InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically.
Table of Contents:
GS Paper 2:
1. Covaxin gets WHO nod for emergency use.
2. Palestinian PM calls for Indian support.
GS Paper 3:
1. What are Infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs)?
2. Cairn to begin process to end tax dispute.
3. The 2006 Supreme Court ruling on police reforms.
GS Paper 4:
1. At COP26, T.N. teenager tells leaders that youth are angry.
Facts for Prelims:
1. Kameng river.
GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Issues related to Health.
Please note that:
- The approval has been given by the Technical Advisory Group (TAG), an independent advisory panel of the WHO.
- The approval was expected on October 26, but the WHO had deferred its decision and sought additional clarifications from Bharat Biotech to conduct a final risk-benefit assessment.
- The WHO has already approved six vaccines for emergency use: AstraZeneca’s Covishield, Moderna’s mRNA-1273, Sinopharm’s BBIBP-CorV, Sinovac’s CoronaVac, Pfizer/BioNTech’s Comirnaty, and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.
What does this approval mean?
- It has been granted EUL for use in persons 18 years and above, over two doses spaced four weeks apart.
- However, no recommendation has been made for use in children, and available data for use on pregnant women is insufficient to assess safety or efficacy.
- The move is expected to ease international travel for Indians who have opted for the vaccine but experts say that this would be subjected to countries clearing Covaxin through their regulatory processes.
How effective is COVAXIN?
Covaxin was found to have 78% efficacy against Covid-19 of any severity, 14 or more days after the second dose, and is extremely suitable for low- and middle-income countries due to easy storage requirements.
Covaxin is a whole virion-inactivated vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, developed in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology, Pune.
What is emergency use approval?
The EUL is a prerequisite for the COVAX initiative in vaccine supply, and allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer COVID-19 vaccines.
- It is a risk-based procedure for assessing and listing unlicensed vaccines, therapeutics and in vitro diagnostics with the ultimate aim of expediting the availability of these products to people affected by a public health emergency.
To be eligible, the following criteria must be met:
- The disease for which the product is intended is serious or immediately life threatening, has the potential of causing an outbreak, epidemic or pandemic and it is reasonable to consider the product for an EUL assessment, e.g., there are no licensed products for the indication or for a critical subpopulation (e.g., children).
- Existing products have not been successful in eradicating the disease or preventing outbreaks (in the case of vaccines and medicines).
- The product is manufactured in compliance with current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) in the case of medicines and vaccines and under a functional Quality Management System (QMS) in the case of IVDs.
- The applicant undertakes to complete the development of the product (validation and verification of the product in the case of IVDs) and apply for WHO prequalification once the product is licensed.
What is emergency use authorisation (EUA)? How is it regulated in India? Reference
- Antigens vs Antibodies.
- How a vaccine works?
- Types of vaccines.
- About DGCI.
- Procedure to be followed for vaccine approval in India.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Indian and Palestinian Prime Ministers held meetings in Glasgow recently on the sidelines of the COP26 summit.
Outcomes of the meet:
- Palestine asked India to play a stabilising role in West Asia by maintaining cooperation with “all related parties”.
- It said, India had a historic tradition of supporting the rights of the Palestinian people and its technical support should be “parallel to the political support”.
- India should support the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent State of Palestine.
Why is India’s support significant?
Also, in recent years, India has broken the tradition of supporting Palestine at the U.N.
- In 2019, India voted in favour of Israel at the ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) to deny observer status to a Palestinian organisation named Shahed.
- In June, India abstained during the voting on a resolution calling for investigation into Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip at the Human Rights Council which drew strong protest from Foreign Minister Riyad Al Malki who wrote a letter critical of India’s abstention.
India’s support for the Palestinian cause is an integral part of the nation’s foreign policy.
In 1974, India became the first Non-Arab State to recognize Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
- India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by independent views and interests, and not determined by any third country.
Israel- Palestine conflict– Historical Background:
- The conflict has been ongoing for more than 100 years between Jews and Arabs over a piece of land between Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
- It was between 1882 to 1948, when the Jews from around the world gathered in Palestine. This movement came to be known as
- Then in 1917, Ottoman Empirefell after World War 1 and the UK got control over Palestine.
- The land was inhabited by a Jewish minority and Arab majority.
- The Balfour Declarationwas issued after Britain gained control with the aim of establishing a home for the Jews in Palestine. However during that period the Arabs were in majority in Palestine.
- Jews favored the idea while the Palestinians rejected it. Almost 6 million Jews lost their lives in the Holocaustwhich also ignited further demand of a separate Jewish state.
- Jews claimed Palestine to be their natural home while the Arabs too did not leave the land and claimed it.
- The international community supported the Jews.
- In 1947, the UN voted for Palestine to be split into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem becoming an international city.
- That plan was accepted by Jewish leaders but rejected by the Arab side and never implemented.
The trend is clear – India’s decisions are based on a mature understanding and evaluation of the Israel- Palestine issues and New Delhi is following the same approach now as Israel and Palestine exchange rocket fire. India has refused to pick a side and called for de-escalation and dialogue.
Do you know where the Gaza Strip is? Why is it a disputed area? Reference: read this.
Do you know about the Oslo Accords? Reference: read this.
- What is Israel-Palestine issue?
- Contested boundaries between the two
- West bank settlement issue
- Stand taken by UN, Israel, Palestine on this issue
- Challenges posed by this issue
- India’s stand.
Discuss about the impact of Israel-Palestine issue on the region and its impact on India’s interests.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Investment models.
Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan will be the anchor investors for the Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvIT) of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) with each picking up 25% stake.
- Besides, NHAI would retain a minimum of 15% equity and the rest would be offered to domestic institutional investors.
The InvIT will initially have a portfolio of five operating toll roads with an aggregate length of 390 kilometers, with more roads planned to be added later.
They are institutions similar to mutual funds, which pool investment from various categories of investors and invest them into completed and revenue-generating infrastructure projects, thereby creating returns for the investor.
- They are regulated under the Sebi (Infrastructure Investment Trusts) Regulations, 2014 and the Indian Trust Act, 1882.
Structure of InvITs:
They have a trustee, sponsor(s), investment manager and project manager.
- Trustee (certified by Sebi) has the responsibility of inspecting the performance of an InvIT.
- Sponsor(s) are promoters of the company that set up the InvIT.
- Investment manager is entrusted with the task of supervising the assets and investments of the InvIT.
- Project manager is responsible for the execution of the project.
The key features of InvITs are:
- Mandatory distribution of 90% of net distributable cash flows to the unit investors, leverage cap of 70% on the net asset value, and a cap on exposure to assets under construction (for publicly placed InvITs).
- The sponsor of the InvIT is responsible for setting up the InvIT and appointing the trustee.
- The sponsor should hold a minimum 15% of the units issued by the InvIT with a lock-in period of three years from the date of issuance.
How does it benefit the investor?
- InvITs enable investors to buy a small portion of the units being sold by the fund depending upon their risk appetite.
- Given that such trusts comprise largely of completed and operational projects with positive cash flow, the risks are somewhat contained.
- Unitholders also benefit from favourable tax norms, including exemption on dividend income and no capital gains tax if units are held for more than three years.
How will it help NHAI?
- The issue will enable NHAI to monetise its completed National Highways that have a toll collection track record of at least one year.
- This will help the company raise funds for more road development across the country.
Do you know what are the differences between REIT and InvIT? Reference: read this.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3:
Topics Covered: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
Cairn Energy has entered into certain undertakings with India which would allow for the refund of taxes under a billion-dollar dispute.
What’s the issue?
In December 2020, a three-member international arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Netherlands ruled unanimously that the Indian government was “in breach of the guarantee of fair and equitable treatment”, and against the India-UK Bilateral Investment Treaty, and that the breach caused a loss to the British energy company and ordered compensation of $1.2 billion.
- Cairn had challenged the Indian government seeking taxes over an internal business reorganisation using the 2012 retrospective tax law, under the UK-India Bilateral Investment Treaty.
- In 2014, the Indian tax department had demanded Rs 10,247 crore in taxes.
- In 2015, Cairn Energy Plc commenced international arbitration proceedings against the Indian government.
Please note that the Indian government’s recent amendment to taxation laws nullifies the tax assessment originally levied against Cairn in January 2016 and orders the refund of ₹7,900 crore which was collected from Cairn in respect of that assessment.
What is retrospective taxation?
- It allows a country to pass a rule on taxing certain products, items or services and deals and charge companies from a time behind the date on which the law is passed.
- Countries use this route to correct any anomalies in their taxation policies that have, in the past, allowed companies to take advantage of such loopholes.
- Retrospective Taxation hurts companies that had knowingly or unknowingly interpreted the tax rules differently.
- It was established in 1899 and is headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands.
- It is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to serve the international community in the field of dispute resolution and to facilitate arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution between States.
- All decisions, called “awards” are binding on all the parties in the dispute and have to be carried out without delay.
How arbitration, mediation and conciliation are different from each other? Reference
- What is Arbitration?
- Recent Amendments.
- About the International Court of Arbitration.
- About the Arbitration Council of India.
- Appointment of arbitrators under the 1996 Act.
- Permanent Court of Arbitration- composition, functions and members.
Discuss the significance of the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Important security agencies.
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) core advisory group on criminal justice system reforms has made the following recommendations to the Ministry of Home Affairs:
- The Union Home Ministry and the State Governments should set up police complaints authorities as per the judgment in the Prakash Singh vs Union of India, 2006, case.
- the status of compliance should be displayed on the websites of the Ministry and the State Home Departments.
- The MHA and the Law Ministry should consider implementing the recommendations of the 113th report of the Law Commission to add Section 114 B to the Indian Evidence Act. This would ensure that if a person sustains injuries in custody, it is presumed that the injuries were inflicted by the police.
- Make the legal framework technology-friendly to speed up the criminal justice system.
- The Supreme Court’s December 2020 order to install CCTV cameras with night vision in all police stations should be “implemented immediately” to ensure accountability.
- Involve trained social workers and law students with police stations as part of community policing and incorporate community policing in police manuals, laws and advisories.
What is the SC’s Prakash Singh judgment on police reforms?
Prakash Singh, who served as DGP of UP Police and Assam Police besides other postings, filed a PIL in the Supreme Court post retirement, in 1996, seeking police reforms.
- In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court in September 2006 had directed all states and Union Territories to bring in police reforms.
What measures were suggested by the Supreme Court?
- Fixing the tenure and selection of the DGP to avoid situations where officers about to retire in a few months are given the post.
- In order to ensure no political interference, a minimum tenure was sought for the Inspector General of Police so that they are not transferred mid-term by politicians.
- Postings of officers should be done by Police Establishment Boards (PEB) comprising police officers and senior bureaucrats to insulate powers of postings and transfers from political leaders.
- Set up State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA) to give a platform where common people aggrieved by police action could approach.
- Separate investigation and law and order functions to better improve policing.
- Set up of State Security Commissions (SSC) that would have members from civil society.
- Form a National Security Commission.
How did states respond to these directives?
Following the 2006 judgment, not even one state was fully compliant with the apex court directives.
- 18 states passed or amended their Police Acts in this time, but not one fully matches legislative models.
- When was the National Police Commission established?
- Ribeiro committee is associated with?
- Key recommendations made by Malimath Committee.
- Police under 7th schedule of the Indian Constitution.
- Prakash Singh case is more popularly associated with?
Write a note on police reforms.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 4
Topics Covered: Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service.
Vinisha Umashankar from Tamil Nadu recently spoke on clean energy at a meeting that discussed clean technology and innovation as part of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow.
- Among her audience were world leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, U.S. President Joe Biden, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
What did she say?
Young people have every reason to be angry and frustrated at leaders who have made empty promises and failed to deliver. None of what we discuss today is practical for me. We need actions rather than promises to live in a habitable world.
- She urged everyone – world leaders, business leaders, international organization as well as the civil society – to immediately “stop talking and start acting” when it comes to tackling climate change.
- We will act even if you delay and we’ll build the future even if you’re still stuck in the past,” the teenager said while requesting all present to accept her invite and assured that no-one will regret doing so.
- Winding up her speech, she said, “When it comes to climate change there’s no stop button. We can’t hit pause or even rewind. We can only move together towards the future so united we rise and together we will definitely succeed”.
Who is she?
- She is one of the finalists for the Earthshot Prize.
- She is the founder of the solar-powered ironing cart, which would replace the conventional charcoal ironing box.
- Her innovation brought her laurels from around the world, including the prestigious Children’s Climate Prize in November 2021.
This example is related to the topic ‘Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service’. It talks about values such as empathy and compassion towards the weaker-sections.
Sources: the Hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
Studies have indicated that landslides caused by an earthquake of 3.4 magnitude close to the border with China led to mass fish death in the Kameng river in Arunachal Pradesh.
- The landslips dumped several tonnes of mud and rock into the river, substantially reducing the flow of water.
- The river turned blackish due to very high turbidity resulting in low dissolved oxygen that killed the fish.
The Kameng River:
- It is the right-bank tributary of the Brahmaputra river.
- It rises in the Tawang district in the eastern Himalayas. It forms the border between the East Kameng district and the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.
- In Assam, it flows through the Sonitpur district before joining the Brahmaputra at Tezpur.
- The Kameng River consists of two sections- the west consisting of the Akka hills and resided by the Akka tribes and the east consisting of the Dafla hills resided by the Daphla tribe.
- The Kaziranga National Park and the Pakkhui Wildlife Sanctuary are located near the Kameng river.
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