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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 24 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: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

1. Assess the importance of the accounts of the Chinese and Arab travellers in the reconstruction of the history of India. (250 words)

Reference:  Previous Year question: CSE2018 , Modern Indian History by Spectrum Publications

Why the question:

The question is from the static portions of GS paper I.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the importance of the accounts of the Chinese and Arab travellers in the reconstruction of the history of India.

Directive:

AssessWhen asked to assess, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with brief background of the question.

Body:

Reconstruction of Indian history of the ancient and medieval era is a daunting task owing to lack of chronological records, and subjectivity in the interpretation of archaeological and literary sources.

In this context, accounts of foreign travellers, who were eye witnesses to the events that occurred at that time, become an important source to corroborate other sources of history.

Discuss the contributions of Chinese and Arab accounts.

Conclusion:

Conclude that though there are issues associated with the reliability of the accounts provided by these travellers owing to their personal biases, still they are key sources for finding out the missing links in the reconstruction of Indian history.

Introduction

The history of India in various epochs can be reconstructed as a result of detailed account left by foreign travellers, mainly the Chinese in ancient India and Arab travellers during medieval period. From Mauryan empire to Vijayanagar empire, foreign travellers have added to the reconstruction of history.

Body

Accounts of travellers

  • Foreign travellers in the past played a more profound role than tourists of the present day.
  • They were agents of civilizational contact and exchange, bringing with them new ideas, skills and technologies and returning with new knowledge.
  • They left elaborate records of their travels often mentioning facts that native writers simply took for granted and hence ignored.
  • Chinese travellers visited India during the Gupta and Post-Gupta period when Buddhism was prominent while notable Arab travellers can be seen during the medieval period with the advent of Islamic rulers.

Significance of account of Chinese and Arab travellers

  • Fahien: The famous Chinese pilgrim, Fahien visited India during the reign of Chandragupta II. Fahien provides valuable information on the religious, social and economic condition of the Gupta empire.
    • According to him, Buddhism was in a flourishing condition in the north-western India but in the Gangetic valley it was in a state of neglect. He refers to the Gangetic valley as the ‘land of Brahmanism’.
    • According to him the economic condition of the empire was prosperous.
    • His observations on social conditions are found to be exaggerated. Yet, his accounts are useful to know the general condition of the country.
  • Hiuen Tsang: Hiuen Tsang was the Chinese traveler who visited India in the seventh century A.D. He gave insight into social and economic life during the time of Harsha.
    • Hiuen Tsang portray the social life in the times of Harsha. The fourfold division of the society – Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vysya and Sudra – was prevalent.
    • Hiuen Tsang describes the glory of the monastery with many storeys built by Harsha at Nalanda.
  • Al Baruni: Al Baruni was the first islamic chronicler in India and visited India along with Mahmud Ghazni. He studied Indian way of life by learning Sanskrit. He was able to understand vedas and other sacred texts. He explains the religious condition during his visit especially in city of Varanasi. His accounts are mentioned in the book ‘Kitab-e-Hind’.
  • Ibn Batuta: Ibn Batuta visited during the Tuglaq dynasty in Sultanate period. He explains the life during Mahmud Bin Tughlaq especially law and order in the kingdom. He even functioned as the chief Qazi during his stay in Delhi. He also travelled across India and was able to mention the life in the deep south especially the Pallavas. He mentions his experiences in the book ‘Rihala’.
  • Abdur Razak: He visited the Vijayanagara kingdom during reign of Devaraya 2 of Sangama dynasty. He describes the richness of the kingdom and also revenue system of the kingdom. His description about trade in Vijayanagara has been at the centre of appreciation. He also describes the architecture and glory of the city of Hampi.

 

Conclusion

Thus, the description of travellers plays an important role in identifying the political, economic and social conditions of ancient India. This also helps historians to chronicle Indian history in a better organized way.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

2. What is vaccine tourism? Why is it gaining popularity? Explain. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why the question:

The question is based on the theme of Vaccine tourism.  

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the concept of Vaccine tourism and explain why it is gaining popularity off late.

