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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 29th May 2018

  • IASbaba
  • May 29, 2018
  • 4
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 29th May 2018

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(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


Separate division within MHA to deal with issues of women’s safety

Part of: Mains GS Paper I- Social issues, Women empowerment

Key pointers:

  • MHA has set up a separate division to deal with issues of women’s safety in coordination with relevant ministries, departments and state governments.
  • The division will encompass matters related to crimes against women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes; crimes against children and elderly persons.
  • It will also have an anti-trafficking cell, issues dealing with prison legislation and prison reforms.
  • The women’s safety division will look into Nirbhaya Fund, Crime and Criminal Tracking and Network System and National Crime Records Bureau as well.
  • In order to address offences against women, particularly rape, in a holistic and time-bound manner, the new division would focus to enhance capacity of the existing administrative, investigative, prosecution and judicial machinery, along with appropriate measures for rehabilitation of victims and bringing attitudinal changes in society.
  • The current list of initiatives include setting up of special Fast Track Courts (FTCs), strengthening of forensic setup and building up of a national registry of sexual offenders, appointing additional public prosecutors and providing appropriate medical and rehabilitation facilities to victims.
  • They will also address issues like sensitization of children through appropriate changes in school curriculum, a media campaign for raising awareness, checking proliferation of pornography materials and online contents.
  • The division will collect, collate and analyse data on crime against women and children along with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), which may also be used later for drawing up a national framework for the safety of women and children, said a senior government official.
  • The decision to set up a women’s safety division in the Ministry of Home Affairs came after the infamous Kathua and Unnao rape cases that enraged the entire country and criticism poured in from international platforms as well.

‘Gaj Yatra’ campaign launched in Meghalaya

Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Environment, conservation

Key pointers:

  • Gaj Yatra is a nationwide campaign launched by the Wildlife Trust of India in collaboration with Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change on August 12, World Elephant Day, last year.
  • The campaign aims to protect the elephant and its habitat.
  • ’Gaj Yatra’, a “journey celebrating India’s national heritage animal”, aims at securing 100 elephant corridors across India.
  • Four of these are in Meghalaya, including the Siju-Rewak corridor that some 1,000 elephants use to travel between the Balpakram and Nokrek National Parks in the State.
  • The campaign has been launched in the Garo Hills, where the people have created community forests for human-elephant harmony and conservation of animals such as hoolock gibbon.
  • Meghalaya has 1,754 elephants with an overall density of 0.16 elephants per square kilometre. Much of the elephant habitat area in the state is under community forest.

(MAINS FOCUS)


GOVERNANCE

TOPIC:General Studies 2:

  • Role of civil services in a democracy.
  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability and institutional and other measures.

Civil Services Reforms: New proposal for allocation of services and cadres

In news:

The government has recently mooted a radical proposal for allocating services and cadres based on the combined marks obtained in the CSE and the foundation course.
Candidates who have cleared the CSE will have to wait till the foundation course is over to know which service and cadre they are likely to get.
The government has said that this is a suggestion under consideration and that no final decision has been taken yet.

Present system:

At present, successful candidates are allocated services based on their ranks in the CSE and their preferences.
Candidates qualifying for the IAS and IPS are allocated cadres (States) based on their examination ranks and preferences.
The successful candidates of the IAS, IFS, IPS and Central Services Group A undergo a 15-week foundation course in the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (training academy) in Mussoorie.
The course focusses on promoting interservice camaraderie, cooperation, and capacity building of the officer-trainees.

Concerns with the proposal:

There are good reasons to believe that the new proposal is legally unsound, administratively unfeasible and has not been thought through properly.

  • Articles 315 to 323 of the Constitution deal with Public Service Commissions of the Union and the States. Article 320(1) says: “It shall be the duty of the Union and the State Public Service Commission to conduct examinations for appointments to the services of the Union and the services of the State respectively.” Thus, the duty of conducting the CSE is vested only in the UPSC.
    If the marks secured in the foundation course in the training academy are included for allocation for services, it would make the training academy an extended wing of the UPSC, which it is not. Therefore the new proposal violates Article 320(1).
  • The Director of the training academy that conducts the foundation course is a career civil servant on deputation, and she can be summarily transferred. The faculty members of the training academy are either career civil servants on deputation or academicians. Neither do they enjoy the constitutional protection that the UPSC members enjoy nor is there any bar on their holding further posts.
    This means that the Director and faculty members will not be able to withstand pressure from politicians, senior bureaucrats and others to give more marks to favoured candidates. They will actively try to please the powers-that-be in order to advance their own career prospects.
    There is also the grave risk of corruption in the form of ‘marks for money’ in the training academy.
    Politicisation and communalisation of the services are likely to take place from the beginning.
  • The trainer-trainee ratio for the foundation course is very high, and it will be impossible to do the kind of rigorous and objective evaluation that is required under the government’s new proposal.
    The difference of a few marks can decide whether a candidate will get the IAS or, say, the Indian Ordnance Factories Service.
    Therefore, the inclusion of the highly subjective foundation course marks can play havoc with the final rankings and with the allocation of services and cadres.
  • While about 600-1,000 candidates are selected every year for all the services put together, nearly 60-70% of the candidates qualifying for the IPS and Central Services Group A do not join the foundation course in Mussoorie as they prepare for the civil services (main) examination again to improve their prospects. Clearly, it is not possible to evaluate such candidates in the foundation course as contemplated in the new proposal.
    They cannot be compelled to attend the foundation course because that would amount to depriving them of their chance of taking the examination again.
    So, the new proposal is administratively unworkable.

