1. PROXY VOTING TO NRI’S
- The Government has approved changes in electoral laws to permit Non-Resident Indians to cast their vote in assembly and Lok Sabha elections from overseas.
- If the proposal is passed in Parliament, NRIs will be able to exercise their voting rights through “proxy”
- Currently, only service personnel are permitted to vote through proxy
HOW THE PROPOSED PROXY VOTING FACILITY FOR NRI’S DIFFERENT FROM THAT FOR SERVICE PERSONNEL ?
- The facility for NRIs will not be the same as that enjoyed by service personnel.
- Service personnel can nominate their relatives as permanent proxy to vote on their behalf whereas, overseas electors will have to appoint a nominee afresh for each election and one person can act as proxy for only one overseas voter.
NEED FOR INTRODUCTION OF PROXY VOTING FOR NRI’S
- There are about 1 crore Indians settled abroad, of which 60 lakh could be of eligible voting age.
- Currently, voters residing abroad can only cast their votes in their respective constituencies.
- This regulation is seen as restrictive as only a few thousand Indians living overseas have registered as voters, the maximum being from Kerala. Of these, barely anyone has travelled to the country to exercise his or her franchise.
2. “VENUS” – ISRAEL’S FIRST ENVIRONMENTAL SATELLITE
- Israel has launched the country’s first environmental research satellite Venus satellite (Vegetation and Environment Monitoring New Micro-Satellite).
- It is a joint venture between the Israel Space Agency (ISA) and its French counterpart CNES.
- It is an earth-observation micro-satellite.
- The satellite’s goal is to obtain high-resolution photographs of specific sites to track environmental issues such as desertification, erosion, pollution, natural disasters, and other phenomena linked to climate change.
- The technological mission of the satellite will test the operation of an innovative electric propulsion system based on the Israeli-designed Hall Effect Thrusters. A Hall-effect thruster (HET) is a relatively low power device used to propel a spacecraft after entering orbit or farther out into space.
- The satellite will be able to take repeated photos of the same spot in the same light conditions (accounting for the position of the sun), allowing for more accurate tracking of changing environmental issues. This is called “heliosyncronis orbit” because it requires taking a photo of the same coordinates while the sun is in the same position.
3. T K VISWANATHAN COMMITTEE
- SEBI has set up a committee on ‘fair market conduct’ headed by former law secretary T K Viswanathan.
- The committee will suggest measures for improvement in PFTUP (Prohibition of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices) regulations, PIT (Prohibition of Insider Trading) norms and norms mainly related to ‘trading plans’ and handling of ‘unpublished price sensitive information’ during takeovers.
- It will suggest short term and medium term measures for improved surveillance of the markets as well as issues of high frequency trades, harnessing of technology and analytics in surveillance.
- It will suggest evidentiary issues in anti-fraud enforcement.
4. DISEASED GENE EDITED IN HUMAN EMBRYO
- Scientists in the United States have repaired a disease-causing mutation in the DNA of early-stage human embryos.
- This is an important step to get babies free of inherited disorders.
- The team successfully used the CRISPR “gene editing” tool in viable embryos.
WHAT IS CRISPR ?
- “CRISPR” (pronounced “crisper”) stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, which are the hallmark of a bacterial defense system which forms the basis for the popular CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology.
- In the field of genome engineering, the term “CRISPR” is often used loosely to refer to the entire CRISPR-Cas9 system, which can be programmed to target specific stretches of genetic code and to edit DNA at precise locations.
- These tools allow researchers to permanently modify genes in living cells and organisms and, in the future, may make it possible to correct mutations at precise locations in the human genome to treat genetic causes of disease.
WHERE DO CRISPR’s COME FROM ?
- CRISPRs were first discovered in archaea (and later in bacteria), by Francisco Mojica.
- He proposed that CRISPRs serve as part of the bacterial immune system, defending against invading viruses.
- They consist of repeating sequences of genetic code, interrupted by “spacer” sequences – remnants of genetic code from past invaders.
- The system serves as a genetic memory that helps the cell detect and destroy invaders (called “bacteriophage”) when they return.
HOW DOES THE SYSTEM WORK ?
- CRISPR “spacer” sequences are transcribed into short RNA sequences (“CRISPR RNAs” or “crRNA”) capable of guiding the system to matching sequences of DNA.
- When the target DNA is found, Cas9 – one of the enzymes produced by the CRISPR system – binds to the DNA and cuts it, shutting the targeted gene off.
- Using modified versions of Cas9, researchers can activate gene expression instead of cutting the DNA.
- These techniques allow researchers to study the gene’s function.