Daily PT Capsule Apr 7

Daily PT Capsule UPSC Civil Services
Daily PT Capsule UPSC Civil Services

US tech giants asked to set-up Indian servers

The Union Home Ministry of India had requested tech companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter to maintain servers in India to help get real time information about accounts, which spread mischievous and incendiary messages as per reports.

The Home Ministry had also sent request for information on a fake Twitter handle that goes by the name Hafiz Saeed (@HafeezSaeedJUD).

Twitter shares information about such requests by governments of various countries on its website in a bid to boost transparency.


What is the status of requests by Indian government? – According to Google’s 10th Transparency Report, when it comes to user accounts for which information was requested, the government of India ranked second in the world after the USA.

The Indian government made 2,794 requests for the period January to June 2014 across 5,002 user accounts. The government request for data is classified under two segments – content removal and user data requested.

Why such a high number of requests? – Most of the arrests for objectionable content on Facebook and Google, on the other hand, have taken place under sections 66(A)(struck down by Supreme Court) and 67 of the Information Technology Act, which relate to sending offensive messages through communication service and for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form.

This trend also shows a trend that our cyber laws are not effective to handle issues related to social media. Or that there have been too many immature requests out of political vendetta.

Source: TheHindu, Economic Times


Fourfold increase in diabetes over quarter century: WHO report

A report by World Health Organization(WHO) a nearly fourfold increase in worldwide cases of diabetes over the past quarter-century, affecting 422 million people in 2014. Excessive weight, obesity, aging and population growth have been the driving factors.

WHO called for stepped-up measures to reduce risk factors for diabetes and improve treatment and care that has ballooned in recent years alongside an increase in obesity rates. WHO said 8.5 percent of the world population had diabetes two years ago, up from 108 million, or 4.7 percent, in 1980.

The Geneva-based agency blamed growing consumption of food and beverages high in sugar. Diabetes increased around the world but affects lower- and middle-income people more often than wealthier populations. The rates rose most in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.


What are the types of diabetes? – Type 1 diabetes (formerly called juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes), accounts for 5 to 10 out of 100 people who have diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, eventually eliminating insulin production from the body. Without insulin, cells cannot absorb sugar (glucose), which they need to produce energy.

Type 2 diabetes (formerly called adult-onset or non-insulin-dependent diabetes) can develop at any age. It most commonly becomes apparent during adulthood. But type 2 diabetes in children is rising. Type 2 diabetes accounts for the vast majority of people who have diabetes-90 to 95 out of 100 people. In type 2 diabetes, the body isn’t able to use insulin the right way. This is called insulin resistance. As type 2 diabetes gets worse, the pancreas may make less and less insulin. This is called insulin deficiency.

Source: TheHindu, WebMD


Complain against Bt cotton registered

A farmer from Raichur district has filed complaint against 15 Bt cotton seed companies, with regard to crop loss caused by pink-bollworm pest this year. The companies include the GM seeds giant Monsato.

Pointing out that pamphlets containing claims made by Bt cotton seed companies that came with the seed packets clearly promised protection to crops from not only American, Spotted and Pink bollworms but also from Spodoptera and Semi-loopers, the complainant said that Bt cotton crop was completely destroyed by pink-bollworm, contrary to the claims made.

The complainant has claimed that Bt cotton crop worth between Rs. 400 crore and Rs. 500 crore has been destroyed in the pest attack in Raichur district. He has also brought to the notice of the court that no action was taken against the seed companies despite repeated requests, though Joint Director of the Agriculture Department has issued notices to them.


What is Bt cotton? –  Genetically modified crops (GM crops) are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering techniques. In most cases the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species like resistance to certain pests, diseases, environmental conditions, herbicides etc.

Bt cotton is a genetically modified organism (GMO) cotton variety, which produces an insecticide to bollworm. It is produced by Monsanto.

Why is there still a loss of crop to bollworm? – Bollworm has over time developed resistance to Bt cotton. In 2009, Monsanto entomologists detected and, ultimately confirmed, pink bollworm resistance to their first-generation single-protein (Bacillus thuringiensis) Bollgard I cotton in four states in Western India. Today, Bollgard II – a second-generation cotton seed that contains two different Bt proteins – has replaced Bollgard I in all the cotton seed markets.

Source: TheHindu, Monsato.com


Pharma companies for exemption to drug price control

Seeking a five-year exemption from drug price control, Biocon CMD Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw asked the government to refrain from ‘ad hoc’ measures so as to enable the pharma sector to build scale to be globally competitive.

This will incentivise investments in pharma sector because this sector is trying to build global scales. There needs to be a need to bring in policies that give you some stability and predictability in what your investments and return of investments.

In 2014, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) had brought prices of over 100 non-scheduled drugs under price control invoking paragraph 19 of Drug Price Control Order. Several industry bodies, including Indian Pharma Alliance (IPA), had criticized the NPPA’s move to cap prices of medicines not under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).

Currently, the government has increased the number of drugs under price control to over 800 formulations, from 628 earlier, bringing medicines used for treatment of diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, analgesics and cardiovascular diseases under its purview.


What is the government’s initiative for scaling up pharma sector? – The government is expected to announce the new bulk drug policy to promote indigenous production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients(API).

Bulk Drugs or APIs are basically the active raw materials used in a drug that gives it the therapeutic effect.

Bulk drugs currently constitute only 10-12 per cent share in the country’s Rs 80,000 crore-domestic pharmaceutical sector. India is primarily dependent on China for its imports of bulk drugs.

According to industry estimates, 70-80 per cent of the requirement of the industry is met by imports from China, varying across categories.

Meanwhile, government sees the country’s pharmaceutical industry growth potential to touch $200 billion by 2030 from the present $32 billion.

Source: Economic Times, TheHindu


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