The HINDU Notes – 17th July 2017(Daily News Paper Analysis)
Govt. panel to study cow derivatives
The government has set up a 19-member panel to carry out what it says will be scientifically validated research on cow derivatives including its urine, and their benefits.
- The committee will select projects that can help scientifically validate the benefits of panchgavya — the concoction of cow dung, cow urine, milk, curd and ghee — in various spheres such as nutrition, health and agriculture.
- The government has given the project the acronym SVAROP, which stands for Scientific Validation and Research on Panchagavya, and says it is a “national programme” that’s being conducted by the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of the Ministry of Science and Technology in collaboration with IIT-Delhi.
- This multi-disciplinary programme will involve participation of other related ministries, government departments, academic institutions, research laboratories, voluntary organisations and others to carry out research and development and also build capacities, and cover five thematic areas including scientific validation of uniqueness of indigenous cows.
- It will cover “scientific validation of ‘panchagavya’ for medicines and health, scientific validation of ‘panchagavya’ and its products for agriculture applications, scientific validation of ‘panchagavya’ for food and nutrition.
Flood situation grim in south Odisha: Army, Air Force help sought
- Thousands of villagers in Odisha’s Rayagada and Kalahandi districts have been cut off by flood waters following flash floods triggered by incessant rains.
- One person died in a landslide while dozens of villages were marooned by flood waters.
- Four bridges, including a railway bridge, were washed away in swirling flood waters, with disruption in both vehicular and train movement.
- As the situation continued to be grim, four helicopters of the Indian Air Force (IAF) have been requisitioned for air-dropping of food packets as well as rescue of people.
- The government has also intimated the Army about the situation.
- Both the district administrations had already started rescue operations with the help of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the OdishaDisaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and State fire service personnel.
- Three units of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) with equipment and boats will be joining the operation.
Liquor ban in Bihar hits TB diagnosis
- Conducting tests for diagnosing tuberculosis (TB) has become an uphill task in Bihar since the ban on liquor was imposed in Bihar in 2016, said a senior Health Department official.
- This has prompted the Union Health Ministry to write to the State Health Department seeking special exemption for procuring and using alcohol and spirits for uninterrupted diagnostic services.
- There is a scarcity of ethyl alcohol, which is used to conduct such tests in the laboratories, including those in government facilities.
- The reagents required for smear microscopy (both Ziehl-Neelsen and Fluorescent staining) include absolute alcohol.
- The spirit is also needed for the lamps used for making smears.
- Cleaning of plungers of the CBNAAT, as part of monthly maintenance, also requires alcohol.
- Freshly prepared 70 per cent alcohol is also required at all levels for surface disinfection.
Gloom at SV zoo as third animal dies
- Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park (SVZP), Andhra Pradesh has been gloomy as three animals died in succession, all within a span of a week.
- A nine-month-old white tiger cub succumbed to kidney failure, linked to its pre-existing genetic condition.
- Earlier, the lone giraffe Suboo and a rescued lioness Champa died due to traumatic shock and old age respectively.
- The cub was an offshoot of the menagerie’s ‘Captive Breeding’ programme.
- In the past couple of years, the authorities have focused on scaling up the captive breeding of lions, tigers, white tigers and leopards.
- The Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park not only exhibits animals, but is also a centre for ‘Captive Breeding’ programme and houses two Animal Rescue Centres (ARCs). ARC is a facility to provide improved upkeep and healthcare to rescued animals.
- The zoo park, plans to open a ‘White Tiger Safari’, tentatively in August.
- This would be an added attraction to the Lion Safari and Deer Safari.
Guardian UAV deal with U.S. still a work in progress
- An American approval for the sale of 22 Guardian maritime surveillance has come India’s way, but defence sources say the actual deal is a long way off as New Delhi is evaluating the options available.
- Given the Sea Guardian’s capabilities, such a U.S. response to the Indian Navy’s request demonstrates a major change in U.S. policy as this type of aircraft capability is only exported to a very select few of America’s closest defence partners. This represents tangible implementation of U.S. Congress’ designation of India as a Major Defence Partner.
- The Navy currently operates Israeli Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAVs and is keen on acquiring High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) to augment its maritime surveillance capabilities.
Release of GM mustard faces another hurdle
- Dissent has crept in among agricultural scientists of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) over the possible release of genetically modified mustard.
- In May, NAAS President wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, endorsing DMH-11, a variety of mustard developed by Deepak Pental of Delhi University, a NAAS Fellow, that employs genes from soil bacterium.
- If approved, it would be the first transgenic edible crop to be grown in Indian fields.
- The plant had gone through adequate tests and was declared “safe” and passed regulatory muster.
A dissent note by a member
- However, P.C. Kesavan, also a Fellow of the NAAS, wrote that he disagreed with this endorsement.
- According to him, the resolution of the NAAS is neither scientifically valid, nor ethical, and therefore not maintainable.
Counter arguments to GM Mustard
- DMH-11 is a hybrid variety of mustard developed by crossing a traditional variety of mustard, called Varuna, and an East European variety.
- DMH-11 did not perform as well as several other varieties and mustard hybrids and that the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), the Environment Ministry body that cleared DMH-11, was riddled by a “conflict of interest.”
- Using genetically-modified technology to produce hybrid seed varieties was a “failed experiment” as evidenced by the experience of Bt cotton.
- Though the latter occupied 95% of India’s acreage, its yields were on the decline since 2006, largely due to insect resistance, and that it nearly tripled the cost of producing cotton between 2006-2013.
- The NAAS — a 625-member body of agricultural scientists — had about 200 scientists in its quorum when it passed a resolution endorsing the GEAC’s decision to clear DMH-11 for commercial field trials.
- The GEAC, India’s apex regulator for genetically modified seeds, had cleared GM mustard for environmental release and use in farmer fields on May 11 this year.
Plea in SC seeks curbs on cryptocurrencies
- The Supreme Court has asked the Reserve Bank of India to consider the issues raised by a PIL petitioner seeking urgent steps to restrain the sale and purchase of illegal cryptocurrencies or “Virtual Currency” (VCs) like bitcoins.
PIL was filed in SC to seek curb on cryptocurrencies on following grounds
- Virtual currency was being traded anonymously over the Internet and used for a host of anti-national and illegal activities, from terror funding to illicit trade of arms and drugs and so on.
- The use of the parallel currency is having a negative impact on Indian currency.
- The online use of this currency, was without any border restrictions or geographical constraints, resulting in danger to the integrity and sovereignty of the nation.
IBBI notifies rules for bankruptcy probe
- IBBI, which is implementing the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), has notified the regulations for inspection and investigation of service providers registered with it.
- The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) has powers to start probe against service providers registered with it without intimating them.
- As per the regulations, the investigation authority has to serve a notice intimating the entity concerned about the probe at least ten days in advance.
- However, the requirement could be done away with on grounds such as apprehensions that the records of the particular service provider might be destroyed before the probe starts.
- Insolvency professional agencies, professionals, entities and information utility are considered as service providers under the Code.
3D-printed, functional heart made
- Scientists have developed a 3D-printed soft silicone heart that closely resembles and functions like the human organ, and could help save lives of people who suffer from cardiac failure.
- About 26 million people worldwide suffer from heart failure. The soft artificial heart weighs 390 grams and has a volume of 679 cubic centimetres.
- It is a silicone monoblock with complex inner structure.