TOPIC: LIFE SCIENCE, AGRICULTURE, SCIENCE, HEALTH AND HYGIENE
FARMERS INNOVATION FUND
Context: The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is poised to set up a Farmers’ Innovation Fund.
A system will soon be put in place to scientifically validate, scale up and propagate the innovations of progressive farmers
FARMERS INNOVATION FUND
- As part of this system, an innovation centre will be established in New Delhi where the innovations will be scientifically validated
- Farmers will also be allowed to pursue research under the system
- Innovations of farmers are being documented by the Krishi Vigyan Kendra’s, but the additional system would encourage farmers to continue their innovations.
- The main intention is to link farmers and farming with science and to ensure that their farm practices are science-based,
- As part of efforts to encourage use of technology in farm sector, a linkage had been created between 105 start ups with farmers.
- The ICAR had also developed 45 different organic farming models suitable for different agro-climatic regions and had validated 51 integrated farming systems to help increase farm income.
TOPIC: LIFE SCIENCE, AGRICULTURE, SCIENCE, HEALTH AND HYGIENE
LYSOSOMAL STORAGE DISORDERS
Context: The Madras High Court has directed the Centre to consider providing medical care to economically poor patients suffering from the rare Lysosomal Storage Disorders (LSD).
THE COURT DIRECTIONS
- To consider it as an issue no less than a “national emergency” and come up with a concrete plan, within a month, on sharing the financial burden with the State governments.
- The economic model arrived at, during the discussion, for sharing the expenses incurred by the Government of Tamil Nadu could be implemented in other States too
- They wanted both the Centre as well as the State government to speed up the process since the PIL petition had been pending since 2017 and also because the discussions for submitting the budget for the next financial year had already begun.
- The court has directed the Centre to also explore the possibility of encouraging domestic pharmaceutical companies to manufacture the drugs required for treating LSD patients so that the issue of unavailability due to the compulsion to import, and also the issue of high price could be addressed.
- The judges pointed out that Article 21 (fundamental right to life) coupled with Article 47 (duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health) of the Constitution makes the Centre as well as the State government obligated to provide health care to LSD patients, especially to those who were living below the poverty line and could not afford the expensive treatment.
LYSOSOMAL STORAGE DISEASES
- Lysosomal storage diseasesare a group of about 50 rare inherited metabolic disorders that result from defects in lysosomal function.
- Lysosomesare sacs of enzymes within cells that digest large molecules and pass the fragments on to other parts of the cell for recycling.
- This process requires several critical enzymes. If one of these enzymes is defective, because of a mutation, the large molecules accumulate within the cell, eventually killing it.
- Lysosomal storage disorders are caused by lysosomal dysfunction usually as a consequence of deficiency of a single enzyme required for the metabolism of lipids, glycoprotein’s (sugar-containing proteins), or so-called mucopolysaccharides.
- Like other genetic disorders, individuals inherit lysosomal storage diseases from their parents.
- Although each disorder results from different gene mutations that translate into a deficiency in enzyme activity, they all share a common biochemical characteristic – all lysosomal disorders originate from an abnormal accumulation of substances inside the lysosome.
- LSDs affect mostly children and they often die at a young age, many within a few months or years of birth.
TOPIC: HISTORY & CULTURAL HERITAGE
(INDIA AND KARNATAKA)
Context: Vaikunta Ekadasi is being celebrated with much fervor in Karnataka
- Vaikunta Ekadasi is a special festival for the Vaishnava (Lord Vishnu) devotees that falls in the Tamil month Margazhi (December-January).
- The festival will continue for 22 days and started with Thirunedunthandakam on December 26.
- On January 16 that happens to be the final day, the festival will end with the Nammalvar Motcham.
- The Paramapatha vasal (gate to Vaikuntha) opens on January 6, 2020.
- The Srirangam temple is believed to be the best of all 108 Divya Desam temples.
SRI RANGANATHASWAMY TEMPLE
- The Sri Ranganathaswamy Templeor Thiruvarangam is a Hindu temple dedicated to Ranganatha, a reclining form of the Hindu deity Maha Vishnu, located in Srirangam, Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, India.
- Constructed in the Dravidian Architecture, this temple is glorified by Alvarsin their Divya Prabhanda and has the unique distinction of being the foremost among the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Vishnu.
- It is also the largest functioning Hindutemple in the world.
