SYNOPSIS: IASbaba’s Current Affairs Focus (CAF) Mains 2017: Day 14

  • IASbaba
  • October 27, 2017
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SYNOPSIS : IASbaba’s Current Affairs Focus (CAF) Mains 2017: Day 14


1.Does India needs a new education policy? In this light, examine the recommendations made by Dr. K. Kasturirangan committee.


National Education policy was first framed in 1986 and later modified in 1992. Since then there has been call to change the policy and bring in the necessary reforms for 21st century. In light of this government framed new committee under K. Kasturirangan.


India requires new education policy because:

  • Colonial: The policy still has its colonial policy features.
  • Neglect: Of Indian history of great kings and kingdoms.
  • Indigenous knowledge: Is looked down upon in textbooks.
  • Ideological: It highlights freedom fighters and struggles of only certain ideologies depending on which government is in power.
  • Autonomy: Lacks autonomy and controlled by ruling government.
  • Affordability: Higher education and technical education needs to be made affordable.
  • Practical: Skills and practical knowledge needs to be introduced than mere theoretical.
  • Disparities: Social and regional disparities in education needs to be removed.
  • Vacancies: Huge vacancies and reservations issues need to be sorted out.
  • Humanities and moral sciences: Needs to be given its due and not just scientific studies.
  • Quality: Of teaching and non-teaching professionals needs to checked and enhanced.

Ex. Cabinet secretary under TSR Subramanium has submitted its detailed report on New Education policy, but government has created one more committee under eminent scientist K. Kasturirangan to address certain issues. The committee consists of eminent members like K.J Alphonse, Dr. Manjul Bhargava who is field medal holder in Mathematics.


In this new policy, India is expecting to take education standards to new level. Also permission to foreign universities to open campus in India is being looked upon. Government also has to increase the expenditure on education to create world class quality education for its people.

2. The challenge in ensuring an open defecation free India is to motivate people to see a toilet as fundamental to their social standing, status and well-being. Examine.


Before launch of Swacch Bharat Abhiyan more than 50% of country would defecate in open. Now the number is being reduced due to special drives taken up by government in construction of toilet and encouraging people to use public toilets.


The challenges of open defecation free India:

  • Toilet: Availability of toilet in households is a major problem in the country.
  • Conservative practices: Of not constructing or using them inside house.
  • Scientific construction: Like proper water facilities, pits etc.

Addressing the problem:

  • Awareness: About the issues of open defecation on health, society etc. Ex: Like advertisement in newspaper, television, street plays etc.
  • Subsidy: To construct toilet to BPL families in both urban and rural households.

Measures taken:

  • Loans: Cheap loans to construct toilet in form of lower interests, subsidies etc.
  • Hygiene education: At school level, so that they force parents at home to construct toilets and use them.
  • Women: Encouraging women to force for construction of toilet by creating awareness about health issues of family.
  • Whistle blowers: Forming groups of volunteers to conduct drives in morning by blowing whistles.
  • Gram Sabha: taken it up to them to promote their village as open defecation free by conducting early morning drives and night drives to stop people.
  • Marriage: Many women have refused to marry in houses which have no toilet.


States have been awarded for making them open defecation free and also bureaucrats have been given presidential awards for the same. But also in certain parts just to claim awards, fake claims have been made.

3. A strict multi-pronged strategy integrating demand reduction, harm reduction and supply reduction is required to curb the menace of drug abuse in India.


According to a UN report, more than one million heroin addicts are registered in India, and unofficially there are as many as five million.
Wedged between the Golden Triangle (Thailand, Laos and Vietnam) in the east and the Golden Crescent (Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan) in the west, many regions in India, such as the north-east, are particularly vulnerable.

Drug abuse has a detrimental impact on the society:

  • It leads to increase in the crime rate. Addicts resort to crime to pay for their drugs. Incidence of eve- teasing, group clashes, assault and impulsive murders increase with drug abuse.
  • Apart from affecting the financial stability, addiction increases conflicts and causes untold emotional pain for every member of the family.
  • With most drug users being in the productive age group of 18-35 years, the loss in terms of human potential is incalculable.
  • The damage to the physical, psychological, moral and intellectual growth of the youth is very high.
  • Women in India face greater problems from drug abuse. The consequences include domestic violence and infection with HIV, as well as the financial burden.
  • At the national level, drug abuse is intrinsically linked with racketeering, conspiracy, corruption, illegal money transfers, terrorism and violence threatening the very stability of governments.

A strict multi-pronged strategy is needed:

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, were enacted with stringent provisions to curb this menace. The Act envisages a minimum term of 10 years imprisonment extendable to 20 years and fine of Rs. 1 lakh extendable up to Rs. 2 lakhs for the offenders. The Act has been further amended by making provisions for the forfeiture of properties derived from illicit drugs trafficking.

Demand reduction:

The demand reduction strategy involves

  • Perception management of the youth and parents.
  • Effective affordable rehabilitation centres.
  • Focus on high-prevalence drug groups such as sex workers, transportation workers and street children, and
  • Simultaneous development of the state and redressal of the unemployment situation.

Harm reduction:

Harm reduction involves providing clean needles, sterilization equipment and the like to drug users.
It has proved to be effective in Manipur as well as in other countries in minimizing secondary damage such as the spread of AIDS and Hepatitis C.

Supply reduction:

The supply side reduction should involve

  • A zero-tolerance policy towards drug cartels, syndicates and peddlers.
  • Preventing diversion of licit cultivation of opium and opiate pharmaceutical drugs.
  • Checking illicit cultivation of opium and closing porous borders should be non-negotiable clauses in India’s drug abuse prevention policy.

India has bilateral agreements on drug trafficking with 13 countries, including Pakistan and Burma. Supply reduction falls under the purview of the enforcement agencies.

Steps to be taken:

  • Tightening the noose around drug cartels.
  • Drug users must be diverted from prisons to rehabilitation centres where they have a genuine chance at recovery.
  • Only 122 hospitals across the country offer drug treatment. This is highly inadequate considering the fact that alternative unregulated private facilities deploy unapproved methods that end up harming the patient. Thus, public health facilities need improvement.
  • The drug trade’s political links make it a particularly difficult system to destroy. It’s time the politicians rise above politics when it comes to the issue of drug abuse.


Thus, an active cooperation among community leaders and institutions, nonprofit organisations, academics, and policymakers is crucial to solve the issue of drug abuse in India.

4. Stunting is a critical problem being faced in India as the Global Nutrition Report has pointed out. In this wake, some advancement have already been made in tackling the problem of stunting in India. Comment. Also suggest the way forward to address this problem.


The 2016 Global Nutrition Report (GNR) was released recently providing an independent and annual review of the state of the world’s nutrition. According to the Global Nutrition Report India ranks 114th out of 132 countries in stunting among children aged less than five years  with the incidence of stunting at 38.7 per cent, compared with Germany and Chile at 1.3 per cent and 1.8 per cent, respectively.

The segments most at risk continue to be adolescent girls, women and children, and among them Scheduled Castes and Tribes are the worst off, reflecting the insidious economic and socio-cultural deprivation prevalent in India.


  • Several programs already announced by the government like Swachh Bharat, ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, etc. are critical nutrition-sensitive factors that address hygiene, sanitation and education. For the nutrition-specific areas, India already has the infrastructure and mechanism for reaching people most at risk.
  • The mid-day meal is an excellent structure to reach 120 million children with continuity and regularity.
  • The specific interventions targeted towards the vulnerable groups include children below 6 years. The main schemes of Ministry of Women and Child Development which have a bearing on the nutritional status includes the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme which provides a package of six services namely supplementary nutrition, pre-school non-formal education, nutrition & health education, immunization, health check-up and referral services.
  • Treatment of children with severe acute malnutrition at special units called the Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres (NRCs), set up at public health facilities. Presently 875 such centres are functional all over the country.
  • Specific program to prevent and combat micronutrient deficiencies of Vitamin A and Iron & Folic Acid (IFA) in under-five children, children of 5 to 10 years of age, and adolescents.


