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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 26th September 2019
Published on Sept. 26, 2019, 2:57 p.m.

IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 26th September 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Impeachment

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-II - Polity

In News

  • Impeachment is the levelling of charges against an elected official by a legislative body. If the charges are proved right, it leads to removal of official from the post.
  • Formal impeachment inquiry has been launched against US President Donald Trump for his alleged abuse of Presidential powers

US impeachment process

  • The US House of representative (435 members) needs to pass the impeachment motion by a simple majority, after investigation by judiciary committee
  • The motion of Impeachment then goes to the Senate (Upper House consisting of 100 members), where a trial presided by Chief Justice takes place with representative from House acting as prosecutors and the President & his attorneys presenting his defence
  • A two-third majority in Senate is necessary to convict and remove the President.
  • If the President is convicted, the Vice-President takes over the White House for remaining period of tenure.

Indian Impeachment process

  • In India, President can be impeached for violation of the Constitution (Article 61)
  • The motion for impeaching President can be introduced in any House of Parliament.
  • After the investigation, the motion of impeachment must be passed by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the House by both Houses of the Parliament.

Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG)

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-II- International relations – India & World

In News

  • PM Modi pitches for India’s entry to NSG during his address in the Bloomberg Global Business Forum

About NSG

  • NSG is a multilateral export control regime and a group of nuclear supplier countries that seek to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment, and technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.
  • NSG controls most of the world’s nuclear trade 
  • NSG formed in 1974 consists of 48 members which include the five nuclear weapon states US, UK, France, China, and Russia. 
  • It is not a formal organization (but an informal grouping), and its guidelines are not binding. Decisions, including on membership, are made by consensus
  • While US and other countries support India’s entry into NSG, China has opposed it saying India has not signed Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty

About NPT

  • Non-proliferation Treaty is an international treaty, which came into force in 1970 with the objective of preventing the spread of nuclear technology and nuclear weapons
  • India refused to sign NPT because 
    • The NPT defines “nuclear weapons states” as those that tested devices before 1967, which means India cannot ever be one. 
    • No fixed timelines have been mentioned for disarmament
    • NPT is unfair treaty as nuclear weapon states have no obligation to give them up while non-nuclear states are not allowed to have them.
  • The nuclear powers were convinced that NPT alone would not halt the spread of nuclear weapons. Consequently, NSG was formed in 1974 to control supply of nuclear fuel and technology.

Higher Education Bill

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-III – Education and governance

In News

  • A bill that aims to create a single regulator for higher education, replacing UGC and AICTE, is likely to be introduced in winter session of Parliament
  • The bill proposes to bring all areas of higher education – including technical, architectural and legal courses- under the ambit of Single Umbrella body HECI (Higher Education Commission of India)
  • Medical education, however, will not come under HECI according to draft bill

About UGS & AICTE

  • UGC and AICTE are autonomous bodies which oversee the accreditation, regulation and maintenance of teaching, examination and research standards for Universities& technical education institutions across the country
  • These academic functions will now be moved to the new HECI

Issues with fund devolution

  • Earlier, AICTE and UGC were also responsible for disbursing public funds to Universities and colleges. 
  • There was proposal to bring these fund devolution powers directly under the HRD Minister but due to opposition on the fear of misuse, this provision was dropped in recent draft of the bill. 
  • Instead, a new autonomous body will be created to supervise the doling out of funds to higher education institutions.

India-Pacific Islands

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-II – International Affairs

In News

  • India announced USD 150 million line of credit to the group of Pacific Island Nations for solar, renewable energy and climate related projects during the India-Pacific Islands Developing States (PSIDS) Leaders' Meeting
  • India also announced allocation of 12 million dollars grant (1 million dollar to each PSIDS) towards implementation of high impact developmental project in the area of their choice.
  • India's relationship with Pacific Island nations has deepened with the evolution of Act East Policy, resulting in the setting up of the action-oriented Forum for India-Pacific Island Cooperation (FIPIC).
  • The first and second editions of the FIPIC took place in Fiji (2015) and Jaipur (2016),3rd FIPIC Summit to be held in Port Moresby in first half of 2020.

