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Daily Current affairs 24 August 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

Relevant articles from PIB:

 

World Youth Conference on Kindness 

 

The first World Youth Conference on Kindness is being organised in New Delhi.

It is organised by the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development, Ministry of Human Resource Development.

  • The aim is to impart critical competencies (i.e. empathy, compassion, mindfulness and critical inquiry) in global youth to inspire, empower and enable them to transform themselves and build long-lasting peace in their communities. Youth leaders, representing over 27 countries, are participating in this Conference.

Theme: ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: Gandhi for the Contemporary World: Celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’.

Objectives:

  1. Intensive youth-led capacity building workshops to enhance the capacities of youth on social and emotional learning skills and competencies such as empathy, mindfulness, compassion, kindness and critical inquiry through the prism of identity and global issues.
  2. a generative space consisting of experts panels and TAGe plenary for youth and experts to share and critically engage with the concept of peace through kindness and nonviolence.
  3. a platform to celebrate inspiring acts of kindness that are effecting change in the world and action programming for youth agency.

 

In News- National Agricultural Cooperative Federation of India Ltd. (NAFED):

Context: Government to substantially increase the daily supply of onions from its buffer stock held with NAFED.

About NAFED:

  • National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd.(NAFED), established in 1958, is registered under the Multi State Co-operative Societies Act.
  • Nafed was setup with the object to promote Co-operative marketing of Agricultural Produce to benefit the farmers.
  • Composition: Agricultural farmers are the main members of Nafed, who have the authority to say in the form of members of the General Body in the working of Nafed.
  • The objectives of the NAFED shall be to organize, promote and develop marketing, processing and storage of agricultural, horticultural and forest produce, distribution of agricultural machinery, implements and other inputs, undertake inter-state, import and export trade etc.

GS Paper 3:

Topics covered:

Biotechnology related issues.

 

Fortified rice

 

What to study?

For Prelims: What is food fortification, FSSAI.

For Mains: Food fortification and food security.

 

Context: To tackle the menace of Malnutrition, NITI Aayog seeks creation of roadmap by Department of Food and Public Distribution for taking the Rice Fortification Pilot Scheme Pan India.

What is Rice Fortification?

Fortification is the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, i.e. vitamins and minerals (including trace elements) in a food, so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health. Rice fortification is the practice of increasing the content of essential micronutrients in rice and to improve the nutritional quality of the rice.

 

Why Rice Fortification?

  1. Rice is the world’s most important staple food. An estimated 2 billion people eat rice every day, forming the mainstay of diets across large of Asia and Africa.
  2. Regular milled rice is low in micronutrients and serves primarily as a source of carbohydrate only. The fortification of rice is a major opportunity to improve nutrition.
  3. Fortified rice are contains Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Iron and Zinc.

 

Food fortification in India:

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has formulated a comprehensive regulation on fortification of foods namely ‘Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2016’. These regulations set the standards for food fortification and encourage the production, manufacture, distribution, sale and consumption of fortified foods. The regulations also provide for specific role of FSSAI in promotion for food fortification and to make fortification mandatory. This sets the premise for the national summit on fortification of food.

 

Benefits of fortification:

  1. If consumed on a regular and frequent basis, fortified foods will maintain body stores of nutrients more efficiently and more effectively than will intermittent supplements.
  2. Fortified foods are also better at lowering the risk of the multiple deficiencies that can result from seasonal deficits in the food supply or a poor quality diet.
  3. Fortification can be an excellent way of increasing the content of vitamins in breast milk and thus reducing the need for supplementation in postpartum women and infants.
  4. Fortification of widely distributed and widely consumed foods has the potential to improve the nutritional status of a large proportion of the population, both poor and wealthy.
  5. Fortification is often more cost-effective than other strategies, especially if the technology already exists and if an appropriate food distribution system is in place.

GS Paper 3:

Topic:

Conservation related topics.

 

Composite Water Management Index (CWMI)

 

What to study?

For Prelims: CWMI- key features, best and worst performing states.

For Mains: Water crisis- concerns, challenges and solutions.

 

ContextNITI Aayog has released its report on Composite Water Management Index (CWMI).

