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Social Issues:

 Inclusive lessons (TH Ed)

Context

Educational under-representation & low political participation of disadvantaged Indian Muslim women

Divisions

Author states that if we have to achieve equality amongst Muslims we need to take into account the actual divisions that exist b/w Muslim men & women and upper-class (Ashraf) and other (Ajlaf) Muslims

Facts

As per 2011 census,

  • 48.1% of Muslim women were illiterate
  • Only 2.07% were graduates

How can the disadvantaged Muslim women be uplifted?

There are two ways of doing so,

  1. Education in schools: Education in mainstream schools is limited to privileged Ashraf women only. Moreover, as highlighted by the Sachar Committee Report, lack of resources, discriminatory attitudes in schools, and the declining faith in the public schooling system have left Ajlaf women excluded from the mainstream. Such issues have brought girls closer to locally available, niche schooling options like nearby madrasas that are limited to a religious curriculum.
  2. Economic development

Hybrid schools

One of such niche schooling options that has come up in less privileged Islamic society are the Private Islamic hybrid schools which not only provide education in the traditional value-oriented adab (discipline) literature but also follow CBSE curriculum

How these hybrid schools are helping in mainstreaming of disadvantaged Muslim women?

The entry of girls into these schools is a bold step towards mainstreaming

  • Research suggests that graduates from these schools are opting for higher education in central universities like JamiaMilliaIslamia. Education policy must account for such community efforts
  • In Bihar alone, there are around 50 State-recognised girls’ hybrid schools

What more can be done?

Bridge courses: To address the curriculum gap left by hybrid schools, universities could start bridge courses for such students, such as that offered by Aligarh Muslim University, thus offering a much-needed inclusiveness

Political representation

The representation of Muslim women has been abysmal across political institutions

  • Facts: The Lok Sabha has had only 13 Muslim women MPs since Independence. There has been only one Muslim woman in the Union Council of Ministers in the last 25 years

How can this whole poor political representation scenario be changed?

  • Setting achievable targets: To improve this situation, policy measures should aim at setting achievable goals for Muslim women and their improved presence in deliberative bodies like the National Commission for Women and the National Commission for Minorities
  • Implement ‘National Plan of Action for Advancement of Muslim Women’s Education in India’: The government commissioned a study in 2007 with an aim to frame a ‘National Plan of Action for Advancement of Muslim Women’s Education in India’. A decade on, it is yet to see the light of the day. It should be implemented with full effect
  • Parliamentary laws on the lines of the now lapsed 110th and 112th Constitution Amendment Bills, 2009, which sought to reserve half the seats in rural and urban local bodies for women, should be brought up

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International relations:

 Pak.court frees Hafiz Saeed(TH)

Context

Saeed, a declared terrorist by the U.N., the U.S. and India for his involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, had been under house arrest since January 2017

What has happened?

A Pakistani court has ordered the release of Hafiz Saeed, the chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and one of the alleged masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed more than 160 people

Pak government’s stand

Government had requested to extend the detention citing that Saeed’s release may trigger international sanctions against Pakistan

High Court’s stand

Concept of justice cannot be brutalised and terrorised in the name of fight against terrorism

Background

Saeed, who carries a bounty of $10 million announced by the U.S. for his role in terror activities, has been under house arrest since January 2017

  • Extension of detention: Saeed’s detention was extended four times since January when the government cracked down on the JuD and its charity arm Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation

Indian Constitution and Polity:

Salaries of judges set to increase(TH)

Context

The Union Cabinet has approved hikes in the salaries of High Court and Supreme Court judges

What has happened?

  • Union cabinet has approved a hike in the salaries of HC & SC judges

Acts to be amended

Following acts would need to be amended as a result,

  • The Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1958
  • High Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1954

Intended purpose

  • This move will address the shortage of judges
  • Most lawyers start doing relatively well by the age of 32-33 years and at the age of 45, they are at the peak of their careers. It is difficult to attract them with the position of a judge if they are not paid well. This should hopefully improve the situation

Bankruptcy code to be amended(TH)

Context

The Union Cabinet has approved a proposal to promulgate an Ordinance to amend the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC)

Objective

The move is intended to strengthen the IBC. It will

  • Prevent certain persons from regaining control: Prevent certain persons — including wilful defaulters, disqualified directors, those who have indulged in fraudulent transactions as well as promoters whose account is classified as non-performing assets (NPA) beyond a prescribed duration — from regaining control of the defaulting company through the backdoor in the garb of a resolution applicant
  • Ensure that promoters of defaulting firms are prevented from bidding for businesses that they ran to the ground in the first place.

