Insights Daily Current Events, 21 October 2015
Paper 1 Topic: Poverty and developmental issues, urbanization
Gap widening between rural and urban India
According to the recently released data by HSBC global research, the gap between rural and urban inflation has more than doubled over the last one year. Although the inflation has been slowing both in rural and urban areas of the country, there is a widening difference between the two as rural inflation is decelerating at a much slower pace.
Other important observations:
- Inflation has fallen strikingly over the last several months, but the gains are not equally distributed.
- Rural inflation is running higher than urban inflation and its underlying trend is higher than the RBI’s target.
- Urban inflation momentum has slowed to 4.5%, which is lower than the Reserve Bank of India’s target level of 6%. The trend in price gains in rural India, however, is running at 6.5%.
- The difference between rural and urban inflation is most stark for fuel and transportation, followed by core and to a lesser extent food.
- Despite two successive years of drought, overall food inflation in India has remained tepid, as low global prices have made it possible to import food products that are in short supply. Rural Indians, however, do not seem to have benefitted as much from food imports as their urban counterparts.
Why there is excess inflation in rural areas?
- The ‘excess inflation’ in rural India is arising from food, fuel, transportation as well as from core inflation.
- Rural India has some structural disadvantages vis-a-vis urban India. Urban India is benefitting from lower global prices while rural India, partly because of its structural ailments, is not being able to partake with equal vigour.
- Structural bottlenecks in rural India are harsher. Transport networks are also sparser and distribution channels are insufficient.
- Higher inflation for perishables such as meat and fish point towards lack of availability of cold storage facilities.
What should be done to improve the situation?
Higher investment in rural infrastructure and meaningful agricultural reforms are needed to make growth weather proof and put it on a higher, more sustainable path to enable the RBI to meet its 4% inflation target sustainably.
sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure.
Road developers may shy away from capital infusion
The Union Cabinet has approved a one-time capital infusion by the National Highways Authority of India to get stalled road projects moving.
- This infusion of funds would be a one-time dispensation for all such projects that have been languishing as on November 1, 2014. All such cases and the amount of bridge fund required in each case shall be approved by NHAI, on a case to case basis.
However, according to credit rating agency India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra), lenders and developers may not be keen on taking advantage of this infusion. Why?
- This is because the proposal comes with the clause of first charge by NHAI on the toll/annuity receivables of these projects (structural subordination) over the senior lenders’ debt service.
- In structural subordination, the toll/annuity receivables of the project would be ensured for NHAI through execution of the tripartite agreements between the senior lender, concessionaire and the NHAI.
What else has the agency said?
- The rating agency has also made it clear that simply pumping in funds will not be enough to get all projects moving. It is because funding shortfall may not be the only reason for languishing projects, but also delays in getting the appropriate approvals and clearances from various government agencies.
- One-time funding may not help all stranded projects, but only those that needed financing.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is an autonomous agency of the Government of India, responsible for management of a network of over 70,000 km of National Highways in India. It is a nodal agency of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
- The NHAI was created through the promulgation of the National Highways Authority of India Act, 1988. In February 1995, the Authority was formally made an autonomous body.
- It is responsible for the development, maintenance, management and operation of National Highways.
sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Health.
Prioritising infection control in Telangana
The Telangana government has directed teaching hospitals in the state to start implementing measures to control healthcare associated infections.
- It was recently found that government hospitals in Telangana have fallen behind in implementing good practices to curb infections.
Various measures taken by the state government:
To address concerns related to infections, the state government has directed the government hospitals to set up infection control committees to provide a forum for multidisciplinary inputs, which would be responsible for planning, implementation and resource allocation of all matters related to infection prevention and control.
What would these committees do?
- The committees would develop infection control policies and environmental management practices to ensure adherence to standard infection control precautions.
- They also review and approve annual plan prepared by the infection control team, review epidemiological surveillance data and identify areas of intervention.
- The other responsibilities of such a committee is to ensure capacity building for infection prevention, control and safety, prepare standard operating procedures for various medical departments and frequently review infectious risks associated with medical equipment.
Hospital Infection Control Team (HICT):
- The government has also asked each government hospital in Telangana to constitute a Hospital Infection Control Team (HICT) to implement the infection control measures and provide solutions on infection control on 24 hours basis.
- The team would also be responsible for maintenance of medical equipment, investigating outbreaks of infections, take up surveillance, advice staff on waste management, develop antibiotic policies and train hospital staff.
- It has been decided to have a dedicated Infection Control Officer (ICO), a microbiologist or epidemiologist, in-charge of infection control practices, provide trends for hospital acquired infections to patient care units, and investigate outbreaks of viral, bacterial or fungal ailments and training.
- It has also been decided to have an Infection Control Nurse (ICN), a nurse with an academic education and practical training to act as a specialist advisor in all aspects relating to infection control.
- An exclusive biomedical waste management committee in hospitals that would be in charge of implementing good practises in management of hospital waste will also be setup.
sources: the hindu.
Paper 1 Topic: Art and culture:
A festival to remember
The Telangana government recently celebrated the eagerly awaited ‘Festival of Flowers’ (Bathukamma) for which the State is known.
- The festival known as Bathukamma is Telangana’s floral festival, traditionally celebrated by women across the state.
- Every year this festival is celebrated as per Telugu version of Hindu calendar in the Bhadrapada Amavasya, also known as Mahalaya Amavasya, usually in September–October of Gregorian calendar.
- The festival is celebrated for nine days during Durga Navratri.
- It represents cultural spirit of Telangana.
- In Telugu, ‘Bathukamma’ means ‘Mother Goddess come Alive’.
- It is the state festival of Telangana.
sources: the hindu, wiki.