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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Brief – 20th September 2016

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NATIONAL

 

[1]. Only one college in the country gets an A++ in NAAC test

 The Hindu

Context: NAAC has released grading of various educational institutions based on new grading pattern. Only one college St. Joseph’s College, Devagiri, Kozhikode in Kerala among a total of 328 educational institutions in the country has bagged the prestigious A++ grade

What is NAAC?

The NATIONAL ASSESSMENT AND ACCREDITATION COUNCIL (NAAC) is an autonomous body established in 1994 with its headquarters at Bangalore, by the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India.

  • It is an outcome of the recommendations of the National Policy in Education (1986).
  • It was established to assess and accredit institutions of higher education in the countrywith a vision to encourage healthy competition among institutions so that they would strive for excellence

Ratings

1st cycle – 140 institutes have been rated

2nd cycle – 131 institutes were rated

3rd cycle – 57 colleges were rated

Note: When an institution undergoes the accreditation process for the first time it is referred to as Cycle 1 and the consecutive five year periods as Cycles 2, 3, etc

 

GRADING NUMBER OF INSTITUTIONS
A++ 1
A+ 7
A 81
B++ 55
B+ 64
B 87
C 33

Parameters for grading

Assessment and Accreditation is broadly used for understanding the “Quality Status” of an institution based on seven criteria (earlier 4) to serve as the basis of its assessment procedures:

  • Curricular Aspects
  • Teaching-Learning and Evaluation
  • Research, Consultancy and Extension
  • Infrastructure and Learning Resources
  • Student Support and Progression
  • Governance, Leadership and Management
  • Innovations and Best Practices

[2]. Online search engines should check sex determination ads, says court

The Hindu

Context:Supreme Court on 19th September 2016 directed online search engines Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to check pre-natal sex determination advertisements.

SC has directed the companies to develop an in-house method so that the relevant laws.

Background

Supreme Court in July 2016 had pulled up online search engines like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft for failing to check advertisements pertaining to pre-natal sex determination saying they were patently violating Indian law.

Auto-block

Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have agreed to follow the law on sex determination and would not allow any advertisement or “publish any content” violative of the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act.

  • Three companies had developed a technique called “auto block” which prohibited advertisements on sex determination

PCPNDT Act

Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 was enacted to stop female foeticidesand arrest the declining sex ratio in India which deteriorated from 972 in 1901 to 927 in 1991. It banned pre-natal sex determination.

  • The Act was amended in 2003 to improve regulation of technology capable of sex selection and to arrest the decline in the child sex ratio as revealed by the Census 2001.
  • With effect from February 14, 2003, due to the amendments, the Act is known as the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994.

 

The main purpose of enacting the PC & PNDT (prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 has been to

  • Ban the use of sex selection techniques before or after conception
  • Prevent the misuse of pre-natal diagnostic techniques for sex selective abortions
  • Regulate such techniques

 

[3]. One-third of total maternal deaths in 2015 happened in India: Report

The Hindu

Context: The Lancet has published a new series of papers on maternal health revealing that nearly one quarter of babies worldwide are still delivered in the absence of a skilled birth attendant.

The Series titled maternal health shines a light on the causes, trends, and prospects for maternal health in the current era of rapid demographic, epidemiological, and socioeconomic transition.

Guiding massage of the lancet 2016 series – Call to Action: Every woman, every newborn, everywhere has the right to good quality care

Highlights of the report 

 there are two broad scenarios that describe the landscape of poor maternal health care

  • the absence of timely access to quality care (defined as ‘too little, too late’)
  • Lack of evidence-based guidelines
  • Lack of equipment, supplies, and medicines
  • Inadequate numbers of skilled providers
  • Women delivering alone
  • Lack of emergency medical services and delayed inter-facility referrals
  • the over-medicalisation of normal and postnatal care (defined as ‘too much, too soon’’)
  • the Unnecessary caesarean section
  • Routine induced or augmented labour
  • Routine continuous electronic fetal monitoring
  • Routine episiotomy
  • Routine antibiotics postpartum
  •  Main causes of maternal death

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Main causes of maternal deaths

