical for effective control.
  • India’s Efforts to Control Kala Azar:
    • The Government of India launched a centrally sponsored Kala-azar control program in 1990-91, which was later revised in 2015.
    • The National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), 2003 is an umbrella programme for prevention and control of vector borne diseases viz., malaria, lymphatic filariasis, kala azar, and chikungunya.
    • Recent Efforts:
      • Rigorous indoor residual spraying effort aimed at curtailing sandfly breeding sites; application of a special soil to seal crevices in mud walls, preventing sandflies from nesting.
      • Pucca houses in KA-affected villages have been constructed under PMAY-G - A total of 25,955 houses in 2017-18 (1371 houses in Bihar & 24584 in Jharkhand).
      • Mobilisation of the ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) network to ensure completion of treatment for PKDL patients, who require a 12-week course of Miltefosine (an antileishmanial agent).

Post-kala-azar Dermal Leishmaniasis (PKDL)

  • PKDL is a skin condition that follows visceral leishmaniasis, causing rashes on the face, arms, and trunk.
  • It affects mainly Sudan and the Indian subcontinent, with 5-10% of kala-azar patients developing it.
  • PKDL may occur 6 months to a year after kala-azar treatment, potentially spreading Leishmania.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)


Q. Consider the following diseases: (2014)

  1. Diphtheria
  2. Chickenpox
  3. Smallpox

Which of the above diseases has/have been eradicated in India?

(a) 1 and 2 only 
(b) 3 only 
(c) 1, 2 and 3
(d) None

Ans: (b)

Important Facts For Prelims

Neurovascular Tissues/Organoids

Source: PIB

Why in News?

Recently, researchers at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh, have developed a groundbreaking prototype model for generating neurovascular organoids (NVOEs) from autologous blood, representing a novel approach to generating neurovascular tissues.

  • These innovative NVOEs hold the key to transforming our understanding of brain function and neurological diseases.

What are the Key Highlights of the Research?

  • Addressing Challenges in Neural Organoid Development:
    • Traditional neural organoids lack vascularization, limiting their utility in modelling brain activity and investigating neurological diseases.
      • Vascularization is the process of growing blood vessels into a tissue to improve oxygen and nutrient supply.
    • Previous approaches, such as co-culturing blood vessel organoids with cerebral organoids, proved ineffective due to the absence of active blood flow and are labour-intensive and not cost-effective.
  • Neurovascular Tissues/Organoids:
    • PGIMER researchers have introduced a prototype for establishing self-organizing NVOEs entirely from autologous blood, without genetic manipulation or morphogen supplementation.
      • Autologous blood is a blood donation that an individual gives for their own use, for example, before surgery.
    • This approach produces functional vascularized embryoids on their own and doesn't need any special culture conditions, making it cost-efficient and accessible.
      • The researchers verified that these neurovascular organoids have working blood vessels by detecting signals from haemoglobin using a method called BOLD (Blood-Oxygen-Level-Dependent) imaging.
        • BOLD imaging is a technique that uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure brain activity.
  • Implications for Neuroscience:
    • These organoids have broad implications for studying neurological diseases, regenerating nerves, and developing treatments for tumours and autoimmune conditions.
    • These models help researchers understand the genetic causes of hearing loss and language challenges in children with early-onset Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL).
      • They study children with additional conditions like autism or intellectual disability, aiming to improve communication outcomes. By studying NVOEs, researchers can investigate how altered brain activity affects sensory processing.
        • Although functional MRI (fMRI) is a useful tool for monitoring brain activity, it's not suitable for these children due to their cochlear implants or hyperactivity.
  • Future Applications:
    • The prototype holds the potential for developing patient-specific embryoid models for congenital neurosensory, neurodevelopmental, and neurodegenerative diseases.
    • It can aid in deciphering genetics and neural circuits, testing drugs, and identifying novel biomarkers for early neurological diseases, ushering in a new era of personalised medicine in neuroscience.

Neural Organoids

  • Neural organoids, also known as cerebral organoids, are human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs)-derived 3D in vitro culture systems that recapitulate the developmental processes and organisation of the developing human brain.
    • These provide a physiologically relevant in vitro 3D brain model for the study of neurological development and disease processes that are unique to the human nervous system.
  • They have important applications in studying human brain development and neurological disorders such as schizophrenia.

