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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 27 September 2016

 

 


Insights Daily Current Affairs, 27 September 2016


 

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

 

Health Ministry receives detailed report on Scrub Typhus from HP Govt

 

In view of the rising number of cases and reported deaths due to of Scrub Typhus in Himachal Pradesh, Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare had sought a detailed report from the State Government.

  • Having received the detailed report, the Union Health Minister has assured all support to the Himachal Pradesh Government in managing the endemic disease observed in this region.
  • The government has decided to send an expert committee to the State on its request.scrub typhus
  • It is also very closely monitoring the situation and is ready to provide all logistical and technical support to the Himachal Government to strengthen their capacity to effectively manage the situation.

 

About Scrub Typhus:

Scrub Typhus is an acute illness caused by a bacterium Orintia tsutsugamushi, which is transmitted by the bite of an infected mite larva present in the soil having scrub vegetation. Himachal is an endemic region as it has a large scrub vegetation.

Sources: pib.


 

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

 

PM Modi dedicates seven new home-grown plant species to the nation

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dedicated seven new indigenously developed varieties of plants to the nation to mark the 75th anniversary of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

 

Key facts:

  • The new varieties of the plants that have ornamental and medicinal qualities were developed by the CSIR laboratories, especially Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP).
  • The plants include new varieties of lemongrass, citronella, vetiver and canna lily plant.

 

About CSIR:

CSIR, constituted in 1942 by a resolution of the then Central Legislative assembly, is an autonomous body registered under the Registration of Societies Act XXI of 1860.

  • Known for its cutting-edge R&D knowledgebase in diverse S&T areas, CSIR is a contemporary R&D organization, having pan-India presence, with a dynamic network of 38 national laboratories, 39 outreach centers, 3 Innovation Complexes and 5 units.
  • CSIR covers a wide spectrum of science and technology – from radio and space physics, oceanography, geophysics, chemicals, drugs, genomics, biotechnology and nanotechnology to mining, aeronautics, instrumentation, environmental engineering and information technology.
  • It provides significant technological intervention in many areas with regard to societal efforts, which include environment, health, drinking water, food, housing, energy, farm and non-farm sectors. Further, CSIR’s role in S&T human resource development is noteworthy.

Sources: the hindu.

 


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

 

PMO puts the brakes on rail tariff regulator plan

 

The PMO has asked the Railways Ministry to follow the legislative route to set up an independent regulator for freight and passenger tariffs rather than push it through an executive order.

 

Background:

In a bid to bypass the parliament, the Ministry of Railways had proposed Rail Development Authority by issuing a notification through an executive order and subsequently strengthen its powers through the legislative process.

 

Implications of this decision:

The legislative route may be a major setback for the Railways on this front, as it was banking on creating the independent regulator this year in order to perk up its worse-than-expected financial performance in the first half of this fiscal year.

 

About the authority:

The proposed Rail Development Authority would be an independent body, housed outside the Ministry of Railways.

 

Funding:

  • The authority will be funded through the annual railway budget sanctioned by the Parliament. The approved Budget would be placed at the disposal of the regulatory authority.
  • It would also be permitted to arrange funds through adjudication fees, penalties levied and any other source as specified in the proposed Act.

 

Functions to be performed by the authority:

  • The proposed Rail Development Authority will be mandated to set passenger and freight tariff, ensure fair play and level-playing field for private investments in Railways, maintain efficiency and performance standards, disseminate information such as statistics and forecasts related to the sector.
  • The authority will set tariff based on cost recovery principle and “what the traffic can bear.”
  • All the direct and indirect costs such as pension liabilities, debt servicing, replacements and renewals along with productivity parameters, market-driven demand and supply forces and future investments will be considered by the regulator before setting tariffs.
  • The authority will be authorised to penalise cartelisation, abuse of dominance and other unfair market mechanisms.

 

Who sets the Rail Tariff at present?

At present, the tariff is set by the Union government. Earlier, the revised tariff was usually announced by the Union Rail Minister in Parliament but this practice was discontinued after protests by the Members of Parliament over any proposal to hike tariff.

 

Significance:

  • The proposal for setting up a regulator comes at a time when the estimated losses in passenger segment has ballooned from Rs 6159 crore in 2004-05 to provisional estimate of over Rs 30,000 crore in 2015-16, primarily due to sharp increases in input costs and no proportionate increase in fares over the same period.
  • Keeping fares within affordable limits has led to cross-subsidisation of passenger services leading to erosion of railway’s market share in freight. The total share of railways in the total transportation of freight traffic has declined from 89% in 1950-51 to 36% in 2007-08.
  • The full potential of the railway sector has not been tapped as “investors have generally been shy of investing in an industry where far too much is still being done or controlled by government and the risk or return trade-off is not always favourable.”

Sources: the hindu.


 

 

Facts for Prelims

  • Druzhba-2016: It is the first military exercise between Russia and Pakistan which recently began in Pakistan. It aims at bolstering and building military cooperation between the two countries.

 

  • Tamil Nadu tops national average in remittances: International remittances (money sent by migrants back home) constituted 14% of Tamil Nadu’s gross state domestic product in 2015, almost three times the national average, according to a study by Western Union, the world’s biggest money transfer firm. As per the data, remittances to Tamil Nadu were estimated to be Rs. 61,843 crore in 2015. The figure is 6.8 times the money that the State received from the Central government as revenue transfer and 1.8 times the entire government expenditure.

 

  • World Tourism Day: Since 1980, the United Nations World Tourism Organization has celebrated World Tourism Day on September 27. This date was chosen as on that day in 1970, the Statutes of the UNWTO were adopted. The adoption of these Statutes is considered a milestone in global tourism. Theme for 2016: “Tourism for All – promoting universal accessibility”