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NRAI gets highest WHO ratings for vaccine regulations

India’s vaccine regulatory body NRAI (National Regulatory Authority of India) was given the maximum ratings by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for vaccine regulations.

The ratings were given by WHO after completing the assessment of the status of the NRAI system against WHO NRA Global Benchmarking Tool and measured the maturity of the system in India.

Need for assessment

India is one of the main players in the pharmaceutical industry worldwide and often is referred as pharmacy of the world. India, as a large vaccine producing country, is currently supplying several vaccines to the United Nations agencies (UNICEF, WHO and PAHO). A fully functional NRAI is a pre-requisite for WHO prequalification of vaccines. One of the requirements to become eligible and retain prequalification status is to get assessed.

Key Facts
  • The assessment was done in respect of 9 different functionalities by a WHO team comprising lead experts in different areas from WHO Headquarters Geneva, WHO India Country Office, experts from several countries.
  • Based on it, NRAI was declared functional with a maturity level of 4 which is highest level as per currently evolved definitions in respect of 5 functions, and maturity level 3 in respect of 4 functions.
  • Maturity level 4 indicates good results and sustained improvement trends, while level 3 reflects systematic process based approach, early stage of systematic improvements, data availability regarding conformance to objectives and existence of improvement trends.
  • The result reflects growing maturity of NRAI emanating from a concerted effort by Government in consultation with WHO to build capacity and capability of NRAI over last several years.

About National Regulatory Authority of India (NRAI)

NRAI comprises the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), State Drug Regulatory Authorities, Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) and Pharmaco-vigilance Programme of India (PvPI) structures at the Central and States levels.

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India ranks 143rd in 2017 Economic Freedom Index

India was ranked 143rd out of 186 economies in the annual Index of Economic Freedom 2017 that measures the degree of economic freedom in the countries of the world.

The index was released by top US based Think Tank, The Heritage Foundation. In this edition, India’s overall score was 52.6 points, 3.6 points less than scored in 2016 when it was ranked 123rd.

How countries are ranked?
  • The Index of Economic Freedom ranks countries based on score ranging 0 to 100, with 0 being the least free and 100 the most free.
  • The score is based on ten factors of economic freedom, separated into four categories, using statistics from international organizations like World Bank, IMF, Economist Intelligence Unit and Transparency International.
  • Based on the score, countries are grouped in 5 different categories, Free (80–100), Mostly Free (70.0–79.9), Moderately Free (60.0–69.9), Mostly Unfree (50.0–59.9) and Repressed (0–49.9).
Key Highlights of 2017 Economic Freedom Index
  • Top 5 countries in this edition of index are Hong Kong (1st), Singapore (2nd) and New Zealand (3rd), Switzerland (4th) and Austria (5th).
  • India with 52.6 points score was ranked 143rd. It was placed in the category of “Mostly Unfree” Economies (points ranging from 50.0-59.9).
  • India’s neighbours, Nepal (125th), Sri Lanka (112th), Pakistan (141st), Bhutan (107th), and Bangladesh (128th) have surpassed India. Only Afghanistan (163rd) and Maldives (157th) were ranked below India.
  • China with a score of 57.4 points ranked 111th which is 5.4 points above 2016 score. United States was ranked 17th with a score of 75.1 points.
  • The world average score was 60.9, highest recorded in the 23-year history of the index. 49 countries majority of developing countries and also Norway and Sweden have achieved their highest-ever index scores.
  • India related facts: India’s progress on market-oriented reforms has been uneven. India has combination of advance technology and manufacturing sectors of developed world as well as traditional sectors, characteristic of a lesser developed economy.
  • Extreme wealth and poverty coexist in India as it both modernises rapidly and struggles to find paths to inclusive development for its large population.
  • India is a significant force in world trade, but underdeveloped infrastructure, corruption and poor management of public finance undermines its overall development.
  • Praised efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving a new energy and strength to Indian Foreign Policy. PM has strengthened India’s bilateral ties with US particularly in defence cooperation.

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Union Cabinet approves merger of SBI, 5 associate banks

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the merger of State Bank of India (SBI) with five of its associate/subsidiary banks.

These five subsidiary banks are State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore.

The Union Cabinet also approved the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to repeal the State Bank of India (Subsidiary Banks) Act, 1959 and the State Bank of Hyderabad Act, 1956. 

Key Facts
  • The acquisition under Section 35 of the SBI Act, 1955 will result in the creation of a stronger merged entity. It will minimize vulnerability faced by subsidiary banks to any geographic concentration risks.
  • It will improve operational efficiency and economies of scale resulting into in improved risk management and unified treasury operations. Existing customers of associate banks will benefit from SBI’s global network.
  • The merger will lead to better management of high value credit exposures through focused monitoring and control over cash flows rather than separate monitoring by six different banks.
  • The merger will also result in recurring savings, estimated at more than Rs. 1,000 crore in first year, because of reduced cost of funds and enhanced operational efficiency.
Comment

The acquisition of subsidiary banks of SBI is considered an important step towards strengthening the banking sector through consolidation of public sector banks (PSBs). It is in pursuance of the Indradhanush action plan of the Central Government. In 2015, SBI was ranked 52 in the world in terms of assets, however the merger will allow its entry un top 50. The merger does not include Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) and its proposal is still under consideration.

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