Current Affairs Current Affairs - 25 April 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 25 April 2018

General Affairs 

Use MGNREGA Funds For Water Conservation: PM Modi To Panchayats
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today suggested funds provided under the MGNREGA scheme be used on water conservation work for three summer months to curb water shortages in villages and boost farm activities.

    He also said human power available in rural areas could be harnessed to realise Mahatma Gandhi's dream of a village-centric model of development.

    PM Modi urged panchayat representatives to spend funds provided under the rural job scheme, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, only on work related to water conservation during the months of April, May and June.

    "We should work for conserving rainwater. Panchayats should spend NREGA (MGNREGA) funds on water conservation during April, May and June," he said.

    The Prime Minister was addressing a well-attended gathering of tribals and representatives of gram panchayats organised on the occasion of National Panchayat Raj Day at Ramnagar in this tribal-dominated district of Madhya Pradesh.

    "Every drop of rain should be conserved. This would not only save our money but also save villages from a water shortage. This would also help in agriculture," he said.

    PM Modi said people living in rural areas should focus on "Jan Dhan, Van Dhan and Gou Dhan" (human resources, forest wealth and bounty of cows) to develop villages.

    "In 2022, when the country will celebrate the 75th anniversary of its independence, we should strive to make villages as dreamt by Mahatma Gandhi," he said.

    "It can be done by using manpower for developing villages, Van Dhan by collecting neem seeds for coating of urea and Gou Dhan by using cow dung for producing electricity, bio-gas and manure for becoming self-reliant," the prime minister added.

    Expressing concern over the excessive use of urea which adversely affected the fertility of soil, Modi urged the people to reduce its use.

    The prime minister also laid the foundation stone for a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bottling plant at Maneri in the district.

    The Rs. 120-crore plant will supply LPG cylinders to Mandla's neighbouring districts such as Balaghat, Singrauli, Rewa, Shahdol and Jabalpur.

    He called upon public representatives to ensure that people in their respective panchayats were fully covered under the Jan Dhan yojana and the prime minister's life insurance scheme.

    At the event, PM Modi handed over a cheque of Rs. 2 lakh under the insurance scheme to a woman who had lost her husband.

    He said public representatives should serve the people with dedication.

    "There is no shortage of funds now in the country. But there is a problem of priorities and transparent implementation of developmental schemes. Public representatives can play a major role in it," he stressed.

    Earlier, PM Modi launched the Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, which seeks to strengthen the Panchayati Raj system and address the critical gaps that hinder its success.

    The Central government scheme aims at making rural local bodies self-sustaining, financially stable and more efficient.

    The programme seeks to address problems that confront pnchayats by enhancing their capacities and effectiveness, and to promote the devolution of powers and responsibilities.

    On the occasion, PM Modi unveiled a roadmap for the development of tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh over the next five years. Under the plan, Rs. 2 lakh crore will be spent on the development of areas under tribal panchayats.

    The prime minister also honoured panchayats for their achievements in implementing the government's e-governance scheme, making villages under their jurisdiction open defecation-free (ODF) and also smokeless by switching from conventional fuel to LPG.

"Doklam Happened Due To Lack Of Mutual Trust": China
  • The Doklam standoff happened due to "lack of mutual trust" between India and China, and they need to work together to create favourable conditions and gradually settle the boundary issue, a top Chinese diplomat said today, ahead of this week's informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

    Indian and Chinese troops had been locked in a stand-off for over two months last year in the Doklam area near Sikkim before "disengaging" on August 28. The area of the standoff is also claimed by Bhutan.

    "The boundary incident that happened (at Doklam) last year someway reflected lack of mutual trust between the two countries," Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou told the media when asked about the Doklam standoff.

    Asked whether the Doklam standoff and the boundary issue will figure in the talks between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi, Kong said the two leaders decided to hold informal summit "because both the countries attach great importance to each other in external strategy, not because of the boundary question that still remained unresolved, that we need to talk about it during the informal summit".

    India-China boundary dispute spans to 3,488-km along the Line of Actual Control or LAC. Both sides have held 20 rounds of talks between the Special Representatives to resolve it.

