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18th November Current Affairs

Isn’t reservation for the poor a good thing?

(GS-II: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors)

In News:

The SC has upheld the constitutionality of the 103rd Constitution Amendment, which provides 10% reservation to the EWS but excludes the ‘poorest of poor’ among the SCs, STs and OBCs from this quota, igniting debate over the issue of reservation.

Debate on the issue in the context of the recent SC verdict:

Should the reservation be a means to address poverty?

No. Reservations result in quotas, setting aside the principle of equality. Thus, reservations should be kept for the most challenging types of discrimination, rather than temporary issues like those arising from economic reasons.

Reservation is not an exception to the rule of equality but is required by the principle of substantive equality. It is open to a democratically elected government to introduce reservation on grounds other than caste as well.

Is it necessary to reconsider caste-based reservations?

The SC in the 1992 Indra Sawhney verdict, justified the positive discrimination policies (caste-based) in existence in India since Independence.

However, 30 years after the Mandal decision, caste is not to blame for the kinds of socioeconomic inequities that exist today.

Can the reservation be provided without proof of inadequate representation?

Reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs were introduced with proof that these communities were not adequately represented.

But, the EWS quota has not been brought under Article 16(4) of the Constitution, which requires proof of the inadequacy of representation in government services.

Also, reservation is no longer a special tool meant to address discrimination and can be used to address all forms of backwardness and disadvantage.

How does the EWS affect the equality code of the Constitution?

As the Constitution authorise the state to make any positive discriminatory provision, it does not violate the equality code.

This is a consequentialist moment in Indian social justice discourse because it is changing the nature of reservations in the country.

Way ahead:

A comprehensive debate on reservation policies involving all stakeholders is needed.

Certain reforms like sub-classification of beneficiaries are necessary to enhance equal access to quotas which have been cornered by certain castes for generations.

If a class can be used to determine beneficiaries, why not religion? In light of substantial evidence of religious discrimination, prejudice and disadvantage against minorities such as Muslims, this issue requires an immediate response.

Kabir Das

In News:

Prahlad Tipaniya, a folk singer, has a devoted following who credit him with reigniting interest in Kabir Das, the 15th-century mystic poet.

Sant Kabir Das:

Kabir Das was a 15th-century Bhakti movement poet, saint and social reformer from the nirgun parampara (the tradition of the formless god).

He was influenced by his master Ramananda and his verses can be found in the Guru Granth Sahib.

His legacy lives on through the Kabir Path, a religious community whose members are referred to as Kabir panthis.

Kabir’s compositions have appeared in literary works such as Kabir Bijak, Kabir Parachai, Sakhi Granth and Kabir Granthawali.

About the Bhakti Movement:

The Bhakti movement refers to a trend started by a number of Hindu saints in medieval Hinduism to introduce religious reforms by using devotion to obtain salvation.

It flourished in 8th-century south India and spread northwards reaching its zenith between 15-17th century.

Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana scheme (PMGKAY)

In News:

Government extended PMGKAY in September this year.

Significance of the scheme:

Initially introduced to help the poor fight the battle against Covid-19

IMF working paper concluded that “the social safety net provided by the expansion of India’s food subsidy program absorbed a major part of the pandemic shock”

Features of the scheme:

80 crore NFSA beneficiaries will get 5 kg wheat or rice and 1 kg of preferred pulses for free every month per person ( this is apart from 35kg per month per family under Antyodaya Anna Yojana and 5 Kg per month per person for Priority Households, under National Food Security Act (NFSA))

PMGKAY covers even Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) beneficiaries

Its nodal Ministry is the Ministry of Finance

Issues:

High budget constraints.

The problem of diversion from the Public Distribution System (PDS).

Core and Headline inflation

In News:

Core retail inflation rose from 6.3 per cent in September to 6.5 per cent in October.

Details:

Headline inflation is a measure of the total inflation within an economy, including commodities such as food and energy prices (e.g., oil and gas), which tend to be much more volatile and prone to inflationary spikes.

It shows the short-term impact of Inflation on the Economy

Core inflation is the change in the costs of goods and services but does not include those from the food and energy sectors. Food and energy prices are exempt from this calculation because their prices can be too volatile or fluctuate wildly.

It shows the long-term impact of inflation on the economy and on the production of goods and services

Retail Inflation is measured in India using Consumer Price Index- Combined (CPI-C).

Measles

In News:

Measles outbreak in Mumbai

Why the cases are rising in India?

India has the dubious distinction of having the highest number of measles cases in the world.

The COVID pandemic led to a large number of children remaining unvaccinated

Measles/Rubella is a highly contagious viral infection ( caused by morbillivirus) and is associated with high mortality in children less than 2 years of age.

Symptoms: High fever, runny nose and Red rashes

Spread: Through droplets of nose, throat or mouth

Government steps:

Nationwide Measles elimination campaign in 2017-2018 wherein all school-going children were immunised with an extra dose of Measles containing Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccine

National Strategic Plan to eliminate measles.