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Current Affairs 27 April 2023

CONTENTS

  1. India’s nuclear liability law
  2. National Medical Devices Policy, 2023
  3. India’s Cheetah Translocation Project faces setback due to deaths of cheetahs
  4. Carbon market scheme
  5. Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN)
  6. SUPREME Initiative
  7. Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana

India’s Nuclear Liability Law


Context:

The issues regarding India’s nuclear liability law continue to hold up the more than a decade-old plan to build six nuclear power reactors in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur, the world’s biggest nuclear power generation site under consideration at present.

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Nuclear Liability Law in India
  2. Supplier Liability in CLNDA
  3. Issues with Supplier Liability Clause in India’s Civil Nuclear Liability Law
  4. Existing Nuclear Projects in India
  5. Government’s stand on India’s Nuclear Liability Law

Nuclear Liability Law in India

The nuclear liability law in India deals with compensating victims of nuclear damage caused by a nuclear incident or disaster and sets out liability for those damages.

  • International Nuclear Liability Regime: The regime comprises several treaties and was strengthened after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. The Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) was adopted in 1997 to establish a minimum national compensation amount.
  • India’s Adoption of CSC: India ratified the CSC in 2016, and to align with it, enacted the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (CLNDA) in 2010.
  • CLNDA: The CLNDA enforces strict and no-fault liability on the nuclear plant operator and sets the amount at ₹1,500 crore for damage caused by a nuclear accident. It also requires the operator to cover liability through insurance or financial security.
  • Government Liability: In case the damage claims exceed ₹1,500 crore, the government’s liability amount is limited to the rupee equivalent of 300 million Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) or about ₹2,100 to ₹2,300 crore.
  • Limitations: The Act also specifies limitations on the amount and time when action for compensation can be brought against the operator.
  • NPCIL: The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) operates all 22 existing nuclear reactors in India, and more projects are planned.

Supplier Liability in CLNDA

The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (CLNDA) in India introduced the concept of supplier liability in addition to that of the operator’s liability in the international legal framework on civil nuclear liability.

Background:

  • The international legal framework is based on the exclusive liability of the operator of a nuclear installation.
  • Two conditions under which the national law of a country may provide the operator with the “right of recourse” against the supplier are mentioned in the annex of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC).

CLNDA:

  • Section 17(b) of the CLNDA states that the operator of the nuclear plant shall have the right of recourse against the supplier if the nuclear incident results from an act of the supplier or their employee, which includes supply of equipment or material with patent or latent defects or sub-standard services.

Rationale:

  • The clause on supplier liability was added to the CLNDA as the architects of the law recognised that defective parts were partly responsible for historical incidents such as the Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984.

Exceptions:

  • Apart from the contractual right of recourse or when “intent to cause damage” is established, the CLNDA is the first instance where the concept of supplier liability has been introduced in addition to that of the operator’s liability in the international legal framework on civil nuclear liability.

Issues with Supplier Liability Clause in India’s Civil Nuclear Liability Law

  • The CLNDA, India’s civil nuclear liability law, has a clause on supplier liability which is unique compared to international legal frameworks on civil nuclear liability.
  • Foreign and domestic suppliers of nuclear equipment have been hesitant to enter into nuclear deals with India due to concerns about potentially unlimited liability under the CLNDA and ambiguity over how much insurance to set aside in case of damage claims.
  • The two specific provisions in the law that suppliers have taken issue with are Section 17(b) and Section 46.
  • Section 17(b) states that the operator of the nuclear plant can have the right to recourse against the supplier in case of damage caused by defective parts or sub-standard services provided by the supplier, beyond the operator’s share of compensation for damage.
  • Section 46 potentially allows civil liability claims to be brought against the operator and suppliers through other civil laws such as the law of tort, exposing suppliers to unlimited amounts of liability.
  • These concerns have hindered the growth of nuclear energy in India and caused delays in the operationalization of nuclear deals.

Existing Nuclear Projects in India:

  • Jaitapur nuclear project with EDF’s predecessor Areva, signed in 2009, has been stuck for more than a decade.
  • In 2016, EDF and NPCIL signed a revised MoU, and in 2018, the heads of both signed an agreement on the “industrial way forward” in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron.
  • In 2020, the EDF submitted its techno-commercial offer for the construction of six nuclear power reactors, but the issue arising from India’s nuclear liability law remains an item on the “agenda for both countries”.
  • Multiple rounds of talks have not yet led to a convergence on the issue of nuclear liability law.
  • The nuclear project proposed in Kovvada, Andhra Pradesh, has also been stalled.
  • Despite signing civil nuclear deals with countries such as the U.S., France and Japan, the only foreign presence in India is that of Russia in Kudankulam — which predates the nuclear liability law.

