Online Courses (English)
This just in:

State PCS

News Analysis

  • 19 Jul 2021
  • 58 min read
Social Justice

State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World

Why in News

A report titled 'The State of Food Security Nutrition in the World 2021 (SOFI)' has studied the impact of Covid-19 pandemic-induced income loss on food intake and malnutrition.

Key Points

  • Impact on Developing & Underdeveloped World: The biggest impact of Covid-19 on food security has been on almost all low-and middle-income countries.
    • Moreover, those countries where there were climate-related disasters or conflict or both along with economic downturns as a consequence of the pandemic containment measure, suffered the most.
    • More than half of the world’s undernourished are found in Asia (418 million) and more than one-third in Africa (282 million).
    • Compared with 2019, about 46 million more people in Africa, 57 million more in Asia, and about 14 million more in Latin America and the Caribbean were affected by hunger in 2020.
  • Likely to Miss SDG Targets: Globally, the world is not on track to achieve sustainable development goals (eliminating poverty (SDG 1) and hunger (SDG 2)) targets for any of the nutrition indicators by 2030.
    • This can be reflected in the finding that, after remaining virtually unchanged for five years, the prevalence of undernourishment (PoU) increased 1.5 percentage points in just one year.
    • Efforts to eradicate malnutrition in all its forms have been challenged by disruptions in essential nutrition interventions and negative impacts on dietary patterns during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Problems in Access to Healthy Food: Around 11.8 crore more people faced hunger in 2020 than in 2019, an increase of 18%.
    • There has been a significant dip in people’s affordability for healthy food due to a loss in income.
    • Nearly one in three people in the world (nearly 3 billion) did not have access to adequate food in 2020.
    • External (e.g. conflicts or climate shocks) and internal (e.g. low productivity and inefficient food supply chains) factors affecting food systems are pushing up the cost of nutritious foods which, combined with low incomes, are increasing the unaffordability of healthy diets.
  • Gender Disparity: There is a gap in access to food among men and women.
    • For every 10 food-insecure men, there were 11 food-insecure women in 2020, up from 10.6 in 2019.
    • Nearly a third of the world’s women of reproductive age suffer from anaemia.

Indian Scenario

  • Status of Malnutrition:
    • The prevalence of undernutrition among the total population in India was 15.3% during 2018-20. This is significantly low when compared to the global 8.9% during the same period.
      • This is an improvement from the 21.6% during 2004-06.
    • In the year 2020, about 17.3% of children under the age of five years suffered a wasted growth with low weight for height, the highest among countries.
      • About 31% of children have low height for age (stunted) which is an improvement from 41.7% in 2012 but is still higher than many other countries in the world.
    • The country has observed an increase in the prevalence of obesity among the adult population from 3.% in 2012 to 3.9% in 2016.
    • The prevalence of anaemia among women of reproductive age has only marginally improved from 53.2%in 2012 to 53% in 2019.
  • Related Initiatives:

Way Forward

  • The report has laid down the following six ways through which food systems could be transformed to address the major drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition and ensure access to affordable healthy diets for all, sustainably and inclusively.
    • Integrate humanitarian, development and peacebuilding policies in conflict areas – for example, through social protection measures to prevent families from selling meagre assets in exchange for food.
    • Scale-up climate resilience across food systems – for example, by offering smallholder farmers wide access to climate risk insurance and forecast-based financing.
    • Strengthen the resilience of the most vulnerable to economic adversity – for example, through in-kind or cash support programmes to lessen the impact of pandemic-style shocks or food price volatility.
    • Intervene along supply chains to lower the cost of nutritious foods – for example, by encouraging the planting of biofortified crops or making it easier for fruit and vegetable growers to access markets.
    • Tackle poverty and structural inequalities – for example, by boosting food value chains in poor communities through technology transfers and certification programmes.
    • Strengthen food environments and change consumer behaviour – for example, by eliminating industrial trans fats and reducing the salt and sugar content in the food supply or protecting children from the negative impact of food marketing.

Source: DTE


Governance

Plea Challenges Sedition Law

Why in News

Recently, a petition was filed in the Supreme court (SC), that seeks a relook into the Sedition Law.

Key Points

  • From Petitioner:
    • The nearly-60-year old judgment helped sedition to survive in Indian Penal Code.
    • The 1962 judgment in the KedarNath case, which upheld Section 124A (sedition), a relic of the colonial legacy, was given at a time when doctrines such as ‘chilling effect’ (Deterring effect resulting from restrictive law) on free speech were unheard of. It was delivered at a time when scope and inter-relationship of fundamental rights were rather restrictive.
      • In the Kedar Nath judgment, the court had reasoned that without Section 124A, the State would be in jeopardy if the government was subverted. It, however, said that Section 124A would apply only to expressions that either intended to or had the tendency to cause violence were punishable as ‘sedition’.
  • Court’s Ruling:
    • It sends a strong message to the government that sedition is being misused by the authorities to trample upon citizens’ fundamental rights of free speech and liberty.
      • SC made it clear that the court is sensitive to the public demand to judicially review the manner in which law enforcement authorities are using the sedition law to control free speech and send journalists, activists and dissenters to jail, and keep them there.
    • Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code may have passed its time.
    • The Court said “a statute criminalising expression based on unconstitutionally vague definitions of ‘disaffection towards Government’ etc. is an unreasonable restriction on the fundamental right to free expression guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a) and causes constitutionally impermissible ‘Chilling Effect’ on speech”.
  • Background of Sedition Law:
    • Sedition laws were enacted in 17th century England when lawmakers believed that only good opinions of the government should survive, as bad opinions were detrimental to the government and monarchy.
    • The law was originally drafted in 1837 by Thomas Macaulay, the British historian-politician, but was inexplicably omitted when the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was enacted in 1860.
    • Section 124A was inserted in 1870 by an amendment introduced by Sir James Stephen when it felt the need for a specific section to deal with the offence.
      • It was one of the many draconian laws enacted to stifle any voices of dissent at that time.
      • It was used by the British to silence Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
  • Sedition Law Today: Sedition is a crime under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
    • Section 124A IPC:
      • It defines sedition as an offence committed when "any person by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India".
      • Disaffection includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity. However, comments without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, will not constitute an offence under this section.
    • Punishment for the Offence of Sedition:
      • Sedition is a non-bailable offence. Punishment under the Section 124A ranges from imprisonment up to three years to a life term, to which fine may be added.
      • A person charged under this law is barred from a government job.
        • They have to live without their passport and must produce themselves in the court at all times as and when required.

Analysis

  • Arguments in Favour of Section 124A:
    • Has its utility in combating anti-national, secessionist and terrorist elements.
    • It protects the elected government from attempts to overthrow the government with violence and illegal means.
    • If contempt of court invites penal action, contempt of government should also attract punishment.
    • Many districts in different states face a maoist insurgency and rebel groups, they openly advocate the overthrow of the state government by revolution.
    • Against this backdrop, the abolition of Section 124A would be ill-advised merely because it has been wrongly invoked in some highly publicized cases.
  • Arguments against Section 124A:
    • It is a constraint on the legitimate exercise of constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression.
    • Dissent and criticism of the government are essential ingredients of robust public debate in a vibrant democracy. They should not be constructed as sedition.
    • The British, who introduced sedition to oppress Indians, have themselves abolished the law in their country. There is no reason why India should not abolish this section.
    • The terms used under Section 124A like 'disaffection' are vague and subject to different interpretations to the whims and fancies of the investigating officers.
    • IPC and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 2019 have provisions that penalize "disrupting the public order" or "overthrowing the government with violence and illegal means". These are sufficient for protecting national integrity.
    • The sedition law is being misused as a tool to persecute political dissent.
    • In 1979, India ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which sets forth internationally recognized standards for the protection of freedom of expression. However, misuse of sedition and arbitrary slapping of charges are inconsistent with India's international commitments.

Way Forward

  • India is the largest democracy of the world and the right to free speech and expression is an essential ingredient of democracy. The expression or thought that is not in consonance with the policy of the government of the day should not be considered as sedition.
  • Section 124A should not be misused as a tool to curb free speech. The SC caveat, given in the KedarNath case, on prosecution under the law can check its misuse. It needs to be examined under the changed facts and circumstances and also on the anvil of ever-evolving tests of necessity, proportionality and arbitrariness.

Source: TH


Social Justice

Challenge to Restitution of Conjugal Rights

Why in News

The Supreme Court (SC) is going to hear a fresh challenge to the provision allowing restitution (recovery) of conjugal rights under Hindu personal laws (Hindu Marriage act 1955).

