20 Nov 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. HC grants time to UIDAI to file response on plea raising concern over Aadhaar data security
2. SC to hear Jafri’s plea against Modi
3. #MeToo: SC rejects pleas for action
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Govt., RBI call truce after a marathon board meeting
ENVIRONMENT
1. Make elephant corridors eco-sensitive zones: NGT
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Criteria for the courts (The kind of judges that India needs)
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Maldivian reprieve (India- Maldives Relations; India and her Neighbourhood)
SOCIAL JUSTICE
1. A gender curriculum (#MeToo Movement)
F. Tidbits
1. A new bank scam using Google Maps loophole
G. Prelims Fact
1. ‘Literacy levels in rural India suffer from migration of families’
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. HC grants time to UIDAI to file response on plea raising concern over Aadhaar data security

Context

  • The Delhi High Court on Monday granted four more weeks to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to file its response on a plea raising concerns about the security of Aadhaar data, in the wake of a reported leak of personal information from the UIDAI’s database.
  • A bench of justices S. Ravindra Bhat and Prateek Jalan listed the matter for further hearing on February 14 next year after giving more time to UIDAI to respond.PTI

What is Aadhaar?

  • The UIDAI allots a unique identifier (Aadhaar Number) to each citizen and deposits their biometric and demographic data in a Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR).
  • Aadhaar or Unique Identification Number (UID) is a 12-digit number that serves as a unique identifier for Indian citizens.
  • Aadhaar’s database has the records of over 1.12 billion registered users and is rapidly becoming the government’s base for public welfare and citizen services scheme.
  • Aadhaar authentication process validates an identity with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, using one of the six demographic fields (name, date of birth, gender, address, mobile or email) along with either biometrics or One Time Password (OTP).
  • The process is designed in such a way that neither the purpose of the transaction nor any other context is known to the Aadhaar system in order to ensure the safety of any transaction.

Security Challenges

  • As Aadhaar gained the currency of “proof of identity”, most checkpoints like railways, airports and even protected areas have started using it as a source of identity.
  • But in reality, Aadhaar in its physical form is just a plain card and can be downloaded from anywhere or a coloured printout that can be printed and may look as good as the original.
  • It does not have a hologram or digital signature but rather a QR (Quick Response) code, which is just an image representation of a text and not a security feature.
  • Another flaw in Aadhaar’s security came to the limelight when a random blogger talked about how easy it is to access Aadhaar information with just a basic Google search.
  • With the exponential growth in cybercrime, this centralised database may provide valuable information to criminals.
  • This might lead to either illegal tracking of individuals or identification without consent.
  • Such records may also aid in providing data on the precise location, time and context of the services availed by that individual.
  • Moreover, sensitive financial information of individuals and companies may also be exposed through breaches of the UID database or internal collusion.
  • In a report by an investigative website, those associated with the Aadhaar project “agreed to make Aadhaar Cards for applicants without any proof of identification or address” for charges ranging from Rs 500 to 2500. The website asserted that almost anyone, “be it Indian or an illegal immigrant can get an Aadhaar Card made without any proof of identity. More importantly, they get an Indian identity.”

2. SC to hear Jafri’s plea against Modi

 Context

  • The Supreme Court on Monday said it would hear on November 26 the plea of Zakia Jafri challenging the clean chit given by a Special Investigating Team to Narendra Modi, who was then Gujarat Chief Minister, pertaining to the “larger conspiracy” behind the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
  • Jafri, the wife of slain ex-MP Ehsan Jafri, has challenged the October 5, 2017 verdict of the Gujarat High Court dismissing her plea challenging the SIT’s closure report.

Godhra incident of 2002

  • According to Hindu mythology, Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Rama and therefore it is a sacred place for Hindu religion.
  • But in medieval period Mughal general Mir Baqi, built a mosque, named after Mughal ruler Babur. There were disputes since then and riots also took place.
  • But in 1990, due to some political mobilisation, there was an atmosphere of protest by Hindu religious groups and in large-scale “Kar Sevaks” visited Ayodhya from all parts of India, in support of demolishing Babri Masjid and building Ram temple there.
  • These movements caused a huge amount of bloodshed and since then it is a disputed matter.
  • After this, violence was followed by the Godhra incident in 2002, when “Kar Sevaks” returning from Ayodhya in a Sabarmati Express were killed by fire in the coaches of train.
  • This act was followed by the extended communal violence in Gujarat. That violence is like black spot in the history of the Gujarat and nation too, as people were killed without any mercy. Hindu and Muslim community became antagonist to each other.

