Topic 1: The Post of Deputy CM; Historical and Legal dimension
Context: D.K Shivakumar sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka
- Appointment of a Deputy CM has been a long-standing feature of Indian politics.
- The post of Deputy CM represents a political compromise that often follows the formation of a coalition government or when no single leader commands unchallenged authority in the party in power and loyalty across all key interest groups.
History of the post of Deputy CM
- The first leader to hold the post of deputy CM in independent India was the Congress’s Anugrah Narayan Sinha.
- He was one of the tallest leaders to emerge from Bihar, termed the “mason of modern Bihar and its politics”.
- Later on, Karpoori thakur became deputy CM in 1967.
- Subsequently more states began to follow this pattern.
- At present 11 states in the country have Deputy CMs.
- In the northeastern states, where multi-party coalition governments are the norm, four of the seven states have Deputy CMs.
Source: The Indian Express
Topic 2: India’s African Jumbos
Context: The Zoo officials at Delhi and Mysuru are grappling to find mate for the only two African elephants in the country.
- African Elephants are the largest land mammals and are different from Asian elephants.
- Besides availability the mating of these elephants involves monetary, legal, logistical and importantly, ethical considerations.
- There are only two African elephants in India i.e., Shankar at Delhi Zoo and Richie at Mysuru Zoo.
- In 2021, a petition was moved in the Delhi High Court seeking Shankar’s relocation to a sanctuary that houses other African elephants.
- In July last year, the High court said that it would not permit taking the elephant to South Africa and that possibility of importing a female elephant should be explored.
- The relocation of the elephant to a national park or sanctuary in India is not possible due to:
- Its different evolutionary history and genesis from the Asian elephant
- Different habitat and environment conditions
- It being an alien species for Indian habitats.
- Since the African elephants have a strong social structure and familiar ties, importing a single female in the group may cause psychological stress.
- Efforts are being made to acquire at least two unrelated, compatible females with one sub-adult male to augment genetic variability.
- Besides approvals from the Central Zoo Authority and the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, importing an animal would require a CITES permit.
- CITES refers to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, a multilateral treaty.
Source: Indian Express, IUCN
Topic 3: QUAD led Bio-Manufacturing Hub in India
- In 2021, the QUAD nations set up a Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group to facilitate cooperation in development of critical and emerging technologies, that included biotechnology.
- However, the potential for Quad cooperation in biotechnology remains insufficiently tapped. The establishment of a Quad-led biomanufacturing hub in India will give the necessary fillip to enhance this cooperation.
- India’s National Biotechnology Development Strategy also envisions the country as a “Global Biomanufacturing Hub” by 2025.
- Therefore, India’s ambitions require external support, particularly through its Quad partners, to enable its initial development.
- The Quad can establish a biomanufacturing hub in India to benefit from the country’s economic potential and address supply-chain vulnerabilities.
- Quad nations have complementary strengths that can be leveraged to create the bio-manufacturing hub.
- While US has significant funding capabilities, Japan and Australia possess advanced biotechnology innovation ecosystems and intellectual property.
- India has skilled manpower and the potential to provide affordable scale.
- India also has significant potential in low-cost biomanufacturing, particularly in the production of enzymes, reagents, research materials, and equipment.
- The cost of manufacturing in India is around 33% lower when compared to that in the U.S.
- India also aims to become a leading biomanufacturing hub with plans to increase fermentation capacity tenfold to 10 million liters in the next three to five years.
- If China dominates the bio-manufacturing sector, the way it dominates the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), it would be detrimental to both India and China.
What needs to be done?
- To scale up the biomanufacturing sector, India needs to uplift its workforce quality.
- Recent policy changes in India allow the establishment of foreign universities and can encourage scholar exchange programmes.
- To facilitate cross-Quad collaboration, the biomanufacturing hub can house all current bilateral government efforts and establish a research collaboration office for this purpose.
- The hub can also harmonize language, regulations, and data-sharing regarding biomanufacturing to secure supply chains for Quad nations and facilitate international collaboration.
- The proposed hub in India can capitalize on the economic potential of the biomanufacturing industry and address existing and potential vulnerabilities in the global system.
Topic 4: Regulating the Salt intake
Context: The Indian council for Medical Research (ICMR) highlighted the need to reduce the Salt intake.
- A healthy, active adult need between 200 and 500 mg of sodium per day.
- According to WHO, the world is off track to achieve its global target of reducing salt intake by 30% by 2025.
- Only 5% of the WHO member states have mandatory and comprehensive sodium-reducing policies.
- Excess sodium is the leading cause of non-communicable disease.
- India does not have a national policy but it does have voluntary measures to reduce sodium.
- Sodium labelling is not mandatory in India so far.
- The U.K. has been the leading country in the world to have reduced salt consumption in the population.
Harmful effects of Salt on health?
- Sodium attracts water and a high sodium diet draws water into the bloodstream, which can increase the volume of blood and subsequently blood pressure.
- Some common food additives like monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), sodium nitrite, and sodium benzoate also contain sodium.
- Consuming high levels of sodium increase your risk for osteoporosis by leaching calcium from your bones.
Source: The Hindu
Topic 5: Surge in Global Prices of edible oils
Context: India’s edible oil imports set for a record high.
- The Global prices of edible oils, which hit an all-time high after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have crashed.
- Sunflower has seen the greatest volatility in the prices in the last one year.
- The UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s global vegetable oils price index soared to an all-time high in March 2022 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Ukraine and Russia together accounted for nearly 58% of the world’s production of sunflower oilseed.
- Within the vegetable fats complex, Sunflower oil has witnessed the highest price rise and fall in last one year.
- The Black Sea Grain Initiative agreement between Russia and Ukraine facilitated the safe navigation of vessels carrying grain and foodstuffs from three designated Ukrainian ports.
- The opening of the corridor helped much of the sunflower oil, meal, and seed that had accumulated in Ukraine to be shipped out.
- It led to international vegetable oil prices falling below even pre-war levels. Sunflower oil is currently being imported at around $950/ tonne that is less than the $990 of soyabean.
Impact of price volatility on India:
- India consumes around 24 million tonnes (mt) of cooking oil annually, out of which about 14 million tonnes is imported and the balance 10 mt is produced from domestically cultivated seed.
- Sunflower is the fourth largest consumed oil in India after Palm, Soyabean and mustard oil.
- Both sunflower and palm oil are almost wholly imported, with their domestic production at hardly 50,000 tonnes and 0.3 mt respectively.
- On the other hand, the share of domestic output for mustard and soyabean are close to 100% and 30-32% respectively.
- The other locally produced oils like cottonseed, rice bran, groundnut, and coconut aren’t big enough to influence prices.
- Roughly 70% of the country’s sunflower oil consumption is in the South India as sunflower is traditionally grown in Karnataka, Telangana, and Maharashtra.
- Therefore, what the Indian consumer pays for edible oils is significantly dictated by import prices.
Source: The Indian Express