Society Current Affairs Updates for UPSC IAS Prelims 2024 Examination

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Society Current Affairs Updates for UPSC IAS Prelims 2024 Examination

On this page you will find all the updates related to the subject Society for UPSC IAS Prelims 2024 examination.

  • The court’s decision on “Annadhanam” and “Angapradakshanam”

    Source: The post the court’s decision on “Annadhanam” and “Angapradakshanam”has been created, based on the article “Human dignity versus religious practices” published in “The Hindu” on 25th June 2024

    UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper1-society and GS paper 2-Indian constitution

    Context: The article discusses a court ruling allowing a religious practice of rolling on leftover plantain leaves for spiritual benefits. It explores the legal conflict between religious customs and human rights, emphasizing the need for rationality and human dignity in such practices.

    What was the court’s decision on “Annadhanam” and “Angapradakshanam”?

    1. The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court permitted the continuation of “annadhanam” (free food offering) and “angapradakshanam” (ritual rolling on plantain leaves) at Nerur Sathguru Sadasiva Brahmendral’s resting place.
    2. The court ruled that these practices are fundamental religious rights under the Constitution, specifically citing Articles 14, 19, 21, and 25.
    3. Justice Swaminathan overturned a previous 2015 Division Bench decision that had halted the practice, criticizing it for not involving all necessary parties, such as devotees and trustees.

    How did Justice Swaminathan’s ruling differ?

    1. Inclusion of Necessary Parties: Justice Swaminathan argued that the 2015 Division Bench’s order was flawed because it did not include or hear the necessary parties, such as the devotees and trustees of the Adhistanam.
    2. Fundamental Rights: He invoked Article 25(1) of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion. He argued that the right to privacy includes “spiritual orientation” similar to how it includes gender and sexual orientation.
    3. Promotion of Communal Harmony: Swaminathan highlighted that the practice at Nerur involved all devotees, regardless of caste, which promotes communal harmony and social integration.
    4. Citing Religious Texts: He referenced the Mahabharata to support the belief that spiritual benefits are conferred by rolling on leftover food, thereby justifying the practice.
    5. Contrast with Karnataka Case: Swaminathan negated the Supreme Court order by noting that the Karnataka case involved only Brahmins’ leftovers, which were rolled over by persons of other communities. In contrast, at Nerur, all devotees participated regardless of community. He observed that the practice points to communal amity and social integration.

    What are the broader implications?

    1. Conflict Between Rights: The case highlights the tension between religious freedoms under Article 25(1) and human dignity and equality under Articles 14 and 21.
    2. Cultural Relativism vs. Universalism: Justice Swaminathan’s ruling favors cultural practices over universal human rights standards, as seen with communal participation in angapradakshanam.
    3. Judicial Precedents: The decision contrasts with a Supreme Court stay on a similar practice in Karnataka, stressing the need for consistent judicial approaches.
    4. Health and Morality Concerns: Rolling on leftover plantain leaves raises public health issues, as previously noted in the Karnataka case.
    5. Scientific Temper: The judgment raises questions about the state’s role in promoting rationality and scientific inquiry over traditional practices that may be superstitious or harmful.

    Question for practice:

    Examine Justice Swaminathan’s rationale in overturning the 2015 Division Bench decision regarding “annadhanam” and “angapradakshanam” at Nerur Sathguru Sadasiva Brahmendral’s resting place.

  • India faces age-related discrimination at work

    Source: The post India faces age-related discrimination at work has been created, based on the article “The ageism debate: India will gain from raising the retirement age” published in “Business standard” on 7th June 2024.

    UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 1- social issue and GS Paper 3- economy-employment

    Context:  The article discusses how both young and older workers in India face age-related discrimination at work. It highlights how such issues might grow as India’s population ages. It suggests considering raising the retirement age to utilize the experience of older workers more effectively.

    What is the Demographic Projection for India?

    The UN Population Fund projects a sharp rise in the elderly population’s growth rate, from 35.5% (2011-21) to 41% (2021-31). By 2046, the elderly population will surpass children under 15 years.

    What is Age-Related Discrimination in Indian Workplaces?

    Prevalence: 40% of employees experienced or witnessed age-related discrimination.

    Younger vs. Older Workers: 42% of employees below 55 faced discrimination, compared to 29% of those over 55.

    Compensation Issues: 32% of employees under 35 feel inadequately compensated.

    Job Advertisements: 61% report age or experience criteria in job ads, with multinationals leading this trend.

    Gender Disparity: 42% of women report discrimination, compared to 37% of men.

    How Does India’s Retirement Age Compare Globally?

    1. India’s retirement age is 58-60 for most workers, with 70 for whole-time directors and 75 for non-executive directors.
    2. Advanced countries like Iceland, Australia, Spain, and Italy set retirement ages at 66-67.
    3. France faced protests over proposals to raise the pension age from 62 to 64.
    4. Singapore recently raised the retirement age from 63 to 64 and the re-employment age from 68 to 69.

    What should be done?

    Raise Retirement Age: Increase the retirement age to benefit from older workers’ experience. India’s current retirement age is 58-60 years, while countries like Iceland and Australia set it at 66-67 years.

    Prepare for Demographic Changes: Plan for an ageing population. The UNPF projects the elderly population will surpass children by 2046, necessitating policy adjustments.

    Question for practice:

    Discuss the potential impact of raising the retirement age in India on addressing age-related discrimination and leveraging the experience of older workers in the workforce.

  • Gender equality important in energy development

    Source: The post gender equality important in energy development has been created, based on the article “Gender equality as the plank of sustainable development” published in “The Hindu” on 9th March 2024.

    UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 1 – Society- Social empowerment and GS Paper 3 – Economy -Infrastructure – Energy

    News: This article discusses how gender equality and women’s involvement are crucial for sustainable energy development.

