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Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC – 30th Sep to 6th October – 2019
Published on Oct. 7, 2019, 1:40 p.m.

Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC – 30th September to 6th October, 2019

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GS-2

NITI Aayog releases School Education Quality Index (SEQI)

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation; Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources)

Developed by: NITI Aayog

Aim: To bring an ‘outcomes’ focus to education policy by providing States and UTs with a platform to identify their strengths and weaknesses and undertake requisite course corrections or policy interventions.

In line with NITI Aayog’s mandate to foster the spirit of competitive and cooperative federalism, SEQI strives to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and best practices across States and UTs. 

Developed through a collaborative process, including key stakeholders such as Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD), the World Bank and sector experts, the index consists of 30 critical indicators that assess the delivery of quality education. 

These indicators are categorized as below:

Category 1: Outcomes

  1. Domain 1: Learning outcomes
  2. Domain 2: Access outcomes
  3. Domain 3: Infrastructure and facilities for outcomes
  4. Domain 4: Equity outcomes

Category 2: Governance processes aiding outcomes

Schooling should result in successful learning outcomes. A credible system of assessment in this regard is crucial to design necessary remedial actions. To ensure the system is geared towards learning, SEQI assigns almost half its weight to learning outcomes. This sends a strong signal across the nation to ensure the focus remains centred on learning outcomes.

States’ and UTs’ performance on Learning Outcomes is driven by their results on the National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2017. Their performance on Access Outcomes is primarily driven by enrolment ratios at the secondary level and transition rates from upper-primary to secondary level.

SEQI also included an analysis of States and Union Territories for each indicator under study.

SEQI is envisioned as a dynamic instrument that will continue to evolve. Over time, the relevance of the existing indicators and the availability of data for new indicators will be factored into the index design. In particular, the linkages between policy actions and SEQI indicators will be analyzed to reflect the efforts made by States and UTs to improve school education.


AIM NITI Aayog, UNDP India Jointly Launch Youth Co:Lab

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

In a latest initiative to recognize young people as critical drivers of sustainable development, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India launched Youth Co:Lab which aims at accelerating social entrepreneurship and innovation in young India.

  • Through Youth Co:Lab, young entrepreneurs and innovators will get a chance to connect with governments, mentors, incubators and investors, who will help equip them with entrepreneurial skills.
  • The first phase of Youth Co:Lab will focus on six SDGs: 
    • SDG 5 (Gender Equality)
    • SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation)
    • SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy)
    • SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth)
    • SDG 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production)
    • SDG 13 (Climate Action)

About Youth Co:Lab: Co-created in 2017 by UNDP and the Citi Foundation, and operational in 25 countries across the Asia Pacific region, the Youth Co:Lab initiative aims to create an enabling ecosystem to promote youth leadership, innovation, and social entrepreneurship.

About Atal Innovation Mission (AIM): AIM including Self-Employment and Talent Utilisation (SETU) is Government of India’s endeavour to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. Its objective is to serve as a platform for the promotion of world-class innovation hubs, grand challenges, start-up businesses and other self-employment activities, particularly in technology driven areas.


Launch of Portal PRAKASH (Power Rail Koyla Availability through Supply Harmony) 

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

Aims at bringing better coordination for coal supplies among all stakeholders viz - Ministry of Power, Ministry of Coal, Coal India, Railways and power utilities. This is an important step in ensuring adequate availability and optimum utilization of coal at thermal power plants.

