Current Affairs 20 November
KambalaThe coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi are all set for the kambala. The races would be held under the auspices of the District Kambala Committee.
Karnataka government had promulgated Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 on July 20 last year. The President gave his assent to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Bill making Kambala a legal rural sport in Karnataka. The Bill seeks to exempt kambala and bullock-cart racing from the ambit of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960.
What is it? Kambla in its traditional form is non-competitive with buffalo pairs made to race one after another in paddy fields, which is considered a thanksgiving to the Gods for protecting the animals from diseases.
Why it has become controversial? Over the years, it has however become an organised sport with animal rights activists claiming that the buffaloes run in the race due to fear of being beaten, which the organizers dismiss, saying no violence is involved and that several modifications had been made to ensure that it is an animal friendly event.
What to study?
For Prelims: Key facts on Kambala.
For Mains: Kambala- For and Against issues.
UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report 2019
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to consider declaring all elephant corridors in the country as eco-sensitive zones.
What to study?
For Prelims: Highlights of the report.
For Mains: What hinders the spread of education and how migration is affecting?
Context: UNESCO global education monitoring report 2019 has been released.
Highlights of the report:
Literacy levels in rural households of India dip with seasonal migration:
In India, 10.7 million children aged 6 to 14 lived in rural households with a seasonal migrant in 2013. About 28% of youth aged 15 to 19 in these households were illiterate or had not completed primary school, compared to 18% of the cohort overall.
About 80% of seasonal migrant children in seven cities lacked access to education near work sites, and 40% are likely to end up in work rather than education, experiencing abuse and exploitation.
Inter-State migration rates have doubled between 2001 and 2011. An estimated 9 million migrated between States annually from 2011 to 2016. The report also warns of the negative impact on education for children who are left behind as their parents migrate.
The worst hit- Construction labors:
The construction sector absorbs the majority of short-term migrants. A survey in Punjab state of 3,000 brick kiln workers in 2015-16 found that 60% were inter-State migrants. Between 65% and 80% of all children aged five to 14 living at the kilns worked there seven to nine hours per day. About 77% of kiln workers reported lack of access to early childhood or primary education for their children.
What has been done in this regard?
India has taken steps to address the issue.
The Right to Education Act in 2009 made it mandatory for local authorities to admit migrant children.
National-level guidelines were issued, allowing for flexible admission of children, providing transport and volunteers to support with mobile education.
The policies were attempted to create seasonal hostels and aiming to improve coordination between sending and receiving districts and states.
Some State governments have also taken steps for migrant children’s education.
Most interventions are focused on keeping children in home communities instead of actively addressing the challenges faced by those who are already on the move.
There is growth of slums and informal settlements where schools are often scarce due to migration as a challenge. The report shows there is only one urban planner for every 1, 00,000 people in India, while there are 38 for every 1, 00,000 in the United Kingdom.
NGT has given two weeks time to the Ministry to look into the issue and to proceed in the matter for declaration of such areas as eco sensitive zones.
The observations came while the green panel was hearing a plea that highlighted the increasing number of unnatural elephant deaths taking place in the state. The petition said, “Owing to the increased denudation and loss of their forest habitats, elephants have come increasingly into conflicts with humans and faced deliberate retaliatory killings and accidents at railway crossings, high tension power lines, power fences and trenches.”
What are Eco-sensitive zones?
The Environment Protection Act, 1986 does not mention the word “Eco-sensitive Zones”.
The section 3(2)(v) of the Act, says that Central Government can restrict areas in which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries, operations or processes shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards
Besides the section 5 (1) of this act says that central government can prohibit or restrict the location of industries and carrying on certain operations or processes on the basis of considerations like the biological diversity of an area, maximum allowable limits of concentration of pollutants for an area, environmentally compatible land use, and proximity to protected areas.
The above two clauses have been effectively used by the government to declare Eco-Sensitive Zones or Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFA). The same criteria have been used by the government to declare No Development Zones.
