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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 25th December 2021

  • IASbaba
  • December 25, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


150th Birth Anniversary of Sri Aurobindo 

Part of: Prelims and GS-I -History and culture 

Context The Prime Minister chaired the first meeting of the High Level Committee (HLC) which has been constituted to commemorate 150th Birth Anniversary of Sri Aurobindo 

Key takeaways 

  • The Committee comprises 53 members from various walks of life.
  • The Prime Minister said that the two aspects of Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy of ‘Revolution’ and ‘Evolution’, are of key importance and should be emphasized  as part of the commemoration.
  • The commemoration celebrations of Sri Aurobindo were proposed to launch from Puducherry coinciding with the celebration of National Youth Day.

About Sri Aurobindo

  • Sri Aurobindo was an Indian philosopher, yoga guru, maharishi, poet, and Indian nationalist.
  • He was also a journalist, editing newspapers such as Bande Mataram.
  • He joined the Indian movement for independence from British colonial rule, until 1910 and then became a spiritual reformer.
  • At Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo developed a spiritual practice called Integral Yoga.

Soya Meal

Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Economy

Context In a bid to cool down the domestic prices of Soya Meal, Government has notified an Order under the Essential Commodities Act to declare ‘Soya Meal’ as an Essential Commodities up to 30th June, 2022 by amending the Schedule of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.

Key takeaways 

  • The decision would empower the Union Government and all States/UTs to regulate production, distribution etc. of Soya Meal and to smoothen the sale and availability of this item in the market.
  • It will stop unfair market practices and enhance the availability for consumers like Poultry farm and Cattle feed manufacturers.

Essential Commodities (EC) Act, 1955

  • It is an act of Parliament of India. 
  • It was established to prevent hoarding of the essential commodities and to ensure their timely delivery so that normal life does not get affected. 
  • This includes foodstuff, drugs, fuel (petroleum products) etc.
  • There is no specific definition of essential commodities in The EC Act.
  • Section 2(A) of the act states that an “essential commodity” means a commodity specified in the “Schedule” of this Act.
  • The Act gives powers to the central government to add or remove a commodity in the “Schedule.” 
  • The Centre, if it is satisfied that it is necessary to do so in public interest, can notify an item as essential, in consultation with state governments.
  • By declaring a commodity as essential, the government can control the production, supply, and distribution of that commodity, and impose a stock limit.

GIS Based ‘Automatic Water Supply Systems’

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Environment 

Context The GIS based ‘Automatic Water Supply System’ for citizens of Cantonment Boards, 1st of its kind in the country was recently launched by Defence Minister.

Key takeaways 

  • The module of the system has been developed by Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geo informatics
  • It is completely automated which provides facilities to its citizens to identify the location of water supply connections. It automatically determines the nearest water pipeline.
  • This GIS system is the first of its kind in the country. 
  • It is based on the ‘minimum government and maximum governance’ concept.

Garbage Free Cities

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Economy

Context Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), launched the ‘Azadi@75 Star Rating Protocol of Garbage Free Cities- Toolkit 2022′.

  • It is the most important governance tool of waste management – the Star Rating Protocol for Garbage Free Cities.

Key takeaways 

  • On 1st October 2021, Prime Minister had launched Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0, with the overall vision of creating “Garbage Free Cities” (GFC).
  • For achieving this vision, a key objective under SBM-U 2.0 is to make every urban local body at least 3-star Garbage Free as per the Star Rating protocol.

Key revisions in the protocol are:

  • The earlier 25 components have now been reduced to 24.
  • Only 16 indicators are mandatory for 1-star and 3-star levels. The remaining 8 indicators are aspirational in nature, and will be relevant for 5-star and 7-star aspirants.
  • The multi-step calculation of the previous GFC protocol has now been changed to a single step marking, which will help ULB to easily self-assess themselves .
  • Higher weightages (50%) are allotted to Door-to-Door Collection, Source Segregation, Waste processing & Dumpsite remediation.

About Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0 envisions to:

  • Make all cities ‘Garbage Free’ and ensure grey and black water management in all cities other than those covered under AMRUT, 
  • Make all urban local bodies as ODF+ (open defecation free) and those with a population of less than 1 lakh as ODF++
  • The Mission will focus on source segregation of solid waste, utilizing the principles of 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), scientific processing of all types of municipal solid waste and remediation of legacy dumpsites for effective solid waste management.

Paxlovid

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Sci and tech

Context Recently, US Pharma Giant Pfizer has received USFDA emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid.

