Impetus to healthcare sector missing in Budget

News Network
February 1, 2022

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Fresh impetus to the healthcare sector was missing in the Union Budget 2022-23 presented in the Parliament on Tuesday, healthcare sector players and experts said.

D.V.S. Soma Raju, Executive Director, SLG Hospital, feels that while the existing healthcare machinery in India stood up to the challenge posed by Covid-19 pandemic and did its best to keep a possible disaster under check, this sector needed a fresh impetus to enhance and strengthen the healthcare net across the country.

"The Finance Minister, in her Union Budget speech, announced levy of 'Health & Education cess' for the year 2022-23 but did not specify where this additional money would be utilised. I strongly feel the government must directly invest or encourage more private investments in the healthcare sector to ensure semi-urban and rural locations receive quality healthcare facilities," he said.

He was also of the view that the government must encourage digital health avenues to spread operations across the length and breadth of the country.

Dr Krishna Reddy Nallamalla President, InOrder and South Asia Regional Director, ACCESS Health International, said: "A 10 per cent increase in allocation to health is not in line with the health policy aspiration of public spending of 2.5 per cent of GDP. Increased allocation to other social sectors that have a bearing on health status of people is a saving grace."

Dr Gayatri Kamineni, COO, Kamineni Hospitals, is of the view that the Union Budget is a progressive one that holds the potential to tackle the economic challenges faced by the country in the post-Covid period.

"It is heartening to see Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's focus on sectors like health, including digital health ecosystem and mental health and wellbeing," she said.

She hailed the announcement of the National Digital Health Ecosystem. "The open platform that will consist of digital registries of health providers, health facilities, unique health identity and universal access to health facilities, will go a long way in providing quality and on-demand healthcare to the country's people."

"Realising the tremendous pressure piled on the minds of the people of India due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the FM's announcement of the National Tele Mental Health programme couldn't have come at a more opportune time," Kamineni added.

Vishal Bali, Executive Chairman, Asia Healthcare Holdings, pointed out that the Budget is silent on the increase in public expenditure on healthcare and the path to 2.5 per cent of GDP spent on healthcare which is the much-needed reform path for this sector and enablement of healthcare access to India.

"However, the focus on digital healthcare with the National Digital Health Ecosystem is a welcome move that will include digital registries of health professionals and facilities, a unique health identity, and help strengthen the foundation of universal access to health care facilities. The announcement of a national telemedicine-led mental health program with a network of 23 telemental health centers, with Nimhans serving as the nodal centres is also a step in the right direction," he said.

"However, reform in paramedical education for faster enablement of clinical/paraclinical talent is still not addressed. While the FM led Budget 21 made healthcare a central subject, Budget 22 does lack continuity of that vision," he added. 

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News Network
June 20,2022

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New Delhi, June 20: Parts of Delhi witnessed massive traffic jams on Monday as the traffic police closed off several roads in view of a call for Bharat Bandh, and the Congress' protest against the Centre's Agnipath scheme and "vendetta politics" against Rahul Gandhi.

Massive traffic jams were witnessed at the Delhi-Noida-Delhi flyway, Meerut Expressway, Anand Vihar, Sarai Kale Khan, Pragati Maidan and Delhi-Gurugram border.

Long queues of slow-moving vehicles were seen in these areas.

Some commuters took to Twitter to share their plight.

While one commuter said he had been stuck in traffic for almost 30 minutes and was running late for the office, another asked people to avoid the Anand Vihar-Sarai Kale Khan stretch.

The Delhi Traffic Police, however, said their teams have been deployed at various spots to ensure a smooth flow of traffic.

Protests against the Centre's Agnipath scheme for defence recruitment have been going on in several parts of the country. Reportedly, some groups have given a call for a Bharat Bandh in some states to protest the scheme.

The Congress had announced on Sunday that lakhs of party workers will continue peaceful protests on Monday against the "anti-youth" Agnipath scheme and Rahul Gandhi's questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the National Herald money laundering case.

The Agnipath scheme, announced on June 14, provides for the recruitment of youths in the age bracket of 17-and-half to 21 years in the armed forces for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. Later, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022.

In a series of tweets, the traffic police informed commuters about road closures.

Due to special traffic arrangements, inward movement of buses will be restricted in New Delhi beyond Gol Dak Khana Junction, Patel Chowk, Windsor Place, Teen Murti Chowk and Prithviraj Road, it said.

