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Insights Daily Current Events, 19 May 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 19 May 2016

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

New Draft National Policy for Women Promises

After a gap of 15 years, the Centre has come up with a draft national policy for women. The new draft policy is aimed at “re-scripting” women’s empowerment by following a “socially inclusive rights-based approach.”

  • The policy is roughly based on the Pam Rajput Committee report set up by the MWCD in 2012 which submitted its recommendations last year, including a suggested national policy for women and an action plan to end violence against women.

Significance of this policy:

Since 2001, when the last National Policy for Empowerment of Women was formulated, the concept of women empowerment has seen changes, from being recipients of welfare benefits to the need to engage them in the development process, welfare with a heavy dose of rights. This draft policy has tried to address this shift. It will define the government’s action on women in the next 15-20 years.


  • The policy aims to create sustainable socio-economic, political empowerment of women to claim their rights and entitlements, control over resources and formulation of strategic choices in realisation of the principles of gender equality and justice.
  • The policy envisions a society in which, women attain their full potential and are able to participate as equal partners in all spheres of life. It also emphasises the role of an effective framework to enable the process of developing policies, programmes and practices which will ensure equal rights and opportunities for women.
  • The broad objective of the policy is to create a conducive socio-cultural, economic and political environment to enable women enjoy de jure and de facto fundamental rights and realize their full potential.
  • The policy also describes emerging issues such as making cyber spaces safe place for women, redistribution of gender roles, for reducing unpaid care work, review of   personal and customary laws in accordance with the Constitutional provisions, Review of criminalization of marital rape within the framework women’s human rights etc. relevant in the developmental paradigms.
  • Operational strategies laid down in the policy provide a framework for implementation of legislations and strengthening of existing institutional mechanisms through action plan, effective gender institutional architecture. Advocacy and Stakeholder Partnerships, Inter-Sectoral Convergence, Gender Budgeting and generation of gender disaggregated data have also been given due focus.
  • The new policy has suggested dependent care and child care leave not for just working women, but working men too.

The policy defines following as the priority areas:

  1. Health including food security and nutrition.
  2. Education
  3. Economy
  4. Governance and Decision Making.
  5. Violence Against Women.
  6. Enabling Environment.
  7. Environment and Climate Change.

Sources: pib.

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

States asked to convert 3,784 urban areas into statutory Urban Local Bodies

Ministry of Urban Development has asked 28 States to take immediate and necessary action to convert 3,784 Census Towns into statutory Urban Local Bodies to promote planned urban development.

Why this is necessary?

This is necessary for planned and coordinated infrastructure development, enhancement of revenues and efficient delivery of services to citizens leading to overall growth of economic activities.

What is a census town?

A Census Town is an area with urban characteristics like a minimum population of 5,000, at least 75% of the male main working force engaged in non-agricultural activities and population density of at least 400 persons per As per 2011 Census, there are 3,784 Census Towns as against 1,362 in 2001.

What is a statutory town?

A Statutory Town is one with a municipality, corporation, cantonment board or notified town area committee. As per 2011 Census, there are 4,041 such towns as against 3,799 in 2001.

Benefits for states:

Conversion of Census towns into statutory ULBs entitle states to Central assistance as per the guidelines of 14th Finance Commission. Under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), 50& weightage is given to the number of statutory towns in any State/UT in allocation of funds among States/UTs.

Key facts:

  • State with highest number of census towns is West Bengal with 780 towns.
  • Mizoram has no census towns.
  • Arunachal Pradesh has one census town.

Sources: pib.

Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States.

Bonded labour rehab to be made Central sector scheme

The Centre is revising the rehabilitation of bonded labour scheme, bringing it into the Central sector, and plans to raise financial assistance from 20,000 to 1 lakh.

Key facts:

  • The scheme proposes to increase the Budget provision from 5 crore to about 47 crore per annum.
  • Government has proposed a 15-fold increase in the rehabilitation cost of bonded labourers to up to Rs 3,00,000. At present, the government provides Rs 20,000 as financial assistance for rehabilitating a bonded labourer. There are about 1 million bonded labourers in the country, most of whom are dalit farmers.
  • The scheme now will be a central sector scheme and the rehabilitation cost per labour under the scheme will be equally borne between the Centre and state. It was last revised in 1999.
  • Under the revised scheme, male bonded labourer would get a financial assistance Rs 1 lakh, while a child or woman would of get Rs 2 lakh. This would go up to Rs 3 lakh in case of a differently-abled or physically challenged bonded labourer.


The government had launched a centrally-sponsored scheme for rehabilitation of bonded labourers in 1978. Under the scheme, an assistance of up to Rs 4,000 per bonded labour was provided initially. This was raised to Rs 6,250 in 1986 and to Rs 10,000 in 1995, before fixing it at Rs 20,000 in 1999.

  • The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act also provided the constitution of a vigilance committee at district and sub-divisional level in each state and Union Territory for identification, release and rehabilitation of bonded labour in the country.

Who is a bonded labour?

Bonded labour, sometimes also referred as debt bondage or debt slavery, is a person’s pledge of their labour or services as security for the repayment a debt or other obligation. The services required for repaying the debt are generally undefined and so is the duration of work, which leads to huge exploitation of these labourers at the hands of their employers.

Sources: pib.

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Oil-for-drugs deal likely with crisis-hit Venezuela

India has proposed an oil-for-drugs barter plan with cash-strapped Venezuela to recoup millions of dollars in payments owed to some of India’s largest pharmaceutical companies.

  • This payment mechanism would allow Venezuela to repay some of the amount owed with oil.
  • The proposal would use the State Bank of India to mediate the transfer. The plan is now awaiting approval from the Finance Ministry and the Reserve Bank of India, which regulates such payments.


Several Indian generics producers rely on Venezuela as they sought emerging market alternatives to slower-growing economies such as the United States. But the unravelling of Venezuela’s socialist economy amid a fall in oil prices has triggered triple-digit inflation and a full-blown political and financial crisis. Unable to pay its bills, the country is facing severe shortages of even basic supplies such as food, water and medicines.

India, one of the world’s biggest oil importers along with the United States and China, had similarly elaborate barter deals with Iran, swapping rice and wheat for oil.

Sources: the hindu.

Paper 3 Topic: indigenization of technology.

Prithvi-II test-fired successfully

Indigenously developed nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile was recently test fired. The missile was tested from test range at Chandipur in Odisha.

Key facts:

  • Prithvi-II is a short-range surface-to-surface missile.
  • Inducted into India’s armed forces in 2003, Prithvi II is the first missile to be developed by DRDO under India’s prestigious IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Program).
  • The twin-engine Prithvi-II is 8.56 metre in length, 1.1 metre in width and weighs 4,600 kg. It has the ability to dodge enemy missiles.
  • It has a strike range of 350 km.
  • The battlefield missile has a flight duration of 483 seconds and a peak altitude of 43.5km. Also, Prithvi is India’s first indigenously-built ballistic missile.
  • Prithvi-II has been designed to operate with both liquid and solid fuels and is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear payloads.

Sources: the hindu.

Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Hypersonic test flight promises to shrink world

Hypersonic technology was recently successfully tested in the Australian desert by a joint U.S.-Australian military research team. The research team sent a scramjet attached to a rocket booster to an altitude of 172 miles (278km) at Mach 7.5 – or seven times the speed of sound. The team is running a series of 10 trials at the world’s largest land testing range, Woomera, in South Australia, and at Norway’s Andoya Rocket Range.


  • Mach 7.5 classes it as ‘hypersonic travel’, which is defined as travel at more than five times the speed of sound.
  • Scientists involved in the programme — called Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) — are developing an engine that can fly at Mach 7. HiFiRE is made up of a scramjet engine attached to a rocket booster.

What is a scramjet?

Scramjet is a supersonic combustion engine that uses oxygen from the atmosphere for fuel, making it lighter and faster than fuel-carrying rockets. This is helpful for flying at hypersonic speed – Mach 5 and above.

  • These engines have no moving parts. Instead of the rotating compressor and turbine in a jet engine, air is compressed and expanded by complex systems of shockwaves under the front of the aircraft, inside the inlet and under the fuselage at the rear.

Benefits of Hypersonic technology:

  • Hypersonic technology could revolutionise global air travel, providing cost-effective access to space. For instance, it could cut travelling time from Sydney to London to as little as two hours for the 17,000-km flight.
  • This will also be helpful as an alternative to a rocket for putting satellites into space.

Sources: the hindu.

Facts for Prelims:

In a boost to India’s defence exports in a region of strategic importance, Kolkata-based public sector yard Garden Reach Ship Builders (GRSE) has emerged as the lowest bidder to supply two warships to the Philippines Navy. However, details in this regard are yet to be made public. India exported its first warship to Mauritius in December 2014, an offshore patrol vessel, CGS Barracuda, built by GRSE at a cost of Rs.350 crore. Since then GRSE has been aggressively scouting for opportunities in the neighbourhood. It is also set to supply four patrol vessels to Vietnam under the $100 million line of credit extended by India in 2014.