TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related ART AND CULTURE 1. A.P. unveils second largest rock art trove B. GS2 Related POLITY AND GOVERNANCE 1. Lokpal search panel formed, govt. tells Supreme Court 2. ‘Data protection law finalised’ 3. Women MPs push for quota 4. Open defecation continues unabated C. GS3 Related ENVIRONMENT 1. NGT stays notification on groundwater D. GS4 Related E. Editorials INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. After the inevitable exit (US Troop Withdrawal) SOCIAL JUSTICE 1. Left out, abused (Neglect of child care institutions) F. Tidbits 1. ‘Precarious family milieu forces children to homes’ G. Prelims Fact 1. Chinese lunar rover named as ‘Yutu 2’ H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
- Andhra Pradesh’s second largest petroglyph site, containing about 80 petroglyhs, has been discovered at Mekala Benchi, near Aspari, in Kurnool district. These petroglyphs, or rock carvings, underscore Kurnool’s importance as a major site of Neolithic settlements in south India.
- Kandanathi, with 200 petroglyphs, is also in Kurnool district. While Mekala Benchi has rock carvings dating back from the Neolithic to the Megalithic period, Kandanathi’s carvings range from the prehistoric to the historic period.
- A petroglyph is usually a prehistoric carving in a rock. Prehistory refers to the period of time before civilization and writing. There are only archeological sources available for prehistoric period which includes stone and bone tools, rock arts etc.
- The term rock art includes pictographs (paintings on rocks) and petroglyphs which are carved into the flat, open rock surface gives them a scale and look that is unique.
- Petroglyphs are images created by removing part of rock surface by incising, picking, carving, or abrading as a form of rock art.
- They are typically made on granite, sand stone and laterite rocks. The early man typically chose rock facets coated with patina which is a dark mineral accumulation on rock surfaces. In making the picture the outer patina is removed exposing the contrasting lighter rock interior. They are made by using stone chisel and hammer stone.
- Some of them depict real life events like hunting and flora and fauna of the time. There were some abstract petroglyphs which represent religious or ceremonial purposes.
- They might be used for symbolic communication as a form of pre writing. Some of them represent geometrical patterns. Some depict the tools used by early man.
- Some represented abstract and fertility symbols. Some of them also represent aquatic life.
B. GS2 Related
- The government informed the Supreme Court on Friday that a search committee had been constituted in September 2018 for zeroing in on eligible candidates for the Lokpal, and it will frame its own rules of functioning.
- Though passed in 2014, the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013 was not implemented all these years because there was no Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the 16th Lok Sabha.
- The 2013 statute includes the LoP as a member of the selection committee. The Act intends the LoP to be part of the selection committee of the PM, the CJI and the Speaker, which has to first appoint an eminent jurist among their ranks.
- Advocate Prashant Bhushan, for petitioner NGO Common Cause, submitted that Section 4 of the Lokpal Act mandates the government to be transparent about the search and appointment process.
- On July 24 last year, the Supreme Court had said the government’s stand on completing the appointment of Lokpal, an ombudsman to protect the common man from corruption in public service and power centres, was “wholly unsatisfactory.”
- The NGO had filed a contempt petition against the government for not appointing Lokpal despite an April 2017 judgment by the Supreme Court, and said the court should now take over and appoint the Lokpal.
- The court has for the past several months been constantly urging the government to complete the Lokpal appointment.
Lokpal and Lokayukta
- The ‘Lokpal’ is the central governing body that has jurisdiction over all members of parliament and central government employees in case of corruption. Whereas, the ‘Lokayukta’ is similar to the Lokpal, but functions on a state level. Scope of the ‘Lokpal’ is based on a national government level basis and the scope of the ‘Lokayukta’ relied on a state level.
- The main function is to address complaints of corruption, to make inquiries, investigations, and to conduct trials for the case on respective state and central government with having responsibility to help in curbing the corruption in the central and state government.
- Union Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad told the Rajya Sabha on Friday that the government had finalised the data protection law and it would soon be introduced in Parliament.
The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018
- Up until now, privacy laws in India offer little protection against misuse of your personal information. The transfer of personal data is currently governed by the SPD Rules (Sensitive Personal Data and information, 2011), which has increasingly proved to be inadequate.
- The proposed Data Protection Bill 2018 essentially makes individual consent central to data sharing. The report notes that the right to privacy is a fundamental right. Unless you have given your explicit consent, your personal data cannot be shared or processed. Of course, this also means that the onus lies on you to make an informed choice.
- The draft bill also states that any person processing your personal data is obligated to do so in a fair and reasonable manner. In other words, your data should be processed only for the purposes it was intended for in the first place.
