- GS Paper 3: Genetic Modification
- Prelims Exam: GM crops
- Mains Exam: Challenges while implementing GM Crop , Environmental Concerns
Why in News?
The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) that functions under the Union Environment Ministry has yet again cleared the proposal for commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) mustard.
Background of GM Mustard Clearance
- The GEAC cleared the proposal in 2017, the Ministry vetoed it and suggested that the panel hold more studies on the GM crop.
- The GEAC had gone through the details submitted by the applicant, Center for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP), and gave necessary approvals for the cultivation of GM mustard.
- This will be the second GM crop after GM cotton that can be commercially cultivated in the country now.
- A GEAC meeting held on October 18 allowed the environmental release of two varieties of genetically engineered mustard, so that it can be used for developing new parental lines and hybrids under the supervision of the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR).
What is GM Crop?
- GM (Genetic modification) is a technology that involves inserting DNA into the genome of an organism. To produce a GM plant, new DNA is transferred into plant cells.
- Usually, the cells are then grown in tissue culture where they develop into plants. The seeds produced by these plants will inherit the new DNA.
- According to WHO, Genetically modified organisms are the organisms in which genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur in natural recombination.
The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) functions in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). As per Rules, 1989, it is responsible for appraisal of activities involving large scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from the environmental angle. The committee is also responsible for appraisal of proposals relating to release of genetically engineered (GE) organisms and products into the environment including experimental field trials.
Center for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants
The Center was set up to undertake research on genetic engineering and molecular breeding of oilseed brassicas. The Center has received major financial support from the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and its subsidiary the Mother Dairy and Fruit and Vegetable Pvt. Ltd. for the last 15 years. The Center has developed two hybrids in oilseed mustard (Brassica juncea) DMH-1 (CMS/restorer based) and DMH-11 (based on transgenic technology). DMH-1 has been released by the ministry of Agriculture for commercial cultivation in the mustard growing areas of north-western India and DMH-11 is undergoing bio-safety tests with funding from DBT under its BIPP (BIOTECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMME)
Programme. Other major activities of the Center are research on genome analysis, gene tagging and “marker assisted” breeding in oilseed mustard and allied Brassica species.
GM crops in India
- Bt cotton:
Bt cotton, the only GM crop that is allowed in India, has two alien genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that allows the crop to develop a protein toxic to the common pest pink bollworm.
On the other hand, Bt cotton is derived with the insertion of an additional gene, from another soil bacterium, which allows the plant to resist the common herbicide glyphosate.
In it, a gene permits the plant to resist attacks of fruit and shoot borers.
Previously, the government has put on hold the commercial release of genetically modified (GM) mustard due to stiff opposition from anti-GMO activists and NGOs.
DMH 11 Mustard:
In DMH-11 mustard, developed by Deepak Pental and colleagues in the South Campus of the University of Delhi, genetic modification allows cross-pollination in a crop that self-pollinates in nature.
P Across the world, GM variants of maize, canola and soybean, too, are available.
INDIA’S IMPORTS FROM CHINA
- GS Paper 3: Trade with countries
- Prelims Exam: Import & Export of products with countries
- Mains Exam: Dependency of India on China
Why in News?
India’s imports from China have risen 31% for the nine months ended September, propelling two-way trade past $100 billion and the trade deficit to a record high.
- India’s exports to China in the first nine months of this year were, however, down by as much as 36.4% at $13.97 billion. The trade deficit in the period grew to $75.69 billion.
- Bilateral trade is on track to surpass last year’s record figure, but so is the deficit.
- In 2021, trade crossed $100 billion for the first time, reaching $125.6 billion.
- India’s imports accounted for the bulk of the trade, reaching a record high of $97.5 billion, which is almost certainly set to be exceeded this year.
Import From China
The rising trade volume this year underlines India’s continued demand for Chinese machinery and intermediate goods, such as active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), despite long-running efforts to reduce reliance on China.
Top 8 Chinese Products Imported to India
- The United Nations database on international trade found that India imported electronic equipment worth US$
- 17.84 billion from China in 2020.
- Over 25% of India’s auto part imports, which amount to US $4.2 billion, came from China in 2019.These imports include engines and transmission parts, as reported by the Auto Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA).
- Nuclear machinery imports from China to India were valued at US $12.37 billion during 2020 and $13.87 billion during 2019.