New IPCC report warns of dire threat to oceans

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-III – Environmental Conservation

In News

  • According to its report, the ocean is projected to transition to unprecedented conditions with increased temperatures, further ocean acidification, marine heatwaves and more frequent extreme El Niño and La Niña events
  • Global ocean has warmed unabated since 1970 and has taken up more than 90% of the excess heat in the climate system
  • Since 1993, the rate of ocean warming has more than doubled. Marine heatwaves have very likely doubled in frequency since 1982 and are increasing in intensity.

About IPCC

  • IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to assess climate change based on the latest science.
  • It acts as the apex referee for scientific evidence on the impact of global warming 

Rise in Mobile Phone Exports

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-III – Economy

In News

  • Mobile phone exports grew over eight-fold to Rs 11,200 crore in 2018-19 over 2017-18 figures though on a small base and has exceeded imports for first time
  • Total number of handsets produced in India reached 29 crores units values at 1.81 lakh crore rupees in 2018-19 which was earlier only 5.8 crore units in 2014-15 values at 18,900 crore rupees

India’s policy push for Electronics

  • India has set “Net Zero imports” in electronics by 2020 under Digital India roadmap released in 2014
  • For mobile handset segment alone, the government under the National Policy on Electronics 2019 had set a target of making 100 crore mobile handsets indigenously by 2025 valued at about 13 lakh crore rupees.
  • Out of 100 mobile handset manufacturing target, 60 crore will be for exports values at about 7 lakh crore rupees.

Miscellaneous

Global Goalkeeper award

  • PM Modi received the Global Goalkeeper Award for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
  • The Global Goalkeeper Award is a "special recognition" by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The award celebrates a political leader who has "demonstrated their commitment to the Global Goals through impactful work in their country and/or globally."

About Swachh Bharat Mission

  • Launched in 2014, Swachh Bharat Mission aims to accelerate the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage in the country. 
  • About 90 million toilets have been built to eliminate open defecation by October 2, 2019.
  • At present, 98% of Indian villages have rural sanitation coverage instead of 38% four years ago.

Rantidine

  • Drug regulators caution against ranitidine use following concerns over its contamination by cancer causing agents
  • Rantidine is an antacid - medication which decreases stomach acid production. It is commonly used in treatment of peptic ulcer disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease.

(MAINS FOCUS)


BIO-TECHNOLOGY

TOPIC: General Studies 3:

  • Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights

Context:

  • India is among the first countries to set up a specialised agency for the development of research and human resources in the biotechnology sector.
  • Modern biotechnological research is expensive.
  •  It requires a highly trained and skilled workforce and access to expensive instruments.

What is Biotechnology?

  • Biotechnology is the broad area of biology involving living systems and organisms to develop or make products, or "any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms
  • it often overlaps with the (related) fields of molecular biology, bio-engineering, biomedical engineering, bio manufacturing, molecular engineering, etc
  • biotechnology has expanded to include new and diverse sciences such as genomics, recombinant gene techniques, applied immunology, and development of pharmaceutical therapies and diagnostic tests

Did you know:

Genomics is an interdisciplinary field of biology focusing on the structure, function, evolution, mapping, and editing of genomes. A genome is an organism's complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. (PREVIOUS UPSC PRELIMS  QUESTION )

Did you know:

Most of the high-quality research output has come from a handful of institutions with better scientific infrastructure. why?

  • due to a “publish or perish” culture that incentivises numbers over quality.
  • Over the years, the focus of research has slowly shifted from fundamental to applied research and asking for quick returns.
  • Compared to the developed economies (the United States), biotechnology research in India is mainly funded by the public exchequer.

