Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Seattle Policy against caste discrimination
- Menstrual Leave
- Mission Shakti
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Seattle Policy against caste discrimination
Context: the Seattle City Council became the first U.S. city to ban caste-based discrimination. Amending the City Municipal Code, an ordinance was issued, including caste as a class to be protected against discrimination, alongside race, gender, and religion. Several universities in the U.S., including Harvard, Brown and California State University, have added the caste criteria to its anti-discrimination policies.
Seattle policy against casted based discrimination
- The Seattle City Council added caste to the city’s anti-discrimination laws, becoming the first U.S. city to specifically ban caste discrimination.
- The law defines caste as a “rigid social stratification characterized by hereditary status, endogamy and social barriers sanctioned by custom, law or religion,” the council said discrimination based on caste was occurring in Seattle and that the legislation would prohibit “such caste-based discrimination against individuals.
- The fight to address caste discrimination was led by Dalit rights activists and organisations like Equality Labs and other local groups, many of whom originally hailed from India.
- The Equality Labs 2016 Caste in the United States survey found that one in four Dalits in the U.S. had faced verbal or physical assault and two out of every three said they had faced discrimination at work.
- Over the past three years, several colleges and university systems have moved to prohibit caste discrimination.
- In December 2019, Brandeis University near Boston became the first U.S. college to include caste in its non-discrimination policy
- The U.S. is the second most popular destination for Indians living abroad, according to the Migration Policy Institute, which estimates the U.S. diaspora grew from about 206,000 in 1980 to about 2.7 million in 2021. The group South Asian Americans Leading Together reports that nearly 5.4 million South Asians live in the U.S.— up from the 3.5 million counted in the 2010 census. Most trace their roots to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
What is the status in India?
- The origins of the caste system in India can be traced back 3,000 years as a social hierarchy based on one’s occupation and birth. It is a system that has evolved over the centuries under Muslim and British rule. The suffering of those who are at the bottom of the caste pyramid— known as Dalits— has continued. Caste discrimination has been prohibited in India since 1948, a year after the nation’s independence from British rule.
- According to the Census (2011), there are an estimated 20 crore Dalits in India. To address the social discrimination that arose out of the practice of untouchability, the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1950 was enacted, recognising Hindu Dalits as Scheduled Castes, later amended to include Dalits who had converted to Sikhism and Buddhism. The Supreme Court is hearing a bunch of petitions now seeking inclusion of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims as Scheduled Castes.
- Article 15 of the Constitution lays down that no citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them. The Constitution and a host of laws protect against caste discrimination in India, but despite stringent laws and reservation policies providing benefits to the marginalised, caste violence and discrimination continue. In 2021, 50,900 cases of crimes against Scheduled Castes (SCs) were registered, an increase of 1.2% over 2020 (50,291 cases), according to National Crime Records Bureau data. The rate of crime was particularly high in Madhya Pradesh (63.6 per lakh in a SC population of 113.4 lakh) and Rajasthan (61.6 per lakh in a SC population of 112.2 lakh).
2 . Menstrual Leave
Context: The Supreme Court had refused to entertain a PIL about menstrual leave for workers and students across the country, calling it a policy matter. It highlighted that there were different “dimensions” to menstrual pain leave.
What is Menstrual Leave?
- Menstrual leave refers to all policies that allow employees or students to take time off when they are experiencing menstrual pain or discomfort. In the context of the workplace, it refers to policies that allow for both paid or unpaid leave, or time for rest. More than half of those who menstruate experience pain for a couple of days a month; for some it is debilitating enough to hamper daily activities and productivity.
- A 2017 survey of 32,748 women in the Netherlands published in the British Medical Journal found that 14% of them had taken time off from work or school during their periods. The researchers estimated that employees lost around 8.9 days’ worth of productivity every year due to menstrual-cycle related issues.
What are the arguments against it?
- Not everyone — not even all those who menstruate — is in favour of menstrual leave. Some believe that it is not required and that it will backfire and lead to employer discrimination against women.
- If you compel employers to grant menstrual pain leave, it may operate as a de facto disincentive for employers to engage women in their establishments…
What are some of the global menstrual leave policies?
- Among a host of other sexual health rights, Spain became the first European country to grant paid menstrual leave to workers. In Asia, Japan introduced menstrual leave as part of its labour laws in 1947, after the idea became popular with labour unions in the 1920s. At present, under Article 68, employers cannot ask women who experience difficult periods to work during that time. Indonesia too introduced a policy in 1948, amended in 2003, which states that workers experiencing menstrual pain are not obliged to work on the first two days of their cycle. In the Philippines, workers are permitted two days of menstrual leave a month. Among African nations, Zambia introduced one day of leave a month without needing a reason or a medical certificate, calling it a Mother’s Day.
