SC intrigued by the lack of ‘protection officers’ for domestic violence cases
Relevance in UPSC: General Studies paper -1: Role of Women and Women’s Organization, Population and Associated Issues, Poverty and Developmental issues, Urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
- 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.
- A government document in the top court shows that 4.4 lakh cases of domestic assault are pending across a sample 801 districts.
- Appointment of protection officers is mandated under Section 8 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
- The Government of India has launched ‘Mission Shakti’ – an integrated women empowerment programme as umbrella scheme for the safety, security and empowerment of women for implementation during the 15th Finance Commission period 202l-22 to 2025-26.
- ‘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.
- Two sub-schemes –
- While the “Sambal” sub-scheme is for safety and security of women, the “Samarthya” sub-scheme is for the 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.
- Protection officers, who should ideally be women, have a pivotal role under the law.
- They help victims file complaints, give information to the police, provide immediate protection and support, inform victims about their legal rights and support them through the court proceedings.
- Domestic violence is violence committed by someone in the victim’s domestic circle. This includes partners and ex-partners, immediate family members, other relatives and family friends. The term ‘domestic violence’ is used when there is a close relationship between the offender and the victim.
- Domestic violence in India includes any form of violence suffered by a person from a biological relative but typically is the violence suffered by a woman by male members of her family or relatives. Although Men also suffer from Domestic violence, the law under IPC 498A specifically protects only women.
- Specifically only a woman can file a case of domestic violence. According to a National Family and Health Survey in 2005, total lifetime prevalence of domestic violence was 33.5% and 8.5% for sexual violence among women aged 15–49.
- A 2014 study in The Lancet reports that although the reported sexual violence rate in India is among the lowest in the world, the large population of India means that the violence affects 27.5 million women over their lifetimes.
SC asks govt. what it has done to end manual scavenging
Relevance in UPSC: General Studies paper -2: Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes; Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.
- The Supreme Court has directed the government to place on record within six weeks the steps taken by it to implement its nearly 10-year-old judgment to end manual scavenging and prevent future generations from the “inhuman practice” while making entry into sewers without safety gear a crime even in emergency situations.
Measures and policies to end Manual Scavenging
Measures and policies to end Manual Scavenging
- Since Independence, the Indian government has adopted several measures and policies to end this practice.
- The Civil Rights Act of 1955 protects anyone from being forced to engage in manual scavenging.
The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act of 1993, and the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 that the Indian Parliament has passed, all reaffirms its commitment to eradicating manual scavenging.
- On March 27, 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that India’s Constitution requires the government to intervene to prohibit manual scavenging and to “rehabilitate” all those involved.
- The Building and Maintenance of Insanitary Latrines Act of 2013 outlaws construction or maintenance of unsanitary toilets, and the hiring of anybody for their manual scavenging, as well as of hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks. It also provides a constitutional responsibility to provide alternative jobs and other assistance to manual scavenging communities, as reparation for historical injustice and indignity.
Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge
- It was launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on World Toilet Day (19th November) in 2020.
- The Government launched this “challenge” for all states to make sewer-cleaning mechanised by April 2021 — if any human needs to enter a sewer line in case of unavoidable emergency, proper gear and oxygen tanks, etc., are to be provided.
Swachhta Abhiyan App
- It has been developed to identify and geotag the data of insanitary latrines and manual scavengers so that the insanitary latrines can be replaced with sanitary latrines and rehabilitate all the manual scavengers to provide dignity of life to them.
- The practice is driven by caste, class and income divides.
- It is linked to India’s caste system where so-called lower castes are expected to perform this job.
- Article 14: Equality before the law
- Article 17: Abolition of Untouchability
- Article 21: Protection of life and personal liberty
- Article 23: Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labor
Santh Sevalal Maharaj
Relevance in UPSC: General Studies paper -1: Indian Culture – Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
- In a first, the Union government on Sunday kicked off year-long celebrations to mark the 284th birth anniversary of Santh Sevalal Maharaj, a spiritual and religious leader of the Banjara community, a nomadic community that has been declared a Scheduled Tribe (ST) in a few States of India.
- The Banjara (also known as Lambadi, Gour Rajput, Labana) are a historically nomadic trading caste who may have origins in the Mewar region of what is now known as Rajasthan.
- The Banjara community have been declared as ST in five States (Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand), Scheduled Caste in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, and Other Backward Class (OBC) in Chhattisgarh, Daman and Diu, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand.
Santh Sevalal Maharaj
- Sevalal Maharaj (15 February 1739 – 4 January 1773) was an Indian socio-religious reformer, and community leader, and is now revered by the Kshatriyas Gor Banjara community as a spiritual guru.
- Sri Sevalal Maharaj, for the first time, provided a sense of protection to the community. Sri Sevalal gave spiritual and enlightened direction to the community.
- He championed Banjara/Lambada/Goar community’s political rights and indigenous rights over the traditional landscape while fighting with the Nizam, the Mysore, and Colonial rules.
- He blended spirituality and politics to get political and socio-cultural rights and to reform the community so that he could provide a sense of identity protection to the community while reforming the Banjara community.
- Millions of Gor Banjara/Lambada consider him as a legend, hero and spiritual Guru of the community. He attained the status of God among the Banjaras.
