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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 3 July 2021

Contents

  1. U.S. report on human trafficking during pandemic
  2. Centre’s order on ‘Poshan’ and Anganwadi workers
  3. ‘Heat dome’ causing record ‘Heat waves’ in N. America
  4. Six years of Digital India Mission

U.S. report on human trafficking during pandemic

Context:

An annual study released by the U.S. State Department shows an increase in vulnerability to human trafficking during the pandemic.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues related to Women and Children), GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Human Trafficking
  2. Highlights of the U.S. report on Human Trafficking
  3. Constitutional & legislative provisions related to Trafficking in India:
  4. Prevalence of Human Trafficking problem in India

Human Trafficking

  • Human trafficking involves recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, for the purpose of exploitation.
  • Exploitation include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, or the removal of organs.

How do people get entangled in trafficking?

  • People trapped by traffickers are mostly trying to escape poverty or discrimination, improve their lives and support their families.
  • Vulnerable people are often forced to take unimaginable risks to try and escape poverty or persecution, accepting precarious job offers and making hazardous migration decisions, often borrowing money from their traffickers in advance.
  • When they arrive they find that the work does not exist, or conditions are completely different. They become trapped, reliant on their traffickers and extremely vulnerable. Their documents are often taken away and they are forced to work until their debt is paid off.

Highlights of the U.S. report on Human Trafficking

  • The concurrence of the increased number of individuals at risk, traffickers’ ability to capitalise on competing crises, and the diversion of resources to pandemic response efforts has resulted in an ideal environment for human trafficking to flourish and evolve.
  • The Report said that India did not meet the minimum standards to eliminate trafficking – however, the Indian government was making significant efforts especially when it comes to bonded labour. However, these efforts were inadequate as India still achieved fewer convictions, and the acquittal rate for traffickers remained high at 73 percent.
  • The report said that the Chinese government engaged in “widespread forced labour, including through the continued mass arbitrary detention of more than one million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, ethnic Kyrgyz, and other Muslims” in Xinjiang.

Constitutional & legislative provisions related to Trafficking in India:

  • Trafficking in Human Beings or Persons is prohibited under the Constitution of India under Article 23 (1).
  • The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA) is the premier legislation for prevention of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Criminal Law (amendment) Act 2013 has come into force wherein Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code has been substituted with Section 370 and 370A IPC which provide for comprehensive measures to counter the menace of human trafficking including trafficking of children for exploitation in any form including physical exploitation or any form of sexual exploitation, slavery, servitude, or the forced removal of organs.
  • Protection of Children from Sexual offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, which has come into effect from 14th November, 2012 is a special law to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation.
  • It provides precise definitions for different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative sexual assault, sexual harassment.
  • There are other specific legislations enacted relating to trafficking in women and children Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, apart from specific Sections in the IPC, e.g., Sections 372 and 373 dealing with selling and buying of girls for the purpose of prostitution.
  • State Governments have also enacted specific legislations to deal with the issue. (e.g., The Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act, 2012).

Prevalence of Human Trafficking problem in India

  • According to data submitted by the National Crime Records Bureau to the Supreme Court in 2019, Mumbai and Kolkata had the highest cases of trafficking in women and children, mainly for forced marriage, child labour, domestic help and sexual exploitation.
  • A 2014 Dasra report stated that approximately 16 million women are victims of sex trafficking in India a year, while 40 per cent of them are adolescents and children. And more than 70 per cent of victims are illiterate and 50 per cent of them have a family income of less than $1 per day.
  • Called a top destination for human trafficking, India was once named the most dangerous country for women in terms of human trafficking according to a Thomson Reuters Foundation survey.
  • Aside from sex trafficking, India is also riddled with the problem of trafficking for organs. In 2007, the World Health Organisation described India as a “commonly known organ-exporting country”.
  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau, a total of 5264 cases of human trafficking were reported in India in 2018, where 64% were women and 48% were below 18 years old.
  • The most affected areas are Bihar, Maharashtra, Telangana, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Orissa and West Bengal. People from economically disadvantaged classes, and belonging to the categories of SC, ST, OBC are more susceptible to fall victim to such malpractices.
  • According to data, 95% of trafficked persons in India are forced into prostitution.

-Source: The Hindu


Centre’s order on ‘Poshan’ and Anganwadi workers

Context:

Anganwadi workers in several States are up in arms after a government order threatened them with a pay cut if they did not download the government’s mobile application called Poshan Tracker to record delivery of services by them.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues related to poverty and hunger, Welfare Schemes, Government Policies and Initiatives, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of schemes)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Poshan Abhiyaan
  2. Issues of Poshan Abhiyaan
  3. Anganwadi Centres
  4. About the recent directive to AWs and the issues

About Poshan Abhiyaan

  • The term ‘POSHAN’ in the name of the programme stands for ‘Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition’.
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan launched in 2018 aims at improving the nutritional status of Children from 0-6 years, Adolescent Girls, Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers.
  • According to ‘Mission 25 by 2020’, the National Nutrition Mission aims to achieve a reduction in stunting from 38.4% to 25% by 2022.
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan focuses on convergence among partner Ministries leveraging technology and Jan Andolan among other things, to address issue of malnutrition comprehensively.
  • Near-real time reporting by field functionaries and improved MIS is aimed at smooth implementation of scheme and better service delivery.
  • It also targets stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and low birth rate.
  • It will monitor and review implementation of all such schemes and utilize existing structural arrangements of line ministries wherever available.
  • Its large component involves gradual scaling-up of interventions supported by on-going World Bank assisted Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Systems Strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project (ISSNIP) to all districts in the country by 2022.
  • Its vision is to ensure attainment of malnutrition free India by 2022.
  • Implementation of POSHAN Abhiyaan is based on the four-point strategy/pillars of the mission:
  1. Inter-sectoral convergence for better service delivery
  2. Use of technology (ICT) for real time growth monitoring and tracking of women and children
  3. Intensified health and nutrition services for the first 1000 days
  4. Jan Andolan

Issues of Poshan Abhiyaan

  • Information and communications technology-enabled real time monitoring (ICT-RTM) has been rolled out in POSHAN Abhiyaan districts.
  • This could be ineffective due to the limited capacities of Anganwadi workers (AWs) to handle smartphones owing to their lack of technological literacy.
  • Technical issues like slow servers and data deletion problems, resulting in irregular and improper recording of growth data of children.
  • AWs are the fulcrum of POSHAN Abhiyaan and render vital services to mothers and children in villages.
  • Nearly 40% of AWs had to use their personal money to run the AWCs, 35% of them complained of delayed payments.
  • This makes AWs demotivated and demoralized.

Anganwadi Centres

  • Anganwadis or day-care centres are set up under the centrally sponsored Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme.
  • The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • Anganwadi centres provide a package of six services: supplementary nutrition, pre-school non-formal education, immunisation, nutrition and health education, as well as referral services.
  • The primary aim of the scheme is to reduce infant mortality and child malnutrition.
  • Beneficiaries of these centers will be Children in the age group of zero to six years, and pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • It was started by the Government of India In 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services program to combat child hunger and malnutrition.
  • The beneficiaries under the Anganwadi Services Scheme are identified on the basis of Aadhaar.

About the recent directive to AWs and the issues

  • Anganwadi workers in several States, including Punjab and Haryana  demanded to know who would give them the mobile phones and bear the expenses for recharge as they are now required to download the government’s mobile application called Poshan Tracker to record delivery of services by them.
  • The mobile application and the use of technology for real time growth monitoring and tracking of beneficiaries is the mainstay of the government’s Poshan Abhiyaan or Nutrition Mission.
  • According the protesting AWs, there are nearly 30,000 anganwadi workers affiliated to the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH) and none of them have downloaded the Poshan Tracker application because the government has neither given them mobile phones, nor money for recharge.
  • They are also demanding payment of dues totalling approximately ₹40,000 – ₹45,000 per worker in Punjab, which they say have accumulated since the inception of the scheme in March 2018.

-Source: The Hindu


‘Heat dome’ causing record ‘Heat waves’ in N. America

Context:

Regions of North America including some parts of Canada recorded temperatures around 47 degrees, causing a “historic” heat wave which is a result of a phenomenon referred to as a “heat dome”.

Relevance:

GS-I: Geography (Important Geophysical Phenomenon, Climatology)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Heat Waves
  2. Criteria for occurrence of Heat waves
  3. What is a heat dome?
  4. Impact of Heat Dome and Heat Waves

About Heat Waves

  • A heat wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western and South-Central parts of India.
  • Heat waves typically occur between March and June, and in some rare cases even extend till July.
  • Higher daily peak temperatures and longer, more intense heat waves are becoming increasingly frequent globally due to climate change.
  • The health impacts of Heat Waves typically involve dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke.
  • It also causes heat cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and sweating.
  • The extreme temperatures and resultant atmospheric conditions adversely affect people living in these regions as they cause physiological stress, sometimes resulting in death.

Criteria for occurrence of Heat waves

  • The heat wave is considered when the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C for Plains and at least 30°C for Hilly regions.
  • If the normal maximum temperature of a station is less than or equal to 40°C, then an increase of 5°C to 6°C from the normal temperature is considered to be heat wave condition. Further, an increase of 7°C or more from the normal temperature is considered as severe heat wave condition.
  • If the normal maximum temperature of a station is more than 40°C, then an increase of 4°C to 5°C from the normal temperature is considered to be heat wave condition. Further, an increase of 6°C or more is considered as severe heat wave condition.
  • Additionally, if the actual maximum temperature remains 45°C or more irrespective of normal maximum temperature, a heat wave is declared.

What is a heat dome?

  • A heat dome occurs when the atmosphere traps hot ocean air like a lid or cap.
  • Hot air is trapped by high-pressure fronts, and as it is pushed back to the ground, it heats up even more.
  • The condition also prevents clouds from forming, allowing for more radiation from the sun to hit the ground.
  • A heat dome is effectively what it sounds like – an area of high pressure that parks over a region like a lid on a pot, trapping heat. They are more likely to form during La Niña years like 2021, when waters are cool in the eastern Pacific and warm in the western Pacific.
US-Canada Heat Wave: What is a Heat Dome? Is Climate Change Induced? |  Explained in GFX

How does it form?

  • The phenomenon begins when there is a strong change (or gradient) in ocean temperatures. In the process known as convection, the gradient causes more warm air, heated by the ocean surface, to rise over the ocean surface.
  • As prevailing winds move the hot air east, the northern shifts of the jet stream trap the air and move it toward land, where it sinks, resulting in heat waves.
  • This strong change in ocean temperature from the west to the east is the reason for the heat dome (HD).

Understanding the Heat Dome

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says that to understand what causes a heat dome, one should liken the Pacific ocean to a large swimming pool in which the heater is turned on.
  • Once the heater is on, the portions of the pool close to the heating jets will warm up faster and therefore, the temperature in that area will be higher.
  • In the same way, the western Pacific ocean’s temperatures have increased in the past few decades and are relatively more than the temperature in the eastern Pacific.

Impact of Heat Dome and Heat Waves

  • Those living without an air conditioner see the temperatures of their homes rising to unbearably high, leading to sudden fatalities.
  • The trapping of heat can also damage crops, dry out vegetation and result in droughts.
  • The sweltering heat wave will also lead to rise in energy demand, especially electricity, leading to pushing up rates.
  • The heat domes can also act as fuel to wildfires, which destroys a lot of land area in the US every year.

-Source: Indian Express


Six years of Digital India Mission

Context:

2021 marks the completion of six years of Digital Indian programme.

Relevance:

GS-III: Science and Technology, GS-II: Social Justice (Welfare Schemes)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Digital India Mission?
  2. Vision and Vision area of Digital India
  3. Approach and Methodology for Digital India programme are:
  4. Highlights on Completion of 6 years of Digital India

What is Digital India Mission?

