SPR 2022 | Society Current Affairs Compilation for Prelims 2022

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Table of Contents

Women Safety:

Tuberculosis and its Impact on Indian Women

Context:

  • As India steadily navigates its way through the pandemic to safer shores, we must bring to light a disease that has plagued our country for years, disproportionately affecting women – tuberculosis.  

Statistics of TB in India:

  • In 2020, approximately 1.5 million people died from tuberculosis. In India, the TB case fatality rate increased from 17% in 2019 to 20% in 2020.
  • According to a joint report (2010-13) by the Registrar General of India and the Centre for Global Health Research, tuberculosis was the fifth-leading cause of death among women in India, accounting for nearly 5% of fatalities in women aged 30–69.
  • While both men and women are affected by this debilitating disease, women patients pay a much higher socioeconomic price.
  • Women bear the consequences of tuberculosis beyond the clinical metrics, from social exclusion and a lack of family support to a negative impact on marital prospects.
  • When it comes to health-seeking behaviour, stigma also acts as a strong deterrent.
  • As a result, fewer women are included in the available TB care cascade.

Steps taken by the government:

  • Gender-responsive policy interventions: The Ministry of Women and Child Development organised a parliamentary conference on 'Women Winning Against TB' in December 2021, where gender-responsive policy interventions were discussed.
  • The Central TB Division of the Health Ministry developed a national framework for a gender-responsive approach to tuberculosis in India in 2019. The document recognises the barriers that women face in getting treatment and offers practical solutions.

Other measures that can be taken:

  • Increase Awareness: Elected officials, must work together more to bring attention to the issue in all relevant forums and spaces.
  • Boost accurate TB messaging: At the community level, we must amplify accurate TB messaging and demonstrate how gender influences the course of action on the ground.
  • Strengthen Counselling: Build the capacity of healthcare workers to educate the patient's family about the importance of providing her with a supportive environment during her treatment, regardless of where she seeks care – public or private sector.
  • These meetings will see an increase in the number of women leaders from all walks of life in the community.
  • In the last few years, the government has effectively provided a monthly benefit of Rs 500 to enable TB patients to eat a nutritious diet through the Nikshay Poshan Yojana.

Way Ahead

  • These are universal issues that must be addressed regardless of gender. We will be able to realise the dream of TB-Mukt Bharat only if equitable solutions are provided to vulnerable sections of society.

Maternal Mortality in India

Context:

  • Kerala's MMR has decreased by 12 points, according to the latest Sample Registration System (SRS) special bulletin on maternal mortality in India (2017-19) published by the Registrar General of India. The State's MMR was 42 in the last SRS bulletin (2015-17). (Later adjusting it to 43).  

India and Maternal Mortality Rate:

  • India's MMR has dropped by ten points. From 113 in 2016-18 to 103 in 2017-19, it has decreased (8.8 percent decline).
  • India was on track to meet the National Health Policy (NHP) goal of 100 lakh live births by 2020 and was on track to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals target of 70 lakh live births by 2030.
  • The MMR is higher in most of India's neighbours, including Nepal (186), Bangladesh (173), and Pakistan (140). China and Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are far ahead, with MMRs of 18.3 and 36, respectively
  • The MMR had been steadily decreasing in the country, from 130 in 2014-2016 to 122 in 2015-17, 113 in 2016-18, and 103 in 2017-19.
  • Maternal mortality is extremely high in seven Indian states. Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Odisha, and Assam are the states in question.
  • MMR has increased Sn West Bengal, Haryana, Uttarakhand, and Chhattisgarh since the last survey.

Steps to be taken to reduce MMR:

  • Early intervention and prevention should be implemented: To protect against childhood and adolescent health problems, as well as pregnancy complications, through early detection and treatment. and deliver in a clean and safe manner.
  • It is critical to enlist the help of an obstetrician, a midwife, and paramedical staff to identify and treat any pregnancy complications.
  • To involve the government, NGOs, and IMA in a public awareness campaign about reproductive health care and the harmful effects of drugs, smoking, and alcohol in schools, colleges, and religious settings.
  • To enlist the help of health-care professionals to conduct community studies, household surveys, and other measurements, as well as reproductive-age mortality surveys.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA) provides a fixed day for pregnant women to receive free, comprehensive, and high-quality antenatal care.
  • Guidelines for the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana and LaQshya.

Women Labour Force Participation and Social Stigma

Context:

  • India's female labour force participation rate (LFPR) is now among the lowest in the world, at around 20%, comparable to Saudi Arabia. 
  • According to the International Labour Organization, India ranks 121st out of 131 countries in terms of female labour force participation rate. This data is pre-pandemic, so the ratio could have gotten worse.

Indian Women Participation:

  • Over a 16-year period, India's female LFPR has dropped by more than 20 percentage points. The all-India LFPR for women over the age of 15 was 42.7 per cent in 2004-5, according to the Usual Principal Subsidiary Status definition. It had dropped to 32.7 per cent by 2009-10.
  • This is supported by a recent Pew Research Center poll, which found that 82 per cent of men and 77 per cent of women believe that when jobs are scarce, men should have more rights to jobs than women.

Causes for Low Women Participation:

  • Gender stereotypes: Women have traditionally been assigned to the role of managing household activities. Women should be encouraged to break free from stereotypical roles and participate in the country's decision-making process.
  • Lack of Opportunities: With a decrease in the availability of farm jobs and a lack of economic opportunities in non-farm employment, the problem of 'labour demand constraints,' or a lack of suitable job opportunities, is acute for women in rural India.
  • Unpaid work: According to a 2018 study, the amount of time women spend on unpaid economic activities in the home and community is one of the key determinants of the FLFPR.
  • Education and employment for women have a U-shaped relationship, according to data from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) (a rise and subsequent decline in employment with the rise in education levels).
  • According to TeamLease, this piece of legislation alone will result in the loss of 1.8 million female jobs.
  • Other factors such as poor sanitation, sexual harassment at work, unsafe travel, inadequate childcare facilities, and elderly care homes, among others, have discouraged women from working in the industries.
  • This exclusion and discrimination is reflected in India's low female labour force participation rate, which fell to 22.3 percent in 2021 from 30.3 percent in 1990.

Way Ahead:

  • Policymakers in India and throughout the region should take a holistic approach to improving women's labour market outcomes by increasing access to and relevance of education and training programmes, skills development, child care access, maternity protection, and the provision of safe and accessible transportation, as well as promoting a growth pattern that creates job opportunities.
  • In the industrial and service sectors, there is a need to create education-based jobs in rural areas.
  • Self-help groups are extremely relevant today because their provision of micro-loans helps to overcome regional imbalances as well as information gaps, allowing women to compete on an equal footing in terms of resource access.
  • By leveraging SHGs like MAVIM and other relevant stakeholders, initiatives like the EdelGive Foundation's UdyamStree campaign, for example, have focused on women entrepreneurs in Maharashtra and Rajasthan, among other states.
  • Pragati, a Facebook initiative, and Women Will, a Google initiative, among others, have helped to level the playing field for female entrepreneurs.

Gender Equality in India

Context:

  • According to a Pew Research Center survey, Despite the fact that eight out of ten Indians believe that gender equality is “extremely important,” 80% of those polled believe that when jobs are scarce, men deserve stronger employment rights than women.

Other important details from the Report:

  • Furthermore, despite the fact that the vast majority of Indians believe that having both sons and daughters is very essential, four out of ten Indians accept sex-selective abortions, which are banned in the country.
  • Nearly 40% of people felt it was “totally okay” or “somewhat acceptable” to “have a checkup using current procedures, to balance the number of girls and boys in the family,” a euphemism for sex-selective abortion. 
  • 42%, on the other hand, said this approach was “absolutely undesirable.”

Traditional Views of Indians on Gender:

  • “A wife must always obey her husband,” said nearly nine out of ten Indians (87%) entirely or partially. A vast majority of Indians (64%) “absolutely agreed” with this sentiment.
  • While 54% of respondents believe that both men and women in households should be responsible for generating money, over 43% still believe that this is primarily a male responsibility.
  • Sons should be in charge of funeral rights, according to a majority of Muslims (74%), Jains (67%), and Hindus (63%), but much fewer Sikhs (29%), Christians (44%), and Buddhists (46%).
  • A global median of 70% of respondents from 47 countries and territories believe it is critical for women to have the same rights as men. These findings were similar to the proportion of Indians who believe that gender equality is very essential (72%).
  • Indians are among the most likely to believe that the husband should provide for the family while the wife looks after the home and children.

Way ahead:

  • More coordinated efforts at the municipal, national, and private sector levels are needed to bring women to parity with males if India is to continue its position as a global growth leader.
  • While boosting women's participation in public spheres is crucial and can theoretically be achieved through affirmative action, an attitudinal shift is required for women to be treated equally in their homes and in society.

Kanya Shikhsa Pravesh Utsav

Context:

  • On International Women’s Day, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD) launched a landmark campaign Kanya Shikhsa Pravesh Utsav.

About:

  • Launched by the Women and Child Development Ministry in partnership with the Education Ministry and UNICEF.
  • This scheme will fulfil the target of the Right To Education act that says to bring out-of-school girls back into the education system.

Umbrella Initiative: 

  • The campaign has been rolled out under the umbrella of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao(BBBP) Initiative.

Key Features of the campaign:

  • Under the campaign, over 400 districts across all states will be funded under Beti
  • Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme for outreach and awareness generation at the grassroots level to sensitize communities and families to enrol adolescents girls in schools. This funding will be over and above the funding from Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan.
  • Moreover, Anganwadi workers(AWWs) will also be further incentivised for counselling and referring out of school adolescent girls.
  • Significance of the campaign: The campaign intends to build on the existing schemes and programmes like
  • Schemes for Adolescent Girls (SAG), Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) and National Education Policy (NEP) to work on a comprehensive system for out of school girls.

Women’s Day 2022:

  • Celebrated every year around the world on March 8.
  • The theme for International Women’s Day, 2022 (IWD 2022) is ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.
  • IWD 2022 campaign theme is ‘#BreakTheBias’: It intends to promote a “gender equal world”, which is “free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination”. “A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive”, and where “difference is valued and celebrated”.
  • History and significance: IWD has been celebrated for over a century now, but many people think of it purely as a feminist cause. Its roots, however, are found in the labour movement, wherein it was first organised in 1911 by the early 20th century Marxist from Germany Clara Zetkin.

What colours symbolize International Women’s Day?

  • Purple, green and white are the colours of International Women’s Day.
  • Purple signifies justice and dignity.
  • Green symbolizes hope.
  • White represents purity, albeit a controversial concept.
  • The colours originated from the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the UK in 1908.

Stree Manoraksha project

Context:

  • During International Women’s Day week, Union Minister for Women and Child Development has launched the “Stree Manoraksha project”.

Launched by: 

  • National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, with support and funding from the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • The project is aimed at extending mental health training to 6000 OSC functionaries across India.
  • The project would emphasise on psychosocial well-being and aim to improve the mental health of women in India.
  • The project would focus on building on capacity building of OSC (One Stop Centres) functionaries on the tools and techniques as to how to handle the cases of women approaching OSC, particularly the women who have suffered violence and distress with due sensitivity and care.
  • The project also focuses on self-care techniques for OSC staff and counsellors.

Imparted in two formats:

  • One format will focus on basic training for all OSC functionaries including the security guards, cooks, helpers, caseworkers, counsellors, centre administrators, paramedical staff etc.
  • The second format will emphasise the advanced course which focuses on varied components relating to multi-generational implications and lifetime trauma in case of several violence against women.
  • In this regard, MWCD has launched the advance certificate course for OSC Councilors and also released the resource material for the capacity building of OSC Staff.

Nagaland and Women Reservation

  • Reservation for Women in representative bodies is considered as one of the tool to ensure the empowerment of women and in enabling gender-inclusive policies.
  • Reservation for women in local bodies obtained constitutional backing through 73rd & 74th constitutional amendment act of 1992 and has been the cornerstone for grassroots empowerment of women.

Nagaland and Women Reservation in Urban Local Bodies:

  • The civic body elections were first held in the state in 2004, in accordance with the Nagaland Municipal Act of 2001.
  • In 2006, the Nagaland Municipal Act of 2001 was amended to include a 33% reservation for women in line with the 1992 Constitutional amendment.
  • Since then there have been protests as many Naga groups contend that the reservations are in contravention with Naga customary laws as enshrined in Article 371(A) of the Constitution.
  • Nagaland assembly, in 2012, adopted a resolution rejecting women’s reservation in ULBs.
  • Supreme Court in 2017 gave a directive to the state to hold the elections with 33% reservation for women.
  • The state assembly revoked its 2012 resolution and agreed to hold elections.
  • However, when the government tried to implement the directive, it was met with violent protests that led to two deaths.
  • The contention around the polls led the Nagaland government in December 2009 to indefinitely postpone municipal elections, which were due in 2010.
  • Article 371(A) accords Nagaland state special status and protects its traditional way of life.

Analysis of the issue:

  • There is a clash between the customary way of life and the value of gender equality propounded by the Constitution.
  • Women should be given equal positions and privileges. They cannot be denied their rights under the garb of traditions & Customs.
  • Frequent postponing of elections on the grounds of law & order shows the State government is not serious about implementing the SC directive
  • Further delaying would have led to contempt of the Supreme Court directive, thus leading to class between Judiciary & state government.

Democratic actions eventually yielded results:

  • Tribal women’s groups in Nagaland, formed the Joint Action Committee on Women Reservation (JACWR) and pressed for their rights through petitions in Courts & spreading awareness.
  • Women’s groups like the Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA) fought a long legal battle in High Court & Supreme Court for elections to be held.
  • Finally, in March 2022, the state government convened a meeting with all stakeholders, including civil society organisations, churches, tribal bodies, political parties and NGOs and “unanimously” adopted a resolution to hold ULB polls. The same was communicated to Supreme Court.
  • The Naga Hoho, the apex tribal body of the state, said that there was no more “opposition

Marital Rape

  • Even in 21st century, after multiple feminist movements, women continue to be subjected to the subordination of men. It is ironical that in India where women are worshipped as goddess, the legal system pertaining to rape has not yet recognised Marital rape.
  • Marital rape is the act of forcing your spouse into having sex without proper consent.

Legal Provision that provides an exception to Marital Rape:

  • According to Section 375 (the definition of rape) of IPC, sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife (provided she is over the age of 18) would not amount to the offence of rape. 
  • Therefore, rape by a husband on his wife is legally protected (as it is not recognised at all)

Roots of the principle:

  • The exception to marital rape in common law was due to the dictum by Chief Justice Matthew Hale of Britain in 1736
  • He states that by marriage, a woman gave up her body to the husband due to which a husband could not be guilty of raping his wife. This was therefore translated into criminal codes.
  • The government has been reluctant to recognise & criminalise marital rape because of following reasons
    • Recognising it destroys the institution of marriage. This was the government’s defence in Independent Thought v. Union of India (2017)
    • Since marriage is a sexual relationship, determining the validity of marital rape allegations would be difficult.
    • Earlier the age prescribed in Section 375 was 15 years. As a result, forced sexual intercourse by a husband with a minor wife between the ages of 15 and 18 was permitted.
    • This was rectified in Independent Thought v. Union of India (2017) where it held that forced sexual intercourse of a husband with his minor wife (below 18 years) is considered as rape.

Court’s role in recognising Marital Rape:

  • The judgment in Independent Thought v. Union of India, 2017 (recognised rape of married minor wife below 18 years) was a small step towards striking down the legalisation of marital rape.
  • In Joseph Shine v. Union of India (2018), SC held that the offence of adultery was unconstitutional because it was founded on the principle that a woman is her husband’s property after marriage. However, similar principle is not applied while recognising marital rape.
  • Recently, Karnataka High Court on March 23, 2022, in the case of Hrishikesh Sahoo vs State of Karnataka, pronounced the end of the marital rape exception.
  • Supreme Court is of the opinion that marital rape has to be criminalised through legislative action rather than judicial pronouncements. It had therefore put the onus on Parliament all these years. However, with rising Civic activism & women’s voices, there is increased pressure on both Parliament & judiciary to criminalise Marital rape.
  • Reasoning is given by Karnataka High Court while striking down the exception provided under Section 375 for marital rape.
  • If a man, being a husband is exempted for his acts of sexual assault, it would destroy women’s right to equality, which is the very soul of the Constitution.
  • An exception to marital rape in the IPC amounts to discrimination because a wife is treated as subordinate to the husband.
  • The Constitution considers marriage as an association of equals and does not in any sense depict women to be subordinate to men.
  • It held that Marital rape violates the fundamental rights of women. It includes rights under Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21 the right to live with dignity, personal liberty, bodily integrity, sexual autonomy, right to reproductive choices, right to privacy, right to freedom of speech and expression.
  • The judgement read “a man is a man; an act is an act; rape is a rape, be it performed by a man the “husband” on the woman “wife”.
  • Section 375 (Exception) of IPC is inconsistent with and violative of these principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women
  • Today, it has been impeached in more than 100 countries but, unfortunately, India is one of the only 36 countries where marital rape is still not criminalized
  • Rape is rape, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator, and the age of the survivor. A woman who is raped by a stranger lives with a memory of a horrible attack; a woman who is raped by her husband lives with her rapist. Therefore, it is high time that India recognises & criminalises Marital rape either through the Judicial or legislative route.

Peter Pan Syndrome (PPS)

  • Context: 
    • Recently, a special court in Mumbai granted bail to an accused of sexually assaulting a minor as he was suffering from Peter Pan Syndrome (PPS).
    • A syndrome is a combination of symptoms and signs that together represent a disease process.
  • About:
    • PPS is a psychological condition that is used to describe an adult who is socially immature.
    • People who develop similar behaviours of living life carefree, finding responsibilities challenging in adulthood, and basically never growing up suffer from PPS.
    • The term was coined by psychologist Dan Kiley to explain the behaviour of such men who ‘refuse to grow’ and behave their age in 1983.
    • Dan Kiley got the idea of PPS after noticing Peter Pan, a fictional character created by Scottish novelist James Matthew Barrie.
    • Peter Pan was a carefree young boy, who never grew up.
    • While the WHO (World Health Organization) does not recognise Peter Pan Syndrome as a health disorder, many experts believe it is a mental health condition that can affect one’s quality of life.
  • People Affected:
    • It can affect anyone, irrespective of gender, race or culture. However, it appears to be more common among men.
    • It affects people who do not want or feel unable to grow up, people with the body of an adult but the mind of a child.
    • They don’t know how to or don’t want to stop being children and start being mothers or fathers.
    • It is not currently considered psychopathology. However, a large number of adults are presenting emotionally immature behaviours in Western society.
    • Psychopathology is a term that refers to either the study of mental illness or mental distress or the manifestation of behaviours and experiences which may be indicative of mental illness or psychological impairment.

Gender Self-Identification 

Context: 

  • The Spanish government has approved the first draft of a bill that would allow anyone over the age of 14 to legally change gender without a medical diagnosis or hormone therapy. 

What is gender self-identification? 

  • Self-identification, or ‘self-made, is the concept that a person should be allowed to legally identify with the gender of their choice by simply declaring so, and without facing any medical tests.
  • This has been a long-held demand of trans-right groups around the world, including in India, as prejudice against trans people remains rampant.
  • While some believe that the current processes for declaring one’s desired gender are lengthy, expensive, and degrading, some feminist and gay-rights groups insist that such a law could endanger women and cause more gay teenagers to be told that they might be trans and thus encouraged towards hormones and surgery.
  • Feminist forums that believe that sex is not something which can be chosen have insisted that allowing self-identification could put at risk all laws that specifically prevent discrimination against women, and have instead asked lawmakers to look at concerns that they say are more pressing, such as the gender pay gap.

Where is self-ID legal? 

  • As per the advocacy group the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association(ILGA), 15 countries around the world recognize self-ID, including Denmark, Portugal, Norway, Malta, Argentina, Ireland, Luxembourg, Greece, Costa Rica, Mexico (only in Mexico City), Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Uruguay.
  • In Denmark, the law requires a six-month reflection period for formalizing gender change. In Portugal, changing one’s gender for the second time requires going to court. 

What is the process for declaring one’s desired sex in India? 

  • In India, the rights of transgender persons are governed by the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules,2020. Under the Rules, an application to declare gender is to be made to the District Magistrate. Parents can also make an application on behalf of their children.
  • As per the Rules, state governments have also been directed to constitute welfare boards for transgender persons to protect their rights and interests, and facilitate access to schemes and welfare measures framed by the Centre.

Tejaswini initiative

  • It is a women-centric safety initiative of the northwest district – Delhi.
  • The initiative aimed to reach out to women belonging to all strata of society and female senior citizens, and also to safeguard the rights and dignity of women and children.
  • The tasks and assignments are carried out by women beat staff.
  • It resulted in significant growth in terms of its reach and scope of work

Crimes Against Women

Context:

  • According to the National Commission for Women (NCW), there was a 46 percent increase in complaints of crimes against women in the first eight months of 2021 compared to the same time the previous year.

About:

  • The National Commission for Women (NCW) was established as a statutory organization in January 1992 under the National Commission for Women Act of 1990. Its purpose is to work toward achieving equality and equal involvement for women in all aspects of life.
  • The Supreme Court of India stated in October 2020 that crimes against women in India continue to be a never-ending cycle.

Which crime has the highest and lowest Number of Complaints?

  • Right to live with dignity >Domestic violence> Harassment of married women or dowry harassment> Outraging women's modesty or molestation> Rape and attempted rape>related to Cybercrimes

What is the state-wise distribution?

  • Haryana (995)> Maharashtra (10,084)> Uttar Pradesh (10,084)> Delhi (2,147)> Haryana (995)> Maharashtra (10,084)> Uttar Pradesh (10,084)> Delhi (2,974).

What is the definition of Violence against Women according to the United Nations?

  • “Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life,” according to the United Nations.
  • Women's violence is a social, economic, developmental, legal, educational, and human rights issue, as well as a physical and mental health concern.
  • Emerging data and stories from individuals on the front lines suggest that all sorts of violence against women and girls, notably domestic abuse, has increased since the start of Covid-19.

What are the causes of violence against women?

  • Gender inequality is a fundamental cause of violence against women, putting women in danger of a variety of forms of violence.
  • Non-retaliation, a lack of comprehensive laws protecting their rights, and ignorance of current statutes.
  • Women are also prone to domestic violence as a result of societal attitudes, stigma, and conditioning, which are the main causes of under-reporting of instances.

What is its impact on it?

  • Violence against women and girls has negative psychological, sexual, and reproductive health repercussions for women at all phases of their lives.
  • Early-life educational disadvantages, for example, are not just the principal impediment to universal schooling and the right to education for girls; they are also to blame for limiting access to higher education and even limiting women's employment chances.

What are the initiatives at the International Level?

  • The Spotlight Project: The European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) have launched a new multi-year worldwide initiative to end all kinds of violence against women and girls (VAWG).
  • It is so titled because it draws attention to this issue, bringing it to the forefront of efforts to achieve gender equality and women's empowerment.
  • The 25th day of November is celebrated as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
  • UN Women is a United Nations agency dedicated to promoting gender equality and women's empowerment.

What are the Constitutional and legislative frameworks taken by India?

Constitutional framework:

Fundamental Principles:

  • It ensures that all Indians have the right to equality (Article 14), that the state does not discriminate on the basis of gender (Article 15(1)), and that particular measures are made in favour of women (Article 15(3)).

Fundamental Responsibilities:

  • Article 51 assures that practices that are insulting to women's dignity are forbidden (A).

Framework for Legislation:

  • Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
  • Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
  • Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013
  • Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO), 2012

Fall of Fertility Rate and its challenges 

Context:

  • As the fertility rate falls below replacement, according to National Family Health Survey, new challenges such as increased dependency, rising healthcare, and social security needs will arise. India needs to take the necessary policy steps.

About:

  • Impact of this fall infertility on Demography.
  • With fewer births, the youth population will continue to decline. As the number of young people declines, the number of older people will outnumber the young.
  • India will need to rethink its approach to social security and make investments to ensure that the growing number of senior citizens have better access to healthcare, financial security, and social safety nets.

Challenges in Health:

  • India’s health policies and programmes have focused on family planning, maternal and child health, and communicable diseases.
  • This percentage is expected to rise in the near future, necessitating a significant policy shift toward the prevention and management of morbidities such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
  • However, due to their declining social and economic bargaining power, older adults are still at risk of food and nutrition insecurity; 6% of Indians over the age of 45 have experienced insufficient food in the home. With the growing number of older adults, this number is expected to rise.
  • Despite this, the number of noncommunicable diseases is already outnumbering infectious diseases as the population ages. According to the WHO, non-communicable diseases account for nearly 60% of all deaths in the country.

Increase Fiscal Costs:

  • A rising dependency ratio will be a fiscal challenge as the fertility rate declines. The dependency ratio in India increased from 5.4 in 1960 to 9.8 in 2020 and will reach more than 20.3 in 2050, as measured by the number of people aged 65 and up compared to the population aged 15 to 64.

Gender Issues:

  • Women's life expectancy is expected to be two years longer than men's at 65 years in the next three decades. According to UN estimates, women will account for 56% of India's population by 2050, when they reach the age of 80.
  • The average number of years spent in school among women between the ages of 40 and 45 is not encouraging. Many older women will be less empowered and more vulnerable to social insecurity as a result.

Rajasthan’s marriage registration Bill

  • Context
    • Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was passed recently by the Rajasthan Assembly.
    • The Bill was opposed by the opposition, civil societies, women’s organizations, and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
    • It was alleged to legitimize child marriage. 
  • Key Provisions of the Bill:
    • The Bill sought to amend Sections 5 and 8 of the Act, dealing with the appointment of Marriage Registration Officers and the duty of parties to a marriage to submit the memorandum for registration.
    • The amendment authorizes women above 18 years to provide information about their marriage on their own.
  • Implications of the move:
    • Compulsory registration of child marriage would legitimize it.
    • If passed, it would open the floodgates” for child marriage in the state and give “validation to what is a social evil”.

Lego to make gender-neutral toys

  • Context:
    • Toy manufacturer Lego has announced that it will work to remove gender bias from its products and ensure that children’s creative ambitions are not limited by stereotypes.
    • The announcement from Lego came after a survey found how gender biases were being reinforced through the creative play of children.
  • Need for such move:
    • Gender sensitization is the need of an hour. Children are being moulded into a particular mindset right from their childhood. 
    • Eg: there are certain toys which are meant to be used by girls or boys only. This further solidifies the idea of the gender divide and the differences between both genders.
    • Such a move will probably reduce this divide and change the narrative in society.

International Day of the Girl Child

  • Context:
    • International Day of the Girl Child has been observed recently with the theme for this year ‘With Her: A Skilled GirlForce.
    • The celebration of the day propounds the eventual emergence of girls as a distinct cohort in development policy.
  • About:
    • Aim:
      • International Day of the Girl is declared by United Nations and observed every year on the 11th of October. It aims:
        • To highlight the challenges of gender inequality that girls are facing in the present world. The inequality includes areas such as access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and access to employment.
        • To explore the needs of the girls and the means to address them.
        • To empower girls and fulfil their human rights.
  • Beijing Declaration:
    • The very first conference that identified and talked about the rights of girl children was the Beijing Declaration.
    • Held in 1995, at the World Conference on Women in Beijing, countries unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration.
    • and Platform for Action – known to be the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing the rights of not just women but girls too.

Raising the age of Marriage

Context:

  • The announcement of a cabinet decision to raise the age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years brings to completion a plan that was initially announced over two years ago when a Task Force led by former Samata Party chief Jaya Jaitly was formed to study the issue.  

Why is there a minimum age of marriage?

  • The law prescribes a minimum age of marriage to essentially outlaw child marriages and prevents the abuse of minors.
  • Personal laws of various religions that deal with marriage have their own standards, often reflecting custom.
  • For Hindus, The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 sets 18 years as the minimum age for the bride and 21 years as the minimum age for the groom. In Islam, the marriage of a minor who has attained puberty is considered valid.
  • The Special Marriage Act, of 1954 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, of 2006 also prescribe 18 and 21 years as the minimum age of consent for marriage for women and men, respectively. For the new age of marriage to be implemented, these laws are expected to be amended.

Why has the government decided to re-examine the age of marriage?

  • The government decided to re-examine the age of marriage for women for a number of reasons including gender neutrality.
  • The early age of marriage, and consequent early pregnancies, also have impacts on the nutritional levels of mothers and their children, and their overall health and mental wellbeing.
  • It also has an impact on the Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate, and the empowerment of women who are cut off from access to education and livelihood after an early marriage.
  • The recently released National Family Health Survey (NFHS) revealed that child marriage has come down marginally from 27 per cent in 2015-16 to 23 per cent in 2019-20 in the country, but the government has been pushing to bring this down further.

Jaya Jaitly committee:

  • In June 2020, the Ministry for Women and Child Development set up a task force to look into the correlation between the age of marriage with issues of women’s nutrition, the prevalence of anaemia, IMR, MMR and other social indices.
  • The committee, headed by former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly, also had on board NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V K Paul and secretaries of several ministries.
  • The committee was to look at the feasibility of increasing the age of marriage and its implication on women and child health, as well as how to increase access to education for women. The committee was to also recommend a timeline by which the government could roll out the implementation of the policy, as well as the amendments that would need to be made in existing laws in order for this to happen.

Committee recommendations:

  • The committee has recommended the age of marriage be increased to 21 years, on the basis of feedback they received from young adults from 16 universities across the country. Over 15 NGOs were also engaged to reach out to young adults in far-flung areas and marginalised communities.
  • Committee members have said that feedback has been taken from youth belonging to all religions, as well as from rural and urban areas equally.
  • The committee also asked the government to look into increasing access to schools and colleges for girls, including their transportation to these institutes from far-flung areas. Skill and business training has also been recommended, as has sex education in schools.
  • The committee said these deliveries must come first, as, unless they are implemented and women are empowered, the law will not be as effective.
  • The committee has further recommended that an awareness campaign be undertaken on a massive scale on the increase in age of marriage, and to encourage social acceptance of the new legislation, which they have said would be far more effective than coercive measures.

Issues with this decision:

  • Women’s rights are jeopardised: raising the marriage age to 21 years would mean that girls would have no control in their personal affairs until they are 21. Example Hadiya case
  • Existing laws are ineffective: The decrease in child marriages is due to an increase in girls' education and career options, not to the existing legislation.
  • Unnecessary coercion: The law would be coercive, and it would disproportionately affect underprivileged communities like the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, rendering them lawbreakers.
  • Lack of Education is a More Serious Issue: In India, according to the UNFPA's State of the World Report 2020, 51% of young women with no education and 47% of those with only primary education had married by the age of 18.
  • Criminalization of a Large Number of Marriages: The change will deprive the great majority of Indian women who marry before the age of 21 of the legal protections that marriage affords, and their families will be criminalised.
  • Our society is full of complex paradoxes like this. Rather than criminalising our youth, the government needs to take actual actions to empower women. They will be able to make better judgments about when, when, and whom to marry if they are actually in charge of their own life – through inexpensive education and meaningful and respectable career prospects.

Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care, and Rehabilitation) Bill 2021

Context:

  • Indian Leadership Forum Against Trafficking (ILFAT) has written to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, pointing out gaps in the draft bill of Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care, and Rehabilitation) Bill 2021, which is set to be tabled in the parliament during the Winter session.

What are the problems with the bill?

  • The bill provides survivors rehabilitation but fails to provide assistance beyond shelter homes.
  • The bill appeared to combine sex work, migration, with human trafficking.
  • The Bill has been criticized for addressing human trafficking from a criminal law perspective instead of a human-rights and victim-centred approach.
  • It was also criticized for promoting police “rescue raids” and institutionalising victims in the name of rehabilitation.
  • It was pointed out that certain vague provisions would lead to the criminalization of activities that are unrelated to human trafficking.

What are the provisions mentioned in the new bill?

  • It applies to all citizens, whether inside or outside of India.
  • Persons on any ship or aircraft which is registered in India, wherever it may be or carrying Indian citizens, wherever they may be.
  • A foreign national or stateless person living in India at the time of the commission of an offence under this Act, and
  • Every offence of human trafficking with cross-border implications shall be covered by the law.

Victims Included:

  • It now includes transgender persons extending beyond children as victims, in addition to anyone who may be a victim of human trafficking.
  • It also eliminates the provision that a victim is transported from one place to another in order to be considered a victim.

'Exploitation':

  • Other types of sexual exploitation, such as pornography, any act of physical exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practises similar to slavery, servitude or forced organ removal, illegal clinical drug trials, or illegal bio-medical research.

Government officers as offenders:

  • Defence personnel and government servants, doctors and paramedical professionals, and anyone in a position of power will all be considered offenders.

Penalty:

  • In most cases of child trafficking, a minimum sentence of seven years, with a maximum sentence of ten years and a fine of Rs five lakh is imposed.
  • If more than one child is trafficked, the penalty is now life imprisonment.

Status of Human Trafficking in India

  • According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there were 6,616 human trafficking cases reported in the country in 2019, up from 5,788 in 2018 and 5,900 in 2017.
  • Children account for over a third of all human trafficking victims globally, with the situation for children in India being more disturbing.
  • According to NCRB data from 2018, children make up 51% of all trafficking victims, with more than 80% of them being girls.
  • Children who have recently been orphaned in India as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak face an increased risk of trafficking under the garb of adoption, employment, or livelihood, and shelter.
  • Legislations prohibiting HumanTrafficking:
  • The Indian constitution prohibits human trafficking and forced labour under Article 23 (1).
  • Trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation is punishable under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act of 1956 (ITPA).
  • The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976, the Child Labour (Prohibition and Abolition) Act 1986, and the Juvenile Justice Act also prohibit bonded and forced labour in India.
  • Kidnapping and selling minors into prostitution are prohibited by sections 366(A) and 372 of the Indian Penal Code respectively.
  • Apart from that, the Factories Act of 1948 guaranteed that workers' rights were protected.

Marital Rape

Context:

  • In 2005-06, the National Family Health Survey discovered that 93% of the 80,000 women polled said their current or former husbands had sexually abused them.
  • The Delhi High Court recently received a slew of petitions seeking to make marital rape a crime.

About Marital Rape:

  • Marital rape (also known as spousal rape) is when one spouse engages in sexual activity without the consent of the other.
  • In India, rape persists because of the patriarchal mindset that women are the property of men after marriage, with no autonomy or agency over their bodies.
  • They deny married women equal protection under the Indian constitution's laws.
  • IPC Section 375 defines rape and lists seven notions of consent that, if vitiated, would constitute the offence of rape by a man. The crucial exemption: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under eighteen years of age, is not rape.”
  • This exemption essentially allows a marital right to a “husband”, who can with legal sanction exercise his right to consensual or non-consensual sex with his “wife”. This exemption is being challenged as unconstitutional as it undermines the consent of a woman based on her marital status.

The legality of Marital Rape in India:

  • More than 100 countries have criminalised marital rape today, but India is one of only 36 countries where the crime remains unpunished.
  • According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) from 2015-16, 99.1% of sexual assault cases go unreported, and the average Indian woman is 17 times more likely to face sexual violence from her husband than from others.

What are the difficulties in criminalising marital rape?

  • Threat to Women: It will exacerbate the threat to a woman's life posed by her husband and in-laws. Any attempt to oppose them may result in more atrocities and an assassination attempt on her life.
  • Patriarchal Beliefs: The marital rape exception is an affront to the constitutional goals of individual autonomy, dignity, and gender equality enshrined in fundamental rights such as Article 21 (the right to life) and Article 14 (the right to equal protection under the law) (the right to equality).
  • Eye witness: There are issues because these crimes are committed in an area where there are no eyewitnesses. However, this is also true for other crimes such as rape and POCSO.

Recommendation of the Justice J. S. Verma Committee:

  • While some of its recommendations influenced the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2013, its most radical recommendations, such as those on marital rape, were ignored.
  • Marriage is regarded as a sacred institution, so most husbands receive protection in the name of marriage.

Government’s View:

  • Distancing Effect on Marriage Institution: Until now, the government has repeatedly stated that criminalising marital rape will endanger the institution of marriage and infringe on the right to privacy.
  • Abuse of Legal Provisions: There is growing abuse of Section 498A of the IPC (harassment of a married woman by her husband and in-laws) and the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Cyber Crime Against Women

Context:

  • The online 'sale' of 100 or so Muslim women on a GitHub app is shocking and outrageous. Last year, a similar app staged an 'auction' of community women using language that dehumanised them into 'deals of the day.'
  • Sulli Deals, a website with profiles of around 80 Muslim women, was launched in July of last year, describing them as “deals of the day.”

About Cybercrime:

  • Cybercrime is a global phenomenon, and with the advancement of technology, women's victimisation and cybercrime are on the rise, posing a serious threat to their safety.
  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), only 251 cases of defamation or morphing of women's photos and 354 cases of their fake profiles were reported under the Indian Penal Code, IT Act, and Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act in “Crime in India 2020.”
  • According to NCRB statistics, India's total cybercrimes in 2020 were 50,035, with only 10,405 specifically targeting women. These figures only scratch the surface of the situation.

Different types of Cybercrimes:

  • Cyberstalking is one of the most talked-about internet crimes in today's world, and it entails following a person's online movements.
  • Email harassment is similar to letter harassment in that it includes blackmailing, threatening, bullying, and even cheating via email.
  • Cyberbullying is the intentional and repeated infliction of harm through the use of computers by sending intimidating or threatening messages.
  • Morphing: This is the process of an unauthorised user editing an original photograph. It has been observed that photographs of women are downloaded from websites by fake users and then re-posted on different websites by creating fake profiles after being edited.
  • Email spoofing: A spoofed email is one that misinterprets its origin, making it appear as if it came from somewhere other than where it actually came from.
  • Cyber defamation: Another common crime against women on the internet is cyber tort, which includes libel and defamation.
  • Trolling and gender bullying: On the internet, women are targeted; troll posts are primarily related to provocative postings intended to elicit a large number of frivolous responses.
  • The increased use of cyberstalking as a form of harassment is due to the availability of free email and website space, as well as the anonymity provided by chat rooms and forums.
  • India ranks third in the world, behind China and Singapore, in terms of cyberbullying, and the number of suicides linked to cyberbullying has increased over the last decade.

Gender stereotyping in India

Context:

  • Parochialism is characterised by a lack of regard for and knowledge of cultures other than one’s own. A patriarchal society, mired in its own history, is frequently responsible for the barriers it sets up in the way of women exercising their inherent freedom of choices.

Gender stereotyping:

  • Glass ceiling: In corporate India, there have been enough debates about glass ceilings for women to climb up the corporate ladder.
  • -Women are thought to be soft-spoken, more caring, and to have maternal instincts. This “Emotional Quotient” is designed to prepare them for careers as artists, teachers, doctors, nurses, and other professionals.
  • Institution of Marriage: For example, It is believed that a young woman who was compelled (apparently willingly) to serve her husband’s family rather than assist her husband in running the family business, as she desired.
  • Not valuing household work: Housework is nearly always believed to be done by the lady, and it is not uncommon for society to rejoice when a man does it.
  • Even in the domain of entrepreneurship, most women encounter scepticism from society at large and even family members that being an entrepreneur is an insecure pursuit.
  • The Supreme Court of India directed the National Defence Academy must admit women to its programmes, offering them the same opportunity as males to join the armed forces from the Academy.
  • In 2020, India is placed 108th out of 153 nations in the global gender inequality index, up from 130th out of 155 countries in 2015.
  • India has achieved gender parity in primary school enrollment and increased female literacy from 54% in 2001 to 66% (2011).

Covid and Woman Workforce:

  • Covid Widows: Thousands of individuals have died as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on economies all across the world. Unfortunately, more males have died, leaving a large number of Covid widows.
  • Most of them would never have worked a single day in a formal workforce to make a living and will now be compelled to become the family’s major breadwinner.
  • In many cases, the properties are recorded in the name of a male family member, and most women are unaware of the legal nuances of succession and property rights, making it difficult for them to battle for what is really theirs.
  • Necessary educational qualification, employability skillsets, familial &/or social acceptance in our already cocooned parochial society, is the need of the hour.

Health:

National Medical Commission (NMC)

Context:

  • Recently, the National Medical Commission (NMC) has released draft guidelines for the national register of doctors after the licentiate exam.

About:

  • The draft guidelines are on how the doctors will be registered in order to practice medicine.
  • At present, Indian students do not have to sit for a licentiate exam after MBBS to get registered in their respective state medical councils. 
  • However, foreign medical graduates have to pass the screening test conducted by National Board of Examinations in Medical Sciences to be registered.

Guidelines: 

Three draft regulations:

  • License to Practice Medicine, 2022; 
  • Registration of Additional Qualifications, 2022; and 
  • Temporary Registration of Foreign Medical Practitioners to Practice Medicine in India.

Working: 

  • The guidelines provide a framework for creating a dynamic national medical register.
  • It will have a unique ID assigned to each student who qualifies NEET, with professional qualifications such as post-graduation and super-speciality training being added to the same ID.

Open to foreigners: 

  • The registration is open for foreign doctors who want to come to India to study in post-graduation courses, fellowships, clinical research, or voluntary clinical services. 

Change in Permission: 

  • Until now foreign experts were being granted “permission” by the Health Ministry. 
  • Now, the NMC will grant a temporary registration to such doctors that will end with the duration of the programme. 
  • The maximum duration of such a temporary registration will be 12 months.

Registration Process:

Indian: Indian medical graduates would be eligible for registration in the National Medical Register after:

  • Completion of MBBS degree from a recognised college, 
  • Completion of year-long mandatory internship, and Pass the National Exit Test (NExT). 
  • Foreign: Foreign medical graduates can be registered after: Completed education in a country other than India, 
  • Are registerable as doctors in the said country, 
  • Have completed a year-long internship in India, and 
  • Have passed the NExT exam.

A new portal for all documents:

  • At present, every state maintains its own medical register, which is then sent to NMC for a consolidated country-wide register.
  • After a unique ID is created, a portal will be thrown open to all recognised institutes in India who can upload all verified documents of their students to it. 

National Exit Test(NExT) Exam

NExT was introduced in the NMC Bill in 2019 with the objective of replacing PG-NEET.

Purposes:

  • It will act as a passing examination for the final MBBS examination. 
  • It will act as a qualifying examination to grant the license to practice modern medicine in India for Indian as well as foreign medical graduates. 
  • It will serve as a competitive test that will form the basis for admission to the postgraduate (PG) broad-speciality courses in the medical institutions of India.

Primary Intent:

  • To ensure uniformity in the level of training in MBBS course (more so in private medical colleges), 
  • Quality control for medical graduates from foreign medical colleges intending to practise in India, and 
  • Abolishing the need to take multiple entrance examinations and/or multiple counselling processes for admission in PG courses.

Written + practical exam: 

  • It will not be a theory paper, like MBBS finals or NEET PG test. Instead, It will be held in two parts – one written and one practical exam where the students will be judged on their clinical acumen.

Significance:

Level playing field:

  • The new entrance test for Post Graduation, NExT, will level the playing field for both Indian and foreign nationals. 

One portal: 

  • This will make the registration process easier.

Register-based on real-time: 

  • Since the register will keep getting updates as and when the doctors pursue specialisations or any other courses, it can be shared with various authorities to check the qualifications of people they wish to hire.

Open registration to foreign doctors: 

  • The guidelines open the registration to foreign doctors who want to come to India to study in post-graduation courses, fellowships, clinical research, or voluntary clinical services.

WHO and Traditional Medicine 

Context:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, will perform the groundbreaking ceremony for the first-of-its-kind WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) in Jamnagar, Gujarat.

What is traditional medicine?

  • The WHO describes traditional medicine as the total sum of the “knowledge, skills and practices indigenous and different cultures have used over time to maintain health and prevent, diagnose and treat physical and mental illness”. 
  • Its reach encompasses ancient practices such as acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine and herbal mixtures as well as modern medicines.
  • Traditional medicine in India is often defined as including practices and therapies — such as yoga, Ayurveda, and Siddha — that have been part of Indian tradition historically, as well as others — such as homoeopathy — that became part of Indian tradition over the years.

What will the GCTM be about?

  • On November 3, 2020, WHO Director-General announced the establishment of the WHO GCTM in India. 
  • The Union Cabinet in March 2022 approved its establishment in Jamnagar with the signing of a host country agreement between the Government of India and the WHO. 
  • India has committed an estimated $250 million to support the GCTM’s establishment, infrastructure and operations.
  • The GCTM will aim to focus on evidence-based research, innovation, and data analysis to optimise the contribution of traditional medicine to global health. 
  • Its main focus will to develop norms, standards and guidelines in technical areas relating to traditional medicine.
  • The GCTM will support efforts to implement the WHO’s Traditional Medicine Strategy (2014-23), which aims to support nations in developing policies & action plans to strengthen the role of traditional medicine in pursuing the goal of universal health coverage. 
  • The WHO and the central government are also aiming at using technology and innovation, such as artificial intelligence, to map traditional medicine trends, innovations and patents, linking to WHO’s Innovation Hub.
  • According to WHO estimates, 80% of the world’s population uses traditional medicine.

Why has the WHO felt the need to advance knowledge of traditional medicine?

  • First, the Jamnagar centre will serve as the hub, and focus on building a solid evidence base for policies and help countries integrate it as appropriate into their health systems.
  • The WHO says 170 of its 194 WHO Member States have reported the use of traditional medicine, and these member states have asked for its support in creating a body of reliable evidence and data on traditional medicine practices and products.
  • Second, WHO has stressed the need to conserve biodiversity and sustainability as about 40% of approved pharmaceutical products today derive from natural substances. 
  • For example, the discovery of aspirin drew on traditional medicine formulations using the bark of the willow tree.
  • The contraceptive pill was developed from the roots of wild yam plants.
  • Child cancer treatments have been based on the rosy periwinkle.
  • Third, the WHO has referred to the modernisation of the ways traditional medicine is being studied. Artificial intelligence is now used to map evidence and trends in traditional medicine. 
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging is used to study brain activity and the relaxation response that is part of some traditional medicine therapies such as meditation and yoga, which are increasingly drawn on for mental health and well-being in stressful times.
  • Fourth, the WHO has said traditional medicine is also being extensively updated by mobile phone apps, online classes, and other technologies. The GCTM will serve as a hub for other countries, and build standards on traditional medicine practices and products.

Has India taken up similar collaborative efforts earlier?

