Insights Daily Current Affairs, 09 October 2017
Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
Is the Devadasi system still being followed in southern India?
Few media reports about a peculiar temple ritual of “offering” girl children to Goddess Mathamma in Chittor district of Andhra Pradesh have raised questions about the prevalence of the ancient Devadasi system, an oppressive practice of women and young girls being regarded as temple property and sexually exploited.
About the ritual:
- As part of the ritual, girls are dressed as brides and once the ceremony was over, their dresses are removed by five boys, virtually leaving them naked. They are then forced to live in the Mathamma temples, deemed to be public property, and face sexual exploitation.
- The Mathamma system has its equivalent in other regions of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The system is called ‘Basivi’ in Kurnool and Anantapur districts, ‘Saani’ in Krishna, East and West Godavari districts, and ‘Parvathi’ in Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts. Women are unable to leave the exploitative system due to social pressures.
- Social activists say the girls are exploited, and forced to live as sex workers. Many die old and lonely and sick as they are forced to sleep in the Mathamma temples or outside the
- Besides, the state authorities have not been able to take up scientific rehabilitation measures due to lack of proper data and non-cooperation from the victims and village elders.
- As it is linked with the sentiments of the community, the official machinery and the political parties shy away from taking on the tradition. Moreover, the victimised community is largely viewed as a minority group, with no influence on vote-bank politics.
What is Devadasi system?
Devadasi system is a religious practice whereby parents marry a daughter to a deity or a temple. The marriage usually occurs before the girl reaches puberty.
In recent decades, the practice has been used to push young girls into prostitution. While various state governments have enacted laws to stop such practices, the tradition remains entrenched in some parts of the country, especially some southern states.
Laws prohibiting its practice:
The practice of Devadasi system in any form is in total contravention of the provisions of Section 370 and 370A as amended through Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 as well as Section 372 of Indian Penal Code. It is also against Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI)
The government has launched Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI). Through this programme, the Government aims to reach each and every child under two years of age and all those pregnant women who have been left uncovered under the routine immunisation programme. The special drive will focus on improving immunization coverage in select districts and cities to ensure full immunization to more than 90% by December 2018.
- Intensified Mission Indradhanush will have inter-ministerial and inter-departmental coordination, action-based review mechanism and intensified monitoring and accountability framework for effective implementation of targeted rapid interventions to improve the routine immunization coverage.
- IMI is supported by 11 other ministries and departments, such as Ministry of Women and Child Development, Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Youth Affairs among others.
- The convergence of ground level workers of various departments like ASHA, ANMs, Anganwadi workers, Zila preraks under National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM), self-help groups will be ensured for better coordination and effective implementation of the programme.
Monitoring of the scheme:
- Intensified Mission Indradhanush would be closely monitored at the district, state and central level at regular intervals. Further, it would be reviewed by the Cabinet Secretary at the National level and will continue to be monitored at the highest level under a special initiative ‘Proactive Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI)’.
- Under IMI, special strategies are devised for rigorous monitoring of the programme. States and districts have developed coverage improvement plans based on gap self-assessment. These plans are reviewed from state to central level with an aim to reach 90% coverage by December 2018.
- An appreciation and awards mechanism is also conceived to recognize the districts reaching more than 90% coverage. The criteria includes best practices and media management during crisis. To acknowledge the contribution of the partners/Civil Society Organization (CSOs) and others, Certificate of Appreciation will be given.
The achievement of full immunisation under Mission Indradhanush to at least 90% coverage was to be achieved by 2020 earlier. With the launch of IMI, achievement of the target has now been advanced.
About Mission Indradhanush:
Mission Indradhanush aims to immunize all children under the age of 2 years, as well as all pregnant women, against seven vaccine preventable diseases. The diseases being targeted are diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, poliomyelitis, tuberculosis, measles and Hepatitis B. In addition to these, vaccines for Japanese Encephalitis and Haemophilus influenzae type B are also being provided in selected states. In 2016, four new additions have been made namely Rubella, Japanese Encephalitis, Injectable Polio Vaccine Bivalent and Rotavirus.
Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently launched the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA) at Gandhinagar in Gujarat.
PMGDISHA is government initiative with an objective to impart digital literacy among the people residing in rural areas. It is an important initiative under Modi’s vision of ‘Digital India’ that intends at making one person in every family digitally literate.
- This scheme will focus on making at last six crore people in rural areas (across States/UTs) digitally literate. By March 31, 2019, it is expected to reach around 40 per cent rural households in the country.
- Under free of cost PMGDISHA scheme, people in the rural area will be trained to operate a computer, tablet, smartphones, etc. They will be taught how to access the Internet, government services, undertake digital payment, compose e-mails, etc.
- The citizens of rural India will be taught to use applications related to digital payments so they can participate in the process of nation-building. This scheme will help to connect the digital divide.
- The marginalised sections of society like Scheduled Castes (SC)/Scheduled Tribes (ST), Minorities, Below Poverty Line (BPL), differently-abled, all will be a part of this scheme. The scheme aims to empower women in the rural India.
- Illiterate people between the age group 14-60 years, nominated from every eligible rural household, are qualified for the scheme.
