13 Apr 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
HEALTH
1. Centre to snuff out ‘toxic’ e-cigarettes
2. WHO directives call for support for breastfeeding
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. NBFCs tighten grip as promoters pledge shares
2. Pressure on RBI to ease NPA norms
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. IRNSS-1I to enrich navigation fleet
E. Editorials
HEALTH
1. People-centred health care
F. Prelims Fact
G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: HEALTH

1. Centre to snuff out ‘toxic’ e-cigarettes

 

  • The Centre has informed the Delhi High Court that it is in the process of issuing guidelines to ban the manufacture, import, sale and any kind of trade in e-cigarettes, dubbing it a “new emerging threat”.
  • It said the flavouring agent in e-cigarettes was intended towards attracting the youth to a “new nicotine delivery product”.
  • The glamorising marketing techniques of ENDS as a less harmful product purely mimics the marketing techniques used by the cigarette industry for slim- or low-tar cigarettes and are youth-oriented.
  • The Ministry submitted that the chief constituent of e-cigarettes was nicotine, which was addictive.
  • It also has a high level of toxicity and can lead to development of cardiovascular diseases, lung diseases, have adverse effect on the immune and gastrointestinal systems, and raise the risk of miscarriage in pregnant women.
  • Though there are no specific guidelines to deal with e-cigarettes, several State governments and Union Territories have taken steps to prohibit it.

E- Cigarettes

  • An electronic cigarette or e-cigarette is a handheld electronic device that simulates the feeling of tobacco smoking. It works by heating a liquid to generate an aerosol, commonly called a “vapor”, that the user inhales.
  • Using e-cigarettes is sometimes called vaping. The liquid in the e-cigarette, called e-liquid, is usually made of nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerine, and flavorings. Not all e-liquids contain nicotine.
  • The health risks of e-cigarettes are uncertain. They are likely safer than tobacco cigarettes but are of unclear effect in relation to other methods of stopping smoking. Their long-term health effects are not known.
  • They may help some smokers quit. When used by non-smokers, e-cigarettes can lead to nicotine addiction, and there is concern that children could start smoking after using e-cigarettes
  • E-cigarettes create an aerosol, commonly called vapor.Its exact composition varies. The majority of toxic chemicals found in tobacco smoke are absent in e-cigarette aerosol.
  • Those present are mostly below 1% corresponding levels in tobacco smoke. The aerosol can contain toxicants and traces of heavy metals at levels permissible in inhalation medicines, and potentially harmful chemicals not found in tobacco smoke at concentrations permissible by workplace safety standards.
  • However, chemical concentrations may exceed the stricter public safety limits.

2. WHO directives call for support for breastfeeding

 

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) issued a new 10-step guidance to increase support for breastfeeding in health facilities that provide maternity and newborn services, which provide the immediate health system platform to help mothers initiate breastfeeding within the first hour and breastfeed exclusively for six months.
  • Breastfeeding all babies for the first 2 years would save the lives of more than 8,20,000 children under age 5 annually, noted a release issued by the WHO.
  • The guidelines describe how hospitals should have a written breastfeeding policy in place, required staff competencies, and antenatal and post-birth care, including breastfeeding support for mothers.
  • It also recommends limited use of breast milk substitutes, rooming-in, responsive feeding, educating parents on the use of bottles and pacifiers, and support when mothers and babies are discharged from hospital.
  • Breastfeeding saves lives. Its benefits help keep babies healthy in their first days and last well into adulthood.
  • But breastfeeding requires support, encouragement and guidance. With these basic steps, implemented properly, we can significantly improve breastfeeding rates around the world and give children the best possible start in life.
  • WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that in many hospitals and communities across the world, the question whether a child can be breastfed or not can make the difference between life and death.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. NBFCs tighten grip as promoters pledge shares

 

  • Promoters are increasingly becoming dependent on pledging their shares to raise capital, which is viewed as a risky proposition, especially in a volatile market.
  • Data from the BSE shows that the number of companies with promoters pledging their shares increased last quarter, with non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) tightening their grip in an area of lending where mutual funds have also become quite active.
  • NBFCs are becoming more dominant in this space as the overall risk appetite of banks is going down due to their own challenges.
  • Capital market has risks and there have been instances in the past when stocks have been hammered during bearish periods. Also, NBFCs have lesser restrictions compared to banks.
  • According to a recent analysis by Prime Database, Kotak Group was one of the biggest players in this segment, with the NBFC and mutual fund arms of Axis Group, ICICI Group and HDFC Group also being among the top entities.