    "Of course, the boundary question is important. Both sides need to work together to create favourable conditions and gradually settle it. Proper settlement of boundary question will help deepen cooperation and deepen mutual understanding and trust between the two countries," Mr Kong said.

    He said both China and India needs to even make greater efforts to deepen their mutual trust.

    "At the informal summit, the two leaders will have heart-to-heart discussions on the issues of overarching, long-term and strategic importance to bilateral relations. In terms of some specific differences or sensitive issues, the two sides will stay in touch with each other through relevant channels. In the process of deepening mutual trust, they will gradually find a way to try to settle them," he said.

Indian Air Force Tests Capability To Handle Nuke Warfare During Mega Exercise
  • The Indian Air Force or IAF tested its capability in dealing with a possible scenario of nuclear and biological warfare during a 13-day-long mega military exercise whose aim was to sharpen its war waging capability in the wake of fast evolving regional security situation.

    Official sources said the focus of the Gagan Shakti exercise from April 8 to 20 was to check the viability of IAF's operational plans to deal with any kind of challenge including nuclear warfare and a possible situation of a two-front war with China and Pakistan.

    A major focus of the exercise was to check combat capability of the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft or LCA Tejas and their performance was satisfactory, IAF sources said.

    They said eight Tejas were deployed during the exercise and some of these had reported minor technical issues, adding each of the six Tejas had flown six sorties daily like any other platforms including Sukhoi, Mirage 2000 and MiG 29 jets.

    The sources said aim of the exercise was to test IAF's combat readiness in a real time scenario, adding it had never carried out an exercise of this scale earlier.

    A key focus of the exercise was to check IAF's readiness to deal with a biological, chemical and nuclear war and we were satisfied with our capability to deal with such situations, they said.

    They also said all types of aerial weapons, including standoff and precision weapons were deployed to validate their use in the air operations matrix.

    As part of the massive drill, the IAF deployed its entire assets for the pan-India exercise with fighter jets, equipped with strategic weapons like Brahmos and Harpoon anti ship missiles, carrying out deep penetration strikes to revalidate its strategic reach.

    During the exercise, the sources said over 11,000 sorties were flown which included nearly 9,000 sorties by fighter aircraft.

    The combat drill was carried out at a time when China was increasing its assertiveness along the borders with India and while Pakistan has been continuing its skirmishes along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

    The exercise covered all terrains including desert, high altitude areas like Ladakh and maritime sphere.

    During combat drills near Sino-India border, the IAF significantly focused on inter valley transfer of troops considering various possible situations of conflict and taking a lesson from the Doklam standoff.

    Ensuring serviceability of fighter aircraft and various missile systems were a priority area and the IAF succeeded in its endeavour, officials said.

    The serviceability of surface-to-air missiles were around 97 per cent while serviceability of fighter jets were close to 80 per cent, they said.

    Serviceability refers to availability of an aircraft or a weapon system for deployment. The IAF has been struggling to maintain high serviceability levels of its platforms due to difficulty in getting required spares.

    Similarly, the IAF could ensure high levels of dispatch reliability which refers to ability to make the serviceable flying platforms airborne as and when required, the officials said.

6 Lakh Students To Write Class 12 Economics Re-Test Tomorrow
  • Some six lakh students across the country will re-take the CBSE Class 12 Economics paper tomorrow, after the paper was cancelled following a paper leak scandal in March. The re-tests will be held at 4,000 centres across India.

    Since marks received in Class 12 papers serve as a springboard for college admissions and can directly affect a student's chances, the Central Board of Secondary Education is working to ensure the re-test goes without any more trouble.

    The CBSE has exempted foreign students from appearing for the exam again, since in its investigation it did not find the leak to have impacted their results.

    "About six lakh students will appear for the exam on Wednesday at 4,000 centres," a CBSE officer told news agency IANS. The education board has taken extra security measures which cannot be revealed, said the officer who asked not to be named.

    Many students say they are a little worried in giving the re-test as the paper could come with tougher questions.

    "It is very irritating to have to repeat the paper again. I am just as prepared for it as I was last time. But can't say if they set a tough question paper," said Srishti, a student of Tagore Senior Secondary School in Delhi's Mayapuri.

