[Sci-Tech]TheHindu Sep-Oct-Nov(Part 2of4): Agriculture, Public Health, Medical research related

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[Sci-Tech]TheHindu Sep-Oct-Nov(Part 2of4): Agriculture, Public Health, Medical research related

  1. Prologue
  2. Foodcrops related
    1. #1: Trombay Crop varieties
    2. #2: Navara Rice
    3. #3: Rice-Fish-Poultry Integrated Model
  3. Milk/Meat/Fish related:
    1. #1: Poultry Meat to Biodiesel
    2. #2: Sea Ranching
    3. #3: TMR (Total mixed ration)
    4. #4: FMD outbreak in South India
  4. Public Health/Policy related
    1. #1: B.Sc (Community Health)
    2. #2: Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013
    3. #3: Brainmapping, Lie Detection and Narco Analysis
    4. #4: Eye Donation
  5. Disease/Anatomy related
    1. #1: Wifi Pacemaker
    2. #2: Rabies
    3. #3: Kala Azar
    4. #4: Goose bumps
    5. #5: Pediatric TB
  6. Medical research related
    1. Nano capsule vaccine
    2. Regenerative Medicine
    3. 4D printing
    4. In-vivo iPS cell
    5. 3 parent baby
    6. DNA’s half life
  7. Mock Questions


  • In the previous article (part 1 or 3) we saw the environment and biodiversity (EnB) related topics from Sep-Oct-Nov months of TheHindu click me
  • Now (part 2 of 3): time for agriculture and public health related topics.
  • part (3 of 3): dealing with IT, Space and other misc. topics coming soon.

Foodcrops related

#1: Trombay Crop varieties

  • by BARC scientists.
  • Using radiation induced mutation and cross-breeding.
  • Agro. Ministry has permitted their commercial cultivation.
  • In the 70s, BARC started with Trombay Groundnut (TG-1) for Guj-Maharashtra region
Crop No. of Trombay varieties
Groundnut 15- large seeds, drought resistant, no sprouts/germination during storage
Mustard 3
Soya 2-more resistant to bacteria
Sunflower 1
Mooong 8- can survive salinity, disease-resistant, early maturing
Tuvar 4
Urad 5
Chouli 1
Rice 1
Jute 1
Total 41

Benefits: individual crop variety’s feature may vary but by and large…

  • takes less time to mature
  • drought/ pest tolerant
  • longer shelf life

#2: Navara Rice

  • Navara is a medicinal rice variety.
  • Red colored.
  • Grown in Kerala.
  • used in Ayurveda remedies for rheumatisms, neuro muscular disorders and body rejuvenation.
  • enjoys geographical indication (GI) status. (Pokkali rice=another Kerala rice that enjoys GI status=Pokkali rice)
  • but Navara rice cultivation is almost extinct. Why?
    • pure seeds not available
    • low yield, high production cost
  • Now farmers trying to revive this via concept of Navara Eco Farm- with organic farming
  • Pesticides not used. Instead, they plant Tulsi and marigold to repel the insects.

#3: Rice-Fish-Poultry Integrated Model

In this model, farmer uses

% of his land To grow
90% Paddy (rice)
5% Fishes – carp, roghu, cutla etc.
5% Poultry cage. Erected in such a way that one part is over the fishes and one part over the paddy crop. This way, bird dropping help as  fish-feed + farm-manure.


  1. Recycling waste products-using them as fish feed and manure
  2. Additional income from poultry and fishes
  3. bio-control of pests:  fish feed on the pests and insects attacking the rice plant
  4. Similar triple-income model can also be constructed with silkworm rearing, or apiary.

Madurai malli

  • Flower in TN
  • Enjoys GI status (click me for earlier article)
  • Why in news? Because they’re looking for exprort potential in Malaysia
  • Problem: rainfall scarcity, Labor shortage because of MNREGA,

Cotton Duty

(Although not really a sci-tech topic)

  • Currently, duty-free cotton exports are permitted (after registering contracts with the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).
  • Textile minister wants to impose 10% duty on overseas sale of cotton.
  • But Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said “not a good idea sir-ji”
  • Reasons:
    • India’s cotton production has been increasing every year.
    • In such a situation, there should be no restrictions on export of raw cotton and no duty on export.
    • any quantitative restriction or export duty would penalise farmers

Milk/Meat/Fish related:

#1: Poultry Meat to Biodiesel

  • Namakkal district of TN= leading producer of poultry. (for more on [food processing] click me)
  • Avg. 4000 birds die here every day and discarded in the open=>foul smell, contamination of ground water, health hazards, house flies and diseases.
  • Now a TN researcher designed method to extract bio-diesel out of dead poultry.
  • Each dead chicken weighs about 1.5 kg and ~15% of its body has fat.
  • Using solvent extraction method, we can extract this fat and turn it  into body diesel. This way six birds=1 litre of bio-diesel. This bio-diesel can be blended with regular diesel in 20:80 ratio and can be used in regular vehicles.

