May 2018
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IIT-Roorkee scientists develop app to monitor patients at risk of heart failure

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Name of the app and its working

Mains level: India has about 10 million patients at risk of heart failure. These kinds of innovations are very much needed.


News

Mobile app for monitoring Heart Failure

  1. IIT Roorkee have developed a mobile app that can remotely monitor patients at risk of heart failure and provide them with medical assistance
  2. Name of the app: ‘Dhadkan’ 

Particulars of the app

  1. It can automatically send notifications to both the doctor and the patient, in case of any drastic changes in patient’s data indicating possibility of imminent heart failure
  2. The mobile app has been designed to be ‘easy-to-use’ so that people in rural areas can also benefit
  3. The app also provides for two-way communication between doctors and patient
  4. In addition, patients have the freedom to send ECG reports to the doctor if needed

Working

  1. It collects patient’s data (at any desired interval) on blood pressure, heart rate, and weight, and transmits it to the authorized caregiver (a doctor, nurse or paramedic) who is linked to the patient during the initial registration
Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

[op-ed snap] Power drive: Getting affordable electricity to every household needs sustained policy support

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The anomalies and the possible solution discussed in the newscard.


News

Context

  1. When PM recently announced that all inhabited villages now enjoy electrification, it signalled a significant milestone in the country’s development
  2. Yet, statistics conceal severe disparities

Importance of access to electricity

  1. It drives the productivity of households, empowers women and enables education and communication

Some anomalies
(1) The actual number of households in villages that have power connections

  1. The existing definition to declare a village electrified is coverage of a mere 10% of households and common facilities such as schools, panchayats and health centres
  2. Rural household electrification has a wide range across States, from 47% to 100%

(2) The number of hours they get reliable power

  1. The average hours of power supplied in a day to rural areas in January 2018 ranged from 11.5 in Mizoram, 14.91 in Haryana and 17.72 in Uttar Pradesh to 24 hours in Kerala, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu

(3) The per capita power that rural and urban Indians consume

  1. The per capita consumption between rural and fast-rising urban India also represents a challenge, since there is a divergence between the two

Consequences of these anomalies

  1. These anomalies are often the result of infrastructure deficits and administrative inefficiency
  2. They also show that(even with supportive Central schemes) the Power for All 24×7 goal adopted by States and Union Territories with a deadline of April 1, 2019 is far from realistic.

Is the renewable sources of energy a ready solution for rural India?

  1. To many, the falling cost of renewable, decentralised sources such as solar photovoltaics represents a ready solution for rural India
  2. Yet, the evidence from States such as Maharashtra damage and lack of technical capacity can pose serious hurdles
    Possible solution
  3. The answer may lie in a hybrid solution that ensures continued scaling up of both grid-connected and standalone solar systems in appropriate areas
Rural Infrastructure Schemes

Armies of India, Malaysia start their first-ever bilateral exercise

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Location of the exercise

Mains level: It is the first-ever exercise between the two armies.


News

‘Exercise Harimau Shakti 2018’

  1. The troops of the Indian and Malaysian armies has recently kickstarted ‘Exercise Harimau Shakti 2018’ in Kaula Lumpur
  2. This is the first-ever joint Army exercise between the armies of India and Malaysia
  3. The joint exercise ‘Harimau Shakti’ will take place in the dense forests of Sengai Perdik in Hulu Langat district of Malaysia

Aim of the exercise

  1. The exercise is aimed at bolstering cooperation and coordination between the armed forces of both the nations and to share the expertise of both the contingents in conduct of counter-insurgency operations in jungle terrain
  2. According to the joint statement, due emphasis will be laid on increasing interoperability between forces which is crucial for success of any joint operation

Govt. launches Pilot scheme Procurement of Aggregate Power of 2500 MW for three years

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nodal agency

Mains level: Expectations from the pilot scheme.


News

Pilot Scheme for Procurement of Power

  1. The Government has kicked off a Pilot Scheme for Procurement of Aggregate Power of 2500 MW on competitive basis for 3 years under medium term
  2. i.e. from generators with commissioned projects but without Power Purchase Agreement
  3. The Ministry of Power had recently issued the model bid documents on 6th April, 2018
  4. The Guidelines for the said scheme were issued on 10th April, 2018
  5. Under the scheme a single entity can be allotted maximum capacity of 600 MW
  6. The Tariff will be fixed for three years without any escalation

Nodal agency for the pilot scheme

  1. PFC Consulting Limited (A wholly owned subsidiary of PFC Ltd) has been appointed as Nodal Agency and PTC India Limited as the Aggregator

Expectations from the scheme

  1. This scheme is expected to revive the power demand which has affected the generators not having Power Purchase Agreements
Policy Wise: India’s Power Sector

[op-ed snap] Six ways on how to improve Sino-Indian ties, post-Wuhan

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The Challenges and difficulties(for improving relationship between the two countries) discussed in the newscard.


