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31 August 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The article explains about the growing menace of garbage and possible solution to tackle this problem.

  • Few people realise how close we are to being choked by our own garbage. The generation of garbage in our cities has been growing and projections for the years ahead are frightening.
  • Delhi, for example, generates close to 9,000 tonnes of garbage per day and does not have the capacity to handle this waste scientifically and safely.
  • Ideally, municipal solid waste (MSW) should be segregated into wet waste (biodegradable, that is, kitchen waste), dry waste (such as paper, plastic, glass, metal etc. some of which is recyclable), and hazardous waste which needs separate treatment.
  • If this were done, the wet waste can be processed into compostable products, the recyclable material can be picked by ragpickers and sent for recycling, and the irreducible minimum waste can be sent to scientifically engineered landfills.
  • We are very far from this ideal.
  • The garbage menace in urban India is visible in bulging community bins, waste piled on street corners sometimes left for days in open spaces to rot and pollute, and garbage strewn over stormwater drains.
  • Some cities have partially implemented door-to- door collection with the help of resident welfare associations and outsourced private agencies to take the waste to the community bins.
  • More generally, the waste is dumped unsegregated into the community bins. It is then collected from these bins and slowly finds its way — through transportation over long distances to its final destination — the so-called landfills which are actually “land hills” of waste.
  • These dumpsites were originally located outside of the cities and towns, but with cities pushing their peripheries, the land hills of garbage have moved closer, and so has the danger to our health.
  • Garbage left rotting in the open breeds germs. The lack of adequate realisation on the part of Indian city dwellers of the public health consequences of the deteriorating management of MSW is hard to comprehend. Although reporting in the press has increased.
  • Plastic waste has been increasing at the rate of 2.5 times the GDP growth and it is projected to increase at a faster pace with its increased use for packaging, shopping bags, industrial products and building materials.
  • About 70 per cent of the plastic packaging products turn into plastic waste within a short period, and the recycling and disposal of plastic poses a huge challenge.
  • Official projections suggest that with faster growth and rapid urbanisation, our cities will be generating MSW to the tune of 160-165 million tonnes — more than two-and-a-half times the present level — by 2030.
  • Management of such a large volume of waste with its changing composition will require a scientific approach, not business as usual. Reduction, reuse, recycling, recovery and scientific disposal will have to be at the centre of a new strategy of solid waste management.
  • With politicians and bureaucrats as easy targets, we forget that the problem is as much due to our own lack of civic sense.
  • We do not segregate waste at home, mixing our kitchen waste with discarded paper, plastic, glass and whatever else including old batteries, which makes the task of managing this mixed waste that much more challenging for the municipal government.
  • Some of the best practices in municipal solid waste management, that is, in Rajkot, Pammal and Pune. These cities focused on reducing waste, and on segregation of wet waste from dry waste at the source.
  • They also resorted to resource recovery through composting and/or biomethanation.
  • Segregation of waste at the source, recycling by involving the informal sector, decentralised processing for resource recovery through composting and biomethanation, and landfills as repositories of the last resort emerge as important components of possible solutions in its analysis.
  • JNNURM, a national urban renewal programme, required urban planners and managers to improve the state of service delivery including solid waste management. Successor programmes like Swacch Bharat and AMRUT, launched in 2014, are taking this forward by addressing the challenge of water and sanitation.
  • In order to succeed, the successor programmes must learn from the experience of JNNURM — why was it that out of 42 projects sanctioned for solid waste management, only 12 were completed?
  • In April 2016, the Solid Waste Management Rules of 2000 were revised. If properly implemented, the new SWM Rules will definitely put us on the right track.
  • They make it mandatory for local authorities to arrange door-to-door collection of segregated solid waste, distinguishing wet waste, dry waste and hazardous waste.
  • The authority must prescribe a user fee to be paid by the waste generator and arrange for the collection of the waste and its transport to a centre where the waste can be distributed into different processing streams.
  • This would greatly reduce the residual waste that must be sent to the landfills. So far so good, but the challenge lies in getting these rules implemented.

Question:

With cities pushing their peripheries, the land hills of garbage have moved closer, and so has the danger to our health. Management of such a large volume of waste with its changing composition will require a scientific approach, not business as usual. Planners need to build on the successes of earlier programmes. Discuss.

Suggested Approach:

  • Need scientific practices to manage growing waste.
  • Earlier programmes and their strategies.
  • Current programmes and measures needs to be adopted.

link:http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/choking-the-city/

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30 August 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The article explains about the recent launch of a rocket using scramjet engine that was developed indigenously and its benefits.

