PRELIMS & MAINS – 15/10/2018


Prelims

Windmills not so green for wildlife

(GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment versus development; Conservation of biodiversity)

News:

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  • The spinning turbines of windmills, touted as a safe source of renewable energy, may be a lurking danger to wildlife in forests. Apart from direct impact, blades of the turbines are driving away animals to the fringes of forests, and this might be leading to increased man-animal conflict.
  • A two-year research project by the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), commissioned by State government agencies, has found that not only do windmills lead to bird and bat mortalities through collisions, but also has made birds and mammals avoid these “noisy” patches.
  • “Such avoidance and movement to fringes might increase conflict with humans. This calls for a set of protocols and policy guidelines before diverting forest land for wind farms,”- Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL), and the National Institute of Wind Energy. 

Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON):

  • The Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) is a national centre for information, education and research in ornithology and natural history in India
  • Organisation established in 1990 as a public. Its headquarters are at Anaikatti, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India.
  • SACON policy is determined by a 16-member Governing Council. Its chairman is the secretary/additional secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Environment and Forests
  • Its president is the Minister for Environment and Forests. Administration of SACON is overseen by a 16-member governing council and implemented by the director incharge.

Know This:

  • The noise levels near windmills go up to 85 decibels (dB) , which operates day and night.
  • By comparison, noise in urban areas is 55 dB and even in industrial areas, is lower at 75dB.
  • Ambient noise in forests is less than 40 dB

Looking back at Verma report:

(GS Prelims and Mains II – Women issue; Role of Judiciary)

News:

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  • The Centre recently announced its plan to set up a panel of judges to look into the legal and institutional framework to curb sexual harassment at workplaces following the #MeToo campaign on social media.
  • The panel for the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill was formed in the aftermath of the December 16 Nirbhaya gangrape in 2012 and the ensuing nationwide protests, and submitted its report on January 23, 2013.
  • The Committee, chaired by Justice Verma and including Justice Leila Seth and senior lawyer Gopal Subramanium, termed the Sexual Harassment Bill “unsatisfactory”( not reflect the spirit of the Vishakha guidelines) — framed by the Supreme Court in 1997 to curb sexual harassment at the workplace.
  • The report noted that an internal complaints committee as laid down under then proposed law would be “counter-productive” as dealing with such complaints in-house could discourage women from filing complaints.
  • Instead, the committee proposed forming an employment tribunal to receive and adjudicate all complaints.

Stand of J S VERMA Committee:

  •  recommended setting up of an employment tribunal instead of an internal complaints committee (ICC) in sweeping changes to the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Bill.
  • To ensure speedy disposal of complaints, the Justice Verma Commitee proposed that the tribunal should not function as a civil court but may choose its own procedure to deal with each complaint.
  • The Verman panel also said that the time-limit of three months to file a complaint should be done away with and a complainant should not be transferred without her consent.

     

  • The panel also made several suggestions to encourage women to come forward and file complaints. For instance, it opposed penalising women for false complaints and called it an “abusive provision intended to nullify the objective of the law”.
  • The Verma panel said an employer could be held liable if he or she facilitated sexual harassment, permitted an environment where sexual misconduct becomes widespread and systemic, where the employer fails to disclose the company’s policy on sexual harassment and ways in which workers can file a complaint as well as fails to forward a complaint to the tribunal. The company would also be liable to pay compensation to the complainant

Govt. notifies relief for sexual abuse victims:

(GS Prelims and Mains II – Women issue; Role of Judiciary)

News:

  • The scheme provides funds for the purpose of compensation to women victims or their dependants who have suffered loss or injury as a result of the offence committed and to those who require rehabilitation.
  • Survivors and their dependants could apply for compensation before the Tamil Nadu Legal Services Authority (TNSLSA) or the respective District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) with the police FIR
  • Survivors and their dependants could apply for compensation before the Tamil Nadu Legal Services Authority (TNSLSA) or the respective District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) with the police FIR
  • In case of a minor, 80% of the amount of compensation awarded would be deposited in a fixed deposit and shall be drawn only on attainment of the age of majority of the survivor.

Need for proper definition of Shell companies

(GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy; basic economic terminologies)

About:

Concern with definition of Shell Companies

  • As multiple agencies and regulators probe the suspected use of ‘only-on-paper’ firms for financial irregularities, the government is looking to put in place a proper definition for ‘shell companies’ so that investigations are not hampered and prosecution can withstand scrutiny in courts of law.
  • The issue had come up after the government cracked down on dummy companies that were used for round-tripping of funds and money laundering.

Current definition for ‘shell companies’ — a term generally used for companies that are set up for financial manoeuvrings only or are kept dormant for some future use.

Officials express that these companies generally exist only on paper and may be used for nefarious activities. Therefore, definition of shell companies should be in line with OECD definition –

  • OECD defines a shell company as ‘being formally registered, incorporated or otherwise legally organised in an economy but which does not conduct any operations in that economy other than in a pass-through capacity’.

India-U.S. tri-services exercise

(GS Prelims and Mains II – International Relations; India and the World; Defence)

News:

  • The first India-U.S. tri-services exercise is likely to take place in 2019.
  • Talks are on to include the special forces of the two countries in the drill.

Know This:

  • The three forces of each country already take part in bilateral exercises separately —

(i) their Armies participate in an annual drill called Yudh Abyaas, whose latest edition took place in September, and

(ii) the Air Forces take part in a bilateral drill called Cope India

(iii) The Navies participate in an exercise called Malabar, involving Japan.

But this will be the first time, the three services of India and the U.S. will participate in a drill together.

The Indian Army has Para SF, the Navy has Marcos while the Air Force has the Garud as their respective special forces.


MAINS


NATIONAL/AGRICULTURE

TOPIC:

General Studies 1

  • Role of women and women’s organization,
  • Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues,

General Studies 3

  • Agriculture and issues related to it

Helping the invisible hands of agriculture

Introduction

  • October 15 is observed, respectively, as International Day of Rural Women by the United Nations and National Women’s Farmer’s Day (Rashtriya Mahila Kisan Diwas) in India.
  • In 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare decided to take the lead in celebrating the event, duly 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.

Data and reality

  • According to Oxfam India, women are responsible for about 60-80% of food and 90% of dairy production, respectively.
  • The Agriculture Census (2010-11) shows that out of an estimated 118.7 million cultivators, 30.3% were females.
  • Similarly, out of an estimated 144.3 million agricultural labourers, 42.6% were females.
  • In terms of ownership of operational holdings, according to Agriculture Census (2015-16), Out of a total 146 million operational holdings, the percentage share of female holders is 13.87% (20.25 million), a nearly one percentage increase over five years.
  • The work by women farmers, in crop cultivation, livestock management or at home, often goes unnoticed.
  • 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.

CONCERNS AND THEIR SOLUTIONS:

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.
  • Land holdings have doubled over the years with the result that the average size of farms has shrunk.
  • Therefore, a majority of farmers fall under the small and marginal category, having less than 2 ha of land — a category that, undisputedly, includes women farmers.
  • A declining size of land holdings may act as a deterrent due to lower net returns earned and technology adoption.

Solutions

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

Gender-friendly machinery

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

Solutions

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

Access to resources

  • When compared to men, 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%.

Solution

  • 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.

Conclusion

  • As more women are getting into farming, the foremost task for their sustenance is to assign property rights in land.
  • Paying lip service to them is not going to alleviate their labour work and hardships in the fields.
  • Once women farmers are listed as primary earners and owners of land assets, acceptance will ensue and their activities will expand to acquiring loans, deciding 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.

NATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 2 & 3

  • Services related to health
  • Government policies and issues arising out of their design and implementation
  • Science and technology
Resisting resistance

Introduction

Even as antibiotics lose their efficacy against deadly infectious diseases worldwide, it seems to be business as usual for governments, private corporations and individuals who have the power to stall a post-antibiotic apocalypse.

A case of veterinary use of antibiotics

  • The world’s largest veterinary drug-maker, Zoetis, was selling antibiotics as growth promoters to poultry farmers in India, even though it had stopped the practice in the U.S.
  • India is yet to regulate antibiotic-use in poultry, while the U.S. banned the use of antibiotics as growth-promoters in early 2017.
  • So, technically, the drug-maker was doing nothing illegal and complying with local regulations in both countries.

Concerns

  • Antibiotic-resistance does not respect political boundaries. Of course, the country that stands to lose the most from antibiotic resistance isIndia, given that its burden of infectious disease is among the world’s highest.
  • According to a 2016 PLOS Medicinepaper, 416 of every 100,000 Indians die of infectious diseases each year.
  • This is more than twice the U.S.’s crude infectious-disease mortality-rate in the 1940s, when antibiotics were first used there.
  • If these miracle drugs stop working, no one will be hit harder than India.
  • This is why the country’s progress towards a tighter regulatory regime must pick up pace.

Antibiotics regulations in India

  • There are three major sources of resistance: overuse of antibiotics by human beings; overuse in the veterinary sector; and environmental antibiotic contamination due to pharmaceutical and hospital discharge.
  • To tackle the first source, India classified important antibiotics under Schedule H1 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945, so that they couldn’t be sold without prescriptions.
  • Still, Schedule H1 drugs are freely available in pharmacies, with state drug-controllers unable to enforce the law widely.
  • As far as veterinary use goes, India’s 2017 National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance did talk about restricting antibiotic use as growth promoters.
  • Sadly, no progress has been made on this front yet, allowing companies to sell last-resort drugs to farmers over the counter.
  • The 2017 document also spoke about regulating antibiotics levels in discharge from pharmaceutical firms.
  • For instance, Hyderabad’s pharmaceutical industry has been pumping massive amounts of antibiotics into local lakes, rivers and sewers. This has led to an explosion in resistance genes in these waterbodies.
  • Still, India is yet to introduce standards for antibiotics in waste water, which means antibiotic discharge in sewage is not even being monitored regularly.

Conclusion

  • As the country takes its time to formulate regulations, the toll from antibiotic-misuse is growing at an alarming rate.
  • According to a 2013 estimate, around 58,000 newborns die in India each year due to sepsis from resistant bacteria.
  • When these numbers mount, India will have no one to blame but itself.

TODAY’S READ

Resisting resistance: on antibiotic misuse (THE HINDU)

Helping the invisible hands of agriculture  (The Hindu)

Resisting resistance: on antibiotic misuse (The Hindu)

When the judiciary rewrites a faith (The Hindu)

Bonding with Africa, in partnership (The Hindu)


HAPPY PREPARATION!!!