GS Paper II –Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

No progress made on food security for Nagada tribals

What’s Happening-
Many tribals have returned to their old food habits: activists
Eight months after the death of 23 malnourished children in Nagada village of Odisha’s Jajpur district made headlines stirring the State government into action, no visible progress has been noticed on the food security front, alleged social activists after visiting the remote tribal habitats.

Key Points discussed were:

Chronic hunger:

  • Food insecurity leads to malnutrition and chronic hunger which result in starvation deaths.
  • Due to abject poverty, the Juang people of Nagada village continue to suffer from hunger and malnutrition.
  • To check malnutrition, the government has taken numerous steps starting from healthcare to providing nutritious food to the children.
  • There has been improvement in health of some malnourished children.
  • However, many tribals have returned to old food practice of taking salt and jungle leaves.
  • Due to lack of income, they cannot purchase vegetables and other nutritious food.
  • Thus the community continues to suffer from food insecurity. 

Income Generation Roles by Government:

  • Government should undertake income generating activities for the tribals.
  • Goat rearing, poultry and other agriculture and allied activities should be taken up for generating income of villagers.
  • Government can link food security with Nutritional Security.
  • Utilising MNREGA schemes effectively for Income Generation.

Background-
Twenty-three Juang tribal children have died in the last year due to acute malnutrition-related diseases in inaccessible hamlets atop the Nagada hills, in Odisha’s Jajpur district.
A public outcry has forced the State government to finally take up the issue.

Government’s role needed:
Activists suggest that the government continue providing nutritious food as many children in the village were still suffering from malnutrition.
Villagers are still not getting safe drinking water.
The government agency concerned should be directed to expedite its work and ensure provision of drinking water immediately.

Sources- The Indian Express, The Hindu. Page 21

GS Paper II –Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Black rhinos on the brink of extinction

What’s Happening-
The species has lost 70% of its genetic diversity, finds study.
As the value of rhinoceros Horn touches $65,000 per kg, poaching has begun to drive the African black rhinoceros to “the verge of extinction” – not just by reducing its population size, but by erasing 70% of the species’ genetic diversity – says a research paper published recently in Scientific Reports.

Key Points discussed by research paper:

Benefits of Genetic Variation and impacts:

  • Genetic variation is the cornerstone of evolution, without which there can be no natural selection.
  • A low genetic diversity decreases the ability of a species to survive and reproduce.
  • Two centuries ago, the black rhinoceros – which roamed much of sub Saharan Africa – had 64 different genetic lineages.
  • But today only 20 of these lineages remain.

Location:

  • The species is now restricted to five countries, South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. 
  • Genetically unique populations that once existed in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Mozambique, Malawi and Angola have disappeared.

Reasons for Decrease in population:

  • The origins of the ‘genetic erosion’ coincided with colonial rule in Africa and the popularity of big game hunting.
  • From the second half of the 20th century, however, poaching for horns has dramatically depleted their population and genetic diversity, especially in Kenya and Tanzania.
  • Greater the genetic diversity, the better is the population’s ability to respond to pressures such as climate change and diseases.
  • Thus the loss of so much evolutionary potential in the black rhino is worrying for its future adaptability.

Background-
Rhinos are   diet.
It has a thick protective skin and a large horn.
They generally eat leafy material.
Rhinoceros are killed by humans for their horns, which are bought and sold on the , and which are used by some cultures for ornamental or  purposes.
East Asia, specifically , is the largest market for rhino horns.
People grind up the horns and then consume them believing the dust has therapeutic properties.
The horns are made of , the same type of protein that makes up  and .
Both African species and the  have two horns, while the Indian and Javan rhinoceros have a single horn.
The  identifies three of the species as .

GS Paper III – Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

Merely opening accounts for women won’t ensure equality

What’s Happening-
Changing attitudes will address gender imbalance in financial services.
Bharatiya Mahila Bank, started with much fanfare a few years ago as a bank of, for and by women, which has been going nowhere in a hurry since its launch.

Key Points discussed were:

  • Killing the Bharatiya Mahila Bank is not a very difficult decision to take.
  • Tokenism has never achieved anything much anywhere, let alone in the field of gender equality in financial inclusion.

Closing the gap

  • Simply having women running the bank doesn’t address the vast gender imbalance prevailing in the financial services sector.
  • India’s largest nationalised bank is run by a woman. So is India’s largest private sector bank.
  • In fact, women-led banks in India – both nationalised and private sector – control an estimated 40% of assets in the banking sector. This is the highest proportion in the world.

Government measures:

  • The biggest measure this government from 39% of women having bank accounts before the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana kicked off, the figure jumped to 61% of women within a year of the PMJDY being operational.

Main Problems in making Financial Inclusion:

  • Simply opening a bank account for a woman does not make her financially independent.
  • Unless the women actually start using these accounts.
  • At the moment, more than a third of PMJDY accounts are dormant.
  • 86% of women PMJDY account holders, according to a Financial Inclusion Insights study, have only used their bank accounts for basic activities like deposits.
  • Lack of financial literacy is one big factor.
  • A 2015 Standard & Poor’s survey on financial literacy found that 80% of female respondents in India were financially illiterate.
  • There is also a huge ‘digital divide’ – only 44% of women have a cell phone compared to over two-thirds of men in India.

A question of perception:
These problems are solvable. Accounts can be opened, cell-phone connections can be issued.
But perceptions and attitudes cannot be changed by physical intervention. They need attitudinal change.
Seeing an opportunity:
Case study example:
The microfinance sector, especially self-help groups, where a majority of the customers are women.
By simply viewing women as being worthy of taking a financial bet on, the fortunes of millions of poor families have been transformed.
An astonishing 97% of the customers of Bandhan Financial Services, India’s largest microfinance institution which has just turned into a bank, were women.
The MFI sector’s bad loan portfolio is smaller by several multiples than that of the traditional banking sector.