18 February , 2021 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu
- DNS Weekly Mains Answer Writing
- Hitting the right notes with the Health Budget - (Article) Social Issues
- Cabinet approves PLI plan for telecom Economy
- Cabinet nod for changes in juvenile law Polity & Governance
- US will pay over $200 dollars to WHO International Relations
- Question for the Day
UPSC Current Affairs: Hitting the right notes with the health budget | Page - 06
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper III – Indian Economy + GS Paper II – Social Issues
Sub Theme: Health and Wellbeing | Vaccine coverage | Ayurveda | UPSC
6 pillars of the Union Budget 2021-22:
- Health and Wellbeing
- Physical & Financial Capital, and Infrastructure
- Inclusive Development for Aspirational India
- Reinvigorating Human Capital
- Innovation and R&D
- Minimum Government and Maximum Governance
Health and Wellbeing
- 2,23,846crore outlay for Health and Wellbeing in BE 2021-22 as against Rs. 94,452 crore in BE 2020-21 – an increase of 137%
- Focus on strengthening three areas: Preventive, Curative,and Wellbeing
- Steps being taken for improving health and wellbeing:
- 35,000 crorefor COVID-19 vaccine in BE 2021-22
- The Made-in-IndiaPneumococcal Vaccine to be rolled out across the country, from present 5 states – to avert 50,000 child deaths annually
- 64,180 croreoutlay over 6 years for PM AatmaNirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana – a new centrally sponsored scheme to be launched, in addition to NHM
- Main interventions under PM AatmaNirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana:
- National Institution for One Health
- 17,788 rural and 11,024 urbanHealth and Wellness Centers
- 4 regional National Institutes for Virology
- 15 Health Emergency Operation Centers and 2mobile hospitals
- Integrated public health labsin all districts and 3382 block public health units in 11 states
- Critical care hospital blocksin 602 districts and 12 central institutions
- Strengthening of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), its 5 regional branches and 20 metropolitan health surveillance units
- Expansion of the Integrated Health Information Portalto all States/UTs to connect all public health labs
- 17 new Public Health Unitsand strengthening of 33 existing Public Health Units
- Regional Research Platformfor WHO South-East Asia Region
- 9 Bio-Safety Level III laboratories
- Mission Poshan 2.0to be launched:
- To strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach, and outcome
- Merging the Supplementary Nutrition Programme and the Poshan Abhiyan
- Intensified strategy to be adopted to improve nutritional outcomes across 112 Aspirational Districts
Universal Coverage of Water Supply
- 2,87,000 crore over 5 years for Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban)- to be launched with an aim to provide:
- 86 crore household tap connections
- Universal water supply in all 4,378 Urban Local Bodies
- Liquid waste management in 500 AMRUT cities
Swachch Bharat, Swasth Bharat
- 1,41,678crore over 5 years for Urban Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0
- Main interventions under Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) 2.0:
- Complete faecal sludge managementand waste water treatment
- Source segregationof garbage
- Reduction in single-use plastic
- Reduction in air pollutionby effectively managing waste from construction-and-demolition activities
- Bio-remediationof all legacy dump sites
- 2,217 croreto tackle air pollution, for 42 urban centers with a million-plus population
It is important to view the Budget in the context of the various Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan packages announced by the Government of India, which also include several short-term and longer-term measures to strengthen the health sector. Production-Linked Incentive schemes have been announced to boost domestic manufacture of pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Mission COVID Suraksha has also been launched to promote the development and testing of indigenous vaccine candidates. At least 92 countries have approached India for a COVID-19 vaccine, thus bolstering the country’s credentials as the vaccine hub of the world. Further, to ensure food and nutrition security for the poor and the vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis, the Government of India launched the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package for providing free foodgrains to 800 million beneficiaries. To facilitate access to subsidised grains across the country, the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ scheme has been enabled in 32 States/Union Territories covering 690 million beneficiaries.
With respect to the “padding” of the health Budget, with allocations for water, sanitation, nutrition and clean air, as pointed out by some commentators, it is important to appreciate that the presentation of a combined ‘health and well-being’ budget, which sets the tone for greater integration of these areas, is in fact a welcome step. The National Health Policy (NHP), 2017, highlights the close links between health, water and sanitation. This year’s Economic Survey too recognises that improvements in access to bare necessities such as water, sanitation and housing are strongly correlated with progress in health indicators.
Good water, vaccine coverage
The substantive allocation for the newly launched Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban) is especially commendable as access to adequate, good quality water supply has major positive externalities for the health sector. A report released by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2019 suggested that nearly one out of every 100 Indian children does not live to celebrate their fifth birthday on account of either diarrhoea or pneumonia. Suboptimal access to clean water and sanitation is directly linked to diseases such as diarrhoea, polio and malaria. Moreover, water contaminated with heavy metals such as arsenic increases the risk of developing heart ailments and cancer.
Another important public health-related announcement in Budget 2021 was the government’s decision to expand the coverage of the pneumococcal vaccine across the country. Pneumococcal pneumonia is a major killer of children under the age of five years. Once universalised, this indigenously developed vaccine could save up to 50,000 lives annually. The Finance Minister has also made a special allocation of ₹35,000 crore for the COVID-19 vaccine in 2021–22, which could be increased if required. India has already delivered over eight million doses of the vaccine to health-care and frontline workers thus far — the fastest vaccination drive in the world.
The priority accorded to capital expenditure through the launch of the Pradhan Mantri – Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana (PMANSBY), is also a much-need step. Capital expenditure has, historically, constituted only a small percentage of the overall health Budget, with the majority of funds going towards salaries and administrative costs. Further, PMANSBY lays emphasis on the health system being strengthened at all levels, including establishing integrated public health laboratories and institutes of virology. This is crucial as experts have repeatedly highlighted the need for enhancing disease surveillance and diagnostic capabilities to be better prepared for disease outbreaks. Additionally, the emphasis on expansion of health and wellness centres under PMANSBY, together with a ₹13,192 crore Finance Commission grant for strengthening the primary health system through local government bodies, is also noteworthy.
Another point of discussion in relation to the health Budget is the stagnant allocation for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY), a flagship scheme launched by the government in late 2018 as part of the Ayushman Bharat initiative. Despite being a relatively new scheme, the Economic Survey estimates a 20% decline in the infant mortality rate between 2015–16 and 2019–20 in States that adopted PM-JAY, compared to a 12% decline in States that did not. It is important, therefore, to persist with this highly ambitious scheme and accelerate its roll-out as the absorptive and governance capacity of States improve.
A less talked about aspect of the health Budget is the nearly 40% hike for the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH). The pandemic has catalysed a behavioural shift in favour of preventive care, holistic health and wellness. There is considerable potential for promoting Ayurveda and yoga as well as integrative health-care approaches in the post-COVID-19 scenario, especially for stress reduction and the management of chronic diseases.
States must act too
Undoubtedly the budgetary allocation for health needs to be ramped up over time. We also have to ensure adequate funds for critical and closely-linked sectors such as nutrition, water and sanitation. The onus of increasing health spending, however, does not lie with the Centre alone but also with the States also. In fact, as elucidated in the National Health Accounts 2017, 66% of spending on health care in India is done by States. It is imperative, therefore, that States increase expenditure on health to at least 8% of their budget by 2022 as recommended by the National Health Policy (NHP), 2017 and the Fifteenth Finance Commission.
The health sector has found a prominent place in the government’s agenda over the last few years, with the implementation of a series of well-thought-out and carefully sequenced reforms. While much remains to be done, the Union Budget 2021–22 has laid a strong foundation to increase the resilience of the sector in the post-COVID-19 era and achieving Universal Health Coverage by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda.
UPSC Current Affairs:Cabinet approves PLI plan for telecom | Page - 14
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper III – Indian Economy
Sub Theme: Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme | UPSC
The Union Cabinet has recently decided to extend the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Telecom and Networking Products.
- Earlier, as part of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Package, the Government has already approved PLI schemes for 3 sectors- Mobile Manufacturing and specified electronics components, Active Pharmaceuticals Ingredients (APIs) and Manufacturing of Medical Devices.
