IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 23rd August 2018
National Disaster Management Plan
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Disaster Management; International relations
- National Disaster Management Plan, brought out by the Central government in May 2016, deals with taking voluntary aid from other nations.
- In other words, the plan states that any voluntary offer of assistance from other countries can be accepted.
- UAE has offered ₹700 crore to Kerala. It contrasts with the ₹600 crore given by the Indian government so far for relief and rehabilitation process. Maldives and Saudi Arabia have also pledged to help.
- The Kerala government has asked the Centre to go by the 2016 NDM Plan to accept ₹700 crore UAE offer or compensate the state.
Do you know?
- The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, is required to coordinate with the Ministry of External Affairs, which is primarily responsible for reviewing foreign offers of assistance and channelising the same.
- India has said a polite ‘no’ to offers of foreign assistance to the Kerala flood victims.
- MEA clearly indicated India’s preference for domestic resources over foreign assistance.
NGT on e-Waste
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Ecology; Role of Judiciary
- National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to submit an action plan on e-waste management within three months.
- NGT‘s direction is against unauthorised “recycling, collection, dismantling, burning, selling” of e-waste and other solid waste on roadsides and riverbanks.
- NGT noted that it was in violation of E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016, and Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
Do you know?
- Electronic waste accounts for 40% of lead and 70% of all heavy metal found in landfills.
- Burning and selling of e-waste and other solid waste results in groundwater contamination and air pollution.
Child abuse: Discrepancies in Children care homes data
Part of: GS Mains II – Social issue – Child abuse; Role of Judiciary
- A 2016-17 survey, commissioned by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, shows that 4.73 lakh children reside in care homes nationwide.
- However, the number of children in care homes came down to 2.61 lakh in the data submitted by the Centre before the Supreme Court in March 2018.
- SC shocked at 2 lakh ‘missing’ children
- Data on care homes show big disparity
- Either the childcare homes had given an inflated number of children to get more funds or these children are missing
- Children are subjected to corporal punishment and other abuse in these homes.
- The SC Bench proposed to set up oversight committees at the national and State levels to monitor the functioning of childcare homes.
Do you know?
Provision related to Children in “Constitution of India”
- Article 14 and 15
- Article 21A. The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.
- Article 24. No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.
- Article 39. The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing— that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.
- Article 45. The State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.
- Article 51A. It shall be the duty of every citizens of India- who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years]
Right to retire
Part of: GS Mains – Health issue
- Supreme Court recently ruled that – the State can stop government doctors from taking voluntary retirement in public interest.
- The fundamental right to retire is not above the right to save lives in a country where government hospitals cater to the poorest.
- Qualified doctors did not join the public service, and even if they did so, they chose voluntary retirement and went into lucrative private practice.
Related Constitutional provisions
SC held that –
- The State governments have an obligation “to make an endeavour under Article 47 to look after the provisions for health and nutrition.”
- The doctors, as citizens, have certain fundamental duties under Article 51(A) towards their fellow citizens.
- The right to practise a profession under Article 19(1)(g) is subject to the interest of the general public.
Open Defecation Free Plus
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Health issue; Government schemes and Policies
Under new norms, cities and towns wanting to be declared ODF+ (Open Defecation Free Plus) must also be free of public urination and not just open defecation.
This is the first time that the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) is officially including the elimination of open urination in its agenda.
The ODF+ and ODF++ protocols (released recently by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs) are the next step for the SBM-U and aim to ensure sustainability in sanitation outcomes.
Difference between ODF protocol, ODF+ and ODF++
- Original ODF protocol issued in March 2016, said – “A city/ward is notified as ODF city/ward if, at any point of the day, not a single person is found defecating in the open.”
- The new ODF+ protocol, issued last week, says that a city, ward or work circle could be declared ODF+ if, “at any point of the day, not a single person is found defecating and/or urinating in the open, and all community and public toilets are functional and well-maintained.”
- The ODF++ protocol adds the condition that “faecal sludge/septage and sewage is safely managed and treated, with no discharging and/or dumping of untreated faecal sludge/septage and sewage in drains, water bodies or open areas.”
General Studies 2
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
In search of greatness: Brain Drain
In most of the international recognitions and awards, Indian origin persons of talent are able to make their place. But Indians residing and working in India are not able to get significant global recognition.
