Patent challenge mounted against J&J’s attempt to extend monopoly on high-priced anti-TB drug

Headline : Patent challenge mounted against J&J’s attempt to extend monopoly on high-priced anti-TB drug

Details :

The News

  • Two TB patients have filed a petition challenging Johnson & Johnson’s application for extension of patent for Bedaquiline, the anti-TB drug.


  • Drug-resistant TB:
    • The bacteria causing TB have developed Multi-Drug Resistance and Extreme-Drug Resistance even to the most powerful anti-TB drugs, Isoniazid and Rifampicin.
    • About 1.47 lakh people in India suffer from multi drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).
  • Bedaquiline drug for treatment is too expensive:
    • The WHO has recommended Bedaquiline as a new-generation drug for Multi-drug resistant TB patients.
    • However, Bedaquiline is extremely expensive about $400 pe patient per regimen and thus unaffordable to majority of patients in India.
    • At present, a mere 2% of over the patients suffering from MDR-TB in India are currently getting Bedaquiline.
    • India is getting about 10,000 free courses of Bedaquiline under the US-AID programme, but this number is too low.

India needs to make generics when the patent expires:

  • Thus in order to meet the ambitious goal of ending TB by 2025, India needs make new-gen drugs like Bedaquiline accessible to its vulnerable population.
  • This requires compulsory licensing of Bedaquine in order to be able to make generic version of the drug which will be more accessible and affordable.

J&J looking to extend the duration of its patent:

  • Johnson&Johnson company currently holds the patent rights over the basic molecule of Bedaquiline till 2023.
  • The company has sought an extension of patent rights or secondary patent on the fumarate salt of Bedaquiline drug for 4 more years from 2023 to 2027.

Secondary Patent and Evergreening: A brief

  • In order to protect the patent rights of a pharma company over a drug, primary patent is issued.
  • Primary patent is issued over the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) of a drug usually of 20 years. 
  • During the 20 years, the drug is usually expensive as an incentive to the research efforts of the company holding the patent rights.
  • At the end of 20 years, generic versions of the drug are allowed to be manufactured and thus the prices of the drug come down.
  • As a strategy to continue getting profits keeping the price of the drug high, the pharma companies adopt strategies called secondary patents or evergreening.
  • Secondary patents are usually sought for derivatives and variants of the API, a new formulation, a dosage regimen, or a new method of administering the medicine.
  • This strategy of extending the patent rights beyond the 20 year period by seeking secondary patents even before the expiry of primary patent is called ‘Evergreening’.
  • Section 3(d) of the Indian Patents Act provides an effective defence against secondary patents misuse and thus evergreening in India.
  • According to Section 3(d) in order to be eligible for secondary patent, the drug must demonstrate significant improvement in therapeutic efficacy and not just change in formulation of the drug. 

Section : Science & Tech

Just 2km from landing on Moon, Vikram goes silent

Headline : Just 2km from landing on Moon, Vikram goes silent 

Details :

In News

  • The Vikram lander of the Chandrayaan-2 failed to make a smooth soft-landing on moon, as it was unable to bring down its speed to the required level.

About: Chandrayaan-2

  • The Chandrayaan-2 Mission was launched in July, 2019 to attempt landing near the little-explored south pole of the Moon.
  • The mission was to focus on the lunar surface, searching for water and minerals and measuring moonquakes, etc.


Parts of the Spacecraft:

  • The spacecraft used in the mission has three distinct parts: an orbiter, a lander and a rover.
  • The orbiter, which weighs 2,379kg (5,244lb) and has a mission life of a year, will take images of the lunar surface.
  • The lander (named Vikram) weighs about half as much, and carries within its belly a 27kg Moon rover with instruments to analyse the lunar soil.
  • The rover (called Pragyan – wisdom in Sanskrit) was designed to travel up to a half a kilometre from the lander and send data and images back to Earth for analysis.

Mission Vehicle

  • The mission vehicle was a GSLV Mk-III rocket.
  • GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) rockets can carry heavier payloads and travel deeper into space, and it was used as Chandrayaan-2 was heavy, with a total mass close to 4,000 kg.
  • It is powered by a core liquid engine, has two solid boosters that are used to provide the massive thrust required during liftoff, and a cryogenic engine in the upper stage.

Landing site

  • Though not exactly at the South Pole, the landing site was as far as any spacecraft has gone in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • NASA’s human landings about 50 years back, have been mostly near the Lunar Equator.
  • In contrast, Chandrayaan-2’s landing site was close to permanently shadowed craters near the South Pole that might store water ice.



  • Till date, only three countries — Russia, the US and China—have successfully soft-landed on the Moon.
  • India was attempting to soft-land a probe on Moon for the first time. It has earlier carried out an orbiter mission, Chandrayaan-1, around Moon in 2008.
  • The Chandrayaan-2 Mission was launched in July, 2019 to attempt landing near the little-explored south pole of the Moon.
  • In August 2019, the spacecraft slid precisely into its planned orbit around the moon.
  • In early September, 2019, the landing module (the Vikram lander with the Pragyan rover inside it) separated from the orbiter and entered an orbit of moon.

