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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 8th January 2018

  • IASbaba
  • January 8, 2018
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains

Focus)- 8th January 2018

Archives


(PRELIMS+MAINS FOUCS)


Social security code for informal labour 

Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Inclusive growth

Key pointers:

  • The central government is readying the blueprint for a social security scheme that is specifically aimed as a safety net for workers in the informal labour sector.
  • The draft social security code, drafted by the Ministry of Labour & Employment, aims for universal coverage that includes those who are outside the ambit of the EPFO and the ESIC.
  • The scheme envisages mandatory pension, insurance against disability and death, and maternity coverage, alongside optional medical and unemployment coverage.

Background:

  • According to the survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) in 2011-12, about 83 per cent or 39.14 crore persons out of total 47.41 crore employed persons were employed in unorganised sector.
  • The organised sector is already covered through social security legislations like the Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 and the Employees State Insurance Act, 1948, while the labour law coverage for unorganised sector is lacking in the country.

Article link: Click here


Kerala’s plan for tackling AMR

Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Issues related to health

Key pointers:

  • With antimicrobial resistance (AMR) emerging as a major concern in the health as well as allied sectors such as veterinary, dairy, fisheries and poultry, Kerala is all set to launch its strategic action plan for tackling AMR.
  • The State intends to set up an AMR surveillance network to have a clear understanding of the drug-resistant pathogens in the community, reducing the irrational consumption of antibiotics, and ensuring that rational antibiotic prescription policies are followed by medical fraternity.
  • The government is coordinating with stakeholders in agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries, poultry, dairy sectors also
  • The draft AMR action focusses on five strategies-

Pic credit: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/article22388176.ece/alternates/FREE_300/07tv%20AMRcol

The concept of One Health:

Kerala will be dealing with the AMR situation from the ‘One Health’ platform.
One Health is a fairly recent global concept that the health of humans is linked to the health of animals and environment).

Article link: Click here


Food poisoning: A common outbreak in India

Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Issues related to health

Key pointers:

  • A data by the Union Health Ministry’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) has indicated that food poisoning is one of the commonest outbreaks reported in 2017. This is apart from acute diarrhoeal disease (ADD).
  • Acute diarrhoeal disease and food poisoning have been common outbreaks since 2008. This is followed by chickenpox and measles.
  • Food poisoning, also called food-borne illness, is caused by eating contaminated food. Infectious organisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites or their toxins are the most common causes.

Pic credit: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article22392233.ece/alternates/FREE_660/TH08Food%20poisoningcol

Article link: Click here


(MAINS FOCUS)


NATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders
  • 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

Inefficient land use by government

Introduction- the problem of unused land:

A large proportion of government land lies unused.
The Ministries of Railways and Defence, respectively, have 43,000 hectares and 32,780 hectares of land lying vacant, without even any proposed use. According to reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), the 13 major port trusts have 14,728 hectares of land lying idle.
Land is a crucial and often constraining input for production, not only in agriculture but also in secondary and tertiary sectors.
The problem of land scarcity has been aggravated by grossly wasteful land use by government agencies. While stock of land is fixed, its supply as an input in production is not — it crucially depends on land use patterns.

Issues:

  • Land hoarding by government agencies has created artificial scarcity and is one of the main drivers of skyrocketing urban real estate prices. Even after the recent correction in property prices, middle- and lower-income households find adequate housing unaffordable.
    High land prices also reduce competitiveness by increasing the cost of industrial and development projects.
  • The allocation of unused land is rife with corruption.
    Scams involving the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society, the Srinagar airfield project, and the Kandla Port Trust are a few of the many examples of alleged complicity between private developers and local officials to misuse government land.
  • The CAG also reports that none of the government agencies maintains adequate ownership records. For instance, the 13 major ports have failed to produce title deeds for as much as 45% of their land holdings. This makes squatters difficult to evict, and so they gravitate to these areas.
  • Large areas of unused or underutilised government land with an irresponsibly low FSI is an issue.
    The problem is most acute in government residences and office locales. Indian metros thus have the lowest FSI compared to those in other developing countries with similar population densities. The FSI in Shanghai is four times of that of Delhi and Mumbai.
  • A report by the CAG on Special Economic Zones shows that as much as 31,886 hectares, or 53% of the total land acquired by the government for these zones, remains unused — land which would have been put to more productive use by its original owners.

Way ahead:

In a welcome initiative, the Centre has asked departments to identify surplus land. Unfortunately, agencies aren’t cooperating.

  • The need of the hour is a comprehensive inventory of land resources and usage patterns for all government branches.
    It should include information on the location of each property, its dimensions, the legal title, current and planned use, and any applicable land use restrictions.
    This will enable effective identification of suboptimal land use, as well as of the land that is surplus.
  • Surplus land should be utilised to meet the ever-growing demands for services, such as water and waste disposal, as well for government-sponsored housing and transportation projects.
  • Land intended for future use can be rented out till such time it is needed, through a transparent auctioning process. This will prevent plots of land lying waste for years.
  • A public-government partnership can be the way out.
    We could take a cue from Britain. There, the government has pledged to provide details of ownership, location, and intended use for all properties. Citizens are invited to contest official land use and suggest alternatives.

Conclusion:

The problem of inefficient land use by government departments and public sector units is complicated and endemic. Given the importance of land for the country, we need to be creative in finding solutions.
As a first step, the government should agree to disclose its land use and release of excess land, the use of which it cannot justify.

Connecting the dots:

  • Land has become a scarce resource in India. In this light discuss the problem of inefficient land use by government departments and public-sector units. Suggest how the issue can be resolved.

NATIONAL

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

General Studies 3:

  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Achieving SDGs in an effective manner

Introduction:

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are inspiring many people around the world. It seems there is a consensus about the goals. The question is, how can the stakeholders work together more effectively to achieve them. 

Background:

The Club of Rome warned in 1972 that humanity would face a “Tragedy of the Commons” if it persisted with its paradigm of economic growth. Its warnings were largely ignored. Since then, more reforms within the prevalent paradigm enabled long periods of economic growth around the world. Meanwhile, systemic problems of environmental degradation, climate change, and economic inequities got worse. The SDGs are a realization that humanity cannot postpone much longer the development of new strategies for the management of the commons.

The 17 SDGs:

These fall into four groups.

  • Poverty, hunger, health, education, and gender equality relate directly to human development.
  • Water, energy, climate action, life below water, and life on land belong to the environment group.
  • The third group relates to the economy: decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, responsible consumption and production, and industry innovation.
  • The fourth group, of the last two SDGs, viz. “peace, justice and strong institutions”, and “partnerships for growth”, is the means by which results will be produced in the other groups of goals.

Systemic issues:

Problems such as persistent poverty and inequality, poor health, and environmental degradation that the SDGs aim to solve are systemic issues. They have multiple interacting causes.
They cannot be solved by any one actor.

Working with the commons:

Philanthropists are “giving back” to society in programmes aligned with the SDGs—as are business corporations through CSR (corporate social responsibility). Philanthropists and corporates ties up with NGOs.
Large, international NGOs, working on any issue around the world—such as the care of children, the concerns of the elderly, or the protection of the environment—know that they must work in partnership with local communities.
“Government by the people”, which is the essence of good, democratic governance, requires government executives to work with local communities to improve the commons.

Issue- Top down programmes:

The issue is that Governments construct centralized, top-down programmes. And corporate CSR, as well as international NGO programmes, are managed centrally to achieve scale and to improve efficiency by deploying best practices.

There are three problems with this approach.

  • One size does not fit all.
  • Many different capabilities that must be brought together to address systemic issues are unable to collaborate with each other easily on the ground when all of them, whether in government, an international NGO, or a global philanthropy, are “reporting up” to their respective bosses at their centres.
  • The people who must be the ultimate beneficiaries of the solutions, and who can contribute significantly to their design and implementation, have inadequate voices in the design and management of expert-driven, top-down programmes.

Way forward:

Strong institutions founded on principles of partnership, cooperation, and universal justice, which the last two SDGs underline, are essential. 

A new model of enterprises is required:

Faster progress towards the SDGs will require new models of enterprises in which the people must have a much greater say in governance.

Issue:

The tragedy of the commons is caused by the clash of two sets of rights along with two fundamental principles of good governance.
The fundamental principle driving democracy is human rights. Every individual, rich or poor, has a right to fundamental human needs such as health and education, and also to equal political rights in the governance of their societies.
The fundamental principle driving the growth of capitalist economies is the right to private property—which is consonant with a concept in economics that human beings are self-interested agents who will take care of only what they own.
These two principles lead to very different principles for the governance of enterprises.
Whereas in democratic governance every human being, even if she owns nothing, must have equal voice, in capitalist enterprises, those who own more (e.g. shares of a company) must have proportionally more weight in governance.

Way out:

An innovation in enterprise design to reconcile this dilemma is the concept of “social enterprises” promoted by Muhammad Yunus and others.
The owners of social enterprise are the beneficiaries of its services and profits.
Social enterprises stand in between the domains of for-profit corporations on one side (which extract and accumulate wealth from the commons) and charity, philanthropy, and CSR on the other side (which then “give back” to repair damage to the commons and “do good”).

Conclusion:

Strong institutions and partnerships for growth could be the keys to progress on the SDGs. Innovations in the design of cooperative institutions—of the people, by the people, for the people—are required to reconcile the democratic principle of equal human rights, with the capitalist principle of property rights.

Connecting the dots:

  • Strong institutions and partnerships for growth could be the keys to progress on the SDGs. Analyse.

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