Issues Covered :-
- National Human Rights Commission
- Sc Sets Deadline For Blocking Online Sex Selection Ads
- Khasi Tribe Of Meghalaya and Megalithic stones
- Ozone Layer Over Antarctic Shows Signs Of Healing
- National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme
- Green Highway Policy
- Kendrapada Sheep
- South China Sea issue and understanding
- Yaws Free Status For India
- Model Shops And Establishment Bill, 2016
- National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme
- Advertising Standards Council Of India (Asci)
- SC clarifies on Transgender
- India abstains on vote for LGBT rights at U.N.
- Logistics performance index
- Nuclear Plants Insurance
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC):-
Background :-Recently NHRC chairperson Justice H.L. Dattu called NHRC “a toothless tiger”.Also Supreme Court bench proposed to consider the grievances of the NHRC due to which it become difficult for the statutory body to discharge its functions.
Issues faced by NHRC
- NHRC investigates matters related to human right violations and then recommends remedial measures.
- As its recommendations are not binding and thus not taken seriously by state authorities which results in no or delayed implementation.
- Scarcity of resources – human, financial and material that results in inefficient and ineffective functioning.
- NHRC cannot investigate a case if complaint was made more than one year after the incident.
- The act does not extend to the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Hence NHRC cannot investigate incidents of human rights violation there.
- NHRC powers with respect to investigating cases of human rights violation by armed forces are limited.
- Protection of human rights act 1993 does not categorically empower NHRC to investigate matters of human rights violation by private parties.
- NHRC do not have any kind of contempt powers thus it cannot penalize authorities who do not implement its recommendations in a time bound manner.
- Expertise of staffs is lacking as they are often drawn from various Government departments or on deputation.
- Non-judicial posts are often filled by retired bureaucrats in place of relevant experts in the field
- It is a statutory body established in 1993 under the provisions of Protection of Human Rights Act 1993.This apex body is responsible for protecting and promoting human rights related to life, liberty, equality and dignity of individuals as guaranteed by the constitution of India and international covenants
- It consists of a Chairman and 4 members. Chairman should be a retired Chief Justice of India. Members should be either sitting or retired judges of the Supreme Court or a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court and 2 persons having practical knowledge in the field of human rights.
- Ex officio members are the chairpersons of National Commission for Scheduled Caste, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Minorities and National Commission for Women.
Conclusion :-The functioning of protection of human rights act needs to be revised as 15 years has passed since its passage and current demands and challenges needs to be accommodated.Various structural as well as functional changes need to be made so as to make NHRC’s functioning efficient and effective.
The commission needs to be empowered and its recommendations must be implemented by the government in a time bound manner.Independent recruitment and management of staff.Be allowed to independently investigate complaints against armed forces personnel.Separate body to investigate cases where police are allegedly involved in human rights violation.
Sc Sets Deadline For Blocking Online Sex Selection Ads
The Supreme Court has slammed search engines Google, Yahoo and Microsoft for failing to keep out ads selling sex selection kits, and asked the Central government and the intermediaries to immediately come up with technical solutions to prevent such ads from popping up during routine searches.
It ruled that these advertisements violated Section 22 of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994.The court has directed the government to immediately convene a meeting of technological experts from both sides on ways and means to keep off such ads from search engines.
The Internet companies have objected it, arguing that the Internet was a “censor-free zone” and the government’s stand amounted to “pre-censorship and information blocking.”
PCPNDT Act :-
Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 was enacted to stop female foeticides and arrest the declining sex ratio. The act banned prenatal sex determination.It was amended in 2003 to Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act to improve the regulation of the technology used in sex selection.
Khasi Tribe Of Meghalaya and Megalithic stones :-
Background :-Megalithic stone structures and iron implements dating back to pre-historic period have been found in the ridge spread over 1.5 km in Ri-Bhoi district, Meghalaya.
Radiocarbon dating of the megalithic structures and tools indicates that Khasis made Meghalaya their home way back in 1200 BC.This excavation at Lummawbuh is the first Neolithic site in Meghalaya.
The Khasis are an indigenous tribe, majority of who live in the state of Meghalaya.What sets this tribe apart from other tribes is that the descendents are recognised from the mother and not from the father i.e it follows the matrilineal system of society. The Khasis have been granted the status of Scheduled Tribe.They practice shifting cultivation (JHUM) for their survival.
Ozone Layer Over Antarctic Shows Signs Of Healing:-
Ozone Hole :-
Ozone hole is a region of exceptionally depleted ozone in the stratosphere over the Antarctic that happens at the beginning of Southern Hemisphere spring (August–October).The thinning increases the penetration of UV rays on the earth surface thereby increases the risks of its adverse impacts such as skin cancer.
Recent observations have showed signs of mending of this ozone hole.Atmospheric researchers have found that the ozone hole has shrunk by more than four million sq kms since 2000 which is the year when ozone depletion was at its peak.
Reasons for healing?
The most dominating factor in the depletion of ozone layer is the release of Chlorine from CFCs moleculesThe Montreal Protocol has led to reduction in the production and release of CFCs in the atmosphere.
According to scientists, there are three stages in the ozone recovery process:Reduced rate of decline.Leveling off of the depletion.
Ozone increase linked to reduction of the levels of CFC.Once the CFCs reduce to a certain level, the pace of recovery process will increase automatically.
Reduction of UV radiations has tremendous health and environmental benefits.It points towards the success of global efforts towards environmental protection. The success of Montreal Protocol should encourage the international community to come together with higher dedication, optimism and vigour to fight other common problems.
Kendrapada Sheep :-
It is a threatened breed of sheep found only in coastal Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara districts of Odisha.It is also known as ‘Kuji Mendha’.
Recently it was conferred ‘rare and singular species’ tag by the Union government.They have some rare genetic traits which lead to multiple birth syndromes in them.
Kendrapada sheep are primarily used for production of mutton. The other product of economic importance is their skin. Hence, they make a profitable livelihood source.However, unchecked rearing could lead to adverse impact. Thus, sheep farmers need to be sensitized on their commercial viability.The new status will give a boost towards their conservation efforts.
Green Highways Policy
The Union government had last year launched Green Highways (Plantation, Transplantation, Beautification and Maintenance) Policy 2015.The policy aims to take care of the ecological needs, help the environment and local communities, and
generate employment by planting trees along all the highways in the country.
Financing: 1% of the total project cost (TPC) of National Highways will be kept aside in a Green Highways Fund to be used for plantation and its maintenance.
Auditing: Release of money to the empanelled agencies only if they have achieved a survival rate of 90% in the previous year.The implementation and progress of plantation will be monitored via images by ISRO and audit will involve modern IT tools Contracts will be given to NGOs, private cos. and govt. organisations with proven track record.
The government recently launched the initial plantation drive on 1,500 km of National Highways at a cost of about Rs 300 crore under the National Green Highways Mission.
The community involvement in tree plantation directly benefits local people by generating employment. It is estimated that greening of one km of highway provides employment to ten people. Government plans to link it to MNREGA as well.
The trees can reduce the impact of air pollution, dust as well as noise pollution due to their quality of acting as a natural sink It will help in arresting soil erosion at the embankment slopes Plants along highway median strips and along the edges reduce the glare of oncoming vehicles that can sometimes cause accidents
Yaws Free Status For India
Background:- Recently, India received the official citation from WHO and UNICEF for being YAWS-free.India is the first country to be officially acknowledged as being Yaws-free.
India has achieved this important milestone of being Yaws-free much before the WHO global target year of 2020.
- Yaws is a chronic infection that affects mainly the skin, bone and cartilage.
- The disease occurs mainly in poor communities in warm, humid, tropical areas.
- It affects mainly children below 15 years of age.
- It is caused by the bacterium – Treponema pallidumm and transmitted by skin contact.
- Yaws occurs in overcrowded communities, with limited access to basic amenities, such as water and sanitation, as well as health care.
This has been possible because of education and early treatment of vulnerable population.Lessons learned from this public health milestone should guide other programmes as well.
It will improve the health of marginalized communities and enhance their socio-economic status and contribute to India’s wider development.
Model Shops And Establishment Bill 2016:-
Background :-The Union Cabinet recently cleared the Model Shops and Establishment (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2016.
