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20th March 2024 (14 Topics)

20th March 2024

QUIZ - 20th March 2024

5 Questions

5 Minutes

Context

Criminals are reaping “obscene” profits of nearly one-quarter of a trillion dollars from forced labour, says the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Key Highlights

Key-highlights of the Report

  • Report Title: ‘Profits and poverty: The economics of forced labour’
  • The report estimates that traffickers and criminals are generating close to USD 10,000 per victim, up from USD 8,269 (adjusted for inflation) a decade ago.
  • Forced labour generates illegal profits worth USD 36 billion per year.
  • In terms of profit per victim, figures were highest in Europe and Central Asia, followed by the Arab States, the Americas, Africa, and Asia and the Pacific.
  • Forced commercial sexual exploitation accounts for more than two-thirds (73%) of the total illegal profits, despite accounting for only 27% of the total number of victims in privately imposed labour.
  • These illegal profits are the wages that rightfully belong in the pockets of workers but instead remain in the hands of their exploiters, as a result of their coercive practices.

1: Dimension- Reason behind the situation

  • Forced labour and higher profits: This increase is fuelled by both a growth in the number of people forced into labour (a form of modern slavery), as well as higher profits generated from the exploitation of victims.
  • Lack of adequate livelihood options become more vulnerable to forced labour as they and may be easily tricked into accepting risky opportunities for survival.
  • Limited Government intervention: While there are improved identification measures but legal frameworks, gaps in services available to survivors remained and only limited action has been taken to address systemic risk factors to forced labour.

2: Dimension- Impact of such exploitation

  • Cycles of poverty and exploitation: Forced labour perpetuates cycles of poverty and exploitation and strikes at the heart of human dignity. 
  • Multiple forms of coercion: It encompasses various forms of exploitation, including forced marriage, commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, deliberate and systematic withholding of wage, slavery-like practices and the sale and exploitation of children.

3: Dimension- Required Measures

  • Investment: There is urgent need for investment in enforcement measures to stem illegal profit flows and hold perpetrators accountable.
  • Enforcement actions: There is need for strengthening legal frameworks, providing training for enforcement officials extending labour inspection into high-risk sectors, and better coordination between labour and criminal law enforcement.
  • Addressing root cause: Enforcement actions must be part of a comprehensive approach that prioritises addressing root causes and safeguarding victims.

Mains Practice Question

Q:  “Forced labour is the most dangerous form of modern slavery”. Comment

Context

The air quality global ranking of cities for 2023 has been released by a Swiss firm, IQAir, which has been reporting this annually for over six years now. 

Key Highlights

Key-highlights of the Report

  • Bangladesh is the world’s most polluted country and Delhi is the most polluted capital.
  • India has emerged as the world’s third most polluted country.
  • The world’s most polluted city is Begusarai in the east Indian state of Bihar.
  • Nine of the top 10 most polluted cities are in India, up from six the previous year.
  • Meanwhile, 42 cities in the top 50 are in India, up from 39; and an astounding 83 cities in the top 100 are Indian (up from 63 and 65 in the previous two years).
  • Delhi is back to being the most polluted capital of the world, the fifth time in the last six years.
  • It’s PM 2.5 level has averaged over 102 micrograms per cubic metre, up 10 units from the previous year. WHO’s safe guideline is just 5 micrograms. 

1: Dimension-Reason behind high polluting levels

  • Transboundary Pollution: Pollution from northern and southern India is funnelled in by winds and affects the entirety of eastern India and Bangladesh. This is known as transboundary pollution.
  • Climate change could be exacerbating air pollution.
    • Fossil fuel emissions account for 65% of global CO2 emissions and are also the primary cause of the majority of PM2.5-related deaths.

2: Dimension- Why cities of Indo-Gangetic plains are heavily polluted

  • Coal-powered plants: The Indo-Gangetic plain is a highly productive and fertile river basin that supports more than 200 million people. This belt hosts 10% of India’s coal-fired power generation plants – all located close to the Ganga.
  • High PM levels: The entire Indo-Gangetic plain has high level of nitrogen and sulphur oxides, which are responsible for increased levels of particulate matter in the air.
  • Multiple sources: There is no one source when it comes to air pollution, but many. These include dust, biomass burning, industrial emissions, coal-powered plants, deforestation and complex weather patterns.

Fact Box: PM 2.5

Fine particulate matter is defined as particles that are 2.5 microns or less in diameter (PM2.5). WHO’s safe guideline is just 5 micrograms per cubic metre. 

