18 , March 2017

1.National Health Mission
Source: PIB

The National Health Mission (NHM) aims for attainment of universal access to equitable, affordable and quality health care services, accountable and responsive to people’s needs, with effective inter-sectoral convergent action to address the wider social determinants of health.

Under NHM, support to States/UTs is provided for five key programmatic  components:

  • Health Systems Strengthening including infrastructure, human resource, drugs & equipment, ambulances, MMUs, ASHAs etc under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and National Urban Health Mission (NUHM).
  • Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health Services (RMNCH + A)
  • Communicable Disease Control Programmes
  • Non-Communicable Diseases Control Programme interventions upto District Hospital level
  • Infrastructure Maintenance- to support salary of ANMs and LHVs etc.

The objectives of NHM are summarised as under:

  • Reduction in child and maternal mortality
  • Prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases, including locally endemic diseases.
  • Access to integrated comprehensive primary health care.
  • Population stabilisation, gender and demographic balance.
  • Revitalize local health traditions & mainstream AYUSH.
  • Universal access to public services for food and nutrition, sanitation and hygiene and universal access to public health care services with emphasis on services addressing women’s and children’s health and universal immunisation.
  • Promotion of healthy life styles.

The NHM has been successful in accelerating the decline of Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR), Under 5 Mortality Rate (U5MR), Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and Total Fertility Rate (TFR). It has also achieved many of the disease control targets.

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2.Human Development Index
Source: PIB

According to the report ‘Human Development in Andhra Pradesh’ prepared for Government of Andhra Pradesh by Center for Economic and Social Studies in 2016, the rank of Andhra Pradesh in Human Development Index(HDI) among 21 major States of India was 12 in 2004-05 and 9 in 2011-12. This reflects declining inequalities in HDI across the districts. The same is evident in case of the three components of HDI, viz., standard of living, health and education.

The initiatives taken by the Government to further increase the HDI in the country include:
Health Care:

  • Promoting institutional deliveries,  strengthening of health infrastructure, training of service providers in management of emergency obstetric care and skilled birth attendance,
  • providing ante-natal and post-natal care, organising village health and nutrition days, engagement of an accredited social health activist (ASHA) in the community,
  • establishing referral systems including emergency referral transport, training of service providers in integrated management of neo-natal & childhood illness, training of ASHAs in Home based new born care, training of health care providers in essential new-born care and resuscitation,
  • providing new-born care at all levels, promoting exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding, establishment of nutritional rehabilitation centres,  strengthening routine immunisation programme, focussing on reduction in morbidity and mortality due to acute respiratory infections (ARI) and diarrhoeal diseases,
  • Introduction of name based web enabled tracking of pregnant women & children (Mother and Child Tracking System) to ensure antenatal, intra-natal and postnatal care to pregnant women and care to new-borns, infants and children.

Education:

  • Enactment and operationalisation of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, SarvaShikshaAbhiyan, Mid-Day-Meal Scheme, National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary level, setting up of Kasturba Gandhi BalikaVidyalaya, MahilaSamakhya programme, scheme for providing quality education in Madarasas.

Schemes/Policies:

  • Improving the purchasing power of the people through various income generating schemes including Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
  • The National Food Security Act, 2013 aims to provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity.

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3.National Physical Laboratory(NPL)- CSIR dedicates the first “Pristine air-quality monitoring station at Palampur” to the Nation
Source: PIB
National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has established an atmospheric monitoring station in the campus of Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT) at Palampur (H.P.) at an altitude of 1391 m for generating the base data for atmospheric trace species & properties to serve as reference for comparison of polluted atmosphere in India.

At this station, NPL has installed state of art air monitoring system, greenhouse gas measurement system and Raman Lidar. A number of parameters like CO, NO, NO2, NH3, SO2, O3, PM, HC & BC besides CO2 & CH4 are being currently monitored at this station which is also equipped with weather station (AWS) for measurement of weather parameters.

In India, air quality parameters are mostly measured in industrial and residential areas, however, data for air quality of pristine atmosphere is not available in India. NPL’s station will contribute to fill this important gap. The NPL’s station will also serve as a base station for inter-comparison of air quality monitoring equipment being used in India to improve quality of monitored data in India.

