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  • 30 Sep 2020
  • 36 min read
International Relations

Green Strategic Partnership between India and Denmark

Why in News

India and the Kingdom of Denmark have launched the Green Strategic Partnership for delivering sustainable solutions to India.

  • The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Intellectual Property (IP) Cooperation with Denmark.

Key Points

  • Green Strategic Partnership:
    • The Partnership will focus on expanding economic ties, green growth, and cooperation on global challenges such as climate change.
      • Green growth is a term to describe a path of economic growth that uses natural resources in a sustainable manner.
    • Danish companies with niche technologies and expertise have offered to help India in meeting its air pollution control targets, including in the key area of tackling the problem of burning crop stubble.
    • Other key points under the partnership include dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and cooperation in water efficiency and water loss.
    • The creation of India-Denmark energy parks in areas with large numbers of Danish firms and an India-Denmark skill institute to train Indian manpower has been proposed.
    • The Green Strategic Partnership will build on an existing Joint Commission for Cooperation and existing joint working groups.
  • Intellectual Property Cooperation:
    • The MoU aims at increasing IP co-operation between the two countries by way of, exchange of information and best practices on processes for disposal of applications for patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and Geographical Indications, and cooperation in the field of protection of Traditional Knowledge.
    • It will be a landmark step forward in India’s journey towards becoming a major player in global innovation and further the objectives of the National Intellectual Property Rights Policy, 2016.
  • India Denmark Relationship:
    • India and Denmark had signed a Joint Commission for Cooperation in February 2009 for cooperation in politics, economics and commerce, science and technology, energy, environment, and education.
    • They have joint working groups on Shipping; Food, Agriculture and Fisheries; Environment, Biotechnology; New and Renewable Energy; and Labour Mobility.
    • Currently, over 140 Danish companies are participating in the Make in India initiative.
    • However, the relations got affected due to the non-extradition of the main accused of the Purulia arms drop case (Kim Davy) to India by Danish Officials.
      • Purulia arms drop case, 1995: Unauthorised arms were dropped from an aircraft in Purulia district in the state of West Bengal in India.
      • In the recent meeting for Green Strategic Partnership, both sides agreed that concerned officials will work for an early resolution of the matter.
    • India has also invited Denmark to join the supply chain resilience initiative, which is proposed between Japan, Australia to diversify supply chains and reduce dependence on any one nation.

Denmark

  • Location: It is an archipelago of more than 400 islands to the east of the Jutland peninsula in Europe.
  • Flag: 
  • Capital: Copenhagen
  • Currency: Danish krone
  • People: Mostly inhabited by ethnic Danes.
  • Languages: Danish is official.
  • Religions: Catholic Christians, Jews.
  • Government: The Kingdom of Denmark is a unitary state.
    • In addition to Denmark proper, two autonomous territories in the North Atlantic Ocean: Greenland and the Faroe Islands.
    • It establishes a sovereign state in the form of a constitutional monarchy, with a representative parliamentary system.
    • The Danish parliament is unicameral and called the Folketing.
  • Others: Denmark ranked 1st in Digital Quality of Life 2020, Corruption Perceptions Index 2019, Environmental Performance Index 2020, Global Social Mobility Index 2020. It also ranked in the top 10 in the most powerful passports in 2020 and was one of the most peaceful countries according to the Global Peace Index 2019.

Way Forward

  • India and Denmark have shared values of human rights, democracy, and rule of law and they must cooperate in multilateral fora like the World Trade Organization, International Solar Alliance, Arctic Council to advance democracy and human rights and promote a rule-based multilateral system.
  • The Green Strategic Partnership is a mutually beneficial arrangement to advance political cooperation, expand economic relations and green growth, create jobs, and strengthen cooperation on addressing global challenges and opportunities; with a focus on an ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Source: TH


Indian Polity

Federalism and Emerging Challenges

Why in News

Recently, several states have complained about the growing crisis of Indian federalism. They have argued about the Ordinances and the Bills brought by the Centre which encroaches on their area of legislation, which is an assault on the federal structure of the Constitution.

