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Current Affairs November 21, 2023: Reservation in Private Employment, Anticipatory Bail, Eklavya Model Residential School, Amazon Women of the World, Biochar, Fraud Loan Apps, Relationship between RMG sector and Carbon Emissions, Houthis, Red Sea, GI Tag for Sea Buckthorn, Open AI, Shrinking Kadalundi Mudflats, Inflation, daksh

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Table of contents

{GS2 – Polity – IC – FRs} Reservation in Private Employment

  • Context (TH): Punjab and Haryana HC declared the 75% reservation for locals in Haryana in the private sector jobs unconstitutional and held it to be violative of Part III of IC.

Local job laws and Constitutional Questions

  • Article 19(1)(g) of IC guarantees freedom to carry out any occupation, trade, or business. However, 75% of job reservation for locals encroaches upon this right.
  • Article 16 of IC provides for equality of opportunity for all citizens in public employment.
  • In the Indra Sawhney case (1992), the SC capped reservations in public services at 50%. It, however, said that there may be extraordinary situations that may need a relaxation of this rule. The 75% reservation for locals is not a special case of exceptional circumstances.
  • Under Article 35 of IC, the Parliament has the power to make laws with respect to the matter given under clause (3) of Article 16, while the State Legislature does not have this power.

Why does the Constitution prohibit reservation based on domicile?

  • As India follows single citizenship, which gives citizens the liberty to move around freely in any part of the country, the requirement of a place of birth or residence cannot be a qualification for granting public employment in any state.

Public Employment (Requirement as to Residence) Act 1957

  • It was passed to repeal all existing laws prescribing any requirement of residence within a state for public employment.
  • It provided exceptions only in the special instances of Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura, and Himachal Pradesh, where local residence can be a criterion.
  • However, such rules prescribing local residence criteria must be notified by the Central Government and not State governments.
  • Constitutionally, some states also have special protections under Article 371.
  • Andhra Pradesh, under Article 371(d), has powers to have “direct recruitment of local cadre” in specified areas.

Impact of Local Residence Requirement on Competitiveness

  • Mandating companies to employ local candidates may hurt their efficiency and competitiveness. This is because:
    • Adequate skilled domestic labour may not be available.
    • Businesses may not be able to employ the best candidates.

{GS2 – Polity – IC – Judiciary} Anticipatory Bail

  • Context (LiveLaw): The SC has held that HCs and Sessions Court have the power to grant interim/transit anticipatory bail even when the FIR has been registered in another State.
  • Bail is a legal process that allows an arrested person to be released from custody.
  • Ordinary bail is granted after arrest, releasing the accused from custody.
  • Anticipatory bail is granted in anticipation of arrest, i.e., it precedes the detention of the accused.
  • It aims to safeguard the right to life and personal liberty of a person under Article 21 of IC.
  • Section 438 of CrPC confers the power to grant anticipatory or transit bail only upon the HC and the Court of Sessions.
  • On the recommendation of the 41st Law Commission report, the provision of anticipatory bail was inserted under Section 438 of CrPC.

Transit Bail (Transit Anticipatory Bail)

  • The term transit bail is not defined under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) or any other law, but has been recognised through judicial practice and legal precedent.
  • A transit bail is a bail granted by a Court not having jurisdiction over the place where the offence was committed.
  • It is granted when a person is apprehending arrest by police of a State other than the State where he/she is presently situated.
  • It enables the applicant to approach the appropriate Court (where the offence is alleged to have been committed and the case is registered).

{GS2 – Vulnerable Sections – STs} Eklavya Model Residential School

  • Context (PIB): The President of India recently inaugurated an Eklavya Model Residential School at Kuliana, Odisha.

Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS)

  • EMRS were started in 1997-98 under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA).
  • These schools are established from the grants received under Article 275(1) of the IC.
  • The MoTA established the National Education Society for Tribal Students (NESTS), an autonomous organisation to oversee EMRS nationwide.
  • It aims:
    • To provide quality education to Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) students with residential facilities in remote corners.
    • To enable them to access the best opportunities in education.
    • To bring them to par with the general population.

Features

  • EMRS are co-educational residential schools from Class VI to XII.
  • Non-ST students can be admitted in these schools on seats up to 10% of the total seats.
  • The CBSE curriculum is followed in these schools, and education is completely free.

