Insights Daily Current Affairs, 17 March 2017

 

 


Insights Daily Current Affairs, 17 March 2017


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

National Health Policy 2017

 

The National Health Policy, 2017, was recently approved by the Union Cabinet, two years after a draft copy of the bill was circulated among stakeholders.

  • After considering suggestions from the public, state governments and others, the new policy will replace the previous one, which was framed 15 years ago in 2002.
  • The policy, which aims at providing healthcare in an “assured manner” to all, will address current and emerging challenges arising from the ever changing socio-economic, technological and epidemiological scenarios.

 

Key highlights:

  • The government aims in shifting focus from “sick-care” to “wellness”, by promoting prevention and well-being.
  • It intends on gradually increasing public health expenditure to 2.5% of the GDP.
  • It aims to strengthen health systems by ensuring everyone has access to quality services and technology despite financial barriers. The policy proposes increasing access, improving quality and reducing costs. It proposes free drugs, free diagnostics and free emergency and essential healthcare services in public hospitals.
  • It focusses on primary health care: The policy advocates allocating two-thirds (or more) of resources to primary care. It proposes two beds per 1,000 of the population to enable access within the golden hour (the first 60 minutes after a traumatic injury).
  • It aims to reduce morbidity and preventable mortality of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by advocating pre-screening.
  • It promotes ‘Make in India’ initiative by using drugs and devices manufactured in the country.
  • It highlights AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) as a tool for effective prevention and therapy that is safe and cost-effective. It proposes introducing Yoga in more schools and offices to promote good health.
  • It proposes reforming medical education.
  • The policy also lists quantitative targets regarding life expectancy, mortality and reduction of disease prevalence in line with the objectives of the policy.

 

Key targets:

  • Increase Life Expectancy at birth from 67.5 to 70 by 2025.
  • Reduce infant mortality rate to 28 by 2019.
  • Reduce Under Five Mortality to 23 by 2025.
  • Achieve the global 2020 HIV target (also termed 90:90:90; 90% of all people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of all people diagnosed with HIV infection receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression).
  • To reduce premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory diseases by 25% by 2025.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

New Chairman of National Commission for Safai Karamcharis

 

Shri Manhar Valji Bhai Zala has been appointed the new chairman of National Commission for Safai Karmachari.

 

About NCSK:

National Commission for Safai Karamcharis is an Indian statutory body was established through National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993. It aims to promote and safeguard the interests and rights of Safai Karamcharis.

The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis seeks to study, evaluate and monitor the implementation of various schemes for Safai Karamcharis as an autonomous organisation and also to provide redressal of their grievances.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2 Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

 

Gilgit-Baltistan to be declared a Province

 

Pakistan is planning to declare the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region as its fifth Province, a move that may raise concerns in India as it borders the disputed Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

 

Why is India concerned?

Gilgit-Baltistan is treated as a separate geographical entity by Pakistan. It has a regional Assembly and an elected Chief Minister. It is believed that China’s concerns about its unsettled status prompted the move, which could signal a historic shift in the country’s position on the future of the wider Kashmir region.

Gilgit-Baltistan shares a geographical boundary with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and India considers it as part of the undivided Jammu and Kashmir, while Pakistan sees it as a separate from PoK. The USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) also passes through this region.

 

Where is Gilgit Baltistan located?

It is located in the northern Pakistan. It borders China in the North, Afghanistan in the west, Tajikistan in the north west and Kashmir in the south east.

Gilgit-Baltistan is home to five of the “eight-thousanders” and to more than fifty peaks above 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). Three of the world’s longest glaciers outside the polar regions are found in Gilgit-Baltistan.  

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

 

Ban lawmakers from practising other professions: plea in SC

 

A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking to ban legislators from practising other professions, including as advocates.

 

Need for ban:

Many legislators who double up as advocates are even retainers of big corporate bodies entities, thus giving rise to a situation of conflict of interest between their constitutional duties as a legislator and a lawyer meant to vouchsafe the private interests of their client.

Currently, public servants and judges are barred from engaging in other professions.

 

Way ahead:

The petitioner argues that corruption cannot be curbed without having a uniform policy relating to conflict of interest and restricting legislators to practice other professions.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

U.K. grants doctors first licence to create 3-parent babies   

 

Britain’s fertility regulator has granted doctors the first U.K. licence to create babies using a three-parent IVF technique designed to prevent inherited genetic diseases.

  • The licence means the first child created in Britain using the mitochondrial pronuclear transfer technique could be born before the end of this year.

 

Background:

Britain’s Parliament voted last year to change the law to allow the treatments if and when they were ready for licensing. But the regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), still had to approve each clinic and each patient on an individual basis before the treatment can be carried out.

The world’s first and so-far only known mitochondrial transfer baby was born in 2016 after U.S. doctors working at a clinic in Mexico helped a Jordanian couple conceive using the treatment.

