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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

Monthly DNA

07 Aug, 2021

76 Min Read

Colombo Security Conclave among India, Sri Lanka and Maldives

GS-II : International Relations India and its neighborhood

Colombo Security Conclave among India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives

  • India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives have agreed to work on “four pillars” of security cooperation, covering areas of marine security, human trafficking, counter-terrorism, and cyber security, in a recent virtual meeting of top security officials of the three countries.
  • The discussion comes nine months after National Security Adviser Ajit Doval visited Colombo for deliberations with Secretary to Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence, Kamal Gunaratne, and Defence Minister of Maldives, Mariya Didi, in which the three countries agreed to expand the scope of intelligence sharing.
  • Their meeting marked the revival of NSA-level trilateral talks on maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region after a gap of six years.
  • Following up on that, the Deputy NSA-level meeting this week identified “four pillars” of cooperation in Marine Safety and Security, Terrorism and Radicalisation, Trafficking and Organised Crime, and Cyber security.
  • The ‘Colombo Security Conclave’ among the three neighbouring countries seeks to “further promote” maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region and was initiated by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2011, when he was Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, according to a media release from the Sri Lankan Army.
  • The initiative, grounded in military and security collaboration, assumes significance in the region, in the wake of the current geostrategic dynamic that India shares with Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Earlier this year, India aired security concerns over China being awarded development projects on an island off Sri Lanka’s northern province, close to India’s southern border.
  • On the other hand, the Maldives’s engagement with members of the India-United States-Japan-Australia grouping, known as the ‘Quad’, has been growing over the last year, especially in the area of defence cooperation. The Ibrahim Mohamed Solih government signed a ‘Framework for a Defence and Security Relationship’ agreement with the United States last year, an initiative that India welcomed.
  • In November 2020, the Maldives received a Japanese grant of $7.6 million for the Maldivian Coast Guard and a Maritime Rescue and Coordination Center. Meanwhile, Male’s foreign policy choices are increasingly being challenged by sections, mostly opposition groups, wary of “Indian boots on the ground”.

Source: TH

National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture

GS-III : Economic Issues Agriculture reforms

National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture

  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India launched a flagship network project ‘National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture’ (NICRA) in 2011.
  • The project aims at strategic research on adaptation and mitigation, demonstration of technologies on farmers’ fields and creating awareness among farmers and other stakeholders to minimize the climatic change impacts on agriculture.
  • In the strategic research, the main thrust areas covered are
  1. Identifying most vulnerable districts/regions,
  2. Evolving crop varieties and management practices for adaptation and mitigation,
  3. Assessing climate change impacts on livestock, fisheries and poultry and identifying adaptation strategies.
  • So far, 7 climate resilient varieties and 650 district agricultural contingency plans have been developed besides assessing the risk and vulnerability of Indian agriculture to climate change.
  • Under technology demonstrations, location specific technologies have been demonstrated in 151 climatically vulnerable districts.
  • In the past nine years, 16,958 training programs have been conducted throughout the country under NICRA project to educate stakeholders on various aspects of climate change and resilient technologies, covering 5,14,816 stakeholders so as to enable wider adoption of climate resilient technologies and increase in yields.
  • State-of-the-art infrastructure facilities have been established by ICAR in the National Agricultural Research and Education System (NARES) across the country to facilitate the climate change research. Unique infrastructure facilities viz. High Throughput Plant Phenomics, Free Air Temperature Enrichment facility (FATE), Free Air CO2 Enrichment facility (FACE), CO2 Temperature Gradient Chambers (CTGC), Gas chromatography, Atomic absorption spectrophotometers, Environmental growth chamber, UV-VIS spectrophotometer, Thermal imaging system, Psychrometric chambers etc. have been established at various ICAR institutes to facilitate the climate change research.
  • The construction and operation of psychometric chambers have been undertaken for studying the effect of different environmental conditions viz., temperature, humidity, and air movement on livestock, with special reference to cattle and buffaloes, environmental growth chambers with CO2 and temperature controls and special calorimetric system to study livestock response to heat stress.
  • Custom hiring centers (CHCs) have been established in 121 NICRA villages to ensure availability of farm implements for timely operations.

