Topic 1: Rafflesia

Why in news: The world’s largest and stinkiest flower Rafflesia in danger of extinction.

Key details:

  • Rafflesia is a genus of parasitic flowering plants in the family Rafflesiaceae.
  • The species have enormous flowers.
  • One species has the largest flower in the world.
  • Rafflesia is a parasitic plant that has no leavesstems or roots, and does not photosynthesise.
  • Instead, it uses long filaments that look like fungal cells to extract food and water from tropical jungle vines across BruneiIndonesiaMalaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.
  • Threat and conservation status:
    • It is at risk due to the destruction of forest habitats in south-east Asia.
    • There are 42 species of Rafflesia, and researchers warn that all of them are under threat, with 25 classified as critically endangered and 15 as endangered.
    • More than two-thirds are not being protected by current conservation strategies.
    • Just one species (Rafflesia magnifica) is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Topic 2: Wollemi pine

Why in news: The Wollemi pine was thought to have gone extinct 2 million years ago until it was rediscovered by a group of hikers in 1994.

Key details:

  • The Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) was rediscovered by a group of hikers in 1994. 
  • Called a “living fossil” by some, the Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) is nearly identical to preserved remains dating to the Cretaceous period (145 million to 66 million years ago).
  • There are now just 60 of these trees in the wild.
  • It was thought to have gone extinct around 2 million years ago. 
  • Wollemia is a genus of coniferous trees in the family Araucariaceaeendemic to Australia.
  • The tree has been almost universally referred to as the Wollemi pine, although it is not a true pinenor a member of the pine family.
  • Conservation status:
    • The Wollemi pine is classified as critically endangered (CR) on the IUCN’s Red List, and is legally protected in Australia.
  • Threat:
    • These are threatened by bushfires in the region.

Topic 3: Mohalla Clinic

Why in news: Seven doctors and 19 staff members posted at seven Mohalla Clinics have been de-empanelled and removed from duty for manipulating the digital attendance system.

Key details:

  • The Mohalla Clinic is the Delhi government’s flagship project.
  • These are primary health centres that offer free primary healthcare services.
  • They offer a basic package of essential health services including medicines, diagnostics, and consultation free of cost.
  • These clinics serve to be the first point of contact for the patients and hence reduce the high amount of referrals to secondary and tertiary health facilities in the state
  • The idea behind the Mohalla Clinics initiative is to reduce the financial burden on low-income households by saving travel costs and lost wages.
  • Organisational structure:
    • Each Mohalla Clinic is headed by a doctor.
    • District nodal officials supervise the operations of the Mohalla Clinics in their respective areas.
    • The Secretary of the Department of Health and Family Welfare is at the apex of the supervisory structure.

Topic 4: Samvatsari

Why in news: The Prime Minister of India has greeted the people on the occasion of Samvatsari.

Key details:

  • Saṃvatsari is the last day of Paryushana of Shwetambar sect of Jainism.
  • On this day, Jains forgive and seek forgiveness for their mistakes committed knowingly or unknowingly from all the living beings.
  • A yearly, elaborate penitential retreat called “samvatsari pratikramana” is performed on this day.
  • After the pratikramana, Jains seek forgiveness from all the creatures of the world, including friends and relatives by uttering the phrase — Micchami Dukkadam.
  • Samvatsari is derived Sanskrit language.
    • Samvatsara refers to a “year” in Vedic literature such as the Rigveda and other ancient texts.
    • Thus, Samvatsari literally refers to a day that comes annually.
  • Samvatsari and Kshamavaani
    • Samvatsari is associated with Shwetambar sect and Kshamavaani is associated with Digambara sect.
    • There is no major difference between the two days and both are observed as Forgiveness Days.
    • A major difference between the two is that despite both Samvatsari and Kshamavaani falling on the last day of Paryushan, they are in fact two different days.

Topic 5: Asia Pacific Forum on Human Rights

Why in news: President Of India Inaugurates Annual General Meeting And Biennial Conference Of The Asia Pacific Forum On Human Rights

About the Forum:

  • The Asia Pacific Forum (APF) is one of four regional networks of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) within the International Co-ordinating Committee (ICC) of NHRIs.
  • The APF formerly accredited NHRIs for compliance with the United Nations’ Paris Principles, but now acknowledges the accreditation decisions of an ICC sub-committee.
  • The APF is unique among the four regional networks in having close working relations with non-governmental organisations in its region.
  • Members
    • Afghanistan
    • Australia
    • India
    • Indonesia
    • Jordan
    • Korea
    • Malaysia
    • Mongolia
    • Nepal
    • New Zealand
    • Palestine
    • Philippines
    • Qatar
    • Thailand
    • Timor Leste
  • The following are eligible for full membership when they demonstrate compliance with the Paris Principles:
    • Bangladesh
    • Maldives
    • Sri Lanka
  • The following are in the APF region but are not compliant with the Principles and are thus ineligible for membership:
    • Hong Kong
    • Iran
  • Fiji
    • It was suspended from the ICC in 2007 and it resigned from the ICC.
The Paris principlesThe Paris Principles were defined at the first International Workshop on National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights held in Paris in 1991.They were adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Commission by Resolution and by the UN General Assembly.The 1993 Paris Principles regulate to the status and functioning of national institutions for the protection and promotion of human rights known as National Human Rights Institutions.The Paris Principles list a number of roles and responsibilities for national human rights institutions:The institution shall monitor any situation of violation of human rights which it decides to take up.The institution shall be able to advise the government, the parliament and any other competent body on specific violations, on issues related to legislation and general compliance and implementation with international human rights instruments.The institution shall independently engage with regional and international organizations.The institution shall have a mandate to educate and inform in the field of human rights.Some institutions are given a quasi-judicial competence.Compliance with the Paris Principles is the central requirement of the accreditation process that regulates NHRI access to the United Nations Human Rights Council and other bodies.

Topic 6: Nuakhai

Why in news: Prime Minister of India greets people on Nuakhai.

About Nuakhai:

  • Nuakhai is an agricultural festival mainly observed by people of Western Odisha.
  • Nuakhai is observed to welcome the new rice of the season.
  • This is the most important social festival of Western Odisha and adjoining areas of Simdega in Jharkhand, where the culture of Western Odisha is much predominant.
  • Nuakhai is also called Nuakhai Parab or Nuakhai Bhetghat.
  • It is also known as Navakhai Parv in Chhattisgarh.
  • The word nua means new and khai means food, so the name means the farmers are in possession of the newly harvested rice.
  • The festival is seen as a new ray of hope, held the day after the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.

Topic 7: Exercise SIMBEX 23

Why in news: Indian Naval Ships Ranvijay and Kavaratti and submarine INS Sindhukesari arrived in Singapore to participate in the 30th edition of the Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX).

Key details:

  • It is an annual bilateral Naval exercise between the India and Singapore.
  • It is being conducted since 1994.
  • SIMBEX holds the distinction of being the longest continuous naval exercise that Indian Navy has with any other country.

Topic 8: State of Working India

Why in news: The ‘State of Working India 2023’ report was released by Azim Premji University’s Centre for Sustainable Employment recently.

Key details:

  • It uses data sources like the National Statistical Office, including Employment-Unemployment Surveys and the Periodic Labour Force Surveys, and has revealed major trends in India’s labour market.
  • Between 2004 and 2018, there has been an upward trend of economic mobility for sons of fathers engaged in casual wage employment as they are now less likely to take up casual wage employment.
  • Instead, sons of casual wage workers are now increasingly moving towards informal, semi-formal, and formal regular wage work
    • But there’s a caveat– the upward trend has been weaker for Scheduled Caste (SC) workers as compared to general caste workers.
  • The presence of an employed mother-in-law is a major determinant of whether or not married women join the workforce.
  • The presence of unemployed mothers-in-law in the same house significantly reduces the likelihood of married women being employed whereas the presence of employed mothers-in-law only slightly reduces the likelihood, when compared to households where there are no mothers-in-law.

Changing composition of employment type, based on caste 

  • Between 1983 and 2021, the proportion of regular wage workers belonging to the SC category has increased even though it is significantly lower than the proportion of regular wage workers belonging to the general caste category (described as “Others” in the graph).
  • In 202132% of general caste workers were in regular wage employment as compared to 22% of SC workers.
  • There is also a higher rate of self-employment amongst general caste workers as opposed to SC workers.
  • The report also looks at firm ownership data to conclude that general castes are over-represented to a greater degree in larger enterprises.

Intergenerational mobility matrices over time disaggregated by caste, for SC/ST groups

  • In 2018, 75.6% of sons of SC/ST casual wage working fathers were themselves casual wage workers, a dip from 86.5% in 2004.
  • steeper fall is noticed for sons of general caste (described as “Others” in the graph) casual wage working fathers, to 53% in 2018 from 83.2% in 2004.
  • In other words, economic intergenerational mobility has been more pronounced for general caste casual wage workers than for SC/STs.
  • In 2018 as compared to 2004, sons of casual wage workers moved away from casual wage work to informal, semi-formal, and formal regular wage (RW) work.
  • The employment type with the highest intergenerational persistence, i.e. the highest probability that a father’s son works in the same profession as him, is casual wage work.
  • In comparison, formal RW work is much less persistent.

Industries showing an overrepresentation of Women, SCs

  • Women’s representation:
    • Between 1983 and 2021, the degree of women’s representation in industries like tobaccoeducationhealth and social work, and textiles has increased.
    • Whereas in waste management & sewerage, it has decreased.
    • Still, in all these sectors, women are over-represented in comparison to men.
  • SC representation:
    • In the same period, the degree of SC representation in industries like waste management & sewerage and leather & leather products has fallen sharply, even though SCs continue to be over-represented in comparison to other castes.
    • In industries like non-metallic minerals and wood & wood products, the degree of SC representation increased until 2021 when it fell to levels similar to or below 1983.

Relationship between husband’s earnings and probability of women’s employment 

  • Due to the “male breadwinner” norm, as the husband’s income increases the probability of the wife being employed also reduces.
  • The rural – urban scenario:
    • In rural areas, the fall in probability slows down as the husband’s income increases.
    • In urban areas, we see a U-shaped pattern which indicates that there is a fall in the probability of the wife being employed up to an earnings threshold of Rs. 40,000.
    • As the husband’s earnings increase beyond Rs. 40,000, the probability of the wife being employed also increases.
    • The rural/urban divergence is likely due to the fact that urban women are not only better educated but also have more access to good, paid work.
  • Employment of Mother in law:
    • The report also finds that as compared to households where there is no mother-in-law present, married women in households with an unemployed mother-in-law are 20% (rural) to 30% (urban) less likely to be employed.
    • However, if the mother-in-law is employed, the likelihood of the married woman being employed jumps from 50% (rural) to 70% (urban).
    • In other words, the presence and employment status of mothers-in-law is a strong determinant of whether or not married women are participating in the workforce.

Female workforce participation rates by education for 2021-22

  • Ruralareas:
    • Except for the education level diploma and above, women in rural areas have higher workforce participation rates for all levels of education compared to women in urban areas.
  • Urban areas:
    • The U-shaped trend in urban women’s workforce participation rates as the education level increases indicates that as growth continues and female education levels rise, women are presented with employment opportunities with higher wages which pull them into the workforce.
    • However, it must be noted that there is an incongruence between the demand for such jobs, which is high, and the supply, which is struggling to keep up.
  • Caste-wise distribution:
    • The report also notes that as of 2021-2022, about 40% of SC women were in employment as opposed to only 21% of general caste women.

Rising share of workers in the non-agricultural sector, compared to organised/regular wage employment sectors 

  • Since the 1980s, the share of workers employed in non-agricultural sectors increased significantly, with the figure standing at 19.8% in 2021.
  • The figure went up to 20.3% in the late 2010s before reducing to the current level.
  • The exodus of workers from agricultural employment has not been absorbed by the organised sector or by salaried employment, which has shown stagnant growth in recent years.
  • Those moving out of the agricultural sector have been taking up casual wage labour work or informal regular wage work in construction or services.

Unemployment in India is concentrated among its educated youth 

  • Graduates under 25 years have the highest unemployment rate among all education levels for the same age group.
  • The unemployment rate reduces as the education level decreases.
  • As a person grows older, the probability of them being employed also increases mostly because unemployment becomes unsustainable.
  • Even though the unemployment rate is lower than what it was before the coronavirus pandemic, the report reveals that over 15% of graduates are unemployed.