20th November 2020

Lakshmi Vilas Bank Crisis

Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to impose a 30-day moratorium on Chennai-based Lakshmi Vilas Bank Ltd (LVB).

    • LVB was placed under the prompt corrective action (PCA) framework in September 2019 considering the breach of PCA thresholds as on 31st March, 2019.
      • The RBI has specified certain regulatory trigger points, as a part of prompt corrective action (PCA) Framework, in terms of three parameters, i.e. capital to risk weighted assets ratio (CRAR), net non-performing assets (NPA) and Return on Assets (RoA), for initiation of certain structured and discretionary actions in respect of banks hitting such trigger points.
    • After taking into consideration various developments, the RBI had come to the conclusion that in the absence of a credible revival plan, with a view to protect depositors’ interest and in the interest of financial and banking stability, there is no alternative but to apply to the Central Government for imposing a moratorium under section 45 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
  • Challenges Faced by LVB:
    • Domino Effect of Yes Bank Crisis: The LVB episode started unfolding after the RBI and banks led by State Bank of India bailed out fraud-hit Yes Bank in March 2020.
      • Yes Bank illustrated the widening damage from India’s shadow banking crisis, highlighted by the collapse of IL&FS in 2018.
      • On the same lines, Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank was hit by a loan scam highlighting the riskiness of banks, especially cooperative banks.
    • Declining Net Worth: The financial position of the LVB has undergone a steady decline, with continuous losses over the last three years eroding the bank’s net worth.
      • Almost one-fourth of the bank’s advances have turned bad assets.
    • Inadequacy to Raise Capital: LVB has not been able to raise adequate capital to address the issues and was also experiencing the continuous withdrawal of deposits and low levels of liquidity.
    • Governance Issues: Serious governance issues in recent years have led to a deterioration in the performance of the bank.
    • Lack of Promoters: The functioning of LVB, along many such banks, has been under scrutiny as most of them do not have strong promoters, making them targets for mergers.
    • Rising NPAs: Its gross non-performing assets (NPAs) stood 25.4% of its advances as of June 2020, as against 17.3% in 2019. Due to which, it was unable to raise capital to shore up its balance sheet.
      • NPAs in the banking sector are expected to increase as the pandemic affects cash flows of people and companies.
  • Impact on Investors:
    • Equity capital will be fully written off, which means existing shareholders face a total loss on their investmentsunless there are buyers in the secondary market who may ascribe some value to these.
    • Individual investors will face a loss on their investments in AT-1 bonds.
      • As per RBI rules based on the Basel-III framework, AT-1 bonds have principal loss absorption features, which can cause a full write-down or conversion to equity.
    • Shares of LVB closed at 20% lower circuit which means that there will be only sellers and no buyers.
      • The lower circuit is the limit below which a stock price cannot trade on a particular trading day.
      • These regulatory mechanisms put in place to temporarily halt trading on an exchange to curb panic-selling.
  • Measures Taken by RBI:
    • The RBI monitors the performance of private banks and large Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs).
    • On LVB, it has imposed a moratorium whose cash withdrawal limit has been capped at Rs. 25,000.
    • It has also put in place a draft scheme for its amalgamation with DBS Bank India.
      • The combined balance sheet of DBS India and LVB would remain healthy after the proposed amalgamation, with Capital to Risk Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) at 12.51% and Common Equity Tier-1 (CET-1) capital at 9.61%, without taking into account the infusion of additional capital.
        • CET-1 capital includes equity instruments where returns are linked to the banks’ performance and therefore the performance of the share price. They have no maturity.
      • In September 2019, merger of banks, consolidation of 10 public sector banks into four mega state-owned ones, was announced ostensibly to help in better management of capital.
    • One safety net for small depositors is the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC), an RBI subsidiary, which gives insurance cover on up to Rs. 5 lakh deposits in banks.
    • RBI may ask for capital infusion by other banks and financial institutions, putting in equity capital in the reconstructed entity.
      • Budget 2019 had announced a Rs. 70,000 crore bank recapitalisation programme to help Public Sector Banks shore up their capital reserves and enhance credit flow into the economy.

Road Ahead

  • These bank crises are not exactly new or unique and their problems with mounting bad loans reflect the underlying woes in the financial sector ranging from real estate to power and non-banking financial companies.
  • In September 2020, an expert committee headed by K V Kamath came out with recommendations on the financial parameters required for a one-time loan restructuring window for corporate borrowers under stress due to the pandemic which would help to deal with the time-specific concerns.
  • The crisis provides an opportunity for the various stakeholders to review their existing frameworks and revise them accordingly suiting to timely needs.

 

15th FC Recommendations for Health Sector

The Fifteenth Finance Commission (FFC) has made recommendations about the need for reprioritising public spending to fix the creaky health infrastructure exposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

  • FFC has submitted its report to the President advising how to share tax revenues with states for the Financial Year (FY) 2022-26 period.
  • The FFC report also makes recommendations about performance incentives to states in several reform areas.
  • Recommendations:
    • FFC has mooted a greater role for public-private partnerships (PPPs) to ramp up the health infrastructure and scale up public spending on health from 0.95% of GDP to 2.5% by 2024.
      • While public outlays should focus on primary health care at the panchayat and municipality level, private playersshould be relied on for specialty healthcare.
      • The total spending of around 0.95% of GDP is not adequate in relation to the commitments under the National Health Policy of 2017.
        • The 2017 Policy proposes raising public health expenditure to 2.5% of the GDP in a time-bound manner.
    • There is a need for a more holistic approach to encouraging PPP in the health sector. There should be a constant working relationship and the government should not resort to the private sector in the case of an emergency only.
      • The trust deficit that exists between industry and government needs to be bridged.
    • District hospitals can become great grounds for training paramedics, creating health and employment multipliers.
    • FFC Chairman emphasised on the need to create a cadre for medical officers as mentioned in the All India Services Act 1951.
      • All-India health service is needed to address issues within the health sector.
    • There is a need for substantial improvements in the working conditions for doctors in government hospitals, many of whom are hired on a contract basis by States.
  • Issues in the Health Sector:
    • India’s general government expenditure on healthcare as a percent of GDP was just 1.0% in 2017, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) data, placing it at number 165 out of 186 countries in terms of government expenditure on healthcare.
    • Skewed availability of healthcare across India as poorer States have the worst facilities.
    • In terms of access and quality of health services, India was ranked 145 out of 195 countries in a Lancet study published in 2018, below countries like China (48), Sri Lanka (71) Bhutan (134) and Bangladesh (132).
    • Availability of trained epidemiologists is an issue due to low salary and job insecurity in the health system.
      • There should be one epidemiologist per 0.2 million population. An epidemiologist is a technical person to guide and monitor the process of contact-tracing, marking containment zones and isolating suspected cases.
    • India’s expenditure on R&D as a percent of GDP has continued to remain stagnant at 0.7% of GDP for three decades, with the public sector accounting for 51.8% of national R&D expenditure.
      • This compares to around 2.8% of GDP for the USA, 2.1% of GDP for China, 4.4% of GDP for Korea and around 3% for Germany where the dominant sector by spending on R&D is the private sector.

Recent Initiatives

  • Recently, the government has expanded the provision of financial support by means of viability gap funding for Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in infrastructure projects to social sectors such as health, education, water and waste treatment.
  • Several public-private partnerships and collaborations are already underway. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which has developed ventilators, collaborated with industry to scale up production of ventilators.
  • There have been several examples of how public research laboratories, public institutions like the IITs, and private players including startups have risen to the challenge of working on Covid-19 testing kits, masks, alcohol-based sanitizers, personal protective equipment (PPEs) and ventilators, to overcome challenges of global supply chain disruptions and to cater to domestic needs.
  • The government has made several interventions in the health sector including National Medical Commission, National Digital Health Mission, Ayushman Bharat, etc.
  • A total of 17 Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) projects have been started in India, with different government and private organisations.
    • GHSA, set in 2014, builds on the WHO International Health Regulations (IHR) that provide guidance for countries to assess and manage serious health threats that have the potential to spread beyond borders.
    • Capacity-building of the healthcare workers for surveillance and outbreak investigation is a vital step under workforce development of GHSA’s action package.
    • One of the institutes responsible for workforce development under GHSA is the National Institute of Health and Family Welfare (NIHFW), that has implemented the “Public Health Systems Capacity Building in India” project.

 

UNESCO Global Geoparks – INTACH

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is making efforts to get recognition of a geopark for Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) consisting of Erra Matti Dibbalu (red sand dunes), natural rock formations, Borra Caves and volcanic ash deposits.

  • While there are 161 UNESCO Global geoparks spread across 44 countries, India is yet to have one of its own.
  • Meaning:
    • These are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.
  • Features:
    • Management:
      • These are managed by a body having legal existence recognized under national legislation.
      • It needs to be noted that UNESCO Global Geopark status does not imply restrictions on any economic activity inside a UNESCO Global Geopark where that activity complies with indigenous, local, regional and/or national legislation.
    • Visibility:
      • Geoparks are sustained through geo tourism activities like excursions, nature trails, guided tours, hiking and academic meets.
    • Networking:
      • Cooperating with the local people (bottom-up approach) living in the geopark area and with other UNESCO Global Geoparks through the Global Geoparks Network (GGN).
        • GGN, of which membership is obligatory for UNESCO Global Geoparks, is a legally constituted not-for-profit organisation with an annual membership fee. It was founded in 2004.
  • Designation Period:
    • A UNESCO Global Geopark is given this designation for a period of four years after which the functioning and quality of each UNESCO Global Geopark is thoroughly re-examined during a revalidation process.
  • Global Geoparks vs Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage Sites:
    • Besides UNESCO Global Geoparks, there are other two UNESCO site designations, Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage Sites.
      • Biosphere Reserves focus on the harmonised management of biological and cultural diversity.
        • Out of 18 notified biosphere reserves, India has 12 biosphere reserves under the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), the latest one included is Panna Biosphere Reserve.
      • World Heritage Sites promote the conservation of natural and cultural sites of outstanding universal value.
        • India has 38 world heritage sites, including 30 cultural properties, 7 natural properties and 1 mixed site. The latest one included is Jaipur city, Rajasthan.
      • UNESCO Global Geoparks give international recognition for sites that promote the importance and significance of protecting the Earth’s geodiversity through actively engaging with the local communities.
        • India does not have any UNESCO Global geopark.

UNESCO

  • UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences and Culture.
  • UNESCO’s programmes contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals defined in Agenda 2030, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.
  • UNESCO-IOC (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission) is leading a global effort to establish ocean-based tsunami warning systems as part of an overall multi-hazard disaster reduction strategy.
    • Recently, UNESCO-IOC approved the recognition of two communities of Odisha viz., Venkatraipur and Noliasahi as Tsunami Ready Communities.
  • It has 193 Members and 11 Associate Members. India joined UNESCO in 1946.
    • In 2019, the USA and Israel formally quit UNESCO.
  • It is headquartered in Paris, France.

Visakhapatnam’s Case

  • Important Sites:
    • Erra Matti Dibbalu:
      • It is coastal red sediment mounds located between Visakhapatnam and Bheemunipatnam.
      • The width of sandy red dunes vary from 200 metres to two kilometres, spread across five kilometres along the coast.
        • Such sand deposits have only been reported from two other low latitude tropical regions in South Asia — the Teri Sands of Tamil Nadu and Red Coastal Sands of Sri Lanka.
      • It is among the 34 notified National Geological Heritage Monument Sites of India by the Geological Survey of India (GSI).
        • The term geological heritage is used for natural geological or geo-morphological features that have aesthetic, intrinsic or scientific and educational value, that provide unique insight into geological processes affecting the formation or evolution of Earth.
    • Natural Rock Formations (Eastern Ghats) at Mangamaripeta:
      • One example is the natural arch at Mangamaripeta beach opposite the Thotlakonda Buddhist Site.
      • It is likely to date back to the period after the last Ice Age around 10,000 years ago and is similar to the natural rock arch of Silathoranam in the Tirumala Hills.
    • Borra Caves:
      • Discovered by William King George of the GSI, these one million year old caves attract a huge number of tourists every day. These are located at an elevation of 1400 m above sea level.
      • These caves are known for stalactite and stalagmite formations such as Shiva-Parvathi, Rishi’s Beard, Mother-Child, Crocodile, Human Brain, Tiger and Cows udder.
    • Volcanic Ash Deposits:
      • These are said to have originated from the volcanic eruption of Toba in Indonesia 73,000 years ago near Araku (Andhra Pradesh).
  • Concerns:
    • Red sands are being exploited for construction activity. Further, degradation due to human interference such as digging, climbing, littering are affecting their stability and exacerbating erosion.
    • The recent incident of overcrowding and reckless acts of visitors endangering the natural arch has raised concerns among geologists and heritage activists on the need to safeguard the sites of the region and establish a geo park.
  • Conservation Efforts:
    • In July 2019, INTACH organised a campaign to create public awareness on geologically and culturally important spots in the region.
      • INTACH was founded in 1984 in New Delhi with the vision to spearhead heritage awareness and conservation in India.

 

Lilavati Award-2020

Recently, the Union Minister of Education virtually launched the Lilavati Award-2020.

    • The award has been named after the 12th century book called “Lilavati”. The book was written by the mathematician Bhaskara II.
      • Lilavati was the daughter of Indian Mathematician Bhaskara II.
    • It is AICTE’s (All India Council for Technical Education) Innovative education program to empower women.
    • All the stakeholders (especially the girl students) in AICTE approved institutions would get an opportunity to present a solution to the prevalent issues of gender discrimination, such as illiteracy, unemployment, economic and nutritional disparities, maternal mortality, human rights, etc.
  • Theme: Women Empowerment
  • Objective: To create awareness about issues like sanitation, hygiene, health, nutrition, literacy, employment, technology, credit, marketing, innovation, skill development, natural resources and rights among women.
  • Areas Covered: Women’s health, self defense, sanitation, literacy, entrepreneurship and legal awareness.
  • Benefit: Ensures the participation of women and enables them to hold higher positions in educational institutions.
  • Prize: In each sub-category, the top three winners will be awarded with certificates as well as prize money. The first prize winner will get Rs 1 lakh, the second winner will get Rs 75,000 and the third winner will get Rs 50,000.
  • Other government initiatives for the welfare of girl child and women:
    • Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana: It is a small saving scheme under the Government of India which focuses on encouraging the parents of the female child for building a fund for their future education and marriage expenses.
    • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao: The scheme is aimed at promoting gender equality and the significance of educating girls.
    • CBSE Udaan: It is aimed at promoting girl education and addressing the issue of lowering of girl enrollment rates in engineering colleges in the nation. It is going to provide a platform for empowerment of girl students and will provide better learning opportunities for them.
    • Smart India Hackathon: It is a nationwide initiative to provide students (with a minimum one woman in the team of six) a platform to solve some of the pressing problems of daily lives, and thus inculcate a culture of product innovation and a mindset of problem solving.

 

Global Coalition Against HIV

Recently, the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare digitally addressed the Ministerial meeting of the Global Prevention Coalition (GPC) for Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) Prevention.

  • It was hosted by Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)on behalf of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition (GPC).
  • Global HIV Prevention Coalition (GPC):
    • It is a global coalition of United Nations Member States, donors, civil society organizations which was established in the year 2017 to support global efforts to accelerate HIV prevention.
    • Membership: It includes the 25 highest HIV burden countries, UNAIDS Cosponsors, donors, civil society and private sector organizations.
    • Goal: To strengthen and sustain political commitment for primary prevention by setting a common agenda among key policy-makers, funders and programme implementers.
  • Significance of the Conference:
    • The conference this year holds significance in achieving the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) commitment to end Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) by 2030.
      • Member States of the GPC had agreed to reduce new adult HIV infections by 75% at the end of 2020 from 2010 levels.
  • India at the Conference:
    • Acknowledged that Global AIDS response has shown remarkable success in reducing new infections, improving access to prevention services for key population and treatment services for People Living with HIV (PLHIV), reducing AIDS related mortality, enabling reduction in mother to child transmission of HIV and creating an enabling environment.
      • GPC has shown to the world a model where multiple stakeholders can come together and work cohesively towards a common goal.
    • Observed that the global AIDS response in general has been a fountainhead of innovative service delivery models with rich civil society involvement and cross learning.
  • India Against HIV:
    • India’s unique HIV prevention model:
      • Aim: To provide outreach, service delivery, counselling & testing and ensuring linkages to HIV care
      • Centered around the concept of Social Contracting through which the Targeted Interventions (TI) programme is implemented.
    • Protected the gains made in HIV during Covid-19 by taking swift and timely action to reach out to the last mile with a robust implementation plan for Anti-Retroviral drugs (ARV) dispensation.
      • Advisories and guidance notes were issued by National Aids Control Organization (NACO) from time to time aligned with global guidelines in the context.
    • Revamped its Targeted Intervention (TI) programme to focus on hard-to-reach populations to keep its commitments- People living in prisons and other closed settings were considered as priority populations and interventions launched were gradually scaled up since 2016.
      • The HIV Counselling & Testing Services (HCTS) and Community based Screening of HIV for improving early diagnosis were also ramped up.
      • The coverage of testing for HIV across the country was increased to achieve the Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV.
      • The Test and Treat Policy: Approximately 50,000 PLHIV who were lost to follow-up were linked back to Antiretroviral Treatment services through Mission SAMPARK, while Viral Load Testing facilities have been scaled up from the existing ten public sector labs to 64 labs across the country.
    • Enacted The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017 which has provided a legal and enabling framework for safeguarding the human rights of the infected and affected populations.
    • Project Sunrise
      • A new initiative called ‘Project Sunrise’ was launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 2016, to tackle the rising HIV prevalence in north-eastern states in India, especially among people injecting drugs.
    • Helping the world:
      • India’s provision of generic (ARV) to the world has had a critical impact in controlling the HIV epidemic.
      • India is ready to extend its unique HIV prevention model to the rest of the world by tailoring the intervention as per local settings.
  • Other international initiatives against AIDS:
    • The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM)
      • Founded in 2002, it is a partnership organization designed to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics.

 

Step Up for TB 2020 Report

The “Step Up for TB 2020” report by the Stop TB Partnership and Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has highlighted India’s conservative approach regarding the new medicines for Drug Resistant TB, putting lives of patients including children in danger.

  • The current Pandemic has further aggravated the sufferings of TB patients in the country in terms of disease diagnosis, surveillance and treatment.
  • Founded in 1971, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), sometimes rendered in English as Doctors Without Borders,is an international humanitarian medical non-governmental organisation (NGO) of French origin best known for its projects in conflict zones and in countries affected by endemic diseases.
  • It was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.

Tuberculosis (TB)

  • Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs.
  • Transmission: TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air.
  • Symptoms: Cough with sputum and blood at times, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.
  • Treatment: TB is treatable and curable disease.It is treated with a standard 6 month course of 4 antimicrobial drugs that are provided with information, supervision and support to the patient by a health worker or trained volunteer.
  • Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a form of TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to isoniazid and rifampicin, the 2 most powerful, first-line anti-TB drugs. MDR-TB is treatable and curable by using second-line drugs.
  • Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) is a more serious form of MDR-TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to the most effective second-line anti-TB drugs, often leaving patients without any further treatment options.
  • Tuberculosis (TB) remains the world’s deadliest infectious disease, killing more than 1.4 million people in 2019,despite being curable.
  • Report:
    • The report presents data on 37 high-burden countries, including India (representing 77% of the global estimated TB incident cases), assessing the extent to which national policies align with international best practices based on World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and the latest scientific research.
    • This is the 4th edition of this report, which focuses on countries’ policies and practices related to 4 key areas of national TB programmes (NTPs):
      • Diagnosis,
      • Treatment (including models of care),
      • Prevention, and
      • Medicines procurement policies.
  • Findings:
    • There are barriers to policy adoption and implementation across the surveyed countries.
    • The critical medical innovations are reaching very few people who urgently need them.
    • The report emphasised that oral treatment regimens for people with drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) must be prioritised over older, toxic drugs that have to be injected and cause serious side effects.
    • Nearly 1 in 3 people with TB disease is still not diagnosed and notified.
    • Almost 2 in 3 countries surveyed still do not include in their policies urinary TB lipoarabinomannan (TB LAM) testingfor people living with HIV.
      • TB LAM is the only rapid point-of-care TB test available, and there is more than enough evidence of its benefits as a lifesaving point-of-care test.
  • India Specific Findings:
    • India was criticised for not scaling up the new Disease Resistant (DR)-TB drugs Bedaquiline and Delamanid, needed even more during Covid-19.
      • Pretomanid is the third new drug developed for the treatment.
    • Until March 2020, less than 10% of India’s MDR-TB patients who were eligible for Bedaquiline had received it. This is alarming, since India is home to a quarter of the world’s DR-TB patients.
      • India has the highest TB burden in the world. In 2018, 2.15 million TB cases were reported, which is 16% more than in 2017.
  • India’s Initiative to Fight TB:
    • National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme:
      • To align with the ambitious goal, the programme has been renamed from the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) to National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP).
    • Eliminating TB by 2025: India is committed to eliminating tuberculosis from the country by 2025, five years ahead of the global target by the World Health Organisation (WHO) i.e. 2030.
    • The Nikshay Ecosystem:
      • It is the National TB information system which is a one-stop solution to manage information of patients and monitor program activity and performance throughout the country.
    • Nikshay Poshan Yojana (NPY):
      • This scheme is aimed at providing financial support to TB patients for their nutrition.
    • TB Harega Desh Jeetega Campaign:
      • Launched In September 2019 it is showcasing the highest level of commitment for the elimination of TB.
    • The Saksham Project:
      • It is a project of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) that has been providing psycho-social counselling to DR-TB patients.
    • The Government of India has partnered with the Global Fund to launch JEET (Joint Effort for Elimination of TB), a private sector engagement program operating across the country.
  • Global Efforts:
    • The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a joint initiative “Find. Treat. All. #EndTB” with the Global Fund and Stop TB Partnership.
      • The WHO End TB Strategy outlines global impact targets to reduce TB deaths by 90%, to cut new cases by 80%between the years 2015 and 2030, and to ensure that no family is burdened with catastrophic costs due to TB.
    • It aims to accelerate the TB response and ensure access to care, in line with WHO’s overall drive towards Universal Health Coverage.
  • WHO also releases the Global Tuberculosis Report.

Road Ahead

  • Despite the notable successes achieved by the different programmes, robust efforts are needed to improve the early and accurate diagnosis followed by a prompt appropriate treatment which is vital for ending TB.
  • India must collaborate with global efforts which are being done to eliminate the TB along with the paradigm shift in the control measure.

 

NDB Loan to India

Recently, a 500-million dollar loan agreement was signed between the Union government, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, National Capital Region (NCR) Transport Corporation Limited and the New Development Bank (NDB) for the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS).

  • Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System.
    • It is an 82.15 km long, under-construction, semi-high speed rail corridor connecting Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut.
    • It is one of the three rapid-rail corridors planned under Phase-I of Regional Rapid Transport System (RRTS) project of National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC).
    • Benefits:
      • The Project will provide a fast, reliable, safe and comfortable public transport system in the NCR.
      • The project will serve as a demonstration for developing high-capacity rapid urban transit corridors in other urban areas of India.
      • High-speed connectivity will result in balanced economic development across the region, leading to economic benefits to all strata of society and many nodes of development rather than all economic activity happening at one place.
      • It will help in reducing traffic congestion and total emissions from the transport sector in NCR.
  • Other Contributors: The total project cost is estimated at 3,749 million dollars, which will be financed by the NDB, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, government and other sources.

New Development Bank

  • It is a multilateral development bank jointly founded by the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) at the 6th BRICS Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil in 2014.
  • It was formed to support infrastructure and sustainable development efforts in BRICS and other underserved, emerging economies for faster development through innovation and cutting-edge technology.
  • It is headquartered at Shanghai, China.
  • In 2018, the NDB received observer status in the United Nations General Assembly, establishing a firm basis for active and fruitful cooperation with the United Nations.

 

Chapare Virus

Researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recently discovered a rare Ebola-like illnessthat is believed to have first originated in rural Bolivia in 2004.

  • The virus is named Chapare after the province in which it was first observed.
  • Chapare, is a rural province in the northern region of central Bolivia.
    • Chapare Virus belongs to the same Arenavirus family that is responsible for illnesses such as the Ebola virus disease (EVD). It causes Chapare Hemorrhagic Fever (CHHF).
  • Vector:
    • Chapare virus are generally carried by rats and can be transmitted through direct contact with the infected rodent, its urine and droppings, or through contact with an infected person.
    • A disease vector is any agent which carries and transmits an infectious pathogen into another living organism.
  • Symptoms of Chapare Hemorrhagic Fever (CHHF):
    • Hemorrhagic fever much like Ebola.
      • Viral hemorrhagic fevers are a severe and life-threatening kind of illness that can affect multiple organs and damage the walls of blood vessels.
    • Abdominal pain,
    • Vomiting,
    • Bleeding gums,
    • Skin rash,
    • Pain behind the eyes.
  • Transmission:
    • Virus can spread from person to person.
      • Chapare spreads only through direct contact with bodily fluids.
      • Sexually transmission:
        • Researchers also found fragments of Ribonucleic acid (RNA) associated with Chapare, in the semen of one survivor 168 days after he was infected.
  • Diagnosis:
    • Chapare virus is much more difficult to catch than the coronavirus as it is not transmissible via the respiratory route.Instead, Chapare spreads only through direct contact with bodily fluids.
    • New sequencing tools will help develop an RT-PCR test — much like the one used to diagnose Covid-19 to help detect Chapare.
  • Treatment:
    • Since there are no specific drugs to treat the disease, patients generally receive supportive care such as intravenous fluids.
      • Intravenous therapy is a medical technique that delivers a liquid directly into a person’s vein. The intravenous route of administration is commonly used for rehydration solutions or to provide nutrition in those who cannot consume food or water by mouth.
    • Maintenance of hydration.
    • Management of shock through fluid resuscitation.
      • Fluid resuscitation is the medical practice of replenishing bodily fluid lost through sweating, bleeding, fluid shifts or other pathologic processes.
    • Pain Relief Medicines
    • Transfusions as the supportive therapy that can be administered on patients.
  • People at Risk:
    • The disease is also known to be most commonly transmitted in more tropical regions, particularly in certain parts of South America where the small-eared pygmy rice rat is commonly found.
  • Mortality Rate:
    • As there are very few cases on record, the mortality and risk factors associated with the illness are relatively unknown.
    • In the first known outbreak, the only confirmed case was fatal. In the second outbreak in 2019, three out of five documented cases were fatal (case-fatality rate of 60%).
  • Recent Outbreak:
    • The recent biggest outbreak of the ‘Chapare virus’ was reported in 2019, when three healthcare workers contracted the illness from two patients in the Bolivian capital of La Paz.

 

Ebola Virus Disease

  • Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) or Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF), is a viral hemorrhagic fever of humans and other primates caused by ebolaviruses
  • Transmission:
    • Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural Ebola virus hosts.
  • Animal to human transmission:
    • Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as fruit bats, chimpanzees, etc.
  • Human-to-human transmission:
    • Ebola spreads via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with:
    • Blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola.
    • Objects that have been contaminated with body fluids (like blood, feces, vomit) from a person sick with Ebola or the body of a person who died from Ebola.
  • Vaccines:
    • An experimental Ebola vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV proved highly protective against EVD.

 

India’s First Green Energy Convergence Project: Goa

India’s first convergence project to generate green energy for rural and agriculture consumption is set to come up in Goa.

  • Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), a joint venture of PSUs under the Ministry of Power, and Goa government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the same.
  • Convergence Project of EESL:
    • Focus: It focuses on energy solutions that lie at the confluence of renewable energy, electric mobility and climate change.
    • Objective: It seeks to connect seemingly independent sectors like Solar Energy, Energy Storage and LED lights to provide solutions, which can enable in decarbonisation and affordable energy access.
    • Mechanism:
      • EESL is offering convergent interventions, which solve multiple gap areas in the energy ecosystem.
      • Solutions such as solarised agriculture feeders, LED street lights in local villages and battery energy storage systems.
      • Leveraging the carbon financing mechanism to rapidly strengthen rural infrastructure in a clean and sustainable manner, and to create a resilient and sustainable rural community in India.
      • EESL’s climate financing interventions currently include Gram UJALA, Decentralised Solar and Gram Panchayat Street Lights programmes.
  • Benefits of the Project:
    • Promote Renewable Energy: It will accelerate the usage of renewable energy sources, especially for agricultural and rural power consumption in the State.
    • Energy Efficient: Contribute to reduction of peak energy demand through deployment of energy efficient pumping and lighting thus contributing to overall sustainability.
    • Improve Health of DISCOMs: Accrue savings of Rs 2,574 crores to the State over the period of 25 years, while improving the health of DISCOMs and providing cleaner power.
    • Check Technical Losses: Provide clean day time electricity to farmers as well as energy efficient pump sets which would reduce the power consumption as well as T&D (Transmission and Distribution Losses) losses associated with transmitting power to agriculture and rural feeder networks.

Energy Efficiency Services Ltd

  • It is a joint venture of National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) Limited, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation and POWERGRID, It was set up under the Ministry of Power to facilitate implementation of energy efficiency projects.
  • EESL is a Super Energy Service Company (ESCO) that seeks to unlock the energy efficiency market in India, estimated at Rs. 74,000 crore that can potentially result in energy savings of up to 20% of current consumption, by way of innovative business and implementation models.
  • It also acts as the resource centre for capacity building of State DISCOMs, financial institutions, etc.

Road Ahead

  • In a solar power rich country like India, effective harnessing of this abundant resource can yield handsome returns for all stakeholders and therefore initiatives like Convergence can help India to produce more energy at less cost.
  • Project Convergence is also well aligned and is in consonance with the International Solar Alliance, an initiative of the Indian government.
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