Daily Current Affairs 26-04-2024

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    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    • The recent amendments to the rules governing India’s Patent Act has gained widespread criticism.
    • The Ministry of Commerce and Industry notified the Patents (Amendment) Rules, 2024 .
    • The amended rules aim to introduce substantial changes to align with international standards, promote innovations among innovators, and protect their rights. 
    • The amendments target key areas of concern in the Indian Patent practice and procedures and are poised to stimulate an increase in patent filing and processing within the nation.
    • A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. 
    • To get a patent, technical information about the invention must be disclosed to the public in a patent application.
    • Indian patents are governed by the Indian Patent Act of 1970. Under the act, patents are granted if the invention fulfills the following criteria:
      • It should be novel
      • It should have inventive step/s or it must be non-obvious
      • It should be capable of Industrial application
      • It should not attract the provisions of sections 3 and 4 of the Patents Act 1970.
    • Alignment with international regimes: It became a party to the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement following its membership to the World Trade Organisation on January 1, 1995.
      • It amended its internal patent laws to comply with TRIPS, most notably in 2005, when it introduced pharmaceutical product patents into the legislation.
      • The original Indian Patents Act did not grant patent protection to pharmaceutical products to ensure that medicines were available to the masses at a low price.
    • India is also a signatory to several IPR related conventions including:
      • The Berne Convention which governs copyright,
      • The Budapest Treaty,
      • The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property
      • The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) all of which govern various patent-related matters.
    • Unique provision for New ‘Certificate of Inventorship’ has been introduced to acknowledge the contribution of inventors in the patented invention.
    • Grace period: Provision for claiming benefits of Grace period under section 31 has been streamlined by incorporating new forms, i.e., Form 31.
    • First examination report: Time limit to furnish foreign application filing details in Form 8 has been changed from six months from the date of filing of application to three months from the date of issuance of first examination report.
    • Statements of working: Frequency to file the statements of working of patents in Form 27 has been reduced from once in a financial year to once in every three financial years.
      • The provision to condone delay in filing of such statements for a period up to three months upon a request in prescribed manner has been incorporated.
    • Renewal fee has been reduced by 10% if paid in advance through electronic mode for a period of at least 4 years.
    • Though the changes bring India’s patent law “almost in line” with those of the US, it underscores the serious consequences for patient and voluntary groups that campaign on public health concerns.
    • To accommodate the demands of the industrialized countries and to sign free trade agreements, the government has withdrawn those provisions that foreign manufacturers, especially pharma companies, have found troublesome.
    • There was no discussion in Parliament and no information on the people consulted, nor any data provided to justify the amendments, despite the significant nature of the changes.
    • Patient health groups who want to access the patent system in an effort to improve access to life-saving medications, now require to pay substantial fees to file pre-grant oppositions. There were no fees earlier.
    • Discretionary powers with the patent controller to determine who may file pre-grant oppositions runs counter to previous judicial decisions, which unambiguously permitted both organizations and individuals to submit pre-grant oppositions.
    • The Indian Patent Office faces a glut of patent applications, straining its capacity to handle the workload effectively.
    • India is regarded as the pharmacy of the world and has now become the most populous country. Hence it is even more imperative for the government to ensure high-quality medications remain within reach and economically viable for the vast segments of the population.
    • The amendments are anticipated to negatively impact the availability and accessibility of medicines. They would also encourage monopolies and profiteering by big pharma. 
    • So the government must reconsider the proposed amendments to safeguard the accessibility of affordable medicines and remove those suggested provisions which benefit the big global pharma industry.

