9 PM Current Affairs Brief – November 22nd, 2019

Global Terrorism Index 2019

News:The Global Terrorism Index(GTI),2019 has been released.

Facts:

About Global Terrorism Index(GTI):

  • The Global Terrorism Index(GTI) is published by the Institute for Economics & Peace.
  • The index provides a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism.
  • The report ranks 163 countries according to how impacted they are by terrorism.
  • The indicators include the number of terrorist incidents, fatalities, injuries and property damage.

Key takeaways from the index:

  • The deaths from terrorism have decreased by 15.2% in 2018 to 15,952 globally.This is the fourth consecutive year of improvement.
  • However,71 countries recorded at least one death from terrorism in 2018 which is the highest second number of countries since 2002.
  • Afghanistan was the country most impacted by terrorism in 2018, replacing Iraq which had held that position since 2004.
  • The Taliban has overtaken ISIL to become the deadliest terrorist group in the world recording a 71% increase in terrorism deaths.The group was responsible for 38% of all terrorist deaths globally in 2018.
  • The deaths in Europe has fallen by 70% with Western Europe recording its lowest number of incidents since 2012.
  • But there has been an increase in far-right terrorism for the third year running, in Western Europe, North America and Oceania with deaths up by 52% in 2018.
  • Further,the fall in terrorism has also been accompanied by a reduction in the global economic impact of terrorism decreasing by 38% to US$33 billion in 2018.

Index on India:

  • India has been ranked 7th in the countries suffering the most deaths from terrorism in 2018.
  • India is ranked third in the countries with the greatest number of terrorist attacks with nearly 748 recorded terror incidents in 2018.
  • However,India has also recorded a slight improvement in the number of terrorist attacks in the country while also recording a slight decrease in the number of deaths.

Additional information:

About Institute for Economics & Peace

  • The Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) is the world’s leading think tank headquartered in Sydney, Australia
  • It is dedicated to developing metrics to analyse peace and to quantify its economic value.
  • It does this by developing global and national indices including the annual Global Peace Index calculating the economic cost of violence and understanding positive peace.

To ensure post-marketing safety of vaccines, govt to expand the reach of 3S project

News:The central government has decided to expand the reach of the Smart Safety Surveillance or 3S programme to optimize post-marketing surveillance of priority drugs and vaccines.

Facts:

About Smart Safety Surveillance(3S) Programme:

  • The programme was introduced by the World Health Organization(WHO) in India considering limited safety data on vaccines in the country.
  • The programme is implemented with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to strengthen pharmacovigilance systems in developing nations.
  • Under the programme,Government of India is trying to strengthen the collaboration among key stakeholders such as the Ministry of Health and Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation(CDSCO) to ensure high levels of vigilance.
  • Currently,under the programme India is evaluating the safety of recently introduced rotavirus vaccines.

Significance of the programme:

  • According to the ministry of health and family welfare, new medical products often enter the market with limited safety data from clinical trials, which evaluate small controlled populations.
  • Therefore,for immunization programmes, post-marketing safety and surveillance is essential to monitor the risk-benefit profile of a product in the wider population.

Additional information:

About Rotavirus:

  • Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea among infants and children throughout the world.
  • Rotavirus is transmitted by the faecal-oral route via contact with contaminated hands,surfaces and objects and possibly by the respiratory route.
  • Every year in India,37 out of every 1,000 children born are unable to celebrate their fifth birthday and one of the major reasons for this is deaths due to diarrhoea.Rotavirus is a leading cause of diarrhoea in children less than five years of age.

About CDSCO:

  • The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) is the national regulatory body for Indian pharmaceuticals and medical device
  • CDSCO functions under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.It comes under Directorate General of Health Services,Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
  • CDSCO is responsible for (a)approval of New Drugs (b)Conduct of Clinical Trials, (c)laying down the standards for Drugs (d)control over the quality of imported Drugs in the country and (e)coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organizations by providing expert advice with a view to bring about uniformity in the enforcement of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

Srisailam dam in need of urgent maintenance

News:Waterman of India Rajendra Singh has said that the Srisailam Dam in Andhra Pradesh needs repair, protection and maintenance works under the Dam Rehabili­tation and Improvement Project.

Facts:

About Srisailam Dam:

  • The Srisailam dam is constructed across the Krishna River in Andhra Pradesh.It is located in the Nallamala hills.
  • Several floods in the region have created a need for repair and maintenance of the Srisailam dam.

About Dam Rehabili­tation and Improvement Project:

  • The Dam Rehabili­tation and Improvement project was launched in 2012 under Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation(now Ministry of Jal Shakti).It is a World Bank assisted project.
  • The Central Dam Safety Organisation of Central Water Commission is coordinating and supervising the Project implementation.

Objectives of the project:

  • To improve the safety and operational performance of selected existing dams and associated appurtenances in a sustainable manner
  • To improve institutional capacities for dam safety evaluation and implementation at the Central and State levels.

Funding:

  • The DRIP is an externally-aided project.80% of the total project is provided by the World Bank as loan/credit and remaining 20% is borne by the States / Central Government (for CWC).
  • Govt. of India has not sought funding from any internal agency for this project.

Additional information:

About Rajinder Singh:

  • Rajinder Singh is a well known water conservationist and environmentalist from Rajasthan.
  • He was awarded the Magsaysay Award in 2001 and Stockholm Water Prize in 2015.
  • He is credited with harvesting rainwater for drinking and domestic purposes by building check dams in Alwar and nearby districts of Rajasthan.
  • The idea was to revive the use of traditional technology of Johad,an ancient water conservation technique to replenish the water sources.
  • Johad is a concave structure that collects and stores water throughout the year for drinking purposes by humans and cattle.
  • It is the successful implementation of this ancient innovation that earned him the name ‘Jal Purush’ or the ‘Waterman of India’.

42 projects under Himayat Mission sanctioned in J&K

News:The Jammu and Kashmir administration is working on effective implementation of Himayat Mission.Under this, 42 projects have been sanctioned for training.

Facts:

About Himayat mission:

  • Himayat is a placement linked skill training programme for unemployed youth of Jammu and Kashmir.The programme has been under implementation in the state since 2011.
  • The programme has been developed and initiated by the Union Ministry of Rural Development and is being implemented by Himayat Mission Management Unit,J&K State Rural Livelihoods Mission (JKSRLM).
  • The Programme was recommended by Dr. C. Rangarajan Committee report which was submitted to the Prime Minister in 2011.
  • Under the programme,the youth are provided free skill training training for a duration of 3 to 12 months, in a range of skills for which there is good market demand.
  • At the end of the training,the youth are assured of a job and there is one year post-placement tracking to see how they are faring.The Programme is 100% funded by the Government of India.
  • Further,the programme covers both urban and rural population irrespective of levels of poverty.

Union Health minister inaugurates World Conference on Access to Medical Products,2019

News:Union Minister for Health has inaugurated the ‘2019 World Conference on Access to Medical Products: Achieving the SDGs 2030.’

Facts:

About the Conference:

  • The World Conference on Access to Medical Products- Achieving the SDGs 2030 will be held in New Delhi.
  • It is being jointly organized by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • It is organized in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR), Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) and Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI).

Objectives of the conference:The specific objectives of the conference are to:

  • Explore new approaches in the innovation landscape in medical products for achieving Universal Health Coverage and the SDG 2030 goals
  • Identify regulatory mechanisms for improved access to quality and safe medical products
  • Discuss the legal and trade landscape in the context of access to medical products.

Additional information:

About ICMR:

  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR),New Delhi is the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research.
  • It is funded by the Government of India through the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

About BIRAC:

  • Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council(BIRAC) is a not-for-profit Public Sector Enterprise.
  • It was set up by Department of Biotechnology (DBT),Ministry of Science and Technology Government of India
  • It aims to empower the emerging biotech industry to undertake strategic research and innovation.

About Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs):

  • The Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) were born at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in 2012.
  • The objective was to produce a set of universal goals that meet the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing the world.
  • The SDGs are a bold commitment to finish what the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) started and tackle some of the more pressing challenges.

Cabinet approves strategic disinvestment of BPCL,4 other PSUs

News:Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the strategic disinvestment of BPCL and four other Public Sector Units(PSUs).

