Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2022

Jan 04, 2022

Current Affair 1:
Manual scavenging in India


Manual scavenging exists despite legislation

Despite a legislation banning the act of manual scavenging, the practice continues to exist in India. While there is some general agreement that this practice continues to exist, there are a lot of discrepancies around the data on manual scavengers in the country.

According to the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 that was brought in to prohibit employment of manual scavengers, ‘Manual Scavenger’ is a person engaged in or employed for manually carrying human excreta.

After close to two decades, the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 was passed to override the provisions of the 1993 act. This act laid down a detailed definition of ‘manual scavenger’ as an individual engaged or employed for manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of, or otherwise handling in any manner, human excreta in premises such as railway tracks, open drains, septic tanks, and insanitary latrines. Those persons who clean excreta using devices and protective gears are not deemed as manual scavengers, as per the Act.

Government’s legislation and schemes to prohibit manual scavenging

Various laws and schemes have been implemented over the years to put an end to the practice and uplift the individuals and families involved in manual scavenging. Two important legislations, as mentioned earlier are,

  1. The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 criminalized the employment of manual scavengers to clean dry latrines. Under this Act, the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) was constituted in 1994 to investigate the conditions of Safai Karamcharis in the country, investigate grievances with respect to the implementation of schemes and make recommendations to the Central Government.
  2. The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 was also passed with the objective to end manual scavenging. The 2013 Act also focused on the rehabilitation of manual scavengers and the introduction of mechanization to prevent manual scavenging. Under this Act, any person who engages an individual for manual scavenging is punishable with imprisonment up to two years and/or a penalty of Rs. 1 lakh.

More than 97% of those engaged in manual scavenging are from the SC community

According to a parliament response from December 2021, a total of 58,098 manual scavengers have been identified as per the criteria laid down in the 2013 act. Of these, caste-related data is available for 43,797 manual scavengers, 97.25% of who belonged to Scheduled Castes.

Zero deaths were reported from manual scavenging while 321 deaths while cleaning sewers

In response to a question in the Rajya Sabha in December 2021, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment stated that zero deaths have been reported from manual scavenging in the last five years. However, a total of 321 persons lost their lives while cleaning sewers and septic tanks between 2017 and 2021.

Current Affair 2:
Bioenergy crops create cooling effect on cultivated areas

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Converting annual crops to perennial bioenergy crops can induce a cooling effect on the areas where they are cultivated, according to a new study.

Cultivation area under bioenergy crops occupies 3.8 per cent ± 0.5 per cent of the global total land area, but they exert strong regional biophysical effects, leading to a global net change in air temperature of −0.08 ~ +0.05 degrees Celsius.

The biophysical cooling or warming effects of bioenergy crop cultivation can significantly strengthen or weaken the effectiveness of bioenergy crop cultivation with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) in limiting the temperature increments, depending on the cultivation map and the bioenergy crop type.

About Bioenergy crops:

Fossil fuels have solved our energy problems since the beginning of the industrial revolution that started in the eighteenth century. However, from past few decades, the world has seen an unprecedented and uncontrolled use of fossil fuels. In the current era, we heavily rely on fossil fuels for energy demands. It is undeniably true that fossil fuels hold the credit of shaping our world, but on the cost of environmental and related hazards. The negative environmental impacts of fossil usage are now being realized, and the search for alternative energy sources has begun.

Bioenergy crops are one such energy source that could positively impact the environment to reduce the level of carbon dioxide, emission of greenhouse gases and soil erosion. The biofuel generation using fast growing and photosynthetically efficient bioenergy crops is emerging as a reliable alternative to fossil fuels.

  • Bioenergy plants increase soil carbon and fix atmospheric carbon.
  • In addition, bioenergy crops (miscanthus, sorghum and poplar) could also be used for the phytoremediation of heavy metal-contaminated soils.
  • The bioenergy crops include specific plants that are grown and maintained at lower costs for biofuel production.
  • The bioenergy crops are classified into five types namely, first-, second- and third-generation bioenergy crops, dedicated energy crops and halophytes.
  • The first-generation bioenergy crops include corn, sorghum, rapeseed and sugarcane, whereas the second-generation bioenergy crops are comprised of switchgrass, miscanthus, alfalfa, reed canary grass, Napier grass and other plants. The third-generation bioenergy crops contain boreal plants, crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) plants, eucalyptus and microalgae.

Current Affair 3:
National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT)


Ministry of Education has announced a National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT) as a Public-Private partnership model between the Government (through its implementing agency AICTE) and the Education Technology companies of India. Through an open invitation and screening, companies are invited to showcase their products on a National Portal developed for the learners, who may procure them based on their requirements.

The aim of NEAT is to bring the best technological Products in education pedagogy on a single platform for the convenience of learners. Technology Products using Artificial Intelligence for customized learning or e-content in niche areas having highly employable skills would be identified for showcasing on the portal.

The scheme also includes free seats for existing students of higher education from Weaker sections of society. The distribution of free seats would be done through the NEAT portal, based on student information shared by Educational Institutions.

Nothing much is required. Ok, we will learn about All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) was set up in November 1945 as a national-level apex advisory body to conduct a survey on the facilities available for technical education and to promote development in the country in a coordinated and integrated manner. And to ensure the same, as stipulated in the National Policy of Education (1986), AICTE was vested with:

• Statutory authority for planning, formulation, and maintenance of norms & standards

• Quality assurance through accreditation

• Funding in priority areas, monitoring, and evaluation

• Maintaining parity of certification & awards

• The management of technical education in the country

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