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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 27 SEPTEMBER 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 27 SEPTEMBER 2018


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


General Studies – 1


Topic– Part of static series under the heading – “Rainfall pattern”

1) Explain the distribution pattern of rainfall in India and factors affecting that distribution?(250 words)

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the distribution pattern of rainfall in India – the areas where rainfall is scanty and the areas where it is in abundance. We also need to explain the factors that are responsible for such variations in rainfall patterns.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention that India falls in the monsoon climatic region. Rainfall is the backbone of Indian agriculture and economic activities and thus rainfall pattern is important

Body

  • Mention that Rainfall in India mainly occurs in the months of July, August and September. The Indian rains are chiefly orographic in nature. As a result, the regions situated on the windward side receive greater rainfall than the regions located on the leeward side.Only a scant amount of rainfall is received from cyclones and convectional rainfall.
  • Discuss the areas which receive hefty, moderate, low and scanty rainfall
  • Explain the factors which control rainfall distribution in India – SW monsoon vs NE monsoon and factors such as
    • Direction of moisture laden winds
    • Pressure conditions
    • Cyclonic depression determined by pressure gradient
    • Direction of relief features

 

Background :-

  • Rainfall in India is highly uneven over a period of time in a year.  The western coasts and North East India receive rainfall of over 400 cm. It is less than 60 cms in western Rajasthan and adjoining parts of Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab. Similarly, rainfall is low in the interiors of the Deccan Plateau and east of Western Ghats. Then, Leh in Jammu and Kashmir is also an area of low precipitation.

                               

Distribution of rainfall in India:-

  • Rainfall in India mainly occurs in the months of July, August and September.
  • The Indian rains are chiefly orographic in nature. As a result, the regions situated on the windward side receive greater rainfall than the regions located on the leeward side.
  • Only a scant amount of rainfall is received from cyclones and convectional rainfall.
  • Monsoon in India is irregular, not well distributed and unpredictable. While there are floods in some regions, the other regions face drought.
  • Regions receiving hefty rainfall (more than 200 cm)
    • Slopes of the Western Ghats and the Western Coastal Plains.
    • Meghalaya Hills (Garo, Khasi and Jaintia), the southern slopes of the Eastern Himalayas, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and West Bengal.
  • Regions receiving moderate rainfall (100-200 cm)
    • The southern part of Tamil Nadu and the northern parts of Andhra Pradesh.
    • Middle Ganges Valley, some parts of the Western Ghats, Eastern Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha.
  • Regions receiving low rainfall (50-100 cm)
    • Parts of the Deccan plateau consisting of the regions of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
    • Eastern Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and  Kashmir.
  • Regions receiving scanty rainfall (5o cm and less)
    • Northern parts of Kashmir, southern Punjab and western Rajasthan.
    • The rain shadow regions of the Western Ghats lying in the Deccan Plateau.

