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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 20th December, 2016

  • December 21, 2016
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Dec 2016, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 20th December, 2016

 

GOVERNANCE 

 

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

 

Bottlenecks in Policy Implementation and Formulation – Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

 

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

Water, sanitation and hygiene are sectors which are taking a centre stage in terms of policy formulation in most of the emerging and developing countries. With the shift in approach towards sustainable development, the Sustainable Development Goals also lay alot of emphasis on WASH. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is an example of the growing importance of these facilities.

However, still there is a huge imbalance in the access to WASH services across different segments of the population. In India alone, 128 million lack safe water services and about 840 million people don’t have sanitation services

 

Policy Analysis

The analysis of policies formulated by the Central and State Government has to be done on the basis of the robustness of WASH policies. The assessment of robustness was based on the comprehensiveness of the policy document. The comprehensiveness in turn will be measured by the following four parameters:

  • The beneficiary segments;
  • Barriers faced by the different segments;
  • Strategies that would be used to improve outcomes; and
  • The type of outcomes, namely, adequacy, accessibility, affordability, and quality and safety.

The robustness of the policy can be classified as high, moderate, or low depending on how many of the above four parameters have been clearly addressed in the policy. The better the inclusion and the addressing of these parameters, higher will be the effectiveness of these policies in improving WASH outcomes.

 

National and State policies

The various sectors covered under WASH are concurrent subjects and hence policies have been formulated by both, the Central government and respective State governments. On comparison and appraisal of these policies, it was found that WASH policies formulated by State governments have low robustness as compared to that of national policies even though the state policies are closer to the site of implementation. The capacity for policymaking of State governments thus needs to be further strengthened.

On an international comparison with WASH policies in 10 other developing countries within Asia and Africa, it was observed that policy robustness of WASH policies from India was lower than those of the other countries. There is a large scope for improvement in policy robustness for India. In terms of numbers, only 22 per cent of the WASH policies from India could be classified as highly robust, as compared to the 75 per cent number of the other developing countries.

To ensure effective implementation of policies and get the best results, there should be a synchronisation of beneficiary segments, barriers, strategies, and outcomes.

 

Beneficiary Identification

Proper identification of the beneficiaries in a policy is a key component for the success of a policy. Accurate beneficiary identification is also helpful in achieving the target of universal coverage for various policies.

The needs and barriers for various segments of the population differ and consequently the strategies need to be customised accordingly. Policymakers need to move away from a “one size fits all” approach to a more beneficiary-centric approach.

Approach to Beneficiary Identification

A traditional approach followed to classify the beneficiaries has been on the basis of geographical and social context (GSS). In this method, the population is divided as rural, urban, low income and so on. Further, a new approach being followed is the segregation of beneficiaries on the basis of the human life cycle (LCS). Beneficiaries are segmented as children, adolescents, adults, senior citizens, and so on.

When compared for robustness for both the GSS and LCS segments, policies showed a higher degree of robustness for GSS segments. Certain sections favour adoption of LCS for improving the access to WASH services. However, the Indian policy engine seems to be more attuned to the GSS framework. Hence, to achieve our targets, our policies should combine both the LCS and GSS approaches, rather than restricting to the traditional GSS approach.

Identification of Barriers

Among the four parameters essential for policy robustness, identification of barriers has been a major obstacle for a majority of the policies.

Just 11 per cent of the policies considered for appraisal had identified the barriers for the different segments. The robustness of policies can be enhanced if more and more policies can focus on identifying the barriers faced by the different segments in accessing WASH services. Better identification of barriers would also have a positive impact on subsequent downstream components such as formulation of strategies and outcomes.

 

Way Forward

Policies provide direction to the steering hand and help to keep them on course. A more robust policy would help in achieving better outcomes from WASH projects and programmes. The way forward should include the following elements:

  • WASH policies in India definitely need a robustness enhancement.
  • Policy formulation at the State level should be strengthened.
  • Emerging contemporary approaches such as LCS should be introduced in addition to the traditional GSS approaches.
  • Barriers that come in the way of access to WASH services should be given more importance than they usually are.

Connecting the dots

  • What is a bigger challenge in terms of policy for India – policy paralysis or the policy implementation? Discuss the same with respect to policies introduced by India in areas of water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management. Also provide suggestions to overcome the challenges faced.

