IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 6th March 2018
Committee to look into issues relating to Fintech space
Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Indian Economy
- The Centre has set up a steering committee to go into various issues relating to Fintech space in India.
- The committee will be headed by Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs.
- The committee will consider means of using data with GSTN and data residing with information utilities such as credit information companies (CICs) and others in open domain with a view to developing applications for financing of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
- It will also develop regulatory interventions e.g., regulatory sandbox model, that will enhance the role of Fintech in sectors identified for focused interventions.
- The ideas is to facilitate ease of doing business in the Fintech sector.
- The committee has also be asked to consider how Fintech could be leveraged in critical sectors of economy.
- The committee will work with government agencies such as UIDAI to explore creation and use of unique enterprise identification number.
It will also look into the possibility of international co-operation opportunities in Fintech with countries such as Singapore, the U.K., China and others.
Article link: Click here
Enhancing women safety by using technology
Part of: Mains GS Paper I, II – Social empowerment, Government interventions
- Enhancing the safety net for women – especially for those travelling in cabs- Telangana police are integrating their HawkEye mobile application with the apps of online cab service providers and private companies.
- With this, an SOS message sent by a passenger travelling in a cab would automatically reach the Telangana police control room. Presently, such message sent through the app of an online cab service would reach only the company command centre.
- Once this is done, an SOS message sent by a passenger using Ola cab would simultaneously reach Telangana Police Control Room and the Ola company command centre.
- Police command centre staff would alert the local police station and the nearby police patrolling party using Global Positioning System tracking service.
Article link: Click here
TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- India and its neighbourhood- relations.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
Transforming the subcontinent: India-China-Pakistan cooperation
Despite being neighbors, India and Pakistan are among the least integrated nations in the world. Because of their unending mutual hostility, South Asia too has become the least integrated region in the world.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is in a coma. Sadly, the most populous region in the world has also remained home to the largest number of poor people in the world.
- There are no direct flights between their capitals — New Delhi and Islamabad.
- The frequency of Delhi-Lahore and Mumbai-Karachi flights have become minimal.
- At less than $3 billion annually, trade with Pakistan accounts for a meagre 0.4% of India’s growing global commerce.
On the Indian side, it is said that terror and trade cannot go together. The Narendra Modi government has raised the bar higher — terror and talks cannot go together.
On the Pakistani side, resolution of the Kashmir issue has become a precondition for any substantial bilateral cooperation.
The needs of common citizens of India and Pakistan- employment, education, health care and food-and-environmental security- can be met only through regional cooperation, not regional rivalry.
BRI as part of the solution:
A three-way India-China-Pakistan cooperation is possible, and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) provides a practical framework for such partnership.
The government’s opposition to the BRI is based, among other things, on the basis that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project under the BRI, violates India’s sovereignty since it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). It undermines India’s long-term development and security interests.
- CPEC does not recognise PoK to be Pakistan’s sovereign territory.
- Both China and Pakistan have stated that they are open to India joining CPEC.
China has also expressed its readiness to rename CPEC suitably to both address India’s concerns and to reflect the project’s expanded regional scope.
Benefits for India:
- The BRI will connect Lahore and Amritsar (also Delhi and the rest of India), the two sides of Kashmir (which all Kashmir-based political parties want), Sindh and southern Punjab with Gujarat and Rajasthan, and Karachi with Mumbai.
- By joining the renamed CPEC, India would gain land access, through Pakistan, to Afghanistan, Iran, Central Asia and western China.
- The CPEC-plus-India can also be linked to the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Corridor, thus creating a grand garland of connectivity and integration for the whole of South Asia.
- The rename CPEC is also indispensable for the success of two other mega projects that are critical for India’s energy security and accelerated economic growth — the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) and Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipelines.
Connectivity, cooperation and economic integration are the only realistic bases for any future India-Pakistan settlement of the Kashmir dispute.
- An alternative connectivity project by the “Quadrilateral” of the U.S., Japan, Australia and India. This is unlikely to take off. Even if it does, its developmental benefits to India will be limited since it will seek to keep China and Pakistan out.
- India’s gains due to Chabahar are modest, and nowhere comparable to those that would accrue by India having a direct land access to Afghanistan through Pakistan.
The proposed connectivity initiative would thus create strong new bonds of regional cooperation and interdependence, could also help resolve three long-standing geopolitical problems in the region, in which countless people have been killed — terrorism, Kashmir and Afghanistan.
To realise this vision of a resurgent South Asia, two obstacles will have to be removed blind nationalism and the unfriendly designs of extra-regional powers.
Connecting the dots:
- India-China-Pakistan cooperation can transform the subcontinent — joining a renamed CPEC would be a good start. Analyze.
TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
- Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders
For the success of Modicare (NHPS)
India recently began a bold experiment in the delivery of healthcare that, if successful, will bring medicine and treatment to 500 million poor and near-poor Indians.
The success of the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS)—known as Modicare, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi—depends crucially on whether people sign up for the service, whether they use it, and whether hospitals participate.
For India, the sheer scale of its programme magnifies its many challenges, including how to communicate the benefits of the plan, and how to encourage enrolment.
Reference article: National Health Protection Scheme: Challenges
The demand side:
- No matter how generous the eligibility criteria and coverage of Modicare, it will have limited effect unless eligible households enrol.
Its predecessor, RSBY, suffered low uptake rates. Although it cost participants just Rs30 to enrol, only 54% of eligible families participated.
Door-to-door enrolment may help.
- Modicare’s impact will also be blunted if households do not use the programme to obtain care.
For example, RSBY only increased utilization by 1 percentage point, to 2.8% of households.
Reasons being- many households attempted to use the card but failed, many others forgot their insurance card or did not know to use it, the hospital or insurance company could not process the insurance card or rejected coverage.
- The government must expend more effort on information and education campaigns.
- Structural changes planned under Modicare, such as using Aadhaar and hospital-based biometric ID, should reduce the paperwork and hassle costs for beneficiaries.
- In addition, Modicare must ensure that hospitals have functioning payment systems and do not turn away patients.
The supply side:
- Health insurance is worthless without accessible healthcare facilities. This is a critical obstacle for Modicare. Nearly half of Indian children live in villages without such services.
Modicare cannot fix this problem in the near term. However, over time, by increasing the number of covered patients, an insurance programme can incentivize the private sector to build more facilities.
- A study shows that only few hospitals registered under RSBY actually provide any treatment to RSBY beneficiaries. An important reason is that RSBY pays hospitals lower-than-market rates for care.
To address this, Modicare must pay more for treatment, and it should scale prices depending on the cost of land and labour in different locations.
Sound financing and a strong data infrastructure are also important.
- Any financing scheme must be backed by a strong data backbone, without which claims can’t be tracked and paid, and without which the plan will ultimately fail.
India must leverage its IT prowess to get the data backbone right.
- With programmes of this scale, roll-outs matter.
At Rs5 lakh in annual per capita hospital expenses, Modicare is over 15 times more generous than the Central government’s previous health care programme (RSBY), and between two to three times more generous than any existing state programme.
Insurance premiums are estimated at Rs1,100-1,200 per household per year, and the full programme could cost Rs12,000 crore.
Efficient design and management are key to using these significant resources wisely.
With an estimated 7% of India’s population pushed into poverty each year due to medical expenditures, Modicare intends to provide an essential safety net for the poor.
The government can learn from the lessons of RSBY to get Modicare’s implementation right. The health of millions of Indians depends on it.
Connecting the dots:
- Discuss key features of National Health Protection Scheme(NHPS). Also analyze the demand and supply challenges involved.
Opacity in the banking sector
Rolling back free trade
Kabul’s risky overture
Getting realistic about farm incomes
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