- Sevalal Maharaj died at Ruhigarh (Yavatmal District) and was buried at Poharagarh in Washim district, now in the state of Maharashtra.
- His samadhi still stands there, adjacent to a temple dedicated to goddess Jagadamba.
- Although he was opposed to personality cults and rituals, it is a popular destination for Banjaras at Hindu festivals such as Diwali.
- Similar adjacent temples dedicated to Sevalal and to Jagdamba exist elsewhere and also attract worshippers in significant numbers.
- Every Banjara village/tanda has red/saffron and white flag that symbolises the Sri Sevalal’e victory and identity recognition.
Towards transparency in OTT regulation
Relevance in UPSC: General Studies paper -3: Challenges to Internal Security through Communication Networks, Role of Media and Social Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges, Basics of Cyber Security; Money-Laundering and its prevention.
- It has been two years since the government issued the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules through which the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) was given the task of regulating content on OTT and online platforms.
- India’s approach can be termed as a light-touch ‘co-regulation’ model where there is ‘self-regulation’ at the industry level and final ‘oversight mechanism’ at the Ministry level.
- The Rules provide for a grievance redressal mechanism and a code of ethics.
- They mandate access control mechanisms, including parental locks, for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher and a reliable age verification mechanism for programmes classified as ‘A’ (18+).
What are OTT platforms?
- OTT, or over-the-top platforms, are audio and video hosting and streaming services which started out as content hosting platforms, but soon branched out into the production and release of short movies, feature films, documentaries and web-series themselves.
- These platforms offer a range of content and use artificial intelligence to suggest to users the content they are likely to view based on their past viewership on the platform.
Towards media literacy
- Though the OTT Rules were notified in 2021, there is little awareness about them among the general public.
- The Rules mandate the display of contact details relating to grievance redressal mechanisms and grievance officers on OTT websites/interface. However, compliance is very low.
- In many cases, either the complaint redressal information is not published or published in a manner that makes it difficult for a user to notice easily.
- In some cases, the details are not included as part of the OTT app interface. This underlines the need for ensuring uniformity in the way OTT publishers display key information relating to their obligations, timelines for complaint redressal, contact details of grievance officers, etc.
Need for transparency
- The current Rules provide for the third/final tier as the Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC) comprising officer-nominees from various ministries of Central government, and domain experts.
- The mechanism is such that while IDC recommends the course of action on OTT content violations, the Secretary of the Ministry is competent to take the final decision.
- The Supreme Court and High Courts have underlined the need for establishing a statutory body for regulating broadcast content.
- Pending the constitution of such a statutory regulator for the media, the IDC’s membership may be made more broad-based and representative and with security of tenure.
Issues Associated with OTT Platforms in India
- Lack of Direct Regulation
- Threat of Cybercrime
- Effect on Telecom Revenue Stream
- Risk to Moral Fabric of Society
The sophisticated anatomy of heat waves
Relevance in UPSC: General Studies paper -1: Important Geophysical Phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
- Last week, 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).
- Heat waves are expected to become longer and more intense and frequent over the Indian subcontinent. In 2022 itself, the heat waves started early and were more numerous.
- They also extended further south into peninsular India due to a north-south pressure pattern set up by the La Niña, a world-affecting weather phenomenon in which a band of cool water spreads east-west across the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
- The last three years have been La Niña years, which has served as a precursor to 2023 likely being an El Niño year.
- As we eagerly await the likely birth of an El Niño this year, we have already had a heat wave occur over northwest India. Heat waves tend to be confined to north and northwest India in El Niño years.
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.
How does air mass contribute to heat waves?
- The other factors that affect the formation of heat waves are the age of the air mass and how far it has travelled.
- The north-northwestern heatwaves are typically formed with air masses that come from 800-1,600 km away and are around two days old.
- Heat waves over peninsular India on the other hand arrive from the oceans, which are closer (around 200-400 km) and are barely a day old. As a result, they are on average less intense.
- In sum, heat waves have a sophisticated anatomy with important implications for how well we can predict them.
Zhongxing-26 Satellite Mission
- China sent the Zhongxing-26 communications satellite into orbit Feb. 23, marking the resumption orbital launches following a pause for Chinese New Year.
- Zhongxing-26 is based on the DFH-4E satellite bus and uses chemical and electric propulsion. It is China’s first satellite providing more than 100 gigabits per second (Gbps) and was developed by CASC’s China Academy of Space Technology (CAST).
Kol Janjati Mahakumbh
- Union Home Minister and Minister of Cooperation, Amit Shah addressed the ‘Kol Janjati Mahakumbh’ organized on the occasion of Shabri Mata Janm Jayanti at Madhya Pradesh.
- They are concentrated in the northern districts of Madhya Pradeshand Small Kol populations are also found in Orissa and Maharashtra.
- The Kol speak local dialects of Hindi and use the Devanagari script for writing.
- They celebrate the Jawara festival which appears to be an ancient Kol agricultural festival that later acquired some Hindu characteristics.
World NGO Day 2023
- The World NGO Day is an annual international observance on February 27 to recognize the contributions of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
- The day was first celebrated in 2010 and has since become an annual event that highlights the work of NGOs around the world.