03 December, 2020 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu

  • PTS programme announcement
  • Mains Assignment Questions announcement
  • There has never been a woman CJI, says A-G (Polity & Governance)
  • Questionable data, little room for exuberance (Indian Economy)
  • Castes count - (Social Justice)
  • Isaac issue sent to ethics panel- (Polity & Governance)
  • A looming health crisis (reference) - (Social Justice + Science & technology)
  • Question for the day (Indian Economy)

Prelims Quiz

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    UPSC Current Affairs: There has never been a woman CJI, says A-G  | Page 09

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – Polity & Governance and Social Justice

    Sub Theme: Poor Representation of Women in Judiciary | UPSC

    Attorney-General (AG) K.K. Venugopal was requested by the Supreme Court to assist it in a case from the Madhya Pradesh High Court. This court had recently passed an order granting bail to an alleged sexual molester. The conditions for grant of bail included visiting his victim at her home, tying a rakhi on her hand and giving money and sweets to her and her son. 

    Eight women lawyers of the Supreme Court had brought this order to the attention of the top court. They had challenged the High Court’s ‘trivialisation’ of the victim’s trauma.

    AG said judges need to be trained to place themselves in the shoes of the victim of sexual violence while passing orders. He suggested ways to gender-sensitise judges. He pointed to the dearth of compulsory courses on gender sensitisation in law schools.

    AG gave out the numbers on women judges in higher judiciary

    • SC has only two women judges as against a sanctioned strength of 34 judges.
    • There has never been a female Chief Justice.
    • There are only 80 women judges out of the sanctioned strength of 1,113 judges in the High Courts, comprising only 7.2% of the number of judges.
    • There are six High Courts — Manipur, Meghalaya, Patna, Tripura, Telangana, and Uttarakhand — where there are no sitting women judges.

    Additional information

    • It took four decades after independence for Supreme Court to have its first women judge (Justice Fathima Beevi was the first female judge of the Supreme Court of India)
    • Women designated as senior lawyers are lower than men.
    • The picture is grim in 12 bar councils of India also. No chairperson or vice-chairperson of a bar council in Indi has been a woman.
    • There are few women heading law firms.

     Importance of women reservation in India

    • An increased presence of women on the Bench would definitely expand the jurisprudence to be more inclusive, equal, and just. Lack of women in courts lead to questions of the courts’ legitimacy as representative of the societies they serve.
    • More women judges in constitutional courts would certainly improve gender sensitivity in the judiciary.
    • A gender diverse bench reflects a bias-free judiciary. Many empirical studies show that having even one woman on a three-judge panel has an effect on the entire panel’s decision-making in gender discrimination cases.
    • There is also well-founded expectation that women litigants would feel less intimidated in the presence of female judges, and that women judges in turn would exhibit greater sensitivity to their grievances.
    • Improving the representation of women could also go a long way towards a more balanced and empathetic approach in cases involving sexual violence.
    • Having women judges encourage more women to approach the system of law to report violence and crimes happening to them on a daily basis.

    What are the reasons of low female judge ratio?

    • The profession of law has been a male dominated field since 19th century in India. Women were denied the privilege to practice law until High Court of Allahabad allowed Miss Cornelia Sorabji in 1921 to practice law.
    • Since then, though the number has increased yet, not many women joined the bandwagon. Only recently the profession has attracted a large number of women in India to study law.
    • Women face lots of problems in practicing in court and thus, the profession itself drives less number  of women.
      • Even litigants are biased against women lawyers and they mostly prefer male lawyers with whom they can socialise well.
    • The number of female legal practioners is less.
    • Low ratio of women law graduates
    • Low ratio of women in Bar Council
    • Low ratio of women among lower judiciary

    Is there any Gender discrimination in judiciary against women?

    As far as recruitment of judges in lower judiciary is concerned, there does not seem to be gender discrimination as both female and male candidates are given equal opportunity to appear in competitive examination. As far as higher judiciary is concerned, yes, there has been sort of discrimination because collegiums have recommended only few female names. 

    What constitutional / legal provisions have to do with this problem?

    • Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 15(3) (the power of the State to make special provisions for women and children) of the Constitution.
    • India is a signatory to Conventions on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), 1979, which envisaged removal of obstacles of women’s public participation in all spheres of public and private lives.

    Should there be reservation of women in higher judiciary? Is it justified?

    • There is less number of women practicing law in India.
    • There is nothing in the law of the land to stop women from entering judiciary and become senior lawyers and judges.
    • The profession has to do more with the interest of women than appeasement.
    • It appears that there is a glass ceiling in higher judiciary {collegium system}, but that needs regulatory and administrative reforms. The answer is not in reservation but in changing regulatory mechanism in judiciary, reforms in appointments in higher judiciary, incentivising women practicing lawyers etc.
    • Unlike States, the Centre almost never provides reservation for women in the all India services.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs:Questionable data, little room for exuberance| Page 06

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper III- Indian Economy

    Sub Theme: Is India Overestimating its GDP Numbers? |UPSC

    The National Statistical Office (NSO) has recently published the GDP estimates for the Second Quarter of the Financial year 2020-21. In the second quarter, India's GDP has contracted by almost 7.5% in comparison to 24% contraction in the first quarter of financial year 2020-21. It has raised expectations of a sharp economic recovery after the novel coronavirus pandemic and the national lockdown. But is this optimism justified?

    The article highlights that presently there is lack of corelation between high frequency indicators such as IIP and GDP Estimates in the second quarter. For instance, the IIP has registered a growth rate of -6.8%, but as per the GDP estimates, the manufacturing GDP has registered a growth rate of positive 0.6%. This seems to be too good to be true.

    Hence, in a way, this article raises concern over the flawed methodology for the GDP estimation. The article feels that the Government is over-estimating the GDP. In fact, former Chief Economic Adviser, Arvind Subramanian has suggested that the annual GDP growth rates during the last few years may have been overestimated by 0.36 to 2.5 percentage points.

    Understanding the Basics

    The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within an economy. It can be calculated into two ways:

    Nominal GDP: It refers to the GDP at the current market prices i.e. the GDP is calculated as per the market prices for the year for which the GDP is calculated.

    Real GDP: It refers to the GDP at base year prices i.e., the GDP is calculated as per the market prices in the base year. Thus, the Real GDP negates the inflation in goods and services.

    In case of high rate of inflation, the nominal GDP would be quite higher than the real GDP. However, in case of deflation, the real GDP would be higher than the nominal GDP.

    The GDP in India is estimated by National Statistical Office (NSO) which works under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme implementation.

    Recent changes in the GDP estimation (2015):

    • Change in the base year from 2004-05 to 2011-12. Usually, the base years are revised at a frequency of 7-10 years by taking into account the changing economic landscape of the country.
    • Change in the GDP estimation from the GDP at Factor Cost to GDP at Market Prices
    • Change in the database for capturing economic activity from RBI's database to the MCA-21 database of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. This database is basically used for 2 purposes:
      • Estimate the production of goods and services in the organized sector based upon the tax returns
      • Extrapolate the production of goods and services in the unorganized sector based upon the organized sector activity.

    FLAWS IN THE GDP ESTMATION

    Flawed Database: Earlier in May 2019, the erstwhile NSSO had released report titled as "Technical Report of Services Sector Enterprises in India".  This report had highlighted that almost 38% of the firms in the MCA-21 database were either out-of-coverage companies (21%), closed or non-traceable (17%). The economists had highlighted that these companies are actually shell companies which are not engaged in the any economic activity and hence they should not be included in the GDP estimation. If we keep including these companies for the GDP estimation, then we would end up overestimating our GDP. The economists have highlighted that it is difficult to understand as to what extent our GDP figures are over-estimated, but what is clear is that our GDP figures are clearly over-estimated.

    Flawed Methodology: Presently, the GDP methodology does not directly measure the economic activity of the unorganized sector. The economic activity of the unorganized sector is extrapolated on the basis of economic activity in the organized sector. This is done on the assumption that the economic activity in the unorganized sector depends on the organized sector. However, this assumption looks extremely flawed. For instance, in the aftermath of the twin shocks of Demonetization and GST, the ground realities has clearly showed that it is the unorganized sector which has got more adversely affected than the organized sector. Hence, there was a general decline in the economic activity in India during the demonetization year 2016-17. However, according to the government's estimates, the GDP growth rate for the year 2016-17 was 8.2%, which is considered to be highest growth rate in a decade.

    Problems with Estimation of State Domestic Product (SDP): The flawed methodology and database has not only affected the national level GDP estimates, but it was affected even the states' GDP estimates as well. This is primarily because the MCA-21 is used for estimating both the national level as well as state level GDP estimates. Further, the MCA-21 database does not exactly pinpoint the location of Industries rather it merely pinpoints the head office of the company. Now, in order to correctly estimate the GDP of the states, we need to have exact information of the Industries in each and every state. In absence of such a data, we would not be able to come up with reliable estimates.

    What has been the response of the Government?

    The Government has so far denied the claim that the underlying methodology is flawed and that there are serious problems with the new database being used. The official response throughout the debate has been that the 2011-12 GDP series follows global best practices i.e. it follows the latest United Nations System of National Accounts guidelines and applies better methods using much larger datasets; hence the official estimates are fool-proof.

    Even the Economic Survey 2019-20 has highlighted that concerns of over-estimation of India’s GDP are unfounded.

    Way forward

    The proposed change of introducing a new base year is undoubtedly a welcome decision. However, if such a change is introduced without undertaking the review of the GDP estimation, then the current problems would continue to linger in future. It is the right time to address these problems associated with the GDP estimation.  Ultimately, we need to understand that the credibility of the Indian economy would depend upon our ability to come out with fool-proof, error-free and indisputable GDP estimates. 

     

    UPSC Current Affairs:Castes count | Page 06

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – Social Justice

    Sub Theme: Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011| UPSC

    Context: State government of Tamil Nadu has decided to set up a commission to collect caste wise data of the population and submit the report to the state. The decision to set up a commission has been taken in the backdrop of pre-election agitation organised by the Pattali Makkal Katchi demanding 20% exclusive reservation in education and government jobs for the Vanniyar community.

    Problems of Vanniyar Community

    • Violent agitation of Vanniyar Community in 187-88 in Tamil Nadu led to the creation of a ‘most backward classes’ category entitled to 20% reservation.
    • However, over a period of time, Vanniyar Community were dissatisfied about being clubbed with over a hundred other castes for reservation in education and government jobs.
    • The dissatisfaction may be due to the fact that various castes categorised as Other Backward Class (OBC) in India view or understand reservation as a link for their advancement and accordingly mould their politics based on demand for exclusive reservation for their group or sub-group.
    • Even though the Supreme Court has held that reservation cannot be demanded as fundamental right, still communities feel that it is the only way for their upward social and economic mobilisation.

    Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011

    • The Ministry of Rural Development commenced the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011, in June 2011 through a comprehensive door to door enumeration across the country.
    • However, because of the lack of reliability of the data collected, or its political and electoral sensitivity, the caste portion of the SECC has not been disclosed so far. 
    • The State government could possibly seek access to this data pertaining to Tamil Nadu as part of its exercise.

    The SECC, 2011 had the following objectives:   

    • To enable households to be ranked based on their Socio- Economic status.
    • Identify below poverty line persons for government benefit schemes in urban and rural areas.
    • To make available authentic information to enable caste-wise population enumeration of the country.
    • To make available authentic information regarding the socio economic condition, and education status of various castes and sections of the population

    Expert Group on SECC, 2011

    In 2017, government constituted an Expert Group under the Chairmanship of former Finance Secretary Shri Sumit Bose for

    • Studying the objective criteria for allocation of resources to States and
    • Identification and prioritization of beneficiaries under various programme using Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) data.

    Expert Group has observed that regular updation and verification of SECC data is essential for improved targeted delivery of essential services.

    Recommendations of Expert Group

    • The SECC has the potential to move from being only a census-like socio-economic database to becoming the core of a functioning Social Registry Information System (SRIS).
    • SRIS would result in several advantages in implementation of social sector schemes.
    • It has the potential to
    • streamline programme administration,
    • reduce duplication of benefit and fraud,
    • saving on time and costs for both programme applicants and services providers,
    • monitoring the living standards of beneficiaries over time,
    • better targeting of vulnerable and marginalized sections of the society and
    • enable expansion of the coverage of the programmes.
    • Finally, the use of SECC data would lead to better budgetary planning and allocation of resources for various programmes.

    Benefits of Caste based Enumeration by States

    • It will present the correct picture of socio-economic status of various castes in any particular state.
    • Such data will help the state government to ensure how much reservation is actually necessary for any given caste.
    • Comprehensive caste based data will help to figure out the economic status of various castes in different states.
    • State can plan accordingly their welfare schemes for the most backward castes based on their need and socio-economic conditions.
    • It will satisfy demand of various groups/castes/tribes/communities and will overall reduce agitation over caste based reservations.

    Need for Caste Based Enumeration

    • Land fragmentation and decades of agricultural stagnation have turned many upper caste landowners into marginal farmers. Whereas rising rural wage has benefitted some of the backward classes including dalits.
    • Caste based mobilization along political lines have increased over a period of years. This has also led to increase in demand for reservation in jobs.
    • The real challenge lies in recognising the need for a caste based census to find a possible solution for the growing demands of reservation for different castes and communities across India.
    • Thus, a caste census in 2021 will reveal the changed circumstances of rural and urban landscape of India including their economic condition.
    • Such a detailed data will further help in rationalizing reservation policy as per need of a specific caste or community.

    Way Forward

    • The State government could possibly seek access to this data pertaining to Tamil Nadu as part of its exercise.
    • Such data should not be used only for political purpose and to quell the agitation. Rather, Tamil Nadu government should seek to rationalise and deepen its social justice policy with a true assessment of the backwardness of various castes.
    • Even the central government must collect caste wise data along the 2021 census as it will help the central government in finding out the true picture of overall socio-economic development of different castes across India in order to create a castles and equal society for all.
    • Thus, a casteless and equal society should be government’s ultimate goal along with knowing the true socio-economic status of each caste in India.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs:Isaac issue sent to ethics panel | Page 08

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Indian Polity

    Sub Theme: Breach of privilege notice | UPSC

    Context  - The Speaker of the Kerala Legislative Assembly P. Sreeramakrishnan has referred a breach of privilege notice given by Congress legislator V.D. Satheesan against Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac to the Privileges and Ethics Committee of the Assembly for scrutiny.

    Satheesan had alleged that Dr. Isaac infringed on the rights of the House by disclosing the details of an audit report of the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) for 2018-19 by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), even before it was tabled in the Legislative Assembly.

    Important points

    Ministers assume office after taking the oath that they will not divulge any confidential information that comes to their notice except for official purposes. The Governor has the authority to expel those who violate this oath.

    A CAG report has to remain a confidential document till it is tabled in the Legislative Assembly.  The legislature has the right to know the details of the CAG report first.

    Violating the rights of the Assembly can attract six types of punishment:

    • Placing House's dissatisfaction on record.
    • A warning.
    • Reprimanding by summoning to the well of the House.
    • Imposing a penalty.
    • Expulsion from the Assembly in case the person is a member.
    • Jail sentence.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: A looming health crisis | Page - 07

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper III- Science & Technology

    Sub Theme: Solutions to the Anti-microbial resistance| One Health Approach|  UPSC

    Context:

    • Anti-microbial resistance is emerging as a major threat to health since last two decades.
    • This article explores the idea that how is it difficult to counter AMR through novel antibiotics and then suggests a way out in the for of “One Health Approach”.

    The advent of antibiotics ignited the hope of elimination of infectious diseases in humans and animals.

    However, this did not happen because of two reasons:

    • Mutations:
      • Most of the germs have acquired the capacity to resist the action of affordable antibiotics. This phenomenon is known as antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
    • Irrational use of antibiotics in humans and animals.

    The inability of antibiotics to treat patients and animals is wreaking havoc on human health, nutrition safety and economies. The long-term impact of AMR is almost comparable to that of the COVID-19 pandemic. AMR is estimated to cause 10 million deaths annually by 2050, unless concerted actions are initiated now. It will result in 7.5 % reduction in livestock production and negatively impact the global GDP by 3.5%.

    What are the solutions to the AMR menace?

    • Discovery of new drugs, before the emergence of resistance in germs
      • The first is an expensive and unpredictable process.
      • Since 1984, no new class of antibiotics has been developed. The estimated cost for developing a new antibiotic exceeds $1 billion.
      • With rapid development of resistance, the life of new antibiotics becomes limited and the return on investment on new molecules gets diminished.
      • This discourages the pharmaceutical industry to invest in these initiatives. The world is left with only one option: to use the available antibiotics carefully to ensure their efficacy for as long as possible.
    • Prudent use of available antibiotics
      • The rational use of antibiotics in humans, animals, and agriculture warrants coordinated action in all sectors.
      • These multi-sectoral, multidisciplinary and multi-institutional actions constitute the ‘One Health’ approach.

    What is One Health Approach

    • One Health should not be construed as a standalone or new programme that has to be built de novo.
    • This endeavour utilises existing expertise and infrastructure in various sectors with a focus on inter-sectoral coordination, collaboration, and communication.
    • The purpose of One Health is to provide a formal platform for experts to plan and work together towards shared objectives.
    • Implementation of One Health warrants a strong and continuous national narrative on zoonoses.
    • It advocates a multi-sectoral response to public health problems, particularly pandemics, as also to address issues related to AMR.
    • The approach supports focussed actions on the human-animal-environment interface for the prevention, detection and response to the public health events that influence global health and food security. AMR is one of the biggest challenges to human and animal health.
    • There is a need to optimally utilise emerging technologies to improve human health and development. One Health has been acknowledged as the optimum approach to counter the impact of AMR and future pandemics and must be adopted expeditiously.                                                   

    The relevance of One Health?

    • This has gained currency across the world as an efficient and cost-effective response to AMR and several other challenges, especially endemic zoonoses (diseases transmitted between animals and humans) and pandemics.
    • It is reinforced by the fact that all the epidemics in the current millennium (SARS, MERS, bird flu and COVID-19) have originated from animals because of unwanted excursion of humans into animal domains.
    • The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasised the urgency of implementing One Health. India’s National Action Plan on AMR is an excellent example of the One Health approach and can be used as a guiding document to develop a workable road map for the country to respond to other similar public health challenges.
    Comments

    PRAKHAR GUPTA 1 month ago

    GDP is estimated by NSO Right ?Not CSO ??
    I Think question 2 answer should be 2 and 3.

    Vishal Gohil 1 month ago

    I agree with Prakhar Gupta