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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 4 May 2021


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


General Studies – 1


 

Topic: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

1. Child marriages are a clear violation of human rights and the issue needs to seek convergence within all relevant laws, policies and programmes for children. Discuss. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why the question:

Odisha plans to stop child marriage during COVID-19 crisis. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the importance of convergence of solutions to address child marriages with all relevant laws, policies and programmes for children.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with some key data on child marriages in India and its prevalence as of today.

Body:

Child marriage in India has been practiced for centuries, with children married off before their physical and mental maturity. The problem of child marriage in India remains rooted in a complex matrix of religious traditions, social practices, economic factors and deeply rooted prejudices. With the pandemic induced lockdown, the cases of child marriages are on rise in India.

Discuss the causative factors.

Explain why we should focus on convergence with all relevant laws, policies and programmes for children. Give examples and explain its importance.

Conclusion:

Conclude that Child marriage is a clear violation of human rights and the issue needs to find convergence within all relevant laws, policies and programmes for children. All children have a right to care and protection; to develop and grow to his/her full potential, regardless of their social and economic situation. Child marriage is a blatant violation of all these rights and it is imperative for all stakeholders to curb these occurrences as a matter of priority.

Introduction

Recent analysis by UNICEF points out that one in three of the world’s child brides live in India. It has also warned India against the increase in child marriages owing to the adversaries of COVID-19.  To achieve the commitment of ending child marriages by 2030, it becomes important to integrate the COVID -19 responses with child marriage elimination efforts.

Body

The factors that encourage its subsistence are usually a combination of poverty, the lack of education, continued perpetration of patriarchal relations that encourage and facilitate gender inequalities, and cultural perspectives that encourage the phenomenon to thrive.

Continued prevalence of child marriage in India

  • Lack of education: A big determinant of the age of marriage is education. Around 45% of women with no education and 40% with primary education married before the age of 18, according to NFHS-4.
  • Seen as a Burden: Economically, child marriages work as mechanisms that are quick income earners. A girl child is seen as a leeway to a large dowry, to be given to her family upon her marriage.
  • Poverty: In terms of economic status, women from poor households tend to marry earlier. While more than 30% of women from the lowest two wealth quintiles were married by the age of 18, the corresponding figure in the richest quintile was 8%.
  • Social background: Child marriages are more prevalent in rural areas and among Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Trafficking: Poor families are tempted to sell their girls not just into marriage, but into prostitution, as the transaction enables large sums of money to benefit the girl’s family and harms the girl. There is apathy towards their girls and the money by selling their girls is used for the benefit of their sons

Convergence of laws, policies and programs

  • Religious heads and temple authorities should put up information board with the message that “the temple authorities do not support child marriage” to discourage people against this social aberration.
  • In Odisha, the Department of Women and Child Development and Mission Shakti has sought intervention of Panchayati Raj and Law departments in framing guidelines and issuing appropriate instructions prohibiting religious institutions like temples and marriage mandaps from solemnisation of such weddings.
  • Despite modern times and a massive awareness programme, child marriages continue to take place in Odisha. ActionAid, an international voluntary organisation, and UNICEF have come forward to support the initiative of these brave children.
  • Workshops, seminars and legal awareness camps needs to be organized to bring attitudinal changes to prevent child marriage.
  • SABLA, a Scheme for empowering adolescent girls by improving their nutritional and health status, upgrading various skills and building awareness on various issues.
  • The Government has used cash incentives (such as the Dhan Laxmi scheme and the Apni beti apna dhan programme), and awareness-raising to induce behaviour change.

Conclusion

In this competitive world all a child need is education, security and opportunities to showcase his/her talents and not marriage which breaks their wings. It is important to give them a safe world to live where they can run behind their dreams and build a healthier and equal future.

 

Topic: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

2. Bodily autonomy is the foundation upon which all other human rights are put together and now it’s time to recognize and realize this autonomy for all. Elaborate in the Indian context. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The State of World Population Report 2021 titled ‘My Body is My Own’ was released by the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA). The report focuses on bodily autonomy. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain what bodily autonomy is and discuss the need to recognise its importance for all in India.

