29 Jul 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. The lowdown on GST rate cuts
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. How safe is CRISPR?
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
GOVERNANCE
1. E-Government Development Index (EGDI)
F. Tidbits
1. These beautiful strangers now thrive in India
2. Nearly half of head and neck cancer patients die within a year of diagnosis: doc
3. Formaldehyde in fish
4. India has potential to be the global leader in tiger conservation: expert
5. Development projects pose threat to habitats
6. Arsenic contamination in paddy is rising in Bengal, says study
7. Companies pick holes in data protection Bill
8. Health care, level one
G. Prelims Fact
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related 

Nothing here for today!!!

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. The lowdown on GST rate cuts

 

  • The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, at its 28th meeting, reduced the tax rates on more than 50 items, including commonly used products like sanitary pads, and white goods like washing machines, refrigerators and kitchen appliances.

Key decisions on taxes

  • Sanitary pads have been exempted from the GST — it had a 12% tax rate earlier. White goods have seen their tax rates reduced to 18% from the earlier 28%.
  • Also of interest to the common man, the Council decided to tax footwear of value up to ₹1,000 at 5%, where earlier this slab was reserved for footwear up to a value of ₹500.
  • The Council also decided to provide relief to the hotel industry by saying that the rate of tax on the accommodation service would be calculated on the basis of the transaction value and not the declared tariff.
  • The Council took a key decision on the returns filing process. Assessees with an annual income of less than ₹5 crore can now file their returns on a quarterly basis.
  • This affects more than 90% of GST filers, and so has been seen as a welcome move for small businesses.
  • In addition, the Council finalised two simplified forms — Sahaj and Sugam — for the large filers.

Significance

  • The rate reductions are in keeping with the Council’s ongoing efforts to rationalise the tax rates and keep as few items in the 28% bracket as possible.
  • What the rate cuts have done is to narrow the 28% rate slab to only luxury items and sin goods such as tobacco and cigarettes. This is a welcome move, and a big step towards possibly removing the slab altogether, thereby further simplifying the GST.
  • The simplification of the return filing procedures is also the next in a series of steps taken by the Council such as widening the eligibility criterion of the Composition Scheme, putting on hold the more complicated aspects of filing GST returns, and simplifying the forms in a staged manner.

Sanitary pads

  • The decision to exempt sanitary pads from the GST has been seen as a women-friendly and progressive move that will greatly reduce their price.
  • This is an incorrect assessment, given how the GST is structured. Products exempt from the GST are also ineligible for input tax credits. So, while the output tax has been slashed, the input tax burden on companies making these pads has increased.
  • With the two main manufacturers of pads in India likely wanting to maintain their profit margins at the same levels as before the rate cut was announced, the decrease in price for the consumers is likely to only be a few rupees.

White goods

  • Further, the government deflected questions on the revenue impact of its rate reductions on white goods by saying that the increased demand due to the price reduction would mean that the overall tax revenue from these products would remain largely unaffected.
  • First, the tax relief will result in only a 7-8% price reduction of these white goods, many of which cost several thousand rupees.
  • Second, the demand for these white goods is relatively inelastic in the sense that people will not buy more of them simply because they are cheaper. You will buy only as many washing machines as you need.

Way forward

  • The GST Council takes up new rate-related issues at each of its meetings. Looming over the agenda is the issue of petroleum products and when they will be included in the GST.
  • Reports say the Council will take this up in a staged manner, first considering natural gas, then aviation turbine fuel, and then possibly petrol and diesel.
  • The return filing process is also in for some more gradual changes as the Council finalises the manner in which the invoice-matching system can be incorporated into the system. Without invoice matching, the GST is still incomplete.

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. How safe is CRISPR?

 

  • The clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats, or CRISPR/CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) (CRISPR-Cas9) system has revolutionised genetic manipulations and made gene editing simpler, faster and easily accessible to most laboratories.
  • The technique has gained considerable traction recently to repair defective genes for potential therapeutic applications.
  • Based on this promise, multiple clinical trials have been initiated in the U.S. and China (using the CRISPR-Cas9 system) to produce gene-edited cells for cancer and HIV-1 therapy.

Various studies

  • A study by Stanford University, U.S., found that the CRISPR-Cas9 system introduces unexpected off-target (outside of the intended editing sites) effects in mice.
  • Although the manuscript describing the study results has since been retracted (due to the lack of proper controls ascribing a causal role of the CRISPR-Cas9 system in introducing off-target effects), the fear that the CRISPR system is being prematurely rushed for clinical use lingers.
  • Two studies, one from the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, and the other from the biopharmaceutical company Novartis, have highlighted that CRISPR-Cas9-edited cells might trigger cancer.
  • A third study, published this month in the scientific journal, Nature Biotechnology, and from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, U.K., provided further evidence for the unintended consequences of the CRISPR-Cas9 system.
  • The study found that both the mouse and the human gene edited cells suffered from large DNA deletions far from the intended editing sites.
  • The scientists have argued that the commonly used techniques to screen for off-target effects may not be sufficient to identify the adverse-effects sites and comprehensive genomic analyses of the edited cells, using long-read DNA sequencing technology, may be required to pinpoint those.

P53 protein

  • In the Karolinska study, the authors showed that the CRISPR-Cas9 system induced activation of a protein called P53. This P53 protein acts like a gatekeeper or guardian in the cells to keep them healthy and prevents them (the cells) from turning cancerous.
  • In many cancers, cells lose their ability to repair deleterious genetic changes due to an impaired P53 function. Researchers in the study claim that a functional P53 protein swings into action in the target cell and repairs the edited site rendering the Cas9-mediated editing process ineffective.
  • In cells where editing is adequate, the cell’s P53 protein may be dysfunctional. Therefore, a functional P53 protein is good for the cells to be healthy but makes the Cas9-mediated editing process less effective.
  • On the contrary, a defective P53 protein is ideal for Cas9-mediated editing but makes the cells cancer-prone by introducing genetic changes elsewhere in the genome (outside of the editing sites).
  • Like in the earlier study, the Novartis study found that a high efficiency of the CRISPR-Cas9 system in human pluripotent stem cells (cells that can self-renew indefinitely in cell culture) is linked to the presence of a dysfunctional P53 protein.
  • Pluripotent stem cells usually have very low editing efficiency due to high Cas9 toxicity in those cells.
  • A possible workaround to decrease Cas9 toxicity and, therefore, enhance the editing efficiency by inhibiting P53 function may increase the risk of mutations elsewhere in the genome in those cells.

Way forward

  • The studies, which have showed the dark side of the CRISPR-Cas9 editing system, have, however, not deterred those who think that the system is ready for the clinic.
  • The proponents argue that mice with genome-edited cells developing cancer have not been reported and the cells with adverse studies are not the ones currently in clinical trials.
  • The cautious ones, however, say that it’s only a matter of time that a comprehensive whole-genome sequencing of the edited cells will show the adverse consequences of the CRISPR-Cas9 system.
  • No matter which side wins, it will take years before the CRISPR system is ready for prime time and clinical use.
  • It is no surprise, therefore, that George Church of Harvard University, a CRISPR pioneer himself, chose an older gene editing system TALEN over the CRISPR system to create virus-resistant human cells as the TALENs, although with less cleavage efficiency, have more editing precision.

View from India

  • Although there are no clinical trials or studies to use CRISPR-Cas9 edited cells in the clinic currently undergoing in India, blood-related disorders such as haemophilia, sickle cell anaemia, and Beta-Thalassemia, and other disorders such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy are promising candidates for gene editing.
  • In fact, for many of these diseases, results from the proof-of-concept studies have been published from elsewhere.
  • There are many Indian researchers actively working in this area, and for them, the recent studies provide a cautionary tale to conduct a comprehensive genomic analysis before moving to use the CRISPR-Cas9 edited cells in the clinic.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: GOVERNANCE

1. E-Government Development Index (EGDI)

  • It measures countries use of information and communications technologies to deliver public services.
  • The index captures the scope and quality of online services, status of telecommunication infrastructure and existing human capacity.
  • The UN has been conducting the survey since 2001 to spread digital government throughout the world and to achieve sustainable development goals by 2030.
  • The survey is conducted every 2 years by Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat with the assistance of International Telecommunication Union and Institute for Statistics of UNESCO.
  • It is the only global report that assesses the e­government development status of the 193 UN Member States.

India’s Ranking

  • With an EGDI index score of 0.5669, India is just above the world average of 0.55.
    • The Asian leader in e-government, South Korea, scored 0.9010 (marginally behind world leader Denmark’s 0.9150).
    • India’s score is also shy of Iran (0.6083).
  • Even in the SAARC region, Sri Lanka is ahead of India.
  • India does rank very high in one sub-index. It moved up 12 places in the E-Participation Index (EPI), from 27 in 2016 to 15 in 2018.

E-Participation Index (EPI)

  • the EPI looks at issues like e-information, e-consultation and e-decision making to arrive at a score.
  • India’s high ranking does signify two things:
    • that the government is making more information available online
    • that more people are in a position to access that information, and also electronically participate in policy formation and decision-making.
  • A good example of this was when the government first mooted its ‘smart cities’ initiative, when citizens were able to actively participate with ideas on what kind of initiatives their city should adopt and how these initiatives should be designed and implemented.

World Ranking

  • In a 2018 ranking of countries on e­government development, Denmark has topped with a score of 0.915, followed by Australia, and Republic of Korea
  • Somalia has been in last place with a score of 0.0566.

Significance

  • It serves as a tool for countries to learn from each other, identify areas of strength and challenges in e­government and shape their policies and strategies in this area.
  • It is also aimed at facilitating discussions of intergovernmental bodies, including the United Nations General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, on issues related to e­government and development and to the critical role of ICT in development.
  • The reason the UN compiles this index and urges member countries to focus on e-government initiatives is that there is a clear link between greater e-governance and easier public access to government services and a reduction in poverty and inequality.

Flawed implementation of Schemes in India

  • One of the biggest reasons our poverty alleviation measures have failed to achieve the desired impact (apart from corruption and leakage) is inefficient targeting, and lack of information with the intended beneficiaries about plans and schemes meant to assist them.
  • In areas like public health and land records, the progress has stopped with putting up some downloadable forms online.
    • Many government departments still insist on physical forms and signatures, despite the near universalisation of an identity instrument like Aadhaar, which allows simple and foolproof authentication.
  • So, talk of pushing the cause of e-governance in India, actual progress has been slow.

Conclusion

  • Knowledge is power, but access to knowledge is another kind of power. This is where digital can be a great disruptor.
  • With the India Stack (Aadhaar, UPI, etc. aimed at ensuring presence-less, cashless and paperless service delivery), and the ongoing mobile and broadband revolution, India can become a world leader in e-governance.

F. Tidbits

1. These beautiful strangers now thrive in India

 

  • As many as 471 plant species that are alien or exotic — not native to India — are ‘naturalised,’ for they can thrive in the country’s wildernesses by forming stable populations, says a recent report.
  • This list of naturalised exotic or alien species, ranging from the common guava (Psidium guajava) to prolific invasives such as lantana (Lantana camara), has been compiled in a recent study published in Biological Invasions, an international journal dedicated to the patterns and processes by which organisms invade ecosystems they are not usually found in.

Ecosystem altered

  • Naturalised species reproduce naturally in the environments they colonise.
  • Invasive species do this so prolifically that they alter the workings of the natural ecosystems they colonise or invade.
  • Lantana, for instance, replaces undergrowth and prevents native undershrubs and plants from surviving.

Findings

  • The team also developed the first lists of naturalised plants for each State; these lists reveal that 110 alien plants now naturally occur in more than 31 States in India.
  • At 332, Tamil Nadu has the highest number of naturalised exotics, followed by Kerala (290), while Lakshadweep has the least (17).
  • The distribution across Indian States of over 20 of these naturalised species (in the list of 471) is unknown.
  • A majority of these naturalised plants are herbs such as the invasive Siam weed Chromolaena odorata, native to south and central America.

2. Nearly half of head and neck cancer patients die within a year of diagnosis: doc

 

  • Head and neck (mouth, larynx, throat or nose) cancers account for a large portion of the total number of cancer cases reported in India, and nearly half of the patients with such type of cancers die within a year of diagnosis, said doctors.

Stats

  • India reports 1.75 lakh new cases of head and neck cancers every year — 76% of cases are reported in males and 24% in females.
  • Nearly 70% of head and neck cancers are related to consumption of tobacco, areca nut and alcohol.
  • In India, consumption of chewing tobacco is more prevalent than smoking cigarettes or bidis.
  • Doctors said that nearly 90% of oral and throat cancers are due to tobacco use.
  • Over 13 lakh people are dying in India every year due to tobacco use, which is a major cause of cancer.
  • The cure rates range from 85%-90% in early stages, but drops to 30%-40% in advanced cases.

Concerns

  • Doctors have urged people to stay away from tobacco as it is a major cause of head and neck cancers.
  • India has the dubious distinction of having the largest number of people consuming chewing tobacco in the world.
  • It is a cheap and easily available addiction and its growing consumption in the last two decades has contributed to alarming rise in oral cancer.
  • In India, consumption of chewing tobacco is more prevalent than smoking cigarettes or bidis. Doctors said that nearly 90% of oral and throat cancers are due to tobacco use.
  • Increased consumption of chewing tobacco, gutka and betel nut have led to a rise in cases of mouth cancer.
  • Frequent consumption of alcohol has also raised the risk of developing mouth cancer.
  • A combination of heavy smoking and alcohol consumption can compound the risk.
  • In most cases, delay in seeking medical advice severely reduces the rate of treatment success.
  • Many patients only come for treatment in advanced stages.

Way forward

  • A preventive approach is needed to tackle the problem.
  • The focus of all preventive measures should be on the youth in order to have a healthy society.
  • ‘Pledge for Life’ is a campaign that aims at making all educational institutes tobacco-free so that children do not use tobacco.
  • The most effective treatment for head and neck cancers is surgery, with or without radiotherapy. Head and neck cancers usually do not spread to other parts of the body very early, and surgery is possible in most cases.

3. Formaldehyde in fish

Background

  • It began with the Kerala government finding formaldehyde in fish being transported into the State.
  • The use of this chemical is banned in fresh foods, like fish, by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.
  • But unscrupulous vendors sometimes use it to preserve fish for longer.
  • After Kerala’s findings, other States began investigating.
  • Eventually, Goan officials also found the chemical in fish, as did an investigation in Chennai.
  • The Kerala government has followed up the detection with fish seizures.

Does it occur naturally in fish?

  • Yes, it occurs naturally not only in fish, but other foods like mushrooms as well. However, levels vary widely.
  • A 2005 Italian study of 12 fish species found between 1.45 mg/kg (1 mg/kg is 1 part per million or 1 ppm) in haddock fish, and 293 mg/kg in hake fish.
  • Another study by Chinese researchers on the Bombay Duck found formaldehyde of up to 45 ppm.
  • In general, marine fish are more likely to have the chemical than freshwater fish.
  • This natural phenomenon makes detecting contamination tough.
  • This is why, the CIFT developed a screening kit, which the Kerala government used in its recent findings.
  • This kit exploits the fact that most naturally occurring formaldehyde is bound to fish tissue, while added formaldehyde is free.
  • So, the kit detects only free formaldehyde.
  • Still, the CIFT kit can only tell if the fish has the chemical, and not its levels.
  • And the Kerala, Goa and Tamil Nadu governments have not revealed the levels after further testing, although this data are crucial.

Should you panic?

  • Not yet, because people ingest low levels of formaldehyde regularly; a 1990 study estimated that humans ingest 11 mg a day.
  • While formaldehyde is classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), this refers to the chemical’s cancer-causing potential when it is inhaled, and not when it is ingested.
  • The people at the greatest risk are workers in textile, automotive and other industries, where formaldehyde fumes are often released.
  • Also, when we wash and cook fish, formaldehyde levels drop. Yet, non-carcinogenic effects do pose a danger.
  • But these effects, too, occur at concentrations that are impossible due to natural reasons.
  • There are no estimates for humans, but one rat study showed that when they consumed formaldehyde at 82 mg per kg of body weight every day for two years, they lost weight and their stomach lining changed.

What level of ingestion is safe?

  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has calculated that eating up to 0.2 mg per kg of body weight is safe. Calculating how much formaldehyde one is eating requires knowing one’s fish consumption.
  • In a 2012 Taiwanese study of squid, researchers found up to 45 ppm of free formaldehyde. Food consumption data show that Taiwanese eat 9-15 gm of seafood per day.
  • The researchers calculated that if all the seafood eaten by Taiwanese was squid (an unlikely scenario), they would still not consume more than 0.011 mg/kg of body weight per day. This is lower than the EPA limit.
  • Further, even if all daily protein consumption was squid, the maximum exposure to formaldehyde would still be 0.074 mg/kg/day.

So, is all hunky dory?

  • No, because the State governments have not revealed fish-formaldehyde levels.
  • Even if low-level ingestion is safe, unscrupulous vendors do not calculate safe limits before dousing fish.
  • So, contamination can reach dangerous levels; one Taiwanese squid study found 4250 ppm.
  • It is imperative for the States to monitor fish regularly.

4. India has potential to be the global leader in tiger conservation: expert

 

  • As the world celebrates Global Tiger Day on July 29, there are a number of success stories of tiger conservation that India can boast of.
  • A few months ago, the first successful inter-state translocation of a pair of tigers was carried out from tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh to Satkosia in Odisha.

Stats

  • The Ministry of Environment recently said that 45% of the tiger deaths between 2012 and 2017 could be attributed to unnatural reasons.
  • Of the 45%, 22% of the deaths were due to poaching, 15% due to seizures of body parts and the remaining could be attributed to road and railway accidents.
  • Over the past few years, instances of tigers travelling hundreds of kilometres looking for territory has come to the fore.
  • In 2017, 115 tigers died and in 2016, the number of deaths was 122.
  • The Ministry has admitted that there is a 29% frontline staff vacancy against sanctioned posts in the tiger reserves of the country.

India

  • The results of the ongoing All India Tiger Assessment, 2018, are expected by the end of the year.
  • As per the assessment of the Status of Tigers, Co-predators and Prey (2014), the number of tigers in the country is estimated at 2,226 as compared to the 2010 estimate of 1,706.
  • India being home to 70% of the tiger population in the world can be a global leader in tiger conservation.

Way forward

  • A lot more needs to be done on the conservation front.
  • The tiger is a collective responsibility of all stakeholders and it cannot be left to the forest staff alone.
  • There is a need for surveillance and maintenance of tiger corridors.
  • There is a need for capacity building of the forest staff.

5. Development projects pose threat to habitats

 

  • In a grim reminder of the threats that India’s tigers face, a report released on July 23 lists 399 road, irrigation and railway projects that could impact tiger habitats in eight States comprising the Central India-Eastern Ghats landscape.

The report

  • The report, prepared by the not-for-profit Wildlife Conservation Trust which works with the government on wildlife and forest conservation, banked on information on 1,697 linear development projects that require the diversion of 57,071 hectares of forest land.
  • These projects, proposed in central India and the Eastern Ghats, have been listed on the website of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change since July 2014.
  • Researchers who analysed this information found that 399 of these projects — estimated at ₹1,30,000 crores — will pass through potential tiger corridors in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Rajasthan.
  • Irrigation projects that will cut tiger territory include the Ken-Betwa link project in Madhya Pradesh, while road development proposals include the Nakerrekal to Mallampally portion of NH-365 in Telangana.

Way forward

  • For a majority of these projects (345), agencies that implement the work on ground have denied the requirement of wildlife clearances; and since more than 80% of these projects are still in various stages of clearances, there is an opportunity to suggest corrective measures and incorporate mitigation structures so as to achieve a win-win solution for both development and wildlife.

Issue

  • There is no body to make sure projects comply with the conditions laid down by statutory bodies.

6. Arsenic contamination in paddy is rising in Bengal, says study

 

  • A recent publication by researchers at the School of Environmental Studies (SOES), Jadavpur University, reveals not only rise in arsenic contamination of paddy plants from ground water in West Bengal, but also that concentration of ‘arsenic accumulation’ depends on the variety of paddy and its stage in the crop cycle.

The study

  • The study titled ‘Arsenic accumulation in paddy plants at different phases of pre-monsoon cultivation’ highlights the processes and dependencies of arsenic trans-location in rice from contaminated irrigation water.
  • Samples for the study were taken from the Deganga block in the State’s North 24 Parganas district, an area that’s worst affected by ground water arsenic contamination.
  • The study found that arsenic contamination in paddy was higher than in previous studies.
  • The study shows that arsenic uptake in the paddy plant reduces from root to grain, and that its concentration is related to the variety of the rice cultivated.
  • The study was carried out on two commonly consumed rice varieties — Minikit and Jaya — and the latter was found to be more resistant to arsenic.
  • The uptake of arsenic is faster in young roots in a vegetative state than in older tissues with a higher concentration of iron in root soil in the reproductive phase.
  • The authors have also raised concerns over the disposal of the contaminated rice straw which is used as animal fodder or burnt or sometimes left in the field itself to serve as fertiliser.

7. Companies pick holes in data protection Bill

 

  • An expert panel headed by Justice B.N. Srikrishna has submitted its report on data protection as well as the draft ‘The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018’ after year-long consultations.

Concerns

  • While the draft Bill for protection of personal data of Indian citizens has been welcomed as a positive start, it is not without loopholes, such as the Bill’s broad exceptions for government use of data and data localisation requirements.
  • It has been emphasised that the Bill in its current form should not be introduced in Parliament and further consultations must take place.
  • The recommendations made every offence cognisable and non-bailable, which would create more hurdles for businesses and individuals.
  • Data localisation is bad for business, users and security.
  • This provision is anything but a proxy for enabling surveillance.
  • Mandating localisation of all personal data is likely to become a trade barrier in the key markets.
  • It is not only regressive but against the fundamental tenets of our liberal economy.
  • The requirement that every data fiduciary should store one live, serving copy of personal data in India is against the basic philosophy of the Internet and imposes additional costs on data fiduciaries without a proportional benefit in advancing the cause of data protection.

8. Health care, level one

 

  • It is an exciting time for the Indian health sector and for good reason.
  • One, there is a strong political commitment to, and dynamic leadership in, the health sector at the national level.
  • Two, the government is thinking big even as it is taking a holistic view of the sector.
  • Three, the government is not shying away from taking some tough decisions, whether it is dealing with private players or with professional bodies in the sector.
  • Finally, the government has rolled out several schemes/programmes and has set ambitious targets.

Ayushman Bharat

  • Of all the health programmes, Ayushman Bharat is inarguably the biggest and boldest initiative.
  • It deals with strengthening the primary health-care system particularly in rural areas as well as making the hospital care accessible to the poor by providing financial protection against hospitalisation costs.

Strengthening primary care

  • In a first, the public system of delivering primary care is being redesigned in a major way.
  • The health facilities at the lowest level (health sub-centres), that currently provide only selective care, are being converted to health and wellness centres (HWCs) to provide comprehensive primary care.
  • Under the government’s prototype, each HWC is to be operated by a well-trained, mid-level health provider (nurse practitioner or community health officer) who will be supported by a team of frontline health workers to provide an expanded package of services.
  • The government has set a deadline of converting nearly 1.5 lakh sub-centres to HWCs by 2022.
  • The scheme is not only to be implemented but also co-funded by States so that they have a stake in it; each State is expected to develop its own road map. There is no presumption that the Centre’s prototype is suitable for all contexts.
  • For example, the Kerala government has decided against converting sub-centres into HWCs, given the health-seeking behaviour of its people. Instead, it has decided to provide comprehensive primary care services at the level of primary health centres.

Issues and the Way forward

  • States need to ensure that decisions during this process are made on professional considerations alone.
  • For example, candidates for newly created posts should be selected on merit and not on political considerations.
  • Similarly, decisions on creating new HWCs/primary health centres, or on their relocation, should be based on merit alone.
  • The same logic holds also in the management of primary care facilities, for example to ensure that doctors are not absent from health facilities on flimsy grounds or that there is no misuse of government vehicles/assets.
  • In other words, the management and supervision of the primary care delivery system need to be thoroughly professionalised.
  • The professional management of the primary health system is unlikely to happen within the current organisational structure.
  • As the health sector is a human resource-intensive sector, it could be susceptible to the pulls and pressures of influencers.
  • There is a need to insulate it by de-politicising the delivery system.
  • Further, such an institution needs to be adequately resourced, appropriately incentivised, and held accountable for service delivery performance alone.
  • Such an organisational change will also give greater flexibility to its management in delivery of services.
  • A change in the structure is an important reform that the States need to deal with.
  • Even after this reform, certain decisions such as those relating to budgets and service delivery package will remain in the political realm, which is fine.
  • But once those decisions are made, the delivery system should be managed professionally.

Significance

  • Primary health care in India will increasingly become important not just because of the huge resources it will attract (as committed in the National Health Policy 2017) but also because of its role in containing the rising disease burden.
  • Clearly, it is a high-stake situation and we can’t afford to not get it right.

G. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements:
  1. Ghost dunes are crescent-shaped depressions on the surface of the Red Planet.
  2. They are formed when lava or other sediments seep into the base region of a dune and solidify there.
  3. Ghost dunes indicate life on early Mars.

Which of the above statement(s) is/are incorrect?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 1 and 2
  3. Only 3
  4. None of the above

 

See

Answer
Question 2. Which of the following statements is incorrect with respect to Consultative Status?
  1. The status recognises an NGOs’ special expertise in certain areas of work of the U.N. body.
  2. Consultative status provides NGOs with access to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
  3. There are three types of consultative status: General, Special and Roster.
  4. None of the above

 

See

Answer
Question 3. Which of the following statement/s is/are incorrect regarding the Yellowstone 
super-volcano?
  1. It is a long-dormant complex of volcanoes in the United States that has unique origins and an activation process that is completely different from that typically associated with volcanoes.
  2. The Yellowstone Caldera is a part of the Rocky Mountains and located mostly in Wyoming.
  3. The Yellowstone volcanoes were produced by a gigantic ancient oceanic plate that dove under the western U.S. about 30 million years ago.

Options:

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 1 and 3
  3. Only 2
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
Question 4. Which of the following statement/s is/are correct with respect to the National
Viral Hepatitis Control Programme?
  1. It is aimed at eliminating the deadly condition by 2030.
  2. It was launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in collaboration with the WHO.

Options:

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

 

See

Answer

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Discuss the significance of ethics in civil services and outline the differences between civil services ethics and professional ethics.
     
  2. The basic objective of the Citizens’ Charter is to empower the citizen in relation to public service delivery. Critically analyse.

     

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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