The Hindu Newspaper Analysis for UPSC
- All drugs and food for special medical purposes imported for personal use for treatment of all rare diseases listed under the National Policy for Rare Diseases, 2021 are now fully exempted from basic customs duty, the Union government declared through a general exemption notification. The waiver will come into effect from Saturday.
- The Centre has also fully exempted pembrolizumab (Keytruda), used in treatment of various cancers, from basic customs duty.
- Drugs/medicines generally attract basic customs duty of 10%, while some categories of life-saving drugs/vaccines attract concessional rate of 5% or nil. According to a government release, while exemptions are already in place for certain drugs for treatment of spinal muscular atrophy or Duchenne muscular dystrophy, it has been receiving many representations seeking customs duty relief for drugs and medicines used in treatment of other rare diseases.
- Rare diseases (also called “Orphan” diseases) are broadly defined as diseases that infrequently occur in a population and three markers are used (the total number of people with the disease, its prevalence, and the availability/non-availability of treatment options).
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines a rare disease as having a frequency of less than 6.5-10 per 10,000 people.
- As per an estimate, there are 7,000 known rare diseases with an estimated 300 million patients in the world.
- National Policy for Rare Diseases, 2021
- It offers financial support for one-time treatment of up to Rs. 20 lakh, introduces a crowdfunding mechanism, creates a registry of rare diseases and provides for early detection.
- It was first prepared by the Centre in 2017 but was put on hold due to questions on its formation, criterias, cost sharing, beneficiaries, etc.
- An expert group was constituted in 2018 to review these questions, which submitted its report in January 2021 and after a further round of consultation, the policy has been made public.
- Tiwa (Lalung) is an ethnic group mainly inhabiting the states of Assam and Meghalaya in north-eastern India.
- They are also found in some areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland.
- They are recognized as a Scheduled tribe within the State of Assam.
- They were known as Lalungs in the Assamese Buranjis and in Colonial literature and in the Constitution of India, though members of the group prefer to call themselves Tiwa (meaning “the people who were lifted from below”).
- March 30 was a significant day in connection with Vaikom, a serene town in Kottayam, Kerala. The date also marks the commencement of the centenary year of the Vaikom temple street entry movement that was launched in 1924, and a milestone in temple entry movements in India.
- This non-violent movement was to end the prohibition imposed on backward communities in using the roads around the Vaikom Mahadeva temple. It was the prelude to the temple entry proclamation of Kerala in 1936.
- Launched by leaders in Kerala such as T.K. Madhavan, K.P. Kesava Menon and George Joseph, on the advice of Mahatma Gandhi, the movement was sustained and successfully conducted by Periyar E.V. Ramasamy, then president of the Tamil Nadu Congress, and others between 1924 and 1925.
- Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings making their way into the Bay of Bengal after being released by the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department as part of the sea turtles community conservation project at the R.K. Beach in Visakhapatnam on Thursday. Open drains that flow into the beach result in piling plastic waste, posing a grave threat to marine life. Visakhapatnam is a sporadic nesting zone of the Olive Ridley turtles.
- Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Scheduled 1
- IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
- CITES: Appendix I
- They are found in warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
- The Odisha’s Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary is known as the world’s largest rookery (colony of breeding animals) of sea turtles.
Arribada (Mass Nesting):
- They are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
- They lay their eggs over a period of five to seven days in conical nests about one and a half feet deep which they dig with their hind flippers.
- The Finance Ministry, which last month pared the disinvestment target for 2023-24 to a nine-year low of ₹51,000 crore, has now publicly acknowledged the multiple challenges it is facing in privatising public sector enterprises (PSEs) and raising funds through minority stake sales, a drive that has stalled since Air India’s sale.
- Outlining the key obstacles, the Ministry noted that the COVID-19 pandemic seriously impacted transactions in 2020 and 2021, followed by the Ukraine conflict last year, which hurt minority as well as strategic stake sales as “financial capacity and risk-reward options of potential bidders turned worse”.