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Daily Current affairs 5 January 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

Left out, abused Editorial 5th Jan’19 The Hindu

 Poor state of Child care institutions in India:

  • Child care institutions in India have been ignored by the administrations across India.
  • The most high profile case recently was the revelations of the sexual abuse of girls in a balika grih (government-funded girls' shelter home) at Muzaffarpur in Bihar.
  • A home that was meant to protect girls rescued from exploitation had turned into a den of predation.

Central government committee studied the state of shelters: 

  • The shocking rot in the management of such shelters has now been reported by a Central government committee.
  • The review of shelters was led by a committee headed by Ratna Anjan Jena, statistical advisor to the Women and Child Development Ministry
  • It studied 9,589 Child Care Institutions and Homes that house nearly 3.8 lakh minors, mostly run by NGOs, that come under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
  • Who are the inmates in these shelter homes?
    • Most of the inmates are orphaned, abandoned, sexually abused, trafficked or victims of disasters and conflict.
    • Among them are 7,422 children in conflict with the law, and 3,70,227 in need of care and protection, including 1,70,375 girls.

Findings:

  • The panel found child care standards were poor in many institutions, sans proper bedding, food and nutrition and sanitation.
  • More than 50% of shelter homes did not produce children before Child Welfare Committees or Juvenile Justice Boards, as mandated by the Juvenile Justice Act.
  • Just 7% of homes have ever been audited socially.
  • Only 65 % of homes segregated children on the basis of age-groups and gender, thus compromising their privacy and safety.
  • The committee found that a large number of children in shelter homes are suffering and are often:
    • Left unsupervised at night
    • Subjected to corporal punishment for “discipline”
    • Given sub-standard food
    • Not provided adequate medical or legal aid
    • Left to languish for years without proper education or skill training

 

Emergency measures needed:

  • The inmates often have to live in facilities without proper toilets, secure compounds or the opportunity to vent their grievances as provided for under law.
  • This shows the painful reality that they remain virtually invisible to the administration.
  • Only an emergency measure to address the serious lacunae can bring some semblance of order to these faceless shelters.

Need scrutiny of all shelters by States:

  • Reform of this depressing system can be achieved only through systematic scrutiny by State governments.
  • Special officers may be appointed:
    • This could be done by appointing special officers who could be tasked to ensure that all institutions:
      • Register under the JJ Act
        • As per the recent study, only 32% of Child Care Institutions or Homes were registered under the JJ Act as of 2016, while an equal number were unregistered.
        • The rest were either empanelled under other schemes or awaiting registration.
      • Account for funds received by them
        • The committee found less than 40 per cent submit their financial audit reports to relevant authorities in time.
      • Enforce mandatory child protection policies during adoption
        • The committee found that just 23.6 per cent homes have a written “Child Protection policy”.

Need uniform standards: 

  • The priority should be to bring about uniformity of standards and procedures, evolving common norms for infrastructure, human resources, financial practices and external audits.

Need more shelter homes:

  • Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Kerala together account for 43.5% of all shelters.
  • Some States have too few homes, giving authorities little incentive to take up cases of children in distress.
  • A few States do not have even one home of every category, such as child care, observation and adoption.

 

Way ahead:

  • The Women and Child Development Ministry’s study exposes the disconnect between civil society and the welfare system for children.
  • It also shows the poor engagement elected representatives have with such a vital function.
  • The imperative now is to turn the findings of the Ministry’s committee into a blueprint for action.
  • Credentialed NGOs should take a greater interest in this effort, holding the authorities to account.

 

Importance:

GS Paper II: Social Issues

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Section : Editorial Analysis

 

Open defecation continues unabated

Why in news?

• Recently, a new research on the impact of the SwachhBharat Mission in the rural parts of four northern States has been released by the research institute for compassionate economics (r.i.c.e.) and the Accountability Initiative of the Centre for Policy Research .

• The study shows that while open defecation has fallen and toilet ownership has increased, the percentage of people who owned toilets but continued to defecate in the open has remained unchanged between 2014 and 2018.

 

Key Highlights of the Study:

• The working paper shows that approximately 44% of people over two years old in rural Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh still defecate in the open.

• The working paper confirms that the Mission has driven toilet construction, although its findings are more modest than government claims.

• Almost 60% of households covered by the survey which did not have a toilet in 2014 had one by 2018, said the study.

