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Insights Daily Current Events, 20 January 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 20 January 2016

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Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure- Energy.

Power sector at ‘inflection point’: WEF report

A WEF report has indicated that India’s power sector is at an inflection point and most of its electricity demand in the next two decades will be met by burning fossil fuels despite huge investments in renewables.

  • The report is titled ‘The Future of Electricity in Fast-Growing Economies Attracting Investment to Provide Affordable, Accessible and Sustainable Power‘.
  • It has been prepared by WEF in collaboration with consultancy Bain & Company.

Important observations made in the report:

  • The report notes that India’s power sector is at an inflection point (a turning point), given the government’s conviction that electricity is a critical enabler for economic growth.
  • Noting that the government recognises the need for private investment in the power sector and is planning to adopt progressive policies on renewables, the report says alignment between federal and state government objectives is critical, as India devolves significant power to the states.
  • However, the report warns that even with the huge investments in renewables, most of the electricity consumed in India over the next two decades will be generated by burning fossil fuel. And hence it is time for India to improve the efficiency of the existing power infrastructure.
  • It asks the government to fix the viability of its distribution system and address fuel supply challenges.
  • WEF also noted that India’s plan to add 175 GW of capacity from renewables by 2022 can succeed only if the relevant stakeholders act in ways that encourage investment in this part of the sector.
  • It has asked the government to enforce the mechanisms underlying renewable purchase obligations (RPOs) and renewable generation obligations (RGOs), while also promoting open access for wind power. Critically, they should ensure long-term tariff consistency with no retroactive changes or flip-flops.
  • According to the report, non-OECD countries would have to double their annual investments in electricity from about USD 240 billion to USD 495 billion between 2015 and 2040. This would amount to USD 13 trillion required to satisfy growing demand and meet energy policy objectives.
  • Calling for developing an integrated outlook for the country’s energy sector, the World Economic Forum (WEF) report said tariffs and rates for fuel pricing, costs that are passed through to customers, and peak power policies and pricing should all be transparent and consistent across states.

India aims to have 100 GW of solar power by 2022 alongside its 260 GW of thermal and nuclear generation, and 62 GW of hydro generation capacity.

sources: bs.

 

Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Stressed loans worth Rs 80k cr to be restructured under 5/25 scheme in FY16: CRISIL

According to estimates by Assocham-CRISIL report, the 5/25 scheme set up by the Reserve Bank of India may see restructuring of stressed loans of about Rs 80,000 crore in this financial year.

  • The report notes that in the first half of the financial year, around Rs 50,000 crore of assets have been restructured via the scheme. However, CRISIL believes that going ahead, some of the assets restructured under this scheme may slip into the Non-Performing Assets (NPA) category.
  • The report also states that with the pressure of mounting bad loans on Public Sector Banks (PSBs), private sector banks will continue to take the edge in terms of growth.
  • CRISIL expects advances of private banks to grow at 24% compounded annual growth rate between fiscals year 2016-2019, materially ahead of 12% for PSBs over the same period. Thus, it is time for Public sector banks to focus on re-orienting their business model.

About the scheme:

The 5/25 scheme allows banks to extend the re-payment schedule of loans to 25 years, with an option to re-finance them at the end of five years.

  • It had been set up mainly with an aim to provide relief to the power and infrastructure sectors, the ones with a long gestation period.
  • The rationale behind the scheme is that it will help companies re-pay their loans as the economy picks up and the projects start making money instead of slipping into the bad loans category in a shorter-term period.
  • Experts also believe that the 5/25 scheme will enable banks to mitigate ALM (asset liability management) risks in funding long gestation projects.

sources: bs.

 

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

Irdai proposes fitness discounts in health insurance

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) recently came out with its draft on Health Insurance Regulations 2016.

Details:

  • In it draft, the IRDAI has said that insurers can provide discounts on renewal premiums based on fitness and wellness criteria.
  • It has asked the insurers to try and promote wellness amongst policyholders of health insurance by offering health-specific services offered by network providers, such as outpatient consultations or treatments, pharmaceuticals or health check-ups or discounts thereon at specified network providers.
  • The regulator adds that the costs towards above services would have to be factored in the pricing of the underlying health insurance product.
  • Also, with respect to senior citizens, IRDAI says the premium charged for health insurance products offered to them should be fair, justified, transparent and duly disclosed upfront. And the insured has to be informed in writing of any underwriting loading charged as filed and cleared over and above the premium. Specific consent of the policyholder for such loadings will have to be obtained before issuance of a policy.
  • The regulator has also called for establishing a separate channel to address the health-insurance-related claims and grievances of senior citizens.
  • It has also detailed its norms for ‘combi products’, which would be a combination of a life insurance policy and a health insurance policy.
  • The regulator has said that clear disclosures should be made on the two partners offering the products. There would be a ‘lead’ insurer in these products.

About IRDAI:

  • Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) is an autonomous body which regulates and develops the insurance industry in India.
  • It was constituted by an act of parliament called Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999.
  • The IRDA Act allows private players to enter the insurance sector in India.

sources: bs.

 

Paper 1 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Sex ratio down, literacy rate of women up: Family health survey

According to the first phase of the latest national family health survey, known as NFHS-4, the sex ratio in many states in India has significantly decreased.

  • The 11 states surveyed in the first phase were also surveyed in the last NFHS of 2005-06. These are Goa, Meghalaya, Uttarakhand, Tripura, Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana, Bihar, and West Bengal.

Highlights of the report:

  • In the past 10 years, the sex ratio has significantly decreased in nine out of 11 states of India, whereas women’s literacy has gone up in each of those states.
  • In these 11 states, on an average, there are 985 females per 1,000 males in 2015-16 compared to 1,000 females per 1,000 males in 2005-06. Women’s literacy has increased 12.15% in these 11 states.
  • Institutional deliveries – children delivered in a medical institution under supervision – increased by 32.8% in the past 10 years. Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Bihar saw a huge rise of 54.6%, 44.8% and 43.9%, respectively in institutional deliveries.
  • Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, which had 1,078 and 1,028 females per 1,000 males in 2005-06, now have only 1,033 and 979 females per 1,000 males, respectively. Women’s literacy increased 10% and 12%, respectively, in these two states.
  • The only state where the sex ratio rose was Uttarakhand – from 996 to 1,015 females per 1,000 males. Meghalaya saw its sex ratio stabilise at 1,005 females per 1,000 males. All other states saw a disturbing fall in sex ratio.
  • Child marriages also saw a reduction in the same time period – 13.17% for females and 6.7% for males – in these 11 states.

The ministry of health and family welfare had designated the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai as the nodal agency to conduct NFHS-4.

sources: bs.

 

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

The Lancet turns spotlight on ending preventable stillbirths

Concerned over the slow rate at which stillbirths have reduced across the world, missing a specific Millennium Development Goal target, the journal, The Lancet, has launched a series of five papers about ending preventable stillbirths and kick-started a campaign along with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

  • An estimated 2.6 million third trimester stillbirths occurred in 2015 across the world. Most stillbirths (98%) occur in low and middle income countries.
  • India continues to be at the top of the table in the rank for number of stillbirths in 2015, recording 5,92,100, followed by Nigeria, Pakistan, China and Ethiopia. Cultural taboos and superstitions often take the blame in the case of stillbirth.
  • In a recent study, 36% of respondents blamed the mother for her lifestyle or diet, 29% said the baby was never supposed to live and 25% blamed it on witchcraft or evil spirits.

Stillbirth: The birth of an infant that has died in the womb (strictly, after having survived through at least the first 28 weeks of pregnancy).

Cause of stillbirths:

  • It is reported that, in 18 countries with reliable data, congenital abnormalities account only for a median of 7.4% of stillbirths. Many disorders associated with stillbirths are potentially modifiable and often coexist — maternal infections, non-communicable diseases, nutrition, lifestyle factors and maternal age older than 35 years.
  • Prolonged pregnancies, when the baby is not born after 42 weeks of gestation, contribute to 14% of stillbirths.
  • Causal pathways for stillbirth frequently involve impaired placental function, either with growth restriction, or preterm labour or both.

It should also be noted that less than 5% of neonatal deaths and even fewer still births are registered. Hence, The Lancet calls for maintaining meticulous records of all births and deaths (maternal and foetal) in order to increase the availability of data, rationalising that while data alone will not help save lives, it would certainly indicate a way to target interventions to reach more than 7,000 women every day worldwide who experience the reality of stillbirth.

sources: the hindu.

 

Paper 3 Topic: conservation.

Ministry of Shipping initiates Project Green Port

The Ministry of Shipping has started ‘Project Green Ports’ which will help in making the Major Ports across India cleaner and greener.

Details:

  • ‘Project Green Ports’ will have two verticals – one is ‘Green Ports Initiatives’ related to environmental issues and second is ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’.
  • The Green Port Initiatives include twelve initiatives which will be implemented under strict time bound fashion in order to achieve the targets. Some of these initiatives are preparation and monitoring plan, acquiring equipments required for monitoring environmental pollution, acquiring dust suppression system, setting up of sewage/waste water treatment plants etc.
  • Under Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, the Ministry has identified 20 activities with certain time-line to promote cleanliness at the port premises. Some of the activities include cleaning the wharf, cleaning and repairing of sheds, cleaning and repairing of port roads, painting road signs, zebra crossing, pavement edges etc.

In order to achieve these objectives, regular training will be provided to the staff in order to generate awareness and inculcate a positive attitude towards keeping the environment clean and green. All the Major Ports have already initiated action on the above mentioned activities and are making good progress.

sources: pib.

 

Paper 1 Topic: social empowerment.

Bihar extends 35% reservation for women in all govt jobs

Bihar government has announced 35% reservation to women in government jobs in the state at all levels.

  • The decision was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet presided over by chief minister Nitish Kumar.
  • Earlier, the state government had provided 35% reservation to women in only police job.

sources: toi.