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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 8 April 2020

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP).

2. Interpol

3. UN Women.

4. Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID).

 

GS Paper 3:

1. What is marginal cost of funds-based lending rate or MCLR?

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Delhi’s ‘5T’ war against virus.

2. Samadhan challenge.

3. World Health Day.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

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.

Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP)

What to study?

For Prelims: Features of PMBJP and Janaushadhi Suvidha.

For Mains: Health facilities for the underprivileged- need and efforts by the government, generic medicines and their increasing popularity worldwide.

Context: Pharmacists, popularly known as “Swasth ke Sipahi”, of Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendra, are delivering essential services and medicines at doorstep of patients and elderly under Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) of the Government of India.

Background:

Working as part of Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendras (PMJAK), they are extending essential services by making available quality generic medicines at affordable prices to the common People of the country and the elderly persons at their doorstep to fight Corona pandemic. This is supporting the government’s initiative of practicing social distancing.

About PMBJP:

‘Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana’ is a campaign launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Govt. Of India, to provide quality medicines at affordable prices to the masses through special kendra’s known as Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendra.

Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) is the implementing agency of PMBJP. BPPI (Bureau of Pharma Public Sector Undertakings of India) has been established under the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Govt. of India, with the support of all the CPSUs.

SALIENT FEATURES OF THE SCHEME:

  1. Ensure access to quality medicines.
  2. Extend coverage of quality generic medicines so as to reduce the out of pocket expenditure on medicines and thereby redefine the unit cost of treatment per person.
  3. Create awareness about generic medicines through education and publicity so that quality is not synonymous with only high price.
  4. A public programme involving Government, PSUs, Private Sector, NGO, Societies, Co-operative Bodies and other Institutions.
  5. Create demand for generic medicines by improving access to better healthcare through low treatment cost and easy availability wherever needed in all therapeutic categories.

What is a generic medicine?

There is no definition of generic or branded medicines under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules, 1945 made thereunder. However, generic medicines are generally those which contain same amount of same active ingredient(s) in same dosage form and are intended to be administered by the same route of administration as that of branded medicine.

The price of an unbranded generic version of a medicine is generally lower than the price of a corresponding branded medicine because in case of generic version, the pharmaceutical company does not have to spend money on promotion of its brand.

How are they regulated in India?

Drugs manufactured in the country, irrespective of whether they are generic or branded, are required to comply with the same standards as prescribed in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules, 1945 made thereunder for their quality.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Regulation of generic medicines.
  2. What are Jan Aushadi Kendras?
  3. About BPPI.

Mains Link:

Write a note on Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana.

Sources: pib.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Interpol

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Composition, objectives and functions of Interpol.

Context: The International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) has warned member countries that cybercriminals were attempting to target major hospitals and other institutions on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 with ransomware. Interpol has also issued a ‘Purple Notice’.

What has the Interpol said?

  1. Organisations at the forefront of the global response to the COVID-19 outbreak have also become targets of ransomware attacks, which were “designed to lock them out of their critical systems in an attempt to extort payments”.
  2. Cybercriminals are using ransomware to hold hospitals and medical services digitally hostage, preventing them from accessing vital files and systems until a ransom is paid.
  3. Locking hospitals out of their critical systems will not only delay the swift medical response required during these unprecedented times, it could directly lead to deaths.

How is it being spread?

At this point, the ransomware appears to be spreading primarily via e-mails —often falsely claiming to contain information or advice regarding the coronavirus from a government agency, which encourages the recipient to click on an infected link or attachment.

Need of the hour:

Prevention and mitigation efforts are crucial to stopping the attacks.

What is Interpol?

The International Criminal Police Organisation, or Interpol, is a 194-member intergovernmental organisation. Headquartered in Lyon, France. Formed in 1923 as the International Criminal Police Commission, and started calling itself Interpol in 1956. India joined the organisation in 1949, and is one of its oldest members.

Goals and objectives:

Interpol’s declared global policing goals include countering terrorism, promoting border integrity worldwide, protection of vulnerable communities, providing a secure cyberspace for people and businesses, curbing illicit markets, supporting environment security, and promoting global integrity.

What is the Interpol General Assembly?

It is Interpol’s supreme governing body, and comprises representatives from all its member countries.

  • It meets annually for a session lasting approximately four days, to vote on activities and policy.
  • Each country is represented by one or more delegates at the Assembly, who are typically chiefs of law enforcement agencies.
  • The Assembly also elects the members of the Interpol Executive Committee, the governing body which “provides guidance and direction in between sessions of the Assembly”.

Assembly Resolutions:

The General Assembly’s decisions take the form of Resolutions. Each member country has one vote.  Decisions are made either by a simple or a two-thirds majority, depending on the subject matter.

Insta Links:

interpol

Prelims Link:

  1. Composition and voting in Interpol general assembly.
  2. Interpol notices- types and purposes.
  3. Genesis of Interpol and its headquarters.
  4. Difference between ransomware, virus, Trojan Horse, spyware and malware.

Mains Link:

Write a note on Interpol and different notices issued by it.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

UN Women

What to study?

For Prelims: About UN Women- composition, objectives, programmes and significance.

For Mains: Gender violence during lockdown period- reasons, impact and ways to address them.

Context: The UN Women has urged member-states to include prevention of violence against women in their action plans on COVID-19. It has also called the rise in gender-based violence a “shadow pandemic”.

Other suggestions made by UN Women:

  1. Member states should consider shelters and helplines essential services.
  2. Helplines, psychosocial support and online counselling should be boosted, using technology-based solutions such as SMS, online tools and networks to expand social support, and to reach women with no access to phones or Internet.
  3. Police and justice services must mobilise to ensure that incidents of violence against women and girls are given high priority with no impunity for perpetrators.