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:

A couple of days ago, reports emerged of a Dubai-based tour operator offering a 24-day package tour from Delhi to Moscow that has included two shots of the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Explain what vaccine tourism is – In India, the term “vaccine tourism” became popular late last year when reports emerged of several tour operators offering packages to the US with the additional benefit of a vaccine shot.

Meanwhile, South Africans are said to be flying to Zimbabwe, Canadians and South Americans are traveling to the US for jabs, while tour operators in Europe are offering trips to Russia for Sputnik V shots.

Discuss why it is gaining popularity.

Conclusion:

Conclude with prospects and present the case for India.

Introduction

In India, the term “vaccine tourism” became popular late last year when reports emerged of several tour operators offering packages to the US with the additional benefit of a vaccine shot. Meanwhile, South Africans are said to be flying to Zimbabwe, Canadians and South Americans are travelling to the US for jabs, while tour operators in Europe are offering trips to Russia for Sputnik V shots.

Body

The world is witnessing the effects of the second wave of Covid. While many people have lost their lives, the cases are increasing at an alarming rate. To put an end to this virus, Covid vaccine drives are taking place everywhere. Health experts and medical staff is encouraging everyone to take the jab sooner than later. While the challenge of Covid was hovering, rare fungal infections like Black Fungus and White Fungus have also become a cause of worry in India. At this time, another term ‘vaccine tourism’ is gaining momentum.

Concept of Vaccine tourism

  • Vaccine Tourism simply means travelling to another country for sightseeing with an included benefit of getting the jab.
  • There are very few countries that have been allowing Indians to enter, considering the rising Covid cases in the country.
  • Russia is one of few countries that allows entry to Indians with just a negative PCR report and no quarantine on arrival. This has resulted in the popularity of ‘vaccine tourism’ packages.

Reasons for its popularity

  • The idea of vaccine tourism is gaining momentum in India. Many Indians, who fled to Dubai just before international flight ban came into effect last month, are said to be availing the Chinese vaccine Sinopharm’s shots in the UAE.
  • In fact, vaccine tourism is an emerging trend in countries where vaccines are in short supply, or where certain groups are still restricted from being inoculated.
  • Still, there are only a few countries in the world (parts of the US, Russia, Slovakia, Zimbabwe etc) that don’t restrict their vaccination policy to local residents.
  • Currently, it is not illegal to travel to a foreign country to get vaccinated if air travel is allowed.
  • In January, Florida made it mandatory for those seeking a vaccine to produce a proof of local residency. On the other hand, the New York City recently announced a plan to use “vaccine tourism” to increase footfalls in the city, offering one shot jabs to all outsiders who are from the US.

 

Conclusion

The Government of India ensures that no one has to go abroad to take the jab as they will be able to get everyone vaccinated by the end of this year. At a time when nation is amidst huge crisis of healthcare, it would not be prudent to leave the country.

 

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

3. Explain in what ways the patents impediments can be avoided ensuring social justice and improvising the battle against pandemic. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The article brings to us to some ideas related to patent pathways amidst the challenging days of covid-19.  

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss in detail in what ways the patents impediments can be avoided ensuring social justice and improvising the battle against pandemic.

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 by highlighting the concerns around patenting amidst the pandemic.

Body:

Explain that Universal vaccination is a necessity to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To achieve global herd immunity and prevent new strains of COVID-19 from emerging, vaccines need to be affordable and available in massive quantities throughout the globe.

The lack of technical know-how and the limited capacity of the current manufacturers to scale up their production capacities have led to massive vaccine shortage globally. The strict intellectual rights regime is also a hurdle for large scale manufacturing of the vaccines.

Discuss some of the ways to overcome the patents hurdle to help scale up the global vaccine production.(take cues from the article)

Conclusion:

Patents should not be considered as ironclad ownership rights. They are but a temporary contract that balances the public interest with the claims of the innovator and that too in normal times. Given the urgent global health crisis, all possible options should be used to overcome the IP hurdle to ensure large scale vaccine production.

Introduction

In order to achieve global herd immunity and prevent new strains of COVID-19 from emerging, possibly for years to come, vaccines need to be affordable and available in massive quantities throughout the globe. This can happen through patent owners voluntarily licensing their products to other companies, especially Indian producers who are experienced at mass-producing low-cost medications.

