Daily Prelims Notes 7 May 2021
- May 7, 2021
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
7 May 2021
Table Of Contents
- IP WAIVER ON COVID VACCINES
- IDENTIFYING SEBC
- SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION
- DGP APPOINTMENT & UPSC
- ARTICLE 19 (1) (a)
- IMMUNE SYSTEM & CORONA VIRUS
- RBI WANTS TO MODERATE BOND YIELDS
- INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
- SPACE DEBRIS
- DAHLA DAM
- SECOND SCOTTISH REFERENDUM
- OXYGEN USE IN COVID TREATMENT
- SPUTNIK LIGHT
Subject : Economy / IR
Context: Recently, the United States has announced support for waiving intellectual property protection for Covid-19 vaccines.
- The US will pursue “text-based negotiations” on the waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
- The text-based negotiations involve negotiators exchanging texts with their preferred wording and then thrashing out a consensus on the working.
- All 164 WTO members must agree on the draft, and any one member can veto it.
Meaning of intellectual property waiver for Covid-19 vaccines
- The IP waiver might open up space for production of Covid vaccines with emergency use authorisations (EUA).
- Most production is currently concentrated in high-income countries and production by middle-income countries has been happening through licensing or technology transfer agreements.
- The US support for an IP waiver stems from a proposal by India and South Africa in the WTO last year.
- The proposal had called for a waiver on all Covid interventions, including testing diagnostics and novel therapeutics.
- The countries including Canada, South Korea, and Bangladesh have shown interest in making Covid vaccines if they can get a patent waiver.
Patents and IP rights
- A patent represents a powerful intellectual property right.
- It 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.
- The patents can be either process patents or product patents.
- A product patent ensures that the rights to the final product are protected, and anyone other than the patent holder can be restrained from manufacturing it during a specified period.
- A process patent enables any person other than the patent holder to manufacture the patented product by modifying certain processes in the manufacturing exercise.
- 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.
Subject : Polity
Context: Only Central government can identify, include a community within Socially and Educationally Backward class list: Supreme Court
- The Supreme Court ruled that after the insertion of Article 342 A in the Constitution, it is the Central government alone which is empowered to identify Socially and Economically Backward Class (SEBC) and include them in a list to be published under Article 342 A (1), specifying SEBCs in relation to each State and Union Territory.
- The States can, through their existing mechanisms, or even statutory commissions, only make suggestions to the President or the Commission under Article 338B, for inclusion, exclusion or modification of castes or communities, in the list to be published under Article 342A (1), the Court ruled.
- The power to identify and specify SEBCs lies with Parliament only with reference to the Central List.
- The State governments may have separate State Lists of SEBCs for providing reservation for recruitment to State services or admissions in State government educational institutions.
- Under the newly-inserted Article 342A of the 102nd Amendment Act of 2018, the President notifies the SEBCs in a State after consultation with the Governor.
- The castes or communities included in such State Lists may differ from those included in the Central List.
Subject : Polity
Context : The Supreme Court on Friday highlighted the “extremely urgent” concern raised by two Delhi residents over the ferrying of labourers to and fro the Central Vista redevelopment site amid a devastating public health crisis, and permitted them to approach the Delhi High Court Chief Justice.
Special leave to appeal by the Supreme Court: Article 136
- (1) Notwithstanding anything in this Chapter, the Supreme Court may, in its discretion, grant special leave to appeal from any judgment, decree, determination, sentence or order in any cause or matter passed or made by any court or tribunal in the territory of India.
- (2) Nothing in clause ( 1 ) shall apply to any judgment, determination, sentence or order passed or made by any court or tribunal constituted by or under any law relating to the Armed Forces.
- In the case of any SLP , the SC has first to decide in its discretion whether it should grant or deny the requested Special Leave.
- When discussing the SLP, it is important to understand its position with respect to the judgements of Inter-State Water Dispute (ISWD) Tribunal as well.
- The Inter-State Water Disputes Act of 1956, coupled with Article 262 (2) of the Constitution, excludes the SC from hearing or deciding any appeals against the Inter-State Water Dispute (ISWD) Tribunal’s decision.
- However, the reference to “any Court or tribunal in the territory of India,” in Article 136 seems to bring the ISWD Tribunals within the purview of the Article.
- The SC had also argued that the remedy under Article 136 (Special Leave Petition) is a constitutional right. Thus, the bar can be overcome through the possible routes under Articles 32, 131, and 136 of the Constitution.
- Article 32 provides for constitutional remedies to get the rights protected through writs namely Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Certiorari and Quo warranto.
- Article 131 ( Original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court ) is about Centre-State or inter-State disputes in general.
Subject : Polity
Context : The appointment of Maharashtra’s director general of police will likely take a few more weeks if not months as the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has returned the government’s slate of names, asking it to add two more to the 12 already on it, and also send the annual confidential reports (ACR) of all.
- Supreme Court had refrained State governments from appointing DGPs without first consulting the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). It came up with the following guidelines:
- The State governments concerned have to send UPSC the names of the probables three months before the incumbent DGPs are to retire.
- The UPSC will prepare a panel of three officers fit to be DGP and send it back.
- The UPSC shall, as far as practicable, choose the people within the zone of consideration who have got a clear two years of service and must give due weightage to merit and seniority.
- The State, in turn, shall “immediately” appoint one of the persons shortlisted by the UPSC.
- On the practice of States appointing “Acting DGPs”, the court rejected the idea of acting or temporary DGPs, i.e.. States shall appoint a person as permanent DGP.
- The court also ruled that any rule or state law on the subject of appointment of police officers will be kept in suspension. However, the States, which have made laws on police appointments, can move to court seeking modifications of its order.
- The court had passed the series of directions on an application made by the Centre for modification of its judgement in Prakash Singh Case of 2006 for reforms and transparency in the State police forces.
Subject : Polity
Context : A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah held that freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) extends to reporting judicial proceedings as well.
Article 19 (1)(a)
- According to Article 19(1)(a): All citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression.
- This implies that all citizens have the right to express their views and opinions freely.
- This includes not only words of mouth, but also a speech by way of writings, pictures, movies, banners, etc.
- The right to speech also includes the right not to speak.
- The Supreme Court of India has held that participation in sports is an expression of one’s self and hence, is a form of freedom of speech.
- In 2004, the SC held that hoisting the national flag is also a form of this freedom.
- Freedom of the press is an inferred freedom under this Article.
- This right also includes the right to access information because this right is meaningless when others are prevented from knowing/listening. It is according to this interpretation that the Right to Information (RTI) is a fundamental right.
- The SC has also ruled that freedom of speech is an inalienable right adjunct to the right to life (Article 21). These two rights are not separate but related.
- Restrictions on the freedom of speech of any citizen may be placed as much by an action of the state as by its inaction. This means that the failure of the State to guarantee this freedom to all classes of citizens will be a violation of their fundamental rights.
- The right to freedom of speech and expression also includes the right to communicate, print and advertise information.
- This right also includes commercial as well as artistic speech and expression.
Subject : Science & tech
Context : In the journal Science, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin describe the finding, which represents good news for designing the next generation of vaccines to protect against variants of the virus or future emerging corona viruses.
- Previous research focused on one group of antibodies that target the most obvious part of the corona virus’s spike protein, called the receptor-binding domain (RBD).
- Because the RBD is the part of the spike that attaches directly to human cells and enables the virus to infect them, it was assumed to be a primary target of the immune system.
- But, testing blood plasma samples from four people who recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infections, the researchers found that most of the antibodies circulating in the blood — on average, about 84% — target areas of the viral spike protein outside the RBD — and, apparently, for good reason.
- These antibodies are painting the entire spike, both the arc and the stalk of the spike protein, which looks a bit like an umbrella. The immune system sees the entire spike and tries to neutralise it.
- Many of these non-RBD-directed antibodies act as a potent weapon against the virus by targeting a region in a part of the spike protein located in what would be the umbrella’s canopy called the N-terminal domain (NTD).
- These antibodies neutralise the virus in cell cultures and were shown to prevent a lethal mouse-adapted version of the virus from infecting mice.
- The NTD is also a part of the viral spike protein that mutates frequently, especially in several variants of concern.
- This suggests that one reason these variants are so effective at evading our immune systems is that they can mutate around one of the most common and potent types of antibody in our arsenals.
Subject : Economics
Context : Reserve Bank of India’s decision to step up purchase of government securities under the government securities acquisition programme (G-SAP) led to the yield on the benchmark 10-year bond falling below 6%.
Current movement of Bond Yields
- The yield on the 10-year benchmark 5.85%, 2030 bond fell by 0.62% and closed at 5.978%.
- The RBI under G-SAP has so far bought Rs 25,000 crore worth of government securities (G-secs).
- The 10-year bond has declined 15 basis points from 6.15% in the last one month.
- The movements in yields, which depend on trends in interest rates, can result in capital gains or losses for investors.
- It implies that if an individual holds a bond carrying a yield of 6%, a rise in bond yields in the market will bring the price of the bond down.
- A drop in bond yield below 6% would benefit the investor as the price of the bond will rise, generating capital gains.
