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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 20th March 2018

  • IASbaba
  • March 21, 2018
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 20th March 2018

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(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


Climate change to affect wheat production in India

Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Environment

Key pointers:

  • Central Indian States, including Madhya Pradesh, which account for nearly one-fifth of wheat production in the country, would be severely hit by climate change, leading to a drop-in yield by 2050, says a study by Indian wheat scientists.
  • Researchers at the Karnal-based Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR), which is a constituent lab of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, found that the other worst-hit States would be Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Assam.
  • Another six regions in Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Gujarat, which account for 12 per cent of the national production, are moderately vulnerable.
  • In arid and tropical regions, a further rise in temperature would be detrimental as it would increase the heat stress and rate of evaporation.
  • It is projected that wheat output would fall to the tune of 10 per cent if atmospheric temperature increases by 2 degrees Celsius.

The potential loss, on the other hand, can be minimised if region-specific adaptation and climate-smart farming practices are adopted.

Article link: Click here


Law on online ‘hate speech’

Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Key issues related to Governance

Key pointers:

  • Moving a step ahead towards framing a distinct law for online “hate speech,” the Home Ministry has written to the Law Commission to prepare a draft law.
  • The provisions will deal with offensive messages sent through social media and online messaging applications.
  • A committee headed by former Lok Sabha Secretary General T.K. Viswanathan submitted a report recommending stricter laws to curb online hate speech. The panel was formed after Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, was scrapped by the Supreme Court in 2015.
    The scrapped provision provided punishment for sending offensive messages through communication services.
  • The 267th report of the Law Commission had recommended inserting additional provisions in Sections 153 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  • The Bezbaruah committee had proposed to insert two stricter anti-racial discrimination provisions in the IPC.

Article link: Click here


(MAINS FOCUS)


NATIONAL

TOPIC:General Studies 2:

  • Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
  • 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 or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

National Medical Commission Bill: A step in right direction

Background:

Article 47 of the Constitution makes it clear that the state is duty-bound to improve public health.
But India continues to face a health crisis, with an absolute shortage of and an inequitable presence of doctors and over-burdened hospitals.

  • Although India has 10 lakh medical doctors, it needs 3,00,000 more in order to meet the World Health Organisation standard of the ideal doctor-population ratio.
  • There is an 81% shortage of specialists in community health centres (CHC), the first point of contact for a patient with a specialist doctor. Those most affected by this are poor and rural patients who are then forced to consult quacks.
  • 82.2% of providers of “modern medicine” in rural areas do not have a medical qualification.
  • Rural India, which accounts for 69% of the population has only 21% of the country’s doctors serve them.

It is ironic that, while India is a hub for medical tourism (in 2016, India issued 1.78 lakh medical visas), it is a common sight in government hospitals to have patients sleep in corridors waiting for their outpatient department appointments.

The National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2017, among other things, seeks to address the above problems.

Issue of commercialisation:
Section 10A in the Indian Medical Council Act resulted into an exponential rise in the number of private medical colleges. This was encouraged given there is a shortfall in the number of medical practitioners.
However, the high capitation fees charged by these colleges can have a negative effect in terms of affordability of medical services. The regulatory authority has been unable to act.
With corruption in the issuing of licences and regulatory requirements, many academic institutions have a faculty of questionable standards, with obvious repercussions on the quality of education imparted.

How does the bill help to solve the issue?

  • The Bill puts in place a mechanism to assess and rate medical colleges regularly, with a high monetary penalty for failure to comply with standards. Also, such failures will result in the de-recognition of a college.
  • There is also an enabling provision for the government to regulate the fees of up to 40% seats in private medical colleges.
  • The Bill goes relaxes the criteria for approving a college in specific cases. Currently, there is a blanket standard for establishing a medical college in India, which disregards the contextual realities in some areas such as difficult terrain or a low population density. For instance, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland do not have a single medical college.

