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Prelims Booster

3rd August – Prelims Booster

Genome Sequencing of SARS-CoV-2

Union Minister of Science and Technology has announced the successful completion of PAN-India 1000 Genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2.

Details –

  • Given the importance of this information for public health response initiatives requiring investigation into the transmission of COVID-19, the sequence data will soon be released in Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) for use by researchers across the Globe.
  • The information in the database will improve our understanding on how the virus is spreading, ultimately helping to interrupt the transmission chains, prevent new cases of infection, and provide impetus to research on intervention measures.

What does the data suggest?

  • Initial results indicate that multiple lineages of SARS-CoV-2 are circulating in India, probably introduced by travel from Europe, USA and East Asia.
  • In particular, there is a predominance of the A2a haplotype (20A/B/C) with D614G mutation, which is found to be emerging in almost all regions of the country. This particular haplotype is globally reported to be associated with enhanced transmission efficiency.
  • Additionally, mutations in important regions of the viral genome with significant geographical clustering have also been observed.
  • Detailed mutational analysis to understand the gradual emergence of mutants at different regions of the country and its possible impact on the disease management is in progress.

About GISAID –

  • GISAID is a public platform started by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2008 for countries to share genome sequences.
  • The GISAID Initiative promotes the international sharing of all influenza virus sequences, related clinical and epidemiological data associated with human viruses, and geographical as well as species-specific data associated with avian and other animal viruses
  • This helps researchers understand how the viruses evolve, spread and potentially become pandemics.
  • It actively promotes the development of novel research tools for the analysis of influenza data by helping developers to facilitate the integration or connection of their tools to analyse GISAID data.

What is ‘Genome Sequencing’?

  • A genome is a person’s complete set of deoxyribonucleic acids or DNA, including all genes with more than 3 billion DNA base pairs.
  • Genome sequencing (in the case of virus) is figuring out the order of Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) nucleotides, or bases, in a genome—the order of Adenine, Cytosine, Guanines, and Thymine that make up an organism’s DNA.
  • Genomics is an interdisciplinary field of science focusing on the structure, function, evolution, mapping, and editing of genomes.
  • By sequencing the genome, researchers can discover the functions of genes and identify mutations responsible for cancer and rare genetic diseases.
  • Genome sequencing also leads to precision medication, instead of clinicians giving drugs based on collective knowledge.

Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation Bill, 2020

Governor of Andhra Pradesh has given his assent to the AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions and AP Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) Repeal Bills, 2020.

What does it mean?

  • The clearance of the decentralisation Bill facilitates the development of Amaravati, Kurnool and Visakhapatnam as the Legislative, Judicial and Executive Capitals respectively.
  • The repeal of the CRDA paves the way for the formation of the Amaravati Metropolitan Region Development Authority. The government is free now to give the ‘three capitals’ proposal a tangible shape while a batch of petitions that challenged the two Bills is pending adjudication by the High Court.
  • As per the Decentralisation Bill, Visakhapatnam will have the Raj Bhavan, the Secretariat and offices of the Heads of Departments, and Amaravati will be the seat of the Legislature. Regarding the judicial capital, the Bill says: “The seat of all State judicial institutions established under the State legislation, shall, as far as practicable, be located in Kurnool.”
  • Accordingly, the principal seat of the High Court will be located in Kurnool and Benches constituted as per the procedure laid down in the A.P. Reorganisation Act, 2014.
  • The Bills were considered as ‘deemed to be passed’ as one month has elapsed after their introduction in the Legislative Council for the second time, as per Clause 2 of Article 197 of the Constitution notwithstanding the fact that they were not cleared by the Upper House.

Article 197 of the Constitution –

  • It deals with the restriction on powers of Legislative Council as to Bills other than Money Bills.
  • Clause 1 – If a bill passed by the Legislative Assembly of a state is transmitted to the Legislative Council, and it is either rejected by the Council or more than more than three months have elapsed from the date on which the Bill is laid before the Council without the Bill being passed by it; or the Bill is passed by the Council with amendments to which the Legislative Assembly does not agree; the Legislative Assembly may, subject to the rules regulating its procedure, pass the Bill again in the same or in any subsequent session with or without such amendments, if any, as have been made, suggested or agreed to by the Legislative Council and then transmit the Bill as so passed to the Legislative Council
  • Clause 2 – If after a Bill has been so passed for the second time by the Legislative Assembly and transmitted to the Legislative Council, the Bill is rejected by the Council; or more than one month elapses from the date on which the Bill is laid before the Council without the Bill being passed by it; or the Bill is passed by the Council with amendments to which the Legislative Assembly does not agree; the Bill shall be deemed to have been passed by the Houses of the Legislature of the State in the form in which it was passed by the Legislative Assembly for the second time with such amendments, if any, as have been made or suggested by the Legislative Council and agreed to by the Legislative Assembly.

Multiple capitals in a state –

Several states in India have separate judicial capitals i.e. their High Courts in the different districts rather than in their state capitals because of the historical reasons. For example, in Uttar Pradesh, while the state capital is Lucknow, the High Court is at Prayagraj. Similarly, in Madhya Pradesh, while the state capital is Bhopal, the High Court is at Jabalpur and in Gujarat, while the state capital is Gandhinagar, the High Court is at Ahmedabad.

30 seconds COVID-19 test

Ambassador of Israel to India visited Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, the trial site for 30-second COVID-19 tests, a joint venture between India and Israel.

About the venture –

The rapid testing is being jointly developed in cooperation with the Defense Research and Development Directorate of the Israeli Ministry of Defence, India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Principal Scientific Advisor, India — coordinated by the ministries of foreign affairs of Israel and India.

How does it work?

  • These non-invasive technologies include a voice test that uses artificial intelligence to identify changes in the patient’s voice, a breath analyser test that requires the patient to blow into a tube and detects the virus using terra-hertz waves, isothermal testing that enables identification of the virus in a saliva sample, and a test using polyamino acids that seeks to isolate proteins related to COVID-19.
  • These trials are being conducted on a large sample of patients in India. If the results validate the effectiveness of the tests, they will be mass manufactured in India and marketed to the world by Israel and India jointly.

Gurkha Regiment

The 1947 agreement among India, Nepal and the United Kingdom that deals with the military service of Gurkha soldiers has become “redundant,” Foreign Minister of Nepal Pradeep Kumar Gyawali has said recently.

What is the issue?

  • The Foreign Minister of Nepal alleged that the 1947 agreement which divided the Gurkha regiments of the British empire between India and the United Kingdom has become redundant as the Gurkha veterans have been alleging that the U.K. has been discriminating against them.
  • However, he spoke of a possible “bilateral” arrangement with India regarding the Gurkha soldiers.

Details about the tripartite agreement –

  • In 1947, when India became independent, it was decided to split Gurkha regiments between the British and Indian armies.
  • From the first quarter of the 19th century, Gurkhas had served under the British, first in the armies of the East India Company, and then the British Indian Army.
  • East India Company first recruited Gurkhas after suffering heavy casualties during the Anglo-Nepalese War also known as the Gurkha War.
  • It ensured that Gurkhas in British and Indian service would enjoy broadly the same conditions of service as that of British and Indian citizens.

Facts about Gurkhas –

  • After the 1947 Tripartite Agreement, the British Army amalgamated the Gurkha regiment into combined Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR). Currently, the Gurkhas comprise up to 3% of the British Army. In 2015 they completed 200 years of service in British Army.
  • Queen Elizabeth II of Britain is guarded by two personal Gurkha officers.
  • The Gurkhas are recruited every year at the British Gurkha camp at Pokhara in Nepal. The camp enlists fresh recruits not only for the British Army, but also for the counter-terror arm of the Singapore Police Force.
  • Their signature weapon of Gurkhas, Khukri, forms part of the Gurkha regimental insignia in Britain as well as in India.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a constellation of symptoms such as hearing voices, false beliefs and trouble with thinking and concentration, and its cause is not exactly known. In that sense, schizophrenia is still an enigma.

Studying the causes of disease –

  • Studies of schizophrenia among groups of varied ethnicities across the world have shown associations of the disease with alleles (variant genes) related to the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) – an important part of the immune system and related to a group of genes on chromosome six. However, the specific allele that was found to be associated with schizophrenia varied from group to group.
  • Recently, a pilot study on a south Indian, Tamil-speaking group consisting of 97 people with schizophrenia and 103 controls was carried out by Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF) and Jeevan Stem Cell Foundation, in Chennai. The study, published in International Journal of Immunogenetics finds an association of specific alleles with the disease.
  • The paper shows an association between HLA variations and schizophrenia. HLA is important for proper functioning of immune system and its variations can lead to immunological abnormalities. When the immune system acts up, as in autoimmune disorders, generating anti-NMDA receptor antibodies, for example, it can lead to schizophrenia.

What is Schizophrenia?

  • It is a severe mental disorder, characterised by profound disruptions in thinking, affecting language, perception, and the sense of self. It affects more than 21 million people worldwide.
  • Researchers believe that genetic as well as environmental factors such as exposure to viruses contribute to causation, and also life stressors may play a role in the disorder’s onset and course.
  • It typically begins in late adolescence or early adulthood. It leads toHallucinations, delusions, reduced speaking, reduced ability to understand information and decision making, trouble in focusing or paying attention etc.
  • It is a treatable disorder. Therapy and support can help people learn social skills, cope with stress, identify early warning signs of relapse and prolong periods of remission.

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