Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - December 7, 2017

Environment

8% drop in environmental crimes
NCRB says 424 less cases in 2016; Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan record maximum violations

  • The data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recently have shown a decline of over 8% in environmental crimes across the country.
  • Environmental crimes include offences related to Indian Forest Act, 1927, Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
  • Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh remained the highest contributor — about 75% — to all environmental crimes reported in 2016.
  • With 2,130 cases, Uttar Pradesh contributed to 45% of all cases, while Rajasthan recorded 1,381 cases, accounting for 29.2% of all crimes related to environment.
  • Other States recorded far less crimes, with Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh accounting for 178 cases each, Maharashtra 170 cases and Assam 149 cases.
  • Most of the crimes related to environment were reported under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 — 3,715 cases accounting for 78% of all environment-related crimes.

Experts question data

  • There seems to be a mismatch in the data published by the NCRB and the situation on the ground.
  • It is very strange that not a single case of air pollution has been recorded in Delhi in 2016Ms
  • the methodology for compilation of these figures needs to be looked into and rectified.

International Trade

The International North South Transportation Corridor

What it is –
Connecting Mumbai with St Petersburg and beyond

  • To be operationalised from the middle of next month with the first consignment from India to Russia.

Enlighten About INSTC:

  • India, Iran and Russia had in September 2000 signed the INSTC agreement to build a corridor to provide the shortest multi-model transportation route linking the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran and St Petersburg.
  • From St Petersburg, North Europe is within easy reach via the Russian Federation.
  • The estimated capacity of the corridor is 20-30 million tonnes of goods per year.
  • The route primarily involves moving freight from India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia via ship, rail and road.
  • The objective of the corridor is to increase trade connectivity between major cities such as Mumbai, Moscow, Tehran, Baku, Bandar Abbas, Astrakhan, Bandar Anzali and etc.

Significance of the corridor

  • Conceived well before China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), INSTC will not only help cut down on costs and time taken for transfer of goods from India to Russia and Europe via Iran but also provide an alternative connectivity initiative to countries in the Eurasian region.
  • It will be India’s second corridor after the Chabahar Port to access resource rich Central Asia and its market

Government Committees

Government to constitute committee for drug pricing, new launches

  • The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers will constitute multi-disciplinary committee of experts for consultation on matters pertaining to implementation of drug price control order (DPCO) including technicalities involved in pricing and new launches.
  • It will have member secretary of National Pharmaceutical Pricing authority (NPPA) as its convener.
  • It will also have representatives from Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), Department of Health Research/Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and NIPER as members

Enlighten about the committee

  • The committee will be constituted taking in view of the experience gained from implementation of Drugs Price Control Order (DPCO), 2013 for consultation on all technical issues related to pricing, launch of new drugs with ancillary provisions where more clarity is required.
  • The committee is also mandated to recommend its opinion on claims of pharma companies about any additional therapeutic features associated with any formulation.
  • It will also recommend separate ceiling price of scheduled formulations or retail price of any new drug with specified therapeutic rationale.
  • It will also give its opinion on claims of pharma firms about additional pharmacoeconomics features associated with any formulation/Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API).
  • Besides, it will also give opinion on technical related issues such as whether a drug is scheduled or non-scheduled on basis of ingredients used in formulation.
  • It will give opinion on technical issues and claims by pharma companies about novelty associated with indigenous research and development of their products, for granting exemption from price control order for period of 5 years.
  • The recommendations of committee will considered by NPPA which will pass reasoned order on it. The committee will be empowered to invite or co-opt any other specialist depending on exigencies of circumstances requiring resolution of any specific matter arising out of implementation of various provisions of DPCO 2013.

Ministry of Ayush

AROGYA 2017: First International Exhibition and Conference on AYUSH and Wellness sector

  • The first International Exhibition and Conference on AYUSH and Wellness sector- AROGYA 2017 was held in New Delhi.
  • It was inaugurated by AYUSH Minister Shripad Naik.
  • It was organised by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in collaboration with Union Ministry of AYUSH and Ministry of Commerce & Industry and Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council (Pharmexcil).
  • Its theme was ‘Enhancing the global potential of AYUSH’.

Objectives of AROGYA 2017

  • Showcase strengths and scientific validation of Indian System of Medicine in global context.
  • Promote and strengthen awareness and interest about AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa and Homoeopathy).
  • Facilitate international promotion, development and recognition of AYUSH. Foster interaction of stakeholders and market development of AYUSH at international level. Give boost to AYUSH Products in International Market. Exhibit research and latest developments in AYUSH sector and harness its potential.
  • AROGYA 2017 witnessed participation of thousands of delegates from India as well as abroad including delegates from over 60 countries across the world.
  • More than 250 manufacturers of alternative medicine also showcased their products and services at the exhibition.

AYUSH

  • India has long history and culture running over 5000 years of using traditional medicines for health care and developing them with modern scientific outlook.
  • AYUSH is acronym of tradition medical systems that are being practiced in India such as Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy.

Tourism

6th International Tourism Mart 2017 held in Assam

  • The 6th International Tourism Mart (ITM) 2017 was held in Guwahati, Assam.
  • It was inaugurated by Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi, Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal and Union Tourism minister K L Alphons.
  • The three day program was organized by Union Ministry of Tourism in association with all North Eastern states.

Enlighten about the program

  • The focus areas of 6th ITM was to spotlight on India’s “Act East Policy”, blossoming ties with ASEAN and larger East Asia region, home to world’s rapidly growing economies and India’s emerging tourism markets.
  • It also held panel discussions, workshops, business to business (B2B) meetings, cultural programs. Senior officials from Railways, Civil Aviation, DoNER, Road Transport ministry also shared their views for betterment of tourism sector of North East including Assam.

