Categories
Develpoment

A Light on Gene Editing

The human body is an amazingly complex structure, consisting of several
biological organ systems working together carrying out specific functions
necessary for survival. The proper working of these systems of the living body either directly or indirectly depends on the correct expression of the genomic sequences. Any modifications or mutations in these gene sequences are emphasized in the functioning of the consecutive cells, eventually affecting the phenotype of the organism.

What does a Gene mean?

A gene is the basic physical and functional unit of heredity, composed of DNA. In humans, approximately 20,000 genes are arranged peculiarly in the chromosomes. Their expression governs the phenotype of an organism. That indicates, to obtain a desired trait in an organism, gene editing is an impactful weapon.

Let’s gain an understanding of Gene Editing!

Gene editing is looked upon with great interests when it comes to the prevention and treatment of human diseases. Establishment of genetic engineering megaproject, created the possibility to isolate and clone any piece of DNA and enhanced the availability of easier and fastest techniques for determining DNA sequences. A very ambitious project of sequencing the human genome was launched in the year 1990. This Human Genome Project (HGP) was called a megaproject. It was a 13- year project coordinated by the U.S Department of Energy and The National Institute of Health, got completed in 2003. This project has cast the backbone for successful gene-editing.

From Research Perspective:

Knowledge about the effects of DNA variations among individuals can lead to revolutionary new ways to diagnose, treat, and someday prevent the thousands of disorders that affect human beings. Thus gene or genome editing forms a very significant area of research in recent times.
Several approaches to genome editing have been developed. A recent one is known as CRISPR-Cas9 which is short for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats associated with protein 9, which has generated a lot of excitement in the scientific community because it is faster, cheaper, more accurate, and efficient than other existing genome editing methods. Ethical issues arise while using CRISPR because it is used to alter human genomes. It may cause cells to lose their cancer-fighting ability, and that it was way more detrimental to genes than before. Thus are currently made illegal in many countries.

In conclusion :

At present time, genome editing is done primarily to understand and tackle the disease causing reasons using cells and animal models for study. Though critics warn against the unpredictable impact on human health and the environment, preliminary results from one of the earliest clinical trials of CRISPR-Cas9 have provided the evidence for the technique being safe and feasible for treating human diseases. As a result, vast new horizons have opened up in genetic engineering which has significantly decreased the human mortality rate and enhanced the research advancement.

Categories
General Governmental

To the People, By the People…

Democracy– a word, greatly dealing with the voice for people. Yes! It is a form of government in which a nation’s people have the authority to choose their governing constitution. The term “democracy” first appeared in ancient Greek political and philosophical thought in the city-state of Athens during classical antiquity. It comprises demos, “commonpeople” and Kratos i.e. “strength“. It was first practiced in Greece; led by Cleisthenes, Athenians established what is generally held as the first democracy in 508–507 BC.
Direct democracy and Representative democracy is undertaking the ruling world. Let’s get a few insights on both the terms.

Direct Democracy

Direct democracy, known as pure democracy, pledges direct rights to the nation’s people for deciding the ruling government’s laws and policy initiatives, instead of the representatives who are elected by the government. People individually cast their votes. Even minorities too can choose without any discrimination thereby assuring that each person in the country directly influences the policymaking process.

While tracing the ancient times, Athens Greece, had the existence of direct democracy but with discrimination. They excluded women, slaves, and foreigners from participating in the Athenian democratic system. It is required for all citizens to take a vote on major issues.

“Athenian demcracy” consisted of three parts:

  • the general assembly, composed of citizens;
  • the boulê, which was composed of 500 citizens in charge of the functioning of the city; and
  • the law courts, which is in charge of all the crimes.

Under their system, citizens were actively and constantly involved in the running of political life. Additionally, the verdict of every single court case was even decided by a vote of the assembly.
Direct democracy is a special feature of Switzerland’s political system that has a distinct scenario. It has a semi-direct democratic federal republic in which it can refuse if put to a public vote. Moreover, citizens can change any policies through a direct vote on an amendment.

As with the system of government, there are many pros and cons with direct democracy which must be considered while choosing. A few of them are given below-

Pros of Direct Democracy

1- Every vote count- In a direct democracy every vote counts! Even though decisions are based on a majority vote, yet people have the freedom to choose their representatives. This makes people get involved in political activities and perceptions about the issues prevailing.

2- Transparency- There is full government transparency in a direct democracy. That is, the government should provide complete and accurate data of everything that takes place to ensure the proper cooperation between the nation’s people and their government.

3- Happy society- A direct democracy brings up a happy society because the government is made by citizen’s choice. They know that the elected officials will bring benefits that every person needs.

4- Immediate recall- The government officials can be replaced immediately if their actions are not fulfilled or considered as illegal. The officials must be honest while dealing with the policies because the power is with the people rather than officials.

