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28 March, 2020

55 Min Read

Paper Topics Subject
GS-I Tribal rituals for lockdown
GS-II WHO
GS-III Ministry of Science & Technology - Achievements
IndiGen Genome project
DNA Technology- Bill Analysis
Initiatives to Fight Coronavirus – Part-2 Economic Issues
GS-I :
Tribal rituals for lockdown

Tribal rituals for lockdown

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I – Art and Culture

Who?

The term 'Scheduled Tribes' first appeared in the Constitution of India. Article 366 (25) defined scheduled tribes as "such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this constitution". Article 342, which is reproduced below, prescribes procedure to be followed in the matter of specification of scheduled tribes.

The essential characteristics of these communities are:

  • Primitive Traits
  • Geographical isolation
  • Distinct culture
  • Shy of contact with community at large
  • Economically backward

Tribal communities live, in various ecological and geo-climatic conditions ranging from plains and forests to hills and inaccessible areas. Tribal groups are at different stages of social, economic and educational development. While some tribal communities have adopted a mainstream way of life, at the other end of the spectrum, there are certain Scheduled Tribes, 75 in number known as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) 2019 PT, who are characterised by

  • pre-agriculture level of technology
  • stagnant or declining population
  • extremely low literacy
  • subsistence level of economy

In News: Tribes in Arunachal Pradesh have revived indigenous lockdown rituals to contain the spread of COVID-19.

  • The State of Arunachal Pradesh is geographically closest to China’s Hubei province where the COVID-19 outbreak began.

Rituals by Different Tribes

Galos Tribe

  • The Galos, which are one of the 26 major tribes of Arunachal Pradesh that dominate West Siang district practised the Arr-Rinam ritual.
    • The Galo community has been recognized as a Scheduled Tribe in the Amendment to the Constitution (ST), Order, 1950, Part-XVIII.
    • Mopin is the main festival in Galos which is celebrated for the prosperity of the villages. The Galos perform Popir dance.
  • Arr-Rinam is the Galo equivalent of lockdown imposed by consensus for 48 hours whenever an epidemic strikes.
  • The Arr-Rinam follows the Ali-Ternam (the word Ali means epidemic and Ternam means forestall) ritual to ward off an epidemic.
  • These rituals were last performed almost four decades ago when a water-borne disease had affected many members of the community.
  • However, these rituals have been performed periodically for livestock, primarily the semi-wild animal mithun, that are prone to contagious diseases.
  • This is for the first time in 30-40 years that the rituals were performed for the safety of humans.
  • The Bos or deputy priests performed the Ali-Ternam under the guidance of a Nyibo (shaman).
  • The ritual ended with the community leaders sealing five major entry points of the district.

Adi Tribe

  • The Adi community also performed a similar ritual called the motor or pator system in the Adi (tribe) dialect.
  • This is a customary self-restriction, where the locals lock down several villages by erecting barricades to prevent the entry of outsiders. No person is allowed to enter or leave the villages.
  • They believe that this ritual lets shamans with legendary powers to locate wild herbs to combat an epidemic.

Adi tribe

  • The Adi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh is believed to have come from southern China in the 16th century.
  • They are the Tibeto-Burman language speaking population..
  • They reside in the far north inhabiting East Siang and Lower Dibang Valley districts of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The Adis are experts at making cane and bamboo items.
  • Solung (harvesting festival where animal sacrifices and rituals are performed) and Aran ( a hunting festival where all the male members of the family go for hunting) are two major festivals of the Adi tribes.

Nyishi Tribe

  • In districts such as Papum Pare and East Kameng, the dominant Nyishi community observed Arrue involving self-quarantine.
  • Nyishi Tribes also called Bangni are the tribal people of eastern Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh (formerly North East Frontier Agency).
  • Nyishi is a Scheduled Tribe. It is the single largest tribe of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • They speak the Tibeto-Burman language of the Sino-Tibetan family.
  • The Nyishi support themselves with slash-and-burn agriculture and with hunting and fishing.
  • They live together in a longhouse without partitions but with a separate fireplace for each conjugal family.
  • Aside from a patrilineal household there is no formal social organization or village government.
  • Their religion involves belief in spirits associated with nature.

yesJai Hind Jai Bharat

Source: TH

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GS-II :
WHO

World Health Organization (WHO)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- IO

World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations’ specialized agency for Health was founded in 1948.

  • Its headquarters are situated in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • There are 194 Member States, 150 country offices, six regional offices.
  • It is an inter-governmental organization and works in collaboration with its member states usually through the Ministries of Health.
  • The WHO provides leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.

It began functioning on April 7, 1948 – a date now being celebrated every year as world health day.

