Daily Prelims Notes 21 July 2021
- July 21, 2021
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
21 July 2021
Table Of Contents
- DNA vaccines
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Extreme weather events
- Valmiki Tiger Reserve
- 97th constitutional amendment
- Supplementary demands for grants
- Crop varieties developed in India
- ‘India is welcome to join China-South Asia grouping’
- Navy seeks bids to build submarines
- Two-thirds of Indians have antibodies shows ICMR survey
- Aquaculture farmers to sell produce on e-Santa
Subject: Science and Technology
Context: Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday said several Indian companies are increasing their production of Covid-19 vaccines and that the country may become the first in the world to develop a DNA-based vaccine.
Cadila has completed third phase trial of its DNA vaccine and has applied for emergency use authorisation before DCGI (Drugs Controller General of India). Our expert team is looking into it. When this will come in the market, India will be the only country where scientists have developed a DNA vaccine
DNA vaccines, which are often referred to as the third-generation vaccines, use engineered DNA to induce an immunologic response in the host against bacteria, parasites, viruses, and potentially cancer.
- The vaccines expose the immune system to epitopes that originated from the target pathogen, which allows the immune system to develop antibodies that can recognize and attack this infectious agent if the vaccinated host encounters this pathogen in the future.
- Conventional vaccines are crucial for preventing the spread of numerous highly infectious diseases, the manufacturing of these vaccines often requires that researchers handle live pathogens. Not only can the handling of these pathogens pose safety concerns for those developing the vaccine, but the risk of contamination by these pathogens is also of concern.
Cons of traditional vaccine:
- The challenges associated with the development of conventional vaccines have led to the investigation of several alternative vaccine approaches that could be used for both infectious and non-infectious diseases.
- One alternative vaccine that has gained considerable attention is a DNA-based vaccine which is considered to be more stable, cost-efficient, and easier to handle than traditional vaccines.
DNA vaccines working
- DNA vaccines induce an adaptive immune response. The basic working principle behind any DNA vaccine involves the use of a DNA plasmid that encodes for a protein that originated from the pathogen in which the vaccine will be targeted.
- Plasmid DNA (pDNA) is inexpensive, stable, and relatively safe, thereby allowing this non-viral platform to be considered an excellent option for gene delivery. Some of the different virus vectors that have been used to source pDNA include onco-retroviruses, lentiviruses, adenoviruses, adeno-associated viruses, and Herpes simplex-1.
DNA vs RNA Vaccine
- With a DNA vaccine, the virus’ genetic information is transmitted to another molecule that is called the messenger RNA (mRNA). This means with an RNA or mRNA vaccine, you’re one step ahead of a DNA vaccine.
- Another difference between a DNA and RNA vaccine is that a DNA vaccine delivers the message via a small electrical pulse, which literally pushes the message into the cell. The advantage is that this vaccine is very stable at higher temperatures. The disadvantage is that it requires a special device that provides the electrical pulse.
DNA vaccines in development
- Currently, there are no DNA vaccines that have been approved for widespread use in humans.
- Several DNA-based vaccines have been approved by both the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for veterinary use, of which include a vaccine against West Nile Virus in horses as well as a melanoma vaccine for dogs.
- Over 160 different DNA vaccines are currently being tested in human clinical trials in the United States. It is estimated that 62% of these trials are devoted to cancer vaccines and 33% are applied for vaccines against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
- One of the first clinical trials on a DNA vaccine investigated the potential therapeutic and prophylactic effects of a DNA vaccine against HIV.
- One of the biggest challenges associated with DNA vaccines is their low immunogenicity in larger animals and humans.
- Researchers believe that higher amounts of DNA within the range of 5 to 20 mg would need to be injected into an average-sized human to increase the immunogenicity of DNA-based vaccines.
- Another challenge of DNA-based vaccines involves the optimization of transfection, which could be achieved through the incorporation of several parameters such as a hybrid viral/eukaryotic promotor or the optimization of antigen codons.
- An ideal DNA vaccine will avoid extracellular degradation and successfully enter the nucleus of target cells to induce a long-term immune response.
Subject: Science and Tech
Context: The FDA acknowledged there was not sufficient evidence that the drug would help patients. Instead, it said it was greenlighting Aduhelm under a program called “accelerated approval,.
- The Food and Drug Administration’s deadline to decide whether to approve Biogen’s controversial Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab, a council of senior agency officials resoundingly agreed that there wasn’t enough evidence it worked.
- A progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. Brain cell connections and the cells themselves degenerate and die, eventually destroying memory and other important mental functions.
- No cure exists, but medication and management strategies may temporarily improve symptoms.
- Memory loss is the key symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. Early signs include difficulty remembering recent events or conversations. As the disease progresses, memory impairments worsen and other symptoms develop.
- At first, a person with Alzheimer’s disease may be aware of having difficulty remembering things and organizing thoughts. A family member or friend may be more likely to notice how the symptoms worsen.
- Brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease lead to trouble.
Context: The climate change remains one of the biggest threats. This year, people around the world have been doubly hit by the pandemic and extreme weather events which experts say have been fuelled by climate change.
The rising temperatures can have far-reaching consequences, including an impact on food security, health, the environment and sustainable development.
Increasing temperatures mean more melting ice, higher sea levels, more heatwaves and other extreme weather.
2021: A year of extreme weather events
- The extreme weather events across the world this year are the unprecedented heat wave that drove temperatures across Canada and parts of the United States to a record high, causing hundreds of deaths between June 25 to 30;
- The recent floods in Germany that killed over 180 people in the country; cyclones Tauktae and Yaas that hit India’s west and east coasts, respectively, as well as the floods in New South Wales in March.
- The frequency and strength of such weather disasters around the world have raised fresh concerns regarding climate change, with scientists detecting a stronger link between global warming and changing weather patterns.
- The rise in average global temperature is linked with widespread changes in weather patterns. Scientific studies indicate that extreme weather events like heat waves and extreme rainfall are likely to become more frequent or more intense with rising anthropogenic climate change.
- Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere averaged 419 parts per million in May this year.
- According to NOAA’s Climate Extremes Index, there has been a drastic increase in the area in the Southwest that is experiencing extremely high temperatures in summer over the last 20 years, with very little relief in the last six years.
- According to the Climate Science Special Report, global temperatures are likely to continue to increase due to the release of greenhouse gases.
- Climate scientists have also said that in general, the rising average global temperature is making heavy rainfall more likely. Warmer air carries more moisture, meaning that more water will be released eventually.
- The other important point of concern remains that temperatures at the Earth’s poles are rising at two to three times the temperature at the equator. According to a report by Reuters, this weakens the jet stream of the mid-latitudes, situated over Europe. During summer and autumn, the weakening of the jet stream has a causal effect resulting in slower-moving storms. This can result in more severe and longer-lasting storms with increased intensity.
- A study published in Naturejournal in 2016 stated that human-induced global warming has contributed to the increased frequency and intensity of cyclonic storms over the Arabian Sea.
- The Indian Ocean is heating up at a faster pace in comparison to the Pacific or the Atlantic. And in fact, the western parts of the Indian Ocean are warming up even more. A rise in the temperature of the sea surface is related to the changes in the intensity and frequency of cyclones.
Context: The chief minister of Uttarakhand Pushakar Singh Dhami planted saplings with the villagers and urged them to gift saplings to their visitors for maintaining greenery on earth. All the government departments, institutions, schools, non-profits, volunteers, social workers and locals participated in the plantation drive.
- Villagers across Uttarakhand celebrated Harela, a festival of greenery, peace, prosperity and environmental conservation
- Harela means ‘day of green’ and is celebrated in the month of Shravan (the fifth month of the Hindu lunar calendar) to worship Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
- People across Uttarakhand, especially the Kumaun region, associate greenery with prosperity.
- The seeds of five to seven types of crops — maize, til (sesame), urad(black gram), mustard, oats — are sown in donas (bowl made of leaves) or ringalare (hill bamboo baskets) nine days before the festival.
- They are harvested on the ninth day and distributed to neighbours, friends and relatives.
- The flourish of the crops symbolises prosperity in the year ahead.
- Kheer, puwa, puri, rayata, chhole and other dishes are prepared as the celebratory spread.
- People make clay statues of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, known as Dikare, and worship them a day before the festival.
