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Monthly DNA

29 Jan, 2020

21 Min Read

Easing Abortion laws in India


Syllabus subtopic: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the move and its significance; MTP Act, 1971

News: Moving to ease abortion laws in the country, the Union Cabinet is set to consider a host of changes to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971.


  • In recent years, there have been strong demands to raise the foetal gestation period for abortion beyond 20 weeks.

  • The changes in law were proposed after an extensive consultation process with experts representing a range of stakeholders from central and state governments, NGOs, academic institutions, professional bodies and associations like Indian Medical Association, Indian Nursing Council and legal professionals.

What is the present scenario?

The present abortion law, which is about five decades old, permits abortion up to a maximum foetal gestation period of 20 weeks.

Section 3 (2) of the MTP Act, 1971 states “a pregnancy may be terminated by a registered medical practitioner,

  1. where the length of the pregnancy does not exceed twelve weeks, if such medical practitioner is, or

  1. where the length of the pregnancy exceeds twelve weeks but does not exceed twenty weeks, if not less than two registered medical practitioners are, of opinion that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury to her physical or mental health; or there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities to be seriously handicapped.

What are the changes proposed in the Act?

  1. to increase the upper limit for termination of a pregnancy from 20 weeks to 24 weeks.

  1. It proposes requirement of opinion of one registered medical practitioner (RMP) for termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks of gestation. Similarly, it also provides for the requirement of opinion of two RMPs for termination of pregnancy of 20 to 24 weeks.

  1. The Bill also seeks to increase the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women. “It will also include minor girls.”

  1. For unmarried women, the Bill seeks to relax the contraceptive-failure condition for “any woman or her partner” from the present provision for “only married woman or her husband”, allowing them to medically terminate the pregnancy.

Way forward

The move to amend the MTP Act, 1971 is a progressive step towards empowerment of women. It will provide greater reproductive rights to women as abortion is considered an important aspect of the reproductive health of women. Deaths and injuries from unsafe abortions are largely preventable provided services are performed legally by trained practitioners.

Source: Indian Express

India, France to partner on museums

GS-II : International Relations France

India, and France to partner on museums

Syllabus subtopic: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Prelims and Mains focus: about India- France cooperation and its significance; Indo-France ties

News: India and France will work together in the field of museums, cultural spaces and research, and a joint working group will be established for this purpose, the Ministry of Culture said.

The task of the working group

  • The working group would explore the partnership between the National Museum in Delhi and a French counterpart to be designated by the French government.

  • The first meeting of this group would be held before April 30. The Ministers opened an exhibition of works by French artist Gerard Garouste at the National Gallery of Modern Art.

India-France historical ties

  • In the 17th century, the French East India Company established trading posts at Pondicherry, Chandernagore, Mahé, Karaikal and Yanam. In the Indian sub-continent, France was the dominant colonial power between the 17th and the 18th century.

  • However, following the 1763 Paris Treaty, French power in India declined, restraining the French presence in India to five settlements. These were returned to India in 1962 under the Delhi Treaty of 1954. Today, Pondicherry is the most visible historical heritage of that legacy and is an important French cultural and academic centre to date.

  • The suppression of French influence in India was inevitable with the adoption of the British method of administration and education. Significant English domination of Indian thought and practices is still prevalent despite several years of Independence.

  • In fact, India still makes a significant contribution to the maintenance of the British Commonwealth War Graves, even though the contribution of Indian soldiers was muted till very recently. The French, more than the British, are responsible for modernising the Indian forces. This can be evidenced by the performance in the interstate wars in the colonial era.

  • Both the countries have had deep relations with mutual influences and dependencies that go back nearly 300 years.

  • Many French intellectuals such as Michelet, Cuvier, Anquetil-Duperon, Burnouff, Renan and Taine among many others recognised the richness of Indian culture and philosophy and brought it to western audiences.

  • Fascinated by India and "Indian exoticism", there was an eagerness to learn oriental languages. The first school of oriental languages was established in Paris in 1795, with a chair in Sanskrit in 1812 at the College de France, Paris. Even today, one of the largest collections of Indian manuscripts and artefacts outside India is with the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and in private collections.

  • Both countries share similar orientations in foreign policy that is a realist and not confined to alliances.

  • The symbiotic relationship has stood the test of time as for several years after India’s Independence, France was the preferred nation next to the Soviet Union in terms of defence purchases. More importantly, relations between the countries conspicuously defied Cold War tensions, with the French continuing to supply spare parts to the Indian military, contrary to the stance of the USA and the UK during the sanctions period.

Source: The Hindu

Trump unveils West Asia plan

GS-II : International Relations West Asia

Trump unveils West Asia plan

Syllabus subtopic: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

Prelims and Mains focus: on the proposals in the west Asia plan and its implications; on the Israel- Palestine dispute

News: U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday unveiled the West Asia plan as part of a peace plan to end decades of conflict in the region.

What are Trump’s proposals?

  • The US will recognise Israeli sovereignty over territory that Mr Trump's plan envisages being part of Israel. The plan includes a conceptual map that Mr Trump says illustrates the territorial compromises that Israel is willing to make.

  • The map will "more than double the Palestinian territory and provide a Palestinian capital in eastern Jerusalem", where Mr Trump says the US would open an embassy. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) said Mr Trump's plan would give Palestinians control over 15% of what it called "historic Palestine".

  • Jerusalem "will remain Israel's undivided capital". Both Israel and the Palestinians hold competing claims to the holy city. The Palestinians insist that East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war (Six Day War), be the capital of their future state.

  • An opportunity for Palestinians to "achieve an independent state of their very own" - however, he gave few details.

  • "No Palestinians or Israelis will be uprooted from their homes" - suggesting that existing Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank will remain. In exchange, Israel would agree to accept a four­-year freeze on new settlement activity while Palestinian statehood is negotiated.

  • Israel will work with the king of Jordan to ensure that the status quo governing the key holy site in Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and al-Haram al-Sharif to Muslims is preserved. Jordan runs the religious trust that administers the site.

  • Territory allocated to Palestinians in Mr Trump's map "will remain open and undeveloped for a period of four years". During that time, Palestinians can study the deal, negotiate with Israel, and "achieve the criteria for statehood".

A plan that overturns Palestinian aspirations:

  • Until now all of the most difficult aspects of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal - the so-called final status issues - like borders; the future of Israeli settlements in the West Bank; the long-term status of Jerusalem; and the fate of Palestinian refugees, were to be left for face-to-face talks between the Israelis and Palestinians themselves.

  • Not any longer. The deal proposed by President Trump and enthusiastically endorsed by Prime Minister Netanyahu essentially frames all of these issues in Israel's favour.

  • The Palestinians were not just absent from this meeting - they have boycotted the Trump administration ever since it unilaterally moved its embassy to Jerusalem. But they have essentially been presented with an ultimatum - accept the Trump parameters or else, and they have been given some four years to come around.

  • While President Trump is offering the Palestinians a state it would be a much truncated one. No Jewish settlers will be uprooted and Israeli sovereignty will apparently be extended to the settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley. The Palestinians might have a capital in the East Jerusalem suburbs. This "take it or leave it offer" will appal many long-standing students of the region. The question now is not so much what benefit this deal might bring but how much damage it may do by over-turning Palestinian aspirations.

What reaction has there been?

  • In his address, President Abbas said it was "impossible for any Palestinian, Arab, Muslim or Christian child to accept" a Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital.

  • The militant Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, also rejected the deal which it said aimed "to liquidate the Palestinian national project".

  • The UN said it remained committed to a two-state solution based on the borders in place before the 1967 war when Israel seized the West Bank and Gaza.

  • Israeli human rights group B'Tselem said the proposals envisaged a form of apartheid. It said Palestinians would be relegated "to small, enclosed, isolated enclaves, with no control over their lives".

  • Israel's Peace Now organisation said the plan was "as detached from reality as it is eye-catching". It said the plan's green light for Israel to annex the settlements in exchange for a perforated Palestinian state is unviable and would not bring stability.

100 years of Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “Key moments”

  • Nov 2019: Trump administration says it no longer considers Israeli settlements in occupied territory as inconsistent with international law, putting the US at odds with most of international community
  • Dec 2017: Donald Trump announces US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital - Palestinians cut off relations with Trump administration
  • April 2014: Last round of direct Israel-Palestinian peace talks collapse amid acrimony
  • Sept 2000- Feb 2005: Second Palestinian uprising
  • Sept 1993: Israel-Palestinians sign Oslo peace accords, agreeing a framework for an eventual peace deal; 20 years of on-off peace talks - and violence - follow
  • Dec 1987-Sept 1993: First Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation
  • June 1967: Middle East war - Israel occupies East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza Strip; years of hostility and bloodshed follow; UN Security Council Resolution 242 calls on Israel to withdraw from "territories occupied in recent conflict" and recognises the right of "every state in the area to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries"
  • May 1948: British Mandate for Palestine terminates; Israeli statehood declared, Arab countries invade, conflict creates 700,000 Palestinian refugees; 800,000 Jews expelled or flee from Arab countries in the wake
  • Nov 1947: UN recommends partitioning Mandate Palestine into Jewish and Arab states - Jewish leadership in Palestine accept, Arab leadership reject; violence between two sides escalates
  • July 1922: League of Nations entrusts Britain as Mandatory power to put terms of the Balfour Declaration into effect
  • Dec 1917: British forces conquer and occupy Palestine; in years that follow, violence between Jews and Arabs increases
  • Nov 1917: Britain (fighting the Ottoman Empire in WWI) issues the "Balfour Declaration" expressing support for the Jewish "national home" in Palestine on the condition that the rights of non-Jewish communities there are not prejudiced
  • Pre-1917: Turkish Ottoman Empire ruled over Jewish and Arab communities in a geographical area referred to as Palestine, the Holy Land or (by Jews) the Land of Israel.

Source: The Hindu

Illegal sand mining


Syllabus subtopic:

  • Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.
  • Important Aspects of Governance, Transparency and Accountability

Prelims and Mains focus: about the new guidelines for sand mining and its significance; about illegal sand mining in India and govt’s efforts to curb it; about NGT

News: Following a series of orders by the National Green Tribunal in 2018, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF) has for the first time released guidelines to monitor and check illegal sand mining in the country.


  • The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 has empowered state governments to make rules to prevent illegal mining, transportation and storage of minerals.

  • But in the recent past, it has been observed that there was a large number of illegal mining cases in the country and in some cases, many of the officers lost their lives while executing their duties to curb illegal mining.

  • Illegal and uncontrolled illegal mining leads to loss of revenue to the State and degradation of the environment.

Sustainable Sand Management Guidelines 2016

  • While the MoEF has already put in place the Sustainable Sand Management Guidelines 2016, which focus on the management of sand mining in India, officials say that there is an urgent need to have guidelines for effective enforcement of regulatory provisions and their monitoring.

  • While the Sustainable Sand Mining Guidelines, 2016, require the preparation of District Survey Reports (DSR), which is an important initial step before grant of mining lease, the government has found that the DSRs carried out by state and district administrations are often not comprehensive enough, allowing space for illegal mining.

  • The new guidelines, therefore, list a detailed procedure of how the DSRs are to be made, including the development of an inventory, for the first time, of river bed material and other sand sources in the district.

About the new guidelines

  • The Enforcement and Monitoring Guidelines for Sand Mining 2020 released by the Ministry this month include directions to states to carry out river audits, put detailed survey reports of all mining areas online and in the public domain, conduct replenishment studies of river beds, constantly monitor mining with drones, aerial surveys, ground surveys and set up dedicated task forces at district levels.

  • The guidelines also push for online sales and purchase of sand and other riverbed materials to make the process transparent.

  • They propose night surveillance of mining activity through night-vision drones.

  • The enforcement guidelines focus on the “effective monitoring of sand mining from the identification of sand mineral sources to its dispatch and end-use by consumers and the general public and looks at a uniform protocol for the whole country”.

  • The need for replenishment study for river bed sand is also required in order to “nullify the adverse impacts arising due to excessive sand extraction”. No riverbed mining will be allowed during the monsoon.

  • In cases where rivers become district boundaries or state boundaries, the districts or states sharing the boundary shall constitute the combined task force for monitoring of mined materials, mining activity and participate in the preparation of District Survey Reports (DSR) by providing appropriate inputs.

  • Detailed survey needs to be carried out for quantification of minerals and the demand and supply of the riverbed material through market survey, including the future demand for the next five years.

  • The guidelines also push for the sale and purchase of sand and river bed material (RBM) online to make the process more transparent.

  • The 2020 guidelines are to be enforced simultaneously with the Sustainable Sand Management Guidelines, 2016, but in instances where the two sets of guidelines may seem to be in conflict, the new set will hold legal precedence.

Source: Indian Express

African cheetahs to be introduced in India


Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the move by the court and arrangements made by it; about NTCA

News: The Supreme Court on Tuesday lifted its seven-year stay on a proposal to introduce African cheetahs from Namibia into the Indian habitat on an experimental basis. The plan was to revive the Indian cheetah population.


  • India’s last spotted cheetah died in 1947 and the animal was declared extinct in the country in 1952.

  • In May 2012, the top court had stalled the plan to initiate the foreign cheetahs into the Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh fearing they may come into conflict with a parallel and a much-delayed project to reintroduce lions into the same sanctuary.

  • The court was also worried whether the African cheetahs would find the sanctuary a favourable clime as far as abundance of prey is concerned.

Arrangements made by SC

  • The SC was hearing a petition filed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) seeking permission for the introduction of African Cheetah from Namibia.

  • But the Bench made sure that the right precautions are taken.

  • It set up a three-member committee, comprising former Director of Wildlife of India, DG of Wildlife of India, and DIG, Wildlife, Ministry of Environment and Forests, to ‘guide’ the NTCA.

  • It also directed the committee to file a progress report every four months.

  • The Supreme Court made it clear that a proper survey should be done to identify the best possible habitat for the cheetahs. Every effort should be taken to ensure that they adapt to the Indian conditions. The committee would help, advise and monitor the NTCA on these issues.

  • The action of the introduction of the animal would be left to the NTCA’s discretion. The court order notwithstanding, the actual process of translocation might be long-drawn.

Source: The Hindu

10 more wetlands in India declared as Ramsar sites


Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the new sites in the list of international wetlands; about wetlands and their importance; Ramsar sites in India; Efforts made by the govt. to conserve them

News: Ten more Indian wetland sites, including the first from Maharashtra, have received the tag of international importance under the Ramsar Convention — an inter-governmental global treaty to preserve ecological character of selected wetlands across the globe.

Where are these wetlands?

The 10 new ones are

  1. Maharashtra (1): Nandur Madhameshwar bird sanctuary
  2. Punjab (3): Keshopur- Miani community reserve, Beas Conservation Reserve and Nangal wildlife sanctuary; and
  3. Uttar Pradesh (6): Nawabganj bird sanctuary, Parvati Agra bird sanctuary, Saman bird sanctuary, Samaspur bird sanctuary, Sandi bird sanctuary and Sarsai Nawar lake.

  • Maharashta got its first Ramsar site: The site (Nandur Madhameshwar) is used by diverse group of species especially by resident birds for breeding and by migratory birds as a winter stopover site.

  • With this, the list of wetlands in India under the Convention has grown to 37 with surface area of over 10,679 sq km, an area nearly the size of Sikkim and Goa put together.

Procedure for designating wetlands of international importance

  • Under the Ramsar (Iran) Convention of 1971, the member countries identify those sites which are recognised as being of significant value not only for the country or the countries in which they are located, but for humanity as a whole.

  • Globally, there are over 2,300 Ramsar sites around the world, covering over 2.1 million sq km.

Wetlands and their importance

The wetlands — land areas covered by water, either temporarily\seasonally or permanently — play a key role in flood control, water supply and providing food, fibre and raw materials. Besides, such land areas also support migratory birds from colder regions of the world in summers, apart from mangroves that protect coastlines and filter pollutants.

Efforts made by India in wetland conservation

  • Sharing information on new Ramsar sites ahead of the World Wetlands Day (February 2), the environment ministry claimed that it has prepared a four-pronged strategy for the restoration of wetlands which includes preparing a baseline data, wetland health cards, enlisting wetland ‘mitras’ (friends) and preparation of targeted Integrated Management Plans.

  • The ministry had on January 6 notified new guidelines for implementing Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 which prohibit setting up or expansion of industries, and disposal of construction and demolition waste within the wetlands.

  • The inclusion of a wetland in the list embodies the government’s commitment to take steps necessary to ensure that its ecological character is maintained.

Source: The Hindu

Indian Staffing Federation (ISF)

GS-III : Economic Issues Industry

Indian Staffing Federation (ISF)

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the recommendations of the ISF; about labour reforms in India; about ISF

News: Indian Staffing Federation (ISF) has asked the government to make labour codes a reality and get them operational from April this year.

Present scenario

India currently had 44 Central, 387 State labour laws, 67 Central and 1,333 State labour filings and 674 Central and 26,484 State labour compliances.

Recommendations of ISF

  • Simplification, rationalisation, and digitisation of labour laws should be operational on an immediate basis to make them comprehensive, effective, and easy to comply with.

  • To de­congest cities and create more jobs across tier II and tier III cities, the government should ensure optimum utilisation of budgetary allocation towards infrastructure and development.

  • Tier II and III cities and semi­urban areas need to have clear and focussed development to help generate employment opportunities within them. This will put more money in the hands of people and consumption will improve.

  • The government should focus on urbanisation, smart cities and infrastructural development on top priorities to etch a comprehensive growth trajectory of the country.

  • It is critical for the government to bring back positive sentiments in the domestic market, through necessary budgeting and policy initiatives, thereby unshackling the full potential of the country’s high employment sectors such as telecom, e­commerce and automobiles.

About Indian Staffing Federation (ISF)

  • The ISF is the apex body representing the Staffing industry/Private Employment Services that is authorised to discuss with government agencies and other trade bodies on behalf of the staffing industry/ private employment services.

  • The Staffing / private employment services is an enabler to provide social security and long-term medical, and retirement benefits to temp/Flexi-staff.

  • The purpose of ISF is to enhance long-term growth and ensure its continued ability to make positive contributions to the economy as well as the society through the services of the Staffing Industry.

Staffing Industry covers a meager 2% penetration of the possible employable size in India.

  • Of the 400m employable in India, about 10% are employed in the organised sector, and while about 250m are self-employed.
  • This leaves almost 110m who are employed by the temp/flexi-staffing and the unorganised sector. ISF is working towards growing this market.
  • To bring effect, the laws and regulations haven't taken Staffing industry/ Private Employment Services into cognizance.
  • ISF expects to interact with law making authorities to recognize Staffing industry / Private Employment Services and create adequate and appropriate laws to manage it.

What is Flexi-staffing?

  • Flexible Staffing is an arrangement in an organization where the employees can be from temporary agencies, leased employees or contract workers.
  • It is more commonly known as temporary staffing and predominantly focuses on the white collar industry.

Source: The Hindu

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