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List of Contents
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Synopsis: The use of internet also increased the prevalence of Racial Discrimination. The only way to overcome racism is by anti-racism action.
Every year March 21 is considered as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This is a global movement to fight prejudice and intolerance. It provides an opportunity to explore the causes and consequences of modern racism and helps in fighting discrimination.
- Racial discrimination is a breach of human rights. It has harmful effects on human health and well-being. It leads to wider disturbances to social unity.
- In this context word of the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan are still relevant
“Our mission is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated.”
What are the types of racism faced by people in society?
Recent forms of racism and discrimination are complex and often hidden. The facelessness of the Internet allows racist stereotypes and incorrect information to spread online.
- Firstly, traffic to hate sites and posts against Asians grew by 200% in the US during the pandemic. Social media groups and messaging platforms assist in social and economic boycotts of religious minorities. Minorities were falsely accused of spreading the virus in India and Sri Lanka.
- Secondly, structural forms of discrimination which include micro-aggressions and everyday indignities are widespread. The use of new technologies and artificial intelligence in security raises the threat of techno-racism.
- This is because facial recognition programmes can misidentify and target racialised communities. A study by The Lancet focussed on the social dimension of the COVID-19 pandemic and the vulnerability of ethnic minorities.
- Thirdly, the World Health Organization has warned about the dangers of outlining and defaming communities. It can lead to fear and the subsequent cover-up of cases and delays in detection.
- Fourthly, women and girls also experienced racial and gender-based biases.
Suggestions to tackle Racial discrimination
UNESCO suggested steps against racism through education, the sciences, culture, and communication.
- UNESCO emphasizes the role of education. It provides young people with an understanding of processes that tolerate racism and encourages them to stand up for human rights.
- UNESCO offers master classes to help students to become campaigners of anti-racism in their schools and communities. It will be helpful to remove harmful stereotypes and raise tolerance.
- The International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities provides a platform for city-level planning and a laboratory for good practices in the fight against racism.
- Renewed commitments are required to mobilize for equality. Racism must be fought with anti-racist action. A global culture of tolerance, equality, and anti-discrimination should be built in the minds of women and men.
- UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris hosted a Global Forum against Racism and Discrimination on March 22, 2021.
- Policymakers, academics, and partners were present at the Forum to initiate a new multi-stakeholder partnership on anti-racism. The new proposed map to tolerance calls for a multi sectoral effort to control the root causes of racism through anti-racist laws, policies and programmes.
Source: The Indian Express
Syllabus: GS:3 Disaster Management
Synopsis: Forest fires in India occurring more frequently. But India is facing challenges in controlling them.
Most forest fires in India appeared between the April-May months. In recent years the forest fires have been more frequent than usual. For example, in few areas, forest fires occurred in the winter months also.
Uttarakhand alone witnessed more than 1000 forest fire incidents in the past six months. Since the start of 2021 forest fires has been seen in Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland-Manipur border, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat.
Prime hotspots of Forest Fires in India:
According to the India State Forest Report 2019, India’s 21.67% of its geographical area is forest. Forests in Assam, Mizoram and Tripura have been identified as ‘extremely prone to the forest fires.
States with large forest areas under the ‘very highly prone’ category include Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, etc.
Since the start of this year, prolonged fires are recorded in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh (Kullu Valley) and Nagaland-Manipur border (Dzukou Valley). Further in recent months forest fires also occurred in Simlipal National Park in Odisha, Bandhavgarh Forest Reserve in Madhya Pradesh and in sanctuaries for the Asiatic lion and the great Indian bustard in Gujarat.
The present forest fire in Nainital started in March end.
Reason for Forest Fires in India:
Forest fires occur in India both due to Natural and Man-made causes.
Natural causes for Forest Fires in India:
- Massive fires in the Amazon forests in Brazil and in Australia are primarily due to Climate Change. The fires due to climate change have certain characteristics in common. It is also applicable to India. They are,
- Longer duration of fires
- High-intensity fires
- Fires of high-frequency
- In India the march and April month see more forest fires. This is due to the availability of large quantities of dry wood, logs, stumps, dead leaves, dry grass and weeds in forest lands.
- Lack of soil moisture is also seen as a key factor. For example, the recent Uttarakhand forest fires are due to this.
- Man-Made causes for Forest Fires in India:
But many major fires in India are triggered mainly by human activities.
- Manmade fires are high particularly in places where people visit forests. People leave burning bidis, cigarette stubs or other inflammable materials inside the forest.
- In some places, people deliberately cause a fire. For example, the recent fire in Simlipal National Park in Odisha is due to deliberation. Villagers set dry leaves to fire in order to collect mahua flowers. (The local people use these flowers in preparation for a local drink).
Control of Forest Fires in India:
Forest fires are difficult to control due to the following reasons.
- The locality of the forest and access to the specific location is hard for firefighters.
- Shortage of Firefighters: This creates challenges in the timely mobilisation of forest staff, fuel and fire fighting equipment, etc.
- Impossible to transport heavy vehicles loaded with water into the thick forests. So, in extreme places helicopters are used.
- Wind speed and direction can also play a crucial role in fire fighting.
Importance of preventing Forest Fires in India:
- A healthy forest stores and sequesters more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem.
- According to the 2011 census, 1.70 lakh villages in India have proximity to forests. The livelihood of several crores of people is dependent on fuelwood, bamboo, fodder, and small timber.
- Forest fires can have multiple adverse effects on the forest. For example, forest cover, soil, tree growth, vegetation, and the overall flora and fauna all get impact due to forest fires.
- The heat generated during the fire destroys animal habitats.
- Soil quality decreases with the alteration in their compositions.
- The trees that survive fire often remain stunted and growth is severely affected.
- Soil moisture and fertility gets affected. Thus forests can shrink in size in the future.
Government Initiatives to prevent Forest Fires in India:
- Since 2004, the Forest Survey of India(FSI) developed a Fire Alert System. The system will monitor forest fires in real-time. In 2019, an advanced version of the system was also launched.
- Using the MODIS sensors(Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) Real-time fire information of fire hotspots is collected and sent to FSI. This is then forwarded by email to state, district, circle, division, range and beat levels. People in the locality will also receive SMS alerts.
Source: Indian Express
Gs3: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.
Synopsis: Many economists are criticizing the RBI’s role in inflation targeting. They are suggesting alternatives to inflation targeting. Let’s have a look at them.
- The central government confirmed the continuance of inflation targeting as a tool to monitor inflation within the same bandwidth.
- The “inflation targeting” regime came into force in 2016. Recently inflation targeting has been renewed for another five years.
- Following this, the RBI will continue to target maintaining retail inflation within the band of 2% to 6%.
- RBI will use the headline inflation to control the inflation as it reflects the prices of essential consumer goods.
- Retail core inflation, is the inflation rate without taking into account the fluctuations in the prices of fuel and food items.
Why many people have criticised RBI’s role in inflation targeting?
Many have criticised the RBI’s mandate of inflation targeting because of its contradictory role.
- RBI acts as a regulator to maintain financial stability and control prices in the economy by increasing interest rates. But this has a negative consequence on economic growth.
- Also, RBI is responsible to boost the economy by reducing repo rates. Because Cheaper loans will make it easier for firms and governments to borrow and spend/invest thus leading to economic growth.
- Between 2016 and 2020, many times RBI focused more on keeping retail inflation low by setting high interest. This has affected India’s economic growth.
What are the alternatives suggested to inflation targeting?
- First, instead of headline retail inflation, the RBI should focus on the retail core inflation rate. Because fuel and food prices often shoot up in the short-term due to supply disruption.
- Second, RBI should not be looking at retail inflation. Instead, it should look at wholesale inflation. Because RBI’s move to tweak interest rate affects the credit available to businesses. This, in turn, is affected by wholesale inflation, and not retail inflation.
- Third, RBI should neither use the wholesale nor retail inflation rate as targets. Instead, the RBI should create a Producer Price Index to suit the RBI’s need.
- Fourth, a singular focus on maintaining price stability will be counter-productive for a developing economy such as India. They argue that the RBI should be working with the government towards ensuring fast economic growth rather than focusing on inflation targeting. Their argument is that inflation targeting is not the only way to be prudent about macro-financial stability.
Why RBI should continue Inflation targeting?
There are many benefits associated with Inflation Targeting. They are,
- First, a high inflation rate is the most regressive kind of tax. The poorest people suffer the most. By targeting inflation India can avoid hurting poor people.
- Second, as NPA’s or bad loans are being recognised by banks, macro-financial stability will come into sharp focus. Inflation targeting can provide such macro-financial stability.
- Third, Inflation targeting also takes care of supply-side bottlenecks. For example, India’s inflation rate remains somewhat constant despite the increasing fuel prices and Covid-induced lockdowns in India.
But, Under the given circumstances, it is a wise decision by the government to allow RBI to focus on targeting retail inflation. This will ensure that India’s poorest, who are the most hit by the pandemic will not be affected further.
Source: The Hindu
GS3: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Synopsis: Kerala’s model of Governance prioritise spending on Social infrastructure. It provides greater Economic security even during the time of adversities.
- ‘Kerala model’ of governance highlights that Human development welfare measures are effective even with low Economic growth.
- It has also highlighted the importance of the role of the People’s movement. It pressurizes the government to adopt redistributive measures.
Kerala’s growth story
- Many economists predicted the failure of Kerala model of governance during the economic stagnation in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The reason was that a slow-growing economy will not have enough fiscal capacity to fund its welfare programs.
- But after the 1980s, the growth in Agricultural income and remittance increased. It provided a long period for economic growth. During this growth period,
- the workforce engaged in the secondary sector increased from 20% (1988) to 32% (2018-19).
- The per capita income that was 10% lower than national average during 1990, raised to more than 65% of national average by (2019-20)
- Health and education indicators improved, social security schemes were expanded.
- One issue was the quality of infrastructure of public schools and public hospitals. The inadequate facilities forced many people towards the private sector.
Innovativeness to raise Funding
- Kerala’s welfare policies were hampered due to a lack of adequate financial resources due to harsh limits on state borrowings. The passage of GST disallowed states to tax commodities based on their priorities. It affected their avenues for resource mobilization.
- In this context, KIFB was set up to raise funding from the financial market. The idea was that greater public spending will increase tax revenues by stimulating growth.
- The government assured repayment of loans by legally committing to pay portion of its revenue from motor vehicle tax and petroleum Cess.
Public Spending on Social infrastructure
- In the last 5 years, Kerala invested large amount in building up infrastructure for public schools and hospitals. For example, greater than 45000 classrooms were made ‘Hi-tech’ classrooms.
- The investments were sourced through ‘Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board’ (KIFB).
- The result was, the number of students in public schools increased. The effectiveness of Kerala public hospitals were witnessed during the Pandemic.
- Apart from public schools, KIFB funding was used to build economic infrastructure such as industrial parks, bridges, Kerala fiber-optic network (K-FON), TRANSGRID 2.0.
Implications of Investing in Social Infrastructure
- There are concerns over Kerala’s unsustainable levels of Debt. For example, the debt to gross state domestic product is 36%
- Further, Kerala is very much vulnerable to shocks of the economy such as natural disaster (floods in 2018,2019 & the pandemic), job losses in west Asian countries, contradictory fiscal policy of center. All these can adversely impact its economic growth.
- However, public spending in social and economic infrastructure will create a more skilled, educated, healthier workforce along with quality infrastructure. This will ensure that even at times of adversities Kerala will be in a better position to absorb the shocks of the Economy.