India is a regular participant and leading speaker at global events viz. World Health Assembly 2017, UN Health Assembly, BRICS 2018 and The Astana-Global Conference on Primary Healthcare 2018.
India is the interim Chair of the high level advisory group as well as member of the Executive Committee of the PMNCH (Partnership for Maternal, Neo-natal and Child Health) Board. India has played a leadership role in development of the updated Global Strategy for Women, Children & Adolescents and was the implying force in getting adolescent health to be included in the global strategy. PMNCHs global Partners’ Forum 2018 was hosted by MoHFW in Delhi from 10th-14th December, 2018.
India and Macedonia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the field of Health. The MoU covers the following areas of cooperation: Capacity building and short term training of human resources in health; Exchange & training of medical doctors, officials, other health professionals and experts; Assistance in development of human resources and setting up of health care facilities;
Any other area of cooperation as may be mutually decided upon. India and Jordan signed an MoU on cooperation in the field of Health & Medical Science. The MoU covers the following areas of cooperation: Universal Health Coverage (UHC); Health System Governance; Services and Information Technology in Health; Health Research;
National Health Statistics; Health Finance and Health Economy; Chronic Disease Control; Tobacco Control; Diagnosis, Treatment and Medication in Tuberculosis; Regulation of Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices; and Any other area of cooperation as may be mutually decided upon.
Exchange experience in training of medical doctors and other health professionals; Assistance in development of human resources and setting up of health care facilities; Regulation of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and cosmetics and exchange of information thereon;
Cooperation in the field of medical research, new technologies and knowledge based initiatives; Public health, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and cooperation in international health; and
Any other area of cooperation as may be mutually decided upon. To further strengthen collaborative work between India and World Health Organization (WHO) in achieving improved health outcomes, MoHFW and WHO signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA).
The Union Cabinet approved the MoU on cooperation in the field of regulation of medical products for human use, amongst the medicine regulatory agencies of the BRICS countries. The MoU would facilitate better understanding about the regulatory aspects between the parties and could help in increasing India’s export of medical products to BRICS countries.
Establishment of a mechanism of information exchange and communication; Facilitating technical exchange on identified topics of interest especially about import procedures, quality control operations, sampling, testing, packaging and labelling;
Facilitating/organization of joint seminars, workshops, visits, lectures, training programme, etc;
Other areas of interest to the participants within their responsibilities as they may mutually determine. The cooperation arrangement will facilitate information sharing training and capacity building measure and learning from each others best practice to improve food safety ecosystem.
The Union Cabinet gave ex-post facto approval to the MoU between India and Denmark regarding cooperation in the areas of food safety. The MoU was signed on 16th April 2018. The MoU will help deepen bilateral ties, mutual understanding and trust, eventually strengthening both sides in their capacity building efforts towards food safety. It will further promote understanding of the best practices in the areas of food safety in both countries and in faster resolution of issues related to food safety. It will help improve food safety standard setting by getting access to best practices and facilitating food trade of important commodities.
Drugs & Pharmaceutical products; Medical Consumable products; Medical Research; Medical Equipment; Public Health; Communicable Disease Control & Surveillance; Health Tourism; and
Any other area of mutual interest. India and Bahrain signed an MoU on cooperation in the field of Health. The MoU covers the following areas of cooperation:- Exchange of information including publications and research outcomes; Exchanging visits by governmental officials, academic staff, scholars, teachers, experts and students;
Participating in workshops and training courses; Encouraging health and medical research activities at both the private-sector and the academic level; and Any other forms of cooperation as may be mutually decided upon.
MoU was signed in March, 2018 between the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Institut National de la Santeet de la Recherche Medicale (INSERM), France. The MoU will further strengthen relations between ICMR and INSERM within the framework of international scientific and technological cooperation in fields of mutual interest. The scientific excellence on two sides will help to successfully work on health research in specified areas.
The MoU aims at cooperation in areas of common interest within the medical, life sciences and health research fields. Based on scientific excellence on both sides, the parties have agreed to have a specific focus upon: Diabetes and Metabolic disorders;
Bio-ethics with focus on Ethics and regulatory issues of Gene editing techniques; Rare diseases; and Any other areas of mutual interest can be considered after discussions between the two sides.
MoHFW signed an MoU with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Norway to extend the cooperation within health sector through the Norway India Partnership Initiative (NIPI) for a period of three years starting from 2018 to 2020. This cooperation between India and Norway is aligned with the development goals of GoI as outlined in its National Health Policy 2017 for achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The cooperation shall also focus on global health issues of common interest. The partnership shall also include areas related to maternal, new-born, child health, and shall build on experiences from NIPI phase I and II. The cooperation will continue to focus on innovative, catalytic and strategic support, and stride in taking the Indian Government’s Intensification Plan for accelerated maternal and child survival in India.
MoU signed between the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), India and National Agency for Drug and Food Control (BPOM), Indonesia on cooperation in the field of pharmaceutical products, pharmaceutical substances, biological product and cosmetics regulatory functions. The MoU was on signed on 29th May, 2018 in Jakarta.
The MoU is expected to forge better understanding about each other's regulatory requirements and would be beneficial to both the countries. It could also facilitate India's export of pharmaceutical products and will also establish a framework for fruitful cooperation and exchange of information between the two countries in matters relating to Pharmaceutical products regulation on the basis for equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit. Further, it will facilitate better understanding between the regulatory authorities of the two countries.
India and Uzbekistan signed an MoU on cooperation in the field of Health. The MoU covers the following areas of cooperation:- Expanding opportunities for the development of business cooperation in the field of medical equipment, including equipment for teaching and research laboratories of institutions of medical education, and pharmaceutical products;
Strengthening of primary health care and setting up of health care facilities; Medical and health research development, as well as exchange of experience in these areas; Exchange of experiences and technologies in the field of telemedicine and electronic-health information systems;
Maternal and child health protection; Development and improvement of the techniques and strategies for epidemiological surveillance and communicable and non-communicable diseases control; Regulation of drugs and pharmaceutical products; Any other areas of cooperation of mutual interest.
Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between India and Japan in the field of Healthcare and Wellness signed on 29th October, 2018. The MoC covers the following areas of cooperation: Promoting specific projects: Developing human resource in the field of acute medicine, surgery and trauma care including focus on new areas of competency in each field; Establishing an advanced joint testing laboratory for clinical examination; Establishing a Japanese language education centre for trainee candidates of care workers;
Establishing collaborations among tertiary care centres in both countries such as AUMS; and Supporting sending organisations to provide pre-lectures about elderly care for technical intern training programmes of care-workers through sending out certificated care workers from Japan and providing a curriculum and textbooks so as to provide trained care-givers to Japan.
Establishing a centralised management healthcare distribution centre; Improving sanitary environment by increasing access to hygienic and affordable toilets such as on-site processing one;
Promoting institutional collaboration on patient data analysis and information and Communication Technology & Artificial Intelligence in medicine; India-Japan Innovation Hub in India;
Establishing high end mobile BSL 3 Lab facilities in India; and Collaboration on getting high end medical devices including Point of Care Diagnostics with a special focus on establishing manufacturing units in India under "Make in India".
Developing human resource, research and project promotion for health self-management such as ME-BYO and Ayurveda; and Holding an India-Japan public and private healthcare forum.
(d) Any other areas as may be mutually decided upon to promote the synergies between AYUSHMAN Bharat Programme and other initiatives and AHWM; and (e) Any other areas as may be mutually decided upon to promote cooperation as envisaged under this MOC.
Secretary, MoHFW, has been elected to serve as President of the COP Bureau (the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)) from 2017-19.
India is the founding member of the Partners in Population & Development (PPD) - an Inter-Governmental Organization, formed during the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994 for promoting South-South Cooperation in the field of Reproductive Health, Population and Development. India is currently the Vice Chair of the PPD Board.
MoHFW is working towards strengthening India’s leadership on AMR (Anti Microbial Resistance) and a revised and robust National Action Plan to combat AMR has been released early this year.
Hunar Haats: What are they? Hunar Haats are organised by Ministry of Minority Affairs under USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills & Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development) scheme.
The USTTAD scheme aims at preserving & promoting the rich heritage of the traditional arts & crafts of the Minority communities. This is one of the flagship programmes of the Ministry.
Significance of Hunar Haats: Hunar Haats have become a successful mission to provide employment and income generation opportunities with platforms for marketing the products of master artisans, craftsmen and culinary experts belonging to the minority communities.
It envisages at boosting the skill of craftsmen, weavers and artisans who are already engaged in the traditional ancestral work.
Key facts: The Festival will offer on sale the biggest selection of organic products ranging from food, fabrics and furniture to wellness, personal care and solar products. It is being organised and sponsored by the Union Ministry of Women & Child Development.
Significance: This initiative is a move to benefit women entrepreneurs, and also actively promote organic food and products. The Women of India Festival is also intended to highlight the health and environmental advantages of organic goods, provide a platform for women engaged in this economy and encourage the development of sustainable and easily accessible sales outlets for organic producers from remote areas.
On 14th January 2019, Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Development will inaugurate National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) Mohali Regional Centre.
National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) – It is a premier organization devoted to promotion of voluntary action research, training and documentation in the overall domain of women and child development. It was established in New Delhi in 1966 under Societies Registration Act of 1860.
It functions under the aegis of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Regional Centres at Guwahati (1978), Bangalore (1980), Lucknow (1982) and Indore (2001) Institute’s expertise and performance was recognized by UNICEF in 1985 when it awarded the Maurice Pate Award for its outstanding contribution in the field of Child Development.
Key features and highlights of the Bill: Aim: The Right to Disconnect Bill aims at “reducing stress and ease tension between an employee’s personal and professional life.” The Bill gives employees the right to not respond to calls or any kind of communications from the employers after office hours.
The Bill requires the setting up of an Employee Welfare Authority, which will publish reports related to the impact employees have from prolonged use of digital tools beyond office hours and it will also create a charter defining employee-employer negotiation.
According to the Bill, “Companies with more than 10 employees would periodically negotiate specific terms with their workers, publish their own charter, and create an Employee Welfare Committee consisting of representatives of the company’s workforce.”
Concerns and challenges faced by workers: With dynamic business demands in an evolving corporate landscape, striking a work-life balance has become difficult but also a priority. The imbalance leads to stress, anxiety and sleep deprivation—notable trends in studies on employee health.
The traditional service sector has to often deal with unreasonable work hours, working overtime without extra compensation, or carrying their work home. The insidious impact of ‘always on’ organizational culture is often unaccounted for or disguised as a benefit – increased convenience, for example, or higher autonomy and control over work-life boundaries.
Need and significance of the Bill: After being in the workplace for eight hours or more, it might be very stressful for a person to respond to office-related calls after work. According to experts, work-related stress can often lead to a lot of physical and mental ailments including depression, which might go undiagnosed. As a result of which, a person might face a lot of problem in his professional and personal life as well. The Right to Disconnect Bill 2018, if passed, will help people strike work-life balance and lead a better life.
Efforts in this regard: Countries like France and Germany have already adopted the right to disconnect laws, with the French government setting the example first in 2004, when it clarified that an employee unreachable on a smartphone outside of work hours will not be tagged for misconduct.
The European Union had voted in 2015 to regard the time spent in commute (to and from work) as work. In India, a Kolkata-based firm became the third in the country to sanction menstruation leave (of two days per month) to its female employees starting New Year’s Day.
Way ahead: The bill is yet to be discussed in the Lok Sabha. The odds however are stacked against the bill’s discussion. Data reveals that fewer than 5% of private bills are even debated in Lok Sabha. According to research from PRS Legislative published in 2015, the 13th Lok Sabha discussed barely 5% of private bills, the 14th Lok Sabha discussed 3%, while the 16th Lok Sabha discussed only 2.85% of private bills.
According to Parliamentary rules, a private bill has an expectancy of 6 years to be discussed, before lapse.
Background: The rising NPAs under the scheme are a matter of concern. It is already three years and there is a need to review how the banks are sanctioning the loans. The RBI has already flagged its concerns regarding the bad loans to the government.
What went wrong? In order to push the scheme, there had been an overemphasis on banks to meet loan disbursal targets. In the race to meet the target, the credentials of loan-seekers were not being properly verified and in many instances, loans were being given without any collateral or security, making it difficult for the banks to go after defaulters.
About the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) scheme: The PMMY Scheme was launched in April, 2015. The scheme’s objective is to refinance collateral-free loans given by the lenders to small borrowers.
The scheme, which has a corpus of Rs 20,000 crore, can lend between Rs 50,000 and Rs 10 lakh to small entrepreneurs. Banks and MFIs can draw refinance under the MUDRA Scheme after becoming member-lending institutions of MUDRA. Mudra Loans are available for non-agricultural activities upto Rs. 10 lakh and activities allied to agriculture such as Dairy, Poultry, Bee Keeping etc, are also covered.
Mudra’s unique features include a Mudra Card which permits access to Working Capital through ATMs and Card Machines. There are three types of loans under PMMY: Shishu (up to Rs.50,000). Kishore (from Rs.50,001 to Rs.5 lakh). Tarun (from Rs.500,001 to Rs.10,00,000).
Objectives of the scheme: Fund the unfunded: Those who have a business plan to generate income from a non-farm activity like manufacturing, processing, trading or service sector but don’t have enough capital to invest can take loans up to Rs 10 lakh. Micro finance institutions (MFI) monitoring and regulation: With the help of MUDRA bank, the network of microfinance institutions will be monitored. New registration will also be done.
Promote financial inclusion: With the aim to reach Last mile credit delivery to micro businesses taking help of technology solutions, it further adds to the vision of financial inclusion. Reduce jobless economic growth: Providing micro enterprises with credit facility will help generate employment sources and an overall increase in GDP.
Integration of Informal economy into Formal sector: It will help India also grow its tax base as incomes from the informal sector are non-taxed.
Context: Sikkim has announced the One family one job scheme to provide employment to the youth of Sikkim.
About the Scheme: One family one job scheme entitles one government job for every family in the state. Eligibility: Only members of those families which do not have a government job at present are eligible for government employment under the scheme. The government has announced that the nature of the job is not temporary and would be regularised after five years.
Significance: Sikkim is the first state in the country to launch an exclusive programme which entitles every family in the state with a government job and Sikkim earmarks 70% of its revenues towards salaries for state government employees.
ONGC has discovered 10-12 gas bearing wells in the Trishna Wildlife sanctuary.
About National Wildlife Board: National Board for Wild Life is a statutory organization constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. It is an apex body to review all wildlife-related matters and approves projects in and around national parks and sanctuaries.
Composition: The National Board for Wild Life is chaired by the Prime Minister, Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is the vice-chairman of the Board and the members include 15 non-government members, 19 ex-officio members and 10 government officials such as secretaries.
Facts for Prelims: Trishna Wildlife Sanctuary: The Trishna Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1988. The vegetation covers four broad categories of tropical semi-evergreen forest, the east Himalayan lower Bhanar sal, Moist mixed deciduous forest and the Savanah woodland.
Key features of the scheme: Under the scheme, 9-watt LED bulbs will be distributed to the beneficiaries registered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and the State Food Security Scheme (SFSC).
Odisha Power Transmission Corporation Ltd (OPTCL) will implement the scheme and the bulbs will be distributed through camps and PDS outlets across the State.
Biometric authentication: The beneficiaries will have to produce biometric authentication to get the benefits of the scheme.
Context: National Youth Parliament Festival 2019 has begun, thereby beginning the celebration of the National Youth Day 2019.
Theme: “Be The Voice of New India” and “Find solutions and contribute to policy”. Eligibility: Youth in the age bracket of 18-25 years are invited to participate in the District Youth Parliaments.
Significance:The National Youth Parliament Festival will encourage the youth to engage with public issues, understand the common man’s point of view, form their opinion and express these in an articulate manner. Relevant and effective voices on the vision of New India would be captured and documented to make these available to policy makers and implementers to take it forward.
The National Youth Parliament Festival 2019 will be conducted at three levels: District Youth Parliament (DYP) at the district level. State Youth Parliament (SYP) at the State Level. National Youth Parliament (NYP) at the National Level. The National Service Scheme and Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangthan organizations will remain involved at different levels in its conduct and management.
Background: National Youth Day – The National Youth Day (also called as Yuva Diwas) is observed on January 12 every year to commemorate the birthday of Swami Vivekananda. The main objective is to propagate the philosophy and the ideals of Swami Vivekananda. It became a mainstream celebration in India from 1985 onwards and observed on January 12 ever since.
About National Service Scheme (NSS) – The National Service Scheme is an Indian government-sponsored public service program conducted by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports of the Government of India.
The scheme was launched in Gandhiji’s Centenary year in 1969. The University Grants Commission (UGC) headed by Dr. Radhakrishnan recommended introduction of national service in the academic institutions on a voluntary basis with a view to developing healthy contacts between the students and teachers on the one hand and establishing a constructive linkage between the campus and the community on the other hand.
About Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan – Nehru Yuva Kendras was established in 1972. Later in 1987 under Rajiv Gandhi Government it became Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, an autonomous organization under Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
Sarva Bhasha Kavi Sammelan: Context: Kavi Sammelan, a National Symposium of Poets, is being held in Chennai.
About Sarva Bhasha Kavi Sammelan: Sarva Bhasha Kavi Sammelan of All India Radio (AIR) aims to provide a creative platform for national integration and linguistic harmony through mutual interaction and coordinated presentation of the best in contemporary poetry of all Indian languages. The Kavi Sammelan made its beginning in 1956 and is one of its kind programme wherein 23 eminent poets from 22 Indian languages come together on one stage to offer their creative best.
Asian Waterbird Census (AWC): Context: A waterbird survey conducted in the Upper Kuttanad region of Kerala has recorded 16,767 birds of 47 continental and local species. The survey, conducted as part of the annual Asian Waterbird Census, has spotted three new species — Greater flamingo, Grey-headed lapwing, and Blue-cheeked bee-eater.
About AWC: Asian Waterbird Census is an annual event in which thousands of volunteers across Asia and Australasia count waterbirds in the wetlands of their country. This event happens every January. This event is coordinated by wetlands International and forms part of global waterbird monitoring programme called the International Waterbird Census (IWC).
Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) was started in the year 1987. Its main focus is to monitor the status of waterbirds and the wetlands. AWC also aims to create public awareness on various issues concerning wetlands and waterbird conservation. Each year the census is carried out as a voluntary activity. In India, the AWC is annually coordinated by the Bombay Natural history Society (BNHS) and Wetlands International.
What are waterbirds? According to Wetlands International (WI), waterbirds are defined as species of birds that are ecologically dependent on wetlands. These birds are considered to be an important health indicator of wetlands of a region.