Why these measures are necessary?

Globally 243 million women and girls aged 15-49 have been subjected to sexual and/or physical violence perpetrated by an intimate partner in the previous 12 months. The number is likely to increase as security, health and money worries heighten tensions and strains are accentuated by cramped and confined living conditions.

How lockdown is worsening the situation?

According to emerging data, violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has ‘intensified’.

  1. As per data compiled by the U.N. body, France has seen a 30% increase in domestic violence since the lockdown on March 17.
  2. In Argentina, emergency calls for domestic violence cases have increased by 25% since the lockdown on March 20 and Cyprus (30%), Singapore (33%) have also registered an increase in calls.
  3. Canada, Germany, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. have also registered an increase in cases of domestic violence and demand for emergency shelter.

About UN Women: The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women:

UN Women is the UN entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. It was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

It merges and builds on the important work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system, which focused exclusively on gender equality and women’s empowerment:

  • Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW).
  • International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW).
  • Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI).
  • United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

The main roles of UN Women are:

  • To support inter-governmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms.
  • To help Member States to implement these standards, standing ready to provide suitable technical and financial support to those countries that request it, and to forge effective partnerships with civil society.
  • To hold the UN system accountable for its own commitments on gender equality, including regular monitoring of system-wide progress.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID)

What to study?

For Prelims: About GISAID and genome sequencing.

For Mains: Why is it important to understand the genomic sequence of COVID-19?

Context: So far, India has shared nine whole genome sequences of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) with the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID). All these have been shared by the Pune-based National Institute of Virology.

 Background:

Early in March, India became the fifth country in the world to sequence the genome of the novel Coronavirus, or Covid-19, and share its data with the international community.

What is genomic sequencing?

Genomic sequencing is a technique that allows us to read and interpret genetic information found within DNA or RNA.

Why is it important to understand the genomic sequence of COVID-19?

The SARS-CoV2 genome, as it is formally known, has about 30,000 base pairs, somewhat like a long string with 30,000 places where each one of these occupy one of four chemicals called nucleotides.

This long string, with its unique combination of nucleotides, is what uniquely identifies the virus and is called its genomic sequence. A look at virus genome sequences from patient samples that test positive for COVID-19 helps researchers to understand how the virus is evolving as it spreads. So far, there are over 1,000 COVID-19 genomes that have been published worldwide.

Therefore, sequencing is necessary because:

  1. It helps track the transmission route of the virus globally.
  2. It can determine how quickly the virus is adapting as it spreads.
  3. It identifies targets to therapies.
  4. It is required to understand the role of co-infection.

What is GISAID?

It is a public platform started by the WHO in 2008 for countries to share genome sequences.

  • Created as an alternative to the public domain sharing model, GISAID’s sharing mechanism took into account the concerns of Member States by providing a publicly accessible database designed by scientist for scientist, to improve the sharing of influenza data.
  • In 2010 the Federal Republic of Germany became the official host of the GISAID platform.
  • In 2013 the European Commission recognized GISAID as a research organization and partner in the PREDEMICS consortium, a project on the Preparedness, Prediction and the Prevention of Emerging Zoonotic Viruses with Pandemic Potential using multidisciplinary approaches.

GISAID’s database access agreement ensures that contributors of genetic sequence data do not forfeit their intellectual property rights to the data.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Genome Sequencing?
  2. How it works?
  3. RNA vs DNA.
  4. Who administers GISAID.

Mains Link:

What is genome sequencing? How it helps prevent the spread of COVID 19?

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

What is marginal cost of funds-based lending rate or MCLR?

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: MCLR- meaning, implications, how it is set, need for and significance.

Context: State Bank of India, the country’s largest lender, has reduced the marginal cost of fund-based lending rate (MCLR) by 35 basis points (bps) across all loan tenures. The new rate will come into effect from April 10.

The move comes after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) reduced the repo rate by 75 bps in the last week of March.

What is MCLR? How is it determined?

It is the minimum interest rate that a bank can lend at. It is a tenor-linked internal benchmark, which means the rate is determined internally by the bank depending on the period left for the repayment of a loan. MCLR is closely linked to the actual deposit rates and is calculated based on four components: the marginal cost of funds, negative carry on account of cash reserve ratio, operating costs and tenor premium.

Genesis of MCLR:

The Reserve Bank of India introduced the MCLR methodology for fixing interest rates from 1 April 2016. It replaced the base rate structure, which had been in place since July 2010.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


Delhi’s ‘5T’ war against virus:

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced a “5T plan” created by his government to contain COVID-19 spread in Delhi. These five Ts are testing, tracing, treatment, teamwork and tracking-monitoring.

Samadhan challenge:

The Innovation Cell of the Ministry of Human Resources Development and All India Council for Technical Education in collaboration with Forge and InnovatioCuris launched a mega online challenge – SAMADHAN – to test the ability of students to innovate.

The students participating in this challenge will search and develop such measures that can be made available to the government agencies, health services, hospitals and other services for quick solutions to the Coronavirus epidemic and other such calamities.

World Health Day:

  • April 7 is observed as ‘World Health Day’ This was the day in 1948 when the World Health Organisation was founded.
  • The theme for the World Health Day 2020 is “Support Nurses and Midwives”.
  • WHO chose the year 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” because of the contribution of nurses and midwives in making the world a healthier place.

 


Insights Current Affairs Analysis (ICAN) by IAS Topper