Mains Practice Question

Q: ‘Air pollution’ is a major global environmental risk. How is India being affected by air pollution? Furthermore, delve into the enduring challenge of pollution in the Indo-Gangetic Plain, elucidating its persistent nature and impact on the region.

Context

In the recently published UN-sponsored World Happiness Report, India ranked 126, the same as last year, in the happiness index.

 Key-findings of the Report

  • Finland remained the world's happiest country for a seventh straight year.
  • Nordic countries kept their places among the 10 most cheerful, with Denmark, Iceland and Sweden trailing Finland.
  • Afghanistan, plagued by a humanitarian catastrophe since the Taliban regained control in 2020, stayed at the bottom of the 143 countries surveyed.
  • For the first time since the report was published more than a decade ago, the United States and Germany were not among the 20 happiest nations, coming in 23rd and 24th respectively.
  • In turn, Costa Rica and Kuwait entered the top 20 at 12 and 13.
  • India’s ranking: India ranked 126, the same as last year, in the happiness index.
    • Factors such as marital status, social engagement, and physical health influence life satisfaction among older Indians.

Fact Box

World Happiness Report

  • The World Happiness Report is a publication released annually by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. 
  • The happiness ranking is based on individuals' self-assessed evaluations of life satisfaction, as well as GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity and corruption.

United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network

  • The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has been operating since 2012 under the UN Secretary-General.
  • SDSN mobilizes global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustainable development, including the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement.

Context

The Chennai headquartered space start-up Agnikul Cosmos Private Limited is set to launch its first rocket Agnibaan Sub Orbital Technology Demonstrator (SOrTeD).

About

About Agnibaan SOrTeD

  • Agnibaan SOrTeD - will be-
    • India’s first launch from a private Launchpad
    • India’s first semi-cryogenic engine powered rocket launch
    • India’s first liquid oxygen-kerosene rocket flight in India, from India’s first privately developed launchpad, in Sriharikota
    • The world’s first single piece 3D printed engine designed and built indigenously.
  • This is a sub-orbital launch but it is not a sounding rocket.
  • It has the full stack of closed loop feedback guidance and control with a gimballed thrust vector control.

Fact Box:

About Cosmos

  • Founded in: 2017
  • Cosmos became the first company in the country to sign an agreement with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) under the IN-SPACe initiative to have access to the space agency’s expertise and its facilities to build Agnibaan in December 2020.

Mission Prarambh

  • Agnikul’s rocket is the second privately-developed rocket in India.
  • In 2022, Vikram-S, India’s first privately-developed rocket, lifted off from the ISRO launchpad in Sriharikota.
  • Developed by the Hyderabad-based start-up Skyroot Aerospace Private Limited, the 6-metre tall vehicle hit a peak altitude of 89.5 kilometres and then splashed into the Bay of Bengal about five minutes after the launch.

Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe)

  • IN-SPACe is a single-window, independent, nodal agency that functions as an autonomous agency in the Department of Space (DOS).
  • It is formed following the Space sector reforms to enable and facilitate the participation of private players.

Context

Report claims that famine is now imminent in Northern governorates of Gaza.

What is Famine?

  • Famine is essentially a technical term, referring to a population that faces widespread malnutrition and hunger-related deaths due to a lack of access to food. 
  • There is a famine when three conditions come together in a specific geographic area-
    • At least 20 per cent of the population in that particular area are facing extreme levels of hunger;
    • 30 per cent of the children in the same place are wasted, or too thin for their height; and
    • The death – or mortality – rate has doubled, from the average, surpassing two deaths per 10,000 daily for adults and four deaths per 10,000 daily for children.

Context

Japan ended its negative interest rate policy, as the Bank of Japan (BoJ) raised interest rates for the first time since 2007. This marks an end to a prolonged period of ultra-loose monetary policy aimed at stimulating the economy.

What are negative interest rates?

  • Negative interest rates are when central banks make their commercial counterparts pay to park their excess cash at the institution.
  • This method is usually adopted during deflationary periods when consumers hold too much money instead of spending as they wait for a turnaround in the economy.
  • Consumers may expect their money to be worth more tomorrow than today during these periods.
  • When this happens, the economy can experience a sharp decline in demand, causing prices to plummet even lower.
  • Japan’s objective behind the rate: To encourage spending and inflation in an ageing society with a negative population growth.
  • These negative interest rates were first introduced by Swedish Riksbank in 2009. This was followed up others such as the central banks of Denmark, Switzerland and then Japan.

Context

As many as 17 states tapped financial markets to raise a total of Rs 50,206 crore through auction of state government securities, marking the largest such weekly borrowing ever.

What is a Government Security (G-Sec)?

  • A Government Security (G-Sec) is a tradeable instrument issued by the Central Government or the State Governments.
  • It acknowledges the Government’s debt obligation.
  • Such securities are short term (usually called treasury bills, with original maturities of less than one year) or long term (usually called Government bonds or dated securities with original maturity of one year or more).
  • G-Secs are issued through auctions conducted by Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • In India, the Central Government issues both, treasury bills and bonds or dated securities while the State Governments issue only bonds or dated securities, which are called the State Development Loans (SDLs).

Context

Indian States have been gradually registering a withdrawal of Spring.

Reason behind this situation

  • Spring is the period of relatively benign weather between the winter of January and the scorching summers of April.
  • As the Earth orbits the Sun, sunlight strikes the surface at varying angles because of the planet’s tilt. This creates seasons. However, temperatures in February have become warmer, leading to a missing spring season.
  • The warming of winter in southern India and the lack of rainfall in the north in winter due to an aberration in the pattern of Western Disturbances and the jet stream, winds that originate in the Mediterraneanand bring moisture to north India during winter.

Context

World Sparrow Day is an annual event that is marked on March 20.

About

  • House sparrows belong to a group known as passerines, from the order
  • These small, grey-brown birds are sexually dimorphic, meaning that the males and females do not look similar.
  • They are highly opportunistic feeders.
  • Sparrows are vital for the ecosystem: These little birds support in further developing biodiversity and supporting plant growth in the ecosystem, resulting in healthier and greener environments. Sparrows consume and discharge seeds, helping in better spread of plant seeds, making the climate around us flourish. 
  • IUCN Status: Endangered

Context

The Katli river faces degradation due to unregulated mining activities in the riverbed. 

About

  • Katli river is also known as the Kantali river.
  • It is a rainfed seasonal river of Shekhawati region of Rajasthan in India.
  • It originates from Aravalli Range and empties in center of its Inland drainage basin in northwest region of Churu district
  • It flows through the Sikar, Jhunjhunu, Neem Ka Thana and Churu districts of Rajasthan.

S.No.

Term

About

1.        

Dimorphism

 

The term dimorphism denotes a trait that occurs in two distinct forms or morphs within a given species and traits that differ consistently between males and females are sexual dimorphisms.

2.        

Forced labour

Forced labour can be understood as work that is performed involuntarily and under the menace of any penalty.

3.        

Jet streams

Jet streams are narrow bands of strong wind that generally blow from west to east all across the globe. Earth has four primary jet streams: two polar jet streams, near the north and south poles, and two subtropical jet streams closer to the equator.

4.        

Treasury Bill

Treasury Bill is a money market instrument is issued by the Government of India. The bill is issued as a promissory note of repayment in the future. The purpose of a treasury note is to secure funds to meet the short-term fund requirements of the government.

5.        

Western disturbances

They are storms that originate in the Caspian or Mediterranean Sea and bring non-monsoonal rainfall to northwest India. A western disturbance is an area of low pressure that brings sudden showers, snow and fog in northwest India.

6.        

3D-printed rocket

A 3D-printed rocket is a spacecraft that features additively manufactured components using 3D-printing technology. Compared to most traditional rockets, the 3D-printed variety is more fuel efficient, lighter in weight and built in a fraction of the time.

Context:

Recent discussions and reflections have brought attention to the enduring and remarkable friendship between Bhutan and India despite vast differences in size and population. This enduring partnership has sparked interest and admiration, prompting further examination of the underlying factors that have fostered such a close relationship over the past 50 years and more.Top of Form

Basis of Strong Bilateral Ties:

  • Strong bond: Despite vast differences in size and population, India and Bhutan share a longstanding bond built on mutual respect and equality.
  • Essence in recognizing identities: The essence of their relationship lies in recognizing each other's sovereignty and unique cultural identities.
  • Trust: India's commitment to respecting Bhutan's autonomy and fostering its economic growth has cultivated a deep sense of trust between the two nations.

