Daily Current Affairs – 20-07-2023

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    Unwanted Girl Child: Nakoshi

    Syllabus: GS1/ Social Issue, GS2/ Government policies & interventions

    In News

    • Priyanka Jagtap in her paper, ‘The Forgotten Nakoshis of Satara: A Renaming Programme Examined’ explores the cultural practice favouring sons over daughters.

    About Nakoshis:

    • In many regions in India, demeaning names or names that translate to ‘unwanted’ are given to girls. 
    • For instance, in certain districts of Maharashtra where girl children, especially from poorer economic backgrounds, are given the name Nakoshi, Nakusa or Nakusha (meaning ‘unwanted’ in Marathi).

    Why is there a preference towards sons?

    • Cultural notion: A significant share of people prefers sons due to notions that the family lineage is carried forward by men and that only sons will take care of their elderly parents.

    Impact of such preferences:

    1. The low child sex ratio: In the last few decades, Satara has had a poor child-sex ratio, with only 895 girls per 1,000 boys, according to the 2011 Census, hinting towards illegal abortions.
    2. Demeaning names: A survey conducted in 2011 revealed that approximately 265 females had the name Nakoshi in the surveyed district, which was associated with the disappointment of having a daughter. 

    Child Sex Ratio in India 

    • The Child Sex Ratio (CSR) (number of girls for every 1000 boys between the age group of 0-6 years) in India with an all-time low of 918 in 2011, has declined from 976 in 1961. 
    • However, India’s sex ratio (females per 1,000 males) is expected to improve to 952 by 2036, up significantly from 943 in 2011, according to the Women and Men in India 2022 report.  

    Reasons behind the low sex ratio: 

    1. Pre Natal-Sex Determination: According to a study in 2011, around 1.5 lac unborn girls are killed every year in UP alone. The rate of conviction of the culprits is very low – with only 206 doctors being convicted from 2003-2014
    2. Infant and Maternal Mortality: Due to female foeticide, and death of women during the childbirth due to improper care and less facilities.
    3. Lack of empowerment of women: There is a lack of empowerment of women especially in the rural areas, so they play little role in family planning decisions.
    4. Social status of women: People are worried about the dowry with the birth of a girl child. Due to financial problems, most of the families in rural areas prefer male children over females.

    Steps by Government:

    1. Renaming ceremony organised by the Satara district administration which was aimed to raise awareness about the importance of girls and combat female foeticide as part of the “Save the Girl Child” campaign. 
    2. Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP): Alarmed by the sharp decline in Child Sex Ratio, the Government of India has introduced the BBBP programme to address the issue of decline in CSR in 100 gender critical districts.
    3. Scheme for Adolescent Girls(Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (SABLA): It aims to provide them with life skills education, nutrition and health education, and awareness of socio-legal issues, among other things.

    Challenges: 

    1. The lack of policy implementation, diversion of funds and the failure of monitoring mechanisms: According to the report, nearly 80 percent of the funds for the scheme BBBP has been used for its advertising and not on sectoral interventions such as in health and education for women.
    2. A tokenistic approach: Despite receiving name-change certificates, many of these girls continued to be called Nakoshi due to bureaucratic obstacles and complexities involved in officially changing their names.

    What needs to be done?

    • It is crucial to empower and boost the confidence of girls who face discrimination. This can be achieved through educational support, counselling, and financial assistance for education and healthcare.
    • Additionally, steps to ban derogatory names for daughters must also be taken. The State must collaborate with NGOs to run campaigns against superstitions and cultural norms that promote sons over daughters. 

    Source: TH

    Rajasthan Minimum Income Bill

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    In News

    • Rajasthan tabled the Rajasthan Minimum Guaranteed Income Bill, 2023.

    About the Bill

    • The Bill has three broad categories: Right to minimum guaranteed income, right to guaranteed employment, and right to guaranteed social security pension.
    • Minimum guaranteed income: Each adult citizen of the state has been guaranteed a minimum income for 125 days a year through the Rajasthan government’s flagship Indira Gandhi Shahri Rozgar Guarantee Yojana for urban areas, and through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in rural areas.
    • Guaranteed employment: The right to employment states that post the work in urban or rural employment schemes, the minimum wages should be paid “weekly or in any case not later than a fortnight.
    • Guaranteed social security pension: Every person falling in the category of old age/specially abled/widow/single woman with prescribed eligibility shall be entitled to a pension.
      • It will increase over the base rate in two installments — 5 percent in July and 10 percent in January of each financial year starting 2024-2025.
    • Implementation: The state will designate a program officer — not below the rank of Block Development Officer in rural areas and an Executive Officer of the local body in urban areas — to implement the Act. 
      • The Program Officer shall ensure that the work site is within a radius of five kilometres of where the job card is registered in both rural and urban areas.
      • If the Program Officer fails to provide employment within 15 days from the receipt of the application, the applicant shall be entitled to an unemployment allowance on a weekly basis.