What are the attempts being made in India?
- Among State governments, Bihar and Kerala are the only ones to introduce menstrual leave to women. The Bihar government, then headed by Lalu Prasad Yadav, introduced its menstrual leave policy in 1992, allowing employees two days of paid menstrual leave every month. Recently, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had announced that the State’s Higher Education department will now grant menstrual and maternity leaves for students in universities that function under the department.
3 . Heatwaves
Context: The India Meteorological Department (IMD) warned that the maximum temperatures over northwest, west, and central India would be 3-5°C higher than the long-term average. On February 21, the national capital recorded its third hottest February day (33.6° C) in more than five decades.
What is a heat wave?
- According to the IMD, a region has a heat wave if its ambient temperature deviates by at least 4.5-6.4°C from the long-term average. There is also a heat wave if the maximum temperature crosses 45°C (or 37°C at a hill-station).
What is the period of heat wave over India?
- It is occurring mainly during March to June and in some rare cases even in July. The peak month of the heat wave over India is May.
What are favourable conditions for Heat wave?
- Transportation / Prevalence of hot dry air over a region (There should be a region of warm dry air and appropriate flow pattern for transporting hot air over the region).
- Absence of moisture in the upper atmosphere (As the presence of moisture restricts the temperature rise).
- The sky should be practically cloudless (To allow maximum insulation over the region). Large amplitude anti-cyclonic flow over the area.
- Heat waves generally develop over Northwest India and spread gradually eastwards & southwards but not westwards (since the prevailing winds during the season are westerly to northwesterly). But on some occasions, heat wave may also develop over any region in situ under the favorable conditions.
How do heat waves occur?
- Heat waves are formed for one of two reasons — warmer air is flowing in from elsewhere or it is being produced locally. It is a local phenomenon when the air is warmed by higher land surface temperature or because the air sinking down from above is compressed along the way, producing hot air near the surface.
Process contributes to the formation of heat waves
- In spring, India typically has air flowing in from the west-northwest. In the context of climate change, West Asia is warming faster than other regions in latitudes similarly close to the equator and serves as a source of the warm air that blows into India. Likewise, air flowing in from the northwest rolls in over the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some of the compression also happens on the leeward side of these mountains, entering India with a bristling warmth.
- While air flowing in over the oceans is expected to bring cooler air, the Arabian Sea is warming faster than most other ocean regions.
- The strong upper atmospheric westerly winds, that come in from the Atlantic Ocean over to India during spring, control the near-surface winds. Any time winds flow from the west to the east. The energy to run past the earth near the surface, against surface friction, can only come from above. This descending air compresses and warms up to generate some heat waves.
- Lapse rate — the rate at which temperatures cool from the surface to the upper atmosphere — is declining under global warming. In other words, global warming tends to warm the upper atmosphere faster than the air near the surface. This in turn means that the sinking air is warmer due to global warming, and thus produces heat waves as it sinks and compresses.
What causes a heat wave?
- Heat waves are caused by a strong high pressure settling in at 10,000-25,000 ft. and refusing to move. This causes warm air to sink. The result is a dome of hot air that traps the heat near the ground and prevents cooling convection currents from forming clouds.
What are the health Impacts of Heat Waves?
- Very high likelihood of developing heat illness and heat stroke in all ages. Extreme care needed for vulnerable people.
- The health impacts of Heat Waves typically involve dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke.
What are the measures one should take to minimise the impact during the heat wave?
- Avoid going out in the sun, especially between 12.00 noon and 3.00 p.m. o Drink sufficient water and as often as possible, even if not thirsty
- Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose, and porous cotton clothes. Use protective goggles, umbrella/hat, shoes or chappals while going out in sun.
- Avoid strenuous activities when the outside temperature is high. Avoid working outside between 12 noon and 3 p.m.
- Carry Water while travelling
- Avoid alcohol, tea, coffee and carbonated soft drinks, which dehydrates the body.
- Avoid high-protein food and do not eat stale food.
- If you work outside, use a hat or an umbrella and also use a damp cloth on your head, neck, face and limbs
- Do not leave children or pets in parked vehicles o If you feel faint or ill, see a doctor immediately.
- Use ORS, homemade drinks like lassi, torani (rice walemon water, buttermilk, etc. which helps to re-hydrate the body.
- Keep animals in shade and give them plenty of water to drink.
- Keep your home cool, use curtains, shutters or sunshade and open windows at night
- Use fans, damp clothing and take bath in cold water frequently.