About Paxlovid

  • The drug, Paxlovid, is a faster way to treat early COVID-19 infections, though initial supplies will be extremely limited. 
  • It is an antiviral Covid-19 treatment candidate, which is administered in combination with low dose HIV medicine ritonavir.
  • Paxlovid can be used to treat adults with Covid-19 who do not require supplemental oxygen and who are at increased risk of progressing to severe disease.
  • Under the deal, it signed a voluntary license agreement for Covid-19 oral antiviral treatment candidate Paxlovid. 
  • The production and distribution of Paxlovid shall also be facilitated by granting sub-licenses to qualified generic medicine manufacturers.

(News from PIB)


VanDhan Chronicle

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Policies and interventions 

Context TRIFED Vandhan Chronicle was launched by Minister for Tribal Affairs. 

Key takeaways 

  • TRIFED VanDhan Chronicle is an in-depth resource on the Van Dhan Yojana and TRIFED’s activities in this important scheme.
  • Over the past two years, The ‘Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) & Development of Value Chain for MFP’ has impacted the tribal ecosystem in a major way.
  • The Van Dhan tribal start-ups have emerged as a source of employment generation for tribals and forest dwellers. 

About The Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED)

  • Established in 1987, under the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 1984, this statutory body works for the social and economic development of the tribal people of the country and is administered by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • It has been registered as a National Level Cooperative body by the Government of the country
  • It helps tribal people manufacture products for national and international markets on a sustainable basis and also supports the formation of Self-Help Groups and imparting training to them.

NMCG-TERI’S Centre of Excellence (COE) on Water Reuse

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Environment and ecology

Context The Director General of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and the Director General of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) launched the NMCG-TERI’s Centre of Excellence (CoE) on Water Reuse in New Delhi.

Key takeaways 

  • The CoE on Water Reuse is the first of its kind to be established in the country through a collaboration between NMCG and TERI.
  • The Centre is a quadripartite alliance between NMCG, TERI, industry partners and industry representative bodies
  • It will be meeting the objectives of the Ganga Knowledge Centre (GKC) to design and foster research and innovation for low-cost, effective and integrated treatment technologies, which could bridge the current treatment gaps, augment capacities and provide safe treated water for reuse.

(Mains Focus)


HEALTH/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • GS-3: Indian Economy & its challenges

Public Health Data Architecture for India

Context: There are multiple surveys like National Family Health Survey (NFHS) that generates data to be utilised for Public Health Policy.

Do You Know?

  • Health Ministry has conducted various surveys in the last five years, including the 
    • National NCD Monitoring Survey (NNMS)
    • National Mental Health Survey (NMHS)
    • Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS)
    • Alcohol survey
    • Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS), etc.,
  • However, the requirements for the monitoring of NCD targets are not met by the NFHS, as it covers an age group different than that needed for the global set of indicators.

What is the range and scope of NFHS?

  • The NFHS is a large survey conducted in a representative sample of households throughout India which started in 1992-93 and is repeated at an interval of about four to five years.
  • It is the Indian version of the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), as it is known in other countries.
  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has designated International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) as the nodal agency for the NFHS.
  • The funding has been provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Department for International Development (DFID), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), UNICEF, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • Currently, the survey provides district-level information on fertility, child mortality, contraceptive practices, reproductive and child health, nutrition, and utilisation and quality of selected health services.
  • Its scope has been expanded to include HIV, non-communicable diseases, or NCDs (tobacco and alcohol use, hypertension, blood sugar, etc.), Vitamin D3.
  • The fifth round covered 6,36,699 households costing upwards of Rs. 250 crore.

What are the issues with existence of multiple surveys?

  • NFHS is the only major survey that India has a record of doing regularly and one does not know if and when the other surveys will be repeated.
  • Multiple surveys also raise the problem of differing estimates due to sampling differences in the surveys. 
  • For instance, there is a wide divergence in sex ratio at birth reported by the NFHS and the Sample Registration System (SRS).

What are the challenges in aligning multiple surveys?

  • Previous attempts to align these surveys have failed as different survey proponents have different demands and push for inclusion of their set of questions.
  • The Department of Planning, Statistics and Programme Monitoring lacking the technical capacity succumbs to pressures from multiple quarters and ends up accepting all requests.
  • The household which is selected for the survey have no power of negotiation.

What is the road map for public health data architecture for India?

