# 18 May 2021: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

CNA 18th May 2021:-

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Why and how of creating a district
HEALTH
1. ICMR drops plasma therapy from COVID treatment norms
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Is India’s Palestine policy evolving?
C. GS 3 Related
DISASTER MANAGEMENT
1. Armed forces on alert as Tauktae begins landfall
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. The Biden push-button to West Asia’s diplomatic resets
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. Walk the talk on TRIPS waiver
F. Prelims Facts
1. Two Al-Badr militants killed in Srinagar
G. Tidbits
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions


1. ICMR drops plasma therapy from COVID treatment norms

Context:

According to the advisory from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the use of convalescent plasma has been dropped from the recommended treatment guidelines for COVID-19.

Details:

• The PLACID trial in 2020 (a trial by the ICMR on 400 patients) found no significant benefit from the use of plasma.
• The National Task Force of the ICMR, along with experts from the Health Ministry, periodically updates guidelines on recommended modes of treatment.
• However, registered doctors are not bound by the task force recommendations.

Convalescent Plasma therapy:

Convalescent Plasma therapy involves transfusing certain components from the blood of people who have recovered from a virus attack into people who are very sick with the virus or people who are at high risk of getting the virus.

This topic has been covered in PIB Summary & Analysis for 11th April 2020.

1. Is India’s Palestine policy evolving?

Context:

At the United Nations Security Council, India reaffirmed its support for Palestine.

Details:

• However, India stopped short of making any direct reference to the status of Jerusalem or the future Israel-Palestine borders.
• India’s Permanent Representative to the UN said: “India reiterates its strong support for the just Palestinian cause and its unwavering commitment to the two-state solution.”
• India has expressed deep concern over the violence in Jerusalem, especially on Haram esh-Sharif/Temple Mount during the holy month of Ramzan and about the possible eviction process in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.

Read more on this issue covered in 12th May 2021 Comprehensive News Analysis.

• India has also urged both sides to refrain from attempts to unilaterally change the existing status quo, including in East Jerusalem and its neighbourhood.
• Here, it is Israel that is trying to unilaterally change the status quo by moving to evict the Palestinian families, and deploying troops to the Al-Aqsa compound.

Also read: Israel Palestine Conflict: RSTV- Big Picture Gist.

Evolving position:

• India’s recent comments point to its evolving position on the larger Israel-Palestine issue.
• India called for the status quo relating to East Jerusalem.
• However, the crucial point that was missed is that East Jerusalem should be the capital [of a future Palestinian state].
• Earlier, this was India’s stand regarding the two-state solution. This portion is now taken out.
• Until 2017, India’s position was that it supported “the Palestinian cause and called for a negotiated solution resulting in a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognised borders, side by side at peace with Israel”.
• India dropped the references to East Jerusalem and the borders in 2017 when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visited Delhi.
• At present, while India is firmly putting the two-state solution on the table, it made no reference to East-Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital, it opines that the contours of the boundaries must be discussed, settled and recognised by the parties.

1. Walk the talk on TRIPS waiver

Background:

Supreme Court’s observations:

• The Supreme Court bench, while considering the suo-moto case in Re-Distribution of Essential Supplies and Services During Pandemic, had opined that since COVID-19 was a public health emergency, the situation was apt for invoking emergency powers under the Patents Act to increase the affordability and accessibility of the medicines and vaccines.
• The bench had asked the Centre why it was not considering options like compulsory licensing and government authorization using powers under Sections 92 and 100 of the Patents Act.
• Section 92 of the Patents Act is a special provision enabling the Central Government to issue compulsory licenses for the manufacture of patented drugs in a public health emergency.
• Section 100 of the Patents Act enables Central Government to use patented inventions for government purposes.

Government’s affidavit:

• The Centre had told the Supreme Court that it is not in favour of exercising emergency powers under the Patents Act, at this stage based on the following arguments.
• Since India is in discussion with WTO members on a temporary TRIPS waiver, any exercise of statutory powers under the Patents Act could be counter-productive for India’s demand at WTO.
• The availability of raw materials and essential inputs is the main constraint in the current scenario and therefore any additional licenses may not result in increased production.

For detailed information on this issue refer to:

UPSC Comprehensive News Analysis  of 14th May 2021

Concerns:

• Though a temporary waiver on TRIPS provisions is a necessity, it is uncertain when the TRIPS waiver would be adopted, or what conditions it would be subjected to. Thus the government’s stand to wait for a WTO waiver does not warrant merit.
• India is failing to utilize the existing flexibilities under the Patents Act of 1970, such as compulsory licences, which are consistent with the TRIPS agreement. This would not require India to wait for a WTO waiver.
• The government’s stand on the issue of compulsory licensing is not only contradictory with India’s position at the WTO but also severely undermines it. This could prove to be counter-productive for India as and when the negotiations at WTO begin.

