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Q.1) Taking a concern over the condition of the widows in India, the Supreme Court recently made an attempt to improve their situation. In this context, comment on the various problems faced by women in India?  What is the National Commission of Women? Suggest some measures that can be taken  to address the problems faced by women in India. (GS-1)

Context:

  • The Supreme Court recently enquired about the existence of State Commissions for Women (SCW).

What is the Supreme Court’s recent call on widows?

  • The Supreme Court makes it clear that if State Commissions for Women (SCW) did not exist in the States, then the State governments concerned should be asked to ensure setting up of such panels.
  • Also, the Center would provide an affidavit, which contains several steps required to be taken to improve the situation of the destitute widows.

What is the status of women in India in the present day context?

  • The modern women are inclined towards the social issues, and trying hard to improve the social status of women at large.
  • But a majority is still under privileged. The areas to be taken care of are:

Gender inequality:

  • In all agricultural activities there is an average gender wage disparity, with women earning only 70 percent of men’s wage or work as unpaid subsistence labor.
  • Only after the amendment on September 9, 2005 daughters in India got equal rights to the ancestral property; but it will take time before the society is able to accept the new norms completely.

Social evils:

  • Widows in India still face the basic rights for existence, inheritance rights, untouchability, social confinement and lead of life of abstinence.
  • The Sabarimala temple has restrictions on the entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 years in the shrine because women of menstruating age can’t be allowed on account of religious believes.

What are the constitutional rights for women in India?

  • The following are the constitutional rights for women in India:
  • The state shall not discriminate against any citizen of India on the ground of sex [Article 15(1)].
  • The state is empowered to make any special provision for women. In other words, this provision enables the state to make affirmative discrimination in favour of women [Article 15(3)].
  • No citizen shall be discriminated against or be ineligible for any employment or office under the state on the ground of sex [Article 16(2)].
  • Traffic in human beings and forced labour are prohibited [Article 23(1)].
  • The state to secure for men and women equally the right to an adequate means of livelihood [Article 39(a)].
  • The state to secure equal pay for equal work for both Indian men and women [Article 39(d)].
  • The state is required to ensure that the health and strength of women workers are not abused and that they are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their strength [Article 39(e)].
  • The state shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief [Article 42].
  • It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women [Article 51-A(e)].
  • One-third of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every Panchayat shall be reserved for women [Article 243-D(3)].
  • One-third of the total number of offices of chairpersons in the Panchayats at each level shall be reserved for women [Article 243-D(4)].
  • One-third of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every Municipality shall be reserved for women [Article 243-T(3)].
  • The offices of chairpersons in the Municipalities shall be reserved for women in such manner as the State Legislature may provide [Article 243-T(4)].

What is National Commission for Women (NCW)?

  • The National Commission for Women (NCW) is a statutory body of the Government of India.
  • It was established in January 1992 under the provisions of the Indian Constitution, as defined in the 1990 National Commission for Women Act.

Objectives:

  • The objective of the NCW is to represent the rights of women in India and to provide a voice for their issues and concerns.
  • It is also concerned with advising the government on all policy matters affecting women.
  • Dowry, politics, religion, equal representation for women in jobs, and the exploitation of women for labour are their prime subjects.

What is State Commissions for Women (SCW)?

  • State Commissions for Women is operated at the State level.
  • These are governmental bodies to protect and promote the rights of women in their respective States.

Objectives:

  • State Commissions for Women have been endowed with the powers to protect and promote women’s rights throughout the State and especially in situations where women are in need of help of these Commissions.

What are the measures to be taken?

  • Society: The real voice for change must come from within the society.
  • Superstition: There should be a change of the superstitious mindset that deprives widows of their right to live.
  • Welfare Schemes: Economic problems should be addressed to some extent by formulating welfare schemes for widows.
  • Law enforcement: The Center must try strict enforcement of the laws that already exist to ensure women’s rights.
  • Education: Education should be the driving force to eliminate ignorance and hardships of the widows in India and worldwide.

Q.2) What do you understand by global warming? What are its major causes? Discuss the impact of climate change on India. (GS-3)

Context:

  • After consecutive disasters by climate change, any further delay in reducing emissions would put at risk many more lives, livelihoods and investments for decades to come.

What is global warming? What are its causes?

  • Global warming, also referred to as climate change, is the observed century-scale rise in the average temperature of the earth’s climate system and its related effects.

Causes:

  • The primary reason for global warming is the combustion of fossil fuels in cars, factories and electricity production.
  • Other factors include methane released from landfills and agriculture (especially from the digestive systems of grazing animals), nitrous oxide from fertilizers, gases used for refrigeration and industrial processes.
  • The loss of forests adds on to global warming at a large scale that would otherwise store CO2.

What are Green House Gases (GHGs)?

  • There are many chemicals and compounds found on Earth that help in balancing and stabilizing the temperature. These are called green house gases.
  • The primary greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone.

Importance:

  • When ultra violet rays from the sun travel to the Earth, they are observed by these green house gases and therefore these ultra violet rays are not capable of reaching the Earth’s surface.
  • What is the Paris climate agreement?
  • It is an agreement within the UNFCCC dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020.

Objectives:

  • The objective is to limit global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100.
  • For which, global greenhouse gas emissions will need to be cut by an estimated 40-70 percent by 2050, and by 2100 the planet must be carbon-neutral.
  • Under the Paris accord, each country must submit its own plan to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and address the impact of climate change.

How is India affected by climate change?

A study on the impact of climate change by the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, shows countries in the tropics will be the worst affected as a result of global warming.

Economic:

  • India is one of the most affected ones, with its per capita output expected to fall by 1.33 percentage points.
  • As a result, majority of the people of India continue to live in poverty, with malnutrition and diseases corroding the society.

Agriculture:

  • Because of global warming, when there is a loss of output and lower productivity affects capital formation of the country.
  • Lower productivity also poses a significant threat to the food security situation in India.
  • Moreover, unabated global warming leads to exacerbation of the droughts, cutting down the water availability.

Environment:

  • Global warming has lead to ocean acidification. When sea water reacts with carbon dioxide it creates carbonic acid and therefore acidifies the sea.
  • Unprecedented floods take place every year at one place or the other, with the most vulnerable states of India.

What are the necessary measures to be taken to safeguard from the losses of global warming?

  • Steps should be taken at both the individual country level and the global level.
  • To prevent economic misbalance, emerging market and low-income economies will have to build significant macroeconomic resilience.
  • Programmes are to be initiated that will help improve the quality of land and reduce the risk of climate change.
  • There is a need for better agricultural practices that leave carbon in the ground, use of biochar, undertaking afforestation and reforestation.
  • Methods and technologies are to be introduced so that the country can reduce its dependence on the monsoon.
  • Better policies are needed to support practices that successfully keep carbon in the ground, prevent deforestation, support agricultural practice that sequesters carbon and promote sustainable land use practices that reduce emissions.
  • Apart from framing policies, there should be strict enforcement of these laws.

Q.3) The World Health Development Report 2018 was recently introduced with the tagline “LEARNING to Realize Education’s Promise”. In this context, what are the problems faced by the education sector in India? Enumerate some schemes of the government in this regard. Also suggest some remedial measures for the same. (GS-1)

Context:

  • The World Development Report 2018 focuses for the first time on education.
  • The report brought forward the fact that how intense deprivation can hinder the brain development of young children.
  • The World Bank in the latest report on  noted that millions of young students in these countries face the prospect of lost opportunity and lower wages in later life because their primary and secondary schools are failing to educate them to succeed in life.

What is World Bank?

  • The World Bank was established in 1944, is headquartered in Washington D.C.
  • The World Bank is a provider of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the globe.
  • The bank considers itself a unique financial institution that provides partnerships to reduce poverty and support economic development by giving loans and offering advice and training to both the private and public sectors.

Aims and objectives:

  • The World Bank has two stated goals that it aims to achieve by 2030.
  • The first is to end extreme poverty by decreasing the amount of people living on less than $1.90 a day to below 3% of the world population.
  • The second is to increase overall prosperity by increasing the income growth in the bottom 40% of the world’s population.
  • Beyond its specific goals, the World Bank provides qualifying individuals and governments with low-interest loans, zero-interest credits and grants.
  • These debt borrowings and cash infusions help with global education, health care, public administration, infrastructure and private sector development.
  • The World Bank also shares information with world governments through policy advice, research and analysis and technical assistance.

What is the World Development Report 2018?

  • The World Development Report 2018 (WDR 2018) ushers in with the tagline “LEARNING to Realize Education’s Promise”
  • It is the first ever report devoted entirely to education.

Objective of the report:

The 2018 WDR explores four main themes:

  • education’s promise;
  • the need to shine a light on learning;
  • how to make schools work for learners; and
  • how to make systems work for learning.

Highlights from the report:

  • Most importantly, the report is not on education in general but about early childhood development
  • The report says that millions of young students face the prospect of lost opportunity and lower wages in later life because their primary and secondary schools are failing to educate them to succeed in life.
  • The effects of stunting in the early years on physical, cognitive and socio-emotional development prevent children from learning well in later years
  • The report also discusses the far-reaching impact of poverty and chronic malnutrition on the physical and mental development of children.
  • The report makes a moral case for education, with a rights-based approach, and sub-sections titled ‘Education as freedom’; ‘Education improves individual freedoms’; ‘Education benefits all of society’.
  • According to the ‘World Development Report 2018: ‘Learning to Realise Education’s Promise’, released recently, India ranks second after Malawi in a list of 12 countries wherein a grade two student could not read a single word of a short text. India also tops the list of seven countries in which a grade two student could not perform two-digit subtraction.
  • The report argued that without learning, education will fail to deliver on its promise to eliminate extreme poverty and create shared opportunity and prosperity for all as Even after several years in school, millions of children cannot read, write or do basic math.This learning crisis is widening social gaps instead of narrowing them

The health-education paradigm: facts from the report

Stunted growth, also known as stunting and nutritional stunting, is a reduced growth rate in human development.

