1. How LIC stake sale will affect policyholders

Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper III; Economics

In the Union Budget speech on February 1, Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the government proposed to sell a part of its holding in Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) by way of an initial public offering (IPO). The state insurer was established in 1956 through an Act of Parliament. Governed by the Life Insurance Corporation Act, 1956, every LIC policy is guaranteed by the government. Explaining the rationale for divesting the government’s stake in LIC, Ms. Sitharaman said that listing would bring discipline while giving retail investors an opportunity to participate in wealth creation.

What is the implication for policyholders?

Before the government divests a part of its stake through a public issue, it will have to ensure that it amends the LIC Act, which among other things, ensures a sovereign guarantee for all policies under Section 37 of the Act. The Finance Ministry is in talks with the Law Ministry to amend the Act.

Will listing change LIC’s operational approach or investment policies?

LIC is the biggest institutional investor in the Indian equity markets. According to media reports, LIC’s gross investments in equity are set to touch an all-time high of ₹72,000 crore in the financial year 2019-20. In comparison, foreign portfolio investors had invested just over ₹65,000 crore into Indian equity up to February 8, according to data posted on the National Securities Depository Limited website.

In FY19, LIC had invested a little less than ₹69,000 crore in equities. The numbers clearly show the clout that LIC enjoys in the equity market. The government has used LIC on many occasions to stabilise the markets.

Analysts say that the proposed listing would usher in benefits including increased accountability, transparency and due process. There would be independent directors on board who could question the rationale for investments. Further, shareholders too could question the company on its investments.

Could listing change the payout structure at LIC?

Quite likely, according to analysts. Currently, LIC pays 5% of its surplus to the government and the balance 95% to policyholders. This makes it possible for the state-owned insurance company to give a higher bonus on the policies compared to private players, who typically give 10% of their surplus to shareholders and the balance 90% to policyholders. With outside investors becoming shareholders, with a few even gaining seats on the insurer’s board, there could be a demand to tweak the mix between shareholders and policyholders. Further, the norms of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on corporate governance would require the insurance company to make timely and quick disclosures about defaults among other things. LIC is a significant player in the debt segment as well and would have to make additional disclosures to retail shareholders.

Does LIC have bad loans?

At a time when all banks are reeling under the pressure of bad loans there is intense speculation on LIC’s non-performing assets (NPAs). While media reports have posited that LIC has about 6% gross NPAs. LIC official, however, clarified that on an overall basis, it was not even 1%. He said, “For us, most investments are in equity, government securities and a small part in corporate debt. The 6% is possibly in corporate debt. But overall, it is hardly 1% in gross [terms]. Since we made provisions, net [NPAs] is 0.04%.” LIC’s total assets amounted to ₹32.26 lakh crore as of September 2019.

Source: The Hindu

2. When can people transmit the novel coronavirus?

Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper III; Science & Technology

The spread of the novel coronavirus in mainland China continues unabated. On February 5, mainland China recorded 3,694 new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and 73 deaths, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 28,018 and deaths to 563. This is the second consecutive day when the number of daily new cases rose sharply. On February 4, mainland China recorded 3,887 new confirmed cases and 65 deaths.

Which countries/regions outside mainland China have reported nCoV cases?

As on February 5, 28 countries/regions have reported 243 cases of the virus.

With 35 cases, Japan has reported the most number of cases. It is closely followed by Singapore with 28; Thailand 25; Hong Kong 21 cases including one death; South Korea 19; Australia 14; Germany and Malaysia 12 each; Taiwan, and the U.S. 11 each; Macau and Vietnam 10 each; France 6; U.A.E. 5; Canada 4; India 3; Philippines 3 cases including one death, Italy, U.K., and Russia 2 cases each; Nepal, Cambodia, Finland, Sri Lanka, Belgium, Spain, Sweden and Cambodia 1 case each.

How many human-to-human transmissions have been seen outside mainland China so far?

As on February 4, the World Health Organization said 27 cases of human-to-human transmission of the virus had been reported from nine countries outside of China.

The first case of human-to-human transmission outside China was reported from Vietnam. It was followed by Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Germany, Singapore and the U.S.

So far, 15 healthcare workers in mainland China have been infected through such transmission. The main route of transmission currently in China is believed to be through

human-to-human transmission as the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan city, which is considered as the source of the virus, was shut down on January 1.

