26 Oct 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Disqualification of T.N. MLAs upheld
2. Khasi tribal council for inner line permit
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Masala bonds to be listed in two exchanges
ENERGY
1. PHWRs: Kaiga station’s Unit-1 creates world record
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. Our time begins now
SOCIAL JUSTICE: SEXUAL HARASSMENT
1. MeTooIndia: Will it change the way men behave?
F. Tidbits
1. Crowdfunding weddings as an art
2. Aim and shoot for a citizen-science repository of Indian mammals
G. Prelims Fact
1. India set to be third largest aviation market
2. Digital boards will change education, says Javadekar
3. SCARF award for The Hindu journalist
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. Disqualification of T.N. MLAs upheld

Context

  • Justice M. Sathyanarayanan, the Supreme Court-appointed third judge of the Madras High Court, on Thursday upheld the validity of an order passed by Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P. Dhanapal on September 18, 2017, disqualifying 18 AIADMK MLAs owing allegiance to T.T.V. Dhinakaran under the anti-defection law.
  • Deciding the case afresh at the request of counsel for the litigants, following a split verdict on June 14, Justice Sathyanarayanan categorically held that the Speaker’s order did not suffer from any of the grounds of attack, be it breach of constitutional mandate, mala fide intentions, perversity or non-adherence to principles of natural justice.
  • “Burden of proving absence of good faith is upon the person who pleads and asserts it. Proof of mala fides is a heavy burden to discharge. A mere suspicion, however, is not proof… The Speaker being the sole and ultimate authority to decide the issue pertaining to disqualification…mala fides cannot ordinarily be inferred,” the judge said.

Anti-Defection Law

  • The 10th Schedule to the Indian Constitution popularly referred to as the ‘Anti-Defection Law’ was inserted by the 52nd Amendment (1985) to the Constitution.
  • ‘Defection’ has been defined as, “To abandon a position or association, often to join an opposing group”.
  • The anti-defection law was enacted to ensure that a party member does not violate the mandate of the party and in case he does so he will be disqualified from participating in the election.
  • The Anti-Defection Law allows Parliament to announce those members defected who oppose or do not vote in line with party’s decision.
  • The aim of Anti-Defection Law is to prevent members of Parliament to change parties for any personal motive.

Grounds for disqualification:

  • If an elected member voluntarily gives up his membership of a political party
  • If he votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by his political party.
  • If any independently elected member joins any political party.
  • If any nominated member joins any political party after the expiry of six months.
  • The decision on questions are to disqualification on ground of defection is referred to the chairman or the Speaker of such House, and his decision is final.
  • All proceedings in relation to disqualification under this Schedule are deemed to be proceedings in Parliament or in the Legislature of a state.

2. Khasi tribal council for inner line permit

Context

  • The Khasi tribal council in Meghalaya on Thursday tabled a resolution urging the Governor to introduce the inner line regulation to check and control migration of outsiders in the areas under its jurisdiction.
  • The Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) has jurisdiction over the tribal areas in East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills, South West Khasi Hills and Ri-Bhoi district and is one of the three autonomous district councils in the State.
  • Tabling the Khasi Hills Autonomous District (Inner Line as adopted from the Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873) regulation Bill, 2018, KHADC chief executive member H.S. Shylla said there was “mass migration” arising out of the implementation of the National Register of Citizens in Assam in tribal areas under the jurisdiction of the council.
  • He said the migration into tribal areas was also posing “grave danger” for the ethnic Khasi tribe who were recognised as Scheduled Tribes in the Constitution.

Inner Line Permit

  • A British-era system, the ILP is a travel document that Indian citizens need to possess to enter the frontier States of north-eastern India: Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.
  • It is issued under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, to regulate the movement of people who do not belong to these States.
  • The ILP is valid for a week but can be extended. People who frequent these States for work can opt for a special ILP renewable annually.
  • The ILP is mandatory for Indians and the Protected Area Permit for foreigners.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Masala bonds to be listed in two exchanges

 

  • The Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) will list masala bonds, being floated to mobilise resources for infrastructure projects in the State, in the London and Singapore Stock Exchanges

Masala bonds

  • Masala bonds are bonds issued outside India but denominated in Indian Rupees, rather than the local currency
  • The term was used by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to evoke the culture and cuisine of India
  • The first Masala bond was issued by the World Bank-backed IFC in November 2014
  • Indian companies can raise funds from foreign investors through other sources besides Masala bonds. However, these would be denominated in terms of foreign currencies. Thus, the differentiating feature of Masala bonds is that it is denominated in terms of Rupees.
  • The greatest advantage of Masala bonds is that it covers the Indian company from currency fluctuation risk. For example, suppose an Indian company borrows $1 billion from a foreign investor. If the rupee depreciates, then the Indian company will have to pay more in terms of Rupees to the foreign investor even though the borrowing is fixed in terms of dollars. However, if the Indian company is funded by Rs. 60 billion worth of Masala bonds, the total amount to be repaid to the foreign investor will remain unchanged irrespective of exchange rate fluctuations.
  • Borrowing from foreign investors can be relatively cheap compared to India.
  • Masala bonds also allow for diversification of sources of investment.

