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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 14th March 2022

  • IASbaba
  • March 14, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


PMBJP Kendras to sell nutraceuticals

Part of: Prelims and GS-II Health

Context: The Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) Kendras have added nutraceuticals products, including protein powder and bar, malt-based food supplements and immunity bar for its customers.

Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) 

  • It is being run by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Government of India 
  • Vision: To bring down the healthcare budget of every citizen of India through providing “Quality generic Medicines at Affordable Prices”.
  • Pradhan Mantri Janaushadhi Kendra is a medical outlet opened under the scheme which makes quality medicines available at affordable prices for all.
    • Currently, PMBJP Kendras have been providing accessible, standardised and affordable generic medicines to the citizens.
    • Product basket of PMBJP Kendras presently comprises 1,451 drugs and 240 surgical instruments.
    • The government has also set a target to increase their number to 10,500 by the end of March 2025.
  • Janaushadhi Sugam, a mobile application for PMBJP facilitates the public by providing a digital platform at the tip of their fingers.
  • Under the PMBJP, a medicine is priced on the principle of a maximum of 50% of the average price of the top three brands of the said medicine. 
    • Thus, the prices of Jan Aushadhi medicines are cheaper at least by 50% and in some cases, by 80% to 90% of the market price of the branded medicines.
  • In India, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority under the Department of Pharmaceuticals regulates the prices of all drugs, whether branded or generic. 
    • It fixes the ceiling price of scheduled medicines specified in the first schedule of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 2013.
    • In the case of non-scheduled medicines, the manufactures are free to fix the maximum retail price (MRP) of the drug.

What are Nutraceuticals?

  • A nutraceutical or ‘bioceutical’ is a pharmaceutical alternative which claims physiological benefits.
  • Nutraceuticals are products derived from food sources that are purported to provide extra health benefits, in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods.
  • Criticism: Because nutraceuticals and bioceuticals are largely unregulated, these supplements are the subject of more of marketing hype than actual clinical testing, and for many, it is not even yet known whether they provide more benefits than risks for consumers

News Source: TH


Chilika lake

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Environment 

Context:  The Odisha government has proposed to ban movement of mechanised fishing boats in the Mangalajodi area of the Chilika lake to provide migratory birds an undisturbed ecosystem for six months every year.

  • The Orissa High Court has also directed that the ban be strictly implemented till further orders.

Chilika Lake

  • Chilika is Asia’s largest and world’s second largest lagoon, located in Odisha.
  • It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent and is home to a number of threatened species of plants and animals.
    • Migratory Birds such as northern pintail, gadwall, shovellers, common coot and several others have been found visiting the lake in the past.
  • In 1981, Chilika Lake was designated the first Indian wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
  • Major attraction at Chilika is Irrawaddy dolphins which are often spotted off Satpada Island.
  • The large Nalabana Island (Forest of Reeds) covering about 16 sq km in the lagoon area was declared a bird sanctuary in 1987.
  • Kalijai Temple – Located on an island in the Chilika Lake.

Do you know?

  • Mangalajodi is recognised as globally important for the conservation of birds. 
  • Migratory birds arrive there for roosting and nesting.
  • However, no statutory rules and regulations are there for protecting the 8.3-sq.km marshland with emergent vegetation.

News Source: TH


White phosphorus shells/munitions

Part of: Prelims and GS-II International Relations and GS-III Defence and security

Context: Russian forces were recently accused of launching phosphorus bomb attacks in the eastern region of Lugansk.

  • International law prohibits the use of white phosphorus shells in heavily populated civilian areas, but allows them in open spaces to be used as cover for troops.

White phosphorus munitions

  • White phosphorus munitions are weapons that use one of the common allotropes of the chemical element phosphorus.
  • White phosphorus is:
    • pyrophoric (it is ignited by contact with air); 
    • burns fiercely; 
    • can ignite cloth, fuel, ammunition, and other combustibles.
  • White phosphorus is a highly efficient smoke-producing agent, reacting with air to produce an immediate blanket of phosphorus pentoxide vapor. 
  • Smoke-producing white phosphorus munitions are very common, particularly as smoke grenades for infantry.
  • These create smoke screens to mask friendly forces’ movement, position, infrared signatures, and shooting positions.

