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Social Issues

India plans a riposte to slavery report: (The Hindu)

To pressure ILO to distance itself from Australian NGO’s survey, which can potentially harm India’s image.


  • India sends a refutation to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) challenging India’s ranking in a global slavery report.
  • The country will now build pressure on the global body to distance itself from the Australian-based NGO-Walk Free Foundation.

Why is India against the report?

  • India has raised question about why the International Labour Organization (ILO) tied up with Walk Free Foundation  (WFF) to produce a report on ‘modern slavery’, a term ILO hasn’t so far defined in its own convention.
  • The ILO, without following any protocol, endorsed WFF’s survey.

What is Modern Slavery?

  • Modern slavery refers to situations where one person has taken away another person’s freedom.
  • Their freedom to control their body, their freedom to choose to refuse certain work or to stop working so that they can be exploited.
  • Freedom is taken away by threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power and deception.

What is International Labour Organization (ILO)?

  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations agency.
  • Objective: It deals with labour problems, particularly international labour standards, social protection, and work opportunities for all.
  • Also, the ILO registers complaints against entities that are violating international rules.
  • Member States: The ILO has 187 member states: 186 of the 193 UN member states plus the Cook Islands are members of the ILO.

What is Walk Free Foundation (WFF)?

  • The Walk Free Foundation is a global organization.
  • Objective: It makes an attempt to end contemporary slavery and human trafficking.
  • More specifically, it is known for its Global Slavery Index.

What is Global Slavery Index?

  • The Global Slavery Index presents an annual ranking of 167 countries based on the percentage of a country’s population that is estimated to be in modern slavery.
  • Three key variable: It includes data on three key variables:
  • Prevalence of modern slavery in each country,
  • Vulnerability and
  • Government responses to modern slavery.

What is India’s position in the recent Global Slavery Index?

  • The 2016 Global Slavery Index estimates that 45.8 million people are subject to some form of modern slavery in the world today.
  • Now, India has been ranked 4th out of 167 countries.
  • The top three countries were North Korea, Uzbekistan and Cambodia.
  • In 2016, it was deemed to have some 18.3 million people trapped in slavery.
  • In 2017, about 1.4% of the population working under coercive conditions.

Where is India lagging behind?

  • The long-term structural weakness of India’s economic reform has been the inability to expand the market for jobs in sync with its demographic growth.
  • Many of these new-age slaves are women and children, the most vulnerable sections on the frontline of economic slowdown and poverty.
  • Increase in number of slaves every year is due to the rank failure of India’s law enforcement institutions.


India and neighbors

India acts against bottom trawling: (The Hindu)

Joint Working Group outlines initiatives in the Palk Bay area; need for permanent solution reiterated.


  • India informed Sri Lanka that it has taken measures to stop bottom trawling by its fishermen in the waters near the Sri Lankan coastline.

What is bottom trawling?

  • Bottom trawling is an ecologically destructive practice.
  • The practice involves trawlers dragging weighted nets along the sea-floor, causing great depletion of aquatic resources.
  • Bottom trawling captures juvenile fish, thus exhausting the ocean’s resources and affecting marine conservation efforts.

What is deep fishing?

  • Deep fishing is an eco-friendly practice.
  • The activity of catching fish that live in the deep parts of the sea/ocean is called deep-sea fishing.
  • It is practiced worldwide, especially in the coastal areas with no ecological damage.

What are the initiatives to prevent bottom trawling in India?

  • Recent initiatives taken by the Government of India to end bottom trawling in the Palk Bay area include:
  • The launch of a programme on diversification of bottom trawlers into deep-sea fishing vessels for tuna long lining under the Blue Revolution Scheme,
  • Construction of harbors like, Mookaiyur and Poompuhar fishing harbors,
  • Capacity-building programmes for fishermen of the Palk Bay area in deep sea tuna long lining and
  • Fresh registration for bottom trawlers in the Palk Bay area has been banned by the Government of Tamil Nadu.
  • India also recently informed that schemes promoting seaweed farming and sea-cage farming have begun in the Palk Bay area to wean away fishermen from deep-sea trawling.

What is Blue Revolution Scheme?

  • The Blue Revolution Scheme by the government of India aims to create an environment for integrated development of the full potential of fisheries of the country.
  • Along with substantially improvement in the income status of fishers and fish farmers keeping in view the sustainability, biosecurity and environmental concerns.

What are the disputes between India and Sri Lanka?

  • The maritime boundary agreements of 1974 and 1976 were concluded by the two governments did not reflect realities on the ground.
  • The ongoing dispute has escalated tensions between those fishermen using traditional methods and those using mechanized methods leading to increase in the infringement of territorial boundaries.
  • The issue of fishermen straying in each other’s territorial waters has come as a potential irritant in the bilateral relations between the neighboring states.
  • There is no well-defined boundary line between the two nations.
  • Overuse of mechanized trawlers in the Palk Bay has further Fueled the dispute over Kachchatheevu.