    Why is gender equality important in energy development?

    Crucial Role in Household Energy Management: Women primarily manage household energy for cooking, heating, and lighting, showing their integral role in energy consumption.

    Impact of Energy Inequality on Health: Limited access to clean energy forces women to use harmful alternatives like biomass, leading to significant health risks and deaths.

    Economic and Environmental Benefits: Gender equality in the energy sector can drive economic growth and environmental sustainability.

    Innovative Solutions and Productivity: Increasing women’s participation in energy can lead to more innovative approaches, improved productivity, and enhanced social outcomes.

    Global Impact: Closing the gender gap could boost global GDP by trillions of dollars, showing the vast potential of women’s empowerment in energy.

    What are the challenges in achieving gender equality in the energy sector?

    Limited Energy Infrastructure Access: Women often receive energy access last, impacting their ability to manage household energy needs efficiently.

    Reliance on Harmful Energy Sources: Due to inadequate access to modern energy, women resort to using traditional sources like biomass and kerosene. This leads to significant health risks, with household air pollution causing 3.2 million premature deaths annually, 60% of whom are women and children.

    Low Representation in the Energy Sector: The energy sector is not gender diverse. Only 32% of employees in renewable energy and 22% overall are women, compared to 48% in the global workforce. In India, only 10% of technical energy jobs are held by women.

    Educational and Skill Disparities: Women face barriers in accessing education and training needed for technical roles in energy, further widening the gender gap.

    What should be done?

    Change Perceptions: Alter societal views on women’s roles in the energy sector to recognize their potential as key contributors.

    Mainstream Gender in Energy Policies: Integrate gender considerations at sub-national, national, and international policy levels to ensure women’s needs and contributions are addressed.

    Support Women-led Initiatives: Back programs like the Women at the Forefront and the Energy Transitions Innovation Challenge (ENTICE), which encourage women’s entrepreneurship in sustainable energy.

    Promote Educational and Skill Development: Facilitate women’s access to education and training, especially in technical fields within the energy sector.

    Implement Distributed Renewable Energy (DRE) Projects: Utilize DRE to provide quick, affordable energy access, reducing women’s workload and enhancing productivity, as seen in initiatives like Solar Mamas in India.

    Question for practice:

    Discuss how gender equality contributes to sustainable energy development and what challenges hinder achieving gender equality in the energy sector.

  • Controversy with the Places of Worship Act-Places of worship and an unsettling judicial silence

    Controversy With The Places of Worship

    Source: The post controversy with the Places of Worship Act has been created, based on the article “Places of worship and an unsettling judicial silence” published in “The Hindu” on 16th February 2024.

    UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper1-Society – secularism

    News: The article discusses the Supreme Court of India’s handling of cases involving religious sites, focusing on the Places of Worship Act, 1991. It mentions challenges to the Act, petitions against mosques, and concerns about secularism and the Act’s future. Controversy With The Places of Worship

    What is the background of the issue?

    Babri Masjid Verdict: In November 2019, the Supreme Court of India gave a verdict in the Babri Masjid case, awarding the disputed land to the group that demolished the mosque.

    Places of Worship Act, 1991: The Court praised this Act, which aims to preserve the religious character of worship places as of August 15, 1947.

    Post-Verdict Petitions: After the verdict, petitions were filed against mosques in Kashi, Mathura, and others, claiming they were originally Hindu temples.

    What is the controversy with the Places of Worship Act?

    Act’s Objective: The Places of Worship Act, 1991, aims to maintain the religious character of places of worship as they existed on August 15, 1947.

    Challenges to the Act: There are increasing petitions against mosques, claiming they were built on ancient temples. Examples include petitions against mosques in Kashi and Mathura.

    Supreme Court’s Involvement: The Court has allowed some petitions to be considered, challenging the Act’s intent.

    Concern Over Cut-off Date: A petitioner suggested changing the Act’s cutoff date from 1947 to 1206, questioning the Act’s scope.

    What are the implications of such controversy?

    Threat to Secularism: The challenges to the Places of Worship Act potentially undermine India’s commitment to secularism, as the Act was designed to protect the religious character of places of worship.

    Political Implications: These controversies are influencing political narratives, especially with the upcoming general election in 2024. The petitions and debates are becoming a tool in political agendas.

    Legal Precedent: The Supreme Court’s decisions on these matters could set significant precedents for how religious sites are treated legally.

    Public Trust and Harmony: Challenges to the Act and the filing of numerous petitions against mosques risk breaching public trust and could lead to communal disharmony.

    Historical Reinterpretation: The petitions, by questioning historical facts and attempting to change the religious status of sites, could lead to a reinterpretation of history, impacting the collective memory and cultural heritage of the nation.

     

    Read More UPSC Topics-

    Bhagat Singh’s Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

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    Way forward

    The way forward involves the Supreme Court upholding the integrity of the Places of Worship Act, ensuring secularism and historical preservation. It’s crucial to maintain public trust and communal harmony, especially with the looming general election in 2024, where such issues could significantly influence political narratives.

    Question for practice:

    Evaluate the potential impact of the Supreme Court’s decisions on petitions challenging the Places of Worship Act.

  • On Preserving India’s Cultural Diversity and UCC – Strike a Fine Balance have a Just Civil Code

    Strike a fine balance, have a just civil code

    Source: This post on Preserving India’s Cultural Diversity and UCC has been created based on the article “Strike a fine balance, have a just civil code” published in “The Hindu” on 8th February 2024.

    UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 1 – Indian Society – Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

    News: The article discusses how Indian civil laws and Constitution accommodate its cultural diversity. It also highlights the way forward for a UCC that is just.

