Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS | 1st October 2021

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1.  Failing on food

UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper II – Social Issues
Sub Theme: Hunger | Food Security |UPSC

Context: There is need to put more effort and funds to fight rising trend of hunger in India

  • NFHS is a large-scale, multi-round survey conducted in a representative sample of households throughout India.
  • Agency: International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) Mumbai, (MoHFW)
  • First Survey: 1992-93, Second 1998-99 in all 26 states of India, Third (2005-2006), fourth (2014-2015)
  • The survey provides information on:
    • Fertility
    • Infant and child mortality
    • The practice of family planning
    • Maternal and child health
    • Reproductive health
    • Nutrition
    • Anaemia
    • Utilization and quality of health and family planning services


  • To provide essential data on health and family welfare needed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and other agencies for policy and programme purposes.
  • To provide information on important emerging health and family welfare issues.
  • Funding by USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEFUNFPA, and MoHFW.

Key Findings of the NFHS-5

  • Majority of the states are in normal sex ratio of 952 or above.
  • SRB is below 900 in Telangana, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu.
  • Child Marriages: increase in child marriages in Tripura, Manipur and Assam
  • Malnutrition: it has worsened. Stunting has risen in 11 out of 18 states.
  • Stunting: 13 out of 22 states and UTs surveyed, rise in the percentage of stunting in children.
  • Wasted: 12 out of 22 states and UTs surveyed, recorded a rise in the percentage of children under five years who are wasted.
  • Overweight: 20 states and UTs have recorded a rise in the percentage of children under 5 years who are overweight.
  • Sex ratio at birth (SRB) is defined as the number of female births per 1,000 male births. The SRB is a key indicator of a son’s preference vis-à-vis daughters.
  • Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.
  • Wasting is defined as low weight-for-height. It often indicates recent and severe weight loss, although it can also persist for a long time. Wasting in children is associated with a higher risk of death if not treated properly.
  • Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is defined as the ‘number of deaths of children under the age of 1 year per 1000 live births for a given year.
  • Neonatal death is defined as a death during the first 28 days of life, while neonatal mortality rate is defined as the number of neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • Total Fertility Rate: TFR indicates the average number of children expected to be born to a woman during her reproductive span of 15-49 years.
  • The replacement level is the number of children needed to replace the parents, after accounting for fatalities, skewed sex ratio, infant mortality, etc. Population starts falling below this level.
  • Contraceptive Prevalence Rate: CPR is the proportion of women who are currently using, or whose sexual partner is currently using, at least one method of contraception, regardless of the method being used.

Recently, government made PM-POSHAN for providing one hot cooked meal in Government and Government-aided schools.

  • It will replace Mid-day Meal Scheme.
  • It has been launched for an initial period of five years (2021-22 to 2025-26).
  • Coverage: 11.8 crore students enrolled in classes 1 to 8
  • Extended to students studying in pre-primary or Balvatikas running in government and government aided primary schools.
  • Balvatika is the pre-school that was started in government schools last year to include children aged younger than six years in the formal education system.
  • Promotion of Nutritional Gardens in schools.
  • Supplementary Nutrition for children in aspirational districts and those with high prevalence of anaemia.
  • If a state decides to add any component like milk or eggs to the menu, the Centre can bear the additional cost.
  • Tithi Bhojan Concept: community participation programme in which people provide special food to children on special occasions/festivals.
  • Nutrition Expert appointed in each school to ensure that health aspects.
  • Social audit of the scheme has also been mandated for each school in each state

Mid-day Meal Scheme

  • Centrally sponsored scheme
  • launched in 1995.
  • world’s largest school meal programme
  • Objective: attain the goal of universalization of primary education.
  • Provides cooked meals to every child within the age group of six to fourteen.
  • If the Mid-Day Meal is not provided food security allowance is paid by 15th of the succeeding month.

Causes of Hunger in India:

  • Poverty
  • Job instability
  • Food shortage and waste
  • Poor infrastructure
  • Unstable markets
  • Climate change
  • Wars and conflict
  • Nutritional quality
  • Discrimination
  • Government Policy

As per the Asian Development Bank‘s figures:

  • In India, 21.9% of the population lives below the national poverty line in 2011
  • In India, the proportion of the employed population below $1.90 purchasing power parity a day in 2011 is 21.2%
  • For every 1,000 babies born in India in 2017, 39 die before their 5th birthday

2021 Oxfam Report on Hunger

  • 20 million more people have been pushed to extreme levels of food insecurity, reaching a total of 155 million people in 55 countries
  • Since the pandemic began, the number of people living in famine-like conditions has increased sixfold to more than 520,000.
  • 11 people are likely dying every minute from acute hunger linked to three lethal Cs: conflict, COVID-19, and the climate crisis.

As per the Global Hunger Index 2020, India is in 94th position out of 107 countries i.e. Hunger and malnutrition is a serious problem in India.

