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19 December Current Affairs

Gender gap index 2018

In News:

World economic forum has released the 2018 gender gap index.

About Global gender gap report:

It is published annually by the world economic forum since 2006. Global gender gap index is a part of this which measures gender equality across four pillars– they are economic opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment and health and survival.

Performance of various countries:

Iceland has been ranked as Number 1. It is followed by Norway, Sweden and Finland.

Other countries in top 10 include Nicaragua, Rwanda, New Zealand, Philippines, Ireland and Namibia.

As per the report, at the current speed it will take about 108 years to close the overall gender gap in the world. And after 202 years there will be parity in the workplace in the world at the current rate of change.

Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and finally Yemen showed the biggest overall gender gaps of the countries surveyed.

Performance of India:

India has been ranked at 108.

It has recorded improvement in wage equality for similar work and has fully closed its tertiary education gender gap for the first time.

It ranks 142nd out of 149 countries in the economic opportunity and participation subindex.

India continues to rank third-lowest in the world on health and survival, remaining the world’s least-improved country on this subindex over the past decade.

India has slightly improved in WEF’s wage equality for similar work indicator, where it stood at 72nd place. The country has also closed its tertiary education enrolment gap for the first time in 2018 and has managed to keep its primary and secondary gaps closed for the third year running.

Interestingly, India has the second-largest artificial intelligence (AI) workforce but one of the largest AI gender gaps, with only 22% of roles filled by women.

Way ahead for India:

India needs to get more women into senior and professional roles to make more improvement in the rankings.

Source: The Hindu

Transgender Rights Bill

In News:

The Lok Sabha has passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 to give transgender persons equal rights and protection under law through a voice vote.

Background:

The Bill had gone to the standing committee, and as many as 27 amendments have been accepted by the government.

New definition:

The amendments passed include a change in the previous definition of transgender persons as “neither wholly female or wholly male”, which was criticised as being insensitive.

According to the new definition, a transgender person is somebody “whose gender does not match the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-men or trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons having socio-cultural identities such as kinnar, hijras, aravani, and jogta”.

Highlights of the Bill:

The Bill aims to stop discrimination against a transgender person in various sectors such as education, employment, and healthcare. It also directs the central and state governments to provide welfare schemes for them.

The Bill states that a person will be recognised as transgender on the basis of a certificate of identity issued through the district screening committee. This certificate will be a proof of identity as transgender and confer rights under this Bill.

Criticisms:

Several civil society groups have been vocal about their opposition to the Bill  The Bill disregards many of their suggestions as also some of the crucial points raised by the standing committee report of July 2017.

This includes the right of transgender persons to self-identification, instead of being certified by a district screening committee.

The panel had also pointed out that the Bill is silent on granting reservations to transgender persons.

The bill has prescribed punishments for organised begging. However, the Bill doesn’t provide anything to better to condition in those areas, it doesn’t provide for reservation.

The Transgender Bill does not mention any punishments for rape or sexual assault of transgender persons as according to Sections 375 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code, rape is only when a man forcefully enters a woman.

Need of the hour:

The Bill must recognise that gender identity must go beyond biological; gender identity is an individual’s deep and personal experience. It need not correspond to the sex assigned at birth. It includes the personal sense of the body and other expressions such as one’s own personal inducing proceeds.

Source: The Hindu

Draft National Child Protection Policy

In News:

Women and child development ministry has drafted a policy dedicated to the protection of children. Until now, protection of children was only a part of the broader National child policy 2013.

Background:

The Supreme Court had asked the centre to consider framing the national policy on protection of children.

Key provisions and highlights of the draft policy:

Application of the policy: The policy will apply to all Institutions and organisations including corporate and media houses government or private sector.

As per the policy all organisations must have a code of conduct based on zero tolerance of child abuse and exploitation.

The policy requires organisations to lay down that employees don’t use language or behaviour that is inappropriate, harassing, abusive, sexually provocative, demeaning or culturally inappropriate.

Institutions should also designate a staff member to ensure that procedures are in place to ensure the protection of children as well as to report any abuse.