- Later Government decided to extend the PLI Scheme to 10 more champion sectors to boost the competitiveness of domestic manufacturing. These sectors include- Textile Products, Food Products, Telecom & Networking Products, Pharmaceuticals Drugs, Automobiles; Auto Components, Electronic/Technology Products, Advance Cell Chemistry Battery, High Efficiency Solar PV Modules, White Goods and Specialty Steel.
Details about PLI Scheme
Objective: Boost domestic manufacturing and attract large investments in domestic manufacturing
Incentives: Extend an incentive of 4% to 7% on incremental sales (over base year of 2019-20) of goods manufactured in India for a period of 5 years.
Eligibility: Incentives are provided under the scheme to only those companies which cross the threshold level in terms of incremental sale of Manufactured Goods and Incremental investment over the base year.
Tenure of Scheme: 5 years
Main Features of Scheme:
The scheme outlay is Rs. 12,195 Crores over five years. The incentive structure will be as below:-
For MSMEs, one percent (1%) higher incentive is proposed in year 1, year 2 and year 3.
- Minimum Investment threshold for MSME has been kept at Rs. 10 Crores and for others at Rs. 100
- Once qualified, the investor will be incentivized up to 20 times of minimum investment threshold enabling them to utilize their unused capacity.
- The Scheme will be operational from 1st April 2021
This scheme will lead to incremental production of around Rs 2.4 Lakh Crores with exports of around Rs 2 Lakh Crores over 5 years. It is expected that scheme will bring investment of more than Rs 3,000 crore and generate huge direct and indirect employment and taxes both.
UPSC Current Affairs: Cabinet nod for changes in juvenile law | Page 10
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 |UPSC
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Women and Child Development to amend the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 to introduce measures for strengthening Child Protection set-up to ensure best interest of children.
The amendments include authorizing District Magistrate including Additional District Magistrate to issue adoption orders under Section 61 of the JJ Act, in order to ensure speedy disposal of cases and enhance accountability. The District Magistrates have been further empowered under the Act, to ensure its smooth implementation, as well as garner synergized efforts in favour of children in distress conditions. Defining eligibility parameters for appointment of CWC members, and categorizing previously undefined offences as ‘serious offence’ are some of the other aspects of the proposal. Several difficulties faced in implementation of various provisions of the Act have also been addressed.
UPSC Current Affairs: U.S. will pay over $200 million to WHO’| Page 13
UPSC Syllabus: | Mains – GS Paper II – International Relation
Sub Theme: Funding of WHO| COVAX | UPSC
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that his country would pay the World Health Organization (WHO) $200 million by the end of this month. The announcement is significant as former U.S. President Donald Trump had begun the process of withdrawing the U.S. from the WHO, a process stopped by his successor, President Joe Biden.
United States intends to pay over 200 million in assessed and current obligations to the WHO.
This is a key step forward in fulfilling our financial obligations as a WHO member and it reflects our renewed commitment to ensuring the WHO has the support it needs to lead the global response to the pandemic.
Mr. Trump had pulled the U.S. out of the WHO, which he had called a ‘puppet of China’’. This process would have been complete in mid-2021, but Mr. Biden reversed it hours after assuming office last month. US plans to provide significant financial support to COVAX through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
COVAX is one of three pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which was launched in April by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission and France in response to this pandemic. Bringing together governments, global health organisations, manufacturers, scientists, private sector, civil society and philanthropy, with the aim of providing innovative and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. The COVAX pillar is focussed on the latter. It is the only truly global solution to this pandemic because it is the only effort to ensure that people in all corners of the world will get access to COVID-19 vaccines once they are available, regardless of their wealth.
Coordinated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the WHO, COVAX will achieve this by acting as a platform that will support the research, development and manufacturing of a wide range of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, and negotiate their pricing. All participating countries, regardless of income levels, will have equal access to these vaccines once they are developed. The initial aim is to have 2 billion doses available by the end of 2021, which should be enough to protect high risk and vulnerable people, as well as frontline healthcare workers.