UPSC Essentials: Weekly news express — Gender gap to WPP with MCQs – The Indian Express

The Indian Express’ UPSC weekly news express covers some of the most important topics of current affairs news from this week to help you prepare for UPSC-CSE. Try out the MCQs and check your answers provided towards the end of the article.
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme and Mission Shakti
Preliminary Examination: Economic and Social Development-Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
Mains Examination: General Studies II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Why in news?
— Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, will now be extended across the country, according to guidelines issued by the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry.
Key takeaways
— the Centre’s flagship programme for women’s empowerment, which focuses on education of girl child and improving sex ratio
— The programme is operational in 405 districts at present
— In December, the committee on empowerment of women, chaired by BJP MP from Maharashtra, Dr Heena Vijaykumar Gavit, tabled in Lok Sabha its fifth report on “Empowerment of women through education with special reference to ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ scheme’’.
— It stated that nearly 80 per cent funds for the BBBP scheme has been used for advertising, and not on sectoral interventions such as women’s health and education.
— The committee had said that the scheme’s performance in states has not been “up to the mark’’ and expressed “dismay” at under-utilisation of funds.
— The ministry published comprehensive guidelines for Mission Shakti — the guidelines are applicable from April.
— ‘Mission Shakti’ was launched during the 15th Finance Commission period 2021-22 to 2025-26.
— Mission Shakti is an integrated women empowerment programme is launched as an umbrella scheme for the safety, security and empowerment of women for implementation.
Mission Shakti’s components are:
— Sambal: It is for Safety and Security of Women. It comprises of schemes of One Stop Centre (OSC), Women Helpline (WHL), Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP), with a new component of Nari Adalats.
— Samarthya: It is for Empowerment of Women. It comprises of erstwhile schemes of Ujjwala, Swadhar Greh and Working Women Hostel have been included with modifications.
— Also, National Creche Scheme for children of working mothers and Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) under umbrella Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) have now been included in Samarthya.
— Gap Funding for Economic Empowerment, a new component is also a part of the Samarthya Scheme.
— According to the guidelines, the ministry has now targeted:
1) improvement in the Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) by 2 points every year
2) improvement in the percentage of institutional deliveries at 95 per cent or above
3) 1 per cent increase in 1st Trimester ANC Registration per year
4) 1 per cent increase in enrolment at secondary education level and skilling of girls and women per year, to check dropout rate among girls at secondary and higher secondary levels and raising awareness about safe menstrual hygiene management.
— The scheme will also look at increasing girls’ participation in sports by identifying talent and linking them with appropriate authorities under ‘Khelo India’.
— The ministry also plans to strengthen One-Stop Centres (OSCs), set up to help women facing violence, including domestic violence and trafficking, by adding 300 OSCs in districts which either have a high rate of crimes against women or are geographically large, preferably in aspirational districts.
— The toll-free, 24-hour women’s helpline, 181, will be merged with the Emergency Response Support System, and other platforms such as 1098 child line and NALSA, will also be connected to OSCs.
— The ministry has further introduced a new component — Nari Adalat — for providing women with an alternate grievance redress mechanism to resolve cases of petty nature (harassment, subversion, curtailment of rights or entitlements) at gram panchayat-level, which will be implemented in a phased manner.
Point to ponder: What have been some major initiatives by the government of India in the direction of empowerment of women through education?
1. Which of the following statements is not true with respect to Mission Shakti of the Government of India?
a) ‘Mission Shakti’ was launched during the 15th Finance Commission period 2021-22 to 2025-26.
b) Nari Adalat is a new component under Mission Shakti at the gram panchayat level, which will be implemented in a phased manner.
c) A new component of Gap Funding for Economic Empowerment has been added in the Samarthya Scheme of Mission Shakti.
d) Mission Shakti is one of the components of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme of the GOI.
Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.
Mains Examination: General Studies II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Why in news?
—The first virtual I2U2 summit was attended by US President Joe Biden, Israel Prime Minister Yair Lapid, UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Key takeaways
—I2U2 is the new grouping formed by four nations- India, Israel, UAE, and the US. It was given the name International Forum for Economic Cooperation. It was also referred to as the ‘West Asian Quad’ by Ahmed Albanna, Ambassador of the UAE to India.
—Six areas of cooperation have been identified by the countries mutually, and the aim is to encourage joint investments in water, energy, transportation, space, health, and food security.
—It intends to mobilise private sector capital and expertise to help modernise infrastructure, low carbon development pathways for industries, improve public health, and promote development of critical emerging and green technologies.
—In its first leaders’ summit on Thursday, the grouping unveiled initiatives focused on food security and clean energy, including a $2-billion programme to develop food parks across India and a hybrid renewable energy project in Gujarat.
