Clash between India, China soldiers
Paper 2 – International Relations
Why You Should Know?
On December 9, Chinese troops carried out an incursion (“atikraman”) across the Line of Actual Control in Yangtse area of Tawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh, and attempted to unilaterally change the status quo.
In detail –
- The clash took place at about 3 am on December 9 at a nullah along the LAC in the Tawang heights near a point called Yangtse in Eastern Tawang. This part of the LAC is one of the “agreed disputed areas” between the two sides, according to military sources.
- Indian and Chinese troops are positioned on either side of the nullah, but on this night, some 300 Chinese troops came into the Indian side.
- There were no warning signs about the transgression and hearing the sentries being assaulted, some 70 to 80 Indian troops mobilised quickly in the dead of night to push back the intruders. There was intense hand-to-hand combat with sticks and canes for a few hours, according to sources.
- Indian troops resisted this attempt by China “with firmness”, and there was a scuffle (“haathapai”) in this faceoff.
- Some soldiers on both sides sustained some injuries in the clash (“jhadap”), but no Indian soldier had been killed or had been seriously wounded.
- Subsequently, the local commander of the Army held a flag meeting with his Chinese counterpart on December 11, where the Chinese side was asked to maintain peace on the border.
- The matter has been raised with the Chinese side at the diplomatic level as well, Rajnath Singh said.
- In certain areas along the LAC in the Tawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh there are areas of differing perception, where both sides patrol the area up to their claim lines. This has been the trend since 2006.
- A similar transgression had taken place in June 2016 when around 250 PLA soldiers had transgressed into the area but no clashes were reported then.
- there was no predicting when the PLA would carry out such operations as “the Chinese perpetually control the escalatory ladder in that area” and they do so “at a place of their choosing”.
- This time the PLA had “pre-planned” the transgression for an “opportune” time. The location of the skirmish is described as heavily forested terrain, with Chinese troops occupying “top of the wall” positions with deep supply lines and infrastructure.
- Due to snowfall in the area, this was also the time for some Indian troops to withdraw from their positions, giving the Chinese side a further tactical upper hand, said the source.
- A heavy cloud cover also made it challenging for Indian satellites to capture images of any troop build-up.
Sources – IE
Paper 2 – Health
Why You Should Know?
base editing, the groundbreaking tech that cleared a teenager’s cancer. Alyssa, 13, is the first person in the world to benefit from this experimental cancer treatment, when everything else had failed.
In detail –
What is T-ALL cancer
- Alyssa was diagnosed with a kind of blood cancer known as T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL).
- T-ALL affects the stem cells in the bone marrow that produce a particular kind of white blood cells (WBC) called T lymphocytes (T cells).
- These cells provide a person immunity by killing cells carrying infections, activating other immune cells, and regulating the immune response.
- At least 20% of these WBC are atypical– as they accumulate in the bone marrow, they crowd out “good” WBCs and hence weaken the immune system.
- These unhealthy cells can also accumulate in other parts of the body like the liver, spleen and lymph nodes.
- While found in both children and adults, T-ALL’s incidence decreases with age.
How is T-ALL typically treated?
- Typical treatment for T-ALL is similar to that of any leukaemia– chemotherapy and stem cell/bone marrow transplant.
- Doctors will first administer multiple rounds of chemotherapy. This either kills the cancerous cells or stops them from further dividing.
- The exact schedule is guided by an individual’s age and general health.
- If this fails, and the individual is suitable, doctors will conduct bone marrow transplant.
- First the patient will undergo radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy that will kill the cancerous cells but also wreck an individual’s immunity system along with it.
- Thus, patients receive an infusion of healthy bone marrow cells that will hopefully multiply and restore immunity.
- Overall treatment for T-ALL is pretty effective– children have a survival rate of over 85 per cent after five years of receiving this treatment.
- Unfortunately, Alyssa lay in the unlucky 15 per cent of children where the treatment just did not work.
The experimental treatment
- In May, Alyssa, from Leicester in UK, began a trial where she received a dose of healthy T-cells from a donor that would hopefully attack her cancerous cells without destroying each other.
- Known as CAR-T therapy, this principle has been around for a while, but Alyssa’s case was different.
- Traditionally, CAR-T therapy involves adding a gene to T-cells that causes them to seek out and destroy cancerous cells. The modified cells are known as CAR-T cells.
- First, an individual’s own T-cells are removed, which are then modified and reintroduced to the individual.