What is IBC?

The IBC, passed in 2016, provides for an effective and robust legal framework for “time-bound insolvency resolution to release assets locked up in NPA and making the whole process of shutting down and exiting a business less time consuming and smoother

Operation of IBC

  • Shifting of control: When a firm defaults on its debt, its control will shift to a committee of creditors.
  • Specific timeperiod: The committee will have 180 days to evaluate proposals from various interested parties on how to either resuscitate the company or enable liquidation.
  • Insolvency professionals: The code has provisions for the creation of ‘insolvency professionals’ who would handle the commercial aspects of the resolution process.
  • Insolvency professional agencies will train and regulate these professionals.
  • Debt Recovery Tribunal: The Debt Recovery Tribunal act as adjudicating authorities for individuals and unlimited partnership firms and National Company Law Tribunal for companies and limited liability entities.
  • Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India will be the overall regulator

Gram panchayat certificate no proof of citizenship: SC(TH)

Context

A certificate of residency issued by a gram panchayat is not a document of citizenship and is “meaningless” unless supported by some other valid record to make a claim for inclusion in the National Register of Citizenship (NRC), the Supreme Court said

Citizenship in India

Citizenship in India is governed by following,

  • Citizenship rules 2009
  • Citizenship Act 1955
  • Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2015

Read More: Visit this portal to learn more

What is NRC?

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is the register containing details of all Indian citizens. After conducting the Census of 1951, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was prepared by recording particulars of all the persons enumerated during the 1951 Census.

What is NRC 1951?

  • After the conduct of the Census of 1951, a National Register of Citizens (NRC) was prepared in respect of each village showing the houses or holdings in a serial order and indicating against each house or holding the number and names of persons staying therein, and in respect of each individual, the father’s name/mother’s name or husband’s name, nationality, sex, age, marital status, educational qualification, means of livelihood or occupation and visible identification mark. This was done by copying out in registers the particulars recorded during the Census done in 1951. This NRC was prepared under a directive from the Ministry of Home affairs (MHA).
  • These registers covered each and every person enumerated during the Census of 1951 and were kept in the offices of Deputy Commissioners and Sub Divisional Officers according to instructions issued by the Government of India in 1951. Later these registers were transferred to the Police in the early 1960s.

Batch of petitions

SC was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the Gauhati HC order holding that a certificate of residency issued by a gram panchayat (village council) secretary was not a legal and valid document for claim to citizenship

Identification of illegal immigrants

  • About 48 lakh claims have been made using certificates issued by gram panchayat secretaries, out of a total of 3.29 crore claims made so far for inclusion in the NRC which is being prepared in Assam to identify illegal migrants.

Judges’ view

Document from Gram Panchayat is given without any proper verification hence it cannot be taken as a proof of citizenship

Government’s view

Govt said that without verification, this document cannot be accepted as it only specifies the name of the father, place of residence and nothing else

Read More: You can read more about the NRC issue in detail over here

Amendment related to bamboo in non-forest areas gets Cabinet nod(IE)

Context

The Section in question includes bamboo, along with “skumps, brush-wood and canes”, within the ambit of “tree”

Useful Fact

India has the largest area under bamboo cultivation and is the second richest in terms of bamboo genetic resources after China

What has happened?

  • No need for transit or felling permit: Bamboo grown in non-forest areas will be exempted from requiring a felling or transit permit (permission for felling or transporting) after the Cabinet approved an amendment to the Indian Forest Act 1927
  • The amendment to Section 2(7) of the Act will “encourage bamboo plantation by farmers, which will contribute to doubling farmers’ income by 2022

What is included under the term ‘Tree’?

Section 2(7) includes bamboo, along with “skumps, brush-wood and canes”, within the ambit of “tree”

Is bamboo a tree?

