Daily Current Affairs – 05-05-2023

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    Prevention of Sexual Harassment (Posh) Act, 2013

    Syllabus: GS 1/2/Social Issues /Government Policies and Interventions 

    In News

    • A recent investigation revealed that more than half of India’s 30 national sports federations do not have an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) which is a legal requirement under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) Act, 2013.

    About Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) Act, 2013

    • The Government of India has enacted ‘the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013’ (POSH Act) with the aim to provide a safe and secure work environment to women. 
    • It broadened and gave legislative backing to what is known as the Vishaka Guidelines, which were laid down by the Supreme Court in a judgment passed in 1997.
      • The Vishaka Guidelines defined sexual harassment and imposed three key obligations on institutions — prohibition, prevention, and redress.
      •  The Supreme Court directed that they should establish a Complaints Committee, which would look into matters of sexual harassment of women in the workplace. 
      • The court made the guidelines legally binding.

    Features 

    • It mandated that every employer must constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) at each office or branch with 10 or more employees.
    •  It lay down procedures and defined various aspects of sexual harassment, including the aggrieved victim, who could be a woman “of any age whether employed or not”, who “alleges to have been subjected to any act of sexual harassment”.
      • The aggrieved victim under the Act can be a woman “of any age whether employed [at the workplace] or not”, who “alleges to have been subjected to any act of sexual harassment”. 
      • In effect, the Act protects the rights of all women who are working or visiting any workplace, in any capacity.
    • The Act in its Section 2n, defines sexual harassment. Sexual harassment includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication), namely
      • Physical contact and advances, or
      • A demand or request for sexual favours, or
      • Making sexually coloured remarks, or
      • Showing pornography, or
      • Any other unwelcome physical, verbal, non verbal conduct of sexual nature
    • Section 3 (2) of the Act further elaborates that if any of the following circumstances occurs or is present in relation to or connected with any act or behavior of sexual harassment among other circumstances, it may amount to sexual harassment-
      • Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment, or
      • Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in her employment, or
      • Implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status, or
      • Interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for her, or
      • Humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety
    • Procedure for complaint: It is not compulsory for the aggrieved victim to file a complaint for the ICC to take action. 
    • she “may” do so — and if she cannot, any member of the ICC “shall” render “all reasonable assistance” to her to complain in writing.
    • The complaint must be made “within three months from the date of the incident”. 
    • After the ICC has filed its report: If the allegations of sexual harassment are proven, the ICC will recommend to the employer to take action “in accordance with the provisions of the service rules” of the company. These may vary from company to company.
      • The ICC may also recommend that the company deduct the salary of the person found guilty, “as it may consider appropriate”. 

    Issues and Concerns 

    • Sexual harassment at the workplace is becoming one of the most pressing issues affecting women across the globe.
    • The Posh Act, 2013 does not satisfactorily address accountability. Notably, it does not specify who is in charge of ensuring that workplaces comply with the Act, and who can be held responsible if its provisions are not followed.
    • Awareness about the  Posh Act, 2013 is still low in certain areas, making it difficult for victims to report cases.

    Suggestions 

    • The State Women Commissions should monitor the constitution of Internal Complaint Committees and Local Complaint Committees at district level in their respective States.
    • The State Women Commissions should regularly hold programmes to disseminate information about provisions of Act and rules thereto in their respective States for its better implementation.
    • Educate all staff on the various aspects of sexual harassment and the necessary steps to be taken if a complaint is made.
    • Establish a formal complaint procedure and ensure all complaints are addressed promptly and fairly. 
    • Ensure all employees know their rights and the procedure for making a complaint.
    • Take disciplinary action against those found guilty of sexual harassment.
    • Provide counselling services to both the complainant and the accused.