Objectives

  • To act as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work.
  • To establish and maintain effective collaboration with the United Nations, specialized agencies, governmental health administrations, professional groups and such other organizations as may be deemed appropriate.
  • To provide assistance to the Governments, upon request, in strengthening health services.
  • To promote cooperation among scientific and professional groups which contribute to the advancement of health.

Governance

World Health Assembly

  • The Health Assembly is composed of delegates representing Members.
  • Each Member is represented by not more than three delegates, one of whom is designated by the Member as chief delegate.
  • These delegates are chosen from among persons most qualified by their technical competence in the field of health, preferably representing the national health administration of the Member.
  • The Health Assembly meets in regular annual session and sometimes in special sessions as well.

Functions

  • The Health Assembly determines the policies of the Organization.
  • It supervises the financial policies of the Organization and reviews and approves the budget.
  • It reports to the Economic and Social Council in accordance with any agreement between the Organization and the United Nations.

The Secretariat

  • The Secretariat comprises of the Director-General and such technical and administrative staff as the Organization may require.
  • The Director-General is appointed by the Health Assembly on the nomination of the Board on such terms as the Health Assembly may determine.

Membership and Associate Membership

  • Members of the United Nations may become Members of the Organization.
  • Territories or groups of territories which are not responsible for the conduct of their international relations may be admitted as Associate Members by the Health Assembly.

WHO’s Contribution to World

  • The country offices are WHO’s primary contact points with governments.
    • They provide technical support on health matters, share relevant global standards and guidelines, and relay government requests and requirements to other levels of WHO.
    • They also inform and follow up with the host government on reports of disease outbreaks outside the country.
    • They provide advice and guidance on public health to other UN agency offices in-country.
  • In addition to governments, WHO also coordinates with other UN agencies, donors, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector.
  • The benefits of WHO's international health work are reaped by all countries, including the most developed.
    • For example, all nations have benefited from their contributions to the WHO programs that led to the global eradication of smallpox and to promote better and cheaper ways of controlling tuberculosis.
  • The organization believes that immunization, which prevents the six major communicable diseases of childhood—diphtheria, measles, poliomyelitis, tetanus, tuberculosis, and whooping cough—should be available to all children who need it.
    • WHO is leading a worldwide campaign to provide effective immunization for all children in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
  • During the first decade (1948-58), the WHO focused major attention on specific infectious diseases afflicting millions of people in the developing countries.
    • These included malaria, yaws, tuberculosis, and venereal diseases.
    • There was also a high priority for maternal and child health services, for environmental sanitation (especially safe water), and for standardization of drugs and vaccines.
    • In these years, WHO developed close working relationships with other UN agencies.
  • The period (1958 to 68) was much influenced by the national liberation in Africa of several former colonies, which became voting members of the Organization.
    • In 1960, the departure from the newly independent Democratic Republic of the Congo of nearly all foreign doctors created a massive emergency.
      • Working with the international Red Cross, WHO recruited 200 physicians and other health workers, and established a new fellowship program to enable scores of Congolese “medical assistants” to become fully qualified doctors.
    • In this period, fellowships for health-personnel development became a major WHO strategy in almost all countries.
    • WHO stimulated and even collaborated with the world chemical industry in the 1960s to develop new insecticides for fighting the vectors of onchocerciasis (“river blindness”) and for treating schistosomiasis.
    • Demonstration that tuberculosis could be effectively treated, without expensive sanatorium care, was a great breakthrough of the late 1950s.
    • Even the mundane standardization of the nomenclature of diseases and causes of death was an important contribution of WHO to international health communications.
  • The third decade (1968–78) of WHO included the great victory of eradicating smallpox from the earth.
    • In 1967, smallpox was still endemic in thirty-one countries, afflicting between 10 and 15 million people.
    • The work was done by teams of public health workers in all the countries affected, with WHO serving as leader, co-ordinator, and inspiration.
    • Millions of dollars were saved worldwide by this achievement, which overcame various national rivalries and suspicions.
    • The momentum of this great campaign added strength to another drive, for expanding the immunization of the world’s children against six once-ravaging diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, poliomyelitis, and tuberculosis (with BCG vaccine).
    • After long hesitation for political reasons, in this period WHO finally entered the field of family planning by promoting worldwide research and development on human reproduction.
    • New efforts were also put into the control of malaria and leprosy.
    • WHO also promoted the training of auxiliary health personnel, such as China’s “barefoot doctors” and India’s traditional birth-attendants.
      • Such training was a sounder investment in most developing countries than preparing physicians for predominantly urban medical practice.
  • The fourth decade (1978–88) was ushered in by a great world conference of WHO and UNICEF in Alma Ata, a city of the Asiatic part of the Soviet Union.
    • In reaction against excessive attention to high-technology, the Alma Ata conference emphasized the great importance of primary health care, preventive and curative, as the best approach to national health policy.
      • This approach, stressing community participation, appropriate technology, and intersectoral collaboration, became the central pillar of world health policy.
    • Thirty years after its birth, 134 WHO member-states reaffirmed their commitment to equality, as embodied in the slogan “Health for All.”
    • The provisions of the safe drinking water and adequate excreta disposal for all were the objectives of the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (1981-90) proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1980 and supported by WHO.
    • In this period, every country was encouraged to develop a list of “essential drugs” for use in all public facilities, instead of the thousands of brand-name products sold in world markets.
    • The WHO’s condemnation of the promotion of artificial infant-formula products in developing countries also attracted widespread attention.
    • The worldwide control of infantile diarrhea with oral rehydration therapy was another great advance, based on very simple principles.
  • Networks: A 1995 outbreak of Ebola virus in the Congo, which raged for three months unbeknownst to WHO, revealed a startling lack of global public health surveillance and notification systems.
    • So in 1997, WHO (in collaboration with Canada) rolled out the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN), which took advantage of information on the Internet to function as an early warning system for potential epidemics.
    • The WHO supplemented this (GPHIN) in 2000 with the Global Outbreak Alert Response Network (GOARN) to analyze events once they were detected.
      • GOARN linked 120 networks and institutes with the data, laboratories, skills and experience to take action swiftly in a crisis.
  • According to the WHO, most of the estimated 500000 maternal deaths each year are preventable through family planning—to avoid illegal abortions—and hygienic education of traditional birth-attendants.
  • The WHO has also mounted increasing efforts against cancer, which now takes as many lives in the developing countries as in the affluent ones.
  • The fight against tobacco, the largest single cause of preventable death in both men and women, is part of WHO effort in every country.
  • Disseminating the simple rules of diet, exercise, nonsmoking, prudent use of alcohol, and hygienic working conditions are major objectives of health education in WHO everywhere.
  • The worldwide epidemic of AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) has presented another challenge to WHO in mounting global efforts to stem the spread of this lethal sexually transmitted virus disease.
    • The WHO is working for the introduction of self-testing so that more people living with HIV know their status and can receive treatment.