    Yatin of New Delhi Public School in Delhi's Vikaspuri said he wants to make sure he betters his previous performance. "I am fully prepared and making sure to revise the question paper which came last time also. The only worry is that the question paper last time was very easy. I knew it all," he said.

    Another student from Tagore School, Manpreet, complained of having to give more time for the re-test. He said he could have used the time to prepare for competitive exams.

    "One of my main worries is that I had done so well last time and the paper was easy. So there is some psychological pressure of course. And also, I could have spent this time on preparing for other entrance exams," he said.

    The Class 12 Economics paper was held on March 26, and was cancelled and rescheduled to April 25 after the question paper leak was detected.

    After the Math and Economics paper leaks, the CBSE had cautioned against fake paper leak messages being circulated on social media. A Political Science question paper found on YouTube has been verified as an "earlier year's question paper", the board had said in a statement.

    The person who had warned the CBSE on the night before the Class 10 Mathematics test that the question paper had leaked was identified by the police as a Class 10 student.

West Bengal Panchayat Polls: In Face Of Violence, 9 Candidates File Nominations Through Whatsapp In West Bengal
  • In an unconventional way, nine candidates filed their nominations through WhatsApp for the West Bengal panchayat elections, the Calcutta High Court was informed today.

    State Election Commission secretary Nilanjan Shandilya told the court that the nominations sent through WhatsApp were accepted.

    The court had on Tuesday directed the commission to make arrangements for the filing of the nominations of 11 candidates of the Polerhat II gram panchayat at Bhangar in South 24 Parganas district after they claimed that they were being prevented from reaching the office designated for the purpose by armed hooligans.

    Nine of the 11 candidates filed their nominations using WhatsApp, petitioner Sharmistha Chowdhury today told the court of Justice Subrata Talukdar.

    The candidates had sent photos of their filled up nomination papers to the authorities concerned through WhatsApp as they were manhandled and their papers were snatched at the Alipore Survey Building where they had been directed to go by the commission to file their nominations, she claimed.

    Ms Chowdhury also claimed that as the fees for the nominations, filing of which ended yesterday, could not be paid as the original papers were snatched and that the nominations could be treated as invalid during scrutiny on this ground.

    Justice Talukdar then directed the SEC secretary to treat the nominations of the nine candidates as valid and said that no fuzziness would be accepted by the court over technicalities.

    Mr Shandilya gave an undertaking before the court that the nominations would be treated as valid and the candidates' names would appear in the ballot papers.

    Justice Talukdar had directed the commission to file a compliance report today in respect of the court's direction. The court had said that the commission will lie in contempt if its order is not executed.

    The SEC had extended the nomination process by a day for yesterday at the direction of Justice Talukdar.

Business Affairs

India remains world's top remittance recipient country in 2017, says World Bank
  • In 2016, remittances to developing countries had dipped 2.4 per cent year-on-year - a second consecutive year of decline, which was a trend not seen in three decades. But according to the World Bank's latest Migration and Development Brief, last year saw a stronger-than-expected recovery in remittances, driven by growth in Europe, Russia and the US.

    Global remittances, including flows to high-income countries, grew 7 per cent to $613 billion in 2017, while officially recorded remittances to low-and middle-income countries jumped up 8.5 per cent to reach $466 billion. The rebound was also helped by higher oil prices and a strengthening of the Euro and the Ruble, added the report.

    But dip or no dip, the Indian diaspora tops the charts when it comes to sending money home. Remittances to India picked up sharply by 9.9 per cent in 2017 to reach about $69 billion, reversing the previous year's dip. In fact, India, the world's largest remittance recipient, had led the decline with remittance inflows amounting to $62.7 billion in 2016, a decrease of 8.9 per cent over $68.9 billion in 2015. The bad news is that we are still short of the $70.4 billion received in 2014. The World Bank has previously noted that although remittances as a share of GDP was not particularly significant for India - averaging around 2 per cent - there were subnational variations in the impact of remittances. For Kerala, as it had pointed out, remittances were estimated at 36.3 per cent of the net state domestic product and contributed significantly to household consumption.

