Look out Circular


Recently, the Punjab and Haryana High Court while quashing a Look Out Circular (LOC) against petitioner Noor Paul passed omnibus instructions to the respondents including the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Bureau of Immigration (BOI) to serve a copy of the LOC to the affected person, state the reasons for issuing the LOC “as soon as possible” and provide a “post-decisional opportunity”.


GS II- Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Why in News?
  2. What is Look out notice?
  3. Who can issue an LOC?
  4. What are the details required to generate an LOC and who issues it?
  5. Is there any other clause under which an individual can be stopped?

Why in News?

  • The Punjab and Haryana High Court passed omnibus instructions to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Bureau of Immigration (BOI) to serve a copy of an issued LOC to the affected person, state the reasons for issuing the LOC and provide a “post-decisional opportunity”.
    • It asked the MHA to include these directions into the “Official Memorandum” or the guidelines that govern the opening of LOCs.
  • The Government of India moved Supreme Court and the apex court stayed the particular paragraph of the High Court order.
  • The High Court in its judgement has said that the action of the Bank of India to issue an LOC against Ms. Paul who was a guarantor to a loan procured by her father was “arbitrary, illegal and violative of Article 21 of the Constitution.”
  • Ms. Paul got to know about the LOC when she was turned away from the Delhi airport on February 22 when she was there to travel to Dubai.

What is Look out notice?

  • An LOC is issued to make sure that an individual who is absconding or wanted by law enforcement agencies is not able to leave the country.
  •  It is mostly used at immigration checkpoints at international airports and seaports by the immigration branch.
  • In certain cases, the police can approach a court asking for the restriction of a person’s movement outside the country, when that person is a suspect and there is an apprehension that they may not join the investigation at a later stage.
  • The subject of an LOC can challenge the circular and get relief from a court.

Who can issue an LOC?

  • An LOC can be initiated by a large number of authorised officers, including an officer not below the rank of deputy secretary, an officer not below the rank of joint secretary in the state government, a district magistrate or superintendent of police, designated officers of various law enforcing and security agencies, a designated officer of Interpol, an officer not below the rank of additional director in the Serious Fraud Investigation Office, and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
  • In 2018, the government also empowered the heads of public sector banks to directly request the authorities to issue an LOC against wilful defaulters to prevent them from leaving the country.
  • So now, an officer not below the rank of chairman/managing director/chief executive of any public sector bank can make a request.
  • An LOC can be modified/deleted/withdrawn by the Bureau of Immigration only on the specific request of the authorised originator on whose request the LOC was issued.

What are the details required to generate an LOC and who issues it?

  • According to a 2010 official memorandum of the Ministry, details such as First Information Report (FIR) number, court case number are to be mandatorily provided with name, passport number and other details.
  • The BOI (Bureau of Immigration) under the MHA is only the executing agency.
  • They generate LOCs based on requests by different agencies.
  •  Since immigration posts are manned by the BOI officials they are the first responders to execute LOCs by stopping or detaining or informing about an individual to the issuing agency.
  • The LOCs can be modified; deleted or withdrawn only at the request of the originator.
  • Further, the legal liability of the action taken by immigration authorities in pursuance of LOC rests with the originating agency.

Is there any other clause under which an individual can be stopped?

  • The 2010 Ministry guidelines give sweeping powers to police and intelligence agencies to generate LOCs in “exceptional cases” without keying in complete parameters or case details against “suspects, terrorists, anti-national elements, etc, in larger national interest.”
  •  In 2015, Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai was stopped from travelling to London on a request by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) based on the “etc” provision in the 2010 order.
    • The LOC was later quashed by the Delhi High Court.
  • After the special status of J&K under Article 370 of the Constitutions was read down by the Parliament in August 2019, LOCs were opened against several politicians, human rights activists, journalists and social activists to bar them from flying out of the country.
    • The number of persons and the crime for which they have been placed under the list is unknown.

The rise of AI chips


AI chips with their hardware architectures and complementary packaging, memory, storage and interconnect technologies, make it possible to infuse AI into a broad spectrum of applications to help turn data into information and then into knowledge. 


GS III- Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article

  1. What are AI chips?
  2. Difference between traditional chips and AI chips
  3. Applications

What are AI chips?

AI chips are built with specific architecture and have integrated AI acceleration to support deep learning-based applications.

There are different types of AI chips designed for diverse AI applications:

  • Application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs),
  • Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs),
  • Central processing units (CPUs) and GPUs,
Deep Learning:
  • Deep learning, more commonly known as active neural network (ANN) or deep neural network (DNN), is a subset of machine learning and comes under the broader umbrella of AI.
  • It combines a series of computer commands or algorithms that stimulate activity and brain structure.
  • DNNs go through a training phase, learning new capabilities from existing data.
  • DNNs can then inference, by applying these capabilities learned during deep learning training to make predictions against previously unseen data.
  • Deep learning can make the process of collecting, analysing, and interpreting enormous amounts of data faster and easier.

