TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related HEALTH 1. Alzheimer's gene neutralised in human brain for first time 2. NGO files PIL against govt ban on rapid antibody kits for malaria 3. Prolonged use of antacids harms kidneys: Doctors 4. What ails India's battle against TB: Patients not completing treatment 5. IIT Ropar develops technique for early diagnosis of breast cancer INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. India’s membership to NSG: Delhi works on Beijing to drop objections on n-club entry 2. U.S., Russia clash at U.N. over chemical weapons attacks in Syria C. GS3 Related ECONOMY 1. Google appeals Competition Commission of India's ruling over alleged search bias 2. Govt may raise stake in GSTN to 100 per cent 3. India could face high inflation, low growth SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 1. ISRO set to launch first privately built satellite today D. GS4 Related E. Editorials GOVERNANCE 1. Supreme order 2. A conclave for federalism F. Prelims Fact G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS2 Related
1. Alzheimer’s gene neutralised in human brain for first time
- In a first, scientists have identified and successfully erased the effects of a key gene that significantly increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Having one copy of the apoE4 gene more than doubles a person’s likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and having two copies of the gene increases the risk by 12-fold, as compared to the most common version of the gene, apoE3.
- The apoE4 gene creates a protein of the same name.The apoE4 protein differs from the apoE3 protein at only one point, but that single change is enough to alter its main structure and, thus, its function.
- Researchers from the Gladstone Institutes in the US were also able to erase the damage caused by apoE4 by changing it, with a small molecule, into a harmless apoE3-like version.
- Most Alzheimer’s research and drug development are done in mouse models of the disease.
- However, a succession of clinical trial failures has spurred scientists to turn to other models. Instead, researchers decided to use human cells to model the disease and test new drugs.
- They were able to examine, for the first time, the effect of apoE4 on human brain cells.To do so, they created neurons from skin cells donated by Alzheimer’s patients with two copies of the apoE4 gene, as well as from healthy individuals who had two copies of the apoE3 gene.
- The researchers confirmed that, in human neurons, the misshapen apoE4 protein cannot function properly and is broken down into disease-causing fragments in the cells.
- Researchers then examined brain cells that did not produce either form of the apoE protein, and the neurons looked and functioned just like cells with apoE3.
- However, if they added apoE4, the cells became riddled with pathologies related to Alzheimer’s disease.
- This discovery indicates that the presence of apoE4 – and not the absence of apoE3 – promotes the disease.
- Finally, researchers looked for ways to repair the abnormalities caused by apoE4.
- They developed a class of compounds that can change the structure of the harmful apoE4 protein so it resembles the innocuous apoE3 protein, referred to as apoE4 structure correctors.
- Treating human apoE4 neurons with a structure corrector eliminated the signs of Alzheimer’s disease, restored normal function to the cells, and improved cell survival.
2. NGO files PIL against govt ban on rapid antibody kits for malaria
In the PIL, filed in the Bombay High Court, the NGO stated that doctors commonly use the rapid antibody test kits for initiating treatment for malaria.
- Days after the central government banned manufacture, distribution and sale of rapid diagnostic test kits to detect the antibody for malaria, the All Food and Drug Licence Holders Foundation (AFDLHF) has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in court against the ban, claiming it will hamper blood donation and blood testing drives.
- While these kits may not be useful for malaria treatment due to questionable accuracy, they play an important role during blood donation procedure, the petitioner said.
- The test is required for blood donation due to its availability, low price and detection of the malaria parasite within few minutes.
- On March 23, the Union health ministry issued a notification stating use of rapid test for routine diagnosis of malaria was not accurate. An expert committee set up by the Union government opined that use of rapid test as serological test often resulted in false positives or false negatives, a condition in which test results come contrary to patient’s infection.
- The ministry also observed that the test sometimes detects past infection due to presence of antibodies in body. An antibody is what body produces to fight an infection. In certain cases, antibodies continue to remain even if infection is over.