Provides for more Worker Welfare Measures.Creating many more job opportunities for women and Providing favorable environment for doing business.
The law only covers Shops and Establishments Employing Ten or more Workers Except Manufacturing Units.The law provides freedom to operate 365 days a year and opening/closing time of establishment.
The law tries to boost the Employment Generation in general, especially for Women, as they will be permitted to work night shifts, with adequate safety and security provisions.
It calls for better working conditions for employees such as drinking water, canteen, first-aid, lavatory and crèche facilities.
The law also provides exemption to highly-skilled workers like those in IT and biotechnology from daily working hours (9 hours) and weekly working hours (48 hours).
Due to enhanced working hours, more job opportunities would be created. Moreover such jobs in Shops and Establishment are suited for women.
Boosts up the retail market in the country and gives customer flexibility to shop any time.
The uniformity in legal provisions across States/UTs will enable the employers to have uniform HR and leave policies.
Model Bill would promote fair competition among the States in improving governance and ease of doing business.
The National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme
Background :-The cabinet has approved a National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS). The Scheme has an outlay of Rs.10,000 crore with a target of 50 lakh apprentices to be trained by 2019-20.
India has less than 3 lakh apprentices. This is a small proportion of over a crore people annually joining labour-force of 48 crore workers.
It substantially improves youths’ employability and market value as well as their capability to become self-employed.
Benefits from enhanced skills, higher productivity and better professionalism once apprentices join the workforce helps the industry which otherwise spends a hefty amount for making the freshly recruited workforce job-ready.
Highlights of the Scheme:-
Union Government will directly share, 25% of the total stipend payable and 50% of total expenditure for providing basic training-to an apprentice, with employers. It will be implemented by Director General of Training (DGT) under the aegis of Union Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE).
The NAPS has been framed to meet objective of National Policy of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015, which focuses on apprenticeship as one of the key components.
NAPS is a part of Labour reforms: Govt. has already amended Factory act, Apprenticeship act and labour laws act in 2014.
Apprenticeship (Amendment) Act has dismantled the outdated system of trade-wise and unit-wise regulation of apprentices under a prescriptive regime. Now the minimum target of apprentices is 2.5% and maximum is 10%.
Also penalties such as imprisonment and other liabilities have been removed
Stipend: The stipend payable has been directly linked to minimum wages at the state level.Apprenticeship portal was recently launched by the Prime Minister to work as a platform for companies, apprentices and government.Curriculum of major apprenticeship courses accounting for 70% of the existing seats has been revised to make them more industry-relevant and competency-based.
Conclusion:- The reforms and schemes like this one will lead to a self-regulated which would lead to a sharp increase in the number of apprentices voluntarily trained by the industry.
South China Sea – The geopolitics and it’s impact on India :-
Background :- South China Sea (hereafter referred as SCS) , has been in news for past few years, but the confrontation has never grown out of context or become large enough to be a major flash point in international geopolitics until now. The SCS confrontation has now taken a global dimension which led to rather self restrained president such as Barack Obama to take bold steps such as sending US naval vessel to enter into the water of SCS. How the SCS conflict unfolds is a case to watch out for, but to understand the future , it is necessary to understand the past and present conditions of confrontation.
- The South China Sea area comprising of islands, rocks and reefs are considered strategic, economic and political assets for the littoral states in the South China Sea because, they can serve as legal base points for states to project their claims of exclusive jurisdiction over waters and resources in the SCS.
- The sea is believed to be harboring large reserves of oil and natural gas and is in demand for its rich fishing. With the rise in demand for energy resources, the disputes in the area have been further exacerbated. It is a critical navigational waterway in this region which is used from the west of the Indian Ocean to East Asia.
- The island groups and the security of the sea lanes (marine terrorism, piracy, marine ecosystems) have been perceived as important since it is an important shipping lane and ASEAN, India, Taiwan, China, Japan and South Korea are all heavily dependent upon international and extra regional trade-most of which is shipped through the area.
- As economies develop, the SCS is fast becoming the focus of tension. The straits that separate these islands are important not only because restrictions upon passage would seriously disrupt international commerce but also because control over the islands would permit dominance over those routes.
- China’s Involvement:-
- Although the assertions of sovereignty, rivalry over maritime resources, nationalism and attempts to consolidate jurisdictional and legal claims have been long standing issues where actions by one claimant or another has drawn reaction from others, it is China’s assertive actions backed by modern maritime enforcement capabilities that are proving to be a cause of concern. As such, China receives the greatest attention because it is by far the most powerful claimant and has the record of using force to pursue its territorial claims.
- China’s economic engine is becoming more dependent on imported energy, and recent Chinese moves suggest safeguarding its energy sources
near and far has become an unstated “core issue”.
- As defined by the Chinese officially, core issues are those that must be protected and secured by any means including military measures. China has been relentlessly increasing its capacity to exercise control over the Sea by strengthening its capacity and capability to establish its increasing maritime domain area (MDA) and its emergence as Asia’s pre-eminent naval power.
- These moves taken by Beijing also indicate its growing aggressiveness and unilateralism, which clearly go against the spirit of the 2002 DOC (Declaration of Conduct of parties), a multilateral political document agreed upon by the ASEAN and China that calls for resolution of ‘territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat of force.
Focus of Confrontation:-
- It is a dispute over territory and sovereignty over ocean areas, and the Paracels and the Spratlys – two island chains claimed in whole or in part by a number of countries.Alongside the fully fledged islands, there are dozens of rocky outcrops, atolls, sandbanks and reefs, such as the Scarborough Shoal.
- Although largely uninhabited, the Paracels and the Spratlys may have reserves of natural resources around them. There has been little detailed exploration of the area, so estimates are largely extrapolated from the mineral wealth of neighbouring areas.
- The sea is also a major shipping route and home to fishing grounds that supply the livelihoods of people across the region.
- The below map can help in understanding the claims:-
- More over China has been flexing its military muscle and building naval bases by reclamation of islands in the sea, as illustrated in the below map:-
- Apart from the reclamation and building artificial islands, China also claims that , historically it has sovereignty over the territory what it call as Nine Dash Line :-
- Beijing says its right to the area goes back to centuries, when the Paracel and Spratly island chains were regarded as integral parts of the Chinese nation, and in 1947 it issued a map detailing its claims. It showed the two island groups falling entirely within its territory. Those claims are mirrored by Taiwan
- Vietnam hotly disputes China’s historical account, saying China had never claimed sovereignty over the islands before the 1940s. Vietnam says it has actively ruled over both the Paracels and the Spratlys since the 17th Century – and has the documents to prove it.
- The other major claimant in the area is the Philippines, which invokes its geographical proximity to the Spratly Islands as the main basis of its claim for part of the grouping.
- Both the Philippines and China lay claim to the Scarborough Shoal (known as Huangyan Island in China) – a little more than 100 miles (160km) from the Philippines and 500 miles from China.
- Malaysia and Brunei also lay claim to territory in the South China Sea that they say falls within their economic exclusion zones, as defined by UNCLOS – the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
To sum up the confrontations are around two major islands :- Paracel and Spratly island ; and Scarborough Shoal.
Implications for INDIA :-
- Although India is a non claimant to the SCS Island it is concerned with the developments in the SCS. Even though the SCS area may seem far from the Indian mainland but in actual terms it is not so when one considers the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is also important to note that India’s trade with Japan and South Korea has
been growing and hence, it is crucial that freedom of navigation is maintained in the South China Sea through which the trading routes between India and these East Asian countries pass. India’s sea bound trade that passes through Indian Ocean constitutes 92-95 per cent of its total trade and, there are estimates that nearly 25 per cent (and growing) of this sea bound trade passes through South China Sea.
- India like China is also energy deficit country and is stretching its resources all over the world to access hydrocarbons in what ever form and quantity available. India’s oil and gas exploration and extractions in Myanmar and Vietnam need to be understood in this respect. Therefore, there is no way that India would retreat from South China Sea just because China or any other country has taken an exception to its economic and naval activities in this region.
- Meanwhile, India-ASEAN trade has reached US$ 57.89 billion in 2010-11. Any major conflict in the South China Sea region is bound to impact Indian economic interests.
- Besides, India is worried that if China controls this sea space it will dictate maritime traffic, both civilian and military. Therefore, its priority is to maintain freedom of navigation in the sea both merchant and naval ships. India is of the opinion that the SCS region was a key to its energy security, and that the conflict must be resolved peacefully as per international laws.
