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Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

Context:

  • PM to launch Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission on 27th September.

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Key Details:

  • The pilot project of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission was announced by the Prime Minister from the ramparts of Red Fort on 15th August, 2020.

  • Initially, this project was being implemented in pilot phase in six Union Territories.

  • The nation-wide rollout of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission coincides with NHA celebrating the third anniversary of Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY).

About Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

  • Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission will create a seamless online platform through the provision of a wide-range of data, information and infrastructure services, duly leveraging open, interoperable, standards-based digital systems while ensuring the security, confidentiality and privacy of health-related personal information.

  • The Mission will enable access and exchange of longitudinal health records of citizens with their consent.

Key components of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

  • It includes a health ID for every citizen that will also work as their health account, to which personal health records can be linked and viewed with the help of a mobile application;

  • Healthcare Professionals Registry (HPR); and

  • Healthcare Facilities Registries (HFR) that will act as a repository of all healthcare providers across both modern and traditional systems of medicine.

Significance:

  • This will ensure ease of doing business for doctors/hospitals and healthcare service providers.

  • Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission Sandbox, created as a part of the Mission, will act as a framework for technology and product testing.

    • It will help organizations, including private players, intending to be a part of National Digital Health Ecosystem become a Health Information Provider or Health Information User or efficiently link with building blocks of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission.

  • This Mission will create interoperability within the digital health ecosystem, similar to the role played by the Unified Payments Interface in revolutionizing payments.

  • Citizens will only be a click-away from accessing healthcare facilities.

Ayushman Bharat Programme

  1. The Ayushman Bharat programme was launched in 2018 to address health issues at all levels – primary, secondary, and tertiary. It has two components:

    • Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY), earlier known as the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS)

    • Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs)

  2. Ayushman Bharat is an integrated approach comprising health insurance and primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare.

  3. The HWCs are aimed at improving access to cheap and quality healthcare services at the primary level.

  4. PM-JAY will cover the financial protection for availing healthcare services at the secondary and tertiary levels.

  5. Ayushman Bharat is the largest government-funded healthcare programme in the world with over 50 crore beneficiaries.

Source: PIB

U.K. Warship Makes Rare Transit via Taiwan Strait

Context:

  • The Royal Navy of British warship was sailing through the Taiwan Strait on Monday.

Key Details:

  • This move challenges Beijing’s claim to the sensitive waterway and marks a rare voyage by a non-U.S. military vessel.

  • It was the first time a British warship had transited through the narrow waterway separating Taiwan and mainland China.

  • The British Navy survey ship HMS Enterprise transited through the strait in 2019.

See the source image

Freedom of Navigation:

  • U.S. warships regularly conduct “freedom of navigation” exercises in the strait and trigger angry responses from Beijing, which claims Taiwan and surrounding waters — and almost all of the South China Sea.

  • The U.S. and most other countries view those areas as international waters that should be open to all vessels.

‘Evil intentions’:

  • China commented that this kind of behaviour harbours evil intentions and damages peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Military threats:

  • Until recently, Washington was the main global power willing to sail through the Taiwan Strait.

  • But a growing number of U.S. allies have transited the route as Beijing intensifies its military threats towards Taiwan and solidifies its control over the disputed South China Sea.

  • Canadian, French and Australian warships have all made voyages through the Taiwan Strait in recent years.

Taiwan v. China:

  • Taiwan’s 23 million people live under constant threat of invasion by authoritarian China, which has vowed to seize the island one day — by force if necessary.

  • Beijing has stepped up military, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan since the election of President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016, who views the island as “already independent”.

Taiwan Strait:

  • The Taiwan Strait is a 180-kilometer (110 mi)-wide strait separating the island of Taiwan and continental Asia.

  • The strait is part of the South China Sea and connects to the East China Sea to the north.

  • Former names of the Taiwan Strait include the Formosa Strait or Strait of Formosa.

Source: The Hindu

India’s First Herbicide-Tolerant & Non-GM Rice Varieties

Context:

  • India gets first herbicide-tolerant & non-GM rice varieties; Pusa Basmati 1979 and Pusa Basmati 1985

Genetically modified rice - Wikipedia

Key Details:

  • The Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) has developed the country’s first-ever non-GM (genetically modified) herbicide-tolerant rice varieties that can be directly seeded and significantly save water and labour compared to conventional transplanting.

