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Prelims Booster

28th September – Prelims Booster

National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority

The Empowered Group 2, Government of India has recommended NPPA to consider capping the ex-factory price of liquid oxygen in order to ensure its supply to fillers at reasonable prices. It has also requested NPPA to consider a cap for ex-factory price of oxygen in cylinders in order to ensure supply of oxygen cylinders from filler at reasonable prices.

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.

JIMEX 20

The 4th edition of India – Japan Maritime bilateral exercise JIMEX, which is conducted biennially between the Indian Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) was held recently.

Background –

JIMEX series of exercises commenced in January 2012 with special focus on maritime security cooperation. The last edition of JIMEX was conducted in October 2018 off Visakhapatnam, India.

Objective –

  • JIMEX 20 showcases high degree of inter-operability and joint operational skills through conduct of a multitude of advanced exercises, across the spectrum of maritime operations.
  • Multi-faceted tactical exercises involving weapon firings, cross deck helicopter operations and complex surface, anti-submarine and air warfare drills will consolidate coordination developed by the two navies.
  • JIMEX 20 will further enhance the cooperation and mutual confidence between the two navies and fortify the long standing bond of friendship between the two countries.

POSHAN Maah

September month is celebrated as Rashtriya Poshan Maah each year under POSHAN Abhiyaan (PM’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment), which was launched in 2018. Poshan Maah aims to create  mobilisation across the country for improving Nutrition indicators.

About POSHAN Maah –

  • The primary objective of the celebration of Poshan Maah is to take the messages of POSHAN to the grass root level.
  • The programme is an initiative of WCD Ministry and NITI Aayog, which is supported by 18 line Ministries/Departments/Government Organisations.
  • It seeks to synergise all efforts by leveraging technology and intends to take nutrition awareness to the level of Jan Andolan or People’s Movement.
  • The programme focuses on several themes – Antenatal Care, Optimal Breastfeeding (Early & Exclusive), Complementary Feeding, Anaemia, Growth Monitoring, Girls-education, diet, right age of Marriage, Hygiene & Sanitation, Food Fortification.

About POSHAN Abhiyaan –

  • POSHAN stands for Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition.
  • The National Nutrition Mission (NNM), also known as the POSHAN Abhiyan, aims to reduce stunting, underweight and low birth weight each by 2 per cent per annum; and anaemia among children, adolescent girls and women, each by 3 per cent per annum by 2022.
  • However, the Global Burden of Disease Study 1990–2017 has estimated that if the current trend continues, India cannot achieve these targets under NNM by 2022.

Principle Market Yard

To nullify the negative impact of the Agricultural Bill on Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation), SAD president Sukhbir Badal has suggested to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to declare the entire state as a ‘Principal Market Yard’.

What is the definition of Principal Market Yard currently?

  • According to Punjab Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act, there are three types of yards under the Punjab Mandi Board (PMB) — Principal Market Yard, Sub Yard and Purchase centres.
  • These yards are notified by the PMB in a specific area in certain acres. As per APMC Act, the PMB has 151 principal market yards, 287 sub yards and over 1,400 small mandis or purchase centres.
  • Proper infrastructure is developed in these principal yards which included civic amenities, sheds, office buildings, canteen, platform, canteen roads, electrification and even public health facilities. The small mandis have temporary arrangements of minimum civic amenities during the procurement season.

What will change if the entire state is declared a Principal Market Yard?

Experts said declaring the entire state as Principal Market Yard would mean the purchaser has to pay the same taxes outside the PMB yards even in a private trade area.

Is it even possible to declare the whole Punjab as Principal Mandi Yard?

  • It is possible under its own APMC Act. But the bigger the question here is how the state government will manage the entire state as a market yard.
  • In the current yards of PMB, there is market committee staff to manage the sale and purchase. How the state will manage the sale purchase outside the PMB yards? The government will have to develop a system to bring every purchaser under one tax regime in the state.
  • Despite the APMC Act only farmers directly selling to companies go to the PMB yards. In Punjab around 18 million tonnes wheat, which is government purchase, is produced out of which 13 million tonnes is sold to the government for the contribution in the national pool and out of remaining around 5 million tonnes, 2 million tonnes is kept by the farming families for seed and self-consumption purpose and nearly 3 million tonnes is sold in the open market to the flour mills, bread companies and other processing units etc. How this trade will be managed if the entire state is declared a Principal Mandi Yard. It is difficult to implement practically.

What can be the implications of such a move?

  • Such a step could isolate Punjab and be beyond the centre’s Bills on agriculture applicable to the rest of India.
  • Prof Gian Singh, retired Economics Professor of the Punjabi University in Patiala, said that the Centre, which purchases the wheat and paddy of Punjab, may not like the idea if the state nullifies its Bills and could decide now to purchase from the state, an annual expenditure of Rs 65,000 crore. “The state government does not have money to pay its staff’s salaries then how it will purchase this huge crop?
  • Even if the Punjab government purchase it, where it will be stored? The state does not have the infrastructure to store it because centre’s Food Corporation of Indian (FCI) manages the entire storage of wheat and paddy in the state,” explained Prof Gian Singh. Prof Bangu said trader who will be supposed to pay the taxes even outside the mandis will start paying even lesser to the farmers to keep their profit margin intact.