Can the virus be transmitted during the incubation period?

China’s National Health Commission Minister had first warned that the virus might be spreading even during the incubation period when symptoms do not show up in a person infected with it. Then on January 30, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published a Correspondence that reported a Chinese woman who had purportedly not shown any signs or symptoms of infection having transmitted the virus to a German during the incubation period.

What is WHO’s position on virus transmission during the incubation period?

WHO’s Situation Report posted on February 1 said: “WHO is aware of possible transmission of the novel coronavirus from infected people before they developed symptoms. Detailed exposure histories are being taken to better understand the pre-clinical phase of infection and how transmission may have occurred in these few instances.”

It then stresses that “asymptomatic infection may be rare, and transmission from an asymptomatic person is very rare with other coronaviruses, as we have seen with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus. Thus, transmission from asymptomatic cases is likely not a major driver of transmission.”

The main driver of nCoV transmission is people who exhibit overt symptoms. Such people will spread the virus more readily through coughing and sneezing, WHO says.

The Public Health Agency of Sweden says on its website that scientific evidence on the coronavirus causing severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) shows that it “does not infect at all during the incubation period. There is therefore much to suggest that similar would also apply to the new coronavirus”.

Can people exhibiting mild symptoms transmit the virus?

Two laboratories have been independently monitoring virus shedding by patients exhibiting few or minor symptoms and being treated in Munich. These patients have “symptoms of common cold rather than viral pneumonia”, according to a press release.

The doctors at the two laboratories could isolate the infectious virus from the pharynx (part of the throat). Both laboratories “found signs of viral replication in the pharynx” besides the lungs.

Image reflects the linkage between coronavirus and SARS

Based on these observations they say that persons who have “mild or early symptoms of common cold (sore throat, signs of sinusitis, feeling unwell without fever) may be able to transmit the novel coronavirus to other persons”.

“Because of the immediate relevance for infection control, the participating institutions have decided to release this information prior to completion of studies and formal scientific publication,” the researchers said. The observations have not been published in any journal post peer-reviewing. The findings have not been independently verified by other labs, either.

What do people with mild symptoms spreading the virus mean for infection control?

The Chinese woman who infected the German colleague is an example of a person exhibiting mild, non-specific symptoms spreading the virus to others.

If further studies find that some people infected with the virus have only mild symptoms, it would mean that many people might have gone or will go undetected. So the actual number of cases might be higher. More studies are needed to confirm if people with mild, non-specific symptoms might be spreading the virus and infecting others.

Like in the case of the Zika virus, can the nCoV be transmitted from a mother to the child (vertical transmission)?

In China, a baby born to a mother who tested positive of the virus was found to have been infected 30 hours after birth.

But it is also possible that the baby was infected after birth probably due to close contact with the mother. No details are yet available to confirm or refute the claim by the Chinese doctor.

Vertical transmission (mother-to-child) is confirmed if the virus is transmitted from the mother to the foetus, during delivery or from breastfeeding. According to WHO, there have been no reported cases of vertical transmission in the case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

According to the New York Times, the hospital disclosed details of a second case involving an infant who was born healthy but got infected 16 days later. The mother and the baby’s nanny were diagnosed with the virus after the baby was born.

Though the median age of patients is between 49 and 56 years, these two cases suggest that even infants can get infected with the novel virus.

Does a negative result mean the person is not infected with the novel coronavirus?

Not always. There have been at least a few instances when people have initially tested negative for the novel coronavirus before being testing positive. It is not clear at what stage of infection the initial tests and final tests were done.

Of the 1,155 people tested, as on February 6, in India for the virus, only three have been found positive. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in a press release on February 6 that all 645 evacuees from Wuhan had tested negative. In addition, 510 samples had been tested by ICMR network laboratories and only three had turned out as positive. All the three people who tested positive are being kept in isolation wards in Kerala.

Source: The Hindu

3. Why does the Environment Ministry want to regulate RO-based water filtration systems?

Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper III; Science & Technology


What is the problem with reverse osmosis?

The Union Environment Ministry has issued a draft notification that seeks to regulate membrane-based water filtration systems in areas where the source of water meets drinking water norms of the Bureau of Indian Standards. This primarily affects reverse osmosis (RO)-based water filtration systems and the rules, at least in letter, effectively prohibit homes from installing domestic RO systems.

What are reverse osmosis (RO) systems?

RO was originally a technology devised to desalinate sea water. The idea exploits the principle of osmosis. Take a tube, twist it into a ‘U’-shape and insert a semi-permeable membrane (a material with very small holes that will allow only certain molecules to filter through) at the point where the tube curves. Fill half the tube with salt water and the other with freshwater. Over time, fresh water will cross over into the salty arm until the proportion of salt and water in both arms is the same. This is due to osmotic pressure which dilutes a region with a higher concentration of solute (in this case, the salt).

Say you wanted to readjust this tube and have all the salt in one arm and pure water in the other. You would need to create some external pressure that will counter the osmotic pressure and suck all the water from the salty arm into the freshwater arm while leaving the salt behind. This is the essential principle of an RO system.

RO desalination came about in the late 1950s and primarily in large industrial settings to convert brackish sea water into potable drinking water.

However, it is possible to deploy a wide array of membranes and multiple stages of filters to filter a wide variety of solutes — arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, nitrates, bacteria — that come mixed in water. This has led to an industry of home-RO systems that are installed in a multiplicity of ways to provide potable water.

To create external pressure, RO relies on a pump and electric motors. It uses “activated carbon” components, such as charcoal and carbon black that can filter out contaminants as well as organic substances such as bacteria. It all depends on the filtering material and the number of filters that incoming tap water must pass through.

What is the problem with RO?

In making tap water pass through multiple stages of cleaning, RO systems end up wasting a lot of water. Anywhere between three-five times more water is wasted by them than they produce and given the challenges that cities and government face in providing potable water, environmentalist groups have convinced the National Green Tribunal to ban the use of RO systems in Delhi. It is as part of this legal dispute, which began in March 2019 that led the Environment Ministry to move to regulate RO systems.

Another concern with RO is that it filters out calcium, zinc, magnesium, which are essential salts needed by the body; drinking such water over time could be harmful. However, many manufacturers claim to overcome this challenge by “post-treatment”. The average RO system only aims to reduce Total Dissolved Solids, ensure water is odourless and has a pH from 6.5-8.5. The National Institute of Virology (NIV) claimed that most filtration methods did not eliminate Hepatitis E virus. A combination of filtration systems can eliminate most contaminants.

But opponents of RO systems say this increases costs and reduces the incentive for public-funded water distribution systems to supply clean water to the vast majority of the country who can ill-afford such systems.

How is the quality of piped water in the country?

Under the Jal Jeevan Mission, the Prime Minister has committed to provide tap water to the entire country by 2024. However, studies show that the existing quality of piped water is deficient in much of India. Last year, the Department of Consumer Affairs undertook a study through the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) on the quality of piped drinking water being supplied in the country. In Delhi, all samples drawn from various places did not comply with the BIS’s requirements. Most from Mumbai were found to comply, the report claimed. In Hyderabad (Telangana), Bhubaneswar (Odisha), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Raipur (Chhattisgarh), Amravati (Maharashtra) and Shimla (Himachal Pradesh), one or more samples did not comply and none of the samples drawn from 13 State or Union Territory capitals, Chandigarh, Thiruvananthapuram, Patna, Bhopal, Guwahati, Bengaluru, Gandhinagar, Lucknow, Jammu, Jaipur, Dehradun, Chennai, Kolkata, complied with the requirements.

What is the quality of water globally?

Countries with a high development index tend to have good quality tap water. Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, United Kingdom have access to freshwater lakes or glacier melt — extremely clean and mineral rich. This water is further filtered. Singapore and Israel rely on extensive recycling and even making sewage water fit for drinking. The limited population pressure, compared to India, as well as public resources allow these countries to ensure clean drinking water. But for much of the world, access to clean piped water from the public supply remains a challenge.

Source: The Hindu

4. Long wait and many twists in the story of Rajiv Gandhi case convict Perarivalan

Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper II; Polity & Governance

The Centre told Madras High Court on Friday that the Governor of Tamil Nadu was at liberty to decide on the petition for remission of life sentence filed by A G Perarivalan, one of the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

Over the last several days, demands for the release of Perarivalan have resurfaced strongly in public conversations in Tamil Nadu. The hashtag #ReleasePerarivalan spiked in social media after Perarivalan wrote to Governor Banwarilal Purohit to remind him about the state Cabinet’s decision granting him remission, which has been pending with Raj Bhavan for over 16 months.