• One major statistic, however, has remained unchanged since 2014: the fraction of people who own a toilet, but who nevertheless defecate in the open remains at about 23%.

• This finding is based on a late 2018 survey, which covered 9812 people in these states.

• The researchers visited the same areas and families which who participated in a similar June 2014 survey which had showed that 70% of people then defecated in the open.

 

 

What does this Implies?

• This indicates that the Mission has been more successful at toilet construction than at driving behaviour change.

 

About Swachh Bharat Mission:

• The Swachh Bharat Mission was launched in October 2014.

• It consists of two sub-missions – the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) (SBM-G), which is implemented in rural areas, and the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), which is implemented in urban areas.  

• SBM-G seeks to eliminate open defecation in rural areas by 2019 through improving access to sanitation.  

• It also had several components like construction of household and community toilets, door to door garbage collection, eradicating manual scavenging, proper disposal of municipal waste, waste management and treatment and bringing in behavioural changes and awareness generation.  

• According to the Mission, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are already open defecation free or ODF states.

• Bihar has achieved 98.97% coverage of toilets for every household, while Uttar Pradesh has achieved 100%, according to government data, although the state has yet to be declared ODF.

 

Effects of Open Defecation

• Open defecation poses a serious threat to the health of children in India.

• Open defecation exposes women to the danger of physical attacks and encounters such as snake bites.  

• Poor sanitation also cripples national development: workers produce less, live shorter lives, save and invest less, and are less able to send their children to school.

 

Challenges in making India 100 % Open Defecation free:

• Mindset of People: The Mindset of a major portion of the population habituated to open defecation needs to be changed. Many of them already have a toilet but prefer to defecate in the open.

• Scientific Waste Management sanitation practices: There is no professional expertise in the Municipal Corporation to keep the city clean and it remains unclear how and where the waste will be disposed and what extent of the responsibility for managing waste lies with citizens.

• Sustainability: The lack of any resources for maintenance of school toilets and community sanitary complexes could result in rapid deterioration and subsequent non-usage of these over time, severely impacting the sustainability of the programme.

• Lack of staff: Inadequate dedicated staff at the Field Level for implementation of rural sanitation.

 

Steps to be taken:

• In order to make India 100% open defecation free, it is essential to launch a comprehensive behaviouralchange strategy that focuses on changing the mindset of people and eradicating the open defecation habit.

• Toilets need to be repositioned as a status symbol that is desired by all. School textbooks should include chapters on sanitation. Both children and adults should be shown films and TV programmes on the subject to help them understand the importance of defecating in toilets. Toilets need to be projected as a trend that people can follow, rather than forcing them as a prescription.

• Post construction of toilets, the government should establish a monitoring system that makes sure that the latrines are emptied regularly when they fill up and the waste is decomposed safely, and not into nearby rivers or oceans.

• In rural areas, focus needs to be laid upon panchayatiraj institutions, which can be used as a platform to promote sustainable sanitation practices and creation of public-supported frameworks of organic disposal and utilisation of human waste.

 

 

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Section : Social Issues

 

SEBI tweaks norms for commodity exchanges

The News:

• Recently, a circular has been issued by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), whichdirected commodity bourses to disclose the open interest and turnover of various categories of participants like farmers, farmers producer organisations (FPOs), value chain participants, proprietary traders, foreign participants, and domestic financial institutional investors.

 

About Commodity Market:

• It is physical or virtual marketplace for buying, selling and trading raw or primary products. Thus, it is market that trades in primary economic sector rather than manufactured products.

• Commodities in this market are split into two types: hard and soft commodities.

• Hard commodities are typically natural resources that must be mined or extracted (such as gold, oil), whereas soft commodities are agricultural products or livestock (such as, wheat, cotton, corn, coffee, sugar, soybeans and pork).

• In India commodity market is market where different commodities are traded on its derivative contract.

• Derivatives are contract whose value is derived from underlying asset or contract where delivery of security or commodity held on specific future date.

• The main purpose of commodity derivative is to reduce risk of future price uncertainty and provide industry knowledge as well investment opportunity to general investor.

 

What is a commodity exchange?

• A commodity exchange is an exchange where various commodities, derivative products, agricultural products and other raw materials are traded.

• Commodities exchanges usually trade futures contracts on commodities.

• The commodity market in India is regulated by market board Sebi since September 2015. Prior to that Forward Market commission, Overseen by Ministry of Consumer Affairs regulated Commodities market in India.