Body

Ways in which patent impediments are preventing social justice

  • An impediment to production and distribution of vaccines is the intellectual property (IP) rights that their developers enjoy.
  • The vaccines and other treatments that have been developed to combat Covid-19 —providing an unmistakeable silver lining to the crisis — are subject to patent protection under the TRIPS agreement.
  • The patent holders have the exclusive right to manufacture, sell, and use the vaccine or the drug for the entire term of patent protection of 20 years from the date of the filing of the patent.
  • Such protection could impede wider accessibility of vaccines and prolong the pandemic.
  • The entire vaccination exercise, and not the vaccines themselves, will end the pandemic, and the challenge is to ensure that it is universalised.
  • The task is profound due to the increasing concerns of vaccine nationalism, whereby richer countries are procuring vaccines for their population ahead of others which, in turn, could derail the goal of delivering two billion vaccine doses to poorer and middle-income countries.

Way forward

  • It is in this context that the joint proposal of India and South Africa at the WTO asking for a temporary waiver of the IP rights on Covid-19 vaccines and drugs needs to be understood.
  • The proposal argues that IP rights could hinder the supply of vaccines and drugs at affordable prices.
  • Therefore, India and South Africa, at a time when production of vaccines needs to be scaled up to meet demand, have proposed that the WTO’s TRIPS Council recommend to the General Council “a waiver from the implementation, application, and enforcement of” certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement (waiving IP rights like patents, copyright, and trademarks) for prevention, containment or treatment of Covid-19.
  • If the waiver is granted, WTO member countries will not be under an obligation, for a temporary period, to either grant or enforce patents and other IP-related rights to Covid-19 drugs, vaccines, and other treatments.
  • This will immunise the measures adopted by countries to vaccinate their populations from claims of illegality under WTO law.
  • Furthermore, the billions of dollars in government aid given to companies to help develop COVID-19 treatments should entail an obligation to enable the mass production of affordable vaccines.
  • After all, as legal scholars have long explained, patents are not ironclad ownership rights. They are a temporary contract that balances the public interest with the claims of the innovator.

Conclusion

This is not just a question of social justice and ensuring life-saving therapies are available to the world’s poor. Waiving IP rights and compulsory licensing is a necessary step to prevent deadlier, more contagious and possibly vaccine-resistant variants of COVID-19 from proliferating in an under-vaccinated world.

 

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

4. The barb in COVID cases and the following lockdowns has led to Job losses and created an unemployment Crisis. Explain with examples the initiatives taken by the Governments to recompense wage losses and support livelihood. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The second wave of COVID-19 pandemic and the localized lockdowns across several States, have resulted in restrictions on movement of people and goods and thus has led to restrained economic activity in India. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

Account for the job crisis the country is facing owing to pandemic, Explain with examples the initiatives taken by the Governments to recompense wage losses and support livelihood.

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:

Explain first how the restrained economic activity has resulted in large scale job losses in India.

Body:

According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the unemployment rate has shot up to 8% in April 2021 as several States started imposing lockdowns. The month of May has seen the rates rise further.

There have been a mammoth 73.5 lakh job losses in April alone. There has been a steady fall in the number of employees (both salaried and non-salaried) for the third straight month.

This is a clear indication that the jobs scenario is weakening.

Discuss the economic consequences of rising unemployment. Explain with examples the initiatives taken by the Governments to recompense wage losses and support livelihood.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, unemployment levels in India had hit a 45-year high. Hit by a relentless second wave of COVID-19 infections, India has seen localised lockdowns across several States. With activity restrained, job losses have climbed. This has dampened family incomes and consumer sentiment, setting the stage for lower-than-anticipated economic growth and belying the nation’s hopes of racing back to activity this year on a low base last year.

