29 August, 2019

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GS-I :
Why women are still being treated as unequal to men

GS-I: Why women are still being treated as unequal to men


According to a study published in American Psychologist, for the first time in history, 86% of US adults have admitted that men and women are equally intelligent. In 1946, only 35% of those surveyed thought both men and women are equally intelligent.

Status of gender equality

  • From the days when one had to hunt for food, to the days of agricultural output and the industrial economy, the superior physical abilities of man gave him an advantage over women in work efficiency. With the arrival of the knowledge economy, the human brain has become the most important tool for work.
  • According to the World Employment And Social Outlook Trends For Women 2018 report, more women than ever before are both educated and participating in the labour market today.
  • Men’s rates of graduation remain relatively stagnant, while women across socioeconomic classes are increasingly enrolling for and completing post-secondary degrees.
  • The Global Gender Gap Report 2018 by the World Economic Forum says that it will take 108 years to close the gender gap and 202 years to achieve parity in the workforce.

Suggestions to Bridge Gender Gap:

  • Apart from providing education to women, they need to be provided with all kinds of opportunities and skills without any discrimination or stereotyping.
  • The health and safety of women should be given priority to enable them to participate in public life efficiently.
  • The disparity in pay structure for women for same work and skill set needs to be closed at all levels.
  • Women should be given the right to decide the size of their family i.e. number of and spacing between children. Further, all women need to be made aware about contraception.
  • Support from the society, family and corporate is required to create a soothing working environment for a woman.
  • A working couple needs to spend part of their income on domestic arrangements; otherwise the woman will get marginalized.
  • The family of a woman needs to understand that she is pursuing a particular job as her passion, not just to earn some income.
  • Life of the child needs to be planned by couple in advance so that s/he does not suffer.
  • Change in the mindset is required to bridge the gaps in gender equality. Apart from family and workplace support, use of technology is required to maintain work-life balance.


Achieving gender parity is not about organizing awareness programmes and pasting a few posters in offices. It is all about fundamentally altering beliefs upheld by the two strongest institutions of any society the family and religion.

Source: Live Mint

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Democracy and its discontents

GS-II: Democracy and its discontents


Civilisation progresses with the evolution of institutions designed by humans to govern their a?airs. Institutions of electoral democracy have evolved over the centuries, with notable innovations in the U.K., France and theU.S. that provided models for electoral democracies everywhere.

Basic forms of democracy are:

DIRECT DEMOCRACY: Citizens participate in the decision-making personally. Example- Switzerland.

REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY: Elected officials represent a group of people. It is an element of both parliamentary and presidential systems of government. Examples – United Kingdom, India, USA, etc.

Democracy in India

  • India is the world’s largest democracy. India became a democratic nation post its independence in the year 1947. Thereafter, the citizens of India were given the right to vote and elect their leaders. In India, it gives its citizens the right to vote irrespective of their caste, color, creed, religion, and gender. It has five democratic principles – sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic and republic.
  • Abraham Lincoln in his famous speech at Gettysberg described democracy as government of the people , by the people ,for the people. Democracy is slightly more than that. Apart from political it is social also. It envisages not only a democratic form of government but a society in which there is free exchange of ideas and each individual enjoys the same status in society.
  • Democracy is a way of life in India .It has grown deep roots. The making of democratic India was not only result of an ideological preference ,but a pragmatic understanding of ground realities.
  • There is no doubt that the present age is the age of democracy, and it has developed into a very strong movement all over the world. Even the Communist countries, which reject the basic western philosophy of democracy, call themselves people’s democracy
  • India not only survived but flourished as a democracy. An important aspect of the Indian democratic resilience is the ability to adapt and accommodate to changing realities. In a democracy ,economic reforms are an exercise in political persuasion and management and yet our direction remains clear as also our determination to deepen the reform process.
  • Many countries have been unable to resist the temptation of achieving certain economic goals at the cost of effectively curtailing the right of dissent and the freedom of expression .But in India the democratic spirit been instrumental in creating change.


Democracy is important because it gives representation to a larger section of society in the Government. But the world still witnesses full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and even authoritarian regimes. Efforts from institutions like United Nations and nations world over are needed so that representation by citizens of various nations of the world may be met and their voices be heard. At the same time, democracy also needs to have various internal checks like independence of judiciary so that its real goals are achieved.

Source: The Hindu

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Reforming the Law Commission: Govt should enshrine in law, the composition, tenure, functions and work procedure of the panel

GS-II: Reforming the Law Commission: Govt should enshrine in law, the composition, tenure, functions and work procedure of the panel.


There are reports that the cabinet will take a call on reconstituting the Law Commission.


  • The Law Commission of India is the oldest amongst the national-level parastatal bodies.
  • It is a legacy of the country’s colonial past. In 1833, British rulers unified the three presidencies and planned to enforce the English common law in “British India”. For this, they constituted many law commissions.
  • After the fourth commission completed its work towards the end of 19th century, they did not continue the exercise.
  • The first commission was set up in 1955 for a three-year term, assumed charge on September 1 that year and vacated office on August 31, three years later. The same pattern was then irrationally adopted as the fixed term for the commission for all time to come.

Ad Hoc nature of Law commission

  • It has no fixed composition, no defined eligibility criteria for its chair and members, and no set functions as everything rests on the government’s will.
  • The terms of reference are specified afresh each time it is reconstituted as if it were an ad hoc body.
  • Three of the other national commissions for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes, are now regulated by the Constitution and there are laws for each of the national commissions for human rights, minorities, women, children and safai karmcharis.
  • Though the commission’s job requires research-oriented juristic learning, the commission has been a haven for retired judges.
  • The chairpersons of the four pre-independence Law Commissions — C H Cameron, John Romilly, Whitley Stokes and Thomas Macaulay — were eminent jurists, not judges, and so were many of their members.
  • Independent India initially maintained the tradition by appointing the distinguished jurist M C Setalvad as the chairman of its first Law Commission.
  • The policy was later changed, and with the exception of K V K Sundaram, the commission has always been headed by judges.
  • Members of the commission are also generally drawn from the judiciary, and the member-secretary is always from the bureaucracy.


If the commission has to work without regard for extra-legal and political considerations it must have a governing statute defining its powers and responsibilities, and limitations. It must be placed under a proper parliamentary charter.

Source: Indian Express

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Public health versus free speech

GS-II: Public health versus free speech.


Tobacco companies will try their best to prevent pictorial warning on cigarette packages in the U.S.

Fight against Tobacco

  • It is ten years since U.S. Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, but now, the Food and Drug Administration issued a rule that pictorial warnings be carried on cigarette packages and advertisements.
  • At present, cigarette packages in the U.S. carry only text warnings and only on one side.
  • Canada was the first to introduce pictorial warnings on cigarette packets in 2001.
  • The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing more than 8 million people a year around the world. More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

Importance of Messaging

  • Due to their small size and placement text warnings remain invisible and fail to convey the harmful effects of smoking.
  • Gory pictures are very likely to be noticed, leave a lasting impression of the varied risks of smoking.
  • They also convey the central message immediately and easily.
  • A 2017 study based on modelling found that pictorial warnings could reduce the prevalence of smoking in the U.S by 5% by 2020 and up to 10% by 2065.
  • Canada there was 125 relative reduction in smoking prevalence in just 6 years after graphic images were made mandatory.

Challenges to stricter of tobacco law from USA

  • Stiff opposition from the tobacco industry on the ground that graphic images violate rights protecting free speech.
  • The biggest threat that pictorial warnings pose to tobacco companies is in reducing the appeal and consumption of tobacco.
  • About 30% of young adults in 28 European countries and Canada reported that graphic images made them less likely to start smoking.


Pictorial warnings can turn he power of packing on its head far from brand building, packages with graphic images will become a mobile medium to spread public health messages at no cost to the government.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-III: Star tortoise, otters get higher protection at CITES

GS-III: Star tortoise, otters get higher protection at CITES


India’s proposal to upgrade the protection of star tortoises (Geochelone elegans), the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) and small-clawed otters (Anoyx cinereus) in CITES have been approved. The proposal to remove Rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo) from Appendix II of Convention is also under consideration.

Benefits of the move

These species have been listed under Appendix I of CITES and will now enjoy the highest degree of protection as there will be a complete international ban enforced on their trade.


  • CITES stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
  • It is as an international agreement aimed at ensuring “that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival”.
  • It was drafted after a resolution was adopted at a meeting of the members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 1963.
  • It entered into force on July 1, 1975, and now has 183 parties.
  • The Convention is legally binding on the Parties in the sense that they are committed to implementing it; however, it does not take the place of national laws.
  • India is a signatory to and has also ratified CITES convention in 1976.

CITES Appendices

  • CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls.
  • All import, export, re-exports and introduction from the sea of species covered by the convention has to be authorized through a licensing system.

It has three appendices:

Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.

Appendix II provides a lower level of protection.

Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES parties for assistance in controlling trade.

Source: The Hindu

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