  • Digital India is a flagship programme of the Government of India with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
  • The Government of India approved the NeGP, comprising of 27 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) and 8 components in 2006, developed by Department of information & Technology and Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances.
  • The 11th report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2008), titled “Promoting e-Governance – The Smart Way Forward” called for government to expand its e-governance capacity.
  • In 2015 the Union Cabinet gave its approval for the Approach and Key Components of eKranti -National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) 2.0.
  • This programme provided for the establishment of Common Service Centres for citizens to have an easy access to government services through various applications.

Vision and Vision area of Digital India

The vision of Digital India programme is to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.

The Digital India programme is centred on three key vision areas:

  • Digital Infrastructure as a Core Utility to Every Citizen
    • Availability of high speed internet as a core utility for delivery of services to citizens
    • Cradle to grave digital identity that is unique, lifelong, online and authenticable to every citizen
    • Mobile phone & bank account enabling citizen participation in digital & financial space
    • Easy access to a Common Service Centre
    • Shareable private space on a public cloud
    • Safe and secure cyber-space
  • Governance & Services on Demand
    • Seamlessly integrated services across departments or jurisdictions
    • Availability of services in real time from online & mobile platforms
    • All citizen entitlements to be portable and available on the cloud
    • Digitally transformed services for improving ease of doing business
    • Making financial transactions electronic & cashless
    • Leveraging Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) for decision support systems & development
  • Digital Empowerment of Citizens
    • Universal digital literacy
    • Universally accessible digital resources
    • Availability of digital resources / services in Indian languages
    • Collaborative digital platforms for participative governance
    • Citizens not required to physically submit Govt. documents / certificates

Approach and Methodology for Digital India programme are:

  • Ministries / Departments / States would fully leverage the Common and Support ICT Infrastructure established by GoI. DeitY would also evolve/ lay down standards and policy guidelines, provide technical and handholding support, undertake capacity building and R&D etc.
  • The existing/ ongoing e-governance initiatives would be suitably revamped to align them with the principles of Digital India. Scope enhancement, Process Reengineering, use of integrated & interoperable systems and deployment of emerging technologies like cloud & mobile would be undertaken to enhance the delivery of Government services to citizens.
  • States would be given flexibility to identify for inclusion additional state-specific projects, which are relevant for their socio-economic needs.
  • e-Governance would be promoted through a centralised initiative to the extent necessary, to ensure citizen-centric service orientation, interoperability of various e-Governance applications and optimal utilisation of ICT infrastructure/ resources, while adopting a decentralised implementation model.
  • Successes would be identified and their replication promoted proactively with the required productisation and customisation wherever needed.
  • Public Private Partnerships would be preferred wherever feasible to implement e-governance projects with adequate management and strategic control.
  • Adoption of Unique ID would be promoted to facilitate identification, authentication and delivery of benefits.
  • Restructuring of NIC would be undertaken to strengthen the IT support to all government departments at the Centre and the State levels.
  • The positions of Chief Information Officers (CIO) would be created in at least 10 key Ministries so that various e-governance projects could be designed, developed and implemented faster. CIO positions will be at Additional Secretary/Joint Secretary level with over-riding powers on IT in the respective Ministry.

Highlights on Completion of 6 years of Digital India

  • The data and demographic dividend combined with India’s proven tech prowess presents massive opportunity for the country, and this decade will be ‘India’s techade’.
  • The introduction of Unified Payments Interface (UPI), which introduced the benefits of digital payments in every part of the country. From flourishing businesses to modest street vendors, UPI is helping everyone with payments and transactions.
  • The Electronic Customer Identification System (e-KYC), the Electronic Document Storage System (DigiLocker) and the Electronic Signature System (eSign) were introduced to help businesses streamline their operations.
  • What started as a simple step to kick off the JAM trinity (Jan Dhan, Aadhar and Mobile) to weed out leakages in the system, today empowered the entire vaccination drive for Covid, making India only the second nation to USA that administered 20 crore vaccines.

-Source: Indian Express

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