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Insights Daily Current Events, 25 February 2015

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Insights Daily Current Events, 25 February 2015

Standardisation and Certification of Indigenous Medical systems

The Minister of AYUSH, government of India, recently said that the government is looking forward to put in place an effective certification system.

Why is it required?

  • Most of the foreign countries including USA, Australia, European countries etc. have not recognized Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani, as systems of medicine, therefore practice of these systems and marketing of their products as medicines faces problems.

Present scenario:

The medicines of these systems are generally manufactured in India as per the standards and Good Manufacturing Practices in accordance with the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules thereunder but are often exported by the industry to such countries as food supplements or dietary supplements because of non-fulfillment of the regulatory requirements of the importing countries.

What has the government done?

  • The Government has set up Pharmacopoeia Commission of Indian Medicine and Homoeopathy and Pharmacopoeia Committees to develop the standards of Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani drugs.
  • Quality standards of Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani (ASU) drugs including the permissible limits of heavy metals, pesticide residue, aflatoxins and microbial load are being published in the respective Pharmacopoeias and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) have been notified under the provisions of Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
  • System of WHO-GMP Certification and quality certification of ASU medicines by Quality Council of India on voluntary basis is in place for the industry interested to export these medicines.
  • A Central Scheme has been implemented through which ASU drug industry can avail financial support for registration of products in foreign countries, preparation of drug dossiers and participation in international fairs and exhibitions.

National AYUSH mission:

National AYUSH mission was launched in September 2014 by the government of India.

Aim: It is aimed at addressing the gaps in health services by supporting AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) care and education, particularly in vulnerable and far-flung areas.

Details:

  • Under the mission, special focus will be given to specific needs of vulnerable areas and allocation of higher resources in their annual plans.
  • The Mission will help in the improvement of AYUSH education through enhancement in the number of upgraded educational institutions.
  • It will provide better access to AYUSH services through increase in number of AYUSH hospitals and dispensaries, availability of drugs and manpower.
  • It provides sustained availability of quality raw material for AYUSH systems of medicine.
  • It improves availability of quality Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy drugs through increase in the number of pharmacies, drug laboratories and improved enforcement mechanism.

Evolution of the Ministry:

Department of Indian System of Medicine and Homeopathy (ISM&H) was created in March 1995 and re-named as Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani , Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) in November 2003 with a view to providing focused attention to development of Education and Research in Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani , Siddha and Homoeopathy systems. The Department has been elevated to an independent Ministry in September 2014.

Sources: PIB.

 

Green Revolution

The Minister of State for Agriculture, Government of India, recently said in Rajya Sabha that with the implementation of Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI) scheme in Eastern states the production of food grains has gone up.

Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI) scheme:

It a sub-scheme of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna (RKVY). It is being implemented in seven eastern States of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh (Eastern) and West Bengal since 2010-11.

Aim: The aim of the BGREI program is to harness the water potential for enhancing agriculture production in Eastern India which was hitherto underutilized.

 

Details:

  • The programme gained momentum in 2011-12 with the focus on rice and wheat only and strategic interventions relating to crop production, water harvesting and recycling, asset building and site specific activities needed for improving the agronomy-adopting cluster approach aimed at enhancing the productivity per unit area and the income of the farmers.
  • Eastern region hitherto known as food deficit region, has with the help of the programme, turned food surplus region.
  • The increased productivity was optimized due to resource allocation and utilization.
  • The significant increase in production of food grains in the region not only offset the decline in production in central and peninsular India but also contributed significantly to the highest ever production of food grains.
  • The growth in food grains i.e. rice and wheat provides an opportunity to procure and create food grain reserves locally reducing the pressure on Punjab and Haryana, and cutting costs on transport and other logistics.

Sources: PIB.

 

Jan Aushadhi-Generic Drugs

The Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers recently in Rajya Sabha said that the Government is committed to ensure the quality of products to be procured and sold under the Jan Aushadhi brand.

What is Jan Aushadhi Scheme?

