Polity & Governance
- Vigilance Awareness Week to be observed from 28th October to 2nd November
Issues related to Health & Education
- New guidelines for peritoneal dialysis services
- Guidelines Released for Evaluation of Nanopharmaceuticals in India
- Supreme Court dismisses telcos’ definition of AGR, upholds all dues payable to govt
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Doubt over future of Antarctic ocean sanctuary plans
- No country on sustainable transport track: Global mobility report
Art & Culture
- Buddhist structure collapses in Vizag after heavy rainfall
Key Facts for Prelims
- Raksha Mantri approves issuance of two OGELs for export of certain parts and components
- J&K’s Chenani-Nashri Tunnel renamed after Shyama Prasad Mukherjee
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Polity & Governance
Vigilance Awareness Week to be observed from 28th October to 2nd November
The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) observes the Vigilance Awareness Week from 28th October to 2nd November, 2019.
About Vigilance Awareness Week
- Vigilance Awareness Week is observed every year during the week in which the birthday of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (31st October) falls.
- The theme for Vigilance Awareness Week 2019 is ‘Integrity- A way of life’.
- The establishment of ‘Integrity Clubs’ in schools and colleges to cultivate ethical values in the leaders of tomorrow.
- ‘Awareness Gram Sabhas’ are organized for dissemination of awareness in Gram Panchayats (in rural and semi-urban areas) to sensitize the rural citizens about the ill-effects of corruption.
About Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)
- The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is the main agency for preventing corruption in the Central government.
- It was established in 1964 by an executive resolution of the Central government, on the recommendations of Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption(1962–64).
- The CVC was neither a constitutional body nor a statutory body. Later, in 2003, the Parliament enacted a law conferring statutory statuson the CVC.
- In 2004, the CVC has been designated as the agency to receive and act on complaints or disclosure on any allegation of corruption or misuse of office from whistle blowers under the “Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Informers’ Resolution” (PIDPI), which is popularly known as “Whistle Blowers” Resolution.
- It has all the powers of a Civil courtwhile conducting any inquiry.
- The Commission is also empowered as the only designated agency to take action against complainants making motivated or vexatious complaints.
- The CVC is conceived to be the apex vigilance institution.
- The CVC consists of a Central Vigilance Commissioner (chairperson) and not more than two vigilance commissioners, appointed by the presidenton the recommendation of a three-member committee consisting of the prime minister as its head, the Union minister of home affairs and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
- They hold office for a term of four years or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. After their tenure, they are not eligible for further employment.
Role and Functions
- Exercise superintendence over the functioning of the Delhi Special Police Establishment(DSPE) insofar as it relates to the investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988; or an offence under the Cr.PC for certain categories of public servants.
- To inquire or cause an inquiry or investigation to be made into any complaint received against any official belonging to such category of officials specified in CVC Act, 2003.
- Tender advice to the Central Governmentand its organizations on such matters as may be referred to it by them.
- Exercise superintendence over the vigilance administrationsof the various Central Government Ministries, Departments and Organizations of the Central Government.
Issues related to Health & Education
New guidelines for peritoneal dialysis services
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has come out with a set of guidelines for establishing peritoneal dialysis services under the Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme.
Types of dialysis
There are two main types of dialysis, which are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
Hemodialysis (HD, commonly known as blood dialysis):
- In HD, the blood is filtered through a machine that acts like an artificial kidney and is returned back into the body.
- HD needs to be performed in a designated dialysis centre. It is usually needed about 3 times per week, with each episode taking about 3-4 hours.
Peritoneal dialysis (PD, commonly known as water dialysis):
- In PD, the blood is cleaned without being removed from the body. A solution (mainly made up of salts and sugars) is injected into the abdomen that encourages filtration such that the waste is transferred from the blood to the solution.
- There are 2 types of PD – continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) and automated peritoneal dialysis (APD).
- CAPD needs to be done 3 to 5 times every day, but does not require a machine. APD uses an automated cycler machine to perform 3 to 5 exchanges during the night while the patient is asleep.
- Close medical supervision is not required for most PD cases, thus making it a feasible option for patients who may want to undergo dialysis in the home setting.
How is peritoneal dialysis performed?
- During peritoneal dialysis, a cleansing fluid (dialysate) is circulated through a tube (catheter) inside a part of the abdominal cavity (peritonealcavity).
- The dialysate absorbs waste products from blood vessels in the abdominal lining (peritoneum) and then is drawn back out of the body and discarded.
About the new guidelines
- In the first phase of this Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme, government set up the haemodialysis centres in all districts. Now, it has been expanded to include peritoneal dialysis considering that it offers patient autonomy and would help reduce the demand on healthcare system.
- The new guidelines, among other things, envisage providing training to community health workers to provide support to persons on peritoneal dialysis at home or in primary health care settings.
Objective of the new guidelines
- To serve as a manual to states and providers of peritoneal dialysis to for delivery of high quality services.
- To achieve equity in patient access to home-based peritoneal dialysis and reduce the overall cost of care.
About Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme
- The Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme was launched 2016 as part of the National Health Mission (NHM) for provision of free dialysis services to the poor.
- Every year, about 2.2 Lakh new patients of End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) get added in India resulting in additional demand for 3.4 Crore dialysis every year.
- With approximately 5000 dialysis centres, largely in the private sector in India, the demand is less than half met with existing infrastructure.
- Besides, most families have to undertake frequent trips, and often over long distances to access dialysis services incurring heavy travel costs and loss of wages for the patient.
Guidelines Released for Evaluation of Nanopharmaceuticals in India
The Union Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare released Guidelines for Evaluation of Nanopharmaceuticals in India.
About the Guidelines for Evaluation of Nanopharmaceuticals
- The Guidelines are developed by Department of Biotechnology (Ministry of Science & Technology), Indian Council of Medical Research and Central Drugs Standard Control Organization.
- The guidelines will apply to the nanopharmaceuticals in the form of finished formulation as well as Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) of a new molecule or an already approved molecule with altered property.
- Facilitate research in line with the regulatory requirements.
- Facilitate the decision making by regulator during clearances to newer products based on nanotechnology and similarly to researchers to get clearance for their products to launch in market.
- Facilitate end users by the quality assured anticipated products in the market
- Will give impetus to initiate activities for developing safety guidelines for other domains like agri-inputs and agri-products, cosmetics, implantable devices, through interventions of nanotechnology.
- Will pave the way for significant benefits through such cutting edge technology and contribute to the mission on “Affordable Health Care for All”.
What is nanopharmaceutical?
- A nanopharmaceutical is defined as a pharmaceutical preparation containing nanomaterials intended for internal use or external application on human for the purpose of therapeutics, diagnostics and health benefits.
- The nanomaterial is generally defined as material having particle size in the range of 1 to 100 However, if a material exhibits unique phenomenon which are attributable to its dimension beyond nanoscale range up to 1000 nm, the material should also be considered as nanomaterial.
Need for Nanopharmaceuticals
- A long-standing issue in the drug industry is the difficulty of delivering the correct dose of vaccine/a particular active agent to a specific disease site. Since this is generally unachievable, active agents have to be administered in excessively high doses, thereby increasing the odds of toxic side effects.
- Nanopharmaceuticals have enormous potential in addressing this failure of traditional therapeutics as they offer site-specific targeting of active agents.
- Such precision targeting via nanopharmaceuticals will reduce toxic systemic side effects, resulting in better patient compliance.
- Nanopharmaceuticals can also increase drug half-life by reducing immunogenicity and diminishing drug metabolism.
- With these advantages, nanopharmaceuticals have the ability to extend the economic life of proprietary drugs, thereby creating additional revenue streams.
- Also, Nanopharmaceuticals often offer an advantage of their reduced size.
[Ref: PIB, Down To Earth]
Supreme Court dismisses telcos’ definition of AGR, upholds all dues payable to govt
The Supreme Court has upheld the definition of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) calculation as stipulated by the Department of Telecommunications.
- This means that telecom companies will have to pay up as much as Rs 92,642 crore to the government, more than half of which are owed by Airtel and Vodafone.
What is Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR)?
- AGR is the usage and licensing fee that telecom operators are charged by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
- Telecom operators are required to pay licence fee and spectrum charges in the form of ‘revenue share’ to the Centre. The revenue amount used to calculate this revenue share is termed as the AGR.
What is the issue?