Source: PIB

SANKALP Scheme

GS-III : Economic Issues Human resource development

SANKALP Scheme

  • Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) Scheme is a World Bank loan-assisted programme of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) with three key Result Areas (RA), namely
    • Institutional Strengthening at Central, State, and District level;
    • Quality Assurance of skill development programmes; and
    • Inclusion of marginalized population in skill development programmes.
  • The implementation period of SANKALP is till March 2023.

The positive outcome so far is seen in the following areas:

  • Strengthening of the District Skill Committees leading to a demand-driven approach for the implementation of the PradhanMantriKaushalVikasYojana (PMKVY).
  • District-level skill planning through District Skill development plans.
  • Focus on improving access to skill training for Women, SC/ST and other marginalized weaker sections of the society.

The institutions strengthened so far under SANKALP are as under:

  • State Skill Development Missions through State Incentive Grants.
  • District Skill Committees through Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship (MGNF) program and capacity buildingtraining.
  • Gram Panchayats by bringing skill training and certification within their ambit.
  • Sector Skill Councils by linking them up with opportunities for industry-skilled manpower connection indistricts.
  • National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) being an important implementing partner of pilotprojects.
  • National Instructional Media Institute (NIMI) by augmenting resources through their management of the MGNF Program.
  • SANKALP is a supporting programme to skill training schemes which focuses inter-alia on the improvement of quality, strengthening of institutions and inclusion of weaker sections in skill training.

SANKALP has undertaken several initiatives to contribute to improvement in employability, some of which are as under:

  • Strengthening of District Skill Committees for improved access to and demand-driven skill training for employment.
  • Emphasis on skill certification in Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) at Gram Panchayat level for improving employment qualitatively.
  • Funded the development of an IT system namely “Skill India Portal” to capture the data for skilling-related activities across the country.
  • The global Skill Gap study was conducted to identify the global gaps in demand and supply of skilled manpower as well as overseas employment opportunities for skilled workers from India. The Report helped in identifying important countries of interest as destinations and job roles of interest.
  • Released Rs. 273.49 Crore as State Incentive Grants to 30 States/ UTs and Rs. 13.91 Crore to aspirational districts for implementation of the SANKALP Scheme in the States/UTs.
  • Improving the quality of trainers in the Auto sector in collaboration with Automotive Skill Development Council (ASDC), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and Maharashtra State Skill Development Society (MSSDS) at Aurangabad, Maharashtra.
  • A Gender Action Plan (GAP) has been prepared for promoting the inclusion of women in Short term skilling and livelihood opportunities.

Source: PIB

Everything about e-RUPI

GS-III : Economic Issues Banking

Everything about e-RUPI

What is e-RUPI and how does it work?

  • e-RUPI is basically a digital voucher that a beneficiary gets on his phone in the form of an SMS or QR code.
  • It is a pre-paid voucher, which he/she can go and redeem it at any centre that accepts its.
  • For example, if the Government wants to cover a particular treatment of an employee in a specified hospital, it can issue an e-RUPI voucher for the determined amount through a partner bank.
  • The employee will receive an SMS or a QR Code on his feature phone/smartphone. He/she can go to the specified hospital, avail of the services and pay through the e-RUPI voucher received on his phone.
  • Thus e-RUPI is a one-time contactless, cashless voucher-based mode of payment that helps users redeem the voucher without a card, digital payments app, or internet banking access.
  • e-RUPI should not be confused with Digital Currency which the Reserve Bank of India is contemplating. Instead, e-RUPI is a person-specific, even purpose-specific digital voucher.

How is e-RUPI advantageous to the Consumer?

  • e-RUPI does not require the beneficiary to have a bank account, a major distinguishing feature as compared to other digital payment forms. It ensures an easy, contactless two-step redemption process that does not require sharing of personal details either.
  • Another advantage is that e-RUPI is operable on basic phones also, and hence it can be used by persons who do not own smartphones or in places that lack an internet connection.

What are the benefits of e-RUPI for the sponsors?

  • e-RUPI is expected to play a major role in strengthening Direct-Benefit Transfer and making it more transparent. Since there is no need for physical issuance of vouchers, it will also lead to some cost savings as well.

What benefits accrue to the Service Providers?

  • Being a prepaid voucher, e-RUPI would assure real-time payments to the service provider.

Who has developed the e-RUPI?

  • The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which oversees the digital payments ecosystem in India, has launched e-RUPI, a voucher-based payments system to promote cashless transactions.
  • It has been developed in collaboration with the Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and National Health Authority.

