IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 19th October 2018
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: Prelims and Mains GS II – Justice, Social empowerment
As India’s own #MeToo gathers momentum, the lone woman Supreme Court judge, part of the three-judge bench that laid down the landmark Vishakha guidelines in 1997 to address sexual harassment at the workplace, said that “it is time to rethink” the law to address incidents in the past — from framing new norms to relooking penal provisions.
- In 1997 Supreme Court delivered the verdict laying down legally binding obligations on institutions regarding prohibition, prevention and redressal of sexual harassment at workplace.
- These guidelines, the foundation for the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013, came into force in connection with a PIL in the alleged gangrape of Bhanwari Devi, a social worker from Rajasthan.
- In 1992, she had prevented the marriage of a one-year-old girl, leading to her rape as an act of revenge.
- These guidelines were recommended for somebody who was harassed in the present. It had not considered incidents of sexual harassment that took place in the past — like those that have now been reported.
Need to rethink guidelines
- It is time to rethink how to deal with sexual harassment, especially in cases, where the incident has taken place in the past.
- In these circumstances, the Vishakha guidelines especially need to be re-examined with regard to the preventive and remedial measures for the woman.
- Justice Manohar said that laws “need to grade kinds of sexual harassment” and a redressal mechanism to deal with these different kinds of harassment.
- There is no limitation of time in statute. But the problem will come when the complainant has to establish the charge.
- There may not have any existing evidence regarding what happened years ago. But the courts will have to see who is stating the truth through examination and cross-examination.
- Justice Manohar said that Section 509 IPC (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) needs to be re-looked and made “more specific”.
- There is also need for “specialised sensitisation” at all levels of the judiciary that deal with these cases.
- Though National Commission for Women asking victims to approach them for redressal, but NCW has not been set up to handle any kind of an adjudicating process. They are only an advisory body.
- The judiciary can have programmes for them with the help of sociologists but remedies are important, everyone has to participate holistically.
Wealth per adult in India at $7,020, China at $47,810: Credit Suisse report
Part of: Prelims and Mains GS III – Growth and development; inclusive growth
- India’s wealth has trended upward strongly since the turn of the century, although there was a setback in 2008 due to the global financial crisis and currency fluctuations.
- Globally, Switzerland remains the richest nation in the world in terms of wealth per adult, followed by Australia, with Singapore ranking ninth among major economies.
- India created a whopping 7,300 more millionaires during the 12 months to mid-2018, taking the total number of dollar-millionaires to 343,000, who are collectively worth around $6 trillion.
- However, the wealth per adult stayed flat at $ 7,020 (around Rs 515,970) as against $47,810 in China (Rs 35.14 lakh).
- Annual growth of wealth per adult averaged 8 per cent over 2000–18. While wealth has been rising in India, not everyone has shared in this growth.
- The country has 404,000 adults in the top one per cent of global wealth holders, which is a 0.8 per cent share.
- According to Credit Suisse Wealth report, personal wealth in India is dominated by property and other real assets, which make up 91 per cent of estimated household assets.
- Over the 12 months, non-financial assets grew by 4.3 per cent, accounting for all of the wealth growth in India.
- House-price movements are a proxy for the non-financial component of household assets, which reached a high of 9 per cent for India, it said.
Haji Ali: Two years on, women entering inner sanctum freely
Part of: Prelims and Mains GS II – Social Justice and empowerment
- A little over two years since the Bombay High Court permitted women to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali shrine, fraught emotions and tension amid Mumbai litigation are now a thing of the past.
- The Haji Ali Dargah Trust, which initially resisted women’s entry after a ban was put in place in 2011-12 and which filed an appeal before the Supreme Court, conceded in October 2016 that women can enter the sanctum.
- Like in the Sabarimala case, some of the resistance in the Haji Ali case came from women devotees who had said that even though the ban was lifted, they would not be comfortable accessing the sanctum sanctorum.
- The trust had told the Supreme Court on October 24, 2016, that it would require two weeks to ready the shrine for women devotees who would like to enter the sanctum.
- The court had given the trust a period of four months to complete the process.
- The petitioners had told the court that they had visited the sanctum in their childhood, and it was only since 2012 that they had been stopped from entering it.
- The PIL was filed by Naz and Zakia Soman, office bearers of the BMMA.
- The two had written to the trust’s president in 2012, and also approached various state authorities requesting intervention, including the minorities commission, women’s commission and charity commissioner, before approaching the High Court.
Delhi: PM 1 concentration in air increasing, scientists say trend cause for worry
Part of: Prelims and mains GS III – Environment and ecology: Pollution
- The new air quality monitoring station at Chandni Chowk, which measures the concentration of Particulate Matter (PM) 1, has thrown up worrying results.
- According to the data collected by the Ministry of Earth Science’s System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the concentration of the particle, which is under 1 micron in size, touched 54.32 micrograms per cubic metre on October 16.
- This was the highest this season so far.
- There are no national or international acceptable standards for PM1 concentration in the air, unlike those for PM2.5 and PM10.