Factors responsible for distribution of Rainfall in India

  • Direction of moisture laden winds:-
    • The wind system also affects the Indian rainfall. This system consists of monsoon winds, land and sea breeze, and local winds. In winter the winds blow from land to sea so they are cold and dry.
    • On the other hand, in summer wind blow from sea to land bringing the moisture along with them from the sea and they cause wide spread rain in most par
  • Pressure conditions:-
    • High pressure and low pressure zones also affect rainfall. 
    • Strengths of low pressure over Tibet and high pressure over Southern Indian Ocean:-
      • The strengths of low pressure over Tibetan plateau and high pressure over Southern Indian Ocean has always positive effect on Indian monsoon and have high rainfall. Opposite to it has weak monsoon and hence less rainfall.
    • Cyclonic depression determined by pressure gradient
    • Direction of relief features
    • Distance from sea:-
      • In peninsular India, rainfall decreases from coast to interior parts.
    • Altitude:-
      • In North-East India, the rainfall increases with altitude.
    • Climate change :-
      • In recent years distribution of monsoon rains has changed. In recent past, monsoon rains touched the mainland 15 days to 1 month later.
    • As we move from Meghalaya to Haryana or Punjab in Northern plains, we observe that the rainfall decreases.
    • Topography:-
      • The physical features influence the air temperature, atmospheric pressure, direction of winds and  the  amount  of rainfall  in different  parts of  the country.
      • Landforms, like mountains, plateaus, etc. affect rainfall. Orographic condensation occurs as moist air is pushed up the rain side of a landform. On the other side, arid conditions prevail because the moisture has been squeezed out on the rain side.
  • El Nino and La Nina Effects:-
    • Weather conditions in India are also influenced by El-Nino which causes wide spread floods and droughts in tropical regions of the world. This warming of tropical Pacific waters affects the global pattern of pressure and wind systems including the monsoon winds in the Indian Ocean.
    • These affects the latitudinal walker cell in the Pacific Ocean and rainfall pattern in the Asian region. During El Nino Year weak push to Monsoon winds towards India causes less rainfall and draught where as During La Nina years, the push is stronger and causes heavy rain and floods.
  • Somali Jet (Findlater Jet) and Somali Current (Findlater Current) :-
    • These effect the intensity of high pressure cell in the Southern Indian Ocean and flow of moisture laden winds to the subcontinent.
  • Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) :-
    • It is defined by the difference in sea surface temperature between two areas (or poles, hence a dipole) – a western pole in the Arabian Sea (western Indian Ocean) and an eastern pole in the eastern Indian Ocean south of Indonesia. The greater than average sea-surface temperatures in Arabian Sea responsible for greater precipitation in the western Indian Ocean region, and vice versa.

General Studies – 3


Topic– Part of static series under the heading – “National income – methods”

2) What is national income and why is it calculated? Explain the three main methods of computing national income?(250 words)

Key demand of the question

The question is quite self explanatory its demand. First we need to explain what NI is, how computing NI is useful for economies and finally it expects us to bring out how the three main methods of computing NI.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain that National Income is the total value of all final goods and services produced by the country in certain year. The growth of National Income helps to know the progress of the country.

Body

  • Explain the various advantages of calculating national income – in policy formulation, effective decision making and for making international economic comparisons etc
  • Discuss and explain the three main methods of computing national income – income method, expenditure method and output method. Also explain how the national income of India is calculated

National income:-

  • National Incomeis the total value of all final goods and services produced by the country in certain year. The growth of National Income helps to know the progress of the country.
  • In other words, the total amount of income accruing to a country from economic activities in a year’s time is known as national income. It includes payments made to all resources in the form of wages, interest, rent and profits.

Why is national income calculated:-

  • The study of National Income is important because of the following reasons:
    • To see the economic development of the country.
    • To assess the developmental objectives.
      • National income accounts provide information on the pattern of economic activity. These statistics explain various economic and social phenomena. These also help policy-makers in formulating good economic policies both in government and in private industry. 
    • To know the contribution of the various sectors to National Income.
    • Measuring national income is also important to chalk out the future course of the economy. It also broadly indicates people’s standard of living.
    • Measuring the level and rate of growth of national income is important for keeping track of:
      • The rate of economic growth
      • Changes to living standards
      • Changes to the distribution of income between groups within the population

Methods of National Income Calculation:-

  • Production Method
    • The production method gives us national income or national product based on the final value of the produce and the origin of the produce in terms of the industry. 
    • All producing units are classified sector wise.
      • Primary sector is divided into agriculture, fisheries, animal husbandry.
      • Secondary sector consists of manufacturing.
      • Tertiary sector is divided into trade, transport, communication, banking, insurance etc.
    • Income Method: 
      • Different factors of production are paid for their productive services rendered to an organization.
      • The various incomes that includes in these methods are wages, income of self employed, interest, profit, dividend, rents, and surplus of public sector and net flow of income from abroad.
    • Expenditure Method:
      • The various sectors – the household sector, the government sector, the business sector, either spend their income on consumer goods and services or they save a part of their income. These can be categorized as private consumption expenditure, private investment, public consumption, public investment etc.
    • In India, National Income is calculated by the combined method. It combines two methods i.e product or output method and the income method. This is done to overcome the problem of deficiency of statistics. The product method endeavours to find out the net contribution to national income of all producing units. The income method adds up income and payments accruing of factors of production. This method is used in the tertiary  sector like government services banking etc and also in the commodity sector if output data is not available.