Any individual who suspects physical, sexual or emotional abuse must report it to the helpline number 1098 or police or a child welfare committee.

What is missing?

Unlike the national child policy 2013, the latest draft doesn’t talk about children who may need additional Special Protection measures.

Left out: It also doesn’t include provisions for protecting those affected by migration, communal or sectarian violence or children forced into begging or who are in conflict with the law and those infected with HIV/AIDS.

The draft talks about organisations laying a code of conduct, but it doesn’t explain what is acceptable behavior such as conduct of teachers in schools.

What else is needed?

The Policy should address four aspects- creating awareness, prevention, reporting and responding. The draft needs to go into all these aspects, especially reporting structure involving various nodal bodies and monitoring mechanism for implementation of the guidelines.

The policy makers should take the opportunity to go beyond the role of Institutions and look at the role of individuals.

The norms should be designed in such a way that organisations can customise the policies according to the nature of their work.

Source: The Hindu

Graphene

In News:

A group of researchers at Nagpur-based Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology have developed a new technique which promises to help produce high value graphene from discarded dry cells batteries.

Details:

As of now, researchers have achieved 88% yield of graphene from a single graphite rod. It can be scaled up to the industrial level.

Significance:

Since graphene is made out of graphite, its production is both expensive and has significant environmental impact. The new technique helps both reduce the cost and preserve environment.

About Graphene:

Graphene has been touted in the global electronics industry as a “miracle material” given its strength, electrical conductivity and elasticity, and has been seen as an alternative to lithium-ion batteries since its discovery in 2004. It is a form of carbon that can be used to develop smaller, slimmer batteries but with higher capacity.

Graphene is a carbon material that is one atom thick. Its thin composition and high conductivity means it is used in applications ranging from miniaturised electronics to biomedical devices. These properties also enable thinner wire connections; providing extensive benefits for computers, solar panels, batteries, sensors and other devices.

Applications:

Graphene is widely used in making solar cells, light-emitting diodes, touch panels and smart windows. Graphene supercapacitors serve as energy storage devices with a capacity for faster charging and longer life span than traditional electrolytic batteries.

Other potential applications of graphene include water filtration and purification, renewable energy, sensors, personalised healthcare and medicine, to name a few.

Source: Down to Earth

Indian Forest Act 1927

In News:

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has started the process of “comprehensively amending” the backbone of forest governance in India—the Indian Forest Act, 1927 (IFA).

Expected outcomes:

The process would involve the examination of all the sections of the Act. The obsolete provisions will be weeded out and provisions fit for the present will be introduced.

Currently there is no definition of forest in any Indian law pertaining to forest or its governance. Therefore, the amendments will also include definitions of terms like forests, pollution, ecological services etc.

The legal definition of forests will have huge ramifications on the conservation of forests as well as the implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

The amendments will include changes to punishments and fines prescribed in the IFA, incorporate provisions related to carbon sequestering, ecological services etc.

The current practice:

According to the 1996 Supreme Court order, the dictionary definition of the word forest is taken to be the legal definition too. It covers all statutorily recognised forests, whether designated as reserved, protected or otherwise for the purpose of Section 2(i) of the Forest Conservation Act (1980). As per the Court order, the term forest land, occurring in Section 2, will not only include forest as understood in the dictionary sense, but also any area recorded as forest in the government record irrespective of the ownership.

Indian Forest Act, 1927:

The Indian Forest Act, 1927 was largely based on previous Indian Forest Acts implemented under the British. The most famous one was the Indian Forest Act of 1878.

Both the 1878 act and the 1927 one sought to consolidate and reserve the areas having forest cover, or significant wildlife, to regulate movement and transit of forest produce, and duty leviable on timber and other forest produce.

It also defines the procedure to be followed for declaring an area to be a Reserved Forest, a Protected Forest or a Village Forest.

It defines what a forest offence is, what are the acts prohibited inside a Reserved Forest, and penalties leviable on violation of the provisions of the Act.