Body

Unemployment crisis in India

  • Data released by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, a Mumbai-based think tank, suggested that unemployment has again started rising in the country.
  • The unemployment rate touched 8.6 per cent for the week ending April 11, from just 6.7 per cent two weeks ago, according to fresh data released by CMIE.
  • With migrant labourers retreating to their native places, the impact seems to be more severe in urban areas where the unemployment rate is now reaching 10 per cent.
  • With 73.5 lakh job losses in April, the number of employees (both salaried and non-salaried) fell from 39.81 crore in March to 39.08 crore in April for the third straight month.
  • In April 2020, which was the first full month of the national lockdown last year, the unemployment rate had zoomed to 23.5%.
  • Women tend to face a double challenge, with lower labour participation and a higher unemployment rate for females compared with males (for ages above 15).
  • For the January-April 2021 period, urban female LPR was 7.2% compared with the urban male’s 64.8%, while urban female unemployment was 18.4% against the urban male unemployment rate of 6.6%, CMIE data showed.

Government initiatives to compensate wage loss and support livelihood

  • Non-farm employment: The finance minister acknowledged the significance of the MGNREGS in providing jobs to returning workers in rural areas.
  • Atmanirbhar Bharat has a special component from migrants. Recently, housing was to be made available them under Awaas
  • Food security will be taken care once One Nation One Ration Card is implemented throughout the country.
  • In line with Union Government’s Advisory, about Rs 5000 crore released from Building & Other Construction Workers Cess Fund to approx 2 crore construction workers; the sector which is estimated to employ maximum migrant workers.
  • Through interventions of dedicated 20 Control Rooms set up by Union Labour Ministry, stuck wages of about Rs 300 crore released to about 2 lakh workers.
  • Under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana with financial package of Rs. 1.7 lakh crore, nearly 80.00 crore people have been and are being provided Free of Cost 5 Kg Wheat/Rice and 1 Kg pulses.
  • Per day wages under MGNAREGA enhanced from Rs. 182 to Rs. 202. More days and jobs were added with an expanded budget.
  • SVANidhi Scheme launched to facilitate collateral free working capital loan up to Rs.10,000/- of one-year tenure, to approx. 50 lakh street vendors to resume their businesses

Conclusion

Governments at all levels must ensure that any policy intervention must be inclusive of all and especially the most vulnerable sections of the society. The immediate concern should be to address the issue of poverty, hunger and unemployment. A good social security scheme backed by welfare measures for migrants will truly help achieve Atmanirbharta and India would finally tread the path of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwaas.

 

Topic:GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

5. Chipko was more a denunciation of everything the forest department had stood for, and less about hugging trees. Analyse. (250 words)

Reference:  India Today

Why the question:

Veteran environmentalist and architect of the Chipko Movement Sundarlal Bahuguna, 94 has succumbed to COVID.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss in detail in what way Chipko was more a denunciation of everything the forest department had stood for, and less about hugging trees.

Directive:

AnalyzeWhen asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with what Chipko movement was.

Body:

The transformation of Chipko from a struggle to control local resource use to a national movement was influenced heavily by a growing global environmental concern. Chipko began independent of global environmental consciousness, but in interacting with the rest of the world, Chipko assumed a deep conservationist bearing. In the process, its utilitarian and developmental stance was steadily eroded.

Discuss the shortcomings of forest department policies and in what way Chipko stood fast and gave it a new meaning.

Conclusion:

Conclude with significance.

Introduction

Noted environmentalist Sunderlal Bahuguna, 94, has passed away in Rishikesh. The 94-year-old Chipko movement pioneer, was a Gandhian and a padma vibhushan awardee.

Body

Chipko movement

  • Sunderlal Bahuguna was a life-long environmentalist and was credited for founding the Chipko movement – the grassroots movement that swept through the Garhwal region in the 1970s with villagers hugging trees to stop them from being axed.
  • Later in 1990s, he spearheaded the Anti-Tehri Dam movement and even went to jail for it in 1995.
  • The Chipko movement was a Gandhian form of protest against deforestation by locals in the Himalayan region.
  • To stop deforestation, locals – primarily women – would make circles around trees and stop men from cutting them down.
  • With the help from a local NGO, the women of the area went into the forest and formed a circle around the trees, protecting them from the men who came to cut down the trees.
  • The women kept an all-night vigil, guarding their trees until all of them left. By then, the news of this movement had spread to nearby villages and more people joined in.
  • The success achieved by this protest led to similar protests in other parts of the country.
  • Sunderlal Bahuguna, who was leading the movement, appealed to then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to implement a ban on cutting down the trees. His appeal resulted in a 15-year ban on chopping green trees in 1980.

