Here is the digest of important newspaper articles and quiz!
Radical Change in FDI policy regime
The Union government has announced radical liberalisation of the FDI regime with the objective of providing major impetus to employment and job creation in India.
Now most of the sectors would be under automatic approval route, except a small negative list. With these changes, India is now the most open economy in the world for FDI.
Changes introduced in the policy include increase in sectoral caps, bringing more activities under automatic route and easing of conditionalities for foreign investment. These amendments seek to further simplify the regulations governing FDI in the country and make India an attractive destination for foreign investors.
1) Food Products manufactured/produced in India – 100% FDI under government approval route for trading, including through e-commerce, in respect of food products manufactured or produced in India.
2) Foreign Investment in Defence Sector up to 100% – Present FDI regime permits 49% FDI participation in the equity of a company under automatic route. FDI above 49% is permitted through Government approval on case to case basis, wherever it is likely to result in access to modern and ‘state-of-art’ technology in the country. In this regard, the following changes have inter-alia been brought in the FDI policy on this sector:
a) Foreign investment beyond 49% has now been permitted through government approval route, in cases resulting in access to modern technology in the country or for other reasons to be recorded. The condition of access to ‘state-of-art’ technology in the country has been done away with.
b) FDI limit for defence sector has also been made applicable to Manufacturing of Small Arms and Ammunitions covered under Arms Act 1959.
3) FDI policy on Broadcasting carriage services has been increased to 100% under automatic route
4) The extant FDI policy on pharmaceutical sector provides for 100% FDI under automatic route in greenfield pharma and FDI up to 100% under government approval in brownfield pharma. With the objective of promoting the development of this sector, it has been decided to permit up to 74% FDI under automatic route in brownfield pharmaceuticals and government approval route beyond 74% will continue.
5) The extant FDI policy on Airports permits 100% FDI under automatic route in Greenfield Projects and 74% FDI in Brownfield Projects under automatic route. FDI beyond 74% for Brownfield Projects is under government route. With a view to aid in modernization of the existing airports to establish a high standard and help ease the pressure on the existing airports, it has been decided to permit 100% FDI under automatic route in Brownfield Airport projects.
b) As per the present FDI policy, foreign investment up to 49% is allowed under automatic route in Scheduled Air Transport Service/ Domestic Scheduled Passenger Airline and regional Air Transport Service. It has now been decided to raise this limit to 100%, with FDI up to 49% permitted under automatic route and FDI beyond 49% through Government approval.
6) Private Security Agency – The extant policy permits 49% FDI under government approval route in Private Security Agencies. FDI up to 49% is now permitted under automatic route in this sector and FDI beyond 49% and up to 74% would be permitted with government approval route.
7) Single Brand Retail Trading – It has now been decided to relax local sourcing norms up to three years and a relaxed sourcing regime for another five years for entities undertaking Single Brand Retail Trading of products having ‘state-of-art’ and ‘cutting edge’ technology.
RBI can’t lower guard on inflation: Raghuram Rajan
RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan has decided not to seek another term as Governor of the RBI. He warned policymakers against lowering the guard on inflation, amid expectations his successor will make sharp interest rate cuts. He said India faced more than 9% inflation between 2006 and 2013. India had got used to decades of moderate to high inflation, with industrialists and governments paying negative real interest rates and the burden of hidden inflation tax falling on the middle class and the poor.
China launches world’s fastest supercomputer
China has launched a computer system that can make 93 quadrillions calculations per second making it to the top spot on the list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. The computer called Sunway TaihuLight developed by the National Research Centre of Parallel Computer Engineering and Technology (NRCPC) is built entirely using processors designed and made in China. It is intended for use in engineering and research including climate, weather, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and data analytics.
The supercomputer, which is installed at the National Supercomputing Centre in China, displaced Tianhe-2, an Intel-based Chinese supercomputer that has claimed the top spot on the past six TOP500 lists. The closely watched list is issued twice a year.
Titan, a Cray X40 system installed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is now at the third position, with 17.59 quadrillions of calculations per second.
Sequoia, an IBM BlueGene/Q system installed at DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Fujitsu’s K computer installed at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) in Japan are at the fourth and fifth positions respectively.
India’s SahasraT (SERC – Cray XC40) and Aaditya (iDataPlex DX360M4) are placed 96th and 119th on the list with 11 supercomputers in top 500. Although some of them have been purchased from outside India.
New drugs ineffective to crack antibiotic resistance in India
Two new drug combinations, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their efficacy in treating infections resistant to even third-generation antibiotics — carbapenems — have been found to have limited efficacy in India.
Ceftazidime/avibactum and ceftolozane/tazobactum approved by FDA in February 2015 and December 2014 respectively were given to Christian Medical College (CMC) Vellore to check the response to them in India, as part of a global efficacy study before they are launched in the market.
The drugs have been approved by the FDA based on their study in America that found the drugs to be effective. But that may not apply to India where it will have limited effect. If the drugs work on 10 cases in the US, they will work on three or four cases in India.
Doctors said the likelihood of death is higher in critically ill patients or those with suppressed immunity (following chemotherapy or organ transplants) if they acquire drug-resistant infections.
The enzyme that makes the bacteria resistant to the strongest antibiotics are New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase-1 (NDM-1) and ‘Oxa-48-like-carbapenemase’. This is different from the resistance mechanism seen in the U.S. where the enzyme that makes the bacteria resistant to antibiotics is often KPC — Klebsiella Pneumoniae Carbapenemase. So while the combination drugs worked on KPC, they were not strong enough against the NDM-1 and Oxa-48-like carbapenemase.
India’s drug-resistance problem is a global concern. The U.S. government backed Global Health Security Agenda pumped in $8 million to map anti-microbial resistance and build capacities to tackle it better.
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