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7th November Current Affairs

FAO’S State of Food and Agriculture report 2022

(GS-III: e-Technology in the aid of farmers)

In News:

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), agricultural automation might exacerbate inequality if technology is inaccessible to small-scale producers and other marginalised groups.


Agriculture automation covers all the practices that help with planting and harvesting with the aid of machines and other devices.

Background: The recently released FAO’S State of Food and Agriculture report 2022 looked at how agricultural automation (which includes anything from tractors to artificial intelligence) in our agri-food systems can contribute to achieving sustainable development goals.

Highlights of the report:

Agricultural automation plays an important role in making food production more efficient and environmentally friendly.

However, it can also deepen inequalities if it remains inaccessible to small-scale producers and other marginalised groups.

Agricultural automation can lead to unemployment in places where rural labour is abundant and wages are low.

There are wide disparities in the spread of automation between and within countries, with adoption being particularly limited in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, Japan had more than 400 tractors per 1,000 hectares of arable land, compared with just 0.4 in Ghana in 2005.

Recommendations given in the report on how to minimise risks:

Sustainable rental mechanisms are key for aiding mechanisation in regions with poor agri-automation.

Policymakers should avoid subsidising automation in labour-abundant regions. They should focus on creating an enabling environment for adopting automation.

Social protection should be provided to the least skilled workers, who are more likely to lose their jobs during the transition.

Way ahead:

Without technological progress and increased productivity, there is no possibility of lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.

Hence, it is the need of the hour to ensure that automation takes place in a way that is inclusive and promotes sustainability.

Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas

In News:

To commemorate the contribution of the tribal freedom fighters,  the Ministry of Education is celebrating the ‘Janjatiya Gaurav Divas’.


The government had declared 15th November as ‘Janjatiya Gaurav Divas’ dedicated to the memory of brave tribal freedom fighters.

15th November is the birth anniversary of Birsa Munda who is revered as Bhagwan by tribal communities across the country.

About Birsa Munda:

Birsa Munda was an iconic freedom fighter, social reformer, and revered tribal leader of the country, who fought bravely against the exploitative system of the British colonial government, and became a legendary figure in his lifetime, often referred to as ‘Bhagwan’.

He organized and led the tribal movement, giving a call for “Ulgulan” (Revolt, 1899-1900) to the tribals. He encouraged tribals to understand their cultural roots and observe unity.

EWS quota Constitutional

In News:

The Supreme Court upheld the validity of reservation to economically weaker sections (EWS) of society among the general category by a majority judgment of 3:2.

Arguments by Judges:

Favours: The state can make special provisions and the exclusion of SEBCs, STs, SCs, and OBCs does not violate the equality code. Reservation should have a deadline to usher in an egalitarian society. Efforts should be made to eliminate the causes of backwardness.

Against the quota: Reservation on the basis of economic criterion is per se valid, but excluding others who are backward (SC/ST/OBC/SEBC) is a violation of the basic structure. All the poorest, regardless of caste or class, are discriminatory. Strikes at the essentials of non-discriminatory rule.

Government’s View: The government maintained that the 10% quota was not an addition to the 50% ceiling on the reservation. It said the EWS quota was an “independent compartment”. The government has said it will increase seats by 25% in its institutions to accommodate the EWS quota.

Background: The 10% EWS quota was introduced under the 103rd Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2019 by amending Articles 15 and 16. It inserted Article 15 (6) and Article 16 (6). Economic reservation in jobs and admissions in educational institutes for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) among forward communities.


In News:

Union Rural Development Ministry has removed the existing cap of 20 simultaneous works per gram panchayat and increased it to up to 50, on account of the large size of the gram panchayat.


Other contentious issues: Centre is alleged to owe ₹19 crores for social audit in MGNREGA, but it has given only ₹2.69 crores till now; the Government has reduced person days under MGNREGA, thus impacting the job security of the poor in the states.

Previously, the Centre had accepted various recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee.


It guarantees “the right to work”, by legally providing at least 100 days of wage employment in rural India.

Implementation: The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) in association with state governments. It is a centrally-sponsored scheme.

Within 15 days of submitting the application or from the day work is demanded (demand-driven scheme), wage employment will be provided to the applicant, and allowances in case employment are not provided.

Social Audit of MGNREGA works is mandatory

Gram Sabha and the Gram Panchayat approve the shelf of works under MGNREGA and fix their priority.

Snow leopard

In News:

The first-ever snow leopard recording from the Baltal-Zojila region has renewed hope for the elusive predator in higher altitudes of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.


So far, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have completed the Snow Leopard Population Assessment of India (SPAI).

Camera trapping exercises conducted by experts from the Nature Conservation Foundation (India) have also raised expectations for other rare species such as the Asiatic ibex, brown bear and Kashmir musk deer in India’s far north.

About the Snow leopard:

  • The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is a felidae (a family of mammals in the order Carnivora) in the genus Panthera.
  • It is native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia, ranging from eastern Afghanistan, the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau to southern Siberia, Mongolia and western China.
  • It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

It is a good indicator species (whose presence, absence or abundance reflects a specific environmental condition) as it quickly reacts to habitat disturbances.

How is India planning to end child marriage

(GS-II: Indian Society; Social Justice; Issues related to women; Governance)

In News:

UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage team is on a visit to India to witness state interventions which have helped reduce the prevalence of child marriage.


