1.Is noise the only way to get noticed? (The Hindu)
2.Partial cover (The Hindu)
3.Organophosphate insecticides and rural diabetes
1.Is noise the only way to get noticed? (The Hindu)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the rising phenomena of extreme rightist or leftist notions among the political parties.(GS paper II)
- Political working in India is witnessing rising radical ideologies. Many a times such a radicalism is unwanted and even hurts the credentials of their host parties.
- Such a trend can be ascribed to the functioning model of a political party as well as to the individuals concerned.
What are Fringe elements?
- A “fringe element” is a small group of people whose views put them outside the main group to which they belong.
- Thus, a fringe element could be a religious group that is much more liberal or conservative than most of the people in their religion. It could also be a political fringe element that advocates violence or radical solutions that most people in their political group don’t agree with, etc.
- Their views tend to be much more extreme than the main part of the group they belong to.
Why parties shelter these fringe elements?
- There are always certain section in a political party who calls for more radical approach to problems and calls for populist measures. Hence, to keep them engrossed in the party the fringe section is harboured in the party.
- Moreover, often they reflect the party’s stand on certain sticky issues which a party cannot openly represent due to certain democratic values or due to political backlash (such as support for any particular religious group). Hence these fringe sections can represent or openly support those sticky values.
- They can act as “regulatory cholesterol” i.e. party can distance with them anytime if their activity becomes too extreme or is not beneficial for party at a specific moment.
Why a fringe develops?
- To win political favours: Fringe behaviour often develops in the lower level political circles to please the higher level politicians in hope of a political mileage. Basic driving factor in such a scenario is the hope of career advancement.
- Lack of Democracy: In India, unless one belongs to a well-established political family or has a great amount of financial resources, he or she would find it extremely difficult to move up the political ladder. Thus, lower-level politicians have two options to increase the likelihood of their political advancement.
- One is a ‘push’ strategy, by consistently doing good work on the ground and hoping that the party recognises their work.
- Another way or an easier way still is to try and win favour directly with their political masters, who rarely follow well-established processes to determine political promotions. In order for them to get noticed by those in higher ranks, they need to create some sort of noise or disturbance. Hence, fringe elements are developed.
- Lack of Responsibility: Indian political parties lack sense of responsibility towards larger party goals due to hierarchical nature of political parties. This is strengthened by the failure of parties to cultivate a sense of ownership for local politicians in the larger issues facing the nation. This leaves individuals at the local level with virtually no sense of responsibility towards many of the policy decisions a government takes and they are left to interpret the party’s core concerns the way they wish.
- In order to deal with this effectively, one option for political parties would be to come down on these individuals with a heavy hand.
- Even a more sustainable option is to reduce the randomness in political advancement at the local level. This can be done by introducing reforms that strengthen inner-party democracy during selection of candidates for different roles.
- It is vital that political parties take steps to alter the present system and give local politicians a larger stake in larger issues of the day.
2. Partial cover (The Hindu)
Synoptic line: the enhancement of paid maternity leave for women in the organized sector is a strong step with marginal benefit. (GS I and II)
- Recently, government has brought sweeping changes in Maternity Benefits Act by increasing the duration of paid maternity leaves to the women
- India lags far behind when it comes to maternal and infant mortality indicators. Such a step holds huge prospects of the expecting mothers as well as for the ante natal care.
Maternal Health in India
- According to various surveys, nearly every third woman in the country is undernourished and half of Indian women are anemic. An undernourished woman is most likely to delivery a low-weight baby.
- The UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2014 states that India recorded the highest number of maternal deaths and accounted for 17 per cent of global deaths due to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications.
- To maintain female labor force participation rate on higher side and to ensure better healthcare and to be financially strong during a sensitive time, the Maternity benefit (amendment) bill 2017 can be seen as bright light.
- However, the Bill only applies to the organized sector, covering 4.4 per cent of women within this while over 90 per cent of India’s women workers are in unorganized sector, fields, domestic labour etc, it also does not include paternity leave was essential to redefine childcare from being “women’s work” to a shared responsibility.
Highlights of the bill
- The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed by the Lok Sabha that makes India third on the list of countries with most maternity leave, after Canada and Norway where it is 50 weeks and 44 weeks respectively.
Important features of the bill
- The Bill is an amendment to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, which protects the employment of women and entitles her to full-paid absence from work to take care for her child.
- With benefitting over 1.8 million women working in the organized sector will now be entitled to paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, up from 12 weeks.
- The Bill also provides for maternity leave of 12 weeks to mothers adopting a child below the age of three months as well as to commissioning mothers (defined as a biological mother) who uses her egg to have a surrogate child. In such cases, 12-week period of maternity leave will be calculated from the date the child is handed over to the adoptive or commissioning mother.
- The bill made mandatory for every establishment with (more than 50 employees) to provide creche facilities within a prescribed distance. The woman will be allowed four visits to the creche in a day. This will include her interval for rest.
- The new law will apply to all establishments employing 10 or more people and the entitlement will be for only up to first two children. For third child, the entitlement will be for only 12 weeks.
