GS PAPER – II
Why in news?
Recently, the Supreme Court released a 30page Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes.
Need for handbook
- The aim of the handbook is to assist judges and the legal community in identifying, understanding and combating stereotypes about women.
- It identifies common stereotypical words and phrases used about women, many of which are routinely found in judgements.
- In his foreword, the Chief Justice underscored the oftforgotten fact that “predetermined stereotypes in judicial decisionmaking contravene the duty of judges to decide each case on its merits, independently and impartially”.
GS PAPER – II
Bihar Caste-Based Census
Why in news?
The Supreme Court is set to hear petitions challenging the Patna High Court (HC)’s verdict upholding the Bihar government’s caste survey.
- On January 7, the State government launched a twophase caste survey in Bihar, stating that detailed information on socioeconomic conditions would help create better government policies for disadvantaged groups.
- The first phase of the survey completed and state was in the middle of the second phase, when the survey was halted due to a stay order from the HC. However, a recent HC verdict dismissed all petitions opposing the move allowing to resume.
What is the caste-based census?
- A caste census entails including a caste-by-caste breakdown of all castes in India, particularly the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), as well as SCs and STs.
- The first distinct census data on Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) were released in 1952.
- In 1931, the first caste census results were made public.
- Despite having a caste census in 2011, the information was not made public.
What is the need for a Caste-Based Census?
- To successfully administer programmes and channel welfare initiatives.
- Since the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), who are primarily represented in Bihar’s coalition government, have been negatively impacted by the current quota system.
- Possible political advantages that could be used to determine the genuine OBC population in Bihar.
- Even though the UPA government conducted a caste census in 2011, the results were kept secret for a number of reasons.
- The survey would make it easier to create a state budget designed to protect marginalised groups.
Issue with Caste-Based Census:
- According to the petitions, only the Center is authorised by the Constitution to conduct a census, hence the survey is unconstitutional.
- They also note that, absent a Center notification under Section 3 of the Census Act of 1948, the State Government lacks any autonomous authority to designate District Magistrates and local authorities for data collection.
- Right to privacy: According to the Puttuswamy Judgment, the government may be in violation of this right when collecting socioeconomic data.
- Caste censuses may encourage stereotyping and the categorization of groups.
- Upon the conclusion of this Bihar caste census, the results will be presented to the State Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council before being made available to the general public.
- With the help of this caste census, the government would be able to plan for reservations and the correct implementation of other programmes by knowing the number of castes in the state and their economic standing.
GS PAPER – III
ZARTH App : ZTF Augmented Reality Transient Hunter
Why in news?
The ZTF Augmented Reality Transient Hunter (ZARTH) is modelled after augmented reality video games for mobile devices.
It enables the user to play a game while conducting important science.
Benefits of the ZARTH App
- The app uses the open-source Sky Map and updates it every day with information from the robotic telescope operated by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) at the Palomar Observatory in California.
- The 200-inch Hale reflector telescope, one of the oldest, biggest, and most potent telescopes in the world, is located at Palomar.
- Every two days, the ZTF scans the whole northern sky, and it uses the information to create huge area sky maps that are crucial for analysing supernovae and tracking near-Earth asteroids.
- Transients discovered by the ZTF in real-time are fed into the app every day.
- Flaring stars (variable stars that briefly flare up), white dwarf binaries (burned remnants of dead stars that orbit one another, frequently fuse, and explode in supernovae), active galactic nuclei, and various other types are among the transients.
- Players can compete with one another to gain points and earn daily credits, which are duly reported on the leaderboards. The programme rates transients according to their rarity and relevance.
What is a Transient Phenomena?
- Astronomical events having lifetimes ranging from fractions of a second to weeks or years are referred to as transients.
- They typically involve the complete or partial destruction of an astrophysical object and are dramatic, brief phenomena.
GS PAPER – III
Metagenomic sequencing was recently used in a study by Nigerian Center for Disease Control scientists to monitor pathogens.
What is Metagenomic?
- The study of microbes in their natural habitat, which includes the intricate microbial communities in which they often dwell, is known as metagenomics.
- The study looks at an organism’s whole genome, including all of the bacteria living inside it. Direct sequencing of patient samples is made possible, negating the necessity for prior understanding of the infectious agent.
Benefits of Metagenomics:
- It makes it possible for us to comprehend the variety, quantity, and interactions of microorganisms in any system.
- It differs from traditional sequencing techniques that call for isolating or cultivating specific species before sequencing their genomes.
Why in news?
- The Union Cabinet approved a scheme to add 10,000 e-buses to city bus services across the country, and to shore up urban infrastructure under green mobility initiatives with a focus on cities having no organised bus services.
About the e-Bus Sewa Scheme
- An e-bus is any bus whose propulsion and accessory systems are powered exclusively by a zero-emissions electricity source.
- The PM e-bus Sewa scheme will have an estimated cost of ₹57,613 crore, of which the Centre will provide ₹20,000 crore and the remaining will be borne by the States. It will support bus operations for 10 years. The scheme will be implemented in two segments.
