Daily Prelims Notes 29 September 2023
- September 29, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
29 September 2023
Table Of Contents
- MS Swaminathan’s evergreen revolution: Productivity without ecological harm
- Narmada floods: Congress demands SIT probe, higher compensation
- Private equities, Venture Capitals cash in on market rally
- Nipah virus outbreak: What are monoclonal antibodies?
- Inside the digital world of cookies
- At least 100 million in India need spectacles but have no access
- Should generative Artificial Intelligence be regulated?
- Toto Shabda Sangraha
- What is Five Eyes intelligence alliance?
Section: Economic geography
- The legendary agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan passed away on September 28 after turning 98 on August 7.
- He was known as the father of the Green Revolution in India.
About M. S. Swaminathan (7 August 1925 – 28 September 2023):
- In 1954 he joined the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) at New Delhi as an assistant cytogeneticist.
- He worked on potato genetics and breeding of frost- and disease-resistant varieties.
- He was an Indian agronomist, agricultural scientist, plant geneticist, administrator, and humanitarian.
- Swaminathan’s collaborative scientific efforts with Norman Borlaug saved India and Pakistan from certain famine-like conditions in the 1960s.
- His leadership as director general of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines was instrumental in his being awarded the first World Food Prize in 1987, recognized as one of the highest honors in the field of agriculture.
- The United Nations Environment Programme has called him “the Father of Economic Ecology”.
Development of semi-dwarf variety of wheat:
- Traditional wheat varieties were tall and slender. Their plants grew to 4.5-5 feet height with long and weak stems. They “lodged” or bent over, even falling flat on the ground.
- He wanted to develop a non-lodging variety which could “tolerate” higher fertilizer doses.
- Mutagenesis– A process of exposing plants to radiation to introduce desirable modifications in their DNA.
- Norin-10 (a semi-dwarf wheat variety from Japan) was cross-pollinated with locally-grown US wheat resulting in the wheat variety named ‘Gaines’.
- Norin-10, when crossed with the spring wheats grown in Mexico, resulting in high-yielding varieties incorporating the dwarfing genes of Norin-10 in a spring wheat background — Sonara 63, Sonora 64, Mayo 64 and Lerma Rojo 64A — were better suited for cultivation in India.
- These Mexican wheat varieties were cultivated in India that led to the success of the green revolution.
- Indian scientists later bred their own Kalyansona and Sonalika wheat varieties. These produced amber-coloured grain with better chapati-making quality than the imported red wheats.
Key scientific terms associated with Dr. M.S. Swaminathan’s research and Green Revolution
- A period of rapid, scientific agricultural advancement in the mid-1960s that involved growing a high-yielding, disease-resistant variety of wheat, primarily in Punjab, was the beginning of India’s Green Revolution.
- Key architect: Dr. Swaminathan, former Union Agriculture Ministers C. Subramaniam (1964-67) and Jagjivan Ram (1967-70 and 1974-77).
- Short-straw or dwarf varieties of crops like rice and wheat formed the basis of India’s Green Revolution. Dwarf strains have a higher Harvest Index, which means that the plant puts more of its energy resources into seeds rather than leaves or other plant structures.
- Harvest Index quantifies the crop yield in comparison to the total biomass produced.
- High-yielding varieties of crops, or HYVs, produced a higher yield of crop per hectare in comparison to traditional variants. HYVs are usually disease-resistant and have a higher tolerance to conditions like drought.
- IR8, a variety of rice developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and first introduced in the Philippines, could produce as much as seven tonnes of rice per hectare.
- The difference between the potential or maximum achievable yield of a crop and the actual realised yield for a given area is called the yield gap.
- Cytogenetics is the study of chromosomes (DNA-carrying structures) and how they relate to hereditary characteristics and traits. Identifying traits such as resistance to diseases, drought, and pests in crops are applications of cytogenetics.
- Scientifically known as Triticum aestivum, hexaploid wheat contains six sets of chromosomes and is among the most widely cultivated cereal crops across the world. It is also called “bread wheat”. Dr. Swaminathan is associated with research on the cytogenetics of hexaploid wheat.
- Carbon fixation is the process by which crops capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it into organic compounds like sugars and starches, mostly through photosynthesis.
- Grass species either use C3 or C4 classes of photosynthetic pathways for carbon fixation. The C3 pathway, also called the Calvin cycle, is slower in comparison to C4 – also called the Hatch and Slack pathway.
- C4 occurs in both mesophyll cells and bundle sheath cells, making photosynthesis more efficient.