Initiatives by Government to fight against Hunger in India:

  • National Nutrition Mission (NNM), Poshan Abhiyan
  • National Food Security Mission
  • Zero Hunger Programme
  • Indira Rasoi in Rajasthan 
  • NGOs like Akshaya Patra

Global Initiative Against Poverty and Hunger:

  • The End to Poverty Initiative – by ILO
  • Zero Hunger By World Food Programme –
  • Fight Hunger First – by Welthungerhilfe
  • Zero Hunger Challenge (Save Food) by FAO
  • Feed the future –US government’s Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative.

SDG goal 3 calls for an end to preventable deaths of new-borns and children under 5 years of age and specifies that all countries should aim to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 deaths per 1,000 live births and under-five mortality to at least as low as 25 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2030.

What does UN says’:

  • Employment generation

Practice question for mains:

  1. Hunger and Malnutrition has taken huge toll on India’s demography. State the current status of Hunger in India along with causes of hunger and measures to fight hunger. (250 Words)

2.  Making parties constitutional

UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme:  Political reform| UPSC

Context: As a part of political reform, political parties in India should be made part of the Indian Constitution on the lines of German Constitution to abide by constitutional principles.

Political Party 

  • A political party is a group of people who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government.
  • They agree on some policies and programmes for the society with a view to promote the collective good.
  • Political parties try to persuade people why their policies are better than others.
  • They seek to implement these policies by winning popular support through elections. Thus, parties reflect fundamental political divisions in a society.
  • Parties are about a part of the society and thus involve PARTISANSHIP.
  • Thus a party is known by which part it stands for, which policies it supports and whose interests it upholds.
  • A political party has three components: 1. Leaders 2. Active Members & 3. Followers

Major Functions of Political Parties

  • Contesting Elections
  • Putting forward different policies and programmes for the voters to chose
  • Play important role in formulating laws for the country and respective states
  • Political Parties with majority support from the voters run the government through its Council of Ministers headed by Prime Minister or Chief Ministers.
  • Political parties loosing elections play the constitutional role of the opposition and make the government accountable in sessions of Parliament and State Legislatures.
  • Shape public opinion by forwarding its beliefs and ideologies.
  • Helps the people at ground level to solve their problems and concerns through local cadres of political parties:
  • increases trusts or creates affiliation for citizens towards a particular political party
  • This also helps the political party to increase their voter base

Challenges for Political Parties 

  1. Lack of Inner Party Democracy
  2. Most political parties are family propriety and succession is hereditary based
  3. Growing Muscle and money power in elections
  4. Growing criminalisation of politics

Legal Position of Political Parties in India

  • Power to Register Political Parties – Election Commission has the power under Representation of People Act, 1951 to register political parties – Section 29A
  • Important Highlights – Section 29A(5) – Memorandum of Rules and Association shall contain specific provisions that a political party shall bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, and to the principles of socialism, secularism and democracy, and would uphold the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.
  • Challenges 
  • RPA, 1951 is silent on the role of Election Commission in regulating the internal functioning of political parties to conduct their internal elections and provide criterias to select candidate.
  • Consequently, there is no mechanism to review a party’s practice against the principles enshrined in the Constitution or against the requirements of the ECI’s Guidelines and Application Format for the Registration of Political Parties under Section 29A.

Important Recommendations

  • The 170th Law Commission Report – recommended introducing regulatory framework governing the internal structures and inner democracy of parties, financial transparency, and accountability before attempting state funding of elections.
  • 2nd ARC on Ethics and Governance – highlighting the importance of inner party democracy noted that corruption is caused by over-centralisation since “the more remotely power is exercised from the people, the greater is the distance between authority and accountability.

Way Forward

The Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany (1949) gives constitutional status to political parties. Article 21 of the Basic Law deals with their status, rights, duties and functions. On similar lines, the Article suggests that provisions relating to regulation of political parties must be made part of Indian Constitution.

3.  India, Australia to conclude free trade pact by end 2022: Tehan

UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper III – Indian Economy
Sub Theme:  FTA | UPSC

STAGES OF TRADE INTEGRATION:  Refers to free movement of goods, services, investment and people across the countries.

  1. Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA): Agreement whereby the countries may decide to reduce the customs duty on commonly agreed goods. Example: India- Afghanistan PTA (2003)
  2. Free Trade Agreement (FTA): Bilateral agreement whereby the countries may decide to reduce or eliminate the customs duty on commonly agreed goods. Example: India-ASEAN FTA in Goods
  3. Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)/Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA): These terms describe agreements which consist of an integrated package on goods, services and investment along with other areas including IPR, competition etc. The India Japan CEPA is one such example and it covers a broad range of other areas like trade facilitation and customs cooperation, investment, competition, IPR etc.
  4. Custom Union: In a Customs union, member countries may decide to trade at zero duty among themselves, however they maintain common customs duty against rest of the world. Example: Southern African Customs Union (SACU) – South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, and Swaziland.
  5. Common Market: Customs Union with provisions to facilitate free movements of labour and capital.
  6. Economic Union: Common Market extended through further harmonization of fiscal/monetary policies and shared executive, judicial and legislative institutions among the member countries. European Union (EU) is an example.

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