    Source: DTE

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    • The United States Trade Representative (USTR) placed India in the ‘priority watch list’ of countries on its 2024 Special 301.
    • The “Special 301” Report is an annual review of the global state of IP protection and enforcement.
    • The Report identifies a wide range of concerns that limit innovation and investment, including:
      • The deterioration in the effectiveness of IP protection and enforcement,
      • Reported inadequacies in trade secret protection in countries around the world, 
      • Market access barriers, including non-transparent, discriminatory or otherwise trade-restrictive measures
      •  Ongoing, systemic IPR enforcement issues at borders and in many trading partner markets around the world.
      • The continuing challenges of copyright piracy and the sale of counterfeit trademarked products on the Internet.
    • Indonesia, Chile, and Argentina also feature in the ‘priority watch list’ of seven countries.
    • Twenty trading partners are on the ‘watch list’, which include countries that the US believes merit bilateral attention to address underlying IP problems but are better than the `priority watch list’ countries.
    • USTR removed the Dominican Republic from the Watch List this year. 
    • According to the USTR office, serious problems exist in the country like Inadequate IP enforcement, including high rates of online piracy, an extensive trademark opposition backlog, and insufficient legal means to protect trade secrets.
    • India still needs to fully implement the WIPO Internet Treaties and ensure that copyright statutory licenses do not extend to interactive transmissions.
    • The potential threat of patent revocations and the procedural and discretionary invocation of patentability criteria under the Indian Patents Act impact companies across different sectors is also troubling for the USA.
    • National IPR Policy 2016 encompassing all IPRs into a single vision document setting in place an institutional mechanism for implementation, monitoring and review of IP laws.
      • The policy encourages innovation and creativity by providing stronger protection and incentives for inventors, artists, and creators. 
    • Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM): It has been set up to coordinate the implementation of the National IPR Policy.
    • National Intellectual Property Awareness Mission (NIPAM), a flagship program to impart IP awareness and basic training in educational institutes.

    Scheme for Facilitating Startups Intellectual Property Protection(SIPP): it is introduced to foster innovation and entrepreneurship by providing a supportive ecosystem for startups to protect and manage their IP assets.

    What is Intellectual Property?

    – Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.
    – IP is protected in law by patents, copyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. 
    – By striking the right balance between the interests of innovators and the wider public interest, the IP system aims to foster an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish.

    Types of intellectual property

    Patent: A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. 
    Copyright: It is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works.
    Trademark: It is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. 
    Industrial design: It constitutes the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of an article.
    Geographical indications and appellations of origin are signs used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities, a reputation or characteristics that are essentially attributable to that place of origin.  
    Trade secrets are IP rights on confidential information which may be sold or licensed.
    • While there has been progress under the US-India Trade Policy Forum in addressing certain issues with trademark infringement investigations and pre-grant opposition proceedings, numerous long-standing concerns remain.
    • India has always maintained that its intellectual property laws were in strict adherence to the WTO’s Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement and that it was not bound by any global rules to make changes in its laws.
    • No action is threatened by the US against countries on the ‘priority watch list’, but if a country slips further and is categorized as a ‘priority country’, the USA may impose ‘retaliatory’ measures.

    Source: BS

    Syllabus :GS 2/Governance 

    • The Centre moved the Supreme Court seeking modification of its verdict in the 2G spectrum case.
    • The alleged 2G spectrum allocation scam is said to have originated in 2008 when the then Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government sold 122 2G licences on a first-come-first-serve (FCFS) basis to specific telecom operators.
    • In its charge sheet filed in April 2011, the CBI alleged that there was a loss of ₹ 30,984 crore to the exchequer as a result of discrepancies in the allocation process.
    • The Centre for Public Interest Litigation and Subramanian Swamy filed petitions in the top Court alleging a ₹70,000 crore scam in the grant of telecom licences in 2008. 
    • The Supreme Court cancelled 122 telecom licences in the landmark 2G spectrum scam judgement while cautioning that an FCFS basis for the allocation of scarce natural resources can be prone to misuse.
    • Advocating for competitive auctions instead, the Court said, “In our view, a duly publicised auction conducted fairly and impartially is perhaps the best method for discharging this burden 
    • Methods like first-come-first-served when used for alienation of natural resources/public property are likely to be misused by unscrupulous people who are only interested in garnering maximum financial benefit and have no respect for the constitutional ethos and values.
    •  It emphasised that the burden lies on the State to ensure that the “non-discriminatory method” of the auction is adopted “by giving wide publicity so that all eligible persons can participate in the process”.
    • The Union government has moved an application to allocate spectrum administratively, bypassing auctions.
      • An administrative allocation would give the government control over the selection of operators.
    • The assignment of spectrum is required to discharge sovereign and public interest functions such as security, safety, and disaster preparedness. 
    • The Centre elaborated that administrative allocation is required when demand is lower than supply or for space communication.
      • In such cases, it would be “more optimal and efficient for spectrum to be shared by multiple players, rather than being broken up into smaller blocks for the sole purpose of exclusive assignment”
    Do you know ?
    – The Telecommunications Act, 2023 empowers the government to assign spectrum for telecommunication through administrative processes other than auction for entities listed in the First Schedule. 
    – These include entities engaged in national security, defence, and law enforcement as well as Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellites such as SpaceX, and Bharti Airtel-backed OneWeb. 
    – The government can also assign part of a spectrum that has already been assigned to one or more additional entities, known as secondary assignees, and even terminate assignments where a spectrum or a part of it has remained underutilised for insufficient reasons.

    Source:IE

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has floated two consultation papers seeking enhanced regulation of payment aggregators carrying out face-to-face transactions. 
    • The first deals with activities of offline PAs, while the second proposes to strengthen the ecosystem’s safety by expanding instructions for Know Your Customer (KYC), due diligence of onboarded merchants and operations in Escrow accounts. 
    • The RBI has invited comments/feedback by May 31.  
    • A payment aggregator is a third-party service provider that enables customers to make and businesses to accept payments online.
      • They enable their clients to accept and disburse various payment methods such as debit cards, credit cards, cardless EMIs, UPI, bank transfers, e-wallets, and e-mandates. 
    • The existing guidelines cover their activities in e-commerce sites and other online avenues.
    • Functioning: 
      • Integration: Merchants integrate the payment aggregator’s system into their website or mobile app using APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) or plugins.
      • Payment Processing: When a customer makes a purchase, the payment aggregator securely processes the transaction using the selected payment method.
      • Funds Settlement: After deducting fees, the payment aggregator transfers the funds from the customer’s account to the merchant’s account.
      • Reporting and Analytics: Payment aggregators often provide merchants with tools for tracking transactions, generating reports, and analyzing payment data.
    • Significance:
      • Convenience: Merchants can accept multiple payment methods through a single integration, simplifying their checkout process.
      • Security: Payment aggregators typically employ robust security measures to protect sensitive payment information.
      • Scalability: Merchants can easily scale their payment processing capabilities as their business grows, without the need for extensive development work.
    • Banks providing physical PA services as part of their normal banking relationship would not require any separate authorisation from the RBI.
      • They are only expected to comply with the revised instructions within three months after they are issued.
    • Non-banking entities providing PA services at the point of sale (PoS), that is, offline, would have to inform RBI within 60 days about their intent to seek authorisation.
      • The entities would, however, be allowed to continue their operations while their applications are being reviewed. 
    • Non-banking entities providing PA services online – both those authorised and whose applications are pending, would require to seek approval, about their existing offline PA activity, from the Department of Payment and Settlement Systems (DPSS) and the regulator within 60 days of the directions being mandated. 
    • Eligibility for Application: The non-banking entities providing proximity/face to face transaction services have a minimum net worth of ₹15 crore, this would be extended to ₹25 crore by March 31, 2028. 
    • Categorisation of Merchants: Small merchants would constitute physical merchants with an annual business turnover of less than ₹5 lakh who are not registered under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.
      • Medium merchants, defined as physical or online merchants with annual business turnover of less than ₹40 lakhs who are not registered under GST, would also have to undergo contact point verification. 
      • The PAs must collect information physically to establish the existence of the firm. 
      • They must also verify the bank accounts in which their funds are settled. 
    • Data Security:No entity, other than the card issuer and/or card network, can store data for proximity/face to face payments from August 1, 2025, and direct them to purge data stored previously.
      • To track transactions and to reconcile them, entities would be allowed to store limited data, that is, the last four digits of the card number and the issuer’s name. 
      • The onus for compliance in this domain would also be on card networks. 
    • The purpose of the proposed regulations is to ensure that onboarded merchants do not collect and settle funds for services not offered on their platforms. 
    • While KYC is already mandatory, the regulations seek to extend the scope and make the provisions more nuanced.  
    • It aspires to bring in synergy in regulation covering activities and operations of PAs apart from convergence on standards of data collection and storage.
    • With expansion of the utility and scope of operations of PAs, RBI appears to be strengthening the ecosystem against any opacity.