- Research on the C4 rice plant was started at the IRRI when Dr. Swaminathan was the Director General of the organization.
The phrase “evergreen revolution” refers to long-term productivity growth that is not unhealthy to the environment or society. The Evergreen Revolution entails incorporating ecological principles into the development and dissemination of technology
Subject : Geography
Context: Calling the flood like situation in parts of Narmada, Bharuch and Vadodara districts a “manmade Calamity”
- The Narmada, the largest west flowing river of the Peninsula, rises near Amarkantak range of mountains in Madhya Pradesh.
- It is the fifth largest river in the country and the largest one in Gujarat.
- It traverses Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat and meets the Gulf of Cambay.
Section: Capital Market
Context: Offers for sale in last five 5 years much higher than fresh issuances.
- Offers for sale by private equity (P/E) and venture capital (VC) firms have been significantly higher than fresh issuances of capital between 2018 and 2023.
|Private equity (PE)|
Unique characteristics of venture capital:
- Sales by PEs and VCs amounted to around $26 billion compared with about $10.4 bn worth of capital issuances.
- Sell-down is quite concentrated in the case of promoter sales but broad-based across sectors in the case of PE investors.
- What does the selling indicate?
- Selling by promoters largely reflects strategic compulsions such as debt management.
- Selling by PE players reflects tactical or price considerations.
- PE and VC players have made exits via the Initial Public Offering (IPO) route and also sold share in block deals in the secondary market.
- The exits have accelerated in the current year thanks to a strong rally in the markets.
- A good appetite from both foreign and domestic institutional investors as also retail investors has helped them sell either their entire stakes or pare their holdings.
- Changed holding in public companies:
- As a result of promoter sell-downs, the promoter holding in the BSE-200 Index has fallen to 48.8% in the June quarter (for which the data is available) from 50.3% in the December, 2022 quarter.
- The combined holding of domestic investors (Mutual Funds, local institutions and retail investors) has increased by 90 basis points to 23.5% at the end of the June quarter.
- The holding of Foreign Portfolio Investors has increased by a modest 26 bps to 21.7% over the same period.
- The holding of others (AIFs, PMS fall under this category) has increased 31 bps to 6%.
Subject : Science and tech
- India reached out to Australia to procure monoclonal antibody doses to combat the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala.
What is a monoclonal antibody?
- Niels K. Jerne, Georges J.F. Köhler and César Milstein were awarded the medicine Nobel Prize in 1984 for their work on “the principle for production of monoclonal antibodies”.
- Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the behavior of antibodies produced by the immune system to protect against diseases and foreign substances.
- An antibody attaches itself to an antigen – a foreign substance, usually a disease-causing molecule – and helps the immune system eliminate it from the body.
- Monoclonal antibodies are specifically designed to target certain antigens.
What is m102.4?
- m102.4 is a “potent, fully human” monoclonal antibody that neutralizes Hendra and Nipah viruses, both outside and inside of living organisms.
- Glycoproteins are one of the major components of viruses that cause diseases in humans. The m102.4 monoclonal antibody binds itself to the immunodominant receptor-binding glycoprotein of the Nipah virus, potentially neutralizing it.
- m102.4 is developed by Dr. Christopher Broder and his team at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) in Bethesda, Maryland, with help from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).
- Currently, the drug is used on a ‘compassionate use’ basis– a treatment option that allows the use of an unauthorized medicine under strict conditions among people where no other alternative and/or satisfactory authorized treatment is known to be possible and where patients cannot enter clinical trials for various reasons.
How do monoclonal antibodies work?
- They are meant to attach themselves to the specific disease-causing antigen. An antigen is most likely to be a protein.
- Hybridoma is a fusion cell made up of B cells (white blood cells that produce antibodies) and myeloma cells (abnormal plasma cells). These hybrid cells allowed the researchers to produce a single antibody clone, which came to be known as a monoclonal antibody.
- These antibodies are made using recombinant DNA technology.
- The gene that codes for the monoclonal antibody’s binding region — also known as the variable region — is isolated from a B cell or synthesised in the laboratory. This antibody is then introduced into a host cell, often a bacterium or a mammalian cell, using recombinant DNA technology. The host cells, called bioreactors, produce large quantities of the monoclonal antibodies which are extracted, purified, and readied for use as desired.
Hendra and Nipah virus:
- Both Hendra and Nipah viruses are bat-borne Paramyxoviridae – a family of viruses that contain a single-strand RNA of negative-sense genome, similar to the ones that cause diseases like measles, influenza etc., and replicate within infected cells.
- Both Hendra virus and Nipah virus are on the World Health Organisation’s list of priority diseases requiring urgent attention for research and development of therapeutics.
Subject : Science and Tech
Section :Awareness in IT
What are cookies?
- cookies are small blocks of data created by a web server while a user is browsing a website and placed on the user’s computer or other device by the user’s web browser. Cookies are placed on the device used to access a website, and more than one cookie may be placed on a user’s device during a session.
- Cookies help in personalisation and user convenience.
- The term cookie was coined by web-browser programmer Lou Montulli. It was derived from the term magic cookie, which is a packet of data a program receives and sends back unchanged, used by Unix programmers.
How do cookies work?
- Cookies remember one’s login information on websites i.e. one do not have to repeatedly enter one’s credentials every time one revisit a site, making it convenient for use.
- Cookies remember the previous interactions on a website, so that next time one visits that website, it personalities the user experience. For example: e-commerce websites show the similar products you had previously searched for on their website.
- Disadvantage: Privacy concerns and the potential for data misuse.
What are the types of cookies?
- Session cookies: They are temporary cookies and stored in your computer’s memory only during your browsing session.
- Persistent cookies: They stay on your device after your browsing session ends. Persistent cookies remember your login information, language preferences, and even the ads you have interacted with.
- Secure cookies are only sent over encrypted connections, making them safer from prying eyes. Secure cookies are often used for sensitive data like login credentials.
- Third-party cookies: They come from a domain other than the one you are visiting. They are often used for tracking and advertising purposes, which can be both useful and, at times, intrusive.
What are the uses of cookies?
- They act as digital ID cards, aiding in user authentication by allowing websites to recognise and keep you logged in during your visit.
- They foster a sense of personalisation.
- They function as the digital equivalent of a persistent shopping cart, ensuring that items you have added online remain there when you return.
- Facilitate website owners in gathering analytics data about user interactions, enabling them to make enhancements and customize content.
- Targeted advertising: used to display ads that align with your interests and browsing history.
What are the challenges associated?
- Privacy concerns: cookies could track your online behavior.
- Security risks: when cookies are inadequately secured, one can face cybercrimes and theft of personal data.
- Third-party cookies: may be harmful to the computer device, or can steal the private information from the device.
- Large amounts of data generated by these cookies can slow down the computer or the website.
- General Data Protection Regulation and The California Consumer Privacy Act necessitates the websites to seek your approval before deploying certain cookie types, resulting in those somewhat irksome pop-ups and prompts.
- India’s newly enacted Digital Personal Data Protection Act 2023 now necessitates websites to acquire explicit consent from users prior to collecting or processing their personal data via cookies. The updated law highlights the significance of transparent and well-informed consent.
Subject : Science and Tech
- The World Health Assembly, in its meeting, resolved to implement an “integrated people-centered eye care” project.
Global status of people with vision impairment:
- According to the WHO, at least 2.2 billion people function with compromised eyesight and at least a billion of these were preventable with access to eye care.
- Around 90% of those with vision impairment or blindness live in low- and middle-income countries.
- Fourth international conference on ‘Eye health in a changing world’ organised by the India Vision Institute, a non-governmental organisation.
The common defects of the eyes are:
- These are called the refractive defects because they are caused by incorrect refraction of light rays by the eye lens.
- It is also called shortsightedness
- In Myopia:
- Person is able to see nearby objects clearly but is not able to see faraway object
- Image of Faraway objects is formed in front of retina
- Far point of person is nearer than infinity
- Causes of Myopia
- Excessive curvature of eye lens (eye lens become more curved)
- Eyeball becomes elongated
- Correction of Myopia
- It is corrected by using concave lens of suitable power
- It helps to form image on the retina
- It is called long sightedness (or Hyperopia)
- In Hypermetropia
- Person is able to see faraway objects but are not able to see nearby objects
- Image of Nearby objects is formed behind the retina
- Near point of person is beyond 25 cm
- Causes of Hypermetropia
- Eyeball becomes too small
- Focal Length of Eye lens is too long
- Correction of Hypermetropia
- It is corrected by using convex lens of suitable power
- It helps to form image on the retina
- It is the defect in which person is not able to see nearby objects clearly
- It is formed in old persons whose ciliary muscles become weak with age Hence, they lose their power of accommodation.
- Weakening of Eye muscles
- Decrease in Flexibility of Eye lens
- Correction of Presbyopia
- it is also corrected with the help of convex lens (just like Hypermetropia)
In both Presbyopia and Hypermetropia:
- A person cannot see nearby objects clearly but can see far away objects clearly.
- The difference is in their causes:
- Presbyopia is caused due to loss of Power of Accommodation
- Hypermetropia is caused due to abnormal shape of the eyeball or abnormal shape of the eye lens
What are Bifocal Lens?
- It is a lens whose upper part consists of concave lens and inside part for convex lens
- It is used in case of those patients who are suffering from both myopia and hypermetropia
- Progressive lenses are a type of lens which have no differentiating lines between the focal distances. These have three different levels of focal distances ranging from distance to near.
- One looks through the top portion of the lens to see far-away objects, the middle to focus on intermediate objects and the bottom to see things close-up.
- This may be especially useful to people who wear single-vision eyeglasses for distance (due to Myopia) in addition to reading glasses for near work (due to presbyopia).
Types of lenses:
Subject : Science and Tech
Section :Awareness in IT
What is the legal framework on which generative AI rests, and who owns content?
- The U.S. Copyright Office’s guidance on generative AI only recognises copyright for works created by people.
- While in India (presently there is no law or regulations specifically for generative AI), the copyright of authorship of a work was jointly given to a person and generative AI. After controversy the withdrawal notice was issued to the human co-author.
European Union’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act:
- The Act’s central approach is the classification of AI tech based on the level of risk they pose to the “health and safety or fundamental rights” of a person. There are four risk categories in the Act— unacceptable, high, limited and minimal.
- There is a provision for ‘conformity assessments’ — algorithmic impact assessments to analyze data sets fed to AI tools, biases, how users interact with the system, and the overall design and monitoring of system outputs.
- Important provisions related to generative AI:
- If something is generated through generative AI tools, then it needs to be tagged as material generated by an AI tool.
- One should provide at least a short summary of the training material used, which is important from a copyright perspective.
Where does global AI governance currently stand?
- The U.S. does not currently have comprehensive AI regulation. A Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights (AIBoR) has been released by the US government.
- China has come out with some of the world’s first nationally binding regulations targeting specific types of algorithms and AI.
- It enacted a law to regulate recommendation algorithms with a focus on how they disseminate information.
- China’s Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), which drafted the rules, told companies to “promote positive energy”, to not “endanger national security or the social public interest” and to “give an explanation” when they harm the legitimate interests of users.
Section: Indian geo
Context: A language spoken by barely 1,600 people living in parts of West Bengal bordering Bhutan is to get a dictionary, thanks to the efforts of a professor at the University of Calcutta.
What is Toto language?
- Toto is a Sino-Tibetan language spoken by the Toto tribal people, primarily in parts of West Bengal bordering Bhutan.
- Toto is traditionally a spoken language, and although a script was developed in 2015 by Dhaniram Toto, many Toto people still write in the Bengali script .
Toto is considered a critically endangered language by UNESCO, with an estimated 1,000 speakers or fewer. Despite this endangered status, many families within the Toto community still use the language at home. It is often the primary language children learn at home, although they use Bengali when attending school.
- Language Preservation Efforts: Researchers and members of the Toto community are aware of the endangered status of the language. The influence of other languages, particularly Nepali and Bengali, is increasing, posing a threat to Toto. Efforts are being made to document and preserve the language, including the Himalayan Languages Project’s work on creating the first grammatical sketch of Toto.
- The ‘Five Eyes’ is a multilateral intelligence-sharing network shared by over 20 different agencies of five English-speaking countries — Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. It is both surveillance-based and signals intelligence (SIGINT). Intelligence documents shared between the member countries are classified ‘Secret—AUS/CAN/NZ/UK/US Eyes Only,’ which gave the group its title ‘Five Eyes.’
- The origins of the FVEY can be traced to informal secret meetings during World War II between British and American code-breakers.
- The treaty called the British-U.S. Communication Intelligence Agreement, or BRUSA (now known as the UKUSA Agreement), was signed between the State-Army-Navy Communication Intelligence Board (STANCIB) of the U.S. and the London Signal Intelligence Board (SIGINT) of Britain.
- Its scope was limited to “communication intelligence matters only” related to “unrestricted” exchange of intelligence products in six areas: collection of traffic; acquisition of communication documents and equipment; traffic analysis; cryptanalysis; decryption and translation; and acquisition of information regarding communication organisations, practices, procedures, and equipment. The arrangement was later extended to ‘second party’ countries —Canada joined in 1948, while Australia and New Zealand became part of the alliance in 1956.
- It was started before the US formally entered the war, followed by the Allies’ 1941 Atlantic Charter that established their vision of the post-war world.