3. #MeToo: SC rejects pleas for action

Context

  • The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain two petitions seeking to take cognisance of statements of sexual harassment made during the #MeToo campaign and prosecution of the accused.
  • A Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph said that if there was any cognisable offence, there was a procedure to be followed under the law.
  • “The issues highlighted would be considered by the court in the event an aggrieved person moves the court. The writ petition is, therefore, not entertained on the aforesaid ground. The same is, accordingly, dismissed,” the Bench said.

#MeToo movement

  • The Me Too movement (or #MeToo movement), with many local and international alternatives, is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault.
  • #MeToo spread virally in October 2017 as a hashtag used on social media in an attempt to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace.
  • It followed soon after the sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein.
  • Tarana Burke, an American social activist and community organizer, began using the phrase “Me Too” as early as 2006, and the phrase was later popularized by American actress Alyssa Milano, on Twitter in 2017.
  • Milano encouraged victims of sexual harassment to tweet about it and “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem”.
  • This was met with success that included but was not limited to high-profile posts from several American celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Lawrence, and Uma Thurman.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Govt., RBI call truce after a marathon board meeting

Context

  • The tension between the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) appeared to have defused for the time being with both agreeing to settle for a middle ground at the end of an over nine-hour board meeting on Monday.
  • The most contentious issue between the central bank and the Finance Ministry was the RBI’s capital. Now, while the RBI has agreed to set up an expert committee on the economic capital framework (ECF), its mandate is restricted to future earnings and not the existing reserves.
  • “The board decided to constitute an expert committee to examine the ECF, the membership and terms of reference of which will be jointly determined by the Government of India and the RBI,” the central bank said in a statement.
  • Sources indicate there were detailed presentations by the RBI on economic capital as well as other issues such as the prompt corrective action (PCA) framework.
  • On the PCA, the Board for Financial Supervision (BFS) of the RBI will review the norms and take a call if some of the parameters like net non-performing asset (NPA) ratio could be relaxed so that some of the banks come out of the PCA. There are 11 public sector banks out of 21 that are on the PCA.
  • The BFS consists of the Governor, four Deputy Governors and a few other board members. Another significant decision was relief to micro, small and medium enterprises — the sector which is badly hit by the twin blows of demonetisation and patchy implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Economic capital framework

  • The concept of economic capital has gained significance especially after the global financial crisis in 2008.
  • The crisis exposed many central banks in the world to multiple risks, which forced many of them US Federal Reserve, Bank of England and European Central Bank besides sovereign governments to pump in liquidity, buy securities and expand their balance sheets to boost confidence in the financial system and to ensure that critical institutions did not collapse.
  • Economic capital framework refers to the risk capital required by the central bank while taking into account different risks.
  • The economic capital framework reflects the capital that an institution requires or needs to hold as a counter against unforeseen risks or events or losses in the future.
  • The framework the government is talking about is basically about how much capital RBI needs for its operations and how much of the surplus it should pass on to the government.

Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework

  • PCA is a process or mechanism to ensure that banks don’t go bust.
  • Under it, RBI has put in place some trigger points to assess, monitor, control and take corrective actions on banks which are weak and troubled.
  • It was first introduced after global economy incurred huge losses due to failure of financial institutions during 1980s-90s.
  • According to latest PCA framework, banks to be placed under it are assessed on three parameters viz. Capital ratios, Asset Quality and Profitability.
  • Indicators to be tracked for these three parameters are CRAR (Capital to Risk weighted Assets Ratio)/Common Equity Tier I ratio, Net NPA (non-performing assets) ratio and Return on Assets (RoA) respectively.
  • If banks breach of any risk threshold mentioned above, it results in invocation of PCA against them.
  • RBI enforces these guidelines to ensure banks do not go bust and follow prompt measures to put their house in order.
  • It had tightened its PCA framework in April 2017 to turn around lenders with weak operational and financial metrics,
  • Depending on the risk thresholds set in PCA rules, banks placed under it are restricted from expanding number of branches, staff recruitment and increasing size of their loan book.
  • Other restrictions include higher provisions for bad loans and disbursal only to those companies whose borrowing is above investment grades.