- Locals of Garhwal said Harela is also linked to the Barahnaza system (12 types of crops), a crop diversification technique followed in the region.
- On the day of the festival the locals sing the in kumaoni language.
Context: Hundreds of gharial eggs have been destroyed by the swirling waters of the Gandak River in Bihar’s Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) after early floods in the state in June, officials said.
- The Bihar government had started a project in collaboration with non-profit Wild Trust of India (WTI) to increase the Gandak’s gharial population. They first released 30 captive-born gharials into the river in 2014-15. They followed this up with protecting nests by involving the local community.
- The project was prompted after a survey by WTI in 2010 found only 15 gharials in the Gandak.
- The Gandak hosts the second-largest population of gharials in India after the Chambal river. It has widespread sandbanks and rich wetlands that provide a natural breeding ground for fish, a staple food for gharials.
- The gharial is ‘Critically Endangered’ according to the International Union for Conservation of Species-Species Survival Commission or IUCN-SSC assessment in 2007.
- Its distribution range has shrunk and currently, it occupies only about two per cent of its former range. The gharial population has registered a decline of up to 98 per cent between 1946 and 2006. The adult population has nosedived, with a 58 per cent reduction across its range in just nine years from 1997.
Valmiki Tiger Reserve
- Valmiki Tiger Reserve forms the eastern most limit of the Himalayan Terai forests in India, and is the only tiger reserve of Bihar. Situated in the Gangetic Plains bio-geographic zone of the country, the forest has combination of bhabar and terai tracts.
- Valmiki Tiger Reserve lies in the north-westernmost West Champaran district of Bihar. Name of the district has been derived from two words Champa and Aranya meaning Forest of Champa trees.
- Wild mammals found in the forests of Valmiki Tiger Reserve are Tiger, Sloth bear, Leopard, Wild dog, Bison, Wild boar etc.
- Several species of deer and antelopes viz barking deer, spotted deer, hog deer, sambar and blue bull are also found here.
- In Madanpur forest block large number of Indian flying foxes can be sighted. The Reserve has rich avi-fauna diversity. Over 250 species of birds have been reported.
Context: India’s pension funds will soon be allowed to invest in select publicly listed companies and initial public offerings, the sector regulator said.
Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA)
- Currently pension funds can only invest in companies with market cap more than ₹5,000 crore which also are in the F&O (futures and options) segment of bourses. The regulator will thus expand the investible universe to the top 200 companies.
- The regulator will fix certain criteria for eligible IPOs and similar primary issues
- Currently, NPS subscribers have to use 40% of their corpus to buy an annuity (a fixed pension) at maturity, at the age of 60.
- Asystematic withdrawal plan by comparison will give subscribers the choice of when and how much to withdraw from their pension corpus after maturity.
- The government is likely to make PFRDA the regulator for superannuation funds, which currently operate in a regulatory vacuum.
- Superannuation funds are retirement funds run by corporates. They are given approval by the income tax department, and they have to abide by the guidelines from the finance ministry; however, the government is in talks with PFRDA, the authority to regulate these funds.
Context: The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, struck down parts of a Constitutional Amendment which shrunk the exclusive authority of States over its co-operative societies, a sector that is considered a massive contributor to the national economy.
Issues and Judgment:
- Supreme Court upheld the validity of the 97th constitutional amendment, but struck down a part related to the setting up and functioning of cooperative societies working within a state.
- The Supreme Court judgement is based on the reasoning that the concerned subject matter of co-operative fell in the state list and hence it belongs wholly and exclusively to the State legislatures to legislate upon and any change would require the ratification by at least one-half of the state legislatures as per Article 368(2) of the Constitution.
- The judgement held that the 97th constitutional amendment had a significant and substantial impact on the State legislatures’ “exclusive legislative power” over its cooperative sector.
- The majority judgment declared that Part IXB of the Constitution of India is operative only in so far as it concerns multi-State co-operative societies both within the various States and in the Union Territories of India.
- The dissenting judge however held that the doctrine of severability would not operate to distinguish between single-State cooperatives and MSCS and had argued that the entire Part IXB should be struck down on the ground of absence of ratification.
- Disagreeing with the Central government’s argument that the amendment was aimed at bringing uniformity in the management of cooperative societies throughout the country, the Supreme Court suggested that if the Centre wanted to achieve uniformity then the only way available was to take the recourse under Article 252 of the Constitution which deals with the power of Parliament to legislate for two or more states by consent.
- Part IXB, introduced into the Constitution through the 97th amendment of 2012, dictated the terms for running co-operative societies. The provisions in the amendment, passed by the Parliament without getting them ratified by State legislatures as required by the Constitution.
- The amendment went to the extent of determining the number of directors a co-operative society should have or their length of tenure and even the necessary expertise required to become a member of the society Govt version
- The Centre justified they were injecting professionalism and autonomy into the functioning of co-operative societies.
- Lack of accountability by the members of these societies has led to poor services and low productivity. Even elections are not held on time.
- The court held that co-operative societies come under the exclusive legislative power of State legislatures. The judgment may be significant in the background of fears voiced by States whether the new Central Ministry of Cooperation would disempower them.
- Part IX B of the Constitution, which consists of Articles 243ZH to 243ZT, has “significantly and substantially impacted State legislatures’ exclusive legislative power over its co-operative sector under Entry 32 of the State List to over the co-operative sector. I
- The court pointed out how Article 243ZI makes it clear that a State may only make law on the incorporation, regulation and winding up of a co-operative society subject to the provisions of Part IXB of the 97th Constitutional Amendment
- The 97th constitutional amendment amended Article 19(I) c by inserting, after the words ‘or unions’ the words ‘or Co-operative Societies’.
- It also inserted Article 43B in Part IV of the Constitution as “The State Shall endeavor to promote Voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic Control and professional management of the Co-operative societies”
- After Part IX-A of the Constitution, Part IX-B was inserted. Part IX-B extended from Article 243ZH to Article 243ZT.
- It amended Article 19(1)(c) to give protection to the cooperatives and inserted Article 43 B and Part IX B, relating to them
Context: In the Supplementary demands for grants for current fiscal, the single largest outgo proposed is ₹10,727.50 crore, which will be spent on meeting expenditure towards Grants-in-aid General under the National Rural Health Mission – India Covid-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package Phase-II.
Supplementary demands for grants
- Article 115 of the constitution provides for Supplementary, additional or excess grants.
- They are additional grants which are required to meet the expenditure of the government
- The Comptroller and Auditor General of India bring such excesses to the notice of the Parliament.
- Supplementary demands for grants is presented in each of the three sessions of Parliament Monsoon, Winter and Budget — when the amount authorised for the current financial year is in sufficient,
- The Public Accounts Committee examines these excesses and gives recommendations to the Parliament.
- The need arises for additional expenditure on an existing service or a new service not contemplated in the annual financial statement for that year, and for recouping the Contingency Fund Advance.
- When actual expenditure incurred exceeds the approved grants of the Parliament, the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Railways presents a Demand for Excess Grant.
- It is needed for government expenditure over and above the amount for which Parliamentary approval was already obtained during the Budget session.
- When grants, authorised by the Parliament, fall short of the required expenditure, an estimate is presented before the Parliament for Supplementary or Additional grants.
- These grants are presented and passed by the Parliament before the end of the financial year.
Context: Over the last seven years, cereals have accounted for nearly 50 per cent share of all the field crops developed in the country.
- Pulses and oilseeds accounted for the next largest share of the crops developed since 2014.
- A total of 1,575 varieties of 70 field crops have been developed between 2014 and January 2021.
- These include 770 varieties of cereals, 235 oilseeds, 236 pulses, 170 fibre crops, 104 forage crops, 52 sugarcane and eight other crops, 288 varieties of horticultural crops
- Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is working to upgrade technology and provide quality seeds to farmers. During this process, the advancements made in the agricultural sciences, both within India and outside, are considered for their replication under suitable farming situations.
- the new high yielding and biotic/abiotic stress tolerant varieties and technologies of crops, breeds/strains of livestock and poultry developed by the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) under ICAR have played a pivotal role in increasing food and nutritional security.
- In livestock, 12 improved poultry varieties suitable for backyard poultry rearing, nine high-producing varieties of pigs and an improved sheep variety , 12 cloned buffaloes were also produced during the last seven years to multiply superior germplasm were developed
Subject : International Relations
Context : Bangladesh Foreign Minister has stated that India is welcome to join the China-led South Asian initiative for COVID-19 vaccines and poverty alleviation and has denied the allegations that the newly launched China-South Asia grouping was meant to exclude India.
- Subsequent to a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of China, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, China-South Asian Countries Emergency Supplies Reserve, and a Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Development Centre were set up in China recently.
- The poverty alleviation centre was envisioned to deal with economic issues arising in South Asia due to COVID.
- The China-South Asia centre is also being established in the Southern Chinese city of Chongqing.
Concerns for India:
- The development had raised concerns in India as the initiative appeared to leave out only India, Bhutan and the Maldives.
- Some experts have warned that the new initiative could be aimed at diluting India’s role in the SAARC region by increasing China’s strategic influence in the South Asian region through developmental aid.
Subject : Defence
Context : Recently, the Ministry of Defence has issued Request of Proposal (RFP) for the first acquisition programme under the Strategic Partnership Model for construction of six AIP fitted Conventional Submarines named Project 75(India) for the Indian Navy.
- The RFP was issued to shortlisted Strategic Partners (SPs) or Indian Applicant Companies for the project viz, M/s Mazagaon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and M/s Larsen & Tubro (L&T).
- The project cost is over Rs 40,000 crore.
- It is a follow-on of the Project 75 Kalvari-class submarine for the Indian Navy.
- The P-75 (I) contract will be awarded to MDL (Mazagon Docks Ltd) or Larsen &Toubro.
- It is part of a 30-year submarine building plan that ends in 2030.
- The ‘I’ symbolizes the attempt to give India the ability to design and produce submarines as part of a 30-year submarine building programme.
- The goal is to produce 24 conventional submarines by 2030 (now been reduced to 18).
- It offers a chance to stabilise the entire submarine line on an in-service platform, whether French, Russian or German.
- Under the Project 75 (I), the navy will operate six Scorpene submarines by 2023 which will be in service until 2050 and beyond.
Subject: Science & tech
Context: The fourth national COVID-19 sero survey conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
- As per the sero-survey, two-thirds of the population aged above six have antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.
- The survey also found that more than half of the children (6-17 years) were seropositive.
- Though the survey offered a ray of hope in the fight against the pandemic, there was no room for complacency given that nearly 40 crore people, or a third of the population, are still vulnerable to the COVID-19 infection.
- The serological survey was meant to detect whether the person being tested had developed antibodies against the coronavirus.
- Since it is not possible to test everyone, detecting antibodies in random sets of people is an indirect way of estimating the extent of disease spread in a community.
- The antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system to fight external organisms like viruses that try to enter the body.
- These are produced only after the infection has happened, and are specific to the attacking virus or bacterium.
- The presence of antibodies, therefore, is an indication that an infection by that particular virus or bacterium has already occurred.
- Subsequent attempts to infect the body can be thwarted by these antibodies.
What about Vaccines then?
- Vaccines work in a similar manner – wherein they inject harmless doses of a virus or a bacterium inside the human body to trigger the production of antibodies by the immune system.
- These antibodies can then fight off an actual attack by those viruses or bacteria.
- Herd immunity is a stage of an epidemic in which some members of a population group remain protected from infection because a majority of those around them have already developed immunity, either through vaccination or because they have been infected earlier.
- Once a certain proportion of population gets infected, and thus builds immunity against the disease, the epidemic begins to slow down and eventually stop.
- No one clearly knows what percentage of the population needs to be infected before herd immunity kicks in. It is different for different diseases, and different population groups.
Context: Many aquaculture farmers in Andhra Pradesh are planning to update the details of their produce online and market their stocks through e-Santa.
- The term eSaNta depicts Electronic Solution for Augmenting NaCSA Farmers Trade in Aquaculture.
- National Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture (NaCSA) is an extension arm of the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), Ministry of Commerce & Industry. The objectives of NaCSA are to encourage and uplift the small and marginal farmers through the organization of clusters and maintaining of best management practices.
- It basically functions as an electronic marketplace for marine products. It enables widely dispersed buyers and farmers to interact and execute purchase transactions digitally.
- This initiative by building a bridge between Aqua farmers and buyers to interact directly and buy the produce directly from farmers helps eliminate the middlemen completely.