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GS: 2


International relations:

The Nepal reset(The Hindu Opinion)

Context

Resetting Indo-Nepal ties

 Way forward

  • Completion of the ongoing process of updating the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship
  • Nepal acknowledging that its citizens have benefited from the ease of employment and residence in India that the treaty provides
  • India must recognise that as in all other developing economies, Nepal’s aspirational young population is also looking beyond the open Indian border for opportunities
  • It will be the deliverables, such as road and railway links, power projects and post-earthquake reconstruction commitments, that will determine the success of the partnership, not just the announcement of new initiatives

 Concerns over the Nepal’s constitution

India has residual concerns over enhancing the constitution’s provisions for Nepal’s plains-based Madhesi population, but these should be taken up discreetly and diplomatically

Conclusion

Recovery in the relationship is still fragile, and any grandstanding must be avoided.

Raja Mandala: India’s China reset and BRI(Indian Express)

 Context

At the annual Boao forum in Hainan this week, Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to present himself as the new champion of globalisation and castigate the unilateral economic actions of US President Donald Trump

 New economic leader

China might project itself as new global economic leader amidst US’s unilateralist policies

 India doubtful on China’s intentions

Trade deficit with China: Due to huge trade deficit with China, around $52 billion, and no efforts from Chinese side to reduce it despite Indian concerns.

BRI issues: China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of the BRI, violates India’s sovereignty in Kashmir. BRI projects are pushing recipient countries into indebtedness, do not transfer skills or technology and are environmentally unsustainable

 Indian efforts to promote connectivity with neighbors

  • Chabahar port project in Iran and the agreement on building a rail link to Kathmandu
  • India is also in discussion with Japan and the US to pool resources and coordinate approaches to sustainable infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific

 Working jointly is beneficial for both India and China

Improving viability: The viability of the projects would significantly improve if there is cooperation between India and China, for e.g.

  • The financing for China’s hydroelectric projects in Nepal would be lot easier if the power plants are linked to North Indian markets
  • Similarly, the proposed Indian and Chinese rail lines in Nepal would be more efficient if they are part of sensible trade and transit agreements between Delhi, Kathmandu and Beijing

Huge size of Indian market: The Subcontinent’s geography and the size of India’s market make it plain that many BRI projects will be hugely successful if India is part of them

Current stand

India: The NDA government might be quite open to a substantive dialogue with China on BRI if Xi is prepared to address Delhi’s concerns on sovereignty and sustainability

China: Beijing, in turn, has apparently floated a number of new proposals for Delhi’s consideration.These include extension of the CPEC to India, promoting connectivity across the Himalayas in J&K, Nepal, Sikkim and other places.

What is Boao forum (BFA)?

The Boao Forum for Asia is a non-profit organisation that hosts high-level forums for leaders from government, business and academia in Asia and other continents to share their vision on the most pressing issues in this dynamic region and the world at large

Modelled after WEF: BFA is modelled on the World Economic Forum held annually in Davos, Switzerland

Its fixed address is in Bo’ao, Hainan province, China, although the Secretariat is based in Beijing.

Asian Davos: The forum, sometimes known as the “Asian Davos”, takes its name from the town of Boao, located in China’s southern Hainan province, which has been the permanent venue for its annual conference since 2002.

The Forum is committed to promoting regional economic integration and bringing Asian countries even closer to their development goals.

Indian Constitution and Polity:

Cauvery: SC slams Centre’s inaction(The Hindu)

 What has happened?

The Supreme Court on Monday rapped the Centre for not framing a water-sharing scheme for the Cauvery and ordered it to prove its “bona fides” by submitting a draft scheme by May 3

 Background: The court was primarily hearing a contempt petition filed by Tamil Nadu against the Centre

 SC observed

Centre didn’t show resolve: Government is bound by court’s decree so it is obliged to frame the scheme but it didn’t show any resolve

Patents and protecting public health(The Hindu Opinion)

 Context

Seeking full disclosure on how patents are working locally through Form 27 will help promote innovation

Section 83 of the Patents Act, 1970

It lays out the general principles of the working of the patented inventions in India

  • Section 83 states that the grant of patents is not solely intended to enable patentees to enjoy a monopoly on the import of patented articles
  • The goal of granting a monopoly to patentees is to encourage invention and ensure that patented inventions are worked in India on a commercial scale and to the fullest extent reasonably practical without undue delay.

Not just a monopoly

  • In return for a 20-year monopoly over the patented invention for the rights holder, the patent rights should serve to promote technological innovation and enable the dissemination of technology to the advantage of producers and consumers, in a manner that is conducive to their social and economic welfare
  • Section 83 also requires that granted patents not impede the protection of public health and nutrition, but rather act as an instrument to promote the public interest; hence, patented inventions must be available to the public at reasonably affordable prices.

The issue

Failure to work a patented invention in the territory of the issuing country is a ground for compulsory licensing (a country in which patent is issued must benefit, e.g. manufacturing should be done in the country, information regarding the technology should be published in the public domain)

Disclosures under Form 27 are vital

  • Form 27 requires patentees to submit a statement “regarding the working of the patented invention on a commercial scale in India”. But as the Form is bereft of crucial details, India’s next step is not to reject it, but to revise it in a way that the conditions subject to which the patent privilege is granted are complied with
  • Disclosures under Form 27 are required as part of a national strategy to improve innovation and further technology transfer into India, to maintain public health and to ensure supply of pharmaceuticals nationally

Rights to Controller regarding information

  • Indian Patents Act (Section 146) empowers the Controller to require a patentee or a licensee to furnish statements of how the invention has been commercially worked in India
  • It also requires the patentees and every licensee to furnish the prescribed statements regarding the invention. The Controller also has the right to publish the information received

