Current News - National - Plan/Policy

National Policy and Scheme for Pharma-MedTech Innovation

On 26th September, 2023, the Union Government introduced the National Policy on Research and Development and Innovation in Pharma-MedTech Sector in India, alongside the Scheme for promoting Research and Innovation in the same sector.

Key Points

  • Historic Day for Pharma & MedTech: Health Minister emphasizes the need to shift from a cost-based to innovation-based industry in Pharma & MedTech, marking a significant moment in India's journey toward self-reliance.
  • A Transformative Stage: The new scheme aims to position India as a high-volume, high-value player in the global pharmaceutical market, focusing on quality, accessibility, and affordability.
  • Key Highlights of National Policy on Research and Development: Focus on creating a regulatory environment conducive to innovation and research, expanding beyond safety and quality.
  • Incentives for private and public investment in innovation through fiscal and non-fiscal measures.
  • Establishment of an enabling ecosystem to support innovation and cross-sectoral research.
  • Key Highlights of Promotion of Research and Innovation in Pharma MedTech Sector (PRIP): Aimed at transforming the pharmaceutical sector by strengthening research infrastructure.
  • Encourages industry-academia collaborations in priority areas, including New Chemical Entities, Complex generics, medical devices, stem cell therapy, orphan drugs, and Anti-microbial resistance.
  • Development of research infrastructure and promotion of industry-academia linkages for R&D.

Benefits of PRIP Scheme

  • Development of a world-class research atmosphere at NIPERs and other institutes.
  • Promotion of industry-academia collaborations, fostering innovation.
  • Focus on priority areas to bolster India's position in the global pharmaceutical market.
  • Acceleration of revenue growth and job creation in the pharmaceutical sector.
  • Development of affordable healthcare solutions, reducing the healthcare burden.

BIS Establishes Standard Clubs in Schools and Colleges

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), India's National Standards Body, has recently announced the establishment of 6467 Standard Clubs in schools and colleges nationwide.

These clubs aim to educate young members of society about the significance of standards in enhancing quality of life.

Key Points

  • Educating the Future: BIS has taken a forward-looking initiative by creating Standards Clubs in schools and colleges across India.
  • This endeavour aims to cultivate an understanding of the paramount importance of quality, standards, and scientific thinking in the minds of young students.
  • Quality for Economic Development: Quality consciousness, rooted in the principles of standardization, is a crucial pillar for accelerating economic development.
  • BIS seeks to nurture an appreciation for quality, standards, and standardization in students, with the belief that this knowledge can transform society.
  • Impactful Initiative: Launched in 2021, the Standards Clubs initiative has already made a substantial impact by establishing 6,467 clubs in educational institutions across the country.
  • These clubs have attracted over 1.7 lakh enthusiastic students from science backgrounds, mentored by dedicated science teachers who receive specialized training from BIS.
  • Variety of Activities: Student members of these Standards Clubs engage in a wide range of activities, including standards writing competitions, quizzes, debates, essay writing, poster making, and visits to laboratories and industrial units.
  • Creating Inspiring Learning Spaces: BIS offers financial support of up to Rs. 1,00,000 to establish 'Manak Kaksha' (Innovation Rooms) in government institutions where Standards Clubs are formed.
  • These rooms are designed to provide an engaging learning environment with amenities like smart TVs, audio-video systems, proper illumination, and wall decorations.

Third Phase of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Launched

On 13th September, 2023, the Union Government launched the third phase of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY).

Key Points

  • Extension of the Ujjwala Scheme: The third phase of the Ujjwala scheme will grant 7.5 million underprivileged households free liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections until March 31, 2026.
  • Benefits: Under this scheme, beneficiaries will receive deposit-free gas connections, including a stove, and the first 14.2kg cylinder at no cost.
  • Financial Aspects: The cost of one such connection, amounting to Rs. 2,200, will initially be borne by state-run oil marketing companies. The government will later reimburse these expenses. The estimated cost of the entire scheme is Rs. 1,650 crore.
  • Inclusivity in the Scheme: The Ujjwala scheme's extension now includes eligible households that lack LPG connections for various reasons, such as the formation of new nuclear families.


  • The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), also known as Ujjwala 1.0, was launched by the Prime Minister on May 1, 2016, in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh.
  • It aimed to provide clean cooking fuel to around 80 million impoverished households across India. The initial target was met in September 2019.
  • Subsequently, PMUY phase-2, or Ujjwala 2.0, began in August 2021 from Mahoba district in Uttar Pradesh, with an initial goal of 10 million connections, which was achieved by January 2022.
  • Additional 6 million connections were released under Ujjwala 2.0 until December 2022. The government has now introduced the third phase of the scheme.