PAPER III: GENERAL STUDIES 2
TOPIC: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.
Context: General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC’s) Quds Force, and architect of its regional security apparatus, was killed following a US air raid at Baghdad’s international airport on 3rd January, 2020.
The White House and the Pentagon confirmed the killing of Soleimani in Iraq, saying the attack was carried out at the direction of US President Donald Trump and was aimed at deterring future attacks allegedly being planned by Iran.
REACTIONS TO THE US AIR STRIKE
- The move by the US has drawn condemnation from international leaders and officials who fear that tensions in the region could escalate drastically.
- Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that “a harsh retaliation is waiting.
- On January, 4th, US President Donald Trumpthreatened to hit 52 Iranian sites “very hard” if Iran attacked US citizens or assets.
RESPONSE FROM IRAQ
- The Iraqi parliamentarians voted in favour of a resolution seeking to expel American troops on 5th
- The U.S. troops, which are in Iraq on an invitation from the Iraqi government to fight the Islamic State, have carried out air strikes against Iraqi militias in recent weeks, without the approval of the Baghdad government.
- This triggered public protests and led to the siege of the American Embassy last week. In an already explosive situation, the killing of Soleimani acted as a catalyst.
- Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who condemned the killing of Soleimani, has stated unambiguously that it is time for the Americans to go home.
- Government officials have already started working on a memorandum on the legal and procedural formalities to expel U.S. troops, according to him.
- Iraq is a crucial ally for the U.S. in the war against terrorism in West Asia.
- But U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened Iraq with sanctions and a bill for billions of dollars if the U.S. troops are forced to pull back.
- This approach not only violates Iraq’s sovereignty, it also escalates the situation to a three-cornered crisis involving the U.S., Iraq and
REASONS FOR THE US-IRAN STAND OFF
- The first major jolt was when the US refused to renew exemptions given to eight countries, including India, from sanctions to put pressure on Iran to curtail its nuclear weapons programme.
- The US had reimposed the sanctions on Iran’s oil industry and banks in 2018 after President Donald Trump abandoned a nuclear pact that western powers had signed with Tehran in 2015, which allowed Iran relief in return for limiting its nuclear activities, but had exempted India and a few others from it.
- But with the cessation of the exemptions, India has not been able to import crude oil from Iran, which was its third largest supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia, since May 2019.
CONCERNS FOR INDIA
- The killing of General Qasem Soleimani has not only brought the Middle East on the brink of war once again, it has cast a shadow on the economy of hugely oil-dependent countries such as India.
- The Middle East crisis raises serious questions on the impact on India of a fresh escalation in tensions in the region.
- India, the world’s third-biggest oil consumer, meets more than 80 per cent of its crude oil requirements and around 40 per cent of its natural gas needs through imports.
- Although successive governments have talked about firm measures to boost India’s oil security, the country’s domestic oil and natural gas production have been slowing down in the past few years, making the country even more import-dependent.
- Brent crude was trading at $68.60 a barrel at 9.45 pm (IST) on January 4, up 3.55 per cent from the previous day’s close.
- According to an analysis by Care Ratings, the impact on the economy is usually felt in terms of trade deficit (the difference in the value of exports and imports), on the markets, Indian basket of crude oil prices and the exchange rate.
- At the macro level, every dollar increase in prices on a permanent basis would increase the country’s import bill by roughly $1.6 billion (around Rs 11, 482 crore) per annum.
- Next, the increase in the price of crude oil has a significant impact on inflation as it drives monetary policy decisions.
- Retail inflation rose to an over three year high of 5.5 per cent in November 2019, breaching the mid-point of the RBI’s monetary policy committee’s medium-term inflation target of four per cent for the second consecutive month, triggered by a rise in prices of food items.
- Retail food inflation, on the other hand, soared into double digits to 10.1 per cent for November.
- Crude oil and its products have a weight of 10.4 per cent in the wholesale price index.
- Therefore, any increase in the price of crude oil would tend to impact the WPI inflation number commensurately, says Care Ratings.
- Europe, which has good ties with both the U.S. and Iran, should use its diplomatic channels to rein in Mr. Trump and pacify Iran to prevent an all-out war.
- As a first step of de-escalation, what US could do is to order their troops to leave Iraq immediately.
QUESTIONS: Discuss the causes for the tensions in US-Iran ties? What are the concerns for India? (20 marks)