IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 9th April 2018
Indian are averse to adopt differently-abled children
Part of: Mains GS Paper I- Social issues
- For every Indian parent who adopts a differently-abled child there are at least seven foreigners who adopt such children from India after they fail to find a family in the country.
- The latest data shared by the apex body for adoption in the country — Child Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) — reveals that domestic adoptions of children with special needs has fallen with every passing year.
At the same time, foreigners adopting children with a physical deformity or an ailment rose by 50% last year alone.
- As per law, efforts have to be made to place a child within India first, and only when a child is not accepted by Indian applicants is he or she referred to foreigners.
As a result, overseas applicants are mostly referred differently-abled children.
- The huge gap can be attributed to differences in cultural attitudes towards disabilities.
- While better social security abroad helps families adopt a child with disabilities, there is also a need to look within.
In India, there are issues related to schooling, access to public spaces, and employment opportunities. While all these factors do contribute to parents in India not opting for differently-abled children, the primary reason is attitude towards them.
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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.
India’s forest policy: Issues with latest draft
India’s Forest Policy was last revised in 1988 and thus changes are overdue.
The new draft Forest Policy 2018, however, ignores the lessons from this period and returns to the state-managed forestry of the 1950s, but with a neoliberal twist.
- India’s diverse forests support the livelihoods of 250 million people, providing them firewood, fodder, bamboo, beedi leaves and many other products. The timber currently benefits the state treasury.
- Forests also regulate stream flows and sediment, benefitting downstream communities.
- Finally, they provide global benefits of biodiversity and carbon sequestration.
However, these multiple goods and services, flowing to different beneficiaries, cannot be simultaneously maximised.
Forest policy, therefore, focusses on-
- Which benefits (and beneficiaries) to prioritise, where and through what process.
- Decide when and through what process to allow diversion of forest land for “non-forest” activities such as dam building, mining and agriculture.
Evolution of forest policy:
Forest policy in colonial India:
It focussed on maximising products and revenues for the state through the imperial forest department as sole owner, protector and manager of the forest estate.
Unfortunately, post-Independence policy continued this statist approach. Forests were seen as sources of raw material for industry and local communities were simply treated as labour.
The 1988 Forest Policy:
In a paradigm shift, the 1988 Forest Policy recognised the multiple roles of forests and prioritised environmental stability over revenue maximisation.
It also acknowledged that the needs of forest-dependent communities must be the “first charge” on forest produce.
Equally important, the policy emphasised people’s involvement in protecting and regenerating forests, thus formally recognising the limitations of state-managed forestry.
Joint forest management (JFM) was initiated in the 1990s to implement the concept of people’s involvement.
But what began with great expectations eventually ended up beinf fake.
- Foresters created thousands of village forest committees but severely limited their autonomy and jurisdictions.
- Donor money was spent on plantations but activities were stopped once funds ran out.
- “People’s participation” by executive order was too weak and lopsided a concept. Instead what was required was substantive devolution of control over forests.
The 1990s also saw the Supreme Court getting involved in forest governance. To regulate forest diversions, it introduced a high ‘net present value’ (NPV) charge on the lands diverted.
But the court refused to assign any role to local communities affected by such diversion, not even a share in the NPV received.
The Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006:
It created a historic opportunity for devolution.
- Its community forest resource provisions gave communities rights to both access and manage forests. Today, thousands of villages in Maharashtra and Odisha have received these rights, and hundreds have begun to exercise them.
- The FRA democratised the diversion process by requiring community concurrence for forest diversion once community forest rights are recognised.
The Adivasis of Niyamgiri in Odisha exercised this provision to prevent bauxite mining in their sacred hill tracts.
The 2018 Forest Policy draft:
Highlighting the decline in forest productivity, it identifies “production forestry” and plantations as the “new thrust area”.
Forest development corporations are to be the institutional vehicle. They will now enter into public-private partnerships (PPPs) to bring corporate investment into forest lands.
- In the past, production forestry led to replacing natural oak forests with pine monocultures in the Himalayas, natural sal forests with teak plantations in central India, and wet evergreen forests with eucalyptus and acacia in the Western Ghats. All this has decimated diversity, dried up streams and undermined local livelihoods.
