Are Minority rights justified (The Hindu)
Novel drug delivery system to kill cancer cells (The Hindu)
Explained: Do transfer of technology in defence benefits India
Are Minority rights justified (The Hindu)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the logic of minority right in a democracy and their desirability for the welfare of minorities. (GS paper II)
- The principle of majority rule has several functions. For one, it establishes a clear mechanism for making decisions. A majority of 50 percent plus one decides an issue or question. This ensures that when decisions are made more people are in favor than against.
- Yet, majority rule cannot be the only expression of “supreme power” in a democracy. If so, the majority would too easily tyrannize the minority just as a single ruler is inclined to do. Thus, while it is clear that democracy must guarantee the expression of the popular will through majority rule, it is equally clear that it must guarantee that the majority will not abuse its power to violate the basic and inalienable rights of the minority.
What are rights?
- Rights are legally recognised special interests of a person that put others under a duty not to interfere with them. If I have a right to religious freedom, then others must not interfere in the choice and practice of my religion.
- Some of these rights are given to groups rather than to each individual because only groups individuals taken together can perform certain activities. For example, a language can be spoken, a religious practice performed and a tradition sustained only by a group, not by an individual in isolation.
- Thus, linguistic and religious rights are granted only to groups, empowering them, it must be stressed, not to restrict their own members but rather against the threat of interference from other groups.
Minority rights in India
- It is part of middle class common sense that something is deeply flawed with minority rights in India. Every right granted to the minority, they claim, is a privilege unavailable to the majority.
- First, a minority is set apart from the rest, and then it is given what is taken away from the majority. The majority’s loss is the minority’s gain. This, it is felt, is unfair because it creates a blatant inequality between the two.
Democracy Requires Minority Rights
- Democracy requires minority rights equally as it does majority rule. Indeed, as democracy is understood today, the minority’s rights must be protected no matter how alienated a minority is from the majority society; otherwise, the majority’s rights lose their meaning.
- In India, individual liberties, as well as the rights of groups and individual states, are protected through the fundamental Rights.
- Consider the following two arrangements. In the first, a separate entrance to a hall is designed to let in only certain Very Important Persons, the new maharajas and maharanis, so that they are not forced to rub shoulders with ordinary folks.
- The purpose of the second arrangement is entirely different. Here, a separate entrance is required to meet specific needs of persons who are disadvantaged in one way or another: old persons, pregnant women etc.
- By preventing an existing disadvantage from begetting another disadvantage, the second arrangement strengthens equality, helps society to treat everyone as equals. Egalitarian societies cannot tolerate the first arrangement, and cannot do without the second.
- Granting rights to linguistic and religious minorities is not a privilege akin to what the maharajas get in hierarchical societies but an egalitarian response to a potential disadvantage. For example, in Maharashtra, Marathi-speaking people do not need a right to their own language.
- This puts, say, Tamil-speaking residents in Maharashtra at a potential disadvantage because their children may never be able to properly learn their own mother tongue. However, they can demand that in schools run wholly by them, there is no law to prevent them from teaching in their mother tongue. They are only securing for themselves what the majority already has.
- Just as persons with physical disadvantage need a special entrance to be able to do what ordinary persons do routinely, just so numerically smaller and less powerful groups need separate cultural, linguistic and religious rights.
- This gain for the minority is not at the expense of the majority. The minority gains what the majority already has. There is nothing wrong then in minority rights.
Question: Why the presence of minority rights is not the negation of equality but instead a fulfilment of equality?
Novel drug delivery system to kill cancer cells (The Hindu)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the research of novel drug delivery system to kill cancer cells. (GS paper III)
- With population boom and changing lifestyle, the deadly diseases are striking deep roots in India. Among various diseases, cancer has become a big threat to human beings globally. As per Indian population census data, the rate of mortality due to cancer in India was high and alarming.
- According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, on an average, more than 1,300 Indians succumb to the dreaded disease cancer every day, its incidence in India estimated to grow by 25% by 2020.
- Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Pune have successfully developed a novel cancer drug delivery system using Graphene oxide nanoparticles. This research can be big achievement in treating cancer cells, which can result into less mortality.
What is Graphene oxide?
- Graphite oxide is a compound of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen in variable ratios, obtained by treating graphite with strong oxidizers.
- Graphene oxide, a cheaply abundant carbon-based material that can be used for various applications ranging from material science to biomedical research.
About the research
- According to the research, when anticancer drug Cisplatin was added, the Graphene oxide sheets self-assembled into spherical nanoparticles enclosing the drug within, the Cisplatin drug is reacting with Graphene oxide and transforming the Graphene sheet into a ball-like structure, a kind of ‘molecular stitching’. So there is shape-shifting kind of transformation of the Graphene oxide sheets into a spherical structure.
- However two other DNA-damaging anticancer drugs- Proflavine and Doxorubicin, have no role in changing the morphology of Graphene oxide from a sheet to a spherical nanoparticles. The nanoparticles containing Cisplatin alone was able to kill cancer cells, but there is additive effect when two drugs are used together and efficiency of killing the cancer cells becomes better.
- The Cisplatin nanoparticles containing either Proflavine or doxorubicin were found to get into the lysosomes of a cell in a time-dependent manner. Once inside the lysosomes, the drugs were released in a slow and sustained manner and killed the cancer cells predominantly through programmed cell death.
- Biotechnology advances are leading to improved medications that can target diseases more effectively and precisely. Researchers are trying to reformulate drugs so they may be more safely used in specific conditions.
- The more targeted a drug is, the lower its chance of triggering drug resistance. The Graphene oxide-based drug delivery system will be useful for next-generation cancer therapy. The researchers are planning to undertake more studies using other cancer cells to generate more efficacies.
Question: What are the prospects of dedicated drug delivery systems to cure the diseases?
Do transfer of technology in defence benefits India? (GS paper III)
- The importance of developing critical technologies in the defence sector was first highlighted by the committee headed by the then Scientific Advisor (SA) to the Raksha Mantri (RM), Dr Abdul Kalam. The committee, underscored the need to improve India’s self-reliance quotient from 30% in 1992 to 70% by 2005 and also identified critical technologies.
- Since then, a very strong emphasis has been placed by the Government of India (GoI) and the Defence Research and Defence Organisation (DRDO) on the acquisition of these critical technologies.
Reasons for developing indigenous technology
- The reasons for developing such technologies were enumerated as:
1) Immunity against technology denials’,
2) Enabling the pursuit of an independent foreign policy without having to kowtow to global powers.
3) An indigenous technology base provides an impetus for a country’s economic development.
Transfer of Technology
- In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, it appears that the GoI, while communicating the overall objective of achieving self reliance, has accordingly stressed on the acquisition of critical or key technologies through imported Transfers of Technology (ToT) in its successive editions of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)
- While both the Abdul Kalam Committee report and the DPPs stress the importance of holding critical technologies, there is a significant difference between the two. While the committee stresses on developingthem, the DPPs stress on acquiring them through ToT.
- Developingthem would result in the building up of the all important know-whys for design and development in addition to the know-hows for manufacturing.
- Acquiringthem through ToT (especially the licensed manufacture mode mentioned in the DPPs) only provides the know-hows of manufacturing. Hence, while the former leads to capabilities to build an unlimited number of successive upgrades and variants, the latter enables only the limited manufacture of the current version with the added burden of the inevitable dependence on the original vendor for proprietary parts.
- This notwithstanding, one can assert that acquiring the manufacturing technologies of critical subsystems will still benefit the DRDO and enable it to develop systems with greater indigenous content.
- Unfortunately, since the DPP and DPrP do not explain what is considered ‘critical’ technology, there is a void in the understanding of this aspect which even the well informed in the system have been unable to explain.
- We now come to the biggest challenge in acquisition of critical technologies through ToT; competing defence systems of different countries employ technology developed in their country’s R&D eco-system and therefore, may greatly differ from each other.
- There is a need to analyse and understand the true benefits of acquiring of ‘critical technologies’ through ToT. A study of all the contracts in the past 15 years for material benefits gained may shed some light and show the way forward.
- Numerous alternatives such as shifting the critical technologies clause to the offset package, setting clear definitions in the DPP or doing away with the ‘critical’ technology requirement altogether, if it can be directly purchased by DRDO or an Indian firm etc. could then be evaluated for optimal benefits to the acquisition process and the Indian industrial base at large.
Question: What are the different approaches to gain technical know-how for defence purpose? What should be India’s approach?