- Nearly 11% of India’s medical devices, products, and tools are imported from China.
- India imports the following fertilizers, such as diammonium phosphate, to boost its chrome yield.
- India is reported to import articles of iron and steel worth US$ 1.23 billion from China during 2020, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade.
- Nearly 50% of India’s domestic toy demand is fulfilled with imports from China which stands as a world leader in exporting toys.
- While India does not import milk itself from China, the country does import a variety of milk and dairy products, including chocolate products, food preparation products with milk, skimmed milk powder, whole milk powder, whey, and lactose powder.
‘ASEAN at top slot’
The growth in exports to India was among the highest for China’s major trading partners. ASEAN remains China’s biggest trading partner, with two-way trade reaching $717 billion after Q3, up 13.8%; followed by the European Union ($645 billion, up 7.9%,), and the United States ($580 billion, higher by 6.9%).
ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the Founding Fathers of ASEAN: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined ASEAN on 7 January 1984, followed by Viet Nam on 28 July 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999, making up what is today the ten Member States of ASEAN.
EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN
- GS Paper 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation,
- Prelims Exam: Authorities related to Dam Safety
- Mains Exam: How it will play an important role in Dam safety?
Why in News
The Kerala government has constituted a technical committee for preparing an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for the downstream part of the Mullaperiyar dam in Idukki district.
- An Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is a written document that identifies incidents that can lead to potential emergency conditions at a dam, identifies the areas that can be affected by the less of reservoir and specifies pre-planned actions to be followed to minimize property damage, potential loss of infrastructure and water resource, and potential loss of life because of failure or mis-operation of a dam.
- EAPs are developed by dam owners working with local emergency response managers, dam safety engineers, and state dam safety officials.
Importance of Dams
- A dam is a barrier that restricts the flow of surface water or underground streams.
- Reservoirs created by dams not only suppress floods but also provide water for activities such as irrigation, human consumption, industrial use, aquaculture, and navigability.
- Dams also provide hydroelectric power production and river navigation.
- Dams mitigate the calamities like floods and droughts faced by a large population of the world.
Dam Safety Act 2021
- The Dam Safety Act, 2021 was enacted by the Parliament and came into force with effect from 30th December 2021.
- The Act is aimed at ensuring surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of the specified dam for prevention of dam failure-related disasters and to provide for an institutional mechanism to ensure their safe functioning.
- The Act constitutes two National bodies i.e. National Committee on Dam Safety and National Dam Safety Authority.
- It also constitutes two State bodies i.e. State Committee on Dam Safety and State Dam Safety Organization.
- These state-level bodies are responsible for the surveillance, inspection, and monitoring of the operation and maintenance of dams within their jurisdiction.
The functions of the National Committee on Dam Safety include:
- Developing policies and recommending regulations regarding dam safety standards in India.
The functions of the National Dam Safety Authority:
- It implements the policies of the National Committee on Dam Safety.
- It provides technical assistance to State Dam Safety Organizations (SDSOs).
- It resolves matters between SDSOs of states or between an SDSO and any dam owner.
- An offense can lead to imprisonment of up to 2 years, a fine, or both.
- The Act applies to all specified dams built on both inter and intra-state rivers.
- Dam owners will be liable for the safe construction, operation, maintenance and supervision of a dam. They need to provide a dam safety unit in each dam.
Central Water Commission
- The Central Water Commission is the nodal organization entrusted with the task of issuing early flood warnings and flood forecasting.
O It currently provides flood forecasts for 20 major river basins across 23 States and 2 Union Territories with 332 forecasting stations.
- In order to provide the local authorities more time to organise the evacuation of people and take other remedial actions, it has developed a basin-wise flood forecasting model based on rainfall-runoff mathematical modelling for 5-days advance flood forecast advisory.
Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project
- Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) is an externally-aided project. 80% of the total project is provided by the World Bank as loan/credit and remaining 20% is borne by the States/Central Government (for CWC).
- Under the DRIP, Design flood review of 250 large dams located in 7 States was carried out under Phase-I which was implemented during 2012-2021 with World Bank funding.
The objectives of DRIP are :
- To improve the safety and operational performance of selected existing dams and associated appurtenances in a sustainable manner.
- To strengthen the dam safety institutional setup of participating States / Implementing Agencies.
- Design flood review of 267 large dams has been carried out under the Phase-II of the project.
- GS Paper 3: Science and Technology
- Prelims Exam: Global Positioning System (GPS) of other countries
- Mains Exam: Self reliance of India in Science & tech
Why in News?
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is working on a series of improvements to the NavIC, or India’s equivalent of the Global Positioning System (GPS), so that more people are motivated to install it and use it.
- Navigation in Indian Constellation (NavIC) is an Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) which has been developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
- It consists of eight satellites, three satellites in geostationary orbit and five satellites in geosynchronous orbit.
- The aim is to provide reliable position, navigation and timing services over India and its neighborhood.
- NavIC has been certified by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) which is a global body for coordinating mobile telephony standards.
- It is akin to the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) but works within a 1,500-km radius over the sub-continent.
- NavIC provides two levels of service, the “standard positioning service”, which is for civilian use, and a “restricted service” (an encrypted one) for authorized users.
Significance of NavIC
- NavIC is as good as GPS of the United States in terms of position accuracy which will help in scientific & technological advancement of India.
- NavIC will help in reducing the dependence on foreign satellite systems for navigation services, particularly for strategic sectors. It will make the Indian Armed Forces self-reliant.
- Through land-area mapping, yield monitoring and precision-planting of crops, NAVIC allows for the development of civic capabilities in food and livelihood security.
Application of NavIC
- Disaster management: It will aid in monitoring and rescue efforts during disaster times as well as delivering early warnings about cyclones, tsunamis, heavy storms, etc. to country residents, particularly those in coastal areas. By providing information on disaster timing and safe locations, it would help to lessen the consequences of disasters. It will also enable disaster relief management to make early plans and save lives of people in India and up to 1500 kilometers around it.
- Security: By better monitoring any terrorist activities in border areas, surveillance of critical infrastructure, etc., it would contribute to boosting India’s security.
- Defense: The project will be a force multiplier for the Indian Defense Unit in terms of Military Application. The capability of defense will be improved in both war and peacetime due to the wide range of functions it performs, such as target fixing, missile and weapon delivery, avoiding civilian casualties, unit position and direction, vision clarity in bad weather, etc.
- Travel: Long and short distance travelers as well as hikers in the mountains can use a more precise navigation satellite system.
- Town planning: By using geographic information, it will assist in better planning and urban development.
- Forest department: It will aid in tracking endangered species and better prevention of forest fires etc.
- Employment: It will aid in long-distance navigation and provide information to fishermen about the whereabouts of valuable fisheries and any disturbance in sea.
BATS EVICTED FROM PREHISTORIC MANIPUR CAVE FOR TOURISM
- GS Paper 3: Environment
- Prelims Exam: Khangkhui cave, species of bats
Why in News
A zoological study mentions that a colony of bats was evicted from a Manipur cave system with a Paleolithic past to make it tourist-friendly.
About Khangkhui cave
- The Khangkhui, locally called Khangkhui Mangsor, is a natural limestone cave about 15 km from Ukhrul, the headquarters of Ukhrul district.
- Excavations carried out by Manipur’s archaeologists had revealed the cave was home to Stone Age communities.
- The cave was also used as a shelter by the local people during World War 2 after the Japanese forces advanced to Manipur and the adjoining Nagaland.
- The cave housed large roosting populations of bats belonging to the Rhinolophidae and Hipposideridae families.
- The cave has been steeped in the folklore of the dominant Tangkhul community, whose ancestors believed it was the abode of a protective deity.
IUCN Status: Least concern
- The researchers have found Blyth’s horseshoe bat in the Khangkhui cave during two extensive field surveys covering nine districts of Manipur in 2019 and 2021.
- It uses echolocation to navigate, flying in a fluttering style through cluttered airspace in search of insect prey.
- This bat was one of 12 new species added to Manipur’s mammalian fauna.
- The other species included the ashy roundleaf bat, the intermediate horseshoe bat, the northern wooly horseshoe bat, the greater false vampire bat, the hairy-faced bat, Hodgson’s bat, Hutton’s tube-nosed bat and the round- eared tube-nosed bat.
Zoological Survey of India
- The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) was established in 1916 and headquartered in Kolkata.
- It is a premier Indian organization in zoological research and studies to promote the survey, exploration and research of the fauna in the country.
- As per section 39 of the National Biodiversity Act, 2002, it has been declared as a designated repository for National Zoological Collection.