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Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – May 24

1. Most of the heat wave deaths are preventable because its onset and duration are easily predictable and the relief-measures are simple. What are the steps taken by NDMA to counter heat waves?(GS 1)

NDMA-1 | NDMA-2

Introduction:-

  • A Heat Wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western parts of India.
  • However with climate change heat waves have become a common phenomena.

Measures taken to counter heat waves by NDMA are:-

  • It is time to devise a national level strategy and plan to combat this disaster.
  • A comprehensive heat preparedness and response requires involvement from not only government authorities but also non-governmental organizations and civil society.
  • The local authorities should carry out a vulnerability assessment in order to identify these areas.
  • The following are key lesson learnt from Ahmedabad Heat Wave Action
    Plan:

    • Recognize Heat Wave as a major Health Risk.
    • Map out the ‘High Risk’ Communities.
    • Setting up of ‘Public Cooling Places’.
    • Issue Heat wave alerts through different media.
    • Establish Early Warning System and Inter-Agency Coordination to alert residents on predicted high and extreme temperatures. Who will do what, when, and how is made clear to  individuals and units of key departments, especially for health.
    • Capacity building / training programme for health care professionals at local level to  recognize and respond to heat-related illnesses, particularly during extreme heat events. These training programmes should focus on medical officers, paramedical staff and community health staff so that they can effectively prevent and manage heat-related medical issues to reduce mortality and morbidity.
  • Public Awareness and community outreach Disseminating public awareness messages on how to protect against the extreme heat-wave through print, electronic and social media and
    Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials such as pamphlets, posters and advertisements and Television Commercials (TVCs) on Do‟s and Don‟ts and treatment measures for heat related illnesses.

    • Collaboration with non government and civil society:
      • Collaboration with non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations to improve bus stands, building temporary
        shelters, wherever necessary, improved water delivery systems in public areas and other
    • innovative measures to tackle Heat wave conditions.
  • Odisha State Disaster Management Authority is taking steps proactively such as:
    • Early warning systems:
      • Temperature and humidity levels, considered together, will determine the threshold for heat wave alerts. Bhubaneswar experiences up to 85 percent humidity in the summer, with Odisha‟s coastal regions facing even higher humidity.
    • Public outreach:
      • Temperature forecasts and heat alerts will be sent as bulk messages on mobile phones, including to the media for wider broadcast and Electronic screens at busy traffic intersections and market places will also display the information.
      • It is also developing a website and a mobile phone app that would not only provide heat alerts but also help users identify, via maps, heat shelters and drinking water availability along highways through the state.
    • Medical upgradation and administrative measures- Heat treatment wings also are planned in hospitals, and heat alerts would trigger early morning shifts for schools and offices.
    • Prevention of Heat Related Illness:
      • Heat-related illness is largely avoidable. The most crucial point of intervention concerns the use of appropriate prevention strategies by susceptible individuals.
      • Knowledge of effective prevention and first-aid treatment, besides an awareness of potential side-effects of prescription

drugs during hot weather is crucial for physicians and pharmacists.


2. Investment rate in India has continuously fallen since reaching peak in 2007-08. Enumerate the reasons and suggest ways to increase investment.(GS 3)

Link-1 | Link-2 | Link-3

Why investment rate has fallen?

  • Private-sector fixed-capital investment, as a share of GDP, peaked at 33.6% in 2011-2012 and has since trended down to the current low of 28.7% in 2014-2015.
  • And this weakness is a countrywide phenomenon, with all major states registering a decline in ongoing projects over this period. Maharashtra and Karnataka, for example, both experienced a cumulative decline of about 15% in projects;
  • As for “Make in India,” the reality is that capacity creation in manufacturing has suffered a cumulative decline of 35% from its peak in 2011. The cumulative decline in services, at 13%, looks moderate in comparison.
  • One factor holding back investment is that major reforms, especially regarding land acquisition, simply have not happened.
  • And, given parliamentary gridlock, the prospect of pushing through tough reforms appears bleak. As a result, the central government has preferred simply to delegate some of the task to state governments.
  • A second factor holding back investment is the continuing financial problems of Indian banks and of many large corporations.
  • Higher tax rates do not make India a better place to invest.
  • Bureaucratic hurdles .
  • Delay in project clearances.
  • With help from falling commodity prices – nominal interest rates have not fallen in line. In terms of the consumer price index, the real cost of borrowing (cash credit) from public-sector banks rose from 0.75% in the first quarter of 2012 to 5.24% in the third quarter of 2015.
  • External conditions also held down investment in 2016. The US economy has recovered, but the Chinese motor has slowed markedly, and growth in Japan and much of Europe remains sluggish. That inevitably means fewer incentives in India to invest in export-oriented sectors.
  • real cost of borrowing.

Ways to increase investment are:-

  • Liberalize policy to attract domestic capital investment, foreign direct investment and institutional capital
  • Better governance and government processes, as well as progressive policy, are necessary for India to inspire investors, attract foreign direct investment and execute projects.
  • Streamlined bureaucracy and a simplified project approval process.
  • The shift in emphasis from services to manufacturing will require policy liberalization, the opening of export and domestic markets, and the engagement of foreign capital and know-how in more sectors that can lead to improved infrastructure for citizens and businesses.
  • Bankruptcy reform will be essential to place the corporate and financial sectors on a sound footing.
  • Stagnant investment in Japan and several eurozone countries demonstrates the folly of allowing corporate-debt overhangs and non-performing loans to go unresolved. India must settle these issues before they turn chronic.
  • If the economy is to achieve the double-digit growth rates that China once boasted, India will need to build much more production capacity and much more infrastructure.

3. Though the legislation has superseded the Vishakha Guidelines by SC, the implementation of the Sexual Harassment law hasn’t been done in its spirit. Comment.(GS 2)

Link

Introduction :-

  • Vishakha, which sought detailed directions on how sexual harassment of women in the workplace could be prevented.
  • The guidelines the SC issued in 1997, which came to be known as the Vishakha Guidelines, were to be ‘strictly observed in all workplaces’ and were binding and enforceable in law.
  • India’s law against sexual harassmentat the workplace was passed in 2013, laying out processes that need to be followed in organised and unorganised sectors.

Yes,the implementation was not good :-

  • The Act has no provisions to enable speedy disposal of criminal complaints of this nature.
  • The Act does not satisfactorily address accountability. Notably, it does not specify who is in charge of ensuring that workplaces comply with the Act, and who can be held responsible if its provisions are not followed.
  • Even four years on, there are companies that fail to abide by these norms 65% of respondents in an Indian Bar Association survey said their companies did not follow prescribed norms.
  • Even in companies that do have sexual harassment prevention committees, the complainant may fail to get justice, particularly when the accused is a high-performing executive.
  • Unless companies are held liable by state governments, the Act will only be a toothless tiger and the only redressal a victim will have is to file an FIR and wait for the endless trial only to result in acquittal.
  • Yet, 70% women said they did not report sexual harassment by superiors because they feared the repercussions, according to survey conducted by the Indian Bar Association in 2017 of 6,047 respondents.
  • Between 2014 and 2015, cases of sexual harassment within office premises more than doubled from 57 to 119 according to National Crime Records Bureau data.
  • Employers are either unaware of the law’s provisions or have implemented them partially and even those that do set up internal panels have poorly trained members.
  • Above all, there is little gender parity in organisations even today.
  • An internal complaints committee (ICC) is mandatory in every private or public organisation that has 10 or more employees, according to the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. However, 36% of Indian companies and 25% of multinational companies had not yet constituted their ICCs.
  • The law imposes a penalty of upto Rs 50,000 on employers who do not implement the Act in the workplace or even fail to constitute an ICC. But, the number of employers who do not fully comply with the law indicates that there is little monitoring of their redressal machinery.
  • There is a high rate of non-compliance in the private sector, as is evident in the 2015 study, by Ernst and Young.
    • Two in five IT companies were oblivious to the need to set up ICCs and 50% of advertising and media companies had not conducted training for ICC members,.

However it’s not the case always :-

  • The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act retains the essence of the Vishakha Guidelines, and expands on its provisions.
  • It widens the definition of ‘aggrieved woman’ to include all women, irrespective of age and employment status, and it covers clients, customers and domestic workers.
  • It expands ‘workplace’ beyond traditional offices to include all kinds of organisations across sectors, even non-traditional workplaces (for example those that involve telecommuting) and places visited by employees for work.
  • It mandates the constitution of the internal complaint committee (ICC) and states the action to be taken if an ICC is not formed  and the filing of an audit report of the number of complaints and action taken at the end of the year.
  • It lists the duties of the employer, like organising regular workshops and awareness programmes to educate employees about the Act, and conducting orientation programmes for the members of the ICC.
  • If the employer fails to constitute an ICC, or does not abide by any other provision, they must pay a fine of up to ₹50,000. If the offender is a repeat offender, the fine gets doubled. If the employer has been previously convicted of an offence under the Act, he shall be convicted for twice the punishment, and the second offence can also lead to cancellation or non-renewal of his licence.
  • A Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the first class shall try the offence punishable under the Act.

 

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