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Current Affairs 12 January 2022 for UPSC Exam | Legacy IAS

Contents

  1. BrahMos supersonic cruise missile
  2. NATO
  3. India – South Korea Trade Talks
  4. Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana

 

BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile

Context:

An extended range sea-to-sea variant of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was test fired from the recently commissioned stealth guided missile destroyer INSVisakhapatnam.

Relevance

 GS-III Internal Security Challenges, Science and Technology

Dimensions:
  1. About BrahMos supersonic cruise missile
  2. About Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)

About BrahMos supersonic cruise missile

  • The BrahMos is a medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarine, ships, aircraft, or land.
  • It is the fastest supersonic cruise missile in the world.
  • BRAHMOS is a joint venture between the Defence Research and Development Organisation of India (DRDO) and the NPOM of Russia.
  • Brahmos is named on the rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva.
  • It is a two-stage (solid propellant engine in the first stage and liquid ramjet in second) air to surface missile with a flight range of around 300 km.
  • However, India’s entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) has extended the range of the BRAHMOS missile to reach 450 km-600km, a shade above its current MTCR capped range of 300 km.
  • Brahmos is a multiplatform i.e., it can be launched from land, air, and sea and multi capability missile with pinpoint accuracy that works in both day and night irrespective of the weather conditions.
  • It operates on the “Fire and Forgets” principle i.e., it does not require further guidance after launch.
  • Brahmos is one of the fastest cruise missiles currently operationally deployed with speed of Mach 2.8, which is 3 times more than the speed of sound.

About Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)

  • The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is an agency of the Government of India, charged with the military’s research and development.
  • It is headquartered in Delhi, India and has its 50+ labs all across the country.
  • It was formed in 1958.
  • It is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence, Government of India.
  • With a network of 52 laboratories, which are engaged in developing defence technologies covering various fields, like aeronautics, armaments, electronics, land combat engineering, life sciences, materials, missiles, and naval systems, DRDO is India’s largest and most diverse research organisation.
Objectives of DRDO
  • Design, develop and lead to production state-of-the-art sensors, weapon systems, platforms and allied equipment for our Defence Services.
  • Provide technological solutions to the Services to optimise combat effectiveness and to promote well-being of the troops.
  • Develop infrastructure and committed quality manpower and build strong indigenous technology base.
Issues with DRDO:
  • Inadequate Budgetary Support
  • It also suffers from inadequate manpower in critical areas to the lack of proper synergy with the armed forces.
  • Cost escalation and long delays have damaged the reputation of DRDO.
  • DRDO is big on promise and small on delivery. There is no accountability. Nobody is taken to task for time and cost overruns.
  • Equipments are obsolete and is just tinkering with World War II equipment instead of working on cutting-edge technology.

-Source: The Hindu


NATO

Context:

Moscow said that ties between Russia and NATO had reached a “moment of truth” ahead of high-stakes talks over Ukraine and security demands from the Kremlin.

  • Moscow has demanded wide-ranging concessions from Washington and its NATO allies, which in turn have threatened severe sanctions for any attack.
Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important International Groupings)

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. About NATO
  2. Major pointers regarding NATO
  3. India and NATO – Non-NATO Ally Status
  4. About the recent tussle over Ukraine joining NATO

About NATO

  • The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is an international organisation for collective security by the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union in 1949, in support of the North Atlantic Treaty signed in Washington.
  • NATO’s Headquarters are located in Evere, Brussels, Belgium.
  • Since its founding, the admission of new member states has increased the alliance from the original 12 countries to 30 member states with North Macedonia being the most recent member state to be added to NATO in March 2020.
  • An additional 20 countries participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programs.

Major pointers regarding NATO

  • A key provision of the treaty, the so-called Article 5, states that if one member of the alliance is attacked in Europe or North America, it is to be considered an attack on all members. That effectively put Western Europe under the “nuclear umbrella” of the US.
  • From a political perspective: NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.
  • The North Atlantic Council (NAC) is the body which has effective governance authority and powers of decision in NATO, consisting of member states’ permanent representatives or representatives at higher level (ministers of foreign affairs or defence, or heads of state or government).
  • All 30 allies have an equal say, the Alliance’s decisions must be unanimous and consensual, and its members must respect the basic values that underpin the Alliance, namely democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.
  • NATO has an integrated military command structure but very few forces or assets are exclusively its own. Most forces remain under full national command and control until member countries agree to undertake NATO-related tasks.

India and NATO – Non-NATO Ally Status

  • Non-NATO Ally Status is a designation given by the United States government to close allies that have strategic working relationships with the US Armed Forces but are not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • While the status does not automatically include a mutual defense pact with the United States, it still confers a variety of military and financial advantages that otherwise are not obtainable by non-NATO countries.
  • The move brings India on par with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies and countries such as Israel and South Korea for increasing defence cooperation.
  • Increased cooperation between the United States and India in the areas of humanitarian assistance, counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and maritime security in the Indian Ocean.

Tensions over Russian border build-up

  • Russia is believed to have amassed a large number of troops along the Russian border with the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. The Donbas region is a conflict zone where Ukraine has been battling Russia-backed separatists.
  • Russia has claimed that this action is in response to the steady eastward expansion of the U.S.-led North Atlantic Organisation (NATO), gradual expansion of military aid pouring into Ukraine from NATO member countries and Ukraine’s recent statement over the Crimea issue.
  • Russia along its western borders is in close proximity with NATO states like Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania. Even former constituents of the erstwhile Soviet Union such as Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia have become NATO members. Georgia and Ukraine are also aspiring to become members of NATO. Ever since Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 and war broke out in eastern Ukraine a month after, bilateral relations between the two countries have been fraught.
  • Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of preparing for an invasion. The U.S. has warned that any such move from Russia would invite some counteraction from it. Russia has, in turn, accused the West of ‘anti-Russia’ hysteria.
  • Tensions have been escalating along the volatile Russia-Ukraine border.

About the recent tussle over Ukraine joining NATO

  • The Russian Foreign Minister told the U.S. diplomatic chief that Moscow wanted a legally binding promise that Ukraine would not be allowed to join NATO and that the bloc would stop its eastward expansion, Moscow said.
  • Russia said that such a move to expand the NATO would force them to take retaliatory measures to straighten out the military-strategic balance.
  • The remarks by Mr. Lavrov came on a day the Kremlin said that Ukraine’s stated goal of retaking Crimea — which Moscow seized in 2014 — amounted to a “direct threat” to Russia.
  • Ukrainian President had said that Crimea was Ukrainian territory and Kiev’s goal was to “liberate” it.
  • Kiev and its Western allies have been sounding the alarm since last month over a fresh Russian troop build-up around Ukraine’s borders and a possible winter invasion. Moscow, which is accused of backing the separatists fighting Kiev, has denied preparing an attack and accuses NATO of raising the temperature.

-Source: The Hindu


India – South Korea Trade Talks

Context:

India and South Korea held discussions on bilateral trade and agreed to fast track negotiations to upgrade the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

Relevance:

GS II- International Relations

Dimensions:
  1. Highlights of the discussion:
  2. About India’s CEPA agreements
  3. Difference between CECA and CEPA –
  4. About Foot and Mouth Disease
  5. India–South Korea relations

Highlights of the discussion:

  • The Indian side highlighted the difficulties the bovine meat exports are facing in South Korea.
  • The two Ministers agreed with the spirit of openness to address difficulties expressed by industry from both sides and instructed their respective negotiating teams to meet on a regular basis to conclude the CEPA upgradation process negotiations as soon as possible in a time-bound manner
  • New Delhi had put in a request to Seoul to provide market access for bovine meat in 2019 which was renewed in 2021. But it appears that South Korea has been insisting that India should get a clearance from the World Organisation for Animal Health.
  • However, the Indian side has said the meat is being exported to several countries and there are no complaints regarding the foot-and-mouth disease from them.

About India’s CEPA agreements

  • India has signed CEPAs with South Korea and Japan and the one in negotiation with UAE  is expected to increase bilateral trade in goods to USD 100 billion within five years of the signed agreement and increase trade in services to USD 15 billion, leading to wider social and economic opportunities in both nations.
  • CEPAs are a kind of free trade pacts but these agreements or cooperation agreements are more comprehensive than Free Trade Agreements.
  • CEPA usually covers negotiation on the trade in services and investment, and other areas of economic partnership. It may even consider negotiation on areas such as trade facilitation and customs cooperation, competition, and Intellectual Property Rights. It also looks into the regulatory aspect of trade and encompasses an agreement covering the regulatory issues.

Difference between CECA and CEPA

  • CECA – Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement
  • CEPA – Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement
  • The major “technical” difference between a CECA and CEPA is that CECA involve only “tariff reduction/elimination in a phased manner on listed/all items except the negative list and tariff rate quota (TRQ) items. CEPA also covers the trade in services and investment and other areas of economic partnership”.
  • Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement is a wider term than Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and has the widest coverage.
About Foot and Mouth Disease and Brucellosis
  • Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a severe, highly contagious viral disease of livestock that has a significant economic impact.
  • The disease affects cattle, swine, sheep, goats and other cloven-hoofed ruminants.
  • FMD virus belongs to (risk group 4 as per World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)) Aphthovirus genus of the picornaviridae family.
  • FMD can spread when infected animals bring the virus into physical contact with susceptible animals.
  • Virus contaminated facilities, contaminated vehicles, raw or improperly cooked garbage containing infected meat or animal products can also spread the virus of FMD.
  • In rare cases, humans are also susceptible.

India–South Korea relations

  • Formal establishment of diplomatic ties between India and South Korea occurred in 1970s, and since then several trade agreements have been reached.
  • Trade between the two nations has increased exponentially from $ 530 Million in 1990s to $ 17.6 Billion in 2010s.
  • The Indian Community in Korea is estimated to number 8,000, including businesspeople, IT professionals, scientists, research fellows, students etc.
  • South Korea is currently the fifth largest source of investment in India.
  • Korean companies such as LG and Samsung have established manufacturing and service facilities in India.
  • Several Korean construction companies won grants for a portion of the many infrastructural building plans in India, such as the National Highways Development Project.

-Source: The Hindu


Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana

Context:

Almost 90% of COVID-19 hospitalisations under the scheme took place in only 4 states.

Relevance

GS II- Health

Dimensions:
  1. About Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY)
  2. About the National Health Authority (NHA)
  3. How state delay, private sector disinterest caused PM-JAY to fail

About Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY)

  • Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme having central sector component under Ayushman Bharat Mission anchored in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
  • It is an umbrella of two major health initiatives, namely Health and wellness Centres and National  Health Protection Scheme.
  • The PM Jan Arogya Yojana beneficiaries get an e-card that can be used to avail services at an empanelled hospital, public or private, anywhere in the country, with which they can walk into a hospital and obtain cashless treatment.
  • The scheme has certain pre-conditions by which it picks who can avail of the health cover benefit. While in the rural areas the list is mostly categorized on lack of housing, meagre income and other deprivations, the urban list of PMJAY beneficiaries is drawn up on the basis of occupation.
  • AB PM-JAY is the flagship scheme of the Union government as a part of the Indian government’s National Health Policy.
National Health Protection Mission (AB-PMJAY)
  • AB-PMJAY provides a defined insurance benefit cover of Rs. 5 lakh per family per year. This cover will take care of almost all secondary care and most of tertiary care procedures.
  • To ensure that nobody is left out (especially women, children and elderly) there will be no cap on family size and age in the scheme.
  • The beneficiaries can avail benefits in both public and empanelled private facilities. All public hospitals in the States implementing AB-PMJAY, will be deemed empanelled for the Scheme.
  • Benefits of the scheme are portable across the country and a beneficiary covered under the scheme will be allowed to take cashless benefits from any public/private empanelled hospitals across the country.
  • To control costs, the payments for treatment will be done on package rate (to be defined by the Government in advance) basis.
Health and Wellness Centres (AB-PMJAY)
  • Under this 1.5 lakh existing sub centres will bring health care system closer to the homes of people in the form of Health and wellness centres.
  • These centres will provide comprehensive health care, including for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services.
About the National Health Authority (NHA)
  • National Health Authority (NHA) is the apex body responsible for implementing India’s flagship public health insurance/assurance scheme called “Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana”.
  • The NHA been entrusted with the role of designing strategy, building technological infrastructure and implementation of “Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission” to create a National Digital Health Eco-system.
  • National Health Authority (2019) is the successor of the National Health Agency, which was functioning as a registered society since 2018 (Not a Statutory body).
  • NHA has been set-up to implement PM-JAY, as it is popularly known, at the national level.
  • NHA is an attached office of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with full functional autonomy.
  • NHA is also leading the implementation for Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission ABDM in coordination with different ministries/departments of the Government of India, State Governments, and private sector/civil society organizations.
  • NHA is governed by a Governing Board chaired by the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare and it is headed by a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), an officer of the rank of Secretary to the Government of India, who manages its affairs.

How state delay, private sector disinterest caused PM-JAY to fail?

  • The scheme’s failure during the pandemic was expected. Since health is a state subject and PM-JAY is implemented by the state governments, several of them delayed in including COVID-19 under the scheme. 
  • For example, Madhya Pradesh formally included COVID-19 treatment under the scheme as late as May 7, 2021, when the second wave was at its peak. A similar lapse was also reported in Telangana.
  • Another major reason was that the private sector hospitals were not engaging in the full capacity in the initial months of the pandemic.
  • Hospitals were not providing corona-related treatment in a full-fledged manner. Especially in the first wave, only the public sector was taking care of COVID-19.
  • In many cases hospitals denied treatment because they weren’t getting proper reimbursement from the government under PM-JAY. 
  • The reason private hospitals avoid treating patients under PM-JAY is because it is not profitable. “For instance, private hospitals usually charge Rs 12,000 for a bone fracture treatment. Under PM-JAY, they receive Rs 4,000 for the same treatment.” 
Way forward:
  • PM-JAY is more of a discount that patients get and not free cashless treatment, which is the basic premise on which it was launched
  • People’s out-of-pocket expenditure has not decreased under PM-JAY, because private hospitals are mainly in urban areas and most people who use the scheme are from rural or peri-urban areas.
  • Yet, during the allocation of the Union health budget, we have seen that the government continues to prioritise PM-JAY at the cost of other health programmes, such as disease control programmes and child health programmes 
  • What’s worse, 75-80 per cent of the budget meant for PM-JAY gets diverted to private hospitals. This money could easily have been diverted to the public healthcare sector to improve its services.
  •  After all, it’s the public sector that has been mainly catering to COVID-19 patients, especially those from the poor economic sections.. 

-Source: Down to Earth


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