Topic–  Indian polity : Issues

3) Discuss the verdict of Supreme Court with respect to Aadhar and the implications of the verdict?(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

Verdict of the constitutional bench of SC in Aadhar case is a landmark judgment and needs to be prepared in detail. The article gives details of the verdict as well as its implications which addresses the various debates surrounding Aadhar. This topic is going to remain in news in the near future and we have to keep an eye out for the various details and implications of the verdict.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the details of the verdict and explain how the verdict addresses the various debates surrounding Aadhar. We also need to discuss what the implications of the verdict are with respect to the beneficiaries of government subsidies, mandatory production of Aadhar for the enjoyment of various services etc.

Directive word

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain the background of the Aadhar case and emphasize on its significance.

Body

  • Explain the details of SC’s verdict in Aadhar case
    • Supreme Court upheld the validity of Aadhaar saying sufficient security measures are taken to protect data and it is difficult to launch surveillance on citizens on the basis of Aadhaar
    • asked the Centre to bring a robust law for data protection as soon as possible.
    • majority opinion has sought to limit the import of the scheme to aspects directly related to welfare benefits, subsidies and money spent from the Consolidated Fund of India
    • Section 57 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery Of Financial And Other Subsidies, Benefits And Services) Act, 2016, has been struck down to the extent that it authorised body corporates and individuals to use the Aadhaar number to establish someone’s identity. Schools have been barred from making the submission of the Aadhaar number mandatory to enrol children. A few other provisions have been read down or clarified
  • Discuss what the verdict has to say with respect to the various debates surrounding Aadhar such as privacy, surveillance etc
  • Discuss the implications of the verdict – how the verdict would impact the usage of Aadhar for various purposes and the future of the UID project

Conclusion – Mention that the issue has been under debate for long and the verdict would go a long way in easing the issues surrounding Aadhar.

Background :-

  • Since SC ruled last year that privacy is a fundamental right, opinion began to gain ground that the unique identification programme was vulnerable in the face of judicial scrutiny. It was projected by sceptics, detractors and activists as an intrusion on citizens privacy, a byword for a purported surveillance system, a grand project to harvest personal data for commercial exploitation by private parties and profiling by the state.