- The Bill has a provision under which an employer can permit a woman to work from home, if the nature of work assigned permits her to do so. This option can be availed of, after the period of maternity leave, for a duration that is mutually decided by the employer and the woman.
- The amendments would ensure that full maternal care is provided during the full bloom period and will encourage more women to join the workforce in organized sector.
- Women in unorganized sectors continue to bear the brunt of poverty and gender-based discrimination.
- A multi-State study throws light on how the maternity benefits are focused only on urban working women and eludes the poor women working in unorganized sectors.
- The coverage of bill is limited to benefit pregnant women working only in the organized sector, it ignores many millions poor women working in the unorganized sector.
- Under the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana which allows pregnant women to receive a sum of Rs 6, 000 for the birth of two children in order to compensation for loss of income.
- Though it’s the mother who actually delivers the child but father plays an equally important role. A father is expected to be emotionally and physically available for both mother and child, before and after the delivery.
- In India under Central Civil Services (Leave) rule made provisions for paternity leave for a male Central Government employee (including an apprentice and probationer) with less than two surviving children for a period of 15days.
- He can avail this leave 15 days before or within 6 months from the date of delivery of child. If such leave is not availed within the period, it shall be treated as lapsed. Also, the same rule applies when a child is adopted.
- While paternity leave is sanctioned for government employees, there is not any such law that made the private sector to make it obligatory. Hence paternity leave is open to interpretation by individual companies.
- Being a country where our family is of first and foremost importance for us, it is an utter necessity to provide reasonable amount of maternity as well as paternity leaves.
- Although there are many schemes of the Government such as IGMSY and Janani Suraksha Yojana, but the benefits still have eluded a large section of women in the unorganized sector as most women are not aware of the Act or the schemes. The Act does not benefit the casual workers as also the ‘contractual’ employees.
Organophosphate insecticides and rural diabetes
- High prevalence of diabetes is being reported from rural areas particularly in the southern states.
- A peculiar occurrence can can also be noticed as majority of people reported are neither obese nor does they have a family history of the disease.
- A medical investigation had found high residues of an organophosphate (OP) insecticide in their blood and urine samples. Chronic exposure to organophosphate not only induces diabetes but also leads to impaired glucose tolerance (type II diabetes) in both humans and mice.
- The researchers surveyed people from seven villages in Thirupparan-kundram block of Madurai district. Participants were above the age of 35 years. Almost 55 per cent of them were from the farming community and were, hence, more likely to be exposed to OPs.
- Based on the blood test results, it was found that the prevalence of diabetes among the farming community was three times higher (18.3 per cent) than that in the non-farming community (6.2 per cent), despite the low level of typical risk factors such as obesity, high cholesterol and physical inactivity.
· Organophosphates are a group of chemicals that have many domestic and industrial uses, though they are most commonly used as Insecticides and are responsible for a number of poisonings.
· After countries started regulating or banning DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), an organochlorine insecticide, in the 1970s due to its effects on the environment, OP insecticides came to be used widely across the world. OPs account for 40 per cent of the global pesticide market.
· OPs inhibit the function of an enzyme called cholinesterase, which ensures proper functioning of the nervous system.
· Studies have shown that organophosphate exposure is associated with neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease and metabolic disorders such as diabetes and hypertension.
· It is also known to cause neurological disorders in infants and young children. What makes OP exposure worse is the lack of awareness about safety gear among farm workers.
Organophosphates in India
- In India, pesticide use is regulated by the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee (CIBRC) and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
- CIBRC has completely banned two OP pesticides and regulated the use of four others. Of the four are methyl parathion, which is banned for use on fruits and vegetables, and monocrotophos, which is banned for use on vegetables.
- Yet, they are used extensively by farmers in Tamil Nadu. In fact, he had filed an RTI against some of the state’s agricultural universities, which listed these banned pesticides on their websites and even recommended their use.
Implications for India
- The findings of the study assume importance as India is the diabetes capital of the world.
- As of 2015, more than 69 million people in the country were estimated to be living with diabetes (see ‘Diabetes Capital’). Changing diets, sedentary lifestyle, and a genetic predisposition to developing the disease are expected to result in an increase in the number of type II diabetics to 79.4 million by 2030. With factors such as the increasing and indiscriminate use of pesticides now coming into play, diabetes no longer remains an urban preserve. Hence, a viable solution to curtail the use of OP(s) should be find out.
- The occurrence of ‘killer rip tides’ is being studied by ISRO in collaboration with a private lifeguard agency appointed by the Goa government to safeguard its beaches.
- Using a specially developed device and the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System and a navigation receiver, the team of scientists, along with the lifeguard specialists, tested the presence of active rips along some beaches on January 31 to February 1, documenting these for future research.
- A rip tide is a strong sea current which pulls the water away from the shore, often catching unawares swimmers and people enjoying the sea in the shallows and can drag them into the sea.
- These currents are often called “riptides,” but this is a misnomer. Tides are the rising and falling of water levels in the ocean. They are primarily caused by the moon’s gravitational pull, and they change gradually and predictably every day.
- Rip currents are caused by the shape of the shoreline itself, and they may be sudden and unexpected.
- Rip tides can be identified by discoloured water, choppy waves and a foamy surface