Factors affecting the yield:
- Monetary policy of the RBI (interest Rates), fiscal position of the government and its borrowing programme, global markets, economy, and inflation.
- A fall in interest rates makes bond prices rise, and bond yields fall.
- Rising interest rates cause bond prices to fall, and bond yields to rise.
- So, a rise in bond yields means interest rates in the monetary system have fallen, and the returns for investors have declined.
Impact of low bond yields on markets and investors
- The experts say that the structured purchase programme has calmed investors’ nerves and reduced the spread between the repo rate and the 10-year government bond yield.
- A decline in yield is also better for the equity markets because money starts flowing out of debt investments to equity investments.
- It implies that as bond yields go down, the equity markets tend to outperform by a bigger margin and as bond yields go up equity markets tend to falter.
- It says the yield on bonds is normally used as the risk-free rate when calculating the cost of capital.
- It implies that when bond yields go up, the cost of capital goes up.
- When bond yields go up, it is a signal that corporates will have to pay a higher interest cost on debt.
- The risk of bankruptcy and default also increases as debt servicing costs go higher and this typically makes mid-cap and highly leveraged companies vulnerable.
Subject : International Organisations
Context : International Criminal Court sentences Ugandan rebel to 25 years in prison for 61 war crimes and crimes against humanity
- The International Criminal Court (ICC), located in The Hague, is the court of last resort for prosecution of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
- It is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.
- Its founding treaty, the Rome Statute, entered into force on July 1, 2002.
- Funding: Although the Court’s expenses are funded primarily by States Parties, it also receives voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, corporations and other entities.
Composition and voting power:
- The Court’s management oversight and legislative body, the Assembly of States Parties, consists of one representative from each state party.
- Each state party has one vote and “every effort” has to be made to reach decisions by consensus. If consensus cannot be reached, decisions are made by vote.
- The Assembly is presided over by a president and two vice-presidents, who are elected by the members to three-year terms.
- It does not have the capacity to arrest suspects and depends on member states for their cooperation.
- Critics of the Court argue that there are insufficient checks and balances on the authority of the ICC prosecutor and judges and insufficient protection against politicized prosecutions or other abuses.
- The ICC has been accused of bias and as being a tool of Western imperialism, only punishing leaders from small, weak states while ignoring crimes committed by richer and more powerful states.
- ICC cannot mount successful cases without state cooperation is problematic for several reasons. It means that the ICC acts inconsistently in its selection of cases, is prevented from taking on hard cases and loses legitimacy.
Subject : Science & tech
Context : China silent on falling debris of its space rocket amid rising concerns
- Space debris, also called space junk, artificial material that is orbiting Earth but is no longer functional.
- This material can be as large as a discarded rocket stage or as small as a microscopic chip of paint.
- Much of the debris is in low Earth orbit, within 2,000 km (1,200 miles) of Earth’s surface; however, some debris can be found in geostationary orbit 35,786 km (22,236 miles) above the Equator.
- Kessler syndrome postulates that crashes would first be seen between fragments and larger objects like satellites and would eventually be between two fragments. Crashes will continue till the debris becomes very small.
- There is almost 7,000 tons of active space debris—from old satellites and spacecraft to lost components and spent rocket parts—orbiting Earth at any given moment. While some of the space junk in orbit decays with time, debris that is located at a higher orbit can take years to disintegrate.
- The probability of a collision of a space craft with a particle more than 10 cm is very rare. But a large density of the orbital junk is capable of causing a chain collisions.
- This has been named the “Kessler Syndrome” by NASA consultant Donald J. Kessler. One collision will create more debris and increase the likelihood of further collisions. Such collisions will destroy satellites worth millions of dollars and could render space exploration unfeasible for centuries.
- There is no binding international legal rule (yet) which prohibits the wanton creation of space debris.
- 1967 Outer Space Treaty bars states party to the treaty from placing weapons of mass destruction in Earth orbit.
- Since 2002, the world’s space powers have complied with an informal code of conduct to avoid the creation of space junk and the United Nations has endorsed a resolution along those lines.
Removal of debris
- There have been several initiatives to remove debris like global mitigation measures by Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, and Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) ; e-Deorbit mission of European space agency etc.
- To safeguard its space assets from space debris, Isro had set up a dedicated Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Control Centre named “Netra” in Bengaluru last December.
- Netra’s key objective is to monitor, track and protect the national space assets and function as a hub of all SSA activities.
- Only the US, Russia and Europe have similar facilities in place to track space objects and share collision warning
Subject : International Relations
Context :The Taliban has captured Afghanistan’s second-biggest dam after months of fierce fighting in its former bastion of Kandahar.
