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Insights Daily Current Events, 13 August 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 13 August 2015

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Dahihandi is now an adventure sport

According to a recent resolution issued by the Maharashtra state government, Mumbai’s famous Dahihandi, in which a human pyramid is formed to break an earthen pot filled with curd hanging mid-air to celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna, is now an adventure sport.

  • From now on, Dahihandi will be played as per the rules and regulations to be written by a State-level association. It will not be limited to Janmashtami.
  • An association will be formed to write the rules and regulations.
  • Anyone can participate in the sport now, except those below 12 years. Minors will have to provide letters of approval from their parents.
  • Groups playing this sport would be trained and registered.

dahi handi

Background:

  • The decision comes after the Bombay High Court put restrictions on the festival to curb noise pollution and avoid public nuisance. Going by the injuries and the deaths in the past, the court limited the height of the handi to 20 feet and banned minors from the event.
  • The Dahihandi groups in Maharashtra had recently approached the government, seeking a solution. They had even threatened to set up human pyramids in south Mumbai on August 15 in protest.

Implications:

  • Though the pyramids, which sometimes rise upto as many as 10 tiers of Govindas, are integral part of Dahi handi festival, the activity also faces criticism because of the fatal injuries the participants can receive in case of a fall.
  • But the adventure sport status will also entail that organisers ensure that medical treatment is provided if a participant is injured, foam mattresses, harnesses, and guards for knee, chest and head are used, and Govindas are insured.
  • Violation of rules will lead to penal action.

Sources: The Hindu.

Rural job scheme empowered women: NCAER

A recently released report shows that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has reduced poverty by up to a third and has also given a large number of women their first opportunity to earn income in cash.

  • The report was released by the officials of the Ministry of Rural Development and the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), which used data from two rounds of the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) — 2004-05 and 2011-12 — conducted by the NCAER and the University of Maryland.

Important observations made by the report:

  • MGNREGS has reduced reliance on moneylenders and has reduced poverty overall by up to 32% and prevented 14 million people from falling into poverty.
  • MGNREGS has had a much smaller impact on the rural job market and rural wages than is commonly believed. At an all-India level, the average days worked under the MGNREGS are fewer than four.
  • MGNREGS has virtually no impact on rural employment patterns since it fails to add to the number of days that individuals work. But it seems to attract individuals who were previously employed in less productive work, thereby raising their incomes.
  • MGNREGS has played only a modest role in the increase of wages.
  • The part of the rural job market that the MGNREGS seemed to have a more significant impact on was female work. About 45% of female workers were either not working or worked only on a family farm in 2004-05.
  • As a result, there was a substantial increase in women’s control over resources, including cash in hand and the likelihood of having a bank account, and improvement in women’s ability to make independent decisions about their health.

Sources: The Hindu.

Indian sailors get international identity

The Union government has ratified the International Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention, 2003, which will provide for a globally recognised seafarers’ identity document.

  • This move could improve the employability of Indian sailors in international shipping.

Details:

  • The biometric based seafarers identity document (SID) will be developed mainly to ensure a security system to ward off the potential risk of breach of security and possible terrorist attacks.
  • The proposed SID has provisions for bar coding of the biometrics based identity of seafarers and a centralised data base maintained in the issuing country, which can be accessed globally through an inter-operable and standard biometric template.
  • In addition to facilitating mobility of seafarers, the smart card will improve maritime security with a verifiable identification.
  • In addition, this ratification by India will increase the employability of Indian sailors by allowing them to cross into foreign waters unhindered.
  • The Convention, under the International Labour Organisation, has been ratified by 30 other countries.

Every year, several hundred Indian sailors are incarcerated abroad for various reasons, and without proper internationally recognised identification, they do not have the full support of the law. India has over 1.8 lakh seafarers, just around 7% of the global share of sailors.

Sources: The Hindu.

China, Pakistan sign deals worth $1.6 billion to beef up CPEC project

China and Pakistan recently signed 20 more agreements worth $1.6 billion to implement the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

  • The agreements were signed at the CPEC Forum held at Karamay city in Xinjiang province bordering Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

About the CPEC project:

  • The 3,000-km CPEC connecting Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Gwadar Port through PoK is stated to cost $46 billion.
  • This project will shorten the route for China’s energy imports from the Middle East by about 12,000 kms.
  • The project includes building of highways, railways as well as pipelines. It is among the six economic corridors conceived under China’s Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.

India has conveyed its objections to China as it passes through disputed territory. However, Chinese officials defend it as commercial project aimed at improving the lives of people.

Sources: The Hindu, ET.

Memorandum of Understanding between India and United States of America

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister recently gave its ex-post-facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation to establish the Pace Setter Fund – a fund to support the Promoting Energy Access through Clean Energy track of the U.S. – India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) between India and United States of America.

  • This MoU was signed on 30th June, 2015.
  • The MoU will help accelerate commercialization of innovative off-grid clean energy solutions by providing early-stage grant funding, which would allow businesses to develop and test innovative products, systems and business models.
  • The MoU will help cooperation through technical and commercial innovation and advancement of clean energy in off-grid space.
  • The India-U.S. corpus of about Rs.500 million ($8 million U.S. Dollars) has been drawn on a 50:50 sharing basis.

Background:

The Government of India and the United States of America have announced the launch of a new initiative “Promoting Energy Access through Clean Energy (PEACE)”. This ambitious cooperation is a new tract under the U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE), a flagship initiative on Clean Energy that combines resources of several U.S. agencies and Government of India ministries. This has also been listed in the Joint Statement during the visit of the President of the USA to India in January, 2015.

Sources: PIB.