Category Archives: Social Issues

About: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC):

About: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC):

  • The National Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established in 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
  • The commission is the watchdog of human rights in the country i.e. the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the international covenants and enforceable by courts in India.
  • Objectives:
    • To strengthen the institutional arrangements through which human rights issues could be addressed in their entirety in a more focussed manner.
    • To look into allegations of excesses, independently of the government, in a manner that would underline the government’s commitment to protect human rights.
    • To complement and strengthen the efforts that have already been made in this direction.

Composition of NHRC:

  • The commission is a multi-member body consisting of a chairperson and five members.
  • The chairperson should be a retired Chief Justice of India or a judge of the Supreme Court.
  • The chairperson and members are appointed by the President on the recommendations of a six-member committee consisting of:
    • Prime Minister (head)
    • Speaker of Lok Sabha
    • Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha
    • Leaders of the Opposition in Both Houses of Parliament
    • Union Home Minister

  • The chairperson and members hold office for a term of three years or until they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier. They are eligible for reappointment.
  • After their tenure, the chairperson and members are not eligible for further employment under the Central or a state government.
  • Inaddition to these full-time members, the commission also hasseven ex-officio members–the chairpersons of the NationalCommission for Minorities, the National Commission for SCs, theNational Commission for STs, the National Commission forWomen, the National Commission for BCs and the NationalCommission for Protection of Child Rights and the ChiefCommissioner for Persons with Disabilities.

Functions of the Commission:

  • To inquire into any violation of human rights or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant, either suo motu or on a petition presented to it or on an order of a court.
  • To intervene in any proceeding involving allegation of violation of human rights pending before a court.
  • To visit jails and detention places to study the living conditions of inmates.
  • Toreviewtheconstitutionalandotherlegalsafeguardsforthe protection of human rights.
  • To encourage the efforts of nongovernmental organisations(NGOs) working in the field of human rights.
  • To undertake such other functions as it may considernecessary for the promotion of human rights.

Working of the Commission:

  • The commission is vested with the powers of a civilcourt and its proceedings have a judicial character.
  • The commission has its own nucleus of investigating staff forinvestigation into complaints of human rights violations.
  • It may call forinformation or report from the Central and state governments orany other authority subordinate thereto.
  • Headquarters: Delhi

Limitations of the Commission:

  • It can look into a matter within oneyear of its occurrence.
  • The functions of the commission are mainly recommendatory in nature.
  • It has no power to punishthe violators of human rights, nor to award any relief includingmonetary relief to the victim.
  • Its recommendations are not binding on the concerned government or authority.
  • The commission has limited role, powers and jurisdiction with respect to the violation of human rights by themembers of the armed forces.

Define minorities. What are the socio cultural problems before them and what measures should be adopted to solve them? [200 Words]

Ans.: A minority group, refers to a group of people whose practices, race, religion, ethnicity, or other characteristics are lesser in numbers than the main groups of those classifications.
In sociology, a minority group refers to a category of people who experience relative disadvantage as compared to members of a dominant social group. 
Louis Wirth defined a minority group as “a group of people who, because of their physical or cultural characteristics, are singled out from the others in the society in which they live for differential and unequal treatment, and who therefore regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination”. 
Socio-Cultural problems of minorities : 
1. Problem of Identity: 

  1. Because of the differences in socio-cultural practices, history and backgrounds, minorities have to grapple with the issue of identity
  2. This give rise to the problem of adjustment with the majority community. 

2. Problem of Security

  1. Different identity and their small number relative to the rest of the society develop feeling of insecurity about their life, assets and well-being.
  2. This sense of insecurity may get accentuated at times when relations between the majority and the minority communities in a society are strained or not much cordial. 

3. Problem Relating to Equity

  1. The minority community in a society may remain deprived of the benefit of opportunities of development as a result of discrimination.
  2. Because of the difference in identity, the minority community develops the perception of the sense of inequity. 

4. Problem of Communal Tensions and Riots

  1. Communal tensions and riots have been incessantly increasing since independence.
  2. Whenever the communal tensions and riots take place for whatever reason, minority interests get threatened 

5. Lack of Representation in Civil Service and Politics

  1. the Constitution provides for equality and equal opportunities to all its citizens including the religious minorities
  2. the biggest minority community, that is, Muslims have a feeling among them that they are neglected
  3. However, such a feeling does not seem to exist among the other religious minority communities such as the Christians, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists, for they seem to be economically and educationally better than the majority community. 

Steps taken to address these issues:

  • The global governance network must recognizes that effort to promote and protect the rights of minorities must be multidimensional and engage the entire System.
  • Discrimination is often at the root of identity-related tensions. Such tensions have a potential to develop into crises that could ultimately lead to conflict, forced displacement and, in the worst cases, to atrocity crimes, including genocide.

Hence, before these instances develops into a broken window syndrome, these must be allayed as early as possible.

  • Their Skills must be upgraded
  • Their rich heritage and culture must be preserved . 

Government Initiatives in this regard :The Government has taken various steps to improve socio-economic and educational status of minority communities 

  • Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programme for the Welfare of Minorities, which is an overarching programme covering various schemes/ initiatives of different Ministries/ Departments.
  • National Commission for Minorities (NCM) was set up by the Union Government of India in 1992 to protect the existence of minorities all over India.
  • USTAAD Scheme aims at upgrading Skills and Training
  • Hamari Darohar Scheme

Minority Cyber Gram programme seeks to introduce digital literacy skills in identified minority clusters in India.

Issue of Same Sex Marriage

Q. Why is this in news? 

  • Recently, the Central Government opposed same-sex marriage in Delhi High Court stating that a marriage in India can be recognised only if it is between a “biological man” and a “biological woman” capable of producing children.

Q. What is the background for it?

  • Petitions, seeking recognition of same sex marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA), 1955 and the Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954, were filed in 2020.

Q. What is Centre’s Response/Argument?

Supreme Court’s Order:

  • In reading down the provision of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Supreme Court only decriminalised a particular human behaviour but neither intended to, nor did in fact, legitimise the human conduct in question.

Societal Morality:

  • There exists a “legitimate State interest” in limiting the recognition of marriage to persons of opposite sex. The considerations of “societal morality” are relevant in considering the validity of a law and it is for the Legislature to enforce such societal morality and public acceptance based upon Indian ethos.

Not in Consonance with Existing Laws:

  • The fundamental right under Article 21 is subject to the procedure established by law and it cannot be expanded to include the fundamental right for same sex marriage to be recognised under the laws which in fact mandate the contrary.
  • Article 21 of the constitution guarantees the right to life. This right cannot be taken away except through a law which is substantively and procedurally fair, just and reasonable.
  • Any interference with the existing marriage laws would cause complete havoc with the delicate balance of personal laws in the country.

Sanctity of Marriage:

  • Living together as partners or in a relationship with a same-sex individual is “not comparable” with the “Indian family unit concept” of a husband, wife and children, arguing that the institution of marriage has a “sanctity”.

Legality of same-sex marriages in India:

  • The right to marry is not expressly recognized either as a fundamental or constitutional right under the Indian Constitution.
  • Though marriage is regulated through various statutory enactments, its recognition as a fundamental right has only developed through judicial decisions of India’s Supreme Court.
  • Such declaration of law is binding on all courts throughout India under Article 141 of the Constitution.

Q. Are there any Judicial pronouncements in this regard?

  • Marriage as a Fundamental Right (Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K.M. and others 2018):
  • While referring to Article 16 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Puttaswamy case, the SC held that the right to marry a person of one’s choice is integral to Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Article 16 (2) in the Indian constitution provides that there cannot be any discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them.
  • The right to marry is intrinsic to the liberty which the Constitution guarantees as a fundamental right, is the ability of each individual to take decisions on matters central to the pursuit of happiness. Matters of belief and faith, including whether to believe are at the core of constitutional liberty.
  • LGBTQ Community Entitled to all Constitutional Rights (Navjet Singh Johar and others v. Union of India 2018):
  • The SC held that members of the LGBTQ community “are entitled, as all other citizens, to the full range of constitutional rights including the liberties protected by the Constitution” and are entitled to equal citizenship and “equal protection of law”.

About: Corporate Social Responsibility?

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

  • It is a corporation’s initiative to assess and take responsibility for the company’s effects on environmental and social well being.
  • It helps a company be socially accountable — to itself, its stakeholders, and the public.
  • By practicing corporate social responsibility, companies can be conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society including economic, social, and environmental.
  • The concept rests on the ideology of give and take. Companies take resources in the form of raw materials, human resources etc from the society. By performing the task of CSR activities, the companies get an opportunity to give back to the society

CSR as per Companies Act, 2013:

  • Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013, which came into force in 2014, mandates companies to spend on CSR activities.
  • Every company, private limited or public limited, which either has a net worth of Rs 500 crore or a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore or net profit of Rs 5 crore, needs to spend on CSR activities.
    • Their CSR spend must be at least 2% of its average net profit for the immediately preceding three financial years on CSR activities.
  • Profits from any overseas branch of the company, including those branches that are operated as a separate company would not be included in the computation of net profits of a company.
  • In determining CSR activities to be undertaken, preference has to be given to local areas and the areas around where the company operates.
  • Contribution to any political party is not considered to be a CSR activity and only activities in India would be considered for computing CSR expenditure.
  • If companies do not fully spend the CSR funds, they must disclose the reasons for non-spending in their annual report.

Shortcomings in CSR activities:

  • Backward Districts: It has been observed that the CSR expenditure on the country’s most backward districts that require maximum CSR support, remains small.
  • One time activity: Instead of engaging with communities to uplift them, companies do a one-time cheque-signing exercise by transferring CSR funds to government programmes such as Prime Minister’s Relief Fund or PM-CARES.
  • Non-compliance: The Registrar of Companies serves notices on a regular basis for non-compliance with CSR expenditure.

Q. Comment upon the role of women in the Indian freedom struggle. How did the arrival of Gandhiji affect their participation in the political sphere?

Model Answer

Indian freedom struggle was not only a political agitation for freedom but also an inclusive movement that included various sections of the society. The process of inclusion only intensified with the multidimensional role of women with renewed vigour after the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi.

Role of Women in Indian Freedom Struggle –

  • Earliest examples – Right from the revolt of 1857 there was the participation of women in the Indian freedom struggle. Leaders like Rani Laxmi Bai and Begum Hazrat Mahal played an active role to oppose British rule in their area.
  • Inspirational courage and valour –Likes of Bhikaji Cama who unfurled the Indian flag at Stuttgart and Communist leaders like Bina Das and ChattriSangh who tried an assassination attempt on Governor of Bengal were an inspiration for all Indians.
  • Reformist and constructivist role – As women’s education spread, there was a small yet active women’s movement working inside the national movement. Congress leaders like Sarojini Naidu and Annie Besant gave them the leadership. Participation of women deepened the meaning of freedom by demanding political rights for women, which were majorly neglected. Various women organizations like Madras Women Indian Association and All India Women’s Conference in 1927 raised voice for voting rights.

Influence of Mahatma Gandhi on Women’s Participation – Gandhiji worked upon at the levels of ideas, techniques as well as programmes.

  • The idea of sisterhood – He described women as the embodiment of sacrifice, humility and knowledge. (Young India 1921). He made the gender issue neutral by emphasizing role models like Sita and Draupadi (who were portrayed as role models of empowered women, albeit in the cloak of traditionalism). He thus emphasised on sisterhood ideal and made the political role of women more acceptable to male counterparts as well as themselves.
  • Erasing public vs private spheres – He provided prabhatpheris, picketing liquor shops, prohibition, flag satyagrahas as well as constructive works like charkha spinning, which facilitated the participation of women. He also took the freedom struggle to the daily activities and impressed upon the people to carry the spirit of nationalism in their routines – thus inspiring them. All these ensured that women could participate from wherever they were in whatever capacity they could.
  • Programmes and methods – Gandhiji emphasized upon values of non-violence and satyagraha. Adherence to non-violence led to an increase in participation of women, which was visible during the Civil Disobedience Movement (From 1930 to 1934). As even men who were reluctant to allow women to participate owing to violence now readily promoted their participation. Gandhiji made women realize their potential of strength and sacrifice, which made women most trusted satyagrahis. It was Sarojini Naidu who took up leadership role during salt satyagraha after the arrest of Gandhi. (Dharasana Satyagraha)

Gandhiji’s mass based struggle drew many women towards Indian freedom struggle changed in the nature of participation from supportive to equal participation. Thus participation of women made Indian Freedom Struggle a true mass-based struggle which not only led to political independence but a great stride towards the emancipation of women and other weaker sections of society. 

Q. In recent years the caste system in India is assuming new identities. In this light discuss the importance and challenges posed by caste system.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction (about India’s caste system)
  • Caste assuming new identities
  • Importance of caste system
  • Challenges of caste system
  • Way forward

Model Answer

Caste is an endogamous group based on social hierarchy, where position of individual is ascribed by birth rather than achieved status. There are about 3,000 caste and 25,000 sub caste in India.

In recent times the caste system is assuming new identities in following ways:

  • Formation of caste-based associations/ caste panchayat like– Jaat sabha, Goswami Sammelam
  • Casteism on internet like- #jai bheem, #jai parsuram etc.
  • Casteism in economic sector like– formation of Dalit Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
  • Rise of caste based matrimonial sites and caste based matrimonial ads.

Best practices: Maharashtra has recently passed a law (2016) prohibiting social boycott based on caste and other factors.

Caste system has both advantages and disadvantages, the same are described as follows:

  • Caste has accommodated multiple communities by ensuring each of them a monopoly of a specific means of livelihood.
  • It has handed over the knowledge and skills of the hereditary occupation of a caste from one generation to another.
  • Specialization led to quality production of goods and thus promoted economic development.
  • It has helped the preservation of culture and ensured productivity.
  • It has helped maintaining racial purity through endogamy.

However, as noted above the caste system has also its disadvantages, such as:

  • It is a great stumbling block in the way of social reforms.
  • It perpetuates the exploitation of the economically weaker and socially inferior castes, especially the untouchables.
  • It has inflicted hardships on women through its insistence on practices like child-marriage, prohibition of widow-remarriage
  • It has stood in the way of national and collective consciousness and proved to be a disintegrating rather than an integrating factor.
  • It undermines the efficiency of labour and prevents perfect mobility of labour, capital and productive effort.