Impact of ban
- Ideally, a blood donor must be tested for the malaria antibody before donating blood. If this test is banned, it will hamper the blood donation process. The alternative, an ELISA test, can take two to three hours to show results. If a blood sample is tested after donation is done and comes positive for malaria, the blood will go in waste.
- Several pathologist and technicians, however, said that all donated blood units are tested only once donation is complete across all government blood donation camps. A donated blood unit undergoes tests for five diseases- HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis, and malaria.
- If rapid antibody is banned, we still have antigen and smear test available in the urban areas. The ban may adversely impact rural and tribal areas where rapid tests are rampant. In rural regions, there is dearth of technicians and pathologist to physically examine blood smears for malaria.
- It requires specialisation. In such places, rapid diagnostic kits are commonly used. Patients in such areas may face a problem.In urban centres physicians and diagnostic laboratories can switch to other two methods with ease.
3. Prolonged use of antacids harms kidneys: Doctors
- Recent global studies suggesting that the prolonged use of widely prescribed anti-acidity pills to treat gas and heartburn might be linked to long-term kidney damage, acute renal disease and chronic kidney disease have sparked fresh debate in the medical community here.
- Though a few initial reports about the association of these drugs — also called PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) — with kidney disease have been published in reputed international medical journals over the last couple of years, it is only now that there are studies suggesting that it’s more serious and linked to both acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease.
- PPIs rank among the top-10 prescribed classes of drugs and are commonly used to treat acid reflux, indigestion, and peptic ulcers. They are prescribed across specialities, from orthopaedics and cardiology to internal medicine and surgery.
- PPIs should be ideally prescribed in the approved indications, if possible for less than eight weeks. Beyond this, if a patient is on PPIs, kidney function and magnesium levels need monitoring.
- Most patients do not know about side-effects like CKD (chronic kidney disease) as in the early stages CKD from any cause usually shows no symptom. Though no advisory has been issued against the medicine, drug regulatory authorities will be informed.
4. What ails India’s battle against TB: Patients not completing treatment
- Nearly one in five multidrug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis (TB) patients put on treatment in the public sector were lost to follow-up (LFU). This means that they either did not start treatment or their treatment was disrupted for more than two months.
India and TB
- India has approximately 2.8 million TB patients, a quarter of the world’s total TB cases. Of these 147,000 cases (5.4 per cent) are MDR TB cases–resistant to the first line TB drugs rifampicin and isoniazid. These cases are more difficult and expensive to treat.
- While the number of TB cases fell from 2015 to 2016, the number of MDR TB cases increased by 13 per cent, IndiaSpend reported in November 2017.
- Of 24,354 MDR TB patients recorded in the treatment initiation register between 2014 and 2015, 11,446 (47 per cent) were successfully treated of which 7,796 (32 per cent) were cured and 3,563 (14 per cent) completed treatment.
- Further, 4,873 (20 per cent) died and 4,697 (19 per cent) were lost to follow-up, 562 (2 per cent) failed treatment while 2,863 (12 per cent) were transferred out or switched to XDR (extensively drug resistant) TB regimen, according to the India TB report 2018, released on March 24, 2018.
- These numbers are from treatment initiation registers and should not be used as an indicator for efficiency of treatment/initiation, the report said.
5. IIT Ropar develops technique for early diagnosis of breast cancer
- The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Ropar, has proposed a technique for early detection of breast cancer in women of all ages, including pregnant or nursing women, irrespective of the breast type.
Infrared Thermography (IRT)
- A novel pulse compression favourable active infrared thermography makes use of infrared emission emanating from the breast to detect hidden tumours inside it at very early stage for predefined thermal stimulus (a stimulus produced by a change in skin temperature) on a breast under examination.
- Infrared Thermography (IRT) is a fast, painless, non-contact and non-invasive imaging method, complementary to mammography, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging methods for early diagnosis of breast cancer.
