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Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (12th October)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you

1. #MeToo: Not without her consent

What is Sexual Harassment?

  • Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexually defined behaviour which can range from misbehaviour of an irritating nature to the most serious forms such as sexual abuse and assault, including rape.
  • The Sexual Harassment of Women (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 defines sexual harassment to include any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication) namely:
  1.  Physical contact and advances
  2. A demand or request for sexual favours
  3. Making sexually coloured remarks
  4.  Showing pornography
  5. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

What is sexual harassment at workplace?

Sexual harassment at the workplace is any unwelcome sexually defined behaviour which has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, abusive or offensive working environment.

The Sexual Harassment of Women (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 states that if the following circumstances  occur or are present in relation to, or connected with any act or behaviour of sexual harassment, it may amount to sexual harassment at the workplace:

  1. Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment in her employment; or
  2. Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in her employment; or

III.   Implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status; or

  1. Interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for her; or
  2. Humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety.

Taking a look at some important questions:

  • Can an aggrieved file a civil suit in a case of sexual harassment in the workplace?

Yes, a civil suit can be filed for damages under tort laws. The basis for filing the case would be mental anguish, physical harassment, loss of income and employment caused by the sexual harassment.

  1. Under what circumstances can complaints be filed?

Complaints may be filed under the following circumstances:

  • Cases involving individuals from the same organization
  • Cases that concern third party harassment, which implies harassment from an outsider.
  1. Where can I file a complaint?

Internal Complaints Committee – if you are an aggrieved woman who has a relationship of work with that specific organization

Local Complaints Committee – if you are an employee from an establishment where the Internal Complaints Committee has not been constituted due to having less than 10 workers. In the case that the complaint is against the employer himself/herself and the individual feels that the case may be compromised, she can also lodge the complaint in the LCC

o For instances where the LCC may not be immediately accessible, the Act instructs the District officer to designate one nodal officer in every block, taluka and tehsil in rural or tribal area and ward or municipality in the urban area, who will receive the complaint and forward it to the concerned LCC within 7 days.

Local police station, in case provisions under the Indian Penal Code are applicable.

An Indian Context:

  • India has signed and ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
  • In 1997 as part of the Vishaka judgment, the Supreme Court drew upon the CEDAW and laid down specific guidelines on the prevention of sexual harassment of women at the workplace.
  • The Vishaka guidelines defined sexual harassment and codified preventive measures and redressal mechanisms to be undertaken by employers.

Editorial Analysis:  

    • Actor Tanushree Dutta’s had made allegations, in an interview in end-September, of harassment at the hands of actor Nana Patekar on a film set a decade ago.
    • There has also been the recent development where at last count, Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar has been accused of sexual harassment by at least 10 women journalists. These accusations with respect to Nana Patekar fall in a large spectrum that range from inappropriate behaviour to acts of physical impropriety, while some date back to more than 15 years.
    • In the immediate aftermath of this development, women have been speaking of their experiences and the trauma, mostly on Twitter and Facebook.
  • The testimonies that have so far been expressed have mostly concerned the film world and the mainstream media, and cover both the workplace and private spaces.
  • These testimonies range from stories of assault to propositioning, suggestiveness to stalking.
  • Currently, in India, many questions arise. What is perhaps of even greater disquiet is that for so long an official silence was kept around what were, in many instances, open secrets.

Origins of the MeToo Movement:

  • The MeToo hashtag gained currency a year ago in the U.S.
  • In the U.S., women came out one after another to first corroborate allegations of sexual assault against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
  • There were many allegations levelled and each further account made it clear that there was a systemic pattern of abuse and silence.

A Note on the Due Process:

  • Experts believe that there has been an utter failure of due process.
  • Unfortunately, victims have written formal complaints and have also tried to get their organisations to act, but they have mostly found themselves facing a system that prefers to be complicit with the perpetrators.
  • A couple of cases further illustrate this:
  1. In the case of the former TERI chairman, R.K. Pachauri, for instance, despite the victim filing a police complaint and compelling the organisation to initiate an inquiry, he not only continued in TERI for another year but was publicly supported by the board members.
  2. There is another case of rape that one can sight against the former Editor of Tehelka, Tarun Tejpal. In spite of being a “fast track” case, five years on, it has only seen a series of adjournments, with no sign of justice on the horizon.

It is important to note that these events, when added to the daily news cycle of multiple rapes, stalking, and harassment from all across the country, have resulted in victims of sexual crimes entirely losing faith in the justice system.

Experts believe that the failure of due process is the success of #MeToo. After decades of witnessing the impunity of the perpetrators, #MeToo is fuelled by an impunity of sorts of the ‘victims’.

Certain areas that need clarity:

  • Currently, the floodgates have been opened and various kinds of stories are getting expose. These stories range from awkward flirting to physical assault.
  • One other factor that is dividing the discussion into two is the nature of consent.
  • It is important to note that what needs consent is often a function of society. For example, many aspects of intersexual behaviour especially in the workplace that were acceptable 30 years ago, needless to say, are not tolerated any more.
  • However, we observe that with the advent of smartphones and instant messaging, interpersonal behaviour and the definition of consent have undergone a major change in the last decade.
  • Thus, stemming from this, it is imperative at this point to understand that consent is not static, but needs to be continuous and incremental.

Concluding Remarks:

  • It is important to identify the exact transgression in the various cases that are being expressed, and to ensure that action is taken with due process.
  • Further, it is important to note that no one can be deemed guilty only because he had been named and any punishment must be proportionate to the misdemeanour.
  • It is also important to consider that many people, especially men, have raised concerns regarding false accusations. This remains valid, and there have been instances of this even in the last 10 days.
  • No movement is perfect, and all battles have a certain amount of collateral damage.
  • It is important that men be active allies in making the due process a fair and functional one in which all victims, including those of false allegations, can seek justice.
  • It is imperative now that the building of a new, fair system that delivers brisk justice, critical to everyone’s interests is initiated.
  • In conclusion, we should note that there has been a systemic disregard for making workplaces and common spaces free of harassment.
  • What is disturbing is that a thread that binds so many allegations now coming out is that many women thought that their words and feelings would be dismissed, their careers would suffer, or their families would pull them back into the safety of home.
  • It is this fear of making a complaint that needs to be overcome in all workspaces, not only the media and the film industry.
  • All of society needs to internalise a new normal that protects a woman’s autonomy and her freedom from discrimination at the workplace.

2. Remove encroachments from waterbodies: HC

  • The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday observed that unless encroachments were removed from waterbodies the State would not be able to save them.
  • A Division Bench of Justices T. Raja and Krishnan Ramasamy observed that waterbodies had to be saved for future generations. The court told the Collectors of Madurai, Dindigul, Sivaganga, Theni and Ramanathapuram, who were present on being summoned, that their presence was sought to seek their assistance to address the issue.
  • The High Court, which was hearing a slew of petitions seeking removal of encroachments from waterbodies in Madurai, also took cognizance of the similar situation in the other four districts. It observed that measures had to be initiated on a war footing to restore the waterbodies.

Related Concept – Sustainable Development

  • Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Thus, it takes into account both the present and future generations without over-exploitation of natural resources and environmental degradation.

Features of Sustainable Development:

  • Sustained Rise in Real per Capita Income
  • There should be a sustained rise in real per capita income and economic welfare on long-term basis.
  • Rational Use of Natural Resources
  • Sustainable development simply means that natural resources should be rationally used in a manner such that they are not overexploited.
  • Preserving the natural resources for future generations
  • Sustainable development aims at making use of natural resources and environment for raising the existing standard of living in such a way as not to reduce ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainable Development Goals

  • The documentary screened at the Rio+20 conference – “Future We Want” presented the idea of post 2015 development agenda.
  • Sustainable development Goals (SDGs) is an intergovernmental agreement formulated to act as post 2015 Development agenda, its predecessor being Millennium Development Goals.
  • It is a group of 17 goals with 169 targets and 304 indicators, as proposed by the United Nation General Assembly’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030. Post negotiations, agenda titled “Transforming Our World: the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development” was adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit. SDGs is the outcome of Rio+20 conference (2012) held in Rio De Janerio and is a non-binding document.

17 Sustainable Development Goals

  • SDG 1: No Poverty
  • SDG 2: Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4: Quality Education
  • SDG 5: Gender Equality
  • SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy
  • SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • SDG 10: Reduced inequalities
  • SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities
  • SDG 12: Responsible production and Consumption
  • SDG 13: Climate actions
  • SDG 14: Conserve life below water
  • SDG 15: Protect the life on land
  • SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
  • SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals

‘Save Ganga’ crusader Agarwal dead

  • G.D. Agarwal, 86, who was on a fast to save the Ganga, died following a heart attack on Thursday
  • Formerly a professor in the civil engineering department at IIT-Kanpur who had adopted the name Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, the environmentalist was vocal on disallowing hydroelectric projects in Uttarakhand along the Ganga.
  • In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June, he declared his intention to go on a fast as several of his demands had not been met.
  • Agarwal’s key demands included a special law to deal with pollution and encroachment on the Ganga, and maintaining the environmental flow of the river to prevent pollution.
  • He was subsisting on a diet of honey, lemon and water and, according to a senior official in the Water Ministry who was abreast of his activities, had given up water in the last week.

Related Concept –Namami Gange Project

  • Ministry/ Department: Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation
  • Objective: Started in 2015 aims to clean and protect the Ganga river in a comprehensive manner
  • Central government project (100% centrally funded)
  • It is also known as Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission project
  • It will cover 8 states & 12 rivers.
  • Ministries of Environment, Urban Development, Shipping, Tourism, Drinking Water and Sanitation & Rural Development are coordinating with Water Resource ministry in it.
  • Local people’s participation is envisaged in it.
  • Main components: Expanding waste/sewage treatment; River Front Development; River surface cleaning; Bio-diversity; Afforestation; Public awareness; Industrial affluent monitoring; Ganga Gram; Emphasises sustainable agriculture; Application of bio-remediation method /in-situ treatment to treat waste water in drains; Setting up Ganga Eco-Task Force.

Interventions taken under Namami Ganga includes,

  • Sustainable Municipal Sewage management (Coordination with Ministry of Urban Development).
  • Managing Sewage from Rural Areas.
  • Managing Industrial discharge and pollution abatement.
  • Enforcing River Regulatory Zones on Ganga Banks, Restoration and conservation of wetlands, efficient irrigation methods.
  • Ensuring ecological rejuvenation by conservation of aquatic life and biodiversity.
  • Promotion of Tourism and Shipping in a rational and sustainable manner.
  • Knowledge Management on Ganga through Ganga Knowledge Centre.

3. Nine killed as Titli batters AP, Odisha

  • The cyclonic storm ‘Titli’ that turned into “a very severe cylconic storm” before its landfall early on Thursday morning triggered intense rain and gales in parts of Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts of Andhra Pradesh.
  • In Odisha’s Ganjam district, six persons are missing after a house was washed away in flash floods.
  • Around 100 houses collapsed in Bhamini, Jalumuru, Kothuru, Narasannapeta, Palakonda, Polaki and other areas. Power supply to 4319 villages was affected.

Cyclones in India

  • Cyclones are caused by atmospheric disturbances around a low-pressure area distinguished by swift and often destructive air circulation.
  • Approximately 5700 km out of around 7516 kms of India’s coastline, its flat coastal terrain and high population density are extremely vulnerable to cyclones
  • Recurrent cyclones account for a large number of deaths, loss of livelihood opportunities, loss of public and private property, and severe damage to infrastructure.
  • Cyclones are associated with Strong Winds, Torrential rains and inland flooding and Storm Surge.
  • Indian coasts are highly vulnerable to tropical cyclones and the consequent recurrent loss of life and property.
  • Such weather events are a part of the climate system, and their impact in the form of economic losses could well be greater going forward, as development creates more assets in coastal cities.

Cyclone Disaster Management

  • Prepare communities to deal with disasters in a manner that people’s lives and properties are protected, and to ultimately become resilient.
  • Public awareness generation will serve to empower people with knowledge about the role and responsibilities of the state.
  • Targeting schools, colleges and all educational institutions is a very important part of awareness.
  • It has to be sustained through constant updating, upgrading and mock drills.
  • Awareness will also help in induction of the constantly evolving knowledge of science and technology as well as research and development applications.
  • To overcome the power cut it is important to have rooftop solar and battery storage systems as supplementary power sources for households and corporates.
  • Planting trees with strong root systems and pruning the canopy ahead of cyclone season could reduce uprooting.
  • The government should restore infrastructure and provide priority relief to the families of those who lost their lives, and the worst-hit communities.
  • Efficient use of technology and implementation of the Sendai framework is the need to the hour.
  • Collaboration with other countries in the region to strengthen the cooperation and efforts and to make a common fund for disaster management.
  • Construction of multipurpose cyclone shelters, access roads, saline embankments and underground.
  • By taking long and short term mitigation measures, the loss of life and property can be minimized.

4. World Bank’s Human Capital Index released

  • The World Bank released today a Human Capital Index (HCI) as part of the World Development Report 2019.

Key observations in HCI for India 

  • Human Capital Index: A child born in India today will be only 44 per cent as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health.
  • Probability of Survival to Age 5: 96 out of 100 children born in India survive to age 5.
  • Expected Years of School: In India, a child who starts school at age 4 can expect to complete 10.2 years of school by her 18th
  • Harmonized Test Scores: Students in India score 355 on a scale where 625 represents advanced attainment and 300 represents minimum attainment.
  • Learning-adjusted Years of School: Factoring in what children actually learn, expected years of school is only 5.8 years.
  • Adult Survival Rate: Across India, 83 per cent of 15-year olds will survive until age 60.
  • Healthy Growth (Not Stunted Rate): 62 out of 100 children are not stunted. 38 out of 100 children are stunted, and so at risk of cognitive and physical limitations that can last a lifetime.
  • Gender Differences: In India, HCI for girls is marginally higher than for boys.

However, India has decided to ignore the HCI owing to following factors:

(A) Discontent with the Methodology

  1. Education quality is gauged using harmonized test scores from major international student achievement testing programs.
  2. The lack of availability of an authoritative and uniform test score, about 9 different test scores and systems using varying methodology have been claimed to have been harmonized by the World Bank.
  3. None of the 9 systems cover more than 100 countries, with some have very limited regional coverage.
  4. This makes the methodology quite complex and non-uniform.
  5. For some countries, average national scores in a particular year and in some cases in selected cities or states have been used as predictors of education potential and future economic growth.

(B) Assessment lacking Global Standard

  1. For India, the data for quality of education pertains to 2009 assessment by PISA, which was conducted for only two states, namely Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
  2. The use of PISA and TIMSS scores is the methodology for testing is largely controlled by non UN agencies.
  3. It is not globalized unlike the methodology of UNICEF and WHO that are used for health and survival indicators.

(C) Gross negligence of important measures

  1. The differences in development outcomes arising from governance issues, political systems, socio-cultural context, and legacy issues have been totally ignored.
  2. The metric of HCI is too simplistic at one level and too ignorant of development realities at another.
  3. Various initiatives such as SBM, Samagra Shiksha, PMJDY, and ABP etc. are transforming human capital in India at rapid pace.
  4. The HCI score for India does not reflect the key initiatives that are being taken for developing human capital in the country.

Way Forward

  1. The qualitative aspects of improved governance that have a strong correlation with human capital development have not been captured by the way the HCI has been constructed.
  2. The gap in data and methodology overlook the initiatives taken by a country and, in turn, portray an incomplete and pre-determined picture.
  3. This infact makes the case for an adoption of the Index by more countries somewhat remote.
  4. With the emphasis on country scores and rankings, the HCI could trivialize the importance of the Human Capital Project.
  5. Hence the Government of India has decided to ignore the HCI and will continue to undertake its path breaking programme for human capital development.

Human Capital Project

  1. As part of this World Development Report (WDR), the World Bank has launched a Human Capital Project (HCP).
  2. The HCP programme is claimed to be a program of advocacy, measurement, and analytical work to raise awareness and increase demand for interventions to build human capital.
  3. There are three components of HCP:
  • a cross-country human capital measurement metric called the Human Capital Index (HCI),
  • a programme of measurement and research to inform policy action
  • a programme of support for country strategies to accelerate investment in human capital.

Human Capital Index (HCI)

  1. The HCI has been constructed for 157 countries.
  2. It claims to seek to measure the amount of human capital that a child born today can expect to attain by age 18.
  3. The HCI has three components:
    • Survival: as measured by under-5 mortality rates
    • Expected years of Quality-Adjusted School:which combines information on the quantity and quality of education
    • Health environment:Using two proxies of (a) adult survival rates and (b) the rate of stunting for children under age 5

HDI vs. HCI

  1. UNDP constructs Human Development Index (HDI) for several years.
  2. The HCI uses survival rates and stunting rate instead of life expectancyas measure of health, and quality-adjusted learning instead of merely years of schooling as measure of education.
  3. HCI also excludes per capita income whereas the HDI uses it.

5. 21% Indian children are under-weight: Global Hunger Index

  1. India has been ranked at 103 out of 119 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2018, with hunger levels in the country categorized as “serious”.
  2. At least one in five Indian children under the age of five is wasted, says the report.
  3. The only country with a higher prevalence of child wasting is the war-torn nation of South Sudan.
  4. India’s ranking has dropped three places from last year, although the Index says its results are not accurately comparable from year to year and instead provides a few reference years for comparable data.
  5. The 2018 scores reflect data from 2013-2017.

About the report

  1. The report terms hunger and forced migration for the severity worldwide.
  2. The report is a peer-reviewed publication released annually by Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide.
  3. The International Food Policy Research Institute was also involved with the publication until this year.

Four Main Indicators

The GHI scores are based on a formula that captures three dimensions of hunger—insufficient caloric intake, child undernutrition, and child mortality—using four component indicators:

  1. UNDERNOURISHMENT: the share of the population that is under-nourished, reflecting insufficient caloric intake
  2. CHILD WASTING: the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (low weight-for-height), reflecting acute undernutrition.
  3. CHILD STUNTING: the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (low height-for-age), reflecting chronic undernutrition
  4. CHILD MORTALITY: the mortality rate of children under the age of five

India’s Overall Performance

  1. India has shown improvement in three of the indicators over the comparable reference years.
  2. The percentage of undernourished people in the population has dropped from 18.2% in 2000 to 14.8% in 2018.
  3. The child mortality rate has halved from 9.2% to 4.3%, while child stunting has dropped from 54.2% to 38.4% over the same period.
  4. However, the prevalence of child wasting has actually worsened in comparison to previous reference years.
  5. It stood at 17.1% in 2000, and increased to 20% in 2005. In 2018, it stands at 21%. South Sudan’s child wasting prevalence is at 28%.

Other highlights of the report

  1. Child wasting is high across South Asia, constituting a “critical public health emergency”, according to UN organisations.
  2. The report notes that wasting rates are highest for infants aged 0 to 5 months, suggesting that attention to birth outcomes and breastfeeding is important.
  3. Also, child wasting in the region is associated with a low maternal body mass index, suggesting the need for a focus on the nutritional status of the mother during pregnancy.
  4. Factors that could reduce child stunting in South Asia include increased consumption of non-staple foods, access to sanitation, women’s education, access to safe water, gender equality, and national food availability.

Way Forward

  1. Globally, the level of hunger still falls into the “serious” category, despite improvement over the last two decades.
  2. The Index projects that at the current rate of progress, 50 countries will fail to reach the “low” hunger category by 2030.
  3. This puts the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 2, which aims to end hunger by 2030, in jeopardy.

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