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Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (23rd April)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you

1.  Health Ministry to roll out prog to combat hepatitis

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Important decision taken by the Health Ministry

  1. The Health Ministry has decided to roll out an initiative for prevention and control of viral hepatitis
  2. Why: to address aspects such as surveillance, awareness generation, safe blood and injection safety to combat the disease

Particulars of the initiative: The ‘Integrated initiative for prevention & control of viral hepatitis’ 

  1. Under the initiative, the ministry has decided to establish a state coordination unit under the state NHM for efficient rollout of the programme in 26 large and four small states
  2. There is also a plan to set up 50 state laboratories for assisting in diagnosis and training of the district hospitals for screening of hepatitis
  3. The ministry intends to scale up to 100 treatment and 665 testing centres over a period of next three years

Budgetary provisions

  1. The National Health Mission (NHM) has decided to roll out ‘Integrated initiative for prevention & control of viral hepatitis’ with a budget of Rs 517.39 crore for three years

Hepatitis

  1. Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver tissue
  2. Some people have no symptoms whereas others develop yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes, poor appetite, vomiting, tiredness, abdominal pain, or diarrhea
  3. Hepatitis may be temporary (acute) or long term (chronic) depending on whether it lasts for less than or more than six months
  4. Acute hepatitis can sometimes resolve on its own, progress to chronic hepatitis, or rarely result in acute liver failure
  5. Over time the chronic form may progress to scarring of the liver, liver failure, or liver cancer

2. Interview: ‘India helping South Asian countries in developing climate services’

Two important monsoon forecasts, both for India and South Asia, were released this week. Pune hosted the 12th edition of South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF) on April 19 and 20.

India hosts SASCOF

  1. Pune hosted the 12th edition of South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF) on April 19 and 20
  2. India has hosted six editions so far

What is SASCOF?

  1. SASCOF was established in 2010 as a platform where meteorologists from South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries along with Myanmar, could discuss some of the common weather and climate-related matters
  2. All these South Asian countries — except for Afghanistan, which is located in extreme northwest — experience common weather and climatological characteristics, like Southwest monsoon
  3. Since 2015, the forum issues Climate Outlook even for the Northeast monsoon

Why such forum?

  1. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) encourages co-operation and establishment of Regional Climate Outlook Forums in every region that share similar weather and climate
  2. WMO has recognised Pune office of IMD as the Regional Climate Centre (RCC)

Role of Regional Climate Centre

  1. Under this, IMD issues a four-monthly forecast with details of temperature and rainfall for the entire region
  2. Besides this, India also extends all kinds of support to them, be it in the form of software or tools required for weather predictions, providing training to meteorologists, providing country-specific forecasts or inviting meteorologists to work in India in order to improve their skills

3. CCEA approves restructured scheme for local bodies

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, on Saturday gave its approval for restructured centrally sponsored scheme of Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA).

Introduction of a restructured Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA) 

  1. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved a restructured Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA)
  2. It is aimed at building infrastructure and stepping up initiatives for e-governance
  3. Prime Minister will launch the scheme on National Panchayati Raj Day on April 24

Particulars of the scheme

  1. The scheme will focus on training, building infrastructure, stepping up initiatives for e-governance under the e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project (MMP)
  2. The scheme will extend to all states and Union Territories and will also include institutions of rural local government in non-Part IX areas, where panchayats do not exist

Financial sharing ratio

  1. The sharing ratio for the state components will be 60:40 barring the Northeast and hilly states where it will be 90:10
  2. For UTs, the central share will be 100 per cent
  3. The total proposed cost of the scheme is Rs 7255.50 crore

Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) Award

  1. A new award “GPDP Award” has been introduced this year
  2. It will be conferred on three gram panchayats with the best planning across the country

Local Government Directory Application

  1. It is developed by the Rural Development Ministry and will be released(on the same day) for wide usage across all ministries to ensure inter-operability across their databases
  2. The directory will have unique codes for villages, panchayats and blocks

Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA)

  1. The aim of the Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan is to strengthen the Panchayati Raj system across the country and address critical gaps that constrain its success
  2. RGSA seeks to:
  • Enhance capacities and effectiveness of Panchayats and the Gram Sabhas;
  • Enable democratic decision-making and accountability in Panchayats and promote people’s participation;
  • Strengthen the institutional structure for knowledge creation and capacity building of Panchayats;
  • Promote devolution of powers and responsibilities to Panchayats according to the spirit of the Constitution and PESA Act;
  • Strengthen Gram Sabhas to function effectively as the basic forum of peoples participation, transparency and accountability within the Panchayat system;
  • Create and strengthen democratic local self-government in areas where Panchayats do not exist;
    Strengthen the constitutionally mandated framework on which Panchayats are founded

4. New ideas for fighting corruption in India

Accurate publicity about misdeeds is the best way to deter corrupt businesses through the imposition of social sanctions on the miscreants. a-methodology-to-control-the-corruption-in-india-4-638

Corruption growing instead of reduction

  1. India’s liberalization that began in the 1980s should have curtailed corruption, but the opposite happened
  2. Even as technological innovations have reduced petty bribery, it has become clear that bigger forms of corruption in India are flourishing

Measures that can help in fighting corruption

  1. Bottom-up coalitions work and work better than individual resistance
  • There can be the formation of an institution called the “business community institution” (BCI)
  • An institution like the proposed BCI is likely to be more effective than the sum total of efforts put in by individuals across the country to reduce corruption
  • The BCI should enlist the support of the media, civil society, and existing social movements like the Zero Rupee Note and the ipaidabribe site, to resonate the anticorruption message

2. Social sanctions and economic incentives work better than legal action

  • If the law is effectively enforced, its penalties are good deterrents
  • Enacting and applying strong laws against corruption is inherently problematic since politicians and officials are the main beneficiaries of corruption
  • Social sanctions can be just as effective, or more so
  • Fear of social ostracism is a powerful consideration
  • An effective system of social sanctions will allow clean firms to experience a lower cost of doing business by being able to access better talent, cheaper capital or stronger pricing power

3. Accurate, publicly available information is essential

  • If workers, consumers, and suppliers of capital are to implement a strategy of penalizing corrupt businesses, they need to know who the clean firms are
  • To achieve this, the BCI will create a transparent rating system of 1 to 3 stars, like the Michelin star system for restaurants, reflecting its assessment of how clean a firm is

4. The verdict of markets favours clean firms

  • Markets are fairly efficient and the Indian stock market has shown tremendous maturity by offering significantly lower returns from non-clean firms
  • Firms with better quality of governance and accounting have yielded higher investment returns than other firms in the recent past
  • The market has delivered this outcome without the existence of an explicit rating system on the quality of governance

5. Corruption as an ailment is similar to obesity, not cancer

  • It is essential to not to think of corruption as cancer, insisting that every malignant cell must be removed or it will come back
  • Corruption should be compared to being overweight or obese
  • The fight against it is hard and slow; victories are partial; sometimes you regress
  • But keeping up the fight by all methods and at all times can mitigate obesity

Way forward

  1. India’s culture cannot be changed, from corrupt to clean, simply by relying on the government to enact and enforce laws
  2. Such a movement can succeed only if young and idealistic workers, consumers, entrepreneurs, managers, educators and the media all play their part and constitute a coalition against corruption

5. President nod to ordinance providing death penalty for rape of girls below 12

Provisions for speedy trials & conviction

  1. The Ordinance provides that investigation of all cases of rape shall be completed within two months
  2.  A six-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed
  3. The sentence for the rape of a girl below 16 would be a minimum of 20 years but extendible to life imprisonment, while that for gang- rape of a girl below 16 would be imprisonment for life

6. President promulgates Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance

Using heavy hand for economic offenders

  1. President of India has promulgated Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinancethat will allow the government to confiscate properties and assets of loan defaulters who flee the country
  2. The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on March 12, but could not be taken up for discussion and passage due to the logjam in Parliament over various issues

Provisions of ordinance

  1. The provisions of the ordinance will apply for economic offenders who refuse to return, persons against whom an arrest warrant has been issued for a scheduled offence as well as willful bank loan defaulters with outstanding of over ₹100 crore
  2. The ordinance seeks to confiscate properties of economic offenders
  3. It provides for confiscating assets even without a conviction and paying off lenders by selling off the fugitive’s properties
  4. Such economic offenders will be tried under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA)

Defining fugitive offenders

  1. The ordinance defines a fugitive economic offender as a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued for committing an offence like counterfeiting government stamps or currency, cheque dishonour for insufficiency of funds, money laundering, and transactions defrauding creditors
  2. A fugitive economic offender is one who has left the country to avoid facing prosecution or refuses to return to face prosecution

7. The rising risk of global debt addiction

Lack of macro policy space due to stretched government balance sheets will lead to higher loss of output in case of financial stress.

8. Endgame for garment exports?

The textiles and apparels sector as a job creator

  1. The Economic Survey 2016-17 made a strong case for focusing on the textiles and apparels sector as a job creator
  2. According to the survey, apparels are 80 times more labour-intensive than automobiles and create 240-fold more jobs than steel

What is the issue?:  India is quickly losing its place at the top of the table of apparel-exporting nations
Official export data

  1. Apparel exports in February stood at $1.44 billion, a decline of 10.25% compared to the year before
  2. In fiscal 2017-18 (April to February), overall apparel production declined 10.4% , while garment exports fell 4%
  3. Garment exports have fallen for six months in a row now
  4. There are no signs of any immediate turnaround
  5. The sector got hit with a double whammy: demonetisation and the goods and services tax (GST)
  6. Meanwhile, the rupee has also been appreciating, gaining 6.4% against the dollar through 2017
  7. This means that an exporter who quoted, say, Rs. 100 per piece last April and quotes the same rate this April is already 6% more expensive to his buyer
  8. And the industry simply does not have the margin to take this 6% hit and still stay competitive with countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam which are eyeing India’s already shrinking export market

India and other exporting countries: Why is India lagging behind?

  1. Apparel exports from Bangladesh crossed India’s in 2003, while Vietnam passed India in 2011
  2. Both nations enjoy the same advantage that India does — an abundance of cheap, skilled labour
  3. In addition, they also enjoy favoured access through treaties to major markets like the U.S. and the European Union,
  4. while India is under intense pressure from the WTO to phase out subsidies and incentives given to the textiles sector as the sector has already achieved ‘export competitiveness’

The Main Challenge

  1. India’s garments sector is large in the aggregate, it is comprised mostly of tiny units
  2. Almost 90% of India’s garment manufacturing units are in the unregistered sector
  3. About 78% of the firms employ less than 50 workers and only 10% more than 500 workers
  4. This means that individual entrepreneurs have severe limitations on the kind of capital they can invest in capacity and technology

Other challenges

  1. According to the economic survey 2016-2017, the key issues are:
    (1) Logistics
    (2) labour regulations
    (3) tax and tariff policy
    (4) disadvantages emanating from the international trading environment compared to competitor countries

High logistic consts in India

  1. Logistics costs are also high: around $7/km by road transport(in India), while it is just $2.5/km in China and $3/km in Sri Lanka

What should be done?

  1. The tax policy needs to be aligned with global trends
  2. The scale problem needs to be met through aggregation of individual units in large clusters
  3. Technology upgradation needs serious funding, while trade treaties need to be reviewed to ensure that India gets access for its competitive products in major markets
  4. Above all, Indian entrepreneurs need to also focus on creating their own global brands rather than simply producing for other labels

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