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[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 10 April 2023

 

InstaLinks :  help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions ina your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

  1. IT Rules amendments: Pros and Cons

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. PM Mudra Yojana completes 8 years
  2. Indian Space Policy 2023
  3. ISRO: Second Space Age
  4. Use of AI for Legislation
  5. 30 years of Project Elephant

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

  1. Hikikomori
  2. Human composting
  3. Electricity from Vegetable Waste

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Ramakrishna Math 
  2. C R Rao
  3. Changes in the domestic gas pricing formula
  4. Track and Trace system for export of pharmaceuticals consignments
  5. Quality control orders
  6. Genome India Project
  7. TEMPO

 

IT Rules amendments: Pros and Cons

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation

 

Source: TH

Context: The MeitY notified the  IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules 2023.

For provisions of the amendments: Click here

 About the amendments: It empowers the Union Government

  • To designate an official fact checker for ‘fake news’, and
  • To regulate the online real money games (to be certified as “permissible” by a Self-Regulatory Body), where users deposit money in expectation of winnings.
    • Permissible: The outcome doesn’t depend purely on chance.
    • Not declared permissible: Fall under the betting and gambling

 

Analysing the recent amendments:

ProsCons
●       These amendments remove social media firms’ immunity if they decide to continue publishing ‘fake news’ that has been identified as such.

●       Platforms are free to keep content even after it is flagged as ‘fake news’.

●       The fact-checking setup will be

○       Credible

○       Independent (following arm’s length principle)

○       Possess the necessary capacity – technical, journalistic – to verify the information.

●       Freedom of the press [Article 19 (1)(a)] comes with reasonable restrictions [Article 19 (2)]

 

Violates Shreya Singhal vs Union of India (2015) – A verdict with clear guidelines for blocking content → Govt sets itself as judge, jury and executioner

Similar to censorship → Chilling effect on the fundamental right to speech and expression → legally contentious

 

Lack of recourse/No right to appeal: No other means of redress for intermediaries before the courts

 

Amendments were notified without consulting stakeholders/their views were not taken into account

 

Conclusion: The dangers of fake news cannot be disputed. However, a system in which a government agency has the authority to judge the reliability of online content should not be used to takedown opinions critical to the government.

 

Insta Links:

The IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023

PM Mudra Yojana completes 8 years

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Inclusive growth

 

Source: PIB

 Context: The Prime Minister has lauded Mudra Yojana on the completion of 8 years. The yojana has played a vital role in funding the unfunded and ensuring a life of dignity as well as prosperity for countless Indians

 

Achievements of PM Mudra Yojana:

  • Loan sanctioned: About ₹23 lakh crore has been sanctioned in nearly 41 crore loan accounts
  • Inclusive growth: About 69% of accounts under the scheme belong to women entrepreneurs and 51% of accounts belong to entrepreneurs of SC/ST and OBC categories
  • Easy availability of credit to budding entrepreneurs: Approximately 21% of the total loans have been sanctioned to New Entrepreneurs.
  • Employment Generation: As per a survey conducted by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, PMMY helped in generating over 1 crore net additional employment from 2015 to 2018, out of which women accounted for 69 lakh (62%)
Feature of the schemeDescription
Full nameMudra – Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd
Launch Year2015
Ministry Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance
AimProviding loans up to Rs. 10 lakh to non-corporate, non-farm small/micro-enterprises
Three pillars of the scheme1.      Banking the Unbanked

2.      Securing the Unsecured

3.      Funding the Unfunded

Funding ProvisionMUDRA, a financial institution set up by the government, provides funding to the small business sector through institutions like Scheduled commercial banks, NBFCs, and MFIs.

 

 

MUDRA is a refinancing Institution. MUDRA does not lend directly to micro-entrepreneurs / individuals.

Loan Products1.      Shishu (up to Rs. 50,000)

2.      Kishore (above Rs. 50,000 and up to Rs. 5 lakh)

3.      Tarun (above Rs. 5 lakh and up to Rs. 10 lakh)

CollateralLoans under this scheme are collateral-free loans
Target BeneficiariesDisadvantaged sections of society such as women entrepreneurs, SC/ST/OBC borrowers, minority community borrowers, and new entrepreneurs
Products and ServicesLoans can be used for income-generating activities in the manufacturing, trading, services sector, and agriculture
ExpansionPMMY has been expanded over time to cover activities related to agriculture, such as fishing, dairy, and food processing, and loans for tractors and power tillers, and two-wheelers for commercial use were included in PMMY
Steps taken to improve the schemeudyamimitra portal (for online applications); End-to-end digital lending for automated sanctions under PMMY (by some banks); Nomination of Mudra Nodal Officers in PSBs; Interest Subvention of 2% on prompt repayment of Shishu loans