    A detailed article on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) Debate can be read here.

    Background:

    On February 7, Uttarakhand passed the Uniform Civil Code. Additionally, the Law Commission of India has invited views and proposals from the public about the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

    How do Indian Civil Laws and Constitution Accommodate its Cultural Diversity?

    1) Religious Personal Laws: Not just Muslims but even Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, Parsis, and Jews are governed by their own personal laws based on their religious identity.
    For instance, even the reformed Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 insists on solemnisation of marriage, through saptapadi (seven steps around fire) and datta (invocation before fire).

    2) Regional Differences in Application of Personal Laws: For instance, Kerala had abolished the Hindu Joint Family in 1975; Muslim marriage and divorces are registered in Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand under the 1876 law, and in Assam under 1935 law.

    3) Right to Preserve Cultural Diversity: The fundamental right in Article 29(1) is dedicated exclusively to conserving the distinctive culture of all citizens.

    4) Indian Model of Secularism: India decided not to adopt the French model of laïcité, which strictly prohibits bearing any religious outfit or marker in public and considers religion in public as a threat to the nation’s secular fabric.

    However, according to the authors, India’s quest of preserving its multicultural diversity is sometimes antithetical with values such as secularism. State assistance to minority cultures has also been seen as ‘appeasement of minorities.’

    Read More UPSC Topics-

    Fiscal Centralisation In India- Concerns and Way Forward- Explained Pointwis

     

    Uniform Civil Code (UCC) Debate- In wake of Uttarakhand UCC- Explained Pointwise

     

     

    What Should be The Way Forward for a Just UCC?

    1) Ensure Multiculturalism: Law Commission must remember that for a diverse and multicultural polity such as India, the proposed UCC must represent India’s ‘mosaic model’ of multiculturalism.
    Note: Mosaic Model describes a society in which cultural groups live and work together maintaining their unique heritages while being included in the larger fabric of society.

    2) Removal of Discriminatory Personal Laws: Cultural diversity cannot justify continuation of unjust and discriminatory personal laws. Such provisions of the personal laws must go.

    3) Bottom-Up Reform: Since each religious group has cultural autonomy, it is argued that the community should itself come forward to seek reforms by identifying the discriminatory and oppressive issues.

    4) Prevent Threat Perception among Communities: When a community feels threatened in any way, community allegiance becomes much stronger. Therefore, the Law Commission should be accommodative and not contribute to the rise of reactive culturalism amongst different communities in India.

    The Law Commission should strike a fine balance as it should aim to eliminate only those practices that do not meet the benchmarks set by the Constitution.

    Question for practice:

    How do Indian civil laws and Constitution accommodate its cultural diversity? What should be the way forward for enacting a suitable UCC in this context?

  • Population Growth Committee and Demographics Changes in India

    Population Growth Committee and Demographics Changes in India

    Source: The post demographics changes in India has been created, based on the article “Population growth committee: Move beyond Emergency-era fears” published in “Indian Express” on 6th February 2024.

    UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS paper 1- Society- population and associated issues.

    News: The article is about India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announcing a committee in her 2024 budget speech to study India’s population growth. This is to help meet the Viksit Bharat goal by 2047. Population Growth Committee and Demographics Changes in India.

    What is The Status of Demographics Changes in India?

    Population Growth: The fertility rate in India has reached a level where two parents are being replaced by two children, indicating a significant decline.

    Workforce Changes: Data shows that 33% of India’s population is aged 20-29 in 2024, but by 2047, the proportion of younger and older working-age populations will both be around 28%.

    State Variations: In 2021, in Bihar, 44 working-age adults supported 100 dependents, while in Tamil Nadu, 50 adults supported the same. By 2051, this is expected to change to 47 adults in Bihar and only 24 in Tamil Nadu.

    Women in Workforce: A study showed that in 1993, women spent about 14 years in childcare, which reduced to eight years by 2021. Yet, this hasn’t led to a higher rate of women in the workforce.

    What are The Challenges of Demographics Changes in India?

    State-Specific Demographic Shifts: In states like Bihar and Tamil Nadu, demographic changes are distinct. In 2021, Bihar had 44 working-age adults supporting 100 dependents, compared to 50 in Tamil Nadu. This will drastically change by 2051, with implications for economic support.

    Underutilized Female Workforce: Despite the decrease in childcare time (from 14 to 8 years since 1993), women’s increased participation in the workforce hasn’t materialized, missing the chance to turn a demographic dividend into a gender dividend.

    Resource Allocation by the 16th Finance Commission: The Commission will need to address the varied demographic changes and dependencies across different states, impacting inter-state resource distribution.

     

    Read More UPSC Topics- 

    India’s model BITs – Bilateral agreements
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    What Should be Done?

    Multidisciplinary Approach: Engage demographers, economists, sociologists, and public policy experts to address the diverse and complex challenges of demographic changes.

    Invest in Workforce Skills: To prepare for a future with more middle-aged workers, India needs to focus on skill development and training, especially for those already in the workforce.

    Boost Women’s Labor Market Participation: To convert the demographic dividend into a gender dividend, there should be an increase in women’s workforce participation. It can be done, possibly by improving childcare facilities through programs like Anganwadi and MGNREGA.

    Prepare for Aging Population: Policies should be developed to make the elderly more self-sustaining, such as raising retirement ages and enhancing old age pension schemes.

    Natural Fertility Decline: India should avoid strict population control like China’s one-child policy. Instead, it should let the fertility rate naturally decrease and adapt to demographic changes.

    Resource Distribution: 16th Finance Commission should focus on allocating resources based on the varying demographic needs and challenges of different states.

    Question for practice:

    Examine the key demographic challenges of India’s population growth and the proposed strategies to address them.

