CURRENT AFFAIRS – 26/10/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS - 26/10/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 26/10/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 26/10/2023

NCERT panel suggestsreplacing ‘India’ with‘Bharat’ in textbooks

(General Studies- Paper I)

Source : TH

A high-level committee established by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to revise the social sciences curriculum for schools has recommended replacing the term ‘India’ with ‘Bharat’ in school textbooks.

  • The committee, headed by retired history professor C.I. Issac, has submitted a unanimous recommendation for the change, and the NCERT has not yet approved it.
  • The committee has also suggested giving equal space to all Indian dynasties in textbooks and incorporating new discoveries in the syllabus.

Key Highlights:

  • Committee’s Recommendation:
    • The NCERT committee, headed by C.I. Issac, proposed that the country’s name in school textbooks should be ‘Bharat’ instead of ‘India.’
    • This recommendation was based on cultural and historical considerations, referencing Hindu texts like the Vishnu Purana.
    • The committee also suggested providing equal coverage to all dynasties that ruled India and incorporating new discoveries into the curriculum.
  • Committee Members:
    • Other members of the committee included ICHR chairperson RaguvendraTanwar, JNU professor Vandana Mishra, and archaeologist Vasant Shinde.
    • Shinde confirmed the unanimous agreement among committee members to replace ‘India’ with ‘Bharat.’
  • NCERT’s Response:
    • The NCERT stated that the syllabus development process is still ongoing and considered it premature to comment on the issue.

Article 1 of the Constitution

  • Article 1 of the Indian Constitution states, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”
  • This article establishes that the official name of the country is “India” in English and “Bharat” in Hindi.
  • Both names are used interchangeably, recognizing the linguistic diversity and cultural heritage of India.

Women, marriage and labour market participation

(General Studies- Paper II)

Source : TH

Women’s participation in the labor market is associated with improved economic prospects and increased household decision-making power.

  • A decline in women’s labor force participation has consequences for their bargaining power within households and impacts a nation’s overall economic progress.

Key Highlights

  • Claudia Goldin’s Research:
    • Claudia Goldin, awarded the Economics Nobel, has contributed to understanding women’s labor market outcomes.
    • Her research has shed light on various aspects of gender disparities in the labor market and the historical and contemporary factors contributing to these disparities.
  • Global Trends in Female Labor Force Participation:
    • Globally, female labor force participation remains relatively low, with a global estimate of 47.3% in 2022.
    • Developing nations have witnessed a persistent decline in women’s labor force participation, including India, where participation decreased from 28% to 24% between 1990 and 2022.
    • Economist Claudia Goldin observed a U-shaped pattern in the labor force participation of adult women during economic growth.
    • The initial decline is attributed to the shift from household and small-scale production to the broader market, coupled with a strong income effect.
    • However, the income effect weakens over time.
  • Challenges for Married Women:
    • After marriage, women often experience a decrease in their labor force participation due to various factors.
    • These factors include limited educational attainment, reduced mobility due to family responsibilities, and societal disapproval of women working outside the home.
  • Influential Factors in Labor Market Entry:
    • Multiple factors influence women’s entry into the labor market, with married women being particularly affected.
    • These factors include religious and caste affiliations, geographical location, household wealth, and societal norms regarding women’s employment.
  • The data from India’s NSSO Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) reveals the significant influence of marriage on women’s labor market outcomes, with a notable decrease in participation among married women.
    • Over the course of nearly two decades, from 2004-05 to 2022-23, there has been a notable decline of 5% in the LFPR, with participation dropping from 50% to 45%.
    • Moreover, the decline in the female LFPR is especially concentrated within the specific age bracket of 25-29 years.
  • What are the factors?
    • Preference for Flexible Employment:
      • Married women often seek employment opportunities that offer flexibility and proximity to their residences when reentering the workforce.
    • Gender-Asymmetrical Professional Costs:
      • Societal constraints result in gender disparities in career choices, income, age at marriage, and family planning decisions.
    • Economic and Social Strata:
      • Women from different socio-economic strata exhibit varying labor force participation patterns.
      • Economic constraints drive women from lower strata to work, while those from upper strata may conform to domestic roles.
    • Impact of Marriage on Labor Force Participation:
      • Data from the NSSO PLFS survey indicates that marriage significantly affects women’s labor market outcomes, particularly within the age group of 25-29.
    • Educational Influence:
      • Women’s educational attainment impacts their likelihood of participating in the labor force after marriage.
      • Women with lower literacy skills are more inclined to work post-marriage.
    • Sectoral Employment:
      • Agriculture remains the dominant sector for female employment in India.
    • Social and Cultural Factors:
      • Social and cultural elements play a significant role in women’s decisions regarding labor force participation.
    • Economic Impact:
      • The economic impact of married women’s non-participation in the workforce is substantial, given their representation among the working-age population.
    • Solutions for Empowerment:
      • Day-Care Services:
        • Inadequate day-care services act as a disincentive for female labor force participation.
        • The quality and accessibility of day-care services need improvement, catering to both formal and informal sectors.
      • Government Initiatives:
        • The government has introduced initiatives like the National Creche Scheme for Working Mothers, which need effective implementation in both the public and private sectors.
      • Women-Friendly Work Settings:
        • The creation of work environments that prioritize women’s needs, secure transportation options, and expanded part-time job opportunities can encourage greater women’s participation in the labor market in India.

