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14TH APRIL 20TH APRIL

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NATIONAL
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Rajasthan Special Courts Act, 2012 passed

The Union government aims to impart vocational training to over 50 crore young people across the country by 2022. This project, to be implemented with technical support from Germany, will prepare a pool of highly skilled employees and entrepreneurs. At the Gulbarga MSDC, young people will be imparted training in various trades so that they become more employable. Vocational training will not only help the young hone their skills but also increase their chances of getting jobs. The MSDC in Gulbarga will turn out to be a centre of excellence providing training of world standard. Every year, 1,800 students will be trained in short-term and long-term courses in this centre.
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CH IA R S O N AC I C AD L E EM Y
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The Rajasthan Assembly has passed a significant anti-corruption legislation Rajasthan Special Courts Act, 2012 which would facilitate the Government to confiscate and attach any disproportionate property amassed by the corrupt public servants. The act is already in place in Bihar and Orissa. The legislation brings everyone who draws salary from the Government, including the Chief Minister, under its purview even the judicial officers. Under the Act if a notice is served by the presiding officer of the Special Court on any suspected property worth beyond the known source of income of its possessor, that asset could not be transferred or sold. The value of the property would be assessed on the basis of the prevailing market rates. All the provisions in the Act are time-bound, with a set time period for various actions. The Special Courts would have to decide on any case in six months' period and only under unusual circumstances a decision could be postponed. Even in that case the postponement, the delay could not be beyond three months, If the Special Court finds the public servant whose property is confiscated innocent later, the same would be returned to the person with 5 per cent interest on its value.

The Union government is focussing on creating a workforce by establishing Industrial Training Institutes. Of the 9,465 ITI s in the country, 4,000 were established during the last five years. There are almost 13.4 lakh trainees in these institutes. Apart from this, 741 vocational training institutes in several States have trained 2.6 lakh people in the last five years.

More incentives for ASHAs

The Mission Steering Group, the highest decision making body of the NRHM - has approved the proposal for involving ASHAs in activities such as spacing between births, promoting iodised salt and village sanitation. Thus the accredited social health activists (ASHAs) - the first port of call for health cares under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) - will be entrusted with additional responsibilities, albeit with better monetary incentives. The ASHAs will now have to work as a counseller for the newly-married couples and those with one child to have their first child after two years of marriage and space their children for at least three years. For this, the ASHAs would be paid an incentive of Rs. 500 per couple she manages to convince for spacing between births. It has also been decided to involve ASHAs in organising the monthly village health sanitation and nutrition committee (VHSNC) meeting for which she will be paid an incentive of Rs. 150 a month. This meeting will be followed by the meeting of women and adolescent girls where the health and sanitation needs of adolescent girls would be discussed. Importantly, it has also been decided to further incentivise ASHAs by providing an additional Rs. 100 for every child who receives complete first year immunisation and Rs. 50 for every child who further completes two years of immunisation as per the stipulated schedule. As of now, ASHA gets Rs. 150 for mobilising children to immunisation session sites. The Centre has also identified 303 anaemia endemic districts in the country where each ASHA will be given an honorarium of Rs. 25 a month for testing 50 salt samples for checking iodine content.
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Skill training for 50 crore people by 2022 planned

Thus the additional responsibilities along with the monetary incentives have been proposed to encourage and motivate ASHAs for better work.
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Convergence of MPLADS with Panchayat Yuva Krida aur Khel Abhiyan and the Urban Sports infrastructure Scheme

The Group of Interlocutors Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and M.M. Ansari appointed by the UPA government to identify the political contours of a solution to the problems of the State of J&K has submitted its report 'A New Compact with the People of Jammu and Kashmir'. The group identifies three aspects to the harmonisation of relations across the LoC: ensuring the same quantum of political, economic and cultural freedoms obtains in all parts of the erstwhile princely State; expansion of trade and travel; and resolution of the water-sharing issue. The report stated that the situation on the Pakistani side of the LoC was rather different from that on the Indian side. There is lack of freedoms and autonomy in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the Northern Areas or Gilgit-Baltistan. A large number of legal and constitutional reforms and changes on the ground will be required on the Pakistani side if the same political, economic and
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CH IA R S O AC NI C AD L E EM Y
Group of Interlocutors Report on J&K

Government has allowed convergence of MPLADS with Panchyat Yuva Krida Aur Khel Abhiyan (PYKKA) and the Urban Sports Infrastructure Scheme (USIS) of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. According to this funds from Member of Parliament Local Development Scheme (MPLADS) can be converged with Panchyat Yuva Krida Aur Khel Abhiyan (PYKKA) with the objective of creating more durable assets. MPs may recommend under MPLADS, works such as Development of playfields only of fixed and durable nature under PYKKA including leveling of playgrounds in hilly areas, construction of boundary wall, etc. in villages and blocks from out of the shelf of PYKKA projects if otherwise eligible under MPLAD Scheme. Similarly, in the urban areas, convergence with the Urban Sports Infrastructure Scheme (USIS) will also be permissible for creation of durable sports assets such as multi-purpose sports halls, athletic tracks, football, hockey turf, etc. as per the provisions of guidelines on MPLADS. The accounts of Expenditure will be strictly maintained separately for both MPLADS, PYKKA and USIS.

cultural freedoms are to be offered across the LoC. However, the 2009 Gilgit-Baltistan reforms package brought the Pakistani side of the State closer towards harmonising relations with the Indian side. It is directed towards granting internal political autonomy to the Northern Areas of Jammu and Kashmir. On easing trade and travel, the report recommended opening up of more cross LoC routes and relaxation of restrictions on who could travel to include pilgrims, medical patients and tourists. The proposed routes across the LoC are; JhanganiMirpur, Mendhar-Kotli, Jammu-Sialkot, SkarduKargil, Turtuk-Khapulu, Chamb-Nonian to Mirpur (across Munawar-Tawi), Gurez-Astoor-Gilgit and Titwal-Chilham (across the Neelam Valley). Further the measures to ease travel would include issue of travel permit on the strength of the Permanent Resident Certificate; completion of security clearance within a maximum period of 30 working days; provision of multiple entry-exit permits valid for one year; and permission to relatives to see off or receive travellers at the border post. Also, in order to ease trade, the report suggested that fairs be organised in towns closest to the LoC on both sides. Annual or biannual haats or market fairs could be held between the check points on both sides of the LoC. The list of export and import items should be enlarged regardless of their provenance and without any restrictions on the quantity of traded goods. Customs duties should be exempted on a reciprocal basis for a period of three years. The report also recommends the setting up of consultative committees with members from each legislature on both sides, along with experts, to facilitate activities in areas such as agriculture, environment protection, tourism, exchange visits, and medical relief measures during epidemics and natural disasters. On the waters issue, the report stated that the limitations imposed by the Treaty to enhancing water storage capacities on the rivers on the Indian side has curbed both the hydro-power generation capacity of the State as well as stymied efforts for irrigating land, the report pointed out. These factors, in turn, have failed to attract investment in the State. Under the Treaty, India was duty-bound to comply with the obligations as an upper riparian State, and in any case, it was next to impossible to unilaterally abrogate the Treaty as there is no exit clause.
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Further it recommended an integrated development plan for the conservation of the Indus Basin. This would take into full account the linkages between water, land, the users, the environment and the infrastructure. It would have to focus on better cooperative management of shared water resources. The report has also called for granting "financial autonomy" and renegotiating a financial arrangement between Srinagar and New Delhi in order to make the state self-reliant. The members have also asked for time-bound reservations for Kashmiri students in national educational institutes to make up their loss due to militancy in the last twenty years. On the issue of human rights violation the panel proposes redressal of all cases of alleged human rights violations" through the mechanism of payment of adequate financial compensation and/ or unconditional apology by the culprits". It has sought release of all political prisoners, stone-pelters and militants if they have not been charged with serious crimes. On internal devolution, the interlocutors' report calls for establishment of three regional councils for Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh with equal constitutional status and vested with legislative, administrative and financial powers, and further devolution down the line to the Panchayati Raj institutions. It also talks of reservations in all these bodies to women, weaker sections of society and communities uprooted from their homeland due to war and endemic conflict such as Kashmiri Pandits and other migrants to ensure they are adequately represented. The report also proposes the setting up of a Constitutional Committee that would review the applicability of Central statutes extended to Jammu and Kashmir after the July 1952 Delhi Agreement. The CC will be headed by an eminent jurist and have members from the State and the rest of India who "inspire confidence in all stakeholders." The review process - once ratified by Parliament and the State legislature - would eventually end the extension by presidential order of further Central laws to the State. One of the key recommendations of the report is that Parliament will make no new laws applicable to Jammu and Kashmir unless these relate to the country's internal and external security and its vital economic interest.
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The Union Cabinet has today approved the Public Procurement Bill, 2012. The Bill seeks to regulate procurement by Ministries/ Departments
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CH IA R S O N AC I C AD L E EM Y
The salient features of the Bill are:
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of the Central Government and its attached/ subordinate offices, Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs), autonomous and statutory bodies controlled by the Central Government and other procuring entities with the objectives of ensuring transparency, accountability and probity in the procurement process, fair and equitable treatment of bidders, promoting competition, enhancing efficiency and economy, safeguarding integrity in the procurement process and enhancing public confidence in public procurement. The Bill would create a statutory framework for public procurement which will provide greater accountability, transparency and enforceability of the regulatory framework. (a) The Bill provides for codifying the fundamental principles governing procurement, essential for achieving economy, efficiency and quality as well as combating corruption and legally obligates procuring entities and their officials to comply with these principles.

(b) The Bill ensures that competition will be maximised in procurement in the interests of economy, efficiency, integrity. (c) Providing for adequate flexibility to take into account diversity of needs and types of procuring entities, types of procurement needs and methods of procurement. (d) Providing for a strong framework of transparency and accountability through a public procurement portal and a grievance redressal system in which an independent mechanism, chaired by a retired High Court Judge, would review grievances. At present, the General Financial Rules, 2005 govern procurements by the Central government while some ministries and departments have specific procedures or manuals to supplement these rules. There is no legislative framework governing procurement. The bill is based on the recommendations of a committee on public procurement headed by Vinod Dhall.

Government bans use of live animals for education and research

The Public Procurement Bill, 2012

The Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has banned the use of live animals in dissection and other experiments in educational and research institutions. But the scientists conducting new molecular research will be exempted from the ban. Based on the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960), the MoEF has issued guidelines to the
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CH IA R S O AC NI C AD L E EM Y
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University Grants Commission, ministry of health and family welfare, Pharmacy Council of India and the Medical Council of India to discontinue dissection and experiments with live animals in universities, colleges, research institutes, hospitals, laboratories and instead use alternatives like computer simulation. The MoEF says that the central government is duty bound to use alternatives to avoid unnecessary suffering or pain to animals. Ministry states that effective alternatives in the form of CDs, computer simulations and mannequin models are available; they are not only effective as absolute replacements for animals in teaching anatomy or physiology but are also superior learning tools in teaching of pharmacy or life sciences.

The guidelines were framed based on the duties of the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments and Animals (CPCSEA), which has been constituted under the provisions of Section 15 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960). The committee comprises seven nominees - three nominees appointed by CPCSEA and the remaining four from educational institutes. Further, "Animal ethics" would be included as a chapter in an appropriate course of study. In order to sensitize students and other stakeholders, the departments shall display the highlights of the Acts in the laboratories and elsewhere. The departments may also adopt other modalities to popularise the science and sentiments of the provisions of these Acts.

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INTERNATIONAL
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Pakistan sets terms for re-engaging with U.S.

The past year has seen U.S.-Pakistan relations steadily deteriorate following a series of incidents, including the Raymond Davis affair in the beginning of 2011, the May 2nd killing of Osama Bin Laden by U.S. forces in Abbottabad, and the September Senate testimony of then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, that the Haqqani network was "a veritable arm of Pakistan's InterServices Intelligence agency." The relationship hit a new low following a November border incident in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed by NATO air strikes. Pakistan responded by shutting down the all-important NATO supply route and downgraded diplomatic engagement as its parliament initiated a thorough review of the bilateral relationship.
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Pakistan's Parliament gave a unanimous but conditional nod to re-engaging with the U.S. In the new scheme of bilateral relations proposed by Parliamentary Committee on National Security proposes the immediate end to drone attacks within Pakistani territory, stop infiltration on any pretext including hot pursuit, and ban transit of weapons by land or air into Afghanistan. The Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) headed by Raza Rabbani earlier said that the reopening of NATO supply lines should be contingent upon a thorough revision of the terms and conditions by which NATO supplies transit through Pakistan; adding that such goods should be subject to Pakistani scrutiny. In the revised report of PCNS it also stated that no new verbal agreement should be entered into by any arm of the government and all such existing agreements "will cease forthwith''. Though Islamabad had refused to engage with the U.S. at all levels for three months after the NATO attack on Pakistan Army outposts along the border with Afghanistan, contacts between the two countries had begun over the past few weeks with both the military and the civilian side of the government showing a willingness to re-engage with Washington. However, the policy directives for conducting the relationship in future would be given by Parliament.

Recently a Pakistan parliamentary committee has released its recommendations for "resetting" the parameters of U.S.-Pakistan relations. The recommendations from the parliamentary commission include calling for the U.S. to end drone strikes on Pakistani territory; to apologise for the November 26, 2011, NATO strike; to start paying fees for the transit of NATO shipments for the war in Afghanistan; to refrain from "hot pursuit" operations by U.S. forces from Afghanistan into Pakistani territory; and to increase transparency of the activities of foreign security contractors. The resolution stated that Pakistan must not allow private security contractors to operate on its soil and that other nations wouldn't be permitted to establish bases in the country, meeting opposition party demands. The resolution added that "no overt or covert operations" can be carried out in Pakistan by foreign security forces.

Sudan and South Sudan Crisis

US-Pakistan relations reset

Sudan has been at civil war for almost its entire post-colonial history, starting in 1956. After decades of fighting for independence from the north, southern Sudan seceded on July 9, 2011, and became the Republic of South Sudan, six months after nearly 99 percent of the region's voters approved the split in an internationally backed referendum. Even after southern secession on July 9, 2011, the two new states of Sudan and South Sudan continues to face insecurity within their borders. Shortly before southern secession, the Sudanese government took aggressive military action against its civilians in the border areas of Abyei and South Kordofan, displacing close to 200,000 civilians combined. Violence in Darfur continues. The major reason for crisis is oil dispute. In 2005, the country's opposing political parties signed a peace accord that ended Africa's longestrunning civil war, which killed an estimated 2.2 million people. According to the accord revenues from oil produced in South Sudan were to be shared with Sudan as 50:50 ratio. But the referendum of 2011 seized the continuation of this accord due to which dispute over revenues from oil increases.
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As about 75% of the oil lies in South Sudan but the pipelines and refineries are in the north. Thus after independence of South Sudan, to cover up the losses related to oil revenue Sudan has imposed transit fee of 32-36$ a barrel which accelerated the dispute further. South Sudan wants it to be low as $1. The oil dispute escalated into violence, with the two nations clashing militarily around the border.
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North Korea's heralded long-range rocket test of Unha-3 rocket ended in failure, disintegrating in mid-air soon after blastoff and plunging into the sea.

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CH IA R S O AC NI C AD L E EM Y
N. Korean long-range rocket launch failed vvv

North Korea says the aim of the launch was to put a satellite into orbit - a move marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of national founder Kim Il-sung. But the US and other nations say the launch constituted a disguised test of long-range missile technology banned under UN resolutions. The debris fell into the Yellow Sea off South Korea and its navy launched a salvage operation to retrieve the debris, despite warnings from Pyongyang last week not to attempt such an operation. North Korea conducted a similar rocket launch in 2009. On that occasion US and South Korean analysts said the rocket failed to reach orbit - but North Korea said it was a success.

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ECONOMY
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TRAI seeks power to grant telecom licences

The rise in prices of certain agricultural commodities, including some essential commodities, in recent months has come to the notice of the Government. The fundamentals of demand and supply in the physical market decide the prices of commodities but there have been complaints in some quarters that excessive speculation in futures markets have also contributed to this price rise. The futures market only acts as a platform for price discovery and price risk management for the physical market participants. Now after the complaints the Forward Markets Commission (FMC) is keeping a watch on the situation and has been asked to use all the regulatory tools available to keep a check on the
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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), proposed to the government that it should be given the task of granting telecom licences. It has recommended three levels of unified licence for the telecom sector. TRAI has recommended that there should be three levels national level, service area level and district level. One time non-refundable entry fee for unified licence shall be (a) Rs.15 crore for national level unified licence; (b) Rs.1 crore for each service area level unified licence except for Jammu & Kashmir and North East Service areas where the entry fee will be Rs.50 lakh each, and (c) Rs.10 lakh for each district level unified licence. In the new licensing regime, the spectrum has been delinked from the licence. Earlier, DoT used to issue separate licences for separate services, and in case of mobile services, spectrum came bundled with licences. It was in this licence and spectrum allocation process in 2008, massive 2G scam to the tune of over Rs.1.76-lakh crore was allegedly committed. Now, DoT has not only made licence technology neutral but has also delinked it from spectrum; which means that a company can take a licence and is free to offer any service. And for acquiring spectrum, a market-driven mechanism has to be followed.

excessive speculation in the futures trading in commodities and specifically agricultural commodities. The Commission has already implemented higher margin requirements for trading in agri-commodities and has also reduced position limits for essential commodities. The Secretary, Department of Consumers already conducting an enquiry into the recent fluctuations in the commodity futures market for guar seed and guar gum and the report is expected to be received within a fortnight. To advise the Government and the FMC, it has been decided to form advisory committees for all commodities including agri-products which would consist primarily of physical market participants such as representatives of farmers, producers, processors, exporters, domain experts and other stakeholders. These advisory committees would advise the Government and the FMC on how to bring about better alignment between the physical markets and the futures market so that the farmers and hedgers are substantially benefited from the futures trading which is its primary purpose. It may be noted that the Forward Markets Commission is an independent regulator. However, the Chairman, FMC keeps the Government fully informed of all the important developments in the market.

RBI cuts repo rate

Government Constitutes Committees on FMC

Advisory

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has cut the policy rates by 0.50 percentage points, signalling banks to cut the lending rates. The short-term repo rate (at which banks borrow from RBI) has been cut from 8.5 per cent to 8 per cent. The reduction signalled deceleration in growth, and softening of inflation. RBI expected inflation to rule at 6.5 per cent for March 2013. Accordingly, it projected a GDP growth of 7.3 per cent for the current year. Further the central bank has come out with diktats on consumer friendly measures such as abolition of pre-payment charges and offering zero balance account with minimum facilities like cheque book and ATM to all customers. The central bank also directed the banks to provide existing customers a unique customer ID code (UCIC) by April 2013.
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Repo rate and reverse repo rate:

A reverse repo is simply the same repurchase agreement from the buyer's viewpoint, not the seller's. Hence, the seller executing the transaction would describe it as a "repo", while the buyer in the same transaction would describe it a "reverse repo". So "repo" and "reverse repo" are exactly the same kind of transaction, just described from opposite viewpoints. The term "reverse repo and sale" is commonly used to describe the creation of a short position in a debt instrument where the buyer in the repo transaction immediately sells the security provided by the seller on the open market. Effect on inflation

A reduction in the repo rate will help banks to get Money at a cheaper rate. When the repo rate increases borrowing from the central bank becomes more expensive. In order to increase the liquidity in the market, the central bank increases or decreases the rate. Thus inflation gets automatically controlled.
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The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is planning to develop international standards for the information business process outsourcing (BPO) industry which currently does not have any such standards but only follows best practices.

In today's era of liberalization and globalization, quality of products and services is one of the key factors for the success of any organization. Performance excellence is an important element of

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A repurchase agreement is the sale of securities together with an agreement for the seller to buy back the securities at a later date. The repurchase price should be greater than the original sale price, the difference effectively representing interest, called the repo rate. The party that originally buys the securities effectively acts as a lender. The original seller is effectively acting as a borrower, using their security as collateral for a secured cash loan at a fixed rate of interest.

competitiveness which leads to efficient and effective operations. Quality not only includes tangible aspects, but also, intangible issues, such as social responsibility of an organization towards environment, stakeholders, etc. India has made tremendous strides in the IT and telecom sectors, which are recognized worldwide. The new standards will help in retaining the place of prominence by providing quality service to international clientele without compromise.

Business process outsourcing (BPO) is the contracting of specific business task operations and responsibilities to a thirdparty service provider. It is divided as:

(a) Horizontal BPO: Horizontal BPO involves function-centric outsourcing e.g. outsourcing in procurement, payroll processing, HR, facilities management and similar functions. (b) Vertical BPO: A vertical BPO focuses on providing various functional services in a number of industries as Healthcare, financial services, manufacturing and retail simultaneously.

BIS to Develop International Standard for BPO Services

Knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) is a form of outsourcing, in which knowledge-related and information-related work is carried out by workers in a different company or by a subsidiary of the same organization. KPO business entities provide typical domain-based processes, advanced analytical skills and business expertise, rather than just process expertise as done by BPO.

India has a winning edge over other countries because of the following reasons. (a) Availability of English speaking, skilled human resources in plenty. (b) Availability of cheap work force to offer cost effective BPO Solutions. (c) Government's support to develop the industry. (d) Availability of advance technology at par with western countries.

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INDIA AND THE WORLD


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India, Pakistan close to new visa agreement


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The 11th Meeting of the foreign ministers of the Russian Federation, the Republic of India and the People's Republic of China held in Moscow on 13 April 2012. JOINT COMMUNIQUE of the Eleventh Meeting states that:
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l The Ministers supported advancing practical

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India and Pakistan is likely to announce a new liberal visa regime by next month to facilitate easy movement of businessmen and to give a fillip to trade. India and Pakistan have been working hard behind the scenes to do away with the 1974 visa agreement and put in place a liberal regime that would allow more free movement for people-topeople exchange. The new provisions are likely to allow the businessmen from both countries for multi-entry visas for more than one year with access to multiple cities. It will provide one year multi entry visa to those businessmen whose credentials are certified by the chambers on both sides as FICCI (India) and FPCCI (Pakistan).

RIC SUMMIT 2012

The Ministers underlined the importance of cooperation in the field of disaster management and appreciated the outcome of the trilateral programme for exchange of information and expertise on the use of geospatial technologies in monitoring and forecasting flood and drought organized in Hyderabad, India on 24-26 May 2011. They also welcomed the outcome of the 4th RussiaIndia-China Trilateral Expert Meeting on Disaster Management in St. Petersburg, Russia on 6-9 September 2011 and identified priorities for further cooperation in the trilateral format.
cooperation in the trilateral format in the areas of emergency response, health care, agriculture, business, energy and innovation & high technology, acting in close coordination with

efforts made in these areas by different multilateral fora. Ministers emphasized on the need of finding collective solutions to global challenges such as regional conflicts, WMD proliferation, terrorism, transnational organized crime, illicit drug trafficking, natural and man-made disasters, financial and economic destabilization, food shortages and climate change. The Ministers affirmed that Russia, India and China will closely cooperate in addressing these challenges. The Ministers stressed the importance for the Asia-Pacific region to establish an open and transparent security and cooperation architecture responsive to the legitimate interests of every country in the region and built on universally recognized norms and principles of international law, recognition of the indivisibility of security and mutual respect and confidence. The Ministers expressed deep concern over the continuing situation in Afghanistan and stressed the importance of the international community remaining engaged in Afghanistan. They called on the international community to deal firmly with terrorist groups to obviate the risk of Afghanistan sliding back to being a safe haven for terrorists and extremists, threatening the region and beyond. Further the Ministers stated that the withdrawal of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) should be guided by the security situation on the ground and the capability of Afghan National Security Forces to take care of the security of their country. The Ministers noted that ISAF should fulfill its task in accordance with the mandates of UNSC resolutions. The Ministers emphasized the urgent need for the international community to counteract illicit drugs production in and trafficking from Afghanistan. They reaffirmed the need for a comprehensive reform of the U.N., including its Security Council, with a view to making it more effective, efficient and representative. Russia and China reiterated the importance they attach to the status of India in international affairs and support its aspiration to play a greater role in the U.N.
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l They recognized Iran's right to peaceful uses of

The salient outcomes of the meet are:


(a) The new gates were opened at the Attari

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India's Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Pakistan's Commerce Minister Mohammad Amin Fahim met in New Delhi to enhance greater economic engagement between business communities of both sides and deepen bilateral cooperation for mutual prosperity of their people. There has been a substantial increase in the list of commodities permitted to be imported from India. As per the Pakistan Government's order of 20th March, 2012, a Negative List of 1209 tariff lines has been announced; In accordance with the Pakistan Cabinet decision complete phasing out of Negative List by December 2012 is subject to further negotiations between the two countries.
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(b) (c) (d) (e)

nuclear energy consistent with its international obligations, and support resolution of the issues involved through political and diplomatic means and dialogue, including between the IAEA and Iran, and urged Iran to comply with the provisions of the relevant U.N. Security Council Resolutions and extend its full cooperation to the IAEA. The Ministers underlined the necessity of assisting other U.N. member states in better implementation of the U.N. Global CounterTerrorism Strategy and increasing the number of parties to the U.N. anti-terrorism conventions, and promoting the implementation of Security Council resolutions. The Ministers expressed concern over the increasing use of information and communication technologies in ways threatening the security of nations as also international peace and security. In this context, the Ministers noted the need for the international community to formulate relevant norms and rules. The Ministers expressed support for the efforts of Mr. Kofi Annan as the Joint Special Envoy of the U.N.-Arab League, including his proposal for early deployment of the U.N. observer mission. The Ministers agreed that major economies should in a precise and timely manner coordinate efforts to facilitate the strong, sustainable and balanced global growth. They expressed particular concern over persisting development gap between the North and the South, and stressed that steps to reduce this gap could enhance global growth. The Ministers decided to hold the next Ministerial meeting in India.

Integrated Check Post (ICP) for trade. The new arrangements shall streamline movement of trucks across the border and significantly enhance the flow of trade through land route. The new infrastructure will enable a substantial increase in the movement of goods traffic across the border. Also, it will now be possible for trade to be conducted over longer hours during any working day. India and Pakistan have agreed to draw a road map for allowing a whole spectrum of items for trade through the land route - AttariWagah. The products include pharmaceuticals and related products, cement, livestock, newsprint, petrochemicals, fabric and raw jute. At present, 150-odd items are allowed to be exported to Pakistan through the land route and by truck. After the pruning of the negative list by Pakistan last month, the number of items India could export has gone up to nearly 7,800. Ministers expressed possibilities of opening more land customs stations between both countries which would enhance greater economic engagement between business communities of both sides. It was agreed that discussions would continue at the official level, to draw a roadmap for further reductions in the SAFTA sensitive lists. While reducing the SAFTA lists, both sides would appropriately consider requests received for tariff lines to be removed. It was also noted that the respective Central Banks are examining issues relating to opening of bank branches of both the countries.

Commerce Ministers of India and Pakistan meet at New Delhi

India and UK agree to push Trade and Investment

Shri Anand Sharma, Commerce, Industry and Textiles Minister met his British counterpart Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Dr. Vince Cable and the Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr. George Osborne at the 8th round of India-UK Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) Meeting. The JETCO was established on 13 January 2005 in New Delhi to steer the strategic economic partnership between the two countries following the historic Joint Declaration "India-UK towards a new and dynamic partnership" between Prime Ministers Dr. Manmohan Singh and Tony Blair in September 2004 in London. The JETCO has been conceived as a business driven institutional
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framework to enhance trade and investment both ways.

The outcomes of the meet are:


(a) Both sides agreed to concentrate on Education and Skills Development and innovation and healthcare technology, particularly cardiology. (b) In the advanced manufacturing and engineering sector the meeting identified several projects like collaboration between BAE systems and Mahindra & Mahindra, JV between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Rolls Royce and collaboration between Bhushan Power & Steel and CDE Asia Limited for immediate implementation. (c) A dedicated website of the UK- India Skills Forum has been launched. (d) India stated the need for improving the regulatory environment for investments because Indian companies who want to acquire companies in the UK have been facing considerable delay and long legal hassles. (e) India expressed concern over the issue of the restrictions imposed on non-EU immigration into the UK which is adversely affecting the operations of Indian companies in the UK. (f) India invited the British companies to investment in the infrastructure development projects in various parts of India including the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and Bangalore-Chennai corridor.

2nd India-Azerbaijan Inter- Governmental Commission Reviews Bilateral Economic Relations

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The 2nd Session of the India - Azerbaijan InterGovernmental Commission on Trade (IGC), Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation held in Baku, co-chaired by Mr.Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, Minister of State for Commerce & Industry, Government of India and Mr.Huseyngulu Baghirov, Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Republic of Azerbaijan. The meet has drawn the attention towards the necessity of establishing the International NorthSouth transport corridor (INSTC) to improve the connectivity problems between the two nations and identifying issues for the smooth functioning of the Corridor. The development of the corridor would lead to saving in transportation costs and time. Further the meet also recognizes the need for early finalization of a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) and the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between the two countries to encourage investment flows and elevate investor's confidence. A Protocol was signed at the end of the meeting identified key areas of cooperation such as pharmaceuticals, energy, transport, agriculture and IT sectors and also suggested steps to overcome the existing barriers. It also recommended specific measures like finalisation and implementation of agreements to give a legal basis and provide comfort to the economic and financial relationship.

14 April - 20 April, 2012

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY


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Modern farming methods proposed by experts India's farmers need to change with the times to enhance their efficiency". Experts laid emphasis on giving a fillip to farm technology and underscored the need for adopting modern methods to boost farm productivity. Several practical suggestions for augmenting agricultural growth, which in turn would increase farmers' prosperity, were made at the interaction attended by agricultural experts and scientists. While advocating an action plan for evolving improved plant varieties, experts called for employing advanced technology for production, undertaking research for developing diseaseresistant varieties and formulating strategies for dealing with climate-driven events such as droughts, floods and temperature fluctuations. According to the experts Plant biotechnology could help address issues related to limited resources like water and fertile land, impact of climate change and growing dependence on chemicals such as fertilisers and pesticides, pointed out the speakers. The significance of machinery was highlighted for effective and quick agricultural operations. The farm machinery is useful for the works of deep ploughing, land levelling and other operations. For threshing and harvesting, multipurpose machineries are imperative, while machines used for drying crops are manufactured in a variety of designs and sizes to cover the diverse requirements of different crops. As agriculture is providing jobs to millions of people, the incomes are low for most of them. This gap could be filled through the use of technology, development of stress-tolerant plants, protection of plant varieties and better water management. The participants also stated that the use of modern technology for agricultural production would be the most plausible solution to combat

14 April - 20 April, 2012

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food insecurity and related challenges. Agricultural research and technological infusion are the keys to strengthening domestic agriculture, ensuring sustainable growth, reducing farm losses and augmenting farmers' incomes. India launches New Generation Strategic Missile AGNI-V Setting a new milestone in the country's Integrated Missile Development Programme, India's maiden Long Range Ballistic Missile (LRBM) AGNI-V (A-5) has been successfully flight tested from the Wheeler Island (Orissa). The significance of the success lies in the fact that Agni-V is the most formidable missile in India's arsenal, with the longest range. With this grand success, India joins the U.S., Russia, France and China, which have ICBM capability. With India's policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons, Agni-V will provide the country with depth in deterrence. Agni-V has been designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The salient features of the missile are: Range upto 5000km;Three stage solid propellant; 17 m tall; capable of carrying a nuclear warhead of 1.1 tonnes; Can hit targets in large parts of China, including Beijing, Pakistan and South Asia; Greater accuracy due to better guidance and navigation system; Composite Rocket Motors and propulsion systems entirely indigenous A number of new technologies developed indigenously were successfully tested in this A5 Mission. The redundant Navigation systems, very high accuracy Ring Laser Gyro based Inertial Navigation System (RINS) and the most modern and accurate Micro Navigation System (MINS) ensured the Missile reach the target point within few meters of accuracy. The high speed onboard computer and fault tolerant software along with robust and reliable bus guided the Missile flawlessly.
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BRIEF BACKGROUND Prithvi was the first of the missiles developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), which was initiated in 1983. After the successful launch of Prithvi-1 in February 1988 and Agni in May 1989, the United States and other developed countries imposed technology embargoes on India under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), adversely affecting the availability of electronic devices such as computer processor chips, radio frequency devices, electro-hydraulic components, maraging steel and composite materials such as carbon fibre. Then the DRDO embarked on a massive programme to overcome this and adopted a consortium approach by roping in many of its laboratories, private industries and universities, as a result the DRDO developed critical components such as phase shifters for phased array radars for the Akash missile; magnesium alloys for Prithvi; and servo-valves, resins and carbon fibres for re-entry systems of Agni. The missiles that have been inducted into the armed forces include Prithvi-1, Prithvi-II, antiship Dhanush, surface-to-air Akash and surface-to-surface Agni-1 (700 km), Agni-II (2,500 km) and Agni-III (3,500 km). Among the strategic systems, the Agni missiles form the bulwark of India's nuclear deterrence strategy, which is based on the no-first-use of nuclear weapons policy. The first in the series was Agni-II with a range of 2,500 km, followed by Agni-1 (700 km), Agni-III (3,000 km), AgniIV (3,500 km) and Agni-V (5,000 km) now. Agni-1, which is Pakistan-specific, was built in a record 18 months after the Kargil conflict. Agni-1, Agni-II and Agni-III have been inducted into the Army. The forum discussed on various issues like: administrative reform and cyber-security, NextGen Farming, Future of technology in Agriculture, Learning and Distance Education, and Mobile Technologies with a focus on 'financial inclusion' etc. World IT Forum 2013 to be held in Paraguay WITFOR World Information Technology Forum (WITFOR) was initiated by the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) to take advantage of the developmental opportunities offered by digital technologies and the need for developing countries and developed countries to collaborate to benefit from such opportunities. Started in 2003, IFIP has organised WITFOR every other year in cooperation with the government of the host country and many other stakeholders WITFOR investigates successful, sustainable ICT strategies in developing countries and examines different initiatives and projects on effective, context sensitive development and use of ICT applications. In particular the WITFOR events are intended to:
14 April - 20 April, 2012

Agni-1 is a single-stage missile, which is 15metre tall and weighs 12 tonnes. Agni-II is a two-stage missile, 20-metre-long and weighs 17 tonnes. Agni-III is also a two-stage missile, which is 17 metres long and weighs 50 tonnes. All Agni missiles are propelled by solid fuel and can carry nuclear warheads.
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World IT Forum 2012 The World IT Forum 2012 held in New Delhi emphasized on the role of ICT in agriculture, education, health and e-governance, within the overall theme of ICT for sustainable human development. WITFOR is an initiative of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) and is being organized by IFIP every second year since 2003 in cooperation with the government of the host country and other stakeholders. Representatives from over 30 countries attended WITFOR 2012 to share their knowledge, views and best practices in the use of IT for governance and delivery of key public services brought together on a common platform, allowing them to showcase successful working models of the use of ICT for development.
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(a) Help put ICT-enabled development initiatives on the agenda of different organisations, governmental bodies, and groups currently involved in information and communications technologies. (b) Work with different groups to ensure that the issue of ICT diffusion and sustainable effective use is on the agenda of senior policy makers and political leaders. (c) Assist international organizations and donor agencies to build issues of the spread of ICTs and access to information

into their loan and funding programmes with adequate financial and institutional allocations. (d) Be more pro-active in using new technologies explicitly to reduce existing social tensions and conflicts. (e) Encourage scholars, analysts and researchers to put the issue of electronic equity higher on their research agendas. The inaugural WITFOR was held in Lithuania in 2003, followed by Botswana in 2005, Ethiopia in 2007 and Vietnam in 2009.

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2 - MARKERS
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Children from weaker sections can now have access to private schools

To mark 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between two nations, a festival of Indian cinema and culture is opens up in Russia. The 10-day festival will feature the screening of 15 Indian films, including "Three Idiots," "Fashion" and "A Wednesday," as well as Qawali music performances by the Nizami Brothers group. The Open India programme also includes fashion-shows, photo exhibitions, cooking shows, lectures and masterclasses. Reciprocating Open India, a festival of Russia will be held in India later this year.
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The government proposes amendment of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, to include registration of marriages under the purview of this law. This will provide legal protection to couples, especially in cases of inter-religious matrimony. The Union Cabinet has also approved amendment to the Anand Marriage Act, 1909, to provide for registration of marriages of Sikhs. The proposed Bills will be beneficial to women, protecting them from unnecessary harassment in

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Children from the disadvantaged sections of society will now have access to private schools as the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. The Act makes it mandatory for all schools, except minority unaided (religious and linguistic minorities included), to reserve 25 per cent of seats for children from the disadvantaged sections, the burden of which will be borne by the government.

matrimonial and maintenance cases. It will also provide evidentiary value in matters of custody of children, right of children born from wedlock of two persons whose marriage is registered and the age of the parties to the marriage. While marriages of Sikhs along with those of Buddhists and Jains are currently registered under the Hindu Marriage Act, Muslims, Parsis, Christians and Jews have separate Acts for registration.

World trade to slow down to 3.7 % in 2012

Indian cinema cultural fest begins in Moscow

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has projected a further slowdown in world trade, pegging the growth at 3.7 per cent for 2012. World trade expanded in 2011 by 5 per cent, a sharp deceleration from the 2010 rebound of 13.8 per cent. It attributed the slowdown to the global economy losing momentum due to a number of shocks, including the European sovereign debt crisis. Multiple economic setbacks during 2011 dampened growth beyond expectations and led to a stronger than anticipated easing in the fourth quarter, according a report released by the WTO.
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Haryana bans use of word handicapped

Registration of marriages to be made compulsory

The Haryana government has banned the use of expression 'handicapped' as it violates and undermines the dignity of persons with disability. The expression 'handicapped' is against the spirit of the Constitution, the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, and, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to which India is a state party.
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New President of World bank

Korean born American health expert Jim Yong Kim has been selected as the new president of World Bank.

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14 April - 20 April, 2012

EDITORIALS
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Beyond the Right to Education lies a school of hard knocks

ASER study

However, our collective enthusiasm for the court's decision would turn out to be misplaced if anyone bothers to do basic math. According to a study published online by Dr. Wilima Wadhwa of Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), enrolment in private schools in 2008 was 22.6 per cent. While this figure is likely to have increased since, over 70-75 per cent of our children still attend government schools. Even as private schools reserve 25 per cent of seats for economically backward children, the vast majority will still be schooled in government-run institutions. Moreover, most children in rural areas attend government schools. According to the District Information System for Education 2010-11, as many as 84 per cent of children in villages attend government schools. If the RTE Act has to be implemented in letter and in spirit, the government cannot ignore the quality of education it provides under its roof just because it has "won" the reservation battle with private institutions. Even as the government makes private schools "socially responsible," it still has to bear the onus of educating the majority of children. Further,
14 April - 20 April, 2012

CH IA R S O AC NI C AD L E EM Y
Three factors abroad

The Supreme Court's recent mandate that private unaided non-minority schools should reserve 25 per cent of seats for underprivileged children is being hailed as a landmark ruling. The spirit of the decision is indeed laudable as it reflects the egalitarian ethos of the Right to Education (RTE) Act. Thus, as private schools open their doors to children from marginalised sections of society, the government pats itself on the back for engineering a social revolution. Aside from the logistical complications this entails, the government's congratulatory mood is both premature and misguided for a number of reasons. Undoubtedly, education is the quintessential passport to greater opportunities - be they economic, academic or social. As the RTE Act holds, all children, regardless of their family backgrounds or individual profiles, should have access to a meaningful education that empowers them to read critically, problem-solve analytically and think imaginatively.

the assumption that private schooling is superior to a government education is based on the fact that children in the former tend to outperform the latter in examinations. But that is a superficial reading of facts. Once we scratch the surface, we find that other factors also contribute to children's better outcomes in private schools, as indicated in a study conducted by Dr. Wadhwa. When parental education, tuition classes and economic disparities are controlled for, the difference in reading scores between government and private schools falls drastically from 20 per cent to five per cent. In addition, we have to recognise that private schools differ vastly in terms of the quality of education they provide. This is why there are serpentine queues from the early hours of the morning for admissions into kindergarten in a few reputed schools. The scramble for seats is evidence of the dearth of quality education. Just herding children into private schools is not going to ensure their learning unless teachers are sensitised and trained to deal with children with different profiles. According to a study conducted by Wipro and Educational Initiatives, there are significant differences in the scores of children attending schools affiliated to the various national and State boards. Besides, children in the "top" private schools also exhibit rote learning and prejudiced thinking on sensitive socio-cultural issues.

Thus, we cannot overlook the fact that our educational system, both government and private, is in need of serious overhaul. In 2007, McKinsey and Company published a report that analysed why some school systems in the world ranked highly in international assessments of literacy, numeracy and problem-solving year after year. Top performing countries included Belgium, Finland, Japan, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Singapore and South Korea. While the countries sported vast differences, both culturally and politically, three factors regarding their education systems were common to all high performing nations. First, a teaching job in these countries, unlike in India, is a high-status profession. In addition to receiving salaries comparable to other well-paying jobs, teacher training courses are highly selective
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A U.S. study

A study in the United States revealed that the vocabulary of a three-year-old child of professional parents was 1,100 words whereas, a child whose parents were on welfare had a vocabulary of just 525 words. Under the RTE, poor children were admitted in 2011 into Shri Ram School, New Delhi. An article in the Wall Street Journal quoted the principal, Manika Sharma as saying: "The teachers have come into my office and broken down. They say, 'Help us. There is no learning happening for the other affluent children. What we achieved in one week with kids before is taking three weeks.'" Writer John Gardner aptly says, "The schools are the golden avenue of opportunity for able youngsters but they are also the arena in which less able youngsters discover their limitations." As private schools open their doors, educators have to ensure that children from poor homes do not feel threatened by their more able and affluent peers, both academically and socially. Schools need resource personnel who can counsel and help these children realise their potential. In addition to supplementary remedial classes that help students bridge the academic divide, all children should be sensitised on getting along amicably. Even as the child who comes to school in a chauffeur driven car, studies alongside the chauffeur's child, the government cannot shy away from upgrading infrastructure, enhancing teacher quality and promoting educational attainment in
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What is UHC?

and admit only the cream of graduates. Second, teachers are provided intensive training and new recruits are mentored on the job. In our country, teachers tend to work in isolation and inexperienced teachers are expected to handle a class on their own without additional guidance. Third, in the topperforming countries, schools try to offer the best possible education for every child by supporting those who lag behind. These schools monitor student performance closely and intervene when children fall behind by employing special educators who are trained in remedial instruction. Thus, both government and private schools need to implement systemic changes. The coming academic year is an apt starting point when the RTE goes into effect nationally. Private schools need to welcome poor children wholeheartedly and prepare to meet the educational demands that this reservation will bring. Our educational establishments are generally insensitive to children with learning difficulties with most schools lacking formal remedial programmes. As children from weaker sections enter their portals, the need for such services is only going to increase.

public schools. As a society, we need to make a concerted effort to achieve educational excellence, both government and private. Private educators and the government have to work synergistically to loosen the shackles of our strictly stratified society. Euphoria over the Supreme Court's nod for the RTE Act could evaporate if we do some hard math. Source: The Hindu
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The road to universal health care

The best form of providing health protection would be to change the economic system which produces ill health, and to liquidate ignorance, poverty and unemployment. The practice of each individual purchasing his own medical care does not work. It is unjust, inefficient, wasteful and completely outmoded ... In our highly geared, modern industrial society, there is no such thing as private health - all health is public. The illness and maladjustments of one unit of the mass affects all other members. The protection of people's health should be recognised by the Government as its primary obligation and duty to its citizens." These are the words of the distinguished Canadian surgeon, Norman Bethune, who, in 1936, called for universal health protection in which health services would be provided to all through public funds. He pointed out that the major causes of ill health among the poor in Canada, at that time, were: financial inability to pay, ignorance, apathy and lack of medical service. These are true of present-day India, where health insecurity continues to increase with growing economic prosperity.

Universal health coverage (UHC) has now been widely adopted by Canada and many other developing countries both as a developmental imperative and the moral obligation of a civilised society. India embraced this vision at its independence. However, insufficient funding of public facilities, combined with faulty planning and inefficient management over the years, has resulted in a dysfunctional health system that has been yielding poor health outcomes. India's public spending on health - just around 1.2 per cent of GDP - is among the lowest in the world. Private health services have grown by default, without checks on cost and quality, escalating private outof-pocket health expenditures and exacerbating health inequity. While the National Rural Health Mission and the several government funded health insurance schemes have provided a partial response, out-of-pocket expenditure still remains at
14 April - 20 April, 2012

Four priorities

Increasing public spending on health is the first immediate requirement. The President of India has affirmed that "to attain the goal of universal health care, my Government would endeavour to increase both Plan and Non-Plan public expenditure in the Centre and the States taken together to 2.5 per cent of the GDP by the end of the 12th Plan." However, even the doubling of public financing will not be adequate to support all the components of a fully evolved UHC. Priorities need to be defined. The first priority for achieving UHC, as the Prime Minister has pointed out, should be "a determined effort to strengthen our public health systems." Primary health care must be improved, starting with sub-centres, the first health post for the community. By staffing them with well-trained non-physician health care providers, both facilitybased and outreach services can be provided without being doctor dependent. District hospitals too should be strengthened to provide high quality secondary care, some elements of essential tertiary care and training to different categories of health care providers. The second priority should be to improve the size and quality of our health workforce. Without this, the promise of UHC will remain an empty entitlement. Since primary health care is our first priority, resources must be devoted to the production of competent and committed community health workers for the frontline, midlevel health workers or AYUSH doctors for the subcentres, and general and specialist nurses as well as non-specialist doctors for primary health centres. More specialists are needed for higher levels of health care including the district hospitals. New
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Role of the private sector

71 per cent of all spending, without coverage for outpatient care, medicines and basic diagnostic tests. The High Level Expert Group (HLEG) established by the Planning Commission has submitted a comprehensive framework for providing UHC in India. A health entitlement card should assure every citizen access to a national health package of essential primary, secondary and tertiary care, both inpatient and outpatient. The HLEG is very clear that services included under UHC must be tax funded and cashless at delivery. User fees are to be abolished because they are inefficient, inadequate and iniquitous. Contributory social insurance is not appropriate for countries like India where a large segment of the workforce - close to 93 per cent - is in the unorganised sector and vast numbers are below or near the poverty line.

nursing and medical colleges should be preferentially set up in States which presently have very few, linking them to district hospitals. Public health competencies must be increased through inter-disciplinary education which is aligned to health system needs. Improved management of all of these human resources must involve better incentives for recruitment and retention, cadre review and creation of well defined career tracks. The third priority should be to provide essential medicines and diagnostics free of cost at all public facilities. At the same time, referral linkages and patient transport services should be improved to integrate primary, secondary and tertiary health care in the public system. Difficult to reach areas and vulnerable population groups should receive special attention, even as the principle of universality must be applied while designing health services. The fourth priority must be to put in place the necessary public systems for UHC. Regulatory systems need strengthening - from hospital accreditation to health professional education and from drug licensing to mandatory adoption of standard management guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of different disease conditions at each level of health care. A national inter-operable Health Information Network is needed to improve governance, accountability, portability, storage of health records and management. Community participation must be supported to actively engage people in the design, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of health programmes. And finally, larger investments should be made in health promoting programmes in other sectors such as water, sanitation, nutrition, environment, urban design and livelihood generation.

The Kolkata Group led by Amartya Sen, in its 2011 Public Declaration, pointed to the many limitations of the private sector in health. "Influential policymakers in India seem to be attracted by the idea that private health care, properly subsidised, or private health insurance, subsidised by the State, can meet the challenge. However, there are good analytical reasons why this is unlikely to happen because of informational asymmetry (the patient can be easily fooled by profit-seeking providers on what exactly is being provided) and because of the 'public goods' character of health care thanks to the interdependences involved. There are also major decisional problems that lead to the gross neglect of the interests of women and children in family decisions." It is also well known that insurance
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schemes (whether funded by the Central and State governments) at best provide limited health care and at worst divert a large part of the health budget to expensive hospitalised tertiary and secondary care, to the great neglect of primary care. Clearly, there is no alternative to a progressive strengthening of the public facilities and thereby reduce people's dependence on private providers. However, the public system may need to "contractin" the services of willing private providers, to fill gaps in its capacity to deliver all the services assured under UHC. Such "contracted-in" private providers will have to deliver cashless services and would be compensated on the basis of pre-determined cost per package of health services rather than "fee for service" for each visit or procedure. In such an arrangement, the private sector acts as an extension of the public sector where needed and will not compete for the same set of services for the same people.

Final remarks
It is time to recognise that everyone, not just the poor, needs to be protected against rising health costs that can impoverish any family. We are on the threshold of a historic transition to guarantee health security for all Indians. UHC will greatly reduce out-of-pocket expenditures and provide much needed relief to people. Apart from improving people's health, adopting UHC is likely to generate millions of new jobs, enhance productivity, and promote equity. Statesmanship must assert itself to create a national framework of UHC that is capable of State-specific adaptations. It is time to give the people of India the efficient, affordable and equitable health system they desire, deserve and demand. Progressive strengthening of public facilities is the only way to reach medical services to the population as a whole. Source: The Hindu

14 April - 20 April, 2012