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13th July Current Affairs

NITI Aayog’s role in ensuring collaboration between states and centre

(GS-II: Statutory, executive, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies and their functions, NITI Ayog etc)

In News:

Since its inception in 2015, NITI Aayog has been instrumental in promoting competitive and cooperative federalism.


NITI Aayog organizes the annual meeting of the Governing Council (GC) under the leadership of the PM, which brings together chief ministers/Lieutenant-governors of the states/UTs to discuss inter-sectoral, inter-departmental and federal issues to accelerate the implementation of the National Development Agenda.

As a run-up to the 2022 GC meeting, the first National Conference of Chief Secretaries was held in Dharamshala from June 15-17.

Seven Propositions by NITI Ayog:

Growth led by states/UTs: India’s growth is that of its states and UTs. As custodians of regional policy and prime executors of development programmes, states are the Indian economy’s growth drivers.

Income convergence: To achieve greater socio-economic cohesion within the country, achieving income convergence across states must be a policy priority.

Social indicators: In addition to income growth, performance on social indicators is a sound metric for assessing a state’s performance.

Social outcomes are de-linked from income in several states. Mizoram’s performance on the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is one example.

Growth from the grassroots level: We must focus on ensuring that growth originates from the grassroots while addressing significant inter-state and inter-district variations.

Better urbanization: Better managed urbanization is crucial. Cities face challenges such as affordable housing, water supply and waste management.

NITI Ayog as an intermediary: Several best practices are already being implemented by states across India. NITI Aayog must act as an intermediary between the Centre and states to ensure cross-sharing of these best practices, insights and perspectives.

Some areas that merit particular focus are the use of advanced technology using blockchain and AI, development of social registry, reducing compliance burden, implementation of PM Gati Shakti, decriminalization of minor offences and simplification of laws and processes to enhance ease of doing business.

Tackling climate change: The challenge of climate change is upon us. The world has so far witnessed two models of development— the Industrial Revolution and the rise of East Asia. Both depended on cheap, fossil-fuel energy. India aspires to grow equally fast but is now subject to a carbon constraint.

The 1st image from NASA’s James Webb

(GS-III: Awareness in space)

In News:

The first image from NASA’s new space telescope offers the deepest look of the cosmos ever captured.

About James Webb:

Infrared observatory that will be much more powerful than the presently deployed Hubble space telescope.

JSWT will observe in near-infrared light rather than light in the visible part of the spectrum (unlike Hubble) and thus it will have a much greater capacity to see obscure stars and galaxies

Collaboration: It is a joint venture of NASA (US), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada)

Webb was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope” (NGST) and it was renamed in 2002 after a former NASA administrator, James Webb.

Significance of new Astronomical discoveries:

Provides a look into the past: Part of the image is light from not too long after the Big Bang, which was 8 billion years ago.

James Webb can see backwards in time to just after the Big Bang by looking for galaxies that are so far away that the light has taken many billions of years to get from those galaxies to our telescopes

JSWT has the largest mirror in space and it will look deeper into the universe – and thus further back in time – than is possible with a presently deployed telescope such as Hubble

Decipher mysteries of the Universe: Mysteries such as what made the universe expand so quickly less than a nanosecond after the Big Bang

Explore the Dark Age of the Universe: The Dark Ages is the period before gravity formed the first stars and galaxies that eventually began to emit the first light.

Understand the formation of the planetary system and look for signs of life on exoplanets: JSWT can achieve it with much greater accuracy owing to its large mirror and superior Infrared Spectrograph instrument.

India’s demography at crossroads: Elderly may outnumber the youth

(GS-II: Issues related to poverty and population, demography etc.)

In News:

The population share of the youth is starting to taper off as the share of the elderly is expected to steadily surge during 2021-2036.


The world Population prospects are released by the UN Department of Economics and Social Affairs(UNDESA).

Key Findings in the report:

Decrease in youth population: Youth in the age group of 15-29 years comprise 27.2 per cent of the population for 2021, which is expected to decrease to 27.2 by 2036.

The more populous states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, which experienced a rise in the proportion of youth population to total population till 2021, are expected to see a decline from hereon, according to the ‘Youth in India 2022’ report released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

States such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh are projected to see a higher elderly population than the youth by 2036.

Bihar and Uttar Pradesh along with Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, are projected to have over half (52 per cent) of the country’s youth,” the report said.

Fluctuation in population growth: The total youth population is projected to reach around 37cr by 2021 and, thereafter, decrease.

Increase in elderly population for some states: For Kerala, which saw the youth population peak earlier than other states, the elderly population share in the total population has been projected at 16.5 per cent compared with 22.1 per cent of the youth population in 2021.

Demographic Dividend:

According to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), demographic dividend means, “the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population’s age structure, mainly when the share of the working-age population (15 to 64) is larger than the non-working-age share of the population (14 and younger, and 65 and older)”.

10 years of CRISPR Gene editing

(GS-III: Science and Technology- Biotech)

In News:

10 years back in 2012, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier published their finding that CRISPR-Cas9 could be programmed with RNA to edit genomic DNA, now considered one of the most significant discoveries in the history of biology.


CRISPR-Cas9: Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats Associated protein 9

CRISPR gene editingis a genetic engineering technique by which the genomes of living organisms may be modified.

It is based on a simplified version of the bacterial CRISPR-Cas9 antiviral defence system. By delivering the Cas9 enzyme with a synthetic guide RNA (gRNA) into a cell, the cell’s genome can be cut at the desired location. (see diagram)

A genome is the complete set of genetic information in an organism. The genome is stored in long molecules of DNA called chromosomes.

Other Genome editing systems include TALENs, Zinc-Finger Nucleases etc.

Interpol’s ICSE initiative on child sex abuse

In News:

India’s Central Bureau of Investigation has joined Interpol’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) initiative that will allow it to collaborate with investigators in other countries for detecting child sexual abuse online and identifying abusers, victims, and crime scenes from audio-visual clips using specialised software.


The ICSE database uses video and image comparison to analyse Child Sex Exploitation Material (CSEM) and make connections between victims, abusers and places.

Avoids duplications and enables collaboration: The database avoids duplication of effort and saves precious time by letting investigators know whether a series of images have already been discovered or identified in another country, or whether it has similar features to other images.

Statistics show that in India, every 155 minutes, a child under 16 years of age is raped. Parents of sexually abused children are scared to tell anyone due to fear of being shamed in society.

Previously, CBI had set up ‘Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention/Investigation (OCSAE) unit for using CSEM data.