  • Rapid Population Growth of India

    Rapid Population Growth of India

    Source: The post situation of India’s population has been created, based on the article “Population priorities” published in “ The Hindu ” on 3rd February 2024.

    UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper1- Society-population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanisation, their problems and their remedies.

    News: Rapid Population Growth of India, The article talks about a new committee being formed to address issues caused by India’s rapid population growth and demographic changes. It also highlights the need for this committee to focus on related challenges, such as job creation and social security.

    What is The Current Situation of India’s Population?

    The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in India has decreased to 2.

    Some states like Bihar (2.98), Meghalaya (2.91), Uttar Pradesh (2.35), Jharkhand (2.26), and Manipur (2.17) have TFRs above 2.1.

    The TFR has fallen from 5.7 in 1950 to 2 in 2020, showing significant reduction.

    Southern States’ population share decreased from 26% in 1951 to 21% in 2011, due to rapid TFR reduction.

    This decrease in TFR is linked to better socio-economic outcomes and education in these regions.

    What are The Challenges of Population Changes?

    Aging and Urbanization: The demographic shift and rising life expectancy in India are leading to new challenges in managing an aging population and rapid urbanization.

    Employment and Productivity: With high unemployment and slow creation of non-farm jobs, there’s a risk of not fully capitalizing on the demographic dividend.

    Social Security: Adequate social security is crucial for the aging workforce, ensuring support in later years.

    Avoiding Distractions: The committee should focus on these demographic challenges rather than getting sidetracked by issues of religion and immigration, as suggested by the ruling party.

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    What Should be Done?

    Form a Focused Committee: Establish a high-powered committee to address issues arising from population growth and demographic changes.

    Job Creation and Social Security: The committee should focus on creating jobs and improving social security, crucial for the working-age population.

    Avoid Distracting Issues: The committee must avoid getting sidetracked by the ruling party’s focus on religion and immigration, and instead concentrate on the actual demographic challenges.

    Utilize the Demographic Dividend: Address the challenges to effectively harness the demographic dividend, such as high unemployment and the need for skilled job opportunities.

    Question for practice:

    Evaluate the impact of decreasing Total Fertility Rate (TFR) on India’s demographic changes and the associated challenges associated with it.

  • Evolution of Women Rights in India

    Evolution of Women Rights in India

    Source: The post Evolution of women’s rights in India has been created, based on the article “75th Republic Day of India: The women who fought for our rights” published in “Indian express” on 27th January 2024.

    UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper1-Society- Role of women and women’s organization.

    Evolution of Women Rights in India, This article discusses the history of women’s rights in India. It covers their struggle for voting rights, participation in government, social reforms, and economic empowerment. It also highlights key figures and organizations involved in these movements.

    How Women Rights Evolved in India Before partition?

    Voting Rights: Women’s struggle for voting rights began with the Government of India Act 1919. Madras was the first province to give this right in 1921, followed by Bombay and United Provinces. Bengal initially rejected women’s voting rights (enfranchisement Bill), but after campaigns by Bangiya Nari Samaj, it was granted in 1925. However, these rights were initially limited to women meeting certain property or income criteria.

    Legislative Participation: The Nehru Report of 1929 proposed equal civic rights for all. Despite Britain’s reluctance, Indian leaders like Rajkumari Amrit Kaur and Shareefa Hamid Ali advocated for these rights internationally. The Government of India Act 1935 expanded women’s voting rights and allowed them to hold public office, leading to women participating in the 1936-37 elections.

    Social Reforms: The All-India Women’s Conference (AIWC), formed in 1927, initially focused on education but later campaigned against child marriage, for raising the age of consent, and against polygamy. They sought to reform religious laws to empower women, including in economic aspects and inheritance rights.

    Indian Woman’s Charter of Rights and Duties: Adopted in 1945-46, this charter demanded equality in all areas, especially highlighting economic empowerment and recognition of domestic work. It influenced laws like the Hindu Code Bill, which came into effect a decade later.

     

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    How Did Women Influence Post-Partition Policies?

    Opposition to Religious Seat Reservations: Influential leaders like Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, a Christian, and Begum Qudsia Aizaz Rasul, a Muslim, argued in the Constituent Assembly against reserving seats based on religion.

    Advocating for Unified Electorates: The All-India Women’s Conference (AIWC) strongly opposed separate electorates. They believed such systems deepened communal divisions.

    Against Women’s Reservation: AIWC also argued against reservations specifically for women in politics, emphasizing the need for a more integrated approach.

    Influencing Constitutional Debates: Their arguments and activism were pivotal in shaping post-partition policies, particularly in the framing of the Constitution where reservation was eventually limited to Scheduled Castes and Tribes.

    Way forward

    The way forward involves continuing the work of earlier feminists by pushing for more inclusive policies and legal reforms. This includes expanding women’s economic rights, advocating for equal property and inheritance laws, and addressing the societal challenges that still hinder women’s full participation in all areas of life.

    Question for practice:

    Discuss the historical progression of women’s rights in India, encompassing voting rights, legislative participation, and social reforms before partition.

  • Challenges Of Female Labour Force Participation (LFP) in 2024

    Challenges Of Female Labour Force Participation

    Source: The post Challenges of Female Labour Force Participation (LFP) has been created, based on the article “Intersectionality of gender and caste in women’s participation in the labour force” published in “The Hindu” on 23rd January 2024.

    UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS paper1- society- Salient features of Indian Society.

    Challenges Of Female Labour Force Participation , This article discusses how women’s participation in India’s labor market is affected by caste and gender biases.

    What challenges of Female Labour Force Participation (LFP)?

    Limited Opportunities in Key Sectors: Structural issues in manufacturing and service sectors have led to limited employment opportunities, especially in the informal sector which involves about 90% of the workforce.

