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Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Why in the news?

  • The Central TB Division of the Health Ministry has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence to explore the application of cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence technology in its fight against TB. 
  • As part of the collaboration, Wadhwani AI would be supporting National TB programme become AI-ready which would include, developing, piloting, and deploying AI-based solutions. It would support the programme in vulnerability and hot-spot mapping, modelling novel methods of screening and diagnostics and enabling decision support for care-givers apart from supporting the RNTCP in adoption of other AI technologies.

India’s TB Burden

  • According to the WHO’s 2018 Global TB Report, ten countries accounted for 80 per cent of the 3.6 million gap, led by India (26 per cent), Indonesia (11 per cent), Nigeria (9 per cent). The gap is suspected to be caused by a combination of under-diagnosis and under-reporting.
  • India also led in cases of Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB). Nearly half of the world’s MDR-TB cases are in India (24 per cent), China (13 per cent), and Russia (10 per cent).

What steps is India taking to control/combat TB?

The Government is targeting TB under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP). RNTCP has released a ‘National strategic plan for tuberculosis 2017-2025’ (NSP) for the control and elimination of TB in India by 2025. According to the NSP TB elimination have been integrated into the four strategic pillars of “Detect – Treat – Prevent – Build”(DTPB).

  • Notification of new cases: Notification of all TB patients from all health care providers is made mandatory by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India since 2012. All health care providers (clinical establishments run or managed by government (including local authorities), private, or NGO sectors, and /or individual practitioners) should notify every TB case to local health authorities (district health officer, chief medical officer of a district, and municipal health officer of a municipal corporation/ municipality) every month.  With its amendment in 2015, all laboratories are also included to notify TB cases.
  • NIKSHAY: To facilitate TB notification, RNTCP has developed a case-based web-based TB surveillance system called “NIKSHAY” (https://nikshay.gov.in ) for both government and private health care facilities. Future enhancements under NIKSHAY are for patients support, logistics management, direct data transfers, adherence support and to support interface agencies which are supporting programme to expand the reach.
  • Public Private Partnership: For the promotion of public-private mix (PPM) in TB prevention and care, private providers are provided incentives for TB case notification, and for ensuring treatment adherence and treatment completion. The incentives are provided through direct beneficiary transfer.
  • Free Drugs and Diagnostic Tests: Free drugs and diagnostic tests are provided to TB patients seeking treatment from private health sector. There are two approaches for ensuring access to free drugs and diagnostic tests to TB patients in the private sector, first is access to programme- provided drugs and diagnostics through attractive linkages; and second is reimbursement of market- available drugs and diagnostics.
  • Nikshaya Poshan Yojana:  It is centrally sponsored scheme under the National Health Mission (NHM), financial incentive of Rs.500/- per month is provided for nutritional support to each notified TB patient for duration for which the patient is on anti-TB treatment. Incentives are delivered through Direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme to bank accounts of beneficiary.
  • Expanding options for ICT based treatment adherence support mechanisms.
  • Intensifying TB control activities in key populations is addressed in NSP such as TB-HIV, Diabetics, Tobacco use and Alcohol dependence, Poor, undernourished, economically and socially backward communities, TB control in hilly and difficult terrains, Substance dependence and sexual minorities, pregnant, Paediatric population, Prison Inmates and staff of prisons/jails,management of extra pulmonary TB
  • Air borne infection control measures:TB infection control is a combination of measures aimed at minimizing the risk of TB transmission within population and hospital and other settings. 
  • Contact tracing: Since transmission can occur from index case to the contact any time (before diagnosis or during treatment) all contacts of TB patients must be evaluated.
  • Isoniazid Preventive Therapy (IPT): Preventive therapy is recommended to Children < 6 years of age, who are close contacts of a TB patient. Children will be evaluated for active TB by a medical officer/ pediatrician and after excluding active TB he/she will be given INH preventive therapy
  • Addressing social determinants of TB like poverty, malnutrition, urbanization, indoor air pollution, etc. require inter departmental/ ministerial coordinated activities and the programme is proactively facilitating this coordination.
  • Health system strengthening for TB control under the National Strategic Plan 2017-2025 is recommended in the form of building and strengthening enabling policies, empowering institutions and human resources with enhanced capacities.

Government E-Marketplace

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic:  e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

Why in the news?

  • Government e Marketplace (GeM), Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry has signed an MoU with Small Industries Development Bank of India [SIDBI] to benefit MSMEs, women entrepreneurs, Self Help Groups (SHGs), Women Self Help Groups and various loan beneficiaries under MUDRA and Stand-up India scheme. 
  • This MoU will enable promotion of special initiatives of GeM like Womaniya and Start-up Runway with SIDBI stakeholders. GeM and SIDBI will take steps to ensure payments within a guaranteed timeframe to sellers, enhance working capital availability through bill discounting and control NPAs through control of end use.

What is Government e-Marketplace?

Government e-Marketplace (GeM) is a one stop portal to facilitate online procurement of common use Goods & Services required by various Government Departments / Organizations / PSUs. GeM aims to enhance transparency, efficiency and speed in public procurement. It provides the tools of e-bidding, reverse e-auction and demand aggregation to facilitate the government users achieve the best value for their money.

What are the advantages of GeM for sellers?

  • Direct access to all Government departments.
  • One-stop shop for marketing with minimal efforts
  • One-stop shop for bids / reverse auction on products / services
  • New Product Suggestion facility available to Sellers
  • Dynamic pricing: Price can be changed based on market conditions
  • Seller friendly dashboard for selling, and monitoring of supplies and payments
  • Consistent and uniform purchase procedures


What is Womaniya?

It an initiative to enable women entrepreneurs and women self-help groups [WSHGs] to sell handicrafts and handloom, accessories, jute and coir products, home décor and office furnishings, directly to various Government ministries, departments and institutions. The initiative seeks to develop women entrepreneurship on the margins of society to achieve gender-inclusive economic growth.


Bank Consolidation

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: mobilization of resources

Why in the news?

Finance Minister has announced the consolidation of 10 public sector banks (PSBs). The FM also announced recapitalisation of PSBs up to a total of Rs. 55,000 crore. The banks that will be merged are:

  • Punjab National Bank + Oriental Bank of Commerce + United Bank (will become 2nd largest Public sector bank)
  • Canara Bank + Syndicate Bank
  • Union Bank + Andhra Bank + Corporation Bank
  • Indian Bank + Allahabad Bank

What are the benefits of bank consolidation?

  • High CASA and lending capacity combined in consolidated bank
  • Large cost reduction potential due to network overlaps
  • Cost saving and income opportunities for JVs and subsidiaries
  • Similar culture to enable smooth consolidation
  • Business to become twice to 4½ times existing bank business for Union Bank + Andhra Bank + Corporation Bank
  • Major scaling up of reach due to complementary networks
  • Enhanced risk taking capacity