12 October, 2020
- Self Assessment Speed Test
- Blue Flag tag for Kasarkod, Padubidri beaches - (Environment & Ecology)
- Paper-strip virus test to be out soon: Vardhan - (Science & Technology)
- Crime against women(DATA POINT) - (Polity and Governance)
- At 15, RTI Act crippled by huge backlog - (Polity and Governance)
- School closure may cost India dear - (Polity and Governance)
- Question of the day (Polity and Governance)
UPSC Current Affairs: ‘Blue Flag’ tag for Kasarkod, Padubidri beaches – Pg 8
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Environment | Mains – GS Paper III – Environment
Sub Theme: Blue Flag Tag | UPSC
India finally has made it to the list of nations with Blue Flag beaches. The Blue Flag beaches are considered cleanest beaches in the world.
India’s eight beaches are to receive the certification
- Shivrajpur (Gujarat)
- Ghoghla (Diu)
- Kasarkod (Karnataka)
- Padubidri (Karnataka)
- Kappad (Kerala)
- Rushikonda (Andhra)
- Golden (Odisha) and
- Radhanagar (Andaman).
About Blue flag certification
- The ‘Blue Flag’ is a kind of eco-label, indicating high environmental and quality standards.
- The certification is awarded by the Denmark-based non-profit Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
- It can be voluntarily obtained by a beach, marina, or sustainable boating tourism operator, and serves as an eco-label.
- In order to qualify for the Blue Flag, a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria must be met and maintained.
- Central to the ideals of the Blue Flag programme is the aim of connecting the public with their surroundings and encouraging them to learn more about their environment. As such, environmental education activities must be offered and promoted in addition to a permanent display of information relevant to the site in terms of biodiversity, ecosystems and environmental phenomena.
- Thus far, the international jury has awarded the Blue Flag certification to 4664 beaches, marinas and boats from 46 countries have got the Blue Flag certification.
- Spain has the highest number of Blue Flag tagged sites.
India launched its own eco-label – BEAMS–Beach Environment and Aesthetics Management Services- under its Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) project.
In January 2020, Centre issued an Extraordinary Gazette Notification declaring a list of activities and facilities that would be permissible in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) areas of certain beaches, which have been identified for obtaining the ‘Blue Flag’ certification.
Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM)
The concept of ICZM was introduced in 1992 during the Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro and most of the coastal countries in the World have been adopting ICZM principles for managing their coastal zones.
The MoEFCC had launched an Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP) by establishing a Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM).
Environmental education in India
Environment Education Awareness and Training (EEAT)
- In 1983-84, the Environment Education Awareness and Training (EEAT) was launched by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) as the central sector scheme.It aims to promote environmental awareness among all sections of the society and to mobilize people's participation for conservation of environment.
- Its objectives are achieved through the implementation of four programmes:
- National Green Corps (NGC)
- National Environment Awareness Campaign
- Seminars/Workshops, and
- National Nature Camping Programme
- Under National Green Corps (NGC), the Ecoclub programme was initiated in 2001-2002.
- To impart knowledge to school children through hands on experience, about their immediate environment.
- To inculcate compassion among people towards environment and sensitize children on issues related to environment and development.
- To build young cadres of students and trigger their sensitivity towards environment protection and conservation.
Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) is an international environmental science and education programme.The MoEFCC and US Government signed an agreement in August 2000 to implement the Globe programme in India.
- People’s participation in environmental conservation is legally recognised in India.
]UPSC Current Affairs: Paper-strip virus test to be out soon: Vardhan |Pg 1
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: General Science | Mains: GS Paper III – Science & Technology
Sub Theme: FELUDA | SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis | UPSC
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said his Ministry would soon roll out the FELUDA paper-strip test for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis.
- This has been developed by the CSIR-IGIB and approved by the Drug Controller General of India for a commercial launch.
- The test showed 96% sensitivity (% of positive results for positive samples) and 98% specificity (% of negative sample for negative result).
- This compares favourably to the ICMR’s current acceptation criteria of RT-PCR kit of at least 95% sensitivity and at least 99% specificity.
- FELUDA kit takes 45 mins to give result. RT-PCR takes 1.5 hours. Rapid Antigen test takes 30-40 mins. TruNat gives result in 60 mins.
- It uses indigenously developed CRISPR gene-editing technologyto identify and target the genetic material of SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes Covid-19.'Feluda' is also the world's first diagnostic test to deploy a specially adapted Cas9 protein to successfully detect the virus.
UPSC Current Affairs: DATA POINT - Crime against women |Pg 7
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Social Issues | Mains: GS Paper-II – Social Issues
Sub Theme: Crime Against Women| NCRB Data | UPSC
NCRB data on crime against women
- In a majority of States, <60% of cases involving victims from the Scheduled Castes were charge sheeted by the police in 2019.
- Only 40% of such cases tried in court resulted in convictions in most States. Such low rates were observed in rape cases too.
- The overall growth in instances of rape has declined over the past four years in India. However, rapes in which victims were from the Scheduled Castes have seen a sharp increase in recent years.
- In 2019, police closed 8% of all rape cases as "false cases*". The share of such cases in which the victims were from the Scheduled Castes was 6.7%. Thus, the common perception that cases filed under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act are mostly false allegations is untrue.
- The chart below plots the share of cases in which the police filed a charge sheet against the share of cases resulting in a conviction, for crimes committed against women. For instance, in Chhattisgarh, 66% of cases were charge sheeted, and 32% of cases tried in court resulted in a conviction.
- The chart plots the share of cases in which the police filed a charge sheet against the share of cases resulting in a conviction, for crimes involving victims from the Scheduled Castes.
UPSC Current Affairs: At 15, RTI Act crippled by huge backlog |Pg 9
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Polity & Governance | Mains: GS Paper-II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Backlog in RTI Appeals| UPSC
Context: This news highlight about pending RTI cases at respective State Information Commissions and Central Information Commission. The problem with most of the State Commissions is that they are functioning at a reduced capacity with less number of Information Commissioners. Even the Central Information Commission (CIC has been without a Chief since August. So, at the current rate of disposal of RTI cases, it will take years for the Information Commission to solve all the pending cases. In this backdrop, let us understand about the Appeal Mechanism of State and Central Information Commission.
Central Information Commission
The Central Information Commission shall consist of –
- the Chief Information Commissioner; and
- such number of Central Information Commissioners, not exceeding ten, as may be deemed necessary
State Information Commission
- Every State Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute a State Information Commission to exercise the powers conferred on, and to perform the functions assigned to, it under this Act.
- The State Information Commission shall consist of
- the State Chief Information Commissioner, and
- such number of State Information Commissioners, not exceeding ten, as may be deemed necessary.
Let us understand about filing of RTI and till when the PUBLIC AUTHORITIES is supposed to give information as per Right to Information Act, 2005.
A person who desires to obtain any specific or particular information under this act, shall make a request in writing or through electronic means in English, Hindi or in official language of the area where the application is made with an accompanying fee to:
- Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) or State Public Information Officer (SPIO); or
- Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer
An applicant shall not have to give the reason for which information is sought. CPIO on receipt of the application for information within 30 days can either provide information or reject the request for such information.
However, if information sought for concerns the life or liberty of a person, the same shall be provided within 48 hours of the receipt of the request.
- who does not receive a decision within 30 days of his/her RTI application, or
- is aggrieved by a decision of the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer
may after expiring of 30 days, prefer an appeal to an officer who is senior to CPIO or SPIO.
- A second appeal lies within 90 days of from the date on which the decision should have been made or was actually received.
- The Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, may admit the appeal after the expiry of the period of ninety days if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time.
Decisions of Central Information Commission or State Information Commission
- The decision of the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission shall be binding. In its decision, the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, has the power to
- require the public authority to take any such steps as may be necessary to secure compliance with the provisions of this Act, including— (i) by providing access to information, if so requested, in a particular form; (ii) by appointing a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be; (iii) by publishing certain information or categories of information; (iv) by making necessary changes to its practices in relation to the maintenance, management and destruction of records; (v) by enhancing the provision of training on the right to information for its officials; (vi) by providing it with an annual report
- require the public authority to compensate the complainant for any loss or other detriment suffered.
- impose any of the penalties provided under this Act;
- reject the application.
No such records asked for by the Commission can be withheld by any public authority.
UPSC Current Affairs: School closure may cost India dear |Pg 10
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Social Issues, Rights Issues | Mains: GS Paper-II – Social Issues
Sub Theme: Impact of School Closure |UPSC
The extended closure of schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic could dent India’s future earnings by anywhere between $420 billion and $600 billion, as depleted learning levels of students will translate into poorer productivity going forward, according to recently released World Bank report titled “Beaten or broken: Informality and COVID-19”. Warning that as many as 5.5 million students could drop out of schools across South Asia, the bank has said dropouts, combined with substantial learning losses for those who remain enrolled in schools, would cost South Asia as much as $622 billion in future earnings and gross domestic product. This figure could climb further to $880 billion, as per a more pessimistic scenario envisaged by the bank on the lifetime impact of school closures on the productivity of this generation of students.
- South Asian governments spend only $400 billion a year on primary and secondary education, so the total loss in economic output would be substantially higher.
- While the regional loss is largely driven by India, all countries will lose substantial shares of their GDP. The average child in South Asia may lose $4,400 in lifetime earnings once having entered the labour market, equivalent to 5% of total earnings.
- The report has flagged “far-reaching consequences” of lockdowns, apart from the obvious damage to businesses, consumption patterns and imposed social hardship on poor and vulnerable households, especially urban migrants and informal workers
“Education came to a standstill and efforts to teach children during school closures proved challenging. The estimated costs of the school closures in terms of learning and earning losses are substantial. 391 million students were out of school in primary and secondary education, further complicating efforts to resolve the learning crisis.
Remote learning tough
- Children have been out of school for approximately five months. Being out of school for that long means that children not only stop learning new things, they also forget some of what they have learned.
- Engaging children through remote learning programmes had been difficult, despite most governments’ best efforts to mitigate the impact of school closures.
- The projected learning loss for the region is 0.5 years of learning-adjusted years of schooling at present, and this will already lead to substantial future earning losses, the bank estimated.
- Labour productivity will also take a greater hit from COVID-19 than most previous natural disasters, not just due to the disruptions in training and education.
- “First, the increased integration of the global economy will amplify the adverse impact of COVID-19. Second, contagion prevention and physical distancing may render some activities, for example the hospitality sector, unviable unless they are radically transformed, which will take time. Even in less directly affected sectors such as manufacturing, banking and business, severe capacity underutilisation lowers total factor productivity while restrictions to stem the spread of the pandemic remain in place. Finally, disruptions to training, schooling and other education in the event of severe income losses, even once restrictions are lifted, will also lower human capital and labour productivity over the long term,” the report concluded.