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Current Affairs 22 May 2024

  1. Supreme Court Rulings on Professional Services Under CPA
  2. Serum Institute of India Ships Malaria Vaccines to Africa
  3. Lab-grown Diamonds (LGDs)
  4. Supreme Court Orders Closure of Mines Near Sariska Tiger Reserve
  5. India Contemplates Free Trade Agreement with EAEU
  6. Pig Butchering Scam


Context:

The Supreme Court ruled that lawyers, as professionals, cannot be subjected to legal proceedings for providing faulty services under the Consumer Protection Act 2019 (CPA).

  • However, the apex court dismissed similar arguments for medical professionals and decided that the judgment in Indian Medical Association vs V P Shantha (1995) should be reviewed by a larger bench for reconsideration.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the Consumer Protection Act (CPA)?
  2. What Did the Apex Court Rule in Indian Medical Association vs V P Shantha (1995)?
  3. What Was the Recent Case Before the SC?
  4. Reasons to Exclude Medical Professionals from CPA Regulations
  5. Why the Supreme Court Did Not Exclude Medical Professionals from CPA Coverage

What is the Consumer Protection Act (CPA)?

  • The CPA focuses on safeguarding consumer interests regarding products and services they use.
  • Initially enacted in 1986, the act was repealed and replaced with an updated version in 2019 to adapt to evolving needs.
  • Consumers dissatisfied with a product or service can lodge a deficiency complaint with the consumer commission.
  • Deficiency in service is defined as any fault, imperfection, shortcoming, or inadequacy in quality, nature, or performance that should legally be maintained.
  • The 2019 Act specifies that a service includes facilities related to banking, insurance, transportation, housing, entertainment, and more.
  • It excludes any service provided free of charge or under a personal service contract.

What Did the Apex Court Rule in Indian Medical Association vs V P Shantha (1995)?

  • In 1995, the Supreme Court ruled that doctors fall under consumer protection laws, allowing for medical negligence claims against them.
  • The court recognized that professional services often involve skilled work, requiring mental effort rather than manual labor.
  • This distinguishes these professions from others, where success may depend on factors beyond the professional’s control.

What Was the Recent Case Before the SC?

  • In 2007, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission decided that lawyers offer a service to their clients, making them liable for deficiency in service claims.
  • This decision was later reviewed by the apex court, which issued a recent judgment.
  • The court determined that the CPA 2019 aims to shield consumers from unfair trade and unethical business practices.
  • The legislation was not meant to cover professional services.
  • It highlighted that the legal profession is unique and cannot be equated with other professions.
  • The court stated that engaging a lawyer is considered a contract of personal service, thus exempting it from consumer protection laws.

Reasons to Exclude Medical Professionals from CPA Regulations

  • A senior advocate representing the Indian Medical Association contended that medical professionals cannot be judged by fixed norms or standards, making them unsuitable for inclusion under the CPA.
  • Legal cases under the CPA are addressed by Consumer Redressal Commissions at the District, State, and National levels.
  • According to the 1986 CPA (applicable in 1995), the President of each Commission must be qualified as a judge at the District, High Court, or Supreme Court level.
  • Other members are required to have expertise in areas such as economics, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, or public administration.
  • There is no mandate for commission members to have medical knowledge, making them unfit to handle complex medical issues.
  • In 2024, another Supreme Court bench showed more empathy towards medical practitioners, arguing that these professionals should not be held to the same standards as other occupations.

Why the Supreme Court Did Not Exclude Medical Professionals from CPA Coverage

  • The court determined that doctors have specific duties to their patients, including deciding on treatment, administering treatments, and determining whether to treat a patient.
  • If a doctor fails to provide a “reasonable degree of care” and breaches these duties, they can be held liable for service deficiencies under the CPA.
  • Requiring commission members to have relevant knowledge and experience for each case would be impractical.
  • District Commissions can handle cases that might be out of the State Commissions’ purview.
  • The responsibility lies with the involved parties to present the necessary evidence and materials for commission members to make an informed decision.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

Recently, Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) announced that the shipment of its first batch of R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccines to Africa. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly half a million children die from malaria annually in Africa, which accounted for 94% of the global malaria cases (233 million) and 95% of the deaths (580,000) in 2022. India reported approximately 3.38 million malaria cases and 5,511 deaths.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is R21/Matrix-M?
  2. Initial Deployment to Africa
  3. About Malaria

What is R21/Matrix-M?

