- The Goods and Service Tax council’s second meeting held recently.
2. This time it refrained from further rate rejigs.
3. Proposal to push digital payments by offering a cash-back to consumers using RuPay cards or the UPI platform have been incorporated in the council’s meeting this time.
4. Now, States will volunteer to run a pilot on these lines and a final decision will be taken after a detailed system-wide evaluation of such incentives.
5. The meeting also focuses on issues facing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
6. The government has set up a ministerial group to look into the problems faced by MSMEs since India moved to the GST regime signal that the government is not brushing aside the implementation issues that still trouble smaller players.
7. The new indirect tax regime has expanded India’s tax base and brought more firms into the formal economy, revenues have slipped after peaking in April this year.
8. As per the Moody’s Investor Service, revenue loss from the most recent tax cuts may be 0.04-0.08% of GDP annually.
9. The revenue generated in the first three months of this financial year is short of the revenue target a month for 2018-19.
10. This could be offset by stronger consumption-led growth and better tax compliance.
11. Firms with an annual turnover of less than ₹5 crore constitute 93% of the registered taxpayers under the GST
- Further easing of compliance for micro firms.
- Enhancing the threshold for mandatory use of e-way bills to track movement of taxable goods.
- According to a new breastfeeding assessment report published recently, around 6 out of 10 babies born in India are not able to begin breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
2. The report was compiled by a consortium of public health groups and agencies including government departments, All India Institute of Medical Sciences and UNICEF under the aegis of World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative and the Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI).
3. The report which cites the data from NFHS-4 revealed the following facts:
- India ranks 78 out of 97 nations when it comes to breastfeeding support services.
- Early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth is 41.5%
- Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is 54.9
- Inclusion of complementary feeding between 6-8 months is 42.7% and adequate complementary feeding and minimum acceptable diet among 6-23 months children is as low as 9.6%
- India has made some progress over the years; early initiation of breastfeeding has improved from 23.4% to 41.5% children breastfed within one hour of birth.
- According to the 5th Report of Assessment of India’s Policy and Programmes on Breastfeeding and Infant and Young Child Feeding in 2018, India score 45 out of 100 on 10 parameters under the category of policy and programmes.
- However, India performs better in terms of infant and young child feeding practices scoring 34 out of 50 on five parameters.
- Countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are making remarkable progress on policy scores and have increased breastfeeding rates.
- Bangladesh, with a population of 16 crores allocated 13 million dollars for a 5 year plan on infant and young child feeding recently.
- India is lagging behind on most of the indicators.
4. However, this has not kept pace with the stark increase in institutional deliveries which more than doubled during the same period, from 38.7% to 78.9%.
5. Report cites the following reasons for not able to begin breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
- Lack of supportive work environment
- Inadequate skills of health care providers.
- Caesarean deliveries.
6. According to the report mothers breastfeeding within one hour of birth is important because:
- It ensures that the infant receives the colostrums or fist milk, which is rich in protective factors.
- The WHO and UNICEF also recommend exclusive breastfeeding for infants up to the age of six months and thereafter complementary food with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.
- Recently, the Union Home Ministry decided to lift restrictions on foreigners to visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands chain.
2. The step was taken to boost tourism sector.
3. After lifting the restrictions, now foreigners can visit 29 inhabited islands without Restricted Areas Permit(RAP).
4. The 29 inhabited islands have been excluded from the restricted area permit notified under the Foreigners (Restricted Areas) order, 1963, till Dec 31, 2022, subject to certain conditions.
5. However, few countries are excluded from these restrictions such as:
6. Citizens of Afghanistan, China, and Pakistan would continue to require RAP.
7. For visiting Mayabunder and Diglipur, citizens of Myanmar will continue to require RAP, which shall be issued only with prior approval of the Ministry
8. To protect the environment and marine resources without affecting tourism, the Union Territory will follow the guidelines of Environment and Forest Ministry.
9. Separate approval of the competent authority would be required for visiting reserved forests, wildlife sanctuaries, and tribal reserves.
- Data from Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghave Das (BRD) medical college shows that majority of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) patients hospitalized in the last three years had scrub typhus.
2. The finding is important because scrub typhus can be treated easily if detected early.
3. There are various research findings related to scrub typhus such as :
a) Study conducted by Karnataka’s Manipur Centre for viral research:
- This was the first case of scrub typhus role came during 2014 study at BRD by researchers.
b) Chennai’s National Institute of Epidemiology:
- Conducted in 2015, the study found that out of 370 AES patients tested, 63% had antibodies to scrub typhus.
- While in 2016, out of 407 AES patients, 65% had the illness.
- These patients were given azithromycin, a treatment for scrub typhus.
- As a result, 35% of non-scrub typhus patients died, while only 15% scrub patients died, indicating that azithromycin was effective.
- These findings were published in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal in May this year.
c) Chennai’s Vector Control Research Centre (VCRC):
- These findings shows evidence for the role of scrub typhus comes from a study of trombiculid mites in Eastern UP.
- Findings show that the mites carried Orientia tsutsugumashi, the bacterium which causes scrub typhus.
- The study was published in Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases in July 2018.
- Unpublished research has shown an increase in infestation of rodents by trombiculid mites .
- The study revealed that scrub typhus incidence peaks during the monsoon season.
d) Indian Council of Medical Research:
- According to data shared by Indian Council of Medical Reseach, in 2017, over 50% of patients admitted to BRD in August-September were positive for scrub typhus.
4. About Scrub typhus:
- Scrub typhus, also known as bush typhus, is a disease caused by a bacteria called Orientia tsutsugamushi.
- Most cases of scrub typhus occur in rural areas of Southeast Asia, Indonesia, China, Japan, India, and northern Australia.
- Anyone living in or traveling to areas where scrub typhus is found could get infected.
- The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has called for transforming heritage buildings in Rajasthan into “economic assets” for the society.
2. INTACH is working for protection of natural heritage, geo-heritage, water bodies, stepwells, sacred groves, wall paintings and rock.
3. Economic benefits could be derived from these properties as an alternative to paying for their upkeep on a regular basis.
4. The demolition of these buildings would contribute global warming.
5. An exercise had been launched for mapping of natural heritage in Thar desert with local communities participation for modern planning.