31 lakh get vaccine: Centre flags hesitancy, asks state to engage

Paper:

Mains: G.S. I & II Social Issues & Polity and Governance

Why in news?

While the Health Ministry cited a provisional report to state that 6,31,417 healthcare workers have been vaccinated so far across 11,660 sessions, Dr V K Paul said that vaccine hesitancy has to extinguish before the pandemic extinguishes.

Key details

  • India’s COVID vaccination programme crossed the 5-lakh mark on the fourth day with the Centre urging states to address “vaccine hesitancy” among some in the priority group, and indicating that the drive will soon be extended to the larger population.
  • In India, the vaccine is being prioritised for health care and frontline workers. However, despite that, some of them are hesitant to take it, particularly the doctors and nurses, it is disappointing.
  • No one know what turn the pandemic will take; we have to start our non-Covid services.
  • In a few days, India has planned to vaccinate all its health care workers. It is not right to have any confusion, the vaccine hesitancy among the health care workers should end.
  • Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said states have been directed to engage with beneficiaries. Vaccine hesitancy is something that has been there in all countries. It has nothing to do with only Covid-19. Probably, the degree would be more in Covid-19 because it is a new disease and new vaccine. We have seen this in polio, measles, mumps…The only way of addressing it is by engaging repeatedly with the beneficiary groups, and trying to address their doubts and confusions. That is our advice to all state governments.
  • According to the Health Ministry, only nine adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) that required hospitalisation have been recorded so far.
  • Only in 0.18 per cent, minor adverse events following immunization have been reported in India. And 0.002 percent of them required hospitalisation following immunization. This is in fact the lowest, so far in the world.
  • It is sheer luck that we started the vaccination drive when our pandemic curve is under control; our health system has space to breathe. In this period, we have to push and vaccinate as many as possible and aim towards vaccine-induced herd immunity.

Too big to fail list: SBI, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank remain

Paper:

Mains: G.S. III Banking

Why in news?

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said state-owned SBI, along with private sector lenders ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank continue to be domestic systemically important banks (D-SIBs) or institutions which are ‘too big to fail’.

Key details

  • The D-SIB framework requires the Reserve Bank to disclose the names of banks designated as D-SIBs starting from 2015 and place these banks in appropriate buckets depending upon their systemic importance scores (SISs).
  • According to analysts, too big to fail is a phrase used to describe a bank or company that’s so entwined in the economy that its failure would be catastrophic.
  • In case a foreign bank having branch presence in India is a global systemically important bank (G-SIB), it has to maintain additional Common Equity Tier-1, CET1 capital surcharge in India as applicable to it as a G-SIB, proportionate to its risk weighted assets (RWAs) in India — additional CET1 buffer prescribed by the home regulator multiplied by India RWA as per consolidated global group books divided by total consolidated global group RWA.
  • Too-big-to-fail’ lenders are banks whose failure could impact the financial system as a whole because of their size and interconnectedness. This list is published every year.
  • According to the RBI, some banks become systemically important due to their size, cross-jurisdictional activities, complexity and lack of substitute and interconnection. Banks whose assets exceed 2% of GDP are considered part of this group.
  • The too-big-to-fail tag also indicates that in case of distress, the government is expected to support these banks. Due to this perception, these banks enjoy certain advantages in funding. It also means that these banks have a different set of policy measures regarding systemic risks and moral hazard issues.

SC panel lays out roadmap on farmers’ issue

Paper:

Mains: G.S. I, II & III Social Issues, Polity and Governance Justice and Issues related to agriculture

Why in news?

The panel has laid out a two moth roadmap for consultations.

Key details

  • The Supreme Court-appointed committee on farmers’ issues has decided to meet with State governments and State Agricultural Marketing Boards along with farm unions and cooperatives to seek their views on the farm reform laws.
  • The SC-appointed panel began work on Tuesday, chalking out a plan to hold wide-ranging consultations on the contentious farm laws, including a proposal to set up a portal to accept online feedback.
  • One of the panel member has said that our mandate is only to meet with all those who are affected by the three laws… all farmers, aggrieved or non-aggrieved, happy or neutral, central as well as State governments, State marketing boards, farmer producer organisations, cooperatives, self-help groups.
  • For those who cannot come to Delhi, consultations will be held over online platforms such as Zoom. A website is also being set up to invite views from any other interested parties who have relevant feedback on the laws.
  • The protesting unions have made it clear they are not interested in engaging with the panel, but are intent on continuing with the direct dialogue process with the Centre.
  • The apex court had constituted a four-member committee on January 11 after staying the implementation of the new farm laws, which had led to protests by thousands of farmers across Delhi borders since November.

India to fly out vaccines to neighbours

Paper:

Mains: G.S. II Polity and Governance, International Relations

Why in news?

As India emerges as a major provider of vaccines in the neighbourhood, from Nepal and Bangladesh to Sri Lanka and Myanmar, India is in talks to supply vaccines.

Key details

  • India will begin to ship out lakhs of doses of the novel coronavirus vaccine to neighbouring countries, with the first batches expected to reach Bhutan and the Maldives among several countries by special planes as a grant or gift.
  • The release of the shipments is part of the government’s “Neighbourhood First” initiative, and will make India the first country to reach COVID-19 vaccines in South Asia, ahead of China which has promised but not so far delivered, and the World Health Organisation and GAVI’s vaccine alliance programme.
  • The region’s preference for Indian vaccines, including the Covishield from the Serum Institute of India (SII) developed with Oxford University and Astra Zeneca, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, is based on the cost, easier storage requirements and geographical proximity.
  • Pakistan has neither requested nor is India discussing supplies to it at present.
  • Bhutan would receive the first shipment of 1,50,000 Covishield vaccines on Wednesday morning. The government hopes to ship about 1 million doses to Thimphu, the country it shares the closest ties with in the neighbourhood.
  • Maldives is due to receive its first shipment with about 1,00,000 doses meant to reach Male’s Velana international airport by an Air India flight. Sources said India hoped to send more vaccines at a later date.
  • Bangladesh’s Health and Family Welfare Ministry announced that Dhaka would also receive a batch of 20 lakh doses of Covishield, as part of a “friendly gesture”.
  • The only exception to India’s regional vaccine diplomacy would be Pakistan, which has cleared the Astra Zeneca vaccine for use, but has neither requested nor discussed any doses from India yet.

Netaji’s birth anniversary to be celebrated as Parakram Diwas (Prelims Titbit)

Paper:

Mains: G.S. I History of India and Indian Freedom Fighters

Why in news?

Union Culture Ministry announced January 23, birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose as Parakram Diwas, day of courage.

Key details

  • Born to advocate Janakinath Bose in Odisha’s Cuttack on January 23, 1897, Netaji played a crucial role in India’s freedom movement.
  • Subhash Chandra Bose had also established the Azad Hind Fauj.
  • While there is controversy over Bose’s death in a plane crash in Taipei on August 18, 1945, the Central government had in an RTI in 2017 confirmed that he had died in the incident.
  • To honour his “selfless service” to the nation, India will celebrate Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s birth anniversary, falling on January 23, as “Parakram Diwas”.