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Current Affairs Analysis

3rd June 2016 Current Affairs Analysis

FDC Medicines; Agro-Processing Clusters; National Disaster Management Plan; The Hague Code of Conduct; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
June 03, 2016

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Delhi has killer roads: Transport Ministry report
  • Verdict reserved on healthcare firms’ plea

Economy

  • Government to establish 250 agro-processing clusters all over India
  • Reserve Bank tells lenders to expedite cyber security policy

Environment & Ecology

  • Country’s first-ever National Disaster Management Plan released

International Relations

  • India, U.S. to share data on terrorists
  • India joins The Hague Code of Conduct

Defence & Security Issues

  • Crucial meetings await Parrikar on sidelines of Shangri-La Dialogue

Science & Technology

  • Eye for guava, says AIIMS
  • Hydrogen found in distant galaxy

Also in News

  • Arrival Of Mega Luxury Cruise Vessel Ovation Of The Seas” 
  • ABC to measure metrics for digital publications

 

Polity & Governance

Delhi has killer roads: Transport Ministry report

According to a report published by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Delhi, for the second time in a row, has recorded the highest number of fatal accidents among other major cities in the country.

Key facts:

  • Mumbai topped the list with the maximum number of accidents.
  • Delhi is the second city after Mumbai when it comes to the highest number of road accidents in 2015.
  • Delhi is followed by Chennai and Bengaluru.
  • Among the cities which saw the maximum injuries due to accidents, Delhi topped the list.
  • Last year, 5,00,279 people were injured in road accidents in India. This number is not only the highest that India has ever recorded, it also represents a 53.9 % increase over the last decade, and nearly a ten-fold increase since 1970.

Suggestions to curb road accidents:

The existing Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, has been unable to address four of the five risk factors specified by the World Health Organisation and India accounts for 10 % of global deaths due to road accidents. So, experts suggest that the only way to end this epidemic is to ensure strengthening of the existing legislation so that it protects all classes of road users.

[Ref: Hindu]

 

Verdict reserved on healthcare firms’ plea

The Delhi High Court has reserved its verdict in over 450 petitions filed by drug and healthcare majors challenging the Centre’s decision to ban 344 fixed dose combination (FDC) medicines, including well-known brands like Corex cough syrup, Vicks Action 500 extra and D’Cold.

What is FDC medicines? 

  • A fixed dose combination (FDC) is one that contains two or more drugs combined in a fixed ratio of doses and available in a single dosage form.

Steps taken by Govt.:

  • The government had banned over 300 FDC drugs on the ground that they involve “risk” to humans and safer alternatives were available.
  • Government had also said there were no valid licences for making any of the banned FDCs and added it was difficult to implement any action at state level.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also supported the Centre’s stand.

[Ref: Hindu]

 

Economy

Government to establish 250 agro-processing clusters all over India

Government plans to set up 250 small agro-processing clusters at an estimated cost of over ₹ 5000 crore.

Details:

  • Government is looking to establish small agro-processing clusters near producing area of one specific fruit or vegetable.
  • So, if someone wants to establish small processing cluster like for onion, he can do that and the government will provide subsidy of up to ₹ 5 crore per cluster.

Idea behind this proposal:

  • The idea behind this proposal is to take the processing at doorstep of the farmers so that their income can be raised and at the same time wastages can also be reduced which will also help in checking the rise in prices.

Benefits:

  • With this, India has started moving toward zero tolerance of food wastages. The new addition of processing capacity will reduce wastage of fruits and vegetables worth ₹ 9,000 crore per annum because the same value of these commodities can now be processed.
  • On one side, this addition of capacity is helping the farmers to realise better income for their produce and on other side, it will also keep the prices of perishables under check.

Government has sanctioned 37 Mega Food Parks, out of which 8 have been operationalised. Similarly, 134 cold chain projects were sanctioned and 81 have been completed.

[Ref: Hindu]

 

Reserve Bank tells lenders to expedite cyber security policy

In the wake of increasing cyber attacks in the financial system, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has told commercial banks to ‘immediately’ put in place a cyber security policy, duly approved by the board.

Suggestions by RBI:

  • Banks should immediately put in place a cyber-security policy elucidating the strategy containing an appropriate approach to combat cyber threats given the level of complexity of business and acceptable levels of risk, duly approved by their board.
  • According to the RBI, the policy would also include setting up an adaptive incident response, management and recovery framework to deal with adverse incidents/disruptions, if and when they occur.
  • Banks have been asked to formulate a Cyber Crisis Management Plan (CCMP) which should be a part of the overall board-approved strategy. CCMP should address the following four aspects—Detection, Response, Recovery and Containment.
  • The regulator has emphasised that the cyber security policy should be distinct and separate from the broader IT policy/IS Security policy so that it can highlight the risks from cyber threats and the measures to address or mitigate these risks.

