OBC list to be sub-categorised

In News

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to set up a commission which will examine the issue of sub-categorisation of the Other Backward Classes (OBC).

  1. It has to examine the “extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation” among various castes and communities that come under the Central OBC list.
  2. The committee also has to work out the mechanism, criteria and parameters for the actual sub-categorisation. The actual reservation will continue to be 27% and within this the committee will have to do the re-arranging. For example, if the committee comes to the conclusion that in the last many years Yadavs have benefited far more than Khatiks or Sainis then the amount of reservation for them will be increased vis-à-vis the Yadavs.
  3. The third task is bringing order to the Central list of OBCs by removing any repetitions.
  • The National Commission for Backward Classes had recommended it in 2011 and a standing committee too had repeated this.
  • Already 11 States, including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Jammu region have such a categorisation in State government jobs.
Creamy layer cap raised
  • The Union Cabinet also increased the “creamy layer” ceiling for the Other Backward Classes to RS. 8 lakh per annum from the existing RS. 6 lakh for Central government jobs.
  • This means that the umbrella of reservation is widened and those earning up to RS. 8 lakh per annum would now get the benefits.
  • In 1992 too the Supreme Court had in a judgment given a similar recommendation.
  • The OBC Commission as well as the standing committee have favoured this.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation


French index says India worst for retirement now

Why in News ?

In a global retirement index of 43 countries, India has ranked the lowest. The index by French asset management company Natixis Global, ranks countries on the basis of four factors

  1. The material means to live comfortably in retirement.
  2. Access to quality financial services to help preserve savings value and maximize income.
  3. Access to quality health services.
  4. A clean and safe environment.

What is the ranking of India

  • On all four, India has ranked the lowest. Switzerland, Norway and Iceland topped the ranking.
  • The index ranks 43 countries which include International Monetary Fund (IMF) advanced economies, members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
  • India ranks 43rd in this year’s GRI and has the same score compared to last year but its sub-indices all rank in the bottom five.
  • Compared to last year’s report, India declines in the Material Well-being (41st) and Health (43rd) sub-indices but gains ground in Finances (39th) and Quality of Life (43rd).

Of course, the index ranks mostly advanced economies, not comparable to India. But India also ranks the lowest among the BRIC economies.

Source : Economic Times

GS II : Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Health Ministry set for 2nd round of National Deworming initiative to tackle Worm Infections in children

Why in News?

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is all geared up for its 2nd  round of National Deworming Day (NDD) 2017 on 10thAugust in 33 States/UTs followed by mop-up activities on 17th August targeting 31 crore children.

About the Program

  • The NDD program has been launched in 2015 as WHO estimates that 220 million children below 14 years of age are at risk of STH infections in India.
  • National Deworming Day is organised twice in a year covering all the children from 1-19 years of age except the States of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh where deworming is carried out once in a year.
  • The Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) prevalence in these two States is less than 20%.
  • All the children are provided deworming tablet in schools and anganwadis.
  • The deworming has the potential to improve nutritional status of children.
  • The deworming tablet called ‘Albendazole’ is a safe and efficacious drug for controlling worm infestation.

This is one of the largest public health programs reaching large number of children during a short period. The first NDD round of 2017 implemented in February covered 26 crore children with a coverage of 89%

Source : The Hindu

GS II :  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

Bloomberg Billionaire Index reveals the rise of inequality in India

Why in the news

The data released by the Bloomberg Billionaire Index reveals statistics about the rise of inequality in India.

What is the data shows ?

  • It showed that the top 20 industrialists in India added a staggering $50 billion to their combined wealth in the first seven months this year,
  • Taking their total valuation to $200 billion roughly 10 percent of India’s $2 trillion economy.

Other report

  • Oxfam report released this year revealed that 57 billionaires in India own as much as the bottom 70 percent of the population.
  • The richest one percent holds 58 percent of the country’s total wealth higher than the global average of 50 percent.

Concern on equality

Therefore, inequality is no longer a first-world phenomenon. It is very much at our shores, but the moot question remains if the trend is undesirable at all. Shows the redistributive means needs improvement.

Source : The Hindu

GS III : Inclusive growth and issues arising from it

Focus is on chemicals in firecrackers

In news

The Supreme Court ban on the use of antimony, lithium, mercury, arsenic and lead in the manufacture of firecrackers to prevent air pollution has turned the focus on what chemicals are used to produce spectacular visual effects and noise.

