GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.
Delhi TB Summit: WHO South-East Asia Countries Commit To End TB.
- Tracking progress to eliminate tuberculosis, member countries of WHO South-East Asia Region have committed to further intensifying efforts to ensure rapid and concrete progress to End TB by 2030.
- In a statement adopted at the Delhi End TB Summit in New Delhi, member countries unanimously agreed to actualising and intensifying essential actions agreed to in the Delhi Call to Action which was adopted in March last year to accelerate efforts to End TB in the Region, host to one fourth of the global population but a disproportionate 46% of the global TB burden.
- Progress against TB in this Region will have a major impact on the progress globally, said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organisation.
Highlights Of The Development-
- Reviewing efforts being made to end TB since the adoption of the Delhi Call for Action on March 16, 2017, Member countries noted that though efforts have been strengthened with increased attention, investments and initiatives; the stepped-up response was falling short of what was required to reach the critical thresholds for ending TB.
- The Member countries of the Region stressed their firm intent to collectively reach out to 2 million missing TB cases and 150 000 multidrug-resistance cases by 2020 and implement a response that is demonstrably adequate for ending TB.
- In the statement, the countries committed to multisectoral and empowered national initiatives, reporting to the highest levels of government, to lead the TB programme.
- The Member countries committed to increasing budgetary and human resource allocations by governments as well as by their global, domestic and other partners so as to ensure that national TB plans are fully funded.
- They also committed to universal access to comprehensive, integrated TB care and prevention services, to achieve universal health coverage as committed to in the Sustainable Development Goals, by enabling the best possible care to each and every person, including migrants, the aged and other high-risk populations, living with any form of TB including drug-resistant TB and TB-HIV co-infections.
- To address the challenge of TB in a holistic manner, the Member countries agreed to supplement medical care for TB with social and financial protection in both high and lower incidence countries.
- As member countries committed to ‘working together to end TB’, WHO reiterated that it stands with the Stop TB Partnership and all partners to make that vision a reality.
- Hosted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, the World Health Organization and the Stop TB Partnership, the Delhi End TB Summit 2018 was inaugurated Tuesday by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.
- The health ministers of a number of countries including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Kazakhstan and Peru are also participating.
GS Paper II- Governance.
CCEA Approves Proposal To Continue Urea Subsidy Scheme.
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 14th March, 2018 accorded the approval to the proposal of Department of Fertilizers to continue Urea Subsidy Scheme up to 2019-20 at a total estimated cost of Rs 1,64,935 crore and for disbursement of fertilizer subsidy.
- This decision implies that there will be no increase in the price of urea, till 2020.
- Chemical fertilizers have played an important role in making the country self-reliant in food grain production and provide a very vital input for the growth of Indian agriculture.
Highlights Of The Development-
- For sustained agricultural growth and to promote balanced nutrient application, urea is made available to farmers at a statutorily controlled price, which at present is Rs. 5360/- per MT (exclusive of the central/state tax and other charges towards neem coating).
- The difference between the delivered cost of fertilizers at the farm gate and MRP payable by the farmer is given as subsidy to the fertilizer manufacturer/importer by the government of India.
- At present, there are 31 urea manufacturing units, out of which 28 urea units use natural gas, using domestic gas/LNG/CBM as feedstock and the remaining three urea units use naphtha as fuel.
- Urea Subsidy is a part of Central Sector Scheme of Department of Fertilizers, w.e.f April 1, 2017, and is wholly financed by the government of India through budgetary support.
- The continuation of Urea Subsidy Scheme will ensure the timely payment of subsidy to the urea manufacturers resulting in the timely availability of urea to farmers.
- Urea subsidy also includes imported urea subsidy which is directed towards import to bridge the gap between assessed demand and indigenous production of urea in the country.
- It also includes freight subsidy for movement of urea across the country.
- This is in continuation of the farmer-friendly policies of the central government.
- Earlier, 100 percent neem coated urea was made mandatory in 2015.
- The government had earlier notified New Urea Policy, 2015, with the objectives of maximizing indigenous urea production; promoting energy efficiency in urea production; and rationalizing subsidy burden on the government.
- This led to the highest ever production of 245 LMT during 2015-16.
- In effect, 20 LMT of urea during was additionally produced without adding additional any capacity.
GS Paper III- Economic Development.
US Challenges India’s Export Subsidy Programmes At WTO.
- The US has challenged India’s export subsidy schemes at the World Trade Organisation, saying these programmes harm American workers and manufacturers by creating an “uneven” playing field.
- US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer argued that at least half a dozen Indian programmes provide financial benefits to Indian exporters, which allow them to sell their goods more cheaply to the detriment of American workers and manufacturers.
- These programs are: the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme; Export Oriented Units Scheme and sector specific schemes, including Electronics Hardware Technology Parks Scheme, Special Economic Zones, Export Promotion Capital Goods Scheme and Duty Free Imports for Exporters Programme.
Highlights Of The Development-
- These export subsidy programmes harm American workers by creating an uneven playing field on which they must compete, Lighthizer said on 14h March, 2018. USTR will continue to hold our trading partners accountable by vigorously enforcing US rights under our trade agreements and by promoting fair and reciprocal trade through all available tools, including the WTO, he added.
- The announcement from Lighthizer came while Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale was on his maiden visit to the US.
- In a statement, the USTR alleged that through these programmes, India is given exemption from certain duties, taxes, and fees which benefits numerous Indian exporters, including producers of steel products, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, information technology products, textiles, and apparel.
- According to the Indian government documents, thousands of Indian companies are receiving benefits totaling to over USD 7 billion annually from these programmes.
- The USTR said export subsidies provide an unfair competitive advantage to recipients.
- A limited exception to this rule is for specified developing countries that may continue to provide export subsidies temporarily until they reach a defined economic benchmark.
- India was initially within this group, but it surpassed the benchmark in 2015. India’s exemption has expired, but India has not withdrawn its export subsidies, USTR alleged.
- Exports from Special Economic Zones increased over 6,000 per cent from 2000 to 2017, and in 2016, exports from Special Economic Zones accounted for over USD 82 billion in exports, or 30 per cent of India’s export volume.
Sources- Business World.