It is a scheme which seeks to make available quality medicines at affordable prices for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged.

  • Under this, less priced quality unbranded generic medicines will be made available through Jan Aushadhi stores which inherently are less priced but are of same and equivalent quality, efficacy and safety as compared to branded generic medicines.
  • Under this Scheme, the State Government has to provide space in Government Hospital premises for the running of the outlets (JAS). Government hospitals, NGOs, Charitable Organisations and public societies like Red Cross Society, Rogi Kalyan Samiti typically constituted for the purpose can be operating agencies for the JAS.
  • The operating agency for JAS is nominated on the basis of the recommendations of the State government. Operational expenditure is met from trade margins admissible for the medicines.
  • The State Government has to ensure prescription of unbranded generic medicines by the Government doctors.
  • The Jan Aushadhi Programme is accordingly a self sustaining business model not dependent on government subsidies or assistance. It is run on the principle of “Not for Profits but with Minimal Profits”.

Benefits of the Scheme:

The Jan Aushadhi Campaign will help:

  • Improve access to healthcare in as much as cost of treatment would come down substantially. This would enable the Public Health System to increase the coverage.
  • Secure a socio-economically viable mechanism/institutional arrangement for efficacious sales of Pharma CPSU products, thereby improving their viability.
  • Promote & encourage private industry to sell their quality unbranded generic products through these retail outlets.
  • Ensuring successful implementation of the Jan Aushadhi campaign would dispel the myth that quality of medicines is linked to price and demonstrate that quality medicines can be sold at substantially lower prices.
  • Educate doctors that unbranded generic medicines provide a better option that branded products since quality of generic medicines can be equally efficacious and safe at much lower prices.
  • Create consumer awareness by involving private, charitable bodies and NGOs by making them part of the campaign.
  • Reduce promotional cost and profits for the benefit of patients.

Sources: PIB.

 

Special Fund for Providing Affordable Credit to Entrepreneurs

Recognising the importance of easy access of credit, in the budget of 2014-15, a special fund of Rs. 2,000 crore has been created in National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) for providing affordable credit to entrepreneurs.

Why? To help them set up food processing units in designated Food Parks.

Beneficiaries:

  • Loan is extended by NABARD from the Fund to various categories of promoters in food processing sector, such as Individual entrepreneurs, State Governments, State Government Agencies, cooperatives, Farmers Producer Organizations (FPOs), corporate, companies etc.

Details:

  • As per Scheme guidelines the loan can be availed for setting up of individual food processing units and also modernization of existing units in the designated food parks etc.
  • The loan is repayable within a maximum period of 7 years, including the initial gestation of a maximum of 2 years.

Sources: PIB.

 

Stringent Tobacco Control Measures

The Union Health Minister recently said that the government has been taking stringent measures to control the use of tobacco.

The Government measures include the following:

  • Enactment of the “Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, (COTPA) 2003”.
  • Ratification of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
  • Launch of the National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) in the year 2007-08, with the objectives to
  • Create awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco consumption.
  • Reduce the production and supply of tobacco products.
  • Ensure effective implementation of the anti tobacco laws and .
  • Help the people quit tobacco use through Tobacco Cessation Centres.
  • Issuance of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011 dated 1st August 2011, under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, which lays down that tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as ingredients in any food product.
  • Notification of rules to regulate depiction of tobacco products or their use in films and TV programmes.
  • Notification of rules on new pictorial health warnings on tobacco product packages, to come into effect from April 2015.

Some data:

  • As per the report of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 50% of cancers in men and 25% of cancers in women in India are related to tobacco use.
  • As per World Health Organization (WHO), the use of tobacco is a major risk factor for 4 major Non Communicable Diseases namely Cardio Vascular Disease, Cancers, Diabetes and Chronic Respiratory Disease.
  • WHO studies also show that smoking substantially increases the risk of tuberculosis (TB) and deaths from TB, as per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey – India Report (2010) 40% of the TB burden in India may be attributed to smoking.

Committee on COTPA Act:

  • A Committee was constituted to review and suggest amendments to the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA).
  • The Committee has made a number of recommendations with regard to, inter alia, prohibition of smoking in public places, advertisements at point of sale, minimum legal age for sale of tobacco products, loose sale of tobacco products, depiction of tar and nicotine contents and the penal provisions etc.
  • The government has also prepared an amendment bill in this regard.

 

Sources: PIB.

 

CCTNS Project

The Union Home Minister recently in Rajya Sabha said that the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) project is lagging behind the schedule because of the following reasons:

  • States/UTs took time in preparation and finalisation of Request for Proposal (RFPs) for selection of State System Integrator (SI).
  • SI selection in some of the States/UTs got delayed.
  • In some of the States/UTs there was delay in handing over the sites to SI.
  • In some of the States/UTs there were issues in execution of project by SI.
  • Delay in establishment of National Data Centre due to technical issues in Core Application Software.
  • Originally developed Core Application Software had to undergo lot of changes due to performance issues and additional functional requirements from field units.
  • Delay in commissioning of WiMax and VSAT sites.

 

CCTNS project:

  • Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) is a project initiated in June 2009 which aims at creating a comprehensive and integrated system for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of policing at the Police Station level through adoption of principles of e-Governance, and creation of a nationwide networked infrastructure for evolution of IT-enabled state-of-the-art tracking system around “investigation of crime and detection of criminals”.
  • It is a Mission Mode Project (MMP) under the National e-Governance Plan of Govt. of India.
  • It will not only automate Police functions at Police station and higher levels but will also create facilities and mechanism to provide public services like registration of online complaints, ascertaining the status of case registered at the police station, verification of persons etc.
  • The project timelines is till March 2015 with provision of one year extension.

 

Sources: PIB.

 

Youth Policy

The Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, government of India, recently said that the Government of India has been successful in implementing the provisions of National Youth Policy (NYP), 2014.

National youth Policy 2014:

India is one of the youngest nations in the world and is expected to have a very favourable demographic profile in the near future. This is a great opportunity as well as a challenge. NYP-2014 seeks to suggest a framework for appropriate policy interventions by Government and non-Government stakeholders, to empower the youth to enable them to realize their full potential as also to contribute to the progress of the nation.

The vision of NYP-2014 is to empower youth to achieve their full potential, and through them enable India to find its rightful place in the community of nations. For achieving this vision, the Policy identifies five well-defined objectives and 11 priority areas and suggests policy interventions in each priority area. The priority areas are education, skill development and employment, entrepreneurship, health and healthy lifestyle, sports, promotion of social values, community engagement, participation in politics and governance, youth engagement, inclusion and social justice.

 

Salient features of the Policy:

  • The National Youth Policy 2014 defines the age of youth as persons between the age 15-29 years.
  • The National Youth Policy 2014 seeks to define the vision of the Government of India for the youth of the country and identify the key areas in which action is required to enable youth development and to provide a framework for action for all stakeholders.
  • The Policy identifies eleven specific priority areas for action, as under:
  • Employment and Skill Development.
  • Health and Healthy Lifestyle.
  • Promotion of Social Values.
  • Community Engagement.
  • Participation in Politics and Governance.
  • Youth Engagement.
  • Social Justice.

How will it help?

  • The focused approach on youth development and empowerment involving all stakeholders, as envisaged in NYP-2014, would result in development of an educated and healthy young population, who are not only economically productive, but are also socially responsible citizens contributing to the task of nation-building.
  • It will cover the entire country catering the needs of all youth in the age-group of 15-29 years, which constitutes 27.5% of the population according to Census-2011, that is about 33 crore persons.
  • It will replace NYP-2003, to take care of developments since 2003 and future policy imperatives.

Sources: PIB.

 

14th Finance Commission: Government accepts recommendations

The government recently accepted the 14th Finance Commission’s recommendation to devolve an unprecedented 42% of the divisible tax pool to states during 20015-16 to 2019-20, against 32% suggested by the previous commission. Henceforth, States will get a much higher share of central taxes.

Recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission:

The Y V Reddy-headed 14th finance commission recommended tax devolution form a larger part of the transfers from the Union government than earlier. It had suggested the Centre devolve Rs 39.48 lakh crore of tax receipts during the five years starting next financial year.

Other important recommendations:

  • Set up an independent council to undertake assessment of fiscal policy implications of Budget proposals
  • Replace existing FRBM Act with a debt ceiling & fiscal responsibility law
  • Wind up National Investment Fund and maintain all disinvestment receipts in the consolidated fund
  • Amend electricity Act to provide for penalties for delay in payment of subsidies by state governments
  • Submission of states on minimum guaranteed devolution turned down
  • Steps for states to augment revenues, such as property tax reforms and issuance of municipal bonds suggested
  • Set up autonomous and independent GST compensation fund

The commission suggested performance-based grants to panchayats and local bodies. It was recommended the ratio of basic-to-performance grant be kept at 90:10 for panchayats and 80:20 for municipalities. The Commission had also asked to do away with a distinction between Plan and non-Plan expenditure.

Its implications:

  • This move implies that grants for centrally sponsored schemes will have to be curtailed.
  • The acceptance of the recommendations mark at least five major shifts from the past. They are:
  • the sizeable increase in tax devolution.
  • taking into account plan revenue expenditures while assessing revenue deficit grants.
  • discontinuing the distinction between special category and other states.
  • desisting from awarding sector/state specific grants or to subject grants to conditionality.
  • to suggest institutional mechanisms for better monitoring of fiscal rules and to achieve ‘cooperative federalism’.
  • This will be a huge help to states in forging their own autonomously generated development scheme and keeping their fiscal deficit in check in the years to come.
  • The decision will enable the states to utilise the enhanced resources according to the felt needs of the residents of the state.
  • By accepting the recommendations of the finance commission, the Centre also has implicitly endorsed the fiscal deficit target of 3.6% of GDP for FY16 and 3% thereafter.

Finance Commission:

It is a constitutional body constituted under article 280 of the Indian Constitution by the President of India after every five years.

  • It is a quasi-judicial body consisting of a Chairman and four members appointed by the President and hold office during his pleasure.
  • It was formed to define the financial relations between the Centre and states.
  • They submit their recommendations to the president which are advisory in nature.

Functions of the Finance Commission:

  • Distribution of net proceeds of taxes between Centre and the States, to be divided as per their respective contributions to the taxes.
  • Determine factors governing Grants-in Aid to the states and the magnitude of the same.
  • To make recommendations to president as to take the measures needed to augment the Consolidated Fund of a State to supplement the resources of the panchayats and municipalities in the state on the basis of the recommendations made by the Finance Commission of the state.

Sources: PIB, BS, ET, fincominida.nic.in.

 

Eurozone approves Greek reform plan

Eurozone finance ministers recently approved Greece’s plan meant to ease the hardships created by its international bailout, extending that loan program by four more months. Greece had to repay its loan by February 28th.

Change in Plan:

In revising the terms of the bailout program, the new Greek government pledged to take a disciplined approach to budgets, spending and tax collection, while remaining committed to relieving the “humanitarian crisis” caused by years of economic hardship and high unemployment.

Background:

The New Greek government was committed to anti austerity measures and greater public spending. And this would have amounted to breaking the contract with the lenders who had lent money to Greece under financial bailout loan package (Macro Adjustment Programme) during the crisis. Hence, members of the European Union were opposing this move of Greece.

Under the Macro Adjustment Programme, Greece had to compulsorily implement the following programs:

  • Fiscal reforms to generate savings, that is, austerity.
  • Structural reforms to enhance competitiveness and growth, such as privatisation of public assets and deregulation of markets including the labour market, that is, labour market flexibility.
  • Financial reforms to enhance financial stability, such as banking regulations, and bank recapitalisation and resolution mechanisms.

Since its inception, the new government had also been asking for debt write-off.

Sources: The Hindu, EPW.

 

Delhi most vulnerable to cyber attacks

‘The State of Internet in India’ report, which was released recently, states that Delhi reported the maximum number of PC malware infections in 2014 (20 per cent).

Why?

The national capital emerged as the most vulnerable city to cyber attacks in the country, as more and more people accessed the Internet either through desktop or mobile phones. This increases risk as it makes it easier for hackers to get into the system.

Important observations made by the Report:

  • The report states that after Delhi the maximum number of PC malware infections in 2014 were reported in Hyderabad followed by Chandigarh (9 per cent each), and Chennai (7 per cent).
  • Delhi NCR led the list for the maximum number of mobile infections too at 24%. It was followed by Mumbai (22 per cent), Chandigarh (10 per cent), Chennai (8 per cent) and Hyderabad (7 per cent).

Sources: The Hindu.

 

Mock Questions:

1) Consider the following statements regarding National AYUSH mission:

  1. Under the mission, at least one AYUSH college must be set up in every state by the respective state governments.
  2. Under the mission, the central government provides financial assistance to states to set up separate AYUSH hospitals in every district.

Which of the above statements are true?

a)Only 1.

b)Only 2.

c) Both

d) None

 

2) Consider the following statements regarding Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI) scheme:

  1. It a sub-scheme of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna (RKVY).
  2. It is being implemented only in North eastern States.

Which of the above statements are true?

a)Only 1.

b)Only 2.

c)Both

d)None

 

3) Consider the following statements regarding Jan Aushadhi Scheme:

  1. It is a scheme which seeks to make available quality medicines at affordable prices for BPL card holders only.
  2. Under this Scheme, the State Government has to provide space in Government Hospital premises for the running of the outlets (JAS).

Which of the above statements are true?

a) Only 1.

b) Only 2.

c)Both

d)None

 

4) Consider the following statements regarding the Special Fund created in NABARD for Providing Affordable Credit to Entrepreneurs:

  1. Under this loan is extended by NABARD only to the state governments who then will identify and provide loans the eligible Entrepreneurs.
  2. As per Scheme guidelines the loan can be availed only for setting up of individual food processing units.

Which of the above statements are true?

a) Only 1.

b) Only 2.

c) Both

d) None

 

5) Consider the following statements:

  1. The government of India has ratified WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
  2. Under the COTPA Act, advertisement of tobacco products including cigarettes is prohibited.
  3. Under the COTPA Act, Tobacco products must be sold, supplied or distributed in a package which shall contain an appropriate pictorial warning, its nicotine and tar contents.

Which of the above statements are true?

a) Only 1.

b) Only 1 & 2.

c) Only 2 & 3.

d) All are correct.

 

6) Consider the following statements regarding the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems CCTNS Project:

  1. It is a Mission Mode Project (MMP) under the National e-Governance Plan of Govt. of India.
  2. It was initiated in 2008 by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Which of the above statements are true?

a) Only 1.

b) Only 2.

c) Both

d) None

 

7) Consider the following statements regarding the National Youth Policy, 2104:

  1. The National Youth Policy 2014 defines the age of youth as persons between the age 18-30 years.
  2. The policy covers the entire country except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  3. It replaces the National Youth Policy 2003.

Which of the above statements are true?

a) Only 1.

b) Only 2 & 3.

c) Only 3.

d) All are correct.

 

8) Consider the following statements regarding Finance commission:

  1. It is a constitutional body.
  2. The Chairman and members of the commission are appointed by the central government.
  3. The recommendations made by the commission are advisory in nature.

Which of the above statements are true?

a) Only 1.

b) Only 1 & 3.

c) Only 3.

d) All are correct.

 

9) ‘The State of Internet in India’ report, which was released recently, says that:

  1. Delhi reported the maximum number of PC malware infections in 2014.
  2. maximum number of mobile infections were reported in Hyderabad in 2014.

Which of the above statements are true?

a) Only 1.

b) Only 2.

c) Both

d) None