15th February, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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(GS2: Issues relating to health)
Issue: The government is mulling a price cap on hip implants, this comes after the price caps on other medical devices such stents and knee implants
Some more info on:
Hip replacement is a surgical procedure in which the hip joint is replaced by a prosthetic implant, that is, a hip prosthesis. Hip replacement surgery can be performed as a total replacement or a hemi (half) replacement. Such joint replacement orthopedic surgery is generally conducted to relieve arthritis pain or in some hip fractures.
National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)
NPPA is an organization of the Government of India which was established, inter alia, to fix/ revise the prices of controlled bulk drugs and formulations and to enforce prices and availability of the medicines in the country, under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995. The organization is also entrusted with the task of recovering amounts overcharged by manufacturers for the controlled drugs from the consumers. It also monitors the prices of decontrolled drugs in order to keep them at reasonable levels. Its parent department is Ministry of Chemical and Fertilizers
Other important programme conducted by Ministry of Chemical and Fertilizers include:
Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi PariYojana Kendra (PMBJPK) is a campaign launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Govt. Of India, to provide quality medicines at affordable prices to the masses through special kendras known as Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendra. Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana Kendra (PMBJPK) has been set up to provide generic drugs, which are available at lesser prices but are equivalent in quality and efficacy as expensive branded drugs. BPPI (Bureau of Pharma Public Sector Undertakings of India) has been established under the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Govt. of India, with the support of all the CPSUs for co-coordinating procurement, supply and marketing of generic drugs through Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendra
‘Credit rating agencies and India’
(GS2: Indian Economy)
Issue: The lack of recognition of India’s economic achievements and its non-correlation with its sovereign rating is an issue that rankles with most Indian economists. Such lack of recognition by global credit rating agencies does not inspire a healthy investment environment
Flaws in current credit rating agencies
- Conflict of interest vis-à-vis their non-rating activities
- Structural flaws
- Failure to predict East Asian Crisis or 2008 Sub-prime Mortgage crisis
- Frequent allegations of improper and inaccurate ratings
Way out of this situation
- Preference for indigenous rating agencies
- Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) should explore norms so that credit rating agencies do not provide non-rating advisory services to their clients
- A fixed operating model should be explored
- Outstanding and sudden downgrades need to be subjected to greater supervision
- A transform of ‘issuer-pays’ model to ‘investor-pays’ model
‘Stunting’ problem in children’
(GS2: Issues relating to health)
Issue: Recent studies conducted in Bangladesh and Kenya show that improved and better access to Toilets have not corresponded to a decline in stunting issue in children
Study’s relevance to India
It is estimated that every one in four children in India suffer from stunting. There are various reasons for it. One of the most prominent one is open defecation. It is estimated that still 50% of households in India do not have access to proper toilets. Poor sanitation plays a greater role in stunting, because faecal bacteria and parasites deprive the child of nutrition. This leads to the development of a weak immune system which adversely affect the demographic dividend of our country in the long run
Programmes such as ‘Swach Bharat Abhiyaan’ though want to reverse this trend but they are coming short of meeting their objectives because of not addressing the deep seated cultural belief on open defecation
Stunting situation in India
It is defined as the percentage of children, aged 0 to 59 months, whose height for age is below minus two standard deviations (moderate and severe stunting) and minus three standard deviations (severe stunting) from the median of the WHO Child Growth Standards.
In India, 38 per cent of children younger than five years of age are stunted, a manifestation of chronic under nutrition. Stunting and other forms of under-nutrition are thought to be responsible for nearly half of all child deaths globally.
Stunting is associated with an underdeveloped brain, with long-lasting harmful consequences, including diminished mental ability and learning capacity, poor school performance in childhood, reduced earnings and increased risks of nutrition-related chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity in future.
While India’s economy has been growing at impressive rate, the country still has the highest number of stunted children in the world, (46.8 million children) representing one-third of the global total of stunted children under the age of five.
Stunting starts from pre-conception when an adolescent girl and who later becomes mother is undernourished and anaemic; it worsens when infants’ diets are poor, and when sanitation and hygiene are inadequate. It is irreversible by the age of two. Child survival and health is inseparably connected to reproductive and, maternal health.
As high as 70 per cent of adolescent girls in India are anaemic and half of adolescents are below the normal body mass index, which has an impact on the health of their future pregnancies and children. Preventing stunting is critical to survival in the immediate term, and in the longer-term, to ensure healthy, well-educated and productive adults. Tackling this insidious disease and vicious cycle is a critical aim for UNICEF India
Details about some programmes aiming to promote hygienic habits among the population
WASH is an acronym that stands for “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene“. Universal, affordable and sustainable access to WASH is a key public health issue within international development and is the focus of Sustainable Development Goal 6.
Several international development agencies assert that attention to WASH can also improve health, life expectancy, student learning, gender equality, and other important issues of international development. Access to WASH includes safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene education. This can reduce illness and death, and also reduce poverty and improve socio-economic development.
Lack of sanitation contributes to about 700,000 child deaths every year due to diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea can have long-term negative effects on children, in terms of both physical and cognitive development. In addition, lack of WASH facilities can prevent students from attending school, impose an unusual burden on women and reduce work productivity.
In 2015 the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that “1 in 3 people, or 2.4 billion, are still without sanitation facilities” while 663 million people still lack access to safe and clean drinking water.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) (or Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM)
It is a campaign in India that aims to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India’s cities, smaller towns, and rural areas. The objectives of Swachh Bharat include eliminating open defecation through the construction of household-owned and community-owned toilets and establishing transparent mechanism of monitoring toilet use. Run by the Government of India, the mission aims to achieve an Open-Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2 October 2019, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, by constructing 12 million toilets in rural India at a projected cost of ₹1.96 lakh crore (US$30 billion). The mission will also contribute to India reaching Sustainable Development Goal Number 6 (SDG 6).
