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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 05 March 2018
Topic: Role of women and women’s organization.
India’s falling sex ratio
What is Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB)? The SRB is the number of girls born for every 1,000 boys.
What’s the concern now?
A recent report from the NITI Aayog said sex ratio at birth (SRB) nationwide had dropped from 906 in 2012-2014 to 900 in 2013-2015. In all, 17 of 21 large Indian States saw a drop in the SRB, with Gujarat performing the worst, declining 53 points. Also, newer data from India’s Sample Registration System show the SRB fell even further in 2014-2016, from 900 to 898.
Why is this a unique case for India?
The number of girls born is naturally lower than the number of boys, and demographers speculate that this may be nature’s way of offsetting the higher risk that men have of dying — male babies are biologically weaker than females, and men have historically seen higher mortality rates owing to risk-taking behaviour and participation in wars. This evens out the sex ratio of a population as it grows older. But India is a special case. Its SRB is far lower than 952 because of the preference for the male child. This means we are killing girl children in the womb. As on today, around 63 million girls are estimated to be ‘missing’ in India because of such actions.
Why does it matter?
Low SRBs starting from the Seventies have led to large numbers of “surplus men” today in countries like India and China. There are concerns that skewed sex ratios lead to more violence against both men and women, as well as human-trafficking. In India, some villages in Haryana and Punjab have such poor sex ratios that men “import” brides from other States. This is often accompanied by the exploitation of these brides.
Performance of PC- PNDT:
From female infanticide till 1970s to the emergence of sex selection technologies in 1980s, people have always found ways to have male child. A thriving market for sex selection sprung up with doctors openly advertising their services. In 1994, the government took notice and introduced the Prenatal Diagnostics Techniques Act which punishes healthcare professionals for telling expectant parents the sex of a child with imprisonment and hefty fines. In 2003, when technologies that allowed gender-selection even before conception became available, the act was amended to become the Prenatal Conception and Prenatal Determination Act (PC-PNDT).
By any token, this Act has been a failure. In November 2016, a report from the Asian Centre for Human Rights noted that between 1994 and 2014, 2,266 cases of infanticide were registered in India, against 2,021 cases of abortion under the PC-PNDT, even though abortions outnumber infanticides today. In all, 17 out of 29 States had either not registered any case, or had zero convictions. The PHFI report in 2010 found major gaps in the training of personnel implementing PC-PNDT. Poor training meant that they were unable to prepare strong cases against violators to secure convictions.
Now, India must implement the PC-PNDT more stringently, but must also dedicate more resources to fighting the preference for boys.
- For Prelims: SRB, PC- PNDT.
- For Mains: Falling SRB- concerns, challenges and solutions.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP)
Context: India and Vietnam have signed an MoU on Cooperation between the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP) and the Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute (VINATOM). The two countries had signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement in 2016 and the MoU will enhance training and research collaboration possibilities.
Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP) is located near Bahadurgarh in Haryana. GCNEP is the sixth R&D unit under the aegis of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). GCNEP will help in capacity building, in association with the interested countries and the IAEA, involving technology, human resource development, education & training and giving a momentum to R&D in enlisted areas.
The main objectives of the centre include:
- Mark Development of enhanced nuclear safeguards to effectively and efficiently monitor nuclear materials and facilities.
- Mark Promoting the development of advanced, more proliferation resistant nuclear power reactors.
- Mark Training manpower in the field of Nuclear Security and Radiological Safety.
- Mark Educating in the field of Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems, Isotopes and Radiation Technologies, nuclear forensic.
- Mark Establishing accreditation facilities for radiation monitoring.
- For Prelims: GCNEP.
- For Mains: Nuclear energy partnerships.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Indian diaspora.
Context: The Trump administration has delayed its decision on terminating the work authorisation of H-4 visa users, spouses of H-1B visa holders, till June as it needs time to review the economic impact of such a decision. The extension of decision-making process by four months comes as a temporary relief to the spouses of H-1B visas holders, a significantly large number of whom are Indian workers.
What’s the issue?
Since 2015, the spouses of H-1B visa holders waiting for green cards have been eligible to work in the U.S. on H-4 dependent visas, under a rule introduced by the previous Barack Obama administration.
However, in January 2018, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reevaluated the rule and determined that significant revisions to the draft proposal were necessary.
What Is an H-4 Visa?
H-4 visa holders are immediate family members of H-1B visa holders. Most H-4 visa holders are spouses who want to join their partner in a new country. They enjoy many of the benefits of living in the United States, but some limitations exist. That’s why an H-1B visa is better.
What Are the Rights of an H-4 Visa Holder?
They can live in the United States on a continuous basis. They can also travel to and from the country as needed. H-4 visa holders can either join their spouse immediately or choose to move to America at a later date. They also have the right to attend college in the United States and may even enjoy discounted tuition.
Who Qualifies for an H-4 Visa?
The only people who qualify are dependents. In the United States, those people are spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21.
How Long Does an H-4 Visa Last?
No official termination date exists for an H-4 visa. Instead, the holder of the primary visa, the H-1B, will determine length of stay. When that visa expires, both the H-1B and H-4 holders are no longer eligible for American residency.
- For Prelims: H 4 Visa, H1- B.
- For Mains: Changes in US Visa rules- intent behind this move, impact and solutions.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
Border pact between India and Myanmar
Context: Citing “domestic compulsions”, Myanmar has indefinitely deferred signing an agreement with India to streamline the free movement of people within 16 km along the border.
On January 3, the Union Cabinet had approved the agreement between India and Myanmar on land border crossing to enhance economic interaction between people of the two countries. To give it shape, the Centre had asked four States — Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram — that share the unfenced border with Myanmar to distribute “border pass” to all the residents living within 16 km from the border.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been deferred twice in the past seven months.
Significance of the agreement:
- The agreement aims to enhance economic interaction between people of the two countries. The agreement will also facilitate movement of people on the basis of valid passports and visas which will enhance economic and social interaction between the two countries.
- It is expected to provide connectivity and enhance interaction of the people from north-eastern states of India with those of Myanmar.
- The agreement will also safeguard the traditional rights of the largely tribal communities residing along the border which are accustomed to free movement across the land border.
Need for free movement across border:
There are over 250 villages with over 300,000 people living within 10 km of the border who frequently cross the border through 150 small and large, formal and informal, border crossings. Also, both the countries intend to put a system in place after India raised the issue of movement of extremists and smugglers freely across the border.
What’s the proposal?
As per the proposal, there would have been no restrictions on the movement of people across the borders. The domiciles were to be allotted border passes and those going across for agriculture, work or to meet relatives should carry the pass at all times.
Facts for Prelims:
India and Myanmar share a 1,643 km unfenced border along Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Nagaland (215 km), Manipur (398 km) and Mizoram (510 km) and permit a ‘free movement’ regime upto 16 km beyond the border.
- For Prelims: Border pass, India and Myanmar border, border states.
- For Mains: Need for free movement between the two countries- Challenges and solutions.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Silver copper telluride (AgCuTe)
Context: Researchers have developed silver copper telluride (AgCuTe), a novel compound that exhibits poor thermal conductivity in the 25-425 degree C range but shows good electrical conductivity.
The new material made from silver, copper, and tellurium shows high levels of thermoelectric performance that the scientists are hoping could some day be harnessed to extract electricity from waste heat of chemical, thermal, or steel power plants.
Due to the low thermal conductivity of AgCuTe, one end of the 8 mm-long rod that is contact with waste heat remains hot while the other end maintains cold temperature. The temperature difference is essential for the generation of electrical voltage. At the same time, the material exhibits good electrical conductivity like metal.
The compound, silver copper telluride (AgCuTe), shows promise as a thermoelectric material for converting waste heat into electricity. Potential applications of the thermoelectric technology are in automobile industry, chemical, thermal and steel power plants where large quantities of heat are wasted.
- For Prelims: AgCuTe, thermoelectric technology.
- For Mains: Thermoelectric technology- applications and challenges.
Sources: the hindu.
World Wildlife Day
Context: World Wildlife Day was celebrated on March 3rd.
Theme: “Big cats: predators under threat”.
Big cats are among the most widely recognized and admired animals across the globe. However, today these charismatic predators are facing many and varied threats, which are mostly caused by human activities. Overall, their populations are declining at a disturbing rate due to loss of habitat and prey, conflicts with people, poaching and illegal trade. For example, tiger populations plummeted by 95% over the past 100 years and African lion populations dropped by 40% in just 20 years. But a range of measures are underway to arrest this decline.
In an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible, the expanded definition of big cats is being used, which includes not only lion, tiger, leopard and jaguar — the 4 largest wild cats that can roar – but also cheetah, snow leopard, puma, clouded leopard, etc. Big cat species are found in Africa, Asia, and North, Central and South America, representing a virtually global distribution.
On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed 3 March, the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. The UNGA resolution also designated the CITES Secretariat as the facilitator for the global observance of this special day for wildlife on the UN calendar.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international regulatory treaty between 182 member states. It was formed in 1973 and regulates the international trade in over 35,000 wild species of plants and animals.
The focus of the convention is not solely on the protection of species. It also promotes controlled trade that is not detrimental to the sustainability of wild species. It has become the best-known conservation convention in the world.
How does CITES work?
The convention works primarily through a system of classification and licensing. Wild species are categorised in Appendices I to III. This often reflects species’ threat status on the Red List of the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species first created in 1964.
- Appendix I prohibits trade in species classified as highly endangered. Appendix II allows trade under very specific conditions. This requires exporting countries obtain a permit, but not the importing country. Appendix III species require only a certificate of origin to be traded.
- National CITES management authorities may issue permits once scientific authorities show non-detriment findings. In other words, scientific evidence must demonstrate that species sustainability will not be adversely affected by trade. Where data is lacking, the precautionary principle applies.
- For Prelims: World Wildlife Day, CITES.
- For Mains: Big cats- need for conservation, challenges and project tiger.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
Context: The government has launched the social media of “Namaste Shalom”, a magazine devoted to India-Israel relations.
Namaste Shalom: It is a regular monthly magazine on bilateral relations between the two friendly nations. The magazine aims to strengthen India-Israel relations and provide a platform for exchanging views between Indians and Jews the world over.
DEFEXPO INDIA 2018:
Context: Defexpo India 2018 – an international land, naval and internal homeland security systems exhibition – is being held in Chennai. It will brand India as a defence exporter of several defence systems and components for all three Services – Army, Navy and Air Force.
- This is the tenth edition of the exhibition.
- It is the first time that the defence expo is going to be held in Chennai.
- Till 2016, all defence expos had been held only in New Delhi. It was held in Goa (in 2017).
Pakistan elects its first Dalit woman Senator:
Context: Pakistan has elected Krishna Kumari Kohli as its first Dalit woman Senator. She won the election for the reserved seat for women from Sindh Province. This election represents a major milestone for women and minority rights in Pakistan.
Facts: Earlier, Pakistan People’s Party had elected first Hindu woman named Ratna Bhagwandas Chawla as a Senator.