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GoalTide Daily Current Affairs 2020

Nov 19, 2020

Current Affair 1:
Wind-Solar Hybrid Parks

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The Indian government has identified about 10,800 square kilometers of land across seven states to develop wind parks or wind-solar hybrid parks totalling about 54,000 MW. But the proposed policy for such parks is largely silent about concerns related to the environment, land and communities that are increasingly gaining the centre stage and impacting projects worth billions.

On November 13, the Indian government’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) made public a concept note on ‘Development of wind parks/wind-solar hybrid parks.

Introduction:

         

The proposal has identified the availability of 10,789 square kilometers of land at 19 sites in seven states (Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana) that has the potential for installation of 53,945 MW renewable power capacity – with parks the size of at least 500 megawatts (MW) size each. But it clarified that it is an indicative list only and states may decide to develop such wind parks or solar parks at other feasible locations.

Why India has proposed such parks?

  1. The proposal to develop such parks come while India is racing to achieve a target of installing 175,000 MW of renewable energy power by 2022, a commitment it made as part of its global climate goals.
  2. At present, India’s installed renewable energy capacity is about 89,635 MW only which means that in the next two years India needs to nearly double it to achieve the required target.
  3. But India is lagging behind the target of 40,000 MW of rooftop solar – which was the vital part of the 175,000 MW target.
  4. In such a scenario, the government is probably looking at developing large solar parks and wind parks to bridge the gap.
  5. Recently, the government in Gujarat cleared land allotment of about 60,000 hectares in Kutch region for the development of 41,500 MW mega solar and wind energy park that is estimated to attract investment of around Rs. 1.35 trillion.
  6. Thus, India’s ambitious pursuit of the clean energy transition is in line with that plan but what is probably missing is proper environmental and social impact assessment of the green energy plans to understand its impact on the environment and communities.
  7. In 2015, under its international climate change commitments, India had promised to cut down its emissions intensity by 33-35 percent by 2030 and have 40 percent of its power, around 350,000 MW installed capacity, from renewable power.

Thus, India’s ambitious pursuit of the clean energy transition is in line with that plan but what is probably missing is proper environmental and social impact assessment of the green energy plans to understand its impact on the environment and communities. For instance, one major complaint against the rapid clean energy transition is that it is usurping fertile agricultural land and massively impacting avifauna.

 

Current Affair 2:
BRICS Counter-Terrorism Strategy

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We will see some basic about BRICS grouping then we will proceed to news.

The acronym BRIC was first used in 2001 by Goldman Sachs in their Global Economics Paper, "The World Needs Better Economic BRICs" on the basis of econometric analyses projecting that the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China would individually and collectively occupy far greater economic space and would be amongst the world’s largest economies in the next 50 years or so.

As a formal grouping, BRIC started after the meeting of the Leaders of Russia, India and China in St. Petersburg on the margins of G8 Outreach Summit in 2006. The grouping was formalized during the 1st meeting of BRIC Foreign Ministers on the margins of UNGA in New York in 2006. The 1st BRIC Summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on 16 June 2009.

It was agreed to expand BRIC into BRICS with the inclusion of South Africa at the BRIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting in New York in September 2010. Accordingly, South Africa attended the 3rd BRICS Summit in Sanya, China on 14 April 2011.

What is contribution of BRICS?

BRICS brings together five major emerging economies, comprising 41.6% of the world population, having 20% of the world GDP and 17% share in the world trade.

Past Summits:

News is:

The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) have elaborated this Counter-Terrorism Strategy with the aim of strengthening the security of the BRICS countries.

The objective of BRICS counter-terrorism cooperation is to complement and strengthen the existing bilateral and multilateral ties among the BRICS countries, and to make a meaningful contribution to the global efforts of preventing and combating the threat of terrorism.

Overview of the Strategy:

  1. The aim of the strategy is to improve the practical cooperation among security and law-enforcement authorities of the member nations to prevent and combat terrorism, including by sharing timely and accurate information.
  2. The focus would be to “suppress” the facilitation of terrorist groups, entities and associated persons by not making available financial and material resources to them.
  3. The BRICS also resolved to counter “extremist narratives” conducive to terrorism and vowed to take steps to ensure that the Internet and social media platforms are not used for recruitment and radicalization by terror groups.
  4. The BRICS high representatives for security shall be entrusted with leading the review of the implementation of this strategy, and the BRICS counterterrorism working group (CTWG) shall be entrusted with its implementation.

Current Affair 3:
Cyclone Gati in Somalia

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On November 22, 2020, Cyclone Gati became the strongest storm to hit Somalia since satellite records began five decades ago. Gati made landfall with maximum sustained winds of 170 kilometers (105 miles) per hour, a category 2 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale. The storm brought more than a year’s worth of rain to the region in two days.

Problems?

Heavy rainfall due to the cyclone in the East African nation are likely to provide suitable conditions for breeding of locusts and aggravate the crisis, according to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

The locust outbreak of 2019 to early 2020 across several East African countries had posed a serious risk to food security and livelihoods. The three cyclones in 2018 and two in 2019 contributed to the 2020 locust upsurge in the Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, according to the FAO.

Cyclonic storm Sagar was the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in Somalia in recorded history before Gati. It was the first named cyclone of the 2018 North Indian Ocean cyclone season.

Learn about Tropical Cyclone Classification

Current Affair 4:
Finance panel for public-private partnerships to ramp up health infrastructure

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This article we have taken from another institute, as it seems to be beautifully written. Important is you get the best articles to read, doesn’t matter from where it is written.

The 15th Finance Commission has mooted a greater role for public-private partnerships to ramp up health infrastructure and scale up public spending on health from 0.95% of the GDP to 2.5% by 2024, N.K. Singh, Chairperson of the panel.

  1. Present Problems with Healthcare Sector
  2. Understanding PPP in Healthcare
  3. How PPP can lead to better health outcomes
  4. Problems/Challenges associated with Healthcare

Present Problems associated with Healthcare Sector

  1. Lower Expenditure on Health: The Combined expenditure of Centre and States on Health is around 1.5% of India's GDP. It is much below the target of 2.5% as set under the National Health Policy, 2017.
  2. Higher Out-of-pocket Expenditure on Health: The out-of-pocket expenditure as a percentage of total healthcare expenditure is as high as 60% on account of expenses incurred on medicines, diagnostic tests, consultation fees. This is considered to be one of the important reasons for pushing families below the poverty line.
  3. Lack of Accessibility: Most of the secondary and tertiary care hospitals are located in Tier-1 and Tier-2 Cities. Similarly, most of the doctors are unwilling to practice in rural areas.
  4. Lack of Affordability: The contribution of the private sector in healthcare expenditure in India is around 80 percent while the rest 20 percent is contributed by the Public Sector. The private sector also provides for 58 percent of the hospitals and 81 percent of the doctors in India. However, since the private sector hospitals work on the profit motive and charge high fees, the private sector hospitals do not address the needs of the poor patients.
  5. Shortage of Medical Personnel:

  1. Demographic Changes: India is set to undergo demographic transition in the next 2 decades wherein the share of elderly population is set to increase from 8% (2011) to 16% (2041). This change in demography accompanied by increase in the lifestyle diseases would put additional burden on the existing healthcare infrastructure.

Understanding PPP in Healthcare: The Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) in the field of healthcare is a form of agreement between the Government and Private sector for providing various healthcare services to the people. It seeks to leverage the private sector's strength of innovation and efficiency. Further, it redefines the role of the Government from being a health service provider to being both provider and financer of healthcare services. It may take different forms depending upon the extent of participation of private sector. For example, it may involve contracting out the management of Primary Health Centre at village level to private sector. It may be in the form of Government providing the Healthcare Insurance on secondary and tertiary treatment in the private hospitals (PM Jan Arogya Abhiyaan).

How PPP can lead to better Health Outcomes?

Improving the Efficiency of Hospital management: Government could hand over the management of an existing public hospital to a well-established private partner under a partnership agreement with the responsibility of investing in the hospital for its-up gradation/expansion and management. The Interest of poor could be protected through fixing the maximum fees to be charged by private sector. The fees of such poor people may be in turn paid by the Government.

Enhancing Investment in Healthcare Facilities: Government could invest in land and building of a new hospital and private partners could bring in the equipment and staff. The Private sector may be given the exclusive management role with government participating in the governing board. The maximum fee in such hospitals could be fixed by Government. Such a PPP would have multiple benefits such as expansion of healthcare facilities, decrease in Government's burden, leveraging the private sector's expertise in terms of human resources and equipment and protection of interests of poor and weaker sections.

Addressing the shortage of Medical Personnel: The shortage of doctors within India can also be addressed through PPP Mode. For example, in the Union Budget 2020-21, the Finance Minister has announced that new Medical Colleges would be set up in PPP Mode. These Medical colleges would be linked to existing district hospitals. The Government would provide Viability Gap Funding (VGF) for setting up of medical colleges.

Reducing out-of-pocket Expenditure: The Government can act as a healthcare financer wherein the identified poor can get treatment in the private hospitals and their treatment cost would be paid by the Government leading to a decrease in out-of-pocket expenditure. As you know, this is presently done under the PM Jan Arogya Abhiyan and has immensely benefitted the poor people.

Addressing Accessibility and Affordability: Some of the states such as Odisha have contracted out the management of the Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) at the village level to the private sector entities in order to improve the accessibility and efficiency of healthcare services. At the same time, some of the states have also entered into partnership in the Private sector Laboratories in order to provide round-the-clock tests at the government hospitals.

Ensuring Safe, Effective and Affordable Medicines: The Government is presently implementing the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) in order to provide cheaper generic medicines through the network of Janaushadhi Kendras. Now, this is a kind of PPP Mode for mainly two reasons. Firstly, it involves procurement of bulk generic medicines from the Private sector. Secondly, it enables the non-governmental entities such as NGOs, Private Sector hospitals etc. to set up Janaushadhi Kendras.

Investment in IT Infrastructure: The Srinath Reddy Committee (2011) on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) had recommended for creation of robust IT infrastructure which could capture various aspects related to healthcare infrastructure such as mortality rates, hospital admission rates, disease profiles, hospital bed occupancy ratios, etc. Such an IT infrastructure would greatly benefit us in fact-based and evidence-based policy making in the field of health. The Private sector expertise can be leveraged in PPP mode to set up such an IT infrastructure.

Improving Preventive Care: The Civil society organizations (CSOs) can contribute effectively to community mobilization, information dissemination, community-based monitoring of health services, and capacity building of community-based organizations and workers. Hence, the CSOs can be leveraged under the PPP model to improve the health outcomes of the Government schemes such as the National Health Mission (NHM).

Constraints/Challenges in PPP for healthcare

Lack of Trust and Cooperation: The Government believes that the Private sector is profit-oriented and is mainly geared towards addressing the needs of the richer sections. On the other hand, the private sector believes that the Government unnecessarily creates barriers in the form of restrictive regulations which make it difficult for them to carry on with their business. So, there is sense of mistrust and lack of cooperation between Government and Private hospitals. Many PPPs have failed due to lack of trust between the Government and Private sector.

Perceived division of responsibilities: Both the Government and the Private sector have a flawed perception that the Government has the responsibility of primary care, while the Private sector has the responsibility of secondary and tertiary care. Such a flawed perception has to be done away with to ensure the success of PPP models.

Constraints before the Government: Some of the constraints before the Government include lack of political will, underdeveloped government capacity to design, contract, and manage PPPs, delays in government payments, lack of an evidence-based pricing mechanism for services etc.

Constraints before the Private sector: There are limited financial incentives for the private sector to engage. The Government has failed to provide for appropriate incentives and reimbursements to the private sector.

Current Affair 5:
Chapare Virus

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Researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recently discovered a rare Ebola-like illness that 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.

  

 

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