What is the way ahead?

  • The solution lies in transition from trawling to deep-sea fishing in India.
  • Making the use of trawling technique an offence by the Indian government is another solution.
  • Permitting licensed Indian fishermen to fish within a designated area of Sri Lankan waters and vice versa.
  • There is an evident need for institutionalization of fisherman in Indian waters by the government of India so that alternative means of livelihood are provided.
  • Government needs to mark up a comprehensive plan to reduce the necessity of Indian fishermen on catch from Palk Bay.


Science and Tech

A plan to stamp out animal TB: (The Hindu) 

Zoonotic TB continues to remain largely hidden, posing many health risks.


The road map to combat animal tuberculosis (or bovine TB) and its transmission to humans, referred to as zoonotic TB is launched.

How does Zoonotic TB spread?

  • Zoonotic TB spreads through consumption of contaminated untreated meat or dairy products from diseased animals.
  • In India, consumption of raw milk and living in close proximity to cattle has been attributed to high incidence rates of bovine TB in the central Indian populations. Farmers, dairy workers, and zoo keepers are at a greater risk.
  • The priorities outlined in the road map highlight the need for multi-sectoral action to tackle this neglected form of TB and achieve the targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and WHO’s End TB Strategy.

What is Bovine TB?

  • Bovine TB is a disease caused by a specific species of bacteria called M. bovis.  
  • Bovine TB usually affects animals such as cattle, but it can affect any mammals causing a general state of illness, coughing and eventual death.
  • The usual route of infection is by animals and humans inhaling infected droplets which are expelled from the lungs by coughing.

Role of enhanced surveillance

  • Bovine TB is often communicated to humans through food consumption, usually non-heat-treated dairy products or raw, or improperly cooked meat from diseased animals.
  • Direct transmission from infected animals or animal products to people can also occur.
  • For countries to achieve the global TB elimination targets, interventions addressing zoonotic TB need to be introduced in the national programmes.
  • Preventing and controlling bovine TB at its animal source is crucial to avoid its transmission to humans, improve food safety and protect the livelihood of many rural communities.
  • Implementation of strategies based on international standards and a cross-sectoral approach will enable improved surveillance and diagnosis of the disease in animals and consequently reduce the risks for humans.


Bovine TB, caused by Mycobacterium bovis, affects cattle, threatens people’s livelihoods and results in major economic and trade barriers, as well as posing a major risk to food safety and human health. While governments have agreed to TB elimination goals, zoonotic TB continues to remain largely hidden.

Prelims Related News

DNA barcodes reveal adulteration in traditional medicines:


A genetic study has shown that traditional medicines in the large unorganised market contain spurious plant extracts and heavy metals that pose serious risks to health.

What does the study show?

The studies shows that traditional medicinal markets are replete with unrelated plant materials that substitute for endangered or rare ones, while the final product, in some instances, contains heavy metals, particularly lead. A herbal trade authentication system was needed to address concerns over widespread adulteration.

What are heavy metals?

  • Heavy metals are metallic, naturally occurring compounds that have higher density compared to other metals, at least five times the density of water.
  • Heavy metals are toxic to humans.
  • Examples: Lead, Copper, Mercury, Cadmium, Arsenic, Chromium (Cr), Thallium etc.

Process of tracing the genes and focus on adulteration

  • While attempting to trace the genetic history of Phyllanthus (Leaf flower), scientists were surprised to see claims of the plant being used in abundance in herbal medicines, despite its relative rarity.
  • Samples and their DNA analysis showed that nearly 25% of samples were not Phyllanthus amarus (used to treat Hepatitis B), but a mixture of other species which did not contain the curative elements of Phyllanthin and hypophyllanthin.
  • The focus was then on species adulteration and developed DNA barcodesshort genetic sequences, much like a supermarket barcode, which becomes an identifying mark – for the species commonly used in traditional medicine.
  • For example, Ashoka bark, which is used to cure many ailments including leucorrhea, uterine disorders, and as an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial drug — whose harvesting is highly regulated under forest laws was found to have 90% adulteration by seven other species, including papaya or drumstick bark.

What are DNA Barcodes?

  • DNA barcoding is a taxonomic method that uses a short genetic marker in an organism’s DNA to identify it as belonging to a particular species.
  • It differs from molecular phylogeny in that the main goal is not to determine patterns of relationship but to identify an unknown sample in terms of a preexisting classification.
  • Although barcodes are sometimes used in an effort to identify unknown species or assess whether species should be combined or separated, the utility of DNA barcoding for these purposes is subject to debate.


There is a need to reduce the adulteration in traditional medicines and develop barcodes as an identifying mark for the medicines.

External ground delays holding up GSAT-9 benefits:

We will support partner governments through Indian industry, says ISRO.


  • Nearly five months after the South Asia Satellite GSAT-9 was launched, the Indian Space Research Organisation has initiated the processes to set up ground stations for the partners to receiver/send satellite communication.