Key Points

  • Conjugal Rights:
    • Conjugal rights are rights created by marriage, i.e. right of the husband or the wife to the society of the other spouse.
    • The law recognises these rights— both in personal laws dealing with marriage, divorce etc, and in criminal law requiring payment of maintenance and alimony to a spouse.
    • Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act recognises one aspect of conjugal rights — the right to consortium and protects it by allowing a spouse to move court to enforce the right.
    • The concept of restitution of conjugal rights is codified in Hindu personal law now, but has colonial origins.
      • Originating from Jewish law, the provision for restitution of conjugal rights reached India and other common law countries through British Rule.
      • The British law treated wives as their husband's personal possession hence they were not allowed to leave their husbands.
    • Similar provisions exist in Muslim personal law as well as the Divorce Act, 1869, which governs Christian family law.
      • Incidentally, in 1970, the U.K repealed the law on restitution of conjugal rights.
  • Challenged Provision:
    • Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which deals with restitution of conjugal rights, reads:
      • When either the husband or the wife has, without reasonable excuse, withdrawn from the society of the other, the aggrieved party may apply, by petition to the district court.
      • For restitution of conjugal rights and the court, on being satisfied of the truth of the statements made in such a petition and that there is no legal ground why the application should not be granted, may decree restitution of conjugal rights accordingly.
  • Reason for Challenging the Law:
    • Violation of Rights:
      • The law is being challenged now on the main grounds that it violates the fundamental right to privacy.
      • In 2019, a nine-judge Bench of the SC recognised the right to privacy as a fundamental right.
        • The right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.
      • The 2019 judgement has set the stage for potential challenges to several laws such as criminalisation of homosexuality, marital rape, restitution of conjugal rights, the two-finger test in rape investigations.
      • The plea argues that a court-mandated restitution of conjugal rights amounted to a “coercive act” on the part of the state, which violates one’s sexual and decisional autonomy, and right to privacy and dignity.
    • Biased Against Women:
      • Although the law is gender-neutral since it allows both wife and husband to seek restitution of conjugal rights, the provision disproportionately affects women.
      • Women are often called back to marital homes under the provision, and given that marital rape is not a crime, leaves them susceptible to such coerced cohabitation.
      • It is also argued whether the state can have such a compelling interest in protecting the institution of marriage that it allows a legislation to enforce cohabitation of spouses.
    • Not in Consonance with SC Judgements:
      • In the recent judgement of Joseph Shine v Union of India 2019, the SC has put great emphasis on the right to privacy and bodily autonomy of married women, stating that marriage does not take away their sexual freedom nor choice.
      • If everybody is entitled to their bodily autonomy, choice, and right to privacy, how can a court mandate two adults to cohabit if one of them does not wish to do so.
        • How can courts preach autonomy of the body and then turn around and decree otherwise.
    • Misuse of the Provision:
      • Another pertinent matter to take into consideration is the misuse of this provision as a shield against divorce proceedings and alimony payments.
      • Often an aggrieved spouse files for divorce from their place of residence and their spouse retaliates by filing for a decree of restitution in their place of residence.
  • Previous Judgements:
    • In 1984, the SC had upheld Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act in the case of Saroj Rani v Sudarshan Kumar Chadha, holding that the provision serves a social purpose as an aid to the prevention of break-up of marriage.
    • In 1983, a single-judge bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court had for the first time struck down the provision in the case of T Sareetha v T Venkatasubbaiah and declared it null and void.
      • It cited the right to privacy among other reasons. The court also held that in “a matter so intimately concerned the wife or the husband the parties are better left alone without state interference”.
      • The court had, most importantly, also recognised that compelling “sexual cohabitation” would be of “grave consequences for women”.
    • However, in the same year, a single-judge Bench of the Delhi High Court took a diametrically opposite view of the law. In the case of Harvinder Kaur v Harmander Singh Chaudhry, the Delhi High Court upheld the provision.

Way Forward

  • While we talk about gender equality and the gender-neutral quality of the law, women are still at a disadvantage in Indian society and this provision capitalises on it.
  • Dowry deaths are a plague on society and women being emotionally and mentally manipulated and tortured for dowry are aplenty.
  • When these wives, tired and broken by cruelty, leave the husband's house, a decree of restitution of conjugal rights is a noose around their necks.
  • It's time for the Indian judiciary and society to shift to more progressive views starting with the progressive theory of marriage. Marriage is not built upon the ceremonies but upon the autonomy and freedom of two individuals who agree to share them with each other.

