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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 7th March 2019

  • IASbaba
  • March 8, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 7th March 2019

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(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


Indian museum of natural history

In news:

  • India is home to a vast treasury of geological and palaeontological specimens that contain a wealth of scientific information about the planet and its history. But these rare specimens are scattered in different labs all over the country.
  • So, to better conserve this prehistoric heritage, the government is planning to house them in one place — an ‘Earth Museum’.

Do you know?

  • This museum will be modelled on the American Museum of Natural History, or the Smithsonian museum in the U.S.
  • The museum, which will be set up as a public-private partnership, would be located somewhere in Delhi, Noida or Gurugram.
  • A meeting of experts from the U.S., the U.K, and South Korea to discuss the practical aspects of developing and maintaining such a museum is scheduled to be held in Delhi.

Plastic waste import

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Biodiversity; Pollution

In news:

  • In spite of a ban on the import of plastic waste into India, the influx of PET bottles has quadrupled from 2017 to 2018 (due to legal loophole)
  • Indian firms are importing plastic scraps from China, Italy, Japan and Malawi for recycling.
  • To incentivise domestic plastic recycling units, the government had banned the import of plastic waste, particularly PET bottles in 2015.
  • In 2016, an amendment allowed such imports as long as they were carried out by agencies situated in Special Economic Zones. It’s this loophole that’s been exploited.

https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2019/03/07/CNI/Chennai/TH/5_09/9760aba3_2780102_101_mr.jpg

Do you know?

  • Solid plastic waste has been prohibited from import into the country including in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and by Export Oriented Units (EOU).
  • The change in law was part of the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Amendment Rules, 2019.
  • Government and industry estimates suggest that India consumes about 13 million tonnes of plastic and recycles only about 4 million tonnes.
  • A lack of an efficient waste segregation system and inadequate collection is the root cause for this wide gap.

ISRO, French agency seal agreement on maritime security

In news:

  • National space agency ISRO and its French counterpart CNES sealed an agreement to set up a joint maritime surveillance system in the country in May.
  • The two nations will explore putting up a constellation of low-Earth orbiting satellites that will identify and track movement of ships globally – and in particular those moving in the Indian Ocean region where France has its Reunion Islands.

Do you know?

  • The two agencies have put up two climate and ocean weather monitoring satellites Megha-Tropiques (of 2011) and SARAL-AltiKa (2013) that are considered a model.
  • This fleet will be augmented with the launch of Oceansat-3-Argos mission in 2020 along with a joint infrared Earth-observation satellite.

Swachh Survekshan 2019

In news:

According to Centre’s ‘Cleanliness Survey’ – Swachh Survekshan

  • Indore – India’s cleanest city for the third year in a row
  • The second and third positions were bagged by Ambikapur in Chhattisgarh and Mysuru in Karnataka.
  • New Delhi Municipal Council was given award for the ‘Cleanest Small City’ award.
  • The ‘Cleanest Big City’ award has been bagged by Ahmedabad.
  • Raipur is the ‘Fastest Moving Big City’.
  • Ujjain has been the adjudged the ‘Cleanest Medium City’.

Do you know?

  • The Swachh Survekshan awards 2019 were conferred by President Ram Nath Kovind in New Delhi.
  • Top-ranked cities received a statue of Mahatma Gandhi as a memento for their work towards cleanliness.
  • Swachh Survekshan covered all urban local bodies in the country, making it the largest such cleanliness survey in the world.

Key prelims pointers:

  • Swachh Survekshan survey is released by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • The performance evaluation of the Swachh survekshan is conducted by Quality Council of India (QCI), an autonomous body established by Government of India in 1997 for Quality assurance in all spheres of activities including Governance.

Kyasanoor Forest Disease (KFD) or Monkey Fever

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Health issue

In news:

  • For the first time, the virus causing Kyasanur Forest Disease, also known was monkey fever, has been found in tick pools from Hassan district in Karnataka.

Key pointers:

  • Kyasanoor Forest Disease (KFD) is tick-borne viral hemorrhagic fever endemic to South Asia. The virus is transmitted to human beings through parasitic ticks which latch on to monkeys.
  • KFD was first detected in the Kyasanur forest in Karnataka in 1957. Since then, between 400 and 500 human cases are reported each year in South Asia, mainly India.
  • The disease is caused by Kyasanur forest disease virus (KFDV), a member of the virus family Flaviviridae, which also cause yellow fever and dengue.
  • Rodents, shrews, and monkeys are common hosts for KFDV after being bitten by an infected tick. KFDV kills most primates it infects.
  • The symptoms in humans include fever for more than 12 days, accompanied by cough, headache, diarrhoea and vomiting. The fever is followed by mental disturbances, tremors and vision deficits.
  • Vaccination against monkey fever is used in endemic areas of India.
  • Additional preventative measures include using insect repellents and wearing protective clothes in areas where ticks are endemic.

(MAINS FOCUS)


EDUCATION/SOCIAL ISSUE

TOPIC:General studies 2 

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

A systematic approach to reform education

Context:

  • Despite enormous and well-meaning efforts, the policy makers have failed to deliver quality learning outcomes to the children.
  • Concerted efforts like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and initiatives like mid-day meals have ensured to solved the problem of access to school education for our children.
  • With gross enrolment crossing 100%, the focus now has to shift to improving learning outcomes.

How to improve learning outcomes?

