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Here are the topics covered for 18th December 2023:
GS-2: Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat
GS-3: CRISPR Technology, Coal Demand, Cyberthreats
Facts for Prelims: E-cigarettes
Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat
- In a recent visit to Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized the enduring emotional and creative connection between Kashi and Tamil Nadu, highlighting that the Kashi Tamil Sangamam is reinforcing the concept of \’Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat.
About Kashi-Tamil Sangamam
- The second edition of Kashi Tamil Sangamam (KTS) is scheduled from December 17 to 30, 2023, as part of the government\’s \’Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat Yuva Sangam programme.\’
- This people-to-people initiative seeks to strengthen cultural bonds and understanding of shared heritage between these two regions to revive connections between Kashi and Tamil Nadu.
- The event is expected to host 1,400 Tamil Nadu and Puducherry dignitaries, following the successful inaugural edition held from November 16 to December 16, 2022.
About Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat
- Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat (EBSB) is a government initiative launched on October 31, 2015, to promote national integration and cultural exchange among different states and union territories of India.
- The program aims to nurture and protect the unique unity in variety that defines India\’s composite national identity.
- It was launched on the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, emphasizing the shared past and spirit of understanding that underlie the nation\’s unity and diversity.
- To counter cyberattacks, the Centre has established a secure email network for 10,000 users in critical Ministries and departments. The email system operates on Zero Trust Authentication (ZTA) and was developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC).
About Zero Trust Authentication
- Zero Trust security is an IT security model that mandates stringent identity verification for every individual and device attempting to access resources on a private network, irrespective of their location within or outside the network perimeter.
- Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is the primary technology associated with the Zero Trust architecture, representing a comprehensive approach to network security that integrates various principles and technologies.
- In essence, traditional IT network security relies on trusting anyone and anything within the network. In contrast, a zero-trust architecture operates on the principle of trusting no one and nothing.
- Conventional IT network security follows the castle-and-moat concept, making it challenging for external entities to gain access. However, everyone inside the network is inherently trusted.
- The flaw in this approach is that once an attacker infiltrates the network, they have unrestricted access to all internal resources.
- Regulatory agencies\’ recent approval of two CRISPR-based therapies for sickle-cell disease and thalassemia in the U.K. and the U.S. has generated significant excitement in the medical field.
- This groundbreaking approval marks the onset of an era that holds the potential to revolutionize the lives of millions of patients and families dealing with these hereditary blood disorders.
Discovery of CRISPR Technology
- Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) were initially discovered in archaea by Spanish researchers in 1993 and later identified and described in various bacterial genomes.
- These elements consist of genetic material fragments derived from viruses, such as bacteriophages and a set of proteins known as CRISPR-associated (Cas).
- In 2005, researchers initially attempted to explain the elements\’ impact on antiviral immunity and later discovered that CRISPR + Cas proteins could detect and prevent viral infections.
- This established an antiviral defense system, aiding bacteria in acquiring resistance to viral threats.
- In 2010, scientists demonstrated that CRISPR, combined with specific proteins like Cas9, could cut double-stranded DNA at specific points.
- They identified RNA molecules guiding Cas9 proteins to precise positions on a genome.
- In 2012, researchers devised a method to create synthetic RNA binding to Cas9, guiding it to a specific point on DNA for editing.
- Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, made pioneering contributions.
- Virginijus Siksnys and others also published similar work.
- The CRISPR-Cas9 system became a programmable \”molecular scissor\” with unprecedented accuracy, opening avenues for genetic therapies and agricultural advancements.
- The 2020 Nobel Prize marked the era of not just reading but also editing human genomes, shaping the future of medicine and genetic engineering.
- Despite achieving record coal production this year, global demand is projected to decline by 2026, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Highlights of the Report
- The anticipated decline in global coal demand by 2026 is attributed to the shift toward renewable energy and stabilized demand in China, while India is expected to be a key driver for coal until that year.
- The International Energy Agency (IEA) report, released on December 15, forecasts a global coal demand increase of 1.4% in 2023, exceeding 8.5 billion tonnes for the first time.
- Regional variations include a 20% decline in demand in the European Union and the United States, while India and China are expected to experience an 8% and 5% increase, respectively, in 2023 due to electricity demand.
- The IEA also considers climate factors, with El Nino conditions likely shifting to La Nina between 2024 and 2026, potentially improving hydroelectric power output.
- Additionally, the growing deployment of low-cost solar photovoltaics is expected to contribute to renewable power generation.
- The International Energy Agency (IEA) report indicates that nuclear generation, particularly in China, India, and the European Union, is expected to experience moderate increases.
- Concurrently, coal-fired generation is anticipated to enter a downward trajectory from 2024.
- China, which currently accounts for slightly over half of global coal demand, is projected to witness a decline in demand starting in 2024, reaching a plateau in 2026.
- This shift is foreseen to contribute to a 2.3% reduction in global coal demand by the year 2026.
Facts for Prelims
- E-cigarettes, also known as vape pens, contain nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerin, and flavorings.
- They are addictive and harmful, linked to cancer and increased risks of heart and lung disorders.
- Aerosols may contain metals and chemicals. Rates of use among 13–15-year-olds are higher than in adults, and nicotine is a sedative and stimulant.
- The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarette Act (PECA) 2019 in India bans their production, sale, and distribution.