National Investigation Agency


The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken over the probe into killing of tailor in Rajasthan’s Udaipur over a social media post supporting suspended Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Nupur Sharma. Now, the Union Home Ministry has handed over to the agency the investigation of a similarly executed murder of pharmacist  at Amravati in Maharashtra.


GS II- Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the NIA?
  2. When did the NIA come into being?
  3. What are the scheduled offences?
  4. How wide is NIA’s jurisdiction?
  5. How wide is NIA’s jurisdiction?

What is the NIA?

  • It is a central agency mandated to investigate all the offences affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, friendly relations with foreign states, and the offences under the statutory laws enacted to implement international treaties, agreements, conventions and resolutions of the United Nations, its agencies and other international organisations.
  • These include terror acts and their possible links with crimes like smuggling of arms, drugs and fake Indian currency and infiltration from across the borders.
  • The agency has the power to search, seize, arrest and prosecute those involved in such offences.
  • Headquartered in Delhi, the NIA has its branches in Hyderabad, Guwahati, Kochi, Lucknow, Mumbai, Kolkata, Raipur, Jammu, Chandigarh, Ranchi, Chennai, Imphal, Bengaluru and Patna.

When did the NIA come into being?

  • In the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack in November 2008, which shocked the entire world, the then United Progressive Alliance government decided to establish the NIA.
  • In December 2008, former Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram introduced the National Investigation Agency Bill.
  • The Home Minister had then said the agency would deal with only eight laws mentioned in the schedule and that a balance had been struck between the right of the State and duties of the Central government to investigate the more important cases.
  • The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
  • The agency came into existence on December 31, 2008, and started its functioning in 2009.
  • Till date, the NIA has registered 447 cases.

What are the scheduled offences?

  • The list includes the Explosive Substances Act, Atomic Energy Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Anti-Hijacking Act, Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation Act, SAARC Convention (Suppression of Terrorism) Act, Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act and relevant offences under the Indian Penal Code, Arms Act and the Information Technology Act.
  • In September 2020, the Centre empowered the NIA to also probe offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act that are connected to terror cases.

How wide is NIA’s jurisdiction?

The law under which the agency operates extends to the whole of India and also applies to Indian citizens outside the country; persons in the service of the government wherever they are posted; persons on ships and aircraft registered in India wherever they may be; persons who commit a scheduled offence beyond India against the Indian citizen or affecting the interest of India.

How does the NIA take up a probe?

  • As provided under Section 6 of the Act, State governments can refer the cases pertaining to the scheduled offences registered at any police station to the Central government (Union Home Ministry) for NIA investigation.
  • After assessing the details made available, the Centre can then direct the agency to take over the case.
  • State governments are required to extend all assistance to the NIA.
  • Even when the Central government is of the opinion that a scheduled offence has been committed which is required to be investigated under the Act, it may, suo motu, direct the agency to take up/over the probe.
  • Where the Central government finds that a scheduled offence has been committed at any place outside India to which this Act extends, it can also direct the NIA to register the case and take up investigation.
  • While investigating any scheduled offence, the agency can also investigate any other offence which the accused is alleged to have committed if the offence is connected to the scheduled offence.

Nitrate Absorption in Plants


Researchers led by those from the National Centre of Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru (NCBS-TIFR), have found a new pathway that regulates nitrate absorption in plants.


GS III- Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About gene MADS27
  2. About Nitrogen importance in plants:
  3. Nitrate overuse
  4. Regulatory switches
  5. Three-pronged effect

About gene MADS27:

  • The gene MADS27, which regulates nitrate absorption, root development and stress tolerance, is activated by the micro-RNA, miR444, therefore offers a way to control these properties of the plant.
  • The researchers studied this mechanism in both rice (monocot) and tobacco (dicot) plants.
  • According to the researchers, the gene MADS27 appears to be an excellent candidate to modify, in order to develop nitrogen use efficiency, which is something that helps the plant absorb more nitrates, and to engineer abiotic stress tolerance.
  • The larger goal of this study is to understand how epigenetics plays a role in regulating expression of such important genes.

About Nitrogen importance in plants:

  • Nitrogen is one of the most important macronutrients needed for development of a plant.
  • The presence of nitrates is important for the plant development and also for grain production. 
  • It is a part of chlorophyll, amino acids and nucleic acids, among others.
  • It is mostly sourced from the soil where it is mainly absorbed in the form of nitrates and ammonium by the roots.
  • Nitrates also play a role in controlling genome-wide gene expression that in turn regulates root system architecture, flowering time, leaf development, etc.
  • Thus, while a lot of action takes place in the roots to absorb and convert nitrogen into useful nitrates, the absorbed nitrates in turn regulate plant development apart from being useful as a macronutrient.

