Current Affairs (10th June 2021)
Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World Rankings 2022
- QS World University Rankings were announced recently.
- It is an annual publication of university rankings by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS)- A british company specialising in the analysis of higher education institutions around the world.
- Previously, it was called Times Higher Education – QS world University rankings. The name changed since 2010.
- It is the only international ranking to have received the approval of International Ranking Expert Group (IREG).
- It rates the world’s top 1000 universities.
- These rankings offer independent data on the performance of 253 programmes at 52 Indian higher education institutions, across 51 academic disciplines.
How are universities ranked?
To rank institutions, QS uses six indicators:
- Academic reputation.
- Employer reputation.
- Faculty/student ratio.
- Citations per faculty.
- International faculty ratio.
- International student ratio.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) of the US is the top university for the 10th consecutive year.
- The University of Oxford (UK) has risen to second rank for the first time since 2006, while Stanford University (US) and the University of Cambridge (UK) share third spot.
- Singapore’s National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, and China’s Tsinghua University and Peking University, are the only Asian universities in the global top 20.
- Overall, there are 22 Indian institutions in the top 1,000 list compared to 21 in the 2021 Rankings, with the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Madras making major strides in rankings.
- Jawaharlal Nehru University has entered the top 1,000 of the rankings for the first time, as its new undergraduate engineering programme now makes it eligible for the rating.
- IIT Bombay maintained its position as the top Indian institution for the fourth consecutive year, although it fell five places in the global rankings to the joint 177th position.
- IIT Delhi (185 rank) overtook the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (186 rank), giving India three institutions in the world’s top 200.The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, has been ranked the “world’s top research university”.
- It shows that India’s tally in the top 200 universities has not changed for the fifth straight year.
Raising and Accelerating MSME Performance (Ramp) Program
- The World Bank has approved a USD 500 million program to help boost India’s MSME sector.
- The USD 500 million Raising and Accelerating Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Performance (RAMP) Program is the World Bank’s second intervention in this sector.
- The first being the USD 750 million MSME Emergency Response Program, approved in July 2020 to address the immediate liquidity and credit needs of millions of viable MSMEs severely impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
- The programme targets improvements in the performance of 5.5 lakh MSMEs and is expected to mobilise financing of USD 15.5 billion, as part of the government’s USD 3.4 billion MSME Competitiveness – A Post-COVID Resilience and Recovery Programme (MCRRP).
- The RAMP program will provide better access to finance and working capital for MSMEs by strengthening the receivable financing markets.
- It will also scale up online dispute resolution mechanisms to address the problem of delayed payments.
- The USD 500 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a maturity of 18.5 years including a 5.5-year grace period.
United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
- India has been elected to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, ECOSOC for the term 2022-24.
- The UN Charter established ECOSOC in 1945 as one of the six main organs of the United Nations.
- The Council consists of 54 Members States, which are elected yearly by the General Assembly for overlapping three-year terms.
- Seats on the Council are allotted based on geographical representation with 14 allocated to African states, 11 to Asian states, six to eastern European states, 10 to Latin American and Caribbean states and 13 to western European and other states.
- It is the central platform for fostering debate and innovative thinking, forging consensus on ways forward, and coordinating efforts to achieve internationally agreed goals.
- It is also responsible for the follow-up to major UN conferences and summits.
- ECOSOC’s annual High-Level Segment includes:
- High-Level Political Forum, which reviews implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is convened under the auspices of the Council every July.
- Development Cooperation Forum reviews trends and progress in development cooperation.
- Specialised agencies: The specialized agencies of the United Nations are autonomous organizations working within the United Nations System, meaning that while they report their activities to the Economic and Social Council, they are mostly free to their own devices.
Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban
- The Government approved 708 proposals for construction of 3.61 lakh houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U) in 2021.
- Launched in 2015, PMAY-U is a flagship Mission of Government of India being implemented by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA).