Source: IE


Science & Technology

Pegasus Spyware

Why in News

Recently, it has been reported that Pegasus, the malicious software, has allegedly been used to secretly monitor and spy on an extensive host of public figures in India.

Key Points

  • About Pegasus:
    • It is a type of malicious software or malware classified as a spyware.
      • It is designed to gain access to devices, without the knowledge of users, and gather personal information and relay it back to whoever it is that is using the software to spy.
    • Pegasus has been developed by the Israeli firm NSO Group that was set up in 2010.
    • The earliest version of Pegasus discovered, which was captured by researchers in 2016, infected phones through what is called spear-phishing – text messages or emails that trick a target into clicking on a malicious link.
    • Since then, however, NSO’s attack capabilities have become more advanced. Pegasus infections can be achieved through so-called “zero-click” attacks, which do not require any interaction from the phone’s owner in order to succeed.
      • These will often exploit “zero-day” vulnerabilities, which are flaws or bugs in an operating system that the mobile phone’s manufacturer does not yet know about and so has not been able to fix.
  • Targets:
    • Human Rights activists, journalists and lawyers around the world have been targeted with phone malware sold to authoritarian governments by an Israeli surveillance firm.
    • Indian ministers, government officials and opposition leaders also figure in the list of people whose phones may have been compromised by the spyware.
      • In 2019, WhatsApp filed a lawsuit in the US court against Israel's NSO Group, alleging that the firm was incorporating cyber-attacks on the application by infecting mobile devices with malicious software.
  • Recent Steps Taken in India:
    • Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative: It was launched in 2018 with an aim to spread awareness about cybercrime and building capacity for safety measures for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and frontline IT staff across all government departments.
    • National Cyber security Coordination Centre (NCCC): In 2017, the NCCC was developed to scan internet traffic and communication metadata (which are little snippets of information hidden inside each communication) coming into the country to detect real-time cyber threats.
    • Cyber Swachhta Kendra: In 2017, this platform was introduced for internet users to clean their computers and devices by wiping out viruses and malware.
    • Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C): I4C was recently inaugurated by the government.
      • National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal has also been launched pan India.
    • Computer Emergency Response Team - India (CERT-IN): It is the nodal agency which deals with cybersecurity threats like hacking and phishing.
    • Legislation:
  • International Mechanisms:
    • International Telecommunication Union (ITU): It is a specialized agency within the United Nations which plays a leading role in the standardization and development of telecommunications and cyber security issues.
    • Budapest Convention on Cybercrime: It is an international treaty that seeks to address Internet and computer crime (cybercrime) by harmonizing national laws, improving investigative techniques, and increasing cooperation among nations. It came into force on 1st July 2004.
      • India is not a signatory to this convention.

Types of Cyber Attacks

  • Malware: It is short for malicious software, refers to any kind of software that is designed to cause damage to a single computer, server, or computer network. Ransomware, Spy ware, Worms, viruses, and Trojans are all varieties of malware.
  • Phishing: It is the method of trying to gather personal information using deceptive e-mails and websites.
  • Denial of Service attacks: A Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack is an attack meant to shut down a machine or network, making it inaccessible to its intended users.
    • DoS attacks accomplish this by flooding the target with traffic, or sending it information that triggers a crash.
  • Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks: Also known as eavesdropping attacks, occur when attackers insert themselves into a two-party transaction.
    • Once the attackers interrupt the traffic, they can filter and steal data.
  • SQL Injection: SQL stands for Structured Query Language, a programming language used to communicate with databases.
    • Many of the servers that store critical data for websites and services use SQL to manage the data in their databases.
    • A SQL injection attack specifically targets such kinds of servers, using malicious code to get the server to divulge information it normally wouldn’t.
  • Cross-Site Scripting (XSS): Similar to an SQL injection attack, this attack also involves injecting malicious code into a website, but in this case the website itself is not being attacked.
    • Instead the malicious code the attacker has injected, only runs in the user's browser when they visit the attacked website, and it goes after the visitor directly, not the website.
  • Social Engineering: It is an attack that relies on human interaction to trick users into breaking security procedures in order to gain sensitive information that is typically protected.

