Urban Space for Women
GS Paper I
Context: Cities house more than half of the world’s population, making them vital to socioeconomic growth and development. However, rapid urbanisation has resulted in uneven resource allocation and a lopsided development model that ignores the special needs of women. Despite forecasts that two-thirds of the world’s population would live in cities by 2050, urban development continues to exclude women’s opinions and demands.
Gender inequality in cities:
One of the key causes for gender imbalance in cities is that modern cities are designed mostly by males and for men, ignoring the needs of women.
Designed with the assumption that women’s roles are limited to the home: Cities have typically been planned with the assumption that a woman’s duty is mostly restricted to the family, with the exception of the requirement to access the nearby neighbourhood.
The patriarchal attitude has eroded fundamental rights: While shaping the power relations between men and women, this patriarchal attitude has also taken away women’s fundamental right to live and prosper in a safe and inclusive outdoor environment.
Role of women and the challenges they face in urban spaces:
Women are one of society’s most vulnerable groups: Women, as one of society’s most vulnerable groups, experience physical and cyber assault, making it harder for them to take advantage of the benefits that come with urbanisation.
As an example: Women are unable to fully participate in the labour field due to inadequately lighted streets and a lack of women-friendly transportation networks. In India, women make up only 27% of the workforce, while males make up 79 percent.
Male-dominated nature of accessible work options in cities: The majority of them are male-dominated, such as platform economy positions of delivery agents and those at large building sites, leaving little room for women to intervene.
Women professionals are plagued with dual work responsibilities: As the number of homes in cities increases, women are dedicating more of their time to home and care tasks, leaving less time for them to work. Women professionals are burdened with multiple job obligations in this environment, affecting their physical and emotional well-being.
Dropouts who are discouraged: Furthermore, the societal practise of discouraging urban women from working after marriage has resulted in a trend of “discouraged drop-outs,” who are no longer in the labour force.
Women’s involvement in urban planning and governance is dismal: Women’s engagement in urban planning and governance is dismal. Women hold barely 10% of the highest positions in design and urban planning agencies worldwide. Because women are excluded from municipal planning organisations, city planners neglect the demands and issues that women experience.
Do you know: The concept of a 15-minute city?
The notion of a 15-minute metropolis, in which everything required is within a 15-minute walk, is drawing the attention of planners even in India.
However, in a few cases, such as Magarpatta, a city in Pune, the notion has not progressed beyond hyperbole.
Focus areas of development:
Intervention by city society is required: Civil society and politicians may assist construct gender-responsive cities that address the interests of all people by intervening on particular criteria.
Making cities safer: Better street lighting, gender-friendly transportation systems, and behavioural change programmes that assist people understand that the responsibility for safety does not fall just on women but on society as a whole would undoubtedly increase women’s access to safer cities.
Building technology systems, for example, such as the Safetipin app, assist women in mapping safe places and taking essential steps in situations by compiling a list of vital contacts, GPS tracking, and so on, therefore attempting to make streets safer.
Changing society’s attitude and mindset: Counseling sessions for males, sensitising them to how women feel when a specific social behaviour is practised, might eventually induce a shift in their thinking towards women’s demands.
Creating gender-inclusive jobs: According to data, a 10% increase in women’s labour participation may add US$ 770 million, or around 18%, to India’s GDP. Teaching males to take up family obligations, making workplaces more gender-friendly, pushing women to leadership roles, and broadening career opportunities can all help to improve the situation.
Women’s role in urban governance: Having women at the top can have a domino effect in society, making other women aspire to the positions and impact they can have.
Cities with female leadership, such as Athena, Bogota, Nairobi, Dakar, and San Francisco, have had stronger socioeconomic and sustainability growth.
Creating gender-responsive infrastructure: One in every three women worldwide does not have access to safe restrooms. Building women’s restrooms, breastfeeding areas, and baby changing stations increases the number of women on the streets. Improving access to clean water can also benefit women’s general health internationally.
A paradigm change in policymaking techniques is required: Including more women in decision-making roles to identify common problems and construct integrated solutions would necessitate a paradigm shift in policymaking approaches. This necessitates a strategy that prioritises optimal resource allocation and equitable distribution while assuring accessible, safe, and inexpensive access for all.
Feminist policymaking: Policymakers must take a feminist perspective to urban development.
Feminist urbanism attempts to comprehend and integrate the problems of women and other gender and sexual minorities, regardless of caste, class, age disparities, impairments, and so on.
Creating cities along the lines of feminist urbanism: Creating a city along the lines of feminist urbanism include developing compact and mixed-use neighbourhoods, inclusive streets that prioritise pedestrian needs, and other key urban infrastructure.
Creating worldwide alliances to support gender mainstreaming in urban environments might be beneficial. With the G20 presidency, India has an opportunity to further this cause. The Urban 20 grouping can bring together urban officials from the -20 nations to discuss women’s rights and promote gender-inclusive development strategies to assist cities in holistically achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Source – The Hindu
Budget and the Rural Economy
GS Paper III
Context: Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Finance Minister, presented the Union Budget 2023-24. Union finances may be broken down into two categories. The first is as a routine audit of the government’s revenues and expenditures. This second part gives insight into the government’s appraisal of the economy’s difficulties and potential solutions.
First aspect: standard accounting exercise of the government’s revenues and expenditures:
Projections are less reliable: This has ceased to be a valid metric over the years, with governments failing to spend what is indicated in the budget. While the practise of entering off-budget is no longer significant, revenue estimates are far less trustworthy.
Create a complete budget: However, the budget remains significant as the government’s most important, and maybe the only, complete economic statement.
Second aspect: Government’s assessment of the economic challenges and ways to overcome:
It is premature to assume that the economy has fully recovered because the fog of the epidemic has lifted and the attendant supply constraints have lessened.
The average per capita income is low: Real per capita earnings in 2021-22 are still lower than in 2018-19, and total growth between 2016-17 and 2021-22 is at its lowest level of 3.7% in any five-year period in the recent four decades.
The pandemic effect:
Economic slowdown: The fact that the economy was declining prior to the epidemic shows that Covid simply aggravated an already precarious economic situation.
Efforts to combat the pandemic: The structural causes that caused the downturn continue, since the government’s efforts in the previous three years have been focused on managing the epidemic.
The most significant of them is the fall in demand, both for consumption and investment. Private spending accounts for about 60% of the GDP, and this growth engine has stalled.
The situation is considerably worse in rural regions, where salaries have been stagnant for almost a decade. In the previous five years, farmers’ incomes have either fallen or remained stagnant.
Critique: Budget and the rural economy:
Withdrawal of spending: Almost every expenditure line that was important for rural economic recovery has been eliminated. With increasing inflation and the removal of the safety net of free foodgrains, rural communities are set to confront an uncertain future.
The agricultural budget is smaller than last year’s allocation: in real terms, the budget has decreased by 10% at a time when the agricultural industry is experiencing its greatest crisis. With the removal of the fertiliser subsidy, the rise in input prices for both energy and fertilisers is anticipated to worsen.
Cash transfer allocation has declined: Even the nominal cash transfer supplied as part of the PM-Kisan has suffered a decrease in distribution. However, this budget is no different from the previous five years.
Agriculture investment has decreased: Between 2016-17 and 2020-21, the most recent year for which data is available, public investment in agriculture fell by 0.6% each year. This is a time when the agrarian economy is experiencing its biggest profitability crisis.
Government cuts for the non-farm sector: The non-farm sector’s contribution to the rural economy has increased, yet budget allocations have decreased.
For example, the Ministry of Rural Development’s budget is 13% lower than the revised spending from previous year. The funding for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) has been reduced in the revised projections for 2022-23. This is the smallest amount granted in the previous five years in comparison to actual programme spending.
The only plan that has witnessed a boost in allocation is the rural housing scheme, which has gone from an actual outlay of Rs 48,422 crore in 2022-23 to Rs 54,487 crore.
Supply-side interventions in demand constrained economy:
Preference for supply-side interventions: The government’s preference for supply-side initiatives even in a demand-constrained economy with excess capacity. This knowledge is reflected in a nearly one-third increase in investment allocation. The majority of investment is for trains and roads, providing a much-needed boost to the infrastructure industry.
The private sector must accompany: However, given the limited percentage of public investment, it is unlikely to be adequate unless supplemented by increased private sector investment. Unfortunately, the private sector has not responded to growing public investment or tax breaks provided in 2019.
Given the low employment elasticity of these investments, the overall impact on employment and domestic demand will be insignificant. In any case, the increased investment is beneficial.
The issue with this budget is not one of accounting, but of economic policy. This was the final complete budget in which the government could take significant moves to revitalise the economy. This necessitated prioritising resources for recovering consumption demand, stimulating private investment, and shielding people from the dangers of rising inflation and a weakening economy.
Source – The Hindu
Turkey hit by series of powerful Earthquakes: The science behind it
GS Paper III
Context: A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck south-central Turkey and northwest Syria, killing around 4000 people and injuring hundreds more.
What is an Earthquake?
An earthquake is a powerful ground tremor induced by movement under the earth’s surface.
It occurs when two earth blocks unexpectedly slip past one another.
This releases accumulated ‘elastic strain’ energy in the form of seismic waves, which propagate through the earth and produce ground shaking.
What exactly causes Earthquakes?
As we all know, the crust of the Earth is divided into tectonic plates.
Plate borders, which are made up of faults, are the edges of the plates.
The tectonic plates are always moving at a sluggish speed, slipping past and colliding with one another.
Because the plates’ edges are so rough, they become stuck together as the remainder of the plate moves.
When the plate has shifted far enough and the margins of one of the faults become unstick, an earthquake occurs.
The hypocenter is the point under the earth’s surface where the earthquake begins, while the epicentre is the position directly above it on the earth’s surface.
How prone is Turkey to Earthquakes?
Turkey and Syria are located in a seismically active area.
The earthquake occurred along a well-known seismic fault line known as the Anatolia tectonic block, which spans through northern, central, and eastern Turkey.
It is a seismically active zone, but not as active as, instance, the Himalayan region, which is one of the most deadly earthquake-prone areas in the world.
What makes Turkey a hotbed of seismic activity?
Earthquakes occur often in Turkey. It detected around 33,000 earthquakes in the region in 2020.
Turkey is on the Anatolian tectonic plate, which is sandwiched between the Eurasian and African plates.
The small Arabian plate on the north side further hinders mobility.
One fault line — the North Anatolian fault (NAF) line, the meeting point of the Eurasian and Anatolian tectonic plates — is believed to be “especially deadly”.
Then there’s the East Anatolian fault line, which serves as the tectonic divide between the Anatolian Plate and the northward-moving Arabian Plate.
It stretches across 650 kilometres from eastern Turkey to the Mediterranean.
Furthermore, the Aegean Sea Plate, which lies in the eastern Mediterranean Sea under southern Greece and western Turkey, is a source of seismic activity in the region.
Where was the earthquake epicentered?
The epicentre of the earthquake was roughly 33 kilometres from Gaziantep and about 18 kilometres deep.
Its impact was felt throughout West Asia, Northern Africa, and South Eastern Europe, with individuals in Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Egypt experiencing vibrations as well.
Can earthquakes be predicted?
An accurate earthquake prediction requires some kind of precursory signal from within the ground indicating that a large quake is on its way.
Furthermore, the signal must come just before significant earthquakes to avoid indicating any minor movement on the earth’s surface.
Even if such precursors exist, there is currently no technology to discover them.
India offers assistance:
India is one of 45 nations that have given Turkey aid so far.
It is deploying search and rescue teams from the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) as well as medical personnel and relief supplies to the West Asian country.
Source – The Hindu
India, UAE & France Trilateral Cooperation Initiative
GS Paper II
Context: India has joined the UAE and France in a trilateral cooperation initiative in areas such as energy, defence, and economics.
The trilateral was initially discussed on the margins of the UN General Assembly in September 2022 in New York.
The initiative will focus on:
Nuclear and solar power
Climate change and biodiversity
Countering infectious diseases
Agenda of Trilateral Cooperation:
It will act as a platform to encourage the design and implementation of energy cooperation projects, with an emphasis on solar and nuclear energy.
The effort will also aid in the battle against climate change and biodiversity conservation, notably in the Indian Ocean region.
The three parties wanted to work together in the field of circular economy under the auspices of India’s Mission LiFE.
They decided to broaden their collaboration through projects such as the UAE-led Mangrove Alliance for Climate and India-led Indo-Pacific Parks Partnership.
The countries have pledged to work together on defence preparations and infectious disease control.
It aims to increase collaboration among international institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi-the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund, and Unitaid.
They will work together to execute the One Health model and to help poor nations establish local skills in biomedical innovation and production.
Global initiatives launched by India for Clean Energy:
It aspires to mobilise at least one billion Indians and other global people to take individual and communal action for environmental conservation between 2022 and 2028. NITI Aayog is piloting it, while the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change is implementing it.
International Solar Alliance (ISA):
ISA’s mission is to scale up solar energy and minimise the cost of solar power generation through the aggregation of demand for solar finance, technology, innovation, research, and development, and capacity building.
One sun, one world, one grid project (OSOWOG):
It is based on the goal of constructing and developing inter-regional energy systems to distribute solar energy globally. It has the potential to solve the majority of our worldwide energy concerns.
India’s pledge during the COP26 meeting in Glasgow
To increase non-fossil fuel energy capacity in India to 500 GW by 2030.
To reduce India’s carbon intensity by more than 45% by 2030.
By 2070, India will have achieved its goal of net zero carbon emissions.
Mission Innovation CleanTech Exchange:
The network gives access to the knowledge and market insights required to help breakthrough technologies enter new markets throughout the world.
Source – Indian Express
Save Wetlands Campaign
GS Paper III
Context:The ‘Save Wetlands Campaign’ was inaugurated in Goa by the Union Minister for Environment, Forests, and Climate Change.
By employing a “whole-of-society” approach, the Save Wetlands Campaign hopes to encourage affirmative activities towards wetlands protection.
sensitizing people of the value of wetlands
increasing the coverage of wetland mitras
building citizen partnerships for wetlands conservation.
World Wetlands Day:
Every year on the 2nd of February, it commemorates the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance in 1971. Since 1982, India has been a signatory to the Convention and has designated 75 wetlands as Ramsar sites.
The topic for World Wetlands Day in 2023 is ‘Wetland Restoration,’ emphasising the critical need to prioritise wetland restoration.
What are Wetlands?
Wetlands are locations where water dominates the environment and the related plant and animal life. They exist where the water table is at or near the land’s surface, or where the land is submerged in water.
Wetlands are defined as “areas of marsh, fen, peatland, or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish, or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres” by the Ramsar Convention.
Wetlands sequester carbon via being a component of global water, nitrogen, and sulphur cycles. Wetlands retain carbon in their plant communities and soil rather than releasing it into the sky as CO2.
Fighting Climate Change: By serving as buffers, wetlands help minimise the likelihood of calamities such as floods.
Migrating Bird Paradise: Millions of migratory birds gather to wetlands.
Importance in Cultural and Tourism: Wetlands have a strong relationship to Indian culture and customs.
Ramsar Convention: The Ramsar Convention strives to conserve and wisely use all wetlands via local, national, and international collaboration. It went into effect in 1975.
The Montreux Record is a registry of Ramsar wetland locations where changes in ecological character have happened, are occurring, or are projected to occur as a result of technological advances, pollution, or other human influence.
Every year on the second of February, the world celebrates World Wetlands Day.
Wetlands are legally protected in India under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017. The 2010 Rules established a Central Wetland Regulatory Authority, but the 2017 Rules replaced it with state-level authorities and established a National Wetland Committee, which serves as an advising body.
The Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MoEFCC) supports the implementation of management action plans for over 250 wetlands through programmes such as the National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems, Mangroves, and Coral Reefs, and Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats.
Ramsar sites in India:
In the country’s 75th year of independence, India has added 11 more wetlands to the list of Ramsar sites, bringing the total to 75 Ramsar sites spanning an area of 13,26,677 hectares.
Tamil Nadu has the most Ramsar sites (14), followed by Uttar Pradesh, which has ten Ramsar sites.
Source – Indian Express
Facts For Prelims
NISAR and its Mission
NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR), an earth-observation satellite jointly constructed by NASA and ISRO, is slated to be transported to India later this month for a September launch.
Under a cooperative agreement announced in 2014, space agencies from the United States and India collaborated to build NISAR.
The satellite, weighing 2,800 kg, is equipped with both L-band and S-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensors, making it a dual-frequency imaging radar satellite.
ISRO contributed the S-band radar, the GSLV launch vehicle, and the spacecraft, while NASA provided the L-band radar, GPS, a high-capacity solid-state recorder to retain data, and a payload data subsystem.
The satellite’s enormous 39-foot permanent antenna reflector is also a key component.
The reflector, which is made of gold-plated wire mesh, will be used to focus the radar signals emitted and received by the upward-facing feed on the instrument structure.
NISAR will study small changes in Earth’s surfaces once launched into orbit, allowing researchers to better understand the origins and effects of such events.
It will detect natural hazard warning indications such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and landslides.
The satellite will also measure groundwater levels, follow glacier and ice sheet flow rates, and monitor the planet’s forest and agricultural sectors, which will help us better comprehend carbon exchange.
NISAR will generate high-resolution pictures using synthetic aperture radar (SAR).
SAR can penetrate clouds and gather data day and night, independent of weather conditions.
Yuva Sangam Portal
The registration gateway for “Yuva Sangam” has been opened by the Union Ministry of Education.
The Yuva Sangam is a Prime Ministerial effort to strengthen relationships between the youth of the North East Region and the rest of India in the spirit of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat.
Yuva Sangam embraces the concept of our ancient heritage, our beautiful past, and our rich culture.
This programme will be open to young people aged 18 to 30.
Over 20000 young people will travel across India, taking advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime chance for cross-cultural learning.
Students will interact with one another in the fields of language, literature, gastronomy, festivals, cultural events, and tourism throughout the curriculum.
They will gain firsthand knowledge of life in an entirely different geographical and cultural setting.
The programme will provide a chance to visit, learn about, and understand India while also doing something for the nation.
This is another another move by Prime Minister Modi to strengthen ties between the northeast and the rest of India.
Yuva Sangam will honour India’s diversity, rekindle the spirit of unity, and emphasise the power of India’s democracy as envisioned by the Prime Minister.
Bharat Gaurav Train
The Indian Railways will launch the Bharat Gaurav Deluxe AC Tourist Train as part of the ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ Scheme for an unique tour of Gujarat.
The introduction of the Bharat Gaurav Tourist Train is in keeping with the Government of India’s “Dekho Apna Desh” effort to increase domestic tourism.
Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat Scheme
It was inaugurated by the Prime Minister on Rashtriya Ekta Diwas on October 31, 2015, to honour Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s birth anniversary.
Through the notion of state/UT matching, it strives to improve interaction and mutual understanding between individuals from various states/UTs.
Implementation: Each state and territory in the country would be paired with another for a certain length of time, during which they would engage in structured activities like as language, literature, cuisine, festivals, cultural events, tourism, and so on.
The Ministry of Education has been appointed as the Nodal Ministry for programme coordination.
Dekho Apna Desh Initiative
The Ministry of Tourism introduced it in 2020.
Objective: To raise awareness among citizens about the country’s rich heritage and culture, as well as to encourage individuals to visit inside the country.
This initiative primarily targets the country’s middle-class inhabitants, encouraging them to travel within India rather than outside.
The scheme’s purpose is to boost domestic travel and so enhance the Indian economy. It is expected to provide job opportunities in the tourist industry and offer a much-needed boost to the nation’s economy.
The Ministry has also created an online Dekho Apna Desh pledge and quiz on the MyGov.in portal to raise public awareness.