IASToppers-Current-Affairs-Analysis-5th-Feb-2016
Current Affairs Analysis

5th February 2016 Current Affairs Analysis

By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
February 05, 2016

Contents

Social Issues

  • WHO certifies vaccine maker GreenSignal Bio

Economy

  • Govt panel gives nod for 7 infrastructure projects
  • Compulsory licensing in manufacturing may slow investments: EU
  • Nuclear plant parts to be made in India

International Relations

  • India ratifies key international convention on nuclear accident compensation
  • India Signs an Agreement to Become an Associate Member State of European Molecular Biology Organisation


Social Issues


WHO certifies vaccine maker GreenSignal Bio

 

            The World Health Organisation (WHO), a UN Health agency has accorded PQP (Pre-qualification of Medicines Programme) certification to Chennai based GreenSignal Bio Pharma.

  • The Indian pharmaceutical company was accorded this certification for manufacturing a BCG (Bacillus Calmette–Guérin) vaccine.
  • With this, it became second Indian company to get PQP certification from WHO.

What is PQP certification?

  • PQP certification helps pharmaceutical companies to participate in the global immunisation programme which is facilitated through international procurement agencies such as UNICEF and others.
  • These international institutions prefer WHO list of pre-qualified pharmaceutical products while making a decision on procurement for distribution in resource-limited nations.

[Ref: Hindu]

 

Economy

 

Govt panel gives nod for 7 infrastructure projects

 

            The Public Private Project Appraisal Committee (PPPAC) and the Empowered Committee (EC) both chaired by Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs have approved 7 infrastructure projects in road and port sectors envisaging an investment of Rs 9,672 crore.

Details:

  • The committees together have cleared 6 road projects and 1 ports sector project.
  • The projects include 4 National Highway projects, one each in the state of Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh and two projects in the state of Uttar Pradesh and one port project in the state of Goa cleared by the PPPAC.
  • Besides, the two road projects in Uttar Pradesh have been cleared for Viability Gap Funding (VGF). Under the VGF government support is provided to the infrastructure projects to make them viable and bankable.

About PPPAC:

  • In the year 2005, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved the procedure for approval of PPP projects. Following to this decision, PPPAC was been set up.
  • The committee is serviced by the Department of Economic Affairs, who sets up a special cell for servicing such proposals.

[Ref: PIB]

 

Compulsory licensing in manufacturing may slow investments: EU

 

            A senior European Union (EU) official has recently said that India’s adoption of Compulsory Licensing (CL) in industrial sectors risks affecting the flow of capital and technology from overseas.

  • According to him, the extension and wide use of CL in industrial sectors can act as a deterrent for investments, from abroad and within India.
  • These remarks assume significance as they come in the backdrop of the imminent finalisation of India’s National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy as well as the EU’s resumption of bilateral meetings on a proposed free trade agreement (FTA).

What is CL?

  • CL is the grant of permission by the government to entities to use, manufacture, import or sell a patented invention without the patent-owner’s consent.
  • CL is permitted under the WTO’s TRIPS (IPR) Agreement provided conditions such as ‘national emergencies, other circumstances of extreme urgency and anti-competitive practices’ are fulfilled.

CL & India:

  • India’s National Manufacturing Policy (NMP) also supports the application of CL across different manufacturing sectors, more specifically to ensure access to the latest green technologies that are patented.
  • The NMP provides the “option” to entities such as the Technology Acquisition and Development Fund “to approach the government for issue of a CL for the technology which is not being provided by the patent holder at reasonable rates or is not being ‘worked in India’ to meet the domestic demand in a satisfactory manner.”

            So far, India has issued only one CL. In March 2012, Natco Pharma was granted a license for an anti-cancer medicine Nexavar patented by Bayer.

Apprehensions:

  • The EU official has said that the conditions for granting a CL in India were not clear, especially the usage of the term “worked in India” in the NMP. He doubted whether such conditions can be complied with for products imported into India. It is because the term could mean that if an invention / product is not manufactured in India but imported, it would be a reason to impose a CL.
  • The NMP, however, states that such CLs will be issued only within the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement. According to the NMP, reasonable royalty will be paid to the patent holder in such cases.

[Ref: Hindu]

 

Nuclear plant parts to be made in India

 

            India and Russia have set up a working group to locally build components for nuclear power plants of Russian design.

  • The localization plans are part of the government’s efforts to build manufacturing in the country under its ambitions Make in India initiative.

