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Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2021

Dec 20, 2021

Current Affair 1:
How are genomes sequenced?

 

How do scientists detect new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19? The answer is a process called DNA sequencing.

Researchers sequence DNA to determine the order of the four chemical building blocks, or nucleotides, that make it up: adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine. The millions to billions of these building blocks paired up together collectively make up a genome that contains all the genetic information an organism needs to survive.

One of the earliest methods scientists used in the 1970s and 1980s was Sanger sequencing, which involves cutting up DNA into short fragments and adding radioactive or fluorescent tags to identify each nucleotide. The fragments are then put through an electric sieve that sorts them by size. Compared with newer methods, Sanger sequencing is slow and can process only relatively short stretches of DNA. Despite these limitations, it provides highly accurate data, and some researchers are still actively using this method to sequence SARS-CoV-2 samples.

Since the late 1990s, next-generation sequencing has revolutionized how researchers collect data on and understand genomes. Known as NGS, these technologies are able to process much higher volumes of DNA at the same time, significantly reducing the amount of time it takes to sequence a genome.

There are two main types of NGS platforms: second-generation and third-generation sequencers.

  1. Second-generation technologies are able to read DNA directly. After DNA is cut up into fragments, short stretches of genetic material called adapters are added to give each nucleotide a different color. For example, adenine is colored blue and cytosine is colored red. Finally, these DNA fragments are fed into a computer and reassembled into the entire genomic sequence.
  2. Third-generation technologies directly sequence DNA by passing the entire DNA molecule through an electrical pore in the sequencer. Because each pair of nucleotides disrupts the electrical current in a particular way, the sequencer can read these changes and upload them directly to a computer. This allows clinicians to sequence samples at point-of-care clinical and treatment facilities. However, Nanopore sequences smaller volumes of DNA compared with other NGS platforms.

Link: https://youtu.be/2JUu1WqidC4

Current Affair 2:
Steel Industry in India

 

Since the Industrial Revolution in 18th Century, steel has been an important ingredient for economic growth. Steel has uses in various sectors viz. infrastructure, automobile, manufacturing, construction, etc. and, thus, is an important factor driving India’s GDP growth.

In FY2020-21, India is the second largest producer and consumer of crude and finished steel. In 2021, India produced 96.9 million tonnes (MT) of crude steel, up 20.6% year-on-year.

The contribution of steel to India's economy is around 2%. The growth in steel sector is expected to improve the economic growth rate of India.

Measures to Boost Economic Growth

In recent years, the Government has passed reforms for the growth of the steel industry in India. Some of the reforms are as follows:

FDI: The Government has allowed 100% FDI through automatic route for the steel sector in India.

National Steel Policy (NSP), 2017:

  1. NSP 2017 aims to create a well-developed and highly competent steel industry to boost economic growth through measures such as meeting steel demand domestically through availability of raw materials and capacity additions and in a cost-effective manner.
  2. The Policy also aims, among others, to increase the per capita steel consumption from 74.1 kgs (2018-19) to 160 kgs by 2030-31 and to grow the steel-making capacity from 142 MT per annum (MTPA) (2018-19) to 300 MTPA in 2030-31.

Steel Scrap Recycling Policy (SSRP), 2019: The Government notified the SSRP to provide for guidelines for metal scrapping centres in India. The framework provides guidelines on scrap segregation, collection, processing, etc. in a scientific manner. This is to recycle and reuse scrap to produce high quality steel. This will ensure more steel production and, thus, reduce dependency on imports.

Domestically Manufactured Iron and Steel products (DMI&SP) Policy: This policy mandates providing preference to DMI&SP with a minimum of 15%-50% value addition in Government procurement. The policy is applicable to iron & steel products supply having aggregated estimate value of Rs. 25 crores (US$ 3.3 million) or more and not applicable to products not manufactured in the country or in the required quantities. This policy is also helping with import substitution of steel.

Production Linked Incentive (PLI) for Specialty Steel: In October 2021, the Government approved the PLI Scheme for Specialty Steel Sector for a 5-year period. Today, specialty steel accounts for about 18% of steel produced in India and can meet only 85% of domestic demand. The balance is met through imports. This Scheme aims to reduce dependence on imports in meeting the domestic demand.

Steel and Steel Products (Quality Control) Order: This policy was enacted to maintain quality control and ensure quality steel products to consumers through the adoption of Quality Control Orders (QCOs) which made BIS Standards mandatory. It also aimed at strengthening

Current Affair 3:
Lok Sabha Passes Election Laws Amendment Bill to Link Voter ID With Aadhaar

 

The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Election Laws(Amendment) Bill 2021 to link voter identity cards with Aadhaar.

The Bill was passed in a voice vote. The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 seeks Aadhaar number of people who want to register as voters "for the purpose of establishing the identity".

It also seeks to allow the electoral registration officers to ask for Aadhaar numbers from "persons already included in the electoral roll for the purposes of authentication of entries in the electoral roll, and to identify registration of the name of the same person in the electoral roll of more than one constituency or more than once in the same constituency".

At the same time, the amendment bill makes it clear that "no application for inclusion of name in the electoral roll shall be denied and no entries in the electoral roll shall be deleted for the inability of an individual to furnish or intimate Aadhaar number due to such sufficient cause as may be prescribed". The Bill seeks to amend certain sections of the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and 1951.

The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill states that Section 23 of the RP Act, 1950 will be amended to allow linking of electoral roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem "to curb the menace of multiple enrolments of the same person in different places".

Amendment to section 14 of the RP Act, 1950 will allow having four "qualifying" dates for eligible people to register as voters.

As of now, January 1 of every year is the sole qualifying date. People who turn 18 on or before January 1 can register as voters.

Those turning 18 after that have to wait for one whole year to register as voters. Now, "the 1st day of January, 1st day of April, 1st day of July, and 1st day of October in a calendar year" will be the qualifying dates in relation to the preparation or revision of electoral rolls.

Amendment to section 20 of the RP Act, 1950 and section 60 of the RP Act, 1951 will allow the elections to become gender-neutral for service voters.

The amendment will also help replace the word "wife" with the word "spouse" making the statutes "gender-neutral".

 

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