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1. Centre plans connectivity push on China border
1. The ‘invasion’ of Chinese radio channels has made the Centre plan installation of optical fibre cables (OFC) in areas bordering China.
2. The OFC push is expected to arm civilians and defence personnel with cellular and radio connectivity strong enough to counter the Chinese waves.
3. The move brings into light that these remotest areas can access Chinese radio channels easily but not the All India Radio.
4. Defence Minister has experienced poor communication network during her recent visit to border villages of Arunachal Pradesh.
5. It will soon start work on extension of OFC in the remote border areas.
GI Tag for 5 items from Bengal
1. Geographical Indication Registry and Intellectual Property India GI tag to thefollowing 5 rural crafts:
i. Chau mask of Purulia,
ii. Wooden mask of Kushmandi, the
iiii. Dokras of Bengal
v. Madhurkathi (a kind of mat)
2. A GI tag connects the quality and authenticity of a given product to a particular geographical origin, thereby ensuring that no one other than the authorised user can use the popular product’s name.
3. GI tags for these five rural crafts would not only help the artisans create their own brand but would also provide legal protection to artisans practising the crafts against attempts to duplicate them in other regions.
Uniqueness of Bengal
1. Out of the GI tags to 25 products, 9 are from West Bengal.
2. GI tags are given on the basis of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.
3. The first product to be included in the list was Darjeeling Tea.
4. What is unique about these is that they are made by marginalised communities that, until a few years ago, found it hard to sustain themselves by producing these crafts,
3. The importance of green skills for green jobs
Closing the green skill gap is essential for reaping the benefits of a green economy—and the private sector has a crucial role to play.
Report by the International Labour Organization (ILO)
- Ir was a global job market
- It has noted that achieving the Paris Agreement’s 2 degrees Celsius goal will result in a net increase of 18 million jobs across the globe by 2030
The “World Employment And Social Outlook 2018 Greening With Jobs” report
- The report notes that more than 300,000 workers will be employed in the solar and wind energy sectors to meet India’s ambitious goal of generating 175 gigawatts (GW) of electricity from renewable resources by 2022
- However, fulfilling this optimistic target will require establishing green skills training programmes
What is the issue?
- India ranks amongst the top 10 countries for production of renewable energy through solar, wind and biomass
- But the existing skill mismatch could not only pose hurdles to further growth here but also leave the poor out of the greening of the economy
- Closing this green skill gap is an imperative for establishing sound environmental sustainability programmes
What should be done?
FIRST: Identifying the necessary skills
- The initial step is identifying the necessary skills
- The transition to green jobs can take place along two tracks
- The first is a decline in the number of jobs in various industries, such as those reliant on carbon-based production
- Secondly, changes in skill sets can equip workers to continue working in sectors like agriculture and infrastructure as they grow greener
- Managing the socioeconomic disruption in the former instance and matching industry demand in the latter demands good quantitative and qualitative employment data
SECOND: The integration of green skills in formal education and training programmes
- Technical and vocational education and training (Tvet) programmes run by the government in India are another matter entirely
- Government-regulated Tvet programmes fail to align their curriculum with industry needs, thereby depriving graduates of decent jobs
- This is a long-standing problem and is bound to be particularly harmful when it comes to green jobs, given their rapidly evolving demands
Can the Green Skill Development Programme (GSDP) be a success?
- For example, Skill India mission, launched in 2015
- It has run out of steam, with problems ranging from poor management to a shortage of qualified trainers
- The Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change recently launched a Green Skill Development Programme (GSDP)
- The programme aims to train over 550,000 people in the environment and forest sectors in the next three years
- If it means to succeed, it must learn the lessons of such failures
What are those lessons?
- One of those lessons is the importance of partnering with the private sector—whether in designing government programmes or enabling and incentivising companies to run such programmes
- Prospective employers are the ones who are most well acquainted with changing skill needs and labour market shifts, after all
- Previous skill initiatives have often run aground here, with a lack of apprenticeship training and an inadequate industry interface
4. Great Barrier Reef facing its toughest test ever
- But it has likely never faced an onslaught quite as severe as today.
- The grave concerns are about the ability of the reef in its current form to survive the pace of change caused by the many current stresses and those projected into the near future.
- In the past, the reef shifted along the sea floor to deal with changes in its environment — either seaward or landward depending on whether the level of the ocean was rising or falling, the team found.
- Based on fossil data from cores drilled into the ocean floor it was determined that the Great Barrier Reef was able to migrate between 20 cm and 1.5 metres per year.
- This rate may not be enough to withstand the current barrage of environmental challenges.
- The reef probably has not faced changes in sea surface temperature and acidification at such a rate.
- Over 10 years, they studied how it had responded to changes caused by continental ice sheets expanding and waning over 30 millennia.
- The GBR will probably die again in the next few thousand years anyway if it follows its past geological pattern as the earth is believed to be due for another ice age.
- But whether human-induced climate change will hasten that death remains to be seen.
5. Government weighs linking medicine prices to wholesale inflation
NITI Aayog’s proposal link drug prices to wholesale inflation is likely to bring down medicine prices—a blow to the pharma industry.
1. The government is considering the feasibility of linking the permitted annual increase in prices of non-scheduled formulations to the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) in a bid to regulate the prices of drugs.
2. The move, if implemented, could deal a big blow to the Pharmaindustry.
3. We currently have a situation where there are strong incentives for companies to market non-scheduled formulations to avail to automatic 10% increase.
4. Compounded over five years, the price of a non-scheduled drug goes up by over 60%.
On NITI Aayog’s Recommendation
1. The NITI Aayog has recommended an amendment to the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013, suggesting that prices of non-scheduled drugs be also be linked to WPI to regulate them like the prices of scheduled drugs.
2. It has also suggested development of a separate index for pharmaceutical products.
3. The medicine prices may be linked to pharma commodities WPI rather than general WPI for both scheduled as well as non-scheduled drugs.
Arguments by DPCO
1. According to DPCO 2013, prices of scheduled drugs are revised in line with the wholesale price index (WPI) of the previous calendar year.
2. As a corollary, the companies are even required to cut the prices if there is a decline in the annual WPI.
3. However, manufacturers of medicines not under price control are allowed to increase the maximum retail price by 10% annually.
4. According to DoP, only about 850 drugs are under price control as against the more than 6,000 medicines available in the market of various strengths and dosages.
What if recommendations are accepted?
1. Pharma lobby groups said the recommendation is without a doubt a considerable blow to an already beleaguered industry.
2. The proposed linking of the non-scheduled formulations to WPI based price changes will deal a severe blow to the industry’s innovation efforts.
3. The pharmaceutical industry earns investible surplus for innovation from exports.
4. It has suffered a major setback in the USA in 2017. The increased competition and channel consolidation have eroded their margins.
5. This has significantly impacted R&D funding for the industry. The need for investments in R&D is crucial to the future of the national pharmaceutical industry.
The Way Forward
1. Pharma lobby groups claim that the proposal is not seen as favouring the industry.
2. This proposal is a serious adverse development and has the potential to cause irreparable damage to the Indian Pharma industry.
3. Given the real annual inflation, increase based only on WPI is not at all reasonable as the industry has to deal with the rising cost of manufacturing.
4. Additionally, according to the proposal, in case of a negative WPI, mandating the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) to change the ceiling price of scheduled drugs and it will not be required for individual drugs to reduce their MRPs if they are already lower than such revised ceiling price.
5. Pharma lobby groups have supported the equalization of the annual price increase between scheduled and non-scheduled drugs
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