Category: ENERGY

1. PHWRs: Kaiga station’s Unit-1 creates world record

 

  • The Kaiga Generating Station, which is already on India’s Nuclear Power Programme, has created a world record for the longest uninterrupted operation of units having pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs).
  • The earlier record for PHWRs was held by Unit-7 of Pickering Nuclear Generating Station at Ontario, Canada, which operated continuously for 894 days and a few hours. That record was set on October 7, 1994.
  • In an official release on Thursday, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCL) announced that Unit-1 of Kaiga Generating Station (KGS-1) completed 895 days of continuous operation.
  • Kaiga now stands first in the world for continuous operation with regard to PHWRs and second among all nuclear power reactors. The Advanced Gas Cooled Reactor (AGR), Heysham II-8 of the United Kingdom, holds the overall record of 940 days of continuous operation.
  • KGS-1 in Kaiga, located at a distance of 56 km from Karwar, has been generating electricity continuously since May 13, 2016. KGS-1, an indigenously built pressurised heavy water reactor run by domestic fuel (uranium), began its commercial operation on November 16, 2000.
  • NPCL has 22 reactors across the country with a total capacity of 6,780 MW in operation and eight reactors with a capacity of 6,200 MW under construction.

Related information – India’s Three-Stage Nuclear Power Programme

  • India’s three-stage nuclear power programme was formulated by Homi Bhabha in the 1950s to secure the country’s long-term energy independence, through the use of uranium and thorium reserves found in the monazite sands of coastal regions of South India.
  • The ultimate focus of the programme is on enabling the thorium reserves of India to be utilized in meeting the country’s energy requirements.
  • Thorium is particularly attractive for India, as it has only around 1–2% of the global uranium reserves, but one of the largest shares of global thorium reserves.
  • However, at present thorium is not economically viable because global uranium prices are much lower.
  • The Indo-US Nuclear Deal and the NSG waiver, which ended more than three decades of international isolation of the Indian civil nuclear programme, have created many hitherto unexplored alternatives for the success of the three-stage nuclear power programme.
  • Thorium itself is not a fissile material, and thus cannot undergo fission to produce energy.
  • Instead, it must be transmuted to uranium-233 in a reactor fueled by other fissile materials [plutonium-239 or uranium-235].
  • The first two stages, natural uranium-fueled heavy water reactors and plutonium-fueled fast breeder reactors, are intended to generate sufficient fissile material from India’s limited uranium resources, so that all its vast thorium reserves can be fully utilized in the third stage of thermal breeder reactors.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. Our time begins now

Note to the Students:

  • This is an important topic under GS Paper III (Environment and Ecology). We have taken the important points from three releases, featured in the editorial sections of the Hindu over the past month. These articles are ‘Another warning on warming’, ‘Target 1.5’ and the current article ‘Our time begins now’ respectively.
  • These articles focus on a recently released report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).   
  • The article however which would be at the centrepiece of our discussion would be the current article, i.e. ‘Our time begins now’- this is almost completely devoted to the Indian perspective.  

Larger Background:

  • Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a special report on global warming of 1.5°C over pre-industrial temperatures.
  • This special report, provides details on how the global response to climate change needs to be strengthened within the broader context of sustainable development and continuing efforts to eradicate poverty.

What are its main focus areas?

  • The impacts of 1.5°C of warming and the possible development pathways by which the world could get there are its main focus.

A Brief Historical Perspective:

  • It was in the year 2015, at the Paris climate conference, that the global community made a pact to pursue efforts to limit warming to within 1.5°C. This level was half a degree below the previous target of 2°C.
  • This lower limit was greeted then with surprise and enthusiasm.

A Note on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change.
  • The IPCC was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988.
  • This was done so to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.
  • In the same year, 1988, the UN General Assembly endorsed the action by WMO and UNEP in jointly establishing the IPCC.

What does the IPCC do?

  • The IPCC reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters.
  • As an intergovernmental body, membership of the IPCC is open to all member countries of the United Nations (UN) and WMO.

A Deeper Insight:

    • For most people, the difference between 1.5°C and 2°C may seem trivial when daily temperatures fluctuate much more widely. However, the reference here is to global average temperatures. Different regions of the earth will warm at different rates.
    • For instance, it is important to note that the Arctic is already experiencing warming that is many times higher than the global average.
  • It is believed that if nations do not mount a strenuous response against climate change, average global temperatures, which have already crossed 1°C, are likely to cross the 1.5°C mark around 2040.
  • As a result, the window of opportunity to take action is very small and closing fast.
  • Experts believe that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has come out with a clear scientific consensus. This scientific consensus calls for a reversal of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, to prevent severe harm to humanity in the decades ahead.
  • Experts further believe that there is now greater confidence in time-bound projections on the impacts of climate change on agriculture, health, water security and extreme weather. They further assert that with sound policies, the world can still pull back, although major progress must be achieved by 2030.

The Impact Half a degree of warming can have:

    • It is important to note that half a degree of warming makes a world of difference to many species. The chance of survival of these species is significantly reduced at the higher temperature.
  • At 1.5°C warming, ocean acidification will be reduced (compared to 2°C warming), with better prospects for marine ecosystems.
  • There is likely to be less intense and frequent hurricanes; droughts would not be as intense and heat waves would have smaller effects on crops; there would also be a reduced likelihood of an ice-free Arctic in summers.