What is “U-shaped pattern” in labor force participation?

The “U-shaped pattern” in labor force participation is a concept used in labor economics to describe the typical trend in the labor force participation rate (LFPR) of certain demographic groups as the economy develops and matures.

  • Initial Decline:
    • When an economy is predominantly agrarian and rural, many labor activities occur within households or family farms.
    • At this stage, it’s common for women to be actively engaged in various forms of work, even if it’s not counted in formal labor force statistics.
    • Their contributions might include agricultural work, household chores, and family businesses.
    • As economic development begins, there is a shift of production from these informal, household-based activities to the broader market economy.
    • This transition often leads to a decline in the LFPR of women as their work within the household and family enterprises is replaced by market-oriented work.
    • The decline is often due to an income effect, as household income increases, and women have the option to withdraw from the formal labor force.
  • Stabilization:
    • As the economy continues to grow and develop, the initial decline in female LFPR stabilizes.
    • Women may continue to withdraw from the formal labor force for a period as their economic circumstances improve and family-based production diminishes.
    • However, this decline eventually levels off as the income effect weakens.
  • Rising Participation:
    • As the economy matures further and society evolves, the substitution effect starts to dominate.
    • This effect encourages women to re-enter the labor force as they seek greater economic independence, career opportunities, and fulfillment.
    • This results in a gradual increase in female LFPR.

Unhealthy urban India must get into street fight mode

(General Studies- Paper II)

Source : TH

India’s urban population is projected to reach 675 million by 2035, making it the second-largest urban population in the world.

  • Despite contributing to economic growth, Indian cities are falling short in delivering health, environmental, and equity objectives to their residents.

