Health Ministry Launched Viral Load Test for PLHIV :-
- The Health Ministry on Monday launched “Viral load testing for all People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV)” .
Why Viral Load Test ?
Viral load kits are used to determine the severity of an infection before deciding on the treatment regimen that is appropriate for HIV patients.
- Viral Load testing will empower medical officers at ART (Antiretroviral Theraphy) to detect failure on first line treatment early and therefore save PLHIV from developing resistance to drugs.
- It will also help in strengthening ‘Mission Sampark’ in tracking LFU (Loss to Follow Up) PLHIV.
HIV/AIDS situation in India :-
- India is home to the world’s third largest HIV population, with 25 lakh patients.
- Only 12 lakh of the diagnosed HIV patients are on treatment and the newly-launched scheme will provide viral load testing free of cost.
Free Sanitary Napkins for Schoolgirls in Odisha :-
- The Odisha government on Monday launched “Khushi”, a scheme to provide free sanitary napkins to schoolgirls across Odisha.
- Under the scheme, the State will provide free sanitary napkins to 17 lakh girls in government and government-aided schools from Class VI to XII.
- Government will also expand social marketing of sanitary napkins for women and girls in the community at subsidised rates.
- Khushi Scheme has been launched to support Women Empowerment.
Govt names High-Risk 9500 NBFCs :-
- As part of the anti-tax evasion measures of the government, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has made public a massive list of around 9,500 non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) which have been categorised as high-risk financial institutions.
- The FIU, under the Finance Ministry, released the list of NBFCs on account of non-compliance with the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and PML Rules, which is non-registration of a principal officer as on January 31.
- Under the Act, all NBFCs are required to appoint a principal officer and report suspicious and cash transactions of over Rs 10 lakh to the Financial Intelligence Unit.
Why it is important ?
Because the activities of NBFCs post the demonetisation of large currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 have been under the scanner of the government and the recent exercise is similar to the weeding out carried out for shell companies & black money.
Stemming the tide of Agrarian Distress :-
Budget Announcements 2018-19 for Indian Agriculture:-
- The first is to raise the minimum support price (MSP) by at least 50% above the cost of production. The MSP will also be extended to all crops for which estimates on cost of cultivation and a remunerative price are to be ascertained.
- The second measure is to develop and upgrade the existing 22,000 rural haats into Gramin Agricultural Markets. A corpus of ₹2,000 crore has been allocated in the name of the Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund for developing and upgrading marketing infrastructure.
Operation Green: Another interrelated initiative is the launching of ‘Operation Green’ with an outlay of Rs. 500 crore to address the challenge of price volatility of perishable commodities
- The third important step is to increase institutional credit from ₹10 lakh crore in 2017-18 to ₹11 lakh crore in 2018-19
Three main challenges infront of the Indian Agricultural System
- Govt is paying minimum support price (MSP) by at least 50% above the cost of production which is continued in the case of
A2+FL which covers actual paid cost and unpaid family labour
but not in the case of
C2 which covers all actual expenses in cash and kind incurred in production and rent paid for leased land, imputed value of family labour plus interest paid & has been in the demand by farmers.
- The States can implement the ‘price deficiency payment scheme’ (difference between MSP and price received) as has been started in Haryana for some vegetables, and the Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana in Madhya Pradesh for select oilseeds.
- A hike in MSP should be supplemented with irrigation, and reduction in fertilizer cost.
- Under market reforms, it is important to link production centres with marketing through agri-value chains, which would require farmers to aggregate, form self-help groups, or farmer producer organisations.
- Farmers sell their produce mainly through village traders or government-run Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (for wheat and paddy at MSP) and often get exploited
- The actual flow has considerably exceeded the target. Therefore, targeting of the announced allocation to the poorer farmers and tenants in each State will go a long way in improving their purchasing power and augmenting investment, which is currently low.
Other Issues that need attention
Close to 52% of net sown area (73.2 million hectares out of 141.4 million hectares) is still unirrigated and rainfed
Decline in Ground water:
The plan is to take up 96 districts deprived of irrigation with an allocation of Rs. 2,600 crore under the Prime Minister Krishi Sinchayee Yojana — Har Khet ko Pani butThe Minor Irrigation Census 2013-14, published in 2017, warns of a tremendous increase in deep tube wells to more than 2.6 million in 2013-14, from 1.45 million in 2006-07, and the resultant decline in the ground water table. It is ironic that the government aims to install more tube wells while being worried about depleting groundwater.
Investment in agricultural research and development (Ag R&D):
- A location-specific policy for irrigation with the identification of suitability of medium-major irrigation projects and/or minor or micro irrigation facilities is required to protect farmers from the adverse impacts of climate change.
- Technological interventions that update farmers about sowing and harvesting time and extension services can help prevent misfortunes.
- More drought and pest-resistant crops are needed, along with better irrigation technology
- Farmers also require interventions in the seed sector to raise production and diversify to alternate crops to induce higher growth
- The most disquieting aspect is that India spends almost Rs. 6,500 crore on Ag R&D, which is not even 0.4 % of GDP from agriculture and allied activities.