G7 backs extension of debt freeze
G7 finance ministers has backed an extension of a G20 bilateral debt relief initiative for the world’s poorest countries, but said it must be revised to address shortcomings hindering implementation.
About the G20 bilateral debt relief initiative:
G20 nations, in April this year, agreed to freeze bilateral government loan repayments for low-income countries until the end of the year as part of a plan to tackle the health and economic crises triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and prevent an emerging markets debt crunch.
The group also called on private creditors “to participate in the initiative on comparable terms” and asked multilateral development banks, such as the IMF and World Bank, “to further explore the options for the suspension of debt service payments over the suspension period”.
What is G7?
The G7, originally G8, was set up in 1975 as an informal forum bringing together the leaders of the world’s leading industrial nations.
The summit gathers leaders from the European Union (EU) and the following countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
How did G7 become G8?
Russia was formally inducted as a member in the group in 1998, which led G7 to become G8.
However, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s condemnable act of moving Russian troops into eastern Ukraine and conquering Crimea in 2014 drew heavy criticism from the other G8 nations.
The other nations of the group decided to suspend Russia from the G8 as a consequence of its actions and the group became G7 again in 2014.
Domestic Systemically Important Insurers (D-SIIs)
Three insurers- Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC) and New India Assurance Co.- have been recognised as Domestic Systemically Important Insurers (D-SIIs) for 2020-21.
Insurance Regulator and Development Authority of India (IRDAI).
What are D- SIIs?
D-SIIs refer to insurers of such size, market importance and domestic and global inter-connectedness whose distress or failure would cause a significant dislocation in the domestic financial system.
D-SIIs are perceived as insurers that are ‘too big or too important to fail’ (TBTF).
Therefore, the continued functioning of D-SIIs is critical for the uninterrupted availability of insurance services to the national economy.
How are they classified?
To identify such insurers and put them to enhanced monitoring mechanism, IRDAI has developed a methodology for identification and supervision of D-SIIs.
The parameters, as per the methodology, include:
Size of operations in terms of total revenue, including premium underwritten and the value of assets under management.
Global activities across more than one jurisdiction.
The three insurers will now be subjected to enhanced regulatory supervision.
They have also been asked to raise the level of corporate governance, identify all relevant risks and promote a sound risk management culture.
NASA’s sonification project
The sonification project is led by the Chandra X-ray Center in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning Program (UoL).
The objective of the project is to transform data from astronomical images into audio.
This project allows audiences — including visually-impaired communities — to experience space through data.
What is data sonification?
It refers to the use of sound values to represent real data. Simply put, it is the auditory version of data visualisation.
How did NASA translate astronomical images into sound?
NASA’s distant telescopes in space collect inherently digital data, in the form of ones and zeroes, before converting them into images.
The images are essentially visual representations of light and radiation of different wavelengths in space, that can’t be seen by the human eye.
The Chandra project has created a celestial concert of sorts by translating the same data into sound. Pitch and volume are used to denote the brightness and position of a celestial object or phenomenon.
So far, the astronomers behind Project Chandra have released three examples made using data collected from some of the most distinct features in the sky — the Galactic Centre, Cassiopeia A, and Pillars of Creation Nebula.
Significance of the project:
With this data sonification project, users can now experience different phenomena captured in astronomical images as an aural experience.
The birth of a star, a cloud of dust or even a black hole can now be ‘heard’ as a high or low pitched sound.
National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC)
NCDC has sanctioned as first instalment, funds amounting to Rs 19444 crores to the states of Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Telangana for Kharif paddy procurement under Minimum Support Price (MSP) operations.
It is a statutory corporation set up under the National Cooperative Development Corporation Act, 1962.
The objectives of NCDC are planning and promoting programmes for production, processing, marketing, storage, export and import of agricultural produce, foodstuffs, industrial goods, livestock and certain other notified commodities and services on cooperative principles.
NCDC is a major financial institution for cooperatives, and has started Mission Sahakar 22, which aims to double farmers’ income by 2022.
NPPA caps price of Liquid Medical Oxygen and Medical Oxygen cylinders
To ensure availability of medical oxygen in the country at a reasonable price amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the national drug pricing regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has capped the price of medical oxygen cylinders and liquid medical oxygen for six months.
The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare delegated powers under Section 10(2) (l) of Disaster Management Act, 2005 to NPPA to take all necessary steps to immediately regulate the availability and pricing of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) and medical oxygen cylinders.
Oxygen Inhalation (Medicinal Gas) is a scheduled formulation, covered under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).
About the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM):
Under the provisions of Drug Prices Control Order, 2013, only the prices of drugs that figure in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) are monitored and controlled by the regulator, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority.
Essential medicines are those that satisfy the priority healthcare needs of the majority of the population.
The primary purpose of NLEM is to promote rational use of medicines considering the three important aspects i.e. cost, safety and efficacy.
Paragraph 19 of the DPCO, 2013, deals with increase or decrease in drug prices under extraordinary circumstances. However, there is neither a precedent nor any formula prescribed for upward revision of ceiling prices.