Issues Related to health
- The nutrition fallout of school closures
- States asked to submit suggestion for changes in IPC
- The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018
Criminalization of politics
- Special Courts to try MPs, MLAs
Bilateral, Regional and global groupings
- Manufacturing grows fastest since 2007
- Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme
Science and Technology
- 50TH Anniversary of DST
- Secure Application for Internet
Environment and Bio-Diversity
- Olive Ridley Turtles
General Studies- 1
World Physical Geography
- Aegean Sea
1) The nutrition fallout of school closures:
How many children went hungry during lockdown?
- As many as 116 million children actually, 116 million hungry children – is the number of children we are looking at when we consider the indefinite school closure in India.
- The largest school-feeding programme in the world that has undoubtedly played an extremely significant role in increasing nutrition and learning among school going children, has been one of the casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The flagship report of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020, released by the Food and Agriculture Organization in partnership with other UN organisations, painted a worrying picture, including the impact of COVID-19 on closure of schools and school meals.
- A real-time monitoring tool estimated that as of April 2020, the peak of school closures, 369 million children globally were losing out on school meals, a bulk of whom were in India.
- The recent Global Hunger Index (GHI) report for 2020, ranks India at 94 out of 107 countries and in the category ‘serious’, behind our neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
- The index is a combination of indicators of under nutrition in the population and wasting (low weight for height), stunting (low height for age), and mortality in children below five years of age.
What is the status of food insecurity in India?
- We are already far out in terms of achieving the ‘Zero Hunger’ goal, and in the absence of urgent measures to address the problem both through necessary administrative measures and their effective delivery, the situation will only worsen.
- To place the urgency in context, a report by the International Labour Organization and the UNICEF, on COVID-19 and child labour, cautions that unless school services and social security are universally strengthened, there is a risk that some children may not even return to schools when they reopen.
- A mid-day meal in India should provide 450 Kcal of energy, a minimum of 12 grams of proteins, including adequate quantities of micronutrients like iron, folic acid, Vitamin-A, etc., according to the mid-day meal scheme (MDMS) guidelines, 2006.
- This is approximately one-third of the nutritional requirement of the child, with all school-going children from classes I to VIII in government and government-aided schools being eligible.
- However, many research reports, and even the Joint Review Mission of MDMS, 2015-16 noted that many children reach school on an empty stomach, making the school’s mid-day meal a major source of nutrition for children, particularly those from vulnerable communities.
What is the issue of food insecurity in India?
- In orders in March and April 2020, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and closure of schools, the Government of India announced that the usual hot-cooked mid-day meal or an equivalent food security allowance/dry ration would be provided to all eligible school-going children even during vacation, to ensure that their immunity and nutrition is not compromised.
- Nearly three months into this decision, States were still struggling to implement this.
- There were 23 States and Union Territories that reported a decline in the grain off take from FCI in April-May 2020, compared with corresponding months in 2019.
- Data and media reports indicate that dry ration distributions in lieu of school meals are irregular.
- Further, since the distribution of dry ration started only in late May, a few experts immediate distribution of the April quota, to which the children are entitled.
- The other worrying angle to the lack of school meals and functioning schools is the fact that there are reports of children engaging in labour to supplement the fall in family incomes in vulnerable households.
- In July this year, the Madras High Court also took cognisance of the issue and asked the Tamil Nadu government to respond on the subject of how, with schools closed, the nutritional needs of children were being fulfilled.
- While many State governments have now initiated dry rations provisioning lieu of school meals, there are still challenges for this to be fulfill in ensuring last-mile delivery.
- Ensuring functioning of MDMS during the pandemic period, where children are under threat of nutrition and food insecurity, must be high priority.
- Serving hot meals, at the children’s homes or even at the center, may have challenges in the present scenario.
- Even States like Tamil Nadu, with a relatively good infrastructure for the MDMS, are unable to serve the mandated ‘hot cooked meal’ during the lockdown for multiple reasons.
What are the innovative strategies?
- Local smallholder farmers’ involvement in school feeding is suggested by experts
- He suggests a livelihood model that links local smallholder farmers with the mid-day meal system for the supply of cereals, vegetables, and eggs, while meeting protein and hidden hunger needs, which could diversify production and farming systems, transform rural livelihoods and the local economy, and fulfill the ‘Atmanirbhar Poshan’ (nutritional self-sufficiency) agenda.
- There are also new initiatives such as the School Nutrition (Kitchen) Garden under MDMS to provide fresh vegetables for mid-day meals.
- Besides ensuring these are functional, what can be done, in addition, is provide hot meals can be provided to eligible children with a plan to prepare and distribute the meal in the school mid-day meal Centre.
- This is similar to free urban canteens or community kitchens for the elderly and others in distress in States like Odisha.
- Also, adequate awareness about of the availability of the scheme is needed.
- Thirdly, locally produced vegetables and fruits may be added to the MDMS, also providing an income to local farmers.
- Besides, distribution of eggs where feasible (and where a State provision is already there) can be carried out.
2) States to submit suggestion for changes in IPC:
Why in news?
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy said on Monday that States have been asked for their suggestions to amend the British era Indian Penal Code (IPC).
- Centre was prepared to make laws and create infrastructure to make women safe.
- India has a rich culture and heritage. We have a culture of respecting women. We celebrate the power of women as Shakthi, the all-powerful.
Government has amended criminal laws from time-to-time and enacted The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018, to prescribe more stringent penal provisions for convicts.
- “The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 provides amongst many other provisions, the death penalty for rape or gang rape of a girl less than 12 years, no anticipatory bail for such crime, completion of investigation in two months, and trials to be completed in two months.
- Ministry is supporting States and Union Territories in setting up and strengthening woman help desks in police stations and strengthening Anti Human Trafficking Units in all districts.
- “The National Database on Sexual Offenders is used by police officers to identify repeat offenders, and receive alerts on sex offenders, as also in the investigation.
- Police can also use this data for verification requests from various employers for their employees working in vulnerable areas, like educational institutions, hotels, public transportation.
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018
- The Bill amends the IPC, 1860 to increase the minimum punishment for rape of women from seven years to ten years.
- Rape and gang rape of girls below the age of 12 years will carry minimum imprisonment of twenty years and is extendable to life imprisonment or death.
- Rape of girls below the age of 16 years is punishable with imprisonment of twenty years or life imprisonment.
- The Bill amends the IPC, 1860 to increase the punishment for rape of girls.
- However, punishment for rape of boys has remained unchanged.
- This has resulted in greater difference in the quantum of punishment for rape of minor boys and girls.
- The Bill imposes death penalty for rape of girls below the age of 12 years.
- There are differing views on death penalty for rape.
- Some argue that death penalty has a deterrence effect on the crime and therefore helps prevent it.
- Others argue that death penalty would be disproportionate punishment for rape.
Highlights of the bill
- Rape of women and minor children is an offence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
- Over the last year, several states have introduced or passed Bills to allow death penalty for rape of girls below the age of 12 years.
- On April 21, 2018, the government promulgated the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018.
- The Ordinance amends the IPC, 1860, POCSO Act, 2012 and other laws related to rape of women.
- The POCSO, Act states that the punishment which is higher between the POCSO Act and the IPC will apply to rape of minors.
3) Special Courts to try MPs, MLAs:
Why in news?
- A three-judge committee of the Madras High Court has questioned the constitutional validity of setting up Special Courts to exclusively try MPs and MLAs for various crimes.
- It said the Special Courts should be “offence-centric” and not “offender-centric.”
- An MP/MLA, who commits an offence under the POCSO Act [or other Special Acts like Prevention of Corruption Act, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act] can only be tried by a Special Court created under the POCSO Act [PC Act, NDPS Act] and there cannot be another Special Court exclusively for trial of an MP/MLA, who commits POCSO offence,” the Madras High Court Committee report reasoned.
Robust structure of courts:
- The committee raised strong reservations against setting up Special Courts in Tamil Nadu.
- “The existing court structure in Tamil Nadu, which is robust, is more than enough to deal with the cases involving MPs and MLAs,” the committee said.
- It urged the Madras High Court Chief Justice to bring this “fact” to the notice of the Supreme Court to get an “exemption from establishing Special Courts for trial of cases involving MPs and MLAs.”
- “The committee pointed to how witnesses, probably in Kanyakumari, have to travel 700 km to Chennai to testify at the Special Court there.
- “None thought about their safety,” the committee pointed out.
- It questioned how one Special Court could cover the cases across 32 districts of Tamil Nadu.
4) Manufacturing grows fastest since 2007:
Why in news?
- India’s manufacturing sector activity improved for the third straight month in October with companies raising output to the greatest extent in 13 years amid robust sales growth, a monthly survey indicated on Monday.
- The headline seasonally adjusted IHS Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose from 56.8 in September to 58.9 in October, and pointed to the strongest improvement in the health of the sector in more than a decade.
- In April, the index had slipped into contraction mode, after remaining in growth territory for 32 consecutive months.
- In PMI parlance, a print above 50 means expansion, while a score below that denotes contraction.
- Levels of new orders and output at Indian manufacturers continued to recover from the COVID-19 induced contractions seen earlier in the year.
Resurgence will sustain
- Companies were convinced that the resurgence in sales will be sustained in coming months, as indicated by a strong upturn in input buying amid restocking efforts.
- Manufacturers indicated that the ongoing relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, better market conditions and improved demand helped them to secure new work
- On the employment front, the compliance with government guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic caused a further reduction in employment.
- The fall was the seventh in consecutive months.
- There was disappointing news on the employment front though, with October seeing another reduction in payroll numbers.
What is the Purchasing Managers Index?
- The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is an index of the prevailing direction of economic trends in the manufacturing and service sectors.
- It consists of a diffusion index that summarizes whether market conditions, as viewed by purchasing managers, are expanding, staying the same, or contracting.
- The purpose of the PMI is to provide information about current and future business conditions to company decision makers, analysts, and investors.
Why in news?
- The 24th edition of the MALABAR naval exercise is scheduled in two phases in November 2020. Phase 1 of the Exercise MALABAR 20 involving participation by Indian Navy (IN), United States Navy (USN), Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF), and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is set to commence off Visakhapatnam in Bay of Bengal from 03 to 06 November 2020.
- MALABAR series of maritime exercises commenced in 1992 as a bilateral IN-USN exercise.
- JMSDF joined MALABAR in 2015.
- The 2020 edition will now witness participation of the RAN in this joint maritime exercise.
- Phase 2 of MALABAR 20 is scheduled to be conducted in the Arabian Sea in mid-November 2020.
6) Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme:
Why in news?
- The Union Government has extended the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) by one month till November 30th, 2020, or till such time that an amount of Rs. 3 lakh crore is sanctioned under the Scheme, whichever is earlier, in view of the opening up of various sectors in the economy and the expected increase in demand during the ongoing festive season.
- This extension will provide a further opportunity to such borrowers who have not availed of the Scheme so far, to obtain credit under the Scheme.
- The ECLGS was announced as part of the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Package (ANBP) to provide fully guaranteed and collateral free additional credit to MSMEs, business enterprises, individual loans for business purposes and MUDRA borrowers, to the extent of 20 per cent of their credit outstanding as on
- Borrowers with credit outstanding up to Rs. 50 crore as on 29.2.2020, and with an annual turnover of up to Rs. 250 crore are eligible under the Scheme.
- Interest rates under the Scheme are capped at 9.25 per cent for Banks and FIs, and 14 per cent for NBFCs.
- Tenor of loans provided under the Scheme is four years, including a moratorium of one year on principle repayment.
7) 50TH Anniversary of DST:
Department of Science & Technology is celebrating its 50th anniversary from May 03, 2020 to May 03, 2021.
- The Department has planned several events to commemorate the Golden Jubilee year.
- DST was established in May 1971, with the objective of promoting new areas of Science & Technology and to function as a nodal department for organising, coordinating and promoting S&T activities in the country.
Major responsibilities for formulation of policies relating to Science & Technology
- Dealing with matters relating to the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Cabinet (SACC)
- Promotion of S&T and its application at all levels for overall development and security of the nation;
- Support and Grants-in-aid to Scientific Research Institutions, Scientific Associations and Bodies, to name a few.
- The Department has wide ranging activities ranging from promoting high-end basic research and development of cutting-edge technologies on one hand to catering to technological requirements of the common man through development of appropriate skills and technologies on the other.
8) Secure Application for Internet:
Why in news?
- Application launched by Indian Army
Why was the app developed?
- There have been concerns about the use of commercial mobile applications by army officials for communicating with each other as it may compromise security.
What is it?
- It is a simple and secure messaging application that supports end to end voice, text and video calls on android mobiles.
- App facilitates secure messaging within the service
9) Aegean Sea:
Why in news?
- Recently a strong earthquake of magnitude 7.0 strikes Aegean Sea, shaking Turkey and Greece
- Located between the Greek Peninsula on the west and Asia Minor on the east.
- The Aegean is connected through the straits of the Dardanelles and the Sea of Marmara, to the Black Sea, while the island of Crete can be taken as marking its boundary on the south.
- It is positioned between Greece and Turkey and includes
10) Olive Ridley Turtles
Why in news?
- The Odisha government has requested the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), to conduct a fresh study for identifying the movement of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles, which would help the state renew its conservation efforts along its coast
Olive Ridley Turtles:
- Also called Pacific Ridley
- Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans
- Migrates 1000’s of kilometers between feeding and mating grounds in course of year
- Mass nesting, 1000’s of females come together on same beach to lay eggs
- Coast of Odisha, is largest mass nesting site, followed by coasts of Mexico and Costa Rica