The movement went beyond hugging trees

  • The first Chipko action took place in April 1973 in Mandal village, now in Uttarakhand, and spread over the next five years to many Himalayan districts.
  • The movement sparked after the government decided to allot a plot of forest area in the Alaknanda valley to a sports goods company.
  • In 1974, the forest department marked trees for felling in the Peng Murenda forest, near Reni village in Joshimath block, badly affected by the massive Alaknanda flood of 1970.
  • More than 680 ha were auctioned for Rs 4.7 lakh to Jagmohan Bhalla, a contractor from Rishikesh.
  • But the women of Reni women drove out the contractor’s labourers on March 26, 1974.
  • This was a turning point for Chipko, as it marked the first time that the initiative by women, especially when their menfolk were not around.
  • The Reni incident also prompted the state government to set up a nine-member committee, chaired by Delhi botanist Virendra Kumar and whose members included government officials; local MLA, Govind Singh Negi of the Communist Party of India (CPI); Bhatt, and Govind Singh Rawat, the block pramukh of Joshimath.
  • The committee’s report, submitted after two years, led to a 10-year ban on commercial forestry in Reni and in nearly 1,200 sq km of the upper catchment of the Alaknanda. The ban was extended for 10 years in 1985.

 

Conclusion

The transformation of Chipko from a struggle to control local resource use to a national movement was influenced heavily by a growing global environmental concern. Chipko began independent of global environmental consciousness, but in interacting with the rest of the world, Chipko assumed a deep conservationist bearing. In the process, its utilitarian and developmental stance was steadily eroded.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

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

6. Discuss the need and benefits of imposing ecotax as part of environmental fiscal reforms in India. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The article brings to us discussion on ecotax and its importance.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss the need and benefits of imposing ecotax as part of environmental fiscal reforms in India.

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 you understand by ecotax.

Body:

The answer body must explain in what way environmental fiscal reforms will reduce pollution and generate resources for financing the health sector.

The Indian government announced a pandemic-related stimulus package in FY 2020-21 though there was large decline in tax revenue. The fiscal deficit for FY 2020-21 (revised estimates) is projected to be 9.5% of the GDP; for 2021-22, it is pegged at 6.8%. The focus is on maintaining fiscal discipline. In this peculiar scenario, sustained health financing in India remains a challenge.

Explain in detail the need and benefits of imposing ecotax as part of environmental fiscal reforms in India.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced countries all over the world to rethink climate change and the need for preservation of the environment. Fiscal reforms for managing the environment are important, and India has great potential for revenue generation in this aspect.

In this context, an Environmental tax is a novel idea to enforce or introduce taxes on substances, which pollute the environment, the ultimate aim being the substantial reduction of pollution.

Body

Ecotax: objective and purpose

The aim and purpose of environmental taxes is to curb or reduce the extent and amount of the use or consumption of harmful substances or activities, or depletion of a resource. Environmental tax reforms generally involve three complementary activities:

  • Eliminating existing subsidies and taxes that have a harmful impact on the environment.
  • Restructuring existing taxes in an environmentally supportive manner.
  • Initiating new environmental taxes.

Taxes can be designed either as revenue neutral or revenue augmenting. In case of revenue augmenting, the additional revenue can either be targeted towards the provision of environmental public goods or directed towards the overall revenue pool. In developing countries like India, the revenue can be used to a greater extent for the provision of environmental public goods and addressing environmental health issues.

Benefits of an ecotax in India

The implementation of an environmental tax in India will have three broad benefits: fiscal, environmental and poverty reduction.

