IASCLUB Daily Current Affairs : 09 July 2019

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Karnataka offers quota for girl children of trafficked women

Topic: GS–II: Social Justice  

 All State-run universities in Karnataka will have to provide 1% reservation for girl children of women who were victims of sexual assault or were Devadasis.

More in news:

  • The Higher Education Department issued an order last week, which will have to be enforced by universities in the 2019-2020 academic year in all undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
  • The government’s decision is the result of a letter from the trustee of Odanadi Seva Samsthe, Mysuru, an NGO working for the rescue, rehabilitation, reintegration and empowerment of trafficked and sexually exploited women and children.

Academic reservation

  • The NGO sought academic reservation on the lines of that in the University of Mysore (UoM) for the academic development of victims of dowry harassment, sexual exploitation, trafficking and acid attack, in all State universities.
  • Since the 2011-12 academic year, students coming from Odanadi Seva Samsthe are being admitted in the UOM. The university admits two candidates for undergraduate programmes and one candidate for postgraduate programmes. These students are entitled to a 50% discount on their fees.
  • Universities, who recently received the order, are chalking out modalities on how to implement the reservation.
Devadasi System:

·         In South India, a devadasi is a girl “dedicated” to worship and serve a deity or a temple for the rest of her life. Devadasis are temple prostitute.The dedication takes place in a Pottukattu ceremony which is similar in some ways to marriage. In addition to taking care of the temple and performing rituals, these women also learned and practiced classical Indian artistic traditions like Bharatanatyam and Odissi dances.

·         After becoming Devadasis, these young women would spend their time learning religious rites, rituals and dance. They had children by high officials or priests who were also taught their skills of music or dance. Eminent personalities that have hailed from this community are Bharat Ratna recipient M S Subbalakshmi and Padma Vibhushan recipient Balasaraswathi.

·         During British rule, in the Indian subcontinent, kings who were the patrons of temples and temple arts lost their power. As a result, Devadasi were left without their traditional means of support and patronage. During colonial times, reformists worked towards outlawing the Devadasi tradition. Colonial views on Devadasi are hotly disputed by several groups and organizations in India and by western academics. The British were unable to distinguish the Devadasi from girls who danced in the streets for reasons other than spiritual devotion to the deity. This led to socio-economic deprivation and adoption of folk arts.

·         Recently, the Devadasi system has started to disappear, having been outlawed in all of India in 1988.

5 Northeast states in bottom 10

Topic: GS–II: Education, Human Resources

According to data from the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) for 2017-18 (provisional) tabled in Lok Sabha on Monday,less than two-thirds (63.14%) of the country’s schools have electricity connections.

  • All schools in three Union Territories — Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Lakshadweep — have a connection, followed by the states and UTs of Delhi (99.93%), Gujarat (99.91%), Puducherry, Tamil Nadu (99.55%), Punjab (99.55%), Goa (99.54%) and Daman & Diu (98.6%). At the other extreme are three Northeastern states — Assam (24.28%), Meghalaya (26.34%) and Tripura (31.11%). Two other Northeastern states — Arunachal Pradesh (37.5%) and Manipur (42.08%) — are in the bottom 10 (see bar graph).

  • The ministry reply said that under the erstwhile Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) until 2017-18 and the present Samagra Shiksha (effective from 2018-19), 1,95,519 government elementary schools have been provided internal electrification until March 2019. The ministry provided state-wise figures for the last three years (see table).

SC asks why the delay in setting up rights courts

 Topic: GS –II: Constitution and Polity

The Supreme Court on Monday sought a response from the Centre, the States and the Union Territories on the prolonged delay for over quarter of a decade to establish exclusive human rights courts in each district and appointing special public prosecutors in them.

More in news:

  • A Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi agreed to hear the petition. The Human Rights Act had called for the establishment of special courts in each district for speedy trial of human rights offences.
  • Section 30 of the Act envisages that a State government, with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of High Court, by notification, specify for each district a court of session as a court of human rights for the speedy trial of violation of rights. Whereas Section 31 of the Act provides the State government to specify and appoint a special public prosecutor in that court.

National repository of photographs mooted

 Topic: GS –II: Governance

 The Central government wants to create a “repository of photographs of criminals in the country,” and wants to put a system in place to track “missing children and unidentified dead bodies,” through facial recognition.