Which Banks issue e-RUPI ?

  • NPCI has partnered with 11 banks for e-RUPI transactions. They are Axis Bank, Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Indian Bank, IndusInd Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Punjab National Bank, State Bank of India and Union Bank of India.
  • The acquiring Apps are Bharat Pe, BHIM Baroda Merchant Pay, Pine Labs, PNB Merchant Pay and YoNo SBI Merchant Pay.

Where can e-RUPI be used now ?

  • To begin with, NPCI has tied up with more than 1,600 hospitals where e-RUPI can be redeemed.
  • Experts say, in the days to come the user base of e-RUPI is expected to widen, with even the private sector using it to deliver employee benefits and MSMEs adopting it for Business To Business (B2B) transactions.

Source: PIB

SATYAM Programme and Cognitive Science Research Initiative

GS-III : S&T COVID-19

SATYAM Programme and Cognitive Science Research Initiative

Recently, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) initiated the Science and Technology of Yoga and Meditation (SATYAM) programme. Under SATYAM, DST has invited proposals to study appropriate intervention of yoga and meditation in fighting Covid-19 and similar kinds of viruses.

Aim:

To provide assistance to society in today’s critical condition arising due to pandemic Covid-19.

This is a need-based call, therefore, proposed work should be completed within 6-12 months.

  • Dimensions of Covid: Covid-19 usually has three dimensions, related to:
    • Stress (worry, sitting at home).
    • Respiratory.
    • Immune system.
  • Scientific Investigation: The effects of yoga and meditation on the life of a person during such stressful times have to be scientifically investigated.
    • Sometimes, there is an empirical correlation in the actions and the outcome, but it needs to be understood scientifically.
  • Modern Tools: All the participants are expected to work together using the modern tools of life science and bio-sciences to understand what works and what does not.
    • If something works then what is the efficacy and in what conditions does it work.
  • Holistic Target: The project may address improving immunity, improving respiratory systems and interventions to overcome respiratory disorders and other dimensions like stress, anxiety and depression-related issues due to isolation, uncertainty and disruption in normal life.

Science and Technology of Yoga and Meditation Programme

  • It was conceptualized in 2015 by the DST under its Cognitive Science Research Initiative (CSRI).
  • Aims: To foster scientific research on the effects of yoga and meditation on physical & mental health and on cognitive functioning in healthy people as well as in patients with disorders.
  • Themes:
    • Investigations on the effect of Yoga and Meditation on physical and mental health and well-being.
    • Investigations on the effect of Yoga and Meditation on the body, brain, and mind in terms of basic processes and mechanisms.
  • Eligibility:
    • Scientists/academicians with a research backgrounds in ‘Yoga and Meditation and having regular positions are invited to participate in this initiative.
    • Practitioners actively involved in yoga and meditation practices are also encouraged to apply in collaboration with academic and research institutions of repute.
  • Project Duration: The project is tenable for a maximum period of three years.

Cognitive Science Research Initiative

  • DST initiated this as a highly focused programme in 2008 during the 11th Five-year plan.
  • The DSRI facilitates a platform for the scientific community to work for better solutions to challenges related to cognitive disorders and social issues through various psychological tools & batteries, early diagnosis & better therapies, intervention technologies and rehabilitation programmes.
  • Aim:
    • To foster scientific research in the interdisciplinary field of Cognitive Science for a better understanding of Indian mindsets, languages and cognitive disorders etc.
  • CSRI revolutionizes research in various fields, such as:
    • Nature and origins of mental disorders, of physiological, social and neuro-chemical origins.
    • Design of better learning tools and educational paradigm.
    • Design of better software technologies and artificial intelligence devices.
    • Streamlining of social policy formulation and analysis.
  • Activities Supported under CSRI:
    • Individual R&D Projects.
    • Multi-centric Mega Projects.
    • Post-Doctoral Fellowship.
    • Support for Schools, Training, Workshops, Conferences, etc.