Cons of Direct Democracy

1- Difficult in making decisions- In a direct democracy, decision making becomes difficult because while putting any decision into action, the officials should make sure that their policies are for the betterment of society instead of troubling people.

2- Irregularity in regime- There is an irregularity in governing because, if the citizens feel any discomfort or lawlessness in a ruling, they change the representatives. So, there is no security and continuity in electing, and quick changes are made in direct democracy.

3- Dawdling in the progress of a country- Direct democracy sometimes makes it slow down in the development of a country. Making decisions is not easy and quick. If the government is held by a single person, it would be easy to make it quick and expendable. This makes delay in bringing out valuable reformation.

4- Does not work in a large country- Direct democracy promotes public involvement. So, there is a large number of suggestions and ideas to bring out. Therefore, it is difficult to make decisions selecting from each and every person.
Representative Democracy

Understanding democracy and it’s policies should be implemented, as the political community tends to change. The second type of democracy is Representative Democracy known as Indirect Democracy. Being the opposite of direct democracy here, people elect their dignitary on behalf of the government. People themselves vote on every law and policy at each level of ruling government. It is applicable mainly in larger countries.

“Representative democracy” stands out in sharp contrast to forms of government such as totalitarianism, authoritarianism, and fascism; which allow the people- little to no elected representation. The Roman Republic is the world’s first known representative government to rule.

Representative democracies are much more prevalent and varied than direct democracy, still not forbidden of pros and cons. Let’s put a light on some:

Pros of Representative Democracy

1- Well organized- Representative democracy is well organized and efficient. The authoritative body controls all laws and drafts all-important policies and laws. So, there will be not any misinterpretations of matters.

2- Sophisticated civilian depiction- Through this, the civilian can voice out their wishes and opinions. Therefore, if they find any hardships, they can make their representatives act on it on behalf of them.

3- Exhilarates voters- When people come to know they are a part of selection; they keep in touch with the issues happening around them resulting in an increase in the number of voters. Thus, representative democracy encourages people.

4- Symmetrical declaration- Representative democracy comes up with well-balanced decisions since the authority is capable of bringing out compatible results.

Cons of Representative Democracy

1-Majority wins- Unlike direct democracy, representative democracy focuses primarily on the majority and is favored maximally while  minorities’ problems are left untouched here.

2- Not always serves sovereignty- Sometimes representatives may not be able to serve their jurisdiction because of their low income. Also, there are circumstances when the majority doesn’t stand with the elected opinions.

3- Convincing communication proficiency- A good representative results in a good communication relationship with the citizens. Occasionally, the ruling governor travels on the national level to bring new changes, resulting in a gap of contact with the constituents.

4- Mislaid trust- While choosing, people should put all their trust in their representatives. They cannot assure you about what happens next. Sometimes the authority might not fulfill the services they promised to do. So, there comes a trust issue between people and the authority in a representative democracy.

There are no perfect democracies. Each has its own strong and weak points. It’s the people and their authorities who make it better and sound. Democracy should always result in ‘by the people, and for the people‘. It only succeeds when such complementarity does not exist, the democratic principles of tolerance and negotiation allow for the possibility of reform. Citizens’ voices always matter!

Categories
Humanities Politics

Is Right to Information our fundamental right?

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Every citizen of India, regardless of the caste, sex, age, religion, etc., is bestowed upon with some fundamental rights by the Constitution. These rights are necessary for the liberty of an individual. Apart from these, we are also provided with some additional rights that are equally important which are later included to be a part of these rights. The Right to Information (RTI) is one such right that is provided to every Indian citizen. 

Now, what is this Right to Information? Let us understand this in brief. The Right to Information passed under the Right to Information Act of 2005, is a legal right added as part of the fundamental rights under Article 19 (1) which states the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression; and Article 21 that talks about the Right to Life. This act was enacted to promote transparency and accountability of the public authority in India.

The Right to Information empowers the citizens of a nation to seek any information from the government, inspect any Government documents, and seek certified photocopies thereof. It also empowers citizens to officially inspect any governmental work. This act allows Indian citizens to demand information from the government, making it more accountable. The government must come up with an accurate response in the form of a written document within 30 days of the RTI application.

However, there are some reasonable restrictions regarding the same. Such information including secrecy or confidential information of national importance which cannot be disclosed no matter the situation, does not entertain RTI. Section 123, 124, and 162 of the Constitution prohibits disclosing such confidential matters publicly. Besides, information under the Official Secrets Act is strictly prohibited as it pertains to national security.

To get a better glimpse of this act read this detailed article. To learn how to apply RTI, the process and steps to be followed, visit this link of the Government of India. You can also find previous case studies for your reference on the above link.

Categories
Lifestyle

“IKIGAI”- The purpose of life

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Every day we wake up, perform our daily chores, and at the end of the day we lie down to sleep and this is a never-ending cycle. We tend to not think of the purpose of our lives or the reason for our being. Even if we think about this, we don’t simply stumble upon the answers because we generally tend to push these thoughts away, not wanting them to linger around too much.

