Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2020
Current Affair 1:
India needs self-reliance in Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs)
Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) are essential for the manufacture of various drugs. The Indian pharma industry is heavily reliant on imports for APIs. This is not good. Recently PM Modi has pronounced that dependence on single source for anything can be dangerous. A government body has called for urgent policy & other measures to become self-reliant in APIs & other raw materials in the wake of changed global norms.
India’s pharmaceutical industry relies heavily on import of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) and imports from China make up for almost two-thirds of it.
Of the total import of API and intermediates worth Rs. 249 billion in 2019, around Rs.169 billion, amounting to 68%, was from China alone. In 2019-20, according to a Lok Sabha response, more than 87% of India’s API imports were from 10 countries alone. After China, USA had the second highest share with 3.53% followed by Italy with 3.02%. In 2016-17, China’s share was 66.69% which increased to 68.04% by 2019-20.
Noting this, the Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) which is an autonomous organization under the Department of Science & Technology released a report titled ‘Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients- Status, Issues, Technology Readiness, and Challenges’ which calls for scaling up the production of API in India in order to make India self-reliant in API production and reduce import dependence, especially from China.
Now, why Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) is important?
Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, abbreviated as API, are chemical compounds which are used to manufacture medicinal drugs and cause pharmacological activity or give direct effect in diagnosis, cure, or treatment of disease. For example, Acetaminophen or paracetamol is the API in Panadol, Dolo, and Crocin. APIs is therefore required for the production of drugs for many kinds of illnesses like flu, aches, diabetes, cancer, AIDS, malaria, infections.
Status of India’s Pharma in the world
The pharmaceutical industry in India is third largest in the world, in terms of volume, behind China and Italy, and fourteenth largest in terms of value. It has a strong network of 3,000 drug companies and about 10,500 manufacturing units with a domestic turnover of Rs 1.4 lakh crore (USD 20.03 billion) in 2019, with exports to more than 200 countries in the world. Import of APIs has increased in substantially because of cheaper import options from countries like China. Manufacturing of certain APIs has almost stopped in India.
China’s pharmaceutical industry has gone up from 9th position in 2007 to 2nd in 2019.
The pharmaceutical market in China has grown rapidly in the past few years. In 2007, China had the ninth largest market. Now, China’s market is the second largest globally, next to only the US. China is the global leader in production and export of APIs contributing to one-fifth of the global API output by volume. China’s production capacity is above 2 million tons per annum.
Why China is the best in APIs production?
- The major reason behind China’s ability to capture the global API market is the cheap and cost-effective production of APIs resulting out of the large-scale manufacturing.
- If India were to produce these APIs, the cost incurred would be 20% more than that of China.
- The infrastructure in China is also highly favourable for the producers.
- The average size of a SEZ in China is 10 to 15 times bigger than India’s. Land is subsidized with common waste treatment and utilities which help reduce the physical infrastructure cost to an extent.
- Besides, financial support in India is also a concern. It is difficult to get financial support due to the banking practices and time-consuming processes.
- A study pointed out that the cost of finance in China was 5% to 7% as compared to 11% to 14% in India.
Its not only India, other countries too dependent on China for APIs. See below chart, how China exports to countries: Data is of May 2019.
India’s effort and steps to do something in APIs:
The Indian government has been trying many different policy initiatives to support pharmaceutical industries for many years now.
- A committee was set up under V M Katoch in 2013 to study the issue during the UPA’s tenure.
- The year 2015 was declared the ‘Year of API’ to boost API manufacturing in India.
- Later in 2017, a draft Pharmaceutical Policy was prepared with the objective to provide guidance and nurture the pharmaceutical industry of India to regulate production and marketing of pharmaceutical products in India.
- However, there has not been much progress with the draft. A task force was also set in 2018 to revive API sector.
The Indian government is currently advocating for Atmanirbhar Bharat or self-sufficient India to revive the economy post the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19. A package to revive the API industry in the country has been announced as a part of the scheme.
Two schemes- Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for promotion of domestic manufacturing of critical Key Starting Materials (KSMs)/ Drug Intermediates (DIs) & Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) and Promotion of Bulk Drug Parks were rolled out by the government in July this year.
Current Affair 2:
Production linked incentive scheme for electronics manufacturers
News: Three Apple Inc.’s top contract manufacturers are planning to invest a total of almost $900 million in India in the next five years to tap into a new production-linked incentive plan. Now, we will see Production linked incentive scheme
About the PLI scheme:
It offers a production linked incentive to boost domestic manufacturing and attract large investments in mobile phone manufacturing and specified electronic components, including Assembly, Testing, Marking and Packaging (ATMP) units. The Scheme would tremendously boost the electronics manufacturing landscape and establish India at the global level in electronics sector.
Key features of the scheme:
- The scheme shall extend an incentive of 4% to 6% on incremental sales (over base year) of goods manufactured in India and covered under target segments, to eligible companies, for a period of five (5) years with financial year (FY) 2019-20 considered as the base year for calculation of incentives.
- The Scheme will be implemented through a Nodal Agency which shall act as a Project Management Agency (PMA) and be responsible for providing secretarial, managerial and implementation support and carrying out other responsibilities as assigned by MeitY from time to time.
