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April 1 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm



 The initiation of Free Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) in India on April 1, 2004, stands as a momentous milestone in the nation’s efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

From Stigma to Hope: The Need for Free ART

  • In the early 1980s, HIV/AIDS was a death sentence, shrouded in fear and stigma.
  • While antiretroviral drugs existed, access remained limited, particularly for developing nations like India.
  • The high cost of these medications meant many couldn’t afford treatment.

The Evolution of Free ART: A Government Initiative

  • Recognizing the need for change, the Indian government launched free ART in 2004.
  • This program made treatment accessible to all adults living with HIV, a groundbreaking decision. Free ART later expanded to children as well.

Impact: Bending the Curve

  • Free ART has demonstrably curbed the HIV/AIDS epidemic in India.
  • The prevalence rate has significantly declined, and new infections have dropped by nearly half compared to the global average.
  • Additionally, free ART has led to a dramatic decrease in AIDS-related deaths.

Beyond Free Medication: A Multi-pronged Approach

  • The success of free ART goes beyond just providing medication.
  • Complementary initiatives like free diagnosis, prevention of mother-to-child transmission programs, and management of opportunistic infections played a crucial role.

Challenges Remain:

  • Delayed enrolment
  • Treatment adherence issues
  • Ensuring sustained drug availability in remote areas are ongoing concerns.
  • Additionally, increased focus on private sector involvement, staff training, and integration with other health programs like hepatitis C treatment are crucial for continued progress.

A Model for Public Health Initiative

  • This program is a testament to the power of political will, sustained funding, and community engagement.
  • It serves as a model for other public health initiatives in India, demonstrating the potential for government-run programs to deliver quality, accessible healthcare for all.

About AIDS:

  • Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
  • HIV attacks the body’s immune system, making a person more vulnerable to other infections and diseases.
  • If HIV is not treated, it can lead to AIDS.


  • It is a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
  • It can also be spread by contact with infected blood, and from illicit injection drug use, or sharing needles.
  • It can also be spread from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.


  • There is currently no effective cure. Once people get HIV, they have it for life.
  • But with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled.
  • People with HIV who get effective HIV treatment (called antiretroviral therapy, or ART) can live long, healthy lives and protect their partners

Antiretroviral Therapy (ART):

Function: A combination of daily medications that suppress HIV replication, protecting healthy CD4 cells and strengthening the immune system.


  • Reduces viral load, making HIV undetectable and significantly lowering transmission risk.
  • Improves immune function, allowing the body to fight off infections and diseases.
  • Enables people with HIV to live long, healthy lives.
  • Data: As of 2023, an estimated 72% of people living with HIV in India are on ART.

 Stem Cell Transplant:

  • Function: Aims for a potential cure by replacing infected stem cells with those resistant to HIV.
  • Process: Transplants stem cells from a donor with a CCR5 gene mutation, making them resistant to HIV-1 infection.
  • Benefits (Potential): Offers the possibility of a complete cure for HIV.


  • Extremely complex, expensive, and risky procedure.
  • Only two documented cases of successful HIV cure through stem cell transplant as of 2023.
  • Finding a suitable donor with the CCR5 mutation is challenging.



Centre-State financial relations in India are increasingly focusing on public debt management and fiscal deficits, particularly following the establishment of the Sixteenth Union Finance Commission.

Kerala has contested the Central government’s decision regarding the net borrowing ceiling for states, emphasizing the necessity for “asymmetric fiscal rules” within India

Post-COVID Fiscal Strategy:

  • Centre sets 3.5% fiscal deficit target for states (0.5% tied to power reforms).
  • General government debt capped at 60% of GDP, with 40% for Centre.

Kerala’s Debt Situation:

  • Outstanding liabilities at 36.9% of GSDP (2024-25 Budget Estimate).
  • Lower roll-over risk due to 16% debt maturing by 2025.
  • Telangana has a more favorable long-term debt profile compared to Kerala.

Revenue Stability Concerns:

  • Kerala’s own tax revenue stands at 48% of total revenue.
  • CAG data (Nov 2023) shows Kerala’s fiscal marksmanship (budget vs actuals) for tax revenue at only 57.23%.
  • GST marksmanship shows improvement compared to previous year.

Volatility in Intergovernmental Transfers:

  • Kerala highlights volatility in central transfers as a concern.
  • State’s share in Finance Commission tax transfers has declined (1.925% in 15th Commission vs 2.5% in 14th).
  • 15th Commission formula prioritizes distance-to-income criterion, impacting growing states like Kerala.


  • Fairer Share of Funds: Kerala should negotiate for a larger portion of central government transfers based on a revised system for allocating funds.
  • Targeted Support: Additional money to address specific challenges faced by Kerala, such as changing population demographics, migration patterns, and the impact of climate change.
  • Gender-Balanced Budgets: Increased funding allocated based on gender budgeting principles to reduce gender inequalities and encourage more women to join the workforce, ultimately boosting the economy.

Understanding Article 280: The Finance Commission of India


  • The President establishes a Finance Commission within two years of the Constitution’s commencement and every five years thereafter.
  • The President can also set one up earlier if deemed necessary.


  • Tax Sharing: Recommends how to distribute the net proceeds of specific taxes collected by the central government between the central government and the states.
  • Grants-in-Aid: Suggests principles for allocating financial assistance (grants) from the central government’s Consolidated Fund to support state finances.
  • Sound Financial Management: Addresses any other financial issues referred to it by the President to promote a healthy financial system for the country.

Powers and Procedures:

  • The Commission defines its own working procedures.
  • Parliament can grant the Commission additional powers through legislation to effectively perform its duties.