Ignoring the real problems:

The steel frame of the Indian civil services has turned somewhat rusty and needs reform. The real problems of the civil services are not with recruitment; they are with what happens after an officer joins the system.

  • The system places a premium on loyalty, political connections and community/caste clout rather than on merit.
  • Indecision and inaction are seldom punished, while performers stand a greater chance of getting into trouble as they take more decisions.
  • Performance appraisal is based more on the personal likes and dislikes of one’s superiors than on actual work done.
  • Frequent, arbitrary and punitive transfers have become the order of the day.

Conclusion:

The government’s proposal for the allocation of services and cadres is legally and administratively unsound. There is a need to fix the systemic shortcomings rather than unsettle the settled method of recruitment.

Connecting the dots:

  • The government’s recent proposal for to modify the method of allotment of services and cadres to civil servants is legally and administratively unsound. Comment.

ENVIRONMENT

TOPIC:General Studies 3:

  • Environment and Ecology, Bio diversity – Conservation, environmental degradation, environmental impact assessment, Environment versus Development
  • Issues relating to e-wastes

E-waste management: Generating jobs

Introduction:

In recent years, the waste from electrical and electronic equipment, also referred to as WEEE or e-waste, has become an important focus of legislators globally.
This can be attributed principally to following reasons:

  • The hazardous nature of this waste component, both in terms of the health of the citizens and the environment.
  • The possibility of deriving valuable materials like precious, critical and base metals from the e-waste.
  • Among all urban solid waste, e-waste is the fastest growing waste stream (‘UNEP 2007 E-waste Inventory Assessment’), and this trend is expected to continue, in line with advancements in the quality and quantity of technology products’ consumption globally.

Such multifaceted characterisation makes handling of e-waste very challenging to address, especially considering the political, social and environmental factors involved in both developed and developing countries.

Present system:

  • Most governments, like India, have followed the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) principle, due the crucial issue of financing the development of sound e-waste management systems due to low or absent investment capacity.
  • The sustainable management of e-waste (average of the all products and including all logistics and treatment costs) is not a profitable business at the moment and, therefore, additional money is required to avoid “cherry picking” (processing only profitable products) or compromising the quality of recycling.

Untapped opportunity:

In the past 15 years, since the enactment of the e-waste legislation in Europe, the e-waste sector has shown that proper e-waste management is good for the environment and essential for a sustainable economy.
The 1.8 million tonnes of e-waste produced in India this year has the potential to generate up to 300,000 jobs, provided a new sector, valued at over $3 billion annually, is established.
Many more jobs can be secured in the production sector because recycling precious and critical metals is the basis for manufacturing new products in the country, especially since resources are becoming scarce and more expensive. In Europe, our hi-tech wastes are already called the “urban mine”.

Way ahead:

  • To develop a prosperous market, it is necessary for products that are not being used or repaired to reach proper recycling facilities. Currently, the informal sector dominates the e-waste sector in India, using manual dismantling and crude, low quality (or non-existent) processing technology.
    However, India’s khabadiwalas provide a much better collection service to its citizens as compared to Europe, leading to a higher collection rate of e-waste in India.
    This service must be strengthened by formalising the collectors and converting the informal processors into formalised dismantlers.
  • Considering the challenges associated with the attitude, capacity, and capabilities of some formal recyclers in India, strong enforcement by government institutions is very important.
  • Simultaneously, several producers and importers of electrical and electronic equipment who are obliged by law to take over the responsibility for the products at the end-of-life stage have adopted a “wait and see” approach by attempting to avert their financing obligation.
    A balance must be struck and regulators must take care not to over-regulate the market which could hinder healthy growth of the e-waste sector.

Conclusion:

There is a critical need for all stakeholders to join hands to make the above possible.
Private households, small businesses, bulk consumers and public institutions must dispose of their obsolete equipment responsibly.
Dismantlers and recyclers must adopt the zero-waste approach.
Producers (and importers) must contribute their share by taking over the financial responsibility for responsible collection and treatment of e-waste while also improving the design of their new products to enable longer life of products and easier repair, and recycling.

A lot of our jobs in the future depend directly or indirectly on the resources that we can save or recover today.

Connecting the dots:

  • E-waste produced in India has the potential to generate thousands of jobs, given the waste management system is improved and properly regulated. Disucss.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)

Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Q.1) Which of the following statements are true regarding the ‘Gaj Yatra’ campaign?

  1. It is a nationwide campaign launched by the Wildlife Trust of India in collaboration with Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  2. The campaign aims to protect the elephant and its habitat and at securing 100 elephant corridors across India.

Select the correct option

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 1 and 2 both
  4. None of the above

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