Daily Current Affairs : 4th March 2023

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Index on lifecycle of working women
  2. Public Health Systems for Pandemic Preparedness Program (PHSPP)
  3. Article 142  
  4. Forest Certification

1 . Women, Business and the Law Report

Context: The laws affecting the Indian working woman’s pay and pension do not provide for equality with Indian men, dragging India’s score in a World Bank index on the life cycle of a working woman down to 74.4 out of a possible 100

Women, Business and the Law Report

  • Women, Business and the Law (WBL) is a World Bank Group project collecting unique data on the laws and regulations that restrict women’s economic opportunities. By examining the economic decisions women make as they go through different stages of their working lives, WBL informs research and policy discussions about the state of women’s economic empowerment. It celebrates the progress made while emphasizing the work still to be done to ensure economic empowerments for all
    • “Women, Business and the Law 2023 is the ninth in a series of annual studies measuring the laws and regulations that affect women’s economic opportunity in 190 economies. The project presents eight indicators structured around women’s interactions with the law as they move through their lives and careers:
      • Mobility, Workplace, Pay, Marriage, Parenthood, Entrepreneurship, Assets, and Pension.
  • The 2023 edition identifies barriers to women’s economic participation and encourages reform of discriminatory laws.

Findings of the report

  • According to the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2023 report, a score of 100 on the Index means that women are on an equal standing with men on all the eight indicators being measured.
  • India scored 74.4 in the World Bank index on life cycle of working women which ishigher than the 63.7 average for the South Asian region, though lower than Nepal which had the region’s highest score of 80.6.
  • Out of the 190 economies covered in the Index, only 14 scored a perfect 100: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
  • India’s Performance- When it comes to constraints on freedom of movement, laws affecting women’s decisions to work, and constraints related to marriage, India gets a perfect score. However, India lags behind when it comes to laws affecting women’s pay, laws affecting women’s work after having children, constraints on women starting and running a business, gender differences in property and inheritance, and laws affecting the size of a woman’s pension.
  • The report recommended that India consider reforms to improve legal equality for women, it noted that one of the lowest scores for India comes from the indicator assessing laws affecting women’s pay. To improve on the Pay indicator, India may wish to consider mandating equal remuneration for work of equal value, allowing women to work at night in the same way as men, and allowing women to work in an industrial job in the same way as men.

2 . Public Health Systems for Pandemic Preparedness Program (PHSPP)

Context: The World Bank is lending up to $1 billion to help India with preparedness for future pandemics as well as to strengthen its health infrastructure. The lending will be divided into two complementary loans of $500 million each.

Abou the news

  • The Government of India and the World Bank signed two complementary loans of $500 million each to support and enhance India’s health sector development. Through this combined financing of $1 billion, the Bank will support India’s flagship Pradhan Mantri-Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM), launched in October 2021, to improve the public healthcare infrastructure across the country.
  • In addition to the national level interventions, one of the loans will prioritize health service delivery in seven states including Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh.

What are the two loans?

  • The two loans are
    • Public Health Systems for Pandemic Preparedness Program (PHSPP)
    • Enhanced Health Service Delivery Program (EHSDP)

What is PHSPP?

  • PHSPP objective (PDO) is to strengthen pandemic preparedness and response systems and institutions in India.
  • The $500 million Public Health Systems for Pandemic Preparedness Program (PHSPP) will support the government’s efforts to:
    • Prepare India’s surveillance system to be ready to detect and report epidemics of potential international concern, ensure rapid response, and prevent emergence of pathogens.
    • Enhance India’s capacity to detect pathogens, including zoonotic diseases, to inform India’s bio-security response and commercialization of new technologies to prevent, detect or treat infectious diseases.
    • Strengthen coordination and build institutional capacity of core public health institutions to implement the program and deliver high-quality results.

What is EHSDP?