    Source: TH

    Syllabus: GS1/Culture

    Context:

    • Recently, the Indian Historical Records Commission (IHRC) adopted a new logo and motto.

    About the Indian Historical Records Commission (IHRC)

    • It is, established in 1919, an all-India forum of creators, custodians, and users of records.
    • It is an apex advisory body on archival matters that advises the Government of India on all issues connected with the management of records and their use for historical research.
    • The Union Minister of Culture heads the IHRC.

    Role and Significance

    • The IHRC plays a vital role in identifying, collecting, cataloguing, and maintaining historical documents, manuscripts, and other sources of historical information.
    • By doing so, the Commission ensures that valuable historical knowledge is conserved for future generations.
    • The IHRC has contributed significantly to the growth of public interest in the conservation and use of archives.
    New Logo and Motto
    – The logo signifies the theme and uniqueness of IHRC entirely.
    – The pages in the shape of lotus petals represent IHRC as the resilient nodal institution for maintaining historical records.
    – The Sarnath pillar in the middle represents India’s glorious past.
    – The brown colour theme reinforces the organisation’s mission of preserving, studying, and honouring India’s historical records.
    Motto: ‘Where history is preserved for the future’.
    a. The motto holds great significance for the IHRC and its work.

    Source: PIB

    Syllabus: GS2/Polity

    Context

    • Every year, National Panchayati Raj Day is celebrated on April 24.

    About

    • In the early 1950s, the first National Development Council recommended the formation of a democratic system of governance at the grassroot level. 
    • In 1993, by the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, the Panchayat system came to be implemented in the rural areas to allow for development to happen at grassroot level.
    • There are three levels:
      • Gram Panchayat: This is the village council, the most basic level.
      • Block Panchayat: This council looks after a group of villages.
      • Zila Panchayat: This is the district council, overseeing a larger area.
    • Panchayati Raj is important because it brings democracy down to the village level. 
    • People who understand the local needs and challenges can make decisions about things like:
      • Building roads and schools
      • Providing clean water and sanitation
      • Managing healthcare facilities
    • The Ministry of Panchayati Raj is organizing a National Colloquium on – Governance at the Grassroots after Three Decades of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment – on 24th April, 2024, at Vigyan Bhawan, in observance of National Panchayati Raj Day.

    Source: PIB

    Syllabus: GS1/Tribal Groups

    Context

    • Several members of Dongria Kondh community, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) in Odisha, have warned of boycotting the upcoming elections unless ‘false’ cases registered against them for anti-mining protests and for allegedly having Maoist links are withdrawn. 

    About

    • The Niyamgiri hill range in Odisha state,  is home to the Dongria Kondh tribe.
    • The Dongria have distinctive jewellery, tattoos and hairstyles. 
    • Women wear many rings through their ears and three through their noses, while boys wear two nose rings. 
    • Dongria girls wear clips in their hair and rings and beads around their necks.

    Who are Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)?

    • In 1973, the Dhebar Commission set up a separate category for Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs).
      • In 1975, the Union identified 52 tribal groups as PTGs. 
      • In 1993, 23 more groups were added to the list. Later, in 2006, these groups were named PVTGs.
    • PVTGs are a more vulnerable group among tribal groups in India.
      • These groups have primitive traits, geographical isolation, low literacy, zero to negative population growth rate and backwardness. 
      • Moreover, they are largely dependent upon hunting for food and a pre-agriculture level of technology.
    • According to the 2011 Census, Odisha has the largest population of PVTGs followed by Madhya Pradesh.

    Source: TH

    Syllabus :GS 2/Health/GS 3/S&T

    In News

    Researchers from Kerala have reported a series of cases wherein the use of fairness creams has been linked to nephrotic syndrome.

    • Doctors describe a series of 15 cases of Membranous Nephropathy.

    About

    • The link between face creams containing mercury and nephrotic syndrome is well-established worldwide.
      • Mercury is a highly toxic heavy metal which is used in fairness/anti-ageing creams as in its inorganic form (mercury salts) it can inhibit the formation of melanin resulting in a lighter skin tone. 
    • According to a new Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) report released in October 2023, despite being banned by a global treaty, mercury-containing skin lightening products are still sold by some of the world’s biggest online retailers to unsuspecting consumers.

    About Membranous Nephropathy(MN)

    • It is an autoimmune disease resulting in nephrotic syndrome, a condition when too much protein is released into the urine (proteinuria), ultimately resulting in renal failure
    • A kidney biopsy is used to confirm the diagnosis of membranous nephropathy. 
    • In approximately 70% to 80% of cases of MN, the target antigen has been phospholipase A-2 (PLA2R).
    • Recently, another antigen, Neural epidermal growth factor-like protein 1 (NELL-1), has been linked to a rare form of MN.
    • Treatment :  The key to limiting further kidney damage was recognising the actual cause of nephrotic syndrome by diligently focussing on the patient’s clinical history.
      • Immunosuppressive therapy plays a major role in the treatment of this disease.

    Source:TH

    Syllabus :GS 3/Space 

    In News 

    Four solar flares erupt simultaneously in a rare celestial event.

    About 

    • The sight of “sympathetic solar flares” in different regions of the star was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, showing complex magnetic interactions.
    • The concurrent blasts were part of one single eruption, known as a sympathetic solar flare.

    What are sympathetic flares?

    • Sympathetic flares are caused by multiple eruptions across the Sun’s magnetic field, linked by massive magnetic field loops that lie above the solar surface.
    • When one spot detonates, others follow suit.
      • This leads to coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and massive bursts of plasma.
    • Such solar activity is likely an indication of the Sun reaching the peak of its 11-year solar cycle known as solar maximum.
      • The peak is marked by increased solar events like flares and CMEs.
    • This is the third sympathetic solar flare this year, following a pair of explosions in January and a duo of X-class flares in March.

    Impact on earth

    • If directed towards the Earth, they have the potential to disrupt power grids, telecommunication networks and orbiting satellites and expose astronauts to dangerous doses of radiation. 

    Source:IE

    Syllabus: GS2/Health

    Context

    • Activists have expressed objections over the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) order on increasing the maximum residue limit (MRL) of pesticides in spices and culinary herbs.

    About

    • The MRL of pesticides has increased substantially from 0.01 milligrammes per kilogramme (mg / kg) to 0.1 mg / kg. 
    • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defined MRL as the highest legally tolerable level of pesticide in food or animal feed.

    The MRLs of pesticides for food and commodities are specified under the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulation, 2011.

    Source: TOI

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    Context

    • The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved subscription to compulsory convertible debentures (CCDs) of Napino Auto and Electronics Limited (Napino) by International Finance Corporation.

    Compulsory Convertible Debenture (CCD)

    • A compulsory convertible debenture (CCD) is a type of bond which must be converted into stock by a specified date. 
    • It is classified as a hybrid security, as it is neither purely a bond nor purely a stock.
    International Finance Corporation (IFC) 
    – IFC is a member of the World Bank Group. 
    – It helps developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing private sector investment and providing advisory services to businesses and governments.

    Competition Commission of India
    – Competition Commission of India (CCI) is a statutory body of the Government of India responsible for enforcing the Competition Act, 2002, it was duly constituted in March 2009.
    – The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations, which causes an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
    – The commission is a quasi-judicial body which gives opinions to statutory authorities and also deals with Antitrust cases.

    Source: ZEE

    Syllabus: GS3/Defence

    Context

    • The Indian Air Force (IAF) has conducted successful test firing of Crystal Maze 2 missile.

    About

    • It is an air launched ballistic missile capable of hitting targets over 250 kilometers away. 
    • It is an extended stand-off range air-to-surface missile designed to strike high-value stationary and relocatable targets, including long-range radars and air defense systems. 
    • It is specifically effective in GPS denied environments, and can also penetrate areas protected by air defense systems. 

    Source: IT