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When:
July 29, 2018 @ 1:00 am
2018-07-29T01:00:00+05:30
2018-07-29T01:15:00+05:30

NEWS

29 JULY 2018

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – BIODIVERSITY

These beautiful strangers now thrive in India

2.

GS II: SOCIAL – HEALTH

Nearly half of head and neck cancer patients die within a year of diagnosis: doc

3.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – BIODIVERSITY

India has potential to be the global leader in tiger conservation: expert

4.

GS III: DEFENCE

‘Made in India’ tank engines handed over to the Army

5.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

Arsenic contamination in paddy is rising in Bengal, says study

6.

GS II: POLITY- BILL/ACT

Companies pick holes in data protection Bill

7.

GS III: S&T – BIOTECHNOLOGY

How safe is CRISPR?

8.

GS II: SOCIAL – HEALTH

Health care, level one

9.

GS II: SOCIAL – HEALTH

A chink in TB’s armour?


GS III: ENVIRONMENT – BIODIVERSITY

These beautiful strangers now thrive in India

  • These ‘aliens’ are here to stay. As many as 471 plant species that are alien or exotic – not native to India – are ‘naturalised,’ for they can thrive in the country’s wildernesses by forming stable populations, says a recent report.
  • This list of naturalised exotic or alien species, ranging from the common guava (Psidium guajava) to prolific invasives such as lantana (Lantana camara), has been compiled in a recent study.
  • Naturalised species reproduce naturally in the environments they colonise.
  • Invasive species do this so prolifically that they alter the workings of the natural ecosystems they colonise or invade. Lantana, for instance, replaces undergrowth and prevents native undershrubs and plants from surviving.
  • At 332, Tamil Nadu has the highest number of naturalised exotics, followed by Kerala (290), while Lakshadweep has the least (17).
  • A majority of these naturalised plants are herbs such as the invasive Siam weed Chromolaena odorata, native to south and central America.

GS II: SOCIAL – HEALTH

Nearly half of head and neck cancer patients die within a year of diagnosis: doc

  • Head and neck (mouth, larynx, throat or nose) cancers account for a large portion of the total number of cancer cases reported in India, and nearly half of the patients with such type of cancers die within a year of diagnosis,said doctors.
  • India reports 1.75 lakh new cases of head and neck cancers every year – 76% of cases are reported in males and 24% in females.
  • Nearly 70% of head and neck cancers are related to consumption of tobacco, areca nut and alcohol, said Harit Chaturvedi, cancer surgeon and chairman of Max Oncology.
  • Doctors have urged people to stay away from tobacco as it is a major cause of head and neck cancers.
  • In India, consumption of chewing tobacco is more prevalent than smoking cigarettes or bidis.
  • Doctors said that nearly 90% of oral and throat cancers are due to tobacco use.
  • India has the dubious distinction of having the largest number of people consuming chewing tobacco in the world.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – BIODIVERSITY

India has potential to be the global leader in tiger conservation: expert

  • Three-year-old tigress T-11 is thriving at Sanjay Dubri National Park in Madhya Pradesh.
  • As the world celebrates Global Tiger Day on July 29, there are number of such success stories of tiger conservation that India can boast of.
  • A few months ago, the first successful inter-state translocation of a pair of tigers was carried out from tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh to Satkosia in Odisha.
  • The results of the ongoing All India Tiger Assessment, 2018, are expected by the end of the year. As per the assessment of the Status of Tigers, Co-predators and Prey (2014), the number of tigers in the country is estimated at 2,226 as compared to the 2010 estimate of 1,706.
  • India being home to 70% of the tiger population in the world can be a global leader in tiger conservation
  • The Ministry of Environment recently said that 45% of the tiger deaths between 2012 and 2017 could be attributed to unnatural reasons. Of the 45%, 22% of the deaths were due to poaching, 15% due to seizures of body parts and the remaining could be attributed to road and railway accidents.
  • Over the past few years, instances of tigers travelling hundreds of kilometres looking for territory has come to the fore.
  • In 2017, 115 tigers died and in 2016, the number of deaths was 122.

GS III: DEFENCE

‘Made in India’ tank engines handed over to the Army

  • Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman handed over two fully indigenous battle tank engines produced by the Engine Factory Avadi (EFA), a unit of Ordnance Factory Board, to Vice-Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Devraj Anbu.
  • The engines, V-46-6 and V92S2, power the T-72 Ajeya and the T-90 Bhishma tanks.
  • She said the “indigenisation of two of the three types of tanks used by the Army, had made the Army battle-ready“.
  • The effort has resulted in savings for the exchequer to the tune of Rs. 33 lakh for the T-90 engine and Rs. 9.75 lakh for the T-72 engine.
  • Anil Kumar, GM, EFA, promised the Defence Minister that the UTD-20 engine would also be indigenised by the end of this fiscal year.
  • The EFA has manufactured more than 12,000 engines since its inception in 1987 for the Indian Army.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

Arsenic contamination in paddy is rising in Bengal, says study

  • A recent publication by researchers at the School of Environmental Studies (SOES), Jadavpur University, reveals not only rise in arsenic contamination of paddy plants from ground water in West Bengal, but also that concentration of ‘arsenic accumulation’ depends on the variety of paddy and its stage in the crop cycle.
  • The study highlights the processes and dependencies of arsenic trans-location in rice from contaminated irrigation water.
  • The study shows that arsenic uptake in the paddy plant reduces from root to grain, and that its concentration is related to the variety of the rice cultivated.
  • The study was carried out on two commonly consumed rice varieties – Minikit and Jaya – and the latter was found to be more resistant to arsenic.
  • The highest concentration was observed in the initial or vegetative state in the first 28 days. It reduced during the reproductive stage (29-56 days) and again increased in the ripening stage.
  • The authors have also raised concerns over the disposal of the contaminated rice straw which is used as animal fodder or burnt or sometimes left in the field itself to serve as fertiliser.

