Ethics Committee of Lok Sabha
Senior BJP leader L K Advani has been renominated as Chairman of Ethics Committee of Lok Sabha by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
About Ethics Committee:
The Ethics Committee of the Lok Sabha was constituted on 16 May 2000 as an adhoc committee. However, in August 2015 it was given permanent Standing Committee status.
Functions of the Committee:
The Ethics Committee examines every complaint relating to unethical conduct of a member referred to it.
It is also free to take up suo motu investigation into matters relating to ethics, including matters relating to unethical conduct by a member wherever felt necessary and make such recommendations as it may deem fit.
Source: The Hindu
Fixed dose combination (FDC) drugs
The government has prohibited the manufacture, sale or distribution of 328 fixed dose combination (FDC) drugs for human use with immediate effect.
The health ministry’s ban on FDCs included painkillers, anti-diabetic, respiratory and gastro-intestinal medicines, covering 6,000 brands.
What necessitated this?
The expert panel probing the efficacy of 349 banned FDCs, after considering these drugs “irrational”, cited safety issues and lack of therapeutic justification, and recommended continuing the ban. It also found that many FDCs were formulated without due diligence, with dosing mismatches that could result in toxicity.
What are FDCs?
An FDC is a cocktail of two or more active drug ingredients in a fixed ratio of doses. According to US healthcare provider IMS Health, almost half the drugs sold in India in 2014 were FDC, making it a world leader in combination drugs.
Why are they popular in India?
FDCs’ popularity in India is due to advantages such as increased efficacy, better compliance, reduced cost and simpler logistics of distribution. FDCs have shown to be particularly useful in the treatment of infectious diseases like HIV, malaria and tuberculosis, where giving multiple antimicrobial agents is the norm. FDCs are also useful for chronic conditions especially, when multiple disorders co-exist.
Is there a flipside to FDCs?
Given that there is not much data available on drug-drug interaction and side-effects in FDC, India’s system for collecting data for problematic drug reactions is weak. When multiple drugs from the same therapeutic group, like antibiotics, are clubbed together, it may lead to resistance. A lot of FDCs sold in India are unapproved, given the lack of coordination between state and central regulators. A study published in the journal of Public Library of Science (PLOS) in May found that over 70% of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) combinations, which are used as painkillers, were being marketed in India without central government approval.
Source: The Hindu
Capacity Development Scheme
Cabinet approves continuation of Capacity Development Scheme for the period 2017-18 to 2019-20.
About the Capacity Development Scheme:
The Capacity Development Scheme is an Ongoing Central Sector Scheme of MoSPI.
The overall objective of the scheme is to augment infrastructural, technical as well as manpower resources for making available credible and timely Official Statistics for policy makers and public at large.
The major ongoing activities under the Capacity Development Scheme, include:
Augmenting resources for bringing out important statistical products, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Consumer Price Index (CPI), Index of Industrial Production (IIP), Statistical classifications, etc.
Conducting various Socio-Economic surveys, capacity building and strengthening statistical coordination, and improving IT infrastructure.
Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), a continuous survey to assess quarterly labour data in urban areas and annual labour data for the whole country (urban and rural areas).
For better statistical coverage of sectors/areas, three new surveys have been taken up under the Capacity Development Scheme, namely, Time Use Survey (TUS), Annual Survey of Service Sector Enterprises (ASSSE), and Annual Survey of Unincorporated Sector Enterprises (ASUSE).
The Capacity Development Scheme has two Sub-schemes:
Economic Census: listing of all non-agricultural establishments is undertaken periodically, which forms the basis for conducting detailed socio-economic surveys. The last (6l) Economic Census was conducted during January, 2013 to April, 2014 and the Government now aims to conduct the Census once every three years in future.
The SSS Sub-scheme: to strengthen State/ Sub-State level statistical systems/ infrastructure to facilitate development of a robust national system. Funds are released to States/ UTs for this purpose after detailed examination of their proposals.
Swadesh Darshan Scheme
First Tribal Circuit Project under Swadesh Darshan Scheme will be inaugurated in Chhattisgarh. This is the second project under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme being inaugurated in the country.
The project covers thirteen sites in Chhattisgarh i.e. Jashpur, Kunkuri, Mainpat, Kamleshpur, Maheshpur, Kurdar, Sarodadadar, Gangrel, Kondagaon, Nathiya Nawagaon, Jagdalpur, Chitrakoot, Tirthgarh.
Major components sanctioned include eco log huts, craft haats, souvenir shops/ kiosk, tourist reception & facilitation centres, open amphitheatre, tribal interpretation centres, workshop centres, tourist amenities centres, last mile connectivity etc.
These components are perceived to improve existing tourist facilities and enhance the overall tourist experience, therefore, help in getting more visitors which in return will increase job opportunities in the area.
Development of Tribes and Tribal Culture is one of the prime area of focus for the Ministry of Tourism. The Ministry is carrying out an array of activities for development and promotion of tourism in the tribal region. The Ministry is developing the tourism infrastructure in the region under its schemes of Swadesh Darshan. Under the tribal circuit theme of the scheme the Ministry has sanctioned 4 projects to Nagaland, Telangana and Chhattisgarh for Rs. 381.37 Crores.
About Swadesh Darshan Scheme:
The Tourism Ministry had launched ‘Swadesh Darshan’ scheme with an objective to develop theme-based tourist circuits in the country. These tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner.
Features of Swadesh Darshan Scheme:
The scheme is 100% centrally funded for the project components undertaken for public funding.
To leverage the voluntary funding available for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Central Public Sector Undertakings and corporate sector.
Funding of individual project will vary from state to state and will be finalised on the basis of detailed project reports prepared by PMC (Programme Management Consultant).
A National Steering Committee (NSC) will be constituted with Minister in charge of M/O Tourism as Chairman, to steer the mission objectives and vision of the scheme.
A Mission Directorate headed by the Member Secretary, NSC as a nodal officer will help in identification of projects in consultation with the States/ UTs governments and other stake holders.
PMC will be a national level consultant to be appointed by the Mission Directorate.
UN Interagency Task Force (UNIATF)
Shri Manoj Jhalani, Additional Secretary & Mission Director (NHM), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has been conferred with the prestigious UN Interagency Task Force (UNIATF) Award for his outstanding contribution towards prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and related Sustainable Development Goals.
A July 2013 resolution at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) formally established the UN Interagency Task Force on NCDs by expanding the mandate of the existing UN Ad Hoc Interagency Task Force on Tobacco Control.
The Task Force is convened and led by WHO, and reports to ECOSOC through the UN Secretary General.
UN Interagency Task Force (UNIATF) on the Prevention and Control of NCDs coordinates activities of relevant United Nations funds, programmes and specialised agencies and other intergovernmental organisations, to support the realisation of the commitments made in the UN Political Declaration on NCDs, in particular through the implementation of the WHO Global NCD Action Plan 2013-2020.
Following the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, UNIATF’s scope of work was expanded in 2016 to include “NCD related SDGs” – i.e. mental health, violence and injuries, nutrition, and environmental issues that impact on NCDs.
What are NCDs?
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behaviours factors.
The main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes.
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally.
Each year, 15 million people die from a NCD between the ages of 30 and 69 years; over 85% of these “premature” deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
Cardiovascular diseases account for most NCD deaths, or 17.9 million people annually, followed by cancers (9.0 million), respiratory diseases (3.9million), and diabetes (1.6 million).
These 4 groups of diseases account for over 80% of all premature NCD deaths.
Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets all increase the risk of dying from a NCD.
Detection, screening and treatment of NCDs, as well as palliative care, are key components of the response to NCDs.
What are the socioeconomic impacts of NCDs?
NCDs threaten progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a target of reducing premature deaths from NCDs by one-third by 2030.
Poverty is closely linked with NCDs. The rapid rise in NCDs is predicted to impede poverty reduction initiatives in low-income countries, particularly by increasing household costs associated with health care. Vulnerable and socially disadvantaged people get sicker and die sooner than people of higher social positions, especially because they are at greater risk of being exposed to harmful products, such as tobacco, or unhealthy dietary practices, and have limited access to health services.
In low-resource settings, health-care costs for NCDs quickly drain household resources. The exorbitant costs of NCDs, including often lengthy and expensive treatment and loss of breadwinners, force millions of people into poverty annually and stifle development.
“Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan” (PM-AASHA)
Giving a major boost to the pro-farmer initiatives of the Government and in keeping with its commitment and dedication for the Annadata, the Union Cabinet has approved a new Umbrella Scheme “Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan’ (PM-AASHA). The Scheme is aimed at ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers for their produce as announced in the Union Budget for 2018.
The umbrella scheme ‘PM-AASHA’ comprises three sub-schemes:
- Price Support Scheme (PSS).
- Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS).
- Pilot of Private Procurement & Stockist Scheme (PPPS).
Price Support Scheme (PSS):
Under the scheme, the physical procurement of pulses, oilseeds and Copra will be done by Central Nodal Agencies with the proactive role of the state governments.
Further, in addition to NAFED, the Food Cooperation of India (FCI) will take up PSS operations in states and districts.
The procurement expenditure and losses due to procurement will be borne by the Union Government as per norms.
