September 2018
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[op-ed snap] The need for growth in Indian biosimilars


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Biosimilars, Biologics

Mains level: The potential of generic drugs market in India & the world and how India can lead in its production


India’s rise in the generic drugs market

  1. By responding strongly to a soaring demand for generic drugs, India’s pharmaceutical producers emerged as world market leaders in this sector and were a major business success story in the 2000s
  2. In the process, Indian producers made a valuable contribution to reducing costs and to expanding access to life-saving treatments for patients, both in emerging markets and in developed countries

Current trends in the pharma sector

  1. Globally and especially in developed countries there are waves of consolidation among pharma retailers
  2. There is stiffer competition from Chinese pharma manufacturers
  3. Along with these, an uptick in generic drug applications have combined to put downward pressure on drug prices

Emerging prospects in the pharma sector

  • There is a new push to produce more so-called complex generics
  1. These are hybrid medicines that often contain complex active pharmaceutical ingredients (the part of the drug that produces its effects) or formulations, or routes of delivery
  2. Indian firms have succeeded in capturing 19% of the global market in complex generics thus far
  • Pharma companies would be well-advised to pursue is to expand their footprint in the biosimilars market
  1. Biosimilars are the generic versions of biologics medicines made from animal or plant proteins as opposed to chemicals
  2. Biologics are important market disrupters because they are transforming how we treat diseases, including certain types of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis
  3. Biologics are notable for targeting the underlying causes of diseases as opposed to just the symptoms, with fewer side effects

Need for biosimilars 

  1. The growth in the biosimilars market is welcome from a human development standpoint because they are more affordable than biologics, the high cost of which often puts them out of reach of many patients
  2. Promoting the production of complex generics and biosimilars can have a positive development impact given how targeted they are toward treating non-communicable diseases such as cancer, asthma, and arthritis
  3. An alarming spike is being seen across developing countries in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases
  4. For example, diabetes is fast becoming an epidemic in developing countries, with rates rapidly catching up with those of the developed world

Way forward

  1. It is increasingly clear that the segment of the pharmaceutical market where the demand will grow the fastest in the coming years is products that treat non-communicable diseases
  2. The government should, therefore, strive to promote strong, indigenous producers of complex generics and biosimilars as this has enormous potential to improve public health in emerging markets
Pharma Sector – Drug Pricing, NPPA, FDC, Generics, etc.

[op-ed snap] From Plate to Plough: Maharashtra vs Market


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Issues related to direct & indirect farm subsidies & minimum support prices

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: MSP calculation formulae

Mains level: Maharashtra’s decision of making MSP compulsory and what it might lead to


MSP increase and states response

  1. The Centre’s announcement fixing MSPs at 50 per cent above costs (A2+FL) is viewed as a game-changer in wooing back the farming community
  2. Several states have buffered the MSP increases with bonuses
  3. Madhya Pradesh went a step ahead in the last Kharif when it tried price deficiency payments (Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana), where it compensated farmers of selected crops for the difference between the realised price and MSP
  4. The scheme fizzled out because traders colluded, farmers suffered plummeting prices and despite concerted efforts, the state government could not compensate beyond one-fourth of the total production

Maharashtra’s decision to make MSP compulsory

  1. In a controversial move, the Government of Maharashtra (GoM) has made buying at MSP mandatory in the state for traders
  2. In case the order is not observed, the licence of the trader will be cancelled, a fine of Rs 50,000 imposed and he must serve a jail term of one year

What can be implications of this decision?

  • In the first scenario, let us assume that traders fall in line and buy everything at MSP or above
  1. What if supply exceeds demand for some Kharif products, which is likely to be the case for most pulses, oilseeds and coarse cereals?
  2. Market prices will tend to fall, possibly below MSPs
  3. If the high MSPs are translated into higher retail prices by not allowing any inward flow from neighbouring states, this would amount to creating a republic of its own with elevated price structures
  4. In that case, the GoM may face the wrath of consumers who would be paying much higher prices than consumers in neighbouring states
  • In scenario two, a private trader buys at MSP, unloads the produce at prevailing market prices that are below MSPs and incurs heavy losses
  1. No rational businessman would do that unless the government promises to compensate losses, akin to the BBY of Madhya Pradesh
  • In the third scenario, Maharashtra’s neighbouring states like Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are selling the same crops at prices below MSP
  1. Maharashtra’s traders may move to the adjoining states and buy at market prices
  2. In that case, the GoM becomes the buyer-of-last-resort, resulting in a de facto takeover of the wholesale trade

What is actually required?

  1. The best way to deliver a better deal to farmers is to “get the markets right”
  2. Treat farmers as businessmen and facilitate a conducive environment for them to flourish
  3. Reform archaic laws like the Essential Commodities Act (ECA) 1955 and APMC Act
  4. Invite the private sector to build storage, assaying, grading, packing facilities at the back-end with farmer-producer-organisations (FPOs)
  5. Create competition for APMCs by facilitating private mandis
  6. Freeze the commission of the commission agents. As for the market fee, possibly cap it at 2 per cent of the value of agri-produce being transacted for all commodities across the country
  7. Big agri-processors and organised retailers, including e-commerce players, should be invited to buy directly from FPOs without paying any market fee
  8. The Negotiable warehouse receipt system (NWRS) needs to be stepped up, as does futures’ trading
  9. Export bans need to be banned and Minimum Export Price used judiciously

Way Forward

  1. A better approach to help farmers will be to move through an income policy, a la the Telangana model, which will have the least distortions
  2. It can subsume the input subsidies, setting input prices to be freely determined by the markets
Minimum Support Prices for Agricultural Produce

Nepal, India agree to finalize MoU on Raxual-Kathmandu railway line


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Raxual-Kathmandu railway line

Mains level: Enhancing railway connectivity to Nepal


Countering China

  1. A team of Indian authorities already conducted the first round of survey to connect the Indian rail with Kathmandu.
  2. The move came at a time when there is buzz about the Chinese railway crossing the Himalayas to counter the Indian influence in Nepal.
  3. The Chinese railway line has to cross the friction of two-highly sensitive Tibetan and Indian seismic plates to reach from Kerung to Kathmandu.
  4. But the Indian railway was safe in this matter due to comfortable topography.

India-Nepal Cross Border Rail Links

  1. It is aimed to enhance people-to-people linkage and promote economic growth and development in the region.
  2. Nepal too has expeditiously resolved all the outstanding issues including making available remaining land required for completion of the ongoing rail link projects.
  3. Both sides also agreed to put concerted efforts for completion of the railway lines from Jayanagar to Janakpur-Kurtha and from Jogbani to Biratnagar Customs Yard by the October 2018.
  4. Apart from Raxual-Kathmandu railway line, India has already started building five cross-border railway lines while another railway line – Jayanagar to Janakpur-Kurtha is about to complete within a year.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Nepal

[op-ed snap] Court to the rescue


Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Measures that can be taken to deal with hate crimes in India


Rising hate crimes in India & lessons from the US

  1. As India grapples with hate crimes, the approach of the US judicial system is an eye opener
  2. The US Congress passed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009
  3. The act provides punishment for a person who willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived race, colour, religion, or national origin of any person
  4. The offence includes kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill

Supreme court’s view on hate crimes

  1. India’s Supreme Court, in its judgment of July 17, provides a refreshing approach towards dealing with hate crimes
  2. No citizen can assault the human dignity of another, for such an action would comatose the majesty of the law
  3. In a civilised society, it is the fear of the law that prevents crimes
  4. When the preventive measures face failure, the crime takes place and then there have to be remedial and punitive measures
  5. The Court, therefore, gave preventive, remedial and punitive measures
  6. One of its directions is: “To set a stern example in cases of mob violence and lynching, upon conviction of the accused person(s), the trial court must ordinarily award maximum sentence as provided for various offences under the provisions of the IPC”