  • The flight demonstration of the hypersonic air-breathing dual mode ramjet engine, which uses atmospheric oxygen in a portion of its journey, is a major step for Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) in its pursuit for a future space transportation system.
  • An experimental mission to demonstrate supersonic combustion using atmospheric oxygen was conducted recently. It was the maiden experiment of Isro's Dual Mode Ramjet (DMRJ) engine, which uses hydrogen as fuel and air from the atmosphere as the oxidiser, at hypersonic conditions.
  • The programme, along with another ongoing programme for developing a re-usable launch vehicle, would position the organisation as a major space fairing agency with technological competence to offer services for low-cost access to space in the long term.
  • The programme will help the organisation to reduce the number of stages in the current multi-staged expendable launch vehicles to two stages. Most of the current launch vehicles are designed for one time use and are expensive.
  • Further, their efficiency in terms of payload to lift-off mass is low. Current rocket technology offers little opportunity in this regard given that nearly 85 per cent of the lift-off mass is propellant.
  • Technologies to reduce weight and cost of space craft
    • There are ongoing worldwide efforts to reduce launch cost. In order to achieve low-cost access to space, the strategy has been to try and reduce propellant mass, reduce the rocket size to have a higher payload to lift-off mass ratio, and make the rocket re-usable.
    • While the goal is development of a single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) launch vehicle configuration, to finally make access to space a routine affair at comparatively lower cost than conventional expendable rockets, a fully rocket-powered SSTO is not feasible with existing material and propulsion technology.
    • However, air breathing propulsion can largely improve the feasibility of a SSTO if the air breathing mode can be efficiently used on a very large flight Mach number range, for example from Mach 1.5 to Mach 12.
    • There are uncertainties related to air breathing mode performance and the existing material technology puts a question mark on the real feasibility of such a SSTO launcher in the near future.
    • It could be relatively easy to develop a two-stages-to-orbit (TSTO) launcher with an air breathing first stage.
    • The key technology to enable the operation of two stage and finally the SSTO launch vehicle is air breathing propulsion which can operate over a wide Mach number regime.
    • Besides, if the first stage of the TSTO is made re-usable, the cost of launching satellites will come down by a magnitude two.
  • Isro's mission
    • The mission objectives of the ATV-D02/DMRJ mission are to demonstrate supersonic ignition, sustain the flame for combustion, and evaluate integrated DMRJ engine performance at hypersonic flight conditions.
  • The space organisation says that the technological challenges for the mission include:
    • Hypersonic air intake geometry with high pressure recovery and better shock wave-boundary layer management;
    • Design of supersonic combustor, which includes fuel injection and flame holding device;
    • Performance and operability across wide range of flight speeds, which is the transition from ramjet to scramjet;
    • Thermal management of engines;
    • Computational tools to simulate hypersonic flow and arrive at optimum Mach number-dynamic pressure window;
    • Thermo-structural tests of scramjet engines and ground test at higher Mach number conditions; among others.
  • For Isro, the technology demonstration of hypersonic air breathing dual ramjet engines would lead to the design and development capability of advanced air breathing engines, including engines with variable geometry air intake for its future space transportation system.
  • Other things about the launch:
    • India is the fourth country to demonstrate the flight testing of scramjet engine.
    • Scramjet engines in flight is an important milestone in ISRO’s endeavour towards its future space transportation system.
    • The scramjet engine is used only during the atmospheric phase of the rocket’s flight.
    • Scramjet engines will help bringing down launch cost by reducing the amount of oxidiser to be carried along with the fuel.
    • Scramjet engines designed by ISRO uses hydrogen as fuel and the oxygen from the atmospheric air as the oxidiser.

Question:

The recent launch of a rocket using scramjet engine that was developed indigenously is a significant technological development in Indian space research. But, it will take many years before a commercial rocket powered by a scramjet engine takes to the sky as there are several challenges to be overcome. Discuss.

Suggested Approach:

  • Significance of using scramjet engine.
  • Challenges to be overcome for commercial use of this technology.
  • The way forward.

Link: http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/why-isro-s-scramjet-flight-demonstration-is-significant-116082800279_1.htmlhttp://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/isros-scramjet-on-course/article9046603.ece

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29 August 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

chanakya

The article discuss about the need to bring radical reforms in bureaucracy and bring specialists in services.

