IASCLUB Daily Current Affairs : 10 september 2019

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The Lancet Commission report on malaria eradication

Topic: GS–II: Health

A REPORT in The Lancet concludes that it is possible to eradicate malaria as early as 2050 — or within a generation — with the right strategies and sufficient funding. The report, published by The Lancet Commission on malaria eradication, used existing evidence with new epidemiological and financial analyses.

Lower incidence, many cases

  • Since 2000, global malaria incidence and death rates declined by 36 and 60 per cent, respectively. In 2017, 86 countries reported 219 million cases and 4, 35,000 malaria deaths, down from 262 million cases and 8, 39,000 deaths in 2000. Today, more than half of the world’s countries are malaria-free.
  • However, there are over 200 million cases of malaria reported each year, claiming nearly half a million lives. Malaria cases are rising in 55 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
  • There is also inequity, with 29 countries (27 in Africa) accounting for the large majority of new cases and 85 per cent of global deaths in 2017. Two countries (Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo) account for 36 per cent of global cases. On the other hand, 38 countries had incidences of fewer than ten cases per 1,000 population in 2017 and reported just 5% of total malaria deaths.

Modelling a world free from malaria

  • The report used new modelling to estimate plausible scenarios for the distribution and intensity of malaria in 2030 and 2050. Analyses indicate that socioeconomic and environmental trends, together with improved coverage of malaria interventions, will create a world in 2050 with malaria persisting in pockets of low-level transmission in equatorial Africa.
  • To achieve eradication by 2050, the report identifies three ways to accelerate the decline in malaria cases. First, the world must improve implementation of malaria control programnes. Second, they must develop and roll out innovative new tools to overcome the biological challenges to eradication. Third, malaria-endemic countries and donors must provide the financial investment needed.

Tamil Nadu ranks lowest in coverage of iodised salt

Topic: GS–II: Health

 Tamil Nadu has the lowest consumption of iodised salt despite being the third biggest producer of salt in the country, according to a first-of-its-kind national survey to measure the coverage of iodised salt.

More in study:

  • The study shows that 76.3% of Indian households consumed adequately iodised salt, which is salt with at least 15 parts per million of iodine.
  • The five worst performers were Tamil Nadu (61.9%), Andhra Pradesh (63.9%), Rajasthan (65.5%), Odisha (65.8%) and Jharkhand (68.8%).
  • The survey was conducted by Nutrition International in collaboration with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the Indian Coalition for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD). The survey tested the iodine content in samples of cooking salt from households to estimate the coverage of iodised salt.
  • Iodine is a vital micro-nutrient for optimal mental and physical development of human beings. Deficiency of iodine can result in a range of disabilities and disorders such as goitre, hypothyroidism, cretinism, abortion, still births, mental retardation and psychomotor defects. Children born in iodine deficient areas may have up to 13.5 IQ points less than those born in iodine sufficient areas.
  • The survey covered a total of 21,406 households in 29 States and 7 Union Territories in India. The fieldwork was undertaken between October 2018 and March 2019.

 Largest producers

  • Rajasthan, which is the second largest producer of salt, also figured among the five worst covered States. Gujarat produces 71% of salt in the country, followed by Rajasthan at 17% and Tamil Nadu at 11%. The rest of the country accounts for a mere 1% of salt produced.
  • The northeastern States are doing very well with respect to iodised salt consumption at the household level because of the distance they have from the three salt producing centres — Gujarat, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. By and large most States get their salt from Gujarat and Rajasthan and because of the distance, it is sent by rail. This salt is strictly monitored by the Salt Commissioner’s office and if it is inadequately iodised, they don’t allot rakes. Secondly, salt-producing States have access to common (or non-iodised) salt and, therefore, they start consuming it since it is readily available.
  • India made fortification of salt with iodine mandatory for direct human consumption in 1992. This was relaxed in 2000 and then reimposed in 2005. In 2011, the SC, too, mandated universal iodisation for the control of iodine deficiencies.
  • The survey also revealed that 13 out of 36 States have already achieved Universal Salt Iodisation with.

Key recommendations

  • The key recommendation of the study is to sustain the momentum so that iodine coverage does not fall below current levels.
  • It also recommends that the States and the Centre work together to address the current gaps and look into issues that vary from one State to another.

The India-Nepal pipeline

Topic: GS –II: International relations

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart K P Sharma Oli will “switch on” the Motihari-Amalekhgunj petroleum pipeline from their offices in New Delhi and Kathmandu.

From Barauni to Nepal

  • The pipeline will transport fuel from Barauni refinery in Bihar’s Begusarai district to Amalekhgunj in southeastern Nepal, situated across the border from Raxaul in East Champaran district.
  • The 69-km pipeline will drastically reduce the cost of transporting fuel to landlocked Nepal from India. The Amalekhgunj fuel depot will have the capacity to store up to 16,000 kilolitres of petroleum products.
  • The Motihari-Amalekhgunj pipeline will help in tackling the oil storage problem in Nepal and doing away with transportation of petroleum products through tankers. It will ensure smooth, cost-effective and environment-friendly supply of petroleum products to Nepal.

 Idea many years in making

  • The Motihari-Amalekhgunj pipeline project was first proposed in 1996, but progress was slow. Things began to move after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kathmandu in 2014. The following year, the two governments signed an agreement to execute the project; however, political tensions, including India’s alleged “economic blockade” of Nepal, acted as roadblocks in the implementation.
  • In 2017, state-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) signed a petroleum trade agreement to supply about 1.3 million tonnes of fuel annually to Nepal with a promise to double the volume by 2020.
  • In July, the two countries successfully concluded a “testing transfer” through the oil pipeline.

Costs and benefits

  • The project was initially estimated to cost Rs 275 crore, of which India was to bear Rs 200 crore. Subsequently, the NOC said the total project cost had escalated to almost Rs 325 crore.Commercial operation of the cross-border fuel project will bring down fuel price by at least one rupee per litre.

SBI lending rate cut by 10 basis points

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest lender, on Monday reduced its benchmark lending rate — the MCLR — by 10 basis points (bps). With this cut, the one year MCLR of the bank, to which most loan rates are linked, will be 8.15% with effect from Tuesday.

More in news:

  • The move will benefit all the existing SBI customers having home, auto and any other category of loans that are linked to the marginal cost of fund based lending rate (MCLR). The rate cut is aimed at boosting loan demand in this festive season.
  • This is the fifth rate cut by the SBI this financial year. The bank has cut its MCLR by 40 bps since April.
  • The RBI has reduced the key policy rate or the repo rate by 110 bps between February and August to boost slowing growth. The central bank has expressed displeasure at banks for not passing on the reduction in rates to customers.
  • SBI has also reduced retail fixed deposit rates by 20-25 bps and bulk deposit rates by 10-20 bps across various tenures due to surplus liquidity and falling interest rates, the bank said in a statement. The peak FD rate for retail customers (on deposits upto ₹2 crore) is 6.5% for maturities of 1 year to less than 2 years.
 Marginal cost of fund based lending rate (MCLR):

·         The marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR) is the minimum interest rate that a bank can lend at. MCLR is a tenor-linked internal benchmark, which means the rate is determined internally by the bank depending on the period left for the repayment of a loan.

·         MCLR is closely linked to the actual deposit rates and is calculated based on four components: the marginal cost of funds, negative carry on account of cash reserve ratio, operating costs and tenor premium.

·         The Reserve Bank of India introduced the MCLR methodology for fixing interest rates from 1 April 2016. It replaced the base rate structure, which had been in place since July 2010.

·         Under the MCLR regime, banks are free to offer all categories of loans on fixed or floating interest rates. The actual lending rates for loans of different categories and tenors are determined by adding the components of spread to MCLR. Therefore, the bank cannot lend at a rate lower than MCLR of a particular maturity, for all loans linked to that benchmark.

·         Fixed-rate loans with tenors of up to three years are also priced according to MCLR. Banks review and publish MCLR of different maturities, every month. Certain loan rates, like that of fixed-rate loans with tenors above three years and special loan schemes offered by the government, are not linked to MCLR.

Editorial section:

A controversial transfer-The Hindu

Giving age-old ties a new shine-The Hindu

Development matters, but so does identity-The Hindu

Forging the steel frame-The Hindu

A minor win for India at WTO-The Hindu


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