Finance Commission Holds Meeting With The Ministry Of Health And Family Welfare
The 15th Finance Commission on July 13 held a meeting with the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan and senior officials of Health Ministry on the specific issues of :
- Revising the State Specific proposals of the Mnistry in light of the COVID-19 experience.
- Exploring the possibility of back loading in the light of fiscal strain
- Consideration of the suggestions of the High Level Group of the XVFC on health by the Ministry.
The Ministry in a detailed presentation to the Commission highlighted the National Health Policy (NHP) 2017 targets which include:
- Increase public health expenditure to 2.5% of GDP, in a progressive manner, by 2025.
- Primary Health Expenditure to be 2/3rd of the total health expenditure
- Increase State sector health spending to more than 8% of their budget by 2020.
Important Observation by Health Ministry
- The Ministry pointed out that presently 35% of the public health expenditure is done by the Central Govt. and 65% by the State Governments.
- The pandemic has established the importance of the need to strengthen the public health sector, surveillance and public health management, preventive and promotive health care with special focus on urban health.
- The Ministry also felt that there was a need to increase the allocation of MoHFW on year to year basis.
Proposals by DoHFW
The DoHFW has proposed for enhanced state specific grants in the following manner –
For untied funds:
- Minimum 10% of fund to be earmarked for the health sector with at-least 2/3rd being reserved for the primary health
- Gaps in funding for Primary Health Care in States to be used as a criteria – will help States that have significant funding needs and health lag, to get more funds & prioritize spending on health
For performance based incentives:
- Composite Health Index to be utilized to encourage states to demonstrate performance on year on year basis –should have a weightage of 20% in the performance linked pool
- The Ministry has submitted a revised proposal for fund requirement to the Finance Commission. It has identified new areas on which support of the XVFC is required which include –
- New areas for support – Urban Health, Essential medicines, Starting DNB courses and Post-COVID health sector reforms
- Due consideration on recommendations of the High Level Group (HLG)
Partial back-loading of funds
Fund requirement revised from ₹ 4.99 lakh Cr to ₹ 6.04 lakh Cr for the period of the award of the XVFC ie 2021-22 to 2025-26.
The Ministry after giving due consideration to the recommendations of the High Level Group of the XVFC on Health, and after partial back loading of the funds have prepared a revised requirement of Rs. 6.04 lakh crores from the earlier requirement of Rs. 4.99 lakh crores.
The Ministry has thus asked for additional resources to the tune of 0.4 percent of GDP per annum to the States which they felt would lead to significant progress towards achievement of the National Health Policy target.
The key elements of enhanced support identified by the Ministry were –
- Set up Medical Colleges(MCs) attached with District Hospitals(DHs)
- Training of 1.5Mn Skilled workforce in Allied Healthcare
- Start Super Speciality Blocks (SSBs) under PMSSY
- Health System Strengthening including Primary Healthcare.
The Commission noted all the points highlighted by the Minister and the Ministry and agreed that there was a need to increase public sector health outlay and also to develop a professional cadre of health workers. There was also requirement for higher and continuing engagement of the States and the 3rd tier for this purpose. The Commission assured that it would not be found wanting in giving serious consideration to all the issues raised in today’s meeting.
Indian Railways on MISSION MODE of becoming a “Green Railway” by 2030
Ministry of Railways, with a goal of transforming Indian Railways into Green Railways by 2030 has taken a number of major initiatives towards mitigation of global warming and combating climate change.
- Railway Electrification, improving energy efficiency of locomotives & trains and fixed installations, green certification for installations/stations, fitting bio toilets in coaches and switching to renewable sources of energy are parts of its strategy of achieving net zero carbon emission.
- Indian Railways has completed electrification of more than 40,000 Route km (RKM) (63% of BG routes) in which 18,605 km electrification work has been done during 2014-20.
- Previously, only 3,835 km electrification work was completed during the period 2009-14. Indian Railways has fixed a target of electrification of 7000 RKM for the year 2020-21.
- All routes on BG network have been planned to be electrified by December 2023.
- Indian Railways is focusing on electrification of last mile connectivity & missing links. With this in mind 365 km major connectivity work has been commissioned during COVID period.
- Indian Railways has also taken a number of initiatives to promote solar energy. Indian Railways is working to harness the potential of 500 Mega Watt (MW) energy through roof top Solar panels (Developer model).
- Till date, 100 Mega Watt (MW) of solar plants have been commissioned on roof-tops of various buildings including 900 stations. Solar plants with a combined capacity of 400 MW are under different stages of execution.
- Tenders are already awarded for 245 MW and target for completion of these plants is December 2022.
PRAGYATA Guidelines on Digital Education
Union Human Resource Development Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ released PRAGYATA Guidelines on Digital Education through online medium in New Delhi on July 14.
- PRAGYATA guidelines have been developed from the perspective of learners, with a focus on online/blended/digital education for students who are presently at home due to lockdown.
- These guidelines on Digital/ Online Education provide a roadmap or pointers for carrying forward online education to enhance the quality of education.
- The guidelines stress upon the use of alternative academic calendar of NCERT, for both, learners having access to digital devices and learners having limited or no access.
- The PRAGYATA guidelines include eight steps of online/ digital learning that is, Plan- Review- Arrange- Guide- Yak(talk)- Assign- Track- Appreciate. These steps guide the planning and implementation of digital education step by step with examples.
Low-cost Supercapacitor From Industrial Waste Cotton & Natural Seawater Electrolyte Can Help Energy Storage
Scientists at the International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI), an autonomous organization of the Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India have developed a simple, low-cost, environmentally friendly, and sustainable supercapacitor electrode derived from industrial waste cotton which can be used as an energy harvester storage device.
- For the first time, natural seawater is explored as an environmentally friendly, cost-effective, scalable, and alternative aqueous electrolyte, which may replace the existing aqueous-based electrolytes for the economic fabrication of supercapacitor.
- Supercapacitor is a next-generation energy storage device that has received extensive research attention owing to advantages such as high power density, long durability, and ultrafast charging characteristic as compared to conventional capacitors and lithium-ion batteries (LIB).
- Among the four main components of supercapacitor electrode, electrolyte, separator, and the current collector, the first two are the pivotal components, which directly determine the electrochemical behaviour of the supercapacitors. The fabrication cost of electrode materials, as well as electrolytes, should be reduced because these two components account for major portion of the device manufacturing cost.