Current Affairs, 17 October 2018

Current Affairs, 17 October 2018


 

G.S Paper 1:

Topic: Women and related issues.

 

POCSO Act

What to study?

  • For Prelims: POCSO Act provisions.
  • For Mains: Sexual abuse of children- prevention and need for stringent provisions.

 

Context: The government has clarified that there is no time bar on reporting crimes related to child sexual abuse. Survivors of child sexual abuse can file a police complaint after they become adults.

  • The Ministry of Law, after examining the provisions of POCSO Act vis-à-vis provisions of CrPC, has advised that there appears no period of limitation mentioned in Section 19 in regard to reporting of the offences under the POCSO Act, 2012.

 

Legal provisions:

Section 19 of the POCSO Act, which deals with sexual crimes against children, lays down the procedure for reporting a crime but doesn’t specify a time limit or statute of limitation for reporting it.

Whereas the CrPC lays down different time-limits for crimes which carry a punishment of up to three years, there is no time bar for crimes that would attract a jail term of more than three years.

 

Significance:

This is an important step for survivors of child abuse, who may try to file a complaint as adults but are turned away at police stations.

The development assumes significance after considering the fact that on many occasions children are unable to report crimes that they suffered as the perpetrator in many cases happens to be from the family itself or any other known person. Several cases have been reported where the victims have grown up and understood the crime.

 

POCSO Act:

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 was formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.

Role of police: The Act casts the police in the role of child protectors during the investigative process. Thus, the police personnel receiving a report of sexual abuse of a child are given the responsibility of making urgent arrangements for the care and protection of the child, such as obtaining emergency medical treatment for the child and placing the child in a shelter home, and bringing the matter in front of the CWC, should the need arise.

Safeguards: The Act further makes provisions for avoiding the re-victimisation of the child at the hands of the judicial system. It provides for special courts that conduct the trial in-camera and without revealing the identity of the child, in a manner that is as child-friendly as possible. Hence, the child may have a parent or other trusted person present at the time of testifying and can call for assistance from an interpreter, special educator, or other professional while giving evidence. Above all, the Act stipulates that a case of child sexual abuse must be disposed of within one year from the date the offence is reported.

Mandatory reporting: The Act also provides for mandatory reporting of sexual offences. This casts a legal duty upon a person who has knowledge that a child has been sexually abused to report the offence; if he fails to do so, he may be punished with six months’ imprisonment and/ or a fine.

Definitions: The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age. It defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography. It deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor.

 

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2:

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

 

Swasth Bharat Yatra national campaign

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Highlights and significance of the campaign, about World Food Day.
  • For Mains: Generic medicines- popularity, challenges and potential.

 

Context: Union Government has launched national campaign ‘Swasth Bharat Yatra’ on occasion of World Food Day (16 October) to sensitise people about eating safe food and be healthy. The campaign has been launched in association with states and led by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

 

About Swasth Bharat Yatra national campaign:

Under it, pan-India cycle rally is being organized to create consumer awareness about eating safe and nutritious food for becoming healthy and combating food adulteration.

  • In this rally, about 7,500 cyclists are expected to participate in over 18,000 km travelling across six tracks through almost every state and UT over 100 days to propagate a powerful message ‘Eat Right India’.
  • This campaign will not only mobilise masses but also create large pool of local community to sustain this movement.

 

World Food Day:

World Food Day is celebrated on October 16 every year to raise awareness on the issues of poverty and hunger. World Food Day was established by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in November 1979 and since then the day is celebrated worldwide by many organisations that are concerned with food security.

2018 theme: “OUR ACTIONS ARE OUR FUTURE. A #ZERO HUNGER WORLD BY 2030 IS POSSIBLE”.

 

About FAO:

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy.

 

Sources: pib.


Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

 

Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP)

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Features of PMBJP and Janaushadhi Suvidha.
  • For Mains: Health facilities for the underprivileged- need and efforts by the government, generic medicines and their increasing popularity worldwide.

 

Context: Central Warehouse of Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana has been set up at Bilaspur, Gurugram. It has been setup by the Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI).

  • The hi-tech Central Warehouse would facilitate seamless distribution of Jan Aushadhi generic medicines to all PMBJP Kendra functional across the country.

 

About PMBJP:

‘Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana’ is a campaign launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Govt. Of India, to provide quality medicines at affordable prices to the masses through special kendra’s known as Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendra.

Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendra (PMBJK) have been set up to provide generic drugs, which are available at lesser prices but are equivalent in quality and efficacy as expensive branded drugs.

Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) is the implementing agency of PMBJP. BPPI (Bureau of Pharma Public Sector Undertakings of India) has been established under the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Govt. of India, with the support of all the CPSUs.

 

What is a Generic Medicine?

Generic medicines are unbranded medicines which are equally safe and having the same efficacy as that of branded medicines in terms of their therapeutic value. The prices of generic medicines are much cheaper than their branded equivalent.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

 

Ask Disha

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: About Ask Disha- features and significance.

 

Context: Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has launched Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered chatbot– Ask Disha ((Digital Interaction to Seek Help Anytime) to help its users answer various queries.

 

About Ask Disha:

  • The chatbot is special computer programme designed to simulate conversation with users, especially over the internet.
  • The first-of-its-kind initiative by IRCTC is aimed at facilitating accessibility by answering users’ queries pertaining to various services offered to railway passengers.
  • The chatbot is voice enabled and will support several regional languages in the near future. It will offer greatly improved and intuitive customer support by answering customer queries pertaining to all aspects of the services that IRCTC provides.
  • The essential features of AskDisha include ability to quickly answer to customer queries, ability to provide round-the-clock customer support, ability to multitask, zero waiting time for query to get answered and overall ability to provide customer with stress-free experience and overall customer satisfaction.

 

Sources: pib.


Topic: e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

 

#Self4Society app

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Features and significance of the app.

 

Context: #Self4Society app, developed by MyGov, has been launched by the government to help coordinate volunteer work undertaken by professionals.

 

About #Self4Society App:

  • This platform will help to create better synergies among so many CSR and other initiatives and lead to a much better outcome of the efforts of professionals.
  • Companies have observed that a spirit of service and volunteering improves employee satisfaction and reduces employee attrition.
  • The app will have incentives, gamification and intra- and inter-company competitions, and social networking.
  • The volunteer time for the government’s flagship programmes such as Swachh Bharat is expected to increase.

 

Sources: pib.


Paper 3:

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

 

Unified payments interface (UPI)

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Features and significance of UPI, how it operates.

 

Context: The Reserve Bank of India has released the guidelines for interoperability between prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) such as wallets and cards that will effectively allow users of popular payment wallets such as Paytm, Freecharge, Mobikwik, PhonePe and PayZapp, among others, to transfer money from one wallet to another.

  • As per the guidelines, where PPIs are issued in the form of wallets, interoperability across PPIs shall be enabled through UPI and Where PPIs are issued in the form of cards, the cards shall be affiliated to the authorised card networks.

 

Significance:

The guidelines, while boosting the e-wallet segment, would also ensure the safety and accuracy of the transfer of money by individuals from one wallet to another.

The interoperability amongst PPIs is going to significantly boost the e-wallet industry. The guidelines would also ensure that not only the customer’s money remains safe but when the transition happens from one e-wallet app to another, it reflects utmost speed and accuracy for the interoperability to be effective and efficient.

 

What exactly is UPI?

The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a system developed by the NPCI and the RBI to aid instant transfer of money using a cashless system. Using UPI services, one just requires a smartphone and a banking app to send and receive money instantly or to pay a merchant for retail purchase. In the long run, UPI is likely to replace the current NEFT, RTGS, and IMPS systems as they exist today.

 

The UPI ecosystem functions with three key players:

  • Payment service providers (PSPs) to provide the interface to the payer and the payee. Unlike wallets, the payer and the payee can use two different PSPs.
  • Banks to provide the underlying accounts. In some cases, the bank and the PSP may be the same.
  • NPCI to act as the central switch by ensuring VPA resolution, effecting credit and debit transactions through IMPS.

 

How does it work?

UPI, built on IMPS, allows a payment directly and immediately from bank account. There is no need to pre-load money in wallets. It allows payments to different merchants without the hassle of typing one’s card details or net-banking password.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims:

 

Indian Silk Export Promotion Council (ISEPC):

Context: 6th India International Silk Fair (IISF), organized by Indian Silk Export Promotion Council, is being held in New Delhi. The fair will give a platform to exporters to display their products and to overseas buyers an opportunity to place orders and source their merchandise.

Background: India is the second largest producer of silk in the world. The country’s silk industry is agriculture based and labour intensive and provides gainful employment to around eight million artisans and weavers in rural areas.

About The Indian Silk Export Promotion Council:

  • The Indian Silk Export Promotion Council (ISEPC) was set up in 1983 as a company not for profit under Companies Act duly sponsored by the Government of India in the Ministry of Textiles.
  • ISEPC works closely with the Government of India on policy formulation concerning silk sector and provides specialized services to the entrepreneurs enlarging global business opportunities for the silk industry in India.

 

UP Cabinet approves changing name of Allahabad to ‘Prayagraj’:

The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet has approved the proposal of the state government to rename the city of ‘Allahabad’ as ‘Prayagraj’. The decision has been vehemently opposed by the opposition parties.

 

Background:

  • The city of Allahabad was originally known as Prayag in ancient times. Between 1574 and 1583, the 16th-century Mughal emperor Akbar founded a fort near the confluence of the Ganga and the Yamuna, known as Sangam, as he was impressed with its strategic position.
  • Hence, Akbar named the fort and its neighbourhood as Ilahabad, which meant the “Abode of God”, inspired by the religion he had founded, Din-i-Illahi. In the later years, Akbar’s grandson Shah Jahan renamed the entire city as Allahabad. However, the area near the Sangam, which is the site of the Kumbh Mela, continued to be called Prayag.

Editorial: Helping the invisible hands of agriculture


Context:

Since 2017, October 15 is celebrated as Rashtriya Mahila Kisan Diwas in India. UN observed this day as International Day of Rural Women by the United Nations.

In 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare decided to take the lead in celebrating the event, recognising the multidimensional role of women at every stage in agriculture  from sowing to planting, drainage, irrigation, fertilizer, plant protection, harvesting, weeding, and storage.

This year, the Ministry has proposed deliberations to discuss the challenges that women farmers face in crop cultivation, animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries.

The aim is to work towards an action plan using better access to credit, skill development and entrepreneurial opportunities.

 

Women in Agriculture:

  • The Agriculture Census (2010-11) shows that out of an estimated 118.7 million cultivators, 3% were females.
  • According to Oxfam India, women are responsible for about 60-80% of food and 90% of dairy production, respectively.

 

  • Similarly, out of an estimated 144.3 million agricultural labourers, 6% were females.
  • According to Census 2011, there has been a 24% increase in the number of female agricultural labourers between 2001 and 2011.

 

  • As per Census 2011, out of total female main workers, 55% were agricultural labourers and 24% cultivators.
  • Participation of both men and women in agriculture has declined, but the rate of decline has been faster among men than it has among women.

 

  • Decline among women has been specifically in relation to their roles as cultivators, however their numbers as agricultural labourers have increased.

 

Women’s work goes on Unnoticed:

The work by women farmers, in crop cultivation, livestock management or at home, often goes unnoticed.

Rural women are engaged in agricultural activities in three different ways depending on the socio-economic status: They are work as:

Agricultural Labourers or as Cultivator doing labour on their own land or as Managers of certain aspects of agricultural production by way of labour supervision and the participation in post-harvest operations.

Attempts by the government to impart them training in poultry, apiculture and rural handicrafts is trivial given their large numbers.

In order to sustain women’s interest in farming and also their uplift, there must be a vision backed by an appropriate policy and doable action plans.

While the “feminisation of agriculture” is taking place at a fast pace, the government has yet to gear up to address the challenges that women farmers and labourers face.

 

Issue of land ownership:

The biggest challenge is the powerlessness of women in terms of claiming ownership of the land they have been cultivating.

In Census 2015, almost 86% of women farmers are devoid of this property right in land perhaps on account of the patriarchal set up in our society.

Notably, a lack of ownership of land does not allow women farmers to approach banks for institutional loans as banks usually consider land as collateral.

As of now, women farmers have hardly any representation in society and are nowhere discernible in farmer’s organisations or in occasional protests. They are the invisible workers without which the agricultural economy is hard to grow.

declining size of land holdings may act as a deterrent due to lower net returns earned and technology adoption.

 

Solution for land ownership Issues:

Research worldwide shows that women with access to secure land, formal credit and access to market have greater propensity in making investments in improving harvest, increasing productivity, and improving household food security and nutrition.

Provision of credit without collateral under the micro-finance initiative of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development should be encouraged.

Better access to credit, technology, and provision of entrepreneurship abilities will further boost women’s confidence and help them gain recognition as farmers.

The possibility of collective farming can be encouraged to make women self-reliant. Training and skills imparted to women as has been done by some self-help groups and cooperative-based dairy activities (Saras in Rajasthan and Amul in Gujarat).

These can be explored further through farmer producer organisations. Moreover, government flagship schemes such as the National Food Security Mission, Sub-mission on Seed and Planting Material and the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana must include women-centric strategies and dedicated expenditure.

 

Female Farmers: Labour Intensive Tasks as well as Household Activities:

Female cultivators and labourers generally perform labour-intensive tasks (hoeing, grass cutting, weeding, picking, cotton stick collection, looking after livestock).

In addition to working on the farm, they have household and familial responsibilities.

Despite more work (paid and unpaid) for longer hours when compared to male farmers, women farmers can neither make any claim on output nor ask for a higher wage rate.

An increased work burden with lower compensation is a key factor responsible for their marginalisation.

 

Gender-Friendly tools and train Women Farmers about Innovative Technologies:

It is important to have gender-friendly tools and machinery for various farm operations. Most farm machinery is difficult for women to operate.

Manufacturers should be incentivised to come up with better solutions. Farm machinery banks and custom hiring centres promoted by many State governments can be roped in to provide subsidised rental services to women farmers.

Women generally have less access to resources and modern inputs (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides) to make farming more productive.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation says that equalising access to productive resources for female and male farmers could increase agricultural output in developing countries by as much as 2.5% to 4%.

Krishi Vigyan Kendras in every district can be assigned an additional task to educate and train women farmers about innovative technology along with extension services.

 

Way Forward:

As more women are getting into farming, the foremost task for their sustenance is to assign property rights in land.

Once women farmers are listed as primary earners and owners of land assets, acceptance will ensue and their activities will expand to acquiring loans.

Then they can decide the crops to be grown using appropriate technology and machines, and disposing of produce to village traders or in wholesale markets, thus elevating their place as real and visible farmers.

To achieve the full economic benefit from employment, rural women should be provided a greater choice over their occupations so that they are not forced to do the work left behind by men.

It is thus important to have overall women empowerment through education, awareness and doing away with gender biases.

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