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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 19 DECEMBER 2019

INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 19 DECEMBER 2019

Table of contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Can the strength of Lok Sabha be increased?

2. Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana-lll (PMGSY-III).

3. How a US President can be impeached?

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Biosimilar medicines.

2. Silver Line project.

 

Facts for prelims:

1. Exercise ‘Apharan’.

2. Houbara bustard.


GS Paper  : 2


Topics Covered:

1. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Can the strength of Lok Sabha be increased?

What to study?

For Prelims: How Lok Sabha strength is determined? Constitutional basis.

For Mains: need for revision of the numbers, challenges and significance.

 

Context: Former President Pranab Mukherjee has advocated for increase in the number of seats in Lok Sabha should be increased to 1,000 from the present 543.

How the strength of Lok Sabha is determined presently?

  • Article 81 of the Constitution defines the composition of the House of the People or Lok Sabha.
  • It states that the House shall not consist of more than 550 elected members of whom not more than 20 will represent UTs.
  • It also mandates that the number of Lok Sabha seats allotted to a state would be such that the ratio between that number and the population of the state is, as far as possible, the same for all states. This is to ensure that every state is equally represented.
  • Exceptions: However, this logic does not apply to small states whose population is not more than 60 lakh.
  • So, at least one seat is allocated to every state even if it means that its population-to-seat-ratio is not enough to qualify it for that seat.

Basis for determination of population:

As per Clause 3 of Article 81, population, for the purpose of allocation of seats, means “population as ascertained at the last preceding Census of which the relevant figures have been published” — in other words, the last published Census.

However, as a result of an amendment to this Clause in 2003, the “population” now means population as per the 1971 Census — and will be so until the first Census that is taken after 2026.

Need for more seats:

  1. The composition of the Lower House has remained more or less the same for four decades. Every MP currently represents an average 16-18 lakh Indians — too large a number to be kept in touch with in a meaningful way. Therefore, the number of Lok Sabha seats should be rationalized on the basis of population.
  2. The Constitution (126th Amendment) Bill passed by Parliament last week, while extending the reservation for SC/STs, did away with the provision for nomination of Anglo Indians. This has brought the strength of Lok Sabha down to 543 now.
  3. Besides, even after statehood was attained by Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram in 1986, the creation of a Legislative Assembly for the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and the creation of new states such as Uttarakhand, the number of seats have not been revised.

Sources: Indian Express.


Topics Covered:

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

Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana-lll (PMGSY-III)

What to study?

For prelims and mains: features and significance of PMGSY, need for enhanced rural connectivity.

Context: Phase III of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) has been launched.

For Prelims and Mains:

Features of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana-lll (PMGSY-III):

  1. Under the PMGSY-III Scheme, it is proposed to consolidate 1,25,000 Km road length in the States.
  2. It involves consolidation of Through Routes and Major Rural Links connecting habitations to Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs), Higher Secondary Schools and Hospitals.
  3. The funds would be shared in the ratio of 60:40 between the Centre and State for all States except for 8 North Eastern states and Himachal Pradesh & Uttarakhand for which it is 90:10.

Background:

A total of 5,99,090 Km road length has been constructed under the scheme since inception till April, 2019 (inclusive of PMGSY-I, PMGSY-II and RCPLWEA Scheme.

PMGSY-I:

PMGSY was launched in December, 2000 with an objective to provide single all-weather road connectivity to eligible unconnected habitation of designated population size (500+ in plain areas and 250+ in North-East, hill, tribal and desert areas as per Census, 2001) for overall socio-economic development of the areas.

Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism Area (RCPLWEA):

Launched in the year 2016 as a separate vertical under PMGSY to provide all-weather road connectivity with necessary culverts and cross-drainage structures in 44 districts (35 are worst LWE affected districts and 09 are adjoining districts), which are critical from security and communication point of view. Under the Scheme, 5,066 Km road length has been sanctioned.

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered:

  1. Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.

How a US President can be impeached?

What to study?

For Prelims: How is US President impeached?

For Mains: Impeachment process in India.

 

Context: Donald Trump has become the third President to be impeached by the US House. He was accused of enlisting foreign government to investigate political rival before 2020 election.

Background:

  • So far only two American presidents have been impeached. In 1998, President Bill Clinton was impeached on charges of sexual relationship with his intern. However, the senate acquitted him. Before him, in 1868, President Andrew Johnson was impeached. He was acquitted by one vote in the Senate.
  • In 1974, President Nixon resigned over water gate corruption charges. The judiciary committee approved the articles of impeachment before the house could even pass them.

For Prelims and Mains:

What is Impeachment?

Impeachment is a provision that allows Congress to remove the President of the United States.

Under the US Constitution:

  1. The House of Representatives (Lower House) has the “the sole power of impeachment” while the Senate (Upper House) has “the sole power to try all impeachments”.
  2. The Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court has the duty of presiding over impeachment trials in the Senate.

Grounds for impeachment:

The President can be removed from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”.

Essentially, it means an abuse of power by a high-level public official. This does not necessarily have to be a violation of an ordinary criminal statute. Historically, in the US, it has encompassed corruption and other abuses, including trying to obstruct judicial proceedings.

The process:

  1. It begins with an investigation by a House committee. If they find that there is enough evidence of wrongdoing, it will refer the matter to the full House.                                                      Stage_By_Stage
  2. HOUSE VOTE: When the full House votes, if one or more of the articles of impeachment gets a majority vote, the President is impeached. Next, the proceedings move to the Senate.
  3. SENATE TRIAL & VOTE:The Senate holds a trial, overseen by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. A team of lawmakers from the House, known as managers, play the role of prosecutors. The President has defence lawyers, and the Senate serves as the jury. If at least two-thirds of the Senators present find the President guilty, he is removed and the Vice President takes over as President.

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper : 3


Topics Covered:

Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Silver Line project

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Key features, geographical location and significance of the project.

Context: The Ministry of Railways has granted in-principle approval for the ‘Silver Line’ project, a proposal of the Kerala government.

About the Project:

  • It involves laying of semi high-speed trains between the two corners of the state of Kerala.
  • It is 532- km long. The corridor will be built away from the existing line between Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur.
  • It aims to connect major districts and towns with semi high-speed trains that will run on their own tracks.
  • The Kerala Rail Development Corporation (K-Rail), a joint venture between the Ministry of Railways and the Kerala government to execute projects on a cost-sharing basis, will be the nodal agency.

 Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered:

Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Biosimilar medicine

What to study?

For Prelims: About Trastuzumab, What are Biosimilars?

For Mains: Significance and the need for Biosimilars.

Context: WHO prequalifies first biosimilar medicinetrastuzumab- to increase worldwide access to life-saving breast cancer treatment.

  • Trastuzumab – a monoclonal antibody – was included in the WHO Essential Medicines List in 2015 as an essential treatment for about 20% of breast cancers.

Background:

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. 2.1 million women contracted breast cancer in 2018. 630 000 of them died from the disease, many because of late diagnosis and lack of access to affordable treatment.

For Prelims:

What are Biosimilars?

  • It is a biologic medical product that is almost an identical copy of an original product that is manufactured by a different company.
  • They are officially approved versions of original “innovator” products and can be manufactured when the original product’s patent expires.
  • Reference to the innovator product is an integral component of the approval.

Characteristics:

  • Biological medicines contain active substances from a biological source, such as living cells or organisms.
  • Most biological medicines in current clinical use contain active substances made of proteins.

Difference between biosimilars and generics:

  • Biosimilars involve developing equivalent of biological entitywhile generics involve developing equivalent of a chemical entity-the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient.
  • Cost: Generic drugs are chemically identical to the original branded drug and, as such, cost significantly less because they don’t require much testing. Because biosimilars are made from living organisms, though, and don’t contain identical ingredients to their name-brand counterparts, they still require some testing. So, they cost more than generics, but less than the branded biologic.

Value addition for Mains:

Need of the hour:

  • Biosimilars industry can act as a springboard for the pharma cos to innovate, excel and earn profit and the same needs to promoted at the earliest.
  • we need to increase access through affordable pricing and some of the drugs need to be under price control.
  • Governments can support growth in production of complex generics and biosimilars by clarifying the regulatory framework for them, which is still evolving in many countries.

Biologics_and_Biosimilars

Sources: the Hindu.


Facts for prelims:


Exercise ‘Apharan’:

It is a large scale Anti Hijacking Exercise conducted recently by the Indian Navy in collaboration with Indian Coast Guard.

The latest edition was held in Kerala.

Aim: To streamline the response mechanism/ preparedness to thwart any attempt to hijack a merchant vessel or attempt forced entry of a rogue/commandeered merchant vessel into Indian harbour.

Houbara bustard:

Context: Pakistan has issued special permits to the Emir of Qatar and nine other members of the royal family to hunt the houbara bustard, an internationally protected bird species.

Key facts:

  • The houbara bustard, which lives in arid climates, comes in two distinct species as recognised by the IUCN, one residing in North Africa (Chlamydotis undulata) and the other in Asia (Chlamydotis macqueenii).
  • The population of the Asian houbara bustards extends from northeast Asia, across central Asia, the Middle East, and the Arabian Peninsula to reach the Sinai desert.
  • Roughly 33,000 Asian houbara bustards and over 22,000 of the North African houbara bustards remain today.
  • After breeding in the spring, the Asian bustards migrate south to spend the winter in Pakistan, the Arabian Peninsula and nearby Southwest Asia.

IUCN Conservation status: Vulnerable.

Note: Some articles of today’s current events will be covered tomorrow.