Current Affairs and News Analysis for UPSC Civil Service Examination and State Civil Service Examinations.

Current Affairs and News analysis for UPSC CSE and State CSE

Biodiversity

National Park/Sactuary: Nauradehi sanctuary

Location: Close to Jabalpur city in Madhya Pradesh, Nauradehi wildlife sanctuary (NWLS) is located at the trijunction of Sagar Damoh and Narsingpur districts. It was unknown to outsiders till its name appreared among list of sanctuaries in India which are selected for Cheetah re-introduction Project in India.

  • Cheetah — is the fastest land animal.
  • India was once home to many cheetahs, but the last of them was killed in 1947 (in Chhattisgarh) and the cheetah was declared extinct in India in 1952. It is the only large mammal to have been declared extinct in our country in recorded history.
  • NTCA is a statutory body under the Union Environment Ministry.
  • The Wildlife Institute of India at Dehradun had prepared a ₹260-crore cheetah re-introduction project six years ago.
  • According to the earlier action plan, around 20 cheetahs were to be translocated to Nauradehi from Namibia in Africa. The Namibia Cheetah Conservation Fund had then showed its willingness to donate the felines to India.
  • However, the State was not ready to finance the plan contending that it was the Centre’s project.
  • Reintroducing this beautiful animal will ensure the restoration of our natural heritage. Most importantly, it will contribute towards the conservation of the dryland (grassland, scrubland and open forest) ecosystems that the cheetah inhabits.

IUCN status – In the 2015 update of the IUCN Red List, the Asiatic cheetah is considered regionally extinct in Iraq, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and avifauna observatory

The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), one of India’s premier avian research institutes, will start operating its regional centre on the campus of Wetland Research and Training Centre near Chilika Lake.

The BNHS has been active in avian research in the Chilika Lake, which hosts nearly one million birds with 97 species being intercontinental migratory in nature during the winter season. The avifauna observatory will be inaugurated by BNHS director Deepak Apte.

About BNHS

  • BNHS-India, a pan-India wildlife research organization, has been promoting the cause of nature conservation for the past 133 years, since 1883.
  • BNHS Mission: Conservation of Nature, primarily Biological Diversity through action based on Research, Education and Public Awareness
  • BNHS Vision: Premier independent scientific organization with a broad based constituency, excelling in the conservation of threatened species and habitats.

IR

India and Maldives

Till Now about India and Maldives

  • Turbulent Maldivian politics: Maldives continues its descent into political anarchy with democratic institutions facing an unabated onslaught under the authoritarian regime of President Abdulla Yameen.
  • Maldives growing “closeness” with China: Both China and Pakistan stepping up their strategic inroads into the Maldives
  • Religious radicalization: The island-nation (Maldives) is being radicalized by the Saudi funds and influence
  • ISIS threat: Growing Islamic radicalisation in the tiny island-nation of about four lakh people once known for its tolerant practices has many foreign governments, including India, deeply concerned.
  • No FTA with India: Maldives and India do not have a Free Trade Agreement. However Maldives and China entered into Free Trade Agreement.
  • Yameen government had asked India to remove its Dhruv advanced light helicopters from Maldives (which India had gifted in 2013). Yameen government has alleged that tensions over the presence of the two Indian helicopters in two strategically important locations in the Laamu and Addu atolls have been growing.
  • Work permits are not currently being issued to Indian Nationals.

In News

  • Maldives to extend visa of support staff.
  • After several rounds of talks, there has been indication from the Maldives on its willingness to keep the two helicopters along with the crew and support staff.

Economy/IR/ GS III

G20 Digital Economy Ministerial meeting

G20 Digital Economy Ministerial meeting was held in Argentina.Its member nations agreed to promote policies that will contribute to bridging all forms of the digital divide, with special attention to the digital gender divide.

The countries agreed to promote digital government and digital infrastructure, strengthen the digital skills of the workforce, deepen the analysis towards digital economy measurement, and to share experiences and lesson learned.

GS II/National

Learning from the past on medical device pricing

After having brought down the prices of drugs, the government has medical devices on its agenda. It will soon announce its decision on the method of rationalizing trade margins for medical devices from the first point of sale. The moot point in this debate has been the incidence of high margins, whether they accrue to the distributor or to the hospital.