Non Performing Assets (NPA)

  • The assets of the banks which don’t perform (that is – don’t bring any return) are called Non Performing Assets (NPA) or bad loans. Bank’s assets are the loans and advances given to customers. If customers don’t pay either interest or part of principal or both, the loan turns into a bad loan.
  • According to RBI, terms loans on which interest or installment of principal remains overdue for a period of more than 90 days from the end of a particular quarter is called a Non-performing Asset.
  • However, in terms of Agriculture / Farm Loans; the NPA is defined as – For short duration crop agriculture loans such as paddy, Jowar, Bajra etc. if the loan (installment/interest) is not paid for 2 crop seasons, it would be termed as an NPA. For Long Duration Crops, the above would be 1 Crop season from the due date.

Category: ENVIRONMENT

1. Make elephant corridors eco-sensitive zones: NGT

Context

  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to consider declaring all elephant corridors in India as eco-sensitive zones.
  • Following a plea that sought legal recognition for elephant reserves and corridors in the State of Assam, a Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said, “After hearing the matter for some time, it was noted by us that the issue of elephant corridors has been raised by different applicants and various judgments have also been passed by the Tribunal. Therefore, we direct the MoEF&CC to look into this aspect in a broader perspective and also to have a permanent solution.”
  • The NGT was hearing a plea moved by Assam resident Pradip Kumar Bhuyan on the increasing number of unnatural elephant deaths taking place in the State.

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!!!

E. Editorials

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. Criteria for the courts (The kind of judges that India needs)

What’s in the news?

This opinion section focuses on the point that a  discussion on the kind of judges that India needs should animate our public debates.

Historical Background:

    • In the year 1973, at the peak of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s move towards securing a “committed judiciary”, the then Minister of Steel and Mines, S. Mohan Kumaramangalam, offered a defence of the government.
    • S. Mohan Kumaramangalam had made speeches both in Parliament and outside. He had also published a number of writings.
    • Through this, Kumaramangalam asserted the virtues of what he thought was a legitimate policy.
  • He wrote, invoking the words of the great U.S. judge Benjamin Cardozo, for any government, “to examine the ‘philosophy’, the ‘outlook on life’, and the ‘conception of social needs’ of a proposed appointee” to the higher judiciary.
  • In choosing persons for the Supreme Court, in particular, he believed, it was necessary to assess a judge’s outlook on “broad matters of the State,” and “on the crucial socio-economic matters” that concerned the nation.
  • Nani Palkhivala’s observations are also important to take note of.
  • Nani Palkhivala described it, the policy was really an effort at creating a judiciary that would be “made to measure”, that would bend to accommodate the government’s whims and caprices.  

Editorial Analysis:

    • It is important to note that the Constitution of India provides, in broad terms, that judges to the Supreme Court would be appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and such other judges that he deems fit.
  • However, through a series of rulings the Supreme Court replaced the consultative method prescribed by the Constitution with one that gave the CJI and his four senior-most colleagues (the “Collegium”) primacy in selecting candidates.
  • But this system has proven to be opaque.

A note on what the critics say:

  • Critics point out that the procedure adopted in appointing judges is seen as entirely divorced from the ordinary constraints of a democracy.
  • They add that this wasn’t quite how the Constituent Assembly saw things. The framers believed that the judiciary was integral to the social revolution that the Constitution was meant to usher in.
  • They, therefore, as Granville Austin wrote, “went to great lengths to ensure that the courts would be independent, devoting more hours of debate to this subject than to almost any other aspect of the provisions.”

A Look at Constitutional Safeguards towards the Judiciary:

  • The Constitution comprises a number of special clauses.
    It provides for, among other things,
  1. a fixed tenure for judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts;
  2. ensures that salaries and allowances of judges are charged directly to the Consolidated Fund of India;
  3. confers powers on the courts to punish for contempt of themselves;
  4. and, importantly, ensures that judges can only be removed through a process of parliamentary impeachment.

However, much as these provisions aim to ensure that the judiciary remains ensconced from governmental interference, the framers always believed that the power to appoint judges must vest with the executive.

Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v. Union of India (2015):

  • It is important to note what the Supreme Court had observed in the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v. Union of India (2015).
  • The primacy enjoyed by the collegium in making appointments to the higher judiciary, the court declared, was a part of the Constitution’s basic structure.
  • Also, in this case, the court struck down the 99th constitutional amendment.

Situation Post the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v. Union of India (2015):

  • Even after the Court’s ruling in the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v. Union of India (2015) case,  the court nonetheless promised to look into the prevailing system and reform it from within.
  • However, experts point out that even three years later, we’ve seen little in the way of tangible change.
  • They point out that the problems inherent in the present system are evident even from a bare reading of the collegium’s decision, published on October 30, 2018.
  • The collegium’s decision endorses the new designees to the Supreme Court. This reads as follows:

“While recommending the name of Mr. Justices Hemant Gupta, R. Subhash Reddy, Mukeshkumar Rasikbhai Shah, and Ajay Rastogi, the Collegium has taken into consideration combined seniority on all-India basis of Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges of High Courts, apart from their merit and integrity. The Collegium has also kept in mind, while recommending the above names, that the High Courts of Punjab & Haryana, Gujarat and Rajasthan have remained unrepresented in the Supreme Court since long.”

A Critical Look:

    • The report does state the candidates’ merit was also considered.
    • However, given that the criteria for selection is entirely unknown, what ‘merit’ means remains ambiguous, at best.
    • In any event, the general constitutional values of a nominee have never been seen as a benchmark to review merit.
  • Such discussions, on the other hand, are seen as offensive to judicial integrity, as a yardstick that ought to be extraneous to any selection made.
  • All of this still begs the question: even assuming the collegium did, in fact, discuss the constitutional philosophies of the various choices before it, ought we to leave it to our judges to select their own colleagues and successors?
  • Should not a discussion on the kind of judges that India needs animate our public and political debates?

Concluding Remarks:

    • In conclusion, the NJAC may well have been hastily pushed through.
    • However, critics point out that if the publication of the collegium’s decisions has shown us anything, it is this: that the collegium’s workings are mysterious and undemocratic.
    • Experts argue that what we need today is a more sustained discussion on the nature and workings of a body that can potentially replace the collegium.
    • Such a body must be independent from the executive, but, at the same time, must be subject to greater transparency and accountability.
  • This commission must also partake within it a facility for its members to have forthright discussions over the constitutional philosophies that a judge must possess.
  • Finally, if we fail to bring these issues to the forefront, the rigours of democracy will never permeate into the judiciary, and we will only be further undermining public trust in the credibility of judicial review.
  • It is also important to note that judicial review gains its legitimacy from the Constitution. But given that judges are unelected officials, won’t its continuing legitimacy be at stake if we deem it undemocratic to so much as wonder what the constitutional philosophy of a nominee might be? Should we dismiss all claims for democratic accountability in the appointment process by harking back to the dark days of the Emergency?

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Maldivian reprieve (India- Maldives Relations; India and her Neighbourhood)

Note to Students:

This issue assumes importance not only because of the recent turn of events in Maldives- that of its newly elected President and the changes one can potentially witness in India-Maldives relations, but since the focus is on Maldives, students should also orient themselves with the historical narrative that successive Government’s in India has had with that of Maldives.

In the subsequent sections, we elaborate on the bilateral engagement that India has had with Maldives, giving a historical perspective to the ties.

What’s in the news?

  • This editorial section focuses on what the newly elected President of Maldives, Ibrahim Solih must do.
  • It points out that Ibrahim Solih must hit the ground running to stabilise the economy.

Larger Background:

    • India and Maldives enjoy close ties of friendship and cooperation and share a common destiny. Peace and stability in Maldives is of utmost importance to India and the region.
  • Maldives is a nascent democracy and is in the process of strengthening its institutions and capacity building.
  • India remains committed to assist the Government and people of Maldives in their endeavours to build a stable, democratic, peaceful and prosperous country.
  • In this context, India is actively engaged with all stakeholders in the reconciliation process in the wake of recent developments, in order to ensure that they continue to take the democratic process forward.
  • Both the countries share long cultural links and continuous efforts are underway to further strengthen these links.
  • Indians are the second largest expatriate community in the Maldives with a total strength of around 28000. The Indian expatriate community consists of doctors, nurses and technicians, teachers, construction workers, tailors, etc. spread all over the country.

India’s assistance to the Maldives:

  • Following the tsunami waves that hit Maldives on the morning of 26 December 2004, India was the first country to rush relief and aid to the Maldives. Government of India had sent a few ships of the Indian Navy to provide assistance. The ships delivered foodstuff & medicines, treated patients in a field hospital set up by their medics, undertook repair of electricity generators & communication equipments and also evacuated patients in the shipborne helicopters when required.
  • Government of India also sanctioned a budget support aid of Rs.10 crores to Maldives in 2005 in response to President Gayoom’s request for financial help in view of the serious financial difficulties Maldives was facing on account of the tsunami and related factors.
  • Again in 2007, following President Gayoom’s appeal in the aftermath of tidal surges in Maldives, Government of India gave a cash assistance of Rs.10 crores.
  • In the past, due to the severe foreign exchange crisis in Maldives, the Maldivian Monetary Authority (MMA) issued treasury bonds denominated in US dollars for the first time in December 2009. The entire lot of US $ 100 million was subscribed to by the State Bank of India to help Maldives recover from the shortage of the currency.  

Excerpts from the recently issued Joint Statement:

    • Prime Minister Modi thanked President Solih for the special gesture of inviting him to the Inauguration Ceremony.
    • The two leaders, expressed confidence in the renewal of the close bonds of cooperation and friendship with the election of Mr Solih as the President of the Maldives.
    • Prime Minister Modi welcomed the expanding opportunities for Indian companies to invest in the Maldives in different sectors for the mutual benefit of both countries.
    • Recognizing that nationals of both countries travel extensively between the two countries, the leaders also agreed on the need for facilitating easier visa procedures.
    • President Solih also briefed Prime Minister Modi on the dire economic situation facing the country as he takes office. The two leaders discussed ways in which India can continue development partnership, particularly to help the new government in meeting its pledges to the people of the Maldives.
  • In particular, President Solih highlighted the pressing need for increased housing and infrastructure development as well as for establishing water and sewerage systems in the outlying islands.

Editorial Analysis:

  • In a recent development, after five years, the Maldives has put a pro-people administration in power, swearing in Ibrahim Solih, representing the Maldivian Democratic Party, as President on November 17, 2018.
  • It is important to note that the Solih government came to power on the back of a coalition of unlikely bedfellows.

An unlikely coalition:

    • The MDP, the party of former President Mohamed Nasheed, has joined hands with the Jumhooree Party of business tycoon Qasim Ibrahim, the Islamic-based Adhaalath Party, and the support base of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
    • Experts believe that they will have to ensure that ideological differences do not cause the coalition to split at the seams, and unravel the consequences of previous President Abdulla Yameen flinging open the doors to Chinese investment, allowing a cascade of financing that caused the national debt to balloon to nearly a quarter of GDP.
    • However, a strategic return to India and its underlying democratic values could back-stop the economic pummelling that Male is sure to face if creditors in Beijing start calling in their dues.
  • President Ibrahim Solih has announced a slew of populist policies, and vowed to end an era of “large-scale embezzlement and corruption”.
  • It is important to note that in the Maldives, untold millions have allegedly been paid to officials as kickbacks for various mega-construction projects.

Concluding Remarks:

    • Experts point out that the new government is being cautious, but apparently firm, in unravelling this web of debt.
    • The leadership has promised that what is owed will be paid, and not a penny more; and that wherever opacity cloaked the grant of land, lease rights, construction projects and more, the honouring of debts would be linked to whether a transparent and fair process was followed in the first place.
    • Yet, there is little doubt that China is there to stay in the Maldives, and a balancing agreement will have to emerge through the plethora of commercial contracts the new government would ideally like to renegotiate.
  • Experts point out that in this mission, the renewed bonhomie with India, reflected in the respect accorded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian delegation at the inaugural ceremony, will play a crucial role.
    • It is important to note that innumerable Indians work across the hospitality, education, and health-care sectors of the Maldives economy, and India contributes everything from helicopters to medical visas to Maldivians.
  • The greatest threat to stability comes less from geo-strategic outcomes than from within the fabric of its polity.
    • Certain elements that backed the anti-democratic 2012 ‘coup’ that unseated Mr. Nasheed and supported the dramatically centralised power of the previous presidency still abide within the ruling combine.
  • Finally, experts point out that there is only one option for the fledgling coalition government: to strengthen Maldivian institutions and, by extension, democracy.

