e-cigarette-IASToppers
Current Affairs Analysis

19th September 2019 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

E-cigarettes; Waste Management Accelerator for Aspiring Women Entrepreneurs (WAWE) Summit 2019; Margadarshan; Margdarshak; Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC); Accessible India Campaign (AIC); Zonal Councils; International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Shola Grassland; Assisted reproductive technology (ART); In vitro fertilisation (IVF); 2020- "Year of AI"; World Health Organization’s Global Preparedness Monitoring Board; Zika virus; Dengue; Chikungunya; Man-animal conflict; Bio-fencing; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
September 19, 2019

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Union Minister for Home Affairs to chair the 29th Meeting of the Northern Zonal Council

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Cabinet Approves Promulgation Of Prohibition Of Electronic Cigarettes Ordinance
  • DEPwD Launches MIS Portal Under Accessible India Campaign

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Next big pandemic can kill 80 million, warns WHO report
  • Union HRD Minister launches WAWE Summit 2019 and other initiatives of AICTE

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Invasive species may soon wipe out Shola vegetation from Nilgiris: Report
  • Uttarakhand plans bio-fences to check man-animal conflict

Bilateral & International Relations

  • 63rd General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Geophysical Phenomena

  • Rising temperatures in Indian Ocean can boost Atlantic’s ocean currents: Study

Science & Technology

  • Giving birth at 74: Issues in debate around setting an age limit for IVF
  • Transgenic mosquitoes pass on genes to native species

Key Facts for Prelims

  • 2020- “Year of AI” for Telangana- official

 

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Polity & Governance

Union Minister for Home Affairs to chair the 29th Meeting of the Northern Zonal Council

Union Minister for Home Affairs will be chairing the 29th meeting of the Northern Zonal Council (NZC) at Chandigarh, on September 20, 2019.

29th-Meeting-of-the-Northern-Zonal-Council

  • The Northern Zonal Council comprises of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Rajasthan, Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmi, Ladakh and Delhi.

About the Zonal Councils

Zonal-Council-1

  • Zonal Councils are advisory councils and are made up of the states of India have been grouped into six zones to foster cooperation among them. They are:
  1. Northern Zonal Council
  2. North-Central Zonal Council
  3. North-Eastern Zonal Council
  4. Eastern Zonal Council
  5. Western Zonal Council
  6. Southern Zonal Council

Zonal-councils

  • Five Zonal Councils were set up vide Part-III of the States Reorganisation Act, 1956.
  • The North Eastern States’ special problems are addressed by another statutory body – The North Eastern Council, created by the North Eastern Council Act, 1971.
  • Northern Zonal Council consists of the States of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh.

Functions of The Councils

  • Each Zonal Council is an advisory body and may discuss any matter in which some or all of the States represented in that Council have a common interest and advise the Central Government and the Government of each State concerned as to the action to be taken on any such matter.

In particular, a Zonal Council may discuss, and make recommendations with regard to:

  • Any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning;
  • Any matter concerning border disputes, linguistic minorities or inter-State transport;
  • Any matter connected with or arising out of, the re-organization of the States under the States Reorganisation Act.

Organisational Structure of Zonal Councils

  • Chairman – The Union Home Minister is the Chairman of each of these Councils.
  • Vice Chairman– The Chief Ministers of the States included in each zone act as Vice-Chairman of the Zonal Council for that zone by rotation, each holding office for a period of one year at a time.
  • Members– Chief Minister and two other Ministers as nominated by the Governor from each of the States and two members from Union Territories included in the zone.
  • Advisers– One person nominated by the Planning Commission for each of the Zonal Councils, Chief Secretaries and another officer/Development Commissioner nominated by each of the States included in the Zone
[Ref: PIB]

 

Government Schemes & Policies

Cabinet Approves Promulgation Of Prohibition Of Electronic Cigarettes Ordinance

In a major health and wellness initiative for the country, the Union Cabinet has approved the Promulgation of the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement) Ordinance, 2019.

e-cigarette

  • Upon promulgation of the Ordinance, any production, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale (including online sale), distribution or advertisement (including online advertisement) of e-cigarettes shall be a cognizable offence.