Source: TH


International Relations

Protests in Cuba

Why in News

Recently, thousands of Cubans took to the streets across the country to protest longstanding restrictions on rights, scarcity of food and medicines, and the government’s poor response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • These protests are the biggest anti-government demonstrations on the Communist-run island in decades.

Key Points

  • Ongoing Protests:
    • The anti-government protests erupted amid Cuba's worst economic crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union, its former ally, or end of the cold war (1945-1991).
      • Cuba has been an authoritarian communist state for more than six decades.
    • Cuba has been hit hard by US sanctions and Covid-19.
    • Cubans have been angered by the collapse of the economy, food and medicine shortages, price hikes and the government's handling of the pandemic.
    • Protesters shouted "freedom" and demanded for President Miguel Diaz-Canel to step down.
    • On the other hand, Cuba's President blamed the US for the turmoil.
      • He called tight sanctions imposed by the US on Cuba, has resulted in a policy of economic suffocation and is the prime reason for protests in Cuba.
    • Further, the US President said the US stands with the people of Cuba in their call for freedom.
  • History of Cuba:
    • From the 15th century, Cuba was a colony of Spain until the Spanish–American War of 1898, when Cuba was occupied by the US.
      • However, Cuba gained nominal independence as a de facto United States protectorate in 1902.
    • In 1940, Cuba attempted to strengthen its democratic system. But, political radicalization and social strife culminated in a coup and subsequent dictatorship under Fulgencio Batista in 1952.
    • Open corruption and oppression under Batista's rule led to his ousting in January 1959 by the 26th of July Movement. This established communist rule under the leadership of Fidel Castro.
    • Since 1965, the state has been governed by the Communist Party of Cuba.
    • Moreover, the country was a point of contention during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. A nuclear war nearly broke out during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
  • USA-Cuba Relationship: The United States and Cuba have had a strained relationship for more than sixty years. The tumultuous US-Cuba relationship has its roots in the Cold War. This can be reflected in the following events.
    • Cuban Revolution: In 1959, Fidel Castro and a group of revolutionaries seized power in Havana (city capital of Cuba). They overthrew the US-backed government of Fulgencio Batista.
      • After the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro’s government began nationalizing American-owned properties, imposed economic penalties on trade with the US and increased its trade with the Soviet Union.
    • Cuban Missile Crisis: Aftermath of events following Cuban revolution, the United States severed diplomatic ties with Cuba and began pursuing covert operations to overthrow the Fidel Castro regime in 1961.
      • This followed an attempt by the US agencies to topple Cuban Government, known as the Bay of Pigs invasion.
      • In response, Cuba allowed the Soviet Union to secretly install nuclear missiles on the island. This brought the US and Soviet Union on the brink of Nuclear war.
      • In the end, Soviet Union agreed to withdraw the missiles in exchange for a pledge from the US not to invade Cuba and to remove the US nuclear missiles from Turkey.
    • US Sanctions: After Cuban Missile Crisis, the US instituted a ban on nearly all its exports to Cuba, which US President John F. Kennedy expanded into a full economic embargo that included stringent travel restrictions.
      • These economic sanctions continue till today.
      • US President Barack Obama took several steps to normalize bilateral relations, including restoring diplomatic ties and expanding travel and trade.
      • However, the Trump administration reversed aspects of the past agreements by reimposing restrictions on tourism and other commerce.
  • India's Stand:
    • Presently, India is yet to declare its stance on the current ongoing protest, but India in the past has supported lifting the economic blockade of Cuba.
    • In the UN General Assembly, India stressed that the continued existence of this siege by the US against Cuba undermines multilateralism and the credibility of the United Nations.

Communist Country

  • A Communist country is a nation that is governed by a single party, and the foundation of the ruling leaders' decisions is based on the philosophies of Marx and Lenin.
  • Communism is a political, social, philosophical, and economic doctrine aiming to replace private property profit-based economy with common ownership of major means of production.

Source: TH


Governance

New Commission for Air Quality Management

Why in News

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is set to table the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Bill, 2021 in Parliament during the Monsoon Session.

