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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 15th October 2018

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  • October 15, 2018
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains

Focus)- 15th October 2018

Archives


(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Fake encounter killing in India

Part of: GS Mains II – Human Rights issue; Fundamental Rights issue

In news:

  • Five youth were killed in an encounter in eastern Assam’s Dangari in 1994.
  • An Army court in Assam has ordered the dismissal from service and life imprisonment of seven personnel, including a Major General, for killing those five people in a fake encounter.
  • The judgment has strengthened people’s belief in the judiciary. It has also shown that the Army too believes in delivering justice and maintaining its glory that a few officers cannot taint.

Important Value Additions:

  • The fundamental premise of the rule of law is that every human being, including the worst criminal, is entitled to basic human rights and due process.
  • Encounter killings generally take place with the prior consent or in full knowledge of the top authority.

Do you know?

  • NHRC registered 1,782 fake encounter cases between 2000-2017; Uttar Pradesh alone accounts for 44.55%.
  • Following Uttar Pradesh, the next five states which account for the highest number of fake encounter cases are Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Jharkhand and Manipur.
  • Fake encounters are essentially staged confrontations between the police or military forces and victims who the security officials believe to be “culprits”.
  • As per Section 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the NHRC is empowered to recommend compensation, damages, or interim relief to the families of the victim or complainant. Between 2013 and 2017, the NHRC recommended financial relief of Rs 60.07 crore to the affected parties in fake encounter cases.

Windmills pose threat to wildlife: says Study

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment versus development; Conservation of biodiversity

In news:

  • Windmills are seen as a source of green energy, but researchers say they pose a threat to wildlife in forests through collisions and noise.
  • Study by researchers from Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) found that windmills killed birds and bats in collisions, and that birds and mammals also moved away due to the noise.  (leads to conflict with humans)

About Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History

  • Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) is a national centre for information, education and research in ornithology and natural history in India.
  • It was inspired by and named in honour of Salim Ali, the leading pioneer of ornithology in India.
  • It is an autonomous organisation established in 1990 as a public- NGO partnership between the MoEF&CC, and the Bombay Natural History Society(BNHS) under the Centre of Excellence Scheme and registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act.
  • Its headquarters are at Anaikatti, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India.
  • SACON is associated with the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
  • SACON’s mission is: “To help conserve India’s biodiversity and its sustainable use through research, education and peoples’ participation, with birds at the centre stage”.

Do you know?

  • The noise levels near windmills go up to 85 decibels (dB) , which operates day and night.
  • By comparison, noise in urban areas is 55 dB and even in industrial areas, is lower at 75dB.
  • Ambient noise in forests is less than 40 dB.

Reforms to sexual harassment law and Justice J.S. Verma Committee recommendations

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Women issue; Role of Judiciary

In news:

  • We recently read that the Centre has planned to set up a panel of judges to look into the legal and institutional framework to curb sexual harassment at workplaces following the #MeToo campaign on social media.
  • During 2013, Justice J.S. Verma Committee, in its landmark report on gender laws, had recommended setting up of an employment tribunal instead of an internal complaints committee (ICC) in sweeping changes to the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Bill.
  • However, the Bill was passed unchanged.
  • Verma committee had termed the Sexual Harassment Bill “unsatisfactory” and said it did not reflect the spirit of the Vishakha guidelines — framed by the Supreme Court in 1997 to curb sexual harassment at the workplace.

Has ICC failed?

  • The Verma committee report noted that an internal complaints committee as laid down under the then proposed law would be “counter-productive” as dealing with such complaints in-house could discourage women from filing complaints.
  • Instead, the committee proposed forming an employment tribunal to receive and adjudicate all complaints.
  • To ensure speedy disposal of complaints, the Justice Verma Commitee proposed that the tribunal should not function as a civil court but may choose its own procedure to deal with each complaint.

Justice J.S. Verma Committee recommendations:

  • The committee proposed forming an employment tribunal to receive and adjudicate all complaints. It also proposed that the tribunal should not function as a civil court but may choose its own procedure to deal with each complaint.
  • The Committee said any “unwelcome behaviour” should be seen from the subjective perception of the complainant, thus broadening the scope of the definition of sexual harassment.
  • Onus on employer – The Verma panel said an employer could be held liable if he or she facilitated sexual harassment, permitted an environment where sexual misconduct becomes widespread and systemic, where the employer fails to disclose the company’s policy on sexual harassment and ways in which workers can file a complaint as well as fails to forward a complaint to the tribunal. The company would also be liable to pay compensation to the complainant.
  • The panel also made several suggestions to encourage women to come forward and file complaints. For instance, it opposed penalising women for false complaints and called it an “abusive provision intended to nullify the objective of the law”.
  • The Verman panel also said that the time-limit of three months to file a complaint should be done away with and a complainant should not be transferred without her consent.

