Current Affairs August 26, 2023: Fujiwhara Effect, NMC Guidelines on Generic Medicines, Smart Cities Mission, Fast Track Special Courts, Creation of new districts, Gun Jumping, Artemis Accords, Lion-Tailed Macaque, Sahyadriophis Uttaraghati

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{GS1 – Geo – PG – Climatology – 2023/08/26} Fujiwhara Effect

  • Context (IE): California has witnessed Fujiwhara effect.
  • When two tropical cyclones (or hurricanes) come in close proximity, they begin to rotate around a common midpoint (which looks like a dance). It is called the Fujiwhara Effect.
  • Conditions necessary for the effect to occur:
    • Two tropical cyclones formed around the same time in the same ocean region.
    • The distance between the centres (or eyes) of the cyclones is less than 1,400 km.
    • An intensity that could vary between a depression (wind speed under 63 km/hour) and a super typhoon (wind speed over 209 km/hour).

 

Fujiwhara Effect Fujiwhara effect - Wikipedia

Consequences of Fujiwhara Effect

  • Change in direction: Fujiwhara effect can change the direction of either or both storm systems.
  • Change in intensity:  It can enhance or weaken the intensity of the two cyclones.
  • Mega Cyclone: In some cases, the two cyclones can merge together to form a larger, more powerful mega cyclone. This is a rare occurrence but can wreak havoc.
  • Increased rainfall: Fujiwhara effect can also increase the rainfall of the two cyclones.
  • Unpredictable path: It makes cyclones more unpredictable due to their rapid intensification.

{GS2 – MoHFW – Initiatives – 2023/08/26} Mandatory Prescription of Generics

  • Context (TH | IE | IE): The National Medical Commission (NMC) put on hold its NMC Registered Medical Practitioner (Professional Conduct) Regulations, 2023 guidelines that made it mandatory for doctors to only prescribe generic drugs.
  • The guidelines on generic drugs were opposed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the Central Drugs Standard Drug Control Organisation (CDSCO), the country’s apex drug regulator.
  • Indian Medical Association (IMA): It is the largest representative voluntary organisation (not a government organisation) of doctors in India. It was founded in 1928.

NMC Guidelines on Generic Medicines

  • The guidelines say that Registered Medical Practitioners (RMPs) can only write the generic names of the medicine on the prescription.
  • E.g., a doctor will have to prescribe paracetamol for fever instead of Dolo or Calpol.
  • Reason: Generic medicines are 30% to 80% cheaper than the branded versions, and so, will bring down healthcare costs.
  • Exception: Guidelines can only be relaxed for medicines
    • with a narrow therapeutic index (a small difference in dosage may lead to adverse outcomes),
    • biosimilars (a different version of biological products that are manufactured in living systems),
    • similar other exceptional cases.
  • Generic Name: Also called non-proprietary or approved name of a drug, it is the name accepted by a competent scientific body/regulatory authority.
  • Generic Drug/Medicine: It is defined as a drug product comparable to the brand/reference listed product in dosage form, strength, route of administration, quality and performance characteristics.
  • Branded Generic Drug: It is a generic drug that has come off patent and is manufactured and sold under different companies’ brand names.
    • These drugs may be less costly than the branded patent version but costlier than the bulk-manufactured generic version.
    • There is less regulatory control over the prices of these “branded” generic drugs.
  • Off-patent: A product is said to be off-patent when the patent that protects it has expired. Other companies can manufacture and sell the product without the patent holder’s permission.

Criticisms Against the Guidelines on Generic Medicines

Uncertainty about the quality of generic medicine
  • The quality control of generic drugs is very weak in India, and prescribing drugs without assured quality will harm patient health.
  • Until a few years ago, it was not mandatory for companies making generics to carry out bio-equivalence or stability studies.
  • Firms making generics do not spend on research or comply even with more relaxed norms.
  • Bio-equivalence studies: They are done to show that the generic drug elicits the same response as a branded version.
  • Stability studies: They are done to see how the quality of the drug varies over a period under specific environmental conditions.
Increase healthcare costs
  • Drug stores usually do not stock generic medicines because of very low profit margins.
  • So, they will provide the patients with branded medicines, making the healthcare costs higher.
Take away RMPs’ choice of prescribing the medicine
  • Since the quality of medicines varies across companies, RMPs prescribe the medicine they consider best for the patient.
  • However, implementing this guideline will take away this right of RMPs, which may jeopardise the patients’ lives and also tarnish the reputation of RMPs.

NMC RMP (Professional Conduct) Regulations 2023

  • NMC Regulations are mandatory for every medical practitioner registered under the NMC Act.
  • NMC Regulations 2023 replaces the Medical Council of India’s Code of Medical Ethics 2002.

Key Guidelines for RMPs under NMC Regulations 2023

Generic Medicine and Prescription
  • Prescribe drugs with generic names, except for specific cases.
  • Both overprescribing and underprescribing are to be avoided.
  • Prescriptions should be legible and preferably in full CAPITALS.
Code of Ethics
  • Must protect patient confidentiality and privacy.
  • Must not discriminate based on gender, race, religion, caste, socio-economic grounds, etc.
  • Must provide care for the patient with compassion and respect.
  • Must not receive gifts or benefits from pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, or corporate hospitals.
Right to Refuse Treatment
  • Can refuse treatment to abusive, unruly, or violent patients and relatives.
  • Can refuse treatment if the agreed-upon fees are not paid in lieu of treatment, except for government doctors.
  • These provisions are not applicable in case of emergencies.
Use of Social Media
  • Distinguish between telemedicine consultation and social media.
  • Can provide information on social media, provided it is factual and verifiable.
  • Prohibition on soliciting patients directly or indirectly through social media.
  • Prohibition on discussing patient treatment specifics or sharing patient images and scans.
  • Restriction on requesting and sharing patient testimonials.
Continuous Professional Development
  • Continue learning throughout the active years.
  • Accumulate 30 credit points in relevant fields every five years
  • Not more than 50% online training in annual CPD sessions.

National Medical Commission (NMC)

  • NMC is a statutory body established under the National Medical Commission Act, 2019.
  • The NMC replaced the erstwhile Medical Council of India (MCI) which was established in 1934.

Objectives of NMC

  • Improve access to quality and affordable medical education
  • Ensure the availability of adequate and high-quality medical professionals
  • Promote equitable and universal healthcare
  • Encourages medical professionals to adopt the latest medical research
  • Objectively assess medical institutions periodically
  • Maintain a medical register for India
  • Enforce high ethical standards for medical services
  • Have an effective grievance redressal mechanism

Composition of NMC

What changes, what doesn't: The National Medical Commission Bill ...

{GS2 – MoHUA – 2023/08/26} Smart Cities Mission (SCM) & Rankings

  • Context (IE): The Ministry of Housing And Urban Affairs named Indore the best city and Madhya Pradesh the best state in the Smart Cities Mission in its India Smart Cities Awards 2022.
  • Smart city is a term that describes a city that uses technology and data to improve the efficiency and sustainability of its services and infrastructure.
  • A smart city aims to enhance the quality of life, reduce environmental impact, and foster economic growth.
  • SCM is an initiative of the GoI to develop 100 smart cities across the country.
  • The mission was launched in 2015, and operates as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.

The Smart Solutions Include

  • Smart governance: Using digital platforms to improve transparency and accountability.
  • Smart mobility: Improving public transport, and promoting non-motorized modes of transport.
  • Smart energy: Enhancing energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, and smart metering.
  • Smart water: Improving water supply, sanitation, and waste management.
  • Smart environment: Reducing pollution, increasing green cover, and enhancing climate resilience.
  • Smart health: Providing accessible and affordable healthcare services and facilities.
  • Smart education: Improving access and quality of education and skill development.
  • Smart safety: Enhancing safety and security through surveillance and emergency response systems.

Insights into Editorial: The smart cities project must promote diversity -  INSIGHTSIAS

Selection Process Of The Smart Cities

  • The selection process of the smart cities involves a two-stage competition.
  • The first stage is at the state level, where each state nominates a certain number of cities based on their population and urbanization.
  • The second stage is at the national level, where the nominated cities submit their smart city proposals based on their vision, goals, strategies, and plans.
  • The proposals are evaluated by an expert committee based on various criteria such as feasibility, innovation, citizen engagement, etc.
  • The final list of 100 smart cities is announced by the central government.

Implementation Strategy Of The Smart Cities

  • The implementation strategy of the smart cities is based on Area-Based Development (ABD) and Pan-City Development (PCD).
  • ABD involves transforming a specific area within the city through:
    • Retrofitting (improving existing infrastructure),
    • Redevelopment (replacing old infrastructure with new), or
    • Greenfield development (creating new infrastructure in vacant areas).
  • PCD involves applying smart solutions across the city to benefit all citizens.
  • The ABD and PCD projects are executed by Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs), which are joint ventures between the state and city governments.
  • The SPVs are responsible for planning, financing, managing, and monitoring the smart city projects.

The progress report of the Smart Cities Mission as of February 2023 is as follows:

  • Out of the total 7,804 projects under the Smart Cities Mission, 6,041 projects (76 per cent) worth Rs 1,10,635 crore have been completed and the remaining will be finished by June 30, 2024.
  • The Union government is expected to provide financial support of Rs 48,000 crore to the 100 smart cities over a period of five years (2017-22).
  • Karnataka topped the list of states with the most completed projects (768), followed by Madhya Pradesh (577), Uttar Pradesh (553), and Tamil Nadu (531).
  • Raipur (235) in Chhattisgarh were identified as the cities with the highest number of completed projects in their states.

{GS2 – MoLJ – Schemes – 2023/08/26} Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) Scheme

  • Context (PIB): Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) have successfully resolved 1.74 lakh cases related to rape and crimes against children.
  • FTSCs scheme is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme launched in 2019 by the Ministry of Law and Justice.
  • It is implemented by the State/UT Governments and HCs in close coordination.
  • It is implemented for expeditious disposal of all rape cases.
  • It also covers all crimes under the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
  • It aims to set up 1023 FTSCs, including 389 exclusive POCSO Courts nationwide, for expeditious trials relating to sexual offences.
  • FTSCs are being set up as a part of the National Mission for Safety of Women (NMSW).

Objectives

  • To provide quick justice to the victims of sexual crime
  • To provide stringent punishment
  • To create a deterrence framework for sexual offenders
  • To reduce the number of pending cases of rape and the POCSO act

Functioning of the FTSCs

  • Each FTSC will exclusively handle pending cases of rape and the POCSO Act.
  • No other cases of crime against women and children should be transferred to these courts.

{GS2 – Polity – IC – State Executive – 2023/08/26} Creation of new districts

  • Context (TH): The Assam Cabinet decided to create four new districts in Assam.
  • The power to create or abolish a district lies with the state governments.
  • To create new districts in the state, the State government can:
    1. Pass a law in the Assembly or
    2. Issue an order and notify it in the gazette.
  • The Centre does not have any authority in this matter.

Creation of new states

  • The power to create a new state lies with the Central government and states have no say in it.
  • Article 3 of IC: Formation of new States and alteration of areas, boundaries, or names of existing States. Parliament may by law:
    1. Form a new State by:
      • Separation of territory from any State or
      • Uniting two or more States or parts of States or
      • Uniting any territory to a part of any State
    2. Increase the area of any State.
    3. Diminish the area of any State.
    4. Alter the boundaries of any State.
    5. Alter the name of any State.
  • The Bill for the above purpose shall be introduced in either House of Parliament only on the recommendation of the President.
  • If the proposal contained in the Bill affects the area, boundaries, or name of any of the States, the President shall refer the Bill to the Legislature of that State for expressing its views within a period specified in the reference.

{GS3 – IE – RBI – 2023/08/26} RBI Guidelines

  • Context (TH | IE): The RBI issued guidelines to regulate penal charges on loans.
  • It directed lenders/Regulated Entities (REs) to levy ‘penal charges’ and not ‘penal interest’ in case of default/noncompliance with payment schedule.
  • These instructions will come into effect from January 1, 2024.
  • Penal interest is the interest rate charged on the advances (loans).
  • Penal charge is an additional charge a lender levies on a borrower in case of delay in payment, default or non-compliance of payment contracts.
  • The intent is to inculcate a sense of credit discipline and is not meant to be used as a revenue enhancement tool.

Guidelines

  • There shall be no capitalisation of penal charges, i.e., no further interest computed on such charges.
  • The penal charges should be “proportionate to the non-compliance of the loan contract.”
  • Penal charges to ‘individual borrowers, for purposes other than business,’ cannot exceed those to non-individual borrowers.
  • These guidelines are applicable to Regulated Entities (REs):
    • Banks (excluding payments banks)
    • Non-banking financial companies (NBFCs)
    • All India Financial Institutions
  • These guidelines are not applicable to:
    • Credit cards
    • External commercial borrowings
    • Trade credits

Regulated Entities (REs)

  • These are the lending institutions regulated by the RBI. REs include:
    1. All Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs) / Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) / Local Area Banks (LABs) / All Co-operative Banks.
    2. All India Financial Institutions (AIFIs).
    3. All Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs)

{GS3 – MoCA – CCI – 2023/08/23} Gun Jumping

  • Context (HBL): Gun jumping is a term that refers to the violation of competition law by parties who are involved in a merger or acquisition deal.

    Gun Jumping' in the Indian Competition Landscape

    • It occurs when the parties either fail to notify the competition authority (such as CCI in India) about the deal before it is completed or when they start to integrate their businesses.

Section 43A of the Competition Act 2002

  • The Competition Act of 2002 requires parties to a deal that meets certain monetary thresholds to notify CCI about the deal and wait for its approval before consummating it.
  • The waiting period can be up to 210 days from the date of notification or until CCI approves the deal.
  • During this period, the parties must operate as independent entities and not share confidential information or coordinate their activities. This is known as the standstill obligation.
  • If the parties breach the standstill obligation, they can face penalties under Section 43A of the Competition Act 2002, up to 1 per cent of the turnover or assets of the combination, whichever is higher.
  • CCI has penalised several parties for gun jumping.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI)

The Competition Act, 2002

  • A need was felt to promote competition and private enterprise, especially in the light of 1991 Indian economic liberalisation, so the Competition Act was introduced in 2002.
  • The Competition Act 2002 follows the philosophy of modern competition laws.
  • CCI consists of a chairperson and six members appointed by the Central Government.
  • The Act bans actions that harm competition and monitors mergers and acquisitions of enterprises.
  • The Act empowers the commission to advise on competition issues referred by other authorities and to promote competition awareness.

{GS3 – S&T – Space – 2023/08/26} Artemis Accords

  • Context (IE | TH | PIB): India has become the 27th signatory of the Artemis Accords.
  • Artemis Accords were established by the U.S. with seven founding members: Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the UAE, and the UK in 2020.
  • It is a set of principles that govern civil exploration and use of outer space and celestial bodies for peaceful purposes.
  • It is a non-binding multilateral arrangement.
  • It have been signed by 27 countries; India is the 27th country.
  • It is built in accordance with the Outer Space Treaty.
  • The Artemis Accords is closely linked to the Artemis Programme, which aims to return astronauts to the lunar surface.
  • Crtiticism: The legal status and provisions are uncertain. E.g., no provision to regulate mining on moon and other celestial bodies.

This graphic shows the list of countries that have signed the Artemis Accords. Flags from 25 different nations are listed over an image of the shadowed lunar surface. The flags represent Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States of America. The bottom of the image reads: "United for Peaceful Exploration of Space."
Credit: NASA

Location of the countries which are a signatory go the Artemis Accords

Principles of Artemis Accords

  • Peaceful Purposes: Activities under these Accords should be for peaceful purposes.
  • Transparency: Members must be transparent about their space policies and space exploration plans.
  • Interoperability: Development of interoperable exploration infrastructures and standards.
  • Emergency Assistance: Render necessary assistance to personnel in outer space who are in distress.
  • Registration of Space Objects: Determining the registration of any relevant space object.
  • Release of Scientific Data: Open sharing of scientific data from cooperative activities.
  • Preserving Outer Space Heritage: It includes human or robotic landing sites, spacecraft, etc., on celestial bodies.
  • Space Resources: Utilisation of space resources by safe and sustainable activities.
  • Deconfliction of Space Activities: Refrain from any intentional actions that may create conflicts.
  • Orbital Debris: Mitigation of orbital debris through safe disposal and limiting the generation.

Implications for India

Benefits

  • Access to advanced technology and training
  • Participation in crewed missions to the Moon
  • Collaboration with other space agencies
  • Help in making Indian missions cost-effective
  • A major diplomatic achievement for India

Challenges

  • India may be seen as aligning with the U.S. against other space powers, such as China and Russia.

Lunar Exploration Programmes of Major Space Powers

  • Artemis Programme: USA
  • International Lunar Research Station programme: China and Russia

Outer Space Treaty

  • It is an international treaty that was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1967.
  • It is the foundational legal framework for activities in outer space.
  • 114 countries are parties to it; India is also a party to it.

Key Principles Outlined in the Outer Space Treaty

  • Peaceful Use of Outer Space.
  • Sovereignty and Non-Appropriation: Outer space is not subject to national appropriation or ownership by any means or any other forms of sovereignty.
  • International Cooperation.
  • Prevention of Harmful Contamination.
  • Liability for Space Activities: States are held liable for any damage caused by their space activities to other countries or their space objects.
  • Freedom of Exploration.
  • Prohibition of Military Bases.
  • Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons.
  • Legal Responsibility: States are responsible for national space activities, whether conducted by government or non-government entities, such as commercial companies.
  • Notification: Countries must provide information about their space activities and launchings.
  • Registration: Countries are encouraged to register space objects with the United Nations.
  • Astronaut Safety: States must ensure the safety of astronauts and assist astronauts in distress.

NASA’s Artemis Mission

  • Artemis Mission is a lunar mission to establish the first long-term presence on the Moon.
  • The mission intends to re-establish human presence on the Moon for the first time since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
  • NASA partnered with three space agencies: the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
  • Artemis mission is divided into four parts: Artemis I, Artemis II, Artemis III, and Artemis IV.

Artemis I

  • Artemis I is the first uncrewed flight test of the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket around the moon.
Orion Spacecraft
  • Orion is NASA’s spacecraft that will take humans deep into space.
  • It is a partially reusable crewed spacecraft used in NASA’s Artemis program.
Space Launch System (SLS) Rocket
  • SLS rocket is a super heavy-lift expendable launch vehicle developed by NASA.
  • An expendable launch vehicle is a launch vehicle that can be launched only once, after which its components are either destroyed during re-entry or discarded in space.
  • SLS has the highest payload capacity of any rocket in operational service.

Artemis II

  • Artemis II will be the first crewed flight test around the moon since Apollo.
  • The crewed Orion spacecraft will perform a flyby test and return to Earth.
  • Flyby test: A spacecraft passes by a planet or other body in space to get information about it.

Artemis III

  • Artemis III will be the first crewed moon landing mission since Apollo 17 in 1972.
  • It will land the crew at the Moon’s south polar region.
  • Artemis 3 is planned to place the first woman and non-white person on the moon.

Artemis IV

  • Artemis IV will launch astronauts to the Lunar Gateway.

Lunar Gateway

  • Lunar Gateway is the first planned space station in lunar orbit.
  • Lunar orbit: It is the orbit of an object around the moon.
    • It will serve as a solar-powered communication hub, science laboratory, and short-term habitation module for astronauts.

{Prelims – Envi – Species – 2023/08/26} Lion-Tailed Macaque (Macaca silenus)

  • Context (TH): Lion-tailed macaques have been spotted in the forests of Nadugani, shared by the Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu and Nilambur in Kerala.
  • They might have moved into the area from Silent Valley and New Amarambalam (a reserve forest).
  • Lion-tailed macaque (or wanderoo) is an Old World monkey endemic to the Western Ghats.
  • Unlike other macaques, this arboreal species are shy and avoids humans when possible.
  • Distribution: Found in three states, namely, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.
  • Habitat: Prefers tropical evergreen rainforests but also found in monsoon forests.
  • Threats: Habitat loss, hunting and wood harvesting.
  • IUCN: EN | CITES: Appendix I | WPA: Schedule I

Lion Tailed Macaque and its Habitat

Silent Valley NP

  • Silent Valley NP is located in the Nilgiri Hills in the Malappuram district, Kerala, and Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu. The park lies within the Nilgiri BR.
  • Bhavani River (a tributary of the Kaveri River) and Kunthipuzha River (a tributary of Bharathappuzha River) originate in the vicinity of the park. The Kadalundi River also originates in this park.
  • Vegetation: Mountain rainforests, tropical moist evergreen forest, sholas forests, open grasslands.
  • Major Fauna: It is home to the largest population of lion-tailed macaques (EN).
  • Other major fauna: Niligiri langur, Malabar giant squirrel, Nilgiri tahr, tiger, leopard, Travancore flying squirrel, Indian pangolin, etc.
  • Major Avifauna: Nilgiri wood-pigeon, Malabar grey hornbill, Nilgiri flycatcher.
  • Threats: Livestock grazing and forest fires, illegal plantations of cannabis, etc.

Wildlife Sanctuary, National Park, Tiger Reserves in Kerala

{Prelims – Envi – Species In News– 2023/08/26} Sahyadriophis Uttaraghati

  • Context (HT): Sahyadriophis Uttaraghati is a new species of colubrid snake that was discovered in the northern part of the Western Ghats, a biodiversity hotspot in India.
  • The new species is also known as the Northern Sahyadri keelback, as it has a keeled dorsal scale that gives it a rough texture.

New specie, genus of snakes discovered in Western Ghats - Hindustan Times

  • It is a small snake, measuring about 40 cm in length.
  • It is mainly active during the monsoon season.
  • It feeds on frogs and their eggs, and sometimes on fish and insects.
  • It is not venomous, unlike some other colubrid snakes that have rear fangs and mild venom.

Colubrid snakes

  • Colubrid snakes are the largest, diverse family of snakes, comprising over 1,800 species.
  • They are found in almost every region of the world, except for Antarctica.
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