This article deals with ‘ Introduction to Social and Religious Reforms – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Modern History’ which is important pillar of GS-1 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here
Main reason why Britain emerged as powerful nation was it accepted modern civilization first among all nations . But in India , intentionally they followed the policy to stall the change in society . Changes did occur & Indian society did tried to change but not due to British policies but due to efforts by some progressive Indians
These efforts happened first in Bengal because it came under British control first . First lot of Indians who studied in Western English knowledge also created in Bengal at end of 18th Century. New intellectual stirrings created reformed mentality . They didn’t reject Indian tradition but sought to change certain unreasonable aspects of Hindu society which didn’t conform to their rationalist ideas. Later British officials also joined the race & this provided legitimacy to the reform agenda of the Utilitarian reformers like Bentinck
But problem was , this mentality was confined to a small circle of English Educated elite. Series of reforms followed but they remained on paper . Problem was they never attempted to develop modern social consciousness from below . Should have followed bottom up approach not top down approach . Reform from above remained ineffective .
Untouchability as an issue of social reform had to wait until the beginning of the twentieth century and the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi in Indian public life after World War One .
Lacking in a broad social base, the reformers of the early nineteenth century thus exhibited an intrinsic faith in the benevolent nature of colonial rule and relied more on legislation for imposing reform from above. There was very little or no attempt to create a reformist social consciousness at the grass-roots level, where religious revivalism later found a fertile ground.
The reform movement broadly fell under two categories
Eg Brahmo Samaj, Prarthana Samaj & Aligarh Movement
Relied on reason & conscience. Wanted to purge outdated elements from the religion which didn’t pass on the scale of reason .
Eg Arya Samaj, Ramakrishna Mission & Deoband Movement
Relied upon traditions & wanted to go back to their self made golden past
Side Topic :Why Britishers tried to reform Indian Society in 19th Century
There were various reasons for this
Several ideological influences in Britain, such as Evangelicalism, Utilitarianism and free trade thinking.
For renewal of Charter of company
Pro socio religious thrust in contemporary England => Progressive Whig Party came into power
Role of christian missionaries
But the Company’s government was still tentative about interfering for fear of adverse Indian reaction unless a section of the Indian society was prepared to support reform. Such a group was soon to emerge through the introduction of English education
Status of Woman & Responses by Indian Society
Status of woman became main focus of the reforming activities of colonial state as well as educated Indians
At that time, way in which civilisations were ranked , position of woman was one of important criteria & here Indians were increasingly under attack by western observers from missionaries to civilians . Indian civilisation was despised because it assigned such a low status to women
Hence, Indian Intelligentsia responded to this civilisation critique by advocating & supporting reforms to improve status of woman in Indian society
But such reforms remained very restricted to only few women belonging to high class because women remained recipient of male patronage & never became involved in these reformist projects as conscious subjects of their own history .
Upper Class Women vs Peasant Women
Peasant woman were better compared to Upper caste woman during that time
They didn’t practice Purdah System , Right to Remarry was there & Sati was also not that widespread among Peasant class unlike Higher caste
This article deals with ‘Indian Diaspora and Issues – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘International Relations’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here
What is meant by Diaspora?
Indian Diaspora is a generic
term to describe the people who
migrated from territories
that are currently within the borders of the Republic of India.
It also refers to their
Diaspora is currently
estimated to number over 26 million, composed of “NRIs”
(Indian citizens not residing in India) and “PIOs” (Persons of
Indian Origin who have acquired the citizenship of some other country).
India has the second largest (first being China) Diaspora in the world.
The overseas Indian community estimated at over 26 million is spread across every major region in the world. The major concentration of Indian diaspora is in Middle East (11 Million) , U.S.A, U.K, Canada, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and South Africa respectively.
Trends of Indian Diaspora
Overseas Indian community is
the result of different waves of migration over hundreds of years driven
by a variety of reasons-mercantilism, colonialism and globalization.