Directive:

Elaborate – Give a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with what you understand by Bodily autonomy.

Body:

Bodily autonomy means that individuals have the power and agency to make choices over their bodies and futures, without violence or coercion.

Then discuss how we measure bodily autonomy. Discuss the findings of the report in relevance to the context of the question.

Suggest solutions to address – Through the new international Action Coalition on Bodily Autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, UNFPA is championing access to contraception and comprehensive sexuality education and promoting measures that will empower women and adolescents to make autonomous decisions about their own bodies.

Conclusion:

Conclude that r ealizing bodily autonomy is essential to achieving UNFPA’s goals of ending the global unmet need for contraception, preventable maternal deaths, gender-based violence and harmful practices by 2030.

Introduction

Nearly half the women from 57 developing countries do not have the right to make decisions regarding their bodies, including using contraception, seeking healthcare or even on their sexuality, according to the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) flagship State of World Population Report 2021 titled ‘My Body is My Own’ launched on Thursday.

Body

Bodily autonomy: Background

  • This is the first time a United Nations report has focused on bodily autonomy, defined as the power and agency to make choices about your body without fear of violence or having someone else decide for you.
  • The report shows that in countries where data is available, only 55% of women are fully empowered to make choices over healthcare, contraception and the ability to say yes or no to sex.
  • It also highlights that only 75% of countries legally ensure full and equal access to contraception.

Bodily autonomy as a foundation of all human rights put together: Indian perspective

  • Some examples of violation of bodily autonomy include, child marriage, female genital mutilation, a lack of contraceptive choices leading to unplanned pregnancy, unwanted sex exchanged for a home and food or when people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities cannot walk down a street without fearing assault or humiliation.
    • Eg: Dawoodi Bohra community and FGM.
    • NCRB report on crime against women shows the crime rate registered per lakh women population is 62.4 in 2019 in comparison with 58.8 in 2018.
  • Under its ambit also fall people with disabilities stripped of their rights to self-determination, to be free from violence and to enjoy a safe and satisfying sexual life.
  • Women around the world are denied the fundamental right of bodily autonomy with the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbating this situation.
  • In India, according to NFHS-4 (2015-2016), only about 12% of currently married women (15-49 years of age) independently make decisions about their own healthcare, while 63% decide in consultation with their spouse.
  • For a quarter of women (23%), it is the spouse that mainly takes decisions about healthcare.
  • Only 8% of currently married women (15-49 years) take decisions on the use of contraception independently, while 83% decide jointly with their spouse.
  • Information provided to women about use of contraception is also limited — only 47% women using a contraceptive were informed about the side effects of the method, and 54% women were provided information about other contraceptives.

 Conclusion

Realising bodily autonomy is essential to achieving the UNFPA’s goals of ending the global unmet need for contraception, preventable maternal deaths, gender-based violence and harmful practices by 2030. Appropriate awareness must be brought about in this regard.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

3. Despite having robust historical link between India and Britain, both countries find it hard to move on from the entrenched past. Critically examine. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why the question:

The article throws light upon the India-Britain relationship from past to present.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain how the two nations have a deep historical connection. But both have found it hard to move on from entrenched prejudices of the past.

Directive:

Critically examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with historical background of the two nations.

Body:

Explain that the bitter legacies of the Partition and Britain’s perceived tilt to Pakistan have long complicated the engagement between Delhi and London. To make matters worse, the large South Asian diaspora in the UK transmits the internal and intra-regional conflicts in the subcontinent into Britain’s domestic politics.

While there is no way of fully separating South Asian and British domestic politics, Delhi’s problems have been accentuated by the British Labour Party’s growing political negativity towards India. For generations, Indian elites grew up thinking Labour was more empathetic towards India, while resenting the Conservative condescension.

Conclusion:

Suggest way forward.

Introduction

UK-India relationship is rooted in India’s colonial history with the British and the relationship shared by both countries even after India’s independence. The bilateral relationship was upgraded to a strategic partnership in 2004. Brexit is said to have many implications on the future of India-UK relations.

Body

Key areas of cooperation

  • Trade between India and UK touched $15.5 billion with a $2 billion trade surplus in favour of India. UK is the 4th largest inward investor in India accounting for around 7% of all foreign direct investment into India. India is the second largest investor in the UK.
  • There are 842 Indian companies in the UK, employing more than 110,000 people.
  • Defence Relations: Ajeya Warrior (army-to-army biennial exercise), the Konakan (joint navy-to-navy annual exercise) and the Indradhanush (joint air-to-air exercise) happens between India and UK.
  • A bilateral Defence Consultative Group (DCG) meeting has taken place annually between the top officials of the Defence Ministry since 1995.
  • By 2021, the UK-India Newton-Bhabha programme will provided with more than £400m on joint research and innovation.
  • The year 2017 was declared as UK India year of Culture. The 2011 census records approximately 1.5 million people of Indian origin in the UK equating to almost 1.8 percent of the population and contributing 6% of the country’s GDP.

Issues in the bilateral relations

  • The UK does not have a government-to-government framework for arms sales to India, relying instead on commercial-led transactions.
  • UK is an active participant in Belt and Road Initiative of China for which India raised sovereignty issues.
  • Colonial hangover in public is affecting the policy makers of India to take decisions for close relations with UK.
  • The bitter legacies of the Partition and Britain’s perceived tilt to Pakistan have long complicated the engagement between Delhi and London. To
  • make matters worse, the large South Asian diaspora in the UK transmits the internal and intra-regional conflicts in the subcontinent into Britain’s domestic politics.
  • Brexit raises major issues for Indian business: Political uncertainty and oscillating business policy along with fluctuating market share and prospect. Restructuring to set up EU subsidiaries of Indian companies.

Way Forward

  • India and the UK must tap into the enormous potential for bilateral strategic cooperation in the health sector and contributions to the global war on the virus.
  • Delhi must seize the opportunities to work with its international partners in overcoming India’s failings that have been so mercilessly exposed in the last few weeks. Britain and the G-7 are well-positioned to help transform India’s internal capabilities as well as benefit from them in the management of future global pandemics.
  • While remaining a security actor in Europe, Britain is tilting to the Indo-Pacific, where India is a natural ally.
  • Delhi, which is looking at a neighbourhood that has been transformed by the rise of China, needs as wide a coalition as possible to restore a semblance of regional balance.
  • Britain could also contribute to the strengthening of India’s domestic defence industrial base.
  • The two sides could also expand Delhi’s regional reach through sharing of logistical facilities.
  • Delhi and London are said to be exploring an agreement on “migration and mobility” to facilitate the legal movement of Indians into Britain.
  • Both sides are committed to finding common ground on climate change.

 

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

4. Discuss the concept of “One health Approach” and analyse it’s significance in handling zoonotic diseases. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The article brings to us the concept of “One health Approach”.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the concept of “One health Approach” and analyse its significance in handling zoonotic diseases.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with what is “One health Approach”.

Body:

One Health is a collaborative, multispectral, and trans disciplinary approach — working at the local, regional, national, and global levels — with the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment.

Studies indicate that more than two-thirds of existing and emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, or can be transferred between animals and humans, and vice versa, when the pathogen in question originates in any life form but circumvents the species barrier.

Analyse its significance in handling zoonotic diseases.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

The term ‘One Health’ was first used in 2003– 2004, in association with the emergence of severe acute respiratory disease (SARS) in early 2003 and subsequently by the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1, and by the series of strategic goals known as the ‘Manhattan Principles’.

Body

One Health Approach

  • It is a collaborative, multisectoral, and transdisciplinary approach — working at the local, regional, national, and global levels — with the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment.
  • Successful public health interventions require the cooperation of Professionals in human health (doctors, nurses, public health practitioners, epidemiologists), animal health (veterinarians, paraprofessionals, agricultural workers), environment (ecologists, wildlife experts) along with other relevant players including law enforcement agencies, policymakers, agriculture, communities, and even pet owners.
  • One Health issues include zoonotic diseases, antimicrobial resistance, food safety and food security, vector-borne diseases, environmental contamination, and other health threats shared by people, animals, and the environment.