- Failing to meet these provisions can cost companies dear, with the bill laying down penalties that can go up to ₹15 crore or 4 per cent of a company’s total worldwide turnover.
Related concept – Landmark judgement of right to privacy – 2017
- Nine-bench constitutional bench in Justice KS Puttaswamy (Retd) Vs. the Union of India delivered landmark judgement and unanimously declared that the Right to Privacy is part of Fundamental Rights.
- Right to Privacy is part of Right to life and personal dignity under Article-21 of Indian Constitution. As other fundamental rights, Right to Privacy is also not absolute and there may be some ‘reasonable’ restrictions.
- Unity and Integrity of the nation cannot be ensured without ensuring the dignity of an individual through privacy.
- The bench also argued that the state does not have right to decide what one eats, what one should wear; as they are part of his/her Right to Privacy.
- The bench also displayed concern about the weak data protection mechanism in India and directed the state to come out with strong data security infrastructure and data protection laws.
- The judgement of the Constitutional bench is truly the landmark. This has opened doors to review many other points from a different angle. This also showed that conformist judgements may be a threat to the basic structure of the Constitution and Rights of citizens.
- Freedom is an inherent right. If it is provided by the state than it doubles enjoyment of life. Because we have “govt of the people, by the people, for the people” said by great freedom fighter Abraham Lincoln.
- Women members in the Rajya Sabha on Friday urged the government to ensure the passage of the women’s reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha. The Bill, which proposes a 33% reservation for women in Parliament and State legislatures, was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010 but has been stuck in the Lower House for nine years.
- The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, commonly known as the women’s reservation Bill, needs to be approved by the Lok Sabha in order to become law.
Analysis of the issue
- B.R. Ambedkar once said that “political power is the key to all social progress”. What, then, to make of the fact that India—a country where women suffer substantially greater socio-economic disadvantages than Western democracies like Spain—has a cabinet that is only 22% female and a Lok Sabha that has a meagre 12% female representation?
- “Our dream of New India is an India where women are empowered, strengthened, where they become equal partners in the all-round development of the country.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his Mann Ki Baat.
- Political parties in India tend not to follow provisions in their constitutions reserving seats for women in different committees The second barrier is the lack of education and leadership training
- Since women are not integrated in many local political processes initially, and, unlike men, are not part of the relevant social and power networks, women leaders are prone to inefficiencies
- The Economic survey for 2017-18 tabled in Parliament said factors such as domestic responsibilities, prevailing cultural attitudes regarding roles of women in society and lack of support from family were among main reasons that prevented them from entering politics.
- New research on the impact of the Swachh Bharat Mission in the rural parts of four northern States shows that while open defecation has fallen and toilet ownership has increased, the percentage of people who owned toilets but continued to defecate in the open has remained unchanged between 2014 and 2018.
- This indicates that the Mission has been more successful at toilet construction than at driving behaviour change, according to the authors of the study, being released by the research institute for compassionate economics (r.i.c.e.) and the Accountability Initiative of the Centre for Policy Research next week.
Swacch Bharat Abhiyan
- Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a campaign which was launched on 2 October 2014, and aims to eradicate open defecation by 2019, and is a national campaign, covering 4,041 statutory cities and towns. Its predecessors were the “Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan” and before that the “Total Sanitation Campaign”.
- It is reported that the idea was developed and initiated in March 2014 after a sanitation conference was organised by UNICEF India and the Indian Institute of Technology as part of the larger Total Sanitation Campaign, which the Indian government launched in 1999.
- The government is aiming to achieve an Open-Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2 October 2019, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, by constructing 12 million toilets in rural India.
- India’s sanitation crisis has started to improve drastically ever since the launch of ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ India can replicate Singapore’s success story for achieving benefits out of SBA
- The campaign is similar to the one launched in Singapore post-independence when open defecation was a common sight in the 1950s-60s
- Even sophisticated urban areas had primitive toilet systems where human waste was collected manually in buckets and disposed directly into nearby waterways
- Singapore did not have the time or resources to build an expensive curative health-care system
- It, therefore, invested in toilet hygiene and clean water as a preventive health strategy, which was much cheaper and far more effective
- By focussing on providing clean water and sanitation, Singapore created a healthy and productive workforce, ready for international business and commerce by the 2000s
Challenges in India
- The major challenges of sanitation in India arise from puritan religious beliefs
- Many people in India view toilets as impure and refrain from installing them within their household premises
- Most defecate in the open as it is something they have grown accustomed to since their childhood
- No matter how many toilets the government builds, the country will never be able to become open defecation free until people start using them
- Many toilets already constructed under SBM have become defunct and non-usable due to various reasons pertaining to the quality of construction and scarcity of water.