SC verdict on Aadhar :-

  • The law enabling the implementation of the programme does not violate the right to privacy of citizens instead, the project empowers marginalised sections and procures dignity for them along with services, benefits and subsidies by leveraging the power of technology.
  • In upholding the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and clarifying areas in which it cannot be made mandatory, the Supreme Court has restored the original intent of the programme: to plug leakages in subsidy schemes and to have better targeting of welfare benefits.
  • The judgment narrows the scope of Aadhaar but provides a framework within which it can work. The majority opinion has sought to limit the import of the scheme to aspects directly related to welfare benefits, subsidies and money spent from the Consolidated Fund of India. Thus, controversial circulars and rules making it mandatory to link mobile phone numbers and bank accounts to Aadhaar numbers have been declared unconstitutional.
  • Section 57 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery Of Financial And Other Subsidies, Benefits And Services) Act, 2016, has been struck down to the extent that it authorised body corporates and individuals to use the Aadhaar number to establish someone’s identity.
  • Schools have been barred from making the submission of the Aadhaar number mandatory to enrol children.
  • With enrolment saturation reaching 1.2 billion people, the programme had acquired a scale and momentum that was irreversible.
  • Aadhaar Act passes the triple test laid down in the ‘Privacy’ judgment under which there ought to be a law, a legitimate state interest and an element of proportionality in any law that seeks to abridge the right of privacy.
  • The Supreme Court upheld the validity of Aadhaar saying sufficient security measures are taken to protect data and it is difficult to launch surveillance on citizens on the basis of Aadhaar.
  • The SC asked the Centre to bring a robust law for data protection as soon as possible.
  • The SC has made linking of Aadhaar and PANmandatory. The apex court also made Aadhaar mandatory for filing of Income Tax Return (ITR).
  • The SC directed the government to ensure that illegal migrants are not issued Aadhaar to get benefits of social welfare schemes.
  • The apex court struck down the provision in Aadhaar law allowing sharing of data on the ground of national security.
  • The SC said there is a fundamental difference between Aadhaar and other identity proof as Aadhaar cannot be duplicated and it is a unique identification. It added that Aadhaar is to empower the marginalised sections of the society, and it gives them an identity.
  • Children cannot be denied benefits for the lack of the Aadhaar Card
    • The government cannot deny providing welfare benefits to children if they do not have Aadhaar card. It is worth mentioning here that even new-borns can be enrolled for Aadhaar. The court also mentioned that a child will be given the authority to opt out from the benefits provided under various welfare schemes when they turn 18.
  • Section 47 invalidated – Individuals can now file cases in a Court related to Aadhaar
    • Section 47 has also been repealed by the Supreme Court. The section did not allow any court to take cognizance of offences punishable under this act if the complaint was made by individuals.  Only those officers who were authorized by UIDAI had the authority to file complaints related to Aadhaar. But now, even individuals can file complaints related to Aadhaar in courts.
  • Aadhaar authentication data cannot be stored for more than 6 months
    • Aadhaar authentication data can now be stored only for 6 months now. Earlier, the Aadhaar Act allowed authorities to store the data for up to 5 years.
  • Aadhaar not mandatory for Digital Wallets
    • Aadhaar is not mandatory for various digital wallets. Currently, various companies providing the mobile wallet service ask their customers to furnish their Aadhaar to avail full-fledged services. However, these companies cannot ask their customers for Aadhaar details from now onwards.
  • Aadhaar not mandatory for examinations conducted by CBSE, UGC and NET
    • Various institutional bodies made it mandatory for students taking up all India level examinations to furnish their Aadhaar number in the application form. The students also had to bring their Aadhaar to the examination centres for verification. However, it is not mandatory to provide Aadhaar details from now onwards

Implications:-

  • Negatives:-
    • There have been biometric authentication failures that have led to denial of rights and legal entitlements, and the reason for such failures is in the project’s inability to account for and remedy flaws in its network and design. Dignity and rights of individuals are made to depend on algorithms and probabilities .
    • According to data revealed earlier this year by the Right To Food (RTF) campaign, an advocacy group, 14 people allegedly starved to death in Jharkhand over 10 months after being denied rations because they didn’t have Aadhaar cards.
    • Denial of ration/food grains have been reported widely over UID issues including problems of biometric. Massive malnutrition and related deaths of children in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and tribal areas are pointers to the danger that lies in such a judgement.
    • According to Amnesty India, making an Aadhaar card a prerequisite to access essential services and benefits can obstruct access to several constitutional rights, including the rights of people to food, health care, education and social security.
  • Positives:-
    • A relief for those who no longer have to link their cards to their bank accounts and mobiles 
    • Students of CBSE, NEET, UGC also do not require Aadhaar number to appear in exams. Even schools cannot seek Aadhaar card for admissions.
    • The constitution bench of the top court has also struck down the national security exception under the Aadhaar Act. This will indirectly ensure greater privacy of individual’s Aadhaar data while restricting the government accessibility to it.

Topic – Indian polity : Issues

4) Discuss the verdict of SC in M Nagraj case 2006 and the clarification issued by SC wrt reservation in promotions?(250 words) 

Financial express

Why this question

The issue of reservation in promotions for SC/ST in public sector jobs has been a source of debate since Indra Sawhney verdict. The clarifications issued by SC yesterday on the same issue gives some clarifications wrt Nagraj verdict. The details of the verdict along with the implications it has on the issue of reservation in promotions need to be prepared in detail.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to examine the issue of reservation in promotions, give details of the verdict of SC in Nagraj case etc, and highlight the clarification issued by SC on the same issue. Finally, we need to bring out whether or not the verdict settled the debates surrounding the issue of reservation in promotions.

Directive word

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Give a brief background of the issue and details about the current case.