The data taken at this station during past one year shows that the pollution levels are far below the limits of National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). In addition, this new station has the experimental facilities to investigate the aerosol/cloud interactions, and such investigations would be helpful in generating a better understanding of the Earth’s climate system.

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4.Government allows RBI to print Rs 10 plastic notes

Source: PIB

  • The Union Finance Ministry has given permission to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to conduct field trials of plastic (polymer-based) currency notes of Rs 10 denominations.
  • These notes will be first introduced in five cities (not yet declared) across the country with diverse geographical and climatic conditions.
  • The Finance Ministry has asked the RBI to go ahead with the procurement of the requisite plastic substrate material and approved the printing of plastic Rs. 10 notes.
  • The plastic notes are considered to be cleaner than paper (cotton substrate-based) currency notes. They will last longer (average life span of about 5 years) and are difficult to counterfeit.
  • Plastic currency notes were first adopted by Australia in 1988 and are now used in more than 20 countries. These notes are smaller and stronger than cotton-based paper notes. They also have more security features that make them harder to counterfeit.

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5.Mechanism to procure bumper crops
Source: PIB

The production of a crop depends upon several factors including availability of cultivable land, vagaries of nature, temperature, weather and rainfall scenario, etc.

As a result of very good rainfall during monsoon 2016 and various policy initiatives taken by the Government, the country has witnessed record foodgrains production in the current year.

Steps taken:

  • The Central Government extends price support for procurement of wheat and paddy through Food Corporation of India (FCI) and State Agencies at Minimum Support Price (MSP)
  • Procurement at MSP is open ended, whatever foodgrains are offered by the farmers, within the stipulated procurement period and which conforms to the quality specifications prescribed by Government of India (GOI), are purchased at MSP (and bonus/incentive ,if any) by the Government agencies including FCI, for Central Pool
  • However, if any producer/farmer gets better price in comparison to MSP, he is free to sell his produce in Open Market to private traders/anyone
  • Coarse grains are purchased by State Government with permission of Central Government, upto the extent it is required in their Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS)
  • Under Price Support Scheme (PSS), the procurement of oil seeds, pulses and cotton through Central Nodal Agencies at the Minimum Support Price (MSP) is also undertaken
  • The basic objectives of PSS are to provide remunerative prices to the growers for their produce with a view to encourage higher investment and production and to safeguard the interest of consumers by making available supplies at reasonable prices with low cost of intermediation
  • Further, Government of India also implements Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for procurement of agricultural and horticultural commodities which are perishable in nature and are not covered under the Price Support Scheme (PSS)
  • The objective of intervention is to protect the growers of these commodities from making distress sale in the event of a bumper crop during the peak arrival period when the prices tend to fall below economic levels and cost of production

bumper crops:

The slang term “bumper crop” refers to an unusually large harvest. A bumper crop was a harvest which was so large that it swelled the baskets and containers used to ship things to market. Although this term refers specifically to agricultural products.

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6.Conduct divorce hearings via videoconferencing: SC
Source: The Hindu

Issue:

Divorce cases may be fought on video in future rather than in crowded courtrooms amidst strangers.In modern times, couples lead hectic work and personal lives with hardly any child care or family support

So, SC, in a recent judgment, asked High Courts to pass administrative directions to district and lower courts to open up their videoconferencing facilities so that couples engaged in matrimonial cases need not travel distances, probably even to other States, to personally attend their divorce hearings

It would spare couples the drudgery of coming to courts in person, waiting for hours, probably days, to testify.

The jurisdiction:

  • The court noted that a divorce case is usually filed in a court within which jurisdiction the husband lives or the wife lives or where the couple had their matrimonial home
  • In most cases, estranged couples may very well go their separate ways, probably to other States
  • The odds are usually stacked against the estranged husband when the wife prefers a transfer of the matrimonial proceedings to a court in her vicinity
  • When such a transfer application comes up, the courts either order the husband to foot the wife’s travel and accommodation expenses or mechanically allow her plea

Three factors:

The judiciary justifies that this empathy towards women are based on three factors –

  • the constitutional scheme to provide women equal access to justice,
  • the power of the State to make special provisions for women and children
  • duty to uphold the dignity of women

However, this judgment does not fully agree with the idea of courts “mechanically” transferring cases to the wife’s place of abode.It is time courts also considered a man’s genuine difficulties.

