Polity & Governance
- NPPA fixes retail price of 30 drug formulations
Government Schemes & Policies
- Maharashtra becomes the first state to unveil public cloud policy
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Microwaves could be as bad for environment as cars, says study
Bilateral & International Relations
- 10th Global Forum for Food & Agriculture
Defence & Security Issues
- Successful Fifth flight test of Agni-5 Ballistic Missile
- Home Ministry pitches for Budapest Convention on cyber security
- Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS)
- Centre plans setting up of Cyber Warrior Police Force to tackle internet-related crimes
Key Facts for Prelims
- Romania to have first female prime minister
- iCREATE facility
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Polity & Governance
NPPA fixes retail price of 30 drug formulations
Drug price regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has fixed retail price for 30 drug formulations, including those used for treatment of diabetes, bacterial infections and high blood pressure.
- NPPA fixes ceiling price of essential medicines of Schedule I under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order (DPCO) 2013.
- The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has also revised the prices of three formulations, including that of anti cancer drug — Gemcitabine.
What are Essential medicines?
- Essential medicines, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) are those drugs that satisfy the health care needs of the majority of the population; they should therefore be available at all times in adequate amounts and in appropriate dosage forms, at a price the community can afford.
How price of essential drugs is decided?
- In respect of medicines that are not under price control, manufacturers are allowed to increase the maximum retail price by 10% annually. The calculation for essential drugs is based on the simple average of all medicines in a particular therapeutic segment with sales of more than 1 percent.
About National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM):
- The NLEM is a dynamic list and reviewed every three years to include or exclude drugs as relevant to the newest medical innovations and aligned to the current market competition.
The Indian government recognized the national list of essential medicines as a key instrument in balanced healthcare delivery system which includes accessible, affordable and quality medicine at the primary, secondary, tertiary levels of healthcare.
About National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA):
- NPPA is an organization of the Government of India which was established, inter alia, to fix/ revise the prices of controlled bulk drugs and formulations and to enforce prices and availability of the medicines in the country, under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995.
- The organization is also entrusted with the task of recovering amounts overcharged by manufacturers for the controlled drugs from the consumers.
- It also monitors the prices of decontrolled drugs in order to keep them at reasonable levels.
Functions of National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority:
- To implement and enforce the provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order in accordance with the powers delegated to it.
- To deal with all legal matters arising out of the decisions of the Authority.
- To monitor the availability of drugs, identify shortages, if any, and to take remedial steps.
- To collect/ maintain data on production, exports and imports, market share of individual companies, profitability of companies etc., for bulk drugs and formulations.
- To undertake and/ or sponsor relevant studies in respect of pricing of drugs/ pharmaceuticals.
- To recruit/ appoint the officers and other staff members of the Authority, as per rules and procedures laid down by the Government.
- To render advice to the Central Government on changes/ revisions in the drug policy.
- To render assistance to the Central Government in the parliamentary matters relating to the drug pricing.
Government Schemes & Policies
Maharashtra becomes the first state to unveil public cloud policy
Maharashtra has come out with a public cloud policy virtually mandating its departments to shift their data storage onto the cloud, which intends to make them available for free to the general public.
- With this, Maharashtra becomes the first state to unveil public cloud policy.
- In addition, the State Cabinet has also approved State Innovation and Start-up Policy to attract Rs.5,000 crore investments in development of incubation and start-ups. It will be applicable till 2022.
Need for such policy:
- The government produces 1.25 lakh documents every day. Most of them are being stored at 75 centralised data centres, resulting in a high maintenance cost.
With the public cloud, the government by skipping to invest on these centres, would reduce expenditure on IT resources.
Key features of the state policy:
- Once the policy is implemented and the data stored on the cloud, the access to the public cloud services will either be free or on a pay-per-usage model.
- The State policy is compliant with the Union government’s National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy, 2012, which mandates facilitation of access to government-owned shareable data in human readable and machine readable forms.
- Under the policy framework, state government will make mandatory its various departments for storing data within country and to use public cloud in cases wherever Right to Information Act (RTI) is applicable. Later, it will also allow for enhanced security features for private and sensitive data to be stored on the cloud.
Significance of this policy:
- The public cloud policy will accelerate e-governance, and open an area for private sector investments, taking new technologies to all the departments as the government is the biggest data creator and consumer.
- The policy will create a $2 billion opportunity for the industry.
- According to experts, public perception even of the blockchain technology — an open source ledger — is still connected to the security aspect. Such systems are not hack-proof, and users will ask questions of it for now.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Microwaves could be as bad for environment as cars, says study
Researchers at the University of Manchester have carried out the first ever comprehensive study of the environmental impacts of microwaves, considering their whole life cycle, from ‘cradle to grave’.
About the study:
- The study used life cycle assessment (LCA) to estimate the impacts of microwaves, taking into account their manufacture, use and end-of-life waste management.
- Altogether, the research team investigated 12 different environmental factors, including climate change, depletion of natural resources and ecological toxicity.
What the study found?
- Microwaves emit 7.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year in the EU. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of 6.8 million cars.
- Microwaves across the EU consume an estimated 9.4 terawatts per hour (TWh) of electricity every year. This is equivalent to the annual electricity generated by three large gas power plants.
- Microwaves account for the largest percentage of sales of all type of ovens in the European Union (EU), with numbers set to reach nearly 135 million by 2020.
Effects of microwaves on environment:
- The research shows that the main environmental ‘hotspots’ are materials used to manufacture the microwaves, the manufacturing process and end-of-life waste management. For example, the manufacturing process alone contributes more than 20% to depletion of natural resources and to climate change.
- However, it is electricity consumption by microwaves that has the biggest impact on the environment, taking into account its whole life cycle, from production of fuels to generation of electricity. In total, microwaves across the EU consume an estimated 9.4 terawatts per hour (TWh) of electricity every year.
- The study found that, on average, an individual microwave uses 573 kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity over its lifetime of eight years. That is equivalent to the electricity consumed by a 7 watt LED light bulb, left on continuously for almost nine years. This is despite the fact that microwaves spend more than 90% of their lifetime being idle, in the stand-by mode.
- Waste is another major problem. Due to their relative low cost and ease of manufacture, consumers are throwing more electrical and electronic (EE) equipment away than ever before, including microwaves. ‘Consumers now tend to buy new appliances before the existing ones reach the end of their useful life as electronic goods have become fashionable and ‘status’ items.
- Another major contributing factor to the waste is a reduced lifespan of microwaves.
Suggestions put forth by the report:
- Efforts to reduce consumption should focus on improving consumer awareness and behaviour to use appliances more efficiently.
- Therefore, efforts to reduce consumption should focus on improving consumer awareness and behaviour to use appliances more efficiently.
- Also, existing regulation will not be sufficient to reduce the environmental impacts of microwaves. It is necessary to develop specific regulations for these devices targeting their design. This will help to reduce the amount of resources used to make microwaves and waste generated at the end of their lifetime.
Bilateral & International Relations
10th Global Forum for Food & Agriculture
The 10th edition of Global Forum for Food & Agriculture was held in Berlin, Germany from 18th -20th January 2018.
- The theme of this year’s event is “Shaping the future of livestock – sustainably, responsibly, efficiently”.
- The event also included 10th Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference.
- The discussions during the conference focussed on sustainable and productive animal production among other issues.
Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA)
The GFFA is international conference that focuses on central questions concerning future of global agri-food industry.
- It is world’s largest conference of agriculture ministers.
- It is held during International Green Week (IGW).
- It provides common platform to representatives from worlds of politics, business, science and civil society opportunity to share ideas and enhance understanding on selected topic of current agricultural policy.
About International Green Week (IGW):
- The International Green Week (IGW) is a one-of-a-kind international exhibition of the food, agriculture and gardening industries.