"Kindly avoid Gol Methi junction, Tughlak Road Junction, Claridges Junction, Q-point Junction, Sunehri Masjid Junction, Maulana Azad Road Junction & Man Singh Road Junction between 0800 hrs & 1200 hrs. Due to special arrangements, there will be heavy traffic movement on these roads," it added.

The traffic police also advised commuters to avoid Motilal Nehru Marg, Akbar Road, Janpath and Man Singh Road between 8 am and 12 pm.

The ED probe against Gandhi, who appeared before the agency for the fourth time on Monday, pertains to alleged financial irregularities in the Congress-promoted Young Indian Private Limited, which owns the National Herald newspaper.

The newspaper is published by the Associated Journals Limited (AJL) and owned by Young Indian Private Limited. 

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News Network
June 27,2022

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Mumbai, June 27: Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Monday termed the Enforcement Directorate's summons issued to him as a "conspiracy" to stop him from fighting against their political opponents, and said he will not be able to appear before the agency on Tuesday as he has to attend a meeting in Alibaug.

Raut, who is the Shiv Sena's chief spokesperson, also said that even if he is killed, he will not resort to the "Guwahati route" taken by rebel MLAs from Maharashtra. The ED has summoned Rajya Sabha member Raut on Tuesday for questioning in a money laundering probe linked to the re-development of a Mumbai 'chawl' and other related financial transactions involving his wife and friends, officials said.

The development comes as the Shiv Sena battles rebellion from a group of its MLAs, putting a question mark on the future of Maharashtra's Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government. Rebel Shiv Sena legislators, who were first taken to Surat, are now camping in Guwahati.

Raut in a tweet said, "I just came to know that the ED has summoned me. Good! There are big political developments in Maharashtra. We, Balasaheb's Shivsainiks are fighting a big battle. This is a conspiracy to stop me. Even if you behead me, I won't take the Guwahati route."

"Arrest me ! Jai Hind!" he added. In his tweet in Marathi, he also tagged BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis. Later, talking to reporters, Raut said, "I cannot go tomorrow as I have to attend a public meeting in Alibaug, and I will attend it."

The parliamentarian said he is a "Shiv Sena tiger" and the executive editor of a fierce newspaper like the (Sena mouthpiece) 'Saamana'. He asserted that such actions cannot weaken him mentally.

Raut said if there are orders from the BJP leaders, they (the probe agency sleuths) can arrest him. Sanjay Raut's brother MLA Sunil Raut claimed the ED summons were to scare the parliamentarian as he has been opposing the BJP.

In April, the ED provisionally attached assets worth more than Rs 11.15 crore of Sanjay Raut's wife Varsha Raut and two of his associates as part of this investigation. 

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News Network
June 15,2022

Bengaluru, June 15: Karnataka Higher Education minister C N Ashwath Narayan on Wednesday said examination centres will be videographed during the Common Entrance Test (CET) for professional courses in the state this year, aimed at curbing exam malpractices.

These exams are for admissions to engineering, agriculture, veterinary, pharmacy, and other courses from June 16-18. A total of 2,16,525 candidates have registered for CET-2022, and the examination will be conducted in 486 examination centres across the state, out of which 87 are located in Bengaluru and 399 are in the rest of the state, the minister's office said in a release.

On June 16, exams for biology (morning) and mathematics (afternoon) are scheduled, while physics (morning) and chemistry (afternoon) will be held on June 17.

Kannada language test will be conducted for Horanadu and Gadinadu Kannadiga candidates at selective centres on June 18.

As many as 486 observers (assistant commissioner cadre), 972 Special Invigilation Squad members, 486 custodians, and approximately 9,600 invigilators and a total of 20,483 officers/officials have been deployed to discharge the examination duties, Narayan stated.

The questions and answers in each subject paper will be printed both in English and Kannada languages. In case of any discrepancy in the English and Kannada versions, the English version will be taken as final, he said.

A total of 1,708 candidates have registered to write the Kannada language test on June 18 which will be conducted at Bidar, Belagavi, Vijaypura, Ballari, Mangaluru, and Bengaluru.

The candidates will not be allowed to wear or carry any type of wristwatch to the examination hall/room. They should not carry any tablet or mobile or calculator to the examination hall.

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