Difference between traditional chips and AI chips

Traditional Chips:
  • It contain processor cores and memory, perform computational tasks, they continuously move commands and data between the two hardware components.
  • These chips, however, are not ideal for AI applications as they would not be able to handle higher computational necessities of AI workloads which have huge volumes of data.
  • Although, some of the higher-end traditional chips may be able to process certain AI applications.
AI chips
  • It generally contain processor cores as well as several AI-optimised cores (depending on the scale of the chip) that are designed to work in harmony when performing computational tasks.
  • The AI cores are optimised for the demands of heterogeneous enterprise-class AI workloads with low-latency inferencing, due to close integration with the other processor cores, which are designed to handle non-AI applications.
  • AI chips, essentially, reimagine traditional chips’ architecture, enabling smart devices to perform sophisticated deep learning tasks such as object detection and segmentation in real-time, with minimal power consumption.


  • Semiconductor firms have developed various specialised AI chips for a multitude of smart machines and devices, including ones that are said to deliver the performance of a data centre-class computer to edge devices.
  • Some of these chips support in-vehicle computers to run state-of-the-art AI applications more efficiently.
  • AI chips are also powering applications of computational imaging in wearable electronics, drones, and robots.
  • Additionally, the use of AI chips for NLP (Natural language processing)  applications has increased due to the rise in demand for chatbots and online channels such as Messenger, Slack, and others.
  • They use NLP to analyse user messages and conversational logic.
  • Then there are chipmakers who have built AI processors with on-chip hardware acceleration, designed to help customers achieve business insights at scale across banking, finance, trading, insurance applications and customer interactions.
  • As AI becomes pervasive across different workloads, having a dedicated inference accelerator that includes support for major deep learning frameworks would allow companies to harness the full potential of their data.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy


Under the aegis of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM), the Ministry of Culture held inaugural ceremony to commemorate the year long celebration of the 250th Birth Anniversary of  Raja Ram Mohan Roy from today in Kolkata. It will continue till next year 22nd May. 


GS I- Personalities in News

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Raja Ram Mohan Roy:
  2. Early Life
  3. Roy, the first among liberals
  4. Abolition of Sati, educational and religious reforms
  5. Perils of non-conformism

About Raja Ram Mohan Roy:

  • He is one of the most influential social and religious reformers of the 19th century.
  • He was born on May 22, 1772 in what was then Bengal Presidency’s Radhanagar in Hooghly district.
  • As India grapples increasingly with changing social and religious circumstances, Roy’s work in the sphere of women’s emancipation, modernising education and seeking changes to religious orthodoxy finds new relevance in this time.

Early Life

  • Born into a prosperous upper-caste Brahmin family, Roy grew up within the framework of orthodox caste practices of his time: child-marriage, polygamy and dowry were prevalent among the higher castes and he had himself been married more than once in his childhood.
  • The family’s affluence had also made the best in education accessible to him.
  • A polyglot, Roy knew Bengali and Persian, but also Arabic, Sanskrit, and later, English.
  • His exposure to the literature and culture of each of these languages bred in him a scepticism towards religious dogmas and social strictures.
  • In particular, he chafed at practices such as Sati, that compelled widows to be immolated on their husband’s funeral pyre.
    • Roy’s sister-in-law had been one such victim after his elder brother’s death, and it was a wound that stayed with him.
  • His education had whetted his appetite for philosophy and theology, and he spent considerable time studying the Vedas and the Upanishads, but also religious texts of Islam and Christianity.
  • He was particularly intrigued by the Unitarian faction of Christianity and was drawn by the precepts of monotheism that, he believed, lay at the core of all religious texts.
  • He wrote extensive tracts on various matters of theology, polity and human rights, and translated and made accessible Sanskrit texts into Bengali.

Roy, the first among liberals

  • Even though British consolidation of power was still at a nascent stage in India at the time, Roy could sense that change was afoot.
  • Confident about the strength of his heritage and open to imbibing from other cultures what he believed were ameliorative practices, Roy was among India’s first liberals.
  • In 1814, he started the Atmiya Sabha (Society of Friends), to nurture philosophical discussions on the idea of monotheism in Vedanta and to campaign against idolatry, casteism, child marriage and other social ills.
  • The Atmiya Sabha would make way for the Brahmo Sabha in 1828, set up with Debendranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore’s father.

Abolition of Sati, educational and religious reforms

  • During the course of his time in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), a period of about 15 years, Roy became a prominent public intellectual.
  • He campaigned for the modernisation of education, in particular the introduction of a Western curriculum, and started several educational institutions in the city.
  • In 1817, he collaborated with Scottish philanthropist David Hare to set up the Hindu College (now, Presidency University).
  • He followed it up with the Anglo-Hindu School in 1822 and, in 1830, assisted Alexander Duff to set up the General Assembly’s Institution, which later became the Scottish Church College.
  • It was his relentless advocacy alongside contemporaries such as Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar that finally led to the abolition of Sati under the governor generalship of William Bentinck in 1829.
  • Roy argued for the property rights of women, and petitioned the British for freedom of the press (in 1829 and 1830).
  • His Brahmo Sabha, that later became the Brahmo Samaj, evolved as a reaction against the upper-caste stranglehold on social customs and rituals.
  • During the Bengal Renaissance, it ushered in sweeping social changes and birthed the Brahmo religion, a reformed spiritual Hinduism that believes in monotheism and the uniformity of all men, irrespective of caste, class or creed.

Perils of non-conformism

  • As many modern liberals discover to their peril, non-conformism brings with it its own share of infamy.
  • Roy, who was given the title of Raja by the Mughal emperor Akbar II, was no exception to this.
  • Among the first Indians to gain recognition in the UK and in America for his radical thoughts, in his lifetime, Roy was also often attacked by his own countrymen who felt threatened by his reformist agenda, and by British reformers and functionaries, whose views differed from his.

Phytoremediation with hyperaccumulators


A study published in the JNKVV (Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwavidyalaya) research journal concluded that heavy metal pollution of soil is “emerging at a speedy rate” in India due to industrialisation.


GS II- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. How does soil get contaminated?
  2. What are hyperaccumulator plants?
  3. How can phytoremediation with hyperaccumulators be used to remove toxic metals from the soil?
  4. Advantages of phytoremediation with hyperaccumulators
  5. Disadvantages of phytoremediation with hyperaccumulators

How does soil get contaminated?

  • Soil contamination can happen due to a variety of reasons, including manufacturing, mineral extraction, accidental spills, illegal dumping, leaking underground storage tanks, pesticide and fertiliser use etc.
  • These toxic heavy metals are then absorbed by food crops and other plants before they eventually make their way into our food chain, directly affecting human life along with ecology.

What are hyperaccumulator plants?

  • Phytoremediation refers to the usage of “hyperaccumulator” plants to absorb the toxic materials present in the soil and accumulate in their living tissue.
  • Even though most plants do sometimes accumulate toxic substances, hyperaccumulators have the unusual ability to absorb hundreds or thousands of times greater amounts of these substances than is normal for most plants.
  • Most discovered hyperaccumulator plants typically accumulate nickel and occur on soils that are rich in nickel, cobalt and in some cases, manganese.
  • These hyperaccumulator species have been discovered in many parts of the world including the Mediterranean region (mainly plants of the genus Alyssum), tropical outcrops in Brazi, Cuba, New Caledonia (French territory) and Southeast Asia (mainly plants of the genus Phyllanthus).

How can phytoremediation with hyperaccumulators be used to remove toxic metals from the soil?

  • Suitable plant species can be used to ‘pick up’ the pollutants from the soil through their roots and transport them to their stem, leaves and other parts.
  • After this, these plants can be harvested and either disposed or even used to extract these toxic metals from the plant.
  • This process can be used to remove metals like silver, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, mercury, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, lead and zinc; metalloids such as arsenic and selenium; some radionuclides; and non-metallic components such as boron.
  • But it cannot be used to remove organic pollutants from the ground due to metabolic breakdown.

Advantages of phytoremediation with hyperaccumulators:

  • One of the primary advantages of phytoremediation is the fact that it is quite cost-effective in comparison with other remediation methods.
  • The only major costs attached are related to crop management (planting, weed control, watering, fertilisation, pruning, fencing, harvesting etc.).
  • This method is also relatively simple and doesn’t require any new kinds of specialised technology.
  • Also, no external energy source is required since the plants grow with the help of sunlight.
  • Another important advantage of this method is that it enriches the soil with organic substances and microorganisms which can protect its chemical and biological qualities.
  • Also, while the plants are growing and accumulating toxic heavy metals, they protect the soil from erosion due to wind and water.
  • These plants will already be acclimatised to the region and there will be no legal problems concerning the procurement, transport and use of seeds.

