05 April 2021 – The Hindu + Indian Express + Daily PIB Analysis
GS Paper-1 Education
Why in News?
Minister of State for Education to attend consultation meeting of Education Ministers of E9 countries tomorrow
What are E9 Countries?
- The E9 is a forum of nine countries.
- It was formed to achieve the goals of UNESCO's Education For All (EFA) initiative. The “E” stands for education and the “9” represents the following nine countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan, representing over half of the world's population and 70% of the world's illiterate adults.
What is E9 initiative?
- E-9 Initiative was launched in 1993 at the EFA Summit in New Delhi, India. E-9 Initiative has become a forum for the countries to discuss their experiences related to education, exchange best practices, and monitor EFA-related progress.
- E9 initiative, which is "the first step in a three-phase process of co-creating a digital learning and skills initiative for marginalized children and youth, especially girls”.
- The initiative aims to accelerate recovery and advance the Sustainable Development Goal 4 agenda by driving rapid change in education systems in three of the 2020 Global Education Meeting priorities:
- support to teachers;
- investment in skills;
- narrowing of the digital divide.
Significance of E9 for India
- Being a part of E9 India will progress and share lessons learned regarding challenges on digital learning and skills.
- When the possibility of co-creating and expanding is explored, the concept of digital learning will be enhanced and become more proficient in order to achieve the UN's sustainable development quality education goals.
- With this collaborative approach India will be benefitted by promoting changes in support for teachers; investment in skills; and bridging the digital divide.
- Through shared experience and lessons, the opportunities for cooperation will be explored.
- This initiative of E9 came after COVID-19 pandemic, which caused great disruption in learning, and according to UNESCO, this provided an opportunity to strengthen interconnected and digital economies.
Current challenges related to education in India
Expensive higher education
- College, expert and specialized institution have turned out to be exorbitant in India.
- Expense structure of specialized and expert establishments like IIM's is very high; IIM's charge Rs. 2 lakh for each semester for MBA classes.
- It is past the range of the regular man’s expenditure limit.
- Privatization of advanced education has prompted the development of benefit hungry business people.
- Presently advanced education is much exorbitant undertaking.
Neglect of Indian languages:
- The medium of teaching, especially in science subjects, is English.
- So provincial understudies who are not knowledgeable in English, can't contemplate science appropriately in English.
- They have to suffer a lot because of this.
- Standard distributions are not accessible in native Indian dialects.
The problem of brain drain:
- Whenever wise, capable and meriting candidates don't land reasonable positions in the nation, they want to travel to another country for looking for employment.
- So our nation is denied good ability.
- This wonder is called 'Brain Drain'.
- Because of this, we have lost so many talents that could be utilized in our nation for the betterment of education as well as overall development of the country.
- Notwithstanding protected mandates and financial planning, we are not ready to accomplish 100 percent education. - Even now 35 percent of individuals stay uneducated.
- In India, the quantity of illiterate individuals is very nearly 33% of the aggregate uneducated people on the planet.
- Propelled nations are almost 100% educated, and the situation in India is very inauspicious.
Wastage of resources:
- Our education system depends on General Education.
- The dropout rate is high in essential and auxiliary dimension.
- The vast majority of the understudies in 6-14 age group leave the school before finishing their studies.
- It prompts wastage of financial and Human Resources.
General education oriented:
- Our education framework is of General Education in nature.
- Advancement of specialized and professional instruction is very unacceptable.
- So our way of instruction is ineffective. Thus the number of educated jobless people is expanding by each day. This has turned into a great concern for Government.
Problems of primary education:
- Our primary education is ridden with an excessive number of issues.
- A vast number of elementary schools have no structures, fundamental facilities like drinking water, urinals and power, furniture and study materials and so forth.
- Substantial quantities of grade schools are single educator schools and numerous schools are even without instructors.
- So the drop rate is high and a reason for concern.
- Finishing up, we can say that there is a quantitative extension of training yet in subjective improvement we are as yet falling behind.
Measures taken by Government of India
- Government of India launched Samagra Shiksha-an Integrated Scheme for school education, w.e.f. 2018-19, as an overarching programme for the school education sector extending from pre-school to class XII and aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels of school education.
- It subsumes the three erstwhile Schemes of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE).
- Samagra Shiksha focuses on improvement in quality of education by providing support for different interventions like in-service training of teachers and school heads, conduct of achievement surveys at state and national level, composite school grant to every school for providing a conducive learning environment, grants for library, sports and physical activities, support for Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan, ICT and digital initiatives, School Leadership development programme, remedial teaching for academically weaker students, support for Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat, etc.
Kindly click on link given below for National Education Policy 2020
Sources: PIB, Wikipedia, https://www.indiatoday.in/
GS Paper 1 - Social Issues
Why in News?
- A self-propelled railway track scavenging vehicle may soon replace manual scavenging and cleaning that is still practiced to remove human waste lying on railway tracks.
- Despite the ban on manual scavenging since 1993 in our country, men and women are seen removing excreta on the tracks with brooms and metal plates.
- Once the garbage is picked up from the tracks, night soil, excessive dirt, oil, and other foreign materials is ineffectively cleaned with high-pressure water jets.
What is Manual Scavenging?
- Manual scavenging is a term used mainly in India for "manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of, or otherwise handling, human excreta in an insanitary latrine or in an open drain or sewer or in a septic tank or a pit".
- Manual scavengers usually use hand tools such as buckets, brooms and shovels.
- The workers have to move the excreta, using brooms and tin plates, into baskets, which they carry to disposal locations sometimes several kilo metres away.
- The practice of employing human labour for cleaning of sewers and septic tanks is also prevalent in Bangladesh and Pakistan.
- These sanitation workers, called "manual scavengers", rarely have any personal protective equipment.
- The work is regarded as a de humanising practice.
The occupation of sanitation work is intrinsically linked with caste in India.
- All kinds of cleaning are considered lowly and are assigned to people from the lowest rung of the social hierarchy.
- In the caste-based society, it is mainly the Dalits who work as sanitation workers - as manual scavengers, cleaners of drains, as garbage collectors and sweepers of roads.
- It was estimated in 2019 that between 40 to 60 percent of the 6 million households of Dalit sub-castes are engaged in sanitation work.
- The most common Dalit caste performing sanitation work is the Valmiki (also Balmiki) caste.
- The construction of dry toilets and employment of manual scavengers to clean such dry toilets was prohibited in India in 1993. The law was extended and clarified to include ban on use of human labour for direct cleaning of sewers, ditches, pits and septic tanks in 2013. However, despite the laws, manual scavenging was reported in many states including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan in 2014. In 2021, the NHRC observed that eradication of manual scavenging as claimed by state and local governments is far from over.
Current Situation/ Challenges of Manual Scavenging in India
- The practice of manual scavenging has accursed Indian society since time immemorial. The efforts to abolish this custom have garnered momentum within the state machinery, advocacy groups and academia the last three decades, particularly since the constitution of the Safai Karamchari Andolan (SKA) in 1994.
- Officially, the number of manual scavengers dropped to 42,303 in 2018 from 770,338 in 2008. Notwithstanding the said developments, the drastic reduction in the official count in the recent past can be construed as indicative of gross underassessment rather than being reflective of their actual numbers in India.
- While the Indian government attributes this drop to the strict enforcement of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 and the impact of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. A closer inspection of the problem reveals many shortcomings in the implementation of the said act, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan as well as procedures adopted to arrive at the official figure of manual scavengers.
The survey and its shortcomings
- The survey of manual scavengers in 2018 was conducted by the National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC) at the behest of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. This survey, which found 87,913 manual scavengers in India, was only conducted in the statutory towns of 14 Indian states.
- Of the 87,913 manual scavengers identified by the survey, 42,303 were recognised by the ministry and only 27,268 have been integrated into relevant schemes and have received any form of entitlements or benefits from the ministry.
- It is but obviously a grossly underreported survey, given the fact that the Socio-Economic Caste Census of 2011 identified 1,82,505 households with the primary occupation of manual scavenging.
- Whereas, the SKA estimated that the numbers of such scavengers were around 12 lakh, which seems more reasonable, given the fact that the Census of 2011 estimates the number of dry latrines in the country at around 26 lakh.
- Notwithstanding the efforts of the government, the assumption that the age-old practice of manual scavenging has seen a drop of almost 89 per cent in seven years (based on the estimations done by the SKA in 2011 and the NSKFDC Census, 2018) is irrational.
- The fact that this survey was confined to statutory towns in India is reflective of the Central government’s attempt to will fully misjudge manual scavenging as an urban problem.
The act and its implementation
- The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 aims to eliminate insanitary latrines (those not connected to pits/septic tanks/sewage lines) alongside tracking the rehabilitation of manual scavengers in other occupations and conducting periodic surveys.
- To eliminate this practice, the act has provisions for stringent penalties, for direct or indirect employment of any person in hazardous cleaning of sewers or septic tanks by any person, local authority or agency. For example, even the first instance of its contravention is punishable with imprisonment up to two years or fine up to Rs 2 lakh or both.
- If a worker dies while performing such work, even with safety gear and other precautions, the employer is required to pay compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the family.
- Despite such stringent provisions, hardly any action is visible on the ground — not a single FIR was filed in 2014, accordin to the 57th Standing Committee of Social Justice and Empowerment, 2017-2018.
- Two cases under the law were reported from Karnataka in the National Crime Records Bureau report of 2015, where only one went for trial. Karnataka has maintained its lead in its compliance with the law by filing 55 FIRs. This clearly reveals a lack of empathy on part of the state, bureaucracy and even society.
- As per the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) database, 608 manual scavengers have died between 2013 and 2017 while cleaning septic tanks.
- NCSK reported 123 deaths during January-August 2017, whereas, the SKA reported 429 deaths in the same duration in the National Capital Region alone.
- While the contemporary official records evidently underestimate the employment and deaths of manual scavengers in India, the implementation of policies pertaining to their welfare have fallen short in terms of reach and coverage.
- The Self Employment Scheme for Liberation and Rehabilitation of Scavengers (SRMS) was set up in January 2007 with the objective of rehabilitating them and their dependents with alternative livelihoods. The benefits and entitlements offered under the SRMS are as follows:
- An immediate one-time cash assistance of Rs 40,000 to one member of the family of the identified manual scavenger
- A concessional loan of up to Rs ten lakh for self-employment projects
- A monthly stipend of Rs 3,000 for up to 2 years and access to skill-training programmes for all manual scavengers and the dependents
- A credit-linked back-ended capital subsidy of Rs 3,25,000 against aforementioned loan
- As per the reports of the parliamentary standing committee in 2017-18, the support to the manual scavengers have been atrociously inadequate so far. Only 27,268 manual scavengers have been provided with the one-time cash assistance.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan vs manual scavenging
- Under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, India claims to have constructed approximately 1,000 lakh toilets since 2014, thereby providing approximately 95 per cent households with access to toilets.
- The constructed toilets are connected either to twin pit, septic tanks with soak pit, single pits or are connected to sewerage lines.
- National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey 2017-18 estimates that 13 per cent of the toilets constructed had twin pits, while 38 per cent were equipped with septic tanks with soak pits and 20 per cent had single pits.
- While the twin pit variety does not require human handling of faecal matter, the other two varieties require manual or mechanical extraction of faecal matter after a period of time.
- Given the abundance of septic tank with soak pit and single pit varieties of toilets and the low availability of suction pumps at the village level for mechanical extraction, it is obvious that most of these toilets in rural areas would be cleaned manually.
- Given the present policy climate which has relegated the scourge of manual scavenging to just an urban challenge, it is pertinent that the situation of rural sanitation be highlighted.
- While it is irrefutable that the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has made unprecedented and positive behavioural and infrastructural changes with regard to the usage of toilets, we need more effort and time to substantially reduce manual scavenging.
- Perhaps, at a policy level, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has addressed the issue of access to toilets, ignoring those cleaning them.
