UPSC Exam  >  UPSC Notes  >  Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly  >  Weekly Current Affairs (8th to 14th March 2024) Part - 2

Weekly Current Affairs (8th to 14th March 2024) Part - 2 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC PDF Download

Local Currency Trade between India-Indonesia

Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Bank Indonesia (BI) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at establishing a framework to promote the use of local currencies, the Indian Rupee (INR) and the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR), for cross-border transactions. This agreement follows an earlier announcement in 2023 between India and Malaysia to settle trade in INR alongside other currencies.

Key Highlights of the MoU:

  • The primary objective of the MoU is to facilitate bilateral transactions in INR and IDR, encompassing all current account transactions, permissible capital account transactions, and other economic and financial transactions as mutually agreed upon.
  • The framework allows exporters and importers to invoice and pay in their respective domestic currencies, fostering the development of an INR-IDR foreign exchange market. This approach streamlines costs and settlement time for transactions.
  • The MoU is expected to bolster trade between India and Indonesia, deepen financial integration, and strengthen the historical, cultural, and economic ties between the two nations.

India-Indonesia Relations:

Commercial Relations:

  • Indonesia has emerged as India's second-largest trading partner in the ASEAN region, with bilateral trade increasing from USD 4.3 billion in 2005-06 to USD 38.84 billion in 2022-23.

Political Relations:

  • Both nations played key roles in advocating for independence for Asian and African countries, leading to significant events like the Bandung Conference of 1955 and the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961.
  • Since India's adoption of the 'Look East Policy' in 1991, bilateral relations have witnessed rapid development, with both countries being members of G20, East Asia Summit, and the United Nations.

Cultural Relations:

  • Indonesia has been influenced by Hindu, Buddhist, and later Muslim faiths from India, with stories from Indian epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata shaping Indonesian folk art and dramas.
  • Approximately 100,000 people of Indian origin reside in Indonesia, primarily in Greater Jakarta, Medan, Surabaya, and Bandung, contributing to cultural exchange and diversity.

What are Efforts for the Internationalisation of the Rupee?

Liberalisation of Capital Markets:

  • India increased the availability of rupee-denominated financial instruments, such as bonds (Masala Bond) and derivatives, to enhance the rupee's appeal.

Promotion of Digital Payment Systems:

  • Initiatives like the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) have facilitated digital transactions in rupees.
  • Recently, Sri Lanka and Mauritius have adopted UPI.

Special Vostro Rupee Accounts (SVRAs):

  • India permitted authorized banks from 18 countries (Ex. Russia and Malaysia) to open Special Vostro Rupee Accounts (SVRAs) for settling payments in rupees at market-determined exchange rates.
  • Objectives of the Mechanism are lower transaction costs, greater price transparency, faster settlement time, and overall promotion of international trade.

Currency Swap Agreements:

  • Signed by the RBI with several countries (Ex. Japan, Sri Lanka and SAARC members) enables the exchange of rupee and foreign currency between respective central banks, bolstering the international usage of the rupee.

Bilateral Trade Agreements:

  • The government's signing of bilateral trade agreements with other countries has facilitated greater cross-border trade and investment, promoting the use of the rupee in international transactions.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (8th to 14th March 2024) Part - 2
Try yourself:
What is the main objective of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Bank Indonesia (BI)?
View Solution


Revamped Pharmaceuticals Technology Upgradation Assistance Scheme and UCPMP 2024

Context: The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, has introduced the Revamped Pharmaceuticals Technology Upgradation Assistance Scheme (RPTUAS), aimed at enhancing the technological capabilities of the pharmaceutical industry to meet global standards.

Key Highlights of RPTUAS:

Objective:

  • The RPTUAS aims to bolster the pharmaceutical sector's growth while ensuring adherence to international manufacturing standards.

Key Features:

Expanded Eligibility:

  • The scheme extends eligibility beyond Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to encompass any pharmaceutical manufacturing unit with a turnover of less than Rs 500 crores.
  • Preference is still given to MSMEs to support smaller entities in achieving high-quality manufacturing standards.

Flexible Financing:

  • Introduces subsidies on a reimbursement basis, offering more flexibility compared to the conventional credit-linked approach.

Comprehensive Compliance Support:

  • Provides assistance for various technological upgrades aligned with revised Schedule-M and World Health Organization (WHO) Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) standards, covering HVAC systems, testing laboratories, clean room facilities, and more.

Dynamic Incentive Structure:

  • Offers incentives based on turnover, ranging from 20%, 15%, to 10% of investment under eligible activities for turnovers less than Rs. 50.00 crore, Rs. 50.00 to less than Rs. 250.00 crore, and Rs. 250.00 to less than Rs. 500.00 crore, respectively.

Integration with State Government Schemes:

  • Allows integration with state government initiatives to provide additional top-up assistance.