Perarivalan, who is lodged in Chennai’s Puzhal Central Prison, wrote to the Governor on January 25, days after the Supreme Court rebuked the CBI for failing to make progress in its investigation of the larger conspiracy behind the assassination 29 years ago.

On January 21, a Supreme Court Bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta said the multi-disciplinary monitoring agency (MDMA) “have done nothing, nor do they want to do anything”.

The CBI-led MDMA was set up in 1998. The Supreme Court is hearing Perarivalan’s plea seeking suspension of his life sentence until the MDMA completes its probe into the cross-border aspects of the conspiracy.

The Centre’s affidavit in the Madras High Court on Friday came in a separate petition filed by Nalini, another convict in the case.

The case against Perarivalan

Perarivalan alias Arivu was 19 when he was arrested in June 1991. He was accused of having bought two battery cells for Sivarasan, the LTTE man who masterminded the conspiracy, and which were used in the bomb that killed Rajiv. Perarivalan remained on death row for 23 years. On February 18, 2014, a Supreme Court Bench of then Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiva Kirti Singh commuted the death sentences of Perarivalan and two other convicts, Murugan and Santhan, into imprisonment for life.

What strengthened Perarivalan’s claim of innocence was an admission in November 2013 by V Thiagarajan, a retired CBI SP, that he had altered Perarivalan’s statement in custody to make it read like a confession, which eventually played a crucial role in getting Perarivalan the maximum punishment.

The CBI officer’s admission

Thiagarajan, who had recorded the statements of Perarivalan and other accused in 1991, said that while Perarivalan had accepted that he had supplied the batteries, he had not said that he was aware that those batteries would be used to make the bomb. That second part had been his “interpretation”, Thiagarajan said.

The statement was recorded as: “…Moreover, I bought two nine volt battery cells (Golden Power) and gave them to Sivarasan. He used only these to make the bomb explode.”

However, Perarivalan had not actually said the second sentence — and this, Thiagarajan admitted, put him in a “dilemma”. “It (the statement) wouldn’t have qualified as a confession statement without his admission of being part of the conspiracy. There I omitted a part of his statement, and added my interpretation. I regret it,” Thiagarajan said.

What Thiagarajan added to the statement was, in Tamil, “Ithu than Rajiv Gandhiyin kolakku payan paduthappettathu,” which translated into English as “He used only these to make the bomb explode.”

In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, Thiagarajan confirmed that Perarivalan had never said that he knew of the conspiracy, or that he had knowingly bought the batteries to be used to make the bomb.

In 1999, the Supreme Court acquitted 19 accused and suspended TADA provisions in the case — but it upheld Perarivalan’s TADA confession, observing it was “believable”.

Status of the legal battle

While Perarivalan’s ‘altered’ confession has kept him in prison, the CBI has failed to complete the investigation into the larger conspiracy. Perarivalan’s lawyers have argued that while he was sentenced to death for buying two battery cells, there is no evidence about the bomb, the bombmaker, where the bomb was tested, and who supplied the RDX, the military-grade explosive that was used. Perarivalan’s petition in the Supreme Court questioning the progress of the MDMA’s probe over more than two decades brought embarrassment to the CBI last month.

The question of remission of his sentence remains stuck in the Tamil Nadu Raj Bhavan.

Article 161 gives the Governor the “power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends”.

In an earlier order passed on September 6, 2018, a Supreme Court Bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Navin Sinha and K M Joseph had noted that Perarivalan had filed an application before the Governor under Article 161, and that “the authority concerned will be at liberty to decide the said application as deemed fit”. Perarivalan had told the court that he had filed his mercy plea before then Governor K Rosaiah on December 30, 2015.

Following the Supreme Court’s order, the state Cabinet had decided on September 9, 2018, to recommend to the Governor (Purohit) to remit sentences of all seven convicts serving life terms in the case, including Perarivalan. The government’s decision was welcomed by both the Opposition DMK and the AIADMK’s TTV Dhinakaran faction.

In its affidavit in the Madras High Court on Friday, however, the Centre has underlined that the “Governor is a Constitutional functionary and he has discretion to decide on the petition under the powers conferred upon him by the Constitution”. It has said that the Home Ministry has already rejected the Tamil Nadu government’s proposal to release the convicts, and that the mercy petition remains pending before the Governor.

No time limit is prescribed for a Governor or the President for disposal of a mercy plea.

Source: The Indian Express

5. In Islamic State recruit Shamima Begum, a test case for West

Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper II; IOBR

On Friday, a woman who has been stripped of British citizenship after having run off in her teens to join the Islamic State in Syria — a story that made international headlines after she resurfaced last year — lost a legal challenge in a British tribunal on Friday.

A look at the back story of Shamima Begum, whose case has thrown into focus the larger questions about how Western societies will deal with others who joined IS, but who want to return to their home countries now that the terror group has collapsed.

The flight to Syria

Shamima, now 20, was just 15 when she and two other London schoolgirls travelled to Syria in 2015. Shamima was discovered in a camp by The Times journalist Anthony Loyd in 2019.

Media reports last year said the three girls had initially travelled to Turkey before being smuggled across the Syria border. Three weeks after arriving in Syria, Shamima married an IS fighter called Yago Riedijk, who grew up the Netherlands, and who is since said to have surrendered.

Shamima and Riedijk lived in the city of Raqqa, an IS stronghold that collapsed in 2017, and later relocated to Baghuz in eastern Syria. The couple had three children, all of whom have died. When Shamima was found last year, she was pregnant with her third child.

The resurfacing

Loyd found Shamima at a refugee camp in Syria last year. She told reporters that she wanted to return home, but came under much criticism in Britain because she apparently felt no remorse for her actions. Even her family in London expressed shock at her lack of repentance.

Former Home Secretary Sajid Javid revoked her citizenship. She challenged the decision before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. This was the first stage of her appeal, which she lost on Friday.

The statelessness question

The United Kingdom is a signatory to the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, which seeks to address statelessness, as well as the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness under the UN refugee win UNHCR. In 2014, UNHCR launched the Campaign to End Statelessness in 10 Years.

In the tribunal, Shamima argued that she is not a citizen of another country and that the decision to strip her of citizenship had left her stateless. The tribunal ruled that she was “a citizen of Bangladesh by descent”, and therefore not rendered stateless.

Bangladesh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, is reported to have said last year that Shamima was not a Bangladeshi citizen and there was “no question” of her being allowed into the country. Shamima family has long argued that she has never had a Bangladeshi passport.

Revocation of citizenship

The UK Immigration Act, amended in 2014, lays down the conditions under which British citizenship can be revoked. Under Section 40(4)(A), the Secretary of State can make an order to deprive a person of a citizenship status if “the Secretary of State is satisfied that the deprivation is conducive to the public good because the person, while having that citizenship status, has conducted him or herself in a manner which is seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the United Kingdom…”

On Friday, the tribunal ruled said the decision to revoke Shamima’s citizenship did not breach the Home Office’s “extraterritorial human rights policy by exposing Ms Begum to a real risk of death or inhuman or degrading treatment”.

Shamima’s lawyer, Daniel Furner, said the decision would be appealed.

Source: The Indian Express

6. Why cancer gene map matters

Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper III; Science & Technology

A series of new papers in the journal Nature has revealed the most comprehensive gene map ever of the genes whose departures from normal behaviour — mutations — trigger a cascade of genetic misbehaviours that eventually lead to cancer. Just a handful of “driver” mutations could explain the occurrence of a large number of cancers, the researchers said, raising hopes of a cancer cure being nearer than ever.

What is the new study that has oncologists around the world excited?

It is a major international collaboration called the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG), in which researchers has published a series of papers after analysing 2,658 whole-cancer genomes and their matching normal tissues across 38 tumour types.

They have come to the conclusion that “On average, cancer genomes contained 4-5 driver mutations when combining coding and non-coding genomic elements; however, in around 5% of cases no drivers were identified, suggesting that cancer driver discovery is not yet complete.”

This is the largest genome study ever of primary cancer. Various kinds of cancers required to be studied separately because cancers of different parts of the body often behave very differently from one another; so much so that it is often said that cancer is not one disease but many.

