Family as an anti-depressant: Study

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Living in a joint family or having more social interactions can help reduce your anxiety level, improve your memory and overcome the effect of chronic stress, a recent study conducted at National Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences (NIMHANS) revealed.

In the study, it was observed that rats that were exposed to a social and interactive environment showed reduced anxiety-like behaviour.

In the study, eight-week-old male rats were separated into four groups. The study group was given stress for 21 days, and for the next 10 days was let out into a wider cage with 10 to 12 other rats along with toys to play such as climbing ladders and rotating tunnels. Various behavioural tests were conducted after this.

In the tests, it was found that rats exposed to the wider cage after 21 days of stress showed reduced memory problems associated with stress, compared with those that were not given the better cage. The result also revealed higher long-term potentiation (LTP), associated with learning and memory, among those who were exposed to the better environment of cage.

The results were published in Journal of Neuroscience Research.



The Hindu (You can download ‘The Hindu’ newspaper for free from a facebook page – UPSC Aspirants Forum)

Every third child bride in the world is Indian: Report

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With over 10 crore Indians, including 8.5 crore girls, being married off before they turn 18, every third child bride in the world is Indian, says a report.

The report, titled ‘Eliminating Child Marriage in India’, was released by Action Aid India on Friday. The report analyses data on child marriage based on the 2011 Census.

The report found that there had been some improvements in the age of marriage, but that India still accounted for about 33% of all child marriages in the world. Of the married female population in India, 30.2% had been child brides.

The report also found that 75% of all child marriages took place in rural areas as on 2011.

Among states, Uttar Pradesh accounted for the highest percentage of child marriages in India, at 16.6%. Seven states, viz. UP, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Bihar, Maharashtra and MP accounted for 70% of the total child marriages in India.

What could be the cause behind this?

Chairperson of Action Aid India Shabana Azmi designated patriarchy as the root cause of child marriage. She added that patriarchy has to be tackled to eliminate child marriages in India, which can be done by spreading education and building confidence in the girls so that they can resist forced child marriages.

What are the possible implications of child marriages?

Author of the report Srinivas Goli highlighted that it’s not just the violation of human rights, but there can be economic problems too. He said that women are half of the population and if we cannot combat child marriage, it may increase the extent of unhealthy and unskilled labour force. This, he added, can be a great hindrance to the economic prospects of the country.  



The Hindu (You can download ‘The Hindu’ newspaper for free from a facebook page – UPSC Aspirants Forum)

Half of HIV-infected get treatment now: UNAIDS

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The latest report of UNAIDS – Ending AIDS: Progress towards the 90-90-90 target – released on Thursday revealed the progress that the global community has made in making treatment accessible to People Living with HIV (PL-HIV). Now more than half of the PL-HIV have access to HIV treatment.

The report – Ending AIDS: Progress towards the 90-90-90 target – is the annual scorecard for progress. The idea behind the 90-90-90 target is to diagnose 90% of people who are HIV+; get 90% of the diagnosed HIV+ people on anti-retroviral treatment, and 90% of those on anti-retroviral treatment should be virally suppressed. This is attained when an HIV+ patient’s viral load reaches an undetectable level, curbing transmission.

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As of last year, 19.5 million of the 36.7 million HIV+ patients had access to treatment. Deaths caused by AIDS have fallen from 1.9 million in 2005 to 1 million in 2016.

The bad news, however, is that the majority of the cases – nearly 95% of the cases in 2016 – were concentrated in just 10 countries, India being one of them. India has 2.1 million people living with HIV, with 80,000 new infections annually, as of 2016. In 2005, the annual incidence was 1.5 lakh people.

While the world seems to be on track to reach the global target of 30 million people on treatment by 2020, access to medicines remains a major barrier in low- and middle-income countries, including India.


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The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is an innovative joint venture of the United Nations family which brings together the efforts and resources of 11 UN system organisations to unite the world against AIDS.

The participating organisations that form UNAIDS, also called the UNAIDS Cosponsors, are:

  1. UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees);
  2. UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund);
  3. World Bank;
  4. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation);
  5. UN Women;
  6. UNDP (United Nations Development Programme);
  7. UNFPA (United Nations Populations Fund);
  8. WHO (World Health Organisation);
  9. World Food Programme;
  10. UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime);
  11. ILO (International Labour Organisation).

The joint programme is co-ordinated by the UNAIDS Secretariat, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. UNAIDS’ mission is to lead and inspire the world in achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.


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HIV – Human Immunodeficiency virus – is a virus that attacks the immune system, which is our body’s natural defence against illness. This virus gradually breaks down a person’s immune system and make one more vulnerable to off infections and diseases.

AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), on the other hand, isn’t a virus but a set of symptoms (or syndrome) caused by the HIV virus. A person is said to have AIDS when their immune system is too weak to fight infection, and they develop certain defining symptoms and illness.

So in a single line we can say that: HIV causes AIDS and interferes with the body’s ability to fight infections.

IIT-KGP to make eastern India students aware of NPTEL courses

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The IIT-Kharagpur has decided to approach institutes of higher education in eastern India students and teachers aware of free online courses offered by National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL).

Only 7% of the 5 lakh student enrolled this year in various NPTEL courses are from eastern India. Not only students, but teachers as well as colleges and universities are not aware of the NPTEL courses offered by IITs and IISc. At this backdrop, a drive will be launched by IIT-KGP to make eastern Indians aware of the NPTEL courses so that more and more students can reap its benefits.

To boost enrolments from the region, IIT-KGP is talking to various institutions of West Bengal, Odisha and north eastern states to offer credit transfers to the students.

About NPTEL:

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The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), a joint initiative of IITs and IISc, provides e-learning through online video course in Engineering, Sciences, Technology, Management and Humanities.

NPTEL is a curriculum building exercise and is directed towards providing learning materials in science and engineering by adhering to the syllabi of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

The main objective of NPTEL is to make learning material available to students of engineering institutions through easier means.   

SC allows abortion of ailing foetus

A SC Bench consisting of Justices Dipak Mishra and A.M. Khanwilkar, taking note of the mental stress suffered by the woman, allowed abortion of the ailing foetus.

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The SC on Monday allowed a woman to abort her over 20-weeks-old foetus with severe abnormalities. The court said every woman has a sacrosanct right to bodily integrity and she has the right to choose.

This judgement, however, transcends the limit imposed by the law – Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act – 1971. As per the law, abortion is illegal if pregnancy crosses the mark of 20 weeks.

As per Section 3(2) of the Act, abortion is only allowed if pregnancy was under 20 weeks old and done on the advice of only 2 registered medical practitioners, who should certify that the pregnant woman was risking “grave injury to her physical and mental health” or there was a danger of the child being born with a severe mental or physical handicap.

In this case, the woman approached the SC seeking permission to abort her foetus after she discovered that it suffered from a severe form of cardiac impairment called pulmonary atresia. She also presented to the court a report by a paediatric pulmonologist which said there was a high possibility of permanent brain damage.

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This case is one of the many similar cases that have come to the SC recently. The court’s order s in such cases have been on a case-to-case basis.