  • Maternal deaths globally have fallen by nearly half (44%) since 1990, and use of maternity services has increased markedly but at the same time the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for maternal health fell far short of achievement.
  • Since 1990, the gap between the group of countries with the highest level of maternal mortality and the group with the lowest has doubled in size.
  • 1/3rd of the total maternal deaths in 2015 happened in India, where 45,000 mothers died during pregnancy or childbirth while maximum number of maternal deaths 58,000 occurred in Nigeria
  • in the U.S., the maternal mortality ratio is 14 per 1,00,000 live births compared to 4 per 1,00,000 in Sweden.
  • The sub-Saharan African region accounted for an estimated 66% (2,01,000) of global maternal deaths, followed by southern Asia at 22% (66,000 deaths)
  • Despite increases in maternity care coverage in the past 25 years, an estimated quarter of pregnant women still do not access skilled care at birth.
  • Nearly one quarter of babies worldwide are still delivered in the absence of a skilled birth attendant
  • many birth facilities lack basic resources such as water, sanitation and electricity.
  • “In all countries, the burden of maternal mortality falls disproportionately on the most vulnerable groups of women.
  • In high-income countries, rates of maternal mortality are decreasing but there is still wide variation at national and international level.
  • The Series concludes with a five-point agenda for change that require immediate attention in order to achieve the SDG global target of a maternal mortality ratio of less than 70 per 1,00,000 live births.
  • good quality care for every woman, every newborn, everywhere;
  • equity through Universal Health Coverage;
  • health system resilience, strength and responsiveness;
  • sustainable financing for maternal and newborn health;
  • better evidence, advocacy, and accountability for progress.

 

[4]. Centre sends BS-V auto emission norms for a ‘six’

 The Hindu

Context: Government notified the Bharat Stage (BS)-VI emission standards for two-wheelers and four-wheelers from April 2020 across the country skipping BS-V norms and moving directly from the BS-IV  to BS-VI norms.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, through a notification on 16th September 2016 has given the Union Petroleum Ministry four years to make BS-VI fuels available to auto companies.

Automobile makers have urged the government to make available the testing BS-VI compliant fuel a year sooner across the country

Background – On 6th january 2016, Union Transport Minister announced that the country will “leap-frog to BS-VI directly from 01/04/2020following the Supreme court’s intervention to implement BS-VI norms earlier than the April 2021 deadline fixed by the Union government

What are BS norms?

Bharat Stage emission standards, introduced in 2000, are emission standards that have been set up the Central government to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles.

The different norms are brought into force in accordance with the timeline and standards set up by the Central Pollution Control Board which comes under the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change.

The Bharat Stage norms are based on European regulations.

At present, BS-IV norms are being followed in over 30 cities while the rest of the country follows BS-III norms. BS-IV norms were supposed to come into effect nationwide from April 2017.

What is BS-VI?

BS-VI is the Indian equivalent of the Euro-VI norms followed globally.

This means lower levels of harmful car and van exhaust emissions like nitrogen oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (THC and NMHC) and particulate matter (PM), which is basically soot. The knock-on effects of reducing these can also mean better fuel economy and lower emissions of CO2.

In particular, it’s older diesel cars that produce higher levels of NOx and particulate matter and these have come under fire from a number of environmental groups.

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[5]. Australia returns stolen sculptures to India

The Hindu

Australia’s prestigious art gallery has returned to India three sculptures

  • A 900-year-old stone statue of Goddess Pratyangira
  • A third century rock carving of worshippers of the Buddha
  • ‘Seated Buddha

Godess pratyangira

  • 12th century sculpture
  • Made up of granite
  • During chola dynasty (9th – 13th century)
  • Tamil nadu

25goddess pratyangira

Rock carving of worshippers of the Buddha

  • 3rd century
  • Made up of lime stone
  • Andhra pradesh

26 Rock carving of worshippers of the Buddha

Seated Buddha

  • 2nd century
  • Made up of sandstone
  • Kushan period (2nd century BCE- 3rd century CE)
  • Mathura Uttar Pradesh

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The Australian government had also returned statue of ‘Dancing Siva’.

