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8th October Current Affairs

Contents

  1. India, Japan finalise text of cybersecurity pact
  2. Nobel Chemistry Prize for gene editing tool
  3. World Bank: Absence of poverty data in India

INDIA, JAPAN FINALISE TEXT OF CYBERSECURITY PACT

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

India and Japan welcomed the finalisation of the text of a cybersecurity agreement that will promote cooperation in key areas such as 5G network and Artificial Intelligence.

Details

  • The announcement on the agreement followed the 13th India-Japan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue between External Affairs Minister and his Japanese counterpart.
  • The agreement promotes cooperation in capacity building, research and development, security and resilience in the areas of Critical Information Infrastructure, 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), among others.
  • The announcement is expected to draw the attention of the stakeholders in the Indian 5G sector as it gets ready to open up for international operators and especially since there is lack of clarity on possible participation of Chinese technology majors in the 5G arena.
  • The Ministers reiterated that the Indo-Pacific region has become more important in the current global circumstances, and reaffirmed similarities in their vision.

India – Japan Relations

  • Exchange between Japan and India is said to have begun in the 6th century when Buddhism was introduced to Japan, which spread indirectly from India to Japan, via China and Korea.
  • India and Japan, two of the largest and oldest democracies in Asia, having a high degree of congruence of political, economic and strategic interests, view each other as partners that have responsibility for, and are capable of, responding to global and regional challenges.
  • Post Japan’s defeat in World War-II, a relatively well-known result of the two nations was in 1949, when India sent the Tokyo Zoo two elephants to cheer the spirits of the defeated Japanese empire.
  • Japan and India signed a peace treaty and established diplomatic relations in 1950s.
  • The British occupiers of India and Japan were enemies during World War II, but political relations between the two nations have remained warm since India’s independence.
  • Japanese companies, such as Yamaha, Sony, Toyota, and Honda have manufacturing facilities in India, and with the growth of the Indian economy, India is a big market for Japanese firms.
  • In 2006, India culminated in the signing of the “Joint Statement Towards Japan-India Strategic and Global Partnership”.
  • Japan has helped finance many infrastructure projects in India, most notably the Delhi Metro system.
  • In 2016, India and Japan signed the “Agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy”, a landmark civil nuclear agreement, under which Japan will supply nuclear reactors, fuel and technology to India. (India is the only non-signatory of NPT to receive an exemption from Japan.)
  • India and Japan have shared interests in maintaining the security of sea-lanes in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean, and in co-operation for fighting international crime, terrorism, piracy and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
  • The two nations have frequently held joint military exercises and co-operate on technology.

-Source: The Hindu


NOBEL CHEMISTRY PRIZE FOR GENE EDITING TOOL

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

  • Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 for discovering one of gene technology’s sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors.
  • Using components of the CRISPR system, researchers can add, remove, or even alter specific DNA sequences.
  • This technology has introduced new opportunities in cancer therapies, curing inherited diseases and also in plant inbreeding.

How did the researchers develop the scissors?

  • Emmanuelle Charpentier who was studying a bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenes, noticed a previously unknown molecule called tracrRNA.
  • Further studies revealed that this tracrRNA was part of the bacteria’s immune system and it helps the bacteria destroy viral DNA.
  • The same year, along with Jennifer Doudnathey, she succeeded in recreating the bacteria’s scissors and reprogramming it.
  • Charpentier and Doudna then proved that they can now use these scissors to cut any DNA molecule at a required site.

Why the name CRISPR/Cas?

  • CRISPR is an abbreviation for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.
  • These sequences are a part of the bacteria’s immune system. Bacteria that have survived a virus infection add a piece of the genetic code of the virus into its genome as a memory of the infection.
  • In addition to these CRISPR sequences, researchers discovered special genes called CRISPR-associated, abbreviated as cas.

Gene Editing

  • Gene editing is also called as genetic modification, genetic manipulation or genetic engineering.
  • Genome editing is a group of technologies that give scientists the ability to change an organism’s DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid). These technologies allow genetic material to be added, removed, or altered at particular locations in the genome.
  • Gene Editing is widely practised in agriculture, to increase productivity or resistance to diseases, etc.

What is CRISPR?

  • Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) is a gene editing technology, which replicates natural defence mechanism in bacteria to fight virus attacks, using a special protein called Cas9.
  • CRISPR-Cas9 technology behaves like a cut-and-paste mechanism on DNA strands that contain genetic information. The specific location of the genetic codes that need to be changed, or edited, is identified on the DNA strand, and then, using the Cas9 protein, which acts like a pair of scissors, that location is cut off from the strand.
  • A DNA strand, when broken, has a natural tendency to repair itself. Scientists intervene during this auto-repair process, supplying the desired sequence of genetic codes that binds itself with the broken DNA strand.
  • CRISPR-Cas9 is a simple, effective, and incredibly precise technology with potential to revolutionise human existence in future.

-Source: The Hindu


WORLD BANK: ABSENCE OF POVERTY DATA IN INDIA

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

The World Bank’s biennial Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report: Reversals of Fortune was released and the findings show that for the first time in two decades, global poverty rate would go up due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Indian Issue

  • The multilateral body couldn’t gauge the real poverty situation in the world because India did not have latest data. Or, in simple terms, India has stopped counting its poor.
  • The report said that lack of recent data for India severely hinders the ability to monitor global poverty.
  • India, along with Nigeria, is considered to have the largest number of the poor in the world.
  • India tops the global list in terms of absolute number of poor, going by the last national survey of 2012-13.
  • The country accounted for 139 million of the total 689 million people living in poverty in 2017.
  • It is, thus, imperative that if the world has to meet its United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) I to eradicate poverty by 2030, India has to achieve this goal first.

Using Consumption Expenditure numbers

  • India was to release its latest household consumer expenditure survey data by the National Statistical Office (NSO, 75th round) for 2017-18 in 2019.
  • Consumption expenditure is taken as a proxy for gauging income levels in India.
  • The latest data on poverty in India is from a survey done in 2011-12, or almost a decade-old.
  • This was based on a household consumption expenditure survey (68th round) done by the NSO, the nodal agency that conducts these surveys.
  • The absence of poverty data in India means there is no objective and updated estimation of global poverty level, or the progress in its reduction.
  • In the latest report, it has dedicated a detailed note on how various organisations and economists are deploying alternate ways to estimate India’s latest poverty figures.

-Source: Down to Earth 

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