GS II: POLITY- BILL/ACT

Companies pick holes in data protection Bill

  • While the draft Bill for protection of personal data of Indian citizens has been welcomed as a positive start, it is not without loopholes, according to various stakeholders who have called for an in-depth consultative process before the Bill becomes a law.
  • An expert panel headed by Justice B.N. Srikrishna, submitted its report on data protection as well as the draft ‘The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018′ after year-long consultations.
  • “This draft bill is a strong start, but to truly protect the privacy of all Indians, we can’t afford loopholes such as the Bill’s broad exceptions for government use of data and data localisation requirements,” said Mitchell Baker, chairwoman of Mozilla, the company behind Firefox browsers.
  • Mishi Choudhary, managing partner at MCA, pointed out that the recommendations made every offence cognisable and non-bailable, which would create more hurdles for businesses and individuals.
  • In a blog, Mozilla argued that data localisation was bad for business, users and security. “Notwithstanding the protections on processing in the interest of the security of the state, it’s hard to see that this provision is anything but a proxy for enabling surveillance,” it said.
  • A committee member Prof. Rishikesha T. Krishnan, director, IIM, Indore, in his dissent note has said, “The requirement that every data fiduciary should store one live, serving copy of personal data in India is against the basic philosophy of the Internet and imposes additional costs on data fiduciaries without a proportional benefit in advancing the cause of data protection.”

GS III: S&T – BIOTECHNOLOGY

How safe is CRISPR?

  • The clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats, or CRISPR/CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) (CRISPR-Cas9) system has revolutionised genetic manipulations and made gene editing simpler, faster and easily accessible to most laboratories.
  • The technique has gained considerable traction recently to repair defective genes for potential therapeutic applications.
  • Blood-related disorders such as haemophilia, sickle cell anaemia, and Beta-Thalassemia, and other disorders such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy are promising candidates for gene editing.
  • Also, multiple clinical trials have been initiated in the U.S. and China (using the CRISPR-Cas9 system) to produce gene-edited cells for cancer and HIV-1 therapy.
  • In 2017, a study by Stanford University, U.S., found that the CRISPR-Cas9 system introduces unexpected off-target (outside of the intended editing sites) effects in mice.
  • Although the manuscript describing the study results has since been retracted (due to the lack of proper controls ascribing a causal role of the CRISPR-Cas9 system in introducing off-target effects), the fear that the CRISPR system is being prematurely rushed for clinical use lingers.
  • Three recent reports have exacerbated this fear even further.
  • Two studies, one from the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, and the other from the biopharmaceutical company Novartis, have highlighted that CRISPR-Cas9-edited cells might trigger cancer.
  • Another study found that both the mouse and the human gene edited cells suffered from large DNA deletions far from the intended editing sites.

GS II: SOCIAL – HEALTH

Health care, level one

  • Of all the health programmes, Ayushman Bharat is inarguably the biggest and boldest initiative.
  • It deals with strengthening the primary health-care system particularly in rural areas as well as making the hospital care accessible to the poor by providing financial protection against hospitalisation costs.
  • The health facilities at the lowest level (health sub-centres), that currently provide only selective care, are being converted to health and wellness centres (HWCs) to provide comprehensive primary care.
  • Under the government’s prototype, each HWC is to be operated by a well-trained, mid-level health provider (nurse practitioner or community health officer) who will be supported by a team of frontline health workers to provide an expanded package of services.
  • The government has set a deadline of converting nearly 1.5 lakh sub-centres to HWCs by 2022.
  • The scheme is not only to be implemented but also co-funded by States so that they have a stake in it; each State is expected to develop its own road map.
  • Primary health care in India will increasingly become important not just because of the huge resources it will attract (as committed in the National Health Policy 2017) but also because of its role in containing the rising disease burden.

GS II: SOCIAL – HEALTH

A chink in TB’s armour?

  • Chances of developing a new vaccine against the dreaded disease of tuberculosis (TBthrough the biological route have become brighter with researchers at the Kolkata-based Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB) and Bose Institute identifying a potential trouble spot and figuring out ways to deal with it.
  • Scientists across the world have been looking at MPT63, a protein secreted by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes TB, as a potential drug target.
  • The stability, delivery efficiency and specificity of a biologically-derived drug are often optimised by combining it with a nanoparticle.
  • However, the conjugation of a bio-molecule with nanoparticles is easier said than done.
  • The task is particularly difficult when it comes to proteins as they are very dynamic and their structures could change with changes in their environment or their sequence.
  • Consequently, their level of activity can also change. Sometimes, even a slight change in the protein environment or a subtle modification in their sequence can result in a radical change in protein conformation that can transform it from being highly active to being totally dormant or vice-versa.
  • The researchers at the IICB and Bose Institute found that the protein turned inactive when combined with a nanoparticle.
  • But it could be reversed through some careful manipulation of the sequence through genetic engineering.

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