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2018/10/15/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_07/a0b93121_2460797_101_mr.jpg


Nipun Saxena Vs Union of India case: Compensation for sexual abuse victims

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Women issue; Role of Judiciary

In news:

  • T.N. State government notifies compensation for sexual abuse victims.
  • The move is in line with the Supreme Court judgment delivered last month.
  • A bench led by Justice Madan B. Lokur had approved the suggestion for compensation while hearing the Nipun Saxena Vs Union of India case and directed that the guidelines be made operational.

Do you know?

  • Survivor of rape will get a cash support of ₹4 lakh minimum; gang rape survivor to get ₹5 lakh
  • If the woman has lost her life, her dependant would be entitled to a compensation of ₹7 lakh.
  • The maximum compensation that could be granted in cases of loss of life as well as gang rape is ₹10 lakh and the maximum compensation for rape could be ₹7 lakh, as per the scheme.

22 Zika cases in Rajasthan

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Health issue

In news:

  • Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has confirmed 22 positive laboratory-confirmed cases of Zika virus in Rajasthan’s capital Jaipur.
  • Zika virus disease is an emerging viral disease transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito and also transmitted via sexual contact.
  • AEDES= Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya, Yellow Fever and West Nile disease
  • 1st identified: Uganda, 1947; was first isolated from Rhesus monkeys in Zika forest near Lake Victoria in Uganda (monitoring network of sylvatic yellow fever)

Do you know?

  • The World Health Organization has recently declared the Zika virus and its suspected link to birth defects as an international public health emergency, a rare move that signals the seriousness of the outbreak and gives countries new tools to fight it.

Need for proper definition of Shell companies

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy; basic economic terminologies

About:

Concern with definition of Shell Companies

  • As multiple agencies and regulators probe the suspected use of ‘only-on-paper’ firms for financial irregularities, the government is looking to put in place a proper definition for ‘shell companies’ so that investigations are not hampered and prosecution can withstand scrutiny in courts of law.
  • The issue had come up after the government cracked down on dummy companies that were used for round-tripping of funds and money laundering.

Current definition for ‘shell companies’ — a term generally used for companies that are set up for financial manoeuvrings only or are kept dormant for some future use.

Officials express that these companies generally exist only on paper and may be used for nefarious activities. Therefore, definition of shell companies should be in line with OECD definition –

  • OECD defines a shell company as ‘being formally registered, incorporated or otherwise legally organised in an economy but which does not conduct any operations in that economy other than in a pass-through capacity’.

India-U.S. tri-services exercise

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – International Relations; India and the World; Defence

In news:

  • The first India-U.S. tri-services exercise is likely to take place in 2019.
  • Talks are on to include the special forces of the two countries in the drill.

Do you know?

  • The three forces of each country already take part in bilateral exercises separately —

(i) their Armies participate in an annual drill called Yudh Abyaas, whose latest edition took place in September, and

(ii) the Air Forces take part in a bilateral drill called Cope India

(iii) The Navies participate in an exercise called Malabar, involving Japan.

But this will be the first time, the three services of India and the U.S. will participate in a drill together.

The Indian Army has Para SF, the Navy has Marcos while the Air Force has the Garud as their respective special forces.


(MAINS FOCUS)


NATIONAL/AGRICULTURE

TOPIC:

General Studies 1

  • Role of women and women’s organization,
  • Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues,

General Studies 3

  • Agriculture and issues related to it

Helping the invisible hands of agriculture

Introduction

  • October 15 is observed, respectively, as International Day of Rural Women by the United Nations and National Women’s Farmer’s Day (Rashtriya Mahila Kisan Diwas) in India.
  • In 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare decided to take the lead in celebrating the event, duly recognising the multidimensional role of women at every stage in agriculture — from sowing to planting, drainage, irrigation, fertilizer, plant protection, harvesting, weeding, and storage.
  • This year, the Ministry has proposed deliberations to discuss the challenges that women farmers face in crop cultivation, animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries.
  • The aim is to work towards an action plan using better access to credit, skill development and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Data and reality

