Palestinian PM calls for Indian support
(GS-II: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora)
Indian and Palestinian Prime Ministers held meetings in Glasgow recently on the sidelines of the COP26 summit.
Outcomes of the meet:
Palestine asked India to play a stabilising role in West Asia by maintaining cooperation with “all related parties”.
It said, India had a historic tradition of supporting the rights of the Palestinian people and its technical support should be “parallel to the political support”.
India should support the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent State of Palestine.
Why is India’s support significant?
India is serving as a non-permanent member of the Security Council for 2021-22 and was re-elected to the Human Rights Council for the 2022-24.”
Also, in recent years, India has broken the tradition of supporting Palestine at the U.N.
In 2019, India voted in favour of Israel at the ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) to deny observer status to a Palestinian organisation named Shahed.
In June, India abstained during the voting on a resolution calling for investigation into Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip at the Human Rights Council which drew strong protest from Foreign Minister Riyad Al Malki who wrote a letter critical of India’s abstention.
India’s support for the Palestinian cause is an integral part of the nation’s foreign policy.
In 1974, India became the first Non-Arab State to recognize Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by independent views and interests, and not determined by any third country.
Israel- Palestine conflict– Historical Background:
The conflict has been ongoing for more than 100 years between Jews and Arabs over a piece of land between Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
It was between 1882 to 1948, when the Jews from around the world gathered in Palestine. This movement came to be known as
Then in 1917, Ottoman Empirefell after World War 1 and the UK got control over Palestine.
The land was inhabited by a Jewish minority and Arab majority.
The Balfour Declarationwas issued after Britain gained control with the aim of establishing a home for the Jews in Palestine. However during that period the Arabs were in majority in Palestine.
Jews favored the idea while the Palestinians rejected it. Almost 6 million Jews lost their lives in the Holocaustwhich also ignited further demand of a separate Jewish state.
Jews claimed Palestine to be their natural home while the Arabs too did not leave the land and claimed it.
The international community supported the Jews.
In 1947, the UN voted for Palestine to be split into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem becoming an international city.
That plan was accepted by Jewish leaders but rejected by the Arab side and never implemented.
The trend is clear – India’s decisions are based on a mature understanding and evaluation of the Israel- Palestine issues and New Delhi is following the same approach now as Israel and Palestine exchange rocket fire. India has refused to pick a side and called for de-escalation and dialogue.
Cairn to begin process to end tax dispute
(GS-III: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth)
Cairn Energy has entered into certain undertakings with India which would allow for the refund of taxes under a billion-dollar dispute.
What’s the issue?
In December 2020, a three-member international arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Netherlands ruled unanimously that the Indian government was “in breach of the guarantee of fair and equitable treatment”, and against the India-UK Bilateral Investment Treaty, and that the breach caused a loss to the British energy company and ordered compensation of $1.2 billion.
Cairn had challenged the Indian government seeking taxes over an internal business reorganisation using the 2012 retrospective tax law, under the UK-India Bilateral Investment Treaty.
In 2014, the Indian tax department had demanded Rs 10,247 crore in taxes.
In 2015, Cairn Energy Plc commenced international arbitration proceedings against the Indian government.
Please note that the Indian government’s recent amendment to taxation laws nullifies the tax assessment originally levied against Cairn in January 2016 and orders the refund of ₹7,900 crore which was collected from Cairn in respect of that assessment.
What is retrospective taxation?
It allows a country to pass a rule on taxing certain products, items or services and deals and charge companies from a time behind the date on which the law is passed.
Countries use this route to correct any anomalies in their taxation policies that have, in the past, allowed companies to take advantage of such loopholes.
Retrospective Taxation hurts companies that had knowingly or unknowingly interpreted the tax rules differently.
Permanent Court of Arbitration:
It was established in 1899 and is headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands.
It is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to serve the international community in the field of dispute resolution and to facilitate arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution between States.
All decisions, called “awards” are binding on all the parties in the dispute and have to be carried out without delay.
At COP26, T.N. teenager tells leaders that youth are angry
(GS-IV: Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service)
Vinisha Umashankar from Tamil Nadu recently spoke on clean energy at a meeting that discussed clean technology and innovation as part of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow.
Among her audience were world leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, U.S. President Joe Biden, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
What did she say?
Young people have every reason to be angry and frustrated at leaders who have made empty promises and failed to deliver. None of what we discuss today is practical for me. We need actions rather than promises to live in a habitable world.
She urged everyone – world leaders, business leaders, international organization as well as the civil society – to immediately “stop talking and start acting” when it comes to tackling climate change.
We will act even if you delay and we’ll build the future even if you’re still stuck in the past,” the teenager said while requesting all present to accept her invite and assured that no-one will regret doing so.
Winding up her speech, she said, “When it comes to climate change there’s no stop button. We can’t hit pause or even rewind. We can only move together towards the future so united we rise and together we will definitely succeed”.
Who is she?
She is one of the finalists for the Earthshot Prize.
She is the founder of the solar-powered ironing cart, which would replace the conventional charcoal ironing box.
Her innovation brought her laurels from around the world, including the prestigious Children’s Climate Prize in November 2021.
This example is related to the topic ‘Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service’. It talks about values such as empathy and compassion towards the weaker-sections.
Covaxin gets WHO nod for emergency use
(GS-II: Issues related to Health)
The World Health Organization (WHO) has given pre-qualification, or Emergency Use Listing (EUL) for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine.
Please note that:
The approval has been given by the Technical Advisory Group (TAG), an independent advisory panel of the WHO.
The approval was expected on October 26, but the WHO had deferred its decision and sought additional clarifications from Bharat Biotech to conduct a final risk-benefit assessment.
The WHO has already approved six vaccines for emergency use: AstraZeneca’s Covishield, Moderna’s mRNA-1273, Sinopharm’s BBIBP-CorV, Sinovac’s CoronaVac, Pfizer/BioNTech’s Comirnaty, and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.
What does this approval mean?
It has been granted EUL for use in persons 18 years and above, over two doses spaced four weeks apart.
However, no recommendation has been made for use in children, and available data for use on pregnant women is insufficient to assess safety or efficacy.
The move is expected to ease international travel for Indians who have opted for the vaccine but experts say that this would be subjected to countries clearing Covaxin through their regulatory processes.
How effective is COVAXIN?
Covaxin was found to have 78% efficacy against Covid-19 of any severity, 14 or more days after the second dose, and is extremely suitable for low- and middle-income countries due to easy storage requirements.
Covaxin is a whole virion-inactivated vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, developed in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology, Pune.
What is emergency use approval?
The EUL is a prerequisite for the COVAX initiative in vaccine supply, and allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer COVID-19 vaccines.
It is a risk-based procedure for assessing and listing unlicensed vaccines, therapeutics and in vitro diagnostics with the ultimate aim of expediting the availability of these products to people affected by a public health emergency.
To be eligible, the following criteria must be met:
The disease for which the product is intended is serious or immediately life threatening, has the potential of causing an outbreak, epidemic or pandemic and it is reasonable to consider the product for an EUL assessment, e.g., there are no licensed products for the indication or for a critical subpopulation (e.g., children).
Existing products have not been successful in eradicating the disease or preventing outbreaks (in the case of vaccines and medicines).
The product is manufactured in compliance with current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) in the case of medicines and vaccines and under a functional Quality Management System (QMS) in the case of IVDs.
The applicant undertakes to complete the development of the product (validation and verification of the product in the case of IVDs) and apply for WHO prequalification once the product is licensed.