C. GS3 Related
- Terming a December 12 notification issued by the Union Water Resources Ministry on the extraction of groundwater, as “unsustainable,” the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Centre to “not give effect” to it as it had “serious shortcomings.”
- Taking into account the Ministry’s suggestion of levying a water conservation fee, it said, “The fee virtually gives licence to harness groundwater to any extent.”
- The NGT directed the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to constitute a committee to examine “the issue of appropriate policy for conservation of groundwater”.
- In a bid to promote conservation of groundwater, the government has notified a water conservation fee (WCF) that industries will need to pay on groundwater extraction starting from June.
- As per the notification, industries extracting groundwater, including mining-dewatering units and those that use groundwater for packaged drinking water, will need to apply for a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the government. Individual households that draw groundwater using a delivery pipe of a greater than 1” diameter, too, will need to pay a WCF.
- However, the agriculture sector — the largest consumer of groundwater in the country — will be exempt from the fees.
National Green Tribunal
- The National Green Tribunal has been established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010.
- It draws inspiration from India’s constitutional provision of Article 21, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.
- It aims for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to the environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
- It has Original Jurisdiction on matters of “substantial question relating to environment” and & “damage to the environment due to specific activity” (such as pollution).
Principles of Justice adopted by NGT
- The NGT is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
- NGT is also not bound by the rules of evidence as enshrined in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. Thus, it will be relatively easier for conservation groups to present facts and issues before the NGT, including pointing out technical flaws in a project, or proposing alternatives that could minimize environmental damage but which have not been considered.
- While passing Orders/decisions/awards, the NGT will apply the principles of sustainable development, the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principles.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
- Experts have opined that the course seems set for a thinning of American presence in Afghanistan.
- This is despite the White House’s denial of reports that it has issued no orders for the pullout of U.S. troops.
- As a matter of fact, U.S. President Donald Trump had promised this during his campaign, and several advisers have said since then that he is keen to bring back most, if not all, troops before his re-election bid in 2020.
- Experts opine that if anything, Mr. Trump’s recent ill-judged remarks only underline his desire to leave: he suggested that regional players like Russia, India and Pakistan should be more involved in stabilising the situation, and mocked India for not doing enough.
- As a result, the U.S. war in Afghanistan, that began as revenge for the 9/11 attacks, evolved into a mission for ensuring democracy and prosperity in Afghanistan.
- In recent years, challenged by the resurgence of the Taliban, it has now become a mission mainly to ensure an honourable exit.
- Experts further point out that this isn’t the first time the U.S. has sought to do this: President Barack Obama had faced similar challenges in 2010, just before he announced the big drawdown.
- It is important to note that as Mr. Trump now moves to cutting American presence to a few well-guarded military bases, India must consider the consequences closely.
The consequences India must consider:
- To begin with, it is time to recognise that the U.S.’s South Asia Strategy for Afghanistan, as announced by Mr. Trump in August 2017, has been discarded.
- Mr. Trump had defined the strategy with three features:
- that U.S. troops would remain involved in the country until “conditions”, not a timeline, mandated their return;
- that the U.S. would put Pakistan on notice for its support to the Taliban and a political settlement with the Taliban would only follow “after an effective military effort”; and
- that the policy would hinge on further developing the strategic partnership with India.
- Experts have opined that sixteen months later, it is easy to see that each element of the U.S.’s policy on the ground has shifted, if not been entirely reversed.
- As a matter of fact, the appointment of special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in September 2018 to lead talks with the Taliban after a particularly brutal year shows that the U.S. is no longer waiting for military operations to take effect.
- According to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction report to the U.S. Congress, casualties of Afghan National and Defence Security Forces in May-September 2018 were the “greatest it has ever been” compared to corresponding periods since 2001, and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan “documented more civilian deaths in the first nine months of 2018 than they had during the same nine-month reporting period since 2014”.
- Further, Mr. Khalilzad’s direct talks with the Taliban that cut out the National Unity government (NUG) in Kabul reportedly didn’t even have President Ashraf Ghani in the loop until after the first talks were held in Qatar — this reversed the previous U.S. position not to engage the Taliban until it engages the NUG.
- Further, far from the tough talk on Pakistan for support to the Taliban, Mr. Trump wrote a letter to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan thanking him for his efforts. Afghanistan’s High Peace Council members also disclosed that Mr. Khalilzad was on a deadline: Mr. Trump has reportedly given him six months to show results with the talks process, failing which the pullout may be speeded up.