British times => Indentured
Labour to Fiji, Kenya, West Indies, Mauritius etc
In the last three decades of the 20th century the character of migration began to change and a ‘new Diaspora’ led by
High skilled professionals moving to the western world
Semi-skilled contract workers moving to the Gulf, West and
South East Asia emerged.
View of Various leaders towards Diaspora
Although we want to
maintain close relationship with Indian Diaspora but Diaspora should
re-affirm their commitment to Country they are settled in and integrate
themselves in that country
Since 2002 (since formation
of Singhavi Committee) , Indian government has started to view Diaspora as
their important asset which can help in foreign policy and safeguarding
Indian interests abroad.
Earlier Government viewed Diaspora as burdensome & refused to
help them in various crisis
1964 Myanmar crisis when 3
lakh India businessmen expelled & their businesses nationalised
1972 : When 70,000 Indians
faced persecution in Uganda by Idi
Role of Indian Diaspora in development of country they are settled in
They have also contributed to
the growth and development of the country of their residence. For example,
Silicon Valley represents the success of Indians. 4 out of 10 startups in the region are Indian.
Becoming important part of
Government and political establishments and helping in nation
Canadian Government has 4
Ministers (including Defence Minister of Indian Origin)
More than dozen MPs in UK are
of Indian origin
US representative to UN
(Nikki Halley (Randhawa)) is of Indian Origin
Portugual PM Dr Coasta is of
Indian (Goa) origin (he was Chief Guest at 2017 Pravasi Bhartiya Divas
held in Bangaluru)
Leo Varadkar – Former Ireland
How they help India
They help Home Country ie India in various ways. Instances are
It is the source of large inflows of remittances, which has been helping
balance the current account. According to the World Bank Indian diaspora sends
highest amount of remittances back home (followed by China)
During Indo-US Nuclear Deal,
US Indians played part in lobbying for
Many Indians invest in
philanthropic activities back in India especially in
Mauritian President is generally of Indian Origin
and always act as important ally in Indian Ocean. China has not been able
to make deep inroads in Mauritius .
They are investing in Indian .
States to which they belong try to woo them . Eg : Punjab organises
Progressive Punjab Summit and Punjabi NRIs are given special invitation
for doing investments
Help to re-develop after disasters . Eg :
Kerala Diaspora helped Kerala during 2018 floods
UAE government proposed to
give ₹700 crore to Kerala recognising the contribution of Keralites in
building UAE & their importance in country and economy
Remittances send by Indians
Remittances : World Bank Ranking
72 (billion $)
Dual Citizenship: Majority of Indian diaspora want to retain
their Indian citizenship along with the citizenship of the country of
Customs and Immigration Official Issues : The commonest
grievance of the Diaspora is the ill
treatment, harassment and the demands for illegal gratification it encounters at the hands of
our customs and immigration officials at the points of entry.
Threat to their employment (Nitaqat Law): It is aims to replacing a
large section of overseas workers with locals in Saudi Arabia. Because of
this, overseas workers from Kerala, TN etc. affected.
Threat to their security by IS: In view of the recent cases
of violence in the Middle East, there has emerged a new threat the very
security of oversees workers in the region. For example, the recent
kidnapping of Indian workers by IS group.
Evacuation from War Zones :
Side Topic : Evacuation of Indians
Various Evacuations done by
Government till now
From South Sudan (Civil War
going on in South Sudan)
(Civil War between Government and Houthi Rebels )
(Civil War after Arab Spring)
Kuwait (Airlift movie made on this)
Do we need
Evacuation Policy / Doctrine
India has conducted more than 30 evacuation operations across Africa, Asia, and
Europe, including its largest-ever civilian airlift of 110,000 people from
the Persian Gulf in 1990. However , India does not have a comprehensive evacuation policy to evacuate Indian stranded
in conflict zone.
Why We need
US, UK, and the NATO have institutionalised
Non-Combatant Evacuation operations (NEO) doctrine. Among the developing
countries, Brazil too has institutionalised a
standard operating procedure (SOP).