No. Athough taxonomically a grass, bamboo is at present treated as a tree for the purpose of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. It, therefore, requires transit permit under Section 41 of the Act even if it is grown on private land

Under-utilised potential

India’s massive potential has not been utilised to increase the country’s share in the global bamboo market. As a result India still imports timber and allied products such as pulp, paper & furniture

Problems faced by cultivators include,

  • Restrictive regulatory regime
  • Requirement of permission for felling, transit and processing
  • Export restrictions
  • Royalty and transit fee on the products

Benefit of the amendment

The amendment approved today will allow free movement of bamboo and ensure that production and consumption centres are seamlessly integrated. This will

  • Generate the demand for raw material leading to planting of bamboo trees on non-forest land
  • Provide employment
  • Encourage growth of small and medium industries in the villages and smaller towns also
  • Reduce our dependence on imports

Cabinet nod to women cell to support skills, jobs and health(IE)

Context

The move, aimed at bringing gender empowerment under focus ahead of the 2019 elections, will ostensibly help the BJP to justify its promise of SabkaSaath, Sabka Vikas

What has happened?

The Union Cabinet has given approval for setting up of the Pradhan Mantri Mahila Shakti Kendra (PMMSK). The government plans to reach the 115 most backward districts in the country with 920 Mahila Shakti Kendra

What is a Pradhan Mantri Mahila Shakti Kendra?

  • It would be a support service for empowering rural women with opportunities for skill development, employment, digital literacy, health and nutrition
  • It will aim to improve declining child sex ratio, ensure survival and protection of the girl child, ensuring her education and empowering her to fulfil her potential
  • It will provide an interface for rural women to approach the government for getting their entitlements and for empowering them through training and capacity building
  • At the national level, the Mahila Shakti Kendra will provide domain-based knowledge support
  • At the state level, it will cater to the State Resource Centre for Women that will provide technical support to the respective government on issues related to women
  • The district and block level centres, and will provide support to the PMMSK and also give a foothold to BetiBachao, BetiPadhao in 640 district

Student volunteers

  • The government plans to involve student volunteers.
  • Monitoring of activities: The activities of student volunteers will be monitored through a web-based system and they will provide with certificates for community service, stated a statement released by the government. The Niti Aayog will also be involved in digitally monitoring the scheme.

Financial outlay

The financial outlay during 2017-18 to 2019-20 will be Rs 3,636.85 crore with a central share of nearly Rs 3,084.96 crore

Time to change the House rules(TH Ed)

Context

Parliament and State legislatures need to meet more regularly

Shorter winter session

  • In the last few years, the winter session usually started in the third or fourth week of November and closed just before Christmas
  • In 2013, the last winter session of the previous Lok Sabha started in the first week of December, was adjourned after 10 sittings, and continued in early February
  • Given the notice period of two weeks to summon a session, it is unlikely that there will be a commencement of the session before the second week of December resulting in a yet another short parliament session

Shorter assembly sessions in states

  • Data for 20 Assemblies over the last five years indicate that they meet for 29 days a year on average
  • States such as Haryana (12 days a year) and Uttarakhand (13 days) rarely meet
  • There have also been some extreme cases in terms of session time
  • Shortest session record: On September 25, 2015, the Puducherry Assembly commenced a session at 9.30 a.m. and closed at 9.38 a.m., which included a two-minute silence for obituary references, just short of the record of the shortest session by the same Assembly in October 1986, five minutes
  • 10 minute session: Even a large State such as Uttar Pradesh has held a 10-minute session, in November 2011, in which the resolution to divide the State into four parts was passed

 Ambedkar’s views

  • Author states Dr. BR Ambedkar’s view on opting for parliamentary form of government wherein he believed that parliamentary form of government provides higher level of responsibility on the government through daily assessment by members in the form of questions, resolutions, no-confidence motions, adjournment motions and debates on addresses
  • He felt that daily assessment was more effective in holding governments to account, and more appropriate for India

Fallacy

The inherent flaw in the above reasoning is that it presupposes frequent & regular parliamentary sessions while the reality is far different.

Infrequent sessions

Author states that despite improved mode of transportation Parliament has met for just 65-75 days per year in the last couple of decades comparing to 125-140 days a year in the early days of the republic

Consequences

A direct consequence has been less scrutiny of the government’s actions, and even that of bills and budgets

PM & CMs responsibility

  • The Constitution specifies that Parliament will be summoned by the President; the President shall act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers; and there cannot be more than six months between two sittings of Parliament. Similar provisions exist for State legislatures
  • Thus, it is effectively the Prime Minister (or the Chief Minister) who determines when Parliament (or an Assembly) will meet, subject to the gap being less than six months.

Structural issue

Issue involved here is the government’s power to summon sessions and its ability to adjust the dates in response to emerging circumstances

Solution to the problem

  • Announce a calendar of sittings: A simple solution is to have a calendar of sittings announced at the beginning of each year. This would help members and others plan better for the whole year. Just imagine the trouble members currently face in scheduling other engagements in the absence of any certainty of the parliamentary schedule
  • Provision for additional sessions: One also needs to build in the possibility of additional sittings that the government can require if it needs urgent parliamentary approval for action under unforeseen situations.
  • British variation: A variant, such as that followed by the British Parliament, is to have year-long sessions. Thus, the five-year term of Parliament consists of five sessions of a year each. This would require some minor changes in rules such as permitting no-confidence motions to be taken up multiple times in a session if a significant minority asks for it.
  • Allow minority members to call a session:A different approach would be to allow a significant minority of members to call for a session

Pakistan’s example

  • Pakistan’s Constitution requires a session of Parliament within 14 days if one-fourth of its membership demands one
  • It also states that Parliament should meet at least 130 days every year and there should be at least three sessions.

Conclusion

Authenticity of a democracy is ensured by frequent scrutiny by elected representatives. Hence, it is time to change the rules to strengthen the system and ensure that key institutions such as Parliament and State legislatures are able to perform their roles more effectively.

New direct tax law coming(TH)

Context

Panel, led by CBDT Member Arbind Modi, given 6 months to review IT Act 1961

What has happened?

Government has constituted a task force under CBDT member Arbind Modi to review the country’s 56-year old Income Tax law and suggest a new law to replace it.

Terms of reference (purpose)

The terms of reference of the task force is to draft an appropriate direct tax legislation keeping in view the direct tax system prevalent in various countries, international best practices, the economic needs of the country and any other matter connected thereto

Members of the task force

Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian will be a permanent special invitee in the task force that also includes academics, private sector tax experts and a retired Indian Revenue Service officer

Cabinet approves new finance panel (TH)

Context

Fifteenth Finance Commission will have its task cut out with the new tax system

What has happened?

The Union cabinet has approved constitution of the Fifteenth Finance Commission that will decide the formula for sharing of taxes between the Centre and states for five years starting April 1, 2020. The government has set aside 10 crore for 15th Finance Commission in the budget for FY18.

Article 280

Article 280 of the Constitution requires setting up of a finance commission within two years from the commencement of this Constitution and thereafter at the expiration of every fifth year

Primary task of FC

  • The primary task of the commission is to decide the formula for the distribution between the Centre and the states of net proceeds of taxes and the horizontal allocation of the devolution among states
  • It also decides on the rules for grants-in-aid to the states out of the Consolidated Fund of India

Source- Economic Times

14th Finance Commission

  • The 14th Finance Commission was set up on January 2, 2013. Headed by former Reserve Bank of India governor YV Reddy, its recommendations cover the period from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2020
  • It had stepped up the share of states in net central taxes to 42% from 32%

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Economy:

A wilful negligence(IE)

Context

Governments have not acted on recommendations of committees on farmer welfare

Committees on farmer suicides

The central government constituted a series of high-powered committees on farmers’ suicides

  • The Ramesh Chand Committee Report, March 2015: It recommended that
  • The Minimum Support Price (MSP) should be calculated by computing farm labour at the skilled wage rate
  • Calculating land rent at the actual rent without any ceiling
  • Calculating interest on working capital by including a factor relating to borrowing from non-institutional sources
  • Calculating interest on working capital for the whole and not half the crop season, by including in the cost of cultivation post-harvest costs and by including the rate of inflation. If this is done, the MSP would rise by over 50 per cent
  • Government should correct all instances where the MSP is lower than the cost of production. Not only has the MSP not been scientifically revised, but farmers have been forced to sell below the MSP across India. It drew attention to the recommendations of the National Farmers Commission headed by M.S. Swaminathan that had made a similar recommendation decades ago

Problems with Pradhan Mantri FasalBima Yojana

PMFBY was launched to provide crop insurance to nine crore agricultural households

  • Lack of awareness & coverage: The Centre for Science and Environment reported that only 20 per cent of the eligible farmers were covered and most farmers had no idea about the scheme
  • Tenant farmers not covered: This insurance scheme does not cover tenant farmers even though they constitute 50 per cent of farmers’ suicides in Andhra Pradesh and other states
  • Women farmers not covered: The insurance schemes does not cover women farmers even though the National Farmers’ Commission recommended decades ago that their names be included in the column of cultivators and concessions on registrations and stamp duty be granted to women to incentivise land transfers to them
  • Solution: M.S. Swaminathan had drafted a Women Farmers Entitlements Bill, 2011 which was revised by the MahilaKisan Adhikar Manch. No one in government took notice. This bill should be looked intoseiously

Steps to reduce rural indebtedness

  • Follow RBI guidelines: For this, the RBI guidelines that require 18 per cent of Adjusted Net Bank Credit (ANBC) to be set aside for agriculture, and 8 per cent of this exclusively for small and marginal holders, must be followed
  • Implement the recommendations of Task force on Organic and Non-organic farming
  • The central government-appointed Task Force on Organic and Non-Chemical Farming recommended in 2016 that all states should substitute chemical fertilisers with bio inputs in at least 10 per cent of the net cultivated area (up from 1 per cent today) and provide high-quality organic seeds to farmers by 2025
  • Similar recommendations were made by the Parliamentary Committee on Estimates headed by Murli Manohar Joshi

What is National Commission on Farmers?

  • National Commission on Farmers (NCF) was constituted on November 18, 2004, by the Government of India. The commission was formed under the chairmanship of Professor M.S. Swaminathan. The NCF submitted four reports in December 2004, August 2005, December 2005 and April 2006 respectively.  The fifth and final report was submitted on October 4, 2006.
  • The reports contain suggestions to achieve the goal of “faster and more inclusive growth” as envisaged in the Approach to 11thFive Year Plan

Read More: National Commission on Farmers

Equal access to the Internet is under threat in US. What does this mean?(IE)

Context

Ajit V Pai, who was appointed to the FCC Chair by President Donald Trump this January has intended to “fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job creation” in telecommunications

What has happened?

The Federal Communications Commission, the US federal communications regulator, announced plans to change the rules (mainly the net neutrality rules) governing the Internet that were issued by the Obama administration two years ago, and move in favour of giving sweeping powers to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) over the content consumers can access

What is Net neutrality?

  • It is the concept of content and application providers being treated equally by telecom operators. Consumers get access to all websites, nothing is blocked, and speed of access is not differentiated
  • Just as a phone company does not get to decide who a person can call and what she can say on that call, the ISP is not expected to dictate the content that a consumer views or posts online

Obama-era rules on net neutrality

FCC rules issued in 2015 aimed at upholding this broad principle of neutrality, giving consumers equal access to Web content, and barring broadband providers from blocking or slowing access to content, or charging consumers more for certain types of content.

What changes does the FCC want?

  • Chairman Pai’s draft ruling, ‘Restoring Internet Freedom Order’, seeks to remove what it calls “heavy-handed Internet regulations”
  • Changes proposed: FCC will no longer regulate ISPs; the job of protecting consumers from detrimental business practices will go to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which has neither any telecommunications’ expertise nor rule-making regulatory authority in this area
  • Impact of the changes: Critics say it will allow ISPs to give preferential treatment to particular sites and apps, and to their own digital content. ISPs, they say, could block access to sites and cap and throttle network speeds by segregating the Internet into fast and slow lanes, slow down competitors’ content, block unfavourable political opinions, and charge consumers extra for a faster Net experience.

Net neutrality debate in India

What is Pai’s justification?

  • After becoming Chairman, Pai had said he intended to remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job creation in telecommunications
  • The FCC’s main argument for dismantling the regulation that Wheeler spearheaded is that the federal government should “stop micromanaging the Internet”.

Who benefits from the order?

  • Big ISPs such as AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc, which want a repeal of the Obama-era rules
  • On the other side, companies such as Google parent Alphabet Inc, Facebook Inc, Amazon and video streaming player Netflix Inc were among the big corporations that had petitioned Pai to not scrap the rules

Is there a conflict of interest?

Pai was Associate General Counsel between 2001 and 2003 for Verizon, one of the companies that gains from his ruling. Critics have alleged that Pai is acting more as “an ally to broadcasters” than a steward of the FCC

Environment:

Migratory birds start arriving in Chilika(TH)

Context

After a long flight of thousands of miles, not often punctuated by breaks, lakhs of migratory birds have made their way to the Chilika Lake, Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon

Spots

  • Major bird congregations have been spotted in the wetlands of the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary inside Chilika and Mangalajodi, a major village on the banks of the lake
  • The wetlands of Mangalajodihave begun to fill up with lakhs of ruffs, godwits, plovers, sandpipers and migratory ducks. With 11.59 sq km of mudflats, Mangalajodi receives about 3 lakh birds during winter

From where do these birds come?

Migratory birds fly across continents from Caspian Sea, Baikal Lake and remote parts of Russia, Mongolia and Siberia and flock to the marshy lands of the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary inside the Chilika Lake, which is spread across over 1000 sq. km.

Bird Festival

The Odisha government has announced a bird festival for the first time in January, showcasing the diversity of migratory birds and their numbers

Chilika lake

  • Chilka Lake is a brackish water lagoon at the mouth of the Daya River
  • It is spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha state on the east coast of India.
  • It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the world.
  • The lagoon hosts
  • over 160 species of birds in the peak migratory season. Birds from as far as the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea and other remote parts of Russia, Kirghiz steppes of Mongolia, Central and southeast Asia, Ladakh and Himalayas come here.
  • In 1981, Chilika Lake was designated the first Indian wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
  • Birds: White bellied sea eagles, greylag geese, purple moorhen, jacana, flamingos, egrets, gray and purple herons, Indian roller, storks, white ibis, spoonbills, brahminy ducks, shovellers, pintails, and more.
  • Nalbana Island is the core area of the Ramsar designated wetlands of Chilika Lake.
  • Nalbana was notified in 1987 and declared a bird sanctuary in 1973 under the Wildlife Protection Act.
  • The Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaellabrevirostris) is the flagship species of Chilika lake.
  • Chilka is home to the only known population of Irrawaddy dolphins in India.
  • It is classified as critically endangered, in five of the six other places it is known to live

Source: pmfias

Call to make clinical trial data public(TH)

Context

ICMR makes it mandatory for companies, organisations to disclose outcomes

News

From April, companies and organisations that have registered for clinical trials in India will have to disclose the outcomes of their tests within a year of completing them

Current situation

Currently, all trials in India are registered on the Clinical Trials Registry — India (CTRI)

SC ruling

In 2013, the Supreme Court of India forbade fresh applications for clinical trials following a public interest litigation petition due to reports that there had been a high number of deaths among those registered for trials

  • Proper mechanism: The court asked the government to set in place a proper mechanism to regulate trials
  • This led to measures which required that compensation be paid to patients affected by trials and that there was audio-visual proof that participants had indeed consented to take part in a trial
  • However, these requirements were later eased and a streamlined system is in place which, according to clinical-trial companies, is much more conducive to organising trials.

What is CTRI?

  • The Clinical Trials Registry- India (CTRI), hosted at the ICMR’s National Institute of Medical Statistics, is a free and online public record system for registration of clinical trials being conducted in India that was launched on 20th July 2007
  • Initiated as a voluntary measure, since 15thJune 2009, trial registration in the CTRI has been made mandatory by the Drugs Controller General (India) (DCGI)
  • Moreover, Editors of Biomedical Journals of 11 major journals of India declared that only registered trials would be considered for publication
  • Any researcher who plans to conduct a trial involving human participants, of any intervention such as drugs, surgical procedures, preventive measures, lifestyle modifications, devices, educational or behavioral treatment, rehabilitation strategies as well as trials being conducted in the purview of the Department of AYUSH is expected to register the trial in the CTRI before enrollment of the first participant
  • Multi-country trials, where India is a participating country, which have been registered in an international registry, are also expected to be registered in the CTRI.

Far from keeping the world safe(TH Ed)

Context

Much more needs to be done by the international community to truly grapple with climate change

What has happened?

The 23rd meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change concluded on November 17 in Bonn, Germany. Primary aim of the meeting was the creation of a rule book containing technical guidelines and processes which would help in ascertaining the progress made vis-à-vis Paris climate agreement

Key topics discussed

The key topics of contention were related to

  • Financial support
  • Mitigation action
  • Differentiation
  • Loss and damage

Questions raised in Bonn

  • Are developed countries going to do their fair share to support poor and emerging countries, having occupied the bulk of the planet’s available carbon space?
  • What actions have thus far been taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by rich countries?
  • Shouldn’t there be greater emphasis to phase out coal?
  • There was also some apprehension about the role of the U.S. in the discussions since President Donald Trump had earlier declared that it would leave the Paris Agreement