    The South Asia region at large posted a moderate 5.8 per cent jump in remittances last year, amounting to $117 billion. "Robust growth in South Asia mainly reflects strengthening growth in India as the effects of temporary policy driven disruptions (demonetization and a new tax on goods and services) fade," said the report. However, flows to Pakistan and Bangladesh were both largely flat in 2017, and Sri Lanka saw a small decline of less than 1 per cent. Meanwhile, the biggest rebound in remittances last year was seen in in Europe and Central Asia region (20.9 per cent).

    The other countries that ranked high in the Top 5 in receiving remittances are China ($64 billion), the Philippines ($33 billion), Mexico ($31 billion) and Nigeria ($22 billion). However, as a share of GDP for 2017, the top recipients were the smaller countries - the Kyrgyz Republic, Tonga, Tajikistan, Haiti and Nepal.

    The projections for 2018 are broadly optimistic. The upsurge in remittances are expected to continue on the back of stronger economic conditions in advanced economies (particularly the US) and an increase in oil prices that should have a positive impact on the Gulf Cooperation Council nations - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. Remittances to the South Asia region are pegged to grow by 2.5 per cent to $120 billion. Global remittances are expected to post a better growth of 4.6 per cent to $642 billion in 2018.

    "While remittances are growing, countries, institutions, and development agencies must continue to chip away at high costs of remitting so that families receive more of the money," said Dilip Ratha, lead author of the Brief and head of Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD).

    According to the World Bank, the global average cost of sending home $200 was 7.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2018, more than twice as high as the Sustainable Development Goal target of 3 per cent. South Asia had the lowest average remittance costs of any world region (at 5.2 percent) in the first quarter of 2018. On the other hand, sub-Saharan Africa remains the most expensive place to send money to, with an average cost of 9.4 per cent. The factors contributing to high costs include de-risking measures taken by commercial banks and exclusive partnerships between national post office systems and a single money transfer operator. The World Bank added that these factors constrain the introduction of technologies, such as mobile apps and the use of cryptocurrency and blockchain, in remittance services. "Eliminating exclusivity contracts to improve market competition and introducing more efficient technology are high-priority issues," said Ratha.

    The report significantly points out that despite the rebound in remittances, there are a few long-term risks. "In many remittance-source countries, anti-immigration sentiments are on the rise. Immigration policies are becoming stricter. Also, structural constraints, such as the de-risking behavior of international correspondent banks and increased regulatory burdens on money transfer operators, continue to hinder the growth of formal remittances," it said.

H-1B visa: Rollback of work permits for spouses to affect nearly 62,000 Indians
  • More than 70,000 immigrants working in the US are possibly staring at job loss in the near future, a majority of them Indians. These workers holding H-4 visas are all spouses of H-1B visa holders and had obtained work permits under a special order issued by the previous Obama administration in 2015.

    Before that, spouses could not be employed while H-1B visa holders sought out permanent resident status - a process that can take a decade or longer. The Trump administration is now planning to terminate this provision, which has so far benefited more than 100,000 H-4 visa holders.

    A formal communication is expected to be made later this summer, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) director Francis Cissna said in a letter to Senator Chuck Grassley. "Our plans include proposing regulatory changes to remove H-4 dependent spouses from the class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation, thereby reversing the 2015 final rule that granted such eligibility," added Cissna.

    According to a study released last week by the Migration Policy Institute, as of June 2017, USCIS had granted 71,287 initial (versus renewal) employment authorisation documents to H-4 spouses, 94 per cent of whom were women. Of this figure, the vast majority - a whopping 93 per cent - were from India and 4 per cent were from China.

    Why is the US government reversing its previous stand? According to Cissna, such action would comport with the executive order requirement to "propose new rules and issue new guidance, to supersede or revise previous rules and guidance, if appropriate, to protect the interests of United States workers in the administration of our immigration system. He seems to be referring to President Donald Trump's Buy American Hire American policy here.  "As with other revisions to regulations, the public will have an opportunity to provide feedback during a notice and comment period," he added.

    The US government is sure to receive plenty of feedback with spouses of H-1B visa holders with employment authorisation documents reportedly girding for a robust pushback. "If they [USCIS] change the H4 EAD rule without taking into consideration each and every comment that comes in, and fail to respond to our defence of the H4 EAD, you can be sure of lawsuits," Anirban Das of Skilled Immigration in America, an advocacy group, told Firstpost. "Unemployment has been at its lowest in years so it's impossible that an insignificant percentage of the population is taking jobs away from Americans. If that were true, then there would be a crisis for every college graduate in America," added Das.

    Significantly, New York based immigration attorney Cyrus Mehta also pointed out to the portal that H-4 spouses are also "Americans in waiting". So allowing them to work would contribute to the American economy through their taxes and talents. "Eliminating work cards for H-4 spouses is not consistent with Buy American Hire American, although it may be consistent with xenophobia and white nationalism," he added.

Bharti Airtel Q4 net profit slumps 78% to Rs 83 crore, telco blames 'artificially suppressed' pricing
  • Bharti Airtel on Tuesday posted a 78 per cent drop in its net profit to Rs 83 crore for the quarter ended March. The consolidated revenue of the telecom major fell 5.4 per cent to Rs Rs 19,634 crore in Q4. It had posted consolidated revenue of Rs 21,934.60 crore in the same quarter last year.

    Blaming the 'artificially suppressed pricing' for tepid Q4 numbers, Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, Airtel India & South Asia said, "The telecom industry continues to witness below cost, artificially suppressed pricing. Industry revenues were further adversely impacted this quarter due to the reduction in international termination rates."

    "We have ended the financial year with our highest ever capital expenditure of Rs 240 billion. We intend to continue the rollout momentum next year as well," added Vittal.

    Airtel's annual consolidated revenue stood at Rs 83,688 crore, down 9.8 per cent from the previous year. The company's consolidated net debt has increased to Rs 95,228 crore from Rs 91,714 crore in the previous quarter. However, its net revenue from Africa grew 13.4 per cent Y-o-Y.

    The profit comes amid brokerage firms predicting huge losses for Airtel in the fourth quarter. The telecom major had posted a profit of Rs 373.40 crore in the corresponding quarter last year and Rs 305.80 crore in the sequential quarter ended December 31, 2017.

    The country's biggest telecom operator said it has crossed 300 million mobile customer mark in India. Bharti Airtel's overall customer base now stands at 413.8 million across 16 countries.

    Bharti Infratel, the towers arm of Bharti Airtel, announced its annual results on Monday. The numbers paint a rosy picture of the towers division and highlight the bleak situation at the core telecom business at the same time. For the financial year 2017/18, Bharti Infratel registered 8 per cent annual growth in revenues to Rs 14,490 crore. Its net profits slipped by 9 per cent to Rs 2,494 crore during the same period.

    The matter with Airtel seems gloomy as its revenues and net profits have some component of Bharti Infratel's revenues and net profits. Bharti Airtel and its wholly-owned subsidiaries together have an equity holding of 53.51 per cent in Bharti Infratel. That means Airtel would have been in a worse situation if it didn't own stake in Bharti Infratel.

    Airtel is trying to consolidate its position in the towers sector with acquiring more stake in Indus Towers, a joint venture between Bharti, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular. Last year, Bharti Infratel's board decided to explore and evaluate acquisition of stake in Indus Towers, with the aim of making it a subsidiary or wholly-owned subsidiary of Bharti Infratel. Currently, Bharti Infratel and Vodafone India own 42 per cent each in Indus; the remaining stake belongs to Idea. 

    In fact, Bharti Infratel has turned out to be a saviour for Airtel in more ways than one. For instance, Airtel divested 83 million shares of Bharti Infratel for Rs 3,325 crore through secondary share sale last year. The proceeds from the sale were used to pare Airtel's huge debt, the company had said in a statement.

    The Company's Board has declared a final dividend of Rs 2.5 per share (face value of Rs 5 per share) for the financial year ended March 31, 2018. Together with the interim dividend of Rs 2.84 per share, total dividend for the year comes to Rs 5.34 per share, Airtel said in a regulatory filing.

    "Airtel Africa's revenues grew by 10.7 per cent on a Y-o-Y basis. Data traffic grew 88 per cent, voice minutes increased by 37 per cent. The acquisition of TIGO in Rwanda was completed during the quarter and I am delighted to welcome more than 3 million TIGO customers to the Airtel family," said Raghunath Mandava, MD and CEO, Airtel Africa.

5-star hotel, ultra-modern hubs: 'Airport-like' railway stations at Gandhinagar, Habibganj by Jan 2019
  • Have you ever seen a railway station in India that has a five-star hotel at its premises, ultra-modern commercial shops, video game zones, virtual museums, and all other possible means to keep you entertained and relaxed during your journey? If not, that's quite a possibility now. Under the Modi government's massive Railways redevelopment plan, two railway stations in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are being developed with "airport-like" facilities. Not only will they be constructed in a record time - and will be operational in the next eight-nine months - they will also be self-sufficient to undergo maintenance by generating their own revenues.

    The redevelopment of the Habibganj railway station in Madhya Pradesh and the Gandhinagar railway station in Gujarat will be completed in December 2018 and January 2019, respectively. These state-of-the-art railway stations are being constructed as part of the government's Rs 1-lakh crore redevelopment plan.

    Being the backbone of the country's transport system, the Indian railways has the biggest railway network in the world, while facilities at most stations are not at par with stations at other parts of the world. Keeping this mind, the government wants to upgrade the infrastructure of the railway stations across the country by providing best services so that they become self-sufficient in carrying out maintenance and development work.

    "The entire responsibility of maintenance and revenue generation from these stations lies with the IRSDC and we have to make sure that these stations are revenue surplus and to the extent that it can be invested back in the maintenance and development of the station," SK Lohia, Indian Railway Station Development Corporation (IRSDC) Managing Director and CEO told PTI. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Gandhinagar railway station before the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in January 2019, said Lohia.

    The station will have a large waiting area comprising over 600 benches with neat and clean toilets and commercial hubs. Of the total Rs 450 crore allocated for the redevelopment of the Habibganj railway station, Rs 100 will be spent on improving the infrastructure, while the rest of the amount will be spent on building glass structures and facilities for food, entertainment, and the waiting area. According to the railways, the station is expected to earn around Rs 6.5-7 crore initially, which could increase to Rs 10 crore per annum. According to Lohia, the IRSDC is also working on other ideas like installing video game zones and virtual museums to make the station more passenger-friendly and commercially viable.

    The railway station will be constructed in a record two-year time after its foundation stone was laid in January 2017. Around Rs 250 crore have been allocated for the redevelopment of the Gandhinagar railway station. The project is a special purpose vehicle (SPV) between the IRSDC and the Gujarat government. The centre of attraction at the station will be a five-star hotel comprising 300 rooms. The ground floor of the hotel, having three buildings intact together and resembling the shape of petals, will be 22 metres above the ground, while the railway track will pass underneath it.

78% of drug patent grants in India for marginal improvements, says study
  • Majority of pharmaceutical drug patents granted by India might have skipped elaborate scrutiny, an analysis of patent grants by a team of researchers and patent lawyers reveals.

    The report which studied the prosecution history of some grants and the claim language of all granted patents during 2009-2016 states that the grants were likely contravention of anti-evergreening provisions under section 3 of the Indian Patents Act.

    Seventy two per cent of granted patents for pharmaceuticals are secondary patents, granted for marginal improvements over previously known drugs for which primary patents exist, they point out.

    The report has been prepared by patent lawyers and researchers Feroz Ali, Sudarsan Rajagopal, Venkata S. Raman and Roshan John for accessibsa, a tri-continental project enabled by a fellowship from the Shuttleworth Foundation.  The project focuses on innovation and access to medicines in India, Brazil and South Africa.

    The report suggested that only fifteen per cent of granted secondary patents were subjected to elaborate scrutiny, accompanied by a detailed written order of the Indian Patent Controller. "In most cases, the relevant exception to patentability has not been appropriately cited in the final written order," it points out.

    The report titled "How our safeguards against evergreening have failed, and why the system must be reformed," states that 1654 secondary patents got granted by overcoming anti-evergreening and other rejections that could be raised by the Indian Patent Office (IPO).

    "This corresponds to an error rate as high as 72 per cent of secondary patents, of which 1206 were granted for formulations/compositions, 297 for combinations, 88 for physical variants, uses, salts, isomers, enantiomers and prodrugs, and 63 for a method of treatment."

