GS Paper 2: Government policies and interventions
Prelims exam: About Regulation to stop Acid attack
Mains exam: Impact of Acid Attack in Society
Why in News?
A 17-year-old girl was attacked with an acid-like substance in Delhi’s Dwarka by three assailants while she was on her way to school. While the victim has suffered 8% burns and disfigurement of the face and neck area, the accused have been arrested by Delhi police.
How prevalent are acid attacks in India?
- Acid attacks on women are not as prevalent a crime as others against women. According to data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there were 150 such cases recorded in 2019, 105 in 2020 and 102 in 2021. West Bengal and UP consistently record the highest number of such cases generally accounting for nearly 50% of all cases in the country year on year.
- The charge sheeting rate of acid attacks stood at 83% and the conviction rate at 54% in 2019. In 2020, the figures stood at 86% and 72% respectively. In 2021, the figures were recorded to be 89% and 20% respectively. In 2015, MHA issued an advisory to all states to ensure speedy justice in cases of acid attacks by expediting prosecution.
What is the law on acid attacks?
- Until 2013, acid attacks were not treated as separate crimes. However, following amendments carried out in the IPC, acid attacks were put under a separate section (326A) of the IPC and made punishable with a minimum imprisonment of 10 years which is extendable to life along with fine.
- The law also has provisions for punishment for denial of treatment to victims or police officers refusing to register an FIR or record any piece of evidence. Denial of treatment (by both public and private hospitals) can lead to imprisonment of up to one year and dereliction of duty by a police officer is punishable by imprisonment of up to two years.
What is the law on the regulation of acid sales?
- In 2013, the Supreme Court took cognizance of acid attacks and passed an order on the regulation of sales of corrosive substances. Based on the order, the MHA issued an advisory to all states on how to regulate acid sales and framed the Model Poisons Possession and Sale Rules, 2013 under The Poisons Act, 1919. It asked states to frame their own rules based on model rules, as the matter fell under the purview of states.
- According to the MHA’s directions and the model rules, over-the-counter sale of acid was not allowed unless the seller maintains a logbook/register recording the sale of acid. This logbook was to also contain the details of the person to whom acid is sold, the quantity sold, the address of the person and also specify the reason for procuring acid.
- The sale is also to be made only when the buyer produces a photo ID containing his address issued by the government. The buyer must also prove he/she is above 18 years of age.
- Sellers are also required to declare all stocks of acid with the concerned Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) within 15 days and in case of undeclared stock of acid. The SDM can confiscate the stock and suitably impose a fine of up to Rs 50,000 for a breach of any of the directions.
- The rules ask educational institutions, research laboratories, hospitals, government departments and the departments of Public Sector Undertakings, which are required to keep and store acid, to maintain a register of usage of acid and file the same with the concerned SDM.
- “A person shall be made accountable for the possession and safe keeping of acid in their premises. The acid shall be stored under the supervision of this person and there shall be compulsory checking of the students/ personnel leaving the laboratories/place of storage where acid is used,” the rules say.
- In August last year, MHA issued another advisory to all States/ UTs to review and ensure that the retail sale of acids and chemicals is strictly regulated in terms of the Poison Rules so that these are not used in crime.
Victim compensation and care
- Based on Supreme Court directions, the MHA asked states to make sure acid attack victims are paid compensation of at least Rs. 3 lakhs by the concerned State Government/Union Territory as the aftercare and rehabilitation cost. Out of this, a sum of Rs 1 lakh is to be paid to the victim within 15 days of the occurrence of such an incident to facilitate immediate medical attention and expenses in this regard. The balance sum of Rs. 2 lakhs is to be paid “as expeditiously as may be possible and positively within two months thereafter”.
- States are supposed to ensure that treatment provided to acid attack victims in any hospital, public or private, is free of cost. The cost incurred on treatment is not to be included in the Rs 1 lakh compensation given to the victim.
- “Acid attack victims need to undergo a series of plastic surgeries and hence 1-2 beds at the Apex State Tertiary Hospital could be earmarked for the treatment of acid attack victims so that the victims need not run from pillar to post to get these operations performed expeditiously,” the 2013 MHA advisory said.
- “In addition, private hospitals which have availed the facility of concessional land for setting up the hospital could also be persuaded to earmark 1-2 beds for treatment of underprivileged victims of acid attacks which the State Government can identify for treatment,” it added.
- Apart from this, MHA suggested states should also extend social integration programs to the victims for which NGOs could be funded to exclusively look after their rehabilitative requirements.
How do these help in prevention?
- According to sources in the police, the regulations on acid sales largely help in tracking the accused and not so much in prevention. “The implementation of the regulations is not very strict. Acid is still easily available in many places. Then these are crimes of passion. In a majority of cases the accused is not even thinking about consequences,” a senior police officer said.
