Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - September 4, 2018

Environment

Green Tribunal steps in to conserve Ghats

What

  • The six Western Ghats States, including Kerala, have been restrained by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) from giving environmental clearance to activities that may adversely impact the eco-sensitive areas of the mountain ranges.
  • The panel directed that the extent of Eco-Sensitive Zones of Western Ghats, which was notified by the Central government earlier, should not be reduced in view of the recent floods in Kerala.
  • The Madhav Gadgil-led Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) report had created a political furore in the State with most of the political parties and a section of the church opposing it.

Decision of tribunal bench

  • The Tribunal Bench, in its order, noted that any alteration in the draft notification of zones may seriously affect the environment, especially in view of recent incidents in Kerala.
  • The Principal Bench of the panel, which permitted the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEF and CC) to re-publish the draft notification on Eco-Sensitive Zones, which expired on August 26, ordered that the matter may be finalised within six months.
  • Pulling up the ghats States for the delay in filing objections regarding the notification, the tribunal observed that the “delay on account of objections of States may not be conducive to the protection of the eco-sensitive areas” and the matter must be finalised at the earliest.
  • The WGEEP had earlier proposed “much larger areas for being included in the eco-sensitive zone” though the Kasturirangan-led High Level Working Group, also appointed by the MoEF and CC to look into the WGEEP report, had reduced it.
  • The Ministry had accepted the Kasthurirangan report and issued the draft notifications on ecologically sensitive zones.
  • The Principal Bench of the tribunal, which noted that the ecology of the Western Ghats region was under serious stress, also highlighted the fact that Western Ghats region was one of the richest biodiversity areas which needed to be conserved.

Economy

Mauritius tops India’s FDI charts again

What

  • Mauritius remained the top source of foreign direct investment (FDI) into India in 2017-18 followed by Singapore, whereas total FDI stood at $37.36 billion in the financial year, a marginal rise over the $36.31 billion recorded in the previous fiscal, according to RBI data.

Enlighten about the FDI report

  • While FDI from Mauritius totalled $13.41 billion as against $13.38 billion in the previous year, inflows from Singapore rose to $9.27 billion from $6.52 billion.
  • FDI from the Netherlands declined marginally to $2.67 billion as against $3.23 billion a year earlier.
  • Provisional data for the fiscal ended March revealed that FDI into the manufacturing sector witnessed a substantial decline to $7.06 billion, as against $11.97 billion a year earlier.
  • FDI into communication services rose to $8.8 billion in FY18 from $5.8 billion.
  • The inflows into retail and wholesale trade also shot up to $4.47 billion as against $2.77 billion, while financial services too saw a rise to $4.07 billion from $3.73 billion in the previous year.
  • The fact that these sectors accounted for more than 50% of total FDI of $37.36 billion in 2017-18 reflects the global interest in new areas, including online marketplaces and financial technologies

Agriculture

New hybrids will help raise yields of silkworm farmers

What

  • The Central Silk Board notifying some of the recently developed races of mulberry (which feeds on mulberry leaves) and vanya (forest-based) silkworm eggs.
  • These races are now authorised for commercial production.

Enlighten about the new hybrid mulberry

  • The newly developed hybrid of mulberry silkworm (PM x FC2) can produce 60 kg of cocoons per 100 Disease Free Layings (silkworm eggs) and is said to be ‘better than’ the earlier race titled PM x CSR.
  • The tropical tasar silkworm (BDR-10) has 21% more productivity than the traditional Daba breed and the Eri silkworm (C2) race is found to be ‘better’ than the local breed, according to industry experts.
  • It can produce 247 numbers of Eri cocooons per 100 DFLs, says a press release.
  • In the south, some tasar silk is produced in Andhra Pradesh (A.P.). That apart, almost all the silk produced is the mulberry variety. Within this, production of bivoltine silkworm is high in T.N. and A.P.
  • The new hybrid of mulberry silkworm is suitable for farmers across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Maharashtra.
  • The recently developed hybrid can produce 60 kg of cocoons per 100 DFLs. The silk yield from the cocoons will also be higher. As a result, a farmer’s income can go up 5-10%.
  • The PM x FC2 hybrid has been under commercial production for the last couple of years and the notification would help farmers adopt large-scale culture.

