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News Analysis: 08-08-2018
General Studies-II : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Most babies not breastfed in their first hour
As many as 6 out of 10 babies born in the country are not able to begin breastfeeding within one hour of birth despite an improvement in institutional deliveries due to a lack of supportive work environment, inadequate skills of health care providers as well as caesarean deliveries, according to a new report made public on Tuesday.
Mother’s breast milk within one hour of birth ensures that the infant receives the colostrum or first milk, which is rich in protective factors.
The WHO and UNICEF also recommend exclusive breastfeeding for infants up to the age of six months and thereafter complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.
The 5th Report of Assessment of India’s Policy and Programmes on Breastfeeding and Infant and Young Child Feeding in 2018 also gives India a score of 45 out of 100 on 10 parameters under the category of policy and programmes.
However, India performs better in terms of infant and young child feeding practices scoring 34 out of 50 on five parameters.
The report has been prepared by a national consortium of public health groups and agencies including government departments, AIIMS and UNICEF, under the aegis of World Breastfeeeding Trends Initiative (WBTI).
Early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth is 41.5%, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is 54.9%, inclusion of complementary feeding between 6-8 months is 42.7% and adequate complementary feeding and minimum acceptable diet among 6-23 months children is as low as 9.6%, the report cites data from NFHS-4.
India has made some progress over the years and between National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-3 and NFHS-4, early initiation of breastfeeding has improved from 23.4% to 41.5% children breastfed within one hour of birth.
This hasn’t kept pace with the stark increase in institutional deliveries which more than doubled during the same period, from 38.7 % to 78.9%.
Source: The Hindu
General Studies-III : Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
The GST Council does well to focus on the concerns of small firms
The Goods and Services Tax Council met last Saturday for the second time within a fortnight.
However, this time it refrained from further rate rejigs. While the new indirect tax regime has expanded India’s tax base and brought more firms into the formal economy, revenues have slipped somewhat after peaking at ₹1.03 lakh crore in April (for taxes accrued in March) this year.
The first three months of this financial year have yielded ₹94,016 crore, ₹95,610 crore and ₹96,483 crore, respectively — this is well short of the ₹1.lakh crore revenue target a month for 2018-19.
The steep rate cuts effected on several items in the last Council meeting were to kick in from July 27, so their full impact on revenue collections may take more time to unfold.
Moody’s Investors Service reckons that the revenue loss from the most recent tax cuts may be 0.04-0.08% of GDP annually.
This is marginal at best, and could be offset by stronger consumption-led growth and better tax compliance.
But it is in this context of revenue concerns that the Council’s dedicated focus at its latest meeting on issues facing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) is a creditable move.
Setting up a ministerial group to look into the problems faced by MSMEs since India moved to the GST regime last July is a signal that the government is not brushing aside the implementation issues that still trouble smaller players.
Firms with an annual turnover of less than ₹5 crore constitute 93% of the registered taxpayers under the GST.
At its previous meeting, the Council had decided that such businesses need no longer file cumbersome returns every month, but only on a quarterly basis.
There may be more room for the ministerial panel to recommend further easing of compliance for micro firms with turnover far below ₹5 crore and enhancing the ₹50,000 threshold for mandatory use of e-way bills to track movement of taxable goods.
A deeper dive to understand why 1.7 million taxpayers had registered under the GST by December 2017 although their operations were below the taxable limit could also yield some pointers.
The Council meeting has also, wisely, returned to a consensual approach on decisions.
While a few States had reservations about the rate cuts at the last meeting, this time their concerns on a proposal to push digital payments by offering a cash-back to consumers using RuPay cards or the UPI platform have been incorporated.
Now, States will volunteer to run a pilot on these lines and a final decision will be taken after a detailed system-wide evaluation of such incentives.
This indicates the Centre’s keenness to retain a cooperative approach with States that has generally marked the Council’s functioning.
Source: The Hindu
General Studies-III : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Railways’ focus misplaced: CAG
The focus of Railways’ modernisation plans for its stations is mainly on improving the façade and passenger facilities, rather that removing bottlenecks to ensure timely movement of trains.
The latter should be one of the most important parameters to judge the quality of service being provided to the passengers, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has said in its report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.
Important activities such as providing platforms with adequate length for easy boarding of long trains, providing adequate facilities for stabling trains and for their maintenance in stations, and adequate yard capacity significantly contribute to timely arrival and departure of trains, the CAG pointed out.
During a review of the existing infrastructure at 15 selected stations, the audit noticed that infrastructure such as platforms, washing pit lines and stabling lines at the stations were not augmented to match the increase in number of trains handled in all these stations.
Non-availability of adequate washing pit lines and stabling lines led to movement of empty trains to other depots for maintenance purposes. This caused blockage of lines.
Source: The Hindu
General Studies-II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.
Trump warns world against doing business with Iran
U.S. President Donald Trump warned countries against doing business with Iran on Tuesday as he hailed the “most biting sanctions ever imposed”, triggering a mix of anger, fear and defiance in .
Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement in May had already spooked investors and triggered a run on the Iranian rial long before nuclear-related sanctions went back into force.
The sanctions reimposed on Tuesday — targeting access to U.S. banknotes and key industries such as cars and carpets — were unlikely to cause immediate economic turmoil.
Iran’s markets were actually relatively buoyant, with the rial strengthening by 20% since Sunday after the government relaxed foreign exchange rules and allowed unlimited, tax-free gold and currency imports.
But the second tranche on November 5 covering Iran’s vital oil sector could be far more damaging — even if several key customers such as China, India and Turkey have refused to significantly cut their purchases.
His Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani dismissed the idea of talks while crippling sanctions were in effect
Source: The Hindu
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