Historical record of phosphorus use

  • Phosphorus ammunitions have been used throughout history and in modern wars such as Iraq war, Arab-Israeli conflict as well.
  • Two events are listed below:
    • There have been White phosphorus is believed to have been first used by Fenian (Irish nationalist) arsonists in the 19th century.
    • The British Army introduced the first factory-built white phosphorus grenades in late 1916 during the First World War.

News Source: TH


(News from PIB)


Draft National Medical Devices Policy 2022

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II: Government schemes and policies

Context: In line with the mandate of promoting aspects of the medical device industry, the Department of Pharmaceuticals, realising the need to have a holistic policy to accelerate growth and explore the potential of the Medical Devices Sector, has published this approach paper, after extensive stakeholder consultations, for the Sunrise Sector of Medical Devices, popularly called as MedTech Sector. The Sector is expected to grow in market size from the present 11 Bn USD to 50 Bn USD by 2025.

Salient Features

  • Regulatory streamlining in order to optimize regulatory processes and multiplicity of agencies for enhanced ease of doing business, along with harmonization with global standards to ensure standardization.
  • Quality Standards and Safety of the Devices in order to provide safe devices to the consumers, in harmony with the global standards.
  • Building Competitiveness through fiscal and financial support for stimulating the development of the local manufacturing ecosystem with private sector investments.
  • Infrastructure Development to provide best-in-class physical foundation, including medical devices parks with common facilities such as testing centres, to improve cost competitiveness and enhance attraction of domestic manufacturers.
  • Facilitating R&D and Innovation with a focus on enhanced collaboration in innovation and R&D projects, global partnerships, and joint ventures among key stakeholders to bridge the gap between academic curriculum and industry requirements.
  • Human Resource Development to ensure relevant curriculum at higher education level, skilling of various stakeholders, creation of future-ready HR with required skill sets across the innovation value chain.
  • Awareness Creation and Brand Positioning in creating awareness and positioning India as a hub for manufacturing of medical devices as part of the “Make in India, Make for the World” initiative.

This Policy envisions that by 2047, our Country

  • Will be having few National Institutes of Medical Devices Education and Research (NIMERs) on the lines of NIPERs;
  • Will be home & originator to 25 high-end futuristic technologies in MedTech
  • Will have a MedTech Industry of $100-300 Bn size with 10-12% of Global Market Share.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


ECONOMY/ INTERNATIONAL

  • GS-2: International Relations
  • GS-3: Economy & its challenges

Russia-Ukraine conflict can spark a global food crisis

Context: The food economy remains at the heart of geopolitical conflict sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Importance of Russia and Ukraine in global food economy

  • Russia (18%) and Ukraine’s (8%) contribute about a quarter of the global wheat exports. 
  • Russia and Ukraine are important players in corn production and had a 14 per cent share of global maize exports in 2020.
  • Also, these two countries lead in sunflower oil production and have a 40 per cent share in exports, with Russia accounting for 18 per cent of global sunflower oil exports.

How will the global food economy be impacted by the Ukraine crisis?

  • Rise in global commodity prices: Disruption in production and international trade in commodity and agricultural products caused by war leads to increase in prices. The spikes in the international prices of maize (21 per cent), wheat (35 per cent), soybeans (20 per cent), and sunflower oil (11 per cent) have been reported.
  • Food Security: Food security has six dimensions: availability, access, utilisation, stability, agency, and sustainability, which are expected to be affected by this crisis. 
  • For ex: It has already raised concerns over food security Africa. In 2020, African countries imported $4 billion worth agriculture produce from Russia ($2.9 billion worth from Ukraine). 90% of Russian imports consisted of wheat and 6% sunflower oil (Ukraine imports consisted of 48% of Wheat, 31% maize and rest as Sunflower oil)
  • Food Inflation: The crisis would spur food inflation which might further constrain government’s capabilities to take measures (reducing interest rate) to revive economy in the aftermath of COVID-19 induced slowdown.
  • Other factor can worsen the situation: Poor harvest due to dry spells in South America and Indonesia and rising demand for wheat and oilseeds in China and India can worsen the situation.
  • Opportunity for other countries: Wheat exporting countries such as Canada, Australia, and the US are likely to benefit from any potential near-term surge in cereals demand. 
    • Also, oilseeds growing countries such as China, EU nations, Canada, and India can step into a market dominated so far by Russia and Ukraine.
  • Increase in Fertilizer price: Armed conflict can have a ripple effect on rising oil and fertiliser prices, affecting farmers in developing and least-developed countries and straining government finances.

