News 1: Wholesale inflation slowed to an 11-month low at 12.4% in August
Inflation based on the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) eased in August to the slowest pace since last September at 12.4%, from 13.9% in July, with food being the sole segment to report faster price gains at 9.93% as it rebounded from July’s three-month low of 9.41%.
Wholesale price Index
Base year: 2011 – 12
Wholesale Price Index (WPI) measures the average change in the prices of commodities for bulk sale at the level of early stage of transactions.
The index basket of the WPI covers commodities falling under the three Major Groups namely Primary Articles, Fuel and Power and Manufactured products.
WPI basket does not cover services.
News 2: U.S. weighs China sanctions over Taiwan
The U.S. is considering options for a sanctions package against China to deter it from invading Taiwan, with the European Union coming under diplomatic pressure from Taipei to do the same, according to sources familiar with the discussions.
The idea is to take sanctions beyond measures already taken in the West to restrict some trade and investment with China in sensitive technologies like computer chips and telecoms equipment.
One China principle and One China policy:
The People’s Republic of China follows the One China Principle, which sees Taiwan as an inalienable part of China, with its sole legitimate government in Beijing. The US acknowledges this position but not necessarily its validity.
The US follows the One China Policy, meaning that The People’s Republic of China was and is the only China, with no recognition for the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan) as a separate sovereign entity. The US refuses to give in to the PRC’s demands to recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.
India – Taiwan:
India and Taiwan do not have formal diplomatic relations but since 1995, both sides have maintained representative offices in each other’s capitals that function as de facto embassies.
News 3: Set up new regulator for medical devices, says panel
The department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health, has expressed, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) is falling short in effectively regulating the medical devices industry. The organisation in its existing structure and expertise is more pharma centric.
More certified medical devices testing laboratories,
Robust IT-enabled feedback- driven post-market surveillance system
Medical device registry, particularly for implants to ensure traceability of patients to assess performance of implants.
New legislation should set up a new regulator at different levels for regulating the medical devices industry.
Adequate common infrastructure including accredited laboratories in various regions of the country for standard testing will significantly encourage local manufacturers to get their products tested for standards and such measures undertaken will also help in reducing the cost of production which ultimately will improve the availability and affordability of medical devices in the market.
The Ministry needs to work in synergy with State governments and impart the necessary skills to the local medical device officers and also devise a mechanism to regularly designate State Medical personnel as Medical Device/Medical Device Testing Officers so that the mandate of the legislation can be implemented effectively.
The Ministry should allow the new regulator to involve institutions such as IISC, CSIR, DRDO and network of IITs to test medical devices for safety and efficacy.
A single-window clearing platform for application of licence for manufacturing, export, import shall integrate all these bodies involved in the regulation of medical devices.
Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO):
Ministry: Ministry of Health and Family welfare
Objective: The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) is the Central Drug Authority for discharging functions assigned to the Central Government under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
Regulatory control over the import of drugs, approval of new drugs and clinical trials, meetings of Drugs Consultative Committee (DCC) and Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB), approval of certain licenses
News 4: Union govt. push for use of Hindi
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has written to the Ministry of External Affairs to promote the use of Hindi for official work in banks, public sector undertakings, embassies and other government offices located in foreign countries.
Encouragement of Hindi:
In 2017, MHA accepted most of the recommendations contained in the 2011 report of a parliamentary standing committee on Hindi.
Some of the recommendations were: option to write exams in Hindi, minimum knowledge of Hindi must for government jobs, 50% government advertisements in Hindi, railway tickets should be bilingual with Hindi being one of the languages and announcement at railway stations in “C” category (non-Hindi speaking) such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and Kerala should be in Hindi.
In 2017, the Ministry said that the websites of all the Union Ministries and the offices under their control should be bilingual and the Hindi pages should also be compulsorily uploaded while updating the website.
Hindi Diwas is celebrated on 14th September to commemorate the date 14 September 1949 on which a compromise was reached—during the drafting of the Constitution of India—on the languages that were to have official status in the Republic of India.
News 5: Drop in health Spending
Government spending on health as a proportion of the total health expenditure in the country has been rising in recent years, even as the overall expenditure on health has declined, official data released this week show.
According to the National Health Accounts Estimates 2018-19, government spending as percentage of total health expenditure increased by more than 11 percentage points over the previous five years, from 23.2% in 2013-14 to 34.5% in 2018-19.
Findings of report:
One of the most important findings of the 2018-19 report is that government spending as proportion of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) went down to 1.28% from 1.35% in the previous year’s(2017-18) report.
The total health spending — which includes spending by both government and non-government agents — declined from 3.9% of the GDP to 3.2% in the five years up to 2018-19.
Out of pocket expenditure:
People paying for healthcare expenses out-of-pocket made up for 48.2% of the total health expenses in the year 2018-19, down from 48.8% in the previous year (2017-18).
The out-of-pocket expense has decreased substantially from the 62.6% recorded in 2014-15.
In 2017, India was in 66th position out of 189 countries, with $100.05 per capita out-of-pocket spending, according to data from the Global Health Expenditure Database.
Despite the drop in India, however, out-of-pocket expenditure for the year 2018-19 stood at 2.87 lakh crore, which was equivalent to 1.52% of the GDP for the year.
This means people spent much more than the government, with all its health schemes and new hospitals, spent on healthcare that year.
Current health expenditure:
The current health expenditure — not accounting for any expenses that can be utilised over a few years — stood at Rs 5.4 lakh crore, which was 90.6% of the total health expenditure.
The Centre’s share in the current health expenditure stood at 11.71%, state governments accounted for 19.63%, local bodies 1.01%, and households (including insurance contributions) 60.11% of the current health expenditure. The rest was accounted for by corporates (as insurance contributions), NGOs, and external or donor funding.
News 6: Tale of women workers: Rapid exit from workforce, sliding earnings
Oxfam India released the ‘India Discrimination Report’,which is based government data on employment and labour from 2004-05 to 2019-20.
The figures, according to the report, are based on data from the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
The report refers to unit level data from the 61st round of National Sample Survey on employment-unemployment (2004-05), the Periodic Labour Force Survey in 2018-19 and 2019-20, and the All-India Debt and Investment Survey by the Centre.
Findings of report:
The report noted that discrimination against women is so high that there is hardly any difference across religion or caste-based sub-groups, or the rural-urban divide.
It said all women, regardless of their socioeconomic location, are “highly discriminated”.
The report noted that while overall discrimination in wages for people from SC, ST and Muslims communities declined in regular/salaried jobs, it increased for women in this period — from 67.2% in 2004-05 to 75.7% in 2019-20.
Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR), or the proportion of working-age population that engages actively in labour market, either by working or looking for work, for women in India declined from 42.7% in 2004-05 to 25.1% in 2021, “showing withdrawal of women from the workforce despite rapid economic growth during the same period”.
In 2019-20, 60% of all males aged 15 and above had regular salaried or self-employed jobs; the rate for females was 19%.
News 7: TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India):
Jurisdiction: Ministry of Communication
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is a regulatory body set up by the Government of India under section 3 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997.
It is the regulator of the telecommunications sector in India.
Function and Mission:
To regulate telecom services, including fixation/revision of tariffs for telecom services which were earlier vested in the Central Government.
To create and nurture conditions for growth of telecommunications in the country in a manner and at a pace which will enable India to play a leading role in emerging global information society.
One of the main objectives of TRAI is to provide a fair and transparent policy environment which promotes a level playing field and facilitates fair competition.