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Lieutenant Governor

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure

Why in the news?

President of India appointed Lieutenant Governors to the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

What is a Lieutenant Governor?

  • A Lieutenant Governor is the head of the executive of the Union Territory and has powers similar to the Governor of a state. Only three Union Territories — Andaman and Nicobar, Delhi and Puducherry — have Lt. Governors.
  • These powers are in place to ensure checks and balances for the state government and its functioning.
  • He is appointed by the  President and hold office under the pleasure of the President.
  • In an observation made in November 2017, the Supreme Court said that the Lt. Governor of Delhi has more powers that the Governor of a State — he does not have to listen to the advice of the Council of Ministers. In the case of Delhi, since portfolios like land, police and public order fall under the domain of the Centre, of which the Lt. Governor is a representative, he holds more powers than a Governor.

 

Right to Information Amendment

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

Why in the news?

  • Activists decried new rules under the Right to Information Act that have reduced the tenure of Information Commissioners from five years to three, saying the changes would affect their independence. The government had notified the rules on Thursday.
  • The Right to Information (Term of Office, Salaries, Allowances and Other Terms and Conditions of Service of Chief Information Commissioner, Information Commissioners in the Central Information Commission, State Chief Information Commissioner and State Information Commissioners in the State Information Commission) Rules, 2019 notified by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions set the tenure of Information Commissioners at three years and gave the government the discretion to decide on “conditions of service” for which no express provisions are made in the rules.
  • The Chief Information Commissioner’s salary has been fixed at ₹2.5 lakh and an Information Commissioner’s at ₹2.25 lakh.
  • The activists say that the rules have been drafted and promulgated in a surreptitious manner in flagrant violation of the procedures laid down in the Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy of 2014 which requires that all draft rules be placed in the public domain for comments and suggestions.
  • RTI Act was amended in August changing the terms of office and service of the Chief Information Commissioner and the other Information Commissioners.

 

IndiGen Genome Project

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Why in the news?

  • The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) has conducted Whole Genome Sequencing of 1,008 Indians from different populations across the country. Announcing details of the IndiGen Genome project, the Union Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the whole genome data will be important for building the knowhow, baseline data and indigenous capacity in the emerging area of Precision Medicine.  
  • The outcomes of the IndiGen will have applications in a number of areas including predictive and preventive medicine with faster and efficient diagnosis of rare genetic diseases, he added.
  • The IndiGen initiative was undertaken by CSIR in April 2019, which was implemented by the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi and CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad. 
  • This has enabled benchmarking the scalability of genome sequencing and computational analysis at population scale in a defined timeline. The ability to decode the genetic blueprint of humans through whole genome sequencing will be a major driver for biomedical science.

What is Genome Sequencing?

Genome sequencing is figuring out the order of DNA nucleotides, or bases, in a genome—the order of As, Cs, Gs, and Ts that make up an organism’s DNA. The human genome is made up of over 3 billion of these genetic letters.

What are the benefits of Genome Sequencing?

  • The primary purpose of sequencing one’s genome is to obtain information of medical value for future care. Genomic sequencing can provide information on genetic variants that can lead to disease or can increase the risk of disease development, even in asymptomatic people. Thus genome sequencing has the potential to increase the ability to act preemptively prior to disease development or commence treatment for a disease that has not yet been diagnosed. For people experiencing a health-impacting condition, DNA sequencing can provide a precise diagnosis which might affect the medical management of symptoms, or provide treatment options.
  • The power of genomic information is compounded each time a genome sequence is obtained for an additional member of a family, especially when this occurs across generations. Direct comparisons of genome sequences of relatives for whom DNA variation is shared can infer inheritance patterns. Each additional genome sequence can make the interpretation of genomic variation easier. Therefore, genome sequence information is of value not only to the individual undertaking the procedure, but also to immediate family members and direct descendants. Such information should be treasured and safeguarded by families whose members have chosen to investigate their genomes.