Background:

  • The central bank has observed that with the use of technology by banks gaining momentum, the number, frequency and impact of cyber incidents/attacks had increased manifold in the recent past.
  • The Reserve Bank of India said it had observed banks were hesitant to share information on cyber security-related incidents.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Environment & Ecology

Country’s first-ever National Disaster Management Plan released

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unveiled the country’s first-ever National Disaster Management Plan.

  • This is the first national plan since enactment of the Disaster Management Act in 2005.
  • The plan will now have to be approved by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) headed by the prime minister.

Statutory provisions for setting up the plan:

  • Though Section 11 of the Disaster Management Act mandates preparation of a national plan by the national executive committee headed by Union home secretary, no such plan had been drawn up so far.

The Centre has now fulfilled this requirement by releasing a national plan that will be aligned with the goals and priorities set out in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Salient Features of the Plan:

  • It aims to make India disaster resilient and significantly reduce the loss of lives and assets.
  • The plan is based on the four priority themes of the “Sendai Framework,” namely:
  1. Understanding disaster risk,
  2. Improving disaster risk governance,
  3. Investing in disaster risk reduction (through structural and non-structural measures) and
  4. Disaster preparedness, early warning and building back better in the aftermath of a disaster. 
  • The plan covers all phases of disaster management: prevention, mitigation, response and recovery.
  • It provides for horizontal and vertical integration among all the agencies and departments of the Government.
  • The plan also spells out the roles and responsibilities of all levels of Government right up to Panchayat and Urban Local Body level in a matrix format.
  • The plan has a regional approach, which will be beneficial not only for disaster management but also for development planning. 
  • It is designed in such a way that it can be implemented in a scalable manner in all phases of disaster management.
  • It also identifies major activities such as early warning, information dissemination, medical care, fuel, transportation, search and rescue, evacuation, etc. to serve as a checklist for agencies responding to a disaster.
  • It also provides a generalized framework for recovery and offers flexibility to assess a situation and build back better. 
  • To prepare communities to cope with disasters, it emphasizes on a greater need for Information, Education and Communication activities. 

What is Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction?

  • The Sendai Framework is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.
  • It is the outcome of stakeholder consultations initiated in March 2012 and inter-governmental negotiations held from July 2014 to March 2015, which were supported by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) upon the request of the UN General Assembly.
  • UNISDR has been tasked to support the implementation, follow-up and review of the Sendai Framework.
[Ref: PIB, unisdr]

 

International Relations

India, U.S. to share data on terrorists

India and the US have signed a key pact for exchange of intelligence on terror on a real time basis that include biographic information of known and suspected terrorists.

  • An arrangement was signed between the authorised governmental agencies of the Government of India and the Government of the United States of America for exchange of terrorist screening information.

Key facts:

  • As per this pact, India and the US will provide each other access to terrorism screening information through the designated contact points, subject to domestic laws and regulations.
  • The agreement would enhance the counter terrorism cooperation between India and the US.
  • With signing of the key pact, India has formally entered into the US Homeland Security Presidential Directive-6 (HSPD-6), which will enable it to access ‘unclassified biographic information of known and suspected terrorists’ maintained by the US on a reciprocal basis.
  • The HSPD-6 is a model text agreement for exchange of terrorist screening information between Terrorist Screening Centre (TSC) of the US and an Indian agency.
  • The Intelligence Bureau will be the nodal agency and designated as the Indian party to the agreement.
  • The US has already finalised such agreements with 30 countries.

Background:

  • The agreement was signed ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States.
  • The proposal was initially made by the U.S. in 2012, but had made little progress due to objections raised by security agencies.
  • The Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) had opposed giving the United States unhindered access to the database of terror suspects in India.
  • However, later, the security agencies came to the conclusion that there was no disadvantage in entering into the proposed pact with TSC.

About TSC:

  • Terrorist Screening Centre (TSC) is a multi-agency organisation administered by FBI which consolidates several terrorist watch lists maintained by different US government agencies into single terrorist database on terror suspects.
  • The database includes the name of the terror suspect, nationality, date of birth, photos, finger prints (if any) and passport number.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

India joins The Hague Code of Conduct

India has joined the Hague Code of Conduct (HCoC) — a global ballistic missile proliferation regime — but made it clear that it will not have any impact on the national security as well as country’s ballistic missile programmes like Agni missile.

  • India’s joining the Code signals our readiness to further strengthen global non-proliferation objectives.
  • India’s bid to enter the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) was on track and the process to grant the membership was expected to be completed soon.

What is Hague Code of Conduct (HCOV)?

The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC), formerly known as “The International Code of Conduct” (ICOC), was adopted at an international conference held in 2002 in The Hague.

  • The HCoC is a voluntary, legally non-binding international confidence building and transparency measure that seeks to prevent the proliferation of ballistic missiles that are capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.
  • The Code does not represent an effective and verifiable regime against ballistic missiles. Rather, it is a politically binding document, encouraging States to undertake limited measures such as annually reporting on their ballistic missile programs and alerting all other signatories before conducting ballistic missile tests.
  • The HCOC is the only multilateral code in the area of disarmament which has been adopted over the last years. It is the only normative instrument to verify the spread of ballistic missiles.

Functions:

  • The HCOC does not ban ballistic missiles, but it does call for restraint in their production, testing, and export.
  • The Code does not call for the destruction of any missiles, it is simply an agreement between States on how they should “conduct” their trade in missiles.
  • There is no inspection system to assure compliance with the Code or sanctions for violating it.

Members:

  • The Code is meant to supplement the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)but its membership is not restricted. While the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) has a similar mission, it is an export group with only 34 members.
[Ref: Hindu, Wiki]

 

Defence & Security Issues

Crucial meetings await Parrikar on sidelines of Shangri-La Dialogue

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will hold crucial meetings with his counterparts from France and the U.S. on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

About Shangri-La Dialogue:

The IISS Asia Security Summit: The Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) is a “Track One” inter-governmental security forum held annually by an independent think tank, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

  • The forum is attended by defence ministers, permanent heads of ministries and military chiefs of 28 Asia-Pacific states.
  • The forum gets its name from the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore where it has been held since 2002.
  • The summit serves to cultivate a sense of community among the most important policymakers in the defence and security community in the region.
  • Government delegations have made the best out of the meeting by holding bilateral meetings with other delegations on the sidelines of the conference.
  • While primarily an inter-governmental meeting, the summit is also attended by legislators, academic experts, distinguished journalists and business delegates.
  • The participants have included Australia, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, People’s Republic of China, Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, East Timor, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.
[Ref: Hindu, Wiki]

 

Science & Technology

Eye for guava, says AIIMS

Research conducted by doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) found that guavas, black grapes, coriander and mint leaves are some of the fruits and vegetables which are good for our eyesight and also help to arrest the age-related degeneration of the eyes.

Background:

  • Multiple epidemiological studies have emphasised the intake of dark green leafy vegetables rich in xanthophylls in reducing the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
  • Therefore, the present study was undertaken to quantify levels of major carotenoids — naturally occurring pigment in commonly consumed green as well as yellow fruits and vegetables — found in India.

Key facts:

  • The research also found that food traditionally is considered a good source of carotenoids in terms of provitamin-A activity exhibited by some of them.
  • The study indicated that fruits and vegetables, including broad and cluster beans, carrots, green chilli, curry leaves, drumstick leaves, edible amaranth, fenugreek leaves, ginger, pumpkin, ivy gourd, mango and snake gourd, are good for eye health.
  • Age-related macular degeneration is the common cause of irreversible vision loss among the elderly.
  • In humans as well as in plants, xanthophylls are believed to function in two important ways.
  1. As filter for high-energy blue light and
  2. As anti-oxidants that quench and scavenge photo-induced reactive oxygen species.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Hydrogen found in distant galaxy

An international team of scientists has for the first time detected a faint signal emitted by hydrogen gas in a galaxy more than five billion light years away — almost double the previous record.

  • Using the Very Large Array radio telescope of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in the U.S., the team observed radio emission from hydrogen in a distant galaxy and found that it would have contained billions of young, massive stars surrounded by clouds of hydrogen gas.
  • As the most abundant element in the universe and the raw fuel for creating stars, hydrogen is used by radio astronomers to detect and understand the makeup of other galaxies. However, until now, radio telescopes have only been able to detect the emission signature of hydrogen from relatively nearby galaxies.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Also in News

Arrival Of Mega Luxury Cruise Vessel Ovation Of The Seas” 

Mega Luxury Cruise Vessel “M.V.Ovation of the Seas” called at the Cochin Port for a 2-day stop-over in its circuit of Dubai-Muscat-Kochi-Penang-Singapore.

Key facts:

  • “M.V.Ovation of the Seas” is a brand new ship of the Royal Caribbean Lines which was floated out in April this year. It is in the 2nd largest class of cruise vessel.
  • Officials from the Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of Tourism, Government of India had specially come from New Delhi to welcome the cruise vessel as part of the Government of India’s measures to promote Cruise Tourism.
  • It may be noted that a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Cruise Shipping was notified by the Ministry of Tourism during the Maritime India Summit held during April, 2016.
[Ref: PIB]

 

ABC to measure metrics for digital publications

Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), an independent body that provides audited newspaper and magazine circulation, is now foraying into measurement of digital properties.

  • The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) will now provide for “measurement of digital media properties”, by offering audience metrics across mobile and personal computer platforms.
  • The Audit Bureau of Circulations is an independent, non-profit and voluntary organisation consisting of publishers, advertisers and advertising agencies and is tasked with certifying circulation figures of its members.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

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