#2: Sea Ranching

  • Sea ranching is a process of releasing artificially cultured juvenile fishes into the sea or estuarine waters=> let them mature=>fishing.
  • can be used for shrimps, sea cucumber, sea urchin, variety of fishes.
  • New sea ranching project in Kozikode- 4 lakh larvae of  tiger prawns released.
  • This would help inland fishermen of the district- who are negatively affected by overfishing practices and climatic changes
  • “Economies” of sea ranching=> 4 lakh larvae = only 20% survive= 1,600 kg of prawn, and at an average Rs.250 a kg, this will amount to Rs.3 lakh to Rs.4 lakh in returns.

#3: TMR (Total mixed ration)

  • New type of cheap cattle feed being tested in Kerala.
  • Uses mixture of ground nuts, sesame, red gram, molasses, toxin binder, salt and vitamin mineral mixtures.
  • Cheaper than commercial feeds
  • Can also be given to goats, sheep etc.
  • Reduces the green fodder requirement
  • Increases milk output.

#4: FMD outbreak in South India

  • In [Food Processing] Milk sector article, we’ve already seen “theory” Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) and how it affects the supply line of milk/meat industry. click me
  • FMD is in news because of outbreak reported in Andhra.
  • There are four type of FMD virus: A, C, O and Asia1.
  • Indian cattle is given vaccines against all these FMD viruses- twice a year.
  • Sheep and goats (cloven hoofed animals) are also susceptible to the FMD viral disease.
  • FMD is not a public health hazard. It doesn’t spread to humans.

Public Health/Policy related

#1: B.Sc (Community Health)

  • Union cabinet approved this new degree course.
  • 3 years course in state university => Community health officer under health ministry.
  • Syllabus designed by National Board of Examinations (NBE). (and not the medical council of India MCI)
  • Will help in: diarrhea, pneumonia, vaccination, TB, fever, skin infection, normal delivery etc.
  • will act as a bridge between village midwife/ASHA work vs a doctor
Opposition Why?
MBBS lobby
  1. Course Syllabus not designed by MCI= such graduates cannot be expected to provide professional diagnosis and treatment.
  2. This B.Sc course will create two tiers of medical professionals.
parliamentary standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare
  1. these half-baked doctors will endanger the lives of the patients.
  2. Instead of such fancy new courses- better make it mandatory for new MBBS to serve in rural areas for the first few years.
  3. 12th FYP already proposed setting up medical colleges in every district. So doctor shortage will be removed soon, then why are you making new degree?

#2: Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013

  • By Department of Pharmaceutics under ministry of Chemical and fertilizer. (and not health ministry).
  • To fix ceiling price of essential medicines on the basis of market-based pricing.
  • DPCO 2013 empowers the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (“NPPA”) to regulate prices of 348 essential drugs.


  • Make a list of all pharma companies – with marketshare of atleast 1% or more.
  • observe their prices for given drug-
  • take simple average of those prices
  • +local taxes and 16% profit margin for retail chemist.
  • Decide ceiling price based on that.

Sounds well and good, what’s the problem?

  1. Patented drugs not covered. So most of the MNC pharma brands are out of the scope.
  2. AYUSH drugs are not covered.
  3. Only applies to 348 drugs. There are total ~900 allopathic drugs in India.
  4. Companies can still evade price ceiling by adding / changing a few ingredients in their drug formulation.
  5. Doesn’t not apply to newly patented within India (for first five years). =companies might file frivolous patents by slightly modifying existing mixtures-to evade price ceiling.
  6. Even within ceiling, Doctors can still prescribe most expensive variety of drug and patient will buy it. (and doctor mints commission from pharma company.)

Anyways, but why in News?

  • become Some NGO filed court case- alleging that
  • DPCO encourages profiteering. Government prince regime guided by market-driven forces= bad idea.
  • National List of Essential Drugs consists of only 348 drugs and left out many essential medicines from price control.

Drugs in news (DIN?)

  • Cadila’s new New drug
  • For non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
  • Price: 40000 for 10 injections (still cheaper than its rival “Avastin” by Roche  pharma.)
  • Got permission from to sell in India
Metformin used for treatment of type II diabetes.

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