News

Is the recent Wuhan summit between Indian PM and Chinese President a success?

  1. The outcome of this kind of a summit can only be determined not through the communiques and words, but action taken on the ground
  2. Many things are not visible right now and will unfold on the ground in the coming months and years
  3. At this point, we can say that the principal achievement of the meeting is to put the strategic communications between the two countries on a new track
  4. The Wuhan summit has inaugurated a new era of diplomacy where the top leaders of India and China meet more frequently and find time to take up issues in much greater detail

Other positive outcomes of the summit

  1. The Wuhan summit signals that they do not want to clash against each other through misunderstanding and miscalculation
  2. At the same time they would not like to have their bilateral relationship be mediated by third countries like the US
  3. And neither would they like to have their relations with other countries(like the US or Pakistan) negatively impact on their own interaction

Confusion: On Chinese Commitments

  1. By assuring China that India will not militarily intervene in Maldives and refusing to have the Australians at the Malabar naval exercises, India has front-loaded some of its commitments
  2. Just what the Chinese have committed themselves to is not clear

The difficulties and challenges that the two sides confront lie in several important areas
First: the disputed border

  1. Unless the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is clarified, it is difficult not to have periodic incidents like in Depsang in 2014 and Chumar in 2015
  2. Also, there is no point in asking the Special Representatives designated to discuss the border issue, to intensify their work
  3. What is needed is action by the respective leaderships of China and India

Second: Need of peace keeping mechanisms

  1. Both sides need to urgently revitalise their peace keeping mechanisms on the border

Third: India and China need to resolve their problems on the economic front

  1. An immediate area of attention is in that of the trade balance which is heavily skewed against India
  2. But many Indian products like pharmaceuticals, Information Technology products and non-basmati rice are blocked from the Chinese market
  3. China needs to open up its markets to Indian goods

Fourth: Terrorism emanating from Pakistan

  1. As a friend of Pakistan and an important military partner, India feels that China should do more to restrain Pakistan

Fifth: Need of a diplomatic mechanism to discuss regional issues

  1. Both sides must have a diplomatic mechanism through which they can discuss regional issues like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka
  2. Building on the idea of a joint project in Afghanistan, the two sides should explore joint third-country projects in some of these countries

Sixth: Implementation of ideas at the lower level

  1. There is need for the top leaderships to sensitise lower level officials and military personnel as to what they are trying to achieve
  2. Unless the lower level officials implement the ideas, the high level meeting will be of no value
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

India’s curbs on import of pulses: US, Australia, EU raise concerns at WTO

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: World Trade Organization (WTO), quantitative restrictions

Mains level: India’s status as importer/exporter and effects of its decisions on domestic as well as global economy


News

Opposing India’s move to curb imports

  1. Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) including the US, Canada, Australia, European Union and Japan have raised concern over India’s quantitative restrictions on the import of pulses
  2. India capped imports of green gram (moong), black matpe (urad) and pigeon peas (arhar) in August in the wake of domestic harvest and concerns over the slump in prices of traditional pulses
  3. India’s decisions in November to raise import duties on pulses by up to 50% and put stringent fumigation requirements have also irked pulse exporting countries

Allegations on India

  1. Quantitative restrictions by India on the import of pulses distort global prices and put the future of farmers across many countries in peril
  2. This is because India has been the largest producer, as well as traditionally the largest importer of pulses to ensure a steady supply of the protein-rich diet to its citizens

WTO provisions

  1. WTO mandates elimination of quantitative restrictions covering all import- and export-related measures
  2. Exceptions are allowed under specific circumstances such as to:
  • safeguard the balance of payments
  • to protect an industry at an early stage of development or
  • to prevent sudden increases in imports
WTO and India

[pib] Pradhan Mantri Vaya VandanYojana (PMVVY)

News :

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for extending the investment limit from Rs 7.5 lakhs to Rs 15 lakhs as well as extension of time limits for subscription from 4thMay 2018 to 31stMarch, 2020 under
  • Further, as a boost to the Social Security initiatives for senior citizens, the investment limit of Rs 7.5 lakh per family in the existing scheme is enhanced to Rs 15 lakh per senior citizen in the modified PMVVY, thereby providing a larger social security cover to the Senior citizens.  It will enable upto Rs.10000 Pension per month for Senior Citizens.
  • As of March, 2018, a total number of 2.23 lakh senior citizens are being benefited under PMVVY.