Key Points

  • Background and New Changes:
    • Initially, the Commission for Air Quality Management ordinance was promulgated by the President in October, 2020 but the bill to replace the ordinance was not passed in the budget session of Parliament, as a result of which the commission ceased to operate in March, 2021.
    • Subsequently, the MoEFCC brought a second ordinance in April 2021, with modifications due to the farmers’ protest.
      • Farmers had raised concerns of stiff penalties and possible jail terms for stubble burning (as stated in the first ordinance).
      • The government has decriminalised the act of stubble burning and withdrawn the clause for possible jail time.
      • However, environmental compensation fees are levied on those who are found to be engaged in stubble burning, including farmers.
  • About the Bill:
    • It provides for the constitution of a Commission for better coordination, research, identification, and resolution of problems related to air quality in the National Capital Region (NCR) and adjoining areas.
      • Adjoining areas have been defined as areas in the states of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh adjoining the NCR where any source of pollution may cause adverse impact on air quality in the NCR.
    • It also dissolves the Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority established in the NCR in 1998.
  • Composition:
  • Functions:
    • Coordinating actions taken by concerned state governments (Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh).
    • Planning and executing plans to prevent and control air pollution in the NCR.
    • Providing a framework for identification of air pollutants.
    • Conducting research and development through networking with technical institutions.
    • Training and creating a special workforce to deal with issues related to air pollution.
    • Preparing various action plans such as increasing plantation and addressing stubble burning.
  • Powers:
    • The new body will have the power to issue directions and entertain complaints as it deems necessary for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the air in the NCR and adjoining areas.
    • It will also lay down parameters for control of air pollution (such as permissible levels of emissions and discharge of pollutants).
    • It will also be in charge of identifying violators, monitoring factories and industries and any other polluting unit in the region, and will have the powers to shut down such units.
    • It will also have the powers to overrule directives issued by the state governments in the region, that may be in violation of pollution norms.

Way Forward

  • Legal and regulatory changes to tackle public issues like air pollution, need a democratic conceptualisation.
  • There is a need for the massive augmentation of intra-city public transport, and to move industries, power plants and other users away from polluting fuels like coal to natural gas, electricity and renewable energy to ensure clean combustion.
  • The government should undertake a thorough review of the various laws and institutions in order to look at their efficacy and utility; it must have detailed consultation with all relevant stakeholders, especially those outside Delhi, which includes farmers’ groups and small scale industries and the public at large.

Source: IE


Social Justice

Midday Meal Scheme: New Study

Why in News

Recently, a new study on the intergenerational benefits of India’s Midday Meal Scheme was published.

Key Points

  • About the Study:
    • It found that midday meals leave a long-lasting impact. Children of mid-day meal scheme beneficiaries show better growth.
    • The study used the nationally representative data on cohorts of mothers and their children by birth year and socio-economic status spanning 23 years.
    • It is a first-of-its-kind inter-generational analysis of the impacts of a mass feeding programme.
  • Height-to-Age Ratio :
    • Girls who had access to the free lunches provided at government schools, had children with a higher height-to-age ratio than those who did not.
  • Linkage of Midday Meal & Stunting:
    • By 2016, the prevalence of stunting was significantly lower in areas where the mid scheme was implemented in 2005.
    • The linkages between midday meals and lower stunting in the next generation were stronger in lower socio-economic strata and likely work through women’s education, fertility, and use of health services.
  • Interruption:
    • The interruptions to schooling and to the midday meal scheme could have even longer term impacts, hurting the nutritional health of the next generation as well.

Note:

  • Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients.
  • The term malnutrition covers 2 broad groups of conditions. One is ‘undernutrition’—which includes stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), underweight (low weight for age) and micronutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies (a lack of important vitamins and minerals).
  • Hidden hunger is a lack of vitamins and minerals. It occurs when the quality of food people eat does not meet the nutrient requirements. The food is deficient in micronutrients such as the vitamins and minerals that are needed for their growth and development.

