Insights Daily Current Events, January 08, 2014

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FROM INSIGHTS MAGAZINE TEAM

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January 08, 2013

NATIONAL & SOCIAL ISSUES

Year End Review of Ministry of Women and Child Development 

CHILD WELFARE: LEGISLATIVE AND PROGRAMMATIC MEASURES

 A. Legislative Measures:

1.  Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012:

Model Guidelines under the POSCO Act, 2012 were issued by the Ministry on 18th September, 2013 under Section 39 of the POSCO Act.  State governments are required to make guidelines for the use of professionals to assist the child in pre-trial and trial stage.  On request made by several state governments, the MWCD prepared model guidelines through consultations. Five Regional conferences on Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 were held from July to September, 2013 to spread awareness on the Act.  The conferences covered all States/UTs.  The participants including officers from Women Child Department, Health Department, Education Departments, SCPCRs, State Judicial Academy, Police Academy, CWC members and officers  of Prosecution Administrative Academy. 

2.  Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006:

Government of India has brought in a more progressive Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 that includes punitive measures against those who perform, permit and promote child marriage. This Act came into effect in November, 2007.As per Section 16(1) of the Act, the State Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint for the whole State, or such part thereof as may be specified in that Notification, an officer or officers to be known as Child Marriage Prohibition Officers (CMPO) having jurisdiction over the area or areas specified in the notification. Under Section 19(1) the State Government may, by Notification in the Official Gazette, make Rules for carrying out the provisions of this Act. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has been pursuing with the State Governments for appointment of CMPOs and Notification of Rules. As per information received from States/UTs, so far, 20 States and 5 UTs have framed Rules and20 States and 6 UTs have appointed Child Marriage Prohibition Officers (CMPOs).The draft Plan is under finalization.

B.  Programmatic Measures:

1.  Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme

The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme is one of the flagship programmes of the Government of India and represents one of the world’s largest and unique programmes for early childhood care and development. It is the foremost symbol of country’s commitment to its children and nursing mothers, as a response to the challenge of providing pre-school non-formal education on one hand and breaking the vicious cycle of malnutrition, morbidity, reduced learning capacity and mortality on the other.  The beneficiaries under the Scheme are children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers.

2.  Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS)

Ministry of Women and Child Development is implementing this comprehensive Centrally Sponsored Scheme since 2009-10 through the State Government/UT Administrations on predefined cost sharing financial pattern. The objectives of the Scheme are to contribute to the improvement in the well being of children in difficult circumstances, as well as reduction of vulnerabilities to situation and actions that leads to abuse, neglect, exploitation, abandonment and separation of children from parent.

ICPS provides preventive, statutory care and rehabilitation services to children who are in need of care and protection and children in conflict with law as defined under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and its Amendment Act, 2006 and any other vulnerable child. It provides financial support to State Governments/UT Administrations for running services for children either themselves or through suitable NGOs. These services include

  • Homes of various types for children;
  • Emergency Outreach services through Childline;
  • Open Shelters for children in need of care and protection in Urban and Semi Urban Areas;
  • Family Based Non-Institutional Care through Sponsorship, Foster Care and Adoptions.

3.  Scheme for the Welfare of Working Children in Need of Care and Protection

The scheme is being implemented since January, 2005 with the objective of providing non-formal education, vocational training etc. To working children to facilitate their entry/re-entry into mainstream education in cases where they have either not attended any learning system or where, for some reason, their education has been discontinued, with a view to prevent their future exploitation.

4.  Sabla- Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG)

The ‘Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG)–‘Sabla’, a Centrally-sponsored scheme introduced in the year 2010-11 on a pilot basis. Sabla aims at all-round development of adolescent girls of 11-18 years(with a focus on out of school girls) and is being implemented in 205 districts from all the States/UTs.

The scheme has two major components: Nutrition and Non Nutrition Component. While the nutrition component aims at improving the health & nutrition status of the adolescent girls the non-nutrition component addresses the developmental needs including  IFA supplementation, health check-up & referral services, nutrition & health education, ARSH counseling /guidance on family welfare, life skill education, guidance on accessing public services and vocational training (only 16-18 year old adolescent girls).

National Youth Policy

Government of India is in the process of introducing a new national youth policy with the vision of empowering the youth of the country to achieve their full potential. The new youth policy focuses on:

  • Developing the youth into a productive work force, by providing them the right to education and skills and promoting entrepreneurship.
  • Developing a strong and healthy generation through effective healthcare and promotion of a healthy lifestyle and sports.
  • Promoting social values and spirit of community service.
  • Effectively engaging with the youth and facilitating their participation in government process.
  • Inclusive policies to take care of disadvantaged sections of youth and the youth with special needs.

The government of India through the proposed new national youth policy also intends to promote ‘social entrepreneurship’ as an attractive employment proposition. This would facilitate setting up of social ventures in India by the overseas Indians.

In India, 27.5% of the population belong to the 15-29 year age group while 41.3% are in the 13-35 years age group.

By the year 2020, the population of India is expected to have a median age of 28 years only as against 38 years for US, 42 years for china and 48 years for japan; making India one of the youngest nations in the world.

EDITORIAL & IMPORTANT ARTICLES

River interlinking projects

  • Recently government defer a decision on interlinking the Ken-Betwa rivers,the first of 30 such projects.
  • The idea of interlinking river projects first initiated in 1972 as a ‘garland canal’ with the Ganga-Cauvery as its central component. In 1982, NATIONAL WATER DEVELOPMENT AGENCY was set up to carry out technical studies to examine the feasibility of 30 links= 14 Himalayan + 16 peninsular.

Issues hindering the projects:

(1)practicability and necessity

(2)hydrological and technical feasibility

(3)rehabilitation and resettlement

(4)general environmental concerns

(5)cost and benefit analysis

(6)lack of clear vision from government

Benefit from the projects:

(1)transfer of water from surplus basins to deficit basins-serves two purpose-

  • availability of water to drought-prone regions
  • relief to areas routinely ravaged by floods

Rational approach:

(1)while environmental concerns deserve the utmost consideration, interlinking should not be served down merely because of the vague and unscientific feeling that it constitutes an interference with Mother Nature.

(2)consider projects on individual merit- factoring in the

  •                           cost and time for implementation
  •                           extent of land to be submerged
  •                           logistics for resettlement
  •                           evolving mechanism for dispute settlement between the ‘receiving’ and ‘donating’ river  States.

Conclusion:

(1)concept is not new- diversion of river waters has taken place since Mesopotamian times.

(2)in India, the Periyar-Vaigai link,the Kurnool-Cuddapah canal and the Beas-Sutlej projects have all involved inter-basin transfers.

(3)abroad, Colorado-Big Thomson  projects are successful .

(4)Supreme Court- in 2002 and 2012- directed the implementation of river-interlinking projects in a time-bound manner.

(5)Come again to Ken-Betwa project

-one of priority peninsular link

-detailed project report has been completed

-tripartite memorandum has been signed between Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and the Centre.

-project has opposition from with in Union cabinet.

INTERNATIONAL

Nepal: Celebrating this NEW YEAR by Empowering Democracy

Learning from the directives of the Supreme Court of India, now Nepal is all set to celebrate its New Year with a set of electoral reforms into its democratic system.

“For democracy to survive, it is essential that the best available men should be chosen … for proper governance of the country. This can be best achieved through men of high moral and ethical values who win the elections on a positive vote.”

In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court of Nepal in its joint bench of justices Kalyan Shrestha and Prakash Wasti issued the order responding to a writ petition filed by two advocates.

With this decision, the ballot papers in coming elections will now have a separate option “None of the above or NOTA” to allow voters to cast negative votes during the parliamentary or local elections.

Citing the provisions enshrined in the interim Constitution, which upholds sovereignty of the people, the writ petitioners had demanded that voters must be allowed to cast negative votes in election. “The current provision infringes on the people’s right to reject a candidate,” the writ petition said.

The court in its order has asked the Prime Minister’s Office, Election Commission and the Ministry of Law Justice, Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary Affairs (MoLJPA) to ensure negative voting provision in the electoral process.

Following the apex court’s decision, Nepal has become the 15th country to ensure negative voting in elections. India, South Africa, Sweden, Finland, France, Belgium, Brazil, Bangladesh, Greece, among others, have introduced negative voting provision in their election laws.

Giving right to a voter “Not to vote for any candidate” while protecting his right of secrecy is extremely important in a democracy. Such an option gives the voter the right to express his disapproval of the kind of candidates being put up by the parties.

Gradually, there will be a systemic change and the parties will be forced to accept the will of the people and contest candidates who are known for their integrity. This will accelerate effective political participation in the present state of the democratic system and the voters will in fact be empowered.

The right to cast a negative vote, “at a time when electioneering is in full swing, will foster the purity of the electoral process and also fulfil one of its objectives, namely, wide participation of people.”

ENVIRONMENT/ECOLOGY

Environment:  Japanese warning and Critical analysis of Fukushima Disaster.

  • The current visiting Japanese delegation has warned India on the critical issue of equilibrating the priorities of development and its environmental impact.
  •  According to Mr. Natsuo Yamaguchi, Japan has experienced a catastrophic nuclear bomb explosion and a recent nuclear accident, which has instilled a greater sensitivity in the Japanese psyche.

A critical analysis of Fukushima Disaster

Even after more than two years, the ghost of Fukushima haunts the social and economic face of Japan.