India has more than 25 million
strong Diaspora and in that 11 million Indians are in West Asia which is becoming unstable
with growth of ISIS
Fast Reaction : Whenever such situation arives, Government and
Officials can take steps at earliest to save Life of Indians.
Will establish clear chain of command and in case of failure
, responsibility can be properly expressed
How to make and
what it can include
Take lessons from India’s
previous Evacuation Operations
and best practices along
with Evacuation Plans of US, UK, NATO etc
India’s diplomatic cadre must be given specific
operate in hostile environments.
Assign a greater role to its
armed forces, in particular by strengthening the Navy and Air Force’s
capacity to operate in tandem with civilian authorities.
Government must establish a permanent civil reserve air fleet that pools aircraft from all
Indian airlines based on pre-established requisition and reimbursement
Invest in new technologies to
better monitor the diaspora’s
profile and mobility
India setup Dr LM Singhavi Committee (High Level Committee on Indian Diaspora) in 2002 which gave various recommendations. (Almost all steps taken by the Government are based on this report like starting Pravasi Bhartiya Divas , giving more importance to Diaspora etc
For giving special focus to the issues pertaining to the Indian diaspora, the government set up a dedicated Ministry of oversees Indian affairs in 2004. It provides all round services to the diaspora. (Again merged with External Ministry. Retrograde step)
Government has started, since
2003, the organization of Pravasi
to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community to the
development of India.
The government has launched various social
security schemes for Indian
Pravasi Bhartiya Bima Yojana, 2006
Skilling for Foreign Jobs
Swarnapravas Yojana : focuses
on skill development of Indians
who want to go abroad in select sectors
that face skill shortages in the international labor market, and
increase their employability
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana : PKVY has exclusive
program to train Indians seeking jobs abroad which train them in suitable
Various online platforms for
MADAD App : To help NRIs in distress relating to work permit,
visa , employer issue
E-Migrate Portal : Recruiting Agents have to register here
Schemes to know about
India and their roots
Know India Programme was launched as a three-week
Orientation programme for diaspora youth (aged 18 to 30) conducted with a
view to promote awareness on different facets of life in India and the progress made by the
country in various fields (latest such program conducted in Dec 2017) .
Ministry of Overseas Indian
Affairs is running a scheme known as “Tracing the Roots” to facilitate PIOs in tracing their roots in India.
Oversees Citizenship of India Scheme (OCI): The Scheme provides for
benefits comparable to citizens in certain fields, like in economic and
education fields etc. PIO Card was merged with OCI Scheme as well
State level initiatives :
States like Punjab with huge diaspora have started NRI police stations and
NRI Sabha to deal with cases and issues of NRIs.
What more can be done
To ensure that Diaspora
members feel welcomed on their arrival in India and also recall warmly
their visits, a friendlier reception
at their point of entry; easier procedures for immigration and customs
are marked by courteous service are essential
To address the problems of our overseas blue-collar workers, following should be
implemented at the earliest possible.
Establishing a welfare fund for repatriated overseas
Monitoring and supervision of
both the employment contracts, and conditions of our overseas workers by
Launching compulsory insurance schemes covering the
risks faced by our overseas workers;
Diaspora can make a
significant contribution to the growth of tourism in India. PIOs make
frequent visits to their home state or
their relatives. There should be greater focus on promoting tourism
among 2nd generation PIOs.
Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Indian
Diaspora could be
constituted.This Committee could
also act as a focal point for interaction with Parliamentarians of Indian
Origin in other countries. Such exchanges are essential in order to bring about
greater understanding and amity between them.
Giving Voting Rights to Indians living abroad . Procedure
through which it can be done like e-ballot or on Indian Consular office
etc can be debated
This article deals with ‘BT Cotton – 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 BT (Bacillus Thuringeinsis) ?
BT is gram positive soil dwelling bacterium
Commonly used as natural pesticide
Bt refers to Bacillus Thuringienesis Soil Bacterium from which the genes are introduced in to the native cotton and brinjal varieties. BT gene produce a protein in the cotton crop that is toxic to the boll worms and stem borers (pests)
This can be introduced in any crop like Cotton (Bt Cotton) , Brinjal (Bt Brinjal) etc.