Prohibition-Of-Electronic-Cigarettes-Ordinance

Reason for ban

  • Highly addictive nature of nicotine
  • Safety concern of flavours in combination with nicotine
  • Risk of use of other psychoactive substances through these devices
  • Initiation of nicotine or psychoactive substances by non-smokers, especially adolescents and youth
  • Dual use of e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes
  • Scant scientific evidence for use of e-cigarettes as effective tobacco cessation aids;
  • Threat to country’s tobacco control efforts;
  • Hindrance in achieving the targets envisaged under Sustainable Development Goals, National Monitoring Framework for Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases and National Health Policy, 2017

How will this ordinance be implemented?

  • The Sub-Inspector of Police has been designated as the Authorized Officer to take action under the Ordinance.
  • The Central or State Governments may also designate any other equivalent officer(s) as Authorized Officer for enforcement of the provisions of the Ordinance.

What is an e-cigarette?

Electronic-Cigarettes-3

  • E-cigarettes are battery powered devices that work by heating a liquid into an aerosol (suspension of fine solid particles/liquid droplets in air) that the user inhales and exhales.
  • Electronic-cigarettes include all forms of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), Heat Not Burn Products, e-Hookah and the like devices.
  • The main components of the liquid vaporized are nicotine, propylene glycol or glycerol, and flavourings.
  • e-cigarettes have documented adverse effects on humans including DNA damage, carcinogenic, cellular, molecular and immunological toxicity, respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological disorders and adverse impact on fetal development and pregnancy.

Prohibition of Nicotine

nicotine

  • Nicotine is prohibited for use Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Food Safety and Standards Act 2006.
  • Nicotine and Nicotine Sulphate are listed as hazardous chemicals in the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 made under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • Nicotine is also Listed as an insecticide in the Schedule of insecticides under the Insecticide Act 1968.
  • However, The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 & Rules, 1945 permit the use of Nicotine up to 2 mg and 4 mg in gums, Iozenges and strips, which may be used as aids for Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT).

Arguments against e-cigarettes

  • E-cigarettes contained not only nicotine solution, which is highly addictive, but also harmful ingredients such as flavoring agents and vaporizers.
  • While e-cigarettes typically have fewer chemicals than regular cigarettes, they may still contain heavy metals like lead which is poisonous.
  • Quitting of tobacco due to the usage of e-cigarettes have not been firmly established.
  • There is evidence that there is risk of people continuing to use both them as well as tobacco products. In fact, dual users are at greater risk of heart attacks.
  • Various flavors and attractive designs are adding to the allure the users. There is an increasing trend for the use of e-cigarettes among youth and adolescents in many countries which is harmful to their health.
  • These devices could encourage non-smokers to get addicted to tobacco.
  • Studies have found that youths using e-cigarettes and other such devices are more likely to use regular cigarettes later.
  • Even though warnings on many ENDS products clearly indicate that they cannot provide alternative to smoking, e-cigarettes are often falsely promoted as alternative to smoking.
  • The Tobacco industry claims that the sale of ENDS products does not violate any regulations despite the fact that the companies are in clear violation of WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which prohibits the sale of any product that appeals to minors.
  • E-cigarettes have caused fires and explosions resulting in injuries, loss of lives and property. Further, their accidental ingestion by children has also caused some deaths.

Argument in favour of e-cigarettes

  • E- cigarettes produce far fewer carcinogens than traditional cigarettes. Since e-cigarettes use vapor technology, they expose users to fewer carcinogens.
  • In multiple studies and surveys, e-cigarettes have been shown to potentially help smokers to reduce their habit or to quit altogether.
  • The second-hand effects (unintentional inhalation of vapor by a person from another person using e-cigarettes) are far less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Though second-hand vapor exists, the levels of smoke and second-hand effects of vaping are magnitudes lower than traditional smoking.
  • They are more socially acceptable and do not smell. E-cigarettes provide the same experience and sensation for smokers but can be used in far more places.
  • They are a cheaper alternative to smoking. While this has not been extensively researched, studies in the U.K. and the U.S. show that vaping habits can be up to 40 percent less expensive than cigarette smoking habits.
  • ENDS and vaping products are sold across about 70 countries around the world and there are clear laws that regulate ENDS.
  • The Delhi High Court and the Bombay High Court in their orders of March 2019 and July 2019 respectively have held that ENDS are not drugs and therefore cannot be banned under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and hence no proceedings can be initiated against the manufacturers, sellers and importers of ENDS.