4 . Mission SHAKTI
Context : The Supreme Court has sought more information from the government about ‘Mission Shakti’, an umbrella scheme for the safety, security, and empowerment of women, intrigued by a possible chronic shortage in ‘protection officers’ to deal with domestic violence cases.
- Mission Shakti’ is a scheme in mission mode aimed at strengthening interventions for women safety, security and empowerment. It seeks to realise the Government’s commitment for “women-led development‟ by addressing issues affecting women on a life-cycle continuum basis and by making them equal partners in nation-building through convergence and citizen-ownership.
- The scheme seeks to make women economically empowered, exercising free choice over their minds and bodies in an atmosphere free from violence and threat. It also seeks to reduce the care burden on women and increase female labour force participation by promoting skill development, capacity building, financial literacy, access to micro-credit etc.
The objectives of the Mission
- Provide immediate and comprehensive continuum of care, support and assistance to women affected by violence and for those in distress;
- To put in place quality mechanisms for rescue, protection and rehabilitation of women in need of assistance and victims of crime and violence;
- To improve accessibility to various government services available for women at various levels;
- Making people aware about Government schemes and programmes as well as legal provisions to fight social evils like dowry, domestic violence, Sexual Harassment at Workplace and to promote gender equality etc.
- Capacity building and training of functionaries/ duty bearers under various schemes/ Legislations; Collaboration with partner Ministries/ Departments/ States/ UTs for convergence of policies, programmes/ schemes and to create an enabling environment for public private partnership for safety and empowerment of women across sectors.
- Create awareness among masses for inducing positive behavioural change towards women and girls.
- To prevent gender-biased sex selective elimination; to ensure survival, protection, education and development of the girl child.
Services & Activities
- The scheme will provide financial support for service delivery and for hiring of technical/ other required manpower for the initiatives for immediate and long-term care and support to the targeted women.
The services include
- Emergency/ Immediate services &short-term care: Putting in place mechanisms for providing a continuum of support and care for women affected by violenceand women in distress through dedicated 24 hours helpline by a national toll-free number and integrated services such as temporary shelter, legal aid, psycho-social counselling, medical assistance, police facilitation and link them with existing services etc. through One Stop Centres.
- Institutional Care for long term support: The long-term institutional care component, inter alia, includes taking care of the needs of women right from the conception stage till the time they need such care and support because of their physical, financial and sociological status due to various factors.
- SakhiNiwas or Working Women Hostel will provide a safe and secure place for the working women away from their native place/ homes with all functional facilities like accommodation, food, day-care facility for their children, wherever possible, in urban, semi-urban, or even rural areas where employment opportunities for women exist on nominal cost basis.
- The Palna or National Creche component will provide a safe and secure place for the children of working mothers in the age group of 6 months to 6 years for 71/2 hours a day.
- Financial support for pregnant and lactating mothers is to improve the health and nutrition for mother and child as well as for partial compensation of wage loss, if any.
- Behaviour Change Communication for dignity and prevention of crime and violence against women: This would include large scale awareness programs and community engagement for gender sensitisation, advocacy, training and capacity building of all duty bearers, service providers and stakeholders through inter- ministerial convergence.
Components of Mission Shakti
‘Mission Shakti’ has two sub-schemes – ‘Sambal‘ and ‘Samarthya‘.
- While the “Sambal” sub-scheme is for safety and security of women, the “Samarthya” sub-scheme is for empowerment of women.
- The components of ‘Sambal‘ sub-scheme consist of erstwhile schemes of One Stop Centre (OSC), Women Helpline (WHL), Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) with a new component of Nari Adalats – women’s collectives to promote and facilitate alternative dispute resolution and gender justice in society and within families.
- The components of ‘Samarthya‘ sub-scheme consist of erstwhile schemes of Ujjwala, Swadhar Greh and Working Women Hostel have been included with modifications. In addition, the existing schemes of National Creche Scheme for children of working mothers and Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) under umbrella ICDS have now been included in Samarthya. A new component of Gap Funding for Economic Empowerment has also been added in the Samarthya Scheme.
One Stop Centre
- The Government of India has proposed a Special Scheme named “SAKHI”, which is a One Stop Crisis Centre (OSC), intended to support women affected by violence, in private and public spaces, within the family, community and at the workplace. Women facing physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and economic abuse, irrespective of age, class, caste, education status, marital status, race and culture will be facilitated with support and redressal.
- The objectives of the Scheme is to provide integrated support and assistance to women affected by violence.
- To facilitate immediate, emergency and non-emergency access to a range of services including medical, legal, psychological and counselling to fight against any forms of violence against women.
