IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 20th December 2017
Poor progress of clean Ganga project
Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Report by CAG:
- The NDA government’s record in implementing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet Clean Ganga project has been very poor.
- The NMCG [National Mission for Clean Ganga] has been able to spend less than a quarter of the funds earmarked for the project in the last two financial years.
- The low utilisation of funds indicate poor implementation of the programme.
- Not having an action plan also led to non-utilisation of any amount from the corpus of Rs. 198.14 crore available in the Clean Ganga Fund – created through voluntary donations by citizens and non-resident Indians.
- The mission also did not finalise long-term action plans even after more than six-and-a-half years of signing with the consortium of Indian Institute of Technology.
- It could not formulate a river basin management plan even though the National Ganga River Basin Authority notification was issued more than eight years ago.
Article link: Click here
Pradhanmantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections
- Better workforce management- Better job security, worker’s happiness, higher productivity.
- A central government initiative to encourage enrollment of new employees under Social Security Network, assured security to the workforce and relief to the employer.
- Government pays 8.33% EPS contribution for the new employees.
- For selected sectors of Garment industry, complete 12% contribution of the employer paid by the government.
- Scheme applicable for new employees drawing monthly salary of upto Rs 15,000.
- Easy to operate through online enrolment and Aadhaar.
Article link: The Hindu
India has largest diaspora across the world
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Indian diaspora
- Indian tops the world in the number of migrants sent abroad and more than half of the 16.59 million live in the Gulf region, according to a UN report.
- The 2017 International Migration Report showed that during this century’s period of rapid globalisation, the number of Indian migrants doubled from 7.98 million in 2000.
- Mexico sent out 13 million migrants, the second highest number.
- The United Arab Emirates has the largest number of Indian migrants followed by the US.
- Most of the international migration takes place among developing countries with 60 per cent of the migrants from Asia going to other Asian countries.
- About $400 billion is sent to developing countries by migrants and the remittances are used to finance education, housing and other activities that promote development.
- In the current political climate, “migration has become a toxic” topic as a result migrating is a problem for those outside the “global elite” made up professionals who can move easily to other countries, he said.
Therefore there was need for policies to take care of the migrants who do not fall in that category.
Article link: Click here
RERA’s administration brought under Urban Affairs Ministry
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- The matters related to the administration of the RERA for regulation of the real estate sector and to protect the interest of consumers will be dealt by the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry.
- The central government has amended the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules 1961, in this regard.
- The administration of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, will also be done by the same ministry.
The RERA is for regulation and promotion of the real estate sector and to ensure sale of plot, apartment or building in an efficient and transparent manner and to protect the interest of consumers in the real estate sector.
Article link: Click here
TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
- Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders
Mental Health Care Bill: Making it comprehensive
The need for legislation which secures the rights of people with mental illness is a necessity for a nation like India.
Instances such as the 2001 Erwadi mental home fire, in which chained patients were charred to death, are a reminder of our apathy towards the mentally disabled.
The neglect of mental health is evident from a World Health Organization report which estimated that 50 million Indians suffered from depression.
The enactment of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 by the current government is an attempt to protect the rights of the mentally ill and enable citizens to decide on the method of treatment in case of mental illness, lest they are mistreated or neglected.
India ratified the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in October 2007.
The United Progressive Alliance government (UPA-II) initially introduced the Mental Health Care Bill in August 2013 to replace the Mental Health Act, 1987 to bring the law in consonance with the obligations of the UN convention. The Bill lapsed due to the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
The 16th Lok Sabha led by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) reintroduced the Bill in August 2016 with 134 amendments. The modifications led to a complete overhaul of the intent, structure and provisions of the original Bill, and the spirit of the UN convention was missing.
Key issues that should be considered in order to ensure that the legislation creates an ecosystem for proper treatment of the mentally disabled.
- The Act recognizes mental illness as a clinical issue which can only be treated by medicines and clinical procedures.
The important issue of prevention and promotion of mental well-being has been neglected.
Research shows that in cases of mental illness, medical interventions occur at an advanced stage. Illness is also a result of one’s social setting and preliminary treatment can be provided by qualified psychotherapists, counsellors and psychoanalysts.
- The current definition of ‘mental health professional’ is restricted to clinical psychiatrists and professionals holding a postgraduate degree in Ayurveda, homoeopathy, Siddha and Unani—all on the clinical side.
Although including specialists from non-allopathic fields of medicine is laudable, it is unclear why psychotherapists and psychoanalysts were excluded.
- The Act proposes an ‘advance medical directive’ through which individuals can dictate how they “wish to be” and “wish not to be treated” and can nominate a member who can make decisions on their behalf should they lose their mental capacity.
But it is unable to provide a clear procedure for preparing it. The Act fails to provide for the full list of treatment options available, so that a decision can be taken by the individual without information asymmetry.
- The Act provides for the constitution of an expert committee for periodic review and effective implementation of the Act.
Neither the Act nor the rules define the constitution, procedure and terms of reference of the committee.
Such an important body should be more transparent and subject to public scrutiny.
The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 is an important legislation that is indicative of a progressive nation. The ministry must listen to stakeholders who have submitted responses on the draft rules and regulations before finalization. The legislation will be effective only if the gaps pointed out by the stakeholders are discussed and solved.
Connecting the dots:
- The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 is an important legislation that is indicative of a progressive nation. However there are issues that needs to be resolved after a consultative discussion with all the stakeholders. Discuss.
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; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections
General Studies 3:
- Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security.
India working on robust data protection regime
Government (Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, MEITY) had set up the committee on Data Protection in India, led by Justice B.N. Srikrishna.
The objective of this committee was:
- “to ensure growth of the digital economy while keeping personal data of citizens secure and protected”.
- “to study various issues relating to data protection in India and make specific suggestions on principles to be considered for data protection and suggest a draft data protection bill”.
The Committee has recently released its provisional views on the formulation of a data protection framework and invited public comments.
Social media sites, telecom operators, government agencies and every such body that gets to collate data on individuals by way of the nature of their operations would soon be governed by a set of laws that would protect an individual’s sensitive personal data or information (SPDI).
Seven key principles
Following are the seven key principles proposed by the committee on data protection:
- Technology agnostic: The data protection law must take into account the continuous change in technology and standards of compliance. Technology will evolve rapidly and the law will need to keep pace with changes.
- Holistic application: The law must cover both the private sector and the government sector, maybe with different obligations though.
- Informed consent: The consent should be not just consent but “informed and meaningful”.
- Data minimisation: The data collected or being processed should be minimal — only that data which is necessary for the purpose for which it is being sought. The Committee clarified that all information is not personal data. Only such information by which a person can be identified would be categorised as SPDI and come under the ambit of law.
- Controller accountability: The committee is clear on fixing accountability of data controllers. It says, “The data controller should be held accountable for any processing of data, whether by itself or entities with whom it may have shared the data for processing.”
- Structured enforcement: The committee proposes to set up “a high-powered statutory authority”, which “must co-exist with appropriately decentralised enforcement mechanisms.” It envisions three main objectives of a data protection authority: monitor, investigate and enforce the laws; set the standards; and generate awareness in an increasingly digitised society.
- Deterrent penalties: It proposes for “adequate” penalties for “wrongful processing” to ensure deterrence.
Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee suggest that the above seven key principles should guide the data protection framework in the country.
The Committee has done a commendable job on a number of counts:
- It has covered a wide range of issues pertaining to data protection and privacy.
- It has looked at the issues from the prism of what is relevant in India, however, it has also brought in perspectives from other countries.
Our country urgently needs a strategic position on data which represents risks such as colonisation, privacy issues and a “winner-takes-all market,” in which the best players are able to seize a very big portion of the rewards, and the remaining contenders are left with very little. Data is being vacuumed out of the country and going into unaccountable systems that don’t come under Indian law, which probably share data with foreign governments.
In order to protect people’s privacy and make companies accountable, India needs a data protection law “as soon as possible” as it is a “fundamental thing” so that the users can demand from the domestic or foreign companies to share their data when needed. “This is not a technology problem, but a policy problem.”
Instrumentally, a firm legal framework for data protection is the foundation on which data-driven innovation and entrepreneurship can flourish in India. Fostering such innovation and entrepreneurship is essential if India is to lead its citizens and the world into a digital future committed to empowerment, experiment and equal access.
Connecting the dots:
- The dawn of the information age has opened up great opportunities for the beneficial use of data. However, it has also enhanced the perils of unregulated and arbitrary use of personal data. Discuss. Also examine the need of framing a robust law to protect individual data.
- Discuss the need to have a comprehensive Data Protection Law in India. Also discuss the recommendations of Justice B.N. Srikrishna led committee on Data Protection in India.
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