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Insights Daily Current Events, 30 April 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 30 April 2016


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

Gujarat clears 10% quota for poor in a bid to pacify Patels

Gujarat government has announced a separate 10% quota for economically backward classes (EBC) in higher education and government jobs.

  • The new category would cover all upper castes, including Patidars, whose family income does not exceed Rs 6 lakh per annum.
  • In this regard, the state government will come out with an ordinance on May 1, celebrated as the foundation day of Gujarat.

Criticisms:

  • According to few experts, the quota is impermissible in the Constitution under its Article 16(1), which prohibits reservation on the basis of economic backwardness.
  • It also goes against Article 16 (4), which provides for reservation on caste basis.
  • The Supreme Court has also made it clear that there cannot be a quota on the basis of economic backwardness in the Indra Sawhney case in 1992.

Way ahead:

The government is firm about this. It has decided to take the fight to the highest level for implementation of the 10% EBC quota. If there is any legal issue, the government has indicated that it will fight it till the Supreme Court.

Sources: the hindu.


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

NPPA caps prices of another 50 drugs

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has capped the prices of 50 drugs and revised the prices of four others.

  • This is part of the new drug pricing control order, notified on March 14, which effectively brings 200 more drug formulations under regulation.
  • NPPA is also planning to cap the prices of 40 other drugs, for which it has asked all the companies to provide requisite information by May 10.

Background:

In December 2015, while issuing a new National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), the government had added 106 and removed 70 medicines from the earlier one of 2011, expanding the list to 376 from 348 earlier. Whenever there is a new NLEM, the government has to issue a new Drug Price Control Order and NPPA needs to set their ceiling prices subsequently.

Based on the new NLEM, the government on March 14 notified the Drugs (Price Control) Amendment Order, 2016. It has 820 formulations. There were 628 formulations under the DPCO of 2013, notified in the wake of the NLEM of 2011.

National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)

NPPA is an organization of the Government of India which was established, inter alia, to fix/ revise the prices of controlled bulk drugs and formulations and to enforce prices and availability of the medicines in the country, under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995.

  • The organization is also entrusted with the task of recovering amounts overcharged by manufacturers for the controlled drugs from the consumers.
  • It also monitors the prices of decontrolled drugs in order to keep them at reasonable levels.

Functions of National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority:

  • To implement and enforce the provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order in accordance with the powers delegated to it.
  • To deal with all legal matters arising out of the decisions of the Authority;
  • To monitor the availability of drugs, identify shortages, if any, and to take remedial steps;
  • To collect/ maintain data on production, exports and imports, market share of individual companies, profitability of companies etc, for bulk drugs and formulations;
  • To undertake and/ or sponsor relevant studies in respect of pricing of drugs/ pharmaceuticals;
  • To recruit/ appoint the officers and other staff members of the Authority, as per rules and procedures laid down by the Government;
  • To render advice to the Central Government on changes/ revisions in the drug policy;
  • To render assistance to the Central Government in the parliamentary matters relating to the drug pricing.

Sources: bs.


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

Food Act implemented without proper preparation: CAG

The Comptroller and Auditor General, in its audit report, has rapped the Centre for delay in implementation of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and extending its rollout thrice without Parliament approval.

Details:

  • The NFSA, which came into force from July 5, 2013, has been rolled out in 33 regions so far. The CAG has evaluated preparedness of 18 regions for implementation of the law in its audit report. In these states, only 51% of the eligible beneficiaries have been identified and 49% beneficiaries were yet to be identified in all states/UTs.
  • CAG notes that states have not identified beneficiaries in a systematic manner and has blamed the Centre for failing to resolve the issues raised by states during the formulation phase and also after enactment of the law, which led to delay in implementation in several states and union territories.
  • The delay in implementation of NFSA by non-implementing states/UTs is attributed to non-finalisation of a number of beneficiaries under the socio-economic caste census, lack of infrastructure facilities, insufficient funds and manpower.
  • Also, most implementing states did not identify the poorest of the poor called Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and priority households’ beneficiaries as per the provisions of the NFSA, but used the old database for extending the benefits.
  • To check anomalies in identification of beneficiaries, the CAG recommended that the Centre may issue, in consultation with state governments, guidelines on identification of beneficiaries to maintain transparency.
  • It also said the Centre “must assure itself of the actual beneficiaries by the states/UTs by following transparent processes before allowing them revised/enhanced entitlements.”