Government gave approval to grow Bt Cotton in 2002 & as a
witnessed an astounding revolution in the cotton sector, not seen for
Cotton production saw 178% increase
India emerged as largest
global players in cotton. India is presently largest producer of cotton
Issue is, increasing farmer suicides in Karnataka, MP and Vidharbha region. Farmers are using expensive GM seeds in drought prone region
There are other problems too –
High input cost of seeds,
Genetic erosion of local varieties,
farmer’s dependence on private seed
companies whose sole aim is profit maximisation.
Cotton plantations in various parts of the country have been hit due to
infestation of Pink
Bollworm (PBW). Reason :
of crop rotation
growing 20-30% normal cotton along with BT Cotton
This article deals with ‘DNA Fingerprinting – 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 DNA Fingerprinting ?
Also called DNA typing, DNA profiling, genetic fingerprinting, genotyping, or identity testing
DNA profiling, or DNA fingerprinting, is a forensic method used to identify a person using unique signature found in her DNA.
In this, DNA samples are matched to prove the identity of person. The most commonly used technique is Short Tandem Repeat Technique but we needn’t go into detail of how it is done . Just knowing the name of technique is more than enough for us.
Identify criminals & convicts in cases of murder and rape
Powerful tool for settling paternity disputes and identifying dead persons
Used for detecting genetic disorder , pedigree analysis and identifying genetic stock
Pioneering work was done by Lalji Singh at Centre for Cell and Molecular Biology (CCMB) , Hyderabad
Other centres are :
Centre for DNA Fingerprinting & Diagnostics (CDFD) Hyderabad
Central Forensic Science Laboratory , Kolkata
DNA Based Technologies(Use & Regulation) Act, 2018
There are large number of
Unclaimed dead bodies
DNA fingerprinting can help & government is trying to come up with Bill
There are other uses too
Maternity & paternity issues to know about real parents
Rape case convict can be found using DNA
Evidence of presence of person on scene of crime
DNA is accepted as evidence under Evidence Act. Hence, can help in increasing conviction rate
Issues with DNA fingerprinting
Lack of regulation
Lack of DNA Labs and Experts
Unscientific forensic data collection technique by police
Use of DNA Data: DNA testing is allowed only in respect of matters listed in the schedule to the Bill (such as, paternity suits).
Permission for use of DNA Data: While preparing a DNA profile,
Authorities are required to obtain consent for collection if offence carries a punishment of up to 7 years.
If the offence carries more than seven years of imprisonment or death, consent is not required.
Two new bodies will be created (PB & DB)
DNA Regulatory Board
To supervise DNA Data Banks and DNA Laboratories.
DNA Data Bank
(National & State)
Data Banks will store DNA profiles received from DNA laboratories
Protection of information:
Board is required to ensure that all information relating to DNA profiles with the Data Banks, laboratories and other persons are kept confidential
DNA data can only be used for identification of the person (and not for extracting any other information (like Health Vulnerabilities to be used by Insurance companies))
Option for deletion of data – There is also provision for defined instances for deletion of profiles and destruction of DNA profiles (like if chargesheeted person whose DNA samples have been stored in DNA Data Bank has been aquitted by Court)
Penalties: Any violation would attract imprisonment up to three years and a fine up to 1 lakhs.
In absence of any Data Protection Act, DNA information stored in Data Bank can be vulnerable
Critics say that DNA Matching tech is not entirely foolproof . There are chances ,even if very low of erronous results
Problems of cross-contaminating samples, mislabelling samples, misrepresenting test results and intentionally planting DNA
In India, instead of forensic investigators and scientists, an untrained constable goes to crime scene first, who does not know how to scientifically collect evidences and in the process destroys vital DNA evidence
Lack of DNA examiners
according to international practice one DNA examiner can take 100 cases per year . As of now there are 40,000 unclaimed dead bodies each year & 400 examiners required but. India has total of 35-40 examiners .
