IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 25th September 2018
Female circumcision issue goes to Constitution Bench
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Health, Social issues
- The Supreme Court on Monday referred to a five-judge Constitution Bench petitions seeking a declaration that the practice of female circumcision or ‘khafz,’ prevalent in the Dawoodi Bohra sect, amounts to female genital mutilation (FGM) and is a violation of women’s right to life and dignity.
- A Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud observed that the issue deserved to be examined by a Constitution Bench.
- Earlier, at hearings, Justice Chandrachud had observed that circumcision leaves permanent, emotional and mental scars in a young girl.
- The Chief Justice had orally observed that the Constitution does not allow a person to cause injury to another.
- The Bench had said the practice should be tested in the light of constitutional morality.
Arguments in favour
- The practice is essential to religion and had been continuing since the 10th century.
- Female circumcision is not FGM.
Centre finalising tariffs on non-essential imports
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian economy
- The government has finalised the list of non-essential items on which it will be imposing import tariffs.
- The list will be notified soon, would include electronics, gems, select items of steel that are also manufactured in India, imported apples, and almonds, among others.
- The main issue under consideration was whether to include gold in it.
- The government had earlier this month, announced the easing of overseas borrowing norms for manufacturing companies, removal of restrictions on foreign portfolio investment in corporate bonds and tax benefits on masala bonds.
- The imposition of tariffs on the import of non-essential items is expected to bolster these efforts in stabilising the rupee’s levels.
Odisha changes norms in food, procurement policy
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Agriculture economy and food security
- To facilitate entry of more small and marginal farmers and share-croppers into the procurement fold, Odisha is bringing changes in the norms of food and procurement policy for the Kharif Marketing Season (KMS) 2018-19.
- The past practice of deducting towards personal consumption requirement at the rate of three quintals of paddy per member in the family of farmer for computation of marketable surplus of paddy is waived out from KMS 2018-19.
- The Cabinet, which approved the food and procurement policy for KMS 2019 to regulate all aspects of paddy and rice procurement during the ensuing KMS, decided that paddy (Kharif crop) will be procured between November, 2018 and April, 2019. The paddy (Rabi crop) will be procured from May to June, 2019.
- The farmers would be paid the Minimum Support Price (MSP) fixed by the Central government at ₹1,750 per quintal for the common variety of paddy and ₹ 1,770 for Grade-A variety. The money would be directly paid into the bank accounts of farmers within three days of the procurement.
- The procured rice will partly be pumped into the Public Distribution System in the State, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) will evacuate the remaining to other States as per the MoU with the Centre.
- Paddy procurement process in all 308 procuring blocks will be conducted through paddy procurement automation system (P-PAS). All documents in connection with paddy procurement shall be generated from computer through P-PAS software to make the process hassle-free and transparent.
- The State government should issue farmer identification cards to all farmers in order to bring more small and marginal farmers and share-croppers into the procurement fold.
Panel approves nutrition norms
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Health and Nutrition, Food security
- The National Technical Board on Nutrition (NTBN) has approved guidelines proposed by Ministry of Women and Child Development, for severe acute malnutrition (SAM).
- The measures are part of the community-based health management of children suffering from SAM.
- The government had, till now, only put in place guidelines for the hospitalisation of severely wasted children who develop medical complications. Those norms were made public in 2011.
Guidelines and role of Anganwadi workers
- The guidelines outline the role of anganwadi workers and auxillary nurse midwives (ANMs) in identifying severely wasted children, segregating those with oedema or medical complications and sending them to the nearest health facility or nutrition rehabilitation centres.
- The remaining children are enrolled into “community based management”, which includes provision of nutrition, continuous monitoring of growth, administration of antibiotics and micro-nutrients as well as counselling sessions and imparting of nutrition and health education.
- According to the recommendations, anganwadi workers have to provide modified morning snacks, hot cooked meals and take home ration for SAM children.
- The morning snacks and hot-cooked meals, which are served at anganwadis to children between the age of three to six years, should be prepared freshly and served at the centralised kitchen/ anganwadi centres.
- Locally available cereals, pulses, green leafy vegetables and tubers, vitamin C rich fruits, as well as fresh milk and 3-4 eggs every week have also been prescribed.
- Importantly, the government has also revised the method to be used to measure wasting and advised calculating weight based on the height of children instead of the mid-upper arm circumference.
Do you know?
National Technical Board on Nutrition (NTBN)
- It has been constituted to make technical recommendations on policy-relevant issues on nutrition.
- The role of the board is advisory in nature.
- It has to advise the states and UTs on preventive measures and management of SAM children.
- The board has to coordinate the collation, synthesis of existing scientific and operational research, identify research gaps and make technical recommendations for the research agenda.
- It has to provide technical guidance on the design of nutrition surveys proposed by the states/UTs, other sectors and institutions and their coherence with ongoing National Health and other surveys.
- It has to formulate India specific growth indicators including stunting.
SC to rule on barring accused in heinous crimes from polls
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Elections
- A five-judge Constitution Bench is scheduled to pronounce its judgment on petitions to bar politicians facing charges of heinous crimes, such as murder, rape and kidnapping, from contesting elections.
- Under the Representation of the People Act, convicted lawmakers are disqualified, but not those facing charges.
- The Bench, made it clear that the SC could not legislate for Parliament.
- Chief Justice Misra had pointed out the urgency to do something to keep criminals at bay and prevent them from contesting elections.
- The Chief Justice had voiced the Supreme Court’s anguish at the helplessness of society to prevent criminalisation of politics at the very entry-point itself.
- The CJI had pointed out that Parliament was obliged under Article 102 (1) (e) (talks about disqualification to stand as a candidate for election to the Lok Sabha from a Parliamentary Constituency) to make a law.
- Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal had submitted that fast-track courts to try cases against politicians was the only solution.
India’s 100th airport opens in Sikkim
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Infrastructure and connectivity , Inclusive growth
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the first airport in Sikkim.
- With this, the number of functional airports in the country went up to 100.
- The airport at Pakyong, about 30 km from Gangtok and surrounded by mountains, is a major boost to connectivity in the mountainous State.
- The airport has been constructed at an estimated cost of ₹605 crore.
- The airport would be linked to the Union government’s UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) regional connectivity scheme and the airfare for about an hour would come to ₹2,500.
Yameen concedes defeat in Maldives presidential poll
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – International Relations
- Maldives President Abdulla Yameen conceded defeat in the presidential election, making way for the joint Opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
- Senior parliamentarian of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Mr. Solih secured 58.3% of the votes, while Mr. Yameen obtained 41.7%.
- India has welcomed the result of the Maldives’ presidential election and heartily congratulated the winning candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the President-elect, and expressed support for better ties.
- The two leaders agreed to work closely together to further strengthen the close, friendly and good neighbourly relations between the two countries.
- The Ministry said the election process amounted to a triumph of democracy in the country where public election was established a decade ago.
- The election marks not only the triumph of democratic forces in the Maldives but also reflects the firm commitment to the values of democracy and the rule of law.
- In keeping with ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’, India looks forward to working closely with the Maldives in further deepening the partnership, the statement said.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, etc.
- Health and Social Security
The primary anchor of a health-care road map
- Prime Minister rolled out the Centre’s flagship scheme Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyaan, also known as Ayushman Bharat or the National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM).
- This is the world’s largest health scheme which will serve a population that equals 27-28 European countries. The beneficiaries are almost equal to the population of Canada, Mexico and US put together.
- The Prime Minister also launched a toll free number 14555 for people to get more information about Ayushma Bharat scheme.
Achieving Universal Health Coverage:
- Universal health coverage is getting prioritised as a part of political reform with the launch of two pillars of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY):
- Ayushman Bharat (AB), where 1.5 lakh health sub-centres are being converted into health and wellness centres.
- The National Health Protection Mission (NHPM), which aims to provide health cover of ₹5 lakh per family, per annum, reaching out to 500 million people.
Align Health entitlement to Income lines
- This 2003 solution of the Vajpayee-era recommended, inter alia, that good governance lies in aligning the income lines for health and housing.
- In other words, de-link entitlement to health care from the poverty line.
- In that event, the income lines for housing could be simultaneously applicable for health entitlement. The PMJAY would help improve availability, accessibility, and affordability for the needy 40% of the population.
- The government could then proceed, to scale the health premium subsidy in line with housing categories — economically weaker sections (entitled to 75-90%), lower income (entitled to 50%), and middle income groups (entitled to 20%).
Build in accountability
- The NHPM is pushing for hospitalisation at secondary- and tertiary-level private hospitals, while disregarding the need for eligible households to first access primary care, prior to becoming ‘a case for acute care’.
- Without the stepping stone of primary health care, direct hospitalisation is a high-cost solution. Forward movement is feasible only through partnerships and coalitions with private sector providers.
- These partnerships are credible only if made accountable. The National Health Policy 2017 proposed “strategic purchasing” of services from secondary and tertiary hospitals for a fee.
- Upgrading district hospitals to government medical colleges and teaching hospitals will enhance capacities at the district level.
- Service providers will become accountable for cost and quality if they are bound to the nuts and bolts of good governance outlined above.
Transform primary care
- Elimination of catastrophic health expenditures for the consumer can come about only if there is sustained effort to modernise and transform the primary care space.
- Bring together all relevant inter-sectoral action linking health and development so as to universalise the availability of clean drinking water, sanitation, garbage disposal, waste management, food security, nutrition and vector control.
- The Swachh Bharat programme must be incorporated in the PMJAY. These steps put together will reduce the disease burden.
- Kerala and Tamil Nadu have demonstrated that high-performing, primary health-care systems do address a majority of community/individual health needs.
- The health and wellness clinics must connect with early detection and treatment.
- Robust delivery of preventive, clinical and diagnostic health-care services will result in early detection of cancers, diabetes and chronic conditions, mostly needing long-term treatment and home care.
- Investment in primary care would very quickly reduce the overall cost of health care for the state and for the consumer.
- The “best health care at the lowest possible cost” should be inclusive by covering various sections of population, make health-care providers accountable for cost and quality, achieve a reduction in disease burden, and eliminate catastrophic health expenditures for the consumer.
- In addition to above, it should be accompanied by the nuts and bolts of good governance that will support solutions and systems to achieve these objectives.
- Technology and innovation are further reducing costs. AI-powered mobile applications will soon provide high-quality, low-cost, patient-centric, smart wellness solutions.
- The scaleable and inter-operable IT platform being readied for the Ayushman Bharat is encouraging.
- At the 1.5 lakh ‘health and wellness clinics’, register households to provide them access to district-specific, evidence-based, integrated packages of community, primary preventive and promotive health care.
- The PMJAY is trying to create a major shift in reshaping the horizon of public healthcare space, but the proof of its success lies in its implementation.
- As we integrate prevention, detection and treatment of ill-health, the PMJAY will win hearts if people receive a well-governed ‘Health for All’ scheme.
Connecting the dots:
- Critically analyse the health care roadmap of India.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
General Studies 4
- Ethics; Behavioural Science
The power of a nudge
- According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 202 institutions around the world are applying behavioural insights to public policy.
- While most of them are found in the U.S., the U.K., Europe and Australia, some are found in developing countries in West Asia, Africa and Latin America.
- These institutions partner with behavioural and social scientists and combine psychology, sociology, anthropology, and politics to understand human behaviour to design effective public policies.
Understanding a paradox
- Over the last few years, it has been observed that even the most well-intentioned public policy programmes fail to be adopted by people who would benefit from them the most.
- On the contrary, people repeatedly make decisions that serve neither their own interests nor of others.
- In India, for instance, despite access to toilets, open defecation remains a huge challenge. Finding answers to this paradox is where behavioural frameworks become relevant.
