IASCLUB Daily Current Affairs : 29 August 2019

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Common code of conduct proposed for legislative bodies

Topic : GS Paper II POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

More in news :

  • The Lok Sabha Speaker, Om Birla has said that, a common code of conduct would be framed for legislative bodies to check interruptions.
  • The statement was released after presiding over the meetings of the executive committee of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) India Region and Presiding Officers of Legislative Bodies in India

Details:

  • The speaker said that a committee of presiding officers will be formed, which, after due consultations with Speakers of Legislative Assemblies and the Chairmen of Legislative Councils, will present a report.
  • The Speaker added that the presiding officers were of the unanimous view that Parliament and State Legislatures, the representative institutions, are accountable to the people and matters concerning different regions need to be constructively discussed and debated in the House.
  • It was highlighted that there was a consensus among the presiding officers to increase the number of sittings of the State Legislatures and also to increase the productivity of legislative work.
  • There was also consensus on the need to have extensive and healthy debates in the Legislatures for passing the laws and the House needs to function without any interruptions.
  • He also highlighted that the use of technology needs to be uniform in Lok Sabha and all the State Legislatures and in sync with the concept of ‘Ek Bharat’.

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association:

  • The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), previously known as the Empire Parliamentary Association, is an organisation which works to support good governance, democracy and human rights.
  • India is a member of the CPA.
  • The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) currently has approximately 180 branches and is divided into nine regions – Africa; Asia; Australia; British Islands and Mediterranean; Canada; Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic; India; Pacific, and South-East Asia.
  • The CPA Headquarters Secretariat is based in London. 

Cabinet eases rules for FDI in retail, media

Topic : GS Paper III ECONOMY

More in news :

The Union Cabinet has announced a number of decisions designed to attract increased foreign direct investment into the country.

Details:

  • The government approved foreign investment in digital media up to stakes of 26%.
  • It has allowed 100% foreign investment for coal mining and contract manufacturing under automatic route.
    • It has been decided to permit 100% FDI under automatic route for sale of coal, for coal mining activities including associated processing infrastructure subject to provisions of Coal Mines (special provisions) Act, 2015 and the Mines and Minerals (development and regulation) Act, 1957 as amended from time to time, and other relevant acts on the subject.
  • Sourcing norms for single-brand retailers has also been eased.
  • On FDI in single brand retailing, the Cabinet has expanded the definition of mandatory 30% domestic sourcing norm. It also allowed single brand retailers to start online sales, waiving the previous condition of setting up a mandatory brick-and-mortar store.
    • Single-brand retail trading refers to a business/franchisee/entity that sells goods to individual customers and not to other businesses and all such goods are sold under the same brand.
    • Currently, the FDI policy says that a single-brand retail company with more than 51% FDI needs to source 30% of its goods from within India.
    • The new decision says that this 30% can be calculated over the first five years of operation.
    • Further, all procurements made from India by the SBRT entity for that single brand shall be counted towards local sourcing, irrespective of whether the goods procured are sold in India or exported.
    • It has been decided that ‘sourcing of goods from India for global operations’ can be done directly by the entity undertaking SBRT or its group companies (resident or non-resident), or indirectly by them through a third party under a legally tenable agreement.
    • Online sales will lead to creation of jobs in logistics, digital payments, customer care, training and product skilling.
  • The current FDI policy provides for 100% FDI under the automatic route in the manufacturing sector.
    • There was no specific provision for contract manufacturing in the policy.
    • It has now decided to allow 100% FDI under the automatic route in contract manufacturing in India as well.

China eases drug import restrictions

Topic : GS Paper III ECONOMY

In a humanitarian gesture, China has decided not to impose heavy penalties on the import of unapproved but cheaper generic drugs, which are needed to treat critically ill patients, from countries such as India.

Why is it significant for China?

  • Official figures show a surge in cancer among Chinese, with 4.3 million cases of the disease diagnosed in 2015.
  • In a country where smoking is rampant, chronic lung disease, heart disease diabetes and stroke have been the cause of 80% per cent deaths, according to an earlier World Bank report.
  • Cancer diagnoses in China are soaring, and survival rates are low.
  • For years, Chinese patients and their relatives risked the threat of heavy criminal penalties in their hunt for affordable drugs in a country increasingly suffering from chronic diseases like cancer.
  • In the most desperate of cases, relatives of these patients have resorted to making their own cancer drugs at home using raw pharmaceutical ingredients that they have found online.
  • Even the rich in China contend that red tape and stringent regulatory rules prevent them from getting access to new drugs that are approved in the United States, and many say they are forced to fly overseas for treatment.
  • The decision effectively giving poor and critically ill patients the green light to get cheaper generic pharmaceuticals from other countries.

Details:

  • Prior to the latest decision, drugs not approved by the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) of China were considered “fake.”
  • Companies and individuals caught selling such drugs could face heavy fines or even imprisonment up to three years.
  • The announcement gives hope especially to less-affluent patients who have struggled to get affordable medicines to treat chronic diseases such as cancer.
  • Bulk imports of unapproved medicines would continue to face hurdles as businesses are not allowed to import drugs without approval, according to the law.
  • However, the latest decision allows individuals, especially for patients whose lives are at stake to try unapproved drugs to save lives, by making the legal regulation less stringent.

Issues:

  • Despite being generally welcomed, the new law is short on details.
  • A statement by NMPA of China said that parties importing unapproved generic drugs may be exempted from punishment, if the medicines cause no harm or do not delay treatment.
  • “Lighter penalties” may follow if circumstances for import are “relatively minor” and only “small amount” of medicines are imported.

Star tortoise, otters get higher protection at CITES

Topic : GS Paper III ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

India’s proposal to upgrade the protection of star tortoises, the smooth-coated otter and small-clawed otters in CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species on Wild Fauna and Flora) have been approved.

More in news

  • These species have been listed under Appendix I of CITES and will now enjoy the highest degree of protection.
  • A complete international ban will be enforced on their trade as part of efforts to boost numbers.
  • The upgradation was approved at the Conference of the Parties (COP18) held at Geneva.

CITES:

  • CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention) is a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals. It was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species in the wild, and it accords varying degrees of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants.
  • CITES is one of the largest and oldest conservation and sustainable use agreements in existence. Participation is voluntary, and countries that have agreed to be bound by the Convention are known as Parties. Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties, it does not take the place of national laws. Rather it provides a framework respected by each Party, which must adopt their own domestic legislation to implement CITES at the national level.
  • Appendix I of CITES lists species that are the most endangered among CITES-listed animals and plants.
    • They are threatened with extinction and CITES prohibits international trade in specimens of these species except when the purpose of the import is not commercial, for instance for scientific research.
  • Appendix II, are species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation in order to avoid utilization incompatible with the survival of the species in the wild.
    • In addition, Appendix II can include species similar in appearance to species already listed in the Appendices.
    • International trade in specimens of Appendix II species may be authorized by the granting of an export permit or re-export certificate.
  • Appendix III, are species that are listed after one member country has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling trade in a species.
    • The species are not necessarily threatened with extinction globally.
    • In all member countries, trade in these species is only permitted with an appropriate export permit and a certificate of origin from the state of the member country who has listed the species.

Star tortoise:

  • The Indian star tortoise (Geochelone elegans) is a threatened species of tortoise found in dry areas and scrub forest in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • 90% of trade of star tortoises occurs as part of the international pet market.
  • A decline greater than 30% was predicted by 2025 if the exploitation continued or expanded.
  • The species is categorized as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union of Conservation of Nature.

Smooth Coated Otter:

  • The smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) is an otter species occurring in most of the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, with a disjunct population in Iraq.
  • As its name indicates, the fur of this species is smoother and shorter than that of other otter species.
  • It occurs in areas where fresh water is plentiful — wetlands and seasonal swamps, rivers, lakes, and rice paddies.
  • The species is categorized as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union of Conservation of Nature.
  • Small-clawed Otters (Anoyx cinereus) species is also categorized as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union of Conservation of Nature.

 

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