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16th March Current Affairs

What are Sattras?

In News:

It is common to see politicians often going to different Sattras to seek blessings or extolling the virtues of Sankardeva, especially in the run-up to elections.

What are Sattras?

Sattras are monastic institutions created as part of the 16th century Neo-Vaishnavite reformist movement started by Vaishnavite saint-reformer Srimanta Sankaradeva (1449-1596).

These Sattras/Thans were established as centres of religious, social and cultural reforms in the 16th century across Assam.

Sattras promulgate Sankardeva’s unique “worship through art” approach with music (borgeet), dance (xattriya) and theatre (bhauna).

Each Sattra has a naamghar (worship hall) as its nucleus and is headed by an influential “Sattradhikar”. Monks, known as bhakats, are inducted into Sattras at a young age. They may or may not be celibate, depending on the kind of Sattra they are inducted into.

What is Sankardeva’s philosophy?

Sankardeva propagated a form of Bhakti called eka-sharana-naam-dhrama, and espoused a society based on equality and fraternity, free from caste differences, orthodox Brahmanical rituals and sacrifices.

His teaching focused on prayer and chanting (naam) instead of idol worship. His dharma was based on the four components of deva (god), naam (prayers), bhakats (devotees), and guru (teacher).

Rare diseases

In News:

The Delhi High Court has set up a special committee to find a time-bound solution on ways to provide treatment and therapy options to patients suffering from rare diseases.

Details:

The committee has been asked to give “immediate concrete proposals for crowdfunding of the costs of treatment for children with rare diseases”.

What’s the issue?

The High Court’s direction came while hearing a bunch of petitions filed by patients suffering from rare diseases such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and Hunter’s syndromes seeking direction to the government to provide them uninterrupted free treatment in view of the exorbitant cost of treatment.

DMD is a condition that causes progressive muscle degeneration and weakness in the victim.

Hunter’s syndromes is a rare disease that is passed on in families. It mostly affects boys and their bodies cannot break down a kind of sugar that builds bones, skin, tendons, and other tissues.

What is a rare disease?

A rare disease, also referred to as an orphan disease, is any disease that affects a small percentage of the population.

Most rare diseases are genetic, and are present throughout a person’s entire life, even if symptoms do not immediately appear.

The most common rare diseases recorded in India are:

Haemophilia, Thalassemia, sickle-cell anaemia and primary immuno deficiency in children, auto-immune diseases, Lysosomal storage disorders such as Pompe disease, Hirschsprung disease, Gaucher’s disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Hemangiomas and certain forms of muscular dystrophies.

Concerns and challenges:

They pose a significant challenge to health care systems because of the difficulty in collecting epidemiological data, which in turn impedes the process of arriving at a disease burden, calculating cost estimations and making correct and timely diagnoses, among other problems.

Many cases of rare diseases may be serious, chronic and life-threatening. In some cases, the affected individuals, mostly children, may also suffer from some form of a handicap.

As per the 2017 report, over 50 per cent of new cases are reported in children and these diseases are responsible for 35 per cent of deaths in those below the age of one, 10 per cent of deaths between the ages of one and five, and 12 per cent between five and 15.

Efforts by India towards this:

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has published a national policy for the treatment of 450 ‘rare diseases’.

The policy intends to kickstart a registry of rare diseases, which will be maintained by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Under the policy, there are three categories of rare diseases — requiring one-time curative treatment, diseases that require long-term treatment but where the cost is low, and those needing long-term treatments with high cost. Some of the diseases in the first category include osteopetrosis and immune deficiency disorders, among others.

Financial assistance: As per the policy, the assistance of Rs 15 lakh will be provided to patients suffering from rare diseases that require a one-time curative treatment under the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi scheme. The treatment will be limited to the beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.

Justification for state’s intervention:

State has responsibility for providing affordable, accessible and reliable health-care services to every citizen.

Constitution also mentions importance of health-care services under articles like 21, 38 and 47 and thus state cannot evade this responsibility under the pretext of non-justifiability of articles.

Even if pharmaceutical companies are incentivized to develop drugs to treat rare diseases, pharmaceutical companies remain beholden to the laws of economics and, given the low demand for orphan drugs, price these drugs as high as they choose to. Hence there has to be regulation of the government in restricting the exorbitant prices of the drugs.

China warns U.S. over its Taiwan stand

In News:

China recently warned the Biden administration to roll back former President Donald Trump’s “dangerous practice” of showing support for Taiwan.

China has also warned Taiwan that any attempt to seek independence “means war”.

What’s the issue?

China sees democratic Taiwan as a breakaway province, but Taiwan sees itself as a sovereign state, with its own constitution, military, and elected leaders.

China- Taiwan relations- Background:

China has claimed Taiwan through its “one China” policy since the Chinese civil war forced the defeated Kuomintang, or Nationalist, to flee to the island in 1949 and has vowed to bring it under Beijing’s rule, by force if necessary.

China is Taiwan’s top trading partner, with trade totaling $226 billion in 2018. Taiwan runs a large trade surplus with China.

While Taiwan is self-governed and de facto independent, it has never formally declared independence from the mainland.

Under the “one country, two systems” formula, Taiwan would have the right to run its own affairs; a similar arrangement is used in Hong Kong.

Taiwan is a member of the World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and Asian Development Bank under various names.

Indo- Taiwan relations:

Although they do not have formal diplomatic ties, Taiwan and India have been cooperating in various fields.

India has refused to endorse the “one-China” policy since 2010.