IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 13th October 2018
(PRELIMS + MAINS SNIPPETS)
Panel to study issues raised by #MeTooIndia
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Women issue; Government policies and laws dealing with sexual harassment
- Ministry for Women and Child Development to constitute group of legal experts to examine the existing legal and institutional framework to deal with complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace
- The expert committee is expected to advise the Ministry to strengthen the existing framework
Do you know?
- The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is a legislative act in India that seeks to protect women from sexual harassment at their place of work.
- The Act came into force from 9 December 2013. This statute superseded the Vishakha Guidelines for prevention of sexual harassment introduced by the Supreme Court of India.
- The Act will ensure that women are protected against sexual harassment at all the work places, be it in public or private. This will contribute to realisation of their right to gender equality, life and liberty and equality in working conditions everywhere.
- The sense of security at the workplace will improve women’s participation in work, resulting in their economic empowerment and inclusive growth.
Silver Jubilee celebrations of NHRC
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Role of Constitutional and Non Constitutional Bodies; Government schemes and policies; Welfare issue
- PM Modi inaugurated Silver Jubilee celebrations of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
- PM said NHRC has an important role to play in government’s efforts to achieve sustainable development goals.
Govt committed to improve lives of people by ensuring their rights
- Mr Modi cited Ayushman Bharat, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Swachh Bharat, Saubhagya Yojana as schemes aimed towards providing dignified life for all.
- He said government is moving ahead with the aim of employment for all, education for all and health care for all.
- The Prime Minister stated that, government brought triple talaq bill to ensure the rights of Muslim women. He said the government also worked for rights of persons with disabilities. He said social media can play a big role in spreading awareness about human rights.
- He also hailed the Ayushmaan Bharat scheme, saying 50,000 people have benefited from it within two and a half weeks of its launch.
PM on NHRC
- Prime Minister said NHRC has acted as the voice of the weaker sections and played an important role in the nation-building.
- During the last four years, serious efforts have been made to raise the dignity of the oppressed section of the society. He said, during the dark period of emergency, human rights were violated but people of the country worked hard to regain these rights.
Do you know?
- The NHRC was set up on the 12th October, 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Act, passed by Parliament.
India Elected To UN Human Rights Council With Most Number Of Votes
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – International Affairs; Role of India – country’s standing in the international community
- India got elected to the United Nations’ top human rights body for a period of three years beginning January 1, 2019.
- India got 188 votes in the Asia-Pacific category, the highest number of votes among all candidates.
- The 193-member UN General Assembly held elections for new members to the UN Human Rights Council.
- The 18 new members were elected by absolute majority through a secret ballot. Countries needed a minimum of 97 votes to get elected to the Council.
- India’s win reflects the country’s standing in the international community.
Do you know?
- India had previously been elected to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council for the 2011-2014 and 2014-2017 term.
- Its last tenure had ended on December 31, 2017 and in accordance with the rules, it was not eligible for immediate re-election since it had already served two consecutive terms.
Overhaul GDP norms: MPs
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy and issues associated with it
Report by Estimates Committee of Parliament says –
- The current manner in which the GDP is measured needs an overhaul as it provides an incomplete estimation of economic activity.
- The current GDP and Gross Value Added measures have also been questioned by Opposition leaders and economists alike. The Opposition even accused the Narendra Modi government of fudging the figures.
- The committee noted that the GDP calculation did not measure the depletion of natural resources, a point several economists, including former Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian, have pointed out.
- The report said the current measure of GDP did not incorporate the economic contributions of women in running households and maintaining accounts; nor did it have any measure of whether an increase in GDP resulted in an increase in happiness.
Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (STIAC)
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Science and Technology; Role of Technology in Health Sector; Health issue
- Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (STIAC) held its first meeting.
- Key decision announced – India is planning a major mission to sequence the genes of a “large” group of Indians — akin to projects in the U.K., China, Japan and Australia — and use this to improve the health of the population.
- The Health and Family Welfare Ministry and the Biotechnology Department will be closely associated with the project.
Do you know?
- Ever since the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in 2009 announced that it had sequenced the genome of an Indian, then making India one of six countries to achieve such a feat, several research labs have analysed genes from Indians for disease susceptibility.
- However, no compendium of genes that differentiate Indian populations from, say, Caucasian or African genomes exist.
- A group of Indian scientists and companies are involved with a 100k GenomeAsia project, led by the National Technological University (NTU), Singapore, to sequence the whole genomes of 100,000 Asians, including 50,000 Indians.
Important Value Additions:
About GenomeAsia 100k:
- GenonieAsia 100k is a non-profit consortium with a mission to generate genomic information for Asian populations and to promote genetic understanding of Asian populations to support research and discovery for healthy living and longevity.
- GenomeAsia 100k, announced an ambitious plan to sequence 100,000 individuals. It is intended to initially include populations from 12 South Asian countries and at least 7 of North and East Asian countries.
- Key goal of the consortium is to accelerate precision medicine applications for Asian patients. It will also build advanced analytical capabilities to parse ‘big-data’ sets, leveraging advances in data science and artificial intelligence.
C-section use doubled in India: Lancet report
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Health issue
- The use of caesarean section increased from 9% of births in 2005-6 to 18.5% in 2015-16 in India.
- While the surgery is still unavailable for many women and children in low-income countries and regions, the procedure is overused in many middle-and high-income settings
- Globally, C-section use has increased by 3.7% each year between 2000-2015 — rising from 12% of live births (16 million of 131.9 million) in 2000, to 21% of live births (29.7 million of 140.6 million) in 2015, researchers said.
Do you know?
- C-section is a life-saving intervention for women and newborns when complications occur, such as bleeding, foetal distress, hypertensive disease, and babies in abnormal position.
- However, the surgery is not without risk for mother and child, and is associated with complications in future births.
- It is estimated that only 10-15% of births medically require a C-section due to complications, suggesting that average C-section use should lie between these levels.
- Concern: In at least 15 countries, C-section use exceeds 40%, researchers said.
Given the increasing use of C-section, even when medically not required, there is a crucial need to understand the health effects on women and children
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources
The Higher Education: Reading between the rankings
- Two recent developments draw our attention to the state of India’s universities.
- The first is the release of the annual ranking of the world’s universities by the Times Higher Education (THE).
- The other is an announcement by the Prime Minister, as reported in the press, which has an even closer bearing on the future of higher education here.
THE Ranking: The newcomers’ signal
- The universities placed at the top all have breadth in the range of disciplines offered and have been recognised as centers of knowledge production for decades, if not for centuries.
- In the ranking of India’s universities, while the Indian Institute of Science topped, the list of Indian institutions that made it to the global top one thousand, three very new ones improved their ranking considerably.
- These are IIT Indore, which finished ahead of most of its ‘founding five’ sisters, the JSS University, Mysuru and the Amrita University, Coimbatore.
- To get a definite idea of what contributed to the higher rankings of these universities we would need to study the indicators chosen by the THE.
- And the reasons that, though located in smaller cities, they could lead the three universities of Calcutta, Madras and Mumbai, set up in the mid-1800s and with a large number of students on their rolls.
- It would seem that there is something these three institutions in question are doing which leaves them ahead of a very large number of much older Indian universities.
‘Conference on Academic Leadership on Education for Resurgence’
- There was held in Delhi the ‘Conference on Academic Leadership on Education for Resurgence’, jointly organised by University Grants Commission, All India Council for Technical Education and the Indian Council for Social Science Research, among other institutions.
- This event was attended by over 350 Vice Chancellors and representatives of the universities. This is a powerful grouping indeed.
- Delivering the inaugural address, the Prime Minister announced that the government would make available Rs. 1 lakh crore for infrastructure in higher education by 2022.
- The Prime Minister is also reported to have emphasised the importance of the Indian Institutes of Management Bill of 2017 granting autonomy to the IIMs.
- He correctly pointed out that this meant that the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) will no longer dictate their curricula.
- Somewhat earlier the government had announced a list of ‘institutions of eminence’, the idea underlying which was that they are now free to set their own rules and regulations.
- While the freeing of universities from external control and increasing their resource base is for the better, the question is whether these moves can by themselves raise higher education in India to the desirable global level.
State of higher education in India
- There are two aspects that need acknowledgement from a survey of the state of higher education in India.
- First, the rankings, though imperfect, suggest that Indian universities are lagging in their research output.
- Another aspect, namely the migration overseas even at the undergraduate level, suggests that not even the dissemination of knowledge here is considered good enough by Indians.
- The estimated flow of income overseas due to fees paid to foreign universities is around $2 billion.
- Surely, resources cannot be the barrier to providing world-class teaching in India?
- University teachers are paid well enough and the availability of material is no longer a problem, with highly affordable Indian editions of the best international textbooks.
University culture vs Excellence and autonomy
- The crucial factor is the absence of the norms internal to the Indian university that enable desirable outcomes with respect to teaching and research.
- Among these norms would be an expectation of excellence from both teachers and students and the assurance of autonomy to the former.
- This autonomy, it may be asserted, is to be expected not only in relation to external agencies such as the UGC or the MHRD but also within the university, including from peers.0
- In India the culture of university pervades beneath the mushroom cloud of UGC regulations, governing everything from hours to assessment.
- There are no norms making for the attainment of excellence or the empowerment of faculty so that they deliver to their highest potential.
- On the other hand, one often encounters established practices that reward mediocrity and restrict autonomy of the faculty.
- It needs to be emphasised that this ‘culture’ is mostly owed to the university itself; it is not something that is imposed upon it.
- The autonomy of a teacher is both a value in itself and designed to contribute to the larger goal of excellence in the production and dissemination of knowledge.
- In India this value receives little recognition and its crystallisation is thwarted, irrespective of the ideological persuasion of the regime governing the university.
- It is not as if the idea of the university as a space of freedom and intellectual responsibility has received universal acceptance globally.
- However, the best regarded universities of the world today yet harbour some of the norms which ensure that they remain ahead.
- Culture may be difficult to measure but when its meaning is reduced to norms as the rules of the game, it is easy for us to see what is missing here.
- No amount of display of concerns over India’s place in the world university rankings or pumping resources into infrastructure building can help if the culture is not conducive to creativity.
- Its culture is a university’s most valuable resource. Feeding a repressive culture is a bad omen for the future of our universities and, therefore, India’s place in the world of knowledge.
- Rightly we regret the fact that Nalanda, an international university that had flourished in India over a millennium ago, was destroyed through foreign invasion.
- Today our universities may be being destroyed by our own short-sightedness.
Connecting the dots:
- Autonomy and excellence are directly proportional, for competitive university education outcomes, do you agree? Elucidate with examples.
TOPIC:General Studies 3
- Economics, Growth and development
- Environment and climate change
- Science and Technology
Nobel in Economics: An economics fix
American economists William D. Nordhaus and Paul M. Romer were jointly awarded the 50th economics Nobel prize this week in recognition of their work on economic growth and its long-run sustainability.
Contribution of these two economists
- The Nobel committee noted that the duo’s work “brought us considerably closer to answering the important question of how we can achieve sustained and sustainable economic growth”.
- The committee’s praise is fitting as both economists devoted their careers to the study of the various “externalities” or “spillovers” that affect economic growth in a market economy.
- Mr. Nordhaus, for one, has been a pioneer in the movement towards quantifying the impact of economic growth on the climate and, in turn, the impact of climate change on economic growth.
- To correct this problem, he recommended imposing appropriate carbon taxes to curb pollution that was detrimental to growth in the long run.