Rise in Sea Levels:

    • Conservative studies estimate that sea levels would rise on average by about 50 cm by 2100 in a 2°C warmer world, 10 cm more than for 1.5°C warming.
    • However, beyond 2100, the overall assurance of much higher sea level rise is greater in a 2°C world.
  • The risks to food security, health, fresh water, human security, livelihoods and economic growth are already on the rise and will be worse in a 2°C world.
  • The number of people exposed to the complex and compounded risks from warming will also increase.
  • Further, the poorest, who are mostly in Asia and Africa, will suffer the worst impacts.
  • It is important to note that adaptation, or the changes required to withstand the temperature rise, will also be lower at the lower temperature limit.
  • A danger in crossing tipping points also arise.

What are ‘Tipping points’?

Tipping points’, are essentially the thresholds beyond which the earth’s systems are no longer able to stabilise.  

The danger in crossing tipping points becomes higher with more warming.

Such tipping points include:
a)  melting of Greenland ice,
b) collapse of Antarctic glaciers (which would lead to several metres of sea level rise), c) destruction of Amazon forests,
d) melting of all the permafrost and so on.

A Perspective from Asia:

  • It is important to note that countries such as: India, Pakistan and China are already suffering moderate effects of warming.
  • Such moderate effects of warming are felt in areas such as
  1. water availability,
  2. food production and
  3. land degradation.

The report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) asserts that these areas will worsen.

  • Further, closer to a 2°C increase, these impacts are expected to spread to sub-Saharan Africa, and West and East Asia.
  • The prognosis for India is particularly worrying. There is evidence to suggest it is among the regions that would experience the largest reductions in economic growth in a 2°C scenario.
  • The commitment to generate 100 GW of solar energy by 2022 should lead to a quick scale-up from the 24 GW installed, and cutting down of coal use.
  • Further, as a remedial measure, agriculture needs to be strengthened with policies that improve water conservation, and afforestation should help create a large carbon sink. There is a crucial role for all the States, since their decisions will have a lock-in effect.

A Note on the IPCC Report:

The IPCC report identifies two main strategies.

  1. Strategy 1: The first strategy stabilises global temperature around the 1.5°C mark with limited overshoot.  
  2. Strategy 2: The second strategy permits temperatures to exceed 1.5°C temporarily before coming back down.

The consequences of the temporary overshoot would cause worse impacts than the first approach. To limit warming to around 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot, global net carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions need to decline by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero around mid-century. In comparison, to limit warming to just below 2°C, the reductions needed are about 20% by 2030 and reach net zero around 2075.

Mitigation:

    • There are a number of mitigation pathways illustrated to achieve these reductions. However, it is important to note that all of these mitigation pathways incorporate different levels of CO2 removal.
    • These different methods will themselves involve various risks, costs and trade-offs.
  • But there are also many synergies between achieving mitigation targets and fulfilling Sustainable Development Goals.
  • To stay below 1.5°C, the transitions required by energy systems and human societies, in areas such as land use, transport, and infrastructure, would have to be rapid and on an unprecedented scale with deep emission reductions.

Editorial Analysis:

  • It is important to note that even at the time of its signing in 2015, it was clear that the Paris Agreement on climate change would not be enough to avoid global warming of 1.5° C over pre-industrial temperatures.
  • As a matter of fact, early analyses revealed that the collective effect of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) would result in 3-5° C of warming.
  • However, recently, there has been mounting pressure on India to raise its pledges further. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on 1.5° C has come at a time when there are multiple alarms for India.
  • Another study in Nature Climate Change identifies India as the country with the most expected damage from rising levels of carbon dioxide.
  • A Question arises: How should India respond?
  • Further, it is important to note that India’s NDC is already ambitious and it has made decisive changes in its energy sector.
  • From an international perspective, we observe that the U.S. has pulled out of the climate treaty, and the support of Australia and Brazil teeters on the outcome of their respective elections.
  • Even some countries are also doing less than they claim. According to Kevin Anderson at the University of Manchester, with aviation, shipping and trade counted, the U.K. has made no reduction to its greenhouse gas emissions.

The Indian Context:

Experts believe that India has two complex and inter-related problems. These are:
1. To bring a vast population out of poverty and into decent lives.
2. To do this while dealing responsibly with the global carbon challenge and building resilience to climate change.

Although India is often mentioned along with China in climate-related discussions as a large emerging economy, the two are very different.

For example:

    • India ranks 130 among nations in the Human Development Index, and China ranks 86.
    • Further, in spite of remarkable recent improvements, India still has 364 million living in multidimensional poverty.
    • Nearly a third (27.5%) are multidimensionally poor and about a fifth (19.1%) are vulnerable to becoming poor.
    • As a consequence, almost half the country is therefore at high risk from events such as loss of a job or ill health of a family member. Combined with damage from a severe cyclone, flood or drought, each subsequent shock will have a multiplier effect on hundreds of millions, potentially pushing them deeper into poverty.
  • To compound matters, when we add the dimension of the current rural distress and the large youth bulge with few job prospects, we find that India is in dire straits.
  • It is clear that past development frameworks have not improved well-being across social strata. Instead, evidence indicates that economic growth has gone hand-in-hand with rising inequality and the creation of a small but powerful class of the super-rich.