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7.Parliamentary panel fumes as NATGRID posts remain vacant
Source: The Hindu

The Union Home Ministry informed a parliamentary panel earlier this week that it couldn’t get qualified IT professionals to fill 35 posts in the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID)

These posts were not filled because of the non-availability of qualified professionals for various posts in the organisation

The panel has asked the Ministry to “re-publicise the posts” and “offer remuneration commensurate with that of the private sector to attract the most qualified professionals”

Background:

  • In July 2016, the NDA government appointed Ashok Patnaik, a serving officer of the Intelligence Bureau, as the CEO of the NATGRID
  • The post had been lying vacant after the former CEO Raghu Raman’s contract expired in April 2014
  • The government refused to renew his contract following an adverse intelligence report.

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8.Labour code to provide social security cover to all workers
Source: The Hindu

A draft code on Social Security and Welfare proposed by the Labour Ministry

  • Will provide social security cover to the entire workforce in the country, including self-employed and agricultural workers
  • Even households employing domestic help will also have contribute towards schemes including provident fund and gratuity for the worker
  • Factories employing even a single worker will have to contribute towards social security benefits, as per the proposal
  • Every working person in the country will be covered under the social security code whether she belongs to the organised sector or the unorganised sector
  • For the first time, it has been intended to cover agricultural workers along with self-employed people and target to provide social security benefits to 45 crore workers

A National Social Security Council:

  • Chaired by the Prime Minister, has been proposed to streamline and make policy on social security schemes related to all the Ministries
  • Other members would include: Finance Minister, Labour Minister, Health and Family Welfare Minister along with employer and employees’ representatives
  • The council will co-ordinate between central and State governments, monitor the implementation of social security schemes

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9.Ten elephant corridors in Odisha viable for restoration
Source: The Hindu

Ten of the 14 proposed elephant corridors identified to facilitate unhindered movement of jumbos and prevent their inbreeding have been found viable for restoration in Odisha.

Odisha, which houses 70% of the total elephant population in eastern India, is witnessing frequent human-elephant conflicts with 423 elephants perishing since 2011-12 and 421 humans deaths reported during the same period.

Elephants move long distances in search of food and require substantial areas to support their ecological needs. The wildlife wing of the State forest department says habitat loss, expansion of human habitation and fragmentation of traditional elephant corridors have forced elephants to split into a number of metapopulation.

To protect elephant habitats, the State government had identified 14 corridors having a cumulative length of 421 km and a total area of 870.6 sq km.

Odisha has three elephant reserves – Mayurbhanj, Mahanadi and Sambalpur.

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10.Long-term supply pact for Sukhoi jets inked
Source: The Hindu

India and Russia have signed two long-term support agreements for the Sukhoi Su-30MKI combat aircraft fleet, covering around 57,000 spares and components related to the aircraft.

  • The agreements were signed by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) with Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation and United Engine Corporation at the first India-Russia Military Industrial Conference held in New Delhi.
  • These pacts provides for an upgraded schedule for delivery of spares from Russia for Su-30MKI, local manufacturing of parts and a proposed logistics hub for the fighter jets in Bengaluru (Karnataka) by HAL.
  • Pacts were also signed for maintenance and life-cycle support for other Russian-origin platforms, such as MiG-29K aircraft, Mi-17 helicopters, INS Vikramaditya and T-90 tanks.
  • They will address a long-lasting concern of India with respect to Russian-origin military equipment and also address issues of life-cycle support and maintenance.

India has the third largest armed forces in the world and one of the largest importers of defence equipment. Since most of India’s defence platforms and weapon systems are of Russian-origin, their maintenance and life-cycle support is extremely important from the point of view of our defence preparedness.

