UPSC Civil Services Daily Current Affairs 20th March 2022
Topics for the day:
- Indian – japan affairs
- Pharma drug prices
- Kinzhal hypersonic missile
- Maharashtra Governor refuses to clear election for Speaker’s post
- Study reveals major decline in golden langur habitat
- Par Tapi Narmada river linking project
India – japan ties :
- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in India for his first visit to the country as the head of government.
- He met PM Narendra Modi for bilateral talks.
More on the news :
- India and Japan set an investment target of “five trillion yen” ($42 billion) in the next five years, the leaders announced after a meeting in New Delhi for the 14th annual summit, where several agreements were signed.
- The two sides also exchanged six agreements on cybersecurity, economic partnerships, waste-water management, urban development, a clean energy partnership and an agreement on promoting bamboo-based products from the northeast region.
- The “2+2” meeting of Foreign and Defence Ministers in the next few months is due to take forward agreements on the strategic partnership
- PM Modi is expected to visit Tokyo in May or June, where he will also attend the Quad summit with the U.S. President and Australian Prime Minister.
More on India – japan ties :
- Japan will supply nuclear reactors, fuel and technology to India.
- India is not a signatory to the non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and is the only non-signatory to receive an exemption from Japan.
- Both countries have a rivalry with China and to counter its behaviour in the Indo-Pacific region the two countries formed the Quad which includes USA and Australia
- Japan is only the second country after the United States with which India holding 2+2.The India-Japan 2+2 dialogue is an endorsement of the special strategic partnership between New Delhi and Tokyo.
- The India-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) that came into force in 2011 is the most comprehensive of all such agreements concluded by India.
- Japan already has invested in the $90 billion Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.
- Japanese FDI into India has mainly been in the automobile, electrical equipment, telecommunications, and chemical and pharmaceutical sectors. Eg. Suzuki.
- Cooperation in Railway Sector Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Railway (MAHSR).
- The ambitious project is being implemented with nearly 90% financial support and technology from Japan.
- The two countries have agreed to a Bilateral Swap Arrangement that would allow their central banks to exchange local currencies for up to $75 billion.
- This is substantially more than the $30 billion currency swap arrangement announced between China and Japan.
- Japan is the third-largest source of FDI into the country
India-Japan Space Dialogue
- Both India and Japan are seeking higher cooperation in critical sectors during their space dialogue held in India.
- The Japan-India Space Dialogue was announced by Prime Minister and Japanese Prime Minister in 2018 at the end of the annual summit of both countries.
- The two countries have their own systems for monitoring satellite images and ship movements in the oceans, as the information is critical for national security as well as coastal security of the two countries.
- In view of the similarities and synergies between the goals and objectives India’s AYUSHMAN Bharat Programme and Japan’s AHWIN, both sides had been consulting with each other to identify projects to build the narrative of AHWIN for AYUSHMAN Bharat.
- The trade ties which have remained underdeveloped when compared to India’s trade ties with China.
- The bilateral trade between New Delhi and Tokyo in 2017-18 stood at a meagre $15.71 billion, whereas the Sino-Indian bilateral trade in 2017 stood at $84.44 billion in spite of the political tensions between India and China.
- The two sides have also been unable to collaborate in the defence sector in spite of huge potential.
- India is one of the biggest arms importers in the world, while Japan,has been looking at arms exports
- Both countries have border and hegemonic issues with China. So their policy stance hinges generally on China, rather than growing comprehensively.
- Both had diverging interest with respect to economic issues like on E-commerce rules (Osaka track), Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership
- Balancing between Quad and Brics: India is a member of groups like the BRICS, which brings together Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
- In addition, though New Delhi has not joined the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), it is a member of the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank).So India has to do a balancing act between Quad and BRICS.
- Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) project has not taken off as was planned.
Pharma drugs prices :
- Consumers may have to pay more for medicines and medical devices if the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) allows a price hike of over 10% in the drugs and devices listed under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).
- The escalation which is expected to have an impact on nearly 800 drugs and devices is propelled by the rise in the Wholesale Price Index (WPI).