WHO and India

  • India became a party to the WHO on 12 January 1948.
  • Regional office for South East Asia is located in New Delhi.
  • Smallpox
    • In 1967 the total number of smallpox cases recorded in India accounted for nearly 65% of all cases in the world. Of this 26,225 cases died, giving a grim picture of the relentless fight that lay ahead.
    • In 1967, the WHO launched the Intensified Smallpox Eradication Programme.
    • With a coordinated effort by Indian government with the World Health Organization (WHO), smallpox was eradicated in 1977.
  • Polio
    • India began the battle against the disease in response to the WHO’s 1988 Global Polio Eradication Initiative with financial and technical help from World Bank.
    • Polio Campaign-2012: The Indian Government, in partnership with UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary International and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contributed to almost universal awareness of the need to vaccinate all children under five against polio.
    • As a result of these efforts, India was removed from the list of endemic countries in 2014.
  • It has also been instrumental in the country’s transition from hospital-based to community-based care and the resultant increase in health posts and centres focusing on primary care.
  • The WHO Country Cooperation Strategy – India (2012-2017) has been jointly developed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW) and the WHO Country Office for India (WCO).

World Health Concerns & WHO

  • Air pollution and Climate Change
    • Nine out of ten people breathe polluted air every day. In 2019, air pollution is considered by the WHO as the greatest environmental risk to health.
    • Microscopic pollutants in the air can penetrate respiratory and circulatory systems, damaging the lungs, heart and brain, killing 7 million people prematurely every year from diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart and lung disease.
    • The primary cause of air pollution (burning fossil fuels) is also a major contributor to climate change, which impacts people’s health in different ways.
      • Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.
  • Noncommunicable Diseases
    • Noncommunicable diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, are collectively responsible for over 70% of all deaths worldwide, or 41 million people.
    • The rise of these diseases has been driven by five major risk factors: tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets and air pollution.
    • These risk factors also exacerbate mental health issues. The suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-19 year-olds.
  • Global Influenza Pandemic
    • The WHO is constantly monitoring the circulation of influenza viruses to detect potential pandemic strains: 153 institutions in 114 countries are involved in global surveillance and response.
  • Fragile and Vulnerable Settings
    • More than 1.6 billion people (22% of the global population) live in places where protracted crises (through a combination of challenges such as drought, famine, conflict, and population displacement) and weak health services leave them without access to basic care.
  • Antimicrobial Resistance
    • It is the ability of bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi to resist modern medicines which threatens to send us back to a time when we were unable to easily treat infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, and salmonellosis.
    • The inability to prevent infections could seriously compromise surgery and procedures such as chemotherapy.
    • In 2017, around 600 000 cases of tuberculosis were resistant to rifampicin – the most effective first-line drugs – and 82% of these people had multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.
    • Drug resistance is driven by the overuse of antimicrobials in people, but also in animals, especially those used for food production, as well as in the environment.
    • WHO is working with these sectors to implement a global action plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance by increasing awareness and knowledge, reducing infection, and encouraging prudent use of antimicrobials.
  • Ebola and Other High-Threat Pathogens
    • In 2018, the Democratic Republic of the Congo saw two separate Ebola outbreaks, both of which spread to cities of more than 1 million people. One of the affected provinces is also in an active conflict zone.
    • WHO’s R&D Blueprint identifies diseases and pathogens that have the potential to cause a public health emergency but lack effective treatments and vaccines.
      • This watchlist for priority research and development includes Ebola, several other haemorrhagic fevers, Zika, Nipah, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and disease X, which represents the need to prepare for an unknown pathogen that could cause a serious epidemic.
  • Weak Primary Health Care