Way Ahead

  • Instead of bringing in an ordinance to ban products which may not necessarily be harmful, it would be better if we lay down standards and regulate such products so that there is appropriate quality control and we safeguard public health besides attracting investments.
[Ref: PIB, Business Standard]

 

DEPwD Launches MIS Portal Under Accessible India Campaign

The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has developed a Management Information System (MIS) for stakeholders of Accessible India Campaign (AIC).

MIS-Portal-Under-Accessible-India-Campaign

About Accessible India Campaign (AIC)

  • Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) is a nation-wide Campaign launched by Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) to provide universal accessibility to persons with disabilities.

Accessible-India-Campaign-(AIC)

It has the following three important components:

  1. Built Environment Accessibility
  2. Transportation System Accessibility
  3. Information and Communication Eco-System Accessibility

Key Facts

  • India is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). UNCRPD casts an obligation on all the signatory governments to take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others.
  • Accessible India Campaign is in line with the Article 9 of UNCRPD to which India is a signatory since 2007.
  • Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 categorically provides for non-discrimination in transport, non-discrimination on the road and non-discrimination in built environment.
  • Governments at the High Level Inter Governmental Meeting organized by the Korea adopted the Incheon Strategy to ‘Make the Right Real’ for PwDs in Asia and Pacific. The Strategy comprises 10 goals, 27 targets and 62 indicators, which build on UNCRPD.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Issues related to Health & Education

Next big pandemic can kill 80 million, warns WHO report

The world is not prepared for the next big pandemic, which can and kill up to 80 million people and destabilise national security, according to a report by the World Health Organization’s Global Preparedness Monitoring Board.

Next-big-pandemic-5

Findings of Global Preparedness Monitoring Board

  • The report pointed to the 1918 influenza pandemic as an example of a global catastrophe which killed 2.8% of the total world population. It says that if a similar contagion happened today, it could kill up to 80 million people and wipe out 5% of the global economy.

Next-big-pandemic-6

  • Epidemic-prone diseases such as influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), Ebola, Zika, and others, are upcoming fast-spreading outbreaks that are more frequently detected.
  • A convergence of ecological, political, economic and social trends, including population growth, urbanisation, globally integrated economy, widespread and faster travel, conflict, migration and climate change has raised the frequency and size of epidemics.
  • Currently, 59 countries have developed a National Action Plan for Health Security, yet none of them have been fully financed.
  • Poorer countries, especially those without basic primary health care, are hit the hardest by disease outbreaks. In these places, the problem is often compounded by armed conflict or a deep distrust in health services, as seen in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) which has been ravaged by an Ebola outbreak for more than a year.

Recommendations

  • Committing and investing in preparedness
  • Conducting exercises
  • Engaging many different sectors of society to build trust,
  • Making sure resources in place to quickly develop and distribute counter-measures and
  • Making sure even the poorest nations have adequate funding to build up their own health systems.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]

 

Union HRD Minister launches WAWE Summit 2019 and other initiatives of AICTE

Union Human Resource Development Minister launched several initiatives of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) including Facilitation through Margadarshan and Margadarshak, Model Curriculum for Diploma Courses, Waste Management Accelerator for Aspiring Women Entrepreneurs (WAWE Summit 2019) and 360-degree Feedback of Faculty.

WAWE-Summit-2019

About Waste Management Accelerator for Aspiring Women Entrepreneurs (WAWE) Summit 2019

  • It will be jointly organized by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Institute of Waste Management (IIWM) at Jaipur in November-December 2019.
  • It will be the largest gathering of young women students to promote entrepreneurship in waste management and providing alternatives to single use plastic carry bags.
  • Theme of the summit will be: Make your own bag

About Margadarshan

  • Under this scheme, institutions having good accreditation record will mentor newer 10 – 12 potential institutions.
  • These institutions are also provided funding upto Rs. 50 lakhs per institution over a period of three years for carrying out various activities.
  • Best practices in teaching learning process followed in mentor institute are diffused to mentee institutions.