What is the breakthrough have the studies achieved?

Previous studies had focused on the 1 per cent of the genome that codes for proteins. The Pan-Cancer Project explored, in considerably greater detail, the remaining 99 per cent of the genome, including key regions that control switching genes on and off. This switching on and off of genes is the most important regulatory mechanism in the body so that it functions normally and diseases are kept at bay.

The researchers identified 16 types of structural variation signatures in the genes ultimately leading to cancer. In one paper of the series, the researchers analysed 288,457 somatic structural variations in the genes to understand the distributions and effects. Structural variations mean deletion, amplification or reorganisation of genomic segments that range in size from just a few bases to whole chromosomes. Bases are the structural units of genes.

In another paper, the researchers reconstructed the “life history and evolution of mutational processes and driver mutation sequences of 38 types of cancer”. On the need to do this, Nature says: “Cancers cells are subject to selective forces shaped by mutation rates and the microenvironment, among other factors. PCAWG researchers use the information obtained from whole-genome sequencing to delineate more precisely the parameters that influence tumour evolution, and how it shapes the cancer genome. Looking at cancer through an evolutionary lens can give clues into metastasis and therapy response and resistance.”

What does this study mean for cancer treatment around the world?

The mutations identified by the team have been catalogued. The catalogue, which is already available online, allows doctors and researchers from all over the world to look things up, consult and find information about the cancer of a given patient. The PCAWG has discovered causes of previously unexplained cancers, pinpointed cancer-causing events and zeroed in on mechanisms of development, opening new vistas of personalised cancer treatment to strike at the root of the problem.

Cancer is known to be a disease of uncontrolled growth. The growth process, like all other physiological processes, has genetic controls so that the growth is self-limiting. When one or more genes malfunction, the growth process can go out of hand. Not just cancer, there are many other diseases with a genetic link in varying degrees.

Identification and cataloguing of the genes is a very crucial step and has taken science’s understanding of cancer and its genesis ahead by several leaps. When it comes to drug development, however, the gene mapping is but a first step. The process of drug development will have to now kick in with pharmaceutical companies first identifying the compound(s) that target these gene mutations and then it being subjected to the rigours of clinical trials to prove its safety and efficacy. That could take anything from a few decades to a few years to cover all the mutations identified.

Is the genetic link to cancer well established?

Yes, it is. One such association, for example, is of breast cancer with the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes; the actress Angelina Jolie, who discovered that she carried the former gene, chose to undergo a preventive double mastectomy. This is personalised therapeutics where, instead of traditional toxic medications like chemotherapy, drugs that specifically target the delinquent genetic mutation are already being used. Such therapy, however, remains very expensive.

In fact, the genetic analysis of tumours is an already practised protocol of cancer therapy. A good laboratory can analyse about 1,000 genes, of which less than 200 are implicated in various kinds of cancer. But the time taken for developing a drug from identifying a genetic mutation causing cancer varies. In case of ALK-1, which was identified as the driver gene for 5-7 per cent of lung cancers in 2006-07, it was exceptionally short. By 2011, doctors had the drug in their hands. However, of the 200 cancer-causing mutations known so far, less than 40 actually have a targeted drug.

How big is the cancer burden?

Cancer is the second most-frequent cause of death worldwide, killing more than 8 million people every year; incidence of cancer is expected to increase by more than 50% over the coming decades. One in 10 Indians will develop cancer during their lifetime, and one in 15 Indians will die of cancer, according to a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report.

The Northeastern states, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Haryana, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh account for 44% of the cancer burden in India, says a recent analysis, published in The Lancet Global Health, that looked about 9.7 million deaths that happened in India in 2017 and also investigated the reasons for the 486 million DALYs (disability adjusted life years) in India. DALYs are an international unit of death and disability in terms of the number of life years lost of an average person to death and disability.

Source: The Indian Express

Q. The role of individual MPs (Members of Parliament) has diminished over the years and as a result healthy constructive debates on policy issues are not usually witnessed. How far can this be attributed to the anti-defection law, which was legislated but with a different intention? (2013, 10 marks, 200 words)

Attempt this question by clicking on the link https://www.prepmate.in/question/10-02-2020/

PrepMate team will evaluate your answer. Only PrepMate Polity & Governance and IOBR book readers can submit their answer.