    • Primary health care is usually the first point of contact people have with their health care system, and ideally should provide comprehensive, affordable, community-based care throughout life.
    • Yet many countries do not have adequate primary health care facilities. This neglect may be a lack of resources in low- or middle-income countries, but possibly also a focus in the past few decades on single disease programmes.
  • Vaccine Hesitancy
    • It is the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines – threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases.
    • Measles, for example, has seen a 30% increase in cases globally. The reasons for this rise are complex, and not all of these cases are due to vaccine hesitancy.
    • However, some countries that were close to eliminating the disease have seen a resurgence.
    • The WHO has identified complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence as key reasons underlying hesitancy.
  • Dengue
    • It is a mosquito-borne disease that causes flu-like symptoms and can be lethal and kill up to 20% of those with severe dengue, has been a growing threat for decades.
    • A high number of cases occur in the rainy seasons of countries such as Bangladesh and India.
      • Now, the dengue season in these countries is lengthening significantly (in 2018, Bangladesh saw the highest number of deaths in almost two decades),
      • and the disease is spreading to less tropical and more temperate countries such as Nepal, that have not traditionally seen the disease.
    • WHO’s Dengue control strategy aims to reduce deaths by 50% by 2020.
  • HIV
    • The progress made against HIV has been enormous in terms of getting people tested, providing them with antiretrovirals (22 million are on treatment), and providing access to preventive measures such as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP, which is when people at risk of HIV take antiretrovirals to prevent infection).
    • Today, around 37 million worldwide live with HIV.
    • Reaching people like sex workers, people in prison, men who have sex with men, or transgender people is hugely challenging. Often these groups are excluded from health services.
    • A group increasingly affected by HIV are young girls and women (aged 15–24), who are particularly at high risk and account for 1 in 4 HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa despite being only 10% of the population.
    • The WHO is working with countries to support the introduction of self-testing so that more people living with HIV know their status and can receive treatment (or preventive measures in the case of a negative test result).

WHOs' Organisational Challenges

  • The WHO has been dependant on donor funds – mainly from rich countries and foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – rather than through secured funding from countries.
    • As a result, currently 80% of WHO’s funding is tied to programs that donors choose. Work programs that are vital to WHO’s mandate remain under funded as they clash with the interests of big donors, especially of rich and developed countries.
    • Consequently WHO’s role as a leader in global health has been supplanted by other intergovernmental bodies such as the World Bank, and increasingly by big foundations.
    • The organisation’s efficacy has come under question, especially after its inadequate performance in containing West Africa’s ebola epidemic of 2014.
    • It was because of WHO's insufficient funding, structuring, staffing and bureaucracy.

Source: Web

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GS-III :
Ministry of Science & Technology - Achievements

Review 2019: Ministry of Science & Technology

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- S&T

Atal Jai Anusandhan Biotech Mission - Undertaking Nationally Relevant Technology Innovation (UNaTI)

  • It is expected to transform the Health, Agriculture and Energy sectors during the next 5 years. This mission includes the following missions-
    • GARBH-ini - A Mission to promote Maternal and Child Health and develop prediction tools for preterm birth.
    • IndCEPI - A Mission to develop affordable vaccines for endemic diseases,
    • Development of Biofortified and Protein-Rich wheat - contributing to POSHAN Abhiyan,
    • Mission on Antimicrobial Resistance for Affordable Diagnostics and Therapeutics
    • Clean Energy Mission - Innovative Technology interventions for Swachh Bharat.

UMMID Initiative

  • Government has launched UMMID (Unique Methods of Management and treatment of Inherited Disorders) initiative
  • NIDAN (National Inherited Diseases Administration) Kendras have also been launched.

Global Innovation and Technology Alliance (GITA)

  • IT is PPP between Department of Science & Technology (DST) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
  • It aims towards enhancing the country’s innovation ecosystem.