Judicial intervention and the way forward
- Given the gaps in assessment and laxity in implementation, it is unlikely that manual scavenging would end anytime soon. However, the judiciary has taken a proactive role in addressing this issue.
- The aforementioned survey in 2018 to estimate the number of manual scavengers in India was conducted at the behest of the judgement passed by the Supreme Court in the matter of Safai Karamchari Andolan and others versus the Union of India and others.
- More recently, the Bombay High Court in response to a PIL filed in 2019, sought a response from the Maharashtra Government regarding the number of convictions in cases related to the employment of manual scavengers as well as the disbursement of compensations upon their death, doubting the tendency of underreporting by the government.
- The state and society needs to take active interest in the issue and look into all possible options to accurately assess and subsequently eradicate this practice. It also warrants an engagement of all stakeholders for the proper introduction of mechanisation and ensuring that it is made available to all those who are forced to engage in this undignified practice.
The role of technology in overcoming the problem
- A Multifunctional Railway Track Scavenging Vehicle with support from the Advanced Manufacturing Technologies programme of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India aligned with the ‘Make in India’ initiative is being developed. A national patent has been published for this technology.
- This self-propelled Road cum Rail vehicle equipped with dry and wet suction systems, air and water spraying nozzles, control system, and road cum rail attachment is multifunctional and easy to operate. A display unit is provided for real-time control of the cleaning under drastically changing environment. It requires only one person along with driver to carry out the automatic cleaning of the railway track.
- Once the dry and wet suction is over, the water nozzles start spraying water jets to clear off any human waste or semi-solid garbage present on the track floor. Another set of nozzles spray disinfectants on the track to get rid of flies, rats, and other insects. Water jets completely remove the human waste and other wet garbage from the inter rail space zone. Both dry and wet garbage are collected in different tanks, and once filled, it can be decanted at appropriate local municipal garbage collection point. A joystick-controlled telescoping suction pipe is fitted to clear the slurry from the trench parallel to the track. The telescoping suction pipe can easily be placed at appropriate position in the side trench to suck the sewage slurry.
- As this is a rail cum road vehicle, it can be used as a material/ garbage transport vehicle from track to road by Indian railways. It can also be used as maintenance/inspection vehicle and disinfectant spraying vehicle by Indian railways. In non-scavenging mode, it can also be used as a transportation and inspection vehicle by Indian Railways. After successful development and testing, the developed vehicle can be adopted by Indian railways as a scavenging vehicle for all of its stations. The developed vehicle having low maintenance cost, compact size, reverse and forward movement, and continuous and intermittent action, make it better and effective as compared to existing research endeavours.
Sources: PIB, Wikipedia, https://www.downtoearth.org.in/
South- China Sea Dispute
GS Paper-2 International Relations
Why in News?
Philippines accuses China of plans to occupy more areas.
Why South china sea is important
- The South China Sea is incredibly rich in natural resources like 11 billion barrels of oil, 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and ten percent of the world's fisheries.
- Most importantly though, 30% of the world's shipping trade flows through here to the booming population centers and economic markets of Southeast Asia.
- It's an extremely important body of water and right now five countries lay claim to some part of it.
What is as issue?
- Now, most countries base their claim of the UN Law of the Seas, which says a country's territorial waters extend 200 miles off their shore. An area called the exclusive economic zone, or EEZ.
- Countries have exclusive rights to all the resources and trade in there EEZ. It's their sovereign territory.
- So for example, any oil that's found within 200 miles off the coast of Vietnam belongs exclusively to Vietnam.
- But any area that isn't in an EEZ is regarded as international waters and it falls under UN maritime law which means everybody shares it.
- Now, every country in the South China Sea region uses this 200-mile EEZ threshold to determine its claims except China.
- China argued they have a historical claim to the South China Sea dating back to naval expeditions in the 15th century and they mark it using a confusing border called the nine-dash line.
- Following World War II, Japan who had dominated the entire region, lost all control of its surrounding seas.
- China used the moment to claim the South China Sea by drawing this imprecise line on the map that encompassed ninety percent of the South China Sea. It became known as the nine-dash line.
- When the UN established the 200-mile EEZ in 1973 China stuck to its own line, refusing to clarify its boundaries and ignoring claims by other countries.
- Now that brings discussion to the Spratly Islands.
- It's a remote barely inhabited cluster of islands currently claimed by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia.
- The Spratlys are both geographically and symbolically at the heart of South China Sea.
- That's because any country that can claim the Spratly islands can extend their EEZs to include them and gain exclusive rights to the surrounding territory.
- But it's really hard to legitimately claim uninhabited piles of sand so a few nations have built small buildings and ports on their claimed islands and even stuck a few people there.
- But China believes all the Spratly Islands belong to them which brings us back to why they're building islands there. Installing military bases on these new artificial islands took the dispute to a whole new level showing how China's potentially willing to defend its claims with force.
What China is doing?
- About three and half years ago, Fiery Cross Island didn't exist. The six other Chinese military bases that have been built on man-made islands in the South China Sea.
- Fiery Cross island is a little more than one square mile in size and it's home to a Chinese military base.
- There's a 10,000 foot airstrip, an advanced radar station, a missile defense system, and about 200 troops.
- Satellite image from 2014 shows, huge Chinese ships collecting around remote reefs in the Spratly Islands. An archipelago in the South China Sea.
- These ships were rapidly pumping sand and rock up onto the reef. They were building islands. And less than a year later, the Chinese had seaports air bases and buildings on their new islands and the world had taken notice.
- What China does not want world to see that superpower is reclaiming land in seven spots in the South China Sea adding on average more than three-and-a-half acres everyday.
- With these islands China is trying to lay claim to one of the most important areas of ocean in the world that is the South China Sea.
USA in South China Sea
- Now this is about when the United States took notice. While the US has no claim in the South China Sea, it is the world's lone superpower and uses its massive Navy to defend international waters.
- China sees the US presence in the area as an encroachment in their backyard.
- When a US destroyer ship sailed just 12 miles off the shore of one of China's man-made islands and the Spratlys China sent out their own destroyer and a patrol boat as a warning.
- China is building these islands in order to increase control around the surrounding waters.
- Using a strategy that they've deemed "The Cabbage Strategy".
- Where they surround a contested island with as many ships as possible.
- In May of 2013 China sent several ships to Ayungin shoal, which is just 105 nautical miles off the coast of the Philippines, well within that 200 mile EEZ.
- The Philippines has eight soldiers stationed there. Like wrapping leaves around a cabbage the Chinese sealed off the Philippines access to Ayungin Shoal with fishing boats, surveillance ships, and navy destroyers creating blockade so that the Filipinos can't receive shipments of food and supplies.
- By building their own man-made Islands, China is essentially building naval bases.
- The more Islands they have the more ships they can support and more territory they can slowly take control of.
- The Chinese cautiously use the cabbage strategy in the Spratly islands, taking over contested territory but in small steps avoiding the possibility of igniting a bigger conflict.
- But the disputes are intensifying. Countries are now actively arresting trespassers in waters that they claim and China could go a step further.
- Since 2015 they've threatened to declare an air identification zone above the South China Sea, declaring that all aircraft that fly through it would need Chinese permission.
- Now, publicly China insists that their intentions are not militaristic but their actions say otherwise and it's heightening tensions in the region.
- Steve Bannon who sits on the US National Security Council and who is one of President Trump's closest advisors is almost certain that the US will go to war in the South China Sea.
- But for now the disputes remain only in the legal and diplomatic realms that only occasionally break into minor clashes.
- In July 2016 the international court at the Hague ruled in favour of the Philippines who charged China with invading their rightful territory in the South China Sea.
- China dismissed the ruling and enforcement of the law doesn't seem likely. Even from the US who released a vague statement urging the two countries to "clarify their claims" and "work together to resolve their disputes" which is another way of saying "we don't really want to deal with this".
- In fact, as the conflict escalates and international courts get involved, the US is stuck in a tricky position.