Concern over firecracker

No standards have been laid down by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) with regard to air pollution caused by the bursting of firecrackers.

Effect of firecracker

  • Aluminium powder, sulphur and potassium nitrate go into noise-making crackers, while barium nitrate (green) and strontium nitrate (red) emit light.
  • Aluminium powder is used in sparklers.
  • Chinese crackers, which use chlorate are, therefore, banned in India.
  • Colours in FIRECRACKER
    Red Strontium salts (Nitrates, carbonates and sulphates of strontium)
    Orange Calcium salts (Carbonates, chlorides and sulphates of calcium)
    Yellow Sodium salts ( Nitrates and oxalates of sodium)
    Green Barium salts (Nitrates, carbonates, chlorides and chlorates of barium)
    Blue Copper salts (Carbonates and oxides of copper)
    Purple A combination of copper and strontium compounds
    White he burning of metals like magnesium, aluminium and titanium)

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Ministry of Health releases Operational Guidelines for Planning and Implementation of Family Participatory Care

In news

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently released Operational Guidelines for Planning and Implementation of Family Participatory Care (FPC) for improving newborn health.

Details of the guidelines

  • The guidelines will serve as a guiding document for those intending to introduce FPC in their facility as an integral part of facility based newborn care.
  • The document also provides details of infrastructure, training, role of health care providers and steps in the operationalization of FPC in the newborn care unit.
  • The operational guidelines of FPC are for all stakeholders involved in the process of planning and delivering newborn care.
  • Guidelines also addresses various aspects of attitudes, infrastructural modifications and practice that will help in establishing FPC at Special Newborn Care Units (SNCU) such as sensitization of State and District Managers on FPC, prioritization of SNCUs for initiating FPC, making required infrastructural enhancement in SNCU, creating family participatory care environment in SNCU, ensuring availability of supplies for parents-attendants, training of SNCU staff for SNCU, role of healthcare providers for FPC implementation and institutional support for FPC.
  • The capacities of parents-attendants are built in newborn care through a structured training programme (audio -visual module and a training guide). The staff at a newborn care unit would provide continuous supervision and support.

Need for Care

Sick and newborn are highly vulnerable and require careful nurturing in order to survive the neonatal period and first year of life. Under National Health Mission, more than 700 state of the art Special Newborn Care Units (SNCU) have been established across the country to provide 24 X 7 comprehensive care to the newborns by dedicated trained staff.

If parents are trained, during the stay of their babies in the hospital, to provide supportive care to their sick and newborns, it will help in not only improving survival of the babies after discharge but will also provide for psycho-social and developmental needs of the newborn. In this regard, Family Participatory Care has emerged as an important concept of health care which provides for partnership between health care staff and families in care of sick newborns admitted in the SNCU.

Source : Pib

GS II : Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Post-GST, heavy sacks and small change

In News

It might have adverse consequences for the environment explained in the article.

Why GST adversely affect environment ?

  • The tax rate on recycled plastic shooting up from 5.5% to 18% post-GST, ragpicking as a livelihood is turning unviable.
  • After GST came in, the 18% tax on waste plastic has sparked a downward spiral in prices in the recycling markets.
  • Plastic recyclers, faced with the new tax, are protecting their margins by slashing prices at which they buy from thousands of waste managers and ragpickers.
  • The price of mixed plastic is down from Rs. 19 per kg to around Rs. 13 now.
  • The lower demand, coupled with the “sudden introduction of confusing taxes” has resulted in reduced purchases of waste.

Source : The Hindu

GS III : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Cabinet clears minimum wage code bill

In News

Union cabinet cleared the first of the four labour codes on wages, paving way for consolidation of more than a dozen different central labour laws dealing with wages of labourers.

Features of the Bill

  • Bill also seeks to empower the Centre to set a minimum wage across sectors, and states will have to maintain that. However, states will be able to provide higher minimum wage in their jurisdiction than fixed by the central government since labour is in the concurrent list.
  • Once approved by Parliament, even workers getting monthly pay of higher than Rs 18,000 would be legally entitled to a minimum wage ensure a universal minimum wage for all industries and workers.
  • Besides, the minimum wage will be applicable on all classes of workers. Now it made for all classes.
  • The Centre to notify a national minimum wage below which no state can fix their minimum wages and this will be revised every two years.

Under the code on wages, the labour ministry plans to streamline the definition of wages by amalgamating four wage-related statutes. These include the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. At present, there are about half a dozen definitions of wages in various acts across the Centre and states, which employers have to grapple with.