- The widely used mammography showed its limitations in detecting tumours present in the dense breast. Dense breasts had less fat and more gland tissue in comparison to the fatty breasts which restricts mammography to detect tumours with confidence.
- Especially for the tumours situated in the gland region of breast due to the insignificant density variations between the gland and tumour regions, mammography fails to provide enough radiographic contrast between the tumour location and healthy region of the breast.
- This limits the applicability of mammography in screening of dense breasts. Also, mammography provides discomfort to the patient and exposure to harmful ionising radiation further restricts its applicability. However, the present active IRT technique outperforms the standard method of mammography by providing patient friendly breast screening.
1. India’s membership to NSG: Delhi works on Beijing to drop objections on n-club entry
- Emboldened by its entry into three of the four multilateral export control regimes over the last two years, India once again reached out to China and tried to convince the interlocutors in Beijing to lift their objections at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
- In a step forward, the Indian side indicated that both sides emphasised the importance of bilateral dialogue.
- The NSG is the top club of countries which controls access to technology and guards against proliferation. Its membership is important for India to access cutting-edge high technology.
- India became a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime in June 2016. This was followed by its entry into the Wassenaar arrangement in December 2017 and the Australia Group in January 2018.
- Earlier, the strategy was to approach the entry into the four export control regimes as a package. But as India faced China’s objections at the NSG, it decided to approach the four regimes separately.
- This strategy of approaching all the export control regimes in an individual and case-to-case basis has made India’s claim much stronger and more credible.
- China has sought to club India and Pakistan together, on the basis of both being non-signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and has asked the NSG countries to adopt a criteria-based approach — which essentially means that either both can get into the group or none.
- But most of the NSG countries, including the US, France and UK, make a clear distinction between India and Pakistan’s nuclear non-proliferation track record.
- While New Delhi points to its clean track record on non-proliferation, many — including the American and French interlocutors — have pointed out how Pakistan’s nuclear programme, led by A Q Khan, violated all norms of nuclear non-proliferation and had links with the North Korean nuclear programme.
- With the current US administration making North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic programme top priority, India is confident that Pakistan’s claim to membership of the NSG is not going to hold any credibility.
- Also, with India now being a member of the MTCR, it can choose not to block China’s bid to become a member of the export control regime.
2. U.S., Russia clash at U.N. over chemical weapons attacks in Syria
- Russia and the United States tangled at the United Nations over the use of chemical weapons in Syria as Washington and its allies considered whether to strike at President Bashar al-Assad’s forces over a suspected poison gas attack last weekend.
- Moscow and Washington halted attempts by each other in the U.N. Security Council to set up international investigations into chemical weapons attacks in Syria, which is in the throes of a seven-year-old civil war.
- U.S. President Donald Trump and Western allies are discussing possible military action to punish Assad for a suspected poison gas attack on Saturday on a rebel-held town that long had held out against government forces.
- On the diplomatic front, the United Nations Security Council failed to approve three draft resolutions on chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Russia vetoed a U.S. text, while two Russian-drafted resolutions failed to get a minimum nine votes to pass.
- Moscow opposes any Western strike on its close ally Assad and has vetoed Security Council action on Syria 12 times since the conflict started.
- U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the Security Council that adopting the U.S.-drafted resolution was the least that member nations could do.
- At least 60 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in Saturday’s suspected chemical weapons attack on the town of Douma, according to a Syrian relief group.
C. GS3 Related
1. Google appeals Competition Commission of India’s ruling over alleged search bias
Google has appealed against a ruling by India’s competition watchdog that found it guilty of “search bias”, while the website that brought the case also challenged the outcome, complaining the online search giant had got off too lightly.
Context of the issue
- In February, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) fined Google 1.36 billion rupees ($21 million), saying it was also abusing its dominance by giving its own online airline flight search product an unfair advantage over rivals.