- Lobby groups that represent domestic pharmaceutical companies have been engaging with the Central Government to ask it to extend the 10% annual hike to scheduled formulations under price control.
How are prices of drugs regulated ?
- All medicines under the NLEM are under price regulation.
- As per the Drugs (Prices) Control Order 2013, scheduled drugs, about 15% of the pharma market, are allowed an increase by the government as per the WPI while the rest 85% are allowed an automatic increase of 10% every yea
- The NPPA was set up to fix/revise prices of controlled bulk drugs and formulations and to enforce price and availability of the medicines in the country, under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order
- The ceiling price of a scheduled drug is determined by first working out the simple average of price to retailer in respect of all branded and generic versions of that particular drug formulation having a market share of more than or equal to 1%, and then adding a notional retailer margin of 16% to it.
- The NPPA is also mandated to collect/maintain data on production, exports and imports, market share of individual companies, profitability of companies etc ,for bulk drugs and formulations.
What is the NPPA ?
- NPPA was set-up as an independent Regulator for pricing of drugs and to ensure availability and accessibility of medicines at affordable prices.
- NPPA is neither a Statutory nor a Constitutional Body.
- It is an attached office of the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers.
- The functions of NPPA include fixation and revision of prices of Scheduled drugs under Drug (Price Control) Orders issued from time to time, as well as monitoring and enforcement of prices and ensuring availability and accessibility of all medicines and medical devices, including non-scheduled drugs
Kinzhal hypersonic missile
- Russia said that it had unleashed hypersonic missiles against an arms depot in Ukraine, the first use of the next-generation weapons in combat.
More on the news :
- Russia’s new Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic missile is a nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missile that flies at 10 times the speed of sound and can overcome air-defence systems.
- The missile has a range of approximately 1,500-2,000km and can carry a nuclear payload or conventional payload of 480 kg.
- They are normally defined as fast, low-flying, and highly manoeuvrable weapons designed to be too quick and agile for traditional missile defence systems to detect in time.
- Unlike ballistic missiles, hypersonic weapons don’t follow a predetermined, arched trajectory and can manoeuvre on the way to their destination.
- The term “hypersonic” describes any speed faster than five times that of sound, which is roughly 760 miles (1,220 kilometers) per hour at sea level, meaning these weapons can travel at least 3,800 miles per hour.
- At hypersonic speeds, the air molecules around the flight vehicle start to change, breaking apart or gaining a charge in a process called ionization.
- This subjects the hypersonic vehicle to “tremendous” stresses as it pushes through the atmosphere.
- There are two main types of these weapons glide vehicles and cruise missiles.
- Analysts say Russia is leading the hypersonics race, followed by China and the U.S.
Maharashtra Governor refuses to clear election for Speaker’s post
- Maharashtra Assembly Speaker’s post has been lying vacant for more than one year now and if Governor has it his way, it is likely to stay vacant for some more time
Role of the speaker
- Interpretation: He/She is the final interpreter of the provisions of the Constitution of India, the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of Lok Sabha and the parliamentary precedents, within the House.
- He/She presides over a joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament
- Speaker can adjourn the House or suspend the meeting in absence one-tenth of the total strength of the House(quorum)
- Casting Vote: The speaker does not vote in the first instance but in the case of a tie; when the House is divided equally on any question, the Speaker is entitled to vote.
- Money Bill: He/She decides whether a bill is a money bill or not and his/her decision on this question is final.
- Disqualifying Members: It is the speaker who decides the questions of disqualification of a member of the Lok Sabha
- Speaker acts as the ex-officio chairman of the Indian Parliamentary Group (IPG) which is a link between the Parliament of India and the various parliaments of the world
- The Committees of the House are constituted by the speaker and function under the speaker’s overall direction
- The Speaker is the guardian of the rights and privileges of the House, its Committees and members
Study reveals major decline in golden langur habitat
- A recent study by scientists has suggested a signifcant decline in the habitat of the golden langur, an endangered primate species distributed in the trans-boundary region of Bhutan and India.
- A recent paper titled “Future simulated landscape predicts habitat loss for the golden langur: a range-level analysis for an endangered primate” throws light on whether the habitat of the endangered primate is protected or not.