Bids invited

  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has invited bids for Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) that would even “capture face images from CCTV feed and generate alerts if a blacklist match is found”. To begin with, a repository of 1.5 crore ‘criminals’ is being planned. The data protection law is yet to be passed by Parliament but the bid document referred to this aspect.
  • The repository shall act as a foundation for a national level searchable platform of facial images and the data needs to be protected against following threats — unauthorised access to database or application, accidental modifications or deletions, confidentiality, integrity and availability breaches of data during data transport and physical storage, encryption/decryption engine,” the document uploaded by the NCRB on its website said.
  • The AFRS must allow the implementation of an access control policy based on the use of logins, passwords and/or fingerprint login, multi-layered security should be in place in order to access various features at the central server,” the document said.
  • The system would also enable handheld mobile with “applications to capture a face on the field and get the matching result from the backend server”.
  • The document said, “Facial recognition system shall be enabled at cameras identified by the authority. These cameras identified shall be installed at critical locations finalised by the authority.”

Rajya Sabha too clears Aadhaar Bill

Topic: GS –II: Constitution and Polity

Parliament cleared the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which allows voluntary use of Aadhaar as proof of identity to open bank accounts and get mobile phone connections.

More in news:

  • The Rajya Sabha cleared the Bill through a voice vote on Monday. It was cleared by the Lok Sabha on July 4.
  • However, the Opposition questioned the government’s “intentions” on clearing the Bill without first bringing in a law for data protection.
  • Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told that the legislation on data protection was a “work in progress”, and the government would bring in a comprehensive law after further consultations with the stakeholders.
  • He said that India in future would become a centre of data refinery and the government was taking due precaution in constructing the data protection law because the world was looking at India to take the lead on the issue. Mr. Prasad sought to remind the opposition that it was the Congress that had first brought in Aadhaar, but it had no legislative basis. To the allegation that the new law distorted the Supreme Court judgment, he said, “I would like to gently remind this House that the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have the right to undo a Supreme Court judgment.”
  • He said Aadhaar was completely safe and sound with all necessary encryption.
  • “No core biometric information collected or created for this act shall be shared with anyone for any reason whatsoever,” Mr. Prasad said, quoting from the legislation. The only exception will be made for reasons of national security, he said.
  • The Bill provides for a ₹1 crore penalty and a jail term for private entities violating provisions on Aadhaar data.

Impact:

  • The amendments would enable UIDAI to have a more robust mechanism to serve the public interest and restrain the misuse of Aadhaar. Subsequent to this amendment, no individual shall be compelled to provide proof of possession of Aadhaar number of undergo authentication for the purpose of establishing his identity unless it is so provided by a law made by Parliament.

Salient Features

  • Provides for voluntary use of Aadhaar number in physical or electronic form by authentication or offline verification with the consent of Aadhaar number holder;
  • Provides for use of twelve-digit Aadhaar number and its alternative virtual identity to conceal the actual Aadhaar number of an individual;
  • Gives an option to children who are Aadhaar number holders to cancel their Aadhaar number on attaining the age of eighteen years;
  • Permits the entities to perform authentication only when they are compliant with the standards of privacy and security specified by the Authority; and the authentication is permitted under any law made by Parliament or is prescribed to be in the interest of State by the Central Government;
  • Allows the use of Aadhaar number for authentication on voluntary basis as acceptable KYC document under the Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002.
  • Proposes deletion of section 57 of the Aadhaar Act relating to use of Aadhaar by private entities;
  • Prevents denial of services for refusing to, or being unable  to,   undergo authentication;
  • Provides for establishment of Unique Identification Authority of India Fund;
  • Provides for civil penalties, its adjudication, appeal thereof in regard to violations of Aadhaar Act and provisions by entities in the Aadhaar ecosystem.

UN report ‘legitimises’ terror, says India

Topic: GS –II: International relations

The UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) on Monday said India and Pakistan had failed to improve the situation in Kashmir and not taken any concrete steps to address the numerous concerns raised in its earlier report.

More in news:

  • Last year, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released its first-ever report on Kashmir, urging action by both countries to reduce tensions.
  • The update made wide ranging recommendations to the governments of India and Pakistan, and urged the Human Rights Council (HRC) to explore possibilities of setting up an international commission of inquiry into the allegations of human rights abuse in Kashmir.
  • India said the report had extended legitimacy to cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan. “It is a matter of deep concern that this update seems to accord a legitimacy to terrorism that is in complete variance with UN Security Council positions,” said External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar. He described the report as part of the continued “motivated narrative” against Indian sovereignty and integrity.

Policy distorted

  • India also said the update had distorted its policy on the Kashmir issue and failed to recognise that the Indian state ensured justice through a strong judiciary and a national human rights mechanism.
  • Kumar pointed out that the new report reflected a “prejudiced mindset” which chose to ignore the “comprehensive socio-economic development efforts undertaken by the government in the face of terrorist challenges”.
  • He said the report was crafted without taking into account the campaign by the Pakistan-backed terror outfits “… the update seems to be a contrived effort to create an artificial parity between the world’s largest and the most vibrant democracy and a country that openly practices state- sponsored terrorism,” it said.
  • The comprehensive report from the OHCHR said India continues to use pellet-firing shotguns as a crowd control tool and criticised various laws that used for detention and arrest of political activists and civil society figures in Kashmir.
  • The new report said the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) had chronicled 160 civilians killed in 2018, the highest in around a decade.

United Nations Human Rights Council:

·         The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a United Nations body whose mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world.

·         The UNHRC has 47 members elected for staggered three-year terms on a regional group basis.

·         The headquarters of UNHRC is in Geneva, Switzerland.

·         The UNHRC investigates allegations of breaches of human rights in UN member states, and addresses important thematic human rights issues such as freedom of association and assembly,freedom of expression,freedom of belief and religion,women’s rights,LGBT rights,and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.

·         The UNHRC was established by the UN General Assembly on March 15, 2006 (by resolution A/RES/60/251) to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR, herein CHR) that had been strongly criticised for allowing countries with poor human rights records to be members.

Odisha plans scheme for witness protection

Topic: GS –II: Governance

The Odisha government has come up with a special ‘Witness Protection Scheme’ to provide security to witnesses facing threat during the course of a legal battle.

More in news:

  • According to the notification, a district-level standing committee, chaired by a district and sessions judge, with the district police head as its member and the head of the prosecution in the district as its member secretary, will take a call on the need for protection.

Analysis report

  • The district police chief will submit a report with regard to the seriousness and credibility of the threat to the witness or his/her family members if the person applies in a prescribed form.
  • The report will detail the nature of the threat to the witness or his/her family members, their reputation or property. Besides, the intent and motive of the person issuing the threat and the resources available with him/her to execute it will figure in the analysis.
  • The threat analysis report, prepared with “full confidentiality”, will reach the competent authority “within five working days of its order for inquiry”.
  • Based on the report, the authority will pass an order for protection of identity of the witness.
  • The Witness Protection Cell will then ensure that the identities of the witness and his/her family members, including names, parentage, occupation, address and digital footprints, are fully protected
  • Provision of relocation of the witness to a safer place has also been made in the scheme.
  • In appropriate cases, where there is a request from the witness for change of identity, based on the threat analysis report, a decision can be taken to confer “a new identity upon the witness through a competent authority”.
  • A dedicated cell of the State police or Central police agencies will be assigned with the duty of implementing the witness protection order. The ‘Witness Protection Fund’ proposed to be created will bear the expenses incurred during the implementation of the protection order.
  • In case the witness has lodged a false complaint, the State home department could initiate proceedings for recovery of the expenditure from the applicant.

IIT design helps rural women in fabrication of beads

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

Rural women engaged in the fabrication of tulsi mala beads in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur district have received support from a technical design intervention by the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, which has helped improve their old machines.

More in news:

  • The new apparatus has increased production two-fold and added innovative features for designing and polishing.
  • Hundreds of women in Bharatpur district’s Kaman, Deeg, Nadbai and Sewar tehsils have been earning their livelihood since long by making tulsi malas which are supplied to the temple towns such as Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandgaon and Barsana, situated nearby. Regular religious events also ensure a good demand and consumption of tulsi malas throughout the year.
  • IIT-Delhi’s Rural Technology Action Group (RuTAG) took up a project with the help of the Bharatpur-based Lupin Foundation in 2012 for improving old devices used by women and evolved a new machine. In its latest initiative, RuTAG has made major changes in the apparatus by enhancing its speed, added new features and helped in its operation with a comfortable sitting posture.
  • The new machines have been designed with wooden boxes, in which other tools could also be kept, while a state-of-the-art technology had been used to add the utilities of designing and polishing. RuTAG has offered the machines to women of the region at a subsidised price of ₹5,500 each.

