Current Affairs Current Affairs - 15 August 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 15 August 2018

General Affairs 

Major Aditya Kumar, Rifleman Aurangzeb To Get Shaurya Chakra
  • Major Aditya Kumar, who was embroiled in a controversy after his unit fired on a stone-pelting mob in South Kashmir's Shopian in January leading to death of three persons, is among 20 armed forces personnel who will be honoured with Shaurya Chakra.

    Rifleman Aurangzeb, who hails from Jammu and Kashmir and was brutally killed by terrorists in Pulwama in June when he was on his way home for Eid, will also be conferred the gallantry award.

    The official list of gallantry award winners was released by the defence ministry on the eve of the Independence Day.

    The unit led by Major Aditya had opened fire on a group of stone-pelters in Shopian on January 27 following which the Jammu and Kashmir police filed an FIR against the army personnel involved in the incident.

    In February, the father of Major Aditya had moved the Supreme Court seeking quashing of the FIR. During hearing of the case, the Centre said the state government cannot lodge an FIR against serving army personnel when the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was in force in the state.

    Rifleman Aurangzeb, who belonged to the 44 Rashtriya Rifles, was on way back home on June 14 to celebrate Eid when terrorists abducted him.

    Hours later, his bullet-riddled body was found at Gussu village, about 10 km from Kalampora, in Pulwama district. His killing triggered widespread outrage in Kashmir.

Full Text Of President Ram Nath Kovind's 72 Independence Day Address
  • President Ram Nath Kovind addressed the nation on the eve of the 72 Independence Day today. In his 21 minute speech, President Kovind spoke of the contributions of Mahatma Gandhi and his noble mantra" on the power of 'ahinsa' or non-violence. The president said that contentious issues and extraneous debates should not distract us at a "pivotal moment". President Kovind addressed a range of issues in his speech including that of the role of women in our society and the choices they are entitled to, amid concerns over their privacy and safety. 

    Here is the full text of President Ram Nath Kovind's 72 Independence Day address:

    Dear Fellow Citizens

    My greetings to you as we complete 71 years as an independent nation. Tomorrow we will commemorate our 72nd Independence Day. For every Indian, whether living at home or anywhere else in the world, August 15 is sacred. It is marked on our calendars as a celebration of our sovereignty. We unfurl our national flag with great joy and enthusiasm in workplaces, municipalities, panchayats, colleges, schools, homes and neighborhoods. Our Tricolor is a symbol of our national pride. It is a constant reminder of our striving and our self-belief. It is a day to look back with satisfaction and gratitude for what we have been able to achieve due to the efforts of successive generations of our elders. And it is a day to renew our resolve to fill the gaps that still remain in our nation building project - gaps that our talented young people will no doubt fill.

    Freedom came to our country on the Midnight of August 14-15, 1947. It was the result of years and decades and centuries of sacrifice and valour on the part of our ancestors and our revered freedom fighters. These were men and women of rare courage and foresight. They came from all regions of the country, all sections of society, all communities and all social and economic groups. They could easily have compromised and settled for some personal benefit, but they did not. Their commitment to India - to a free, sovereign, plural and egalitarian India - was absolute. It was my privilege to honour these freedom fighters on the anniversary of 'Quit India Day' on 9th August in Rashtrapati Bhavan.

    We are fortunate that we have inherited the legacy of such remarkable patriots. They left us with a free India, but they also left us with unfinished tasks for the development of our society, for the empowerment of the proverbial last person, for their liberation from poverty, and social and economic inequality. Every breath in our collective life as a nation is a tribute to our freedom fighters - and a commitment to accomplish whatever is still unaccomplished.

    If we define freedom in narrow, political terms, then August 15, 1947, marks a closure. It was the day the political struggle against an imperial power culminated in success and in our Independence Day. But freedom is a broader concept. It is not fixed and finite. Freedom is a constant and relentless endeavour. Even decades after 1947, each one of us can contribute in the manner of a freedom fighter. We can do so if we expand the frontiers of freedom and of opportunity for our fellow Indians and our beloved India.

    Our farmers grow food for tens of thousands of fellow citizens whom they have not individually met and will never meet. They are upholding our freedom by ensuring food security and nutrition for our children. As we assist our farmers by providing access to technology and other facilities for enhanced productivity and enhanced incomes, we live up to the principles of our freedom struggle.

