Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs – 15th August 2023



Today Topics List:

  1. Shimla Kalka railway line :UNESCO World Heritage site.

  2. Wild Fires in Hawaii

  3. Rain and Landslides in Himachal Pradesh

  4. Doctors: Prescription of Generic Drugs

  5. Kirti Chakra, Shaurya Chakra

  6. Retail Inflation

  7. Exports : July



Shimla Kalka railway line :UNESCO World Heritage site.

    • The Kalka Shimla Railway was built during the British rule in India with an aim to connect by Shimla the summer capital of British Indian rail network.
    • The rail network holds the Guinness Book of World Records for its 96 kilometres steepest rise in the altitude with crossover of 800 bridges and viaducts, it is one of the most beautiful hill railways in India,
    • It was considered the “crown jewel” of the Indian National Railways during British times.
    • Kalka Shimla Railway (KSR), a 96.6 kilometre long a single track working rail link was built in the mid-19th century to provide a service to the highland town of Shimla.
      • It is emblematic of the technical and material efforts to disincline mountain populations through the railway.
    • The world’s highest multi-arch gallery bridge at Kanoh and the world’s longest tunnel at Bagor(at the time of construction) of the KSR were the testimony of the brilliant engineering skills applied to make this a dream a reality.
      • Then the Shimla region took on considerable political importance as the Indian Colonial government decided to take up summer residence there, because of the healthier climate linked to the altitude.
      • The question of transport to the Himalayan foothills, the Delhi region and the Ganges plain then became crucial. The possibility of rail link was mentioned as early as 1847.
      • The 96km narrow-gauge Kalka-Shimla Railway, often called the toy train line, was opened in 1903 to connect Shimla, the summer capital of British India, with the northern plains.
      • In the same year carriages were built by the Railway onwards. The first carriages were very simple of 4- wheeled carriages, light and short (17 feet).
    • The status of World Heritage was accorded on this railway line on 7th of July 2008.



Wild Fires in Hawaii

    • The past week is devastating for the US state of Hawaii due to its wildfires which killed 96 people.
      • This is believed to be the worst case of wildfire in the US in 100 years, where the historic city of Lahaina has suffered a near total damage.
    • Hawaii, an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, where the fires have affected the Maui Island.
      • It is not new to wildfires, but the ferocity has been least witnessed as it is now.

Cause of wildfire:

  • Their exact cause is not known yet, but experts agree that the fires were bolstered by strong winds from Hurricane Dora, which was passing through Pacific.
    • Low humidity and dry vegetation also had a role.
    • Initial reports also suggest that the changing land use pattern in Hawaii, where farm and forest lands being replaced by flammable non native species of grasses like Guinea grass, are likely cause for the easy spread of the fire.

Impact on the environment:

  • Wildfires are a critical part of the ecosystem, where a healthy fire is key to ensure that forest remains robust and resilient.
    • It also aids the natural replenishment of nutrients in the soil,
    • Helps sunshine reach the forest floors,
    • Encourage the germination of seeds.
  • But the source of worry is the increasing intensity aided by dry conditions, change in rain cycles, and warming weather.
    • July 2023 saw the highest temperatures on record across the planet.
  • Northern hemisphere has seen a significant wildfire activity since the beginning of May this year, with wide spread record-breaking fires in Canada and large fires across eastern Russia.
  • Besides the destruction of lives and livelihoods, they also release immense amount of Carbon dioxide and other Green House gases into the atmosphere.
    • Climate change aids wildfires, which in turn, release the carbon stored in trees as CO2 and methane, resulting in vicious cycle.
    • These immense fires also add to immediate air pollution leading to respiratory issues, heart diseases and lung cancer.



Rain and Landslides in Himachal Pradesh

  • 51 people were killed in Himachal Pradesh following rain and landslips.
    • In the first landslip in Summer Hill At least 9 persons died after a shiv temple collapsed.
    • In Shimla 5 persons found dead were pulled out of the rubble in the Fagli area.
  • The UNESCO World Heritage Shimla – Kalka Railway line was damaged
  • A Case of cloud burst at Jadon village in Solan district


  • All roads were closed, Schools and colleges were closed following the forecast of heavy rains by the weather office.
  • A team of central -National Disaster response force (NDRF)were engaged in rescue operations in the State.




  • Doctors: Prescription of Generic Drugs
    • The National Medical Commission notified new guidelines on professional conduct recently, in which using generic names of medicines on the prescription instead of a particular brand name.

Narrow Therapeutic Index: Drugs where a small differences in dosage may lead to adverse outcomes.

Biosimilars: A different version of biological products that are manufactured in living systems


  • Doctors can only write the generic names of the medicine on the prescription.
    • Example, Doctor can only prescribe Paracetamol for fever, instead of Dolo or Calpol
  • This practice can only be relaxed for medicines with narrow therapeutic index, Bio similar and similar other exceptional cases.
  • Generic medicines being 30 to 80 % cheaper than the branded are likely to bring down health care costs.

What is the possible outcome?

  • Not being able to write a specific brand name means accessibility of medicines with the relevant active ingredient your pharmacist stocks.

