IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 19th March 2018
Promoting religious tourism in the country
Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Indian Economy
- In a bid to spur domestic travel, the government is planning to promote religious tourism in the country.
- Plans are also afoot to popularise yoga and Ayurveda among millennials, as part of efforts to reach out to people across the globe and get “millions of more people to India.”
- The number of domestic tourist visits in 2017 stood at about 1.8 billion, up about 12% from the over 1.6 billion in the previous year.
- The government has already approved two projects —
Swadesh Darshan Scheme, wherein infrastructure will be built around places of tourist interest under the umbrella of 15 themes such as Buddhist Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive or PRASAD scheme that focuses on the development and beautification of identified pilgrimage destinations.
- The Tourism Ministry recently launched ‘Yogi of the Racetrack’, a minute-long advertisement on yoga, that received more than 11.5 million hits in a week.
- Foreign tourist arrivals in 2017 stood at over 10 million. This resulted in foreign exchange earnings of $ 27.6 billion last year.
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105th Indian Science Congress
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Science & Technology
- The 105th Indian Science Congress was inaugurated recently in Manipur.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested that all of India’s scientists spend 100 hours with 100 children every year. This would accelerate the spread of science in society.
- Technology, he said, will allow far greater penetration of services such as education, health care and banking to citizens.
- The Prime Minister said the government was committed to increasing the share of non-fossil fuel based capacity in the electricity mix above 40% by 2030.
- “Five years ahead of the WHO target India shall eliminate TB from the country in 2025,” he said.
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TOPIC: General Studies 3:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health
Passive euthanasia: Made legal In India
The Supreme Court recently upheld that the fundamental right to a “meaningful existence” includes a person’s choice to die without suffering.
It has permitted a ‘living will’ by patients, authorising the withdrawal of medical support if they slip into medically irretrievable conditions such as irreversible coma.
Passive euthanasia is now legal.
The difference between passive and active euthanasia:
- In active euthanasia, medical professionals, or a relevant authority, deliberately act upon a patient’s desire (such as giving an injection or medication) to cause the patient to die.
- In passive euthanasia, the patient dies because the mechanism that keeps the patient alive is removed (life-support machines, feeding tube, a life-extending operation, drugs).
Passive euthanasia is legal in many countries but active euthanasia is legal only in Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland and a few states in the US.
The SC verdict:
The core philosophy underlying the Supreme Court’s verdict allowing passive euthanasia and giving legal status to ‘advance directives’ is that the right to a dignified life extends up to the point of having a dignified death.
The verdict lays down a broad legal framework for protecting the dignity of a terminally ill patient or one in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) with no hope of cure or recovery. For, in such circumstances, “accelerating the process of death for reducing the period of suffering constitutes a right to live with dignity”.
The court has invoked its inherent power under Article 142 of the Constitution to grant legal status to advance directives, and its directives will hold good until Parliament enacts legislation on the matter.
‘Living will’, or an advance directive:
A practice whereby a person, while in a competent state of mind, leaves written instructions on the sort of medical treatment that may or may not be administered in the event of her reaching a stage of terminal illness.
In the past 24 years, the SC has delivered four judgments on this subject.
- In the P Ratinam (1994) case, a two-judge bench held that the right to life includes the right to die as every fundamental right has both positive and negative connotations: Just as the right to “free speech” includes the “right to silence”, the right to life includes the “right to die”.
- The Ratinam verdict was overruled within two years by a two-judge bench in the Gian Kaur case (1996).
- In 2011, a two-judge bench headed by Justice Markandey Katju validated passive euthanasia in the Aruna Shanbaug case.
- But in 2014, a three-judge bench noted the inconsistencies in the 2011 verdict and made a reference to a constitution bench, leading to the latest verdict.
- The judgment is favourable to patients who will now be able to avoid needless medical interventions.
- The decision will also save a lot of money and agony for patients and their families, and prevent unnecessary treatments for the terminally ill.
- There can be instances wherein the patient may have been coerced to write the will. Sometimes a living will written at a certain juncture of a person’s life may not be applicable after a period of time when circumstances may have changed.
- To decide that there is no hope in continuing the treatment and that there is zero possibility of recovery precludes the astonishing ability of the human body to recuperate. As long as there is life, there is hope.
- Even with the legalization of euthanasia, the “choice” to die may sometimes not be the final prerogative of the patient. The patient could be too ill to decide. Here, the decision-makers possibly will be the medical team and the patients’ relatives, not the patient.