Background

  • The PMVVY is being implemented through Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) to provide social security during old age and protect elderly persons aged 60 years and above against a future fall in their interest income due to uncertain market conditions.
  • The scheme provides an assured pension based on a guaranteed rate of return of 8% per annum for ten years, with an option to opt for pension on a monthly / quarterly / half yearly and annual basis.
  • The differential return, i.e. the difference between the return generated by LIC and the assured return of 8% per annum would be borne by Government of India as subsidy on an annual basis.

 

[pib] Indian Petroleum & Explosives Safety Service (IPESS)

News :

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the Cadre review and formation of Group ‘A’ service of the technical cadre of Petroleum & Safety Organization (PESO) in the name of Indian Petroleum & Explosives Safety Service (IPESS).
  • The measure will enhance the capacity and efficiency of the organization and it will also enhance career progression of its Group ‘A’ officers.

Background

  • PESO is a subordinate office under Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP).
  • The organization is serving the nation since 1898 as a nodal agency for regulating safety of substances such as explosives, compressed gases and petroleum.
  • Over the years, the role and responsibilities of PESO have increased manifold and expanded into diverse fields. 
  • Today, the organization deals with wide range of subjects related to explosives, petroleum, compressed gases, pressure vessels, gas cylinders, cross-country pipelines, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Auto Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Auto LPG) etc.

Govt to table DNA Profiling Bill in Monsoon session

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Parliament & State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges & issues arising out of these

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: DNA profiling Bill, mandamus (Read about various writs that can be issued by the judiciary)

Mains level: Privacy concerns and the ethics involved in DNA profiling


News

DNA profiling Bill

  1. The government has informed the Supreme Court that it will introduce a DNA profiling Bill in the Monsoon Session of the Parliament
  2. The government was responding to a PIL in 2012 on the use of DNA profiling for identifying unclaimed bodies, especially to match them with cold cases of missing persons
  3. The court said that with the competent authority undertaking to bring about a legislation there was no need for a mandamus from the Supreme Court in this issue

Law Commission report

  1. The Law Commission of India in its 271st report had prepared the draft Bill named The DNA Based Technology (Use and Regulation) Bill, 2017 after examining various judicial pronouncements and constitutional provisions
  2. The exercise was initiated by the Commission after the Department of Biotechnology forwarded its draft of ‘The Use and Regulation of DNA based Technology in Civil and Criminal Proceedings, Identification of Missing Persons and Human Remains Bill, 2016’

Recommendations of Law Commission

  1. The Commission recorded that DNA profiling was indeed used for disaster victim identification, investigation of crimes, identification of missing persons and human remains and for medical research purposes
  2. The Commission said the procedure for DNA profiling if given statutory recognition, should be done legitimately as per constitutional provisions
  3. The Bill provides for the setting up of a statutory DNA Profiling Board to spell out procedures and standards to establish DNA laboratories and grant of accreditation to these labs
  4. The Board should also be tasked with advising the Centre and the State governments on the operation of these labs and ethical/human rights issues relating to DNA testing in consonance with international standards
  5. The Board should also have the responsibility to supervise, monitor, inspect and assess the laboratories
Right To Privacy

[pib] Krishonnati Yojana

News:

Related Ministry/Department: Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for the Umbrella Scheme, “Green Revolution – Krishonnati Yojana” in agriculture sector beyond 12thFive Year Plan for the period from 2017-18 to 2019-20.
  • The Umbrella scheme comprises of 11 Schemes/Missions.
  • These schemes look to develop the agriculture and allied sector in a holistic and scientific manner to increase the income of farmers by enhancing production, productivity and better returns on produce.
  • The Schemes will be continued with an expenditure of Rs.33,269.976 crore for three financial years, i.e., 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20.

The Schemes that are part of the Umbrella Schemes are:-

Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH):

  • To promote holistic growth of horticulture sector
  • To enhance horticulture production
  • Improve nutritional security and income support to farm Households

National Food Security Mission (NFSM), including National Mission on Oil Seeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP):

  • To increase production of rice, wheat, pulses, coarse cereals and commercial crops, through area expansion and productivity enhancement in a suitable manner in the identified districts of the country
  • Restoring soil fertility and productivity at the individual farm level and enhancing farm level economy
  • Augment the availability of vegetable oils and to reduce the import of edible oils.

National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA): Promoting sustainable agriculture practices best suitable to the specific agro-ecology focusing on integrated farming, appropriate soil health management and synergizing resource conservation technology.

Submission on Agriculture Extension (SAME):

  • To strengthen the ongoing extension mechanism of State Governments, local bodies etc., achieving food and nutritional security and socio-economic empowerment of farmers
  • To institutionalize programme planning and implementation mechanism
  • To forge effective linkages and synergy amongst various stake-holders
  • To support HRD interventions
  • To promote pervasive and innovative use of electronic / print media, inter-personal communication and ICT tools, etc.

Sub-Mission on Seeds and Planting Material (SMSP):

  • To increase production of certified / quality seeds
  • To increase SRR
  • To upgrade the quality of farm saved seeds
  • To strengthen the seed multiplication chain
  • To promote new technologies and methodologies in seed production, processing, testing etc.,
  • To strengthen and modernizing infrastructure for seed production, storage, certification and quality etc.

Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanisation (SMAM)

  • To increase the reach of farm mechanization to small and marginal farmers and to the regions where availability of farm power is low
  • To promote ‘Custom Hiring Centres’ to offset the adverse economies of scale arising due to small landholding and high cost of individual ownership
  • To create hubs for hi-tech and high value farm equipment
  • To create awareness among stakeholders through demonstration and capacity building activities
  • To ensure performance testing and certification at designated testing centres located all over the country.

Sub Mission on Plant Protection and Plan Quarantine (SMPPQ)

  • To minimize loss to quality and yield of agricultural crops from the ravages of insect pests, diseases, weeds, nematodes, rodents, etc. and to shield our agricultural bio-security from the incursions and spread of alien species
  • To facilitate exports of Indian agricultural commodities to global markets
  • To promote good agricultural practices, particularly with respect to plant protection strategies and strategies.

Integrated Scheme on Agriculture Census, Economics and Statistics (ISACES)

  • To undertake the agriculture census, study of the cost of cultivation of principal crops
  • To undertake research studies on agro-economic problems of the country
  • To fund conferences/workshops and seminars involving eminent economists, agricultural scientists, experts and to bring out papers to conduct short term studies
  • To improve agricultural statistics methodology and to create a hierarchical information system on crop condition and crop production from sowing to harvest.

Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Cooperation (ISAC)

  • To provide financial assistance for improving the economic conditions of cooperatives, remove regional imbalances and to speed up – cooperative development in agricultural marketing, processing, storage, computerization and weaker section programmes
  • To help cotton growers fetch remunerative price for their produce through value addition besides ensuring supply of quality yarn at reasonable rates to the decentralized weavers.

Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Marketing (ISAM)

  • To develop agricultural marketing infrastructure
  • To promote innovative and latest technologies and competitive alternatives in agriculture marketing infrastructure
  • To provide infrastructure facilities for grading, standardization and quality certification of agricultural produce
  • To establish a nationwide marketing information network; to integrate markets through a common online market platform to facilitate pan-India trade in agricultural commodities, etc.

National e-Governance Plan (NeGP-A):

  • To bring farmer centricity & service orientation to the programmes
  • To enhance reach & impact of extension services
  • To improve access of farmers to information & services throughout crop-cycle
  • To build upon, enhance & integrate the existing ICT initiatives of Centre and States
  • To enhance efficiency & effectiveness of programs through making available timely and relevant information to the farmers for increasing their agriculture productivity.

 

India rejects U.S. request on medical device price caps

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) and recent list of notified drugs/ equipment under price ceilings

Mains level: India’s efforts for providing affordable universal health care and issues related to it


News

US objects over India’s Price Capping

  1. US Trade Representative wrote to the PMO and Trade Minister urging them to not expand price controls to additional medical devices as U.S. firms are affected by price controls imposed last year
  2. The USTR is currently reviewing India’s eligibility under its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP),
    which allows duty-free imports of certain goods as India was the largest GSP beneficiary at $5.6 billion
  3. India has told the United States it won’t abstain from capping prices for more medical devices, regardless of pressure to rethink its stance as it would violate India’s move for affordable medical treatment for all

Why such request by the USA?

  1. The government last year capped prices of high-end heart stents, a small wire-mesh structure used to treat blocked arteries — at around $450, compared to $3,000 charged earlier
  2. Now NPPA has urged the Govt for capping prices for some medical devices like- cardiac balloons, catheters, guide-wire and intraocular eye lenses

Back2Basics

National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority

  1. NPPA is a regulatory agency under Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers of India which was established to fix/ revise the prices of controlled bulk drugs and enforce prices and availability of the medicines in the country, under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995
  2. It renders advice to the Central Government on changes/ revisions in the drug pricing policy
  3. It regularly publishes lists of medicines and their maximum ceiling prices
  4. It is also entrusted with the task of recovering amounts overcharged by manufacturers for the
    controlled drugs from the consumers
  5. It also monitors the prices of decontrolled drugs in order to keep them at reasonable levels.
Pharma Sector – Drug Pricing, NPPA, FDC, Generics, etc.

DoT releases draft National Telecom Policy

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of National Telecom Policy, Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), BharatNet
Project

Mains level: Features of National Telecom Policy, National Broadband Mission


News

Draft National Telecom Policy

  1. The draft of National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2018 aka National Digital Communications Policy 2018 has been
    released for public consultations by the Department of Telecom (DoT)
  2. The key strategies in the draft talks of recognizing spectrum as a key natural resource for public benefit to
    achieve India’s socio-economic goals
  3. The policy aims to accomplish some of the strategic objectives by 2022 including:
  • Provisioning of Broadband for all,
  • creating four million additional jobs in the digital communications sector,
  • enhancing the contribution of the digital communications sector to eight percent of India’s GDP from around six percent in 2017,
  • enhancing India’s contribution to global value chains
  • ensuring digital sovereignty

Features of the draft NTP, 2018

  1. There would be the optimal pricing of the spectrum to ensure sustainable and affordable access to digital
    communications
  2. Enabling light touch licensing/ de-licensing for broadband proliferation
  3. Promoting the co-use/ secondary use of spectrum
  4. Constituting a Spectrum Advisory Team (SAT) consisting of experts, industry, and academia to facilitate the
    identification of new bands, applications and efficiency measures to catalyze innovation and efficient spectrum management
  5. It proposes identifying and making available new spectrum bands for access and backhaul segments for
    timely deployment and growth of 5G networks and making available harmonized and contiguous spectrum required for deployment of next-generation access technologies

Setting up National Broadband Mission

  1. The draft talks of establishing a ‘National Broadband Mission – Rashtriya Broadband Abhiyan’ to secure
    universal broadband access for implementation of broadband initiatives, to be funded through USOF and
    PPP:
  • BharatNet for providing 1Gbps to Gram Panchayats upgradeable to 10 Gbps
  • GramNet for connecting all key rural development institutions with 10Mbps upgradeable to 100 Mbps
  • NagarNet for establishing one- million public Wi-Fi Hotspots in urban areas
  • JanWiFi for establishing two-million Wi-Fi Hotspots in rural areas
  • Implementing a ‘Fibre First Initiative’ to take Optical fiber to the home, to enterprises, and to key
    development institutions in tier I, II and III towns and to rural clusters

Setting up Telecom Ombudsman

  1. It talks about establishing effective institutional mechanisms to protect consumers’ interests including a
    Telecom Ombudsman and a centralized web-based complaint redressal system
  2. The Telecom Commission has already approved setting up of the Telecom Ombudsman and has asked TRAI
    to take care of it

Roadmap for Green Telecom in India

  1. The Policy talks of incentivizing the use of renewable energy technologies in the communications
    sector
  2. This includes utilization of small cell fuel batteries, lithium-ion batteries or other similar technologies and promoting research and development of green telecom

Back2Basics

Universal Service Obligation Fund

  1. USOF was formed by the Central Government in 1999 to help fund projects to provide widespread and non-discriminatory access to quality ICT services at affordable prices to people in rural and remote areas
  2. The money for this fund comes through a Universal Access Levy (UAL) charged from the telecom
    operators as a percentage of various licenses fees being paid by them
  3. The amount from UAL is deposited into the Consolidated Fund of India and require prior parliamentary approval to be dispatched
  4. It is headed by the USOF Administrator who reports to the Secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT)
Telecom and Postal Sector – Spectrum Allocation, Call Drops, Predatory Pricing, etc