Employment  :

In India, unlike the IT sector no  creation of jobs in biotechnology. 

  • low wages of scientists (compared to the developed economies) 
  •  research often requires access to laboratories with high-end scientific infrastructure,
  • The supply of expensive chemicals and reagents with minimum shipping time between the supplier and the user
  • disciplined work culture and documentation practice due to regulatory and intellectual property filing requirement
  • Biotechnology products and solutions often require ethical and regulatory clearance, making the process long, expensive and cumbersome.
  • nature of the work in the biotechnology sector is specialised, hence most jobs are filled with experienced and skilled scientists leaving the demand for young and inexperienced ones low.

Chinese example:

  • Unlike India, China has many more labs with the best of scientific infrastructure; 
  •  Chinese students and scientists outnumber Indians nearly 5:1 in most American universities in the life sciences/biology-related disciplines.
  • A booming economy and a higher science budget coupled with a flexible hiring system have made Chinese universities and research labs attract many overseas Chinese scientists.

Boston and Silicon Valley in the U.S example :

  • The availability of funding, infrastructure and skilled workforce, 
  • the presence of top-notch research institutions and universities in the vicinity 

make these two places among the most attractive locations for biotech startup companies anywhere.

Innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology creation:

  • The government has been supporting biotech entrepreneurs. Initiatives through the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) of the Department of Biotechnology
  • The government is very encouraging and promoting entrepreneurship, but the culture of institutions and scientists to be entrepreneurial will take time.

Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) 

  • is a not-for-profit  Enterprise, set up by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India 
  • Interface Agency to strengthen and empower the emerging Biotech enterprise to undertake strategic research and innovation, addressing nationally relevant product development needs.
  • BIRAC’s aim is to play a transformative and catalytic role in building a US$ 100 billion Indian bioeconomy.

Way forward:

  • The fruits of applied research will only come when we start investing in basic research without asking for quick returns.
  • The government should encourage and incentivise the private sector to invest substantially in applied research
  • Our government needs to make the process of hiring in our universities and national labs simpler and flexible, not necessarily provide more salary, to attract the bright overseas Indian scientists.
  • academia-industry linkage will do the much-required communication and understanding of the problems at both ends.

What has to be done:

  • Flexible policy in the institutes to allow scientists incubate startup companies in their labs while retaining their positions. 
  • The government should let scientists from research institutions and universities take unpaid leave to join the industry for a fixed period. 
  • The government should relax rules to appoint researchers from industry in faculty positions with the freedom to teach, participate, and take students. 
  • A sustained effort in encouraging and promoting science-driven innovation in our academic institutions
  • A robust academia-industry collaboration, biotechnology-led innovation 

Conclusion:

  • One needs to go beyond the traditional indicators such as the numbers of institutions formed, students and scientists trained, and the number of patents filed to judge the sector’s performance, and its impact on the economy and society as a whole.
  • unlike the IT sector, a sustained innovation and product development model in the biotechnology field without enriching the academic institutions is not possible.

Connecting the dots:

  • has the biotechnology sector lived up to its promise? Or was it all faux optimism? Analyze
  • Why has India not produced another Jagadish Chandra Bose or G.N. Ramachandran despite the biotechnology research budget growing several folds?

HEALTH

TOPIC:General Studies 2

  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Ayushman Bharat

Introduction:

  • Ayushman Bharat - Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme having central sector component under Ayushman Bharat Mission anchored in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). 
  • It is an umbrella of two major health initiatives, namely Health and wellness Centres and National  Health Protection Scheme.
  • The journey of Ayushman Bharat started in Jangla in Chhattisgarh.
  1. Health and Wellness Centres
  • Under this 1.5 lakh existing sub centres will bring health care system closer to the homes of people in the form of Health and wellness centres. 
  • These centres will provide comprehensive health care, including for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services.
  1. National Health Protection Mission (AB-PMJAY)
  • AB-PMJAY provides a defined benefit cover of Rs. 5 lakh per family per year. This cover will take care of almost all secondary care and most of tertiary care procedures.
  • The benefit cover will also include pre and post-hospitalisation expenses.
  • PM-JAY has sought to cover a population larger than that of Canada, United States and Mexico put together.

