Daily Current Affairs : 27th August 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Draft Health Data Management Policy of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)
  2. Panel to review charter of DRDO labs
  3. Parliamentary Committees
  4. India risks stagnation
  5. Export Preparedness Index 2020
  6. RBI Contingency Fund
  7. Facts for Prelims

1 . Draft Health Data Management Policy of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)

Context: The National Health Authority (NHA) has released the draft Health Data Management Policy of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) in the public domain.

About Health Data Management Policy of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)

  • Health Data Management Policy is a policy which will look into data safety measures as part of India’s attempt to digitise its healthcare system. For example the policy will provide how patient information will be collected, processed and managed under the National Digital Health Mission’s (NDHM) digital health IDs.
  • The draft is the maiden step in realising the NDHM’s guiding principle of ‘Security and Privacy by Design’ for the protection of individuals’ data privacy.
  • It encompasses various aspects pertaining to health data such as data privacy, consent management, data sharing and protection etc.”

Main objectives of the Draft

  • Main objectives of the draft policy is to provide adequate guidance and to set out a framework for the secure processing of personal and sensitive personal data of individuals who are a part of the national digital health ecosystem.
  • This will be in compliance with all applicable laws and international standards that define the set of frameworks of consent for the collection and processing of health data by healthcare practitioners and other entities and other relevant standards related to data interoperability and data sharing

Details of the Draft

  • The policy, which comes in the absence of clear data protection and security laws, draws from existing and proposed legislation to propose a framework that would safeguard patient information.
  • The draft states that patients who opt for the health ID will be given “complete control” and decision making power over the manner in which their personal data and any sensitive data associated with them is collected and processed. They will also be allowed to withdraw their consent “at any time”.
  • Those processing the data, including health information providers and health information users, are expected to formulate and implement a “personal data breach management mechanism”. This is to ensure that any instances of violations and non-compliance, including any unauthorised or accidental disclosure, sharing, alteration or use of the personal data, are “promptly” reported to the NHA and other relevant entities.
  • The NHA, on its part, shall formulate and implement procedures to “identify, track, review and investigate” such incidents and will maintain a record of these instances along with the action taken. Without prejudice to the foregoing, in the event of any incident of data breach, the person responsible for such breach shall be liable in accordance with the provisions of applicable law,” .

Benefits of the Health Data Management Policy

  • It will help in ensuring strong privacy of healthcare data
  • It will aware people about the importance of data privacy and instil a privacy-orientated mindset among all stakeholders and participants.
  • It will significantly improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of healthcare services in the country.


  • The NDHM was announced on the occasion of the 74th Independence Day of India, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • The vision of NDHM is to create a national digital health ecosystem which enables timely and efficient access to inclusive, affordable, and safe healthcare to all citizens.
  • NDHM aims to significantly improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of health services in India.

2 . Panel to review charter of DRDO labs

Context: A five-member expert committee has been constituted to review the charter of duties for all laboratories of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

About the committee

  • The committee was constituted by G. Satheesh Reddy the Chairman of DRDO.
  • The five-member committee is headed by Professor V. Ramagopal Rao, Director, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
  • Panel also includes representation from the armed forces, with Deputy Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sandeep Singh as a member. Others include ISRO Director S Somnath and two representatives from within the DRDO.
  • The committee will submit its report within 45 days

The terms of reference of the committee

  • The committee will study and review the charter of duties of all the labs of the DRDO
  • The committee will redefine the charter of duties of the labs on the current and futuristic defence and battlefield scenario and will also minimise the overlap of technologies amongst the labs.


  • The mandate given to the expert panel includes suggesting measures to provide a push to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ (self-reliant India Movement) and cut dependence on imported weapons and systems, the officials cited above said on condition of anonymity.


  • India is dependent largely on imported weapons and systems. This committee will provide a push to ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ (self-reliant India Movement) and will also cut dependence on imported weapons and systems
  • The committee will come up with measures which will make DRDO more competitive and accountable.

Previous Restructuring of the Organisation

  • The last major overhaul of the organisation took place after the Rama Rao Committee report of 2008 that had suggested that DRDO be reorganised into clusters of labs based on the role they were tasked with. Seven clusters were set up like missiles, armaments, aeronautical systems and life sciences.
  • The Rama Rao Committee had recommended the setting up of a Defence Technology Commission, a younger age profile for scientists, more involvement of the organization in defence procurements, more foreign collaborations, a dedicated research board, restructuring of labs and a commercial arm of the research body.
  • It had also recommended that DRDO concentrate efforts in 8-10 critical areas suiting its existing resources and that 11 labs related to life sciences be transferred out of DRDO to other departments.

3 . Parliamentary Committees

Context: Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu have addressed the issue of confidentiality of panel meetings with the chairpersons of parliamentary standing committees.

What are parliamentary committees and what do they do?

  • A lot of parliamentary business gets done in these committees, away from both Houses. The popular perception, that MPs work only when Parliament is in session (three sessions in a year), is a bit uncharitable. Every member of the House is a member of one of the parliamentary committees. The members of these committees discuss every Bill that is referred to them threadbare.

What are the different parliamentary committees?

  • Broadly, they are of two kinds: ad hoc committees and the permanent committees.
  • Ad hoc committees are appointed for a specific purpose and cease to exist when they finish the task assigned to them and submit a report. The principal ad hoc committees are the select and joint committees. There are some other ad hoc committees too, but they handle different issues such as privileges, ethics, security, government assurances and food management.
  • Parliament has permanent committees called the standing committees. Most Bills, after their introduction, get referred to department-related standing committees, which are permanent and regular bodies.
    • There are 24 standing committees, each dealing with specific subjects such as commerce, home affairs, HRD, defence, health etc.
    • Each standing committee has 31 members — 21 from the Lok Sabha and 10 from the Rajya Sabha — nominated by the Speaker and the Chairman.
    • Their term lasts a year.
    • The idea behind these committees, first set up in 1993, is that with Parliament working for a limited days in a year, Bills, which deal with technical and policy matters, need to be discussed in detail, after taking the view of diverse stakeholders and experts. While referring a Bill to a standing committee, the Chairman or the Speaker may specify the time within which it has to submit its report. 
  • The joint committees and standing committees become defunct after the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
  • A Bill, which has already been referred to a standing committee and passed by one House may be referred to a select committee by another House.

Recent issues and Concerns raised

  • Recently BJP MP Nishikant Dubey wrote to him seeking the removal of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor as chairman of the Standing Committee on Information Technology for allegedly “flouting”rules. It was alleged that Tharoor the Chairman of committee flouted rules by summoning Facebook, without first discussing it in the Committee, to explain a report in The Wall Street Journal that a top executive of the company in India had “opposed applying hate-speech rules” to BJP-linked individuals and groups, citing business imperatives.
  • Chairman of Rajyasabha has also raised concerns about access to the contents of the proceedings of the committees by the media as it tantamount to “breach of privilege of the House.

Role of Speaker in Parliamentary Committees

  • Direction 55 of ‘Directions by the Speaker’, which says “the proceedings of a Committee shall be treated as confidential and it shall not be permissible for a member of the Committee or any one who has access to its proceedings to communicate, directly or indirectly, to the press any information regarding its proceedings including its report or any conclusions arrived at, finally or tentatively, before the report has been presented to the House.”
  • Rule 270 of the ‘Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha’, which says that a “Committee shall have power to send for persons, papers and records”; however, “if any question arises whether the evidence of a person or the production of a document is relevant for the purposes of the Committee, the question shall be referred to the Speaker whose decision shall be final”. The government may, under Rule 270, “decline to produce a document on the ground that its disclosure would be prejudicial to the safety or interest of the State”.

4 . ‘India risks stagnation if GDP doesn’t grow over 8% annually’

Context : McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) has recently released a report ‘India’s turning point’ on the status of the Indian economy.

Findings of the report

  • GDP growth: According to the report India’s GDP is set to contract by over 5% in FY21 and it needs to grow annually at 8-8.5% to create opportunities in the post COVID-19 era.
  • Job creation: According to the report, given the increasing urbanisation and population trends, there will be 90 million additional workers in search of non-farm jobs by 2030 and India will have to triple job creation to 12 million gainful non-farm jobs per year from the 4 million achieved between 2013 to 2018.
  • Manufacturing and the construction sectors are the ones which can offer most opportunities for economic growth and also for higher employment.
  • According to the report, India can face a decade of stagnating incomes and quality of life if urgent steps are not taken to spur growth.

Measures suggested

  • Reforms: Report advocated attention to manufacturing, real estate, agriculture, healthcare, and retail sectors, unlocking land which can reduce prices by up to a fourth, creating flexible labour markets, enabling efficient power distribution to reduce tariffs for consumers by over 20% and privatising 30 top state-run enterprise
  • Reforms should be done in the financial sector and the fiscal resources should be streamlined as it can deliver $2.4 trillion in investment and can also boost entrepreneurship by lowering the cost of capital for enterprises by about 3.5 percentage points
  • A ‘bad bank’ should be created to take care of dud assets.
  • A bulk 60% of the reforms will have to be undertaken by the States and the remaining 40% by the Centre.

5 . Export Preparedness Index 2020

Context: Export Preparedness Index 2020  was released recently by government think-tank NITI Aayog.

About the Index

  • Niti Aayog in partnership with the Institute of Competitiveness has released the first Export Preparedness Index (EPI) 2020.
  • The EPI intends to identify challenges and opportunities and encourage a facilitative regulatory framework.
  • The index ranked states on four key parameters – policy; business ecosystem; export ecosystem; export performance.
  • The index also took into consideration 11 sub-pillars — export promotion policy; institutional framework; business environment; infrastructure; transport connectivity; access to finance; export infrastructure; trade support; R&D infrastructure; export diversification; and growth orientation.

States Performance

  • Gujarat has topped the index followed by Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
  • The other States that have made it to the top 10 include Rajasthan, Odisha, Telangana, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Kerala.
  • Himalayan states: Uttarakhand topped the chart, followed by Tripura and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Union Territories: Delhi has performed the best, followed by Goa and Chandigarh.
  • Landlocked States: Rajasthan performed the best, followed by Telangana and Haryana.
  • Coastal States emerged as the best performers, with six out of eight coastal States featuring in the top 10 rankings.

Concerns Raised

  • Report highlighted India’s inability to take advantage of China’s falling export capacity during 2014-16, and losing out to nations like Vietnam due to delayed action. This “vital period” had served as an opening for other developing economies to enter and subsume lines of production from where China had either been weakened or its influence toned down.
  • “India did bring in reforms in late 2017 to ensure that the export sector remained competitive and attracts potential investors. However, Bangladesh and Vietnam had made the most of the situation before India and enhanced their export competitiveness by targeting their strengths,” it stated.


  • Short-term solutions to these “significant” bottlenecks, ranges from facilitating joint development of export infrastructure to collaborating with academic institutions.
  • By creating convergence for building export infrastructure, facilitating robust industry-academia-government linkages to build trade-support networks, promoting state-level engagements for economic diplomacy, and an emphasized focus on designs and standards, India would be able to develop some of the key learnings of this analysis.”
  • Report signifies that States will not only have to focus on increasing and diversifying exports but also need to focus on ensuring forward and backward integration to global value chains, which would allow the states to export higher value-added goods and services

6 . RBI Contingency Fund

Context : The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the government’s banker, has retained a whopping amount of Rs 73,615 crore within the RBI by transferring it to the Contingency Fund (CF) of the central bank, thus leading to a sharp fall in the transfer of surplus to the government in the current year. The central bank’s main risk provision accounts – Contingency Fund, Currency and Gold Revaluation Account (CGRA), Investment Revaluation Account Foreign Securities (IRA-FS) and Investment Revaluation Account-Rupee Securities (IRA-RS) — together now amount to Rs 13.88 lakh crore.

What is the Contingency Fund (CF)?

  • This is a specific provision meant for meeting unexpected and unforeseen contingencies, including depreciation in the value of securities, risks arising out of monetary/exchange rate policy operations, systemic risks and any risk arising on account of the special responsibilities enjoined upon the Reserve Bank.
  • This amount is retained within the RBI. With a higher provision of Rs 73,615 crore towards CF, the balance in CF as of June 2020 was Rs 264,034 crore as compared to Rs 196,344 crore in June 2019 and Rs 232,108 crore in June 2018. Last year, it withdrew Rs 52,637 crore from CF to pay a higher surplus to the government.

What did the government get as surplus this year?

  • The Central Board of the RBI recently approved the transfer of Rs 57,128 crore as surplus – or dividend — to the Central government for the accounting year 2019-20, sharply lower by 67.5 per cent from Rs 1.76 lakh crore that it paid to the government last year.
  • While the RBI’s transfer this year is as per the economic capital framework (ECF) adopted by the RBI board last year, last year’s transfer included Rs 123,414 crore of dividends due from the previous financial year 2018-19 and Rs 52,637 crore taken out from CF as per the revised ECF.
  • As per Section 47 of the RBI Act, profits or surplus of the RBI are to be transferred to the government, after making various contingency provisions, public policy mandate of the RBI, including financial stability considerations.

Why did surplus transfer rise last year?

  • The government, which was looking for funds to bridge the deficit, sought higher surplus from the RBI pointing out the high reserves/ surplus retained by the RBI.
  • It was initially resisted by the RBI which was then headed by Urjit Patel.
  • The RBI relented later appointed the Bimal Jalan committee to work out the modalities of the transfer.
  • Last year, the RBI said as the central bank’s financial resilience was within the desired range, the excess risk provision amounting to Rs 52,637 crore was written back from Contingency Fund to income, facilitating the transfer of Rs 1.76 lakh crore surplus to the government.

What’s the CGRA account?

  • The Currency and Gold Revaluation Account (CGRA) is maintained by the Reserve Bank to take care of currency risk, interest rate risk and movement in gold prices.
  • Unrealised gains or losses on valuation of foreign currency assets (FCA) and gold are not taken to the income account but instead accounted for in the CGRA. Net balance in CGRA, therefore, varies with the size of the asset base, its valuation and movement in the exchange rate and price of gold.
  • CGRA provides a buffer against exchange rate/ gold price fluctuations. It can come under pressure if there is an appreciation of the rupee vis-à-vis major currencies or a fall in the price of gold.
  • When CGRA is not sufficient to fully meet exchange losses, it is replenished from the CF. During 2019-20, the balance in CGRA increased from Rs 664,480 crore as on June 30, 2019 to Rs 977,141 crore as on June 30, 2020 mainly due to depreciation of rupee and the rise in the international price of gold.

Why did RBI’s income decline this year?

  • The RBI’s income declined by 29 per cent to Rs 149,672 crore as of June 2020 when compared to Rs 193,036 crore in 2018-19. This is because the previous year’s income included a write-back from Contingency Fund amounting to Rs 52,637 crore which was then transferred to the government.
  • A comparison excluding the same from previous year’s income, shows a marginal increase in the income for 2019-20.
  • The expenditure of the Reserve Bank for the year 2019-20 is Rs 92,540 crore which includes a risk provision of Rs 73,615 crore towards Contingency Fund as compared to an expenditure of Rs 17,045 crore in 2018-19. The year ended with an overall surplus of Rs 57,128 crore which will be transferred to the government this year.

What are IRA-FS and IRA-RS accounts?

  • The unrealised gains or losses on revaluation in foreign dated securities are recorded in the Investment Revaluation Account Foreign Securities (IRA-FS). The balance in IRA-FS increased from Rs 15,735 crore as on June 30, 2019 to Rs 53,834 crore as on June 30, 2020.
  • Similarly, the unrealised gains or losses on revaluation is accounted for in Investment Revaluation Account-Rupee Securities (IRA-RS). The balance in IRA-RS increased from Rs 49,476 crore as on June 30, 2019 to Rs 93,415 crore as on June 30, 2020 due to increase in portfolio of rupee securities and decline in yields on government of India securities held by the Reserve Bank during the year.

7 . Facts for Prelims

Exercise Kavkaz

  • India is sending a tri-services contingent of around 200 personnel to Southern Russia in September for participating in a multi-lateral exercise, Kavkaz-2020
  • India, China, Pakistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Belarus, Turkey, Armenia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are set to take part in Kavkaz 2020.
  • Russian KavKaz 2020 is actually strategic command-post exercise or simply called war games.
  • China and Pakistan have also received invitations to participate in KavKaz 2020 as both countries are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
  • The aim of the exercise is to “provide real-time training to counter international terrorism in the Northern and Caucasus region”, and the setting “will involve both offensive and defensive operations against international terror”
  • The word Kavkaz is derived as a modern variant of Caucasus or Caucasia, a region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and mainly occupied by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and southwestern Russia.
  • The Kavkaz region is home to the Caucasus Mountains, including the Greater Caucasus mountain range, which has historically been considered a natural barrier between Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
  • For the most part, Russia’s large-scale military exercises are scheduled in four major drills on a rotating basis: Vostok (East), Zapad (West), Tsentr (Center), and Kavkaz (South), which correlate to Russia’s military districts. So it was Zapad 2017, Vostok 2018, Tsentr 2019, and now Kavkaz 2020.

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