01 st August, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
(DOWNLOAD THE PDF AT THE END OF THIS PAGE)
‘Air Pollution’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Multiple studies have documented the toll that poor air quality takes on our lungs and overall health.
In Bengaluru, rising air pollution has resulted in an increase in the prevalence of chronic cough among children and teenagers aged under 18.
What the data says?
- Over the last 18 years, the number of children afflicted with chronic cough has risen from 8% in 1999 to 21.25% in 2017
- Almost 23% of all global deaths are linked to environment pollution
Air pollution in India
Air pollution in India is a serious issue with the major sources being fuel-wood and biomass burning, fuel adulteration, vehicle emission and traffic congestion. In autumn and winter months, large scale crop residue burning in agriculture fields – a low cost alternative to mechanical tilling – is a major source of smoke, smog and particulate pollution. India has low per capita emissions of greenhouse gases but the country as a whole is the third largest after China and the United States. A 2013 study on non-smokers has found that Indians have 30% lower lung function compared to Europeans
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was passed in 1981 to regulate air pollution and there have been some measurable improvements. However, the 2016 Environmental Performance Index ranked India 141 out of 180 countries
The Global Burden of Disease Study for 2010, published in 2013, had found that outdoor air pollution was the fifth-largest killer in India and around 620,000 early deaths occurred from air pollution-related diseases in 2010. According to a WHO study, 13 of the 20 most-polluted cities in the world are in India
‘Core Industry Growth’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Core industrial growth accelerated in June to 6.7% on the back of a surge in the petroleum products and steel sectors, according to official data released
What the data says?
Petroleum products saw 12.06% growth in June 2018, up from 4.94% in May. The sector saw 6.6% growth in the April-June quarter. The steel sector also witnessed significant acceleration in growth to 4.42% from 0.7% in May. The sector saw a 2.9% year-on-year growth in the quarter. Growth in the coal sector slowed to 11.5% in June from 12.16% in May, while the crude oil and natural gas sectors both contracted, by 3.4% and 2.74%, respectively, in June.
This growth in the core industry data can be explained by two factors
- Government investment in infrastructure projects is going up, driving industries such as steel.
- Petroleum products are mainly exported and the drive to increase exports would be pushing this up
What are Core industries?
The Eight Core Industries comprise 40.27 per cent of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
- Coal production (weight: 10.33 per cent)
- Cement production (weight: 5.37 per cent)
- Steel production (weight: 17.92 per cent)
- Fertilizers production (weight: 2.63 per cent)
- Petroleum Refinery production (weight: 28.04 per cent)
- Natural Gas production (weight: 6.88 per cent)
- Crude Oil production (weight: 8.98 per cent)
- Electricity generation (weight: 19.85 per cent)
‘Safeguard Duty’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Centre on Monday issued a notification putting into effect a safeguard duty of 25% on import of solar cells from China and Malaysia between July 30, 2018, and July 29, 2019.
The decision by the government follows a long deliberation by the Directorate General of Trade Remedies, which recommended the safeguard duty structure after considering an application by Indian solar cell manufacturers.
What is Safeguard duty?
When imports of a particular product, as a result of tariff concessions or other WTO obligations undertaken by the importing country, increase unexpectedly to a point that they cause or threaten to cause serious injury to domestic producers of like or directly competitive products, a safeguard which is a form of temporary relief is used. Safeguards give domestic producers a period of grace to become more competitive vis-à-vis imports.
If this happens, the government of the importing country may suspend the concession or obligation, but will be expected to provide compensation by offering some other concession. Otherwise, the affected WTO member(s) can retaliate by withdrawing equivalent concessions. Industries or companies often request safeguard action by their governments.
The Agreement on Safeguards sets out the rules for application of safeguard measures and requirements for safeguard investigations by national authorities. The Agreement emphasizes transparency and avoidance of arbitrariness through laying down rules. The goal of the Agreement is to encourage structural adjustment on the part of the industries adversely affected by increased imports, thereby enhancing competition in international markets.
The Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties was constituted in April 1998 under Ministry of Commerce and Industry and is headed by the Designated Authority.
The role of DGAD is to ensure a level playing field to the Domestic Industry against the adverse impact of the unfair trade practices like dumping and actionable subsidies from any exporting country, by using Trade Remedial methods under relevant framework of WTO arrangements, Customs Tariff Act & Rules and other relevant laws and International agreements, in a transparent and time bound manner. Thus, the responsibility of the Directorate extends to carrying out investigations and recommending, where required, the amount of Anti-dumping/Countervailing Duty on the identified articles as would be adequate to remove injury to the domestic industry, under the Customs Tariff Act and Rules.
The major Functions being carried out by DGAD are as given below:
- Conducting Anti-Dumping investigations
- Conducting Anti-subsidy (Countervailing Duty) investigations
- Conducting Anti-Circumvention investigations
- Defending Indian exporters from various countervailing duty investigations carried out by foreign agencies.