Key Highlights

  • Health Risks in Urban Areas:
    • Urban residents face multiple health risks, including high levels of air and noise pollution, limited green spaces, lack of sidewalks and parks, and antiquated transportation systems contributing to air pollution.
    • Access to nutritionally poor, unhealthy foods and exposure to toxic chemicals and heavy metals exacerbate health risks, particularly for heart disease and diabetes (cardiometabolic diseases).
    • The lack of physical activity, compounded by these health risks, has led to an epidemic of cardiometabolic diseases in Indian cities.
    • Physical activity is a crucial factor in mitigating cardiometabolic diseases, and its absence contributes to the current health crisis in Indian cities.
  • New Paradigm for Public Health:
    • Addressing cardiometabolic risk factors in cities involves transforming the design of the built environment and provisioning systems.
      • This approach represents a new paradigm for public health.
    • Seven Key Provisioning Systems:
      • There are seven physical provisioning systems globally—food, energy, mobility-transportation, housing, green infrastructure, water, and waste management.
      • These systems significantly impact human health, well-being, equity, and sustainability.
      • Dysfunctional provisioning systems are responsible for a majority of the world’s water consumption, CO2 emissions, and premature deaths.
    • Urban Inequities:
      • The socio-spatial-political design of urban provisioning systems in India, many of which are legacies of colonialism, contributes to and amplifies social inequalities within cities, affecting various groups based on class, race, age, migrant status, and disability.
        • This leads to vast disparities in health risks and outcomes.
      • Given the vital role of cities in India’s future, there is a need for a new narrative that prioritizes health and well-being in urban areas.
      • This approach is reflected in high-level policy frameworks such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the New Urban Agenda, and the Health in All Policies approach.
    • Possible Solutions:
      • The concept of “double or triple-duty actions” is introduced, where small changes in systems like transportation, food, and green infrastructure can have a catalytic effect on health and productivity, beyond the reduction in air pollution.
      • Investments in clean energy and electric mobility in India offer a unique opportunity to reduce air pollution and, simultaneously, contribute to climate and equity objectives.
      • While these investments are crucial, their impact on health outcomes can be limited if not accompanied by changes in other provisioning systems, such as food, mobility, and green infrastructure.
      • Double or Triple-Duty Interventions:
        • Small changes in systems like transportation, such as creating safe walking and biking lanes, can improve physical activity, reduce sedentary lifestyles, and mitigate the risks from air pollution.
        • Regular physical exercise can help counteract the impact of poor diets, particularly those rich in calories and saturated fats, which can lead to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
      • Challenges in Urban Mobility and benefits:
        • Walking and biking in Indian cities are hindered by inadequate infrastructure, including sidewalks blocked by waste, parked vehicles, and street vendors.
        • Health studies suggest that the health and economic benefits of enhancing mobility and active transportation far exceed the benefits of electrifying transportation alone.
        • Promoting active transportation, such as walking and cycling, should be a vital component of clean energy policies, enhancing the economic viability of investments.
        • Encouraging healthy dietary choices can contribute to better health outcomes and economic productivity.
      • Importance of Urban Policies:
        • Urban policies have the power to promote public health and need to be prioritized in national urban planning.
        • Unhealthy diets, reduced physical activity, and air pollution pose a substantial health risk, exceeding the combined risks of drugs, tobacco, alcohol, and accidents.
  • Urgent Action: To combat cardiovascular disease, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes, India must address these health risks as a top priority, necessitating comprehensive urban policies and a determined effort.

Bhutan-China relations and India’s concerns

(General Studies- Paper II)

Source : TH

Bhutan’s Foreign Minister TandiDorji visited China, marking an unprecedented development.

  • Bhutan and China lack diplomatic relations, making this visit by a Bhutanese Foreign Minister a historic first.

