08 December, 2020 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu
- GS MTS & QIP Classes Announcement
- A duet for India urban women (Society + Social Issues +Issues in inclusive development)
- Predicting protein structures - (Science & technology)
- Modi calls for legal reforms - (Polity & Governance)
- Tribals come together to protect soil biodiversity - (Polity & Governance)
- Only organic farming allowed in Lakshadweep - (Polity & Governance)
- Question for the day (Science & technology)
UPSC Current Affairs: A ‘duet’ for India’s urban women | Page 6
UPSC Syllabus: | Mains – GS Paper 1 – Women and Society | GS Paper II–Social Issues
Sub Theme:| Issues of Urban women | UPSC
The COVID-19 crisis has drawn attention to the insecurities that haunt the lives of the urban poor.
Urban poor are exposed to serious contingencies
- Housing — the poorest often squeeze themselves into swamps or slums right next to refuse dumps. By contrast, villages offer more open, greener, and quieter spaces. Urban slums have unhygienic conditions, and they are more prone to damage in urban floods which leads to diseases, financial distress. In Rural floods, Government relief and compensation packages are bigger and arrive more quickly due to the electoral politics.
- Security against illness - If people fall sick, the health care is better in the city, but will anyone lend them money if they are need? The connections developed in villages serve as safety nets for the vulnerable lives of the poor
- Health and nutrition - Inflation of milk, vegetables, and pulses directly affects the nutrition security
- Underemployment - The urban unemployment in India crept up to 9.83% in August, according to unemployment data released by the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). The rural unemployment rate in August increased to 7.65%. Also the work hazard is higher.
- Disasters and contingencies such as lockdowns, floods, cyclones, financial crises and so on.
Urban women are more vulnerable
- Loss of social control systems, through joint family and cohesive village setup - women suffer more abuse.
- Consumerism – increased demand for dowry – In New Delhi about six dowry related suicide per day (Delhi Police)
- Political system - Nature of municipal level delimitation and electoral politics is such that despite women-reservation in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), limited opportunity for the poor women to express their voices, compared to Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs).
- Double burden – Job and home-making
- More Inequality in urban areas - Feminization of informal sector. Salaried urban jobs require skill and documents- be it driver, electrician, plumber, nurse, receptionist, computer operator or teacher. Urban poor women can hold only one type of job at a time (maids, ragpickers), whereas a rural poor woman can collect of minor forest produce in the morning, MGNREGA/farm-labourer in the afternoon and rearing hen/goat in the evening or going to a self-help-group for soap/handicrafts. So, employment security for rural poor women is slighter better than urban counterparts.
- Technology -Sex selective abortion and Abuse and threat on social media.
- Moral erosion - Prostitution and trafficking has increased , Commodification of women , Crime, Drugs, Liquor, Gambling, and Juvenile Delinquency is more prominent in urban slums than rural , Disowning of parents , Destitution
There is, thus, a need for better social protection in urban areas -
- Universalising the Public Distribution System in urban slums would be a step forward (and it can be done under the National Food Security Act), but foodgrains rations do not take people very far.
- Employment-based support is one way of doing more. It has two major advantages: self-targeting, and the possibility of generating valuable assets or services.
Decentralised Urban Employment and Training (DUET)
Briefly, it would work as follows –
- The government, State or Union, would issue “job stamps”, each standing for one day of work at the minimum wage.
- The job stamps would be liberally distributed to approved public institutions such as universities, hostels, schools, hospitals, health centres, museums, libraries, shelters, jails, offices, departments, railway stations, transport corporations, public-sector enterprises, neighbourhood associations and urban local bodies.
- These institutions would be free to use the stamps to hire labour for odd jobs and small projects that do not fit easily within their existing budgets and systems.
- Wages, paid by the government, would go directly to the workers’ accounts against job stamps certified by the employer
- To avoid collusion, an independent placement agency would take charge of assigning workers to employers.
This approach would have various advantages:
- Self-Targeting - overcomes the problem of targeting.
- Rights-based - right to work as a justiciable right.
- Bottom-up - nature and choice of works are to be decided by different institutions.
- Social inclusion & Equitable growth (Distributive justice)
- Facilitating productive work – semi skilled work like that of masons, carpenters, electricians etc
- Training component in the scheme — workers could learn skills “on the job”, as they work alongside
- skilled workers.
- A secure entitlement to minimum wages.
- Activating a multiplicity of potential employers.
- Avoiding the need for special staff
- Asset creation - Many States have a chronic problem of dismal maintenance of public premises — DUET
- could provide a first line of defence against it.
Giving priority to women workers
- Not Just a minimum quota for women, like the one-third quota under the National Rural Employment
- Guarantee Act (NREGA), but of an absolute priority: as long as women workers are available, they must get all the work.
- Women could also run the placement agencies, or the entire programme for that matter.
- To facilitate women’s involvement, most of the work could be organised on a part-time basis, say four hours a day. A part-time employment option would be attractive for many poor women in urban areas.