Source : ET

GS II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Policy boosts care for blood disorders

Why in News ?

People living with Thalassaemia, sickle cell anaemia and other variant haemoglobins can now look forward to better screening and treatment, based on the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry’s new policy.

Ministry released a policy on the Prevention and Control of haemoglobinopathies in India.

What is Thalassaemia, sickle cell anaemia?

Sickle cell disease and thalassemia are genetic disorders caused by errors in the genesSickle_cell_01 for hemoglobin, a substance composed of a protein (globin) plus an iron molecule (heme) that is responsible for carrying oxygen within the red blood cell. These disorders can cause fatigue, jaundice, and episodes of pain ranging from mild to very severe. They are inherited, and usually both parents must pass on an abnormal gene in order for a child to have the disease. When this happens, the resulting diseases are serious and, at times, fatal.

Thalassaemia : Is the name for a group of inherited conditions that affect a substance in the blood called haemoglobin. People with the condition produce either no or too little haemoglobin, which is used by red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. This can make them very anaemic (tired, short of breath and pale).

About the policy

  • The policy aims at creating treatment protocol benchmarks, to improve the quality of life of patients.
  • It is also a guide on prevention and control, which includes antenatal and prenatal testing to reduce the incidence of live haemoglobin disorder births (currently pegged at 10,000-15,000 live births a year).
  • Supported by the National Health Mission, Blood Cell and the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram, the guidelines provide for screening of pregnant women during antenatal check-up, pre-marital counselling at college level and one-time screening for variant anaemia in children.
  • Using public health awareness programmes and education, it highlights various haemoglobinopathies.
  • The guidelines include the creation of a national registry to plan future patient services.
  • The registry will also collect useful data, such as the location of patients to identify areas of high concentration, ethnicity or other characteristics, age distribution, records of deaths and their cause.
  • 20% of patients can afford treatment, the government should ensure that all patients get it free.
  • Such free treatment is given in States such as Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha and Karnataka besides Delhi, and others should follow suit.
  • All chelation drugs should be made available free because one drug does not suit all.

Not Address in the policy

The policy, makes no reference to carrier testing for relatives of patients. In Pakistan, a law making carrier testing compulsory for relatives of Thalassaemia patients was passed in February. A similar system is in place in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

Jaitley releases National Trade Facilitation Action Plan

Why In news ?

Finance Minister released the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan and  the WTO-Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) coming into force on February 22, 2017.

National Trade Facilitation Action Plan

Aim : To transform cross border clearance ecosystem through efficient, transparent, risk based, coordinated, digital, seamless and technology driven procedures which are supported by state-of-the-art sea ports, airports and land borders.

  • The action plan lists out specific activities which would be carried out by all regulatory agencies like Customs, FSSAI, Drug Controller.
  • It also covers many activities in the areas of infrastructure augmentation, particularly the road and rail infrastructure leading to ports and the infrastructure within ports, airports, ICDs, land customs stations that cuts across all stakeholders for which various ministries like shipping, civil aviation, railways, road transport and highways, home affairs, finance and commerce have been assigned specified targets.
  • The statement said all actions covered under the plan have been categorised by prioritising the activities into short, mid and long term.
  • National plan would be monitored by the steering committee (the operational arm of the National Committee on Trade Facilitation) chaired by the revenue secretary and the commerce secretary.

The NCTF comprises stakeholders from the government and the private sector, including trade community. The NCTF has adopted a 76-point National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP) which is a reflection of the government’s commitment to implement the TFA.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Government mulls insurance cover for digital transaction frauds

Why in news ?

The government is considering based on the recommendations of the Chandrababu Naidu committee on digital payment security, including insurance cover for the victims of fraudulent digital transactions.


  • Interim report suggested several measures for digital payment security, including an insurance scheme to cover losses incurred in digital transactions on account of fraud, etc.
  • In order to address the apprehension of the general public in adopting digital payments, the scheme should target low-ticket transactions to cover the vulnerable sections like small merchants, farmers etc.

Fraudulent digital transaction

According to the report submitted in the Parliament

  • Number of fraudulent digital transactions in comparison to the total number of digital transactions was negligible and the government was taking steps to curb those frauds.
  • Around 1,200 crore digital transactions take place annually in the country. Of these, between 0.005 per cent and 0.007 per cent are fraudulent transactions.
  • Prepaid payment instruments, including e-wallets, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has started maintaining provisional data of fraudulent transactions.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Untrained teachers get 2 years to qualify

The Lok Sabha passed a Bill that offers untrained teachers teaching in schools time till March 31, 2019, to acquire B.El. Ed (Bachelor of Elementary Education) or D. El. Ed. (Diploma in Elementary Education) qualifications to hold their jobs as teachers.

How it done ?

This was done through an amendment to the Right to Education Act, 2009, as a last chance to such teachers not to lose their jobs. The Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017 Bill will now have to pass muster in the Rajya Sabha — and get presidential assent after that — to become an Act.

Need for the Amendment

  • Many new schools had come up in the days of educational expansion under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the RTE.
  • Many teachers who were hired did not have requisite degrees, some having studied only till school.
  • They were given five years to train themselves, and many did, but 5-6 lakh private schools teachers and 2.5-lakh government school teachers still did not have the requisite degrees.
  • Qualifications are deemed necessary to ensure that teachers are well-qualified to ensure quality of education.
  • Ninety per cent untrained teachers are from eight States.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Draft Guidelines for implementation of Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana

In News

Draft guidelines for implementation of Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) have been prepared by the Ministry.

Draft Guidlines

The draft guidelines inter-alia provide Aadhaar linkage, Direct Benefit Transfer of Rs. 5000 in beneficiarys bank/post office account in three instalments at the stage of early registration of pregnancy, after six months of pregnancy on at least one antenatal check-up and registration of child birth & first cycle of immunisation of the child.

Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)

  • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
  • It is a conditional cash transfer scheme for pregnant and lactating women of 19 years of age or above for first two live births.
  • It provides a partial wage compensation to women for wage-loss during childbirth and childcare and to provide conditions for safe delivery and good nutrition and feeding practices.
  • Under which the cost sharing ratio between the Centre and the States & UTs with Legislature is 60:40, for North-Eastern States & three Himalayan States, it is 90:10 and 100% Central assistance for Union Territories without Legislature.

Source : Pib

GS II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Ministry of Rural Development to launch Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana

In News

The Ministry of Rural Development will launch a new sub-scheme under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) which will be named as Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY).

Objective of the scheme

  • The main objectives of AGEY are to provide an alternative source of livelihoods to members of Self Help Groups (SHGs) under DAY-NRLM by facilitating them to operate public transport services in backward rural areas.
  • This will provide safe, affordable and community monitored rural transport services like e-rickshaws, 3 and 4 wheeler motorised transport vehicles to connect remote villages with key services and amenities including access to markets, education and health for the overall economic development of the area.
  • The sub-scheme will be implemented in 250 blocks in the country on a pilot basis for a period of 3 years from 2017-18 to 2019-20.
  • The States have been informed about the number of blocks allocated to them to take up this sub-scheme in the pilot phases.
  • One of the options proposed to be given under the sub-scheme is that the Community Based Organisation (CBO) will provide interest free loan from its own corpus to Self Help Group member for purchase of the vehicle.

Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM)

To reduce poverty by enabling the poor households to access gainful self- employment and skilled wage employment opportunities resulting in appreciable improvement in their livelihoods on a sustainable basis, through building strong and sustainable grassroots institutions of the poor.

  • The Government is implementing DAY-NRLM across the country in all States and Union Territories (except Delhi and Chandigarh).
  • Under DAY-NRLM, till date, 34.4 lakh women SHGs have been promoted under the programme.
  • The financial support under the programme is mainly in the form of Revolving Fund and Community Investment Funds, given as grants to the Self Help Groups (SHGs) and their federations.
  • So far, the total amount released to SHGs is Rs. 1815 crore to about 3.96 lakh SHGs.
  • A sum of Rs. 1088 crore has also been disbursed to 7.28 lakh SHGs as revolving Fund.
  • DAY-NRLM also focuses on bank linkage of the institutions to enable their income.
  • The Cumulative Bank Credit mobilized for women SHGs and their federations since inception is to the tune of Rs 1.19 lakh crores.

Source : Business Standard

GS II : Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

New 8% Pension Scheme, PMVVY, Launched

Why in news ?

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has formally launched the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY), or a pension scheme, for senior citizens.

What is the aim of the scheme ?

Under this scheme, senior citizens (60 years and above) in which they will get a guaranteed interest of 8 per cent for 10 years. Pension scheme will offer more avenues to senior citizens to earn steady regular income at a time of falling interest rates. The scheme is exempted from GST or goods and services tax.

  • PMVVY can be purchased offline as well as online through Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India which has been given the sole privilege to operate this scheme.
  • The scheme will provide an assured return of 8 per cent per annum payable monthly (equivalent to 8.30 per cent per annum) for 10 years.
  • The pension is payable at the end of each period, during the policy term of 10 years, as per the frequency of monthly/ quarterly/ half-yearly/ yearly as chosen by the pensioner at the time of purchase.
  • There is a minimum and maximum limit for investment in Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana Scheme. The amount varies according to the pension payment mode chosen.
  • On survival of the pensioner to the end of the policy term of 10 years, purchase price along with final pension instalment shall be payable.
  • Loan up to 75 per cent of purchase price (amount invested to earn pension) shall be allowed after three policy years to meet the liquidity needs.
  • The scheme also allows for premature exit for the treatment of any critical/ terminal illness of self or spouse. On such premature exit, 98 per cent of the purchase price shall be refunded.
  • On death of the pensioner during the policy term of 10 years, the purchase price shall be paid to the beneficiary.

Source : Pib

GS II : Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

Half of HIV-infected get treatment now: UNAIDS

Why in news ?

The latest UNAIDS report, reveals that more than half of all People Living with HIV (PLHIV) now have access to HIV treatment. For the first time since the global onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the scales have tipped in favour of patients.

  • 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.

Condition in India

  • The majority of the cases nearly 95 per cent 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 1,50,000 people.
  • India is the country where most new HIV infections are occurring in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • While India has made big progress with new infections dropping significantly, the emergence of HIV in some locations that were earlier considered ‘not high-burden’ areas is a cause for concern.,

Why the condition of India is worsening ?

While the world seems to be on track to reach the global target of 30 million people on treatment by 2020 the report states

  1. Access to medicines remains a major barrier and India plays a special role.
  2. Insufficient availability and poor affordability of essential medicines.

Progress towards the 90–90–90 target

The idea behind the 90-90-90 target is to diagnose 90% of people who are HIV positive; get 90% of the diagnosed HIV+ people on antiretroviral treatment, and 90% of those on antiretrovirals should be virally suppressed. This is attained when an HIV+ patient’s viral load reaches an undetectable level, curbing transmission.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Nurses get pay hike

In News

Nearly three lakh nurses in private hospitals in Kerala who had been on strike for the past 22 days. Their main demand for implementation of the wage recommendations of the Supreme Court-appointed Jagdish Prasad committee had been accepted by the government.

Dr. Jagdish Prasad Committee

It found that adequate salary and basic facilities are not provided to nurses in private hospitals and nursing homes.

  • Private hospitals with number of beds ranging between 50 and 100, the salary of nurses should not be less than 25 per cent of that drawn by government nurses of the same grade.
  • The salary given to private nurses should not be less than Rs. 20,000 per month in any case even for nurses working with hospitals with less than 50 beds.
  • The working hours, medical facilities, transportation, accommodation and other benefits given to private nurses would be on a par with government nurses.

First implemented by Kerala

  • Kerala has become the first State to implement the recommendations of the committee.
  • Accordingly, the minimum salary of nurses working in hospitals with 50 beds has been fixed at ₹20,000.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

NITI Aayog moot privatisation of select services in district hospitals

In News

As a part of a radical privatisation project, the Health Ministry and the NITI Aayog have developed a framework to let private hospitals run select services within district hospitals, on a 30-year lease.

Features of the proposal

  • Prepared in consultation with the World Bank, the government will be allowing a single private partner or a single consortium of private partners to bid for space in district level hospitals, especially in tier 2 & 3 cities.
  • Under this Public Private Partnership (PPP), care for only three non-communicable diseases cardiac disease, pulmonary disease, and cancer care will be provided.
  • According to the draft model contract, private hospitals will bid for 30-year leases over portions of district hospital buildings to set up 50- or 100-bed hospitals in smaller towns across the country.
  • The State governments could lease up to five or six district hospitals within the State.
  • The State governments will give Viability Gap Funding (VGF), or one-time seed money, to private players to set up infrastructure within district hospitals.
  • The private parties and State health departments will share ambulance services, blood banks, and mortuary services.

Concerns over the proposal

  • The policy document failure to consult with key stakeholders from civil society and academia.
  • The government was handing over critical public assets without gaining anything much in return.
  • NITI Aayog has no locus standi to make health policy, which is a state subject in India.
  • A major concern about the policy is that under principles of the financial structure, the document states that there will be no reserved beds or no quota of beds for free services in these facilities.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

Killing the environmentalist

In News

A report released tells the stories of countless people who stand up to the might of multinationals, paramilitaries and even their own governments in the most dangerous countries on earth to be a defender. It also analyses why they are facing increased threats, and explores what can be done to keep activists safe.

The Report

  • Killings of defenders are not only growing, they’re spreading too.killing of land and environmental
  • In 2016, documented 200 killings across 24 countries, compared to 185 across 16 in 2015.
  • Almost 40% of those murdered were indigenous.
  • A lack of prosecutions also makes it hard to identify those responsible, but found strong evidence that the police and military were behind at least 43 killings, with private actors such as security guards and hitmen linked to 52 deaths.
  • Report says India has seen killings spike against a backdrop of heavy-handed policing and the repression of peaceful protests and civic activism.
  • Brazil, the world’s deadliest country in terms of sheer numbers killed, though Honduras remains the most dangerous country per capital over the past decade followed by Colombia and Philippines.

Suggestion made in the report for protecting defenders

  • Tackle the root causes of risk – guaranteeing communities can make free and informed choices about whether and how their land and resources are used.
  • Support and protect defenders – through specific laws, policies and practices.
  • Ensure accountability for abuses – going beyond prosecuting  those responsible for ordering or carrying out an attack, by ensuring that those actors, like international investors, who failed to support threatened defenders face consequences for their inaction.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders

Cesarean section and normal deliveries

In News

To combat the alarming rise in caesarean section operations in India, private hospitals are likely to be audited and asked to display the data of normal and C-section deliveries prominently.

Survey Report of  National Family Health Survey 2014-15 (NFHS-4)

  • C-section surgeries have doubled over the last decade across India.
  • The increase is sharp in States such as Telangana, where the decision to not conduct a normal delivery is determined by non-medical factors, such as insurance and costs.
  • C-section deliveries in the country, with 74.9% babies born this way in private hospitals.
  • Over 40% of the deliveries in Bihar were C-sections, while 58 % of the deliveries in Maharashtra were through C-section procedures.

World Health Organization guidelines, 10-15% of deliveries being C-sections is considered appropriate.

Effect of the increase in C-section

C-section surgeries have a serious impact not only on the health of the mother but also on her ability to continue work after delivery. Repeated C-section surgeries will also affect the reproductive health of a woman. The alarming percentage of C-section (sic) surgeries being conducted in private and public hospitals has been a grave cause of worry.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

Goat pox: experts call for trade curbs

In News

Reports of outbreak of goat pox in Kerala and experts have demanded restriction on goat trade from other affected States.

Goat Pox

  • Variola caprina (Goat Pox) is a contagious viral disease caused by a pox virus that affects goats.
  • The virus usually spreads via the respiratory system, and sometimes spreads through abraded skin.
  • It is most likely to occur in crowded stock. Sources of the virus include cutaneous lesions, saliva, nasal secretions and faeces.
  • The incubation period is usually between 8–13 days, but it may be as short as 4 days.

Measures to be done

  • Healthy animals should be vaccinated against goat pox.
  • Trading of animals from affected areas need to be discouraged.
  • Antibiotics can be given to control secondary bacterial infection.
  • All goat farmers need to take measures to control this epidemic which will affect the productivity and make goat rearing unsustainable.

Source : The Hindu

GS III : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

FM launches a new tax payer service module Aaykar Setu

In News 

A new tax payer service module ‘Aaykar Setu’, was launched by the Union Finance Minister.

Objective of New service

  • To enhance mobile access experience, a mobile responsive android version was also released along with the desktop version.
  • This e-initiative would help in reducing physical interface between assesses and tax assessing authorities and thereby minimizing the chances of any tax harassment.
  • Effort by the Income Tax Department (ITD) to directly communicate with the taxpayers, on a range of multiple informative and useful tax services aimed at providing tax information at their fingertips.

  • The module compiles various tax tools, live chat facility, dynamic updates, and important links to various processes within the Income Tax Department in a single module.

  • The tax payers will also be able to receive regular updates regarding important tax dates, forms and notifications on mobile numbers registered with the ITD.
  • All taxpayers who wish to receive such SMS alerts are advised to register their mobile numbers in the Aaykar Setu module.

