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30th May Current Affairs

PM CARES For Children

(GS-II: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections)

In News:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has released benefits under the PM Cares for children scheme that supports those who lost their parents during Covid-19 pandemic.

About the scheme:

Launched in May 2021.

The scheme has been launched for support & empowerment of Covid affected children.

Eligibility: All children who have lost both parents or surviving parent or legal guardian/adoptive parents due to Covid 19 will be supported under the scheme.

Features of the scheme:

A corpus of Rs 10 lakh for each child: This corpus will be used to give a monthly stipend from 18 years of their age, for the next five years and on reaching the age of 23 years, he or she will get the corpus amount as one lump-sum for personal and professional use.

School Education: For children under 10 years: Admission will be given in the nearest Kendriya Vidyalaya or in a private school as a day scholar.

School Education: for children between 11-18 years: The child will be given admission in any Central Government residential school such as Sainik School, Navodaya Vidyalaya etc.

Support for Higher Education: The child will be assisted in obtaining an education loan for Professional courses / Higher Education in India as per the existing Education Loan norms.

Health Insurance: All children will be enrolled as a beneficiary under Ayushman Bharat Scheme (PM-JAY) with a health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakhs.

Need for these measures:

As India battles a raging second wave, cases of children losing their parents to Covid-19 are also mounting.

Also the apprehension of child trafficking in the garb of adoption has increased.

Child Marriages have also increased in the Covid-19 induced lockdown.

TRIPS waiver

(GS-II: Effects of Policies of developed nations and IP related issues)

In News:

A group of non-governmental organisations has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to “proactively engage” with a draught proposal at the World Trade Organization-TRIPS in Geneva to waive intellectual property rights governing COVID vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics, which are mostly controlled by companies in the West.

What’s the issue?

In October 2020, at the WTO’s Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Council, India and South Africa proposed that the WTO do away with certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the duration of the pandemic to facilitate access to technologies necessary for the production of vaccines and medicines.

Challenges ahead:

A small group of WTO members are “discussing suggestions” to exclude drug manufacturers in India and China — two major, global suppliers of medicine — from prospective waivers to IPR obligations that result from the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) which WTO members are committed to uphold.

Also, Manufacturers want to “limit” any benefits of the waiver only to African countries, and not pave the way for Indian manufacturers who, with their large production capacities, would easily undercut Western competitors.

Why is there an opposition to the waiver? What are the arguments against it?

Waiving of intellectual property rights will neither lead to increased production of vaccines or increased deployment nor practical solutions to fight the virus of COVID-19 vaccines since IP is not the barrier.

Waiving of intellectual property rights could also impact patient safety by opening doors for counterfeit vaccines to enter the supply chain.

Need of the hour:

Our top most priority should be to address the supply side constraints, including IP barriers, to augment the manufacturing of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, essential for treatment, prevention and control of the ongoing pandemic.

What does the intellectual property waiver for Covid-19 vaccines mean?

The IP waiver might open up space for production of Covid vaccines with emergency use authorisations (EUA) — such as those developed by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson and Bharat Biotech — on a larger scale in middle-income countries.

Most production is currently concentrated in high-income countries; production by middle-income countries has been happening through licensing or technology transfer agreements.

What are patents and IP rights?

A patent represents a powerful intellectual property right, and is an exclusive monopoly granted by a government to an inventor for a limited, pre-specified time. It provides an enforceable legal right to prevent others from copying the invention.

Patents can be either process patents or product patents:

A product patent ensures that the rights to the final product is protected, and anyone other than the patent holder can be restrained from manufacturing it during a specified period, even if they were to use a different process.

A process patent enables any person other than the patent holder to manufacture the patented product by modifying certain processes in the manufacturing exercise.

Patent regime in India:

India moved from product patenting to process patenting in the 1970s, which enabled India to become a significant producer of generic drugs at global scale, and allowed companies like Cipla to provide Africa with anti-HIV drugs in the 1990s.

But due to obligations arising out of the TRIPS Agreement, India had to amend the Patents Act in 2005, and switch to a product patents regime across the pharma, chemicals, and biotech sectors.

What is the TRIPS Agreement?

The TRIPS agreement was negotiated in 1995 at the WTO, it requires all its signatory countries to enact domestic law.

It guarantees minimum standards of IP protection. Such legal consistency enables innovators to monetise their intellectual property in multiple countries.

In 2001, the WTO signed the Doha Declaration, which clarified that in a public health emergency, governments could compel companies to license their patents to manufacturers, even if they did not think the offered price was acceptable.

This provision, commonly referred to as “compulsory licensing”, was already built into the TRIPS Agreement and the Doha declaration only clarified its usage.

West Nile Virus Infections

(GS-II: Issues related to Health)

In News:

A man who was undergoing treatment for West Nile fever in Kerala’s Thrissur succumbed to it recently.

About the West Nile Virus:

It is a member of the flavivirus genus and belongs to the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex of the family

It is a single-stranded RNA virus.

It was first isolated in a woman in the West Nile district of Uganda in 1937.

It is commonly found in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America and West Asia.

Older people, children and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk.

Transmission:

It spreads from birds to humans with the bite of an infected Culex mosquito.

Cultural significance of PM Modi’s gifts for his Quad colleagues

(GS-I: Art and Culture)

In News:

At the recent Quad Summit held at Tokyo, PM Modi carried with him gifts for leaders of the US, Australia and Japan showcasing India’s rich cultural heritage and art forms.

The gifts and their cultural significance:

Sanjhi Art form:

Sanjhi panel gifted to US President Joe Biden is based on the theme of Thakurani Ghat (It is one of the most famous ghats on the banks of the holy river of Yamuna in Gokul).

This art form originated out of the cult of Krishna.

It involves creating stencils based on incidents from the life of the deity and then hand-cutting these on thin sheets of paper using scissors.

Sanjhi was popularised in the 15th and 16th centuries by the Vaishnava temples and was practiced by Brahmin priests.

Gond art painting for Australian PM Anthony Albanese:

The gift depicts a popular motif in Gond art — the Tree of Life, with intricate patterns and lines that are a trademark of Gond art.

Gond art is practised by the Gond community in Madhya Pradesh.

It is often traced to Jangarh Shyam, who in the 1970s and ’80s began drawing the largely oral myths and legends of the tribe onto the walls of homes in the village of Patangarh.

Rogan painting:

PM Modi gifted the Japanese PM a hand-carved deep brown wooden box with a gold and white Rogan painting on a green cloth as its central motif.

Rogan is a form of cloth painting that is considered to be more than four centuries old and is primarily practised in Kutch district of Gujarat.

The word ‘rogan’ comes from Persian, meaning varnish or oil.

The craft uses paint made from boiled oil and vegetable dyes.

Usually, only half the fabric is painted and it is folded to create a mirror image.

Originally only men used to practice the art form. Now several women in Gujarat also pursue it.