05 January, 2021 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu
- Quality gigs, a solution to urban unemployment (Polity & Governance/ Economy)
- A nod to recognising the value of housework (Social Issues)
- Maximum Governor: Reforms in Office of Governor (Polity & Governance)
- Embracing energy efficiency (Economy)
- Track social media to check pangolin poaching Reference
- Kerala on alert after bird flu in two districts
- Question for the Day
UPSC Current Affairs: Quality gigs, a solution to urban unemployment, Urban Wage Employment Programme- Need, Design and Benefits | Page - 6
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy | Mains – GS Paper III – Economy
Sub Theme: National Urban Employment Guarantee Programme | UPSC
There is a need for the National Urban Employment Guarantee Programme. It should strengthen small and medium-sized towns in India by providing urban residents a legal right to employment, improving the quality of urban infrastructure and services, restoring urban commons and ecology, skilling youth, and increasing the financial and human capacity of Urban Local Bodies.
Design of the Programme:
Legal Sanctity: This programme should have a strong legal basis in the form of a National Urban Employment Guarantee Act which provides a statutory right to employment at specified wage rates and number of days.
Coverage: The proposal calls for providing 100 days of guaranteed work at Rs 500 a day. It also provides 150 contiguous days of training and apprenticeship at a stipend of Rs 13,000 per month for educated youth. The programme thus creates opportunities for urban informal workers as well as for educated youth, giving the latter a chance to acquire work experience as well as skills while enabling them to address needs of their communities.
Nature of Work:
Creation of Infrastructure: Public works such as building and maintenance of roads, footpaths, and bridges;
Restoring urban commons and ecology: creation, rejuvenation, and monitoring of urban commons like water bodies, forest land, wetlands, and parks; Public Services: apprenticeship in municipal offices, public schools, and health centres; and provisioning of care for children and the elderly
Implementation Agency: The relevant Urban Local Body (ULB), such as the Nagar Panchayat, Municipal Council, or Municipal Corporation, shall be the principal authority responsible for administering this programme. It shall identify projects, prepare annual works plans and implement the programme in a participatory manner by involving the ward committees and ward sabhas.
Strengthening Implementation: Proactive transparency and accountability structures such as mandatory periodic social audits and public hearing through a designated independent unit, as well as a mandatory grievance redressal architecture. The programme includes a ‘right to timely grievance redressal’ which ensures that the grievances of workers are addressed through Grievance Redressal Councils at the Centre and state levels, and dedicated Grievance Redress Officers at the ULB.
Rationale and Benefits:
Absence of Wage-employment Programme in Urban Areas: India has a history of urban employment schemes. One of the most prominent central programmes in this regard was the Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) launched in 1997 which provided employment to the unemployed and underemployed urban poor through self-employment and wage employment. The Urban Wage Employment Programme component of SJSRY covered those living below the poverty line in ULBs with less than 5 lakh population. The SJSRY was replaced by the National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM) in 2013.3 This 4 programme, and its subsequent version, laid more emphasis on self-employment and entrepreneurship than on wage employment. However, unlike MGNREGA, India’s past urban employment schemes were not demand-driven and only a set of identified beneficiaries could avail their benefits
Boost Demand and Employment Creation: As per the PLFS 2017-2018, open unemployment stands at a historic high of 6.1 per cent, and unemployment among educated youth has reached 20 per cent. Unemployment in urban areas at 7.8 per cent is higher than the unemployment rate in rural areas (5.3 per cent). In addition to this, Indian towns and cities continue to be plagued by the prevalence of low-wage, poor quality, informal work.Infrastructure creation is labour absorbing, which boosts employment and income generation in the economy and further spurs domestic demand.
Increased Urbanisation: According to World Bank data, in the last decade, urban population in India has increased at an annual rate of 2.4%. By 2030, it is estimated that around 42% of India’s population would be urbanised from the current 31%. By 2030, it is estimated that 5 states – Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Punjab – will have >50% urbanisation. Also, the number of metropolitan cities in India is estimated to increase from 46 as per 2011 census to 68 in 2030. Plugging the deficiency in infrastructure will smoothen the process of urbanisation by promoting ease of living and facilitating economic activity.
Changing Demography in India: India is expected to have the world’s largest working-age population of 1.03 billion by 2030 compared with 0.97 billion in China and 0.22 billion in the US. By 2030, India will have a median age of 31 years versus 43 years for China and 40 years for the US. The Economic survey 2018-19 has highlighted that the share of working of working-age population would increase from 50% (2011) to 59% (2041), while the share of senior citizens would increase from 8% (2011) to 16% (2041). The changed demography will need the converged development of a host of infrastructure facilities such as housing, water sanitation services, digital and transportation needs.
