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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 8th February 2018

  • IASbaba
  • February 9, 2018
  • 2
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 8th February 2018

Archives


(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


Goliath grouper

Part of: (Mains and Prelims) General Studies- III: Environment and Tourism

In News:

  • Efforts are made to establish Visakhapatnam or Vizag as a top scuba diving destination in the world.
  • Critically endangered species of Goliath grouper was discovered by a team of divers.
  • More than 2,000 dives across the world and it was the first time they had spotted the Goliath grouper.
  • A fascinating range of species, including the extremely rare Goliath grouper fish, Feather fish, and jackfish, were found at the site.

Understanding Basics: Goliath grouper fish (Important for Prelims)

  • Extremely rare species
  • Considered the keystone species of an ecosystem
  • The fish is entirely protected from harvest in the U.S. and is recognised as a critically endangered species by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
  • Found in tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
  • The Goliath Grouper is fished both commercially and for sport, but its slow growth and reproductive rates, and its group spawning behaviour, make it particularly vulnerable to overfishing.

Article link: Click here


Mahamastakabhisheka

Part of: (Mains and Prelims) General Studies- I: Indian culture and heritage.

In News:

  • President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the 88th Mahamastakabhisheka of Lord Gomateshwara by unveiling an idol of Bahubali at Shravanabelagola in Hassan district.

Pic link: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f3/Mahamastakabhisheka_in_2006.jpg

About Mahamastakabhisheka:

  • The Mahamastakabhisheka refers to the abhiṣheka (anointment) of the Jain images when held on a large scale.
  • The most famous of such consecrations is the anointment (application of oil in a religious ceremony) of the Bahubali Gommateshwara Statue located at Shravanabelagola in Karnataka, India.
  • It is an important Jain festival held once in every 12 years. It is an integral part of the ancient and composite Jain tradition.
  • The ceremony in 2018 is said to be the 88th in the series that commenced in the year 981 A.D. and second Mahamastakabhisheka of the 21st Century.

Things to do:

  • Know about the key tenets of Jainism – sacrifice and non-violence.
  • About the “ratnatrayas” (the three jewels) of the Jain religion – Samyak Darshana (right faith), Samyak Gyana (right knowledge) and Samyak Charitra (right conduct).
  • About Bahubali — not Prabhas acted Bahubali movie 😀

Article link: Click here


India test-fires nuclear capable Prithvi-II

Part of: (Prelims) Defence, Security

Key pointers: About Prithvi-II missile

  • Indigenously developed nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile
  • Surface-to-surface missile
  • Air Force version
  • strike range of 350 km
  • short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) developed by DRDO under Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP)

Things to do:

  • About Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) and which missiles are developed under IGMDP
  • About different variants – Prithvi-I, II and III

Article link: Click here


Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

Part of: (Mains and Prelims) General Studies- II: Health and Social issue; Government schemes for welfare of people (esp women).

In news:

  • Union Cabinet approves the increase in the target for the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.
  • Centre to raise allocation for the project to ₹4,800 crore

About Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana is a scheme of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas for providing LPG connections to women from Below Poverty Line (BPL) households.
  • Under the scheme, five crore (now 8 crores) LPG connections are to be provided to BPL households. The identification of eligible BPL families will be made in consultation with the State Governments and the Union Territories.
  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) aims to safeguard the health of women & children by providing them with a clean cooking fuel – LPG, so that they don’t have to compromise their health in smoky kitchens or wander in unsafe areas collecting firewood.

Do you know?

Important: Budget 2018 Update

  • Initially, government target was to provide free LPG connections to about 5 crore poor women. But now the target of providing free connection increased to 8 crore poor women. (Budget announcement)

Things to do:


(MAINS FOCUS)


INTERNATIONAL

TOPIC:General Studies 2:

  • India and its neighborhood and International – relations.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Maldives in the midst of a deep political crisis

Issue:

Maldives Supreme Court had ordered the release of political prisoners. However, President Abdulla Yameen defied the Supreme Court order and the international community by refusing to release jailed members of Parliament and restore their rights.

Yameen led government had expressed “concerns” over the judicial order and resisted complying with it, but the court said there can be no excuses.

Maldives Supreme Court said in a statement – “Dissidents must be released because their trials were politically motivated and flawed”.

Former president and current opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed (Maldives’s first democratically elected leader) described the government’s refusal to obey the Supreme Court as a “coup”. Nasheed, who was controversially convicted of a terrorism charge and jailed for 13 years in 2015, urged police and troops to uphold the constitution.

Constitutional crisis deepened further in Maldives when President Yameen declared Emergency after a showdown with Supreme Court; security forces arresting former President M A Gayoom and Chief Justice Abdullah Saeed.

Nasheed sought India’s military intervention to resolve the ongoing political crisis in his country and rescue democracy.

The Maldivian people fought long and hard for the right to hold free and fair elections, and won it only as recently as 2008.

The release of prisoners could have been a great step towards ensuring a free and fair election in the country to be help later this year. But Yameen has not only refused to abide by the orders of the judiciary but has gone ahead and arrested Supreme Court judges and members of the opposition.

Big Questions

The big questions before India are:

  • Should India intervene to repair the situation in Maldives?
  • And should India be ready to use military force?

Should India intervene?

One popular political myth about Indian foreign policy is that New Delhi has unflinching commitment to the principle of “non-intervention”.

  • India certainly is opposed to other powers interfering in its domestic politics. It used to criticise Western powers for their frequent interventions in the developing world. But that general principle had a big exception in India’s neighbourhood policy.
  • India has often intervened in the internal affairs of other countries — recall its liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971, the intervention in the Sri Lankan civil war in the late 1980s or its more recent involvement in the making of Nepal’s constitution.

Therefore, India certainly intervenes, but not always.  

It is true that India’s interventions in neighbouring countries will please some and alienate some, but that should be an acceptable cost for furthering Indian interests in the region. The plethora of interventions in other countries has earned the US a whole host of enemies but one cannot credibly think of a global superpower staying out of major crises just to earn some goodwill.

India has indeed intervened militarily in Maldives once earlier (Operation Cactus in 1988). But the circumstances of Operation Cactus were very different.

The intervention by Indian paratroopers was at the invitation of the then dictator-president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom—now a part of the democratic opposition.

In the current situation, the demand for Indian intervention is by the opposition forces in Maldives.

Reasons for India’s intervention today are far more compelling than before.

  1. Ever since Yameen took power in 2013, India-Maldives relations have deteriorated.
  2. Apart from unabashedly crushing democratic forces, Yameen has courted Beijing and handed out big infrastructure projects to Chinese companies.
  3. Yameen has openly challenged New Delhi by allowing Chinese naval ships to dock in Malé.
  4. Yameen’s relations with Saudi Arabia and the growing trend of radicalization in Maldives have also been areas of concern in New Delhi.
  5. China is now mastering the arts of intervention that were once the monopoly of the European great powers. As South Asia becomes ever more important for China, its interventionism is becoming routine in India’s neighbourhood — from Nepal to Maldives and from Pakistan to Sri Lanka.

India’s relation with Yameen led Maldives:

India has tried to maintain more than a working relationship with Yameen’s Maldives. As the largest democracy in the world and the leading player in the region, India kept a watchful eye on goings-on in the Maldives and been in touch with all sides.

  1. New Delhi helped Maldives overcome a water crisis in 2014 and received the Maldivian foreign minister (also a special envoy of President Yameen) last month, who reiterated the government’s “India First” policy.
  2. But after the 1st February order of the Maldivian Supreme Court, India clearly chose to support democratic forces in the Indian Ocean country.

Yameen has not only shown, through his actions a total disregard for the democratic code India swears by, he has also imperilled the Maldivian Constitution itself.

Should India be ready to use military force?

There are genuine constraints as far as Indian intervention is concerned.

India’s first priority is to ensure the safety of Indian tourists and workers in Maldives. An Indian intervention should not complicate the situation for Indian nationals.

India should also think deeply about the instruments it can use to ensure a favourable outcome in Maldives.

  • New Delhi’s intervention should be surgical, that is, one which makes the Yameen government capitulate without harming the people of Maldives.
  • The use of a blunt instrument like the economic blockade in Nepal in 2015-16 might have temporarily brought the then K.P. Oli government to its knees but it also generated a backlash against India in Nepal’s hilly areas.
  • The choice of instrument should also be such that it doesn’t make India a long-term participant in the partisan domestic affairs of Maldives. The lessons of the disastrous intervention in Sri Lanka (1987-90) should not be forgotten—the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) had to, apart from fighting a war, run the civilian administration in Jaffna and compete in winning the hearts and minds of the Tamil population.

Conclusion:

“Doing nothing” is surely an option for Delhi; that in effect means India chooses Yameen’s side. “Doing something” would involve political mediation between the government and Opposition, the use of coercive diplomacy, and ultimately force, to restore order in Maldives. Such an intervention is likely to get considerable international support and some Chinese criticism.

The task of fixing other people’s problems is never easy. And not all consequences of intervention can really be predicted or managed.

Maldives might be tiny state with less than half a million people. With a deeply fractured political elite that has become acutely conscious of its strategic location, it will take a lot of Indian energy to repair the state of affairs in Maldives. But then that is the burden of all major powers, especially in their own regions.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss the prevailing political crisis in Maldives. Also examine its consequences for India.
  • What significance Maldives hold for India? Discuss. Also enumerate the irritants in Indo-Maldives relations. How do you assess the present status of relationship?

NATIONAL

TOPIC:

General Studies 3:

  • Issues relating to intellectual property rights.

General Studies 2:

  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Secondary Patents: How Indian law tackles them effectively?

In news:

The global sales of the world’s best-selling prescription drug, Humira, continue to grow even after the expiry of the patent over its main ingredient, adalimumab, a biologic used for the treatment of arthritis.

Reason being- “Broad U.S. Humira Patent Estate” — a list of 75 secondary patents in the U.S. for new indications, new methods of treatment, new formulations, and the like.

Secondary patents:

The patent law allows the intellectual property estate to expand by filing more secondary patents.
Over the years, AbbVie has increased the price of Humira in the U.S. by 100%, while steadily filing a large number of secondary patents.

While the complexity of biologics – drugs made from complex molecules manufactured using living cells — allows for filing more patents, the patent laws too play a role. The U.S. recognises and encourages secondary patents.

India, however, does not, which means that while Humira costs $1,300 (Rs. 85,000) in the U.S., the same treatment costs only $200 (Rs. 13,500) in India.

Patent cliff:

Patents offer their owners market exclusivity for a limited period of time.
For medicines, this exclusivity should last as long as the primary patent — which relates to the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) of the medicine — is in effect, typically 20 years.
The end of patent exclusivity is referred to as a patent cliff, because drug prices fall steeply afterwards — by as much as 80% — owing to generic competition.

Issue:

The precipitous fall in profits drives pharmaceutical companies to find new ways to postpone their exclusivity by-

Filing secondary patents for derivatives and variants of the API, such as a physical variant of the API, a new formulation, a dosage regimen, or a new method of administering the medicine.

Evergreening:

The secondary patents prop up before the expiry of a primary patent thereby stretching the exclusivity beyond 20 years, a practice that is called “evergreening”.
This strategy is most lucrative when employed in the context of so-called blockbuster medicines, which reap annual revenues exceeding $1 billion.

In India:

  • The rejection of a secondary patent for Novartis’ Glivec, a crucial leukaemia cure, was famously upheld by the Supreme Court of India in 2013, while the same was granted in the U.S. Consequently, the cost of a monthly dose of the medicine in the U.S. was Rs. 1.6 lakh, while the cost of the generic was Rs. 11,100 in India.
  • Likewise, Spiriva, a medicine for asthma, enjoys patent protection until 2021 in the U.S., largely due to secondary patents. All of these secondary patents were rejected in India. As a result, while the monthly cost of the medicine in the U.S. is over Rs. 19,100, it costs a mere Rs. 250 in India.

Good patent law:

Some remarkable innovations have been made in Indian patent law.
To be deemed patentable, applications for secondary patents have to clear significant hurdles-

  • As per Section 2(1)(ja) of the Patents Act, the product in question must feature a technical advance over what came before that’s not obvious to a skilled person. Because secondary patents for pharmaceuticals are often sought for trivial variants, they typically fail to qualify as an invention.
  • Further, when a medicine is merely a variant of a known substance, Section 3(d) necessitates a demonstration of improvement in its therapeutic efficacy. The provision also bars patents for new uses and new properties of known substances.
    This additional requirement is unique to Indian law, and along with Section 2(1)(ja), ensures that bad patents stay out of the system.
  • Section 3(e) ensures that patents for combinations of known substances are allowed only if there is synergistic effect, while Section 3(i) ensures that no exclusivity can be claimed over methods of treatment.

Together, Sections 3(d), 3(e) and 3(i) have been instrumental in rejecting close to numerous secondary patents for pharmaceuticals.

Secondary patents have been rejected largely due to the stringent thresholds imposed by Sections 2(1)(ja) and 3(d).

  • The above provisions also extend to biologics.

Thanks to the provisions in the patent law, Humira enjoys no patent protection in India, since AbbVie restricted their Indian filings to only cover their secondary patents.

Conclusion:

Blockbuster medicines are crucial to the success of public health. But they have been gamed and rendered inaccessible to the people and governments who need them.
In order for these medicines to be accessible, there is a need to enact strong standards.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss how Indian patent law is a robust one helpig avoid frivolous patents.
  • What do you mean by secondary patents? Indian patent law does not encourages such patents. Discuss.

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