- Subramanian panel bats for higher MSP, lifting pulses export ban:-
- Delink drug prices from R&D costs: UN
- Five museums from India among top 25 in Asia: Report
- India Loses WTO Appeal In US Solar Dispute
- Environment Ministry celebrates International Ozone Day
- Environment Ministry To Develop Next Generation Refrigerants
Subramanian panel bats for higher MSP, lifting pulses export ban:-
A panel led by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian has asked the central government to immediately set higher minimum support prices for all pulses and has sought development of genetically modified technologies and elimination of the export ban on pulses and stock limits.
In its report, the panel has recommended that the government should immediately announce an MSP of Rs 40 per kg for gram for rabi 2016, up from Rs 35 now, and Rs 60 per kg for both urad and tur for kharif 2017, up from Rs 50 per kg for the former and Rs 52.50 for the latter.
Minimum support prices for other pulses should be increased by the same percentage as calculated for tur, urad, and gram.
For long, pulses have been the step-child of Indian agriculture policy, compared with cereals.Time has come to change it.
The panel has recommended in its report that the government should build up 2 million tonnes of pulses stock with targets for individual pulses, especially tur (3.5 lakh tonnes) and urad (2 lakh tonnes). These should be built up gradually but opportunistically, buying when prices are low as in the current year.
To ensure effective procurement, a High Level Committee comprising Ministers of Finance, Agriculture, and Consumer Affairs and Principal Secretary to PM should be constituted. There should be weekly reporting by procurement agencies on the ground with physical verification of procurement.
The report also recommended that the government should procure pulses on a “war footing”, create a buffer stock of 2 million tonnes, push states to delist pulses from the APMC, and prescribed subsidies to farmers for growing pulses.
It is the strong view of this report that enhancing domestic productivity and production of pulses rapidly and sustainably is the only reliable way of minimising volatility in the market and safeguarding interests of farmers and consumers.
The CEA report pitched for encouraging “development of GM technologies” to boost pulses productivity. It also said expeditious approval should be given to indigenously developed new varieties of pulses.
Furthermore, it suggested elimination of the export ban on pulses and stock limits, and “more generally, the use of trade policy to control domestic prices, which induces policy volatility, should be avoided.
With the government gearing up to achieve storage of a record 2 million tonnes of pulses, the committee headed by chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian advocated setting up of a new body in public private partnership (PPP) mode to handle these stocks.
Delink drug prices from R&D costs: UN
As the debate over unaffordable blockbuster drugs such as Sovaldi and Epipen rages on, a landmark report by the United Nations High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines has called for delinking drug prices from research and development (R&D) costs.
The report calls for human rights to be placed over intellectual property laws and all countries must freely be able to use flexibilities granted under TRIPS to access affordable medicines.
Calls for sanctions
One of the key recommendations of the report is that countries that threaten, and retaliate against, generic drugs makers in countries such as India for using their entitlements under the TRIPS Agreement will be forced to face significant sanctions.
Further, the panel — convened to advise U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon — has called for greater transparency in drug pricing and public health impact assessments in free trade agreements.
Policy incoherencies arise when legitimate economic, social and political interests and priorities are misaligned or in conflict with the right to health.On the one hand, governments seek the economic benefits of increased trade. On the other, the imperative to respect patents on health technologies could, in certain instances, create obstacles to the public health objectives and the right to health.
The report recognises the incoherence between the human rights and the intellectual property rules.
This report gets to the heart of the problem with access to medicines — that the intellectual property rules promoted by the pharmaceutical industry are at odds with the human right to health.
If implemented, the report’s recommendations will go a long way towards ensuring all people have access to affordable quality medicines.
Access to medicines is not just a poor country problem. The high price of drugs is crippling healthcare systems across the world.
Millions of people are suffering and dying because the medicines they need are too expensive.Few organisations have called on the U.N. panel to explore recommendations such as a ban on intellectual property rules in trade agreements and excluding medicines on national lists or on the WHO List for Essential Medicines from intellectual property rules
Five museums from India among top 25 in Asia: Report
Five Indian museums feature among the best 25 in Asia while Leh’s ‘Hall of Fame’ has topped the India list as a “must-visit” place by travellers in a survey.
