08 November 2017-Current Affairs

  1. ‘SHe-box’
  2. Reducing Neonatal mortality
  3. Demonitisation

  1. SHe-box

  1. Reducing Neonatal mortality 
  • Neonatal mortality is the death of a newborn within 28 days per 1,000 live births
  • The UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for NMR is 12 by 2030. According to World Bank statistics, we moved from 33 in 2010 to 28 in 2015.  If India continues on this slow trajectory, we will achieve the SDG only by 2040.
  • Kerala is already at 6 and Tamil Nadu at 14.
  • Simple fixes, many of them administrative and managerial, don’t get addressed .Achieving the SDG by 2030, or even faster, will require five key interventions—all related to the basic management of public health.
  • Need for 2-3 emergency obstetric points (C-section points) in every district:
    • Usually there are only one-two operational C-section points in most districts. This implies longer travel times for women in labour and overburdening of facilities.
    • To tackle the specialist shortage, some states have tried innovations like rationalization of staff across hospitals as well as leveraging private anaesthetists.
    • Behavioural and accountability issues at the hospitals  also need to be addressed
  • Quality special newborn care units (SNCUs)
    • Conditions like asphyxia, prematurity or sepsis require specialized care in terms of equipments and personnel
    • Two-three SNCUs should be fully functional per district.
    • These need to be integrated with newborn stabilization units at secondary facilities like community health centres through a strong referral system.
  • Addressing key clinical skill gaps:
    • Development agencies like Jhpiego Unicef etc conduct specialized training programmes for clinical staff.States should mandate such training and the practice of these basic protocols.
    • Techniques like kangaroo mother care, monitoring labour progress using partographs , neonatal resuscitation etc can be lifesaving to the child
  • Improving care of pregnant women
    • Many complications   can be identified during pregnancy through tests. However, coverage of antenatal visits by front-line workers is alarmingly low: 51% according to the National Family Health Survey, 2015-16
    • The quality of nurse and pregnant women interactions is often poor. Simple diagnostic procedures are not conducted, resulting in dismal rates of high-risk pregnancy identification.
    • Availability of basic diagnostic equipment, an expansion of front-line worker capacity (using methods like supportive supervision) and their increased accountability towards coverage and quality of antenatal visits are key.
  • Data tracking and accountability
    • Management information systems are only able to track around 20-40% of actual deaths. This is because staff are rarely held accountable for the data. Complex and multiple registers are also to blame.
    • Field data collection processes need to be simplified. Wherever possible, technology like mobile apps should be used. Systemized data-driven reviews of key NMR-related measures, including still-birth rates, are necessary.
  • Reference

 


  1. Demonitisation
  • The central government is celebrating November 8, the anniversary of demonetisation, as Anti-Black Money Day.
  • On November 8, 2016 existing Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes (86% of Indian currency) were invalidated, apparently to curb corruption, black money, fake notes and terror finance, and to promote digitization and non-cash payments. A year later, progress on all these counts appears to be very modest
  • In August the Reserve Bank of India announced that 99% of the devalued bills had been returned, undermining the government’s claim that stashes of black money would be uncovered.
  • India, an informal economy
    • Too many Indian enterprises are small, below the regulatory and tax radar. Indians have traditionally had a preference for gold or real estate for their savings.These made the government constantly strapped for cash and too much capital was tied up unproductively.
  • Negative Impacts of demonitisation 
  • The costs were quite severe, at least in the short term, disrupting ordinary life across the country for several weeks. The slowdown in the economy, which started before demonetisation, also seems to have been exacerbated by demonetisation. 
  • The hardest-hit were those in rural areas, where access to banking and the internet are quite low. 93% of rural centres in the country as unbanked, with the population dependent on roving banking correspondents and on distant urban or semi-urban branches. Access to the internet is equally patchy, with only 3% of households in underdeveloped rural areas having access to internet

 

  • The rural and informal economy suffered disproportionately because most transactions are cash-based. The liquidity squeeze led to a pile-up at wholesale markets, leading to a sharp decline in the prices of produce. Rural consumer sentiment too took a hit, with domestic sales of vehicles plunging sharply.
  • RBI’s domestic earnings declined as it had to pay interest after it mopped up excess liquidity in the banking system following demonetisation. The previous year, the central bank had earned interest in its liquidity management operations. RBI’s printing costs also went up because of the move.
  • In the weeks and months following demonetisation, digital payments (including mobile wallets and mobile banking, credit/debit card transactions, and UPI, or Unified Payments Interface) saw a sharp spike, even as withdrawals from ATMs declined. But much of this seems to have been driven purely because of cash shortage. As remonetisation picked up pace this year, the trend was reversed
  • Almost all of the notes returned to the system as brazen operators found ways to game the system using a mix of dirty bankers, Jan Dhan accounts, poor people who lined up for them, shell companies and false invoices to justify the cash.  Deposit data was used by the tax department to identify people with cash deposits disproportionate to their previous tax returns. But, establishing criminal evasion and ensuring that the corrupt are punished is a monumental effort. Procedures are time-consuming and there are limitations of administrative and judicial capacity
  • The tax base expansion attributable to demonetisation was Rs10,600 crore, lower than what RBI spent on interest expenses, and equivalent to only 0.1% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Counterfeits of the freshly issued notes have already emerged
  •  There seems to have been some impact on the stock of black money (rather than the flow), given that the construction sector has been hit hard. But this may also have led to large-scale job losses. The proportion of high-value notes -often viewed as conduits of black money—has also been rising as new notes have entered the system.
  • Cash-based real estate is still to recover.
  • About 90% of workers and 46% of output fall under the unorganized economy that isn’t fully captured by official data.  The goods and services tax (GST), which kicked in on 1 July 2017 further added to its chaos.
  • Positive effects  of Demonitisation
    • More Indians became familiar with cash-free methods of payment, with mobile wallets and with digital payments.
    • Currency held by the public is now down almost 10% as compared to last year. Currency in circulation is down by 17%
    • Financialisation of household savings got a hard push with demonetisation with assets of life insurance products and mutual funds showing an uptick post demonetisation
    • The year-on-year growth in the number of point of sale (PoS) terminals shows a sharp increase compared to the previous years as does the number of credit cards in the country.
    • Digitisation of transactions is growing with the value of NEFT (National Electronic Funds Transfer) transactions rising from Rs9.5 trillion to Rs12.5 trillion over a year. Digital transactions leave a trail and the more India moves to such transactions, the bigger is the blow to black money.
    • The number of returns filed as of August 2017 was up almost 25% compared to an increase of about 10% a year ago. The full effect on tax base expansion “will materialize gradually” as reported income of new taxpayers grows .However; these are short-term gains in tax compliance and will need a sustained effort to keep the momentum going. 
  • How to promote   digital transactions?
    • Make digital transfers easier eg.:- Ease of opening a bank account online like in China. The goal must be to get transactions online and thus visible, and then the tax base will expand organically.
    • The use of mobile payments in Kenya shows how technological change and the right policy moves can lead to a faster adoption of cashless payments, and boost financial inclusion efforts.
  • The density of PoS terminals and ATMs is significantly lower in India compared to other large economies, even after demonetisation. One reason is overall poverty. There is a strong correlation between digital infrastructure and per capita incomes.

  • The density of ATMs seems to play a role in driving cashless payments —when ATMs are easy to reach, the tendency to withdraw large volumes of cash tends to be lower. Growth in the number of ATMs over the past year has been muted in India, and this perhaps has slowed the transition to a cashless economy.
  • Digital transactions are costly. The mobile prepaid wallets that became popular after demonetization, for example, take away between 3 and 4% of transaction amount. Hence people switched back to cash
  • References
  1. http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/aqVrM77LU0QgZ1OKURxorO/Demonetisation-How-India-can-make-the-best-of-its-big-cash.html
  2. http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/wxDyTt00PCTYcn5AQSzsEK/Demo-one-year-later-Success-or-failure.html
  3. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/discordant-notes/article20000847.ece
  4. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/OIbpY4nbSzhfifgMvcQU3J/Night-lights-and-train-trips-help-India-study-demonetisation.html
  5. http://www.livemint.com/Industry/G0N3yJJXdWoa9RYDh6UFqL/Textile-hub-Tirupur-still-reeling-from-demonetisation-blow.html
  6. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/UJGpXbPMaulpnoRo5jFx3N/A-year-after-demonetisation-Indias-black-money-market-is-t.html
  7. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/ySbMKTIC4MINsz1btccBJO/How-demonetisation-affected-the-Indian-economy-in-10-charts.html