Midday Meal Scheme

  • About:
    • The Midday meal scheme (under the Ministry of Education) is a centrally sponsored scheme which was launched in 1995.
    • It is the world’s largest school meal programme aimed to attain the goal of universalization of primary education.
    • Provides cooked meals to every child within the age group of six to fourteen years studying in classes I to VIII who enrolls and attends the school.
  • Objective:
    • Address hunger and malnutrition, increase enrolment and attendance in school, improve socialisation among castes, provide employment at grassroot level especially to women.
  • Quality Check:
    • AGMARK quality items are procured, tasting of meals by two or three adult members of the school management committee.
  • Food Security:
    • If the Mid-Day Meal is not provided in school on any school day due to non-availability of food grains or any other reason, the State Government shall pay food security allowance by 15th of the succeeding month.
  • Regulation:
    • The State Steering-cum Monitoring Committee (SSMC) oversees the implementation of the scheme including establishment of a mechanism for maintenance of nutritional standards and quality of meals.
  • Nutritional Standards:
    • Cooked meal having nutritional standards of 450 calories and 12 gm of protein for primary (I-V class) and 700 calories and 20 gm protein for upper primary (VI-VIII class)
  • Coverage:
  • Issues and Challenges:
    • Corrupt Practices:
      • There have been instances of plain chapatis being served with salt, mixing of water in milk, food poisoning etc.
    • Caste Bias and Discrimination:
      • Food is central to the caste system, so in many schools, children are made to sit separately according to their caste status.
    • Covid-19:
      • Covid-19 has posed serious threats to children and their health and nutritional rights.
      • The nationwide lockdown has disrupted access to essential services, including Mid-Day Meals.
      • Although dry foodgrains or cash transfers have been provided to families instead, food and education advocates have warned that this would not have the same impact as hot cooked meals on the school premises, especially for girl children who face more discrimination at home and are more likely to drop out of school due to the closures.
    • Menace of Malnutrition:
      • According to the National Family Health Survey-5, several states across the country have reversed course and recorded worsening levels of child malnutrition.
      • India is home to about 30% of the world’s stunted children and nearly 50% of severely wasted children under the age of five.
    • Global Nutrition Report-2020:
    • Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2020:

Way Forward

  • Interventions to improve maternal height and education must be implemented years before those girls and young women become mothers.
    • The fight against stunting has often focussed on boosting nutrition for young children, but nutritionists have long argued that maternal health and well-being is the key to reduce stunting in their offspring.
  • Expansion and improvement of school meals is needed for inter-generational pay-offs. As girls in India finish school, get married and have children all in just a few years — so school-based interventions can really help.

Source: TH


Science & Technology

Hubble Space Telescope

Why in News

NASA has returned the science instruments on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to operational status, almost a month after suspending their work due to trouble with its payload computer.

Key Points

  • About:
    • It is named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble.
    • The observatory is the first major optical telescope to be placed in space and has made groundbreaking discoveries in the field of astronomy since its launch (into Low Earth orbit in 1990).
      • It is said to be the “most significant advance in astronomy since Galileo’s telescope.”
    • It is a part of NASA's Great Observatories Program - a family of four space-based observatories, each observing the Universe in a different kind of light.
  • Large and Versatile:
    • It is larger than a school bus in size (13.3 meters), and has a 7.9 feet mirror.
    • It captures images of deep space playing a major role in helping astronomers understand the universe by observing the most distant stars, galaxies and planets.
  • Data Open to People:
    • NASA also allows anyone from the public to search the Hubble database for which new galaxy it captured, what unusual did it notice about our stars, solar system and planets and what patterns of ionised gases it observed, on any specific day.
  • Important Contribution of HST:
    • Expansion of the Universe was accelerating (1990s), this in turn led to a conclusion that most of the cosmos was made up of mystery "stuff" called dark energy.
    • Snapshot of Southern Ring Nebula (1995), it showed two stars, a bright white star and a fainter dull star at the centre of the nebula where the dull star was indeed creating the whole nebula.
    • Collusion of two dwarf galaxies (1998) one of which is I Zwicky 18. This led to the formation of a new Star.
    • Colourful patterns of gases in a black hole powered galaxy known as the ‘Circinus Galaxy’(1999).
    • Collision between two galaxies UGC 06471 and UGC 06472 (2000).
    • Snapshot of Neptune (2011): The image of the most distant planet revealed the formation of high-altitude clouds composed of methane ice crystals.
    • The disc surrounding a star ‘Beta Pictoris’, which was discovered in 1984, was found to be constituted by two planets, light-scattering dust and debris in 2012.
    • It captured the 'Galaxy Cluster Abell 2744’ in 2013. It is 3.5 billion light-years away and has several clusters of small galaxies in it.
      • It also poses a strong gravitational field which acts as a lens to reflect the light of almost 3,000 background galaxies.
    • Captured an encounter of a comet named C/2013 A1 with Mars in 2014.
      • The ‘Comet Siding Spring’ passed with a distance of just 87,000 miles to that of Mars.
    • The ‘Gum 29’, a vibrant stellar being ground, which is 20,000 light-years away, consisting of a giant cluster of 3,000 stars was captured in 2014.
      • This behemoth cluster of stars is called ‘Westerlund 2’.
    • Captured the disintegration of an ancient comet 332P/Ikeya-Murakami in 2016.
    • The Triangulum Galaxy was snapped depicting the specific areas of star birth with a bright blue light spreading across the galaxy in beautiful nebulas of hot gas in 2017.
    • Picture of ‘Galaxy ESO 243-49, which had a medium-sized black hole in 2012.
      • The 20,000 suns sized black hole was positioned on a glacial plane of the galaxy.
  • Successor of HST:
    • A successor to Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is scheduled to launch later this year.
    • But many astronomers hope that the two will be able to operate alongside each other - at least for some period of time.