Thus, there is a need for encouraging inter-caste marriages under Dr. Ambedkar scheme for social integration through inter-caste marriages. Moreover, there is a need to depoliticize the caste-based reservation. This will help in promoting national unity and integrity.

Q. Regionalism in India is a result of various interconnected factors. In this light discuss the various types regionalism in India and also suggest suitable measures to curtail negative impact of regionalism.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction (regionalism)
  • Factors responsible for regionalism
  • Types of regionalism
  • Conclusion/ way forward

Model Answer

Regionalism is a strong attachment to one’s own region. Thus, it is an ideology that seek to advance cause of a region. The rise of regionalism in India is a result of various factors:

  • Historically, formation of various regional kingdoms and frequent regional wars led to rise of regional ideology.
  • Due to specific geography of a region there developed different food, clothing
  • The mother tongue (linguism) also created a profound attachment to one’s own language and hence regional identity developed.
  • Formation of regional parties to protect regional interest also led to rise of regionalism. For Ex- Shiv Sena.
  • Lop sided economic development led to inequality between different state and consequently leading to regionalism. For ex- problem of Naxalism.

In this background, the different types of regionalism are categorised as follows:

  • Parochialism: When people of a region consider regional interest superior and shun nationalist outlook. For ex- Violence by ULFA (Assam) against Bihari.
  • Regionalism: Reflected when people of a region raise voice for their autonomy, rights, fair share in development process and demand separate statehood or autonomy within state. For ex- Bodoland demand.
  • Secessionism: When a region tries to end its association from the nation to see itself as separate entity on the world map. For ex- Z. Phizo demand for Nagaland.
  • Inter-state rivalry: State and its people see other states as its competitors resulting into conflict over sharing of common resources, land boundary issues For ex- Cauvery water dispute between Tamil Nadu-Kerala.

Way forward:

  • The role of National Integration Council must be revamped to resolve conflicting regional aspirations.
  • Reviving national games such as Hockey, which can become symbol of unity.
  • Cultural sensitisation must be taken up in colleges to avoid hatred based on regions. For ex- setting up food stalls from other states.
  • The focus must also be on development of underdeveloped, backward and naxal hit regions.

Such steps will help achieving the aim of Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat.

Q. Women’s movement post-independence has covered a wide array of topics. In this background mention the issues covered by these movement and government response to the same.

Structure of the answer:        

  • Introduction
  • Issues covered by women’s movement
  • Government response to the same
  • Final analysis

Model Answer

Women’s movement is an important variant of social movement that aimed to bring changes in the institutional arrangements, customs and beliefs in the society that subjugated women. The aim of theses movement changed over a period of time and the same is enunciated in context of post-independence women’s movement: 

  • In the post-Independence organisations such as Kasturba Memorial Trust and Bharatiya Grameen Mahila Sangh aimed to assist the rural women in developing leadership potential.
  • Further, during 1950-60’s, the main thrust of women’s movement was provision of education, health and welfare of women.
  • In late 1970s and 1980s new organisations such as Self-Employment Women’s Association (Gujarat), Working Women’s Forum (Tamil Nadu) concerned themselves with the plight of women workers in the unorganised sector.
  • During 1980s, the environmental issue was also touched by women’s movement such as Chipko movement.
  • Additionally, in 1990s the women movement was focussed on issues like dowry, alcoholism among men, wife-beating For ex- formation of Dahej Virodhi Chetna Manch in Delhi.
  • In late 1990s, for the first-time groups in Mumbai, Delhi raised issues of rape, crime and violence against women. For ex.- anti-rape movements.

The government response to these movement can be reflected from the following words:

  • The government set up women’s cells within a few ministries like Rural Development, Labour
  • Similarly, in the late 1980s the government prepared a National Perspective Plan for Women (1988-2000), which has made several recommendations relating to legal, economic, social and political status of women.
  • The 73rd and 74th amendment provided for across the board reservation of 33% in local body for women.
  • The other response of the government was seen in form of setting up of the National Commission for Women, 1992women specific programmes such as Rashtriya Mahila Kosh

Thus, in overall analysis it can be said that women’s movement were effective in bringing women’s issues back into the arena of public debate. But it is only a beginning of the long struggle ahead for equality, justice and dignity to all women.  Click to View More

Q. India has moved forward by providing fundamental rights of basic education through Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009. Analyse the challenges faced at primary level of Education in India. Also discuss the major reforms suggested at primary level in the recent draft education policy 2019.

Approach:

  • Briefly write about Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009 and its current status.
  • Discuss the challenges faced at primary level of Education in India.
  • Discuss the major reforms suggested at primary level in the recent draft education policy 2019.

Model Answer

With 86th amendment, education was made fundamental rights of the citizen under Article 21(a). Right to education act 2009 was brought in to give effect to Article 21(a). The country has moved forward in bringing every children to the school. But there still remains challenge of huge dropouts and poor learning outcomes.

Various challenges that primary level of education in the country faces are:

  • Poor teaching quality: Teachers are not given proper training. They are engaged in administrative works like implementing Midday meal schemes. 
  • Poor school infrastructure: Schools lack basic facilities like toilets and drinking water. Lack of toilet facility results in huge dropouts among girls.
  • Poor recruitment process of teachers: Since education is a state subject. Some state recruits teachers on contracts without Bachelor of education qualifications.
  • Detention policy: Students are being detained above class 5 level. Detention deters children from completing the primary level of education. Hence, increasing dropouts.
  • Poor pedagogy practices: Child friendly pedagogy is lacking in Indian schools. Curriculum and exam system promotes culture of rote learning and deters creative thinking.
  • Poor regulatory framework: Regulatory framework differs from state to state. Few states like Bihar lacks proper regulatory framework to monitor the functioning of primary schools.

These challenges have hindered India in achieving its objective of providing free and compulsory education with good learning outcomes. The country is still far from achieving the target of 6% of GDP expenditure as suggested under different national education policy.

The recent draft on national education policy 2019 has suggested following reforms keeping in mind the above challenges:

  1. To discontinue detention policy: The draft focuses on adopting continuous and comprehensive assessment (CCA), no detention policy (NDP) together. CCA and NDP if adopted together can reforms the examination system of the country. It will also promote creative learning and end rote learning system.
  2. School infrastructure: The policy suggested that small size of schools makes it operationally complex to deploy teachers. Hence the policy recommends that multiple public schools should be brought together to form a school complex. The school complexes will also include anganwadis, vocational education facilities, and an adult education centre. Each school complex will be a semi-autonomous unit providing integrated education across all stages from early childhood to secondary education.
  3. Teacher management:  Draft Policy recommends that teachers should be deployed with a particular school complex for at least five to seven years.  Further, teachers will not be allowed to participate in any non-teaching activities (such as cooking mid-day meals or participating in vaccination campaigns) during school hours that could affect their teaching capacities.
  4. Teacher training: the policy recommended to replace the existing B.Ed. programme by a four year integrated B.Ed. that combines high quality content, pedagogy and practical training.

The above recommendation can bring significant positive changes in learning outcomes of the children. There is need to effectively implement the target of 6 percent of GDP expenditure and to effectively implement the recommendation of draft policy.Click to View More

Q. To resolve the issue of unemployment, there is a need for multi-prong approach. In this light discuss the steps needed to resolve this long-standing issue and also mention the measures taken by the government in this regard.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Steps needed for unemployment
  • Steps taken by the government
  • Way forward

Model Answer

Unemployment is a situation where person is capable of working both physically and mentally at the existing wage rate, but does not get a job to work. As per the recent statistics unemployment rate in India rose to 7.2% in 2019.  Unemployment represent itself in various forms such as: disguised, seasonal, cyclical, frictional unemployment etc. 

To tackle the issue of unemployment following steps must be adopted:

  • There is a need for rapid industrialization so as to shift the labour forces from agriculture to manufacturing sector.
  • The curriculum at education centers should be changed to focus on learning and skill development.
  • Self-employment must be encouraged with the help of liability free loansgovernment assistance etc.
  • Incubation centers need to be promoted to cultivate original business ideas that will be financially viable.
  • Government as well as business houses should seek to invite more foreign collaboration and capital investment so as to increase avenue for employment.
  • The labour intensive manufacturing sectors such as food processing, leather and footwear need to be promoted to create employment.

Further, to increase the avenue for employment, the government has taken various steps such as:

  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) to provide social security by guaranteeing a minimum of 100 days paid work.
  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) with objective of enabling a large number of Indian youth to take up industry-relevant skill training.
  • Start Up India Scheme aims at developing an ecosystem that promotes and nurtures entrepreneurship.
  • Stand Up India Scheme/ MUDRA scheme to facilitate bank loans between Rs 10 lakh and Rs. 1 crore to at least one SC or ST borrower and at least one women borrower per bank branch for setting up a greenfield enterprise.

Thus, to tackle unemployment a strategy of multi prong approach need to be adopted so as to tap demographic dividend.  

Q. The reason for malnutrition/ hunger are multidimensional. In this light, discuss the factors contributing to malnutrition and also suggest suitable measures to improve malnutrition in India.

Structure of the answer:   

  • Introduction
  • Causes of malnutrition in India
  • Measures to overcome
  • Conclusion

Model Answer

Malnutrition is a physical state that includes undernutrition (wasting, stunting, underweight), inadequate vitamins or minerals, overweight, obesity, and resulting diet-related non-communicable diseases. As per Reports 31.4% of children are malnourished.

The factors contributing to malnutrition are as follows:

  • Despite increase in food grain production access to rice, wheat and other cereals has not increased at the same rate, resulting in malnutrition.
  • Further, the relative increase in consumption of unhealthy food such as fast food, processed food, and sugary beverages has also contributed to the problem.
  • The PDS that was viewed as a critical nutritional supplement is facing the issue of poor targeting e. having 40% leakages.
  • The lack of availability of safe drinking water also hinders proper digestion and assimilation of food.
  • Poor sanitation and environmental conditions further lead to spread of diseases that stunt children’s growth.
  • Lastly, there is lack of adequate awareness about nutritional needs of infants and young children.

To above causes need to be tackled on multiple fronts by adopting following steps:

  • There is a need for systematic data collection at the district level for formulation of policy and programme.
  • An institutional mechanism in form of a Food and nutrition commission should be established, headed by the Prime Minister.
  • The fortified foods need to be incorporated into a mid-day meal, public distribution shops and anganwadi centres.
  • The humongous task also need collaboration with civil society to educate women about family planning and child nourishment.
  • The above steps need to be adopted in association with increasing awareness about exclusive breastfeeding, use of antenatal care, consumption of Iron Folic Acid

Finally, the use of technology needs to be promoted to improve the flow of information and to encourage greater policy coherence.

Q. The suburbanisation occurring at a relatively early stage of India’s urban development is creating new challenges for Indian cities. Enumerate the reasons and suggest remedies.

Approach:

  • Brief introduction about suburbanisation phenomenon in most urbanising countries.
  • Enumerating the reasons why it is occurring at a relatively early stage of India’s urban development.
  • Highlight the challenges it is creating for Indian cities and suggest ways forward.

Model Answer

A 2013 World Bank report, “Urbanization beyond Municipal Boundaries”, found that suburban areas (or Suburbs) are generating higher economic growth and employment than the city. Although “suburbanization” is a worldwide phenomenon, it usually occurs in middle to advanced stages of development. In India, it’s happening much more quickly in India than expected.

Reasons:

  • Inadequacy of cities to provide affordable and quality options has resulted in suburbanization. 
  • Suburbs are seen as safer and cheaper place to live and raise a family due to lower population density, lower crime, and a more stable population.
  • Increasing land prices and office rents have pushed companies to suburban areas.
  • With increased incomes, people have the ability to pay more to travel and commute longer distances to work and back home.
  • Indian cities impose quite draconian land use regulations, rent control system and building height restrictions on their cities lead to excessive suburbanization.
  • Suburban municipalities can offer tax breaks and regulatory incentives to attract
  • industrial land users to their area.
  • The development of robust and sophisticated infrastructure is possible only in the peripheries of the city where land is available in plenty and the cost of acquisition is low.
  • Growth of urban agglomerations poses many economic, ecological and institutional
  • challenges which are as follows:
  • Access to – and the quality of – water, sanitation, and electricity is much worse in the urban periphery than at the core.
  • Access to quality and affordable health and education services.
  • With commercialization of agricultural land and encroachment on forest , the areas ecosystem of the region is threatened.  
  • Unplanned urbanisation and uncontrolled encroachment of natural water storage and drainage systems has spelt disaster.
  • Proponents of containing suburbanization argue that it leads to urban decay and a concentration of lower income residents in the inner city.

Solution to the woes of our cities requires a holistic approach to urban reform.

  • Steps are required to address the lacunae in the current rural-urban categorization system.
  • Provide efficient services and reform governance structures to boost overall economic development.
  • India requires robust institutional mechanism to govern land use conversion and land valuation.
  • The efforts to leverage the potential of land markets as a financing tool needs to be complemented by an integrated urban planning process.
  • Indian cities also need to improve connectivity between metropolitan cores and peripheries to ensure ease of mobility for individuals and business.

Third and fifth five year plans advised urban planning to adopt regional approach and to create metropolitan planning regions to take care of the growing areas outside administrative city limits. We need to improve existing urban amenities while simultaneously addressing the problems of suburban sprawl. 

About: Post Matric Scholarship for students belonging to Scheduled Castes (PMS-SC), Benefits and Features

Cabinet nod to Rs 59,000 core investment in post-matric scholarship scheme for SC students

In News:

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the Prime Minister has approved major and transformatory changes in the Centrally Sponsored Scheme ‘Post Matric Scholarship to students belonging to Scheduled Castes (PMS-SC)’.
  • The Cabinet also approved a total investment of Rs. 59,000 Cr or the scheme.

About: Post Matric Scholarship for students belonging to Scheduled Castes (PMS-SC)

  • Post Matric Scholarship scheme is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme and implemented through governments of States and Union Territories.
  • The scheme provides financial assistance to the Scheduled Caste (SC) students studying at post matriculation or post-secondary stage (class 11th and onwards) to enable them to complete their education.
  • The scheme is operational under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • These scholarships are available to SC students for studies in India only.
  • These scholarships are awarded by the government of the State/Union Territory to which the applicant actually belongs i.e. permanently settled.

News Summary:

  • The Central Govt has committed to give a big push and further impetus to this effort so that the GER (Higher Education) of SCs would reach up to the National standards within the 5 year period.
  • As part of this push, the cabinet has approved major and transformatory changes to the ‘Post Matric Scholarship to students belonging to Scheduled Castes (PMS-SC)’ to upgrade it.

Revised PMS-SC:

  • The Scheme aims to benefit 4 Crore SC Students in the next 5 years so they can successfully complete their higher education.
    • As per the government, the scheme will help in bringing an estimated 1.36 Crore of the poorest students, who are currently not continuing their education beyond 10th standard, into higher education in the next five years.

  • The Cabinet has approved a total investment of Rs. 59,048 Cr of which Central Government would spend 60% and the balance would be spent by the State Govts.
  • The Central Assistance which was around Rs 1,100 crore annually during 2017-18 to 2019-20 would be increased more than 5 times to be around Rs 6,000 core annually during 2020-21 to 2025-26.

Benefits:

  • The Post Matric scheme for SC students will allow students to pursue any Post Matric course starting from Class 11th and onwards, with the government meeting the cost of education.
  • The value of scholarship, for complete duration of the course, includes the following among others:
    • Maintenance allowance to both hostellers and day scholars
    • Book allowance for students pursuing correspondence courses
    • Book bank facility for specified courses, and
    • Reimbursement of compulsory non-refundable fees

Features:

  • The focus of the scheme would be on enrolling the poorest students, timely payments, comprehensive accountability, continuous monitoring and total transparency.
  • A campaign will be launched to enroll the students, from the poorest households passing the 10th standard, in the higher education courses of their choice.
  • Online Platform: The scheme will run on an online platform to ensure transparency and timely delivery of assistance without any delays.
  • Verification: The States will undertake fool-proof verification of the eligibility, caste status, Aadhar identification and bank account details on the online portal.
  • DBT: Starting from 2021-22, the Central Government will release its 60% share directly into the bank accounts of the students, through DBT mode, after ensuring that the State Government has released their share.
  • Monitoring: Monitoring mechanism will be further strengthened through conduct of social audits, annual third party evaluation, and half-yearly self-audited reports from each institution.
  • The scheme also replaces the existing ‘Committee Liability’ system and aims at greater involvement of the Central Government in the scheme.
  • Committed Liability: It refers to the total expenditure incurred in the terminal year of the Five year Plan by States/UTs under Centrally Sponsored schemes of scholarships which then became the committed liability of the States/UTs for every year of the subsequent Five year Plan.

 Social Issues

About: Emergency use authorisation (EUA) or Emergency License

About: Emergency use authorisation (EUA) or Emergency License

  • Vaccines, like medicines, require the approval of a regulatory authority before they can be administered to people.
  • In India, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) is the national regulatory body for Indian pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
  • The final approval is granted only after the completion of the trials and evaluation of the results. The overall approval process takes a long time, in order to ensure that the medicine or vaccine is completely safe and efficient.
  • The quickest approval for any vaccine until now happened 4 and a half years after it was developed. This was for a vaccine for mumps, granted in the 1960s.
  • However, in emergency conditions, like the present one, regulatory authorities across the world have developed mechanisms to grant emergency use authorisation (interim approval) to medicines, vaccines etc.
  • According to US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the drug regulator in the United States, the public must know that the medication/vaccine has only been granted an EUA and not a full approval.

Conditions for granting an EUA:

  • EUAs are granted to medicines, vaccines, or different medical devices only if there is no alternate option available in adequate quantities.
  • According to the US FDA, an EUA can be granted only after it has been decided that potential benefits are more than the potential risks of the vaccine (or medication).
  • Thus, an EUA can be granted only after adequate information on the efficacy of the vaccine/medicine has been generated from phase-three trials and cannot be granted only on the information from phase-1 or phase-2 trials.
  • For Covid-19 vaccines, the FDA has specified that it will grant an EUA only if the Phase 3 trials confirm that the vaccine is at least 50 per cent efficient in stopping the illness.
  • Moreover, this knowledge would have to be generated from over 3,000 individuals who have been a part of the trials.

Examples of EUA:

  • EUA is a comparatively recent phenomenon. The FDA granted its first EUA for the Tamiflu drug for infants and younger kids for the remedy of H1N1 infection.
  • Since then, a number of EUAs have been granted, for medicines, diagnostics, and medical gadgets and tools, like ventilators. However, an EUA has not been given till now for a vaccine.
  • The earlier EUAs were given during emergencies like the Ebola virus, Zika virus and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus.
  • Several EUAs have been granted throughout the present pandemic as well. Drugs like remdesivir or faviparir have obtained emergency use authorisation for remedy of Covid-19 illness in India.

Importance of vaccination for Covid:

  • Covid-19 is a highly infectious virus which impacts the body in different ways with a wide range of severity.
  • The level of viral load a person is exposed to, the immunity status or pre-existing health conditions may be factors which influence this severity.
  • It has not been easy to predict who can be safe from it, as even young persons have become severely ill or died, after getting infected.
  • Due to this unpredictable nature of the disease, everyone should get vaccinated after a safe and effective vaccine is available.
  • Moreover, a vaccine leads to a good immune response which is likely to last longer than a natural infection. Thus, vaccination will provide stronger protection from the disease.

Criteria for selecting priority groups for vaccination:

  • The two main criteria for selection of the initial groups to be offered the vaccine are essentiality and vulnerability.
  • Healthcare providers who test, treat or counsel persons infected with the Covid-19 are both essential service providers and also very vulnerable to becoming infected. Thus, they will be at the top of the priority list for vaccination everywhere.
  • Other essential services include sanitation, security, transport and those involved in the production of essential goods and supplies.
  • Applying the vulnerability criterion, elderly persons and people with known co-morbidities (like diabetes, heart disease etc.) which enhance the risk of severe illness or death are a high priority.
    • The problem in identifying this group is that several persons who have these conditions may be unaware of them, because of the weak health services in urban slums, small towns or villages.
    • One option in such cases is to apply the age criterion and move steadily down decade by decade from the 60+ age group to the 20+ age group.

Geographic strategy for vaccination:

  • The right strategy would be to start vaccination in cities where the crowd density is higher, co-morbidity levels are more, factors like air pollution are severe and health services are stronger.
  • The experience of vaccination in cities will be helpful as the immunisation programme moves towards small towns and rural areas.
  • However, if there are hotspots of rapidly increasing cases in any part of the country, urgent immunisation of susceptible persons should be done in such places.

Vaccination roadmap in India

  • India’s vaccination strategy will depend on the type of vaccine available. Some of the successful vaccines will probably have to be stored at only 2–8°C or even at room temperatures.
  • If India can get access to these vaccines, the existing supply chain logistics will be adequate in the initial stages, in which groups of essential workers and the elderly will be immunised.
  • The main challenge will be the actual administration of the vaccine, as an intramuscular injection in two doses.
  • Those who are at present authorised to administer such injections are doctors, nurses and auxiliary nurse midwives. Their numbers are inadequate in many parts of the country.
  • Those who are available will also be busy providing other health services, including care of Covid-19 infected persons. Thus, additional personnel (like medical, dental and nursing students) may have to be trained to administer (give) the vaccines.

Future Outlook

  • The future depends on how the virus behaves over the next year and the speed at which immunisation programme can cover the country.
  • Hence over the next year, it is important to observe public health advisories on masks, physical distancing, hand washing and avoiding super spreader events.