Revamped EMRS scheme, 2019

  • It aims to:
    • Establish an EMRS in every tribal sub-district.
    • Include population criteria for their establishment.
    • Reduce the minimum land requirement from twenty acres to fifteen acres.

National Education Society for Tribal Students (NESTS)

  • It is an autonomous organisation established in 2018 under the MoTA and 1M1B Foundation (USA).
  • It aims to provide high-quality education to the tribal students in their own environment.
  • It manages EMRSs.

{GS2 – Vulnerable Sections – Women} Amazon Women of the World (WoW) Programme

  • Context (IE): Amazon India has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to extend its Amazon WoW (Women of the World) initiative.
  • Amazon WoW is a networking platform for all women engineering students in India that connects them to Amazon leaders, recruiters and the broader Amazon community.
  • Objective: It aims to foster optimising resource utilisation, upskilling and promoting tech careers among women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
  • Eligibility: It is open to any women student who is currently pursuing a four-year BTech/BE or two-year MCA, M.Tech/ME programme or five-year dual degree.

{GS3 – Envi – Air Pollution} Biochar

  • The technology for producing biochar from stubble was the brainchild of Dr RK Gupta, a retired professor at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU).
  • Biochar is a charcoal-like substance made by biomass pyrolysis.
  • Pyrolysis is the process of heating organic materials in the absence of oxygen.

Benefits of Biochar

  • Improves soil health: It improves soil structure, water retention, and nutrient-holding capacity.
  • Carbon sequestration: It is a stable form of carbon that can be stored for centuries.
  • Reduces water pollution: It can filter out pollutants from water, such as pesticides and heavy metals.
  • It can reduce the amount of pathogens in the soil.
  • It can reduce emissions by 70% as compared to open stubble burning.

Concerns with Biochar

  • Contaminated feedstocks may transfer pollutants like heavy metals into biochar.
  • During pyrolysis, carbon-containing gases are emitted, mainly volatile organic carbon species (VOC), carbon monoxide, and aerosols.
  • It can alter soil pH, affect nutrient availability, and disrupt microbial communities.

For details on Stubble Burning > {GS3 – Envi – Air Pollution} Stubble Burning

{GS3 – IE – Banking} Scamming Fraud Loan Apps

  • Context (IE): Borrowers are successfully deceiving fake loan apps by creating fake IDs.
  • Regulatory bodies like RBI and online platforms like Meta, Google, Apple’s App Store and WhatsApp find controlling fraud loan apps challenging.
  • But in a classic case of role reversal, certain borrowers are scamming these fraud apps to take loans.
  • For this, they create a fake digital trail using forged documents and an empty phone.
  • At the time of loan recovery, the fraud apps harass the borrowers using their personal data.
  • But in this case, the apps only have fake data and cannot be used for harassment.

For details on Fraud Loan Apps > Digital Lending Market on PMF IAS 19th-20th Nov, 2023 CA

{GS3 – IE – Industry} Protest by Bangladesh’s Garment Workers

  • Context (TH): Since October last week, the Bangladesh Ready Made Garment (RMG) manufacturing sector workers have been protesting against the delay in the revision of minimum wages.

Significance of RMG Sector to Bangladesh’s Economy

  • Bangladesh is the world’s 2nd largest exporter of Ready-Made Garments (RMG) after China.
  • It accounts for 85% of the country’s export earnings to the tune of $55 billion in 2022.
  • Its share in the global RMG market is 8%.
  • Main markets of Bangladesh’s RMG sector: USA, UK, Europe, Canada.
  • The sector provides employment to rural women and has led to a decline in poverty from 44.2% in 1991 to 5% in 2022.

Reasons for the RMG sector’s workers protest

  • Inadequate Minimum Wage: Garment workers protest the insufficiency of the minimum wage, which falls short of meeting rising living costs due to inflation.
  • Impact of High Inflation: Escalating prices, especially for essentials like food and fuel, have eroded the real value of their wages.
  • Delayed Wage Revisions: Frustration over the delay in wage adjustments, which are not aligned with the increasing cost of living.
  • Bangladesh follows a system of setting minimum wages for each sector of the economy, which is revised every five years.
  • Import curbs to prevent the decline of the foreign exchange reserves (from $48 billion in 2021 to <$20 billion in mid-2023) had adversely impacted the sector.