- As per DoT, the AGR charges are calculated based on all revenues earned by a telecom companies including non-telecom related sources such as deposit interests and asset sales.
Telecom companies’ argument
- On the other side, Telecom companies are arguing that AGR should only include the revenues generated from telecom services.
Now, the supreme court ruled in favour of DoT. Hence, Telecom firms will be required to include the non-core income for calculation of AGR. This will force them to pay the government more than Rs 92,000 crore extra, including disputed demand, interest and penalty.
- In 2005, the Cellular Operators Association of India challenged the DoT’s definition for AGR calculation.
- Subsequently, in 2015, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) ruled in favour of telecom companies and said that the AGR should not include revenue from non-core sources such as rent, profit on the sale of fixed assets, dividend, interest etc.
- A single-judge bench of the Tripura High Court also ruled in 2018 that the revenue of telcos from ‘non-licensed activities’ could not be included while computing AGR.
- However, DoT filed an appeal before the Supreme Court, citing that the TDSAT had no jurisdiction on the validity of terms and conditions of licenses.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Doubt over future of Antarctic ocean sanctuary plans
A push by Australia and France to create a massive ocean sanctuary in east Antarctica is in doubt as nations meet in Hobart to discuss the plans, with China and Russia opposing.
About the East Antarctic marine park
- East Antarctic marine park was proposed by the Australia, France and the European Union in 2010.
Significance of proposed East Antarctic marine park
- Conserve biodiversity in the high latitudes of the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean as contains distinctive deep water flora and fauna and supports important ecosystem roles.
- Provide scientific reference zones to assist with understanding the effects of fishing outside the MPAs as well as the consequences of climate change on Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems.
Areas under proposed East Antarctic marine park
- The MacRobertson area: It has highly productive coastal and oceanic food webs near the kerguelen islands.
- The Drygalski area: It is important for its diverse sea floor environment on the shelf and slope, particularly in relation to canyons and ice shelves.
- The D’Urville Sea-Mertz area: It is an important area for understanding of climate change as a site of Antarctic Bottom Water formation, which drives global ocean circulation and traps greenhouse gases. Due to this process, the area supports a range of habitats not found anywhere else.
- The proposed East Antarctic marine park has repeatedly been opposed, especially by China and Russia, at meetings of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).
- The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), part of Antarctic Treaty, establishes the marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean.
- It has two existing MPAs, one on the South Orkney Islands southern shelf (established in 2009), and the other in the Ross Sea region (established in 2016).
- It is also considering two other marine park proposals, in the Weddell Sea and the Antarctic Peninsula.
No country on sustainable transport track: Global mobility report
Not a single country is on track to achieve sustainability in the transportation sector and attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mandated by the United Nations, according to a report by Sustainable Mobility for All (SuM4All) initiative.
About the Global Roadmap of Action Toward Sustainable Mobility (GRA) report
- Global Roadmap of Action Toward Sustainable Mobility (GRA) is a tool to guide government on how to achieve safe and green mobility.
- Ther report provides a catalogue of policy measures that have been used around the world to achieve four policy goals:
- Universal access,
- Green mobility and
- It helps countries identify appropriate policies to ensure that transport contributes to attain the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
- The report classified all countries into four categories from A to D (‘D’ being the lowest performing), based on key indicators. India is classified in C category.
Highlights of the Global Roadmap of Action Toward Sustainable Mobility (GRA)
- Developed countries outperformed developing countries on all mobility policy goals, except per capita transport-related greenhouse gas emissions. The burden of safety and air pollution is higher on developing countries compared with the developed countries.
- In developed countries, universal urban access averages 32 kilometres per million residents. In developing countries, the same indicator averaged only 4.
- More than one-third of the global rural population, lack access to all-weather roads and transport services.
India specific Highlights
About Global Roadmap for Action (GRA):
- The report charted a Global Roadmap for Action (GRA), which provides a catalogue of policy measures that have been used and tested around the world to achieve four policy goals — universal access, efficiency, green mobility and safety.
- The GRA will help countries to identify gaps, crucial steps and appropriate policies to ensure that transport sector contributes to attain the SDGs by 2030.
GRA will work in three ways to the policy agenda on mobility:
- Charting mobility performances of 183 developed and developing countries.
- Providing a catalogue of suitable policy measures that have been used and tested around the world to achieve any of the four policy goals.
