9 PM Daily Brief – May 23rd ,2020

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9 PM for Main examination

GS-2

  1. Ayushman Bharat Positively Impact Lives
  2. What are the issues of contention between India-Nepal?

GS-3

  1. Analysis of RBI’s policy
  2. Analysis of Atma Nirbhar Mission

GS-4

  1. Work Culture

9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLy


1.Ayushman Bharat Positively Impact Lives

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-2- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

Context:  Recently, Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) crossed one crore treatments.

Ayushman Bharat

  • It was launched in 2018 as recommended by the National Health Policy 2017, to achieve the vision of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The scheme covers both prevention and health promotion.
  • National Health Authority is the apex body responsible for implementing the scheme.

There are two flagship programs under Ayushman Bharat program: Health and Wellness Centre and Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY).

A) Health and Wellness Centre: These centers seek to provide comprehensive health care, including for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services. They also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services.

B) Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY):It is the world’s largest health insurance/ assurance scheme fully financed by the government. Over 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable entitled families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) are covered under the programmed.

Features:

  • PM-JAY provides cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year, for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization across public and private empaneled hospitals in India. There are no restrictions on family size, age or gender.
  • It provides cashless access to health care services for the beneficiary at the point of service, that is, the hospital.

Achievements of Ayushman Bharat

  1. Free and cashless treatment: In India, the out-of-pocket (OOP) payments for healthcare is very high. Ayushman Bharat has successfully reduced OOP payments of millions of poor by providing free and cashless treatments at both public and designated private hospitals.
  2. Portability:A key design feature of PM-JAY is portability. This has ensured equal access to quality health services, especially amongst the poor and vulnerable migrant population.
  3. PM-JAY and Covid-19:
    • Testing and treatment for COVID-19 is free of cost under PM-JAY for the beneficiaries.
    • PMJAY has strengthened the network of hospitals and service capabilities to ensure continued service delivery to both Covid and non-COVID-19 patients. Since April 1, 2020, more than 1,385 hospitals have been empaneled.
    • The National Health Authority (NHA) manages the national COVID-19 helpline 1075 has played disseminated precaution advisories on Covid-19 to beneficiaries.
    • It has a facilitated more than 15,000 tele-consultations with doctors.
    • It is also working with the ICMR on data cleansing and is conducting call data analysis for determining urgent cases being sent to ICMR.
    • NHA is also supporting the government’s Arogya Setu mobile application.
  1. IT integration and data generation: PMJAY has helped in generating large volumes of data which may be used later for designing better and targeted health programs, effective medical management, optimizing cost and improving efficiency.

Conclusion: Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) has an important role to play during the Covid-19 pandemic. Along with the government, there should be active participation from the private sector in ensuring adequate supply of health services, medicines and essentials.

2.What are the issues of contention between India-Nepal?

Source: The Hindu, The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2- India and its neighbourhood- relations

Context: India inaugurated a road from Dhar Chula to Lipu Lekh (China border). It was followed by Nepal’s charge claiming that the stretch passes through Nepalese territory.

Dharchula to Lipu Lekh:                           

  • This road follows the traditional pilgrim route for the Kailash-Mansarovar yatra.
  • The conversion of the trekking route to a metaled road is a boon to both pilgrims and traders.
  • It would essentially cut down their travel time by three days each way.

Picture from Outlook India, portion in green is disputed area.

Flashpoint in relations:  

  • Nepal has officially launched its new political map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as parts of their territory amid the ongoing dispute with India.
  • Tensions have also been fueled by Mr. Oli’s jibe that the “Indian virus looks more lethal than the one from China”.

History of Lipulekh Pass:

  • Treaty of Sagauli, 1816: Before this treaty, the Nepalese kingdom stretched from the Sutlej river in the west to the Teesta river in the East. Nepal lost the Anglo-Nepalese War and the resulting Treaty limited Nepal to its present territories.
  • Arise of the present controversy:It has arisen since the Nepalese contest that the tributary that joins the Mahakali river at Kalapani is not the Kali river. Nepal now contends that the Kali river lies further west to the Lipu Lekh pass.
  • British time: The British used the Lipu Lekh pass for trade with Tibet and China. The Survey of India maps since the 1870s showed the area of Lipu Lekh down to Kalapani as part of British India. Both the Rana rulers of Nepal and the Nepalese Kings accepted the boundary.
  • For India: It was mentioned as one of the border passes for trade in a 1954 agreement with China, which was also reaffirmed in another trade agreement in 2015.
  • China re-opened the Kailash-Mansarovar pilgrimage route for Indians in 1981 and this pass has been used to walk into Tibet.
  • India did not exist in 1816 when the Treaty of Sugauli was concluded. India inherited the boundaries of British India. It cannot now unravel the historic past.

Possible Reasons for Nepal’s stand:

  • To hide government failures: The controversy has given Nepal’s PM an opportunity to hide his government’s incompetence to meet the basic needs of the people.
  • Deployment of armed forces at Chharung, close to Kalapani, in its Sudoor Paschim:The manner and timing of the deployment has raised eyebrows in New Delhi.
  • China factor for India: The ITBP is located in Kalapani because of its closeness to the India-China border. Indian forces are not there because of Nepal.
  • Dragging on border issues:
    • It is unfortunate that the respective Foreign Secretaries, tasked by PM and then Nepal leader Sushil Koirala in 2014 to discuss the boundary matter, have failed to find an acceptable date for a meeting since then.
    • When matters came to a boil in Kathmandu, the MEA’s response that it would convene the meeting after the pandemic had been dealt with was unnecessarily dismissive of an issue important to Kathmandu.
  • Internal Politics of Nepal: It is clear that the struggle within the ruling Nepal Communist Party has spurred Mr. Oli’s more combative posture.

Resolution to solve disputes:

  • The Nepal-India Technical Level Joint Boundary Working Group:
    • It was set up in 1981 to resolve boundary issues, to demarcate the international border and to manage boundary pillars.
    • By 2007, the group completed the preparation of 182 strip maps, signed by the surveyors of the two sides, covering almost 98% of the boundary, all except the two disputed areas of Kalapani and Susta.
    • It also ascertained the position of 8,533 boundary pillars.
  • The next steps:  
    • Approval of the strip maps by the respective governments (that of the Nepalese Government is still awaited)
    • The resolution of the differences of opinion over Kalapani and Susta
    • Speeding up the erection of damaged or missing border pillars.
  • Need of political will: The India-Nepal border issues are easily solvable if there is political goodwill and statecraft exercised on both sides.

Ties are unique between India and Nepal:

  • Self-respect of Nepal: India has been conscious of the self-respect and pride of the Nepalese people and always supported with measures like the free movement of peoples.
  • Nepal’s past contribution:
    • Its political leaders contributed to India’s struggle for freedom.
    • The only time since Independence that foreign troops were deployed on Indian soil was  in 1948-49. Nepalese soldiers under the command of General Sharda Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana came to India’s northern cantonments, depleted by deployments in Jammu and Kashmir and Hyderabad.
  • The people-to-people relationship: In the far corners of India, locals never turn against the Nepalese. It is the government-to-government relationship that generally lags.
  • Need for quiet diplomacy: Both sides should refrain from tough languages like mentioning China in bilateral disputes. It widens the door for someone else to foment more trouble. This is a matter best handled bilaterally.

Way Forward

Both sides must not delayany further in dealing with the disputes. The way to move forward is to formally approve the strip maps, resolve the two remaining disputes, demarcate the entire India-Nepal boundary and speedily execute the work of boundary maintenance.

3.Analysis of RBI’s policy

Source: The Hindu and The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS 3-Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

Context: In an unscheduled meeting, the monetary policy committee (MPC) of the RBI slashed the benchmark repo rate by 40 basis points.

RBI policy since the imposition of Lockdown:

  • Cumulatively, the MPC has cut rates by 115 basis points.
  • The repo rate now stands at 4 %.
  • The reverse repo rate is now 3.35%.

Trend in rates:

  • The MPC has reduced rates by 115 bps since March and 250 bps since last year.
  • Economic indicators point to a deep contraction in domestic and external demand:
    • Industrial output contracted by 16.7% in March.
    • Both exports and imports contracted by 60.3% and 58.6% in April, compared with a decline of 34.6% and 28.7% in March.
    • With such a massive supply and demand side shock, gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to be negative in FY21.
  • The reduction in policy rates was done despite food inflation increasing from 8.8% in March to 10.5% in April.

Expectation of rate cut:

  • Will reduce the cost of capital.
  • Ease the financial burden on businesses due to the extended lockdown.

MPC during lockdown: It will continue to prioritise economic activity over price management as growth is the real challenge with economic activity is at standstill.

Low enthusiasm from rate change:

  • Only a Sentiment booster: The latest cut may be no more than a sentiment booster as economic activity is at its rock bottom and there are not many investment proposals that may benefit from the lower interest rate.
  • Benefit for existing beneficiary: Existing borrowers may be the only beneficiaries of the rate cut at this point in time.

Expected effects of Monetary policy:

  • Moratorium on loans: The extension of the repayment moratorium on loans is a welcome measure. A large proportion of commercial borrowers have availed themselves of the moratorium but retail borrowers have not taken to it in a big way.
  • More opting for moratorium: There may be more opting for it given that the extended lockdown has left many businesses in distress and salaries have either not been paid or are being disbursed with delays.
  • Not to pay interest dues in one shot:  RBI Allowed accumulated interest on working capital loans to be converted into a term loan repayable by the end of this fiscal. Borrowers would otherwise have been faced with the difficult task of paying up their interest dues in one shot at the end of the moratorium period.
  • The increase in group exposure limit for banks: Increase to 30% from 25% will help large corporate borrowers who may find themselves handicapped in raising funds from the markets now.
  • Demand for credit is likely to remain low:Firms and households will postpone their decisions with continuing economic uncertainty.
  • Holding back by bank: Risk averse banks are likely to hold back even if there are borrowers.
  • Challenge of liquidity flows: Higher-rated borrowers are likely to continue to get easy funding while lower-rated borrowers will struggle.
  • Role of credit guarantee: The credit guarantees provided by the central government for lending to MSMEs, NBFCs, MFIs could help moderate sectoral risk aversion but only to some extent.

Future expectation from RBI:

  • The greater clarity over the scale of the RBI’s open market operations and the Centre and states’ borrowing programme for the year is needed.
  • Expectation of relaxing norms for loan restructuring by lenders.

Way Forward

The RBI has acted in an adept manner as there is no way of knowing the true extent of distress now. Monetary policy may have greater space to operate but there are limitations to what it can achieve. Fiscal support too is needed.

4.Analysis of Atma Nirbhar Mission

Source Indian Express

Syllabus – GS 3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

Context – Atma nirbhar mission focuses on supply-side in economic package while neglecting demand-side

 Atma Nirbhar Mission – It is the fiscal stimulus package of Rs 20 lac crores to provide relief measures to economic sectors reeling under the stress of COVID and its impact. This is aimed at becoming more local and self-reliant, especially when global supply chain gets disrupted due to unforeseen situations.

Issues

  1. Neglected sectors– The already distressed sectors such as airlines, automobiles, hotels, restaurants, and tourism have not found mention in the package. Also, there is insufficient allocation for public health which already is in a dilapidated state.
  1. Stress on supply-side – The package focuses on the supply side which includes long term structural reforms like agriculture marketing reforms. These measures will not give stimulus to economy in short term,
  1. No clarification on actual sum of fiscal stimulus –According to leading economists and firms, the actual fiscal cost is not 10% of GDP as the relief package has more of credit guarantee and liquidity support (around 75%) and fiscal spending is very less.

Further, it is not clear that .8% to 1.2% of GDP expenditure is over and above the Budgeted expenditure or will it be funded by expenditure cuts in the budget of FY21.

Suggested Solution

In this equation of GDP, in current situation, government expenditure holds the key to revive economy as it promotes the following virtuous cycle of growth:

Way Forward – Supply side reforms, in long term, are must for becoming 5 trillion economy and bringing structural reforms in all sectors. However, in short term Indian economy needs fiscal stimulus from government side which can boost consumption and investment to revive the economy. 

5.Work Culture

Source Indian express

Syllabus – GS 4 – Ethics and Human Interface

Context – The lockdown due to COVID 19 has changed the work culture, especially in corporate business

Traditional work culture – Traditionally, in both private and public sector, employees and employer go to the working place where all work related to formal and informal activities are carried out. It involves doing official work to hosting lunch for all.

Benefits of traditional work culture –

a.Human contact– The working place ensures that employees and employer get to know each other well by spending significant time working together and participating in informal events.

b.Freedom from domestic stresses– Workplace provides a focused environment to work where freedom from domestic stresses is there.  For instance, women employees have double burden of office work and care work provided at home. Workplaces give them better focused environment to work which is not possible in work from home.

c.Provides work Identity– Individual’s self esteem and social standing are provided and boosted because of work place, especially in India. That’s why money was spent in the first place on well-designed offices in specific locations that people feel proud to go to.

The new normal – Work from Home

The lockdown restrictions across the world has given impetus to work from home model. In this model, employers as well as employers perform all work-related activities at home – submitting projects to organizing meetings using digital space.

Benefits of Work from home Model

  1. Reduced overhead cost – The Company’s overhead costs which involve rentals, phone bills, travel bills etc are reduced by significant margin which adds to profit share of company.
  2. Flexibility to employees – Employees have considerable flexibility in terms of work hours. Also it saves their time spent on commuting to workplace and back which in turn reduces the travel fatigue.
  3. Quality time with family –Workers get to spend quality time with family members at home which add to their happiness and can significantly improve work performance.

Issues related to Work from Home Model

  1. Lost human touch and social capital– The workers working online or over telephone do not necessarily develop team spirit which in turn affects the quality of work and productivity of the company.
  2. Double burden– Work from home includes doing office work at home and simultaneously dealing with family members and their uninterrupted demand. This adds double burden to worker especially female employees. For this, many companies are also defining work from home hours, emailing hours and calling hours so employees get mental and emotional space.
  3. Lack of high quality digital connectivity– Poor digital connections interrupts the work hours as well as office meetings which again affects the productivity of company.
  4. New norms for employees– This model demand updated norms for employees and re-organization of business model of companies where workplace is an important aspect of better productivity.

For instance – Companies compensate employees based on the city where they are located because staying in larger cities is expensive. So in long term work from home there will be a need to restructure the salary components as well to balance company costs as well as afford better talent remotely.

Way Forward – Work from home is the emerging unconventional approach to tackle the COVID but the rise of gig economy in India will make this model permanent. This requires dealing with its issues comprehensively so that interests of all stakeholders are taken care of.


9 PM for Preliminary examination

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