Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (14th to 20th February, 2019)

Government liberalizes the e-Visa regime making it more tourist friendly

 

Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (14th to 20th February, 2019)

(Infographic Summary at the end)

 

Topic: National Policy for Domestic Workers

Topic in Syllabus: Social Issues

National Policy for Domestic Workers

Why in news?

The Ministry of Labour & Employment is considering to formulate a National Policy on Domestic Workers which is in the draft stage. 

 

The salient features of the proposed draft National Policy on Domestic Workers are as under:

  • Inclusion of Domestic Workers in the existing legislations.
  • Domestic workers will have the right to register as unorganized Such registration will facilitate their access to rights & benefits.
  • Right to form their own associations/unions
  • Right to minimum wages, access to social security
  • Right to enhance their skills
  • Protection of Domestic Workers from abuse and exploitation
  • Domestic Workers to have access to courts, tribunals for grievance redressal
  • Establishment of a mechanism for regulation of private placement agencies.
  • Establishment of a grievance redressal system for domestic workers.

 

Other policy measures for domestic workers:

  • The Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 has been enacted for providing social security to all unorganized workers including domestic workers.
  • The Act provides formulation of social security schemes viz life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits & old age protection.
  • The State Governments are mandated under the Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 to formulate suitable welfare schemes for the unorganized sector workers including domestic workers relating to provident fund, employment injury benefits housing, education schemes for children, skill up gradation of workers, financial assistance & old age homes.
  • The State Governments of Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerela, Odisha, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Tamilnadu and Tripura have included domestic workers in the schedule of Minimum Wages Act and the Workers are also entitled to file case before the concerned authorities in case of grievance in this
  • The matter of constitution of State Domestic Workers Board is under the jurisdiction of the State Governments.

 

There is a need for the policy due to the following reasons:

  • Employer-dominated, domestic work industry is characterised by low, stagnant wage rates. Wages are particularly low for Bengali and Adivasi workers.
  • Irregular payment of wages by employer.
  • Extraction of more work than agreed upon at the start of employment.
  • Practice of arbitrarily reducing wages.
  • Private power of regulation enjoyed by the employer.
  • Private nature of regulation has allowed the employer to exercise quasi-magisterial powers over the domestic worker in India.
  • Workers’ attempts to renegotiate their terms of work or to leave such employment are outbid by verbal, and often, physical assaults by employers.
  • Domestic workers are on an almost absolute risk of unemployment or criminalization when they try to obtain their dues.

 

Sample Question:

With respect to National Policy for Domestic Workers, consider the following statements

  1. Its aim is to protect the domestic workers from abuse, harassment, violence and guarantee them rights in the matter of social security and minimum wages.
  2. The policy doesn’t includes social security cover and provisions against sexual harassment and bonded labour.

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 2 only

c). Both 1 and 2

d). Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: a)

 


 

Topic: Cabinet approves Extension of tenure of the National Commission for SafaiKarmacharis

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Governance

Cabinet approves Extension of tenure of the National Commission for SafaiKarmacharis

Why in news?

The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for Extension of tenure of the National Commissionfor SafaiKarmacharis (NCSK) beyond 31.3.2019 for three years.

 

More about on news:

  • The NCSK was established in the year 1993 as per the provisions of the NCSK Act 1993 initially for the period upto 31.3.1997.
  • Later the validity of the Act was initially extended upto 31.3.2002 and thereafter upto 29.2.2004.
  • The NCSK Act ceased to have effect from 29.2.2004. After that the tenure of the NCSK has been extended as a non-statutory body from time to time.
  • The tenure of the present Commission is up to 31.3.2019.

 

Major impact:

  • The major beneficiaries of the proposal would be the SafaiKaramcharis and persons engaged in manual scavenging in the country since the NCSK will work for their welfare and up-liftment.
  • The number of Manual Scavengers identified under the MS Act Survey as on is 14226 and under the National Survey undertaken by Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment at the behest of NITI Aayog is 31128.

 

National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK):

  • The NCSK was established in 1994 to deal with the grievances of persons engaged in manual scavenging.
  • It has a sanctioned strength of four members and a chairperson.
  • It is statutory body established under National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993.
  • It aims to promote and safeguard the interests and rights of Safai Karamcharis.
  • Its mandate is to study, evaluate and monitor the implementation of various schemes for Safai Karamcharis as an autonomous organisation.