Climate change and disaster resilience: Building Climate Resilient infrastructure is critical for people’s well-being, quality of life, and economic prospects. The recent disasters indicate that up to 66% of total public sector losses in weather and climate related extreme events are related to infrastructure damage.
Expansion of Constitutional Rights: An employment guarantee programme also strengthens the ‘Right to Life’ enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. As the Supreme Court of India has held in multiple cases, the ‘Right to Life’ is not restricted to mere existence but also includes the ‘right to livelihood’ 6 and the ‘right to live with human dignity.’ 7 In the last two decades several rights-based legislations have been introduced to further these constitutional ideals. In particular, the MGNREGA is a legislative realisation of the ‘Right to Life’ through a ‘Right to Work’. A legally enforceable ‘Right to Work’ in urban areas appears to be a natural extension.
UPSC Current Affairs: A nod to recognising the value of housework | Page 06
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy| Mains – GS Paper III – Economy
Sub Theme: GDP | Role of Women in Society | UPSC
- In the context of the forthcoming State Assembly election in Tamil Nadu, the MakkalNeedhiMaiam (MNM), led by veteran actor Kamal Haasan, has made an eye-catching election promise that is evidently targeted at a large constituency of voters — women who are full-time homemakers. The party has promised to recognise housework as a salaried profession by paying homemakers ‘hitherto unrecognized and unmonetized’ for their work at home.
Issues related to gender/women participation are not just important for Social issues but are also important for Economy. That is what we are going to understand in this discussion.
Let us first understand the concept of GDP:
In most mainstream understanding of an economy’s welfare, the central figures of discussion are a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as employment figures.
What is GDP?
- The GDP of a country is, by definition a “monetary measure of the market value of all the final goods and services produced within a country for a particular period of time”.
What are employment figures?
- The employment figures try to calculate the number of citizens engaged in some form of employment for a particular number of days within a year.
The centrality of both of these indicators to discussions on economic welfare, means that, often times, good GDP growth figures and low unemployment rates are taken as signs that the country is prospering and that all of its citizens are sharing in this prosperity.
However, as indicators, both of these metrics can prove to be deceptive, as they often conceal as much as they reveal, and good growth and employment figures may not necessarily mean assured welfare for all citizens.
Role (generally) of women in Society
- The traditional Indian imagination of a household almost takes it for granted that certain jobs within the household are to be performed only by women.
- These tasks can include domestic upkeep, cooking, cleaning and childcare, while a broader definition would also include the hours of emotional labour that goes into holding families together and putting up with patriarchal constructions of what women are expected to tolerate and expect.
- Care work is crucial to our societies and to the economy. It includes looking after children, elderly people, and those with physical and mental illnesses and disabilities, as well as daily domestic work like cooking, cleaning, washing, mending, and fetching water and firewood.
- Without someone investing time, effort and resources in these essential daily tasks, communities, workplaces, and whole economies would grind to a halt.
- Across the world unpaid and underpaid care work is disproportionately done by poor women and girls, especially those from groups who, as well as gender discrimination, experience discrimination based on race, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality and caste.
- Women undertake more than three-quarters of unpaid care and make up two-thirds of the paid care workforce.
This massive work is not accounted for
- However, regardless of the hours of the day women put in to this domestic labour, the work is often dismissed as a set of daily chores and not accounted for in either the GDP or the employment metrics.
- Since the work done at home doesn’t necessarily generate products and services for the market, economists often ignore it in their calculations and the result is that a massive portion of the work done by women in India goes unrecognised as labour and is treated as a duty.
Let us put some estimates to this calculation:
- While the global value of unpaid domestic labour by women hovers around 13 per cent, in India, the number is almost 40 per cent of its current GDP.
- In recognising this labour as genuine work, the benefit to India in terms of its GDP figures is almost self-evident, more importantly however, is its potential at the level of families for women’s empowerment around the country.
So we can say that women are supporting the market economy with cheap and free labour and they are also supporting the state by providing care that should be provided by the public sector.
- Oxfam has calculated that women’s unpaid care work alone is adding value to the economy to the tune of at least $10.8 trillion a year, a figure three times larger than the tech industry.
- This figure, while huge, is an underestimate; because of data availability it uses the minimum wage and not a living wage, and it does not take account of the broader value to society of care work and how our economy would grind to a halt without this support.
- Were it possible to put a figure on this support, the total value of unpaid care work would be even higher.