  • Yes. In 2016, the Ministry of AYUSH signed a project collaboration agreement (PCA) with the WHO in the area of traditional medicine. 
  • The aim was to create benchmarks for training in yoga, Ayurveda, Unani and Panchakarma, for traditional medicine practitioners. 
  • The collaboration also aimed at promoting the quality and safety of traditional medicine and consumer protection.
  • At least 32 MoUs for undertaking collaborative research and development of traditional medicine have been signed with institutes, universities and organisations from the US, Germany, UK, Canada, Malaysia, Brazil, Australia, Austria, Tajikistan, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Japan, Indonesia etc.
  • Also, the CSIR and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have signed an MoU to identify opportunities for scientific and technological research in traditional medicine as well as beyond.

Pradhan Mantri Jan-Aushadhi Yojana

Context:

  • Janaushahdi Diwas week is to be observed from 1st March to 7th March 2022. The theme of the 4th Janaushadhi Diwas: “Jan Aushadhi-Jan Upyogi”.

About:

  • Initially launched in 2008, the scheme was rechristened in 2015.

Implementing agency:

  • Pharmaceuticals & Medical Devices Bureau of India (PMBI), under the administrative control of the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Government of India.
  • It seeks to provide quality medicines at affordable prices to the masses through a special kendra’s known as Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendra.

Salient features:

  • Ensure access to quality medicines.
  • Extend coverage of quality generic medicines so as to reduce the out of pocket expenditure on medicines and thereby redefine the unit cost of treatment per person.
  • Create awareness about generic medicines through education and publicity so that quality is not synonymous with an only a high price.
  • A public programme involving Government, PSUs, Private Sector, NGOs, Societies, Co-operative Bodies and other Institutions.
  • Create demand for generic medicines by improving access to better healthcare through low treatment costs and easy availability wherever needed in all therapeutic categories

Compensation to Victims of Hit and Run Motor Accidents Scheme, 2022

Context:

  • Recently, The Government released “The Compensation to Victims of Hit and Run Motor Accidents Scheme, 2022”.

About:

Launched by:

  • Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
  • This scheme will supersede the Solatium (Compensation) Scheme,1989.
  • This scheme shall come into force with effect from April 1, 2022.

Key Features of the Scheme:

  • The compensation to the families of hit-and-run victims will be increased eight-fold to Rs 2 lakh in cases of death.
  • The relief to a person sustaining grievous injuries in a hit-and-run case will now be increased to Rs 50,000 from the current Rs 12,500.
  • Under the scheme, the procedure has been prepared for detailed investigations of road accidents and their reporting along with timelines for different stakeholders for quick settlements of claims.
  • A Motor Vehicles Accident Fund has been set up. The fund will be used for providing compensation in case of hit-and-run cases and treatment for accident victims

Rashtriya Vayoshree Yojana

Context:

  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment will distribute 4,800 daily living aids and assistive devices among 895 senior citizen beneficiaries under Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana (RVY).

About:

  • Launched in 2017.

Nodal Ministry:

  • Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Type:

  • It is a central sector scheme funded from the Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund. The fund was notified in the year 2016.
  • All unclaimed amounts from small savings accounts, PPF and EPF are transferred to this fund.

Aim:

  • It aims to provide aids and assistive living devices to senior citizens belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL) category who suffer from age-related disabilities such as low vision, hearing impairment, loss of teeth and locomotor disabilities.
  • The aids and assistive devices, viz walking sticks, elbow crutches, walkers/crutches, tripods/quad pods, hearing aids, wheelchairs, artificial dentures and spectacles are provided to eligible beneficiaries.

Implementation:

  • The Scheme is being implemented by the Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation (ALIMCO), a PSU (Public Sector Undertaking) under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

World Happiness Report 2022 

Context:

  • World Happiness Report 2022 was published recently.

About:

Published by: United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

  • Published in 2012, the World Happiness Report is based on two key ideas: Happiness or life evaluation measured through opinion surveys and
  • Identifying key elements that determine well-being and life evaluation across countries.
  • Parameters: The report usually ranks 150 countries based on several factors such as real GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and perceptions of corruption.
  • This year, the report ranked 146 countries.
  • Scale: Every year, each variable measures a populated-weighted average score on a scale of 0-10 that is tracked over a period of time and further compared with other countries.
  • This year, countries which ranked in the top 10 last year, moved upwards and downwards.

Key Finding:

  • Finland has been named the world's happiest country for the fifth year running followed by Denmark.
  • India’s Performance: India saw a marginal improvement in its ranking, jumping three spots to 136, from 139 a year ago.

Sustainable Development Solutions Network:

  • The SDSN, launched in 2012, mobilises global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical problem solving for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • It was established under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General.
  • The SDSN and the Bertelsmann Stiftung have been publishing the annual Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Index & Dashboards Global Report since 2016.

National Drug De-Addiction Programme

Context:

  • Recently, the Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare has informed Rajya Sabha about the National Drug De-Addiction Programme (DDAP)’.

About DDAP:

  • Operated by: Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

Aim: 

  • To provide affordable, easily accessible and evidence-based treatment for all substance use disorders through the government health care facilities,
  • To build the capacities of health care staff in recognition and management of substance use disorders.
  • Implementing agencies: AIIMS, New Delhi; PGIMER, Chandigarh; NIMHANS, Bengaluru among others.
  • National / Nodal centre: National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre(NDDTC), AIIMS.

Other programmes:

  • National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction(NAPDDR): It is being implemented by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE).
  • Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan(NMBA): It is being implemented by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE).
  • Establishing and Implementing Capacity Building Mechanism for Addiction Treatment Facilities in India: It is a project being implemented by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE) through the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre(NDDTC), AIIMS.
  • Under the project, from 2021, 5-day training workshops are organised for staff of various Government run/supported/funded facilities established for the treatment of drug addiction in the Country.

Vital Statistics of India

  • Context:
    • The Office of the Registrar General of India has released a report titled “Vital Statistics of India Based on The Civil Registration System”.
  • About the Report:
    • The report provides an overview of the working of the Civil Registration System(CRS) in the country.
    • It presents a compilation of data on registered births, deaths, and sex ratios based on Civil Registration Records.
    • Data: The level of registration was arrived at using Sample Registration System Rates for 2018. It is because the survey for 2019 which was scheduled for 2020 could not be completed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Key Findings of the Report: The level of birth and death registration with the Civil Registration System (CRS) in India has gone up considerably in 2019.
  • Birth Registration:
    • Based on information received from the 32 States/UTs, the share of institutional births to total registered births is 81.2 %.
    • The level of registration of births has increased to 92.7% in 2019 from 82.4% in 2011.
    • 14 States/UTs have achieved the 100% level of registration of births. Around 10 out of 20 major States have crossed the 90% level of registration of births.
    • Out of the total registered births, the share of males and females is 52.1% and 47.9% respectively.
    • In case of registration of births within the prescribed time period of 21 days, the 15 States/UTs have achieved more than 90% registration of births to the total births registered.
    • The three states namely Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala have achieved 80 to 90% registration of births within 21 days.
    • The highest Sex Ratio at Birth(SRB) based on Registered events has been reported by Arunachal Pradesh(1024), followed by Nagaland(1001), Mizoram(975) and Andaman and Nicobar Islands(965).
    • The lowest Sex Ratio at Birth(SRB) has been reported by Gujarat(901), Assam(903), Madhya Pradesh(905) followed by Jammu & Kashmir (909).
  • Death Registration:
    • The number of registered deaths has increased from 69.5 lakhs in 2018 to 76.4 lakhs in 2019.
    • Out of the total registered deaths, the share of males and females is 59.6% and 40.4% respectively.
    • Based on the information provided from 31 States/UTs, the share of Institutional deaths in total registered deaths is 32.1%.
    • In case of registration of deaths within the prescribed time period of 21 days, 11 States/UTs have achieved more than 90% registration of deaths to the total deaths registered.
    • The level of registration of deaths has increased from 66.4% in 2011 to 92.0% in 2019.
    • Among the states, 19 States/UTs have achieved a 100% per cent level of registration of deaths.
    • In the case of registration of infant deaths, the share of urban areas is 75.5% compared to rural with only 24.5%.

Oxfam report on inequalities in health indicators

Context:

  • The Oxfam report titled 'Inequality Report 2021: India’s Unequal Healthcare Story' was released recently.

Statewise comparison:

  • The report says that states attempting to reduce existing inequalities and with higher expenditure on health had lower confirmed cases of Covid-19.
  • States that have for the past few years been reducing inequalities, such as inequalities to access to health between the general category and SC and ST populations, have less confirmed cases of Covid – such as Telangana, Himachal Pradesh, and Rajasthan.
  • States that have had higher GDP expenditure on health, such as Assam, Bihar, and Goa, have higher recovery rates of Covid cases.
  • The report marks Kerala as a success story in handling the pandemic.

Intrapersonal comparison:

  • People from higher income brackets, and with access to health infrastructure, had faceless visits to hospitals and Covid centers than those belonging to lower-income groups.
  • People belonging to lower-income groups also faced five times more discrimination on being found Covid-positive than those in higher-income groups, it reported.

Castewise comparison and others:

  • Over 50 percent of people from SC and ST communities faced difficulties in accessing non-Covid medical facilities, compared to 18.2 percent of people in the ‘general’ category.
  • The general category performs better than the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs); Hindus perform better than Muslims; the rich perform better than the poor; men are better off than women, and the urban population is better off than the rural population on various health indicators.

Digital Comparison:

  • The report points out that the vaccination drive against Covid-19 ignores the country’s digital divide — entering the pandemic, only 15 percent of rural households had an internet connection; smartphone users in rural India were almost half of those in urban areas. 
  • More than 60 percent of women across 12 states had never used the internet.

State of medical expenditure during Covid-19 pandemic:

  • The average medical expenditure per hospitalization case has tripled between 2004 and 2017, making it difficult for poorer and rural households.
  • one rupee in every Rs 6 spent on hospitalization came through borrowing; while urban households depended on savings, rural households depended on loans.
  • Less than one-third of households in the country were covered by a government insurance scheme in 2015-16.

Inequalities in health:

  • India’s low spending on public healthcare has left the poor and marginalized with two difficult options: suboptimal and weak public healthcare or expensive private healthcare.
  • Out-of-pocket health expenditure of 64.2 percent in India is higher than the world average of 18.2 percent. 
  • Over 63 million people are pushed to poverty every year due to health costs alone.

Rice Fortification

Context:

  • In his Independence Day speech, Indian PM announced the fortification of rice distributed under various government schemes, including the public distribution system (PDS) and midday meals in schools, by 2024.

How rice fortification is done in India?

  • Various technologies are available for rice fortification, such as coating and dusting. For rice fortification in India, ‘extrusion’ is considered to be the best technology. This involves the production of fortified rice kernels (FRKs) from a mixture using an extruder machine.
  • The fortified rice kernels are then blended with regular rice to produce fortified rice.

Extrusion technology:

  • In extrusion technology, dry rice flour is mixed with a premix of micronutrients, and water is added to this mixture.
  • This mixture then goes into a twin-screw extruder with heating zones, which produces kernels similar in shape and size to rice.
  • These kernels are dried, cooled and packaged for use.
  • FRK has a shelf life of at least 12 months. As per guidelines issued by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, the shape and size of the fortified rice kernel should “resemble the normal milled rice as closely as possible”.

Cost of fortification:

  • The Ministry estimates that the cost of producing FRK with three micronutrients — iron, folic acid, and vitamin B-12 — will come to around Rs 0.60 per kg. This cost will be shared by the Centre and the states. The government will pay this cost to rice millers.

Pew Study

Context:

  • A new study on the religious composition of India’s population since Partition was conducted recently by pew study.

About:

  • The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan American think tank based in Washington, D.C.
  • It provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends shaping the United States and the world.

Major findings of the study:

  • Marginal change in composition: Due to the “declining and converging fertility patterns” of Hindus and Muslims, there have been only marginal changes in the overall religious composition of the population since 1951.
  • Total Fertility Rate (1992 to 2015): For Muslims, it declined from 4.4 to 2.6, while that of Hindus declined from 3.3 to 2.1. This indicates that the gaps in childbearing between India’s religious groups are much smaller than they used to be.
  • Women in central India tended to have more children.
  • Bihar and Uttar Pradesh showed a TFR of 3.4 and 2.7 respectively, in contrast to a TFR of 1.7 and 1.6 in Tamil Nadu and Kerala respectively.
  • Positive overall growth: But all the six major religious groups — Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains — have grown in absolute numbers.
  • The sole exception to this trend is Parsis, whose number halved between 1951 and 2011, from 110,000 to 60,000.
  • Boy preference: Sex-selective abortions had caused an estimated deficit of 20 million girls. This practice is more common among Indian Hindus than among Muslims and Christians.”
  • Effect of migration: Since the 1950s, migration has had only a modest impact on India’s religious composition
  • Muslims are more likely than Hindus to leave India while immigrants into India from Muslim-majority countries are disproportionately Hindu.
  • Religious conversion: It has also had a negligible impact on India’s overall composition, with 98% of Indian adults still identifying with the religion in which they were raised.

Elderly Line

Context:

  • Recently, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment launched the Elder Line, the first Pan-India toll-free helpline number (14567) for Senior Citizens, ahead of International Day of Older Persons, which is observed on 1st October every year.
  • Earlier SAGE (Seniorcare Aging Growth Engine) initiative was launched.

Key Points:

About:

  • It provides information, guidance, emotional support – particularly on pension, medical and legal issues – besides immediate assistance in cases of abuse.
  • It is devised to provide all senior citizens, or their well-wishers, with ONE platform across the country to connect and share their concerns and get information and guidance on problems that they face on a day-to-day basis.

Need:

  • According to the Longitudinal Ageing Study of India, India will have over 319 million elderly by 2050 compared to the 120 million now.
  • The senior citizen population faces several challenges such as mental, financial, emotional, physical, and legal.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated the situation of senior citizens.

Buzurgon ki Baat – Desh Ke Saath

Context:

  • ​​The Union Minister of Culture has launched a program named ‘Buzurgon ki Baat – Desh Ke Saath’. He also launched an exhibition on Gita Govinda and a book “Gita Govinda: Jayadeva’s Divine Odyssey” by Dr Utpal K. Banerjee

About Buzurgon ki Baat – Desh Ke Saath:

  • The programme aims at enhancing the interaction between the youth and the elder persons who are 95 years and above and thus have spent around 18 years in India before independence. 

Ayushman Bharat health infrastructure mission

  • Context:
    • PM has launched the Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (AB-HIM), one of the largest pan-India schemes for strengthening healthcare infrastructure.
  • About the mission:
    • Aimed at ensuring a robust public health infrastructure in both urban and rural areas, capable of responding to public health emergencies or disease outbreaks.
    • Will establish health and wellness centers in both rural and urban areas.
    • Integrated public health labs to make a range of diagnostic services available to people.
    • Aims to establish an IT-enabled disease surveillance system.
  • Significance:
    • Public healthcare is available in 70% of the areas. Rural areas, on the other hand, had a lower availability (65%) than urban areas (87%).
    • Proximity to healthcare services is higher in urban localities: 64 % of the enumerators in urban areas observed that people can access healthcare services by walking, while only 37 percent in rural areas can do so.