  • Generalists are more dangerous than specialists and the rising standards of human capital in public policy areas — education, healthcare, public finance, urbanisation — means we must stop equating bureaucrats with technocrats.
  • The most complex decision for any entrepreneur — social or business — is choosing between generalists and specialists. Any effective organisation needs both in balanced manner.
  • India’s current policy problems are very different from the nation-building challenge the country faced after Independence — job creation is an execution problem — and therefore equating bureaucrats with technocrats is wrong.

The reasons are as follows:.

  • Politics is closer to framing policies. The bureaucrat’s job is closer to implementing policies than framing them. But one needs to know a subject well enough to give inputs and also make them as simple as possible.
  • Additionally, our binding constraint has shifted from the sins of commission (what the government does wrong) to the sins of omission (what the government does not do).
  • This means outcomes need building coalitions, creating specialised knowledge, less hierarchy, more collaboration, domain networks and flatter professional structures.
  • Civil servants are often better-educated and more articulate than ministers; so they are able to talk about any area. But familiarity is different from mastery. Mastery requires time.
  • Better policy outcomes need specialist rather than the generalists.
  • India’s private sector has substantially raised its stakes in human capital, technology and innovation since 1991. Of course, comparing private sector execution to government performance is unfair because private sector goals are finite unlike the multiple and often contradictory goals of the government.
  • But the capacity of the state does lag in certain respects and fixing it needs a different approach rather more laws and rules.
  • A country needs a mix blend of powerful government with authority to do things and flexible markets with more reach.
  • Civil service reform is not a demand for a smaller state; it is needed to improve state capacity and effectiveness.
  • Of course, technocratic intervention alone is not enough to fix the government’s deficits. This is not a case for eliminating the generalist civil service but radically reforming it.

The reforms which needed are:

  • Ending the monopoly and 25 per cent of top bureaucratic positions should be lateral entries.
  • Introducing specialisation, generalist civil servants must specialise after 10 years of field experience and have longer tenures.
  • Weeding out people, replicating the colonel threshold of the army for early retirement if not shortlisted for promotion.
  • Sharper performance management, it is mathematically impossible for 95 per cent to be outstanding. The across-the-board pay increases are unfair.
  • Ending ageism, we need to give top jobs to people when they are 45 rather than 58 years old.
  • Giving the top roles to functional services, for example, adopting the police commissioner system nationally.
  • De-layering, eliminating additional and special secretaries.
  • Rationalising, cutting the number of Central ministries to 25.
  • India and China are on opposite sides of this great divide. China’s geographic core has been governed, almost non-stop, by a rationalist bureaucracy since the late sixth century.
  • But China is banging against the limits of what Daniel Bell admiringly describes as a “political meritocracy” in The China Model.
  • The Chinese state’s sole focus on improving material conditions by “filling their stomachs and emptying their minds” is running out of steam as an increasingly affluent middle class recognises that they don’t live in an economy but a society and need more generalists (elected politicians and impartial judges).
  • India, in contrast, has enough politicians but needs technocrats.

Question:

India stands at a “great divide”: Generalists are more dangerous than specialists and the rising standards of human capital in public policy areas — education, healthcare, public finance, urbanisation — means we must stop equating bureaucrats with technocrats. Examine.

Suggested Approach:

  • Need to bring specialists.
  • Reforms needed in civil services.

Link: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/day-of-the-specialist-india-china-great-divide-economy-3000980/

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26 August 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

Nai Roshni- The Scheme to Bolster Minority Women

The Ministry of Minority Affairs started “Nai Roshni”, a Leadership Development Programme to empower Minority Women in 2012-13. The scheme aims at empowering and instilling confidence among minority women including their neighbours from other communities living in the same locality/village. The scheme will bolster minority women and provide them with requisite knowledge, tools and techniques for interacting with banks, Government systems and other institutions at all levels.

Minority women include dalit, tribal and other backward groups of the society and they will be the intended beneficiary of the scheme. Women empowerment is not necessary for equity but also imperative to economic growth, poverty eradication and strengthening of civil society. In poverty stricken family, women and children are the worst suffers and need support. Empowering mothers, especially mothers become vitally important owing to the fact that they stay at home and nurture, nourish and mould the character of her offsprings.

The dream of an empowered India cannot be fulfilled until and unless women come out of their confinements at home and assume leadership roles. When they set about asserting their rights in accessing skills, facilities, services and opportunities, most of the hurdles that are jeopardizing the growth of country will be automatically weeded out. The scheme intends to encourage women in claiming their due share of development benefits of the Government for bettering their lives and living conditions.