Body

  • Discuss the constitutional provisions related to reservation in promotions for SC/ST and explain what the issue is all about.
  • Discuss the verdict of SC in Nagraj case
    • five-judge constitution bench, in its 2006 verdict in the M Nagraj case, had said the states are bound to provide quantifiable data on the backwardness of SCs and STs, the facts about their inadequate representation in government jobs and the overall administrative efficiency, before providing quota in promotions to members of these communities.
    • Discuss the 3 criteria that had to be satisfied for granting reservation in promotions
  • Highlight the clarification issued by court yesterday – that data requirement is not mandatory. Highlight that the issue of administrative efficiency etc have not gotten any clarifications.
  • Discuss the implications of the verdict and what it means for the overall debate on reservations

Conclusion – Give your view on this issue and discuss the way forward.

Background:-

  • Recently Supreme Court of India may have virtually paved way for the implementation of reservation in promotions in government jobs.

SC verdict on Nagaraj case:-

  • The 2006 verdict had mandated states to provide quantifiable data on the backwardness of Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST), information on inadequate representation in government jobs and the overall administrative efficiency before going ahead with the quota for them.
  • The Centre and various state governments had sought a reconsideration of this verdict on various grounds. The governments had contested that SC and ST communities are presumed to be backward and considering their stigma of caste, they should be given reservation even in job promotions.
  • For all practical purposes, the older verdict had sealed any possibility of extending quota benefits to serving employees. Dalit groups argue this had adversely affected the career progression of SC/ST employees because of an inherent bias against them.

Clarification given by SC regarding reservation in promotions:-

  • The Supreme Court held that there was no need to refer its 2006 verdict on benefits of quotas in job promotions for SC/ST employees to a larger bench.
  • The conclusion arrived at in the Nagaraj case that the states have to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of SCs and STs was contrary to the nine-judge bench judgement in the Indra Sawhney verdict of 1992, popularly known as Mandal Commission case
  • Clarified that states need not collect quantifiable data on the backwardness of SC/ST employees to provide benefits of quota in job promotion.
  • The verdict has virtually left it upon the state and Central government to decide as to when and in what form reservation in promotion is to be implemented.
  • SC did not comment on two other conditions given in the 2006 verdict which dealt with adequacy of representation of SC/ST in promotion and not to disturb administrative efficiency,
  • The verdictcleared a major hurdle that was cited by the central government in granting reservation in promotion to its employees belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST).

Implications :-

  • Even though some have managed to secure promotions, they have been facing caste-based discrimination for a long time. So economic well-being of a section of the SC/ST community does not discount their social exclusion.
  • The litigants, who opposed to reservation in promotion, also contended that Dalits and Adivasis have come to occupy the office of the President, Central Ministers, Chief Justice of India and Chief Ministers, and this section is no more socially disabled as they were in the past. So the contention of reservation based on economic backwardness will be back to discussion again.
  • Creamy layer principle will not be applied to members of the SC/ST community while considering them for promotions in government service.

Topic – Conservation, environmental degradation

5) Construction and demolition waste is a major environmental and health hazard. Examine and suggest sustainable solutions for dealing with C&D waste?(250 words)

Indian express

Why this question

The article gives an in depth view of the status of the problem of C&D waste, the implications of the unchecked rise of such waste and ways to deal with C&D waste. C&D waste is a major contributor to environmental pollution particularly in major cities like Delhi etc. Understanding the problem, and analyzing ways to deal with the problem is important for mains.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to highlight the magnitude of problem, the reasons why such waste is a major cause of environmental and health hazards, the reasons why the problem is difficult to manage and the sustainable solutions that can help manage this challenge.

Directive word

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any .

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain what C&D waste is

Body

  • Explain the magnitude of this problem – discuss the lack of proper data regarding C&D waste by different agencies
  • Discuss the adverse environmental and health impact of C&D waste
  • Discuss international examples of how other countries have dealt with such waste – the example of countries like Germany
  • Examine how we deal with waste of such nature and what more can be done based on points mentioned in the article

Conclusion – emphasize on the problems caused due to lack of attention over this issue and suggest way forward.

