15th Oct, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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Delhi Air quality (GS3: Environmental pollution)
Issue: The air quality in Delhi remained poor on Sunday with drop in wind speed even as authorities predicted further fall in air quality index of the national capital in the coming days.
Reason for the increase in Air pollution in Delhi
The NASA, on its website, stated that burning crop residue has increased significantly over the past 10 days in and near Amritsar, Ambala, Karnal, Sirsa and Hisar. Burning of paddy straw every year during October and November and wheat straw during April in Punjab and Haryana are the major contributors of air pollution in Delhi-NCR, as the smoke travels towards the national capital.
About Air quality index
The Central Pollution Control Board along with State Pollution Control Boards has been operating National Air Monitoring Program (NAMP) covering 240 cities of the country having more than 342 monitoring stations. An Expert Group comprising medical professionals, air quality experts, academia, advocacy groups, and SPCBs was constituted and a technical study was awarded to IIT Kanpur. IIT Kanpur and the Expert Group recommended an AQI scheme in 2014. While the earlier measuring index was limited to three indicators, the new index measures eight parameters. The continuous monitoring systems that provide data on near real-time basis are installed in New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad.
There are six AQI categories, namely Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe. The proposed AQI will consider eight pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3, and Pb) for which short-term (up to 24-hourly averaging period) National Ambient Air Quality Standards are prescribed. Based on the measured ambient concentrations, corresponding standards and likely health impact, a sub-index is calculated for each of these pollutants. The worst sub-index reflects overall AQI. Likely health impacts for different AQI categories and pollutants have also been suggested, with primary inputs from the medical experts in the group. The AQI values and corresponding ambient concentrations (health breakpoints) as well as associated likely health impacts for the identified eight pollutants are as follows:
|AQI Category, Pollutants and Health Breakpoints|
|AQI Category (Range)||PM10 (24hr)||PM2.5 (24hr)||NO2 (24hr)||O3 (8hr)||CO (8hr)||SO2 (24hr)||NH3 (24hr)||Pb (24hr)|
|Moderately polluted (101–200)||101–250||61–90||81–180||101–168||2.1–10||81–380||401–800||1.1–2.0|
|Very poor (301–400)||351–430||121–250||281–400||209–748||17–34||801–1600||1200–1800||3.1–3.5|
|AQI||Associated Health Impacts|
|Good (0–50)||Minimal impact|
|Satisfactory (51–100)||May cause minor breathing discomfort to sensitive people.|
|Moderately polluted (101–200)||May cause breathing discomfort to people with lung disease such as asthma, and discomfort to people with heart disease, children and older adults.|
|Poor (201–300)||May cause breathing discomfort to people on prolonged exposure, and discomfort to people with heart disease.|
|Very poor (301–400)||May cause respiratory illness to the people on prolonged exposure. Effect may be more pronounced in people with lung and heart diseases.|
|Severe (401–500)||May cause respiratory impact even on healthy people, and serious health impacts on people with lung/heart disease. The health impacts may be experienced even during light physical activity.|
Post World Trade Organization (WTO) world order’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The world in general and developing countries such as India, in particular, needs to start readying for a new world trade order.
The backlash against globalization—the backbone of which was booming world trade—hitherto restricted to developing countries, now includes developed countries such as the US, too.
Reasons for backlash against globalization
Dani Rodrik, professor of international political economy at Harvard University and author of a new book, Straight Talk on Trade, blames this on severe dilution of the rules for global capital movement, unleashing what we know as the era of financial globalization. The immediate fallout of this backlash has been a fresh lease of life for populism. It provided an enabling environment to ensure that measures like trade retaliation become the primary weapon to appease the disenfranchised
Land challenge (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: From farm subsidies to farm loan waivers, the Indian government spends crores on farmer welfare, but these efforts will be inadequate unless they can tackle an increasingly daunting barrier: lack of land.
The provisional figures from the latest agriculture census reveals how land—the most critical input for agriculture—is getting more fragmented.
What the data says?
- Since the first agriculture census over 45 years ago, the number of farms in India has more than doubled from 71 million in 1970-71 to 145 million in 2015-16, while the average farm size more than halved from 2.28 hectares (ha) to 1.08ha
- Between 1970-71 and 2010-11, the number of farms increased by 194%, almost exactly in line with rural population, which increased by 189%
- Some researches show this relationship is a reflection of India’s inheritance pattern, which leads to farms divided between multiple heirs
- With an average size of 5ha, Nagaland is home to India’s largest farms. Punjab and Haryana, two states known for their agricultural output, also have larger farm sizes (3.6ha in Punjab and 2.2ha in Haryana). However, these are exceptions. The majority of India’s farms (86%) are less than 2ha. The bulk of which are located in the poorer states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar
- For marginal farmers(less than a hectare of land), household consumption exceeded net monthly income of less than ₹ 5,500 from both farming and non-farming activities. Using the 2015-16 census data, this would mean nearly 100 million farming households would struggle to make ends meet.
- Examining farmer incomes between 2003 and 2013, they find that incomes grew the least for marginal farmers and growth of incomes was proportional to the size of a farm. Doubling of farm incomes is a reality only for the largest land-owning group
The Indian experience shows that small farmers are more productive than large farmers. Ramesh Chand and others show that small farmers use more inputs (such as fertilizers), use their land more intensely (planting more crops) and adopt more technology. Yet, despite this efficiency, farm incomes remain poor. It is the poor returns to farming—despite intensive efforts put in by farmers—that lie at the root of India’s farm crisis, and the recent farm angst.
Given household sizes in rural India, small farms struggle to generate enough income for everyone in a household and often lack alternative sources of income
- One obvious solution to small farm sizes will be consolidating land into larger farms by enabling land leasing. However, this can be a complex and costly process, made more difficult by the lack of accurate land records.
- Improving land records, investing in research and development, providing local rural non-farm employment opportunities and building better rural infrastructure are policies that can help small farmers.
Windmills and wildlife (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Windmills are seen as a source of green energy, but researchers say they pose a threat to wildlife in forests through collisions and noise.
What recent research says about it?
The impact of the giant structures in Karnataka was studied by researchers from Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) during a two-year project. They found that windmills killed birds and bats in collisions, and that birds and mammals also moved away due to the noise.
The noise levels near windmills go up to 85 decibels (dB), the equivalent of large trucks. The drone of a turbine, which operates day and night, is above 70dB. By comparison, noise in urban areas is 55 dB and even in industrial areas, is lower at 75dB. Ambient noise in forests is less than 40 dB.
Such avoidance and movement to forest fringes might increase conflict with humans. This calls for protocols and policy guidelines before diverting forest land for wind farms
World Students day (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Former president of India, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam has been an inspiration to many. Born on October 15 in Tamil Nadu, his birthday is celebrated as World Students’ day to commemorate his works in the field of education
About APJ ‘Missile Man’ Kalam
Kalam studied aerospace engineering and worked as a scientist. Owing to his contribution in the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology, he was widely known as the ‘Missile Man of India’.
Apart from science, his interest in philosophy, languages and literature saw the former president leave his imprint in them. He received doctorates from universities all around the world and was also a connoisseur of music. He was a prolific writer and wrote 18 books, 22 poems and 4 songs during his lifetime.
Compensation for sexual abuse victims (GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: The State government has notified the Tamil Nadu Victim Compensation Scheme for Women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault/Other Crimes, 2018, in line with the Supreme Court judgment delivered last month.
About the bill
Under the scheme, a rape survivor will get a minimum compensation of ₹4 lakh. In the case of a survivor of gang rape, the compensation would be ₹5 lakh. If the woman has lost her life, her dependant would be entitled to a compensation of ₹7 lakh.
The maximum compensation that could be granted in cases of loss of life as well as gang rape is ₹10 lakh and the maximum compensation for rape could be ₹7 lakh, as per the scheme.
Justice Verma report (GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: The Centre recently announced its plan to set up a panel of judges to look into the legal and institutional framework to curb sexual harassment at workplaces following the #MeToo campaign on social media.
However, as early as 2013, the Justice J.S. Verma Committee, in its landmark report on gender laws, had recommended setting up of an employment tribunal instead of an internal complaints committee (ICC) in sweeping changes to the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Bill.
What Justice Verma report said?
- The Committee, chaired by Justice Verma and including Justice Leila Seth and senior lawyer Gopal Subramanium, termed the Sexual Harassment Bill “unsatisfactory” and said it did not reflect the spirit of the Vishakha guidelines — framed by the Supreme Court in 1997 to curb sexual harassment at the workplace.
- The report noted that an internal complaints committee as laid down under the then proposed law would be “counter-productive” as dealing with such complaints in-house could discourage women from filing complaints. Instead, the committee proposed forming an employment tribunal to receive and adjudicate all complaints.
- To ensure speedy disposal of complaints, the Justice Verma Commitee proposed that the tribunal should not function as a civil court but may choose its own procedure to deal with each complaint.
- The Committee said any “unwelcome behaviour” should be seen from the subjective perception of the complainant, thus broadening the scope of the definition of sexual harassment.
- The panel also made several suggestions to encourage women to come forward and file complaints. For instance, it opposed penalising women for false complaints and called it an “abusive provision intended to nullify the objective of the law”.
- The Verman panel also said that the time-limit of three months to file a complaint should be done away with and a complainant should not be transferred without her consent.