Key Highlights

  • The primary purpose of the visit was to engage in boundary talks that had been dormant for over seven years.
  • The talks demonstrated significant progress, as indicated in a joint statement, and resulted in the signing of a cooperation agreement to establish a joint technical team for boundary delimitation and demarcation.
  • Chinese Calls for Diplomatic Relations:
    • During the discussions, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged both nations to establish diplomatic relations and finalize their boundary negotiations.
    • India, due to its special relationship with Bhutan, has expressed concerns regarding the potential establishment of diplomatic ties and a boundary agreement between Bhutan and China.
    • Despite Indian concerns, it appears that both the establishment of diplomatic relations and a boundary agreement are increasingly likely.
  • Bhutan’s Strategic Considerations:
    • Bhutan’s Prime Minister recently stated that the two countries are progressing towards completing a three-step roadmap for boundary delineation and demarcation, emphasizing that no agreement with China would harm India’s interests.
  • India’s Interests and Red Lines:
    • Bhutan’s strong reliance on India suggests that New Delhi has been involved in Bhutan’s efforts to normalize relations with China, ensuring the protection of India’s security interests and red lines.
    • One key red line involves keeping China away from the ridges in southern Doklam, which overlook India’s “Siliguri corridor.”
    • A potential “swap” of territories in the northern valleys, where Bhutan faces intense Chinese pressure, and the Doklam plateau in the west is being considered by Beijing and Thimphu.
    • Another red line may involve Bhutan proceeding cautiously with normalizing relations and permitting a permanent Chinese diplomatic presence while continuing border negotiations.
  • India’s Approach:
    • India is confronted with the challenge of safeguarding its interests in this evolving situation.
    • The lesson from the 2017 India-China Doklam standoff is that India’s interests are better served by collaborating with Bhutan and aligning strategies rather than expecting unilateral concessions from a sovereign nation pursuing its interests.
    • A border deal that addresses Bhutan’s concerns in the north while preserving India’s red lines in the west may not undermine New Delhi’s interests.
    • India should approach the boundary negotiations with an understanding of Bhutan’s reasoning and have confidence in Bhutan’s commitment to considering both India’s and its own interests in any final agreement.

About Doklam Plateau

  • Doklam is a region located at the tri-junction of India, Bhutan, and China in the eastern Himalayas.
  • This area is known for its strategic significance and has been the site of a territorial dispute between Bhutan and China, which, in turn, has had implications for India’s security interests.
  • Doklam is situated in the western part of Bhutan, near its border with the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

The region is characterized by rugged terrain, steep slopes, and high mountain ridges.

What is the Doklam issue?

  • Doklam, or Donglang in Chinese, is a disputed area spanning less than 100 sq km.
  • It is located at the trijunction where India, Bhutan, and China meet and is surrounded by Tibet’s Chumbi Valley, Bhutan’s Ha Valley, and the Indian state of Sikkim.
  • The dispute over Doklam between China and Bhutan remains unresolved, leading to tensions in the region.
  • Bhutan and India both consider the area near the Jampheri Ridge as an integral part of Bhutanese territory, while China claims it as the border.
  • In 2017, a major escalation occurred when Chinese troops attempted to construct a road in Doklam, prompting Indian troops to intervene in support of Bhutan, resulting in a standoff.
  • Doklam is strategically important as it is near the Siliguri Corridor, also known as the “Chicken’s Neck,” which is a narrow strip of Indian Territory connecting mainland India to its northeastern states.
  • The Siliguri Corridor is a vital and vulnerable point for India’s territorial integrity and strategic interests.
  • Chinese interest in Doklam arises from its strategic location, which offers a commanding view of and easy access to both the Chumbi Valley and the Siliguri Corridor, a vital and vulnerable point for India.

The legality of using white phosphorus

(General Studies- Paper II and III)

Source : TH

Human Rights Watch accused Israel of using white phosphorus munitions in Gaza, which poses risks to civilians.

  • Similar allegations of white phosphorus use by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were made during the 2008-2009 Gaza War.