Construction and demolition waste:-

  • Construction and demolition (C&D) waste people generate are in the form of for example, bricks, concrete, stones, hard core subsoil, topsoil, timber, glass, gypsum, ceramics and also plastics. Neglecting this waste has consequences for public health as well as the environment.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in 2010, put the annual estimate of C&D waste at 10-12 million tonnes. 

Why Construction and demolition waste are threatening environment:-

  • There is no agreement on the volume of C&D waste.
  • This waste is dumped illegally on vacant sites, on the sides of highways, below fly-overs, beside lakes and rivers, in other low-lying areas and open stormwater drains. Delhi and Bengaluru provide glaring examples of this practice commonly known as “fly-tipping”. In Bengaluru, C&D waste is increasingly being used to encroach on lake-bed land for construction.
  • Waterlogging, with all its adverse impact on public health and the environment, is another consequence as the runoff from smooth surfaces is trapped in the debris.
  • Until two years ago, C&D waste was not even looked at separately from the municipal solid waste (MSW) :-
    • The Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000, merely stated that C&D waste be separately collected and disposed of in accordance with State laws.
    • But in 2016, recognising the importance of growing volumes of C&D waste in urban areas and the significant differences in the origin and quality of this waste and in the methods of its recycling and reuse, the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules 2016 were separately notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, and the Solid Waste Management Rules (2016) superseded the 2000 Rules.
    • This reflected the growing recognition of the need to manage C&D waste separately from the municipal solid waste.
  • The presence of C&D waste in the mixed waste reduces the effectiveness of composting or biomethanation and also reduces the calorific value and combustibility of the MSW. The presence of MSW in debris similarly reduces the quality of recycled C&D waste.

Suggestions:-

  • Recycling waste:-
    • In the past 20 years or so there has been a greater appreciation of the reuse and recycling possibilities of the waste into construction material (recycled aggregate concrete, manufactured sand, etc.) and its implication for the conservation of natural resources
    • The C&D waste recycling industry is in a very nascent stage in India. The challenge is to ensure that C&D waste comes to the recycling plants as segregated input, and the recycled products are picked up for use in construction.
  • Lessons from international experiences:-
    • The UK’s use of recycled aggregates is the highest in Europe and accounts for 25 per cent of all aggregates used in construction. This has created a vibrant recycling industry, which promotes innovation and new products and their uses,
    • California has promulgated an ordinance which requires 50 per cent recycling of C&D waste and 75 per cent diversion of inerts away from landfills.
  • While builders and renovators must keep C&D waste unmixed, urban local bodies must ensure that the Rules are enforced.
    • For example, the Rules specify that all government construction projects, at all levels, should utilise between 10 and 20 per cent of C&D recycled products (aggregates, kerb stones, paver blocks, tiles and manufactured sand). This has not happened despite the orders of the National Green Tribunal and other regulatory bodies.
  • Government’s role:-
    • The government has to build awareness of the value of recycled products and also provide standard codes to ensure adherence to quality.
    • The government also has to set an example in its own construction activity by complying with the Rules.
    • Manufactured sand from C&D waste provides an environmentally sustainable alternative
  • Involve private sector:-
    • At the same time, the incentives also have to be aligned for the private sector, for example, the imposition of a reasonable charge for disposal at dumpsites can induce builders or owners to divert the C&D waste to recycling plants.
    • An important additional step in this direction would be to reduce GST rates on products using recycled materials.

Topic – S&T Applications

6) Gene editing has opened up new vistas of opportunity, and at the same time poses immense ethical challenges. Discuss(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

The article highlights the immense opportunities opened up as a result of advancements made in the field of gene editing, and also brings out the ethical challenges that it poses. Various governments have now given a go ahead for such projects, and several advancements have taken place in countries such as China. Understanding how CRISPR CAS9 helps, and the ethical challenges posed by gene editing would be useful for mains.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the advancements made in the field of gene editing, the applications arising out of CRISPR CAS9, and the various ethical challenges arising out of the technology.

Directive word

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention that in researching how bacteria fights viral infections, a team of researchers led by Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier made a revolutionary discovery of a method of intervening in the human genome with previously unimaginable precision and efficiency.

