(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
‘Cancer Moonshot’ Project
Part of: Prelims and GS-II -Health
Context: US President Joe Biden has announced a goal of bringing down cancer death rates by 50 per cent by the year 2047 in light of the progress made in cancer therapeutics, diagnostics and patient-driven care.
- The ‘cancer moonshot’ programme was first launched in 2016 by Biden, when he was the Vice President, during the final year of the Barack Obama administration.
- The programme includes various cancer-related projects such as improving immunotherapy, mapping tumours, engaging with patients, addressing drug resistance, early detection and expanding cancer research.
- It is a large group of diseases that can start in almost any organ or tissue of the body when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably, go beyond their usual boundaries to invade adjoining parts of the body and/or spread to other organs.
- The latter process is called metastasizing and is a major cause of death from cancer.
- Most common types of cancer in men: Lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer
- Most common types of cancer among women: Breast, colorectal, lung, cervical and thyroid cancer.
- Cancer remains as one of the leading causes of adult illness and death due to chronic and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) world-over including in India.
Do you know?
- “Moonshot” evokes the space race first triggered by president John F Kennedy in 1962 during the Cold War, when he took up the challenge of sending a man on the Moon before the Russians could.
- His declaration led to the Apollo 11 mission, resulting in the first footsteps taken on the Moon in 1969.
News Source: IE
Vande Bharat Trains
Part of: Prelims and GS-III Infrastructure
Context: The Budget has announced 400 more of these semi-high-speed trains in the next 3 years.
- It comes in addition to the current plan — to be able to run 75 Vande Bharats across India by Independence Day in 2023.
About Vande Bharat
- Vande Bharat is a semi-high speed trainset, each of 16 coaches, and self-propelled — they do not require an engine.
- This is called a distributed traction power system, which is increasingly becoming the norm the world over for passenger operations.
- Distributed power gives the train higher acceleration and deceleration compared to loco-hauled trains, which take a much longer time to reach top speed or to gradually come to a halt.
- Introduced in 2019, the Vande Bharat semi-high speed trains have been a novelty so far.
- Two Vande Bharat trainsets (originally called Train 18) are currently running, both from Delhi — to Varanasi (UP) and Katra (J&K)
News Source: IE
Copper-Based Nanoparticle – Coated Antiviral Face Mask
Part of: Prelims and GS-III Science and technology
Context: A team of Indian Scientists in collaboration with an industry partner have developed a self-disinfecting ‘Copper-based Nanoparticle-coated Antiviral Face Mask to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The mask exhibits high performance against the COVID 19 virus as well as several other viral and bacterial infections.
- It is biodegradable, highly breathable and washable.
- It has been developed under the DST (Department of Science and Technology) sponsored Nano-Mission project, to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
About Nano Mission
- The Government of India launched the Nano Mission in 2007 under the Department of Science and Technology.
- The Ministry of Science and Technology allocated up to Rs 1000 crores to this mission to fulfill its following objectives:
- Basic Promotion of Nanotechnology
- Infrastructure Development
- Establishment of R&D in Nanoscience Applications
- Establishment of Development Centre for Nanosciences
- Human Development in Nanotechnology
- International Collaborations
What is Nanotechnology?
- Nanotechnology (also called nanotech) is a technology that involves the manipulation of matter on atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scales. This includes particles of a scale of 1 to 100 nanometers.
News Source: TH
(News from PIB)
High wave activity in regions over Bay of Bengal, South China Sea, & South Indian Ocean
Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-I: World Geography
In News: A recent study conducted by Indian Scientists has indicated that regions over Bay of Bengal, South China Sea, and South Indian Ocean can experience higher wave activity in the future, posing serious threat for coastal communities in the region.
Importance of the Study
- Coastal communities are one of those most vulnerable to impacts of climate change and other environmental drivers due to their exposure to severe inundation and its frequency associated with extreme water levels in the nearshore regions.
- Impact resulting from coastal inundation can significantly affect the shoreline configuration, damage to infrastructure, saltwater intrusion into groundwater, destruction of crops, and affect the human population with a range of socio-economic consequences.
Scientists around the world are trying the estimate the magnitude of this impact.
- Expected to augment more advanced research on extreme wind-wave activity for the North Indian Ocean region
- Provide the scope for a detailed investigation on the possible linkages and teleconnection with climate indices in a changing climate.
Analysis of the projections have indicated
- Maximum extreme wind and wave activity over the South Indian Ocean region during June-July-August and September-October-November.