Way Ahead

  • Grain bank and edible oil supply could help meet the starvation of the impoverished in the near term.
  • Agencies such as State Trading corporations, Food Corporation of India, and multinational oilseeds trading firms can help tide over the crisis by updating their food supply chain and public distribution system to make it resilient and efficient.
  • Also, export promotion of fortified foods can help the poor of those nations which are severely impacted by the crisis (ex: African countries)

Connecting the dots:


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • GS-3: Indian Economy & its challenges

Understanding Citizens’ Reluctance to Pay Taxes

The perception on how government spends its money impacts citizen’s behaviour in regard to paying taxes

  • Proponents of the Classical theory of benefit-based taxation have long argued that the willingness among citizens to pay taxes depends on the benefits that taxpayers expect to receive in return for paying their taxes. 
  • According to this theory, people may be more willing to pay taxes if they believe that the money will be spent in a way that personally benefits them. 
  • If, on the other hand, government spending is not likely to directly benefit them, taxpayers are less likely to pay their taxes. 
  • So taxes that are purely aimed at redistribution of wealth may not appeal to a lot of taxpayers.

US Case study

  • In a research project, a team of four US researchers studied well over 2,000 households in Dallas County, USA, to gauge how their willingness to pay property taxes changes with new information on how the government spent its money.
  • Household were not fully aware about how the property taxes that they paid went towards funding public education in their localities.
  • When the households were informed that their government spent a larger share of their taxes towards funding public education, there was significant change in their behaviour. 
  • It was found out the citizens, whose children went to public schools, were more willing to pay their taxes & less likely to appeal their taxation in courts. However, there wasn’t any noticeable changes from Citizens who didn’t avail public education.
  • This study concluded that people were willing to pay taxes when they realized that they were personally benefitting from it.

What lesson does this study hold for India?

  • The study’s conclusions may hold lessons for countries like India where there is a significant share of tax evasion due to the fact that citizens do not feel that they receive sufficient benefits from the government for the taxes that they pay.
  • One way to encourage people to pay taxes would be to make information about how tax revenues are being spent by the government more accessible to citizens. 
  • It is recommended that the government should offer detailed information on the various purposes (such as health, education, roads, etc) towards which tax collections will be earmarked. 

Connecting the dots:


(ORF: Raisina Debates)


March 8: India’s growing defence diplomacy footprint – https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/indias-growing-defence-diplomacy-footprint/ 

TOPIC:

  • GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

India’s growing defence diplomacy footprint

Context: The Indian Navy has just concluded its multilateral naval exercise, ‘Milan’ in Vishakhapatnam, where for the first time, more than 40 navies from around the world, including the US Navy participated. 

  • Convened since 1995, the exercise this year was conducted in two phases—harbour phase (25-28 February) and sea phase (1-4 March). This flagship exercise has not only enabled the navy to develop professional relationships but also has become an important tool to project India’s soft military power.
  • The Milan exercise’s expanding size of participants and complexity of drills is symbolic of India’s expanding defence diplomacy imprint from West to Southeast Asia. 
  • This diplomacy includes a more advanced naval engagement, greater military exercises, and enhanced efforts for defence exports. 
  • As a result, they have improved interoperability with partner militaries, built partnerships, and earned diplomatic heft for India.

Engagement with Southeast Asia

A key driver for India’s defence diplomacy has been China’s persistent aggressiveness in the region, particularly in the South China Sea. In recent years, India has intensified collaboration with many Southeast Asian states. They, too, are keen to expand their security ties with India to balance China and bolster their maritime security.

  • Most Southeast Asian states—Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar, participated in this year’s Milan exercise.
  • India is utilising this collaborative approach to stimulate defence exports and counter China, which has leveraged its defence supplies to entrench itself in the region.

Defence exports

The recent US $375 million Brahmos missiles deal with the Philippines—the first such export order for the missile—has come as a shot in the arm for India’s defence industry. Under the contract, India will provide three missile batteries to the Philippine Navy and potentially a follow-up order. 

