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Current Affairs 3 December 2020 for UPSC Exam

Contents

  1. Government on Stopping Manual Scavenging
  2. Jharkhand Govt. on chewing or smoking tobacco
  3. Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre
  4. China buys first Indian rice in decades amid scarce supply

GOVERNMENT ON STOPPING MANUAL SCAVENGING

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • Recently, the government has announced two major initiatives for ending the hazardous practice of manual cleaning of septic tanks and sewer lines and making the mechanized cleaning must.
  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment will amend the law for making machine cleaning mandatory, whereas the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge.
  • Manual scavenging is defined as “the removal of human excrement from public streets and dry latrines, cleaning septic tanks, gutters and sewers”.

Details

  • Introduction of ‘The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020’ as a part of Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry’s National Action Plan.
  • The Plan aims to modernise existing sewage system and coverage of non-sewered areas; setting up of faecal sludge and septage management system for mechanised cleaning of septic tanks, transportation and treatment of faecal sludge; equipping the municipalities, and setting up of Sanitation Response Units with help lines.
  • The Bill proposes to completely mechanise sewer cleaning and provide better protection at work and compensation in case of accidents.
  • The Bill proposes to make the law banning manual scavenging more stringent by increasing the imprisonment term and the fine amount.
  • The funds will be provided directly to the sanitation workers and not to the municipalities or contractors to purchase the machinery.

Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge

  • Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge across 243 Cities to ensure that no life of any sewer or septic tank cleaner is ever lost again owing to the issue of ‘hazardous cleaning’.
  • The Challenge was launched on the occasion of World Toilet Day.
  • Aims to prevent ‘hazardous cleaning’ of sewers and septic tanks and promoting their mechanized cleaning.
  • Representatives from 243 cities across the country took a pledge to mechanize all sewer and septic tank cleaning operations by 30th April 2021.
  • The initiative is in line with the core of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U)
  • The actual on-ground assessment of participating cities will be conducted in May 2021 by an independent agency and results of the same will be declared on 15 August 2021.
  • Cities will be awarded in three sub-categories – with population of more than 10 lakhs, 3-10 lakhs and upto 3 lakhs, with a total prize money of ₹52 crores to be given to winning cities across all categories.

Why is manual scavenging still a concern after so many years?

  • A number of independent surveys have talked about the continued reluctance on the part of state governments to admit that the practice prevails under their watch.
  • Many times, local bodies outsource sewer cleaning tasks to private contractors. However, many of them fly-by-night operators, do not maintain proper rolls of sanitation workers. In case after case of workers being asphyxiated to death, these contractors have denied any association with the deceased.
  • The practice is also driven by caste, class and income divides. It is linked to India’s caste system where so-called lower castes are expected to perform this job. It is linked to India’s caste system where so-called lower castes are expected to perform this job.

-Source: Indian Express


JHARKHAND GOVT. ON CHEWING OR SMOKING TOBACCO

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

The Jharkhand government will make it mandatory for government job-seekers to give an undertaking through affidavits stating that he or she will refrain from chewing or smoking tobacco.

Details

  • During a meeting of Tobacco Control Co-ordination Committee, it was decided that the shops selling tobacco products cannot sell other edible items such as tea and biscuits.
  • Although the Tobacco Control Act is already in place in Jharkhand but only 150 traders have secured licences.
  • During the meeting, it was decided that Ranchi, Dhanbad, Bokaro, Khunti, Saraikela-Kharsawan and Hazaribagh would be declared as tobacco -free districts.

Important Steps taken to Control Tobacco use in India

Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003

  • India ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in 2004.
  • Replaced the Cigarettes Act of 1975 (largely limited to statutory warnings- ‘Cigarette Smoking is Injurious to Health’ to be displayed on cigarette packs and advertisements. It did not include non-cigarettes).
  • The 2003 Act also included cigars, bidis, cheroots, pipe tobacco, hookah, chewing tobacco, pan masala, and gutka.

National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP), 2008

  • NTCP is implemented through a three-tier structure, i.e. (i) National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC) at Central level (ii) State Tobacco Control Cell (STCC) at State level & (iii) District Tobacco Control Cell (DTCC) at District level.
  • The objective is to control tobacco consumption and minimize tobacco consumption related deaths.

Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2020

The rules provide for new sets of specified health warnings with enhanced pictorial images to be printed on all tobacco products.

-Source: The New Indian Express


NAVY’S INFORMATION MANAGEMENT AND ANALYSIS CENTRE

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

The Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC), the nodal agency for maritime data fusion set up after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, will soon become a National Maritime Domain Awareness (NDMA) centre, with all stakeholders having their presence there.

Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC)

  • The Indian Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) was approved in 2012 and operationalized in 2014.
  • Located at the Gurugram Air Force Station it is the nodal centre that links information from the high seas and Indian’s coastline and island territories.
  • The Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean region (IFC–IOR), was set up in the IMAC in 2018, as a regional information coordination body, that coordinates with 21 partner countries and 22 multi-national agencies.
  • The need to set up such a surveillance and information management system was felt following the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
  • IMAC tracks only non-military shipping, whereas the Directorate of Naval Operations tracks military vessels on another classified network.

-Source: The Hindu


CHINA BUYS FIRST INDIAN RICE IN DECADES AMID SCARCE SUPPLY

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

China has begun importing Indian rice for the first time in at least three decades due to tightening supplies from Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam and an offer of sharply discounted prices.

Highlights

  • India is the world’s biggest rice exporter and China the biggest importer.
  • Beijing buys in around 4 million tonnes a year but has avoided purchases from India, citing quality issues.
  • The rice imports come despite political tensions over a border dispute in the Himalayas which erupted into a clash in June in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.
  • China’s traditional suppliers, such as Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Pakistan, have limited surplus supplies for export and were quoting at least $30 per tonne more compared with Indian prices.
  • Thailand, the world’s second-largest rice exporter and key supplier to China, suffered a drought this year that has affected the rice crop. Its shipments in 2020 could fall to 6.5 million tonnes, the lowest in 20 years.

India’s rice trade

  • India emerged the world’s largest rice exporter in 2011-12, displacing Thailand from its leadership position.
  • As opposed to exports of around 1,00,000 tons of non-basmati rice in 2010-11, exports soared to 4 million tons in 2011-12.
  • Exports of basmati rice in those two years stood at 2.3 and 3.2 million tons respectively.
  • The continuous increase in exports of non-basmati varieties since then, to 8.2 million tons in 2014-15.
  • After a fall to 6.4 million tons in the subsequent year, a rise again to 8.6 million tons in 2017-18.
  • The consequent increase in domestic prices obviously reduced the incentive to sell in export markets rather than to the government or in the local market.
  • India was a major beneficiary, recording a sharp increase in exports of non-basmati varieties.
  • India’s share in world exports in recent years (2014-18) has stayed at 25-26 per cent, Thailand’s has fluctuated between 22 and 25 per cent, and Vietnam’s between 13 and 16 per cent.

Concern of Rice trade not helping the farmers

  • Domestic demand for rice has remained below domestic availability, despite the rising share of exports to domestic production.
  • This subdued demand hits farmers, who find cultivation increasingly unviable despite rising rice exports.
  • Moreover, the benefit of a “disciplining” international price does not seem to have accrued to consumers.
  • Retail prices in all metropolitan cities have remained well above the export price showing high and rising distribution margins.
  • So, the liberalization of the rice trade seems to have benefited only one section, the merchant capitalists, and not the actual producers or consumers

-Source: The Hindu

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