Regulating online sale of drugs in India
- GS 2 Polity and Governance
- All-India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists threatens a country-wide agitation against e-pharmacies.
- The Ministry of Health has recently issued a show cause notice to at least 20 companies, including Tata-1mg, Flipkart, Apollo, PharmEasy, Amazon, and Reliance Netmeds, for selling medicines online.
- The Indian pharmaceuticals market ranks third globally in terms of volume and thirteenth globally in terms of value.
- The growth of this industry will be primarily driven by the prevalence of disease, positive economic growth resulting in an increase in disposable income, improvements in healthcare infrastructure, and enhanced healthcare financing, among others.
- In the coming years, India is anticipated to be one of the top three pharmaceutical markets by incremental growth and the sixth largest market globally by absolute size.
- Government stakeholders have frequently argued that banning e-pharmacies is not a viable option given the growing demand for online drug delivery, and that instead of banning businesses, the sector should be regulated.
- In an ecosystem transitioning to a hybrid mode, all eyes are on the Ministry of Health, which must effectively regulate the new method of conducting e-commerce in the pharmaceutical industry.
- E-pharmacy, also known as an online pharmacy, is a platform that enables customers to purchase medications and other healthcare products online.
- E-pharmacies are accessible via websites or mobile applications where users can upload their prescriptions, select the desired products, and place orders.
- The products are then delivered to the customer’s doorstep, a trend that is gaining popularity due to its convenience, accessibility, and affordability.
- However, they pose regulatory challenges and concerns regarding the safety, authenticity, and quality of online-sold medications.
Draft e-pharmacy rules
- The draught e-pharmacy rules were introduced in 2018 with the intention of bringing e-pharmacy businesses into compliance, but they were shelved.
- In 2015, e-pharmacies exploded onto the scene by offering steep discounts on medications and billing themselves as facilitators of doorstep delivery.
- However, businesses such as PharmEasy are constructing a supply chain from scratch by acquiring large and small wholesale drug distributors.
- Since 2015, online pharmacies have suffered annual losses. Tata-1 Mg incurred a?146 crore loss in FY22, while PharmEasy’s losses grew to?2,700 crore in the same fiscal year.
- Both online pharmacies and traditional retail pharmacies have realised that it is futile to adhere to a single business model.
- E-pharmacies are part of the government’s plan to develop digital infrastructure as a key component of India’s long-term growth strategy.
- E-pharmacies can provide access to affordable and authentic medicines in areas where traditional pharmacies may not exist.
- Indian regulations prohibit unregistered pharmacies from dispensing prescription drugs.
o Online pharmacies have been accused of operating illegally and selling drugs and medicines without a licence.
- Even if pharmacies are registered with the central drug regulator CDSCO, they must obtain permits from state regulators in order to engage in sales and distribution.
o Online pharmacies fulfil orders from offline pharmacies that are registered and licenced, but they frequently operate without the necessary permits.
Laws regulating e-pharmacies
- The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) prohibited the sale of medicines online for the first time in 2015.
- The most recent draught of the New Drugs, Medical Devices, and Cosmetics Bill, 2022, includes comprehensive provisions such as: o Periodic inspections, complaint redress mechanisms, and monitoring of online pharmacies, among others.
- According to Indian law, both online and offline pharmacies must be registered with the central drugs regulator CDSCO and have sales and distribution permits from state regulators.
- In 2016, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry created a self-regulatory code for online pharmacies.
- The issue of regulating e-pharmacies in India is a complex one, with challenges related to the safety of medicines and drugs, the dominance of foreign investors, and the concerns of local retailers.
- However, with the right laws and regulations in place, the potential of the e-pharmacy market in India can be harnessed, contributing to the growth of the digital infrastructure and long-term economic growth.
- It is crucial for the government and stakeholders to work together towards ensuring that e-pharmacies operate efficiently and legitimately, while protecting the health and safety of the public.
Ornamental Fish Aquaculture
- GS 2 Government Policies & Interventions GS 3 Indian Economy & Related Issues
- Recently, 82 islanders, including 77 women, were chosen for intensive training in ornamental fish aquaculture.
- Community-based ornamental fish aquaculture using local resources is the first-of-its-kind experiment; 82 islanders, including 77 women, were selected and received intensive training;
- They have formed groups for ornamental fish aquaculture with technical support from the ICAR-National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (NBFGR).
- • Role of the National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (NBFGR): o The NBFGR maintains a germplasm resource centre for marine ornamental organisms on Agatti Island for the purposes of conservation and enhancing the islanders’ means of subsistence.
- The assistance provided by the NBFGR consists of capacity building and hand-holding community aquaculture units maintained by local women to raise captive-bred marine ornamentals, including shrimp, to marketable size.
- The NBFGR project team on Agatti island will monitor the units and provide technical inputs until the organisms reach marketable size.
- To expand the activity and enhance the income of women, in addition to the two species of ornamental shrimps, captive-raised clownfish seeds were also supplied to the groups for further rearing.
- Sustaining Economic life & empowering women:
- Helping the islanders, especially women, generate income is important considering that the islands have limited resources, mostly in the form of coconut and tuna fish.
- Fishing virtually comes to a halt during the monsoon season, shutting out a key economic activity.
- However, ornamental fish aquaculture is expected to sustain the rhythm of economic life in the islands.
- Environment friendly:
- The experiment in community-based breeding and sale of ornamental fish has been turned into an environment-friendly one, using coconut fronds and leaves as well as deploying solar panels.
More about Ornamental fish farming in India
- Ornamental fish culture is the culture of attractive, colourful fishes of various characteristics, which are reared in a confined aquatic system.
- There is a great demand for exotic species due to its colour, shape and appearance.
- Economic contribution:
- o India’s ornamental fishes account for approximately 1 percent of the global ornamental fish trade.
- In 2020-21, 54 tonnes of these fishes will be exported at a total value of 13,08 crores of Indian rupees.
- It increased by 66.55% in terms of quantity and by 20.59% in terms of INR value.
- Growth potential:
- India has great potential in the production of ornamental fish due to the following factors: the presence of a diverse array of species; favourable climatic conditions; and the availability of inexpensive labour.
- Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal are the states in India with the most ornamental fish farming.
- Roughly ninety percent of native species (eighty-five percent from northeast India) are collected and bred to satisfy export demand.
India, Italy to elevate ties to Strategic Partnership
- GS 2 India & Foreign Relations
- Recently, Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni visited India after a gap of nearly five years.
- The two countries have decided to take the relationship forward by elevating India?Italy partnership to the level of strategic partnership.
- Identifying defence as an important pillar in the relationship, both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on defense cooperation.The MOU focuses on three areas:
- Strong cooperation in the fields of manufacturing, co-production, co-design, co-innovation.
- expansion and deepening of military exercises to all levels in the armed forces
- maritime cooperation
- A Declaration of Intent was signed between the two countries on the migration and mobility partnership agreement.
- Italy joined the IPOI, Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative,signalling the need for stronger co-operation in the indo-Pacific.
- Both nations announced a start-up bridge to give momentum to economic ties
India-Italy Bilateral Relations
- India and Italy are ancient civilizations but young states. Based on common interests like rule based international order, India and Italy have enjoyed a cordial relationship.
- Political relations between India and Italy were established in 1947.
- The two countries enjoy cordial relationships. There has been a regular exchange of visits at political and official levels between both countries.
- Italy has supported India’s membership to export control regimes like the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Australia Group.
- Trade and Investment:
- Italy is one of India’s top five EU trading partners. The trade balance has been in India’s favour since the early 1980s.
- In 2021, the two nations signed a Strategic Partnership on Energy Transition to advance their cooperation in areas such as green hydrogen and biofuels.
- India invited Italy to collaborate on ‘Make in India’ and ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’, with a focus on renewable energy, green hydrogen, IT, telecom, and space, among other sectors.
- Italy has also joined the successful India-France-led International Solar Alliance, which consists of more than 90 members.
