IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 12th October 2018
(PRELIMS + MAINS SNIPPETS)
Global Hunger Index 2018
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Health issue
- 1 in 5 Indian children under the age of five are ‘wasted’, which means they have extremely low weight for their height, reflecting acute under-nutrition.
- Overall, India has been ranked at 103 out of 119 countries in the Index, with hunger levels in the country categorised as “serious”.
Four main indicators are used to calculate hunger levels in the report –
- Undernourished population (1/3rd weight),
- Child wasting (1/6th weight),
- Child stunting (1/6th weight) and (iii)Child stunting (1/6th weight) and
- Infant mortality rate (1/3rd weight).
India has shown improvement in three of the indicators during 2013-2017
- The percentage of undernourished people in the population has dropped from 18.2% in 2000 to 14.8% in 2018.
- The child mortality rate has halved from 9.2% to 4.3%, while child stunting has dropped from 54.2% to 38.4% over the same period.
- However, the prevalence of child wasting has actually worsened in comparison to previous reference years.
- It stood at 17.1% in 2000, and increased to 20% in 2005. In 2018, it stands at 21%.
Do you know?
- The only country with a higher prevalence of child wasting is the war-torn nation of South Sudan. (28%)
- Child wasting is high across South Asia, constituting a “critical public health emergency”, according to UN organisations.
- Reports highlights the importance of attention to birth outcomes and breastfeeding.
Illegal sale of antibiotics to grow farm animals – raise superbug risk
Part of: GS Mains II and IV – Health issues; Ethics; Unethical practices
- Zoetis, the world’s biggest animal drugs company, has been accused of double standards and of exposing consumers in India to “higher levels of risk” by selling antibiotics for purposes now banned in Europe and the U.S.
- Zoetis is supplying Indian farmers with antibiotics to help their animals grow faster.
- The practice should be banned worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), because it increases the prevalence of resistant bacteria that can infect humans and cause deadly and untreatable infections.
- Zoetis publicly supported new laws in the U.S. banning this abuse of antibiotics as part of its “continued commitment to antibiotic stewardship”. However, Zoetis continues to sell antibiotics directly to Indian farmers with claims on the company’s Indian website that they will make animals grow bigger and faster.
- This is not currently against Indian law although the government has called for it to end and Maharastra banned the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in agriculture.
Do you know?
- WHO, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have called for a worldwide ban on the use of antibiotics to fatten farm animals — a practice already banned in the EU and U.S. — in an attempt to stem the rising threat of resistance.
Person in news: G.D. Agarwal
- ‘Save Ganga’ crusader G.D. Agarwal dead
- He was on a fast to save the river; died of heart attack
- Formerly a professor in the civil engineering department at IIT-Kanpur who had adopted the name Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, the environmentalist was vocal on disallowing hydroelectric projects in Uttarakhand along the Ganga.
- Agarwal’s key demands included a special law to deal with pollution and encroachment on the Ganga, and maintaining the environmental flow of the river to prevent pollution.
- Indians top list of overstayers in U.K. – India accounts for the largest number of individuals staying in the U.K. illegally, and the number of those subjected to forced returns to India has fallen by 50% in three years
- Hurricane Michael in Panama City
TOPIC: General Studies 2 & Essay
- Judiciary, legislature and executive: Powers and functions
- Separation of powers
The great Indian abdication
“Unless… philosophers become kings in the cities… there can be no cessation of evils… for cities nor, I think, for the human race.”
— Plato, The Republic
- After the slew of verdicts by the Supreme Court, on triple talaq, Section 377, adultery, and the Sabarimala temple, the judiciary seems to have taken up the mission of deepening democracy and protecting social freedoms.
- India, at present, is going through a deep crisis in which the mission of deepening democracy, and protecting and advancing social freedoms is placed solely upon the judiciary.
- On the one hand there is a complete abandonment of the role of the legislature, and on the other there is a dichotomy between social morality and judicial morality (Or constitutional morality).
- The Supreme Court verdicts have curiously become a spectator sport on primetime television with a great amount of anticipation about the judgments in pending cases.
- The same curiosity is missing about parliamentary bills/debates, which are absolutely vital to a parliamentary democracy.
- One example would suffice. Earlier this year, the government amended the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act to retrospectively legalise political donations from foreign companies and individuals since 1976.
- This move, with potentially catastrophic effects for Indian democracy, was pushed through without discussion in Parliament and hardly any debate in the public sphere.
- If the judiciary has assumed the role of the single most important pillar of India’s parliamentary democracy, built on separation of powers, it is mainly because of the degradation and abuse of the roles of the legislature and the executive.
- Parliament, the supreme venue representing the people, has become a shadow of what it should be.
- If the Lok Sabha met for an average of 127 days in the 1950s, in 2017 it met for a shocking 57 days.
- If 72 Bills were passed in a year in the first Lok Sabha, the number was 40 in the 15th Lok Sabha (2009-14).
- The Budget session for this fiscal year saw a scarcely believable usage of 1% of its allotted time in the Lok Sabha, and the Budget, the most vital cog of a national’s material basis, itself passed without discussion through the guillotine process.
- The basic minimum that could have been done amidst mounting allegations in the Rafale fighter aircraft deal was to institute a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee, but even that is not forthcoming.
- Parliament, instead of representing the highest democratic ethos, panders to electoral majorities, leaving it incapable of challenging barbaric social/religious practices enforced by dominant interests.
- That is why it took 70 years for Section 377 to be partially struck down, then it is not surprising that the Supreme Court steps into this dangerous void left by the executive and the legislature.
- But the task of democratising society cannot be left to the judiciary, an unelected body, the higher echelons of which self-appoint their members through the collegium system.
