Ojaank IAS Academy




07 May 2022 – Current Affairs

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47.4 lakh India Covid deaths: WHO


Why You Should Know?

• Northern Ireland came into existence in 1921 when Ireland was partitioned by the Government of Ireland Act, 1920 passed by the British parliament.
• Sectarian tensions between the Protestants and Catholics led to a 30-year period of militant strife, called The Troubles, which began in the late 1960s and continued until the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Sinn Féin, since 1921, never won a decisive vote. This changed on May 7, 2022 as it was declared that Sinn Féin had won 27 seats out of 90 or 29% of the preference vote, while its closest unionist competitor, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), dropped its seat tally to 25. The right-wing DUP haemorrhaged voters that were mostly picked up by its hardline right-wing competitor, the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV). These important shifts have raised concerns in Northern Ireland about the future of its union with the United Kingdom. How did Northern Ireland get to this point in history?

When did the Good Friday Agreement come into existence?

• The Good Friday Agreement came into existence in April 1998. It was constructed in a manner that would be favourable to the rights and political representation of both Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland with the aim to eliminate violence. The Agreement recognised the legitimacy of both republican and loyalist demands and institutionalised a system of devolved government, power-sharing and elections to the unicameral local assembly (called Stormont) using the principle of Single Transferable Vote to ensure proportional representation. Any MLA elected to the Stormont has to declare themselves “unionist”, “nationalist” or “other”. Typically, the largest designations tend to be unionist or nationalist. For instance, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) are unionist parties. Similarly, Sinn Féin and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) are considered nationalists.
• The First Minister and Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland have to be picked. Both have the same powers but are not supposed to be from the same party or same designated camp. This means that no government can be formed in Stormont without the mandatory combination of the two largest parties from across designations.

How did Brexit impact the electoral results in Northern Ireland?

• Britain’s messy divorce from the European Union (EU), better known as Brexit, impacted relations between Northern Ireland and the U.K. In 2019, the U.K. and the EU agreed to the Northern Irish Protocol wherein a trade-and-customs sea border was created between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K. Further, the rationale for the Protocol was that establishing a trade-and-customs border on the island between North and South was a sure way to stoke nationalist ire that could undermine the Good Friday Agreement’s commitment to peace and consociationalism. While the Protocol is popular with nationalists, it proved to be immensely unpopular with unionist parties in Northern Ireland as they felt that the U.K. was pacifying nationalist sentiments. In 2021, violence broke out in Belfast’s Sandy Row loyalist neighbourhood and a loyalist paramilitary group withdrew support to the Good Friday Agreement. In February 2022, Paul Givan from the DUP resigned as First Minister, which meant that the Deputy First Minister from Sinn Féin, Michelle O’Neill, also lost her position.
• In the assembly elections that have recently concluded, it is clear that the Protocol led to shifts in the voting patterns as it became one of the many points of polarisation in Northern Ireland. The parties in favour of the Protocol, like Sinn Féin, improved their vote counts. However, voters were also taking other factors into consideration. Northern Ireland’s working-class voters are facing inflation and a cost-of-living crisis. The National Health Service (NHS) in Northern Ireland is struggling financially and is slow to provide healthcare with many waiting a year for critical medical procedures. A shift in traditional sectarian voting patterns is also rooted in these situations of uncertainty that voters are experiencing.

Will Northern Ireland have a new government?

• As mentioned before, there can be no government in Northern Ireland unless each of the largest nationalist and unionist parties comes on board to form the government. The Sinn Féin cannot form a government unless the unionist DUP, which is the second-largest party in this election, agrees to do so as well. The requirement is for a First Minister from Sinn Féin and the Deputy First Minister from the DUP. The DUP, which has its own internal divisions, is unlikely to support a Sinn Féin-led government in protest against the Northern Irish Protocol. Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader, has said that while he respects the results, his party will not participate in power-sharing until the issues with the Northern Irish Protocol are addressed by Boris Johnson’s government. On the other hand, Sinn Féin has not talked down the possibility of a border poll that would be a precursor to Irish reunification. This has unsettled unionist voters.
• In February 2022, the Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Act 2022 came into force to restore faith in the devolved government process in Northern Ireland. Under this, if a First Minister and a Deputy First Minister have not been appointed after four consecutive, six-week periods of negotiations, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has to propose a date for a new assembly election. It remains to be seen if it will come to this point.

