Current Affairs (5th August 2021)
IAC-1 aircraft carrier
- The Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) 1, which will be called INS Vikrant once it enters service with the Indian Navy about a year from now, started sea trials — one of the last phases of trials.
What is IAC-1, as the warship is currently code named?
- This is the first aircraft carrier designed and built in India. An aircraft carrier is one of the most potent marine assets for a nation, which enhances a Navy’s capability to travel far from its home shores to carry out air domination operations.
- An aircraft carrier as essential to be considered a ‘blue water’ navy — one that has the capacity to project a nation’s strength and power across the high seas.
- An aircraft carrier generally leads as the capital ship of a carrier strike/battle group. As the carrier is a valuable and sometimes vulnerable target, it is usually escorted in the group by destroyers, missile cruisers, frigates, submarines, and supply ships.
- IAC-1 has been designed by the Indian Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design (DND), and is being built at Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), a public sector shipyard under the Ministry of Shipping.
Why does it matter that this is a Made-in-India warship?
- Only five or six nations currently have the capability of manufacturing an aircraft carrier — India joins this elite club now. India has demonstrated the capacity and self-reliance to build what is considered to be one of the most advanced and complex battleships in the world.
- India’s earlier aircraft carriers were either built by the British or the Russians. The INS Vikramaditya, currently the Navy’s only aircraft carrier that was commissioned in 2013, started out as the Soviet-Russian Admiral Gorshkov. The country’s two earlier carriers, INS Vikrant and INS Viraat, were originally the British-built HMS Hercules and HMS Hermes before being commissioned into the Navy in 1961 and 1987 respectively.
- According to the Navy, over 76 per cent of the material and equipment on board IAC-1 is indigenous. This includes 23,000 tonnes of steel, 2,500 km of electric cables, 150 km of pipes, and 2,000 valves, and a wide range of finished products including rigid hull boats, galley equipment, airconditioning and refrigeration plants, and steering gear.
- The Navy has said that more than 50 Indian manufacturers were directly involved in the project, and about 2,000 Indians received direct employment on board IAC-1 every day.
- The Navy calculates that about 80-85 per cent of the project cost of approximately Rs. 23,000 crore has been ploughed back into the Indian economy.
Why will this warship be named INS Vikrant?
- INS Vikrant, a Majestic-class 19,500-tonne warship, was the name of India’s much-loved first aircraft carrier, a source of immense national pride over several decades of service before it was decommissioned in 1997.
- India acquired the Vikrant from the United Kingdom in 1961, and the carrier played a stellar role in the 1971 war with Pakistan that led to the birth of Bangladesh.
- The Vikrant was deployed in the Bay of Bengal, and its two air squadrons of Sea Hawk fighter jets and Alize surveillance aircraft were used in strikes on ports, merchant ships, and other targets, and to prevent Pakistani forces from escaping through maritime routes.
Horizontal Reservation for Women – The Bihar Way
- The Bihar government recently announced 33% horizontal reservation for women in State engineering and medical colleges.
What does horizontal reservation mean?
- Reservation for SCs, STs, OBCs and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) is referred to as vertical reservation.
- Horizontal reservation refers to the equal opportunity provided to other categories of beneficiaries cutting through the vertical categories.
- The beneficiaries may include women, veterans, the transgender community, and individuals with disabilities.
What is Bihar’s recent decision?
- Bihar at present has 60% reservation in the State higher educational institutions along the six vertical categories (SCs, STs, EWS and so on).
- The newly announced reservation for women in engineering and medical seats will not be in addition to this.
- It will instead be distributed across all these vertical categories, including the non-reserved 40% seats open to all.
- E.g., if an engineering college has 100 reserved seats for STs, 33 of those seats will have to be filled with ST women.
- This is based on Article 15(3) of the Constitution that allows governments to make special provisions for women and children.
- India’s female labour force participation (FLFP) rate is consistently declining and is worryingly low.
- World Bank data shows that the FLFP came down to 21% in 2019 from 31.79% in 2005.
- As per the Bihar Economic Survey 2019-20, only 6.4% and 3.9% women were employed in the urban and rural areas respectively.
- This is abysmally low compared to the all-India figures of 20.4% and 24.6% respectively.
What were the earlier measures?
- In 1992, the State had announced two consecutive days of menstrual leave for women employees in government services.
- In 2006, Bihar became the first State to reserve 50% seats for women in Panchayati Raj institutions.
- In 2013, the Bihar government made a provision for 50% reservation for women in cooperative societies.
- It also reserved 35% seats for them in police recruitment.
- This led to an increase in women officers in the police department to 25.3% in 2020 (more than double the national average of 10.3%) from 3.3% in 2015.
- In 2016, the government extended the 35% reservation for women to all government jobs in Bihar for which direct recruitment is made.
- In 2006, a scheme called the Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojana was launched for Class 9 and 10 girl students.
- The enrolment of girl students went up after this scheme.
- Under the Mukhyamantri Kanya Utthan Yojana, the Bihar government provides Rs. 50,000 in installments to girl students to support their studies and other needs till graduation.
- This is an incentive-based scheme to encourage girls to complete education and delay marriage.
- The schemes have contributed positively to the State’s literacy rate among girl children.
What are the other issues to be addressed?
- The FLFP rate does not consider unpaid work as well as the role played by social barriers like caste in blocking employment opportunities for women.
- State welfare schemes should go a long way in challenging the patriarchal control of women and systemic gender discrimination.
- The Bihar government needs to work towards reducing the female and male school dropout rate and ensure quality education at the primary and secondary levels.
- A major reason for the low FLFP rate is the lack of employment opportunities for women after matriculation and graduation.
- The State should thus ensure that women do not fall out of the labour market as they become more educationally qualified.
- In this regard, in line with the 35% reservation, the pending vacancies in the health sector, police force, teaching and other government departments can be filled.
- The government should also do away with hiring workers on contract and make all the current contractual workers permanent.
- It should also extend the engineering and medical quota for women to all institutions of higher education, including private colleges and universities.
- Further, the quota allotted to them can be increased to 40-45%, if not 50%, and the category can be renamed as ‘women and transgender persons’.
- Taking lead from Bihar, other State governments and the Union government should consider introducing horizontal quota for women (and in addition, for transgender persons.)
Tribunals Reforms Bill, 2021
- The Lok Sabha passed the Tribunals Reforms Bill, 2021. The Bill replaces a similar Ordinance promulgated in April 2021.
The Bill provides for:
- Uniform terms and conditions of service for Chairperson and Members of various tribunals, including the following, namely:
- Search-cum-Selection Committee for tribunals other than State Administrative Tribunals to be headed by the Chief Justice of India or a Judge nominated by him;
- Search-cum-Selection Committee for the State Administrative Tribunal to be headed by the Chief Justice of the High Court of the concerned State;
- age of retirement to be seventy years for Chairperson and sixty-seven years for a Member;
- the Chairperson and Member of a Tribunal shall be eligible for reappointment.
- Abolition of tribunals or authorities under various Acts by amending
- The Cinematograph Act, 1952,
- The Copyrights, Act, 1957,
- The Customs Act, 1962,
- The Patents Act, 1970,
- The Airport Authority of India Act, 1994,
- The Trade Marks Act, 1999,
- The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999,
- The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001,
- The Control of National Highways (Land and Traffic) Act, 2002;
- Transfer of all cases pending before such tribunals or authorities to the Commercial Court or the High Court, as the case may be, on the appointed date.