Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Nuclear Suppliers Group
- Lab grown meat
- India- Egypt Relationship
- Assisted Reproductive Technology
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Nuclear suppliers Group
Context: China and Pakistan signed an agreement for a 1,200 MW nuclear power plant in the Chashma nuclear complex in Pakistan. The latest nuclear deal between China and Pakistan has implications not only for the crisis-hit country but also for the global governance of nuclear commerce, with Beijing proceeding with the recent deal without seeking necessary waivers from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
What is the latest deal?
- Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on June 20 witnessed the signing of the agreement for the construction of a 1,200 MW nuclear plant. This is the fifth reactor at the Chashma nuclear complex (C-5). C-5 will be the biggest reactor at Chashma, where China has already constructed four phases of the complex, with four reactors of around 325 MW each. It will use China’s Hualong One reactor, which has also been installed in two plants in Karachi.
What are the concern about this deal?
- China’s civilian nuclear projects with Pakistan have come under scrutiny because the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which describes itself as a group of nuclear supplier countries “that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of two sets of Guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports”, explicitly prohibits the transfer of nuclear technology by its members to countries that have not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
- China joined the 48-member grouping in 2004, and argued subsequently that the Chashma 3 and Chashma 4 reactors were “grandfathered” under its earlier Chashma deals with Pakistan that pre-dated its joining of the NSG.
- The nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) granted non-nuclear-weapon states access to nuclear materials and technology for strictly peaceful purposes. Several NPT nuclear supplier states sought to determine the conditions for sharing specific equipment and materials with non-nuclear-weapon states.
- In 1971, these supplier states formed the Zangger Committee in order to require states outside the NPT to institute International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards before importing certain items that could be used to pursue nuclear weapons—referred to as the “Trigger List.”
- India’s explosion of a nuclear device in 1974 reaffirmed the fact that nuclear materials and technologies acquired under the guise of peaceful purposes could be diverted to build weapons.
- In response to India’s action, several Zangger Committee members, along with France—who was not a member of the NPT at that time—established the NSG to further regulate nuclear-related exports.
About Nuclear Suppliers Group
- Established in 1975, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is comprised of 48 states that have voluntarily agreed to coordinate their export controls to non-nuclear-weapon states.
- The NSG governs the transfers of civilian nuclear material and nuclear-related equipment and technology.
- The participants are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
- The NSG aims to prevent nuclear exports for commercial and peaceful purposes from being used to make nuclear weapons.
- In order to ensure that their nuclear imports are not used to develop weapons, NSG members are expected to forgo nuclear trade with governments that do not subject themselves to confidence-building international measures and inspections.
- The NSG also added supplemental technologies to the original Zangger Committee’s “Trigger List,” becoming Part I of the NSG Guidelines. In addition, NSG members agreed to apply their trade restrictions to all states, not just those outside the NPT.
- The NSG has two sets of Guidelines listing the specific nuclear materials, equipment, and technologies that are subject to export controls.
- Part I lists materials and technology designed specifically for nuclear use. These include fissile materials, nuclear reactors and equipment, and reprocessing and enrichment equipment. First published in 1978, Part I responded to India’s 1974 diversion of nuclear imports for supposedly peaceful purposes to conduct a nuclear explosion. To be eligible for importing Part I items from an NSG member, states must have comprehensive IAEA safeguards covering all their nuclear activities and facilities. In the case of Part II goods, IAEA safeguards are only required for the specific nuclear activity or facility designated for the import.
- Part II identifies dual-use goods; non-nuclear items with legitimate civilian applications that can also be used to develop weapons. Machine tools and lasers are two types of dual-use goods. NSG members adopted Part II in 1992 after discovering how close Iraq came to realizing its nuclear weapons ambitions. Iraq had illicitly employed dual-use imports in a covert nuclear weapons program before the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Membership Criteria: Factors taken into account for membership include the following:
- The ability to supply items (including items in transit) covered by the annexes to Parts 1 and 2 of the NSG Guidelines
- Adherence to the Guidelines and action in accordance with them
- Enforcement of a legally based domestic export control system which gives effect to the commitment to act in accordance with the Guidelines
- Full compliance with the obligations of one or more of the following: the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Treaties of Pelindaba, Rarotonga, Tlatelolco, Bangkok, or an equivalent international nuclear nonproliferation agreement
- Support of international efforts towards nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and of their delivery vehicles
2 . Lab Grown Meat
Context: Two California-based companies were cleared to make and sell cell-cultivated chicken, the ‘official’ name of chicken meat that is grown in a laboratory for human consumption.
What is cell-cultivated chicken?
- Lab-grown meat — or cultivated or cell-based meat — is meat that is developed from animal cells and grown, with the help of nutrients like amino acids, in massive bioreactors.
- To make cell-cultivated meat, the two companies isolate the cells that make up the meat and put them in a setting where they have all the resources they need to grow and make more copies of themselves. These resources are typically nutrients, fats, carbohydrates, amino acids, the right temperature, etc.
- The ‘setting’ in which this process transpires is often a bioreactor (also known as a ‘cultivator’), a sensor-fit device — like a container — that has been designed to support a particular biological environment.
- Once there are enough of these cells, which takes around two to three weeks in Upside’s process, they resemble a mass of minced meat. They are collected and processed with additives to improve texture.
Why was cell-cultivated meat created?
- Its proponents have advanced the following arguments, among others — emissions, land use, prevention of animal cruelty, and food security. The first two are related to climate mitigation.
- The FAO has estimated that global livestock is responsible for 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions.
- Of this, the production of beef as a commodity accounted for 41% whereas chicken meat and eggs accounted for 8%. Similarly, the 2021 report estimated that lab-cultivated meat would use 63% less land in the case of chicken.
- Alternative meat’s proponents have advanced it as a way to meet the world’s nutritional security needs.
What are the challenges?
- Consumer acceptance: Perfectly substituting animal meat with alternative meat requires it to match the original in taste, texture and appearance. Researchers have achieved some success on these counts but it remains a work in progress.
- Cost of cell-cultivated meat: cost of cell-cultivated meat is expected to remain high in the near future. One 2020 analysis concluded that it may never be cost-competitive, while reports have also expressed concerns about the costs imposed by quality control, especially at scale.
- Requirement of High-Quality Stem Cell: for cultivation, researchers require high quality cells, a suitable growth-medium in which the cells can be cultured, plus other resources required to maintain the quality of the final product.
- Uncertainty associated with the cultured meat: If cell cultivation requires a “highly refined growth medium”, like that used in the pharmaceutical industry, the “environmental impact of near-term [cell-cultivated meat] production is likely to be orders of magnitude higher than median beef production.
3 . India- Egypt Relationship
Context: India and Egypt signed an agreement on a strategic partnership as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held bilateral talks with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo.
- India and Egypt are two of the world’s ancient civilizations with a history of close contact. Numerous historians have recorded the common heritage of the ancient civilizations of these two countries. Some historians have attempted to conclude that the Dravidians from India laid the foundations of Egyptian civilization.
- Egyptians also believe in the traditional discourse that they originally came from the South, from a land called Punt, which a historian, Dr H.R. Hall, thought referred to some part of India. Adolf Erman (1854-1937), author of the book “Life in ancient Egypt”.
- There is also a clear mention of good relations with Egypt in Emperor Ashoka’s edicts. In Ashoka’s thirteenth rock edict, inscribed in the early decades of the third century B. C, Ashoka mentions his contacts with Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Egypt (285-246 BC). In modern history, the freedom movement of both countries had common threads wherein Mahatma Gandhi and Saad Zaghloul shared similar goals towards gaining independence.
- India and Egypt share close political understanding based on long history of contacts and cooperation in bilateral, regional and global issues.
- The joint announcement of establishment of diplomatic relations at Ambassadorial level was made on 18 August 1947.
- Both countries have cooperated closely in multilateral fora and were the founding members of Non-Aligned Movement.
- India-Egypt relations could not, however, maintain the positive momentum in the coming decades, especially after Anwar Sadat became the President. With Sadat choosing to align with the US and India ideologically aligned with the USSR during the cold war period, the relations remained low-key.
- Ties remained stagnant until a breakthrough in November 2008, when President Hosni Mubarak visited India. Bilateral ties had stalled due to mutual neglect, and it was time to change that. Both sides decided to establish a Strategic and Security Policy Dialogue at the level of foreign ministers
- The year 2022 is of particular significance since it marks the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between India and Egypt.