Why Mother’s Day founder Anna Jarvis later hated it


Why You Should Know?

• IN ALL the Mother’s Day WhatsApp forwards and social media posts that you sent or were sent on Sunday, the name Anna Jarvis probably never figured. Jarvis founded Mother’s Day in the US and worked to have it officially recognised – but eventually came to hate its commercialisation, and spent the last of her energies and money to campaign against it.

Memory of her mother

• Jarvis (1864-1948) was an American activist who founded Mother’s Day to honour her mother and “all mothers” in 1908.
• Her mother had spent her life working for causes centred on motherhood, and a young Anna once heard her say that she hoped a mothers’ day would be founded to commemorate mothers'”matchless service”. After Mrs Jarvis died in 1905, Anna wrote to politicians, businessmen, and church leaders to enlist their support, proposing the second Sunday of May be dedicated to celebrating mothers, with a white carnation – her mother’s favourite flower – as its emblem.
• In 1908, two Mother’s Day events were held in the US, and on May 8, 1914President Woodrow Wilson signed into law an Act to recognise Mother’ Day.

Definition, celebration

• There were others before Jarvis – including author and suffragist Julia Ward Howe, who had started a Mothers’ Day (note the placement of the apostrophe) celebration in June 1873. Historians note that Jarvis narrowed the definition of mother’ to one who puts her children’s needs first -in choosing the singular over Howe’s “Mothers’ Day”, she wanted people to honour their own mothers who cared for them at home.
• Jarvis’ version was eagerly taken up by the greeting card industry, the flower industry, etc, and Mother’s Day was heavily commercialised. A report in The New York Times from 1964, said: “According to the National Committee on the Observance of Mother’s Day, Inc., the day has become a gift-giving occasion second only to Christmas.”

Jarvis’ disillusionment

• Jarvis hated it. She threw her energies into arresting this commercialisation through campaigns, litigation, and direct action. She had copyrighted the phrase “Second Sunday in May, Mother’s Day” early on, and sued people for using it for marketing campaigns.
• In a press release, she demanded, “What will you do to rout charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and other termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations?” according to a BBC report.
• She attacked First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt for using Mother’s Day to raise funds for charity, and was arrested in 1925 after crashing a convention of American War Mothers, who sold carnations on Mother’s Day to raise funds.
• In 1948, Jarvis died, almost penniless and alone. According to the BBC, one of her final public activities before being admitted to a sanatorium was “to go door-to-door in Philadelphia asking for signatures to back an appeal for Mother’s Day to be rescinded”.



Why You Should Know?

• HEALTH AUTHORITIES in the United Kingdom have confirmed a case of monkeypox, a rare viral infection similar to smallpox, in an individual who recently travelled to that country from Nigeria.

Monkeypox virus

• The monkeypox virus is an orthopoxvirus, which is a genus of viruses that also includes the variola virus, which causes smallpox, and vaccinia virus, which was used in the smallpox vaccine. Monkeypox causes symptoms similar to smallpox, although they are less severe.
• While vaccination eradicated smallpox worldwide in 1980, monkeypox continues to occur in a swathe of countries in Central and West Africa, and has on occasion showed up elsewhere. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) two distinct clade are identified: the West African clade and the Congo Basin clade, also known as the Central African clade.

Zoonotic disease

• Monkeypox is a zoonosis: It is transmitted from animals to humans. According to the WHO, cases occur close to tropical rainforests inhabited by animals that carry the virus. Monkeypox virus infection has been detected in squirrels, Gambian poached rats, dormice, and some species of monkeys.
• Human-to-human transmission is limited – the longest documented chain of transmission is six generations, the WHO says. “It is important to emphasise that monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is very low,” Dr Colin Brown, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said on Saturday.
• Transmission can be through contact with bodily fluids, lesions on the skin or on internal mucosal surfaces, such as in the mouth or throat, respiratory droplets and contaminated objects, the WHO says.

