IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 31st March 2018
New Chinese norms to boost India’s pharmaceutical sector
Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Indian Economy
- Indian pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturers are set to gain in the China market, thanks to new regulatory norms notified by the Chinese government.
- China’s General Office of the State Council has released new guidelines that aim at encouraging innovation in drugs and medical equipment.
- Authorities in China will now accept data collected from clinical trials conducted outside the mainland for applications to register drugs and medical equipment .
- India has been a major player in clinical trials and has been a destination for many pharma majors from the US and Europe.
- These new provisions are likely to offer faster drug registration and easier market access for Indian pharmaceuticals and medical equipment in China.
Article link: Click here
InSight: To explore deep interior of Mars
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Science and Technology
- NASA will be sending the first-ever mission dedicated to exploring the deep interior of Mars.
- InSight – a stationary lander – will also be the first NASA mission since the Apollo moon landings to place a seismometer, a device that measures quakes, on the soil of another planet.
- InSight is like a scientific time machine that will bring back information about the earliest stages of Mars’ formation 4.5 billion years ago. It will help us learn how rocky bodies form, including Earth, its moon, and even planets in other solar systems.
- InSight or the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport mission, carries a suite of sensitive instruments to gather data.
Unlike a rover mission, these instruments require a stationary lander from which they can carefully be placed on and below the martian surface.
- Mars is the exoplanet next door – a nearby example of how gas, dust and heat combine and arrange themselves into a planet.
- Looking deep into Mars will let scientists understand how different its crust, mantle and core are from Earth, the US space agency said.
Article link: Click here
TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- India and its neighbourhood- 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
External balancing: As India’s policy toward China
External balancing, that is, the forging of military cooperation with one state to deter or defeat a threat posed by another, is one of the principal means by which states cause and enhance security for themselves.
The security dilemma in India-China relations:
India-China relations have continued to be subject to an underlying security dilemma. Since the 1960s, the security dilemma has manifested itself along three dimensions.
- While China is deeply suspicious of India’s policy towards Tibet, India’s apprehensions have centred on Chinese intervention in an India-Pakistan conflict.
- India seeks to maintain a dominant position in South Asia, but China has been working to neutralise India’s predominance in the region.
- While China has successfully used Pakistan to maintain a balance of power in South Asia including through assistance for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, India has increasingly become a factor in the East Asian equation during the last two decades.
The persistence of the security dilemma has, in turn, contributed to the perpetuation of Indian concerns about the conventional and nuclear balance with China as well as to competition between their militaries for positional advantage along the Line of Actual Control.
The two prongs of India’s China policy:
India has adopted a two-pronged policy for dealing with China.
- The first prong involves continued engagement, both bilaterally and in multilateral forums such as BRICS, SCO and the Russia-India-China trilateral, in order to maintain overall stability, deepen economic ties, and foster diplomatic cooperation on regional and international issues.
- At the same time, India has also sustained efforts to enhance its military and deterrent capabilities as the second prong of policy. In fact, it has been devoting considerable resources since the 1990s to acquire nuclear weapons and develop longer-range ballistic missiles as a deterrent against China.
Further, in the latter half of the 2000s, India initiated a programme to build ‘strategic’ roads in its border states for improving connectivity and thus enhancing the ability to defend these areas.
And, simultaneously, it also began to strengthen military capabilities along the China front by raising a new army strike corps, repositioning frontline aircraft, strengthening air bases and refurbishing advanced landing grounds.
An emerging external balancing component:
There is an emerging third prong in India’s China policy in the form of an incipient external balancing effort.
The evolution of India-US relations in particular but also of India’s relationships with Japan and Australia as well as the budding quadrilateral cooperation among them indicates a growing convergence in their views regarding stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
This growth in convergence is because of growing uncertainty about China’s intentions in the wake of its turn towards an assertive foreign policy and disregard for the norms that have come to underpin the international territorial order by advancing territorial claims to more than 80 per cent of the South China Sea as well as to the sovereign territories of India and Japan.
- In January 2015, India and the United States issued a joint vision for the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean region, in which they affirmed the importance of “safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region, especially in the South China Sea”, and proclaimed that their partnership “is indispensable to promoting peace, prosperity and stability in those regions”.
