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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

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States can’t enact law on parliamentary secretaries: SC

Why in news ?

SC ruling : state assemblies hold no power to enact a law that enables them to appoint parliamentary secretaries.

Parliamentary secretary

A Parliament Secretary is similar to a Minister of State who assists a Minister in his or her duties.

Background

The ruling while hearing pleas challenging the appointment of 13 MLAs as parliamentary secretaries by the Assam government in 2015. The verdict would also have an impact on the Aam Aadmi Party government’s decision to appoint 21 MLAs as parliamentary secretaries.

Delhi Ruling : The Delhi High Court too had quashed their appointments, saying it lacked the approval of the lieutenant governor. The matter is currently pending before the Election Commission of India. All 21 MLAs may be disqualified if the poll body finds that AAP MLAs serving as parliamentary secretaries was a case of holding an office of profit.

Assam Ruling : The bench in its 39-page verdict observed that the legislature of Assam lacked the competence to make the impugned act, and declared it unconstitutional.

Why the conflict occur ?

  • The Constitution specifies conditions which disqualify MPs, MLAs, Municipality and Panchayat members from membership of their respective institutions on the reason of holding an “Office of Profit” under the state or central government.
  • The Constitution caps the number of members in the union and state cabinet. Article 164(1A) specifies that the number of ministers including the Chief Minister has to be within 15% of the total number of members of the Assembly. (10% in the case of Delhi, which is not a ‘full’ state).

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

 

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Panel for action against farmers using herbicides on GM mustard

Backgroud

The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee’s (GEAC) sub-committee has drafted several recommendations on GM mustard before it approved the crop for commercial release. These included a proposal for legal action on farmers using the glufosinate-based herbicide (Basta) on the crop unless otherwise approved by the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee. Anti-GM activists question how effective such regulation.

Effect of glufosinate-based herbicide (Basta) on Human

Glufosinate-based herbicides act as a neurotoxin and have adverse impacts on humans, according to the U.S. National Institute of Health.


Source : The Hindu

GS III : Agriculture; Biotechnology

 

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Lingayats united in demand for separate religion status

Why in news ?

Veerashaiva/Lingayata Dharma demanded that it is an independent religion and is different from Hinduism and want independent religion status for the same.

Why they Claim a separate religion?

  • There are two main religious streams in Hinduism — Shaivas and Vaishnavas.
  • Veerashaiva is one among the seven sects of Shaivas.
  • Both Shaivas and Vaishnavas uphold Vedas, Agamas, Shastras and Puranas and follow the Vedic religious practices.
  • Historically, it is an independent religion founded by Basaveshwara in the 12th century.
  • However, Lingayat religion founded by Basaveshwara vehemently opposed them.
  • Lingayats are spread across Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and other States.
  • Community leaders, in the memorandum, asked the government not to issue caste certificate as Veerashaiva Lingayat to Lingayat community members and recommend that the Union government recognise Lingayat as an independent religion.

Source : The Hindu

GS I : Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India

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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

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Sunderbans denizen staves off extinction

Why in News ?

A critically endangered resident of the Sunderbans is set to get a new home, beginning a slow journey to recovery from a disastrous decline in the wild. It is more threatened than the Bengal tiger, but far less known.

Northern river terrapin (Batagur baska)

  • The northern river terrapin (Batagur baska) is a species of riverine turtle native toBB4 Southeast Asia.
  • It is classified Critically Endangered by the IUCN and considered extinct in much of its former range.
  • Northern river terrapin is one of Asia’s largest freshwater and brackwater turtles, reaching a carapace length of up to 60 cm and a maximum weight of 18 kg.
  • The species is currently found in Bangladesh (in the Sundarbans),  Cambodia,  India  (parts- West Bengal & Odisha),  Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • It is regionally extinct in Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Source : The Hindu

GS III : Environmental conservation

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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

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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.

Recommendations

  • 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

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India, Japan civil nuclear deal comes into force

Why in news ?

The India-Japan Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy entered into force on July 20, 2017 with the exchange of diplomatic notes.

About the deal

  • The pact was signed in Tokyo during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Japan on November 11, 2016.
  • India is the first non-member of the non-proliferation treaty (NPT)to have signed such a deal with Japan.
  • The deal will help India access Japan’s nuclear market.
  • Pave the way for enhanced cooperation in energy security and clean energy.
  • It seeks to promote full cooperation between the two countries in the development
  • It helps to use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes on a stable, reliable and predictable basis.
  • The deal is essential for bringing a network of nuclear energy cooperation for India, especially with the U.S. as prominent American nuclear companies are owned by the Japanese nuclear majors like Toshiba.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

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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.

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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.

 

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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

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First meeting of Integrated Monitoring and Advisory Council (IMAC)

Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan chaired the first meeting of apex body for policy formulation and implementation of Roadmap to achieve target of 10 % reduction in import dependency in oil and gas by 2021-22 under an institutional mechanism ‘Integrated Monitoring and Advisory Council (IMAC).

Integrated Monitoring and Advisory Council (IMAC)

  • IMAC was envisaged to facilitate better coordination and comprehensive strategy for all energy resources by focusing on supply and demand side management.
  • IMAC is consisted of Secretary, Petroleum & Natural Gas and other Senior Officers from various Ministries such as Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Urban Development, Road and Transport, Agriculture, Power/Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Rural Development, Finance, Petroleum Planning Analysis Cell, PCRA, DGH etc

Source : Pib

GS II : Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

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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

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200th anniversary celebrations of the Paika Rebellion of Odisha

Why in news ?

President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Paika Rebellion of Odisha in NewDelhi

About the Rebellion

The uprising of soldiers led by Buxi Jagabandhu (Bidyadhar Mohapatra) took place in Khurda of Odisha. The revolt came to be known as Paika rebellion.

Who are they ?

The traditional land-owning militia of Odisha and served as warriors.

Why they revolt ?

  • When armies of the East India Company overran most of Odisha in 1803, the Raja of Khurda lost his primacy and the power and prestige of the Paikas went on a decline.
  • The British were not comfortable with these aggressive, warlike new subjects and set up a commission under Walter Ewer to look into the issue.
  • The commission recommended that the hereditary rent-free lands granted to the Paikas be taken over by the British administration and this recommendation was zealously adhered to.
  • They revolted against the British.
  • However, the rebellion had several other underlying causes – like the rise in the price of salt, abolition of the cowrie currency for payment of taxes and an overtly extortionist land revenue policy.

What was the result ?

Although initially the Company struggled to respond they managed to put down the rebellion by May 1817. Many of the Paik leaders were hung or deported. Jagabandhu surrendered in 1825.


Source : Pib

GS I : Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues

Also in Prelims

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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

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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

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World’s first child hand transplant a success

In News

The first child in the world to undergo a double hand transplant is now able to write, feed and dress himself, doctors have said, declaring the ground-breaking operation a success after 18 months.

How It Done ?

  • A hand is removed from a recently deceased organ donor.Untitled
  • The bones are attached first with titanium plates, then major tendons and muscles are reconnected, before eight tiny blood vessels are connected to ensure viable blood supply.
  • Major nerves are reattached, and the large and small veins connected.
  • With blood circulating in the remaining muscles, tendons and nerves are reconnected and the skin stitched closed.

Risk Involved

Organ transplantation is risky in that a recipient’s body may reject the new body part, while the drug regime involved carries a series of health risks. Immunosuppressive drugs must be taken continuously to prevent a patient’s body from rejecting the transplant. These drugs carry risks, including diabetes, cancer and infections.


Source : The Hindu

GS II : SCIENCE AND TECH

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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

0

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

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Saraswati, a supercluster of galaxies

What is a galaxy clusters ?

galaxy cluster, or cluster of galaxies, is a structure that consists of anywhere from hundreds to thousands of galaxies that are bound together by gravity.

What are superclusters ?

supercluster is a large group of smaller galaxy clusters or galaxy groups, which is among the largest-known structures. They are the largest known gravitationally bound structures in the universe.

In News

A group of Indian astronomers have discovered a massive supercluster of galaxies, and have named it Saraswati. The supercluster is about 4 billion light years away and spreads about 600 million light years across. This makes it one of the largest superclusters to be discovered and also the furthest. The first supercluster of galaxies, the Shapley Supercluster, was discovered in 1989, and the second, the Sloan Great Wall in 2003. The Milky Way galaxy is part of the Laniakea Supercluster, which was discovered in 2014.

Significance of the discovery

There are thin “filaments” that connect galaxies, forming a cosmic web, and there are large voids in between. The current belief is that infant galaxies form in these filaments and then drift to the intersections of the filaments where they grow. The Saraswati supercluster could challenge this premise, because it had formed so early and building such a big structure far back might have been difficult.

  • When sighting a supercluster of galaxies 4 billion light years away, the observer is looking back about 4 billion years.
  • A light year is the distance travelled by light in one year.
  • Given the belief that the universe is 13.8 billion years old, the discovery implies that such a huge structure existed even when the universe was just about ten billion years old.
  • This raises questions about the formation of large structures and the nature of the universe.

Source : The Hindu

GS III : Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights

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EU, India set up fund for investments

In News

European Union (EU) and India on Friday announced the establishment of an Investment Facilitation Mechanism (IFM) for EU investments in India.

Importance of IFM

  • The mechanism will allow for a close coordination between the European Union and the Government of India with an aim to promote and facilitate EU investment in India.
  • Key objectives of paving the way for identifying and solving problems faced by EU companies and investors with regard to their operations in India.
  • IFM will cover new investors as well as those already established in India.
  • The IFM is also going to serve as a platform for discussing general suggestions from the point of view of EU companies and investors
  • IFM would boost and encourage the EU investors to avail the investment opportunities available in India.
  • EU-India aims to oppose protectionism and to work in favour of a fair, transparent and rule-based trade and investment environment.

EU investment

Trade and Investment are key elements of the EU-India Strategic Partnership launched in 2004. Along with being the first trade partner in goods and services, EU is one of the biggest provider of foreign investment in India, with a stock exceeding $81.52 billion. There are currently more than 6,000 EU companies present in India, providing direct and indirect employment to over 6 million people.


Source : The Hindu

GS II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

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APG meet on money laundering in Colombo

 

In News

Policy frameworks on checking terror financing will be one of the issues to be taken at the Asia Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering meet, in which representatives of 41 countries, including India, participate in Colombo. The APG meeting is scheduled to be held from July 17 to 21.

Important discussion on

The Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) initiatives on curbing money laundering and terror funding in different parts of the world will also be discussed. Among the participating member countries are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Maldives, United States, Australia, Canada, China and Pakistan.

Major Concerns

  • Held in the backdrop of a spurt in terrorist activities, would also be attended by representatives of the Philippines, where security forces are currently engaged in a fierce battle with Islamic State-linked militants.
  • Indian agencies have taken strong measures and registered several terror financing cases in the recent past.
  • Following allegations of its failure in controlling the funding of terror outfits, the International Cooperation Review Group of FATF had requested the APG to furnish a follow-up report on Pakistan.

Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering

  • Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) style regional body for the Asia/Pacific region.
  • It is an inter-governmental (international) organisation founded in 1997 in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • The APG consists of 41 member jurisdictions and a number of observer jurisdictions and international/regional observer organisations.
  • Objectives of the organization : assessing anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism, supporting implementation of the international standards, conducting research and analysis into money laundering and terrorist financing trends and methods.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

0

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

0

China sends PLA unit to man overseas base

In News

China has dispatched People’s Liberation Army (PLA) personnel to man its first overseas military base at Djibouti in the strategic Indian Ocean region, a move likely to spark concerns in the U.S.

Why China establish military base ?

  • The establishment of the PLA Djibouti base was a decision made by the twoDjibouti countries after friendly negotiations, and accords with the common interest of the people from both sides.
  • The base will ensure China’s performance of missions, such as escorting, peace-keeping and humanitarian aid in Africa and West Asia.
  • The base will also conduct overseas tasks, including military cooperation, joint exercises, evacuating and protecting overseas Chinese and emergency rescue, as well as jointly maintaining security of international strategic seaways.

Concerns about the overseas military base at Djibouti

Deployment of troops in Djibouti in the strategic Indian Ocean region is likely  spark concerns in the US and India. The base could spark concerns in India as it is located in the strategic Indian Ocean region. The move to set up base in Djibouti is also likely to raise concerns in the US as the military base is just a few kilometres from Camp Lemonnier.


Source : The Hindu

GS II : India and its neighborhood- relations