Symptoms and treatment 

• According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), monkeypox begins with a fever, headache, muscle aches, back ache, and exhaustion. It also causes the lymph nodes to swell, which smallpox does not. The WHO underlines that it is not to be confused with chickenpox, measles, bacterial skin infections, scabies, syphilis and medication-associated allergies.
• The incubation period (from infection to symptoms) for monkeypox is usually 7-14 days but can range from 5-21 days. Usually within a day to 3 days of the onset of fever, the patient develops a rash that begins on the face and spreads to other parts of the body. The skin eruption stage can last between 2 and 4 weeks, during which the lesions harden and become painful, fill up with a clear fluid and then pus, and develop scabs or crusts.
• According to the WHO, the proportion of deaths has varied between 0 and 11%, and been higher among young children.
• There is no safe, proven treatment for monkeypox yet. The WHO recommends supportive treatment depending on the symptoms. Awareness is important for prevention and control of the infection.

Third and final round


Why You Should Know? 

• The complexities of the law governing the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi will once again be under elaborate judicial focus. In what will be the third round of litigation in the dispute between the Union government and the Government of the NCT of Delhi, a Constitution Bench will embark on interpreting a couple of phrases in Article 239AA, which confers a unique status for Delhi. It would indeed seem unnecessary for another Constitution Bench after five judges had rendered an authoritative pronouncement in 2018 on various questions that arose from Article 239AA. However, the Chief Justice of India, Justice N.V. Ramana, has made it clear that the reference to a five-member Bench will be strictly limited to the interpretation of a couple of phrases that were not examined by the earlier Bench, and no other point will be reopened. Broadly, the 2018 verdict, through three concurring opinions, had ruled that Delhi was indeed a Union Territory, but the Lieutenant Governor, as the Administrator appointed by the President, should act as per the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, in areas in which legislative power was conferred on Delhi’s Legislative Assembly. Under Article 239AA, except for police, public order and land, the Delhi Assembly can make law on all other matters in the State and Concurrent Lists ‘insofar as such matter is applicable to Union Territories’. The mandate of the hearing is to declare what this phrase means, and whether it is one more limitation on Delhi’s legislative, and by extension, executive powers.
• The 2018 ruling limited the Lieutenant Governor’s domain by making it clear that not every decision required his concurrence. It had cautioned against the notion of representative democracy being negated, if legitimate decisions of the Council of Ministers were blocked merely because the Lieutenant Governor had a different view. The Lieutenant Governor’s power to refer “any matter” on which he disagreed with the elected regime did not mean he could raise a dispute on “every matter”. It is perhaps because of the underlying message that an unelected administrator should not undermine an elected administration that the Centre badly wanted a fresh reference to another Constitution Bench. It is indeed true that a split verdict by a twojudge Bench on the question whether services’ fell under the Union government’s domain or the NCT government has flagged the absence of a determination in the Constitution Bench verdict on the question whether Entry 41 of the State List (services) is within the NCT’s executive and legislative domain. Entry 41 is not one of the excluded areas of legislation by the Delhi Assembly, but it has been argued that there are no services under the Delhi government and, therefore, it was not a matter applicable to the NCT at all. Settling this remaining question should give a quietus to the endless wrangling between the Modi government at the Centre and the Kejriwal regime in Delhi.

Welfare That Changed Lives


Why You Should Know? 

• A RECENT WORLD Bank Report has shown that extreme poverty in India more than halved between 2011 and 2019 – from 22.5 per cent to 10.2 per cent.
• The reduction was higher in rural areas, from 26.3 per cent to 11.6 percent. The rate of poverty decline between 2015 and 2019 was faster compared to 2011-2015.
• In an earlier article(‘A greater ease of living,’IENovember 20,2019). I had argued that poverty has reduced significantly because of the current government’s thrust on improving the ease of living of ordinary Indians through schemes such as the Ujjwala Yojana, PM Awas Yojana, Swachh Bharat Mission Jan Dhanand Mission Indradhanushin addition to the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission and improved coverage under the National Food Security Act.
• While debates on the World Bank’s methodology continue to rage, it is important to understand how poverty in rural areas was reduced at a faster pace.
• First, the identification of deprived households on the basis of the Socioeconomic and Caste Census (SECC)2011 across welfare programmes helped in creating a constituency for the well-being of the poor, irrespective of caste, creed or religion.
• The much-delayed SECC 2011 data was released in July 2015. This was critical in accomplishing the objectives of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”.
• Since deprivation was the key criterion in identifying beneficiaries, SC and ST communities got higher coverage and the erstwhile backward regions in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Rajasthanand rural Maharashtra got a larger share of the benefits.
• This was a gamechanger in the efforts to ensure balanced development, socially as well as across regions. Social groups that often used to be left out of government programmes were included and gram sabha validation was taken to ensure that the project reached these groups.
• Second, the coverage of women under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana and Self Help Groups (SHG) increased from 2.5 crore in 2014 to over 8 crore in 2018 as a result of more than 75 lakh SHGs working closely with over 31 lakh elected panchayati raj representatives, 40 percent of whom are women. This provided a robust framework to connect with communities and created a social capital that helped every programme. The PRI-SHG partnership catalysed changes that increased the pace of poverty reduction and the use of Aadhaar cleaned up corruption at several levels and ensured that the funds reached those whom it was meant for.
• Third, Finance Commission transfers were made directly to gram panchayats leading to the creation of basic infrastructure like pucca village roads and drains at a much faster pace in rural areas. The high speed of road construction under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadhak Yojana created greater opportunities for employment in nearby largervillages/census towns/kasbas by improving connectivity and enhancing mobility.
• Fourth, the social capital of SHGsensured the availability of credit through banks, micro-finance institutions and MUDRA loans. The NRLM prioritised livelihood diversification and implemented detailed plans for credit disbursement. New businesses, both farm and non-farm livelihoods, were taken up by women’s collectives on a large scale with community resource persons playing crucial handholding roles, especially with respect to skill development. Fifth, in the two phases of the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan in 2018, benefits such as gas and electricity connections, LED bulbs, accident insurance, life insurance, bank accounts and immunisation were provided to 6,3974 villages that were selected because of their high SC and ST populations. The implementation of these schemes was monitored assiduously. The performance of line departments went up manifold due to community-led action. The gains are reflected in the findings of the National Family Health Survey V.2019-2021.
• Sixth, the thrust on universal coverage for individual household latrines, LPG connections and pucca houses for those who lived in kuccha houses ensured that no one was left behind. This created the Labarthi Varg. Seventh, this was also a period in whicha high amount of public funds were transferred to rural areas, including from the share of states and, in some programmes, through extrabudgetary resources.
• Eighth the thrustona people’s plan campaign, “Sabki Yojana Sabka Vikas” for preparing the Gram Panchayat Development Plans and for ranking villages and panchayats on human development, economicactivity and infrastructure, from 2017-18 onwards, laid the foundation for robust community participation involving panchayats and SHGs, especially in ensuring accountability.
• Ninth, through processes like social and concurrent audits, efforts were made to ensure that resources were fully utilised. Several changes were brought about in programmes like the MGNREGS to create durable and productive assets. This helped marginal and small farmers in improving their homesteads, and diversifying livelihoods.
• Tenth, the competition among states to improve performance on rural development helped. Irrespective of the party in power, nearly all states and UTs focussed on improving livelihood diversification in rural areas and on improving infrastructure significantly
• All these factors contributed to improved ease of living of deprived households and improving their asset base. A lot has been achieved, much remains to be done. The pandemic and the negative terms of trade shock from the Ukraine crisis pose challenges to the gains made in poverty reduction up to 2019.

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