 Social Issues

Urbanisation key to driving growth engines Editorial 3rd Aug’19 FinancialExpress

Headline : Urbanisation key to driving growth engines Editorial 3rd Aug’19 FinancialExpress

Details :

Development and urbanisation:

  • Development and urbanisation are two sides of the same coin.
  • No society in recent history remained agrarian while adequately providing for its population.
  • Urbanisation aggregates human activity—aggregation leads to specialisation, specialisation to increased productivity. This enables greater availability of goods, delivery of services, increased wages, and job opportunities.
  • Urban areas are engines of growth in any modern economy.

Example of China:

  • China is a shining example of how urbanisation drives economic growth.
  • China rapidly urbanised from 26.4% in 1990 to 59.2% today, with the impact of dramatically improved quality of life and life expectancy.
  • This also has an effect on China’s specialised workforce and productivity improvements—making China a Top 2 economy with nominal GDP of $14.1 trillion.
  • In contrast, India is at $2.7 trillion, moving towards the target of $5 trillion by 2025.

India lagging the world in urbanisation:

  • The world, on average, is at 55.3% urbanisation, whereas India lags at 34% (see graphic).
  • India has been slow to urbanise because of the fixation on being a village-based society.

Leads to inequity:

  • Most planners still look to Gandhiji’s sentiments from 1947 on this topic—‘The future of India lies in its villages’.
  • Over the last 5 decades, complexity has increased, people’s economic needs and aspirations have grown, and it is impossible to supply adequate resources to India’s six lakh villages.
  • Keeping India’s population in villages while being unable to meet their economic needs has resulted in high inequity.

Rural areas with agriculture dependency can only see little progress:

  • Rural employment is mostly in agriculture. 42.7% of India’s workforce in 2016-17 was engaged in the agriculture sector, seeing only a 3.4% growth rate and contributing only 17.3% to the GDP.
  • Meanwhile, 57.3% of the workforce was engaged in industry and services, growing at 5.5% and 7.6%, respectively.
  • The income differential is very high, with the average wages of dependents on agriculture to industry to services being in the ratio 1:3:4 .
  • Left unaddressed, this large group of agricultural dependents will always be limited to a sub-aspirational existence—with increasing distress and perpetual dependence on subsidies from the government.

Leading to urban migration:

  • Lack of opportunities is also accelerating large-scale internal migration towards India’s few urban growth engines—such as Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, and others.
  • 2011 Census indicates 43,324 uninhabited villages, presumably abandoned due to migration.

But our current urban areas can mostly only accommodate contract labour:

  • Employment is unable to keep up with the inflow.
  • Due to high costs, it is uncompetitive to set up industries in cities.
  • Without industries to absorb the incoming rural population, they are mostly making low wages as contract labour.
  • They can’t keep up with living costs—resulting in a growing urban population with unfavourable living conditions.

Indian urbanisation skewed towards just a few cities and towns:

  • The 2011 census indicates there are 7,933 towns/cities housing 31.16% of the population, with an average population of 47,536.
  • Of these, 465 towns have a population over one lakh and 53 cities, over ten lakh.
  • This means the remaining 7,468 towns must have significantly lesser populations than the 47,536 average.
  • The upcoming 2021 census will inform us of the current situation.

Deficit infra in these urban areas:

  • Large cities are reeling under the strain of overpopulation, with problems like inadequate infrastructure and rocketing living costs.
  • Because of the policymakers’ focus on villages, cities aren’t allocated enough to develop infrastructure to handle their rapidly expanding populations.

Need a systemic plan for urban migration:

  • A compelling solution to this unstable situation is the systematic shift of people from rural to urban areas.
  • Census data must be used to suitably identify 4,000-5,000 smaller towns all over India and develop them to absorb the rural-to-urban shift sustainably.
  • GoI’s Smart Cities initiative has identified 100 cities so far, focusing on roads, solar, water, and control centres.

While expanding to 5,000 towns, certain critical aspects must be incorporated:

  1. Infrastructure and connectivity:
  • From the planning stage, it is essential to prioritise providing infrastructure like roads and airport access, internet connectivity, and other amenities.
  • Not only is state-of-the-art infrastructure crucial for quality of life, it also provides the logistical backbone for a productive industrial environment.
  • Moreover, commissioning large-scale infrastructure development will also boost the construction sector—another means of mass employment.
  • We need strategic investments from both the central and state governments in these towns for parallelised infrastructure development.
  1. Labour-intensive industry (LII) clusters:
  • Creating many LIIs in and around the 5,000 towns is the best way to provide gainful employment to the transitioning population.
  • By focusing on the right type of industries—garments, fabrication, electronics assembly, automobiles, so on—this move will also boost India’s export capabilities.
  • With focused skilling programs, LIIs will offer excellent income opportunities to the incoming population.
  • Even a lower wage than cities will go a long way towards quality of life, especially since living costs are lower in towns.
  • Women, who cannot afford to move long distance from home, can also now find employment near their villages and towns, commute and earn a living.
  • Governments, apart from focusing investment here, must also provide incentives for the private sector to create LIIs.
  1. New sustainable technologies:
  • While urbanisation improves delivery of services, it poses several challenges like congestion, restricted mobility, high waste production, and pollution.
  • India must invest in understanding state-of-the-art technologies and implement them.
  • The newly developed towns will have the advantage of getting sustainable infrastructure integrated from the planning stage itself, including:
    • Renewables like solar panels and wind turbines
    • Planned tree cover to offset urban spread
    • Water treatment facilities based on phytoremediation and other plant-based technologies
    • Integrated recycling
    • EV infrastructure
    • Public transportation with last-mile connectivity
  • Older cities will need careful planning to incorporate new technologies into unwieldy city plans.
  1. Planning for capacity:
  • Indian policymaking has a tiresome tradition of planning projects based on latest available data—usually outdated—like the previous census.
  • By the time projects are completed 5-10 years later, they are operationally overloaded.
  • Instead, it is necessary to plan projects for sewage treatment, airports, roads, water supply, and so on with at least a 20-30-year forecast with provisions for future expansion.
  • Again, China paves the way—many major airports have received the go-ahead to build a third runway and increase seating capacity by forecasting the demand to 2030.

Conclusion:

  • Rapid urbanisation is essential to sustain India’s impressive 10-year growth trajectory and meet PM Modi’s 2025 economic target of $5 trillion.
  • The proposed network of small towns and industry clusters can become India’s engine of growth and provide jobs at scale, thus improving overall economic prosperity.
  • Sustainable urbanisation can be the force multiplier to mobilise India’s potential.

Importance:

GS Paper III: Economy

Section : Editorial Analysis

Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)

Headline : Mobile scheme to quit tobacco has over 2 million users in India

Details :

In News:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently released its 7th report on global tobacco epidemic.
  • The report analyses national efforts to implement the most effective measures from the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

 

About: Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)

  • The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is a treaty adopted by the 56th World Health Assembly held in Geneva, Switzerland in 2003.
  • This World Health Organization (WHO) treaty came into force in 2005.
  • The FCTC, is a supranational agreement that seeks “to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke“.
  • To achieve this, it seeks to enact a set of universal standards stating the dangers of tobacco and limiting its use in all forms worldwide
  • Demand reduction provisions: The core demand reduction provisions in the WHO FCTC are:
    • Price and tax measures to reduce the demand for tobacco
    • Non-price measures to reduce the demand for tobacco, including regulation of the contents of tobacco products, packaging and labelling of tobacco products, Education, communication, training and public awareness etc.
  • Supply reduction provisions: The core supply reduction provisions in the WHO FCTC are:
    • Illicit trade in tobacco products;
    • Sales to and by minors; and,
    • Provision of support for economically viable alternative activities.