Recommendations:

• India must take a consistent stand on IPRs on COVID-19 medical products both internationally and domestically.
• The government needs to make aggressive use of Sections 92 and 100 of the Patents Act to license all patents necessary to make COVID-19 medical products, without waiting for a private party to apply for a licence.
• The government should consider not only transferring Covaxin’s technology to domestic pharmaceutical companies, to boost national supplies, but also offer it to foreign corporations.

Significance of such an approach:

• Such an approach would help demonstrate India’s resolve to walk the talk on the TRIPS waiver and also put pressure on developed countries to transfer their vaccine technology to developing countries.
• Though the usefulness of compulsory licences for COVID-19 vaccines in the absence of technology transfer is questionable, it can be used to augment the supply of drugs and other therapeutics which too are critical in the fight against the pandemic.
• An assertive posture on compulsory licences would also have the advantage of forcing several domestic pharmaceutical companies to offer licences voluntarily.

For related information on the proposed TRIPS waiver refer to:

UPSC Comprehensive News Analysis of 7th May 2021

F. Prelims Facts

1. Two Al-Badr militants killed in Srinagar

What’s in News?

Two Al-Badr militants were killed near Srinagar’s Khonmoh area.

• Al-Badr is a terrorist group operating in the Kashmir region.
• The group was allegedly formed by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in 1998.
• India and the United States have declared it a terrorist organisation and banned it.

G. Tidbits

Nothing here for today!!!

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Consider the following pairs:

Terrorist Group                                              Region

2. Al-Shabaab                                                    East Africa
3. Boko Haram                                                    Nigeria

Which of the above is/are correctly matched?

1. 1 and 3 only
2. 2 and 3 only
3. 1 only
4. 1, 2 and 3

Explanation:

• Al-Badr operates in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in India.
• The group was allegedly formed by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in 1998.
• Al-Badr was banned by India under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2004.
• Al-Shabaab operates in East Africa, especially in Somalia and Yemen.
• Boko Haram operates in Nigeria. It is based in northeastern Nigeria, which is also active in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon.
Q2. With reference to carving out a new district in a State, which of the following statements
is/are correct?
1. The power to create new districts or alter or abolish existing districts rests with the State Government with the consent of the Central Home Ministry.
2. It can be changed only by passing a law in the State Assembly.

Options:

1. 1 only
2. 2 only
3. Both
4. None

Explanation:

• The power to create new districts or alter or abolish existing districts rests with the State governments.
• The Centre has no role to play in the alteration of districts or creation of new ones.
• This can either be done through an executive order or by passing a law in the State Assembly.
Q3. Farzad B gas field recently seen in news is in
1. Qatar
2. Tajikistan
3. Iran
4. Azerbaijan

Explanation:

Farzad B gas field is in the Farsi region which is located between the Iranian and Saudi territories.

Q4. Which of the following statements about Wholesale Price Index (WPI) is/are correct?
1. WPI-based inflation is used by the government in the preparation of fiscal, trade, and other economic policies.
2. Core inflation is the total inflation in an economy.
3. 2015-2016 is the base year for the Wholesale Price Index (WPI).

Options:

1. 1 and 2 only
2. 1 only
3. 2 only
4. 2 and 3 only

Explanation:

• WPI-based inflation is used by the government in the preparation of fiscal, trade, and other economic policies.
• Headline inflation is the total inflation in the economy as it includes commodities such as food and energy prices, which tend to be much more volatile and prone to inflationary spikes.
• Core inflation excludes items frequently subject to volatile prices, like food and energy.
• 2011-2012 is the base year for the Wholesale Price Index (WPI).
Q5. Consider the following statements regarding the Directive Principles of State Policy:
(UPSC 2015)
1. The Principles spell out the socio-economic democracy in the country.
2. The provisions contained in these Principles are not enforceable by any court.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

1. 1 only
2. 2 only
3. Both 1 and 2
4. Neither 1 nor 2

Explanation:

• The Directive Principles of State Policy spell out the socio-economic democracy in the country.
• The provisions contained in the DPSPs are not enforceable by any court.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

1. The casual resort by the police to the sedition clause continues to cause concern. Critically evaluate. (250 words; 15 marks)[GS-2, Polity and Governance]
2. During a discussion at the United Nations Security Council on the latest Israel-Palestine clashes, India as a non­permanent member, reaffirmed its support for Palestine, but stopped short of making any direct reference to the status of Jerusalem or the future of Israel­-Palestine borders. Does this indicate that India’s Palestine policy is evolving? (250 words; 15 marks) [GS-2, International Relations].