‘Soil Fertility’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: A dedicated scheme on “Soil Health Card” has been launched to take care of Soil Health for the first time in a uniform manner to evaluate the soil fertility across the country by the GOI in cooperation with state governments
About Soil Health Card (SHC)
Soil Health Card contains the status of soils with respect to 12 parameters, namely – N, P, K (Macro-nutrients), S (Secondary-nutrients), Zn, Fe, Cu, Mn, B (Micro-nutrients) and pH, EC, OC (Physical Parameters). It also provides crop wise fertilizer recommendations. Soil Health Card helps farmers to improve productivity by maintaining soil health. SHC also promotes the judicious use of the fertilizers thus reducing the cost of cultivation.
Soil health card provides information to the farmers on fertility status of their soils to enables them to apply soil health card based recommended dosages of fertilizers including micro-nutrients, bio-fertilizers, manures as well as soil ameliorants so as to check the declining fertility of agriculture land and improve the fertility of soils to increase productivity across the country including Maharashtra besides enhancing farmers income.
‘’Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: Due to the improved features of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), the scheme has been received very well and has been opted for by 27 States and Union Territories in one or more seasons since inception.
About the scheme
PMFBY is an actuarial premium based scheme under which farmer has to pay maximum premium of 2% for Kharif, 1.5% for Rabi food & oilseed crops and 5% for annual commercial/horticultural crops and remaining part of the actuarial/bidded premium is shared equally by the Centre and State Government. One of the objectives of the scheme is to facilitate prompt claims settlement. Towards this the scheme guidelines provide that claims must be settled within two months of harvest subject to timely provision of both yield data and share of premium subsidy by the State Government.
‘Common Service Centre’ (GS2: Governance)
Issue: Common Service Center (CSC) and National Health Accounts (NHA) signed an MoU to implement the Ayushman Bharat scheme through 3 lakh Common Service Centers (CSCs) across the country
About the scheme
Ayushman Bharat is National Health Protection Scheme, which will cover over 10 crore poor vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage of up to 5 lakh rupees (per family per year) for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization.
Benefits to Citizens through CSC Centres
- MoH&FW and CSC came forward to implement the scheme through CSC centres.
- Beneficiary can visit the nearby CSCs across India to get the benefit of this scheme.
CSCs will help a beneficiary to identify his name in the MoH&FW database and his entitlement for the scheme.
- CSCs will help beneficiary to scan/upload his KYC documents for verification of his/her identity and claim his/her entitlement.
- Beneficiary will have facility to print his/her Ayushman Scheme card through csc centres which will be his base source claim.
- CSCs will also provide requisite information about the scheme and promote it among citizens so that maximum number of beneficiaries can avail the benefit.
- CSCs will get Rs 30 inclusive of tax for supporting beneficiary, identification, documents upload and printing a laminated card.
- Beneficiary will visit nearby CSC centre to get check his/her entitlement for Ayushman Bharat Scheme
- CSC Centre will check entitlement of the beneficiary and upload the requisite details and documents like Aadhaar Card, Ration Card, PAN Number and others.
- CSC Centre will submit the details for verification to approver/state authority for verification and approval.
- Beneficiary will get a printed card on a paper from CSC Centre.
- This card can be used at hospitals to claim the benefits under Ayushman Bharat Abhiyan.
‘Lifestyle diseases in India’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and other Institutes conduct studies on lifestyle disease. According to ICMR India State-Level Disease Burden Study report “India: Health of the Nation’s States”, the estimated proportion of all deaths due to Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) has increased from 37.09% in 1990 to 61.8% in 2016.
What the data says?
- As per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS); 2015-16, 11% of women (1 in 10) and 15% of men (1 in 7) of age 15-49 are hypertensive.
- As per ICMR’s cancer registry data, the estimated incidences of cancer patients in India are rapidly increasing
Government’s effort to combat this challenge
The Government has formulated the National Health Policy, 2017, which aims attainment of the highest possible level of good health and well-being for all at all ages, through a preventive and promotive health care orientation in all the developmental policies, and universal access to good quality health care services without anyone having to face financial hardship as a consequence. The policy seeks to move away from Sick- care to Wellness, with thrust on prevention and Health promotion. The policy, inter alia, seeks to reduce premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory diseases.
Government of India is also implementing National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) under the National Health Mission. The objective of the programme includes awareness generation for Cancer prevention, screening, early detection and referral to an appropriate level institution for treatment. For Cancer, the focus is on three Cancer namely breast, cervical and oral.
Further, for early diagnosis, population level initiative of prevention, control and screening of common NCDs (diabetes, hypertension and cancers viz. oral, breast and cervical cancer) has been rolled out in over 150 districts of the country in 2017-18 under NHM, as a part of comprehensive primary healthcare. This initiative will not only help in early diagnosis but also will generate awareness on risk factors of common NCDs.
Under PradhanMantriSwasthyaSurakshaYojana(PMSSY), 6 new AIIMS have been set up and upgradation of identified medical colleges has been undertaken which will also improve tertiary care facilities for NCDs including Diabetes.
In collaboration with the Ministry of AYUSH, an initiative to use the knowledge available in AYUSH system of medicines for prevention and control of Non-communicable Diseases is being implemented in 6 districts on pilot basis.