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Current Events 24 March 2017

 

NEWS

24 March 2017

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS III : S&T  INDIAN

Ancient knowledge hub faces grim future

2.

GS II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

TB diagnosis, treatment sub-optimal in prisons

3.

GS III : SECURITY

Muivah says deal with Centre helps Nagas

4.

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-USA

U.S. lawmakers urge India to lift curbs on NGO

5.

GS II :  POLITY

‘Help speed up resolution of commercial disputes'

6.

GS III : ECONOMY

India wants to hasten talks on proposed global services pact

7.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT

Sea ice hits record winter low

8.

GS III : S&T HEALTH

Solar-powered ‘skin' for prosthetics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GS III :S&T INDIAN

Ancient knowledge hub faces grim future

  • The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), a marquee organisation of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, established in 2001, that has fought biopiracy for decades, will cease to exist in its current form.
  • It has no committed funds beyond March, most of its workforce has been removed and these staffers are litigating against CSIR.
  • It will no longer be an organisation that once pro-actively scouted for intellectual property infringements by Indian and foreign companies on traditional knowledge.
  • TKDL is an online repository of about 300,000 formulations from Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani systems.
  • Over two decades, the body translated, scanned and digitised texts from their Sanskrit, Arabic and Urdu originals.
  • This was then made searchable, allowing patent offices in India, Europe, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Japan to check if patent applicants of herbal concoctions, creams and drugs were basing their claims on available traditional knowledge.
  • Even before TKDL opened, India overturned patents in the U.S. and Europe on neem and turmeric products.
  • Between 2009 and 2015, 219 patents were denied to Indian and foreign companies based on TKDL's challenges, including Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, Avesthagen, the government's Central Council For Research in Unani Medicine, and Yale University in the U.S.
  • Since 2016 there have been no patent challenges by TKDL. The 100-odd employees - on project contracts - including Ayurveda experts, intellectual-property analysts and IT staff are down to about 50.
  • Even they are likely to be terminated by March 31 and have launched a dispute with CSIR in the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT).
  • The dispute began in late 2015 but CSIR told CAT that funds for CSIRTKDL were sanctioned between April 2012 and March 31, 2017.

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About TKDL


Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) is a pioneer initiative of India to prevent misappropriation of country's traditional medicinal knowledge at International Patent Offices on which healthcare needs of more than 70% population and livelihood of millions of people in India is dependent. Its genesis dates back to the Indian effort on revocation of patent on wound healing properties of turmeric at the USPTO. Besides, in 2005, the TKDL expert group estimated that about 2000 wrong patents concerning Indian systems of medicine were being granted every year at international level, mainly due to the fact that India's traditional medicinal knowledge which exists in local languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Arabic, Urdu, Tamil etc. is neither accessible nor comprehensible for patent examiners at the international patent offices.

TKDL has made waves around the world, particularly in TK-rich countries by demonstrating the advantages of proactive action and the power of strong deterrence. The idea is not to restrict the use of traditional knowledge, but to ensure that wrong patents are not granted due to lack of access to the prior art for Patent examiners. 


 

GS II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

TB diagnosis, treatment sub-optimal in prisons

  • Screening, diagnosis and treatment of people with tuberculosis is "sub-optimal" in Indian prisons, says a study published recently.
  • Only 79 prisons (50%) screened new inmates at the time of entry, and 92 prisons (59%) carried out periodic or regular screening.
  • As a result, the researchers from the Delhi-based International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) were able to diagnose 80 new TB cases by screening nearly 5,100 prisoners.
  • Central prisons, where inmates serve more than two years of imprisonment, had better facilities - doctors trained in TB programme (90%), periodic screening (73%) and availability of TB services (65%) - compared with district and sub-district prisons.

 

GS III : SECURITY

Muivah says deal with Centre helps Nagas

  • The framework agreement, signed between the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (IsakMuivah) in August 2015, will give Nagas "maximum sovereign power", NSCN (IM) general secretary ThuingalengMuivah said, even as he pointed out that the agreement talks about "co-existence" and shared sovereignty of "two entities."
  • This is the first time since the agreement was signed that the NSCN (IM) has spoken about the crux of the agreement.
  • Expressing the hope that talks with the Government of India will conclude soon, Mr. Muivah said the NSCN (IM) is now fully "engaged in political talks with the Government of India for working out anhonourable political solution.

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GS II :BILATERAL INDIA-USA

U.S. lawmakers urge India to lift curbs on NGO

  • A group of 107 members of U.S. Congress have written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to temporarily lift the restrictions on the American Christian charity, Compassion International (CI), until a permanent solution can be found.
  • The Union government has ordered banks in India to stop processing wire transfers from CI to its Indian partners, bringing the charity's operations to halt.
  • CI supports 1,45,000 children in India with donations raised in the U.S. The U.S lawmakers said they were "long time supporters of U.S.-India partnership" but the Indian government's treatment of CI has "caused serious concern within the U.S. Congress."
  • The Indian government has put CI on a Priority Watch list, accusing the charity of carrying out religious conversion in the country. However, no case has been filed against the organisation.
  • As you may know, Compassion International has worked in India since 1968, and today, its programs support over 1,45,000 Indian children, providing critical tutoring, health and nutrition, and medical services," they said in the letter to Mr. Singh.

