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[Mission 2022] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 09 FEBRUARY 2022

 

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

 

Current Affairs

 

Table of Contents:

 

GS Paper 1:

1. Sachindra Nath Sanyal.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. PM CARES.

2. What is Quad?

 

GS Paper 3:

1. India’s patent waiver plan at WTO and issues associated.

2. Parvatmala Scheme.

3. Powerthon-2022.

4. What are ‘marine heatwaves’?

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.

2. Sowa Rigpa.

3. India Bangladesh Railway Contract.


Sachindra Nath Sanyal (1893 – 1942):

GS Paper 1:

Topics Covered: Freedom struggle and important Personalities.

 

Sachindra Nath Sanyal (1893 – 1942):

Context:

His 80th death anniversary was observed on 7th February this year. He was born in 1893.

 

His role in India’s struggle for Independence:

  • He was the founder of the Hindustan Republican Association. HRA was created to carry out armed resistance against the British Empire in India.
  • Sanyal founded a branch of the Anushilan Samiti in Patna in 1913.
  • In 1912 Delhi Conspiracy Trial, Sanyal with Rashbehari Bose attacked the then Viceroy Hardinge.
  • He was extensively involved in the plans for the Ghadar conspiracy, and went underground after it was exposed in February 1915. He was a close associate of Rash Behari Bose.
  • After Bose escaped to Japan, Sanyal was considered the most senior leader of India’s revolutionary movement.
  • He was a mentor for revolutionaries like Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh.
  • Sanyal and Mahatma Gandhi engaged in a famous debate published in Young India between 1920 and 1924. Sanyal argued against Gandhi’s gradualist approach.

Sanyal was sentenced to life for his involvement in the Kakori Train Action  and was imprisoned at Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where he wrote his book titled Bandi Jeevan (A Life of Captivity, 1922).

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Bandi Jeevan.
  2. the Kakori Train Action
  3. Bhagat Singh.
  4. Chandra Shekhar Azad.
  5. Ghadar party.
  6. Rash Behari Bose.

Mains Link:

Write a note on the Kakori Train Action Case.

Sources: PIB.

PM CARES:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

 

Context:

According to the latest Findings, 64 per cent of the Rs 10,990 crore collected by the PM CARES Fund between March 27, 2020, and March 31, 2021, remained unused as of the latter date.

  • Billed as a “dedicated fund with the primary objective of dealing with any kind of emergency and provide relief to the affected”, PM CARES spent just Rs 3,976 crore in the first year of its operation.

 

Issues surrounding the fund and its functioning:

PM CARES has been under a cloud of suspicion ever since it was announced, with opposition parties demanding transparency over the handling of the funds.

 

About PM-CARES:

The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund was set up to accept donations and provide relief during the Covid-19 pandemic, and other similar emergencies.

 

PM-CARES Fund:

  • PM-CARES was set up as a public charitable trust with the trust deed registered on March 27, 2020.
  • It can avail donations from the foreign contribution and donations to fund can also avail 100% tax exemption.
  • PM-CARES is different from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).

 

Who administers the fund?

Prime Minister is the ex-officio Chairman of the PM CARES Fund and Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Finance, Government of India are ex-officio Trustees of the Fund.

  • In 2021, the Delhi High Court was informed that the PM CARES Fund is not a Government of India fund and that the amount collected by it does not go to the Consolidated Fund of India.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is a public account?
  2. Who administers PM CARES fund?
  3. Which organisations are exempted from the ambit of RTI act?
  4. What is Consolidated fund of India?
  5. What is a charitable trust?
  6. About NDRF.

Mains Link:

Discuss why PM CARES fund should be brought within the ambit of RTI act?

Sources: the Hindu.

What is Quad?

GS Paper 2:

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

 

Context:

With China and Russia coming closer, the US has planned to “enhance cooperation, engagement, strategic and economic ties” with its Quad partners.

 

Focus areas:

  • To further bolster ties between their countries at all levels of government while finding creative and holistic ways to manage national security risks.
  • To facilitate better coordination on international engagement between national and subnational officials throughout the four participating countries.

 

Need for:

As competition continues between China and members of the Quad, it will be critical to find ways to creatively engage in ways that mitigate risk.

 

What is Quad grouping?

The quadrilateral security dialogue includes Japan, India, United States and Australia.

  • All four nations find a common ground of being the democratic nations and common interests of unhindered maritime trade and security.

 

Genesis:

The grouping traces its genesis to 2004 when the four countries came together to coordinate relief operations in the aftermath of the tsunami.

 

Significance of the grouping:

  • Quad is an opportunity for like-minded countries to share notes and collaborate on projects of mutual interest.
  • Members share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific. Each is involved in development and economic projects as well as in promoting maritime domain awareness and maritime security.
  • It is one of the many avenues for interaction among India, Australia, Japan and the US and should not be seen in an exclusive context.

 

What are China’s views on the Quad?

There is a general understanding that the Quad would not take on a military dimension against any country. The strategic community in China, nevertheless, had branded it an emerging “Asian NATO”.

Notably, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s “Confluence of Two Seas” address to the Indian Parliament gave a fresh impetus to the Quad concept. This recognised the economic rise of India.

 

Insta Curious:

Have you heard of Quad Plus? Quad members have also indicated a willingness to expand the partnership through a so-called Quad Plus that would include South Korea, New Zealand, and Vietnam amongst others. Read more about this here.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Quad- composition.
  2. When was it first proposed?
  3. Countries and important islands in the Indian Ocean region.
  4. Geographical overview of Indo-Pacific region.
  5. Important seas and straits in the region.

Mains Link:

A formal revival and re-invigoration of the Quad is called for to maintain peace and tranquillity and to ensure observance of the UN Law of the Seas. Examine.

Sources: Indian Express.

India’s patent waiver plan at WTO and issues associated:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: IP Related issues.

 

India’s patent waiver plan at WTO and issues associated:

Context:

A proposal was taken up at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations, in 2020, to “temporarily waive” intellectual property rights (IPR) held, by primarily Western countries, on vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics for covid-19. This proposal was co-authored by India.

  • Now, India runs the risk of being excluded from this proposal.

 

Background:

India and South Africa had jointly sponsored a proposal in October 2020 and this was updated, with representation from several low– and middle–income countries — though with the notable omission of China — to expand the scope of the waiver to “all health products and technologies” and to have the waiver in place for at least a year.

 

What’s the issue?

A small group of WTO members are “discussing suggestions” to exclude drug manufacturers in India and China — two major, global suppliers of medicine — from prospective waivers to IPR obligations that result from the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) which WTO members are committed to uphold.

  • Also, Manufacturers want to “limit” any benefits of the waiver only to African countries, and not pave the way for Indian manufacturers who, with their large production capacities, would easily undercut Western competitors.

 

Why is there an opposition to the waiver? What are the arguments against it?

Waiving of intellectual property rights will neither lead to increased production of vaccines or increased deployment nor practical solutions to fight the virus of COVID-19 vaccines since IP is not the barrier.

Waiving of intellectual property rights could impact patient safety by opening doors for counterfeit vaccines to enter the supply chain.

 

Need of the hour:

Our top most priority should be to address the supply side constraints, including IP barriers, to augment the manufacturing of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, essential for treatment, prevention and control of the ongoing pandemic.

 

What does the intellectual property waiver for Covid-19 vaccines mean?

The IP waiver might open up space for production of Covid vaccines with emergency use authorisations (EUA) — such as those developed by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson and Bharat Biotech — on a larger scale in middle-income countries.

  • Most production is currently concentrated in high-income countries; production by middle-income countries has been happening through licensing or technology transfer agreements.

 

What are patents and IP rights?

A patent represents a powerful intellectual property right, and is an exclusive monopoly granted by a government to an inventor for a limited, pre-specified time. It provides an enforceable legal right to prevent others from copying the invention.

 

Patents can be either process patents or product patents:

  1. A product patent ensures that the rights to the final product is protected, and anyone other than the patent holder can be restrained from manufacturing it during a specified period, even if they were to use a different process.
  2. A process patent enables any person other than the patent holder to manufacture the patented product by modifying certain processes in the manufacturing exercise.

 

Patent regime in India:

India moved from product patenting to process patenting in the 1970s, which enabled India to become a significant producer of generic drugs at global scale, and allowed companies like Cipla to provide Africa with anti-HIV drugs in the 1990s.

  • But due to obligations arising out of the TRIPS Agreement, India had to amend the Patents Act in 2005, and switch to a product patents regime across the pharma, chemicals, and biotech sectors.

 

What is the TRIPS Agreement?

The TRIPS agreement was negotiated in 1995 at the WTO, it requires all its signatory countries to enact domestic law.

  • It guarantees minimum standards of IP protection. Such legal consistency enables innovators to monetise their intellectual property in multiple countries.
  • In 2001, the WTO signed the Doha Declaration, which clarified that in a public health emergency, governments could compel companies to license their patents to manufacturers, even if they did not think the offered price was acceptable.
  • This provision, commonly referred to as “compulsory licensing”, was already built into the TRIPS Agreement and the Doha declaration only clarified its usage.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is TRIPS?
  2. Indian Patents Act, 2005.
  3. Patent regime in India.
  4. What is compulsory Licensing?

Mains Link:

Write a note on compulsory Licensing.

Sources: the Hindu.

Parvatmala Scheme:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Infrastructure- energy.

 

Context:

The National Ropeways Development Programme – “Parvatmala” was announced recently by the Union Finance Minister in the Union Budget for 2022-23 to improve connectivity in hilly areas.

 

About the scheme:

  • This will be a preferred ecologically sustainable alternative in place of conventional roads in difficult hilly areas.
  • The idea is to improve connectivity and convenience for commuters, besides promoting tourism.
  • This may also cover congested urban areas, where conventional mass transit systems are not feasible.

 

Implementation:

The scheme is being presently started in regions like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Jammu & Kashmir and the other North Eastern states.

 

Nodal Ministry:

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) will have responsibility for development of ropeway and alternative mobility solutions technology, as well as construction, research, and policy in this area.

 

Benefits of Ropeway infrastructure:

  • Economical mode of transportation: Given that ropeway projects are built in a straight line over a hilly terrain, it also results in lower land acquisition costs.
  • Faster mode of transportation: Owing to the aerial mode of transportation, ropeways have an advantage over roadway projects where ropeways can be built in a straight line, over a hilly terrain.
  • Environmentally friendly: Low dust emissions. Material containers can be designed so as to rule out any soiling of the environment.
  • Last mile connectivity: Ropeway projects adopting 3S (a kind of cable car system) or equivalent technologies can transport 6000-8000 passengers per hour.
  • Ideal for difficult / challenging / sensitive terrain.

Sources: PIB.

Powerthon-2022:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Infrastructure- Energy.

 

Context:

Launched by the Ministry of Power, it is a hackathon competition under RDSS (Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme) to find technology driven solutions to solve the complex problems in power distribution.

 

The nine themes for the hackathon are:

  • Demand/load forecasting, AT&C (Aggregate Technical and Commercial) loss reduction, energy theft detection, prediction of DT (Distribution Transformer) failure, asset inspection, vegetation management, consumer experience enhancement, renewable energy integration and power purchase optimization.

 

About the Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme for better operations & financial sustainability of all DISCOMs:

Approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs in July 2021.

 

Highlights of the scheme:

  1. It is a reforms-based and results-linked scheme.
  2. It seeks to improve the operational efficiencies and financial sustainability of all DISCOMs/Power Departments excluding Private Sector DISCOMs.
  3. The scheme envisages the provision of conditional financial assistance to DISCOMs for strengthening supply infrastructure.
  4. The assistance will be based on meeting pre-qualifying criteria as well as upon the achievement of basic minimum benchmarks by the DISCOM.
  5. The scheme involves a compulsory smart metering ecosystem across the distribution sector—starting from electricity feeders to the consumer level, including in about 250 million households.
  6. Scheme also focuses on funding for feeder segregation for unsegregated feeders.
  7. The Scheme has a major focus on improving electricity supply for the farmers and for providing daytime electricity to them through solarization of agricultural feeders.

