THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 13 October 2018 (Major mission to sequence genes of Indians planned)

Major mission to sequence genes of Indians planned 

Mains Paper: 3 | Science and Technology 
Prelims level: STIAC
Mains level: Mission to sequence genes


  • India is planning a major mission to sequence the genes of a “large” group of Indians.
  • It’s a kin to projects in the United Kingdom, China, Japan and Australia  and use this to improve health as well as buck a global trend of designing ‘personalised medicine.’ 
  • This was among the key decisions taken at the 1st Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (STIAC) in its first meeting on Tuesday. 
  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Department of Biotechnology would be closely associated with the project.

Important highlights of the project 

  • The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in 2009 announced that it had sequenced the genome of an Indian, then making India one of six countries to achieve such a feat, several research labs have analysed genes from Indians for disease susceptibility. 
  • However, no compendium of genes that differentiate Indian populations from, say Caucasian or African genomes exist. 
  • A group of Indian scientists and companies are involved with a 100k Genome Asia project, led out of the National Technological University (NTU), Singapore, to sequence the whole genomes of 100k Asians, including 50,000 Indians.
  • Our lifestyle, our environment and the genes we inherit all combine to make us what we are. 
  • The diversity of Indians and of our environment requires a large-scale study of human genomes, of our lifestyle in health and disease and the use of healthy and disease samples to understand the impact on health.

Way forward 

  • Principal Scientific Adviser and Chair of the Council, K. Vijay Raghavan, said the genome initiative will have to move at two different levels. 
  • Sequencing genomes and linking to human health and disease as a research initiative, and doing this on a much larger scale, so it has a direct impact on public health. As the first level starts, the second will be put in place, speedily.
  • The Council acts as a coordinator between several ministries to work on projects and missions and is scheduled to meet once a month.
  • Key programmes, such as a Deep Ocean Mission, to facilitate ocean science and technologies to help with India’s strategic interests and an Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing missions were also discussed.

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General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

UPSC Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) With reference to Biopiracy, consider the following statements:
1. It is unauthorised use of biological reserve by entities outside a country which has pre-existing knowledge of rare biological reserves.
2. It is linked only to drug research and development.
Select the correct answer using code given below.
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: A

UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1) Why India is planning for sequence of genes mission? What is the relevance to it?