The Portal is designed to help in mapping and monitoring entire coal supply chain for power plants, viz –

  • Coal Stock at supply end (mines),
  • Coal quantities/ rakes planned,
  • Coal quantity in transit and
  • Coal availability at power generating station

Benefits of Portal to the Stakeholders

The portal makes available following information on a single platform 

  • Coal company will be able to track stocks and the coal requirement at power stations for effective production planning
  • Indian Railways will plan to place the rakes as per actual coal available at siding and stock available at power stations.
  • Power stations can plan future schedule by knowing rakes in pipe line and expected time to Reach
  • Stock at power generating station
  • Ministry of Power /Ministry of Coal/ CEA/ POSOCO can review overall availability of coal at thermal power plants in different regions

Present mechanism to review coal supply situation consists of an inter-ministerial group which has officials from Ministries of Power, Coal, Railways, CEA, power utilities and coal companies. This group holds weekly meetings to review coal supply situation as well as railway logistics. It was observed that this mechanism faced several issues such as scattered information, correctness of data from different organizations, timely availability of data etc. This often led to difficulties in decision making


GS-3

Government’s aim to achieve $26 billion Indian defence industry by 2025

(Topic: Defence)

Aim: To make a world class domestic defence industry that is self-reliant and less dependent on imports

  • Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016 has been revised to promote domestic defence industry
  • Buy India – Indigenously Designed, Developed & Manufactured (IDDM) has been introduced to promote indigenously designed & developed defence equipments
  • The Defence Industry Corridors are being established to provide state-of-the-art infrastructure for the setting up of defence production facilities. The corridors will not only encourage regional industry but also develop a well-planned & efficient industrial base to promote defence production.
  • Allowing 49% FDI through automatic route and more than 49% FDI through government route
  • Liberalisation of Industrial Licensing to remove barriers for manufacturers, especially SMEs
  • Simplification of ‘Make’ procedure 
  • Notifying ‘Strategic Partnership’ model for Indian entities to develop a long-term partnership with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)
  • Setting up of ‘Defence Investor Cell’
  • End-to-end online offset processing portal to promote transparency and efficiency
  • Formulation of iDEX framework to encourage Indian Defence Sector innovations

Amendments Approved in Electric Vehicle Charging Guidelines and Specifications

(Topic: Environment Conservation)

Revised guidelines are more consumer friendly as they incorporate a number of suggestions received from various stakeholders.

  • At least one Charging Station should be available in a grid of 3 Km X 3 Km in the cities and one Charging Station at every 25 Km on both sides of highways/roads. 
  • It has been envisaged that in the first phase (i.e. 1-3 years) all Mega Cities with population of 4 million plus as per census 2011, all existing expressways connected to these Mega Cities & important Highways connected with each of these Mega Cities may be taken up for coverage, while in the second phase (3-5 years) big cities like State Capitals, UT headquarters may be covered for distributed and demonstrative effect. Further, important Highways connected with each of these Mega Cities may also be taken up for coverage. 
  • To address the concerns in inter-city travel and long range and/or heavy duty EVs it has been provided that Fast Charging Station for long range and/or heavy duty EVs like buses/trucks etc., shall be installed at every 100 Kms, shall be installed one on each side of the highways/road located preferably within/alongside the Public Charging Station (PCS) mentioned above.
  • Assuming that most of the charging of EVs would take place at homes or at offices where the decision of using Fast or Slow chargers would rest on the consumers, it has been clarified in the guidelines that private charging at residences/offices shall be permitted and DISCOMs may facilitate the same.
  • Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), a statutory body under Ministry of Power has been nominated as the Central Nodal Agency. 
  • The tariff to be charged, from Public Charging Stations as well as from domestic consumers for domestic charging, by the DISCOMs and the Service Charges to be charged by these PCS from EV users have also been covered in the guidelines. 

Please Note

Exercise MAITREE: Joint military training exercise between Indian Army (IA) & Royal Thailand Army (RTA)

26th Chief of the Air Staff: Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria

International Day of Older Persons: 3rd October

  • Vayoshreshtha Samman-2019 to the eminent senior citizens and institutions in recognition of their services towards the cause of the elderly persons
  • Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana - under which physical aids and assistive living devices viz. wheel chairs, hearing aids, spectacles, support stickset care distributed to the older persons of below poverty line category.

India launches “Green Crackers” in its bid to curb air pollution

  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) labs have been successful in developing various environment-friendly fireworks such as sound emitting crackers, flowerpots, pencils, chakkar and sparklers.
  • On one hand we would be using eco-friendly crackers this Deepawali, and, on the other hand our traditional festival celebrations with lights and fire crackers shall remain intact. Millions of homes which are dependent on sale and manufacture of fireworks will also rejoice this festival, thanks to our scientists!

50th International Film Festival of India, 2019

  • Will witness over 200 best films  from 76 countries, 26 feature films and 15 non feature films in Indian panorama section and around 10,000 people and film lovers are expected to participate in the golden jubilee edition. 
  • Dadasaheb Phalke Award winner Shri. Amitabh Bachchan’s outstanding contribution to Cinema will be honoured and celebrated through a package of his impactful and entertaining films in the 50th edition
  • This year, the Feature Film Jury was headed by acclaimed filmmaker and screenwriter Shri Priyadarshan. The Jury has chosen the film HELLARO (Gujarati) directed by Abhishek Shah as the Opening Feature Film of Indian Panorama 2019.
  • The Non – Feature Jury was headed by well-known documentary FilmmakerShri RajendraJanglay. The Non-Feature film Jury selected the film “Nooreh” directed by Ashish Pandey as the Opening non-feature film of Indian Panorama 2019.

The Gandhian Challenge

  • On the 150th birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, AIM, NITI Aayog’s Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) and UNICEF India, including Generation Unlimited, have launched ‘The Gandhian Challenge’. This innovation challenge provides a platform for every child across India to ideate innovative solutions for a sustainable India of their dreams, using Gandhi’s principles.
  • The contest – open for every child in India from 2 October to 20 October – also celebrates 70 years of partnership between Government of India and UNICEF India to enable Every Right for Every Child.

Plastic Man of India: Prof Rajagopalan Vasudevan, Professor of Chemistry at Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai

  • Roads constructed using waste plastic are durable against extreme weather conditions, are cost-effective and pothole-resistant
  • Once all the plastic waste is shredded (a technique where all the dust particles are eliminated, and plastic items are shredded into fine pieces) these are heated at 165°c. Next, the shredded pieces are added to bitumen mix, which is also heated at 160°c. The final mix is used for constructing roads.

BRAHMOS Supersonic Cruise Missile

  • BRAHMOS supersonic cruise missile featuring Indian propulsion system, airframe, power supply and other major indigenous components, was successfully test fired
  • The missile was successfully test-fired for its full range of 290-km during the launch jointly conducted by DRDO and BrahMos Aerospace. 
  • With this successful mission, the indigenous content in the formidable weapon has reached a high value, thus bolstering India’s defence indigenisation and the flagship ‘Make in India’ programme.
  • Jointly developed by India and Russia, the versatile BRAHMOS has been operationalised in the Indian Armed Forces with all the three services.

Launch of Consumer App

  • A one-stop solution for consumer grievance redressal at the palm of every consumer across the nation
  • To fast-track consumer grievance redressal process and provide an effective forum for consumers to give their valuable suggestions to the Department on consumer related issues

Bullet Resistant Jackets made under PM Modi’s‘Make in India’ initiative

  • India has now joinedselected League of Nations such as US, UK & Germany to have its own standard for Bullet Resistant Jackets. The Jackets have been made using standard (IS 17051: 2018) set by the Bureau of India Standard (BIS)
  • The standard is expected to fulfil the long pending demand of Indian Armed Forces, Paramilitary Forces and State Police Forces and will assist them in streamlining their procurement process.
  • These jackets are light weight weighing between 5 kilograms to 10 kilograms depending on the threat level and are of the best quality in the world.
  • The jackets have a dynamic weight distribution system which makes it feel half its actual weight and also has an easy to open and release system to ensure that the jawans can easily wear and remove the jackets as per their requirement without much effort. 
  • These jackets also allow the jawans to use his weapon with ease while getting a 360 degree protection from bullets. Maximum areal densities for Soft Armour Panel (SAP) and Hard Armour Panel (HAP) has been specified for these jackets.
  • As the critical performance requirements and their evaluation procedures have been clearly brought out in this standard, it will ensure the availability of quality Bullet Resistant Jackets at economical price.

Ministry of Tourism launches Audio Guide facility App "Audio Odigos" for 12 sites of India (including Iconic Sites)

  • Audio guide odigo offers Government of India verified content, with visuals & voice over support.
  • With Audio Odigos, tourists will now enjoy a more enriching experience and take back historical insights of the Indian culture and heritage. 
  • The Audio Odigos app contains an inbuilt map of the site for a smooth navigation during the tour. 
  • Listeners will be offered various versions of history like Synopsis, Detailed History and Podcasts. The audio can be chosen in their preferred language & version of the history.

Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2019 -20

Government of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India, has decided to issue Sovereign Gold Bonds, which will be issued in six tranches from October 2019 to March 2020. The Bonds will be sold through Scheduled Commercial banks (except Small Finance Banks and Payment Banks), Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), designated post offices, and recognised stock exchanges viz., National Stock Exchange of India Limited and Bombay Stock Exchange Limited.

Electoral Bond Scheme 2018

  • As per provisions of the Scheme, Electoral Bonds may be purchased by a person, who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India. A person being an individual can buy Electoral Bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals. 
  • Only the Political Parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and which secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last General Election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the State, shall be eligible to receive the Electoral Bonds. 
  • The Electoral Bonds shall be encashed by an eligible Political Party only through a Bank account with the Authorized Bank. State Bank of India (SBI), in the XII Phase of sale, has been authorised to issue and encash Electoral Bonds 
  • Electoral Bonds shall be valid for fifteen calendar days from the date of issue and no payment shall be made to any payee Political Party if the Electoral Bond is deposited after expiry of the validity period. The Electoral Bond deposited by an eligible Political Party in its account shall be credited on the same day.

Special Focus: Ayushman Bharat PMJAY

Ayushman Bharat is a conscious attempt to holistically address health, encompassing prevention, promotion and ambulatory care at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Ayushman Bharat has been designed on the fundamental precepts that prevention is better than cure, and that no one should fall into poverty because of expenditure on healthcare, or die, because they cannot afford treatment.

It promises to bring healthcare to the poorest through two components

  1. Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) delivering comprehensive primary healthcare through the development of 1.5 lakh HWCs
  2. PM-JAY, the health assurance scheme delivering secondary and tertiary care to 55-crore people through a health cover of Rs 5 lakh per family per year. 

What are the numbers for the year gone by?

  • More than 20,000 HWCs have been made operational. More than five crore people have been screened for a whole range of common non-communicable diseases. 
  • Under PM-JAY, more than 45 lakh hospital admissions have taken place for cashless treatment in more than 18,000 empaneled hospitals across the country, resulting in savings of more than Rs 13,000 crore for the beneficiary families. 
  • Every three seconds, a beneficiary is being treated, and the numbers continue to rise.
  • Eleven states/UTs have expanded the coverage to include almost all families. In addition, 23 states/UTs have expanded the beneficiary base with the same benefit cover as under PMJAY or lower in some cases. Several states have merged their many ongoing schemes with PMJAY to make implementation simpler for both beneficiaries and participating hospitals.
  • The private sector has played an active role in the early pick up of the scheme. More than half of the empaneled hospitals are private. Over 62 per cent of the treatments have been done by private hospitals. PM-JAY has created a massive demand for private (and public) sector services by making hospital facilities accessible to 55 crore people.
  • With the setting up of 1.5 lakh HWCs by 2022, an expected 1.5 lakh jobs will be created for community health officers, including 50,000 multi-purpose health workers. It has generated an estimated 50,000-60,000 jobs in the first year itself and is expected to add over 12.5 lakh jobs in both public and private sectors over the next three to five years, with 90 per cent of them in the healthcare sector and the remaining in allied sectors such as insurance and implementation support.

Release of a National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB)

To ‘manage and analyse’ the big data generated by the Centre’s flagship health programme, Ayushman Bharat

  • Given that doctors in both the public and private sectors regularly complain about the lack of comprehensive records of their patients, the digital registry envisaged by the NDHB could fulfill a longstanding requirement of the health sector. 
  • The proposed data compendium is also in keeping with global trends in healthcare where digital technology is used to make treatment options more personalised and precise. 
  • Big data can also be used to prevent epidemics and improve the efficiency of drugs.

What more needs to be done?

The ambitious Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) completes a year, with impressive numbers to show but it still faces challenges of sustainability, synchronization and financial fulfilment.

Funding Issues:

  • The allocation of just ₹2,000 crore during the current year to the PMJAY cannot provide the promised cover to the large population sought to be included. Not all States and Union Territories are in a position to raise their own share, and a few have not even joined the scheme. 
  • The challenge of funding, therefore, remains. And without adequate budgetary commitments, the implications of pooling the financial risk for such a large segment of the population through insurers or state-run trusts or societies make the outcomes uncertain.
  • Along with delivery and quality, the government will need to adopt innovative funding models for long-term sustainability. While government spending on healthcare in India is one of the lowest in the world at around 1.2% of GDP, the country’s health system is crippled with shortage of workforce, poor infrastructure, compromised quality and unavailability of services.

Universal Health Coverage is a must:

  • It is essential to reduce the pressure on secondary and tertiary hospitals for expensive treatments by investing in preventive and primary care facilities. Here, the 150,000 health and wellness centres of the National Health Protection Mission can play a valuable role. 
  • The first-order priority should be to draw up a road map for universal health coverage, through continuous upgradation of the public sector infrastructure.

Infrastructure issues:

  • There is a severe shortage of medical personnel, including doctors and nurses, as well as a dearth of hospitals and hospital beds. This shortage is especially stark in rural areas. 
  • In many places, primary health centres, community health centres, and sub-centres are located too far from people’s homes. Even in the big cities, patients often have to run from one hospital to another in search of a particular facility or a bed. 
  • Private infirmaries are the preferred option for most, if only because of treatment is assured. The poor, however, typically find themselves shut out not just by steep prices—which Ayushman Bharat expects to overcome—but also invisible class barriers.

Scaling Up:

  • The uneven geographic distribution of poor families makes it difficult to find out the real targeted beneficiaries given the uneven geographic distribution of poor families. Inspite of many people having been treated under the scheme, many remain unaware of the programme.
  • There is a need to scale up this programme with quality and sustainability for all stakeholders. We need to strengthen delivery mechanism which includes expansion of private providers’ network, shift towards organized care delivery, innovations, speciality, low cost, and value-based care.

Overall

  • Other factors pushing the programme to its limits include increasing population, disease burden, concentration of health services in urban areas, and lack of awareness of the scheme among a major chunk of entitled beneficiaries.

The success of the programme will rely on a reformed and adequately resourced public sector to lead implementation, delivery, and monitoring of the scheme.

Note: Under the 7th schedule of the Indian Constitution, health is a state subject.

Refer: Mindmap

Connecting the Dots:

  1. National healthcare schemes often dilute the responsibility of the states and overlook the need for preventive measures. Comment.
  2. Ayushman Bharat is one of the most ambitious health schemes ever launched in India. What can be the key challenges in proper implementation of this scheme?
  3. Examine the status of insurance coverage in India. What is your assessment of the potential of Ayushman Bharat in this regard? भारत में बीमा कवरेज की स्थिति की जांच करें। इस संबंध में आयुषमान भारत की क्षमता का आपका आकलन क्या है?