What is South Asia Satellite GSAT-9?

  • South Asia Satellite GSAT-9 was launched on May 05th, 2017.
  • South Asia Satellite GSAT-9 is a Geostationary Communication satellite realized by India.
  • Objective: The primary objective of GSAT-9 is to provide various communication applications in Ku-band with coverage over South Asian countries.
  • Utility: The two solar arrays of GSAT-9 consisting of Ultra Triple Junction solar cells generate about 3500 Watts of electrical power.
  • Sun and Earth sensors as well as gyroscopes provide orientation reference for the satellite.

What are the benefits of Space Diplomacy in India?

  • South Asia satellite boosts the regional co-operation among the member countries.
  • It reinforces the Indian policy of “Neighbourhood First“.
  • It opens new paths of engagement between India and member countries thus deepening the economic ties.
  • Countries involved (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka)  will build relations in economy, trade and other purposes.

What is Indian Space Research Organization?

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was formed in 1969.
  • It is the space agency of the Government of India.
  • Objective: The prime objective of ISRO is to develop space technology and its application to various national tasks.
  • Vision: Its vision is to “harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration.

What are ISRO’s global outreaches?

  • ISRO has had international co-operation since inception. Some instances are listed below:
  • Establishment of Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS), conduct of SITE & STEP, launches of Aryabhata, Bhaskara APPLE, IRS-IA and IRS-IB/ satellites, manned space mission, etc. involved international co-operation.
  • PSLV, the indigenous workhorse launch vehicle of India, has not only launched Indian satellites, but 57 satellites from 20 countries as well.
  • India has established a Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific (CSSTE-AP) that is sponsored by the United Nations.
  • ISRO has enabled video transmission uplinked from India.
  • Once the countries start using their part of satellite fully, it could open or spur activities for poor and unconnected areas for tele-education and tele-medicine or consultations with doctors.

Elevated enzyme for cancer diagnosis:


  • The application of the elevated enzyme technique may be used during surgery to know tumour spread.
  • Researchers have utilised the overexpression of biotin receptors on cancer cells and enhanced production of thioredoxin reductase (TrxR) enzyme in cancer cells for cancer diagnosis.
  • Breast and cervical cancer cell line studies shows encouraging results.

More about the research and findings

  • The researchers developed a hybrid assembly by binding naphthalimide moiety to carbon dots using disulphide covalent bond.
  • Naphthalimide analogues are used as anticancer agents.
  • In the presence of normal amount of TrxR enzyme seen inside normal cells, the carbon dots behave as an energy donor and the naphthalimide moiety as an acceptor, thus establishing fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET).
  • There is a typical yellow emission when irradiated with visible light.
  • But in the presence of elevated levels of TrxR enzyme, which is seen in cancer cells, the disulphide covalent bond gets disrupted freeing the naphthalimide moiety from the surface of carbon dots.
  • As a result, the FRET gets disrupted and there is blue emission when the cells are irradiated with visible light.
  • In normal cells, the amount of TrxR enzyme is very little and hence the FRET mechanism is not eliminated, resulting in yellow emission.

What is fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)?

  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) is a physical phenomenon whereby energy created by fluorescence excitation of one molecule is transferred to an adjacent molecule.
  • Basically, FRET is a special technique to gauge the distance between two chromophores, called a donor-acceptor pair.
  • If the two molecules are fluorophores, excitation of the first molecule results in fluorescence emission of the second molecule.

Distinguishing cancer cells using colour of the emission

  • We can distinguish cancer cells from normal cells by the colour of the emission.
  • The presence of yellow emission indicates normal cells while blue indicates cancer cells.
  • Note: i) Unlike normal cells, cancer cells have large number of biotin receptors. Since biotin is present on the surface of carbon dots, the hybrid assembly is absorbed in large numbers by cancer cells. ii) When the bond is intact the emission comes from the naphthalimide moiety, and when the bond is broken, the emission comes from the carbon dots
  • Within 45 minutes of treatment, we could see the change in emission from yellow to blue.
  • Since visible light cannot penetrate human tissue, the potential application of this technique may be during surgery to know tumour spread.

Therapeutic Use of this technique

  • The naphthalimide used here can function as a cancer therapeutic.
  • The nanosensor was found to reduce the viability of cancer cells up to 70%.
  • The naphthalimide that gets released when the disulfide bond is broken is responsible for the destruction of cancer cells.
  • Higher concentration of naphthalimide is used to kill 70% of cancer cells. Usually, much lower concentration of drug is used for therapeutic purposes.

Way Forward

  • Since naphthalimide is expensive, the researchers are trying to develop a cheaper substitute.
  • The new hybrid material would be tested on more cancer cell lines before testing it on animal models.
  • The focus is on using the assembly for diagnostics. If it offers therapeutic benefits then it will be an added advantage.

Note: Inspirational Quotes by APJ Abdul Kalam on his birthday anniversary 


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