Daily Current Affairs, 1st August 2018
Topic: Issues related to health.
Common service centres to implement Ayushman Bharat
What to study?
- For Prelims: What are CSCs, Key features of Ayushman Bharat.
- For Mains: Significance of CSCs and how they help in empowerment of citizens, significance of Ayushman Bharat.
Context: Common Service Center (CSC) and National Health Accounts (NHA) have signed a memorandum of understand to implement the Ayushman Bharat scheme through three-lakh CSCs across the country.
As per the MoU:
- A beneficiary can now visit the nearby CSC to get the benefit of this scheme and CSC will help the beneficiary to identify his name in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare database and his entitlement for the scheme.
- The CSCs will help the beneficiary to scan/ upload his KYC documents for verification of his/ her identity and claim his/ her entitlement.
- The beneficiary will also have facility to print his/ her Ayushman Scheme card through the centre which will be his/ her base source claim. CSCs will also provide requisite information about the scheme and promote the same.
Ayushman Bharat is the National Health Protection Scheme, which will cover over 10 crore poor vulnerable families (around 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage of up to ₹5 lakh (per family per year) for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.
It will subsume the on-going centrally sponsored schemes –Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) and the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS).
Highlights of the scheme:
Coverage: The scheme has the benefit cover of Rs. 5 lakh per family per year. To ensure that nobody is left out (especially women, children and elderly) there will be no cap on family size and age in the scheme. The benefit cover will also include pre and post-hospitalisation expenses.
Target: The target beneficiaries of the proposed scheme will be more than 10 crore families belonging to poor and vulnerable population based on SECC database. Benefits of the scheme are portable across the country and a beneficiary covered under the scheme will be allowed to take cashless benefits from any public/private empanelled hospitals across the country.
Role of state governments: State Governments will be allowed to expand AB-NHPM both horizontally and vertically. States will be free to choose the modalities for implementation. They can implement through insurance company or directly through Trust/ Society or a mixed model.
Council: For giving policy directions and fostering coordination between Centre and States, it is proposed to set up Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission Council (AB-NHPMC) at apex level Chaired by Union Health and Family Welfare Minister.
Who is eligible?
It will be an entitlement based scheme with entitlement decided on the basis of deprivation criteria in the SECC database.
- The different categories in rural area include families having only one room with kucha walls and kucharoof; families having no adult member between age 16 to 59; female headed households with no adult male member between age 16 to 59; disabled member and no able bodied adult member in the family; SC/ST households; and landless households deriving major part of their income from manual casual labour.
- Also, automatically included families in rural areas having any one of the following: households without shelter, destitute, living on alms, manual scavenger families, primitive tribal groups, legally released bonded labour. For urban areas, 11 defined occupational categories are entitled under the scheme.
What are CSCs?
Common Services Centers (CSCs) are a strategic cornerstone of the Digital India programme. They are the access points for delivery of various electronic services to villages in India, thereby contributing to a digitally and financially inclusive society.
CSCs enable the three vision areas of the Digital India programme:
- Digital infrastructure as a core utility to every citizen.
- Governance and services on demand.
- Digital empowerment of citizens.
Significance of CSCs:
CSCs are more than service delivery points in rural India. They are positioned as change agents, promoting rural entrepreneurship and building rural capacities and livelihoods. They are enablers of community participation and collective action for engendering social change through a bottom-up approach with key focus on the rural citizen.
- The CSC project, which forms a strategic component of the National eGovernance Plan was approved by the Government in May 2006, as part of its commitment in the National Common Minimum Programme to introduce e-governance on a massive scale.
- It is also one of the approved projects under the Integrated Mission Mode Projects of the National eGovernance Plan.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill 2018
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Highlights of the Bill.
Context: Lok Sabha has passed the Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill 2018. It seeks to replace the Central Council of Homoeopathy (CCH) with a board of governors and is aimed at bringing accountability and quality in homeopathy education system.
Key features of the Bill:
Supersession of the Central Council: It amends the 1973 Act to provide for the supersession of the Central Council with effect from May 18, 2018. The Central Council will be reconstituted within one year from the date of its supersession. In the interim period, the central government will constitute a Board of Governors, which will exercise the powers of the Central Council.
The Board of Governors will consist of up to seven members including: (i) persons of eminence in the field of homoeopathy education, and (ii) eminent administrators, appointed by the central government. The central government will select one of these members as the Chairperson of the Board. With regard to policy decisions, the directions of the central government will be final.
Permission for existing homoeopathy colleges: It states that: (i) if any person has established a homoeopathy medical college, or (ii) if an established homoeopathy medical college has opened new courses or increased its admission capacity before the Ordinance was promulgated, it will have to seek permission from the central government within one year. If the person or homoeopathy medical college fails to seek such permission, then any medical qualification granted to a student from such medical college will not be recognised under the Act.
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
US gives India Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 status
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 status- what does it mean and how is it helpful for India?
Context: The US has given India Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 status.
What is Strategic Trade Authorisation (STA)?
STA allows for license exception with regards to exports from the US. This type of US government authorisation allows a certain item to be exported under defined conditions without a transaction-specific license.
Items eligible for export to STA-1 nations include those under control for national security, chemical or biological weapons, nuclear non-proliferation, regional stability, crime control.
The categories also include electronics, lasers and sensors, information security, computers and electronics, navigation, telecommunications, aerospace, etc.
Significance of this move:
- The move means that India can get easy access to latest defence technologies, with the reduction of the number of licenses needed for exports from the US.
- It is also a boost for the foundational Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA).
- STA-1 provides India with greater supply chain efficiency, both for defence, and for other high-tech products.
- The status eases export controls for high technology product sales to India, granting it the same access as NATO allies — Australia, Japan and South Korea.
India and the United States share an interest in countering China’s expanding economic and military weight and the United States has emerged as a top arms supplier to India, selling more than $15 billion of weapons over the past decade as New Delhi modernizes its Soviet-era military.
Looking at current exports from the US to India, 50% of those are eligible now under STA-1. This can free up $2.1 billion in trade, make US exporters more competitive in the global marketplace, help provide India more advanced US technology.
Facts for Prelims:
India is the only South Asian nation on the STA-1 list that has 36 countries. Other Asian countries designated as STA-1 are Japan and South Korea. Till recently, India was classified as an STA-2 country along with seven others.
Topic: Energy and prevention of pollution related topics.
Rajasthan first State to implement biofuel policy
What to study?
- For Prelims: Rajasthan Biofuel Policy- key features, classification of biofuels.
- For Mains: Biofuels- significance, policies for their promotion and challenges therein.
Context: Rajasthan has become the first State in the country to implement the national policy on biofuelsunveiled by the Centre in May this year.
The policy lays emphasis on increasing production of oilseeds and establish a Centre for Excellence in Udaipur to promote research in the fields of alternative fuels and energy resources.
National Policy on biofuels- salient features:
Categorization: The Policy categorises biofuels as “Basic Biofuels” viz. First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel and “Advanced Biofuels” – Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.
Scope of raw materials: The Policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of Sugarcane Juice, Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet, Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn, Cassava, Damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, Rotten Potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.
Protection to farmers: Farmers are at a risk of not getting appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase. Taking this into account, the Policy allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol with the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee.
Viability gap funding: With a thrust on Advanced Biofuels, the Policy indicates a viability gap funding scheme for 2G ethanol Bio refineries of Rs.5000 crore in 6 years in addition to additional tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels.
Boost to biodiesel production: The Policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, Used Cooking Oil, short gestation crops.
Import dependency: The policy aims at reducing import dependency.
Cleaner environment: By reducing crop burning & conversion of agricultural residues/wastes to biofuels there will be further reduction in Green House Gas emissions.
Health benefits: Prolonged reuse of Cooking Oil for preparing food, particularly in deep-frying is a potential health hazard and can lead to many diseases. Used Cooking Oil is a potential feedstock for biodiesel and its use for making biodiesel will prevent diversion of used cooking oil in the food industry.
Employment Generation: One 100klpd 2G bio refinery can contribute 1200 jobs in Plant Operations, Village Level Entrepreneurs and Supply Chain Management.
Additional Income to Farmers: By adopting 2G technologies, agricultural residues/waste which otherwise are burnt by the farmers can be converted to ethanol and can fetch a price for these waste if a market is developed for the same.
Significance of Biofuels:
Globally, biofuels have caught the attention in last decade and it is imperative to keep up with the pace of developments in the field of biofuels. Biofuels in India are of strategic importance as it augers well with the ongoing initiatives of the Government such as Make in India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill Development and offers great opportunity to integrate with the ambitious targets of doubling of Farmers Income, Import Reduction, Employment Generation, Waste to Wealth Creation.
Classification of Biofuels:
1st generation biofuels are also called conventional biofuels. They are made from things like sugar, starch, or vegetable oil. Note that these are all food products. Any biofuel made from a feedstock that can also be consumed as a human food is considered a first generation biofuel.
2nd generation biofuels are produced from sustainable feedstock. The sustainability of a feedstock is defined by its availability, its impact on greenhouse gas emissions, its impact on land use, and by its potential to threaten the food supply. No second generation biofuel is also a food crop, though certain food products can become second generation fuels when they are no longer useful for consumption. Second generation biofuels are often called “advanced biofuels.”
3rd generation biofuels are biofuel derived from algae. These biofuels are given their own separate class because of their unique production mechanism and their potential to mitigate most of the drawbacks of 1st and 2nd generation biofuels.
Topic: Awareness in space.
Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)
What to study?
- For Prelims: TESS- key features.
- For Mains: Scientific objectives and significance of the mission.
Context: TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) has officially started its science operations. Its first observations will be transmitted back to Earth at some point in August, after which it will continue to send in new information for the next two years, at least.
TESS was launched on April 18th with the help of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket which sent the satellite into an elliptical orbit around Earth.
About TESS mission:
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is a NASA mission that will look for planets orbiting the brightest stars in Earth’s sky. It was led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with seed funding from Google.
Mission: The mission will monitor at least 200,000 stars for signs of exoplanets, ranging from Earth-sized rocky worlds to huge gas giant planets. TESS, however, will focus on stars that are 30 to 100 times brighter than those Kepler examined. This will help astronomers better understand the structure of solar systems outside of our Earth, and provide insights into how our own solar system formed.
Orbit: TESS will occupy a never-before-used orbit high above Earth. The elliptical orbit, called P/2, is exactly half of the moon’s orbital period; this means that TESS will orbit Earth every 13.7 days. Its closest point to Earth (67,000 miles or 108,000 kilometers) is about triple the distance of geosynchronous orbit, where most communications satellites operate.
How it works? It will use transit method to detect exoplanets. It watches distant stars for small dips in brightness, which can indicate that planet has passed in front of them. Repeated dips will indicate planet passing in front of its star. This data has to be validated by repeated observations and verified by scientists.
Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology.
Scutoid: a new shape discovered
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Scutoid and its features, significance of the discovery.
Context: Scientists have identified a new shape called the scutoid while studying epithelial cells.
What is Scutoid?
A scutoid is a solid geometric shape, like a cube or a pyramid, which had not been described until now. The epithelial cells adopt this form when the tissue curves, giving it a more stable structure. It could be said that they look like ‘twisted prisms’.
These new and beautiful shapes are the solution that nature has found to fold and curve the epithelia, which lines the outer surfaces of organs.
What are epithelial cells?
The epithelial cells are the construction blocks with which an organism is formed. They are like ‘pieces of Tente or Lego from which animals are made.
- The epithelial cells form structures with multiple functions like forming a barrier against infections or absorbing nutrients.
- During the development of an embryo, it changes from a simple structure formed from only a handful of cells to an animal with very complex organs. This process doesn’t only occur because of the growth of the organism, but also because the epithelial cells start ‘moving and joining together’ to organise themselves correctly and give the organs their final shape.
Significance of the discovery:
This study opens the door to understanding how organs are formed during their development and what might be missing in some diseases in which this process is altered.