Issue of Inverted pyramid:

India has a well-thought-out, three-tier public health-care system which rests on

  • A base of sub-centres (SC) and primary health centres (PHCs) which take care of common ailments.
  • Patients in need of specialist consultations go up the chain to secondary centres (CHCs) , or tertiary centres, which are district hospitals (DHs) or medical colleges.

However, because of a poor vanguard, patients who can be treated at the “base” (SCs or PHCs), go straight to the “apex” (CHCs or DHs).

How does the bill help to solve the issue?

With the government now planning to revamp 1,50,000 sub-centres into health and wellness centres by 2022, there is need for an equivalent number of mid-level providers.

  • The Bill has facilitated this by providing for a bridge course for AYUSH/non-allopathic doctors. This course, to be designed by a joint sitting of all medicine systems, will ensure that non-allopathic doctors are trained to prescribe modern medicines in a limited way, within the scope of primary care.
    A parallel is the system of “barefoot doctors” in China.
  • Thirteen States now permit AYUSH doctors to prescribe varying levels of allopathic care. The NMC Bill will bring in a homogenisation of such rules without diluting the varied systems of medicines.
  • An added measure in the Bill prevents “cross-pathy” or the unqualified cross-over of health-care providers from one system to another. The Bill provides for two separate national registers – allopathic doctors, and AYUSH doctors who complete the bridge course, respectively.

Conclusion:
The Bill thus seeks to make structural changes in a stagnant and increasingly exploitative health-care system. It should be looked at as a step in the right direction.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss the problems in the healthcare sector segment of India. Also highlight how National Medical Commission is a step in right direction, helping sort various issues.

INTERNATIONAL

TOPIC:General Studies 2:

  • India and its neighbourhood- relations.
  • 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

Confronting the rising China

Introduction:

Last two years turned to be rather contentious between India and China. Delhi is now trying to reset relations with Beijing.
The reset is supposed to reinforce the proposition that China is India’s “natural ally”.

Issues:

  • The problems between the two countries have become increasingly intractable in recent years. The talks on resolving the boundary dispute have been stalled for more than a decade.
  • As the two armed forces operate closer to the long and disputed frontier, they run into each other quite frequently.
  • On the economic front, the trade deficit in favour of China continues to grow and at $52 billion in 2017 it constitutes nearly half of the gap between India’s imports and exports.
  • Within the region, China’s deepening ties with Pakistan and its growing economic and military penetration into the Subcontinent and the Indian Ocean are making India increasingly anxious and laying the foundation for prolonged friction between the two Asian giants.

Challenge:

  • Beijing has been active in blocking India’s effort to secure membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
  • China also remains the only major power that does not support India’s claim for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
  • China’s absolute and relative power vis a vis India (and all other powers in the world) has dramatically risen, thanks to decades of economic reform and sustained high growth rates.
    For example: China’s GDP ($12 trillion) is nearly five times that of India and its defence expenditure at $150 billion is three times larger than that of India.
  • The huge power differential in favour of China, Beijing’s growing global reach and expanding international influence mean Beijing has fewer reasons than before to accommodate India’s concerns.

Policy ahead:

  • Delhi must strive to retain its strategic space amid the expansion of the Chinese footprint and at the same time avoid the escalation of differences into disputes.
  • An effort, to widen the areas of cooperation that will provide some balance against the many negative factors that are unsettling bilateral relations, must continue.
    Delhi, for example, is deploying considerable resources to compete with Beijing in economic and military diplomacy in India’s neighbourhood. It is also building strategic partnerships with other powers.
  • Even as India joins the quad, Delhi should try to engage with China in various multilateral forums including the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and keep alive all bilateral channels of communication.

Conclusion:

India, by no means, is alone in confronting the problems with Chinese power. All major nations are struggling to come to terms with it. As a larger country sharing a disputed border and an overlapping periphery, India’s task is a lot more complicated. Given this a set of policies can help India tackle China.

Connecting the dots:

  • India along with almost all the major nations is confronting the problems with Chinese power. Sharing a dispute border has only complicated matters for India. In this light discuss what policy measures should India adopt.

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