- What is clear is that this unpaid work is fuelling a sexist economic system that takes from the many and puts money in the pockets of the few.
So what are its implications?
- The heavy and unequal responsibility of care work perpetuates gender and economic inequalities.
- It undermines the health and wellbeing of predominantly female care workers and limits their economic prosperity by fuelling gender gaps in employment and wages.
- It also leaves women and girls time-poor, unable to meet their basic needs or to participate in social and political activities. For example, in Bolivia, 42% of women say that care work is the biggest obstacle to their political participation
So what should be done?
- Recognize unpaid and poorly paid care work, which is done primarily by women and girls, as a type of work or production that has real value.
- Reduce the total number of hours spent on unpaid care tasks through better access to affordable and quality time-saving devices and care-supporting infrastructure.
- Redistribute unpaid care work more fairly within the household and simultaneously shift the responsibility of unpaid care work to the state and the private sector.
- Represent the most marginalized caregivers and ensure that they have a voice in the design and delivery of policies, services and systems that affect their lives.
UPSC Current Affairs: Maximum Governor: Reforms in Office of Governor | Page–6
UPSC Syllabus:| Prelims: Polity & Governance| Mains – GS Paper II - Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Governor | Powers and Functions | Appointment and Removal | UPSC
- Governor is a vital link between the Centre and the states.
- Role of a governor is to act in an impartial, neutral and unbiased manner. Also there is a need to promote cooperative Federalism.
- However, the role of Governor has been controversial especially with regards to exercise of the Discretionary powers.
Discretionary Powers of the Governor
- Give Assent or withhold the Bill passes by state legislative
- Refer the bill for Presidential Assent under Article 200
- Appointment of Chief Minister under Article 164
- Dismissal of the Government which has lost confidence but refuses to quit
- Governor's Report under Article 356
Appointment and Removal of the Governor
Article 155- Governor of a State shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal
Article 156 - Governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the President
Qualifications : Citizen of India and he/she must have completed the age of 35 years.
Reforms based on Sarkaria Commission and Punchhi Commission’s Recommendations:
- He should be eminent in some walk of life;
- He should be a person from outside the State;
- He should be a detached figure and not too intimately connected with the local politics of the States; and
- He should be a person who has not taken too great a part in politics generally and particularly in the recent past.
The phrase "during the pleasure of the President" may be deleted from Article 156 of the Constitution. A provision may be made for the impeachment of the Governor by the State Legislature on the same lines as the impeachment of the President by the Parliament.
Upon end of Tenure
- Governor should not be eligible for any other appointment under the Union or a State Government except for a second term as Governor, or election as Vice-President or President of India.
- Further, the Governor shall not return to active partisan politics.
UPSC Current Affairs: Embracing energy efficiency | Page - 7
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy/Environment | Mains – GS Paper III – Economy/Environment
Sub Theme: Energy Efficiency Initiatives in India | Initiatives of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency|UPSC
Legal and Institutional Framework: The Energy Conservation Act (EC Act) was enacted in 2001 with the goal of reducing energy intensity of Indian economy. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) was set up as the statutory body in 2002 at the central level to facilitate the implementation of the EC Act. The Act provides regulatory mandate for: standards & labelling of equipment and appliances; energy conservation building codes for commercial buildings; and energy consumption norms for energy intensive industries.
Further, the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is a joint venture of 4 Public sector enterprises. It implements a number of energy efficiency schemes in India.
Initiatives of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE):
Standards and Labelling: Provide the consumer an informed choice about the energy saving and thereby the cost saving potential products such as Room Air Conditioners, Fluorescent Tube Lights, Frost Free Refrigerators etc.
Energy Conservation Building Codes (ECBC): ECBC sets minimum energy standards for new commercial buildings having a connected load of 100kW or contract demand of 120 KVA and above.
Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA): rating tool that helps people assesses the performance of their building against certain nationally acceptable benchmarks of accepted energy and environmental principles.
National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE): Aims to strengthen the market for energy efficiency by creating conducive regulatory and policy regime. It is being jointly implemented by Bureau of Energy Efficiency and Energy Efficiency Services Limited EESL.
Components of NMEEE:
Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT): Industries in various sectors have been mandated to reduce their specific energy consumption (SEC) (energy used per unit of production) to a specific target based on their current levels of energy efficiency. The units which are able to achieve SEC level that are lower than their targets can receive energy savings certificates (ESCerts) for their excess savings. The ESCerts could be traded on the Power Exchanges and bought by other units under PAT who can use them to meet their compliance requirements.
