Daily News Analysis 23th Dec. 2023 (The Hindu)

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Here are the topics covered for  23th December 2023:

GS-2: Republic Day Guest, One-stop health sector regulator

GS-3 :Rare Earth Technologies , Economic Scenario

Facts of prelims: National Mathematics Day 2023, PM-AJAY Scheme

 

Republic Day Guest

Context

  • On January 26, 2024, French President Emmanuel Macron will be the chief guest at India\’s Republic Day celebrations, as confirmed by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). 

 

Why is India’s Republic Day chief guest an honour?

  • The invitation to serve as the chief guest at Republic Day celebrations is a significant honour, representing the highest protocol accorded by a country. 
  • The chief guest assumes a central role in various ceremonial activities that have become integral to the event and its preparations over time.
  • The Republic Day chief guest is honoured with a ceremonial guard of honour, an evening reception by the President, a wreath-laying ceremony at Rajghat, a banquet, a lunch hosted by the Prime Minister, and calls from the Vice-President and External Affairs Minister.

 

How the Republic Day Chief guest is chosen?

  • The process starts nearly six months in advance of the event.
  • The invitation for the Republic Day chief guest is a significant indicator of the strong friendship between India and the guest country. 
  • The decision is influenced by political, commercial, military, and economic interests, aiming to enhance and strengthen ties across these dimensions.
  • The historical association with the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has been a factor in selecting the Republic Day Chief Guest. 
  • NAM, initiated in the late 1950s and early 1960s, aimed at uniting newly decolonized nations to remain neutral in the Cold War conflicts and provide mutual support. 
  • The inaugural Chief Guest in 1950, President Sukarno of Indonesia, was among the founding members of NAM.

 

 one-stop health sector regulator

Context: 

  • The Central government is considering the establishment of a health sector regulator that would oversee both private and government health insurance schemes. This move aims to enhance affordable insurance coverage for all citizens.

 

Key points : 

  • The Ministries of Finance (MoF) and Health are in the early stages of discussions regarding the necessity of creating a regulatory body for the health sector.
  • The Association of Healthcare Providers India (AHPI) has expressed support for this initiative. In a letter to the MoF, they highlighted the government\’s commitment to making healthcare accessible and affordable. 
  • They anticipate that with the increasing penetration of private insurance and government-run insurance, a significant portion of the population could soon be covered.

 

Unified Regulation for Private and Government Insurance:

  • Doctors\’ bodies are urging for the consolidation of private and government insurance under a single regulator. 
  • This would include the regulation of government schemes like Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, the Central Government Health Scheme, and the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation.

 

Restructuring Government Insurance Schemes:

  • Dr. Girdhar Gyani, DG, AHPI, emphasized the need for restructuring government insurance schemes to encourage more tertiary care hospitals to participate. 
  • The restructuring should involve scientific determination of reimbursement rates for various medical procedures. 
  • The lack of such a mechanism currently discourages many hospitals from empanelling under these schemes, limiting the extension of tertiary care services to beneficiaries.

 

Insurance for All by 2047:

  • The government\’s broader vision, outlined in the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India(IRDAI) Vision 2047, is to achieve \’Insurance for All by 2047.\’ 
  • This ambitious goal envisions that every citizen will have appropriate life, health, and property insurance coverage, while every enterprise will be supported by suitable insurance solutions.

Conclusion: 

The proposed establishment of a health sector regulator is seen as a crucial step aiming to address issues related to accessibility, affordability, and the effective restructuring of government insurance schemes, ultimately contributing to the goal of providing insurance coverage for all citizens by 2047.

 

Rare Earth Technologies

Context

  • China has banned exports of technologies for processing rare earths, the latest sign President Xi Jinping’s administration is hitting back against US-led curbs on advanced computer chip sales to Chinese companies.

 

About Rare Earth Elements

  • The rare-earth elements (REE), also known as rare-earth metals or rare earths, and occasionally referred to as lanthanides (inclusive of yttrium and scandium), constitute a group of 17 nearly identical lustrous silvery-white soft heavy metals. 
  • Compounds containing rare earths find diverse applications in electrical and electronic components, lasers, glass manufacturing, magnetic materials, and various industrial processes.
  • Scandium and yttrium are categorized as rare-earth elements due to their tendency to occur in the same ore deposits as the lanthanides, exhibiting similar chemical properties while possessing distinct electrical and magnetic characteristics. 
  • The term \’rare-earth\’ is misleading as these elements are not inherently scarce, although historically, their isolation was a time-consuming process.

 

Why is China Banned?

  • China, the world\’s top processor of rare earths, banned the export of technology to make rare earth magnets, adding it to a ban already in place on technology to extract and separate the critical materials.
  • China has significantly tightened rules guiding exports of several metals this year, in an escalating battle with the West over control of critical minerals.
  • Chinese officials have in recent months stressed national security as the main reason for the controls. 
  • However, many experts see them as evidence Beijing is leveraging its dominance over global clean technology supply chains to fight back at trade restrictions that have been expanded by the administration of US President Joe Biden.

 

Economic Scenario

Context

  • Addressing inflation and stimulating growth remained primary concerns for members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), as indicated by the minutes of the last meeting released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

 

Current Indications

  • MPC member Jayant Varma noted that current indications suggest the economic environment is becoming more favourable in terms of both inflation and growth after several challenging quarters.
  • Two challenges to maintain this benign:
    • Need to maintain a restrictive monetary policy for an extended period to bring inflation to the 4% target. 
    • It is crucial to prevent the real interest rate from becoming excessively high as inflation drops below the upper tolerance band.
  • At present, the projected inflation two to four quarters ahead averaged below 4.75%, the prevailing money market interest rates of 6.75%, (close to the MSF rate) therefore, represented a real interest rate of more than 2%.
  • As the MPC gains confidence in the downward trajectory of inflation, particularly excluding transient food price spikes, there is a compelling case to consistently adjust the nominal policy rate to maintain the real interest rate slightly below 1.5%, based on projected inflation 3-5 quarters ahead.
  • Underlining the susceptibility of inflation to spikes in food prices, MPC member and Deputy Governor Michael D. Patra emphasized that the repeated occurrence of such spikes, as seen in the momentum of daily data on essential food items for November and early December, was leading to the build-up of inflationary pressures. This accumulation could contribute to persistence in inflation, evident in a left-tailed skew in its distribution.
  • The overall inflation outlook is anticipated to be influenced by volatile and uncertain food prices along with intermittent weather shocks. 
  • Specifically, in the months of November and December, there is a likelihood of a resurgence in vegetable price inflation, contributing to an increase in both food and headline inflation. 
  • It is imperative to stay vigilant for any indications of the broadening of price impulses that could disrupt the ongoing disinflationary process.

 

Facts of prelims: 

National Mathematics Day 2023

  • National Mathematics Day is observed annually on December 22nd since 2012, commemorating the birth anniversary of Srinivasa Ramanujan, a distinguished Indian mathematician.
  • Srinivasa Ramanujan was born on December 22, 1887, in Erode, Tamil Nadu
  • He is renowned for his groundbreaking contributions to number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions.
  • The number 1729, famously known as the Ramanujan number, is the smallest integer that can be expressed as the sum of two distinct cubes in two different ways.
  • Ramanujan left a legacy of approximately 3,900 results, including equations and identities. Notable among his discoveries is the infinite series of Pi.
  • His contributions extend to hypergeometric series, Riemann series, elliptic integrals, mock theta function, and the theory of divergent series.
  • Ramanujan\’s life and work are depicted in the 2015 biographical film \”The Man Who Knew Infinity.\”

 

PM-AJAY Scheme

Recently, the Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment provided information to the Rajya Sabha regarding the PM-AJAY scheme.

  • Pradhan Mantri Anusuchit Jaati Abhyuday Yojana (PM-AJAY) is a 100% Centrally Sponsored Scheme. 
  • It is a consolidation of three Centrally Sponsored Schemes, namely Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY), Special Central Assistance to Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCA to SCSP), and Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojana (BJRCY).

 

Objectives:

  • Increase the income of the target population through various income-generating schemes, skill development, and infrastructure development.
  • Reduce poverty among the target population and elevate them above the poverty line.
  • Individuals belonging to Scheduled Castes living below the poverty line are eligible to receive benefits under this scheme. 
  • Additionally, villages with 50% or more Scheduled Caste population qualify for grants under the Scheme for Infrastructure Development.

 

The PM-AJAY Scheme has been in implementation since the fiscal year 2021-22, structured into three components

  • Development of Scheduled Caste-dominated villages into an \’Adarsh Gram\’ component.
  • Grants-in-aid for District/State-level Projects for socio-economic betterment of Scheduled Castes\’ component.
  • Construction of Hostels in Higher Educational Institutions\’ component.

This scheme reflects the government\’s commitment to the upliftment, empowerment, and socio-economic development of the Scheduled Castes in India.

 

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