Daily PT Capsule Jan 15

Daily PT Capsule UPSC Civil Services
Daily PT Capsule UPSC Civil Services

Funding for mapping drug resistant infections

The U.S. government’s Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), launched two years ago to contain the spread of new and emergent infections following the Ebola outbreak, has pumped in  $ 8 million to map the rising anti-microbial resistance in India and build capacities to tackle it better.

Titled ‘Capacity Building and strengthening of hospital infection control to detect and prevent anti-microbial resistance in India’, the project will be jointly executed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and the India office of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The project’s larger goal, however, is containing the spread of infections given the huge volume of traffic between India and the U.S., said observers.

The desired impact of the project includes.

  • Enhanced infection prevention and control to prevent the emergence and spread of anti-microbial resistance especially among drug resistant bacteria.
  • Strengthened surveillance and laboratory capacity
  • Uninterrupted access to essential anti-biotics of assured quality
  • Regulation and promotion of rational use of antibiotics in in human medicine and animal husbandry
  • Support to existing initiatives to foster innovation in science and technology for the development of new antimicrobial agents

Analysis: Antimicrobial resistance in India

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is when microbes are less treatable with one or more antimicrobial medications used to treat or prevent infection. Microbes which are resistant to multiple antimicrobials are called multidrug resistant (MDR); in the press, these organisms are often referred to as superbugs.

The rising trend in drug resistance can be attributed to three primary areas: use of antibiotics in the human population, use of antibiotics in the animal population, and the spread of resistant strains between human or non-human sources. Any use of antibiotics can increase selective pressure in a population of bacteria, causing vulnerable bacteria to die thereby increasing the relative numbers of resistant bacteria and allowing for further growth. The excessive use of antibiotics in India has led to the emergence of the drug resistant ‘superbug’. New resistant forms of existing infections like MDR-TB and XDR-TB are also the result of this indiscriminate use of antibiotics.

Chennai Declaration – A Roadmap to Tackle the Challenge of Antimicrobial Resistance – A Joint meeting of Medical Societies in India” was organized as a pre-conference symposium of the 2nd  annual conference of the Clinical Infectious Disease Society (CIDSCON 2012) at Chennai on 24th  August.

This was the first ever meeting of medical societies in India on issue of tackling resistance, with a plan to formulate a road map to tackle the global challenge of antimicrobial resistance from the Indian perspective. Some major recommendations made in the Declaration include

1) formulation of an effective national policy to control the rising trend of antimicrobial resistance,

2) a ban on the over-the-counter sale of antibiotics, and

3) changes in the medical education curriculum to include training on antibiotic usage and infection control.

4) setting up of a National Task Force to guide and supervise the regional and State infection control committees.

Source: The Hindu


Ponzi Scheme Investigated

The Central Bureau of Investigation has alleged that Pearls Group chief Nirmal Singh Bhangoo and his associates, who have been booked in connection with an alleged ponzi scam involving over Rs. 45,000 crore, own 66 office premises at Connaught Place, in the heart of the national capital.

The Supreme Court had last April ordered sale of all the assets of the Pearls Group of companies for paying back the dues to the investors. Accordingly, a special committee was set up to oversee the sale of the immovable assets and liquidation of fixed deposits of the companies for the purpose. In August 2014, the Securities and Exchange Board of India had directed the group companies to return the money to the investors, ordering immediate shutting down of their collective investment schemes.

Analysis: Collective Investment Schemes

A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation where the operator, an individual or organization, pays returns to its investors from new capital paid to the operators by new investors, rather than from profit earned by the operator. Operators of Ponzi schemes usually entice new investors by offering higher returns than other investments, in the form of short-term returns that are either abnormally high or unusually consistent. These schemes also take the form of Multi-level marketing schemes.

India has seen many such Ponzi schemes. A series of ponzi schemes, many of which were linked to plantation schemes, including teak plantations, promised investors very attractive returns. In one such scheme, a company called Anubhav Plantations promised high returns by planting teak on over 1,000 acres of land — drawing in investors who put in over Rs 400 crore. And as the funds swelled, the promoters of many of these schemes diverted the money and vanished, leaving investors holding worthless pieces of paper.

Sebi was mandated to regulate these collective investment schemes, or CIS, as they were called, regulations kicked in in 1999. Companies that had launched such schemes were told to register with the new regulator, or to repay their investors. By 1998-99, over 600 firms had collected over Rs 3,500 crore through collective investment schemes, according to Sebi’s estimate. But the problem persisted as many companies claimed that their schemes do not fall under the category of Collective Investment Schemes(CIS).

In 2013, it was déjà vu after thousands of investors lost money in the ponzi scheme floated by the Saradha group in West Bengal. Yet again, this was a case that was flagged earlier, but the crackdown didn’t happen until after multiple suicides by investors who had lost all their savings. This prompted the UPA government to introduce a law to empower Sebi to act against these companies. An ordinance was issued in July 2013, and re-issued in 2014 as the Securities Laws (Amendment) Bill 2013 couldn’t get approval initially. Sebi was then empowered to attach the assets of such companies, and also equipped with powers to order search-and-seizure operations. The bill was passed in August 2014. Any unregistered scheme with a capital of more than a ₹100 crore was deemed as a collective investment scheme, allowing SEBI to regulate it.

With these new set of regulations it is hoped that such Ponzi schemes will be on the decline.

Source: Indian Express

Stagflation Risk for the Economy

The latest data on Index of Industrial production shows a contraction in factory output in November along with increase in retail inflation.

In economics, stagflation, a portmanteau of stagnation and inflation, is a situation in which the inflation rate is high, the economic growth rate slows, and unemployment remains steadily high. It raises a dilemma for economic policy, since actions designed to lower inflation may exacerbate unemployment, and vice versa.


The reasons for the slump in industrial production, including the festival holidays, were broadly known, the magnitude of overall decline as well as the drops in specific industries are cause for concern. Both basic goods and capital goods – proxies for manufacturing and investment demand – contracted 0.7 per cent and 24.4 per cent, respectively.

The gathering consensus among economists is that, save a few bright spots like automobiles and consumer durables, demand is precariously placed. Two key drivers, the overseas export markets and the rural economy, are both facing independent challenges. Global trade growth has been becalmed by China’s slowdown and is now being roiled by the yuan’s depreciation, while back-to-back deficient monsoons have sapped rural consumption capacity. The economy’s momentum, thus, is threatened by the prospect of a sustained slowdown that may need to be countered urgently by corrective fiscal interventions. With the Consumer Price Index (CPI)-based reading rising for a fifth straight month in December to 5.6 per cent, the accelerating retail inflation could end up posing a significant risk, of combining with the faltering growth to produce stagflation.

Some economists, including the Chief Economic Adviser Dr. Arvind Subramanian, have mooted the idea of the government temporarily straying from its fiscal consolidation path in order to enable it to step up spending on infrastructure to pump prime the economy, especially given the low levels of private investment. Any additional public expenditure, when coupled with the increased payouts for salaries and pensions as part of the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission’s recommendations and the One Rank, One Pension scheme, will in turn fuel price pressures at the retail level and could complicate the Reserve Bank of India’s inflation targeting agenda and monetary policy calculus. While oil prices remain in free fall, offering succour, food prices continue to climb pushing food inflation to 6.4 per cent in December. And the outlook on that front is hardly reassuring, with reports that unseasonal weather conditions including an El Nino-induced milder winter could lead to the rabi crop yield ending up well below expectations in several regions. With the RBI’s bi-monthly monetary policy and the annual Central budget set to bookend February, all eyes will be on the next set of monthly IIP and inflation data to see if the price gains will plateau, as the central bank had predicted in December, or continue to trend up, and whether output growth recovers or not.

Source: The Hindu





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