1. Defence Acquisition Council (DAC)
Context: In a boost to indigenisation and in realisation of India’s growing technological prowess, the DAC has approved procurement of Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO’s) designed and developed NAG Missile System (NAMIS) at the cost of Rs 524 crore.
About NAG missile and the system:
- The NAG missile is a third generation anti-tank guided missile, which has top attack capabilities that can effectively engage and destroy all known enemy tanks during day and night.
- The system includes a third generation Anti-Tank Guided Missile, the NAG, along with the Missile Carrier Vehicle (NAMICA).
Defence Acquisition Council (DAC):
What is it? To counter corruption and speed up decision- making in military procurement, the government of India in 2001 decided to set up an integrated DAC. It is headed by the Defence Minister.
Objective: The objective of the DAC is to ensure expeditious procurement of the approved requirements of the Armed Forces, in terms of capabilities sought, and time frame prescribed, by optimally utilizing the allocated budgetary resources.
Functions: The DAC is responsible to give policy guidelines to acquisitions, based on long-term procurement plans. It also clears all acquisitions, which includes both imported and those produced indigenously or under a foreign license.
2. National Safety Council
Context: NSCI Safety Awards for the year 2017 were recently awarded.
About the National Safety Awards:
- The NSCI Safety Awards are much coveted national level Awards in the field of occupational safety, health and environment and are given in recognition for effective Safety Management System and excellent safety & health performance by the organizations in Manufacturing, Construction and MSME Sectors during the relevant assessment periods.
- These Awards are adjudged and declared every year by the National Safety Council.
About the National Safety Council:
- National Safety Council is a premier, non-profit, self-financing and tripartite apex body at the national level in India.
- It is an autonomous body, which was set up by the Government of India, Ministry of Labour and Employment in 1966 to generate, develop and sustain a voluntary movement on Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) at the national level.
- It was registered as a Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and subsequently, as a Public Trust under the Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950.
- To fulfil its objective NSC carries out various activities. These include organising and conducting specialised training courses, conferences, seminars & workshops; conducting consultancy studies such as safety audits, hazard evaluation & risk assessment; designing and developing HSE promotional materials & publications.
3. United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
Context: A four-day Asia Pacific Regional Workshop of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), jointly hosted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and UNCCD Secretariat, to build the capacity of the Asia-Pacific Region to monitor and report on land degradation, was recently held in New Delhi.
- Established in 1994, the United Nations to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management.
- It is the only convention stemming from a direct recommendation of the Rio Conference’s Agenda 21.
- To help publicise the Convention, 2006 was declared “International Year of Deserts and Desertification”.
- The Convention addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found.
- Its 197 Parties aim, through partnerships, to implement the Convention and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The end goal is to protect land from over-use and drought, so it can continue to provide food, water and energy.
- The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is the nodal Ministry for this Convention.
The new UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework is the most comprehensive global commitment to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) in order to restore the productivity of vast expanses of degraded land, improve the livelihoods of more than 1.3 billion people, and reduce the impacts of drought on vulnerable populations to build.
By sustainably managing land and striving to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality, now and in the future, not only will the impact of climate change be reduced, but a conflict over natural resources will be avoided.
4. Priority watch list
Context: In its latest 2018 Special 301 Report, the USTR has placed 12 countries on its priority watch list.
Highlights of the report:
- India continues to remain on the priority watch list for longstanding challenges in its intellectual property framework and lack of sufficient measurable progress. As per the report, the country is also one of the world’s most challenging major economies in the area.
- Other countries on the list are Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Ukraine, and Venezuela.
About the Special 301 Report:
- The special 301 report identifies US trading partners that do not adequately or effectively protect and enforce IP rights or otherwise deny market access to its innovators and creators that rely on protection of their IP rights.
- The IP issues in these countries will be the subject of intense bilateral engagement during the coming year.
Why India continues to remain on the priority watch list?
- India remains on the priority watch list this year for longstanding challenges in its IP framework and lack of sufficient measurable improvements, particularly with respect to patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and enforcement, as well as for new issues that have negatively affected US right holders over the past year.
- The longstanding IP challenges facing US businesses in India include those which make it difficult for innovators to receive and maintain patents in India, particularly for pharmaceuticals.
- Among other issues include India’s enforcement action and policies that are insufficient to curb the problem, copyright policies that do not properly incentivise the creation and commercialisation of content, and an outdated and insufficient trade secrets legal framework.
- New and growing concerns, including with respect to reductions in transparency by India’s pharmaceutical regulator through the removal of a requirement that applicants submit information about a product’s patent status, continue to generate skepticism about whether India is serious about pursuing pro-innovation and pro-creativity growth policies.
Indian government has taken several steps to improve its IP environment. In 2017, India continued to carry out high-level initiatives involving IP, including the 2016 National IP Policy and Startup India. However, they have failed to draw a direct link to specific IP reforms that would best help achieve these goals. India’s overall levels of IP enforcement remain deficient, and the lack of uniform progress across the country threatens to undercut the positive steps that certain states have taken. Its time for India to address these challenges.
5. Resource Prospector mission
Context: NASA has cancelled Resource Prospector Mission, a mission to assay the resources that may be available to humans on the moon.
About the Resource Prospector Mission:
- The Resource Prospector mission would have sent a rover to the moon’s polar regions to learn about water and other deposits on and just beneath the lunar surface.
- The Resource Prospector mission consisted of a lander and a solar-powered rover equipped with a drill. The rover would have scouted the lunar surface, digging up soil for analysis.
Significance of the mission:
Scientists know that water ice exists on the moon, but the Resource Prospector would have provided scientists with a more complete understanding of these deposits.
Such knowledge is crucial in expanding a human presence on the moon. Lunar ice can potentially be melted and split into oxygen and hydrogen, providing a local source of water, oxygen and rocket propellant. Not only would this help make human activities more self-sustaining, but it would also dramatically reduce launch costs, because much of these vital resources could be produced on site.