    The researchers recommend three key interventions to make patent grants more effective and appropriate. The first is to prepare an updated guideline for patent examiners. The current guidelines do not expound on how the anti-evergreening provisions should be applied while examining a patent application. There is little discussion on how the IPO has applied sections 3(e) and 3(i). Given that the IPO has now examined thousands of applications and their validity vis-a-vis sections 3(d), 3(e) and 3(i), a more detailed account on how the IPO has applied these provisions in practice should have been provided, the researchers suggested.

    The second is to spell out the principles laid out by the Supreme Court in the Novartis Case (the "Novartis Standard") in the guiding document to ensure that patent examiners and controllers go by the spirit of the Supreme Court judgment on the issue of ever greening patents. "We recommend that the seven principles borne out of the Novartis case, must be included as a part of the guidelines in examining pharmaceutical applications. The IPO should strictly adhere to these principles while deciding an objection under section 3(d)," the report said.

    The report also highlighted the need for an "anti- evergreening check list" for patent examiners.  "The common format for sending the First Examination Report (FER) by the IPO to the patent applicant does not have any checklist on detecting secondary patents. We recommend that every application that is suspect of secondary patenting must undergo detailed scrutiny at different levels," they point out.

    While Feroz Ali is the IPR Chair Professor at IIT Madras, Sudarsan Rajagopal is a London-based patent analyst. The accssibsa attempts to expand access to life-saving medicines and make arguments for intellectual property systems that support public health - with safeguards for both sovereign human rights and genuine pharmaceutical innovation.

General Awareness

Inter-country removal & retention of children
  • Context: Committee headed by Justice Rajesh Bindal has submitted its report on legal issues related to Inter-country removal & retention of children to the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

    ‘Inter Country Parental Child Removal Disputes Resolution Authority’:

    The Committee has recommended that the Government may establish an ‘Inter Country Parental Child Removal Disputes Resolution Authority’.

    Composition of the authority:

    The Authority may be chaired by a retired High Court Judge, with Members from Legal and Social sector background along with representatives from key Ministries.

    Functions of the authority:

    The authority has been envisaged to provide a one window solution in cases of inter country removal and retention of Children.
    The Authority may examine the inter country cases of removal and retention of children vis-a-vis the cultural context, merit of the case, and the best interest of the Child.

    Concerns associated with Inter Country Child Abduction:

    Over three crore Indians living abroad have cross-border marriages. When such a diverse family unit breaks down, children suffer as they are dragged into an international legal battle between their parents. Inter-spousal child removal is one of the most unfortunate outcomes of such break ups. Children are “abducted” by one parent and taken to a country with a different culture. This can be traumatic as they are also cut off from the other parent.

    International Child Abduction Bill:

    The Protection of Children (Inter-Country Removal and Retention) Bill, 2016 seeks to address the issue. The Bill is in consonance with the principles of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, 1980, which seeks to protect a child from the harmful effect of wrongful removal and secure prompt return and reintegration of the child in an environment of his/her ‘habitual residence’.

    Definition: The Bill defines ‘wrongful removal or retention’ as an act in breach of custody to a person or an institution or any other body under the law of the country in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention. The law will be applicable to those wrongfully removed or retained children in India who have not completed 16 years.

    Central Authority: The Bill recommends the setting up of a Central Authority tasked with discovering the whereabouts of the child. The Authority will further act to prevent harm to the child, secure the voluntary return of the child to his or her habitual residence, exchange information relating to the child with the appropriate authorities of the contracting state, institute judicial proceedings in the High Court concerned to secure the return of the child, provide free legal aid advice, and make administrative arrangements for the return of the child.

    Return of the Child: The court can order the return of a child who has been wrongfully removed or retained in India and if a period of one year has not elapsed from the date of removal or retention. However, the one-year cap is not final. The court can order return if it is established that the child is not settled in his/her new environment. It can refuse to order return if returning would expose the child to harm or if the child, on attaining an age and level of maturity, refuses to go back, among other conditions.

    The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (1980):

    The Hague Convention is a multilateral treaty whereby the contracting states will have to cooperate with each other in expeditiously sending back the runaway parent and the child to the country of the child’s ‘habitual residence’.
    It seeks to return children abducted or retained overseas by a parent to their country of habitual residence for the courts of that country to decide on matters of residence and contact.
    The convention shall apply to any child, up to the age of 16 years who is a habitual resident of any of the contacting states.

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