Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic Resistance

This article deals with ‘Antibiotic Resistance.’ This is part of our series on ‘Governance’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

What is Antibiotic Resistance ?

Antibiotic resistance happens when microorganisms (such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites) evolve when they are exposed to antibiotic and develop resistance mechanisms to it or acquire that resistance from another bacterium

Examples of How Antibiotic Resistance Spreads


2010 It became a topic of debate in India when British journal Lancet  named an enzyme as NDM-1,which had  antimicrobial resistance 

(NDM-1 =  New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1 => resistant to beta-lactam antibiotics like Penicillin).  
2016 Colistin is the last resort antibiotics. Resistance to Colistin was detected in China .
September 2016 United Nations held a high level meeting to tackle antimicrobial resistance .  

Note – It was only the fourth time where general assembly has held a high-level meeting for a health issue (previously-it was for HIV, non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and diabetes and the Ebola).
 2017 US woman died from an infection that was resistant to all 26 available antibiotics .

Causes of Antibiotic Resistance & how it spreads ?

Major sources of resistance:

  • Overuse of antibiotics by human beings  (over prescription + self medication)
  • Overuse in the veterinary sector
  • Environmental antibiotic contamination due to pharmaceutical companies and hospital discharge. 
  • Lack of new antibiotics being developed
  • Patients not finishing treatment
  • Poor infection control in hospitals
Antibiotic Resistance

Ways to control

Various stakeholders have to perform different functions

Prescriber Prescriber should
1. Follow guidelines
2. Perform Antimicrobial susceptibility tests
3. Maintain hygiene, disinfection and sterilization in the hospital.
Farmer Farmers should
1. Follow guidelines.
2. Use only animal specific antibiotics
3. Maintain hygiene
Public Public should
1. Follow prescription and don’t self medicate himself
2. Public awareness and education should be carried out
Politician Politician should
1. Establish Antibiotic Resistance related laws
2. Make National Plans and Guidelines
3. Invigorate the antibiotic development of pharmaceutical companies  
Researcher Researcher should
1. Develop new generation of antibiotics
2. Develop Molecular Techniques for identifying resistance genes.

Initiatives taken by Government to control Antibiotic Resistance

1 . Red Line Campaign

  • Launched in 2016    
  • Medicines with Red Line are not to be consumed without doctor’s prescription

2. National Surveillance System for Anti-Microbial Resistance 

  • It will keep a close watch on such cases ..

3. National Action Plan on Anti Microbial Resistance

  • Started in April 2017  .

4. Amending Drugs and Cosmetic Rule, 1945

  • Schedule H1  added
  • Drugs in Schedule H1 are required to be sold in the country with the following conditions:-
    1. Their sale has to be registered in register with name of prescriber and patient 
    2. Drug  shall be labelled with the symbol Rx & drug warning.

International Level Steps to control Antibiotic Resistance

1 . By WHO

  1. WHO is providing technical assistance in helping countries to develop their national action plans, and strengthen their surveillance systems 
  2. One Health’ approach by WHO with World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)  – for optimal use of antibiotics in both humans and animals.

2. By United Nations

  • A high-level meeting on antimicrobial resistance was held at the United Nations General Assembly  

3. New Antibiotics

  • Many new antibiotics are being developed which are effective against all microbes.
  • Eg : In 2018 , ODLs (a new class of antibiotics) was discovered by University of Illinois and Nosopharm, company of France

DMH 11


DMH 11

This article deals with ‘DMH 11  – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’ which is important pillar of GS-3 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here


 Mustard DMH-11

Why in news?

Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee  has  cleared GM mustard for environmental release and use in farmers’ fields. However, the approval is contingent on a final nod from Environment Minister .


Specific case of Mustard

  • DMH-11 is a Genetically Modified (GM) mustard hybrid. Hybrids are normally obtained by crossing two genetically diverse plants from the same species . But  natural hybridisation isnt possible in mustard because its flowers contain both female (pistil) and male (stamen) reproductive organs. Hence GM is only way to make HYV in this case


  • India is importing 15 million tonnes of edible oils . Hence ,  there is need to raise domestic crop yields


Other justifications in allowing DMH-11

  • GM technology has already been commercialised in India through Bt cotton.  Since  Bt hybrids were first planted in 2002, there isn’t  any evidence to show that  Bt cotton is causing any adverse health effects.


