The National Housing Bank recently launched the “Special Refinance Facility”, 2021. Rs 10,00 crores has been allocated to this facility.
The National Housing Bank has launched the initiative with the support from Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The RBI had recently announced under its Monetary Policy Review that Special Liquidity Facility-2 of Rs 10,000 crores will be allocated to National Housing Board for one year. This was done to support the housing sector. The NHB has now launched the refinancing facility based on this allocation made by the Reserve Bank.
The Special Refinance Facility is provided by the Reserve Bank of India under Section 17 (3) of Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. Basically, the Section 17 defines how the apex bank shall conduct its business.
The Section allows the RBI to perform the following functions:
The Government of India recently announced that it is fully prepared to implement mandatory hallmarking of gold artefacts and jewellery from June 1, 2021. Currently, Gold Hallmarking is voluntary in the country.
The International Monetary Fund recently released its World Economic Outlook report. Under its report, IMF has downgraded the forecasts for the South East Asian economies. On the other hand, it has been more optimistic about Asia-Pacific and Global economies.
According to IMF, China is to grow by 8.4% in 2021. Earlier, IMF had predicted that China will grow by 8.1%.
According to IMF, India is to grow by 12.5% in 2021. Earlier, the international organisation had predicted that India will grow by 11.5%. However, the current COVID-19 wave in India might hinder its growth. This double mutant variety is bringing back lock down in several states of the country. India is now the second largest COVID-19 affected country in the world.
The IMF has projected that the global economy is to grow by 5.5% in 2021 and 4.2% in 2022. The oil prices have increased by 20% in 2021 as compared to 2020 globally. Also, non-oil commodity prices are expected to increase, especially, in metals.
Apart from World Economic outlook, the IMF also generates Global Financial Stability Report.
The Government of India recently announced that it is speeding up the Emergency Usage Approvals of foreign made COVID-19 vaccines. This includes COVID-19 vaccines that have been granted Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) in other countries.
The foreign vaccines for EUA were recommended by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC).
India is fast tracking the EUA of foreign COVID-19 vaccines to expand the basket of vaccines for domestic use. This will speed up the pace and coverage of vaccination in the country. It selected those vaccines that received EUA from USFDA, PMDA of Japan, MHRA of UK and also those listed in World Health Organisation’s Emergency Use Listing.
The first hundred beneficiaries of the foreign vaccines are to be assessed for seven days for safety outcomes.
India is the second most COVID-19 affected country in the world. India overtook Brazil to reach the second position. US is still the most COVID-19 affected country in the world.
Currently India has provided Emergency Use authorisation for three vaccines namely COVAXIN, SPUTNIK V and COVISHIELD. The COVAXIN is produced by Bharat Biotech of Hyderabad along with the Indian Council of Medical Research. The COVISHIELD is produced by the Serum Institute of India. The SPUTNIK V is a Russian vaccine.
Recently, the SPUTNIK V received EUA. The Dr Reddy’s Laboratories will import the vaccine from Russia to be used in India.
The Ministry of Chemical and Fertilizers recently approved sixteen applicants under Production Linked Incentive scheme. The approvals will promote domestic manufacturing of drug intermediates and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients in the country.
The approved applicants will set up pharmaceutical manufacturing plants in the country. They will invest around Rs 348 crores in establishing these units. These plants are expected to create employment for more than 3,042 people. The operation of these plants is expected to commence from April 2023.
The Indian Pharmaceutical industry is the third largest in the world. The markets for Indian pharmaceuticals are good in advanced economies such as European Union and the United States. Also, the Indian Pharmaceutical industry is well known for producing affordable medicines.
The only issue is that the Indian pharmaceutical industry is heavily dependent on foreign countries, especially China, for its Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients. The launch of these sixteen plants will reduce dependence of India over foreign countries.
The Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients are the same as that of the bulk drugs. India was actually self- reliant in API in 1990s. However, with cheaper products China captured the Indian pharmaceutical markets in foreign countries. China created an unbeatable low-cost API manufacturing industry. This was mainly through tax incentives and aggressive government funding. The cost of operation of Chinese Pharmaceutical companies is one-fourth the Indian cost!
Thus, it is important for India to push in more funds in the pharmaceutical industry and recapture the lost markets.
In 2018-19, GoI imported 2.4 billion USD worth API from China. However, due to COVID-19, India was force to stop these imports. This affected the Indian Pharmaceutical companies very badly. Therefore, Government of India is now implementing alternative route of domestic production of APIs.
The National Institute of Urban Affairs recently launched the Infant Toddler and Caregiver friendly Neighbourhoods Training and Capacity Building Programme. The Institute is partnered by Bernard van Leer Foundation in implementing the programme.
The National Institute of Urban Affairs was established in 1976. The institute was established for capacity building for the urban sector in India.
The main aim of the platform is to empower the functionaries, elected representatives, administrators, industry actors, civil society and other ecosystem players to build smart, resilient, sustainable cities. Making cities resilient has been included in United Nations sustainable Development Goal (SDG) as well.
United Nations SDG 11 says “Make cities inclusive, resilient, safe and sustainable”.
As more people move towards cities from their home town, the joint family culture is getting dissolved. Thus, the need for day care is increasing in India.
NITI Aayog recently launched Poshan Gyan along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Centre for Social and Behaviour Change, Ashoka University. Poshan Gyan is a National Digital Repository on health and nutrition.
In Global Hunger Index, 2020, India ranked 94th out of 107 countries. This says that India is suffering from serious hunger problems. Also, in India, only a tenth of children between 6 and 23 months are fed with minimum acceptable diet.
On April 14, 2021, the Bohag Bihu Bird count began in Assam. The Bohag Bihu Bird count was launched by Bird Count of India (BCI). The BCI is a Non-Governmental Organisation. This is the first time BCI is launching Bohag Bihu bird count.
Bohag Bihu is also called Xaat Bihu. It is the traditional ethnic festival celebrated in Assam. It marks the beginning of Assamese new year. Bohag is first month of Assamese calendar. The onset of Bohag marks the starting of Rongali Bihu. Rongali Bihu is one of the three most important festivals of Assam. The other two festivals are Kati Bihu and Kongali Bihu.
During Rongali Bihu, many migratory species of birds that visited Assam and its surrounding regions during winter start flying back to their homes.
It is highly important to organise such bird counts as the birds in India are facing growing threats due to habitat losses. According to State of India’s Birds, 2020, the loss of habitat is mainly due to human activities, toxins, hunting and trapping for pet trade.
The following are the key findings of State of Birds report, 2020:
Month: Current Affairs - April, 2021
Category: Environment Current Affairs • Important Days & Events Current Affairs
Topics: Assam • Bird Count of India • Bohag Bihu • Festival • North East • State of Birds report
Current Affairs MCQs PDF - August, 2021
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