  • Although the devastating effect of the concurrent Tsunami was far greater, still the nuclear crisis provided an acutely distressing scenario, leaving some 50 workers as heroes, TEPCO as villain and more than 1,60,000 civilians as the victims.
  • Beyond the release of large amount of radioactive materials in the air and water, the reactor core had melted and burned through their containers into the base of the building.
  • Although the worst was avoided, but the total release was equal to half the amount of radioactive materials as was released in Chernobyl. The apparent impact of disaster on Japan’s coastal biota is still a concerning matter.
  • The exact death toll is still unknown, and may be Japan escaped the immediate numbers game, but studies suggest that there might be upto 1300 resultant cancer deaths, with extremely small noticeable effects in Asia and North America.

International Repercussions:

  • In France, the strongly pro-nuclear govt. was defeated with 70 % people opposing the nuclear energy projects. The present govt. promised to radically reduce dependence on the same.
  • In Germany, all the old nuclear reactors were closed and it was decided to completely phase out the rest by 2030.
  • In Italy, Switzerland and Belgium, there was a major referendum against the goverment’s  plan to build new nuclear plants and the respective governments had no other option left except conceding defeat.
  • Malaysia, Philippines, Kuwait and Bahrain abandoned their nuclear plans while Taiwan had to drastically change its nuclear aspirations.
  • China decided to first suspend and then restart its nuclear program with a reduced intensity of approving lesser number of nuclear projects. Moreover, there is an impetus on completely replacing the total nuclear energy contribution with renewables by 2020.
  • In US, some proposed projects collapsed and the proportion of renewable energy generation has already overtaken that of nuclear sources.

Still Countries like UK, Russia, South Korea and India are planning major expansion with a large nuclear program in spite of severe public oppositions in many of these countries.

Final Words:

For a country like Japan, which was planning to expand its nuclear program from 26% to 45% of total electricity by 2030, a shift to zero seems too steep a cliff. It would be very significant and would involve major changes, especially when the challenge is to reduce the Green House Gas emission by 23 to 25%, from 1993 levels, by 2030. A whole new field of renewable options ranging from solar to geo thermal will be explored with a significant up gradation of technology.

Japanese track record of technological innovation is almost incredible and considering that, Fukushima Disaster might have had a destructive effect on Japan, but it might turn into a beacon light for a cleaner and greener future ahead.

Note: For more details on exact sequence of events in the accident, please refer Wikipedia.

Ecology/Biodiversity: 

a) China’s ivory crushing.

  • Two months after US destroyed its stockpile of ivory, China took a significant step towards discouraging ivory trade and poaching, by destroying 6.15 tonnes of ivory seized, in public.
  • It is being interpreted as a move towards shedding its image of as the world’s biggest market for smuggled ivory, which figuratively sits at 70% of global demand.
  • Conservationists welcomed the move as it sent out strong message to the potential customers as well as symbolically enhanced public awareness. Every year huge no. of African elephants are killed and China has been acting as the dumping ground of their tusks

  b) Rare Odonate species found.

  • In Southern Western Ghats, a rare Odonate species was spotted. Odonates are mainly aquatic insect groups who flourish in rivers, perennial streams and meadows.

    c) Canine Distemper Virus(CDV)

  • Scientists at Indian Veterinary Research Institute(IVRI)  have found Canine Distemper Virus(CDV) in the blood samples of dead animals from Dudhwa Tiger reserve, Patna zoo and many parts of West Bengal. According to them CDV is causing deaths of endangered Tigers, Red Panda and Lions.
  • CDV is a common disease in domestic dogs.
  • It affects nervous, respiratory and immune system.
  • Spreads in animals which eat infected dogs and use infected water sources.

  d) Rare bird Indian Pitta

  • At Aravalli diversity park in Delhi, an endemic species of colorful bird Indian Pitta was spotted after 60 yrs. Usually found in Himalayan foothills and Western Ghats, it is distributed all over Asia, Africa and Australia.

Climate Change

  • Tropical storm One hit the coasts of Sri Lanka on 5th Jan. The storm with wind velocity of 100km/hour struck the East coast of Triconamalee.
  • The Disaster management center evacuated people from nearby coastline zone as US Navy  and Air force Joint Typhoon warning center forecasted about the storm.

What is a Tropical Storm?

  • Rapidly rotating storm system.
  • Low pressure at the center.
  • Spiral arrangement of the thunderstorms.
  • Produces heavy rain.
  • Forms over large warm water bodies and derives energy from water evaporating from the Ocean surface.

 Tropical Storm Risk (TSR)

  • TSR is a venture developed that has been developed from UK govt. supported Tsunami initiative project on seasonal tropical cyclone prediction.
  • TSR forecasts to benefit basic risk awareness and aid Disaster management.