- India needs improved access to high-quality healthcare for the terminally ill, referred to as palliative care — right from the time an illness is diagnosed till the end of life.
The WHO defines palliative care as a multi-disciplinary approach that improves the quality of life of patients with life-threatening illnesses, and their families, by relieving suffering and pain — physical, psycho-social and spiritual.
As of now, there are six million people who need palliative care, while there are only 1,400 centres, making it one centre for every 4,300 patients.
- Living will make sense when coupled with a medical power of attorney and independent third-party monitoring.
This will allow for a middle way considering all the interests at play: the right of the patient, the state’s interest in human life, and the interest of the patient’s family.
The Supreme Court has taken a bold decision. It must be easy for a family to put into action a patient’s desire to die and this will depend on how quickly the process of medical/judicial reviews and verifications take place.
If done tardily and with insensitivity, the whole purpose can be self-defeating.
Connecting the dots:
- In one of the landmark judgement recently, the Supreme court legalised passive euthanasia along with providing guidelines for advanced directives. Discuss the implications of this verdict.
General Studies 2:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
General Studies 3:
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Implementation of Forest Rights Act, 2006 in letter and spirit
The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 or FRA was a landmark legislation that sought to restore the rights of forest dwellers over land, community forest resources and habitats, and the governance and management of forests.
Prior to the FRA, 2006, most forest dwellers in the country were denied rights to their traditional forestlands since colonial times. The government had even classified some of them as encroachers on their own land.
Even 11 years after implementation of FRA, there is much to be desired.
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs’ latest database of October 2017 reveals that out of 41,89,827 claims for land rights made by forest dwellers, only 18,24,27 have been accepted by the authorities.
- The recognition process of rights is poor, which has resulted in the rejection of thousands of legitimate claims made by forest dwellers. In some cases titles have been given over less area than what was legitimately claimed by forest dwellers.
- Of the total forest rights titles issued so far, the majority are of individual forest rights. Only less than 4 per cent titles recognise community forest rights.
Though recognition of individual rights is crucial the community forest titles enable all the villagers, including landless people, to access, use and sell minor forest produce and use other forest resources.
- Conflicting policies:
Instead of addressing the implementation problems, governments across the country have introduced conflicting policies that go against the spirit of the FRA.
Maharashtra issued a Village Forest Rules notification in May 2014 under the Indian Forest Act, 1927. These rules place the governance of forests in the hands of committees that are constituted and controlled by the forest department.
Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and many other states have forced plantations on recognised individual and community forest areas without communities’ consent.
- The Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act 2016 was passed to manage the more than Rs 50,000 crore fund to be used for plantation, despite protests from tribal organisations across the country.
The CAF Act has been structured in a manner that it provides total control of the massive fund to the forest bureaucracy with virtually no political accountability and consent of the gram sabha for plantation activity in their recognised and potential community forest areas.
- Diversion of forests for industrial and development projects without settling forest dwellers rights and without their free and prior informed consent has been indiscriminately carried out.
- Implementation of the Forest Rights Act, in letter and spirit, will not only help resolve the increasing land conflicts but also help uplift the economic and social status of forest dwellers.
- The government should realise that the Forest Rights Act is not an obstacle to growth. Rather, it can enhance the livelihood of people and promote sustainable forest management through collective action with legal sanction, scientific inputs and social process.
Case study: Pachgaon village in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra.
A study reports that, after recognition of their community forest rights, the 65 households in the village have earned Rs 91 lakh between 2013-2017 as wages by harvesting bamboo in their community forest. There is a reverse migration happening in this village. The forest fires have come down drastically due to regular patrolling and monitoring by the villagers.
Like Pachgaon, there are hundreds of villages across the country which have been empowered under the FRA to access their customary rights over forestland. They have proved how the FRA can contribute to their livelihood and sustainable management of forests.
The government should understand the potential of the FRA to address rural distress and not subvert its provisions.
The state governments across the country should bring amendments to their forest law, especially laws related to minor forest produce, so that millions of forest dwellers will benefit from their access to forest resources.
Connecting the dots:
- Implementation of the Forest Rights Act, in letter and spirit, will not only help resolve the increasing land conflicts but also help uplift the economic and social status of forest dwellers. Analyze.
Up in the air
The centres failure to steer agriculture right
Reimagining federalism to fulfils India’s potential
Trigeneration will create the right energy
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