Price Deficiency Payment Scheme this scheme (PDPS):
Under the scheme, it is proposed to cover all oilseeds for which minimum support price (MSP) is notified.
In this, direct payment of the difference between the MSP and the selling/modal price will be made to pre-registered farmers selling his produce in the notified market yard through a transparent auction process. All payments will be done directly into the registered bank account of the farmer.
This scheme does not involve any physical procurement of crops as farmers are paid the difference between the MSP price and sale or modal price on disposal in the notified market. The support of the central government for PDPS will be given as per norms.
Pilot of Private Procurement & Stockist Scheme (PPPS):
For oilseeds, the states will have the option to roll out Private Procurement Stockist Scheme (PPSS) on pilot basis in selected districts and Agricultural Produce Market Committee’s (APMC) of district involving the participation of private stockiest.
The pilot district and selected APMC(s) will cover one or more crop of oilseeds for which MSP is notified.
Since this is similar to the PSS scheme, as it involves physical procurement of the notified commodity, the scheme shall substitute PSS/PDPS in the pilot districts.
The selected private agency shall procure the commodity at MSP in the notified markets during the notified period from the registered farmers in accordance with the PPSS Guidelines, whenever the prices in the market fall below the notified MSP and whenever authorised by the state or UT government to enter the market. The maximum service charges up to 15% of the notified MSP will be payable.
Increasing MSP is not adequate and it is more important that farmers should get the full benefit of the announced MSP. For the same, it is essential that if the price of the agriculture produce market is less than MSP, then in that case state governments and the central government should purchase either at MSP or work in a manner to provide MSP for the farmers through some other mechanism.
Block Chain Technology
Cabinet has approved MoU on Collaborative Research on Distributed Ledger and Block Chain Technology in the context of Development of digital economy by Exim Bank under BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism.
Distributed Ledger/Block chain technology holds potential for solutions to various challenges being faced in the financial sector space of the BRICS nations. The MoU intends to enhance understanding of Distributed Ledger/Block Chain technology, through the joint research efforts to identify areas within respective business operations where it may have the potential for applications aimed at enhancing the operational efficiencies.
The Xiamen Declaration signed in China on digital economy by the BRICS leaders had highlighted the importance of the digital economy and how the BRICS nations could leverage the thriving and dynamic digital economy that will foster global economic development and benefit everyone. Accordingly, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Collaborative Research on Distributed Ledger and Block chain Technology in the Context of the Development of the Digital Economy was suggested to be inked by all member banks.
The BRICS interbank cooperation mechanism:
In order to develop and strengthen economic ties and investment cooperation between BRICS countries, in 2010 state financial institutions for development and export support of the BRICS nations entered into a Memorandum on cooperation, thus creating the BRICS interbank cooperation mechanism.
One of the main purposes of cooperation is to set up a scheme designed to provide financing and banking services for future investment projects that could be beneficial for the economic development of the BRICS countries.
On the basis of agreements that have been signed within the framework of the BRICS interbank cooperation mechanism, the member banks have taken steps towards developing multilateral financial cooperation within the BRICS countries and created basic mechanisms for settling payments and financing investment projects in local currencies.
What are Blockchains?
Blockchains are a new data structure that is secure, cryptography-based, and distributed across a network. The technology supports cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, and the transfer of any data or digital asset. Spearheaded by Bitcoin, blockchains achieve consensus among distributed nodes, allowing the transfer of digital goods without the need for centralized authorisation of transactions. The present blockchain ecosystem is like the early Internet, a permissionless innovation environment in which email, the World Wide Web, Napster, Skype, and Uber were built.
How this operates?
The technology allows transactions to be simultaneously anonymous and secure, peer-to-peer, instant and frictionless. It does this by distributing trust from powerful intermediaries to a large global network, which through mass collaboration, clever code and cryptography, enables a tamper-proof public ledger of every transaction that’s ever happened on the network.
A block is the “current” part of a blockchain which records some or all of the recent transactions, and once completed, goes into the blockchain as permanent database. Each time a block gets completed, a new block is generated. Blocks are linked to each other (like a chain) in proper linear, chronological order with every block containing a hash of the previous block.
Benefits of blockchain technology:
As a public ledger system, blockchain records and validate each and every transaction made, which makes it secure and reliable.
All the transactions made are authorized by miners, which makes the transactions immutable and prevent it from the threat of hacking.
Blockchain technology discards the need of any third-party or central authority for peer-to-peer transactions.
It allows decentralization of the technology.
Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme
Cabinet approves on Fixation/Revision of ethanol price derived from B heavy molasses / partial sugarcane juice and 100% sugarcane juice under Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme for Ethanol Supply Year 2018-19.