  • Effective Assessment Mechanism – Timely assessment by National Achievement Survey (NAS) and other studies like Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), will help to sustain quality.
  • Shift in the thinking of policymakers – Learning outcomes depends on various factors such as good infrastructure, quality teachers, books, uniforms, etc. Therefore, it is important to track all these educational inputs to understand the overall outcomes of the system.
  • Active role by both state and non-state actors – States should undertake various initiatives to revamp the quality of school education, often bringing on board the services of non-state actors to support interventions like improving classroom pedagogy, teacher training, and tech-enabled learning.

However, above piecemeal initiatives won’t help to improve student learning in any meaningful way, unless accompanied with administrative reforms aimed at creating a new systemic approach to reforming education.

Need for a new systemic approach:

  • A clear comprehensive road map: The new systemic approach involves aligning all stakeholders and orienting their collective efforts towards following a single and “comprehensive transformation road map” towards better learning outcomes.
  • Academic interventions: adoption of grade competence framework instead of just syllabus completion, as well as other initiatives like effective delivery of remedial education for weaker students rather than earlier stand-alone interventions.
  • Administrative reforms: Administrative reforms such as enabling and incentivizing teachers to perform better through data-driven insights, training, and recognition.
  • More time to teachers: Interventions are need to ensure that teachers have more time available in the classrooms and are empowered to tailor their content to the learning needs of their students, resulting in improved quality of “in-classroom transactions”. Implementing both systemic (tech platforms) and human enablers will help.
  • Robust accountability system: A robust accountability system is required wherein there is a clear articulation of the roles and responsibilities of all relevant stakeholders, and the administration is empowered to act where necessary.
  • User-friendly dashboards: User-friendly dashboards that assist education officials and the state leadership in decision-making.

Conclusion:

  • Apart from enabling and aligning incentives of all stakeholders, there is a need to hold them accountable. Only then we can shorten the distance between the nation’s current state of education and its aspirations.

Connecting the dots:

  • Highlight the challenges and the reforms needed in Indian education policy with respect to primary and higher education.
  • An unacceptably large number of Indian children are attending school but not learning enough. The issue of low learning trap is not just with Indian but is a global epidemic. The need of the hour is planned action and evidence-based policymaking. Discuss.

WOMEN/SOCIAL ISSUE

TOPIC:General studies 1

  • Social empowerment

General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

General Studies 3

  • Indian economy and issues related to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

A strange paradox for Indian women

Context:

  • The very success of India’s economic transformation brings with it a stark realization that it has not paid particular care and attention to women.
  • The most promising sign of the improving conditions of Indian women lies in declining inequality in education.
  • Almost all girls go to primary school and, according to the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) of 2011-12, 70% of girls aged 15 to 18 are still studying, only five percentage points less than boys. They frequently outperform boys.
  • In 2018, in the Class xII C8SE examination, 88.31% girls passed, compared to 78.99% boys.
  • However, in spite of rising education and rising aspirations, labour markets and social norms constrain women, almost as if they are all dressed up for a party with nowhere to go.

Issues in transformation of Education to Employment:

U-shaped relationship between Education and Employment

  • Data from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) and the IHDS show that education and employment have a U-shaped relationship.
  • Illiterate women are most likely to participate in the workforce.
  • Work participation drops sharply for women with primary and secondary education and rises only with college education.

Lack of white-collar jobs and inhospitable job environment for women

  • White-collar jobs are either not available or demand long hours and offer little job security in this time of a gig economy.
  • NSSO data for 25- to 59-year-old workers in 2011-12 show that among farmers, farm labourers and service workers, nearly one-third are women, while the proportion of women among professionals, managers and clerical workers is only about 15%.
  • Young men with Class 10 or 12 education find jobs as mechanics, drivers, sales representatives, postmen and appliance repairmen. Few of these opportunities are available to women. (because of difficult working conditions and inhospitable environment). Sometimes employers avoid hiring women in these positions.

Marriage: major barrier

  • Young women’s lives are also circumscribed by social norms that shape their family situation.
  • Marriage remains the only acceptable fate for young women in India. Whereas a third of Japanese women and 11% of Sri Lankan women aged 30-34 are single, less than 3% of Indian women are single at that age.
  • Moreover, women’s education does not seem to carry the same value in the ‘marriage market’ as caste, the family’s economic status and horoscope.
  • Research from other countries shows that educated women marry similarly educated men. But in India, women frequently marry men with lower education than themselves.

Therefore, we can conclude that for most of the women, rising education does not offer increasing income-earning opportunities or better marriage prospects.

Does it at least give women greater autonomy in other areas of their lives?

  • Based on recent National Family Health Survey data, there seems to be little evidence that a moderate level of education offers women a greater say in household decisions or freedom of movement outside the home.
  • College graduates fare slightly better, but even for them, the difference is relatively small.
  • 48% of women with no schooling do not go to a health centre alone; the proportion for college graduates is only slightly lower at 45%.

Conclusion:

  • Parents make tremendous sacrifices to educate their daughters, and young women joyously work hard at school in search of a better life, only to have their aspirations frustrated by economic and social barriers that restrict their opportunities.
  • Another major concern is the way the political process sees women. Our political process sees women as an extension of the men in their households and assumes that no special effort is needed to win their hearts and minds.
  • India needs to take gender segmentation as an opportunity. We need to increase women entrepreneurship. Thus women will be creating jobs and opportunities for themselves, and bringing other women on board. In short, if India’s growth story has to translate into shared prosperity for all its people, then it cannot afford to have one half of its population sit out.

Connecting the dots:

  • India is still a land of missing women. Do you agree? Examine how empowered is India’s surviving female population in terms of access to basic rights?

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