- The problem with such an approach (besides the expense) is that very often, when an individual is really sick, it is simply impossible to obtain enough healthy T-cells to create CAR-T cells.
- While donors can provide healthy T-cells to an individual, these T-cells from a foreign body are going to attack every single cell in that patient’s body, making the treatment counterproductive.
- Thus, scientists have resorted to what is known as base editing– through this technique of genetic editing, they make it possible for one donor to supply T-cells to multiple recipients, without the traditional risks associated with it.
- Thus, Alyssa received genetically modified cells that were programmed to specifically attack her cancer while leaving the rest of her body alone.
What is base editing?
- Bases are the language of life. Just as letters in the alphabet spell out words that carry meaning, the billions of bases in our DNA spell out the instruction manual for our body.
- With advances in genetic technology, scientists have been able to zoom into a precise part of the genetic code to alter the molecular structure of just one base, effectively changing its genetic instructions.
- A team at the Great Ormond Street Hospital managed to use base-editing to create a new type of T-cell from a healthy donor that would not attack other cells in Alyssa’s body, not kill each other, survive chemotherapy and finally, hunt down all other T-cells in Alyssa’s body (healthy and cancerous).
- After this therapy worked in its initial stages, Alyssa was given another bone marrow transplant to restore her immunity.
- Future Hopes
- As of today, Alyssa is 6 months into remission. While doctors are still monitoring her and will do so for the foreseeable future, currently the cancer cells have disappeared with no signs of reappearing just yet.
- Genetic manipulation is a “very fast-moving area of science” with “enormous potential” across a range of diseases.
- Success in Alyssa’s case will have a positive impact on the research that is conducted and ultimately benefit many patients.
- Currently, three more trials that use this technique are underway.
Source – IE
Geminids Meteor Shower
Paper 1 – Geography
Why You Should Know?
This year, the Geminids will peak around December 13-14, when, with a clear sky and away from bright city lights, one can watch scores of meteors streak across the sky.
In detail –
Causes of meteor showers
- Meteors are usually fragments of comets. As they enter the Earth’s atmosphere at high speed, they burn up, creating a spectacular “shower”.
- According to NASA – Meteors come from leftover comet particles and bits from asteroids. When these objects come around the Sun, they leave a dusty trail behind them.
- Every year Earth passes through these debris trails, which allows the bits to collide with our atmosphere where they disintegrate to create fiery and colorful streaks in the sky.
- NASA describes the Geminids as “one of the best and most reliable annual meteor showers”.
- If their peak coincides with the new moon, and if the weather is clear, the Geminids can produce approximately 100-150 meteors per hour for viewing.
- This year however, the moon is bright, and so only 30-40 meteors per hour will be visible in the Northern Hemisphere. “But the Geminids are so bright that this should still be a good show,” NASA says.
- The Geminids are unique because unlike most meteor showers, they originate not from a comet, but from an asteroid, the 3200 Phaethon.
- The 3200 Phaethon was discovered on October 11, 1983. It is named after the Greek mythology character Phaethon, son of the Sun God Helios.
- It takes 1.4 years to complete one round of the Sun. As the 3200 Phaethon moves close to the Sun while orbiting it, the rocks on its surface heat up and break off.
- When the Earth passes through the trail of this debris, the Geminids are caused.
Why are they called Geminids?
- That comes from the constellation Gemini, from whose location in the sky the meteor shower appears to originate.
- According to NASA – The constellation for which a meteor shower is named only serves to aid viewers in determining which shower they are viewing on a given night.
- The constellation is not the source of the meteors. Also, you should not look only to the constellation of Gemini to view the Geminids – they are visible throughout the night sky.
How to view
- As mentioned earlier, the glow of a bright gibbous moon will wash out some of the meteor streaks this year.
- Chances of a successful viewing are higher from locations far away from the lights of cities.
- Generally, pollution makes viewing meteor showers from India difficult.
- But in areas where there is no light or air pollution, viewers do not need to use any special equipment to view the showers.
- Make sure to give your eyes enough time to adjust to the darkness, which can take about 30 minutes.
- Additionally, viewers should try to stay away from their phones, as looking at bright screens affects night vision.
Source – TH
J & K’s Family ID
Paper 2 – Government Policies
Why Should You Know?
Recently Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha’s announcement that the government has decided to introduce a family pehchan patra (identity card) for residents of the Union Territor.
In details –
What is the family pehchan patra?
- It will be an identity card with a unique eight-digit alphanumeric number to identify each family and its members through the head of the family.
