Daily Current Affairs : 9th February 2024

Topics Covered

  1. CRISPR
  2. Pradhan Mantri Matsya Kisan Samridhi Sah-Yojana
  3. Kaladan Project
  4. Facts for Prelims

    1 . CRISPR


    Context: Casgevy and Lyfgenia, the two cell-based gene therapies approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for sickle cell anemia treatment and beta-thalassemia utilise the Nobel-winning CRISPR/Cas 9 genome editing technology. 

    About the gene therapies approved by FDA

    • Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR), a feature of the bacterial immune system, forms the basis for the genome editing technology.  
    • The system in bacteria serves as a warehouse for past infections by storing a part of the viral genetic material and incorporating it into its own, so the next time it is attacked, the bacteria is capable of recognising the virus and destroying it. The bacteria is immunised when it employs the CRISPR system. 
    • The CRISPR-Cas system is effective and easy to manipulate. Researchers have adapted it as a tool to cut, delete, or add DNA sequences at precise locations, opening different windows to treat genetic disorders, develop drought-resistant plants, modify food crops, or experiment with de-extinction projects involving the woolly mammoth and the dodo. 

    About CRISPR

    • Unusual but repeated DNA structures that scientists had been observing were given a name — Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats or CRISPR.
    • In 2012, scientists discovered that CRISPR is a key part of the “immune system”. For instance, when a virus enters a bacterium, it fights back by cutting up the virus’s DNA. This kills the virus but the bacterium store some of the DNA.
    • The next time there is an invasion, the bacterium produce an enzyme called Cas9 which matches the stored fingerprints with that of the invader’s. If it matches, Cas9 can snip the invading DNA.

    Components of CRISPR Cas 9 Gene Editing Tool

    • The CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tool thus has two components — a short RNA sequence that can bind to a specific target of the DNA and the Cas9 enzyme which acts like a molecular scissor to cut the DNA.

    Gene Editing using CRISPR

    • To edit a gene of interest, the short RNA sequence that perfectly matches with the DNA sequence that has to be edited is introduced.
    • Once it binds to the DNA, the Cas9 enzyme cuts the DNA at the targeted location where the RNA sequence is bound.
    • Once the DNA is cut, the natural DNA repair mechanism is utilised to add or remove genetic material or make changes to the DNA.
    • Dr. He used the CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing technique in the twin girls to disable a gene called CCR5, which encodes a protein that allows HIV to enter and infect cells

    Regulation in India

    • The decision-making process for CRISPR research is governed by the existing legal and regulatory framework. 
    • The New Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules (2019) classify Gene Therapy Products (GTPs), including those developed through CRISPR, as new drugs, subjecting them to a thorough approval process by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO). 
    • Additional requirements will be determined following the ICMR-DBT National guidelines for GTPs and oversight by bodies such as the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) and the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) as applicable. 
    • Moreover, all biomedical and health research in India must adhere to the ICMR National Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical and Health Research Involving Human Participants, 2017. 

    Germline editing and CRISPR

    • Apart from the health equity and disparities associated with CRISPR, one of the biggest controversies has been about germline editing.
    • Most of the scientific community supports the use of CRISPR to treat monogenic diseases. Germline editing is heritable and more complex and begs the question if it is even moral to subject an individual to heritable changes, even if it is to treat debilitating genetic conditions.
    • As of now, genome editing is restricted to somatic cells and there is a moratorium on germline editing.
    • Chinese scientist He Jiankui took the scientific world by storm when he announced that he had edited healthy embryos in an attempt to minimise girls’ predisposition to HIV infection. This was in 2018 despite having guidelines against germline editing and at a time when studies had no clear-cut answers to the outcome of such an intervention.
    • Guidelines, laws, and dialogues around ethical, societal, and safety issues need to evolve parallelly as technology evolves. “Most countries including India have forbidden genome editing in human embryos through legal instruments or through guidelines. In India every Institution involved in biomedical research is required to follow ICMR National Ethical Guidelines and register with the ethics committee which monitors research (including around gene editing)
    • The gene editing technology has also raised concerns regarding it becoming a commodity that wealthy parents will exploit to improve the fate of their children not only for therapeutic purposes but for genetic enhancement.

    2 . Pradhan Mantri Matsya Kisan Samridhi Sah-Yojana


    Context: The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Kisan Samridhi Sah-Yojana, a sub scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana, for the micro and small enterprises operating in the fisheries sector. 

    About the Scheme 

    • The Sub-scheme will be implemented as a Central Sector Sub-scheme under the Central Sector Component of the PMMSY at an estimated outlay of Rs.6,000 crore consisting of 50% i.e. Rs.3,000 crore public finance including the World Bank and the AFD external financing, and rest 50% i.e.Rs.3,000 crore being the anticipated investment from the beneficiaries/private sector leverage 
    •  It will be implemented for 4 (four) years from FY 2023-24 to FY 2026-27 across all the States and UTs. 