The departure from the avowed U.S. position on an “Afghan-owned, Afghan-led” process has clearly ruffled feathers in Kabul.
- In December 2018, Mr. Ghani appointed two aides of former President Hamid Karzai known for their hardline position on the Taliban and Pakistan as his Defence and Interior Ministers. Putting the seal on the clear drift in the U.S. Afghanistan and South Asia policy from the past was the exit of Defence Secretary James Mattis, author of the South Asia policy.
- Mr. Mattis had pushed most strenuously to keep India in the Afghan game by swinging a waiver for India on Chabahar and Iran oil purchases.
- It remains to be seen whether Mr. Trump will continue those waivers past May 2018.
The Internal Situation in Afghanistan
- The internal situation in Afghanistan is aggravated now by the uncertainty of the democratic process. Parliamentary elections were held in October 2018 after being delayed by more than two years, but even their preliminary results haven’t yet been declared, casting doubt on the government’s ability to conduct elections.
- Presidential elections have been postponed till July, despite the constitutional clause that they were to be completed by April 22, 2019.
- Meanwhile, Mr. Ghani has been unable to keep his commitment to hold a Loya Jirga (grand council of representatives) to turn Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah’s post in the NUG into an executive Prime Ministership.
Taking a Pragmatic view: India’s Perspective
- For India, these developments may appear discouraging, but a more pragmatic view is necessary to deal with all possible outcomes.
- The U.S.’s eventual pullout as Afghanistan’s peacekeeper is inevitable, and it would make more sense to prepare for it than to deny it will happen.
- India was caught off guard in 2010 when Mr. Obama planned the drawdown and discouraged India from a stake in projects there in an effort to placate Pakistan.
- Mr. Trump’s administration has no doubt been much more welcoming of Indian investment in Afghanistan, but that itself is symptomatic of his desire to pare down “Pax Americana” in every part of the world.
- The removal or reduction of the U.S. presence from most theatres of action has created space for regional players: leaving Syria to Iran and its allies; Yemen to Saudi Arabia; Afghanistan to players like Russia, Pakistan and Iran; and Pakistan to China.
- Some other hard truths must be faced: India cannot replace Pakistan’s position geographically, nor can it ever offer the U.S. or any other force what Pakistan has offered in the past, including bases and permission for U.S. forces to bomb its own territory.
- Experts point out that the decision to abandon the SAARC in favour of groupings like BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) and IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association) may have provided some short-lived returns in “isolating Pakistan”, but it has had the effect of cutting Afghanistan loose from Indian leadership of South Asia as well.
- India’s best course with Afghanistan remains its own regional strategy, not becoming a part of any other country’s strategy.
- Close bilateral consultations like the recent visit to Delhi of National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib may not always yield dramatic headlines, but are the basis of India’s ability to help Afghanistan according to its needs, not India’s ambitions, and the reason for the immense popularity and goodwill India continues to enjoy in Afghanistan.
- Finally, it is necessary to recognise the cyclical nature of interventions in Afghanistan, which has been called the “graveyard of empires” for forcing all world powers to retreat at some point or the other.
- The words of Rev. George Gleig, a soldier who survived the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-42), are worth remembering: “A war begun for no wise purpose, carried on with a strange mixture of rashness and timidity, brought to a close after suffering and disaster, without much glory attached either to the government which directed, or the great body of troops which waged it.”
- Greig’s description of the British retreat could ring true for Soviet forces in the 1980s, and American forces post-9/11 as well.
- Revelations of the sexual abuse of inmates in a balika grih at Muzaffarpur in Bihar underline a startling fact.
- As a matter of fact, experts have opined that child care institutions in India have been trapped in an administrative blind spot.
- Unfortunately, a home meant to protect girls rescued from exploitation itself turned into a den of predation.
- The shocking rot in the management of such shelters has now been reported by a Central government committee.
- It studied 9,589 Child Care Institutions and Homes, mostly run by NGOs, that come under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
- Experts believe that only an emergency measure to address the serious lacunae can bring some semblance of order to these faceless shelters.
The Unfortunate State of Affairs:
- Further, it is important to note that most of the inmates are orphaned, abandoned, sexually abused, trafficked or victims of disasters and conflict.
- Among them are 7,422 children in conflict with the law, and 3,70,227 in need of care and protection, including 1,70,375 girls.
- The fact that they often have to live in facilities without proper toilets, secure compounds or the opportunity to vent their grievances as provided for under law underscores the painful reality that they remain virtually invisible.