News Summary:

  • India’s attempt to create a history by becoming the first nation to land close to the south pole of the Moon has declared failed, after contact with lander Vikram was lost.
  • To decelerate after starting its descent, the lander continuously fired its four thrusters in the direction of its movement and the ‘rough braking phase’ of the lander went smoothly for 10 minutes. The lander’s descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km.
  • Subsequently, the communication from lander to ground stations was lost. No signal from the lander can mean that a communication glitch, a possible power issue with the rover, but can also mean that the rover did not survive the landing.
  • However, the Orbiter which ferried lander Vikram and rover Pragyan to the Moon’s orbit remains functional.
  • The mission life of the Orbiter is one year. The Orbiter payloads will conduct remote-sensing observations from a 100 km orbit.


Successful Chandrayaan-2 would have furthered human efforts at bulding Lunar Bases

Rationale of a Lunar base

  • Humans live in narrow ranges of temperature, pressure, humidity, radiation levels and other attributes. Such an environment can be replicated in a habitation module, which can be possible on the Moon and Mars.
  • The idea is to build a mini-city on the Moon or a Lunar base with houses (or habitation modules) where humans live, with support infrastructure like a power generation grid, communication network and vehicles for surface mobility.
  • Moon is preferred over Mars for a permanent base, because Mars is about 1000 times further away compared to the Moon. This leads to a long round trip of at least 1 year from Earth to Mars while the journey to the Moon can be traversed in 3 days through a powerful launch vehicle.

Conditions for Lunar Colonization


  • In order to rationalize costs, two fundamental human needs, water and oxygen, need to be available from lunar materials.
  • Further, a fundamental logistics requirement, rocket fuel, needs to be extracted and produced on the Moon.
  • Transporting water, oxygen or rocket fuel from Earth would exponentially increase costs to untenable levels.
  • Thus, availability of water on the moon is critical as it can provide for all three needs.


Chandrayaan-2’s importance in finding water

  • Chandrayaan-2 would have provided information related to location of water ice deposits in permanently shadowed craters on the Moon.
  • Specifically, the location and extent of water ice deposits, would have helped further robotics missions and technology development efforts to effectively extract, transport and store the water.

Section : Science & Tech

Technology: Indian space industry, SSLV, NSIL, Antrix, Indian space industry, Commercial Space Industry, ISRO and Private Sector

Headline : ISRO’s new commercial arm gets first booking for launch

Details :

In News

  • NEWSPACE INDIA Limited (NSIL), the newly created second commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation, recently got its first contract.
  • A private US space services provider, Spaceflight, has booked ISRO’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), which is yet to be tested, for launching a spacecraft.
  • Spaceflight has had nine launches in the past with ISRO involving over 100 spacecraft on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).


About: SSLV

  • ISRO’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) was originally scheduled to have its first development flight in July, 2019 but the flight has been pushed to the end of the year.
  • It is suited for launching multiple microsatellites at a time and supports multiple orbital drop-offs.
  • The SSLV can carry satellites weighing up to 500 kg to low earth orbit while the PSLV can launch satellites weighing in the range of 1,000 kg.
  • It is the smallest vehicle at 110-tonne mass at ISRO and takes only 72 hours to integrate, unlike the 70 days taken now for a launch vehicle.
  • Further, only six people will be required to do the job, instead of 60 people. This leads to the entire job being done in a very short time.
  • The cost of the vehicle is only around Rs 30 crore which is one tenth of a PSLV.
  • About 15 to 20 SSLVs would be required every year to meet the national demand alone.

About: NSIL

  • NSIL was incorporated in March 2019 under the administrative control of Department of Space (DOS).
  • The aim of NSIL is to use research and development carried out by ISRO over the years for commercial purposes through Indian industry partners.
  • It will mass produce and manufacture the SSLV and the more powerful PSLV with the private sector in India through technology transfers.
  • It will be involved in marketing spin-off technologies and products/services, both in India and abroad, and in any other subject which the government deems fit.
  • It will deal with capacity building of local industry for space manufacturing.

About: Antrix

  • Antrix is the first commercial arm of ISRO incorporated in 1992.
  • It is under the administrative control of Department of Space (DOS). 
  • It promotes and commercially markets the products and services emanating from the Indian Space Programme. 
  • The current business activities of Antrix include:
    • Provisioning of communication satellite transponders to various users
    • Providing launch services for customer satellites
    • Marketing of data from Indian and foreign remote sensing satellites
    • Building and marketing of satellites as well as satellite sub-systems
    • Establishing ground infrastructure for space applications
    • Mission support services for satellites

Indian space industry

  • The Indian space programme is one of the world’s fastest growing programmes.
  • Ever since India sent a spacecraft to Mars in 2014, India has India has become one of the top-ranking space-faring nations which include the US, Europe, Russia, China and Japan.
  • The space sector in India can broadly be categorized into upstream and downstream industries.
  • Upstream industries include manufacturing of satellites, their parts and subsystems, and launch vehicles.
  • Downstream industries include satellite-based services, such as satellite TV, communications, imagery etc.
  • India is moving towards increasing its capacity and capabilities of using space technology not only for societal applications but also to support commercial space activities and pursue diplomatic and security objectives.