- Egypt has traditionally been one of India’s most important trading partners on the African continent. The India-Egypt Bilateral Trade Agreement has been in operation since March 1978 and is based on the Most Favoured Nation clause and the bilateral trade has increased more than five times in last ten years. Bilateral trade has expanded rapidly in 2021-22, amounting to 7.26 billion registering a 75% increase compared to FY 2020-21.
- India’s exports to Egypt during this period amounted to US$ 3.74 billion, registering a 65% increase over the same period in FY 2020-21. At the same time, Egypt’s exports to India reached US$ 3.52 billion registering an 86% increase.
- During this period of 2021-22, the top Indian imports from Egypt were Mineral Oil/Petroleum, Fertilizers, Inorganic Chemicals and Cotton and main items of export to Egypt from India were Buffalo Meat, Iron & Steel, Light Vehicles and Cotton Yarn. According to the Egyptian Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), India was 3rd largest export market for Egypt, 6th largest trading partner and 7th largest exporter to Egypt.
- Wheat export from India: Russia-Ukraine conflict has threatened Egypt with a shortage for wheat, 80% of which is imported from Russia and Ukraine. On 14 April 2022, Egyptian Cabinet announced inclusion of India in the list of accredited countries which can supply wheat to Egypt, thus ending a long pending Non-Tariff Barrier. Though the ban on wheat exports in India posed a difficulty in concluding the shipment, an initial shipment of 61,500 metric tons of wheat was cleared by India for Egypt on 17th May 2022. The shipment is expected to reach in early June 2022. A BSM for Indian wheat and corn is also being planned by the Mission.
- Egypt and India enjoy cordial defence relations. There was close cooperation between the Air Forces, with efforts at jointly developing a fighter aircraft in the 1960s. Egypt participated in the Multinational Training Exercise for friendly African countries held at Pune in March 2019.
- The first ever IAF-EAF Joint Tactical Air Exercise, Dessert Warrior, was held from 29-31 October 2021. 5 x Mirage-2000s and 1 tanker (IL-78) participated in the exercise from India. The exercise comprised of advanced manoeuvrings, including air-to-air refuelling.
- The Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC) has been promoting cultural cooperation between the two countries, through regular activities such as Hindi, Urdu and Yoga classes; seminars; film shows; exhibitions and participation in local cultural activities.
- At present, the Indian community in Egypt numbers at around 3200, most of whom are concentrated in Cairo. There are also a small number of families in Alexandria, Port Said and Ismailia. A majority of the Indians are either employed with Indian companies or are professionals with various multinationals.
Importance of Egypt
- Egypt is a pillar of the Arab world and a key regional leader of the African continent. The Suez Canal, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, offers the shortest sea link between the East and the West. As the largest Arab nation with a population of over 80 million, Egypt has traditionally played a central role in regional politics for decades.
- Egypt plays a pivotal role in managing relations with Iran and Turkey and combating sea piracy across the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Egypt also possesses one of the largest and most well-equipped armed forces in the region and has the 10th largest army in the world. Egypt’s importance to the area is therefore undeniable. As a result, there is a strong connection between the various developments within Egypt and the region.
- As India seeks to expand its economic and strategic interests in the Gulf region and Africa and further strengthen its ‘Look West’ policy, peace and stability in the area are critical. Egypt forms a key vector in this equation.
4 . Assisted Reproductive technology
Context: The Health Ministry had notified the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulations (ART), 2023, which are aimed at providing donors and patients with better medical care and security earlier this year.
About New Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation:
- The new ART provisions impose restrictions on the number of times a donor, male or female, can donate (sperm/oocyte) in their lifetime, and specifies age limits for donors.
- The provision states that an oocyte donor should be a person who have been married at least once in their lives and have at least one living child of her own (minimum three years of age). She can donate oocyte only once in her lifetime and not more than seven oocytes can be retrieved.
- An ART bank cannot supply gamete (reproductive cell) of a single donor to more than one commissioning couple (couple seeking services).
- Additionally, parties seeking ART services will be required to provide insurance coverage in the favour of the oocyte donor (for any loss, damage, or death of the donor).
- A clinic is prohibited from offering to provide a child of pre-determined sex. Also checking for genetic diseases before the embryo implantation is needed.
What are the concern regarding the new provision?
- The new provisions have pushed up the already high medical costs and are proving to be a challenge for treating doctors and couples wanting to have children through ART because of the restricted and limited resource availability in terms of donors.
- The restrictions significantly limit the opportunities for ART couples to find suitable donors. It also restricts the number of donation attempts.