  • According to Oxfam India, women are responsible for about 60-80% of food and 90% of dairy production, respectively.
  • The Agriculture Census (2010-11) shows that out of an estimated 118.7 million cultivators, 30.3% were females.
  • Similarly, out of an estimated 144.3 million agricultural labourers, 42.6% were females.
  • In terms of ownership of operational holdings, according to Agriculture Census (2015-16), Out of a total 146 million operational holdings, the percentage share of female holders is 13.87% (20.25 million), a nearly one percentage increase over five years.
  • The work by women farmers, in crop cultivation, livestock management or at home, often goes unnoticed.
  • Attempts by the government to impart them training in poultry, apiculture and rural handicrafts is trivial given their large numbers.
  • In order to sustain women’s interest in farming and also their uplift, there must be a vision backed by an appropriate policy and doable action plans.
  • While the “feminisation of agriculture” is taking place at a fast pace, the government has yet to gear up to address the challenges that women farmers and labourers face.

CONCERNS AND THEIR SOLUTIONS:

Issue of land ownership

  • The biggest challenge is the powerlessness of women in terms of claiming ownership of the land they have been cultivating.
  • In Census 2015, almost 86% of women farmers are devoid of this property right in land perhaps on account of the patriarchal set up in our society.
  • Notably, a lack of ownership of land does not allow women farmers to approach banks for institutional loans as banks usually consider land as collateral.
  • Land holdings have doubled over the years with the result that the average size of farms has shrunk.
  • Therefore, a majority of farmers fall under the small and marginal category, having less than 2 ha of land — a category that, undisputedly, includes women farmers.
  • A declining size of land holdings may act as a deterrent due to lower net returns earned and technology adoption.

Solutions

  • Provision of credit without collateral under the micro-finance initiative of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development should be encouraged.
  • Better access to credit, technology, and provision of entrepreneurship abilities will further boost women’s confidence and help them gain recognition as farmers.
  • Research worldwide shows that women with access to secure land, formal credit and access to market, have greater propensity in making investments in improving harvest, increasing productivity, and improving household food security and nutrition.
  • As of now, women farmers have hardly any representation in society and are nowhere discernible in farmers’ organisations or in occasional protests.
  • They are the invisible workers without which the agricultural economy is hard to grow.
  • The possibility of collective farming can be encouraged to make women self-reliant.
  • Training and skills imparted to women as has been done by some self-help groups and cooperative-based dairy activities (Saras in Rajasthan and Amul in Gujarat). These can be explored further through farmer producer organisations.
  • Moreover, government flagship schemes such as the National Food Security Mission, Sub-mission on Seed and Planting Material and the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana must include women-centric strategies and dedicated expenditure.

Gender-friendly machinery

  • It is important to have gender-friendly tools and machinery for various farm operations. Most farm machinery is difficult for women to operate.
  • Female cultivators and labourers generally perform labour-intensive tasks (hoeing, grass cutting, weeding, picking, cotton stick collection, looking after livestock).
  • In addition to working on the farm, they have household and familial responsibilities.
  • Despite more work (paid and unpaid) for longer hours when compared to male farmers, women farmers can neither make any claim on output nor ask for a higher wage rate.
  • An increased work burden with lower compensation is a key factor responsible for their marginalisation.

Solutions

  • Manufacturers should be incentivised to come up with better solutions.
  • Farm machinery banks and custom hiring centers promoted by many State governments can be roped in to provide subsidised rental services to women farmers.

Access to resources

  • When compared to men, women generally have less access to resources and modern inputs (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides) to make farming more productive.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organisation says that equalising access to productive resources for female and male farmers could increase agricultural output in developing countries by as much as 2.5% to 4%.

Solution

  • Krishi Vigyan Kendras in every district can be assigned an additional task to educate and train women farmers about innovative technology along with extension services.

Conclusion

  • As more women are getting into farming, the foremost task for their sustenance is to assign property rights in land.
  • Paying lip service to them is not going to alleviate their labour work and hardships in the fields.
  • Once women farmers are listed as primary earners and owners of land assets, acceptance will ensue and their activities will expand to acquiring loans, deciding the crops to be grown using appropriate technology and machines, and disposing of produce to village traders or in wholesale markets, thus elevating their place as real and visible farmers.