  • Cotton seed oil from Bt Cotton is used and is perfectly safe.  Cotton-seed oil is the second largest produced edible oil in the country (1.4 million tonnes) after mustard (2 million tonnes).


  • Already importing GM Oil : Also India annually imports 3 million tonnes of soyabean oil which is predominantly GM.


  • The developer is a government-funded institution (Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants at Delhi University), as opposed to Bt cotton intellectual property of multinational, namely Monsanto.


Against Points

  • DMH-11 employs a gene that will compel farmers to use specific herbicides & pesticide and be dependent on one or two companies (Bayer)  having monopoly over pesticide


Designer Baby

Designer Baby

This article deals with ‘Designer Baby  – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’ which is important pillar of GS-3 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here


2019 :  Chinese scientist claimed that he helped make the world’s first “genetically-edited” babies in whom a gene linked to HIV was remove using CRISPR technique.

Designer Babies

  • Refers to a baby whose genetic makeup has been artificially selected by genetic engineering  to ensure the presence or absence of particular genes or characteristics.
  • What traits could be changed in a designer baby
    • Gender
    • Appearance
    • Intelligence
    • Disease resistance
    • Personality



  • Reduces risk of genetic diseases . Prevent next generation of family from getting characteristic diseases
  • Increases human life span up to 30 years.
  • Better chance the child will succeed in life
  • Better understanding of genetics



  • Could create a gap in society. “Designer” babies would most likely be better looking, smarter, etc.
  • Furthermore, the technology used is not 100% safe yet.
  • Possibility of damage to the gene pool
  • Only the rich can afford it


Side Topic : Euthenics

  • Euthenics is defined as  science of improving the  well-being of the human by improving the external factor of their environment


(Eugenics = Capitalist Ideology | Euthenics = Socialist Ideology => Genes nu badlan to changa vadia environment dedo taki lok develop ho jaan)


Issue of Surrogacy

Issue of Surrogacy and Surrogacy Law in India

This article deals with ‘Issue of Surrogacy and Surrogacy Law in India  – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’ which is important pillar of GS-3 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here



Surrogacy  and Issues

  • In surrogacy: Wife’s egg is fertilized with husband’s sperm through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and an embryo is created. This embryo is implanted in the womb of a “surrogate mother” who will carry it for nine months and deliver the baby.
  • Surrogacy in India was estimated to be a $ 2.3 billion industry, but surrogate mothers were paid tenth of what they get in  US.
  • India has emerged as reproductive tourist industry.




  • Exploitation of Surrogate Mothers
  • Medical problems wrt foetus (eg : Surrogate child is disabled or having any genetic disease) and parents refuse to accept child
  • Citizenship Issues in case of foreign couples
  • Homosexual couples and single parent going for surrogacy


Anti Surrogacy vs Pro Surrogacy Debate  (General)

  • Physical stress , risk and emotional trauma to surrogate mother on  abrupt separation from  baby carried in the womb for nine months .


  • It is inhumane to use a woman’s social and economic vulnerability to commercially exploit her womb 


  • Child face health concerns such as the need for the child to be breast-fed for at least six months


  • The use of surrogacy  cheapening the idea of having child to commodity 


  • Sex selection is the ‘dirty secret’ of commercial surrogacy. (foetus that is discarded usually being female).


  • Surrogate mother is asserting her independent agency to make choices to better her life


  • If Government  makes a law to ban surrogacy in India, then market will go underground and the surrogate mothers would be exploited  further. Surrogacy should not be banned, it should be regulated.


Need for Law

Post 2000
  • Surrogacy became an important medical industry in India with revenue of more than $ 2.3 Billion
  • Baby Manji Case (explained below)
  • Need was felt to have a comprehensive law on Assistive Reproductive Techniques (ART)
2014 Assisted Reproductive Techniques Bill was introduced (covering all aspects)
2016 Surrogacy Bill was introduced by NDA government banning commercial surrogacy and allowing just Altruistic Surrogacy .
Present Status 2019  : Passed




Earlier there wasn’t any law regarding Surrogacy. In absence of law many problems were coming

  • Medical problems wrt foetus (eg : Surrogate child is disabled or having any genetic disease) and parents refuse to accept child


  • 2008 Baby Manji Case –  Baby Manji was commissioned by Japanese parents (through an unknown egg donor and husband’s sperm) and was born to a surrogate mother in Gujarat. The parents divorced before the baby was born. The genetic father wanted the child’s custody, but Indian law barred single men from it, and Japanese law didn’t recognise surrogacy. The baby was ultimately granted a visa, but the case underscored the need for a regulatory framework for surrogacy in India.


  • Exploitation of women by commercialising their womb.


Provisions of the Surrogacy  Bill

  • It bans commercial surrogacy.
  • Foreigner nationals including NRIs can’t get Indian surrogate mothers. 
  • It legalises surrogacy for heterosexual  Indian couples with proven infertility
  • The length of your marriage matters. You have to be married for at least five years
  • You can’t pay a surrogate mother
  • You can only approach a close relative for surrogacy
  • If you have a child, you can’t try for another one via surrogacy. 
  • Surrogacy will be allowed only once. 
  • Surrogacy Regulatory Bodies: The government has proposed that it will establish a
        • National Surrogacy Board at the central level
        • State Surrogacy Boards in the states  

They will overlook all cases of surrogacy and regulate hospitals and clinics that offer this in India.


Against Points

  • Outright ban on surrogacy  will  push this industry underground  , increasing the vulnerability of women even more. This happened in Thailand


  • Bill  borrows heavily from UK’s altruistic surrogacy Bill, but has changed the British provision of allowing only blood relatives to “close relatives” . Close Relatives is a vague term open to legal challenges


  • Violates Right to Equality: Restricting surrogacy to married Indian couples and disqualifying others on the basis of nationality, marital status, sexual orientation or age, does not appear to qualify the test of equality .


  • Violate Article 21right to life includes the right to reproductive autonomy 


  • Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality. Unfortunately, the Bill, scarcely bears any imprint of the verdict & continues to speak the discriminatory language of Section 377.


  • Don’t cover all aspects of Assisted Reproductive Technniques : ART is complex subject . Surrogacy is only one part of it


  • The bill violates  UNDHR.  Articles  16 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, gives right to men and women of full age to found a family. 


Government and Biotechnology

Government and Biotechnology

This article deals with ‘Government and Biotechnology  – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’ which is important pillar of GS-3 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here



Government and Biotechnology

Department of Biotechnology

1982 Government set up the National Biotechnology Board
1986 Replaced by Department of Biotechnology under Ministry of Science and Technology




Present Status of Biotechnology Sector in India

  • Biotech Sector is one of the sunrise sectors in India
  • India is among the top 12 biotech destinations of the world
  • Indian Biotech Sector holds about 2% share of global biotech industry
  • Indian Biotech Industry is valued at $ 11 Billion
  • India has emerged as a leading destination for clinical trials , contract research and manufacturing activities
  • India has second highest number of USFDA approved plants after USA
  • Largest producer of Hepatitis B Vaccine





  • National Biotech Development Strategy  (2015-20)
        • Aim : Develop India into Manufacturing Hub
        • Main Focus Areas (4) : Food, Health, Clean Energy & Education (FCEH)
        • Target : By 2025 , make it 100 Billion $ industry
        • Convert technology and scientific studies to commercial products using Biotech Hubs , Startups & Incubation centres


  • National Biopharma Mission
        • World Bank assisted INNOVATE IN INDIA (i3) program under this mission aims to create an enabling ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship and indigenous manufacturing
        • R&D in healthcare
        • Holistic development of Biopharma sector concentrating not only on drugs but also on vaccine , molecules etc . Develop new vaccines, bio-therapeutics, diagnostics and medical devices
        • Promotion of bio-pharma manufacturing
        • Attract FDI
        • Deliver 6-10 new products in the next five years


  • North East is major focus in Bio-Pharma sector and there are special programs for North East
        • Phyto-Pharma Plant Mission
        • Brahmaputra Biodiversity and Biology Boat (B4) – Under this program, large boats will be set up in the river which will have a well-equipped laboratory along with cold storage facility to store samples


  • FDI
      • 100% allowed under automatic route for greenfield projects
      • 74% under automatic route for brownfield projects.


Challenges faced by Biotech Sector

  • Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill to create  a regulatory body for Biotech Sector is pending in the parliament since 2008.


  • The number and quality of jobs offered by this sector is presently lesser than the work force supply available.


  • There is lack of early stage funding for biotech industries.


  • India is fast losing to competition created by China and Korea due to regulatory and infrastructure challenges.


  • R&D activities are almost nil. Most of industry is involved in manufacture of outsourced products
  • R&D expenditure
        • India = 0.67% of GDP
        • Japan = 3% of GDP


  • Most of the development has happened in Bio Pharma sector (drugs & vaccines)  only (~60%) while other sub-sectors within Biotechnology have been neglected .


  • IPR protection issues => companies demand TRIPS+ protection & are worry about provisions like Compulsary provisioning

Biotechnology and it’s applications

Biotechnology and it’s applications

This article deals with ‘Biotechnology and it’s applications – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’ which is important pillar of GS-3 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here



What is Biotechnology

Biotechnology is the use of biological processes, organisms, or systems to manufacture products intended to improve the quality of human life.



Genetic engineering

  • Term was given in 1951 by Jack Williamson
  • Direct human manipulation of the organism’s genome
  • Involves introduction of the foreign DNA into the organism of  interest
  • Organism thus produced is known as GMO or Transgenic organism
1973 First was Genetically modified bacteria
1974 Genetically modified Mice
1982 Insulin producing Bacteria was commercialised
1994 Genetically modified food is sold since 1994



Type of GMOs

Transgenic Genetic material from the other species is added to the host
Cisgenic Genetic material from the same species or one that can be naturally bred with


Types of Biotechnology

Blue Marine & Aquatic  applications of the biotechnology
Green Applied to  agricultural processes. Eg. selection and domestication of plants via micropropagation
Red Applied to  medical processes
White Industrial biotechnology


Applications of biotechnology


Pharmacogenomics This technology helps in analysing how genetic makeup affects an individual’s response to drugs.


Regenerative Medicine/ Stem Cells Stem cell therapy: It is also known as regenerative medicine which promotes the reparative response of diseased, dysfunctional or injured tissue using stem cells or their derivatives. 
Making Pharma products
Bio pharmaceuticals
  • Produce large biological molecules such as proteins which target the underlying pathways of the disease
  • Deal with the targets inaccessible to the traditional medicines
Using genetically altered E. coli to produce synthetic insulin
  • Was previously extracted from pancreas of Abattoir Animals like cattle /pigs .
  • Now large quantity can be produced + pure + low cost


Genetic testing
  • Direct examination of the DNA molecule itself
  • Scan patient’s DNA for mutated sequences


Gene therapy May be used for treating or even curing genetic & acquired diseases like Cancer & AIDS by using normal genes to supplement or replace defective genes or bolster normal function like immunity


Indian examples Affordable vaccines for variety of diseases eg

      • Rotavac: for Rotavirus Diarrhea.
      • Elisa kit to detect Japanese encephalitis in humans .
      • Typbar-TCV: Typhoid vaccine by Bharat Biotech.


  • Increase crop yield


  • Reduced dependence on the fertilisers ,pesticides and other agrochemical
Bt gene Produces protein with insecticidal properties


  • Reduced vulnerability to the environmental stresses. Eg
Gene : At-DBF2
    • Extracted from plant Arabidopsis Thaliana
    • This gene when inserted to tobacco & tomato cells make them more resistant to stresses like salt, drought , cold etc
Samba Mahsuri
    • Hybrid Rice Variety
    • Blight Resistance + high in protien
Vivek 9
    • High protien maize which can be grown in hilly areas


  • Bio-fortified crops with higher quantity of vitamins and micronutrients to fight malnutrition eg Golden Rice.
        • Golden Rice contains beta carotene genes which help in synthesis of vitamin A


  • Improved taste, texture or appearance of the food
        • Can slow down the process of spoilage so that fruit can ripen longer on the plant & then transported to consumer with a still reasonable shelf life




Side Topic : Fortification of food vs Biofortification of food

  • Fortification of food is the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, i.e. vitamins and minerals (such as iron, iodine, zinc) in a food, so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food
  • Union and state governments (Rajasthan, MP, Haryana, WB and Himachal Pradesh) are promoting it to fight malnutrition
  • 2017: Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) released a set of standards and a logo (+F logo)  for all fortified packaged food


Note : Earliest example of Fortification is Salt iodization started in early 1920s in  Switzerland and USA & later in whole world

  • Biofortification is the process by which the nutritional quality of food crops is improved through agronomic practices, conventional plant breeding, or modern biotechnology (genetic engg).
  • It aims to increase nutrient levels in crops during plant growth rather than through manual means during processing of the crops.