  • EHSDP objective is to increase the utilization of comprehensive primary health care services, improve quality of care, and strengthen governance of the health sector in India.
  • The $500 million Enhanced Health Service Delivery Program (EHSDP) will support Government’s efforts to:
    • Strengthen service delivery through a redesigned primary health care model, which includes improved household access to primary healthcare facilities, stronger links between each household and its primary care facility through regular household visits and risk assessment of noncommunicable diseases.
    • Improve quality of care by supporting the National Quality Assurance Standards certification across Health and Wellness Centers (HWCs), implementing measurement tools for quality of care, including patient experience, and strengthening the health workforce by adopting state-specific human resource strategies for public health care facilities.
    • Transform health sector governance and accountability by strengthening implementation capacity, enhancing performance measurement and rewards at the district level, and fostering learning and knowledge exchanges among states.
  • Both the PHSPP and the EHSDP utilize the Program-for-Results financing instrument that focuses on achievement of results rather than inputs.
  • Both the PHSPP and EHSDP loans from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) have a final maturity of 18.5 years including a grace period of 5 years
  • The two Programs leverage the unique strengths of both the Center and the States to support the development of more accessible, high-quality, and affordable health services. This strengthening of health systems, combined with attention to strong disease response, will improve preparedness and response to future disease outbreaks.

3 . Article 142

Context: The Supreme Court used its extraordinary powers under Article 142 to attract younger talent to preside over consumer courts by reducing the mandatory professional experience from 20 to 10 years.

What is Article 142 of the Constitution?

  • Article 142 of the Constitution deals with the Supreme Court’s power to exercise its jurisdiction and pass order for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it. It provides the apex court with a special and extraordinary power and is meant to provide justice to litigants who have suffered traversed illegality or injustice in course of legal proceedings
  • Article 142 titled ‘Enforcement of decrees and orders of the Supreme Court and orders as to discovery, etc.’ has two clauses.
    • Article 142(1) : The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree so passed or order so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, in such manner as the President may by order prescribe.
    • Article 142(2): “Subject to the provisions of any law made in this behalf by Parliament, the Supreme Court shall, as respects the whole of the territory of India, have all and every power to make any order for the purpose of securing the attendance of any person, the discovery or production of any documents, or the investigation or punishment of any contempt of itself.”

Why was Article 142 included in the Constitution?

  • While the makers of the Constitution of India ensured separation of powers of the legislative, executive and judiciary, Article 142 was envisaged to allow the Supreme Court the opportunity to provide ‘complete justice’ to even those who may have been wrongly sentenced or denied justice due to the intricacies or inefficacies of the legal justice system. It was believed that a disadvantaged judiciary could be the cause for many not being able to get justice or achieve their rights. With Article 142, the Supreme Court has been likened to an entity of ‘Natural Law’ which theoretically prevails over laws of the land. The article was meant to empower the apex court to deliver justice in exceptional cases without being hindered by legal or bureaucratic red tape

Significant cases where Article 142 was invoked

Babri Masjid Case

  • The article was used in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case and was instrumental in the handover of the disputed land to a trust to be formed by the union government. The SC put aside the judgement of the Allahabad High Court and, being the final arbiter, refused to make two divisions of the 2.77 acres of contested land, all of which was handed to the temple trust.
  • Article 142 had also been invoked to transfer the criminal trials of BJP leaders Murli Manohar Joshi and LK Advani from Rae Bareli to Lucknow in relation the Babri demolition case.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

  • The Supreme Court awarded a compensation of $470 million to the victims and held that “prohibitions or limitations or provisions contained in ordinary laws cannot, ipso facto, act as prohibitions or limitations on the constitutional powers under Article 142

Perarivalan case

  • In the case of Perarivalan, the Supreme Court invoked Article 142(1) held that it was not a fit case to be remanded to the Governor for his consideration under Article 161 of the Constitution.

Other significant instances

  • Apart from these significant verdicts, the SC has also used powers vested in it by Article 142 to justify divorce due to the breakdown of marriage in the Munish Kakkar vs Nidhi Kakkar case.
  • With a view to reducing drunk driving, it invoked the Article to order a ban on the sale of alcohol within a distance of 500 metres of national or state highways. SC has used Article 142 to order a probe into the 2013 IPL match-fixing controversy.

4 . Forest Certification

Context: Large-scale destruction of forests has always been a concern for the environment, but with climate change, deforestation has become a critically sensitive issue globally in recent years. Forests absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide that is emitted in various economic activities, keeping a check on global warming.

