Current Affairs for BANK, IBPS Exams - 09 March 2018
Current Affairs for BANK, IBPS Exams - 09 March 2018
Cheaper TB Drugs plan launched by WHO
The World Health Organization (WHO) invited pharmaceutical companies
around the world to submit proposals to manufacture affordable versions of
newer medicines for treatment of drug resistant tuberculosis.
A WHO spokesman said the aim was to replicate the success of addressing
the HIV epidemic.
Competition among Indian drug producers had then brought down the price
of HIV medicines by 99% from $15,000 per patient per year to less than a
dollar a day.
WHO has now requested drug makers to submit an Expression of Interest (EoI)
for Bedaquiline and Delaminid, two new-generation drugs, recommended for
Under WHO norms, drugs submitted upon such requests and complying with
its standards are included in a list for procurement by the UN and other
India has nearly 1.3 lakh DR-TB patients, the most in the world, but the
Health Ministry gets only 10,000 doses of Bedaquiline and 400 doses of
The medicines are obtained as donations from Janssen (US) and Otsuka
Pharmaceuticals (Japan), the respective manufacturers.
In the case of HIV, one company, Cipla, came up with a ‘AIDS cocktail’
combination of Stavudine, Lamivudine and Nevirapine, enabling effective
Cheaper drugs to treat HIV became possible at the time as the Indian
Patents Act did not provide for product patents on pharmaceutical products,
until required by the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
India became TRIPS compliant with pharma product patents in 2005.
“The whole world looks to India to provide access to affordable drugs
because of our capabilities. With WHO’s backing, we will be able to
accelerate introduction of generics,” said D.G. Shah, secretary general,
Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA).
Inclusion of the two new drugs, Bedaquiline and Delaminid, in the
pre-qualification call is being interpreted by aid agency Médecins Sans
Frontières (MSF) as WHO’s backing for generics.
Arun Kumar Jha, Economic Advisor, Union Health Ministry, said, “We are
not wasting a single moment in ensuring affordable versions of these
medicines are scaled up.”
State Flag by Karnataka Unveiled
The Siddaramaiah government unveiled the State flag ( nada dhwaja ) for
If approved by the Centre, Karnataka will be the second State to have a
flag after Jammu and Kashmir.
The yellow-white-red flag has the State emblem at the centre.
The proposal will be now sent to the Union Home Ministry for approval,
since a State has no powers to announce its own flag.
Ahead of Assembly elections, a separate flag has been part of the ruling
Congress’ campaign focusing on regional pride.
The decision followed a meeting of leaders of Kannada organisations and
littérateurs convened to discuss the recommendations of a nine-member expert
committee constituted to study and submit a report on the possibility of the
State having a flag.
The State Cabinet had earlier approved the proposal of a separate flag
for Karnataka and empowered Mr. Siddaramaiah to take the final call.
When asked about the Constitutional provisions for a State to have its
own flag, Mr. Siddaramaiah said there was no bar in the Constitution on
States having their own flag. “The State flag will fly below the national
flag as prescribed,” he said.
“The BJP State unit should now bring pressure on the Union government to
speed up the approval process,” he added.
Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj is said to have been unhappy with the
design of the flag.
Expanded Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Programme launched in Rajasthan
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the expanded “Beti Bachao Beti
Padhao” programme in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu district.
He also launched the National Nutrition Mission, aimed at improving
nutrition levels of women and children and reducing low birth weight by 2%
The “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” programme, implemented as the Union
government’s social campaign to create awareness and improve the efficiency
of welfare services intended for girls, was expanded from the existing 161
to 640 districts of the country.
Addressing the function organised on International Women’s Day, Mr. Modi
said people should change their mindset towards the girl child in order to
bring equality between men and women.
He said mothers-in-law should take the lead to protect the girl child
and stop the practice of female foeticide, which was a matter of “deep
“Let us resolve that there will be the same number of girls born as the
number of boys. Both of them are equal,” Mr. Modi said.
He while affirming that gender imbalance had been created in the society
because of the mistakes committed by several generations.
This needed to be corrected by the younger generation.
This was Mr. Modi’s second visit to Rajasthan in 2018 and the first
after the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s drubbing in the Lok Sabha and
Assembly by-elections last month.
The Prime Minister also highlighted the significance of proper nutrition
among children and described the changes in the lives of women and children
brought about by the “Indradhanush” immunisation programme.
He praised the Jhunjhunu district for registering a significant
improvement in child sex ratio.
Earlier, Mr. Modi interacted with women and their children and gave
awards to Collectors of various districts for their performance under the
“Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” programme.
The districts included Sikar and Jhunjhunu of Rajasthan, Tarn Taran
(Punjab), Sonipat (Haryana), Udhampur (Jammu and Kashmir) and Raigarh (Chhattisgarh).
Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi said the
government was planning to introduce a Bill for preventing trafficking of
women and children.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje highlighted the State
government’s schemes and programmes for girls’ education and empowerment.
TDP leaders resign from Union Cabinet
Upping the ante in their demand for Special Category Status and more
funds for Andhra Pradesh, Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju
and Minister of State for Science and Technology Y.S. Chowdary of the Telugu
Desam Party submitted their resignations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This is the first instance of an ally pulling out of the Modi
Following this, BJP Ministers Kamineni Srinivas (Health) and
PydikondalaManikyala Rao (Endowments) resigned from the Andhra Pradesh
Cabinet, headed by N. Chandrababu Naidu.
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan accepted the
resignations after the letters were forwarded by the Chief Minister’s
Mr. Raju and Mr. Chowdary described their meeting with the Prime
Minister as “cordial”.
“The PM called it an unfortunate event. He said we were working well
together and he thanked us for our contribution. We too thanked him for
allowing us to work in his team,” Mr. Chowdary.
The two leaders, however, insisted that the TDP continued to be part of
the National Democratic Alliance.
According to senior leaders, the TDP might pull out of the NDA once the
Budget session of Parliament ends on April 6.
Till then, they will keep up the pressure on the government.
“In Rajya Sabha, BJP is not in majority. We will not let the House run.
We will be on our feet every day,” a senior leader said.
Mr. Raju and Mr. Chowdary, however, denied any possibility of joining
forces with the Congress, whom they blame for the State’s current situation.
The TDP said it would not be part of any front chaired by the Congress.
President Donald Trump vowed to be flexible toward “real friends” of the
U.S. as the White House prepared to roll out punitive trade tariffs —
singling out Germany for criticism and adding Australia to a list of likely
Mr. Trump made it clear that he will press ahead with tariffs of 25% on
foreign steel and 10% on aluminium, while saying Australia and “others”
could be exempt — in addition to America’s neighbours and NAFTA partners
Mexico and Canada.
“We are going to be very fair, we’re going to be very flexible” Mr.
Trump told his cabinet, pointing to winners and losers from the contentious
If America reaches a deal on renegotiating its trilateral trade
agreement with Mexico and Canada, he said, “it is most likely that we won’t
be charging those two countries the tariffs.”
“We have a very close relationship with Australia,” he added. “We have a
trade surplus with Australia, great country, long term partner, we’ll be
doing something with them.” He also cited possible exemptions for
unspecified “other countries.”
But Trump took aim at Germany — the biggest economy in the EU trade bloc
— as a bad actor likely to face tariffs.
Railing against countries that had “taken advantage” of the U.S., the
President accused Germany of behaving unfairly by contributing much less
than the U.S. towards the funding of NATO.
“If you look at NATO, where Germany pays one percent and we are paying
4.2% of a much bigger GDP — that’s not fair,” he said.
“So we view trade and we view the military, and to a certain extent,
they go hand in hand.”
Last week Mr. Trump stunned the world — and many in his own camp — with
an off-the-cuff announcement of his tariff plan.
He cited Chinese overproduction and national security concerns as the
Since then the White House has scrambled to catch up, Mr. Trump’s top
economic advisor Gary Cohn — who opposed the move — quit in protest and
stock markets sank.
More than 100 Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Mr. Trump expressing
“deep concern” about the policy.
Trade experts at the Peterson Institute now believe U.S. allies — rather
than China — will be disproportionately hit and imports to America cut by
around $14 billion.
The European Union, Mexico and Canada have all warned they will
retaliate, with the decision threatening to sour already vinegared
The European Union has vowed to hit back with tariffs on items from
steel to peanut butter, bourbon and denim — most of which are produced in
states that Mr. Trump needs to win reelection.
19.5% increase in Direct Tax collections
Direct tax collections have risen 19.5% to Rs. 7.44 lakh crore in the
April-February period of the current fiscal, buoyed by a strong pick up in
The net direct tax collection represents 74.3% of the Rs. 10.05 lakh
crore target as per the revised estimates given in Union Budget 2018-19,
presented in Parliament last month.
“The provisional figures of direct tax collections up to February, 2018
show that net collections are at Rs. 7.44 lakh crore which is 19.5% higher
than the net collections for the corresponding period of last year,” the
Finance Ministry said in a statement.
The gross collections, before adjusting for refunds, rose 14.5% to Rs.
8.83 lakh crore during the 11-month period of the current financial year.
The growth rate for net corporate tax collections stood at 19.7% while
for personal income tax is 18.6%.
Coal India Differs dividend
The Board of Coal India Ltd. deferred any decision on an interim
dividend at its meeting held on March 7.
“The Board of directors of CIL in its meeting had deferred consideration
of interim dividend for financial year 2017-18 and has decided to hold
another board meeting on March 10, to consider payment of dividend if any,”
the company said in a regulatory filing.
The record date has now shifted to March 19.
The deferment was on account of a lack of consensus over CIL’s financial
prospects, as a result of which it became difficult to arrive at any
decision on dividends, sources said.
The monopoly, which produces more than 80% of India’s coal, is set to
face competition after the Centre recently opened up commercial mining to
the private sector.
Chasing a target of 600 million tonnes for 2017-18, CIL has produced
440.6 million tonnes during April-February, or 94% of the target.
Search for Air India Buyers
Civil Aviation Secretary R.N. Choubey said the Ministry was engaged in
the “important task” of finding buyers for Air India and its subsidiaries as
well as for Pawan Hans.
He said he expected the expressions of interest to be issued within a
couple of weeks.
“We are committed to take it forward very, very fast,” he said, pointing
out that the EoI would be the first such for Air India, while for Pawan Hans
it would be a revised document.
“So [if] any one of you is interested, I will be happy to host you,” he
told the gathering at the inauguration of ‘Wings India 2018’, a four-day
civil aviation and aerospace event that opened in Hyderabad.
His announcement came in the backdrop of the government paving the way
for a stake sale in the debt-laden airline last year.
The Union Cabinet had in-principle approved divestment in Air India and
the government followed it up by permitting foreign airlines to invest up to
49%, under the approval route, subject to certain conditions.
The Ministry is also in the process of moving amendments to the Act
governing the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in the current session of
the Parliament for better use of the entity’s land parcels.
The focus is to leverage and monetise AAI’s balance sheet and facilitate
a manifold increase in its spend, from the existing Rs. 3,000 crore
The AAI proposes to spend Rs. 18,000 crore over four years on upgrading
of airports, he said, underscoring the significance of adequate resources so
the growth of airports does not lag the growth of the aviation sector.