The other top four most rated museums of India are — Bagore Ki Haveli (Udaipur), Victoria Memorial Hall (Kolkata), Salar Jung Museum (Hyderabad) and Jaisalmer War Museum (Jaisalmer).
Darshan Museum (Pune), Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures (Shillong), Heritage Transport Museum (Taoru), Siddhagiri Museum (Kolhapur), and Gandhi Smriti (New Delhi) also figure in the top-10 list for India.
Museums provide a passageway into the history and culture of a place and the Travellers’ Choice awards for Museums are a ready reckoner for travellers keen to enrich their knowledge about the cities they travel to.
India Loses WTO Appeal In US Solar Dispute
India lost its appeal at the World Trade Organisation in a dispute over solar power , failing to overturn a US complaint that New Delhi had discriminated against importers in the Indian solar power sector.
The WTO’s appeals judges upheld an earlier ruling that found India had broken WTO rules by requiring solar power developers to use Indian-made cells and modules. The appeal ruling is final and India will be expected to bring its laws into compliance with the WTO rules.
US solar exports to India have fallen by more than 90 percent since New Delhi brought in the rules, the statement said.
As in the earlier ruling, which was issued in February this year, the judges said India could not claim exemptions on the basis of that its national solar power sector was included in government procurement, nor on the basis that solar goods were in short supply.
There was also no justification on the grounds of ensuring ecologically sustainable growth or combatting climate change.
The dispute, which the United States first launched in February 2013, involved an increasingly common target of trade disputes – solar power, with an increasingly common complaint – local content requirements.
The appeal ruling came just days after India launched a WTO complaint against subsidies for the solar industry in eight US states.
Environment Ministry celebrates International Ozone Day
HFCs are good in that they don’t contribute to ozone depletion, but they emit greenhouse gases, causing an increase in global warming. This increase will have a global impact, including India where floods and droughts will become more frequent
CFC, HCFC and HFC are all compounds of gases used in refrigerants, coolants, solvents, contact lenses and foam industry among others — the former two contain chlorine and flourine, two chemicals which are the major cause of ozone depletion, while HFC, though causing no harm to the ozone layer, contributes to global warming.
Environment Ministry To Develop Next Generation Refrigerants
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has announced an ambitious collaborative research and development programme to develop next generation, sustainable refrigerant technologies as alternatives to HFCs.
This initiative will bring government, research institutes, industry and civil society together to develop long-term technology solutions to mitigate the impact of current refrigerant gases on the ozone layer and climate.
With this initiative, India reaffirms its commitment to working with all other nations to safeguard the Earth’s natural ecosystem.
Some of the key players of the initiative include the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and its allied institutions; Department of Science and Technology; Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences; as well as key industry players in the sector.
Members of this initiative have already had multiple rounds of consultation to reach a consensus on the contours and decide on the roadmap for this initiative.
India has a small carbon footprint at the individual level and its sustainable lifestyle results in low contribution of the country to overall emissions of greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting substances, as compared with other developed countries.
However, there is an urgent need for developing new technologies indigenously as alternatives available today are patented apart from being expensive.
A research based programme to look for cost effective alternatives to the currently used refrigerant gases is, therefore, essential.
The initiative is a significant step forward in line with India’s national focus on research, innovation and technology development and Mission Innovation.
The research initiative of the Ministry will be led by the CSIR’s Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad.
The MoEF and CC, along with the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has also decided to create a corpus fund for this research programme, with Industry also committing to contribute to the effort.
The collaboration of research institutes as well as industry will create a larger ecosystem for developing sustainable solutions, and eventually deploying low global warming potential – GWP HFCs on a national scale.
By establishing an effective collaboration between all important stakeholders, the initiative is focused on prioritising areas of research in new refrigerant technologies and natural refrigerants.
This shall help the country leapfrog from the current technology high GWP HydroFluoroCarbons or HFCs to technologies with lower climate impact.
The ministry reiterated that the proposed initiative is an important step in the direction of enabling the country to achieve national development goals while continuing to maintain a sustainable environmental footprint.