- Another officer said that things have improved compared to the past as social attitudes are changing and the focus of the police in dealing with crimes against women can cause some deterrence. “But the key to solving this problem will always remain in society. We must create more awareness. Parents must teach their children the importance of boundaries and consent,” the officer said.
GS Paper 3: Developments in Science and Technology
Prelims exam: INS Mormugao
Mains exam: Significance of INS Marmugao
Why in News?
The second of the Project 15B stealth-guided missile destroyers built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDSL), INS Mormugao (Pennant D67), was commissioned into the Indian Navy. The ship, named after a key port in Goa, was commissioned a day before the Goa Liberation Day celebrations.
- The Indian Navy has commissioned three guided missile destroyers of the Kolkata class — INS Kolkata, INS Kochi, and INS Chennai — under the project codenamed 15A. These ships were a step ahead of their precursor Delhi class of ships — INS Delhi, INS Mysore, and INS Mumbai.
- All these ships were built by MDSL, one of the country’s most important Defence PSUs.
- A ship ‘class’ describes a group of vessels of similar tonnage, usage, capabilities, and weaponry.
- The contract for four guided missile destroyers more advanced than the Kolkata class was signed in January 2011.
- Project 15B, and the lead ship, INS Visakhapatnam (Pennant D66) was commissioned into the Navy in November 2021.Designed by the Warship Design Bureau, Indian Navy’s in-house warship design body, and built by MDSL in Mumbai, the four ships of Project 15B were to be named after four major cities around the country Visakhapatnam, Mormugao, Imphal, and Surat. A ship class is identified by its lead ship, in this case, INS Visakhapatnam.
- The destroyers were designed by the Warship Design Bureau (formerly the Directorate of Naval Design), an internal establishment within the Indian Navy responsible for designing the service’s warships, several among them including the Arihant-class submarines – India’s first indigenously-designed nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, INS Vikrant – India’s first indigenously-designed aircraft carrier, and the Kolkata-class destroyers.
- The goal of the project was to develop a line of destroyers that were comparable to the Kolkata-class destroyers, with only several, yet incremental alterations – in order to minimize its development time and associated costs.
- The design plans of the four vessels were completed by the WDB in mid-2013.
Comparison to the Kolkata-class destroyers
- The P-15B is a derivative of the Kolkata-class destroyers (P-15A), a class of three stealth guided-missile destroyers, which currently serve as the Indian Navy’s frontline destroyers; both classes feature several differences, with regard to their respective designs
- Observed as one of the most distinctive features, the P-15B and the P-15A feature different bridge layouts; the P-15B’s bridge was designed to minimize the vessel’s radar cross-section (RCS) and enhance resilience.
- Unlike the P-15A, the P-15B features a “rail-less” helicopter traversing system meant for securing the vessel’s helicopter, in the event of adverse weather conditions.
- Contrary to the P-15A destroyers – which features its sonar equipment at the hull, the P-15B vessels features its sonar equipment at the bow.
- The P-15B features a network-centric layout, equipped with a Ship Data Network (SDN), an Automatic Power Management System (APMS), as well as a Combat Management System (CMS).
- The destroyers are equipped with a “Total Atmosphere Control System” (TAC), which allows them to operate in regions of nuclear fallout. Additionally, the destroyers are also equipped with nuclear, biological and chemical warfare (NBC) protective equipment, with its entire requirement of air being filtered through NBC filters.
- An estimated 72% of the destroyers’ components are indigenously sourced, as compared to 59% for the Kolkata-class destroyers and 42% for the Delhi-class destroyers.
- The destroyers feature multiple fire zones, battle damage control systems and distributional power systems for improved survivability and reliability in emergent conditions.
- The destroyers feature ergonomically-designed accommodations based on modular concepts, which ensures a significant amount of crew comfort.
- The keel of Mormugao (Yard 12705), was laid in June 2015 and the ship was launched in September 2016 by then Defence Minister late Manohar Parrikar.
- The Visakhapatnam class has largely maintained the hull form, propulsion machinery, many platform equipment, and major weapons and sensors from the Kolkata class to benefit from series production.
- But it incorporates advanced stealth features and a higher degree of automation.
- The sleeker hull design and the radar-transparent deck fittings make the vessels difficult to detect.
Specifications and weaponry
- INS Mormugao and the other three ships in the class are 163 m long and 17.4 m wide, with a displacement of 7,300 tonnes. For comparison, the recently commissioned first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant is 262 m in length and 62 m in width, and displaces around 43,000 tonnes when fully loaded.
- INS Mormugao and other ships of the class are operated by a crew of 350, including 50 officers and 250 sailors. Accommodation and working areas have superior ergonomics and habitability compared with its predecessor classes.