Enhanced Verification:

  • Implements a robust verification mechanism through a Project Management Agency to ensure transparency and accountability throughout the process.

What are the Revised Schedule M and WHO-GMP Standards?

  • The Union Health Ministry's notification in January 2024 introduced revisions to Schedule M of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, focusing on robust quality control measures for pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical products.
  • Schedule M prescribes Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for pharmaceutical products.
  • GMP was first incorporated in Schedule M of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 in the year 1988 and the last amendment was done in June 2005.
  • With the amendment, the words ‘Good Manufacturing Practices’ (GMP) have been replaced with ‘Good Manufacturing Practices and Requirements of Premises, Plant and Equipment for Pharmaceutical Products’.
  • The revised Schedule M emphasizes adherence to GMP and incorporates requirements for premises, plant, and equipment. This ensures alignment with the World Health Organization (WHO) GMP Standards.
  • GMP is the mandatory standard that builds and brings quality into a product by way of control on materials, methods, machines, processes, personnel, facility/environment, etc.
  • The updated Schedule M introduces a pharmaceutical quality system (PQS), quality risk management (QRM), product quality review (PQR), qualification and validation of equipment, and a computerised storage system for all drug products.

What are the Key Provisions of UCPMP 2024?

Restrictions on Inducements:

  • Medical representatives are prohibited from using inducements to gain access to healthcare professionals.

Prohibition of Payments and Gifts:

  • Companies are barred from offering cash, monetary grants, or pecuniary benefits to healthcare professionals or their family members.
  • Pharmaceutical companies are forbidden from giving gifts or any pecuniary advantages to individuals qualified to prescribe or supply drugs.

Evidence-Based Claims:

  • Claims about a drug's usefulness must be supported by up-to-date evidence, and terms like "safe" and "new" must be used appropriately.

Transparent CME Programs Only:

  • Pharmaceutical companies can only engage with healthcare professionals (HCPs) for Continuing Medical Education (CME) through well-defined, transparent, and verifiable guidelines.

Strict Compliance:

  • The UCPMP will be circulated for strict compliance by all pharmaceutical companies and associations.
  • All associations must constitute an Ethics Committee for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices.

Initiatives to Promote Sustainable Agriculture

Context: The Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers and Union Minister for Rural Development have jointly inaugurated four significant initiatives in New Delhi, aimed at revolutionizing the agricultural sector and promoting sustainable farming practices.

Inaugurated Initiatives for Soil Health Management

Revamped Soil Health Card Portal and Mobile Application:

  • The Soil Health Card portal has been revamped, accompanied by a mobile application, facilitating soil sample collection, testing, and real-time data monitoring.
  • Features include a centralised dashboard, GIS analytics, fertilizer management tools, and nutrient heat maps.

School Soil Health Programme:

  • A pilot project established 20 soil laboratories in rural schools, where students collect soil samples, test them, and create Soil Health Cards.
  • Now scaled up to 1000 schools, this initiative fosters practical learning, environmental responsibility, and sustainable agriculture practices among students.

Krishi Sakhi Convergence Programme (KSCP):

  • Aiming to empower Krishi Sakhis as para-extension workers, this programme trains farmers as agricultural facilitators, promoting natural farming and soil health management.
  • Close to 3500 Krishi Sakhis have been trained, contributing to sustainable agriculture and rural development in 13 states.

CFQCTI Portal:

  • The Central Fertilizer Quality Control and Training Institutes' portal enhances fertilizer quality control through sample collection, testing, and analysis, ensuring compliance with quality standards.

What Impact Do These Initiatives Envisage?

Promotion of Sustainable Agricultural Practices:

  • These initiatives aim to promote sustainable agricultural practices, such as organic farming, to ensure long-term environmental and economic benefits.

Enhancement of Farmer Livelihoods:

  • By addressing concerns related to soil health, fertilizer quality, and agricultural sustainability, these initiatives seek to enhance farmer livelihoods and improve their economic well-being.

Credibility of Organic Farming:

  • Efforts to enhance the credibility of organic farming through initiatives like the Soil Health Card Portal and Krishi Sakhi Convergence Programme are expected to boost confidence in organic products and encourage their adoption.

Quality and Efficacy of Fertilizers:

  • Initiatives to address concerns related to the quality and efficacy of fertilizers, as seen in the CFQCTI Portal, aim to safeguard the interests of farmers by ensuring the use of reliable inputs.

What are the Concerns Regarding Soil Health in India?