- It ensures a pucca house to all eligible urban households by 2022.
- All statutory towns as per Census 2011 and towns notified subsequently would be eligible for coverage under the Mission.
- PMAY-U addresses urban housing shortage among the Economically Weaker Section (EWS), Low Income Group (LIG) and Middle Income Group (MIG) categories including the slum dwellers.
- It has made a mandatory provision for the female head of the family to be the owner or co-owner of the house under this Mission.
- It aids the implementing agencies through States/UTs and Central Nodal Agencies (CNAs) for providing houses to all eligible families/ beneficiaries against demand for houses for about 1.12 crore.
- In-situ Rehabilitation of existing slum dwellers using land as a resource through private participation
- Credit Linked Subsidy
- Affordable Housing in Partnership
- Subsidy for Beneficiary-led individual house construction/ enhancement
- Area – As per PMAY (U) guidelines, the size of a house for EWS could be up to 30 sq. mt. carpet area.
- However, States/UTs have the flexibility to enhance the size of houses in consultation and approval of the Ministry.
- Aducanumab (Aduhelm), from the company Biogen, is the new drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating Alzheimer’s disease.
- Working – Aduhelm is not a cure, but it slows down cognitive decline.
- Alzheimer’s disease causes the accumulation of the debris caused by the breakdown of neurons in the brain, leading to plaque formation.
- So, Aducanumab is a monoclonal antibody that is designed to reduce the presence of amyloid beta, a protein that forms plaques in the brain.
- Aducanumab aims at altering the course of the disease by slowing the deterioration of brain function by reducing plaque formation.
- Efficacy – Aduhelm was tested in patients at the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s before the disease had a major impact in their ability to care for themselves.
- So the FDA has asked Biogen to test the drug in people who had progressed to moderate dementia – a state in which the patients lose the ability to care for and feed themselves.
- Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of conditions that involve a loss of cognitive functioning.
- Alzheimer’s dementia is the most common type and involves plaques and tangles forming in the brain.
- Symptoms – Forgetfulness and memory problems are early symptoms.
- But as the illness progresses, patients tend to become confused, may lose their way around familiar places, and have difficulties with planning and completing simple tasks.
- The disease is basically an accelerated ageing of certain neurons in the brain that are concerned with storage and processing of memory.
- Estimates – According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates for 2017, dementia affects approximately 50 million people worldwide.
- This is projected to grow to 82 million by 2030.
- In India, it is estimated that 5.3 million people (1 in 27) above the age of 60 have dementia in 2020, as per the Dementia in India 2020 report (published by the Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India).
- This is projected to rise to 7.6 million by 2030.
BRICS on Multilateralism
- Recently, the BRICS Foreign Ministers put out a joint statement on multilateralism at a virtual meeting.
- China’s Foreign Ministry said the idea behind the statement was to forge a common understanding among the BRICS countries when there were “so many different interpretations and definitions of multilateralism in the world”.
- China has hit out at “bloc politics” from the United States and the West.
- Among the targets of Beijing’s recent attacks on what it calls “selective multilateralism” is the India-Australia-Japan-U.S. (Quad grouping).
- It is the process of organizing relations between groups of three or more states.
- It generally comprises certain qualitative elements or principles that shape the character of the arrangement or institution.
- BRICS Joint Statement on Strengthening and Reforming the Multilateral System laid out the following principles:
- It should make global governance more inclusive, representative and participatory to facilitate greater and more meaningful participation of developing and least developed countries.
- It should be based on inclusive consultation and collaboration for the benefit of all.
- It should make multilateral organisations more responsive, action-oriented and solution-oriented based on the norms and principles of international law and the spirit of mutual respect, justice, equality, and mutually beneficial cooperation.
- It should use innovative and inclusive solutions, including digital and technological tools.
- It should strengthen the capacities of individual states and international organizations.
- It should promote people-centred international cooperation at the core.