- Google, the core unit of U.S. firm Alphabet Inc, said it had filed an appeal.
- After the February ruling, Google had referred to the issues raised by the Commission as narrow concerns. It noted the order indicated that on the majority of issues the CCI examined, Google’s conduct complied with Indian competition laws.
- However, a lawyer with knowledge of the matter said that Matrimony.com, the Indian matchmaking website that had filed the case against Google was dissatisfied with the outcome and had lodged its own appeal.
- com, according to the lawyer, has appealed against both the size of the fine, which it says is too small, and the CCI’s ruling that neither Google’s specialised search design or its advertising service, AdWords, were breaking competition rules. Google did not comment on that development.
- A CCI official called the watchdog’s judgement robust and said it would defend its ruling at the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).
- Google was found to be indulging in practices of search bias and by doing so, it causes harm to its competitors as well as to users.
What is Search bias?
- Search bias refers to the propensity for a search engine to favour certain websites over others in response to user queries, due to biases in their search algorithms or other factors. This can unduly hurt businesses that often rely on search engines to draw customers to their portals.
- The appeal filed by Matrimony.com will be the latest anti-trust headache for Google, which remains mired in similar cases elsewhere in the world.
Last year, the European Commission imposed a record 2.4 billion euro ($3 billion) fine on the company for favouring its shopping service and demoting rival offerings. Google has appealed against the verdict.
2. Govt may raise stake in GSTN to 100 per cent
- The government is considering raising its stake in the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), even up to 100 per cent, with equal ownership division between states and Centre, two government officials said. The final decision will be taken by GST Council, they added.
- GSTN is currently a not for profit, non-government company with 24.5 per cent stake of Centre, 24.5 per cent by all states and empowered committee of state finance ministers, totalling to 49 pe cent.
- Rest, 51 per cent stake is with private financial institutions. Officials said the operational setup of GSTN will continue to be the same, only the ownership structure will change. The leadership team and staff will be retained.
- The only change will be in the ownership structure.Explaining the reasoning behind the proposal, the official said that the majority private shareholding was considered necessary prior to introduction of GST to ensure adequate freedom and timely. Now, that the tax structure is believed to have stabilised, the government is mulling this proposal as data analytics would be one of the key focus areas.
- GSTN was incorporated as a private limited company on March 28, 2013. Non-government financial institutions such as HDFC, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, NSE Strategic Investment Co hold stake of 10 per cent each, LIC Housing Finance Ltd holds 11 per cent stake, taking the total to 51 per cent stake in GSTN. Central and state governments hold 49 per cent stake.Over one crore businesses are registered on the GSTN portal.
3. India could face high inflation, low growth
- The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) bi-monthly monetary policy announced on April 5 maintained a status quo on rates but it contains a strange contradiction. This time, the RBI has projected Consumer Price Index-based inflation or CPI inflation to follow a downward trend and remain in the 4.7%-5.1% band.
- In February, however, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the central bank had forecast that the CPI will be in the 5.1%-5.6% range for the first half of 2018-19. Having lowered inflation expectations, the RBI has raised its GDP growth projections by 80 basis points (bps) to 7.4% from 6.6%.
Here lies the puzzle
- The growth-inflation tradeoff is a well-known paradigm. The Philips curve explains this tradeoff beautifully. The Phillips curve is an economic theory by A. W. Phillips which says that inflation and unemployment have a stable and inverse relationship. The concept posits that with economic growth comes inflation, which in turn should lead to more jobs and less unemployment.
Why inflation could see an upward trajectory
- The era of oil-price declines seems to be over, at least for the time being. India continues to import 80% of its crude demand and rupee has a weakening bias, keeping landed costs of fuel high. In CPI, which is the anchor for monetary policy, fuel products have a weight of almost 3% (the fuel and light combined has 7%) and this will measure the direct impact of a hike in fuel price. A 10% increase in fuel costs, for instance, will thus push up CPI inflation by almost 25 bps, ceteris paribus.
- There is an indirect impact also by way of a cascading effect through the transportation segment, which adds another 15 bps or so to the CPI.
Meanwhile, the trajectory of food inflation is not yet clear. This is the largest component in the CPI basket with food and beverages constituting 54%. The MPC has admitted upside risks to inflation due to the Union Budget announcement of a 1.5-fold hike in MSP for farm produce.
- Moreover, the baseline assumption now is that monsoon prospects are good. But what if spatial and temporal distribution turns bad? This remains unanswered. In addition, one must be wary of the statistical phenomenon called the ‘base effect. Average CPI inflation for April 2017-February 2018 was 3.52%. The low base will cause an upside to inflation, in addition to risks emanating from oil-price shocks and exchange-rate pass through.
Rupee depreciation will play a role
- The rupee exchange rate is another variable that needs to be considered. Latest data shows the real effective exchange rate of the rupee (REER) against dollar (exchange rate adjusted for inflation) is at 101.28.
- The implication is rupee overvaluation of at least 1.28% at the current juncture. When landed costs of imports rise due to rupee depreciation, it brings forth imported inflation, and the quantum depends on the composition of those items in the CPI and wholesale price index (WPI) basket.
The end result: High inflation, low growth
- In all probability, inflation will be higher rather than lower as the RBI is expecting. It is more likely to print closer to the 5.1% to 5.6% range rather than below 5%. With inflation likely to read above 5% next year, an 80 bps upward revision to growth looks too optimistic.
- Ground realities also lead us to similar conclusions. Exports have slowed down and a trade war is underway. Moreover, high inflation reduces real interest rates, erodes savings, reduces investible surplus, and acts as a drag on growth. For the present, it looks like a high-inflation, low-growth scenario.
1. ISRO set to launch first privately built satellite today
- India could see its first privately built satellite in space this week as Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) gears up for a launch to boost its Navic fleet. A consortium of mid- and small-sized firms led by Bengaluru-based aerospace firm Alpha Design Technologies has built IRNSS-1L, the backup navigation satellite with a new atomic clock, under the watchful eyes of ISRO.
- It is also the first satellite to be built at a special ISRO facility for private firms. The satellite will be launched on Thursday from Sriharikota by the home-grown polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) rocket.
- This is the second satellite the private team has built for Isro. The previous one was lost in August last year, when the heat shield of the rocket failed to open and let out the spacecraft.
- This satellite will demonstrate expertise of the private consortium. It will be the start of ISRO’s journey of using the industry to be system integrators of satellites.
- So far, ISRO has developed and built satellites, spacecraft and rockets on its own, while depending on firms such as Godrej, Larson and Toubro and Bharat Electronics for systems and sub-systems.
- The agency is building expertise among private firms to meet its need of 70 large communication and earth observation satellites in the next five years and tap a global satellite market explosion.
- It is resource-constrained as it looks to focus on building next generation satellites, rockets and craft for deep space exploration.
- Last November, ISRO floated a tender to outsource manufacturing of 60 satellites, offering to transfer technology to private companies to build capabilities so they service the local market as well as grab global business.
- According to Euroconsult, over 3,000 satellites of over 50 kg will be built by government and commercial organisations by 2026. In addition, a new wave of companies that look at building over 3,000 micro satellites is emerging globally. The biggest is OneWeb, the satellite firm backed by Richard Branson and Softbank that plans to launch over 1,000 satellites.
- Not just satellite outsourcing, ISRO also wants Indian firms to build and launch satellites on PSLV. The PSLV has emerged as the workhorse to send small satellites from across the globe into space and has begun the process of allowing the private sector to build and launch its first PSLV by 2020.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
1. Supreme order
- Judgment in Hadiya case is a strong resistance of the person’s rights against the writ of tribe, group, family
- About a year back, the Indian national’s woman right to life and liberty stood seriously tightened by a judgment of the Kerala High Court (HC).
- The court had revoked the marriage of a 24-year-old grown-up, Hadiya, contending that a young lady of her age was “feeble and helpless,” and that “marriage being the most imperative choice in her life, [it] can likewise be taken just with the dynamic association of her folks”.
- A month ago, the Supreme Court (SC) struck down the HC judgment in a short request.
- On Monday, in a huge and much-welcome point by point judgment, the SC has firmly reaffirmed the person’s natural ideal to pick her lifestyle, her religion and the individual she needs to wed.
- Hadiya’s dad had documented a habeas corpus at the HC claiming that she had been indoctrinated into changing over to Islam by radical components.
- The court, truth be told, reaffirmed that “decisions of confidence and conviction as in reality decisions on issues of marriage exist in a territory where singular self-sufficiency is preeminent. They frame the embodiment of individual freedom under the Constitution”.
- Hadiya was forcibly separated from her husband and kept in her parents’ custody.
- “The months which Hadiya lost, put in the authority of her dad and without wanting to can’t be brought back. The purpose behind this agreeing judgment is that it is the obligation of this court to guarantee that the esteemed privileges of natives are not oppressed at the sacrificial table of a paternalistic social structure.”
- Astoundingly, through these months, it was the voice of a 24-year-old that rang out in lucidity and trust in what she had made of her life.
- One expectation this judgment will likewise ensure those less well-spoken and overcome and steer the courts towards a more hearty resistance of their rights, against the intense writ of a group, group, and family.
2. A conclave for federalism
- In a first-of-its-kind activity, the finance ministers of southern states met in Thiruvananthapuram, that left the terms of reference (ToR) of the fifteenth Finance Commission, which has perceived populace as a basic basis for redistribution of expenses.
- It is set to utilize statistic information from the 2011 Census while making suggestions for the following five-year time frame, starting 2020.
- Previous commissions have been utilizing the 1971 Census as the benchmark.
- The southern states expect that if the new ToR is actualized, they will lose a huge number of crores from the Center’s income devolution.
Analysis of the Issue
- In other words, the progressive states are being penalised for having done well on the human development indices, especially effective birth control, which the Centre has been pushing all these years.
- Their loss is the gain of the BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) states. Example of the losses and gains: Kerala alone would lose Rs.20,000 crore over the next five years while Tamil Nadu would take a hit of Rs.40,000 crore. Needless to say each of the BIMARU states stands to gain between Rs.6,500 crore and Rs.10,000 crore.
F. Prelims Fact
Nothing here for today!!!
G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. Consider the following statements:
The Competition Act, 2002 prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
- The objectives of the Act are sought to be achieved through the Competition Commission of India (CCI).
It is the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.
Which of the above statements are correct?
- 1 and 3 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1 and 2 only
- All of the above
Question 2. Consider the following statements:
The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of two sets of Guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports.
- African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty is also known as Treaty of Pelindaba.
The NSG Guidelines is different from the Non-Proliferation Principle, whereby a supplier authorises a transfer only when satisfied that the transfer would not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Which of the above statements are correct?
- 1 and 2 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1 and 3 only
- All of the above
Question 3. Consider the following statements:
Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) is TB that does not respond to at least isoniazid and rifampicin, the 2 most powerful anti-TB drugs.
Extensively drug-resistant TB, XDR-TB, is a form of multidrug-resistant TB with additional resistance to more anti-TB drugs that therefore responds to even fewer available medicines.
Which of the above statements are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Question 4. Consider the following statements about Alzheimer’s:
Alzheimer’s disease is the least common type of dementia.
As symptoms worsen, it becomes harder for people to remember recent events, to reason, and to recognize people they know.
Which of the above statements are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
- The Supreme court has been a true guardian of Fundamental rights. Illustrate with examples. Also, comment on why SC was shown in a negative limelight.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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