Insights Daily Current Affairs, 09 March 2018
Topic: Women related issues.
Women Entrepreneurship Platform
Context: NITI Aayog has launched the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP), on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
About the Women Entrepreneurship Platform:
Aim: The initiative is aimed at building an ecosystem for women across India to realize their entrepreneurial aspirations, scale-up innovative initiatives and chalk-out sustainable, long-term strategies for their businesses. This will be done through an enabling network of industry collaborations, partnerships, mentors and peer-to-peer connect.
What it does? From providing unique services such as credit evaluation of women-led startups by CRISIL and potential equity investments through an INR 10 crore fund established by DICE Districts, the WEP opens up avenues of growth and opportunity for women entrepreneurs.
According to Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, India scored an overall 41.7 points, ranking 49 among 54 economies globally with comparatively low in Women Business Ownership percentages.
Need for economic empowerment of women:
Economically empowered women are major catalysts for development. There is greater recognition of the positive relationship between increased economic activity by women and improved social outcomes. Women often tend to reinvest their income in their children’s education, health and nutrition. This has a positive impact on the potential for economic growth.
India presents lower opportunities for women to assume leadership roles, participation in the workforce or engagement in entrepreneurial activities. Lack of education, technological know-how and cultural bias coupled with stringent business and government regulations are some key impediments that happen to undermine women’s ability to rise to positions of leadership and take advantage of entrepreneurial opportunities in India.
Women entrepreneurs have been carving out a niche for them across the globe, including India especially in niche and unconventional businesses. However, there is significant potential to harness the untapped potential of women’s entrepreneurship in India.
- For Prelims: Women Entrepreneurship Platform.
- For Mains: Women entrepreneurs- need, significance, challenges and solutions.
Topic: Women related issues.
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao
Context: The government has expanded the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme from 161 districts to all the 640 districts in India.
Initial focus of BBBP had been on the districts which were either below national average or were the worse in their own states in terms of absolute values of CSR. However, looking at the magnitude and criticality of the problem and its spread across the country, it was felt that no district can be left out of BBBP ambit to make a real dent on overall child sex ratio.
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme was launched in January, 2015. The scheme is aimed at promoting gender equality and the significance of educating girls.
- The Scheme is targeted at improving the Child Sex Ratio through multi sectoral interventions including prevention of gender biased sex selection and promoting girls’ education and her holistic empowerment.
- It is a tri-ministerial effort of Ministries of Women and Child Development, Health & Family Welfare and Human Resource Development.
The low and falling child sex ratio in the country is a matter of policy concern, not only because it violates the human rights of unborn and infant girls but also because it deprives the country of the potential economic and social contribution of these ‘missing women’.
In addition, there may be longer-run adverse impacts from a marriage market squeeze caused by an excess supply of male relative to female youth. Already, states like Haryana and Punjab, where the sex ratio has been extremely distorted for several decades, have been experiencing bride trafficking.
Declining sex ratio is a silent emergency. But the crisis is real, and its persistence has profound and frightening implications for society and the future of humankind. Clearly, there is a need to go beyond slogans and institute tangible schemes. Enforcement of the law that prohibits determination of the sex of the foetus must go hand in hand with massive social investments to protect both immediate and long-term prospects of girls — in the form of cash incentives through registration of births, a continuum of health care, early educational opportunities and social protection. Half-measures cannot produce a dramatic reversal of the shameful national record.
- For Prelims: BBBP.
- For Mains: Declining CSR- concerns, challenges and solutions.
Topic: Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
Transformation of 115 Backward Districts
Context: A meeting to review the progress of the transformation of 115 Aspirational Districts was recently held. The meeting was chaired by the cabinet secretary. The meeting was attended by the Prabhari Officers, the officer in-charge coordinating the exercise for transformation of 115 Aspirational Districts along with the Secretaries and representatives from 12 Union ministries.
About the scheme:
The Government, in November 2017, identified 115 backward districts for rapid transformation by 2022. The government’s focus is to work with states to bring a transformative change in these backward areas through rapid government-anchored programmes and interventions by 2022, the 75th year of India’s independence.
Prabhari officers: For each of the Districts, a senior official in the rank of Additional secretary and Joint secretary has been nominated as Prabhari officer.
Role of Prabhari officers in developing these districts:
- Prabhari officers would take it up as a challenge and succeed in their mission by making a difference in the lives of millions of citizens in these districts. Prabhari officers would form a team with State representatives and bring convergence in their effort.
- Prabhari officers will assist the District administration in sharing the vision for 2022, to ensure the convergence of the efforts of central and state government and to set up a robust mechanism to monitor the improvements in key outcomes in the district.
Funds are not a constraint in this program since large funds are available under different Schemes. The officers will explore the availability of funds in District Mineral funds, wherever available for this purpose. In addition, they will also use flexi-fund which are significant in amount and are available under different Schemes of the Government.