- Support under the Scheme shall be provided only to companies engaged in manufacturing of target segments in India.
- According to the scheme, companies that make mobile phones which sell for Rs 15,000 or more will get an incentive of up to 6 per cent on incremental sales of all such mobile phones made in India.
- In the same category, companies which are owned by Indian nationals and make such mobile phones, the incentive has been kept at Rs 200 crore for the next four years.
What kind of investments will be considered?
All electronic manufacturing companies which are either Indian or have a registered unit in India will be eligible to apply for the scheme. These companies can either create a new unit or seek incentives for their existing units from one or more locations in India. However, all investment done by companies on land and buildings for the project will not be considered for any incentives or determine eligibility of the scheme.
Current Affair 3:
Astronomers have found a rogue planet, which is about the same mass as Earth
Astronomers have found a rogue planet, which is about the same mass as Earth, seemingly adrift in the Milky Way, without being a part of any star system. Such planets are called rogue planets, and this new planet is considered to be a low mass planet.
Finding rogue planets is extremely challenging because, unlike stars, planets do not emit light of their own. The team behind the discovery used the gravitational microlensing technique to find the planet.
The planet, called OGLE-2016-BLG-1928, was discovered using the OGLE (Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment) collaboration and the KMTN (Korean Microlensing Telescope Network) collaboration.
Microlensing is a form of gravitational lensing where light from a background source, such as a star, is bent by the gravitational field of a foreground planet or any other source of gravity. This creates distorted or multiple images, which show both intensity of light and position of the background source of light inaccurately.
- Gravitational microlensing is a scaled-down version of gravitational lensing, where a large structure, such as a galaxy cluster, is used to focus light that’s coming from a background galaxy or star.
- While discovering this planet, the planet itself acted as the lens, distorting light from behind it. However, a low-mass planet like this doesn’t bend light too much and does so only for a short period of time.
- According to the astronomers, this planet’s micro-lensing event lasted only 41.5 minutes. The researchers describe the event as the “most extreme short-timescale microlens discovered to date”.
Rogue planet formation
Planets form in protoplanetary discs, which is a swirling flat disc of dust, rock, and gases that form around a star being born. But astronomers theorize that very early in the planetary formation process, some low mass planets could get ejected from their host star’s gravitational control due to the high energy nature of planetary formation processes. As we discover more and more exoplanets, astronomers also estimate that there could potentially be millions of such free-floating rogue planets in every galaxy.
Watch this small video.
Current Affair 4:
Green Strategic Partnership between India and Denmark
Under the India-Denmark 'Green Strategic Partnership', a joint statement said, the "ambitious goals and actions will be identified within the areas and outlined in an Action Plan that will be worked out and endorsed as soon as possible".
Further emphasizing on the strategic partnership, the statement read: "The Green Strategic Partnership is a mutually beneficial arrangement to advance political cooperation, expand economic relations and green growth, create jobs and strengthen cooperation on addressing global challenges and opportunities; with focus on an ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals."
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Intellectual Property (IP) Cooperation with Denmark. The MoU aims at increasing IP co-operation between the two countries by way of, exchange of information and best practices on processes for disposal of applications for patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and Geographical Indications, and cooperation in the field of protection of Traditional Knowledge.
Current Affair 5:
Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has allowed use of H-CNG (18% mix of hydrogen) in CNG engines.
In a step towards promoting alternative clean fuel for transportation, the Union road transport and highways ministry has notified hydrogen-enriched compressed natural gas (CNG) as an automobile fuel. An ideal blend of 18% hydrogen in CNG can be used as automotive fuel after compression. This can lower emissions and promote green fuel for automobiles in the country. It can also reduce carbon monoxide emission by 70%, according to a study.
When used in an internal combustion engine, even the addition of small amount of hydrogen to natural gas (5-30% by volume) leads to many advantages, because of some particular physical and chemical properties.
Some of the most notable features are as given below:
- Addition of hydrogen increases the H/C ratio of the fuel. A higher H/C ratio results in less CO2 per unit of energy produced and thereby reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
- Natural gas has low flame speed while hydrogen has the flame speed about eight times higher, therefore, when excess air ratio is much higher than the stoichiometric condition, the combustion of natural gas is not as stable as HCNG. The problem encountered using natural gas is that the engine will experience incomplete combustion (misfire) before sufficient NOx reductions are achieved. Adding hydrogen to the fuel extends the amount of charge dilution that can be achieved while still maintaining efficient combustion
- Hydrogen also has a very low energy density per unit volume and as a result, volumetric heating value of the HCNG mixture decreases as the proportion of hydrogen is increased in the mixture
- Blends of HCNG ranging from 15-30% extend the lean operating limit ensuring complete combustion which reduces HC and CO emissions
- The laminar burning speed of hydrogen is nearly eight times higher than that of natural gas, so the addition of hydrogen can increase the burning velocity of the mixture, and it brings some advantages such as shorter combustion duration, greater degree of constant volume combustion and improved indicated thermal efficiency.
- Special properties of hydrogen as a combustion stimulant can produce leverage factors much greater than 1 by improving fossil fuels and not just displacing them, an obvious benefit of the leverage effect is that CO2 reduction is possible even if the hydrogen used is produced by natural gas without any ‘sequestration’ of CO2.