Note: The Abraham Accords of 2020 had led to Israel formally normalising diplomatic ties with the UAE, Morocco and Bahrain, marking an important shift in the stance of West Asian countries on Israel. This accord took shape due to the efforts of US. It led to an entirely new grouping of partners including Israel, India, UAE and the United States — what we call I2U2.
Point to ponder: India’s new West Asia approach is a welcome break with past diffidence. Comment.
2. Consider the following statements and select the correct option
1. I2U2 was initially given the name of the International Forum for Economic Cooperation.
2. Abraham Accord, which led to the formation of I2U2 was signed between Israel and other members of I2U2.
a) Both 1 and 2                  b) only 1
c) only 2                              d) neither 1 or 2
Global Gender Gap Index
Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.
Mains Examination: General Studies II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
Why in news?
—The Global Gender Gap Index for 2022 was released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and it ranks India at 135 out of 146 countries. In 2021, India was ranked 140 out of 156 countries.
Key takeaways
—The gender gap is the difference between women and men as reflected in social, political, intellectual, cultural, or economic attainments or attitudes.
—The Global Gender Gap Index aims to measure this gap in four key areas: health, education, economics and politics.
—India has approximately 662 million (or 66.2 crore) women and in 2022, its overall score improved slightly from 2021.
—Iceland is ranked 1.
—India stands on different indices:
1. Political Empowerment- 48/146- India’s score on this metric has worsened since last year – from 0.276 to 0.267. The silver lining is that despite the reduction, India’s score is above the global average in this category.
2. Economic Participation and Opportunity- 143/ 146- India’s score is much lower than the global average, and only Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan are behind India on this metric.
3. Educational Attainment- 107/146- Here India ranks 107th out of 146, and its score has marginally worsened since last year. In 2021, India was ranked 114 out of 156.
4. Health and Survival-146/146- Its score hasn’t changed from 2021 when it was ranked 155th out of 156 countries.
Point to ponder: Lower women’s participation in the STEM field need to be addressed for closing the Gender gap.
3. Consider the following statements with respect to Gender Gap Index and select the right option.
1. In 2022, India’s score in Gender Gap Index is its seventh highest score till date.
2. India scored better in political empowerment than in educational attainment in the Gender Gap Index.
3. India scores the least in the Economic participation category of Gender Gap Index.
a) 1, 2 and 3                   b) 1 and 3
c) 1 and 2                        d) only 2
When parties claim same symbol
Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.
Mains Examination: General Studies II: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
Why in news?
—Recently the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena approached the Election Commission of India, requesting it to hear its side before deciding claims to the party’s bow-arrow symbol.
—The Shiv Sena has lost a large number of members in the Eknath Shinde-led rebellion that eventually caused the fall of the Thackeray-led government in Maharashtra.
Key takeaways
—Under Paragraph 15 of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, Election Commission can decide disputes among rival groups or sections of a recognised political party staking claim to its name and symbol. The Election commission is the only authority to decide issues on a dispute or a merger under the order. The Supreme Court (SC) upheld its validity in Sadiq Ali and another vs. ECI in 1971.
—On the question of a split in a political party outside the legislature, Para 15 of the Symbols Order, 1968, states: “When the [Election] Commission is satisfied… that there are rival sections or groups of a recognised political party each of whom claims to be that party the Commission may, after taking into account all the available facts and circumstances of the case and hearing [their] representatives… and other persons as desire to be heard decide that one such rival section or group or none of such rival sections or groups is that recognised political party and the decision of the Commission shall be binding on all such rival sections or groups.”
—This applies to disputes in recognised national and state parties. For splits in registered but unrecognised parties, the EC usually advises the warring factions to resolve their differences internally or to approach the court.
—Before 1968, the EC issued notifications and executive orders under the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. The most high-profile split of a party before 1968 was that of the Communist Party of India in 1964.
—A breakaway group approached the EC in December 1964, urging it to recognise it as CPI(Marxist). They provided a list of MPs and MLAs of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and West Bengal who supported them.
—The ECI recognised the faction as CPI(M) after it found that the votes secured by the MPs and MLAs supporting the breakaway group added up to more than 4% in the 3 states.
—In dealing with the cases of splits in the Indian National Congress and Janata Dal Election Commission applied different approach . The disputes led to the creation of Himachal Vikas Congress, Manipur State Congress Party, West Bengal Trinamool Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Biju Janata Dal, etc.
—The EC then did not recognise the new parties as either state or national parties. It felt that merely having MPs and MLAs is not enough, as the elected representatives had fought and won polls on tickets of their parent (undivided) parties.
