TABLE OF CONTENTS
A.GS1 Related B.GS2 Related INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. India’s share of river water will no more go to Pakistan: Modi 2. Russia moves to fill void left by U.S. withdrawal in north Syria HEALTH 1. Gujarat, Tamil Nadu top performers under PM-JAY health scheme POLITY AND GOVERNANCE 1. Govt. to probe ‘irregularities’ in M.P. Swachh survey C.GS3 Related D.GS4 Related E. Editorials ECONOMY 1. Another grim reminder – On Economic Slowdown 2. For a wider food menu ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY 1. A cost-effective way to power generation F. Tidbits 1. Shutdown in parts of Manipur against 1949 merger with India G. Prelims Fact H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
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Russia has moved to fill the void left by the United States in northern Syria, deploying troops to keep apart advancing Syrian government forces and Turkish troops, underscoring the sudden loss of U.S. influence in the area and illustrating how the power balance in the region has shifted rapidly.
- Turkish and Syrian troops are racing to control large parts of northern Syria that were run by an autonomous Syrian Kurdish regional government until a Turkish-led invasion began October 9, under the protection of U.S. troops stationed in the region.
The issue has been comprehensively covered on 10th October 2019 Comprehensive News Analysis. Click Here to read.
- The announcement that Russian forces were now patrolling an area where the U.S. had maintained two military bases appeared to signal that Moscow was moving to fill a security void left by the withdrawal of both the U.S. military and its partners in an international counterterrorism mission.
- Russia and Turkey will shortly be the only international armies in the area.
- The battle highlights the fluctuating nature of the Turkish incursion, which began after President Donald Trump ordered the evacuation of U.S. troops from the Turkish-Syrian border, opening the door for Turkish troops and their Syrian Arab proxies to enter Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria.
- Abandoned by the Americans, and quickly losing land to the Turkish force, Kurdish authorities sought protection from the Syrian government and its largest backer, Russia.
- Since Kurdish authorities asked the government of President Bashar Assad for assistance, thousands of Syrian troops have flooded into northern Syria for the first time since the government lost control of the region a few years ago.
Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh have emerged as the top-performing States under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY),
- Free secondary and tertiary treatment worth nearly Rs.7,901 crore has been availed under the flagship health assurance scheme of the Government in just over a year, across 32 States and Union Territories.
- The scheme has crossed the 50-lakh treatment mark.
- More than 60% of the amount spent has been on tertiary care.
- Cardiology, Orthopaedics, Radiation Oncology, Cardio-thoracic and Vascular Surgery, and Urology have emerged as the top tertiary specialities.
- Data suggests that there were 9 hospital admissions every minute across India in the first year.
Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY):
- Launched in September 2018, the Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) scheme remains one of India’s most ambitious health schemes ever.
- It was launched as recommended by the National Health Policy 2017, to achieve the vision of Universal Health Coverage.
- It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme having central sector component under Ayushman Bharat Mission anchored in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
- It is an umbrella of two major health initiatives, namely Health and wellness Centres and National Health Protection Scheme.
- 5 lakh existing sub-centers will bring health care system closer to the homes of people in the form of Health and wellness centres. These centres will provide comprehensive health care, including for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services.
- The government aims to provide a health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh to 500 million Indians free of cost. This includes families from lower-income groups that fall under the socio-economic caste census (SECC) data of 2011.
- States can implement PMJAY either through the insurance route or the trust route or both.
- The states implementing the scheme through the insurance mode select the insurance companies through an open tender process.
- The states implementing the scheme through the trust mode may engage Third-Party Administrators (TPAs) and Implement Support Agencies (ISAs) through an open tender process for implementing the scheme.
According to the National Health Authority (NHA), the scheme will continue to focus on reducing catastrophic out-of-pocket health expenditure, improving access to quality health care and meeting the unmet need of the population for hospitalisation care, so that India can move towards the vision of Universal Health Coverage.
The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has initiated an inquiry into alleged irregularities during the Swachh Survekshan 2019 for Madhya Pradesh — declared the best in solid waste management, and boasting eight cities in the top 25, the most for any State.
- The inquiry is based on a complaint filed by a Gwalior resident with the Prime Minister’s Office in September which alleges:
- Fudging of data by urban local bodies (ULBs)
- Overestimation of performance during field surveys by third-party assessors
- Arbitrary award of ranks despite similar declarations by ULBs
- Conflict of interest with regard to the role of the Quality Council of India (QCI).
- Though Gwalior, Singrauli and Pithampur had applied for just an open defecation-free (ODF) + certification, the latter two secured an ODF++ tag. This is despite their application and advertisement for just an ODF+ tag in newspapers, according to the complaint.
- The ODF++ tag, the highest category, is accorded to a ULB if not a single person defecates/urinates in the open, all public toilets are functional and faecal sludge and sewage is treated there.
- A third-party agency carries out observations at randomised sampled locations to verify claims.
- It is said that the third-party agencies didn’t accurately represent the true picture and overestimated some ULBs.
- The survey, whose results were declared in March, was undertaken in four parts worth 1,250 marks each.
Read more about Swachh Survekshan. Click Here
C. GS3 Related
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D. GS4 Related
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The World Bank International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual meetings kicked off on a sombre note, with the IMF downgrading global growth in 2019 to 3%, the slowest since the financial crisis.
- This is a serious climb-down from 3.8% in 2017.
- World output is projected to increase to a modest 3.4% in 2020 — still lower by 0.2% than the April projection.
- Unlike the slowdown, this recovery is expected to be “uncertain” and “not broad based” as per the IMF.
What are the reasons for the global economic slowdown?
According to IMF, as per the World Economic Outlook (WEO) report, 2019 — Global Manufacturing Downturn, Rising Trade Barriers, following are the causes of a “synchronised slowdown”:
- Rising trade barriers
- Heightened uncertainty around trade and geopolitics
- Idiosyncratic factors straining emerging markets
- Structural factors, such as an ageing population in advanced economies, were the causes of a “synchronised slowdown”, the IMF said in its 2019 World Economic Outlook (WEO) report — Global Manufacturing Downturn, Rising Trade Barriers.
The report calls for defusing trade tensions, reinvigorating multilateral cooperation and providing timely support to economic activity where needed.
India’s Growth Projections:
- While the IMF cut its July projection for real GDP growth by a substantial 0.9 percentage point to 6.1%, the bank slashed the estimate by as much as 1.5 percentage points to 6%.
- These magnitudes of reduction underscore the severity of the ongoing slowdown and affirm the confusion of grim data and predictions from other forecasters, both global and domestic.
What are the concerns?
- In the case of India, there has been a negative impact on growth that’s come from financial vulnerabilities in the non-bank financial sector and the impact that’s had on consumer borrowing and borrowing of small and medium enterprises.
- The projected growth in India’s case will be supported by lagged effects of monetary policy easing, cuts to corporate tax, measures to address environmental and corporate uncertainty, and government programs to boost rural consumption, as per the WEO.
- Asserting that the weak financial sector is becoming a drag on momentum, with the country’s banks yet to regain vigour from the depressing burden of bad loans, the World Bank warned that non-banking financial companies’ significant share in total credit and their linkages with banks pose broad-based contagion risks.
- Observing that a sharper-than-expected slowdown in major economies such as the U.S. and Eurozone could have severe spillover impacts, the bank noted that India was vulnerable to being affected immediately and over a longer duration by real GDP shocks in these advanced economies.
- In the case of a Chinese GDP shock, the onset of the impact on India would likely be delayed but substantially more pronounced.
What is the way ahead for India?
- First of all, there has to be an accurate diagnosis. The importance of an accurate diagnosis cannot be overemphasised since policy interventions to address the serious problem must be targeted appropriately to ensure enduring outcomes.
- World Bank suggests that the financial sector reforms is the need of the hour, as it would not only help resolve the sectoral infirmities but would also help put India back on a rapid growth path.
- While the IMF has urged structural reforms in labour and land laws to boost job and infrastructure creation, popular opinion is that becalmed domestic consumption demand is the biggest drag on momentum. India must, therefore, heed to Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee’s prescription and put more money in the hands of consumers, especially those in the rural hinterland, to reinvigorate demand.