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Q.1)   Menstruation is still a taboo subject in our country and a topic that even women are uncomfortable discussing in public. In this context discuss the present issues involved in it. Suggest some measures to overcome these issues.(GS 1).

Menstruation is still a taboo subject in our country and a topic that even women are uncomfortable discussing in public. The United Nations has recently recognised menstrual hygiene as a global public health and a human rights issue yet across the globe.

Issues involved:

  • Presently, in India, approximately 35 crore women menstruate and it is estimated that only 12% use proper menstrual hygiene practices and menstrual products. The remaining 88% having no access whatever. They find sanitary pads unaffordable.
  • In India’s rural areas, with the lack of resources, education and awareness about personal hygiene, not just lack of information about hygiene products, the women don’t even have any conversation around menstruation.
  • For the less privileged, periods are the few ‘cursed’ days of the month.
  • A woman on her periods cannot enter the temple, kitchen or take part in any auspicious occasion – because she is ‘impure’.
  • The 88% who do not have access to sanitary pads use unsanitised cloth, husk sand, tree leaves and even ash. These can cause severe reproductive health problems and infections, and can also lead to cervical cancer.
  • There is the issue of school dropouts and poor attendance because of inadequate menstrual hygiene management. This also is one of the causes for loss of wages for women labourers.
  • Equally important is the safe disposal of used sanitary pads, which actually are an environmental disaster. In villages, the used pads often end up in village ponds, exposing every human being and animal to the risk of infection.

Measures/way ahead:

Menstruation is still a taboo subject in our country and a topic that even women are uncomfortable discussing in public.  In order to overcome these taboos following steps can be useful.

  • There is need for awareness campaign of the use of proper menstrual products.
  • Mindset change is happening, but much more need to be done.
  • It is high time people dispel the misconceptions that surround the normal physiological process of menstruation and discard the restrictions imposed on women during “the time of the month”.

Q.2)   In an effort to make India a global hub for arbitration, the government will grade institutions that offer alternative dispute resolution mechanism for commercial disputes. In this context discuss the relevance of the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2018.(GS 2)

In an effort to make India a global hub for arbitration, the government will grade institutions that offer alternative dispute resolution mechanism for commercial disputes. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill 2018 to be put before the Parliament in order to amend the 1996 Act.

A High Level Committee chaired by a retired judge of the Supreme Court Justice B.S. Srikrishna proposed the amendments to the Bill. The report was submitted by the committee after examining the state of arbitration institutes in India, and develops a future roadmap for increase in the same.

Relevance of the Bill:

  • The objective of the Bill is to increase institutional arbitration and to bring a reasonable surge in the adoption of Alternative Disputes Resolution
  • It will provide for the establishment of an independent body, called the Arbitration Council of India (ACI), to accredit and grade arbitrators and arbitral institutions.
  • It also proposes to do away with the necessity of approaching either the High Court or the Supreme Court, for the appointment of an arbitrator. It provides for the provisions in which the parties can directly approach arbitral institutions designated by the courts.
  • It also provides that although for International Arbitration no time limit shall be proposed, however the Disputes involving Domestic Issues must be resolved within a year following the date on which the suit gets filed.
  • The Bill has also proposed that the Arbitrator shall be given legal immunity for any bonafide act or omission committed during the due course of the arbitration proceedings.
  • If the bill is signed into a full-fledged law, the ACI will also be responsible for taking steps to encourage all forms of ADR, and formulate policy that will ensure professional standards are maintained. The body will also maintain an online depository of arbitral awards.
  • The amendments to the Bill shall not have any retrospective effect, unless the parties so desire and agree upon it.

Q.3)   India recently has got the green signal to join as a 69th member of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). In this context discuss how this membership will help India? (GS 3)

India has got the go-ahead to join the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Shareholders of EBRD have given their consent in this regard. Now, India will become EBRD’s 69th member, enabling Indian companies to undertake joint investments in regions in which the EBRD operates.

How will this membership help India?

  • Membership would enhance India’s international profile and promote its economic interests.
  • It will also give access to EBRD’s Countries of Operation and sector knowledge.
  • India’s investment opportunities would get a boost.
  • It would increase the scope of cooperation between India and EBRD through co-financing opportunities in manufacturing, services, Information Technology, and Energy.
  • EBRD’s core operations pertain to private sector development in their countries of operation.
  • The membership would help India leverage the technical assistance and sectoral knowledge of the bank for the benefit of development of private sector.
  • This would contribute to an improved investment climate in the country.
  • The membership of EBRD would enhance the competitive strength of the Indian firms, and provide an enhanced access to international markets in terms of business opportunities, procurement activities, consultancy assignments etc.
  • This would open up new vistas for Indian professionals on the one hand, and give a fillip to Indian exports on the other.
  • Increased economic activities would have the employment generating potential.
  • It would also enable Indian nationals to get the employment opportunity in the Bank.
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