IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 20th June 2019
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Cancer Cell detection ‘dots’ developed from coal
Part of Prelims and mains GS III Science and Technology
- A team of scientists in Assam has developed a chemical process that turns ‘dirty’ coal into a biomedical ‘dot’ to help detect cancer cells.
- It is a chemical method of producing carbon quantum dots (CQDs) from cheap, abundant, low-quality and high-sulphur coals.
- CQDs are carbon-based nanomaterials whose size is less than 10 nm, or nanometre.
- Carbon-based nanomaterials are used as diagnostic tools for bio-imaging, especially in detecting cancer cells, for chemical sensing and in opto-electronics.
- CSIR-NEIST team developed fluorescent carbon nanomaterials at one-twentieth the cost of imported CQDs
- The CQDs that the CSIR-NEIST team developed emit a bluish colour with “high-stability, good-conductivity, low-toxicity, environmental friendliness, and good optical properties.
- CQDs are futuristic materials whose demand in India has been increasing leading to a considerable volume of import.
General studies 2:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
General studies 3:
- Conservation, Environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
- Water Pollution, Wastewater management
Water Crisis in the making
While water deprivation is especially acute in regions like Marathwada in Maharashtra, it afflicts large parts of India with varying degrees of severity.
- Some parts of Karnataka, for example, shut schools for an extra week on account of water scarcity.
- Incidents of violence over water have been reported from across the country.
- In Madhya Pradesh, which has had several water related clashes, the state government asked superintendents of police of all 52 districts to guard water sources.
This is unprecedented. It also portends a future of worsening strife over what many of us take for granted.
2018 NITI Aayog report: The scale of the water crisis in perspective
- India has only 4% of the planet’s fresh-water for 16% of its population.
- According to the NITI Aayog report, India is the world’s biggest groundwater extractor.
- As things stand, it forecasts that 21 cities, including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad, will run out of groundwater by 2020.
- 40% of our citizens will have no access to drinking water by 2030.
- As many as 600 million people are already estimated to face “high-to-extreme” water stress every year.
Crisis in the making:
This crisis had been in the making for decades, with ecologists who warned of development myopia brushed aside in favour of concrete signs of economic success.
- All manner of structures have encroached upon lakes and rivers with impunity, while industrial waste and sewage inflows render various water bodies toxic.
- The problem is compounded by the large-scale adoption of thermocol and plastic plates and glasses even in the countryside, the non-biodegradable wastes ends up killing rural pools of water that have traditionally served entire villages.
- Groundwater levels, meanwhile, have fallen calamitously.
In the farm sector, because of the practice of flood irrigation and switchovers to water-soaking crops such as sugarcane and rice.
- Water theft by tanker gangs does much of the harm. Water-tanker operators profit by digging borewells, often illegally and under political patronage, to sell water at scandalous prices to the needy. The phenomenon is so rampant that the pace of groundwater extraction invariably outstrips the rate of aqueous recharge.
The government’s aim of assuring every citizen piped water by 2024 is indeed laudable. For that goal to be met, however, many challenges need to be overcome.
- Agriculture would need to conserve water through drip irrigation and other methods.
- Groundwater replenishment will have to be done in mission mode.
- Rainwater harvesting must turn voluminous.
- For now, perhaps tanker gangs could be put out of business by state water supplies.
Connecting the dots:
- Water deprivation afflicts large parts of India with varying degrees of severity. In this light comment on the challenges to achieve the goal of piped water to every citizen by 2024.
TOPIC: General studies 2:
- Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
Securing neutrality and security of tenure for the Speaker
A watchful Parliament forms the foundation of a well-functioning democracy. The presiding officers of Parliament are the key to securing the effectiveness of this institution. The MPs look to the presiding officers (Speaker in LS and Chairman in RS) to facilitate debate, protect their rights and uphold the dignity of Parliament.
Importance of securing neutrality and security of tenure:
- The primary challenge before the Speaker is to conduct the proceedings of the Lok Sabha free from disruptions. To do so, the Speaker will have to earn the trust of the Members of Parliament: One way to earn the trust of MPs will be by being neutral, both in practice and perception while running the House.
- With no security in the continuity of office, the Speaker is dependent on his or her political party for reelection. This makes the Speaker susceptible to pulls and pressures from her/his political party in the conduct of the proceedings of the Lok Sabha.
Securing the neutrality of the Speaker:
It is a question that experts in India have been grappling with for 60-plus years.
- In his 1952 acceptance speech as Speaker of the first Lok Sabha, G V Mavalankar said: “We have yet to evolve political parties and healthy conventions about Speakership, the principle of which is that, once a Speaker he is not opposed by any party in the matter of his election, whether in the constituency or in the House, so long as he wishes to continue as Speaker.”
- In 1951 and 1953, the Conference of Presiding Officers of legislatures in India passed a resolution for the adoption of the British Convention. It was unable to make much headway.
In Britain, the promise of continuity in office for many terms is used to ensure the Speaker’s impartiality.
- By convention, political parties (usually) do not field a candidate against the Speaker at the time of general elections.
- The Speaker can continue in office, until deciding otherwise.
- The Speaker also gives up the membership of his/her political party.
Maintaining neutrality of speaker towards all the political parties and securing his/her tenure is a reform long due. The government should re-think on introducing the British convention.
Speaker needs to be vigilant to defend the sanctity of the institution and also have the vision to strengthen it. In this challenging journey, the guiding light should be the Constitution and the rules of procedure of Lok Sabha.
Connecting the dots:
- Discuss the importance of securing neutrality and security of tenure for the Speaker in Lok Sabha.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) India has opened its first specialised hydrotherapy treatment for elephants
- None of the above
Q.2) Consider the following statements
- Carbon quantum dots (CQDs)are carbon-based nanomaterials whose size is less than 10 nm, or nanometre.
- CQDs can be used to detect and treat cancer cells in human bodies.
Select the correct statements
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.3) Sashakt Committee recently seen in news is related to
- None of the above
The forgotten funds
A coup and a crisis
The next structural change
For effective regulation of the country’s education system