MARKET TRANSFORMATION FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY (MTEE): Under MTEE, two programmes have been developed i.e.Bachat Lamp Yojana (BLY) and Super-Efficient Equipment Programme (SEEP). Under Bachat Lamp Yojana (BLY), incandescent bulbs are to be replaced by CFLs. In the next phase of BLY, BEE will promote use of LED lights. Super-Efficient Equipment Programme (SEEP) is a program designed to bring accelerated development of super-efficient appliances by providing financial stimulus.
Initiatives of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL):
UJALA SCHEME: UNNAT JYOTI BY AFFORDABLE LEDS FOR ALL: It involves distribution of the energy efficient LED bulbs to the consumers.
Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP): Under the programme, EESL replaces the conventional streetlights with LEDs at its own costs.
Atal Jyoti Yojana (AJAY): To illuminate dark regions through establishment of solar streetlights.
UPSC Current Affairs: Track social media to check pangolin poaching | Page - 4
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Environment & Ecology | Mains – GS Paper III – Environment & Ecology
Sub Theme: Pangolins poaching | World Pangolin Day | IUCN Status | UPSC
- The Odisha Forest department has stressed the need for stricter monitoring of social media platforms to check pangolin poaching and trading.
- Investigations revealed that the accused were trading pangolin and scales online by forming WhatsApp groups in which videos and photos were shared with potential customers, often based outside the country, and details communicated in codes to conceal the transactions.
- Trafficking of live pangolin and its scales is a highly lucrative business for organised mafia, who exploit poor and vulnerable forest dwelling communities for their criminal interests.
- This was pushing the endangered species into extinction and simultaneously placing these communities at high risk.
- The Madhya Pradesh forest department, for the first time, radio-tagged an Indian Pangolin.
- Radio-tagging involves attaching a transmitter to an animal to monitor its movements. Several wild animals — tigers, leopards and migratory birds — have been tagged over decades.
- Indian Pangolin has been radio-tagged in order to know its ecology and develop an effective conservation plan for it.
- China accorded the pangolin the highest level of protection and removed the scales of the endangered mammal from its list of approved traditional medicines amid links between wild meat and the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
- World Pangolin Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in February every year, is an international attempt to raise awareness of pangolins and bring together stakeholders to help protect these species from extinction.
- Commonly known as ‘scaly anteaters’, the toothless animals are unique, a result of millions of years of evolution. Pangolins evolved scales as a means of protection. When threatened by big carnivores like lions or tigers they usually curl into a ball. The scales defend them against dental attacks from the predators.
- Their scales which are made of keratin, the same protein present in human nails — are believed to improve lactation, promote blood circulation, and remove blood stasis.Their alleged health benefits in traditional Chinese medicines prompted a booming illicit export of scales from Africa over the past decade.
- The creatures are strictly nocturnal, repelling predators by curling up into scaly spheres upon being alarmed.
Pangolins in India
- Out of the eight species of pangolin, the Indian Pangolin and the Chinese Pangolin are found in India.
- While the Chinese Pangolin is found in north-eastern India, the Indian Pangolin is distributed in other parts of the country as well as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
- Threats to Pangolins in India:Hunting and poaching for local consumptive use (e.g. as a protein source and traditional medicine) and international trade for its meat and scales in East and South East Asian countries, particularly China and Vietnam.
- IUCN Protection status
- Indian Pangolin: Endangered
- Chinese Pangolin: Critically Endangered
- Both these species are listed under Schedule I, Part I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972and under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
UPSC Current Affairs: Kerala on alert after bird flu in two districts | Page -8
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: General Science | Mains – GS Paper III – Science & Technology
Sub Theme: Bird Flu | Strains of Bird flu | H5N1 infection in humans | UPSC
About Bird Flu
- Bird flu, or avian flu, is an infectious type of influenza that spreads among birds.
- Bird Flu affects mainly the domestic poultry (chickens, ducks, etc.) and less commonly in animals like pigs. Very occasionally, humans may also be infected with this virus.
- There are 4 strains that have caused concern in recent years: H5N1 (since 1997); H7N9 (since 2013); H5N6 (since 2014) and H5N8 (since 2016) Although H5N1, H7N9 and H5N6 don't infect people easily and aren't usually spread from human to human, several people have been infected around the world, leading to a number of deaths. H5N8 has not infected any humans worldwide to date.
- Bird flu spreads to humans who have been associated with close contact with infected live or dead birds, or H5N1-contaminated environments. The virus does not infect humans easily, and spread from person to person appears to be unusual.
- H5N1 infection in humans can cause severe disease and has a high mortality rate. The symptoms of H5N1 infection may include fever and malaise, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches.