General Studies 1
- Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
India’s burgeoning cities and how to engender them
- Recently, representatives from 195 countries participated in the Habitat III Conference and adopted the New Urban Agenda (NUA) on sustainable cities and human settlements.
- This conference had particularly addressed the attention-deficit topic of gender dimension in migration and urbanisation.
- This had come at a time when forced migration and expansive urbanisation have become issues of growing global concern.
- Thus, it is an important step to address the need of gender inclusive urban planning as it has been observed that cities were always designed for men. But, urban development is a gender neutral domain.
New Urban Agenda
- It helps strategise the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by “improving the spatial configuration of cities and human settlements in a gender inclusive way and by recognising the crucial dimensions of women’s rights.”
- It advocates participatory age- and gender-responsive approaches at all stages of the urban-territorial policy and planning processes, including in conceptualization, design, budgeting, implementation, and evaluation.
- Thus, gender equality has been placed high on the agenda in the urban development context.
- The global urban population has gone up to 54% today from 42% in 1990s.
- In India, around 800 million are expected to stay in urban areas by 2050.
- In urban migration, cities are perceived and experienced differently by men and women and thus, gender plays a decisive role in experiencing vulnerabilities.
- Today, the Indian cities have experienced haphazard growth. It was expected that there will be blurred lines between caste and religion in cities due to heterogeneous nature of the cities. But such has been not the case so far.
- Spatial segregation by caste and religion is becoming increasingly visible in Indian cities.
Need of engendering the cities
Though the proportion of women in cities is increasing, the facilities and infrastructure for them needs to cope up.
Male centric design
- The women does not choose public transport more often due to its poor conditions and uncertain timings.
- Hence, they generally have to opt for more expensive and more time consuming for safer mobility.
- The public toilet facilities in cities have been in grave conditions. It has been frequently observed that women have to suffer in order to avail public toilet facilities which are either unavailable or far away.
- For example, Mumbai has a population of 22 million but only one-third of the approximately 11,000 pay-to-use public toilets are for women.
- Thus, there is critical need of gender mainstreaming in urban development wherein cities respond equally to men and women.
- Rapid urbanisation and urban migration has creating safety problems for women all over the world.
- The cities have grown haphazardly and as a result, there fails to be a check on the city activities.
- As a result, girls in cities have often encountered harassment leading to their reluctance in going around the city, particularly at night.
- Thus, there should be equal and safe access to public spaces wherein women can without any fear for their safety can become a part of city.
- Environmental change is touted as one of the reason for rural to urban migration as people living in rural areas will suffer from decline in agricultural output and income and thus migrate to cities.
- In this scenario, the women are again more affected than men as they tend to live in slums and shanty spaces which is detrimental to health, children and employment opportunities.
- Also, they might not be able to avail government welfare schemes which require multiple documentation like proof of address, proof of identify etc.
- In such informal settlements, women face lot of problems due to inaccessibility to subsidised food, housing, drinking water, sanitation as well as public health facilities, education and banking services.
- Though women can be vulnerable to the negative impacts of unplanned urbanisation, they also offer robust opportunities for overcoming existing inequalities.
- Cities provide greater independence, better opportunities and less rigidity in observing social norms.
- Therefore, women’s right to cities, an enabling environment, and equal access to opportunities within them must be prioritised by governments.
Women have been traditionally excluded from city development. In India, where the representation of urban planners per 100,000 people is exceptionally low at just 0.23, the need for women’s voices and representation in urban planning processes as well as in urban local decision-making is even more pronounced. Thus, India needs to invest in gender-sensitive policies, and participatory planning that considers the concerns of all marginalised sections in urban spaces and the gender groups within them.
The NUA is a step in the right direction but it is not sufficient. It provides targets but not concrete solutions to achieve them. Hence, ideally, the urban policy approach should be the one that recognises gendered vulnerabilities, incorporates women’s equal right to safe spaces, and makes use of their potential as change-makers. This will lead to sustainable and inclusive development.
Connecting the dots:
- What is gender sensitive planning? How can the Indian cities be made more gender inclusive?