    Significance

    • The law combines employment guarantees for those who can work [both in rural and urban areas] and minimum social security pensions for those who can’t — thereby ensuring a minimum legal income guarantee for all.
    • Several other States too have in recent years introduced employment guarantee schemes for the urban areas but only via executive order. This is the first time the Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme will get legislative backing
    • This is also the first time that social security pensions will become a legal guarantee and a breakthrough in the demand for indexing entitlements for the economically vulnerable.

    Challenges

    • Financial Burden on the state: The scheme will have an additional expenditure of Rs 2,500 crore per year for this scheme, which may increase with time which might create an additional burden on the state.
    • Targeted Implementation of the scheme: The implementation of the scheme in a manner that the targeted group gets benefitted is challenging.

    Way Ahead

    • According to the basic spirit of the Constitution, every person has the right to live with dignity and the scheme has a good intent for providing  minimum income guarantee for crores of vulnerable families across the state.

    Source: IE

    Vilnius Summit of NATO

    Syllabus :GS 2/International Relations 

    In News 

    • The NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius has been concluded .

    The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) 

    • It was founded in 1949 and is a group of 31 countries from Europe and North America that exists to protect the people and territory of its members. 
      • The inclusion of Finland and approval of Sweden as NATO members signals that the Alliance continues to practise Article 10 of the Washington Treaty signed in April 1949 which states that member countries can invite other European countries to become members of NATO. 
    • It is founded on the principle of collective defence, meaning that if one NATO Ally is attacked, then all NATO Allies are attacked. 
      • For example, when terrorists attacked the United States on 9/11 2001, all NATO Allies stood with America as though they had also been attacked.
    • The Open Door Policy is a founding principle of NATO.
      •  This means that any country in Europe is free to join NATO if it is prepared to meet the standards and obligations of membership, contributes to the security of the Alliance, and shares NATO’s values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law

    Key Takeaways of recent summit 

    • The goals were to reach an agreement that Sweden could join the alliance – which Turkey had blocked – and to strengthen support for Ukraine.
      • Both of those goals were achieved.
      • Yet, the one issue that overshadowed the Vilnius summit was Ukraine’s promised membership in the alliance on which there was no clarity or time frame.
    • NATO’s new plans involve maintaining a force of 300,000 troops, with air and naval capabilities, while emphasising the importance of a strong industrial base, leading to the endorsement of a Defence Production Action Plan.
    •  The NATO summit emphasised that the developments in the Indo-Pacific have become increasingly consequential for Euro-Atlantic security with expanding space for Quad countries, along with other regional countries like New Zealand and South Korea.

     The U.S.’s stance

    • U.S. President Joe Biden’s speech at the summit extended unwavering support to the alliance as well as Ukraine. 

    Threat actors to NATO

    • NATO faces threats from China’s malicious hybrid cyber operations, as well as confrontational rhetoric and disinformation, which specifically aim at NATO allies and pose a threat to the security of the Alliance.
    • But even as the summit was on, Russia launched a drone attack on Kyiv depicting an undeterred approach to NATO’s potential expansion. 
      • It is this contestation that is likely to define the future of Eurasian security.

    Implications for India

    • In recent years, India has had limited engagement with NATO, mostly as political dialogues. 
    • India has maintained a strategic silence on NATO’s recent expansion. But it needs to closely watch for scenarios that could emerge.

    Way Ahead

    • NATO appears fortified and ready to face the strategic gauntlet thrown down by Russia.
    • There’s unending economic pain and the leaders have pledged to meet the burgeoning demand for weapons and other military support required by Ukraine to hold on to its territories in the east.
    • India’s global actor role will be tested in view of the new European security architecture led by NATO, and contested by Russia.

    “NATO plus” 

    • It refers to a security arrangement of NATO and the five treaty allies of the U.S. — Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, and South Korea as members — to enhance “global defence cooperation” and win the “strategic competition with the Chinese Communist Party”. 
    • Interestingly, the term ‘NATO Plus’ is not an officially recognised or established concept within NATO itself, but has been used in discussions and debates regarding the potential expansion of the alliance. 

    Source:TH

     Vacant Faculty Positions across Central Universities

    Syllabus: GS 2/Education 

    In News

    • Over 30% of teaching positions are lying vacant in 45 Central Universities across India.

