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Stay informed with relevant current affairs from trusted sources like The Hindu, Indian Express, PIB, and more. Our daily news analysis includes Prelims Facts and Important Editorials presented in a concise and bulletised format. Get free daily updates up to 4 P.M. (except Sundays). Don’t miss the Daily Revision Quiz to reinforce your knowledge. Good luck!
Here are the topics covered for 18th November 2023:
GS-2 :IT Platform for Drug Control
GS-3: State of the Economy, Sickle Cell Disease, CITES
Facts for Prelims: Birsa Munda, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS)
IT Platform for Drug Control
- An integrated IT platform is in the pipeline, devised by the apex drug regulator (CDSCO), poised to revolutionize the end-to-end tracking of pharmaceutical products, from raw material procurement to consumption patterns.
Drug Regulation in India:
Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules 1945:
- Encompasses responsibilities for drug and cosmetics regulation.
Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO):
- The National Regulatory Authority (NRA) is responsible for drug regulation.
- Responsibilities include drug approval, clinical trial oversight, standard-setting, and quality control.
- Coordination with State Drug Control Organizations for critical drugs such as vaccines.
Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI):
- Head of CDSCO, responsible for approving licenses for specified drug categories.
- Sets standards for drug manufacturing, sales, import, and distribution.
- The Genesis of the Unified Drug Portal: From Idea to Implementation
- Proposed during a Chintan Shivir (brainstorming session) in February 2023.
- Prompted by incidents of contaminated Indian-manufactured syrups linked to fatalities in Gambia and Uzbekistan.
Global Standards and Mandatory Compliance:
- The decision to make global good manufacturing practices mandatory for all Indian companies.
- Approximately 8,000 non-compliant smaller companies were instructed to adhere.
Drug Portal Overview: Functions and Features
- Software Service Providers: Call for service providers to develop the system.
- Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are required to upload invoices for comprehensive tracking.
- Routine capturing of information akin to ITR returns and GST filing.
Single Window for Regulatory Activities:
- Integration with existing government portals, becoming a singular platform for all drug regulatory actions.
- Information sharing with state regulators to combat the interstate movement of substandard medicines.
Investigations and Prosecutions:
- Launch of probes and prosecutions through the portal.
- Provision for document signing with authentication mechanisms like OTP, Aadhaar, PAN card, and DigiLocker.
Custom Dashboards and Reports:
- Separate dashboards for stakeholders, providing custom reports on a need-to-know basis.
Significance of the Drug Portal:
Transparency and Uniformity:
- Ensures transparency and uniformity in drug manufacturing and distribution processes.
- Instills confidence in domestic and international markets.
Online Activities and Automation:
- Moves physical activities online, including safety updates, show cause notices, adverse event reporting, and post-approval changes.
- Enhances inspections with random assignment and masked allocation of work.
- QR codes for samples and reports allow verification at every stage.
Performance Reports and Registries:
- Automatic generation of officials’ performance reports.
- Creation of searchable registries for manufacturers, marketers, retailers, pharmacies, and subject matter experts.
- The Drug Portal stands as a beacon of transparency, uniformity, and efficiency in drug control. Its successful implementation promises a more secure and reliable pharmaceutical landscape, fostering trust among stakeholders and advancing the broader goals of public health and safety in India.
State of the Economy: A Call for Balanced Perspective
- As the International Monetary Fund (IMF) revises India’s projected GDP growth rate upwards, official spokespersons celebrate short-term economic successes. However, critics urge a more comprehensive evaluation, emphasizing the need to address the nation’s vulnerabilities and setbacks.
Appreciating Economic Setbacks:
- Trade Deficit Concerns: India’s vulnerability to a soaring trade deficit with China raises immediate alarms, highlighting economic frailties despite a decline in the net exports to GDP ratio. Structural dependence on Chinese imports, particularly in critical industrial sectors, remains a persistent challenge.
- Industrial Growth Contractions: The aftermath of measures initiated during the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan in 2020 reveals a decline in India’s industrial growth rates, reflecting a structural regression. Rising Chinese imports coincide with a significant drop in the industrial growth rate, pointing to the interconnectedness of global trade dynamics.
- Investment Decline: A decade-long decline in the gross fixed capital formation to GDP ratio and diminishing public sector shares it underscore an unprecedented fall in India’s investment landscape. Net foreign direct investment has also witnessed a substantial reduction over the years.
- Public Investment Scrutiny: The optimism surrounding public investment growth since FY22 is met with skepticism, with doubts raised about the credibility of reported statistics. The illusory nature of the projected boost in public investment is unveiled, casting doubts on its actual impact on economic recovery.
Challenges Beyond Economic Indices:
Human Development Index (HDI) Realities:
- Amidst debates over poverty measures and the Global Hunger Index, a shift in focus to the Human Development Index (HDI) reveals a decline in India’s global ranking.
- From 2018 to 2021, India’s HDI index witnessed a moderation, signalling concerns about social development.
- As economic commentators celebrate short-term victories, a broader perspective unveils underlying challenges. The sustained trade deficit with China, declining industrial growth, and a prolonged investment slump demand nuanced attention.
- Acknowledging the gravity of these setbacks, engaging with critics, and adopting a comprehensive, long-term view can pave the way for more resilient and sustainable economic policies.
- The celebration of short-term successes must be tempered with a commitment to address systemic vulnerabilities and foster holistic economic development.
Sickle Cell Disease
- The recent approval by the United Kingdom’s drug regulator of the world’s first gene therapy treatment for sickle cell disease and thalassemia signals a significant breakthrough in medical science.
Understanding Sickle Cell Disease:
- Inherited Blood Disorder: Sickle Cell Disease is an inherited blood disorder characterized by flawed haemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells (RBCs) responsible for carrying oxygen to the body’s tissues.
- Atypical Hemoglobin Molecules: Individuals with this disease possess atypical haemoglobin molecules called haemoglobin S, which distort RBCs into a sickle or crescent shape.
- Impact on Oxygen Delivery: Sickle Cell Disease interferes with the normal delivery of oxygen to the body’s tissues.
Effects on Blood Flow:
- Normal vs. Sickle Cell RBCs: In a healthy state, RBCs are disc-shaped and flexible, facilitating easy movement through blood vessels.
- Sickled RBCs: Due to a genetic mutation, sickle cell disease transforms RBCs into crescent or sickle shapes, hindering their flexibility. This alteration can lead to blockages, disrupting blood flow to various parts of the body.
Causes of Sickle Cell Disease:
- Defective Gene: The root cause is a defective gene known as the sickle cell gene.
- Inheritance: Sickle cell disease manifests only if an individual inherits two such genes – one from each parent.
- Early Stage: Symptoms include extreme tiredness, fussiness due to anaemia, painful swelling of hands and feet, and jaundice.
- Later Stage: The disease progresses to severe pain, anaemia, organ damage, and susceptibility to infections.
- Curative Measures: A bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplant can cure sickle cell disease.
- Symptomatic Relief: Various treatments exist to alleviate symptoms, manage complications, and extend life.
- Exploring Gene Therapy: The recent approval of gene therapy in the UK represents a significant advancement in potential cures for sickle cell disease.
- In conclusion, Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassemia pose significant health challenges, but advancements such as gene therapy offer promising avenues for more effective and curative treatments.
- The recent UK approval signals hope for improved outcomes and quality of life for individuals affected by these conditions.
- The 77th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) recently concluded in Geneva, Switzerland, showcasing pivotal outcomes for India’s endeavours in wildlife conservation.
- International agreement preventing international trade in wild animals and plants from threatening species’ survival.
- Currently, 184 Parties to CITES.
- Entered into force in 1975, with India becoming the 25th party in 1976.
Red Sanders’ Removal from Review of Significant Trade (RST):
- Previous Scrutiny: India had been subjected to the Review of Significant Trade (RST) process for Red Sanders since 2004, amplifying scrutiny on species exports to assess Convention adherence.
- Achievement: Due to India’s compliance and robust reporting, it has been exempted from RST, a momentous triumph for the protection of Red Sanders, a tree species endemic to Andhra Pradesh facing threats from illegal activities.
India’s Upgradation in CITES National Legislation Program:
- Legislative Compliance: The meeting elevated India to Category 1 in the CITES National Legislation Program, signifying full compliance with program requisites.
- Legal Amendment: The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, underwent amendment in 2022, incorporating CITES provisions, leading to India’s reclassification from Category 2 to Category 1.
Advocacy for Big Cat Conservation:
- Conservation Urgency: India actively advocated stringent measures for Big Cats, with a specific focus on Asian Big Cats.
- International Initiative: The call to join the International Big Cat Alliance, launched by the Indian Prime Minister in April 2023, underscores the need for collaborative efforts in big cat conservation.
- The CITES Standing Committee Meeting yielded significant advancements for India, reflecting commendable strides in wildlife preservation.
- From the removal of Red Sanders from heightened scrutiny to legislative compliance upgrades and a proactive stance on big cat conservation, India’s commitment to global biodiversity conservation is evident.
- The detailed proceedings mark a positive trajectory, emphasizing the critical role of international cooperation and legislative alignment in safeguarding endangered species.
Facts for prelims:
The Prime Minister recently visited the birthplace of Birsa Munda, a prominent figure in tribal history, and launched the PM Janjati Adivasi Nyaya Maha Abhiyan.
- Birsa Munda (1875 – 1900) was a tribal freedom fighter, religious leader, and folk hero belonging to the Munda tribe.
- He led a tribal religious millenarian movement during the late 19th century in the Bengal Presidency, which is now part of Jharkhand.
- The revolt was primarily concentrated in the Munda belt, encompassing areas like Khunti, Tamar, Sarwada, and Bandgaon.
- During the Ulgulan movement in 1899, Birsa Munda encouraged tribals to reject colonial laws and use weapons and guerrilla warfare to resist foreign rule.
- In his honour, Janjatiya Gaurav Divas is celebrated on November 15th, starting from the year 2021.
Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS)
An upcoming legal development, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) Bill of 2023, is poised to replace the existing Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and provide enhanced legal protection to armed forces personnel.
Key highlights from the recent report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Home Affairs include:
- The BNSS Bill, 2023, is slated to supersede the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and includes provisions that offer additional legal safeguards to members of the armed forces.
- Under the new law, any legal action against armed forces personnel for actions carried out in the line of duty requires prior approval from the Union or State government.
- The BNSS Bill emphasizes gender equality by permitting the service of legal summonses on any adult family member, including women when the intended recipient is not available.
- The legislation introduces contemporary changes to the court structure, discarding archaic designations inherited from the British era, such as “Metropolitan Magistrate” and “Metropolitan Area.”