—The EC introduced a new rule under which the splinter group of the party — other than the group that got the party symbol — had to register itself as a separate party, and could lay claim to national or state party status only on the basis of its performance in state or central elections after registration.
Point to ponder: How did the Election Commission of India deal matters of political symbols before the Symbols Order came into effect?
4. Consider the following statements and select the correct option
1) The Election commission is the only authority to decide issues on a dispute or a merger under the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.
2) A recognised political party is a party recognised by the ‘Election Commission’ with all the privileges and facilities.
a) Only 1                           b) only 2
c) both 1 and 2                d) neither 1 or 2
Why the euro has fallen to $1, what it means for the rupee
Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.
Mains Examination: General Studies III: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
Why in news?
— On Tuesday, the euro achieved parity with the US dollar. In other words, in terms of the exchange rate, one euro became equal to one US dollar. This is only the second time since 2002 that the euro has fallen this low to a dollar (see chart below). The weakening in the euro against the dollar shows that investors are pulling out money from the Eurozone and into the US.
—Broadly speaking, the euro has been becoming weak against the dollar since the start of 2008. However, since the start of 2021, the decline has been sharp. The latest blow to the exchange rate has come from the energy crisis in the wake of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
—On the economic front, the Covid-19 pandemic and the fiscal response to counter it had left the eurozone with a weak economy facing historically high inflation.
—The dollar remains the safest bet for global investors and news outside the US economy is worse than it is in the US. The weakness in the euro against the dollar should also be seen as part of the larger story where the US dollar is gaining against all currencies of the world — be it the euro, or the Japanese yen or the Indian rupee.
—In fact, the Indian rupee, despite its continued weakness, has shown more resilience against the dollar than most other currencies. A case in point is the fact that the rupee has sharply appreciated against the euro since the start of 2022. It was close to 90 at the start and is now close to 80 to a euro.
—At the moment, the rupee has appreciated considerably and as such, Indians holidaying in Europe will find it cheaper to travel. However, Anindya Banerjee, VP, Currency Derivatives & Interest Rate Derivatives at Kotak Securities Ltd cautions that “if the euro continues to stay weak and trend below parity, it will also take the rupee down with it”.
—In other words, if the euro continues to weaken, the rupee, which is already just a whisker away from 80 to a dollar, will further weaken against the dollar. That’s because the euro has immense trade linkages with India and similar emerging economies.
Point to ponder: Why is the dollar appreciating even when the US is facing recession?
5. Consider the following statements and select the correct option
Assertion (A): If the euro continues to weaken, the rupee, will further weaken against the dollar.
Reason (R): Euro has immense trade linkages with India and similar emerging economies.
a) Both are correct and R is the correct reason for A
b) A is correct but R is incorrect
c) A and R are both correct but R is not the reason for A
d) A and R are both incorrect
World Population Prospects 2022
Preliminary Examination: Economic and Social Development
Mains Examination: General Studies I: Population and associated issues
Why in news?
—According to the 2022 edition of the United Nations’ World Population Prospects (WPP), released recently, India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country in 2023. It also projected the world’s population to reach 8 billion on November 15, 2022.
—The Population Division of the UN has been publishing the WPP in a biennial cycle since 1951.
—It does so by taking into account newly released national data to revise estimates of past trends in fertility, mortality or international migration.
Key takeaways
1. The world’s population continues to grow, but the pace of growth is slowing down.
2. Rates of population growth vary significantly across countries and regions.
3. The report says more than half the projected increase in population up to 2050 will be concentrated in just eight countries: Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania.
4. The population of older persons is increasing both in numbers and as a share of the total.
5. A sustained drop in fertility has led to an increased concentration of the population at working ages.
6. International migration is having important impact on population trends for some countries
How do the UN projection compare with India’s Census?
—In India, the Registrar General comes out with a population projection based on the Census. The last such projection was released in 2019 and it was based on Census 2011.
—According to K S James, Director & Senior Professor of the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), “The Census projection is slightly lower than the UN projection.”
—As such, he said, if not in 2023 then in another few years India would overtake China as the world’s most populous country.
What is the significance of India overtaking China?
—That India would overtake China has been known for a while.
—Those concerns no longer exist because the global population is already 8 billion and several countries (including India) have achieved a replacement rate of fertility.
—The concern now is not about the quality of life for the people alive.
—The focus now has shifted to whether we can reduce poverty, provide healthcare facilities, education etc.
What should be done?
—A population of more than 1.4 billion will require the unflinching focus of policymakers on areas fundamental to human well-being — education, nutrition, healthcare, housing, and employment.
—India’s data show that cohorts of 0-14 years and 15-24 years will continue to decline.
—Cohorts of 25-64 and 65+ will continue to rise for the coming decades.
—Skilling is the only way to ensure that people belonging to 25-64 years age group are more productive and have better incomes.
—The 65+ category is going to grow quite fast and it faces several challenges. Provisioning of social security is the biggest challenge. Also, “If we go back to our roots and stick around as families, as against the western tendency to go for individualism, then the challenges would be less.”
—Governments in India — except for a brief lapse into forced sterilisation during the Emergency — have, in contrast, deployed persuasion and education as tools.
—Policymakers have acknowledged the need to give women a greater say in fertility-related decisions.
—Much more needs to be done on this, of course, in large parts of the country, including in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, whose TFR is higher than the national average and where gender discrimination has deep social roots.
—If India’s estimated 700 million women are forced to remain on the sidelines, the country loses out on ideas and perspectives that are critical for addressing its several social and economic challenges — including those related to population — as well as harnessing new opportunities.
—This should be amongst the first concerns in the wake of the UN report.
Point to ponder: The UN projections say that by 2050, India’s population will reach 1,668 million, far exceeding China’s declining population at 1,317 million. What will be its implications?
6. Which of the following statements is incorrect with respect to World Population Prospects 2022?
a)India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country in 2023.
b)International migration is having an important impact on population trends for some countries.
c) The population of older persons is increasing both in numbers and as a share of the total population.
d) The pace of growth of the world’s population is increasing.
No cloudburst in Amarnath: MeT
Preliminary Examination: Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
Mains Examination: General Studies I: Important Geophysical phenomena 
Why in news?
—Sudden, “highly-localised rains” in Amarnath, Jammu and Kashmir, on Friday evening (July 8) caused flooding and led to the deaths of at least 16 people and injuries to more than 20 others. Those who died were at a camp near the cave, a site of pilgrimage.
—Many politicians tweeted out messages of condolence and mentioned cloudburst-induced floods, as was earlier stated by officials. However, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) later said on July 9 that a cloudburst may not have actually occurred.
Key takeaways
—A cloudburst refers to an extreme amount of rain that happens in a short period, sometimes accompanied by hail and thunder, and this has a precise definition. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) defines it as unexpected precipitation exceeding 100mm (or 10 cm) per hour over a geographical region of approximately 20 to 30 square km. Significant amounts of rainfall such as this can result in floods.
—Basically, all instances of cloudbursts involve heavy rain in a short period, but all instances of heavy rain in a short period are not cloudbursts if they do not fit this criterion.
—According to weather scientists, the shrine reported 31 mm of rainfall between 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm on Friday, which does not fit the definition. “The flash floods could have been triggered due to rainfall in the higher reaches of the mountains near the Amarnath cave shrine,” IMD Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra told PTI.
—Experts have said it is difficult to predict when exactly a cloudburst will occur, and there is little definitive data on the exact number of cloudbursts that occur in India. Due to their definition dealing with a very small area, it is difficult to accurately predict and identify cloudbursts immediately. However, they are more likely to occur in mountainous zones mainly because of terrain and elevation.
—This is because, in hilly areas, sometimes saturated clouds ready to condense into rain cannot produce rain, due to the upward movement of the very warm current of air. Instead of falling downwards, raindrops are carried upwards by the air current. New drops are formed and existing raindrops increase in size. After a point, the raindrops become too heavy for the cloud to hold on to, and they drop down together in a quick flash.
—A study published in 2020 examined the meteorological factors behind the cloudburst over the Kedarnath region, where a cloudburst aided the devastating 2013 floods. It found that during a cloudburst, the relative humidity and cloud cover was at the maximum level with low temperature and slow winds. “It is expected that because of this situation a high amount of clouds may get condensed at a very rapid rate and result in a cloudburst,” wrote the team.
—Last year, a cloudburst occurred in the Amarnath region around the same time. However, as the Amarnath yatra had been previously closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it did not lead to loss of life there.
Point to ponder: Why do cloudbursts frequently occur in hilly areas?
7. Select the incorrect statements regarding cloudbursts
a) All instances of heavy rain in a short period are called cloudbursts .
b) It is difficult to accurately predict and identify cloudbursts immediately.
c) They are more likely to occur in mountainous zones mainly because of terrain and elevation.
d) It as unexpected precipitation exceeding 100mm (or 10 cm) per hour over a geographical region of approximately 20 to 30 square km.
Answers to MCQs- 1 (d) , 2 (b) , 3 (c) , 4 (c) , 5 (a) , 6 (d) , 7 (a)
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