    About Central Universities 

    • In India, “University” means a University established or incorporated by or under a Central Act, a Provincial Act or a State Act and includes any such institution as may, in consultation with the University concerned, be recognised by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in accordance with the regulations made in this regard under the UGC Act, 1956. 
    • Central University is A university established or incorporated by a Central Act.

    Data Analysis 

    • Of the 18,956 sanctioned teaching positions, about one-third (6,028) were vacant as of February 2023
    • A State-wise split shows that 88% of the teaching positions were vacant in Odisha’s central universities — the highest among all States.
      •  Jammu & Kashmir U.T. and Tripura are the other two regions where more than half the posts were vacant.
      • Mizoram and Kerala had the least share of vacancies — 15% or less. 
    • Caste-wise data: Overall, only 20% of teacher positions sanctioned under the general category were vacant, compared to 44% among OBC positions, 38% among SC positions and 45% among ST positions. 

    Reasons 

    • Vacancies in teaching positions arose when the Central University in question was newly founded. 
    • Also, more vacancies can arise in some universities which are located in remote rural areas
    • The vacancies also arise due to retirement, resignation and additional requirements on account of enhanced students’ strength.

    Issues and Implications

    • Lack of appointments and promotions has forced many teachers to leave universities for better opportunities elsewhere. 
    • Skewed student-teacher ratio and instability has forced central universities to underperform, and has also taken away the chance of Indian universities to be amongst the top world class universities.”

    Related Developments 

    • In order to get a window into how Central Universities recruit for teaching positions, the UGC has launched a portal — CU-Chayan, which will ensure that all vacancies are advertised by the Universities on a single platform. 
    • The UGC is also studying recruitment patterns by running back-end analytics to understand the timelines over which universities recruit for teaching positions.

    Suggestions 

    • There is a need to sensitise universities to advertise frequently in order to fill up the teaching positions. 
      • The recruitment cycle for any University takes four to six months.
    •  The government must immediately take the required steps and fill all the vacancies in teaching posts in the central universities.

    Source: TH

    J Robert Oppenheimer

    Syllabus: GS4/ Ethical Dilemmas

    In News

    • The recently released movie, Oppenheimer, directed by Christopher Nolan, is based on the life of Julius Robert Oppenheimer.

    Julius Robert Oppenheimer

    • He was an American theoretical physicist and director of the Los Alamos Laboratory during World War II. 
    • He is credited as the “father of the atomic bomb” for his role in organizing the Manhattan Project in the 1940s, which created the first nuclear weapons.
    • In July 1945, he was present at the Trinity test, which was the first nuclear weapon detonation.
    • In August 1945, the weapons were used in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, which remain the only use of nuclear weapons in an armed conflict.

    Ethical Dilemmas regarding Nuclear Usage

    • However, after witnessing firsthand the devastating potential of nuclear weapons, Oppenheimer became one of the strongest voices against their proliferation and the growing nuclear arms race between the United States and the (erstwhile) Soviet Union.
    • He became one of the most vocal advocates for nuclear non-proliferation. He actively opposed nuclear weapons and worked to curtail their spread. 
    • He found solace and philosophical guidance in the Bhagavad Gita, quoting the famous line “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
      • If it was proper for Arjuna to kill his own friends and relatives in a squabble over the inheritance of a kingdom, then how could it be wrong for Oppenheimer to build a weapon to kill Germans and Japanese whose governments were trying to conquer the world.
    • The main dilemma is: The technologies scientists create can be misused or have unintended consequences, raising ethical concerns.
      • And, the Scientists may face moral conflicts and be held accountable for the ethical implications of their inventions.

    Source: IE

    UN Report on Women Empowerment

    Syllabus: GS1/ Society, Women Empowerment

    News

    • Recently, a new global report regarding progress in human development of women and girls was launched at the Women Deliver Conference in Kigali, Rwanda.

    About

    • The report is jointly created by two UN agencies – UN Women and UN Development Programme.
    • Data is collated from 114 countries and analyzed them based on the twin indices of Women’s Empowerment Index (WEI) and the Global Gender Parity Index (GGPI). 
    • The WEI focuses solely on women, measuring their power and freedoms to make choices and seize opportunities in life. 
    • The GGPI evaluates the status of women relative to men in core dimensions of human development and exposes gaps in parity between women and men.

