Re-Designation Of National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHSRC)
The Ministry of Health in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) formally announced the re-designation of National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHSRC), as the WHO Collaborating Centre for Priority Medical Devices and Health Technology Policy.
Parent programme: National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHSRC) has been set up under the National Health Mission (NHM) of Government of India to serve as an apex body for technical assistance.
Established in: 2006.
Mandate: To assist in policy and strategy development in the provision and mobilization of technical assistance to the states and in capacity building for the Ministry of Health at the centre and in the states.
Administration: It has a 23 member Governing Body, chaired by the Secretary, Ministry of Health, Government of India.
House Building Advance (HBA)
The rate of interest on House Building Advance (HBA) has been reduced by the Centre from existing 8.5% to 7.9% for a period of one year, irrespective of the loan amount of HBA. This will be with effect from 01st October 2019. The move aims at boosting housing demand.
The scheme of HBA to Central Government Employees is aimed as a welfare measure providing assistance to the Government employees to construct/acquire house/flats of their own.
HBA is admissible to permanent employees of the Central Government and all those temporary employees also who have rendered 5 years of continuous service.
The scheme was first launched in 1956.
The Ministry of Urban Development is the nodal Ministry for implementing the same. The Ministry also formulates the rules pertaining to House Building Advance.
The Ministries/Departments are delegated powers to sanction HBA to their employees in accordance with the HBA rules.
Dearness Allowance (or DA)
The Union Cabinet decided to increase the Dearness Allowance (or DA) that it pays its current employees and existing pensioners by 5 percentage points.
What is it? The Dearness Allowance (or DA) is provided by the government to its employees to cushion the impact of the rising cost of living. Inflation (or rate of increase in prices) eats away the buying power of money; hence the justification for DA.
Methodology: To calculate DA, the government typically uses the All India Consumer Price Index-based inflation rate as a broad marker. For greater effectiveness, the DA is revised twice a year.
The Union Cabinet decided to increase the DA that it pays its current employees and existing pensioners by 5 percentage points. Accordingly, 50 lakh central government employees and 65 lakh pensioners will henceforth receive 17% of their basic salary as DA instead of 12%.
Impact on economy:
An increase in DA provides additional money in the hands of government employees. If all this additional money is spent, it will have a positive impact on the consumption demand, which the biggest problem in the economy right now.
However, this money will come out of the government’s coffers, which will hit the resources available with the government, it will constrain economic activity.
2019 Nobel Prize for Literature
Austria’s Peter Handke won the 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature, and the postponed 2018 award went to Polish author Olga Tokarczuk.
Austria’s Peter Handke won the 2019 prize for “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience,” the Academy said in a statement.
Polish author Olga Tokarczuk won the 2018 prize – delayed by one year after a sexual assault scandal rocked the award-giving Academy – for “a narrative imagination that with encyclopaedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life.”
Olga Tokarczuk, the 15th woman to win the Nobel Literature Prize, also won the International Booker Prize in 2018.
Diluting Special And Differential (S&D) Treatment Provisions
India along with several others countries, including China and African nations, has cautioned against diluting special and differential (S&D) treatment provisions related to developing countries under WTO rules, saying it would lead to “intractable deadlock” at the WTO.
The WTO agreements contain special provisions which give developing countries special rights and allow other members to treat them more favourably. These are “special and differential treatment provisions” (abbreviated as S&D or SDT).
The special provisions include:
longer time periods for implementing agreements and commitments
measures to increase trading opportunities for these countries
provisions requiring all WTO members to safeguard the trade interests of developing countries
support to help developing countries build the infrastructure to undertake WTO work, handle disputes, and implement technical standard
provisions related to least-developed country (LDC) members
Designation: Currently, any WTO member can designate itself as a developing country and avail these benefits. The US had submitted its suggestions to the WTO which states that self-declaration puts the WTO on a path to failed negotiations and it is also a path to institutional irrelevance.
In the Doha Declaration, ministers agreed that all special and differential treatment provisions should be reviewed, in order to strengthen them and make them more precise, effective and operational.
C40 World Mayors’ Summit
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called off his visit to Copenhagen to attend the C40 World Mayors’ Summit after he failed to receive the mandatory clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
C40 is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change.
The C40 group was started in 2005 by the then Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone.
It has 96 members at present, representing over 70 crore people, and one-quarter of the global economy. The cities from India that are part of the C40 are Delhi NCR, Bengaluru, Jaipur, and Kolkata.
C40 World Mayors’ Summit:
The C40 World Mayors’ Summit is a three-day conference where city leaders from around the world share ideas on green urban development.
The summit is being held in Copenhagen (Denmark’s capital) and attendees include mayors representing over 90 cities from around the world.
Over the past decade, C40 has convened six Mayors Summits, hosted by London (2005), New York (2007), Seoul (2009), Sao Paulo (2011), Johannesburg (2014) and Mexico City (2016).
Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan (SUMAN)
Union Minister for Health along with several State Health Ministers launched Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan (SUMAN) initiative for Zero Preventable Maternal and Newborn Deaths.
The initiative aims at assuring dignified, respectful and quality health care at no cost and zero tolerance for denial of services for every woman and newborn visiting the public health facility in order to end all preventable maternal and newborn deaths.
Under it, pregnant women, mothers up to 6 months after delivery, and all sick newborns will be able to avail free healthcare benefits. The government will also provide free transport from home to health institutions.
The pregnant women will have a zero expense delivery and C-section facility in case of complications at public health facilities.
