Daily Prelims Notes 6 October 2022
- October 6, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
6 October 2022
Table Of Contents
- Nobel Prize 2022: Making chemistry click
- New research: Scientists engineer mosquitoes that can’t spread malaria, offer hope of eradicating disease
- WHO probing 66 children death in Gambia
- Criteria for SC Status in India
- Snow Avalanche in Uttarakhand
- What are the EU’s new laws to regulate content online, and how do they compare with India’s?
- OPEC-plus agrees on 2 million-barrel-a-day cut to output limit
- Governor’s assent to bills
- Pokkali, a GI-tagged rice variety, could be on the verge of extinction
Subject: Science and Technology
- The Nobel Prize 2022 in Chemistry has gone to three scientists who, through their work, have made a strong case for adopting an alternative approach to producing new complex molecules in the laboratory or industry, which minimises waste and increases overall efficiency.
- Carolyn Bertozzi and Barry Sharpless of the United States and Morten Meldal of Denmark have been given the Prize for developing the relatively recent field of ‘Click Chemistry’ and demonstrating its vast potential in the pharmaceutical and other industries.
- Sharpless, who is the originator of the concept of ‘Click Chemistry’, has now won the Nobel Prize for the second time, making him only the fifth scientist to achieve this distinction.
- His previous Nobel Prize had come in 2001 in recognition of a different kind of work.
- He emphasised on the need to replicate nature’s efficiency, not necessarily its processes, or even products.
What is ‘Click’ chemistry?
- The name (Click) has been taken from the click sound that airline seat belts make when they are fastened.
- The idea is that while trying to produce any particular compound or a complex molecule, one must look for starting molecules that easily react with each other.
- In other words, look for molecules that easily fit into each other, or ‘click’ with each other.
- It makes the resultant chemical reaction more efficient.
Why the idea of ‘Click’ Chemistry is so appealing?
- In the pharmaceutical industry, for example, which uses a lot of naturally occurring but industrially synthesised molecules, every kilogram of a drug produced results in the generation of nearly 25-100 kg of chemical waste. This is clearly not an efficient outcome.
- Sharpless was not just developing the ideas or identifying the criteria that would qualify a reaction to be called ‘Click’ reaction.
- Barry Sharpless went ahead and found the first chemical reaction that satisfied the criteria he had laid out for ‘Click’ reactions.
- It was a modification to a chemical reaction that had been known for 40 years.
- This reaction was meant to produce a nitrogen-containing cyclic compound that was used as a building block for a variety of molecules in the drug industry.
- The usual process also produced several by-products. However, Sharpless discovered that the use of copper as a catalysteliminated the by-products altogether and only the desired chemical was produced.
- Interestingly, around the same time, this discovery was also reported by Morten Meldal, a Danish scientist working independently on some pharmaceutical substances.
- Meldal’s discovery was accidental, but once he realised the implications, he experimented with other molecules as well, and obtained quite a few successes.
- These initial successes generated a lot of interest, and several other ‘Click’ reactions were found by different researchers.
- The next big breakthrough in this field came a few years later, when Carolyn Bertozzishowed in 2004 that ‘Click’ Chemistry could work in the chemical processes happening in the living cells as well.
- She went on to develop a few ‘click’ reactions that work inside living organisms.
- Bertozzi’s methods, which she has repeatedly refined over the years, have shown the promise of treating advanced cancer.
- Cancer drugs based on her approach are now undergoing clinical trials.
Subject: Science and Technology
- Scientists have genetically modified mosquitoes to slow the growth of malaria-causing parasites in their guts — an advancement that can help prevent transmission of the disease to humans.
- The disease is transmitted between people through a female mosquito after it bites someone infected with the malaria parasite.
- The parasite develops into its next stage in the mosquito’s gut and travels to its salivary glands, ready to infect the next person it bites.
- Now, the mosquitoes have been engineered to produce compounds that slow the growth of malaria-causing parasites.
- Though only around 10 per cent of mosquitoes live long enough for the infectious parasite to develop, malaria remains one of the most devastating diseases globally, putting at risk about half of the world’s population.
- In 2021, it infected 241 million people and killed 627,000 people.
- Researchers from the Institute for Disease Modelling at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation developed a model to assess the impact of such modifications and found it could be effective even where transmission is high.
- While the technique has been shown to dramatically reduce the possibility of malaria spreading in a lab setting, if proven in the real world it could offer a powerful new tool to help eliminate malaria.
- Researchers from the Transmission: Zero team at Imperial College London, UK, genetically modified the main malaria-carrying species of mosquito in sub-Saharan Africa, Anopheles gambiae, such that the mosquito produced antimicrobial peptides in its gut when it had a blood meal.