- It is important to note that reform of this depressing system, as the Ministry of Women and Child Development seeks, can be achieved only through systematic scrutiny by State governments.
- This could be done by appointing special officers whose task it would be to ensure that all institutions register under the JJ Act, account for funds received by each, and enforce mandatory child protection policies during adoption.
- As per the recently disclosed study, only 32% of Child Care Institutions or Homes were registered under the JJ Act as of 2016, while an equal number were unregistered, and the rest were either empanelled under other schemes or awaiting registration.
- The priority should be to bring about uniformity of standards and procedures, evolving common norms for infrastructure, human resources, financial practices and external audits.
- The panel found child care standards were poor in many institutions, sans proper bedding, food and nutrition and sanitation.
- Some States have too few homes, giving authorities little incentive to take up cases of children in distress. Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Kerala together account for 43.5% of all shelters.
- It is important to note that a few States do not have even one home of every category, such as child care, observation and adoption.
- The Ministry’s study lays bare the disconnect between civil society and the welfare system for children, and the poor engagement elected representatives have with such a vital function.
- The imperative now is to turn the findings of the Ministry’s committee into a blueprint for action.
- Further, credentialed NGOs should take a greater interest in this effort, holding the authorities to account.
- Most children at childcare institutions are not orphans, but belong to family structures that are unable to look after them such as those that are headed by unwed mothers, abandoned wives, widows and in some cases single fathers, shows a pan-India study conducted under this aegis of the Women and Child Development Ministry.
- The study records a total of 9,589 shelters across the country. These include shelters for children who are in need of care and protection such as those who don’t have a home or parents as well as children in conflict with law or those who have been accused of or found to have committed a crime. The survey found more than 3.7 lakh children housed at these centres.
- The report, Mapping of Child Care Institutions under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, was conducted by Childline India Foundation and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), has now been made public by the Ministry.
G. Prelims Fact
- China has named the lunar rover, successfully deployed on Thursday to carry out a string of experiments on the unexplored far side of the moon, as ‘Yutu 2’.
- The Yutu 2 touched the lunar surface at 10.22 p.m. local time on Thursday, leaving a trace on the loose lunar soil. The rover’s touchdown is part of China Chang’e-4 lunar probe.
- Analysts say that China’s lunar probe is part of its ‘Made in China-2025’ project, which focuse s on advanced technology, including space applications.
- It follows the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System — China’s homegrown Global Positioning System that started worldwide service last month. Next year China plans to launch its Mars explorer mission. In 2022, it hopes to complete its own earth-orbiting space station.
Chang’e-4 lunar probe
- According to experts, landing on the far side of the moon is undoubtedly one of the most challenging missions ever launched by any of the world’s superpowers.
- China’s Chang’e-4 – a first probe ever to explore the dark side of the Moon, marking another milestone in its ambitious space programme.
- The Moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate that it orbits our planet, so the far side is never visible from Earth. The probe, the Chang’e-4, has made the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the Moon. Previous spacecraft have seen the far side of the Moon, but none has landed on it.
- The far side of the moon known as ‘South Pole-Aitken Basin’ still remains a mystery among space scientists and by sending a probe there, China will outdo the historical achievements of the US and USSR.
- Chang’e 4 is the fourth mission in the country’s lunar mission series which is being named after the Chinese moon goddess.
- The tasks of the Chang’e-4 probe include low-frequency radio astronomical observation, surveying the terrain and landforms, detecting the mineral composition, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment on the far side of the moon.
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. The selection of the Chairperson and the members of Lokpal shall be through a Selection Committee consisting of:
- Prime Minister
- Speaker Legislative Assembly
- The Chief Justice of India
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
- Only 1 and 2
- Only 2 and 3
- Only 1 and 3
- All of the above
Question 2. With reference to Central Water Commission, which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?
- It is a premier Technical Organization under the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
- CWC has organized International Dam Safety Conference 2018 in association with Kerala state government.
Select the correct code:
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- None of the above
Question 3. With reference to UIDAI, sometimes seen in news which of the following statements is/are correct?
- It is a statutory authority.
- It works under the aegis of Ministry of Social Welfare.
Select the correct answer using the codes below:
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- None of the above
I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam
- India is one of the largest CO2 emitting nations in the world and this trend is going to increase for a certain period of time. Coal is a cheap and fairly abundant source of energy but it has its own problems which call for phasing out its production and use. Discuss. (12. 5 Marks; 200 words)
- The Cabinet of the central government has recently given its nod to introduce certain amendments to the POCSO Act, 2012. Critically evaluate the amendments proposed by the government in relation to POCSO act, 2012. (12. 5 Marks; 200 words)
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