Fulfilling obligations: Kyoto protocol

  • Actions related to the Paris Agreement are intended for 2020-2030. However, the pre-2020 period is part of the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol
  • Both the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol (2005-2012) and the second (2013-2020)principally laid out the responsibilities for reducing emissions by rich countries
  • However, there has been little progress and the 2012 Doha Amendment, the agreement concerning the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol, has not been ratified by a sufficient number of countries to enter into force
  • Stocktaking in 2018 and 2019: Under pressure from poor and emerging economies, actions on the pre-2020 Kyoto period were added to the agenda in the first week of the Bonn meeting. As a result, in 2018 and 2019 there will be additional stocktaking on progress made on the Kyoto Protocol
  • There will also be climate finance assessments and all of these will be part of the overall process undertaken before 2020

Loss & Damage obligations: Warsaw Mechanism

  • Another aspect of the obligations that need to be fulfilled by big emitters is related to economic and non-economic losses under the work programme on loss and damage
  • In Warsaw, Poland, COP-19 established the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage to address the destruction likely from climate change, including extreme events (such as severe storms) and slow-onset events (such as sea-level rise)

Importance of Warsaw mechanism

The establishment of this mechanism meant that the world recognised that even if the we were to drastically reduce its emissions, anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions already in the atmosphere would cause warming. In other words, developing and other vulnerable countries who have not contributed to the already existing GHGs in the atmosphere should be given economic & non-economic support

Issues unaddressed at Bonn

Loss & Damage not included in Bonn

  • The Paris Agreement recognises loss and damage and calls for enhanced action and support from the parties. However, loss and damage was not included in the agenda for the Paris rule book, and this was rightly a big bone of contention with poor and developing economies
  • No funds: There are no funds currently available for this stream and the discussion on this has been postponed to 2018. This is alarming given that the world has already faced numerous extreme events just in the last couple of years.

Financial support

  • The issues of providing finance, technology, and building capacity for poorer countries, both to protect themselves from the effects of climate change and to help them build al ow-carbon economy were not resolved at COP-23
  • Impact: Without the means of implementation, the targets set by each country in Paris will not be achieved
  • Little contribution to GCF: There is also the promise of $100 billion each year by 2020 into the Green Climate Fund, which has not seen much inflow to meet the goal.

Major positives of COP23

  • Policy to be ready by 2018: Negotiators moved forward on developing other details for the Paris Agreement implementation, a process that is carried out under the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement and a policy should be ready in 2018
  • Steps were taken to spell out the details of the global stock-taking that will occur every five years starting in 2023 and on transparency measures that are part of the overall process
  • The Bonn meeting saw the launch of the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which was led by Canada and the U.K., and joined by numerous countries and substate actors
  • Headway in agriculture: A work plan was proposed by Parties on items related to climate change and agriculture, including improvements in soil fertility and carbon, management of land use and livestock maintenance

Grim data

Greenhouse gas emissions which appeared to have stabilized for a few years, probably for economic reasons, rose by 2% in 2017

Powering past coal alliance

  • The Powering Past Coal Alliance was unveiled at the COP23 climate talks in Bonn, Germany. Australia isn’t part of the alliance, which also doesn’t include some of the world’s biggest coal users China, India, the United States, Germany and Russia. Coal is responsible for more than 40 per cent of global emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
  • It also involves sharing technology to reduce emissions, such as carbon capture and storage, and encouraging the rest of the world to cut usage

Members of the alliance: As of 16 November, the following governments had joined the alliance: Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Vancouver (Canada); Angola; Austria; Belgium; Canada; Costa Rica; Denmark; Finland; Fiji; France; Italy; Luxembourg; the Marshall Islands; Mexico; the Netherlands; New Zealand; Niue; Portugal; Switzerland; UK; and Washington, DC (US)

Expansion: The alliance hopes to increase its membership to 50 partners by the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 24) to the UNFCCC, which will convene in December 2018 in Katowice, Poland

Science and Technology:

In a first, air-launched BrahMos missile test-fired(TH)

Context

The missile was gravity dropped from the Su-30MKI from its fuselage, and the two-stage missile’s engine fired up and was propelled towards the intended target in the Bay of Bengal

What has happened?