Nitrate overuse

  • The overuse of nitrates in fertilizers, for instance, can lead to the dumping of nitrates in the soil which leads to accumulation of nitrates in water and soil.
  • This accumulation adds to soil and water pollution and increased contribution to greenhouse gases.
  • To avoid this, there should be optimal use of nitrates.
  • Also, since the whole process of nitrate absorption takes place in the roots, a well-developed root system is needed for this to take place optimally. 
  • At one level, it is known that the hormone auxin is responsible for well-developed roots across all plants.
  • A number of genes are known to help with auxin production, improved nitrate transport and assimilation in plants. 

Regulatory switches

  • In addition to this route, several gene regulatory switches that regulate nitrate absorption and root development, such as the micro-RNA, miR444, are known in monocot plants, such as rice.
    • “The micro-RNA ‘miR444’ is specific to monocots.
  • When this is not made, its target, MADS27, is produced in higher abundance, and it improves biosynthesis and transport of the hormone auxin, which is key for root development and its branching,
  • This regulatory miR444 switch is known to turn off at least five genes called MADS box transcription factor genes.
  • The speciality of the MADS box transcription factors is that they function like switch boxes of their own.
  • They bind to their favourite specific DNA sequences and they switch the neighbouring genes “on.”
Three-pronged effect
  • The researchers have studied a target gene of miR444 called MADS27, a transcription factor which hasn’t been studied well before.
  • They have found that this transcription factor has a three-pronged effect on the plant.
    • It regulates nitrate absorption by switching “on” proteins involved in this process.
    • It leads to better development of the roots by regulating auxin hormone production and transport.
    • Somewhat surprisingly to the researchers, it helps in the abiotic stress tolerance by keeping the main stress player proteins “on.”

India’s Largest Floating Solar Power Project


Recently, the final 20 MW of the 100 MW Ramagundam floating solar PV project’s commercial operation date was recently announced.

  • With this, the 100 MW Ramagundam floating solar PV project in Telangana is declared operational from 1st July 2022.
  • It is the largest project of its kind in India.


GS III- Renewable energy, Infrastructure

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are Floating Solar Panels?
  2. Key Highlights of Ramagundam Project
  3. Environment Benefits of the Project
  4. Challenges

What are Floating Solar Panels?

  • These are platforms with photovoltaic (PV) modules attached on them that float on lakes, reservoirs, and, under the right circumstances, oceans and seas. The majority of the time, these platforms are moored on calmer bodies of water, including ponds, lakes, or reservoirs.
  • These systems don’t require land levelling or vegetation removal, are relatively quick to build, and operate quietly.

Key Highlights of Ramagundam Project

  • It is endowed with advanced technology and Environment-friendly features.
  • The project spreads over 500 acres of the reservoir. Divided into 40 blocks, each having 2.5 MW.
  • Each block consists of one floating platform and an array of 11,200 solar modules.
  • The solar modules are placed on floaters manufactured with HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) material.
  • The entire floating system is anchored through special HMPE (High Modulus Polyethylene) rope to the dead weights placed in the balancing reservoir bed.
  • This project is unique in the sense that all the electrical equipment including inverter, transformer, HT panel, and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) are also on floating Ferro cement platforms.

Environment Benefits of the Project

  • The least amount of land needed for associated evacuation plans is the most evident benefit from an environmental standpoint.
  • Additionally, the presence of floating solar panels reduces the rate of water evaporation, aiding in water conservation.
  • The water body beneath the solar modules helps to maintain their ambient temperature, hence boosting their efficiency and generation.
  •  Water evaporation of about 32.5 lakh cubic metres per year can be prevented. Similar to how 1,65,000 tonnes of coal use may be reduced annually, 2,10,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions can be reduced as well.


  • The cost of installing floating solar panels is more than that of a conventional PV system for a number of reasons, including the fact that the technology is still in its infancy and hence necessitates the use of specialist knowledge and tools.
  • Choosing rooftop installation or ground-mounted solar is more practical because many floating solar projects are big-scale and offer electricity to huge communities, businesses, or utility corporations.
  • Understanding the geography of the waterbed and whether it is suitable for setting up float anchors is essential for developing floating solar systems.

What is Hepatitis B?


A series of unexplained cases of Hepatitis B in children has taken over the world. Many countries including the US and UK reported mysterious cases of a few children being diagnosed with Hepatitis B.


GS II- Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Hepatitis B?
  2. How does hepatitis B virus spread?
  3. Symptoms of Hepatitis B
  4. What is adenovirus and how is it leading to Hepatitis B in children?

What is Hepatitis B?