- Laying out a methodology to extract from this catalogue of policies those measures that are most impactful and relevant to a country’s context.
About SuM4All initiative
- The SuM4All initiative, launched in 2017, is an umbrella platform that brings together 55 public and private organisations and companies to act collectively to implement the SDGs and transform the transport sector.
Art & Culture
Buddhist structure collapses in Vizag after heavy rainfall
The mahastupa of the 2,000-year-old Buddhist heritage site of Thotlakonda, reconstructed in 2016 by the state archaeology department, collapsed during torrential rainfall.
In 2015, despite objections from Intach (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) and heritage activists, the Andhra Pradesh government reconstructed the structure using modern bricks, building material and rocks on the excavated base of the original stupa.
About the Thotlakonda Buddhist Complex
- Thotlakonda Buddhist Complex is situated on a hill near Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
- It has been declared a protected monument by the government Andhra Pradesh.
- Buddhist architectural residues founded from the Thotlakonda Buddhist site can be primarily classified into three categories: religious, civil and secular.
- Excavations here include a Hinayana Buddhist Mahastupa, votive stupas, a stone pillared congregation hall, rock-cut cisterns, an apsidal and circualr chaitya-griha, viharas, a kitchen complex with three halls and a refectory (dining hall).
- The excavations also reveal Satavahana dynasty lead and Roman silver coins indicating foreign trade.
- The excavations also yielded twelve inscriptions in the Brahmi script.
Key Facts for Prelims
Raksha Mantri approves issuance of two OGELs for export of certain parts and components
Defence Minister has approved issuance of two Open General Export Licences (OGELs) for export of certain parts and components and intra-company transfer of technology to select countries.
- The application processing and grant of OEGL will be taken care of by the Department of Defence Production.
About Open General Export Licences (OGELs)
- The open General Licence is a type of license that is used for the export license that is issued by the government for domestic suppliers.
- It is a one-time export licence and will be granted to a company for a specific period (two years initially).
- The items that are to be exported in India are categorised into three types. They are prohibited items, restricted items, and freely importable items.
- The primary aim of the OEGL is to give a boost to the defence exports of India. This will also improve the ease of doing business and imports and exports.
Countries allowed for Export
- The countries which are allowed under the OGELs are: USA, Canada, Belgium, France, UK, Spain, Germany, Sweden, South Africa, Japan, Mexico, and Poland.
- There will be no exports to Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
Items included for Export
- The components of ammunition and fuse setting devices which will not include energetic and explosive materials.
- Firing control and other related equipment for alerting and warning purposes.
- Body protective items and related system.
Items that are excluded from the Export
- A complete aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are excluded. Any other components that are designed or modified in any way for UAVs are excluded under this license.
J&K’s Chenani-Nashri Tunnel renamed after Shyama Prasad Mukherjee
The decision to rename the tunnel comes over two months after abrogation of the provisions of Article 370.
About the Chenani-Nashri Tunnel
- Chenani-Nashri Tunnel (9 km), inaugurated in 2017, reduces the distance between Jammu and Srinagar by 30 km.
- It is India’s first and the world’s sixth tunnel to have transverse ventilation system, providing fresh air to passengers.
- This single-tube bi-directional tunnel provides all-weather route to commuters travelling from Jammu and Udhampur to Ramban, Banihal and Srinagar.
- The tunnel is a part of National Highway Authority of India’s (NHAI’s) project between Jammu and Srinagar, along the National Highway 44.
Why renamed the tunnel after Shyama Prasad Mukherjee?
- In 1953, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee was arrested from Lakhanpur in an illegal manner without any FIR or warning and was taken to Srinagar through Chenani-Nashri road.
About Shyama Prasad Mukherjee
- Was the independent India’s first Minister of Industry and Supply.
- Demanded the partition of Bengal in 1946 to prevent the inclusion of its Hindu-majority areas in a Muslim-dominated East Pakistan.
- After he left the Indian National Congress due to difference of opinion with the Jawaharlal Nehru on Jammu and Kashmir issues, he co- founded Janata Party in 1977-1979, which later on became the Bharatiya Janata Party.
- He died after being arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir State police for entering the state without permit. He passed away in jail under mysterious circumstances.