- India and America have steadily deepened bilateral defence cooperation to achieve their common interests, which include the maintenance of peace, security and stability as well as the protection of the free flow of commerce through support for a rules-based order.
- Accordingly, there has been a steady increase in both the number and content of joint military exercises to enable interoperability and even coordinated operations.
- The two countries have concluded a logistics support agreement to enhance the operational capacities of their militaries.
- Bilateral defence trade has risen from US $1 billion in 2008 to over $15 billion in 2017 and America has elevated India to the status of a ‘major defense partner’.
- India and the United states have also initiated the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative to transform their current buyer-seller relationship into a partnership that would co-develop and co-produce major defence platforms.
- There are indications that the US position on issues of key security concern to India is beginning to synchronise with that of India’s. For instance, during the Doklam crisis in 2017, the US expressed its concern about China’s violation of Bhutanese sovereignty and called for a “return to the status quo” through “a negotiated solution” that restores peace in the area.49
With Japan and Australia:
- In the case of India and Japan, the declaration issued in 2017 affirmed “strong commitment to their values-based partnership in achieving a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region … where all countries … enjoy freedom of navigation and overflight” and pledged efforts to “align Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy with India’s Act East Policy, including through … maritime security cooperation”.
- India and Australia have also termed themselves as partners in the Indo-Pacific. And they have also agreed to a detailed action plan to deepen and strengthen defence cooperation to give effect to their “converging political, economic and strategic interests”.
Deepening of cooperation between India, on the one hand, and America, Australia and Japan, on the other, indicates external balancing as an element in India’s China policy. What form external balancing eventually assumes is likely to be a function of two factors: the scale and intensity of China’s challenge to the security and geopolitical interests of these four countries in the coming years; and, how firmly India and its partners commit themselves to each other and how much support they extend to each other in their respective interactions and conflicts with China.
- Describe ‘external balance’ as India’s policy towards China.
TOPIC: General Studies 3:
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
The ‘conserve and use’ principle: Conserving Floodplains
Floodplains of rivers can provide a new source of water. They are a local, non-polluting, perennial and non-invasive source of water for urban centres.
Features of flood plains:
- Floodplains are formed over millions of years by the flooding of rivers and deposition of sand on riverbanks.
- These sandy floodplains are exceptional aquifers where any withdrawal is compensated by gravity flow from a large surrounding area.
- Some floodplains such as those of Himalayan rivers contain up to 20 times more water than the virgin flow in rivers in a year.
Rivers today are facing problems of abysmally low flows due to an indiscriminate extraction of water for use in cities, industries and agriculture. They are also highly polluted because sewage and effluents are being released into them.
A floodplains ‘conserve and use’ scheme, which is a socio-economic-environmental scheme, can provide water to urban centres along rivers; it can also engage farmers by providing them an assured income and restore rivers to a healthy condition.
What is floodplains ‘conserve and use’ scheme?
The ‘conserve and use’ principle demands that no more than is recharged by rain and floods each year can be withdrawn from this aquifer.
This ensures that the groundwater level in the floodplains remains steadily above that in the river in the lean non-monsoon months when the river is often polluted. Drawing out any more water than is recharged can contaminate and eventually finish off the resource.
If we conserve and use the floodplain, it can be a self-sustaining aquifer wherein every year, the river and floodplain are preserved in the same healthy condition as the year before.
Conserving floodplains: Engaging farmers
Preserving the floodplain in its entirety is critical for this scheme to work.
This can be done by engaging farmers whose land will have to be leased for such an effort.
Farmers today have an erratic income and this scheme can be realised through a public-private partnership, where farmers on this land tract of 1 km on either side of the river can be provided an assured and steady income for an acre.
In addition, farmers can grow a food forest, fruit orchards or nut trees but not water-intensive crops on this land.
It would guarantee not only a good farming income but also great earnings from the water for the farmers without taking the ownership of the land away from them.
The ‘conserve and use’ will help curb illegal extraction of water, stop pollution by local agencies and industries and also encourage cities to be more responsible in their waste management.
It will also help improve the quality of rivers, quality of life for citizens, and at the same time guarantee farmers a healthy fixed income.
It should be seen as a new scheme of living.
Connecting the dots:
- What do you mean by conserve and use principle. The principle should be implemented for conserving our floodplains. Discuss.
The illusion of participation
Billed for change