- IGW was established in 1926.
- IGW is an important international trade fair held annually in Berlin, Germany.
- Ever since, food producers from all over the world have utilized the IGW to introduce new products, to test market food and establish brand identities.
- The International Green Week in Berlin is considered the world’s biggest consumer fair for the food, agricultural, and horticultural industries.
Defence & Security Issues
Successful Fifth flight test of Agni-5 Ballistic Missile
Long Range Surface-to-Surface Ballistic Missile, Agni-5, was successfully flight tested for its full range from Dr Abdul Kalam Island, Odisha.
- This was the fifth test of the Missile and the third consecutive one from a canister on a road mobile launcher.
- All the five missions have been successful.
- The Agni-5 is three-stage solid propellant nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
- It has a range of over 5,000 km covering almost all of Asia including Pakistan and China and Europe.
- It is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead of more than one tonne.
- It is three-stage solid propellant ICBM indigenously developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- India describes the Agni – 5 missile system as a ‘weapon of peace’.
- Unlike other missiles of Agni series, Agni-5 is the most advanced having new technologies incorporated with it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine.
- It carries Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRV) payloads. A single MIRV equipped missile that can deliver multiple warheads at different targets.
- It also incorporates advanced technologies involving ring laser gyroscope and accelerometer for navigation and guidance.
- The missile will enhance India’s strategic and deterrence capabilities.
- Once this missile is inducted in Services, India will join the super exclusive club of countries having ICBMs (missiles with a range of over 5,000-5,500km) alongside the US, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom.
- The first missile of the series, Agni-I was developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program and tested in 1989.
- At present India in its armoury of Agni missile series, possesses Agni-I (700 km range), Agni-II (2000 km range), Agni-3 (2,500 km range) and Agni-4 (more than 3,500 range).
Centre plans setting up of Cyber Warrior Police Force to tackle internet-related crimes
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided to set up Cyber Warrior Police Force (CWPF) and Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) to tackle internet-related crimes such as cyber threats, child pornography and online stalking.
- These divisions will be set up under MHA’s newly created Cyber & Information Security (CIS) Division.
About the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (CIC):
- The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre will be set up under the newly created Cyber and Information Security (CIS) division of the MHA.
- CIS will have four wings, namely security clearance, cybercrime prevention, cyber security and information security.
- The I4C will assist in centralising cyber security investigations, prioritise the development of response tools and bring together private companies to contain the menace.
About Cyber Warrior Police Force (CWPF)
- The CWPF is likely to operate under National Information Security Policy and Guidelines wing of MHA’s CIS division.
- It is proposed to be raised on lines of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF).
- So far, there has been no decision on the CWPF’s jurisdiction, where it will derive its powers or personnel from and whether it will be empowered to make arrests.
- Asia is the region most targeted by cyber-attackers, resulting in significant economic losses.
- As the region continues to play a key role in the global economic market, these cyber threats are expected to increase.
- Over 460 million people in India currently use the internet, leaving them vulnerable to online criminals – both individuals and organised syndicates.
- The government has decided to hire IT experts from premier public and private institutes, including IITs, to help fight new age crimes like online fraud, hacking, identity theft, dark net, trafficking, child pornography, online radicalisation and cyber-terrorism and prepare a roadmap for Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre.
Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS)
As part of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS), Coimbatore police have launched the facility to serve summons to witnesses through Short Messaging Service (SMS) on mobile phones.
- Tamil Nadu state police have successfully implemented the CCTNS mission mode project under National e-Governance programme in all the 1,913 FIR registering units of the Tamil Nadu police.
What is CCTNS project?
- Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) is a Mission Mode Project (MMP) under the National e-Governance Plan of Govt. of India.
- CCTNS is a project initiated in June 2009 which aims at creating a comprehensive and integrated system for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of policing at the Police Station level.
- This will be done through adoption of principles of e-Governance, and creation of a nationwide networked infrastructure for evolution of IT-enabled state-of-the-art tracking system around “investigation of crime and detection of criminals”.
- The Project will interconnect about 15000 Police Stations and additional 5000 offices of supervisory police officers across the country and digitize data related to FIR registration, investigation and charge sheets in all Police Stations.
- It will not only automate Police functions at Police station and higher levels but will also create facilities and mechanism to provide public services like registration of online complaints, ascertaining the status of case registered at the police station, verification of persons etc.
- In 2015, an additional objective of establishing a basic platform for an Inter-operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) was added to the Project.
- The Full implementation of the Project with all the new components would lead to a Central citizen portal having linkages with State level citizen portals that will provide a number of citizen friendly services like Police Verification for various purposes including passport verification, reporting a crime including cyber-crime and online tracking of the case progress etc.
- The project will enable National level crime analytics to be published at increased frequency, which will help the policy makers as well as lawmakers in taking appropriate and timely action, it will also enable Pan-India criminal/accused name search in the regional language for improved inter-state tracking of criminal movement.
- This would lead to development of a national database of crimes and criminals.
Home Ministry pitches for Budapest Convention on cyber security
Making a strong pitch to sign the Budapest Convention on cyber crime, the Ministry of Home Affairs recently flagged the need for international cooperation to check cyber crime, radicalisation and boost data security.
- However, the move is being opposed by the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
- India was reconsidering its position on becoming a member of the Budapest Convention because of the surge in cyber crime, especially after a push for digital India.
Why the move is opposed by IB?
- The move is being opposed by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) on the grounds that sharing data with foreign law enforcement agencies infringes on national sovereignty and may jeopardise the rights of individuals.
What is Budapest Convention?
The Convention on Cybercrime or Budapest Convention is the only binding multilateral treaty instrument aimed at combating cybercrime.
- It was drafted by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France with active participation from its observer states in 2001.
- It was drawn up with the active participation of the Council of Europe’s observer states Canada, Japan, South Africa and the United States.
- The Convention has 56 members, including the US and the UK.
- The Convention provides a framework for international cooperation between state parties to the treaty.
- It is open for ratification even to states that are not members of the Council of Europe.
- The Convention is the only substantive multilateral agreement with a stated objective of addressing cybercrime with convergent, harmonized legislation and capability building. Therefore, it is widely recognized as a decisive document on international best practice and enjoys compliance even from non-signatory states.
- Most model legislation and attempts at drafting a new international instrument on cybercrime have also relied on the principles expounded in this Convention.
- The Budapest Convention is also supplemented by an Additional Protocol to the Convention which was adopted in 2003.
Offences under the Convention:
- The Budapest Convention provides for the criminalisation of conduct, ranging from illegal access, data and systems interference to computer-related fraud and child pornography, procedural law tools to make investigation of cybercrime and securing of e-evidence in relation to any crime more effective, and international police and judicial cooperation on cybercrime and e-evidence.
Key Facts for Prelims
Romania to have first female prime minister
- Viorica Dancila has been named as Romania’s first female PM.
- Ms Dancila is Romania’s third prime minister in seven months.
Location of Romania:
- Romania is a sovereign state located in Southeastern Europe.
- It borders the Black Sea, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, and Moldova.
- The River Danube, Europe’s second-longest river, rises in Germany and flows in a general southeast direction for 2,857 km, coursing through ten countries before emptying into Romania’s Danube Delta.
- Prime Minister Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu dedicated to the nation the iCreate facility.
- It is located at Deo Dholera Village in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
What is iCreate?
- iCreate is an independent Centre established with an objective of facilitating entrepreneurship through blend of creativity, innovation, engineering, product design and leveraging emerging technologies.
- iCreate aims to develop an ecosystem in India to generate quality entrepreneurs.
- Its main purpose is foster innovation to deal with major issues such as food security, water, connectivity, cybersecurity, IT and electronics, energy, bio-medical equipment and devices etc.