Indian Private sector participation

  • India has a large Small-Medium-Enterprises (SMEs) base that caters within the traditional space agency-driven model.
  • However, there is a stark gap in the capacity builtup in the private industry where the industry is mostly involved as tier-2/3 based vendors
  • Presently there is no single industry vendor who has the capacity to deliver end-to-end systems.
  • This creates bottleneck effects in the possible expansion of industry to the global supply chain, especially from an export perspective.
  • ISRO’s opportunities for smaller players in the space sector are very restricted compared to larger national space programs, stifling the growth of private enterprise in the process.

Commercial Space Industry

  • The value of the global space industry is estimated to be $350 billion and is likely to exceed $550 billion by 2025.
  • A revolution is also under way in the small satellite market. Globally, 17,000 small satellites are expected to be launched between now and 2030.
  • Despite ISRO’s impressive capabilities, India’s share is estimated at $7 billion (just 2% of the global market).
  • It covers broadband and Direct-to-Home television (accounting for two-thirds of the share), satellite imagery and navigation.

How ISRO can benefit commercially

Launch multiple satellites

  • Many private companies are developing satellites that they need for their operations, but most cannot afford to launch these independently.
  • So they need to take help of missions from agencies like Isro that have launch facilities.
  • ISRO’s ability to launch multiple satellites in a single mission has improved its standing significantly in the global market.


  • The need for launches is growing exponentially worldwide.
  • New companies are planning to launch entire commercial constellations [groups] of satellites, where a single company might need to launch between 24 to 648 satellites.
  • The cost factor, remains a significant aspect of India’s space program.
  • ISRO has a proven track record in launching small satellites with the success of the PSLV.
  • The development of the SSLV will give India a further boost in this segment. SSLV will offer an even more cost-effective option than the existing PSLV.


  • Another thing that makes India an attractive proposition is the frequency of its launches and its ability to meet deadlines.
  • So far it has been able to meet the time requirements of all the customers

Heavy Satellites

  • India has been launching heavy satellites on its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) but so far it has only been used for domestic satellites.
  • In recent months, there have been queries from foreign companies for launches on the GSLV.
  • If India can successfully start taking more heavy satellites to space, it could significantly improve its position in a market that’s worth billions of dollars.

Section : Science & Tech

Malaria: About National Framework for Malaria Elimination (NFME), National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme,

Headline : Malaria may get ‘dangerous’ tag, but there’s nothing to worry about

Details :

In News

  • Malaria may soon be re-categorised as a ‘dangerous disease’ like tuberculosis, plague, small pox or leprosy in the capital.
  • The re-categorisation is taking place not because the disease has acquired an epidemic proportion or a new dangerous strain has been found.
  • The intention is to improve the screening mechanism to eradicate the disease completely from the city.



  • Delhi reported just 201 cases of malaria in 2014, which rose to 359 in 2015, 454 in 2016 and 577 in 2017.
  • Last year, 473 cases were reported while the count at the onset of this monsoon was around 83.


  • Peri-domestic containers — vase, flower pots, bird pots, tins, tyres and water fountains — account for the largest chunk of the mosquito breeding sites (38%).
  • Domestic water storage containers — drums, buckets, jerry cans etc — come second at 33%.
  • Desert coolers, used in Delhi in large numbers, and overhead tanks come at the third and fourth spots, respectively.

Current mechanism

  • At present, the corporations only get the data related to the mosquito-borne diseases from 36 hospitals under the sentinel scheme.
  • As malaria is not considered risky, most cases do not get reported.
  • Doctors give medicines for four-five days, which cures the symptoms but traces of the parasite stay in the liver.
  • However, a full 14-day radical treatment has to be followed for its complete removal from the system.


  • Post this step, it will become obligatory for all medical practitioners, clinics and private hospitals to report and give information about all patients arriving at their facilities.
  • The obligatory reportage will improve mapping of malaria cases and discourage incomplete treatment, which leads to development of resistance against drugs

Mechanisms to deal with Malaria in the country


  • In 1953, the Government of India launched the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) with a focus on indoor residual spraying of DDT. Within five years, the program helped to dramatically reduce the annual incidence of malaria.
  • Encouraged by this, a more ambitious National Malaria Eradication Programme (NMEP) was launched in 1958. This further reduced the number of malaria cases and eliminated deaths from the disease.
  • However, after 1967, resistance to insecticides and the parasite’s growing resistance to antimalarial drugs, led to a resurgence of the disease countrywide.

National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme

  • In 2003, malaria control was integrated with other vector borne diseases under the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP).
  • It is concerned with prevention and control of vector borne diseases namely Malaria, Filariasis, Kala-azar, Dengue and Japanese Encephalitis (JE).

Common Strategy

  • The 5 diseases were brought under a common umbrella as they share common control strategies such as
    • Chemical controls (e.g. indoor residual spraying),
    • Environmental management,
    • Biological control (e.g. larvivorous fish), and
    • Personal protection strategies (e.g. insecticide treated bed-nets).


  • The Directorate of NVBDCP is the nodal agency for programme implementation in respect of prevention and control of these vector borne diseases.
  • The Directorate provides technical assistance and support in terms of cash and commodity to the various states/UTs.
  • The programme implementation is the responsibility of the states/UTs.

National Framework for Malaria Elimination (NFME)

  • The National Framework for Malaria Elimination (NFME) in India 2016–2030 has been developed in close collaboration with officials from NVBDCP, experts from the Indian Council of Medical Research, WHO and representatives from civil society institutions, professional bodies and partners.
  • All states/UTs have been grouped into one of four categories. It will serve as a guide for states and UTs for planning malaria elimination.
  • Based on their malaria burden, specific objectives have been established for each of these categories and a mix of interventions will be implemented in each of them.
  • It will be implemented by the Directorate of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP).


  • Eliminate malaria (zero indigenous cases) throughout the entire country by 2030.
  • Maintain malaria–free status in areas where malaria transmission has been interrupted and prevent re-introduction of malaria.


  • Eliminate malaria from all 26 low (Category 1) and moderate (Category 2) transmission states/union territories (UTs) by 2022.
  • Reduce the incidence of malaria to less than 1 case per 1000 population per year in all states and UTs and their districts by 2024.
  • Interrupt indigenous transmission of malaria throughout the entire country, including all high transmission states and union territories (UTs) (Category 3) by 2027.
  • Prevent the re-establishment of local transmission of malaria in areas where it has been eliminated and maintain national malaria-free status by 2030 and beyond.

Section : Science & Tech

China, Russia, France share satellite data on Assam floods,UN-SPIDER, International Charter Space and Major Disasters

Headline : China, Russia, France share satellite data on Assam floods

Details :

In News:

  • The above-average rainfall has led to floods in Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, with Assam being the hardest hit.
  • India has acquired satellite imagery related to floods from eight international space agencies, due to its membership of the International Charter Space and Major Disasters.

Note: There is apprehension about further floods, after Bhutan released excess water from Kuricchu Hydropower reservoirs which could lead to rise in water level in seven districts in Assam.

Telegram :



  • United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) was established in 2006 under the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), which is the United Nations office responsible for international cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space.
  • It develops solution to address the limited access developing countries have to specialized technologies that can be essential in the management of disasters and the reducing of disaster risks.
  • It facilitates the use of space based disaster management and emergency response technologies.
  • The International Charter Space and Major Disasters has been set up under the UN-SPIDER.


About International Charter Space and Major Disasters

  • The International Charter Space and Major Disasters is a non-binding charter which provides for the charitable and humanitarian retasked acquisition of and transmission of space satellite data to relief organizations in the event of major disasters.
  • It was initiated by the European Space Agency and the French space agency CNES after the UNISPACE III conference held in Vienna, Austria in 1999 and it officially came into operation in 2000.
  • Since 2000, when the Charter came into operation there have been about 600 activations and data from 61 satellites have helped with disaster operations in 125 countries.
  • Every member agency has committed certain resources to support the provisions of the Charter and is therefore helping to mitigate the effects of disaster on human life and property.

How the Charter works?

  • Whenever there is a natural disaster, any of the member countries can send a ‘request’ to activate the Charter.
  • The Charter seeks the information pertaining to disaster- hit area available with all the 33 member space agencies
  • By combining earth observation assets from different space agencies, the charter allows resources and expertise to be coordinated for rapid response to major disaster situations
  • ISRO has also provided information to other Space Agencies in response to requests under the charter.


News Summary:

  • The National Remote Sensing Center (NRSC) represents the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as a member of the charter..
  • Due to the heavy floods in India, the Charter was activated on July 17 by NRSC.
  • Under the Charter, so far data has been received from 8 countries, including USGS, CNES, ESA, ROSCOSMOS, Chinese National Space Agency (CNSA) and 3 others.
  • ISRO’s CARTOSAT satellites too got the Indian space agency its own images.

Note: In 2018 also, India had activated the Charter after Kerala was inundated by floods.


Use satellites for Disaster Management

  • The data from earth observation and meteorological satellites in conjunction with ground based information, and services derived from communication & navigation satellites are being used towards Disaster Management Support.

Data Obtained

  • From meteorological satellites: For cyclone tracking, intensity & landfall predictions and forecasting of extreme weather events
  • From earth observation satellites: For monitoring disaster events and assessing the damages
  • The communication satellites: Help to establish emergency communication in remote and inaccessible areas
  • Navigation satellites: For providing location based services


  • The Cartosat satellites are a series of Indian earth observation satellites built and operated by the ISRO, as part of Indian Remote Sensing Program.
  • The Cartosat-2 series satellites, placed in a sun synchronous orbit, provide high resolution images of earth’s surface.
  • The images obtained from these satellites are useful in variety of applications requiring high resolution images, which include cartography, infrastructure planning, natural resources management, disaster management.
  • The National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of ISRO has the mandate to develop the technologies for effective use of remote sensing and GIS based information services for disaster mitigation, relief and management at local/state/central level.
Section : Science & Tech

How will India contribute to LIGO?

Headline : How will India contribute to LIGO?

Details :


  • LIGO India project is coming up in Maharashtra, near Aundha in Hingoli district.
  • This article explain about the LIGO projects across the world, their significance and India’s part in the global LIGO project.



  • In September 2015, LIGO’s US detectors made the first discovery of gravitational waves travelling outwards from a point 1.3 billion light years away from the earth.
  • At this point, two massive black holes with masses 29 and 36 times that of the sun had merged to give off gravitational wave disturbances. This discovery led to the confirmation of Einsteins’ prediction and launched a new way of studying the Universe.
    • Black holes are exotic objects that have immense gravitational pull and they trap even the fastest object in the world, which is light.
  • When objects with such an immense gravity merge, the disturbance is felt by the very fabric of space time and travels outward from the merger, Thus, gravitational waves have been described as “ripples in the fabric of space time”.



  • LIGO stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. It consists of a pair of huge interferometers, each having two arms which are 4 km long.
  • LIGO, unlike usual telescopes, does not “see” the incoming ripples in spacetime because gravitational waves are not a part of electromagnetic spectrum or light.
  • They are not light waves but a different phenomenon altogether — a stretching of spacetime due to immense gravity.

Detection of gravitational waves:

  • Remarkable precision is needed to detect a signal as faint as a gravitational wave, and the two LIGO detectors work as one unit to ensure this.
  • This requires weeding out noise very carefully, for when such a faint signal is being detected, even a slight human presence near the detector could derail the experiment by drowning out the signal.
  • A single LIGO detector cannot confidently detect this disturbance on its own and at least two detectors are needed. This is because the signal is so weak that even a random noise could give out a signal that can mislead one into thinking a genuine gravitational wave has been detected.
  • It is because two detectors detect the faint signal in coincidence that leads to the certainty of it being read as a genuine reading and not noise.


Other LIGO detectors

  • Following the 2015 detection, which later won the Physics Nobel (2017), the two LIGO detectors detected seven such binary black hole merger events before they were joined by the European Virgo detector in 2017. The two facilities have now detected 10 events.
  • The Japanese detector, KAGRA, or Kamioka Gravitational-wave Detector, is expected to join the international network soon.
  • In the meantime, in a collaboration with LIGO, a gravitational wave detector is being set up in India.
  • The LIGO India project is expected to join the international network in a first science run in 2025.


Sources of Gravitational Waves

  • Mergers of black holes or neutron stars, rapidly rotating neutron stars, supernova explosions and the remnants of the disturbance caused by the formation of the universe and the Big Bang, are the strongest sources.
  • There can be many other sources, but these are likely to be too weak to detect.

Significance of Gravitational Waves

  • The data collected by LIGO, may have far-reaching effects on many areas of physics including gravitation, relativity, astrophysics, cosmology, particle physics, and nuclear physics.
  • It has opened a completely new window with which scientists are starting to probe hitherto unexplored phenomena such as the formation of black holes, exploding neutron stars and witnessing the birth of the Universe.
  • It enriches multi-messenger astronomy complementing the conventional means of observing and studying the Universe with telescopes using light.
  • As more detectors would be in place, the study would also offer a new way to map out the universe, using gravitational-wave astronomy. Perhaps one day with highly accurate detection facilities, signatures of gravitational waves bouncing off celestial objects will help in detecting and mapping them.


LIGO India

  • LIGO India will come up in Maharashtra, near Aundha in Hingoli district. The observatory will cost 12.6 billion rupees (US$177 million) and is scheduled for completion in 2024.
  • Like the LIGO detectors, the one at LIGO India will also have two arms of 4 km length. But while there are similarities there will be differences too.
  • Being an ultra-high precision large-scale apparatus, LIGO India is expected to show a unique “temperament” determined by the local site characteristics.
  • The LIGO Laboratory — which is operated by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge — will provide the hardware for a complete LIGO interferometer in India, technical data on its design, as well as training and assistance with installation and commissioning for the supporting infrastructure.
  • India will provide the site, the vacuum system and other infrastructure required to house and operate the interferometer — as well as all labour, materials and supplies for installation.

Agencies involved

  • The LIGO-India project will be built by by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Science Foundation (NSF), USA, signed in 2016, along with several national and international research and academic institutions.

Significance of LIGO India

  • It will dramatically increase the sensitivity with which gravitational events will be detected.
  • It will allow accurate calculation of sizes of black holes.
  • Help to better understand the Universe’s rate of expansion.
  • Detection of gravitational waves: With the current number of detectors in the world, there is huge uncertainty in determining where in the sky the disturbance came from. Observations from a new detector in a far-off position will help locate the source of the gravitational waves five to ten times more accurately than current efforts allow.
  • Development of Astronomy: India is conventionally strong in theoretical astronomy. It will help Indian astronomers partner with the global community and bring new insights into this vibrant area.
  • Careers in Science: Presence of such a world-leading facility in India will inspire and attract generations of students to pursue challenging careers in science, technology and innovation.
Section : Science & Tech

Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)

Headline : Mobile scheme to quit tobacco has over 2 million users in India

Details :

In News:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently released its 7th report on global tobacco epidemic.
  • The report analyses national efforts to implement the most effective measures from the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).


About: Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)

  • The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is a treaty adopted by the 56th World Health Assembly held in Geneva, Switzerland in 2003.
  • This World Health Organization (WHO) treaty came into force in 2005.
  • The FCTC, is a supranational agreement that seeks “to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke“.
  • To achieve this, it seeks to enact a set of universal standards stating the dangers of tobacco and limiting its use in all forms worldwide
  • Demand reduction provisions: The core demand reduction provisions in the WHO FCTC are:
    • Price and tax measures to reduce the demand for tobacco
    • Non-price measures to reduce the demand for tobacco, including regulation of the contents of tobacco products, packaging and labelling of tobacco products, Education, communication, training and public awareness etc.
  • Supply reduction provisions: The core supply reduction provisions in the WHO FCTC are:
    • Illicit trade in tobacco products;
    • Sales to and by minors; and,
    • Provision of support for economically viable alternative activities.


