CAO Daily Editorial analysis for UPSC IAS 17th-January, 2018

Current Affairs Only Daily Editorial Analysis for Competitive Exams


17th Jan, 2018

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‘In 50 years, there’s been no new neuropsychiatric drug’ {Science and Technology}

(The Hindu)


Context

This article talks about the study of behaviour of our brains during emotions

The way our brain functions

Neural circuits that control supposedly innate behaviour are wired in the brain, the more we realise that there is experience-dependent plasticity that sculpts those circuits. Some components of the behaviour are hardwired

We are born with the ability to learn language as it is hardwired into our brains by evolution, but which language we speak depends on where we grow up.

Key point

The behaviours— aggression and mating behaviour — are, in a sense, hardwired. The animal doesn’t need to be trained in how to do those behaviours, but it needs experience to express them correctly, namely, aggression towards another male competing for a female and expressing mating behaviour towards females.

Other observation

  • We can deduce the type of behaviour that the animal (a mouse in a cage) is engaging in. When another mouse is brought into the cage, we can say from the pattern of brain activity in a specific region (of the first mouse’s brain) if it’s fighting, ‘sniffing’, or investigating if the new mouse is male.
  •  If it’s female, we can predict if it’s sniffing or mounting (the female). This is just by taking the patterns of brain activity, performing a computational analysis and asking whether we can train a computer algorithm to predict the behaviour the animal is engaged in.

Brain Imaging

A scanner detects radioactive material that is injected or inhaled to create an image. Commonly used radioactively-labeled material includes oxygen, fluorine, carbon and nitrogen. When this material gets into the bloodstream, it goes to areas of the brain that use it. So, oxygen and glucose accumulate in brain areas that are metabolically active. When the radioactive material breaks down, it gives off a neutron and a positron. When a positron hits an electron, both are destroyed and two gamma rays are released. Gamma ray detectors record the brain area where the gamma rays are emitted. This method provides scientists with an idea of the function of the brain.

Advantages

  1. Provides an image of brain activity.

Disadvantages

  1. Expensive to use.
  2. Radioactive material used.

Observing brain behaviour in humans

  • Brain is that the neurons that control aggression — and to some extent mating — in males are neurons that express the oestrogen receptor.
  • Now, many people find that surprising because the popular view is that aggression is controlled by testosterone and female behaviours by oestrogen. That, however, is only partly true.
  • There is an enzyme in the brain called aromatase that can convert testosterone into oestrogen. The two molecules are so close to each other — it’s a very simple chemical reaction — and in many species it is known that if you block that enzyme, you can block aggressive behaviour.
  • There are drugs that block aromatase that have been used in humans for decades, but have only been used in females as adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Issues in testing medicines

  • It’s been very difficult to raise even small amounts of money to test this in the U.S. because these drugs are off-patent, available in a generic form and offer no profits for companies in finding a new use for an old drug.
  • Work on both mice and fruit flies, mice being mammals, maybe closer to humans than flies, but they’re still not human. There’s a dismal history of failure in the pharmaceutical industry in translating studies of emotional behaviour of anxiety in rats or mice to humans.

Neuropsychiatry

It is a branch of medicine that deals with mental disorders attributable to diseases of the nervous system. It preceded the current disciplines of psychiatry and neurology, which had common training, however, psychiatry and neurology have subsequently split apart and are typically practiced separately.

Nevertheless, neuropsychiatry has become a growing subspecialty of psychiatry and it is also closely related to the fields of neuropsychology and behavioral neurology.


The people connection {International Relations}

(The Hindu)


Context

This article deals with relations between India and Israel, Young Israelis visit India in huge numbers each year, forging a stronger acquaintance.

Why in news?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is accompanied on his visit to India by a large delegation drawn from the defence, cyber, and agricultural sectors; he intends to boost trade, investment, and tourism between the two nations.

Highlights

  • This year, Israel’s will spend $5-6 million in India in a bid to boost tourism to Israel. The goal is to have one lakh tourists visiting Israel in 2018. Ministry of Tourism
  • Several people from the Israeli foreign service visited India to help make arrangements for those Jews who wished to makealiyah – the right of any Jew to “ascend” to Israel.

Most Israelis knew little about India until about the mid-1990s. Some of the European pioneers of Israel were familiar with Tagore’s writings, and a street in Tel Aviv is named after him.

Condition of Indian origin Jewish in Israel

There are many Indian Jews living in Israel – over 80,000 – they have remained a relatively quiet and somewhat “invisible” community.

In Israel, Indian Jews are largely subsumed into the larger “Mizrahi” community of non-white Jews from North Africa and West Asia.

The Jews from Cochin settled mostly in “ moshavs ”, or community farms, in southern Israel.

The Indian Jews in Israel have always held strong ties to India

‘A human bridge’

More than 40,000 Israelis visit India each year. For a country with a population of 6.5 million, that is a considerable number. India is now almost an obligatory visit for Israelis after finishing their compulsory army service.


Be colour blind {Rights Issues}

(Indian Express)


Context

This article talks about colour of passports in India

Why in news?

As per the new rules issued by the Ministry of External Affairs last week, those who require emigration check (the ECR category) will hereafter be issued orange-coloured passports while others (ECNR category) will get blue ones.

Idea behind the proposal

  • The government will be able to protect vulnerable labourers, who form the bulk of ECR category, from exploitation when they travel outside India.
  • The intention behind the proposal is, no doubt, laudable, but in practice it is likely to facilitate discrimination.
  • The colour of passport could become an easy marker to segregate Indian citizens on the basis of their socio-economic profile and discriminate against vulnerable sections.

The Emigration Act, 1983

  • Insists that certain categories of Indian passport holders obtain an “Emigration Clearance” from the office of the Protector of Emigrants (POE) before travelling to certain countries.
  • The “ECR” stamp is to ensure the safety of uneducated and unskilled Indian citizens, leaving India with the intent to secure employment, against the prevailing legal conditions in those countries.
  • The Indian Constitution promises all citizens equal rights and envisages an equal social order, irrespective of caste, class, language, ethnicity etc, in place of a society, which practised, in Babasaheb Ambedkar’s words, graded inequality.
  • Different passports for different classes is a return to an unequal social order: You can’t be equal if you are kept different.

 


 

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