More on the news :
- In India, fragmented and isolated populations of the golden langur are distributed in Chirang, Kokrajhar, Dhubri and Bongaigaon districts of Assam.
- “The results indicate that out of the total range extent (66,320 square km), only 12,265 square km (18.49%) is suitable for the species at present, which will further be reduced to 8,884 square km by the year 2031
- Only 14.39% of the future suitable areas fall inside the protected area (PA) network of both countries in the entire global distribution range.
- In recent years, studies from these areas have reported human-langur conflict cases, and the intensity of these cases is increasing
- Earlier, in the 1990s, the extraction of timber by extremist groups in the region had resulted in the destruction of forest patches in southern Assam.
- While recent community conservation programmes by the government yielded positive results for the golden langur population of Manas National Park, fragmented and isolated populations are still severely threatened.
More on the golden langur :
- Golden langurs can be most easily recognized by the color of their fur, after which they are named.
- It has been noted that their fur changes colors according to the seasons as well as geography
- The color of the young also differs from adults in that they are almost pure white.
- They are highly dependent on trees, living in the upper canopy of forests.
- Their habitat is restricted to the region surrounded by four geographical landmarks: the foothills of Bhutan (North), Manas river (East), Sankosh river (West), and Brahmaputra river (South)
Protection Status :
- IUCN List of Threatened Species: Endangered
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) : Appendix I
- Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 : Schedule I
Other Threats :
- Restricted Habitat: As mentioned above, their habitat is restricted by natural boundaries further increasing the threat of extinction.
- Habitat Fragmentation: Their habitat in Assam has fragmented drastically especially after a thrust on rural electrification and massive deforestation.
- Inbreeding: Obstructions such as wires, and gaps in the forest due to felling, have increased the threat of inbreeding among golden langurs.
Par Tapi Narmada river linking project
- The tribals in Gujarat will hold a public meeting in gujarat to protest against the Centre’s Par Tapi Narmada river-linking project.
- The Par Tapi Narmada link project was envisioned under the National Perspective Plan under the former Union Ministry of Irrigation and the Central Water Commission (CWC).
- The project proposes to transfer river water from the surplus regions of the Western Ghats to the deficit regions of Saurashtra and Kutch.
- The excess water in the interlinked Par, Tapi and Narmada rivers which flow into the sea in the monsoon would be diverted to Saurashtra and Kutch for irrigation.
- It proposes to link three rivers – Par, originating from Nashik in Maharashtra, Tapi from Satpura that flows through Maharashtra and Surat in Gujarat, and Narmada originating in Madhya Pradesh and flowing through Maharashtra and Bharuch and Narmada districts in Gujarat.
- This would save Sardar Sarovar ample water which will be used to extend irrigation in Saurashtra and Kutch region.
What is the National River Linking Project (NRLP)
- It formally known as the National Perspective Plan, envisages the transfer of water from water ‘surplus’ basins where there is flooding, to water ‘deficit’ basins where there is drought/scarcity, through inter-basin water transfer projects
Basic trivia of Narmada River
- Narmada is the largest west flowing river of the peninsular region flowing through a rift valley between the Vindhya Range on the north and the Satpura Range on the south.
- It rises from Maikala range near Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh.
- It drains a large area in Madhya Pradesh besides some areas in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
- The river near Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh) forms the DhuanDhar Falls.
- There are several islands in the estuary of the Narmada of which Aliabet is the largest.
- Major Tributaries: Hiran, Orsang, the Barna and the Kolar.
- The major Hydro Power Projects in the basin are Indira Sagar, Sardar Sarovar etc.
Basic trivia of Tapi River
- Another important westward flowing river originates from the Betul district of Madhya Pradesh in the Satpura ranges.
- It flows in a rift valley parallel to the Narmada but is much shorter in length.
- Its basin covers parts of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Basic trivia of Par River
- Par River is a river in Gujarat with its source near wadpada village in Nashik Maharashtra.
- It flows into the Arabian Sea.
UPSC Civil Services Daily Current Affairs 20th March 2022
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