 

Background:

  • The NCSK has been giving its recommendations to the Government regarding specific programmes for welfare of SafaiKaramcharis, study and evaluate the existing welfare programmes for SafaiKaramcharis, investigate cases of specific grievances etc.
  • Also as per the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, the NCSK has been assigned the work to monitor the implementation of the Act, tender advice for its effective implementation to the Centre and State Governments and enquire into complaints regarding contravention/non-implementation of the provisions of the Act.
  • Though the Government has taken many steps for the upliftment of the SafaiKaramcharis, the deprivation suffered by them in socio-economic and educational terms is still far from being eliminated.
  • Further the practice of manual scavenging is still prevalent in the country and its eradication continues to be an area of the highest priority for the Government.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following statements are correct with respect to National Commission for Safai Karamcharis

  1. The NCSK was established in 1994 to deal with the grievances of persons engaged in manual scavenging.
  2. It is constitutional body
  3. It has a sanctioned strength of five members and a chairperson.

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 2 and 3 only

c). 1 and 3 only

d). All of the above

Answer: a)

 


 

Topic: Kerala takes the lead in tackling trans-fat hazard

Topic in Syllabus: General Science

Kerala takes the lead in tackling trans-fat hazard

Why in news?

In a first, Kerala’s Health Department has drawn up an action plan to generate public awareness on the harmful effects of Tran’s fatty acids (TFA) in commercially available food items and to encourage the local food industry to meet the current statutory limits set for TFA.

 

More about on news:

  • The draft is expected to be finalized and released shortly.
  • The initiative has been launched by the department as various studies suggest that an unhealthy diet with a high TFA content is a significant factor that pushes up metabolic syndrome and the burden of its associated complications amongst Keralites.
  • The year-long action plan has specific components on building awareness on trans-fat amongst food business operators (FBOs) and giving them scientific sessions and training on how they can keep their food TFA-free.
  • Generating public awareness on the harmful effects of trans fat, especially among schoolchildren, is being given special focus so that the demand for healthier versions of their favourite foods come from the children themselves.
  • Clear timelines are being set as to when each of the components of the plan should be completed and when enforcement should begin.
  • Salt being a major contributor to hypertension and stroke, the action plan also plans to address the high salt content in processed foods, pickles, papads and condiments by encouraging manufacturers to move to low sodium options.

Trans fatty acids

 

Need for alternatives:

  • The food industry is willing to ditch partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVOs, one of the main sources of TFA in industrially produced food) and switch to TFA-free margarine or shortening to produce baked goods.
  • But have to provide those alternative technologies and know-how on re-adjusting their recipes to maintain the taste and texture of their products.
  • The pickle industry is in agreement that good hygienic and manufacturing practices and low sodium options can reduce the salt content in their products.

 

Support for initiative:

  • The department is being supported in this initiative by Vital Strategies, the nutrition wing of the World Bank, WHO, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), and the State Food Safety wing, which will be in charge of enforcement.
  • An experts’ group has been constituted for the implementation of the guidelines on TFA and salt reduction.
  • The action plan has been drawn up after high profile meetings involving health experts and FBOs.

 

More about on Tran’s fats:

  • Tran’s fatty acids (TFAs) or Tran’s fats are the most harmful type of fats which can have much more adverse effects on our body than any other dietary constituent.
  • These fats are largely produced artificially but a small amount also occurs naturally. Thus in our diet, these may be present as Artificial TFAs and/ or Natural TFAs.
  • Artificial TFAs are formed when hydrogen is made to react with the oil to produce fats resembling pure ghee/butter.
  • In our diet the major sources of artificial TFAs are the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVO)/vanaspati/ margarine while the natural TFAs are present in meats and dairy products, though in small amounts.

 

Harmful effects:

  • TFAs pose a higher risk of heart disease than saturated fats. While saturated fats raise total cholesterol levels, TFAs not only raise total cholesterol levels but also reduce the good cholesterol (HDL), which helps to protect us against heart disease. Tran’s fats consumption increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
  • It is also associated with a higher risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, infertility, certain types of cancers and can also lead to compromised fetal development causing harm to the yet to be born baby.

Unhealthy fat

 

Sample Question:

Consider the following statements with respect to Trans-fats

  1. Trans-fat are made by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.
  2. Tamil Nadu is first state to formulate a draft action plan against trans-fat.
  3. The WHO estimates that consumption of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVOs) high in trans-fat leads to more than 5 lakh deaths annually due to cardiovascular disease.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a). 1 and 2 only

b). 2 and 3 only

c). 1 and 3 only

d). All of the above

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic: Operation Digital Board launched to provide better digital education

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Society

Operation Digital Board launched to provide better digital education

Why in news?