Child marriage in India is defined as the marriage solemnized between two people where the female is below the age of 18 years or the male is below the age of 21 years.

Status of child marriage in India:

As per the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), India is home to the largest number of child brides in the world – accounting for a third of the global total.

While there has been a decline in the incidence of child marriage nationally (from 54% in 1992-93 to about 23% (2020-21)) and in nearly all states, the pace of change remains slow, especially for girls in the age group 15-18 years.

Pandemic has increased the instances of Child Marriage.

Child marriage is more prevalent in rural areas (48 per cent) than in urban areas (29 per cent).

Eight States have a higher prevalence of child marriage than the national average — West Bengal, Bihar and Tripura performing worse.

States with a large population of tribal poor have a higher prevalence of child marriage.

Reasons for the prevalence of child marriage in India:

Lack of education:- A big determinant of the age of marriage is education. Around 45% of women with no education and 40% with primary education married before the age of 18, according to NFHS-4.

Patriarchal attitudes: Child marriage is often seen as a defence against premarital sex, and the duty to protect the girl from sexual violence and harassment is transferred from father to husband.

Declining sex ratio: – In rural parts of northern India, particularly in Rajasthan, the declining sex ratio has led to the growth of a practice known as Atta Sata where a daughter is exchanged for a daughter-in-law, irrespective of her age

Ineffective implementation of the law: Lack of proper age documentation and overall lack of protection for the human rights of children along with the ineffective implementation of laws like PCMA, 2006 is also a major hurdle in eliminating child marriages.

Economics of marriage – Girls are often seen as a liability with a limited economic role. In poor communities, marrying off a daughter means one less mouth.

Cultural practices -The practice of child marriage in northern India is closely associated with pious occasions such as Akha Teej in Rajasthan when mass child wedding takes place in many districts however administration fails to stop these weddings due to social pressure.

Consequences of child marriage:

It violates children’s rights

Results in more infant and maternal deaths

Stunted growth (NFHS-5: prevalence of child stunting is 35.5% in 2019-21)

Laws and policy interventions:

Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012

Centralised schemes like the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao

West Bengal’s Kanyashree scheme offers financial aid to girls wanting to pursue higher studies

Bihar and other States have been implementing a cycle scheme to ensure girls reach safely to school, and U.P. has the scheme to encourage girls to go back to school.

Raising the legal age of marriage as a tool to curb child marriage: Recently the cabinet has approved increasing the marriage age of women from 18 to 21. If implemented, it will bring the age of marriage for both men and women to par.

How the raising the age will help to curb Child marriage:

Increasing marriage will delay the women’s responsibility which is attached to marriage – In many traditional societies, women’s age at marriage acts simultaneously as a gateway to new family roles and the likelihood of producing offspring. Thus increasing the marriage age will delay this responsibility and give a chance to women for self-development.

Ensures gender equality in the marriage age – Increasing the minimum age of marriage for females to 21 years, ensures gender equality, as the legal marriage age for males is already 21 years, different ages of marriage promote the Stereotype that wives must be younger than their husbands.

Outlaw child marriages and prevent the abuse of minors: The law prescribes a minimum age of marriage to essentially outlaw child marriages and prevent the abuse of minors.

Enormous benefits on social and economic fronts include lowering the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR), improvement of nutrition levels and more opportunities for women to pursue higher education and careers, according to a research note by SBI Ecowrap.

Limitation of the measure to curb the child marriage:

Limited success of the legal measures in the past

According to NFHS-5 (2019-21), the prevalence of underage marriages remains high, with 23% of women between 20 and 24 years of age married before the age of 18.

At the same time, the detection of such marriages remains low, with only 785 cases registered under the law in 2020.

Laws cannot be the shortcut towards social reforms – Social reforms should be brought through improving social indicators like health, education and awareness of the ill effects of child marriage. At the same time incentivises the girl child as well as parents towards the late marriage.

For example – It is found that the decline in child marriages was not a result of the law penalising it as much as more women getting educated and employed.

Laws without wide societal support often fail to deliver even when their statement of objects and reasons aims for the larger public good. In a traditional society introducing modern reforms does not always deliver positive results rather it results in the rampant prevalence of the actions illegally.

Possible increase of sex-selective abortions – Increasing the legal marriage age without changing patriarchal social norms can result in parents feeling even more ‘burdened’ by what they view as an additional responsibility of the girl child, which in turn could lead to an increase in sex-selective practices.

Way forward:

Investing in girls’ education- According to the NFHS-4, the median age of marriage increases from 17.2 years for women with no schooling to 22.7 years for women with 12 or more years of schooling.

Economic and social empowerment of girls– Financial empowerment often gives individuals a greater say in their households and their own future. It can give girls the ability to say no to early marriage, and the family won’t see them as a liability.

Targeted social and behaviour change communication (SBCC) campaigns- Social norms that exclude girls and boys from marriage-related decision-making need to change.

Ensuring registration of marriages- The governments must develop a mechanism to ensure that all marriages (including civil, religious, and customary unions), births, and deaths are mandatorily registered through a system, as a means to track marriages and the age of marriage.

Raising social awareness on health, nutrition, regressive social norms and inequalities

Child Marriage Free Villages like Odisha which now has over 12,000 such villages

Shivraj Patil Committee report in 2011: Ensuring that Child Protection Committees and Child Marriage Prohibition officers are doing the job and activating community support groups.