Source: PIB

Agriculture Export Policy, 2018

GS-III : Economic Issues Agriculture reforms

Agriculture Export Policy, 2018

  • India, with large and diverse agriculture, is among the world’s leading producers of cereals, milk, sugar, fruits and vegetables, spices, eggs and seafood products.
  • Indian agriculture continues to be the backbone of our society and it provides livelihood to nearly 50 % of our population.
  • India is supporting 17.84 per cent of world’s population, 15% of livestock population with merely 2.4 per cent of world’s land and 4 per cent water resources.
  • Hence, continuous innovation and efforts towards productivity, pre & post-harvest management, processing and value-addition, use of technology and infrastructure creation is an imperative for Indian agriculture.
  • Various studies on fresh fruits and vegetables, fisheries in India have indicated a loss percentage ranging from about 8% to 18% on account of poor post-harvest management, absence of cold chain and processing facilities.
  • Therefore, agro processing and agricultural exports are a key area and it is a matter of satisfaction that India’s role in global export of agricultural products is steadily increasing.
  • India is currently ranked tenth amongst the major exporters globally as per WTO trade data for 2016.
  • India’s share in global exports of agriculture products has increased from 1% a few years ago, to 2.2 % in 2016.

Vision and objectives

The Agriculture Export Policy is framed with a focus on

  • Agriculture export oriented production,
  • Export promotion,
  • Better farmer realization and
  • Synchronization within policies and programmes of Government of India.

Vision

  • Harness export potential of Indian agriculture, through suitable policy instruments, to make India global power in agriculture and raise farmers income.

Objectives

  • To double agricultural exports from present ~US$ 30+ Billion to ~US$ 60+ Billion by 2022 and reach US$ 100 Billion in the next few years thereafter, with a stable trade policy regime.
  • To diversify our export basket, destinations and boost high value and value added agricultural exports including focus on perishables.
  • To promote novel, indigenous, organic, ethnic, traditional and non-traditional Agri products exports.
  • To provide an institutional mechanism for pursuing market access, tackling barriers and deal with sanitary and phytosanitary issues.
  • To strive to double India’s share in world agriculture exports by integrating with global value chain at the earliest.
  • Enable farmers to get benefit of export opportunities in overseas market.

Policy recommendations

The policy recommendations in this report are organized in two broad categories - strategic and operational.

Strategic

  • Policy Measures - Discussions with public and private stakeholders across the agricultural value chain highlighted certain structural changes that were required to boost agricultural exports. These comprise of both general and commodity specific measures that may be urgently taken and at little to no financial cost. The subsequent gains, however, are aplenty.
  • Infrastructure and logistics - Presence of robust infrastructure is critical component of a strong agricultural value chain. This involves pre-harvest and post-harvest handling facilities, storage & distribution, processing facilities, roads and world class exit point infrastructure at ports facilitating swift trade. Mega Food Parks, state-of-the-art testing laboratories and Integrated Cold Chains are the fundamentals on which India can increase its agricultural exports. Given the perishable nature and stringent import standards for most of the food products, efficient and time-sensitive handling is extremely vital to agricultural commodities
  • Holistic approach to boost exports - Agricultural exports are determined by supply side factors, food security, processing facilities, infrastructure bottlenecks and several regulations. This involves multiple ministries and state departments. Strategic and operational synergy across ministries will be key to boosting productivity and quality.
  • Greater involvement of State Governments in Agriculture Exports

Operational Recommendations

  • Focus on Clusters : There is a need to evolve and put in place institutional mechanism for effective involvement and engagement of small and medium farmers for entire value chain as group enterprise(s) within cluster of villages at the block level for select produce(s). This will help to realize actual benefit and empowerment of farming community to double their income through entire value chain
  • Promoting value added exports
  1. Product development for indigenous commodities and value addition
  2. Promote value added organic exports
  3. Promotion of R&D activities for new product Development for the upcoming markets
  4. Skill development
  • Marketing and promotion of “Brand India”
  • Attract private investments in export oriented activities and infrastructure.
  • Establishment of Strong Quality Regimen
  • Research and Development - Agricultural research and development (R&D) led by private industry along with higher infrastructure spend by the government will be the key to boosting agricultural exports.
  • Miscellaneous - Creation of Agri-start-up fund: Entrepreneurs are to be supported to start a new venture in Agri products exports during their initial period of establishment.