 

About the technique:

The treatment is known as “three-parent” IVF because the babies, born from genetically modified embryos, would have DNA from a mother, a father and from a woman donor.

  • The technique involves intervening in the fertilisation process to remove mitochondria, which act as tiny energy-generating batteries inside cells, and which — if faulty — can cause fatal heart problems, liver failure, brain disorders, blindness and muscular dystrophy.
  • It is designed to help families with mitochondrial diseases — incurable conditions passed down the maternal line that affect around one in 6,500 children worldwide.

 

Why is it so controversial?

Some people don’t like the idea of a baby having three biological parents, and argue that mitochondrial DNA goes some way to shaping important characteristics, such as personality. But the scientific consensus is that swapping mitochondria is similar to changing a battery – it’s unlikely to have much, if any, influence over a person’s behaviour.

  • Others have argued that the technique is unnecessary. After all, it won’t help those who have already been born with mitochondrial diseases. Parents often don’t find out they are carriers of these diseases until they give birth to sick children. And those who do know they could pass on a disease have other options, such as using a donor egg. The technique is specifically for people who carry genes for the disease, but want to have a child genetically related to them.
  • Another concern is that, by creating a new mix of genetic material, embryologists are creating lasting genetic changes that will be passed down through generations, before we have a chance to find out if they are dangerous. Some argue that this starts us on a slippery slope of germ-line editing – one that could eventually lead to “designer babies”.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it. 

 

Start-up firms may soon find it easy to wind up

 

To enable faster exit for start-ups and to bring the winding up process in line with global best practices, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has written to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) to notify start-ups as ‘Fast Track firms.’ Fast Track firms will be start-ups with simple debt structures or those meeting certain criteria that will be specified.  

Once this is notified, start-ups shall be able to wind up their business within a period of 90 days from making an application for the same.

 

Background:

The DIPP is the nodal Central government body for the Start-up India initiative, while the MCA is the concerned authority for notifications on winding up of companies. This reform was part of recommendations made by the ‘Bharat Navodaya: Start-Up India Reform Report’. The Report was prepared by the Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy-chaired Alternative Investment Policy Advisory Committee (AIPAC) following a request from capital markets regulator SEBI.

 

Significance of this move:

Winding up in the U.K. can be initiated by downloading a simple form and calling for a shareholders meeting. In Singapore, a simple online application is needed to be made by a director or Company Secretary following which, the process is quite straightforward. Most economic zones in UAE allow for winding down of the business in two to three days.

However, the procedure for winding is complex in India: Several parties including start-ups and venture capital investors have expressed concerns that the process of winding up a company is extremely long and cumbersome, adding to the risk of starting up and operating an enterprise as well as wastage of invaluable human capital.

Also, the long process, paper work and costs involved in the closure are the main reasons why several companies remain dormant. In some instances, entrepreneurs may continue to run companies on paper, filing tax returns and preparing annual reports every year, even if it is no longer operational.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

 

CAG pulls up I-T Dept. on shell companies

 

The Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) has pulled up the Income Tax Department for not putting to use the tools at its disposal for effective action against shell companies that conceal unaccounted-for income and generate black money, specifically with respect to Maharashtra Sales Tax Department findings.

 

What’s the issue?

In its latest report, the CAG said the Maharashtra State IT department’s website had a list of 2,059 suspicious dealers who had issued invoices involving tax evasion of over ₹10,640 crore. The auditor had sought details from the I-T Department in Mumbai on the assessees and the ultimate beneficiaries, but despite reminders, the data were not provided.

  • In 2008-09, the MSTD had informed the Bombay High Court that it had investigated 1,555 hawala operators involving 39,488 beneficiary dealers who had passed on an input tax credit of ₹1,333 crore in three years.
  • The accused claimed and got input tax credit against the declaration of fake tax invoices without actual transactions involving the sale and purchase of goods. To evade detection, payments were made against the invoices by cheque or bank transfers and the amounts were later withdrawn from the accounts of hawala operators.
  • The CAG relied upon the MSTD data for analysis and found that the Income Tax Department had not even scrutinised all the assessees featuring on the list.

 

Concerns:

The shell companies are used to generating bogus bills showing inflated expenses on various counts. They receive payments through the banking channel to project the transactions as genuine, and then return the rest to the ultimate beneficiaries after charging a commission. Unscrupulous tax consultants and chartered accounts are also involved in the setting up of such entities.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims

 

India hosts world’s oldest algae fossil:

  • Scientists in India have uncovered a pair of 1.6 billion-year-old fossils that appear to contain red algae, which may be the oldest plant-like life discovered on Earth. Until now, the oldest known red algae was 1.2 billion years old.
  • The fossils were discovered in sedimentary rocks at Chitrakoot in central India.