Category: SOCIAL JUSTICE

1. A gender curriculum (#MeToo Movement)

Editorial Analysis:

  • Over the past few weeks, many women have spoken about their experiences of sexual harassment. Some of them have even named the accused.
  • However, many of these accounts have been of incidents at the workplace and by co-workers, and expose the prevalence of deep-seated sexism across professions.
  • There have been various responses by the accused to these testimonies. These include a) unconditional apologies,
    b) resignations,
    c) stepping away from duties until further investigation.
  • However, we have also seen instances of denial, intimidation and even further harassment.
  • It is important to note that some of these were immediate responses to mounting public pressure and questions; however, whether they reflected repentance or realisation on the part of the accused is debatable.

Failure of our education system?

  • It is important to note that both sexual harassment and the kinds of responses from the accused lay bare a critical failure of our education system.
  • It will not be sufficient to say that it is society that allows, or even conditions, men to behave the way they do. Education, which is an important part of the socialisation process, is also to blame.
  • Experts point out that the education that we are imparted needs to be held accountable at this juncture because of its failure on fundamental grounds.
  • The purpose of education is not to only ensure that people secure employment or rise to coveted positions of power alone, it is also to ensure that they learn and practice equality and mutual respect.
  • It is important to note that many of the accused are qualified, educated men. Their actions compel us to ask whether those years spent in school, college and university have been unsuccessful in instilling basic values. It seems as though rising to top positions and enjoying power have emboldened men to behave in unacceptable ways, and the education system has done nothing to prevent this.

A Closer Look:

  • It is not uncommon to hear of incidents of sexual harassment being justified as “casual flirting” or being attributed to the offender’s “glad eye”.
  • Unfortunately, today, many of us are not surprised at the volume of complaints of sexual harassment. This is because it has been normalised.
  • Sexism is not casual, it is systemic. That our education system is failing to teach boys and men to recognise, challenge and refrain from sexist and even unlawful behaviour must be acknowledged and tackled.

Concluding Remarks:

    • It is important to note that sexual misconduct or gender inequality is not a by-product of a lack in education. Thus, the spotlight is not to be put on the educated alone, but on the system too.
    • Among other things, education has the basic duty of ensuring that we become socially aware and sensitive beings who know how to interact and engage with people of different genders, castes, classes and communities.
  • We must teach students that consent is an essential component of any interaction and that decisions, even of refusal, must be respected.
  • Further, while there is considerable discussion on the need to change mindsets, efforts to actually bring about such long-term structural changes are rare.
  • In conclusion, gender equality must not be limited to newsroom debates, stand-up themes or films, although these are necessary. What the #MeToo movement demands is a continuous and systematic process of learning that leads to equality.

Steps to be Taken:

    • There must be efforts to incorporate a gender curriculum in all school and college classrooms, establish anti-sexual harassment cells, organise regular awareness programmes on consent across the country, and formulate measures to address incidents of sexual harassment.
  • The police should initiate community engagement drives so that students know how to report sexual harassment.
  • Campaigns like Operation Nirbheek, initiated to improve safety and security of girls in schools, have proven to be successful to a large extent.
  • Finally, interventions in educational institutions will be a much-needed start to strengthen voices against sexual harassment and make homes and workplaces safe. It is imperative that we begin early if we are to secure a closure to our #MeToo experiences.

F. Tidbits

1. A new bank scam using Google Maps loophole

 

  • Scamsters seem to have stumbled upon a gold mine in the form of a loophole in the Google Maps interface. Taking advantage of the fact that on Google Maps, an establishment’s contact details can be edited by anyone, a group of Thane-based con artists have been putting up their own contact numbers and getting customers who call them into revealing sensitive account details.
  • According to the Maharashtra cyber police, the trend began over a month ago. Police officers said that if one searches for a particular branch of a bank on Google, the results include the Google Maps page. But the contact information on the page, such as the address and phone number, can be edited by anyone as part of Google’s User Generated Content policy.
  • Many customers search online for their bank’s contact details, and after getting the incorrect number, call it with their queries. Unknown to them, they are actually speaking to a scamster who, under some pretext, convinces them to reveal details such as their Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) or the CVV numbers of their debit and credit cards, enabling the scamsters to withdraw money from their accounts.
  • When contacted, a Google spokesperson said, “Overall, allowing users to suggest edits provides comprehensive and up-to-date info, but we recognise there may be occasional inaccuracies or bad edits suggested by them. When this happens, we do our best to address the issue as quickly as possible. The Google Safety Center outlines tips to help consumers stay safe online.”
  • The spokesperson added, “As soon as we were notified about this issue, the team worked quickly to address it. We have clear policies in place to ensure the quality of local listings on Google. We take violations of these policies extremely seriously and work fast to take appropriate action, including blocking or deleting the accounts of those responsible.”

G. Prelims Fact

1. ‘Literacy levels in rural India suffer from migration of families’

 

  • UNESCO report says that 80% of seasonal migrant children in seven cities lacked access to education and 40% were likely to end up in work
  • Literacy levels in rural households of India dip with seasonal migration, the UNESCO global education monitoring report 2019 has observed, bringing out the educational challenges thrown up by migration.
  • “In India, 10.7 million children aged 6 to 14 lived in rural households with a seasonal migrant in 2013. About 28% of youth aged 15 to 19 in these households were illiterate or had not completed primary school, compared to 18% of the cohort overall,” says the report.
  • “About 80% of seasonal migrant children in seven cities lacked access to education near work sites, and 40% are likely to end up in work rather than education, experiencing abuse and exploitation.”
  • The report says that the construction sector absorbs the majority of short-term migrants. “A survey in Punjab state of 3,000 brick kiln workers in 2015-16 found that 60% were inter-State migrants.
  • Between 65% and 80% of all children aged five to 14 living at the kilns worked there seven to nine hours per day. About 77% of kiln workers reported lack of access to early childhood or primary education for their children,” it says.
  • Inter-State migration rates have doubled between 2001 and 2011. “An estimated 9 million migrated between States annually from 2011 to 2016,” the report says.
  • It also warns of the negative impact on education for children who are left behind as their parents migrate: “Test scores were lower among left-behind children aged 5-8.”
  • The report, however, acknowledges that India has taken steps to address the issue. “The Right to Education Act in 2009 made it mandatory for local authorities to admit migrant children. National-level guidelines were issued, allowing for flexible admission of children, providing transport and volunteers to support with mobile education, create seasonal hostels and aiming to improve coordination between sending and receiving districts and states,” it says.
  • The report shows there is only one urban planner for every 1,00,000 people in India, while there are 38 for every 1, 00,000 in the United Kingdom.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. The Government enacted the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act in 1996.
Which one of the following is not identified as its objective?

 

  1. To provide self-governance
  2. To create autonomous regions in tribal areas
  3. To recognize traditional rights
  4. To free tribal people from exploitation

See

Answer
Question 2. Which of the following is/are incorrect regarding the Swadesh Darshan Scheme?
  1. It is completely funded by the Central Government.
  2. The Ministry of Tourism is the implementing agency.
  3. It has two components – PRASAD and Swadeshi Darshan under its ambit.
  1. 1 and 3 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 2 only
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements with reference to Financial Stability and
Development Council (FSDC):
  1. RBI governor is the Chairperson of FSDC.
  2. FSDC is a statutory body.

Which of the above statement(s) is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer

 

 

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. Literacy levels in rural households of India dip with seasonal migration, the UNESCO global education monitoring report 2019 has observed. In this context examine the educational challenges thrown up by migration. (150 words)
  2. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to consider declaring all elephant corridors in India as eco-sensitive zones. In this context, write a note on the elephant conservation in India. (200 words)
 

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

“Proper Current Affairs preparation is the key to success in the UPSC- Civil Services Examination. We have now launched a comprehensive ‘Current Affairs Webinar’. Limited seats available. Click here to Know More.”

 

Enroll for India’s Largest All-India Test Series