Redefined Units of Kilogram, Kelvin, Mole and Ampere

  • The recent open session of the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) at BIPM, has unanimously adopted the resolution to redefine four of the seven base units, the kilogram (SI unit of weight), Kelvin (SI unit of temperature), mole (SI unit of amount of substance), and ampere (SI unit of current).
  • The new SI is being implemented worldwide from 20th May 2019 i.e. the World Metrology Day by CSIR-NPL in India.

IndiGen Genome Project

  • The CSIR has conducted Whole Genome Sequencing of 1,008 Indians from different populations across the country.
  • The whole genome data will be important for building the knowhow, baseline data and indigenous capacity in the emerging area of Precision Medicine.

Important Legislations

DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill - 2019

  • The Bill has been passed in Lok Sabha.
  • The Bill has been formulated recognizing the need for regulation of the use and application of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) technology, for establishing identity of missing persons, victims, offenders, under trials and unknown deceased persons.

Guidelines for Evaluation of Nanopharmaceuticals in India

These guidelines are intended to provide transparent, consistent and predictable regulatory pathways for nanopharmaceuticals in India.

  • Nanopharmaceuticals are defined as a pharmaceutical preparation containing nanomaterials intended for internal use or external application on a human for the purpose of therapeutics, diagnostics and health benefits.
  • Nanomaterial is defined as material having a particle size in the range of 1 to 100 nm in at least one dimension.
  • Nano-formulations are not entirely new drugs but medicines that have better quality because of the technology-led delivery mechanisms that are used to make its administration in the body more effective.

Important Conventions

One Health India Conference, 2019

  • The conference aimed to launch India's new One Health Initiative - an inter-sectoral approach to tackling the most urgent health threats in India as well as in low and middle income countries across South and South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Global Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Development Hub

  • India joined the Global Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Research and Development (R&D) Hub.
  • This expands the global partnership working to address challenges and improve coordination and collaboration in global AMR R&D to 16 countries, the European Commission, two philanthropic foundations and four international organisations (as observers).

Global Bio-India Summit, 2019

  • Global Bio-India is one of the largest biotechnology stakeholders conglomerates being held in India for the first time.

Important Facts

Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC)

  • PM-STIAC is an overarching body that assesses specific science and technology domains in India, and formulates interventions and roadmaps.
  • It advises the Prime Minister on all matters of science, technology and innovation.

Department of Biotechnology

  • The Department of Biotechnology in the Ministry of Science and Technology celebrated its 33rd Foundation Day in New Delhi on 26th February with the theme as "Celebrating Biotechnology: Building Indian as an Innovation Nation".
  • Biotechnology Research Innovation and Technology Excellence (BRITE) awards were given on the occasion.

Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar (SSB) prizes for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018

The SSB Prize is awarded each year on the basis of conspicuously important and outstanding contributions to human knowledge and progress, made through work done primarily in India during the five years, preceding the year of the prize.

First Indigenous Fuel Cell System developed by CSIR

  • Developed under India’s flagship program named “New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI)”

Bharatiya Nideshak Dravya

  • HPCL and CSIR–NPL released 26 Petroleum BNDs (Bharatiya Nideshak Dravya or Indian Reference Material) coinciding with the occasion of World Metrology Day.
  • These will be of immense use for BS VI fuels and will save foreign exchange through import substitution for Certified Reference Materials (CRMs).
  • This will provide traceability for all vital parameters of Petroleum products testing and certification comprising 13 physical properties, 2 Physicochemical properties and 11 Chemical properties, including BND for sulfur content measurement at lower concentrations which will be of immense use for BS VI fuels.

yesJai Hind Jai Bharat

Source: TH/WEB

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GS-III :
IndiGen Genome project

IndiGen Genome project

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- S&T

Details of the IndiGen Genome project, conducted by CSIR, were recently announced.

The initiative was implemented by the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi and CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad.

 

Significance, outcomes and benefits of the project:

The outcomes of the IndiGen will have applications in a number of areas including predictive and preventive medicine with faster and efficient diagnosis of rare genetic diseases.

The data will be important for building the knowhow, baseline data and indigenous capacity in the emerging area of Precision Medicine.

 

About Genomics for Public Health in India (IndiGen) programme:

IndiGen programme aims to undertake whole genome sequencing of thousands of individuals representing diverse ethnic groups from India.

The objective is to enable genetic epidemiology and develop public health technologies applications using population genome data.

 Need for genome sequencing:

  1. Ever since the human genome was first sequenced in 2003, it opened a fresh perspective on the link between disease and the unique genetic make-up of each individual.
  2. Nearly 10,000 diseases — including cystic fibrosis, thalassemia — are known to be the result of a single gene malfunctioning.
  3. While genes may render some insensitive to certain drugs, genome sequencing has shown that cancer too can be understood from the viewpoint of genetics, rather than being seen as a disease of certain organs.

yesJai Hind Jai Bharat

Source: TH

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GS-III :
DNA Technology- Bill Analysis

DNA Technology- Bill Analysis

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- S&T

This bill allows the use of DNA Technology for establishing the identity of persons in matters of crime, parentage disputes, immigration and transplantation of human organs.