    Read More Female Labour Force Participation Rate- Explained

    Conditional participation in economy: As per the analysis presented from seven states, women’s participation in informal rural work mainly increases due to two reasons:
    First, when there are more households belonging to lower castes.
    Second, when there are many households led by women.
    However, in the second case, women work mainly when women-led households are financially weak. Whereas, women, even in the leading roles in families, are less likely to look for jobs when their households are financially stable.

    Impact of Caste on Women’s Work: Higher caste women tend to participate less in the workforce due to better education and societal norms. Whereas lower caste women, driven by economic necessity, are more likely to work in informal sectors.

    Education’s Role: Education level greatly influences women’s employment. Lower caste women often lack education, leading to jobs in the informal sector. While educated women, including those from lower castes, can access formal jobs due to affirmative action.

    Societal Expectations: The prevalent belief that women should prioritize housework and caregiving roles over professional careers hinders their participation in the workforce.

    Legal and Economic Barriers: Women encounter legal constraints in employment, such as restrictions on night shifts, alongside economic challenges in seeking jobs.

     

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    Why is Women’s Workforce Participation Important?

    Economic Independence: Women’s earnings increase their capacity to make decisions for their family, promoting independence.

    Social and Domestic Benefits: Employed women tend to delay marriage and childbirth, enhancing family health and well-being.

    Educational Impact on Children: A mother’s income is often associated with higher chances of her children’s schooling.

    Resource Control: Women with control over resources face less domestic violence and enjoy more mobility.

    Societal Improvement: Participation in the workforce leads to broader socio-economic benefits, contributing to a more educated and enlightened society.

    Affirmative Action Benefits: Education and employment, especially for lower caste women, open opportunities in formal sectors, demonstrating the impact of affirmative action policies.

    Way forward

    To improve women’s employment in India, policies should focus on reducing gender and caste discrimination, enhancing access to education for all women, and creating more opportunities in formal sectors. Addressing societal norms that limit women’s workforce participation and implementing affirmative action policies effectively can lead to greater economic empowerment and social mobility for women across different castes.

    Question for practice

    Examine the factors that hinder women’s workforce participation in India, and their potential impact on society and the economy.

  • Third Globalisation and India

    Source: This post on Third Globalization and India has been created based on the article “Reconfiguration of global trade and FDI” published in “Business Standard” on 22nd January 2024.

    UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 1 – Indian Society – Effects of Globalization.

    News: The article discusses the undergoing changes in Globalization. It also highlights its impact on India.

    Earlier, the ‘Second Globalization’ featured unconditional access for the periphery (underdeveloped world) to the core (developed or advanced economies) of the world economy. However, it is currently undergoing changes.

    What is ‘Second Globalization’?

    It broadly refers to the international regulations and organizations to support economic integration at the global level created after World War II, as part of the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944.

    The technologies of telecommunication, container ships, wide-body aircraft, and modern finance yielded unprecedented levels of cross-border activity.

    The core gave complete access to their economic and technological progress even to countries that were unfriendly or hostile.

    How is globalization undergoing change with Third globalisation?

    Since 2018, the third globalization has emerged.

    According to the author, the ‘third globalization’ (currently) makes the access given in the 2nd globalization, (for the periphery to the core) more conditional based on foreign policy and military alignment.

    It has seen access to the core being given in more limited ways for countries that have a hostile foreign policy and military stance. The core does full integration with each other, but they impose limitations upon hostile nations, having impact on both trade and FDI. For instance, since 2018, China’s share in USA’s imports has dropped sharply.

    What should be the way forward for India?

    1) For India’s Foreign Policy:

    1. In the case of China: There is a substantial trade engagement with China, hence there should not be any sudden disruptions.
    2. For rest of the world: India should be a status quo power, which will work with the core and try to obtain economic growth in the coming years.

    2) For Firms: Strategy thinking at firms needs to bring a better understanding of the political system in various countries, the risks associated with doing business in undemocratic countries, and the evolving rules of the game that are being established by the core.

    Question for practice:

    How is Globalisation undergoing change? What implications will it have on India and how should it be tackled?

  • Issues For Indian Urban Planning: Trapped in central planning

    Issues For Indian Urban Planning

    Source: The post issues in Indian town planning has been created, based on the article “Cities: Trapped in central planning” published in “Business standard” on 19th January 2024.

    UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper1-Society-developmental issues, urbanisation, their problems and their remedies. & GS paper3-economic- infrastructure

    News: The article discusses the problems with town planning in India. It highlights how detailed government control leads to inefficient land use and fails to create nice cities.

    Recent Issues in Urban Planning?

    Uncoordinated Private Development: The private sector, built in an uncoordinated manner and focused on individual profits, results in the overuse of land for private projects and insufficient space for public amenities. Consequently, essential services like water, sanitation, electricity, and telecom suffer due to poorly planned and executed infrastructure.

    Excessive Government Control: Development authorities in cities meticulously plan urban areas, often over-regulating and mismanaging land use. This includes dividing cities into detailed zones (residential, commercial, industrial, and green) with strict compliance requirements.

    Constitutional Violations and Legal Issues: These overly detailed plans can violate constitutional principles. For instance, landowners in green zones face restrictions on building or modifying properties, leading to legal disputes and land misuse.

    Widespread Corruption and Arbitrary Power: The system’s complexity and over-regulation breed corruption and give undue power to authorities, enabling them to selectively enforce rules.

    How Does Government Control Impact Land Use?

    Rigid Zoning Laws: Government authorities divide cities into detailed zones, like residential and commercial areas, leading to inflexible land use.

    Restrictions on Property Rights: In green zones, property owners face severe limitations, such as being unable to build or modify houses, which infringes on their rights.