- In 169 cities, 10,000 e-buses will be deployed using the public-private partnership (PPP) model; in 181 other cities, infrastructure will be upgraded under the green urban mobility initiatives.
- For cities in the first segment, depot infrastructure will also be developed or upgraded to support the new e-buses, including the creation of behind-the-meter power infrastructure such as substations.
- For those in the second segment, the initiatives will focus on bus priority, infrastructure, multimodal interchange facilities, automated fare collection systems, and charging infrastructure.
- Cities with a population of three lakh and above will be covered under the scheme, including all the capital cities of Union Territories, and the northeastern and hill States.
- States or cities will be responsible for running the bus services and making payments to the bus operators.
- The Central government will support these bus operations by providing subsidies to the extent specified in the scheme.
- Around 45,000 to 55,000 direct jobs are expected to be generated via the scheme.
GS PAPER – III
Why in news?
- The Odisha government has withdrawn a controversial order issued earlier, which told district officials that ‘deemed forests’ as a category would cease to exist under the recently amended Forest Act.
- The Odisha government, since 1996, had with the help of expert committees at the district-level, identified nearly 66 lakh acres as ‘deemed forest’ but many of them were not officially notified as such in government records.
- ‘Deemed forests’ are forests that aren’t classified so, by the Centre or States, in their records.
- However, a 1996 judgment of the Supreme Court in the Godavarman case entrusted States with identifying parcels of land “that conformed to the dictionary meaning of forest, irrespective of ownership” and expanding protections available under the Forest Act to them too.
- An updated Forest Act, passed by Parliament, said that only forests classified and recorded as such after 1980 would be protected.
- Forest land officially diverted by the government for non-forestry purposes between 1980 and 1996 would also not be protected.
- However, Environment Ministry clarified to a Joint Parliamentary Committee, constituted to examine provisions of the Bill, that the amendments did not fall afoul of the 1996 SC judgment.
- Tracts of forest land or deemed forest lands, identified by the Expert Committee of the State, have been taken on record and hence the provisions of the Act will be applicable in such lands also.
Why in news?
- The University Grants Commission (UGC) has formed a panel to develop a model syllabus for courses in manuscriptology and paleography in colleges and universities across the country.
- Manuscriptology is the study of history and literature through the use of handwritten documents, while paleography is the study of ancient writing systems.
- According to the National Mission on Manuscripts (NMM), India possesses an estimated 10 million manuscripts in 80 ancient scripts. While 75% of the manuscripts are in Sanskrit, 25% are in regional languages.
About the Panel
- The 11-member panel will be headed by Prafulla Mishra, former Director of the National Mission for Manuscripts, and will include Malhar Kulkarni, Professor at IIT-Mumbai; Vasant Bhatt, former Director of the School of Languages, Gujarat University; and Jatindra Mohan Mishra, Professor of Sanskrit in NCERT, Delhi.
- The committee has been set up for standardising the postgraduate diploma courses in manuscriptology and paleography in various colleges and universities.
- The committee is expected to develop a model syllabus for courses in both the subjects which can be offered to students either specialising in them or as open electives to students in other branches of study.
- As part of promotion of the Indian Knowledge System recommended in the NEP, universities can use the syllabus for various courses.
National Mission for Manuscripts
- The National Mission of Manuscripts (NMM) was established to unearth and preserve India’s vast wealth of manuscripts.
- The NMM was established in 2003 by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.
- According to some estimates, there are about ten million manuscripts in India, probably the largest collection in the world.
- These manuscripts include a wide variety of themes, languages, scripts, textures and aesthetics, illuminations, calligraphies, and illustrations.
- The chief mandate of the mission is to identify, collect, document, preserve and conserve the manuscripts from all over India and make it accessible to people.
- Many manuscripts are in a poorly preserved state in the country and stand the risk of being lost forever.
CONTINUOUS DECLINE IN TEXTILE EXPORTS
Why in news?
- Exports of textiles and apparel declined 1.9% and 17.4%, respectively, in July compared with the same period the year earlier. Cumulative export of textiles and apparel for the April-July 2023 period slid 13.7% year-on-year.
Related data and figures
- Data from the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI) showed that cotton yarn, fabrics, and made-ups registered 6.62% growth last month ($1,009 million) from July 2022 ($946.48 million). However, shipment of man-made yarn, fabrics, made-ups, jute products, carpets, and apparel items declined.
- Textile products worth a total of $1,663 million were shipped last month compared with $1,695 million in July 2022. Apparel exports were $1,141 million last month versus $1,381 million in July 2022.
- Garment exports were at a “sustained low” for a year. In volume terms, the decline was sharp. Retailers in the U.S. market were destocking and demand was expected to revive. India expects a good cotton crop next season. If cotton prices remain competitive, exports will revive.
- Regarding cotton textile exports, the mood is cautiously optimistic. Demand looked better from China and if Indian cotton prices are reasonable, export of fabrics will look up.
- in the current market conditions, India could regain competitiveness in cotton textiles only if the import duty on cotton was removed.