World Water Day
World Water Day is observed on 22 March every year. It focuses on the importance of freshwater.
The World Water Day has been observed since 1993 and intends to raise awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water.
The theme for 2020 is ‘Water and Climate Change’ which aims to explore interrelation between water and climate change.
A core focus of World Water Day is to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.
In addition to it, the International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development (2018-2028) is being observed.
These observances serve to reaffirm that water and sanitation measures are key to poverty reduction, economic growth, and environmental sustainability.
Every year, March 23 is observed as Martyrs’ Day as a tribute to freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar, and Shivaram Rajguru.
The Day is also known as Shaheed Diwas or Sarvodaya Day.
This Day should not be confused with the Martyrs’ Day observed on January 30, the day Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.
Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar, and Shivaram Rajguru died on March 23 in 1931.
They were hanged to death for assassinating John Saunders, a British police officer in 1928. They had mistook him for British police superintendent James Scott.
It was Scott who had ordered lathi charge, which eventually led to the death of Lala Lajpat Rai.
Their lives inspired countless youth and in their death, they set an example. They carved out their own path for independence where individual heroism and their aggressive need to do something for the nation stood out, departing from the path followed by the Congress leaders then.
India-France Joint Patrolling
For the first time, India and France conducted joint patrols from the Reunion Island.
The patrol was conducted in the month of February by a P-8I aircraft with French Navy personnel onboard.
Currently, under the ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and broader maritime cooperation, the Indian Navy undertakes joint Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) surveillance with Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius and Coordinated Patrols (CORPATs) with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia.
The objectives of the CORPATs are to ensure effective implementation of United Nations Conventions on Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS).
UNCLOS specifies regulations regarding protection and conservation of natural resources, conservation of marine environment, prevention and suppression of illegal, unregulated fishing activity, drug trafficking, piracy, exchange of information in prevention of smuggling, illegal immigration and conduct of search and rescue operations at sea.
The joint patrolling with France shows India’s intent to engage with friendly foreign partners in expanding its footprint in the Indian Ocean, focusing on the stretch between the East African coastline and the Malacca straits.
India has recently become an observer to the Indian Ocean Commission. It consists of Reunion as one of its members.
India has so far carried out CORPATs only with maritime neighbours and had rejected a similar offer by the US in 2016.
Schemes Approved to Promote Drug Manufacturing
Recently, the Union Cabinet has approved two schemes, namely the scheme on Promotion of Bulk Drug Parks and Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme to promote domestic manufacturing of critical Key Starting Materials/Drug Intermediates and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients in the country.
(A) Promotion of Bulk Drug Parks Scheme:
Number of Parks: The government aims to develop 3 mega Bulk Drug parks in India in partnership with States.
Funding: Government of India will give Grants-in-Aid to States with a maximum limit of Rs. 1000 Crore per Bulk Drug Park.
A sum of Rs. 3,000 crore has been approved for this scheme for next 5 years.
Facilities: Parks will have common facilities such as solvent recovery plant, distillation plant, power & steam units, common effluent treatment plant etc.
Need of the Scheme: Despite being 3rd largest in the world by volume the Indian pharmaceutical industry is significantly dependent on import of basic raw materials, viz., Bulk Drugs that are used to produce medicines. In some specific bulk drugs the import dependence is 80 to 100%.
Objectives: The scheme is expected to reduce manufacturing cost of bulk drugs in the country and dependency on other countries for bulk drugs.
The scheme will also help in providing continuous supply of drugs and ensure delivery of affordable healthcare to the citizens.
Implementation: The scheme will be implemented by State Implementing Agencies (SIA) to be set up by the respective State Governments.
Aim: The PLI scheme aims to promote domestic manufacturing of critical Key Starting Materials (KSMs)/Drug Intermediates and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) in the country.
Funding: Under the scheme financial incentive will be given to eligible manufacturers of identified 53 critical bulk drugs on their incremental sales over the base year (2019-20) for a period of 6 years.
Impact: PLI scheme will reduce India’s import dependence on other countries for critical KSMs/Drug Intermediates and APIs.
This will lead to expected incremental sales of Rs.46,400 crore and significant additional employment generation over 8 years.
Implementation: The scheme will be implemented through a Project Management Agency (PMA) to be nominated by the Department of Pharmaceuticals.
Worldwide Closure of Educational Institutions due to COVID-19
According to the estimates of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) the COVID-19 outbreak has pulled almost half (49.22%) the world’s student population out of schools and universities.
UNESCO has also observed that 107 countries have announced a temporary closure of educational institutions, impacting 86.17 crore children and youth.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends school closure (including preschool and higher education) as one of the “Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs)” for mitigating influenza pandemics.
Nonpharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) are actions, apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine, that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses like pandemic influenza (flu).
The main reason for keeping educational institutions closed is that children and young people can be vectors of transmission.
There are also high contact rates in schools which could result in the spread of the virus.
The school closures during a pandemic are expected to break the chains of transmission of COVID-19 in turn it will reduce the number of confirmed cases, avoiding stressing healthcare systems.
It will also help to delay possible transmission and will also allow more time to develop a vaccine.
The closure of education institutions not only disrupts learning but also has a direct economic cost.
Because when schools close, families would have to find childcare.
While some may manage to look after children without missing work, many parents will end up skipping work. Those lost work hours are a cost to the economy.
A study published in the BMC Public Health journal in April 2008 suggested that a 12-week closure of schools in the UK during an influenza pandemic could cost about 0.2-1% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Loss of Nutrition: When schools close, children’s nutrition is compromised. This is already evident in India, where the closure of schools has disrupted the supply of midday meals.
Access to Internet: As schools and universities move towards learning online to make up for lost time, students from low-income families risk falling behind as they don’t have access to technology or stable Internet connections.
Issues with Distance Learning: The parents of first-generation learners in schools are often unprepared for distance learning and home-schooling.
Countries are adopting distance learning solutions to ensure continuity of education.
The UNESCO has set up a COVID-19 task force to advise countries in regular virtual meetings with Education Ministers.
In India, the closure of schools started towards the end of the academic year. Hence, as of now, it hasn’t caused any significant learning loss.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development has decided to encourage schools and universities to make full use of existing e-learning portals.
These e-learning portals include the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), platform SWAYAM, and the free DTH channel Swayam Prabha, which telecasts educational videos prepared by the NCERT.
Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is a free Web-based distance learning program that is designed for the participation of large numbers of geographically dispersed students.
SWAYAM platform is indigenously developed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) with the help of Microsoft.It is designed to achieve the three cardinal principles of Education Policy viz.access, equity and quality.
Modified Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMC 2.0) Scheme
Cabinet approves Modified Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMC 2.0) Scheme.
The scheme provides for development of world class infrastructure along with common facilities and amenities through Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMCs).
The Scheme would support setting up of both Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMCs) and Common Facility Centers (CFCs).
Where can these clusters be setup?
An Electronics Manufacturing Cluster (EMC) would set up in geographical areas of certain minimum extent, preferably contiguous, where the focus is on development of basic infrastructure, amenities and other common facilities for the ESDM units.
For Common Facility Centre (CFC), there should be a significant number of existing ESDM units located in the area and the focus is on upgrading common technical infrastructure and providing common facilities for the ESDM units in such EMCs, Industrial Areas/Parks/industrial corridors.
Benefits of the scheme:
Extradition Treaty between India and Belgium
Cabinet approves signing and ratifying of the Extradition Treaty between India and Belgium.
Obligation to Extradite: Each Party agrees to extradite to the other any person found in its territory, who is accused or convicted of an extraditable offence in the territory of the other Party.
Extraditable Offences: An extraditable offence means an offence punishable under the laws of both the Parties with imprisonment for a period of one year or more severe punishment.
Duration of sentence: Where extradition is sought in respect of a convicted person, the duration of the sentence remaining to be served must be at least six months at the time of making the request.
Offences relating to taxation, or revenue or is one of a fiscal character also fall within the scope of this Treaty.
Extradition of Nationals is discretionary. The nationality will be determined at the time the offence was committed.
Under the Treaty, extradition shall be refused if:
The offence involved is a political offence. However, the Treaty specifies certain offences, which will not be considered as political offences.
The offence for which extradition is requested is a military offence
The request for prosecution has been made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing the person on account of his race, sex, religion, nationality or political opinion.
The prosecution of enforcement of sentence has become time barred.
What is Extradition?
As defined by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, ‘Extradition is the delivery on the part of one State to another of those whom it is desired to deal with for crimes of which they have been accused or convicted and are justifiable in the Courts of the other State’.
When can it be initiated?
An Extradition request for an accused can be initiated in the case of under-investigation, under-trial and convicted criminals. In cases under investigation, abundant precautions have to be exercised by the law enforcement agency to ensure that it is in possession of prima facie evidence to sustain the allegation before the Courts of Law in the Foreign State.
What is the Legislative Basis for Extradition in India?
The Extradition Act 1962 provides India’s legislative basis for extradition. It consolidated the law relating to the extradition of criminal fugitive from India to foreign states. The Indian Extradition Act, 1962 was substantially modified in 1993 by Act 66 of 1993.
Who is the nodal authority for Extradition in India?
CPV Division, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India is the Central/Nodal Authority that administers the Extradition Act and it processes incoming and outgoing Extradition Requests.