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EDITORIAL DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS-4th March

Ethics/ Science & Technology/ Essay(GS- 4, GS- 3 )

 

TOPIC-New Science, Ethical Dilemmas

Author: – Peter Ronald Desouza

 

Advances Of Science

  • There have been such fascinating developments in science and in technology, such as in artificial intelligence.
  • But these have merely been reported and then have quietly faded from public view.
  • In India, such advances of science and technology get adopted without even a boo.
  • The election cycle, a low hanging fruit, dominates our attention.
  • This makes us resistant to the complex ethical questions that result from advances in science and technology!

Xenotransplantation

  • This is any procedure that involves the transplantation, implantation or infusion into a human recipient of Either

(a) Live cells, tissues, or organs from a non human animal source.

(b) Human body fluids, cells, tissues or organs that have had ex vivo contact with live non human animal cells, tissues or organs.

  • The development of xenotransplantation is, in part, driven by the fact that the demand for human organs for clinical transplantation far exceeds the supply.

Direction of Medical Science

  • The First case comes from a successful experiment, in September 2021, at the NYU Langone hospital in New York.
  • A medical team there attached a kidney from a gene-edited animal to a person declared brain dead.
  • Purpose was to see if the animal kidney was able to do the job of processing waste and producing urine.
  • In the United States there are apparently 90,000 persons waiting for a kidney transplant!
  • This successful experiment would go some way towards meeting that need.

Some More Discoveries

  • The second case, reported on January 14, 2022, is from the University of Maryland where a team of doctors used the heart of an animal.
  • It had genetically modified features, as a replacement heart on a patient who had run out of available options.
  • This is a game changer because now we will have these organs readily available and the technique of genetically modifying them.
  • We can thereby customize the heart or the organ for the patient.

Organ Farms

  • A doctor in Germany, who has been working in the area of xenotransplants, plans to develop a farm to cultivate genetically modified organs.
  • In his view, this will ease the pressure on the medical system.
  • In Germany alone there are 8,500 patients waiting for organ transplants.
  • In all three cases the animal from which the tissue or organ had been taken was the pig.
  • It is regarded by medical science as the animal whose organs are currently best suited for humans.

Moral & Social Issues

  • In India these developments carry an additional sting.
  • Should we discuss them or, given that they involve community sensibilities?
  • Are we obliged to discuss them, because Article 51A of the Constitution requires us “to develop scientific temper”, or can we ignore them?
  • The animal rights movement has objected to these advances in medical science, of xenotransplantation, because it ignores the rights of animals.
  • They are hostile to the idea of animal farms with genetically modified animals for the purpose of harvesting organs for humans requiring transplant.
  • Animals, they argue, also have rights and it is our moral responsibility to support these rights.

Questions to Ponder About

  • The animal rights perspective places on us the classic utilitarian dilemma of whether it is better to kill an animal and save a human.
  • In a society where the pig is considered a dirty animal, where eating pork is considered disgusting what should the medical fraternity do?
  • In India, such questions do not even enter the portals of regulatory bodies such as ICMR.
  • Should a person be allowed to die since their belief system forbids them to have anything to do with a pig?

Question Framed From Editorial

  • What is Xenotransplantation? In context of a Conservative Society in India, enumerate some ethical dilemmas for the medical fraternity associated to this process? (250 Words)

 

 Government Policies (GS 2 & GS 3) 

TOPIC-The Only Fuel

 

Author: – Narendra Pai, Ashok Sreenivas and Ann Josey

 

Swachh Indhan Behtar Jeevan

  • In May 2016, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, introduced the ‘Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana’ (PMUY) .
  • Lunched as a flagship scheme with an objective to make clean cooking fuel such as LPG available to the rural and deprived households.
  • Who were otherwise using traditional cooking fuels such as firewood, coal.
  • The scheme was launched on 1st May 2016 in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh

Concerns

  • Even after more than Rs 12,000 crore was spent on near universal access to LPG connections.
  • It is estimated that about 6 lakh people die every year due to air pollution in Indian kitchens.
  • Over half of rural India continues to primarily rely on burning solid fuels for cooking.
  • Sustained use of LPG would need investments towards increasing affordability, behaviour change, and quality of supply and service.
  • Rising domestic LPG prices, removal of subsidies, unending distress owing to the pandemic have squeezed the pockets of low and middle-income households.

Electricity as An Alternative?

  • Electricity may not be an immediately viable alternative.
  • Households that got electricity connections under the rural electrification schemes have a maximum connected load of 500W.
  • However even if houses shift to cooking food through induction stoves, they are rated at typically more than 1500W.
  • If a sizeable number of homes move to electric cooking, there will be significant issues in reliability of supply due to distribution transformer failures.
  • Affordability is another issue to be factored in.
  • The requirements of a rural household are usually met within 100 units/month.

Piped Natural Gas as an Alternative?

  • Piped natural gas (PNG) could be an alternative to LPG in densely populated urban areas in the coming years.
  • But it is not designed to supplement the cooking needs of rural India as network expansion costs could be prohibitive.
  • Even if this is addressed, India has limited reserves of natural gas.
  • Therefore, large-scale usage of PNG would require imports which would make PNG unaffordable.

Way Forward

  • The outlay for LPG direct benefit transfers has come down from about Rs 31,400 crore in 2018-19 to only Rs 4,000 crore in the budget for 2022-23.
  • Pre-election promises in some states to supply free LPG cylinders seem to acknowledge LPG affordability as an issue.
  • Therefore, a coherent, targeted approach backed by requisite financial and institutional support is desirable.
  • It will be prudent to resume LPG subsidies and rationalize them.
  • In addition, revising LPG prices could be limited to twice in a year to provide price certainty in the context of volatile oil markets.

Question Framed From Editorial

  • The Ambitious PMUY has not met the desired outcomes for which it was launched. Critically Evaluate (250 words)

 

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