Retrospective Taxation

Vodafone Group has claimed that it won an international arbitration case against the Indian government, ending one of the most high-profile disputes in the country involving a $2 billion tax claim.

The ruling –

  • An international arbitration tribunal in The Hague ruled that India’s imposition of a tax liability on Vodafone, as well as interest and penalties, were in a breach of an investment treaty agreement between India and the Netherlands.
  • India had claimed a total of ₹27,900 crore ($3.79 billion), including about $2 billion in tax, as well as interest and penalties.
  • The tribunal, in its ruling, said the government’s demand is in breach of “fair and equitable treatment” and it must cease seeking the dues from Vodafone. It also directed India to pay £4.3 million ($5.47 million) to the company as compensation for its legal costs.
  • One of the major factors for the Court of Arbitration to rule in favour of Vodafone was the violation of the BIT and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).
  • In 2014, when the Vodafone Group had initiated arbitration against India at the Court of Arbitration, it had done so under Article 9 of the BIT between India and the Netherlands.
  • Article 9 of the BIT says that any dispute between “an investor of one contracting party and the other contracting party in connection with an investment in the territory of the other contracting party” shall as far as possible be settled amicably through negotiations.
  • The other was Article 3 of the arbitration rules of UNCITRAL, which, among other things, says that “constitution of the arbitral tribunal shall not be hindered by any controversy with respect to the sufficiency of the notice of arbitration, which shall be finally resolved by the arbitral tribunal”.

Background –

  • Vodafone’s tax dispute stems from its $11 billion deal to buy the Indian mobile assets from Hutchison Whampoa in 2007. The government said Vodafone was liable to pay taxes on the acquisition, which the company contested.
  • In 2012, India’s top court ruled in favour of the telecom provider but the government changed the rules to enable it to tax deals that had already been concluded (retrospective taxation).
  • In 2014, Vodafone initiated arbitration proceedings against India.

What is ‘retrospective taxation’?

  • As the name suggests, retrospective taxation allows a country to pass a rule on taxing certain products, items or services and deals and charge companies from a time behind the date on which the law is passed.
  • Countries use this route to correct any anomalies in their taxation policies that have, in the past, allowed companies to take advantage of such loopholes. While governments often use a retrospective amendment to taxation laws to “clarify” existing laws, it ends up hurting companies that had knowingly or unknowingly interpreted the tax rules differently.
  • Apart from India, many countries including the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, Australia and Italy have retrospectively taxed companies, which had taken the benefit of loopholes in the previous law.

Meenakshi-Sundareswarar Temple

According to the archaeological experts who looked at the inscriptions found at the temple, the present structure of Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple in Madurai might have been reconstructed during the rule of Jatavarman Kulasekara Pandya (1190-1216 C.E.). This structure was damaged due to unknown reasons and was again renovated in the 13th century during the period of Maravarman Sundarapandyan II.

More details –

  • Another important finding is that in all the 13th century inscriptions belonging to Pandya period, the name of the presiding god is mentioned as ‘Thiru Alavay Udaiya Nayanar’ and goddess was mentioned as ‘Thirukkamakkottam Udaiya Aludaiya Nacchiyar’.
  • It was during the Nayak period when the name ‘Chokkanatha’ for the presiding god was mentioned for the first time. The name of the goddess as ‘Meenakshi’ was mentioned on the engravings of a ‘pavaivilaku’ dated to 1752 CE. The present name of the goddess, Meenakshi Sundareswarar, was first mentioned on the engravings on a Tiruvachi lamp stand dated to 1898 C.E.
  • A total of 410 inscriptions found at the temple were copied and published as part of a survey. Among them only 79 inscriptions were in a readable format. As many as 301 inscriptions were fragmented and dislocated during the renovations of the temple.
  • Out of the 79 inscriptions, 78 were in Tamil language and one inscription was in Sanskrit language with grantha characters. Among these inscriptions, the earliest one belongs to the Arikesari Parankusa Maravarman period (700 CE).
  • Inscriptions of Pandya rulers like Maravarman Sundara Pandya I and II, Jatavarman Sundara Pandya and Madurai Nayak rulers like Thirumalai Nayak and Vijayaranga Chokkanatha Nayak, were also found in the temple. These inscriptions also mention various donations made by the rulers.

