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The Hindu PDF Analysis for UPSC
- Goods exports in April slumped to $34.6 billion, the lowest since October 2022.
- Exports have contracted for three consecutive months and are 12.7% lower than the previous April.
- Imports also shrank by 14% to a 15-month low of under $50 billion.
- The decline in exports and imports signals a sudden shift in momentum.
- The new Foreign Trade Policy’s goal of achieving a $2 trillion export target in seven years has had a shaky start.
- While the trade deficit has eased to a 20-month low, managing it should not be the primary goal.
- Falling imports suggest a decline in domestic demand.
- Declining imports of petroleum and gems/jewelry affect exports of value-added end products.
- Petroleum exports shrank by 17.5% in April, while jewelry shipments slipped by 30%.
- Commodity prices cooling and faltering global demand contribute to the shrinking trade basket.
- China’s economy opening up hasn’t provided immediate relief, and European and North American markets are expected to speed up orders closer to the festive season.
- India should use this period to review its trade stance, reduce reliance on a few large markets, and pursue greater integration with global value chains and multilateral trading arrangements.
Rajasthan’s move spells some hope for gig workers: Page 8
- The Chief Minister of Rajasthan announced the establishment of the Rajasthan Platform-Based Gig Workers Social Security and Welfare Fund, India’s first welfare fund for gig and platform workers.
- Many State governments have not yet passed rules to implement the Code on Social Security, raising concerns about the speed at which gig and platform workers can receive benefits.
- The Rajasthan Platform-based Gig Workers Welfare Board will function as a tripartite institution with representatives from bureaucracy, employers/clients, and workers’ unions/associations.
- The board aims to provide social security benefits to around three to four lakh workers in the State.
- The Code on Social Security limits the types of schemes and programs the board can establish, with key protection schemes funded by the central government.
- Funding for the board is expected to come from platform companies, but the specifics of financial allocation and charging platforms remain unclear.
- Worker boards in India have faced criticism for not providing sufficient benefits to offset the time and resources required for registration and access.
- It is uncertain how the Gig and Platform Worker Board will address labor rights and the challenges faced by gig and platform workers.
- Despite challenges, the establishment of the board is considered a significant achievement for platform workers and unions.
- The initiation of the board before the 2024 general election is noteworthy amidst speculation that States would delay implementing the new Codes until after the election.
Why spurious liquor kills: Page 10
- At least 22 people have died and over 30 others are being treated in hospitals after consuming spurious liquor in Tamil Nadu’s Chengalpattu and Villupuram districts.
- Liquor sales in Tamil Nadu are controlled by the State government, but incidents of spurious liquor consumption have still occurred.
- Ethanol is the primary alcohol found in recreational beverages and is a psychoactive drug that has intoxicating effects.
- The World Health Organization states that no level of alcohol consumption is safe for health, as it can lead to dependence, increase the risk of diseases, and cause death.
- Spurious liquor contains methanol in addition to ethanol, and it is typically homemade liquor to which methanol is added.
- Methanol is a hazardous chemical with various industrial applications and can be lethal when consumed in high quantities.
- Methanol is metabolized in the liver, and its breakdown products, including formaldehyde and formic acid, can lead to adverse effects such as metabolic acidosis, optic neuropathy, cerebral edema, hemorrhage, and death.
- Treatment for methanol poisoning involves administering ethanol or an antidote called fomepizole to inhibit the metabolism of methanol into formaldehyde and formic acid.
- Dialysis and administration of folinic acid may also be used to remove methanol and its byproducts from the body and mitigate damage.
- Ophthalmic effects from methanol consumption may become apparent within 24 hours.
- Delayed treatment, especially if ethanol was consumed alongside methanol, can increase mortality rates.
PM to visit Japan, Papua New Guinea and Australia: Page 12
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Japan, Papua New Guinea, and Australia from May 19 to 24.
- In Japan, from May 19 to 21, Mr. Modi will attend the G7 summit in the city of Hiroshima.
- During the G7 sessions, the Prime Minister will discuss topics such as peace, stability, prosperity of a sustainable planet, as well as food, fertilizer, and energy security.
- After Japan, Mr. Modi will travel to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea to host the third summit of the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation.
- The final leg of the visit will be in Sydney, Australia, from May 22 to 24, where the Prime Minister will attend the Quad summit.
Not violating sanctions on Russian oil, says Centre after EU Minister’s charge: Page 13
- The European Union’s Foreign Minister, Josep Borrell, stated that Europe should not allow the entry of refined petroleum products from India made from Russian oil.
- The Indian government denied violating sanctions and stated that it is difficult to determine the origins of petroleum products sold in Europe.
- External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar refuted the claim, mentioning that Russian crude, if significantly transformed in a third country, is not considered Russian anymore, citing EU Council Regulation 833/2014.
- EU Executive Vice-President on Competition, Margrethe Vestager, emphasized the legal basis of the sanctions and expressed the willingness to have discussions with India as friends.
- According to Mr. Borrell, Indian refiners were purchasing large volumes of Russian crude oil and processing it into fuels for sale in Europe, which he considered a circumvention of sanctions.
- The Indian government sources dismissed the allegation, stating that the government has no knowledge of such sales and that private entities and oil refineries make commercial decisions.
- Earlier, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry denied a report alleging India’s involvement in buying Russian oil and selling refined products to European countries.
India moves closer to getting its first indigenous vaccine against dengue: Page 14
- The Serum Institute of India and Panacea Biotec have submitted their responses to the Indian Council of Medical Research’s call for collaboration on Phase 3 clinical trials for an indigenous dengue vaccine.
- The Phase 3 trial aims to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and immunogenicity of the tetravalent dengue vaccine candidate developed by Indian manufacturers.
- Trials for the adult vaccine are expected to begin around August, according to a senior health official.
- Dengue is a viral disease that causes significant morbidity and mortality globally, with 2 to 2.5 lakh cases reported annually in India.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified dengue as one of the top 10 global health threats.
- Currently, there is no specific treatment for dengue, highlighting the urgent need for effective vaccines.
- The Serum Institute of India and Panacea Biotec are developing potential vaccines, with the Serum Institute initiating studies in the pediatric population and Panacea planning Phase 3 trials in healthy adults.
- The Phase 3 protocol has been approved by the Drugs Controller General of India, and vaccine production is being scaled up with trials expected to start in August-September.
- The desired characteristics of a dengue vaccine include a good safety profile, protection against all four serotypes of dengue, reduced risk of severe disease, long-term immune response, and effectiveness across different age groups.
Source: The Hindu Epaper
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