  • National surveys– There is a need to identify a set of national-level indicators and surveys that will be done using national government funds at regular intervals.
  • Staggered approach: National surveys can be done every 3-5 years in a staggered manner such as 
    • A concise NFHS focusing on Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) issues,
    • A Behavioral Surveillance Survey (focusing on HIV, NCD, water sanitation and hygiene (WASH)-related and other behaviours)
    • A nutrition-biological survey (entails collection of data on blood pressure, anthropometry, blood sugar, serology, etc.)
  • State participation– A national-level sample for such surveys can be taken and States can be asked to invest in conducting focused State-level surveys. States have to become active partners including providing financial contributions to these surveys.
  • Specific studies– Important public health questions can be answered by specific studies conducted by academic institutions on a research mode based on availability of funding.
  • Transparency of data– It is very important to ensure that the data arising from these surveys are in the public domain. This enables different analyses and viewpoints to be presented on the same set of data enriching the discussion thus unlocking the full potential of the survey.

WOMEN/ INTERNATIONAL

  • GS-2: International events

China’s draft law to protect women’s rights

Context: Amid a growing number of sexual harassment and domestic violence cases, China is set to update and strengthen its nearly three-decade-old law to protect women’s rights both at the workplace and at home.

  • China’s top legislative body — the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) — began to review a draft amendment to the ‘Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women’.

What does the draft amendment say about women’s rights in the workplace?

  • Under the proposal, employers are banned from stating gender preferences in job ads or asking female applicants about their marital and pregnancy status. 
  • Employers are also prohibited from firing or reducing a woman’s salary if she chooses to get married or have a baby.
  • While previous laws simply stated that sexual harassment against women was prohibited, the proposal lays down a clear definition of what qualifies as ‘sexual harassment’. 
    • This includes subjecting women to verbal expressions with sexual connotations or any other inappropriate sexual behaviour without their consent, Reuters reported. 
  • The draft also prohibits offering benefits in exchange for sex.

What about women’s rights at home?

  • Extending to the domestic sphere, the new regulations also clarify the duties of both the husband and the wife within the traditional family structure. 
  • In case of divorce, women have the right to ask for compensation if they believe they have been shouldering more duties at home, the draft states.
  • This comes after a court in Beijing granted a housewife a 50,000 yuan payout from her husband for five years of unpaid labour. The landmark case sparked a nationwide debate on the value of domestic work earlier this year.
  • The draft also says that harassing women under the guise of being in a relationship, or after a relationship ends will be prohibited. 
  • It also bans practices that could be mentally manipulative — this includes ‘female morality classes’, where women are ‘brainwashed’ into believing that they are inferior to their partners.

Why now?

  • In recent years, China has been widely criticised for doing little to protect sexual harassment survivors and attempting to suppress the #MeToo movement in its nascent stages. 
  • The country has witnessed a growing debate on crimes against women as more domestic violence and sexual harassment cases have been reported in recent years.
  • China’s #MeToo movement began in 2018, when a former student of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics accused her professor of sexually harassing her. He was fired from the university, following which several other women were encouraged to come forward with their complaints.
  • Most recently, Chinese tennis pro-Peng Shuai’s sparked a storm on social media after she alleged that she was forced into a sexual relationship by China’s former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli, 75, after his retirement from power in 2017. 
    • Soon after she shared her explosive allegation on China’s social media forum WeChat, she went missing. After her sudden disappearance caused international furore, she reappeared in a few offline media videos. However, Zhang got away unscathed.
  • Meanwhile, gender-based discrimination in the workplace is rampant across China. Many women have long faced discrimination based on their marital status. 
  • According to a report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW), gender gap, the lack of anti-discrimination laws and the two child policy were behind this phenomenon.
  • Also, many Chinese companies are reluctant to pay salaries during maternity leave. As per Chinese law, women are entitled to about 98 days of maternity leave. Employers are mandated to pay maternity insurance to ensure that women receive a monthly allowance from the government fund if they give birth.

Conclusion

  • The draft proposal was presented before China’s top legislative body on Monday for deliberation. The discussion is expected to continue until at least Friday, following which the draft will be voted upon.

Think! – Is there any learning for India here? Write your opinions in the comment box below.


(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding Essential Commodities (EC) Act, 1955:

  1. It was established to prevent hoarding of the essential commodities and to ensure their timely delivery so that normal life does not get affected. 
  2. This includes foodstuff only.

Which of the above is or are correct?

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

Q.2 Which of the following is not  true about the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED)

  1. It is a statutory body 
  2. It is administered by the Ministry of Commerce.
  3. It works for the social and economic development of the tribal people of the country 
  4. It has been registered as a National Level Cooperative body by the Government of the country

Q.3 Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0 comes under which of the following Ministry?

  1. Ministry of Drinking water and sanitation
  2. Ministry of Home Affairs
  3. Ministry of urban affairs
  4. Ministry of Social justice

ANSWERS FOR 25th Dec 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 B
3 C

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