Daily Prelims Notes 8 July 2021
- July 8, 2021
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
8 July 2021
Table Of Contents
- New online platform maps Pegasus spread
- Implication of US withdrawal from Afghan & Change of India’s Policy
- Bhalia variety of wheat was exported today
- National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS)
- Genomic Variants of Oral Cancer Database (dbGENVOC)
- Cabinet reshuffle
- Department of Public Enterprises
- Peak power demand
- Consumption of animal protein
Subject: Science & tech
Context: An online database about the use of the spyware Pegasus was recently launched by the Forensic Architecture, the Amnesty International and the Citizen Lab to document attacks against human rights defenders.
- It is a spyware developed by the Israeli cyber arms firm NSO Group Technologies.
- It mainly uses exploit links, clicking on which installs Pegasus on the target’s phone.
- Citizen Lab which has investigated several cases of Pegasus infections showed through its research that social engineering is a very common strategy to deliver the most sophisticated spyware.
- Pegasus does so by exploiting vulnerabilities in the phone’s operating systems (OS).
- Lookout, which is a cybersecurity company, had partnered with Citizen Lab to investigate Pegasus and found that it had exploited three zero-day vulnerabilities in iOS to successfully attain all the user access of the phone.
- A zero-day vulnerability is a flaw in a software or hardware that is previously unknown to the party responsible.
- Pegasus is state-of-the-art spyware and NSO charges an exorbitant sum for its product and services.
- Multiple ways and various technologies like social engineering, exploiting user apps and then using the vulnerabilities make this issue hard to solve.
- The Google Play Store and the Apple App store have thousands of apps with undiscovered vulnerabilities that could potentially be exploited by firms such as NSO to target individual users.
- By mainly targeting WhatsApp only the focus is shifted from other potential means through which it can be used further and leave a far bigger impact.
- Lack of awareness and specialists in digital security makes this a vulnerable sector.
- Terrorists and other anti-social elements have started using more of cyberspace which provides them with more getaways.
Subject : International Relations
Context : Recently, the United States under President Joe Biden is finally set to draw out the last of its boots on the ground after 10 years of waging a war against the Taliban, and another 10 years of vows to withdraw from Afghanistan.
- For Afghanistan: An emboldened Taliban insurgency is making battlefield gains, and prospective peace talks are stalled.
- It is feared that once foreign forces are gone, Afghanistan will dive deeper into civil war.
- For the United States and its coalition partners: All combat troops and 20 years of accumulated war materiel will soon be gone.
- The head of US Central Command will have authority until September 2021 to defend Afghan forces against the Taliban.
- For India: The prospects are largely uncertain as its relationship with the alternate regime is precarious, if not in complete tatters.
- New Delhi, which has tacitly been supporting a West-installed democratic government against the Taliban rule is suddenly on unchartered plains.
- India is the largest regional donor in Afghanistan, with pledges of around $3 billion and the Taliban often attacks these foreign-backed projects such as power plants, highways and other such installations.
Change in the Indian foreign policy towards Afghanistan
- India’s soft-power forays in Afghanistan have been widely appreciated except by Pakistan.
- India followed a consistent policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan and having generously provided humanitarian aid, infrastructural development in many fields, educational, medical, and power generation assistance.
- India has made it clear that any resolution of Afghanistan must be “Afghan-led, Afghan-ruled, and Afghan-controlled”.
- India must open up channels of communication with moderate elements in the Taliban with the likely changing power equations in Kabul.
- India should follow not only a policy which furthers its national interests but must also have moralistic and human overtones to it.
- India should strongly strive for a UN peacekeeping force to be stationed in Afghanistan which ensures the prevention of a civil war from breaking out there.
- India must also endeavour to get Russia, Iran, and the US on the same page to conceive and implement a suitable regional policy for the strife-torn Afghanistan.
- India must continue with its all-encompassing humanitarian assistance to the Kabul government.
Subject : Economy / Agriculture
Context :In a major boost to wheat exports, the first shipment of Geographical Indication (GI) certified Bhalia variety of wheat was exported today to Kenya and Sri Lanka from Gujarat.
- The GI certified wheat has high protein content and is sweet in taste.
- The crop is grown mostly across Bhal region of Gujarat which includes Ahmadabad, Anand, Kheda, Bhavanagar, Surendranagar, Bharuch districts.