Relevance of One Health Approach

In recent times, many factors have changed interactions between people, animals, plants, and our environment and have led to the spread of existing or known (endemic) and new or emerging zoonotic diseases:

  • Climate and land use change: The earth has experienced changes in climate and land use, such as deforestation and intensive farming practices.
  • Disruptions in environmental conditions and habitats can provide new opportunities for diseases to pass to animals.
  • Animals also share our susceptibility to some diseases and environmental hazards. Because of this, they can sometimes serve as early warning signs of potential human illness.
  • For example, birds often die of West Nile virus before people in the same area get sick with West Nile virus infection.
  • Geographic expansion of human habitats: Human populations are growing and expanding into new geographic areas. As a result, more people live in close contact with wild and domestic animals, both livestock and pets.
  • Role of animals: Animals play an important role in our lives, whether for food, fiber, livelihoods, travel, sport, education, or companionship.
    • Close contact with animals and their environments provides more opportunities for diseases to pass between animals and people.
    • As per the studies, 60% of known human infectious diseases have their source in animals (whether domestic or wild).
  • Increased global interactions: International travel and trade has led to the unprecedented flow of commodities, people and animals. This gives pathogens of all kinds of opportunities to spread and multiply around the world.

Way Forward

  • Scientists have observed that there are more than 1.7 million viruses circulating in wildlife, and many of them are likely to be zoonotic, which implies that unless there is timely detection, India risks facing many more pandemics in times to come.
  • To achieve targets under the ‘One Health’ vision, efforts are ongoing to address challenges pertaining to veterinary manpower shortages, the lack of information sharing between human and animal health institutions, and inadequate coordination on food safety at slaughter, distribution, and retail facilities.
  • These issues can be remedied by consolidating existing animal health and disease surveillance systems — e.g., the Information Network for Animal Productivity and Health, and the National Animal Disease Reporting System — developing best-practice guidelines for informal market and slaughterhouse operation (e.g., inspections, disease prevalence assessments), and creating mechanisms to operationalise ‘One Health’ at every stage down to the village level.
  • Now, as we battle yet another wave of a deadly zoonotic disease (COVID-19), awareness generation, and increased investments toward meeting ‘One Health’ targets is the need of the hour.

 

Topic: Development processes and the development industry —the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

5. Discuss the starring role of Council of Scientific and Industrial research (CSIR) in India’s fight against COVID-19 pandemic. (250 words)

Reference:  Hindustan Times

Why the question:

The question is about the key role played by CSIR amidst covid-19 pandemic.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the starring role of Council of Scientific and Industrial research (CSIR) in India’s fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with brief introduction of CSIR.

Body:

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is the largest research and development (R&D) organisation in India. CSIR has a pan-India presence and has a dynamic network of 38 national laboratories, 39 outreach centres, 3 Innovation Complexes and 5 units.

Discuss its objectives in detail. From bringing in self-reliance ranging from indelible ink to the fight against Covid-19, CSIR has played a vital role and shall do so in any future pandemic or calamity that India faces.

CSIR identified the unmet needs, assessed its strengths and capabilities for addressing the pandemic and adopted a multi-pronged strategy of working on diagnostics, surveillance, drugs, hospital assistive devices, personal protective equipment and supply chain and logistics.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance.

Introduction

From bringing in self-reliance ranging from indelible ink to the fight against Covid-19, CSIR has played a vital role and shall do so in any future pandemic or calamity that India faces.

Body

About Council of Scientific and Industrial research (CSIR)

  • The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), one of the first publicly-funded Science & Technology (S&T) research organisations in India has entered its 79th
  • CSIR has played a crucial role in shaping the developments of modern Indian society, and the Covid-19 pandemic is no exception.
  • As India is seeing an accelerated increase in cases, there is an urgent need for innovations and products in drugs, diagnostics, surveillance and devices.

