Polity & Governance
- Fund crunch hits Indian drug trial
- SC does U-turn, admits plea for Court of Appeal
- New BRICS bank set to fund green energy projects
- 13th World Spice Congress begins in Ahmedabad
- Satellite Centre in Vietnam
- U.S. test-fires ICBMs to show rivals its power
Polity & Governance
Fund crunch hits Indian drug trial
A recent study has revealed that lack of funds has hit the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and has prevented it from conducting a drug trial to test a novel drug-regimen for tuberculosis (TB).
- In January 2014, the Drug Controller General of India approved a phase 2b trial (a limited test of a prospective drug in humans to prove its potency) to test a combination of three TB drugs to treat multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).
- The promise of this combination — called PaMZ (PA-824 + moxifloxacin + pyrazinamide) — is to cut treatment time by at least a third. Moreover, it was purportedly effective even when tested on HIV patients.
- The drug, developed in collaboration with the international Global Alliance on Tuberculosis, was to enter phase 3, or large-scale trials last year in South Africa.
Most drugs that are available in India are reverse-engineered versions of drugs developed in Europe or the United States. Since 2015, however, the OSDD has been shut down as a CSIR project. Hence, it is uncertain whether funds would be available next year.
Significance of these trials:
- According to the World Health Organisation, TB kills an estimated 1.5 million people annually, and is one of the world’s deadliest diseases.
- There were also approximately 190,000 deaths from MDR-TB in 2014 and more than half of these patients were in India, China and the Russian Federation.
- Currently, people with MDR-TB require 18 to 24 months of treatment, with several pills and daily injections for at least six months.
- Apart from the health benefits, the drug trial would have been the first such attempt by the CSIR-led Open Source Drug Development (OSDD) consortium — an initiative to discover and test new drugs for infectious diseases that are widespread in poor countries by using expertise outside the confines of traditional pharmaceutical companies — to test a new drug in India.
SC does U-turn, admits plea for Court of Appeal
The Supreme Court has admitted a Chennai lawyer’s petition for setting up a National Court of Appeal with regional benches to act as the final courts of justice in criminal and civil cases.
- With this, the court has questioned the past views of its own Chief Justices of India about bifurcation of judicial powers and a government order in 2014 that such a court of appeal is constitutionally impermissible.
About the proposed court:
The proposed court is meant to act as final arbiter of appeals against decisions of the High Courts and tribunals in civil, criminal, labour and revenue cases.
This plea was previously rejected by the centre.
The lawyer had approached the Union Ministry for Law and Justice with his proposal after the Supreme Court asked the government to hear him out through a judicial order on October 10, 2014.
The Ministry cited three grounds for rejecting the idea —
- The Supreme Court always sits in Delhi as per the Constitution.
- The Chief Justices of India in the past have consistently opposed the idea of a National Court of Appeal or regional Benches to the Supreme Court.
- A National Court of Appeal would require an amendment in Article 130 of the Constitution of India which is impermissible as this would change the Constitution of the Supreme Court completely.
- The petitioner submits that establishment of a ‘National Court of Appeal’ as suggested in the case of Bihar Legal Support Society would rectify the inequality in the state of affairs in as much as the said National Court of Appeal would have benches in all possible regions of the country.
- This would also considerably reduce the cost of litigation and would enable the litigants to have the services of the lawyer who appeared for them before the High Court.
- The petitioner also argues that the Supreme Court was never intended to be a regular court of appeal against orders made by the high court or the sessions court or the magistrates. It was created as an apex court for the purpose of laying down the law for the entire country.
However, legal experts feel that setting up of regional benches will dilute the constitutional superiority of the Supreme Court.
New BRICS bank set to fund green energy projects
The New Development Bank (NDB) — a multilateral lender with a focus on the Global South of the of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa(BRICS) grouping — is all set to fund more than a dozen projects this year, which will focus on renewable energy.
- The initial focus of the bank would on green energy projects.
About the New Development Bank:
It is a multilateral development bank operated by the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
- It is seen as an alternative to the existing US-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
- The New Development Bank was agreed to by BRICS leaders at the 5th BRICS summit held in Durban, South Africa in 2013.
- The bank is set up to foster greater financial and development cooperation among the five emerging markets.
- The bank will be headquartered in Shanghai, China.
- Unlike the World Bank, which assigns votes based on capital share, in the New Development Bank each participant country will be assigned one vote, and none of the countries will have veto power.
- The New Development Bank will mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, to supplement existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.
- The establishment of the Bank will help India and other signatory countries to raise and avail resources for their infrastructure and sustainable development projects.
- It would also reflect the close relations among BRICS countries, while providing a powerful instrument for increasing their economic cooperation.
- It is expected to allow India to raise and obtain more resources for the much needed infrastructure development, the lack of which is coming in the way of inclusiveness and growth as of now.
- It will make available additional resources thereby recycling the savings accumulated in emerging countries which are presently being locked up in Treasury bonds having much lower returns.
13th World Spice Congress begins in Ahmedabad
The 13th edition of World Spice Congress (WSC) will begin in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
- The theme of the three-day biennial event is ‘Target 2020: Clean, Safe and Sustainable Supply Chain’.
- 13th WSC has been jointly organized by the Spices Board, Cochin Hill Produce Merchants’ Association, and India Pepper and Spice Trade Association.
- It is supported by All India Spices Importers & Distributors Association and Indian Spices & Foodstuff Exporters’ Association.
- It seeks to chalk out a credible and actionable road map to push further the growth of spices industry and address challenges faced by it across the globe.
- This edition of event will be attended by more than one thousand participants including domestic and overseas delegate, sponsors and exhibitors.
Export of Indian Spices:
- Spices are the only Indian exports that control almost half of world trade in its kind.
- Out of the total production of spices in India, 15 per cent is exported which contributes 48 per cent in volume and 43 per cent in value in the world spice trade.
Satellite Centre in Vietnam
As part of Space Cooperation between India and Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), at the behest of Government of India, is working towards the establishment of a Satellite Tracking & Data Reception Station and Data Processing Facility in Vietnam for ASEAN Member countries.
- This facility is intended to acquire and process Indian Remote Sensing Satellite data pertaining to ASEAN region and disseminate to ASEAN Member countries.
- Under this initiative, all ASEAN member countries, including Vietnam will be allowed to access processed remote sensing data pertaining to their country.
- Ground facility is designed in such a way that it will not allow Indian data to be accessed and processed by the system.
U.S. test-fires ICBMs to show rivals its power
The U.S. military recently test-fired its second intercontinental ballistic missile in a week, seeking to demonstrate its nuclear arms capacity at a time of rising strategic tensions with Russia and North Korea.
- With this, the US has sent a message to strategic rivals like Russia, China and North Korea that Washington has an effective nuclear arsenal.
- The unarmed Minuteman III missile was test-fired at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
- The missile raced across the sky at speeds of up to 15,000 mph (24,000 kph) and landed a half hour later in a target area 6,500 km away near Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands of the South Pacific.