About Margdarshak:

Margdarshak

  • Under this scheme, mentor teachers (Margdarshaks) who are either serving or superannuated will regularly visit to the mentee institutions and guide them for their improvement in quality so that institutions are able to get accreditation by National Board of Accreditation (NBA).

Selection of Mentee Institutes:

  • In the 1st phase, institutes having student enrolment of 70% or more and willing to get mentoring through AICTE’s Margadarshaks but are not yet accredited are provided Margadarshaks.
  • Remaining institutes can be covered in the subsequent phases. Willingness of mentee institutes is taken. However, response giving willingness to be a Mentee institute has been received from 400 institutes only to date.

Criteria for Margadarshaks:

  1. Must be a Ph.D.
  2. Should be from Technical Education (Engg.) Domain
  3. Min experience 20 years; Not less than 5 years in academicsAnd
  4. Designation not less than Professor if from AICTE approved institution Or
  5. Not less than Associate Professor if from IIT/NIT And
  6. Minimum 10 Research Publications Or
  7. Minimum 05 Ph.D. Guidance Or
  8. Minimum 2 Patents Or
  9. Minimum 2 Books written And
  10. Member NBA visit team / NAAC visit team Or
  11. Participated in accreditation of his/her own department at least for 2 cycles
  12. Persons from industry with passion for education & who are NBA/NAAC team members
  13. Applicants should have time to visit institutes
[Ref: PIB]

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Invasive species may soon wipe out Shola vegetation from Nilgiris: Report

Expanding plantains like tea and eucalyptus along with exotic and invasive species in the Nilgiris can wipe out Shola vegetation, according to a report filed by an expert committee formed by the Madras High Court.

nilgiris

Highlights of the Committee report

  • The committee recognises the deleterious impact of invasive species like eucalyptus, tea plantations and wattle and naturalised species like Lantana camara on the Shola forest and grasslands.
  • It said that the Shola vegetation may vanish soon as a result of exotics and tea plantations in the Ooty Nilgiris.

What is Shola Grassland?

shola

  • The name ‘shola’ is derived from the Tamil word ‘solai’ meaning a thicket or a ‘clump of bamboos’.
  • Shola, a tropical montane forests, is found in southern part of the Western Ghats. It comprises the combination of grasslands and forests.
  • It is found in western ghats at a higher altitude of about 1,600 to 2,000 metres above the mean sea level.

Features

  • The characteristic feature of shola is its mosaic of extensive grasslands associated with narrow patches of dense tree cover.
  • They consist of dwarf trees growing 25-30 feet. The trees generally grow in the ridges and depressions of these ghats, as adequate soil and moisture is found in the folds of these mountains.
  • However, owing to wind action the trees show stunted growth with spreading canopy, twiggy branchlets and foliage of different colours.

Destruction of Shola

  • Tea plantations, established by the British, have destroyed the native habitat.
  • After Independence, there was continued disregard to the ecology of the shola. The Government of Tamil Nadu established pine forests in Palani hills.
  • Also, eucalyptus plantations were grown to meet the demands of wood-based industries which used wood as fuel. Eucalyptus is a highly water consuming plant and their plantation is a short-sighted destructive measure.
  • However, the destruction of the variety of animals and other life forms, and of invaluable medicinal and other plants is another important aspect of these grasslands.

Importance of Shola

  • Conservation of shola is vital to the water security of the region since most of the rivers in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala originate from these grasslands.
  • The grasslands can arrest or hold the surface during the rains, releasing this water gradually. Many rivers of south India originate in the sholas such as Tunga Bhadra, Nethravathi, Cauvery etc.
  • With the destruction of shola, the rainwater may run-off rapidly during the rains. This will mean non-availability of water in the river streams during the times other than rains.
[Ref: Down To Earth]

 

Uttarakhand plans bio-fences to check man-animal conflict

To prevent wild animals from entering residential areas and to protect agricultural crops and livestock in areas adjoining to forests, the Uttarakhand government has decided to carry out bio-fencing by growing various species of plants in those areas.

bio-fences-to-check-man-animal-conflict

Why government is looking at bio-fencing?