The mission contains two sub-missions: Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (“Gramin” or rural), which operates under the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation; and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Urban), which operates under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
The mission includes ambassadors and activities such as national real-time monitoring and updates from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as The Ugly Indian, Waste Warriors and SwaCH Pune (Solid Waste Collection and Handling) that are working towards its ideas of Swachh Bharat.
‘Middle Paleolithic culture in India’
(GS1: Ancient Indian history)
Issue: A recent study published is of the view that small tools found in Attirampakam site near Chennai were made at the site way before stones which were made by the Africans.
About Attirampakam site:
Attirampakkam forms one of the classic sites in the history of Indian Palaeolithic archaeology. Discovered by the British geologist Robert Bruce Foote in 1863 (Foote 1866), it was sporadically investigated for over a century. Significant conceptual developments in Indian prehistory and Quaternary studies had their origin in research at this site
Ongoing excavations aim at establishing the nature of hominid activities at the site, the environmental context of the site, and the age of the assemblages. These discoveries will be situated within the broader regional setting and would be able to contribute towards the study of early hominid behavior during the Middle and Late Pleistocene in South Asia
Excavations have revealed a multicultural site with stratified Lower, Middle and Upper Palaeolithic deposits in well-preserved primary contexts. Various smaller tools have been excavated from this region. The oldest hand axe can be found in this site
‘International Conference for reconstruction of Iraq’
(GS2: Global groupings)
Issue: India has announced that it will play its part in the reconstruction of Iraq at Kuwait International Conference for reconstruction of Iraq
Areas in which India has shown interest:
- Projects in petrochemicals
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India had imposed duty of up to $613 per tonne on the import for 5 years. The directorate General of Anti-Dumping and allied duties has initiated the review investigation.
What are Anti-Dumping duties?
Anti-dumping duty is a measure to correct the situation arising out of the dumping of goods and its distorting effect on domestic producers of similar goods. Rapid industrialization has resulted in large-scale production and in this situation dumping enables the producer to establish a dominant position in the market. This is common in international commercial practice for export prices to be lower than the domestic ones. Therefore there is nothing inherently immoral about the practice of dumping. However, when dumping causes or threatens to cause, material injury to the domestic industry it is viewed gravely. “Dumping” means export of goods by one territory to the market of another territory at a price lower than the normal value. If the export price is lower than the normal value, it constitutes dumping. Therefore, there are two fundamental parameters used for determination of dumping, namely, the export price and the normal value.
The Rules and regulations also provide for the timing of the imposition of anti-dumping duties, the duration of such duties, and oblige Designated Authority to periodically review the continuing need for anti-dumping duties and price undertakings. It is also provided at its discretion, take anti-dumping actions at the request of a third country, which is a member of the World Trade Organization. The anti-dumping procedures are based on an application made by the concerned domestic industry to die Designated Authority in the Department of Commerce for an investigation into alleged dumping of a product into India.
(GS3: Science and Technology)
Issue: The Centre, through its company Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), is planning to replicate its success in the LED space in the commercial sector by creating a market for low-cost, energy-efficient motors
Need for an efficient energy system at industries
About 30-34% of the total energy consumption goes to the industrial sector, which is a substantial amount. And out of that, about 70% is electrical energy consumption.” Most of this electricity consumption is due to the use of motor-driven systems. One can address the efficiency issues in the entire system or as at the sub-assembly level, which is at the motor level. EESL has so far been able to create motors in the capacity range of 1.1 KW to 22 KW that are 30% cheaper and result in an average of 15% lower electricity usage.
The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion has issued a quality assurance guidance that says that manufacturers will have to supply a minimum energy performance standard adhering to the ‘International Efficiency-2. The EESL motors are of the IE-3 level, which save between 7% to 23% of electricity compared with the current industry standard, depending on the application.
About 99% of the motors being used are IE-1 or non-IE. Phase 1 of the nation-wide programme would seek to replace 1.2 lakh motors of the capacity of 1.1-22 KW, which would save 175 million units of electricity. There are in total about 11 million motors that can be replaced, which works out to about 15 billion units of electricity being saved. This can lead to 6,000 MW of capacity reduction.
Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is an energy service company (ESCO) of the Government of India and is the world’s largest public ESCO. It is 100% government owned a joint venture of state-owned NTPC Limited, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation and POWERGRID. EESL was formed under India’s Ministry of Power to facilitate energy efficiency projects. Innovative business and implementation models can significantly reduce consumption and costs. EESL also acts as the resource centre for capacity building of state electricity distribution companies, electricity regulatory commissions (ERCs), state-designated agencies (SDAs), upcoming ESCOs, financial institutions, etc.
It is backed by and promoters, and has net worth of over INR 2.144 billion. India’s energy efficiency market is estimated at US$12 billion.
‘Rural Health care Delivery’
(GS2: Issues relating to health)
Issue: Digitization has crept into rural work as well. It is no longer uncommon to see a teacher in a far-flung government school using a digital solution to track student attendance, or a farmer consulting an app for crop-specific information. ASHA (accredited social health activist), AWW (anganwadi worker) and ANM (auxiliary nurse midwife). These three women drive delivery of health and nutrition services in villages across India too use digital technology to solve problems
The ANMOL-ANM online app for ANMs was developed by the ministry of health and family welfare, with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund. It enables ANMs to carry out functions such as growth monitoring, logistics planning and reporting in an informed manner. The common application software developed by the women and child development ministry for AWWs and now part of the National Nutrition Mission is another excellent example. It enables real-time access to information about the health of women and children in high malnutrition burden districts.
The need of the hour is to make sure a platform is created to share these data with everyone and ensure an integrated to serve that purpose