 

 

Challenges faced by the scheme:

  • High non-performing assets or bad loans
  • Limited funds that cannot keep up with the pace of demand
  • Regional disparities in the distribution of benefits
  • Lack of financial literacy among beneficiaries leading to defaults
  • Limited outreach to rural entrepreneurs
  • Collateral requirements for loans above a certain amount make it difficult for many small enterprises to access credit
  • Loan size limitations of up to Rs. 10 lakhs, which is inadequate for many small enterprises with higher capital requirements.

 

Conclusion:

Overall, the MUDRA scheme has been successful in providing credit to small entrepreneurs. However, it faces some significant challenges that need to be addressed to make it more effective and inclusive.

 

Insta Links

Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana

 

Mains Links

What are the objectives of the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY)? Should the success of PMMY be measured in terms of the quantum of loans disbursed? Comment. (15M)

 

Prelims Links

Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana is aimed at ( UPSC 2016)

(a) bringing small entrepreneurs into the formal financial system
(b) providing loans to poor farmers for cultivating particular crops
(c) providing pensions to old and destitute persons
(d) funding the voluntary organizations involved in the promotion of skill development and employment generation

Ans: A

Indian Space Policy 2023

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Science and Technology: Space

 

Source: FE

Context: The government has approved the Indian Space Policy (ISP) 2023, to boost private sector participation and increase investments in the space sector from private companies.

 

Need for Indian Space Policy 2023:

  • India currently has about 2% of the Global space economy (the USA has over 50% share)
  • Indian Space Industry was valued at $7 billion in 2019 and aspires to grow to $50 billion by 2024.
  • India needs to utilise its cost-effectiveness in the space sector
  • The size of the space economy in India is small and is mostly government funded.
  • Increase private sector participation: The United States, Europe, and Russia — all have space industries with big players like Boeing, SpaceX, AirBus, Virgin Galactic, etc.

 

Details of the ISP 2023:

DimensionDetails
Private sector participationThe policy seeks to institutionalize the private sector participation in the space sector, with ISRO focusing on research and development of advanced space technologies.

 

The private sector can take part in end-to-end space activities that include building satellites, rockets, launch vehicles, data collection, and dissemination.

Private sector infrastructureThe policy encourages the private sector to invest in creating new infrastructure for the sector and outlines the framework for the private sector to use ISRO facilities for a small charge.
Global Space EconomyIndia’s share in the global space economy (currently at less than 2%) will be increased to 10% in the future.

 

Roles and responsibilitiesThe policy delineates the roles and responsibilities:

 

ISRO: It will focus on developing new technologies, new systems, and research and development. It will not do any operational and production work for the space sector.

 

 

NSIL: It will carry out strategic activities related to the space sector and will work in a demand-driven mode.

 

 

INSPACe: It will be the interface between Indian Space Research Organisation and non-governmental entities.

Operational missionsThe operational part of ISRO’s missions will be moved to the NSIL

Conclusion

The policy will provide a strategic roadmap for the growth and development of India’s space program, to promote innovation, technological advancements, and international cooperation, and to ensure national security in the space domain.

 

About

 ISRO: The Indian Space Research Organisation (est. 1969; founder- Vikram Sarabhai; parent org: Space Commission; HQ: Bengaluru) is the national space agency of India, operating under the Department of Space.

 IN-SPACE: It acts as a single-point interface between ISRO, and everyone who wants to participate in space-related activities or use India’s space resources.

 NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) (announced in Budget 2019, PSU under the Department of Space) aims to use research and development carried out by ISRO over the years for commercial purposes through Indian industry partners.

 

Insta Links

 

Mains Link:

What is India’s plan to have its own space station and how will it benefit our space programme?  (UPSC 2019)

Discuss India’s achievements in the field of Space Science and Technology. How the application of this technology has helped India in its socioeconomic development? ( UPSC 2016)

 

Prelims Links

Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2016)

The Mangalyaan launched by ISRO

  1. is also called the Mars Orbiter Mission
  2. made India the second country to have a spacecraft orbit the Mars after USA
  3. made India the only country to be successful in making its spacecraft orbit Mars in its very first attempt

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Ans: C

ISRO: Second Space Age

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Awareness in the fields of Space

 

Source: TH

 Context: India’s modest entry into the First Space Age followed by its many gains should be used to help the country tap the vast potential of the Second Space Age.

 

Background:

First Space AgeSecond Space Age
Began in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik 1 and ended in 1991Began in the 1990s and continues to the present day
US and USSR governments dominated with 60-120 space launches annuallyMore actors involved, including countries and private companies
Mostly government-owned and controlled90% of global space launches since 2020 are by and for the private sector
India’s space journey started in the 1960s with the launch of the U.S.-supplied Nike-Apache sounding rocket and the establishment of ISRO in 1969, which prioritizes societal benefitsThe emergence of cable TV, d2h, smartphones, Broadband, OTT, and 5G led to increased demand for satellite transponders and ground-based services

 

Journey of ISRO:

The Indian private sector in the Second Space Age:

  • From less than a dozen space start-ups five years ago, there are over 100 today.
  • The pace of investment is growing (from $30 million in 2018, it doubled to $65 million in 2021).

 

Size of Indian space economy: Estimated to be about $10 billion in 2020 and expected to be $13 billion by 2025 (global space economy – from $450 to $600 billion between 2020-25).

 

Potential:

  • Much greater ~$60 billion by 2030.
  • The private sector is poised for take-off as a transformative growth multiplier.

 

How can this potential be achieved?

  • Enabling policy and regulatory environment, directly creating over 2 lakh jobs.
  • In terms of end-user revenue, media and entertainment account for 26% of India’s space economy, with consumer and retail services accounting for another 21%.
    • The share generated by the government needs to be increased (from only a fifth now).
  • In terms of space activities, the share of upstream activities needs to be increased.
    • Downstream activities are dominant – over 70% of India’s space economy.
    • Upstream activities of satellite manufacturing and launch services contribute to the smaller share.

 

Challenge and opportunity: Regulation of the Indian private sector domain, which also provides a scope of expansion.

 

Insta Links:

Milestones in India’s Space Programme

 

Mains Links:

Discuss India’s achievements in the field of Space Science and Technology. How has the application of this technology helped India in its socioeconomic development? (UPSC 2016)

 

Prelims Links: (UPSC 2016)

With reference to `Astrosat’, the astronomical observatory launched by India, which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. Other than the USA and Russia, India is the only country to have launched a similar observatory into space.
  2. Astrosat is a 2000 kg satellite placed in an orbit at 1650 km above the surface of the Earth.

 

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

 

Ans: D

Use of AI for Legislation

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Science and Technology – Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life

 

Source: TH

 Context: Most mature democracies are now using Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools for better pieces of legislation and parliamentary procedures.

 

How AI tools can assist parliamentarians?

  • In preparing responses for legislators,
  • Enhancing research quality,
  • Obtaining information about any Bill, preparing briefs,
  • Providing information on particular House rules, legislative drafting, amendments, interventions, etc.
  • AI can also empower legislators to make informed decisions by having access to
    • Insights into citizen grievances,
    • Media opinions, and
    • Voices of citizen-centric associations.

 

In India,

  • Parliamentarians manage large constituencies.
  • AI can analyse citizens’ grievances and social media responses, and flag issues and priorities that need immediate attention.
  • It can also assist parliamentarians in seeking citizen inputs for public consultation of laws and preparing a manifesto.

 

For AI to work in India:

  • First, laws need to be codified: The current laws are opaque, and complex and there is a huge translation gap between law-making, law-implementing and law-interpreting organisations.
    • The Indian government has set up the India Code portal.
  • The interface should contain a complete chain: Right from the parent Act to the subordinate pieces of legislation enabling any entity to get a 360° view.
    • This becomes more critical in special situations such as COVID-19. For example, the central government issued over 900 while State governments issued over 6,000 notifications.

 

How will this aid?

  • Can act as a single window platform. For example,
    • If an entrepreneur wants to open a manufacturing unit in Maharashtra, AI can tell what acts and compliances are applicable.
    • If a citizen wants to check the eligibility for welfare schemes, AI can recommend which schemes are eligible, based on details provided by citizens.
  • Can also simulate the potential effects of laws. For example, various datasets such as the Census, data on household consumption, and taxpayers, can be modelled.
  • Can uncover potential outcomes of a policy.
  • Can flag outdated laws.

