Polity & Governance
- Changes in labour law across states
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Sal forest tortoise
- World Migratory Bird Day 2020
Defence & Security Issues
- Online manual on identifying fake news
Science and Technology
- National Technology Day
- Maharana Pratap
- Gopal Krishna Gokhale
Persons in News
- Florence Nightingale
Also in News
- The Stringency Index
Key Facts for Prelims
- COVID KAVACH ELISA
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Polity & Governance
Changes in labour law across states
The governments of many states of India have decided to make significant changes in the application of labour laws.
What is the issue?
- The significant changes in labour laws were announced by UP, MP, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and Odisha.
- UP has made the boldest changes as it summarily suspended the application of almost all labour laws in the state for the next three years.
- These changes are being brought about to incentivise economic activity in the respective states.
- Labour falls in the Concurrent List and there are many laws enacted by the Centre that a state cannot just brush aside.
What are Indian labour laws?
- There are over 200 state laws and close to 50 central laws and yet there is no set definition of “labour laws” in the country.
- Broadly they can be divided into four categories mentioned in Chart 1.
- The main objectives of the Factories Act is to ensure safety measures on factory premises, and promote health and welfare of workers.
- The Shops and Commercial Establishments Act aims to regulate hours of work, payment, overtime, weekly day off with pay, other holidays with pay, annual leave, employment of children and young persons, and employment of women.
- The Minimum Wages Act covers more workers than any other labour legislation.
- The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 relates to terms of service such as layoff, retrenchment, and closure of industrial enterprises and strikes and lockouts.
Why are labour laws often criticised?
- Indian labour laws are often characterised as “inflexible”.
- Due to the onerous legal requirements, firms dither from hiring new workers because firing them requires government approvals.
- Even the organised sector is increasingly employing workers without formal contracts.
- This has constrained the growth of firms on the one hand and provided a raw deal to workers on the other.
- Further, there are too many laws and often unnecessarily complicated, and not effectively implemented.
What is proposed by states like UP?
- UP has summarily suspended almost all labour laws including the Minimum Wages Act.
- Critics point out that the removal of all labour laws will not only strip the labour of its basic rights but also drive down wages.
- Moreover, far from pushing for a greater formalisation of the workforce, this move will in one go turn the existing formal workers into informal workers as they would not get any social security.
- Instead of creating exploitative conditions for the workers, the government should have partnered with the industry and allocated 3% or 5% of the GDP towards sharing the wage burden and ensuring the health of the labourers.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Sal forest tortoise
A recent study by WII has found that the area designated as a protected area network for Sal forest tortoise has only a small overlap with its actual habitat.
- A recent study by ecologists in the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun finds that the area designated as a protected area network for Sal forest tortoises has only a small overlap with the actual habitat it roams around in.
- Over 90% of the potential distribution of the species falls outside the current protected area’s network.
- Also in northeast India, the representation of the species in protected areas is least, and there is little to no connectivity among most of the protected areas where the species is present.
- The study also found that 29% of the predicted distribution of the species falls within high occurrence fire zones or areas where there is management burning.
About the species:
- The Sal forest tortoise or Elongated Yellow Tortoise are widely distributed over eastern and northern India and Southeast Asia.
- The species is heavily hunted for food and collected for local use such as decorative masks, and international wildlife trade.
- They are poached for a mixture made by grinding up the tortoise’s shell which serves as an aphrodisiac.
IUCN status: Critically Endangered[Ref: The Hindu]
World Migratory Bird Day 2020
The World Migratory Bird Day 2020 was observed on 9th May 2020.
- The World Migratory Bird Day is celebrated by a collaborative partnership between two UN treaties – the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the African Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) – and the Colorado-based non-profit organisation Environment for the Americas (EFTA).
- World Migratory Bird Day has been celebrated since 2006 and is organized twice a year, on the second Saturday in May and in October.
- ‘Birds Connect Our World’.
- This theme is meant to put focus on conservation and restoring the ecological balance, which are closely linked to the survival of migratory birds.
Threats to migratory species:
- Around Forty percent of all migratory birds are seeing their number in decline, with one in eight being threatened with global extinction.
- Major threats include habitat loss and degradation, collision with badly placed wind turbines and power lines, unsustainable harvesting and the illegal killing and taking of birds.
- Migratory birds have to fight against natural disasters such as cyclones and wildfires that often destroy their habitats.
Convention on Migratory Species (CMS):
- The CMS is an environmental treaty of the UN that provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats.
