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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs 19th April, 2017

  • April 19, 2017
  • 4
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs April 2017, International Relations, National
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 19th April 2017

Archives

HEALTH/NATIONAL

TOPIC:

General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

HIV AIDS legislation

Introduction

HIV AIDS is a serious concern in the health fabric of the country. The stigma associated makes it difficult for the affected to lead a normal life. The legislation is timely and necessary to enable the treatment necessities and fighting the associated concerns.

Issue:

In efforts to strengthen public health legislature for the HIV community, the Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017. The bill is significant since India has the third largest HIV epidemic in the world.

  • The Bill seeks to prevent the spread and control of HIV in the country. According to the UNAIDS Gap Report, there were close to 2.1 million people living with HIV in India till 2015.
  • While there had been 68, 000 AIDS related deaths in 2015, 86,000 new people had acquired HIV infections.
  • These statistics show how crucial the HIV Bill becomes for those who suffer from this disease and bear the social stigma attached to it.
  • The Bill also seeks to criminalise discrimination against HIV community.

Concerns about the legislation:
The HIV-positive population of the country, estimated at over 21 lakh, is disappointed that the Centre’s commitment to take all measures necessary to prevent the spread of HIV or AIDS is not reflected in the Bill, in the form of the right to treatment.

  • The law only enjoins the States to provide access “as far as possible”.
  • Beyond this flaw, though, the legislation empowers those who have contracted the infection in a variety of ways: such as
    • Protecting against discrimination in employment, education, health-care services, getting insurance and renting property.

Commitment of the state:

  • It is now for the States to show strong political commitment, and appoint one or more ombudsmen to go into complaints of violations and submit reports as mandated by the law.
  • Here again, State rules should prescribe a reasonable time limit for inquiries intocomplaints, something highlighted by the Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare that scrutinized the legislation.
  • Access to insurance for persons with HIV is an important part of the Bill, and is best handled by the government.
    • The numbers are not extraordinarily large and new cases are on the decline, according to the Health Ministry.
  • Viewed against the national commitment to Goal 3 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals — to “end the epidemic of AIDS” (among others) by 2030 — a rapid scaling up of interventions to prevent new cases and to offer free universal treatment is critical.
    • Publicly funded insurance can easily bring this subset of care-seekers into the overall risk pool.
    • Such a measure is also necessary to make the forward-looking provisions in the new law meaningful, and to provide opportunities for education, skill-building and employment.
  • As a public health concern, HIV/AIDS has a history of active community involvement in policymaking, and a highly visible leadership in the West.
  • It would be appropriate for the Centre to initiate active public consultations to draw up the many guidelines to govern the operation of the law.
  • Evidently, the requirement for the ombudsman to make public the periodic reports on compliance will exert pressure on States to meet their obligations.
  • In an encouraging sign, the Supreme Court has ruled against patent extensions on frivolous grounds, putting the generic drugs industry, so crucial for HIV treatment, on a firm footing.

Conclusion:

HIV being a global concern but with high incidence in India we have to take timely actions to eliminate the same. India has to build on the success of NACO phased programme and adopt global best practices. The issue needs to be dealt with from all parameters including social, economical, psychological etc.

Connecting the dots
Elaborate on the Policy actions initiated by the government w.r.t. HIV AIDS and the necessary concerns associated. Highlight the provisions of the recent legislation.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

TOPIC:
General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

 

Bilateral and multilateral alignments – India

Introduction

The geo-political scene of the global map is ever changing. New alignments and axis develop for self and motivated interests. In such a scenario India has to actively engage with all powers on an equal footing with a reinvigorated NAM policy.

Issue:

The global scenario at present can be seen as such:

  • China is steadily increasing its geostrategic presence in South, Central and West Asia;
  • There is a China-Russia-Pakistan axis on the rise in Southern Asia;
  • China and Russia are revelling in a new-found rapprochement and aim to fill the geopolitical vacuum bound to be created by the U.S. withdrawal from the region;
  • A retired Pakistan army chief is all set to take over as the first Commander-in-Chief of the Saudi-backed Islamic Military Alliance (IMA).
  • The valid question is: Which regional power has been missing from these significant developments on the regional geopolitical landscape?