Why Indian kids show diabetes signals early

  • Context:
    • The study was conducted in Pune to understand why diabetes is so common in Indians. They have tracked women from before they became pregnant and during their pregnancy, and their children through childhood, puberty and now as adults.
  • Findings of the study:
    1. High glucose and insulin concentration in early childhood: It was found that at 18 years, 37% of men and 18% of women had elevated glucose levels (prediabetes). This was despite half of them being underweight.
    2. Risk Factors: Children with sub-optimal growth in the womb carry high levels of risk factors for diabetes from early childhood.
    3. It was found that poor functioning of the pancreas with increasing age is linked to high glucose levels. This is also linked to poor growth of the pancreas during fetal life.
  • Status of diabetes in India:
    1. World Health Organization (WHO): India has an estimated 8.7% diabetic population in the age group 20-70, with around 77 million people with diabetes.
    2. First National Nutrition Survey (2016-18): Almost 1 in 10 children (ages 5-9) were pre-diabetic, and 1% were already diabetic. This survey is jointly conducted by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, UNICEF, and Population Council.
  • Reasons behind the high prevalence of diabetes:
    • This is because of the combination of various factors like rapid urbanization, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, tobacco use, and increasing life expectancy.
  • Key Suggestions:
    1. Lower the screening age for diabetes from 30 to 25 years.
    2. The main focus should be on women and child health. Maternal nutrition during pregnancy should be focussed upon as a preventive measure.
    3. Need to adopt an integrated life course approach. Prevention should be started at the community level and not just in the clinic.
    4. India does not yet have sufficient data to translate research into policymaking. This calls for robust and comprehensive research work.

 National Formulary of India

  • Context:
    • Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr Mansukh Mandaviya launched the Sixth Edition of the National Formulary of India (NFI).
  • About:
    • The salient feature of this edition includes:
    • NFI has been published by the Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC) to promote the rational use of medicines in the country.
    • The 6th Edition of NFI 2021 has been drafted by adopting the principle ‘do not miss critical and do not overload’ the information by revising the appendices, chapters and drug monographs.
    • 34 therapeutic categories chapters including 591 drug monographs and 23 appendices are included in this edition.
    • The NFI is aligned with the National Health Programmes and the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).

Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2021

Context:

  • Another key bill to safeguard the reproductive rights of women — the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 — was passed by Lok Sabha on August 5, 2019. This one was referred to a Select Committee, which recommended that the ART Bill should be brought first, so that all the highly technical and medical aspects could subsequently be addressed in the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019.

What is the difference?

  • The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill relates to surrogacy, an infertility treatment, where a third person, a woman, is the surrogate mother. In ART, treatments can be availed by the commissioning couple themselves and it is not always necessary that a third person is involved.
  • Surrogacy is allowed for only Indian married couples. ART procedures are open to married couples, live-in partners, single women, and also foreigners. A 2015 notification prohibits the commissioning of surrogacy in India by foreigners or OCI or PIO cardholders, but NRIs holding Indian citizenship can avail of surrogacy. Foreigners can visit India under medical tourism to avail ART services.
  • Under the Surrogacy Bill, there will be a National Surrogacy Board that will be involved in policymaking and act as a supervisory body, and State Boards that will act as executive bodies. The ART Bill provides for a National Board, with the powers vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure.
  • According to the Health Ministry, the estimated number of clinics practising surrogacy in India is likely less than 1,000, while that of those practising ART is likely more than 40,000.

Why was the ART Bill felt necessary?

  • The growth of ART clinics in India is among the highest in the world, and these are a key part of medical tourism.  These offer gamete donation, intrauterine insemination, in-vitro- fertilisation, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, and pre-implantation genetic diagnostic.
  • India does not have standard protocols for ART clinics yet. Amid questions raised on their ethical, medical, and legal aspects, Lok Sabha passed the Bill that provides for regulation and supervision of ART clinics and ART banks.

What is an ART bank?

  • Under the Bill, ART will include all techniques that attempt to obtain a pregnancy by handling the sperm or the oocyte outside the human body, and transferring the gamete or the embryo into the reproductive system of a woman.
  • It defines an ART bank as an organisation set up to supply sperm or semen, oocytes, or oocyte donors to ART clinics or their patients. ART services will apply to women above the legal age of marriage and below 50, and to men above the legal age of marriage and below 55.

How will ART services be regulated?

  • National Board: It will advise the Centre on policy matters. It will review and monitor rules and regulations, and recommend any changes. It will set the minimum standards of physical infrastructure, laboratory and diagnostic equipment and expert manpower to be employed by clinics and banks. State boards will coordinate the implementation of the guidelines.
  • National Registry: It will have a central database on all clinics and banks in the country, including the nature and types of services provided, and the outcome of these services. The registry will provide the data to National Board for making policies and guidelines.
  • Registration Authority: It will have the chairperson, who will be an officer above the rank of Joint Secretary in the Health Department; a vice-chairperson, who will be above the rank of the Joint Director in the Health Department; an eminent woman representing a women’s organisation; an officer of the Law Department, and, an eminent registered medical practitioner.
  • The registration authority’s functions will include: To grant, suspend, or cancel the registration of ART centres; to enforce the standards and supervise the implementation of the law; to investigate complaints of any breach of provisions, to take legal action against the misuse of ART and initiate independent investigations, and to recommend to the National and State Boards on modifying the regulation with changes in technology and social conditions.

What rules must clinics comply with?

  • They have to ensure that the commissioning couples, women, and donors of gametes are eligible for ART procedures and that the donor is medically tested. They will have to provide professional counselling about all the implications and chances of success — and inform the couples about advantages, disadvantages, costs, side effects, and risks including that of multiple pregnancies. They will have to establish a grievance cell.
  • ART clinics will have to make the commissioning couple or woman aware of the rights of a child born through ART, and ensure all data is kept confidential. The Bill says a child born through ART shall be deemed to be a biological child of the commissioning couple. The child will be entitled to all the rights and privileges available to a natural child from the commissioning couple, and the donor will have to relinquish all parental rights over the child.

What are the other safeguards?

  • The Bill says the clinic shall not perform any treatment or procedure without the written consent of all the parties seeking ART. It mandates insurance coverage in favour of the oocyte donor by the commissioning couple or woman from an insurance company.
  • The insurance will provide a guarantee of compensation for specified losses, damage, complications, or death of the donor during the process.

What are the regulations on the use and sourcing of gametes and embryos?

  • The woman cannot be treated with gametes or embryos derived from more than one man or woman during one treatment cycle.
  • Second, a clinic cannot mix semen from two individuals for the procedures.
  • Third, the embryos shall not be split and used for twinning to increase the number. Also, there will be regulations for the harvest of oocytes or embryos, and the number of oocytes or embryos that may be placed in the uterus of a woman during the treatment cycle.
  • The Bill says the ART bank cannot supply the sperm or oocyte of a single donor to more than one commissioning couple. Also, the oocyte donor shall be an ever-married woman who has at least one live child of her own with a minimum age of three years. She can donate oocytes only once in her lifetime, and not more than seven oocytes are to be retrieved from her. The gamete or embryo of a donor shall be stored for a period of not more than 10 years.

Will there be testing for disease?

  • The Bill mandates that pre-implantation genetic testing shall be used to screen the embryo for known, pre-existing, heritable, or genetic diseases. The test will identify genetic defects in embryos created through IVF before pregnancy. The National Board will lay down conditions on pre-implantation testing.

Anganwadi in Early childhood care

Context:

  • Early childhood care and education (ECCE) is critical for a young child's early cognitive, social, and emotional development, as stated in the National Education Policy 2020. Only 13.6% of children are enrolled in pre-primary schools, according to the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5).
  • As a result, the nearly 1.4 million anganwadis of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) in India must provide ECCE to millions of low-income children.

Present Early Childhood Care Education:

  • The current system caters to children aged 3-6 years old at best, ignoring infants and toddlers.
  • A child's early learning begins at birth, first through stimulation, play, interactions, nonverbal and verbal communication, and then gradually through observation and cues from the immediate environment, as well as increasingly structured activities.
  • Unfortunately, disadvantaged households are unable to provide an early learning environment due to a lack of parental awareness compounded by the daily stresses of poverty.

Challenges for Anganwadi’s providing ECCE:

  • More workload: Due to the high workload of Anganwadi workers, some educationists believe that ECCE in anganwadis will remain a non-starter.
  • Heavy Investment: Building over a million classrooms with a million nursery teachers and helpers would require a massive investment For example, even a conservative estimate puts the additional annual outlay at over Rs 30,000 crore.
  • Upskilling of Anganwadis: It is a huge task to Upskill the Anganwadi teachers and maintain a good quality ECCE.
  • All government primary schools should open pre-primary sections, with anganwadis limiting themselves to the 0-3 age group.

Steps to be Taken to Implement ECCE in Anganwadis are below:

  • To design and implement a meaningful activity-based ECCE framework that recognises the realities on the ground and is autonomous enough to reflect the local context and setting.
  • Reduce the assigned work: Many anganwadi assistants have completed matriculation. Helpers can be reclassified as childcare workers and handle routine tasks with training and an additional incentive.
  • Anganwadi hours can be increased by at least three hours by increasing staff remuneration, with the extra time devoted to ECCE.
  • By prioritising and monitoring ECCE, ICDS requires a shift in policy mindset at both the national and state levels. This will also necessitate full ECCE training for all ICDS staff, including assessment through group activities and child observation.
  • Effective Engagement between Teachers and Parents: Because responsive parenting necessitates both parents participating actively in ECCE activities at home, Anganwadi workers should be asked to engage with fathers as well.
  • ICDS must provide age-appropriate activity-based play material in sufficient quantities on a regular basis, with Anganwadi workers encouraged to use it liberally.
  • States should invest in early childhood education research and training and ensure that the ECCE programme is not a downward extension of schooling.
  • Karnataka is already ahead of the pack; its anganwadis are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This will also serve as a partial daycare facility, allowing poor mothers to earn a living.
  • Appropriate messaging and low-cost, easily accessible teaching materials can be created and made available to parents.

Society and Education:

Olga Tellis judgment

Context:

  • In the early hours of April 21, a fleet of bulldozers accompanied by hundreds of policemen descended on Jahangirpuri in northwest Delhi to demolish buildings, petty shops, and the entrance gate of a mosque. Soon after the demolitions started, the Supreme Court in an urgent hearing ordered that the “status quo” be maintained until further orders.
  • The demolition drive was initiated to demolish the “illegal constructions” of the rioters in Jahangirpuri. Communal violence had broken out in the area on April 16 when a Hanuman Jayanti Shobha Yatra, which did not have police permission, clashed with Muslims as it went alongside the mosque.

About:

  • Similar riot incidents, in Khargone in Madhya Pradesh and Khambhat in Gujarat, had taken place, where processions during Ram Navami led to communal flare-ups.
  • The actions of state and local authorities to bulldoze shops and homes in riot-hit Muslim neighbourhoods citing “illegal encroachment” raises major legal concerns.
  • At one level, such actions show a blatant disregard for the due process of law and established judicial precedents regarding evictions (Olga Tellis judgement).
  • At another level, it conveys the misuse of brute state power for collective punishment undermining the basic tenets of criminal law.
  • According to the Delhi Economic Survey 2008-09, only about 24% of the city lived in “planned colonies” and the rest lived in informal or unplanned areas ranging from jhuggi jhopdi clusters to unauthorised colonies.

Olga Tellis vs Bombay Municipal Corporation, 1985:

  • By a five-judge Constitutional Bench, It is agreed that pavement dwellers do occupy public spaces unauthorised.
  • The apex court ruled that pavement dwellers live on “filthy footpaths out of sheer helplessness” and not with the object of offending, insulting, intimidating or annoying anyone.
  • They live and earn on footpaths because they have “small jobs to nurse in the city and there is nowhere else to live.”
  • Pavement dwellers, too, have a right to life and dignity. The right to life included the right to livelihood. They earn a meagre livelihood by living and working on the footpaths.
  • A person cannot be deprived of his right to livelihood except according to just and fair procedure established by law.
  • A welfare state and its authorities should not use its powers of eviction as a means to deprive pavement dwellers of their livelihood.
  • The procedure of eviction should lean in favour of procedural safeguards which follow the natural principles of justice like giving the other side an opportunity to be heard.
  • The right to be heard gives affected persons an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process and also provides them with a chance to express themselves with dignity.
  • Therefore, the court maintained they should be given a chance to be heard and a reasonable opportunity to depart “before force is used to expel them.”

What led to the case?

  • Bombay Municipal Corporation decided that pavement and slum dwellers in Bombay city should be evicted and “deported to their respective places of origin or places outside the city of Bombay.”
  • The state government had also argued these people cannot claim any fundamental right to encroach and put up huts on pavements or public roads over which the public has a ‘right of way.’

Ajay Maken vs Union of India (2019)

  • Delhi High Court held that no authority shall carry out an eviction without conducting a survey,
  • consulting the population that it seeks to evict and
  • providing adequate rehabilitation for those eligible.
  • Invoking the idea of the “Right to the City” and the “Right to Adequate Housing” from international law, the court held that slum-dwellers possess the right to housing and should be protected from forced and unannounced eviction.
  • It was a case concerning the legality of the demolition of Shakur Basti of Delhi
  • Given the political & communal overtones of the recent demolition drives, rule of law cannot be saved purely through judicial intervention and would need broader political & people’s struggles

Smart Cities Mission

  • A smart city is defined as one that makes optimal use of all the interconnected information available to better understand and control its operations and optimise the use of limited resources.
  • Smart Cities Mission as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme was launched in 2015 under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

Key features of Smart Cities mission:

  • Objective- To promote cities that provide core infrastructure, a clean and sustainable environment and give a decent quality of life to their citizens through the application of smart solutions.
  • Area-based development- It includes city improvement (retrofitting), city renewal (redevelopment) and city extension (greenfield development).
  • Assessment of indices- It also assesses various indices to track urban development such as the Ease of Living Index, Municipal Performance Index, City GDP framework, Climate-Smart Cities assessment framework, etc.

Fundamental principles of Smart Cities:

  • The community at the Core
  • More from less
  • Co-operative and Competitive Federalism
  • Integration, Innovation, Sustainability
  • Technology as a means
  • The Smart Cities Mission also includes setting up ICCCs for each smart city.
  • Key focus areas included waste- management, Integrated traffic management and the Construction of walkways, pedestrian crossings, cycling tracks

Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC):

  • The ICCCs are envisaged to be the brain for city operation as it will act as a decision support system for the city administration to respond to the real-time events by consuming data feeds from different data sources and by processing information out of the data sets.
  • These ICCCs are designed to enable authorities to monitor the status of various amenities (water, power supply, traffic movement, city connectivity and internet infrastructure, etc.) in real-time.
  • The ICCC acts of a smart city acts as a “nerve centre” for operations management.
  • The ICCC is the nodal point of availability of all online data and information relating to smart services included in a smart city.
  • The ICCCs are linked to the CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Networks and Systems) network under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • During the pandemic, they also served as war-rooms for Covid-19 management.

Current Status of Smart Mission:

  • The project had an initial deadline of 2021 for the first lot of 20 smart cities out of the 100 selected.
  • On the recommendation of NITI Aayog, the timeline was extended last year until 2023 due to delays caused by the pandemic.
  •  According to Ministry data, the SCM has so far covered over 140 public-private partnerships, 340 smart roads, 78 vibrant public places, 118 smart water projects and over 63 solar projects.
  • The Ministry noted that almost 100% of these projects have been work-ordered.
  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has begun work to finalise its recommendation for providing ICCCs as a service to states and smaller cities.
  • The Ministry is also aiming to finalise an ICCC model and implement a pilot project across 6 states — Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
  • The cities were selected over a period of two years between 2016 and 2018, each with a deadline of completion within five years from the time of their selection.

Hattis In Himachal Pradesh

Context:

  • The central government is planning to take the decision on the Himachal Pradesh government's request to provide tribal status to the Hatti community in the state.

About Hattis:

  • They are a community of close-knit people who got their names from their tradition of selling homegrown vegetables, crops, meat and wool etc. in small markets called ‘haat’ in towns.
  • They live in the Kamrau, Sangrah, and Shilliai areas. As it is located in topographically rough terrain, it lacks in education and employment.
  • The two clans have similar traditions, and inter-marriages are commonplace.
  • There is a rigid caste system among them -The Bhat and Khash belong to the upper castes, while the Badhois are below them.
  • Inter-caste marriages are traditionally opposed in their culture.
  • Like the khaps of Haryana, Hattis are governed by a traditional council called Khumbli

 

Midday Meal Scheme

  • Karnataka is set to provide eggs under the Midday Meal Scheme for school children. MDMS is amongst the largest initiatives in the world to enhance the nutrition levels of school-going children through hot cooked meals.
  • The Mid-Day Meal Scheme has been renamed as 'PM Poshan Shakti’.
  • From the next academic session, Karnataka is likely to become the 13th state to provide eggs under the MDM scheme.
  • The government, however, has rolled out the scheme partially in seven districts of Karnataka, which according to the National Family Health Survey were reporting high malnutrition and anaemia levels among children.
  • For students who do not consume eggs, the government has decided to distribute bananas.

Why Are Eggs Introduced?

  • Children who study at government schools hail from extremely poor families.
  • While the children of rich vegetarians can afford nutritious alternatives like paneer, dry fruits, ghee, and butter, fruits but the vegetarian food choices imposed on the poor are woefully short of nutrients and are unaffordable.
  • Considering that the majority of the children in government schools come from families who consume meat, therefore eggs can be provided to them. It will provide nutrition to children who often are victims of stunted growth, ill-health due to lack of nutritious food.

Common University Entrance Test (CUET)

Context:

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has announced that admission into undergraduate courses in all centrally funded universities will henceforth be solely on the basis of a Common University Entrance Test (CUET).

About:

  • All 45 central universities will have to admit students on the basis of their scores on the test.
  • Class 12 Board Exam marks will no longer be considered.

CUET:

  • The CUET will be a computerised test to be conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA).
  • Following the exam, the NTA will prepare a merit list on the basis of which these universities will admit students.
  • This entrance test is compulsory for all the central universities and may also be adopted by the state/private/deemed to be universities.
  • The entrance exam will be offered in 13 languages.
  • International students are exempted from CUET; their admissions will be carried out on the existing supernumerary basis.

The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021

  • Context:
    • New IT rules to regulate digital content, featuring a code of ethics and a three-tier grievance redressal framework, have come into force.
    • On February 25, the Centre framed the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, in the exercise of powers under section 87 (2) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and in supersession of the earlier Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011, which will come into effect from May 26.
  • Overview of the new rules:
    • It mandates a grievance redressal system for over the top (OTT) and digital portals in the country. This is necessary for the users of social media to raise their grievances against the misuse of social media.
    • Significant social media firms have to appoint a chief compliance officer and have a nodal contact person who can be in touch with law enforcement agencies 24/7.
    • A grievance officer: Social media platforms will also have to name a grievance officer who shall register the grievance within 24 hours and dispose of it in 15 days.
    • Removal of content: If there are complaints against the dignity of users, particularly women – about exposed private parts of individuals or nudity or sexual act or impersonation etc – social media platforms will be required to remove that within 24 hours after a complaint is made.
  • A monthly report:
    • They also will have to publish a monthly report about the number of complaints received and the status of redressal.
    • There will be three levels of regulation for news publishers — self-regulation, a self-regulatory body, headed by a retired judge or an eminent person, and oversight from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, including codes of practices and a grievance committee.
  • What is a significant social media intermediary and benefits obtained under it?
    • Social media companies with more than 50 lakh registered users will be considered ‘significant social media intermediaries’, as per the new norms.
  • What happens in case of non-compliance?
    • Social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp messenger could face a ban if they do not comply with the new Information Technology rules.
    • They also run the risk of losing their status as “intermediaries” and may become liable for criminal action if they do not comply with the revised regulations.
  • What are the Concerns being raised?
    • Various industry bodies have written to the government for up to a one-year compliance window, particularly in view of the pandemic.
    • Concerns have also been expressed over the potential unavailability of ‘safe harbour’ protection given to intermediaries under Section 79 of the IT Act, under the new rules.
    • They have requested a re-think over a clause in the new rules which can lead to the imposition of criminal liability upon the employees for non-compliance by intermediaries, asking for it to be dropped in the interest of ease of doing business.
    • Originator traceability mandate in end-to-end encrypted platforms could end up weakening the security architecture of the platform. This could render the entire citizenry susceptible to cyberattacks by hostile actors.
    • Additionally, the extant data retention mandate entailed risking the privacy of users in India and abroad in addition to security risks and technical complexities which requires a lot of time for development and testing before integration with the existing ecosystem.

Performance Grading Index (PGI)

  • Context:
    • The Union Education Minister has approved the release of the Performance Grading Index (PGI) 2019-20 for States and Union Territories.
    • The PGI is a tool to provide insights on the status of school education in States and UTs including key levers that drive their performance and critical areas for improvement.
  • About the Performance Grading Index (PGI):
    • The PGI for States and Union Territories was first published in 2019 with the reference year 2017-18.
    • The PGI: States/UTs for 2019-20 is the third publication in this series.
  • Objectives:
    • The PGI exercise envisages that the index would propel States and UTs towards undertaking multi-pronged interventions that will bring about the much-desired optimal education outcomes.
    • The PGI helps the States/UTs to pinpoint the gaps and accordingly prioritise areas for intervention to ensure that the school education system is robust at every level.

  • Implementing Agency:
    • It is initiated by the Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL).
  • Source of Information:
    • The information on the indicators are drawn from data available with the DoSEL from the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE), National Achievement Survey (NAS) of NCERT, Mid Day Meal website, Public Financial Management System (PFMS) and the information uploaded by the States and UTs on the Shagun portal of DoSEL.
  • Methodology:
    • The PGI is structured in two categories, namely, Outcomes and Governance & Management and comprises 70 indicators in aggregate with a total weightage of 1000.
    • Domains under categories include:  Access, Infrastructure & Facilities, Equity, Governance process.
  • Important Findings of the PGI 2019-20:
    • State-wise Performance:
      • This shows that 33 States and UTs have improved their PGI scores in 2019-20 compared to the previous year.
      • Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Puducherry, Punjab and Tamil Nadu have improved their overall PGI scores by 10%.
    • Inter-state Differential:
      • On a maximum possible of 1000 points, the range between the States and UTs with the highest and the lowest score is more than 380 points in the year 2019-20.
      • Domain-wise Performance:
      • Access: Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep and Punjab have shown improvement of 10% or more in the ‘Access’ domain.
      • Infrastructure and Facilities: Thirteen states and UTs have shown improvement by 10% or more in ‘Infrastructure and Facilities’ while Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Odisha have improved their scores in the domain by 20% or more.
    • Equity:
      • In ‘Equity', Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Odisha have shown an improvement of more than 10%.
    • Governance Process:
      • 19 states have shown improvement by 10% or more.
      • Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Punjab, Rajasthan and West Bengal have shown improvement by at least 20%.

CBSE Assessment Formula

  • Context:
    • Earlier, the Central Board of Secondary Education(CBSE) cancelled Class 12th final exams due to COVID-19. Recently the Supreme Court of India has approved the formula submitted by the CBSE to assess the final marks of Class 12 students.
  • What is the CBSE assessment formula?
    • The CBSE assessment formula has divided the marks’ assessment process into two components — theory and practical.
  • Theory Component: The theory component is based on the 30:30:40 formula:
    • Firstly, the first 30% weightage will be given based on the average scores obtained by the students in Class 10 in their three best performing subjects out of a total of five.
    • Secondly, another 30% weightage would be given to marks based on the theory component of the final exam taken in Class 11.
    • Finally, 40% weightage would be given for marks obtained in one or more unit tests, mid-term exams and pre-board exams in Class 12.
  • Practical Component:
    • On the practical side, the calculation would be on the “actual basis” of the marks uploaded by the schools on the CBSE’s portal.
  • What happens to a student who does not get pass marks through this method?
    • Students who fall short in one subject will be placed in the ‘compartment’ category. The compartment examination will be conducted after the declaration of results to give them a chance to clear that subject.
    • However, those who fall short in more than one subject will be placed in the ‘essential repeat’ category.
  • What about students who are not happy with this assessment method?
    • Students who are not satisfied with the manner of assessment or the marks they will get will be allowed to sit for written examinations conducted by the board. The CBSE will conduct exams when conditions are conducive for holding the examinations.
    • The marks that they get in this exam will be considered as the final marks.

Tele-Law Programme (TLP)

Context: Justice Department commemorated the milestone of crossing 9 lakh beneficiaries under its Tele-Law Programme (TLP).

About TLP:

  • Tele-Law means the use of communications and information technology for the delivery of legal information and advice.
  • It initiates to connect citizens with lawyers through video conferencing facilities by the Para-Legal Volunteers stationed at identified 50,000 Common Service Centres (CSC).
  • It is a continuation of the Access to Justice Project for Marginalised Persons, which is being implemented by the Department of Law and Justice and the United Nation Development Programme since 2008.
  • Department of Justice in partnership with National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and CSC e-Governance Service India Limited is implementing the programme since 2017.
  • Legal advice is made available to everyone under Tele-Law service. Advice is free of Cost to those who are eligible for free legal aid under Section 12 of the Legal Services  Authorities (LSA) Act, 1987 such as marginalized communities like SC/ ST/ OBC, persons with disabilities, women, senior citizens, etc.
  • It is operational in 633 districts in 34 States/UTs covering 50,000 CSCs.

Additional Information:

  • Articles 14 and 22(1) also make it obligatory for the State to ensure equality before the law and a legal system that promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity to all. 
  • Article 38(1) avows that the State shall promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting the social order including justice.
  • In 1987, LSA Act was enacted by the Parliament and it came into force in 1995 to establish a nationwide uniform network for providing free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of society. 
  • NALSA has been constituted under the LSA Act, 1987 to provide free legal services to the weaker sections of society.

Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation of Persons engaged in the act of Begging

Context: 

  • The government of India has formulated a scheme covering comprehensive measures for the welfare of beggars.

About Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation of Persons engaged in the act of Begging:

  • It is a Central Sector Scheme that is part of Support for Marginalized Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise (SMILE) formulated by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. 
  • The focus of the scheme is extensively on rehabilitation, provision of medical facilities, counselling, basic documentation, education, skill development, economic linkages, etc.
  • It will be implemented with the support of State/Union Territory (UT) Governments/Local Urban Bodies, Voluntary Organizations, Community Based Organizations (CBOs), etc.
  • It provides for the use of the existing shelter homes available with the State/UT Governments and Urban local bodies for rehabilitation of the persons engaged in the act of Begging.
  • The ministry has also initiated pilot projects in ten cities namely Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Indore, Lucknow, Mumbai, Nagpur, Patna, and Ahmedabad.

About SMILE:

  • It is a new scheme after the merger of existing schemes for Beggars and Transgenders.
  • With a budgetary outlay of Rs 70 crores, it is intended to cover the welfare measures for both transgender persons and persons who are engaged in the act of begging with focus extensively on rehabilitation, provision of medical facilities, etc with the support of State Governments/UTs/Local Urban Bodies, Voluntary Organizations, etc.
  • It is estimated that approximately 60,000 poorest persons would be benefited under this scheme for leading a life of dignity.

Beggary Laws In India:

  • Beggary laws in India are a relic of the old colonial legacy. For example, according to the Criminal Tribes Act (1871), indigenous peoples were deemed criminals by birth and herded into concentration camps, where families were separated and forced labour was the norm.
  • There is no central Act on beggary, however, many States and Union Territories have used certain sections of the Bombay Prevention of Beggary Act, 1959, as the basis for their own laws.
  • Through these legislations, the governments try to maintain public order, addresses forced begging or “begging rackets”, prevent annoyance to tourists.
  • According to the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, which criminalizes begging, the provision not only criminalizes begging in Mumbai but also in various metropolitan cities such as Delhi.
  • However, the Delhi High Court in a landmark judgment has held the Act as unconstitutional in Delhi, on grounds that it violates Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution restoring the rights of persons who have no other means of sustenance but to seek alms. 
  • The court has acknowledged that the application of the anti-beggary act has largely been arbitrary, leading to the detention of the poor who may not be engaged in begging, but could be people who have “fallen through the socially created net” — they could be homeless, poor persons living with disabilities, transgender persons, migrant or sex workers.

Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2021

  • Context:
    • Recently, the Lok Sabha has passed the Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2021 without any discussion.
  • About the Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2021:
    • The Bill intends to establish a new Central University in Ladakh to ensure an increase in accessibility and quality of higher education and research for the people of Ladakh.
    • At present, there is no Central University in Ladakh 
    • The new University will be named Sindhu Central University.
    • The government has allocated 750 crore rupees for the development of this University in which 2500 students will be benefited.

Nationwide Assessment of Minority Schools

Context:

  • Recently, the National Commission for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (NCPCR) conducted a Nationwide Assessment of Minority Schools. The report was titled “Impact of Exemption under Article 15 (5) with regards to Article 21A of the Constitution of India on Education of Minority Communities”.

Highlights of the Report:

Minority Schools Catering to the Non-Minorities:

  • Overall, 62.5% of the students in these schools belonged to non-minority communities.
  • Only 8.76% of the students in minority schools belong to socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Disproportionate Numbers:

  • In West Bengal, 92.47% of the minority population is of Muslims and 2.47% are Christians. On the contrary, there are 114 Christian minority schools and only two schools with Muslim minority status.
  • Similarly, in Uttar Pradesh, though the Christian population is less than 1% there are 197 Christian minority schools in the state.
  • This disproportion takes away the core objective of establishing minority educational institutions.

Non-Uniformity in Madarsas:

  • It found that the largest number of out-of-school children – at 1.1 crore – belonged to the Muslim community.
  • According to the report, there are three kinds of madrasas in the country:

Recognised Madrasas:

  • These are registered and impart both religious as well as secular education;

Unrecognised Madrasas:

  • These have been found deficient for registration by state governments as secular education is not imparted.

Unmapped Madrasas:

  • These have never applied for registration.
  • According to the NCPCR, the Sachar Committee report 2005, which says 4% of Muslim children (15.3 lakh) attend madrasas, has only taken into account the registered madrasas.
  • Further, the syllabi of madrasas, which have evolved over centuries, are not uniform, and that “being left ignorant of the world around them”.
  • Many students develop an inferiority complex, being alienated from the rest of society and unable to adjust with the environment.
  • It also says that madrasas do not have any teachers training programmes.

Nobel Peace Prize for defending the freedom of expression

  • Context:
    • The 2021 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia.
    • According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2021 World Press Freedom Index, the situation for press freedom is “difficult or very serious” in 73% of the 180 countries it evaluates, and “good or satisfactory” in only 27%.
  • FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION:
    • Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Freedom of expression serves as an enabler of all other rights.
    • The UN General Assembly adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on 16 December 1966. ICCPR Article 19 states:
      • Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
      • Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
      • The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary.

SACRED Portal for Elderly

  • Context:
    • In a first of its kind move, the government has come up with an online employment exchange platform to cater to senior citizens seeking job opportunities.
    • The portal developed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is named Senior Able Citizens for Re-Employment in Dignity (SACRED).
    • The International Day of Older Persons is observed on 1st October each year.
  • About:
    • Citizens above 60 years of age can register on the portal and find jobs and work opportunities.
    • The Employment Portal will serve not only the senior citizens seeking employment, but also the employers, the Self Help Groups (SHGs), the senior citizens gaining skills, and other agencies or individuals.
    • A number of Rs. 10 Cr would be provided for funding for the platform development along with a maintenance grant of @ Rs. 2 Cr per year for 5 years.
    • The portal is shaped on the recommendations of the Empowered Expert Committee (EEC) report on startups for the elderly.
  • Need:
    • There is a sharp rise in India’s elderly population and the thrust is on creating an ecosystem that supports their needs more holistically.
    • There are 110 million elders in this country, who are above the age of 60.
    • According to the Longitudinal Ageing Study of India (LASI), India will have over 319 million elderly by 2050 compared to the 120 million now.
    • More than 50% of senior citizens are found active as per the LASI report 2020. Many senior citizens having experience, time and energy can be used by business enterprises looking for stable employees with experience.
  • Other Recent Initiatives:
    • Elder Line: The first Pan-India toll-free helpline number (14567) for Senior Citizens.
    • SAGE (Seniorcare Aging Growth Engine) Portal: It will be a “one-stop access” of elderly care products and services by credible start-ups.
    • International Day of Older Persons (1st October):
      • Theme 2021: Digital Equity for All Ages
      • The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2021-2030 the Decade of Healthy Aging.

