Daily Current Affairs : 17th August

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. No First Use Nuclear Doctrine
  2. National Essential Diagnostic List
  3. Shares with Differential Voting Rights
  4. Facts for Prelims : Thar Express, Char Dham

1 . No First Use Nuclear Doctrine

Context : Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that while India has strictly adhered to Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s doctrine of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) of nuclear weapons, “what happens in future depends on the circumstances”.

What is No First Use doctrine, and how did it come into being?

  • A commitment to not be the first to use a nuclear weapon in a conflict has long been India’s stated policy. Pakistan, by contrast, has openly threatened India with the use of nuclear weapons on multiple occasions beginning from the time the two nations were not even acknowledged nuclear powers.
  • On January 4, 2003, when Vajpayee was India’s Prime Minister, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) met to review the progress in operationalizing the country’s nuclear doctrine.
  • Among the major points in the doctrine was “a posture of No First Use”, which was described as follows: “Nuclear weapons will only be used in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or on Indian forces anywhere”.
  • However, the doctrine made it clear that India’s “nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage”.
  • Also, “in the event of a major attack against India, or Indian forces anywhere, by biological or chemical weapons, India will retain the option of retaliating with nuclear weapons”.

Other Features of the Doctrine

  • Nuclear retaliatory attacks can only be authorised by the civilian political leadership through the Nuclear Command Authority. The Nuclear Command Authority comprises a Political Council and an Executive Council. The Political Council is chaired by the Prime Minister.
  • India would not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states.
  • India would continue to put strict controls on the export of nuclear and missile related materials and technologies, participate in the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty negotiations, and continue to observe the moratorium on nuclear tests
  • India remains committed to the goal of a nuclear weapons free world, through global, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament.

Implications of revoking the doctrine

  • India’s image as a responsible nuclear power is central to its nuclear diplomacy. Nuclear restraint has allowed New Delhi to get accepted in the global mainstream. From being a nuclear pariah for most of the Cold War, within a decade of Pokhran 2, it has been accepted in the global nuclear order. It is now a member of most of the technology denial regimes such as the Missile Technology Control regime and the Wassenaar Arrangement. It is also actively pursuing full membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Revoking the ‘no first use’ pledge would harm India’s nuclear image worldwide. 
  • If India has to switch from NFU, it will have to make substantial changes to existing nuclear structures, alert levels, deployment and command and control arrangements. This will involve a sizeable increase in delivery systems and warheads. The pressure on India’s resources would also impact the buildup of other kinetic and non-kinetic capabilities.
  • A purely retaliatory nuclear use is easier to operationalize. Nuclear preemption is a costly policy as it requires massive investment not only in weapons and delivery systems but also intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) infrastructure.


  • The main advantage of NFU is that it minimises the probability of nuclear use. This is so because it enhances the possibility of containing the crisis before the point of no return when miscommunications, misjudgement, misperception or the fog of war may force either power to go first. Instead, if both are NFU powers, there is greater probability of political leaders stepping back from the brink – for they know that a nuclear war cannot be won.
  • NFU for India also presents an opportunity for cooperation with China to work jointly towards a Global No First Use (GNFU) order.

2 . National Essential Diagnostic List

Context : India has got its first National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL) finalised by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) which aims to bridge the current regulatory system’s gap that do not cover all the medical devices and in-vitro diagnostic device (IVD). The current system is equipped to manage only the few notified devices.


  • Appreciating the urgent need to improve the availability of accessible and quality diagnostics in public health facilities, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India under the aegis of National Health Mission (NHM) launched the Free Diagnostics Service Initiative (FDI) in July 2015.
  • Under this initiative, the NHM is supporting all states to provide essential diagnostics – laboratory and radiology at their public health facilities, free of cost.
  • In addition, National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) was launched to strengthen Rural Public Health System. Under NRHM, Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) provides optimal specialized care to the community and achieve and maintain an acceptable standard of quality of care.
  • In India, diagnostics (medical devices and in vitro diagnostics) follow a regulatory framework based on the drug regulations under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945. Diagnostics are regulated under the regulatory provisions of the Medical Device Rules, 2017.

About National Essential Diagnostics List

  • The National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL) builds upon the Free Diagnostics Service Initiative and other diagnostics initiatives of MoHFW [IPHS, Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) etc] to provide an expanded basket of tests at different levels of the public health system.
  • India has become the first country to compile such a list that would provide guidance to the government for deciding the kind of diagnostic tests that different healthcare facilities in villages and remote areas require. The list is meant for facilities from village till the district level
  • The list also encompasses tests relevant for new programmes such as Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana. In addition to tests, corresponding IVD products have also been recommended


  • Implementation of NEDL will enable improved health care delivery through evidence-based care, improved patient outcomes and reduction in out-of-pocket expenditure; effective utilization of public health facilities; effective assessment of disease burden, disease trends, surveillance, and outbreak identification; and address antimicrobial resistance crisis.
  • EDL will also enable standardization of technology/diagnostic services and will aid in promotion of R&D for new appropriate and effective diagnostics which in turn will lead to reduction in costs.
  • It will also foster improved regulation in procurement, strengthened capacity of 6 laboratories including their accreditation, establishment of nation-wide quality control systems etc.
  • EDL will complement the national EML which has been successful in facilitating access to treatment and promoting affordable drug prices.


  • Diagnostics serve a key role in improving health and quality of life and the ICMR has noted that the key challenges anticipated during implementation of the National EDL include — “Adoption by States and harmonisation with local standard diagnostic protocols and treatment guidelines, provision of requisite infrastructure, processes and human resources, ensuring quality of tests including EQAS and quality control and adequate utilisation of EDL tests for making informed decisions for treatment protocols.”

3 . Shares with Differential Voting Rights

Context :  The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has amended the provisions relating to issue of shares with Differential Voting Rights (DVRs) provisions under the Companies Act with the objective of enabling promoters of Indian companies to retain control of their companies in their pursuit for growth and creation of long-term value for shareholders, even as they raise equity capital from global investors.

About the Amendment

  • The key change brought about through the amendments to the Companies (Share Capital & Debentures) Rules brings in an enhancement in the previously existing cap of 26% of the total post issue paid up equity share capital to a revised cap of 74% of total voting power in respect of shares with Differential Voting Rights of a company.
  • Another key change brought about is the removal of the earlier requirement of distributable profits for 3 years for a company to be eligible to issue shares with Differential Voting Rights.
  • Alongside the above two changes, another major step taken is that the time period within which Employee Stock Options (ESOPs) can be issued by Startups recognized by the Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade (DPIIT) to promoters or Directors holding more than 10% of equity shares, has been enhanced from 5 years to 10 years from the date of their incorporation.


  • The above two initiatives have been taken by the Government in response to requests from innovative tech companies & startups and to strengthen the hands of Indian companies and their promoters who have lately been identified by deep pocketed investors worldwide for acquisition of controlling stake in them to gain access to the cutting edge innovation and technology development being undertaken by them.
  • The Government had noted that such Indian promoters have had to cede control of companies which have prospects of becoming Unicorns, due to the requirements of raising capital through issue of equity to foreign investors.

About Differential Voting Rights

  • Differential Voting Rights (DVRs), which do not follow the common rule of one share-one vote, enable promoters to retain control over the company even after many new investors come in, by allowing shares with superior voting rights or lower or fractional voting rights to public investors.
  • But the issuance of DVRs with superior voting rights was prohibited by the SEBI. This was to prevent the possible misuse of power by the promoters detrimental to the interests of small shareholders.
  • To make capital available to Indian start-ups and to encourage listing on the country’s exchanges, SEBI recently permitted Initial Public Offering (IPO) of unlisted companies with shares of superior rights.
  • Prior to the amendment, the Companies (Share Capital and Debentures) Rules of 2014 allowed the issue of shares with differential voting rights, subject to riders—the business should have distributable profits for the previous three years, and the capital raised through shares with differential voting rights must not exceed 26% of the post issue capital.

4 . Facts for Prelims

Thar Link Express

  • Thar Link Express is the Indian portion of the international passenger train Thar Express operated weekly by Indian Railway using its own coaches and locomotives, between Jodhpur and Munabao.
  • Passengers from Munabao then clear customs and are transported to across the border to Zero Point station where the Thar Express takes passengers to Karachi, Pakistan.

Char Dham

  • Four pilgrim-destinations namely Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath, collectively known as Char Dham

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