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13 March 2024 Daily Current Affairs | Daily Newspaper Analysis

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Committee Proposes New Law to Regulate Big Tech

Current Law Seen as Inadequate

A committee formed by the Indian government has identified limitations in the existing Competition Act (2002) when it comes to regulating the digital market. The report highlights that the current framework is reactive, designed for a time before the rapid growth and unique characteristics of today's tech industry.

New Law Proposed: Proactive Regulation of Big Tech

To address these concerns, the committee proposes a new "ex-ante" law, titled the Digital Competition Act. This law would proactively regulate big tech companies, allowing authorities to intervene before anti-competitive practices take hold.

Identifying Big Tech: Systemically Significant Digital Enterprises (SSDEs)

The draft law focuses on large digital enterprises with a "significant market presence" in core digital services. These companies would be designated as "Systemically Significant Digital Enterprises" (SSDEs). The specific criteria for designating an SSDE would be determined.

Self-Designation and Potential Penalties

The draft law would require companies to determine their own SSDE status. Failure to do so could result in penalties based on the global turnover of the entire corporate group, not just the Indian revenue.

Public Consultation for Specific Regulations

The specific regulations that would apply to SSDEs are not yet finalized. The report proposes holding public consultations to determine these details before implementing the law.

Potential Impact: Curbing Abuses or Stifling Innovation?

Experts believe this new law could significantly impact big tech companies like Google and Meta. Some argue it's necessary to prevent these companies from abusing their market power. However, concerns exist that the regulations could be overly burdensome and stifle innovation within the tech sector.



All about CDSCO?

Why in News: - Warning Issued Against Unapproved Drugs in India

The Indian drug regulator, CDSCO, is warning manufacturers and sellers against making or selling unapproved drugs, especially those classified as "New Drugs."

  • Examples: Meropenem (antibiotic) and Disodium EDTA (calcium treatment) are specifically mentioned.

  • The Rule: New drugs require approval from the CDSCO before being manufactured or sold.

What this means:

  • Companies cannot make or sell new drugs without following the proper approval process.

  • This is to ensure the safety and efficacy of new drugs before they reach consumers.


About CDSCO: -

  • It is the Central Drug Authority for discharging functions assigned to the Central Government under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940.

  • It works under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India.

  • Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, CDSCO is responsible for -

  • Approval of Drugs.

  • Conduct Clinical Trials.

  • Laying down the standards for Drugs.

  • Control over the quality of imported Drugs in the country.

  • Coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organizations.

  • Further CDSCO along with state regulators, is jointly responsible for the grant of licences to certain specialised categories of critical Drugs such as vaccines and sera, etc.

  • The Indian government has announced plans to subject all medical devices, including implants and contraception, to CDSCO scrutiny.

  • Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI): DCGI is the head of the department of the CDSCO of the Government of India responsible for approval of licences of specified categories of drugs such as blood and blood products, IV fluids, vaccines and sera in India.

  • DCGI also sets standards for the manufacturing, sales, import, and distribution of drugs in India.


New Rules Aim for Ethical Marketing in Pharmaceutical Industry

India's Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) 2024 establishes stricter guidelines for drug promotion and interactions with healthcare professionals.

Key Points:

  • Accurate Drug Information: Promotions must be truthful and consistent with official approval. Claims of "safe" or "new" require specific qualifications.

  • No Misleading Claims: Drugs cannot be promoted before approval, and side effects or addiction risks cannot be downplayed. "New" applies only to drugs unavailable in India for over a year.

  • Ethical Interactions with Healthcare Professionals: Medical representatives cannot use pressure tactics or offer gifts/payments (including travel) to doctors or their families.

  • Transparent Continuing Medical Education (CME): Pharmaceutical companies can only engage healthcare professionals in CME through clear and verifiable guidelines. Foreign CME events are prohibited.

  • Strict Compliance: The UCPMP is mandatory for all pharmaceutical companies and their associates (distributors, retailers, etc.).

EDITORIALS OF THE DAY

Intra-group caste variances, equality and the Court’s gaze

The Supreme Court of India is set to deliver a landmark judgment on the legality of sub-classifying Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) for affirmative action purposes.

The Issue:

  • Can state governments create sub-categories within the existing quotas for SCs and STs in public sector jobs?

  • Should states have the power to address varying levels of disadvantage within these groups?

Background:

  • A 1975 Punjab government order offering preferential treatment to specific SC groups was challenged.

  • The High Court struck it down, citing a 2004 Supreme Court judgment (E.V. Chinnaiah) that limited state power to modify the official SC/ST list (in Andhra Pradesh).

  • The Punjab government enacted a new law in 2006, again challenged and deemed unconstitutional.

Arguments for Sub-Classification:

  • Studies show unequal development within SCs and STs.

  • Some castes face greater discrimination than others.

  • Sub-classification allows states to address these disparities and ensure reservations reach the most disadvantaged groups.

  • The existing judgment in Indra Sawhney permitted sub-classification for Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

Arguments Against Sub-Classification:

  • Article 341 of the Constitution empowers the President to identify SCs, suggesting states lack authority for sub-classification and only parliament can do this.

  • Sub-classification based on political considerations is a risk.

The Verdict's Significance:

  • This judgment will clarify the scope of state power in implementing affirmative action policies.

  • It could impact how reservations are used to achieve social justice and equality in India.

The Heart of the Matter:

  • The Constitution promises substantive equality, requiring measures to address historical discrimination against castes.

  • Reservations aim to achieve equal opportunity, not contradict the concept of equality.

  • States may have a constitutional obligation to ensure reservations effectively reach the most disadvantaged.

The Way Forward:

  • The Supreme Court's decision will determine if Article 341 truly prohibits sub-classification within SCs and STs.

  • If allowed, sub-classification policies will be evaluated based on their justification and effectiveness in achieving equality.

  • This judgment is crucial for realizing India's constitutional vision of a just and equitable society.

A new sense of urbanisation that is dominating

India is witnessing a shift in how cities are being developed, with a growing focus on religious centers compared to the traditional focus on industry and work.

Key Points:

  • Recent inaugurations of the new Parliament and Ram temple raise questions about the separation of religion and politics.

  • ₹85,000 crore investment in Ayodhya's infrastructure exemplifies the rise of "religious cities."

  • This contrasts with the historical model of cities driven by industry and work (often established during colonial times).

  • Modern cities fostered cultural exchange, art, and recreation alongside economic development.

  • The new model emphasizes pilgrimage and religious identity, potentially leading to religious segregation in urban spaces.

  • This unplanned, investment-heavy approach raises concerns about neglecting social needs like education and healthcare.

  • The author argues for a return to a focus on social good, achieved through investment in social infrastructure and a more inclusive urban development approach.

The Debate:

  • Should cities be centers of both work and pilgrimage?

  • Is India prioritizing religious revivalism over social development in its urban planning?

  • How can India balance its rich history with the need for modern infrastructure?


How is nuclear waste generated?

India's Nuclear Power Journey: Progress and Challenges

India's nuclear program is at a crossroads. While recently loading the core of its Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR), signifying advancement in stage II (Uranium - plutonium-based) power generation, the looming issue of nuclear waste management remains.

Nuclear Waste: A Byproduct of Fission

Nuclear reactors use fission, a process where uranium atoms are split to release energy. This process creates radioactive waste products that pose a significant threat due to their long lifespans.

Types of Nuclear Waste:

  • Spent fuel: Contains unused uranium and radioactive byproducts of fission.

  • Liquid waste: Short-lived radioactive materials from reactor operations. May be treated, discharged, or stored.

  • High-level waste: Highly radioactive fission products from spent fuel reprocessing. Requires long-term storage.

Challenges of Nuclear Waste Management:

  • Storage: Finding safe and secure locations for long-term storage (millennia) is a major hurdle. Geological disposal in stable underground formations is a potential solution.

  • Reprocessing: This method separates reusable fissile material from spent fuel, but creates additional high-level waste and raises proliferation concerns due to plutonium production.

  • Cost: Managing nuclear waste is expensive, impacting the overall cost of nuclear power generation.

India's Approach to Waste Management:

  • India reprocesses spent fuel to extract plutonium for stage II reactors.

  • The country has vitrification facilities that convert high-level waste into a stable glass form for storage.

  • Concerns exist regarding the efficiency of reprocessing facilities and the long-term safety of waste storage sites.

The Road Ahead:

  • India needs to develop a robust and transparent nuclear waste management plan.

  • Public concerns about safety and environmental impact must be addressed.

  • Exploring alternative fuel cycles that minimize waste generation could be beneficial.

The Takeaway:

While India progresses in its nuclear program, tackling the challenge of nuclear waste management is crucial to ensure the long-term sustainability and safety of this energy source.


Summary of Hezbollah

Hezbollah is a complex organization, but here's a simple breakdown:

  • Lebanese Origin: Based in Lebanon, they emerged during the conflict with Israel in the 1980s.

  • Two Sides: They have a political wing and a military wing. The political wing participates in Lebanese elections.

  • Militant Group: The military wing is considered a terrorist group by some countries, including the US. They've been involved in conflicts with Israel.

  • Shia Islam: Hezbollah is a Shia Islamist group. Shia Islam is a branch of Islam, and Hezbollah aligns itself with Iran, another Shia-majority country.

  • Controversy: Their close ties to Iran and their militant activities raise concerns. However, they also provide social services and are seen by some as a resistance movement against Israel.


China, Iran, and Russia Hold Joint Naval Drill in Gulf of Oman

  • Military Exercise: China, Iran, and Russia are conducting a joint naval drill called "Marine Security Belt 2024" in the Gulf of Oman, a strategic waterway.

  • Participants: Over 20 ships, including destroyers, frigates, and helicopters, from the three countries are involved. Observers include Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Oman, Pakistan, and South Africa.

  • Goals: The stated goals of the drill include improving trade security, combating piracy and terrorism, supporting humanitarian efforts, and information exchange for rescue operations.

  • Context: This is the fourth such joint exercise by these countries since 2019. It comes amid heightened regional tensions, particularly Iran's military ties with Russia and China, and the ongoing war in Ukraine. The Gulf of Oman has also seen attacks blamed on Iran in recent years.


OPEC, OPEC+, and IEA: Key Players in the Oil Market

OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries):

  • Formed: 1960

  • Members: Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela (Angola, Ecuador, Indonesia, and Qatar are former members)

  • Goal: Coordinate oil production policies of member countries to ensure stable oil prices and secure a steady income for members.

OPEC+:

  • Formed: Late 2016

  • Composition: OPEC members plus some non-OPEC oil producers, including Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, South Sudan, and Sudan.

  • Goal: Similar to OPEC, but with a larger group to exert more control over global oil production and prices.

IEA (International Energy Agency):

  • Formed: 1974 after the 1973 oil crisis

  • Members: 31 industrialized countries (including the US, Japan, and most European nations)

  • Goal: Promote energy security through collective action, including emergency oil stockpiling, and encourage environmentally friendly policies.

Here's a table summarizing the key points:

Feature

OPEC

OPEC+

IEA

Formed

1960

Late 2016

1974

Members

13 countries

OPEC members + non-OPEC producers

31 industrialized countries

Goal

Coordinate oil production for stable prices and member income

Control global oil production and prices (larger group)

Promote energy security and environmentally friendly policies



13 March 2024 Daily Current Affairs


13 March 2024 Daily Current Affairs

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