27, November 2016

1.The stealth superbug, decoded

Source: The Hindu

A team of scientists in Bengaluru is behind the genome sequencing of Candida auris, a fungus that has caused disease outbreaks in five continents this year.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a leading public health institute in Atlanta, U.S., reported 13 cases of infection by the deadly fungus Candida auris in several parts of the country.
  • Apart from the U.S., outbreaks have been reported this year in eight countries across four continents — India, Pakistan, South Korea, Kuwait, South Africa, Colombia, Venezuela and United Kingdom.

In India

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru has shown that many cases of Candida auris have been misdiagnosed in the country.

 In 2015, a team led by Utpal Tatu, professor of biochemistry, IISc, completed the genotype sequencing of Candida auris, widely considered an emerging superbug fungus as it does not respond to conventional antifungal drugs.

Abt Candida auris :

Candida auris is a fungal infection caused by Candida species, often seen in patients whose immune system is compromised, such as AIDS patients or in case of transplants, malignancies and the use of catheters. Most of the infections are hospital-acquired, especially in ICU settings.

  • The first case reported was in Japan in an external ear canal infection in a patient in 2009. Since then, most cases have been invasive in nature and India has one of the highest number of infections caused by this superbug


  • Current diagnostic procedures to detect fungal infections cannot detect Candida auris, which is resistant to common antifungal treatment
  • One reason for the high resistance to existing drugs is that this species has a higher number of drug efflux pumps compared to other species. Drug efflux pumps are proteins that prevent other drugs from crossing the cell membrane.
  • The emergence of superbugs is a small example of the lacunae between academic research that studies the current disease scenario and current clinical practices, and shows the need for greater collaboration between the two. Research highlighted the need for clinical-academic collaboration.The indiscriminate use of antibiotics as a possible cause: “Killing all kinds of bacteria gives space for fungi to grow.”

2.A Bill that falls short- HIV/AIDS Bill

Source: The Hindu

It has to be appreciated that before the advent of ART(Anti-Retroviral Therapy), HIV was a death sentence for People living with HIV (PLHIV).

The Indian government has been providing free-of-cost antiretroviral for PLHIVs since 2004.

Today, first-line and second-line ART is available in the government programme free of cost. Soon, the third line of treatment may be required.

India’s HIV community has legitimate apprehensions about access to life-saving medicines as up to now the government programme has been largely funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM). The fund is in danger of being discontinued from 2017.


1.In the Bill, the proposed Section 14 talks of prevention measures that the Central or State governments may take, “as far as possible,” for the provision of Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) and Opportunistic Infection (OI) Management, against the spread of HIV.

  • The phrase “as far as possible” is a significant loophole in the Bill which would set the clock back to before the mid-1990s. Without the guarantee of treatment, HIV will once again become a death sentence for patients. As the global target moves towards ending AIDS, India will be in danger of seeing its resurgence.
  • Indian generic companies supply antiretrovirals to the developing world while the HIV community in the country is left stranded. The irony is unmissable.
  1. The other major flaw is the amendment that is sought to be made on the scope of the ombudsman’s jurisdiction, an innovation of civil society.
  • The proposed Bill states that the ombudsman shall inquire into violations in the provision of health-care services.
  • However, the government has proposed amendments to increase the scope of the ombudsman’s jurisdiction which mandates him to enquire into all violations of the provisions of the Bill including discrimination. This would be a disaster.

Needle safety programme

  • Another crucial flaw deals with the needle safety programme. The government has proposed amendment to Clause 22 of the Bill, by deleting all references to needle and syringe exchange.
  • This clause of the Bill was aimed to protect volunteers and patients from illegality— as providing sterile needles is considered a crime and PLHIV and health workers can be picked up for aiding and abetting the unlawful use of drugs.

On employment

Further, the Bill does not confer powers to civil courts in relation to employment. As per prevailing law, only a government or a public sector employee can seek employment or reinstatement if s/he is discriminated and not employed or illegally terminated.

The law as originally drafted provided for specific powers to the civil court including employment and reinstatement and compensation for loss of wages and damages.

All these need to be considered positively to make the HIV Bill a game changer in India.

3.NITI Aayog leads initiative to convert 100% Government – Citizen Transactions to the digital platform

Source: PIB

In a transformative attempt to weed out black money and corruption from public life, the Government of India has constituted a Committee of Officers to enable 100 per cent conversion of Government – Citizen Transactions to the digital platform.

The Committee, under the leadership of NITI Aayog CEO Mr. Amitabh Kant, will identify and operationalize in the earliest possible time frame user-friendly digital payment options in all sectors of the economy.

  • The aim of the committee is to identify various digital payment systems appropriate to different sectors of the economy and coordinate efforts to make them accessible and user-friendly.
  • The committee will also identify and access infrastructural and bottlenecks affecting the access and utility of digital payment options.
  • To achieve expeditious movement into the cashless, digital payments economy across all States and sectors, it will engage regularly with Central Ministries, regulators, State governments, district administration, local bodies, trade and industry associations etc. to promote rapid adoption of digital payment systems.
  • The attempt is to establish and monitor an implementation framework with strict timelines to ensure that nearly 80 per cent of the transaction in India moves to the digital-only platform.
  • The committee will also attempt to estimate costs involved in various digital payments options and oversee implementation of measures to make such transaction between Government and Citizens cheaper than cash transaction.

The Committee will also implement an action plan on advocacy, awareness and handholding efforts among public, micro enterprises and other stakeholders. That apart, it will organize training and capacity building of various states/UTs, Ministries/Departments of the Government of India, representatives of States/UTs, Trade and Industry Bodies as well as other stakeholders.

4.Norms on gold monetisation scheme

Source : pib

Government has recently issued norms on gold monetisation scheme. Based on the feedback received from the stakeholders of the scheme and the reviews held, Government has allowed following Tax Exemptions:

  1. Deposit Certificates issued under Gold Monetisation Scheme, 2015 notified by the Central Government, are excluded from the definition of capital asset and hence are exempt from capital gains tax.

2.Interest income on Deposit Certificates issued under the Gold Monetisation Scheme, 2015 is also exempt from income-tax.

These amendments are effective from the 1st day of April, 2016 and shall accordingly apply in relation to assessment year 2016-17 and subsequent years.

5.Apparel & Garment Making Centre at Imphal, Manipur

Source :pib

  • The Apparel & Garment Making Centre at Imphal, Manipur has been constructed under the North-East Region Textile Promotion Scheme (NERTPS) The project has been completed by the Manipur Handlooms and Handicrafts Development Corporation (MHHDC).
  • Under this intervention, each state now has one centre with three units having approximately 100 machines each.

Funding :

The project is fully funded by the Ministry with an estimated cost of Rs. 18.18 crores for one Apparel Center in each state. The central assistance is towards construction of physical infrastructure, machinery for the units and towards capacity building of workers for a period of 3 years.

The capacity building through this centre will include:

  • Skill development (3 month training for 600 trainees per Centre @ Rs. 10,000 month i.e. 3x600x10,000)
  • Market linkages (3 domestic exhibitions and 1 international exhibition)
  • EDP programme (1 month training programme per unit)
  • Management Support including Design Services (Four persons for three years).

The Manipur State Government has allocated land admeasuring approximately 1.5 acres at Lamboikongnangkhong, Imphal, Manipur for this centre..

The salient objectives of the project are:

  • Promotion of entrepreneurship in apparel manufacturing
  • Provision of state of the art infrastructure
  • Provision of skill development, market linkage and other services
  • Creation of additional employment.

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