- On one hand, they do not want to risk provoking a conflict with China. But on the other they want China to stop bullying their allies in the region.
- Up until now the US has managed the situation by continuing to patrol through the South China Sea. It's also likely that the US would fly fighter jets above the sea if China actually does declare an air identification zone.
- These are symbolic but effective ways of keeping China in check while not getting too involved in the details of the conflict.
- So far the disputes in the South China Sea have not become violent but countries are starting to defend their claims by increasing troop numbers, weaponising their territory and provoking each other. It's a complex situation that will continue to gain international attention for better or for worse.
What is the current Issue?
- The Philippines’ Defence Secretary said that China was looking to occupy more areas in the South China Sea, citing the continued presence of Chinese vessels that Manila believes are manned by militias in disputed parts of the strategic waterway.
- There is a call by Philippines for Chinese boats to leave Whitsun Reef, the Julian Felipe Reef, located within its 200mile exclusive economic zone.
- Chinese diplomats have said the boats anchored near the reef numbering more than 200 based on initial intelligence gathered by Philippine patrols were sheltering from rough seas and that no militia were aboard.
- There were still 44 Chinese vessels at Whitsun Reef, despite improved weather conditions.
- The Chinese Embassy responded to comments by saying that it was “completely normal” for Chinese vessels to fish in the area and take shelter near the reef during rough conditions.
- An international tribunal invalidated China’s claim to 90% of the South China Sea in 2016, but Beijing does not recognise the ruling and has built artificial islands in the disputed waters equipped with radar, missiles batteries and hangars for fighter jets. They have done this (occupy disputed areas) before at Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc and at Panganiban Reef, brazenly violating Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights under international law.
Source: The Diplomate, Wikipedia, The Hindu
GS Paper-3 Economic Development- FDI
FDI - Foreign Direct Investment
Why in News?
- The FDI inflow increased in 3 quarters of FY 2020-2021.
- The Measures taken by the Government on the fronts of FDI policy reforms, investment facilitation and ease of doing business have resulted in increased FDI inflows into the country as India has attracted total FDI inflow of US$ 72.12 billion during April to January, 2021.
- It is the highest ever for the first ten months of a financial year and 15% higher as compared to the first ten months of 2019-20 (US$ 62.72 billion).
Sector wise FDI Inflow
- The Computer Software & Hardware has emerged as the top sector during the first ten months of F.Y. 2020-21 with 45.81% of the total FDI Equity inflow.
- Construction (Infrastructure) Activities (13.37%) at second place.
- Services Sector (7.80%) at third place.
Country wise FDI Inflow
- Japan has been leading the list of investor countries to invest in India with 29.09% of the total FDI Equity inflows during January, 2021
- Singapore (25.46%) at second place
- U.S.A. (12.06%) at third place
- This significant growth in FDI inflow will create manufacturing and production ecosystem in related sectors. which create new employment opportunity in India.
- The spillover effect of these sectors will create allied sectors as well, in which immense employment opportunity is there.
- Technological up-gradation & innovation is a key for growth in India. This FDI will bring new technology and new management technique in our country, which help domestic companies to increase competitiveness and brand quality.
- This will develop new skill set in our country.
- New economic ecosystem will increase countries gross tax collection, which will help in increasing the govt spendings in capital formation in our country.
Important Points for Preliminary Exam
World’s highest railway bridge- Chenab Bridge.
- Indian Railways will soon have the world’s highest railway bridge. The 1.315-km long, Chenab bridge is being built above the Chenab river at a height of 359 metres in Jammu and Kashmir.
Maritime exercise La Pérouse
- Indian Navy Ships INS Satpura (with an integral helicopter embarked) and INS Kiltan alongwith P8I Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft are participating, for the first time; in multi-lateral maritime exercise La Pérouse, being conducted in the Eastern Indian Ocean Region from 05 to 07 Apr 2021.
- The Indian Navy ships and aircraft will exercise at sea with ships and aircraft of French Navy (FN), Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) and United States Navy (USN) during the three day exercise at sea.