Key Points

  • Federal Issues Raised by States:
    • The refusal of the Central government of its legal commitment to compensate for Goods and Services Tax (GST) shortfall on account of lower revenue.
      • The Centre argued that the lower revenues are the result of an “act of God” for which it cannot be held responsible.
      • As per the GST Act, states are guaranteed compensation for any revenue shortfall below 14% growth (base year 2015-16) for the first five years ending 2022.
    • Centre transgressing into the powers of the state government. E.g
      • The recent Farm Acts which allow farmers to sell their produce outside the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) and aim to promote inter-state trade. However, the Acts encroach upon the State list.
        • Entry 33 of the Concurrent List mentions trade and commerce, production, supply and distribution of domestic and imported products of an industry; foodstuffs, including oilseeds and oils; cattle fodder; raw cotton and jute.
        • However, if foodstuffs are considered synonymous with agriculture, then all the powers of states in respect of agriculture, listed so elaborately in the Constitution, shall become redundant.
        • The Parliament cannot legislate a law in respect of agricultural produce and markets under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution because agriculture and markets are State subjects.
      • The amendment in banking regulations by bringing cooperative banks under the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) supervision.
        • Cooperative societies come under the State list i.e. list 2 of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India.
  • Provisions Related to Federalism:
    • Nations are described as ‘federal’ or ‘unitary’, depending on the way in which governance is organised.
      • Federalism essentially means both the Centre and states have the freedom to operate in their allotted spheres of power, in coordination with each other.
      • In the unitary system all powers of the Government are centralized in one Government that is Central Government.
    • In the State of West Bengal vs Union of India (1962), the Supreme Court held that the Indian Constitution is not federal.
    • However, in S R Bommai vs Union of India (1994), a nine-judge Bench of Supreme Court held federalism a part of the basic structure of the Constitution.
      • It stated neither the legislative entries in Seventh Schedule, nor the fiscal control by the Union per se are decisive to conclude the Constitution is unitary. The respective legislative powers of states and Centre are traceable to Articles 245 to 254.
      • The Court has observed that Indian federation differs from the USA significantly. Indian Parliament has the power to admit new States (Article 2), create new States, alter their boundaries and their names, and unite or divide the States (Article 3).
        • Recently, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) State was converted into two Union Territories - J&K and Ladakh.
      • The concurrence of States is not needed for the formation and unmaking of States and Union Territories.
      • Further, the court noted the existence of several provisions of the Constitution that allow the Centre to override the powers of the States e.g. legislation on a Concurrent List.
      • Even though the States are sovereign in their prescribed legislative field, and their executive power is co-extensive with their legislative powers, it is clear that the powers of the States are not coordinated with the Union. This is why the Constitution is often described as ‘quasi-federal’.
    • The Seventh Schedule of the Constitution contains three lists that distribute power between the Centre and states (Article 246).
      • There are 98 subjects (originally 97) in the Union List, on which Parliament has exclusive power to legislate.
      • The State List has 59 subjects (originally 66) on which states alone can legislate.
      • The Concurrent List has 52 subjects (originally 47) on which both the Centre and states can legislate,
        • In case of a conflict, the law made by Parliament prevails (Article 254).
  • Mechanism to Solve Dispute:
    • The Supreme Court has used two mechanisms to solve the dispute between Centre and states over the entry list in Seventh Schedule. The mechanisms are Doctrine of Pith and Substance and Doctrine of Colourable Legislation.
    • The Doctrine of Pith and Substance says that the constitutionality of legislation is upheld if it is largely covered by one list and touches upon the other list only incidentally.
      • The doctrine relates to finding out the true nature of a statute.
      • Pith denotes the ‘essence of something’ or the ‘true nature’, while substance states the most significant or essential part of something.
    • The Doctrine of Colourable Legislation tests the competence of the legislature against an enacted law. This doctrine states the fact that what cannot be done directly, cannot also be done indirectly.
      • The doctrine restricts the overstretching of the constituted power of the legislature in a disguised, covert or indirect manner.

Way Forward

  • A diverse and large country like India requires a proper balance between the pillars of federalism, i.e. autonomy of states, national integration, centralisation, decentralisation, nationalisation, and regionalisation.
    • Extreme political centralisation or chaotic political decentralisation can both lead to the weakening of Indian federalism.
  • Reforms at the institutional and political level can deepen the roots of federalism in India. e.g.
    • The contentious role of the Governor in suppressing the states for the Centre’s interest needs to be reviewed.
    • Proper utilisation of the institutional mechanism of the Inter-state Council must be ensured to develop political goodwill between the Centre and the states on contentious policy issues.
    • The gradual widening of the fiscal capacity of the states has to be legally guaranteed without reducing the Centre’s share.