  • Hepatitis B is an infection in the liver which happens because of the Hepatitis B virus or HBV.
  • The virus usually spreads through blood, semen or other body fluids.
  • It can be prevented or protected against through vaccination.
  • When it is acute, the virus lasts a small time and doesn’t always necessarily need treatments although it can get serious and lead to life-threatening diseases like organ scarring, liver failure and even cancer.

How does hepatitis B virus spread?

The virus is found in the blood or certain body fluids and is spread when blood or body fluid from an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected. This can occur in a variety of ways including:

  • Unprotected sexual contact
  • Sharing drugs, needles, or “works” when using drugs
  • Poor infection control practices in medical settings
  • Sharing of blood sugar (diabetes) testing equipment
  • Needle sticks or sharps exposures on the job
  • From mother to baby during birth
  • Contact with wounds or skin sores
  • When an infected person bites another person
  • Pre-chewing food for babies
  • Sharing personal-care items, such as razors or toothbrushes

Hepatitis B virus particles can be found on objects, even in the absence of visible blood. The virus can remain infectious and capable of spreading infection for at least seven days outside the human body. Hepatitis B will not spread through food or water, sharing eating utensils, hugging, kissing, coughing, and sneezing or by casual contact, such as in an office or factory setting.

Symptoms of Hepatitis B

  • Jaundice
  • Fever
  • fatigue that lasts for weeks or even months
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain in joints or belly

There is a fair chance that the symptoms are not visible for one to six months since you catch the virus.

What is adenovirus and how is it leading to Hepatitis B in children?

  • Adenovirus is a group of viruses that commonly cause cold or flu-like symptoms, fever, sore throat, acute bronchitis, pneumonia, conjunctivitis, acute inflammation of the stomach, diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain.
  • Adenovirus is known to spread from one person to another through close contact, coughing, sneezing and even by touching an object containing adenovirus and then further touching the mouth, nose or eyes.
  • Type 41 adenovirus is suspected of causing Hepatitis B in children.
  • While there are more than 50 types of adenoviruses, it is type 41 that causes diarrhoea, vomiting and fever along with respiratory problems.

New Monkeypox Symptoms Found in UK Patients


Recently, Monkeypox patients from the UK exhibited different symptoms from those observed in previous outbreaks, according to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal.


GS II-Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. About Monkeypox virus
  3. Zoonotic disease
  4. Symptoms and treatment
  5. What did the study find?


  • The researchers also recommended that the UK Health Security Agency should review its current case definitions of monkeypox to better help identify cases.
  • The study looked at 54 patients who attended sexual health clinics in London, the UK and were diagnosed with monkeypox during a 12-day period in May 2022.
  • Researchers observed differences in the symptoms of these cases, as compared to previous monkeypox outbreaks, including the location of skin lesions and a lower prevalence of tiredness and fever.

About Monkeypox virus

  • The monkeypox virus is an orthopoxvirus, which is a genus of viruses that also includes the variola virus, which causes smallpox, and vaccinia virus, which was used in the smallpox vaccine.
  • Monkeypox causes symptoms similar to smallpox, although they are less severe.
  • While vaccination eradicated smallpox worldwide in 1980, monkeypox continues to occur in a swathe of countries in Central and West Africa, and has on occasion showed up elsewhere.
  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), two distinct clade are identified: the West African clade and the Congo Basin clade, also known as the Central African clade.

Zoonotic disease

  • Monkeypox is a zoonosis, that is, a disease that is transmitted from infected animals to humans.
  • According to the WHO, cases occur close to tropical rainforests inhabited by animals that carry the virus.
  • Monkeypox virus infection has been detected in squirrels, Gambian poached rats, dormice, and some species of monkeys.
  • Human-to-human transmission is, however, limited — the longest documented chain of transmission is six generations, meaning the last person to be infected in this chain was six links away from the original sick person, the WHO says.
  • Transmission, when it occurs, can be through contact with bodily fluids, lesions on the skin or on internal mucosal surfaces, such as in the mouth or throat, respiratory droplets and contaminated objects.

Symptoms and treatment

  • According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), monkeypox begins with a fever, headache, muscle aches, back ache, and exhaustion.
  • It also causes the lymph nodes to swell (lymphadenopathy), which smallpox does not.
  • The WHO underlines that it is important to not confuse monkeypox with chickenpox, measles, bacterial skin infections, scabies, syphilis and medication-associated allergies.
  • The incubation period (time from infection to symptoms) for monkeypox is usually 7-14 days but can range from 5-21 days.
  • Usually within a day to 3 days of the onset of fever, the patient develops a rash that begins on the face and spreads to other parts of the body.
  • The skin eruption stage can last between 2 and 4 weeks, during which the lesions harden and become painful, fill up first with a clear fluid and then pus, and then develop scabs or crusts.
  • According to the WHO, the proportion of patients who die has varied between 0 and 11% in documented cases, and has been higher among young children.
  • There is no safe, proven treatment for monkeypox yet.
  • The WHO recommends supportive treatment depending on the symptoms.
  • Awareness is important for prevention and control of the infection.

What did the study find?

  • The analysis finds that in all 54 cases of monkeypox, the patients were identified as men who have sex with men.
  • A high proportion of cases had skin lesions in their anus or genital regions, suggesting transmission during close skin-to-skin contact, such as sexual activity.
  • The 54 patients observed in this study represent 60 per cent of the cases reported in the UK during the 12-day study period in May 2022.
  • All except two of the patients in the cohort were not aware of having been in contact with a known case and none reported travel to sub-Saharan Africa, however many had recently visited other European countries.

What is Anthrax?


After finding several carcasses of wild boar, Kerala health officials confirmed the presence of anthrax, a serious infectious disease caused by spore-forming bacteria, in Athirappilly of Thrissur district.


GS II-Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Anthrax?
  2. How do animals get Anthrax?
  3. How do humans get infected?
  4. What are the symptoms of Anthrax?
  5. How can it be treated?

What is Anthrax?

  • Anthrax, also known as malignant pustule or woolsorter’s disease, is a rare but serious disease caused by the rod-shaped bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis.
  • It occurs naturally in soil and, according to the WHO it is primarily a disease of herbivores, with both domestic and wild animals being affected by it.
  • Anthrax is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it is naturally transmissible from animals (usually vertebrae) to humans. People can get the disease through contact with infected animals or animal products that are contaminated with bacteria.
  • According to the WHO, Anthrax is generally regarded as non-contagious. There have been instances of person-to-person transmission, however, such instances are extremely rare.
  • Anthrax has usually been found in India’s southern states and is less frequently found in the northern states. Over the past years, it has been reported in Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Orissa and Karnataka.

How do animals get Anthrax?

  • Domestic and wild animals can get infected when they breathe in or ingest spores in contaminated soil, plants or water.
  • Host animals shed the bacteria into the ground, which sporulates when exposed to the air.
  • These spores, which can persist in the soil for decades, wait to be taken up by another host, subsequently germinating and multiplying, leading to its spread. Flies also appear to play a significant role in explosive outbreaks of the disease, as per the WHO.
  • Herbivorous animals can get the disease through contaminated soil and feed, while omnivorous and carnivorous animals get infected through contaminated meat, bones and other feeds.
  • Wild animals get sick through feeding on anthrax-infected carcasses.

How do humans get infected?

  • Humans almost always contract the disease directly or indirectly from animals or animal products.
  • People get infected with anthrax when spores enter the body, through breathing, eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water, or through cuts or scrapes in the skin.
  • The spores then get “activated” and multiply, spreading across the body, producing toxins and causing severe illness, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The US’s national public health agency.
  • Humans can acquire the disease by handling carcasses, bones, wool, hides or other products from infected animals.
  • People that deal with animals can get cutaneous anthrax when spores from the enter through cuts or scrapes on the skin.
  • They can also get inhalation anthrax, by inhaling spores present on the wool, hide or hair of the animal.
  • Ingesting raw or undercooked meat from infected animals can get people sick with gastrointestinal anthrax.
  • People that are most at risk of contracting the disease are people that work with animals, such as farmers, veterinarians, livestock handlers, wool sorters and laboratory professionals.

What are the symptoms of Anthrax?

  • In livestock species, like cattle, sheep or goats, the first sign is usually the sudden death of one or two animals within the herd.
  • Prior to their death, they might show signs of high fever.
  • In wildlife, sudden death is also a usual indicator, often accompanied by bloody discharge from natural orifices (mouth, nose, ear, anus), bloating, incomplete rigour mortis and the absence of clotting of the blood, according to WHO.
  • In humans, cutaneous anthrax symptoms can include groups of small blisters that may itch, painless skin sores with a black centre, with the possibility of swelling around them. This is the most common route of the disease and is seldom fatal.
  • Inhalation anthrax includes fever and chills, shortness of breath, coughing and nausea to name a few.
  • It’s the most deadly form of the disease and can lead to death within 2-3 days.
  • Gastrointestinal anthrax symptoms can include nausea and vomiting (with blood), swelling of the neck, stomach pain and diarrhoea.

How can it be treated?

  • Antibiotic therapy that is administered early in the course of the infection has been proven to be responsive, according to the WHO.
  • Penicillin has long been the antibiotic of choice and in recent years, ciprofloxacin and doxycycline have also been used as alternatives.
  • One way to prevent the disease is by vaccination of livestock so that the disease cannot spread.
  • There are also vaccines for humans, but their availability is usually restricted to at-risk individuals, such as lab workers and people who handle animals.


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