Insights Daily Current Events, 23 October 2015
Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.
RSBY failing to provide risk cover
An evaluation of the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) has concluded that the RSBY scheme has had little or no impact on medical impoverishment in India.
- The assessment was conducted by the Council for Social Development and the report is titled, “India: Social Development Report 2014.”
- The authors of the study compared data before and after the launch of RSBY to understand the emerging trends in out-of-pocket expenditure for medical care in India.
- The aim of the study was to study the impact of RSBY and evaluate how much financial risk protection it granted to beneficiaries.
- Despite high enrolment in RSBY, catastrophic health expenditures (when medical expenses push a family into poverty), hospitalization expenditure and the percentage of total household outgo on out-of-pocket (OOP) expenses — medicines and other consumables that are not reimbursed by insurance — have steadily increased, for both in-patients and outpatients, over the last two decades.
- Between 2004-05 and 2011-12, hospitalization expenses have increased at a much higher rate (9.2%) compared to outpatient expenses (4.5%) or medicines (4.85%).
- The poorer income sections in RSBY have experienced a rise in catastrophic headcount.
These findings indicate that RSBY and other state run insurance programmes have failed to provide financial risk protection.
Why they have failed?
- According to the study, a major design flaw in RSBY and other such state health insurance programmes is their narrow focus on secondary and tertiary care hospitalization.
- The study also says that RSBY was being used mostly by those who already had better access (to healthcare services) and the most marginalized sections were being excluded further.
RSBY and similar state run health schemes are designed with the intention to address low-volume, high-value financial transactions that could result in catastrophic expenditure and impoverishment of households. However, these evidences suggest the opposite trend.
Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY):
RSBY was launched by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India to provide health insurance coverage for Below Poverty Line (BPL) families.
- Beneficiaries under RSBY are entitled to hospitalization coverage up to Rs. 30,000/- for most of the diseases that require hospitalization.
- Government has even fixed the package rates for the hospitals for a large number of interventions.
- Pre-existing conditions are covered from day one and there is no age limit.
- Coverage extends to five members of the family, which includes the head of household, spouse and up to three dependents.
- Beneficiaries need to pay only Rs. 30/- as registration fee while Central and State Government pays the premium to the insurer selected by the State Government on the basis of a competitive bidding.
How RSBY is different from other schemes?
- Empowering the beneficiary – RSBY provides the participating BPL household with freedom of choice between public and private hospitals and makes him a potential client worth attracting on account of the significant revenues that hospitals stand to earn through the scheme.
- Business Model for all Stakeholders – The scheme has been designed as a business model for a social sector scheme with incentives built for each stakeholder.
- Hospitals – A hospital has the incentive to provide treatment to large number of beneficiaries as it is paid per beneficiary treated.
- Intermediaries – The inclusion of intermediaries such as NGOs and MFIs which have a greater stake in assisting BPL households.
- Information Technology (IT) Intensive – For the first time IT applications are being used for social sector scheme on such a large scale. Every beneficiary family is issued a biometric enabled smart card containing their fingerprints and photographs. All the hospitals empanelled under RSBY are IT enabled and connected to the server at the district level. This will ensure a smooth data flow regarding service utilization periodically.
- Safe and foolproof – The use of biometric enabled smart card and a key management system makes this scheme safe and foolproof. The key management system of RSBY ensures that the card reaches the correct beneficiary and there remains accountability in terms of issuance of the smart card and its usage. The biometric enabled smart card ensures that only the real beneficiary can use the smart card.
- Portability – The key feature of RSBY is that a beneficiary who has been enrolled in a particular district will be able to use his/ her smart card in any RSBY empanelled hospital across India. This makes the scheme truly unique and beneficial to the poor families that migrate from one place to the other. Cards can also be split for migrant workers to carry a share of the coverage with them separately.
- Cash less and Paperless transactions – A beneficiary of RSBY gets cashless benefit in any of the empanelled hospitals. He/ she only needs to carry his/ her smart card and provide.
Sources: the Hindu, pib.
Paper 1 Topic: urbanization.
Centre clears first batch of flagship urban projects
The Urban Development Ministry has cleared the first batch of projects under the flagship Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for 89 cities worth Rs.2,786 crore.
- The States that are getting benefited from this push are Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
- This is for the first time in India’s urban governance that the Urban Development Ministry is sending money to States in massive chunks so that the development projects are run without financial delays.
- This is also the first time that the Urban Development Ministry approved State level plans unlike the past practice of appraising and approving individual projects.
- The focus of these approved urban renewal projects would be on establishing infrastructure that could ensure adequate water supply and robust sewerage networks.
Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT):
AMRUT is the new avatar of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
- It adopts a project approach to ensure basic infrastructure services relating to water supply, sewerage, storm-water drains, transportation and development of green spaces and parks with special provision for meeting the needs of children.
- Under this mission, 10% of the budget allocation will be given to states and union territories as incentive based on the achievement of reforms during the previous year.
- It is being implemented in 500 locations with a population of one lakh and above.
- It would cover some cities situated on stems of main rivers; a few state capitals and important cities located in hilly areas, islands and tourist areas.
- Under this mission, states get the flexibility of designing schemes based on the needs of identified cities and in their execution and monitoring.
- States will only submit state annual action Plans to the centre for broad concurrence based on which funds will be released.
- Central assistance will be to the extent of 50% of project cost for cities and towns with a population of up to 10 lakhs and one-third of the project cost for those with a population of above 10 lakhs.
- Under the mission, states will transfer funds to urban local bodies within 7 days of transfer by central government and no diversion of funds to be made failing which penal interest would be charged besides taking other adverse action by the centre.
Sources: the Hindu, pib.
Paper 3 Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
Spy cam project fails to click
A pilot project to install high-resolution surveillance cameras along the China border, undertaken in 2013 to monitor the movement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) has failed to give the desired results and the government is now rethinking its strategy.
- The project was initiated in 2014 in the wake of the 21-day face-off with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China at Depsang Valley in the Ladakh region.
- Initially, it was planned to install surveillance cameras along the unmanned pockets on the China border. It was decided that the cameras would be put up at 50 locations in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim and Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
- The cameras were to relay live-feed in a 20-25 km range to help the security personnel deployed there to plan patrolling in vulnerable areas more effectively.
- The pilot project was taken up at Thakung post, which is a high-altitude terrain. However, the weather is not favourable there as high-velocity winds and frost tend to blur the images. It has not been possible to establish proper links.
- The official are looking for better technology now.
- The Indian Army, which is the second line of defence along the China border, does its own surveillance with the help of unmanned aerial vehicles but this also has its limitations.
China has a robust surveillance system on its side. They have put up a well-knit surveillance network on their side. India has always maintained that incidents of transgressions occur due to difference in perception regarding the border. After the NDA government came to power, the frequency of patrolling along the China border has increased.
Sources: the Hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: disaster management.
India China Joint Exercise Hand-in-Hand : 2015 Concludes
The fifth round of India-China joint military exercises was recently concluded in the Chinese city of Kunming with the two countries holding a unique mock exercise depicting counter-terror operations at the Sino-Indian border.
- The 10-day exercises codenamed ‘Hand-in-Hand’ was supervised by a joint delegation of observers, who expressed satisfaction at the level of assimilation achieved, said the statement.
- The exercise featuring troops from both sides at the border was regarded significant considering recent tensions between the two militaries in the Ladakh region, where Indian troops objected to attempts by their Chinese counterparts to claim areas on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Earlier editions of the Sino-Indian military drills mainly focused on countering terrorism, but humanitarian assistance and disaster relief emerged as a top priority during the latest round of drills. The devastating earthquake in Nepal, to which troops from India and China were among the first responders, appears to have imparted fresh urgency among military planners of the two countries to include disaster relief on the agenda of joint military exercises.
Sources: the Hindu, pib.
Paper 1 Topic: Art and culture.
Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships and Awards for 2014
The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee recently conferred the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards for the year 2014 at a function held in Rashtrapati Bhavan.
About the akademi:
The Sangeet Natak Akademi – India’s national academy for music, dance and drama – is the first National Academy of the arts set-up by the Republic of India. It was created by a resolution of Government of India. It was set up in 1952.
- The academy functions as the apex body of the performing arts in the country to preserve and promote the vast cultural heritage of India expressed in music, dance and drama.
- It also works with governments and art academies in states and territories of the country.
- The academy Renders advice and assistance to the government of India in the task of formulating and implementing policies and programmes in the field. It carries a part of the responsibilities of the state for fostering cultural contacts between regions in the country, as well as between India and the world.
- The Akademi Awards are the highest national recognition conferred on eminent artistes.
- Each year the Academy awards Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships, Ratna Sadsya, to distinguished individuals for their contribution to the field of arts, music, dance and theatre.
- Ustad Bismillah Khan award is given to young artists for their talent in the fields of music, dance and drama.
Sources: the Hindu, wiki.