10, October 2016

1.P-Notes investment hit 5-month high in August

Source: Indian Express

Investments into domestic capital markets through participatory notes (P-Notes) rose to the highest level in five months at Rs 2.16 lakh crore in August.

 P-Notes are typically instruments issued by registered foreign portfolio investors to overseas investors who wish to invest in Indian markets without registering themselves directly in India to save on time. the Securities and Exchange Board of India – SEBI. But they still need to go through a proper due diligence process.

  • The board of Sebi, tightened norms to check any misuse of controversy-ridden P-Notes by making it mandatory for users of these overseas instruments to follow Indian anti-money laundering law and report any suspicious transactions immediately.

2.Treaty hurdle no bar for U.S. investments

Source: The Hindu

U.S. companies are finding to address investment protection and dispute-related issues with their Indian counterparts as talks remain in a limbo over a proposed Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT).

Bilateral Investment Treaty

According to the USIBC( US- India Business council), a premier advocacy body to boost bilateral economic and commercial ties, the BIT is “no showstopper” for the flow of funds between the two nations.

The BIT is aimed at promoting and protecting two-way direct investments.

For instance: the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) – India’s first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) – has offered American investors the option of using the Singapore arbitration model to solve disputes.

US- INDIA:

  • U.S. investors are also signing up with Indian firms to use London and Brussels as seats of arbitration.
  • Foreign direct investment from India in the U.S. in 2015 was $9.25 billion, while U.S. investments in India were around $28.34 billion, according to ‘statista.’
  • To make GIFT City an attractive investment destination, realised that besides ease of doing business initiatives and tax incentives, a robust dispute resolution mechanism is a must.

Jurisdictions over disputes:

  • The other concern the U.S. expressed was regarding India’s model BIT text requiring that disputes be exhausted in local jurisdictions before alternative investor-state dispute mechanisms can be initiated.
  • Citing ‘judicial delays’ in India, investors from the developed world have been demanding flexibility in India’s BITs that will allow them to take disputes to international arbitration tribunals without waiting to exhaust remedies available in India.
  • However, after foreign investors invoked existing BITs to drag the government to international tribunals, India has become wary about the Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism in its BITs.

3.Army’s VSHORAD tender to go for re-confirmatory trials

Source: The Hindu

  • SAAB (a defence producer) of Sweden has begun training engineers of Bharat Forge under a proposed joint venture in anticipation of a contract to supply air defence systems to the Army.
  • The move comes even as SAAB is gearing up for confirmatory trials for the Very Short Range Air Defence Systems (VSHORAD) tender. Also while it is making an aggressive pitch for the Short Range Surface to Air Missile (SRSAM) tender
  • These systems are meant to replace the legacy Russian air defence systems in service and have seen repeated delays.

4.Janani Suraksha Yojana pays dividends: Study

Source: The Hindu

It has reduced socioeconomic disparities in healthcare

  • A new study brings in first conclusive evidence of the role played by Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) in reducing ‘socioeconomic disparities’ existing in maternal care.
  • The JSY was launched in 2005 as part of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) to improve maternal and neonatal health by promotion of institutional deliveries (childbirth in hospitals).
  • A study conducted using data from two rounds of the India Human Development Survey (IHDS)- conducted in 2004-05 and 2011-12

JSY has led to an enhancement in the utilisation of health services among all groups. This is especially among the poorer and underserved sections in the rural areas, thereby reducing the prevalent disparities in maternal care.

Three key services of maternal care were used for the analysis:

  • Full antenatal care (full ANC),
  • Safe delivery, and
  • Postnatal care.

The increase in utilisation of all three maternal healthcare services between the two rounds is remarkably higher among illiterate or less educated and poor women.

The effect of the JSY scheme, where women with little or no education were motivated to utilise maternal health care services.

Reducing disparities

  • High incidence of maternal mortality continue to plague India. As per the latest update on maternal health, India accounted for 15 per cent of the total maternal deaths in the world in 2015 — second only to Nigeria — with 45,000 women dying during pregnancy or childbirth.
  • The usage of all three maternal healthcare services by the OBC, Dalit, Adivasis and Muslim women increased between the surveys.

The study found that after the implementation of the JSY, there was generally a narrowing of the gap between the less educated and more educated women and between the poorer and richer women.

Janani Suraksha Yojana(Ministry of  Health & Family Welfare)

  • Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) is a safe motherhood intervention under the National Rural Health Mission (NHM).
  • It is being implemented with the objective of reducing maternal and neonatal mortality by promoting institutional delivery among poor pregnant women.
  • The scheme is under implementation in all states and Union Territories (UTs), with a special focus on Low Performing States (LPS).

5.The fight against leprosy

Source: Indian Express

Eradicating leprosy and the stigma it evokes.

 

National Institute of Immunology (NII)has developed Mycobacterium indicus pranii (MIP), the first indigenous vaccine, exclusively for leprosy.

What is leprosy?

  • Leprosy primarily affects patients’ skin and peripheral nerves, leading to disfigurement and nerve damage.
  • It is caused by a slow-growing bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae (M. leprae).
  • While the physical effects of leprosy cause pain, disfigurement and loss of function, the social stigma accompanying leprosy results in isolation, depression and loss of livelihoods.

Present status:

  • In India, though we achieved leprosy elimination (<1 new leprosy case per 10,000 population) in 2005, 60 per cent of the world’s leprosy patients are in our country. Estimates suggest that there may be 2,50,000 new cases every year.

Challenges to complete elimination:

  • Lack of a simple and accurate diagnostic test, long duration of treatment and the social stigma which prevents patients from seeking care.

Indian contribution in the past

  • Indian research contributed to the development of Multi-Drug Therapy or MDT, now recommended by WHO, which led to the shortening of treatment and higher cure rates.

Steps being taken:

  • The National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) has been strengthened and modified so that it focuses on both prevention and cure, especially in endemic regions.
  • A Leprosy Case Detection Campaign was launched in March 2016, involving house-to-house screening and referral of patients for diagnosis.
  • ASHAs or Accredited Social Health Activists under the National Health Mission have been involved in the leprosy programme for the past seven years, helping in detecting cases and completing treatment.

Overview

The Global Leprosy Strategy 2016-2020 “Accelerating towards a leprosy-free world” was developed through a series of consultations with various stakeholders during 2014 and 2015.

The strategy is built around three major pillars:

  • strengthen government ownership and partnerships;
  • stop leprosy and its complications; and
  • stop discrimination and promote inclusion.

Its goal is to further reduce the global and local leprosy burden, thereby aiming for zero children with leprosy-affected disabilities, a reduction of new patients diagnosed with leprosy-related deformities to less than one per million population and a repeal of all laws that allow discrimination of leprosy patients. The strategy was endorsed by the WHO Technical Advisory Group on leprosy.

6.High-altitude glacial lab opens in the Himalayas

Source: The Hindu

The facility will serve as the base for Terrestrial Laser Scanners and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to digitise glacier movements and snow cover variations.

  • Perched on the Himalayas at an altitude of nearly 13,500 feet, Himansh, the glaciological research facility of India.
  • Located in Spiti Valley, one of the most uninhabited parts of the country, Himansh is considered to be the highest point from where an Indian glacier research facility is functioning.
  • The research lab, established by the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), has automatic weather stations, ground penetrating radars, geodetic GPS systems and other sophisticated facilities to study glaciers and their discharge.

 

7.Indian researcher produces stable solar cells

Source: The Hindu

‘Solar cells made using the nanocrystal thin film have 10.77% efficiency to convert sunlight into electricity’

In a first, a researcher from Pune’s Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) has successfully produced a stable, high-efficiency, all-inorganic perovskite nanocrystal solar cells.

The new material has 10.77% efficiency to convert sunlight to electricity.

Organic-inorganic halide perovskite material:

The hybrid material has high efficiency of over 22%, the organic component in it is volatile and becomes completely unstable under ambient conditions within a short span of time.

Therefore, this renders the material unsuitable for commercial photovoltaic applications which replaced methyl ammonium, the organic component, with cesium to produce the material of cesium lead iodide.

 

8.The ground beneath our feet: India’s land laws and FDI

Source: The Hindu

Removing bottlenecks to foreign investment in India.

Reform agendas in question: Amendments to the land acquisition law and improvements in the ease of doing business

Land acquisition: An ordinance to modernize India’s land laws was promulgated thrice after the incumbent government came to power in 2014;

  • But a law could not be passed due to Opposition resistance. a model land-leasing law formulated by the Niti Aayog was mooted for States to adopt instead.
  • Issues with the model land leasing law: A billion-dollar plant is unlikely to come up on leased foundations. As a result, a proposed nuclear plant has moved out from Gujarat owing to land acquisition problems, India’s largest FDI proposal from South Korea’s Posco is all but off, and job creation has hit a five-year low.

World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index: India moved up 12 places in the index last year and may rise further.

Conclusion:

The index is only based on speed of paperwork in Mumbai and Delhi, where there is little space for big new industries; such rankings don’t directly translate into more FDI. Getting a construction permit online is no good if large tracts of land cannot be provided job-creating investment.

9.Global aviation deal seen as long-term carbon market boost

Source: The Hindu

A new global pollution deal for aviation is seen providing a long-term boost for carbon markets by generating demand for environmental offset projects that now often sell at rock-bottom prices, according to industry groups and analysts.

The carbon offsetting scheme

The carbon offsetting scheme, the first such industry-wide initiative, will start in 2021 with at least 65 participating countries in its voluntary phases, following the deal’s approval by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency.

What is Carbon offsetting?

Carbon offsetting is the use of carbon credits to enable businesses to compensate for their emissions, meet their carbon reduction goals and support the move to a low carbon economy.

Carbon offsetting delivers finance to essential renewable energy, forestry and resource conservation projects which generate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

What is a carbon footprint?

A carbon footprint is the total amount of carbon dioxide a person contributes to the environment.

 



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