How it works-
- The peptides impair the malarial parasite’s development and also cause the mosquitoes to have a shorter life span.
- Gene drive is one such powerful weapon that in combination with drugs, vaccines and mosquito control can help stop the spread of malaria and save human lives.
- Gene drive would cause the anti-parasite genetic modification to be preferentially inherited, making it spread more widely among any natural population.
- It would, however, require extremely careful planning to minimise risks before any field trials. The Transmission: Zero team is, therefore, creating two separate but compatible strains of modified mosquitoes — one with the anti-parasite modification and one with the gene drive.
- They can then test the anti-parasite modification on its own first, adding in the gene drive once it has been shown to be effective.
- With partners in Tanzania, the team set up a facility to conduct some first tests.
- They are also risk-assessing potential releases of modified mosquitoes and taking into account potential hazards, but are hopeful that their intervention can help eradicate malaria.
Context: After death of 66 children in Gambia, WHO warns about four Indian cough syrups.
- Following the death of 66 children in Gambia, the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised an alert over four fever, cold, and cough syrups made by a Haryana based Indian company, urging people to not use them.
- India’s apex drug regulatory authority – the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) – has already launched an investigation into the matter after it was informed about the issue.
- It is found that the drug has been contaminated by diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol.
- Diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol can cause toxic effects, including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, inability to pass urine, headache, altered mental state, and acute kidney injury that may lead to death.
Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO)
- CDSCO is under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India.
- The Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules 1945 have entrusted various responsibilities to central & state regulators for regulation of drugs & cosmetics.
- Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, CDSCO is responsible for :
- Approval of Drugs
- Conduct of Clinical Trials
- Laying down the standards for Drugs
- Control over the quality of imported Drugs in the country
- Coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organizations
- Bring out the uniformity in the enforcement of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
- Further CDSCO along with state regulators, is jointly responsible for the grant of licenses of certain specialized categories of critical Drugs such as blood and blood products, I. V. Fluids, Vaccine etc.
Subject: Social Issue/Constitution
Context: The Supreme Court of India has sought the most recent position of the Union government on a batch of petitions challenging the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1950, which allows only members of Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist religions to be recognised as SCs.
- Paragraph 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 states that no person who professes a religion different from Hindu (the Sikh or the Buddhist) religion shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste.
- Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 was amended in 1956 and 1990 to include Sikhs and Buddhists in the list.
Schedule caste status in India
- The term “Scheduled Castes” has been defined in Article 366(24) as such the castes, races or tribes or parts of groups which are deemed under Article 341 to be scheduled castes for the purposes of this Constitution.
- Article 341(1) of the Indian Constitution gives the president the power to notify which castes in the country, and in specific states come under the category of Scheduled Castes.
- Under article 341 (2) of the Constitution the power to make changes to the SC and ST list lies with the Parliament and not state legislatures. Any change in the lists of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes requires a constitutional amendment.
- Only proposals agreed upon by both the Registrar General of India and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes are introduced as a Bill in Parliament.
- However, approval from RGI has done away with the rules framed in 1999.
- The general criteria for inclusion in the SC list are extremely social, educational and economic backwardness arising out of the traditional practice of untouchability( not explicitly given in the constitution).
- Scheduled Castes are those castes named in the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) order of the Government of India, promulgated in August 1950.
Subject : Environment
Context: Climate change may have had a role in causing the avalanche on the DANDA-2 Peak in Uttarakhand.
- Avalanche, a mass of material moving rapidly down a slope.
- An avalanche is typically triggered when material on a slope breaks loose from its surroundings; this material then quickly collects and carries additional material down the slope.
- Snow Avalanche is a rapid, down slope movement of large detached mass of snow, ice and associated debris such as rock fragments, soil and vegetation.
- Small avalanches, or sluffs, occur in large numbers whereas large avalanches that may encompass slopes a kilometre or more in length with millions of tons of snow, occur infrequently bust cause lot of damage.
- Common types of ice avalanches are Slab avalanches, loose snow avalanches and powder snow avalanches.
Avalanche prone areas
- In India, Himalayan region is well known for occurrence of snow avalanches particularly the Western Himalayan region (snowy regions of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand).
- A slab avalanche occurs when the weak layer lies lower down in a snowpack. Thislayer is covered with other layers of compressed snow.
- When the avalanche is triggered, the weak layer breaks off, pulling all the layers on top of it down the slope. These layers tumble and fall in a giant block, or slab.
- Once a slab avalanche starts, the slab shatters into many separate blocks. These snow blocks break up into ever-smaller pieces. Some of the pieces rise into the air as a moving cloud of icy particles. The cloud races downhill at very high speeds.
- The thickness and speed of slab avalanches make them a threat to skiers, snowboarders, mountaineers, and hikers.