  • The R21 vaccine is the second malaria vaccine endorsed by the WHO, following the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine, which gained WHO recommendation in 2021.
  • Developed by the University of Oxford, the vaccine is manufactured and scaled up by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
  • Utilizing Novavax’s adjuvant technology, the vaccine adheres to stringent safety, quality, and efficacy standards.
    • Adjuvants: Substances that boost the immune system’s response to a vaccine.
    • These are typically used to enhance vaccine effectiveness.
    • The Matrix-M component in this vaccine is a proprietary saponin-based adjuvant created by Novavax.
Key Features
  • High Efficacy: Especially effective when administered just before the high transmission season.
  • Good Efficacy: Effective when administered according to an age-based schedule.

High Impact:

  • Mathematical modeling indicates that the R21 vaccine could have a significant public health impact across various malaria transmission settings, including low transmission areas.

Cost-Effectiveness:

  • Priced between US$ 2 – US$ 4 per dose, the R21 vaccine’s cost-effectiveness is comparable to other recommended malaria interventions and childhood vaccines.

Initial Deployment to Africa

Shipment Details

  • Central African Republic (CAR): The first shipment will be sent to CAR, followed by distributions to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the coming days.
  • Target Region
  • For Africa: According to SII, the R21 vaccine is designed for the African continent, where the malaria parasite is prevalent.
  • India’s Timeline: As the specific parasite strain is not present in India, it will take approximately five more years to develop a malaria vaccine for India.

Current Status in India

  • National Program: Currently, no malaria vaccine is being utilized in India under the national program.

About Malaria

  • Malaria is a severe febrile illness caused by Plasmodium parasites, transmitted to humans via the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
  • Predominantly found in tropical regions, it is a life-threatening disease.
  • Fortunately, malaria is both preventable and curable.
How Malaria Spreads
  • Malaria is not contagious and does not spread directly from person to person; it is transmitted exclusively through the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes.
  • Parasite Species Causing Malaria
  • Among the five Plasmodium species that can infect humans, Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax are the most dangerous.
Symptoms of Malaria
  • Initial symptoms appear 10–15 days after an infected mosquito bite.
  • Common symptoms include fever, headache, and chills, which might be mild and difficult to identify as malaria.
  • In areas where malaria is common, individuals with partial immunity might get infected without showing symptoms.
Preventive Measures

Vector Control Strategies

  • Vector control is essential to prevent malaria and curb its transmission.
  • Effective vector control methods for those in malaria-endemic regions include:
    • Insecticide-Treated Nets (ITNs): Nets treated with insecticides to protect people while they sleep.
    • Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS): Application of insecticides on surfaces where mosquitoes rest.

Chemoprevention and Chemoprophylaxis

  • Antimalarial medications, while primarily used to treat infected patients, can also be administered to prevent malaria.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

India is playing a significant role in the lab-grown diamond industry, positioning itself as the world’s second-largest producer of precious stones created in laboratories rather than extracted from the earth.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are lab grown diamonds?
  2. How are LDGs produced?
  3. What are Lab-Grown Diamonds (LDGs) used for?
  4. Upanishads

What are lab grown diamonds?

  • Lab grown diamonds are diamonds that are produced using specific technology which mimics the geological processes that grow natural diamonds.
  • They are not the same as “diamond simulants” – LDGs are chemically, physically and optically diamond and thus are difficult to identify as “lab grown.”
  • While materials such as Moissanite, Cubic Zirconia (CZ), White Sapphire, YAG, etc. are “diamond simulants” that simply attempt to “look” like a diamond, they lack the sparkle and durability of a diamond and are thus easily identifiable.
  • However, differentiating between an LDG and an Earth Mined Diamond is hard, with advanced equipment required for the purpose.