- The unique characteristic of the wheat variety is that grown in the rainfed condition without irrigation and cultivated in around two lakh hectares of agricultural land in Gujarat.
- The Bhalia variety of wheat received GI certification in July, 2011.
- The registered proprietor of GI certification is Anand Agricultural University, Gujarat.
Subject : Science & tech
Context :A research paper by scientists at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), announcing a breakthrough in the field of chemical biology, and published in the prestigious Nature Chemical Biology (NCB), has been retracted as its key findings were manipulated.
- National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore, Karnataka, is a research centrespecialising in biological research.
- It is a part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) under the Department of Atomic Energy of the Government of India.
- On October 5, 2020, the paper “Discovery of iron-sensing bacterial riboswitches” was published online in the NCB. The publication was announced in an NCBS press release on October 6, 2020.
- The finding was significant as it announced the discovery of a new class of RNA (ribonucleic acid) molecules that could detect iron. Thus far, it was thought, iron could be detected only by specialised protein.
- RNA molecules, it has emerged, could detect nickel, cobalt, manganese but being able to detect iron, a key element that is vital for governing many biochemical processes, opened the possibility of designing RNA-based sensors.
Subject : Science & tech
Context : Recently, the DBT-National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), Kalyani has created a database of genomic variations in oral cancer called ‘dbGENVOC’.
- dbGENVOC is a browsable online database of GENomic Variants of Oral Cancer and is a free resource.
First release of dbGENVOC contains
- ~24 million somatic and germline variants derived from whole exome sequences of 100 Indian oral cancer patients and whole genome sequences of 5 oral cancer patients from India,
- somatic variation data from 220 patient samples drawn from the USA and analyzed by TCGA-HNSCC project and
- manually curated variation data of 118 patients from recently published peer-reviewed publications.
- Oral cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer among men in India, largely fuelled by tobacco-chewing. Tobacco-chewing causes changes in the genetic material of cells in the oral cavity. These changes (mutations) precipitate oral cancer.
- The National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG) has been established as an autonomous institution by the Government of India, under the aegis of the Department of Biotechnology.
- This is the first institution in India explicitly devoted to research, training, translation & service and capacity-building in Biomedical Genomics.
- It is located in Kalyani, West Bengal, India, near Kolkata.
Subject: Science and Technology
The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved the use of Interleukin-6 (IL-6) blockers — tocilizumab and sarilumab — as part of COVID-19 management protocol.
- IL-6 is an inflammatory marker that is responsible for a cytokine storm in the body, mostly in the second phase of COVID-19 infection.
- When the immune system mounts a fight against SARS-CoV-2, at times, it starts attacking the body’s other systems. This process is known as inflammation. The inflammation is followed by a drop in oxygen saturation levels (hypoxia) and other complications.
- An increase in IL-6 levels may lead to a progression of the disease towards a severe form.
- Tocilizumab is IL-6 blocker was the drugs to be included in the WHO recommendation .It has issues of affordability and accessibility
- Corticosteroids also help in fighting inflammation.
- A cytokine storm is the hyper-reaction of the immune system, which then starts attacking the patient’s own organs and can prove fatal.
- Cytokines are signaling proteins that are released by cells at local high concentrations.
- It is characterized by the overproduction of immune cells and the cytokines themselves because of a dysregulation in the process.
Context: The biggest reshuffle in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two terms inducted 15 new Cabinet rank Ministers and 28 Ministers of State (MoS).
Appointment of minister
- Article 75 governs appointment of ministers
- The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister, the President can appoint only those persons as ministers
- The total number of ministers, including the Prime Minister, in the Council of Ministers shall not exceed 15% of the total strength of the Lok Sabha. This provision was added by the 91st Amendment Act of 2003.
- The ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the President. .
- The President shall administer the oaths of office and secrecy to a minister.
- A minister who is not a member of the Parliament (either house) for any period of six consecutive months shall cease to be a minister.
- The salaries and allowances of ministers shall be determined by the Parliament
- The members of Parliament, either Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha, are appointed as ministers. A person who is not a member of either House of Parliament can also be appointed as a minister. But, within six months, he must become a member (either by election or by nomination) of either House of Parliament, otherwise, he ceases to be a minister.