The decision will serve multiple purposes of reducing excess sugar in the country, increasing liquidity with the sugar mills for settling cane farmer’s dues and making higher ethanol available for Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme.
All distilleries will be able to take benefit of the scheme and large number of them are expected to supply ethanol for the EBP programme. Remunerative price to ethanol suppliers will help in reduction of cane farmer’s arrears, in the process contributing to minimizing difficulty of sugarcane farmers.
Ethanol availability for EBP Programme is expected to increase significantly due to higher price being offered for procurement of ethanol from B heavy molasses / partial sugarcane juice and 100% sugarcane juice for first time.
Increased ethanol blending in petrol has many benefits including reduction in import dependency, support to agricultural sector, more environmental friendly fuel, lesser pollution and additional income to farmers.
Benefits of ethanol blending:
Increased ethanol blending in petrol has many benefits including reduction in import dependency, support to agricultural sector, more environmental friendly fuel, lesser pollution and additional income to farmers.
Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme:
It was launched by the Government in 2003 on pilot basis which has been subsequently extended to the Notified 21 States and 4 Union Territories to promote the use of alternative and environmental friendly fuels.
It aims at blending ethanol with petrol, thereby bringing it under the category of biofuels and saving millions of dollars by cutting fuel imports.
Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme is being implemented by the Ministry or Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs).
This intervention also seeks to reduce import dependency for energy requirements and give boost to agriculture sector.
Concerns and challenges:
There has been a consistent shortfall in supply of ethanol in the past, mainly on account of the cyclical nature of the sugarcane harvests in the country. There is “lack of an integrated approach in the EBP across its value chain.”
The National Policy on Bio-fuels has set a target of 20% blending of biofuels, both for bio-diesel and bio-ethanol. This will require an integrated approach in the Ethanol Blending Programme (EBP). The time is ripe for a cogent and consistent policy and administrative framework in the program implementation for the success of EBP.
The Archaeological Survey of India (Delhi Circle) of Ministry of Culture has discovered a hoard of 254 Copper Coins in the premises of Khirki Mosque during the course of conservation of the monument.
This mosque lies on the southern periphery of the village Khirki. The mosque was built by Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah, the Prime Minister of Firoz Shah Tughluq (1351-88), and is believed to be one of the seven mosques built by him.
Tamil Nadu bans e- cigarettes
- Tamil Nadu Government has issued order banning manufacture, sale and possession of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) or e-Cigarettes with immediate effect in the state.
- The ban covers distribution, trade, display, marketing, advertisement, use, import and possession of e-cigarettes as well.
- So far, Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar already have prohibited manufacture, import, sale and distribution of ENDs or e-cigarettes.
International Criminal Court (ICC)
- United States has recently threatened to prosecute ICC officials if Americans are charged with war crimes committed in Afghanistan.
- ICC is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal.
- It is headquartered in The Hague in the Netherlands.
- It has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, crime of aggression and war crimes.
- It is the world‘s first permanent international criminal court.
- It is intended to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore only exercise its jurisdiction when certain conditions are met.
- States which become party to the Rome Statute becomes member of ICC and the co-operation of the non-party states with the ICC is of voluntary nature.
- But when a case is referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council, all UN member states are obliged to cooperate, since its decisions are binding for all of them.
- India is not a signatory to the Rome Statute.
- The United States has not signed up to the court and in 2002, its Congress passed a law enabling U.S to invade the Netherlands to liberate any U.S. citizen held by the court.
- Union government has given a choice to Bru refugees in relief camps in Tripura, to either go back to their villages in Mizoram or be ready to be denied free ration and other facilities.
- In 1990s, Mizo nationalists had demanded that the Brus be left out of the state’s electoral rolls, contending that the tribe was not indigenous to Mizoram.
- The Bru militancy was a reactionary movement against Mizo nationalist groups.
- In 1997, the murder of a Mizo forest guard at the Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram allegedly by Bru militants led to a violent backlash against the community.
- It forced several thousand people belonging to Bru community to flee to neighbouring Tripura.
- The displaced Bru people from Mizoram have been living in various camps in Tripura since 1997.
- Recently, the Centre and the state governments of Tripura and Mizoram has recently signed an agreement for repatriation of Bru community from Tripura to Mizoram.
- Whale Sanctuary was proposed in South Atlantic by 39 countries in International Whaling Commission.
- It was meant to provide haven for endangered marine mammals.
- The idea was proposed by Brazil in 2001 in IWC meeting.
- It was co-sponsored by Argentina, Gabon, South Africa and Uruguay.
- In the recently concluded session of IWC in Brazil, pro-whaling nations blocked the proposal of setting up of sanctuary.
- Pro-whaling nations include Japan and Russia.