Role of CSIR in India’s fight against the pandemic COVID-19

  • In March, CSIR identified the unmet needs, assessed its strengths and capabilities for addressing the pandemic and adopted a multi-pronged strategy of working on diagnostics, surveillance, drugs, hospital assistive devices, personal protective equipment and supply chain and logistics. This strategy is now beginning to yield exciting solutions.
  • A few days ago, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) formally approved the first indigenously-developed Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9-based paper diagnostic test. Such a test puts the achievements of Indian innovators on the world map, as it has a resemblance to the similar tests in the United States (US), and yet has its own unique features that make it simpler to use.
  • Similarly, the generic pharma industry might recollect the years when CSIR laboratories provided cheaper synthesis methods for drugs, as it has done during the current Covid-19 pandemic for remdesivir and favipiravir.
  • Another bit of history might be in the offing as the first-ever Phase-2 clinical trials on a phytopharmaceutical drug candidate has begun after DCGI approval.
  • Likewise, the immunotherapeutic drug, sepsivac has successfully completed Phase-2 trials on critically ill Covid-19 patients, and is now entering Phase-3 trials.
  • With its engineering strengths, CSIR has been able to make devices like ventilators in record time, which are positioned to receive regulatory approval soon.
  • CSIR-promoted technology in making rapidly deployable hospitals will also be implemented in the coming weeks.

 

Conclusion

It is interesting to note that among the many countries that became independent of colonial rule in the middle of the last century, India alone adopted a strong S&T policy — later even including it in its Constitution, a strategy that has yielded rich dividends. CSIR being one of the earliest S&T institutions in the country has played a major role in implementing S&T strategies for the development of the country.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic:  role of media

6. Responsible news media not just needs to provide credible information but also needs to enjoy the trust of the population. Comment. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The question is amidst rising responsibility of News media amidst tough situations the world is facing owing to covid-19 pandemic.

Key Demand of the question:

Comment upon the role of media in providing credible information and the need to enjoy the trust of the population at the same time.

Directive:

Comment– here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with brief context of the question.

Body:

Explain that If the idea of journalism is to function as an integral estate of democracy, and if its mandate is to empower citizens, then it not just needs to provide credible information but also needs to enjoy the trust of the population. Citizens should direct questions towards influential voices.

Give examples in support of your answer.

Take hints from the article and support your answer.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

The media is supposed to exist to maintain the bridge between the government and the people. The press is also called the fourth pillar of democracy. It is necessary to take into account that the media not only communicate but also offer their own perspective on every event that takes place.

Body

Need for responsible media and credible information dissemination

  • Media acts as a watchdog of public interest in a democracy. It plays an important role in a democracy and serves as an agency of the people to inform them of the events of national and international significance.
  • Its importance in influencing readers can be gauged by the role it played during the freedom struggle, politically educating millions of Indians who joined the leaders in their fight against the British imperialism.
  • It is like a mirror which reveals us the bare truth and harsh realities of life. A news media, be it in print form or TV/radio, its main job is to inform people about unbiased news without any censorship or tampering.
  • For the democratic system to operate to its full potential, the participation on a part of the public is imperative, that successively needs circulation of reliable info to the masses on numerous public problems. This is where the mass media comes as fourth pillar of democracy.

Responsibilities of a media in democracy

  • Journalism is a profession that serves. By virtue, thereof it enjoys the privilege to ‘question’ others.
  • The fundamental objective of journalism is to serve the people with news, views, comments and information on matters of public interest in a fair, accurate, unbiased: and decent manner and language.
  • The press is an indispensable pillar of democracy. It purveys public opinion and shapes it. Parliamentary democracy can flourish only under the watchful eyes of the media.    Media not only reports but acts as a bridge between the state and the public.
  • With the advent of private TV channels, the media seems to have taken over the reins of human life and society in every walk of life.
  • The media today does not remain satisfied as the Fourth Estate, it has assumed the foremost importance in society and governance. While playing the role of informer, the media also takes the shape of a motivator and a leader.

