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Fiscal consolidation and moderate inflation are definite pluses for India, but graft, uncertain policies and their weak execution remain key constraints, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
In an e-mail interview with IANS, Marie Diron, senior vice president for the Sovereign Risk Group, said the agency’s assessment of India is based on its own evaluation, as also that of the World Bank on government’s effectiveness, rule of law and inflation control. This is what she said:
“India’s score are in the moderate range, reflecting checks and balances between the executive, legislature and judiciary, and increasing fiscal and monetary policy transparency,” she said.
“However, corruption, policy uncertainties and slow implementation have constrained our assessment of India’s institutional strength.”
Moody’s also expected fiscal consolidation to be gradual — as a result of specific measures on which a consensus can be reached, rather than broad-ranging fiscal strategies. So high levels of government debt, at around 65 percent of GDP, will continue to be a constraint on India’s rating.
“Besides the implications of fiscal policy for the government debt burden, the broad macroeconomic policy context has become more favourable to sustain growth. The government’s repeated commitment to fiscal consolidation contributes to maintaining inflation at moderate level.”
On the external sector, Diron said the impact on India of China’s rebalancing, the general and economic developments there will be mainly indirect. This because the share of India’s exports to China is much lower — around 3.7 percent — than for some other economies in the region.
“As a result, India would be affected by a slowdown in Chinese demand mainly to the extent that the global economy would be affected. Moreover, if such a slowdown were to lead to renewed falls in commodity prices, India as an importer of commodities would benefit,” Diron said.
“Further, China’s rebalancing may contribute to global volatility in capital flows. However, with narrower current account deficit financed by foreign direct investment, India is less vulnerable to a shift in investor sentiment and global capital flows than it would have been few years ago.”
Related article:Economic conditions of India remains weaker than peers: Moody
Diron’s assessment comes against the backdrop of the caution by Moody’s Investors Service that a prolonged worsening in asset quality of state-run banks was the main threat to India’s sovereign credit profile, while suggesting that the government must recapitalise them with more money.
Moody’s, which has given for India a credit rating at ‘Baa3’ — or just a level above the junk category — had said on Wednesday that it would consider a rating upgrade after 12-18 months, depending on improvement in macroeconomic parameters in India.
Nonetheless, its outlook on the country remained positive.
“Our positive outlook on India’s rating is based on our expectations of continued but gradual policy efforts to reduce the sovereign risks posed by high fiscal deficits, volatile inflation and weak bank balance sheets.” (IANS)
A cheap antidepressant reduced the need for hospitalization among high-risk adults with COVID-19 in a study that was looking for existing drugs that could be repurposed to treat coronavirus.
Researchers tested the pill used for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder because it was known to reduce inflammation and looked promising in smaller studies.
They've shared the results with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which publishes treatment guidelines, and they hope for a World Health Organization recommendation.
"If WHO recommends this, you will see it widely taken up," said study co-author Dr. Edward Mills of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, adding that many poor nations have the drug readily available. "We hope it will lead to a lot of lives saved."
The pill, called fluvoxamine, would cost $4 for a course of COVID-19 treatment. By comparison, antibody IV treatments cost about $2,000 and Merck's experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19 is about $700 per course. Some experts predict various treatments eventually will be used in combination to fight the coronavirus.
Researchers tested the antidepressant in nearly 1,500 Brazilians recently infected with coronavirus who were at risk of severe illness because of other health problems, such as diabetes. About half took the antidepressant at home for 10 days, the rest got dummy pills. They were tracked for four weeks to see who landed in the hospital or spent extended time in an emergency room when hospitals were full.
In the group that took the drug, 11% needed hospitalization or an extended ER stay, compared to 16% of those on dummy pills.
The results, published Wednesday in the journal Lancet Global Health, were so strong that independent experts monitoring the study recommended stopping it early because the results were clear.
Questions remain about the best dosing, whether lower risk patients might also benefit and whether the pill should be combined with other treatments.
The larger project looked at eight existing drugs to see if they could work against the pandemic virus. The project is still testing a hepatitis drug, but all the others — including metformin, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin — haven't panned out.
The cheap generic and Merck's COVID-19 pill work in different ways and "may be complementary," said Dr. Paul Sax of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the study. Earlier this month, Merck asked regulators in the U.S. and Europe to authorize its antiviral pill. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Antidepressant, Early COVID, Pandemic, Testing project
Even one of the world's most powerful tech CEOs can forget to unmute himself during a video chat. For Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, one such embarrassing moment came as he began the chat with Kermit The Frog, a character from Muppets, on Google Meet recently. Sharing the two-minute video clip on Twitter on Wednesday, Pichai said: "Always remember to unmute thanks @KermitTheFrog for joining us on @YouTube #DearEarth and chatting about some of our shared interests."
The video was part of YouTube's "Dear Earth" series which aims to address climate challenges. "Hi there, Sundar," said Kermit, a Muppet character created in 1955, to which, Pichai replied but he was inaudible as he was on mute. "Sundar, I think you are on mute. Wow, can't believe I am talking to the CEO of Google, and he is on mute," Kermit said.
At that point, Pichai realised he was on mute. "Sorry, Kermit. I was on mute, and I've done it a few times this year like everyone else. I'm a huge fan of you and the muppets," replied the Google CEO. The video chat went smooth after the opening glitch, and Kermit The Frog and Pichai spoke about climate issues the world is grappling with. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Google CEO Sundar Pichai, google meet, Kermit, dear earth, Alphabet and Google CEO.
A person's disapproval of noncommittal sex and their condemnation of recreational drug use may have a common genetic basis, suggests a study. The research, published in the journal Psychological Science, showed that moral views concerning both recreational drugs and openness to non-committed sex are approximately 50 per cent heritable, with the remaining 50 per cent explained by the unique environment.
Furthermore, approximately 75 per cent of the relationship between openness to non-committed sex and moral views concerning recreational drugs was explained by genetic effects, and the remainder was explained by the unique environment. "People adopt behaviours and attitudes, including certain moral views, that are advantageous to their own interests," said lead author Annika Karinen, a researcher at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
A person's disapproval of noncommittal sex and their condemnation of recreational drug use may have a common genetic basis, suggests a study. | Photo by Braňo on Unsplash
"People tend to associate recreational drug use with non-committed sex. As such, people who are heavily oriented toward high commitment in sexual relationships morally condemn recreational drugs, as they benefit from environments in which high sexual commitment is the norm," she added. The researchers also found substantial overlap in the genetic effects underlying both factors - namely, that approximately 40 per cent of the genes underlying openness to non-committed sex also underlie moral views concerning recreational drugs.
"These findings suggest that the genetic effects that influence openness to non-committed sex overlap with those that influence moral views concerning recreational drugs," said Karinen. "Important parts of hot-button culture-war issues flow from differences in lifestyle preferences between people, and those differences in lifestyle preferences appear to partly have a genetic basis."
To understand the hereditary and environmental factors, the team surveyed 8,118 Finnish fraternal and identical twins to examine how open they were to recreational drug use and to sex outside of a committed relationship. The researchers then compared fraternal and identical twin pairs to assess the extent to which condemnation of recreational drugs, openness to non-committal sex, and the relationship between the two was explained by genes; the shared environment such as growing up in the same household or community; or unique experiences and environments not shared by the twins. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: genes, determine, moral, values, drug, sex, genetic, environment