The need for review:

Many reports like the MB Shah report of 2010 and the TSR Subramanian report of 2015, have talked about amending the IFA.

Source: The Hindu

Navic powered gadgets to TamilNadu fishermen

In News:

The Tamil Nadu government has distributed 200 Navic- powered satellite- enabled communication devices developed by ISRO to 80 fishing boat groups.

Significance:

These gadgets will help the Tamilnadu fishermen know about cyclones and provide weather updates on a real- time basis.

These gadgets are basically receivers which will produce a beep when alerts are received by the device. They are Bluetooth enabled and the alerts received can be read on the Navic app.

What is NAVIC?

NAVIC is an independent regional navigation satellite system designed to provide position information in the Indian region and 1500 km around the Indian mainland.

Services provided:

IRNSS would provide two types of services, namely Standard Positioning Services available to all users and Restricted Services provided to authorised users.

Its applications include:

  • Terrestrial, Aerial and Marine Navigation.
  • Disaster Management.
  • Vehicle tracking and fleet management.
  • Integration with mobile phones.
  • Precise Timing.
  • Mapping and Geodetic data capture.
  • Terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travelers.
  • Visual and voice navigation for drivers.

How many satellites does NAVIC consist of?

It is a regional system and so its constellation will consist of seven satellites. Three of these will be geostationary over the Indian Ocean, i.e., they will appear to be stationary in the sky over the region, and four will be geosynchronous – appearing at the same point in the sky at the same time every day. This configuration ensures each satellite is being tracked by at least one of fourteen ground stations at any given point of time, with a high chance of most of them being visible from any point in India.

Why it is necessary to have indigenous global navigation system?

Having a global navigation system bolsters the ability of a nation to serve as a net security provider, especially through the guarantee of such assurance policies. It can also play a significant role in relief efforts post disasters such as the tsunami in the Indian Ocean region in 2004 and the Pakistan-India earthquake in 2005.

Source: The Hindu

7th round of India – South Korea negotiations held

In News:

The 7th round of India – South Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations were held in South Korea from 11th to 13th December, 2018.

Highlights of the Meeting:

The discussions were positive, and subject to Indian sugar industry meeting the quality standards and specifications prescribed by the South Korean Government.

Background:

South Korea imports around 15 lac tones of raw sugar annually and the Indian sugar industry is making efforts to export raw sugar from India during 2018-19 sugar seasons.

India and South Korea will reduce duties on 11 tariff lines in a bid to expand bilateral trade by updating their existing free-trade agreement, called the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

In 2017-18, India exported goods worth $4.4 billion to South Korea while imports from the latter were worth $16.3 billion.

Difference between CECA and CEPA –

CECA – Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement

CEPA – Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement

The major “technical” difference between a CECA and CEPA is that CECA involve only “tariff reduction/elimination in a phased manner on listed/all items except the negative list and tariff rate quota (TRQ) items. CEPA also covers the trade in services and investment and other areas of economic partnership”.

So CEPA is a wider term that CECA and has the widest coverage.

Usually CECA is signed first with a country and after that negotiations may start for a CEPA.

Source: PIB

National e-Vidhan Application (NeVA) Project

In News:

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, gave details on the status of implementation of National e-Vidhan Application (NeVA) Project.

e-Vidhan:

It is a Mission Mode Project (MMP) comes under the Digital India Programme.

Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MoPA) is the ‘Nodal Ministry’ for its implementation in all the 31 States/UTs with Legislatures.

The funding for e-Vidhan is provided by the MoPA and technical support by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MietY).

The funding of NeVA is through Central Sponsored Scheme i.e. 60:40; and 90:10 for North East & hilly States and 100% for UTs.

Aim of NeVA:

It aims to bring all the legislatures of the country together, in one platform thereby creating a massive data depository without having the complexity of multiple applications.

Highlights of NeVA:

Paperless Assembly or e-Assembly is a concept involving of electronic means to facilitate the work of Assembly.

It enables automation of entire law making process, tracking of decisions and documents, sharing of information.

Through the cloud technology (Meghraj), data deployed can be accessed anywhere at any time.