- The Fields Medal, popularly seen as the equivalent of a Nobel Prize, is awarded once in four years to two-four mathematicians below the age of 40. In its long history, no woman had won this medal until 2014 when an Iranian, Maryam Mirzakhani, won it for the first time.
- No Indian has yet won it although it was also in 2014 that for the first time an Indian-origin Canadian-American mathematician, Manjul Bhargava, was awarded.
- In the recently announced prize for 2018, an Australian mathematician, Akshay Venkatesh, was awarded. He too happens to be of Indian origin.
- It is the same case with respect to the Nobel Prizes in science. Indian-origin scientists have won the Nobel in physics, chemistry and medicine, but post-Independence, work done in India has not led to a science Nobel.
Other fields in which India have produced world beaters:
- Chess and badminton are examples, youngsters not only took to these sports, but under intense, and many time brutal, competition succeeded in coming to the top.
- There is a systematic creation of groups of individuals who are reaching the pinnacle in these sports.
- Similarly, we have global leaders in music, arts and literature.
- Some Indians might take pride in the ancestry of these latter two winners, but has the country contributed anything to their growth as mathematicians?
- Would Prof. Bhargava and Prof. Venkatesh have produced the work that won these prizes if they had studied and worked in India?
- Is it that we are embarrassed about greatness and much prefers to deal with mediocrity and ordinariness?
- As an institutional culture, is it that we prefer to discover greatness ‘outside’ rather than acknowledge it amongst ourselves?
Reasons for mediocrity in science education
- The revolution in chess and badminton was possible through great personal sacrifices of the players and their families.
- In many cases, securing even minimal funds from government or the private sector was difficult and the perseverance of parents, as well as the hard work of the children and the coaches, made this revolution possible.
- In contrast, the training for science begins from a state-sponsored and socially sanctioned education system right from primary school.
- At every step there are numerous scholarships, cash awards and incentives given to students to excel in these subjects.
- Although achieving greatness in science is not like that in sports or music, it is nevertheless important to understand why our contribution in science does not match this enormous cultural capital.
- Three main reasons that contribute to this culture of mediocrity, the nature of school education, the state of science administration, and our cultural response to the idea of excellence.
- Nature of school education
- While all over the world, children are becoming more independent in terms of their intellectual practices, our students are becoming more and more like little soldiers marching from one class to other and from one to other tuition.
- Science education is not egalitarian and is designed to keep people out rather than embrace diversity and multiplicity of background, language and talents.
- This is done in the name of merit, and yet it is precisely this merit that we lack on the global stage.
- The state of science administration
- Given the amount of support from successive governments, it is remarkable that very little has changed.
- Government funding agencies and a host of others which disburse hundreds of crores of rupees for research in science are not held accountable to the results.
- So many projects worth crores end up with some minor publications.
- Scientists know best how personal contacts and networks are still so important in securing funds and other incentives in science in India today.
- Cultural response to the idea of excellence
- The school system as well as science administration are both linked together by a common problem: the inability to understand and deal with excellence.
- In academic institutions across the country, it is far more difficult for a person to stand out in terms of high quality work since the system has little support for excellence.
- Part of the reason is that we do not have confidence in our own judgment of quality.
An evaluation of ‘greatness’ in India
- Great work in any domain is not produced in isolation. Greatness is deeply cultural and arises from a particular attitude and not subject competence alone.
- For great work to be possible in science, the larger society has to produce great work in art, literature, humanities and so on.
- But we have produced a science ecosystem which does not seem to understand this, nor recognise how this insularity has only contributed to mediocre science.
- Our education system has reduced the notions of competence and merit only to that of science, thereby denying the greatness inherent in so many other domains.
- Children who could have excelled in so many other disciplines and activities end up being forced to do science or being in education systems which put very little premium on other disciplines.
- At the same time, countless artists and musicians struggle to survive in spite of creating great work.
- As long as this myopic vision of science, the hegemony of science education and the unprofessional cult of Indian science administration continue, we are not going to win Fields medal or Nobel prizes in science any time soon.
Do you know?
Government has taken many steps to control and capitalise the Brain drain from India:
- Visiting Advanced Joint Research (VAJRA) Faculty Scheme and Ramanujan Fellowship of the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB)
- Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellowship of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT)
- INSPIRE Faculty Fellowship of the Department of Science and Technology (DST)
If Indians studying and working abroad can have a great impact, then obviously the problem has to do with our systems of education and research. There is a need to do fundamental changes to not only our education system, but also our social and political approach towards creative environment and culture of greatness.
Connecting the dots:
- India is having the third largest scientific manpower in the world. But its creative contribution to science has been way below par. Critically comment.
General Studies 3
- Climate Change
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Pulling back from the brink: Climate Change
- A group of scientists have published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences deliberating on how the planet might move into a high temperature “hothouse earth” pathway from where there would be no return.
- The paper identifies a threshold beyond which the earth’s systems are no longer able to stabilise at intermediate rises in temperature.
- The authors point out that technology trends and decisions taken in the next decade or two will determine the path of the earth system over the next hundreds of thousands of years.
- The Holocene, which began about 12,000 years ago, is the stable epoch during which Homo sapiens settled and developed agriculture and other technological innovations.
- These led to social and economic transformations, which have brought the world to this juncture.
- Human activity, supported by the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, led to an increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are now causing global warming.
- This time period, the epoch when humans play a dominant role in shaping the earth systems, is being referred to as the Anthropocene.
- The delicate equilibrium of the biosphere/earth system has to do with processes that amplify or dampen warming.
- For instance, melting of Greenland ice increases open waters that absorb more sunlight and then increase warming and cause further melting. This is a positive feedback.
- With the increase in carbon dioxide (CO2), chemical-weathering increases and removes CO2 from the atmosphere over geological time — an example of a negative feedback.
- When positive feedbacks become stronger than the negative ones, the system may change abruptly and get pushed out of equilibrium.
- The earth and its systems have shifted between alternative states through long-term processes over its geological history. Now, it appears we are approaching some critical thresholds.
- Many feedbacks respond either continuously or show abrupt change. A geophysical tipping point is a threshold beyond which a system moves from one stable state to another.
- This study indicates that crossing a threshold (roughly determined to be about 2º Celsius warmer than pre-industrial times) would lead to the tumbling of a series of tipping points, like a set of dominoes.
- The destruction of the Amazon forest due to wildfires, the loss of permafrost with warming, the weakening of CO2 absorption by the oceans or the melting of polar ice caps, among many other slow-moving catastrophes, are examples.
- Even if the Paris Agreement of 2015 is implemented and we managed to keep warming below 2º C or even 1.5º C, the risk of a cascade of feedbacks that pushes the earth into the hothouse path may be unavoidable.
- In order to stabilise the earth, we would have to recognise and then carry out deliberate, sustained action to secure earth systems and also adapt to a warmer world.
- Given history and the state of the biosphere, some scientists are not hopeful about avoiding the hothouse path. Others believe that it could still be avoided and the earth could stabilise at a rise below 2º C through infrastructural, societal and institutional transformations.
- Incremental changes along with increasing contributions from renewables and improvements in energy efficiencies would not be sufficient. Technological solutions alone are insufficient.
- To deal with climate change, Fundamental shifts in social values and economic customs are essential.
Connecting the dots:
- To deal with the climate change, technological solutions alone are insufficient. Elucidate.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Consider the following statements:
- National Disaster Management Plan does not allow State Governments to take voluntary aid from other nations.
- National Disaster Management Authority is an agency of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2) The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified the E-Waste Management Rules, 2016 in supersession of the e-waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2011. Which of the following statements are correct regarding e – Waste?
- e – Waste includes CFLs and other lamps containing mercury.
- Producers have been made responsible for collection of E-waste and for its exchange.
- A provision for penalty for violation of rules has been introduced.
Select the code from below:
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- All of the above
Q.3) The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing— children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.
The above provision is provided under –
- Article 45
- Article 51A
- Article 39
- Article 42
Q.4) Which among the following protocol deals with the condition that “faecal sludge/septage and sewage is safely managed and treated, with no discharging and/or dumping of untreated faecal sludge/septage and sewage in drains, water bodies or open areas?
- Open Defecation Free Plus
- Open Defecation Free
- Open Defecation Free Plus Plus
- Open Urination Free
Tilting at windmills
Elite sand in the machine
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