The Role of SDG’s:

  • It emerges that the most sensible way to deal with these complex challenges is to deepen and expand India’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • It is important to note that the synergies of meeting SDGs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to a changing climate can only be fully realised if transformative and cross-scale changes are conceived, deliberated upon and tested widely.
  • Experts point out that, “scaling up” may not be the correct way to think about what is needed; rather, replication with context-relevant modifications through local and institutional innovation may be more appropriate for a country of India’s size and ecological diversity.
  • Experts also point out that the 1.5° C report calls for societal transformation on a global scale that “reflect[s] the links, synergies and trade-offs between mitigation, adaptation and sustainable development.”
  • Crucially, recent events, however, show that we cannot trade off forests, urban water bodies, riverine ecosystems, waste management or groundwater as these come back to bite us as floods, landslides, droughts and infectious disease.
  • It is important to point out that India, nevertheless, has a large number of successful examples of transformative innovation around energy production and access, land, livelihoods and climate resilience. For example:
    a) The Bureau of Energy Efficiency showed how government ‘nudges’ are made effective through appliance labelling and large-scale procurement of efficient devices. b) In the building and cement industry, innovation around housing and new materials, including natural fibre composites, could make far-reaching changes in infrastructure through low-carbon modular technologies.

What lies ahead:

  • It is important to note that India expects to reach its ambitious solar target of 100 GW capacity by 2022 primarily through large centralised solar power plants, but these require significant amounts of land, water and evacuation infrastructure and support from mega-corporations.
  • Experts point out that as some States have shown, renewable-based microgrids can become an important feature of electricity policy. For example, Jharkhand, which has 249 remote villages powered by solar microgrids, is now considering their use even in villages that are already grid connected.
  • Experts also suggest that in the near future, entrepreneurs could make use of rapidly lowering storage costs to build decentralised, neighbourhood-scale micro-utilities, managed by locally owned enterprises and cooperatives.
  • With modern power electronics and innovations in hybrid waste to energy, water recycling and community gardens could be integrated as standalone modules that are connected to larger grids.
  • When we take a look at examples involving sustainable approaches to land, we find that they are evident in cases such as:
  1. Forest conservation in Mendha-Lekha village in Maharashtra and
  2. Community delivery of public services in Nagaland. It is important to note that these and several other instances are documented in initiatives such as Vikalp Sangam. Similarly, in a recent comment in Nature, Harini Nagendra points out that India has for long had strongly rooted cultural movements about living sustainably with land and its ecology that provide practical models.
  • As a matter of fact, some research groups have recognised that agro-ecology methods are best suited for increasing crop yield, raising profits, trapping soil carbon, reducing dependence on fertilisers and pesticides.
  • In fact, successful models are already effective on small scales in many States.
    For example, the state of Andhra Pradesh is attempting to replicate widely one such approach, ‘Zero Budget Natural Farming’, to all its farmers by 2024 with an expected savings of 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. This is with 6 million farmers across 8 million hectares.
  • It is believed that if similar methods were used for the entire country, the savings would be substantial.
  • Further, experts believe that in transport and urbanisation, the challenge is to create isotropic communities in the areas of the peri-urban, the rapidly expanding hinterland, which would have to be designed around not cars but walking, cycling and sustainable neighbourhood vehicles.
  • It is believed that work and industry would also have to focus on the small and medium scale of about 300 employees and modest capital investments, which reduce the risk of speculation and jobless growth.
  • Finally, energy and livelihood gains from such alternative visions could be far more significant than conventional ways of replacing fossil-fuelled infrastructure with renewables. But they also involve a lot of learning-by-doing, living laboratories and innovation, practice, patience and support from government and academia.

Concluding Remarks:

    • In conclusion, it is believed that large investments are needed to make the transitions in each sector that would take India to a near zero-carbon economy.
    • However, given the shortage of external support and the need for rapid deployment, India will not be able to rely entirely on external funds.
    • Experts indicate that some of this could instead be financed through a ‘luxury’ carbon tax that curbs non-essential consumption. Savings can also be expected from the economic and social transformation itself.
    • Also, political pressure and activism across the globe may soon turn the tide in other countries, but India needs to begin now with its enormous untapped successes. We cannot be pressured from outside, but need to change from within.
  • Further, going back to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on global warming of 1.5°C over pre-industrial temperatures, experts believe that Governments should achieve net zero CO2 addition to the atmosphere, balancing man-made emissions through removal of CO2.
    • Further, there is public support for this and governments must go even beyond what they have committed to.
  • The IPCC makes it clear that the human and economic costs of a 2°C rise are far greater than for 1.5°C, and the need for action is urgent.
    • It is important to note that human activity has warmed the world by 1°C over the pre-industrial level and with another half-degree rise, many regions will have warmer extreme temperatures, raising the frequency, intensity and amount of rain or severity of drought.
    • Further, risks to food security and water, heat exposure, drought and coastal submergence all increase significantly even for a 1.5°C rise.
    • There are some important questions that need to be answered. For example:
      How is the remaining carbon budget, that is the room available in the atmosphere to safely contain more CO2, going to be shared among different countries? This is a difficult question to address, given the contentious nature of the negotiations.
    • Further, it has been reported, for example, that the U.S. has been obstructionist in the deliberations in areas such as Incheon, South Korea, at the recent meeting to determine the final text of the report. The U.S. also reiterated its intent to pull out of the Paris Agreement.
    • In conclusion, it is important to note that the contributions from the U.S. and other rich countries to the Green Climate Fund and other funding mechanisms for the purpose of mitigation and adaptation are vital even to reach the goals of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
  • These Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are commitments that each country made prior to the Paris conference. Even if all the NDCs are implemented, the world is expected to warm by over 3°C.
    • Further, it is important to note that the disputes over the implementation of the Paris Agreement at numerous meetings, depict the deep divides among rich countries, emerging economies and least developed countries.
  • The next Conference of the Parties will be held in Poland.
  • Each nation from the global community of nations, will have to decide whether to play politics on a global scale for one’s own interests or to collaborate to protect the world and its ecosystems as a whole. The path forward offers no simple or easy solutions.