 

Implementation:

 

Objectives of the scheme:

  1. Reduction of average aggregate technical and commercial loss to pan-India levels of 12-15% by 2024-25.
  2. Narrow the deficit between the cost of electricity and the price at which it is supplied to zero by 2024-25.
  3. Developing institutional capabilities for modern DISCOMs.
  4. Improvement in the quality, reliability, and affordability of power supply to consumers through a financially sustainable and operationally efficient distribution sector.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About REC.
  2. About DDGJY.
  3. About IPDS.
  4. Features of Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme.

Mains Link:

Write a note on power sector reforms in India.

Sources: PIB.

What are ‘marine heatwaves’?

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

 

A marine heat wave is usually defined as a coherent area of extreme warm sea surface temperature that persists for days to months. Marine heatwaves happen when sea temperatures are warmer than normal for an extended period. MHWs have been observed in all major ocean basins over the recent decade.

 

Causes:

  • The most common cause of marine heat waves are ocean currents which can build up areas of warm water and air-sea heat flux, or warming through the ocean surface from the atmosphere.
  • Weak winds: Normally, sunlight passes through the atmosphere and heats the surface of the ocean. If there are weak winds this warm water doesn’t mix with the cooler waters below. It sits on top and continues to heat leading to marine heat waves.

 

Impacts of rising marine heatwaves:

  • Affect ecosystem structure, by supporting certain species and suppressing others.
  • Can change the habitat ranges of certain species, such as the spiny sea urchin off southeastern Australia which has been expanding southward into Tasmania at the expense of kelp forests which it feeds upon.
  • Can cause economic losses through impacts on fisheries and aquaculture.
  • There is a link between marine heat waves and harmful algal blooms.

 

Marine heatwaves in Indian ocean:

According to a study, the Western Indian Ocean region experienced the largest increase in marine heatwaves at a rate of about 1.5 events per decade, followed by the north Bay of Bengal at a rate of 0.5 events per decade.

From 1982 to 2018, the Western Indian Ocean had a total of 66 events, while the Bay of Bengal had 94 events.

 

Factors affecting:

  • The marine heatwaves in the Western Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal increased drying conditions over the central Indian subcontinent.
  • Correspondingly, there is a significant increase in the rainfall over south peninsular India in response to the heatwaves in the north Bay of Bengal.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. When is a heat wave declared?
  2. Criteria?
  3. Difference between heatwave and super heatwave?
  4. What is IMD?

Mains Link:

Examine the adverse impacts caused by heat waves and how India should deal with it?

Sources: the Hindu.

Facts for Prelims:

 

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary:

  • The sanctuary is a component of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (5,520 sq km) and is a vital component of the Elephant Reserve No. 7 of South India.
  • It is the only sanctuary of Kerala where sightings of four-horned antelopes have been reported.
  • Presence of Egyptian vulture, Himalayan griffon, and Cinereous vultures are also reported in the sanctuary and the two species of vultures, red-headed and white-backed vultures, once common in Kerala, are now restricted to the Wayanad plateau.
  • The Nagarhole-Bandipur-Mudumalai-Wayanad forest complex is also one of the most important tiger habitats in the country.
  • The forests of the wildlife division form the major catchments for the tributaries of the Kabini river system.

Context:

Seasonal migration of wild animals has begun from the adjacent wildlife sanctuaries in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) in Kerala.

 

Sowa Rigpa:

  • It is a traditional system of medicine practised in the Himalayan belt of India.
  • It originated in Tibet and popularly practiced in countries namely, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, and Russia.
  • The majority of theory and practice of Sowa-Rigpa is similar to “Ayurveda”.
  • Yuthog Yonten Gonpo from Tibet is believed to be the father of Sowa Rigpa.

The basic theory of Sowa-Rigpa may be adumbrated in terms of the following five points:

  • The body in disease as the locus of treatment.
  • Antidote, i.e., the treatment.
  • The method of treatment through antidote.
  • Medicine that cures the disease.
  • Materia Medica, Pharmacy & Pharmacology.

 

India Bangladesh Railway Contract:

  • Under the project, the Bangladesh railways will procure 420 broad-gauge wagons from India.
  • This project is being implemented with the joint funding of the Government of Bangladesh and Asian Development Bank (ADB) under the Rolling Stock Operation Improvement Project.

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