Issues with such a decision:

  • Usually, Pharmacies do not stock generic medicines due to its low profit margins, the responsibility to substitute it with branded medicine will shift to pharmacist instead of the doctor.
    • This will promote brands that have good profit margins irrespective of how good they are.
  • Doctors say it will take away their choice of prescribing the medicine hey think is best for the patient.
    • Taking in the context of quality of generics varying across companies, this could result in ineffective treatment.
  • Uncertainty about the quality of generics and also the weak quality control in the nation and prescribing drugs without assured quality would be detrimental to patient’s health.
    • This can also essentially damage the reputation of doctor, when the generic he prescribes is ineffective while the alternative provided by the Pharmacist works out.
    • This could also lead to violence from the relatives of hospitalised patients when the generic drugs do not make the patient better.

Issues with Generic Medicines:

  • Doctors, drug manufacturers, and the government all agree that there is much to be done when it comes to the quality of generic medicines in the country.
    • While it is said that only 0.1% medicines are tested for quality checks.
    • It is difficult to test every batch.
  • There are questions on the tests need to be conducted by the company to get approval.

Bio equivalence studies: These are done to show that the generic drug elicits the same response as branded version.

Stability studies: Are done to see how the quality of the drugs varies over a period under specific environmental conditions.

  • Until recently, it is not mandatory for the companies making generics to carry out bio equivalence or stability studies.
  • Experts from Pharmaceutical sector admit that there are drugs still in the market that never underwent these studies.
  • Data from the Union Health ministry shows that around 3% of all the medicines tested over the last three years including generic, branded were found to be not of standard quality.
  • The Indian Medical Association, the largest body of doctors in the country said that this was akin to running trains without tracks. Before implementing any policy to meaningfully promote generic medicines, the quality of drugs across manufacturers has to be ensured.




Kirti Chakra, Shaurya Chakra

    • The Kirti Chakra, the second Highest peace time gallantry award in the country will be awarded to four personnel of the Central Reserved Police Force killed in action during an anti-naxal operation in Chhattisgarh in April 2021
    • Shaurya chakra, the third highest peace time gallantry award is given to eleven personnel from Army, Jammu and Kashmir Police and the CRPF.
    • These awards will be presented.

Gallantry Awards:

  • Post-independence, first three gallantry awards namely Param Vir Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra and Vir Chakra were instituted by the Government of India on 26th January, 1950 which were deemed to have effect from the 15th August, 1947. 
  • Thereafter, other three gallantry awards i.e. Ashoka Chakra Class-I, Ashoka Chakra Class-II and Ashoka Chakra Class-III were instituted by the Government of India on 4th January, 1952, which were deemed to have effect from the 15th August, 1947.
    • These awards were renamed as Ashoka Chakra, Kirti Chakra and Shaurya Chakra respectively in January, 1967.
  • These gallantry awards are announced twice in a year – first on the occasion of the Republic Day and then on the occasion of the Independence Day. 
    • Order of precedence of these awards is the Param Vir Chakra, the Ashoka Chakra, the Mahavir Chakra, the Kirti Chakra, the Vir Chakra and the Shaurya Chakra.

Kirti Chakra:

  • Kirti Chakra award for conspicuous gallantry in non- combatant situation.
  • The Kirti Chakra can be awarded to military personnel as well as to civilians.
  • The medal may be awarded posthumously. -Officers, men and women of all ranks of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, of any of the Reserve Forces, of the Territorial Army, Militia and of any other lawfully constituted Armed Forces.
  • Civilian citizens of either sex in all walks of life and members of Police Forces including Central Para-Military Forces and Railway Protection Force.

Shaurya Chakra

  • Shaurya Chakra is an Indian military decoration awarded for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice while not engaged in direct action with the enemy.
  • It may be awarded to civilians as well as military personnel, sometimes posthumously.
  • It is the peacetime equivalent of the Vir Chakra. It is generally awarded for Counter-Insurgency ops & actions against the enemy during peace-time. 
  • It is third in order of precedence of peacetime gallantry awards and comes after Ashoka Chakra and Kirti Chakra.




Retail Inflation

    • In June 2023, retail inflation stood at 4.87 %. This has hit 7.44% in July, with consumers facing a sharp 11.5%
      • This is the highest pace of retail inflation since April 2022.
      • It is also the first time since September 2022, that the price rise has been over 7%
      • Vegetable prices soared by 37.3 % mainly due to Tomato, while cereals and pulses became over 13 % costlier.
      • This kept the Urban food Inflation at 12.3% and rural at 11%.
    • Rural residents faced a higher overall Inflation rate of 7.63% in July.
    • It breaks a four-month streak of below 6% tolerance threshold for consumer price rise.


Exports : July

    • India’s Goods exports shrank 15.9 % in July to $32.25 billion. At the same time, Imports fell 17% to $52.9 billion as per Commerce ministry estimates.
      • Slowing demand in major economies such as US and EU continued to take toll on shipments.
    • In ten months, this is the 8th time that exports fell with 19 out of 30 top export items clocking a decline.
      • Exports Petroleum, gem and jewellery, handicrafts and readymade textile garments fell.
    • The decline in exports is disproportionately driven by a fall in the value of petroleum exports, even as volumes remained static.

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