Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 11 May 2019
Relevant articles from various news:
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: Features, need And significance of the strategy.
Context: US comes up with strategy to Detect, Respond to Health security threats globally.
Called the ‘Global Health Security Strategy’, it is an effort which outlines coordinated US approach to help improve world’s ability in stopping deadly outbreaks even before they spread between countries.
The strategy will pursue three interrelated goals:
1) strengthened capacity in developing nations to implement obligations under the
International Health Regulations (2005);
2) increased international support for The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA); and
3) a Homeland prepared and resilient against global health threats.
Features and significance:
It is a first of its kind strategy that seeks to detect, prevent, and respond to threats from various infectious diseases occurring naturally or accidentally.
It defines the actions that US administration will undertake by adopting a whole-of-government approach to health security.
Priority areas: The Strategy precisely identifies fighting biological threats and pandemics as central component of US’s national security. It treats Biological threats, (like infectious disease outbreaks) as national security priority.
United States will continue to make investments in funding to select country partners focused on the priority global-health security risks that will be milestone-driven and time-limited.
The increase in the number of infectious-diseases outbreaks (e.g., Ebola, Zika, and yellow fever) around the world and the risk posed by an accidental or deliberate release of dangerous pathogens highlight the need for a sustained, multi-sectoral, and coordinated
Outbreaks can spread rapidly to jeopardize the health, security, and prosperity of all countries, including the United States. With this new Strategy, the United States reaffirms its steadfast support for building global and country-level health-security capacities so we are all better protected against existing and emerging infectious disease threats.
Sources: The Hindu.
Paper 2 and 3:
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
- Conservation related issues.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: WMBD- theme and significance, features of CMS.
Context: The World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) 2019 is being observed on 11 May 2019. It helps to raise global awareness about threats faced by migratory birds, their ecological importance, and need for international cooperation to conserve them.
The first WMBD was celebrated in 2006.
- Organized By: The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) together with Environment for the Americas (EFTA).
- Theme:“Protect Birds: Be the Solution to Plastic Pollution!”.
When is it celebrated?
- On 26 October 2017 in the margins of the CMS COP12 in Manila, Environment for the Americas (EFTA), the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA), announced an innovative partnership to increase awareness of the plight of migratory birds around the world.
- The new partnership formally unites two of the world’s largest bird education campaigns, International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) and World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) in a bid to strengthen global recognition and appreciation of migratory birds and highlight the urgent need for their conservation.
- Starting in 2018, the new joint campaign adopts the single name of “World Migratory Bird Day” and major events to celebrate the day will be organized twice a year, on the second Saturday in May and in October.
In order to protect the migratory species throughout their range countries, a Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS), has been in force, under the aegis of United Nations Environment Programme.
Also referred to as the Bonn Convention, it provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats and brings together the States through which migratory animals pass, the Range States, and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout a migratory range.
Classification of species: Under this convention, migratory species threatened with extinction are listed on Appendix I and Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them. Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-operation are listed in Appendix II of the Convention.
CMS is the only global and UN-based intergovernmental organization established exclusively for conservation and management of terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species throughout their range.
What are migratory species? Why protect them?
Migratory species are those animals that move from one habitat to another during different times of the year, due to various factors such as food, sunlight, temperature, climate, etc.
The movement between habitats, can sometimes exceed thousands of miles/kilometres for some migratory birds and mammals. A migratory route can involve nesting and also requires the availability of habitats before and after each migration.
Sources: The Hindu.
- Issues related to health.
What to study?
For prelims and mains:
Context: According to a World Health Organisation database, Despite the health sector employing five million workers, India continues to have low density of health professionals.
Critical Shortage in India.
Concerns for India:
- Acute shortages and inequitable distributions of skilled health workers
- India is in the “critical shortage of healthcare providers” category.
- Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are the worst hit while Delhi, Kerala, Punjab and Gujarat compare favorably.