The live webcasting of Lok Sabha TV and Rajya Sabha TV is also available on this application.

Doordarshan has already been enabled with provision to incorporate similar facility in respect of State Legislatures.

Himachal Pradesh is already the first Digital Legislature of the country.

Central Project Monitoring Unit (CPMU) and Detailed Project Report (DPR):

The CPMU under MoPA, is responsible for reviewing the financial and technical progress of the project. The State will prepare detailed project report (DPR) and gap analysis report.

State level project monitoring committee will carry out the technical scrutiny and financial scrutiny of the DPR and after final approval of the same will be send to the MoPA for approval.

After the technical and financial scrutiny, funds will be released for project implementation.

State Government’s Role in the implementation of e-Vidhan:

The State Government will appoint a Secretary level officer to be designated as the nodal officer/representative for e-Vidhan implementation in the State Legislature(s).

State Government will bear the funds required for running of e-Vidhan MMP after 3 years.

The State Government will ensure capacity building for the effective implementation of e-Vidhan MMP module.

State Government/Legislature will undertake maintenance and replacement of ICT equipment after 3 years.

Release of next instalment would not be made in case the utilization certificate and confirmation of release of funds by the state government of their share is not received by the CPMU.

Source: PIB

‘Farout’ Dwarf Planet

In News:

It is the most-distant body ever observed in our solar system discovered recently. It is located over 100 times farther than Earth is from the Sun.

Details:

It has been given the provisional designation 2018 VG18. It is at about 120 astronomical units (AU), where 1 AU is defined as the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

The discovery images of 2018 VG18 were taken at the Japanese Subaru 8-metre telescope located atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii on November 10, 2018. 2018 VG18 was seen for the second time in early December at the Magellan telescope at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.

The second-most-distant observed solar system object is Eris, at about 96 AU. Pluto is currently at about 34 AU, making 2018 VG18 more than three-and-a-half times more distant than the solar system’s most-famous dwarf planet.

Shiksha Setu

In News:

Shiksha Setu is a mobile application launched by Haryana Government.

Aim: To bring in Transparency in the education department and in the administration of colleges and to increase the connectivity between students, parents, teachers and administration.

Key features of the app:

The app contains all the information related to attendance, fee online admission and scholarships in all the Haryana Government colleges.

The details of lecturers of Government colleges and offices of the directorate can be accessed through the mobile app.

App will provide the students with instant information about assignments and updates of important notices circulars and other programs.

The app also provides facility of online fee payment.

National cancer Institute

National Cancer institute has been opened at Jhajjar in Haryana. The institute has been established under a project of Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Global Gender Gap Report

  • World Economic Forum (WEF) has recently released Global Gender Gap report 2018.
  • Gender gap is measured across 4 key pillars such as Economic opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment and Health & Survival.
  • According to the report, India has been ranked 108th out of 149 countries. It retains the same rank as in 2017.
  • The global list was topped by Iceland for the 10th consecutive year, having closed more than 85.8 per cent of its overall gender gap.
  • Iceland is followed by Norway, Sweden and Finland in the top slots.
  • According to the report, the world has closed 68 per cent of its gender gap and at the current rate of change, it will take 108 years to close the overall gender gap and 202 years to bring about parity in the workplace.
  • South Asia was the second-lowest ranking region in the index, with only 65 per cent of its gender gap now closed.

National Supercomputing Mission

  • India has recently granted contract to French technology firm to build 70 supercomputers under the National Supercomputing Mission.
  • The mission aims to connect national academic and R&D institutions with a supercomputing grid of over 70 high-performance computing facilities.
  • Supercomputers will be installed across the country and will be networked on the National Supercomputing grid over the National Knowledge Network (NKN).
  • It will be implemented by the Department of Science and Technology and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) through Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and IISc, Bangalore.
  • The Mission also includes development of highly professional High Performance Computing (HPC) aware human resource for meeting challenges of development of these applications.
  • The NKN is another programme of the government which connects academic institutions and R&D labs over a high speed network.

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