- Instead, it must be through social and political struggles from the bottom, and not through judicial diktats from above (even if the latter can be useful).
State of the judiciary
- More importantly, the judiciary does not exist in a vacuum. Even when it attempts to correct regressive social practices, it is still a reflection of our society.
- Nothing could be more illustrative of this than the serious lack of diversity and representation, especially in the higher judiciary.
- In 1993, it was estimated that less than 4% of judges in the higher judiciary were from Dalit and tribal communities, and less than 3% were women.
- This led former President K.R. Narayanan to recommend that candidates from marginalised communities be considered as Supreme Court judges.
- Since Independence, only four Dalits have become Supreme Court judges, including one Chief Justice of India.
- Even in the lower judiciary, the story is not starkly different.
- Data from 11 States show that the representation of Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes judges ranged from 12% to 14%.
- It took 42 years for a woman judge to be appointed to the Supreme Court, and there have been only eight women judges in the Supreme Court so far.
- While representation can become tokenistic and essentialist; democracy is absolutely hollow without it.
- The abdication of responsibility by the legislature is even more damaging considering that the judiciary is groaning under the weight of a mammoth 3.3 crore pending cases.
- The backlog of cases in the High Courts and the Supreme Court is 43 lakh and 57,987 respectively.
- What could be more unjust in a democracy than thousands of innocent undertrials languishing in jails for a lifetime awaiting justice?
- A staggering 67% of India’s prison population awaits trial; 55% of these undertrials are Dalits, tribals, and Muslims.
- In this context, should the valuable time of the judiciary be spent in entertaining and delivering verdicts on Public Interest Litigations (PILs), seeking, to take a couple of instances, a ban on pornography or making the national anthem mandatory in cinema halls?
- The PIL, a unique and powerful tool to seek justice for the weakest sections, has now degenerated. Witness the recent example of one having been filed seeking segregated seats for vegetarian and non-vegetarian passengers in trains.
- Overworked courts cannot become a one-stop solution for performing legislative/executive tasks such as banning fire crackers/loud speakers and enforcing seat belt/helmet wearing rules.
- Some more examples are solving theological/civil society questions such as what the essence of Hinduism is or whether a mosque is integral for namaz (going beyond whether religious practices violate constitutional norms).
- The process of abolishing religious or secular injustices cannot become deep-rooted if it is merely judicial or legal.
- Take the Supreme Court’s recent directive urging new legislation to curb lynching.
- Politically-motivated lynchings targeting a community do not happen because of the absence of laws. They happen because of a willful subversion of laws by the executive backed by mobs riding on electoral majorities.
The irony of democracy is such that the task of completing the world’s largest democracy’s political and social revolution cannot be laid only at the doorstep of the wise men and women in robes.
Connecting the dots:
- The judiciary alone cannot take forward the mission of deepening democracy and protecting social freedoms. Elucidate.
TOPIC: General Studies 2 & Essay
- Social justice and empowerment of vulnerable sections of the society
- Government policies and issues arising out of their design and implementation
Silent and suffering
- One manual scavenger dies every five days, according to official data.
- Recently, the Delhi High Court gave the authorities two months to identify manual scavengers in the national capital.
Some Provisions of Act
- The act had endeavoured to eliminate not only dry latrines but also “insanitary latrines”;
- Prohibit the employment of manual scavengers for the hazardous manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks;
- Conduct a time-bound survey;
- Take measures for the rehabilitation of manual scavengers.
- The definition of ‘manual scavengers’ was widened to cover those involved in cleaning not only dry latrines but other insanitary latrines.
- The statute made offences under the act cognisable and non-bailable. They now attract stringent penalties.
- The act called for the setting up of vigilance/monitoring committee at sub-division, district, State and Central levels.
- The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis was given the responsibility of implementation.
- To eliminate open defecation, the act also called for the construction of an adequate number of sanitary community latrines in urban areas within three years from the date of commencement of the statute.
- The poor implementation of the act may have been because States and Union Territories have been slow in identifying insanitary latrines and manual scavengers.
- In 2014, many States denied even the existence of insanitary latrines in the Supreme Court.
- The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment said that rehabilitation of manual scavengers has been slow because they are mostly illiterate and have no exposure to any work other than sanitation-related activities.
- Many of them are old. They also do not have opportunities to avail of any skill development training.
- A lack of opportunities has also resulted in hesitation on the part of manual scavengers to come out into the open and demand jobs, making them a silent, suffering population in the country.
- The Delhi HC order proved two things;
- One, manual scavenging is a social reality despite its abolition by Parliament through the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013;
- Two, the government itself, directly or indirectly, employs manual scavengers.
- Therefore there is an urgent need to examine the ground realities, and provide alternatives to those who are involved in this occupation.
- First step should come from government by mechanizing all such manual activities, and providing social security benefits to those who are not in condition to acquire new skills and jobs.
Connecting the dots:
- Manual scavenging remains a social reality despite 2013 act calling for its abolition, comment.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Government of India started a program to distribute iron and folic acid tablets in schools. This was done to tackle the problem of:
- Vitamin deficiency
- Mental development
- Stunted growth
Q.2) Global Hunger Index is released by
- World Economic Forum
- World Health Organization
- World Bank
- International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Q.3) 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.4) Consider the following statements about Global Hunger Index (GHI)
- It is jointly published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and World Health Organisation (WHO).
- According to the recent index, India has a child-wasting prevalence over 20%.
Select the correct statements
- 1 Only
- 2 Only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
The great Indian abdication
#MeToo: Not without her consent
Has the SC missed a chance to keep criminals out of polls?
The health transition
The new non-alignment
Are cryptocurrencies and blockchain just scams?
Turning dirty coal into clean energy
Will India seize the wave of disruptive technology?