Insights Daily Current Affairs, 28 March 2018
Topic: Women related issues.
Context: RBS India in association with prominent technology corporates, Academia and government participation has setup an exclusive ‘By Invite Only’ platform ‘Women In Tech’ with the agenda of working towards encouraging more women to take up careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) as a key career choice.
About the forum:
- WomenInTech has been conceived in association with a number of technology corporates, academia and NGOs.
- The forum has been designed “to help accelerate the national agenda of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao and further to work in alignment with the UN’s focus area this year – ‘Turning promises into action’.
- It would “address the need for policy making collectively as an industry to ensure that workplaces prod more girls to take up careers in STEM on one end and on the other hand are conducive for working women to aspire for senior level roles”.
- One of its initiatives is to build an independent corpus of funds, in collaboration with education NGOs, to sponsor the tertiary education of at least three young women to begin with from economically weak backgrounds in the field of engineering to top universities in the United States and United Kingdom.
- According to the World Bank, women make up 40% of the world’s workforce. Yet, the tech field is notoriously male-dominated at all levels and fares considerably worse that non-technology industries. Tech industry has merely 10 – 15% female workforce.
- While studies continuously corroborate a strong business case for inclusion of more women in tech for enhanced profitability and innovativeness, the percent continues to be low and the pipeline often inconsistent and unavailable.
- Lack of mentoring and lack of female role models are two of the most quoted barriers that women in technology workspace identify.
- For Prelims: Women In Tech forum.
- For Mains: Women in tech sector- need, significance, challenges and solutions.
Topic: issues related to Health.
Context: WHO has released a report on E- Cigarettes and its effects on health.
Highlights of the report:
- As per the report, Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) (also known as e-cigarettes) emits nicotine, the addictive component of tobacco products. In addition to dependence, nicotine can have adverse effects on the development of the foetus during pregnancy and may contribute to cardiovascular disease.
- The WHO report further says that although nicotine itself is not a carcinogen, it may function as a “tumour promoter” and seems to be involved in the biology of malignant disease, as well as of neurodegeneration.
- Foetal and adolescent nicotine exposure may have long-term consequences for brain development, potentially leading to learning and anxiety disorders.
- The evidence is sufficient to warn children and adolescents, pregnant women, and women of reproductive age against ENDS use and nicotine.
What are e-cigarettes?
An electronic cigarette (or e-cig) is a battery-powered vaporizer that mimics tobacco smoking. It works by heating up a nicotine liquid, called “juice.”
- Nicotine juice (or e-juice) comes in various flavors and nicotine levels. e-liquid is composed of five ingredients: vegetable glycerin (a material used in all types of food and personal care products, like toothpaste) and propylene glycol (a solvent most commonly used in fog machines.) propylene glycol is the ingredient that produces thicker clouds of vapor.
- Proponents of e-cigs argue that the practice is healthier than traditional cigarettes because users are only inhaling water vapor and nicotine.
Why its hard to regulate them?
As e-cigarettes contain nicotine and not tobacco, they do not fall within the ambit of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA), which mandates stringent health warnings on the packaging and advertisements of tobacco products.
Need for regulation:
The current unregulated sale of e-cigarettes is dangerous for a country like India where the number of smokers is on the decline (WHO Global Report, 2015) as it increases the possibility of e-cigarettes becoming a gateway for smoking by inducing nicotine addiction and perpetuating smoking by making it more attractive, thereby encouraging persons to become users of tobacco as well as e-cigarettes.
The government should also impose appropriate restrictions on the sale and advertisement, online and otherwise, of e-cigarettes, including proper health warnings, in order to plug the existing regulatory vacuum. This should be done with immediate effect, and simultaneously the government should also commission independent scientific research on the benefits and risks posed by these products in the Indian context.
- For Prelims: E- Cigarettes.
- For Mains: E- Cigarette- need for regulation, challenges and the role of government.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Context: Aiming to empower and uplift the rural youth and development, Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship has partnered with the Ministry of Power to ensure access to electricity for every household in the country through an ambitious scheme, Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojna (SAUBHAGYA).
About SAUBHAGYA Scheme:
- Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana – ‘Saubhagya’ was launched in September, 2017.
- Under Saubhagya free electricity connections to all households (both APL and poor families) in rural areas and poor families in urban areas will be provided.
- Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) has been designated as nodal agency for the Saubhagya scheme.
- The scheme aims to achieve universal household electrification in all parts of the country at a cost of Rs 16,320 crore, including Gross Budgetary Support of Rs 12,320 crore from the government.
- All DISCOMs including Private Sector DISCOMs, State Power Departments and RE Cooperative Societies shall be eligible for financial assistance under the scheme in line with DDUGJY.
- The prospective beneficiary households for free electricity connections under the scheme would be identified using SECC 2011 data. However, un-electrified households not covered under SECC data would also be provided electricity connections under the scheme on payment of Rs. 500 which shall be recovered by DISCOMs in 10 instalments through electricity bill.
Scope of the Scheme:
- Providing last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all un-electrified households in rural areas.
- Providing Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) based standalone system for un-electrified households located in remote and inaccessible villages / habitations, where grid extension is not feasible or cost effective.
- Providing last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all remaining economically poor un-electrified households in urban areas. Non-poor urban households are excluded from this scheme.
- There are around 4 Crore un-electrified households in the country and they are targeted for providing electricity connections by December 2018.
- For Prelims and Mains: Saubhagya scheme and its significance.
Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
Permanent Indus Commission
Context: India and Pakistan will hold a meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission to discuss various issues under the Indus Waters Treaty.
- This will be the 114th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC), which should meet at least once a year as per the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).
- The meeting of the PIC is held alternately in India and Pakistan every year.
- The PIC had last met in March 2017 in Islamabad.
About Indus Water Treaty:
The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank. The treaty was signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960 by Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru and President of Pakistan Ayub Khan.
- According to this treaty, waters of the three western rivers (the Jhelum, the Chenab, and the Indus itself) were allocated to Pakistan, and those of the three eastern rivers (the Ravi, the Beas, and the Sutlej) were allocated to India.
- The Treaty also provides arbitration mechanism to solve disputes amicably. Though Indus originates from Tibet, China has been kept out of the Treaty.
What is PIC?
Permanent Indus Commission is a bilateral commission of officials from India-Pakistan, created to implement and manage goals of Indus Waters Treaty. Under the treaty, it is required that India and Pakistan meet every financial year. The Indus Commission is the first step for conflict resolution. If an agreement cannot be reached at the Commission level, the dispute is to be referred to the two governments. If the governments too fail to reach an agreement, the Treaty provides an arbitration mechanism. The last meeting of the commission was held in July 2016.
- For Prelims: IWT, PIC.
- For Mains: IWT and its significance, dispute between India and Pakistan over river water sharing.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
3R Regional Forum in Asia and the Pacific
Context: India is getting ready to host the 8th 3R Regional Forum in Asia and the Pacific in its cleanest city, Indore in the month of April, 2018.
- The event is co-organised by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) Government of India, the Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan (MOEJ), and the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD).
- Theme: “Achieving Clean Water, Clean Land and Clean Air through 3R and Resource Efficiency- A 21st Century Vision for Asia-Pacific Communities”.
About the 3R Regional Forum:
The Regional 3R Forum in Asia and the Pacific was launched in 2009 in Tokyo, Japan.
- The United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) has been organizing International Regional Forum on 3Rs since 2009 with the support of Government of Japan.
- It promotes the concept of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in industry, service and agriculture sector. The overall objective is to establish sound material cycle society by adopting resource conservation, techniques and technologies.
- It provides a strategic platform for addressing the needs and priorities of 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) in Asian countries and sharing best practices from the region, including emerging concerns in waste management.
- In the last seven years, the Forum has been organised in Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Maldives, Japan and Australia and has been instrumental in providing innovative, effective and smart 3R based solutions.
Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Cook Islands, People’s Republic of China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Republic of Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, New Zealand, Nepal, Niue, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Viet Nam
Significance of this event:
The Forum comes at an opportune time with the Indian government’s focus on scientific management of 100% municipal solid waste through its ambitious Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban). Through this Forum, India aims to strengthen this focus through its ‘Mission Zero Waste’ approach thereby encouraging cities, industries and other diverse stakeholders to look at waste as a resource.
Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology.
Atal Innovation Mission
Context: NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) has announced the signing of a Statement of Intent (SOI) with SAP Global to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Significance of the SOI:
As part of the SOI, SAP in 2018 will adopt 100 Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATL) for five years to nurture the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning among secondary school children across India. This aims to enable students to learn advanced technology topics relevant to digital transformation and the Internet of Things, e.g. Design Thinking methodology, introduction to programming languages and experiential science learning.
What are tinkering labs?
ATLs are innovation play workspaces for students between Class 6 to 12, stimulating innovations combining science and technology.
- These open-ended innovation workspaces are equipped with state-of-the art technologies like 3D printers, robotics, sensor technology kits, Internet of Things, miniaturised electronics etc, to enable students to learn and solve local community problems using emerging technologies.
- The aim of Atal Labs is to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in schools, universities and industry with a vision to “cultivate one million children in India as the innovators of tomorrow”.
The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is Government of India’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.
- AIM is mandated to create an umbrella structure to oversee innovation ecosystem of the country and revolutionizing the innovation eco-system – touching upon the entire innovation life cycle through various programs.
- Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) create innovators, Atal Incubation Centre and support to Established Incubation Centre will take the innovations to the market and a network of Incubators shall help create enterprises around these innovations.
Facts for Prelims:
Cool EMS Service:
Context: Department of Posts has launched Cool EMS Service between India and Japan.
What is it?
Cool EMS service is one-way service from Japan to India which allows customers in India to import Japanese food items for personal use which is allowed under Indian regulations. Initially, Cool EMS Service will be available in Delhi only.