    Our Armed Forces stand guard valiantly on our borders, up in the cruel climate of the mountains or under the blazing sun, or in the skies or at sea. They are upholding our freedom by ensuring security from external threats. As we give them better weapons and equipment, build supply chains for such equipment in India itself, or ensure welfare benefits for our soldiers, we live up to the principles of our freedom struggle.

    Our police and paramilitary forces take on a variety of challenges. In battling terrorism, in fighting crime and law and order disturbances, or even in helping ordinary citizens by holding their hands while they cross a flooded street. In doing this, they are upholding our civic freedom. As we improve their professional and personal conditions, we live up to the principles of our freedom struggle.

    Women have a special role in our society. The expansion of freedom in our country in many senses amounts to the expansion of freedom for women in our country. This is true whether we see them as mothers, sisters, daughters or simply as women who are entitled to a life of their choosing - and deserving of the opportunity and the security to fulfil their potential. They could do this as sheet-anchors of our families or as absolutely critical entrants to our institutions of higher learning and our workforce. The choice is theirs; as a nation and as a society we must ensure that they have the right and the ability to exercise that choice.

    As we take this process further, by facilitating credit for women-run enterprises and start-ups or by easier availability of LPG in millions of kitchens and millions of homes, we live up to the principles of our freedom struggle.

    Our young people, both boys and girls, represent the hope and optimism of India. Our freedom struggle saw the active participation of the young and the old, but its energy was provided by the young. They chose different modes or activism in their quest for liberty - but their resolve and their idealism, their passion for a free India, for a better India, for a more equal India, was nonnegotiable.

    Today, as we ignite the fire within our youth, by building capacities for skilling and scholarship; for technology, engineering and entrepreneurship; for creativity and crafts; for playing music and producing mobile apps, for excelling in sports, we are harnessing the unlimited human capital of our youth. In doing so, we live up to the principles of our freedom struggle.

    I have given only a few examples; there could be many more. The reality is that every Indian who does his or her job with sincerity and commitment, who contributes to society by being true to a professional ethic, be it the doctor's ethic, the nurse's ethic, the teacher's ethic, the public servant's ethic, the factory worker's ethic, the business-person's ethic, the ethic of those who have to care for ageing parents who brought them up with love and sacrifice - each of these and many others are in their own way upholding the values of freedom. They are providing the fruits and goods and services of freedom to fellow citizens. Every citizen of India who does his or her duty sincerely, fulfils a personal and professional obligation and keeps to a given word is, at a fundamental level, upholding the principles of our freedom struggle. I would argue that every Indian who does not jump the queue and respects the civic space and rights of those ahead in the line also lives up to the principles of our freedom struggle. It's a very small gesture. Let us try and abide by it.

    Dear Fellow Citizens

    You may wonder if what I have said so far would not have held true in the years gone by, maybe 10 or 20 years ago or even earlier. To some extent, it certainly would. Even so, we are at a juncture in our history that is very different from any period we have so far experienced. We are at the cusp of achieving many of our long-awaited goals. Universal access to electricity, the elimination of open defecation, the elimination of homelessness, the very elimination of extreme poverty is achievable and attainable. We are at a pivotal moment. Let contentious issues and extraneous debates not distract us.

    After four years, we will be marking the 75th anniversary of Independence. In less than 30 years, our people will celebrate the 100th anniversary of India as a free nation. The decisions we take today, the foundations we lay today, the projects we undertake today, the social and economic investments we make today - whether for the immediate future or for the medium term - will determine where we stand. The pace of change and development in our country is rapid and appreciable. And as per our civilisational traditions, it is driven by our people, by civil society and by a partnership between citizen and government. Its focus, again in keeping with the essence of Indian thought, is on a better life for the less fortunate.

    I will give you just one example. The Gram Swaraj Abhiyan is taking seven flagship programmes to the very doorstep of the poorest and the most deprived among our fellow citizens. These services include access to electricity, access to the formal banking system, access to welfare and insurance programmes, and access to immunisation in hitherto hard-to-reach areas. The Gram Swaraj Abhiyan has been extended to 117 Aspirational Districts where, seven decades after Independence, we still have stark gaps in the development narrative.

    Not surprisingly there is a significant overlap between the populations of these districts and historically weaker communities, such as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. As such, we have an opportunity to raise the quality of life for those of our fellow citizens who have unfortunately remained at the bottom of the pyramid. The Gram Swaraj Abhiyan is not being carried out by government alone. It is a collaboration of public agencies and community groups, with selfless citizens who are keen to share, to empathise and to give back.

    Dear Fellow Citizens

    Independence Day is always special, but this year there is an unusual significance attached to it. In a few weeks, on 2nd October, we will begin the commemoration of the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji did not just lead our freedom struggle. He was and still is our moral compass. In my capacity as the President of India, I have been fortunate to have travelled around the world, particularly to a few countries of Africa. Everywhere, across continents, Gandhiji is mentioned, cherished and remembered as an icon for all humanity. He is the embodiment of India.

    It is not always simple to understand Gandhiji. He refused to be restricted in his definition of politics and political activism, or even of freedom. When Gandhiji and his wife Kasturba, travelled to Champaran in Bihar for the indigo farmers' agitation, they devoted a considerable part of their time to educating local people, particularly women and children, as well as teaching them about hygiene and health. Here, and on other occasions, Gandhiji personally led the drive for swachhta or cleanliness. He linked the removal of dirt to an act of self-discipline and of promoting physical and mental health.

    Many were puzzled at that time. What does all this have to do with freedom? For Gandhiji, they were the centre-piece of the quest for freedom. This was a struggle, according to him, not just for political power but for empowering the poorest of the poor, educating the uneducated, ensuring the right to a dignified life and a feasible livelihood for every village, for every neighbourhood, for every family - and for every individual.

    Gandhiji spoke of swadeshi with an uncommon zeal. To him this was a pride in promoting Indian creativity and an Indian sensibility. Nevertheless, he was alive to intellectual currents from the rest of the world. He invited these to enrich our learning. To him, Indian civilisation was defined by open windows and not closed doors. This was his concept of swadeshi and it is still relevant to us as we engage with the world - whether for our economy, our health, education and social aspirations, or our policy choices.

    Perhaps Gandhiji's most noble mantra was to point out that the power of ahinsa is far greater than the power of hinsa. The power to stay your hand is far greater than the power to strike with your hand and hinsa has no place in the society. The weapon of ahinsa was the most effective weapon Gandhiji gave us. Like his other teachings, it was rooted in the ancient wisdom of India and yet has a resonance in the 21st century and in our daily lives.

    This Independence Day, so close to the 150th anniversary commemoration of Gandhiji, let each of us adapt his ideas and maxims, in whatever manner we can in our everyday work and conduct. I can think of no better way to celebrate our freedom. I can think of no better way to celebrate Indianness.

    And this Indianness is not for us alone. It is part of what our country and our civilisation bring to the global stage. In the spirit of Gandhiji and the spirit of India, we believe in the age-old ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam or the "World is one Family". This is why we demonstrate our concern for entire humanity by providing assistance to many African countries, taking initiatives on the issue of climate change, contributing to United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in different parts of the world, helping neighbouring countries affected by natural disasters, rescuing people from other countries along with our own people, trapped in a conflict zone. In the spirit of Gandhiji and the spirit of India, we share the practice of yoga for health and well-being, and using technology for development. We are Gandhiji's children. We dream for all humanity, even when we walk alone.

    Dear Fellow Citizens

    In my engagements with students and university authorities all over India, I have urged students to spend a few days - maybe four or five days in a year - in a village. Undertaken as part of what may be termed "University Social Responsibility", this will help students understand our country. It will allow them to observe and participate in social welfare programmes and see how they are making an impact. It will be of benefit to the individual student and to the village, as well as to the country. It will also invoke the fervour of our freedom struggle, and the identification of every citizen with the national mission.

    I am gratified by the idealism and the passion of our young people. There is a spirit to achieve something for oneself, for one's family, for wider society and for our country. This is the most moral education we can wish for. The outcome of education is not merely a degree or a diploma, but the commitment to help improve the life of another in a way that is sustainable. This is empathy and fraternity in action. This is the Indian spirit. This is India, because India belongs to the people of India - not just to the Government.

    Together we can help every citizen in our country. Together we can conserve our forests and natural heritage, we can safeguard our monuments for future generations, we can renew our rural and urban habitats. Together, we can eliminate poverty, illiteracy and inequality. We can and we must do this together. The government has a leading role but not the sole role. Let us use the government's programmes and projects to further our own efforts. Let us make that sense of ownership our motivation.

    With those words, I once again wish you and your families all the best for Independence Day and best wishes for a bright future.

Anti-Aircraft Guns Deployed At Red Fort On Independence Day
  • The historic Red Fort, from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation on the 72nd Independence Day tomorrow, has been put under a heavy security cover, along with other critical areas in the national capital.

    The police are on high alert in the wake of an attack on JNU student leader Umar Khalid in the Lutyens' Delhi area and the incident in the UK, in which a car crashed into the security barriers outside the Parliament building today, a senior police officer said.

    He said even though the attack in the UK has not yet been declared as an act of terror, the police were not taking any chances.

    While nearly 70,000 Delhi Police personnel are guarding the national capital, close to 10,000 cops have been deployed at the Mughal-era fort, which will see the presence of senior ministers, top bureaucrats, foreign dignitaries and common people during the PM's address tomorrow.

    Delhi Police personnel have been specifically asked to keep an eye on the sky to ensure that no stray kites are seen in the areas around the Red Fort.

    Last year, when the prime minister was addressing the nation on Independence Day, a black kite had landed below the podium.

    The kite landed quietly without causing any disturbance and the prime minister had continued his address unfazed.

    Kite-catchers have been deployed even though kite-flying has been restricted in the area till 11 am.

    Over 500 CCTV cameras have been installed on the routes leading to the Red Fort with over 200 cameras in the fort itself. The footage is being monitored round the clock, the police said.

    This time, 36 women personnel of the Delhi Police Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) unit will also be guarding the venue with their male counterparts.

3 Nagpur College Students Die After Their Two-Wheeler Crashes Into Crane
  • Three college girl students travelling on a two-wheeler were killed when their vehicle hit a crane engaged in metro rail work in Maharashtra's Nagpur this morning, police said.

    The mishap occurred at around 8.30 am in the Ambhazari area when the girls, all aged 18, were on way to their college, Inspector P R Patil of the Bajajnagar police station said.

    A crane engaged in metro rail work was moving ahead of their vehicle. Two auto-rickshaws and a few two-wheelers were behind the crane, he said.

    PR Patil, quoting eyewitnesses, said the girls tried to overtake other vehicles from left side. In the process, their two-wheeler skidded and crashed into the crane.

    All three were seriously injured in the mishap. A passerby immediately took the girls in his car to a nearby private hospital, where they succumbed to injuries, the police officer said.

    The students who died were identified as Vishruti Banwari, Sneha Ambadkar and Ruchika Borikar, all residents of Ambhazari, he said, adding the bodies will be handed over to their families after a post-mortem.

Soldiers Challenge "Dilution" Of AFSPA In Top Court, Say No Police Probe
  • A group of over 300 soldiers has approached the Supreme Court, appealing against any "dilution" of AFSPA -- the law that gives them special powers in insurgency-hit areas. Citing several instances of police cases against army men in Jammu and Kashmir and Manipur, the petition said prosecuting soldiers who are doing their duty by the civilian authorities like the police and the Central Bureau of Investigations will lower morale and endanger national security.

    A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar said they will hear the petition on August 20.  

    In insurgency-hit areas, the Armed Forces' Special Powers Act allows soldiers to use arrest, use force and even open fire on anyone in contravention of the law. But over the years, there have been allegations of army excesses from residents from Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir.

    Two years ago, the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment, said excessive force cannot be used on people even in insurgency-hit areas while hearing a petition on extra-judicial killing. Last year, it upheld the decision, which had directed the government to probe every such case.

    Currently, the Supreme Court is hearing a case, during which it is expected to take a call on whether the police needs permission to file cases against Army personnel in insurgency-hit areas.

    The father of an army officer posted in Jammu and Kashmir has
    approached the court, seeking the cancellation of a police case against his son, who was leading a convoy that allegedly opened fire on a group of civilians during a protest in Jammu and Kashmir's Shopian in March. Three civilians had died.

    Seeking proper guidelines before cases against army men are filed, the soldiers' petition has pointed out that the Armed Forces' Special Provisions Act cannot be diluted without amending the law.  

    Contending that "the Petitioners believe that Sovereignty, Security and Integrity of the nation is at higher pedestal than even the Constitution of India" the petition argued that the ultimate sacrifice required of a soldier "cannot be sustained under a state of confusion or cloud as to the Bonafide Duty itself".

    The nation functions and thrives and flourishes "because the soldier zealously guards the frontiers and along with it, the Freedoms, Rights and Liberties, without caring for his own comfort, wellbeing, his family, his social responsibilities and even his own life," the petition said.

Business Affairs

RBI rejects Kotak Bank's promoter stake dilution plan, says it does not meet norms
  • Days after private lender Kotak Mahindra Bank said it had used the preference share allotment route to reduce promoter Uday Kotak's shareholding in the bank, the RBI rejected it saying "it does meet their promoter holding dilution requirement". In a regulatory filing on Tuesday, Kotak Mahindra Bank said it still believes that the bank's stake dilution plan meets the requirement, and assured to continue engaging with the central bank over the issue.

    "This refers to our letter dated August 2, 2018. RBI has today communicated to us that our PNCPS (perpetual non-cumulative preference share) issuance does not meet their promoter holding dilution requirement. We continue to believe that we have met the requirement and will engage with the RBI in this behalf," stated the bank.

    In its stock exchange filing on August 2, the bank had said that its PNCPS issuance committee had issued 8.10 per cent non-convertible PNCPS of the face value of Rs 5 each to reduce the promoter's stake in the bank. The provision is allowed under several provisions of Sebi, the Companies Act, the Banking Regulation Act, and RBI Basel-Ill norms, the bank had maintained.

    Under the plan, the bank issued Rs 100 crore PNCPS to investors at Rs 5 apiece, aggregating to Rs 500 crore, and hence increasing its paid-up capital to Rs 1,453 crore from Rs 953 crore. After the issuance of PNCPS, Kotak's shareholding in the bank had reduced to 19.7 per cent from 29.7 per cent.

    Interestingly, as part of the RBI's guidelines for new bank licences released four years ago, the Kotak Bank promoters were asked to reduce their stake to 20 per cent by December 2018, 15 per cent by 2020, and then 10 per cent. The aim of the guidelines was to diversify shareholding to reduce promoter control in an entity.

    However, as a percentage of post-issue equity share capital, the promoter group shareholding remains 30.3 per cent since preference shares do not count towards the equity share capital, reported BloombergQuint.

    The bank had earlier said that promoters only have 15 per cent voting rights under the RBI Regulations Act, which in itself is a reduction of control in an entity.

The journey of rupee's 2,000% fall against dollar since Independence
  • Given the record low of 70.08 per dollar that the rupee slipped to today, it's hard to imagine a time when it could hold its own against the greenback. Indeed, in 1948, you would have been able to buy a US dollar for less than Rs 4 but in the past 71 years, it has seen an over 21-fold depreciation. Here's a look at the factors that set it on the sliding path through the years.

    Foreign Borrowings

    At the time of Independence, there were no foreign borrowings on India's balance sheet. To finance welfare and development activities, especially with the introduction of the Five-Year Plan in 1951, the government started external borrowings.

    Back then the rupee was still pegged to the pound, so when the latter lost ground, so did the local currency. "Consequent to the devaluation of Pound Sterling, Rupee was automatically devalued to the same extent (as the Pound Sterling) on 18 September 1949," the RBI revealed in an RTI response in October 2013.

    Imports vs Exports

    As a developing economy, it was unavoidable that India would import more than it exports, which led to consistent balance of payments deficits. Despite this, and despite the spiralling external borrowings, which hit a peak in the 1960s, India managed to hold the exchange rate steady over the next decade - it had adopted a fixed rate currency regime after Independence. According to IANS, the rupee was valued at Rs 4.79 against a dollar between 1950 and the mid-1960s. During this period, substantial foreign aid helped delay the rupee's inevitable fall.

    Wars, Drought

    But matters came to head in 1965. On the one hand, the government was already reeling under a budget deficit and, due to its negative rate of savings, could no longer depend on external borrowings. On the other, the Indo-Pak war - coming so soon after the Indo-China war of 1962 - sent military spending skyrocketing, which did another number on the budget, right as the US and other nations withdrew foreign aid.

    This, along with the major drought that India suffered around the time which pushed up inflation drastically, forced then Prime Minister to devalue the rupee to 7.57 against the dollar in 1966 - a massive 58 per cent drop.

    Global Factors

    Over the next 25 years, the rupee continued to slowly depreciate against the dollar - its link to the pound sterling was severed in 1971 and it was directly linked to the dollar. This was on account of a host of factors such as political instability, lack of robust growth of the Indian economy held back by numerous scams and global factors like the 1973 Arab oil embargo, which widened India's trade deficit. And a high deficit means the country has to sell rupees and buy dollars to pay its bills, which further reduces the value of the rupee. In the bargain, the rupee sank to a fresh low of Rs 12.34 to a dollar in 1985, and was barrelling towards its third devaluation.

    Low Forex Reserves

    The first Gulf War (1990), which sent crude oil prices surging again, the downgrade by global credit rating agencies and the disintegration of the Soviet Union all brought on a massive balance of payment crisis in India. High inflation and low growth only made matters worse. By June 1991, India's forex reserves dipped to $1,124 million, just enough to cover around three weeks of imports. Hence, the rupee was devalued on July 1 and again on July 3, slipping a massive 18.5% against the dollar in total. To buy a dollar, one now needed to shell out nearly Rs 26.

    Annual Depreciation

    Then, in 1993, the government unified the exchange rate and for the first time the rupee was allowed to float. With the exchange rate now free to be determined by the market - with provisions of intervention by the RBI in case of extreme volatility - the rupee lost more ground and fell to Rs 31.37 against a dollar. Over the next decade it posted an average annual depreciation of close to 5% and by 2002-03, it had fallen to Rs 48.40 against the greenback.

    Then came a golden run, when the rupee started climbing against the dollar on the back of stellar FDI inflows wooed by the booming stock market, growing remittances and an uptick in export growth led by the IT and BPO verticals.

    Global Economic Crisis

    The rupee touched a high of Rs 39 to the dollar in 2007 but the global economic crisis of 2008 put a stop to the rally. By end 2008, the currency had hit a fresh low of Rs 51. Then, in 2012, the government's budget conditions worsened due to spill-over effects of the Greece-Spain sovereign debt crisis, and the rupee fell further to Rs 56.

    Factors ranging from volatile oil prices to vacillating foreign inflows, from global economic concerns to domestic issues like rising inflation have continuously rained on the rupee's parade ever since. Turkey's ongoing financial turmoil is just the latest factor weighing it down.

Pune's Cosmos Bank ATM server hacked, Rs 94 crore transferred to overseas accounts
  • Pune-based Cosmos Bank was hit by a cyber attack in which miscreants allegedly hacked the server of a cooperative bank and transferred over Rs 94 crore to accounts in a foreign country.

    In a complaint, which was filed at the Chatushrungi police station in Pune, the bank officials stated that they suspect a malware attack on the ATM switch server located at the bank's headquarters.

    According to the bank, the accused hacked into the ATM switch server and stole the details of multiple Visa and Rupay debit card owners. These details were used to carry out around 12,000 transactions out of India in which around Rs 78 crore were stolen.

    Similarly 2,800 transactions were carried out within the country and Rs 80 lakhs were stolen.  

    In another transaction, money was sent to Hanseng Bank in Hong Kong in name of a company named ALM Trading Limited. This beneficiary received around Rs 12 crore so the total amount lost is around Rs 94 crore.

    The top officials of the bank are expected to hold a press conference to explain the developments. Established in 1906, the Cosmos Bank is one of the oldest cooperative banks in India.

PM Modi to launch Ayushman Bharat tomorrow; India's most populous states not ready yet
  • On August 15, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM), almost half of the states would not be part of it. So far 20 states have agreed to implement the scheme which is being termed 'Modicare' on the lines of 'Obamacare' of the US. But only 12-15 states will launch the scheme that day as the others are not prepared to roll it out on time, says Dr Vinod K Paul, the chief architect of the scheme who is also a member of Niti Aayog. States like UP and Bihar may take another 6 months or longer to launch Ayushman Bharat.

    As for the states that are ready, patients will be able to walk into empanelled hospitals on the first day and receive cashless treatment upto Rs 5 lakh per annum for each family. Southern states such as Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka which already have health insurance schemes in place are far better prepared to introduce Ayushman Bharat. In fact, the Centre is initially using Telangana's technology backbone to launch NHPM.

    Announced in the 2018 Budget, the AB-NHPM was touted as the 'world's largest government funded health care programme'. While it might take a while, with participation at both the Centre and state levels, and a cover for 10.74 crore families, the scheme is set to meet expectations eventually.

    As per the scheme, states will devise their own modes and adequate funds will be provided, though the ratio will differ from state to state. For most states, funding will be shared in the ratio of 60:40 with Centre contributing the majority. The North Eastern states, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and J&K, will however, enjoy 90:10 funding ratio.

    Each state will need to create an apex body that will implement and monitor the scheme. The Centre's funding will be to this apex body. States like Telangana, MP, Assam, Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh and 8 others have opted for the trust model where the bills will be reimbursed directly by the government. Twelve states are expected to adopt the insurance model, where the government will pay an amount to an insurance company that in turn will pay the hospitals. Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and 6 others, for instance, have chosen the 'mixed mode implementation'.

    The government will also implement standard treatment guidelines to ensure that every patient receives quality treatment and nothing substandard. To make sure this is followed through, each empanelled hospital will have an 'Ayushman Mitra' to assist patients with the procedure. Moreover, there will be regular auditing and monitoring to keep the treatment meted out in check as well as a redressal mechanism will be in place.

    While it might appear otherwise, private hospital chains have no reason to complain. Private hospitals could get up to 40 per cent higher rates for a procedure over rates prescribed by National Health Protection Scheme (NHPM) or Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), provided they meet the following conditions:

    + 10% for NABH accredited hospitals
    + 10% for hospitals providing PG courses

    + 10% for hospital in 115 backward districts

    + 10% if state offers additional top-up

    Additionally, keeping in mind a key demand of the RSS and SJM, government insurance companies will be preferred over private or international players. States where government-owned insurance companies such as Life Insurance Corporation of India; General Insurance Corporation of India; National Insurance; Oriental Insurance; New India Assurance and United India Insurance will be allowed to match the bids of the private insurers. If they do agree to match the bids put forth by private insurance firms, the business will be divided 50:50 between them.

    The government has been reaching out to beneficiaries since April this year through Panchayats and Gram Sabhas. Beneficiaries are being selected on the basis of the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) data of 2011. Initially, beneficiaries would be identified through their mobile numbers before a unique ID is issued.

    Total outlay of the scheme in terms of the premium to be paid by the government to insurance firms will be discovered when firms bid for the business. Cost to government is not known yet but it expected to be much higher than Rs 12,000 crore that has been estimated so far.

After five-year high in June, wholesale inflation eases to 5.09% in July
  • Wholesale inflation eased to 5.09 (rpt) 5.09 per cent in July on account of cheaper food articles, especially fruits and vegetables, government data showed on Tuesday. The wholesale price index (WPI) based inflation was recorded at 5.77 per cent in June. In July 2017, it was at 1.88 per cent.

    The wholesale inflation in food articles category was (-)2.16 per cent in July as against (+) 1.80 per cent in the previous month, the Commere and Industry ministry data showed.

    Among others in the basket, vegetable prices fell by 14.07 per cent during the reported month as compared to a growth of 8.12 per cent in June. Likewise, there was an 8.81 per cent fall in wholesale prices of fruits in July as against a rise of 3.87 per cent in the preceding month.

    In pulses category, inflation stood at (-) 17.03 per cent as against (-) 20.23 per cent. The retail inflation eased to a nine-month low of 4.17 per cent in July, from 4.9 per cent in June, on account of cheaper food articles, data showed yesterday.

General Awareness

    Ease of Living index
    • What to study?

      For Prelims: Performance of various cities.
      For Mains: Ease of Living index and its significance.

      Context: Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has released Ease of Living Index.

      About the index:

      The index has been developed to allow city managers to get a grip on the city’s baseline and compare its performance across key indicators.
      The index covers 111 cities that are smart city contenders, capital cities, and cities with population of 1 million plus.
      The index captures the quality of life based on the data collected from the urban local bodies on four parameters, which were further broken down into 15 categories.
      The four parameters include institutional (governance), social (identity, education, health, security), economic ( economy, employment) and physical factors (waste water and solid waste management, pollution, housing/ inclusiveness, mixed land use, power and water supply, transport, public open spaces).
      Institutional and social parameters carry 25 points each, physical factors have a weightage of 45 points and economic factors five points totalling to a 100 mark scale on which cities were evaluated.

      Performance of states:

      Pune has ranked first while two more Maharashtra cities — Navi Mumbai and Greater Mumbai — figure in the second and third spots.
      Tirupati, Chandigarh, Thane, Raipur, Indore, Vijaywada and Bhopal also figure in the top 10 list in that order. Among other major cities, Chennai holds 14th rank, Ahmedabad 23rd, Hyderabad 27th, and Bengaluru 58th.
      Rampur in Uttar Pradesh has ranked the worst on the scale with Kohima and Patna on the bottom two and three ranks while Varanasi stands at 33.
      Kolkata is excluded from the index.

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