Selection of backward districts:
The 115 districts, including 35 affected by left-wing extremism, were selected on parameters like deprivation (extent of landless households), health & nutrition (institutional delivery, stunting of children and wasting in children), education (elementary dropout rate and adverse pupil-teacher ratio) and infrastructure (un-electrified homes, lack of toilets, villages not connected by road and lack of drinking water).
Significance of the scheme:
If these districts are transformed, there would be tremendous improvement in the internal security environment of the country. If Prabhari officers can bring convergence in the development efforts of different Ministries and state Governments and the schemes specially launched by Home Ministry in these districts, it would serve as a great opportunity to ensure rapid development in the country.
For the program to succeed, third party validation of key performance indicators in the field of education, health and nutrition, basic infrastructure including roads, electricity, household toilets, agriculture and irrigation is necessary.
- For Prelims: About the scheme for transformation of backward districts.
- For Mains: Development of backward districts- need, challenges and efforts.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Relief measures for telecom sector
Context: The Union Cabinet has approved two key measures in telecom sector to facilitate investments, consolidation in the sector and enhancing ease of doing business.
The measures include:
- Restructuring of Deferred Payment Liabilities of telecom Service providers for spectrum:
By giving one-time opportunity to opt for higher number of instalment (max. 16 instalment) apart from currently permitted 10 instalments. The increased instalment is based upon the principle that the Net Present Value (NPV) of the Payment Due is protected as per respective notice inviting application for auction of spectrum from 2012.
- Revision of limits of cap for spectrum holding:
- The overall spectrum cap is revised from the current limit of 25% to 35%.
- The current intra-band cap is removed. Instead, there is a cap of 50% on the combined spectrum holding in the sub-1 GHz bands (700 MHz, 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands).
- There will be no cap for individual or combined spectrum holding in above 1 GHz band.
- The revised spectrum caps limits may be revisited after Final Acts of World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) 2019.
With the restructuring of the deferred payment liability, the cash flow for the telecom service providers will increase in the immediate timeframe providing them some relief. Revising the limit for the spectrum cap holding will facilitate consolidation of telecom licensees and may encourage the participation in the future auction.
The Indian telecom industry, which is locked in an intense tariff war, owes a staggering Rs 4.6 lakh crore to various financial institutions and banks. At the same time, large operators have been flagging pressure on revenue and profitability, blaming the rock-bottom data tariffs and free offerings of newcomer Reliance Jio for deteriorating financial health of the sector.
What else is needed?
While the move to relax spectrum cap will help in consolidation and time extension would ease cash flow issues, but these were like ‘short term band-aids’. Long-term systematic issues have not been addressed and they need to be addressed quickly before more companies get into financial problems.
- For Prelims: About the relief measures.
- For Mains: Telecom sector- issues, challenges and reforms.
Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
Context: An international team of physicists have successfully created a “giant atom” and filled it with ordinary atoms, creating a new state of matter termed “Rydberg polarons”. These atoms are held together by a weak bond and is created at very cold temperatures.
How was the new polaron created?
It uses ideas from two different fields: Bose Einstein Condensation and Rydberg atoms.
- A BEC (Bose Einstein Condensate) is a liquid-like state of matter that occurs at very low temperatures. A BEC can be perturbed to create excitations which are akin to ripples on a lake. Here, researchers have used a BEC of strontium atoms.
- Electrons in an atom move in orbits around the nucleus. A ‘Rydberg atom’ is an atom in which an electron has been kicked out to a very large orbit. These have interesting properties and have been studied for a long time.
- In this work, researchers used laser light on a BEC of strontium atoms so that it impinges on one strontium atom at a time. This excites an electron into a large orbit, forming a Rydberg atom. This orbit is large enough to encircle many other strontium atoms inside it.
- As the electron moves around many strontium atoms, it generates ripples of the BEC. The Rydberg atom becomes inextricably mixed with these ripples and forms a new super-atom called a ‘Rydberg polaron’.
What will be the use of these Rydberg polarons?
A particularly interesting implication is for cosmology. Our universe is believed to be filled with a mysterious ‘dark matter’ which exerts a gravitational force on other matter.
Some theories of dark matter postulate that it is a cosmic Bose Einstein Condensate, perhaps composed of an as-yet-unknown type of particle. If we are indeed living in an invisible all pervading Bose Einstein Condensate, this experiment can suggest ways to detect it.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: conservation and pollution.
In-situ management of crop residue
Context: The government has approved a Rs 1,151 crore scheme to promote in-situ (in the farm itself) management of crop residue in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. The new central scheme will be implemented for two years.
- The move is aimed at providing a cost-effective and eco-friendly solution to farmers to deal with the problem of stubble burning that results in raising air pollution levels in the capital and neighbouring states every winter.
About the ‘Promotion of agricultural Mechanization for in-situ management of crop residue’ scheme:
Part of budget: This scheme is as per the government’s budget announcement on having a special scheme to support efforts of the governments of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to address air pollution.
Fund: Under the scheme, a fund will be created which will be used to promote agricultural mechanisation for the next two years (2018-20). The fund will primarily be used to subsidise machinery required for in-situ management of the crop residue.
Beneficiaries: The government, under this fully centrally-funded scheme, will assist individual farmers, cooperative societies, farmer producer organisations (FPOs), Self Help Groups (SHGs), private entrepreneurs and registered groups of women farmers.
Identification of beneficiaries: It will be the responsibility of the agriculture ministry to identify manufacturers and equipment for in-site management of crop. The costs of these equipment will also be decided by the ministry in consultation with manufacturers so that it can be made available to users at reasonable price.
Farm Machinery Banks: Establishment of ‘Farm Machinery Banks’ for custom hiring of in-situ crop residue management machinery will be the key component of the scheme. Under the scheme, financial assistance of 80% of the project cost to set up ‘Farm Machinery Banks’ for custom hiring will be provided to cooperative societies of the farmers, FPOs, SHGs, registered farmers societies/farmers group, private entrepreneurs and group of women farmers.
Individual beneficiaries: If an individual farmer would like to buy such machinery\equipment, the government will provide financial assistance of 50% of the cost of machinery for crop residue management.
Role of state governments: At the state level, department of agriculture of concerned state government will be the nodal implementing agency. It would be the responsibility of state governments to identify various beneficiaries and location–specific agricultural equipment, depending on the farming system. They will also identify and select beneficiaries for establishment of ‘Farm Machinery Bank’ for custom hiring and procurement of machines on individual ownership basis to avail the benefit in transparent and time-bound manner.
Tie up with banks: Under the scheme, the state agencies may tie up with banks for credit requirements of the beneficiaries.
Significance of the scheme:
The move is expected to go a long way in tackling the air pollution issue as stubble burning is identified as one of the key problem areas, specially during the post-harvest season of October-November when the prevailing meteorological condition aggravates the situation further in Delhi and the national capital region.
Need for crop residue management:
The problem of crop residue burning has been intensifying over the years, with Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh being the major burning hotspots. Increased mechanization, declining number of livestock, long period required for composting and no economically viable alternate use of residues are some of the reasons for residues being burnt in field. This not only has implications for global warming, but also has an adverse impact on air quality, soil health and human health.
Facts for Prelims:
Udyam Sakhi Portal:
Context: The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises(MSME) has launched a portal for women entrepreneurs of India.
About the portal:
- The portal is a network for nurturing entrepreneurship and creating business models for low cost products and services in order to empower women and make them self-reliant and self-sufficient.
- The portal provides assistance through its platform for entrepreneurship learning tools, incubation facility, training programs for fund raising, providing mentors, one-on-one investor meet, provide market survey facility and technical assistance.
I – Metros’:
Context: I – Metros’ -an association of all Indian Metro Rail companies has been launched.
About I- Metros’:
- “I-Metros” is proposed to be a platform to provide a forum for exchange of ideas, pooling of knowledge and sharing of experience, best practices, innovations etc. among the Indian Metro rail companies to nurture excellence in performance.
- This society will be registered under Society Registration Act-1860.
- The objective of forming this association is to provide a common platform for all Metro rail companies for sharing experience, information, best practices, innovations etc.
- This association will also undertake and promote techno-economic studies and research. It will safeguard the interest and rights of metro rail companies and will be resource tank of information for decision making.
Context: The government has launched ‘Suvidha’, the 100% Oxo-biodegradable Sanitary Napkin, under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP).
- The affordable sanitary napkin will be available for Rs. 2.50 per padat over 3200 Janaushadhi Kendrasacross India.
- It would ensure ‘Swachhta, Swasthya and Suvidha’for the underprivileged Women of India.
- This is a step taken by the Department of Pharmaceuticals.
Swachh Shakti 2018:
Context: Swachh Shakti 2018 was celebrated in Lucknow with 15000 women Swachh Bharat champions resolving to usher in clean India on International Women’s Day.
About Swachh Shakti:
- The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, in association with the Government of Uttar Pradesh had organized the event.
- Under this, women sarpanches, women Swachhagrahis and women champions from other walks of life from across the country will be recognised for their outstanding contribution towards making a Swachh Bharat.
Calcium silicate perovskite:
Context: For the first time, scientists have found Earth’s fourth most abundant mineral—calcium silicate perovskite—at Earth’s surface.
- Scientists found the calcium silicate perovskite within a diamond mined from less than one kilometre beneath Earth’s crust, at South Africa’s famous Cullinan Mine, best known as the source of two of the largest diamonds in the British Crown Jewels. CaSiO3 perovskite in diamond indicates the recycling of oceanic crust into the lower mantle.
- Usually, the mineral is found deep inside Earth’s mantle, at 700 kilometres. The only possible way of preserving this mineral at the Earth’s surface is when it’s trapped in an unyielding container like a diamond.
- Silicate perovskite may form up to 93% of the lower mantle, and the magnesium iron form is considered to be the most abundant mineral in Planet Earth, making up 38% of its volume. Under the very high pressures of the lowermost mantle, below about 2,700 km, the silicate perovskites are replaced by post-perovskite.