No major deficiency in 1,352 dams inspected, says report

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

The latest report on dam safety has stated there are 297 dams in Maharashtra with “rectifiable deficiencies” which need immediate attention and another 1,055 have minor issues.

More in news:

  • The report studied 1,352 of the 1,358 dams in the State.
  • Of the 297 dams with rectifiable deficiencies, 94 dams are above 30 metres in height and are termed as Class I structures while the remaining 203 are Class II with heights varying between 15 and 30 metres.
  • There are another 1,055 dams with minor deficiencies. Of these, 171 are above 30 metres and 884 are between 15 to 30 metres in height. There are no dams with major deficiency which would lead to failure.
  • All dams in the State are inspected twice a year, once before the monsoons between April and May and a second time around October 15 post-monsoon.
  • Dam safety in the State came back into focus sharply after Tiware dam, located in Chiplun tehsil of Ratnagiri district, breached late night on July 2, killing over 20 people.

RBI board finalises ‘Utkarsh 2022’

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) board, which met in New Delhi, finalised a three- year roadmap to improve regulation and supervision, among other functions of the central bank.

More in news:

  • This medium term strategy — named Utkarsh 2022 — is in line with the global central banks’ plan to strengthen the regulatory and supervisory mechanism, sources aware of the board meeting told The Hindu.
  • Worldwide, all central banks strengthen the regulatory and supervisory mechanism, everybody is formulating a long-term plan and a medium-term plan. So, the RBI has also decided it will formulate a pragramme to outline what is to be achieved in the next three years.
  • An internal committee was formed, which was anchored by outgoing Deputy Governor Viral Acharya, to identify issues that needed to be addressed over the next three years. While around a dozen areas were identified by the committee, some board members felt that areas could be filtered and lesser number of areas can be identified for implementation in the next three years.
  • The idea is that the central bank plays a proactive role and takes preemptive action to avoid any crisis

Where to plant a trillion trees to save planet: study maps all land available

Topic: GS-III: Environment

Restoration of forests has long been seen as a potential measure to combat climate change. The latest special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that an increase of 1 billion hectares of forest will be necessary to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2050. What has so far been unclear, however, is how much of this tree cover might be actually possible in the existing conditions on the planet.

  • Now, researchers have quantified how much land around the world is available for reforestation, as well as the extent of carbon emissions these would prevent from being released into the atmosphere.
  • Trees, which absorb carbon dioxide, are a natural sink for the gas emitted into the atmosphere. According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, trees absorb about 25% of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels, while the oceans absorb another 25%. The half that remains in the atmosphere contributes to global warming.

How they worked it out

  • The study, by researchers with the Crowther Lab of ETH Zurich university, has been published in the journal Science. On the basis of nearly 80,000 images from around the world, they calculated that around 0.9 billion hectares of land would be suitable for reforestation.
  • Earth’s continuous tree cover is currently 2.8 billion hectares, and the researchers calculated that the land available could support 4.4 billion hectares, or an additional 1.6 billion hectares. Out of this, 0.9 billion hectares — an area the size of the US — fulfil the criterion of not being used by humans, according to the paper.
  • These new forests, once mature, could store 205 billion tonnes of carbon, the researchers calculated. That is about two-thirds of the 300 billion tonnes of carbon that has been released into the atmosphere as a result of human activity since the industrial age.

Where’s that land?

  • In India, there is room for an estimated 9.93 million extra hectares of forest. India’s existing forest cover makes up 7,08,273 sq km (about 70.83 million hectares) and tree cover another 93,815 sq km (9.38 million hectares), according to the Environment and Forest Ministry’s ‘State of Forest Report 2017’.
  • The study found that the six countries with the greatest reforestation potential are Russia (151 million hectares); the US (103 million hectares); Canada (78.4 million hectares); Australia (58 million hectares); Brazil (49.7 million hectares); and China (40.2 million hectares).

Editorial section:

Reinforcing caste hierarchies – The Hindu

A shot at economic logic– The Hindu

A regrettable conviction– The Hindu

The importance of democratic education– The Hindu

 

A myopic view of foreign-made generic drugs– The Hindu

Towards a free trade agreement – The Hindu

 

 

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