In a milestone, a BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was fired successfully for the first time from a Sukhoi-30MKI fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force

Impact

The successful maiden test-firing of Brahmos Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) from Su-30MKI will significantly bolster the IAF’s air combat operations capability from stand-off ranges

  • Cruise missile triad completed: BrahMos is now capable of being launched from land, sea and air, completing the tactical cruise missile triad for India
  • The land and sea variants of Brahmos are already operational with the Army and the Navy. Recently, the range variants were upgraded from 290 km to 450 km after India joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)

BrahMos

  • BrahMos ALCM, which weighs 2.5 tonnes, is the heaviest weapon to be deployed on India’s Su-30 fighter aircraft. It has a range of 290 km
  • BrahMos is a joint venture between India and Russia and named after the Brahmaputra and Moscowa rivers

Pill talk(TH Ed)

Context

Article talks about the World Antibiotic Awareness Week, a World Health Organisation campaign to focus attention on antibiotic resistance

What is AMR?

Antibiotic drug resistance is developed in the micro-organisms. AMR is the ability of a microorganism such as bacteria, viruses etc., to render the anti-microbial such as antibiotics, antivirals and anti-malarials ineffective against them. It results in failure of standard treatments and the spread of infections

Similarities b/w climate change & Antibiotic resistance issues

  • In both cases, the actions of people in one region have consequences across the globe. Also, tackling both requires collective action across multiple focus areas.
  • For resistance, this means cutting the misuse of antibiotics in humans and farm animals, fighting environmental pollution, improving infection control in hospitals, and boosting surveillance

India’s unique problem

India grapples with a unique problem as many of around 4 lakh children die of pneumonia every year due to lack of antibiotics while a part of the population uses too much of these medicines

Plan to ban antibiotics shelved

Moves to ban the sale of the antibiotics met with strong opposition in 2011. You can read more about it here

Present situation

  • The Drugs and Cosmetic Rule, 1945 were amended in 2013 to incorporate a new Schedule H1 under the said rules containing 46 drugs which include III and IV generation antibiotics, anti TB drugs and certain habit forming drugs for  having  strict  control  over the   sale of   these drugs. The drugs falling under Schedule H1 are required to be sold in the country with the following conditions:
  • The supply of a drug specified in Schedule H1 shall be recorded in a separate register at the time of the supply giving the name and address of the prescriber, the name of the patient, the name of the drug and the quantity supplied and such records shall be maintained for three years and be open for inspection
  • The drug specified in Schedule H1 shall be labeled with the symbol Rx which shall be in red and explicitly displayed on the left top corner of the label
  • Lax implementation: Even Schedule H1 hasn’t accomplished much: pharmacists often flout rules, and drug controllers are unable to monitor them. Thus, the power to purchase antibiotics still remains in the hands of the consumer

What can be done?

  • Author states that the onus now lies totally on the consumers to appreciate the threat of antibiotic resistance and exercise this power with care. Losing these drugs would mean that even minor illnesses could become killers, and the cost of health care will soar.
  • Awareness must be created so that consumers know that not all illnesses need antibiotics, and the decision on when to take them and for how long is best left to a doctor

Global learnings

Multidrug-resistance in some tertiary-care hospitals (health care from specialists in a large hospital after referral from primary care and secondary care) to bugs like Staphylococcus aureus has grown to dangerous levels. But the experience of countries like Australia shows that cutting down on antibiotics can reverse such trends. The National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance aims to repeat such successes in India

National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance

  • Finalization of India’s National Action Plan on AMR (Anti-Microbial resistance) was announced at the ‘Inter-Ministerial Consultation on AMR containment’ held at New Delhi. The ministers present also signed a ‘Delhi Declaration’ to contain AMR
  • A draft national action plan prepared by the National Centre for Disease Control, under MoHFW was released in March 2017. It called for surveillance of antibiotic use in humans and animals and surveillance of antibiotic resistance in humans, animals and environment
  • In 2015, the WHO released a global action plan on AMR and passed a resolution urging member countries to develop national action plans by May 2017

Delhi Declaration

It calls on the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to help implement the national and state action plans on AMR

AMRRSN

In order to strengthen the surveillance of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the country, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has set up a National Anti-Microbial Resistance Research and Surveillance Network (AMRRSN) to enable compilation of National Data of AMR at different levels of Health Care

Government of India formulated a National policy for containment of antimicrobial resistance in 2011

National Programme for Containment of AMR

  • A National Programme for Containment of AMR has also been initiated in 12th Five Year Plan with the following objectives.
  • To establish a laboratory based surveillance system by strengthening laboratories for AMR in the country and to generate quality data on antimicrobial resistance for pathogens of public health importance
  • To generate awareness among healthcare providers and in the community regarding rational use of antibiotics
  • To strengthen infection control guidelines and practices and promote rational use of antibiotics.
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