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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 24th April 2019

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  • April 24, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 24th April 2019

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(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


India may stop oil imports from Iran

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – India and the World; India-US ties; Indian economy and development

In news:

  • Petroleum Minister said the country plans to increase imports from major oil producing nations other than Iran, indicating that it will be acceding to the U.S. plan to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero, a move criticised by the Congress.
  • The U.S. that it would be cancelling the waivers from sanctions it had granted eight countries, including India, allowing them to import oil from Iran.
  • In addition, the U.S. has also stipulated that India’s “escrow account” used for Rupee-Rial trade cannot be operated after its May 2 deadline. However, there is no change in the exemption given for India’s investments in Chabahar port as a trade route to Afghanistan.

Animal in news: Olive Ridley hatchlings make their way into sea

In news:

  • Note – We have covered many articles on Olive Ridley turtles (Refer – https://iasbaba.com/2018/06/iasbabas-daily-current-affairs-prelims-mains-focus-19th-june-2018/ and https://iasbaba.com/2019/01/daily-current-affairs-ias-upsc-prelims-and-mains-exam-27th-december-2018/)
  • The Olive ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world, inhabiting warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
  • hese turtles, along with their cousin the Kemps ridley turtle, are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
  • They are carnivores, and feed mainly on jellyfish, shrimp, snails, crabs, molluscs and a variety of fish and their eggs.
  • These turtles spend their entire lives in the ocean, and migrate thousands of kilometers between feeding and mating grounds in the course of a year.
  • Interestingly, females return to the very same beach from where they first hatched, to lay their eggs. During this phenomenal nesting, up to 600,000 and more females emerge from the waters, over a period of five to seven days, to lay eggs. They lay their eggs in conical nests about one and a half feet deep which they laboriously dig with their hind flippers.
  • The coast of Orissa in India is the largest mass nesting site for the Olive-ridley, followed by the coasts of Mexico and Costa Rica.
  • After about 45-65 days, the eggs begin to hatch, and these beaches are swamped with crawling Olive-ridley turtle babies, making their first trek towards the vast ocean. During this trek they are exposed to predators like jackals, birds, hyenas, fiddler crabs, and feral dogs lurking around, waiting to feed on them.
  • It is estimated that approximately 1 hatchling survives to reach adulthood for every 1000 hatchlings that enter the sea waters.
  • This may also be the reason why arribadas happen and a single female can lay 80 to 120 eggs and sometimes even twice in a season; to increase the hatchlings survival rate.

Tendered vote

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Polity

In news:

  • According to Section 49P of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, if a voter realises that someone has already voted in his/her name, he/she can approach the presiding officer at the polling booth and flag the issue.
  • Upon answering the presiding officer’s questions about his/her identity satisfactorily, the voter will be allowed to cast a tender vote. Tender votes are cast on ballot papers and sealed and locked away.
  • These votes are useful when the margin between the winning candidate and the runner-up is slim. However, if the difference is large, tender votes are not counted.

(MAINS FOCUS)


SOCIAL/WELFARE ISSUE

TOPIC: 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

A half-written promise

Introduction

  • Recognition of sexual and reproductive rights of women in India is almost negligible.
  • Manifestos of major political parties’ reveals piecemeal promises to women and the reproductive rights are limited to child marriage, female foeticide, sex selection and menstrual health and hygiene.

Sexual and reproductive rights in India must include concerns with –

  • maternal deaths
  • access to maternal care to safe abortions
  • access to contraceptives
  • adolescent sexuality
  • prohibition of forced medical procedures such as forced sterilizations and
  • removal of stigma and discrimination against women, girls and LGBT persons on the basis of their gender, sexuality and access to treatment

State of women in India:

According to the UNICEF India and World Bank data,

  • India has one of the highest numbers of maternal deaths. (45,000 maternal deaths every year or an average of one maternal death every 12 minutes)
  • Unsafe abortions are the third leading cause of maternal deaths in India.

Unsafe abortions: a major concern

  • The Lancet Research shows that half of the pregnancies in India are unintended and that a third result in abortion.
  • Only 22% of abortions are done through public or private health facilities.
  • Lack of access to safe abortion clinics, particularly public hospitals, and stigma and attitudes towards women, especially young, unmarried women seeking abortion, contribute to this.
  • Doctors refuse to perform abortions on young women or demand that they get consent from their parents or spouses despite no such requirement by law. This forces many women to turn to clandestine and often unsafe abortions.
  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 provides for termination only up to 20 weeks. If an unwanted pregnancy has proceeded beyond 20 weeks, women have to approach a medical board and courts to seek permission for termination, which is extremely difficult. The MTP Act is long overdue for a comprehensive reform.

