24 August, 2019

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Oxytocin and issues over its commercial use

GS-II: Oxytocin and issues over its commercial use


The final decision on whether the government can block private pharmaceutical companies from manufacturing and selling vital pregnancy drug oxytocin in India handed to the Supreme Court.


  • Oxytocin is a natural hormone that causes the uterus to contract.
  • Oxytocin is used to induce labor or strengthen labor contractions during childbirth, and to control bleeding after childbirth.
  • Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter and a hormone that is produced in the hypothalamus.

Issuses with the use of Oxytocin

Misuse by Farmers

  • It is excessively used to extract more milk from the cows and buffaloes which makes the cows barren sooner and lowers the lifespan of the animal
  • It is used to increase the size of vegetables such as pumpkins, watermelons, brinjals, etc.

Misuse In healthcare

  • It is used to speed up deliveries for pregnant women in overcrowded government hospitals.
  • Overuse causes symptoms of dizziness, nausea, early puberty, mood swings, erratic heart rate and fetal damage, among others.

What are the case?

  • The health ministry in April 2018 notified a ban on private firms from manufacturing and selling oxytocin.
  • It wanted to restrict the responsibility of supplying the drug to a Karnataka-based public sector manufacturer to avoid its misuse in the veterinary field.
  • Following a case by drug makers like some private players the Delhi High Court in December 18 quashed the ban on various grounds, including that it lacked scientific basis.

Source: Indian Express

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GS-II : International Relations
Letting the pearl on the Silk Road shine brighter

GS-I: Letting the pearl on the Silk Road shine brighter


The Dunhuang city has been witness to multiple interactions and mutual learning between China and India. Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang city of China to inspect cultural relics protection and research work.

About Dunhuang

  • The city of Dunhuang, in north-west China, is situated at a point of vital strategic and logistical importance, on a crossroads of two major trade routes within the Silk Road network.
  • Lying in an oasis at the edge of the Taklamakan Desert, Dunhuang was one of the first trading cities encountered by merchants arriving in China from the west.
  • It was also an ancient site of Buddhist religious activity, and was a popular destination for pilgrims, as well as acting as a garrison town protecting the region.
  • These works of art are exquisitely crafted, with unique craftsmanship, vivid charm, and combination of form and spirit. Like an amazing and colourful movement, they tell a beautiful and touching legend of magic charm lasting thousand years.
  • Dunhuang is a witness to interactions and mutual learning between China and India, two ancient civilisations. The Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang remind me of Ajanta Caves and Elora Caves in India.
  • All being world-famous, the murals and Buddha figures in these caves tell the historical and cultural ties between Chinese and Indian civilisations, and witness the light of inter-civilisational exchanges and mutual learning.

Dunhuang as an important hub city:

  • Dunhuang is known as the “Pearl on the Silk Road”.
  • For thousands of years, envoys and officials, merchants and caravans, monks and scholars, capital and technology, integrated and communicated through this silk road, nourishing the development and prosperity of countries along the route.
  • China and India have also developed close economic, trade and cultural exchanges along the ancient Silk Road of both land and sea.
  • China’s paper making, silk, porcelain and tea were introduced to India, while Indian singing and dancing, astronomy, architecture and spices were introduced to China, which became the historical witness of the mutual exchanges between the two sides.
  • Zhang Qian was sent on a diplomatic mission to the Western Regions. Zheng He sailed to the Western Ocean seven times and visited India six times.

Road of friendship-India and China

  • The Silk Road is not only a road of trade, but also a road of friendship and mutual learning among civilisations.
  • It will certainly further promote the deep inter-connectivity and cultural exchanges between countries along the route.
  • The Silk Road spirit is about openness, exchanges and inclusiveness. It reveals the truth that there will be no progress without openness, no development without exchanges and no strength without inclusiveness.

Way Forward

In the long course of history, China and India, two ancient oriental civilisations, have engaged in exchanges and mutual learning, created two vigorous and charming civilisations, and made great contributions to the development of human civilisation. In the new era, China and India should also adhere to inclusiveness and resolve differences through building common ground. We should transcend civilisation barriers through exchanges, rise above “civilisation conflicts” by mutual learning, and overcome the sense of superiority by promoting coexistence of civilisations.

Source: The Hindu

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India biggest emitter of sulphur dioxide: report using NASA data

GS-III: India biggest emitter of sulphur dioxide: report using NASA data


India largest emitter of sulfur

  • A new report by Greenpeace India shows the country is the largest emitter of sulphur dioxide in the world, with more than 15% of all the anthropogenic sulphur dioxide hotspots.
  • This was detected by the NASA OMI (Ozone Monitoring Instrument) satellite.
  • Almost all of these emissions in India are because of coal-burning, the report says.
  • The Singrauli, Neyveli, Talcher, Jharsuguda, Korba, Kutch, Chennai, Ramagundam, Chandrapur and Koradi thermal power plants or clusters are the major emission hotspots in India.

Why India?

  • The vast majority of coal-based power plants in India lack flue-gas desulphurization technology to reduce air pollution.
  • In a first step to combat pollution levels, the MoEFCC introduced, for the first time, sulphur dioxide emission limits for coal-fired power plants in December 2015.
  • But the deadline for the installation of flue-gas desulphurization (FGD) in power plants has been extended from 2017 to 2022.

NASA data

  • The report also includes NASA data on the largest point sources of sulphur dioxide.
  • The largest sulphur dioxide emission hotspots have been found in Russia, South Africa, Iran, Saudi Arabia, India, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Serbia.
  • Air pollutant emissions from power plants and other industries continue to increase in India, Saudi Arabia and Iran, the report says.
  • In Russia, South Africa, Mexico and Turkey, emissions are currently not increasing — however, there is not a lot of progress in tackling them either.

India is the loser

  • Of the world’s major emitters, China and the United States have been able to reduce emissions rapidly.
  • They have achieved this feat by switching to clean energy sources.
  • China, in particular, has achieved success by dramatically improving emission standards and enforcement for sulphur dioxide control.

Source: Indian Express

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Amazon Fires

GS-III: Amazon Fires


  • Over the last several days, the ‘lungs of the Earth’ Amazon rainforest has been burning at a rate that has alarmed environmentalists and governments worldwide.
  • The fires are so large that they are visible from space.

Amazon Fires

  • Started in the Amazonian rainforests, the fires have impacted populated areas in the north, such as the states of Rondônia and Acre, blocking sunlight and enveloping the region in smoke.
  • The smoke has wafted thousands of miles to the Atlantic coast and São Paulo, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
  • Brazil has reported that forest fires in the region have doubled since 2013, and increased by 84% compared to the same period last year.

How did the fire start?

  • Mostly caused by farmers clearing land, the fires have thrown the spotlight on Brazilian policies and anti-environment stance.
  • The farmers had organised a “fire day” along a highway that runs through the heart of the rainforest.
  • Local farmers set ablaze to sections of the rainforest a few days ago to get the government’s attention.
  • And dry weather has further fuelled the fire.
  • The dry season creates the favourable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident.

A cause for concern

  • The Amazon rainforest is a repository of rich biodiversity and produces approximately 20 per cent of oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • It is also home to indigenous communities whose lives and homelands are under threat due to encroachment.
  • The Amazon basin matches the emissions released by nations in the basin. The burning of forests, therefore, implies additional carbon emissions.
  • Deforestation could lead to the Amazon’s transformation from the world’s largest rainforest to a Savanna, which would reverse the region’s ecology.

Importance of Amazons

  • A National Geographic report said the Amazon rainforest influences the water cycle not only on a regional scale.
  • The rain produced by the Amazon travels through the region and even reaches the Andes mountain range.
  • Moisture from the Atlantic falls on the rainforest, and eventually evaporates back into the atmosphere.
  • The Amazon rainforest has the ability to produce at least half of the rain it receives. This cycle is a delicate balance.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-III : Economic Issues Financial Market
Government responds to downturn with steps to boost growth

GS-III: Government responds to downturn with steps to boost growth


The announcements come at a time when the perception that the slowdown has been aggravating in recent weeks and spreading across sectors. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a partial rollback of the enhanced surcharge on foreign portfolio investors (FPI) levied in the Budget and indicated a review of the surcharge levy for high net worth individuals as well.


  • Surcharge on long and short term capital gains arising from transfer of equity shares has been withdrawn.
  • The CSR violation would be treated as a civil offence, and not a criminal offence.
  • The FM announced a slew of measures aimed at boosting a flagging domestic economy.
  • This includes an assertion that ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles will coexist with EVs (electric vehicles) and that there is no phasing out of ICE vehicles, a fear expressed in certain quarters of the auto industry.
  • Banks would also be asked to pass on the full impact of the interest rate cuts to consumers.
  • Repo rate-linked loans.

Loans, repo rate

  • Loans for home, vehicles and consumption goods to become cheaper and widely available through banking and non-banking finance companies.
  • Banks will launch repo rate and external benchmark-linked loan products that will lead to reduced easy monthly installments for housing, vehicle and other retail loans.
  • Working capital loans for industry to become cheaper.
  • Public sector banks (PSBs) will ensure mandated return of loan documents within 15 days of loan closure.
  • NBFCs will be permitted to use the Aadhaar authenticated bank ‘Know Your Customer’ (KYC) to avoid repeated processes.

What is the surcharge that’s been withdrawn?

  • The surcharge of 3 per cent and 7 per cent on those earning between Rs 2 crore and Rs 5 crore, and over Rs 5 crore respectively had been announced by Sitharaman as part of her Budget proposals.
  • This had led to different taxation outcomes for FPIs registered as Association of Persons or trusts and companies, even as those registered as companies were spared of this surcharge.
  • Ever since the budget announcement, markets have been seeing a selloff on most trading days, largely in light of the FPI impact.

Why was the CSR announcement controversial?

The amendment to the Companies Act, passed earlier this month, introduced harsh penalties including jail term for non-compliance on CSR (corporate social responsibility) by listed companies. This had been slammed by industry as a regressive move, especially given the fact that in the last five years, the total CSR spend of companies has progressively jumped from 70% to over 90% now, according to data sourced from Prime Database.


For an economy that is downbeat in growth and in sentiment, the comprehensive package of measures announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday may just be the right boost. They address growth slowdown concerns free up funds for investment and spending by banks, housing finance companies and MSMEs and importantly, undo some controversial proposals, in the budget and outside it, which were affecting sentiment in the markets and the corporate sector. And, importantly, these have all been done without any significant financial burden on the government. Some of the measures promote the ease of doing business and even the ease of living for ordinary citizens.

Source: The Hindu

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