 

NATIONAL

 

TOPIC:

General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States

General Studies 1

  • Social empowerment

 

Right of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2016- An overview

  • The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2016 which replaces the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, has been brought in to comply with the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which India signed in 2007.
  • The government has brought in amendments to Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 where the draft legislation is based on the 2010 report of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment’s expert Sudha Kaul Committee.
  • The 2011 Census put the number of disabled in India at 2.68 crore which is 2.21% of the population. With the passing of the Bill, the official count of disabled in India is set to rise to about 70-100 million.
  • The Bill makes a larger number of people eligible for rights and entitlements by reason of their disability, for welfare schemes and reservations in government jobs and education.

Key provisions of the bill

Number of disabilities increased

  • The 1995 Act recognised 7 disabilities — blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impairment, locomotor disability, mental retardation and mental illness.
  • The 2014 Bill expanded the definition of disability to cover 19 conditions, including cerebral palsy, haemophilia, multiple sclerosis, autism and thalassaemia among others.
  • The Bill also allowed the central government to notify any other condition as a disability.
  • The amended version recognises two other disabilities — resulting from acid attacks and Parkinson’s Disease — taking the number of recognised conditions to 21.

 

Disability certificate

  • A disability certificate is a basic document for any entitlement. Even for registering a complaint under the Persons with Disabilities Act, a person requires a disability certificate.
  • The 2015-16 annual report of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities reveals that only 49.5% of the disabled population identified by the 2011 census, have been issued certificates as of August 31, 2015.
  • The issuance of disability certificate is a major issue for the vast majority of the disabled people.
  • The certificate issued under current law will be valid throughout the country, which was not the case earlier.

Penal provisions

  • The 1995 act had no penal provisions. The 2014 version made violation of any provision of the Act punishable with a jail term of up to 6 months, and/or a fine of Rs 10,000. And subsequent rise in fines if continued with violation of act.
  • The present bill entirely removes the jail term and includes a fine of up to Rs 10,000 for the first violation and not ‘less than fifty thousand rupees but which may extend to five lakh’ for subsequent contraventions.

 

Employment

  • The 1995 law had 3% reservation for the disabled in higher education institutions and government jobs — 1% each for physically, hearing and visually impaired persons.
  • The 2014 Bill raised the ceiling to 5%, adding 1% each for mental illnesses and multiple disabilities.
  • Now, the new bill has reduced reservation in employment to 4% from 5%.
  • This has raised some concerns as a similar provision in the 1995 Act was misinterpreted by governments to restrict the quota to identified posts only, forcing the Supreme Court to intervene.
  • However, the government has assured that no difficulties shall be encountered by persons with disabilities due to it.

Increased scope

  • The amendments include private firms in the definition of ‘establishments’, which previously referred to only government bodies.
  • All such establishments have to ensure that persons with disabilities are provided with barrier-free access in buildings, transport systems and all kinds of public infrastructure, and are not discriminated against in matters of employment.

Others

  • Two types of guardianship will become available to mentally-ill persons. One will involve a guardian taking decisions jointly with the disabled person and the other, a guardian taking decisions on behalf of the mentally ill person without consulting him or her.

 

Certain concerns

  • The new bill removes the provision in the 2014 Bill for strong National and State Commissions for Persons with Disabilities, with powers on a par with a civil court. Instead, they will continue with the status quo of having only a Chief Commissioner with far fewer powers.
  • In the past, several favourable orders given by the Chief Commissioner have been quashed by the courts on the ground that the Commissioner has no powers and is only a quasi-judicial body.
  • The bill fails to specify the degree of disability for thalassaemia, learning disabilities or autism in the recognised wider scope of disabilities.
  • The new bill defines discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction on the basis of disability” which impairs or nullifies the exercise on an equal basis of rights in the “political, social, cultural, civil or any other field”.
  • However, it has been also added that it shall overlook such discrimination if “it is shown that the impugned act or omission is a proportionate means of achieving legitimate aim”.
  • This provision has in the past led to many problems for the disabled people wherein it might give unfettered power to the implementing agencies to discriminate against persons with disabilities, on the pretext of serving a “legitimate aim”.

Conclusion

Despite its inadequacies, the current legislation is a big advance over the 1995 Act and brings in the rights based perspective.

However, as the word goes, earnest implementation of the policy and adherence to provisions is the key to its success.

Connecting the dots:

  • What are the key provisions of recently passed disability bill? Discuss the significance and drawbacks pertaining the bill.
  • Will the ‘Divyangs’ be benefited by the new ‘Rights of people with disabilities Act’? Analyse.

 

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