Rapid Fire

Decade-long Economic Assessment by the Finance Ministry

Source: TH

Ahead of the Interim Budget for 2024-25 the Finance Minister presented a 10-year review of the Indian economy.

  • Growth Projection: The review predicts that India’s GDP will grow close to 7% in 2024-25, with the potential to go “well above” 7% by 2030.
    • The economy is expected to expand from about $3.7 trillion this year to $5 trillion in three years, making it the world’s third-largest, and could even reach $7 trillion by 2030.
    • Two Growth Phases: The review divides India’s growth story into two phases:
      • 1950-2014 and a “decade of transformative growth” since 2014.
      • It highlights, the state of the economy was “far from encouraging” due to structural constraints, tardy decision-making, and high inflation.
      • However, post-2014 reforms have restored the economy’s ability to grow healthily, making India the fastest-growing G-20 nation.
    • Qualitative Superiority: The review asserts that India’s 7% growth (when the world grows at 2%) is “qualitatively superior” to the 8% - 9% achieved during the previous era when the global economy grew at 4%.

Read More: The Indian Economy: A Review (Part I and Part II)

Rapid Fire


Source: TH

Interstellar, Christopher Nolan's 2014 sci-fi masterpiece, presents three captivating planets orbiting black holes, known as blanets, which scientists speculate could exist in reality.

  • Scientists in Japan theorized in 2019 that planets could form near supermassive black holes from massive dust and gas clouds observed in their vicinity. These planets, termed "blanets," are not anticipated to resemble Earth.
  • Planets are formed when the dust and gas swirling around a young star collide and clump together. A similar process could be in play near supermassive black holes, where planets take shape inside the disc and eventually become blanets.
  • Blanets are projected to be significantly larger than Earth, approximately 3,000 times its size.
    • To avoid gravitational destruction, blanets would need to orbit the black hole at a distance of approximately 100 trillion kilometers.

Read more: Black Hole

Rapid Fire

PM Unveils Three Space Facilities and Presents Astronaut Wings

Source: PIB

Recently, the Prime Minister of India inaugurated three significant space infrastructure projects: SLV Integration Facility (PIF) at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, Semi-cryogenics Integrated Engine and Stage Test (SIEST) facility at ISRO Propulsion Complex, Mahendragiri and Trisonic Wind Tunnel at Vikram Sarabhai Space Center, Thiruvananthapuram.

  • They will enhance India's technical capabilities in the space sector and support its vision for space exploration.
    • The PIF will ramp up PSLV launches from 6 to 15 annually and support SSLV and other small launch vehicles.
      • The SIEST facility will develop semi-cryogenic engines, enhancing payload capacity, with capabilities to test engines up to 200 tons of thrust.
      • The Trisonic Wind Tunnel marks a milestone in aerodynamic testing for rockets and aircraft.
    • These facilities are also crucial for the Gaganyaan Mission.
  • Also, the Prime Minister announced the names of four pilots chosen for Gaganyaan mission and presented 'Astronaut Wings' to them.
    • The designated pilots for the Gaganyaan mission are Group Captain P Balakrishnan Nair, Group Captain Ajit Krishnan, Group Captain Angad Pratap, and Wing Commander S Shukla.

Read more: Gaganyaan Mission

Rapid Fire

India’s First Ammunition-Missile Manufacturing Complex in UP

Source: IE

Recently, Adani Group has inaugurated South Asia's largest ammunition and missile complex in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh spanning 500 acres.

  • This facility is poised to become one of the region's most extensive integrated ammunition manufacturing complexes, producing high-quality small, medium, and large-caliber ammunition for the armed forces, paramilitary forces, and police.
  • The complex has commenced production of small-caliber ammunition, with an initial batch of 150 million rounds, which accounts for approximately 25% of India's annual requirement.
  • This unveiling coincides with the 5th anniversary of the Balakot airstrike, also known as 'Operation Bandar,' a landmark operation by the Indian Air Force that showcased India's strategic assertiveness in countering external threats.

Read more: RFID of Ammunition Stock

SMS Alerts
Share Page