    Internal Complaints Committee(ICC) 

    • The ICC was designed to be the first port of call for any grievance under the PoSH Act, a key element needed to create a safe workplace environment for women
    • As per the law, it needs to have a minimum of four members – at least half of them women – of whom one shall be an external member, preferably from an NGO or an association that works for women’s empowerment or a person familiar with issues related to sexual harassment, like a lawyer. 
    • In fact, a functional ICC is one of the key conditions set up by the Ministry of Sports to grant annual recognition to the federations.

    Source: TH

    Violence in Manipur & Meitei community’s Demand for ST status

    Syllabus: GS3/Extremism, Challenges to Internal Security, Various Security Agencies; GS2/ Government Policies & Interventions. 

    In News

    • Recently, violent clashes broke out at various places in Manipur during the course of a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ called on by the All Tribal Students’ Union of Manipur (ATSUM).
      • Hundreds of houses, churches, temples, and vehicles were either vandalised or set ablaze & Many were killed during the clash.

    More about the news

    • Unrest at the ‘Tribal Solidarity March’:
      • March was called to oppose the longstanding demand that the Meitei community be included in the list of the state’s Scheduled Tribes (ST), which received a boost from a recent order of the Manipur High Court.
    • Other reasons of unrest:
      • Unrest has been brewing among the hill tribes of the state for a number of reasons.
        • A major reason for the discontent has been the state government’s notices since August 2022 claiming that 38 villages in the Churachandpur-Khoupum Protected Forest area (in Churachandpur and Noney districts) are “illegal settlements” and its residents are “encroachers”.
        • Following this, the government set out on an eviction drive which resulted in clashes.

    Major communities residing in Manipur

    • There are 34 recognized tribes, which are broadly classified as ‘Any Kuki Tribes’ and ‘Any Naga Tribes’.
      • The Meiteis are the largest community in Manipur.
    • The central valley:
      • The central valley in the state accounts for about 10% of the landmass of Manipur, and is home primarily to the Meitei and Meitei Pangals who constitute roughly 64.6% of the state’s population
      • They are currently categorised as OBCs or SCs, the Meitei people dominate in more than half the State’s Assembly constituencies. A majority of them identify as Hindu while about 8% are Muslim.
    • Hills:
      • The remaining 90% of the state’s geographical area comprises hills surrounding the valley, which are home to the recognized tribes, making up about 35.4% of the state’s population.

    Scheduled Tribes status Demand by the Meitei community

    • About:
      • There has been an organised push in support of this demand for at least since 2012, led by the Scheduled Tribes Demand Committee of Manipur (STDCM).
    • Plea before the Manipur High Court:
      • The recent plea before the Manipur High Court was by the Meetei (Meitei) Tribe Union.
      • The ple was seeking directions to the Manipur government to submit a recommendation to the Union Ministry for Tribal Affairs for the inclusion of the Meetei/Meitei community in the list of Scheduled Tribes in the Indian Constitution, as a “tribe among tribes in Manipur”.
    • Why does the Meitei community want ST status?
      • Loss of identity:
        • In their plea before the High Court, the petitioners argued that the Meitei community was recognised as a tribe before the merger of the princely state of Manipur with the Union of India in 1949.
        • They also claim that they lost their identity as a tribe after the merger. 
      • Preserving the community & land rights:
        • It was argued in court that the demand for ST status arose from the need to “preserve” the community, and “and save the ancestral land, tradition, culture and language” of the Meiteis.
          • The Meitei/Meetei have been gradually marginalised in their ancestral land. 
      • Victimization of the community & reduction in population:
        • In various pleas to the state and central governments, the STDCM  has stated that as a result of being left out of the ST list, “the community has been victimised without any constitutional safeguards to date. 
        • Their population which was 59% of the total population of Manipur in 1951 has now been reduced to 44% as per 2011 Census data”.