Key Highlights

  • IDF’s Use of White Phosphorus in 2008-2009:
    • Initially, the Israeli government denied using white phosphorus in 2009 but later acknowledged its use, stating it was used only in uninhabitable areas for signaling and marking.
    • The United Nations Headquarters Board of Inquiry report in 2009 criticized the IDF for inadequate precautions in targeting UN facilities in Gaza.
    • The UN Fact Finding Mission, known as the Goldstone Report, condemned the IDF’s use of white phosphorus in civilian areas.
  • Israel’s Response and Court Action:
    • Outrage over the use of white phosphorus in Israel led to a legal case, Yoav Hass and others v. Chief of Staff (2013), prompting the military to abandon its use except in specific situations communicated to the Israel High Court of Justice.
    • The Court recommended considering alternatives to white phosphorus use.
  • International Humanitarian Law and Ethical Concerns:
    • White phosphorus has multiple military applications, including creating smoke screens and incendiary devices for combat situations.
    • Its use in populated areas raises ethical concerns due to the potential for severe burns and suffering, especially among civilians.
    • The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) imposes restrictions on incendiary weapons, including white phosphorus, to protect civilians.
    • International humanitarian law sets guidelines for minimizing harm to both civilians and combatants in armed conflicts.
    • It includes the principles of distinction, proportionality, and prohibition of indiscriminate attacks to ensure that military actions do not excessively harm civilians compared to the military advantage sought.
  • Incendiary Weapons and Protocol III:
    • Protocol III under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) addresses incendiary weapons.
    • It defines an “incendiary weapon” as a munition primarily designed to set fire to objects or cause burn injuries to individuals through flame, heat, or a combination of both, resulting from a chemical reaction of a substance delivered on the target.
    • Certain munitions, like illuminants, tracers, smoke, or signaling systems, that may unintentionally have incendiary effects are exempt from this classification.
  • White Phosphorus and Protocol III:
    • White phosphorus munitions are primarily designed for illuminating and creating smokescreens, with incendiary effects being secondary or unintended.
    • As such, they fall within the exceptions outlined in Protocol III’s definition of an “incendiary weapon.”
    • The CWC comprehensively bans the use of chemical weapons but does not cover white phosphorus when used as an incendiary weapon rather than for chemical warfare.
  • Regulation of White Phosphorus:
    • Protocol III of the CCW does not effectively regulate multipurpose munitions like those containing white phosphorus, which can cause harm similar to incendiary weapons.
    • Strengthening Protocol III would enhance legal and procedural processes regarding the use of such munitions.
    • The use of white phosphorus in warfare underlines the significance of upholding international law, treaties, and protocols to minimize harm to civilians and the environment.
    • Violations of these legal principles can lead to global condemnation, investigations, and potential prosecution for war crimes.
    • Strengthening Protocol III would establish a binding agreement for states, preventing them from exploiting legal loopholes and facilitating clearer enforcement of the rules.

About White phosphorus

  • White phosphorus is a highly reactive chemical compound that exists in several allotropes, with the white phosphorus allotrope being the most common one.
  • Chemical Composition:
    • White phosphorus has the chemical formula P4.
    • It is made up of four phosphorus atoms arranged in a tetrahedral structure.
  • Physical Properties:
    • White phosphorus is a waxy, yellowish-white or transparent solid at room temperature.
    • It is highly reactive and ignites spontaneously in the presence of air, emitting a characteristic garlic-like odor.
  • Incendiary Properties:
    • White phosphorus is known for its incendiary properties. When exposed to air, it ignites at relatively low temperatures, producing intense heat and a bright white flame.
    • It can cause severe burns when in contact with skin and can ignite flammable materials in its vicinity.
  • Military and Industrial Uses:
    • White phosphorus has a wide range of applications, including its use in military and industrial settings.
    • In military applications, it has been used in incendiary munitions, smoke screens, and signaling devices.
    • In industrial contexts, it can be used in the production of fertilizers, detergents, and chemicals.

International Solar Alliance to release report on global adoption of solar technology

(General Studies- Paper III)

Source : TH

The ISA is a collective of 116 member countries aimed at promoting solar technology adoption on a global scale.

  • For the first time, the ISA plans to compile and release a ‘global solar stock-take report.’
  • This initiative is inspired by the ‘Global Stocktake’ of the United Nations Conference of Parties and is scheduled for release around mid-November.
  • The ISA’s focus is on evaluating and accelerating the progress made by countries in solar technology adoption.

