Monday, 8 August 2016

JULY 2016: 15-31 (FORTNIGHTLY)

JULY 2016: 15-31 (FORTNIGHTLY)
  (15-31) JULY 2016 (पाक्षिक)

                                                     - जलवायु संकट, पारिस्थिकी
                                                    - प्रदूषण                
                                             - आदिवासी विमर्श
                                              - कृषि और किसानी
                                        - जल दर्शन
                                                    - देशज ज्ञान और स्वास्थ्य
                                     - विविध

India seeks market access for sesame seeds in Japan
The country also wants access for its service professionals like nurses
India will seek greater market access in the Japanese market for its farm products such as sesame seeds as well as for its services professionals including nurses, when senior officials of both the countries meet on July 28 in New Delhi.
India’s Commerce Ministry will be pushing a proposal asking Japan to bring its big ‘general trading companies’ such as Itochu, Mitsui and Mitsubishi to India for bulk purchase of sesame seeds (locally known as ‘till’), official sources told The Hindu .
July 28 meeting
The July 28 meeting will be that of the (India-Japan) Joint Committee — a panel set up following the signing of the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in 2011. The committee’s functions include reviewing the CEPA and suggesting amendments to the pact to boost bilateral trade and investment.
The focus on sesame seeds is because Japan is the world's second largest importer of the item (after China) with annual imports of around 1.6 lakh tonnes. Sesame seeds are used in Japanese cuisine in salads, soups, snacks, candies, and for flavouring and baking. Sesame oil is used in cooking, and in manufacture of soaps, perfumes and pharmaceuticals, while sesame meal (a by-product of the oil) is used as poultry feed.
However, following the detection of pesticides and insecticides such as DDT and malathion in some sesame seeds consignments from India over two decades ago, Japan has been reluctant to import the commodity from India, according to Sanjiv Sawla, chairman, Indian Oilseeds and Produce Export Promotion Council (IOPEC). However, he said, there is no official ban in Japan on import of sesame seeds from India.
“The issue is yet to be resolved as Japan is insisting that the seeds should be pesticide and insecticide-free. We have been having regular dialogues and have even taken them to the fields where the item is grown. Now we are encouraging our farmers to use pesticides/insecticides permitted as per global norms, besides asking the farmers to shift to organic farming,” Mr. Sawla said. To convince Japan that India can be a reliable sesame seeds supplier, IOPEC has held meetings with several leading Japanese general trading companies regarding bulk purchase of sesame seeds from India, Sawla said, adding that these companies are also in touch with some of the leading Indian sesame seed exporters.
India is the world’s largest sesame seed producer with an annual production of around 7 lakh tonnes. India is also the world's largest exporter of the item. India’s sesame seeds exports in FY'15 was 3.76 lakh tonnes valued at Rs.4717.77 crore but it slipped in FY’16 to 3.28 lakh tonnes worth Rs.3011.52 crore.
Learning Japanese
On the services side, India – with a large resource pool of professional nurses — is keen to expedite the signing of a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) between the Indian Nursing Council and its Japanese counterpart to ensure that Japan accepts Indian qualified nurses and certified care-workers.
As per the CEPA, it was decided that Japan will conclude negotiations with India in this regard by 2013-end, but sources said there has been a delay. Japan is learnt to be reluctant to allow Indian nurses.

Promote labour-intensive industries: NITI Aayog
Developing coastal economic zones would allow India to meet demand from export markets’
NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya stressed upon the need to promote labour-intensive industries in the country in a bid to create jobs.
In a meeting with central trade unions and industry bodies, Mr. Panagariya gave a presentation on employment generation drawing a comparison with other countries such as China, Korea and Japan, said Virjesh Upadhyay, general secretary, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, who attended the meeting.
“The presentation talked about the need to promote big and capital-intensive industries,” Mr. Upadhyay said.
The meeting comes ahead of the labour ministry’s meet on July 18 with central trade unions to revive talks on their 12-point charter of demands. “He also said that legislative reforms in the area of tax, land and reforms are a must to generate jobs,” Mr. Upadhyay said, adding that this was the first time that the government think-tank held a meeting with the trade unions. CII and FICCI representatives also attended the meeting.

Centre to amend compensation law


Employers will be penalised up to an amount of Rs.1 lakh
Millions of people working in the unorganised sector, who sustain injuries at their workplace, will soon be eligible for higher compensation from employers as the Union Cabinet has approved amendments to the Employee’s Compensation Act of 1923.
Although there has been no official communication on the approval given by the Union Cabinet, top labour ministry officials said Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya moved the labour law amendments to the Lok Sabha Secretariat and it is expected to be introduced in the Lower House in the next few days.
Injury or death
According to the amendments approved by the Cabinet, employers will be liable for penalty amount in the range of Rs.50,000-Rs.1 lakh, up substantially from Rs.500 at present, in case they fail to report the authorities about an accident occurring in work premises leading to injuries, serious body injuries or death of a worker.
Employees or their families will be eligible for higher compensation from employers as the latter will no longer be able to move the court for paying them a sum of up to Rs.10,000. At present, employers can move the High Court for an appeal against the Labour Commissioner’s order of paying more than Rs.300 as compensation. “The law will ensure that employees are not harassed by the employers for a small amount of compensation. This proposal will help employees get at least Rs.10,000 as compensation without facing legal hurdles,” said another senior labour ministry official.
The Employees’ Compensation Act, enacted in 1923, is one of the first legislations providing a social security net to workers in the country which covers all work-related injuries. It provides payment of compensation to workers and their families in case of injury or death by industrial accidents.
Increased compensation
The law is applicable to unorganised workers employed in factories, mines, plantation, construction site and also, to certain railway servants. Earlier known as the Workmen’s Compensation Act, it was amended by the UPA government in 2009 to substantially increase compensation for workers.
“The proposed amendment related to a hike in penalty in case of non-reporting of accidents is a very encouraging move. This will incentivise the employers to report all form of accidents and once that happens, the judicial proceedings will take over and the workers or their dependents can get compensation well within time,” said K.R. Shyam Sundar, professor of human resources management at XLRI Jamshedpur.
He said the proposed change related to increasing compensation amount not entitled for appeals from the employer is a move in tune with the present level of minimum wages prevalent in the country compared with 1923. “It doesn’t alter the situation at all. The employers can still move the High Court. It is seen that compensation cases go on for very long because of appeal and counter-appeal proceedings that go to the Supreme Court,” Mr Sundar said. He backed a system of such cases going to the industrial courts.
It will help employees get at least Rs.10,000 as compensation without facing legal hurdles

Merging Railway and Union Budget won’t alter the fiscal deficit
Edited excerpts:
Railways Minister Mr. Suresh Prabhu has sought a merger of the Railway Budget with the Union Budget. If accepted, will the move widen fiscal deficit?
We are looking at the proposal. In the past too some committees have made the recommendation. The thought has been with us for some time. My own sense, without having gone deep into the matter, is that it will not make too much of a difference to the general budget. It only means that the Railway Budget will not be presented separately. It will alter the numbers [the expenditure and revenue projections etc] but I don’t think it will alter the fiscal deficit. The Railway Budget is taking care of its own requirements. The Railways don’t have an operating loss. Their operating ratio varies but is always around 90 per cent. It has never been over the top.
The next Budget could see several institutional changes—new fiscal year and no plan-non-plan distinction. How different will the Budget process be?
For eliminating the distinction between plan and non-plan and replacing it with revenue and capital expenditures, a decision is already in place. A very elaborate exercise is going on for both the procedural as well as the formatting aspects. Soon we should be in a position to lay down the new structure of the budget.
The necessity of planning has been underscored. For every scheme being implemented, a new scheme conceived or a new project to be made, the first decision is that the scheme should have a sunset clause. This entails two things: you are able to predict the kind of resources which will be required in a given length of time and the corollary to that is that you have given yourself and the system a certain timeframe within which the desired outcome and the output should be achieved.
There could always be cases where even after achieving the output for the outcome you might have to wait. This is the thinking behind the new design. We are also expecting all the ministries to undertake an evaluation of the current schemes as you happen to be in the terminal year of the 12th plan. Should they decide for good reasons after their evaluation that the schemes need to continue then they will have to make a case for that.
A similar exercise was undertaken by a committee of state chief ministers that gave its report to the NITI Aayog on centrally-sponsored schemes.
This is the time to take stock, review, evaluate and come to a well-reasoned conclusion on whether they want to end a scheme or revamp it, such as the central sector schemes in the department of human resource development or social welfare or the environment.
The 7th Pay Commission recommended that no more pay commissions should be appointed and a system of pay revisions linked to performance should be introduced. Did the Centre miss an opportunity to improve governance and introduce efficiency by not accepting it?
The government has accepted recommendations pertaining to pay and pension.
All the rest, it left to be decided subsequently. Issues which are administrative in nature, those have been left to respective departments to examine.
So is there a deadline?
The government has not said it has not accepted or rejected the other recommendations. Commissions have made observations, advice that can not be strictly categorised as recommendations. But all the same, since experts go into issues of governance, the government does consider their observations. There is no deadline, but obviously, at some point, the ministries will be asked to tell us their view on those recommendations.
The government is bottom-heavy with perhaps too few bureaucrats. Do you expect any decision to rationalise it?
There is an ongoing process in which cadre strengths are reviewed. All organised services are supposed to carry out cadre restructuring exercises every five years. It is at that point in time you take a view whether you want to increase or decrease the posts, or change the strengths at the different levels. There are authorities within the government empowered to create posts when situations demand it. Equally, there are rules that say if a post is sanctioned but not utilised for a certain length of time then it lapses.
On the other hand, there could be an argument that government should downsize or right-size. There could be a case to re-engineer the work of the government by which the burden of various departments is divested. Take the case of passport services or Registrar of Companies.
India looks to counter U.S. move on trade sanctions
The sanctions, if approved, could cost India more than $450 million annually
The Centre is weighing “all” options including retaliatory measures to counter a U.S. move to seek imposition of more than $450 million in trade sanctions against India on the grounds that New Delhi failed to comply with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) order in the poultry import ban case.
The WTO Appellate Body had found that India’s import prohibition on poultry and poultry products was ‘discriminatory’ and ‘more trade-restrictive than required’, and therefore violated WTO norms. As per the U.S., India failed to comply with the WTO body’s recommendations within the set deadline (of June 19) -- a claim which New Delhi is contesting on technical grounds.
The U.S. now wants an arbitration panel under the WTO to approve imposing trade sanctions that could cost India more than $450 million annually.
‘Sequencing agreement’
According to the WTO, the U.S. had filed the case against India’s prohibition on importation of various agricultural products (including poultry) from the U.S. purportedly because of concerns related to Avian Influenza (bird flu). The U.S. had claimed that the ban was against WTO norms and had hurt its poultry exports to India.
Official sources said that the “options” now being considered by India include: (i) raising its concerns -- over the “surprisingly aggressive” U.S. push for such trade sanctions -- at high-level bilateral meetings in August (the Strategic & Commercial Dialogue) and October (Trade Policy Forum) and (ii) ensuring through discussions that the U.S. agrees to withdraw its efforts to seek an arbitration panel for assessing the quantum of trade sanctions, and instead give consent to India’s demand for a “sequencing agreement.”
The ‘sequencing agreement’ is to ensure that the matter is instead referred to a WTO ‘compliance panel,’ which will look into India’s claim that it has complied with the WTO appellate panel’s recommendations.
The sources said the retaliatory measures that India is planning include expediting internal preparations to file as many as 14 cases at the WTO against the U.S. alleging that renewable energy policies of many State governments in the U.S. have “very significant” domestic content requirements “violating” America’s obligations under the WTO agreements on Trade-Related Investment Measures as well as on Subsidies & Countervailing Measures.
“We (India) are exploring all options to protect our interests,” a senior official said.
The sources said Indian officials from the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries (Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare) and the Commerce Department, as well as U.S. officials from the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, had on July 20 held a video conference.
Health certificates
During the conference, India had clearly explained the notification issued by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, related guidelines and the required health certificates. The Indian side explained that the norms were in line with the international (OIE) guidelines on Avian Influenza and that they complied with the WTO order. The sources said the U.S. did not raise any major objections during that conference, adding that India will, therefore, seek to know why the U.S. is now keen on imposing trade sanctions.
India had sought a ‘sequencing agreement’ with the U.S. before the June 19 deadline itself in the poultry case.
However, Washington rejected it saying it could not enter into such negotiations especially when India had not even put out its official notification at that time in compliance with the WTO ruling.
Bird flu
As against the June 19 deadline agreed at the WTO, India’s final notification (on poultry import) came only on July 8. In an interview to The Hindu on July 13, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that when the case was going on at the WTO level, the Centre had received many representations from farmers in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana who had raised their concerns on such poultry imports.
The Centre also received legal advice on concerns including bird flu, she said. “Since the notification has come now, I am sure the U.S. will take note of it, and there wouldn’t be a basis for sanctions.”
We have missed the 2020 bus: Jaitley
New Delhi,

Need to ensure credible policies that could push GDP growth rates’

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Thursday that there was a need for credible politics to ensure there can be credible policies that deliver the GDP growth rates that will make India a developed country at least by 2030, ten years later than the goal given by the former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. “We can’t have another spectrum scam,” he said.
Delivering the first Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Memorial Lecture here, whose first death anniversary was on Wednesday, Mr. Jaitley said that if India could grow faster and distribute the benefits, that would be the best antidote to poverty and to bridge the divides of caste, religion and regions.
‘Focus on education’
“Dr. Kalam’s vision of becoming developed by 2020 doesn’t seem possible now, we have missed the bus, the date will have to be pushed...what can we do to achieve it by 2030,” he said. Dr. Kalam, he said, spoke of a system of providing urban-like facilities in rural areas and laid emphasis on education and the development of scientific temperament. Mr. Jaitley said “we cannot afford to have Bengaluru and Gurgaon, the IT hubs that are representatives of India globally, in the condition they have been over the last few hours”. The monsoon rains have brought the two cities to their knees.
The BJP-led NDA government had emphasised large scale investment in infrastructure, including in highways and irrigation, the Minister said, was in line with Dr. Kalam’s vision. The Goods & Services Tax, a uniform tax across the country, was important not only because it would lower the burden of taxation but also improve the ease of doing business.
Mr. Jaitley, who had been the one to be tasked with briefing Dr. Kalam with the responsibilities of the President in wake of the decision of his candidature for the post by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, shared memories of their interactions. “After I had briefed him, he asked two questions: how developed are our laws with regard to the resources under the sea and the other about our resources in the hemisphere,” Mr. Jaitley said.
Recounting Dr. Kalam’s “ability to charm,” Mr. Jaitley said that instead of delivering a lecture at Delhi University’s Shri Ram College of Commerce, he put it up on the Internet and sought questions from students. At the college, he replied to 20 questions he had picked from those posted and interacted with students. Just before leaving, he stepped out of his car and returned to the auditorium, saying he had forgotten something, Mr. Jaitley recollected. “Back inside, he told the 20 students that he had forgotten to get a picture with them and got some shot.”
Ministries included in new clusters

The Narendra Modi government has moved the Ministry of Rural Development from ‘Economic/ Commerce cluster to the Social Sector cluster’ and Food Processing from the social sector to infrastructure.
It is not clear what has prompted the government to make the shift and what could be its implications. The move has come at a time when the government is facing criticism from several quarters for systematically downsizing the Ministry by cutting funds under various programmes and schemes conceived by it.
The Ministries and departments in the Government of India are bracketed under one of the four clusters — Social, Economic, Infrastructure and Regulatory.
A memorandum by the department on the re-allocation of the cluster of Rural Development and Food Processing merely brought it to the notice of various wings of the government without elaboration.
In the second week of July, the Rural Development Ministry held a two-day meeting to review the schemes it executes and monitors. It is the Nodal Ministry for the ‘development and welfare’ activities in rural areas to ensure a ‘sustainable and inclusive growth’.
With a budgetary outlay of Rs. 86,000 crore, the Ministry runs major programmes, including the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act for wage employment, the National Rural Livelihoods Mission for self-employment and skill development, the Indira Awaas Yojana for providing housing to BPL households, the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana for construction of quality roads and the National Social Assistance Programme for social pension.
Poor returns nip guar production
Little overseas demand and poor returns have forced guar-seed farmers in Rajasthan and Haryana to cut down on production this kharif.
In Rajasthan, the area is down to 14.27 lakh hectares from 28 lakh hectares in the same period last year, according the Agriculture Department.
In Haryana, farmers have sown guar-seed on 91,000 hectares, far below the target of three lakh hectares set by the government for this year.
“Farmers are unhappy with poor returns and are shifting to pulses and bajra. We could see a 40 per cent reduction in guar-seed area in Rajasthan alone, if it doesn’t rain in the coming days,” G.L. Sarda, president of the Guar Gum Manufacturers Association of India, told The Hindu .
Guar gum is extracted from the guar seed.
Rajasthan and Haryana account for 80 per cent of India’s guar-seed production. “The next 7-10 days are critical... If there is good rain in the major growing areas, sowing may pick up,” Mr. Sarda said.
Guar seed price has dipped 40 per cent to Rs. 3,150 a quintal, from Rs. 5,000 last year. In 2014, it was around Rs. 5,500.
Since the late 2009, the price had risen from below Rs. 2,700 a quintal to Rs. 30,000 because of the huge demand from the crude oil industry overseas.
‘Difficult now’
“Till a couple of years ago, guar-seed cultivation was profitable; but with the price falling steadily, it is difficult now,” said Rakesh Kumar, a farmer in Sirsa district of Haryana. He has switched to pulses this year on his 15 acres. “I still have last year’s stock and I hoped the price would recover. But so far, it has not,” he said.
Purshotam Hisaria, former president of the Indian Guar Gum Manufacturers Association, said the huge carryover stock and the poor demand from the crude oil sector forced the farmers to abandon guar. “Unless inventories dry up and the demand for guar gum picks up again, the prices in domestic markets may not rise significantly,” Mr. Hisaria said.
Supercomputer to forecast monsoon with dynamical model
New Delhi,
Tested over a decade, the updated method ready for operations in 2017
Next year, India’s annual summer monsoon forecast may be made by a supercomputer running a dynamical model.
The Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Madhavan Rajeevan, said the dynamical model, being tested at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, (IITM) Pune for a decade was “ready for operational purposes next year.” A dynamical monsoon model works by simulating the weather on powerful computers and extrapolating it over particular timeframes.
Though this method is normally effective in forecasting weather over a few days, using it to forecast the annual monsoon over 3 or 4 months has proved difficult.
While such models have been used for research purposes for long, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has never integrated them into its operational forecast. “We hope to be able to launch it next year though discussions are still ongoing,” Mr. Rajeevan said, on the sidelines of an Earth Sciences Ministry foundation day event on Wednesday. The IMD, a division of MoES, is the official national weather forecaster. Mr. Rajeevan clarified that statistical models would still be in use next year. The IMD Director-General, L.S. Rathore, said, “We are ready to use the dynamical model, but this doesn’t mean one is abandoned for the other. Both have their role and we must use what’s best.”
The IMD relies on an ensemble model, a statistical technique that uses an average of six meteorological values correlated to the monsoon such as sea surface temperatures in the Pacific, and North Atlantic sea level pressure. These values are derived from century-old meteorological data linked to the historical performance of the monsoon.
Prediction failures
This traditional approach in recent decades has failed to predict monsoon failures — in 2002 and 2004 for instance — leading to calls by meteorologists for a new, modern forecasting system.
Though the dynamical model, called the Coupled Forecast System version 2, has so far achieved only 60 per cent accuracy in forecasting the monsoon, Rajeevan says it is good enough for now. “No doubt it needs to improve and the aim is to make that 77 per cent but we have to start somewhere,” he added. A confidence boost came when the dynamical model and the ensemble technique correctly signalled a drought in 2015.
While the IMD has for some years put out the dynamical model’s forecast along with the traditional one, its plans to give prominence to the dynamical model signals a new approach. This is a precursor to giving monsoon predictions over India’s 36 sub-divisions rather than only four broad geographic regions that encompass them. A dynamical approach can also be more easily tuned to account for rapidly changing global weather conditions.
Earthquake clues found in ancient temples in Himalayas

Adorned with hand-carved sculptures of gods and goddesses, the seventh-century stone and wooden temples scattered across northwestern India are marvels from an era when ancient kings ruled the Himalayas.
But if you look carefully you’ll notice many have tilted pillars, slanted rooftops and warped stone floors. To the average visitor these may seem like wear and tear from centuries of aging, but to archaeoseismologists they are telltale signs of massive earthquakes that once devastated the region.
Disaster in 1555
A pair of researchers from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology used the damaged temples to better understand the range and extent of damage caused by a quake that struck a nearby district in 1905 and another that hit a more distant region in 1555.
They say the marks imprinted by these disasters provide clues of potential temblors to come.
The archaeoseismologists have reported their findings in the journal Seismological Research Letters . They wrote that the 1905 Kangra quake killed 18,815 people, and described the other in 1555 as “a destructive earthquake in Kashmir, which ruined towns, killed several hundred people, and changed the course of the River Vesha, a tributary of the Jhelum.”
Their work focused on temples in two towns, Chamba and Bharmour, which are in Himachal Pradesh.
The Chamba temples are about 50 km north of Kangra and the Bharmour ones are about 65 km northwest of the district. Both towns are about 145 km south of Kashmir, which is a very seismically active region.
This area has remained relatively quiet for some time, but powerful earthquakes of magnitude 7.5 or larger have ravaged the regions that surround it. One of the deadliest struck the eastern part of Kashmir in 2005, killing more than 85,000 people in northern Pakistan.
The temples, which provide a look into the lives and culture of the ancient people of the Himalayas, are sandwiched between Kashmir and Kangra.
Yet, they escaped the 1905 and 2005 earthquakes generally unscathed, and there were no evident signs of the quakes in the area’s geological record.
“The Chamba kings built many temples at different places during their long reign,” Mayank Joshi, lead author of the study, said in an email. “Both earthquakes didn’t generate any deformation and destruction in the Chamba area. This factor led us to study earthquake history of the area.”
By analysing broken bricks, cracked walls and deformed doorsteps in the temples in both towns and then comparing that data with historical accounts of natural disasters, the researchers linked the earthquakes with damage in the ancient structures.
Decoding history
They were able to tell the difference between deformation done by earthquakes and that incurred through old age. The tremors created damage with consistent patterns, like shear marks that were seen on multiple pillars and walls. The damage in the unaffected temples they examined did not have similar patterns.
They concluded that the 1905 Kangra earthquake damaged the Bharmour temples, but left the Chamba temples untouched. They also found that the 1555 Kashmir earthquake shook the temples in Chamba, but did not affect the ones in Bharmour.
This latter finding helped provide a clearer picture of how far the historic 1555 earthquake was felt, improving upon the few reports that survived nearly 500 years after that event.
Mr. Joshi suggested that because Chamba is surrounded by faults, the area has the potential to become active again. He added that because the findings show that the area had not experienced any major earthquakes in the last 461 years, it could be overdue for a catastrophic quake. — New York Times News Service
MRP for coronary stents to be announced in three months
The medical device has been added to NLEM recently, bringing it under price control

Within three months, the general public can expect the government to announce the maximum retail price for coronary stents, which has recently been added to the national list of essential medicines (NLEM) 2015, effectively bringing them under price control.
While patients, doctors and Indian-stent manufactures have welcomed the move, others aren’t celebrating the announcement.
Speaking about the move, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, K.L. Sharma explained that the move has been based on recommendations which noted that all types of stents, including the latest biodegradable stents should be put on the list.
“The sub-committee has submitted its report and the government has accepted its recommendations. We have now sent this to the Department of Pharmaceuticals and the process of price fixation will take its natural course. We are hopeful that the maximum retail price will be fixed and announced in the next three months. Processes are already underway to ensure that a transparent and fair mechanism is adopted for price ceiling, which will benefit the poorest of the poor and make good quality stents available at the best price,” Mr. Sharma added.
The sub-committee of expert cardiologists was constituted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in October 2015 under the chairmanship of Professor Y.K. Gupta, head, department of pharmacology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), to examine the issues relating to the essentiality of coronary stents and recommend whether it should be included in the NLEM.
Medicines and devices listed in the NLEM are sold at the price fixed by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), while those in the non-scheduled list are allowed a maximum annual price hike of 10 per cent.
Dr. Ripen Gupta, Interventional Cardiologist, Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, said: “Of course we welcome the move as the cost benefit goes directly to my patients and I am hoping that more people will be able to afford this advancement in technology. Price control will ensure that base price is uniform across government, semi-private and private facilities. It will also bring in much needed transparency in the system. Drugs outside price control can be sold at prices set by the manufacturer, which is governed by profit making and market forces.”
“We appreciate the government move to include stents in NLEM, which will ensure more transparency and accessibility of these essential life-saving devices for the patients. However, we request NPPA to follow a diligent process to arrive at a fair MRP considering the fact that unlike pharmaceuticals, every Class III medical device like Drug Eluting Stents (DES) needs huge investment on R&D and clinical trials and an ad-hoc decision may be detrimental to the Industry,” said Gurmit Singh Chugh, managing director, Translumina Therapeutics, DES, manufacturer in India.
Ganesh Sabat of Sahajanand Medical Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which manufactures stents, said: “We welcome the move as this would mean that this treatment can be made available to all, including the middle class and the poor. Local manufacturing means that we are offering stents at 1/5 of the cost.”
However, the medical devices industry said the inclusion of stents in the NLEM and the consequent price cap could stop manufacturers from introducing technologically advanced stents in India.
Nathhealth, a forum comprising both Healthcare Providers and Medical Technology Companies, has strongly opposed the inclusion of Stents in NLEM.
“Medical procedures in India are among the most affordable in the world, which is a combination of cost of devices and services. Any notification should be considered only if it can bring down the overall cost of treatment for the patient without denying them the options to avail the treatment of their choice. Additionally, such notifications significantly impact the ‘Make in India’ attractiveness of the country,” said Mr. Milan Rao, chairman, medical technology forum, Nathhealth.
Himanshu Baid, the chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industry, medical technology division, said: “A price control on the nascent medical devices sector at this stage does not bode well in creating a conducive environment for FDI.”


An overview of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in Europe. "CSA is a direct partnership between a group of consumers and one or
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Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh lead in earmarking special organic farming zones" India is now looking at a "cluster" approach for promoting organic farming of crops to cater to growing domestic demand and the high export potential.

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