- The pact was signed in 1979 in Germany and is known as the Bonn Convention.
- It is an international agreement that aims to conserve migratory species within their migratory ranges.
- The Agreement was signed under the observation of the United Nations Environment Programme and is concerned with conservation of wildlife and habitats on a global scale.
- It brings together the States through which migratory animals pass or the Range States.
- It lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout a migratory range.
- Appendix I of the Convention lists ‘Threatened Migratory Species’.
- Appendix II lists ‘Migratory Species requiring international cooperation’.
- India has been a party to the CMS since 1983.
Defence & Security Issues
Online manual on identifying fake news
The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) has come out with a manual for identifying ‘fake news’ and communally sensitive posts from its website.
- The report, ‘Fake News & Disinformation: A Guide for LEAs – How to spot and investigate,’ is prepared by the Modernisation division of the think tank under the Union Home Ministry.
- The Centre’s police think-tank has come out with a 40-page manual to help investigators identify fake news, visuals and texts aimed at spreading communal violence, hatred or panic among the people.
- The step-by-step guide has been prepared for police officers to curb misinformation spread by digital news, which has brought back and increased the usage of fake news or yellow journalism.
- The manual warned that messages or website links one receives may contain hoaxes or fake news.
- Investigators should look for spelling mistakes in such reports as well as whether the headline supports the visuals or captions.
- The manual warned that photos, audio recordings, and videos can be edited to mislead the recipient and the investigators should look at ‘trusted news sources’ to verify whether the story is being reported elsewhere.
- The extensive spread of fake news has the potential to gravely impact individuals as well as society at large.
- Therefore, fake news detection in cyberspace has become an important issue for law enforcement agencies.
Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD):
- BPRD was set up on 28 August 1970 in furtherance of the objective of the Government of India for the modernisation of police forces.
- It works under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- It has evolved as a multifaceted, consultancy organisation.
- At present it has 4 divisions – Research, Development, Training and Correctional Administration
Science and Technology
National Technology Day
India is observing its 29th National Technology Day on 11 May 2020.
- The day was first observed on May 11, 1999 and aims to commemorate the scientific and technological achievements of Indian scientists and engineers.
- The celebration of Technology Day symbolizes India’s quest for scientific inquiry, technological creativity & innovations, and the integration of these developments into national socio-economic benefits and global presence.
- On May 11, 1998, India achieved a major technological breakthrough by successfully carrying out nuclear tests at Pokhran when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister.
- On this day India successfully fired the Shakti-I nuclear missile at an Army test range in Rajasthan’s Pokhran.
- The underground tests marked the country’s arrival on the world’s nuclear stage and set the scene for some impressive developments in its strategic programme.
- The day also marks the flight of indigenously developed Hansa-3 developed jointly by National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) lab.
- On the same day, that is, May 11, 1988, the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) completed the final test fire of the surface-to-air Trishul missile.
- Former Indian PM Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee coined this term to celebrate the contributions made by Indian scientists.
- Every year since 1999, the Technology Development Board (TBD) celebrates this day by awarding individuals for their scientific contributions to India.
The 480th birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap was observed on 9 May 2020.
- Mahara Pratap was the 13th Rajput king of Mewar, Rajasthan.
- He was born on May 9, 1540 to King Udai Singh II and Queen Jaiwanta Bai.
- He became the King of Mewar in 1572, after the death of Udai Singh.
- He breathed his last on January 19, 1597.
Battle of Haldighati:
- Maharana Pratap had to go to a battle against Mughal emperor Akbar, shortly after his coronation on 18 June 1576.
- Akbar had come to Mewar in order to chart out a route to Gujarat through the Rajput kingdom.
- The Maharana refused Akbar’s offer and went to battle against the Mughals.
- This led to the famous Battle of Haldighati.
- Mughal forces led by Man Singh I of Amber outnumbered the Rajput army in Haldighati.
- The Mughal army emerged victorious in battle, but they failed to capture Maharana Pratap who escaped to the hills.
- In spite of losing the battle of Haldighati, Pratap felt and was never captured by the Mughals, rendering their victory fruitless.
- In fact, none of the members of the Royal family was captured in the battle.
- The Rajput king later managed to recover several territories from the Mughals over the years.
- The majestic ruler died of injuries from a hunting accident.
- He breathed his last at the age of 56 in Chavand, Mewar on January 19, 1597.
Gopal Krishna Gokhale
The 154th birth anniversary of Gopal Krishna Gokhale was observed on 9 May 2020.
- Gopal Krishna Gokhale is one of the well-known political leaders during India’s fight for independence.
- Born on May 9, 1866, he was a social reformer, whose goals were to promote non-violence and reform within the existing government institutions.
- Gokhale was reportedly one of the first Indians to complete graduation.
- In 1884, after his graduation in arts at the Elphinstone College, Bombay, Gokhale moved to Pune to take up a teaching job at a school.
- Gokhale was among the most prominent faces in the Indian National Congress and a strong advocate for constitutional ways of struggle for gaining independence from the British rule.
- In 1889, he became a member of the Indian National Congress.
- He was also the secretary of the “Reception Committee” of the Poona session 1895 of the Indian National Congress.
- He led the moderate nationalists in the early years of the Indian independence movement.
- He played an important role until his election to the Imperial Legislative Council in 1902.
- He was the founder of the Servants of India Society (1905) whose members took vows of poverty and lifelong service to the underprivileged.
- He opposed the ill-treatment of untouchables, or low-caste Hindus, and also took up the cause of impoverished Indians living in South Africa.
- Mahatma Gandhi in his autobiography, had called Gokhale his mentor and guide.
Persons in News
The 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing, falls on May 12, 2020.
- Florence Nightingale (12 May 1820 – 13 August 1910) was an English social reformer, a statistician, and the founder of modern nursing.
- Nightingale came to prominence while serving as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War, in which she organised care for wounded soldiers.
- She gave nursing a favourable reputation and became an icon of Victorian culture, especially in the persona of “The Lady with the Lamp” making rounds of wounded soldiers at night.
- Nightingale collected data, calculated the mortality rate, and showed that an improvement of sanitary methods would reduce the number of deaths.
- In 1860, Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.
- It was the first secular nursing school in the world, and is now part of King’s College London.
- Her social reforms included improving healthcare for all sections of British society, advocating better hunger relief in India, helping to abolish prostitution laws and expanding the acceptable forms of female participation in the workforce.
- In recognition of her pioneering work in nursing, the Nightingale Pledge is taken by new nurses.
- The Florence Nightingale Medal, the highest international distinction a nurse can achieve, was named in her honour.
- The annual International Nurses Day is celebrated on her birthday on 12 May.
- The year 2020 has been designated as the “Year of the Nurse and the Midwife” by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Also in News
The Stringency Index
The Stringency Index created by the University of Oxford has found that India has one of the strongest lockdown measures in the world since March 22.
What is the Stringency Index?
- It is among the metrics being used by the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker.
- The Tracker involves a team of 100 Oxford community members who have continuously updated a database of 17 indicators of government response.
- These indicators examine containment policies such as school and workplace closings, public events, public transport, stay-at-home policies.
- The Stringency Index is a number from 0 to 100 that reflects these indicators.
- A higher index score indicates a higher level of stringency.
What does the Stringency Index tell us?
- Oxford provides an overlay of countries’ death curve and their stringency score.
- Some countries saw their deaths just begin to flatten as they reached their highest stringency, such as Italy, Spain, or France.
- As China pulled stronger measures, its death curve plateaued.
- In countries such as the UK, the US, and India, the graphs find that the death curve has not flattened after strictest measures were enforced.
Where does India stand?
- India called its strict lockdown at a much earlier point on its case and death curves.
- These 18 other countries had more than 500 cases when they called their strictest lockdown, while India had 320.
- India has scored 100 points on the index.
- Other countries with a 100 score are Honduras, Argentina, Jordan, Libya, Sri Lanka, Serbia, and Rwanda.
Key Facts for Prelims
COVID KAVACH ELISA
- Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-National Institute of Virology (NIV) at Pune has developed and validated the indigenous ELISA test “COVID KAVACH ELISA” for antibody detection for COVID-19.
- NIV’s competent scientific team successfully isolated the SARS-CoV-2 virus from laboratory confirmed patients in India.
- This in turn has paved the way for development of indigenous diagnostics for SARS-CoV-2.
- While real time RT-PCR is the frontline test for clinical diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2, robust antibody tests are critical for surveillance to understand the proportion of population exposed to infection.
- The test will have the advantage of testing 90 samples together in a single run of 2.5 hours.
- ELISA kit has inactivated virus and there are also minimal biosafety and biosecurity requirements as compared to the real-time RT-PCR test.
- The test has an advantage of having much higher sensitivity and specificity as compared to the several rapid test kits.