- Slab avalanches are, by far, the most dangerous types of avalanches for people.
- A slab will move very quickly downhill, up to 130 km/h, starting off as a cohesive unit and shattering into smaller pieces as it descends.
Loose snow avalanches
- Loose snow avalanches happen when poorly bonded surface snow slides downhill under it’s own weight.
- They are common on steep slopes and are seen after a fresh snowfall.
- Since the snow does not have time to settle down fully or has been made loose by sunlight, the snowpack is not very solid.
- Such avalanches have a single point of origin, from where they widen as they travel down the slope.
- Sometimes called sluffs, these types of avalanches are generally smaller and less dangerous than slab avalanches, but they can still pose a hazard in the wrong terrain.
Powder Snow Avalanches
- Powder Snow Avalanches are a mix of the other forms, Loose Snow and Slab.
- The bottom half of this avalanche consists of a slab or a dense concentration of snow, ice and air.
- Above this is a cloud of powdered snow, which can snowball into a larger avalanche as it progresses down the slope.
- The speed attained by this avalanche can cross 190 miles per hour, and they can cross large distances.
Recent Information: Avalanche Monitoring Radar
- Indian Army and the Defence Geoinformatics and Research Establishment (DGRE) have jointly installed the Avalanche Monitoring Radar, first of its kind in India, in north Sikkim.
- The radar was inaugurated by Tri Shakti Corps commander.
About the radar
- This radar has the capability to detect avalanches within three seconds of their triggering and will assist in saving valuable life of troops and civilians as also vehicles in super high altitude areas.
- It can scan the targeted slope for avalanche release and track its path and its size in case it is triggered.
- It can see through snow, fog as well as in the night, making it an all weather solution and covers an area of two sq/km
- The radar is also linked to an alarm system enabling automatic control and warning measures in case an avalanche is triggered.
- The radar uses a series of short microwave pulses which are scattered at the target and can detect an avalanche in less than three seconds.
Subject: Science and Technology
- The European Union (EU) has given final approval to online safety-focused legislation, which is an overhaul of the region’s social media and e-commerce rules.
- Called the Digital Services Act (DSA), the law tightly regulates the way intermediaries, especially large platforms such as Google, Meta, Twitter, and YouTube, function in terms of moderating user content.
- It will give better protection to users and to fundamental rights online, establish a powerful transparency and accountability framework for online platforms and provide a single, uniform framework across the EU.
- The regulation will be published in the EU’s Official Journal on October 13, and the majority of its provisions will begin to apply 15 months after the DSA’s entry into force.
Key features of the Digital Services Act–
- Faster removals and provisions to challenge:
- As part of the overhaul, social media companies will have to add “new procedures for faster removal” of content deemed illegal or harmful.
- They will also have to explain to users how their content takedown policy works.
- The DSA also allows users to challenge takedown decisions taken by platforms and seek out-of-court settlements.
- Bigger platforms have greater responsibility:
- One of the most crucial features of the legislation is that it avoids a one-size fits all approach and places increased accountability on the Big Tech companies.
- Under the DSA, ‘Very Large Online Platforms’ (VLOPs) and ‘Very Large Online Search Engines’ (VLOSEs), that is platforms, having more than 45 million users in the EU, will have more stringent requirements.
- Direct supervision by European Commission:
- More importantly, these requirements and their enforcement will be centrally supervised by the European Commission itself — a key way to ensure that companies do not sidestep the legislation at the member-state level.
- More transparency on how algorithms work:
- VLOPs and VLOSEs will face transparency measures and scrutiny of how their algorithms work and will be required to conduct systemic risk analysis and reduction to drive accountability about the societal impacts of their products.
- VLOPsmust allow regulators to access their data to assess compliance and let researchers access their data to identify systemic risks of illegal or harmful content.
- Clearer identifiers for ads and who’s paying for them:
- Online platforms must ensure that users can easily identify advertisements and understand who presents or pays for the advertisement.
- They must not display personalised advertising directed towards minors or based on sensitive personal data, according to the DSA.
Comparison of EU’s DSA with India’s online laws–
- In February 2021,India had notified extensive changes to its social media regulations in the form of the Information Technology Rules, 2021 (IT Rules) which placed significant due diligence requirements on large social media platforms such as Meta and Twitter.
- These included appointing key personnel to handle law enforcement requests and user grievances, enabling the identification of the first originator of the information on its platform under certain conditions, and deploying technology-based measures on a best-effort basis to identify certain types of content.
- Social media companies have objected to some of the provisions in the IT Rules, and WhatsApphas filed a case against a requirement which mandates it to trace the first originator of a message.
- One of the reasons that the platform may be required to trace the originator is if a user has shared child sexual abuse material on its platform.
- WhatsApp has, however, alleged that the requirement will dilute the encryption security on its platform and could compromise the personal messages of millions of Indians.