- Full-time employment tends to be very difficult for them, especially if they have young children.
- Wage employment for a few hours a day would be much easier to manage. It would give them some economic independence and bargaining power within the family, and help them to acquire new skills.
- The economic dependence of women on men is one of the prime roots of gender inequality and female oppression in India.
- It would promote women’s general participation in the labour force. India has one of the lowest rates of female workforce participation in the world. According to National Sample Survey data for 2019, only 20% of urban women in the age group of 15-59 years spend time in “employment and related activities” on an average day.
- This is a loss not only for women, who live at the mercy of men, but also for society as a whole, insofar as it stifles the productive and creative potential of almost half of the adult population.
- Giving priority to women (and putting them in charge) may help to prevent corruption.
There is a big difference between DUET and the “service voucher” schemes that have proved so popular in some European countries. The service vouchers are much like job stamps, except that they are used by households instead of public institutions, for the purpose of securing domestic services such as cooking and cleaning. The service vouchers are not free, but they are highly subsidised, and households have an incentive to use them since that is a way of buying domestic services very cheap. In the DUET scheme, the use of job stamps relies on a sense of responsibility among the heads of public institutions, not their self-interest. It is, thus, not easy to guess how intensively job stamps will be used. The best way to find out is to give the scheme a chance. As it happens, that can easily be done, by way of a pilot scheme in select districts or even municipalities. There is nothing to lose: if DUET does not work, we shall learn from it at least.
UPSC Current Affairs:Predicting protein structures | Page 07
UPSC Syllabus: | Prelims – Science and Tech
Sub Theme: Proteins in human body
Context: It takes a lot to make a splash in the world of science when people are excited about the discovery of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2. The success of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in reliable and consistent predictions of structures of proteins with great accuracy is one such splash. The AI-based program, AlphaFold2, from the company DeepMind, has stunned the world b accurately and quickly predicting the structure of proteins, starting from the sequences o amino acids that constitute them.
What are proteins?
- Proteins are ubiquitous in all organisms. Four macromolecules—carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids—make up all of the structural and functional units of cells. By comparing and analysing protein structures, it is possible to get ideas about biological evolution, diseases, defence mechanisms, etc.
What are Proteins made up of?
- Amino acids are the basic units of proteins. Amino acids consist of atoms of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and sometimes sulfur. There are 22 known amino acids and many more might be there unknown to us.
- Some 12 of the 22 known amino acids can be synthesized in our body. These are non-essential. Essential amino acids are those that the body is not able to synthesize and which need to be taken as diet.
- Each protein has its own sequence of amino acids. This sequence determines the shape and function of the protein. Thus, there are several types of Proteins which do specific functions as follows:
- Defensive Proteins: Antibodies that respond to invasion. Immunoglobulins are antibodies, specific proteins that attack and inactivate foreign agents that enter the body.
- Membrane protein - CD4 is a membrane protein in some lymphocytes, the cells that are infected by HIV.
- Enzymatic Protein: Increase the rate of reactions, build and breakdown molecules.
- Reverse transcriptase is the enzyme protein responsible for the transcription of RNA and the formation of DNA in the life cycle of retroviruses the enzyme that catalyses hydrolysis of maltose into glucose is named as maltase.
- Hormonal Proteins: Insulin and glucagon, which control blood suga
- Receptor Proteins: Cell surface molecules that cause cells to respond to signals. Muscle contraction is carried out by Myosin
- Storage Proteins: Store amino acids for use in metabolic processes. Albumin is an energy storage protein and also an important osmoregulatory of blood
- Structural Proteins: Major components of muscles. Skin, hair, horns etc.
- Proteins make up collagen, which helps give structure to cells
- Keratin is a protein with a structural function and which is present in the epidermis and skin appendages (hair, nails) of vertebrates
- Transportal Proteins: Haemoglobin carries oxygen from lungs to cells
UPSC Current Affairs: Modi calls for legal reforms | Page–01
UPSC Syllabus:| Mains – GS Paper II – Polity and Governance
Sub Theme:|Legal reforms
Context Prime Minister Narendra Modi has highlighted the importance of legal reforms where he said
that India cannot build the coming century with laws of the last century. He laid emphasis on need of
repealing old and defunct laws and reforming present laws to suit contemporary development.
- C. Jain Commission (1998) recommended the withdrawal of a large body of legislation, and also noted that as many as 253 Acts which were identified earlier for withdrawal still remained in the practice.
- The 20 th Law Commission of India in its 248th Report recommended for a repeal of 72 obsolete laws.
- Ramanujam Committee & Malimath Committee has suggested repeal of old defunct laws.
- Central Government constituted two members committee under the Chairmanship of Shri. R. Ramanujam in September 2014. The Committee was tasked to -
(a) repeal of obsolete and redundant laws
(b) laws require revisiting in whole or part
(c) laws which need amendments in the light of changing socio-economic environment
along with the reasons for proposed amendments/re-enactment or repeal
- NEETI Aayog in its Report on Justice Reform System has suggested repealing old laws and creating Single Repository at state level.