NFSA aims to provide foodgrains to 81.34 crore beneficiaries at highly subsidised rate of Rs 1-3 per kg. The law seeks to bring about changes in PDS that suffered from several deficiencies.

Sources: bs.


Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

India, Papua New Guinea sign four crucial agreements

India and Papua New Guinea have signed four agreements, including in areas of healthcare and information technology, during President Pranab Mukherjee’s recent visit to this Pacific island-nation. Papua New Guinea is the largest of all the Pacific island-nations and Mukherjee’s visit is the first ever presidential visit from India to this country.

The four MoUs are:

  • A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between India’s ministry of health and family welfare and Paua New Guinea’s ministry of health and HIV/AIDS for a broad range of cooperation in the field of healthcare and medical science.
  • Another MoU was signed between the Papua New Guinea government and the Export Import Bank of India for a $100-million credit line for development of infrastructure in the island-nation.
  • The third MoU was between the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi, and PNG University of Technology, Lae, for cooperation in agricultural research.
  • The fourth MoU was signed between the governments of India and Papua New Guinea for establishing of India-Papua New Guinea Centre for Excellence in IT.

Sources: the hindu.


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

Govt. throws open I-T data; tax base stays narrow

The government has for the first time put the data on income tax in public domain.

Highlights:

  • Just 1% of individuals, who declared their income in assessment year 2012-13, accounted for almost 20% of the taxable income. Among corporates, however, this imbalance is starker, with a little more than 5% of the companies accounting for a whopping 94% of the taxable income.
  • Direct tax collections have fallen drastically in the last five years, growing at an average annual rate of 8.5% between assessment years 2011-12 and 2015-16, compared to the 14.1% over the previous five years.
  • The drop in the growth rate of direct tax collections was accompanied by an equally dire slowdown in the growth of corporate tax. Corporate tax grew at an average annual rate of 7.1% between assessment years 2011-12 and 2015-16, down from the heady 15.6% seen in the previous five years.
  • The personal income tax data — which also includes securities transaction taxes — on the other hand, barely witnessed a change in growth rates in this period, growing at an annual average of 9.1% between 2011 and 2015, just 0.2 percentage points slower than the growth seen in the previous five years.
  • The data also shows that there were 13.3 lakh individuals declaring an income of more than Rs 10 lakh a year — the section of people the government has excluded from the LPG subsidy.
  • Among the states, Gujarat saw the fastest growth in its direct tax collections, growing 185% in FY2014-15 to Rs 12,577 crore compared to its level in FY2008-09. Tamil Nadu saw the next-fastest growth in the period, with its direct tax collections growing 116% to Rs 20,651 crore in FY2014-15. Maharashtra and West Bengal were the other states seeing rapid growth in their direct tax collections.
  • The State-wise data also revealed some anomalies. For example, Mizoram recorded Rs 39.8 crore of direct tax collections in FY2014-15, which is more than double what it collected in the previous year. Chattisgarh, on the other hand, saw its direct tax collections grow 0.01% in FY2014-15 to Rs 1,287 crore compared to its level in 2008-09.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims:

  • Colombia’s top court has legalised same-sex marriage, making the country the fourth in Latin America to do so. Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have previously legalised same-sex marriage.

 

  • Reliance Defence has signed an agreement with three Ukrainian state-owned firms — Ukroboronprom, Spetstechno Exports and Antonov — to collaborate on a range of military products including transport aircraft, armoured vehicles, maritime gas turbines and unmanned aerial vehicles.

 

  • India has resumed publishing its income tax data, which was suspended in 2000 owing to staffing and technical issues. India had first started publishing its income tax statistics in 1961.

 

  • Sri Lanka, in the midst of a crisis over deterioration of the balance of payments (BOP) position, has got the much-needed reprieve with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreeing to provide $ 1.5 billion through a three-year-long Extended Fund Facility (EFF). The EFF was established to provide assistance to countries: (i) experiencing serious payments imbalances because of structural impediments; or (ii) characterized by slow growth and an inherently weak balance of payments position. The EFF provides assistance in support of comprehensive programs that include policies of the scope and character required to correct structural imbalances over an extended period.

 

  • Rajya Sabha was recently adjourned abruptly because of lack of quorum. As per the rules, at least 10% members of the total strength of a House are required to be present for quorum. That is, 25 members. The sanctioned strength of the Rajya Sabha is 245.