11th January Current Affairs

1.Education for Migrants’ Children

News: In order to mitigate the impact of challenges thrown by the COVID-19 pandemic for out of school children, it was felt necessary for every State/UT to devise a proper strategy for preventing increased drop outs, lower enrolments, loss of learning and deterioration in the gains made in providing universal access, quality and equity in the recent years.

Background:

  • Thus the Ministry of Education had issued guidelines for identification, admission and continued education of migrant children. In order to ensure that school going children have access to education with quality and equity and to minimize the impact of the pandemic on school education across the country, the Ministry of Education has prepared and issued detailed guidelines on steps to be taken by the States and UTs during school closure and when the school re-open.

The main features of the Guidelines are:      

Continued Education for Out of School Children (OoSC) and Children with Special Needs (CWSN)

  • Continuation of non-residential training for identified Out of School children through volunteers, local teachers and community participation.
  • Continuation of home based education for CWSN children through Volunteers/ Special Educators.

Identifying Out of School Children

  • States and UTs to carry out proper identification of OoSC for 6 to 18 years age group through a comprehensive door to door survey and prepare action plan for their enrolment

Enrolment Drives and Awareness Generation

  • Enrolment drives may be undertaken at the beginning of academic year such as Praveshotsav, School Chalo Abhiyan etc.
  • Undertake awareness generation among parents and community for enrolling and attendance of children
  • Create awareness on practicing 3 Corona appropriate behaviors – wear mask, six-feet distance and washing hands with soap for which IEC material shared on 06.11.2020 with the States & UTs.

Student Support while Schools are closed

  • Students to be provided support including counseling, large scale awareness & targeted home visits. Using Manodarpan web portal and tele-counseling number for counseling services and psycho-social support.
  • Distribution of educational material and resources, supplementary graded material, workshops, worksheets etc to support home-based education
  • Exploring option of classroom on wheels and classes in small groups at village level
  • Increasing the access of children to online/digital resources, TV Radio etc. to reduce learning loss
  • Ensuring easy and timely access to the provisions of uniforms, textbooks and MDM
  • Timely disbursement  of stipend to enrolled CWSN girls through DBT
  • Strengthening of Child protection mechanism at local level

Student Support on School Reopening

  • Preparation and running of School readiness modules/Bridge course for initial period when the schools re-open so that they can adjust to the school environment and do not feel stressed or left-out.
  • Identification of students across different grades based on their learning levels and relaxing detention norms to prevent drop out this year. Ensuring reading with comprehension and numeracy skills by encouraging children to  read books beyond syllabus and creative writing & problem solving. Large-scale remedial programmes/Learning Enhancement programmes to mitigate learning loss and inequality.

Teacher Capacity Building

  • Effective utilization of the online NISHTHA training modules and online training module for Corona responsive behavior to be launched on DIKSHA portal soon.
  • Use of alternative Academic Calendar prepared by NCERT for joyful engagement of children in learning.

2.LiDAR Survey for High Speed Rail Network

News: High Speed Rail work gathers momentum. With the start of LiDAR (Aerial Ground) Survey today, High Speed Rail work gathered momentum for Delhi – Varanasi High Speed Rail Corridor.

Details:

  • The LiDAR survey for Delhi-Varanasi High Speed Rail Corridor started today from Greater NOIDA where a Helicopter fitted with state of art Aerial LiDAR and Imagery sensors took the first flight and captured the data related to ground survey. National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited is adopting Light Detection and Ranging Survey (LiDAR) technology which provides all the ground details and data in 3-4 months wherein this process normally takes 10-12 months.
  • The ground survey is a crucial activity for any linear infrastructure project as the survey provides accurate details of areas around the alignment. This technique uses a combination of Laser data, GPS data, flight parameters and actual photographs to give accurate survey data.
  • During the Aerial LiDAR survey, 300 mtrs (150 mtrs on either side) of area around the proposed alignment is being captured for the survey purpose. After the collection of data, Three Dimensional (3D) Topographical map of 50 mtrs corridor on either side of the proposed alignment on a scale of 1:2500 will be available for designing of the vertical & horizontal alignment, structures, location of the stations and depots, Land requirement for the corridor, identification of project affected plots/structures, Right of Way.
  • As per the nine (9) standard benchmarks set by the Survey of India in this field, 86 master control points and 350 secondary control points have been established and these coordinates are being used for flying the aircraft on Delhi-Varanasi HSR corridor alignment. To provide clear pictures of the structures, trees and other minute ground details,60 megapixel cameras are being used for the LiDAR survey.

About LiDAR

  • LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is aremote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges & variable distances.
  • These light pulses—combined with other data recorded by the airborne system— generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.
  • A LiDAR instrument principally consists of a laser, a scanner, and a specialized GPS receiver. Airplanes and helicopters are the most commonly used platforms for acquiring LiDAR data over broad areas.
  • LiDAR is used for agriculture, hydrologyand water management systems and geology-related It is also used in archaeology.

Wages for Household Works

Background:

  • Demand for wages against housework was first raised at the third National Women’s Liberation conference in Manchester, England. In 2012, the then minister for Women and Child development announced that the government was considering mandating a salary for housework to wives, from husbands.
  • The purpose, once again, was to empower women financially and help them live with dignity.
  • Time-use data from 2019 gathered by the National Sample Survey Organisation revealed that only about a quarter of men and boys above six years engaged in unpaid household chores, compared to over four-fifths of women. Every day, an average Indian male spends 1.5 hours per day in unpaid domestic work, compared to about five hours by a female. Housework demands effort and sacrifice, 365 days a year, 24/7.

Associated Issues:

  • Asking men to pay for wives’ domestic work couldfurther enhance their sense of entitlement.
  • It may also put theadditional onus on women to perform.
  • There is a risk of formalising the patriarchal Indian family where the position of men stems from their being “providers” in the relationship.

Arguments in Favour of Household Wage:

  • Domestic labour of women is not accounted for in either the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)or the employment metrics. Neglecting to include it would thus mean underestimating GDP of the economy.
  • The wage that the state ought to pay women would make them autonomous of the men on whom they were dependent. Most women continue in an abusive relationship because they don’t have a way out, as they are financially dependent on their partner.
  • More fundamentally, the very demand for a wage was a repudiation of housework as an expression of women’s nature. It was a revolt against the assigned social role of women.
  • According to the Census in 2011,people engaged in household duties have been treated as non-workers, even when 9 million women stated that “household work” was their main occupation.
  • Recognition of household work is one of the most central processes in empowerment. It gives them a claim to equality within the patriarchal Indian household that only recognises the work done by men. Once recognised as work, the unpaid domestic labour that is dominated almost entirely by women can become one where women can demand some degree of parity in terms of the time and energy expended on it.
  • Combining paid work commitments with a mountain of menial, domestic labour at home means poor women are more likely to suffer from ‘time poverty’.
  • Time poverty fundamentally undermines women’s human rightssince it undermines women’s agency and ability to make choices. The immense burden of work therefore prevents women from pursuing further education, employment opportunities, raising their skill-level and tending to their own well-being.

Against Household Wage:

  • Asking men to pay for wives’ domestic work could further enhance their sense of entitlement. It may also put the additional onus on women to perform.
  • Buying domestic labour from wife poses a serious risk of formalising the patriarchal Indian family where the position of men stems from their being “providers” in the relationship.
  • Despite a legal provision, equal inheritance rights continue to be elusive for a majority of women.
  • There are still debates on who would pay for the housework done by women, if it is to be done by the State then this will put additional fiscal burden on government finances.

Way forward

  • Despite a legal provision,equal inheritance rights continue to be elusive for a majority of women.
  • More than creating a new provision of salary for housework, we need tostrengthen awareness, implementation and utilisation of other existing provisions. Starting from the right to reside in the marital home, to streedhan and haq meher, to coparcenary and inheritance rights as daughters and to basic services, free legal aid and maintenance in instances of violence and divorce.

3.Ecological Importance of Insects

News: This newscard is from the original article published in the DownToEarth.  It talks about the ecological importance of insects.

Background:

  • Insects are increasingly susceptible to extinction due to increasing climate crisis. They form the basal part of the food pyramid and impact our agriculture ecosystems as well as human health.
  • Their extinction can have a cascading effect on the upper levels of the food pyramid.
  • Rampant and indiscriminate use of chemicals in commercial agricultural practices, mainly monocropping systems, has been taking a toll on insects in the vicinity of farmlands and plantations.
  • While everyone is talking about sustainability in agriculture, the role of insects has largely been ignored.

A few common insects whose existence is taken for granted and their ecological relevance are:

Butterflies

  • They are important pollinators like bees. Species diversity and density of butterfly indicate a good diversity of plants in an area. Several types of butterflies have specific host plants.
  • Climate change, forest degradation, habitat loss, unavailability of hosts and nectar plant species are among major reasons for a decline in butterfly population. This leads to loss of plants species that depend on the butterflies for pollination. Backyard gardening and growing host plants in public spaces are important strategies to conserve butterfly species.

Dragonflies

  • They are one of the most widely recognised insects, need clean aquatic systems and are hence a good indicator of the health of local aquatic systems. These, along with damselflies, are well-known biological predators with both larvae and adults acting as natural bio-control agents.
  • They are highly sensitive to changes in their habitats and are declining due to increasing habitat loss, anthropogenic activities, pollutants, climate change and rapid urbanisation. For their conservation, use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has to be prohibited or minimized in agriculture systems.

Grasshoppers

  • They feed on different plants and can cause serious damage to economic crops. However, in a biodiversity-rich region, they are an important component of the food chain, being an important food source for many birds. Grasshoppers and insects such as crickets are often consumed by people as they are rich in protein.

Ants

  • They are in the most abundance. Ants act as scavengers/decomposers by feeding on organic wastes and other dead animals. Ants also aerate the soil. Heavy use of chemicals in agriculture causes harm to ants.

Wild honey bees

  • They play a major role in the pollination of forest species affecting cross-pollination and maintenance of variability within species. Wild honey is also a food source for humans and many wild animals.
  • When forest covers are lost, wild bees tend to migrate to newer areas where they may or may not adapt.
  • With the possibility of commercial apiaries, wild bees need to be left alone and honey tapping from wild hives discouraged. This can help sustain the natural processed of pollination among forest species and maintain diversity in plants conventionally propagated through seeds.

Rainbow leaf beetles

  • They are found in forests, woodlands and mountain grasslands. They mostly depend on leaves and flowers of some specific plant family like Apocynaceae. These are listed as endangered species in International Union for Conservation of Nature from 1994. The species is also known to be poisonous to its predators for they feed on dogbane that contains poisonous cardenolides.

Fireflies

  • They are a good indicator of a healthy environment, especially a good aquatic system. They avoid regions with chemical toxicity. They are good pollinators and natural pest control agents in several ecosystems.