Provisions of the Bill

  • The Bill regulates DNA testing for identification of persons under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 and the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
  • The Bill allows for DNA testing in certain civil matters as well. This includes matters such as parentage disputes; issues related to ancestry, immigration, assisted reproductive technologies, transplantation of human organs, and for the establishment of individual identity.
  • Written consent is required for DNA samples to be collected, processed and included in the database except for those who have committed crimes with punishment of seven years.
  • DNA Regulatory Board: This Bill envisages the establishment of DNA Regulatory Board that will set standards for the proper storage of DNA samples collected. It will be chaired by Secretary of Government of India, Department of Biotechnology.
  • Any laboratory that conducts DNA testing and analysis to establish the identity of an individual (in respect of matters listed in the Schedule) is required to obtain accreditation from the DNA Regulatory Board.
  • DNA Databanks will be created at national and regional levels. DNA laboratories will have to share DNA data prepared by them with DNA Data Banks.
  • In criminal cases, the laboratory is required to return the biological sample to the investigating officer after depositing the DNA profile with the DNA Data Banks. In all other cases, the laboratory will destroy the sample and inform the concerned person.
  • Punishment: The penalty for various offences such as unauthorized disclosure of information from the Data Bank or obtaining information from the Data Bank without authorization is imprisonment up to three years and fine of up to One Lakh Rupees.

DNA Technology     

  • The Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) is a set of instructions found in a cell. These instructions are necessary for the growth and development of an organism.
  • The DNA of a person is unique, and variation in the sequence of DNA can be used to match individuals and identify them.
  • A DNA test is an ultimate test for deciding the cases on parentage, inheritance, unidentified bodies and thus also useful in identifying victims of natural and man-made disasters.
  • Use of DNA Technology in criminal investigations was first started in the U.K. in 1984.
  • In India, the first conviction with the help of DNA Technology was made in Rajiv Gandhi’s murder case.

Concerns

  • Inadequate Resources: Currently, laboratories are able to assess only one or two samples at a time. This results in delayed investigations.
  • Shortage of such investigators who either are trained forensic scientists or know the art of collecting and preserving the requisite DNA sample.
  • The possibility of misuse of DNA samples: Through DNA, not only the identity of a person can be known but also other characteristics like if she/he is suffering from any disease etc. There is a possibility that people having access to DNA samples, blackmail the person who has submitted his/her DNA sample.
  • Single Use: Bill envisages the use of a DNA sample for a particular specified purpose only. For any other purpose, the DNA sample will have to be processed again.

Way Forward

  • Laboratories need to be modernized so that around 40 to 50 samples can be processed at the same time. This will help in the quick resolution of various cases and thus will strengthen India’s Justice Delivery System.
  • Use of DNA cannot be restricted to a particular purpose. A series of situations may arise that can demand usage of a DNA sample again and again.
  • Effective implementation of the provisions mentioned in the bill is required to ensure the proper storage and usage of DNA bills. Privacy of individuals anyhow cannot be compromised.

Source: TH/PIB

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GS-III : Economic Issues Government policies and interventions
Initiatives to Fight Coronavirus – Part-2

Initiatives to Fight Coronavirus – Part-2

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Health

I. India is all set to join the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Solidarity Trial which aims at rapid global search for drugs to treat COVID-19.

Key Points

  • India has stayed away from the multi-country trial till now due to its small sample size.
  • It will express its interest to participate in the trial for the Indian population when it feels that the time is right.
  • Vaccine development wasn’t a priority for Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) currently because there are around 30 vaccine groups already in operation worldwide.
  • Keeping in view the rising number of cases and challenges faced by India, the government has decided to participate in the solidarity trial.

Solidarity Trial (PT SHOT)

  • It will test different drugs or combinations like:
    • Remdesivir.
    • Combination of lopinavir and ritonavir (anti-HIV drugs).
    • Interferon beta with the combination of lopinavir and ritonavir.
    • Chloroquine.
  • It will compare their effectiveness to the standard of care, the regular support used by the hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.

Challenges

  • Shortage of Medical Devices and Equipment: The Medical Technology Association of India (MTAI), which represents research-based medical technology companies, has highlighted the shortage of medical devices and equipment.
    • The Centre has exempted manufacturing, warehousing and distribution of the medical devices and equipment from the lockdown but these are being clamped down by the state governments and local level administrators.
    • Transport trucks carrying these vital preparatory materials are stuck at city and state borders.
  • Delays in Import: India is importing probes and rapid testing kits from China, Germany and WHO. However, some delays have been reported but it is made sure that the delays do not affect the testings.
  • Time Constraints: ICMR is currently looking at repurposed drug molecules to find treatment for COVID-19 due to time constraints.