No improvement in conviction rates
Over last 25 years; most countries have adopted a DNA fingerprinting law and have developed databases for use primarily in criminal investigation, disaster identification and forensic science. However, DNA tests have not led to an improvement in conviction rates in countries where it is already being followed.
Is already happening , Better to do it in regulated way
Experts say that apprehensions of data misuse & privacy are more in case of absence of regulation
Very limited information is proposed to be stored (just 13 sets of numbers out of billions ) . This can tell nothing about individual except to act as unique identifier
Moreover , DNA will be collected from very limited persons those in conflict with law
We need to move from eyewitness evidences to forensic evidence of which DNA is integral part
– To treat blood cancer (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) – Yescarta is Gene Therapy to treat it. – Developed by Novartis
Side Note : It is given designation of Orphan Drug . Orphan Drug is medicine that is intended to treat diseases so rare that sponsors are reluctant to develop them under usual marketing conditions.
Same as Gene Editing
Side effects of virus
Inclusivity issues since they
Playing with god (science vs
Issues in case of Multi gene
disorders and effect of the environment
Short lived nature of gene therapy : Patients will have to undergo multiple rounds of gene therapy.
Immune response : Anytime a foreign object is introduced into
human tissues, the immune system has evolved to attack the invader.
Grey areas in treatment : The treatment of human
diseases through gene therapy for solely medical purpose is argued to be
correct, however enhancement of human reproductive cells or
altering/improving a normal person by gene manipulation are controversial
areas as it may turn mankind into commodity.
Equal Access to treatment – The gene therapy at present
has high cost
This article deals with ‘Gene Editing – 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
Genome editing is an approach in which the genome sequence is directly changed by adding, replacing, or removing DNA bases .
Genome is relatively resistant
to change. To deter any changes from being inadvertently made to DNA,
cells have inherent mechanisms to proofread and repair their genetic code.
Remarkably, researchers have been able to take
advantage of the cell’s DNA repair mechanisms to achieve genome editing.
To accomplish this, scientists can use
Artificially engineered enzymes called nucleases act as molecular scissors and are used to crack open DNA strands.
Once break is introduced in DNA, cell will detect the problem & quickly activate repair machinery.
DNA sequence designed to be inserted is also send along with a nuclease, such that when a cut is made in the DNA, the cell’s own repair mechanism can use the DNA sequence supplied to replace an existing DNA sequence .
This method allows scientists to directly change genetic makeup of cells
Uses in Humans
Somatic Cell Gene Therapy – Gene Therapy in normal cells Person will be treated for particular disease
Germ Cell Gene Therapy – Gene Therapy in Germline Cells For next generation – Next generation will not be affected by genetic disorder
of a gene to try to ‘enhance’ a known characteristic; for example, the
placing of an additional growth hormone gene into a normal child
to alter or ‘improve’ complex human traits, each of which is coded by a large
number of genes; for example, personality, intelligence, character, formation
of body organs, and so on.
Similarly, Gene Editing can be done in Plants and Animals to alter their
genetic makeup and giving them desired characteristics and make Genetically
Modified Crops and Animals
Gene delivery tools
Genes are inserted into body using vectors which are usually viruses
Viruses can produce other problems like – Toxicity – Immune response – Inflammatory response – Gene control and targeting issues
process is quite expensive and hence not inclusive
Playing with god
impossible to obtain informed consent for germline therapy because the
patients affected by the edits are the embryo and future generations.