- The card will contain details of all members of the family, including their names, ages, qualifications, employment status, etc.
- The card will be linked with the Aadhaar and bank account number of the head of the family.
- It will be a single identifier for every family and individual in the UT that will instantly confirm their eligibility for government welfare schemes and facilitate direct transfer of benefits to their bank accounts with minimum human interference.
- According to government officials, the primary objective is to create an authentic, verified, and reliable database of families in J&K to ensure speedy and transparent doorstep delivery of welfare schemes to eligible beneficiaries.
- The database will help to identify and weed out duplicate ration cards and Aadhaar, and will help the government identify families that may have a number of educated youth, but without jobs.
- While Aadhaar contains information about an individual, the family ID card will collate information about families to help in the delivery of welfare schemes.
- Since the database will have information on births, deaths, and marriages that will be continuously and automatically updated, it will help the government plan policy based on authentic, updated population data.
- Because updations such as the removal of a woman’s name from the family of her parents and addition in the family of her husband will be carried out automatically, people will no longer have to visit local officials for such purposes.
Compulsory or not?
- The government has said that the database will be created only with the consent of the family.
- But the families that do not consent to having the card will likely face practical difficulties because benefits such as subsidised rations through the targeted public distribution system under the National Food Security Act, free medical treatment, old age/ widow pensions, help to victims of militancy, family pensions in case of death of sole earning member of a family, scholarships, etc. will be linked with the family ID card.
- Several other states have proposed or created similar databases.
- Haryana was the first state to introduce the concept of the family pehchan patra, and Punjab introduced it last year for direct transfer of benefits to families who are eligible for various social service schemes of the government.
- Last month, the Uttar Pradesh government decided to launch a UP Parivar Kalyan Card for similar purposes.
- Rajasthan’s government has introduced something called a “Jan Aadhaar” which “aims to be the single identifier of a family and also an individual”, and “the sole vehicle on which delivery of all kinds of cash as well non-cash benefits and services are riding and reaching to the door-step of the residents”.
- According to the Rajasthan Jan Aadhaar Authority, 1.94 crore families with 7.55 crore individuals are enrolled under the Jan Aadhaar Yojana.
Sources – IE
Green Hydrogen Electrolysers
Paper 3 –Science & Technology
Why You Should Know?
Recently India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant said that India can transform and become the global leader, exporter, producer of electrolyzer and global champion of green hydrogen,.
In detail –
What is a green hydrogen electrolysers?
- Hydrogen electrolysers are devices that use electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
- When electricity input to the electrolyser is obtained from renewable sources like wind and solar, then the hydrogen produced is called green hydrogen.
- Typically, electrolysers consume 50-55 kilowatt-hours or units of electricity to produce one kilogram of hydrogen.
- Electrolysers produce hydrogen at about 50-90 degree Celsius and at a pressure of 30-50 bar.
- Electrolysers are commercially available at a size of a few kilowatts (kW) to megawatts (MW).
- There are various electrolyser technologies available today. Alkaline electrolysers and polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysers are commercially available technologies.
- Alkaline electrolysers use liquid alkaline electrolyte solution of sodium or potassium hydroxide while PEM electrolysers are based on solid polymer membrane.
- Solid oxide electrolyser (SOE) is an upcoming technology that consumes less electricity than AE and PEM but is a costly option.
- In addition to these, there are other proprietary technologies like electrochemical, thermally-activated chemical (E-TAC) and anion exchange membrane (AEM) that claim to be more efficient than existing technology options.
- Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and can therefore become the perfect fuel.
- But this is not the only reason: when hydrogen is burned, carbon dioxide is not produced; instead, water vapour is produced.
- In this way, its use would drastically reduce the emissions responsible for the greenhouse effect and global warming.
- The difficulty lies in the fact that in order to obtain hydrogen, electrical energy is needed, and if this energy comes from fossil fuels, emissions would be generated.
- In contrast, the production of what is known as green hydrogen is based on the use of renewable energies to power the electrolysis process, by means of which hydrogen is obtained from water.
- The machine in charge of this process is called an electrolyser.
National Centre for Good Governance
Paper 2 – International Relations
Why You Should Know?
A two-week capacity building program for civil servants from Maldives and Bangladesh begins at National Center for Good Governance (NCGG), Mussoorie.
In detail –
- 27 civil servants from Maldives and 39 Civil Servants from Bangladesh are taking part in these two programmes.
