IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 13th September 2018
U.S. threatens sanctions on ICC
Part of: GS Mains II and Prelims – International
- US has threatened to prosecute International Criminal Court (ICC) officials if Americans are charged with war crimes committed in Afghanistan.
- Hague-based court’s response – As a court of law, will continue to do its work undeterred, in accordance with those principles and the overarching idea of the rule of law.
Do you know?
- The Hague-based ICC was set up in 2002 with a jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute the world’s worst crimes, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
- The court, however, does not have the capacity to arrest suspects and depends on member states for their cooperation.
- The United States has not signed up to the court and in 2002, its Congress passed a law enabling Washington to invade the Netherlands to liberate any U.S. citizen held by the court.
Part of: GS Mains I and II and Prelims – International; Geography (World)
- Hurricane Florence to hit America
- Emergency declared for both North Carolina and South Carolina
- A hurricane is a type of storm called a tropical cyclone, which forms over tropical or subtropical waters.
- Hurricanes are large, swirling storms. They produce winds of 119 kilometers per hour (74 mph) or higher. That’s faster than a cheetah, the fastest animal on land.
- Hurricanes form over warm ocean waters. Sometimes they strike land. When a hurricane reaches land, it pushes a wall of ocean water ashore. This wall of water is called a storm surge. Heavy rain and storm surge from a hurricane can cause flooding.
How Does a Storm Become a Hurricane?
- A hurricane starts out as a tropical disturbance. This is an area over warm ocean waters where rain clouds are building.
- A tropical disturbance sometimes grows into a tropical depression. This is an area of rotating thunderstorms with winds of 62 km/hr (38 mph) or less.
- A tropical depression becomes a tropical storm if its winds reach 63 km/hr (39 mph).
- A tropical storm becomes a hurricane if its winds reach 119 km/hr (74 mph).
What Makes Hurricanes Form?
- Scientists don’t know exactly why or how a hurricane forms. But they do know that two main ingredients are needed.
- One ingredient is warm water. Warm ocean waters provide the energy a storm needs to become a hurricane. Usually, the surface water temperature must be 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher for a hurricane to form.
The other ingredient is winds that don’t change much in speed or direction as they go up in the sky. Winds that change a lot with height can rip storms apart.
SEBI reforms on FPI consent norms
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Government schemes and Policies; Indian Economy and related issues
- Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to give final shape to the regulations governing investments by foreign investors especially those managed by Non-Resident Indians (NRIs).
- Decision after feedback on Khan panel recommendations.
- The FPI norms have been in the news in the recent past with overseas investors objecting to a circular issued in April that barred NRIs, along with Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and Resident Indians (RIs) from managing the investments of SEBI-registered FPIs.
Cabinet clears new procurement policy
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Agriculture, MSP, PDS, Procurement and storage
- The Centre has announced a Rs. 15,053 crore scheme to ensure that farmers growing oilseeds, pulses and copra actually get the minimum support prices (MSP) they are promised for their crops every year.
Current status of MSP and Government procurement
- About one-third of the harvest of the two major foodgrains, rice and wheat, are procured by the Centre at the MSP for sale in ration shops.
- However, most of the 21 other crops are sold at market prices, often below the MSP, as the government’s procurement operations are temporary.
- Over the last two years, the government has increased the procurement of pulses and oilseeds at MSP under the Price Support Scheme.
About Policy: Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan (PM-AASHA)
- The umbrella policy — Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan (PM-AASHA) — was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
- It clubs together an existing procurement scheme with newly introduced options — meant for oilseeds only — of additional procurement by private traders or a cash payment scheme.
- The Cabinet approved government credit guarantee of Rs. 16,550 crore for agencies undertaking procurement.
- The government announces minimum support prices for 23 crops every year. This year, these rates were set at 50% higher than the farmers’ production costs, including labour cost.
Copra, pulses will still get price support
- Under the PM-AASHA scheme, the existing Price Support Scheme (PSS) will continue for pulses and copra, with Central agencies physically procuring the produce whenever the market rates fall below MSP, up to a maximum limit of 25% of the total harvest.
- The Centre will bear the costs, as per existing guidelines.
- For oilseeds, the States will be allowed to choose between the PSS or two new schemes.
- One, the Price Deficiency Payment Scheme is modelled on the Bhavantar experiment in Madhya Pradesh last year, where there is no physical procurement at all.
- Farmers will sell their produce in the market, and the government will directly pay them the difference between the MSP and the average market rate.
- The cash payment will be deposited in their bank accounts. The burden will be shared between centre and states.
- Two, a pilot scheme where selected private agencies will procure the commodity at the MSP, instead of the government.
- NAFED has a stock of more than 4 million tonnes [of pulses and oilseeds] because of the last two years’ procurement, but their distribution policy is non-existent. Market prices are 30% lower than the MSP, who is going to bear the loss?
- Earlier experiments with private procurement had collapsed once demand fell.