Other measures that can be taken by SC

  1. Direct concerned governments to file appeals forthwith to the superior courts against judgments of acquittals and/or granting of bail in all such cases
  2. Hold and declare that bail ought not to be granted in such cases except in the rarest of rare cases and that too for the cogent reasons provided in the order
  3. Direct disciplinary action against concerned police and administration officials for their failure to prevent hate crimes within their territorial jurisdiction after holding an enquiry by an independent commission of enquiry
  4. Hold registered political parties and other registered entities accountable for the acts of commission or omission by their members involved in hate crimes and direct suitable penal action against them
  5. Prohibit those holding constitutional and public offices including as ministers, members of Parliament or state assemblies, panchayat and municipal office bearers from identifying themselves with lynch-mob accused publicly in any manner and in case of any infraction hold them responsible and subject to immediate disqualification from such offices
  6. Sensitise subordinate judiciary and higher judiciary dealing with such hate crimes so as to protect the vulnerable sections of the society including those belonging to minority communities as well as women, children and Dalits by holding seminars and workshops at regular intervals

Way Forward

  1. The judiciary is the last hope of a billion plus people
  2. It must continue to wield its strongest weapon, judgments in PILs, more effectively than ever before to ensure justice
Minority Issues – Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Why is a Public Credit Registry important?


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Inclusive growth & issues arising from it

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: PCR, Deosthalee Committee Report

Mains level: Read the attached story


What is PCR?

  1. A public credit registry is an information repository that collects all loan information of individuals and corporate borrowers.
  2. It helps banks distinguish between a bad and a good borrower and accordingly offer attractive interest rates to good borrowers and higher interest rates to bad borrowers.

How will it impact?

  1. PCR will address issues such as information asymmetry, improve access to credit and strengthen the credit culture among consumers.
  2. It can also address the bad loan problem staring at banks, as corporate debtors will not be able to borrow across banks without disclosing existing debt.
  3. A PCR may also help raise India’s rank in the global ease of doing business index.
  4. Setting up the PCR will help improve India’s rankings in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index.

Panel’s proposals

  1. The move is based on the recommendations of a committee, headed by Y.M. Deosthalee.
  2. The committee has suggested the registry should capture all loan information and borrowers be able to access their own history.
  3. Data is to be made available to stakeholders such as banks, on a need-to-know basis. Data privacy will be protected.

Why PCR is necessary?

  1. Credit information is now available across multiple systems in bits and pieces and not in one window.
  2. Data on borrowings from banks, non-banking financial companies, corporate bonds or debentures from the market, external commercial borrowings (ECBs), foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs), masala bonds, and inter-corporate borrowings are not available in one data repository.
  3. PCR will help capture all relevant information about a borrower, across different borrowing products in one place.
  4. It can flag early warnings on asset quality by tracking performance on other credits.

PCR in other countries

  1. PCR in other countries now include other transactional data such as payments to utilities like power and telecom for retail consumers and trade credit data for businesses.
  2. Regularity in making payments to utilities and trade creditors provides an indication of the credit quality of such customers.

Innovation in lending

  1. Access to credit information, including debt details and repayment history would drive innovation in lending.
  2. For example, currently most banks focus on large companies for loans and consequently the micro, small and medium enterprises are left with limited options for borrowing.
  3. With satisfactory payment history and validated debt details made available, it will increase the credit availability to micro, small and medium enterprises along with deepening of the financial markets.
  4. This will support the policy of financial inclusion.
Banking Sector Reforms

UN begins talks on treaty to protect imperilled High Seas


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UNCLOS

Mains level: Measures undertaken by UN to protect High Seas.


Now Focus on Unprotected High Seas

  1. UN kicked-off talks on a 2020 treaty that would regulate the high seas, which cover half the planet yet lack adequate environmental protection.
  2. Sessions are planned to take place over two years, with the goal of protecting marine biodiversity and avoiding further pillaging of the oceans.
  3. The negotiations will relate to spaces beyond national jurisdictions, or areas that belong to no country in particular.
  4. Talk will focus on the high seas and the international zone of marine waters, or about 46% of the planet’s surface.

High Seas with no restrictions

  1. In 1982, the UN adopted the Convention on the Law of the Sea, but left the high seas free from restrictions.
  2. All States enjoy the traditional freedoms of navigation, overflight, scientific research and fishing on the high seas.
  3. The convention took effect in 1994, without the participation of the U.S.
  4. Since then, shipping routes have expanded considerably, and the resources of the ocean deep have aroused significant interest, whether by fishing or mineral extraction.