Development Initiatives and Future Prospects:

  • New chapter and opportunities: Bhutan's vision for a Mindfulness City at Gelephu, emphasizing sustainability and economic prosperity, signals a new chapter in bilateral cooperation. The success of the Gelephu Mindfulness City is expected to benefit not only Bhutan but also neighboring regions in India, fostering socio-economic development.
  • Crucial sectors: Hydropower cooperation, a cornerstone of their ties, has not only boosted Bhutan's economy but also exemplified successful government-to-government collaboration. To further enhance ties, India can consider measures such as initiating direct flights to Gelephu, providing technology assistance, and encouraging Indian investment in the city.
  • Exemplary Relationship: Upholding the principles of win-win cooperation, India and Bhutan continue to set an example of fruitful partnership and shared prosperity in the region.
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Context:

The Chief Justice of India's proposal to reward "super-performing" trial court judges to incentivize better performance within the judiciary has sparked discussions on the effectiveness and potential pitfalls of such an initiative.

Potential Pitfalls of Performance Incentivization:

  • Unintended consequences: While the initiative aims to promote efficiency and excellence within the judiciary, caution is warranted due to Goodhart's Law, which warns against relying too heavily on a single metric for evaluation as individuals may adjust their behavior to meet specific criteria, potentially leading to unintended consequences.
  • Cobra Effect: The historical example of the "Cobra Effect" during British rule in India illustrates the pitfalls of solely focusing on incentivizing performance. Offering a bounty on cobras to curb their population resulted in unintended consequences, as people bred cobras to capitalize on the lucrative reward.
  • Quantity over quality: Goodhart's Law highlights the risk of judges prioritizing quantity over quality if evaluated solely based on quantitative measures like case disposal rates, potentially compromising the thorough examination of cases and creating a pressure to take extreme measures to demonstrate competence.

Existing Evaluation Mechanism and Its Gaps:

  • Lack of scientific assessment: Currently, trial court judges are evaluated based on Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs), focusing on metrics like case disposal rates, resolution of old cases, and quality of judgments. However, the existing framework lacks scientific assessment of time required for different case categories, recognition of administrative duties.
  • Improvement: Instead of scrapping the current system, there is a need to improve. This includes considering the quality of judgments, adherence to ethics, and fairness and efficiency in handling cases.

Addressing the Glass Ceiling and Ensuring Equity:

  • Limited opportunity: The existence of a glass ceiling for trial court judges aspiring to become High Court judges, with less than one-third of High Court judge positions being occupied by district court judges. This limited opportunity undermines the effectiveness of rewarding the best-performing trial court judges.
  • Equal opportunities for trial court judges: Removing the glass ceiling must accompany any changes to the evaluation process to ensure equity and meritocracy within the judiciary.
  • Robust evaluation system: The evaluation process should not be viewed as an end in itself but as a means to attract and retain talent in the judiciary.
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Context:

Agrarian concerns and calls for legal assurances of Minimum Support Price (MSP) take centre stage ahead of general elections.

Challenges in Current Agricultural Scenario:

  • Highlighted agrarian issues: As general elections approach, farmers from agricultural hubs have converged at the capital's border, highlighting their distress and pushing for agrarian issues to be prioritized in the electoral discourse.
  • Unaddressed issues: While the government attempted to address concerns by offering to procure pulses, maize, and cotton at MSP, contingent upon crop diversification, farmers rejected these efforts, citing unaddressed core issues.
  • Comprehensive solution: The perennial issue of fair pricing for farm produce, coupled with demands for legal assurances of MSP, underscores the need for comprehensive solutions to ensure agricultural sustainability and equitable distribution.

Significance of MSP and Challenges in Implementation:

  • Poor implementation: MSP serves as a crucial tool in ensuring food security by setting a benchmark price for agricultural commodities, yet its implementation remains poor, benefiting only a small percentage of farmers, primarily those cultivating paddy and wheat in specific states.
  • Cycle of debt and distress: Most transactions occur below the MSP, rendering farming economically unviable for the majority and perpetuating a cycle of debt and distress, leading to tragic outcomes such as farmer suicides.
  • Assurance: Legal guarantees for MSP are supported by constitutional provisions, with public opinion strongly favoring the farmers' demand for such assurances.

Proposed Solutions and Policy Recommendations:

  • Fair remuneration: Introducing a minor amendment to State APMC Acts or the Essential Commodities Act at the central level could establish a legal framework preventing transactions below MSP, ensuring fair remuneration for farmers' produce.
  • Legal recourse: Accompanying legal recourse to MSP should be the development of essential agricultural infrastructure, including crop planning, market intelligence, and post-harvest facilities, to manage surplus production effectively.
  • Challenging prevailing free-market ideologies: Enhancing MSP to provide a 50% profit margin over total cost, along with effective procurement and distribution mechanisms, as outlined in the National Food Security Act, can address hunger, malnutrition, and farmer income disparity
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