Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 26 October 2019
Table of contents:
GS Paper 2:
- Vigilance Awareness Week.
- Eligibility Criteria for Grant of Maharatna, Navratna and Miniratna Status.
- New guidelines released for peritoneal dialysis services.
- Who are the developing countries in the WTO?
GS Paper 3:
- IndiGen Genome project.
- UNEP Colombo Declaration.
GS Paper 2:
- Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
What to study?
For Prelims: CVC- eligibility, appointment and removal.
For Mains: Corruption- issues, challenges and ways to prevent.
Context: Vigilance Awareness Week to be observed from 28th October to 2nd November.
Theme of the Vigilance Awareness Week: “Integrity- A way of life”
- The Central Vigilance Commission aims to promote integrity, transparency and accountability in public life.
- As part of its efforts to promote probity in public life and to achieve a corruption free society, CVC observes Vigilance Awareness Week every year.
- The observation of Vigilance Awareness Week creates greater awareness among public and encourages all the stakeholders to collectively participate in prevention of and fight against Corruption.
It is the apex vigilance institution created via executive resolution (based on the recommendations of Santhanam committee) in 1964 but was conferred with statutory status in 2003.
It submits its report to the President of India.
Consists of central vigilance commissioner along with 2 vigilance commissioners.
They are appointed by the President of India on the recommendations of a committee consisting of Prime Minister, Union Home Minister and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha (if there is no LoP then the leader of the single largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha).
Their term is 4 years or 65 years, whichever is earlier.
The Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner can be removed from his office only by order of the President on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on a reference made to it by the President, has, on inquiry, reported that the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner, as the case may be, ought to be removed.
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
What to study?
For Prelims and mains: Eligibility Criteria for Grant of Maharatna, Navratna and Miniratna Status, implications and significance.
Context: Government of India has accorded ‘Maharatna’ status to public sector undertaking’s (PSU’s) Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and Power Grid Corporation.
- This will impart greater operational and financial autonomy thus enhancing powers to their Boards to take financial decisions.
- Boards of these PSUs can make equity investments to undertake financial joint ventures (JV) and wholly owned subsidiaries and undertake mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in India as well as abroad. This is however subjected to a ceiling of 15% of net worth of concerned CPSE, limited to Rs 5,000 crore in one project.
- The Boards can also structure and implement schemes relating to personnel as well as human resource management and training.
- Holding companies of a ‘Maharatna’ PSU are also empowered to float fresh equity, transfer assets, divest shareholding in subsidiaries, but are subjected to condition that the delegation will only be in respect of subsidiaries set up by holding company.
Criteria for grant of Maharatna status:
Shall be given to CPSEs:
- Having Navratna status.
- Listed on Indian stock exchange with minimum prescribed public shareholding under SEBI regulations.
- Average annual turnover of more than Rs. 25,000 crore, during the last 3 years.
- Average annual net worth of more than Rs. 15,000 crore, during the last 3 years.
- Average annual net profit after tax of more than Rs. 5,000 crore, during the last 3 years.
- Should have significant global presence/international operations.
Criteria for grant of Navratna status:
The Miniratna Category – I and Schedule ‘A’ CPSEs, which have obtained ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ rating under the Memorandum of Understanding system in three of the last five years, and have composite score of 60 or above in the six selected performance parameters, namely,
- net profit to net worth.
- manpower cost to total cost of production/services.
- profit before depreciation, interest and taxes to capital employed.
- profit before interest and taxes to turnover.
- earning per share.
- inter-sectoral performance.
Criteria for grant of Miniratna status:
The CPSEs which have made profits in the last three years continuously and have positive net worth are eligible to be considered for grant of Miniratna status.
Sources: the Hindu.
- Issues related to health.
What to study?
For Prelims: What is Peritoneal dialysis.
For Mains: Concerns and challenges present, need for govt intervention.
Context: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has come out with a set of guidelines for establishing peritoneal dialysis services under the Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme.
The new guidelines, among other things, envisage providing training to community health workers to provide support to persons on peritoneal dialysis at home or in primary health care settings.
Significance of these guidelines:
- The guidelines aim to serve as a comprehensive manual to states that intend to set up peritoneal dialysis services and for providers of peritoneal dialysis as a `best practice’ document to ensure delivery of high quality and cost effective services.
- It also aims to achieve equity in patient access to home-based peritoneal dialysis, reduce the overall cost of care to the system by focusing on efficient leveraging of resources, and bring in consistency of practice, pricing and a full range of product availability.
How is peritoneal dialysis performed?
During peritoneal dialysis, a cleansing fluid (dialysate) is circulated through a tube (catheter) inside a part of the abdominal cavity (peritonealcavity).
The dialysate absorbs waste products from blood vessels in the abdominal lining (peritoneum) and then is drawn back out of the body and discarded.
Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme:
Rolled out in 2016 as part of the National Health Mission(NHM) for provision of free dialysis services to the poor.
The Guidelines for Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme envisage provision of dialysis services under NHM in PPP (Public Private Partnership) mode.
Need for govt intervention:
- Every year about 2.2 Lakh new patients of End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) get added in India resulting in additional demand for 3.4 Crore dialysis every year.
- With approximately 4950 dialysis centres, largely in the private sector in India, the demand is less than half met with existing infrastructure.
- Since every Dialysis has an additional expenditure tag of about Rs.2000, it results in a monthly expenditure for patients to the tune of Rs.3-4 Lakhs annually.
