Daily IAS Current Affairs March 14, 2020 | PendulumIAS

2020-03-14 | 5 minutes

General Studies-II- Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation

1. National Biopharma Mission

About the Mission

  • It is an Industry-Academia Collaborative Mission for accelerating biopharmaceutical development in the country. 
  • It was launched in 2017 and is cofunded by the World Bank loan (50% of the total cost).
  • The mission will be implemented by the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).
  • Innovate in India (i3) programme has been launched under this mission to promote entrepreneurship and indigenous manufacturing in the biopharma sector.
  • The programme is supporting SMEs for indigenous product development (Novel Cell Lines, devices and raw materials for Biologics manufacturing).
  • There are four verticals:
  1. Development of product leads for Vaccines, Biosimilars and Medical Devices that are relevant to the public health need by focusing on managed partnerships.
  2. Upgradation of shared infrastructure facilities and establishing them as centres of product discovery/discovery validations and manufacturing.
  3. Develop human capital by providing specific training
  4. Technology Transfer Offices


General Studies-III- Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology, Bio-technology and issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights

2. Speed up RBCs generation in the lab


A team of researchers at the Department of Biotechnology’s National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) at Pune has found the process to speed up the generation of RBCs.


  • The duration of the process can be reduced by three days with the addition of a very low concentration of a small protein molecule called ‘transforming growth factor β1’ along with a hormone called ‘erythropoietin’.
  • RBCs are transfused as a life-saving treatment for anaemia, injury-related trauma, supportive care in cardiovascular surgery, blood cancers, etc.
  • The researchers are trying to develop RBCs outside the human body from haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Although some have succeeded, but the process takes around 21 days and the resources required to grow cells in lab can be very costly on a large scale for clinical purposes.
  • HSCs are the stem cells that are present in the bone marrow and blood and give rise to other blood cells.

Prelims Facts


  • It is a connective tissue that is red in color due to the presence of a red pigment called haemoglobin in the red blood cells.
  • It consists of a fluid part called plasma and blood corpuscles.
  • Plasma is an alkaline viscous fluid that forms around 55% of the blood. It consists of various organic and inorganic substances. It is responsible for maintaining the pH of blood, preventing blood loss, providing immunity to the body.
  • Red Blood Cells or Erythrocytes: These are highly specialized cells that transport oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. These are produced in the bone marrow. Their life cycle is of 120 days.


General Studies-II- Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation

3. Essential Commodities Act, 1955


Face marks and Hand sanitizers have been declared essential commodities until June 30, 2020.


  • The decision has been taken to prevent the black marketing and hoarding of these items so as to ensure the regular supply of these commodities.
  • Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for face masks and hand sanitizers has increased manifold, and the shortage of these items led to a sudden spike in their prices. There were also reports of the hoarding of stocks by manufacturers.
  • The decision will allow the government to take stringent action against those involved in overpricing, black-marketing and hoarding of these items.

Prelims Facts

Essential Commodities Act, 1955:

  • The Act is used by the government to regulate the production, supply and distribution of the commodities listed as ‘essential’ so that these are available to the customers at fair prices.
  • The government is empowered to fix the MRP of any packaged product declared as “essential”.
  • The government can include a particular item in the list if it finds that the supply is short and any illegal activity is going on with respect to that item.
  • The centre can also remove the item from the list when it finds that the situations under control.
  • The essential commodities list includes drugs, fertilizers, pulses, and edible oils, and petroleum and petroleum products.


General Studies- II- Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes

4. National crèche Scheme


The Minister of Women and Child Development informed Lok Sabha in a written reply that 6453 crèches are functional across the country under the National Crèche Scheme.

About the Scheme

  • The Scheme was earlier named as Rajiv Gandhi National Crèche Scheme.
  • It is a centrally sponsored scheme.
  • Day care facilities are provided to children in the age group of 6 months to 6 years of working mothers.
  • Health check-up and immunization, growth monitoring and supplementary nutrition are also provided to these children.
  • NITI Aayog conducts third party evaluation of the scheme at various levels.
  • Creches shall be open for 26 days in a month and for 7.5 hrs per day.
  • The number of children should not be more than 25 per crèche with one helper and one worker.

Mains Question

  1. What is Essential Commodities Act? Do you think there is a need to amend certain provisions of this Act? (200 words)
  2. Discuss the initiatives taken by the government to boost the development in the biopharma sector. (150 words)