  • Environmental tax reforms can mobilise revenues to finance basic public services when raising revenue through other sources proves to be difficult or burdensome.
  • Revenue from environmental tax reforms can also be used to reduce other distorting taxes such as fiscal dividend.
  • Environmental tax reforms help internalise the externalities, and the said revenue can finance research and the development of new technologies.
  • Environmental regulations may have significant costs on the private sector in the form of slow productivity growth and high cost of compliance, resulting in the possible increase in the prices of goods and services.
  • However, the European experience shows that most of the taxes also generate substantial revenue and there is no evidence on green taxes with sustainable development goals leading to a ‘no growth’ economy.
  • Most countries experiences suggest negligible impact on the GDP, though such revenues have not necessarily been used for environmental considerations.

Conclusion

Green taxes shall have a deterrent effect, sensitizing the citizens about pollution control and management. The eco tax rate may, thus, be fixed commensurate to the marginal social cost so evaluated. Hence, this is the right time for India to adopt environmental fiscal reforms.

 

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

7. What is meant by Genome sequencing? In the context of Covid 19 pandemic, analyse it’s significance in health sector. (250 words)

Reference:  The Hindu

Why the question:

The article explains how genome sequencing is crucial to track SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain the concept of genome sequencing and analyse its significance in health sector amidst the pandemic.

Directive:

AnalyzeWhen asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with the concept of genome sequencing first.

Body:

Explain how as variants of the COVID-19 virus emerge, genomic sequencing could help boost the public health response and provide the impetus to create value for future crises. Coronavirus has a tendency to mutate as they multiply which can have harmful, beneficial or no effects and so it is important to keep a track of the genome sequencing in order to check its virulence

Without sequencing data, public health authorities are blind to viral mutations that may reduce the efficacy of current response tools (for example, safety protocols, tests, vaccines, and clinical care) and are unable to take precise public health action. Sequencing is a powerful tool that enables public health authorities to improve precision, efficacy, and efficiency of public health response.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction

Genome Sequencing refers to the method through which the order of DNA nucleotides, or bases, in a genome, the order of As, Cs, Gs, and Ts that make up an organism’s DNA are figured. The human genome is made up of over 3 billion of these genetic letters

Body

About Genome sequencing

  • A Genome is the complete genetic material of an organism. It is like an instruction manual which contains information about the make-up of the organism.
  • While human genomes are made of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid), a virus genome can be made of either DNA or RNA (Ribonucleic acid).
  • DNA and RNA provide genetic instructions for growth and functioning of organisms.
  • Coronavirus is made of RNA. Genome sequencing is a technique that reads and interprets genetic information found within DNA or RNA.

Significance of SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing

  • The purpose of genome sequencing is to understand the role of certain mutations in increasing the virus’s infectivity.
  • Some mutations have also been linked to immune escape, or the virus’s ability to evade antibodies, and this has consequences for vaccines.
  • As we know well that virus undergoes mutation, as they replicate. Mutation are tiny errors in the genetic code that occur during the duplication process. While some are harmless, others can bring about such changes in the virus that can make it more transmissible or deadly.
  • So, it is important to keep a track of the genomic sequencing in order to check the virulence of the virus.
  • As the number of differences between viral strains increase, it’s likely that the resulting viruses will also behave differently in terms of how fast it spreads, the kind of symptoms and the intensity of the disease it causes.
  • The differences can be beneficial, harmful or inconsequential. Different variants can have different tendencies and may need new containment and treatment strategies.
  • The “foreign” variants identified were primarily the B.1.1.7 (first identified in the United Kingdom) and the B.1.351 (first found in South Africa) and a small number of P2 variants (from Brazil).
  • However, some labs flagged the growing presence of variants identified in India that were clubbed into a family of inter-related variants called B.1.617, also known as the ‘double mutant’ variant, primarily due to two mutations — E484Q and L452R — on the spike protein.
  • Only genome sequencing can identify various mutations which further will help in vaccine development and testing.
  • Genome sequencing help scientists find the exact location in the virus where a mutation has taken place. If the mutation happens in significant proteins of the virus like the spike proteins which helps it to infect the human cell, then the virus is likely to spread at a faster speed.

Conclusion

WHO asserted that more the virus spreads, higher are chances of mutations and new strains to come up, so it is important to vaccinate a critical mass of people to break the chain of transmission at soon as possible and till then it is essential to follow preventive measures like social distancing, hand hygiene, wearing masks and taking the vaccine to avoid infections.


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