- This June, with a view, to making the Internet “open, safe and trusted, and accountable”, the IT Ministry proposed further amendments to the IT Rules.
- One of the most contentious proposals is the creation of government-backed grievance appellate committees which would have the authority to review and revoke content moderation decisions taken by platforms.
Subject: International relations
Context: The OPEC+ alliance of oil-exporting countries on Wednesday decided to sharply cut production to support sagging oil prices, a move that could deal the struggling global economy another blow and raise politically sensitive pump prices for U.S. drivers just ahead of key national elections.
- The non-OPEC countries which export crude oil are termed as OPEC Plus countries. OPEC Plus countries include Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, South Sudan and Sudan.
- The OPEC and non-OPEC producers first formed the alliance at a historic meeting in Algiers in 2016.
- OPEC’s 14 members control 35 percent of global oil supplies in addition to the 82 percent of proven reserves.
- The addition of 10 Non-OPEC countries as OPEC+ including various important countries like Russia, Mexico and Kazakhstan, the share has increased to 55 percent and 90 percent of the holdings respectively. This provides OPEC+ a greater level of influence over the world economy than OPEC countries.
The Governor’s assent has, of late, become a controversial issue in at least two States — Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In Tamil Nadu, the Governor forwarded the Bill for exemption from the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) to the President after considerable delay. In Kerala the situation has become a bit curious with the Governor publicly announcing that he would not give assent to the Lokayukta Amendment Bill and the Kerala University Amendment Bill.
Bill passed by the State Assembly becomes law only after it is assented to by the Governor. The Governor being a part of the State legislature, the process of law making is complete only when he signs it, signifying his assent
Assent to bills under article 200 (i.e. assent of the Governor to the bills passed by the state legislature):
- Giving assent to a Bill passed by the legislature is a normal constitutional act performed by the Governor.
- The Governor is an appointee of the President, which means the Union government.
- Article 154(1) of the Constitution vests in the Governor the executive power of the State, he is required to exercise that power in accordance with the Constitution. In other words, the Governor can act only on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
- While there is not much deviation from the language used in the Government of India Act of 1935 in the context of the powers of the British era Governors, It is a settled constitutional position that the Governor is only a constitutional head and the executive power of the State is exercised by the Council of Ministers.
- When a bill is sent to the governor after it is passed by state legislature, he can:
- (a) Give his assent to the bill, or
- (b) Withhold his assent to the bill, or
- Return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for reconsideration of the state
- However, if the bill is passed again by the state legislature with or without amendments, the governor has to give his assent to the bill, or
- Reserve the bill for the consideration of the president (article 201). In one case such reservation is obligatory, that is, where the bill passed by the state legislature endangers the position of the state high court.
- In addition, the governor can also reserve the bill if it is of the following nature:
- (i) Ultra-vires, that is, against the provisions of the Constitution.
- (ii) Opposed to the Directive Principles of State Policy.
- (iii) Against the larger interest of the country.
- (iv) Of grave national importance.
- (v) Dealing with compulsory acquisition of property under Article the Constitution.
Subject :Science and Technology
- Pokkali rice is a saline-tolerant, indigenous rice variety grown in the Alappuzha, Thrissur and Ernakulam districts of Kerala. In Malayalam, Pokkam means height and Aali means This lesser-known rice variety is developed in low-lying coastal areas and employs one of the oldest organic farming techniques.
- The uniqueness of the rice has brought it the Geographical Indication(GI) tag.
- Pokkali is a system in which the farming alternates between rice and prawn( the fields are used alternately for rice farming and prawn and shrimp cultivation).
- In West Bengal, this agriculture-fisheries integration is known as bheries, in Karnataka it is called gajani, in Goa and Maharashtra it is called khazaan and in Kerala it’s pokkali.
Why is Pokkali special?
- Pokkali is cultivated with no fertilisers, be it chemical or organic, as it is grown in waterlogged areas. Pokkali can claim the title ‘organic’ as it is grown in water, and even if pesticides were added, the change in seawater level washes away the pesticides.
- This organically-grown rice is famous for its medicinal qualities and peculiar taste and has high protein and fibre content. Due to its geographical specificity, Pokkali was conferred a geographical indication (GI) tag in the year 2008.
- According to Pokkali Land Development Agency, Pokkali farming across Kerala has declined from 25,000 hectares to about 4,000 hectares. That said, the actual agriculture takes place in less than 1,000 hectares. They say that this decline has also affected prawn farming.
Reasons for decline:
- Coastal wetlands, the highly productive yet fragile ecosystems, are fast deteriorating due to several anthropogenic factors like unsustainable resource exploitation, habitat destruction, intensive aquaculture or permanent alteration for other uses.