 

Global best practices:

  • The House of Representatives in the US: Introduced an AI tool to automate the process of analysing differences between Bills, amendments and current laws.
    • This is to readily see the impact of amendatory provisions in Bills that they move through the legislative process.
  • The Netherlands House of Representatives: “Speech2Write” system converts voice to text and “translates” voice into written reports.
  • Japan’s AI tool: Assists in the preparation of responses for its legislature and also helps in the automatic selection of relevant highlights in parliamentary debates.
  • Brazil: Ulysses system supports transparency and citizen participation.

 

Initiatives in India:

  • The ‘One Nation, One Application’
  • The National e-Vidhan (NeVA) portal

 

Way ahead:

  • The use of AI must be encouraged in an open, transparent, and citizen-friendly
  • To be mindful of the fact that AI is a means to an end and not an end in itself.

 

Conclusion:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has given a strong thrust to the Digital India initiative and the digitisation of services.
  • This momentum needs to be kept up and utilised in the field of law, and policy-making, by harnessing the power of AI.

 

Insta Links:

AI

30 years of Project Elephant

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Environment Conservation

 

Source: HT

 Context: President Droupadi Murmu took part in Gaj Utsav at Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) in Assam to mark 30 years of Project Elephant.

Aspect Project ElephantInformation
Launch year1992
TypeCentrally-sponsored scheme
AimTo protect elephants and improve their habitat and corridors, reduce human-elephant conflict
Elephant reserves33 elephant reserves have been notified (Terai ER in Utter Pradesh became 33rd India’s ER); 101 elephant corridors identified
ObjectivesProvide financial and technical support to wildlife management efforts, ensure the long-term survival
Protect elephants, their habitats and migration corridors
Support research on ecology and management of elephants
Create awareness of conservation among local people
Provide improved veterinary care for captive elephants

 

Other steps taken are:

  • Gaj Yatra (a nationwide awareness campaign to protect elephants)
  • Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) program (2003, to monitor the effectiveness of field conservation efforts)
  • Gaj Soochna’ mobile application for forest officials
  • Upholding the right of passage of elephants by SC
  • Involvement of mahouts and their families in the welfare of elephants
  • Gaj Utsav
  • Asian Elephant Alliance, an umbrella initiative by five NGOs, had, last year, come together to secure 96 out of the 101 existing corridors used by elephants across 12 States in India.

 

Status of Elephants in India:

  • India has about 27,000 Asian Elephants, which is the world’s largest population of the species.
  • As per Elephant Census (2017), Karnataka has the highest number of elephants (6,049), followed by Assam (5,719) and Kerala (3,054)
  • More than 60% of the world’s elephant population is in India.
  • The elephant is the Natural Heritage Animal of India

 

Characteristics of Elephants:

  • They are highly intelligent with strong family bonds
  • They have the longest gestation period of all mammals (18 to 22 months)
  • Adult male Asian elephants are less social than females.
  • The elephant makes a low, rumbling sound that can be heard up to 5 miles away.
  • An elephant can carry up to 7 tons, making it one of the world’s strongest animals.

 

Insta Links

Common survey to count elephants and big cats

 

Mains Links

Write a short note on elephant conservation programmes in India. (150 Words)

 

Prelims Links

With reference to Indian elephants, consider the following statements: (2020)

  1. The leader of an elephant group is a female.
  2. The maximum gestation period can be 22 months.
  3. An elephant can normally go on calving till the age of 40 years only.
  4. Among the States in India, the highest elephant population is in Kerala.

 

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 4 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 3 and 4 only

 

Ans: A

Hikikomori

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

Source: IE

 Hikikomori is a phenomenon in Japan where an estimated 1.5 million working-age people are living in isolation and avoiding social contact. It is not recognized as a clinical diagnosis but rather a social phenomenon.

Causes: Several factors, including Japan’s highly competitive education system, extreme academic pressure, and work culture, contribute to its high prevalence.

Treatment: Generally psychotherapeutic rather than drug-based, requiring family support, individual or group therapy, and a healthcare practitioner, hosting social gatherings in the metaverse.

Usage: This phenomenon can be used as an example of modern lifestyle, and the demerits of globalization in ethics, essay and Indian society paper.

Human composting

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

Source: IE

Human composting, also known as natural organic reduction, is a process of transforming the human body into nutrient-rich soil that has emerged as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional burial or cremation.

Process: The process involves washing and dressing the body in a biodegradable gown, placing it in a closed vessel along with selected materials, and leaving it to decompose for 30 days with the addition of oxygen to speed up the process.

Advantages: The resulting soil can be used for gardening or spread in designated memorial grounds or forest conservation areas. Human composting costs around $5,500, and is much less energy-intensive than cremation.

