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Insights Daily Current Events, December 26, 2013


December 26, 2013


Maternal mortality ratio comes down to 178

  • India inches closer to achieving millennium development goal of Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) 109 by year 2015. According to the recent data, released by the Registrar-General of India, the MMR (number of women who die of pregnancy-related causes per 1,00,000 live births) has come down to 178 from 212, an annual decline of 5.7%.
  • While Kerala has the lowest MMR at 66 as against 81 in 2007-2009 Sample Registration Survey figures, Assam tops the list in absolute numbers with 328 deaths per 1,00,000 live births, though the number has declined by 5.6 per cent from the previous figure of 390.
  • Tamil Nadu, which was at the second position in the last survey reporting only 97 deaths, has slipped to the third position with 90 deaths due to the better performance of Maharashtra, where the number of pregnancy-related deaths has come down to 87 from 104.
  • The eight Empowered Action Group (EAG) States (Rajasthan, Bihar/Jharkhand, U.P, Madhya Pradesh, Chahatisgarh etc), which traditionally had very bad health indicators, have shown remarkable achievements.
  • The star performers in that order are Rajasthan, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The lowest decline is in Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Punjab.
  • The Centre has launched several schemes under the NRHM for improving reproductive and child health, including Janani shishu Suraksha Karyakram, free transportation and focussing on adolescent health, whose full impact would be known only in the coming years. States have also taken measures to save mothers and infants.
  • In Bihar, the government has provided caesarean facilities at 60 places which have helped save lives. Early detection of complications, provision of ambulances, enlarging the pool of anaesthetists by training MBBS doctors and providing good residential facilities for doctors have vastly improved the situation in the State.

More about Janani –Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK), 2011

  • JSSK would provide completely free and cashless services to pregnant women including normal deliveries and caesarean operations and sick new born (up to 30 days after birth) in Government health institutions in both rural and urban areas.
  • The Free Entitlements under JSSK would include:
  • Free and Cashless Delivery, Free C-Section, Free treatment of sick-new-born up to 30 days, Exemption from User Charges, Free Drugs and Consumables, Free Diagnostics, Free Diet during stay in the health institutions – 3 days in case of normal delivery and 7 days in case of caesarean section, Free Provision of Blood, Free Transport from Home to Health Institutions, Free Transport between facilities in case of referral as also Drop Back from Institutions to home after 48hrs stay. Free Entitlements for Sick newborns till 30 days after birth similarly include Free treatment, Free drugs and consumables, Free diagnostics, Free provision of blood, Exemption from user charges, Free Transport from Home to Health Institutions, Free Transport between facilities in case of referral and Free drop Back from Institutions to home.
  • JSSK supplements the cash assistance given to a pregnant woman under Janani Suraksha Yojana and is aimed at mitigating the burden of out of pocket expenses incurred by pregnant women and sick newborns.
  • Besides it would be a major factor in enhancing access to public health institutions and help bring down the Maternal Mortality and Infant mortality rates.
  •  Presently it is noted that, out of pocket expenses and user charges for transport, admission, diagnostic tests, medicines and consumables, caesarean operation are being incurred by pregnant women and their families even in the case of institutional deliveries.

Courtesy –

To know more about NRHM refer our ‘Insights Current Events Analysis Magazine’ (NOVEMBER, 2013)

National Commission for Women for a separate law to protect trafficked women

  • Concerned at feminisation of migration, which has often resulted in women being trafficked and becoming vulnerable to harm, including abuse at work, poor living conditions and health risks, the National Commission for Women (NCW) has recommended special laws to protect them.
  • The panel has also demanded a national policy for domestic workers, and asked the Ministry of Women and Child Development to formulate a draft integrated plan of action to combat trafficking in women and children.
  • Taking ‘suo motu’ cognisance of media reports of women being trafficked for forced labour, the NCW has recommended that the Ministry of Home Affairs draft a special law to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children. The special law should include the definition of trafficking as per Article 3 of United Nations Convention 2000 and its Protocol, to include the term “abuse of position of vulnerability” (which is missing in Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code).
  • Trafficking in persons should mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, fraud, deception and abuse of power of position or even receiving or giving payments to achieve the consent of the person, resulting in exploitation.
  • Some other forms of exploitation are sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or similar practices, servitude or the removal of organs. This should be extended to offences committed outside India and women should be given provision for security and control of documents in order to ensure that travel or identity documents issued, especially to women, cannot be easily misused, readily falsified or unlawfully altered, replicated or issued. The NCW has suggested that cases of missing women be linked with investigations into trafficking.
  • The NCW has recommended the Labour Ministry to draft legislation for the regulation of domestic work with a gender component and formulate a national policy for domestic workers, it says it should include a provision to inform domestic workers of their terms of employment in an appropriate, verifiable and easily understandable manner and, preferably, where possible, through written contracts in vernacular language.
  • Pointing out that the fundamental right to freedom of movement is a woman’s right which must be distinguished from trafficking, which is coercive and violent. A frequently used method of deception by traffickers is luring vulnerable girls on the promise of ‘lucrative jobs’. According to the Commission, women migrate for multiple reasons, including displacement and dispossession, search for sustainable livelihoods, naxal activity, more fulfilling opportunities or an aspiration for a better life.
  • Prevention of trafficking in women requires not only examining the factors that contribute to the problem but also providing awareness among potential victims in order to reduce the traffickers abusing their position of vulnerability, suggesting that the need was to identify women who were at the risk of being trafficked, and provide them with the necessary tools to find work without putting them at risk.

