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Daily Current affairs 19/Feb/2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair


India needs more women parliamentarians Editorial 19th Feb’19 LiveMint

Low percentage of women in Indian Parliament:

  • India had only 65 women out of 545 members of Parliament (MPs) elected to the 16th Lok Sabha, for a 12% representation.
  • Despite being low, the 15th and 16th Lok Sabha still represent an improvement to earlier share of women MPs of less than 9% since Independence.

Comparision with other countries:

  • According to a list compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, India ranks 153 out of 190 nations in the percentage of women in the lower house of world parliaments.
  • Even Pakistan with 20% participation from women is ahead of India.
  • Rwanda ranks first with 61% of its lower house representatives being women.
  • The UK and the US are also a bit lagging, with 32% and 23%, respectively.
  • As a region, Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) are leaders with an average of about 40%.



Importance of increase in women's representation in Parliament

  1. Unfairly low representation in proportion to population:
  • The Indian system has electoral representation to the Lok Sabha based on population.
  • Thus, the most populous state Uttar Pradesh has 80 MPs followed by Maharashtra with 48, while four of the north-eastern states—Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Sikkim—have only one seat each.
  • While we allocate total seats to states by population, the resultant women’s representation at 12% is far below the actual population of women.
  • A representative Parliament requires the different experiences of women also to craft priorities and shape the nation's economic and social future.
  1. Greater women representation balances priorities of elected bodies:
  • Evidence both at the international level and at the gram panchayat (village) level suggests that a greater representation of women in elected office balances the process and prioritizations that elected bodies focus on.
  • For example, in Rwandan lower house , a wider range of family issues get tackled.
  • Some studies suggest that more women in the house could result in lesser direct confrontation on the floor of the House.


How to improve representation of women in Parliament:

  1. Quotas for women in Parliament
    • The 73rd and 74th amendments to the Indian Constitution reserve one-third of local body seats for women.
    • Similar efforts to provide reservation for one-third of the seats for women in the Lok Sabha has been tabled as a bill several times until as recently as 2008, without getting passed.
    • Implementation is complex as constituencies may have to be rotated and/or we may need dual member constituencies.
  2. Reservation for women in political parties
    • Around the world, countries like Sweden, Norway, Canada, the UK and France follow the idea of reservation in political parties.
    • Some suggest that the Election Commission could take the lead in the effort to encourage reservation for women in political parties.
    • This method though may not lead to more women parliamentarians, but it does allow for a more meritocratic and less complex method of moving forward on this issue.
  3. Awareness, education and role modelling that encourage women towards politics
    • This will follow once reservations are provided for women, even at the political party level. Education, encouragement, and role-modelling for women to aspire to a political role will be in the party’s interest to ensure that their candidate wins.



  • India has had a long-serving woman prime minister and several women chief ministers and speakers of the House.
  • Yet its record of women parliamentarians is woefully poor.
  • For a balanced future for the country, it is important to debate and move forward on bringing about more women representation.




GS Paper II: Polity & Social Issues

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Section : Polity & Governance


Ministry revises rules for chartering of ships

The news

  • To incentivise ship-building activity in the country, the Union Ministry of Shipping has revised guidelines for chartering of ships and accorded priority to ships built in India.
  • Note: Chartering is an activity within the shipping industry whereby a shipowner hires out the use of his/her vessel to a charterer.



  • In ancient India, shipbuilding was a major and thriving industry (instances from Indus Valley Civilization, Rig Veda and Arthashastra).
  • The industry declined later due to various reasons including colonisation.
  • In the present era, the shipping industry is being dominated by foreign players. In 2013-14, Indian flag vessels carried only 8.5% of cargo. The remaining 91.5% was carried by foreign flag vessels.


Highlights of the news

  • The Ministry of Shipping has revised guidelines for chartering of ships by providing Right of First Refusal (RoFR) to ships built in India.
  • Prior to the revision of the guidelines, the RoFR was reserved for Indian flag vessels (ships registered in India, not necessarily built in India) as per the relevant provisions of Merchant Shipping Act, 1958.
  • The existing licensing conditions have been reviewed in consonance with the Government of India’s policy of promoting the Make in India.
  • To promote shipbuilding in India, government is also providing long term subsidy under the Shipbuilding Financial Assistance Policy (2016-2026).


Significance of the move

  • It is expected that this priority given to ships built in India will raise the demand for such vessels, giving a long term strategic boost to the domestic shipbuilding industry.
  • It will also encourage the domestic shipping industry to support the domestic shipbuilding industry and develop strong synergy between these vital industries for the overall long term development and economic growth of the country.



  • The move can be seen as “protectionist” by foreign players involved in the industry and can discourage foreign investment.
  • Though the move will promote ‘Make in India’ initiative, it could make industry less competitive.

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Section : Economics


Despite concerns, Ladakh solar plan attracts 50 companies

The News

  • The government of India's ambitious plan to set up a 7,500 MW (mega watt) solar power project in Jammu & Kashmir's Ladakh region got a good response from companies bidding to build the project.


About the J&K solar power project

  • SECI (Solar Energy Corporation of India), under the renewable energy ministry, is promoting a 5,000 MW project for Ladakh and a 2,500 MW project for Kargil in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. They are to be completed by 2023 at an estimated investment of Rs 45,000 crore.
  • Ladakh Project:
    • The Ladakh project will be located at Hanle-Khaldo in Nyoma, a strategically important area 254km from Leh.
    • It is expected to be the world's largest single-location solar photo-voltaic plant.
    • Power from the Ladakh project will flow to Kaithal in Haryana, for which a 900-km transmission line will be laid.
  • Kargil Project:
    • The Kargil project will be built at Suru in Zanskar.
    • The Kargil project will be joined with the grid at New Wanpoh near Srinagar through a newly laid transmission line.




  • The Land has been already identified and allotted, with Leh and Kargil already designated 25,000 and 12,500 acres of non-grazing land, respectively.
  • The solar plants will have improved efficiency due to high irradiance, and a high number of sunny days.
  • The bids offer flexibility like combining the plant and associated transmission lines, putting promoters in control who otherwise have to depend on another entity for transmission and suffer if evacuation routes are delayed.
  • The project also enjoy full local support.


Other important benefits:

  • The projects are expected to spur development in the remote border regions.
  • It will empower the local population through skilling for jobs such as maintenance of transformers, solar panels etc.
  • It will save 12,750 tonne of carbon emission a year.
  • It will remove dependence on diesel gensets.



  • Security situation in the state
  • Logistical challenges of transporting heavy equipment through mountainous roads and narrow bridges
  • Geographical challenges with long and extreme weather conditions limiting work window
  • Bundling of generation and transmission components in bidding
  • Permissions, tariffs and off take assurance due to tariff
  • Narrow edges of towers limiting scope for expanding transmission capacity.



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Section : Economics


Quash Kulbhushan verdict, says India

Why in news?

  • The public hearing have commenced at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav who has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage.
  • The hearings came at a time when ties between India and Pakistan have hit a low following the Pulwama terror attack.


About International Court of Justice(ICJ)

  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the main judicial organ of the United Nations (UN), established in 1945 after World War II, to resolve international disputes.
  • The seat of the Court is in The Hague (Netherlands). Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America).
  • The Court’s role is to deal with “contentious” cases submitted to it by member states and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it. But it is not a criminal court.
  • The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the UN Security Council.
  • Its official languages are English and French.

Note: The Kulbhushan Jadhav case is only the fourth one involving a death sentence to be heard by the ICJ. It is the first such case since 1999, and the first that does not involve the US.



  • Kulbhushan Jadhav is a former Indian Navy officer, who was arrested by Pakistani officials in 2016, on suspicion of spying and obstructing activities against the country.
  • Claiming that Jadhav was an Indian spy, the Pakistani military court sentenced him to death.
  • However, India insists that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy and that he has no links with the government.
  • India has accused Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention by failing to provide Jadhav with consular access, as well as breaking human rights laws.
  • The execution was stayed after India’s appeal at International Court of Justice.
  • India has requested the ICJ to annul the verdict of the military court and direct Pakistan to set Jadhav free on the basis of the “review and reconsideration” process that would be available to him in that country.
  • The verdict is likely to come up in months after the hearing.


What is consular access?

  • India had demanded consular access to Jadhav under the rules of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963.
  • This is an international treaty that defines consular relations between independent states.
  • A consul, who is not a diplomat, is a representative of a foreign state in a country and works for the interests of his countrymen in the host country.
  • Article 36 of the Vienna Convention states that foreign nationals who are arrested or detained be given notice without delay of their right to have their embassy or consulate notified of that arrest.