What has the government done?

  • The government raised the minimum monthly pay for the garment workers by 56% which has been rejected by the trade unions.

Relationship between RMG sector and Carbon Emissions

  • According to UNEP, the fashion industry is responsible for 2-8% of global greenhouse emissions, making it ‘one of the largest contributors to climate and ecological crisis’.
  • Bangladesh has the maximum number of U.S. Green Building Council certified RMG factories globally.
  • Yet, the sector contributes more than a quarter of the country’s total emissions with an annual growth of >8% in the last two decades alone.

Reasons for rising emissions from the sector

  • Use of old and badly maintained machines coupled,
  • Poor energy management,
  • Inadequate financial incentives,
  • Lack of technical expertise and an enabling environment.

Way Forward

  • Regular review and adjustment of minimum wages, in line with inflation and cost of living changes.
  • Facilitate stronger representation of workers in decision-making processes, allowing for collective bargaining and ensuring their voices are heard in policy formulation.

{GS3 – IS – Misc} Seizure of India-bound Ship by Houthis

  • Context (TH): The India-bound ship, Galaxy Leader, reportedly on its way from Turkey to India was seized by the Houthis in the southern Red Sea.
  • The Houthis stated that the seizure was a response to “heinous acts against Palestinian in Gaza and the West Bank.

Who are the Houthis?

  • The Houthis, officially known as Ansar Allah (Supporters of God), are a political and armed movement predominantly based in Yemen.
  • They originated in the 1990s as a Zaidi Shia movement in Yemen, primarily focused on defending Zaidi Shia religious and cultural traditions.
  • The group was founded by Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, and it took his name after his death in 2004.
  • They make up around 35% of the Yemen’s population.

Red Sea

  • It is a narrow strip of water extending southeastward from Suez, Egypt, for about 1,200 miles (1,930 km) to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.
  • It was formed by the rifting of the Arabian and African plates, which started around 30 million years ago.
  • It is one of the most saline water bodies in the world.
  • It connects the Gulf of Aden with the Arabian Sea.
  • At the northern end, it splits into the Gulf of Suez (leading to the Suez Canal) and the Gulf of Aqaba.
  • At the southern end, it connects to the Indian Ocean via the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden.
  • It is surrounded by desert or semi-desert areas, with no major freshwater inflow.
  • Countries bordering the Red Sea:
    1. Egypt,
    2. Saudi Arabia,
    3. Yemen,
    4. Sudan,
    5. Eritrea, and
    6. Djibouti

Which countries share their border with red sea?

{GS3 – S&T – AI} OpenAI

  • Context (IE | IE | TH): OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT, sacks CEO Sam Altman.

A Brief History of OpenAI

  • OpenAI was set up in 2015 as a non-profit AI research organisation to develop artificial general intelligence (AGI).
  • Around 2017, OpenAI introduced the idea of Generative Pre-trained Transformers (GPTs).
  • In 2019, OpenAI ‘transitioned’ into two organisations:
    1. OpenAI Global LLC: A ‘capped-profit’ organisation (with a maximum return on investment capped at 100 times the original amount).
    2. OpenAI Inc: The non-profit sole controlling shareholder in OpenAI Global LLC.
  • OpenAI made headlines in 2022 after it released ChatGPT, based on the GPT-3.5 architecture.
  • Currently, ChatGPT based on GPT-4 architecture is also available.
  • Artificial general intelligence (AGI): Capable like humans in every task.
  • Artificial narrow intelligence (ANI): Better than humans in one specific task. E.g., autonomous driving
  • Artificial super intelligence (ASI): Better than humans in every task.

Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT)

  • A GPT is a neural network or a machine learning model which functions like a human brain.
  • It is trained on large datasets to generate answers to users’ questions.
  • ChatGPT is a conversational artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot.

For details on Language Models and Machine Learning > {GS3 – S&T – AI} Lack of Safety Guardrails in AI-Language Models

{GS3 – S&T – IPR – GI} GI Tag for Sea Buckthorn

Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)

  • Sea buckthorn is a deciduous shrub native to Europe and Asia.
  • It is known for its small, orange-yellow berries that are packed with nutrients.
  • In India, it is found in HP, Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • In HP, it is locally called chharma.