- But studies across the world have indicated a link between the pollutant and cardio-vascular disease.
- Currently, PM1 is considered part of PM 2.5 pollutant, but after building adequate infrastructure to measure the concentration of bigger particles, the Centre and the state have started to build equipment to measure smaller particles as well.
- Delhi has close to 40 air quality monitoring stations, all of which measure the concentration of PM 2.5 and PM 10 along with that of gases like ozone, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide.
- The SAFAR station at Chandni Chowk is the only one measuring PM1, trends show that PM 1 is a significant part of the PM 2.5 that is being measured at most other stations.
TOPIC: General studies 2 and 3
- Right to privacy
- National security
- Indian economic interest
Data localization: why, why not?
- Earlier this week, companies around the world scrambled to try and meet a RBI-mandated deadline to store Indian users’ financial data in India, reigniting conversation about “data localisation”.
- Across ministries and sectors, the government has firmed up its stance on storing data of Indian users in the country, to the discontent of international players and the delight of domestic ones.
What is data localisation?
- Data localisation is a concept that the personal data of a country’s residents should be processed and stored in that country.
- Some directives may restrict flow entirely, while others more leniently allow for conditional data sharing or data mirroring – in which only a copy has to be stored in the country.
- As of now, much of cross-border data transfer is governed by individual bilateral “mutual legal assistance treaties” (MLATs).
What has happened now to bring this into focus?
- The recurring data localisation agenda has bubbled up in a number of government directives or drafts.
- In early April, the RBI issued a circular mandating that payment data be stored only in India by October 15.
- This covered everyone from Mastercard and Visa to WhatsApp Payments and PayTM.
- Currently, the RBI has not instituted any fines for those who have missed the deadline but is seeking schedules of pending data transfers to India.
- In late July, a data protection draft law by a committee headed by retired Justice B N Srikrishna recommended that all personal data of Indians have at least one copy in India.
- A subset of that data, labelled critical personal data, must be stored and processed only in India.
- A draft report of a cloud computing policy recommended localisation of Indians’ data.
- Cloud computing, a service offered by the likes of Amazon and Microsoft, allows customers’ data to be stored on remote data centres.
Who is for it?
Security agencies, domestic born technology companies like PayTM, Reliance Jio, etc. companies whose rivals are giants from US, etc. are supporting the data localisation.
Arguments in favor of data localisation
- A common argument of government officials is that localisation will help Indian law enforcement access data.
- The April RBI circular stated that “to ensure better monitoring, it is important to have unfettered supervisory access to data stored with these system providers”.
- When a spate of lynchings across the country was linked to WhatsApp rumours, WhatsApp’s firm stance on encrypted content frustrated government officials.
- In addition, proponents highlight security against foreign attacks and surveillance, which opponents consider a weak argument in cases of data mirroring.
- Concerns also rose when Facebook declared that its Cambridge Analytica controversy had affected Indian users as well.
- Tech companies especially condemn the large tax differences between international companies operating in India and those with a permanent establishment in the country.
- Many argue that localisation would lead to a larger presence in India overall, such as local offices, and increase tax liability.
- “Data is the new oil” also provides a backbone to much of the localisation drive.
- In the home of the largest open Internet market in the world, companies like PhonePe claim that national wealth creation relies on in-house data storage.
- The e-commerce policy took on a similar stance, championing domestic innovation, and the data protection report also mentioned harnessing India’s digital economy.
Who is against it?
Industry bodies, especially those with significant ties to the US, have slung heavy backlash.
Arguments against data localisation
- Many are concerned about a fractured Internet (or a “splinternet”), where the domino effect of protectionist policy will lead to other countries following suit.
- Much of this sentiment harkens to the values of a globalised, competitive internet marketplace, where costs and speeds, rather than nationalistic borders, determine information flows.
- Opponents say that this, in turn, may backfire on India’s own young start-ups that are attempting global growth, or on larger firms that process foreign data in India, such as Tata Consulting Services and Wipro.
- Critics not only caution against state misuse and surveillance of personal data, but also argue that security and government access is not achieved by localisation.
- Even if the data is stored in the country, the encryption keys may still remain out of the reach of national agencies.
What do other countries do?
- The think tank European Centre for International Political Economy has found a surge in data localisation measures worldwide over the last decade.
- Russia has the most restrictive regulation for data flow with strict localisation and high penalties.
- The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) does not mandate all data to be localised, but rather restricts flow to countries with a strong data protection framework.
- The China government mandates localisation for all “important data” held by “critical information infrastructure” and any cross border personal data transfer must undergo a security assessment.
- The United States leaves regulation up to the state and sector. Earlier this year, President signed the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (CLOUD Act) which established data sharing with certain countries.
- The Indian data localisation wave is the latest digital battleground of ongoing power wars between government and industry.
- There is a need to strike a balance between national security, economic interests and individual rights.
Connecting the dots:
- Critically examine the data localisation policy of India.
