GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.

SAARC Business Leaders Will Gather In Kathmandu This Month To Take Part In SAARC Business Leaders’ Conclave.

Background

  • Business leaders of SAARC member nations will gather in the Capital later this month to take part in the SAARC Business Leaders’ Conclave that is scheduled to be held from March 16 to 18 with an objective to promote investment, innovation and entrepreneurship in the region.
  • The bi-annual event of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC-CCI) is going to be held in Nepal for the second time and the government is going to host the regional event jointly with SAARC-CCI, according to Suraj Vaidya, president of SAARC-CCI.
  • Former president of India, Pranab Mukherjee, has been invited to deliver a keynote speech in the conclave. Mukherjee was the host of thesecond SAARC business leaders’ conclave.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • India has so far conducted this event three times, and Nepal and Sri Lanka have organised it once so far.
  • The South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) meeting is also scheduled towards the end of the conclave. The commerce ministers of the region are going to meet after four years to discuss unresolved issues to bring the SAFTA agreement into effect. There will be bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the event.
  • One-fourth of the world’s population lives in South Asia and it has a huge number of youth population.
  • The World Bank will provide support to the event as a knowledge partner. The event will provide a common platform to South Asian think-tanks, policymakers, and businesspeople.
  • They are slated to hold intensive interactions on various issues to discuss, debate and come up with solutions and opportunities to take South Asia on the path of shared prosperity through economic integration.

Sources- The Himalayan Times.

GS Paper II- Governance.

Govt To Provide Free Viral Load Testing To People Living With HIV/AIDS.

Background

  • The government on 26th February, 2018 launched a scheme to provide free of cost viral load testing, at least once a year, for 1.2 million people who are living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) and are on treatment.
  • The viral load is used to monitor the effectiveness of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) over time. It measures the amount of HIV genetic material (RNA) in the blood and reports how many copies of the virus are present.
  • Health minister J.P. Nadda, while launching the initiative in New Delhi, said that with the initiative the government will monitor the effectiveness of treatment of patients on lifelong ART treatment.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The routine viral load testing will optimize the utilization of first line regimens, thus preventing drug resistance and ensuring the longevity of people living with HIV. Viral load testing will empower medical officers at ART 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 and to be brought under ART services.
  • In 2017, India revised the ART treatment protocols to initiate all PLHIV on ART. The ‘treat all’ initiative was started to ensure that treatment is started early and the virus transmission is curtailed both at the individual and the community level.
  • According to the union health ministry, about 1.2 million PLHIV are availing the benefit of free treatment from more than 530 ART centres.
  • Nadda also released the National Guidelines for HIV-1 Viral Load Laboratory Testing, National Operational Guidelines for Viral Load Testing, Standard Operating Procedure for HIV-1 Quant Assay with Cartridge-based nucleic acid amplification test (CBNAAT) (to diagnose tuberculosis and rifampicin (TB drug) resistance) and Guidelines on Quality Monitoring System for Outsourced Viral Load Tests.
  • With launch of Test and Treat, there is increase in number of PLHIV needing treatment and thus the Viral Load testing. With increase in number of PLHIV on treatment the monitoring needs have also increased, said Anupriya Patel, minister of state for health and family welfare.
  • India has the third largest population of people with HIV after South Africa and Nigeria, according to UNAIDS. The report released n July 2017 revealed that in India, only 49% of patients were on Antiretroviral therapy (ART) in 2016. India had 2.1 million people living with HIV at the end of 2016 and 36.7 million globally, according to the report.

Sources- Livemint.

GS Paper III- Economic Development.

RBI Releases Ombudsman Scheme For NBFCs.

Background

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 23rd February, 2018 issued an ombudsman scheme for non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), offering a grievance redressal mechanism for their customers.
  • An officer at the RBI not below the rank of general manager will be appointed by the regulator as the ombudsman with territorial jurisdiction being specified by the central bank. The tenure of each ombudsman cannot exceed three years and can be reduced by the regulator if needed.
  • Any customer or person can file a compliant with the ombudsman on various grounds like non-payment or inordinate delay in payment of interest, non-repayment of deposits, lack of transparency in loan agreement, non-compliance with RBI directives on fair practices code for NBFCs, levying of charges without sufficient notice to the customers and failure or delay in returning the securities documents despite repayment of dues among others.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • If a complaint is not settled by agreement within a specified period as the ombudsman may allow the parties, he may, after affording the parties a “reasonable opportunity to present their case, either in writing or in a meeting, pass an award either allowing or rejecting the complaint”.
  • Only written complaints or those in electronic format will be accepted. The ombudsman may also award compensation not exceeding one hundred thousand rupees to the complainant, taking into account the loss of time, expenses incurred, harassment and mental anguish suffered by the complainant.
  • The NBFC shall, unless it has preferred an appeal, within one month from the date of receipt by it of the acceptance in writing of the award by the complainant under sub-clause (8), comply with the award and intimate compliance to the complainant and the ombudsman.
  • The ombudsman will be required to send a report to the RBI governor annually on 30 June containing general review of the activities of his office during the preceding financial year and other information required by the central bank.
  • The scheme also allows a person to appeal in case of dissatisfaction with any award by the ombudsman.
  • Any person aggrieved by an award under Clause 12 allowing the complaint or rejecting the complaint for the reasons referred to in sub clauses (c) to (f) of clause 13, may within 30 days of the date of receipt of communication of award or rejection of complaint, prefer an appeal before the appellate authority.

Sources- Livemint.