    Manipur High Court’s order

    • The court observed that “the petitioners and other Unions are fighting long years for inclusion of Meetei/Meitei community in the tribe list of Manipur”
    • Court also directed the government to submit its recommendation after considering the case of the petitioners, “preferably within a period of four weeks” of receipt of the order

    Opposition by the other tribal groups

    • The demand for ST status for the Meitei community has long been opposed by the state’s tribal groups. 
    • Dominance of the Meiteis:
      • One of the reasons cited for the opposition is the dominance of the Meiteis, both in population and in political representation, since 40 out of 60 Assembly constituencies of the state are in the valley.
    • Loss of opportunities:
      • The ST communities of Manipur have been consistently opposing the inclusion, fearing the loss of job opportunities and other affirmative actions granted to STs by the Constitution of India to a much advanced community like the Meitei.
    • Pre existing status & opportunities:
      • Other arguments against the demand have been that the Manipuri language of the Meiteis is included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, and that sections of the Meitei community — which is predominantly Hindu — are already classified under Scheduled Castes (SC) or Other Backward Classes (OBC), and have access to the opportunities associated with that status.

    Scheduled Tribes in India

    • The term ‘Scheduled Tribes’ first appeared in the Constitution of India. 
    • Article 366 (25):
      • It defined scheduled tribes as “such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this constitution”.
    • Article 342:
      • The President may, with respect to any State or Union territory, and where it is a state, after consultation with the Governor thereof by public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall, for the purposes of this constitution, is deemed to be scheduled tribes in relation to that state or Union Territory, as the case may be.
    • Criterion for inclusion:
      • The criterion followed for specification of a community, as scheduled tribes are indications of primitive traits, distinctive culture, geographical isolation, shyness of contact with the community at large, and backwardness. 
        • This criterion is not mentioned in the Constitution but has become well established

     

    For more about Meitei Community, Kindly follow https://www.nextias.com/current-affairs/02-05-2023/meitei-community

     

    Source: TH

    Kaladan Multimodal Project

    Syllabus: GS2 / International Relations

    In News

    • Recently MV-ITT LION (V-273) was flagged off from Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, Kolkata as the inaugural shipment to operationalize the Sittwe Port in Rakhine State of Myanmar.
      • The Port has been built under grant assistance from the Government of India as part of Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project (KMTTP). 

    Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project (KMTTP)

    • It is a massive connectivity project to connect the Haldia port (West Bengal) to Mizoram through Myanmar.
    • The route envisages a marine journey from Haldia to Sittwe port in Myanmar. It will then link Sittwe seaport to Paletwa  via the Kaladan river boat route, and then from Paletwa to Zorinpui in Mizoram state in Northeast India by road.

     

    Significance of KMTTP Project

    • This project will reduce distance from Kolkata to Sittwe by approximately 1,328 km and will reduce the need to transport goods through the narrow Siliguri corridor, also known as Chicken’s Neck.
    • This strategic and important route will further enhance trade, commerce and economic ties with Myanmar, our North-Eastern States and South Asian Countries.’
    • The start of operation of Sittwe port will pave a new avenue for Sittwe to become a maritime hub for Myanmar and enhance regional connectivity.
    • It will help in countering Chinese expansion in the region.

    Another project – alternate route to northeast India

    • India is also developing railway route from Cox’s Bazar deep water port to South Tripura district by rehabilitating the railway link from Santirbazar in India to Feni in Bangladesh, where a road and rail bridge is being built to connect the “Belonia, India–Parshuram, Bangladesh road and rail crossing checkposts”.

    India -Myanmar Relations

    • The two countries share a long land border of over 1,600 km and a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal
    • India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway – The project involves the construction of a 1,360 km road from Moreh in India to Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanma.
    • Operation Sunrise is coordinated efforts between the security forces of India and Myanmar to target insurgent groups operating along the border between the two countries.
    • Indo-Myanmar border is an open border with free movement regime (FMR) within 16 kms on both sides of the border. 
    • India has been investing in Myanmar’s energy sector, including the construction of a gas pipeline from Myanmar to India.
    • India has been providing training and equipment to Myanmar’s security forces to enhance their capacity to deal with security threats.

    Source: Print

    Washington Declaration

    Syllabus:GS2/International Relations

    In News

    • U.S.-South Korea has signed the “Washington Declaration” as a nuclear deterrence strategy.