PPPs will entail more such destruction, with even the profits ending up in corporate hands.
- There is little about decentralised governance in the draft policy though the term “community participation” is use, but not seriously.
The draft talks of “ensuring synergy” between gram sabhas and JFM committees, when the need is to replace JFM committees with statutorily empowered gram sabhas, and revamp the colonial-era Indian Forest Act by incorporating FRA provisions.
There is a need of revamping India’s forest policy. But the latest draft overlooks the ecological and social implications of carbon and production forestry and the need for decentralised democracy. Thus, there is a need to have a re-look.
Connecting the dots:
- Discuss how India’s forest policy has evolved over time. Also discuss the concerns associated with the new draft Forest Policy 2018.
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
Strengthening India-US Economic Partnership: Advancing prosperity
Despite vastly different levels of economic development, India and the US increasingly face a number of similar economic challenges.
Both countries need to rapidly create new jobs, move people into the middle class and keep them there, and take advantage of the opportunities that globalization can bring while mitigating its challenges to sustainable domestic growth and strong and equitable democratic societies.
Tackling challenges require effective domestic economic policies that address not just interest rates and investment, but also healthcare and education.
International economic partnerships will be a key part of the solution as well, and, working together, the US and India can advance shared prosperity.
The US-India economic relationship:
It has a strong foundation.
Bilateral trade has more than doubled since 2006, reaching $115 billion in 2016.
By leveraging the ties that already exist, and through a coordinated strategy of investment and innovation, a smart US-India economic partnership can help each country improve the condition of its people.
Boosting economic growth by strengthening partnership:
Three areas of bilateral cooperation in particular can boost economic growth that reaches all sectors of society in both countries.
- The two countries must invest in infrastructure. India needs to invest $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years to meet its infrastructure needs.
The US department of treasury has been providing technical assistance to help the Pune municipal corporation issue municipal bonds. By expanding this programme, more cities around India could fund their infrastructure needs.
Similarly, large institutional investors, such as US public pension funds, have been increasingly focused on investing in global infrastructure since they need a diversity of quality investment options to help them meet the retirement security needs of their beneficiaries, who include public school teachers, firefighters, and police officers.
In order to link up investors with ripe investment opportunities, both countries should hold institutional investor summits to facilitate private sector investment in each other’s infrastructure.
This focus can boost long-term economic growth and job creation in both countries.
- Both countries must develop new and innovative ways to contend with the changing landscape of employment.
As the nature of work changes, creating jobs requires innovation in addition to investment.
India and the US are home to tremendous human capital and research and development capabilities, and the two countries should bring these together in policy forums and research centres.
By holding a bilateral dialogue focused on the future of work, policymakers, entrepreneurs, technology experts, and community leaders can address employment trends and community needs to refine policy solutions that leverage the changing nature of work to create stable, well-paying jobs and empower citizens.
- Subnational cooperation is critical to economic growth in the two large, diverse federal democracies, where states and cities will be key actors as they craft solutions that meet their regions’ unique needs.
Large states and cities should create their own offices of international affairs, and work with the foreign ministries to connect one another with technical training, capacity building, and best practices.
This can also advance the existing cooperation on smart cities.
The US government is currently providing technical assistance for three Indian cities—Ajmer, Allahabad, Visakhapatnam—identified by India for building modern infrastructure and renewable energy capacity.
A vibrant democracy functions best when all its citizens are empowered. Without jobs that benefit all segments of society, neither country will be able to support sustainable growth, and the backlash against trade will grow, harming economic opportunities and the openness of both societies.
India and the US are often described as indispensable democratic partners. Delivering on the economic opportunity could play a major role in realizing the potential of this partnership.
Connecting the dots:
- India and the US are often described as indispensable democratic partners. Strengthening the economic partnership can help advance shared prosperity given similar economics challenges.
Inclusion and right to dignity
A case to withdraw triple talaq
Taming the hydra
Changing paradigm on economic policy