The HINDU Notes – 18th April

📰 THE HINDU – CURRENT NOTE 18 April


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🌐 Plea against pre-censorship of films

Petition: Filed by cine veteran Amol Palekar that pre-censorship of films is a violation of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression of both film-makers and the public

Supreme Court

  • SC asked the Centre and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to respond on the petition
  • Also asked govt to act on a recommendation of Shyam Benegal Panel that the Censor Board’s role should be confined to film certification alone
  • Criticism of the present framework (petitioner): It is challenging the provisions of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 and the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983 which in turn imposes pre-censorship on the freedom of speech and expression of the artistes as well as the audience
  • Aggrieved by the provisions granting the power of ordering cuts, deletions, alterations in a film along with the abuse of power while exercising the powers given by the said Act and Rules while certifying and/or denying certification to any applicant film

Times changed

  • The social fabric and means of communication have undergone a sea change since the Supreme Court passed an order in 1970, apparently validating censorship in films on the ground that cinema was the most influential media of mass communication.

View of the Bombay High Court on censorship of cinema. June15,2016

Internet era

  • Rules have to change for the present day when Internet and social media dominate
  • When content on television and Internet is free of censorship, the same content being altered, cut or deleted before being shown in a cinema hall is an attack on our right to equality
  • Today modern technology makes dissemination of information available in real time through a variety of media, many of which are either not regulated or if regulated, not subjected to pre-censorship

CBFC

  • Absence of a member with a legal background in the CBFC often leads the board to repeatedly violate film-makers’ fundamental right to speech and expression

🌐 Telangana Cabinet clears bill to increase quotas for STs, Muslims

  • A bill which seeks to increase the reservations for Scheduled Tribes and backward sections among the Muslim community in government jobs and educational institutions- Both the houses of Telangana Legislature have cleared it.
  • The Telangana Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and of Appointments or Posts in the Services under the State) Bill, 2017 was cleared amid opposition from many MLAs.

Key facts

  • Under the bill, quota for STs will be increased to 10% from the existing 6%, while that for BC-E category (the backward sections among the Muslim community) will go up to 12% from the existing 4%.
  • The total reservations in the state, consequently, will go up to 62% from the existing 50%.

What necessitated this move?

  • The state defends its move by saying that “after the bifurcation of the combined Andhra Pradesh state, the percentage of Muslims in Telangana has gone up and 90% of them are poor and socially backward.”

Background

  • The Sudhir Commission which was set up to take stock of the socio-economic and educational status of Muslims observed in its report that in Telangana, following the general trend across India, the proportion of Muslim employees had fallen. The commission’s report observed that Muslim employees were just 7.36 per cent of the total workforce in the state.

Way ahead:

  • The reservation exceeds the Supreme Court’s 50% ceiling for such benefits. Now, the Centre has to include the bill in the 9th schedule of Constitution to grant it immunity from a judicial review.

🌐 SC orders commencement of Aamby Valley auction

  • The Supreme Court on 18 April 2017 ordered the sale by auction of Sahara group’s prized Lonavala asset in Maharashtra, the Aamby Valley property.

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  • It ordered the Official Liquidator of the Bombay High Court to make the valuation of the property in the next 10 days and send a report to the Supreme Court.
  • The court passed the order after noting that Sahara reneged on its undertaking to deposit over Rs. 5,000 crore in the Sahara-SEBI refund account as payment towards its liability to investors.

  • Subrata Roy, Sahara’s chief, is out on parole.
  • It expressed the hope that “all shall work in harmony to comply with the directions passed by this court keeping in view themandate of Article 144 (civil and judicial authorities to act in aid of the Supreme Court) of the Constitution.”
  • In February, the court attached Aamby Valley property, worth about Rs. 39,000 crore.
  • During a previous hearing, Justice Gogoi asked Sahara’s counsel and senior advocate Kapil Sibal as to why the court should even bother to ask Sahara for a list of other properties for public auction when it already had Aamby Valley.

🌐 Protect IP to find new cures

Progress in pharma industry

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  • The research-based pharmaceutical industry continues to lead the development of innovative treatments and cures
  • Globally, this industry invested $58.8 billion in R&D in 2015
  • Through such significant investments, researchers and scientists have gained a better understanding of diseases and a greater ability to harness new scientific advances
  • This has led to tremendous progress in the development of new treatments for some of the most debilitating diseases
  • More than 7,000 medicines are in development around the world
  • The value of a medicine is directly related to value it brings to patients
  • Globally, patients are living longer, healthier and more productive lives

Cancer

Image result for Cancer treatment vaccines

  • New therapies have contributed to significant declines in cancer mortality rates since its peak in 1991
  • Global Health Estimates 2015 for South Asia (compiled by World Bank for the WHO): Of the almost 12.4 million who died from all causes, more than 7.5 million people died from non-communicable diseases, compared with just over 3.5 million from communicable diseases. Cancer accounted for more than a million
  • A 2008 study revealed that approximately 83% of survival gains in cancer are attributable to new treatments
  • Hepatitis C virus: It is now curable in more than 90% of patients with only 8-12 weeks of treatment. In the ’80s, the cure rate was about 5%
  • In the 1990s, patients were treated with Interferon to destroy the hepatitis C virus-containing liver cells; combining it with Ribavirin raised the cure rates to more than 50%
  • The investment in R&D for treatments in Hepatitis B and C continue to strengthen the WHO vision to eliminate these diseases by 2030.

World Economic Forum

  • Unless current trends reverse, common ‘lifestyle’ diseases — cancer, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and mental ailments — will cost $47 trillion in treatment and lost wages
  • However, innovation in science has led to a decline in death rates for non-communicable diseases by almost 20% in the EU5, Australia, Canada and Japan from 2000 to 2012
  • India’s National Health Policy aims to reduce premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases by 25% by 2025
  • Innovations coming up: Innovative bio-pharmaceutical firms are currently developing 190 medicines to treat heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases
  • A study by the Alzheimer’s Association in the U.S. showed $376 billion in costs can be avoided by 2050 from the development of a new medicine that delays the onset of the disease by just five years
  • Need for IP protection: From drug discovery to regulatory approval, developing a new medicine takes 10-15 years and costs $2.6 billion
  • Intellectual Property is the bedrock on which new drug development is built
  • It is critical to improve patient care and spur economic growth
  • Without strong IP protection, researchers may not have the motivation to innovate, leading to the treatments of tomorrow

Way forward

  • As we approach World IP Day on April 26, it is imperative for India to build an ecosystem conducive to innovation and creativity not only in terms of IP awareness and creation but also, more importantly, to recognise the importance of intellectual property in pharmaceutical development which has the ability to change the lives of millions of patients

🌐 Channakeshava temple in Belur turns 900

  • The historic Channakeshava temple in Belur, Karnataka – a masterpiece of Hoysala architecture – has turned 900 this year.
  • The temple was constructed by Vishnuvardhana of Hoysala dynasty and is a monument recognised by the ASI.
  • Considered to be the first temple of Hoysala style, it was built between 1106 and 1117.
  • A nine-day event, construction of a memorial and setting up of a school for sculpture are in the offing to mark the 900th anniversary.

🌐 Not a front for Maoists, says Niyamgiri samiti

  • The Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS), the organisation that has been opposing bauxite mining in Odisha’s Niyamgiri hills since 2003, on 18 April 2017 strongly denied that it was working as a front organisation for the Maoists.
  • “The samiti has been fighting to protect the interests of the tribal people living in Niyamgiri hills much before the Maoists started their activities in the region. We strongly condemn the Home Ministry’s report,” NSS adviser Lingaraj Azad said.
  • The Home Ministry report said the NSS actively campaigned against mining activity by the Odisha Mining Corporation atop the Niyamgiri hills, which would have given the Vedanta Group access to natural resources.
  • In 2013, as many as 12 gram sabhas of Dongria Kondh and Kutia Kondh tribals in Niyamgiri hills spread across Rayagada and Kalahandi districts had voted against any mining activity in the area.
  • Niyamgiri is very important ecological spot of Eastern Ghat.

🌐 U.S. NSA arrives for first high-level Trump outreach

  • U.S. National Security Adviser Lt. General (retired) H.R. McMaster arrived in Delhi, the first such visit by a senior official of the Trump administration for talks that are expected to set the course of bilateral relations.

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  • It comes close on the heels of the Russian conference on Afghanistan in Moscow on April 14 and 15, which India attended and where Russia offered to mediate between the Taliban and the Ashraf Ghani government; and the detonation of the U.S.’s largest non-nuclear weapon, the MOAB, over Afghanistan.
  • Mr. McMaster, who travelled to Delhi from Kabul and Islamabad as a part of “regional consultations,” according to an official release, will discuss the future of security operations in Afghanistan, India’s role in Afghanistan as well as the India-Pakistan impasse, and will meet his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Mr. Modi.
  • Of particular note will be discussions on India’s concerns with crossborder terrorism from Pakistan, and tensions that have increased recently over the sentencing to death of Kulbhushan Jadhav in Pakistan, accused of spying for India.
  • In Kabul, Mr. McMaster said he would impress on Pakistan that it was important to give up support to the Haqqani group and the Taliban.

🌐 SC refers anti-defection law issue to larger Bench

  • Will the anti-defection law apply to MPs and MLAs expelled from their parties? Twenty-one years ago, the Supreme Court concluded in G. Viswanathan versus Hon’ble Speaker, Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly that a legislator expelled from his party shall be deemed to have “voluntarily given up” his membership of that party which got him elected or nominated him to the House.
  • This legal fiction of deeming him to continue in the party post-election as an “unattached member” makes him therefore vulnerable to disqualification under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution.
  • Under the Viswanathan judgment, the expelled legislator would still be susceptible to the “whims and fancies” of the leaders of the party which threw him out despite the fact that subsequently, after his expulsion, he had gone ahead and formed his own political party.
  • In August 2016, the Supreme Court refrained from adjudicating the constitutional question in expelled Samajwadi Party leaders Amar Singh and Jaya Pradha’s case.
  • The court had then found the issue “infructuous” as both leaders had by that time completed their tenure in Parliament.
  • But Mr. Singh, whose political career has come full circle with his re-induction into the Samajwadi Party and has a tenure in Parliament till July 2022, returned to the Supreme Court.
  • He asked the court to take a second look at the question of status of an expelled legislator with regards to the Tenth Schedule and lay down the law.
  • Mr. Singh, represented by counsel C.U. Singh, contended that the application of Tenth Schedule to an expelled legislator is in violation of the Basic Structure of the Constitution.
  • Picking up from where it dropped the case last year in August, a Supreme Court Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and A.M. Khanwilkar on 18 April 2017 agreed to refer Mr. Singh’s petition to a an “appropriate larger Bench”.
  • Justice Misra’s Bench observed in a seven-page order that the fate of expelled legislators and the Sword of Damocles that hangs over them “remains to be dealt with as the same has not been answered with the efflux of time … the question remains alive today.”
  • At the centre of the controversy is the Supreme Court’s interpretation of paragraph 2(1) of the Tenth Schedule in the Viswanathan judgment of 1996.
  • The court held that even if a member was thrown out or expelled from the party, he would not cease to be a member of the political party that had set him up as a candidate for the election.


🌐 Narrow win for ‘Yes’ camp in Turkish referendum

Turkey’s constitution referendum

  • Turkey’s Opposition 18 April 2017 called for the annulment of a referendum giving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers, as international monitors voiced concern over the campaign and vote count.
  • The ‘Yes’ camp won 51.41% in 17 April 2017 referendum and ‘No’ 48.59, according to near-complete results released by the election authorities.
  • The referendum was seen as crucial not just for shaping the political system of Turkey but also the future strategic direction of a nation that has been a NATO member since 1952 and an EU hopeful for half a century.
  • The new system is due to come into effect after elections in November 2019.
  • Mr. Erdogan on 18 April 2017 said Turkey could hold a referendum on its long-stalled EU membership bid.
  • Mr. Erdogan repeated in his speech that he would approve the death penalty if a bill was submitted to him, adding there could be a referendum on capital punishment as well if necessary.


🌐 Wholesale inflation decelerates to 5.7%

  • A decline in the prices of fuel and manufactured products helped inflation, as measured by the wholesale price index (WPI), to moderate to 5.7% (provisional) for March 2017 despite hardening of food prices, data released by the government on 18 April 2017 showed.
  • The WPI inflation had touched a 39-month high of 6.55% (provisional) in February while it was -0.45% in March 2016.

Inflation

  • Inflation is a general and sustained increase in overall price level of goods and services.
  • Whole-sale price index (WPI) and Consumer price index (CPI) are the two primary measures of inflation.

Whole-sale price index (WPI):

  • WPI index reflects average price changes of goods that are bought and sold in the wholesale market.
  • WPI in India is published by the Office of Economic Adviser, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • Further, the data for WPI is monitored and updated on a weekly basis taking into account all the 676 items that form the index.
  • Base year to calculate WPI is 2004-2005=100.

Consumer price index (CPI):

  • CPI index measure changes over time in general level of prices of goods and services that households acquire for the purpose of consumption.
  • Presently the consumer price indices compiled in India are :

1.   CPI for Industrial workers CPI(IW)

2.   CPI for Agricultural Labourers CPI(AL)

3.   CPI for Rural Labourers CPI(RL)

4.   CPI (Urban)

5.   CPI (Rural)

6.   CPI (Combined)

  • Consumer Price Index for Urban Non Manual Employees CPI (UNME), which was earlier computed by Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), has now been discontinued and is replaced as CPI (urban), CPI (rural) and CPI (combined) also published by CSO.
  • The others CPI indices are published by the Department of Labour.
  • Base year to calculate CPI is 2012=100.
  • Further, the data for CPI is monitored and updated on a monthly basis.
  • Based on the recommendations of Urjit R. Patel Committee report implemented by RBI,CPI (combined) shall be the key measure of inflation.

