Polity & Governance
- RCEP draft moots tough curbs on cheap medicines
- Centre issues notification for protection of Good Samaritans
- UDAY bonds fetch Rs. 99,000 crore
Environment & Ecology
- Primate species new to India discovered in Arunachal Pradesh
- 175 countries sign Paris Climate Agreement International Relations
Polity & Governance
RCEP draft moots tough curbs on cheap medicines
According to a report, the draft Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement in its current form could reduce access to affordable medicines in many developing countries.
- The chapter on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is part of the RCEP agreement. This chapter contains proposals for patent extensions, restrictive rules on exceptions to copyright, and dozens of other anti-consumer measures.
- These provisions illustrate the power of rights-holder groups to use secret trade negotiations to influence democratic decisions that impact access to knowledge, the freedom to innovate and the right to health in negative ways.
- India has opposed some damaging proposals initiated by the RCEP members, particularly Japan and Korea, involving patent extensions, restrictive rules on copyright exceptions, and other anti-consumer measures.
- The draft proposals will compel governments to commit to newer Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights provisions like TRIPS plus — including the Patent Law Treaty (Geneva, 2000), which involve harmonisation in the examination of patent applications and requirements of patentability.
The RCEP agreement (FTA) is proposed between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).
- RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.
- The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is among the proposed three mega FTAs in the world so far. The other two are:
- The TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership, led by the US) and
- The TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the US and the EU).
- RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the TPP trade agreement, which includes the United States but excludes China.
Centre issues notification for protection of Good Samaritans
The government has issued a notification for the protection of Good Samaritans in the wake of the Supreme Court (SC) direction on helping accident victims.
The Supreme Court had directed all the states to follow the Centre’s guidelines that encouraged witnesses in road accidents to report to police and also help survivors with medical treatment.
- Centre’s guidelines are based on the recommendations K S Radhakrishnan committee.
- The apex court had also directed the Centre to publish its guidelines notified last year to ensure that all those who help accident victims/survivors were not harassed by the police.
About Standard operating procedure (SOP):
- The SOP for the protection and examination of ‘Good Samaritans’ was framed by the government on the orders passed by the Supreme Court on a PIL plea filed by NGO SaveLIFE Foundation in 2012, highlighting the fact that more lives of accident victims can be saved if a law can be made to protect Good Samaritans from legal and procedural hassles at the hands of police and hospitals.
UDAY bonds fetch Rs.99,000 crore
Eight states have issued bonds worth over Rs 98,959.96 crore under UDAY Bonds scheme in 2015-16.
- The move is aimed at improving operational and financial efficiency of state power distribution companies.
- As part of the scheme, Reserve Bank had issued the special bonds (non-SLR special securities) on behalf of eight state governments in the last fiscal.
- The securities have been issued by the state governments under the Government Securities Act, 2006 and are eligible for market repo.
- The eight states are: Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Bihar, Jharkhand and Haryana.
The Power Ministry had launched UDAY (Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana) on November 20, 2015.
- The scheme is expected to help discoms save around Rs 1.8 lakh crore in the next three years. The cumulative debt of discoms is Rs 4.37 lakh crore.
- UDAY is an effort to make these DISCOMs financially and operationally healthy, to be able to supply adequate power at affordable rates, and enable the Governments to make efforts towards 100% Village electrification and 24X7 Power For All.
- It envisages to reduce interest burden, cost of power and AT&C losses. Consequently, DISCOM would become sustainable to supply adequate and reliable power enabling 24×7 power supply.
- UDAY has inbuilt incentives encouraging State Governments to voluntarily restructure their debts.
- UDAY also provides for measures that will reduce the cost of power generation, which would ultimately benefit consumers.
Environment & Ecology
Primate species new to India discovered in Arunachal Pradesh
A group of wildlife photographers and biologists in India have reported sighting of a new species of primate, the White-Cheeked Macaque, in Arunachal Pradesh.
- The White Cheeked Macaque, hitherto unknown in India, was actually spotted by the team last year, but it took almost a year to confirm by the scientific community before the present announcement was made.
About White Cheeked Macaque:
The White Cheeked Macaque differs considerably from all macaque species such as Raesus Macaque, Arunachal Macaque, Tibetan macaque and Assamese macaque.
- It has relatively hairless short tail, long and thick hair on its neck and chin-whiskers creating a white cheek, among other characteristics.
- White-cheeked macaques are threatened by illegal hunting and potential habitat loss.
175 countries sign Paris Climate Agreement
As many as 175 countries, including India, China and the US, signed the Paris Agreement on climate change at the UN headquarters in New York on 22nd April.
- This was the first day of the signing ceremony of the historic global deal.
- That such a large number of countries signed the agreement in a single day is significant. The previous record for the most countries to sign an international agreement on one day was set in 1982, when 119 countries signed the ‘Law of the Sea Convention’.
About the agreement:
- The agreement aims to take multiple measures to save the world from disastrous consequences of climate change and was adopted by 195 countries in Paris on December 12, 2015.
- The agreement will be open for signature for one year – till April 21, 2017. However, merely signing the agreement will not make it operational. At least 55 countries, that account for an estimated 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions will have to ratify the agreement before it enters into force.