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Section : International Relation


5.7 crore Indians dependent on alcohol, need treatment: Govt survey

The News

  • The first ever national survey on substance abuse in India has revealed alarming results needing urgent actions to tackle the menace.
  • Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs.


The Survey

  • “Magnitude of Substance Abuse in India" survey was conducted by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of AIIMS.
  • It is the first ever survey on substance abuse that has reported state-wise data.
  • The results of the survey are based on household survey conducted in 186 districts among the age group 10-75.
  • The survey categorized 9 types of substances including:
    • Alcohol
    • Cannabis (Bhang and Ganja/Charas)
    • Opioids (Opium, Heroin and Pharmaceutical Opioids)
    • Cocaine
    • Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS)
    • Sedatives
    • Inhalants
    • Hallucinogens


Key Results 

Prevalence of Substance Abuse


  • India has 16 crore alcohol users in the age group 10-75, who have consumed alcohol at least once in the past 12 months.
  • About 35% of them are affected by harmful or dependent alcohol use needing urgent medical attention. However only 3% of them get some kind of treatment.
  • States with the high prevalence of alcohol use include Chhattisgarh, Tripura, Punjab, Arunachal Pradesh and Goa.


  • About 3 crore people in India used cannabis in the past 12 months, out of whom about 24% require urgent medical help.
  • Prevalence of harmful, dependent use is higher for ganja/charas users.
  • States with the higher prevalence of cannabis use are Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Sikkim, Chhattisgarh and Delhi.


  • Most common opioid used in India is Heroin.
  • About 60 lakh people suffer from opioid use disorders.
  • High prevalent states include Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Maharashtra.


  • About 4.6 lakh children are addicted to inhalant drugs, with the prevalence being higher among children than that among adults.
  • High prevalence of child users of inhalants occur in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi and Haryana.


  • Cocaine, Amphetamine Type Stimulants and Hallucinogens are the categories with lowest prevalence of current use in India.


Strategy to tackle Alcohol abuse

1. Regulation of alcohol distribution

  • Licensing system is the common strategy to restrict alcohol availability
  • Setting minimum legal age
  • Setting a blood alcohol content for drink-driving.
  • At national level, India has a blood alcohol content for drink-driving at 0.03% per 100ml blood.
  • Disclosing the alcohol content on alcoholic beverage labels

2. Restrictions on advertising

  • There are legally binding regulations on alcohol advertising in India.
  • Total bans most common for national television and national radio.

3. Alcohol pricing policy

  • High excise taxes to discourage buying of alcohol, applied at state level


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Section : Social Issues


Super snow moon, 2019's biggest super moon, lights up the sky

The News

  • February is witnessing the largest and brightest Super Moon of 2019, named as Super Snow Moon in the US.


Super-moons in 2019

  • 2019 is witnessing 3 super moons:
    • The first supermoon occurred in January, second being the current one in February followed by a super moon in March.
  • The February Super Moon is special in that it is the biggest and the brightest.


What is a Super Moon?

  • If a Full Moon phase of the moon occurs when the moon is nearest (perigee) in its orbit around the Earth, the phenomena is called Supermoon.
  • Since the moon is closest, it ‘appears’ bigger in size in accordance with the ‘parallax’.
  • It is seen that the super moon’s apparent size is 7% greater than an ordinary full Moon.
  • Besides it is 15% brighter than that of an ordinary Moon.


Why is it called Super Snow Moon?

  • The first ever calendars designed and used by humans was a lunar calendar to predict seasons.
  • Ancient Europe and Native Americans named the moon appearing February as Snow moon due to typical snowfall during February in those parts. As a result, the full moon in February is called a Super Snow Moon.


Full Moon: A brief description of phases of moon

  • Figure shows the relationship between the lunar phase visible from Earth and the position of the Moon in its orbit.
  • When the Moon is at position A, we see it in roughly the same direction in the sky as the Sun.
  • Hence, the dark hemisphere of the Moon faces the Earth. This phase is called new moon.
  • As the Moon continues around its orbit from position A in more of its illuminated half becomes exposed to our view.
  • The result, shown at position B, is a phase called waxing crescent moon.
  • About a week after new moon, the Moon is at position C, we then see half of the Moon’s illuminated hemisphere and half of the dark hemisphere. This phase is called first quarter moon.
  • Two weeks after new moon, when the Moon stands opposite the Sun in the sky (position E), we see the fully illuminated hemisphere. This phase is called full moon.




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Section : Science & Tech