James Webb Space Telescope

  • The James Webb Space Telescope (also called JWST or Webb) will be a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror.
  • The telescope will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana in 2021.
  • It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.
  • Webb is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

Source: IE


Geography

Moon’s Wobble Effect

Why in News

Recently, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has highlighted Moon’s Wobble as a potential problem in the near future.

Key Points

  • Moon’s Wobble:
    • When the Moon makes its elliptical orbit, its velocity varies and alters causing our perspective of the "light side" to appear at slightly different angles. This is what it calls the Moon’s wobble or that is how it appears to our eyes.
    • It is a cyclical shift in the moon’s orbit, it is a regular swaying (Oscillation) in the moon’s orbit.
    • It was first documented way back in 1728. This wobble takes over an 18.6-year period to complete. It acts as a background of sea level rise.
  • Impact of Wobble on Earth:
    • The moon wobble impacts the gravitational pull of the moon, and therefore, indirectly influences the ebb and flow of tides on the Earth.
    • Each wobble cycle has the power to amplify and suppress the tides on Earth.
      • During half of the Moon’s orbit of 18.6 years, the Earth's regular tides are suppressed i.e. high tides are lower than normal and low tides higher than normal (Current situation).
      • In the other half, the effect is reversed, which is called the tide-amplifying phase of the Moon.
  • Related Concerns:
    • The lunar cycle is expected to shift again by mid-2030, and in the coming phase, the tides will amplify once again.
    • The upcoming changes in the lunar cycle will pose a serious threat, as the amplified high tides coupled with the rising sea levels will make the risk of flooding far greater across all coastal regions of the globe.
      • It raises the baseline, and the more the baseline is raised, the smaller the weather event to cause flooding.
    • The high tide-associated floods—also known as nuisance floods or sunny day floods—may occur in clusters that could last for months or even for longer periods.
    • This surge will be closely associated with the position of the Moon, Earth and the Sun.

Tides

  • About:
    • Tides can be defined as the alternate rise and fall of the ocean water.
  • Occurrence:
    • It is caused by the combined effects of the gravitational force exerted on Earth by the Sun, the gravitational force exerted on Earth by the Moon and rotation of the Earth.
  • Types:
    • Spring Tide: It occurs during the full moon and new moon days when the sun, the moon and the earth are in the same line twice each lunar month all year long, without regard to the season.
    • Neap Tide: It occurs when the moon is in its first and last quarter, the ocean waters get drawn in diagonally opposite directions by the gravitational pull of sun and earth resulting in low tides.
  • Stages of Tidal Changes:
    • High tide is the stage when the tidal crest arrives at a particular location on shore, raising the local sea level.
    • Low tide is the stage when the trough arrives, lowering the local sea level.
    • Flood tide is a rising or incoming tide between low tide and high tide.
    • Ebb tide is a falling or outgoing tide between high tide and low tide.
      • The vertical distance between high tide and low tide is the tidal range.
  • Impact:
    • Tides affect other aspects of oceanic life, including the reproductive activities of fish and ocean plants.
    • High tides help in navigation. They raise the water level close to the shores which helps the ships to arrive at the harbour more easily.
    • Tides stirr the ocean water that makes habitable climatic conditions and balance the temperatures on the planets.
    • The fast movement of water during the inflow and outflow will provide a source of renewable energy to communities living along the coast.

Source: IE


SMS Alerts
 

Please login or register to view note list

close

Please login or register to list article as bookmarked

close
 

Please login or register to make your note

close

Please login or register to list article as progressed

close

Please login or register to list article as bookmarked

close