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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus]- 22nd November 2017

  • IASbaba
  • November 22, 2017
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 22nd November 2017

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INTERNATIONAL

TOPIC:General Studies 2:

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

ICJ seat and its importance to India’s Diplomacy

In News:

India’s Justice Dalveen Bhandari was re-elected to the International Court of Justice for a nine-year term, after Britain withdrew its candidate, Christopher Greenwood, from the race.

Why the victory is significant?

  • Analysts say the election result was crucial for India to gauge the support it enjoys in the world body where New Delhi has been campaigning for reforms, including a permanent seat for itself in the powerful Security Council.
  • The victory hints at a sign that the old global order is collapsing and a new one is on the anvil. (It was a contest between an old power, Great Britain, and an emerging one, India.)
  • The voting in the General Assembly which overwhelmingly favours India is reflective of the new global order, which is not pleasant to the world powers.
  • Britain’s withdrawal signals the first time in 71 years that a U.K. judge will be absent in the UN court. It is also the first time a permanent member of the Security Council has lost to a non-permanent member for a seat at The Hague.
  • The major diplomatic victory cements India’s growing clout on the world stage.
  • Justice Dalveen Bhandari presence ensures that India will continue to remain on the legal high table of the world at a time when several globally significant cases such as the one involving former Navy official Kulbhushan Jadhav against Pakistan is under way there.

Key facts:

  • The ICJ, comprising 15 judges, was established in 1945 to settle legal disputes between nations in accordance with international law and is the principle legal body of the United Nations.
  • Britain is the fifth permanent member of the Security Council. This would be the first time that Britain, a veto-empowered permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), wouldn’t have any representation on the ICJ.
  • The victory makes Dalveen Bhandari, the third Indian to secure a prominent position in a United Nations (UN) body in recent months.
  • International law expert Neeru Chadha was elected to the UN body, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), in Hamburg in June. And last month, Soumya Swaminathan, director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), was appointed deputy director general for programmes at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva.
  • Bhandari is the fourth Indian judge to be elected to the ICJ after B.N. Rau, Nagendra Singh and R.S. Pathak.

Central focus:

  • India has been seeking that the democratic process need to be played its full course in both the Security Council and the General Assembly and there should not be an intervention or adoption of a process that has never been used before or the one that undermines the voice of the majority.
  • “The extraordinary support from the UN membership is reflective of the respect for strong constitutional integrity of the Indian polity and the independence of the judiciary in India.”

What is the ICJ?

  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ) started work in 1946, after half a century of international conflict in the form of two World Wars.
  • The ICJ has its seat at The Hague, the Netherlands, and has the jurisdiction to settle disputes between countries and examine cases pertaining to violation of human rights according to the tenets of international law. It is the judicial arm of the United Nations.

How are judges elected?

  • The ICJ has a total strength of 15 judges who are elected to nine-year terms of office.
  • They are elected by members of the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council, where polling takes place simultaneously but independent of each other.
  • In order to be elected, a candidate must have an absolute majority in both bodies, which often leads to much lobbying, and a number of rounds of voting.
  • In order to ensure a sense of continuity, especially in pending cases, elections are conducted triennially for a third of the 15-member Court. Judges are eligible to stand for re-election.

How do member countries nominates judges?

  • All states party to the Statute of the Court are eligible to propose candidates.
  • The selection process is meant to be apolitical, and is made not by the government of the state concerned, but by the members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration designated by that state to represent its interests in the Court.
  • Each group can propose a maximum of four candidates, not more than two of whom may be citizens of the said country.
  • The other two nominees may be from any country, even those that are not party to the Statute.

On what basis are judges elected?

  • It is held that all nominees should have a ‘high moral character,’ and credentials commensurate with those expected from the highest judicial officials of those countries.
  • The Charter also makes it mandatory for judges to have recognised competence in international law.
  • Every judge receives an annual base salary of $172,978, with the President receiving a supplementary allowance of $15,000.
  • In order to keep the ICJ insulated from political influence, it is enshrined in the Charter that no judge can be dismissed, unless in the unanimous opinion of all peers, he is deemed to no longer fulfil the required conditions. However, this has never happened in the 72-year history of the ICJ.

Conclusion:

“The extraordinary support from the UN membership is reflective of the respect for strong constitutional integrity of the Indian polity and the independence of the judiciary in India.”

The victory tells us that indeed a new India is emerging that is no longer risk-averse and is willing to fight it out openly. In this case, of course, the world witnessed how the rise and fall of powers continues to shape the global governance architecture.

Connecting the dots:

  • India’s International Court of Justice victory hints at a sign that the old global order is collapsing and a new one is on the anvil. Comment.

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

Change in India’s Health Profile: New Challenges

Background:

The “India: Health of The Nation’s States” report was released recently. The India State-level Disease Burden Initiative, was a joint study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
India’s health challenges have changed sharply over the past couple of decades and is going to continue changing.

Change in health profile:

Global precedent shows that a country’s health profile changes as its economy and level of urbanization grow.

  • The threat posed by communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria, maternal, neonatal and nutritional diseases—collectively termed infectious and associated diseases in the report—declines.
  • The burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) grows.

The World Health Organization predicts that over the next decade, NCD deaths will increase by 17% globally.

In Indian context:

  • In 1990, the total disease burden of infectious and associated diseases in the country was 61%. The burden of NCDs at the time was 30%.
  • In 2016 numbers have just flipped: infectious and associated diseases account for 33% of the disease burden while NCDs account for 55%.
  • While life expectancy rose, data revealed that six out of 10 Indians (in 1990 it was less than one in three) now succumb to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like heart diseases, child and maternal malnutrition is the leading cause of premature death and poor health and the burden of tuberculosis is the highest in the world.
  • The disease burden varies, indicating a widening health gap between the nation’s wealthy and poorer states.

Pic credit: http://www.livemint.com/Science/0p4OAvUMc82GPu0moAQqZJ/The-increasing-burden-of-non-communicable-diseases-in-India.html

Need for decentralized health policymaking:

There is wide divergence between the health profiles of various regions and states in India.

  • While infectious and associated diseases now account for less than half of the disease burden in all the states, the transition happened as early as 1986 and as late as 2010 depending on the state in question.
  • Likewise, the NCDs burden covers a substantial range—from 48% of the state disease burden to 75%.
  • Kerala, Goa, and Tamil Nadu, relatively prosperous states, have the largest share of NCDs such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, mental health and neurological disorders, cancers, musculoskeletal disorders and chronic kidney disease.
  • The burden due to specific diseases within the NCDs and the infectious and other diseases groups differs substantially. This is true not just between groupings of economically similar states—say, industrialized states like Maharashtra and Gujarat, and Empowered Action Group states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh—but between similar states as well.

In the above scenario, Centre-dominated health policymaking will diminish the effectiveness of state response.

Nature of State response needs to change:

There is a need for a multi-pronged approach.

  • Urban planning- Ensuring that citizens lead a more physically active life would directly address a number of risk factors for NCDs. That means ensuring ease of access from everything to pedestrian access to public transport and communal green spaces.
  • Bringing private enterprises on board—from displaying health information and advice in stores to appropriate food labelling, high salt warnings and product placement in stores.
  • India should increase the percentage expenditure of GDP on healthcare from the current 1.1 per cent to at least 2.5-3 percent by 2025, with an increased focus on preventing and treating NCDs.
  • An increased focus on NCDs at medical colleges
  • Public-private partnership for efficient use of resources in training, education, diagnostics, and preventive care.
  • Establishing NCD clinics at the primary healthcare level. Thus there is need for capacity building to tackle NCDs.

Conclusion:

A broad and diffuse response will not be easy to implement. Addressing the weak fundamentals of India’s health system is critical. In the wake of rising cases of NCDs preventive healthcare system of India needs to be strengthened.

Connecting the dots:

  • India’s health profile is changing fast in the wake of ongoing urbanisation and economic growth. In such a scenario a multi-pronged and diffused policy-making is called for. Discuss. 

PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS 


Justice Dalveer Bhandari Re-elected to ICJ

Part of: Main GS Paper II – International Relations, India and the World, Security issues

India’s nominee to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Dalveer Bhandari has been re-elected to the fifth seat of the court after Britain withdrew its candidate from the election.

Key pointers:

  • This is the first time in the 70-year history of the United Nations that the U.K. will not be on the ICJ.
  • This is the first time that one of the five permanent members of the UNSC lost out to an ordinary member in a race.
  • This is also the first time that one sitting member of the ICJ lost to another sitting member.
  • The UN Security Council and the General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in support of India. Judge Dalveer Bhandari received all 15 votes in the UN Security Council and 183 out of the 193 votes in the UN General Assembly.

About ICJ:

  • The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.
  • It was established in 1945 via the UN Charter and its jurisdiction is worldwide.
  • It is located in “The Hague” in Netherlands and has 193 state parties.

Functions:

The major functions of the International Court of Justice are

  • To settle legal disputes submitted to it by states.
  • To provide advisory opinions on legal questions submitted to it by duly authorized international organs, agencies, and the UN General Assembly.

Judges of the ICJ:

  • The Court is composed of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms of office by the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council sitting independently of each other.
  • It may not include more than one judge of any nationality.
  • Elections are held every three years for one-third of the seats, retiring judges (in this case-Justice Dalveer) may be re-elected. The Members of the Court do not represent their governments but are independent magistrates.
  • To be appointed at the ICJ, a candidate requires a majority in both the General Assembly and the Security Council of the UN.

Article link: Click here


New Penal Law for Triple Talaq

Part of: Main GS Paper I – Social issue and Welfare

Key Pointers:

  • The Union government has set up a ministerial committee to frame a new law that would attract penal provisions in the case of use of triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat for divorce between Muslim couples.
  • Set aside by SC-
    The Supreme Court had, this year, in a majority judgement set aside the practice of talaq-e-biddat.
  • Talaq-e-biddat or Triple Talaq- an arbitrary and unilateral decision by a Muslim husband to end the marriage by utterance of the word talaq three times

Article link: Click here


‘Peace Clause’: India putting in efforts to make it permanent

Part of: Main GS Paper II – International Relations, India and the World, Security issues

Key Pointers:

  • The WTO’s Ministerial Conference is to take place at Buenos Aires in Argentina in December.
  • Ministerial Conference is the highest decision-making body.
  • Top priority for India at WTO-
    Food security, and
    Protection of low-income and resource-poor farmers.
  • Currently, an interim mechanism called the ‘Peace Clause’ is in place.
  • The Bali declaration, 2013 stated that the peace clause was an interim arrangement, and a permanent solution should be negotiated by December 2017.

Peace clause:

  • The ‘Peace Clause’ is available to developing nations, including India, till a permanent solution is found to public stockholding for food security purposes.
  • As per the clause, WTO members had agreed not to challenge developing nations at the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism if they breach the cap of the product-specific domestic support (which is 10% of the value of production).
  • The peace clause protects India’s food procurement programmes against action from member-countries in case subsidy ceilings are breached.

Central focus:

  • India will not agree to severe restrictions on its right to give price subsidies to farmers through the Minimum Support Price (MSP) to procure grains from them for food security purposes.
  • India would fight to ensure that at least the ‘Peace Clause’ is made the permanent solution.

Article link: Click here


Infrastructure Status to the Logistics Sector

Part of: Main GS Paper III – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, growth, development, investment.

The Centre has granted infrastructure status to the logistics sector.

Issues with the sector till now:

  • The cost of logistics is extremely high in India with some estimates putting it at about 13% of GDP, which is higher than the U.S. (9) and Germany (8).
  • High logistics cost reduces the competitiveness of Indian goods both in domestic as well as export markets.

Benefits:

  • The sector can now avail loans at competitive terms that come along with the infrastructure status.
  • Development of logistics would give a boost to both domestic and external demand thereby encouraging manufacturing and ‘job creation.’ This will, in turn, be instrumental in improving country’s GDP.
  • The infrastructure status will reduce the cost of capital in transportation and warehousing, thereby reducing the cost of logistics.
  • Infrastructure industries get longer maturity loans compared to typical manufacturing sector.

Article link: Click here


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