Opposition: The Catholic Church has been the biggest opponent of the process, calling it an “unfortunate spiritual, emotional, and psychological distancing from the deceased.”

 Usage: The example can be cited as an alternative way of lifestyle (even after death) which promotes environmental sustainability

Electricity from Vegetable Waste

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

Source: PIB

Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the innovative waste management system at Bowenpally Vegetable Market in Hyderabad during one of his Mann Ki Baat episodes. The market’s vegetable waste is now being turned into bioelectricity, biofuel and bio-manure, generating nearly 500 units of electricity and 30 kg of biofuel daily.

 

Advantages: Waste management of about 7-8 tons of vegetable waste generated to produce 400 units of electricity on average. The biogas unit helps reduce the electricity bill by half and the liquid bio manure is being used as fertilizer in the farmers’ fields.

 

Usage: This is an example of ‘Waste to Weath’ and can be used for answering environmental questions.

/ 10 Apr 2023, Today's Article

Ramakrishna Math

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: PIB

 Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the 125th-anniversary celebration of Sri Ramakrishna Math at Vivekananda House in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

About Ramakrishna Math

Ramakrishna Math is the administrative legal organization of the Ramakrishna Order, considered part of the Hindu reform movements. It was set up by sannyasin disciples of Ramakrishna Paramhansa headed by Swami Vivekananda at various places in India. Ramakrishna Math in various sectors such as education, libraries, health care, nursing, rural development, and leprosy awareness and rehabilitation.

About Ramakrishna Paramahansa (1836 –1886)

 He was an Indian Hindu mystic and spiritual leader who practised various religious traditions, including Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity, and proclaimed that all religions are different paths leading to the same goal. His followers regarded him as an avatar or divine incarnation, and his teachings were later popularized by his disciple Swami Vivekananda. Ramakrishna’s legacy is continued through the Ramakrishna Order, which provides spiritual training for monastics and householder devotees, and the Ramakrishna Mission, which provides charity, social work, and education.

C R Rao

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: TH

 Context: The Indian-American statistician Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao has been awarded the 2023 International Prize in Statistics, which is statistics’ equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

About C R Rao:

R. Rao is an Indian-American mathematician and statistician. He is currently a professor emeritus at Pennsylvania State University and Research Professor at the University at Buffalo. He was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 2001.

Contribution of C R RaoDescription
Various theorems Rao-Blackwell Theorem, Cramér–Rao inequality, Fisher–Rao theorem, Orthogonal arrays, Multivariate statistical analysis, Biometry etc.
Fields: Statistics, economics, genetics, anthropology, geology, national planning, demography, biometry, and medicine
Rao’s groundbreaking paper‘Information and accuracy attainable in the estimation of statistical parameters’ (1945)
Indian statisticsIndian statisticians also owe Prof. Rao gratitude for his enormous contributions to the growth of statistics in the country, notably at the Indian Statistical Institute. Rao was “the person who did the most to continue Mahalanobis’s work as a leader of statistics in India.”

 

About International Prize in Statistics

It was established in 2016 and is awarded once every two years to an individual or team “for major achievements using statistics to advance science, technology and human welfare.”

Changes in the domestic gas pricing formula

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: IE

 Context: Union Cabinet has changed the pricing regime for domestic natural gas under the ambit of the administered price mechanism (APM)

 

About APM:

  • APM applies to the pricing of gas produced by legacy fields (old Oil fields awarded to ONGC and OIL before 1999, when auctioning started)
  • APM gas accounts for about two-thirds of India’s natural gas production,

 

CriteriaOld Pricing SystemNew Pricing System
ApplicationAPM gas fieldsNomination fields of ONGC/OIL. New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) and Pre-NELP Block
Pricing Formula‘Modified’ Rangarajan formula since November 1, 2014Indexation to the price of imported crude oil
Price Determination FrequencyQuarterlyMonthly
Price CalculationBased on the cost of production, returns, and a notional price of imported LNG10% of the monthly average of the Indian crude basket
Price Ceiling and FloorNo floor or ceilingSubjected to a floor and ceiling price that remains unchanged for 2 years
The premium for Gas from New WellsNo premium allowed20% over APM price for gas produced from new fields

 

Advantages: The new pricing formula will help stabilize the prices of gas, encourage investment into the Gas based economy, help reduce prices of fertilizers, help reduce the government’s subsidy burden

 

For Kirit Parikh’s panel recommendations on gas pricing: Click here

Track and Trace system for export of pharmaceuticals consignments

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: TH

 Context: Drugmakers have been given an extension until August 1st to implement the Track and Trace system for the export of pharmaceutical consignments.

