NATGRID to go live soon
The Indian Prime Minister is soon expected to launch the National Intelligence Grid or NATGRID that aims to provide a “cutting-edge technology to enhance India’s counter-terror capabilities”.
- The final “synchronization and testing” of the ambitious electronic database is being carried out so that it can go live.
What is NATGRID?
- NATGRID is an online database for collating scattered pieces of information from more than 20 organisations in the field of telecom, tax records, bank, immigration, etc. to enable the generation of intelligence inputs.
- NATGRID is a post Mumbai 26/11 attack measure.
- It aims to mitigate a vital deficiency — lack of real time information, which was considered to be one of the major hurdles in detecting US terror suspect David Headley’s movement across the country during his multiple visits between 2006 and 2009.
- NATGRID will utilise technologies like Big Data and analytics to study and analyze the data from various intelligence and enforcement agencies
- At least 10 central agencies like IB, R&AW and others will have access to the data for counter-terror investigations.
- It will also have access to the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems, including FIRs, across 14,000 police stations in India.
- Unlike the NCTC or the NIA which are central agencies, the NATGRID is essentially a tool that enables security agencies to locate and obtain relevant information on terror suspects from pooled data sets of various organizations and services in the country.
- It will help identify, capture and prosecute terrorists and help preempt terror plots.
- The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) are two organisations established in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks of 2008.
- The data recovery centre for NATGRID is at Bengaluru.
Do you know?
- NATGRID is exempted from the Right to Information Act, 2005 under sub-section (2) of Section 24.
- The project was supposed to go live by December 31 2020 but was postponed due to COVID-19
NCLT and ITAT:
The government has appointed 31 people as judicial, technical and accountant members at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT).
- These developments assume significance as they come amid the Supreme Court flagging concerns about vacancies in various tribunals.
There are around 250 posts lying vacant at various key tribunals and appellate tribunals such as the NCLT, the DRT, the TDSAT and the SAT.
- Supreme Court had recently flagged concerns, saying the Centre was “emasculating” tribunals by not appointing officials to the quasi-judicial bodies that are facing a staff crunch.
- It is a quasi-judicial body in India that adjudicates issues relating to companies in India.
- Established on 1st June, 2016 (Companies Act, 2013).
- Formed based on the recommendations of the Justice Eradi Committee.
- It deals with matters mainly related to companies law and the insolvency law.
- Term of members: Appointments will be for five years from the date of assumption of charge or till attaining the age of 65 or until further orders.
- It deals with income tax matters.
- It is statutory body in the field of direct taxes and its orders are accepted as final, on findings of fact.
- ITAT was the first Tribunal to be created on 25th January, 1941 and is also known as ‘Mother Tribunal’.
- With a view to ensuring highest degree of independence of the ITAT, it functions under the Department of Legal Affairs in the Ministry of Law and Justice and is kept away from any kind of control by the Ministry of Finance.
- The orders passed by the ITAT can be subjected to appellate challenge, on substantial questions of law, before the respective High Court.
CRISPR to control growth of mosquitoes
Researchers from California have developed CRISPR-based system to safely restrain mosquito vectors via sterilization. It is called the new precision-guided sterile insect technique, or pgSIT.
How it works?
pgSIT is a new scalable genetic control system that uses a CRISPR-based approach to engineer deployable mosquitoes that can suppress populations.
- It alters genes linked to male fertility — creating sterile offspring — and female flight in Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species responsible for spreading wide-ranging diseases including dengue fever, chikungunya, and Zika.
- pgSIT uses CRISPR to sterilize male mosquitoes and render female mosquitoes, which spread disease, as flightless.
Why is this significant?
pgSIT eggs can be shipped to a location threatened by mosquito-borne disease or developed at an on-site facility that could produce the eggs for nearby deployment. Once the pgSIT eggs are released in the wild, sterile pgSIT males will emerge and eventually mate with females, driving down the wild population as needed.
What is CRISPR?
CRISPR technology is basically a gene-editing technology that can be used for the purpose of altering genetic expression or changing the genome of an organism. The technology can be used for targeting specific stretches of an entire genetic code or editing the DNA at particular locations.
CRISPR technology is a simple yet powerful tool for editing genomes. It allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function. Its many potential applications include correcting genetic defects, treating and preventing the spread of diseases and improving crops. However, its promise also raises ethical concerns.
How it works?
- The technology behaves like a cut-and-paste mechanism on DNA strands that contain genetic information.
- The specific location of the genetic codes that need to be changed, or “edited”, is identified on the DNA strand, and then, using the Cas9 protein, which acts like a pair of scissors, that location is cut off from the strand. A DNA strand, when broken, has a natural tendency to repair itself.
- Scientists intervene during this auto-repair process, supplying the desired sequence of genetic codes that binds itself with the broken DNA strand.
Concerns and issues involved:
- It becomes contentious when used in humans. Leading scientists in the field have for long been calling for a “global pause” on clinical applications of the technology in human beings, until internationally accepted protocols are developed.
- Studies highlighted that CRISPR-Cas9-edited cells might trigger cancer.
- It may increase the risk of mutations elsewhere in the genome in those cells.
- Many things are not clear like how we should determine which disease or traits are appropriate for gene editing.
- Ethical concerns: In addition, there are concerns with manipulating human embryos for own interest.
Subansiri Hydroelectric Project (LSHP):
- Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project (SLHEP), is an under-construction gravity dam on the Subansiri river along the border of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
- Subansiri River (gold river), originates in the Tibet Plateau and enters India through Miri hills in Arunachal Pradesh.
- It is the largest tributary of Brahmaputra River.
- The project is being developed by the state-run National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC).
- It will be the single largest hydroelectric plant in India when completed. The project is expected to be completed in 2023.
Controversy surrounding the project:
Resistance to the ongoing hydroelectric project was shown in the form of a far-reaching anti-dam movement. It is alleged that the dam is located in a seismic zone and it is significantly under-designed
to resist earthquakes. The fluctuation of water level in the river is also feared to affect the ecology in the lower Subansiri region in future.