Economy

Public Credit Registry

What

  • Recently, RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya made a case for setting up a Public Credit Registry (PCR), incorporating unique identifiers: Aadhaar for individual borrowers and Corporate Identification Number for firms.

Enlighten PCR

  • A public credit registry is an information repository that collates all loan information of individuals and corporate borrowers.
  • A credit repository helps banks distinguish between a bad and a good borrower and accordingly offer attractive interest rates to good borrowers.
  • PCR will address issues such as information asymmetry, improve access to credit and strengthen the credit culture among consumers.
  • A PCR may also help raise India’s rank in the global ease of doing business index.

What’s the committee has proposed

  • The committee has suggested the registry should capture all loan information and borrowers be able to access their own history.
  • Data is to be made available to stakeholders such as banks, on a need-to-know basis. Data privacy will be protected.

Why PCR is necessary

  • Credit information is now available across multiple systems in bits and pieces and not in one window.
  • Data on borrowings from banks, non-banking financial companies, corporate bonds or debentures and external commercial borrowings, among others, are not available in one data repository.
  • PCR will help capture all relevant information about a borrower, across different borrowing products.
  • It can flag early warnings on asset quality by tracking performance on other credits.

PCR in other countries

  • PCR in other countries now include other transactional data such as payments to utilities like power and telecom for retail consumers and trade credit data for businesses.
  • Regularity in making payments to utilities and trade creditors provides an indication of the credit quality of such customers.

Health and Family Welfare

71st Session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia

What

  • Inauguration of the ‘71st Session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia

Enlighten about the Steps taken by the government towards health for all

  • Adoption of the National Health Policy 2017 with the aim to provide affordable healthcare for all
  • India has recently launched the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya scheme under the ambitious programme called 'Ayushman Bharat' i.e. Long live India, one of the central pillars of this year’s budget.

Ayushman Bharat

  • It rests on the twin pillars of Health and Wellness Centres for provision of comprehensive primary healthcare services and the Prime Minister's National Health Protection Mission for secondary and tertiary care to 100 million families.

First pillar

  • Under the first pillar of Pradhan Mantri Jan ArogyaYojana, we are reaching, out to approximately 40% of country's population roughly covering 500 million individuals, who will be provided an insurance cover of 500 thousand Indian rupees to cover secondary and tertiary health-care.

The second pillar

  • One hundred & fifty thousand health and wellness centres would ‘bring healthcare closer to people, so that every Indian can have timely access to health care, including diagnostic services and free essential drugs.

Tuberculosis

  • WHO has fixed 2030 as the timeline for elimination of Tuberculosis, but India is committed to do it five years ahead of target in 2025.

Steps taken

  • Implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Tuberculosis and introduced supplementary nutritional support for the complete duration of treatment for patients
  • India has already initiated universal screening for prevention and management of five common NCDs including hypertension, diabetes and three common Cancers of oral cavity, breast and cervix at pan India level.

AMRIT Deendayal

  • A unique initiative called AMRIT Deendayal, an acronym for 'Affordable Medicines & Reliable Implants for Treatment' - Centres that provide medicines for cancer & cardiovascular diseases and cardiac implants at significantly reduced prices.
  • The Government has also opened Jan Aushadhi (peoples’ medicines) stores to make available quality affordable essential medicines to people in need.