 Conclusion

It is not only about the right to health but also about the state’s sovereign right to preserve public health and duty to fulfil a Constitutional mandate

PM to address Swachhagrahis in Bihar’s Champaran today(The Hindu)

 What has happened?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi would address 20,000 Swachhagrahis (cleanliness ambassadors) in Motihari of East Champaran district on Tuesday to mark the concluding ceremony of Champaran Satyagraha centenary celebrations started by the State government last year. The PM is also scheduled to flag off the “Swachhagraha Express” from Bapudham (Motihari) railway station and unveil other schemes and projects

Special category state

The Janata Dal (United), which rules the State in alliance with the BJP, wished that the Prime Minister would declare ‘Special Category State’ status for Bihar during his visit

Swachha Gram

  • The district administration in East Champaran has erected a tent city, being called “Swachha Gram”, to accommodate 20,000 visiting Swachhagrahis at the local aerodrome ground in Bariyarpur locality of Motihari
  • Spread over 700,000 square feet, Swachha Gram is equipped with toilets and washrooms for the Swachhagrahis visiting from 26 other States.

CVC witnesses a dramatic drop in complaints(The Hindu)

 What has happened?

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) saw a dramatic drop in the total number of complaints received by it in 2017, keeping in line with the drop in actions by various government departments in cracking down on corruption. The 23,609 complaints received in 2017 by the CVC was less than half of almost 50,000 complaints received in 2016, and the lowest in the previous five years

 Annual CVC report

  • Of the total of 2,069 investigation reports examined by CVC in 2017, 45% were closed without any action, while only 3.09% led to criminal proceedings
  • During the year 2017, there were some significant deviations from the Commission’s advice” by various Ministries
  • The Ministry of Railways refused to follow its recommendation in six investigations against senior officials
  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation, too, has a similar track record, including not investigating a former Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of Air India, who recruited his OSD’s (Officer on Special Duty) son as a trainee pilot in Air India, and allowed the top official to retire in 2016.

 Why the drop in complaints?

  • View 1: Due to improved system for weeding out duplication of complaints and a few other streamlining exercises undertaken in recent years
  • View 2: Lowering of public trust in anti-corruption bodies because of their perceived inefficiency, quality of investigations and possible manipulations at various levels

Reason as per the report

  • Delay in filing the report

The procedure: When it receives a complaint, the CVC calls for inquiry reports from the appropriate agencies. As per the laid down procedure, the inquiry/ investigation reports are required to be sent to the Commission within a period of three months

There is a considerable delay in finalizing and submitting reports to the Commission

  • Quality of Investigation

There is a lack of quality of investigation reports filed by CVC

From the report: Of the total of 2,069 investigation reports examined by CVC in 2017, 45% were closed without any action, while only 3.09% led to criminal proceedings

SC to issue orders in roster case(The Hindu)

 Context

Petition calls for transparent, codified procedure for constitution of Benches

What has happened?

A day after the Supreme Court’s number two judge, Justice Jasti Chelameswar, attacked the Chief Justice of India’s discretionary powers to constitute Benches and allocate cases, a three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Monday decided to pass judicial orders on a petition calling for a transparent and codified procedure for constitution of Benches and allocation of cases in the court

 Main points of the petition

  • Unfettered power is being exercised by the Chief Justices in the matter of formation of Benches, and so, the same is liable to be regulated through specific rules
  • Specific provisions should be incorporated in the Supreme Court Rules of 2013 that the three-judge Bench in the Chief Justice of India’s court should consist only of the Chief Justice of India and the court’s two senior-most judges
  • Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court should consist of five senior-most judges — the CJI, Justices Chelameswar, Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph — or a combination of the three senior-most and two junior-most judges

Earlier petition

  • By former Union Law Minister Shanti Bhushan for a declaration that the authority of the CJI as “master of roster” should not be reduced to an absolute, singular and arbitrary power
  • He has asked the Supreme Court Registry not to place his petition before a Bench of which Chief Justice Misra is a part of

List facilities at refugee camps: SC(The Hindu)

 Context

Rohingya or Indian, all are equally entitled to civic amenities, says the court

 What has happened?

The fundamental right to basic amenities and a dignified life cannot be confined to the Rohingya alone, but has to extend to their Indian neighbours living in the same slum.

 Background

The court was hearing PIL pleas to provide the refugees with basic amenities

SC observed

The Supreme Court cannot shine the spotlight on Rohingya refugees without doing anything for the Indian living in the adjacent slum

What now?

The court directed the government to submit a report on the basic amenities provided to Rohingya camps in Delhi and Haryana. The next date of hearing is May 9


GS: 3


Economy:

‘Trade friction between U.S., India is over unequal tariffs’(The Hindu)

 What has happened?

The friction between the U.S. and India on trade issues has arisen due to the unequal tariff regime implemented by the two countries, according to a senior U.S. envoy, even as India is trying to get an exemption from the import tariffs imposed by the U.S. on steel and aluminium

 Background

U.S. Assistant Trade Representative Mark Linscott is visiting New Delhi on a two-day trip starting Monday, and he will meet senior Commerce Ministry officials to discuss the issue of the tariffs

Agenda of the meeting

The agenda of the meeting is to make the case that the tariffs on steel and aluminium imposed by the U.S. should not be levied on India because the Asian nation ‘does not pose any security threat to the U.S.

US tariff on steel and aluminium

  • U.S. President Donald Trump had early last month signed two proclamations that levied a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminium imported from all countries except Canada and Mexico
  • This move was widely criticised, especially by China, which has also undertaken some retaliatory tariff measures
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