- China has objected Indian Naval presence and oil exploration projects in and across Vietnam (INS Airavaat in 2011 , ONGC Videsh project in Vietnam in 2011 )
- This has a geopolitical significance as well. India has an advantage in Indian Ocean , to counter it China has been building chain of ports encircling India, which is otherwise known as “String of Pearls” . By being assertive in SCS , China hopes to claim a dominant position in the SCS and use this as a bargain chip in case of a conflict breaks out.String of pearls can be understood from the below map :-
- The activities of China in SCS, puts India in a disadvantageous position , it is also meddling in the Indian Neighborhood states such as Nepal, Srilanka and Pakistan.Thus it is a greater concern for national security of India. The way forward is a complex architecture of diplomatic re-balancing , which is yet to be fully realized by India, the Indian counter being Project Mausam which is still in incessant phase.
Advertising Standards Council Of India (Asci):-
It is a self-regulatory voluntary organization of the advertising industry in India, founded in 1985.
The three main constituents of the industry viz. advertisers, advertising agencies and media came together to form this independent NGO.
The aim of ASCI is to maintain and enhance the public’s confidence in advertising. Their mandate is that all advertising material must be truthful, legal and honest, decent and not objectify women, safe for consumers esp children and fair to their competitors.
It deliberates upon individual complaints against any advertisements for its compliance with ASCI code and other laws.
ASCI and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) have signed a MoU to check misleading advertisements in the food and beverages sector.
ASCI gets a suo motu monitoring mandate by FSSAI to process complaints against misleading advertisements of food and beverages along with the complaints from FSSAI.
The review will include violation of the Food Safety Standards Act 2006 and regulations related to advertisements making misleading, unsubstantiated or false claims.ASCI would report to FSSAI about the non-compliance as per provisions of the Food security and standards Act.
SC clarifies on Transgender :-
Supreme Court has refused to modify its 2014 order on transgenders while clarifying that lesbians, gays and bisexuals are not third gender. Clarification in this regard was asked by additional solicitor general (ASG) Maninder Singh, appearing for the Centre. The court has clarified that lesbians, gays and bisexuals are not transgenders.
In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court had on April 15, 2014 granted legal recognition to transgenders or eunuchs as third category of gender and had directed the Centre and all states to treat them as socially and educationally backward classes to extend reservation in admission in educational institutions and for public appointments.
Paving way to bring transgenders in national mainstream, the apex court directed governments to take steps to remove problems faced by them such as fear, shame, social pressure, depression, and social stigma.
It had also said that section 377 of IPC is being misused by police and other authorities against them and their social and economic condition is far from satisfactory.
However, in 2014, the Centre had filed an application in the apex court seeking clarification on the definition of transgender saying lesbian, gay and bisexual cannot be treated under the category of transgender.
India abstains on vote for LGBT rights at U.N.
India recently abstained from voting at the UN Human Rights Council pertaining to appoint of an independent investigator to help protect homosexuals and transgender people worldwide from violence and discrimination.
India abstained from the LGBT vote in the United Nations as the case is subjudice and the Supreme Court is yet to pronounce its verdict.
Logistics performance index
India has improved its ranking in the World Bank Group’s bi-annual “Logistics Performance Index 2016“, jumping from 54th in 2014 to 35th in 2016. This was announced by the World Bank Group in its recent launch of the report.
In the latest ranking India has gone past countries like New Zealand, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Iceland, Latvia and Indonesia who were ahead of it in the index.
Nuclear Plants Insurance
India’s first insurance policy covering public liability to an atomic power plant operator has been issued to Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).
- The insurance policy was issued by the country’s largest non-life insurer New India Assurance Company Ltd.
- NPCIL got the insurance policy covering all its atomic power plants. The total premium came around Rs. 100 crore for a risk cover of Rs. 1,500 crore.
- The policy complies with all the provisions of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act.
- The policy would cover the liability towards public as a consequence of any nuclear accident in the plants covered under the policy and also the right of recourse of NPCIL against equipment suppliers.
- Part of the claim a policyholder has to bear himself.