Source: PIB

Rural Healthcare Services

GS-III : S&T Health

Rural Healthcare Services

  • NHM support is also provided for the provision of a range of free services related to maternal health, child health, adolescent health, family planning, universal immunisation programme, and for major diseases such as Tuberculosis, vector-borne diseases like Malaria, Dengue and Kala Azar, Leprosy etc.
  • Other major initiatives supported under NHM include Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK) (under which free drugs, free diagnostics, free blood and diet, free transport from home to institution, between facilities in case of a referral and drop back home is provided),
  • Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) (which provides newborn and child health screening and early interventions services free of cost for birth defects, diseases, deficiencies and developmental delays to improve the quality of survival), implementation of Free Drugs and Free Diagnostics Service Initiatives, PM National Dialysis Programme and implementation of National Quality Assurance Framework in all public health facilities including in rural areas.
  • Mobile Medical Units (MMUs) & Tele-consultation services are also being implemented to improve access to healthcare, particularly in rural areas.
  • As part of Ayushman Bharat, the Government is supporting the States for transformation of Sub Health Centres and Primary Health Centres into 1.5 lakh Health and Wellness Centres across the country by December, 2022 for provision of Comprehensive Primary Health Care (CPHC) that includes preventive healthcare and health promotion at the community level with continuum of care approach. Under this programme, CPHC services of an expanded range of services, that are universal and free to users, with a focus on wellness, are provided, closer to the community. Further Ayushman Bharat, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) provides health coverage up to Rs 5 Lakh per family per year to around 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable families as per Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC).
  • Financial support is also provided to States for providing hard area allowance, performance-based incentives, providing accommodation and transport facilities in rural and remote areas including tribal areas, sponsoring training programmes, etc to engaged human resources to address the issue of shortage of doctors and specialists in the public health facilities.
  • In the 15 years of implementation, the NHM has enabled achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for health. It has also led to significant improvements in maternal, new-born, and child health indicators, particularly for maternal mortality ratio, infant and under five mortality rates, wherein the rates of decline in India are much higher than the global averages and these declines have accelerated during the period of implementation of NHM.

Report of NITI Aayog (March 2021), collated the three Studies done on the aspects of Governance, Human Resources, Financing and Health outcomes and the key findings of the Report are as follows:

  • There has been significant improvement in the infrastructure facilities during NHM period with an increase in number of beds in the government hospitals as well in the community health centers (CHCs) from 0.44 in 2005 to 0.7 in 2019 per 1000 population.
  • The focus on infrastructure improvement resulted in construction of more than 46,000 health facilities, with a significant increase in the total number of first referral units (FRUs) (940 in 2005 to 3057 in 2019).
  • The number of doctors, nurses in PHCs and CHCs also increased during the NHM periods. An additional 200,000 healthcare providers (from auxiliary nurse-midwives (ANMs) to specialists’ doctors) and 850,000 village level ASHA in rural areas were recruited during the NHM period.
  • There is strong evidence to show that increased infrastructure and increased human resources has had a positive effect on improving the availability, affordability and accessibility of maternal and child services, leading to improved antenatal and postnatal care and improved maternal and child outcomes.
  • Maternal and child indicators such as the IMR, NMR and MMR have shown a marked improvement in the NHM period. There has been a remarkable decline in under five mortality rate (U5MR) from 78 to 37 per thousand live births from 2005 to 2019.
  • The infant mortality rate (IMR) declined from 58 per 1000 live births to 32 per 1000 live births during 2013-18.
  • The neonatal mortality reduced from 38 per thousand live births to 22 per thousand live births, with a percentage decline of 42.1% from 2005 to 2019. Maternal mortality ratio (MMR) declined by 52%, from 257 per lakh live births in 2004-06 to 122 per lakh live births, in 2015-17.
  • Improvements in maternal and child indicators can be attributed to better implementation of facility based newborn care including sick newborn care units (SNCUs), evidenced from systematic review.
  • Various studies showed that Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) strategy had a strong evidence in promoting institutional delivery and reducing perinatal mortality. JSSK had a role in providing free diagnostics by improving the affordability.
  • There is strong evidence that shows that child health strategies such as Facility Based Newborn Care (FBNC), Home Based Post Natal Care (HBPNC), Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illness (IMNCI) and immunization improved the availability, affordability and accessibility of child health services especially for the rural and poor community.
  • There has been steady decline in out-of-pocket expenditure for under five child hospitalization, institutional deliveries and catastrophic hospitalizations as per consecutive rounds of NSS surveys. Multiple schemes launched by the government like free transport, free diagnostics, free dialysis, and free drug / Jan AushadhiKendras are initiatives that have contributed to reducing OOPE.

Source: PIB

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