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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 14 Aug 2017


Insights Daily Current Affairs, 14 Aug 2017


Paper 2:


Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Is generic drug deflation good?


Amid the public fury over the escalating costs of brand-name medications, the prices of generic drugs have been falling, raising fears about the profitability of major generic manufacturers. This may seem like good news for consumers, but it’s unclear how much they will save.


What are generic drugs?

A generic drug is identical — or bioequivalent — to a brand name drug in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics and intended use. Although generic drugs are chemically identical to their branded counterparts, they are typically sold at substantial discounts from the branded price.


What exactly is the difference between a generic drug and brand- name drug?

When a company develops a new drug — often after years of research — it applies for a patent, which prohibits anyone else from making the drug for a fixed period. To recover the cost of research and development, companies usually price their brand- name drugs on the higher side. Once the patent expires, other manufacturers duplicate and market their own versions of the drug. Since the manufacture of these generic drugs do not involve a repeat of the extensive clinical trials to prove their safety and efficacy, it costs less to develop them. Generic drugs are, therefore, cheaper.

However, because the compounds in the generic versions have the same molecular structure as the brand-name version, their quality is essentially the same. The generic drug has the same “active ingredient” as the brand-name drug. This ingredient is the one that cures the patient; and other, “inert ingredients”, which give the drug its colour, shape or taste, vary from the brand-name drug to the generics. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration notes that the cost of a generic drug is 80% to 85% lower than the brand-name product on average.


Why are prices falling?

Generic drugs are copycat versions of brand-name products and — to a point — their prices are expected to drop over time. When a brand-name drug first loses its patent protection, prices fall slowly. Over the next couple of years, as more competitors enter the market, the prices drop even more, until the pills become commodities and sell for pennies.

The trend toward deflating generic prices appears to have accelerated as companies have more aggressively undercut each other’s prices. Making matters worse for the generics companies, they are missing out on peak profit potential because not as many brand-name products are losing patent protection.


So are consumers saving any money?

The declining prices are broadly beneficial to the health care system, and may put some slight brake on rising premiums. But most of those with health insurance pay a fixed co-payment — $10, for example — for each generic prescription, and therefore don’t pay more or less, regardless of any fluctuation in the actual price. And even those who pay cash for generics may not notice a drop in price because many are already cheap.


What’s the concern?

Generic manufacturers say lower prices could put pressure on profits and threaten the viability of the companies. This could lead to a wave of mergers and acquisitions, reducing competition and leading to higher prices.


Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.


Telemedicine: Odisha shows the way


A telemedicine project started by an Odisha-based social entrepreneur is slowly going national after the Central government adopted it as a model project two years ago.


About the project:

Through this micro-entrepreneurship programme the government attempts to tackle two problems- unemployment and bad health.

  • Started in 2009, the unique model that focusses on sustainability involves training of local youth in e-medicine services and enables them to set up e-health centres in government-run primary health-care centres (PHC), community health centres (CHC) and subdivisional hospitals. These centres have created job opportunities for over 500 youth in Odisha and reached out to over five lakh patients.
  • Under the project, local youth are trained for a month in an e-health assistance programme, after which they can apply for a bank loan to start an e-health centre in PHCs and CHCs. On average, the cost of starting a telemedicine centre goes up to ₹6 lakh. A centre needs a staff of four people, including the entrepreneur.
  • Typically, a centre is equipped with a laptop with video camera and basic diagnostic testing facilities like blood glucose meter, urine analyser, heart rate monitor, etc. So far, 127 such centres have been opened in Odisha at the village and district level.
  • The revenue comes from charges for tests and tele-consultation fees. In case patients are covered under any health scheme for the poor, these charges are borne by the scheme. The charges for tests and consultation are fixed by the government; a basic consultation costs ₹100 while that with a super-specialist costs ₹300.
  • At no cost to the government, these centres help in offering basic testing facilities. Patients suspected to have major illness get the benefit of the telecommunication facility for consultations with senior doctors. These telemedicine centres also create a database of personal health records of every patient walking in for future reference.


Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.


India, China to join Indian Ocean exercise


Indian Navy will be joining the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in a maiden maritime search and rescue exercise to be chaired by Bangladesh at the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) in November this year.



Bangladesh, the current Chair, is scheduling a maiden International Maritime Search and Rescue Exercise (IMMSAREX) in November in the Bay of Bengal to be attended by ships and aircraft of the members and observers of the IONS.


What you need to know about IONS?

The IONS is a regional forum of Indian Ocean littoral states, represented by their Navy chiefs, launched by India in February 2008. It presently has 23 members and nine observers.

  • It is a voluntary initiative that seeks to increase maritime co-operation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region by providing an open and inclusive forum for discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues and, in the process, endeavors to generate a flow of information between naval professionals that would lead to common understanding and possibly agreements on the way ahead.
  • Under the charter of business adopted in 2014, the grouping has working groups on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), Information Security and Interoperability (IS&I) and anti-piracy now renamed as maritime security.


Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.


India, Russia to hold mega war games in October


In the midst of evolving security situation in the region, India and Russia will hold a mega war game in October involving their armies, navies and the air forces for the first time to further ramp up military ties.