Implementation 

  • At the national level to manage, a National Health Agency has been set up. States/ UTs are advised to implement the scheme by a dedicated entity called State Health Agency (SHA).
  • Several states have merged their many ongoing schemes with PMJAY to make implementation simpler for both beneficiaries and participating hospitals. 

Ex: Karnataka has merged seven different existing schemes into one, while Kerala has merged three different schemes.

Criticisms:

  • India has made solid progress in reducing deaths from common non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, and heart and lung diseases, but not enough to meet international targets, like the Sustainable Development Goals. 
  • India is also falling behind on maternal and child mortality measures, number of doctors, and hospital beds.
  • Although India is the third largest producer, by volume, of generic medicines, there are problems with their accessibility.
  • Even with the introduction of AB, 70% of healthcare expense are out of pocket (due to cost of medicines)
  • Due to delays and backlogs at the Indian Patent Office, it takes between five and seven years for a patent to be examined, meaning patients will not access a new medicine until many years after its global launch. In India, bureaucracy and red tape adds further delays of around 400-500 days

Data:

  • Access to medicines stands at less than 35% in many Indian states
  • India spends far too little, overall, on healthcare—3.66% of GDP (Centre and states combined) compared to the minimum of 6% of GDP recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Way forward:

  • There are several low-cost steps the government could take immediately to improve and accelerate access to medicines to reduce non-communicable disease mortality. These involve cutting red tape, taxes, and barriers to trade.
  • There is GST of 5% on most medicines and  a 12% GST on a wide range of other important medical supplies, including bandages and sterile gauze, diabetic monitoring equipment, photographic plates used in x-rays, and so on. Which must be dealt with.
  • It would be an easy win for the government to abolish GST, and tariffs on medicines and medical supplies. (Many countries have done it)
  • The government, should look to eliminate as many of superfluous regulations as possible. Such as Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) include inefficient customs procedures, red-tape, and hidden taxes and also burdensome labelling and packaging requirements.
  • Patent related red tapes must be reduced

Example : 

Mexico and a number of Gulf states have taken steps to reduce drug registration backlogs by entering into cooperation agreements with other mature drug regulatory authorities. India must do so

Conclusion:

  • Ayushman Bharat has provided a platform and framework for the country to accelerate its progress towards comprehensive universal healthcare.
  • As the Ayushman Bharat revolution unfolds, we are optimistic that India will make sure healthcare is no longer a privilege and is available to every Indian.

Connecting the dots:

  • Although India is the third largest producer, by volume, of generic medicines, there are problems with their accessibility. Critically analyze.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note: 

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1)Global Goalkeeper Award is given by which organisation/body ?

  1. UNESCO
  2. World Economic Forum
  3. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  4. Amnesty International

Q.2)Consider the following statements

  1. India has set “Net Zero imports” in electronics by 2020 under Digital India roadmap released in 2014
  2. The government under the National Policy on Electronics 2019 had set a target of making 100 crore mobile handsets indigenously by 2025 valued at about 13 lakh crore rupees

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3)Ranitidine often seen in the news is related to which area?

  1. Vaccine against Dengue
  2. Indigenously developed drug to treat Drug resistant-TB
  3. Antacid
  4. None of the above

Q.4)Consider the following statements 

  1. IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to assess climate change based on the latest science.
  2. Global ocean has warmed unabated since 1970 and has taken up nearly 20% of the excess heat in the climate system while the rest of excess heating has led to rise in atmospheric temperature

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.5)Consider the following statements about Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)

  1. NSG is part of UNO which controls the world trade in nuclear material and nuclear technology
  2. India is a member of the group

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

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