- The Visakhapatnam class destroyers have multiple fire zones, battle damage control systems, and distributional power systems for improved survivability and reliability in extreme operational and conflict scenarios.
- They have a total atmospheric control system (TACS) that offers protection to the crew from chemical, biological, and nuclear threats, as well as a state-of-the-art combat management system that can evaluate threats using analytical tools and create a tactical picture that includes available resources on board. The warships have a secure network for data from its sensors and weapons systems.
- The ship’s firepower consists of vertically launched Barak-8 surface-to-air missiles and BrahMos surface-to-surface cruise missiles for long-range engagement of shore- and sea-based targets. The forward bow deck has a 127 mm main gun, and four AK-630 30 mm guns for close-point defence capability.
- The destroyer will also be armed with indigenously developed 533 mm torpedo launchers and RBU-6000 anti-submarine rocket launchers. It can operate two multi-role helicopters Sea King or HAL Dhruv. The ship also has rail-less helicopter traversing, and a hangar facility.
- The ‘combined gas and gas’ (COGAG) configuration integrates four gas turbines. The propulsion system allows the ship to reach a maximum speed of 30 knots (55 km/h), and a maximum range of 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km).
GS Paper 3: Development
Prelims exam: About Lollapalooza Effect
Mains exam: Significance of Lollapalooza Effect
Why in News?
The term ‘Lollapalooza Effect’ means a confluence of factors acting together that can lead to either large positive or negative results.
- We are seeing a big carnage in one of the popular FAANG stock during this year META.
- Meta is a tech company which has a proven business model in digital advertising.
- It has brands like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, which are used by about 3.7 billion people on a monthly basis.
- Meta has built a reputation over the last decade as one of the safest investment choices by scaling revenues from $5 billion to more than $100 billion, and delivering 40% and above PAT growth.
- It also joined the $1-trillion club and the coveted FAANG club — a set of 5 dominant stocks, forming part of core holding for investors across the globe.
The factors which potentially led to a sharp fall in business and stock price are discussed below:
- During the last decade, Meta grew its revenue in the range of 30-40% per annum on an average due to the high growth in digital advertising.
- In 2021, digital advertisements hit 65-70% of the total advertising market. Value migration from existing segments to the new segment (digital) started hitting saturation levels. Now, online market growth is expected to resemble aggregate advertisement growth across the world, which is growing in low, single digit.
- Since digital advertisement is a lucrative business given the high growth and high margins for established players, a lot of competition has come up in the last few years.
- The rise of TikTok was the first sign of a strong competitor for Meta which threatened its core business.
Meta’s clientele includes corporations that use Meta’s platform to make targeted advertisements.
- This was possible with the data Meta captured when its platform was used.
- Recently, Apple had changed the ecosystem policy in terms of sharing of data and it dented Meta in two ways
- They were not able to measure the utility of their product and
- less data availability result in less productivity.
- Due to the slowdown in the core business, Meta decided to incubate new businesses that would add value to the core.
- Meta has stepped up the capex for both Family of Apps and Reality Lab businesses. As a result, free cash flow slid from billions of dollars to millions in recent quarters.
The pandemic turned out to be a boon for Meta in two ways.
- One, online commerce became mainstream, and everyone started using online advertisements to reach out to customers.
- Two, the demand for products was significantly higher than demand for services due to lockdowns. Both these factors boosted sales and the profit margin for Meta.
- Return to normalcy from the pandemic resulted in tailwinds turning headwinds.
Cost of capital
As we are coming to the end of a quantitative easing era, the cost of capital is going up across the world. So share firms that are still in the investing phase are priced lower. We have seen this impact even in stocks like Tesla and Amazon.
Advertisement is a discretionary expense. With a slowing economy, investors have realised that the digital advertisement market is also affected during an economic slowdown since a large section of the advertisement market has already moved online.
- As investors, we need to understand what quantum of growth and profitability is priced into a stock. When stocks are priced for perfection with low margin of safety in terms of valuations, even the finest blue-chip is punished brutally when an adverse change occurs in fundamentals.
- Avoiding a highly-valued, well-discovered stock is a better approach to protect us from a debacle such as Meta.
- To achieve good investing outcomes in the long term, we need to ensure that we have an adequate margin of safety in terms of business quality and cheaper valuation, even as buying would help us avoid lengthy periods of underperformance or sharper drawdowns.
Lifespan of banyan, peepal trees identified
GS Paper 3: Biotechnology
Prelims exam: About Genome Sequencing
Mains exam: Findings of the Study
Why in News?
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Bhopal have carried out whole genome sequencing of banyan ( Ficus benghalensis) and peepal ( Ficus religiosa) from leaf tissue samples.