Government has launched Operation Digital Board on the lines of Operation Blackboard to provide better digital education in schools.

 

More about on Operation Digital Board:

  • The Minister of Human Resource Development said that Operation Digital Board is a revolutionary step which will make the learning as well as the teaching process interactive and popularize flipped learning as a pedagogical approach.
  • The Operation Digital Board is a revolutionary step which will make the learning as well as the teaching process interactive and will popularize flipped learning as a pedagogical approach.
  • The digital board will be introduced all over the country in government and government aided schools from class 9th onwards as well as in higher education institutions.
  • The process will begin from the coming session of 2019 itself.
  • An expert committee has worked out optimum configuration of the Digital Class Rooms under ODB.

 

Aims and objectives:

  • ODB aims at converting a class room into a digital class room and in addition to availability of e-resources at any time and at any place to students.
  • It will also help in provisioning of personalized adaptive learning as well as Intelligent Tutoring by exploiting emerging technologies like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence & Data Analytics.

 

Implementation in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)

  • UGC will be the implementing agency for ODB in HEIs.
  • UGC in its Commission meeting held on 29th Jan 2019, has passed a resolution for extending digital education to every classroom in the country by 2022.
  • It is estimated that there would be 5 lakh classrooms in the institutions which are aided by Centre or State Governments. Out of this, based on the readiness, UGC proposed to take up 300 universities and about 10,000 colleges in the first phase covering 2 lakh classrooms.
  • Such Institutions with readiness to implement would be preferred. For this purpose, UGC will put in place a Portal for all the public funded HEIs to log-in and opt for the scheme giving details of this facility.
  • For the 2 lakh class rooms, the cost is estimated at Rs. 2000 crores. This can be implemented as a Central scheme, as a loan from HEFA.

 

Implementation in Schools:

  • Digital / SMART board will be provided in all Government and Government – aided schools having Secondary and Sr. Secondary classes.
  • Nearly 1.5 lakh Secondary / Sr. Secondary schools will be covered under the scheme in collaboration with the State and UTs.

 

Sample Question:

With respect to Operation Digital Board, consider the following statements

  1. Operation Digital Board has been launched on the lines of Operation Blackboard to provide better digital education in schools.
  2. Under Operation Digital Board seven lakh classrooms of 9th, 10th and 11th standards and two lakh classrooms of colleges and Universities will be equipped with digital boards in the next three years.
  3. The initiative is aimed at improving the quality of education and offer new opportunities and new ways of teaching and learning.

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 2 and 3 only

c). 1 and 3 only

d). All of the above

Answer: d)

 


 

Topic: Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) launched a new portal LADIS – Least Available Depth Information System.

Topic in Syllabus: Infrastructure

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) launched a new portal LADIS – Least Available Depth Information System

Why in news?

Moving a step ahead towards ensuring optimum use of National Waterways, the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) launched a new portal LADIS – Least Available Depth Information System

 

More about on LADIS – Least Available Depth Information System:

  • LADIS will ensure that real-time data on least available depths is disseminated for ship/barge and cargo owners so that they can undertake transportation on NWs in a more planned way.
  • If real time information is made available regarding LADs in stretches of various NWs, it will help transporters by guiding them on the suitability of time of movement.
  • Initially LAD information will be available for NW-1, NW-2, Indo-Bagladesh Protocol route and NW-3, along with the date of survey.
  • The facility will be expanded to other NWs also.
  • Details of LAD will be fed into the portal by respective surveyors and regional incharge deputed with IWAI survey vessels which constantly move on NWs.

 

Significance:

  • IWAI has designed LADIS to facilitate the day to day operations of inland vessels plying on National Waterways and to avoid any hindrance in service and operation.
  • It will enhance credibility and efficiency of information sharing to achieve seamless operations on National Waterways, besides pre-empting problems that may occur during movement of vessels.
  • Vessel operators/ cargo owners will prepare their sailing plans strictly as per applicable waterways related information (Hydrographic survey reports, River Notices etc.) available on IWAI’s website.

 

Inland Waterways Authority of India:

  • The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is a statutory body under Ministry of Shipping established in 1986 for development and regulation of inland waterways for shipping and navigation.
  • It is headquartered in Noida, Uttar Pradesh and its main function is to build necessary infrastructure in inland waterways, surveying economic feasibility of new projects and also carrying out administration and regulation.
  • As per the National Waterways Act, 2016, 111 waterways have been declared as NWs.

