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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 28 March 2020

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. What is a Schedule H1 Drug?

2. RBI’s COVID-19 Economic Relief Package.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Institutions in News- National Testing Agency.

2. What is cantonment board?

3. What is Force Majeure?

4. What is Ossification test?

5. Indian Scientists’ Response to CoViD-19 (ISRC).

6. What is Arr- Rinam.

7. SOLIDARITY trial.

8. “Operation Namaste”.

9. Mo Jiban.

10. Fight Corona IDEAthon.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

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

What is a Schedule H1 Drug?

What to study?

For Prelims: Schedule H1 Drugs, overview Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

For Mains: Significance and implications of this decision.

Context: The government has notified anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine under Schedule-H1.

This was done in exercise of its powers conferred by Section 26B of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 (23 of 1940).

  • The move is aimed at stopping misuse of the drug which has now been allowed by the government for prophylactic use in high risk contacts of Covid-19 patients and healthcare workers treating such patients.

 Implications of this classification:

  • It restricts its sale only based on prescription.
  • The sale of the drug from now on should be in accordance with the conditions for sale of drugs as specified in Schedule H1 to the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
    This would mean that any preparation containing the said drug will have a warning label of ‘only prescription sale’ and against self-medication.
  • Additionally, chemists would need to maintain records for name and address of the prescriber, the name of the patient, the name of the drug and the quantity supplied and such records shall be maintained for three years and be open for inspection.

What are Schedule H1 Drugs?

The Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, are the set of rules under The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, which has provisions for classification of drugs into different schedules and also guidelines for storage, sale, display.

Schedule H1 has been introduced through Gazette notification GSR 588 (E) dated 30-08-2013 to check the indiscriminate use of antibiotics, anti-TB and some other drugs in the country.

The schedule contains certain 3rd and 4th generation antibiotics, certain habit forming drugs and anti-TB drugs.

 As per government notification, these drugs are required to be sold in the country with the following conditions:

  1. The supply of a drug specified in Schedule H1 shall be recorded in a separate register at the time of the supply giving the name and address of the prescriber, the name of the patient, the name of the drug and the quantity supplied and such records shall be maintained for three years and be open for inspection.
  2. The drug specified in Schedule H1 shall be labelled with the symbol Rx which shall be in red and conspicuously displayed on the left top corner of the label, and shall also be labelled with the following words in a box with a red border:

Schedule_h1_drug

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Classification of drugs in India.
  2. Schedule H vs X drugs.
  3. Important drugs under this schedule.

Mains Link:

The government has recently notified anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine under Schedule-H1. What are schedule H1 drugs? Why they are significant? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

RBI’s COVID-19 Economic Relief Package

What to study?

For Prelims: Key terms mentioned, key changes made.

For Mains: Significance and the need for these measures.

Context: Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has come out with its own measures to help deal with economic fall out of COVID-19 pandemic.

This was the first time that the MPC met outside its bi-monthly meeting calendar.

Four steps taken by the RBI:

  1. Increase the liquidity in the system.
  2. Make sure the lower policy rate is transmitted. Steps one and two are linked.
  3. Give a three-month window for a payback on all term loans.
  4. Take steps to reduce volatility and provide stability.

Measures announced and their impact:

  1. Cut in repo rate:

A big cut in the repo rate by 75 basis points (100 basis points make a per cent, so three-quarters of a percentage point) to 4.4%.

A low repo rate has the overall effect of reducing interest rates for the system. Lower rates make it easier for entrepreneurs to take loans for working capital and for households for homes, vehicles and so on.

  1. Cut in reverse repo rate:

The ratio has been cut by 90 bps to 4%.

This is the rate at which banks lend to the RBI.

A reduction of the reverse repo to 4% makes it unattractive to banks to park it with the RBI and banks will be nudged to lend.

  1. Moratorium on Repayments of Loans:

RBI has also allowed banks to defer payment of Equated Monthly Instalments (EMIs) on home, car, personal loans as well as credit card dues for three months till May 31.

The RBI also allowed lending institutions, banks to defer interest on working capital repayments by 3 months — a move aimed at addressing the distress among firms as production is down.

For banks and lending institutions, this will affect their cash flows as they may not be getting repayments for three months. But the RBI has reduced their cash reserve ratio (CRR) requirements, providing them additional liquidity.