- Until recently, it was assumed that individuals make rational choices, and the right incentives determine the “right choices”. But evidence suggests otherwise.
- People’s choices and decisions are not rational but determined by a far more complex set of psychological, cognitive and behavioural factors.
- Given their limited attention and computational capacity, people gravitate towards the status quo, which often results in a gap between the policy’s intent and action.
- It’s therefore not surprising that people discount the risk of stroke and “choose” not to invest in health insurance.
- Decisions also tend to be clouded because of societal perceptions and adherence to norms — for instance, girls are still married young.
- Implementation outcomes can be better understood if we include ‘nudges’ — small, easy and timely suggestions to influence behaviour.
Behavioural science and socio-cultural aspects of target groups
- While success stories from across the world showcase the potential of informed behavioural adjustments to policies, these can’t be simply emulated in developing countries. There first needs to be an analysis of social norms.
- While applying this science it should be considered that the advantages of deploying these insights can only be reaped if national contexts and differences in socio-economic, cultural and political narratives are appreciated.
- One such effort is cognitive scientist Christine Legare’s work in Bihar, to improve the quality of health-care service delivery by front-line workers.
- It takes into account popular ‘rituals’, like keeping a baby away from the ground in a cot (palna), or marking decorations around her hearth (chulah), for transmitting messages that are culturally acceptable.
- Behavioural science can be applied to large-scale programmes.
- The very nature of the science being diffused in a social and cultural context enables it to generate effective and sustained results to public service programmes.
- For example, PENN SoNG (University of Pennsylvania social norms group) is collating the analyses of core social motivators for open defecation and related behaviours in Tamil Nadu and Bihar with culturally appropriate social measures to convert toilet usage into a sustained habit.
- Interventions that are designed using this science can reduce the intent-to-action gap.
- There is a plethora of tools like defaults, reminders, prompts, and incentives that can reduce poor adherence and increase compliance for sustained impact throughout the life of an intervention.
- For example, Kilkari, a mobile service by the government that delivers free, weekly and time-appropriate audio messages about pregnancy, childbirth and childcare directly to families’ mobile phones. It focuses on improving uptake of health services.
- The data collected and evaluated from a behavioural insights approach can be used for better management of programme performances.
- Rigorous evaluation of behaviour is often missed while measuring programme performances, and often this missing data can help explain the limited impact of well-intended government programmes.
- The impressive work done by the Ministry of Rural Development, on monitoring the implementation of national flagship schemes through DISHA dashboards, can be leveraged for evaluating behavioural change on the ground.
- While DISHA does not include measures on behaviour, it measures implementation of programmes. It shows how India can benefit from the use of behavioural insights in policy decision-making.
Connecting the dots:
- We have enough number of schemes, policies and laws. To drive India from developing to a developed nation, there is strong need of behavioural change. Critically comment.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Which of the following statements are correct about the term ‘Malnutrition’?
- Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients.
- People are also malnourished, or suffer from over nutrition if they consume too many calories
Select the code from below:
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2) Which of the following terms associated with the different forms of malnutrition is/are correctly matched?
- Child stunting: Low Weight for Height.
- Adult Obesity: Carrying excess body fat with a body mass index > 30.
- Child Wasting: Low Height for age.
Choose the appropriate option:
- 1, 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- Only 2
- 1 and 2
Q.3) Therapeutic food is used for supplementing the nutrients in the diet. Which of the following statements are correct regarding therapeutic foods?
- They are prepared foods that contain specific calories, vitamins and minerals.
- These high-energy foods are mainly used to treat malnourished children living in areas were nutrient-rich foods are limited or unavailable.
- They do not require cooking and have a long shelf life.
Select the code from below:
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- All of the above
Q.4) Which of these are kharif crops in Tamil Nadu?
Select the correct code
- 1,2 and 3
- 1,2 and 4
- 2,3 and 4
- None of the above
Q.5) Which of the following are Rabi crops?
Select the correct code:
- 1, 2 and 3
- 3 and 4
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 4
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