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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 25 October 2019


Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 25 October 2019


 

Table of contents:

 

GS Paper 1:

  1. Vishwa Shanti Stupa.
  2. Kartarpur Sahib Corridor Agreement.
  3. Kanya Sumangala Yojana.

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. What is AGR?
  2. Nanopharmaceuticals.
  3. Global mobility report.

 

Facts for prelims:

  1. East Antarctic Marine Protected Area.
  2. Chenani-Nashri tunnel renamed.
  3. Open general export licences (OGELs).
  4. Thotlakonda monastery.

GS Paper 1:

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

 

Vishwa Shanti Stupa

 

What to study?

For Prelims: About Vishwa Shanti Stupas- significance, key facts on Rajgir.

For Mains: Teachings of Buddha and Mahaveer- significance.

 

Context: Golden Jubilee of Vishwa Shanti Stupa in Rajgir.

 

About Vishwa Shanti Stupa (World peace pagoda):

  • Constructed atop the Ratnagiri Hill, it is the world’s highest peace pagoda.
  • Conceptualised by renowned Buddhist monk Nipponzan Myohoji and built by Japanese monk Fujii Guruji.
  • Built completely with marble, the stupa comprises four golden statues of Lord Buddha with each representing his life periods of birth, enlightenment, preaching and death.
  • There are 7 Peace Pagoda or Shanti Stupas in India, other Stupas are Global Vipassana Pagoda Mumbai, Deekshabhoomi Stupa Nagpur and Buddha Smriti Park Stupa Patna. 

 

About Rajgir:

  • The first Buddhist Council, immediately after the Mahaparinirvana of Lord Buddha, was convened at this place which presently is called Rajgir.
  • It was at the Gridhakuta, the hill of the vultures, where Buddha made Mauryan king Bimbisara convert to Buddhism.
  • Rajgir is also known as Panchpahari as it is surrounded by five holy hills.
  • The legend has it that the ancient city Rajagriha existed even before Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. It was the ancient capital city of the Magadh rulers until the 5th century BC when Ajatashatru moved the capital to Pataliputra (which is now known as Patna).
  • Lord Mahavira too spent 14 years of his life at Rajgir and nearby areas.

 

Sources: pib.


Topics Covered:

  1. Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

 

Kartarpur Sahib Corridor Agreement

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Location and significance of the corridor, issues involved in its construction.

 

Context: India signs the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor Agreement with Pakistan.

The Agreement lays down a formal framework for operationalisation of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor.

 

The highlights of the Agreement are:

  1. Indian pilgrims of all faiths and persons of Indian origin can use the corridor;
  2. The travel will be Visa Free;
  3. Pilgrims need to carry only a valid passport;
  4. Persons of Indian Origin need to carry OCI card along with the passport of their country;
  5. The Corridor is open from dawn to dusk. Pilgrims travelling in the morning will have to return on the same day;
  6. The Corridor will be operational throughout the year, except on notified days, to be informed in advance;
  7. Pilgrims will have a choice to visit as individuals or in groups, and also to travel on foot;
  8. India will send the list of pilgrims to Pakistan 10 days ahead of travel date. Confirmation will be sent to pilgrims 4 days before the travel date;
  9. The Pakistan side has assured India to make sufficient provision for ‘Langar’ and distribution of ‘Prasad’.

 

What is the Kartarpur Corridorproject?

The corridor – often dubbed as the Road to Peace” – will connect Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistans Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Indias Gurdaspur district.

 

The shrine and its significance:

  • The gurdwara in Kartarpur stands on the bank of the Ravi, about 120 km northeast of Lahore.
  • It was here that Guru Nanak assembled a Sikh community and lived for 18 years until his death in 1539.
  • The shrine is visible from the Indian side, as Pakistani authorities generally trim the elephant grass that would otherwise obstruct the view.
  • Indian Sikhs gather in large numbers for darshan from the Indian side, and binoculars are installed at Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak.

 

Sources: pib.


Topics Covered:

  1. Role of women and women’s organization and related issues.

 

Kanya Sumangala Yojana

 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Key features and significance of the programme.

 

Context: Kanya Sumangala Yojana to be launched for girl child in UP.

 

Key features:

  1. It will provide a fund worth Rs 15000 to every family where a girl child is born. The amount will be released to the family in a phased manner.
  2. The scheme has been designed in a way that the parents will have to take proper care of the girl child with respect to her health and education and other aspects, in order to get the benefit.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 3:

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

What is AGR?

 

What to study?

For Prelims: What is AGR? How is it calculated?

For Mains: What is the impact of latest ruling? Issues and ways to address them.

 

Context: The Supreme Court has upheld the definition of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) calculation as stipulated by the Department of Telecommunications.

This means that telecom companies will have to pay up as much as Rs 92,642 crore to the government.

 

What is AGR?

Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) is the usage and licensing fee that telecom operators are charged by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

It is divided into spectrum usage charges and licensing fees, pegged between 3-5 percent and 8 percent respectively.

 

How is it calculated and whats the contention?

As per DoT, the charges are calculated based on all revenues earned by a telco – including non-telecom related sources such as deposit interests and asset sales. Telcos, on their part, insist that AGR should comprise only the revenues generated from telecom services.

 

Whats the issue now?

  1. In 2005, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) challenged the government’s definition for AGR calculation.
  2. Later in 2015, the TDSAT said AGR included all receipts except capital receipts and revenue from non-core sources such as rent, profit on the sale of fixed assets, dividend, interest and miscellaneous income, etc.
  3. The regulator has also included forex adjustment under AGR apart from ruling that licenses fee will not be charged twice on the same income. It, however, exempted bad debt, foreign exchange fluctuations, and sale of scrap to be calculated for AGR.
  4. The government has also raised the issue of under-reporting of revenues to duck charges. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) called out telcos for understating revenues to the tune of Rs 61,064.5 crore.
  5. Later, the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) upheld the DoT’s definition of AGR (factors against which the license fee is payable) with certain exemptions.
  6. The DoT, however, filed an appeal before the Supreme Court, citing that the TDSAT had no jurisdiction on the validity of terms and conditions of licenses.

 

Impact of the ruling:

  1. Clearly this judgment has significantly damaging implications for India’s telecom industry, which is already reeling under huge financial stress and is left with only four operators.
  2. Significant investment of several billion dollars has been made in creating world class networks. This order has huge impact on two private operators while most of the other impacted operators have exited the sector.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

Nanopharmaceuticals.

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Nanopharmaceuticals- meaning and features.

For Mains: The need for, significance of the technology, challenges involved and the overview of guidelines.

 

Context: Guidelines Released for Evaluation of Nanopharmaceuticals in India.

Guidelines are developed by DBT, ICMR and Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO).

Developed in line with the provisions of Schedule Y of Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 as well as Second Schedule of the New Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules, 2019 with specific requirements for nanopharmaceuticals.

 

Need for these guidelines:

Nanocarrier based targeted drug delivery is an emerging field with introduction of nanopharmaceuticals in the market. These nanoformulations have higher efficacy, lower toxicity and are safer than the conventional drugs.

Therefore, to provide transparent, consistent and predictable regulatory pathways for nanopharmaceuticals in India these guidelines were necessary.

 

Application of these guidelines:

The guidelines apply to the nanopharmaceuticals in the form of finished formulation as well as Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) of a new molecule or an already approved molecule with altered nanoscale dimensions, properties or phenomenon associated with the application of nanotechnology intended to be used for treatment, in vivo diagnosis, mitigation, cure or prevention of diseases and disorders in humans.

 

Significance:

  • These guidelines mark one of the most important steps for delineating quality, safety and efficacy assessment of the novel nanoformulations.
  • The guidelines will pave the way for significant benefits through such cutting edge technology and contribute to the mission on “Affordable Health Care for All”.
  • Private investments would also be attracted since these guidelines would strengthen the regulatory system.

 

What are Nanopharmaceuticals?

They are a relatively new class of therapeutic-containing nanomaterials that often have unique ” nanoproperties” (physiochemical properties) due to their small size (compared with their bulk-phase counterparts) a high surface-to-volume ratio and the possibility of modulating their properties.

  • Nanopharmaceuticals present novel reformulation opportunities for active agents (e.g., single molecule drugs, proteins, nucleic acids, etc.) that were previously insoluble or could not be targeted to a specific site of the body where they were needed.
  • Nanopharmaceuticals can also increase drug half-life by reducing immunogenicity and diminishing drug metabolism.
  • With these advantages, nanopharmaceuticals have the ability to extend the economic life of proprietary drugs, thereby creating additional revenue streams.

 

Sources: pib.


Topics Covered:

  1. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Global mobility report

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Key findings of the report and about SuM4All.

For Mains: Concern and challenges, ways to address them, overview of GRA.

 

Context: Global Mobility Report has been released by Sustainable Mobility for All (SuM4All) initiative.

 

What is SuM4All?

The SuM4All initiative, launched in 2017, is an umbrella platform that brings together 55 public and private organisations and companies to act collectively to implement the SDGs and transform the transport sector.

