Insights Daily Current Events, 05 February 2016

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Insights Daily Current Events, 05 February 2016

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Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.

Julian Assange’s detention illegal, says UN panel

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has ruled the three-year period of political asylum sought by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London as ‘unlawful detention’.

  • This will be a major boost to the long fight mounted by Mr. Assange and his supporters against the Swedish and British governments’ efforts to arrest and extradite him to Sweden.

Background:

  • The Australian human rights campaigner, Julian Assange, was arrested in London in 2010 under a European arrest warrant issued by Sweden on charges of sexual assault and rape.
  • Assange sought political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 when the UK Supreme Court upheld the extradition orders. He has remained confined within the Embassy for the last three-and-a-half years with a posse of policemen on 24-hour vigil outside to arrest him if he stepped out.
  • He has strongly denied the charges of which two were dropped but not that of rape. He refused to be tried in Sweden fearing that he would be extradited to the United States, where he faces official secrecy charges for the publication by Wikileaks of thousands of classified documents.

Way ahead:

It should be noted here that the decisions of the UN panel are not binding. However, if these decisions are not followed, it will affect the international credibility of both governments.

Assange and WikiLeaks have been the subject of a secret grand jury investigation in Virginia that has been looking into whether to prosecute them over the US cable disclosures.

sources: the hindu.


 

Paper2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.

Accept Lodha report, fall in line: SC to BCCI

The Supreme Court recently declared that it will accept the Lodha committee report in its entirety.

  • The court has observed that the suggested structural reforms in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) were needed to cleanse the game.
  • The committee headed by former chief justice R.M. Lodha and comprising retired apex court judges Ashok Bhan and R. Raveendran submitted its report on 4 January with recommendations to cleanse the cricket board and the game.

Important recommendations:

Constitute one cricket body for each state: One association of each state will be a full member and have right to vote. One unit should represent one state.

CEO-run organisation: Committee suggested the restructuring of the BCCI’s administrative set-up, proposing the position of a CEO accountable to a nine-member apex council. An apex council for the BCCI comprising 9 members, of which 5 should be elected, 2 should be representatives of players association, and one woman. CEO to be assisted by 6 professional managers and the team of CEO and managers will be accountable to the apex council.

Under RTI: To ensure transparency in its functioning, the panel had said that it is important to bring the body under the purview of the Right to Information Act.

Ethics officer: The committee recommended the institution of the office of an Ethics Officer, who would be responsible for resolving issues related to the conflict of interest. Ethics officer would be a former High Court judge.

Electoral officer: The committee had also suggested the appointment of an Electoral Officer to conduct the Board elections. The electoral officer would oversee the entire election process relating to the office-bearers namely, preparation of voters list, publication, dispute about eligibility of the office-bearers

Ombudsman: It had also proposed an Ombudsman for dealing with internal conflicts. Ombudsman can take cognisance of complaints suo moto, or received complaint or referred complaint by the apex council.

It also suggested that a person cannot be a BCCI office-bearer and a state association office-bearer at the same time.

sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

N-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.

  • 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 last year.
  • Rosatom as part of its plans for expanding its global footprint is in the process of opening its regional office for South Asia office in Mumbai.

Details of the Action Program signed in December 2015:

  • 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.

Background:

So far, three joint committees have been set up under the Indo-Russian Coordinating Committee on cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy established in December 2014. The committees set up were on the nuclear fuel cycle, nuclear energy and scientific-technical cooperation.

Russia is currently building six reactors in Kudankulam of which the first unit was commissioned in autumn 2013

Significance of this move:

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

sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure.

Nod for road, port projects

The Public Private Project Appraisal Committee and the Empowered Committee (PPPAC) has cleared six road projects and a port sector project with a total estimated cost of Rs. 9000 crore.

  • The road projects include four national highways.

About PPPAC:

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in October, 2005 approved the procedure for approval of public private partnership (PPP) projects. Pursuant to this decision, a Public Private Partnership Approval Committee (PPPAC) was set up comprising of the following:

  1. Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (in the Chair)
  2. Secretary, Planning Commission
  3. Secretary, Department of Expenditure;
  4. Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs; and
  5. Secretary of the Department sponsoring a project

sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Compulsory licensing in manufacturing may slow investments: EU

A senior European Union (EU) official 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.

Where it is permitted?

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.

  • 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.”

What’s the issue now?

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.

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.

sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

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

India through the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, has signed a Cooperation Agreement to acquire the status of the Associate Member State European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO)

  • After Singapore, India will now become second such country outside the European region to sign this agreement.

Benefits for India:

  • This would strengthen scientific interaction and collaborative research between India and Europe in this field.
  • With this, 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.

About EMBO:

  • EMBO is an organization 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 organization is based in Germany.

sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Health.

WHO certifies vaccine maker GreenSignal Bio

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has accorded PQP (Pre-qualification of Medicines Programme) certification to chennai-based GreenSignal Bio Pharma Pvt. Ltd., a BCG vaccine-making firm.

  • GreenSignal is the second Indian company to get PQP certification from WHO.

Implications:

  • PQP certification helps GreenSignal to participate in the global immunisation programme, which is facilitated through international procurement agencies such as UNICEF and others. These global institutions go by the WHO’s list of pre-qualified products while making a decision on procurement for medicines for distribution in resource-limited nations.
  • The WHO certification will provide GreenSignal access to 5-7 countries with UNICEF setting it year-wise allotment target for supply of BCG vaccine.

Why PQP?

The WHO Prequalification of Medicines Programme (PQP) helps ensure that medicines supplied by procurement agencies meet acceptable standards of quality, safety and efficacy.

sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

India ratifies pact on nuclear compensation

India has ratified the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC), which sets parameters on a nuclear operator’s financial liability.

  • In this regard, India has submitted the Instrument of Ratification of the Convention to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the depositary of the said Convention
  • India had signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) in 2010. 

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.

sources: the hindu.