India is looking to majorly ramp up nuclear power generation to overcome power shortages as well as reduce carbon emissions under its global commitments.

Background:

  • This is based on the Action Program signed between Rosatom and the Department of Atomic Energy of India during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Moscow in December 2015.
  • Based on the decision signed in December 2015, a fourth working group on the localization of production in India has already been established and is operating successfully

Action Program includes:

            The Action Program includes areas of cooperation in the field of joint machinery production, especially for nuclear power plants, as well as cooperation in the field of joint development, mastering and technological support of the implementation of end-to-end production technologies of products for heavy and power engineering industries.

Present scenario:

  • Russia is currently building six reactors in Kudankulam of which the first unit was commissioned in autumn 2013. It was shut for the first scheduled preventive maintenance (SPM) and has now successfully restarted power generation.
  • The permit for excavation works and foundation pit preparation for power units 3 and 4 has been obtained from the Indian regulatory body.
  • Russia is also scheduled to be allotted a second site most likely in the coastal state of Andhra Pradesh for setting up another six units as agreed in 2014.

[Ref: Hindu]

 

International Relations

 

India ratifies key international convention on nuclear accident compensation

 

            India has ratified the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC), seen as the final piece in its efforts to address a major concern of foreign nuclear suppliers.

  • India has signed the convention in 2010.
  • India has submitted the Instrument of Ratification of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) for Nuclear Damage to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
  • This makes India part of a global legal regime that has established a standard for compensation of victims in the event of a nuclear accident.

Background:

  • The conclusion of the landmark India-US nuclear agreement in 2008 gave India the opportunity to enter the global nuclear scene after a gap of 34 years.
  • But no US company has been willing to invest in India’s nuclear power market for fear of the liability clause in its domestic law.
  • International nuclear reactor makers such as General Electric have been reluctant to set up plants in India because of a 2010 domestic liability law that makes equipment suppliers accountable for accidents and not the plant operators, as is the global norm.

Last year, India launched an insurance pool with a liability cap of Rs.1,500 crore ($225 million) to cover the suppliers’ risk of potential liability.

Nuclear power in India- Present scenario:

  • India has plans to construct many nuclear power plants to fuel its economic growth.
  • The size of the Indian nuclear power market is estimated at $150 billion by various accounts.

Way ahead:

  • Russia is building six reactors in southern India and is in talks for another six.
  • During the just concluded visit by French president Francois Hollande, India and France signed a reworked pact to build six nuclear plants at Jaitapur in Mahararashtra.

About the convention:

  • The CSC is a convention that allows for increasing the compensation amount in the event of a nuclear incident through public funds pooled in by contracting parties based on their own installed nuclear capacities.
  • It was adopted in September 1997 and entered into force on April 15, 2015.
  • It also sets parameters on a nuclear operator’s financial liability, time limits governing possible legal action, requires that nuclear operators maintain insurance or other financial security measures and provides for a single competent court to hear claims.

According to IAEA, all states are free to participate in the convention regardless of their involvement in existing nuclear liability conventions or the presence of nuclear installations on their territories.

[Ref: Hindu, LiveMint]

 

India Signs an Agreement to Become an Associate Member State of European Molecular Biology Organisation

 

            In a bid to strengthen interaction between India and Europe in the field of molecular biology, the department of biotechnology, the Ministry of Science and Technology has signed an agreement to acquire the status of Associate Member State of European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO)

  • After Singapore signed on in July 2015, India is only the second such country outside Europe to be an associate member.

Significance:

  • With this India as an EMBC Associate Member State, researchers working in India are now eligible to participate in all EMBO programmes and activities.
  • Indian scientists can apply to EMBO’s programmes, such as long-term fellowships for postdoctoral researchers, short-term fellowships, courses and workshops, as well as the EMBO Young Investigator Programme.
  • At the same time, Europe will benefit from networking with the top-level scientists in India’s research community.

Background:

            This newly forged cooperation will build upon already existing links between Indian and European scientists. In 2015, 10 Indian postdoctoral researchers received an EMBO Long-Term Fellowship to work in Europe and eight India-based scientists received the EMBO Short-Term Fellowship.

About EMBO:

  • EMBO is the Germany-based organisation of more than 1700 leading researchers that promotes excellence in the life sciences.
  • The major goals of the organization are to support talented researchers at all stages of their careers, stimulate the exchange of scientific information. 
  • The movement was started in 1964 as European Molecular Biology Conference (EMBC)and subsequently it got intergovernmental funding.  

[Ref: PIB, LM]

 

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