  • Soil and water are fundamental resources for sustenance, with over 95% of food originating from them.
  • The symbiotic connection between soil and water is crucial for agricultural systems and for achieving the United Nations Agenda 2030.
  • Current climatic changes and human activities are exerting excessive pressure on soil and water resources.
  • In India, around 50% of the country's net sown area is rainfed, contributing to 40% of total food production.
  • Soil health in India faces challenges such as low nutrient levels, with an average soil organic carbon (SOC) of around 0.54%.
  • Land degradation is a significant issue, with about 30% of the total geographical area affected, leading to deficiencies in plant nutrients and impacting nutrition intake among the population.
  • Nutrient depletions and deficiencies, along with inappropriate fertiliser application, result in declining productivity.
  • Sustainable food production requires practices like adequate replenishment of nutrients, tailored fertiliser applications based on soil analyses, and increasing organic content in soil.
  • India loses an estimated 3 billion tonnes of soil annually due to water and wind erosion.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (8th to 14th March 2024) Part - 2
Try yourself:
What is the objective of the Revamped Pharmaceuticals Technology Upgradation Assistance Scheme (RPTUAS)?
View Solution


Abortion

Context: French lawmakers have overwhelmingly passed a bill to amend France's constitution, explicitly enshrining abortion rights and making France the only country to guarantee a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy.

Key Points about Abortion:

  • Abortion is the intentional termination of pregnancy, usually within the first 28 weeks of gestation, performed through medical procedures or medications.
  • It's a highly debated topic, involving ethical, moral, religious, and legal considerations.
  • Proponents argue it's a fundamental reproductive right, essential for women's health and autonomy.
  • Opponents, often "pro-life," view it as morally wrong, equating it with taking a human life.

Legal Provisions in India:

  • Abortion was prohibited until the 1960s, but the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971 legalized it, ensuring safe procedures and reducing maternal mortality.
  • The act allows abortion up to 20 weeks with consent from a registered medical practitioner (RMP) and updated in 2002 and 2021.
  • The MTP Amendment Act, 2021 extends abortion up to 24 weeks for specific cases, like rape survivors, and permits unmarried women to seek abortion services.
  • Consent requirements vary based on age and mental state, ensuring oversight.
  • The Constitution guarantees the right to reproductive choice and autonomy under Article 21.

What are the Concerns Surrounding Abortion?

Unsafe Abortion Cases:

  • Unsafe abortions rank as the third leading cause of maternal mortality in India, with approximately 8 women succumbing to complications from unsafe abortions daily, as per the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) State of the World Population Report 2022.
  • Women from impoverished backgrounds or outside marriages often resort to unsafe or illegal abortion methods due to limited options.

Gender Bias:

  • Selective abortion of female foetuses remains prevalent in regions where male offspring are highly valued, particularly in parts of East and South Asia, including countries like China, India, and Pakistan.

Medical Expertise Shortage in Rural Areas:

  • A 2018 Lancet study revealed that around 15.6 million abortions were performed annually in India as of 2015.
  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act mandates abortions to be conducted only by doctors with gynaecological or obstetrical specialization.
  • However, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare's 2019-20 Rural Health Statistics report indicates a significant 70% deficit of obstetrician-gynaecologists in rural India.

The Path Forward:

  • Efforts should focus on ensuring women's access to safe and legal abortion services, devoid of unwarranted obstacles or societal stigma.
  • This may entail expanding abortion service availability across urban and rural regions, training healthcare professionals to deliver comprehensive reproductive healthcare, and promoting awareness about women's rights under the MTP Act.
  • Healthcare providers play a crucial role in facilitating women's access to safe abortion services.
  • Policies should support healthcare practitioners in delivering high-quality, non-judgmental care to women seeking abortion services, while also addressing any ethical or legal concerns they may have.

Centre Notifies Rules for CAA Implementation

Context: Recently, the Indian government has officially notified the rules for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019, marking a significant step towards its implementation more than four years after its passage by Parliament in December 2019.

  • The CAA, 2019, is an Indian legislation designed to offer a pathway to Indian citizenship for migrants belonging to six religious minorities: Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.

What are the Regulations Introduced by the Government Regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act?

  • Historical Context: Previously, the government has taken various measures to address the plight of refugees, including amendments to the Citizenship Rules in 2004 and notifications in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018.
  • CAA Rules 2024: The process for citizenship application under the CAA is now regulated under Section 6B of the Citizenship Act, 1955. Applicants are required to substantiate their country of origin, religion, date of entry into India, and proficiency in an Indian language to qualify for Indian citizenship.
  • Proof of Country of Origin: The relaxed requirements allow for the submission of various documents, including birth or educational certificates, identity documents, licenses, land records, or any document demonstrating previous citizenship of the specified countries.
  • Date of Entry into India: Applicants have the option to furnish 20 different documents as evidence of their entry into India, including visas, residential permits, census slips, driving licenses, Aadhaar cards, ration cards, government or court letters, birth certificates, and more.

