IASToppers'-CAA-20th-August-2016 2
Current Affairs Analysis

20th August 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Merged Reality; NPPA; CPCB; DNS; ICANN; UNESCAP; XMU-MP-1 ; Gymnothorax indicus; Project Alloy; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
August 20, 2016

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Prices of essential drugs capped

Environment & Ecology

  • Poor air quality across 41 cities in 2015, says CPCB survey

Science & Technology

  • U.S. set to hand over Internet’s naming system to ICANN
  • India ranks 39th in Asia Pacific on fixed broadband

Key Facts for Prelims

  • XMU-MP-1
  • Gymnothorax indicus
  • Project Alloy
  • Merged reality
  • P.V. Sindhu

 

Polity & Governance

Prices of essential drugs capped

Prices of 42 essential medicines have been capped by the Drug price regulator, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), reducing their cost by up to 15 per cent.

  • These medicines are used in treatment of various ailments including tuberculosis, cancer, cardiac diseases, tuberculosis, asthma, epilepsy, rheumatoid arthritis and depression.
  • 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%.

Background:

  • The government had notified DPCO, 2013, which covers 680 formulations, with effect from May 15, 2014, replacing the 1995 order that regulated prices of only 74 bulk drugs.

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.

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.
  • It should be noted that National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) under the Union Ministry of Chemical and Fertiliser decides the ceiling prices essential medicines under The Drug (Prices Control) Order 2013.

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):

National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority

  • 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.
[Ref: The Hindu, BS]

 

Environment & Ecology

Poor air quality across 41 cities in 2015, says CPCB survey

According to a latest analysis released by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), 41 Indian cities with a million-plus population faced bad air quality in nearly 60% of the total days monitored in 2015.

According to the report, what are good days and what are bad days?

  • Days wherein all monitored parameters like sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter are within the prescribed norms were considered good days.
  • While remaining monitoring days when value of one or the other parameter exceeds the norms were categorised as bad days.

Which are considered “million-plus” cities?

  • According to the 2011 Census, there are 46 cities in India with population more than one million and they are termed as “million-plus” cities.

Highlights of the report:

CPCB

  • Coimbatore and Rajkot had highest number of good quality days, while Varanasi, Gwalior and Allahabad didn’t have even one good air quality day among all the days when their air quality was monitored.
  • Most cities recorded high percentage of good days during monsoon season and low percentage of good days during winter season.
  • Coastal cities have recorded higher percentage of good days compared to the land locked cities.
  • The southern and western cities have recorded higher percentage of good days.
[Ref: LiveMint]

 

Science & Technology

U.S. set to hand over Internet’s naming system to ICANN

The U.S. is set to cede power of the Internet’s naming system to a non-profit organisation on October 1, ending the almost 20-year process to hand over a crucial part of the Internet’s governance.

  • The U.S. will give up its power fully to Los Angeles-based ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit organisation.
  • The terms of the change were agreed upon in 2014, but it was not until now that the U.S. said it was finally satisfied that ICANN was ready to make the change.

What is DNS?

  • The Domain Naming System, DNS, is one of the Internet’s most important components.
  • The Domain Name System (DNS) is used to resolve human-readable hostnames like iastoppers.com into machine-readable IP addresses like 192.169.176.151
  • DNS also provides other information about domain names, such as mail services.
  • It pairs the easy-to-remember web addresses with their relevant servers.
  • Without DNS, one would only be able to access websites by typing in its IP address, a series of numbers such as “194.66.82.10”.

Why is DNS important?

  • DNS is like a phone book for the Internet. If you know a person’s name but don’t know their telephone number, you can simply look it up in a phone book. DNS provides this same service to the Internet.
  • When you visit www.iastoppers.com in a browser, your computer uses DNS to retrieve the website’s IP address of 192.169.176.151
  • Without DNS, you would only be able to visit our website (or any website) by visiting its IP address directly, such as http://192.169.176.151

How DNS works?

How DNS works

Background:

  • The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), in March 2016, submitted the plan for the global stewardship of the internet to the US government for review.
  • The plan aims to maintain Internet governance under a “multi-stakeholder” model which avoids control of the online ecosystem by any single governmental body.
  • The plan is the result of an inclusive, global discussion among representatives from government, large and small business, technical experts, civil society, researchers, academics and end users.
  • It provides a comprehensive package to transition the US Government’s stewardship of the internet’s key technical functions, called the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority), and proposes ways to enhance ICANN’s accountability as a fully independent organization.

About the Internet Corporation Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN):

ICANN is the global body that oversees operation and administration of the Internet domain name system.

ICANN

  • It was formed in 1998.
  • It is a not-for-profit partnership of people from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable.
  • It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers.
  • ICANN doesn’t control content on the Internet.
  • It cannot stop spam and it doesn’t deal with access to the Internet. But through its coordination role of the Internet’s naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the Internet.
  • It is responsible for coordinating the maintenance and methodologies of several databases, with unique identifiers, related to the namespaces of the Internet – and thereby, ensuring the network’s stable and secure operation.