“IKIGAI” – the Japanese content of life, answers these questions for us. Ikigai (pronounced Ick-ee-guy), is our raison d’être or the happiness in our day-to-day life. The happiness in doing our chores, the happiness in our personal and professional lives. It means encompassing joy with a sense of the meaning of life and the feeling of well being. It is the passion and talent within us that motivates us to give our best in everything we do.

Ikigai revolves around what we love, what we are good at, what the world needs from us, and helps find the purpose of life with these questions. According to the concept of Ikigai, our belief and thinking determine the purpose of our life. Ikigai inspires us to find the flow in everything we do, accepting the setbacks, and moving forward with the lessons from those setbacks. It believes in living an unhurried life, cultivating good habits, being optimistic, and most importantly reconnecting with nature. It wants us to surround ourselves with people who find happiness in inspiring us, nurturing friendships that last forever.

“Ikigai”, is thus, a positive attitude towards life. It is a way of discovering the best in ourselves, a path that leads us towards the purpose of our life while accepting the ‘wabi-sabi’ or the imperfections of life. ‘Live in the moment and follow your own Ikigai’ for a happy and meaningful life.

Categories
Greek Literature Literature

Greek Mythology – Fuel to Ignite Imaginations

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Greek mythology was originally told by Ancient Greeks as a part of Greek folklore. It began in the Bronze Age. Around 700 BC, the poet Hesiod’s Theogony offered the first written origin story of Greek mythology. These stories generally revolve around the origin and the nature of the world, the lives of the deities, heroes, mythological creatures, and the significance of the ancient Greek’s cultures, rituals, and religion. These mythical stories were initially propagated in an oral-poetic tradition.

Greek Mythology was mainly used to explain the environment in which mankind lived and the natural phenomena that they witnessed. It also advised on the best ways to lead a happy life. And finally, myths were used to re-tell historical events so that people could go back to their ancestors, the wars they fought, and the places they explored.

The main themes dominating the Greek mythology are the Wars – an inevitable part of existence; love – as examples of loyalty, trust, and eternal love; heroes – depicting marvelous achievements of virtue, strength, and honor; underworld – an expression of cultures of death; and the Mortality and Fate – representing visions of right and wrong behavior along with the repercussions.

Hesiod’s Theogony tells the story of the universe’s journey from nothingness, to a detailed and elaborate family tree of elements, Gods and Goddesses, who evolved and descended from Gaia (Earth), Ouranos (Sky), Pontos (Sea), and Tartaros (the Underworld). Later Greek writers have used this information and elaborated upon these sources in their works.

At the heart of Greek mythology is the pantheon of deities who were said to live on Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece. From there, they ruled every aspect of human life. The Gods and Goddesses looked like normal men and women but could morph themselves into animals and other things, meaning they could perform metamorphosis. The 12 main Olympians are:

  • Zeus (the king of all gods, the god of weather);
  • Hera (queen of all gods and goddess of marriage);
  • Aphrodite (goddess of beauty and love); 
  • Apollo (god of prophecy, and knowledge); 
  • Ares (god of war); 
  • Artemis (goddess of hunting); 
  • Athena (Goddess of wisdom); 
  • Demeter (goddess of agriculture); 
  • Dionysus (god of pleasure, and festivity); 
  • Hephaestus (god of fire); 
  • Hermes (god of hospitality. Zeus’s manager); and
  • Poseidon (god of the sea).

Now let’s have a quick run-through of some of the most well-known Greek Mythological stories and the suggested books. 

  1. Story of Hercules – an adventurer who performed 12 impossible labors for King Eurystheus; 
  2. Pandora – the first woman whose curiosity brought a curse and evil upon mankind; 
  3. Pygmalion – a king who fell in love with an ivory statue; 
  4. Arachne – weaver who was turned into a spider for her arrogance; 
  5. Trojan Prince Ganymede who became the cup-bearer for the gods; 
  6. Narcissus – a young man who fell in love with his reflection; 
  7. Midas – the king with a boon of turning everything he touches to gold;
  8. The tale of the winged horse Pegasus;
  9. The cursed Prometheus whose liver is eaten every day for stealing fire from the Gods;
  10. The kidnap of Persephone by Hades;
  11. The Fall of Icarus, the man with wings of wax;
  12. The story of Achilles of Homer’s Iliad.
  13. Horse-man Centaur, the Lion-woman Sphinx, the Bird-woman Harpies, the One-eyed giant Cyclops, and many more.

There are many other interesting stories in Greek mythology that bring the imagination of a child to play. Mentioning them all would be one hard nut to crack. I hope this information has motivated you to delve deeper into Greek mythology. Go ahead and read the above-mentioned stories and let us know which mythological story is your favorite.