Limited knowledge of the functions of the genes
know functions of limited genes and
worst is in some cases scientists don’t know
whether particular gene is performing more than one function
Might lead to
designer babies & commodification of children
There are currently four families of engineered nucleases
(Molecular Scissor) being used:
Zinc finger nucleases
Transcription Activator like Effector based Nucleases (TALENs)
CRISPR- Cas System (Most advanced & important)
CRISPR/Cas9 system of Germline Editing
CRISPR Cas 9 is the revolutionary technique for Gene Editing with
very high efficacy
CRISPR : It is mechanism
which Bacteria uses to protect itself from viruses . In this system, DNA is
plucked out of Virus and inserted in little bits into chromosome of
bacterium. In this way, Bacteria records over time the viruses it has
been exposed to so that cells are protected from those viruses in future
Cas 9 is cutting enzyme
Guide RNA is shepherded
with Cas 9 System
RNA to guide Cas 9 to
Cas 9 to make a cut
Cas 9 locks onto DNA &
unzips it (both strands are divided)
Cas 9 snips the DNA
creating break in both strands
Cell repairs the break
using piece of single stranded DNA injected into the cell
Why CRISPR technology is revolutionary
It is cheaper (than already
Efficacy is very high
Made production of designer
baby a reality
Treatment of diseases which are caused by faulty
gene sequences like CFTR
Uses and Problems
Its applications are immense
and it has made designer baby a
reality . Since
it will have wide range of
ethical and social implications, inventors Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier have called for Moratorium on it till proper consensus on its
use is made .
Scientists are calling for
bringing extinct species back to life using this technology like Oxford
Universities project on reviving Mammoth .
Single cell in the form of Zygote formed after fertilisation of egg and sperm differentiate to specialist cells like heart cells , liver cells, skin cells etc. Earlier it was thought that this natural process isirreversible
But Gurdon and Yamanaka identified the genes to make any cell pluripotent and also showed that cell can be programmed to any specific cell like Bone Marrow or heart cell
This solved the issue of killing of embryos to get Stem Cells
Gist : Problems in using Stem Cells
Issue of Embryonic Stem Cells : Right to Life of Embryos +
Efficacy of Stem Cell Therapy : iPSC’s doesn’t has 100%
efficacy and in many cases reprogrammed cells can result into cancerous
cells by rapid division
Inclusivity issue : Stem Cell therapy is very expensive and poor
cant afford it. Hence, it is not inclusive .
What are the applications of Stem cells?
Stem Cells can cure several illnesses
Parkinson’s disease [A degenerative disorder caused by cell death in brain – became very common in developed nations due to increase in Life expectancy]
Spinal Cord Injury
Treatment of Autism
Blood related diseases (like Sickle Cell Anaemia)
Heart and Arterial Related diseases
(Regenerative Medicine) Can be used in organ transplants : Using Stem cell,
full fledged organ can be made and
since it is made from cells of person’s body, their rejection rate is
Study how an organism develops
from a single cell .
Stem Cell Therapy Status in India
Western Countries have strict regulations and
restrictions on use of Stem Cells but
no such regulation was earlier present in India . Due to
lack of regulation and cheap treatment, large number of terminally ill
patients were coming to India for treatment.
April 2018 :
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has proposed to amend Drugs
and Cosmetics Act, 1940 to bring
Stem Cells and Stem Cell based products under legal regulation
amendments, Stem Cells and
products that are substantially altered will be treated as drugs and will
have to seek regulator’s approval (Drug Controller General of India)
before being marketed .
ICMR’s National Guideline for Stem Cell Research in 2017.
Cell Use Ethical Guidelines by
Indo – Japan Stem Cell Research Collaboration
India – UK Stem Cell Research
Centre : DBT Centre in Bangalore dedicated to
Stem Cell Research (In-STEM)
This article deals with ‘Genetically Modified Crops – 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
Genetically Modified Foods /Crops
Genetically modified organisms have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering, unlike similar food organisms which have been modified from their wild ancestors through selective breeding
GM foods were first put on the market in the early 1990s
GM aids the development of specific traits in crops like:
Fungal and bacterial resistance
Quality improvement – protein and oil
Value addition – vitamins, micro and macro elements
Pro-GM crops in India
By 2050, the world’s population is expected to expand from 7 billion to 9 billion. Yet the amount of farm land is shrinking. GM Crops is the only way to feed growing population.