NIPUN Bharat Mission

  • Context:
    • The Ministry of Education has launched NIPUN (National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy) Bharat Scheme.
    • It aims to cover the learning needs of children in the age group of 3 to 9 years.
  • Part of NEP 2020:
    • This initiative is being launched as a part of NEP (National Education Policy) 2020.
    • This policy aims to pave the way for transformational reforms in school and higher education systems in the country. This policy replaced the 34-year-old National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986.
  • Objective:
    • To create an enabling environment to ensure the universal acquisition of foundational literacy and numeracy, so that every child achieves the desired learning competencies in reading, writing and numeracy by the end of Grade 3, by 2026-27.
  • Focus Areas:
    • It will focus on providing access and retaining children in foundational years of schooling; teacher capacity building; development of high quality and diversified Student and Teacher Resources/Learning Materials; and tracking the progress of each child in achieving learning outcomes.
  • Implementation:
    • NIPUN Bharat will be implemented by the Department of School Education and Literacy.
    • A five-tier implementation mechanism will be set up at the National- State- District- Block- School level in all States and UTs, under the aegis of the centrally sponsored scheme of Samagra Shiksha.
    • ‘Samagra Shiksha’ programme was launched subsuming three existing schemes: Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE).
    • The aim of the scheme is to treat school education holistically, from pre-school to Class XII.
    • A special package for foundational literacy and Numeracy (FLN) under NISHTHA (National Initiative for School Heads and Teachers Holistic Advancement) is being developed by NCERT.
    • Around 25 lakh teachers teaching at pre-primary to primary grade will be trained this year on FLN.
    • NISHTHA is a capacity building programme for “Improving Quality of School Education through Integrated Teacher Training”.
    • Stage-wise targets are being set in a continuum from the pre-primary or Bal Vatika classes.
  • Expected Outcomes:
    • Foundational skills enable to keep children in class thereby reducing the dropouts and improving transition rate from primary to upper primary and secondary stages.
    • Activity-based learning and a conducive learning environment will improve the quality of education.
    • Innovative pedagogies such as toy-based and experiential learning will be used in classroom transactions thereby making learning a joyful and engaging activity.
    • Intensive capacity building of teachers will make them empowered and provide greater autonomy for choosing the pedagogy.
    • Holistic development of the child by focusing on different domains of development like physical and motor development, socio-emotional development, literacy and numeracy development, cognitive development, life skills etc. which are interrelated and interdependent, which will be reflected in a Holistic Progress Card.
    • Children to achieve a steeper learning trajectory which may have positive impacts on later life outcomes and employment.
    • Since almost every child attends early grades, therefore, focus at that stage will also benefit the socio-economic disadvantageous group thus ensuring access to equitable and inclusive quality education.

National Institutional Ranking Framework

Context:

  • Union Education Ministry released its India Rankings 2021 under the National Institutional Ranking Framework.

Key highlights of the India Rankings 2021:

  • The IITs dominated the overall rankings, grabbing seven of the top 10 positions.
  • Overall toppers: The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru was ranked second, followed by the IITs in Bombay, Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Roorkee and Guwahati.
  • Top Non-IITs University: Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Banaras Hindu University (BHU) were at rank nine and 10.
  • Top universities: (1) IISc; (2) JNU; (3) the BHU; (4) the University of Calcutta; (5) the Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore; (6) Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi

What is NIRF?

  • NIRF is an annual report card, by the Ministry of Education, on the performance of the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
  • It was launched in 2015, outlines a methodology to rank institutions across the country.
  • The NIRF ranks institutions based on five parameters:
    • Teaching Learning and Resources (TLR), Research and
    • Professional Practice (RP),
    • Graduation Outcome (GO),
    • Outreach and Inclusivity (OI) and
    • Perception. 

National Curriculum Framework (NCF)

Context:

  • The Centre has started the process to revise school textbooks by appointing former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K. Kasturirangan as the head of a 12-member steering committee responsible for developing a new National Curriculum Framework (NCF).

National Curriculum Framework (NCF):

  • The new NCF is in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
  • The committee will be headed by K Kasturirangan, who had also led the NEP 2020 drafting committee.
  • The national curriculum framework serves as a guideline for syllabus, textbooks, teaching and learning practices in the country.
  • India is currently following its fourth national curriculum framework that was published by the NCERT in 2005.

What was the last NCF?

  • The last such framework was developed in 2005.
  • It is meant to be a guiding document for the development of textbooks, syllabi and teaching practices in schools across the country.

Why revamp NCF?

  • The subsequent revision of textbooks by the National Council of Educational Research and Training will draw from the new NCF.
  • In fact, the steering committee will develop four such frameworks, one each to guide the curriculum of school education, teacher education, early childhood education, and adult education.

Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 

Context:

  • The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), which was drawn up in March 2021 in only Karnataka this year, found a huge drop in learning levels in both reading and numeracy, especially for primary classes.
  • For the current report, Pratham surveyed 18,385 children between the age of five and 16 from 13,365 households across 24 districts. This was done earlier this year, the first since the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is ASER?

  • ASER stands for Annual Status of Education Report.
  • It is the largest citizen-led survey in India facilitated by Pratham NGO.
  • This is an annual survey, conducted every year since 2005, that aims to provide reliable estimates of children’s enrolment and basic learning levels for each district and state in India.
  • It is also the only annual source of information on children’s learning outcomes available in India today
  • ASER is a household-based rather than school-based survey.
  • This design enables all children to be included – those who have never been to school or have dropped out, as well as those who are in government schools, private schools, religious schools or anywhere else.

World Social Protection Report 2020–22

Context:

  • Recently, an International Labour Organization report titled ‘World Social Protection Report 2020–22’ has revealed that globally 4.1 billion people are living without any social safety net of any kind.

What is Social protection?

  • Social protection is concerned with preventing, managing, and overcoming situations that adversely affect people’s well being.
  • Social protection consists of policies and programs designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability by promoting efficient labour markets, diminishing people’s exposure to risks, and enhancing their capacity to manage economic and social risks, such as unemployment, exclusion, sickness, disability and old age.
  • The World Social Protection Report 2017-19 is released by the International Labour Organisation.

What are the major highlights of the report?

  • The goal of comprehensive coverage evidently remains a mere slogan in several parts of the world.
  • A vast majority of people (4 billion) live without any safeguard against the normal contingencies of life. Less than half (45.2%) have guaranteed access to only one social protection benefit in the face of a whole gamut of risks such as ill-health, unemployment, occupational injuries, disability, and old age.
  • More than half the population in rural areas are not covered by universal health programmes, as compared to less than a quarter in urban locations.
  • Nearly two-thirds of children are not covered by any form of social protection, meaning that their education is unlikely to rank as a priority among households. Furthermore, 41% of mothers of newborns receive no maternity benefits.
  • Only 27.8% of persons with severe disabilities worldwide receive appropriate support. The expansion of old-age pensions to include 68% of people in the retirement age is a move in the right direction.
  • There is growing political support for the idea that public investment in social security is critical to eradicate poverty, boost economic growth, and reduce inequality.
  • About 29% of the population enjoy comprehensive social protection.
  • There has been a 2% increase in coverage in the last two years.

What are the challenges and how can they be addressed?

  • Major obstacles in this regard are fiscal austerity measures. The report reinforces the alternative approach, of economic stimulus and productivity-enhancing growth.
  • Targets under the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals lay out the framework for concerted efforts in this respect. An earlier ILO study documented the challenges facing countries, at their current rate of progress, to meet the 2025 target of eradicating child labour.
  • However, the levels of support are not adequate enough even to lift people out of poverty. A trend away from the privatisation of pension protection in Poland, Argentina, Hungary, among others, is a moment for other countries to rethink.
  • A highlight in the report is the practical tools and guidance on calculating the cost of different social benefits. It dispels the notion that universal coverage is beyond the reach of poor countries.

Transforming India’s Food Systems

  • Context:
    • The sustainability of Food Systems is going to be crucial in the years to come due to climate change.
    • India also has to transform its food systems, which have to be inclusive and sustainable for higher farm incomes and nutrition security.
    • Earlier, the United Nation's report on the Food System, suggested that today's food systems are heavily afflicted by power imbalances and inequality, and do not work for most women.
  • Food Systems:
    • According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), food systems encompass the entire range of actors involved in:
      • Production, aggregation, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal of food products that originate from agriculture, forestry or fisheries, and parts of the broader economic, societal and natural environments in which they are embedded.
  • Challenges in India’s Food Systems:
    • Effect of Green Revolution:
      • Although there has been significant progress in the country’s agricultural development due to the Green Revolution, It has also led to water-logging, soil erosion, groundwater depletion and the unsustainability of agriculture.
    • Current Policies:
      • Current policies are still based on the deficit mindset of the 1960s. The procurement, subsidies and water policies are biased towards rice and wheat.
      • Three crops (rice, wheat and sugarcane) corner 75 to 80% of irrigated water.
    • Malnutrition:
      • The NFHS-5 shows that under-nutrition has not declined in many states even in 2019-20. Similarly, obesity is also rising.
      • The cost of the EAT-Lancet dietary recommendations for rural India ranges between USD 3 and USD 5 per person per day. In contrast, actual dietary intake is around USD 1 per person per day.
  • Steps Needed to Transform India’s Food Systems:
    • Crop Diversification:
      • Diversification of cropping patterns towards millets, pulses, oilseeds, horticulture is needed for more equal distribution of water, sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture.
    • Institutional Changes in Agri-Sector:
      • Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) should help get better prices for inputs and outputs for smallholders.
      • E-Choupal is an example of technology benefiting small farmers.
      • Women’s empowerment is important particularly for raising incomes and nutrition.
      • Women’s cooperatives and groups like Kudumbashree in Kerala would be helpful.
    • Sustainable Food Systems:
      • Estimates show that the food sector emits around 30% of the world’s greenhouse gases.
      • Sustainability has to be achieved in production, value chains and consumption.
    • Health Infrastructure & Social Protection:
      • The Covid-19 pandemic has uncovered the weak well-being infrastructure in international locations like India, notably in rural areas and a few areas.
      • Inclusive food systems also need strong social protection programmes. India has long experience in these programmes. Strengthening India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Public Distribution System (PDS), nutrition programmes like Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), Mid-Day Meal programmes, can improve income, livelihoods and nutrition for the poor and vulnerable groups.
  • Non-Agriculture Sector:
    • The role of non-agriculture is equally important for sustainable food systems. Labour-intensive manufacturing and services can reduce pressure on agriculture as income from agriculture is not sufficient for smallholders and informal workers.
    • Therefore strengthening rural Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and food processing is part of the solution.

Multidimensional Poverty Index

  • Context:
    • The Performance of States in the Multidimensional Poverty Index by NITI Aayog. The best and worst and the reasons for it.
  • Analysis:
    1. Three districts in Uttar Pradesh have nearly 70 percent and above population who are multidimensionally poor, and Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh combined have the top 10 districts with the highest poverty ratio among states.
    2. Kerala is a standout state with the lowest percentage of the population being multidimensionally poor at 0.71%, with nine out of its 14 districts having a poverty ratio of less than 1%. Kottayam is an outlier district with not even a single poor person.
    3. Among states, Bihar has the highest proportion of people — at 51.91% of its population — who are multidimensionally poor.
    4. Union Territory of Puducherry has among the lowest multidimensional poverty in each of its four districts: Yanam at 5.18%, Karaikal at 3.13%, Puducherry at 1.30%, and Mahe at 0.08%. The overall poverty ratio in UT is 1.72%.
    5. All-India poverty ratio at 25.01%.
  • About MPI:
    1. The MPI seeks to measure poverty across its multiple dimensions and in effect complements existing poverty statistics based on per capita consumption expenditure.
    2. It has three equally weighted dimensions — health, education, and standard of living — which in turn are represented by 12 indicators such as nutrition, school attendance, years of schooling, drinking water, sanitation, housing, bank accounts, among others.
    3. The MPI uses the globally accepted methodology developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Khasi Inheritance of Property Bill, 2021

  • Context:
    • A district autonomous council in Meghalaya announced that it would introduce the ‘Khasi Inheritance of Property Bill, 2021, aimed at “equitable distribution” of parental property among siblings in the Khasi community.
  • Significance:  
    • The proposed Bill would modify an age-old customary practice of inheritance of the matrilineal Khasi tribe. 
  • About:
    1. The three tribes of Meghalaya: Khasis, Jaintias, and Garos practice a matrilineal system of inheritance.
    2. In this system, lineage and descent are traced through the mother’s clan that is In other words, children take the mother’s surname, the husband moves into his wife’s house, and the youngest daughter (khatduh) of the family is bequeathed the full share of the ancestral or the clan’s property.
    3. The khatduh becomes the “custodian” of the land and assumes all responsibility associated with the land, including taking care of aged parents, unmarried or destitute siblings.
    4. Custom also dictates that the khatduh cannot sell the property, without permission of her mother’s brother (maternal uncle) since he technically belongs to the mother’s clan, through which descent is traced.
    5. The self-acquired property can be distributed equally among siblings.
    6. In this traditional setup, if a couple does not have any daughters, then the property goes to the wife’s elder sister and her daughters.
    7. If the wife does not have sisters, then the clan usually takes over the property.

Does matriliny really empower women?

  1. Matrilineal is not to be confused with matriarchal, where women function as heads.
  2. The matrilineal system in Meghalaya rarely empowers women.
  3. The custodianship is often misconstrued as ownership vested in just one person, the khatduh.
  4. While women may have freedom of mobility and easier access to education, they are not decision-makers in Meghalaya.
  5. There are barely any women in positions of power, in politics, or heading institutions.
  6. The Dorbar Shnong (traditional Khasi village governing bodies) debar women from contesting elections.

Implications of the System: 

  1. The system “disinherits” men, and denies equitable property distribution between all children in the family.
  2. Many times, boys are not able to take loans because there is no collateral to show.
  3. When a couple has no children, and there is no genuine heir, the clan takes over the property, as per custom.
  4. It leads to a number of litigations by children against their parents.
  5. Only about 35-38% of women own property in the state; because most of the property is clan property or community property.

Bill envisages the following:

  1. “Equitable distribution” of parental property among siblings in the Khasi community – both male and female.
  2. Let parents decide who they want to will their property to.
  3. Prevent a sibling from getting parental property if they marry a non-Khasi and accept the spouse’s customs and culture.
  4. If implemented, this would modify an age-old customary practice of inheritance of the matrilineal Khasi tribe.