Solutions

  • India needs to prioritise what it needs right now to deal with the situation.
  • Indian scientists have formed a group called Indian Scientists’ Response to COVID-19 (ISRC) to tackle the pandemic.
  • While governmental bodies make their decisions and professional scientific academies take principled stands, there is a need for individuals in the scientific community to also help individually and collectively.

Indian Scientists’ Response to COVID-19

  • Indian Scientists’ Response to COVID-19 (ISRC) is a voluntary group of scientists to address the concerns raised by the COVID-19 outbreak and to discuss the rapidly evolving situation with its dire need for science communication.
  • The group consists of nearly 200 scientists from institutions such as the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), the Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs), etc.
  • It aims to study existing and available data to bring out analysis that will support the Central, State and local governments in carrying out their tasks.
  • There are several working groups within it:
    • One of them works on hoax busting to address disinformation spreading with respect to the coronavirus.
    • One works on science popularisation to develop material that explains concepts such as home quarantine.
    • Other groups work on resources in Indian languages, mathematical models and apps etc.
      • It is suggested that an app should be developed that can map spaces being used as shelters and share that data with the State governments.
  • platform has also been developed to connect people in need with those who can provide help.
    • It works through two channels, phone and WhatsApp.
    • It can connect patients or people with symptoms to doctors.
    • It may also connect elderly people with volunteers from NGOs to assist in chores such as grocery shopping.

 

NOTE: World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations’ specialized agency for Health was founded in 1948.

  • Its headquarters are situated in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • There are 194 Member States, 150 country offices, six regional offices.
  • It is an inter-governmental organization and works in collaboration with its member states usually through the Ministries of Health.
  • The WHO provides leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.

It began functioning on April 7, 1948 – a date now being celebrated every year as World Health Day.

Objectives

  • To act as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work.
  • To establish and maintain effective collaboration with the United Nations, specialized agencies, governmental health administrations, professional groups and such other organizations as may be deemed appropriate.
  • To provide assistance to the Governments, upon request, in strengthening health services.
  • To promote cooperation among scientific and professional groups which contribute to the advancement of health.

 

II. Recently, India has decided to set up an electronic platform to help member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The decision has been conveyed during a virtual conference of health professionals of eight countries in the region.

Key Points

  • The virtual conferencing of the health workers of the SAARC Nation was part of the two proposals made by Indian Prime Minister during the recently held virtual meeting of SAARC.
    • The other proposal was to set up SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund.
  • The e-Platform will enable the SAARC nations to share and exchange information, knowledge, expertise and best practices for jointly combating the Coronavirus epidemic.
     
    • Objectives of the e-Platform
      • Training of emergency personnel
      • Disease surveillance
      • Joint research
    • Currently the platform is in the construction stage.
    • Meanwhile India suggested to set up a Whatsapp or email group to help facilitate exchange of information among the SAARC countries till the platform became fully operational
  • During the conference all the countries highlighted their specific vulnerabilities, capacities, the best practices, gaps in resources and logistics, private sector participation as well as levels of preparedness.
  • Community engagement and participation was identified as an important element in any anti-Covid19 strategy.
  • Fight Corona IDEAthon
    • Recently, a 2-day online IDEAthon has been organized to search for accessible and affordable technological solutions that can contain the rapid spread of infection, ease the mounting pressure and ensure a quick return to normalcy.
    • The initiative was jointly organised by MHRD Innovation Cell, AICTE, MeitY Startup Hub, InnovatioCuris and other institutions of global and national prominence.
    • The focus area of the IDEAthon was
      • designing reusable/washable masks
      • system to disinfect currency notes/coins
      • a non-invasive diagnostic kit
      • Storage Kits to collect test samples from homes

India in SAARC Region- Neighbour first policy

  • India launched the GSAT-9, also dubbed the South Asia Satellite, aiming to provide space-enabled services to other South Asian countries.
  • India has offered member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to join its advanced navigational satellite programme—GPS-Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN).
  • Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) has potential to be useful for the SAARC countries which are dependent on foreign systems.

 

III. The Indian Army has code-named its anti-COVID-19 campaign as Operation Namaste to help the government in its fight against the pandemic.