Connecting the dots:

  • With the ‘feminisation of agriculture’ picking up pace, the challenges women farmers face can no longer be ignored. Analyse the challenges faced by women farmers in India and suggest some measures to alleviate them.

NATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 2 & 3

  • Services related to health
  • Government policies and issues arising out of their design and implementation
  • Science and technology

Resisting resistance

Introduction

Even as antibiotics lose their efficacy against deadly infectious diseases worldwide, it seems to be business as usual for governments, private corporations and individuals who have the power to stall a post-antibiotic apocalypse.

A case of veterinary use of antibiotics

  • The world’s largest veterinary drug-maker, Zoetis, was selling antibiotics as growth promoters to poultry farmers in India, even though it had stopped the practice in the U.S.
  • India is yet to regulate antibiotic-use in poultry, while the U.S. banned the use of antibiotics as growth-promoters in early 2017.
  • So, technically, the drug-maker was doing nothing illegal and complying with local regulations in both countries.

Concerns

  • Antibiotic-resistance does not respect political boundaries. Of course, the country that stands to lose the most from antibiotic resistance is India, given that its burden of infectious disease is among the world’s highest.
  • According to a 2016 PLOS Medicinepaper, 416 of every 100,000 Indians die of infectious diseases each year.
  • This is more than twice the U.S.’s crude infectious-disease mortality-rate in the 1940s, when antibiotics were first used there.
  • If these miracle drugs stop working, no one will be hit harder than India.
  • This is why the country’s progress towards a tighter regulatory regime must pick up pace.

Antibiotics regulations in India

  • There are three major sources of resistance: overuse of antibiotics by human beings; overuse in the veterinary sector; and environmental antibiotic contamination due to pharmaceutical and hospital discharge.
  • To tackle the first source, India classified important antibiotics under Schedule H1 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945, so that they couldn’t be sold without prescriptions.
  • Still, Schedule H1 drugs are freely available in pharmacies, with state drug-controllers unable to enforce the law widely.
  • As far as veterinary use goes, India’s 2017 National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance did talk about restricting antibiotic use as growth promoters.
  • Sadly, no progress has been made on this front yet, allowing companies to sell last-resort drugs to farmers over the counter.
  • The 2017 document also spoke about regulating antibiotics levels in discharge from pharmaceutical firms.
  • For instance, Hyderabad’s pharmaceutical industry has been pumping massive amounts of antibiotics into local lakes, rivers and sewers. This has led to an explosion in resistance genes in these waterbodies.
  • Still, India is yet to introduce standards for antibiotics in waste water, which means antibiotic discharge in sewage is not even being monitored regularly.

Conclusion

  • As the country takes its time to formulate regulations, the toll from antibiotic-misuse is growing at an alarming rate.
  • According to a 2013 estimate, around 58,000 newborns die in India each year due to sepsis from resistant bacteria.
  • When these numbers mount, India will have no one to blame but itself.

Connecting the dots:

  • India needs to strengthen and implement regulations on antibiotic misuse. Critically evaluate the steps taken by government.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)

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

Note:

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Which of the following is/are carriers of zika virus?

  1. Aedes aegypti
  2. Aedes albopictus
  3. Culex

Select the correct code:

  1. Only 1
  2. 1 and 3
  3. 1 and 2
  4. All of the above

Q.2) Consider the following about The Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON)

  1. It is a statutory body established under Environment Protection Act, 1986
  2. It creates data bank on Indian ornithology and natural history,
  3. It was established in 1990 due to concerted efforts of Ministry of Environment and Forests and Bombay Natural History Society

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 3
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 2
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Q.3) Justice Verma Committee, 2013 deals with

  1. Centre – state relation
  2. Direct taxes
  3. Child Rights
  4. None of the above

Q.4) Consider the following statements about Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013

  1. The Act uses a definition of sexual harassment which was laid down by the Supreme Court of India in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (1997).
  2. It is compulsory for any organisation with 10 or more employees to set up an internal complaints committee for addressing complaints of sexual harassment.
  3. It covers all women, across formal and informal employment, including clients, customers, domestic workers, contractual employees, volunteers, probationers, trainees, and interns.

Select the correct statements

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 3
  4. All of the above

Q.5) Consider the following statements about Zika Virus

  1. Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes.
  2. It can be transmitted through sexual transmission but not through vertical transmission

Select the correct statements

  1. 1 Only
  2. 2 Only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

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