Remote Voting Facility in India

  • Context: 
    • Election Commission (EC) officials are exploring the potential of using blockchain technology to enable remote voting. The aim is to overcome the geographical hurdles in voting.
  • Remote voting:
    • Remote voting may take place in person somewhere other than an assigned polling station or at another time, or votes may be sent by post or cast by an appointed proxy.
  • What is Blockchain Technology?  
    • A blockchain is a distributed ledger of information that is replicated across various nodes on a “peer-to-peer” network (P2P Network).
    • The purpose of technology is of ensuring the integrity and verifiability of data stored on the ledger.
  • Benefits of remote voting:
    • Solved the problem of ballot portability: Remote voting would appear to benefit internal migrants and seasonal workers, who account for roughly 51 million of the populace (Census 2011).
    • Useful for People in Remote Places: The envisioned solution might also be useful for some remotely-stationed members of the Indian armed forces.
    • Helps Increase Voter Participation: Remote voting solutions may facilitate the participation in elections by specific groups of citizens, including ex-pats, military voters, voters resident in health and care institutions, and prisoners.
    • Speed and Secure: The blockchain-based voting system not only provides real-time results, but also ensures that the counting is foolproof, and with blockchain, nobody can tamper the results.

Miscellaneous

Internal Displacement: UNHCR Report

  • Internal displacement is described as situations that forced people to leave home but are staying inside the political boundary of the country. This report is published annually by United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
  • This year focuses on the relationship between climate change, disaster, and displacement.
  • Global displacement is climbing over 82 million despite pandemics. It has swelled around three million in 2020.
  • Africa Violence in Ethiopia and Mozambique is causing a surge in displacement.
  • Deadly Jihadist violence has led to displacement in Mozambique.
  • Freshly displacement in Sahel region.
  • Only 3.2 million IDPs have returned home in 2020 marking a drop of 40% from 2019.
  • 20 million displaced due to climate change issue.
  • The problem of internal displacement has increased straight for nine years.
  • 42% displaced are girls and boys under the age of 18

UP Government Released New Population Policy On World Population Day

  • The new policy has provisions to give incentives to those who help in population control. The Policy is voluntary.
  • UP government will give incentives in the form of promotions, increments, concessions in housing schemes and other perks to employees who adhere to population control norms, and have two or less children.
  • Public servants who adopt two-child norm will get two additional increments during the entire service, maternity or as the case may be, paternity leave of 12 months, with full salary and allowances and 3% increase in the employer's contribution fund under the National Pension Scheme
  • For those who are not government employees and still contribute towards keeping the population in check, will get benefits like rebates in taxes on water, housing, home loans etc.
  • If the parent of a child opts for vasectomy, he/she will be eligible for free medical facilities till the age of 20.
  • UP government plans to set up a state population fund to implement the measures.
  • The draft bill also asks the state government to introduce population control as a compulsory subject in all secondary schools.

Ministry of Minority Affairs is Implementing Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakaram (PMJVK)

  • The erstwhile Multi-sectoral Development Programme (MsDP) has been restructured and renamed as Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram for effective implementation since 2018. It seeks to provide better socio-economic infrastructure facilities to minority communities.
  • As far as PMJVK is concerned, the communities notified as minority communities under Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 would be taken as Minority Communities.
  • The areas under PMJVK have been identified on the basis of minority population and socio-economic and basic amenities data of Census 2011.
  • In case of non-gap-filling innovative projects, the fund sharing between Centre and State would be in the ratio of 60:40. For the North East States and Hilly States (Himachal Pradesh & Uttarakhand), it will be 90:10
  • At present, 6 communities namely Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified as Minority Communities

WHO Report On Dementia

  • WHO has released a report titled ‘Global Status Report On Public Health Response To ‘Dementia’.
  • The report takes stock of progress made towards 2025 global targets for dementia laid out in the WHO’s ‘Global Dementia Action Plan’ 2017.
  • More than 55 million people are living with dementia. This number is estimated to rise to 78 million by 2030 and to 139 million by 2050.

Dementia Is A Syndrome:

  • Usually of a chronic or progressive nature that leads to deterioration in cognitive function beyond what might be expected from the usual consequences of ageing.
  • It is one of the leading causes for dependency and disability among old aged people.
  • It affects memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language, and judgement.
  • It results from a variety of diseases and injuries that primarily or secondarily affect the brain such as Alzheimer’s disease or stroke.

Indian Initiatives

  • Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India: It calls for the government to have its plan or policy on dementia which must be implemented in all states and funded and monitored by the health ministry.

National Health Mission:

  • It envisages the achievement of universal access to equitable, affordable & quality health care services that are accountable and responsive to people's needs.

Drug Abuse

  • Calling for a humane approach towards drug users and addicts, the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has recommended changes to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act to exempt them from a prison term.
  • Consumption across states: Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of cannabis users, followed by Punjab, Sikkim, Chhattisgarh, and Delhi, according to the AIIMS report.
  • Of the total opioid users, nearly 77 lakh or over one-third are in the harmful or drug-dependent category due to excess use.
  • Roughly one-third of such cases are from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra and Delhi.
  • However, in terms of population percentage, the north-eastern states top the list. Nearly 7% of the population in Mizoram, for instance, consume opioids.
  • Extent of Drug abuse in India: From traditional plant-based drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, and heroin to synthetic drugs such as tramadol, consumption of narcotic substances in India has increased manifold in recent years.
  • In terms of users, India's illicit drug markets are mostly dominated by cannabis and opioids.

Sujalam Campaign

  • Ministry of Jal Shakti has recently launched “Sujalam”, a 100 days campaign as part of “Azadi ka Amrit Mahaotsav”. The campaign is meant for Greywater management & ODF sustainability.
  • It aims to achieve Open defecation free (ODF) plus status for Villages across the Country in an accelerated manner.
  • Cities that had been certified ODF at least once, on the basis of the ODF protocols, are eligible to declare themselves as SBM-ODF+ & SBM-ODF++.

Vayo Naman Programme

  • It was organised by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons (1st October).

On the occasion following initiatives were launched:

  • An Elderly Help Line 14567.
  • SAGE (Seniorcare Aging Growth Engine) portal to encourage entrepreneurs in the area of elderly care. Launched by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the portal will be a “one-stop access” of elderly care products and services by credible start-ups. The start-ups selected under SAGE will be those which will provide new innovative products and services to elderly persons in various areas like health, travel, finance, legal, housing, and food among others

Pradhan Mantri Dakshta Aur Kushalta Sampann Hitgrahi (PM-DAKSH) Scheme

  • Recently, the Government has launched the ‘PM-DAKSH’ Portal and the ‘PM-DAKSH’ Mobile App.
  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, in collaboration with National e-Governance Division (NeGD), has developed this portal and app to make the skill development schemes accessible to the target groups of SC (Scheduled Caste), OBC (Other Backward Classes), Economically Backward Classes, Denotified tribes, Sanitation workers including waste pickers, manual scavengers, transgenders and other similar categories.
  • Under this Yojana, the eligible target groups are being provided skill development training programmes on upskilling/Re-skilling, short Term & long-term Training Programme, and Entrepreneurship Development programs (EDP).

It is implemented by 3 Corporations under the Ministry:

  • National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC),
  • National Backward Classes Finance & Development Corporation (NBCFDC),
  • National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC)

Swachh Survekshan 2021: Water Plus City

Context:

  • Indore was recently declared as the first Water Plus City (WPC) in-country under Swachh Survekshan 2021.
  • As per the protocols of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, a city can be declared as Water Plus and given the certificate, if all wastewater released from households, commercial establishments etc. is treated to a satisfactory level, before releasing the treated wastewater to the environment.

Swachh Survekshan:

  • It is an annual survey of cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation in cities and towns in India.
  • It was launched in 2016 as a part of the Swachh Bharat Mission. It is conducted by the Ministry of Housing and Home Ministry has committed to incur the whole expenditure of settlement in Tripura
  • Each refugee family would get: A plot, fixed deposit of Rs. 4 lakh, free ration and a monthly stipend of Rs. 5,000 for two years.
  • Each family will also be provided Rs. 1.5 lakh to construct a house
  • Dirty water from the city should not go into any river or drain
  • 30% of the city’s sewer water has to be recycled and reused.
  • All public toilets in the city must be connected to sewer lines and must be cleaned
  • Urban Affairs with Quality Council of India as its implementation partner.
  • It has been instrumental in promoting a spirit of healthy competition among towns and cities to improve their service delivery to citizens and towards creating cleaner cities through citizen participation.

Child Labour and Forced labour in India

Context:

  • A recent study has raised the issue of ambiguity about definitions of child labour and forced labour in India, especially for sugarcane producing states of Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The study was commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and The Coca-Cola Company.

Findings from the Study:

  • Authorities discounted underage child labour as “children helping parents in the field”.
  • Similarly, confusion was about the advance payment to migrant workers, and associated risks of forced or bonded labour.
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Child Labour and Forced Labour (Meaning):

  • The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.
  • Forced labour is defined as “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily”.
  • The term forced labour includes slavery and practices similar to slavery as well as bonded labour or debt bondage.
  • Bonded Labour is a practice in which employers give high-interest loans to workers who work at low wages to pay off the debt.

Provisions of Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016:

  • According to the Act, the employment of children below the age of 14 years in any commercial enterprise is illegal.
  • The Act also bars the employment of adolescents in occupations that deal with hazardous working conditions such as chemical plants and mines.
  • The Act says that children can only work after school hours or during holidays and that children are allowed to work in family-owned secure sectors.

Bonded Labour in India:

  • The Supreme Court of India has interpreted bonded labour as the payment of wages that are below the prevailing market wages and legal minimum wages.
  • The Constitution of India prohibits forced labour under Article 23 (Fundamental Rights).
  • Article 23: Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour.
  • Bonded labour was historically associated with rural economies where peasants from economically disadvantaged communities were bound to work for the landlords.
  • Bonded labour is found to exist in both rural and urban pockets in unorganized industries such as brick kilns, stone quarries, coal mining, agricultural labour, domestic servitude, circus, and sexual slavery.

Sugarcane Cultivation in India:

  • It is a tropical as well as a subtropical crop. It grows well in a hot and humid climate with a temperature of 21°C to 27°C and annual rainfall between 75cm and 100cm
  • In India, sugarcane is primarily grown and cultivated in Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Of these, Uttar Pradesh is the largest sugarcane producer and accounts for nearly 40% of the cash crop grown in the country, followed by Maharashtra and Karnataka, which account for 21% and 11% of the total domestic production.

Other Child Labour Laws/Programmes in India:

  • Article 24 of the Constitution: No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed in work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.
  • National Policy on Child Labour (1987): It focuses more on the rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations and processes, rather than on prevention.
  • Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015: It includes the working child in the category of children in need of care and protection, without any limitation of age or type of occupation.
  • National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme 2007: Under it, children in the age group of 9-14 years, rescued/withdrawn from work are enrolled in the NCLP Special Training Centres, where they are provided with bridge education, vocational training, mid-day meal, stipend, health care, etc. before being mainstreamed into the formal education system.
  • The Right to Education Act, 2009 has made it mandatory for the state to ensure that all children aged 6 to 14 years are in school and receive free education.
  • According to the Mines Act of 1952, employment of children below the age of 18 years is illegal in mines.

A platform for Effective Enforcement for No Child Labour (PENCIL) Portal 2017:

  • It is an electronic platform that aims at involving Centre, State, District, Governments, civil society and the general public in achieving the target of child labour free society.
  • It has been launched for the effective implementation of the Child Labour Act and the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme.
  • Recently, India has ratified International Labour Organizations Convention (ILO) no 138 (minimum age for employment) and Convention no 182 (worst forms of child labour).

Bonded Labour Related Schemes/Acts:

  • Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976:
    • The Act extends to the whole of India but is implemented by respective state governments.
    • It provides for an institutional mechanism at the district level in the form of Vigilance Committees.
    • Vigilance committees advise District Magistrate (DM) to ensure the provisions of this act are properly implemented.
    • The State Governments/UTs may confer, on an Executive Magistrate, the powers of a Judicial Magistrate of the first class or second class for the trial of offences under this Act.
  • Central Sector Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourers (2016):
    • Under this scheme financial assistance to the extent of Three lakhs Rupees is provided to released bonded labourers along with other non-cash assistance for their livelihood.

International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples or the World Tribal Day

Context:

  • It is celebrated every year on 9th August to recognise the contribution and achievements of indigenous communities and to raise awareness around the issues faced by them.

More info:

  • It was marked for the first time in 1994 by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), to commemorate the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations, in 1982.
  • This year’s theme is ‘Leaving no one behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract’.
  • Through this, the UN seeks to encourage societies to treat indigenous communities as stakeholders since they were not included in the initial social contract, which was formulated by dominant communities.

Significance Of Indigenous Peoples:

  • The UN estimates that there are more than 476 million indigenous people, accounting for 6.2% of the global population, spread across 90 countries, and representing 5,000 different cultures. They speak almost 7000 languages in the world.
  • They have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live.
  • Their time-tested, age-old agricultural practices do not cause harm to nature and such methods are resilient to climate change. Crops grown by them are highly adaptable and can survive drought, altitude, flooding and extremes of temperature.
  • Their territories are home to 80% of the world’s biodiversity and they can teach the world how to rebalance its relationship with nature and reduce the risk of future pandemics.

Revising Arunachal Pradesh ST

Context:

  • Recently, Rajya Sabha passed the Constitutional Amendment Bill (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

About:

  • The Bill seeks to amend the nomenclature of certain tribes from Arunachal Pradesh mentioned in the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950.

What does the Bill amend?

  • The Bill seeks to modify Part-XVIII of the Schedule to the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950. Part-XVIII lists 16 tribes of Arunachal, in order: Abor, Aka, Apatani, Nyishi, Galong, Khampti, Khowa, Mishmi [Idu, Taroon], Momba, Any Naga tribes, Sherdukpen, Singpho, Hrusso, Tagin, Khamba and Adi.
  • The Bill corrects the names of tribes spelt incorrectly and adds names of a few tribes that were either named ambiguously or had their parent group named only.
  • It makes five changes deleting ‘Abor’ (tribe) at serial No. 1 changing ‘Khampti’ at serial No. 6 to ‘Tai Khamti’
  • including ‘Mishmi-Kaman (Miju Mishmi)’, ‘Idu (Mishmi)’ and ‘Taraon (Digaru Mishmi)’ at serial No. 8 in lieu of Mishmi [Idu, Taroon] including ‘Monpa’, ‘Memba’, ‘Sartang’, ‘Sajolang (Miji)’ at serial No. 9 in place of ‘Momba’ Replacing ‘Any Naga Tribes’ at serial No. 10 with names of four tribes: ‘Nocte’, ‘Tangsa’, ‘Tutsa’, and ‘Wancho’.

Why is it significant?

  • Indigenous nomenclature of tribes has been a long-standing demand in Arunachal Pradesh for two reasons:
  • For the recognition of individual identity and to do away with the ambiguity as a result of errors in their names.
  • Most of the names for tribes in the Schedule were “colonial interpretations”. “The move is historic because now communities will be known by the name they identify with and not something that is imposed on them

Scheduled Tribe:

  • Article 366 (25) of the Constitution refers to Scheduled Tribes as those communities, who are scheduled in accordance with Article 342 of the Constitution.
  • Article 342 says that only those communities who have been declared as such by the President through an initial public notification or through a subsequent amending Act of Parliament will be considered to be Scheduled Tribes.
  • The Constitution is silent about the criteria for the specification of a community as a Scheduled Tribe.
  • There are certain Scheduled Tribes, 75 in number known as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs), who are characterized by:-
    • pre-agriculture level of technology
    • stagnant or declining population
    • extremely low literacy
    • subsistence level of economy

Bhil Tribe

  • They are one of the largest tribal groups, living in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. They are the largest tribe in Rajasthan.
  • The name is derived from the word ‘billu’, which means bow. Traditionally, experts in guerrilla warfare, most of them are now farmers and agricultural labourers.
  • Bhils have traditional medical specialists – Budwa (Shaman), Huvarki (traditional birth attendant), Vaidu (herbalist) and Had Vaidu (Bonesetter) with some communities having male midwives.



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