5 . Facts for Prelims
Prokaryotes & Eukaryotes,
- Cells fall into one of two broad categories: prokaryotic and eukaryotic. The single-celled organisms of the domains Bacteria and Archaea are classified as prokaryotes. Animal cells, plant cells, fungi, and protists are eukaryotes.
- All cells share four common components: (1) a plasma membrane, an outer covering that separates the cell’s interior from its surrounding environment; (2) cytoplasm, consisting of a jelly-like region within the cell in which other cellular components are found; (3) DNA, the genetic material of the cell; and (4) ribosomes, particles that synthesize proteins. However, prokaryotes differ from eukaryotic cells in several ways.
- Prokaryotic Cells- Prokaryote refers to any of the group of living organisms primarily characterized by the lack of a true nucleus and other membrane-bound organelles, such as mitochondria and chloroplasts, and by the possession of a single loop of stable chromosomal DNA in the nucleoid region and cytoplasmic structures, such as plasma membrane, vacuoles, primitive cytoskeleton, and ribosomes. Examples of prokaryotes are bacteria and archaea.
- Eukaryotic Cells- The eukaryotes include all the protists, plants, animals and fungi. In eukaryotic cells there is an extensive compartmentalisation of cytoplasm through the presence of membrane bound organelles. Eukaryotic cells possess an organised nucleus with a nuclear envelope. In addition, eukaryotic cells have a variety of complex locomotory and cytoskeletal structures. Their genetic material is organised into chromosomes. All eukaryotic cells are not identical. Plant and animal cells are different as the former possess cell walls, plastids and a large central vacuole which are absent in animal cells. On the other hand, animal cells have centrioles which are absent in almost all plant cells
Climate Shift Index
- Researchers at Climate Central, a US-based climate research and communications group, found that the three-day extreme heat event over parts of UP from was made at least two times more likely by climate change.
- Climate Shift Index (CSI), developed by Climate Central uses a categorical five-point scale to show how climate change makes daily average temperatures more or less likely around the world.
- Currently, the index includes more than 1,000 cities and the online real-time map can also reveal changes across regions around cities.
- CSI levels over 1 indicate a clear climate change signal, while levels between 2 and 5 mean that climate change made those temperatures between two and five times more likely.
- A CSI of 4 means that the day’s temperature was made at least four times more likely than it would have been without the influence of climate change.
- A radio telescope is a specialized antenna and radio receiver used to detect radio waves from astronomical radio sources in the sky.
- Radio telescopes are the main observing instrument used in radio astronomy, which studies the radio frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum emitted by astronomical objects, just as optical telescopes are the main observing instrument used in traditional optical astronomy which studies the light wave portion of the spectrum coming from astronomical objects.
- Unlike optical telescopes, radio telescopes can be used in the daytime as well as at night.
- Uses– Since astronomical radio sources such as planets, stars, nebulas and galaxies are very far away, the radio waves coming from them are extremely weak, so radio telescopes require very large antennas to collect enough radio energy to study them, and extremely sensitive receiving equipment. Radio telescopes are typically large parabolic (“dish”) antennas like those employed in tracking and communicating with satellites and space probes. They may be used individually or linked together electronically in an array.
- Radio observatories are preferentially located far from major centers of population to avoid electromagnetic interference (EMI) from radio, television, radar, motor vehicles, and other man-made electronic devices.
Vikram and Pragyan
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to retain the names of the Chandrayaan-2 lander and rover for their Chandrayaan-3 equivalents as well
- This means, the Chandrayaan-3 lander will bear the name ‘Vikram’ (after Vikram Sarabhai, the father of the Indian space programme) and the rover, ‘Pragyan’.
- A propulsion module will carry the lander-rover configuration to a 100-km lunar orbit. Once the ‘Vikram’ lander module makes it safely to the moon, it will deploy ‘Pragyan’ ‘‘which will carry out in-situ chemical analysis of the lunar surface during the course of its mobility.
- The lander will have four payloads — Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive ionosphere and Atmosphere (RAMBHA), Chandra’s Surface Thermo physical Experiment (ChaSTE), Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA) and the LASER Retroreflector Array (LRA). The six-wheeled rover will have two payloads — the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) and the LASER Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS).
- In addition to these, there will be one payload on the propulsion module, the Spectro-polarimetry of HAbitable Planet Earth (SHAPE).