India’s health report reads worse
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Health
- The ‘India State-level Disease Burden Initiative’ report is a joint initiative of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, along with experts and stakeholders associated with over 100 Indian institutions.
Findings of report on NCDs
- Indians have registered a 50% increase in the prevalence of ischemic heart disease and stroke over the period from 1990 to 2016.
- The number of diabetes cases increased from 26 million to 65 million.
- In the same period, the number of people ailing from chronic obstructive lung disease went up from 28 million to 55 million.
- The proportional contribution of cancers to the total loss of health in India has doubled from 1990 to 2016, but the incidence of different types of cancers varies widely between the States.
- The State-wise disease burden showed that Punjab has been ranked at the top for the burden of ischemic heart disease, followed by Tamil Nadu, and vice-versa for diabetes.
- West Bengal topped with the largest number of stroke cases followed by Odisha, according to the comprehensive analysis of several major non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
- Kerala was ranked at the top for the burden of cancer, followed by Assam.
- Being overweight was found to be a major risk factor for diabetes doubled in every State of India from 1990 to 2016.
- Highest rate of increase in ischemic heart disease and diabetes is in the less developed States of India.
- The proportional contribution of cancers to disease burden in India has doubled since 1990, but the incidence of individual cancers varies widely between the States, the reasons for which need to be understood better to guide prevention and control of cancer.
- Findings of this report are very timely for the planning of Ayushman Bharat, the National Health Protection Mission.
Findings of report on Suicide
- Suicide is the leading cause of death in the 15-39 years age group in India. 71.2% of the suicide deaths among women and 57.7% among men were in this age group.
- India’s contribution to global suicide deaths increased from 25.3% in 1990 to 36.6% in 2016 among women, and from 18.7% to 24.3% among men.
- The suicide rate among the elderly has increased over the past quarter century.
- India must develop a suicide-prevention strategy that takes into account these variations in order to address this major public health problem, it stated.
- The ten-fold variation between the States in the SDR for women emphasises the need to better understand the reasons behind these suicides and make concerted efforts to reduce this avoidable loss of predominantly young lives.
- If the trends observed up to 2016 continued, the probability of India achieving Sustainable Development Goals for SDR reduction in 2030 will be zero.
- Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana, which are in the higher-middle and high epidemiological transition level groups, consistently had a higher SDR for both men and women
Criminal politicians: special courts to be set up to fast-track the long-pending trials of lawmakers
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Governance, Constitution, Polity
- 25 States and UTs did not respond to repeated Supreme Court orders for information about the number of criminal cases pending against their MPs/MLAs and the setting up of special courts to exclusively try them.
- Due to lack of enthusiasm on the part of the States, the Supreme Court would monitor the compliance of its orders to form special courts to try MPs/MLAs and the functioning of these courts.
- SC also directed authorities to provide information on the functionality of 12 special courts which have already been set up in 11 States.
- It has also sought information on the volume of cases required to be transferred to the special courts and whether there is a need to set up more such courts.
- Of the 11 States, Delhi has two special courts while Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have one each.
- The Supreme Court had in December 2017, ordered special courts to be set up to fast-track the long-pending trials of lawmakers.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources
- Government schemes and Policies
Encouraging young minds
- When the Fields medals were awarded earlier this year, the Indian media was quick to highlight that Akshay Venkatesh, one of the four medal winners, is of Indian descent.
- There arises a question, did our education system has contributed to Prof. Venkatesh’s achievements? and whether, given the present state of affairs, an Indian education can produce Fields medallists?
Do you Know?
- The Fields Medal is awarded every four years on the occasion of the International Congress of Mathematicians to recognize outstanding mathematical achievement for existing work and for the promise of future achievement.
- The Fields Medal is regarded as one of the highest honors a mathematician can receive, and has been described as the mathematician’s “Nobel Prize”.
- This prize awarded to two, three, or four mathematicians less than 40 years of age.
Indian education system and Fields Medals
- Although Prof. Venkatesh was born in Delhi, his family moved to Australia when he was a child.
- The Indian education system hardly played any role in moulding the child prodigy and this was also rather the case with Manjul Bhargava (Fields medal 2014).
- Subhash Khot, who won the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize in 2014, had more of an Indian education — a bachelor’s degree in computer science at IIT Bombay.
- Indian education system did not produced any Fields medallists.
- There is no dearth of talent, but the opportunities and training that these talents receive — or fail to receive, rather the lack of these makes them less than others.
Programmes in India for training of mathematics students
- One of the programmes in India devoted to training students of mathematics and identifying and nurturing talent is the Mathematics Training and Talent Search, which was started 25 years ago, in 1993.
- There are also programmes that train students to compete in the Mathematics Olympiad.
- Yet the number of students being trained in these programmes is still small.
- With 36.6 million students enrolled in higher education and 36.4% joining the science and humanities streams (All India Survey on Higher Education data), it is safe to assume that there is a considerable gap between the requirement and the availability of training and nurture.
- France, a country with a population close to 6.5 crore, has about 3,000-4,000 scientists. It also boasts of 12 Fields medallists.
- This is comparable to the U.S., which has much more in terms of resources.
- There are schools of talent where a number of Fields medallists were trained in these countries.
- Such schools must be nested in a balanced network of universities, teacher education systems, and most importantly, a solid base in school education.
- It is true that top prizes are not themselves a solution to all problems that beset education in India, but they remain a characteristic of a healthy educational ecosystem.
- Only such an ecosystem can create enough space for young minds to explore abstract mathematical and scientific ideas freely and in turn challenge the boundaries of existing knowledge.
Connecting the dots:
- Give a brief overview of the government steps to promote studies in STEM.
TOPIC: General Studies 1
- Social Empowerment
- Role of women and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies
General Studies 3
- Economic growth
- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it
Prison of patriarchy: Why India’s female workforce participation is so low
Marriage is a career stopper for the majority of Indian women and this cultural abhorrence towards women working is a not-so-subtle way of ensuring that the escape routes out of a marriage are minimised, if not entirely closed.
Female workforce in India
- India’s female workforce participation is among the lowest in the world.
- The Economic Survey 2017-18 revealed that women comprise only 24% of the Indian workforce.
- In fact, as India grows economically, the number of women in workplaces is declining steadily.
- Though the enrolment of girls in higher education courses is growing steadily — to 46% in 2014 from 39% in 2007.
Causes of Low women workforce
- In India’s leaking pipeline of women employees, the first and most significant drop-off point is between the junior and middle management levels.
- A survey by Catalyst, a management consultancy firm, pegged this number at a whopping 50%, compared to 29% in other Asian economies.
- When plotted against life milestones, this often corresponds to the time women choose to get married.
- The cultural baggage about women working outside the home is so strong that in most traditional Indian families, quitting work is a necessary precondition to the wedding itself.
- The richer the family is, the lower the chances that they allow women to pursue a career. In low-income families, economic pressure sometimes trumps social stigma.
- Childbirth and taking care of elderly parents or in-laws account for the subsequent points where women drop off the employment pipeline.
Consequences of decrease in women workforce
- On the macroeconomic level, this suggests that we’re giving up on a 27% boost to the country’s GDP.
- At the individual level, without any recourse to financial means, women stay tethered to the family.
- Ending a marriage is such a daunting task — socially and legally — that even the thought of embarking on it without financial independence is terrifying.
- Having grave consequences at macroeconomic and societal levels, unemployed women suffer at individual level too.
- The Supreme Court has set a benchmark of 25% of a husband’s net salary as a “just and proper” amount for alimony, leaving divorced women with full custody of the children at a quarter of the family income.
- Much credit for India’s low divorce rate goes to this Stockholm syndrome-like situation of Indian marriages.
- Financially independent women are need of the hour for strong economy as well as egalitarian society.
Connecting the dots:
- With the rise in per capita income, women workforce participation in India is declining. Elucidate.
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Q.1) Which of the following statements are correct regarding the ‘International Criminal Court’ (ICC)?
- It is primary judicial branch of the United Nations.
- Rome Statute is the treaty that established the ICC.
- ICC has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
- India is founding member and signatory of ICC.
Choose the correct answer:
- 1, 3 and 4
- 1 and 3 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1, 2, 3 and 4 only
Q.2) The name, Jebi, was in the news recently. Who or what is it?
- The rare breed of polar bear
- A newly found Earth-like planet in a faraway galaxy
- A deadliest and most destructive hurricane
- None of the above
Q.3) Which of the following are preconditions for the formation of a tropical cyclone?
- A low pressure center
- High temperature
- Presence of moisture
- Absence of Coriolis force
Select the code from the following:
- 1,2 and 3
- 2,3 and 4
- 1 and 2
- 1,3 and 4
Q.4) Cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons, may have different names, but cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons are all violent tropical storms that can generate 10 times as much energy as the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Which one of the following most appropriately differentiates the three?
- Names of storms according to their rising strength
- Names of storms in the South Pacific-Indian Ocean, the Atlantic-northeast Pacific and Asia respectively
- Names of storms according to their shape
- Name of storms according to frequency of occurrence
Q.5) Consider the following about “Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan” (PM-AASHA) and choose the correct answer:
- It guarantees a minimum package of antenatal care services to women in their 2nd / 3rd trimesters of pregnancy at designated government health facilities
- It aims to ensure remunerative prices to the farmers
- It aims to provide assured, comprehensive and quality antenatal care, free of cost to all pregnant women residing in rural areas on the 9th of every month.
- It is a flagship social security scheme which ensures food security to the farmers.
Section 377: Drawing a curtain on the past
An education that is in sync
Dam disclosures: on the Kerala floods
Reform that isn’t
In public interest
The commission’s omissions