    Intended Beneficiaries

    • Fishers, Fish (Aquaculture) Farmers, Fish workers, Fish Vendors or such other person directly engaged in fisheries value chain. 
    • Micro and Small enterprises in the form of Proprietary Firms, Partnership Firms and Companies registered in India, Societies, Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs), Cooperatives, Federations, Village Level Organizations like Self Help Groups (SHGs), Fish Farmers Producer Organizations (FFPOs) and Startups engaged in fisheries and aquaculture value chains. 
    • FFPOs also include Farmers Producer Organizations (FPOs). 
    • Any other beneficiaries that may be included by the Department of Fisheries, Gol as targeted beneficiaries. 

    Significance

    • To create a National Fisheries Digital Platform to provide 40 lakh small and micro-enterprises work based identities. 
    • Gradual formalization of fisheries sector and enhanced access to institutional credit. The initiative will support 6.4 lakh micro-enterprises and 5,500 fisheries cooperatives, providing access to institutional credit. 
    • Gradual shift from conventional subsidies to performance based incentives in fisheries 
    • The program focuses on improving value chain efficiency and ensuring safe, quality fish by supporting 55,000 targeted micro and small enterprises, 
    • Promotion of Environment and Sustainability Initiatives 
    • Facilitating Ease of Doing Business and Transparency 
    • Address issues of aquaculture crop losses due to disease through insurance coverage for aquaculture to strengthen production, productivity 
    • Enhance export competitiveness through value addition, value realization and value creation 
    • Increase in incomes due to enhanced profit margins due to value chain efficiencies 
    • Improved quality of fish and fishery products in domestic market 
    • Strengthening and deepening of domestic markets 
    • Facilitating growth of businesses, creation of jobs and creation of business opportunities. 
    • Women Empowerment through creation of jobs and safe working place 
    • It is projected to create 1.7 lakh new jobs, with a special emphasis on employing 75,000 women and also aims to generate 5.4 lakh continued employment opportunities in the micro and small enterprises value chain. 

    Aims and objectives of PM-MKSSY

    • Gradual Formalization of the unorganized fisheries sector through self registration of fishers, fish farmers and supportive workers under a National Fisheries Sector Digital Platform including creation of work based digital identifies of fish workers for improved service delivery. 
    • Facilitating access to institutional financing fisheries sector micro and small enterprises. 
    • Providing one-time incentive to beneficiaries for purchasing aquaculture insurance. 
    • lncentivizing fisheries and aquaculture microenterprises through performance grants for improving fisheries sector value-chain efficiencies including creation and maintenance of jobs. 
    • Incentivising micro and small enterprises through performance grants for adoption and expansion of fish and fishery product safety and quality assurance systems including creation and maintenance of jobs. 

    3 . Kaladan Project


    Context: India’s Kaladan project in Myanmar in limbo as rebels control key town.  

    About the Project : 

    • The Kaladan Road Project is a US$484 million project connecting the eastern Indian seaport of Kolkata with Sittwe seaport in Rakhine State, Myanmar by sea. 
    • The Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project was jointly identified by the India and Myanmar to create a multi-modal mode of transport for shipment of cargo from the eastern ports of India to Myanmar as well as to the North-Eastern part of India through Myanmar.
    • In Myanmar, it will then link Sittwe seaport to Paletwa in Chin State via the Kaladan river boat route, and then from Paletwa by road to Mizoram state in Northeast India. 
    • Since the project is of political and strategic significance, it was decided to execute it through India’s grant assistance to Myanmar. 
    • All components of the project, including Sittwe port and power, river dredging, Paletwa jetty, have been completed, except the under construction Zorinpui-Paletwa road. 
    • The route of the project around Paletwa and along the Kaladan river is troubled with Chin conflict, Rohingya conflict and militant groups such as Arakan Army and Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). 

    Importance

    • Project is expected to contribute to the economic development of the North-Eastern States of India, by opening up the sea route for the products. It also provides a strategic link to the North-East, thereby reducing pressure on the Siliguri Corridor.
    • In the absence of an alternate route, the development of this project not only serves the economic, commercial and strategic interests of India, but also contributes to the development of Myanmar, and its economic integration with India.

    About Sittwe Port

    • Construction of Sittwe Port is part of the Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project.
    • Its objective is to create a multi-modal sea, river and road transport corridor for shipment of cargo from the eastern ports of India to Myanmar through Sittwe port as well as to North-Eastern part of India via Myanmar.
    • Once fully operational, the project would encourage investment and trade and also open up alternate routes for connectivity to India’s North East Region.

    4 . Facts for Prelims


    Kyasanur Forest Disease

    • It is a viral hemorrhagic fever transmitted by infected ticks, primarily in forested areas. 
    • Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pain, vomiting, and bleeding tendencies. 
    • It is caused by Kyasanur Forest disease virus (KFDV), a member of the virus family Flaviviridae. KFDV was identified in 1957 when it was isolated from a sick monkey from the Kyasanur Forest in Karnataka (formerly Mysore) State. 

    Articles 341 and 342

    • Article 341 and 342 of the Constitution of India define as to who would be Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes with respect to any State· or Union Territory. 
    • Article 341 states that The President may with respect to any State or Union territory, and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor thereof, by public notification, specify the castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Castes in relation to that State or Union territory, as the case may be. 
    • Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Castes specified in a notification any caste, race or tribe or part of or group within any caste, race or tribe, but save as aforesaid a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification. 
    • Article 342 provides for specification of tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which are deemed to be for the purposes of the Constitution the Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State or Union Territory. 

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