Delimitation will be over in time: Election Commission

  • On the orders of the Supreme Court (SC), to change the status of some Lok Sabha/Assembly constituencies from the general category to reserved seats for SCs/STs and vice versa, the Delimitation Commission has started working on it in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Readjustment of reserved constituencies would be based on the notification issued by the Registrar- General of Census, with 2001 population figures as the base.
  • Though this was an all-India exercise, there would’nt be large changes, since de-reservation of constituencies and vice versa was being carried out only in places where there were significant changes in the SC/ST population or inclusion of new castes under the SC/ST.
  • However, as already decided by the Delimitation Commission, there would be no changes in the geographical limits/boundaries of the Lok Sabha/Assembly constituencies till 2026.
  • Recently (a few months ago), the Law Ministry had issued a notification empowering the EC to do the duties of the Delimitation Commission so as to determine the change in composition of any constituency where the government had included in or excluded any caste from the SC/ST category between 2001 and 2012. (Earlier, the EC did not have the powers to alter the reserved seats and it could be done only through a nationwide delimitation exercise.)
  • With this, the EC can carry out a limited corrective exercise immediately rather than waiting for decades for the outcome of the next delimitation exercise to decide whether a particular constituency should be reserved for SC/ST candidates or thrown open for the general category.

More about Delimitation Commission:

  • Delimitation literally means the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province having a legislative body. The job of delimitation is assigned to a high power
  • body. Such a body is known as Delimitation Commission or a Boundary Commission.
  • In India, such Delimitation Commissions have been constituted 4 times in 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952, in 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962, in 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972 and in 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002.
  • Under Article 82 of the Constitution, the Parliament by law enacts a Delimitation Act after every census. After coming into force commencement of the Act, the Central Government constitutes a Delimitation Commission. This Delimitation Commission demarcates the boundaries of the Parliamentary Constituencies as per provisions of the Delimitation Act.
  • The present delimitation of constituencies has been done on the basis of 2001 census figures under the provisions of Delimitation Act, 2002. Notwithstanding the above, the Constitution of India was specifically amended in 2002 not to have delimitation of constituencies till the first census after 2026. Thus, the present Constituencies carved out on the basis of 2001 census shall continue to be in operation till the first census after 2026.

Courtesy –

Ruling on clinical trials is in national interest

  • The recent Supreme Court ruling on, and stringent regulations for, clinical trials was a setback for drugs research in India. Not many pharmaceutical companies are coming forward for clinical trials now. There has been a 50% drop in clinical trials after stringent regulations were put in place, but they would pick up in the coming days.
  • The changes were meant to protect the national interest and to do justice to those who participated in the trials.
  • The Ministry has laid down tough rules to make companies liable for the death of, or injury to, any drug trial subject. Even permission for such trials is given after a rigorous process. Simultaneously, the Supreme Court has suspended 157 previously approved trials pending review by new committees. This slowed down new trials, especially those by foreign companies or those being lined up with foreign collaboration.
  • The court’s order came in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) petition, which said trials in India had exploited poor patients who were not even aware that the drugs were still being tested.
  • India made sweeping changes to the rules of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, which governs clinical trials, making it mandatory for the principal investigator of the pharmaceutical company to reveal the contract between the subject and the company to the Drugs Controller-General of India. Earlier, the informed consent of the persons on which the trials had been conducted was often manipulated by the companies to the disadvantage of the subjects.
  • Videography of the process of informed consent, with the full knowledge of the participant, had been made mandatory, and any death during a trial would have to be reported to the DCGI within 24 hours. The Drug Testing Advisory Board was the only body for granting permission for trials.

To know more about Clinical trials refer our ‘Insights Current Events Analysis Magazine’ (NOVEMBER, 2013)

Cyber-attacks on the rise

  • According to the latest report of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) under the Department of Electronics and Information Technology there has been a major increase in attacks on Indian websites in recent months, the most vulnerable being those of critical government organisations like banking and finance, oil and gas and emergency services.
  • The most targeted websites included those having ‘.in’ domain, which is mostly used by government ministries and departments, besides some major private organisations.
  • Defacing of a website is an act of cyber terrorism, particularly when the target belonged to critical government infrastructure. Hackers have targeted these important websites to reduce public confidence in the security of a system and its trustworthiness for use for sensitive purposes.


  • What do you understand by ‘cyber-terrorism’? Its impact on the economy of India?
  • Has India taken any steps to curtail the cyber threats?
  • Do you think cyber terrorism needs to be tackled on a larger scale (international fora)? How can this be done?
  • What do you think is the difference between NSA snooping and Cyber terrorism?

Armed forces use disability programme to reach out in border areas

  • The Mission Ability beyond Disability, launched in 2005 by Anupama Singh, an accomplished painter, socialite and wife of former Army Chief General J. J. Singh, is being used by the armed forces to reach out to persons with disability (PwD) in far flung border districts of the country.
  • As part of the mission, camps have been organised for distributing various devices to PwD in Kargil, the border regions of Jammu and Kashmir, Tamenglong in Manipur, and Tawang, Seppa and Zero in Arunachal Pradesh. The mission has also held a camp at the remote Little Andaman Island.


India may make fresh efforts to end Syrian crisis

  • India is poised again for a more active role in Syria, after having been involved in unsuccessful attempts to resolve the conflict in that country when it was a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for two years.
  • India would join international efforts to destroy chemical weapons at Geneva II, the U.N.-sponsored international conference on Syria, scheduled in January, 2014. The first meeting resulted in the Geneva communiqué that supported a political transition without insisting on President Bashar-al Assad’s exit and a transition plan. India was also an Observer in Friends of Syria, a grouping that tried to push through regime change.
  • Also there is a possibility that India might join international efforts to destroy Syria’s stockpile. The destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons involves multi-state participation. India was an early supporter of Russia’s proposal for keeping Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons in safe custody, even while opposing military intervention and moving towards a political settlement, possibly with Geneva-II.
  • India has also announced its contribution of $1 million to the OPCW. The percentage of Indians in OPCW inspections worldwide has always been high and Indian facilities.
  • Indian experts will help destroy the stockpile and train other personnel taking part in this mission. India is one of the founder-signatories to the Chemical Weapons Convention and has destroyed its weapons in accordance with the Convention.

Egypt declares Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group

  • Egypt’s military-installed government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood of ousted president Mohamed Morsy a “terrorist” group banning all its activities (even protests-‘strikes’)
  • The decision is likely to accelerate a crackdown on the movement that has killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Islamists, in street clashes and imprisoned thousands since Mr. Morsy’s overthrow by the military in July, 2013.
  • However, Mr. Morsy’s supporters, who continue to organise demonstrations demanding his reinstatement, insist they are for peaceful protest.


Mauritius tightens norms to check proxy tag

  • Long accused of being a route for avoiding taxes for foreign investments into India, Mauritius has put additional safeguards in place to thwart such wrong perceptions and to boost its image as a preferred global financial centre.
  • Mauritius’ integrated financial sector regulator Financial Services Commission (FSC) has put in place ‘greater substance requirements’ for global business companies operating from its jurisdiction to ensure their substantial presence there, and not just a ‘proxy address’ to benefit from tax treaties with India and other countries.
  • These additional requirements being imposed on Global Business Category (GBC) 1 companies will lead to the creation of more economic nexus between those companies and the economy of the island.
  • Most global investors use GBC-1 route to make investments into India and other countries through Mauritius.
  • In its attempt to stop round-tripping and money laundering activities, Mauritius has agreed to include a ‘limitation of benefits (LoB)’ clause in its revised tax treaty with India.

Significance of LoB clause:

  • While specific details of this clause in India-Mauritius tax treaty are being ironed out, LoB clauses are typically aimed at preventing ‘treaty shopping’ or inappropriate use of tax pacts by third-country investors.
  • The LoB clause limits treaty benefits to those who meet certain conditions, including those related to business, residency and investment commitments of the entity seeking benefit of a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA).

Besides, a Tax Information and Exchange Agreement (TIEA) between India and Mauritius has been finalised.

There has been cooperation from both sides on information exchange and with this  India’s share in the number of investments made by global companies through Mauritius has almost been halved in the past two years even as Africa’s share has surged significantly, amid uncertainties over the bilateral tax treaty.

The share in the number of investments made by global business companies into India has slumped to almost 16% in 2012. In 2010, India’s share was as high as 32%, before declining to 23% in 2011.

To know more about Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs):

  • The purpose of this Agreement is to promote international co-operation in tax matters through exchange of information.  It was developed by the OECD Global Forum Working Group on Effective Exchange of Information
  • The Agreement grew out of the work undertaken by the OECD to address harmful tax practices. The lack of effective exchange of information is one of the key criteria in determining harmful tax practices. The mandate of the Working Group was to develop a legal instrument that could be used to establish effective exchange of information. The Agreement represents the standard of effective exchange of information for the purposes of the OECD’s initiative on harmful tax practices.
  • This Agreement, which was released in April 2002, is not a binding instrument but contains two models for bilateral agreements.  A number of bilateral agreements have been based on this Agreement.