- Genome sizes of these two Ficus species were corrected compared to the previously estimated genome sizes.
- The draft genome assemblies were over 392 Mbp for banyan and nearly 333 Mbp for peepal.
- The work helped in identifying 17 genes in the case of banyan and 19 genes of peepal with multiple signs of adaptive evolution (MSA) that play a pivotal role in long-time survival of these two Ficus species.
- The genes with multiple signs of adaptive evolution came about in response to population bottleneck faced by both trees around 0.8 million years ago.
Findings of Study Published
- Undertaking the comparative evolutionary analyses of closely related plant species helped the researchers in precisely identifying the genes with evolutionary signatures in both plants.
The comparative evolutionary analyses of closely related plant species helped the researchers in precisely identifying the genes with evolutionary signatures in both plants.
- Similarly, comparing other plant species with long lifespan in the comparative analysis helped in the identification of adaptively evolved genes, which could have played a significant role in longevity of both banyan and peepal tree species.
- The inclusion of coding genes from other Ficus species helped the researchers identify plausible species-specific genes responsible for the morphological characteristics and evolutionary adaptation in these two plant species.
- “The comparative evolutionary analysis performed across 20 phylogenetically closer Eudicot species revealed adaptive evolution in genes involved in major cellular mechanisms associated with long-time survival such as phytohormones signalling, senescence pathways, fig-wasp coevolution, stress tolerance.
- Genes showing multiple signs of adaptive evolution in banyan were mainly associated with root development, leaf formation, metabolism, pollen tube and seed development and other developmental processes.
- The MSA genes of peepal trees were mainly associated with root development, reproduction, metabolism.
- “The genes related to root, leaf and reproductive growth that have undergone evolution in these Ficus species explains the well-developed morphological characteristics of these trees.
- Gene family expansion/contraction analysis undertaken by the researchers revealed that the highly expanded gene families of both the species were involved in disease resistance functions in plants.
- “Disease resistance gene families showed gene expansion as well as high gene expression in these species, which can be used as a signature of long-lived plants
- In the case of banyan tree, 15 of 17 MSA genes were also associated with tolerance against environmental stress drought, oxidative stress, and pathogens. In peepal trees, 17 out of 19 MSA genes were associated with stress tolerance activities.
- In addition, the researchers identified seven genes involved in two pathways that produce volatile organic compounds in floral scents which attract wasps for pollination.
- Identification of signatures of adaptive evolution in genes that are associated with providing longevity in both the species.
- Particularly, the genes related to sustained growth and development plant root development, flowering, reproductive growth, and metabolism showed multiple signs of adaptation.
- The adaptive evolution in genes in two cellular mechanisms might explain the well-developed aerial roots that is unique to banyan trees. These aerial roots help provide much support for the growth and survival of large trees against environmental challenges particularly strong winds that uproot many other similarly large trees.
- Both plants show genes with signatures of multiple adaptive evolution involved in phytohormone signalling pathways.
- These pathways function to regulate plant developmental senescence and ageing processes. This could be one more reason why banyan and peepal trees have a long lifespan. Both banyan and peepal trees have select plant disease resistance gene families that have been expanded through gene duplication events in the course of evolution which confers greater longevity.
- Also, 88% and 89% of the MSA genes in banyan and peepal trees, respectively, are associated with tolerance against biotic and abiotic stress responses. This, in turn, helps these plants to survive when faced with environmental challenges.
- “To survive in tropical and sub-tropical ecosystems as keystone species, Ficus trees have evolved their developmental and stress tolerance mechanisms
- Stress tolerance mechanisms are also responsible for the medicinal properties of these trees.”
It is the process that involves deciphering the exact order of base pairs in an individual. This “deciphering” or reading of the genome is what sequencing is all about. Costs of sequencing differ based on the methods employed to do the reading or the accuracy stressed upon in decoding the genome.
India’s initiative Genome sequencing:
- Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have done the whole genome sequencing of novel coronavirus
- IndiGen Genome project:The IndiGen initiative was undertaken by CSIR in April 2019, which was implemented by the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi and CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad.The objective is to enable genetic epidemiology and develop public health technologies applications using population genome data.This has enabled benchmarking the scalability of genome sequencing and computational analysis at population scale in a defined timeline.The ability to decode the genetic blueprint of humans through whole genome sequencing will be a major driver for biomedical science.IndiGen programme aims to undertake whole genome sequencing of thousands of individuals representing diverse ethnic groups from India.
- Genome India:The Government of India has cleared a gene-mapping project called “Genome India” recently.To build a grid of the Indian “reference genome”, to understand fully the type and nature of diseases and traits that comprise the diverse Indian population.This is spearheaded by the Centre for Brain Research at Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science as the nodal point of about 20 institutions.