Factly articles for 5th September 2020

19 min read

1.COVID-19 to push 47 mln women to poverty, widen gender gap: Report

News: UN Women and the UN Development Programme(UNDP) has released a report titled “From Insights to Action: Gender Equality in the wake of COVID-19”.

Facts:

  • What the report says: The report says that the coronavirus pandemic and its fallout will likely push 47 million more women into poverty, reversing decades of progress to eradicate extreme poverty.
  • The projections estimated that by 2021, for every 100 men aged between 25 and 34 living in extreme poverty, there will be 118 women. The gap is further expected to widen to 121 women per 100 men by 2030.

Additional Facts:

  • UN Women: It is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.It was established in 2010.
  • Objectives:
    • To support inter-governmental bodies such as the Commission on the Status of Women in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms.
    • To hold the UN system accountable for its own commitments on gender equality including regular monitoring of system-wide progress.
  • Commission on the Status of Women(CSW): It was established in 1946 as a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council(ECOSOC).It is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
  • Beijing Declaration: It was a resolution adopted by the United Nations(UN) at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995.
    • It sets strategic objectives for the advancement of women and gender equality in 12 critical areas of concern like women and health, women in power and decision-making, the girl-child, women and the environment.
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW): It was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is often described as an international bill of rights for women.It defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.

2.Kerala tops in care for children

News: Mobile Creches, a non-governmental organization has released reports Young Child Outcomes Index(YCOI) and Young Child Environment Index(YCEI) as a part of its ‘State of the Young Child in India’ report.

Facts:

  • Young Child Outcomes Index(YCOI): The index has been constructed for two time periods (2005–2006 and 2015–2016) to enable inter-State comparisons as well as provide an idea of change over time.
  • Parameters: The index measures health, nutrition and cognitive growth with the help of indicators such as infant mortality rate, stunting and net attendance at the primary school level.
  • Key Takeaways:
    • Top States: Kerala, Goa, Tripura, Tamil Nadu and Mizoram are among the top five States for well-being of children.
    • Below Average States: It identifies eight States that have scores below the country’s average: they are Assam, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
  • Young Child Environment Index(YCEI): The index aims to understand the policy and environment enablers that influence a child’s well-being.It was constructed for 2015–2016 only due to limitations of data availability.
  • Parameters: The index uses five policy enablers that influence child well-being outcomes, including poverty alleviation, strengthening primary health care, improving education levels, safe water supply and promotion of gender equity.
  • Key Takeaways:
    • Topped by: Kerala, Goa, Sikkim, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh secured the top five positions.
    • Below Average States: It identifies eight States that have scores below the country’s average: they are Assam, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

3.Conflicts should be resolved through peaceful means: BRICS

News: India’s External Affairs Minister has virtually attended the foreign ministers meeting of BRICS countries.During the meet, foreign minister said that any challenges to international peace and security and violent conflict in various parts of the world should be resolved through political and diplomatic engagement.

Facts:

  • BRICS: It is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • Origin: The acronym “BRIC” was initially formulated in 2001 by economist Jim O’Neill, of Goldman Sach.
    • The first BRIC Summit took place in 2009 in Russia.In 2010, South Africa was invited to join BRIC after which the group adopted the acronym BRICS.
  • Significance: The comprises 42% of the world’s population, has 23% of the global GDP and around 17% of the world trade.
  • Chairmanship: The Chairmanship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S.
  • Recent Summit: The 11th BRICS summit was held in 2019 in Brasilia, Brazil under the theme BRICS: Economic Growth for an Innovative Future.

4.Innovations ensure food supply to needy during pandemic

News: The innovations adopted by the Rajasthan government’s Food and Civil Supplies Department have ensured food supply to the poor and needy people across the State during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facts:

  • Rajasthan Government procured a record 22 lakh tonnes of wheat and has ensured Free distribution of foodgrains benefited 4.46 crore people registered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) by adopting several innovative methods.
  • What were the innovative methods adopted? Government ensured that 50% of fair price shops provided door to door delivery of wheat and pulses.
  • A dedicated control room working round the clock was established to monitor the grievance of the affected and stranded people.
  • The feedback obtained by the consumer helpline from the PDS beneficiaries and dealers, kirana shop owners and wholesalers was analysed daily and improvements made in the system.

5.Explained: The Pinaka missile system

News: The Ministry of Defence(MoD) has announced that it’s acquisition wing had signed contracts with three Indian companies for supply of six regiments of the Pinaka Rocket System to be deployed along borders with Pakistan and China.

Facts:

  • Pinaka: It is a multiple rocket launcher produced in India and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation for the Indian Army.
  • Range: The system has a maximum range of 40 km for Mark-I and 75 km for Mark-II, and can fire a salvo of 12 HE rockets in 44 seconds.
  • Significance: Pinaka can be used for attacking the adversary targets prior to the close quarter battles which involve smaller range artillery, armoured elements and the infantry.