Bioremediation and Biodegradation

  • It is a waste management technique
  • Eg : Oil Zappers convert oil in oil spills  to harmless CO2 & H2O


Animal husbandry

  • Cloning  allows for genetic replication of selected animals
  • Can be used to make improved breeds using recombinant DNA which  alters genetic makeup of animal


Industrial Applications 

  • To develop efficient techniques to reduce the environmental impact of industrial processes
  • Using Biocatalysts , same chemical can be produced more economically & more environment friendly



  • These are kind of fuels that are derived from living organisms such as plants and their byproducts, microbes or animal waste. Two most common bio-fuels are
        • Bio-ethanol produced by fermentation of sugars
        • Bio-diesel obtained from trans-esterification of oil obtained from plants like jatropha


Face Climate Change

  • Make crops that can withstand stress



Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence

This article deals with ‘Artificial Intelligence .’ This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’ which is important pillar of GS-3 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

What is Artificial Intelligence?

  • Artificial intelligence is the branch of computer science concerned with making computers behave like humans
  • It is concerned with
    • Learning from experience
    • Recognising images
    • SolveComplex Problems
    • Understand Human Language
    • Create perspectives
Artificial Intelligence

Side Topic : Machine Learning and Deep Learning

  • Machine Learning, a term coined by Artur Samuel in 1959, based on the idea that systems can learn from data, identify patterns and make decisions with minimal human intervention.
  • Deep Learning is a technique for implementing Machine Learning. It is inspired by the structure and function of the brain called artificial neural networks.


  • Driverless Cars 
  • Games playing:  AI intelligent games learn from their mistakes and are not monotonous.
  • Expert systems : programming computers to make decisions in real-life situations
  • Natural language : programming computers to understand natural human languages.  
  • Robotics : programming computers to see and hear and react to other sensory stimuli (this is what we want to achieve ultimately)

Some problems 

  • The problem of creating machines smarter than humans but lacking the ethical-moral impulses like  compassion 
  • Possibility of machines trying to dominate humans eg Terminator & I-Robot type of situation
  • Job Loss : Much of India’s advanced IT services industry might get replaced by AI
  • High levels of inequality : Society will have high levels of inequality because there will be jobs for high skilled persons only. Low skill jobs will be taken up by AI Machines
  • Ensuring data security, protection, privacy, and ethical use
  • Rigorous auditing to ensure non-contamination by human biases & prejudices

But new avenues too

  • Will create new jobs in high end technology
  • Many uses in Governance and public delivery
    • Security : Any terrorist on wanted list can be recognised by AI Computer by stream of videos coming from CCTVs
    • Analysis of Schemes and suggestions for better results 
  • Personal Assistants : Companies like Google, Amazon(Alexa) etc are coming with personal assistants . They work on AI. Hence, now everybody can have personal assistant for free
  • Better Logistics : Uber, Google Maps suggesting best way etc use AI for logistic management. 
  • Use for specially abled people

Indian Govt and AI

  • 2018: Defence ministry set up a task for on AI for national security under  N Chandrashekharan  of Tata Sons.
  • 2018-Budget  gave ₹100 crore to Department of Science & Technology for a Mission on cyber physical systems.
  • 2018 : NITI Ayog working on National Artificial Intelligence Mission (N-AIM).
  • 2019-Interim-Budget announced a National Programme & Centre & webportal on ‘Artificial Intelligence‘. 
  • Samarth Udyog Bharat 4.0 by Ministry of Heavy Industries to make manufacturing industry ready for Industry 4.0  by 2025.
  • NITI Aayog  paper highlights the potential for India to become an AI ‘garage’, or solutions provider of the world.

What India can learn from other countries?

  • US, the global leader in AI  has AI sector  driven by the private sector.
  • China has ambition of becoming world leader in AI by 2030. The top 9 universities of China have received government funding to establish AI schools.