Protecting Marine Life

  1. Marine life is reeling from the impact of industrial fishing, climate change and other extractive industries.
  2. UN seeks to share responsibility to protect our global oceans before it is too late.
  3. Talks will focus on creating protected areas on the high seas, more sharing of maritime resources and technology, and research on environmental impacts.

Fishing restrictions

  1. Some whale-hunting nations, like Japan, Iceland and Norway, are expected to be more cautious than others because they fear overly strict fishing restrictions.
  2. The US is also resilient because they are opposed to all regulation of marine genetic resources as they did not ratify UNCLOS.
Indian Ocean Power Competition

Green Tribunal steps in to conserve Western Ghats


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Kasthurirangan Committee Report, Eco-Sensitive Zones of Western Ghats

Mains level: Conservation of Western Ghats


NGT curbs States activities  

  1. The six Western Ghats States have been restrained by the NGT from giving environmental clearance to activities that may adversely impact the eco-sensitive areas of the mountain ranges.
  2. NGT directed that the extent of Eco-Sensitive Zones of Western Ghats, which was notified by the Central government earlier, should not be reduced in view of the recent floods in Kerala.
  3. The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) was led by Madhav Gadgil.

Re-promulgating the earlier Order

  1. The NGT Bench noted that any alteration in the draft notification of zones may seriously affect the environment, especially in view of recent incidents in Kerala.
  2. It was on a petition filed by the Goa Foundation that the Bench issued the order.
  3. The Principal Bench of the panel permitted the MoEFCC to re-publish the draft notification on Eco-Sensitive Zones, which expired on August 26.
  4. It has ordered that the matter may be finalised within six months.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

[pib] First review meeting of Department of Official Language


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Governance, Transparency & Accountability, Citizens Charters

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Department of Official Language, Kanthastha, Lila and Pravah Mobile Apps

Mains level: Promotion of Hindi as an Official Language



The Union Home Minister chaired first review meeting of the Department of Official Language of MHA to discuss the functioning and issues related to implementation of Hindi language in official work.

Promoting Hindi in Official Work

  1. The Minster was informed that the department has developed a computer software called “Kanthasth”.
  2. It will be used for translating the all kinds of official files from English to Hindi and vice versa to make the translation work simpler and quicker.
  3. The Official language department has uploaded a dictionary of more than 15000 scientific and technical words on their website for technical usage.
  4. The Dept. has developed the Lila Mobile App for making the learning of Hindi language easier, which was launched on the occasion of Hindi Diwas last year.
  5. The Department has also started a virtual video conferencing for teaching Hindi in all the  Indian language.

“Pravah” Mobile App

  1. An E-learning platform called the “Pravah” also being developed by the department for use in 16 Indian languages including English.
  2. It will be launched on Hindi Diwas on 14th September, 2018.
  3. Anybody can learn Hindi through his mother tongue with the help of this E-learning platform.


Department of Official Language, MHA

  1. With a view to ensuring compliance of the constitutional and legal provisions regarding official language and to promote the use of Hindi for the official purposes of the Union, the Department of Official Language was set up in June 1975.
  2. It is as an independent Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  3. The Department has been making efforts for accelerating the progressive use of Hindi for the official purposes of the Union.
  4. In accordance with the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961, this Department has been entrusted with the following items of work:-
  • Implementing the provisions of the Constitution relating to the Official Language and the provisions of the Official Languages Act, 1963 (19 of 1963), except to the extent such implementation has been assigned to any other Department.
  • Prior approval of the President for authorising the limited use of a language, other than English, in the proceedings in the High Court of a State.
  • Nodal responsibility for all matters relating to the progressive use of Hindi as the Official Language of the Union including Hindi Teaching Scheme for Central Government Employees etc.
  • Constitution and cadre-management of the Central Secretariat Official Language Service.
  • Matters relating to the Central Translation Bureau.
  • Matters relating to the Regional Implementation Offices.
  • Matters relating to the Committee of Parliament on Official Language.