Who governs ICANN?

  • ICANN is governed by an internationally diverse Board of Directors overseeing the policy development process.
  • ICANN’s President directs an international staff, working from three continents, who ensure that ICANN meets its operational commitment to the Internet community.
[Ref: The Hindu, Wiki]

 

India ranks 39th in Asia Pacific on fixed broadband

 According to a study by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), India ranks a low 39th in terms of fixed broadband adoption among Asia Pacific countries, with just 1.3 per cent of its citizens subscribing to such a service in 2015.

State-of-ICT-in-Asia-and-the-Pacific-2016--Uncovering-the-Widening-Broadband-Divide

  • The report is titled, ‘State of ICT in Asia and the Pacific 2016: Uncovering the Widening Broadband Divide’.

Highlights of the report:

fixed-broadband-subscriptions

  • India ranks lower than countries such as Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in ESCAP countries in 2015.
  • Hong Kong, New Zealand, Japan, Macao, Australia and Singapore topped the list of 53 countries covered in the report.
  • According to the latest ITU data for 2015, more than half of the global fixed broadband subscriptions are from Asia and the Pacific (52.3%).
  • The report pointed out that this was a dramatic increase from 2005 when subscriptions in the ESCAP region merely constituted 38.1% of the global total fixed broadband subscriptions.
  • However, the subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in the ESCAP region is behind Latin America and the Caribbean, and far lower than Europe and North America.
  • Fixed broadband penetration in Asia and the Pacific is even below the world’s average of 11.2 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in 2015.

About UNESCAP:

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP or ESCAP) is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region.

UNESCAP

  • It is one of the five regional commissions of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, under the administrative direction of the United Nations headquarters.
  • It is located in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • It was established in 1947 (then as the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, ECAFE) to encourage economic cooperation among its member states. The name was changed to the current in 1974.
  • ESCAP has 53 member States and nine Associate members. As well as countries in Asia and the Pacific, it includes France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • ESCAP’s regional focus is managing globalization through programs in environmentally sustainable development, trade, and human rights.
[Ref: The Hindu, Wiki]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

XMU-MP-1

Chinese scientists have discovered a small molecule (new drug) named XMU-MP-1 that can regenerate tissue.

XMU-MP-1

  • It has potential to eliminate transplants of some organs.
  • The drug, XMU-MP-1 can promote repair and regeneration in the liver, intestines and skin.
  • It was found that it has ability to inhibit the activity of two enzymes MST1 and MST2, the central component of this pathway which normally prevent cells from proliferating.

Significance of the findings:

  • This study paves the way for medicines that help to rebuild organs instead of relying on complicated therapeutic strategies such as regenerative cells to specific spots and delivering biomaterials in the body to repair and restore injured tissue.

 

Gymnothorax indicus

Scientists have discovered a new species of eel, a snake-like fish, from the northern Bay of Bengal along the West Bengal coast. The species Gymnothorax indicus is slender-bodied, about one feet-long and edible.

Gymnothorax indicus

Eels are found mostly at the bottom of rivers and seas. This species was found at a depth of 35 metres in the sea.

Globally, about 1,000 species of eels have been identified and, in India, the number is around 125. Though considered a delicacy in many countries like Japan, the consumption of eels in India is limited to coastal areas.

In 2015, a short brown unpatterned moray eel, named Gymnothorax mishrai (Bengal moray eel), was discovered here.

 

Project Alloy

IASToppers'-CAA-20th-August-2016 2

Intel recently unveiled Project Alloy, an all-in-one virtual reality solution.

Alloy delivers a set of new and immersive experiences thanks to Intel’s RealSense technologies that are optimized for VR usages.

It is a headset that uses the RealSense technology enabling people to use their hands to interact with elements of the virtual world. There is no need for cables to connect to the computer.

The device uses Intel RealSense technology, which allows one to see elements from the real world. One can also use one’s hands to interact with elements of the virtual world, merging realities.

 

Merged reality

The merged reality is more dynamic and natural, and allows people to do things that are now impossible. It digitises the real world and allows people to experience the virtual world without coming into conflict with the real world.

In short, mixed reality is when the real and virtual world are merged and objects from both can interact. So, for example, if you were playing a virtual video game, you could pick up your nearby real-life water bottle and hit any gaming character over the head with it.

 

P. V. Sindhu

Pusarla Venkata Sindhu is an Indian professional badminton player.

P.-V.-Sindhu

At the 2016 Summer Olympics, she became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic silver medal.

In 2013, she became the first ever Indian women’s singles player to win a medal at the Badminton World Championships.

In March 2015, she became the youngest recipient of India’s fourth highest civilian honor, the Padma Shri.

Her silver medal win in the women’s singles event of the 2016 Summer Olympics made her the first Indian shuttler to reach the final of an Olympics badminton event and the youngest Indian to make a podium finish in an individual event at the Olympics.

 

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