Limitations of banks

  • Banks have restrictions in terms of their overall capital market exposure and also in terms of the quantum of loan against shares.

While RBI regulations cap such funding at 50% of the value of shares pledged, generally additional margin is kept aside so that there is no need to top-up when the markets fall.

What is Promoter Pledging?

  • Promoter pledging refers to the practice of promoters giving their shares as collateral to financial institutions to raise funds to meet short-term capital requirements or, at times, even for capital expansion when other avenues are difficult to tap.
  • Many do not view such pledging as a good practice, since any significant fall in the market could lead to the pledge being revoked by the lender and the shares being sold in the open market.
  • Interestingly, while the benchmark Sensex fell a little more than 3% between December 31 and March 31, the value of pledged shares fell more than 21% from Rs. 3.04 lakh crore to Rs. 2.40 lakh crore over the same period.
  • Shares which are pledged are more vulnerable than the market. Such shares have a tendency to react much more than market movement. And if a company whose shares are pledged is part of the derivatives segment, then it is a walking signboard inviting trouble.
  • Incidentally, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has made it mandatory for companies to disclose to the stock exchanges every time such a pledge is created.

2. Pressure on RBI to ease NPA norms

 

  • The finance ministry is in discussion with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for relaxation of norms regarding stressed asset resolution that was announced. This follows representation by large banks to the ministry officials as they worry about pressure on profitability due to the revised guidelines.
  • RBI’s mandate to implement a resolution plan even if the loan is overdue for a day, has in particular upset banks. RBI had also mandated that if the solution plan was not implemented within 180 days, bankruptcy process should be initiated. Banks have to make 50% provision for accounts that are referred to the NCLT for insolvency proceedings.
  • According to bankers, the conditions of the resolution plan, as laid down by RBI, are so stringent that it will increase provisioning requirement. That is, banks have to set aside more capital. RBI had issued a circular on February 12 outlining a new mechanism for stressed asset resolution which could result in rise in provisioning requirements.
  • According to bankers, the Indian Banks’ Association has made a recommendation to the central bank to revise the guidelines. Separately, a group of bank chief executives have also met finance ministry officials to highlight their concerns.
  • According to RBI norms, if the principal or interest is overdue for one day to 30 days, the account is identified as Special Mention Account – 0 (SMA-0) category.
  • If it is overdue for 30 to 60 days, it comes under the SMA-1 category and if it is overdue for more than 60 days, till 90 days, it falls under SMA-2 category. If a loan is not repaid for more than 90 days, it is classified as non-performing asset (NPA).

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. IRNSS-1I to enrich navigation fleet

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: HEALTH

1. People-centred health care

Context

  • Technology can help achieve it but mind-sets must change too
  • The last fortnight saw a lot of high level activity on health care. April 7 was World Health Day, which has the theme of Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere.
  • On March 24, which is observed as World TB Day, India set itself an extremely ambitious goal, that by 2025, not as far off as you may think, India will completely eradicate TB (“Zero deaths, disease and poverty due to TB”).

Consider the facts:

  • The disease kills an estimated 4.8 lakh Indians every year, or 1,400 every day.
  • India adds the most number of TB patients every year 2.9 million, or 27% of the world’s total.
  • Worse, it is also home to the largest number of TB patients who are resistant to multiple drugs commonly used to treat the disease.
  • India has a quarter of the world’s close to half a million multidrug resistant TB (MDR-TB) patients.
  • According to the Global TB Report of 2017, treatment success rate among MDR-TB patients in India is about 46% and the death rate is around 20%.

What does it mean to achieve the goal of a TB-free India by 2025?

  • For starters, India needs to achieve a ten-fold increase in the reduction rate of TB every year, from the current baseline of 217 per 100,000 population (in 2015) to 44 per 100,000 population in less than a decade.
  • According to the National Strategic Plan (NSP) for TB elimination, released last year, this will also involve reducing the mortality rate due to TB from the current 32 per lakh population to just three.
  • According to data in the NSP, this will require upping the number of patients actually notified as TB patients from the current 1.7 million to 3.6 million within the next three years.
  • That may not sound difficult but the NSP report says that the proportion of identified “targeted key affected population” undergoing “active case finding” needs to be 100%.
  • In 2015, this was zero. Targeted key affected population means health workers actively go and test those identified as vulnerable to TB the poor, the malnourished and those residents in areas where TB is endemic.

Can India’s creaky health care system, even with global funding and support, take this number from zero to 100% in five years?

  • One of the key problems in tackling TB lies in ensuring that patients, once identified, actually take the prescribed course of medication.
  • Medicines are not really a problem, and are provided free to patients.
  • But the course of treatment is long: typically six months to a year.
  • India largely follows the WHO-prescribed DOTS system (Directly Observed Treatment, Short-Course) to deal with this problem.
  • This means that the patient will have to come to the treatment centre for medicines, which will have to be taken in the presence of a health worker and certified.
  • This sounds good on paper and does work to some extent (which is why India’s success rate is higher than the global average) but there are problems.
  • For the poor, a trek to the health centre usually means loss of wages.
  • And if the patient cannot make it due to travel, marriage, or livelihood commitments, the treatment is missed, leading to higher drug resistance and a more persistent problem to solve.

Technological solutions

  1. Global software giant Microsoft, for instance, has developed a programme called 99DOTS.
  • In this, each dose is placed in an individual blister pack.
  • Once the patient opens the pack and takes out the pill, a telephone number is seen.
  • All she has to do is give a missed call to that number to log that she has taken the drug.
  • Since the number is visible only after the drug is taken out, there is a high chance that the patient has actually taken the dose.
  • Missed doses trigger SMS alerts and phone counselling by health workers.
  1. Delhi-based ZMQ Development
  • A technology-based social enterprise which was recognised last month as The Hindu BusinessLine’s Change Maker of the Year in Digital Transformation, has come up with an even more foolproof solution.
  • It uses the Video Observed Therapy approach.
  • Patients shoot a selfie video while taking the dose at home with the smartphone provided by ZMQ and upload it.
  • This gives a visual confirmation that the drug is taken. Missed doses trigger alerts and interventions by pre-identified support volunteers in the community.

This is the kind of mindset change that is needed if India is to achieve its ambitious health goals.

F. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements:
  1. According to RBI norms, if the principal or interest is overdue for one day to 30 days, the account is identified as Special Mention Account – 0 (SMA-0) category.

  2. If a loan is not repaid for more than 60 days, it is classified as non-performing asset (NPA).

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 2. Consider the following statements about Promoter pledging:
  1. Promoter pledging refers to the practice of promoters giving their shares as collateral.

  2. Promoters, in order to raise funds for either personal or company needs, pledge their holding shares to any financial institution.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements:
  1. Shares which are pledged are more vulnerable than the market.

  2. Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has made it mandatory for companies to disclose to the stock exchanges every time a pledge that is part of derivative market is created.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 4. Consider the following statements:
  1. Under provisioning, banks have to set aside or provide funds to a prescribed percentage of their bad assets.

  2. The percentage of bad asset that has to be ‘provided for’ is called provisioning coverage ratio.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 5. Consider the following statements about NAVIC Scheme: 
  1. NAVIC will provide two levels of service, the ‘standard positioning service’ will be open for civilian use, and a ‘restricted service’ (an encrypted one) for authorized users (including military).

  2. The system is intended to provide an absolute position accuracy of better than 20 meters throughout Indian landmass and better than 40 meters in the Indian Ocean.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer

H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

General Studies II
 
  1. Can Ayushman Bharat make for a healthier India? Critically Comment.
General Studies III
 
  1. What are the objectives of National Sports University Bill? Why was its introduction a necessity?
 

 

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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