Resistance to pests and protecting the environment: Scientists can give crops built-in resistance to pests (eg : Bt gene) . That means less need for pesticides that are potentially harmful to the environment.
Higher income for farmers: GM crops cut costs for consumers and raise livelihoods for farmers
There is little evidence to validate perceived dangers by GM Crops. GM brinjal has since been approved and grown in neighbouring Bangladesh without causing any environmental or health hazards.
They are necessary to fight malnutrition . Eg Bio fortification – increasing vitamins and micro-nutrients in staple crops . Examples include
Golden Rice = Vitamin A
DRR Dhan – 45 (rice) = Zinc
Dhan Shakti (Bajra) = Iron
We cant stop the import of GM foods which is produced in the world . Hence, there is no point in restricting their cultivation in India and losing ground to foreign competitors. Eg India annually imports 3 million tonnes of soyabean oil which is predominantly GM
Father of green revolution – Norman Borlaug recommends GM crops for food security too
Face climate change => GM crops with suitable genetic editing can help to make crops that can withstand the stress like high temperature or drought etc
MS Swaminathan has called GM crops to be failure due to unbearable costs of seeds and inputs on poor farmers as well as stagnation yields of Bt cotton at 500 kg / ha (lower than China & Egypt)
GM crops isn’t purely scientific issue & is situated at a socioeconomic & political nexus involving market monopolies in seeds leading to suicides.
Farmer Suicides : introduction of GM cotton is the cause for increasing farmer suicides in Karnataka, Vidharbha region. Farmers are using expensive GM seeds in drought prone region
Farmers don’t cultivate indigenous varieties & results in biodiversity loss. Vidarbha district in Maharashtra, India, is nearly a 100% Bt cotton (of the total cotton area) producing region. Local varieties of cotton seeds have almost disappeared
Terminator Genes in Hybrid Seeds : Hybrid GM seeds are ‘programmed’ in such a way that they lose their ‘hybrid vigour’ so new seeds must be purchased every planting season.
Loss of vigour : GMCs gradually lose their vigour.
Eg : White pest attack on cotton in Punjab clearly showthis.
Monsanto also accepted that Bt Cotton is now susceptible to Pink Ballworm .
Stringent labelling requirements are required when they are cultivated because those who are consuming GM food have right to know that. But in India, vegetables are sold loose and this is not possible.
Parliamentary committee says GM crop benefit only rich farmers & companies like Monsanto are filled with monopolistic characteristics .
GM crops require more water, fertilisers unlike what they are always advertised to.
While billion dollar companies like Monsanto, Bayer, Dow and Syngenta have scientists lobbies who conduct research and publish researches in high numbers in favour of GM crops and trying to push it in India. There is nothing wrong in using GM crops but we should remember that Dow chemicals are behind Bhopal Gas Tragedy and Bayer was Endosulfan supplier. Such billion dollar companies often hide harmful effects of GM in long terms.
Legal measure – There should be a liability clause, like in case of US , where liability is huge in case the GM tech effects the regular varieties of crops. It will ensure that seed companies take proper precautions in fear of penalty
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Biological Diversity act, 2002 must be effectively implemented.
This article deals with ‘BIMSTEC and India Relations – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘International Relations’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here
ie Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation was formed
which was headquartered in Dhaka
– Nepal and Bhutan joined – BIST-EC was renamed to BIMSTEC – BIMSTEC = Bay of Bangal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation
BIMSTEC is sector-driven cooperative organization – Initially started with six sectors— trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism and fisheries. – In 2008, expanded to embrace eight more sectors— agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, environment, culture, people to people contact and climate change
on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) started between BIMSTEC nations
held in Delhi
3rd Summit in Nay
Pyi Taw (New Capital of Myanmar)
BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit held on side-lines of 2016 BRICS Summit in Goa => India started to promote BIMSTEC instead of SAARC.