  • Bio-fencing will help save the money the government spends on building walls, digging pits and on solar-powered wire fencing. Moreover, Solar-powered wire fencing is effective only when local villagers maintain them.
  • Also, through Bio-fencing, farmers can earn by growing lemongrass, a good source of oil. Bio-fencing with lemongrass prevent the entry of elephants because elephants do not like the smell of lemongrass.
  • Hence, Bio-fencing will prove to be environment-friendly and economical method to keep human-animal conflict to the minimum.

To know more about Human-Elephant conflict, refer IASToppers Mains Article: https://www.iastoppers.com/elephants-india-status-threats-solutions-mains-article/

[Ref: Indian Express]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

63rd General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary attended the 63rd General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at Vienna.

iaea

Highlights of the Chairman’s speech

  • India’s Kaiga Atomic Power Station, Karnataka has set a new world record of continuous operation for 962 days on 31 December 2018.
  • Tarapur Atomic Power Station Units (1969) are currently the oldest operating power reactors in the world.
  • Out of 19 programmes organized at the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership in India in 2018-19, eight were conducted jointly with the IAEA, thus reinforcing India’s collaboration with IAEA in capacity building.
  • India has plan for capacity addition in nuclear power generation and presently have 21 reactors under the stage of construction and planning. This will help in achieving an additional capacity of about 15,000 MWe.
  • Apsara-U, an upgraded swimming pool type reactor, operational since September 2018, can produce carrier free Cu-64 radioisotope, which has potential for usage in Positron emission tomography (PET) scans.
  • The U-233 fuelled Kalpakkam Mini Reactor (KAMINI) is being used for neutron radiography of a large number of pyro-devices from the Indian Space Research Organization, activation analysis, neutron detector testing, etc.
  • National Cancer Grid (NCG) managed by Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), was established in 2012 for creating uniform standards of cancer care across India. NCG-Vishwam Cancer Care Connect” (NCG-Vishwam 3C) was launched recently for integration of the hospitals and relevant cancer care institutes in partner countries with the National Cancer Grid (NCG) of India.

About International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.

iaea 1

  • The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization in 1957 in response to the deep fears generated by the diverse uses of nuclear technology.
  • It is the world’s central intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical co-operation in the nuclear field.
  • Though established independently of the United Nations through its own international treaty, the IAEA Statute, the IAEA reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.
  • The IAEA has its headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
  • The IAEA has two regional safeguards offices which are located in Toronto, Canada, and in Tokyo, Japan.
  • The IAEA and its former Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

General Conference of IAEA:

  • 169 member states — one vote per member.
  • Forum for debate on current issues and policies.
  • Meets once a year.
  • Approve the actions and budgets passed on from the Board of Governors.
  • Approves the nominee for Director General.

Board of Governors:

  • 22 member states (must represent a stipulated geographic diversity) — elected by the General Conference (11 members every year) – 2 year term.
  • At least 10 member states — nominated by the outgoing Board.
  • Board members each receive one vote.
  • Recommendations to the General Conference on IAEA activities and budget.
  • Responsible for publishing IAEA standards.
  • Responsible for making most of the policy of the IAEA.
  • Appoints the Director General subject to General Conference approval.

Programs of IAEA:

  • Program of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT).
  • Human Health Program.
  • Water Availability Enhancement Project.
  • International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles, 2000.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Geophysical Phenomena

Rising temperatures in Indian Ocean can boost Atlantic’s ocean currents: Study

While greenhouse warming caused by human activity is heating up the Indian oceans, it is likely to boost Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), that plays a key role in determining the weather across the world, according to a new study.

Rising-temperatures-in-Indian-Ocean

What is Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC)?

  • AMOC, sometimes referred to as the Atlantic conveyor belt, is one of the Earth’s largest water circulation systems where ocean currents move warm, salty water from the tropics to regions further north, such as western Europe and sends colder water to south.

How does AMOC occur?

  • As warm water flows northwards it cools and some evaporation occurs, which increases the amount of salt. Low temperature and a high salt content make the water denser, and this dense water sinks deep into the ocean.

Rising-temperatures-in-Indian-Ocean-1

  • The cold, dense water slowly spreads southwards, several kilometres below the surface. Eventually, it gets pulled back to the surface and warms in a process called upwelling and the circulation is complete.
  • It aids in distributing heat and energy around the earth, as the warm water it carries releases heat into the atmosphere, and in absorbing and storing atmospheric carbon.

What will be the effect of climate change on the AMOC?

  • Climate models suggest that the AMOC will weaken over the 21st Century as greenhouse gases increase.
  • This is because as the atmosphere warms, the ocean retains more heat. Meanwhile increases in rainfall and ice melt will keep ocean salinity low.
  • All these changes make the ocean water lighter (due to high temperature and low salt) and so reduce the sinking in the ‘conveyor belt’, leading to a weaker AMOC.

What is the issue?

  • For thousands of years, AMOC has remained stable, but since the past 15 years, it has been weakening, having dramatic consequences for Europe and other parts of the Atlantic rim.
  • Researchers found that rising temperatures in the Indian Ocean can help boost the AMOC and delay slow down.
  • AMOC last witnessed a slowdown 15,000 to 17,000 years ago. It caused harsh winters in Europe, with more storms or a drier Sahel in Africa due to the downward shift of the tropical rain belt.

How does rising temperatures in the Indian Ocean can help boost the AMOC?

  • Warming in the Indian Ocean generates additional precipitation, which attracts more air from other parts of the world, including the Atlantic.
  • The higher level of precipitation in the Indian Ocean will reduce precipitation in the Atlantic and increase salinity in the waters.
  • This saline water in the Atlantic, as it comes north via AMOC, will get cold much quicker than usual and sink faster, intensifying the circulation.
  • However, scientists don’t know for how long this enhanced warming in Indian Ocean will continue.
[Ref: Down To Earth]

 

Science & Technology

Giving birth at 74: Issues in debate around setting an age limit for IVF

A 74-year-old woman from Andhra Pradesh was recently recorded as the oldest in the world to give birth to twins through in-vitro fertilisation or IVF. The medical community has expressed ethical and medical concerns over conception at such an advanced age.

 

74-year-old-woman-just-gave-birth-to-twins

Why this is a concern?

  • The medical community has expressed concerns over future of children born to such an elderly couple as the average life expectancy of an Indian woman is 70 and of a man 69.
  • Pregnancy in old age poses multiple risks such as hypertension, diabetes, convulsions, bleeding, and cardiac complications to name a few. Also, a woman of that age cannot breastfeed.

In the absence of a law

  • The Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill, 2010 proposes the upper age limit at 45 for women and 50 for men to undergo the IVF procedure.
  • Since the draft ART (Regulation) Bill has not been passed yet, legal action against such clinics is impossible.
  • As of now, several centres rely on ICMR’s 2017 guidelines that recommend the same age limits. Even for adoption, the total age of the couple must not exceed 110 years.
  • With increasing life expectancy, doctors are in talks with the government to increase the IVF age limit to 50-52 years for women.

What is Assisted reproductive technology (ART)?

Assisted reproductive technology (ART)

  • Assisted reproductive technology (ART) are medical procedures used primarily to address infertility. It includes procedures such as in vitro fertilization.
  • It may include intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), cryopreservation of embryos, surrogacy, preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) etc.

What is In vitro fertilisation (IVF)?

  • In vitro fertilisation is a process of fertilisation where an ‘donor egg’ is combined with sperm outside the body, in vitro (in glass).

ivf

  • In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most common and effective type of Assisted reproductive technology (ART) which is used to treat infertility.
  • The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman’s ovulatory process, removing an ovum or ova from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a liquid in a laboratory.
  • The fertilised egg undergoes embryo culture for 2–6 days, and is then transferred to the same or another woman’s uterus, with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy.

Background

  • In 2002, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) laid out guidelines for surrogacy.
  • Further, in 2005, the ICMR issued the ‘National Guidelines for Accreditation, Supervision and Regulation of ART Clinics in India’ which prescribed the conditions that ART clinics need to comply with.
  • Both the above initiatives did not have any legislative backing.
  • Thereafter, the Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill (ART Bill) was first proposed in 2008, with the final version being brought out in 2017.
  • The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 (Surrogacy Bill) was approved by the government in 2019.

The counter-view

  • Societal pressure to have children, the fear of living without support in old age, and the loss of an only child often encourage couples to have child at old age. Also, lot of couples wants an heir to pass their property.
  • Some doctors argue that childbirth is a personal decision and each individual has the right to make that choice after counselling.

Laws in other countries

  • Most countries that have a law range the upper limit for IVF between 40 and 50 years.
  • In the US, the upper limit for IVF is 50, and for ovum donation is 45.
  • In Australia, guidelines prohibit IVF beyond menopause (52 years).
  • In the UK, 42 is the age limit for women to seek free insurance under National Health Service. In Canada, the age limit is 43.
[Ref: Indian Express]

 

Transgenic mosquitoes pass on genes to native species

An experimental trial to reduce the number of mosquitoes in a Brazilian town by releasing genetically modified mosquitoes has not gone as planned as traces of the mutated insects have been detected in the natural population of mosquitoes, which was never supposed to happen.

Transgenic-mosquitoes-1

About the Experiment to curb mosquito population

  • A British company biogenetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitos to curb the mosquito population in Jacobina, Brazil.

the-Experiment-to-curb-mosquito-population

  • The key feature of these mosquitoes is a dominant lethal gene (OX513A) that should have resulted in infertile offspring, known as the F1 generation.
  • Offspring from the mating of transgenic male mosquito and naturally occurring female mosquito do not survive to the adult stage. This is because tetracycline drug, which prevents production of dominant lethal gene (OX513A), is not present in sufficient quantity in nature. In the absence of tetracycline, there is overproduction of the lethal protein causing the mosquito to die.
  • By releasing the mosquitoes into the wild, it hoped to reduce people’s risk of contracting a host of dangerous diseases such as Zika, dengue fever, and yellow fever which are transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
  • However, after experiment, some members of the native mosquitos population had retained genes from the transgenic release strain.
  • The genetic strategy employed to control A. aegypti population known as RIDL (the Release of Insects carrying Dominant Lethal genes) is supposed to only reduce the population of the naturally occurring A. aegypti mosquitoes and not affect or alter their genetics.
  • Also, offspring are not supposed to grow to adult mosquitoes and reproduce as per claims made by the company.

Zika virus

Zika-virus-1

  • Zika, a flavivirus spread mainly by mosquitoes, belongs to the same genus as dengue and chikungunya.
  • A person gets infected with Zika virus via bites of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Dengue

Dengue-1

  • Dengue is mosquito-borne disease caused by any one of four closely related dengue viruses. These viruses are related to the viruses that cause West Nile infection and yellow fever.
  • Dengue is transmitted by the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, which are found throughout the world.

Chikungunya

Chikungunya

  • Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus that causes a disease characterised by fever and severe joint pain, often in hands and feet.
  • Symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash.
  • Some patients will feel better within a week but many develop longer-term joint pain that can last up to years. Death is rare but can occur.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

2020- “Year of AI” for Telangana- official

The Telangana government has decided to declare 2020 as Artificial Intelligence year by organising various activities related to the emerging technology.

AI

AI initiatives in Telangana

  • Telangana government has signed up with NITI Aayog on the ‘National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence‘ to run pilot projects in Telangana.
  • IT industry body NASSCOM is setting up a Centre of Excellence in Data Sciences and AI in Telangana, which is expected to start its activities in 2020.
  • IIT Khargapur will take up its first programme in AI in its upcoming regional centre in Telangana.
[Ref: Business Standard]

 

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