About: “MPOWER” interventions:

  • To help countries implement the WHO FCTC, WHO introduced MPOWER, a package of technical measures and resources, each of which corresponds to at least one provision of the WHO FCTC.
  • MPOWER builds the capacity of countries to implement certain provisions of the WHO FCTC.
  • The MPOWER report was launched in 2007 to promote government action on six tobacco control strategies in-line with the WHO FCTC to:
    • Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies
    • Protect people from tobacco smoke
    • Offer help to quit tobacco use
    • Warn people about the dangers of tobacco
    • Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
    • Raise taxes on tobacco
  • “MPOWER” interventions, have been shown to save lives and reduce costs from averted healthcare expenditure.


About: Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products

  • llicit trade poses a serious threat to public health because it increases access to often cheaper tobacco products, thus fueling the tobacco epidemic and undermining tobacco control policies.
  • It also causes substantial losses in government revenues, and at the same time contributes to the funding of international criminal activities.
  • In response to the growing illicit trade in tobacco products, often across borders, The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products was adopted in 2012.
  • It is the first protocol to the WHO FCTC, and builds upon and complements Article 15 of the WHO FCTC, which addresses means of countering illicit trade in tobacco products, a key aspect of a comprehensive tobacco control policy.
  • The Protocol has the objective of eliminating all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products through a package of measures to be taken by countries acting in cooperation with each other.


News Summary:

  • About 1.1 billion people are currently smokers, out of which about half of those who use tobacco will die as a result.
  • In 2017, a Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) found that 38.5 per cent of adult smokers and 33.2 per cent adult users of smokeless forms of tobacco had attempted to quit.
  • The WHO’s 7th report on global tobacco epidemic “Monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies” was recently released, special reference about India’s efforts in helping smokers quit.


At the world level:

  • Remarkable progress has been made in global tobacco control since MPOWER was introduced.
  • Progress is being made, with 2.4 billion people living in countries now providing comprehensive cessation services (2 billion more than in 2007). However, only 23 countries provide cessation services at best-practice level.
    • Tobacco cessation services include national toll-free quit lines, “mCessation” services to reach larger populations via mobile phones, counselling by primary health care providers and cost-covered nicotine replacement therapy.
  • Nearly two thirds of countries (121 of 194) – comprising 63% of the world’s population – have now introduced at least one MPOWER
  • However, the report reveals that lives are still at risk from tobacco, with billions of people living in countries that have not yet fully implemented even one of six effective measures to control tobacco recommended by the organisation.
  • About 2.7 billion people still have no protection from the illness, disability and death caused by tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure, or from associated economic, environmental and social harms.

Findings on India

  • India is the second largest consumer of tobacco products, with more than 200 million users of smokeless tobacco and 276 million consumers of tobacco overall.
  • India advanced to best-practice level with their tobacco use cessation services.
  • The GATS survey conducted in India in 2009–10 revealed that 47% of current smokers and 46% of current users of smokeless tobacco planned to quit tobacco use eventually.
  • Considering the high interest in quitting among tobacco users, the Government of India launched a countrywide tobacco cessation programme and national toll-free quitline in May 2016.
  • India is among countries with the highest level of achievement in reducing tobacco use among the youth, and also in motivating users to quit.


India’s efforts in helping smokers quit.

  • The National Tobacco Control Programme
  • The mCessation programme being implemented by the Indian government with support from the WHO and International Telecommunication Union’s Be He@lthy, Be mobile


About: National Tobacco Control Programme

Government of India launched the National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) in the year 2007-08.


  • create awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco consumption,
  • reduce the production and supply of tobacco products,
  • ensure effective implementation of the provisions under “The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003” (COTPA)
  • help the people quit tobacco use, and
  • facilitate implementation of strategies for prevention and control of tobacco advocated by WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control .

Objectives :

  • To bring about greater awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco use and Tobacco Control Laws.
  • To facilitate effective implementation of the Tobacco Control Laws.
  • The objective of this programme is to control tobacco consumption and minimize the deaths caused by it.


Be He@lthy, Be Mobile initiative

  • It harnesses the power and reach of mobile phones to address the non-communicable disease (NCD) risk factors by educating people to make healthier lifestyle choices to help prevent and manage NCDs via their phones.
  • The initiative uses mobile phone technology to deliver disease prevention and management information directly to mobile phone users, and strengthens health systems by providing training to health workers.


About m-Cessation Programme

  • As a part of Digital India initiative, mCessation programme was launched using text messages in 2016.
  • It uses two-way messaging between the individual seeking to quit tobacco use and programme specialists providing them dynamic support.
  • The programme allows people who want to quit tobacco use to register by giving a missed call to a dedicated national number.
  • The programme’s progress is monitored in real-time through an online dashboard that details the number of registrations.
  • The programme has shown strong outcomes in terms of health and outreach, and provides a huge opportunity to help several million tobacco users who want to quit.
  • mTobaccoCessation version-2 has also been launched recently, which can deliver content through SMS or interactive voice response in 12 languages.

Note: MCessation could be included in PHC (Primary Health Care)-level advice to enable maximum reach.

