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National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

Why in the news?

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) celebrated its 26th foundation day recently.

What is the NHRC?

  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is a Statutory public body constituted on 12 October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of 28 September 1993.
  • It was given a statutory basis by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (TPHRA).The NHRC is the National Human Rights Commission of India, responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights, defined by the Act as “Rights Relating To Life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants”.

 

What is the Composition of the NHRC?

The NHRC consists of:

  • A Chairperson, should be retired [Chief Justice of India]
  • One member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India
  • One member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court
  • Two members to be appointed from among persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights
  • In addition, the Chairpersons of four National Commissions (Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Women and Minorities) serve as ex officio members.

The sitting Judge of the Supreme Court or sitting Chief Justice of any High Court can be appointed only after consultation with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

What are the functions of the NHRC?

  • The Protection of Human Rights Act mandates the NHRC to perform the following functions:
  • proactively or reactively inquire into violations of government of India human rights or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant
  • by leave of the court, to intervene in court proceedings relating to human rights
  • make recommendations about granting relief to the victims and their families.
  • review the safeguards provided by or under the Constitution or any law for the time being in force for the protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation
  • review the factors, including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures
  • to study treaties and other international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation
  • undertake and promote research in the field of human rights
  • engage in human rights education among various sections of society and promote awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights through publications, the media, seminars and other available means
  • encourage the efforts of NGOs and institutions congress to working in the field of human rights.
  • such other functions as it may consider it necessary for the protection of human rights.
  • requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office.

 

Central Information Commission (CIC)

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

Why in the news?

The Central Information Commission held its annual conference recently.

About the CIC

  • The Central Information Commission is a statutory body set up under the Right to Information Act, 2005
  • It has been formed to act upon complaints from those individuals who have not been able to submit information requests to a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer due to either the officer not have been appointed, or because the respective Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer refused to receive an application for information under the RTI Act.
  • The Commission includes 1 Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and not more than 10 Information Commissioners (IC) who are appointed by the President of India. 
  • CIC and members are appointed by the President of India on the recommendation of a committee consisting of—Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha; a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
  • An amendment for the provisions for appointment and salaries of the CIC and ICs is under consideration of the Parliament currently.

 

Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS)

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Issues relating to poverty and hunger

Why in the news?

  • The CNNS, a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, shows a direct correlation between mothers’ education and the well-being of children.

What are the findings?

  • The data recorded show 31% of mothers of children aged up to four years, 42% of women having children aged five to nine and 53% of mothers of adolescents aged 10-19 never attended school. Only 20% of mothers of pre-schoolers, 12% of those of schoolchildren, and 7% of those of adolescents had completed 12 or more years of schooling.
  • Data from the CNNS study show that with higher levels of schooling in a mother, children received better diets. Only 11.4% of children of mothers with no schooling received adequately diverse meals, while 31.8% whose mothers finished Class XII received diverse meals.
  • The study found that 3.9% of children whose mothers had zero schooling got minimum acceptable diets, whereas this was at 9.6% for children whose mothers finished schooling. Moreover, 7.2% of children in the former category consumed iron rich food, whereas this was at 10.3% for children in the latter category.
  • The proportion of children aged two to four consuming dairy products, eggs and other fruits and vegetables the previous day increased with the mothers’ education level and household wealth status. For example, only 49.8% of children in that age group whose mothers did not go to school consumed dairy products, while 80.5% of children of mothers who completed their schooling did so. These trends also show among older children and adolescents — only 25.4% of children in the 5-9 age group with uneducated mothers received eggs, but 45.3% of children whose mothers studied till Class XII had eggs.
  • Levels of stunting, wasting and low weight were higher in children whose mothers received no schooling as opposed to those who studied till Class XII. Stunting among children aged up to four was nearly three times for the former category (19.3% versus 5.9%), and the number of underweight children was nearly double among them (14.8% versus 5.1%) as compared to the latter category. Also, 5.7% of the children were wasted in the former category, while this was at 4.3% in the latter category.
  • Anaemia saw a much higher prevalence of 44.1% among children up to four years old with mothers who never went to school, versus 34.6% among those who completed their schooling.
  • A higher level of education among mothers meant that their children received meals less frequently, perhaps because their chances of being employed and travelling long distances to work went up — 50.4% of children in the age group of 6-23 months born to illiterate mothers versus 36.2% among those who had finished schooling.
  • Such children were also at higher risk of diabetes and high cholesterol as relative prosperity could lead to higher consumption of sugary drinks and foods high in cholesterol. Children in the age group of 10-19 showed a higher prevalence of pre-diabetes if their mother had finished schooling (15.1% versus 9.6%). The prevalence of high cholesterol levels was at 6.2% in these children as opposed to 4.8% among those whose mothers never attended school.