About ‘Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple’ –

  • The ancient city of Madurai, more than 2,500 years old, was built by the Pandyan king, Kulashekarar, in the 6th century B.C. He built the main portions of the three-storeyed gopura at the entrance of the temple.
  • But the reign of the Nayaks marks the golden period of Madurai when art, architecture and learning flourished expansively. The most beautiful buildings in the city including its most famous landmark, the Meenakshi temple, were built during the Nayak rule.
  • Located in the heart of the city of Madurai, the Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar temple is dedicated to goddess Meenakshi, the consort of lord Shiva. For the people of Madurai, the temple is the very centre of their cultural and religious life.
  • It is said that the people of the city wake up, not by the call of nature but by the chant of hymns at the temple. All the major festivals of Tamil Nadu are celebrated here with gaiety, most important being the Chitrai festival that is held in April/May, when the celestial marriage of Meenakshi and Sundareshwarar is celebrated, drawing a huge crowd of people from all over the state.
  • The sculpted pillars are adorned with the exquisite murals that celebrate the ethereal beauty of princess Meenakshi and the scenes of her wedding with Lord Shiva. At the Sundareswarar temple across the courtyard, Lord Shiva is represented as a lingam. The pillars depict scenes from the wedding of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar. There are 985 richly carved pillars here and each one surpasses the other in beauty.

Daily MCQs

1. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple’?

  1. It was built by the Pandyan King Kulashekarar in the 6th century BC.
  2. The temple is dedicated to goddess Meenakshi, the consort of Lord Vishnu.
  3. The Chitrai festival is a famous festival held in the temple is celebrated as the celestial marriage of Meenakshi and Sundareshwarar.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. All of the above

Answer – C

Explained – Madurai Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple was built by King Kulasekara Pandya (1190-1216 CE). He built the main Portions of the three-storeyed gopura at the entrance of Sundareswarar Shrine and the central portion of the Goddess Meenakshi Shrine are some of the earliest surviving parts of the temple. Located in the heart of the city of Madurai, the Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar temple is dedicated to goddess Meenakshi, the consort of lord Shiva. For the people of Madurai, the temple is the very centre of their cultural and religious life. It is said that the people of the city wake up, not by the call of nature but by the chant of hymns at the temple. All the major festivals of Tamil Nadu are celebrated here with gaiety, most important being the Chitrai festival that is held in April/May, when the celestial marriage of Meenakshi and Sundareshwarar is celebrated, drawing a huge crowd of people from all over the state.

2. What is ‘retrospective taxation’?

  1. A form of taxation, the proceeds of which are not shared by the Centre with the states.
  2. An indirect tax levied on a product or a service for a specified purpose.
  3. A tax imposed on certain products, items or services from a time behind the date on which the law is passed.
  4. None of the above

Answer – C

Explanation – As the name suggests, retrospective taxation allows a country to pass a rule on taxing certain products, items or services and deals and charge companies from a time behind the date on which the law is passed. Countries use this route to correct any anomalies in their taxation policies that have, in the past, allowed companies to take advantage of such loopholes. While governments often use a retrospective amendment to taxation laws to “clarify” existing laws, it ends up hurting companies that had knowingly or unknowingly interpreted the tax rules differently. Apart from India, many countries including the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, Australia and Italy have retrospectively taxed companies, which had taken the benefit of loopholes in the previous law.

3. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?

  1. POSHAN Maah is celebrated annually in the month of September under the POSHAN Abhiyaan since the year 2015.
  2. The primary objective of Poshan Maah is to take the messages of POSHAN to the grass root level.
  3. It is an initiative of Ministry of Women and Child Development and NITI Aayog, supported by 18 line Ministries/Departments/Governmental organisation.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 2 only

Answer – B

Explanation – The primary objective of the celebration of Poshan Maah is to take the messages of POSHAN to the grass root level. The programme is an initiative of WCD Ministry and NITI Aayog, which is supported by 18 line Ministries/Departments/Government Organisations. It seeks to synergise all efforts by leveraging technology and intends to take nutrition awareness to the level of Jan Andolan or People’s Movement. The programme focuses on several themes – Antenatal Care, Optimal Breastfeeding (Early & Exclusive), Complementary Feeding, Anaemia, Growth Monitoring, Girls-education, diet, right age of Marriage, Hygiene & Sanitation, Food Fortification.

4. JIMEX is a maritime bilateral exercise between –

  1. India and Indonesia
  2. India and Philippines
  3. India and Thailand
  4. India and Japan

Answer – D

Explanation – The 4th edition of India – Japan Maritime bilateral exercise JIMEX, which is conducted biennially between the Indian Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) was held recently. JIMEX series of exercises commenced in January 2012 with special focus on maritime security cooperation. The last edition of JIMEX was conducted in October 2018 off Visakhapatnam, India.

5. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority’?

  1. It is an independent body of experts under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  2. It enforces the provisions of the Drugs Prices Control Order (DPCO) to regulate the prices of medicine.
  3. It is also entrusted with a task of recovering amounts overcharge by the manufacturers from the consumers.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. All of the above

Answer – B

Explanation – 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.

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