International Tourism Mart

  • The International Tourism Mart is an annual event organised in North Eastern States on rotation basis.
  • Its objective is to highlight tourism potential of region in domestic and international markets.
  • It also brings together tourism business fraternity and entrepreneurs from the eight North Eastern States.
  • The earlier editions of this mart were held in Guwahati, Shillong, Tawang, Gangtok and Imphal.

International Organisations

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

  • The 38th Gulf Cooperation Council summit is being held in Kuwait.
  • The summit comes at a delicate time after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt all cut ties with Qatar in June, accusing Doha of backing extremism and fostering ties with Iran – charges that Qatar vehemently denies.
  • Kuwait has played mediator and acted as a conduit for communication between the boycotting countries and Qatar.

Enlighten about GCC

  • The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a political and economic alliance of six countries in the Arabian Peninsula: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
  • Established in 1981, the GCC promotes economic, security, cultural and social cooperation between the six states and holds a summit every year to discuss cooperation and regional affairs.
  • Due to their geographic proximity, similar political systems and common sociocultural stances, the immediate goal was for these countries to protect themselves from threats after the Iran-Iraq War.

Structure of GCC –

  • The GCC comprises six main branches that carry out various tasks, from the preparation of meetings to the implementation of policies.
  • They are- Supreme Council, Ministerial Council, Secretariat-General, Consultative Commission, Commission for the Settlement of Disputes and the Secretary-General.

Role of GCC today

  • Whether the GCC still has a relevant function and role in the region is questionable.
  • Though it was created for the purpose of solidifying union ranks, the blockade imposed on Qatar by its neighbours has largely annulled these principles.
  • The Gulf states have in the past differed in their views on several issues that have unfolded in the region over the past two decades.
  • The role of the GCC has also been diminishing ever since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, with the six states illustrating various approaches to the war and its consequences.
  • This has been enhanced during the wave of protests that swept the Middle East in 2011, known as the Arab Spring.
  • Saudi Arabia has gained a dominant role within the GCC today.

Science & Tech

Sentinel satellite

  • Sentinel- 5P, a European satellite tracking the levels air pollutants around the world has beamed back new views of the Earth’s atmosphere, including images of pollution drifting away from power plants in India.
  • The worst of this pollution runs from north of Patna in Bihar to south of Raipur in Chhattisgarh.
  • The Sentinel-5P satellite is designed to make daily global maps of the gases and particles that pollute the air.

Enlighten about the Sentinel- 5P satellite

  • Sentinel-5P is the latest spacecraft in a fleet of Earth observers being commissioned by the European Union and the European Space Agency.
  • It was launched into an 824 kilometre high orbit by a Russian rocket on October 13 this year.
  • When fully operational, the new Sentinel will be an extremely powerful tool to monitor air quality.
  • It carries an instrument called Tropomi – a spectrometer that observes the reflected sunlight coming up off the Earth, analysing its many different colours. This helps detect the presence of trace gases such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulphur dioxide, methane, and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere.

First images released

  • The first sample images released by mission scientists show plumes of nitrogen dioxide flowing away from power plants and traffic-choked cities
  • S5P has even captured the ash and sulphur emissions from Agung volcano on the Indonesian island of Bali, which is in the midst of a big eruption

Government Policies

National Policy on Drug Demand Reduction

  • The Centre informed the Supreme Court that it is finalising a National Policy on Drug Demand Reduction to combat the rising menace of drug and alcohol abuse, especially among children
  • 18 States have responded to an advisory sent by the Centre to formulate an action plan for combating drug abuse

Survey being conducted

  • The National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre under the All India Institute of Medical Sciences is conducting a national survey on the extent and pattern of substance use
  • The December 14, 2016 judgment of the Supreme Court ordered the Centre to complete within six months a national survey and generate a national database on substance abuse

Make it a part of school curriculum

  • The court had said the harmful effects of drugs, alcohol and tobacco abuse among children should be made a specific content in the school curriculum under the aegis of New Education Policy proposed by the Centre
  • The verdict quotes from the Census 2011 that 24 crore children, constituting 24% of the population of the country, are adolescent
  • They constitute a vulnerable age group for social, educational, moral and physical development
  • Protecting children from wide-spread prevalence of substance abuse is one of the biggest policy challenges facing India

About the judgment

  • The December 2016 judgment was based on a petition filed by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan highlighting that the fundamental rights of children, especially those suffering from and involved in substance use and abuse, were violated
  • This was due to non-compliance with the government’s action plan for reduction in drug demand and supply

Judiciary

Supreme Court notice to Centre on PIL on laws

Notice to Centre against leprosy discrimination

  • The Supreme Court issued notice to the Centre and states on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking repeal of 119 statutes that allegedly discriminate against leprosy-affected persons
  • The PIL requested that the said Acts be declared unconstitutional

Violating fundamental rights

  • PIL said that the provisions in the said statutes violated the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution

Leprosy

  • Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease (HD), is a long-term infection by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae or Mycobacterium lepromatosis
  • Symptoms that develop include granulomas of the nerves, respiratory tract, skin, and eyes
  • This may result in a lack of ability to feel pain, thus loss of parts of extremities due to repeated injuries or infection due to unnoticed wounds
  • Weakness and poor eyesight may also be present
  • Leprosy is spread between people. This is thought to occur through a cough or contact with fluid from the nose of an infected person
  • Contrary to popular belief, it is not highly contagious
  • Leprosy is curable with a treatment known as multidrug therapy