5th December 2020

Cannabis removed from ‘most dangerous drug’ category

Recently, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) has voted to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from ‘most dangerous drug’ category.

  • The cannabis has been removed from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
  • The 53-member CND has chosen to affirm a World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation from 2019 to remove cannabis from its ‘most dangerous’ category.
  • In January 2019, the WHO made six recommendations related to scheduling of cannabis in UN treaties.

India’s stand on Cannabis

  • India was part of the voting majority, along with the US and most European nations whereas China, Pakistan and Russia were among those who voted against.
  • In India, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, illegalises any mixture with or without any neutral material, of any of the two forms of cannabis i.e. charas and ganja or any drink prepared from it.
  • India is a signatory of the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in 1990, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 and the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971.

Cannabis Plant

  • According to the WHO, cannabis is a generic term used to denote the several psychoactive preparations of the plant Cannabis sativa.
    • The major psychoactive constituent in cannabis is Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
  • The Mexican name marijuana is frequently used in referring to cannabis leaves or other crude plant material in many countries.
  • Most species of cannabis are dioecious plants that can be identified as either male or female.
  • The WHO says that cannabis is by far the most widely cultivated, trafficked and abused illicit drug in the world.

International Law on Cannabis

  • The Vienna-based CND, founded in 1946, is the UN agency mandated to decide on the scope of control of substances by placing them in the schedules of global drug control conventions.
  • Cannabis has been on Schedule IV (the most dangerous category) of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs for as long as the international treaty has existed.
  • Currently, over 50 countries allow medicinal cannabis programs, and its recreational use has been legalised in Canada, Uruguay and 15 US states.

 

Operation Trident

Recently, India celebrated December 4 as Navy Day to commemorate Operation Trident.

  • The Navy plans to celebrate 2021 as ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’ as part of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the victory in the 1971 war.
  • Under Operation Trident, the Indian Navy sank three vessels near the Pakistani port city of Karachi.
  • The stars of the mission were the then-recently acquired Soviet Osa missile boats, fitted with 4 SS-N-2 (P-15) Styx missiles.
  • INS Kiltan, Katchall, Nipat, Nighat and Veer sank PNS Khaibar killing 222 Pakistani sailors, and PNS Muhafiz killing 33 Pakistani sailors.
  • Operation Trident resulted in the first use of anti-ship missiles in the region as well as the first sinking of naval vessels during hostilities in the region since World War II.

 

Smuggling in India Report 2019-20

Recently, the Union Minister of Finance released the Smuggling in India Report 2019-20 on the occasion of 63rd Founding Day Celebrations of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).

  • It detected 412 cases of smuggling resulting in the seizure of contraband worth ₹1,949 crore in 2019-20.
  • It arrested 837 economic offenders and also unearthed 761 complex cases of Customs duty evasion amounting to ₹2,183 crore.
  • In 2019-20, the DRI spearheaded the operations against the trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
  • The agency cracked down on smugglers and seized 174.50 metric tonne of red sanders apart from rescuing endangered animals and birds.
  • The DRI also busted an international drug smuggling racket with the seizure of 3.3 kg of cocaine under the ‘Operation Calypso’.

 

Cancer Genome Atlas

Recently, the Minister of Science and Technology and Vice President of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has virtually inaugurated the 2nd Cancer Genome Atlas 2020 (TCGA).

  • It reiterated commitment of government of India to reduce the burden of cancer in the country by employing latest technologies in the genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • It is important that India should create indigenous, open-source and comprehensive database of molecular profiles of all cancer prevalent in Indian population.
  • The Union Minister acknowledged the efforts of the consortium comprising of scientists and clinicians from across the world, who have come together to build an Indian Cancer Genomics Atlas (ICGA).
  • The conference underlined the importance of scientific team building from diverse backgrounds in strategizing a coordinated response.
  • It highlighted that establishment of Indian Cancer Genomics Atlas (ICGA) is a much needed initiative and will add value to India and to the world of science in terms of cancer treatment.

Cancer Genome Atlas 2020 (TCGA)

  • It is a landmark cancer genomics program that molecularly characterized over 20,000 primary cancer and matched normal samples spanning 33 cancer types.
  • It is a joint effort between the US-National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute.
  • The TCGA generated over 2.5 petabytes of genomic, epigenomic, transcriptomic and proteomic data.
  • The ‘Indian Cancer Genomics Atlas (ICGA)’ has been initiated by a consortium of key stakeholders (led by CSIR) in India on the same lines of TCGA.

 

Advisory on advertisements on Online Gaming

Recently, the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued advisory on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports etc.

  • It provides that all private satellite TV channels stating that no advertisement should present online gaming for real money winnings as an income opportunity or an alternative employment option.
    • As per the ASCI guidelines, no gaming advertisement may depict any person under the age of 18 years engaged in playing an online game for real money winnings or suggest that such persons can play these games.
  • According to the advisory, private television channels will have to follow the guidelines issued by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).
  • All broadcasters are advised that the guidelines issued by ASCI are complied with and advertisements broadcast on television adhere to the guidelines of the ASCI.

Need for guidelines on advertisements

  • The ministry said it had come to its notice that a large number of advertisements on online gaming, fantasy sports, among others, have been appearing on television, and concerns were expressed that such advertisements appear to be misleading.
  • The concerns were expressed that such advertisements appear to be misleading and do not correctly convey to the consumers the financial and other risks associated.

 

South Asia Forum on SDGs

Recently, UNESCAP South Asia and Pacific virtually organised a special dialogue on disaster and climate resilience in South Asia during the Fourth South Asia Forum on SDGs.

  • It was jointly organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the Government of Maldives.
  • The key objectives of the High Level meeting were to identify the opportunities and imperatives to overcome the challenges in implementing the systemic approach to disaster and public health risk management.
    • The other objectives were to formulate the strategies for capitalizing on existing regional and sub-regional cooperation mechanism including the South Asian Forum on SDG.
  • It aims to scale up multi-hazard and multi-sectoral preparedness systems for future cascading disasters.
  • It highlighted that South Asian nations are facing challenges of extreme weather events like floods, cyclone, heat waves, cold waves, landslides and drought as well as COVID-19 pandemic and its recovery.

Initiatives taken by India on SDG

  • The vision for eliminating single-use plastics, expansion of forest cover, improvement and restoration of 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 have already started yielding positive results.
  • India took the initiative for the coalition for resilient infrastructure and announced the global Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019.
  • India is also hosting SAARC Disaster Management Centre which works closely with Universities of SAARC and BIMSTEC member States.

 

Passage Exercise (PASSEX)

Recently, the Indian Navy (IN) is undertaking a Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with Russian Federation Navy (RuFN) in the Eastern Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

  • The exercise involves participation of RuFN guided missile cruiser Varyag, large anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleyev and medium ocean tanker Pechenga.
  • Indian Navy is being represented by indigenously constructed guided missile frigate Shivalik and anti-submarine corvette Kadmatt alongwith integral helicopters.
  • The exercise is aimed at enhancing interoperability, improving understanding and imbibing best practices between both the friendly navies.
  • It would involve advanced surface and anti-submarine warfare exercises, weapon firings, seamanship exercises and helicopter operations.
  • PASSEXs are conducted regularly by IN with units of friendly foreign navies, whilst visiting each other’s ports or during a rendezvous at sea.
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