- Mr. Romer, on the other hand, studied the importance of technology in achieving economic growth.
- He proposed the endogenous growth model where technological progress is seen as the outgrowth of businesses and other entities investing in research and development.
- At the same time, he recognised ways in which the market economy may undersupply technological innovations.
- Consequently, he recommended the use of subsidies, patents and other forms of government intervention to encourage economic growth through increased investment in technology.
- In essence, the Nobel committee’s decision is recognition of economic research concerning market failure.
- It may often be impossible to arrive at an objective measure of the carbon tax rate or the ideal amount of pollution to allow in a developing economy.
- It is equally troublesome when one needs to determine how much subsidy, or other forms of government support, should be allotted towards research and development.
- Even though mathematical models have been devised to address these problems, they are only as good as the data fed into them.
- Further, such decisions regarding the perfect carbon tax rate or the ideal subsidy allocation are likely to be determined by political considerations rather than simply pure economics.
- So the threat of government failure may have to be taken as seriously as the effects of market failure.
- These concerns lead to questions about the real-world impact of the policies supported by the pair.
- Nonetheless, many would argue that Mr. Nordhaus and Mr. Romer’s works are an improvement from the past in that they try to use the market mechanism itself to address its failures.0
- The Nobel committee has done well to recognise important work on issues that are particularly relevant to the developing world.
Connecting the dots:
- The environmental “externalities” or “spillovers” that affect economic growth in a market economy are greatest problems before developing countries like India. Elucidate
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act 2013, was passed to protect women from sexual harassment. Which of the following statements are correct regarding this act?
- It is compulsory for an organization with atleast 100 or more employees to set up an internal complaints committee for addressing complaints of sexual harassment.
- It covers all kinds of work places including non – traditional ones as well as transport provided for work.
- It includes, unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature, showing pornography, physical contact or advances, and making sexually-coloured remarks.
Select the code from following:
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- All of the above
Q.2) The Women and Child Development Ministry launched an e – portal, SHe – box. The platform has been made to register
- Complaints of Central Government women employees regarding maternity facilities in offices.
- Complaints regarding gender discrimination in work and payment.
- Complaints related to workplace related sexual harassment.
- Complaints against domestic violence and abuse.
Q.3) Consider the following with regard to National Human Rights Commission:
- It is a non-statutory and non-constitutional body.
- It can intervene in any proceeding involving allegation of violation of human rights pending before a court.
- The commission is not empowered to inquire into any matter after the expiry of one year from the date on which the act constituting violation of human rights is alleged to have been committed.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3
Q.4) Which among the following statements is/are correct in regard to Protection of Human Rights Act?
- It provided for the constitution of a National Human Rights Commission and also Human Rights Courts.
- It made it mandatory for the State Governments to constitute State Human Rights Commission.
Choose the correct answer from the code given below:
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.5) Consider the following statements about National Human Rights commission:
- NHRC is central authority for Human rights enforcement established by Parliament in 1993.
- The Chairman of the commission should be a retired Chief Justice of India.
- The Commission can take cognizance of complaints against any individual but only within the territory of India.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- Only 1
- 1 and 2
- Only 2
- 1,2 and 3
Q.6) Consider the following statements about Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
- It is established by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council (HRC)
- It is a process in which human rights record of each of the UN’s member countries is peer-reviewed every four or five years
- The recommendations accepted at the UPR in HRC are binding in nature
Select the correct statements
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- All of the above
Q.7) Which of the following statements about Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) is/are correct?
- It will be chaired by Prime Minister.
- It is set to act as a high-level advisory body to several ministries and execute mission-oriented programmes for these ministries.
Select the correct codes from the given options:
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- None of the above
Reading between the rankings
As the rupee spins downwards
In Kolar, a parched land in a sea of sewage
Bank as a trustee
The river’s flow
Erasing caste from hate crime
The agrarian reformer
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