Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 26 July 2023

Centre withdraws DNA Bill

GS Paper - 3 (Biotechnology)

The Union government withdrew the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019, from the Lok Sabha. First proposed in 2003, the Bill has gone through numerous changes, led by both the Department of Biotechnology and the Law Ministry, over the years. In 2019, it was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee after being introduced in the Lok Sabha. Two years later, the panel’s report was released, in which it highlighted the fears of a number of MPs, saying the Bill could be misused to target segments of society based on religioncaste or political views.

What is the Bill?

  • The Bill seeks to create a regulatory framework for obtaining, storing and testing DNA samples of human beings, mainly for the purposes of criminal investigations, and with the objective of establishing the identity of a person.
  • DNA testing is already being used for a variety of purposes, such as criminal investigationsestablishment of parentage, and search for missing people.
  • The proposed law seeks to bring in a supervisory structure to oversee these practices, and frame guidelines and rules so that the DNA technology is not misused.
  • To achieve these objectives, the Bill proposes to set up two institutional structures — a DNA regulatory board and a DNA data bank — at the national levelRegional centres of the board as well as the data bank can be set up at the state level too.
  • The board, which is proposed to be the main regulatory authority, would frame the rules and guidelines for DNA collection, testing and storage, while the data bank would be the repository of all DNA samples collected from various people under specified rules.
  • The Bill proposes that testing of DNA samples can be carried out only at laboratories that are authorised to do so by the regulatory board.
  • It also specifies the circumstances under which a person can be asked to submit DNA samples, the purposes for which such requests can be made, and the exact procedure for handling, storing and accessing these samples.

What are the objections against the Bill?

  • The main debate over the proposed law has been around three issues — whether DNA technology is foolproof, whether the provisions adequately address the possibility of abuse of DNA information, and whether the privacy of the individual is protected.
  • DNA information can be extremely revelatory. It can not only establish a person’s identity but also reveal a lot about physical and biological attributes of the person like eyehair or skin coloursusceptibility to diseases, possible medical history, and possible clues to biological relatives.
  • For years, critics of the Bill have been claiming that collecting and storing such intrusive information could lead to abuse, besides being violative of a person’s privacy.

What has the government said?

  • The government has defended the Bill by arguing that nearly 60 countries have enacted similar legislation and that all important matters related to privacyconfidentiality and data protection have been taken into account.
  • It has also claimed that very limited information is proposed to be stored in the indices — just 17 sets of numbers out of billions that DNA samples can reveal. These can tell nothing about the individual and only act as a unique identifier.


Parliamentary panel's nod for inter-services organisations bill

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

As India gets set to create unified theatre commands for integrated war-fighting machinery in a cost-effective manner, a parliamentary panel has approved the proposed law to empower military commanders of all tri-service organisations with full administrative and disciplinary powers. Agreeing with the provisions of The Inter-Services Organisations (Command, Control & Discipline) Bill, 2023, which was introduced in Lok Sabha on 15 March, the parliamentary standing committee on defence recommended the bill be passed “without any amendments” and enacted as a statute.

More about the Bill

  • The enactment of the bill will herald greater integration and jointmanship in inter-services organisations (ISOs) and establishments, the committee said.
  • India was once again resolutely working towards the creation of integrated theatre commands (ITCs) – which stalled after the first chief of defence staff Gen Bipin Rawat’s death in a helicopter crash in December 2021 -- after achieving a “consensus” among the Army, Navy and IAF.
  • This most radical military reorganization since Independence will see two “adversary-specific” ITCs -- one for the northern borders with China at Lucknow and the other for the western front with Pakistan at Jaipur.
  • Then there will be the Maritime Theatre Command (MTC) at Karwar in coastal Karnataka for the Indian Ocean Region as well as the larger Indo-Pacific.

Why this legislation?

  • The proposed legislation will ensure the requisite command and control of the existing ISOs such as the regional Andaman Nicobar Command and the functional Strategic Forces Command as well as the impending ITCs.
  • The new law will “empower” the government to constitute ISOs as well the commander-in-chief of an ISO to maintain discipline and ensure proper discharge of duties of all the personnel from the Army, Navy and IAF serving under his command.
  • At present, military personnel are governed by different acts and rules of their own respective services. These are the Army Act, 1950, the Air Force Act, 1950, and the Navy Act, 1957.
  • Consequently, personnel serving in ISOs currently have to be sent back to their parent service for disciplinary or administrative action.
  • Once the theatre commands are in place, they will take over the “operational role” of the single-service commands under them.


  • At present, India has as many as 17 single-service commands (Army 7, IAF 7 and Navy 3), which have very little synergy in planning, logistics and operations.
  • China, in contrast, re-organised its 2.3-million People’s Liberation Army into five theatre commands in early-2016 to boost offensive capabilities and establish better command-and-control structures.
  • Its Western Theatre Command, for instance, handles the entire 3,488-km Line of Actual Control from eastern Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh. India, in contrast, has four Army and three IAF commands for the northern borders with China.


World in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) Day

GS Paper - 3 (Biotechnology)

World IVF Day is observed every year on 25 July to commemorate the birth of the first test tube baby – Louise Brown – who was born on this day in 1978 through the in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) technique. This day celebrates the hope and joy that IVF has brought to millions of couples facing infertility challenges globally.

More about the day

  • Also known as World Embryologist Day, it serves as a reminder of the groundbreaking advancements in fertility treatments – giving hope to those longing for parenthood.
  • It raises awareness about infertility issues, encourages open conversations and reduces the stigma around seeking fertility assistance.
  • In 1978Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe achieved a milestone by successfully helping a woman give birth to the world’s first test tube baby.
  • Till date, IVF remains one of the most effective and widely used assisted reproductive technologies.
  • The name of the first Indian test tube baby is Kanupriya Agarwal (Durga) who was born on 3 October 1978.
  • Late Dr. Subhash Mukherjee was the first-ever person in India and the second in the world to create a baby through the IVF procedure.

What is IVF?

  • IVF involves the fertilisation of eggs outside the body, where mature eggs are retrieved from the ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory setting.
  • The resulting embryos are then carefully monitored for a few days before being transferred back into the uterus, with the aim of achieving a successful pregnancy.

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