The scheme “Nai Roshni” is run with the help of Government Institutions, NGOs and Civil Societies all over the country. It includes various training modules like Health and Hygiene, Leadership of Women, Financial Literacy, Legal Rights of Women, Digital Literacy and Life Skills

Lets chew over all the training modules one by one:

Digital literacy is the knowledge and skill employed in a wide range of digital services such as laptops, smart phones and computers. A digitally literate person is endowed with a wide range of skills including an ability to engage in online communications and social networks, skills, knowledge of the basic principles of computing devices and an ability to engage in online communities and social networks.

Financial literacy

Making informed and thoughtful decisions about your finances has become more important than ever. Banks and other financial are launching gobs of schemes in order to ensure that you do not land in financial trouble. But it is equally important to have awareness about these schemes and ways to save your hard-earned money.

Health and Hygiene

People residing in poverty stricken areas suffer from poor health due to unsafe drinking water, poor hygiene behavior and lack of sanitation. Nations suffer massive financial losses due to health expenses incurred on diseases that could be prevented very easily. Access to better sanitation facilities and safe drinking water can substantially improve the health and overall wellbeing.

Leadership of Women

Women having leadership qualities can bring about radical changes in the society. In truth, empowered woman can lay the foundation of a progressive and growth-oriented society so it becomes imperative for government to foster leadership qualities in women.

Life skills

Acquiring life skills is an essential part of being able to meet the challenges of everybody life. Dramatic changes in global economies and technology has substantially influenced our home life, education and the workplace. To cope with change and pace of modern life, women need to learn life skills so that they could deal with frustration and stress. Learning life skills enable to find new ways of thinking and problem solving.

Legal Rights of Women

A minority woman if goes to police station without being accompanied by a lawyer she is either humiliated, quoted wrong or ignored for her statements so in most of the cases a woman postpone going to the police to lodge a complaint. Knowing legal rights help you from not getting duped and combat abominable situations.

26 August 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The article explains the basics of Surrogacy and the features of Surrogacy (regulation) Bill, 2016.

  • India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from different countries and there have been reported incidents concerning unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy and rackets of intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes.
  • Widespread condemnation of commercial surrogacy prevalent in India has also been regularly published in different print-and electronic media since last few years highlighting the need to prohibit commercial surrogacy and allow ethical altruistic surrogacy.
  • The 228th report of the Law Commission of India has also recommended for prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing ethical altruistic surrogacy to the needy Indian citizens by enacting a suitable legislation.

What is surrogacy?

  • When a couple wants a baby but is unable to have a child because either or both partners are medically unfit to conceive, another woman is artificially inseminated with the sperm of the father.
  • She then carries the child full term and delivers it for the couple. In such a case, the surrogate mother is the biological mother of the child. In instances when the father’s sperm cannot be used, a donor sperm can also be used. This is traditional surrogacy.
  • There is also gestational surrogacy, wherein eggs from the mother are fertilised with the father’s/donor’s sperm and then the embryo is placed into the uterus of the surrogate, who carries the child to term and delivers it. In this case, the biological mother is still the woman whose eggs are used, while the surrogate is called the birth mother.

Why opt for surrogacy?

  • Couples opt for surrogacy when traditional means of conceiving a child have failed, this also includes in-vitro fertilisation, or it is dangerous for the couple to get pregnant and give birth.
  • The following medical conditions usually necessitate surrogacy:
  • Malformation of or infection in the womb
  • Absence or removal of womb by hysterectomy
  • Recurring miscarriages
  • Repeated failure of IVF
  • Other conditions that make impossibly or risky for a woman, such as severe heart disease
  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for introduction of the "Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016".
  • The Bill will regulate surrogacy in India by establishing National Surrogacy Board at the central level and State Surrogacy Boards and Appropriate Authorities in the State and Union Territories. The legislation will ensure effective regulation of surrogacy, prohibit commercial surrogacy and allow ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile couples.
  • All infertile Indian married couple who want to avail ethical surrogacy will be benefited. Further the rights of surrogate mother and children born out of surrogacy will be protected. The Bill shall apply to whole of India, except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The major benefits of the Act would be that it will regulate the surrogacy services in the country. While commercial surrogacy will be prohibited including sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes, ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile couples will be allowed on fulfilment of certain conditions and for specific purposes.
  • As such, it will control the unethical practices in surrogacy, prevent commercialization of surrogacy and will prohibit potential exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy.
  • No permanent structure is proposed to be created in the Draft Bill. Neither there are proposals for creating new posts.
  • The proposed legislation, while covering an important area is framed in such a manner that it ensures effective regulation but does not add much vertically to the current regulatory structure already in place at the central as well as states.
  • Accordingly, there will not be any financial implications except for the meetings of the National and State surrogacy Boards and Appropriate Authorities which will be met out of the regular budget of Central and State governments.
  • Bill bans commercial surrogacy, and bars married couples who have biological or adopted children, single people, live-in partners and homosexuals from opting for surrogacy.
  • It only allows “altruistic surrogacy” for childless couples who have been married for at least five years. Then too, the surrogate mother should be a “close relative” of the couple, should be married and have borne a child of her own.
  • New surrogacy Bill bars single parents, homosexuals, live-in couples, foreigners married woman who has at least one child of her own can be a surrogate mother only once in her lifetime. Childless or unmarried women are not allowed to be surrogate mothers.
  • Commercial surrogacy, abandoning the surrogate child, exploitation of surrogate mother, selling/ import of human embryo have all been deemed as violations that are punishable by a jail term of at least 10 years and a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh. Clinics have to maintain records of surrogacy for 25 years. The rights of the surrogate child will be the same as that of a biological child.