 

Sample Question:

Consider the following statement with respect to LADIS – Least Available Depth Information System

  1. Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology launched LADIS (Least Available Depth Information System) portal to provide real-time information on available depth on stretches of National Waterways (NWs).
  2. It will enhance credibility and efficiency of information sharing to achieve seamless operations on NWs, besides pre-empting problems that may occur during movement of vessels.

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 2 only

c). Both 1 and 2

d). Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: b)

 


 

Topic: WHO issues new international standard for music devices

Topic in Syllabus: Health Issues 

WHO issues new international standard for music devices

Why in news?

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) issued a new international standard for the manufacture and use of musical devices.

 

More about on news:

  • The aim behind the move is to prevent young people from going deaf.
  • Nearly 50 per cent of people aged 12-35 years – or 1.1 billion young people -are at risk of hearing loss due to prolonged and excessive exposure to loud sounds, including music they listen to through personal audio devices.
  • Over five per cent of the world’s population – or 466 million people – has disabling hearing loss (432 million adults and 34 million children); impacting on their quality of life.
  • The majority live in low- and middle-income countries.
  • It is estimated that by 2050, over 900 million people -or 1 in every 10 people – will have disabling hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss which is not addressed poses an annual global cost of $750 billion.
  • Overall, it is suggested that half of all cases of hearing loss can be prevented through public health measures.

 

The WHO’s standard recommendations:

  • Sound allowance function: software that tracks the level and duration of the user’s exposure to sound as a percentage used of a reference exposure.
  • Personalized profile: an individualized listening profile, based on the user’s listening practices, which informs the user of how safely (or not) he or she has been listening and gives cues for action based on this information.
  • Volume limiting options: options to limit the volume, including automatic volume reduction and parental volume control.
  • General information: information and guidance to users on safe listening practices, both through personal audio devices and for other leisure activities.

 

Significance:

  • The WHO has recommended that governments and manufacturers adopt the standard. It has also called on civil society organizations, particularly professional associations that promote hearing care, to play a role in advocating for the standard.
  • The standard for safe listening devices was developed under WHO’s “Make Listening Safe” initiative by experts from WHO and ITU over a two-year process, drawing on the latest evidence and consultations with a range of stakeholders, including experts from government, industry, consumers and civil society.
  • March 3 is World Hearing Day.

 

Sample Question:

The World Hearing Day is held on ……… each year to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world

a). 3rd February

b). 2nd March

c). 3rd March

d). 4th April

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic: Government liberalizes the e-Visa regime making it more tourist friendly

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Governance

Government liberalizes the e-Visa regime making it more tourist friendly

Why in news?

Recently, government has made series of amendments in e-visa regime, liberalizing it further and making it more tourist friendly.

 

More about on news:

  • Increase in duration of e-Tourist and e –Business Visa, Multiple entry among major changes e- Conference & e-Medical Attendant Visas to be new subcategories
  • The e-Tourist Visa which was introduced in September 2014 with 46 countries has now been made applicable for 166 countries
  • The Ministry of Tourism has been working very closely with Ministry of Home Affairs for easing of the Visa Regime in the country over a period of time.

 

What is e-visa?   

The e–Visa is for international travelers whose sole objective for visiting India is recreation, sight-seeing, casual visit to visit friends and relatives, attending a short term yoga programme, medical treatment including treatment under Indian systems of medicine, business purpose, as attendant to e-Medical visa holder, attending a conference/ seminar/ workshop organized by a Ministry or Department of the Government of India, State Governments or UT Administrations etc. & their subordinate/ attached organizations & PSUs and no other purpose/activity.

 

Important modifications made are highlighted as under:

  • Duration of stay in India of e-Tourist and e-Business Visas is maximum upto 1 Year with multiple entry subject to the stay stipulations.
  • Also, the existing restriction of allowing foreigner for a maximum of three times has also been removed

India liberalizes e-Visa regime

 

Changes in e-Tourist Visa

  • On e-Tourist Visa continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 90 days in case of nationals of all countries who are eligible for grant of e-visa except nationals of USA, UK, Canada and Japan.
  • In case of nationals of USA, UK, Canada and Japan continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days.
  • In all cases no registration will be required.

 

Changes in e-Business Visa

  • Continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days in case of nationals of all countries who are eligible for grant of e-visa
  • No registration will be required if the stay is for a period of less than 180 days.

 

Other changes:

  • E-Visa is valid for entry through 2 (two) more designated Airports (Bhubaneswar and Port Blair) raising the total number of such airports to 28.
  • Attending Destination wedding under normal e-Tourist visa or Tourist visa- No separate category of Destination Wedding Visa
  • Foreign nationals who fall sick during their stay in India can now avail medical treatment without converting their visa into Medical Visa. This would take care of sudden medical emergencies.
  • Visa-on-Arrival facility extended to the nationals of Republic of Korea.

Expected outcomes of visa reforms

 

Sample Question:

Recently Government liberalizes the e-Visa regime, with respect to that consider the following statements

  1. Duration of stay in India of e-Tourist and e-Business Visas is maximum upto 1 Year with multiple entry subject to the stay stipulations.
  2. The window for application under e-visa scheme increased from 30 days to 150 days
  3. No registration will be required if the stay is for a period of less than 180 days.

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 2 and 3 only

b). 1 and 2 only

c). 1 and 3 only

d). All of the above

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic: DEPWD Organizes Regional Conference on ‘Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme’

Topic in Syllabus: Schemes and Programmes

DEPWD Organizes Regional Conference on ‘Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme’

Why in news?

Recently Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities implements a scheme titled ‘Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS)’. A Regional Conference on the scheme was organized at Kolkata.

 

More about on news:

  • The Conference was attended by Programme Implementing Agencies (PIAs) from the Eastern and North-Eastern Regions of the country.
  • This is the third of a series of Regional Conferences held across the country and the exercise will culminate in a National Conference to be held on 1st March, 2019 in New Delhi.
  • During the day long deliberation on DDRS scheme of Govt. of India in which the representatives of various agencies shared their views on how the scheme can be implemented better so that the benefits reach the targeted beneficiaries till the last person in the queue.
  • The conference was an effective step towards good governance where the functionaries of the Central Govt.
  • Ministries are reaching various parts of the country for creating awareness among the public.
  • It leads to the ultimate objective towards ensuring welfare of Divyangjan and the dignity they deserve.

 

Objectives of the conference:

  • The objectives of the Conference are to disseminate the provisions of the revised scheme and to sensitize various stake holders about it.
  • This conference also provides a unique opportunity for interactions amongst all stakeholders.
  • The conference would ensure exchange of cross-sectoral views on the aspects of the efficacy of the scheme as well as the scope of improvements in it.
  • The conference would have a profound impact on the implementation of the Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme for the welfare of the Divyangjan.

 

Deen Dayal Rehabilitation Scheme:

  • The Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS), financial assistance is provided to Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) for providing various services to Persons with Disabilities, like special schools, vocational training centres, community based rehabilitation, pre-school and early intervention etc
  • The Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme has been revised for making it more impactful for rehabilitation of PwDs.
  • The list of model projects which have been optimized, includes, Pre-Schools, Early Intervention and Training; Special Schools for- Persons with Intellectual Disabilities, Hearing and Speech Disabilities; Visual Disabilities; Project for Cerebral Palsied children; Rehabilitation of Leprosy cured persons; Half Way Home for psycho-Social Rehabilitation of treated and controlled Mentally ill persons; Home based Rehabilitation and Home Management; Community Based Rehabilitation Programme (CBR); Low Vision Centres and Human Resource Development.
  • It will address the unmet needs of the over 95% Indian citizens with disabilities who have not had access to services so far.

 

The objectives of the scheme:

  • To ensure effective implementation of the Act.
  • To encourage voluntary action.
  • To create enabling environment.
  • To ensure equal opportunities, equity and social justice to persons with disabilities.
  • To empower persons with disabilities.
  • To implement outreach and comprehensive Community-Based Rehabilitation programmes in urban and rural environments.
  • To enhance education opportunities at all level and in all forms.
  • To enlarge the scope of vocational and professional opportunities, income generation and gainful occupations.
  • To support all such measures as may be necessary for promoting formal as well as non-formal employment and placement opportunities.
  • To support people with disabilities in projects which are environment friendly and Eco promotive.

 

Sample Question:

Consider the followings with respect to Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme

  1. DDRS is a Central Sector Scheme of Government of India
  2. It aims to create an enabling environment to ensure equal opportunities, equity, social justice and empowerment of persons with disabilities.
  3. The “Scheme to Promote Voluntary Action for Persons with Disabilities” was revised and was renamed as the “Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) from April 2003.

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 1 and 3 only

c). 2 and 3 only

d). All of the above

Answer: d)


Infographic Summary


Iasjunior Prelims Current Affairs - Infographics - Feb20th