The way ahead: Progressive view of Supreme Court on women’s reproductive rights

  • The court held in the Navtej Johar judgment (striking down Section 377) and while decriminalizing adultery (Section 497) that women have a right to sexual autonomy, which is an important facet of their right to personal liberty.
  • In the landmark Puttaswamy judgment in which the right to privacy was held to be a fundamental right. SC held that “Privacy includes at its core the preservation of personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, the home and sexual orientation… Privacy safeguards individual autonomy and recognises the ability of the individual to control vital aspects of his or her life.”
  • In the case of Independent Thought v. Union of India in the context of reproductive rights of girls, judges held, “The human rights of a girl child are very much alive and kicking whether she is married or not and deserve recognition and acceptance.”

Therefore, the right of women and girls to safe abortion is an important facet of their right to bodily integrity, right to life and equality and needs to be protected.

Conclusion:

  • Political parties, which also represent India’s women, have an obligation to take forward the debates on reproductive rights, equality, and access to abortion in political debates as well as in framing laws and policies.
  • The responsibility also lies with civil society and development actors to bring up these issues for public debate and in demands. The silence around unsafe abortions is leading to deaths of women and hides important problems that lie at the intersection of these concerns, such as the formidable barriers for adolescent girls to access reproductive health services, including abortion services.
  • Access to legal and safe abortion is an integral dimension of sexual and reproductive equality, a public health issue, and must be seen as a crucial element in the contemporary debates on democracy.

Connecting the dots:

  • Women’s emancipation and safety is most important for society as well as government. Elucidate.
  • Constitutional guarantee for gender equality remains vacuous independent of complementary value systems. Comment.

INTERNATIONAL

TOPIC: General studies 2

  • India and its neighbourhood- relations.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

India’s perilous obsession with Pakistan

Context:

  • As a country born of the two-nation theory based on religion, and then having to suffer dismemberment and the consequent damage to the very same religious identity, it is obvious why Islamic Pakistan must have a hostile Other in the form of a ‘Hindu India’.
  • It is widely recognised that the fulcrum of the Pakistani state and establishment is an anti-India ideology and an obsession with India.
  • But what is not obvious is why India, a secular nation, must have a hostile antagonist in the form of Pakistan.
  • Though India’s post-Independence nationalism has been also driven by an obsession with Pakistan but it is not seen in front but recent reinvigoration of nationalism in form of hyper-nationalism and a ‘Hindu India’ identity fueled this obsession similar like Pakistan, which is ultimately self-defeating.

Impact of hostility with Pakistan

Learning from Pakistan shows that such ideology lead to self-destruction of the country.

  • Pakistan’s vastly disproportionate spending on the military to attain military parity with India, a country that is six and half times larger in population, and eight and a half times bigger economically has been self-destructive for a poor nation.
  • In 1990, Pakistan was ahead of India by three places in the Human Development Index. In 2017, Pakistan was behind India by 20 ranks, a sad reflection of its ruinous policies.
  • More critically, the Pakistani state’s sponsorship of Islamist terror groups has been nothing less than catastrophic because Pakistan, ironically, is also one of the worst victims of Islamist terrorism.

 High military expenses, huge human and material costs

  • High military expenses without war due to such hostility.
  • India-Pakistan attempts to secure the Siachen Glacier, the inhospitable and highest battle terrain in the world. India alone lost nearly 800 soldiers (until 2016) to weather-related causes only. Besides, it spends around ₹6 crore every day in Siachen.
  • Operation Parakram (2001-02), in which India mobilised for war with Pakistan, saw 798 soldier deaths and a cost of $3 billion. This is without fighting a war. Add to this the human and economic costs of fighting four wars.
  • Deaths of around 6,500 security personnel in Kashmir and the gargantuan and un-estimated costs of stationing nearly 5 lakh military/para-military/police personnel in Kashmir for 30 years.

Hindrance to attain rightful place of India in international community

  • India-Pakistan relationship is “toxic”. Both the countries suffer from “minority” or “small power” complex in which one is feeling constantly “threatened” and “encircled”.
  • The disastrous conflict with Pakistan can be considered as one of the main reasons why India has been confined to South Asia, and prevented from becoming a global power.

The way ahead:

  • Instead of hostility with Pakistan, India should learn from China’s early success in universalising health care and education, providing basic income, and advancing human development, which as Amartya Sen has argued, is the basis of its economic miracle.
  • The more India defines itself as the Other of Pakistan (a nation practically governed by the military) the more it will become its mirror.
  • Any nation that thrives by constructing a mythical external enemy must also construct mythical internal enemies. That is why the number of people labelled ‘anti-national’ is increasing in India.
  • India has to rise to take its place in the world. That can only happen if it can get rid of its obsession with Pakistan.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss the critical phases on India-Pakistan relations.
  • Essay: “Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.”

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