Key Highlights

  • Role and Purpose of the Global Stocktake:
    • The Global Stocktake follows the Paris Agreement, which aims to curb climate change and is conducted once every five years.
    • During the Stocktake, countries provide accounts of their efforts to transition away from fossil fuels and adjust their plans if they are inadequate to prevent global warming.
    • It serves as a means to ensure countries are fulfilling their commitments to address climate change.
  • Progress in Solar Investments and Manufacturing:
    • In 2020, approximately $300 billion was invested in solar technology, with around $380 billion in 2022.
    • Much of the solar manufacturing remains concentrated in China, prompting the stocktake to explore ways to diversify manufacturing locations.
  • ISA’s Global Solar Facility (GSF):
    • The ISA, led by India and France, is dedicated to expanding solar installations in Africa.
    • The organization has established the Global Solar Facility (GSF) with three key funds:
      • a payment guarantee fund,
      • an insurance fund to mitigate project risks, and
      • an investment fund for technical assistance.
    • The aim is to boost solar investments in Africa and later expand into West Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
  • Global Solar Capacity:
    • As of 2022, solar photovoltaic installations globally reached 1,133 gigawatts (GW), with 191 GW added in 2022.
    • China, a non-member of the ISA, leads in solar installations with about 350 GW, followed by the United States (111 GW), and India ranks among the top five countries with 62 GW of solar capacity.
  • Solar Energy and its Role:
    • Solar energy is considered crucial for the global energy transition as it is a reliable, dependable, and sustainable source of energy available for most of the year.
    • The ISA, with its focus on renewables and solar energy, is expected to play a pivotal role in promoting universal energy access and a transition toward cleaner energy sources.

What is Global Stocktake of the United Nations Conference of Parties?

  • The “Global Stocktake” is a crucial component of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement.
  • It is a comprehensive assessment and review process that evaluates global progress in addressing climate change and achieving the goals set forth in the Paris Agreement.
  • The primary purpose of the Global Stocktake is to assess collective progress toward the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.
  • The Global Stocktake is conducted once every five years, as specified in the Paris Agreement.

About International Solar Alliance (ISA)

  • The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an international organization established with the primary objective of promoting solar energy and reducing the use of fossil fuels.
  • It aims to facilitate cooperation among its member countries for the development of solar energy infrastructure, thereby contributing to sustainable development and addressing climate change.
  • Formation:
    • The ISA was formally launched on November 30, 2015, during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris, France.
    • The initiative was jointly launched by India and France, and it has received significant international support.
  • Membership:
    • The ISA is currently a collective of 116 member countries.
    • Membership is open to countries located fully or partially between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn (i.e., within the solar belt).
    • Member countries include both developed and developing nations, reflecting the ISA’s commitment to inclusive solar energy development.
  • Headquarters:
    • The ISA is headquartered in Gurugram, a city in the National Capital Region of India.
  • Objectives and Activities:The key objectives and activities of the International Solar Alliance include:
    • Promoting Solar Energy: The ISA’s primary goal is to promote solar energy and its use as a sustainable and clean energy source.
    • Solar Capacity Building: It focuses on capacity-building efforts to help member countries develop solar energy infrastructure and capabilities.
    • Technology Transfer: Facilitating the exchange of technology and expertise related to solar energy among member countries.
    • Financing Solar Projects: The ISA supports financial mechanisms and investments in solar projects, especially in developing countries.
    • Policy Advocacy: Promoting favorable policies and regulations for solar energy adoption.
    • Reducing Costs: Working to reduce the cost of solar technology and making it more accessible.
    • Innovation and Research: Encouraging innovation and research in the field of solar energy.
    • Solar Capacity Addition: The ISA aims to mobilize more than a thousand GW of solar energy capacity by 2030.
    • Solar Applications: Promoting solar applications in areas such as agriculture, water supply, and rural electrification.
    • Solar Risk Mitigation Fund: The ISA has also set up the Common Risk Mitigation Mechanism (CRMM), which includes the provision of a Solar Risk Mitigation Fund to reduce risks and encourage solar investments.