Key facts:

  • The exercise Indra, which will be held in Russia in October, will primarily focus on achieving coordination between forces of the two countries in a tri-services integrated theatre command scenario.
  • It will be for the first time India will participate in a tri-services exercise with a foreign country with such a large scale participation by the Navy, the Army and the Air Force.
  • A total of 350 Indian Army personnel will participate at the mega exercise and the contingent will be led by a major- general rank official. The contingents by the Navy and the IAF will also be sizeable in numbers.



The exercise is taking place at a time when India’s ties with China have nosedived due to the simmering border dispute and its ties with Pakistan have deteriorated over cross-border terrorism and number of other issues.


Sources: et.


Paper  3:


Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

GIS-enabled portal maps land-related information


The Centre has brought out an online database of more than half a million hectares of land assisting industry. The Geographic Information System-enabled database also has details of close to 3,000 industrial parks/clusters, as well as area-wise availability of agricultural/horticultural crops, and mineral production.

  • The database is being developed by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and the National e-Governance Division in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology as well as the BISAG – an institute for space applications and geo-informatics under the Gujarat Government.
  • The exercise is to eliminate the information asymmetry that is currently adversely affecting the country’s industrial policy-making and investments in the manufacturing sector.



It currently has specific area-wise details in each state on industrial parks/clusters, the focus sectors, common facilities available for industry, industrial land in use and available industrial land etc. The database also has information on the distance from airport/port to each industrial area/cluster and a satellite map view of the area. Data is available on agricultural crops such as fibre crops, food grains, oilseeds, plantation crops, pulses and spices, and horticultural crops, including most fruits and vegetables. Also available are the details of mineral production.

The portal will soon incorporate information on warehouses, power-grid and financial institutions as well as the demand for industrial infrastructure captured on the basis of applications from entrepreneurs for projects.


What is GIS?

Geographic Information Systems is a computer-based tool that analyzes, stores, manipulates and visualizes geographic information, usually in a map. GIS can refer to a number of different technologies, processes, and methods. It is attached to many operations and has many applications related to engineering, planning, management, transport/logistics, insurance, telecommunications, and business. For that reason, GIS and location intelligence applications can be the foundation for many location-enabled services that rely on analysis and visualization.


Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

‘Gaj Yatra’ to mark World Elephant Day 2017


‘Gaj Yatra’, a nationwide campaign to protect elephants, was launched on the occasion of World Elephant Day. The campaign is planned to cover 12 elephant range states. The elephant is part of India’s animal heritage and the Government celebrates this day to spread awareness about the conservation of the species.

  • The 15 months campaign will be led by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). The campaign aims to create awareness about elephant corridors to encourage free movement in their habitat.



World Elephant Day is an annual global event celebrated across the world on August 12, dedicated to the preservation and protection of elephants. The goal of World Elephant Day is to create awareness about the plight of elephants and to share knowledge and positive solutions for the better care and management of captive and wild elephants.

  • African elephants are listed as “vulnerable” and Asian elephants as “endangered” in the IUCN Red List of threatened species. As per the available population estimates, there are about 400,000 African elephants and 40,000 Asian elephants.
  • World Elephant Day is celebrated to focus the attention of various stakeholders in supporting various conservation policies to help protect elephants, including improving enforcement policies to prevent illegal poaching and trade in ivory, conserving elephant habitats, providing better treatment for captive elephants and reintroducing captive elephants into sanctuaries.


Sources: pib.


Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.


Indian Coast Guard ship ‘Shaurya’ commissioned in Goa


Indian Coast Guard ship “Shaurya”, the fifth in the series of six 105-metre offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), was recently commissioned in Goa.


Key facts:

  • The OPV, which draws 2,350 tonne and is propelled by 9100 kilowatt diesel engine, has been designed and built indigenously by Goa Shipyard Ltd and is fitted with state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment, sensors and machineries.
  • The features include 30mm CRN 91 Naval Gun, integrated bridge system, integrated machinery control system, power management system and high-power external fire fighting system.
  • The ship is designed to carry one twin engine light helicopter and five high-speed boats, including two quick reaction inflatable boats for swift boarding operations, search and rescue, law enforcement and maritime patrol. The ship is also capable of carrying pollution response equipment to contain oil spill at sea.


Sources: pib.


Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.

Authorised joint secretary can order suspension of telecom services


The Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency and Public Safety) Rules, 2017 have been notified by the government.



The government often suspends telecom services in disturbed areas with an aim to maintain law and order. However, no comprehensive guidelines were in place to deal with such situations. This had created confusion among the law enforcing agencies.


Important guidelines:

  • It authorises Union and state home secretary to order suspension of telecom services in a given area in case of emergency.
  • Under unavoidable circumstances, where obtaining of prior direction is not feasible, such order may be issued by an officer, not below the rank of a joint secretary to the Government of India, who has been duly authorised by the Union home secretary or the state home secretary.
  • The order issued by officer authorised by either Union or state home secretary will have to be approved from the competent authority within 24 hours of such issuance and in failure of approval confirmation, the suspension order will cease to exist.
  • According to the rules, a copy of any order issued for suspension of telecom services needs to be forwarded to a three-member review committee within 24 hours along with the reason.
  • In the case of centre, the committee will be chaired by the Cabinet secretary and the state level review committee will be headed by chief secretary of the state.
  • The new rules make it binding for the committee to meet and review the order within five working days from the date the order is issued.
  • The rules also laid down that the order for suspension of telecom services will have to be communicated by an officer not below the superintendent of police or of equivalent rank in writing or by secure electronic communication to an authorised officer.


Sources: the hindu.