Body

  • Explain CRISPR CAS9 – how it works and the applications. CRISPR-Cas9 has been heralded to have significant potential applications in a wide variety of areas, from agriculture to human intervention. From developing disease-resistant and pest-resistant high yield crops (without the need of environmentally harmful pesticides and herbicides) to vastly increased abilities to study the mechanisms of disease, the potential of CRISPR is such that is may have an application in every aspect of biological life.
  • Discuss the ethical issues surrounding gene editing – the problem of designer babies, lack of understanding wrt complete impact of usage of such tech etc

Conclusion – Give your view on the ethics of gene editing and discuss way forward.

Background:-

  • Gene Editing is a type of genetic engineering in which DNA is inserted, deleted, modified or replaced in the genome of a living organism.
  • Unlike early genetic engineering techniques that randomly inserts genetic material into a host genome, genome editing targets the insertions to site specific locations.

Opportunities due to gene editing :-

  • The clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats, or CRISPR/CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) (CRISPR-Cas9) system has revolutionised genetic manipulations and made gene editing simpler, faster and easily accessible to most laboratories.
    • The technique has gained considerable traction recently to repair defective genes for potential therapeutic applications.
    • Targeted gene correction has the potential to treat many different  diseases, including clotting disorders such as hemophilia A and B, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, Fabry disease, Hurler and Hunter syndromes and so on.
    • It has made gene editing simpler, faster and easily accessible to most laboratories.
  • It is a powerful tool that can reshape the way society deals many issues of healthcare, food scarcity and the environment.
  • Crops and livestock (e.g. increasing yield, introducing resistance to disease and pests, tolerance of different environmental conditions).
  • Industrial biotechnology (e.g. developing ‘third generation’ biofuels and producing chemicals, materials and pharmaceuticals).
  • Biomedicine (e.g. pharmaceutical development, xenotransplantation, gene and cell-based therapies, control of insect-borne diseases).
  • It can help fight against blood-related disorders such as haemophilia, sickle cell anaemia, and Beta-Thalassemia.

 

Ethical challenges :-

  • Bioethicists expressed concern over the clinical application of such research. These are still early days in a new frontier of genome engineering. 
  • Bioethicists fear abuse of gene editing, not just by misguided governments but also by the private sector preying on a parent’s desire to create a perfect child.
  • There is growing fear that the gene-editing system is being prematurely rushed for clinical use.
  • There are various ethical and technical issues involved with gene editing.
  • It can create unforeseen changes in the genome which are undesirable.
  • It has also been ethically questioned whether editing gene to create babies that parents desires would make them more like commodities.
  • Bioethicists and researchers generally believe that human genome editing for reproductive purposes should not be attempted at this time. In addition, there are concerns with manipulating human embryos for own interest. Many people have moral and religious objections to the use of human embryos for research.
  • Safety:-
    • Due to the possibility of off-target effects (edits in the wrong place) and mosaicism (when some cells carry the edit but others do not), safety is of primary concern
  • Informed Consent
    • Some people worry that it is impossible to obtain informed consent for germline therapy because the patients affected by the edits are the embryo and future generations.
    • Researchers and bioethicists also worry about the possibility of obtaining truly informed consent from prospective parents as long as the risks of germline therapy are unknown.
  • Justice and Equity
    • As with many new technologies, there is concern that genome editing will only be accessible to the wealthy and will increase existing disparities in access to health care and other interventions.
    • Some worry that taken to its extreme, germline editing could create classes of individuals defined by the quality of their engineered genome.

Way forward:-

  • India’s current regulatory architecture for approving novel treatments is ambiguous and assigns overlapping functions to different governmental bodies. This framework needs to be restructured to optimize trial approval time while addressing safety requirements.
  • A two-step model wherein the government works with industry and research groups to accelerate clinical research is recommended. This model consists of a national apex committee working in collaboration with existing institutional ethics committees and independent accreditation agencies.
  • The technology need enabling policy to ensure their outcomes are in line with the spirit of their promises.
  • The government needs to improve infrastructure and access to funds and spur innovation
  • India needs to reform its regulatory structure to expedite approvals and make it easier to conduct research.