    Excessive Land for Open Spaces: Indian cities, as per renowned urban planner Mr. Patel’s observations, allocate 50-60% of land for private open spaces, compared to less than 10% in well-planned foreign cities.

    Lack of Economic Understanding: The planning approach shows a misunderstanding of urban economics, leading to inefficient and underutilized urban spaces.

    What Should Be Done?

    1.Use minimal yet effective state interventions, avoiding over-regulation and rigid zoning laws.

    2.Create laws and institutions that can efficiently manage urban growth and planning, based on a deep understanding of urban economics.

    3.Emulate successful urban planning models from abroad, where less than 10% of land is private open space compared to 50-60% in Indian cities.

    4.Align planning policies to support economic growth while achieving sustainable development goals, as suggested in the Barker review of 2006 in the UK.

    Question for practice:

    Discuss the impact of excessive government control on land use in Indian town planning and the suggested solutions to address.

  • Mumbai’s Urban Development Model Issues With Atal Setu

    Source: This post on the Issues with Mumbai’s Urban Development Model has been created based on the article “Atal Setu is bad for Mumbai – its people and ecology” published in “Indian Express” on 17th January 2024.

    UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 1 Indian Society – Urbanisation – their problems and their remedies.

    News: The article discusses the issues with Mumbai’s urban development model as exemplified by the construction of Atal Setu.

    Background:

    Last week, the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link bridge, the Atal Setu was inaugurated. It has been advertised as a symbol of the city and the country’s development.

    However, according to the author, this development model (involving the construction of bigger concretised roads and paving over open spaces) belongs to the 1960s. It does not take into account the importance of urban ecology and is hence outdated.

    Mumbai’s Urban Development Model Issues With Atal Setu

    This mode of development based on the Concretisation and Infrastructure Development of the city with roads, highways and tunnels creates several problems:

    1. This mode of development produces more traffic (by encouraging car transit).
    2. It harms open spaces, wetlands, gardens and playgrounds that perform vital climate mitigation and adaptation services.
    3. Increases toxic air quality levels in the city.
    4. The increasing extent of rainwater runoff in the streets.
    5. The city’s trees are cut down on account of infrastructure projects.

    What Should Be Done?

    1) A different mode of development that takes into account urban ecology and dissuades car transit should be followed.

    2) Urban planning should address and mitigate the air quality crisis and the lack of open spaces, intertidal regions and mangroves performing critical services.

    Question for practice:

    What are the issues with the urban development model in India? Discuss in the context of the construction of Atal Setu in Mumbai.

  • What is the long-running legal dispute over AMU’s minority character

    Source: This post has been created based on the article “What is the long-running legal dispute over AMU’s minority character” published in “Indian Express” on 10th January 2024.

    UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 1 Indian Society – Secularism.

    News: The article discusses the long-running legal dispute over Aligarh Muslim University’s minority character.

    Background:

    A 7-judge Bench of the Supreme Court recently started hearing the matter related to Aligarh Muslim University’s minority character.

    What is the history of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU)?

    AMU’s origins can be traced back to the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental (MOA) College, established by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in 1875. It was established to help Muslims overcome educational backwardness and prepare for government services.

    It imparted Western education as well as Islamic theology. Sir Syed also advocated for women’s education.

    In 1920, the institution was conferred university status.

    What does a ‘minority character’ of an educational institution mean?

    Article 30 (1) of the Constitution empowers all religious and linguistic minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.

    This provision reinforces India’s commitment to ensure the welfare of minority communities by guaranteeing that it will not discriminate in giving aid based on their ‘minority’ status.

    What has been the Supreme Court’s stand on AMU’s minority character over the years?

    The legal dispute over AMU’s minority status started in1967:

    S. Azeez Basha and another versus Union of India 1967): Here SC was reviewing changes made in 1951 and 1965 to the AMU Act of 1920. The petitioners argued that Muslims established AMU and, therefore, had the right to manage it.

    Observations of the Court:

    1. SC held that AMU was neither established nor administered by the Muslim minority.
    2. It emphasized that AMU was established through a central Act to ensure the government’s recognition of its degrees.
    3. It also stated that the university was not solely operated by Muslims.

    Why has this legal issue persisted?

    Since 1967, the issue has persisted due to a combination of judicial interpretations and executive actions. These include:

    In 1981, an amendment to the AMU Act explicitly affirmed its minority status.

    In 2005, the AMU implemented a reservation policy (reserving 50% of seats in postgraduate medical courses for Muslim candidates). This was challenged in the Allahabad High Court which overturned the reservation and nullified the 1981 Act. It held that AMU, according to the SC’s verdict in the S. Azeez Basha case, did not qualify as a minority institution.

    In 2006, various petitions, including one from the Union government, contested the High Court’s decision before the Supreme Court.

    In 2016, the government withdrew the appeal filed by the government. It held that the government cannot be seen as setting up a minority institution in a secular state.

    Question for practice:

    India’s model of secularism allows certain exceptions for the welfare of minorities. Discuss in the context of AMU’s minority character.

  • On the Changing Concept of a Slum – Transforming narratives

    Source: This post on the Changing Concept of a Slum has been created based on the article “Transforming narratives” published in “The Hindu” on 3rd January 2024.

    UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 1 Indian Society – Urbanization – problems and remedies.

    News: The article discusses the changing understanding and interpretations of the concept of a slum, which ultimately reflected in policies regarding slums.

    The understanding and interpretations of the concept of a slum has changed with time.

    This has impacted the treatment of the topic by legislatures and policies. For instance, earlier, slums were viewed as an epidemic needing eradication, but lately they are viewed as objects of technocratic solutions.

    What is the evolution of the discourse on slums?

    According to the author, the 5 decades post-independence are divided into 4 eras wherein the consequences of the changing definition of slums are explored. These eras are:

    1. First era between the 1950s and 1960s:

    Conceptualisation:

    1. Slums were considered to be a result of partition and the inflow of a huge population into cramped, dilapidated residential areas.
    2. Slums were considered as something that needed to be eradicated.
    3. It was connected to spatial constraints and health issues. Urban socio-economic disparities that resulted in its formation were ignored.

    Steps:

    Introduction of the Slum Areas Act of 1956 made government intervention possible after an area was officially notified as a slum. Thus, the slum became a legal entity.

    1. Second era between the early 1970s and mid-1980s:

    Conceptualisation:

    1. Slum was now looked at as something that had to be developed.
    2. Providing basic amenities to slums became part of the narrative, instead of destroying them.

    Steps:

    Town planning emerged as a governance tool, pushing slums to the peripheries.

    1. Third era between the mid-1980s and late 1990s:

    Conceptualisation:

    1. Cities and urban spaces including the slums, were now looked at as assets and investments for the economic growth of the State. Thus, economic reasoning was provided for interventions in cities rather than social ones.

    Steps:

    1. Housing policies adopted a broader approach encompassing issues like land, finance, and infrastructure. The first two National Housing Policies were introduced.
    2. The National Slum Development Programme was launched in 1996 bringing back targeted funding from the union government towards slum redevelopment.

    4. Fourth era between 2000s and 2014:

    Conceptualisation:

    1. With the launch of the 2001 Census, the understanding of slums became based on data.
    2. Statistical information explained that a lack of proper urban planning, growing population, increased urbanisation, the pressure on land, and price rise which made affordable housing difficult were some of the reasons for slum-formation.
    3. The upliftment of slum dwellers was associated with giving property rights to them, rather than complete eradication.

    Steps:

    1. Urban housing deficit became the motto of housing policies.
    2. The definitions of slums broadened due to the Census, leading to many targeted schemes.

    Thus, the definitions of slums continued to transform, from being a socio-political subject into a technical, economic object that can be dealt with technocratically (i.e. increasing reliance on technological solutions for urban problems).

    Question for practice:

    Explain how the conceptualisation of slums has influenced policymaking in post-independence India.

  • On Women’s Suffrage – Women’s vote achieved

    Source: This post on Women’s Suffrage has been created based on the article “Women’s vote achieved: We need faster progress” published in “Live Mint” on 29th December 2023.

    UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 1 Society – Role of women and women’s organization.

    News: The article discusses history of the women’s suffrage movement and the need to move beyond just granting the right to vote to women.

    Recently, 5 religious sisters were allowed to vote at the Papal advisory body in the Roman Catholic Church, which has been male-dominated for centuries. With this historic move, Vatican City became the last country in the world to give its women the right to vote.

    What has been the history of the women’s suffrage movement?

    The initial women’s suffrage movement emerged during the 19th and early 20th centuries, predominantly led by protest voices in the Anglosphere (English-speaking world).

    129 countries granted women the right to vote between 1893 and 1960. Some nations tried to place riders on it by using race, age, education level or marital status as a disqualifier, but these were largely discarded.

    1) Role of Social Activism: At first, it was other forms of social activism that gave rise to the vote demand.
    For instance:
    a. New Zealand in 1893 became the first nation to let women vote in national elections. It was a fight against alcohol that moved women to seek a role in policymaking.
    b. In USA, which did it in 1920, suffrage activism can be traced back to protests led by women against slavery.

    2) Role of World Wars: The suffrage movement gained pace after World War I, at least in the West. The two World Wars hurried the enfranchisement of women.

    What more needs to be done in the field of women’s political empowerment?

    This right has not yet shaken patriarchal social structures that dominate power politics. Hence, the focus must now shift to achieving proper representation in rule-making and governance, which goes beyond the basic right to vote.

    Despite progress in women’s participation in politices, their impact in shaping political decisions and policies worldwide are yet to enhance and transform the state of affairs globally..

    Question for practice:

    Women’s suffrage movement played an important role in emancipation of women in the political sphere. Discuss its features.

  • On Illegal Migration – Human trafficking or a plain case of migration?

    Source: This post on Illegal Migration has been created based on the article “Human trafficking or a plain case of migration?” published in “Live Mint” on 26th December 2023.

    UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 1 Indian Society – Globalization.

    News: The article discusses the current status of human trafficking in the world and the implications of preventing migration. It also argues that voluntary illegal migration should not be considered as trafficking.

    Recently, French authorities detained a Nicaragua-bound aircraft, and put its passengers to questioning before letting it take-off. As reported, the chartered flight from Dubai, UAE had 303 individuals, mostly Indians— including 11 unaccompanied minors.

    This detention by French authorities raises the issue of the phenomenon of voluntary illegal migration being confused with human trafficking.

    What is the current status of human trafficking?

    According to the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2022, published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, while human trafficking saw a dip in reported cases during the COVID pandemic, the numbers remain alarming.

    In 2020, the global count of victims of sexual trafficking was 3.7 per million population, similar to the figures for forced labour.

    Why is migration required?

    Migration barriers typically distort labour markets. For instance, some areas may experience labor shortages while others have an oversupply of workers.

    Rich countries often need workers from elsewhere to fill vacancies and labour crunch. However, many of them erect certain barriers due to concerns over cultural diversity.

    What are the implications of preventing migration?

    This prevention of migration worsens wage gaps.

    It also prevents the implementation of a genuinely unified or shared market (for instance, the European Union), despite the advantages that market theory suggests such a system would bring.

    It has not helped us globalize well. Globalization has been able to dissolve borders for capital and trade, but not for people.