 

About: “MPOWER” interventions:

  • To help countries implement the WHO FCTC, WHO introduced MPOWER, a package of technical measures and resources, each of which corresponds to at least one provision of the WHO FCTC.
  • MPOWER builds the capacity of countries to implement certain provisions of the WHO FCTC.
  • The MPOWER report was launched in 2007 to promote government action on six tobacco control strategies in-line with the WHO FCTC to:
    • Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies
    • Protect people from tobacco smoke
    • Offer help to quit tobacco use
    • Warn people about the dangers of tobacco
    • Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
    • Raise taxes on tobacco
  • “MPOWER” interventions, have been shown to save lives and reduce costs from averted healthcare expenditure.

 

About: Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products

  • llicit trade poses a serious threat to public health because it increases access to often cheaper tobacco products, thus fueling the tobacco epidemic and undermining tobacco control policies.
  • It also causes substantial losses in government revenues, and at the same time contributes to the funding of international criminal activities.
  • In response to the growing illicit trade in tobacco products, often across borders, The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products was adopted in 2012.
  • It is the first protocol to the WHO FCTC, and builds upon and complements Article 15 of the WHO FCTC, which addresses means of countering illicit trade in tobacco products, a key aspect of a comprehensive tobacco control policy.
  • The Protocol has the objective of eliminating all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products through a package of measures to be taken by countries acting in cooperation with each other.

 

News Summary:

  • About 1.1 billion people are currently smokers, out of which about half of those who use tobacco will die as a result.
  • In 2017, a Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) found that 38.5 per cent of adult smokers and 33.2 per cent adult users of smokeless forms of tobacco had attempted to quit.
  • The WHO’s 7th report on global tobacco epidemic “Monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies” was recently released, special reference about India’s efforts in helping smokers quit.

Findings

At the world level:

  • Remarkable progress has been made in global tobacco control since MPOWER was introduced.
  • Progress is being made, with 2.4 billion people living in countries now providing comprehensive cessation services (2 billion more than in 2007). However, only 23 countries provide cessation services at best-practice level.
    • Tobacco cessation services include national toll-free quit lines, “mCessation” services to reach larger populations via mobile phones, counselling by primary health care providers and cost-covered nicotine replacement therapy.
  • Nearly two thirds of countries (121 of 194) – comprising 63% of the world’s population – have now introduced at least one MPOWER
  • However, the report reveals that lives are still at risk from tobacco, with billions of people living in countries that have not yet fully implemented even one of six effective measures to control tobacco recommended by the organisation.
  • About 2.7 billion people still have no protection from the illness, disability and death caused by tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure, or from associated economic, environmental and social harms.

Findings on India

  • India is the second largest consumer of tobacco products, with more than 200 million users of smokeless tobacco and 276 million consumers of tobacco overall.
  • India advanced to best-practice level with their tobacco use cessation services.
  • The GATS survey conducted in India in 2009–10 revealed that 47% of current smokers and 46% of current users of smokeless tobacco planned to quit tobacco use eventually.
  • Considering the high interest in quitting among tobacco users, the Government of India launched a countrywide tobacco cessation programme and national toll-free quitline in May 2016.
  • India is among countries with the highest level of achievement in reducing tobacco use among the youth, and also in motivating users to quit.

 

India’s efforts in helping smokers quit.

  • The National Tobacco Control Programme
  • The mCessation programme being implemented by the Indian government with support from the WHO and International Telecommunication Union’s Be He@lthy, Be mobile

 

About: National Tobacco Control Programme

Government of India launched the National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) in the year 2007-08.

Aim:

  • create awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco consumption,
  • reduce the production and supply of tobacco products,
  • ensure effective implementation of the provisions under “The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003” (COTPA)
  • help the people quit tobacco use, and
  • facilitate implementation of strategies for prevention and control of tobacco advocated by WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control .

Objectives :

  • To bring about greater awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco use and Tobacco Control Laws.
  • To facilitate effective implementation of the Tobacco Control Laws.
  • The objective of this programme is to control tobacco consumption and minimize the deaths caused by it.

 

Be He@lthy, Be Mobile initiative

  • It harnesses the power and reach of mobile phones to address the non-communicable disease (NCD) risk factors by educating people to make healthier lifestyle choices to help prevent and manage NCDs via their phones.
  • The initiative uses mobile phone technology to deliver disease prevention and management information directly to mobile phone users, and strengthens health systems by providing training to health workers.

 

About m-Cessation Programme

  • As a part of Digital India initiative, mCessation programme was launched using text messages in 2016.
  • It uses two-way messaging between the individual seeking to quit tobacco use and programme specialists providing them dynamic support.
  • The programme allows people who want to quit tobacco use to register by giving a missed call to a dedicated national number.
  • The programme’s progress is monitored in real-time through an online dashboard that details the number of registrations.
  • The programme has shown strong outcomes in terms of health and outreach, and provides a huge opportunity to help several million tobacco users who want to quit.
  • mTobaccoCessation version-2 has also been launched recently, which can deliver content through SMS or interactive voice response in 12 languages.

Note: MCessation could be included in PHC (Primary Health Care)-level advice to enable maximum reach.

Section : Social Issues

Everything about Autism

Headline : AIIMS doctors develop application to help in timely diagnosis of autism 

Details : 

The News

  • In the backdrop of the World Autism Awareness Day, doctors at AIIMS have developed a mobile app for early diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  • World Autism Awareness Day is observed on April 2 every year.

About the App

  • The app developed is called PedNeuroAiimsDiagnostics.
  • It is a questionnaire-based app which has 2 sections of questionnaire
  1. Section A has questions to assess the social interaction and communication skills
  2. Section B has questions to analyse the response given to questions in section A.
  • Based on the response to the questionnaire the app analyses if the child has any of the Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Accordingly the following cases are considered to be suffering with ASD
  • A child who cannot babble or point or gesture by 12 months
  • Couldn’t say single word by 16 months
  • Couldn’t say any two-word spontaneous phrases by 24 months
  • Loss of language or social skills at any age.
  • The App is easy to use with even a paediatrician can assess the test results.
  • The app is very sensitive in that detects 98% of cases.
  • It is also very specific in that it predicts specifically which of the ASD in 92% of the cases.

 

In focus: Autism Spectrum Disorders

About ASD

  • Autism is a developmental disorder associated with the neurological condition of the child.
  • It shows signs in the first 3 years of child development.
  • Autism is a brain malfunction mainly associated with impairments in 3 main areas
  • Communication skills
  • Social interactions 
  • Repetitive and restricted activities
  • Autism mainly occurs due to abnormalities in brain structure and function which can occur due to varied reasons.
  • As a result Autism is grouped under a spectrum of disorders called Autism Spectrum Disorders.

 

 

Common behavior pattern

  • In general autistic individual s have different ways of ‘sensing’ their world
  • Lack of emotional connection
  • Lack of eye contact while communicating
  • Not reacting or inconsistently reacting when their name is called out
  • Hypersensitivity to noise
  • Lost in own thoughts
  • Hitting or biting themselves
  • Lack of non-verbal communication
  • Inability to follow objects visually
  • Inability to make friends
  • Repetitive body movements
  • Repeating their own sentences

 Causes

  • There is no single cause for Autism.
  • Different children suffering from Autism are due to different causes.
  • Some commonly identified factors include
  • Gene mutations: No single gene is associated with Autism.
  • Environmental stresses
  • Parental age at the time of conception
  • Maternal illnesses during pregnancy
  • Mother who is a victim of drug and alcohol abuse
  • Oxygen deprivation to the child’s brain etc
  • However it should be noted that there is no conclusive direct correlation with any of the factors above listed.

 

Types

  • Since no two individual suffer from Autism due to same cause, different conditions are grouped under ASD.
  • It can vary between mild learning and social disability, to more complex emotional and physical disabilities.

Asperger’s syndrome

  • Mild form of Autism
  • Obsessive interest in a particular object or subject

Pervasive developmental disorder

  • This is more severe than Asperger’s syndrome
  • No two people suffering from the disease will exhibit the same symptoms
  • Common symptoms include
  • Poor social interaction
  • Impaired language skills

 

Autistic disorder

  • Most severe form of ASD.
  • Multiple impairments
  • Mental retardation and seizures

Note: Rett syndrome and Childhood disintegrative disorder are rare ASDs

Section : social issues

Everything about HAJ Policy

About Haj

  • Haj is one of the most complex organizational tasks undertaken by Government of India outside its borders.
  • It is a five day religious congregation and a virtually a year-long managerial exercise.
  • Indian Haj pilgrims who constitute one of the largest national group perform Haj through two streams:
  1. The Haj Committee of India (HCOI)
  2. Registered Private Tour Operators (PTOs)
  • HCOI established under the Haj Committee Act 2002 is responsible for making the arrangements for pilgrims performing Haj through them. All arrangements for the HCoI pilgrims in Saudi Arabia are coordinated by the Consulate General of India, Jeddah.
  • The Haj quota for India is fixed by the Saudi Arabian Government.

New Haj Policy

  • The 2018 Haj pilgrimage will be in line with the new Haj policy.
  • The committee for the New Haj policy was headed by former Parliamentary Affairs Secretary Afzal Amanullah and it submitted its recommendations to Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
  • Women Haj pilgrims are required to be accompanied by a mehram – a male relative who she cannot marry, such as father, brother or son. However, the rule may not be insisted upon if they are over 45 but do not have a male mehram, and their “school of thought permits” them to do so, the committee said.

Its other major recommendations include:

  • The Saudi Arabian government should be consulted regarding the possibility of Haj travel by ship, which would be cheaper than air travel.
  • The quota for mehram travellers may be increased from 200 to 500.
  • The special quota for pilgrims from Jammu and Kashmir may be increased from 1,500 to 2,000.
  • A “robust portal” to be developed for the processing of applications for private tour operators.
  • The quota for pilgrims travelling under the ambit of Haj Committee and those through private tour operators be allocated at 70:30.

What are the various forms in which gender based violence manifests. Discuss the causes that lead to it. Do you agree that it remains biggest impediment to the advancement of women in India?

Approach:
● Introduce with what gender violence is
● Talk about various forms of violence – preferably under different categories
● Talk about the causes – can break it into various categories.
● Discuss aspects of women development that get affected by gender violence
● Conclude by summarizing and giving brief suggestions to end gender violence.

Answer:
Gender based violence is primarily used to refer to acts of violence committed against women.
A result of unequal distribution of power in society between women and men, it gets
manifested throughout the entire lifecycle of the women- right from the womb of the mother till death.

Takes place in many forms:
Gender based violence takes place in many forms, including physical violence – through assault, domestic violence, honour killings; sexual violence – groping, workplace harassment, sexual assault; verbal violence – through use of abusive and filthy language; social violence – like humiliating a woman or her family in public; emotional violence– by depriving women of love , care , concern; financial violence – by depriving basic financial means.

Various causes of gender based violence includes:
Socio-Cultural factors:
● The patriarchal notions of ownership over women’s bodies, sexuality, labor,
reproductive rights, mobility and level of autonomy encourage violence against women.
● Dogmatic religious beliefs with deep-rooted ideas of male superiority are also used to
legitimize control over women.
Economic factors:
● Poverty, lack of education and livelihood opportunities, and inadequate access to basic
services like shelter, food, water can increase exposure to gender violence, including
forced prostitution or survival sex.
Legal-Administrative factors:
● Inadequate legal framework, State’s inability to enforce laws, unequal access to justice,
gender bias in legal institutions and mechanisms, slow justice system result in culture of
impunity for violence and abuse .
Individual factors:
● Threat/fear of stigma, isolation and social exclusion and exposure to further violence at
the hands of the perpetrator, the community or the authorities, including arrest,
detention, ill-treatment and punishment force women to suffer silently.
Yes, gender violence is one of the biggest hurdles in women’s advancement due to following factors:
● It seriously affects all aspects of women’s health- physical, sexual and reproductive,
mental and behavioural health, thus prevents them from realizing their full potential.
● Violence and threat of violence affects women’s ability to participate actively, and as
equals, in many forms of social and political relationships.
● Workplace harassment and domestic violence has an impact on women’s participation
in workforce and their economic empowerment.
● Sexual harassment limits the educational opportunities and achievements of girls.
Thus, half of our human capital will not be able to realize its true potential till gender violence is curbed in all its forms. The underlying causes must be addressed though adequate legal framework and its strict enforcement, building institutional capability, along with gender sensitization campaigns to change attitudes towards women.

Effects of Globalization on Indian Culture and Society

Effects of Globalization on Indian Culture

Globalisation has affected what we eat and the way we prepare food (Mcdonaldization), what we wear , purchase etc( Walmartization).

There is trend toward homogenization of culture with similar food habits, dressing pattern, music, news , TV programs, movies etc. However, there is also increasing tendency toward Glocalization of Culture.

Glocalization refers to mixing of Global with Local. Eg Foreign TV channels like Star, Sony , Cartoon Network use Indian languages.

Other Effects:-

1. Development of Hybrid Culture– Due to increase exposure to different cultures, there emerge a 3rd culture or hybrid culture. It accept the change and preserve the tradition in social and cultural life.

2. Language– Globalization give rise to increased use of English with people becoming more bilingual and multilingual than before. On the other hand, over emphasis on English leads to decline and even extinction of various language. Eg BO

3. Religion– Globalization leads to changes in the religion and practices. Now, secular aspect of religion like honesty, non violence, brotherhood are promoted. There is also increasing commodification of various religious practices with rise of sects and cults.

4. Festivals– There is general trend toward decline in ritual aspect of culture and growth of secular festivals. Eg Father’s day.

Effects of Globalization on Indian Society

1. Marriage– With Globalization, there is increasing trend toward civil marriage over ritual marriage, love marriage over arranged marriage. Inter caste and inter religious marriages are also increasing.

2. Family– Globalization has increased the pace of transformation of families from Joint families to either Nuclear families or Extended families. Due to declining Joint family system, Elderly population suffers from isolation, powerlessness and depression.

3. Education– Globalization catalyses the rate of literacy. It also increases investment in education and global education system. However there is more and more commercialization of education.