Government’s stand on India’s Nuclear Liability Law:

  • The Indian government maintains that the CLNDA is in line with the CSC.
  • The government argues that Section 17(b) allows but does not require an operator to include the right to recourse against the supplier in the contract.
  • Legal experts point out that a plain reading of Section 17 of the CLNDA suggests that the other two clauses stand even if the right to recourse against the supplier is not mentioned in the contract.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs has stated that Parliament debates over the CLNDA had rejected amendments to include the supplier, and therefore the supplier cannot be liable under a class-action suit.
  • However, private sector players remain unconvinced, and experts point out that during a trial, what would be considered is what is enshrined in the statute and not what was discussed in Parliament.
  • The government has said that the issues regarding the liability law would be resolved before French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to India, which was first scheduled for March but has been pushed to September.
  • The government argues that it would not be sound public policy if the NPCIL waived its right to recourse against the supplier in the contract, even if the law provides for such recourse.
  • For the Jaitapur project, the government has stated that the issues regarding the liability law would be resolved before the visit of the French President.

-Source: The Hindu


National Medical Devices Policy 2023


Context:

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister approved the National Medical Devices Policy, 2023.

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About National Medical Devices Policy, 2023
  2. Salient Features of National Medical Devices Policy, 2023
  3. State of the Medical Device Industry in India

About National Medical Devices Policy, 2023

Vision: 

  • Accelerated growth path with a patient-centric approach and to emerge as the global leader in the manufacturing and innovation of medical devices by achieving 10-12% share in the expanding global market over the next 25 years. 
  • Policy is expected to help the Medical Devices Sector grow from present $11 Bn to $50 Bn by 2030.

Mission: 

  • Policy lays down a roadmap for accelerated growth of the medical devices sector to achieve the following missions viz, Access & Universality, Affordability, Quality, Patient Centred & Quality Care, Preventive & Promotive Health, Security, Research and Innovation and Skilled manpower.

Salient Features of National Medical Devices Policy, 2023:

Strategies to Promote Medical Device Sector:

  • Medical devices sector will be facilitated and guided through a set of strategies that will be cover six broad areas of policy interventions:

Regulatory Streamlining:

  • In order to enhance ease of doing research and business and further to balance patient safety with product innovation measures such as creation of a Single Window Clearance System’ for Licensing of Medical Devices coopting all the stakeholder departments / organizations such as AERB, MeitY, DAHD, etc, enhancing the Role of Indian Standards like BIS and designing a coherent pricing regulation, will be followed.

Enabling Infrastructure:

  • The establishment and strengthening of large medical device parks, clusters equipped with world class common infrastructure facilities in proximity to economic zones with requisite logistics connectivity as envisioned under the National Industrial Corridor Program and the proposed National Logistics Policy 2021 under the ambit of PM Gati Shakti, would be pursued with the State Governments and Industry for better convergence and backward integration with medical device Industry

Facilitating R&D and Innovation:

  • The policy envisages to promote Research & Development in India and complement the Department’s proposed National Policy on R&D and Innovation in the Pharma- MedTech Sector in India.
  • It also aims at establishing Centres of Excellence in academic and research institutions, innovation hubs, ‘plug and play’ infrastructures and support to start-ups.

Attracting Investments in the Sector:

  • Along with resent schemes and interventions like Make in India, Ayushman Bharat program, Heal-in-India, Start-up mission, the policy encourages private investments, series of funding from Venture Capitalists, and also Public-Private Partnership(PPP).

Human Resources Development:

  • In order to have a steady supply of skilled work force across the value chain such as scientists, regulators, health experts, managers, technicians, etc., the policy envisages:
    • For skilling, reskilling and upskilling of professionals in the medical device sector, we can leverage the available resources in Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship
    • The policy will support dedicated multidisciplinary courses for medical devices in existing institutions to ensure availability of skilled manpower for futuristic medical technologies, high-end manufacturing and research, to produce future-ready MedTech human resources and to meet the evolving needs of the Sector
    • To develop partnerships with foreign academic/industry organizations to develop medical technologies in order to be in equal pace with the world market.