China-Russia-Pakistan axis

Alliances are natural to international politics and friend-enemy binaries and historical hesitations are often cast aside when such alliances take shape.

  • While China and Pakistan have been allies since the 1960s, China and the Soviet Union weren’t the best of friends during the Cold War, nor did they have a great relationship in the post-Soviet days.
  • Pakistan and the Soviet Union were Cold War rivals, and Russia did not, until recently, share a close relationship with Pakistan.
  • All that is changing now, with them grouping up to undo American dominance in the region, among other things.
  • The Afghan reconciliation process is a major focus of this new partnership.

The West Asian Theatre:

  • Both China and Russia have been active in the West Asian theatre.
  • Having vetoed U.S.-sponsored sanctions against Syria, they believe that it is necessary to nudge the warring Syrian factions to negotiate.
  • Beijing has also been reaching out to and balancing the various adversaries in the region such as Israel, Saudi Arabia and even Iran, and increasingly talking the language of reconciliation.

Changing South Asian parameters:

Engaging South Asia is easier for China given that the smaller countries in the region see it as an infrastructure provider, with deep pockets and without the usual moral science lessons.

  • Bangladesh, one of India’s close allies in the region, is likely to attend the OBOR summit in May and may even sign up for it.
  • Chinese interest in Afghan reconciliation stems not only from a security/terrorism angle but also more significantly to ensure the sustainability of OBOR given its importance in providing access to Central Asia.

Russian U-turns

Russia is looking beyond a reluctant India in South Asia: President Vladimir Putin has no time for diplomatic subtleties and tales about the long history of Indo-Russian relations.

  • Ignoring Indian sensitivities, Moscow has gone ahead with forging strategic ties with Islamabad: from lifting the arms embargo, selling weaponry, discussing the future of Afghanistan, to joint military exercises.
  • When Russia formally joins OBOR, it will have indirectly taken a position on Kashmir which is not necessarily in keeping with the Indian stand on the issue.
  • If the Russian envoy’s remarks at the Heart of Asia conference in December are anything to go by, Moscow is also taking a pragmatic stand on terrorism in South Asia.

The Pakistan pivot

  • Pakistan is today an inevitable lynchpin of Southern Asian geopolitics.
  • Whether we like it or not, now that Pakistan’s generals have waited out the Americans and NATO from Afghanistan, the outcomes of the Afghan conflict will largely be determined by Rawalpindi.
  • This fits well with the Chinese and Russian regional grand strategies.
  • For sure, Pakistan has consistently used terrorism as a tool of statecraft, and yet there is recognition today that it is a pivotal state in addressing terror.
  • Moreover, while the IMA is still in its infancy, we need to look closely at its potential. Will it emerge, even though it is at a moment an overwhelmingly Sunni sectarian force, as a potent regional military alliance in the years to come? What role would Pakistan play in this ‘Islamic NATO’? What implications would it have for India?

Head-in-the-sand approach

  • New Delhi has done precious little to counter them or to propose a collective regional future.
  • The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which should have been the central plank of India’s ‘neighbourhood first’ policy, is in doldrums today.
  • Having jettisoned SAARC and unwilling to promote other regional initiatives, institutional or issue-based, India continues to prefer unilateralism towards neighbours.
  • The shortcomings of bilateralism in a world hungry for institutions and structures should be evident to us.
  • It’s time New Delhi focussed on the big picture and avoided puritanical positions while addressing the emerging fault lines on the global geopolitical landscape.

Conclusion:

Ina world of realpolitik and with new alignments in the changing world it is significant we are alive to the concerns of the world. Our foreign policy has to be relevant and current to the demand of the day. India has to shed its traditional vows and also engage meaningfully with all nations without any inhibitions.

Connecting the dots
International relations is a dynamic field with ever changing arrangements. In the current scenario critically discuss India’s foreign policy direction w.r.t. neighbours and global powers.

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