  1. Cut in Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR):

The RBI reduced the cash reserve ratio (CRR) by a full percentage point down to 3% for a year. The CRR is the percentage of demand and time deposits banks have to keep with the RBI.

RBI has reduced the CRR to 3%, freeing up ₹1.37 trillion for banks to lend. CRR has been chosen rather than SLR because this increases ‘primary liquidity’ with the banks a bit better.

  1. Targeted long-term repo operations:

RBI will lend money to banks (a total of ₹1 trillion) that can be invested in bonds and other forms of lending instruments.

TLTRO will provide financing to credit institutions.

  1. Marginal standing facility (MSF):

₹1.37 trillion will be made available under the emergency lending window called the marginal standing facility (MSF).

Banks will now be able to borrow 3% of their deposits under this window, up from the current 2%. Basically, RBI is willing to lend more than before.

Sources: pib.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Disaster and disaster management.

Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF)

What to study?

For Prelims: Funding mechanism, contributions, administration and proceeds.

For Mains: Need for and significance of PMNRF.

Context: The Vice President of India and the Chairman Rajya Sabha, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu has contributed a sum equivalent to a month’s salary to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) to strengthen the government’s efforts in combating COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

What is PMNRF? When was it setup?

In pursuance of an appeal by the then Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in January, 1948, the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) was established with public contributions to assist displaced persons from Pakistan.

  • The resources of the PMNRF are now utilized primarily to render immediate relief to families of those killed in natural calamities like floods, cyclones and earthquakes, etc. and to the victims of the major accidents and riots.
  • Assistance from PMNRF is also rendered, to partially defray the expenses for medical treatment like heart surgeries, kidney transplantation, cancer treatment, etc.

Key features:

  1. Disbursements are made with the approval of the Prime Minister.
  2. PMNRF has not been constituted by the Parliament.
  3. The fund is recognized as a Trust under the Income Tax Act and the same is managed by Prime Minister or multiple delegates for national causes.
  4. PMNRF is exempt under Income Tax Act.
  5. Prime Minister is the Chairman of PMNRF and is assisted by Officers/ Staff on honorary basis.
  6. These contributions also qualify as CSR (corporate social responsibility) spend for companies, making it more attractive in terms of tax exemptions.

How are the surplus funds of PMNRF deployed?

In general, funds are either disbursed immediately or they are committed for specific purposes.The balance of the funds invested in various forms with scheduled commercial banks and other agencies to ensure long term sustainability.

Type of contributions accepted in PMNRF:

  1. PMNRF accepts only voluntary donations by individuals and institutions.
  2. Contributions flowing out of budgetary sources of Government or from the balance sheets of the public sector undertakings are not accepted.
  3. At the time of natural calamity of devastating scale, Prime Minister, makes an appeal for donation to the fund.

Sources: pib.

 


Facts for Prelims


Institutions in News- National Testing Agency:

In pursuance of the Budget Announcement 2017-18, the Union Cabinet, in November 2017, approved creation of the National Testing Agency (NTA) as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct entrance examinations for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the country.

Constitution: NTA will be chaired by an eminent educationist appointed by MHRD.

The CEO will be the Director General to be appointed by the Government.

There will be a Board of Governors comprising members from user institutions.

The Director General will be assisted by 9 verticals headed by academicians/ experts.

Finances: NTA will be given a one-time grant of Rs.25 crore from the Government of India to start its operation in the first year. Thereafter, it will be financially self-sustainable.

 

What is a Cantonment Board?

A Cantonment Board is a body corporate under the Cantonments Act, 2006 having perpetual succession.

As per Section 10(2) of the Act, every Cantonment Board is deemed to be a municipality under clause (e) of article 243P of the Constitution for the purpose of:

  1. Receiving grants and allocations; or
  2. Implementing the Central Government schemes of social sector, public health, hygiene, safety, water supply, sanitation, urban renewal and education.

How are they administered?

The overall municipal administration of the Cantt areas comes under Cantonment Boards which are democratic bodies.

Difference between Cantonments and Military Stations:

Cantonments are different from the Military Stations in that the Military Stations are purely meant for the use and accommodation of the armed forces and these are established under an executive order whereas the Cantonments are areas which comprise of both military and civil population.

 

What is Force Majeure?

