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15th February 2024 (8 Topics)

15th February 2024

QUIZ - 15th February 2024

5 Questions

5 Minutes

Prelims Articles

Context

Art & Culture (GS-I)

BAPS Hindu Mandir

‘BAPS Mandir’, the first traditional Hindu temple in the United Arab Emirates has been inaugurated.

About

  • The BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi is the first Hindu temple in UAE.
  • The temple is built on a 27-acre site in Abu Mreikhah, near Al Rahba off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Highway, at a cost of around ?700 crore.
  • It incorporates intricately designed pink sandstone and marble façade with seven spires that represent each of the Emirates of the country.
  • The temple has been made of 40,000 cubic metres of marble, 1,80,000 cubic metres of sandstone and over 1.8 million bricks.
  • The temple’s design draws inspiration from Vedic architecture and sculptures.
  • Many of the statues and carvings have been done by artisans in India and have been shipped to Abu Dhabi.
  • The vast complex includes a large amphitheatre, a gallery, a library, a food court, a majlis and two community halls with space for 5,000 people.

What is BAPS?

  • BAPS stands for the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS).
  • The organisation is named after Bhagwan Swaminarayan, a religious leader who lived in the late 1700s.
  • It is a socio-spiritual Hindu faith with its roots in the vedas and was pioneered by Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1781-1830) in the late 18th century and established in 1907 by Shastriji Maharaj (1865-1951).
  • The Akshardham temples in Delhi and Gujarat are also run by BAPS.

Editorials

Context

The discourse surrounding menstrual leave delves into its implications for gender equality and societal attitudes towards menstruation. It raises questions about workforce dynamics, implementation hurdles, and the need for accommodating diverse menstrual experiences.

Controversy Surrounding Menstrual Leave:

  • Introduction to the Issue: The issue of menstrual leave has stirred controversy, particularly in light of ongoing efforts to eliminate discriminatory practices related to menstruation and promote gender equality.
  • Debate Over Gender Equality: While menstrual cycles can be challenging for some individuals, the demand for paid leave for menstruation has sparked debates regarding its potential implications for women empowerment.
  • Consideration of Menstrual Experiences: Advocates argue that collectively labeling all individuals belonging to a gender without considering the diverse nature of menstrual experiences could trivialize the broader women empowerment movement.

Global Gender Gap Concerns and Policy Implications:

  • Widening Gender Gap: The widening global gender gap, as highlighted in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021, underscores concerns regarding gender equality in various spheres, including the workforce.
  • Impact on Workforce Participation: Policy considerations such as mandatory paid leave for periods raise concerns about potential deterrents to women's workforce participation and advancement, particularly in leadership roles.
  • Concerns Over Social Stigma: Ratifying special status for menstruating women may perpetuate social stigma surrounding menstruation and exacerbate period shaming, further hindering gender equality efforts.

Challenges of Implementation and Ensuring Inclusivity:

  • Implementation Hurdles: While arguments in favor of paid leave for menstruation aim to raise awareness and address menstrual health concerns, challenges related to implementation and enforcement remain.
  • Enforcement Challenges: Instances of misuse or inappropriate enforcement methods by employers highlight the need for careful consideration and sensitivity in implementing menstrual leave policies.
  • Promoting Inclusivity and Individual Support: Recognizing the diverse nature of menstrual experiences and tailoring support on a case-by-case basis promotes inclusivity and addresses individual needs, fostering a more equitable and supportive environment.
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Editorials

Context

The recent recommendation of the Central Board of Trustees of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) for increase in provident fund (PF) deposits for 2023-24 has not pleased the long-standing demand for an increase in the minimum pension of ?1,000.

EPFO's Provident Fund Rate Recommendation:

  • A hike: The Central Board of Trustees of the EPFO has recommended a 0.1-percentage-point increase in PF deposits for 2023-24, aligning with the previous year's decision.
  • Concerns for lower hike: However, the proposed rate of 8.25% is 0.4-percentage points lower than in 2018-19, raising concerns among stakeholders.
  • Dissatisfaction: Despite the significant transfer of ?1,07,000 crore to EPF members, there is dissatisfaction among those advocating for an increase in the minimum pension of ?1,000.

Government's Response and Budgetary Support:

  • Budgetary constraints: The Finance Ministry rejected a proposal to double the minimum pension, citing budgetary constraints due to the substantial rise in the budgetary support needed for the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS), 1995.
  • Comparison: The projected budgetary support for FY2024-25 stands at ?10,950 crore, reflecting a significant increase compared to the current year's revised estimate of ?9,760 crore.
  • Financial implications: The government argues that a 100% rise in the minimum pension would exceed the proportionate increase in overall budgetary support, considering the financial implications for pensioners

Challenges and Potential Solutions:

  • Defined Contribution-Defined Benefit: The government defends the EPS as a "Defined Contribution-Defined Benefit" social security scheme, citing an actuarial deficit based on the fund's valuation.
  • Contradicting stand: Despite the government's reasons for not hiking the minimum pension, the EPFO's annual report suggests that doubling the minimum pension would not pose a significant financial strain.
  • Other issues: Additional issues include equitable distribution of spouse pension and addressing concerns of pre-2014 retirees seeking higher PF pension, highlighting the need for a comprehensive approach to PF pension matters.
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Editorials

Context

Farmers have launched the 'Delhi Chalo' agitation to put pressure on the Centre for their demands, including a law on MSP for crops, based on the Swaminathan Commission formula.

Basics

  • About MSP: The minimum support price (MSP) is the rate at which the government purchases crops from farmers. It is based on a calculation of at least one-and-a-half times the cost of production incurred by the farmers.
  • C2+50 per cent formula: The National Commission of Farmers (NCF), led by MS Swaminathan, recommended that the MSP should be at least 50 per cent more than the weighted average cost of production.
  • 50 per cent of the returns: C2 is the actual cost of production, including account rent and interest foregone on land and machinery owned by farmers. According to the commission, the formula to calculate MSP would be MSP= C2+ 50 per cent of C2. The commission recommended that the MSP should be 1.5 times the farmers’ input costs.

Challenges with Guaranteeing Minimum Support Price (MSP):

  • Legal guarantee: Farmers demand a legal guarantee on the minimum support price (MSP), but this demand poses logistical and fiscal challenges for the government.
  • Market manipulation: While the government can ensure MSP only on the crops it procures, enforcing MSP on all produce brought to mandis or private trade is impractical and may lead to market manipulation.
  • Fiscal disaster: Guaranteeing MSP through legislation could result in a logistical nightmare, requiring extensive data collection and risking fiscal disaster due to market distortions and price volatility.

Proposal for Minimum Income Support (MIS):

  • Minimum income support (MIS): Instead of MSP, a minimum income support (MIS) scheme could provide farmers with assured income through direct benefit transfers, enabling them to make informed, market-driven decisions on crop cultivation.
  • Better encouragement: MIS, coupled with the phase-out of subsidies, can encourage crop diversification and alleviate the over-reliance on crops like wheat, rice, and sugarcane promoted by the current MSP regime.
  • Required measure: The government should engage in meaningful dialogue with protesting farmers rather than resorting to confrontational tactics, drawing lessons from past experiences and recognizing the need for constructive engagement.
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