Benefits of Sea Buckthorn

Medicinal Benefits

  • Sea buckthorn is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • It is particularly high in vitamins C and omega fatty acids.
  • It can reduce inflammation, boost immune system, treat heart and skin problems, etc.

Ecological Benefits

  • Sea buckthorn is a soil-binding plant which prevents soil-erosion and checks siltation in rivers.
  • It is a pest resistant shrub and so is a good alternative for protecting the local ecology.
  • It grows well in dry regions.

Economic Benefits

  • Sea buckthorn is used in making juices, jams, nutritional capsules etc.
  • It is also an important source of fuelwood and fodder.

Other GI Tags of Ladakh

  1. Apricot (Raktsey Karpo)
  2. Pashmina
  3. Ladakhi Wood Carving

A close-up of a Sea Buckthorn in Ladakh
Description automatically generated

{Prelims – Envi – Conservation} Shrinking Kadalundi Mudflats

  • Context (TH): Researchers have pointed towards the shrinking of Kadalundi mudflats ecosystem in Kerala.
  • Mudflats are coastal wetlands in intertidal areas where tides or rivers have deposited sediments.
  • They are found in sheltered regions such as bayous, lagoons, estuaries, and bays.
  • They protect shores from the eroding forces of nature and serve as important habitat for shore birds.
  • Kadalundi mudflats are located in the Kasaragod district of Kerala.
  • These nutrient-rich mudflats are located in the estuary of the Kadalundipuzha River.
  • It serves as a habitat for migratory shorebirds from Siberia, Ladakh, Mongolia, and Scotland and is part of the East Asia-Australasia Flyway.
  • A map of the Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary on the banks of Kadalundi River and Mudflats
Description automatically generatedThe Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary and mudflats are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Why are the Mudflats Shrinking?

  • Expansion of mangroves as an effort to popularise ecotourism in the Kadalundi-Vallikunnu Community Reserve (KVCR).
  • Mangroves thrive in salt water and have proliferated fast to become invasive.
  • The sedimentation of sand on mudflats reduces the amount of prey and helps mangroves proliferate.
  • Floods have also hastened the process of degradation in Kadalundi.
  • Kadalundi-Vallikkunu Community Reserve is India’s first riverfront community reserve.

{Prelims – IE – Money} Consumer Price Index Number for Agricultural Labourers (CPI-AL) and Rural Labourers (CPI-RL)

  • Context (PIB): The All-India Consumer Price Index Number for Agricultural Labourers (CPI-AL) and Rural Labourers (CPI-RL) was recently released by the Labour Bureau.
  • The base year for the Index is 1986-87.

Key Findings

  • The index for Agricultural Labourers (CPI-AL) and Rural Labourers (CPI-RL) increased by 15 points and 14 points respectively.
  • A major contribution to the rise came from the food group due to the increase in prices of rice, wheat atta, pulses, vegetables, milk, onion, chillies (green), mixed spices, etc.
  • The maximum increase was experienced by Jammu and Kashmir for both the index; Kerela witnessed the minimum increase.

Consumer Price Index (CPI)

  • It measures changes in the price level of a weighted average market basket of consumer goods and services purchased by households.
  • It measures changes over time in the level of retail prices of selected goods and services on which consumers of a defined group spend their incomes.
  • Base year for CPI: 2012.
  • Four types of CPI
    1. CPI for Industrial Workers (IW).
    2. CPI for Agricultural Labourer (AL).
    3. CPI for Rural Labourer (RL).
    4. CPI (Rural/Urban/Combined).
  • Of these, the first three are compiled by the Labour Bureau in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, fourth is compiled by the Central Statistical Organization (CSO) in the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

{Prelims – S&T – Robotics} Daksh

  • Context (HT): To help in the rescue operation of Silkyara tunnel collapse, the Defence Research Development Organisation‘s (DRDO’s) robotics team has employed Daksh.
  • Daksh is a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) used to detect and manage improvised explosive devices (IEDs), surveying nuclear and chemical contamination and handling hazardous objects.
  • DRDO is the R&D wing of Ministry of Defence, Govt of India.

For details on Silkyara Tunnel Collapse > Char Dham All-Weather Road Project on PMF IAS 17th Nov 2023 CA

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