About CWMI:

  1. The Composite Water Management Index report is a step in a direction that aims to create awareness among people and governments about the realities of water crisis in the country.
  2. CWMI aims to enable effective water management in Indian states in the face of this growing crisis.
  3. The index would provide useful information for the states and concerned Central ministries and departments enabling them to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources.
  4. NITI Aayog has ranked all states in the index on the composite water management, comprising 9 broad sectors with 28 different indicators covering various aspects of ground water, restoration of water bodies, irrigation, farm practices, drinking water, policy and governance.

 

Key performers:

  1. Gujarat is ranked one in the reference year (2017-18).
  2. It is followed byAndhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. 
  3. In North Eastern and Himalayan States, Himachal Pradesh has been adjudged number 1 in 2017-18 followed by Uttarakhand, Tripura and Assam.
  4. The Union Territories have first time submitted their data and Puducherry has been declared as the top ranker.
  5. In terms of incremental change in index (over 2016-17 level), Haryana holds number one position in general States and Uttarakhand ranks at first position amongst North Eastern and Himalayan States.
  6. On an average, 80% of the states assessed on the Index over the last three years have improved their water management scores, with an average improvement of +5.2 points.

 

Key findings and concerns:

  1. Even as states are making progress in water management, the overall performance remains well below what is required to adequately tackle India’s water challenges.
  2. Of the 25 states and two union territories, assessed in the CWMI, 80 per cent have improved their water management scores, with an average improvement of more than 5.2 points. But, 16 states still score less than 50 points on the index (out of 100) and fall in the low-performing category. 
  3. The low-performing states, which include Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Delhi, Rajasthan, Nagaland and Meghalaya, collectively account for around 48 per cent of the population, 40 per cent of agricultural produce and 35 per cent of economic output of India.
  4. The report cautioned that urban hubs are likely to witness severe water shortages in the future. This which could risk growth and reduce quality of life for citizens in urban areas.

 

Need of the hour:

The states must improve water management practices so that the country can provide its citizens with better quality of life, support economic growth and sustain its ecosystem.

 

Way ahead:

  • Water scarcity is one of the biggest problems the country is facing today and that more than the scarcity of water, it is an issue of management of water resources.
  • Water management is often currently viewed as a zero-sum game by states due to limited frameworks for inter-state and national management. However, Centre-state and inter-state cooperation can help address the issue.
  • There is a need to reward those states which are doing well in managing their water resources and also to bring in the public domain the names of those states which are not managing their resources properly.

 

Relevant articles from various news sources:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Govt unveils package to spur economic growth

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key issues ailing the economy, measures announced and their significance.

 

Context: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced measures to revive growth, boost consumption and uplift investor and consumer sentiment.

 

key announcements: 

Investors:

  1. Enhanced surcharge on FPIs stands withdrawn. Surcharge on domestic investors in equity markets also withdrawn.
  2. Aadhaar-based KYCfor opening demat accounts and investment in mutual funds.
  3. Govt working to bring offshore rupee market to domestic market
  4. Govt to consult with RBI to enhance Credit default swap options

Industry

  1. CSR violationwould be treated as a civil offence, not a criminal offence
  2. All pending GST refundstill now shall be paid in 30 days. Future GST refunds to be paid in 60 days. 
  3. Govt to simplify the GST system

 

Auto sector: 

  1. BS-IV cars purchased till March 2020 to remain operational for the entire period of registration.
  2. Govt asks its departments to replace old vehicles.
  3. Higher vehicle registration fee deferredto June next year. 
  4. Higher depreciation for all vehicle: Depreciation increased to 30 per cent for all vehicle purchased till March 2020. 
  5. Scrappage policy to be announced soon.

 

MSMEs

  1. Govt withdraws angle tax provision for startups and their investors. 
  2. One-time settlement policy for MSME loans. Policy to be based on check box approach.
  3. Laws to be amended to ensure one MSME definition

 

Home, auto loans: 

  1. Banks to make home, auto loans cheaper. Banks have agreed to pass on the rate cut announced by RBI to customers. Banks to launch Repo Rate linked loans. 
  2. Online tracking system for home, auto loans. 
  3. PSBs to return loan documentsto customers within 15 days of loan closure. 

 

Income Tax:

Govt to end tax harassment. Old tax notice to be decided by October 1. 
From October 1, all Income Tax notices must be disposed off within 3 months

For NBFCs: 

  1. NBFC can now use Aadhaar-based KYC.
  2. Prepayment notices issued to NBFCs will be monitored by banks. 
  3. Additional liquidity to support Housing Finance Companies by National Housing Board increased to Rs 30,000 crore.
  4. Govt to release Rs 70,000 crore upfront for PSBs recapitalisation

 

Significance and the need for these measures:

  • For an economy that is downbeat in growth and in sentiment, the comprehensive package of measures announced may just be the right boost.
  • They address growth slowdown concerns; free up funds for investment and spending by banks, housing finance companies and MSMEs; and importantly, undo some controversial proposals, in the budget and outside it, which were affecting sentiment in the markets and the corporate sector.
  • And, importantly, these have all been done without any significant financial burden on the government.
  • Some of the measures promote the ease of doing business and even the ease of living for ordinary citizens.
  • As the festive season sets in, banks will have more space to increase their lending consequent to the upfront funding of ₹70,000 crore (announced in the budget) that they will get from the government towards recapitalisation.
  • This, together with the strong push for repo rate linked loan products, is likely to benefit consumers borrowing to buy new homes, vehicles and durables.
  • Some of the smaller steps can go a long way. Expediting delayed payments by government departments and public sector units is alone expected to release a massive ₹60,000 crore into the economy.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 1 and 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Women related issues.
  2. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage), Bill 2019

 

What to Study? 

For Prelims: Key features of the Bill proposed.

For Mains: Need, significance and challenges in implementation. 

 

Context: The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Centre on a set of PILs challenging the recent Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act 2019, more popularly known as the triple talaq criminalisation.

 

What’s the issue?

  1. The pleas have alleged that the Act is unconstitutional, as it criminalises the “mere pronouncement of triple talaq, which had already been declared unconstitutional and void” by the Supreme Court.
  2. The pleas have also alleged that the law “unjustly and unfairly” criminalises the act of one community, even as desertion of the wife by other communities is not a crime.

 

Background:

Parliament, last month, passed the Muslim Women(Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 criminalising triple talaq. After President Kovind signs the bill, it will become the law and will replace the 1986 Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act.

The Supreme Court’s judgment in the Shayara Bano case held that the practice of talaq-e-biddat (or triple talaq) unconstitutional. After the judgement, government passed Muslim protection Bill also known as, Triple Talaq Bill in Lok Sabha but there have been criticism about the legal and procedural aspects of the bill.

 

Significance of the bill:

The proposed Bill will protect the rights of married Muslim women and prevent divorce by the practice of instantaneous and irrevocable ‘talaq-e-biddat’ by their husbands.

It provides the rights of subsistence allowance, custody of minor children to victims of triple talaq i.e. talaq-e-biddat.

 

Key provisions of the Bill:

  1. The Bill makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void (i.e. not enforceable in law) and illegal.
  2. Definition: It defines talaq as talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq pronounced by a Muslim man resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce.  Talaq-e-biddat refers to the practice under Muslim personal laws where pronouncement of the word ‘talaq’ thrice in one sitting by a Muslim man to his wife results in an instant and irrevocable divorce.
  3. Offence and penalty: The Bill makes declaration of talaq a cognizable offence, attracting up to three years’ imprisonment with a fine.  (A cognizable offence is one for which a police officer may arrest an accused person without warrant.) 
  4. The offence will be cognizable only if information relating to the offence is given by:(i) the married woman (against whom talaq has been declared), or (ii) any person related to her by blood or marriage.
  5. The Bill provides that the Magistrate may grant bail to the accused. The bail may be granted only after hearing the woman (against whom talaq has been pronounced), and if the Magistrate is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for granting bail.
  6. The offence may be compounded by the Magistrate upon the request of the woman(against whom talaq has been declared). Compounding refers to the procedure where the two sides agree to stop legal proceedings, and settle the dispute.  The terms and conditions of the compounding of the offence will be determined by the Magistrate.
  7. Allowance: A Muslim woman against whom talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and for her dependent children. The amount of the allowance will be determined by the Magistrate.
  8. Custody: A Muslim woman against whom such talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek custody of her minor children. The manner of custody will be determined by the Magistrate.