Brand Positioning and Awareness Creation:

  • The policy envisages the creation of a dedicated Export Promotion Council for the sector under the Department which will be an enabler to deal with various market access issues:
    • Initiate studies and projects for learning from best global practices of manufacturing and skilling system so as to explore the feasibility of adapting such successful models in India.
    • Promote more forums to bring together various stakeholders for sharing knowledge and build strong networks across the sector.
    • The policy is expected to provide the required support and directions to strengthen the medical devices industry into a competitive, self-reliant, resilient and innovative industry that caters to the healthcare needs of not only India but also of the world.
    • The National Medical Devices Policy, 2023 aims to place the medical devices sector on an accelerated path of growth with a patient-centric approach to meet the evolving healthcare needs of patients.

State of the Medical Device Industry in India

  • The medical devices industry is a vital part of the Indian healthcare sector and includes products used for diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and management of medical conditions, illnesses, and disabilities.
  • The sector has five broad classifications, including electronics equipment, implants, consumables and disposables, in vitro diagnostics (IVDs) reagents, and surgical instruments.
  • The industry remained unregulated until 2017, when the Medical Device Rules were introduced for comprehensive regulation of medical devices under the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940.
Scope of the Sector:
  • The Indian medical device market is dominated by multinational companies, with approximately 80% of sales by value generated from imported medical devices.
  • The Indian medical devices industry’s contribution has become even more critical as the country supported the global fight against COVID-19 by producing essential medical devices and diagnostic kits such as ventilators, RT-PCR kits, infrared thermometers, personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, and N-95 masks.
  • The medical devices industry in India is valued at USD 5.2 billion, contributing about 4-5% to the USD 96.7 billion Indian healthcare industry.
  • Although India is one of the top twenty markets for medical devices globally and the fourth largest market in Asia after Japan, China, and South Korea, the medical devices sector in India is small compared to the rest of the manufacturing industry.
  • Currently, India imports 80-90% of medical devices in the USD 15 billion market.
  • The US, Germany, China, Japan, and Singapore are the top five exporters of high-technology medical equipment to India.

-Source: The Hindu, PIB


India’s Cheetah Translocation Project Faces Setback Due to Deaths of Cheetahs


Context:

India’s ambitious Cheetah Translocation Project is facing a new set of challenges as two cheetahs have died, bringing the number of cheetahs left in the project to 18 out of the initial 20.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. Details about the Deaths of Cheetahs in India’s Translocation Project
  3. About Cheetah

Details:

  • Uday, a six-year-old male cheetah, died on April 23, 2023, in Kuno National Park.
  • Sasha, a five-year-old female cheetah, died on March 27, 2023, in the same park.
  • The number of cheetahs left in the project is now 18 out of the initial 20.
  • The government is considering alternative conservation models.
  • One option is the South African model of conserving cheetahs in fenced reserves.

Details about the Deaths of Cheetahs in India’s Translocation Project

  • The Cheetah Translocation Project aimed for a 50% survival rate for the first year, which is 10 out of 20 cheetahs.
  • Experts suggest that the project overestimated Kuno National Park’s carrying capacity for cheetahs.
  • Predation is the biggest killer of cheetahs, accounting for 53.2% of mortality according to a South African study.
  • Lions, leopards, hyenas, and jackals are the primary predators responsible for cheetah deaths.
  • Cheetahs experience high cub mortality rates of up to 90% in protected areas due to predation.
  • In India, leopards are likely to be the chief predator of cheetahs as lions are mostly absent except in Gujarat.
  • Other causes of mortality include holding camps, immobilization/transit, tracking devices, and other wildlife killing cheetahs, including cubs.
The Cheetah Translocation Project is considering the following options:
  • Preparing Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary in the Chambal River valley as the second home for cheetahs.
  • Moving a few cheetahs from Kuno to the safety of an 80-sq-km fenced area in Rajasthan’s Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve.
    • However, both options would mean shifting the project’s goal from establishing the cheetah in an open landscape to managing the African imports as a few pocket populations in fenced-in or restricted areas

About Cheetah:

  • The cheetah is one of the oldest of the big cat species, with ancestors that can be traced back more than five million years to the Miocene era.
  • The cheetah is also the world’s fastest land mammal that lives in Africa and Asia.
African Cheetah
  • IUCN status – Vulnerable
  • CITES status – Appendix-I of the List. This List comprises of migratory species that have been assessed as being in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range.
  • Habitat – Around 6,500-7,000 African cheetahs present in the wild.
  • Physical Characteristics – Bigger in size as compared to Asiatic Cheetah.
Asian Cheetah
  • IUCN Status – Critically Endangered.
  • CITES – Appendix 1 of the list
  • Habitat – 40-50 found only in Iran.
  • Physical Characteristics – Smaller and paler than the African cheetah. Has more fur, a smaller head and a longer neck. Usually have red eyes and they have a more cat-like appearance.

-Source: Indian Express


Carbon Market Scheme


Context:

Recently, The 27 member states in the EU approved a revamp to the bloc’s so-called carbon market, which is set to make it more costly to pollute for businesses in Europe, sharpening the main tool the EU has to discourage carbon dioxide emissions in the industrial sector.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Changes to EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS)
  2. Key points related to what else was approved in the EU’s “Fit for 55” package of climate plans:

Changes to EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS)

Introduction

  • The changes to the EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), more commonly called the bloc’s carbon market.
  • The EU ETS is the bloc’s carbon market that requires permits for CO2 emissions from factories, power plants, and the aviation sector.
  • The goal is to create financial incentives for reducing emissions and generate funds for climate-related projects.

Details of the Carbon Market

  • European factories and power plants have had to purchase permits for their CO2 emissions since 2005.
  • Prices of permits become more expensive as emissions increase.
  • The law applies to power-generation industries, energy-intensive industries, and the aviation sector.
  • It will be expanded to cover other greenhouse gases like methane and nitrogen oxides.

Impact of the Carbon Market

  • Emissions from the sectors covered by the EU ETS have decreased by 43% in the EU.
  • It is difficult to determine how much of this reduction is due to the carbon market.
  • Partially-related breakthroughs have also contributed to limiting emissions.

Changes to the Carbon Market

  • The changes will set more stringent targets and tougher penalties over time.
  • The new rules aim to increase emissions reductions by 2030 to 62% compared to 2005 levels.
  • Companies will gradually phase out free permits for lower levels of emissions.
  • Heavy industries will phase out by 2034, while the aviation sector will phase out by 2026.

Resistance to the Changes

  • Some members of the EU opposed the changes, arguing that the targets were too ambitious and would put an unfair strain on the industry.
  • Poland and Hungary opposed the changes, while Belgium and Bulgaria abstained from the vote.

EU Voting Policies

  • Some EU policies and laws require unanimous approval from member states, while most require a qualified majority vote.

Key points related to what else was approved in the EU’s “Fit for 55” package of climate plans:

  • Incorporation of parts of the shipping industry into the ETS, requiring them to buy permits to cover their emissions at times
  • Establishment of a new, separate ETS for the buildings and road transport sectors and some others, mainly small industry
  • Changes specifically tailored to the aviation sector were approved
  • Introduction of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) to prevent carbon-intensive products imported from outside the EU from offsetting the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction efforts
  • Setting up of a Social Climate Fund, financed mainly by carbon market revenues generated by the ETS, to support vulnerable households, micro-enterprises, and transport users coping with the price impacts of the emissions trading system.

-Source: Indian Express


Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN)


Context:

The Rural Development Ministry recently said that ULPIN has been adopted by 26 states and union territories so far.

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN):
  2. Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP):

About Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN):

  • The Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN) is a 14-digit identification number that is a part of the Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP).
  • It aims to uniquely identify every surveyed parcel of land and prevent land fraud, especially in rural India where land records are outdated and disputed.
  • ULPIN is based on the longitude and latitude coordinates of the land parcel and depends on detailed surveys and geo-referenced cadastral maps.
  • It is a single, authoritative source of truth for information on any parcel of land or property to provide integrated land services to the citizens as well as all stakeholders.
  • ULPIN will compile every detail pertaining to different properties from across the country and link various types of data relating to the landed properties, which are currently under the possession of different ministries and departments.

Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP):

  • DILRMP is a central sector scheme implemented by the Department of Land Resources under the Ministry of Rural Development.
  • Its aim is to develop an Integrated Land Information Management System (ILIMS) across the country by building upon the commonalities that exist in land records in various states.
  • The ILIMS integrates all land records databases with banks, financial institutions, circle rates, registration offices, and other sectors.
  • Major components of the program include the computerization of land records, survey/re-survey, and computerization of registration.

-Source: Times of India


SUPREME Initiative


Context:

The Union Minister of Science and Technology has launched the SUPREME initiative, which aims to provide financial assistance for the maintenance and upgrade of analytical instrumentation facilities (AIFs).

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About SUPREME Initiative
  2. Criterion for Selection

About SUPREME Initiative

Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Science and Technology

The Support for Up-gradation Preventive Repair and Maintenance of Equipment (SUPREME) is a government initiative that provides financial support for repair, upgradation, maintenance, retrofitting, or acquiring additional attachments to increase the functional capabilities of existing analytical instrumentation facilities.

Funding Pattern:
  • The funding pattern in the scheme would be 75:25 for all private and government-owned institutions (except for state-funded institutions for which 100% funding would be considered).
Eligibility:
  • Different facilities created under the projects/ Analytical instrumentation facilities (AIFs) created earlier from the support of DST, only will be considered for the funding support under this Scheme.
  • Such facilities at institutions recognised by the University Grants Commission (UGC) are eligible to apply for grants under this initiative.
  • Duration: The duration of support will be for a period not exceeding 3 years.

Criterion for Selection:

  • Apart from the academic and research merits of the organizations, details of how the revival of the research facility will benefit the scientific community/MSMEs/Startups will be taken into account for evaluating the proposals.
  • Proven records of the sample(s) analyzed, publications, patents, different beneficiaries/stakeholders associated with the facility and other parameters like Scientific Social Responsibility/industrial R&D components will be considered for screening of the proposals.
  • The selection process will be through a peer review mechanism and a visit to the organizations if necessary.
  • Expert Committee will evaluate the proposals and assist DST in making the final selection.

-Source: Times of India


Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana


Context:

In the past two financial years, only 329 of the 647 claims filed for accident insurance cover provided to bank account holders under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) have been settled. This information was revealed in a reply to an RTI (Right to Information).

Relevance:

 GS II- Welfare schemes

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana:
  2. Extension of PMJDY with New features
  3. The road ahead

About Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana:

Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana – PMJDY was announced by Prime Minister in 2014, and has been a key initiative towards the commitment to provide financial inclusiveness and support to the marginalized and hitherto socio-economically neglected classes.

Background  

Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) is National Mission for Financial Inclusion to ensure access to financial services, namely, Banking/ Savings & Deposit Accounts, Remittance, Credit, Insurance, Pension in an affordable manner.

Objectives
  • Ensure access of financial products & services at an affordable cost
  • Use of technology to lower cost & widen reach
Basic tenets of the scheme
  • Banking the unbanked – Opening of basic savings bank deposit (BSBD) account with minimal paperwork, relaxed KYC, e-KYC, account opening in camp mode, zero balance & zero charges
  • Securing the unsecured – Issuance of Indigenous Debit cards for cash withdrawals & payments at merchant locations, with free accident insurance coverage of Rs. 2 lakhs.
  • Funding the unfunded – Other financial products like micro-insurance, overdraft for consumption, micro-pension & micro-credit
Initial Features: 6 Pillars based on which the scheme was launched
  • Universal access to banking services – Branch and BC
  • Basic savings bank accounts with overdraft facility of Rs. 10,000/- to every household
  • Financial Literacy Program– Promoting savings, use of ATMs, getting ready for credit, availing insurance and pensions, using basic mobile phones for banking
  • Creation of Credit Guarantee Fund – To provide banks some guarantee against defaults
  • Insurance – Accident cover up to Rs. 1,00,000 and life cover of   Rs. 30,000 on account opened between 15 Aug 2014 to 31 January 2015
  • Pension scheme for Unorganized sector
Important approach adopted in PMJDY based on past experience:
  • Accounts opened are online accounts in core banking system of banks, in place of earlier method of offline accounts opening with technology lock-in with the vendor
  • Inter-operability through RuPay debit card or Aadhaar enabled Payment System (AePS)
  • Fixed-point Business Correspondents
  • Simplified KYC / e-KYC in place of cumbersome KYC formalities

Extension of PMJDY with New features

The Government decided to extend the comprehensive PMJDY program with some modifications

  • Focus shift from ‘Every Household’ to Every Unbanked Adult’
  • RuPay Card Insurance – Free accidental insurance cover on RuPay cards increased from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh for PMJDY accounts opened after 28.8.2018.
  • Enhancement in overdraft facilities –
  • OD limit doubled from Rs 5,000/- to Rs 10,000/-;  OD upto Rs 2,000/- (without conditions).
  • Increase in upper age limit for OD from 60 to 65 years
Jan Dhan Darshak App
  • A mobile application, was launched to provide a citizen centric platform for locating banking touch points such as bank branches, ATMs, Bank Mitras, Post Offices, etc. in the country.
  • The facilities under Jan Dhan Darshak App could be availed as per the need and convenience of common people.
The road ahead
  • Endeavour to ensure coverage of PMJDY account holders under micro insurance schemes. Eligible PMJDY accountholders will be sought to be covered under PMJJBY and PMSBY. Banks have already been communicated about the same.
  • Promotion of digital payments including RuPay debit card usage amongst PMJDY accountholders through creation of acceptance infrastructure across India
  • Improving access of PMJDY account holders to Micro-credit and micro investment such as flexi-recurring deposit etc. 

-Source: The Hindu


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