  • Providing clean cooking fuel, specifically LPG, to rural and deprived households.
  • Empowerment of women and safeguarding their health.
  • Reducing deaths in India attributed to unclean cooking fuels.
  • Preventing young children from suffering acute respiratory illnesses caused by indoor air pollution due to the combustion of fossil fuels.

Benefits of PMUY

  • Eligible beneficiaries are provided with a free LPG connection, promoting the use of clean cooking fuel.
  • Subsidies are extended to beneficiaries on the first six refills of 14.2 kg cylinders or eight refills of 5 kg cylinders, reducing their financial burden.
  • Beneficiaries have the option to utilize an EMI facility to cover the costs of the stove and the initial refill.
  • Enrolling in the PAHAL scheme enables beneficiaries to receive subsidy amounts directly in their bank accounts, streamlining the process for greater convenience and financial relief.

Concerns Surrounding PMUY

Limited Refill Consumption

  • Data indicates that, during 2022-23, the average PMUY beneficiary refilled fewer than four LPG cylinders.
  • Surprisingly, one in four PMUY beneficiaries either did not utilize any LPG cylinders or only obtained one refill within the same period.
  • In contrast, non-PMUY households exhibited significantly higher LPG cylinder consumption, with each household averaging 6.67 refills. This highlights a substantial consumption gap.

Rising LPG Cylinder Prices

  • Even with subsidies, the substantial increase in LPG cylinder prices has made them less affordable for rural and deprived households.
  • The high costs associated with LPG may discourage beneficiaries from utilizing it for cooking, undermining the scheme's core objectives.

Subsidy Expenditure

  • Between January 2018 and March 2023, rates for subsidised LPG cylinders surged by 82%, soaring from Rs. 495.64 in January 2018 to Rs. 903 in March 2023.
  • Subsidy amounts are determined based on the variance between the Retail Selling Price (RSP) and the government's subsidised cost.

International Factors Affecting LPG Prices

  • Various international factors contribute to the final LPG prices, encompassing import charges, bottling expenses, freight costs, delivery charges, GST, and distributor commissions. These factors collectively influence the affordability of LPG for beneficiaries.

TRAI Initiates Consultation on Digital Inclusion to Bridge Access Gaps

On 14th September, 2023, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released a Consultation Paper on ‘Digital Inclusion in the Era of Emerging Technologies’, inviting input from stakeholders.

Key Points

  • Robust Policy Framework Needed: TRAI underscores the need for a robust policy framework and collaborative efforts among stakeholders to facilitate individuals' participation in digital economic activities, ensuring an inclusive digital landscape.
  • India's Digital Transformation: Government initiatives like Digital India, National Digital Communications Policy 2018, National Broadband Mission 2019, BharatNet, Common Service Centres (CSCs), and the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) have played pivotal roles in expanding connectivity and promoting digital inclusion nationwide.
  • Success of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI): Initiatives like the Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) trinity have facilitated transparent direct benefit transfers to the underserved's bank accounts.
  • UPI (Unified Payments Interface) has empowered users to conveniently transfer money in real-time between bank accounts.
  • Addressing Disparities: Despite these achievements, disparities in internet broadband penetration and effective usage persist across different sections of society and regions.
  • Concerns revolve around accessibility, affordability, and safe usage of broadband services and applications, particularly by marginalized communities, women, girls, and micro or small entrepreneurs in remote areas.
  • Challenges with Emerging Technologies: The rapid advancement of technologies like 5G, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning, along with associated costs, can exacerbate the digital divide, especially for marginalized communities and underserved regions.
  • Unequal access to infrastructure, limited digital literacy, and affordability challenges may hinder the equitable distribution and utilization of these emerging technologies.

MeitY Seeks Public Input on Draft National Strategy for Robotics (NSR)

Recently, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) called for public comments and stakeholder input on the draft "National Strategy for Robotics" (NSR) by October 31.

Key Points:

  • Draft NSR Aims to Elevate India's Robotics Status by 2030: The draft NSR outlines a comprehensive policy framework geared towards making India a global leader in robotics by 2030, aligning with the Make in India 2.0 initiative's goals.
  • Four Core Sectors Identified for Robotics Integration: The draft prioritizes robotics automation in manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare, and national security sectors, recognizing their critical importance.
  • Fiscal and Non-Fiscal Interventions to Foster Innovation: The draft proposes financial support and incentives for robotics startups and export promotion, aiming to boost innovation in the field.
  • Creation of Regulatory Framework and Robotics Innovation Unit (RIU): The NSR suggests establishing a robust regulatory framework, led by an independent entity, the Robotics Innovation Unit (RIU), to ensure compliance and oversight.
  • Centres of Excellence (CoEs) for Robotics Research: The proposal includes the establishment of CoEs in both foundational and applied research, encouraging private sector collaboration for prototyping and commercialization.
  • Advisory Support, Higher Education Engagement, and Industrial Zones: The draft outlines plan to provide guidance to startups, leverage research capabilities of universities, and create dedicated robotics industrial zones.
  • Challenges and Import Dependence: The draft highlights challenges like high import dependence, costly hardware components, and limited R&D investments hindering the growth of the robotics ecosystem in India.

President Virtually Launches Ayushman Bhav Campaign and Portal

On 13th September, 2023, Indian President conducted the virtual launch of the Ayushman Bhav campaign and the Ayushman Bhava portal from the Raj Bhavan in Gandhinagar, emphasizing its significance in advancing Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and expanding healthcare accessibility and affordability, especially for underserved communities.

Key Points:

  • A Historic Leap towards UHC: This initiative aims to strengthen the accessibility and affordability of healthcare services, particularly for marginalized populations.
  • Commitment to Sustainable Development Goals: Government is committed to achieve sustainable development goals and commended the Seva Pakwada initiative, scheduled from September 17 to October 2. This initiative aims to ensure that every individual receives essential health services.
  • Expanding Access at Grassroots Levels: There are three components of Ayushman Bhav: Ayushman - Apke Dwar 3.0, Ayushman Melas at Health and Wellness Centres (HWC) and Community Health Clinics (CHC), and Ayushman Sabhas in every village and panchayat.
  • These components are expected to expedite healthcare access at the grassroots level, contributing to the creation of a healthier nation.

Draft Guidelines to Prevent and Regulate Dark Patterns in Digital Design Interfaces

On 7th September, 2023, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs announced that the government is inviting public comments on its draft guidelines aimed at preventing and regulating dark patterns, which are deceptive digital design interfaces employed to influence customer behaviour.

Key Points:

  • Definition of Dark Patterns: The guidelines define dark patterns as practices or deceptive design patterns within user interfaces and user experiences across platforms.
  • These patterns are intended to mislead or manipulate users into actions they did not originally intend to take.
  • Such actions can subvert consumer autonomy, decision-making, or choice, potentially leading to misleading advertising, unfair trade practices, or violations of consumer rights.
  • Objective: The primary objective of these guidelines is to identify and regulate practices that manipulate or alter consumer choices through deceptive or misleading techniques and manipulated web designs or user interfaces.

Identification of Dark Patterns

  • False Urgency: Creating a false sense of urgency or scarcity to prompt immediate purchases.
  • Basket Sneaking: Adding extra items or services to a user's shopping cart during checkout without their consent.
  • Confirm Shaming: Employing tactics like fear, shame, ridicule, or guilt to encourage purchases.
  • Forced Action: Compelling users to take actions requiring additional purchases or subscriptions to obtain the desired product or service.
  • Subscription Trap: Implementing practices that make cancelling a paid subscription difficult or complex.
  • Interface Interference: Manipulating design elements to highlight certain information while obscuring relevant information to mislead users.
  • Bait and Switch: Advertising one outcome but delivering a different one.
  • Drip Pricing: Concealing elements of prices or revealing them subtly within the user experience.
  • Disguised Advertisement: Masking advertisements as different types of content, such as user-generated content or news articles.
  • Nagging: Overwhelming users with excessive requests, information, options, or interruptions unrelated to their intended purchases.
  • Consumer Protection and Regulation: These guidelines seek to regulate practices that rely on deceptive or misleading techniques to influence consumer decisions, ultimately maintaining fairness in digital interactions and transactions.

Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission's Microsite Project

Recently, the National Health Authority (NHA) declared that Aizawl, the capital city of Mizoram, has achieved a milestone by becoming the inaugural state in India to roll out the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission’s (ABDM) microsite initiative.

Key Points:

  • Pioneering Digital Healthcare Outreach: NHA has recently introduced the concept of microsites as part of its digital health mission scheme.
  • These microsites are designated geographical regions where focused efforts are directed towards enlisting small and medium scale private healthcare providers, fostering digital health adoption.
  • Mizoram's Achievement: The project aims to empower healthcare establishments, including private clinics, small hospitals, and laboratories, with ABDM-enabled capabilities to deliver digital health services to patients.
  • Boosting Nationwide Digitization: The concept of microsites is designed to significantly drive the digitization of healthcare services across India, as per NHA's vision.
  • Collaborative Implementation: Microsite implementation is primarily undertaken by the state Mission Directors of ABDM, with NHA providing financial resources and comprehensive guidance.
  • An interfacing agency operates on the ground, raising awareness about ABDM benefits and facilitating the integration of healthcare providers into the mission's core registries.
  • Enhanced Patient Experience: Patients can link health records generated at these facilities with their Ayushman Bharat Health Accounts (ABHAs).
  • They can view and share these records through ABDM-enabled Personal Health Record (PHR) applications on their mobile devices.

New Guidelines for Professional Conduct of Doctors in India

In a recent development, the National Medical Commission (NMC), the apex regulator, has issued comprehensive guidelines for the professional conduct of registered doctors in modern medicine. These guidelines encompass various aspects of medical practice, from treatment to online presence.

Key Points:

  • Social Media Etiquette for Doctors: For the first time, the guidelines provide an 11-point framework for doctors using social media.
  • Sharing of Information: It emphasizes that while doctors can share information online, it should be accurate and not misleading.
  • Privacy Issues: They are cautioned against revealing patient details or discussing treatment specifics on social media platforms to ensure patient privacy.
  • Prescriptions and Generic Medicines: The guidelines mandate doctors to write legible prescriptions in capital letters and prescribe generic medicines, except for cases with narrow therapeutic index.
  • This measure aims to promote affordable healthcare while ensuring the patient's well-being. The guidelines also encourage the use of approved, rational combinations of drugs.
  • Right to Refuse Treatment and Patient Conduct: Doctors are granted the right to refuse treatment to abusive, unruly, or violent patients or their relatives.
  • In such cases, they are advised to document and report the behaviour, and the patient should be referred elsewhere.
  • No Discrimination: The guidelines prohibit doctors from refusing treatment based on religious beliefs and stress the importance of providing treatment information and estimated costs to patients.
  • Continuous Professional Development (CPD): The guidelines make CPD mandatory, requiring doctors to continue learning throughout their active years.
  • Doctors must accumulate 30 credit points in their relevant fields every five years.
  • This ongoing learning ensures doctors stay updated with evolving medical practices and technologies.
  • Conferences and Industry Sponsorship: While CPD is encouraged, the guidelines restrict sponsorship of educational activities or conferences by the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Maintaining Integrity: Doctors are discouraged from accepting gifts, hospitality, or monetary incentives from pharmaceutical or medical device companies. This move aims to prevent any undue influence on medical decisions and maintain the integrity of medical practice.

National Health Authority Extends Digital Health Incentives Scheme (DHIS)

Recently, the National Health Authority (NHA) has announced an extension of the Digital Health Incentives Scheme (DHIS) until December 31, 2023, as part of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM).

Key Points:

  • Extension of DHIS: This scheme provides incentives to healthcare facilities, diagnostic labs, and digital health solution providers for embracing transformative digitization within the ABDM framework.
  • Impactful Catalyst: Launched on January 1, 2023, DHIS has significantly accelerated the integration of digital health technologies and practices across the country.
  • Enhancing Stakeholder Benefits: Due to positive feedback and notable impact, the scheme's extension aims to enable more stakeholders to avail the financial incentives.
  • CEO's Perspective: The CEO of NHA emphasizes the extension's commitment to a digitally inclusive healthcare ecosystem and underscores the government's dedication to accessible and efficient healthcare services.
  • Incentive Structure: Eligible health facilities and digital solutions companies can earn incentives of up to Rs. 4 crores based on the creation and linkage of digital health records to Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) numbers.
  • Eligibility Criteria: Health facilities and Digital Solution Companies registered under ABDM's Health Facility Registry (HFR) and meeting specified criteria can avail the incentives.
  • Positive Impact: The DHIS advantages for Digital Solution Companies (DSCs) are anticipated to lead to cost reductions and support healthcare facilities in covering digitization costs.
  • Current Status: Over 1205 health facilities, including 567 public and 638 private hospitals and clinics, have registered under DHIS. Among the 25 digital solution companies, 22 are from the private sector.
  • Successful Recipients: Notable recipients of DHIS incentives include government hospitals like AIIMS Delhi, AIIMS Raipur, and private hospitals like KGMU, Lucknow.
  • Ongoing Evaluation: NHA continually monitors and evaluates DHIS's effectiveness for ABDM adoption and makes necessary changes as required.
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