Profit margin

According to the report of the committee of high trade margins in the sale of drugs, released by the department of pharmaceuticals in 2016, the price to the distributor for both global and indigenous companies was considered from the first point of sale. This report clearly identifies that it is the margin between the price to the distributor and maximum retail price (MRP) that results in the escalation of the latter, and recommends that this should be capped.

Do you Know?

The National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Policy, 2012 (NPPP-2012) provides a pointer to understanding which method to opt for when rationalizing trade margins. Till 2012, the practice followed by the NPPA was a maximum allowable post-marketing expense (Mape) over standardized manufacturing cost or over landing cost of the product.

According to the observations documented in NPPP-2012, the manufacturing cost/landing cost methodology of price capping had led to “possible manipulation” of cost data, resulting in entry barriers. This was neither good for the patient nor for industry growth, and it impacted “the industry’s ability to invest in enhancing in capabilities”. In other words, the techniques that were used for knee and stent price capping have been attempted in the past as well, and, predictably, failed. So why is the government continuing with the same method for knee and stent price capping?

Let’s now look at the demand side.

Who deals with medical devices? The demand comes from doctors at the primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare levels. They need to be aware of the availability of various medical devices for different conditions before treating a patient so that they can guide patients and form an effective referral chain to super-specialty care. For this, the global research-based companies need to invest and support clinicians in education and skill building.

If a patient feels a certain medication is not effective, he will go back to the doctor to change it, but this is not the case when it comes to medical devices. The risk factor is high, as medical devices can’t be replaced without re-operating on patients. So a doctor needs to be well informed about the quality and functionality of the devices for better clinical outcomes.

The government should initiate a collaborative effort with industry to ensure circulation of information on alternative therapies among clinicians. Without this, diagnosis and patient prognosis will not be complete.

Odisha’s plan calls for a national policy on the utility of a second chamber in States

Odisha government is planning to create legislative council or upper house. If it does so successfully, it will be eighth such state having upper house. The State Cabinet has approved a 49-member Legislative Council, accepting the report of a committee set up in 2015 to study the functioning of the second chamber in other States and make recommendations.

Click here to Read More about : Second Chamber in Odisha

Article 169: Abolition or creation of Legislative Councils in States

  • Parliament may by law provide for the abolition or creation of the Legislative Council of a State, if the Legislative Assembly of the State passes a resolution to that effect by a majority of the total membership of the Assembly and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the Assembly present and voting.

Article 171: Composition of the Legislative Councils

  • The total number of members in the Legislative Council of a State shall not exceed one third of the total number of members in the Legislative Assembly of that State, and shall in no case be less than forty.

Article 171: Of the total number of members of the Legislative Council of a State—

  • One-third shall be elected by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards and such other local authorities in the State
  • One-twelfth shall be elected by electorates consisting of persons residing in the State who have been for at least three years graduates
  • One-twelfth shall be elected by electorates consisting of persons who have been for at least three years engaged in teaching not lower than secondary schools
  • One-third shall be elected by the members of the Legislative Assembly of the State from amongst persons who are not members of the Assembly
  • The remainder shall be nominated by the Governor, persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of Literature, science, art, co-operative movement and social service.

The advantages of having a bicameral legislature

  • An Upper House provides a forum for academicians and intellectuals, who are arguably not suited for the rough and tumble of electoral politics.
  • At least on paper, it provides a mechanism for a more sober and considered appraisal of legislation that a State may pass.
  • If there was any real benefit in having a Legislative Council, all States in the country should, and arguably would, have a second chamber.

The objections to the second chamber

  • Rather than fulfilling the lofty objective of getting intellectuals into the legislature, the forum is likely to be used to accommodate party functionaries who fail to get elected.
  • It is also an unnecessary drain on the exchequer.
  • The graduates are no longer a rare breed, with dipping educational standards, a graduate degree is no guarantee of any real intellectual heft.
  • Why should graduates be privileged as people’s representatives in a democracy?
  • Legislatures draw their talent both from the grassroots level and the higher echelons of learning. There are enough numbers of doctors, teachers and other professionals in most political parties today.
  • The Rajya Sabha’s case is different as it represents the States rather than electoral constituencies. It is also a restraining force against the dominance of elected majorities in legislative matters.
  • The fact that there are only seven such Councils suggests the lack of any real advantage, apart from the absence of a broad political consensus on the issue.

Finally we can say that

Legislative Councils are subject to varied and inconclusive discussions around their creation, revival and abolishment. Given all this, Odisha’s proposal may give the country at large an opportunity to evolve a national consensus on Legislative Councils.