- Regions over the central Bay of Bengal show extreme wind activity from the end-century projections, signifying the likelihood for more extreme events.
- Extreme wave heights are seen to intensify by about 1 m over the South Indian Ocean during the June-July-August months.
- An increase of 0.4 m in maximum significant wave heights are projected over regions in the North Indian Ocean, northwest Arabian Sea, northeast Bay of Bengal, and South China Sea.
- Significant increment in sea surface temperature is projected over the Arabian Sea during December-January-February and June-July-August months ranging between 1.5 and 2.0º C, that is 0.5º C greater than Bay of Bengal.
- Regions over the Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf can experience higher warming rates exceeding 2º C under RCP8.5 by the end-century.
Seasonal signatures in the extreme wind-wave patterns over the Indian Ocean directly correlate with the location of extreme wind activity.
News Source: PIB
Completion of Hundred years of Chauri Chaura incident
Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-I: Modern Indian History
In News: The day marks the completion of the 100 years of the ‘Chauri Chaura’ incident, a landmark event in India’s fight for independence.
Important value additions
- The Chauri Chaura incident took place on 4 February 1922 at Chauri Chaura in the Gorakhpur district of the United Province (modern Uttar Pradesh) in British India.
- In this, a large group of protesters participating in the Non-cooperation movement, clashed with police who opened fire.
- In retaliation the demonstrators attacked and set fire to a police station, killing all of its occupants.
- The incident led to the death of three civilians and 22 policemen.
- Mahatma Gandhi, who was strictly against violence, halted the non-co-operation movement on the national level on 12 February 1922, as a direct result of this incident.
News Source: PIB
Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-II: Agriculture
- Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maan Dhan Yojna (PMKMY)
- Aims to provide social security net for the Small and Marginal Farmers (SMF) by way of pension, as they have minimal or no savings to sustain their livelihood during their old age and to support them in the event of consequent loss of livelihood.
- Under this scheme, a minimum fixed pension of Rs.3,000/-per month will be provided to the eligible small and marginal farmers, subject to certain exclusion clauses, on attaining the age of 60 years.
- The Scheme is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme, with entry age of 18 to 40 years.
- Bhartiya Prakritik Krishi Padhati (BPKP)
- A sub scheme of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) for the promotion of traditional indigenous practices including Natural Farming.
- The scheme mainly emphasises on exclusion of all synthetic chemical inputs and promotes on-farm biomass recycling with major stress on biomass mulching, use of cow dung-urine formulations and other plant-based preparations.
- ICAR (Indian Council of Agriculture Research) has constituted a committee for developing syllabus and curricula of Natural farming at under graduate and post graduate level.
- Organic farming schemes
- Government is implementing dedicated organic farming schemes of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) and Mission Organic Value Chain Development in North East Region (MOVCDNER) since 2015-16 to encourage farmers to produce organic manure and to promote organic farming of foodgrains in the country.
- Under these schemes, farmers are primarily encouraged to adopt organic cultivation using organic inputs and support is provided to the farmers for various components from production to value addition, certification and marketing of organic produce.
- Hands-on training to farmers for on-farm production of organic manure/ organic fertilisers and its use are integral part of these schemes.
- National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA)
Aiming at strategic research on adaptation and mitigation, demonstration of technologies on farmers’ fields and creating awareness among farmers and other stakeholders.
Steps that have been taken in the field of climate smart agriculture:
- Developed climate resilient varieties for different abiotic and biotic stresses in major crops. So far 8 climate resilient varieties have been released in rice, green gram, maize and lentil;
- Developed and popularized 65 location-specific climate resilient/smart technologies for wider adoption among the farming communities;
- Prepared 650 district agricultural contingency plans and sensitized State officials for preparedness through 54 State-level interface meetings;
- Developed, evaluated and commercialized implements (raised bed planter-cum-herbicide applicator, maize harvester, zero till planter, etc.) for small farm mechanization suiting to dryland ecologies;
- Climate smart technologies developed involving farmers in risk assessment and adaptation techniques in 151 clusters covering 446 villages, with a footprint of 2,13,421 households, on 2,35,874 hectares of land;
- Capacity building programs have been taken up involving 5.15 lakhs comprising researchers, farmers, entrepreneurs, line department officials, policy makers and NGOs in the field of climate resilient agriculture.
- There is no proposal for creation of National Agriculture Disaster Management scheme to tackle the issues of sudden climatic changes and other issues which are becoming more frequent.
- However, every Ministry/Department is mandated to prepare a Disaster Management plan under Sections 36/37 of Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005.
- Accordingly, Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has prepared a National Agriculture Disaster Management Plan (NADMP) to include key aspects of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) that address climate change adaptation and sustainable development goals related to the agriculture sector.
News Source: PIB
Defence Industrial Corridors (DICs)
- Uttar Pradesh Defence Industrial Corridor (UPDIC)
- Tamil Nadu Defence Industrial Corridor (TNDIC)
- Aim: To attract investment of about Rs 10,000 crore in each corridor
- Significance: To catalyse indigenous production of defence and aerospace-related items, thereby reducing our reliance on imports and promoting export of these items to other countries which may create ample employment opportunities and growth of private domestic manufacturers; Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs); and start-ups.
- GS-1: Issues relating to Women
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
Sex and violence: On Marital Rape
Context: Union government informed the Delhi High Court that it was having a relook at its position on marital rape spelt out over five years ago.
- Union Minister for Women and Child Development remarked in Parliament that the Government was engaged in a process to introduce comprehensive amendments to criminal law and that it was considering criminalising of marital rape as a part of it.
Do You Know?
- About 70% of women in India are victims of domestic violence.
- National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) ‘Crime in India’ 2019 report shows that a woman is raped every 16 minutes, and every four minutes, she experiences cruelty at the hands of her in-laws.
- An analysis of National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2015-16 data indicates that an estimated 99.1 per cent of sexual violence cases go unreported
- The average Indian woman is 17 times more likely to face sexual violence from her husband than from others.
What is Marital Rape?
- Marital rape, the act of forcing your spouse into having sex without proper consent
- It is an unjust yet not uncommon way to degrade and disempower women.
How does Indian Law regime deal with Marital Rape?
- One of the most horrifying and repressive issues with the Indian legal regime is that marital rape is perfectly legal
- Section 375 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) defines the offence of rape with the help of six descriptions. One of the exceptions to this offence is “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 18 years of age, is not rape”.
What is the Criticism of India’s Legal regime on Marital Rape?
- Against Right to Life and Right to Equality: The Supreme Court has included sanctity of women, and freedom to make choices related to sexual activity under the ambit of Article 21. Therefore, this exception clause is violative of Article 14 and Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
- Patriarchal outlook of Laws: Rape laws in our country continue with the patriarchal outlook of considering women to be the property of men post marriage, with no autonomy or agency over their bodies. They deny married women equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Indian constitution.
- Differentiates Married & Unmarried women: A married woman has the same right to control her own body as does an unmarried woman. Unfortunately, this principle is not upheld in Indian rape laws.
- Marital Rape is more dangerous to Women’s life: Rape is rape, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator, and age of the survivor. A woman who is raped by a stranger, lives with a memory of a horrible attack; a woman who is raped by her husband lives with her rapist.
- Not a threat to institution of Family: The country has adopted a domestic violence law that enables complaints against physical and sexual abuse. Therefore, making marital rape a criminal offence is unlikely to ruin the institution of marriage any more than a complaint of domestic violence or cruelty would.
- Against International Norm: Today, it has been impeached in more than 100 countries but, unfortunately, India is one of the only 36 countries where marital rape is still not criminalized
- Concerns of Implied Consent: The concept of marital rape in India is the epitome of what we call an “implied consent”. Marriage between a man and a woman here implies that both have consented to sexual intercourse and it cannot be otherwise. The Indian Penal Code, 1860, also communicates the same.
- Outdated notion of Marriage: The exception given to marital rape harks back, as the report by the Justice J.S. Verma committee noted while recommending its removal, to an outdated notion of marriage that treated the wife as the husband’s property.
- Against Autonomy of Married Women: Looking at marriage through the lens of ‘coverture’ — the view that the wife is under the husband’s authority always — should not be allowed to override the autonomy of married women over their person.
- Colonial Hangover: Our penal laws, handed down from the British, have by and large remained untouched even after 73 years of independence. But English laws have been amended and marital rape was criminalised way back in 1991. No Indian government has, however, so far shown an active interest in remedying this problem.
- Violative of UN Convention: Section 375 (Exception) of IPC is inconsistent with and violative of these principles of United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women
- Does not pass the test of “intelligible differentia”: Essentially, Section 375 (Exception) creates a classification not only between consent given by a married and unmarried woman, but also between married females below 15 years of age and over 15 years old. Such a classification does not pass the test of “intelligible differentia
Why is government reluctant on criminalising marital rape?
- Government is of the opinion that criminalising marital rape will destabilises the institution of marriage, given the immense significance the institution has in Indian Society.
- Government also remarked in the Parliament that it would not be advisable to condemn every marriage as a violent one, and every man a rapist.
- In 2016, the Government had rejected the concept of marital rape, saying it “cannot be applied to the Indian context due to various factors like level of education/illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs and the mindset of the society to treat marriage as a sacrament”.
- In 2017, the Government had opposed the removal of the exception in Section 375 of the IPC that deals with rape.
- Criminalising Marital Rape: In 2013, the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) recommended that the Indian government should criminalize marital rape. JS Verma committee set up in 2012 also recommended the same.
- Judicial Guidelines: Courts should not indefinitely delay in ruling on the constitutionality of the existing exception in rape law.
- Revamp of other legislations: The notion of ‘implied consent’ within marriage is also reflected in marriage laws that allow for “restitution of conjugal rights”, a remedy that either party to a marriage may avail of. Thus, there is a need to revamp whole range of legislations that are continues with Victorian morality.
Connecting the dots:
- GS-2: Indian Constitution—significant provisions and basic structure.
- GS-2: Fundamental Rights
Freedom of religion and attire
Context: Six students wearing a hijab were banned from entering a college in Karnataka’s Udupi district. This has revived the debate on over whether educational institutions can impose a strict dress code that could interfere with rights of students.
- The issue throws up legal questions on reading the freedom of religion and whether the right to wear a hijab is constitutionally protected
How is religious freedom protected under the Constitution?
- Article 25(1) of the Constitution guarantees the “freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion”.
- It is a right that guarantees a negative liberty — which means that the state shall ensure that there is no interference or obstacle to exercise this freedom.
- However, like all fundamental rights, the state can restrict the right for grounds of public order, decency, morality, health and other state interests.
- Over the years, the Supreme Court has evolved a practical test of sorts to determine what religious practices can be constitutionally protected and what can be ignored.
- In 1954, the Supreme Court held in the Shirur Mutt case that the term “religion” will cover all rituals and practices “integral” to a religion. The test to determine what is integral is termed the “essential religious practices” test.
What are the criticisms of “Essential religious practices” test?
- A judicial determination of religious practices that are considered as essential, has often been criticised by legal experts as Judicial Overreach as it pushes the court to go into theological spaces.
- In several instances, the court has applied the test to keep certain practices out.
- In a 2004 ruling, the Supreme Court held that the Ananda Marga sect had no fundamental right to perform Tandava dance in public streets, since it did not constitute an essential religious practice of the sect.
- In criticism of the test, scholars agree that it is better for the court to prohibit religious practices for public order rather than determine what is so essential to a religion that it needs to be protected.
- There are instances in which the court has applied the test to individual freedoms as well. For example, in 2016, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court upheld the discharge of a Muslim airman from the Indian Air Force for keeping a beard.
- It distinguished the case of a Muslim airman from that of Sikhs who are allowed to keep a beard.
- The court essentially held that keeping a beard was not an essential part of Islamic practices.
How have courts ruled so far on the issue of a hijab?
- While courts have dealt on the right of Muslim women to dress according to the tenets of Islam, two set of rulings of the Kerala High Court throw up conflicting answers.
- In 2015, at least two petitions were filed before the Kerala High Court challenging the prescription of dress code for All India Pre-Medical Entrance by CBSE which prescribed wearing “light clothes with half sleeves not having big buttons, brooch/badge, flower, etc. with Salwar/Trouser” and “slippers and not shoes”.
- Kerala HC directed the CBSE to put in place additional measures for checking students who “intend to wear a dress according to their religious custom, but contrary to the dress code”.
- Keral HC noted that is also desirable that the CBSE issue general instructions to its Invigilators to ensure that religious sentiments be not hurt and at the same time discipline be not compromised.
- In Amna Bint Basheer v Central Board of Secondary Education (2016), the Kerala HC examined the issue more closely. Justice P B Suresh Kumar, who allowed the plea by the student, held that the practice of wearing a hijab constitutes an essential religious practice but did not quash the CBSE rule.
- The court once again allowed for the “additional measures” and safeguards put in place the previous year.
- But both these cases involve restrictions placed on the freedom of religion for a specific purpose — to ensure a fair examination process — and the CBSE had cited a resource crunch to check every candidate if they allowed autonomy in choosing their dress.
- However, on the issue of a uniform prescribed by a school, another Bench ruled differently in Fathima Tasneem v State of Kerala (2018).
- A single Bench of the Kerala HC held that collective rights of an institution would be given primacy over individual rights of the petitioner.
Connecting the dots
- The future of Secularism
- Right to Privacy
(Down to Earth: Agriculture)
Feb 2: Union Budget 2022-23: How will ‘Kisan Drones’ benefit farmers? – https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/agriculture/union-budget-2022-23-how-will-kisan-drones-benefit-farmers-experts-ask-81371
- GS-3: Agriculture
Union Budget 2022-23: How will ‘Kisan Drones’ benefit farmers?
Context: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced during her Budget speech that the Centre will promote ‘Kisan Drones’ to help farmers assess crops, digitise land records as well as spray insecticides and nutrients.
Experts are skeptical about the plan and questioned what it has for the farmers. “Will it increase the farmers’ income?”
Drones are not a crying need of the sector as there are bigger problems plaguing the sector that need urgent attention
On doubling farmer’s income
- The government set 2022 as a target for doubling farmers’ income. But there is no indication on whether it can be accomplished by this year in the Budget.
On spraying pesticides and nutrients
- Spraying pesticides and fertilisers might help but will benefit industries the most.
- In 2021, the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare brought out a standard operating procedure for spraying pesticides and nutrients through drones. The document provides instructions on the effective and safe use of these flying robots.
- The idea behind using drones could be to reduce human exposure to poisonous chemicals, the experts said.
- But considering India’s huge employment crisis, it might not be a wise move.
- One way to make it safe for farmers is to use less harmful chemicals and organic pest management methods. That would be a better way than replacing humans with machines to do dangerous work.
- Crop assessment using drones will help crop insurance companies and big farmers, not small and marginal farmers.
On digitizing land records
The Centre had earlier envisioned using drones to digitise land records. These flying objects will survey the land, the government proposed, and officials can use the data to match with recorded information, according to the plan.
- This technology, however, will not help solve property disputes, and instead, they will recreate the problem in the digital world.
- The digitised data could be used to build Agristak, a collection of technology-based interventions in agriculture proposed by the Centre.
- Relying on this application, however, the government runs the risk of excluding women (if the land is in the name of the male head of the household), tenant farmers, sharecroppers and agricultural labourers from schemes.
- Digitisation could also lead to privacy issues. There is no data protection law as of now. The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, was tabled in Parliament December 16, 2021.
- The centre has set aside Rs 60 crore for digital agriculture. At this point, it is not clear if ‘Kisan Drones’ will receive a share of it.
- The government has also not clearly outlined how it plans to promote the drones
Potential Use of drones in Agriculture
Drone services is an emerging market that finds application in agriculture, construction, search and rescue, package delivery, industrial inspection, insurance and videography. The Union Civil Aviation Ministry estimated India’s drone sector’s turnover will reach Rs 12,000-15,000 crore by 2026 from Rs 8,000 lakh in 2021.But the government needs to provide more details.
- Multi-features: Drones are well-equipped with many features like multi-spectral and photo cameras.
- Monitor: It can be used in many areas of the agriculture sector such as monitoring crop stress, plant growth, predicting yields, and delivering props.
- Assessment: Drones can be used for assessing the health of any vegetation or crop, field areas inflicted by weeds.
- Optimisation: Based on this assessment, the exact amounts of chemicals needed to fight these infestations
- Planting systems: Drone planting systems have also been developed which allow drones to shoot pods. This technology increases consistency and efficiency of crop management.
- Mitigating attacks: The drones were also used for the first time in warding off the locust attacks in various states.
The idea is not to ignore these technologies but use them in a manner that benefits farmers effectively.
Can you answer the following questions?
- How will ‘Kisan Drones’ benefit farmers? Discuss
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding Nano Mission:
1. It was launched under the Ministry of Education.
2. Recently self-disinfecting ‘Copper-based’ face mask has been developed under the mission.
Which of the above is or are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Vande Bharat trains:
1. It is self-propelled and does not require an engine.
2. It is the fastest operating train running between Delhi and Mumbai.
Which of the above is or are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Q.3 Cancer Moonshot Project is launched by Which of the following country?
ANSWERS FOR 4th Feb 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
On merit-reservation binary:
On India-UK Free trade deal: