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Prelims Booster

31st August – Prelims Booster

National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority

On  the foundation day of  National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA) Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers has congratulated NPPA “for working tirelessly to ensure availability of life-saving drugs at reasonable prices consistently for affordable health care system to all citizens”. 

Role of NPPA in COVID-19 pandemic –

  • A stakeholders consultation with medical devices industry associations and civil society groups was held by the NPPA wherein it was stressed that all the manufacturers and importers of critical medical equipment shall ensure sufficient availability of the same.
  • It was reiterated that all the medical devices have come under price regulation accordingly, price increase of medical devices would be monitored.
  • The NPPA told the industry that it was not “business as usual” and not the time to profiteer. The Medical Devices Industry Associations have been urged to bring down the retail price of critical equipment in the public interest in the prevailing situation as has been done by the manufacturers/importers of N-95 masks.

About National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority –

  • The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), is an independent body of experts under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, formed in the year 1997 so as to implement and enforce the provisions of the Drugs Prices Control Order (DPCO) for regulating medicine prices in accordance with the powers delegated to it.
  • NPPA is delegated with the powers to exercise the functions of the Central Government in respect of various paragraphs of the Drug Price Control Orders (DPCO) – DPCO, 1995 and now DPCO, 2013.
  • The functions of NPPA include fixation and revision of prices of scheduled drugs (those medicines included in Schedule I of the DPCO which are subject to price control) and formulations, Monitoring of prices of decontrolled drugs and formulations, Implementation and enforcement of the provisions of DPCO in accordance with the powers delegated, Monitoring the availability of drugs, identify shortages, taking remedial steps, etc.
  • The organisation is also entrusted with the task of recovering amounts overcharged by manufacturers for the controlled drugs from the consumers.
  • All the powers of Government of pricing according to Essential Commodities Act have been delegated to it. Under DPCO, 2013 the powers to Review are vested with the Government.

UN guidelines for people with disabilities

The United Nations has released its first-ever guidelines on access to social justice for people with disabilities to make it easier for them to access justice systems around the world. The guidelines outline a set of 10 principles and detail the steps for implementation.

As per statistics maintained by the UN, in India 2.4 per cent of males are disabled and two per cent of females from all age groups are disabled. Disabilities include psychological impairment, intellectual impairment, speaking, multiple impairments, hearing, seeing among others. 

What are these principles?

The 10 principles are –

  • Principle 1 – All persons with disabilities have legal capacity and, therefore, no one shall be denied access to justice on the basis of disability.
  • Principle 2 – Facilities and services must be universally accessible to ensure equal access to justice without discrimination of persons with disabilities.
  • Principle 3 – Persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, have the right to appropriate procedural accommodations.
  • Principle 4 – Persons with disabilities have the right to access legal notices and information in a timely and accessible manner on an equal basis with others.
  • Principle 5 – Persons with disabilities are entitled to all substantive and procedural safeguards recognised in international law on an equal basis with others, and States must provide the necessary accommodations to guarantee due process.
  • Principle 6 – Persons with disabilities have the right to free or affordable legal assistance.
  • Principle 7 – Persons with disabilities have the right to participate in the administration of justice on an equal basis with others.
  • Principle 8 – Persons with disabilities have the rights to report complaints and initiate legal proceedings concerning human rights violations and crimes, have their complaints investigated and be afforded effective remedies.
  • Principle 9 – Effective and robust monitoring mechanisms play a critical role in supporting access to justice for persons with disabilities.
  • Principle 10 – All those working in the justice system must be provided with awareness-raising and training programmes addressing the rights of persons with disabilities, in particular in the context of access to justice.

How does the UN define a person with a disability?

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was adopted in 2007 as the first major instrument of human rights in the 21st century, defines persons with disabilities as those “who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”.

What does discrimination on the basis of disability mean?

“‘Discrimination on the basis of disability’ means any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of disability which has the purpose or effect of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis with others, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. It includes all forms of discrimination, including denial of reasonable accommodation”, states the UN.

Tibet

Chinese President Xi Jinping has outlined plans to “solidify border defence” and build an “impregnable wall” to ensure the stability of Tibet.

Details –

Speaking at the Central Committee’s two-day central symposium on Tibet, the Party’s most important policymaking event for the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), he called for “sinicising Tibetan Buddhism” and deepening the government’s “patriotic education” initiatives to combat separatism. His remarks in Beijing also underlined the need to “solidify border defence”.

Patriotic education –

  • President Xi also highlighted the need for “maintaining the unity of the motherland and strengthening national unity as the focus” of the Party’s work in Tibet, and outlined a number of initiatives to expand what the Party calls “patriotic education”.
  • “It is necessary to strengthen the education and guidance of the masses, extensively mobilise the masses to participate in the struggle against separatism, and form an impregnable wall for maintaining stability,” he said.
  • Ideological and political education” will be strengthened in schools at all levels, with the idea, Mr. Xi said, of “burying the seeds of loving China in the depths of the hearts of every youth”. He called on officials to “actively guide Tibetan Buddhism” and “promote” its “sinicisation”.
  • The initiatives are part of wider moves by the Communist Party to strengthen what it calls ideological discipline.