An examination of data from the Central Water Commission unveils that merely 23% of the holding capacity in reservoirs across South India is occupied. This figure stands nine percentage points beneath the rolling decadal average, signaling an imminent crisis.

Factors Contributing to the Crisis:

  • El Niño occurrences, including the ongoing one, result in erratic monsoons, thereby aggravating the situation of water scarcity.
  • The year 2023 was documented as the warmest on record, with forecasts indicating further deterioration in 2024.
  • During the forthcoming general elections, millions of voters in India are anticipated to spend additional time outdoors, consequently imposing further strain on water resources.
  • Despite encountering previous crises and witnessing some policy enhancements, there persists inadequate preparedness and implementation.

Impact of Climate Change on Water Crisis:

  • Climate change imposes a more severe toll on low- and middle-income countries like India by exacerbating concurrent crises.
  • Alterations in weather patterns heighten the probability of events such as droughts and disease outbreaks occurring simultaneously.
  • These compounded effects exacerbate socio-economic conditions, particularly among marginalized groups.

Central Water Commission (CWC)

Established in 1945, the Central Water Commission (CWC) serves as a leading technical organization in India for water resources.

  • It functions as an advisory body to the Government of India on water resources development and management.
  • Operating as an attached office of the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Department of Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation, it holds a pivotal position.
  • The primary responsibility of the CWC includes planning, designing, and implementing schemes nationwide for water resource management, conservation, and utilization.
  • It caters to various purposes such as flood control, irrigation, navigation, drinking water supply, and hydropower generation.



In response to the need for comprehensive data on Kerala’s captive elephant population, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has launched a pioneering initiative to conduct genetic profiling.

This endeavor aims to augment a national database with crucial information.

Key Details of the Initiative:

  • The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is spearheading the genetic profiling of Kerala’s 400 captive elephants.
  • Forensic kits, essential for genetic analysis, have been provided by WII to the Kerala Forest Department.
  • Assistant conservators specializing in social forestry will be tasked with the collection of blood and dung samples from elephants across various districts.
  • To ensure efficient execution, forest officials will undergo online training sessions on sample collection techniques and report updating, scheduled for April 5 and 6.
  • The commencement of sample collection is slated for the second week of April, strategically aligned with Kerala’s temple festival season.

Current Status and Challenges:

  • Kerala’s captive elephant population has dwindled to 407 individuals, with approximately 25 deaths recorded annually.
  • Once boasting the largest captive elephant population, Kerala now faces a significant decline in numbers.
  • This initiative mirrors similar profiling efforts undertaken in other states, as part of a nationwide endeavor targeting an estimated 3,000 captive elephants.

What is genetic profiling?

  • Genetic profiling, also known as genetic testing or genetic analysis, involves examining an individual’s DNA to identify variations, mutations, or genetic markers associated with specific traits, diseases, or conditions.



Recently, the UNESCO’s Executive Board endorsed the addition of 18 sites to the UNESCO Global Geoparks network.

About UNESCO Global Geoparks Network

  • UNESCO Global Geoparks are unified geographical areas managing significant geological sites and landscapes.
  • Emphasizes holistic approaches to protection, education, and sustainable development.
  • Comprises geological heritage sites of scientific importance, rarity, or beauty.
  • Created in 2015 to acknowledge geological heritage of international significance.
  • Establishment involves strong local partnerships and long-term public support.

Recognition and Designation

  • UNESCO Global Geopark designation lasts four years.
  • Defining geological sites must be protected under appropriate legislation.
  • No restrictions on economic activities within geoparks complying with relevant laws.
  • Re-examination during a revalidation process after the designation period.

Restrictions and Prohibitions

  • Selling or destroying geological value within UNESCO Global Geoparks is prohibited.

Global Geoparks Network

  • Non-profit International Association officially established in 2014.
  • Subject to French legislation.
  • Official partner of UNESCO for managing UNESCO Global Geoparks.



Russia’s Onyx supersonic cruise missile, frequently used in strikes against Ukrainian targets near the Black Sea, is set to become deadlier with a new target seeker.

About Onyx Miss ile

  • The P-800 Onyx missile, also known as Oniks, is a supersonic medium-range cruise missile developed by Russia.
  • Designed for combatting surface ship groups and destroying ground targets in challenging conditions.


Features of Onyx Missile

  • Referred to as the Russian Brahmos, it achieves speeds exceeding 3,000 km/h, making interception difficult.
  • Operates at an altitude of 10-15 meters above land or water, enhancing stealth capabilities.
  • Boasts a default range of up to 300 kilometers and 120 km in a low-altitude trajectory.
  • Launchable from surface ships, submarines, and land-based equipment.
  • Self-guided munition, adhering to the “shoot and forget” principle.
  • Requires minimal target information for successful strikes, contrasting with other missiles.



Fish otoliths are now being used to create ornaments, marking their market debut. These ornaments are crafted by fisherwomen in Vizhinjam, trained by scientists from the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI).

About Fish Otoliths

  • Otoliths, or ear stones, are biomineralised structures found in fish that aid in hearing and balance.
  • They have species-specific shapes and grow throughout a fish’s life.
  • Composed of hard calcium carbonate, otoliths are located behind the brain of bony fishes.

Types of Otoliths

  • Sagitta: The largest pair of otoliths, involved in sound detection and hearing.
  • Asteriscus: Also participates in sound detection and hearing.
  • Lapillus: Detects gravitational force and sound.

Variation in Otoliths

  • Different species have otoliths of varying shapes and sizes.
  • Cartilaginous fishes like sharks, skates, and rays lack otoliths entirely.

Significance of Otoliths

  • Otoliths aid in identifying species, size, age, growth rate, and season of death of individual fish.
  • Analysis of oxygen isotope values in otoliths provides information on the water temperature where the fish lived.


April 1
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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