- Development should be engendered else it will be endangered. Comment (UPSC 2016)
General Studies 2
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
General Studies 3
- Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
Tracking the health targets
- NITI Ayog is preparing a vision document of 15 years for India’s development path beyond the 12th Five Year Plan
- Also, it has made is clear that the development goals will be in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- SDGs comprise of 17 goals and 169 targets which were agreed in principle by 200 countries. They represent a five-fold increase from the 48 indicators of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
- Now, as India joins the global community in the pursuit of the SDGs, it faces the twin burden of implementation and official data capture.
Tracking the goals
- Since the 1970s, various studies of India’s health sector have shown that one third of field workers’ time is often consumed in task of maintaining registers and records.
- When this work is traded off, it has a negative impact on the quality of data captured by the health system.
- There has been lack of information on non-communicable diseases and injuries, dearth of primary data on causes of death, lack of private health sector numbers and insufficient district-level data.
- National Health Policy of 2002 also recognised the immediate need for systematic and scientific population health statistics.
- Thus, there is a critical importance of keeping a track of data that reflects the success of policies and their implementation.
- For this, there is a need of data revolution wherein disaggregated data is made publicly available so that India’s SDG targets can be tracked.
There are few recommendations to streamline and build on the existing national statistical infrastructure to facilitate such a revolution.
Transform Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) systems
- India relies on sample registration and surveys to track mortality-related goals because of the inadequate coverage of its Civil Registration System (CRS).
- The National Population Policy 2000 had set the goal of achieving universal birth registration by the year 2010. Though India has made considerable improvement, the nationwide coverage is inadequate for informing decision-making.
- With respect to it, WHO (2015) has observed that the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) systems permit continuous production of statistics even for local administrative subdivisions which is not possible with censuses and household surveys.
- The CRVS system allows for more accurate information, and in turn, clearer denominators for assessing progress across sectors.
- The aim to achieve universal registration of births and deaths have been revised to 2020. Also, an initiative has begun to integrate the National Population Register with CRS which will offer transformative possibilities.
- Thus, efforts to universalise birth and death registration, as well as integrate existing databases like the Census, NPR and CRS systems at the sub-district levels, can help track at-risk population in small areas.
Streamlining National Surveys
- The latest round of NHFS (2015-16) gave district-level estimates for the first time. Now NHFS will be repeated every 3 years and thus will help in overcoming some of the country’s health and nutrition data bottlenecks.
- Also, NFHS 4 replaces the Annual Health Survey (AHS) and District Level Household and Facility Survey (DLHS). These were two major sources of health data at the district level during the MDG era.
- But this should not stop the tracking of concrete data on health and nutrition monitoring.
- It is a policy imperative to conduct a comprehensive assessment of existing surveys with the aim of streamlining a set of health and nutrition indicators to continuously track the national targets.
- There can be combination of consumer expenditure rounds with at least some modules of the social consumption of health rounds so that enhanced data is collected at more regular intervals.
- Thus, a yearly survey covering all major indicators of health and nutrition coordinated by NSSO. Pratham’s Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) can offer inputs towards such an endeavour.
Reform the national Health Management Information System (HMIS)
- A transparent and evidence-based decision-making can be supported by an efficient national health information system. This can lead to improvements in health outcomes.
- HMIS offers benefits such as helping decision-makers to detect and control emerging and endemic health problems, monitor progress towards health goals, and promote equity.
- The HMIS was intended to oversee the working of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). It has around 1.8 lakh health facilities capturing data for HMIS about antenatal coverage, immunisation coverage, delivery services, family planning coverage, among other indicators, across the country.
- But it faces certain challenges such as lack of coverage of the private medical facilities and shortages and the nature of incentive structures within the system.
- Multiple initiatives often prevent a holistic health systems approach. There are various schemes and programmes announced by the ministries of health and of women and child development.
- These schemes should be mapped and rationalised in a way that there is a comprehensive set of indicators helping assess the system and track progress.
With so much of possibilities of change and transformation in India’s health statistics, it can be said that the majority success of SDGs will lie in India’s performance. Though there are challenges but with robust policy, efficient implementation and continuous tracking, there can be visible improvements in health statistics all across India.
Connecting the dots:
- India faces critical public health challenges faced in India. Examine.
- How to improve the health status of the Indians? How can the tracking system of health policies be improved? Discuss.
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