The MoEF (Ministry of Environment & Forests) has approved a comprehensive set of guidelines laying down parameters and criteria for declaring ESAs. A committee constituted by MoEF put this together. The guidelines lay out the criteria based on which areas can be declared as ESAs. These include Species Based (Endemism, Rarity etc), Ecosystem Based (sacred groves, frontier forests etc) and Geomorphologic feature based (uninhabited islands, origins of rivers etc).
What to study?
For Prelims: What are ESZs? Important Elephant Corridors.
For Mains: Need, their significance and management issues.
World’s standard definition of kilogram now redefinedScientists have changed the way the kilogram is defined. The decision was made at the General Conference on Weights and Measures. The new definitions will come into force on 20 May 2019.
Why kill off the kilogram?
Currently, it is defined by the weight of a platinum-based ingot called “Le Grand K” which is locked away in a safe in Paris.
Le Grand K has been at the forefront of the international system of measuring weights since 1889. Several close replicas were made and distributed around the globe. But the master kilogram and its copies were seen to change – ever so slightly – as they deteriorated.
In a world where accurate measurement is now critical in many areas, such as in drug development, nanotechnology and precision engineering – those responsible for maintaining the international system had no option but to move beyond Le Grand K to a more robust definition.
How wrong is Le Grand K?
The fluctuation is about 50 parts in a billion, less than the weight of a single eyelash. But although it is tiny, the change can have important consequences.
How does the new system work?
Electromagnets generate a force. Scrap-yards use them on cranes to lift and move large metal objects, such as old cars. The pull of the electromagnet, the force it exerts, is directly related to the amount of electrical current going through its coils. There is, therefore, a direct relationship between electricity and weight.
So, in principle, scientists can define a kilogram, or any other weight, in terms of the amount of electricity needed to counteract the weight (gravitational force acting on a mass).
There is a quantity that relates weight to electrical current, called Planck’s constant – named after the German physicist Max Planck and denoted by the symbol h.
But h is an incredibly small number and to measure it, the research scientist Dr Bryan Kibble built a super-accurate set of scales. The Kibble balance, as it has become known, has an electromagnet that pulls down on one side of the scales and a weight – say, a kilogram – on the other. The electrical current going through the electromagnet is increased until the two sides are perfectly balanced.
By measuring the current running through the electromagnet to incredible precision, the researchers are able to calculate h to an accuracy of 0.000001%. This breakthrough has paved the way for Le Grand K to be deposed by “die kleine h”.
Facts for Prelims:
General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) is the highest international body of the world for accurate and precise measurements and comprises of 60 countries including India and 42 Associate Members.
U.K. India Business Council’s Ease of Doing Business reportAccording to the latest edition of the U.K. India Business Council’s Ease of Doing Business report, the perception among U.K. businesses that corruption is a major barrier in doing business in India has halved compared with what it was in 2015.
Key observations from the report:
There has been a considerable year-on-year fall in the number of companies that viewed ‘corruption’ as a major barrier – from 34% in 2016 to 25% in 2017. It has halved since 2015, where it stood at 51%.
This decline shows a major improvement, indicating that the current government’s efforts to mitigate corruption appear to be delivering tangible and much-desired results.
Corruption is no longer considered a ‘top-three’ barrier compared to those not currently active in India.
What made such steadfast progress?
The report noted that initiative such as Aadhaar, electronic submission of government documents, acceptance of electronic signatures, and the push to file taxes online. This all have reduced face-to-face interactions where corruption is most likely to take place.
The extent of digitalization, however, varies markedly across sectors, as does corruption, with those engaging in infrastructure projects still reporting significant issues relating to corruption.
Taxation issues and Price Points overtook ‘corruption’ as major barriers identified by 36% and 29% of respondents, respectively. The proportion of respondents identifying ‘taxation issues’ was 3% lower in 2018 than 2017.
The key issue for those outside India is increasingly market demand for their products and services relative to government and bureaucracy-related barriers.
What to study?
For Prelims: Highlights of the report.
For Mains: Performance of India as per the report, areas which need to be addressed.