 

Highlights of the circular

• Currently, commodity derivatives exchanges disseminate turnover data for only two broad categories of participants — clients and proprietary.

• Commodity derivatives exchanges will now have to disclose the quantum of trading done by farmers and other commodity market participants like millers and wholesalers on the exchange platform.

• Value chain participants include processors, commercial users like dal and flour millers, importers, exporters, physical market traders, stockists, cash and carry participants, produces and wholesalers among others.

• To begin with, stock exchanges shall make the disclosures on a weekly basis for every Wednesday by next Wednesday by October 1, 2019. By April 1, 2020 onwards, such disclosures shall be made on daily basis by 6 p.m. on T+1 day.

 

Significance of the move

• The SEBI move assumes significance because a large section of market players believe that the commodity market turnover is largely dominated by speculators and other participants that are not genuinely connected with the commodity segment.

• Transparency in the commodities derivatives markets is paramount for price signals as well as its correlation with the underlying physical market activities.

 

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Section : Economics

 

‘Appropriate Bench’ will hear Ayodhya appeals

The news

• The Supreme Court on 4th January, 2019 postponed hearing a bunch on petitions in the Ayodhya title dispute case till January 10.

 

About the issue

• The issue had arisen from a judgement in the Ismail Faruqui vs Union of India case, 1994, where the Supreme Court considered the acquisition of a religious place and held that a mosque was not integral to the practice of Islam.

• Further, the apex court is also hearing 13 appeals filed against a 2010 judgement of the Allahabad high court in four civil suits.

• The 2010 judgement of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court had ruled in favour of partitioning the land equally among three parties—the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and ‘Ram Lalla’ (infant Lord Ram), which is represented by the Hindu Mahasabha.

• The pending appeals challenge this high court verdict that mandated a three-way division of the disputed 2.77-acre site.

 

Background for the current order

• The Ayodhya title dispute case has been on the back burner for a while despite attempts to get an early hearing.

• The apex court started hearing the appeals in Ayodhya case after a hiatus of over seven years in 2017.

• The apex court on 27 September last year refused to refer to a larger bench its judgement in the Ismail Faruqui vs Union of India case, 1994, holding that a mosque was not integral to the practice of Islam.

• This verdict of 27 September also further directed the Supreme Court to start hearing the pending from October 29.

• Later, the apex court on October 29 had fixed the matter in the first week of January before an “appropriate bench”.

• However, an application was moved for according an urgent hearing by advancing the date, but the top court had refused the plea, saying it had already passed an order on October 29 relating to the hearing on the matter.

• The plea for early hearing was moved by the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM).

• To aggravate, various Hindutva organisations have been demanding an ordinance on early construction of Ram temple at the disputed site.

• However, Prime Minister in his recent interview with the news agency ANI, cleared that the government will wait till the Supreme court judgement on the issue.

• Now, the apex court has furthered the date to 10th of January.

 

Highlights of the news

• The Supreme Court postponed hearing a bunch on petitions in the Ayodhya title dispute case till January 10.

• It said- the matter will be listed before a newly constituted three-judge bench that will decide the way forward.

• Further orders will be passed by an appropriate bench on January 10 for fixing the date of hearing the matter.

• The bench to be set up will hear as many as 14 appeals filed against the 2010 Allahabad high court judgement.

• The Ayodhya appeals are against the September 30, 2010 decision of the Allahabad High Court to divide the disputed 2.77 acre area among the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

• The reason for postponement was given that the whole of this week is devoted to hearing miscellaneous matters after the court re-opened post the winter vacation.

• All the Benches in the court are sitting in combinations of two judges this week.

• The court would continue to sit in two-judge combinations on miscellaneous days - Mondays and Fridays - every week henceforth.

• This is one of the reforms introduced by Chief Justice Gogoi to deal with pendency of cases.

 

Allahabad High Court verdict2010 and the appeals over it

Allahabad high court verdict

• In his verdict on September 30, 2010 on Ayodhya dispute, the Allahabad High Court  divided the disputed 2.77 acre area among the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

• The High Court had concluded that Lord Ram, son of King Dashrath, was born within the 1,482.5 square yards of the disputed Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid premises over 900,000 years ago during the Treta Yuga.

• One of the judges added that the "world knows" where Ram's birthplace is.

• While another said his finding was an “informed guess” based on “oral evidences of several Hindus and some Muslims” that the precise birthplace of Ram is under the central dome.

• The court had relied on Hindu faith, belief and folklore to reach this conclusion.

 

September 27 verdict in appeal case over 1994 judgement

• The case witnessed a stinging dissent by Justice Nazeer that the question of what is essential or not in a religion cannot be hastily decided.

• He concluded that questions raised during the Ayodhya appeals' hearing about the comment made in the Ismail Faruqui judgment of 1994 require a "comprehensive examination" by a seven-judge Bench.

• However, the majority judges objected that references cannot be made to a larger Bench merely because of "questionable observations" made in an earlier judgment.

• Hence, the apex court on 27 September last year refused to refer to a larger bench its judgement in the Ismail Faruqui vs Union of India case, 1994.

 

Impacts

• The decision came amidst heightened demands by Hindutva organisations, including the RSS, for an ordinance for an early construction of the temple.

• This hearing assumes importance as Prime Minister recentlysuggested any decision on an ordinance on Ram temple in Ayodhya can happen only after the completion of the judicial process.

• The Prime Minister also said that-

o Let the judicial process take its own course.

o Once the judicial process is over, whatever be our responsibility as government, we are ready to make all efforts.

• The issue could become central to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, further polarizing voter preferences.

 

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Section : Social Issues

Andhra unveils second largest rock art trove

The News

  • Researchers have discovered the 2nd largest petroglyph site (rock carvings) of Andhra Pradesh of the Neolithic era at Mekala Benchi in Kurnool district.

 

Highlights

  • The Neolithic petroglyph site discovered at Mekala Benchi in Kurnool district consists of 80 petroglyphs (rock carvings).
  • Incidentally the largest petroglyph site of Neolithic age is also in Kurnool district at a place called Kandanathi with 200 petroglyphs.
  • The Neolothic site discovered has petroglyphs dating back from the Neolithic to the Megalithic period.
  • The petroglyphs (rock carvings) discovered included 2 boulders including a ash-coloured hill and a granite hillock having carved images of bulls human figures, an elephant, tiger-like animals and cupules.
  • Further the discovery also found tools used in Neolithic era such as polished triangular axe, 2 finished axes, a broken axe, rubbing stone, and potsherds.

 

Neolithic Era: A Backgrounder

  • Neolithic age (about 8000 BC) is a stone age after Paleolithic period.
  • Neolithic age precedes Bronze age civilizations. (About 5500BC)
  • Neolithic Era represents the earliest evidence of settled cultures in human civilization.
  • In the Indian context, the Neolithic agriculture based regions can be divided into four groups
  1. The Indus system and its western borderland
  2. Ganga valley
  3. Western India and the northern Deccan
  4. Southern Deccan.
  • Neolithic cultures were primarily based on agriculture and animal domestication.
  • Neolithic people were the earliest pastoral community.
  • The earliest evidence for Neolithic culture based on agricultural economy comes from the north-western part of the Indo-Pakistan region in the Quetta valley and in the Valleys of Loralai and Zob rivers dating between 7000-5000 B.C.
  • In around 7000 BC the habitations appeared and in about 6000 BCearthen pots and pans came in use.
  • This period saw square or rectangular houses made of mudbricks making up the first settled village life.
  • By about 3,000 B.C. Neolithic culture was a widespread phenomenon and covered a large part of the Indian subcontinent.

 

Neolithic Civilization of Southern India

  • The southern Neolithic Age is dated between 2600 and 800 B.C almost contemporary with the Harappan culture.
  • Important sites in southern India include Kodekal, Utnur, Nagatjunikonda and Palavoy in Andhra Pradesh, Tekkalkolta, Maski, T. Narsipur, Sangankallu, Hallur and Brahmagiri in
  • Karnataka and Paiyampalli in Tamil Nadu.
  • The early phase is devoid of metal tools.
  • In the 2nd phase tools of copper and bronze are found in limited quantity.
  • People domesticated cattle, sheep and goat and practised agriculture.
  • Pottery both handmade and wheel-made variety was used.

 

What are petroglyphs?

  • While pictographs are painting and drawings on the rock walls, Petroglyphs are images carved into rock.
  • Bhimbetka is the oldest known rock cave in India which is about 1,00,000 years old.
  • The pictographs of Bhimbetka are about 30000 years old.
  • The laterite rocks in the Konkan region are about 10000 years old.
  • Thus it can be concluded that the petroglyphs found are mostly from Neolithic age.

 

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Section : History & Culture

 

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