How are LDGs produced?

  • The most common (and cheapest) is the “High pressure, high temperature” (HPHT) method.
  • As the name suggests, this method requires extremely heavy presses that can produce up to 730,000 psi of pressure under extremely high temperatures (at least 1500 celsius).
  • Usually graphite is used as the “diamond seed” and when subjected to these extreme conditions, the relatively inexpensive form of carbon turns into one of the most expensive carbon forms.
  • Other processes include “Chemical Vapor Deposition” (CVD) and explosive formation that creates what are known as “detonation nanodiamonds”.

What are Lab-Grown Diamonds (LDGs) used for?

  • LDGs have properties similar to natural diamonds, including their optical dispersion which gives them the diamond sheen.
  • They are often used for industrial purposes in machines and tools due to their hardness and extra strength.
  • LDGs have high thermal conductivity but negligible electrical conductivity which makes them valuable for electronics.
  • With the depletion of natural diamonds, LDGs are becoming a replacement for the precious gemstone in the jewelry industry.
  • The growth in production of LDGs does not affect India’s established diamond industry that involves polishing and cutting of diamonds.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, the Supreme Court directed the Rajasthan government to close 68 mines operating within a 1-kilometre radius of the critical tiger habitat (CTH) in the Sariska reserve.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Critical Tiger Habitat (CTH)
  2. Key Facts about Sariska Tiger Reserve
  3. Project Tiger
  4. Organizations or Forums involved in Tiger Conservation:

About Critical Tiger Habitat (CTH)

  • Definition: Also known as core areas of tiger reserves, Critical Tiger Habitats are designated under the Wild Life Protection Act (WLPA), 1972.
  • Purpose: Identified based on scientific evidence, these areas are crucial for tiger conservation and are meant to be kept inviolate. This means they are preserved exclusively for tiger conservation without infringing on the rights of Scheduled Tribes or other forest dwellers.
  • Notification: The designation of CTH is carried out by the state government in consultation with an expert committee constituted for this purpose.

Key Facts about Sariska Tiger Reserve

  • Location: Situated in the Alwar district of Rajasthan, Sariska Tiger Reserve is nestled within the Aravali Hills.
  • Tiger Relocation: Sariska is renowned as the first reserve in the world to successfully relocate tigers.
  • Tourist Attractions: The reserve is famous for its historical and natural sites, including Pandu Pol, Bhangarh Fort, Ajabgarh, Pratapgarh, Siliserh Lake, and Jai Samand Lake.
  • Topography: Sariska features a diverse landscape comprising rocky terrains, scrub thorn arid forests, grassy areas, hilly cliffs, and semi-deciduous woodlands.
  • Vegetation: The vegetation is primarily Northern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forests and Northern Tropical Thorn Forest.
  • Flora: Notable plant species include Dhok trees, salar, kadaya, gol, ber, Banyan, gugal, bamboo, kair, and adusta.
  • Fauna: In addition to tigers, Sariska hosts a variety of wildlife such as leopards, sambhar, chital, and nilgai.

Project Tiger

Introduction:

  • Project Tiger is a conservation program launched by the Indian government on April 1, 1973, to protect tigers from extinction due to widespread hunting and poaching.

Objectives:

  • The primary objectives of Project Tiger are to promote the conservation of the tiger and its habitat, control the poaching of tigers, and maintain a viable population of tigers in India.

Implementation:

  • The program was started in nine tiger reserves of different states in India, covering over 14,000 sq km.
  • The project also ensured the preservation of the natural habitat of tigers, which is vital for their survival.

Success and Challenges:

  • The program’s success was evident from the rise in the tiger population in India, estimated to be around 3,000 by the 1990s.
  • However, the local extermination of tigers in Rajasthan’s Sariska in 2005 was a significant setback.
  • To overcome the challenge, the Indian government established the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to reconstitute Project Tiger.

Current Status:

  • Today, there are 54 tiger reserves across India, spanning 75,000 sq km.
  • The current tiger population in the country stands at 3,167, showing a steady rise from 1,411 in 2006, 1,706 in 2010, and 2,226 in 2014.
  • The goal of Project Tiger is to have a viable and sustainable tiger population in tiger habitats based on a scientifically calculated carrying capacity.

Organizations or Forums involved in Tiger Conservation:

  • Global Tiger Forum(GTF): It is an Inter-Governmental international body working exclusively for the conservation of Tigers. Established in 1994, the Global Tiger Forum (GTF) has its headquarters in New Delhi set up to promote a worldwide campaign to save the tiger, its prey, and its habitat. 
  • The Global Tiger Initiative(GTI):It was launched in 2008 as a global alliance of governments, international organizations, civil society, conservation, and scientific communities, and the private sector, to work together to save wild tigers from extinction. In 2013, the scope was broadened to include Snow Leopards.
  • Wildlife Institute of India (WII): Wildlife Institute of India (WII) offers training programs, academic courses, and advisory in wildlife research and management. It was established in 1982 at Dehradun. It is an autonomous Institution of the Ministry of Environment & Forests.
  • World Wildlife Fund(WWF): It works to conserve and connect tiger habitat, monitors tigers and their prey, and collaborates with governments across the 13 tiger range countries to protect wild tigers.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

India is “seriously considering” initiating discussions for a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), as announced by the Foreign Minister of Belarus during his recent two-day visit to India.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

About the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU)

  • The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is an international economic union and free trade zone that includes countries in central and northern Asia and Eastern Europe.
  • It was established by the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union, signed on May 29, 2014, in Astana.
  • Member countries are Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Objectives
  • The EAEU aims to upgrade and increase the competitiveness of national economies, enhance cooperation, and promote stable development to improve the living standards of the Member States.
  • It facilitates the free movement of goods, services, capital, and labor.
  • It pursues coordinated, harmonized, and unified policies in sectors determined by the Treaty and international agreements within the Union.
Structure
  • Supreme Eurasian Economic Council: The highest authority, consisting of the heads of the Member States.
  • Eurasian Economic Commission: Based in Moscow, it acts as the permanent supranational regulatory body, ensuring the Union’s functioning and development, and proposing further integration measures.
  • Court of the EAEU: Based in Minsk, it serves as the judicial body of the Union.
Key Characteristics
  • Unlike the European Commission, the Eurasian Economic Commission has limited power.
  • Member states can appeal its judgments to other bodies, but the Commission cannot compel a member state to appear before the Court for non-compliance.
  • Disputes are typically resolved bilaterally rather than through EAEU institutions.
  • Unlike the European Union (EU), the EAEU does not have a common currency.

-Source: Times of India



Context:

An online financial fraud called Pig Butchering Scams are increasing across the globe, including in India.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

About the Pig Butchering Scam

  • Also Known As: The “sha zhu pan” scam.
  • Type of Fraud: An online investment fraud where scammers create fake online identities to lure victims into fraudulent investment schemes.
  • Origin of the Term: The term “pig butchering” refers to the scammers’ tactic of “fattening up” their victims by building trust over time before “slaughtering” them and stealing their money.
How It Is Carried Out
  • Initial Contact: The scam begins with the “host” reaching out to potential victims through social media, dating apps, or deceptive messages.
  • Establishing Trust: Once a target, known as the “pig,” is identified, the host builds a false sense of friendship and encourages them to explore cryptocurrency trading.
  • Fraudulent Trading App: The host uses a fake trading app to deceive the victim into believing they are making profits from fabricated trades.
  • Increasing Investment: As the victim’s trust grows, the host persuades them to invest more money, a process known as “fattening the pig.”
  • Withdrawal Attempts: When victims try to withdraw their funds, the fake platform either provides excuses or imposes substantial fees, ultimately revealing the scam. Due to the nature of blockchain transactions, recovering lost funds is extremely challenging.

-Source: The Economic Times


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