India has contracted 272 Su-30 fighter jets from Russia in various batches and has so far inducted over 230 jets. However, their serviceability rate has been an issue of constant concern. Over the last couple of years, the serviceability rates had dropped below 50% and at one point it had improved to over 60%.

The deal follows a Russian legislation permitting its companies to enter into direct agreement with foreign companies for long-term support agreements. Currently, procurement of spares is a long and cumbersome process as India cannot deal directly with the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) but has to deal with designated intermediaries. India is also exploring the possibility of Russian OEMs allowing licence manufacture of the spares locally by Indian vendors under Make in India initiative
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11.ICRISAT, ICAR join hands for crop improvement
Source: The Hindu

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) have signed an agreement to work together. They will work together on crop improvement and agronomy programmes for grain legumes and dryland cereals. It will benefit small farmers in India and globally.

  • The agreement has identified climate smart crops, smart food and digitalisation of breeding database as some of the core areas of research.
  • The other areas of focus include developing genetic and genomic resources of finger millet and enhancing genetic gains for priority traits, integrating systems modelling tools for upscaling climate resilient agriculture.
  • On crop improvement front, it will facilitate research on pigeon pea and chickpea for insect resistance. Dryland cereals and grain legumes are branded as smart foods.

About Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) :

  • ICAR is an autonomous body responsible for co-ordinating agricultural education and research in India. It is the largest network of agricultural research and education institutes in the world.
  • It reports to the Department of Agricultural Research and Education under the Union Ministry of Agriculture. The Union Minister of Agriculture serves as its president.

About International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics (ICRISAT):

  • ICRISAT is a non-profit agricultural research organization headquartered in Patancheru in Hyderabad, Telangana.
  • It was founded in 1972 by a consortium of organizations convened by the Ford and the Rockefeller Foundations.
  • Its charter was signed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  • It has several regional centres around globe- Niamey (Nigeria), Nairobi (Kenya) and research stations Bamako (Mali), Bulawayo (Zimbabwe).
  • Since its inception, India has granted special status to ICRISAT as a UN Organization operating in the Indian Territory making it eligible for special immunities and tax privileges.

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12.Siruvani’s avian diversity gets richer, finds survey
Source: The Hindu

  • Siruvani and Muthikulam hills located on the north-eastern edge of Palakkad district are rich in avian diversity.
  • A recent bird survey conducted by the Forest Department, in association with the Mannarkkad chapter of Oisca International and the Eco-Development Committee at Singappara
  • It has revealed that the pristine forests surrounding the Siruvani dam are nesting place of many rare birds, including Shaheen falcons, blue capped rock thrushs, crested honey buzzards, Jerdon’s night jars and black chinned laughing thrushes
  • The area is also home to the rare Great hornbills and the elusive Malabar trogans
  • Yellow-throated bulbul and European bee-eater are also seen in the hills, which are close to the Boluvampatty forests of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu

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13.Indian drugmakers face squeeze in U.S. healthcare market
Source: The Hindu

India’s small and medium-sized generic drugmakers are reconsidering, or putting on hold, U.S. expansion plans.

  • It is because of the threat of tougher rules and higher barriers for outsiders in the U.S. healthcare market. A more protectionist stance by President Donald Trump, with the prospect of import tariffs and the U.S. boosting local drug manufacturing, mean the operating environment for smaller generic players will get worse.
  • Consolidation among U.S. drugs distributors and a federal investigation into drug pricing have also reduced the pricing power of drugsmakers.
  • The U.S. drugs regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, has also banned dozens of Indian drug factories from supplying the U.S. market following inspections that found inadequate quality-control practices. Companies have invested significant sums to raise their quality standards.

Background:

  • India supplies nearly a third of medicines sold in the United States, the world’s largest healthcare market. Cut-price generics sold by India’s small- and medium-sized drugmakers have been critical in bringing down prices there.
  • The new risks come as U.S. revenue growth for these firms is falling. U.S. revenues for Indian drugmakers rose 15% in 2016, half the average annual growth rate of 33% between 2011 and 2015. The growth rate is expected to fall further this year.

Firms that want to focus on the United States will have to increase investment in higher-margin niche therapies, or products requiring specialized manufacturing.

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