- Besides, most families have to undertake frequent trips, and often over long distances to access dialysis services incurring heavy travel costs and loss of wages for the patient and family members accompanying the patient.
- This therefore leads to financial catastrophe for practically all families with such patients.
- It has been felt that both in terms of provision of this important life saving procedure and also for reducing impoverishment on account of out of pocket expenditure for patients, a Dialysis program is required.
Sources: the Hindu.
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
What to study?
For Prelims: Categories of countries in WTO.
For Mains: Need for, implicating, significance and concerns.
Context: South Korea has said that it will no longer seek special treatment reserved for developing countries by the World Trade Organization in future negotiations given its enhanced global economic status.
South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, has maintained its developing country status as a member of the WTO since the body’s creation in 1995, mainly to guard its agriculture industry.
Who are the developing countries in the WTO?
There are no WTO definitions of “developed” and “developing” countries. Members announce for themselves whether they are “developed” or “developing” countries.
However, other members can challenge the decision of a member to make use of provisions available to developing countries.
What are the advantages of “developing country” status?
Developing country status in the WTO brings certain rights.
Developing country status ensures special and differential treatment (S&DT) or provisions which allow them more time to implement agreements and commitments, include measures to increase trading opportunities, safeguard their trade interests, and support to build capacity to handle disputes and implement technical standards.
Demands by developed countries:
For sometime now, developed countries, mainly the US, have been asking the WTO to end the benefits being given to developing countries.
Nearly two-thirds of the members of the World Trade Organization(WTO) have been able to avail themselves of special treatment and to take on weaker commitments under the WTO framework by designating themselves as developing countries.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3:
- Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
What to study?
For prelims: What is genome sequencing and how is it done?
For Mains: Significance, need and challenges to the project.
Context: Details of the IndiGen Genome project, conducted by CSIR, were recently announced.
The initiative was implemented by the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi and CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad.
Significance, outcomes and benefits of the project:
The outcomes of the IndiGen will have applications in a number of areas including predictive and preventive medicine with faster and efficient diagnosis of rare genetic diseases.
The data will be important for building the knowhow, baseline data and indigenous capacity in the emerging area of Precision Medicine.
About Genomics for Public Health in India (IndiGen) programme:
IndiGen programme aims to undertake whole genome sequencing of thousands of individuals representing diverse ethnic groups from India.
The objective is to enable genetic epidemiology and develop public health technologies applications using population genome data.
Need for genome sequencing:
- Ever since the human genome was first sequenced in 2003, it opened a fresh perspective on the link between disease and the unique genetic make-up of each individual.
- Nearly 10,000 diseases — including cystic fibrosis, thalassemia — are known to be the result of a single gene malfunctioning.
- While genes may render some insensitive to certain drugs, genome sequencing has shown that cancer too can be understood from the viewpoint of genetics, rather than being seen as a disease of certain organs.
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Nitrogen- natural cycle, pollution and ways to prevent it, South Asian Nitrogen Hub, About Colombo declaration, INMS ans INI.
Context: UN Environment Programme (UNEP) member states recently adopted the “Colombo Declaration” which calls for tackling global nitrogen challenge.
Highlights of the declaration:
- The Colombo Declaration has been developed with the technical support of the International Nitrogen Management System (INMS), a joint activity of the UNEP and the International Nitrogen Initiative supported by the Global Environmental Facility.
- The aim is to halve nitrogen waste by 2030.
- A campaign on sustainable nitrogen management called “Nitrogen for Life” is to be launched. It stems from the Sustainable Nitrogen Management Resolution which was adopted during the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly held from 11 – 15 March 2019 at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.
- The Declaration calls upon UN agencies, other international organizations, development partners, philanthropic agencies, academic and civil society organizations to support its implementation.
- It also urges countries to conduct a comprehensive assessment on nitrogen cycling covering policy, implementation, regulation, and scientific aspects at a national level plus sensitize the citizens to understand the natural nitrogen cycle and how human impacts alter its balance.
What necessitated this?
While a critical element for building structures of living organisms and an essential element for the survival of all living things, nitrogen overuse has negative impacts on the planet, biodiversity and is a contributor to the climate crisis.
How Nitrogen turned into pollutant from nutrient how it is affecting health and environment?
- Nitrogen is an inert gas that’s necessary for life. But we’re changing it into forms that are harmful, overloading the environment with it, and throwing the natural nitrogen cycle out of whack.
- Nitrogen compounds running off farmland have led to water pollution problems around the world, while nitrogen emissions from industry, agriculture and vehicles make a big contribution to air pollution.
- Over 80% of the nitrogen in soil is not utilised by humans. While over four-fifths of the nitrogen is used to feed livestock, only about six per cent reaches humans in case of non-vegetarian diet, as compared to the 20% that reaches the plate of a vegetarian.
- Nitrogen becomes a pollutant when it escapes into the environment and reacts with other organic compounds. It is either released into the atmosphere, gets dissolved in water sources such as rivers, lakes or groundwater, or remains in the soil. While it might lead to favourable growth of species that can utilise this nutrient, nitrogen as a pollutant is often detrimental to the environment and health.
- According to the World Health Organization, nitrate-contaminated drinking water can cause reduced blood function, cancer and endemic goiters. Surplus inputs of nitrogen compounds have been found to cause soil acidification. The lowering pH, as a result of the acidification, can lead to nutrient disorders and increased toxicity in plants. It may also affect natural soil decomposition.