🌐 Cyber response unit to be set up, says Reserve Bank

  • The Sub-Committee of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC), which met on 18 April 2017, discussed the setting up of a Computer Emergency Response Team for the Financial Sector (CERT-Fin), the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said.
  • “Issues such as setting up of Computer Emergency Response Team for the Financial Sector (CERT-Fin), roadmap for National Centre for Financial Education (NCFE) and macro-prudential framework in India were also discussed,” the RBI said.
  • Apart from the RBI governor and deputy governors, Ajay Tyagi, Chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), T. S. Vijayan, Chairman, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), Hemant Contractor, Chairman, Pension Funds Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), and finance ministry representatives were present in the meeting.
  • The move to set up an emergency response team comes in the backdrop of growing cyberattacks in the financial system.
  • RBI had already created a specialised cell (C-SITE) within its supervision department to conduct detailed IT examination of banks’ cybersecurity preparedness, to identify the gaps and to monitor the progress of remedial measures.
  • More than 30 major banks were to be covered by the detailed IT examination in 2016-17 and all banks are to be covered by 2017-18.

Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)

  • It is an apex-level body constituted by the government of India in 2010.
  • The idea to create such a super regulatory body was first mooted by the Raghuram Rajan Committee in 2008.
  • It is an autonomous body dealing with macro prudential and financial regularities in the entire financial sector of India.
  • An apex-level FSDC is not a statutory body.
  • The new body envisages to strengthen and institutionalize the mechanism of maintaining financial stability, financial sector development, inter-regulatory coordination along with monitoring macro-prudential regulation of economy.
  • Its Chairperson is the Union Finance Minister of India
  • Members:

1.     Governor Reserve Bank of India (RBl),

2.     Finance Secretary and/ or Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA),

3.     Secretary, Department of Financial Services (DFS),

4.     Chief Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance,

5.     Chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI),

6.     Chairman, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA),

7.     Chairman, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA)


🌐 Ultralight device can be charged with movement

  • Scientists have developed a light-weight, paper-based device that can harvest energy from body movements to power sensors and watches.
  • Despite the many advances in portable electronic devices, one thing remains constant – the need to plug them into a wall socket to recharge.
  • Portable electronic devices, such as watches, hearing aids and heart monitors, often require only a little energy.
  • Researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology in the U.S. and Chongqing University in China wanted to see if they could delink small energy needs from the wall socket by harvesting energy from a user’s body movements.
  • Earlier, scientists created triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) that can harness the mechanical energy all around us, such as that created by our footsteps, and then use it to power portable electronics.
  • However, most TENG devices take several hours to charge small electronics, such as a sensor, and they are made of acrylic, which is heavy.
  • Researchers then turned to an ultralight, rhombic paper- cut design a few inches long and covered it with different materials to turn it into a power unit.
  • The four outer sides, made of gold- and graphite coated sand paper, comprise the device’s energy storing supercapacitor element.
  • The inner surfaces, made of paper and coated in gold and a fluorinated ethylene propylene film, comprised the TENG energy harvester.
  • Pressing and releasing it over just a few minutes charged the device to 1 volt, which was enough to power a remote control, temperature sensor or a watch, researchers said.

🌐 ‘Indian firm’s Zika virus vaccine 100% efficient in animal trials’

  • The Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech’s ‘killed Zika virus vaccine’ using an African strain has shown 100% efficacy against mortality and disease in animal studies, a study has shown.

  • A ‘killed virus vaccine’ or ‘inactivated vaccine’ contains virus that has been grown in culture and then killed using physical or chemical processes.
  • The vaccine was found to confer 100% protection against infection caused by an Asian Zika virus strain as well as by the African Zika virus strain.
  • All the animals that were not vaccinated died eight days after infection by the African strain and 12 days after infection by the Asian strain.
  • Animals that received the vaccine developed Zika neutralising antibodies on day 14 after the first dose and a week after the second dose.
  • Vaccination protected the animals against Zika virus and disease up to 14 and 20 days after being challenged with the virus.

🌐 A cry for help that still remains unanswered

  • Depressive, anxiety and substance use disorders are the most common sources of psychiatric disability and burden in India.
  • However, most people suffering from these disorders fail to receive appropriate treatment and care.
  • This was revealed during a multi-site survey by the Department of Psychiatry at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
  • The study is part of the WHO World Mental Health Surveys, conducted using internationally-validated survey tools.
  • The paper was titled “Twelve-Month Prevalence And Treatment Gap For Common Mental Disorders”.
  • Conducted by Rajesh Sagar of AIIMS, the survey covered 11 districts across the country.
  • Common mental disorders existed among 5.52% of the sample size, according to the study.
  • Women had a relatively higher prevalence of anxiety and mood disorders.
  • However, the most important finding was the huge treatment gap of 95% – only 5 of 100 individuals with common mental disorders received any treatment over the past year.
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