    Findings

    • None of the 114 countries analyzed achieved full women’s empowerment or complete gender parity.
    • Of the 114 countries analyzed,85 have low or middle women’s empowerment and low or middle performance in achieving gender parity. More than half the countries in this group are in the high (21 countries) or very high human development group (26 countries).
    • Only 1 percent of women across the world live in countries that have managed to achieve both high women empowerment and gender parity.While more than 90 percent of the global population of women live in countries with low or middle women’s empowerment and low or middle performance in achieving gender parity.
    • WEI showed that, on an average, women are empowered to achieve only 60 percent of their full potential. They achieve, on average, 72 percent of what men achieve across key human development dimensions, as measured by the GPPI, reflecting a 28 percent of gender gap.
    • However leadership roles and decision-making still mostly lie with men and are unavailable to women.

    Indian Scenario

    • In the country, women’s empowerment and gender parity were both found to be ‘low’, although it was assessed to be in the ‘medium’ category in terms of human development. 

    Comprehensive Policy action required

    • Health policies: Support and promote long and healthy lives for all, with a focus on universal access to sexual and reproductive health.
    • Equality in education: Address gaps in skills and quality of education, especially in fields such as STEM, to empower women and girls in the digital age
    • Work-life balance and support for families: Invest in policies and services that address work-life balance, including affordable quality childcare services, parental leave schemes, and flexible working arrangements
    • Women’s equal participation: Set targets and action plans for achieving gender parity in all spheres of public life and eliminate discriminatory laws and regulations that hold women back
    • Violence against women: Implement comprehensive measures focused on prevention, changing social norms, and eliminating discriminatory laws and policies

    Concluding Remark

    • The twin indices should be used for tracking and assessment of progress and gaps across countries. They called for policymakers, stakeholders and communities to harness these tools “to take informed action and accelerate the journey towards a more equitable and inclusive world”.

    UN Women

    • UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. 
    • A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established in 2010 to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.
    • Headquarters: New York

    United Nations Development Programme(UNDP)

    • The United Nations Development Programme is a United Nations agency tasked with helping countries eliminate poverty and achieve sustainable economic growth and human development. 
    • It was established in 1965.
    • Headquarters: New York

    Source:DTE

    Bacteriophages

    Syllabus: GS2/Health/GS3/Science and Technology

    In News

    • With antibiotic resistance rising, scientists think bacteriophages — which hunt and kill bacteria — could cure bacterial infections.

    About

    • Outbreaks of viral diseases, such as smallpox, influenza, HIV, and COVID-19 have killed billions and fundamentally shaped societies throughout human history.
    • Scientists now talk of a virome — all the different types of viruses in human bodies which contribute to health, much like the bacterial microbiome.

    What are Bacteriophages?

    • The vast majority of viruses inside humans are bacteriophages — viruses that kill bacteria in microbiomes. 
    • Bacteriophages, also known as phages, are harmless to human cells as they do not recognize them as their bacterial prey.
    • They work by hunting down bacteria and attaching themselves to the surface of a bacterial cell, before injecting viral DNA material into the cell.
    • The viral DNA then replicates inside the bacteria, once enough new viruses have been created inside the bacterial cell, the cell then bursts to release the new viral particles.

    Can phages replace the Antibiotics? 

    • Antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria are now on the rise, with experts saying antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest medical challenges facing global communities.
    • As a result, scientists are racing to find new forms of antibiotic agents, putting limelight on phages as agents to fight bacterial infections.
    • The advantages of phages lie in their effectiveness against every multi-resistant pathogen. Phages are extremely precise in their elimination of bacterial strains as compared to antibiotics.
    • Use of Phages around the Globe: Due to the scarcity of antibiotics in Soviet-era Russia, phages were used to treat bacterial infections, and their use has continued in countries like Georgia, Ukraine and Russia for decades.
      • Georgia has developed into one of the global centers of phage therapy, hosting one of the largest therapeutic collections of bacteriophages in the world.

    Challenges

    • A central problem is that there is no standardization of therapy. Phage therapy must be precisely tailored to the bacteria that cause an infection in a patient.
      • Infections can be caused by bacteria with various properties, so one needs a cocktail of different phages as a therapy, and that mix of phages has to be available very quickly before the infection gets out of hand.
    • The bacteria do also develop resistance to phage therapies.

    Source: IE
     

    Facts In News

    Tankai method

    Syllabus: GS1/Culture

    News

    • The Ministry of Culture and the Indian Navy signed an MoU to revive the ancient stitched shipbuilding method.

    Stitched shipbuilding method (Tankai method)

    • It is a 2000-year-old technique of shipbuilding. The ships are constructed by stitching wooden planks together rather than using nails.
    • It offers flexibility and durability, making them less susceptible to damage from shoals and sandbars. 
    • Although the arrival of European ships led to a shift in shipbuilding techniques, the art of stitching ships has survived in a few coastal regions of India, primarily for small local fishing boats.

    Significance

    • The revival of the stitched shipbuilding method is vital for preserving India’s rich maritime heritage and cultural history. Furthermore, it aims to promote cultural memories and strengthen ties with Indian Ocean littoral countries.

    Source:PIB

    Indian Coast Guard

    Syllabus: GS3/Security

    News

    • Recently, Rakesh Pal has been appointed as the 25th Director General of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG).

    Indian Coast Guard

    • The Indian Coast Guard is a maritime law enforcement and search and rescue agency of India with jurisdiction over its territorial waters including its contiguous zone and exclusive economic zone.
    • Established in 1977 by the Coast Guard Act, 1978 of the Parliament of India.
    • Parent Agency:Ministry of Defence
    • Headquarters: New Delhi
    • Head:Director General Indian Coast Guard (DGICG) 

    Missions of Indian Coast Guard

    • Safety and protection of artificial islands, offshore terminals and other installations.
    • Protection and assistance to fishermen and mariners at sea
    • Preservation and protection of marine ecology and environment including pollution control.
    • Assistance to the Department of Customs and other authorities in anti-smuggling operations.
    • Scientific data collection and support
    • National defense during hostilities (under the operational control of the Indian Navy)

    Source: PIB

    Henley Passport Index 2023

    Syllabus: GS2/ Government Policies & Interventions

    In News

    • India has climbed seven places on Henley Passport Index 2023 to 80th rank from 87 last year.

    Henley Passport Index

    • The Henley Passport Index is the ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. 
    • The index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations. 
    • The Index is brought out by Henley and Partners.

    India’s performance

    • In 2014, India ranked 76 with 52 countries allowing Indian passport holders visa free access but its performance has not been linear. 
    • It ranked 88 in 2015 (visa free access to 51 countries), 85 in 2016, 87 in 2017, 81 in 2018, 82 in 2019 and 2020, and 81 in 2021.

    Global performers

    • Singapore is now officially the most powerful passport in the world.
    • Japan, which occupied the top position on the Henley Passport Index for five years, dropped to the third place. 
    • Germany, Italy, and Spain occupy the second place. 
    • Alongside Japan at the third position are Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, South Korea, and Sweden
    • The U.K. climbed two places to occupy the fourth place, while the U.S. continued its decade-long slide down the index, dropping two places to the eighth spot. 
    • Both the U.K. and the U.S. jointly held the first place on the index nearly 10 years ago in 2014.

    Source: TH

    Universal Postal Union (UPU)

    Syllabus: GS2/International Relation

    In News

    • The Regional Office of Universal Postal Union (UPU) was inaugurated in New Delhi.

    About UPU

    • The Universal Postal Union is a United Nations specialized agency and the postal sector’s primary forum for international cooperation.
    • It was established in 1874, with its headquarters in the Swiss capital Bern, is the second oldest international organization worldwide.
    • With its 192 member countries, it helps to ensure a truly universal network of up-to-date products and services.
    • Any member  country of the United Nations may become a member of the UPU.
    • Any non-member country of the United Nations may become a UPU member provided that its request is approved by at least two-thirds of the member countries of the UPU.

    Regional Office in India

    • Establishment of the UPU Regional Office in India is a significant step towards India’s commitment for South-South cooperation and its active role in global postal development.
    • It will serve as a vital platform for exchanging ideas, experiences and expertise, thereby accelerating the modernisation and transformation of the postal sector. 
    • It will act as a hub for promoting collaboration among UPU member countries in the Asia Pacific region, encouraging innovation and facilitating knowledge sharing to enhance postal services.
    • It will also create opportunities for joint initiatives and capacity building programmes that will enhance the quality of postal services, cross-border e-commerce and contribute to economic development and social well-being.

    Source: PIB

    C-295 Aircraft 

    Syllabus: GS3/ Defence

    In News: 

    • Indian Air Force (IAF) is about to receive the first C-295 transport aircraft.

    About C-295

    • The Airbus C295 is a new-generation tactical airlifter.
    • It conducts multi-role operations worldwide under all weather conditions.
    • It is equipped with winglets and is capable of transporting more payload over larger distances in the hot and high conditions. 
    • C295 aircraft manufacturing plant is set up in Vadodara, Gujarat, which is India’s giant leap towards becoming self-reliant in the aviation sector.

    About C-295 India programme

    • In September 2021, the Defence Ministry signed a ₹22,000-crore deal with Airbus and Space S.A., Spain, for procurement of 56 C-295 MW transport aircraft to replace the Avro aircraft in service with the IAF. 
    • As per contract, 16 aircraft would come in fly away condition, manufactured at the Airbus facility in Seville, Spain and 40 would be manufactured in India by Airbus jointly with TASL.

    Source: TH