Polity & Governance
- Maharashtra rolls out deradicalisation plan in wake of IS threat
- BGR-34- India’s first ayurvedic anti-diabetic drug launched by CSIR
- Bharat Biotech developing two vaccines for Zika
- 12 nations sign Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal
- Cabinet approves formation of Joint Venture Companies with State Governments
- Coal linkages to steel, aluminium, cement sectors only via auction
Polity & Governance
Maharashtra rolls out deradicalisation plan in wake of IS threat
Faced with the challenges of both home-grown extremism and the global Islamic State (IS) threat, Maharashtra has rolled out a deradicalisation programme for the minority community.
- Concurrently, the State Home Department has rolled out a 50-point socio-economic strategy with the aim of ‘bringing youth of the minority community into the mainstream’ and making coordinated efforts and policies in 13 sectors, including education, sports, urban planning, law and order, skill development, women and child, social justice, and health.
- Opening vyayam shalas in minority areas,
- Making National Cadet Corps (NCC), Bharat Scouts and Guides (BS&G) compulsory in minority schools,
- Setting up an independent media outlet to deliver ‘mainstream thoughts and values’ to the minority youth in the State.
- Planning to teach religious texts from all sects in minority schools and teaching merits of democratic States and demerits of dictatorships as a separate chapter in the Urdu textbooks.
- The State Education Department will launch a mid-day meal scheme in Urdu schools, provide textbooks at subsidised rates, and teach Urdu as optional subject in 300 Marathi shalas (schools).
The Union Home Ministry had earlier asked three States to draw up a comprehensive counter-strategy in the wake of attempts by international terrorist outfits to propagate jihadi ideologies.
- Muslim scholars have criticised the efforts to label the community as radicalised.
- They view the programme as an idea borrowed from the West. According to them, the use of word deradicalisation itself is like telling them [minority] they are already radicalised, and starts the whole thing on a negative note.
BGR-34- India’s first ayurvedic anti-diabetic drug launched by CSIR
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has launched the country’s first anti-diabetic ayurvedic drug for type two Diabetes mellitus.
- The drug BGR-34 is developed jointly by National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) and Central Institute for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), the Lucknow-based research units of CSIR.
- BGR-34, which stands for Blood Glucost Regulator, contains 34 identified active phyto-constitutes from herbal resources.
- While the modern diabetes drugs are known for side-effects and toxicity, BGR-34 works by controlling blood sugar and limiting the harmful effects of other drugs.
- One of the critical ingredients is that it inhibits DPP-4 and enhances insulin secretion. The product has passed several batteries of tests and showed hypoglycemic activity in experimental subjects.
BGR-34 is a unique product that manages the lives of people suffering from diabetes.
[Ref: BS, ToI]
Bharat Biotech developing two vaccines for Zika
Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has announced that it has two vaccine candidates in development for fighting the Zika virus, against which the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a global emergency a few days ago.
- The company has filed for global patent of two vaccine candidates – a recombinant vaccine and an inactivated vaccine – for Zika virus.
- An inactivated vaccineconsists of the disease-causing microbe killed with chemicals, heat or radiation.
- A recombinant vaccineis produced through the recombinant DNA technology. This involves inserting the DNA encoding an antigen that stimulates an immune response.
- While the recombinant vaccine might take time, the pre-clinical testing of the inactivated vaccine in animals would be completed in five months.
- The normal process for a vaccine to get commercialised would take seven years, including the clinical trials. But, the company has announced that it could make available the inactivated vaccine in two years if the Indian Government fast-tracked the regulatory approvals once the pre-clinical trials proved to be successful.
- Recently, the World Health Organisation has declared Zika and its suspected link to birth defects a global health emergency.
- More than 20 countries in Latin America have reported an outbreak and a rare case of the Zika virus being transmitted through sex has been reported in Texas, USA.
[Ref: Hindu, BS]
12 nations sign Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the world’s biggest multinational trade deals, was recently signed by 12 member nations.
- The 12 nations include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
- The TPP will now undergo a two-year ratification period in which at least six countries – that account for 85 per cent of the combined gross domestic production of the 12 TPP nations – must approve the final text for the deal to be implemented.
- The TPP, a deal which will cover 40 percent of the world economy, has already taken five years of negotiations to reach the recent signing stage.
But the massive trade pact will still require years of tough negotiations before it becomes a reality.
Criticisms of TPP:
There is wide spread grassroots opposition to the TPP in many countries.
- Opponents have criticised the secrecy surrounding TPP talks, raised concerns about reduced access to things like affordable medicines, and a clause which allows foreign investors the right to sue if they feel their profits have been impacted by a law or policy in the host country.
- In New Zealand on the occasion of the signing the pact, more than 1,000 protesters caused traffic disruptions in and around Auckland and a large number of police have been deployed.
- Opposition from many U.S. Democrats and some Republicans could mean a vote on the TPP is unlikely before President Barack Obama, a supporter of the TPP, leaves office early in 2017.
- In Japan, the resignation of Economics Minister Akira Amari – Japan’s main TPP negotiator – may make it more difficult to sell the deal in Japan.
Cabinet approves formation of Joint Venture Companies with State Governments
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for allowing the Ministry of Railways to form Joint Venture Companies with the State Governments to mobilize resources for undertaking various rail infrastructure projects in States.
- The Joint Venture Companies would be formed with equity participation of Ministry of Railways and concerned State Governments.
- Each Joint Venture (JV) would have an initial paid up capital of Rs. 100 crores based on the quantum of projects to be undertaken.
- The Ministry of Railways’ initial paid-up capital will be limited to Rs. 50 crore for each State.
- Further infusion of fund/equity for the purpose of the projects shall be done after approval of the project and its funding at the level of appropriate competent authority.
- The JV can also form project-specific Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) with equity holding by other shareholders like Banks, ports, public sector undertakings, mining companies etc.
Benefits from Joint Venture:
- The Joint Venture exercise would ensure greater participation of State Governments in implementation of Railway Projects both in terms of financial participation as well as decision making process.
- Besides travelling people, various cement, steel, power plants etc. would get the necessary rail link for transportation of their raw material and finished products.
- Joint Venture will also facilitate in faster statutory approvals and land acquisition.
Coal linkages to steel, aluminium, cement sectors only via auction
The Union government has decided that allocation of coal linkages for the non-regulated sector, which includes steel/sponge iron, cement and aluminium, will be only through the auction route to ensure transparency.
- The decision was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- The government is considering auctioning coal linkages of around 24 million tonnes in the first year.
- As per the CCEA decision, all allocations of linkages/Letter of Assurance (LoAs) for non-regulated sector (but excluding fertilizer (urea) sector), including their captive power plants, shall from now on be auction-based.
- The auction of coal linkages will be transparent and creates a level-playing field.
- The auction ensures all market participants have a fair chance to secure the coal linkage, irrespective of their size.
- It attempts to ensure an optimal allocation of coal across user industries and geographies.
- The process of giving coal linkages was not entirely transparent as there were several complaints.
- The Supreme Court in August and September 2014 had declared 204 coal mines/blocks allocated since 1993 as illegal on the grounds that the procedure followed was arbitrary.
- Pursuant to this judgment, e-auction of Schedule II and Schedule III Coal Mines was conducted.