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GS Paper II– Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

IIT Bombay researchers find a novel target for blocking cancer metastasis

What’s Happening-

  • Researchers from IIT Bombay have found a novel pathway that is responsible for the progress of cancer metastasis — spread of cancer cells from its primary site of origin to new areas of the body.
  • The finding holds potential in controlling metastasis to reduce cancer deaths.
  • The study was published in the journal Oncotarget.

Key Points discussed were:

Treating metastasis:

  • Surgical removal of primary tumours has long been used as a standard treatment for localised tumours, but treating cancer metastasis remains a formidable challenge.
  • Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are one cause of cancer metastasis. However, there is no study done so far to examine the impact of biophysical properties of cancer stem cells in cancer metastasis,”
  • Contractile dynamics of a tumour cell represents one of the most important biophysical properties and is closely associated with cell spreading and cell adhesion properties of tumour cell. Increased cell contractility in breast cancer can initiate the escape of cancerous cells from their primary sites to distant organs, that is, metastasis.
  • Earlier researchers have shown a close relationship between cell contractility (ability of cells to contract) and invasiveness in breast cancer cells, ovarian cancer cells and melanoma cells. Increased contractility is correlated with increased migration of cells which helps in metastasis.
  • However, it remains unknown whether contractile dynamics of CSCs are distinct as compared to the bulk tumour population and contribute in CSC-mediated metastasis.

Robust remission:

  • Cell contractility is regulated by two groups of enzymes including myosin light chain kinase (MLCK) and Rho associated protein kinase (ROCK).
  • The team found that pharmacological targeting of ROCK prevents contractility and cell invasion potential of both CSCs and non-cancer stem cells, and is therefore a novel strategy for the treatment of cancer metastasis.
  • This work provides the first evidence of targeting biophysical properties of cancer stem cells for controlling metastatic cancer. However, further work is required to translate our findings before it goes to clinic.

Sources- The Indian Express, The Hindu. Page 39

GS Paper II –International Relations

•GS Paper III- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Have foreign fund flows been volatile?

What’s Happening-
The period between the last quarter of 2016 and early 2017 FIIs were quite bearish, both in debt and equity.
Between October 2016 and End-January 2017, FIIs were net sellers in the debt and equity segments at ₹48,406 crores and ₹31,903 crores, as per data from the National Securities Depository (NSDL).

Key Points discussed were:

Why were FIIs being bearish?

  • The equity segment saw selling by FIIs on expectations that the new government in the U.S. under President Donald Trump would take fiscal steps to boost growth even as interest rates trended higher, thereby making the other markets relatively less attractive.
  • Incidentally, the U.S. Federal Reserve raised rates by 0.25% on March 15, only the third such increase in a decade.
  • There was some amount of profit booking in the equity segment on account of demonetisation as well.
  • The outflows in the debt segment to the infusion of fresh deposits in the banking system that is likely to bolster demand for government bonds at banks, which augurs well for bond prices but makes debt less attractive for yield investors. 

What makes FIIs so important?

  • FIIs have been the prime drivers of every bull run in the Indian equity market.
  • They have been attracted by the handsome returns and the robust regulatory and trading mechanisms of the country for long.
  • Within the Asia ex-Japan pack, India traditionally features among the highest recipients of foreign money.

When will foreign flows stabilise?
Going by the data for the past two months, it seems the outflows have stabilised for now.
Data show that foreign investors have been net buyers of Indian debt at ₹17,630 crores in February and March.
Finally, corporate earnings would also be an important factor to decide the course of foreign flows.
Currently, there is hardly a bullish view on earnings growth as many are expecting a hit from demonetisation and global economic momentum is yet to decisively strengthen.
From an economic point of view, a combination of slightly cheaper valuations and consensus growth in earnings are the key to continued foreign flows.

GS Paper II– Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Re-organisation of the field formations of the CBEC for the implementation of GST

What’s Happening-

  • Reorganisation of the field formations of the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) for the implementation of Goods & Services Tax (GST) has been approved by the Union Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley.

Key Points discussed were:

  • The existing formations of Central Excise & Service Tax under the CBEC have been re-organised to implement and enforce the provisions of the proposed Goods & Services Tax Laws. 

CBIC:

  • The Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) is being renamed as the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC), after getting legislative approval.
  • The proposed CBIC shall, inter alia, supervise the work of all its field formations and Directorates and assist the Government in policy making in relation to GST, continuing Central Excise levy & Customs functions. 
  • The CBIC will have 21 Zones, 101 GST Tax Payer Services Commissionerates comprising 15 sub-Commissionerates, 768 Divisions, 3969 Ranges, 49 Audit Commissionerates and 50 Appeals Commissionerates. This will ensure rendering of taxpayer services to all the taxpayers through an indirect tax administration structure, having pan-India presence. 
  • For a robust IT Network, the Directorate General of Systems under CBEC is being strengthened.
  • The Directorate General Tax Payer Services is being expanded for greater out- reach for facilitating smooth transition for the taxpayers to the GST environment.

NACIN:

  • The existing training establishment, to be renamed as National Academy of Customs, Indirect Taxes and Narcotics will have an all India presence, to enable capacity building to the employees of the indirect tax administration of the Centre as well as of the State Governments and to members of Trade and Industry.
  • The renamed Directorate General of Goods & Service Tax Intelligence is also being strengthened and expanded to become an important wing of the Government in its fight against Tax Evasion and Black Money.