Key Points

  • Soldiers are advised to follow the lockdown, wherever they do not have any operational role, and stay fit. They are assured that their families will be well taken care of.
    • Leave extension of those on leave as well as curtailment of leave to bare minimum have been imposed.
    • Segregation facilities have been set up to observe troops already back from leave from various states.
  • So far six quarantine facilities at Manesar, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Chennai, Hindan and Mumbai have been established where 1,463 people evacuated from coronavirus-affected countries have been accommodated.
    • The forces are setting up more such facilities at Kolkata, Visakhapatnam, Kochi, Dundigal, Bengaluru, Kanpur, Jaisalmer, Jorhat and Gorakhpur which can be ready within 72 hours, if needed.
  • 28 Armed Forces hospitals have been earmarked as COVID hospitals
    • These hospitals will include armed forces patients as well as civilian patients transferred from state health authorities.
    • Five hospitals from the Army, Navy and the Air Force are conducting coronavirus tests using the RT-PCR methodology and more hospitals will be equipped soon with the resources.
    • 62 Cantonment Boards have been instructed to identify beds in hospitals and health centres and guesthouses for any eventuality.

Contributions by Other Forces

  • Recently, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) also came forward to help by developing ventilators and providing other medical equipment.
  • Indian Navy also contributed by delivering 60,000 face masks ordered by Indian Medical AssociationGoa which were stuck in Delhi due to the lockdown.
    • Ilyushin 38 SD (FROM RUSSIA) departed INS Hansa for Palam Airport, New Delhi and returned on the same day with the masks.

 

IV. In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Indian Railways has decided that the period from 22.03.2020 to 14.04.2020 shall be treated under “Force Majeure”.

Key Points

  • Force Majeure (FM) means extraordinary events or circumstances beyond human control such as an event described as an Act of God (like a natural calamity).
  • During this period no demurrage, wharfage, stacking, stabling, detention and ground usage charge shall be leviable.
  • Zonal Railways have been advised to coordinate with State Government authorities to ensure logistics support in order to keep up the essential goods transportation.

Force Majeure

  • Force majeure refers to a clause that is included in contracts to remove liability for natural and unavoidable catastrophes that interrupt the expected course of events and restrict participants from fulfilling obligations.
  • Force majeure clauses excuse companies (or other parties to a contract) from meeting certain obligations when events beyond their control interfere with their ability to hold up their end of the bargain.
  • If invoked, the clauses can relieve companies from commitments, temporarily or permanently, without being in breach of their agreement.

 

V. In view of the hardships faced by the parents and the students due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the National Testing Agency has postponed the ensuing NEET (UG) May 2020 examination scheduled to the last week of May 2020. The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) is the examination for admission to undergraduate medical degree programmes.

National Testing Agency

  • National Testing Agency (NTA) was established as a Society registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860.
  • It is an autonomous and self-sustained testing organization to conduct entrance examinations for admission/fellowship in higher educational institutions.
  • Objective: To conduct efficient, transparent and international standards tests in order to assess the competency of candidates for admission and recruitment purposes.

 

VI. The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has issued “Comprehensive Disability Inclusive Guidelines” to States and Union territories. This is for the protection and safety of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) in light of Pandemic COVID19.

Highlights from the Guidelines

  • Training: All persons responsible for handling emergency response services should be trained on
    • the rights of persons with disabilities.
    • the risks associated with additional problems for persons having specific impairments.
  • Ensuring Essentials to PwDs: All states and UTs should ensure services like caregiver support, supplies and medical aid at the doorstep of PwDs.
    • It is sought that caregivers should be allowed to reach PwDs by exempting them from restrictions during lockdown or providing passes in a simplified manner on priority.
  • Helpline Number: States should set-up 24x7 helplines for persons with disabilities.
  • Information: All video-graphic awareness material related to COVID 19 should be with subtitles and there should be sign language interpretation for persons with hearing impairment.
  • For Resolving Disability Specific Issues: The states should make the State Commissioner for PwDs the nodal officer to resolve disability specific issues during the crisis period.

Note: Section 8 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 guarantees equal protection and safety for persons with disabilities in human emergencies and natural disasters

    • The Government of India has declared the situation arising out of COVID 19 as a National Disaster.
  • In September 2019, National Disaster Management Authority, Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued National Disaster Management Guidelines on Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DiDRR).

 

VII. Privacy concerns over the government’s measures to tackle the spread of Coronavirus.

Details:

  • The governments have taken many steps to monitor the people who are advised quarantine to contain the spread of COVID-19.
    • Databases of passengers who returned from high risk “coronavirus affected countries” have been shared with relevant departments to monitor these high risk suspected cases. In Delhi, the list contains details of 722 passengers who arrived in Delhi and are mandated 14 days of quarantine.
    • The government has newly launched pilot or beta version of a mobile phone application called “Corona Kavach” which uses the data of confirmed COVID-19 patients to alert subscribers when they are in close proximity.
      • The app is designed to track the location of COVID-19 infected people and alert subscribers when they come near their location.
      • The app will require all the COVID-19 patients to download the app to track their whereabouts.

Government’s efforts to monitor people advised quarantine for COVID-19 has run into privacy issues.

yesJai Hind Jai Bharat

Source: TH/PIB

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