- Cultural Exchange:
- The cultural cooperation agreement was signed in 1976.
- A new Agreement replaced it in July 2004.
- The Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) between Italy and India includes student exchanges in language and other academic courses.
- Scientific Cooperation:
- An Agreement on S&T Co-operation has existed since 1978.
- The Agreement envisages three yearly action plans under which a maximum of thirty joint research projects can be undertaken.
- This agreement was replaced by one signed in Nov 2003.
- India-Italy Science and Technology Cooperation(JSTC) has been actively promoting cooperation through joint project proposals.
- Defence cooperation has traditionally been an important pillar of India-Italy relations. An MOU on Defence Cooperation was signed in November 1994.
- The Indian Army has a historical connection with Italy.
- India also welcomed Italy’s engagement in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and Italy’s new status as a Development Partner of ASEAN
- The navies of both countries regularly co-operate in anti-piracy missions.
- Italy is one of India’s top five EU trading partners (currently fourth). The trade balance has been in India’s favour since the early 1980s. Italy is an export-oriented economy and the second-largest manufacturer in Europe, which places a premium on secure supply chains, maritime routes connecting Asia to Europe, and rules-based trade.
- India, as a strong power in the indo-pacific region, can use this to her advantage.
- the current italian government is concerned about china. India can use Italy to influence the European Union.
- Lack of separate Frame works:India does not have a separate trade agreement with Italy like it has for England . engagement with Italy is under the umbrella of EU
- Saddled by incidents: Incidents like treatment of Italian Marines, Cancellation of VVIP chopper deal have worn down the relationship.
- India’s partnership with Italy is gaining strength on all levels—political, economic, and strategic. PM Meloni’s recent visit would further boost ties while also adding fodder to the reinvigorated EU-India partnership. For India-Italy relations, the future is likely to be bright and progressive.
|India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI)
• It is an open, non-treaty-based initiative for countries to collaborate on cooperative and collaborative solutions to regional problems. Initially proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the fourteenth East Asian Summit.
· Maritime Resources
· Maritime Security
· Maritime Ecology
· Capacity Building and
· Resource Sharing
SC’s judgment on the appointment of Election Commissioners
- GS 2 Polity and Governance
- A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court directed in a landmark judgment that Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (ECs) will be appointed by the President on the advice tendered by a committee of the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India (CJI).
- Chief Election Commissioners and Election Commissioners have so far been appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.
- The judgment has now brought the appointment process of Chief Election Commissioners and Election Commissioners on par with that of the CBI Director.
- The high-powered committee would continue to advise the President on the appointment until the Parliament enacts a law on the appointment process of Election Commissioners.
- The move is aimed at insulating the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and election commissioners from the Executive’s interference.
The Election Commission of India
- It is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.
- It was established in accordance with the Constitution in 1950.
- It administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.
- Originally the commission had only a Chief Election Commissioner. It currently consists of Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.
- For the first time, two additional Commissioners were appointed in 1989 but they had a very short tenure till 1st January 1990.
- Later, on 1st October 1993, two additional Election Commissioners were appointed.
- The concept of a multi-member Commission has been in operation since then, with decision-making power by majority vote.
Appointment & Tenure of Commissioners
- The President appoints the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners.
- Their tenure is six years or until they reach the age of 65, whichever comes first.
- They enjoy the same status, salary, and perks as the Supreme Court Judges of India.
- The only way to remove the Chief Election Commissioner from office is through impeachment by Congress.
Power and Functions
- All Election Commissioners have equal say in the decision-making of the Commission.
- Political parties are registered with the Election Commission under the law.
- The Commission ensures inner party democracy in their functioning by insisting upon them holding their organizational elections at periodic intervals.
- Political Parties so registered with it are granted recognition at the State and National levels by the Election Commission on the basis of their poll performance at general elections according to criteria prescribed by it.
- The Commission, as a part of its quasi-judicial jurisdiction, also settles disputes between the splinter groups of such recognised parties.
- Election Commission ensures a level playing field for the political parties in the election fray, through strict observance by them of a Model Code of Conduct evolved with the consensus of political parties.
- The decisions of the Commission can be challenged in the High Court and the Supreme Court of India by appropriate petitions.
Battle of Bakhmut
- GS 2 India & Foreign Relations
The Ukrainian military may choose to withdraw troops from the strategic stronghold of Bakhmut.
Image Courtesy: the guardian.
Battle of Bakhmut
- Bakhmut is a small mining town in the eastern Ukrainian province of Donetsk.
- Bakhmut is currently in ruins, having been the target of Russian attacks and the site of dogged Ukrainian military defence.
Importance of Bakhmut:
- Bakhmut is close to multiple important roads, which may be of strategic importance to the Russian advance.
- It’s an important transport hub, many supply lines pass through there, and Russia could use it as a base.
- Beyond its limited strategic value, the town has become a symbol for the war itself, guiding both sides’ unyielding determination to control it.
Wagner Group’s political interests
A shadowy private militia, the Wagner Group, has been in charge of Bakhmut operations.
Wagner’s Bakhmut campaign was political in nature, serving as a means to ascend to power and prominence in Moscow.Impacts
- Regardless of the outcome of the battle, Bakhmut remains a grim symbol for the war, where political ambitions, strategic interests, and notions of honour have resulted in thousands of deaths, tens of thousands of injuries, the displacement of millions, and the destruction of a large portion of Ukraine.
SC Panel on Adani Issue
GS 2 Governance
- The Supreme Court has recently established a five-person expert committee to investigate the possibility of regulatory failure in the Hindenburg Adani saga.
- The Supreme Court appointed Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, a former apex court judge, to head a committee to evaluate the regulatory framework. The committee’s mandate is to:
- provide an overall assessment of the situation, including the relevant factors that led to the volatility in the securities market;
- suggest measures to strengthen Indian investor awareness;
- investigate any regulatory failure in dealing with the alleged rule-breaking by the Adani Group of companies;
- suggest measures to strengthen the statutory and regulatory framework and ensure compliance with the existing framework for the securities market; and
- investigate any regulatory failure in dealing with the alleged rule-breaking by the Adani Group of companies.
- Late in January, Hindenburg Research, a firm that specialises in short selling, released a report that was critical of the Adani group’s financial situation.
- It was reported that key listed companies within the group had “substantial debt,” putting the entire group on “precarious financial footing.”
- It accused the conglomerate led by Adani of “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud over decades.”
- Just prior to a Rs 20,000 crore (USD 2.5 billion) follow-on public offering (FPO) by Adani Group’s flagship company Adani Enterprises, the report was released.
- Following the release of the report, shares of Adani companies plummeted before recovering slightly.
This resulted in the seven listed firms losing approximately fifty percent of their market value, or more than one hundred billion dollars combined.
The market value of the listed Adani firms has decreased to USD 108 billion from USD 218 billion before Hindenburg’s report.
- The Adani Group cancelled the Rs 20,000 crore initial public offering (FPO) of Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL) and stated that it would refund the investors’ money.
- The formation of the committee follows a concerted effort by the opposition to demand an investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) or under the supervision of the Chief Justice of India into allegations of fraud and stock manipulation.
Frozen Semen Project Ranbir Bagh
- GS 2 Government Policies & Interventions
- Recently, the Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying laid the foundation stone of Frozen Semen station in Ranbir Bagh, Ganderbal district of Jammu & Kashmir.
- The Frozen Semen Station will enable Kashmir province to be self-sufficient in the production of high-quality and disease-free germ plasm to be used for Artificial Insemination coverage.
- It was established under the INDO-DANISH project in the year 1980.
- The strengthening of this project is sanctioned under RGM(Rashtriya Gokul Mission ) scheme which aims to produce 10.95 Lac frozen semen doses by the year 2025-26.
National Youth Parliament Festival (NYPF) 2023
- GS 2 Government Policies & Interventions
- The 4th National Youth Parliament Festival (NYPF) kicked off recently in the Central Hall of Parliament.
- Ideas for a Better Tomorrow: India for the World
- More than 2.01 Lakh youth from 748 Districts of all States and UTs participated at 150 venues across the country.
- to hear the voice of the youth.
- strengthening democracy and enabling the student community to understand the working of Parliament.
National Youth Parliament Festival (NYPF)
- The NYPF is based on the concept presented by the Prime Minister in his Mann Ki Baat address; • District Youth Parliaments are also held under this programme.
- They are carried out on three levels:
- a) District Youth Parliament (DYP): A jury conducts preliminary screening rounds to select youth for participation in the DYP.
- b) State Youth Parliament (SYP): Youth chosen by a Jury from the District Youth Parliament serve in SYP at the State level.
- c) National Youth Parliament (NYP): The youth chosen by a jury from the State Youth Parliament participate in NYP in New Delhi at the national level.
- The first edition of NYPF 2019 was held with the theme “Be the Voice of New India, Find Solutions, and Contribute to Policy” with the participation of 88,000 young people in physical mode.
Forest Conservation Rules (FCR) (2022)
- GS 3 Biodiversity and Environment
- The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has obtained FRA (Forest Rights Act) implementation reports from all Indian States and Union Territories by invoking its constitutional authority to directly petition the Supreme Court of India.
- Following the introduction of the FCR 2022, the NCST requested in a letter to the Environment Ministry that they be paused because they will invariably violate FRA provisions.
- In response, the Environment Ministry insisted that the rules were formulated in accordance with the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 and that the NCST’s concern that these rules violated the FRA was “not legally tenable.”
- In a letter to the Supreme Court, the ST Commission requested all documents related to a batch of petitions challenging the constitutionality of the FRA.
- The Commission intends to review the overall ground-level implementation of the FRA.
What are Forest Conservation Rules 2022?
- The FC Rules, 2022 do not require the collector to obtain Gram Sabha approval prior to the approval in principle.
- This means that the Union Government can give its final approval and then leave it to the state government to issue a de-reservation, diversion, or assignment order. It is now the responsibility of the state government to settle the claims of forest dwellers. Before granting approval in principle, neither Gram Sabha approval nor collector oversight of the process of recognising and vesting individual forest rights claims is required.
- Those applying to divert forest land in a hilly or mountainous state with a green cover of more than two-thirds of its geographical area or a state/UT with a forest cover of more than one-third of its geographical area may engage in compensatory afforestation in other states/UTs where the cover is less than twenty percent.
- The new regulations permit private parties to use land for plantations, which may result in monoculture cultivation.
Criticism of the new Rules
- The FC Rules, 2022 strip forest dwellers of their right to participate in a process that affects their land and forest rights, their culture, and their way of life.
- According to the new rules, Gram Sabhas and FRA come into effect only after the Central Government has given its final approval.
Forest Rights Act, 2006
- The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 – more commonly known as the Forest Rights Act (FRA) – recognises the rights of forest dwellers and the significance of their participation in forest management processes.
- It also represents a departure from the colonial-era notion that forest-dwelling communities are isolated entities that prey on forests.
- The act is predicated on the idea that communities are an integral part of forest ecosystems.
- Gram Sabha is an important component of the act’s tools for achieving its purpose.
- To rectify the historical injustice committed against forest-dwelling communities
- To ensure the land tenure, livelihood, and food security of forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest-dwellers
- To strengthen the conservation regime of the forests by incorporating the responsibilities and authority of Forest Rights holders for sustainable use, conservation of biodiversity, and maintenance of ecological balance
|National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
· Powers of the Commission: For Investigation and Inquiry, the Commission is vested with the powers of a civil court, including the authority to:
· Summon and compel attendance of any person and examine under oath;
· Discovery & production of any documents;
· Receive evidence on affidavits;
· Requisition any public record or copy thereof from a court or office;
· Issue Commissions for examination of witnesses and documents;
· and o Any other matter that the President, by rule