Polity & Governance
- #SheInspiresUs Campaign
- Organisations cannot be branded ‘political’ for aiding a public cause
Government Schemes & Policies
- Initiatives for women in Science
Issues related to Health & Education
- Demand for grants for school education report 2020-2021
- Kyasanur Forest Disease
- 43rd Annual Day of NIHFW
- Gender Social Norms Index
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Red Panda
- Warli Adivasi revolt
Key Facts for Prelims
- International Women’s Day
- How wounded plants heal and survive?
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Polity & Governance
Prime Minister Modi marked International Women’s Day (8th March) by handing over control of his social media accounts to seven women achievers who spoke about the issues and causes close to their heart.
- The following were the attractions of the initiative:
Namda Traditional Art:
- The story of Arifa from Jammu and Kashmir, who has revived the traditional Namda craft of carpet weaving, was shared through PM Modi’s social media handles under the theme, #SheInspiresUs.
- Namda is a form of matting and find most of their use in the form of traditional matting, spread on the floor to adorn homes.
- It is also used as bed covers and mattresses.
- Namda making is a rare and unique craft wherein splendid floor pieces are made from wool by practice of felting the wool rather than weaving it.
- Namda derives its name from a man Nubi, who conceived the idea of felted carpets made in wool, hence the name Namda.
- The art of Namda making was brought to Kashmir by the Sufi saint, Shah- e- Hamdan, who came with the generous mission of bringing livelihood to the local Kashmiris.
- Namda making continues to form the livelihood of a significant percentage of the people of Kashmir even to this day.
- PM Modi shared a story of Maharashtra’s Beed district’s Banjara community woman entrepreneur Vijaya Pawar.
- Vijaya narrated her story and familiarized the world with Gormati art.
- She showcased how she encouraged thousands of women artisans working with 90 self-help groups (SHGs) under her guidance.
About Banjara Community:
- Banjara, who are also known by numerous other names – such as Laman, Lambadi, and Banjari – are a Nomadic Tribe, who may have origins from Marwar region of what is now Rajasthan, northern India.
- The word Banjara is derived from the Sanskrit word vana chara (wanderers in jungle).
- They traditionally speak Banjaras Gor Boli or Lambadi.
- They are now found mostly in the south Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana but also elsewhere in the country.
- It is the world largest community with more over 12 crore population.
- Maharashtra-more than 1 crore, Madhya Pradesh-7 million, Karnataka-5 million, Telangana-3 to 4 million, Rajasthan-3.5 million.
- The 27-year-old resident of Chennai Sneha Mohandoss, who founded Foodbank India, was among women from across the country who took over the Prime Minister’s social media profiles as part of the #SheInspiresUs campaign to mark the International Women’s Day.
- Founded in 2015, Foodbank India is an NGO which works towards eradicating hunger among the homeless.
- They organise mass cooking and food donation drives and urge people to donate excess food at events, such as weddings, to ensure that there is no wastage.
Organisations cannot be branded ‘political’ for aiding a public cause
As per the latest ruling of the Supreme Court, the centre can’t brand an organisation as ‘political’ for aiding a public cause and it can’t be deprived of foreign funds for using legitimate forms of dissent.
What is the issue?
- INSAF had also challenged the various clauses of Rule 3 of the 2011 Rules. This provision identified the various types of ‘political’ activities for which/organisations whose foreign funding could be stopped by the government.
- Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, for INSAF, had argued that the FCRA and its Rules allowed the government to indulge in its whims and fancies to deprive organisations of their foreign contributions.
- He said the terms used in the statute like ‘political objectives’, ‘political activities’, ‘political interests’ and ‘political action’ had no clarity.
What is the ruling?
- The Supreme Court held that the Central government cannot brand an organisation ‘political’ and deprive it of its right to receive foreign funds for using “legitimate forms of dissent” like bandh, hartal, road roko or jail bharo to aid a public cause.
- Any organisation which supports the cause of a group of citizens agitating for their rights without a political goal or objective cannot be penalized by being declared as an organisation of a political nature.
- But the foreign funding pipeline could be cut if an organisation took recourse to these forms of protest to score a political goal.
- It struck a similar balance in the cases of organisations of farmers, workers, students, youth based on caste, community, religion, language, etc.
- It said their foreign funding could continue as long as these organisations worked for the “social and political welfare of society” and not to further “political interests”.
- However, the court wholesomely agreed that organisations with “avowed political objectives in its memorandum of association or bye laws” cannot be permitted access to foreign funds. Such organisations were clearly of a political nature.
- The verdict came on a petition filed by Indian Social Action Forum challenging certain provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010 and the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules of 2011, both of which confer the Centre with “unguided and uncanalised power” to brand organisations ‘political’ and shut down their access to foreign funds.
- The FCRA 2010 prohibited acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to the national interest.
Why this move?
- The purpose for which the statute prevents organisations of a political nature from receiving foreign funds is to ensure that the administration is not influenced by foreign funds.
- Prohibition from receiving foreign aid, either directly or indirectly, by those who are involved in active politics is to ensure that the values of a sovereign democratic republic are protected.
[Ref: The Hindu]
Government Schemes & Policies
Initiatives for women in Science
Department of Science and Technology has started several pioneering initiatives for promoting women in science.
- The Indo-U.S. Fellowship for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (WISTEMM) program of Department of Science and Technology (DST) in association with Indo-U.S. Science & Technology Forum (IUSSTF) have provided international exposure to several women scientists.
- WISTEMM aims to provide opportunities to Indian Women Scientists, Engineers & Technologists to undertake international collaborative research in premier institutions in U.S.A, to enhance their research capacities and capabilities.
- The programme is run for two categories of women scientists— Women Overseas Student Internship (Module I) for women students pursuing PhD, and Women Overseas Fellowship (Module II) for women with PhD degree and holding regular position at any recognized institution/laboratory in India.
- The fellowship is for bright Indian Women Citizen within the age bracket of 21 to 45 years. Such abroad age criteria not only cater to those who are currently pursuing research but also to those outstanding women researchers who would want to return after having taken a break onto their research path.
- The funding support extended under the program includes stipend, airfare, health insurance, contingency and conference allowances.
- In the year 2014, DST restructured all women specific programmes under one umbrella called Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN).
- The mandate of KIRAN Program is to bring gender parity in Science & Technology through gender mainstreaming.
- Providing avenues to women scientists and technologists for capacity building, knowledge and skill enhancement at global level is another objective achieved through its international component called ‘International Fellowship for Women in Science’.
- The scheme encompasses women-exclusive schemes and encourages them to foster their career by not only undertaking research in Science and Technology (S&T) but also focusing on S&T solutions of issues & challenges at the grassroots level for social benefits.
- Women Scientist Scheme (WOS) addresses challenges faced by S&T qualified women primarily due to social responsibilities.
- Its two components WOS-A and WOS-B are directly implemented by KIRAN Division and the third component WOS-C or KIRAN-IPR is implemented by TIFAC with grant-in-aid from DST.
- The aim of the program is to provide opportunities to Indian Women Scientists, Engineers and Technologists to undertake collaborative research and gain exposure to excellent research facilities at international level.
Department of Science and Technology:
- The DST is a department within the Ministry of Science and Technology in India.
- It was established in May 1971 to promote new areas of science and technology and to play the role of a nodal department for organising, coordinating and promoting Scientific and Technological activities in the country.
- It gives funds to various approved scientific projects in India.
- It also supports various researchers in India to attend conferences abroad and to go for experimental works.
Issues related to Health & Education
Demand for grants for school education report 2020-2021
According to a parliamentary panel on education, almost half of government schools in the country don’t have any electricity or playgrounds, and had shortfalls in both budgetary funding and utilisation, resulting in critical infrastructure gaps.
Highlights of the report:
- In its report on the 2020-2021 demand for grants for school education submitted to the Rajya Sabha last week, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development (HRD) expressed concern that budgetary allocations saw a 27% cut from proposals made by the School Education department.
- Despite proposals for ₹82,570 crores, only ₹59,845 crores were allocated.
- Noting similar 27% reductions for the Central and Centrally Sponsored Schemes as well, the panel recommended that these core schemes get additional funds at the revised estimates stage.
- There were stark deficits in government school infrastructure, citing the latest survey data.
- Only 56% of schools have electricity, with the lowest rates in Manipur and Madhya Pradesh, where less than 20% have access to power.
- Less than 57% of schools have playgrounds, including less than 30% of schools in Odisha and Jammu and Kashmir, according to the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) 2017-18 survey.
- Almost 40% of schools did not have a boundary wall, endangering the safety of students and school property.
- The panel recommended that the HRD Ministry collaborate with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to construct boundary walls, and work with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to provide solar energy and other renewable energy sources so that schools have access to power.
- The parliamentary panel also slammed the government for its “dismal” rate of progress in building classrooms, labs and libraries to strengthen government higher secondary schools.
- Out of 2,613 sanctioned projects for 2019-20, only three had been completed in the first nine months of the financial year.
- In government higher secondary schools, not a single additional classroom had been built by December 31, 2019, although 1,021 had been sanctioned for the financial year 2019-20.
- Only three laboratories had been built — one each for physics, chemistry and biology — despite sanctioned funds for 1,343 labs.
- Although 135 libraries and 74 art/craft/culture rooms had been sanctioned, none had been built with just three months left in the financial year.
- The record is better at secondary schools, where 70-75% of such facilities had been finished by December, although less than 5% of the facilities aimed at disabled students — ramps and special toilets — had been completed.
- At primary schools, there was a 90-95% record of infrastructure completion.
- Overall, for the core Samagra Shiksha Scheme, the department had only spent 71% of revised estimates by December 31, 2019.
- The delay in completion of infrastructure not only leads to students getting alienated from the government schools but also leads to cost overruns and cause an additional strain on the financial resources of the country.
[Ref: The Hindu]
Kyasanur Forest Disease
Karnataka’s Chief Minister has told that the proposed research centre on Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) would be established in Sagar city. The State government has already allocated ₹15 crores for establishing the centre, which will take up study and research on tackling KFD.
Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD):
- Kyasanur forest disease (KFD) is a tick-borne viral hemorrhagic fever endemic to South India.
- The disease is caused by a virus belonging to the family Flaviviridae, which also includes yellow fever and dengue fever, which are transmitted by monkeys.
- The disease was first reported from Kyasanur Forest of Karnataka in India in March 1957.
- The disease first manifested as an epizootic outbreak among monkeys, killing several of them in the year 1957.
- Hence the disease is also locally known as “monkey disease” or “monkey fever”.
- The disease has a fatality rate of 3-10%, and it affects 400-500 people annually.
Signs and symptoms:
- The symptoms of the disease include a high fever with frontal headaches, followed by hemorrhagic symptoms, such as bleeding from the nasal cavity, throat, and gums, as well as gastrointestinal bleeding.
- Other symptoms include vomiting, muscle stiffness, tremors, absent reflexes, and mental disturbances.
- Muscle aches and weakness also occur during this period and the affected person is unable to engage in physical activities.
Mode of transmission:
- KFDV is transmitted by an infected tick, especially nymphal stage ticks. The wild monkeys get the disease through the bites of infected ticks.
- Humans can get the disease form an infected tick bite or by contact with an infected animal, such as sick or recently dead monkey.
43rd Annual Day of NIHFW
Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan presided over the 43rd Annual Day the National Institute of Health & Family Welfare (NIHFW).
Highlights of the event:
- The role of Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres in countering public health challenges through focus on preventive and positive health was emphasized.
- Public health is being strengthened through Ayushman Bharat – Health & Wellness Centres, with screening for BP, diabetes, three types of cancers, leprosy etc.
- There is a need for enhanced focus on preventive health with the dual burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, which has been prioritized in the National Health Policy 2017.
- Synergy between organizations is needed to avoid duplication of efforts especially for organizations in public health.
- This is the right time for everyone to put efforts into micro-diagnosis, such as a final push for reduction in MMR, IMR, U5MR.
- To achieve this objective, fine tuning of our strategy as well as rethinking of health policies is needed.
- A new approach needs to be taken and Research & Training organisations and public health institutions have to take a lead role.
National Institute of Health & Family Welfare:
- The National Institute of Health & Family Welfare (NIHFW) is situated in Delhi and was established in 1977.
- NIHFW is the premier organisation for capacity building through training of health professionals, frontline health workers such as ASHAs and ANMs and other central and state officers & healthcare staff.
- The NIHFW is an autonomous organization, under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, acts as an ‘apex technical institute’ as well as a ‘think tank’ for the promotion of health and family welfare programmes in the country.
Gender Social Norms Index
United nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s Gender Social Norms Index, covering 80% of the world population in 75 countries offers insights to the gender inequality worldwide and in India.
Highlights of the report:
- According to UNDP’s Gender Social Norms Index– 86% & 90% of women and men, respectively, held some sort of bias against women (2018) in India.
- About half the world’s population feel men make better political leaders.
- Over 40% feel that men make better business executives and that men have more right to a job when jobs are scarce.
- 24% of parliamentary seats worldwide are held by women, and there are only 10 female heads of government out of a possible 193.
- Less than 6% of CEOs in S&P 500 companies are women; while women work more hours than men, this work is more likely to be unpaid care work.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
A per a new study by wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, the iconic Red Panda has fewer hunters because the younger generations of people across its Himalayan habitat are losing interest in animal products.
About Red Panda:
- The red panda is a mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China.
- Red Panda found in Sikkim, western Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling district of West Bengal and parts of Meghalaya.
- It is also the state animal of Sikkim.
- World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) India has been working since 2005 in the eastern Himalayan region for the conservation of this species.
- An estimated 14,500 Red pandas are left in the wild across Nepal, Bhutan, India, China and Myanmar.
- About 5,000-6,000 red pandas are estimated to be present in four Indian states – Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim and West Bengal. This is the second-largest population after China (6,000-7,000).
- Red pandas have been reported from 11 districts of Arunachal Pradesh, which is presumed to hold the largest red panda population in the country.
- The three major national parks which are well known for the red panda population are the Khangchendzonga National Park, Neora Valley National Park and the Singalila National Park.
- IUCN: Endangered
- Protection: Listed under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Warli Adivasi revolt
- The Warli Adivasi revolt began in Zari village, Talasari taluka, Maharashtra in 1945.
- The revolt was to mark protest against the exploitation from the landlords and money-lenders.
- The revolt saw nearly 5,000 indentured tribals, who gathered and refused to work on landlords’ fields until they received 12 annas a day in wages.
- The resistance sowed the first seeds of rights-based movements among the region’s indigenous communities.
- Besides the men, the women played an important role in the revolt.
- The Warlis or Varlis are an indigenous tribe or Adivasis, living in mountainous as well as coastal areas of India (Maharashtra & Gujarat) border and surrounding areas.
- They have their own animistic beliefs, life, customs and traditions, as a result of acculturation they have adopted many Hindu beliefs.
- The Warlis speak an unwritten Varli language which belong to the southern zone of the Indo-Aryan languages.
- They have rich art work, culture, poetry and music that is world famous but now is under threat.
- The Warli were traditionally semi-nomadic. However, recent demographic changes have transformed the Warli today into mainly agriculturists.
Key Facts for Prelims
International Women’s Day
March 8 is celebrated as International Women’s Day around the globe, a day dedicated to celebrating womanhood.
Why is it celebrated?
- It is a celebration of the social, economic and political achievements of women over the centuries and also a reminder that the world needs to continue championing women’s rights, female empowerment and gender equality.
- While crimes such as sexual harassment, gender inequality and patriarchy continue across societies around the world, much is being done by governing bodies and international organisations to change the narrative and sensitize the public.
When and how did it begin?
- The first National Woman’s Day was acknowledged in the US on 28 February 1909.
- It was catalyzed by the labour movement in 1908, which saw 15,000 female garment workers go on strike in New York City to protest against poor working conditions.
- Led by a Ukraine-born suffragist named Clara Lemlich, they demanded better pay, shorter working hours and improved working conditions.
- The following year, The Socialist Party of America declared the first National Women’s Day in honour of the workers.
- National Woman’s Day became recognised as an international celebration in 1910 after German women’s rights activist Clara Zetkin made the suggestion at an International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, Denmark.
- There were 100 women from 17 different countries in attendance, and Zetkin’s idea was met with unanimous approval.
- It was first celebrated as an official international day on 19 March 1911.
- Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland were among the first countries outside of the US to mark the day.
When did it become recognised by the United Nations?
- The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day in 1975 during its International Women’s Year.
- This signified that the aims of the day — to advance the status of women worldwide and campaign for gender equality — had officially been recognised as a part of the organization’s commitment to championing human rights.
- In 1996, the UN began adopting an annual theme for International Women’s Day, the first of which was “Celebrating the past, Planning for the Future.”
- This year the theme for International Women’s Day 2020 is “an equal world is an enabled world.”
How wounded plants heal and survive?
A paper recently published shows that a protein named PLETHORA (PLT), which encodes stem cell promoting factors, helps in the regeneration of the vascular system at the site of injury of a plant.
- This protein binds to and activates the expression of another gene (CUC2).
- These two together increase the production of a plant growth hormone called auxin at the wound site.
- The combination of these proteins and hormones gives the plant the ability to repair wounds.
- To prevent decline in the area under paddy cultivation, the University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences (UAHS), Shivamogga in Karnataka has developed ‘Sahyadri Megha’, a new variety of paddy resistant to blast disease and rich in nutrients.