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Current Affairs – 1 November 2021

PMJAY Coverage to ‘Missing Middle’

Indian Express

GS 2: Polity and Governance

Context:

  • In a report titled ‘Health Insurance for India’s Missing Middle’, NITI Aayog has suggested that the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) scheme be extended to cover a section of people without health insurance.

About:

  • The Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) launched in September 2018, and State Government extension schemes, provide comprehensive hospitalization cover to the bottom 50% of the population – around 70 crore individuals.

  • Around 20% of the population– 25 crore individuals –are covered through social health insurance, and private voluntary health insurance.
  • The remaining 30% of the population is devoid of health insurance; the actual uncovered population is higher due to existing coverage gaps in PMJAY and overlap between schemes.
  • The report has recommended three models for increasing the health insurance coverage in the country.
    1. The first model focuses on increasing consumer awareness of health insurance.
    2. The second model is about “developing a modified, standardized health insurance product” like ‘Arogya Sanjeevani’, a standardised health insurance product launched by the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDAI) in April 2020. A “slightly modified version” of the standardised Aarogya Sanjeevani insurance product will help increase the update amongst the missing middle. The modified product should have lower waiting periods. It should also include out-patient benefits through a subscription model to increase the value of healthcare provided.
    3. The third model expands government subsidized health insurance through the PMJAY scheme to a wider set of beneficiaries. This model can be utilized for segments of the missing middle which remain uncovered, due to limited ability to pay for the voluntary contributory models outlined above. This is the only model out of three proposed which has fiscal implications for the Government. Though this model assures coverage of the poorer segments on the missing middle population, premature expansion of PMJAY can overburden the scheme.
  • A combination of the three models, phased in at different times, can ensure coverage for the missing middle population.
  • In the short-term, the focus should be on expanding private voluntary insurance through commercial insurers.
  • In the medium-term, once the supply-side and utilization of PMJAY and ESIC is strengthened, their infrastructure can be leveraged to allow voluntary contributions to a PMJAY plus product, or to ESIC’s existing medical benefits.
  • In the long-term, once the low-cost voluntary contributory health insurance market is developed, expansion of PMJAY to the uncovered poorer segments of the missing middle should be considered.
  • The report has also suggested sharing of the government scheme data with the private insurance companies.
  • Government databases such as National Food Security Act (NFSA), Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, or the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) for agricultural households can be shared with private insurers after taking consent from these households.
  • Such databases will help ease the identification of, and outreach to potential customers by insurers.

 

National Unity Day

Hindustan Times

GS 1: Modern Indian History

Context:

  • India celebrated October 31 as National Unity Day to pay tributes to veteran freedom fighter Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

About:

Before Independence

  • He was a barrister, politician and one of the leading figures of the Congress party during the Indian freedom movement.
  • He along with Rajendra Prasad, C. Rajagopalachari and M.A. Ansari came to be known as the ‘No-changers’, who opposed entry into legislative councils.
  • In 1928, he successfully led the landowners of Bardoliin their resistance against increased taxes.
  • In March 1931, he presided over the Karachi session of the Indian National Congress. Karachi Session (1931 ) : President
  • He also participated in Salt Satyagraha (1930), Civil Disobedience (1930), Quit India Movement (1942).
  • He also played an important role in the Mutiny of the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) of February 1946 by counselling the participants.

After Independence

  • He was also the country’s first home minister whose contribution in convincing many of the princely states to join the Union of India after Independence remains especially notable.
  • He was the Chief Architectof India’s Steel frame, i.e., the civil services in India
  • He was dubbed “Sardar” (chief) for his leadership skills in leading the country through the struggle for independence and beyond, and most notably during the integration of the princely states and the India-Pakistan War of 1947.
  • He achieved the incredible feat of persuading almost every single one of the 565 self-governing princely states, that had been released from British suzerainty, to accede to the Union of India.
  • For his commitment to the national integration of the newly independent country, he earned the sobriquet “Iron Man of India”.
  • In September 1948, he led Operation Polo, the name given to the police action for the annexation of the erstwhile state of Hyderabad into the Indian state.
  • He is recognized as the real unifier of India for his colossal contribution to integrate and making India a united and independent nation.

Significance:

  • The government in 2014 declared that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s birth anniversary on October 31 will be celebrated as National Unity Day or Rashtriya Ekta Diwas.
  • It will provide an opportunity to reaffirm the inherent strength and resilience of our nation to withstand the actual and potential threats to the unity, integrity, and security of our country.

 

CAG, Maldives counterpart sign MoU

Business Standard

GS 2: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions

Context:

  • The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) and the Auditor General of Maldives have decided to develop and strengthen their respective institutions’ professional capacity and improve methodologies in the field of audit of public finance.

About CAG:

  • There shall be a CAG of India who shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal and shall only be removed from office in like manner and on like grounds as a Judge of the Supreme Court.
  • Every person appointed to be the CAG shall, before he enters upon his office, make and subscribe before the President or some person appointed in that behalf by him, an oath or affirmation according to the form set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule.
  • The salary and other conditions of service of shall be such as may be determined by Parliament by law and, until they are so determined, shall be as specified in the Second Schedule: Provided that neither the salary of a CAG nor his rights in respect of leave of absence, pension or age of retirement shall be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.
  • CAG shall not be eligible for further office either under the Government of India or under the Government of any State after he has ceased to hold his office.
  • The administrative expenses of the office of the CAG including all salaries, allowances and pensions payable to or in respect of persons serving in that office, shall be charged upon the Consolidated Fund of India.

Article 149 – Duties and Powers of the Comptroller and Auditor-General

CAG shall perform such duties and exercise such powers in relation to the accounts of the Union and of the States and of any other authority or body as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, shall perform such duties and exercise such powers in relation to the accounts of the Union and of the States as were conferred on or exercisable by the Auditor-General of India immediately before the commencement of this Constitution in relation to the accounts of the Dominion of India and of the provinces respectively.

Article 150 – Form of Accounts of The Union and of The States

The accounts of the Union and of the States shall be kept in such form as the President may, on the advice of the CAG, prescribe.

 

Nationwide Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine drive launched

The Hindu

GS 2: Issues related to Health.

Context:

  • Union Health Minister launched a nationwide expansion of Pneumococcal 13-valent Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) under the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) as a part of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’.
  • PCV13 protects against 13 types of bacteria that cause pneumococcal disease.
  • He also released communication and awareness packages on PCV to create awareness. They will be shared with all the States/Union Territories for further adaptation and utilisation.

About:

  • It was for the first time in the country that PCV would be available for universal use. Pneumonia was a leading cause of death among children under five, globally and in India.
  • Pneumonia caused by pneumococcus is the most common cause of severe pneumonia in children.
  • Around 16% of deaths in children occur due to pneumonia in India. The nationwide roll-out of PCV will reduce child mortality by around 60%.
  • Pneumococcal disease refers to any illness caused by pneumococcal bacteria. These bacteria can cause many types of illnesses, including pneumonia, which is an infection of the lungs. Pneumococcal bacteria are one of the most common causes of pneumonia.

Universal Immunization Programme:

  • It was launched in 1985 to prevent mortality and morbidity in children and pregnant women against 12 vaccine-preventable diseases.
  • Under UIP, free of cost vaccination is provided against twelve vaccine-preventable diseases i.e. Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Hepatitis B, Pneumonia and Meningitis due to Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib), Measles, Rubella, Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Rotavirus diarrhoea.
  • The programme is one of the largest health programmes in the world. Despite being operational for many years, UIP has been able to fully immunize only 65% of children under 1 year of age.