Context: Indian Railways has decided that the period from 22.03.2020 to 14.04.2020 shall be treated under “Force Majeure”.

During this period no demurrage, wharfage, stacking, stabling, detention and ground usage charge shall be leviable.

What is it? A force majeure (FM) means extraordinary events or circumstance beyond human control such as an event described as an Act of God (like a natural calamity).

 

What is Ossification test?

It is the primary test for age determination.

Human bones are remodelled and new layer of bone material is laid by a process called ossification (or osteogenesis). Based upon this phenomenon, ossification test is carried out.

Under Indian law: Courts have held that medical opinion based upon ossification test is merely an expert opinion under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. Therefore, it cannot be binding upon courts. In State of Madhya Pradesh v. Anoop Singh, court held that the ossification test is not sole criteria for determination of age.

Other key facts:

  • This test only tells the ‘estimated’ age of a person and not the exact age.
  • The test is not useful when a person has crossed 25-27 years of age. This is primarily because nearly all the bones are completely ossified and the skeletal growth ceases by the age of 25 years.

Why in News?

Over a month after a boy was charged with rioting and arrested by police during the communal violence in north-east Delhi and subsequently sent to Mandoli jail, a Delhi court granted him bail recently following results of the bone ossification test confirming he is a minor.

 

Indian Scientists’ Response to CoViD-19 (ISRC):

  • It is a voluntary group of scientists who regularly discuss the rapidly evolving situation with its dire need for science communication.
  • With nearly 200 members, the group has scientists from institutions such as the NCBS, the IISc, the TIFR, the IITs, the IISERs and many others.
  • The group aims to study existing and available data to bring out analyses that will support the Central, State and local governments in carrying out their tasks.
  • This platform works through two channels — phone and WhatsApp to connect people in need with those who can provide help.

 

Arr-Rinam:

  • It is a tribal lockdown ritual observed in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It is the Galo equivalent of lockdown imposed by consensus for 48 hours whenever an epidemic strikes.
  • It has been imposed now on account of COVID- 19 spread.
  • It was last performed almost four decades ago when a water-borne disease had affected many members of the community.
  • The Adi community inhabiting East Siang and Lower Dibang Valley districts too performed a similar ritual called Motor that they believe lets shamans with legendary powers to locate wild herbs to combat an epidemic.

 

SOLIDARITY trial:

  • World Health Organization (WHO) announced a large global trial, called SOLIDARITY, to find out whether any can treat infections with the new coronavirus for the dangerous respiratory disease.
  • The study has been designed to generate the robust data needed to show which treatments are the most effective.
  • India has volunteered to participate in this trial.
  • Many countries, including Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and Thailand, have already confirmed that they will join the solidarity trial.
  • The Solidarity Trial will test four different drugs or combinations — remdesivir, a combination of two drugs, lopinavir and ritonavir, the two drugs plus interferon beta, and chloroquine — and will compare their effectiveness to what is called standard of care, the regular support hospitals treating COVID-19 patients use now.

WHO has also created a Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund, to help provide protective equipment for front-line health workers, equip diagnostic laboratories, improve surveillance and data collection and take other critical steps to scale up the public health response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

“Operation Namaste”:

Indian Army launched “Operation Namaste” to contain the spread of Corona Virus in the country.

Under the operation, the army will help the Government of India fight against the deadly disease.

Under the operation, Indian Army has established 8 quarantine so far. Also, Command wise help line numbers have been established.

Facilities for the families of the army men have been arranged to visit nearest camps in case of emergency while they are away serving the country.

 

Mo Jiban:

It is a new programme launched by Odisha Government, under which people of the State have to take a resolute vow to stay home and not to go outside during the lockdown period to remain safe from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

 

Fight Corona IDEAthon:
It is a 2-day online event.

  • It was organized to search for accessible and affordable technological solutions that can contain the rapid spread of infection, ease the mounting pressure and ensure a quick return to normalcy.
  • The initiative was jointly organised by MHRD Innovation Cell, AICTE, MEITY Startup Hub, InnovatioCuris and other institutions of global and national prominence.

The focus area of the IDEAthon was:

  1. designing reusable/washable masks.
  2. system to disinfect currency notes/coins.
  3. a non-invasive diagnostic kit.
  4. Storage Kits to collect test samples from homes.