  • The extension was granted due to difficulties faced by members of the pharma exporter body Pharmexcil in joining the system.

 

About the system:

The system was designed to address counterfeit and product recall issues and has been in the works for eight years. It is based on traceability and barcodes on the packaging, which can help identify the source and prevent sabotage. The system covers secondary and tertiary packaging initially, with primary packaging to be included at a later stage.

 

Status of India in Pharmacy:

  • India’s pharmaceutical exports rose more than 3% to about $25 billion (FY23) but have missed the $27 billion target.
  • India produces about 60 per cent of global vaccines and 70 per cent of the World Health Organisation’s vaccines for essential immunisation schemes.
  • India is the world’s third-largest pharmaceutical producer and is considered a ‘pharmacy to the world’.
  • It is the largest provider of generic drugs

Quality control orders

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: LM

Context: India has been issuing quality control orders (QCO) for products of mass consumption, including machinery safety equipment, pressure cookers, toys and air conditioners, to curb Chinese imports and boost exports.

  • However, several WTO members have objected to this move and say that India’s QCOs are protectionist and may not be compliant with the WTO’s Agreement on Technical Barriers

 

What are QCOs?

The main aim of the QCO is to control the import of sub-quality and cheaper items and to ensure that customers get quality products. QCOs cannot be challenged at WTO if they are imposed on grounds of health, safety, environment and deceptive trade practice, or national security. BIS certifies it for International and domestic products.

 

India’s stand:

  • All orders are in line with WTO norms
  • India has the right to impose QCOs since they are first applied in the domestic market and then on imports.
  • India’s rationale behind issuing QCOs is to curb the dumping of cheap products from China and to address the widening trade deficit, which is nearly 40% of the total deficit.

 

About Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade:

It provides regulations on technical standards including packaging, labelling requirements, and environmental quality standards to be kept during the trade. As per the WTO’s agreement, members shall not adopt unnecessary obstacles to international trade.

Genome India Project

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: TH

Context: The Genome India Project, a Centre-backed initiative to sequence 10,000 Indian human genomes and create a database, is about two-thirds completed and will be 100% complete by year-end.

  • Of the 7,000 genomes sequenced about 3,000 are already available for public access (as per the Department of Biotechnology)

 

What is Genome?

A genome is a genetic material that provides instructions for the development, growth, and functioning of all living organisms, composed of DNA with a sequence of chemical bases that determines an organism’s characteristics.

 

What is Genome Sequencing?

 Genome sequencing is the process of determining the complete DNA sequence of an organism’s genome. It involves identifying the order of nucleotides (A, T, C, G) that make up the DNA molecule in each of the chromosomes of an organism.

About Genome India Project (GIP)Description
MinistryDepartment of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology
OriginDBT initiated GIP in 2020 (inspired by Human Genome Project) to sequence 10,000 Indian human genomes and create a database
PurposeCreating a database of Indian genomes means that researchers from anywhere can learn about genetic variants that are unique to India’s population groups and use that to customise drugs and therapies
CollaborationCollaboration of 20 institutions, including IISc and IITs
GoalTo build a grid of the Indian “reference genome”
BenefitsAdvancements in healthcare, medicine, agriculture, Development of personalized medicine based on genome mapping
ChallengesFear of scientific racism, data storage, and medical ethics; Concerns about reinforcing stereotypes based on genetic groups; Anonymity of data and questions of possible misuse; Risk of doctors privately performing gene modification
Other countriesUnited Kingdom, China, and the United States have programmes to sequence at least 1 lakh of their genomes

 

About Human Genome Project:

 The Human Genome Project (1990 to 20003) was an international scientific research project with the goal of determining the base pairs that make up human DNA, and of identifying, mapping and sequencing all of the genes of the human genome from both a physical and a functional standpoint.

TEMPO

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: IE

 Context:  The Tropospheric Emissions Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) instrument is a new device launched by SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will enable scientists to track air pollution over North America comprehensively from space, down to the neighbourhood level (i.e. 10sq KM range)

 

Other features:

  • Coverage area: Greater North America, from Puerto Rico to Canada
  • Orbit: Geostationary
  • Monitoring: Hourly basis during daytime
  • Pollutants monitored: Nitrogen dioxide, produced from the combustion of fossil fuels, formaldehyde and ozone.

 

 

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