- Rising Imports from China
Why in News
According to the latest figures from China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC), Indian imports from China, its largest trading partner in goods, are on a rise after the months of June and July.
- India’s imports from China had fallen to a record low of USD 3.2 billion both in the months of April and May, coinciding with the pandemic induced
- Imports subsequently rose to USD 4.8 billion in June and further to USD 5.6 billion in July, almost back to the pre-lockdown level of USD 5.8 billion reported in March. It was mainly due to increased import of Chinese medical supplies.
- Online shoppers in India seem to prefer Chinese mobile phones and electronic gadgets despite the environment of anti-China sentiments in the nation.
- As per the Prime Day 2020 sale data of Amazon, an e-commerce giant, OnePlus, Oppo, Huawei’s Honor and Xiaomi were among the top-selling smartphone brands in India.
- For the seven months of 2020, India’s imports from China have reached USD 32.2 billion. However, It is still down by 24.7% year-on-year, mainly because of the record slump in April and May.
- Two-way trade between both countries is USD 43.37 billion and it continues to be heavily tilted in China’s favour. Indian exports account for USD 11 billion and are up 6.7% year-on-year.
- China’s exports overall rose 7.2% in July, beating most estimates, while imports fell 1.4% year-on-year.
- China noticed a trade surplus of USD 62.33 billion, surpassing the estimated USD 42 billion.
- The major reason behind this was the increased export of medical supplies and work-from-home equipment.
Initiatives to Support Local Entrepreneurs
Amazon Karigar Store:
- In 2019, on the eve of the National Handloom Day (7 August), Amazon announced the launch of the Karigar store which showcases over 55,000 products, including more than 270 arts and crafts from 20 states.
- It will give prominence to India’s handicrafts heritage by enabling weavers and artisans to showcase ‘Made in India’ products to customers.
- In November 2017, Amazon launched this programme with the aim to empower and enable Indian women entrepreneurs to sell their products across the country.
- Promotion of entrepreneurship amongst women has become the key motive of the programme.
- It was rolled out in partnership with non-government social service entities like Self-Employed Women Enterprise (SEWA) and Impulse Social Enterprise.
- It is a marketplace within a marketplace as it works on two levels to create value for both Amazon shoppers and up-and-coming brands.
- New companies get the time and guidance they need to fine-tune their business and generate greater visibility for their products while shoppers enjoy early access to innovative products from the latest startups.
- Since startups tend to have limited time and resources, they often need additional support to drive traffic to their products and get their business off the ground.
- In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the growing tensions between India and China, it is important to boost the local market and make the economy less dependent on imports.
- By boosting up the local entrepreneurs and talent, their professions will become more profitable enabling them to have a better life.
- The country will also profit from it by the reduced imports and a strong sustainable domestic market, strengthening the economy.
CATEGORY: HEALTH / GOVERNANCE / GOVT. POLICIES
- PMJAY Affected by Lockdowns
Why in News
According to the “Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) Policy Brief (8): PMJAY Under Lockdown: Evidence on Utilization Trends’’, the nationwide lockdown has had a significant negative impact on inpatient care utilisation under the scheme.
- The analysis covers 22 weeks of data, from 1 January to 2 June 2020. The national lockdown started on 25 March and was significantly relaxed as of 1st June.
- The analysis is based on claims data drawn from the PMJAY Transaction Management System (TMS) and the main indicator of claim volumes (utilization) is non-rejected pre-authorisation requests.
Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana
- It offers a sum insured of 5 lakh per family for secondary care (which doesn’t involve a super-specialist) as well as tertiary care (which involves a superspecialist).
- It is an entitlement-based scheme that targets the beneficiaries as identified by the latest Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data.
- Once identified by the database, the beneficiary is considered insured and can walk into any empanelled hospital.
- The insurance cost is shared by the centre and the state mostly in the ratio of 60:40.
- Packaged rates are the rates which include everything so that each product or service is not charged for separately.
- These are flexible but the hospitals can’t charge the beneficiary more once fixed.
- The National Health Authority (NHA) has been constituted as an autonomous entity under the Society Registration Act, 1860 for effective implementation of PMJAY in alliance with state governments.
- The State Health Agency (SHA) is the apex body of the State Government responsible for the implementation of PMJAY in a State.
- Demographic groups, women, younger and older populations (under 20 and over 60) reduced their utilisation by more than men, young adults or the middle-aged. Among procedures, planned surgeries such as cataract operations and joint replacements suffered a decline of over 90%, while hemodialysis (also known as dialysis which is a process of purifying the blood) declined by only 20%.
- Overall, average weekly claim volumes in 10 weeks of lockdown were 51% lower than the weekly average observed during the 12 weeks prior to the lockdown.
- The steepest decline (over 75%) was registered in Assam, followed by Maharashtra and Bihar, while much smaller declines (about 25% or less) were observed in Uttarakhand, Punjab and Kerala.
- There was a small but perceptible shift in PMJAY utilisation from the public to private hospitals.
- Significant declines were noticed in admissions for child delivery and oncology (study and treatment of tumours).
- The utilisation of neo-natal packages declined by 24%. There was a slight shift from public to private hospitals for neonatal care and the largest declines have been observed in the public sector in Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.
- The 64% decline in oncology volumes across India was concentrated in a few States.
- In the public sector, which plays a smaller role in oncology care under PMJAY, there was a 90% decline in claims in Maharashtra and a 65% decline in Tamil Nadu.
- While access to medical facilities was one of the few exceptions to stay-athome orders during the lockdown, care-seeking behaviours and healthcare provision were nevertheless significantly affected, due to the following reasons:
On the Supply Side:
- Hospitals may be preoccupied with Covid-19 preparations or caseloads, resulting in fewer resources for non-Covid-19 cases.
- Private hospitals may reduce services out of fear among health workers that they will become infected.
On the Demand Side:
- PMJAY beneficiaries might delay or forego treatment due to fear of infection at a hospital.
- They may not be able to reach hospitals due to public transport shutdowns and mobility constraints.
- The economic crisis may affect financial considerations related to seeking care.
- Health experts have highlighted that ensuring the least possible impact on key health programmes will be an ongoing challenge which needs continued close monitoring.
- 2. UGC on University Exams
Why in News
The University Grants Commission (UGC) objected to Maharashtra and Delhi governments employing the Disaster Management Act, 2005 to cancel the examinations of students amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The UGC had directed that final year examinations of Universities must be conducted by September-end in online or offline mode.
- The UGC Guidelines on Examinations and Academic Calendar for Universities in view of Covid-19 Pandemic were recently
- The new guidelines allow students to opt for offline or online or the “blended” manner in which students can alternate between online and physical modes of attending the exams.
- However, many States/UTs like Delhi, Maharashtra and Punjab announced cancellation of these examinations While Delhi has cited ‘the reality of digital divide as a reason for scrapping university final year examination’, states like Maharashtra have used Disaster Management Act for the same.
- The UGC is calling ‘cancellation of examination’ a populist move which may undermine the future of higher education in India.
Arguments For Conducting Examination:
- The UGC argued that the conduct of examinations was entirely within the domain of the UGC which is a statutory body, as per the UGC Act.
- The University Grants Commission Act, 1956 makes provision for the co-ordination and determination of standards in Universities and for that purpose, provides for establishment of UGC.
- Under this Act, the determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research in Universities fall under the ambit of power and functions of UGC.
- Higher education is on the concurrent list.
- The 42 amendment Act, 1976 shifted Education from State list to Concurrent List, empowering both the central and state government to make rules on Education.
- Therefore, UGC and AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) directives have to be implemented in this case.
- AICTE is the statutory body and the national-level council for technical education in the country.
- As the UGC said, the courts of law have a limited role in framing policy on academic issues.
Limitations of Conducting Examinations:
- As the teaching-learning process has been hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic, the basis of assessment of learning by the students has been negated in the first hand.
- Many universities are not technically prepared for taking examinations in the online mode.
- The reliance on written, subjective-type exams for the evaluation of students is an archaic model of education which has been done away by many prestigious colleges around the globe, like the Oxford, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) or National Law Universities.
- At a time when the country is struggling with a global health and economic crisis, the pressure of exams may negatively impact the physical and mental well-being of the student.
- Inequality of internet access among the student fraternity, a lack of adequate online study material, and grievances of students with disabilities are also some of the shortcomings of taking examinations at this juncture.
- The education system must move beyond numerically-defined academic success and should take into account development of critical thinking, comparative and analytical modalities of instruction and meaningful, engaging classroom discussion and participation.
- It is clear in the light of this pandemic that bridging the digital divide in India is crucial for education to reach the last mile. Campaigns like Digital India can go a long way to end this inequality of access to the internet.
K.V. Kamath Committee on Restructuring of Loans
Why in News
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has set up a committee headed by K.V. Kamath on restructuring of loans impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Objective: The Committee is tasked to recommend parameters for one-time restructuring of corporate loans.
- The Committee will formulate sector-specific resolution plans for all accounts with total loan exposure of Rs.1,500 crore and above.
- Deadline: It will submit its recommendations to RBI in 30 days.
- In the recent Monetary Policy report, RBI has allowed banks to restructure loans to reduce the rising stress on incomes and balance sheets of large corporates, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as well as individuals.
- Reasons: A large number of firms that otherwise maintain a good track record are facing the challenge as their debt burden is becoming disproportionate, relative to their cash flow generation abilities.
- This can potentially impact their long-term viability and pose significant financial stability risks if it becomes widespread. It may also lead to an increase in Non-Performing Assets.
- Eligibility: Only those borrowers will be eligible for restructuring whose accounts were classified as standard and not in default for more than 30 days with any lending institution as on 1 March, 2020.
- All other accounts will be considered for restructuring under the Prudential Framework issued by the RBI in 2019, or the relevant instructions as applicable to specific categories of lending institutions where the prudential framework is not applicable.
- The restructuring efforts may or may not include a moratorium on instalment repayments. RBI has left the decision of moratorium on banks, with an eye on averting such loans from slipping into non-performing assets.