Source : Pib

GS II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Easier access to H1N1 medicines raises fears of drug resistance

What is the concern ?

Drugs used to treat swine flu, after two such drugs Oseltamivir and Zanamivir were taken off the restrictive Schedule X of the Drugs and Comestics Rules. Now under Schedule H1, the drugs can be stocked by all chemists.

How the move will affect ?

Medical experts say these decisions could lead to misuse and eventually, severe drug resistance. Already witnessing antibiotic resistance and related hazards. Resistance built up only because antibiotics were easily available and even sold over the counter.  The move will be going the same way with antiviral drugs. Doctors will prescribe these drugs so widely that eventually it will stop working.

How the drugs Oseltamivir and Zanamivir works?

Antiviral drugs that block the actions of influenza virus types A and B in the body. While Oseltamivir is available as tablets, Zanamivir comes in powder form.

Why such a move is important ?

The H1N1 cases are on the rise, the drug will be available to patients easily.

Drugs and Comestics Rules

Drugs under Schedule X : Require three copies of prescription for the doctor, patient and chemist, and can be sold by a chemist who holds a special Schedule X licence. Also, the chemist has to preserve the prescription copy for up to three years.

Drugs Under Schedule H1 : Only one copy of the prescription is required, and drugs in this category can be sold by all chemists.

What to be done ?

Chemists will still need a prescription to sell the drug. Take medicine only as prescribed by the doctor. The doctor prescribe the drug with caution, there won’t be misuse. Central health authorities have also advised doctors to prescribe the drugs based on strong symptoms, without opting for the swab test.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources


Asmara and Hoh Xil in world heritage list of UNESCO

In News

UNESCO declared the Hoh Xil nature reserve in China’s Qinghai Province a natural heritage site and the Eritrean capital of Asmara has been listed as a Unesco world heritage site.

Eritrean Capital Asmara

  • Asmara is the capital city of Eritrea, a country in the Horn of Africa.
  • Asmara is a former Italian colony .Eritrea
  • Architects whose designs were unwelcome in conservative European cities found a place in Asmara at a time when about half of the city’s population was Italian and the city was known as Piccola Roma or Little Rome.
  • Modernist architecture of other Eritrean cities was destroyed during a decades-long war of liberation from Ethiopia, Asmara’s survived and was declared a national monument by the government in 2001.

Eritrea : Border with Sudan in the North-West, Ethiopia in the South and Djibouti in the South East. Coastal Border with Red Sea in the East.

China’s Hoh Xil

  • Hoh Xil nature reserve, an isolated region in the northwestern part located on the china Hoh XilQinghai-Tibet Plateau, is home to over 200 animal species.
  • More than 20 of them are state-protected, including the Tibetan antelope.
  • It is China’s largest world natural heritage site, covering an area of 45,000 sq. kilometers

Decision challenged by pro-Tibet activists : Giving Hoh Xil heritage status could have consequences for Tibet including the displacement of Tibetan nomads from their land.

Source : The Hindu

Prelims : Paper 1

Panel calls for ‘light regulation’ of NGOs

In News

A high-power committee appointed by the Central government on the orders of the Supreme Court has recommended several steps to ensure the light regulation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) so as to reduce their harassment.


Several have been complaining of undue or targeted harassment by the government under the IT Act and FCRA.


  • The registration procedures be modernized so as to facilitate the seamless operation of the applicable provisions of the IT (Income Tax) Act and FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) with respect to NGOs, without the need for cumbersome and intrusive processes.
  • Steps must be taken to reduce the need for a physical interface between NGOs and public officials acting under the IT Act and the FCRA, along with reduction in mutual distrust and scope for misuse.
  • The committee has drawn up a framework of guidelines for the accreditation of NGOs, audit of their accounts, and procedures to initiate action for recovering grants in case of misappropriation.
  • A nodal body to oversee the various interfaces between NGOs and the government, and has recommended that NITI Aayog be vested with the power.
  • Separate law for voluntary agencies engaged in activities of a charitable or public good nature to enable more effective and efficient regulation of the sector.
  • Recommended an overarching legislation with best practices that would replace various State-level and existing Central laws. Details of NGOs should be available as searchable database information.


The committee, headed by S. Vijay Kumar, a former Secretary in the Ministry of Rural Development, was formed as part of the Centre’s response to the ongoing writ petition filed by Manohar Lal Sharma.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders