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20 and 21 April 2024 Daily Current Affairs

IRDAI Removes Age Limit for Health Insurance


IRDAI Raises Age Limit for Health Insurance:-


The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has removed the age limit for purchasing health insurance policies, effective from April 1, 2024. This move aims to bring extended health benefits to senior citizens and cater to diverse demographics.


Focus on Senior Citizens

The IRDAI directive mandates health insurance providers to develop specialized policies for senior citizens and establish dedicated channels for addressing their claims and grievances. This ensures better accessibility and affordability of healthcare coverage for all age groups.


Benefits for All Age Groups

This change will benefit people in need of medical insurance, including children, expecting mothers, and senior citizens. It promotes a more inclusive healthcare ecosystem by encouraging companies to develop tailored products for specific age-related needs.


Industry Response

Industry leaders have welcomed this move as a significant step towards a healthier life for many. It serves the public interest and promotes the well-being of citizens by providing comprehensive insurance coverage.


What is Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) ?


The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) is an autonomous and statutory body which is responsible for managing and regulating insurance and re-insurance industry in India.

 

Irdai is a 10-member body- a chairman, five full-time members and four part-time members. It was constituted under an Act of Parliament in 1999 and the agency's headquarters is in Hyderabad.


History of India’s insurance industry

 

In I950, the Government of India nationalised India’s insurance industry and established Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India. In the 1990s, the government decided to open up the insurance sector to private players. A committee was set up to propose reforms and the Irdai was formed.

 

In 2000, when the market was opened up, foreign firms were allowed to buy of up to 26 per cent stake in Indian insurance companies. Later, foreign direct investment in the insurance sector was capped at 49 per cent. This was finally changed to 100% in Budget 2020.

 

The role of Irdai

 

Insurance is a growing sector in India. According to media reports, India’s life insurance companies saw 11.36 per cent growth in collective premium income to Rs 48.26 trillion or $684.64 billion during the financial year ended March 2020.

 

Irdai, therefore, has many roles. First, it has to protect the interests of insurance policy holders and ensure that they are treated in a just manner. It also has to monitor policy issuers to ensure that the common man’s interests are not subverted.


2. Stream Revived in Kerala After Forest Department Initiative

  • A stream in a tribal settlement in Kerala that had been inactive for 30 years has been revived thanks to a forest department eco-restoration project.

  • The project involved removing invasive species like Acacia mearnsii (black wattle) and allowing native grasses to flourish.

  • The rejuvenated stream is now flowing at a rate of 6.5 liters per minute even during the hot summer.

  • The project has also led to an increase in wildlife activity in the area.


Black wattle (Acacia mearnsii) is a fast-growing evergreen tree native to southeastern Australia. It is known for its yellow flowers and feathery foliage.


Harmful Impacts of Black Wattle: -


  • Invasive species: Black wattle is a prolific seeder and can quickly outcompete native plants for resources like water and sunlight. This disrupts the ecological balance and reduces biodiversity.

  • Water depletion: Black wattle trees consume a lot of water, which can strain water resources in drier regions.

  • Allelopathy: Black wattle releases chemicals that can inhibit the germination and growth of other plants.


3. China Criticizes AUKUS Security Pact and Seeks Influence in Pacific


Accusations Against AUKUS

  • China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi criticizes AUKUS nations (US, UK, Australia)formed in 2021, for supplying nuclear-powered submarines to Australia.

  • He claims this action violates the South Pacific's nuclear weapons ban treaty and risks nuclear proliferation.

China's Strategic Interests

  • China seeks to weaken US and Australian influence in the resource-rich Pacific Islands, which hold strategic importance.

  • Papua New Guinea, despite receiving most aid from Australia, is increasingly targeted for Chinese investment.

AUKUS Collaboration and Chinese Response

  • AUKUS nations considering cooperation with Japan on military technology like AI and drones further angers China.

  • China's media spreads rumors about US interference in Solomon Islands elections, which the US denies.

Papua New Guinea's Position

  • Papua New Guinea welcomes China's Foreign Minister and acknowledges China as a vital partner.


4. The Glycemic Index (GI) and Cardiovascular Disease


What is the Glycemic Index?

  • Introduced in 1981 by Prof. David Jenkins of the University of Toronto.

  • Measures a food's ability to raise blood sugar levels compared to glucose (assigned a GI of 100).

  • GI is classified as low (less than 55), medium (56-69), and high (over 70).


GI and Diet Quality

  • Some believe high GI diets are detrimental, while low GI diets are beneficial.

  • Others argue GI is too simplistic, neglecting protein and fat quality.


New Evidence on GI and Cardiovascular Disease

  • The PURE study investigated the link between GI/GL and cardiovascular disease.

  • The study found diets with high GI were associated with increased cardiovascular events across ethnicities.

  • This suggests GI may be important beyond just diabetes control.


Importance for India

  • High-GI white rice and wheat are staples in Indian diets, leading to high GL.

  • Reducing dietary GI/GL can help prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which occurs younger in India.


Examples of Low and High GI Foods

  • Low GI: brown rice, oats, legumes, fruits (apple, guava), vegetables, paneer, soy, nuts, seeds.

  • High GI: sugar, sweets, white rice, refined flour, potato, white bread, sugary drinks, jaggery, cornflakes, cookies.


Dietary Changes for Heart Health

  • Replacing high-GI ("bad") carbs with low-GI ("good") carbs.

  • Combining a low-GI diet with regular exercise can help reduce cardiovascular disease risk.


5. Atrial Fibrillation


The lifetime risk of atrial Fibrillation (a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate) has increased from one in four to one in three over the past two decades.


6. Rat Poison Induced Liver Failure in Tamil Nadu


Problem

  • Rat poison containing yellow phosphorus is causing liver toxicity and death in Tamil Nadu.

  • In 2019, an estimated 1584 cases and 554 deaths occurred in just six months.


New Treatment

  • Plasma exchange, a cheaper alternative to liver transplantation, has been successfully used to treat patients.

  • This method removes the patient's plasma and replaces it with healthy plasma from donors.

  • In 2022-2023, 1237 patients were treated with plasma exchange, with a 63.9% survival rate.


How it Works

  • Plasma exchange may dampen the overactive immune response caused by rat poison ingestion.

  • Earlier initiation of treatment has shown to improve survival rates.


Previous Treatment

  • Liver transplantation was the only option, but it's expensive and requires a donor.


Additional Information

  • Tamil Nadu has restricted access to yellow phosphorus rodenticides.

  • Regular dialysis is not effective for treating acute liver failure from rat poison.

  • Plasma exchange costs significantly less than liver transplantation.


7. Green Credit Programme (GCP)

What is it?

  • An initiative by the Indian government to incentivize environmental conservation.

  • Individuals, organizations, and companies can earn "green credits" for activities like afforestation, water conservation, and air pollution reduction.

  • Credits can be traded on a platform managed by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE).

How does afforestation work?

  • Companies, organizations, and individuals can pay for afforestation projects in degraded forest land.

  • The actual planting is done by state forest departments.

  • Two years after planting and ICFRE evaluation, each planted tree becomes one "green credit."

Controversy

  • Critics argue that GCP commodifies environmental conservation.

  • Companies might use credits to avoid compensatory afforestation requirements for legal forest diversions.

  • Planting trees alone might not restore ecosystems effectively and could promote invasive species.

  • Carbon storage credits from trees might be based on unclear calculations.

Government Response

  • Latest guidelines prioritize ecosystem restoration over just planting trees.

  • States will decide the minimum number of trees/plants needed for a specific landscape.

  • Preference will be given to planting indigenous species.

  • GCP is currently a pilot project, and details like credit value of shrubs/grasses are being worked out.

  • Companies cannot use credits to entirely offset compensatory afforestation obligations.


8. IMF's Global Financial Stability Report Warns of Risks to Global Financial System


The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) latest Global Financial Stability Report, warns about several risks to the global financial system. These include:


Inflation and Investor Enthusiasm

  • The IMF worries investor optimism about slowing inflation is premature.

  • Central banks may not lower interest rates as soon as investors expect.

  • This could lead to a sharp correction in asset prices.


Impact on Emerging Markets (like India)

  • A shift in investor sentiment could cause capital outflow from emerging markets.

  • This could put pressure on currencies like the Indian rupee.

  • The RBI might raise interest rates to defend the rupee, slowing economic growth.


Risks of the Private Credit Market

  • The IMF is concerned about the growing unregulated private credit market.

  • Borrowers in this market may not be financially sound.

  • Less transparency in this market makes it hard to assess risks.


India's Private Credit Market

  • India has a small private credit market with Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs).

  • Regulators are increasing scrutiny over these funds.






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