 

GS II:  POLITYJUDICIARY

‘Help speed up resolution of commercial disputes'

  • In a letter to Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there were certain issues that could be addressed by the judiciary through its initiatives in the larger interest of efficient and effective delivery of justice.
  • He said the Supreme Court could provide the necessary leadership for the proper implementation of the existing provisions of the Civil Procedure Code relating tothe grant of adjournments, adherence to time lines and electronic filing and electronic service of summons in city courts of Delhi (11) and Mumbai (60) immediately.
  • "Doing so will go a long way in providing timely and effective enforcement of contracts and this will undoubtedly ensure a marked improvement in our ranking".
  • He said the government accorded high priority to improving the ease of doing business and making India a favourable investment destination for the domestic as well as global investors.
  • "The World Bank publishes a report on "Doing Business" on annual basis, which compares the business regulations across 190 economies.
  • As per the report published by the World Bank in September 2016, India's overall ranking improved from 131 in 2016 to 130 in 2017.
  • The overall ranking is an average of the various sub-indicatorsincludingthe time taken to start a business, time taken to get construction permits, paying taxes and enforcing contracts.
  • The "Enforcing Contract" indicator in the report measures the time and cost for resolving a standardised commercial dispute through a local court of first instance, which for the purpose of the ranking is the Delhi district court and Mumbai city civil court as of now.

 

GS III : ECONOMY

India wants to hasten talks on proposed global services pact

  • India on 23 March 2017 pressed for expediting the negotiation process for a global services pact, that among other things, aims to ease norms for movement of skilled workers across borders.
  • India had, in February, submitted to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) a legally-vetted proposal for a Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS) Agreement.
  • The proposal was taken up by an expert committee at the WTO headquarters in Geneva recently, and it will be considered for discussion by all theWTO members.
  • The proposed TFS, among other things, aims to ensure portability of social security contributions and cross-border insurance coverage to boost medical tourism.
  • According to India, the proposed pact is similar to the WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in Goods, that came into force on 22 February 2017, and aims to ease customs norms to boost global goods trade.
  • India had specified that the proposed TFS pact is also about ‘facilitation,' that is "making market access ‘effective' and commercially meaningful and not about ‘new' (or greater) market access."

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GS III: ENVIRONMENT - CLIMATE CHANGE

Sea ice hits record winter low

  • The sea ice cover in the Arctic and the Antarctic hit new record lows for this time of year, marking the smallest polar ice caps in the 38-year satellite record.
  • In March, the Arctic ice sheet should be at its biggest, but on March 7 the ice cover reached "a record low wintertime maximum extent," said a statement by NASA.
  • Data from the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado, also showed that on March 3, "sea ice around Antarctica hit its lowest extent ever recorded by satellites at the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere".
  • The disappearing sea ice comes as the planet has marked three years in a row of record-breaking heat, raising new concerns about the accelerating pace of global warming and the need to curb burning of fossil fuels.
  • The ice floating in the Arctic Ocean grows and shrinks on a seasonal cycle, reaching its largest size in March and its smallest at the end of the summer melt in September.
  • This year's Arctic maximum spanned 14.42 million sq.km. That is 95,829 sq.km. below the previous record low in 2015.
  • When scientists take account of the average sea ice extent for 1981-2010, this year's ice cover is 12,19,884 sq.km. smaller.
  • In the Antarctic, this year's record low annual sea ice minimum was 21,10,840 sq.km. That was 1,83,889 sq.km. below the previous lowest minimum extent in the satellite record, which occurred in 1997, NASA said.

 

GS III : S&T - HEALTH

Solar-powered ‘skin' for prosthetics

  • Amputees with prosthetic limbs may soon get a better sense of touch, thanks to the power of the sun, British researchers said.
  • RavinderDahiya, a research fellow at the University of Glasgow, said the technology involves installing a thin layer of pure carbon around a prosthetic.
  • This allows light to pass through it and be easily used as solar energy, the researchers said.
  • This extra and renewable energy can be used to power sensors that increase sense and feeling in a prosthetic limb.

 


 

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Current Affairs News Covered:

GS III : S&T INDIAN - Ancient knowledge hub faces grim future.
GS II : SOCIAL-HEALTH - TB diagnosis, treatment sub-optimal in prisons.
GS III : SECURITY - Muivah says deal with Centre helps Nagas.
GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-USA - U.S. lawmakers urge India to lift curbs on NGO.
GS II : POLITY - Help speed up resolution of commercial disputes.
GS III : ECONOMY - India wants to hasten talks on proposed global services pact.
GS III: ENVIRONMENT - Sea ice hits record winter low.
GS III : S&T HEALTH - Solar-powered ‘skin' for prosthetics.

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