Category: SOCIAL JUSTICE: SEXUAL HARASSMENT

1. #MeTooIndia: Will it change the way men behave?

Note to Students:

This is an important topic to cover for UPSC aspirants as there has been much coverage on different channels such as social media and print media. Students must also look at this topic also from the perspective of the legislations enacted by Parliament to protect the interests of women. We shall look into the different facets of this topic taking into account a larger background as well as the editorial as featured in The Hindu.  

In an effort to lend a greater degree of perspective to this issue, we have also taken points covered by the Hindu which were featured in two articles, namely: “#UsToo” and “Not without her consent”.

Larger Background:

What is Sexual Harassment?

  • Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexually defined behaviour which can range from misbehaviour of an irritating nature to the most serious forms such as sexual abuse and assault, including rape.  
  • The Sexual Harassment of Women (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 defines sexual harassment to include any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication) namely:
  1. Physical contact and advances
  2. A demand or request for sexual favours
  3. Making sexually coloured remarks
  4.  Showing pornography
  5. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

What is sexual harassment at workplace?

Sexual harassment at the workplace is any unwelcome sexually defined behaviour which has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, abusive or offensive working environment.

The Sexual Harassment of Women (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 states that if the following circumstances  occur or are present in relation to, or connected with any act or behaviour of sexual harassment, it may amount to sexual harassment at the workplace:

  1. Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment in her employment; or
  2. Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in her employment; or

III.            Implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status; or

  1. Interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for her; or
  2. Humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety.

Taking a look at some important questions:

  • Can an aggrieved file a civil suit in a case of sexual harassment in the workplace?

Yes, a civil suit can be filed for damages under tort laws. The basis for filing the case would be mental anguish, physical harassment, loss of income and employment caused by the sexual harassment.

  1. Under what circumstances can complaints be filed?

Complaints may be filed under the following circumstances:

  •        Cases involving individuals from the same organization
  •        Cases that concern third party harassment, which implies harassment from an outsider.
  1. Where can I file a complaint?

o       Internal Complaints Committee – if you are an aggrieved woman who has a relationship of work with that specific organization

o       Local Complaints Committee – if you are an employee from an establishment where the Internal Complaints Committee has not been constituted due to having less than 10 workers. In the case that the complaint is against the employer himself/herself and the individual feels that the case may be compromised, she can also lodge the complaint in the LCC

o       For instances where the LCC may not be immediately accessible, the Act instructs the District officer to designate one nodal officer in every block, taluka and tehsil in rural or tribal area and ward or municipality in the urban area, who will receive the complaint and forward it to the concerned LCC within 7 days.

o       Local police station, in case provisions under the Indian Penal Code are applicable.

An Indian Context:

  • India has signed and ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
  • In 1997 as part of the Vishaka judgment, the Supreme Court drew upon the CEDAW and laid down specific guidelines on the prevention of sexual harassment of women at the workplace.
  • The Vishaka guidelines defined sexual harassment and codified preventive measures and redressal mechanisms to be undertaken by employers.

A Look at Recent Updates:

  1. Cases:  
    • Actor Tanushree Dutta’s had made allegations, in an interview in end-September, of harassment at the hands of actor Nana Patekar on a film set a decade ago.
    • There has also been the recent development where at last count, Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar has been accused of sexual harassment by at least 10 women journalists. These accusations with respect to Nana Patekar fall in a large spectrum that range from inappropriate behaviour to acts of physical impropriety, while some date back to more than 15 years.
    • In the immediate aftermath of this development, women have been speaking of their experiences and the trauma, mostly on Twitter and Facebook.
  • The testimonies that have so far been expressed have mostly concerned the film world and the mainstream media, and cover both the workplace and private spaces.
  • These testimonies range from stories of assault to propositioning, suggestiveness to stalking.
  • Currently, in India, many questions arise. What is perhaps of even greater disquiet is that for so long an official silence was kept around what were, in many instances, open secrets.
  1. Origins of the MeToo Movement:
  • The MeToo hashtag gained currency a year ago in the U.S.
  • In the U.S., women came out one after another to first corroborate allegations of sexual assault against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
  • There were many allegations levelled and each further account made it clear that there was a systemic pattern of abuse and silence.

III. A Note on the Due Process:

  • Experts believe that there has been an utter failure of due process.
  • Unfortunately, victims have written formal complaints and have also tried to get their organisations to act, but they have mostly found themselves facing a system that prefers to be complicit with the perpetrators.
  • A couple of cases further illustrate this:
  1. In the case of the former TERI chairman, R.K. Pachauri, for instance, despite the victim filing a police complaint and compelling the organisation to initiate an inquiry, he not only continued in TERI for another year but was publicly supported by the board members.
  2. There is another case of rape that one can sight against the former Editor of Tehelka, Tarun Tejpal. In spite of being a “fast track” case, five years on, it has only seen a series of adjournments, with no sign of justice on the horizon.

It is important to note that these events, when added to the daily news cycle of multiple rapes, stalking, and harassment from all across the country, have resulted in victims of sexual crimes entirely losing faith in the justice system.

Experts believe that the failure of due process is the success of #MeToo. After decades of witnessing the impunity of the perpetrators, #MeToo is fuelled by an impunity of sorts of the ‘victims’.

  1. Certain areas that need clarity:
  • Currently, the floodgates have been opened and various kinds of stories are getting expose. These stories range from awkward flirting to physical assault.
  • One other factor that is dividing the discussion into two is the nature of consent.
  • It is important to note that what needs consent is often a function of society. For example, many aspects of intersexual behaviour especially in the workplace that were acceptable 30 years ago, needless to say, are not tolerated any more.
  • However, we observe that with the advent of smartphones and instant messaging, interpersonal behaviour and the definition of consent have undergone a major change in the last decade.
  • Thus, stemming from this, it is imperative at this point to understand that consent is not static, but needs to be continuous and incremental.

A Reflection on the Present Situation:

  • It is important to identify the exact transgression in the various cases that are being expressed, and to ensure that action is taken with due process.
  • Further, it is important to note that no one can be deemed guilty only because he had been named and any punishment must be proportionate to the misdemeanour.
  • It is also important to consider that many people, especially men, have raised concerns regarding false accusations. This remains valid, and there have been instances of this even in the last 10 days.
  • No movement is perfect, and all battles have a certain amount of collateral damage.
  • It is important that men be active allies in making the due process a fair and functional one in which all victims, including those of false allegations, can seek justice.
  • It is imperative now that the building of a new, fair system that delivers brisk justice, critical to everyone’s interests is initiated.
  • In conclusion, we should note that there has been a systemic disregard for making workplaces and common spaces free of harassment.
  • What is disturbing is that a thread that binds so many allegations now coming out is that many women thought that their words and feelings would be dismissed, their careers would suffer, or their families would pull them back into the safety of home.
  • It is this fear of making a complaint that needs to be overcome in all workspaces, not only the media and the film industry.
  • All of society needs to internalise a new normal that protects a woman’s autonomy and her freedom from discrimination at the workplace.

Editorial Analysis:

This Editorial Analysis will take into account 3 different perspectives on the same issue.

Analysis I:

This particular view takes the perspective that the #MeTooIndia movement will change the way men behave.

  • It is important to note that Judge Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the United States Supreme Court after allegations of attempted rape against him divided the country on his nomination.
  • In India, we observe that politicians were mostly silent on the allegations against M.J. Akbar until public pressure and more allegations forced him to resign as Minister of State for External Affairs.
  • Further, we see that actor Nana Patekar, who had the support of faceless online mobs, has not shown any remorse after the allegations against him.
  • Also, both Mr. Akbar and Mr. Patekar have filed criminal defamation suits against their accusers.

Will behaviour of Men change?

  • It’s hard to be hopeful and say that the behaviour of men will change after the #MeToo movement.
  • However, certain experts  would like to believe that this will happen.
  • The first and toughest step in fighting any oppression is to tell the oppressor that his power over you is not absolute and that it will not remain unchallenged.
  • It is important to note that #MeToo has enabled women to take that step against workplace harassment. Such harassment had been normalised to the extent that most women believed that it was a price they had to pay to become a part of the workforce. It is believed that the next generation of women will not grow up with that flawed belief.
  • It is also important to take cognisance of the fact that male dominance over women is systematic, institutionalised, and, above all, physical. Power has been demonstrated through threats of harassment and rape, sexual assault, acid attacks, domestic violence and making spaces of cohabitation a source of constant threat. It is in response to this challenge that women have taken to social media and it’s working.

Some Noteworthy Developments:

  • We have witnessed certain headline developments over the recent past. These headline developments include:
    a) A film production and distribution company, Phantom Films, which has been dissolved;
  1. b) A Minister of State was forced to step down;
    c) Aamir Khan has ‘stepped away’ from Mogul after sexual misconduct allegations against a team member;
    d) Journalists in more than one prominent media organisation have been asked to step down, or have volunteered to do so, after allegations against them;
  2. e) Filmmaker Sajid Khan’s Housefull 4 has been stalled;
    f) Farhan Akhtar, along with several leading women directors, has decided not to work with harassers; and so on.

The Change that has occured:

  • However, it is important to note that beyond the headlines, invisible wheels have started turning.
  • For example: Industries that had no sexual harassment policy or redress mechanisms are being forced to set up committees.
  • Further, corporates are being forced to proclaim that they have zero tolerance for sexual harassment.
  • Conversations around sexual harassment that were earlier hush-hush have become loud. The lasting impact of #MeToo, long after it stops making the headlines, will be on men who know that they don’t have the guarantee of silence, that they will be made answerable for abuse, and that their ‘boys club’ won’t be enough to protect them.

Empowering women: A Reality?

    • Despite the number of men who have come out in support of #MeToo, certain experts do not believe that men will have a sudden change of heart. However, it is believed that their actions will change because #MeToo has forged an alliance of the sisterhood.
    • Further, it is important to note that the modern economy needs women in the workforce. The #MeToo movement has made it evident that being on the wrong side is also bad for business. And economy is a language that men understand.
  • In conclusion, #MeToo has given women the power to expose men, socially shame them, take away their jobs, and upset their private and professional lives. Power is a language that men understand. Fear, too, is a language that men will soon come to understand.

Analysis II:

  • This particular view takes the perspective that  the #MeTooIndia movement alone will not change the way men behave, and that The success of #MeToo will depend on instilling faith in due process.
  • It is important to note that the #MeToo movement has taken India by storm. On social and traditional media, women have come out with disturbing accounts of sexually predatory behaviour by various men, including famous ones.
  • Further, these accounts describe a spectrum of male behaviour. This spectrum of male behaviour ranges from the obviously criminal (rape, assault, molestation) to the less physical and more verbal and non-verbal manifestations that may not be obviously criminal but are creepy and obnoxious.
  • Also, these accounts have successfully blown away the veil of shame and taboo that hung over the issue of sexual harassment. This is a good development.

The Situation Post the Delhi gang-rape case:

  • One should attempt at recalling the public mood following the 2012 gang rape case in Delhi.
  • In the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape, an outraged nation demanded and got the death penalty for the rapists. Some of us expressed reservations at this and argued for better enforcement of existing laws, but the public mood was unrelenting.
  • However, nearly six years after that case, brutal rapes continue to take place.
  • At times, we as a society tend to forget that in the wake of a public outcry, passing laws is just the first step in tackling an obvious evil.
  • However, our criminal justice system — the police, the forensic and medico-legal facilities, our prosecutorial agencies and our courts — has not been provided with sufficient additional resources to give teeth to the law.
  • Experts believe that something similar is happening with the #MeToo movement.
  • It is important to note that The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, which replaced the Vishakha guidelines, was passed after the Delhi 2012 case.
  • Unfortunately, it has not been backed by additional resources.
  • Experts believe that it is not just the lack of adequate resources that is a cause for concern; it is the view that levelling charges alone is enough to ensure that the accused faces punishment.

A Few Noteworthy Points:

    • The principles of natural justice and other fundamental precepts of our criminal justice system, namely innocent until proven guilty and proof beyond reasonable doubt, cannot be done away with so easily.
    • Experts believe that those narrating their plight on social media must be prepared to back it up with a formal criminal complaint. Otherwise, they expose themselves to the possibility of facing action under our law for criminal defamation. If those accused of murder are entitled to a fair trial by due process, those accused of sexual harassment are also entitled to the same consideration.
    • There have been instances of dowry where the complainant has implicated the entire family of the husband simply to teach them a lesson. Similarly, in cases of sexual harassment where the complainant has had a relationship with the accused, one should attempt at carefully examining the evidence before deciding to file a charge sheet or drop the case.
    • It is a fact that in the absence of strong laws against perjury, and against filing false police complaints, sexual harassment laws are just as prone to abuse as any other law.
    • Further, the proponents of #MeToo should also remember that in general, our criminal laws are moving towards stringent grounds for arrest and liberal grounds for bail.
    • Thus, the kind of swift and harsh action that is being demanded against the accused in such cases may not be possible in most cases.
  • Finally, it is believed that the success of #MeToo will depend on creating a sense of faith in due process, which, in turn, will depend on the capacity of our criminal justice system to have sensitive, fair, transparent and time-bound interactions with citizens.

Analysis III:

    • This particular view takes the perspective that #MeToo will have to find a way to transcend its relatively small, elite, urban sphere of influence.
    • Currently, in our society we see that women have taken to social media to talk about being harassed, humiliated, assaulted and bullied by powerful men.
    • Further, the sheer volume of stories and the unflinching solidarity for these women is unprecedented.
    • On expected lines, there have been attempts made towards derailing, politicising, discrediting, and misusing the movement. There have also been attempts at suppressing those testifying.
    • Others are questioning what the movement stands for, its circumvention of due process, and what qualifies as harassment. It is too early to say if #MeToo will have far-reaching consequences, but it has the potential to dislodge oppressive attitudes towards women.
    • Finally, experts believe that the day of reckoning is here: that those who could not see their complicity now can, and those who consciously abuse power cannot carry on unopposed.
    • Experts believe that if change were ever possible, it is now. The extent of it will depend on the brutality of the resistance men put up, and its sustainability will depend on how the movement goes forward. For change to persist, fury will have to be followed by steadfastness, strategy, consensus building and concrete reforms.
  • Finally, it is important to note that #MeToo will also have to find a way to transcend its small, elite and urban sphere of influence.

F. Tidbits

1. Crowdfunding weddings as an art

 

  • Crowdfunding may be a millennial concept, invoked mostly in the context of an innovative creative project or social enterprise. But it is an age-old tradition in a remote tribal settlement nestled in the Eastern Ghats.
  • Villagers in Baadigam, a Jatapu tribal hamlet in the Kothru mandal of Andhra Pradesh’s Srikakulam district, deploy their own version of ‘crowdfunding’ to finance the weddings of the girls in the community.
  • It is the tradition wherein the entire community shares the wedding expenditure and sponsors the setting up of the new couple’s household.
  • “Soon after the alliance is fixed, all the families in the hamlet are invited to a gram sabha meeting, where each family announces the gifts it is offering towards the girl’s wedding. These are duly recorded.” Residents say the families promise anything — from a cot, bicycle and dressing table to TV, utensils, rice, sweets, and other things that may be required for the wedding. Some also offer cash.

2. Aim and shoot for a citizen-science repository of Indian mammals

 

  • When you are out on a trek and spot an animal that isn’t sighted commonly, what will you do? Take a picture and share it on Facebook? Now, you can also contribute to the cause of science by sharing the picture of the animal on a specific website, providing the location of spotting.
  • Scientists and researchers from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore have come up with a new citizen-science repository on Indian mammals, called Mammals of India (MaOI), which is an online, peer-reviewed, freely-accessible portal that was launched late September 2018. By October 25, as many as 768 images, of 161 species of mammals, were uploaded.
  • “So far, there was no portal exclusively for mammals. These photographic records will help us in having distribution map of mammals in the country,” Vivek Ramachandran of NCBS told The Hindu.
  • As per current estimates, 426 species of mammals are found in India; of them, 47 species are endemic to the Indian subcontinent.
  • The website provides an opportunity to anyone to upload photographic observations on mammals.

G. Prelims Fact

1. India set to be third largest aviation market

 

  • India will be the third largest aviation market globally a year sooner than was earlier predicted. It is now expected to be among the top three countries by 2024 from its current seventh position, according to global aviation body IATA.
  • In its latest 20-year forecast for the aviation industry, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says that air passenger numbers worldwide could double to 8.2 billion in 2037.
  • The biggest contribution in this growth will come from the Asia-Pacific region, which will account for half the total number of new passengers over the next 20 years.
  • While China will climb up one spot to displace the US as the world’s largest aviation market in the mid-2020s, India will take the third place by surpassing the U.K. around 2024, according to the IATA forecast.
  • In fact, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to see the fastest growth at the rate of 4.8%, followed by Africa (4.6%) and West Asia (4.4%).

Related concept – DigiYatra

  • It is an initiative of the Ministry of Civil Aviation
  • The ‘DigiYatra’ is an industry-led initiative coordinated by the Ministry in line with Prime Minister Modi’s Digital India’s vision to transform the nation into a digitally empowered society.
  • It aims to bring together entire industry to develop a digital ecosystem that will deliver Indian customers a seamless, consistent and paperless service experience at every touch point of their journey.
  • The basic objective is to reduce queues at airports and bring efficiency to the boarding process
  • All aviation stakeholders – airlines, airport operators, security and immigration agencies, cab operators, retail establishment and others are working to devise digital standards which can enable seamless exchange of data and information.

2. Digital boards will change education, says Javadekar

 

  • The launching of ‘Operation Digital Board’ across 15 lakh classrooms in the country in the next four years will change the face of education in the country, said Union Human Resource Minister Prakash Javadekar.
  • In his special message delivered via video link, Mr. Javadekar mentioned the initiatives undertaken by the NDA government to harness the digital revolution. “Our government has taken benefit of the digital revolution to educate 15 lakh teachers and making education available online and offline. Education policy today is based on accessibility, accountability, affordability and equity,” he said.

3. SCARF award for The Hindu journalist

 

  • The Hindu ’s Mumbai-based correspondent Jyoti Shelar has won the first place in the English category of Schizophrenia Research Foundation’s (SCARF) media for mental health reporting award.
  • Shelar’s report on suicides by farmers and the resultant impact on the mental health of their families won her the award.
  • Ramanathan of The Newsminute and Disha Shetty of The Wire were the other two winners.
  • Usha Narayanan’s interview with a medical professional on addressing issues due to domestic problems and N. Maheswari’s review of a documentary film on autism were chosen for awards in the Tamil category.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. With reference to “Bhitarkanika National Park”, recently in news, which of the 
following statement(s) is/are correct?
  1. Bhitarkanika National Park is located in Madhya Pradesh.
  2. It is home to country’s 70 % estuarine or salt water crocodiles.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

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

See

Answer
Question 2. With reference to “Global Liveability Index”, recently in news, which of the following 
statement(s) is/are correct?
  1. The Index was released by the World Economic Forum.
  2. In this year’s Global Liveability Index 2018, Vienna displaces Melbourne as the most liveable city in the world.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

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

See

Answer
Question 3. Helina, recently in news, is related to:
  1. Flood relief programme for Kerala.
  2. It is a programme launched by the Indian government for malnutrition.
  3. It is indigenously developed Helicopter launched Anti-Tank Guided Missile.
  4. Joint military exercise between India and Sri Lanka.

See

Answer

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. It is important to note that a recent report by the government sent to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) said a default by IL&FS could have significant repercussions, including widespread redemption pressures, sell-off in the debt market, liquidity crunch and 1,500 smaller NBFCs shutting shop for lack of adequate capital – In this context write a note on the issue of IL and FS default.
  2. Write a note on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as well as India’s position on Refugees taking a few examples.

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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