TOPIC: General studies 2 and 3
- Health and related services and policies
- Agriculture: Food and nutritional security
Nutrition on My Plate
India’s flagship programme to improve nutritional outcomes for children, adolescents, pregnant women and lactating mothers, the National Nutrition Mission (NNM) or the Poshan Abhiyan, reflects an amalgamation of scientific principles, political fortitude and technical ingenuity.
National Nutrition Mission (NNM) or the Poshan Abhiyan
- The Abhiyan highlights a strong focus on convergent actions from the national to the village level.
- The key nutrition interventions and strategies, which form the core of NNM, contribute to the targets of the World Health Assembly for nutrition and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), dedicating Goal 2 to the challenge of meeting “zero hunger”.
Why Nutritional security?
- Good nutrition is critical to avert the irreversible cumulative growth and development deficits.
- It contributes towards improving maternal and child health, learning outcomes, adult productivity and strengthening gender equality.
- Nutrition security is inextricably linked to food and agriculture, yet, the agriculture sector does not clearly fall within the scope of the Abhiyan.
- However, there are areas where the sector could support the Abhiyan and help to achieve its objectives.
Agricultural production and nutritional security
- For long, the agriculture sector focused on increasing food production — particularly staples, which led to lower production and consumption of indigenous traditional crops/grains, fruits and other vegetables, impacting food and nutrition security in the process.
- Today, globally, 821 million people suffer chronic undernourishment of which 196 million reside in India, according to ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018’ report.
- The twin burden of malnutrition — that is, undernutrition, along with overweight and obesity, coexists in many countries and its cost to the global economy is equivalent to $3.5 trillion a year.
Nutritional production in India: changing trends
- The momentum towards a reverse trend, however, is slowly gaining ground, which is reflected in the production record of not only horticulture crops and fruits, but milk too.
- In 2017-18, milk production in India rose to 165 million tonnes from about 35 million tonnes in 1980, also making it one of the largest employers of rural people, especially women.
- India ranks second in fruits and vegetables production in the world, after China.
- As per the National Horticulture Database (2015-16), India produced 90.2 million metric tonnes of fruits and 169.1 million metric tonnes of vegetables.
- The area under cultivation of fruits stood at 6.3 million hectares while vegetables were cultivated at 10.1 million hectares.
- The time is opportune for agricultural interventions such as increasing the production of targeted nutrition-rich crops (nutri-cereals), homestead gardens, and diversification of the agricultural production system towards fruits, vegetables and aquaculture, to address the adverse effects of malnutrition.
- Further, with the Poshan Abhiyan advocating the “Triple A” approach, that is building the capacity of ASHA, Anganwadi Worker (AWW) and Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) workers, there is an opportunity to leverage the agriculture extension services in the country.
- The extension workers have a direct and ongoing contact with smallholder farmers.
- They can be the agents of change for nutritional intervention by leveraging modern technologies to impart nutrition-linked messages for bringing about sustainable behaviour change towards food and nutrition.
- UN agencies such as FAO can provide support to develop and plan targeted activities for capacity building of the agriculture extension agents, so they can promote nutrition-sensitive agriculture.
- The support can help to foster research on areas such as bio-fortification of crops, enhancing production diversity including the coarse grains/millets and food safety.
- The Poshan Abhiyan presents an opportunity for inter-sectoral collaboration that can amplify collective actions to improve nutrition indicators and achieve the goal of “zero hunger” in the country.
- Agriculture is not merely an activity to make “food” available to the people but an indispensable ingredient in this recipe of achieving “sampoorna poshan” for the citizens of this country.
- In line with the Zero Hunger vision, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations can support ongoing NNM efforts related to dietary diversity through agricultural diversification and sustainable intensification, thus making the agriculture and food system more nutrition-sensitive, climate-resilient and socio-economically viable simultaneously.
Connecting the dots:
- Dietary diversity can make food system nutrition-sensitive, climate-resilient. Elucidate.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Consider the following statements about Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013
- It is compulsory for any organisation with 10 or more employees to set up an internal complaints committee for addressing complaints of sexual harassment.
- 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 Only
- 2 Only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2) Which of the following emissions get regulated under Bharat stage VI?
- Carbon dioxide
- Hydro carbons
- Nitrogen oxides
- Particulate Matter
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
- 1, 2, 3 and 4
- 1 and 4
- 1, 2 and 3
- 2, 3 and 4
Q.3) Government of India has introduced SAFAR system in important metropolitan cities of India for
- Forecasting the condition of roads in different weather
- Providing precise Indian navigation system
- Providing location specific information on air quality in near real time
- Providing details of tourist places and hotels in and near the cities
Q.4) Consider the following statements regarding SAFAR system
- It provides information on air quality, weather and UV radiation.
- Currently it is operational only in the four metro cities.
Which of the statements is/are correct?
- Only 1
- Only 2
- 1 and 2
Q.5) Consider the following statements with reference to the Particulate Matter
- The term refers only to the solid particles suspended in air.
- These are emitted by vehicles using fuels like diesel, petrol and natural gas.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
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