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The Hindu Analysis Free PDF Download

Date: 13 October 2020

Gene editing, the good first and then the worries

  • Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2020
  • The two scientists have pioneered the use of CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) – Cas9 (CRISPR-associated protein 9) system as a gene-editing tool.
  • In a short period of eight years since its discovery, the method has already made a significant impact in biology, medicine, and agriculture.

PCR (polymerase chain reaction) was invented by _______ in ____ year?

  • The discovery of CRISPR can be traced back to 1987.
  • This was when a group of Japanese researchers observed an unusual homologous DNA sequence bearing direct repeats with spacing in a eubacterial gene.
  • Several important discoveries followed.
  • In subsequent years, Francisco Mojica, Rodolphe Barrangou, Luciano Marraffini and Erik Sontheimer discovered CRISPR and showed it to be a bacterial adaptive immune system and to act on DNA targets.
  • A notable discovery on the use of CRISPR as a gene-editing tool was by a Lithuanian biochemist, Virginijus Šikšnys, in 2012.
  • Šikšnys showed that Cas9 could cut purified DNA in a test tube, the same discovery for which both Charpentier and Doudna were given the credit.
  • This is especially noteworthy when Siksnys along with Charpentier and Doudna shared another coveted award, the Kavli Prize for Nanoscience, in 2018.
  • The Nobel committee recognised Charpentier and Doudna as the sole discovers for programming a Cas9 protein to cut a piece of DNA at a specific site with the help of a small piece of RNA, thereby proving the ability of CRISPR-Cas9 to function as a gene-editing tool.
  • In India, there is a long way to go before realising the utility of gene editing for therapeutic applications.
  • The World Health Organization formed a panel of gene-editing experts which said “a central registry of all human genome editing research was needed in order to create an open and transparent database of ongoing work.
  • In India, several rules, guidelines, and policies backed by the “Rules for the Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms/Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells, 1989” notified under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, regulate genetically modified organisms.
  • The above Act and the National Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical and Health Research involving human participants, 2017, by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and the Biomedical and Health Research Regulation Bill implies regulation of the gene-editing process.
  • The purpose of protests
  • The recent order of the Supreme Court on the protests in Shaheen Bagh in Delhi can help the state or the government further subjugate the people, and that too lawfully.
  • The court made the dangerous observation that “the mode and manner of dissent against colonial rule cannot be equated with dissent in a self-ruled democracy.”
  • The term “self-ruled” is a trap.
  • The temptation to colonise was not unique to the British.
  • The state in itself is coercive, and people have to be eternally alert so that they are not robbed of their sovereignty.
  • Resistance to authority or protest is thus intrinsic to citizenship or peoplehood.
  • Protests cannot be made to order. Protests are speech acts.
  • What to speak and how to say it is something you and I decide.
  • People protest because they feel that they have been forced into an unequal situation.
  • Protests attempt to gain or restore equality.
  • Protests arise simply because the governments create a crisis — that too by lawful means, through the passage of discriminatory laws.
  • Protests do not disturb the balance in society; they erupt only because a balance has been upset.
  • The court equated the two and felt that there had to be a balance between the right to mobility and the right to protest.
  • The court was convinced that the prolonged sit-in caused traffic snarls and violated the right to mobility of the people.

Towards cleaner air in Delhi

  • With air pollution returning to pre-COVID levels, it is opportune that the Delhi administration has launched a major anti-pollution campaign this month.
  • The campaign is rightly focused on cutting the deadly smoke from thermal plants and brick kilns in the National Capital Region as well as on chemical treatment of stubble burning from nearby States.
  • Delhi’s long-term solution will depend importantly also on abating emissions from transportation.
  • This agenda could cut air pollution from all sources combined by one-quarter to one-third by 2025, which, if sustained, could extend people’s lives by two-three years, ameliorating respiratory complications from COVID-19.
  • Particulate matter, PM2.5 and PM10, exceed national standards and the more stringent World Health Organization limits.
  • Delhi’s toxic air also contains high doses of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. The lack of wind worsens the pollutant concentration.
  • Delhi needs a 65% reduction to meet the national standards for PM2.5.
  • Vehicles, including trucks and two-wheelers, contribute 20%-40% of the PM2.5 concentrations.
  • A three-part action comprises emissions standards, public transport, and electric vehicles.
  • The first part is stricter enforcement of emission controls — and a willingness to impose tougher penalties.
  • The second prong is reducing private vehicles on the road by strengthening public transport.
  • The third prong, even if longer term, involves electric vehicles (EVs).
  • Citizen participation and the media are vital for sharing the message on pollution and health, using data such as those from the Central Pollution Control Board.

The tyranny of TRPs

  • In India, no one wants to be regulated.
  • The judges believe that they can self-regulate better than the National Judicial Appointments Commission ever can.
  • The media, especially television media, swears by self-regulation.
  • Energy regulators are mostly parking places for retired civil servants, few of whom have the guts to implement genuine ‘open access’ or tariff fixation.
  • About 550 million individuals tune into the TV daily and spend roughly 3.45 hours per day watching TV.
  • The industry boasts of more than 800 channels across various genres.
  • Of the total revenue of about ₹66,000 crore, about 40% is attributable to advertising and 60% to distribution and subscription services.
  • India’s total advertising market is $10 billion-$12 billion, of which digital advertising is about $2 billion, according to Dentsu in 2020.
  • I have unlearnt everything I learnt in statistics to make sense of the fact that about 22,000 bar-o-meters (or 44,000 households) are used to distribute digital advertising goodies worth about ₹25,000 crore.
  • Don’t ever ask how 22,000 bar-o-meters can be statistically significant to explain a TV viewing universe of 200 million households (Z-Tests and P-values be damned, they matter only for PhD theses, not in the real world).
  • Netflix and YouTube not only know what you watched and how long you watched it, but also what else you may like and what you may ignore.
  • If you take Ofcom or the Federal Communications Commission, the two main independent regulators in the U.K. and the U.S., respectively, they consist usually of government-appointed officials along with distinguished members from the corporate world.
  • Do we want BARC ‘self-regulation’ or an independent authority established by a constitutionally elected government?

NEWS

  • FM Nirmala Sitharaman announces fiscally prudent proposals to tune of Rs 73,000 cr to boost demand
  • Rajnath Singh dedicates 44 bridges to the nation located in seven states & UTs
  • COVID-19 recovery rate improves to 86.36 pct
  • Seven Indian nationals abducted in Libya released
  • Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson jointly win 2020 Nobel Prize in Economics
  • PM Modi releases Rs 100 commemorative coin in honour of Vijaya Raje Scindia
  • India sees Kuwait as trusted partner in achieving energy security: Dharmendra Pradhan
  • Health Ministry’s telemedicine service ‘eSanjeevani’ completes 5 lakh tele-consultations
  • SC seeks Centre's response on pleas challenging constitutionality of farm laws
  • 32 crore mandays employment provided under Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan
  • Bangladesh cabinet approves capital punishment for rape
  • FATF's Asia Pacific Group keeps Pakistan on ‘enhanced follow-up list’ for slow progress against terror financing
  • Bangladesh-India ties have reached new height: Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader