Why in News?
100 women military police personnel got training in Bengaluru.
Tags: Role of women
- The first batch of 100 women military police personnel is undergoing training in Bengaluru.
- All of them will be granted the rank of Lance-Naik upon being inducted.
- A total of 1,700 women military police personnel will be inducted over a period of 17 years.
- 27 of the women are from UP, 26 from Haryana, 8 from Karnataka, 6 from Kerala, 2 each from Himachal Pradesh and Assam and one person each from the rest of the states like Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, among others, except for the other northeastern states.
- Male Army establishment is challenged by their presence and they have set a precedent which creates opportunities for employment for women from agrarian backgrounds and lower economic strata.
- They have inspired many other young women to join the service.
Sources: TH, Deccan Herald
GS paper 1&3
Tags: Key natural resources, Conservation
Jal Jeevan Mission
Why in News?
Union Minister of Jal Shakti has replied to the starred questions on the floor of both the Houses highlighting the progress of JJM.
What is Jal Jeevan Mission?
- To improve the lives of people in rural areas and enhance their ‘ease of living’, Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) was announced by Hon’ble Prime Minister on 15th August, 2019 was implemented in partnership with States with the aim to provide tap water connection to every rural household of the country by 2024.
- At the time of announcement of JJM on 15th August 2019, out of total 18.93 Crore rural households, 3.23 Crore rural households (17%) of the country had tap water connections.
- Since then, over 3.47 Crore families living in rural areas have been provided with tap water connections in their homes.
- Now, out of total 19.18 Crore rural households, more than 1/3rd (35%) i.e. 6.70 Crore rural families of the country have assured potable tap water supply in their homes, improving their quality of life and enhancing 'ease of living'.
- Following the principle of equity and inclusiveness in assured drinking water supply to every home in villages, thus ‘no one is left out’ principle, as on today, 52 districts in the country spread across Gujarat (5), Telangana (32), Himachal Pradesh (3), Jammu & Kashmir (2), Goa (2), Haryana (5) and Punjab (3) have become ‘Har Ghar Jal districts’, i.e. all rural households have tap water supply.
- There is a healthy competition among States/ UTs to make provision of tap water supply to every household.
- Goa has become the first State in the country to provide tap water connections to all rural households of the State followed by Telangana.
- As reported, all households in 52 districts, 663 Blocks, and about 76 thousand villages, have started getting tap water supply.
- Jal Jeevan Mission Crossed the 4 Crore Mark and provided 38% of Rural Population with tap ConnectionsObjectives
The broad objectives of the Mission are:
- To provide FHTC (Functional Household Tap Connection) to every rural household.
- To prioritize provision of FHTCs in quality affected areas, villages in drought prone and desert areas, Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) villages, etc.
- To provide functional tap connection to Schools, Anganwadi centres, GP buildings, Health centres, wellness centres and community buildings
- To monitor functionality of tap connections.
- To promote and ensure voluntary ownership among local community by way of contribution in cash, kind and/ or labour and voluntary labour (shramdaan)
- To assist in ensuring sustainability of water supply system, i.e. water source, water supply infrastructure, and funds for regular O&M
- To empower and develop human resource in the sector such that the demands of construction, plumbing, electrical, water quality management, water treatment, catchment protection, O&M, etc. are taken care of in short and long term
- To bring awareness on various aspects and significance of safe drinking water and involvement of stakeholders in manner that make water everyone's business
Challenges of Jal Jeevan Mission
- Water is a global issue. Our country is facing challenges regarding drinking water and making water available for irrigation.
- Availability of water or precipitation is favourable to us but the problem lies with managing that water.
- Government realised this issue and therefore the Ministry was formed.
- There is a need of plans for sustainable use of surface water and groundwater.
- After supplying the water planning must be done for the reuse of the grey water, or discharged water.
- Both these would be taken care through the convergence of different schemes taken up by the State governments and the Central government.
- India’s dependency on underground water is the highest in the world. As per the rough estimates, India accounts for one-fourth of the total water globally extracted from underground.
- India’s dependence on groundwater is as much as 65 per cent and sources of the country are depleting very fast because it is being overdrawn.
- Because of this exploitation, out of 6,800 blocks in the country, nearly 1,500 blocks are in a critical condition.
- Contamination of groundwater with fluoride, arsenic and other heavy metals is posing a major challenge to centre’s ambitious Jal Jeevan Mission.
- This is a clarion call for water conservation. Since then, it became a people’s movement.
- This will help in achieving one of the targets of Swachha Bharata Abhiyan that is universal availability of clean drinking water by 2024. This will ensure the clean drinking water availability in schools as well.
- This will further help in reducing the spread of diseases caused by contaminated water.
- Arranging clean drinking water in rural areas is a big challenge as women need to travel large distances for that. This will reduce burden from women and will save time as well, which she can contribute in child rearing and caring.
Source: PIB, https://jaljeevanmission.gov.in/ Indian express
GS Paper:2 Governance
Law against Love Jihad
Tags: Indian Constitutional Amendments, welfare scheme for the vulnerable section by the centre and the state
Why in News?
- The Gujarat Assembly passed the Freedom of Religion Act (Amendment) Bill that seeks to penalise forcible or fraudulent conversion by marriage or “love jihad’ bringing in provisions against forcible conversion through marriage or allurement.
- The Bill says it is necessary to prohibit “forcible conversion by marriage or by getting a person married or by aiding a person to get married”.
- Gujarat became the third state after UP and MP to pass law against love Jihad.
- According to the provisions of the Bill, whoever is found to be carrying out religious conversion by marriage, or getting a person married or by aiding a person to get married shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than three years and up to five years and will also be liable to pay a fine of Rs 2 lakh.
- If the marriage is in respect of a minor, a woman or a person from SC or ST community, the punishment shall be of imprisonment of a minimum of four years to a maximum of seven years and fine of Rs 3 lakh.
- Any such marriage carried out for the purpose of unlawful conversion by the person of one religion with the person of another religion, either by converting himself or herself before or after marriage, shall be declared void by the family court or any other similar court.
- The provisions of the proposed amendment further state that if any institution or organisation is found to be in charge of or responsible for such marriage, it shall be punished with imprisonment of minimum three years and up to 10 years and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh.
- Moreover, the provisions say that the burden to prove that a religious conversion was not affected through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or any other fraudulent means shall lie on the accused and his or her facilitators.
- The offence of such religious conversion through marriage shall be considered cognisable and non-bailable and shall be investigated by an official above the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP).
The 1947 partition led to the creation of India and Pakistan with different majority religions. This led to large-scale migration, with millions of people moving between the countries and rampant reports of sexual predation and forced conversions. Women on both sides of the conflict were impacted, leading to "recovery operations" by both the Indian and Pakistani governments. This tense history caused repeated clashes between the faiths in the decades that followed as well. Love Jihad possibly leads to mental, physical and emotional abuse of a woman for the sake of revenge or spread of religion.
Although the concept is criticised as being anti-muslim, but considering the alarming cases it is important to safeguard the interests of women and protect them from the horrors of forcible conversion on the name of religion and love.
Sources: TH, New IE, Zeenews, business-standard. Com
Tags: India and its neighbourhood relations, Global Groupings involving India
- BIMSTEC stands for Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).
- BIMSTEC is headquartered in Dhaka and it is an inter-regional grouping that seeks to foster regional and economic cooperation among nations in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal — India, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan.
- The BIMSTEC region is home to roughly 22 per cent of the global population with a combined GDP of over $2.7 trillion.
- Due to setbacks to the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), particularly when its 2016 summit scheduled to be held in Pakistan was suspended after member countries declined to participate, BIMSTEC has emerged as the “preferred platform” for regional cooperation in South Asia.
- BIMSTEC has come under scrutiny for failing to achieve milestones within 23 years of its inception. Experts have also criticised the body’s inadequate response towards issues like the Rohingya crisis which involves three of its member countries — Myanmar, India and Bangladesh.
BIMSTEC formation & relevance in Indo-Pacific region
- BIMSTEC is an economic bloc that came into being on 6 June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration. It aims to accelerate economic growth and social progress among members across multiple sectors — trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism and fisheries, agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, environment, culture, people to people contact and climate change.
- The grouping holds annual meetings hosted by member states based on alphabetical rotation. Sri Lanka is the host nation this time.
- Initially, the economic bloc was formed with four countries with the acronym ‘BIST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation). With the entrance of Myanmar in 1997, the grouping was renamed ‘BIMST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation).
- Finally, with the entrance of Nepal and Bhutan at the 6th Ministerial Meeting in 2004, the grouping was named Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).
Dormancy, stalled FTA process & other drawbacks
- BIMSTEC has come under scrutiny mainly due to dormancy in initial years and a stalled Free Trade Agreement process. The fact that other countries in the Bay of Bengal like Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia have not been involved even as dialogue partners has also been a point of contention.
- On the issue of dormancy, BIMSTEC didn’t have an official head office and meetings were held at the Thai foreign ministry in Bangkok until it was given headquarters in Dhaka in 2011 and a secretary general.
- In 2018, India aggressively pushed for the conclusion of a long-pending FTA among BIMSTEC nations but differences between India and Thailand over market access for professionals, duty cuts on traded goods and policy relaxation stalled the process.
- The reason small nations in the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean are turning to regional blocs like BIMSTEC is because they gain higher economic dividends from regional blocks than fragmented multilateralism promoted by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
- BIMSTEC has been slow on the come-up because unlike bodies like the EU or ASEAN, it is based on consensus-building which takes time.
Impact of Myanmar Violence on BIMSTEC
- The multilateral inaction is delaying the BIMSTEC summit, promoting liberal democratic agenda.
- Military coup in Myanmar has seen BIMSTEC members falling shy of taking a clear position on this matter.
- With this, the organisation has hit upon a road block disrupting its progression and forward-looking strive.
- The most important question that BIMTEC is facing is to how to deal with the Myanmar military leadership. The heat of it has already been felt on host Sri Lanka.
- BIMSTEC ministerial meet may debate the expulsion of Myanmar or may ask individual member states to clarify their policy towards Myanmar’s junta.
- In hindsight, Myanmar’s military is more likely to be gradually co-opted.
Sources: The Hindu, The Print, https://www.moneycontrol.com/
- The Centre on 28 July 2016 announced the formation of District Development Coordination and Monitoring Committee (DDCMC) to be named “Disha” for effective development and coordination of almost all the programmes of Central Government, whether it is for infrastructure development or Social and human resource development.
- Committees would monitor the implementation of 28 schemes and programmes of Ministry of Rural Development and other Ministries to promote synergy and convergence for greater impact.
- The main purpose of this committee is to coordinate with Central and State and local Panchayat Governments, for successful and timely implementation of the schemes.
The meetings of the committee should be held once in every Quarter (Third Saturdays of April, July, October and February) and this has been made mandatory.
The programmes to be covered under includes:
1) Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)
2) Deen Dayal Antordaya Yojna - NRLM
3) Deen Dayal Upadhyay – Gramin Kaushalya Yojna (DDU-GKY)
4) Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)
5) National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP)
6) Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awaas Yojna (PMAY-G)
7) Swachh Bharat Mission – Gramin (SBM- G)
8) National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP)
9) Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna (PMKSY) – Intregrated Watershed Management Programme
10) Digital India Land Record Modernisation Programme (NLRMP)
11) Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission - National Rurban Mission (NRuM)
12) Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojna (DDUGJY)
13) Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Housing for All - Urban)
14) Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM)
15) National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY)
16) Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)
17) Smart City Mission
18) Ujjwal DISCOM Assurance Yojna (UDAY)
19) Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)
20) National Heath Mission (NHM)
21) Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA)
22) Intregrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)
23) Mid-Day Meal Scheme
24) Pradhan Mantri UJJWALA Yojana (PMUY) - LPG Connection to BPL families
25) Jal Marg Vikash Project
26) Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna
27) Digital India – Public Internet Access Programme – providing Common Service Centre in each Gram Panchayat
28) Infrastructure related programme like Telecom, railways, highways, waterways, mines, etc.
- The Chairperson of the committee will be the senior most Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) elected from the district, nominated by the Ministry of Rural Development.
- The other Members of Parliament (Lok Sabha) representing the district will be designated as Co-Chairpersons.
- One MP (Rajya Sabha) representing the State and exercising option to be associated with the district level Committee of that district (on first come basis) will be designated as Co-Chairperson.
- All Members of the State Legislative Assembly elected from the district, All Mayors / the Chairpersons of Municipalities, chairperson of the Zilla Panchayat, Five elected heads of Gram Panchayat including two women, One representative each of SC, ST and Women to be nominated by the Chairperson will be among other members of the committee.
- The Member Secretary of DISHA should be the District Collector / District Magistrate/ Deputy Commissioner except in cases where specific exemption has been given by the Union Government.
- The meetings of the committee should be held once in every Quarter (Third Saturdays of April, July, October and February).
- The Meeting notice should reach all members at least 15 days prior to the meeting
- Agenda note should reach all members at least 10 days prior to the meeting.
- The meetings can be convened even if all the members of the Committee have not been nominated.
- In the absence of the designated Chairperson, Co-Chairperson (if any), with consensus among the Co-Chairpersons present, should preside over the meeting.
- If no Chairperson / Co-Chairperson is present, the Members who are present should elect a Chairperson from among themselves to preside over the scheduled meeting.
- In very extraordinary circumstances the District Magistrate/Deputy Commissioner could authorize the CEO Zila Parishad or a Senior ADM to be the Member Secretary for a particular meeting to ensure that meetings of Disha are held as scheduled.
- Proceedings of the meetings should be issued within 10 days of the meeting after due approval of Chairperson.
The terms of references of the committee will:
(i) Ensure that all programmes are implemented in accordance with the Guidelines.
(ii) Look into complaints/alleged irregularities received in respect of the implementation of the programmes, including complaints of wrong selection of beneficiaries, mis-appropriation / diversion of funds and recommend follow-up action.
- The Committee should have the authority to summon and inspect any record for this purpose.
- The Committee may refer any matter for enquiry to the District Collector/CEO of the Zilla Panchayat/Project Director of DRDA (or Poverty Alleviation Unit) or suggest suitable action to be taken in accordance with the rules which should be acted upon by him within 30 days.
(iii) Closely review the flow of funds including the funds allocated, funds released by both Centre and the State, utilization and unspent balances under each Scheme.
- This is underlined that the Action Taken on the recommendations of the previous meeting should be the first agenda item for the next meeting.
- Follow up action on recommendations of the DDCMCs should be initiated within 30 days of the meeting.
- The Member Secretary should ensure that meeting notice, agenda notes and proceedings of meetings are uploaded on the website of the Ministry of Rural Development and also the website of the State.
GS Paper 3
Environment Vs Development: Conflict
Tags: Environmental Impact Assessment
A whopping 18.5 million trees have been cut down for widening of roads whereas the loss has been compensated by plantation of only 2.9 million trees in Odisha during the past one decade.
GS Paper 3 - Infrastructure - Road Infrastructure
Road Infrastructure in India: Achieving new milestones
Why in News?
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has achieved the record-breaking milestone of constructing 37 kilometres highways per day in year 2020-21.
Some of the major achievements of the ministry are:
- Over the last 7 years, length of National Highways has gone up by 50% from 91,287 km (as of April 2014) to 1,37,625 km (as on 20 March 2021);
- Total budgetary outlay increased by 5.5 times, from INR 33,414 Cr in Financial Year 2015 to INR 1,83,101 Cr in Financial Year 2022;
- Sanctioned amount has increased by 126% in Financial Year 2021 over Financial Year 2020 despite Covid-19 related impact. Sanctioned length in kilometers has also increased by 9% in Financial Year 2021 over Financial Year 2020;
- Average annual project award (annual average award length) during Financial Year 2015 to Financial Year 2021 has increased by 85% compared to FY10 to FY14
- Average annual construction (average annual construction length) during FY2015 to FY2021 has increased by 83% compared to FY2010 to FY2014
- Cumulative cost of ongoing project works has increased by 54% at the end of Financial Year 2021 compared to Financial Year 2020 (as on March 31st)
GS Paper 2
Tags: International Relations
Why in News?
- The White House has allowed a 2020 ban on H1B skilled worker and certain other temporary visas to expire on March 31.
- H1B visas, used more by Indian professionals than any other nationality, were suspended by President Donald Trump in June in 2020, ostensibly to protect American jobs, already reeling under the impact of the COVID19 pandemic.
- Visas for intracompany transfers (L1), exchange visitors ( J1), temporary non-agricultural workers (H2B) and dependents of H1B holders (H4) were also impacted by the expiring ban.
What is H1-B Visa?
H1-B Visa is a nonimmigrant Visa which is designed to allow U.S. employers to employ foreign nationals in specialty occupations in the United States of America for a specified period. People from outside U.S. who are looking for employment need to have a H1-B Visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
H1B Visa Eligibility Criteria
To obtain the H1-B Visa, you must:
- Have 12 years of work experience. It can also be a mix of further education and work experience.
- Applicant must hold a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.
- United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will determine if your employment constitutes a specialty occupation and if you are qualified to perform the services.
- Employer should file a labor condition with the Department of Labor that concerns the terms and conditions of its contract of employment with you.
- You must demonstrate that you have the ability to work in specialty occupation.
- You are willing to come to U.S. to earn and are not coming with the intention to pursue a hobby or to give free advice or any humanitarian service.
The individual is not allowed to apply for the H1-B visa, it requires sponsoring from U.S. employer. The H1-B filing period starts from 1st April and the filling period will continue till the quota is met. The H1-B sponsors and employers change every year. H1-B visas are dual intent visas as you can get permanent residency as well.
What are the other types of Visas?
- The H-1A visa was a visa that was previously available to foreign nationals seeking temporary employment in the United States. These visas were made available to foreign nurses coming into the United States to perform services as a registered nurse in areas with a shortage of health professionals as determined by the Department of Labor. The creation of this visa was prompted by the nursing shortage.
The H-1A nurse program, enacted by the Nursing Relief Act of 1989, expired on September 1, 1995. The last H-1A visas were issued in Fiscal Year 2000. The visa was succeeded by the H-1C visa, created in 1999. The H-1C program expired in 2009.
- The H-1B is a visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H) which allows U.S. employers to employ foreign orkers in specialty occupations. If a foreign worker in H-1B status quits or is dismissed from the sponsoring employer, the worker must either apply for and be granted a change of status, find another employer (subject to application for adjustment of status and/or change of visa), or leave the United States. Effective January 17, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services modified the rules to allow a grace period of up to 60 days but in practice as long as a green card application is pending they are allowed to stay.
The regulations define a "specialty occupation" as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor including but not limited to biotechnology, chemistry, computing, architecture, engineering, statistics, physical sciences, journalism, medicine and health: doctor, dentists, nurses, physiotherapists, etc., economics, education, research, law, accounting, business specialties, technical writing, theology, and the arts, and requiring the attainment of a bachelor's degree or its equivalent as a minimum (with the exception of fashion models, who must be "of distinguished merit and ability"). Likewise, the foreign worker must possess at least a bachelor's degree or its equivalent and state licensure, if required to practice in that field. H-1B work-authorization is strictly limited to employment by the sponsoring employer.
On March 3, 2017 the USCIS announced on their website that starting from April 3, 2017 they would temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B visa petitions until further notice. On October 3, 2017 premium processing for all H-1B visa petitions was resumed. On April 18, 2017 President Trump signed a "Buy American, Hire American" Executive Order which sets broad policy intentions directing federal agencies to propose reforms to the H-1B visa system that currently allows extended stay for temporary skilled workers which allows transition into citizenship without any purview of federal discernment and regulations or quotas that balances growing job needs of American population. On June 28, 2018 the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Department (USCIS) came up with a new rule that will make US deport those whose request for the visa extension is rejected. However, the Trump administration revealed they are not considering any proposal that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the country and will gradually focus on increasing the quality of life of the current visa holders for the services they render to the economy in their time period.
- The H-1B1 visa (and associated H-1B1 status) is a variant of the H-1B visa in the United States for nationals of Singapore and Chile. The version for Singapore is called the H-1B1-Singapore and the version for Chile is called the H-1B1-Chile. These categories were introduced with the Singapore–United States Free Trade Agreement and Chile–United States Free Trade Agreement respectively, both of which were ratified in 2003 by the 108th United States Congress (and signed into law by George W. Bush, the President of the United States at the time) and became active on January 1, 2004. The visas are also called FTA visas because they were provided for through Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).
H-1B1 is distinct from the E-3 visa for Australian nationals, even though both are variants of the H-1B. It is also distinct from the TN visa and associated status for residents of Canada and Mexico, which is associated with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
- The H-1C visa was a visa that was previously available to foreign nationals seeking temporary employment in the United States. These visas were made available to foreign nurses coming into the United States to perform services as a registered nurse in areas with a shortage of health professionals as determined by the Department of Labor. The creation of this visa was prompted by a nursing shortage.
As of December 20, 2009, this visa classification has been expired. The last H-1C visas were issued in Fiscal Year 2012.
- An H-2A visa allows a foreign national entry into the United States for temporary or seasonal agricultural work. There are several requirements of the employer in regard to this visa. The H-2A temporary agricultural program establishes a means for agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring non-immigrant foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature.
- The H-2B visa nonimmigrant program permits employers to hire foreign workers to come temporarily to the United States and perform temporary nonagricultural services or labor on a one-time, seasonal, peakload or intermittent basis.
- An H-3 visa is a visa issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to trainees or special education exchange visitors, who intend to perform their job outside the United States. Trainees' spouses and children who are under the age of 21 may accompany them to, but may not work in, the United States.
- An H-4 visa is a visa issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the H-1B visa holders.
On February 24, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez announced that, effective May 26, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. DHS amended the regulations to allow these H-4 dependent spouses to accept employment in the United States. These H-4 dependent spouses are also eligible to receive social security numbers.