Question:

India is emerging as a leader in international surrogacy and a sought after destination in surrogacy-related fertility tourism. But there is a need to regulate this practice because what was started for convenience has become a luxury. Comment.

Suggested Approach:

  • Increase of surrogacy in India.
  • Government’s effort to regulate it.
  • Further measures needed.

Link:http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/surrogacy-bill-sushma-swaraj-married-couples-can-now-opt-homosexuals/

Link:http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=0

Link:http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/draft-surrogacy-bill-2016-what-is-surrogacy-all-you-need-to-know-2994140/

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25 August 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The article analysis the sedition law under IPC section 124A and the Supreme Court judgement relating to its constitutional validity.

  • No fundamental right in our Constitution is absolute. Freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) can be reasonably restricted on the grounds specified in Article 19(2).
  • It is significant that during the debates in the Constituent Assembly, the founding fathers, in view of their bitter experience of the application of the sedition law by the British colonial regime, deliberately omitted “sedition” as one of the permissible grounds of restriction under Article 19(2) on freedom of speech and expression.
  • However, sedition as a criminal offence remains in the IPC under Section 124A and provides for inter alia sentence of life imprisonment and fine upon conviction.
  • Gandhiji described “sedition” as the prince of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  • Section 124A was challenged in the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. In its celebrated judgment in the case of Kedarnath vs State of Bihar, the Supreme Court explained the scope of sedition law.
  • It ruled that “vigorous words in writing and very strong criticism of measures of government or acts of public officials, would be outside the scope of Section 124A”.
  • The Supreme Court further observed: “A citizen has a right to say or write whatever he likes about the government, or its measures, by way of criticism or comment, so long as he does not incite people to violence against the government established by law, or with the intention of creating public disorder.”
  • The Supreme Court did not approve of the Privy Council’s judgments according to which any speech or writing which evinced disloyalty or ill feelings towards the government could be regarded as sedition. Many freedom fighters were prosecuted and punished for sedition by the British colonial regime.
  • The Supreme Court limited the application of Section 124A to acts involving incitement to violence, which is the essential ingredient of the offence of sedition.
  • Therefore the question whether certain speech or acts constitute sedition are questions of fact which have to be determined by a court of law keeping in mind the principles enunciated by the Supreme Court in Kedarnath.
  • Recently sedition law has been invoked against Amnesty International on the ground that certain slogans insulting to India were uttered at its recent event in Bengaluru.
  • If that be so, it is certainly deplorable and may expose Amnesty to civil and criminal proceedings. One can certainly criticise and condemn the alleged anti-India slogans.
  • But mere utterance of slogans by itself does not constitute sedition unless there is exhortation to overthrow the government of the day by recourse to violence, which is the prerequisite for invoking the sedition section. Surely our country is strong and mature enough to take in its stride alleged insulting slogans without rushing to invoke the law of sedition.
  • It is opined by some that Section 124 should be deleted. But, Section 124A “sedition” as interpreted by the Supreme Court is necessary.
  • There may be cases where Section 124A can be legitimately invoked. Therefore, retain the section but strike down actions not in conformity with the section.
  • It is high time that appropriate penalties are imposed on those, including lawyers, who invoke Section 124A wantonly and cause pain and harassment to those who honestly express their opinion and who are intimidated by invocation of Section 124A.
  • One would expect judicial officers not to entertain manifestly ill-founded complaints. It is the need of the hour to contain the forces of bigotry and intolerance which pose a grave threat to our democratic secular republic.

Question:

It is the need of the hour to contain the forces of bigotry and intolerance which pose a grave threat to our democratic secular republic. But invoking ‘sedition law’ is not the answer to this problem. In the light of this statement, do you think India still needs a sedition law.

Suggested Approach:

  • Why do we need a sedition law.
  • Restraints imposed by Supreme Court judgement over using this section.
  • How we can contain intolerance in the society.

Link: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/ramya-pakistan-comment-sedition-law-amnesty-international-freedom-speech-supreme-court-2994652/

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24 August 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The article explains the major features of the Mental Health Care Bill, 2013.

  • The term “mental health” encompasses a wide variety of conditions, issues and contexts. While illness represents individual suffering, disease implies structural and functional abnormalities.
  • The Statements of Objects and Reasons to the Bill, state the government ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007. The Convention requires the laws of the country to align with the Convention.
  • The new Bill was introduced as the existing Act does not adequately protect the rights of persons with mental illness nor promote their access to mental health care.

The key features of the Bill are:

  • Rights of persons with mental illness: Every person shall have the right to access mental health care and treatment from services run or funded by the government.
  • The right to access mental health care includes affordable, good quality of and easy access to services.
  • Persons with mental illness also have the right to equality of treatment, protection from inhuman and degrading treatment, free legal services, access to their medical records, and complain regarding deficiencies in provision of mental health care.
  • Advance Directive: A mentally-ill person shall have the right to make an advance directive that states how he wants to be treated for the illness during a mental health situation and who his nominated representative shall be.

Central and State Mental Health Authority: These are administrative bodies are required to:

  • register, supervise and maintain a register of all mental health establishments,
  • develop quality and service provision norms for such establishments,
  • maintain a register of mental health professionals,
  • train law enforcement officials and mental health professionals on the provisions of the Act,
  • receive complaints about deficiencies in provision of services, and
  • advise the government on matters relating to mental health.
  • Mental Health Establishments: Every mental health establishment has to be registered with the relevant Central or State Mental Health Authority.
  • Mental Health Review Commission and Board: The Mental Health Review Commission will be a quasi-judicial body that will periodically review the use of and the procedure for making advance directives and advise the government on protection of the rights of mentally ill persons.
  • Decriminalising suicide and prohibiting electro-convulsive therapy: A person who attempts suicide shall be presumed to be suffering from mental illness at that time and will not be punished under the Indian Penal Code.

Conclusion:

  • However, it has not pleased all the stakeholders. Activists argue that the bill does not comply with the UNCRPD.
  • They have argued against the use of compulsory treatment for psychosocial conditions including mental illness, suggesting that such approaches are influenced by prejudice, and are a breach of the human right to equality.
  • Such movements resulted in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disability (UNCRPD). It argued that people with disability, including mental illness, have rights to seek legal opinion, liberty, and to informed consent.
  • While UNCRPD’s broad structure does not explicitly ban the use of force in the treatment of the mentally ill, its logic clearly suggests prohibition of compulsion.
  • The bill should be seen as a work in progress. The way it is implemented will determine its success in reducing the burden of mental illness and in supporting the human rights of people with mental illness. Periodic reviews can help plug gaps between practice and theory, and law and justice.

Question:

The Rajya Sabha recently passed the Mental Healthcare Bill. It is a major advance over the Mental Health Act, 1987. But the bill should be seen as a work in progress rather than the final destination. Comment.

Suggested Approach:

  • Need to bring new bill.
  • Major provisions of new bill.
  • Scope for improvement in new version.

Link:http://www.prsindia.org/billtrack/the-mental-health-care-bill-2013-2864/

Link:http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/mental-health-care-bill-india-rajya-sabha-halfway-to-dignity-2992865/

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23 August 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The article analysis the dynamic geopolitical scenario on the eastern front of India and the need to play an active role in that.

  • For some decades now, India’s strategic opportunities have been mostly in the east. We framed the “look east” policy and “Act east” policy to tap the growing opportunities.
  • The renewed diplomatic engagement with Nepal last week, following the recent regime change in Kathmandu, and this week’s outreach to Burma’s first democratically elected government in many decades, underline the expansive possibilities in the east.
  • Delhi can’t let its obsession with the west come in the way of realising the full potential of the east.
  • If there is one factor that is common to both the fronts, it is China. China has deeper involvement in India’s unending squabbles with Pakistan and it has been exercising influence in the east for many decades.
  • Consider the following: The new prime minister of Nepal, Prachanda, whose return to power was seen as a big political gain for India, insists on a “balanced policy” towards Delhi and Beijing.
  • In Burma, Suu Kyi chose Beijing as the first port of call among the major powers, despite the fact that China was the strongest supporter of the military regime in the last three decades.
  • Unlike in the west, where Delhi does not have much room to alter the dynamics of the deepening Sino-Pak alliance, it remains the most important external actor in Nepal.
  • It also has considerable potential to emerge as an influential force in Burma. But it has to contend with China’s power in both the countries.
  • Delhi no longer has a free hand in Kathmandu and Beijing’s capacity to influence the internal politics of Nepal has significantly increased in recent years. China has always had a larger influence in Burma’s domestic politics.
  • Given the salience of geography, the downturn in Indo-Nepal relations, during the tenure of the K.P. Oli-led government, was not likely to be permanent.
  • The same holds true for China’s relations with Burma. Since 2011, ties between Beijing and Yangon were on a downhill, as the military government suspended the Myitsone dam project that Beijing was preparing to build on the Irrawaddy river.
  • As the military government prepared for a democratic transition and to diversify its external relations — away from its dependence on Beijing — the US moved quickly to lift some of the sanctions it had imposed on Burma.
  • Following the US lead, Japan and European powers checked into Yangon. If Beijing seemed to have a free run in Burma from the late-1980s to the turn of the 2010s, it now faced severe competition.
  • But as with Delhi in Nepal, geography guarantees an enduring role for Beijing in Burma.
  • One of the major outcomes of Suu Kyi’s Beijing trip was China’s commitment to bring three rebel groups in northern Burma that have long had ties to Beijing to the peace process.
  • Settling the conflict with the minority groups is at the top of Suu Kyi’s political agenda. She has set up a commission to review the Chinese dam projects, supported Beijing’s Silk Road initiatives, and chosen to be silent on the South China Sea dispute.
  • This does not mean Suu Kyi is taking Burma back into Beijing’s fold. China has to work hard in Burma to retain its influence as Suu Kyi seeks a balanced relationship with all major powers.
  • Although geography gives India many advantages in both Nepal and Burma, Delhi has been unable to reinforce it with other instruments such as economic diplomacy.
  • China’s ability to deliver large quantities of aid and implement major infrastructure projects on short order makes it an attractive partner for both Kathmandu and Yangon.
  • India, in contrast, has acquired an unenviable reputation in both Nepal and Burma for “all talk and no action”s.
  • As Delhi prepares for an intensive round of high level political engagement with Nepal and Burma — President Pranab Mukherjee is likely to travel to Kathmandu soon and Delhi will host the Burmese president, Htin Kyaw — it needs a plan for vigorous commercial engagement with both neighbours.

Question:

For some decades now, India’s strategic opportunities have been mostly in the east. But, Look East policy has to contend with Beijing, seen to be a more reliable partner for Nepal and Myanmar in development projects. Do you think, change of regime in both the countries will lead to creation of balanced relationship.

Suggested Approach:

  • China’s geographical and economic advantage over India.
  • Impact of regime change.
  • What India needs to do.

Link:http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/raja-mandala-the-great-wall-of-china-2991126/

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22 August 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The article explains the major provisions of Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2016 passed by the Rajya Sabha.

  • The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in Rajya Sabha on August 11, 2016 by the Minister for Labour and Employment, Mr. Bandaru Dattatreya.
  • The Bill amends the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. The Act regulates the employment of women during the period of child birth, and provides maternity benefits. The Act applies to factory, mines, plantations, shops and other establishments. The Bill amends provisions related to the duration and applicability of maternity leave, and other facilities.

Duration of maternity leave:

  • The Act states that every woman will be entitled to maternity benefit of 12 weeks. The Bill increases this to 26 weeks.
  • Under the Act, this maternity benefit should not be availed before six weeks from the date of expected delivery. The Bill changes this to eight weeks.
  • In case of a woman who has two or more children, the maternity benefit will continue to be 12 weeks, which cannot be availed before six weeks from the date of the expected delivery.

Maternity leave for adoptive and commissioning mothers:

  • The Bill introduces a provision to grant 12 weeks of maternity leave to:
    • a woman who legally adopts a child below three months of age; and
    • a commissioning mother. A commissioning mother is defined as a biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in another woman.
  • The 12-week period of maternity benefit will be calculated from the date the child is handed over to the adoptive or commissioning mother.