Source: IE


Governance

PMNCH Accountability Breakfast

Why in News

The Union Ministry for Health and Family Welfare participated in the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) ‘Accountability Breakfast’ (an annual event) to discuss the issues of maternal and child health.

  • The event was co-hosted by the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) and Every Woman Every Child (EWEC).
  • Theme of the Event: Protecting gains in Reproductive, Maternal and Child Health from the Covid pandemic.

PMNCH

  • The Partnership (PMNCH) is a global health partnership founded in 2005.
  • It is hosted at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland which joins the maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) communities into an alliance.
  • The Accountability Breakfast aims to convert talk into action for the health and rights of women, children and adolescents.

The White Ribbon Alliance

  • WRA is a nonpartisan, non-profit and non-governmental membership organization that aims to decrease maternal and newborn death globally.
  • Founded in 1999 and same year it came to India as WRA India
  • Headquarters: Washington, D.C., USA

‘Every Woman Every Child’ (EWEC) Movement

  • It was launched by the United Nations during the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit in September 2010.
  • Every Woman Every Child is an unprecedented global movement that mobilizes and intensifies international and national action by governments, the private sector, and civil society to address the major health challenges facing women, children, and adolescents around the world.

Key Points

  • Indian Government Initiatives during Covid-19 Pandemic:
    • At the national level, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued guidance to the States to ensure that women, children and adolescents continue to get all the healthcare services even under severe strain due to Covid pandemic.
    • The government has tried to reduce out-of-pocket expenditure through its policy of no denial for essential services, like-
      • Reproductive Maternal Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH): It was launched in 2013 to address the major causes of mortality among women and children as well as the delays in accessing and utilizing health care and services.
      • Tuberculosis, chemotherapy, dialysis and healthcare of the elderly, irrespective of the Covid-19 status.
  • Government Initiatives related to Maternal and Child Health:
  • Reproductive Rights: A woman's choice during maternal care reckoned that maternity care goes much beyond healthcare services, also including dignity, privacy, confidentiality, choice and respect for her as well as her baby.
    • India’s Zero-tolerance approach: For service denial to pregnant women and their new-born babies.
    • Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act:
      • PCPNDT Act was enacted in 1994 and amended in 2003 and is an important tool for addressing sex-selective eliminations.
      • Objectives: To ban the use of sex selection techniques before or after conception and prevent the misuse of a prenatal diagnostic technique for sex-selective abortion.
    • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971
      • The Act provides for termination up to 20 weeks. If an unwanted pregnancy has proceeded beyond 20 weeks, women have to approach a medical board and courts to seek permission for termination, which is extremely difficult and cumbersome. For this a new bill to amend the MTP Act is under the consideration of the Parliament.

Way Forward

  • The idea should be to have a fully responsive and accountable health system that will not only result in a positive birthing experience but also help end preventable maternal and newborn deaths.
  • Need for the strengthened system for client feedback, grievance redressal and greater accountability and transparency.

Source: PIB


Science & Technology

Congo Fever Alert in Maharashtra

Why in News

The Palghar administration has asked authorities to remain alert against a possible spread of the Congo fever in the Maharashtra district.

Key Points

  • Background: Congo fever was first discovered in Crimea in 1944 and was named Crimean hemorrhagic fever.
    • Later in 1969, scientists discovered that the pathogen responsible for causing Crimean hemorrhagic fever and the one that caused illness in Congo in 1956 was the same.
    • Hence, the name changed to Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.
  • Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF):
    • Cause: The CCHF is a widespread disease caused by a tick-borne virus (Nairovirus) of the Bunyaviridae family.
    • Transmission:
      • The virus is transmitted through bite of Hyalomma tick, an external parasite, living by feeding on the blood of mammals, birds etc.
      • It can also be contracted through contact with viraemic animal tissues (animal tissue where the virus has entered the bloodstream) during and immediately post-slaughter of animals.
    • Human-to-human transmission: It can occur resulting from close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected persons.
      • Hospital-acquired infections can also occur due to improper sterilisation of medical equipment, reuse of needles and contamination of medical supplies.
    • Fatality: CCHF outbreaks constitute a threat to public health services as the virus can lead to epidemics, with a high case fatality ratio (10-40%).
      • Case fatality rate (CFR) is a measure of the severity of a disease and is defined as the proportion of cases of a specified disease or condition which are fatal within a specified time.
    • CCHF is endemic in all of Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and in Asia.
    • Symptoms:
      • Fever, muscle ache, dizziness, neck pain, backache, headache, sore eyes and photophobia (sensitivity to light).
      • There may be nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and sore throat early on, followed by sharp mood swings, confusion, depression and liver enlargement.
  • Treatment:
    • General supportive care with treatment of symptoms is the main approach to managing CCHF in people.
    • The antiviral drug ribavirin has been used to treat CCHF infection with apparent benefit.
    • There are no vaccines widely available for human or animal use.