4th BIMSTEC Meet held in Nepal
leaders were invited for Prime Minister’s swearing in ceremony. (in 2014
SAARC leaders were invited ) => can be seen as change in policy
Why BIMSTEC is important for India
Alternate to SAARC
Due to Pakistan’s hostility ,
SAARC is not able to achieve anything substantial. In such a situation,
BIMSTEC presents a viable alternative to SAARC
Making Indian stronghold in Indian Ocean
Region and tackle intrusion of
In line with India’s policies
Neighbourhood First Policy
Act East Policy
India, being a party to the
BIMSTEC can utilise the
FTA agreement once signed
opportunities to Indian companies
Market to Indian companies ( 20% of world population living in BIMSTEC area)
Great Tourism Potential
Benefit North East
This trade has
potential to benefit NE as well. Energising it would
also accelerate India’s Act East policy. Various projects already running
will help in this
Multimodal Transit Transport Project
Potential: Trans border Connectivity
BIMSTEC= 20% of world’s population
BIMSTEC countries have
combined gross domestic product (GDP) close to $2.7 trillion.
FTA & BIMSTEC Motor Vehicles Agreement are on cards which when signed will
bolster trade .
Bay of Bengal Tourism can rival Caribbean Tourism (SL PM Ranil Wikramsinghe
enthusiat for this)
Buddhist heritage sites for
religious tourism can help in this regard too
India, the largest member of the grouping, has been criticised for not providing a strong leadership to BIMSTEC.
Both Thailand and
Myanmar are criticised for having ignored BIMSTEC in favour of ASEAN.
It took more than 15 years to setup Secretariat for BIMSTEC which was setup
in 2014 in Dhaka
Countries like Indonesia,
Malaysia and Singapore are not included which are important part of Bay of
‘Noodle bowl effect’ of regionalism at work as formation of another
sub-regional initiative, the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Forum,
with the proactive membership of China, created doubts about the exclusive
potential of BIMSTEC.
Issues of refugee and ethnic tension among BIMSTEC member
countries would pose a challenge to the grouping.
So far, BIMSTEC has held only
4 summit meetings
though valuable, is no substitute as this leaves out our troublesome western periphery
Revival of BIMSTEC (& death of SAARC)
BIMSTEC leaders were invited
for Prime Minister’s swearing in ceremony. This is seen as indicator of
India’s policy of engaging neighbours and keeping Pakistan out as in 2014
SAARC leaders were invited for the swearing in ceremony.
Stagnation of SAARC is a key reason for India to reach out to
BIMSTEC as the stagnation limited the scope of India’s growing economic
BIMSTEC also carries a lot of
BIMSTEC countries have
combined gross domestic product (GDP) close to $2.7 trillion.
Despite an adverse global
financial environment, all seven countries were able to sustain average
annual rates of economic growth between 3 and 7.5 percent from 2012 to
Bay of Bengal is also rich
in untapped natural resources, with reserves of gas and other seabed
minerals, oil and also fishing stocks.
Bay of Bengal could rival the Caribbean as a high-end tourist destination.
Better connectivity with
BIMSTEC countries opens up
opportunities for Indian coastal states and North East states to unlock the potential for
development in the region.
Strategically, BIMSTEC is a
platform to counter assertive
China in South
and Southeast Asia, where it has undertaken investments through the Belt
and Road initiative.
Why SAARC remains relevant
SAARC, as an organisation,
reflects the South Asian identity of the countries. BIMSTEC despite its
achievements is not tied with such
South Asian countries are
closely tied in their socio-political state as they face similar threats
and challenges like terrorism, similar economic challenges, disaster etc.
Although BIMSTEC offers lot of potential but it has
remained as ineffective as SAARC. The relatively
rich /powerful countries are India and Thailand. If they take lead, others
will follow. But in recent times, Thailand is caught up in internal coups
& India too has remained passive till recent times .
ministry officials reminding the importance of SAARC say that it is too early
to write the obituary for SAARC. They also point out that while
SAARC is run by a formal
charter and has a structural order
to its functions, BIMSTEC is still only a friendly club of countries who have some common economic interests
(counter = BIMSTEC has no written charter and thus more