- The President removes a minister only on the advice of the Prime Minister. In case of a difference of opinion or dissatisfaction with the performance of a minister, the Prime Minister can ask him to resign or advice the President to dismiss him. By exercising this power, the Prime Minister can ensure the realisation of the rule of collective responsibility(Ar.75)
- If any minister disagrees with a cabinet decision and is not prepared to defend it, he must resign. Several ministers have resigned in the past owing to their differences with the cabinet. For example, Dr BR Ambedkar resigned because of his differences with his colleagues on the Hindu Code Bill in 1953.
- If any minister refuses to a decision can resign by a resignation letter to president
- A minister may also resign if asked by the prime minister as he has the power to reshuffle his cabinet and council minister.
- The Prime minister allocates and reshuffles portfolios amongst them. He can ask the minister to resign or tell the president to dismiss him.
- The Prime Minister supervises activities of all ministers. His resignation or death leads to dissolution of the council of ministers.
- Council of ministers is a team that sinks or swims together. So if the Lok Sabha passes a no confidence motion against the Council of ministers then all have to resign. Only the Lok Sabha can pass the motion of no confidence; it can’t be against a single minister but the entire Council of ministers only.
The government has merged the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) with the finance ministry to give it a better control over state-owned firms and facilitate its ambitious privatization programme.
Finance ministry will now have six departments
- Department of Economic Affairs
- Department of Expenditure
- Department of Revenue
- Department of Financial Services
- Department of Investment and Public Asset Management
- Department of Public Enterprises (LokUdyamVibhag) (Earliar in Min of Heavy Industries)
Functions performed by the DPE,
- coordination of matters of general policy affecting all Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs)
- evaluation and monitoring the performance of PSEs,
- memorandum of understanding mechanism,
- Review of capital projects and expenditure in CPSEs.
- improving performance of CPSEs and other capacity building initiatives of PSEs,
- rendering advice relating to revival,
- restructuring or closure of PSEs including the mechanisms, counselling,
- training and rehabilitation of employees in CPSEs under Voluntary Retirement Scheme and categorisation of CPSEs including conferring ‘Ratna’ status
The shift of DPE to the finance ministry will help in efficient monitoring of the capital expenditure, asset monetisation and financial health of the Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs).
The heavy industries ministry will continue to be the administrative ministry related primarily to the capital goods sector like 44 CPSEs including MarutiUdyog Limited, BHEL, Cement Corporation, Scooters India, HMT and various other subsidiaries would be under the Ministry of Heavy Industries.
Concept: Peak power demand in the country crossed the 2,00,000mega watt (MW) mark for the first time on Wednesday, surpassing the previous all-time high of 1,97,060 MW recorded just a day ago
- Peak demand on an electrical grid is the highest electrical power demand that has occurred over a specified time period. Peak demand is typically characterized as annual, daily or seasonal and has the unit of power
- Peak demand reflects the highest power requirement level reached at a particular moment.
- The cost of energy production is high due to the use of peaking power
- Post lockdown industries restarting
- India’s peak electricity demand usually occurs in the evening.
- It depends on the demography, the economy, the weather, the climate, the season, the day of the week and other factors.
- Residential and commercial electricity demand contributes a lot to this type of network peak demand
According to IIT-Kanpur’s Energy Analytics Lab, 67% of the load was met by thermal power plants when demand was at its peak, while 16% was supplied by renewable power sources. Hydro power plants contributed another 14% and gas and nuclear units catered to the remaining demand at that time.
Context: The gap between high-, middle- and low-income countries on the per capita consumption of animal protein (meat, fish, dairy, eggs) in the next decade is expected to increase, according to a report Titled OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2021-2030
The report is a collaborative effort of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
- In high-income countries per capita availability of animal protein is expected to grow slowly over the coming decade. More people in these countries will replace red meat with poultry meat or dairy products due to health and environmental reasons.
- In middle-income countries, per capita availability of animal protein is projected to increase by 11 per cent. The projections suggest that the gap in animal protein consumption between high and middle-income countries will decline by four per cent,
- Low-income countries will have low per capita availability of animal protein, these levels are not expected to increase significantly (0.2 grams per person per day), the report said. These developments will contribute to widen the gap in animal protein consumption between low-income countries and middle and high-income countries over the coming decade
- The largest decline is expected for fish, as population growth is projected to outpace the expansion in fish supply
The World Economic Forum has said that switching from beef to alternative proteins could save millions of lives and dramatically slash greenhouse gas emissions.