Option to work from home:

  • The Bill introduces a provision that states that an employer may permit a woman to work from home. This would apply if the nature of work assigned to the woman permits her to work from home. This option can be availed of, after the period of maternity leave, for a duration that is mutually decided by the employer and the woman.

Crèche facilities:

  • The Bill introduces a provision which requires every establishment with 50 or more employees to provide crèche facilities within a prescribed distance. The woman will be allowed four visits to the crèche in a day. This will include her interval for rest.

Informing women employees of the right to maternity leave:

  • The Bill introduces a provision which requires every establishment to intimate a woman at the time of her appointment of the maternity benefits available to her. Such communication must be in writing and electronically.

Criticism:

  • New law will benefit only a minuscule percentage of women employed in the organised sector while ignoring a large demographic toiling in the country’s unorganised sector such as contractual workers, farmers, casual workers, self-employed women and housewives.
  • In India most women are waged workers or do contractual work and face hugely exploitative work conditions. They are not even recognised under the ambit of labour laws.
  • It makes no mention of paternity leave, putting the onus of the newborn’s rearing on the mother. This is a blow to gender equality.

Question:

The amendments in the Maternity Benefit Act 1961 is yet another attempt towards women empowerment in our country. But the Act still falls short of expectations of some “experts”. Critically analyse.

Suggested Approach:

  • The need to bring changes to this Act.
  • Major provisions of the Amendment Act.
  • Criticism.
  • Give a positive conclusion.

Link:http://www.prsindia.org/uploads/media/Maternity%20Benefit/Bill%20Summary%20--%20The%20Maternity%20Benefit%20(Amendment)%20Bill,%202016.pdf

Link: http://thewire.in/60414/indias-new-maternity-benefits-act-criticised-as-elitist/

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Hindi: Download

20 August 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

Source: 2013 Mains question paper- 4

Note: this answer has been written for the purposes of explanation; Hence, it may not adhere to word limit. For examination purposes, phrases instead of full sentences could be used.

  • Introduction- The above case presents a situation where a Public Information Officer has to disclose certain information as per his duty obligations but the same may lead to substantial personal harm. Hence, the case presents a dilemma between duty and personal interests.
  • An evaluation of the various options available to the PIO are as follows:
    • Option 1- The PIO could refer the matter to his superior officer and seek his advice and strictly act in accordance with his advice, even though he is not completely in agreement the advice of his superior.
      Merits Demerits
      consulting the superior officer is a good idea as it earns the superior's confidence. shows lack of initiative and the PIO is shying away from responsibility in this case
      avoids harmful personal repercussions to some extent as superior might support the PIO. acting according to the superior's advice even when not in complete agreement with him shows sheer lack of courage and intellectual integrity.
      The superior's experience may be useful in solving the matter.  
    • The PIO could proceed proceed on leave and leave the matter to be dealt by his superior in office or request for transfer of the application to another PIO
      Merits Demerits
      prevents harmful personal repercussions towards the PIO’s career shows lack of courage and integrity
      prevents harmful repercussions to other employees who are involved in the matter shying away from responsibility for one’s action
        does not address duty obligations
        against morality
    • The PIO could weigh the consequences of disclosing the information truthfully including the effect on his career, and reply in a manner that would not place him or his career in jeopardy, but at the same time a little compromise can be made on the contents of the application.
      Merits Demerits
      prevents harmful personal repercussions towards the PIO’s career does not address duty obligations
      prevents harmful repercussions to other employees who are involved in the matter telling half-truths is an act of deception
      not shying away from responsibility against morality
    • The PIO could consult his other colleagues who are party to the decision and take action as per their advice
      Merits Demerits
      takes into consideration the interests of other stakeholders duty to give correct information maybe compromised
      may prevent harmful personal repercussions towards the PIO’s career and other stakeholders shows lack of courage and integrity
        shying away from responsibility for one’s action
        shows lack of initiative
    • Advice to the PIO-
      Consult senior officer about the matter and make him aware about the lapse from your side. However, you must act as per your duty obligations and respond with full information. The lapse from your side may be considered an error in judgement and repercussions may not be severe considering your honest and clean record.
      Merits Demerits
      duty obligations fulfilled. shows immense courage and high level of integrity. may have some harmful personal repercussions
      consulting the superior officer is a good idea as it earns the superior’s confidence. The superior’s experience may be useful in solving the matter. may have repercussions for some employees
      not shying away from responsibility  
      personal integrity and honest character maintained.  
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