There remain a large number of legislations that may have been relevant to the social, economic and
legal conditions of the time of their introduction but have lost consonance with society now. Laws
related to sedition (section 124A of IPC) and defamation (sections 499 and 500) are some of the
- Similarly, the Official Secrets Act can legally withhold any information from public disclosure under the often-dubious garb of national security
- Factories Act and Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 are seen as major impediments to labour reforms in India, with stringent penal provisions for defaulters, and constraints on hiring and firing.
- Multiple regulatory bodies like SEBI, RBI deriving powers from different laws on the same matter has increased inter departmental conflicts on question of their jurisdiction benefiting offenders.
- Environment laws related to water, forest governance, environmental protection, air, biodiversity laws are indicative of poor environmental governance.
Steps taken to Reform Penal Laws in India
- Codification of multiple labour laws into four codes: wages, social security, industrial safety & welfare, and industrial relations is a step in the right direction.
- Implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) has reduced the number of indirect taxes in an attempt to unify the Indian market.
- Creation of umbrella ministries like Jal Shakti and housing and urban affairs ministry.
- Currently, three ministries in the energy sector—power, petroleum and natural gas, and renewable energy can be fused into a single ministry. The recent problem of power plants being built without proper coal supplies could have been avoided if the policy had been handled by one minister.
- Similarly integrate the aviation, railways, roads, and shipping ministries so that the country gets an integrated transport strategy rather than the current mess.
- Can bring pharmaceutical department and Ayush Ministry under the health ministry.
The government aims to revamp Indian Penal Code (IPC) which was drafted by the British. Union Home
Minister has asked Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) to work on a proposal to amend
various sections of the IPC and the Code of Criminal Procedure after seeking suggestions from people
across the country.
Simplification and removal of obsolete laws is not only beneficial for ease of doing business, improving
transparency and efficiency but also for faster resolution of pending cases.
Nevertheless the laws must be in conformity with the needs of the present. With the change in pace of
time, law should also change. Famous Jurist Georg Friedrich Puchta had once said “Law grows with the
growth and strengthens with the strength of people.”
UPSC Current Affairs: Tribals come together to protect soil biodiversity | Page - 05
UPSC Syllabus: Mains : GS Paper III – Environment Conservation
Sub Theme: Soil Conservation | UPSC
Villagers take a pledge to preserve farmland, water and indigenous seeds
- Tribals in the villages of southern Rajasthan, who utilised their indigenous agricultural practices to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic, have come together to protect soil biodiversity during an agriculture and tribal sovereignty campaign.
- The villagers took a pledge to preserve their resources of farmland, water, livestock and indigenous seeds on the World Soil Day. Special emphasis was laid on making efforts for harvesting of water coming to the agricultural fields and preventing the fertile soil being drained away
- There were activities for spreading awareness about the livelihood rights of tribals, traditional farming and an effective resource management
Decentralized governance with people’s participation
To make government “of” the people and not “off” the people.
Making people responsible stake holders and sustainable used of resources. Eg: Pani
iii. To bring better and effective solutions pertinent to local conditions.
To remove apathy of public from public affair; increase their participation; switch from
representative democracy to participative democracy.
To help better implementation of socially important schemes.
To increase monitoring; accountability of officials
vii. To increase administrative efficiency.
viii. To fulfil aspirations of people as enshrined in the preamble of the constitution.
To elevate politico-socio-economic status of our country at world forum.
UPSC Current Affairs: Only organic farming allowed in Lakshadweep| Page - 08
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims : Env ||Mains : GS Paper III – Environment Conservation
Sub Theme: Soil Conservation | UPSC
- Entire Lakshadweep group of islands being declared an organic agricultural area. The islands being declared an organic agricultural area will give a big boost to their business.
- The island administration is eyeing an expansion of the traditional business in coconuts and coconut products through value addition, better marketing, and round-the-year processing.
- Around 10 crore coconuts are produced on the island in 12,000 small holdings with an average size of 0.25 hectares.
- The nuts are processed now mostly for oil.
- At the same time, there is tremendous scope for expanding the business. At present, only about 3 crore nuts are processed on the island and there is an excess of around 7 crore nuts, which are mostly sold in mainland India.
- The coconut processing industry also works only for about six months a year when the weather is dry. The period between May and December sees the industry come to a standstill. When the industry idles, coconuts are lost. Keeping this in view, the island administration plans to introduce dryers and other machinery to utilise the nuts even during the wet months, sources add.
- The island’s coconut farmers are also expected to benefit from the Union government’s ‘One District One Product’ programme of food processing, in which the entire island is being considered as a single district and coconut oil has been identified as the product. Financial support for the programme will help augment the coconut industry on the island.
- Ensuring the quality of the raw material through the declaration of the islands as an organic agricultural area and augmented processing facilities with value addition and marketing support will go a long way in giving a boost to the business, island administration sources say.