Facts:

About the units for disinvestment:The Public Sector Units approved for strategic disinvestment are

  • Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL).The Numaligarh Refinery Limited operating under BPCL is excluded.
  • Shipping Corporation of India (SCI)
  • Container Corporation of India (CONCOR)
  • Tehri Hydro Development Corporation India Limited (THDCIL) and
  • North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited (NEEPCO).

About Disinvestment:

  • Disinvestment is defined as the action of an organisation or government selling or liquidating an asset or subsidiary.It is also referred to as divestment.
  • In the case of Public Sector Undertakings(PSU) disinvestment means Government selling/ diluting its stake (share) in PSUs in which it has a majority holding.
  • Disinvestment is carried out as a budgetary exercise under which the government announces yearly targets for disinvestment for selected PSUs.
  • Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) under the Ministry of Finance is the nodal department for the strategic disinvestment sale.
  • Government has set the disinvestment target of 1.05 lakh crore for the current financial year 2019-20.

Significance of disinvestment:

  • It improves the structure of incentives and accountability of PSUs in India.
  • It can help in the revival of loss-making public sector enterprises(PSU).
  • It can help in financing the increasing fiscal deficit.
  • It can also finance the large-scale infrastructure development, defense, education and healthcare projects.

Concerns on disinvestment:

  • The process of disinvestment is not favoured socially as it is against the interest of socially disadvantageous people.
  • After disinvestment, the employees of Public Sector Units(PSUs) will lose their jobs.
  • Government’s dividend income will also decline as it will have less shares in the PSUs.

Cabinet approves extension of pharmaceuticals purchase policy

News:The Union Cabinet has approved the extension/renewal of Pharmaceuticals Purchase Policy(PPP).

Facts:

About the Policy:

  • Pharmaceuticals Purchase Policy(PPP) was approved by the Cabinet in 2013 for a period of five years in respect of 103 medicines manufactured by pharma CPSUs and their subsidiaries.
  • The policy is applicable to purchases by Central/ State Government departments and their Public Sector Undertakings.
  • The pricing of the products is done by National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority(NPPA).
  • The procuring entity can purchase from Pharma CPSUs and their subsidiaries subject to their meeting Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) norms as per Schedule ‘M’ of the Drugs & Cosmetic Rules.
  • Further,the government has added one additional product namely Alcoholic Hand Disinfectant(AHD) to the existing list of 103 medicines.

Additional information:

About National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority(NPPA):

  • NPPA is an independent body set up in 1997 under Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
  • Its mandate is to fix/revise controlled bulk drugs prices and formulations, enforce prices and availability of medicines under the Drug(Price Control) order, 2013.
  • The functions of NPPA are:(a) To implement and enforce the provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order (b) Deal with all legal matters arising out of the decisions of the Authority (C) To monitor the availability of drugs, identify shortages and (d)To collect/ maintain data on production, exports and imports, profitability of companies etc, for bulk drugs and formulation.

19th Session of the India-Finland Joint Commission concludes

News:The 19th Session of the India-Finland Joint Commission was held in New Delhi.

Facts:

Key takeaways from the Joint commission:

  • The Agenda for the Joint Commission Session was bilateral trade and investment relations, trade barrier issues, cooperation in the sectors of power, petroleum and gas, new and renewable energy among others.
  • The two countries reiterated the useful role of the Joint Commission as a forum for strengthening economic relations between India and Finland.
  • They also highlighted that 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of India – Finland diplomatic relations.
  • They have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for strengthening cooperation in the field of Tourism.

Additional information:

India-Finland relations:

  • India and Finland have enjoyed a strong diplomatic and economic relationship.The diplomatic relations between Finland and India was established in 1949.
  • Both India and Finland cooperate on a wide array of issues and as a member of the EU,Finland regards India as a strategic partner for balanced and comprehensive trade relations.
  • The bilateral trade between India and Finland was around $1.28 billion in 2016-17.
  • India’s trade with Finland is heavily in Finland’s favour.In 2016,Finland was India’s 60th largest trade partner globally and the 10th largest within the EU.
  • Finland is also one of the important inbound source market for India.In 2018, around 21,000 Finnish tourists visited India.
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