Disadvantages of phytoremediation with hyperaccumulators:

  • It is a very slow and time-consuming process.
  • The restoration of an area with this process can take up to 10 years or more.
  • This means that the area in question cannot be used for any other purposes for up to ten years, including growing other crops and allowing animals to graze it.
    • This comes with a large economic cost, proportional to the size of the area under rehabilitation.
  • The plants to conduct this rehabilitation must be carefully selected based on a large number of characteristics or they could act as an invasive species, growing out of control and upsetting the delicate ecological balance of not just the area under rehabilitation, but also the entire region it is part of.
    • Due to this reason, scientists only propose using species that are native to the region where the phytoremediation project is undertaken.

Norms eased for research into Genetically Modified (GM) Crop


Recently, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has issued guidelines easing norms for research into Genetically Modified (GM) crops and circumventing challenges of using foreign genes to change crops profile.


GS III- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the Guidelines
  2. What is genome editing?
  3. How is gene editing different from GMO development?
  4. Regulatory issues which have prevented wider adoption of this technique

Highlights of the Guidelines

  • It exempts researchers who use gene-editing technology to modify the genome of the plant from seeking approvals from the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).
    • The GEAC evaluates research into GM plants and recommends, or disapproves, their release into farmer fields.
  • The final call, however, is taken by the Environment Minister as well as States where such plants could be cultivated. The Environment Ministry too has sanctioned this exemption.
  • Conventional breeding technique takes 8- 10 years for development of new crop varieties; genome-editing can do this faster.
  • Most often, GM plants that have drawn such scrutiny are those that use transgenic technology or introduce a gene from another species into a plant, such as BT-cotton, which uses a soil bacterium gene to protect against pest attack.
  • The worry around this method is that these genes may spread to neighbouring plants, where such effects are not intended and so their applications have been controversial.

What is genome editing?

  • A decade ago, scientists in Germany and the US discovered a technique which allowed them to ‘cut’ DNA strands and edit genes.
  • For agriculture scientists this process allowed them to bring about desired changes in the genome by using site directed nuclease (SDN) or sequence specific nuclease (SSN).
    •  Nuclease is an enzyme which cleaves through nucleic acid — the building block of genetic material.
  • Advanced research has allowed scientists to develop the highly effective clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeat (CRISPR) -associated proteins based systems.
  • This system allows for targeted intervention at the genome sequence.
  • This tool has opened up various possibilities in plant breeding.
  • Using this tool, agricultural scientists can now edit genome to insert specific traits in the gene sequence.

Depending on the nature of the edit that is carried out, the process is divided into three categories —

  • SDN 1:  It introduces changes in the host genome’s DNA through small insertions/deletions without introduction of foreign genetic material.
  • SDN 2 :  In this case, the edit involves using a small DNA template to generate specific changes.

* Both these processes do not involve alien genetic material and the end result is indistinguishable from conventionally bred crop varieties.

  • SDN 3: The process involves larger DNA elements or full length genes of foreign origin which makes it similar to Genetically modified organisms (GMO) development.

How is gene editing different from GMO development?

  • Genetically modified organisms (GMO) involves modification of the genetic material of the host by introduction of a foreign genetic material.
  • In the case of agriculture, soil bacteria is the best mining source for such genes which are then inserted into the host genome using genetic engineering.
    • For example, in case of cotton, introduction of genes cry1Ac and cry2Ab mined from the soil bacterium Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) allow the native cotton plant to generate endotoxins to fight pink bollworm naturally.
    • BT Cotton uses this advantage to help farmers naturally fight pink bollworm which is the most common pest for cotton farmers.
  • The basic difference between genome editing and genetic engineering is that while the former does not involve the introduction of foreign genetic material, the latter does.
  • Before the advent of genetic engineering, such variety improvement was done through selective breeding which involved carefully crossing plants with specific traits to produce the desired trait in the offspring. Genetic engineering has not only made this work more accurate but has also allowed scientists to have greater control on trait development.

Regulatory issues which have prevented wider adoption of this technique

  • Across the world, GM crop has been a topic of debate, with many environmentalists opposing it on the grounds of bio safety and incomplete data.
  • In India, the introduction of GM crops is a laborious process which involves multiple levels of checks.
    • The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), a high power committee under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, is the regulator for introduction of any GM material and in case of agriculture multiple field trials, data about biosafety and other information is necessary for getting the nod before commercial release of any GM crop.
    • Till date the only crop which has crossed the regulatory red tape is Bt cotton.
  • Scientists both in India and across the world have been quick to draw the line between GM crops and genome edited crops.
    • The latter, they have pointed out, has no foreign genetic material in them which makes them indistinguishable from traditional hybrids.
  • Globally, European Union countries have bracketed genome edited crops with GM crops. Countries like Argentina, Israel, US, Canada, etc have liberal regulations for genome edited crops.


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *