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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 14th January, 2017

  • IASbaba
  • January 16, 2017
  • 2
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Jan 2017, Science and Technology, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 14th January 2017

Archives

HEALTH REFORMS SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

TOPIC: General Studies 2

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

Healthcare Data – Challenges and Reforms

Introduction

Apart from the increasing burden of communicable and non communicable diseases in India, another major challenge that needs to be taken care of is the quality of health sector data.

Health sector data in India is not of top notch quality and even suffers from consistency in terms of periodicity and coverage. There is also a major mismatch between the type of information available and what is required by various stakeholders in the health sector such as planners, scientists and researchers.

Government officials in India accept that data collection system needs to be completely revamped. More cohesion has to be present because different data sources lead to different conclusions. Even data from national level surveys such as the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4 and data under National Rural Health Mission suffer from inconsistency.

Healthcare Data Challenges

According to research and studies it has been observed that major gaps in the area of health sector data are as follows. Challenges and problems which need to be addressed are as follows:

  • Lack of data at the sub-State or the district level which makes planning for targeted interventions at the grass root level difficult.
  • Data collection at irregular intervals makes it tough to incorporate changes and reforms in the policy on a mid-term basis.
  • Incomplete data is a problem which increases the burden in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. Especially when data is incomplete in hospitals and health facilities in the smaller towns and districts it becomes difficult to get best results from policies.
  • The need for information to pass through multiple levels increases chances of discrepancies and delays.
  • Absence of health-care data from the private sector is a major problem especially at a time when 70 per cent of the health expenditure is related to private sector facilities.

Addressing the Challenges

  • As data quality is one of the prime concerns, there is a need to establish an independent quality control body that monitors the quality of available data vis-a-vis the utility of the data.
  • To ensure credibility and reliability of data systemic reforms are a must.
  • An important area that needs to be addressed is the need to match the reason for data collection with the manner in which it is collected. Personal professional targets and window dressing of figures should not be considered as the purpose of data collection.
  • Human resource development, capacity building and training of the enumerators of large-scale surveys will go a long way in improving the quality of data.
  • Irrespective of the organisation conducting surveys and creating policies, definitions for various health indicators need to be standardised across surveys.
  • Routine capturing of disaggregated data, without duplication is essential for reducing the efforts of data producers and ensuring results with higher efficiency.
  • Data should be collected in a manner that makes it useful for decision making, This can be done through proper training as well.

Conclusion

In addition to the above solutions we need to ensure that good quality data is also used by the people in an effective manner. Data quality is improving but the same is not being used by stakeholders. This low utilization of data reduces the encouragement and motivation to improve the data quality.

Good quality data is quite crucial for efficient allocation of our limited resources and

evidence-based, informed health policies require efficient data. Generating and maintaining high standards of data is essential for making health-care accessible and available to all.

Connecting the dots:

  • Health sector suffers majorly in terms of data collection and management. Discuss the problems in the area of healthcare data and suggest measures to overcome the same.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

TOPIC: General Studies 3

  • Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
  • Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Can India become a science and technology powerhouse?

In the recent Indian Science Congress held in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh (earlier this month), Prime minister Narendra Modi pledged to place India among the top three countries in the world in the field of science and technology (S&T) by 2030.

Though an ambitious goal, getting even part-way there is going to take some doing.

Reason:

India performs below its potential on just about every indicator of scientific progress and achievement there is: be it the amount of public and private funding earmarked for research, the number of prestigious awards won by Indian scientists working in Indian institutions, the number of patents registered in the names of Indians or the number of articles published in well-known peer-reviewed journals.

India has a long civilizational history of scientific achievement. But today the list of Indian scientists who have won the world’s most prestigious award, the Nobel, begins and ends with C.V. Raman.

The longer list of Indian-origin and Indian-born winners has 16 mentions—but that also only highlights the large-scale systemic failures that extend across institutions and manifest at all levels.

Advantage India:

At the Nobel Prize Series Exhibition (which was held recently at Science City in Ahmedabad), several Nobel laureates opined that India has a great potential to be a scientific power and consider investing more in basic & fundamental researches.

IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 14th January, 2017

What should India do to become a science and technology powerhouse?

Successive status of education reports have highlighted how educational outcomes among Indian school students are falling at an alarming rate.  The situation in institutions of higher education is hardly any better, with many elite institutions struggling to compete globally.

In the QS World University Rankings 2016-17, only two Indian institutions ranked among the top 200 universities in the world: Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (rank 152) and Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (rank 185).

Research institutions also suffer from government interference and lack of funding which, among other problems, makes them unattractive to rising talent that prefers greener pastures abroad.

Therefore, there is an urgent need for foundational work on the overall education system.

  • The government should focus on improving science education at the school level. Scientists could help develop course modules and scientific social responsibility, wherein premier laboratories and research institutions could partner with nearby schools and colleges to create an environment that supports scientific education and innovation, should be encouraged.

IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 14th January, 2017

  • The government should focus on strengthening the links between S&T and industry. If done right, this could potentially bring in the resources necessary to boost Indian science.
  • Currently, much of the funding comes from the government while private-sector investment (in the form of research and development centres, for example) is below par.
  • Overall, despite talk since the late 1980s of increasing S&T investments from the public and private sector to 2% of GDP (gross domestic product), the figure still hovers at around 0.9%. In comparison, South Korea leads the race, investing 3% of its GDP in S&T, while Japan follows close behind.
  • Another example is tiny Israel, which has not only nurtured a flourishing S&T ecosystem but leveraged its security challenges to build a robust defence industry. In India, it will be interesting to see if the Modi government’s flagship scheme to boost domestic manufacturing and its consequent efforts to woo foreign capital (specifically in defence) can do something similar.

Evolution of Science and Technology policy framework in India

IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 14th January, 2017

In recent years, the Indian Government has implemented several fellowship schemes to nurture human capacity for advanced research in the country.

  • The period between 2010-20 has been declared as the “Decade of Innovation” by the nation and the need for the establishment of National Innovation Council has been emphasised.
  • To fuel the growth innovation in science and technology STI (Science, Technology and Innovation) Policy 2013 was formed.
  • In 2008, Government launched Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) scheme, through which the Government awarded 2,150 research fellowships for doctoral research and 270 faculty awards for post doctoral researchers.
  • Following the Government’s initiatives, the number of researchers per million people has gone up from 140 during 2004–06 to 160 in 2010
  • As of December 2016, India and Israel announced plans to support R&D programs in science and technology sector, with an investment of USD1 million, by both nations.

Science Technology and Innovation Policy 2013

The key elements of the STI policy are:

  • Developing synergies between science, technology and innovation
  • Providing a fresh perspective on innovation in an Indian context
  • Charting a high-technology path for creating a science, research and innovation system in India
  • Promoting proliferation of scientific temper among all sections of the society
  • Enhancing skill for applications of science among the young from all social strata
  • Making careers in science, research and innovation attractive to the brightest students
  • Establishing world class R&D infrastructure for gaining global leadership in some select frontier areas of science
  • Positioning India among the top five global scientific powers by 2020
  • Encouraging private sector to invest in research and development in Science & Technology.
  • Setting up of large scale R&D facilities via PPP mode.
  • Setting up of regulatory framework for sharing IPRs between inventors and investors.
  • Migrating R&D outputs into commercial applications by replicating hitherto successful models as well as establishing new structures
  • Facilitating S&T-based high-risk innovations through new mechanisms
  • Triggering changes in the mindset and value systems to recognise, respect and reward performances that create wealth from S&T derived knowledge
  • Increasing R&D spending to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2034

KEY GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES

The Government of India has taken various steps to generate interest and promote investments in the Science & Technology sector

12th Five-Year Plan (2012–17)

Key focal points include:

  • Creation of major national facilities under partnerships
  • Programmes for centre-state technology partnership
  • Building educators for science teaching
  • Investments into mega science for creation of R&D infrastructure within India and abroad under partnerships
  • Creation of proper institutional framework in science & technology institutions to enhance R&D activities

National knowledge network

  • A state-of-the-art multi-gigabit (multiples of 10 Gbps) pan-India network is planned to link some 5,000 nodes in India
  • It will be the sole vehicle for international connectivity in future

National Innovation Council

  • 2010–2020 has been declared the Decade of Innovation to stimulate innovations and produce solutions for societal needs such as healthcare, energy, infrastructure, water and transportation

Improving Academia

  • Innovation universities would be set up as public private partnerships to develop new hubs of education, research and innovation
  • The Educational market in India has the potential of reaching USD150 billion by FY17 with the increasing demand for quality education

National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC)

Key focal points include:

  • Aims at promoting scientific thinking.
  • Communicating science & technology to masses using digital media, folk media and digital media.
  • Focus on training in science and technology communication, incentive programmes, production & dissemination of S & T software, development and research in S&T.
  • Important initiatives under NCSTC include Mathematics Awareness Resources & Initiatives (MARI), campaigns over Year of Scientific Awareness, the National Science Day, the National Children’s Science Congress, Science Express, etc.

Big Data Initiative (2016)

  • An innovative R&D perspective to promote big data science, technology and applications within the country.
  • Aims at developing core generic technologies, tools and algorithms for wide applications in industries, government and academia.
  • Extraction of useful knowledge hidden in in-size data repositories.
  • Understanding the current status of industry in terms of policy framework, distinct players providing services across sectors, market size, SWOT of industry, etc.

Connecting the dots:

  • Do you think India can become a science and technology powerhouse in the near future?
  • Making India a top destination for science and technology will require getting the basics right. Elucidate.

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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 14th January, 2017

 

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