- For girls below 18 years of age, institutions and authorities established under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 will be linked with the OSC.
- The OSC will facilitate access to following services:
- Emergency Response and Rescue Services
- Medical assistance
- Assistance to women in lodging FIR/NCR/DIR
- Psycho-social support/counseling
- Legal aid and counseling
5 . Facts for prelims
Financial Stability Board
- The Financial Stability Board (FSB) is an international body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system.
- It was established after the G20 London summit in April 2009 as a successor to the Financial Stability Forum (FSF). The Board includes all G20 major economies, FSF members, and the European Commission. Hosted and funded by the Bank for International Settlements, the board is based in Basel, Switzerland, and is established as a not-for-profit association under Swiss law.
- The FSB promotes international financial stability; it does so by coordinating national financial authorities and international standard-setting bodies as they work toward developing strong regulatory, supervisory and other financial sector policies. It fosters a level playing field by encouraging coherent implementation of these policies across sectors and jurisdictions.
- The FSB, working through its members, seeks to strengthen financial systems and increase the stability of international financial markets. The policies developed in the pursuit of this agenda are implemented by jurisdictions and national authorities.
- India and FSB: India is an active Member of the FSB, having three seats in its Plenary represented by Secretary (Dept of Economic Affairs), Deputy Governor-RBI, and Chairman-SEBI.
- Friendshoring or allyshoring is the act of manufacturing and sourcing from countries with shared values.
- The term is shorthand for the practice of relocating supply chains to countries where the risk of disruption from political chaos is low.
- As countries take geopolitics into account in their risk assessments, friendshoring allows them to access global markets while also mitigating risk.
- Advantages of friendshoring : Friendshoring can help mitigate supply chain risk stemming from geopolitical tensions wherein countries have full control over the flow of important materials. When appropriately balanced with reshoring, friendshoring can promote supply chain resiliency. Friendshoring makes supply chains more reliable since it reduces dependencies on countries that are not allies.
- Criticism : Friendshoring can potentially lead to more expensive products if countries depart from areas with low production costs. One of the difficulties of employing the friendshoring strategy is in defining a friend or an ally. In some cases, a military ally can also be a strong economic competitor. Additionally, a country’s status as a friend or ally can change over time. This fluidity makes it difficult for companies or countries to make long-term decisions based on these designations. While friendshoring can strengthen relations between two countries that are allies, it can exacerbate tension with countries that are not considered for it. This can potentially lead to political and economic instability.
International IP Index
- India has been ranked 42nd out of 55 countries in the latest International IP Index report.
- It is released by the US Chamber of Commerce
- The annual International IP Index evaluates the protection of IP rights in 55 of the world’s leading economies, together representing around 90% of global GDP.
- The report covers everything from patent and copyright laws to the ability to monetise IP assets and the ratification of international agreements.
- The report shows a torrent of proposals — both domestic and international — are threatening to erode intellectual property (IP) rights. By analysing the IP landscape in global markets, the index aims to help nations navigate toward a brighter economic future marked by greater innovation, creativity, and competitiveness.
- A neutrino is a subatomic particle that is very similar to an electron but has no electrical charge and a very small mass, which might even be zero.
- A neutrino is an elementary subatomic particle with infinitesimal mass (less than 0.3 eV) and no electric charge. Neutrinos belong to the family of leptons, which means they do not interact via strong nuclear force. Neutrinos are weakly interacting subatomic particles with ½ units of spin
- Neutrinos are one of the most abundant particles in the universe. Because they have very little interaction with matter, however, they are incredibly difficult to detect. Every time atomic nuclei come together (like in the sun) or break apart (like in a nuclear reactor), they produce neutrinos.
- The rest mass of the neutrino is much smaller than that of the other known elementary particles excluding massless particles. The weak force has a very short range, the gravitational interaction is extremely weak due to the very small mass of the neutrino, and neutrinos do not participate in the strong interaction. Thus, neutrinos typically pass through normal matter unimpeded and undetected.
- Neutrinos are created by various radioactive decays;
- Beta decay of atomic nuclei or hadrons,
- Natural nuclear reactions such as those that take place in the core of a star
- Artificial nuclear reactions in nuclear reactors, nuclear bombs, or particle accelerators
- During supernova
- During the spin-down of a neutron star
- When cosmic rays or accelerated particle beams strike atoms.
- The majority of neutrinos which are detected about the Earth are from nuclear reactions inside the Sun. At the surface of the Earth, the flux is about 65 billion (6.5×1010) solar neutrinos, per second per square centimeter. Neutrinos can be used for tomography of the interior of the earth