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Modi govt aims to revamp public health scheme, lower costs after criticism: Report

India’s health ministry has trimmed its cost estimates for extending its main public health programme by 25% after criticism from a federal think-tank over inefficiency and slow progress, according to government documents seen by Reuters. The new estimate of $25 billion for a three-year extension of the flagship health programme, down from an initial figure of about $33 billion, comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushes a multi-pronged agenda to revamp health services. Planned reforms include streamlining spending and bureaucracy, slashing prices of life-saving drugs and medical devices, and nudging companies…

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Govt approves phasing out of 25-year-old Foreign Investment Promotion Board

FDI applications needing govt approval to be handled by the concerned Ministries/Depts The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved phasing out of the 25-year-old Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). The FIPB is the inter-ministerial body — or a single window clearance mechanism for applications on foreign direct investment (FDI) in India in sectors under the government approval route. The move to phase out the FIPB is aimed at making India a more attractive FDI destination and increasing FDI inflows by providing greater ease of doing business and promoting the ‘Maximum Governance and Minimum…

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NEET questions in Bengali tougher than English: West Bengal govt

The West Bengal government on Monday alleged that questions set in Bengali for aspirants from the state appearing for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for MBBS and BDS were different from those set in English, and were tougher. State education minister Partha Chatterjee said that the state would write to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which conducts the examinations, in this regard. Over 11 lakh MBBS and BDS aspirants on Sunday appeared for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) at over 1,900 centres spread across the…

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LICs investment in ITC makes govt party to tobacco promotion PIL

The Bombay High Court on Thursday heard a petition alleging that PSU insurers such as LIC are going against the government’s anti-tobacco stand by investing in cigarette manufacturing company ITC. The World Health Organization tobacco treaty bars the government from investing in tobacco companies, they said. The petitioners also said that the investments make the government party to tobacco’s promotion. The six petitioners include the Managing Trustee of the Tata Trusts, Lakshman Sethuraman, Ashish Deshmukh, Member of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, Sumitra Hooda Pednekar, widow of a Maharashtra Minister who died of throat cancer, Pankaj Chaturvedi, a Surgeon…

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