    What is the Washington Declaration?

    • Purpose of the Agreement:  
      • To protect the Korean Peninsula from a nuclear attack by North Korea. 
    • Provisions: 
      • An American nuclear ballistic submarine would be deployed in the Korean peninsula.
      • A nuclear consultative group would be formed to formulate principles of joint response tactics.
      • South Korea would receive Intel from the U.S. regarding nuclear advancements.
      • The U.S. will strengthen South Korea’s nuclear deterrence capabilities through joint military training programs and an annual intergovernmental simulation. 

    Significance of the Declaration

    • The declaration reaffirmed the non-proliferation Treaty implying that South Korea would not venture into the creation of its own independent nuclear capabilities and would instead focus on deterrence measures through an alliance-based approach.
    • It also mandates the U.S. President as the only ‘sole authority’ to use the nuclear arsenal of the U.S. in the event of a nuclear confrontation. While the existence of the agreement is based on the security needs of South Korea, the policy reflects big power politics where the interests of the larger power (U.S.) takes precedence.
    • The declaration makes it possible for both countries to establish a Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) as it is there between the US and NATO. It would be possible for South Korea through this group to have more control over nuclear response related planning and coordination.
    • The Washington Declaration also demonstrated South Korea’s seriousness to its objective to become a ‘global pivotal power’ through its proactive approach. 
    • It also mentioned the ‘need for peace and stability’ in the water around Taiwan and the status-quo in the Indo-Pacific must be maintained and any unlawful maritime claims, militarization of reclaimed features and coercive activities must not be allowed.
    • Overall, the Washington Declaration is an important step in the direction of creating a more overt and close coordination among the US allies in the Indo-Pacific to deal with not only North Korea but also moves of China and Russia. 

    Need for the Agreement

    • In January 2021, North Korea set forth a plan to add new types of capabilities to the country’s nuclear arsenal. 
    • Next year North Korea started testing more missiles, which forced South Korea and the U.S. to restart large-scale military exercises that were previously halted to incentivize diplomacy, and North Korea responded with even more missile activity. North Korea has steadily added to its stock of  intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching U.S. cities, most recently testing a solid-fuel ICBM and altering its nuclear doctrine to include the option to carry out pre-emptive strikes.
    • In January 2023, South Korea’s President said continued North Korean provocations could prompt the acquisition of nuclear weapons or push the U.S. to strengthen its extended deterrence commitment. 
    • Seoul, then opted for Washington extended deterrence or the Washington nuclear umbrella in the form of the Washington Declaration. 

    Why is the U.S. not keen on South Korea having a nuclear arsenal?

    • Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty: South Korea’s nuclear development programme was hindered due to U.S. pressure. In the 1990s, the U.S. withdrew one hundred nuclear weapons from South Korea as part of their Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. 
      • The U.S. made an erroneous assumption that it could deter the weapons production of North Korea by extracting South Korea’s nuclear capacity.
    • Dilemma for USA: The Nuclear Posture Review 2022 reflects a shift in the U.S. narrative where it is now concerned about the progressing nuclear capacities of North Korea. 
      • North Korea creates deterrence dilemmas for the United States and its Allies and partners, and that a crisis or conflict on the Korean Peninsula could involve a number of nuclear-armed actors, raising the risk of broader conflict.
    • Goal of non-proliferation: The U.S. wants to control global nuclear arms production. It has been reluctant to allow South Korea to develop their own nuclear arsenal as it would hinder the prolonged efforts of controlling nuclear production in the world. 
      • The assurance that the U.S. and its nuclear weapons would protect its allies by being responsible for maintaining stability in the region aligns with the larger goal of non-proliferation. 

    What is the domestic response?

    • The South Korean public is sceptic about U.S. support. A poll by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations reported that 71% of South Koreans want to build their own nuclear weapons. With an aggressive North Korea in the neighbourhood, they would prefer their own deterrence.

    TH

    Amendment in Prevention of Money Laundering Act,2002 (PMLA)

     

    Syllabus: Indian Economy & related issues

    In News

    • Chartered accountants, Company secretaries, and cost and works accountants who carry out financial transactions on behalf of their clients are now under the ambit of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

    Recent Amendment

    • Amendments under the PMLA in line with the recommendations of the FATF.
    • An activity will be recognized under the PMLA if these professionals carry out financial transactions on behalf of their client such as buying and selling of any immovable property; managing of client money, securities or other assets; management of bank, savings or securities accounts; organization of contributions for the creation, operation or management of companies; creation, operation or management of companies, limited liability partnerships or trusts, and buying and selling of business entities.
    • The financial professionals who have obtained certificates of practice as chartered accountants, company secretaries, cost and work accountants would be defined as relevant persons for reporting transactions on behalf of their individual clients.
    • The reporting entities shall be expected to maintain the record of all transactions and would be required to furnish these to the Director (Financial Intelligence Unit).
    • The reporting entities would also be expected to conduct KYC before commencement of each specified transaction and will have to examine the ownership and financial position including sources of funds of the client and to record the purpose behind conducting the specified transaction.

    Criticism of the Amendment

    • Tax experts said given the onerous compliance, and low conviction rate under the law, the inclusion of CAs, CS, and CWAs, was uncalled for.
    • Concerns amongst financial professionals that they could possibly not just face penalty for non-compliance but could also have potential run-ins with investigative agencies like ED.

    Other recent changes

    • Over a month ago, in March, the government had widened the ambit of reporting entities under money laundering provisions to incorporate more disclosures for non-governmental organizations and defined politically exposed persons (PEPs).

    About Prevention of Money Laundering Act,2002 (PMLA)

    • The Parliament enacted the PMLA as a result of international commitment to sternly deal with the menace of money laundering of proceeds of a crime having transnational consequences and on the financial systems of the countries.

    Objectives:

    • The PML Act seeks to combat money laundering in India and has three main objectives:
    • To prevent and control money laundering
    • To confiscate and seize the property obtained from the laundered money; 
    • To deal with any other issue connected with money laundering in India.

    For detail reading on PMLA, Kindly follow this link https://www.nextias.com/editorial-analysis/29-07-2022 

     

    Source: TH

    ‘Food Street Project’

    Syllabus: GS /3Economy 

    In News

    • The Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare reviewed the ‘Food Street Project’ to develop 100 healthy and hygienic food streets across the country with senior officers of the Health Ministry and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). 

    About the ‘Food Street Project’

    • The National Health Mission (NHM) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will provide assistance of Rs. 1 crore per food street as a pilot project to support 100 such food streets at different locations across the country to operationalize the food streets.
      • The grant will be routed under NHM, in the ratio of 60:40 or 90:10, with the condition that branding of these food streets will be done as per FSSAI guidelines.
    • Financial assistance would be provided for activities such as the provision of safe drinking water, hand washing, toilet facilities, tiled flooring of common areas, appropriate liquid & solid waste disposal, provision of dustbins, using billboards, façade preparation and signage of permanent nature, common storage space, lighting, specialized carts for a specific type of trades, branding etc.
    • The initiative will be implemented through NHM in convergence with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), apart from FSSAI’s technical support

    Need and Significance 

    • Street food has been an integral part of the Indian food culture and has played an immense role in sustaining and shaping the Indian food economy. 
    • Therefore the aim of this project is to encourage safe and healthy food practices among food businesses and community members, thus, reducing foodborne illnesses and improving overall health outcomes.

    Other Related Initiatives 

    • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has taken various steps to improve the hygiene and food safety standards protocols for food street hubs. 
      • These initiatives include training of food handlers, independent third-party audits, and certification under the Clean Street Food Hub initiative of the Eat Right India movement.

    Source: PIB

    New York to phase out gas stoves and furnaces

    Syllabus: GS3/ Environment & degradation

    In News

    • From 2026, newly constructed buildings in New York will have to go for induction stoves and heat pumps that run on electricity.

    Reason of phase-out

    • Environmental
      • Natural gas combustion for energy contributed about 34 %of total US energy-related CO2 emissions.
      • Extraction of natural gas from the ground also involves release of certain greenhouse gases.
      • Sometimes, extraction of the gas also includes fracking which has been criticized for leading to water waste and leaving geological structures vulnerable.
    • Health
      • Researchers found that natural gas used in homes contained varying levels of volatile organic chemicals, which are known to be toxic when leaked. These compounds are linked to causing cancer and also have the potential to form other health-damaging pollutants.
      • Burning of natural gas also results in pollutants such as Nitrous Oxide (NOx), this could bring down the overall air quality in a home.
      • Factors such as kitchen size and ventilation also impact this, with a smaller kitchen and fewer ventilation outlets mean greater accumulation of dangerous pollutants.
      • Breathing air with a high concentration of Nitrous Oxides, particularly Nitrous Dioxide, can irritate airways in the human respiratory system.
    • Natural Gas
      • Natural gas is mainly methane and other higher alkanes, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and hydrogen sulphide.
      • It is a domestic fuel as it operates heaters, ovens, boilers, and other appliances while heating our homes.
      • Natural gas is a relatively clean burning fossil fuel, resulting in fewer emissions of nearly all types of air pollutants and CO2 when compared with burning coal or petroleum products to produce an equal amount of energy.
      • Currently, Natural gas makes up 6% of the nation’s overall energy mix.

    Ujjwala Yojana

    • It is a flagship scheme with an objective to make clean cooking fuel such as LPG available to the rural and deprived households which were otherwise using traditional cooking fuels such as firewood, coal, cow-dung cakes etc.
    • It is a scheme of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas for providing LPG connections to women from Below Poverty Line (BPL) households. 
    • Recently the government announced 9.59 crore beneficiaries of Ujjwala Yojana will get a subsidy of ?200 on every 14.2 kg LPG gas cylinder per year.

    Source: PIB

     

    Yanomami Territory

    Syllabus: GS3/ Places in News, Miscellaneous 

    In News

    • President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva-led Brazilian government has promised to speed up the expulsion of illegal miners in the country’s largest indigenous territory, Yanomami.

    Yanomami Territory

    • The Yanomami territory is the largest Indigenous land in Brazil, covering an area of about 96,000 square kilometers in the Amazon rainforest.
    • Yanomami region, stretches across Roraima and Amazonas states in the northwest corner of Brazil’s Amazon, has been a subject of interest for illegal gold miners for decades.
    • It is home to about 30,000 Yanomami people, who live in hundreds of villages scattered across the region.
    • The Yanomami are one of the most isolated and culturally diverse Indigenous groups in the world, with their languages, customs and beliefs.

     

    Yanomami tribes

    • They live in the remote forests of the Orinoco River Basin in southern Venezuela and the northernmost part of the Amazon River Basin in northern Brazil.
    • They live in small, scattered, semi-permanent villages, speak the Ziriana language, and hunt.

    Impact of illegal mining in Yanomami territory

    • The spread of illegal mines and the arrival of thousands of miners has caused a spike in reported cases of diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria.
    • Malnutrition Problem: It is the major cause of these deaths.  Historically, the indigenous people of Yanomami have relied on the forest, birds and animals to feed themselves. But illegal gold mining has destroyed vast patches of the forest, leading to a scarcity of food.
    • Problem is mercury poisoning: Miners in the region “search for gold by mixing liquid mercury into excavated sediment of the Amazon’s rivers”, which has polluted Yanomami areas traditionally used for hunting, fishing and gathering

    Recent Update

    • In January 2023, President launched a crackdown on illegal mining in the Yanomami territory, with the help of the military, environmental agencies and police forces.
    • The operation aims to remove all the miners who are still there illegally and restore the sovereignty and integrity of the Indigenous land.

    Source: IE