  • The report points out that in low-income countries, stunting rates among children under-five are almost three times higher in the poorest quintile than in the richest.
  • Thus, early childhood development programmes are to be scaled up and resourced for nutritional inputs.
  • The report did not regard technology as a panacea in itself but as something that has the potential to enhance learning.
  • It puts the teacher-learner relationship is at the centre of learning.
  • According to the report focus should also be on antenatal and postnatal care, sanitation, and counselling of parents for effective early child stimulation.
  • The report adds that it is equally important to fund the sector better; improve teacher training; support the continuing professional development of teachers; and help teachers to help the poorest children to learn.
  • Further, initiatives are to be taken beyond reading and arithmetic, any meaningful assessment of learning should also consider aspects such as comprehension, problem solving, critical thinking, and innovation.

What are the consequences of substandard education?

  • Unemployment: The substandard education system in India gives rise to unemployment. The students are not made eligible enough to solve problems but rote learning
  • Quality of education: There are many private teacher-training institutes in India, but the quality of the training they provide is unsatisfactory.
  • Accountability: Substandard education gives rise to lack of accountability of teachers and school authorities has raised the rate of absenteeism.
  • Dissatisfaction: This leads to dissatisfaction, eventually resulting in a dearth of teachers both in rural and urban areas.

What are the problems of educational sector in India?

  • Improper infrastructure: Most schools in India are not yet compliant with the complete set of Right to Education infrastructure indicators.
  • They lacks drinking water facilities, a functional common toilet, and do not have separate toilets for girls.
  • Social discrimination: The Indian society suffers from many kind of discrimination so there are many hurdles in education of unprivileged sections of society like women, SC, ST and minority.
  • Insufficient funds: A very minimal amount of subsidy is provided for higher education.
  • Thus, the demand for financial resources far exceeds the supply.
  • Corruption: Corruption in Indian education system has been eroding the quality of education.
  • System of learning: Modern education in India is often criticized for being based on rote learning rather than problem solving.
  • High dropout rate: High dropout rate especially for females due to lack of toilets in many schools.

What are the government initiatives for educational sector in India?

  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan: Launched in 2001 Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan(SSA) is one of India‟s major flagship programmes for universalisation of elementary education.
  • Its overall goals include universal access and retention, bridging of gender and social category gaps in elementary education, and achieving significant enhancement in learning levels of children.
  • Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya: KGBVs are residential upper primary schools for girls from SC, ST, OBC and Muslim communities.
  • KGBVs are set up in areas of scattered habitations where schools are at great distances and are a challenge to the security of girls.
  • Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS): Commonly referred to as MDMS, this was expected to enhance enrolment, retention, attendance of children in schools apart from improving their nutritional levels.
  • A detailed survey of implementation of intended nutritional values including calorific value, protein inclusion, additional nutritional supplements and vitamins, as detailed in the scheme, needs to be carried out to ensure that the nutrition scheme is implemented in both spirit and letter.
  • Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA): This scheme was launched in March, 2009 with the objective to enhance access to secondary education and to improve its quality. The implementation of the scheme started from 2009-10. It is envisaged to achieve an enrolment rate of 75% from 52.26% in 2005-06 at secondary stage of implementation of the scheme by providing a secondary school within a reasonable distance of any habitation. The other objectives include improving quality of education imparted at secondary level through making all secondary schools conform to prescribed norms, removing gender, socio-economic and disability barriers, providing universal access to secondary level education by 2017, i.e., by the end of 12th Five Year Plan and achieving universal retention by 2020.
  • Operation Blackboard: Operation Blackboard is a centrally sponsored programme which aims at providing students studying in primary settings with the necessary institutional equipment and instructional material to facilitate their education.

What is National Food Security Mission?

  • National Food Security Mission was launched by the Government of India in October 2007.
  • It has been launched in view of the stagnating food grain production and an increasing consumption need of the growing population.

Objectives:

  • Its prime objective is to increase food security by stepping up the overall food production and food stocks held by the government and ensure that the nation remains self-sufficient and prices remain under check.

Its secondary objectives are:

  • Develop water catchment areas
  • Improve water management and conservation through innovative use of technology
  • Encourage farmers to adopt ‘More Crop Per Drop’ techniques
  • Step up developing and subsidised distribution of high-yielding/ hybrid seeds
  • Develop more productive and low-cost farming equipment and tools
  • Make more electricity available to farmers and at subsidised rates
  • Encourage higher adoption of crop insurance by farmers
  • Step up bank financing at subsidised rates
  • Increase farmer education and training by leveraging IT and telecom.

What is the way forward?

  • Necessary budgetary allocations are to be provided both for effective implementation of the schemes and also for the proposed reform initiatives.
  • The initiatives or schemes formulated are to be supervised periodically.
  • And most importantly, there is an urgent need to make reforms in examinations, governance, regulation, school standards, teachers & faculty, literacy & lifelong learning, skills and employability, quality assurance, internationalization, research, curricula, innovation etc. so as to build an education system that promotes equitable access to quality education to all sections of the society.
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