- Dahla Dam, which provides irrigation to farmers via a network of canals as well as drinking water for the provincial capital, is now under Taliban control.
- The dam’s capture comes after clashes erupted in neighbouring Helmand province this week, just days after the U.S. military formally began withdrawing its remaining troops from Afghanistan.
- The Dahla Dam, also known as Arghandab Dam, is located in the Shah Wali Kot District of Kandahar Province in Afghanistan.
- Constructed in 1952, it is said to be the second largest dam in Afghanistan.
- The Dahla Dam is built on the Arghandab River.
Subject : International Relations
Context : Recently, Scotland took to the polls to vote for its next parliament with a third of the results expected to be announced.
- Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who leads the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), has described this election as the most important in her country’s history.
- The Scottish election campaigns have been widely dominated by discussions around another independence referendum.
How Scotland could push for another referendum?
- A referendum held without the consent of the British would struggle to gain international recognition similar to the 2017 Catalonian movement that was rejected by Madrid.
- Under the Scotland Act of 1998, the Union between England and Scotland is a matter reserved for the British parliament.
- Scotland will have limited options to hold a legally binding, internationally recognised referendum without the green light from London.
Impact of Scottish independence
- The independence of Scotland from the UK would have widespread ramifications for both England and Scotland, as well as on the stability of the union as a whole.
- The London School of Economics has predicted that independence from the UK would cost Scotland up to three times as much in lost revenue as Brexit will.
- The negotiating of a trade deal with the EU or re-entering the bloc altogether will be a costly and time-consuming process.
- Scotland would also have to bolster its defence capabilities, extract itself from British public funding schemes and establish independent trade and security arrangements with other countries.
- England and Scotland would both have to consider the matter of creating a physical international border and account for the considerable number of people and goods that currently cross between the two nations.
- The success or failure of the hypothetically independent Scottish state would have ramifications on the Northern Irish and Welsh independence movements respectively.
Types of Direct Democracy
- Direct democracy has 4 devices – Referendum, Initiative, Recall and Plebiscite
- Referendum – procedure in which a proposed legislation is referred to the electorate for acceptance through direct voting.
- Initiative – method by means of which the people can propose a bill to the legislature for enactment.
- Recall – way for voters to remove a representative or an officer before the expiry of his/her term, when he fails to discharge his duties properly.
- Plebiscite – method of obtaining the opinion of people on any issue of public importance. It is generally used to solve territorial disputes.
Subject : Science & tech
Context : Even if one’s oxygen saturation level is 92 to 94 per cent, there may not be any reason to panic, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria has said
- In a webinar on oxygen therapy for Covid-19 treatment, organised by AIIMS, experts on Wednesday emphasised that oxygen therapy is more important than ventilation as more people on oxygen therapy can be brought back to life.
- But equally important is saving oxygen and not overusing it. If someone’s oxygen saturation is around 95 per cent, trying to bring that to 98 or 99 per cent is futile.
Oxygen used in Covid-19 clinical management
- According to the clinical management protocol, under the following conditions persons require oxygen:
- a person is suffering from moderate disease;
- a person is diagnosed with pneumonia with no signs of severe disease;
- presence of clinical features of dyspnea (shortness of breath) and/or hypoxia (no oxygen supply at the tissue level);
- fever, cough, including SpO2 (oxygen saturation level) less than 94% (range 90-94%) in room air;
- When respiratory distress of the patient cannot be alleviated after receiving standard oxygen therapy, high-flow nasal cannula oxygen therapy (HFNO) or non-invasive ventilation can be done.
- But patients with hypercapnia (exacerbation of obstructive lung disease), hemodynamic instability, multi-organ failure, or abnormal mental status should generally not receive HFNO.
Subject : Science & tech
Context : Russia authorises use of single dose vaccine Sputnik Light
- Sovereign wealth fund Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) on Thursday said the move will pave way for the immunisation of a larger number of people in a shorter time frame.
- Sputnik Light is the first component — recombinant human adenovirus serotype number 26 (rAd26) — of Sputnik V vaccine that has been approved by over 60 countries, including India.
- The results of Phase I/II Safety and Immunogenicity Study of Sputnik Light show the vaccine can elicit the development of antigen specific IgG antibodies in 96.9% of volunteers on the 28th day after immunisation.
- Virus-neutralising antibodies developed in 91.67 % of the volunteers on the 28th day post-immunisation. Cellular immune response against the S Protein of SARS-CoV-2 developed in 100% of volunteers.
- Interim results of Phase III clinical study are expected later this month, RDIF said.
- Besides Russia, Sputnik Light is to made in at least 10 other countries where RDIF has formed manufacturing partnerships with 20 producers for Sputnik V.