Wide range of reforms” to boost Goods and Services Tax (GST)
The GST Council has set up a committee of Central and State tax officers to look into a “wide range of reforms” to boost Goods and Services Tax (GST) revenue collection.
Background: This development took place ten days after the collection for the month of September was found to dip to ₹91,916 crore, the lowest after February 2018. The Government has set a target of collecting over ₹1 lakh crore every month during the current fiscal.
Officers from the Centre will include Joint Secretary (Revenue), Principal Commissioner (GST PW), Joint Secretary (Tax Research Unit), Additional Director General (ARM) and Additional Director General (Systems).
SGST (State Goods & Services Tax) Commissioner from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Punjab will represent the States. Any other State could also join the committee on a voluntary basis.
Areas to be considered by the committee include: Changes in GST including checks and balances to prevent misuse, measures to improve voluntary compliance, measures for expansion of tax base and anti-evasion measures using better data analytics and better administrative coordination.
Timeline: The panel has been asked to submit the report within 15 days.
Global Competitiveness Report
The latest edition of the Global Competitiveness Report ranks India at 68th position among 141 countries – that’s 10 ranks below its 2018 position in the same index.
The annual Global Competitiveness Index is compiled by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF).
It was first launched in 1979. This is the fourth version of the global competitiveness index – hence referred to as GCI 4.0 – and it was introduced in 2018.
GCI maps the factors that determine the Total Factor Productivity (TFP) in a country.
The GCI 4.0 maps the competitiveness landscape of 141 economies through 103 indicators organised into 12 pillars which are further divided into 4 broad categories namely (1) Enabling Environment, (2) Human Capital, (3) Markets and (4) Innovation Ecosystem.
A country’s performance on the GCI results is reported as a ‘progress score’ on a 0-to-100 scale, where 100 represents the ‘frontier’, an ideal state where an issue ceases to be a constraint to productivity growth”.
Singapore has become the world’s most competitive economy in 2019, pushing the US to the second place.
Hong Kong SAR is ranked 3rd, Netherlands is 4th and Switzerland is ranked 5th.
India’s 2019 overall score (61.4) fell by merely 0.7 when compared to its 2018 score. But this slippage was enough for it to slide down 10 ranks in the list to 68th position.
India is among the worst-performing BRICS nations along with Brazil (ranked even lower than India at 71 this year). India trails China (28th, 73.9) by 40 places and 14 points.
Within South Asia, it is the best performer and is followed by Sri Lanka (84th), Bangladesh (105th), Nepal (108th) and Pakistan (110th).
India is ranked second globally for shareholder governance, third in terms of the market size and third in terms of renewable energy regulation.
The ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) in association with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Deendayal Research Institute is developing a POSHAN atlas under POSHAN abhiyan.
About the POSHAN Atlas:
Aim: to map the crops and food grains grown in different regions of the country so that nutritious protein rich food in local areas can be promoted.
Need for and significance of the atlas:
According to the World Bank Global Nutrition Report – 2018, malnutrition costs India at least $10 billion annually in terms of lost productivity, illness and death and is seriously retarding improvements in human development and further reduction of childhood mortality.
The solution to tackling malnutrition lies in promoting regional cropping patterns and embracing local food that are rich in protein. The atlas will help tackle malnutrition effectively.
What else is needed?
Community Management of Acute Malnutrition is a proven approach to manage severe acute malnutrition and moderate acute malnutrition in children under five. It involves timely detection of acutely malnourished children in the community and provision of treatment for those without medical complications with nutrient-dense foods at home.
Recommendations to solve malnutrition by Food and Nutrition Security Analysis, India, 2019:
Recommendations are grouped by the three pillars of food security: availability, access and utilisation.
Encourage and incentivise agricultural diversification.
Promote innovative and low-cost farming technologies.
Increase the irrigation coverage and enhance knowledge of farmers in areas such as appropriate use of land and water.
The government should improve policy support for improving agricultural produce of traditional crops in the country.
The targeting efficiency of all food safety nets should be improved, especially that of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), to ensure that the poorest are included.
Fortificationof government-approved commodities within the social safety net programmes can improve nutritional outcomes.
Child feeding practices should be improved in the country, especially at the critical ages when solid foods are introduced to the diet.
Storage capacity should be improved to prevent post-harvest losses.
All the major welfare programmes need to be gender sensitive.
Funds for food to all yield great returns and help in unlocking the full potential of citizens besides strengthening the workforce.
National Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy Survey
National Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy Survey report for 2015-19 has been released.
The survey – conducted during 2015-2019 by Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (New Delhi) and released by the health ministry.
Prevalence of diabetes in India has been recorded at 11.8% in the last four years with almost same percentage of men and women suffering from the disease.
The prevalence of diabetes among males was 12%, whereas among females it was 11.7%. Highest prevalence of diabetes (13.2%) was observed in the 70-79 years’ age group.
The prevalence of any form of diabetic retinopathy (DR) in diabetic population aged up to 50 years was found to be 16.9%.
Prevalence of blindness among diabetics was 2.1% and visual impairment was 13.7%.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO):
There are estimated 72.96 million cases of diabetes in adult population of India.
The prevalence in urban areas ranges between 10.9%-14.2% and prevalence in rural India is at 3.0-7.8% among population aged 20 years and above with a much higher prevalence among individuals aged over 50 years.
Diabetes and diabetic retinopathy have been emerging as a significant non-communicable disease leading to ocular morbidity (blindness). It is estimated that diabetic retinopathy was responsible for 1.06% of blindness and 1.16% of visual impairment globally in 2015.