  • This dispenses with the need to prepare nurseries where paddy seeds are first raised into young plants, before being uprooted and replanted 25-35 days later in the main field.

  • The varieties — Pusa Basmati 1979 and Pusa Basmati 1985 — contain a mutated acetolactate synthase (ALS) gene making it possible for farmers to spray Imazethapyr, a broad-spectrum herbicide, to control weeds.

  • These varieties gets herbicide-tolerance through mutation breeding, not GM as there is no foreign gene here.

  • Both Pusa Basmati 1979 and 1985 have been bred by crossing existing popular varieties — Pusa 1121 and Pusa 1509, respectively — with ‘Robin’. The latter is a mutant line derived from Nagina 22, an upland drought-tolerant rice variety.

Why new varieties were needed?

  • Paddy transplantation is both labour- and water-intensive.

  • The field where the seedlings are transplanted has to be “puddled” or tilled in standing water.

  • For the first three weeks or so after transplanting, the plants are irrigated almost daily to maintain a water depth of 4-5 cm.

  • Farmers continue giving water every two-three days even for the next four-five weeks when the crop is in tillering (stem development) stage.

  • Water is a natural herbicide that takes care of weeds in the paddy crop’s early-growth period.

  • The new varieties simply replace water with Imazethapyr.

  • There’s no need for nursery, puddling, transplanting and flooding of fields. These can be sown directly, just like wheat.

  • Imazethapyr, effective against a range of broadleaf, grassy and sedge weeds, can’t be used on normal paddy, as the chemical does not distinguish between the crop and the invasive plants.

  • The ALS gene in rice codes for an enzyme (protein) that synthesises amino acids for crop growth and development.

  • The herbicide sprayed on normal rice plants binds itself to the ALS enzymes, inhibiting their production of amino acids.

  • The new basmati varieties contain an ALS gene whose DNA sequence has been altered using ethyl methanesulfonate, a chemical mutant.

  • As a result, the ALS enzymes no longer have binding sites for Imazethapyr and amino acid synthesis isn’t inhibited.

  • The plants can also now “tolerate” application of the herbicide, and hence it kills only the weeds.

Direct seeding of rice (DSR):

  • Farmers in Punjab and Haryana are already adopting direct seeding of rice (DSR) in response to labour shortages and depleting water tables.

  • This year alone, roughly 6 lakh of the total 44.3 lakh hectares area under paddy in the two states has come under DSR.

  • DSR cultivation is currently based on two herbicides, Pendimethalin (applied within 72 hours of sowing) and Bispyribac-sodium (after 18-20 days).

  • These are costlier than Imazethapyr (Rs 1,500 versus Rs 300/acre).

  • Imazethapyr, moreover, has a wider weed-control range and is safer, as the ALS gene isn’t present in humans and mammals.

  • Even in the herbicide-tolerant rice, the chemical will target only the weeds.

  • DSR is estimated to need 30 per cent less water, save Rs 3,000 per acre in transplantation labour charges, and also 10-15 days’ time due to no nursery preparation.

  • But DSR’s success hinges on an effective herbicide solution — like breeding Imazethapyr-tolerant varieties.

Genetically Modified Seeds:

  • Conventional plant breeding involves crossing species of the same genus to provide the offspring with the desired traits of both parents.

  • Genus is a class of items such as a group of animals or plants with similar traits, qualities or features.

  • Genetic modification aims to transcend the genus barrier by introducing an alien gene in the seeds to get the desired effects.

  • The alien gene could be from a plant, an animal or even a soil bacterium.

  • Bt cotton is the only Genetically Modified (GM) crop that is allowed in India.

  • It has alien genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that allows the crop to develop a protein toxic to the common pest pink bollworm.

  • Herbicide Tolerant Bt (Ht Bt) cotton, on the other hand is derived with the insertion of an additional gene, from another soil bacterium, which allows the plant to resist the common herbicide glyphosate.

  • In Bt brinjal, a gene allows the plant to resist attacks of fruit and shoot borers.

  • In DMH-11 mustard, genetic modification allows cross-pollination in a crop that self-pollinates in nature.

Legal Position of GM crops in India

  • In India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body that allows for commercial release of GM crops.

  • In 2002, the GEAC had allowed the commercial release of Bt cotton. More than 95% of the country’s cotton area has since then come under Bt cotton.

  • Use of the unapproved GM variant can attract a jail term of 5 years and fine of Rs. 1 lakh under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

Source: IE