    Question for practice:

    It is time that globalisation leads to a freer movement of not just goods and capital, but people as well. Analyse.

  • Significance of NAMO Drone Didi Scheme – Why rural India needs women drone pilots

    Source: The post benefits of the NAMO Drone Didi Scheme has been created on the article “Why rural India needs women drone pilots” published in “Indian express” on 11th December 2023.

    UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper1- Society- social empowerment & GS paper 2- governance- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre.

    News: This article discusses the NAMO Drone Didi Scheme, which supplies drones to women’s self-help groups in India. These drones are used in agriculture, helping women to become central to rural economies and modernizing farming practices.

    What is NAMO Drone Didi Scheme?

    Read here

    What are the benefits of the NAMO Drone Didi Scheme?

    Empowerment of Rural Women: It enables women’s Self-Help Groups, to rent these drones to farmers for agricultural purposes, thus playing a key role in rural economies.

    Modernizing Agriculture: It introduces advanced technology in agriculture. For example, the use of drones for the foliar application of innovative liquid fertilizers like Nano Urea and Nano DAP.

    Employment Opportunities: Creates jobs for rural women in drone operation and maintenance, supporting the government’s push for indigenous drone aeronautics development.

    Safety and Efficiency in Farming: Replaces traditional, hazardous methods like hand-held pumps for spraying pesticides and fertilizers, reducing risks and increasing efficiency. This’ll enhance crop yield and reduce cost of operation for the benefit of farmers.

    Reduced Physical Hardship for Farmers: The use of drones for agricultural tasks alleviates the physical strain traditionally associated with farming activities.

    Way forward

    To ensure the success of the NAMO Drone Didi Scheme, continuous training for women in drone technology is crucial. Strengthening rural infrastructure and providing financial support to SHGs will also be key. Furthermore, fostering partnerships with tech companies can enhance the scheme’s technological aspect.

    Question for practice:

    Discuss the key benefits and strategies for ensuring the success of the NAMO Drone Didi Scheme in India,

  • NCRB Report 2022 – The crime story

    Source: The post on NCRB Report 2022 has been created based on the article “Express View on latest NCRB data: The crime story” published in “Indian Express” on 6th December 2023.

    UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 1- Society- Salient features of Indian Society.

    News: The article discusses the National Crime Records Bureau’s annual report for 2022. The report highlights an increase in crimes in India, especially against vulnerable groups, and emphasizes the growing issue of cybercrimes, underscoring the need for improved crime reporting and prevention strategies.

    About National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)

    The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is a government agency in India, headquartered in New Delhi. It was established in 1986 and operates under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

    The NCRB’s main job is to collect and analyze crime data based on the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special and Local Laws.

    They publish a report each year, containing statistics on various types of crimes, including financial, commercial, and crimes against women. This data is gathered by State Crime Records Bureaux (SCRBx) from District Crime Records Bureaux (DCRBx) and sent to the NCRB at the end of each calendar year.

    For information on key findings of NCRB report 2022 read here

    What does the NCRB report for 2022 indicate?

    1.The report shows a significant increase in crimes in India, particularly against women, children, senior citizens, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes. Notably, there were 468 suicides daily in 2022, and cybercrimes rose by nearly 25%.

    2.The NCRB clarifies that the data represents registered crimes, not the actual total number of crimes, suggesting potential under-reporting. This under-reporting is particularly concerning in cases where the perpetrators are acquaintances of the victims.

    3.The report is crucial for understanding crime patterns and for formulating policies to protect vulnerable groups.

    4.The NCRB also notes that the increase in crime numbers in certain areas, like Delhi, could be attributed to greater awareness, increased presence of law enforcement agencies, or citizen-centric initiatives.

    What should be done?

    Enhance Reporting Accuracy: The NCRB should improve its data collection methodologies to more accurately reflect the actual number of crimes, considering that the current data only includes registered crimes.

    Prioritize Vulnerable Groups: The report highlights the necessity to make homes, educational institutions, and public spaces safer, particularly for women, children, and marginalized communities.

    Combat Cybercrime Rise: In response to the 25% increase in cybercrimes, law enforcement agencies must adapt and enhance their capabilities to tackle these digital threats.

    Utilize Data for Policy Making: The NCRB data, despite its limitations, should be used as a valuable aid for developing policies and strategies to address the highlighted issues.

    Question for practice:

    Examine the key findings and implications of the National Crime Records Bureau’s 2022 report for crime trends and prevention in India.

  • Assam and Mizoram conflict

    Background of Assam and Mizoram conflict

      • The boundary between present-day Assam and Mizoram is 165 km long and the issue over that dates back to the colonial era when Mizoram was known as Lushai Hills, a district of Assam.
      • Assam-Mizoram conflict

    • The genesis of present conflict is rooted in the British led demarcated internal boundaries on grounds of administrative needs.
    • Government of Mizoram demands that present boundaries must be demarcated based on the 1875 notification, which was notified under Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873, also known as the Inner Line Regulation (ILR). Whereas the Assam government follows the 1933 demarcation.
    • While 1873 notification demarcated a line between the plains of Assam (Cachar) and neighbouring hill areas (Lushai) inhabited by tribal communities in Mizoram, 1933 notification was issued after the annexation of the Lushai Hills demarcates a boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur.

    What is the present Issue? 

    • According to an agreement between governments of Assam and Mizoram some years ago, the status quo should be maintained in no man’s land in the border area.
    • As per the recent info., People from Lailapur (Assam) broke the status quo and allegedly constructed some temporary huts, in response people from Mizoram side went and set fire on them.
    • Mizoram civil society groups blame “illegal Bangladeshis” on the Assam side who came and destroyed huts, cut plants and pelted stones on policemen.

     

 

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