- This programme has been conceptualized in consonance with GOI’s vision of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ and ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
- India is helping neighbouring countries to build capacities of their civil servants to meet the emerging challenges in governance and assured public service delivery to improve the quality of life of people.
- This capacity building programme will help the civil servants in putting up dedicated efforts to fill in the gaps between policies and implementation.
- It is scientifically tailored to equip them to deliver robust and seamless services to the people.
About capacity building programme
- The capacity building programme is in the line with GOI’s good governance mantra that is ‘pro-people’ by putting ‘citizen first’ at the forefront of the development strategy.
- The programme aims to promote exchange of information, knowledge, share new ideas and best practices to enhance sensitivity, responsiveness and bring efficiency in civil servants of participating countries.
- During the visit of Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi to Maldives in 2019, National Centre for Good Governance (NCGG), entered into an MoU with the Civil Service Commission, Maldives for capacity building of 1,000 Maldives civil servants by 2024.
- Similarly, an agreement was signed with the Govt of Bangladesh for the capacity building of 1,800 civil servants by 2024.
About National Centre for Good Governance
- The National Centre for Good Governance was set up in 2014 by the Government of India as an apex institution in the country with a mandate to work on good governance, policy reforms, training and capacity building of civil servants of the country as well as of other developing countries.
- It also works as a think tank. It has taken up capacity building of civil servants of several developing countries in partnership with the Ministry of External Affairs.
- So far, it has imparted training to civil servants of 15 countries viz. Bangladesh, Kenya, Tanzania, Tunisia, Seychelles, Gambia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Laos, Vietnam, Bhutan, Myanmar and Cambodia.
- These training were found to be highly useful by the participating officers of different countries.
- These programmes are much sought after and NCGG is expanding its capacity to accommodate higher number of civil servants of more countries as demand is on the rise.
- The capacity building programme entails detailed knowledge sharing in the field of public administration, total quality management, gender and development, decentralisation in India, public policy and implementation, leadership & communication, healthcare, water & sanitation, e-governance and digital India among other important areas.
Sources – TH
Krishi-Decision Support System
Why You Should Know?
Memorandum of Understanding signed on developing Krishi-Decision Support System using RISAT and VEDAS.
In detail –
- The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare is developing Krishi-DSS, a decision support system, on the lines of Gati Shakti, using RISAT-1A and VEDAS of Department of Space.
- This will enhance the evidence-based decision-making capability of all the stakeholders in the agriculture sector by way of integration with MOSDAC and BHUVAN (Geo-platform) of ISRO and systems of ICAR.
- RISAT-1A data would be extremely useful in developing decision support systems for Agriculture, Bioresources, Environment, Water Resources and Disaster Management. He said efforts were made to make this coordination and cooperation possible.
- RISAT-1A is India’s first Radar Imaging Satellite, which was launched on 14th February 2022.
- RISAT-1A is an all-weather satellite and can penetrate deep into vegetation. It can take high resolution geospatial images regardless of lighting conditions.
- Bhuvan, is an Indian web based utility which allows users to explore a set of map based content prepared by Indian Space Research Organisation.
- The content which the utility serves is mostly restricted to Indian boundaries and is offered in 4 regional languages.
- The content includes thematic maps related to disasters, agriculture, water resources, land cover and also processed satellite data of ISRO.
- Bhuvan is known for its association with various sections of Government of India to enable the use of Geospatial technology.
- Bhuvan has since its inception enabled Indian government to host public geospatial data as Information layers for visualisation and public consumption.
- Examples of the types of geospatial layers include Toll Information System for National Highways Authority of India , Islands information System for MHA, Cultural heritage sites for Ministry of culture etc.
Sources – AIR
Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices
Paper 3 – Economy
Why You Should Know?
The Government has put in place a Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) for Pharmaceutical companies, which is in operation since 2015, to prevent unethical practices by the pharmaceutical companies.
In detail –
- This code governs the conduct of pharmaceutical companies in their marketing practices, duly covering the various aspects such as medical representatives, textual and audio-visual promotional materials, samples, gifts, etc.
- Further, the code establishes relationship with healthcare professionals, wherein the provisions related to travel facilities, hospitality and cash or monetary grants to physicians or their families have been elaborated.
- The code also details the mode of operation of the code, responsibilities of the Pharmaceutical Associations in constituting the Ethics Committee for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (ECPMP) for handling the complaints and Apex Ethics Committee for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (AECPMP) for review, procedure of lodging a complaint, procedure of handling of complaints by the Pharmaceutical Associations and various penalty provisions.
- The code has been adopted by the all the major associations of pharmaceutical companies and the Department on various instances has reviewed implementation of the code by the Pharmaceuticals associations.
- The complaints of violation of the voluntary UCPMP by pharma companies, as received by the Department, are forwarded to the concerned pharmaceutical associations for taking necessary action.
Other laws for Pharma Industry
- Besides UCPMP, there exists sufficient and enforceable legal regime to counter, control and dis-incentivize the unethical marketing practices such as “Indian Medical Council Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002” under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, provisions available under Income Tax Act, Drugs and Cosmetics Act, Prevention of Corruption Act, etc
- As per information received from Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare that the manufacture, sale and distribution of drugs in the country are regulated under the provisions of Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules thereunder through a system of licensing and inspection.
- Licenses for manufacture, sale and distribution of drugs are granted by the State Licensing Authorities (SLAs) appointed by respective State Governments.
- Under the said Rules, Fixed Dose Combinations (FDC) is a New Drug. For the manufacture of any FDC falling under the definition of New Drug, permission is required from Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) before obtaining manufacturing license for the New Drug from the concerned State Licensing Authority.
- Under the aforesaid Act, manufacture/sale/distribution of any banned drug is a punishable offence. State Licensing Authorities are empowered to take action in this regard.
- Some cases of grant of manufacturing license of new drugs including Fixed Dose Combinations (FDCs) by some of the State Licensing Authorities (SLAs) without due approval of the Drugs Controller General (India) [DCG (I)] came to the notice of the Government.
- Apart from issuing repeated statutory directions under Section 33P of the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 to the State Governments not to issue such licenses to FDCs falling under definition of new Drugs without approval of DCG(I), the Central Government constituted an Expert Committee under the chairmanship of Prof C.K. Kokate to examine the safety and efficacy of such FDCs.
Sources – PIB
New India Literacy Programme
Paper 2 – Education
Why You Should Know?
Government has announced a Centrally Sponsored Scheme namely, “New India Literacy Programme” (NILP) for implementation during five years from 2022-23 to 2026-27.
In detail –
- The programme aims to cover a target of 5.00 crore learners during the five years under Foundational Literacy and Numeracy component.
- The programme has five objectives:
- Foundational Literacy and Numeracy,
- Critical Life Skills,
- Vocational Skills Development,
- Basic Education and
- Continuing Education.
- The major challenge faced by the Government while implementing the NILP presently is the opening and mapping of all Bank Accounts of Single Nodal Agencies (SNAs) and Implementing Agencies (IAs) in all States with Public Financial Management System (PFMS).
- This is a pre-requisite for release of funds as per revised procedure guidelines of Ministry of Finance. The challenge exists because this is the first year of implementation.
- The total financial outlay of NILP for five years (FYs 2022-23 to 2026-27) is Rs.1037.90 crore, out of which Rs.700 crore is Central share and Rs.337.90 crore is State share.
- The Central and State shares are in the ratio of 60:40 for all States other than North Eastern Region (NER) and Himalayan States where the sharing pattern between the Centre and the State is in the ratio of 90:10.
- For UTs with legislature the ratio is 60:40, except in the UT of Jammu & Kashmir where the ratio is 90:10, and for all other UTs without legislature the Central share is 100%.
- The fund flow is through PFMS and State treasuries.
- Various steps are being taken by the Government for effective implementation of the programme in the country and encouraging users to join the programme including Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- The first step is to identify the beneficiaries and Volunteer Teachers.
- Survey of beneficiaries and Volunteer Teachers (VTs) are being conducted by States/UTs using schools as the base.
- The volunteer teachers are trained to carry out the learning modules in online mode.
- Various workshops are being conducted by States/UTs.
- At national level, the content is driven by the Cell for National Centre for Literacy (CNCL) at National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).
- The teaching and learning material is available on DIKSHA portal developed by NCERT. The sample assessment modules have also been made available on DIKSHA.
- All States/UTs have been sensitized through communication dated 11th March, 2022 alongwith a roadmap for implementation of the programme for conducting, among others, environment building activities by the involvement and use of social media platforms including Print/Electronic/Folk Media and Interpersonal.
- Media to reach across the country including all rural areas and to create an atmosphere so as to motivate and spur potential literacy volunteers and learners and also to adopt multiple strategies, keeping in view the local conditions, with active participation of community leaders, PRI functionaries, Mahila Mandals, Civil Society Organisation and educational institutions.
Sources – PIB