Forest Certification

  • Forest certification is a voluntary process whereby an independent third party (the “certifier”) assesses the quality of forest management and production against a set of requirements (“standards”) predetermined by a public or private certification organization.
  • At the Glasgow climate meeting in 2021, more than 100 countries took a pledge to stop, and start reversing, deforestation by 2030. Several countries and corporates try to ensure that they avoid consumption of any product that might be the result of deforestation or illegal logging. And Europe and the United States have passed laws that regulate the entry and sale of forest-based products in their markets. This is where the certification industry comes in — offering a multi-layer audit system that seeks to authenticate the origin, legality, and sustainability of forest-based products such as timber, furniture, handicraft, paper and pulp, rubber, and many more.
  • There are two major international standards (there are a few other less widely accepted ones as well) for sustainable management of forests and forest-based products. One has been developed by Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC; the other by Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certifications, or PEFC. FSC certification is more popular and in demand, and also more expensive.

What are the types of forest certification?

  • There are two types of forest certification:
    • Certification of forest management, which assesses whether forests are being managed according to a specified set of standards
    • Certification of the chain of custody (CoC certification), which verifies that certified material is identified or kept separate from non-certified or non-controlled material through the production process, from the forest to the final consumer.
      • To label an end-product as certified, both forest management certification and chain-of-custody certification are required.

What is behind the idea?

  • Forest certification is a market mechanism to promote the sustainable use and management of forests and to identify “sustainably produced” products for the consumer.
  • The aim is to reward forest managers who pursue sustainable forest practices rather than practices with the potential to cause negative economic, social and environmental impacts.
  •  A certification label on a forest product informs potential buyers that the product was produced in a well-managed forest in accordance with a given set of standards.

What are the benefits?

  • In many cases, the most immediate benefit of certification for forest managers is the streamlining of forest operations due to improvements in efficiency and greater control of production processes. Although experience has shown that certified forest products do not always obtain higher prices compared with uncertified products, certification may be essential for maintaining access to some markets.
  • Certification has been shown to be a valuable tool for positioning products in the marketplace and in certain sectors: in the paper and packaging sector.
  • Certification can also provide confirmation that a product fulfils legal requirements – such as those established by laws aimed at preventing the trade of illegal timber products – and may help producers and traders in fulfilling administrative obligations.
  • Forest certification may help bring about improvements in the working conditions and safety and health of forest workers, lead to improved forest conservation outcomes, and encourage sustainable forest use.
  • Forest certification can help boost the public image of companies – both those that pursue certification in their own forest operations, and those that purchase only certified products.

Forest certification in India

  • The forest certification industry has been operating in India for the last 15 years. Currently, forests in only one state — Uttar Pradesh — are certified. Forty-one divisions of the UP-Forest Corporation (UPFC) are PEFC-certified, meaning they are being managed according to standards endorsed by PEFC. These standards have been developed by the New Delhi-based nonprofit Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF).
  • Some other states too obtained certifications, but subsequently dropped out. Many agroforestry projects, such as those run by ITC, and several paper mills too have forest management certification. The forests here are meant for captive use of the industry

India-specific standards

  • India allows the export of only processed wood, not timber. In fact, the timber harvested from Indian forests is not enough to meet the domestic demand for housing, furniture, and other products. The demand for wood in India is 150-170 million cubic metres annually, including 90-100 million cubic metres of raw wood. The rest goes mainly towards meeting the demand for paper and pulp.
  • India’s forests contribute just about five million cubic metres of wood every year. Almost 85 per cent of the demand for wood and wood products is met by trees outside forests (ToF). About 10 per cent is imported. India’s wood import bill is Rs 50,000-60,000 crore per year
  • Since ToF are so important, new certification standards are being developed for their sustainable management. PEFC already has certification for TOF and last year, FSC came up with India-specific standards that included certification for ToF. Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav launched the FSC’s India standards in June 2022.

What is FSC’s India Standards?

  • The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a globally recognized certification system with million hectares of forestland certified under its forest conservation standards. The performance-based standards encompass environmental, social and economic values, and are framed to ensure that the forests are managed sustainably.
  • FSC ensures traceability of products from the forests to the point of sale. Products that are manufactured from responsibly harvested forests are identified with the FSC logo, which is considered the “gold standard” of forest certification by major environmental groups.
  • FSC is the only wood products certification recognized by the Green Building Council under its LEED rating system and is the preferred certification for environmentally conscious companies
  • The FSC Forest Stewardship Standard (FSS) for India applies to all categories of Management Units, including small or low intensity managed forests (SLIMFs), operating in all forest types (including natural forests and plantations). It also includes all important plant-based non-timber forest products. With the new FSS, these landowners can now access the market with growing demand for FSC timber upon getting certified.  

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