  • With a target of US $5 billion for defence exports by 2024, India has intensified its efforts to sell weapons to Southeast Asia and Africa, where Chinese defence companies dominate. 
  • Government has strengthened the role of defence attaches located in Indian embassies abroad. The government has allocated them an annual budget of up to US$50,000 to promote Indian defence equipment in their respective markets. Moreover, to reinforce their sales pitch, the government has cleared multiple ‘Made-in-India’ equipment, including the Tejas combat aircraft and Astra missile for export to friendly countries.
  • Beyond exports, India (a ‘net security provider’ for the region) has also helped its immediate neighbours to build their naval capability by donating and transferring equipment. This includes off-shore patrol vessels to Mauritius (2015), Sri Lanka (2018), Maldives (2019), and Seychelles (2021), as well as two Dornier aircraft to Seychelles (2013 & 2018).
  • Due to such efforts, the exports have soared to INR 10,745 crores in 2018-19, from just INR 1,940.64 in 2014-15, although there is a long way to go.

Table 1: India’s defence exports

Year Defence exports (Rs. in crores)
2014-15 1,940.64
2015-16 2,059.18
2016-17 1,521.91
2017-18 4,682.36
2018-19 10,745.77
2019-20 9,115.55
2020-21 8,434.84

Source: Ministry of Defence, Lok Sabha

Humanitarian Assistance

A key element of being a ‘net security provider’ is the ability to launch Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations in the region. 

  • For long, India has been leading on the HADR operations front, as seen during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, 2015 Nepal earthquake, and 2020 floods in Madagascar. Moreover, the acquisition of equipment like the INS Jalashwa transport dock and C17 transport aircraft in the last decade has empowered the Indian military to execute such operations.
  • India is coordinating with partner countries to enhance its response mechanism to the natural disasters, particularly in the Bay of Bengal region.
  • HADR remains an important focus area within the Quad, but India has also undertaken initiatives like the PANEX-21 exercise with the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) countries to envisage contingencies for such operations in the backdrop of the pandemic.

Building relationships on India’s West

India has now crafted a distinct partnership with the West Asian monarchies and defence diplomacy has constituted a critical part of this relationship. When the region is witnessing epochal shifts with the Abraham Accords and a growing profile of China, India has advanced its security cooperation by focusing on naval engagement. 

  • In August 2021, India conducted back-to-back joint naval exercises with the United Arab Emirates (Zayed Talwar exercise), Bahrain (Maritime Partnership Exercise), and Saudi Arabia (Al-Mohed Al-Hindi exercise). 
  • Notably, the India-Saudi Arabia exercise was the first joint exercise between the two. Both countries have also had high-level military exchanges with respective army chiefs undertaking maiden visits.
  • Oman has served as an important anchor for India’s military engagement in the region. Besides the regular military exchanges between the two militaries, Oman has granted the Indian Navy access to the Duqm port for logistics and support. This has facilitated the navy’s sustained long-term presence in the western Indian Ocean, which for years has served as a hotspot for piracy. 
  • Though piracy incidents have declined lately, other challenges have emerged, like drug trafficking and illegal fishing that demand maritime vigilance.
  • Tackling Afghan Challenge: The inaugural India-Central Asia summit of January 2022 and the Regional Security Dialogue of November 2021 underlined India’s approach towards the Afghan challenge, focusing on preventing the spread of terrorism and drug trafficking. Towards this, India is exploring holding joint counter-terrorism exercises with interested Central Asian states, which will equip their respective security forces to deal with potential terrorist violence.

Conclusion

With a focus on containing the adverse regional fallout of the unfolding security situation in Afghanistan while simultaneously tackling the growing Chinese maritime assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific, India has increasingly leveraged its defence forces to shape regional diplomacy. These initiatives are helping India build a sustained cooperative engagement and create a web of partnerships throughout the region. Sustaining these partnerships will require India to invest more in its naval, expeditionary, and logistic capabilities.

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. India’s growing defence diplomacy

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP): 

  1. It is being run under the Ministry of Health. 
  2. Janaushadhi Sugam, a mobile application for PMBJP facilitates the public by providing a digital platform at the tip of their fingers.

Which of the above is or are correct? 

  1. 1 only 
  2. 2 only 
  3. Both 1 and 2 
  4. Neither 1 nor 2 

Q.2 Which of the following is Asia’s largest and world’s second largest lagoon?

  1. Ashtamudi Lake
  2. Chilika Lake 
  3. Wular Lake
  4. Loktak Lake

Q.3 Which of the following is not correct regarding White phosphorus?

  1. It is pyrophoric 
  2. It burns fiercely
  3. It can ignite cloth, fuel, and ammunition
  4. None of the above

ANSWERS FOR 14th March 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 B
3 D

Must Read

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Indian Express

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