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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 26th January 2018

  • IASbaba
  • January 26, 2018
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 26th January 2018

Archives


(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


SC to states: Implement Disabilities Act, 2016

Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Issues related to health

Key pointers:

  • The Supreme Court has asked all states and union territories (UTs) to implement within three months, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 on the rights of persons with disabilities.
  • In 2016, amendments were made in Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 and the apex court had asked states and UTs to implement provisions of new Act.
  • As compared to the 1995 Act, various new provisions have been included in the 2016 Act and it has expanded the horizon of the rights of such persons, Singhal said.
  • The court had said that 2016 Act is a “sea change in the perception” and exhibits a march forward look with regard to persons with disabilities and roles of state governments, local authorities, educational institutes and companies are given there.

Article link: Click here


National Voters’ Day

Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Polity

Key pointers:

  • 25th January is celebrated as National Voters’ Day throughout India.
  • National Voter’s Day aims at increasing the enrolment of voters, especially encourage participation of newly eligible young voter (18-19 year old) and ensure universal adult franchise.
  • 25th January, the Foundation Day of Election Commission of India (ECI), was declared as the National Voters’ Day in the year 2011.

Article link: Click here


(MAINS FOCUS)


ECONOMY

TOPIC:

General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

General Studies 3:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

India’s ailing handloom sector

Introduction:

Today’s (26th January 2018) Google Doodle celebrates Republic Day with a colorful artwork, inspired by the vibrant colors and patterns of traditional handloom draperies from different states, depicting parade and cultural dance form.

Pic link: http://st1.bgr.in/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/India-republic-day-doodle-feat.jpg

The handloom industry in India exhibits a national identity that is admired and appreciated all over the world given its unique, unparalleled, rich heritage. It exhibits the spectacular craft of our artisans and nourishes the social fabric of the country.

However this handloom art is in crisis.

According to textile ministry’s Handlooms Census (2010) –

  1. There has been a 33 per cent drop in handloom employment since 1995-96.
  2. Only 4.3 million people are engaged in handloom weaving and allied activities now, against 6.5 million in 1995-96.
  3. India’s handloom exports touched Rs. 2,246 crore in 2014-15. However this has been continually declining compared to the previous 4-5 years.

Since India produces almost 85 per cent of the world’s handloom products, we can ill afford to let the handloom sector and handloom art to fall into decline.

Do you know?

  • Handloom is the second largest unorganised set of economic activities in the country, after agriculture, that supports rural areas.
  • More than three-fourth of all adult weavers are women and members of SC/ST/OBC communities.
  • Indian handloom sector has the largest number of weavers in the world.
  • There are almost 2.4 million handlooms in India, of which almost 85 per cent are in villages.

Handloom sector in India

Handloom art and weaving centres are clustered all over the country. Many of these art genres are popular in local and international markets.

The Chanderi cluster, for example, is known for its genre of silk garments and sarees . Other clusters include the Varanasi cluster for Banaras silk sarees, and the Chirala cluster for its traditional varieties of zari (golden metal threads) sarees and dhotis.

The Himachali topis, handbags from Kutch, the Kolhapuri chappals, jute bags and silk sarees from Assam – they create a landscape of unity in diversity and cultural parity.

These clusters preserve traditional knowledge, which is passed from one generation to another. The exclusivity and the rarity of these handloom art forms provide them with the much-needed competitive advantage.

Concerns:

We are all aware of the farmer suicides, but tragically enough the death of weavers in the last 20 years has gone unnoticed. For instance, there have been 615 suicides in Andhra Pradesh from 1997-2010 and about 50 in Varanasi in the last three years.

As digital India is the call of the hour, technological advancements are increasingly encouraged in the country and rightly so. Sadly, this impacts the handloom industry negatively and the cut-throat competition from power looms has put the very existence of the handloom sector in doubt.

Many weavers are uneducated and rely solely on their skills that have been passed on to them by their previous generations. This is traditional knowledge for them and it is the government’s responsibility to take their concerns and future into account.

The Chanderi Model

The Chanderi town is home to one of the biggest concentrations of handloom weavers in central India. Here they prepare a finely embellished silk and cotton based fabric with woven patterns of zari.

Chanderi has 30,000 inhabitants and about 4,500 active looms. About 60 per cent of the inhabitants are dependent on this centuries-old traditional business either directly or indirectly.

The textiles ministry had sanctioned a four-year mega cluster project for Chanderi and the department of rural industries of Madhya Pradesh had also been implementing several schemes aimed at improving the production and marketing of Chanderi products.

Chanderi weavers sell their products across the country at a premium under the brand name of ‘Chanderi’, which is known for its unique art and designs.

The demand estimation, order generation, and distribution of finished product from Chanderi to different parts of the country is a complex and unstructured process. Weavers use different methods to reach their consumers.

They sell directly to their customers (shopkeepers in other cities) by visiting their place with the products, participate in trade fairs, or sell to intermediaries.

Role of external agencies

The role of NGOs and social enterprises in saving handloom art cannot be overemphasised.

Non-government entities play a crucial role in developing rural entrepreneurial networks for the ailing handloom sector.

For instance, NGO Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) has fulltime operations in Chanderi. DEF created a web portal to help weavers sell their products, going beyond reducing physical market separations and building a bridge to provide market access to their producers.

The Chanderi model has been able to demonstrate the viability of market-based solutions for alleviating the poverty of ‘bottom of the pyramid’ producers, while also salvaging dying art forms.

Such interventions when done in a timely and appropriate manner can create functional ecosystems of partnerships between the social sector, governments, and poor weavers to successfully develop markets for dying art forms.

Conclusion:

Like any other market, handloom is also required to serve three main functions:

(1) matching of demand and supply that involves identification of buyers and sellers, for which matchmaking product offerings with needs, as well as price discovery is important;

(2) facilitating exchanges or transactions, for which logistics, payment mechanisms, and facilitation of credit along with communication between buyers and sellers become important; and

(3) providing institutional infrastructure such as enforcement of legal and regulatory mechanisms.

These functions are already well-developed in formal urban markets, but the active intervention of external agencies may be required in poor, rural areas to make the markets work efficiently by reducing market separations. External non-governmental agencies can be of great help in undeveloped informal BOP markets in many parts of India.

The budget should aim at improved infrastructure, education and skill-set training to nurture the industry as it looks promising with demands of domestic and export consumption.

Connecting the dots:

  • Why handloom sector remains an ailing sector in India? Analyse. What measures are required to solve the challenges faced by the sector?

NATIONAL

TOPIC:General studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Focusing on Rural Education

Introduction:

An amazing transformation has occurred in the course of a generation. Young men and women in rural India are far surpassing their parents’ levels of education.
As late as 2001, only a little over 25% of all rural 18-year-olds were attending schools, the rest having dropped out earlier. By 2016, the share of 18-year-olds in schools and colleges had gone up to 70%. There is a rapidly rising trend of education in rural India. 

The ASER Survey:

  • It is derived from an innovative survey of more than 30,000 youth, in the age group of 14-18, that was conducted in 1,641 villages of 24 states in India.
  • This survey is important because more than 125 million individuals are in this age group, of whom more than two-thirds, roughly 85 million live in rural India, a population the size of Germany or the UK.
    They are the ones on whom their families’ hopes are vested, the future of the nation.

Optimistic findings:

  • Larger and larger numbers of individuals in the age group of 14-18 are opting to remain in the educational system.
  • Girls have closed the gap with boys in rural areas: at age 14, 94% of girls and 95% of boys are enrolled in school; by age 18, 68% of girls and 72% of boys are still in school, a wholesale improvement on the proportions of a generation earlier.

Dismal quality of education in rural schools:

  • Among 14-18-year-olds surveyed by the ASER teams, only 43% could solve a class IV mathematics problem.
  • This proportion was roughly the same among 14-year-olds as among 18-year-olds, showing that the problem of low learning outcomes was not resolved by remaining in school.
  • Only 40% of 18-year-olds could take 10% off a given number.
    More than that percentage could not locate their state on a map of India.
  • Twenty-seven percent of 14-year-olds, and 21% of 18-year-olds could not read a class II textbook in the regional language, and more than 40% in each age group could not read a simple sentence in English.

Modern economic growth has little room for people with rudimentary skills and low education levels. The age of assembly-line production has given way to newer technologies, with complex processes, requiring a better trained workforce.

Consequence:

Young people trained in this shabby manner would find it very difficult when it would come to searching jobs.
They won’t be able to cover the learning deficits that have accumulated from years of attending low-quality rural schools.
The belief that education will be the road out of precarious livelihood on the farm has gained ground. Inspired by this hope, parents are sending their children to schools in rural India. Most of them are first-generation learners.
Soon, however, this younger generation will be graduating from high schools and colleges—and then they will find that there are very few good jobs.
A reaction against such sort of education would be- “When my first-born was unable to make much of his 16 years of education,” a parent might argue, “why should I waste time and money on the education of my second-born?”
With mass disappointment, the rising trend of education is going to fall.

Issues:

  • The market for education performs poorly in situations where information flows are sparse and competition is limited or non-existent.
    Privatizing the government system is not a viable solution, either.
    Rural private schools perform no better than rural public schools in terms of learning outcomes.
  • Broken governance system- There are few rewards for being a good teacher and few punishments for being a careless one.
    That is because of faulty designs which need to repaired or replaced with more effective and accountable governance systems.

Conclusion:

A highly regimented and top-down system currently exists in India.
It needs to give way to another system in which teachers are innovative in the classroom and parents are involved as co-decision-makers.
Smaller-scale innovations developed by state governments and non-government organizations shows the huge potential of societal innovation. These reform efforts should serve as the starting points for a broader and increasingly essential public conversation.
Raising the quality of education in rural schools is essential, and a nationwide dialogue is necessary for charting the way ahead. Business-as-usual will not fix the problem.

Connecting the dots:

  • The rural education is in dismal state as per the latest ASER survey. This will have grim consequences on overall education in India. It’s time the existing system is overhauled. Discuss.

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