Dancing Shiva

  • Chola dynasty
  • bronze sculpture

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[6]. No green marking on veg capsules: drug panel

The Hindu

Context:- Drug Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) has refused the proposal of marking cellulose-based vegetarian capsules with a green dot.

Background

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare sent a representation to DTAB to amend the  Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, in order to make labelling of cellulose-based capsules with a green dot mandatory.

What has happened?

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has sent a proposal to the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB), the highest authority under the Union health ministry on technical matters, to  incorporate a provision under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 for labeling of cellulose based capsules with green dot to indicate its vegetarian origin while the gelatin based capsule will continue to be marketed as such without any additional labeling to distinguish them from normally available capsules which are gelatin based.

  • According to the ministry it will help consumers to be well informed about the origin of the capsule.
  • After detailed deliberations, the DTAB, shot down the proposed amendment to the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
  • DTAB decision is in line with the 2013 Supreme Court decision

What was 2013 decision of Supreme Court?

Earlier in 2013 Supreme Court stated that cosmetics and drugs cannot be treated at par with food articles when it comes to labelling them with a red or a green mark to distinguish the vegetarian and non-vegetarian ingredients.

  • Also, since the food habits in India vary from person to person and place to place, the Supreme Court ruled, it is not practicable and desirable to display identifications about the origin of the non-vegetarian ingredients in the packages of drugs and cosmetics as most of the capsules manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry are based on gelatin which is obtained by boiling the connective tissues, bones and skins of animals, usually cattle and pigs.

 Reason for shot down:-The members (of the board) opined that unlike food, drugs are not taken for choice but are prescribed by the doctors to save lives and marking them as vegetarian or non-vegetarian origin is not desirable.

Some members also pointed out that Hydroxypropyl Methycellulose – a type of cellulose capsules – is basically of synthetic origin and as such cannot be considered as purely of vegetarian origin as in the case of food preparations.

Difference between cellulose based and gelatin based capsules?

There are two different kinds of capsules,

  • Gelatin based capsules
  • Vegetarian based capsules

Despite the fact that both types of capsules look the same there are some drastic differences between them.

  • The most notable difference is what they are each made of when created. Gelatin capsules are made through a process that involves boiling down certain parts of animals such as bovine and pigs.
  • The hoofs, bones, and connective tissue is boiled down until it is a gel like substance, and then allowed to cool and expand in cool water.
  • When the process is finished all that is left is a tasteless, odorless, and colorless substance that can be formed into the gel capsules that are taken every day by consumers.

The alternate to these kinds of capsules are vegetarian capsules. These types of capsules are used by forming cellulose, as opposed to animal parts. Hydroxy propyl methyl cellulose (HPMC), most commonly known as hypromellose, is mainly used in manufacturing of such kind of capsule shell.

 

EDITORIAL

[1]. The road from Bratislava

The Hindu

Context :- European Union leaders met at Bratislava to discuss about Post-BREXIT world.

Germany & European Commission president clearly stated that EU is an existential crisis meaning its existence is in danger.

Who organized the meeting?

Meeting was organized by Donald Tusk, President of the European Council that provides strategic direction to the EU, in order to ‘diagnose’ the situation and to forge a united path forward. This is not going to be easy because the EU itself is split into factions over issues like economics and migration

The Bratislava declaration

It offers a road map for the next six months, on migration, border security, counter-terrorism, defence and economic and social development

  • The declaration identifies various areas for action. Some of these are likely to find wide acceptance, such as funding for strategic investments across the region, establishing a common capital market across the EU and acquiring advanced traveler information to secure borders. Other areas, such as migration, are more contentious.
  • European army: It was proposed that member-states move towards pooling and centralising their defence and diplomatic resources. While there may be advantages with regard to defence procurement and operational efficiency and capabilities, it is exactly this kind of a ‘more Europe’ response to a problem that has left EU member-states and citizens disenchanted and fearful of what they see as EU’s overreach.

What EU should focus upon?

  • Focus on the big picture and on areas where it has a comparative advantage while letting national governments take the lead in others.
  • By encouraging members to engage more rigorously with their citizens on EU issues &explaining policies and their outcomes, collecting feedback, and inviting ideas.

 

[2]. Last Mile banking 

The Hindu

Context:- Author states that instead of resting the objective of financial inclusion solely on state-backed institutions, government should incentivize private players to shoulder the burden.

Banking in Villages

Official data shows that only 27 per cent of villages in India have a bank within a five km radius and the number of those without a basic bank account is still huge.

Author says that

  • Under the Jan Dhan Yojana & other financial inclusion measures, millions of poor have been brought under the financial net through zero balance accounts but points out to the irregularities that bank officials are indulging in to show that such accounts have a balance of Re 1 to Rs 5.
  • Of the over 24 crore accounts under Jan Dhan, the share of private banks was just three per cent. That should prompt the government and the central bank to review the method and playing field for achieving the goal of basic banking and financial services.
  • Government should now try to provide universal access to banking and financial services through other measures and not solely through Banks. Private players, use of key technologies like mobile banking etc need to be utilized

He goes on to illustrate his point by providing an example of an NGO in Bangladesh

 bKash Story

In Bangladesh, millions have been brought into the formal and regulated banking system through bKash Limited, a mobile financial services provider promoted by the Dhaka-based mega NGO, BRAC

What has bKash done?

bKash has used the telecom networks of leading service providers and its own agents spread across the country to enable ordinary people to send and receive funds, including international remittances, through their own mobile phones and personal identification number-protected accounts.

How private players are changing the face of governance?

  • UPI, is a system which powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile app and offers banking features.
  • Private players like ICICI, Axis and HDFC bank have subscribed to the government’s ambitious Bharat Bill Payments, an integrated bill payments system offering multiple modes of paying utility bills such as power, water, telephone and gas.

Banking correspondents should be given higher financial incentive to motivate them to work zealously for ensuring last mile connectivity

Payment Banks are another good option where private players can be roped in to ensure last mile banking access to the poor and the remote populations

Conclusion

The burden of achieving the economic and social and political goal of universal bank accounts should not be solely on state-backed institutions.

 

ECONOMY

[1]. The trickle-down problem in India’s inflation story

 Livemint

 Context:- India’s poor face much higher inflation than the rich due to higher spending on food items
Author tries to ascertain the fact that despite low inflation numbers why trade unions are protesting a price rise. Why there is such a difference in what stats tell and in what is actually happening on the ground?

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  • Not a true indicator: Headline inflation (is a measure of the total inflationwithin an economy, including commodities such as food and energy prices (e.g., oil and gas) ) numbers tell us little about the burden of prices being faced by different segments of the population. This is because consumption baskets vary drastically across different classes.
  • Rich vs Poor: Poorer people spend a larger amount of their earnings on food, while the rich would spend more on things like consumer durables and services. So the poor would be hurt more if prices of items like pulses or vegetables go up, while they would gain little if smartphone or airline tickets prices come down.

Conclusion
The agreement between government of India and RBI to keep inflation under check has been praiseworthy one. However to make sure that the gains of a successful battle against inflation reach the poor as well, the battle would have to be fought on multiple fronts. Agriculture ministry and India’s farms should be the first focus

 

[2]. GST: Centre has not lost power to levy excise duty and service tax

Livemint

Context:- Introduction of GST it seems has given rise to various confusions like whether centre will not be able to levy excise duty and service tax now? Centre has addressed that confusion.
Clarification by centre
Government has clarified that the notification of the provisions of the Constitution amendment Act for the goods and services tax (GST) does not take away the power of the central government to levy excise duty and service tax.
Why the confusion?
Section 17 of the GST Act very clearly limits the power of the central government to levy excise duty on manufacturing with the exception of petroleum products. It is due to this section that confusion arose.

GST (Goods and Services Tax)
GST is a singular tax reform that will remove barriers across states and unite the country into a common market. It will subsume most of the indirect taxes levied by the centre and the states, including excise duty, service tax, VAT, entertainment tax, entry tax and luxury tax.

The government is targeting to roll out GST by 1 April 2017 and is keen to bring all states on board for its speedy and uniform implementation.

 

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