 

Issues with the bill:

  1. The bill introduced in Parliament proposes a three-year jail term for a man divorcing his wife through triple talaq. Although most Muslim women feel it is time to end the practice, they are wary of the slipshod manner in which the government has passed the bill in the Lok Sabha.
  2. If the aim of the law is to protect the rights of women, how is that possible with their husbands in prison? If they have children under the age of 18, who will take care of their education, health, financial and other needs? The woman will not be protected but instead be vulnerable to more abuse.
  3. The Bill does not provide the victimised woman any additional benefits in terms of her rights in marriage and divorce.
  4. Since the Bill says that triple talaq is cognizable and non-bailable, married Muslim man become vulnerable target as policemen  can arrest and investigate the accused with or without the complaint from wife or any other person.
  5. Divorce is a civil matter and making Triple Talaq a criminal offence is disproportionate to criminal jurisprudence. The Supreme Court declared Triple Talaq as invalid and did not ask the government to make it a penal offence. Thereby criminalizing the Triple Talaq goes against the spirit of the Supreme Court judgement.

 

Way ahead:

The legislation brings India at par with other Muslim majority states including Pakistan and Bangladesh. This was long overdue for a country that has taken pride in its adherence to the principles of secularism, democracy, and equality. Personal laws of other religious communities, Hindus and Christians, have gone through renditions to address some concerns relating to gender equality in matters of inheritance and polygamy. Despite the gains, gender equality does not permeate all aspects of civil law. This legislation presents an opportunity to put in place a civil code that steeped in equality—across faiths and gender. 

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

International Day for Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Abolition- August 23

 

What to study?

For Prelims: significance and theme of the day.

For Mains: Slave trade- origin, causes, impact and outcomes.

 

Context: In 1998, UNESCO designated August 23 as the International Day for Remembrance of the Slave Trade & Abolition to commemorate “the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of all peoples”.

  • UNESCO also established an international, intercultural project called ‘The Slave Route’ to document and conduct an “analysis of the interactions to which it has given rise between Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean.”

 

Slave trade from India:

Indentured servitude from India started in 1834 and lasted up till 1922, despite having been officially banned in 1917 by British India’s Imperial Legislative Council after pressure from freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi.

This practice of indentured labour resulted in the growth of a large diaspora with Indo-Carribean, Indo-African and Indo-Malaysian heritage that continue to live in the Carribean, Fiji, Réunion, Natal, Mauritius, Malaysia, Sri Lanka etc.

 

How it all began?

  • Indentured migration started post the abolition of slavery to run sugar and rubber plantations that the British had set up in the West Indies.
  • The British Empire was expanding to South America, Africa and Asia and they needed new labour, but slavery was considered inhuman. So they developed the concept of contract labour.
  • The British turned to India and China that had a large population and found the surplus labour they needed to run these plantations in the new colonies.
  • The abolition of slavery failed to change the mindset of the planters which remained that of ‘slave owners’.
  • They were ‘accustomed to a mentality of coerced labour’ and desired ‘an alternative and competitive labour force which would give them same type of labour control that they were accustomed to under slavery.

 

Why was indentured labour called slavery? What was the Impact?

  1. Encouraging family migration hardly arose out of concern for the welfare of these bonded migrants. According to the terms of indentured labour, the migrants had the right to return after finishing their 10 year terms of indenture. The British were not interested in having them return to their homeland because it wouldn’t be a good return on their investment.
  2. For every 100 males who were put on board the ships that transported the migrants, 40 were women, in an attempt to maintain the sex ratio. Due to the skewed sex ratios, many men went on to settle permanently in these colonies and have families.
  3. The system subjected poor, vulnerable Indians to long-term abuse and exploitation and the pain of these indentured migrants has been recorded through music, books, photographs and other forms of literature.
  4. The journey by sea was long and traumatic, with travel taking approximately 160 days to reach the Caribbean colonies. The comfort of the migrants was not even a consideration for the British and the travellers were loaded onto cargo cargo ships that were not meant to carry passengers.
  5. The migrants also faced physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the European ship captains and there was no means of escape except jumping off the ship into the water.
  6. The migrants faced difficult conditions on the plantations because there was paucity of adequate food, clean water, sanitation and healthcare.

 

Sources: Indian Express.


 

Facts for prelims:

 

Bavar-373:

It is Iran’s new home-grown air defence system. It is being touted as Islamic republic’s 1st domestically produced long-range missile defence system.

It is a long-range mobile surface-to-air missile system.

Range: more than 200 kilometres (124 miles)

 

Bt cowpea:

  • Nigeria has become the first country to approve open cultivation of genetically modified (GM) Bt cowpea.
  • By Cowpea is pest- resistant and can help combat malnutrition rates, especially in children.
  • It contains the transgene Cry1Ab, which can be toxic for human liver cells and also alter immune systems of lab animals, anti-GM groups claimed.

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