Implementation Mechanism of the Rules:

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has entrusted the responsibility of processing citizenship applications under the CAA to the Postal department and Census officials under the Union government.
  • Background checks and security assessments will be conducted by Central security agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
  • Final decisions on applications will be made by empowered committees led by the Director (Census Operations) in each State.
  • These committees will comprise officials from various departments, including the Intelligence Bureau, Post Master General, State or National Informatics Centre, and representatives from the State government's Department of Home and Divisional Railway Manager.
  • At the district level, committees, headed by the Superintendent of the Department of Post, will oversee the processing of applications, with a representative from the District Collector's office as an invitee.
  • Processing of Applications: The Empowered Committee and District Level Committee (DLC), established by the Centre, will manage citizenship applications, bypassing state authority.

The DLC will receive applications, and the final decision will be made by the Empowered Committee, led by the Director (Census Operations).

What are the Concerns Associated with the CAA, 2019?

  • Constitutional Challenge: Critics contend that the CAA violates Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which ensures equality before the law and prohibits discrimination based on religion.
  • Granting citizenship based on religion is seen as discriminatory under the CAA.
  • Potential for Disenfranchisement: There are concerns that the CAA, combined with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), could lead to the disenfranchisement of citizens unable to provide proper documentation.
  • The fear stems from the exclusion of over 19.06 lakh people from the final draft of the Assam NRC in August 2019.
  • Impact on Assam Accord: In Assam, there are specific worries about the compatibility of the CAA with the Assam Accord of 1985.
  • The Accord established citizenship criteria for Assam, including specific residency cut-off dates.
  • The CAA's differing citizenship timeline might conflict with the Assam Accord, leading to legal and political complexities.
  • Secularism and Social Cohesion: The CAA's religious-based citizenship criterion raises broader concerns about its impact on secularism and social unity in India.
  • Critics argue that favoring certain religious groups undermines India's secular foundation and could exacerbate communal tensions.
  • Exclusion of Certain Religious Communities: The exclusion of specific religious groups from the CAA, such as Sri Lankan Tamils and Tibetan Buddhists facing religious persecution, raises concerns.

Ways Forward

  • Inclusive Refugee Policy: India needs a more inclusive refugee policy aligned with the UN Refugee Convention, avoiding discrimination based on religion or ethnicity.
    • Citizenship laws should prioritize equality and non-discrimination, offering equal opportunities regardless of background.
  • Documentation Assistance: Implement measures to help individuals, especially marginalized groups, obtain necessary citizenship documentation.
    • Provide support services to navigate citizenship verification, reducing the risk of statelessness.
  • Stakeholder Engagement and Dialogue: Foster meaningful dialogue with civil society groups, religious leaders, and dissenting communities to address CAA-related grievances.
  • International Engagement: Engage with neighboring countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh to address religious persecution and human rights abuses.
    • Promote regional cooperation and diplomatic initiatives to uphold religious freedom and tolerance.
  • Educational and Awareness Campaigns: Conduct campaigns to educate the public on citizenship laws, dispel misinformation, and promote understanding of constitutional principles like equality and secularism.

The document Weekly Current Affairs (8th to 14th March 2024) Part - 2 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly.
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FAQs on Weekly Current Affairs (8th to 14th March 2024) Part - 2 - Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

1. How does the revamped Pharmaceuticals Technology Upgradation Assistance Scheme aim to benefit the pharmaceutical industry in India?
Ans. The revamped Pharmaceuticals Technology Upgradation Assistance Scheme aims to provide financial assistance to pharmaceutical companies for the upgradation of their technology and infrastructure, thereby improving their manufacturing capabilities and competitiveness in the global market.
2. What are the key objectives of UCPMP 2024 in India?
Ans. The key objectives of UCPMP 2024 in India are to promote ethical marketing practices in the pharmaceutical industry, ensure transparency in interactions between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals, and protect the interests of patients by preventing unethical promotional practices.
3. How are the initiatives to promote sustainable agriculture expected to benefit farmers in India?
Ans. The initiatives to promote sustainable agriculture in India aim to enhance the productivity and profitability of farmers while minimizing the negative impact on the environment. By adopting sustainable farming practices, farmers can improve soil health, conserve water resources, and reduce their dependence on chemical inputs.
4. What are the key provisions of the Centre's rules for the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in India?
Ans. The Centre's rules for the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in India include guidelines for the identification and verification of eligible beneficiaries, the process for granting citizenship, and the documentation required to prove eligibility under the Act.
5. How is the local currency trade between India and Indonesia expected to strengthen economic ties between the two countries?
Ans. The local currency trade between India and Indonesia is expected to reduce dependency on foreign currencies, minimize transaction costs, and promote bilateral trade by facilitating direct exchanges in local currencies. This initiative aims to enhance economic cooperation and boost trade relations between India and Indonesia.
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