National

President’s visit to three European Nations - Cyprus, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic

What

  • The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, reached Cyprus on the first leg of his State Visit to three European nations – Cyprus, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic

Enlighten about the bilateral meeting (India – Cyprus)

  • Two bilateral agreements were signed just after the delegation-level talks. The first, between the Financial Intelligence Unit, India, and Unit for Combating Money Laundering of Cyprus, aims at sharing financial intelligence and fighting money laundering, terror financing and related crimes.
  • The second agreement commits both countries to greater cooperation on environmental issues. The President also issued a media statement on his visit to Cyprus (attached).

Medical Sector Reforms

Draft charter of Patients’ Rights released

What

  • If the draft Charter of Patients’ Rights released by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare comes into force, patients will not just have the right to emergency medical care and informed consent, but will also have the right to non-discrimination, seek a second opinion and choose alternative treatment options, if available.
  • The draft, prepared by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has been put up on the Health Ministry’s website on August 30 for comments and suggestions.
  • The Ministry plans to implement the Charter of Patients’ Rights through State governments for provision of proper health care by clinical establishments.

Need for Patients rights

  • There was a need for a consolidated comprehensive document on patients rights in India.
  • Although some States have adopted the national Clinical Establishments Act 2010 and certain others have enacted their own State-level legislations to regulate hospitals, there is no consolidated document on patients rights that can be followed by all States uniformly

Enlighten about the draft

  • The draft charter that includes 17 rights with description, draws upon all relevant provisions, inspired by international charters and guided by national level provisions, with the objective of consolidating these into a single document.
  • This charter is expected to act as a guidance document for the Union Government and State Governments to formulate concrete mechanisms so that Patients Rights are given adequate protection and operational mechanisms are set up to make these rights functional and enforceable by law.
  • The onus is now on the States to follow the charter effectively
  • Right to non-discrimination is an important right. Every patient has the right to receive treatment without any discrimination based on his or her illnesses or conditions, including HIV status or other health condition, religion, caste, ethnicity or sexual orientation
  • Now, the hospital management has a duty to ensure that no form of discriminatory behaviour or treatment takes place with any person under the hospital’s care.

Environment

Inventory and Revival of Springs in the Himalayas for Water Security A Panel constituted by NITI Aayog to revive Spring water sysytem

What

  • A NITI Aayog constituted group of experts has urged the government to set up a dedicated mission to salvage and revive spring water systems in the country’s Himalayan States, given their vital importance as a source of water for both drinking and irrigation for the region’s inhabitants.
  • Spanning States across the country’s north and northeast and home to about 50 million people, the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) has been heavily reliant on these natural groundwater sources, that are under increasing threat from the urbanisation caused by a constant push for development and climate change.

Enlighten about the findings

  • Almost half of the perennial springs have already dried up or have become seasonal and tens of thousands of villages are currently facing acute water shortage for drinking and other domestic purposes
  • The group noted in its report titled ‘Inventory and Revival of Springs in the Himalayas for Water Security.’ “Almost 60% of low-discharge springs that provided water to small habitations in the Himalayan region have reported clear decline during the last couple of decades

Recent example of Shimla crisis

  • The extent of the crisis plaguing the mountainous region was recently evident when more than half a dozen districts of Himachal Pradesh and the State capital Shimla faced a severe drinking water crisis this May after major water sources either went fully or partially dry.
  • While poor water management was said to be the key cause, according to State authorities, they also attributed reduced snowmelt and depressed flow from springs as contributors to the crisis.
  • While Meghalaya with 3,810 villages with springs had the highest number of these water sources in the Eastern Himalayan States, Sikkim had the greatest density with 94% of its villages having a spring.
  • In the Western Himalayas, Jammu & Kashmir had both the highest number of villages with springs at 3,313 and the greatest density of 50.6%.

What’s the action plan

  • The task force moots an 8-year programme to overhaul spring water management.
  • This includes: preparing a digital atlas of the country’s springsheds, training ‘para-hydrogeologists’ who could lead grassroots conservation and introducing a ‘Spring Health Card.’

Sources – PIB , The Hindu , IndianExpress