About ‘Tibet’ –

  • Tibet is a region on the Tibetan Plateau in Asia, spanning about 2.4 million km2 – nearly a quarter of China’s territory (locally known as Xizang)
  • It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups.
  • Tibet is the highest region on Earth, with an average elevation of 4,900 metres. The highest elevation in Tibet is Mount Everest, Earth’s highest mountain, rising 8,848 m above sea level.

Tibetan uprising of 1959 –

  • From 1912 until the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Tibet was independent. Therefore, they have protested against what they regard as China’s rule imposed after the People’s Liberation Army occupation of Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) in 1950.
  • The Dalai Lama’s government alone ruled the land until 1951. Tibet was not “Chinese” until People’s Liberation Army (PLA) marched in and made it so. This has often been described by the Tibetan people and third party commentators as “a cultural genocide”.
  • The unsuccessful Tibetan Uprising of 1959, in which Tibetans rebelled in an attempt to overthrow the Chinese government, led to the fleeing of the 14th Dalai Lama to India.
  • The 14th Dalai Lama, continues to head the Tibetan government-in-exile from McLeod Ganj, a suburb of Dharamsala, India which coordinates political activities for Tibetans in India.
  • Dalai Lama advocates increased autonomy for Tibet, rather than full independence, but the Chinese government generally refuses to negotiate with him.

Administrative Rules for J&K

The Union Home Ministry has notified new rules for administration in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) that specify the functions of the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) and the Council of Ministers.

What are the new rules?

  • According to the transaction of business rules, “police, public order, All India Services and anti-corruption” will fall under the executive functions of the L-G, implying that the Chief Minister or the Council of Ministers will have no say in their functioning.
  • The proposals or matters which affect or are likely to affect peace and tranquillity or the interest of any minority community, the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the Backward Classes “shall essentially be submitted to the Lieutenant Governor through the Chief Secretary, under intimation to the Chief Minister, before issuing any orders”.
  • The Council of Ministers, led by the Chief Minister, will decide service matters of non-All India Services officers, proposal to impose new tax, land revenue, sale grant or lease of government property, reconstituting departments or offices and draft legislation.
  • In case of difference of opinion between the L-G and a Minister, when no agreement could be reached even after a month, the “decision of the Lieutenant Governor shall be deemed to have been accepted by the Council of Ministers”.
  • The rules state that “any matter which is likely to bring the Government of the Union territory into controversy with the Central Government or with any State Government” shall, as soon as possible, be brought to the notice of the L-G and the Chief Minister by the Secretary concerned through the Chief Secretary.
  • Under the rules, there will be 39 departments in the UT, such as school education, agriculture, higher education, horticulture, election, general administration, home, mining, power, Public Works Department, tribal affairs and transport.
  • The rules say all communications received from the Centre, including those from the Prime Minister and other Ministers, other than those of a routine or unimportant character, shall, as soon as possible after their receipt, be submitted by the Secretary to the Chief Secretary, the Minister in charge, the Chief Minister and the L-G for information.

Background –

  • On August 6, 2019, Parliament read down Article 370 of the Constitution revoking the special status of J&K and bifurcated and downgraded the State into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, with the former having a Legislative Assembly.
  • The erstwhile State has been under Central rule since June 2018 and the elected Assembly was dissolved in November the same year. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, while introducing the legislation in Parliament last year, said J&K’s Statehood would be restored soon.
  • J&K has been without a Chief Minister since June 2018. According to the requirements of the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019, fresh elections will be held after the delimitation exercise is completed next year.

Consociationalism

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun has called for the proclamation of a “secular state” during a televised address to mark the upcoming centenary of the Lebanese state. Political scientists are talking if the state of Lebanon will end its consociational character which is represented through its ‘confessional system’.

What is ‘consociationalism’?

  • Political scientists define consociational state as a state with major internal divisions along ethnic, religious or linguistic lines. It is a stable democratic system in deeply divided societies that is based on power sharing between elites from different social groups.
  • Consociational democracy exists in completely divided countries; where those differences could be seen as obstacles to establish a democratic system with full stability.
  • The goals of consociationalism are mainly to achieve governmental stability, the persistence of the power-sharing arrangements, survival of democracy and avoidance of violence and conflicts. When consociationalism is organised along religious confession’s line, it is known as confessionalism as it is the case in Lebanon.

Lebanese confessionalism –

  • Lebanon has 18 officially recognised religious groups that led to the establishment of its confessional political system with a power-sharing mechanism based on religious interests.
  • The highest offices are proportionally reserved for representatives for different religious communities. Lebanese political parties are formed upon sectarian interest.
  • Positions in the government reallocated on a similar basis. The pact also by customs allocated public offices along religious lines, with the top three political positions in the ruling troika were distributed as follow: the president of the republic a Maronite-Christian; the speaker of the parliament a Shiaa-Muslim and the prime minister a Sunni-Muslim. The Orthodox were given the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives and deputy prime minister. 128 seats in parliament are confessionally distributed and elected; each religious community has a preserved number of seats in the parliament and coalitions are formed for electoral interests.
  • The rule of proportionality has also been applied to the composition of governments. The Lebanese leaders ensure that the government looks like a mini-parliament, reflecting their sectarian, regional and political structure. According to the provisions of the Lebanese Constitution, the distribution of powers and responsibilities should be applied to this coalition (sectarian representation), including the other levels in the State.

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