 

BRICS

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Why in the news?

BRICS Culture Ministers’ meeting was held in Curitiba, Brazil

What are the BRICS countries?

  • BRICS is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Originally the first four were grouped as “BRIC” (or “the BRICs”), before the induction of South Africa in 2010.
  • Together, BRICS accounts for about 40% of the world’s population and about 30% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
  • The BRICS seeks to deepen, broaden and intensify cooperation within the grouping and among the individual countries for more sustainable, equitable and mutually beneficial development.
  • BRICS takes into consideration each member’s growth, development and poverty objectives to ensure relations are built on the respective country’s economic strengths and to avoid competition where possible.
  • An annual summit is held and the Chairmanship of the BRICS is rotated among the countries.
  • The New Development Bank (NDB) was setup by the BRICS countries in pursuit of the Fortaleza Declaration in 2014 to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies, as well as in developing countries.
  • A Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA) was setup to provide short-term liquidity support to the members through currency swaps to help mitigating BOP crisis situation and further strengthen financial stability.
  • BRICS countries are cooperating in economic and cultural areas.

Nepal – China

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations

Why in the news?

  • China and Nepal on Sunday concluded agreements for all-weather connectivity between Kathmandu and the Tibet Autonomous Region.
  • Both sides resolved to begin feasibility studies for the construction of the tunnels along the road from Keyrung in Tibet to Kathmandu, said a joint statement issued at the end of the visit. The joint statement declared that both sides will intensify cooperation to realise “trans-Himalayan multidimensional connectivity network”. The tunnel network will connect Tokha and Chhahare within Nepal that will ultimately reduce the road distance between Nepal and China.
  • Both sides also gave the green signal for a feasibility study of the trans-Himalayan rail connectivity aimed at connecting the Nepal capital with major commercial centres of the Tibetan Autonomous Region and beyond in China.

What are its implications for India?

  • Although Nepal and India have an open border and free mobility of populace across borders; it is China that is increasingly working to take over India’s position of the largest trading partner of Nepal.
  • Nepal conducts a large part of its trade through India and as such is dependent upon India for a route for imports and exports. The Nepal China link will provide an alternative to Nepal from India. It can also serve as a bargaining chip in future negotiations with India.
  • The border blockade during the Madhesi uprising by India had led to cooling of relations between India and Nepal allowing China to further move closer to Nepal.

 

Nepal forms a buffer state between two large powers and as such has to create a balancing act. It is in India’s interest to ensure that it does not act like a Big Brother in its immediate neighbourhood and honour the principles in the Gujral Doctrine.

Plastic Pollution

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic:  Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Why in the news?

  • The pristine beaches of the Great Nicobar Island, India’s southernmost territory, are under threat from plastic. A survey of five beaches in the islands recorded the presence of plastic bottles.
  • Sixty of these were analysed and found to be of ‘non-Indian origin,’ according to researchers, whose findings appear in the latest edition of Current Science. Major portion of the litter (40.5%) was of Malaysian origin. It was followed by Indonesia (23.9%) and Thailand (16.3%). Other countries contributed a minor portion
  • About 10 countries including India contributed to the plastic litter on the island. They were Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, India, Myanmar, China and Japan.
  • Only 2.2% of the marine litter was from India.
  • The overwhelming contribution from Indonesia and Thailand was likely due to its proximity to the island; the plastic is likely to have made its way to the island because of water currents via the Malacca Strait, which is a major shipping route.

 

Prelims Specific

  • Joint Military Exercise DHARMA GUARDIAN-219 between India and Japan will be conducted at counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School, Vairengte from 19 Oct 2019 to 02 Nov 2019. Indian Army and Japanese Ground Self Defence Forces (JGSDF) comprising 25 soldiers each will participate in the exercise with an aim to share experience gained during various Counter Terrorism Operations in respective Countries.