6.RBI releases revised Priority Sector Lending(PSL) guidelines

News: Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has released revised priority sector lending (PSL) guidelines to augment funding for COVID-19 impacted companies.

Facts:

  • Aim: To align Priority Sector lending with emerging national priorities and bring sharper focus on inclusive development.
  • Key Revised PSL Guidelines:
    • Bank finance for start-ups (up to ₹50 crore), loans to farmers for installation of solar power plants for solarisation of grid connected agriculture pumps and loans for setting up Compressed BioGas (CBG) plants have been included as fresh categories eligible for finance under the priority sector.
    • The targets prescribed for “small and marginal farmers” and “weaker sections” are being increased in a phased manner.
    • The loan limits for renewable energy have been doubled and for improvement of health infrastructure, credit limit for health infrastructure (including those under ‘Ayushman Bharat’) has been doubled.

Additional Facts:

  • Priority Sector lending(PSL): It means those sectors which the Government and RBI consider as important for the development of the basic needs of the country and are to be given priority over other sectors.The banks are mandated to encourage the growth of such sectors with adequate and timely credit.
  • Under this, Commercial banks including foreign banks are required to mandatorily earmark 40% of the adjusted net bank credit for priority sector lending.
  • Regional rural banks and small finance banks will have to allocate 75% of adjusted net bank credit to PSL.
  • Categories: a) Agriculture b) Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises c) Export Credit d) Education e) Housing f) Social Infrastructure g) Renewable Energy and h) Others.

7.Project Dolphin: Why it is important to save a declining river species

News: Prime Minister announced Project Dolphin on Independence Day

Facts:

Project Dolphin:

  • The project is aimed at the conservation of the Gangetic Dolphins – both riverine as well as the oceanic dolphins in India.
  • Significance: Aquatic life is an indicator of the health of river ecosystems. As the Gangetic dolphin is at the top of the food chain, protecting the species and its habitat will ensure conservation of aquatic lives of the river.

Gangetic river dolphin: 

  • The Gangetic river dolphin inhabits the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.
  • Being a mammal, the Ganges River dolphin cannot breathe in the water and must surface every 30-120 seconds. Because of the sound it produces when breathing, the animal is popularly referred to as the ‘Susu’.
  • Population: 1,272 dolphins in Uttar Pradesh and 962 in Assam in 2019
  • Threats: construction of dams and barrages, and increasing pollution
  • IUCN Red List: Endangered
  • CITES: Appendix I.

Conservation Measures for Gangetic Dolphin:

  • Wildlife Protection Act: Gangetic Dolphin is protected under Schedule I of the Act. Further, Vikramshila Ganges Dolphin Sanctuary was established in Bihar under this Act.
  • Conservation Plan: The government also prepared The Conservation Action Plan for the Ganges River Dolphin 2010-2020, which “identified threats to Gangetic Dolphins and impact of river traffic, irrigation canals and depletion of prey-base on Dolphins populations”.
  • National Aquatic Animal: In 2009, National Ganga River Basin Authority, declared the Gangetic river dolphin as the national aquatic animal. The National Mission for Clean Ganga celebrates October 5 as National Ganga River Dolphin Day.

8.Explained: What counts as ‘Act of God’?

News: Businesses are looking towards a legal provision — the force majeure or “Act of God” clause— to cut losses.

Facts:

 Force majeure clause

  • It is an exception to the Law of Contract that releases the party of its obligations to an extent when events beyond their control take place and leave them unable to perform their part of the contract.

Conditions in which Force majeure clause can be used:

  • War, riots, natural disasters or acts of God, strikes, introduction of new government policy imposing an embargo, boycotts, outbreak of epidemics.
  • In case a contract does not have a force majeure clause, there are some protections in common law that can be invoked by parties.
    • For example, the Indian Contract Act, 1872 provides that a contract becomes void if it becomes impossible due to an event after the contract was signed that the party could not prevent.
  • Implications of force majeure clause
    • When the clause is triggered, parties can decide to break from their obligations temporarily or permanently without necessarily breaching the contract.
    • If a party to a contract believes that the other party has invoked the force majeure clause in an unjustified situation, it can move court seeking performance of the contract.
    • Court rulings have established that force majeure cannot be invoked when performance of the contract has become difficult, but only when it has become impossible.
    • Example: In April 2020, the Bombay High Court did not accept the force majeure argument in a case where the petitioner argued that Covid-19-related lockdowns had frustrated a contract for supply of steel.
  • Global precedents dealing with pandemics and force majeure
    • China’s Supreme People’s Court had recognised the 2002 SARS outbreak as a force majeure event.
    • Singapore enacted the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act to provide relief to businesses that could not perform their contractual obligations due to the pandemic.
    • The Paris Commercial Court ruled that the Covid-19 pandemic could be equated to a force majeure event.