- The health workforce in India comprises broadly eight categories, namely: doctors (allopathic, alternative medicine); nursing and midwifery professionals; public health professionals (medical, non-medical); pharmacists; dentists; paramedical workers (allied health professionals); grass-root workers (frontline workers); and support staff.
- Government statistics for 2008, based on vacancies in sanctioned posts showed 18% of primary health centres were without a doctor, about 38% were without a laboratory technician and 16% were without a pharmacist.
The major challenges faced by healthcare system in India are (general observations):
Doctor-Density Ratio: The doctor-density ratio in India at 8 per 10,000 people as against one doctor for a population of 1,000.
Shortage of Medical Personnel: There is a staggering shortage of medical and paramedical staff at all levels of care: 10,907 auxiliary nurse midwives and 3,673 doctors are needed at sub-health and primary health centres, while for community health centres the figure is 18,422 specialists.
Finance: At about 1.3% of the national income, India’s public healthcare spending between 2008 and 2015, has virtually remained stagnant. This is way less than the global average of 6 per cent.
Crumbling public health infrastructure: Given the country’s crumbling public healthcare infrastructure, most patients are forced to go to private clinics and hospitals.
High Out of Pocket Expenditure: 70% of the medical spending is from the patient’s pockets leading to huge burden and pushing many into poverty. Most consumers complain of rising costs.
Insurance: India has one of the lowest per capita healthcare expenditures in the world. Government contribution to insurance stands at roughly 32 percent, as opposed to 83.5 percent in the UK. The high out-of-pocket expenses in India stem from the fact that 76 percent of Indians do not have health insurance.
Rural-urban disparity: The growth of health facilities has been highly imbalanced in India. Rural, hilly and remote areas of the country are under served while in urban areas and cities, health facility is well developed. The SC/ST and the poor people are far away from modern health service.
Poor healthcare ranking: India ranks as low as 145th among 195 countries in healthcare quality and accessibility, behind even Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Commercial motive: lack of transparency and unethical practices in the private sector.
Lack of level playing field between the public and private hospitals: This has been a major concern as public hospitals would continue receiving budgetary support. This would dissuade the private players from actively participating in the scheme.
- Shortages of skilled health workers across low- and middle-income countries.
- Southeast Asia needs a 50% increase in healthcare manpower to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.
Need of the hour:
The need of the hour is to design courses for different categories of non-physician care providers. Competencies (and not qualification alone) should be valued and reform must be brought in regulatory structures to provide flexibility for innovations.
Sources: The Hindu.
Facts for prelims:
New species of reddish-brown pit viper from Arunachal Pradesh:
- This discovery of new species makes Arunachal Pradesh only Indian state to have a pit viper named after it.
- Scientific Name: Trimeresurus arunachalensis.
- With this, India is now home to fifth brown pit viper. The other four brown pit vipers are Hump-Nosed, Horseshoe, Malabar, and Himalayan.
- This new discovery makes Arunachal pit viper the second serpent to have been discovered in state after Crying Keelback, a non-venomous snake was found in Arunacal’s Lepa-Rada district in 2018.
Why in News? With a thriving rat population playing havoc with its coconut yield, the UT of Lakshadweep hires barn owls for help.
Why barn owls?
- The reason is that the rats in the Lakshadweep Islands practically live on treetops. The coconut palms here grow so close together that they resemble a jungle. The fronds overlap, allowing the rodents to move easily from one tree to another.
- Besides, the nocturnal barn owls are natural rat hunters, armed with a powerful auditory mechanism. There is also an important environmental angle to Lakshadweep’s decision to choose biocontrol.
- The islands being a designated organic zone, use of chemicals for pest control is a strict no-no.
Apache Guardian attack helicopters:
Context: US aerospace major Boeing has handed over first of the 22 Apache Guardian attack helicopters to the Indian Air Force today.
- It is a leading multi-role attack helicopter and is flown by the US Army.
- The helicopter has been customised to suit the IAF’s future requirements and would have significant capability in mountainous terrain.
- It has the capability to carry out precision attacks at standoff ranges and operate in hostile airspace with threats from ground.
- Its ability to transmit and receive the battlefield picture, to and from the weapon systems through data networking makes it a lethal acquisition.
Context: The extremely severe cyclone, Fani, has created four new mouths in Chilika Lake, Asia’s largest brackish water lake, connecting to Bay of Bengal. Chilika lagoon had only two active mouths — the point where it meets the sea before Fani hit the Odisha coast on May 3. Four new mouths have opened due to wave energy with high tidal prism.
About Chilika Lagoon:
- It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the worldafter The New Caledonian barrier reef in New Caledonia.
- It is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl found anywhere on the Indian sub-continent.
- It is one of the hotspot of biodiversity in the country, and some rare, vulnerable and endangered species listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened Animals inhabit in the lagoon for atleast part of their life cycle.
- On account of its rich bio-diversity and ecological significance, Chilika was designated as the 1st “Ramsar Site” of India.
- The Nalaban Island within the lagoon is notified as a Bird Sanctuary under Wildlife (Protection) Act, the National Wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs Committee of Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India, have also identified the lagoon as a priority site for conservation and management.
- Chilika Lagoon lies in the districts of Puri, Khurda and Ganjam of Odisha State along the eastern coast of India. It is well connected to the Chennai and Kolkata through National Highway No 5, and the Chennai Kolkata rail line passes along the western bank of the Lagoon Balugaon, with Balugaon, Chilika and Rambha being the main stations along the Western shoreline of the lagoon.
Summaries of important Editorials:
The menace of Non-performing assets (NPAs):
Context: Non-performing assets (NPAs) at commercial banks amounted to ₹10.3 trillion, or 11.2% of advances, in March 2018. Public sector banks (PSBs) accounted for ₹8.9 trillion, or 86%, of the total NPAs. The ratio of gross NPA to advances in PSBs was 14.6%. These are levels typically associated with a banking crisis.
What caused this?
- The credit boom of the years 2004-05 to 2008-09. In that period, commercial credit (or what is called ‘non-food credit’) doubled. Indian firms borrowed furiously in order to avail of the growth opportunities they saw coming. Most of the investment went into infrastructure and related areas — telecom, power, roads, aviation, steel. Businessmen were overcome with exuberance, partly rational and partly irrational.
- Problems in acquiring land and getting environmental clearances, several projects got stalled.
- At the same time, with the onset of the global financial crisis in 2007-08 and the slowdown in growth after 2011-12, revenues fell well short of forecasts. Financing costs rose as policy rates were tightened in India in response to the crisis.
- The depreciation of the rupee meant higher outflows for companies that had borrowed in foreign currency.
- This combination of adverse factors made it difficult for companies to service their loans to Indian banks.
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), acting in the belief that NPAs were being under-stated, introduced tougher norms for NPA recognition under an Asset Quality Review.
Impact of higher NPAs:
Higher provisions on the part of banks. Provisions rose to a level where banks, especially PSBs, started making losses. Their capital got eroded as a result. Without adequate capital, bank credit cannot grow. Gross NPAs/advances rose sharply.
Why high NPAs in public sector banks?
PSBs had a higher exposure to the five most affected sectors — mining, iron and steel, textiles, infrastructure and aviation. These sectors accounted for 29% of advances and 53% of stressed advances at PSBs in December 2014.
What needs to be done?
- One immediate action that is required is resolving the NPAs.
- An alternative is to set up a Loan Resolution Authority, if necessary through an Act of Parliament.
- The government must infuse at one go whatever additional capital is needed to recapitalise banks — providing such capital in multiple instalments is not helpful.
- Over the medium term, the RBI needs to develop better mechanisms for monitoring macro-prudential indicators.
- Actions needs to be taken to strengthen the functioning of banks in general and, more particularly, PSBs. Governance at PSBs, meaning the functioning of PSB boards, can certainly improve.