Significance of this programme:
As per the 71st NSSO Survey on Education 2014, only 6% of rural households have a computer. This highlights that more than 15 crore rural households (@ 94% of 16.85 crore households) do not have computers and a significant number of these households are likely to be digitally illiterate. The PMGDISHA being initiated under Digital India Programme would cover 6 crore households in rural areas to make them digitally literate. This would empower the citizens by providing them access to information, knowledge and skills for operating computers / digital access devices.
Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’
India is all set to hold the first ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’. BIMSTEC DMEx-2017 will be conducted by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) as the lead agency.
Delegates from all seven nations of the ‘Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation’ (BIMSTEC) grouping, – namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand, representatives from Embassies/High Commissions of BIMSTEC nations in Delhi, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), and Senior Officers from the Nodal Ministries will participate in the event.
- This Exercise will be a platform for sharing Best Practices on all aspects of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), strengthening regional response and coordination for Disaster Management among the BIMSTEC member countries.
- The main focus of the BIMSTEC DMEx-2017 will be on testing the region’s preparedness and resilience towards effective activation of inter-Governmental interaction/dialogue/agreements for immediate deployment of regional resources for disaster response.
- It will help create synergy and synchronize efforts to institutionalize regional cooperation among the member countries.
- The exercise will help strengthen the effective utilization of the Search & Rescue Teams for Disaster Relief & Emergency Response, including Emergency Rapid Assessment Teams and Management of mass casualties especially in situations involving breakdown of infrastructure and communication.
India has been at the forefront of DRR efforts by hosting the South Asian Annual Disaster Management Exercise (SAADMEx) and the Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR). India has also offered its expertise and capabilities in DRR such as the South Asia satellite, GSAT-9, and the Tsunami Early Warning Centre to other countries. Disaster Management was one of the important Agenda items the BIMSTEC leaders deliberated upon during the Goa BRICS Summit in October last year where BIMSTEC leaders were the Special Invitees.
The BIMSTEC region is home to around 1.5 billion people, constituting around 22% of the global population with a combined GDP of US $2.7 trillion economy. Majority of the BIMSTEC countries are situated in the South Asian Region (SAR), prone to natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, earthquakes, avalanches and drought.
Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
Why do we need external benchmarks while pricing loans?
An internal Study Group constituted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recommended that banks should set interest rates based on an external benchmark and not as per internal benchmarks as is the practice now.
What is the need for external benchmarks?
The present loan pricing regime, that is, the marginal cost of fund based lending rate (MCLR) or the base rate under the previous regime were both calculated based on banks’ internal factors such as cost of funds. They are insensitive to changes in the policy interest rate or repo rate. Also, banks deviated in an ad hoc manner from the specified methodologies for calculating the base rate and the MCLR to either inflate the base rate or prevent the base rate from falling in line with the cost of funds.
What external benchmarks are available?
The study group has cited 13 possible candidates as external benchmarks including the weighted average call rate (WACR), collateralised borrowing and lending obligation (CBLO) rate, market repo rate. However, the report also said that no instrument in India met all the requirements of an ideal benchmark.
The group has shortlisted 3 candidates from these 13 — one of which could be selected by RBI as external benchmarks after receiving feedback from all stakeholders. The Study Group is of the view that the T-Bill rate, the CD rate and the RBI’s policy repo rate are better suited than other interest rates to serve the role of an external benchmark.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
China has pointed to an 1890 treaty between Sikkim and Tibet to bolster its claims to the Doklam plateau at the trijunction. However, India believes Beijing is misrepresenting Delhi’s position as well as prior agreements between the two countries acknowledging differences at the India-China-Bhutan trijunction.
About 1890 UK- China treaty:
The Convention was signed between Great Britain and China on March 17, 1890, at Calcutta.
- As per Article (1) of Convention of 1890, it was agreed that the boundary of Sikkim and Tibet shall be the crest of the mountain range separating the waters flowing into the Sikkim Teesta and its affluents, from the waters flowing into the Tibetan Mochu and northwards into other rivers of Tibet. The line commences at Mount Gipmochi, on the Bhutan frontier, and follows the above-mentioned water-parting to the point where it meets Nepal territory.
- However, Tibet refused to recognise the validity of Convention of 1890 and further refused to carry into effect the provisions of the said Convention. In 1904, a treaty known as a Convention between Great Britain and Tibet was signed at Lhasa.
- As per the Convention, Tibet agreed to respect the Convention of 1890 and to recognise the frontier between Sikkim and Tibet, as defined in Article (1) of the said Convention. On April 27, 1906, a treaty was signed between Great Britain and China at Peking, which confirmed the Convention of 1904 between Great Britain and Tibet.
Is it recognised by India?
The Convention of 1890 was entered by the King of Great Britain on behalf of India before independence and around the time of independence, the Indian Independence (International Arrangement) Order, 1947 was notified by Secretariat of the Governor-General (Reforms) on August 14, 1947.
The Order provided, inter alia, that the rights and obligations under all international agreements to which India is a party immediately before the appointed day will devolve upon the Dominion of India. Therefore, in terms of Order of 1947, the government of India is bound by the said Convention of 1890. However, India’s affirmation of the Convention of 1890 was limited to the alignment of the India-China border in Sikkim, based on watershed, and not with respect to any other aspects.
Sources: the hindu.