IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


12th February, 2020


U.S. President Donald Trump to visit India on February 24 and 25: White House

Statement from the Office of the Press Secretary:

-       The President and the First Lady will travel to New Delhi and Ahmedabad, which is in Prime Minister Modi’s home State of Gujarat.

-       It played an important role in Mahatma Gandhi’s life and leadership of the Indian independence movement.

-       President Trump and Prime Minister Modi agreed the trip would further strengthen the United States-India strategic partnership and highlight the strong and enduring bonds between the American and Indian people.

Trade deal:

-       The Indian and the U.S. sides are trying to put together a limited trade deal for signing.

-       A defence deal involving purchase of 24 MH-60 Seahawk helicopters from Lockheed Martin for $ 2.6 billion deal for may also be signed.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-president-donald-trump-announces-visit-to-india-from-february-24-25/article30788848.ece

China denies role in cyber theft following Equifax accusations

The U.S. indicted four members of the Chinese military for allegedly breaking into the computer networks of the Equifax credit-reporting agency and stealing the personal information of tens of millions of people.

Chinese statement:

-       China is a staunch defender of cyber security and its institutions “never engage in cyber theft of trade secrets.

-       China was committed to firmly oppose and combat cyber attacks of any kind.

-       Past events had shown Washington is “engaging in large-scale, organised and indiscriminate cyber stealing, spying and surveillance activities on foreign governments, enterprises and individuals.”

US Charges:

-       China engineered one of the biggest hacks in history targeting consumer data of some 145 million Americans.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/china-denies-role-in-cybertheft-following-equifax-accusations/article30794921.ece


Society must help conserve water: expert

Draft of the Right to Water Bill in Madhya Pradesh:

-       Streams, rivers and other water bodies would be identified.

-       People would take the lead and an effort would be made to curb mining on riverbeds.

-       New technologies must be leveraged in devising strategies to conserve water.

Rajendra Singh Comment:

-       With the government’s support, on the one hand water bodies could be protected, and on the other water use could be made judicious.

-       Ownership of water bodies among masses has led to the revival of several rivers in a parched State like Rajasthan.

-       As many as 65 dams in the State have dried up due to unavailability of water and 164 reservoirs have met the same fate.

Water Crisis in India:

-       190 districts were flooded, while 365 districts across 17 states faced drought. 72% of India faced high to extremely high water stress.

-       Water in 2.65 lakh villages across the country was not fit for drinking.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/society-must-help-conserve-water-expert/article30796413.ece

Special agri zone status may not affect ongoing projects in T.N.


Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi announced that the Cauvery delta region would be declared ‘Protected Special Agricultural Zone’ (PSAZ) and new projects such as the hydrocarbon project would not be allowed in the state.

Clarification by the government:

-       The primary intention of the government is to prohibit any “fresh” attempts at exploration of gas and minerals in the Cauvery delta region.

-       This is wetland ecology and such explorations would affect agriculture severely.

-       Since the ongoing projects in the Cauvery delta have already obtained necessary permission from the authorities concerned, they may not be affected by the announcement.

-       The proposed รขโ€šยน50,000 crores investment in Cuddalore by Haldia Petrochemicals would be allowed since “the unit is outside” the Cauvery delta core region.

-       Infrastructure projects such as laying of roads and railways and construction of bridges would not be affected.

About the declaration:

-       The declaration was to primarily stop “local exploitation of underground minerals and gas.”

-       The proposed PSAZ would cover the entire Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur and Thanjavur districts.

-       Tamil Nadu now has to enact legislation to protect a vast region, largely in the coastal area, from industries that would affect farming.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/special-agri-zone-status-may-not-affect-ongoing-projects-in-tn/article30795754.ece

The Delhi model of education

For every household rich or poor, education has the same relevance as salt did in 1930. the Delhi model of education has caught the attention of people in Delhi and beyond.

Currently, there are two models of education: One for masses and another for classes. Delhi model has five major components and is supported by nearly 25% of the State Budget.


-       Infrastructure: Dilapidated school buildings significantly lower the motivation of teachers and the enthusiasm of students. Government built new aesthetically designed classrooms with smart boards, playgrounds, staff rooms, libraries, laboratories and sports facilities.

-       Focus on Training: A forum was created to encourage peer learning among them. Teachers were provided training abroad as well as at best institutions of India. Training was based on equipping teachers with the available best practices in India.

-       Engagement with the Community: School Management committee was reconstituted. Budget of these committees were increased to 5-7 lakh where they could hire teachers for short –term. Regular dialogue between teachers and parents was initiated through mega parent-teacher meetings.

-       Reform in Curriculum: Government has introduced happiness curriculum for nursery to 8 class to generate interest in education. an ‘entrepreneurship mindset curriculum’ was introduced to develop the problem-solving and critical thinking abilities of children in Classes 9 to 12.

-       Private schools: Government appointed authorised chartered accountants for regulating the fees of private schools. It had brought a new paradigm of regulation of fees by private schools. This led to no increase of fees for two years.

Further Reforms:

These reforms were based on building the foundation of education. Now, future roadmap will be based on education as foundation.

-       First, the syllabus of Classes 1 to 8 will be reviewed to emphasise foundational learning skills, the ‘happiness curriculum’ and the ‘deshbhakti’ curriculum.

-       Early childhood care and education will be deepened further through Anganwadis. There will also be nurseries in all government schools.

-       A Delhi Education Board will be set up to promote learning that encourages critical thinking, problem solving and application of knowledge among children.

-       For those who have graduated from Delhi schools in the recent past, programmes like spoken English; soft skills and so on will be initiated to raise their employability opportunities.

-       Third, specialised schools will be created to nurture the aptitude and talent of children in the areas of science and technology, literature and language, visual and performing arts, and sports.

The whole focus is on ensuring that all children get education that passes the test of quality, opportunity and equity.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-delhi-model-of-education/article30796187.ece

Cleaning of drains & septic tanks claims 110 lives in 2019

The number of people who died while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in the country increased by almost 62% from 68 in 2018 to 110 in 2019.

Government reply in Parliament:

-       14,559 manual scavengers had been identified by Municipalities and Gram Panchayats in 13 States from 2013-2014 until January 31, 2020.

-       A national survey was conducted in 194 districts in 18 States where 48,345 manual scavengers were identified until January 31, taking the total to 62,904.

-       The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis had received reports about the death of people cleaning sewers and septic tanks.

-       There have been no reports regarding death of persons due to manual scavenging.

What is Manual Scavenging?

-       Manual scavenging refers to the practice of manually cleaning, carrying, disposing or handling in any manner, human excreta from dry latrines and sewers.

Reasons Behind Manual Scavenging:

-       Association of the Caste stigma with manual scavenging.

-       Lack of acceptance among states about manual scavenging pushes the issue under the carpet.

-       Lack of rehabilitation of the manual scavenger.

-       Poor implementation of the Prohibition of Manual Scavenging act.  Governments do not provide the equipments like gloves and Masks while cleaning the drainage.

-       Manual scavenging has crept up in urban India through cleaning of septic tanks and drainage systems.

-       Low awareness of their rights, lower education, and lack of self-esteem continues the manual scavenging.

-       Low per capita income, lack of skills to engage in other works, social stigma associated with this work also curtails mobility of manual scavengers.

-       Lower inculcation of technology in scavenging.

-       Low political mobilization, lack of leaders in the community, social exclusion further aggravates the issue.

Steps taken for Eradication of Manual Scavenging:

-       In 1993, the Government of India enacted the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act.

-       The act prohibited the employment of manual scavengers for manually cleaning dry latrines and the construction of dry toilets (that do not operate with a flush).

-       Government brought Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, which is wider in scope and importance, acknowledging the urgency of rehabilitating manual scavengers.

-       It prohibits the construction or maintenance of insanitary toilets.

-       It prohibits a person from being engaged or employed for hazardous cleaning of a sewer or a septic tank.

-       Offences under the Act are cognizable and non-bailable.

-       It calls for a survey of manual scavengers in urban and rural areas within a time-bound framework.

-       A Supreme Court order in March 2014 makes it mandatory for the government to identify all those who died in sewerage work since 1993 and provide Rs.10 lakh each as compensation to their families.

-       Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS) with the objective to rehabilitate remaining manual scavengers and their dependents in alternative occupations, in a time bound manner. 

-       Focus has been given on conversion of insanitary latrines into sanitary latrines under Swachh Bharat Mission.

-       Under the Scheme of “Pre Metric Scholarship to the Children, the children of manual scavengers are also provided scholarship.

Supreme Court observation on Manual Scavenging:

-       Nowhere in the world, people are sent to “gas chambers to die.”

-       Why proper protective gear like mask and oxygen cylinders were not being provided to people engaged in manual scavenging and cleaning of sewage or manholes.

-       The Constitution has if all human beings are equal but they are not being given equal facilities by the authorities.

-       No law, which deals with civil wrong and its liabilities thereof, is developed in the country and the magistrates are not empowered to take cognisance on their own of such incidents.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/cleaning-of-drains-septic-tanks-claims-110-lives-in-2019/article30796756.ece