 Conclusion

Such is the influence of media that it can make or unmake any individual, institution or any thought. So, all pervasive and all-powerful is today its impact on the society. With so much power and strength, the media cannot lose sight of its privileges, duties and obligations. It must live up to the trust imposed by people in media.

 

Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

7. The gene-editing technology has opened up a vast window of opportunities in the recent years. Explain briefly what gene editing technology is with its potential applications in various fields. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The article explains how the huge potential of the gene-editing tool decided the chemistry Nobel.

Key Demand of the question:

Describe briefly what gene editing technology is with its potential applications in various fields.

Directive:

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with what you understand by Gene editing technology.

Body:

 CRISPR-CAS9 is a technology that allows scientists to essentially cut-and-paste DNA, raising hope of genetic fixes for disease. However, there are also concerns about its safety and ethics.

CRISPR is a dynamic, versatile tool that allows us to target nearly any genomic location and potentially repair broken genes. It can remove, add or alter specific DNA sequences in the genome of higher organisms.

Explain how Gene-editing works.

Discuss what are the possible advantages of Gene editing? Also suggest the pros and cons of it.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance.

Introduction

A recent approach to genome editing is known as CRISPR-Cas9, which is short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats and CRISPR- associated protein 9. It was adapted from a naturally occurring genome editing system in bacteria.

Body

Gene-editing Technique

It is a type of genetic engineering in which DNA is inserted, deleted or replaced in the genome of an organism using artificially engineered nucleases, or “molecular scissors”.

These nucleases create site-specific double- strand breaks (DSBs) at desired locations (e.g. where anomalous gene is present). Such breaks are then repaired through recombination or inserting new gene, resulting in targeted mutation.

 

Potential applications of gene-editing technology

  • Human genome editing can be used to treat many human diseases & genetic disorders like HIV/AIDS, haemophilia etc.
  • It could substantially bolster disease resistance in humans & increase life span.
  • It could form the basis of highly efficient & cost-effective next generation antibiotics (based on bacteriophage viruses).
  • Gene editing can be used to protect endangered species or bring to life extinct species. It can be used to grow healthier food (via fortification) and increasing harvest.
  • It has the potential to slow down the spread of diseases by eliminating its means of transmission. E.g. Gene editing can be used to introduce sterile mosquitoes into the environment.

Issues with gene-editing

  • Balance Risks & Benefits: Due to the possibility of off-target effects (edits in the wrong place creating properties different from those that were intended) and Mosaicism (when some cells carry the edit but others do not, leading to presence of two or more populations of cells), safety is of primary concern.
  • Application of the technique to human germline: Until now, all therapeutic interventions in humans using genome editing have been performed in somatic cells (i.e. only patient gets affected, no chance of inheriting the altered genes by patient’s offspring). Safety concerns have been raised regarding genome editing in human germline, where unpredictable changes can be transmitted to following generations.
  • Ecological impacts: A ‘gene drive’ can propagate a set of genes with negative traits throughout a population which may lead to disappearance of whole targeted population with severe ecological consequences.
  • Difficulty in regulation: The precise genetic modifications obtained through CRISPR Cas9 technique makes it more difficult to identify a genetically modified organism once outside the lab and also to regulate such organisms in the market.
  • At present there is no regulating body to keep a check on the practices and applications of the technology. It may therefore lead to reduced transparency, low quality and may also increase the unnecessary delay in the treatment of patients.
  • Uncontrolled clinical trials: There are at present no standard norms for standardisation of norms for clinical trials for checking the efficacy of the treatment.
  • Concerns over ‘Designer Babies’: Engineering human embryos raises the prospect of designer babies, where embryos are altered for social rather than medical reasons e.g. to increase height or intelligence.

Conclusion

Bioethicists & researchers believe that human genome editing for reproductive purposes should not be attempted at this time until more safety and effectiveness research can be done, risks & benefits weighed, and a social consensus reached. All clinical trials proceeding in human germline editing should be permitted only when there are no reasonable alternative forms of disease prevention.


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