Section : Social Issues

Ban or regulate? Editorial 29th Jul’19 TheHindu

Headline : Ban or regulate? Editorial 29th Jul’19 TheHindu

Details :

Use of Cryptocurrencies  at this moment in a bit shady:

  • Bitcoin, the most prominent among cryptocurrencies, has fluctuated wildly in value, even over short periods of time.
  • As per some analysts, for now, “speculation remains Bitcoin’s primary use case”.
  • Its use in illegal online marketplaces that deal with drugs and child pornography is well-documented.
  • There have been cases of consumers being defrauded, including in India.

World is cautious about the cryptocurrencies:

  • Governments and economic regulators across the world are wary of private cryptocurrencies.
  • As they need neither a central issuing authority nor a central validating agency for transactions, these currencies can exist and thrive outside the realm of authority and regulation.
  • They are even deemed a threat to the official currency and monetary system.


Few takers for cryptocurrencies in Indian government:

  • Indian policymakers and administrators have time and again made clear their distaste for cryptocurrencies.
  • In his Budget speech in 2018, Finance Minister said the government doesn’t consider them legal tender.
  • The Reserve Bank of India has repeatedly warned the public of the risks associated with dealing with cryptocurrencies.

Recommendation to ban all private cryptocurrencies:

  • An inter-ministerial committee recently recommended that India should ban all private cryptocurrencies, that is, Bitcoin and others like it.
  • The committee even drafted a law that mandates a fine and imprisonment of up to 10 years for the offences of mining, generating, holding, selling, dealing in, transferring, disposing of, or issuing cryptocurrencies.
  • The decision hardly comes as a surprise, considering they have little backing in Indian government.
  • Their existence owed almost entirely to advanced encryption technologies.
  • Committee in favour of Central bank-issued cryptocurrency:
    • The committee while recommending ban on private cryptocurrencies has advocated a central bank-issued cryptocurrency.


Is banning the most effective way to deal with cryptocurrencies?

  • The question then is whether banning cryptocurrencies is the most effective way to respond.
  • The inter-ministerial committee believing in ban, and recommended it.
  • China, which India has taken a cue from, has gone for an outright ban.

But it cites countries which haven’t actually banned them:

  • Six of the seven jurisdictions that the committee’s report cites have not banned cryptocurrencies outright.
  • They are regulating them, not banning them:
    • Many of them, including Canada, Thailand, Russia and Japan, seem to be moving on the path of regulation, so that transactions are within the purview of anti-money laundering and prevention of terror laws.

Banning could be ineffective as private traders can use overseas platforms:

  • Owing to the network-based nature of cryptocurrencies, after banning domestic crypto exchanges, many traders turned to overseas platforms to continue participating in crypto transactions.
  • Even in China, trading in cryptocurrencies is now low but not non-existent.


Regulation rather than ban could be considered:

  • It is not clear from the report on why an outright ban is a superior choice to regulation, especially in a field driven by fast-paced technological innovations.
  • There should be more debate before government brings in any law to ban the cryptocurrencies, than regulate them.



GS Paper III: Economy

Section : Editorial Analysis

Everything about Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C

Headline : Hepatitis B and C major killers, but few know it

Details :

In News:

  • On the World Hepatitis Day, the Union health minister pledged to join a campaign initiated by the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) to create awareness about the disease.

Context of the topic:

  • In India, more people are dying of Hepatitis B and C than HIV, malaria and dengue combined and yet the awareness about the disease remains low.


In Focus: Hepatitis

What is Hepatitis?

  • Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver.
  • The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer.
  • Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world but other infections, toxic substances (e.g. alcohol, certain drugs), and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis.

Note: Autoimmune hepatitis is a disease that occurs when your body makes antibodies against your liver tissue.

Types of Viral Hepatitis

  • Viral infections of the liver that are classified as hepatitis include hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E.
  • A different virus is responsible for each type of virally transmitted hepatitis.
  • These 5 types are of greatest concern because of the burden of illness and death they cause and the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread.
  • In particular, types B and C are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.


  • Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water.
  • Hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of parenteral contact with infected body fluids.
    • Common modes of transmission for these viruses include receipt of contaminated blood or blood products, invasive medical procedures using contaminated equipment and for hepatitis B transmission from mother to baby at birth, from family member to child, and also by sexual contact.

Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis A infections are in many cases mild, with most people making a full recovery and remaining immune from further Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) infections. However, HAV infections can also be severe and life threatening.
  • Most people in areas of the world with poor sanitation have been infected with this virus.
  • Transmission of the Virus:
    • Through consumption of contaminated water or food.
    • Certain sex practices can also spread Hepatitis A Virus (HAV).
  • Vaccination availability:
    • Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HAV.

Hepatitis B

  • Hepatitis B is a viral infection caused by Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease.
  • According to WHO, in 2015, 257 million people suffered from Hepatitis B infection (defined as Hepatitis B surface antigen positive).
  • Infections in India: India harbours 10-15% of the entire pool of Hepatitis B virus carriers in the world and 15-25% of these patients are likely to suffer from cirrhosis, scarring of the liver and liver cancer and likely to die prematurely.
  • Transmission of the Virus:
    • Exposure to infective blood, semen, and other body fluids.
    • From infected mother to infant at the time of birth or from family member to infant in early childhood.
  • Vaccination availability:
    • Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HBV.
    • All infants should get a shot as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. It, however, can be taken at any age

Hepatitis C

  • Transmission of the Virus (HCV) :
    • Through unsafe injection practices
    • Transfusion of unscreened blood and its products
    • Sexual practices that lead to exposure of blood of an infected individual
  • Vaccination availability:
    • There is no preventive vaccine for Hepatitis C, which is a major cause of liver cancer.

Hepatitis D

  • Transmission of the Virus:
    • The Hepatitis D Virus (HDV) infections occur only in those who are infected with HBV.
    • The dual infection of HDV and HBV can result in a more serious disease and worse outcome.
  • Vaccination availability:
    • Hepatitis B vaccines provide protection from HDV infection.

Hepatitis E

  • Hepatitis E Virus is a common cause of hepatitis outbreaks in developing parts of the world and is increasingly recognized as an important cause of disease in developed countries
  • Transmission of the Virus:
    • Consumption of contaminated water or food.
  • Vaccination availability:
    • Safe and effective vaccines to prevent HEV infection have been developed but are not widely available.

Hepatitis B and C: Major Risks

  • According to the global hepatitis  report,  2017  Hepatitis B and C, the two main types of the five different hepatitis infections (A,B,C,D,E), are responsible for 96% of overall viral hepatitis related mortality.


About National Viral Hepatitis Control Program

  • The National Viral Hepatitis Control Program has been launched by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, on the occasion of the World Hepatitis Day, 28th July 2018.
  • It is an integrated initiative for the prevention and control of viral hepatitis in India to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.3 which aims to ending viral hepatitis by 2030.
  • This is a comprehensive plan covering the entire gamut from Hepatitis A, B, C, D & E, and the whole range from prevention, detection and treatment to mapping treatment outcomes.


  • Combat hepatitis and achieve country wide elimination of Hepatitis C by 2030
  • Achieve significant reduction in the infected population, morbidity and mortality associated with Hepatitis B and C i.e. Cirrhosis and Hepato-cellular carcinoma (liver cancer)
  • Reduce the risk, morbidity and mortality due to Hepatitis A and E.

Key Objectives:

  • Enhance community awareness on hepatitis and lay stress on preventive measures among general population especially high-risk groups and in hotspots.
  • Provide early diagnosis and management of viral hepatitis at all levels of healthcare
  • Develop standard diagnostic and treatment protocols for management of viral hepatitis and its complications.
  • Strengthen the existing infrastructure facilitiescapacity building of existing human resources and raise additional human resources, where required, for providing comprehensive services for management of viral hepatitis and its complications in all districts of the country.
  • Develop linkages with the existing National programs towards awareness, prevention, diagnosis and treatment for viral hepatitis.
  • Develop a web-based “Viral Hepatitis Information and Management System” to maintain a registry of persons affected with viral hepatitis and its sequelae.


  • Preventive component
    • Awareness generation & behaviour change communication
    • Immunization of Hepatitis B (birth dose, high risk groups, health care workers)
    • Safety of blood and blood products
    • Injection safety, safe socio-cultural practices
    • Safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitary toilets
  • Diagnosis and Treatment
  • Monitoring and Evaluation, Surveillance and Research
  • Training and Capacity Building


Way ahead:

  • To make the programme successful and to ensure all persons suffering from Hepatitis B and C get treatment, there is need of more funds.
  • However, with the recent reductions in the costs of diagnosing and treating viral hepatitis, countries can scale up investments in eliminating the disease.
  • Also, mass campaigns are needed to create awareness about its vaccination.


Section : Social Issues

SciTech – Current Affairs

Bubble boy syndrome #

It is also called severe combined immunodeficiency, it is a rare genetic disorder that results in a defective immune system in baby boys.
How is it caused?
It results from a genetic defect in the X-Chromosome and therefore called X-linked SCID
The defective X-chromosome lacks in the gene that forms the immune system.
The absence of gene prevents the bone marrow from producing healthy stem cells that form the immune system.
Since the baby is born with extremely weak immune system, it is protected from infectious germs by enclosing it in a sterile environment like a plastic pod (a bubble)
Further since it affects almost only baby boys; it is called as bubble boy syndrome.
The bubble baby boys with SCID die within 1 or 2 years in the absence of treatment.

X-linked genetic disorders in males #
X-linked genetic disorders mostly affect males. (eg. Haemophilia)
They are caused by a gene alteration on the X chromosome.
Males have XY chromosomes and Females have XX chromosomes.
Since males have only one X chromosome, if they have a gene alteration on their X chromosome they will develop the condition.
Since females have a second unaltered copy of the gene on their other X chromosome to compensate for an altered gene they do not develop the condition.
However a female who has a gene alteration on one of her X chromosomes is said to be a carrier for the X-linked genetic disorders.

Global Genome sequencing projects: Human Genome Project #

An international project to decode the 3 billion base pairs in the human genome, completed in 2003.
Key results
It discovered that the number of genes in human genetic material is around 20,000 to 25,000.
Further the amount of DNA an organism carries is not related to the organism’s complexity.
Also there is no relationship between the number of genes an organism has and its complexity.
UK was the 1st to launch a whole genome sequencing project called Genomics England
Australia is working on the 100,000 Genomes Project.
GenomeAsia100K is a genome sequencing project representing populations from South and South-East Asia including 50000 Indians.
Japan and China also have started their own genome sequencing projects.