Source: IE


Governance

Suspension of Amnesty International Operations in India

Why in News

Amnesty International India has halted its human rights operations in India due to the freezing of its bank accounts by the Government of India.

Key Points

  • Argument by Amnesty: It has alleged that the government has frozen its bank accounts due to repeated calls for transparency and against the human rights violations in the country.
    • The European Union (EU) has also expressed its concerns against the action of the government citing the valued work of Amnesty International worldwide.
    • Recently, Amnesty International (AI) India had demanded an independent investigation into all allegations of human rights violations by the police during the north-east Delhi riots and the establishment of the National Commission for Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Argument by the Government: The government has accused Amnesty of defying the law of the land.
    • India doesn't allow interference in domestic political debates by entities funded by foreign donations. This law applies equally to all and it shall apply to Amnesty International as well.
    • In order to circumvent the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 (FCRA) regulations, Amnesty UK remitted large amounts of money to four entities registered in India, by classifying it as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
    • A significant amount of foreign money was also remitted to Amnesty (India) without approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs under FCRA. This rerouting of money was in contravention of extant legal provisions.
  • Background: In the past five years, the government has taken action against several foreign donors including Compassion International, World Movement for Democracy (WMD), Greenpeace, etc on grounds of FCRA violations.
  • New Rules for NGOs under FCRA amendment, 2020:
    • The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020 was passed by the Parliament amending Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.
    • In order to receive foreign funds, an NGO has to register with the Ministry of Home Affairs. It is assigned a unique FCRA registration number, to be renewed every five years.
    • Every FCRA-registered NGO will have to open an FCRA-marked bank account with a designated branch of State Bank of India in New Delhi.
    • The cap on administrative expenses has been lowered from 50% of foreign funds received to 20%.
    • It prohibits the transfer of foreign grants received by an entity to a partner organisation or an associated person, which is a usual practice.
    • Criticism: This has been criticized as an act to suppress the NGOs that dissent against the government.
    • Advantage: This has strengthened the compliance mechanism, enhancing transparency and accountability, and will help in curbing fraud and threats of the sovereignty of the country in the name of NGOs.

Amnesty International

  • It is an international Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) founded in London (UK) in 1961.
  • It seeks to publicize violations by governments and other entities of rights recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), especially freedom of speech and of conscience and the right against torture.
  • In 1977, it was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.
  • AI India is a part of the global human rights movement spearheaded by Amnesty International. It has its registered office in Bangalore (Karnataka).

Source: TH


Governance

Gavi COVAX Facility

Why in News

Recently, Serum Institute of India (SII) has received funds from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that would allow it to double its supply of Covid-19 vaccines (200 million doses) to India and other poorer countries as part of the Gavi COVAX facility. The vaccines will be priced at a maximum of USD 3 per dose.

  • SII (Pune), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, has agreements to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines, Covidshield (currently under clinical trials) developed by American vaccine maker Novavax, as well as Oxford University in collaboration with Swedish-British drugmaker AstraZeneca.

Key Points

  • COVAX is one of three pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which was launched in April 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission and France in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
    • The ACT Accelerator is a framework for collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to Covid-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. It is built on three main pillars: Vaccines (COVAX), Therapeutics, Diagnostics.
  • COVAX is an effort to ensure that people in all corners of the world will get access to Covid-19 vaccines once they are available, regardless of their wealth.
    • The initial aim is to have 2 billion doses available by the end of 2021, which should be enough to protect high risk and vulnerable people, as well as frontline healthcare workers.
  • It is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers.
  • The COVAX facility continually monitors the Covid-19 vaccine landscape to identify the most suitable vaccine candidates, based on scientific merit and scalability, and works with manufacturers to incentivise them to expand their production capacity in advance of vaccines receiving regulatory approval.
  • Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), a mechanism within the COVAX facility, is to ensure that the 92 middle- and lower-income countries that cannot fully afford to pay for Covid-19 vaccines themselves get equal access to Covid-19 vaccines as higher-income self-financing countries and at the same time.
    • India is a Gavi beneficiary and will, therefore, receive a certain proportion of the vaccines from the COVAX facility.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

  • Created in 2000, Gavi is an international organisation - a global Vaccine Alliance, bringing together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries.
  • Its core partners include the WHO, UNICEF, the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • In June 2019, the Gavi Board approved a new five-year strategy (‘Gavi 5.0’) with a vision to ‘leave no-one behind with immunisation’ and a mission to save lives and protect people’s health by increasing equitable and sustainable use of vaccines.

Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations

  • CEPI is a global partnership launched in 2017 to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics.
  • CEPI was founded in Davos (Switzerland) by the governments of Norway and India, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and the World Economic Forum.

Source: IE


Important Facts For Prelims

UAE’s Moon Mission

Why in News

Recently, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has decided to send an unmanned spacecraft to the moon in 2024.

Key Points

  • Name: The rover would be named Rashid after Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, one of the original founding rulers of the UAE.
    • Rover is a vehicle for exploring the surface of a planet or moon.
  • Aim: The rover will explore the surface of the moon in areas that have not been explored previously by human missions such as NASA’s Apollo.
    • Participating in the moon exploration is part of the UAE’s space strategy to build new knowledge capabilities and advance the country’s scientific, technical and research environment.
  • Fourth Nation: If successful in 2024, the UAE could become the fourth nation to land a spacecraft on the moon after the USA, the former Soviet Union and China.
    • India, Israel and Japan have tried but failed in landing a spacecraft on the moon.
      • Planned to land on the South Pole of the Moon, Chandrayaan-2 was launched by India in 2019. However, the lander Vikram hard-landed, which crushed India's dream to become the first nation to successfully touch down on the lunar surface in its maiden attempt.
      • India has planned a new moon mission named Chandrayaan-3. It is likely to be launched in early 2021. It will be a mission repeat of Chandrayaan-2 and will include a Lander and Rover similar to that of Chandrayaan-2, but will not have an orbiter.
    • Artemis is a crewed spaceflight program of NASA that has the goal of landing "the first woman and the next man" on the Moon, specifically at the lunar south pole region by 2024.

UAE’s Space Mission

  • In July 2020, the UAE launched a Mars probe named Amal (Hope) from Japan, marking the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission.
    • Amal is set to reach Mars in February 2021, the year UAE will celebrate 50 years of its formation.
    • UAE has also set a goal to build a human colony on Mars by 2117.
      • UAE is a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula.
  • In 2019, the UAE sent its first astronaut to the International Space Station.

Source: IE


Important Facts For Prelims

Cat Que Virus

Why in News

Scientists from the Pune-based Maximum Containment Laboratory and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-National Institute of Virology have noted the presence of antibodies against the Cat Que virus (CQV) in two human serum samples.

  • This indicates that the CQV virus may become a public health pathogen and may lead to a pandemic if it spreads.

Key Points

  • The positivity in human serum samples and the replication capability of CQV in mosquitoes points towards a possible disease-causing potential in the Indian scenario.
  • CQV belongs to the Simbu serogroup virus of the genus Orthobunyavirus.
  • It was first isolated in 2004 from mosquitoes in northern Vietnam. It has also been reported in China.
  • CQV comes under the category of Arthropod-borne viruses.
    • Arthropods are a group of invertebrate animals including insects, spiders etc.
  • It is found in pigs and Culex mosquitoes. Birds such as the Jungle Myna may also act as a host.
  • It infects both humans and livestock species.
  • Humans are infected through mosquito bites.
  • Other viruses that belong to the same genus as CQV and are similarly transmitted through mosquitoes include the Cache valley virus (causes meningitis), La Crosse virus (causes pediatric encephalitis), Jamestown Canyon virus (causes Jamestown Canyon encephalitis), and the Guaroa virus (causes febrile illness).

Source: IE


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