Daily News Analysis 31 March 2023

Drugs for rare diseases get customs duty relief


Relevance in UPSC: 

GS Paper 3: Development

Important For

Prelims: About Rare Diseases

Mains: Significance of exemption of custom duty on rare diseases

Why in News?

The Central Government has given full exemption from basic customs duty on all drugs and food for special medical purposes imported for personal use for treatment of all Rare Diseases listed under the National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021.




Key Highlights

  • Central Government already provided exemptions to specified drugs for treatment of Spinal Muscular Atrophy or Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
  • The Government has also fully exempted Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) used in treatment of various cancers from basic customs duty.







Rare disease

  • A rare disease is any disease that affects a small part of the population, for example less than 200,000 people with a wide range of possible disorders.
  • These rare diseases are mostly considered hereditary and are passed down from generation to generation.
  • In India, haemophilia, thalassemia, sickle cell disease and primary immune deficiency in children, autoimmune diseases, lysosomal storage disorders like Pompe disease and Gaucher disease are on the list of rare disease.


National Policy for Rare Disease 2021

The Government has launched National Policy for Rare Diseases (NPRD), 2021 in March, 2021 for the treatment of rare disease patients. The salient features of NPRD, 2021 are as under:

The rare diseases have been identified and categorized into 3 groups namely Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3.

  • Group 1: Disorders amenable to one-time curative treatment.
  • Group-2: Diseases requiring long term/lifelong treatment having relatively lower cost of treatment and benefit has been documented in literature and annual or more frequent surveillance is required.
  • Group 3: Diseases for which definitive treatment is available but challenges are to make optimal patient selection for benefit, very high cost and lifelong therapy.
  • Provision for financial support of up to Rs.50 lakhs to the patients suffering from any category of the Rare Diseases and for treatment in any of the Centre of Excellence (CoE) mentioned in NPRD-2021, outside the Umbrella Scheme of Rashtriya Arogaya Nidhi.
  • In order to receive financial assistance for treatment of rare disease, the patient of the nearby area may approach the nearest Centre of Excellence to get him assessed and avail the benefits.
  • Eight (08) Centres of Excellence (CoEs) have been identified for diagnosis, prevention and treatment of rare diseases.
  • Five Nidan Kendras have been set up for genetic testing and counselling services.


  • The NPRD, 2021 has provisions
  • For promotion of research and development
  • For diagnosis and treatment of rare diseases;
  • Promotion of local development and manufacture of drugs and creation of conducive environment for indigenous manufacturing of drugs
  • For rare diseases at affordable prices.


  • Department of Pharmaceuticals has initiated the implementation of Production Linked Incentive Scheme for Pharmaceuticals. The Scheme provides for financial incentives to manufacturers selected under the Scheme for domestic manufacturing of various product categories, which also include Orphan drugs.




Vaikom, a satyagraha, and the fight for social justice 


GS Paper 1: History

Important For

Prelims: About Vaikom Satyagraha

Mains: Reasons Behind Vaikom Satyagraha and Outcomes


Why in News?

March 30 was a significant day in connection with Vaikom, a serene town in Kottayam, Kerala. The date also marks the commencement of the centenary year of the Vaikom temple street entry movement that was launched in 1924, and a milestone in temple entry movements in India.

Key Highlights

  • This non-violent movement was to end the prohibition imposed on backward communities in using the roads around the Vaikom Mahadeva temple.
  • It was the prelude to the temple entry proclamation of Kerala in 1936. Launched by leaders in Kerala such as K. Madhavan, K.P. Kesava Menon and George Joseph, on the advice of Mahatma Gandhi, the movement was sustained and successfully conducted by Periyar E.V. Ramasamy, then president of the Tamil Nadu Congress, and others between 1924 and 1925.


Periyar’s entry, conditions

  • With the support of the Kerala Congress, the AntiDalit Committee launched a protest on March 30, 1924 and three people from different communities who were banned from temple streets had to come out of the civil resistance movement.
  • The protests continued for more than a year and a half, resulting in the arrest and imprisonment of many non-violent resisters.
  • The government abruptly ended these arrests after April 9.
  • Police anger is now directed at the protest leaders and Kerala state leaders who are camping in Vaikom.
  • Their arrests have created a vacuum as there are no leaders to lead the protests.
  • This led to leaders such as Neelakandan Nampoothiri and George Joseph Periyar being asked to lead the protests. There is no turning back.
  • The editor of Tamil journal Navasakthi and scholar, Thiru. Vi. Kalyanasundaram, or Thiru.Vi.Ka. conferred the title Vaikom Veerar (Hero of Vaikom) on Periyar.
  • The Vaikom movement has many colors – such as daily protests, arrests, investigations, incarcerations and incitements and attacks by orthodox Hindu traditionalists
    • Akalis from Punjab went to Vaikom to feed the protesters.
    • There was also the support of the upper castes for a 13-day march to the capital, parliamentary resolutions in favor of the sanchara (free access to the streets around the temples), its defeat and the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi to negotiate between the government , protesters and Orthodox Hindus.


Tamil Role

  • Tamil Nadu played a key role in Vaikom Satyagraha which symbolizes the struggle of the \”untouchables\”.
  • Periyar and Firebrand Leader Kovai Ayyamuthu worked with Kerala state leaders.
    • But they face repression.
  • There was a rally by the upper castes from Vaikom led by Mannathu Padmanabhan in favour of the protesters and another rally in the south, in support of temple entry, led by Emperumal Naidu from Nagercoil.
  • Sivathanu Pillai, a leader from Nagercoil (which was a part of Travancore) spoke at the meeting that culminated at Trivandrum beach.
    • There were also arrests.
  • The names of Tamils ​​who participated in the movement are published in my book Vaikom Porattam (Vaikom Struggle).




Quality Control Orders for fibres



GS Paper 3: Growth

Important For

Prelims: About Fibres Data, Bureau OF Indian Standard, Government Intitiatives

Mains: Significance of Quality Control orders for Fibres


Why in News?

Quality Control Orders (QCO) have been issued for fibres cotton, polyester and viscose that constitute the basic raw materials for majority of the Indian textile and clothing industry.

Key Highlight

  • International manufacturers of these fibres, who supply to India, are also mandated to get a certificate from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), which is the certifying authority for the QCOs.

Why are fibres covered under QCOs?

  • India\’s textile and apparel industry consumes both local and imported fibers and filaments.
  • Imports are made for various reasons cost competitiveness, unavailability of the domestic market or to meet the specific needs of foreign buyers.
  • The main objective of QCO is to control the import of inferior and cheap items and to ensure that customers get quality products.
  • Until now, the entire supply chain, from textile manufacturers to exporters, has focused on quality standards dictated by buyers.


·       India imports annually 50,000 – 60,000 tonnes of viscose fibre and its variants such as Modal and Tencel LF from nearly 20 countries.

·       In the case of polyester, almost 90,000 tonnes of polyester fibre and 1.25 lakh tonnes of POY (Polyester Partially Oriented Yarn) are imported annually.



Bureau of Indian Standards

  • BIS is the National standards body of India established under the BIS Act of 2016 to coordinate the development of standardization, marking and certification activities for the quality of products and related or ancillary matters
  • BIS provides traceability and tangible benefits to the national economy in several ways –
    • Provides safe and reliable high quality products;
    • Reduces consumer health risks;
    • Promotes export and import substitution;
    • Controls the distribution of varieties, etc. through standardization, certification and testing.
  • BIS is headquartered in New Delhi with 05 Regional Offices (RO) located in Kolkata (East), Chennai (South), Mumbai (West), Chandigarh (North) and Delhi (Central).


Government Initiatives to Promote the Textile Industry

  • National Technical Textiles Mission: Seeks to increase domestic consumption of technical textiles while making the country a world leader in this sector. It hopes to increase the size of the domestic market to $40 billion to $50 billion by 2024.
  • Amended Technology Upgrading Fund Scheme (ATUFS): To upgrade technology in the textile industry, the government has approved the Amended Technology Upgrading Fund Scheme (ATUFS) in 2015.
  • The Integrated Textile Parks Program (SITP) aims to help owners of small and medium-sized textile companies focus their investments in textile parks by providing financial support for the park\’s excellent infrastructure.
  • SAMARTH (Textile Sector Capacity Building Scheme): The government has launched the SAMARTH Textile Sector Capacity Building Scheme (SCBTS) to address the shortage of qualified personnel.
  • The North East Regional Textile Promotion Program (NERTPS) is a program that supports all areas of the textile industry through infrastructure, capacity building and marketing assistance.
  • Power-Tex India: This includes innovative R&D on power looms, new markets, branding, subsidies and worker benefit schemes.
  • The Silk Samagra program aims to reduce the country\’s dependence on imported silk by increasing the quality and productivity of locally produced silk.
  • ICARE Jute: Launched in 2015, this pilot program aims to help jute producers overcome challenges by offering certified seed at reduced prices and promoting newly developed red technologies under water-restricted conditions.
  • PM Mega Integrated Textile Region and Apparel Parks (PM MITRA): aims to integrate the entire textile value chain, from spinning, weaving, converting/dyeing, printing to garment manufacturing in one place.



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