 

Key findings:

  1. Not a single country — developed or developing — is on track to achieve sustainability in the transportation sector and attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mandated by the United Nations.
  2. Developed countries outperformed developing countries on all mobility policy goals, except per capita transport-related greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. The gap is more striking on safety and air pollution, placing a higher burden on developing countries compared with the developed countries. 
  4. Other indicators also showed wide disparities between developed and developing countries.
  5. With growing urbanisation, increasing world trade and new technologies, the global mobility system is stressed. 
  6. More than one billion people or one-third of the global rural population, lack access to all-weather roads and transport services.

 

What needs to be done?

  • Closing transport access gap in rural areas can connect this population to education, health and jobs. 
  • Improvements in border administration, transport and communication infrastructure can also increase global gross domestic product (GDP) by up to $2.6 trillion.
  • Halving the pollution caused by the transport sector can help an additional 1.6 billion people to breathe cleaner air.

 

Global Roadmap for Action (GRA):

The report charted a Global Roadmap for Action (GRA), which provides a catalogue of policy measures that have been used and tested around the world to achieve four policy goals — universal access, efficiency, green mobility and safety.

The GRA will help countries to identify gaps, crucial steps and appropriate policies to ensure that transport sector contributes to attain the SDGs by 2030. 

GRA will work in three ways to the policy agenda on mobility:

  1. Charting mobility performances of 183 developed and developing countries.
  2. Providing a catalogue of suitable policy measures that have been used and tested around the world to achieve any of the four policy goals.
  3. Laying out a methodology to extract from this catalogue of policies those measures that are most impactful and relevant to a country’s context.

 

Sources: Down to earth.


Facts for prelims:

 

East Antarctic Marine Protected Area:

Context: A push by Australia and France to create a massive ocean sanctuary in east Antarctica is in doubt as nations meet in Hobart to discuss the plans, with China and Russia opposing.

Key facts:

  • This protected area was proposed by Australia and the European Union.
  • The area would conserve examples of biodiversity in the high latitudes of the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean.
  • The area contains distinctive deep water flora and fauna and supports important ecosystem roles, such as feeding areas for marine mammals, penguins and other seabirds.
  • Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) already has two existing marine protected areas (MPAs), one on the South Orkney Islands southern shelf (established in 2009), and the other in the Ross Sea region (established in 2016).

Chenani-Nashri tunnel renamed:

Context: Renamed after Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee .

Key facts:

  • The 9km Chenani Nashri Tunnel is on NH 44 in Jammu & Kashmir.
  • It is the longest such state of art tunnel in the country, connecting Udhampur to Ramban in Jammu.
  • It is the world’s sixth road tunnel with a transverse ventilation system enabled and controlled by ABB software.
  • It also boasts features like Integrated Traffic Control System (ITCS), Video Surveillance System, FM Rebroadcast System, Entrance Detection Control System and Active Firefighting System.

 

Open general export licences (OGELs):

Government has approved issuance of two open general export licences (OGELs) for export of certain parts and components as well as intra-company transfer of technology to select countries.

What is it?

  1. The OGEL will be a one-time export licence to be granted to a company for a specific period which will be two years initially.
  2. The application for grant of OGEL will be considered by the Department of Defence Production (DPP) on a case-to-case basis.
  3. The countries allowed under the OGELs are: Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK, USA, Canada, Italy, Poland and Mexico.
  4. For acquiring the licences, the applicant is mandatory to have Import-Export certificate. The quarterly & end of the year reports on all the transactions done under OGELs should be submitted to DPP for examination and post-export verification.
  5. The items permitted under OGEL include components of ammunition & fuse setting device without energetic and explosive material; firing control & related alerting and warning equipment & related system; and body protective items.
  6. Complete aircraft or complete unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and any components specially designed or modified for UAVs are excluded under this licence.

 

Thotlakonda monastery:

Why in News? The mahastupa of the 2,000-year-old Buddhist heritage site of Thotlakonda, reconstructed in 2016 by the state archaeology department, has collapsed during the recent torrential rainfall.

Key facts:

  • Thotlakonda Buddhist Complexis situated near Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, India.
  • Thotlakonda was well within the influence of ancient Kalinga, which was an important source of dissemination of Buddhism to Sri Lanka and various parts of Southeast Asia.
  • The excavations have established the existence of a Hinayana Buddhist complex which flourished 2000 years ago.
  • The excavations reveal Satavahana dynasty lead and Roman silver coins indicating foreign trade; terracotta tiles, stucco decorative pieces, sculptured panels, miniature stupa models in stone, and Buddha footprints were also found.
  • The excavations also yielded twelve inscriptions in the Brahmi script.