  • The immediate actions to step change nutrition outcomes could be summarized as follows: One, create a Nutrition Secretariat as part of the Prime Minister’s Office with responsibility for ensuring multi-sectoral alignment on priorities, sequencing and timelines. This would include both nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive initiatives. Agree on a dashboard of nutrition metrics to be tracked, just as we track economic metrics.
  • Two, make the nodal Ministries accountable for revamping the ICDS, MDM, PDS with clear goals, timelines and resources. Open these up for public-private partnerships and make this CSR-eligible.
  • Three, extend large-scale food fortification beyond salt to other staples like flour, oil, dairy, etc. and establish mandatory standards by category.
  • Four, invest in information and education about good nutrition practices, extending from a diverse diet to deworming, breastfeeding, hygiene and sanitation, etc.

Nutrition is complex and therefore needs to be simplified in behavioral terms. India must convert its young population to a competitive advantage, and nutrition and health are foundational to that outcome.

5. National Health Policy (NHP) 2017 has introduced paradigmatic shifts in India’s healthcare strategy. Critically examine.

The National Health Policy, 2017, was recently approved by the Union Cabinet. After considering suggestions from the public, state governments and others, the new policy will replace the previous one, which was framed 15 years ago in 2002. The policy, which aims at providing healthcare in an “assured manner” to all, will address current and emerging challenges arising from the ever changing socio-economic, technological and epidemiological scenarios.

Key highlights:

The government aims in shifting focus from “sick-care” to “wellness”, by promoting prevention and well-being.

It intends on gradually increasing public health expenditure to 2.5% of the GDP.

It aims to strengthen health systems by ensuring everyone has access to quality services and technology despite financial barriers. The policy proposes increasing access, improving quality and reducing costs. It proposes free drugs, free diagnostics and free emergency and essential healthcare services in public hospitals.

It also focusses on primary health care: The policy advocates allocating two-thirds (or more) of resources to primary care. It proposes two beds per 1,000 of the population to enable access within the golden hour (the first 60 minutes after a traumatic injury).

It aims to reduce morbidity and preventable mortality of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by advocating pre-screening.

It highlights AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) as a tool for effective prevention and therapy that is safe and cost-effective. It proposes introducing Yoga in more schools and offices to promote good health.

The policy also lists quantitative targets regarding life expectancy, mortality and reduction of disease prevalence in line with the objectives of the policy.

What’s good about the policy?

The World Health Organization (WHO) was established in 1948 with the promise of realising ‘Health for all’. Almost seven decades later, both WHO and India are still striving towards achieving the vision of universal health coverage. Universal health coverage is fundamental to achieving the health objective under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet, about 400-million people – one out of every 17 of the world’s citizens – lack access to essential health services. With a population of 1.2 billion, India has a remarkable opportunity to take on a leadership role in addressing this major gap and providing assured health services to all its citizens.

Considering this, the Indian government’s newly-approved National Health Policy is a laudable step in this direction. The policy seeks to promote universal access to good quality healthcare services while ensuring that no one faces financial hardship, and to ensure that public hospitals provide universal access to a wide array of free drugs and diagnostics. This policy can help realise the vision of achieving universal health coverage and ‘health for all’ in India.

If carefully implemented, the policy’s proposed steps such as a health card for every family, which will enable access to primary care facilities and a defined package of services nationwide, will certainly help improve health outcomes in India. The recommended grading of clinical establishments and active promotion and adoption of standard treatment guidelines can also help improve the quality of healthcare delivery in India.

Challenges ahead:

The policy faces the challenging task of ensuring affordable, quality medical care to every citizen. With a fifth of the world’s disease burden, a growing incidence of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, and poor financial arrangements to pay for care, India brings up the rear among the BRICS countries in health sector performance.

Among the most glaring lacunae in the present context is the lack of capacity to use higher levels of public funding for health. Rectifying this in partnership with the States is crucial if the Central government is to make the best use of the targeted government spending of 2.5% of GDP by 2025, up from 1.15% now.

Although a major capacity expansion to produce MBBS graduates took place between 2009 and 2015, and more initiatives were announced later, this is unlikely to meet policy goals since only 11.3% of registered allopathic doctors were working in the public sector as of 2014, and even among these, the number in rural areas was abysmally low. More health professionals need to be deployed for primary care in rural areas.


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