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A Shankar IAS Academy Initiative


Door No.18, Old Plot No.109, New Plot No.259, AL Block, 4 th Avenue,
Shanthi Colony, Anna Nagar, Chennai 600 040.
Phone : 7667766260
1. November - 2016 6

1.1 Sabarimala temple entry issue 6

1.2 Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 6

1.3 SCs directions to curb female foeticide 7

1.4 Is prohibition the right option? 8

1.5 State of jails 8

1.6 A duty of tolerance 9

1.7 School Education Quality Index 11

1.8 Transgender Option in Railway Reservation 11

1.9 Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan 12

1.10 Swasthya Raksha Programme 13

1.11 Child Abuse 14

1.12 Child Abduction Draft Bill 15

1.13 National e- Health Authority 16

1.14 The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers 17

(Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006

2. December 2016 18

2.1 Pushed Patriotism 18

2.2 Vasectomy Fortnight 20

2.3 Ban on Liquor Vends on Highways 21

2.4 Land of religious body can be acquired 22

2.5 The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 23

2.6 Forest Rights Act - Report Card 25

2.7 Status of tribal development 27

2.8 International Guidelines for Tribal Communities 28

2.9 Refugee vs Refugee 28

2.10 Migration in India 29

2.11 Economic migrants contribution 31

2.12 Survey on Inter-Caste Marriages and Untouchability 32

2.13 Gender Selectiveness 34

2.14 Sachar Committee Report 35

3. January 2017 36

3.1 Supreme Court on Religion 36

3.2 Mass Molestation 38

3.3 Pan-India expansion of Maternity Benefit Programme 39

3.4 Denotified tribes in India 40

3.5 Higher Education in India 41

3.6 Report on SSA and Mid-Day-Meal Scheme 42

3.7 Swachh Bharat Mission Progress and Problems 43

3.8 Urban poor out of affordable housing benefits 44

3.9 Slums and Urban Housing 45

3.10 Resettlement Fund for PoK refugees 46

3.11 India to ratify ILOs convention 47

3.12 Corporate Social Responsibility in India 48

3.13 Corruption Perceptions Index 49

3.14 Three new additions to the vaccination basket 51

3.15 Indias fight against Leprosy 52

4. February 2017 53

4.1 Women Empowerment 53

4.2 Health Care System for the Elderly 54

4.3 Over-Medicalization 55

4.4 Implementation of RTE Act 56

4.5 Assessing Students on International Standard 58

4.6 Solutions to Open Defecation Problem 59

4.7 Reluctance to become a Good Samaritan 60

4.8 Gated Communities 61

4.9 Demanding ST Status - Narikuravars 62

4.10 Babri Masjid issue 63

4.11 Maternity Benefit Bill 64

4.12 Mental Healthcare Bill 66

4.13 The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 67

4.14 Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 68

4.15 SDMCs Order 69

4.16 Banning Cow Slaughter 71

4.17 Ban on Liquor Vends 72

4.18 Moral Policing - Anti-Romeo Squads 73

4.19 TSR Subramanian committee 74

4.20 Report of the Working Group on Migration 75

4.21 Dealing with Homelessness 76

4.22 Access to Persons with Disabilities 77



1. November - 2016

1.1 Sabarimala temple entry issue

What is the issue?

The custom in Sabarimala prohibits women of a certain age group, from visiting the shrine.
It claims its sanctity from the conception of the deity, Lord Ayyappa, as a celibate and notions of ritual

What is the temple managements stand?

It state that the issue is purely a matter concerning the unique custom and tradition followed in a pilgrimage
center and hence a logical analysis has no relevance.

Sabarimala governing board has cited that the "Kerala Hindu places of public worship rules", permits
prohibition of entry of women where custom requires to do so.

Why it is detrimental?

Though Article 26 provides for freedom of religious institutions to manage their religious affairs, restricting
entry of women into temple, is a direct violation of the fundamental rights that guarantee gender equality.

This custom is site specific and is not followed in other Ayyappa temples.

There is limited historical evidence to tell us when the custom came into being and opinion is divided over
whether the custom is central to the worship of the deity.

What is SCs observation?

Supreme Court said that only "essential practices of a religion" are immune from intervention of state.

Therefore in case the Sabarimala board fails to prove that prohibiting entry of women is as essential practice
of religion, then the board cannot claim immunity under Article 26.

The bench is yet to analyse various aspects including the constitutional provisions with regard to gender

1.2 Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill

Why in news?

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 has been introduced in the parliament.

What are the highlights of the bill?

The bill creates a statutory obligation on public and private sectors to provide them with employment and
recognises their right to self-perceived gender identity.

A transgender person must obtain a certificate of identity as proof of recognition of identity as a transgender
person and to invoke rights under the Bill.

It also provides for a grievance redressal mechanism in establishments.

It has provisions to establish a National Council for Transgenders.

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It makes the government responsible for preparing welfare schemes and programmes which are transgender
sensitive, non-stigmatising and non-discriminatory.

It holds that it is a crime to push transgender persons into begging or bonded or forced labour.

The Bill recognises the rights of transgender persons to live with their families without exclusion and use the
facilities of those households in a non-discriminatory manner.

What are the defects of the bill?

The Bill does not address the issue of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

The definition of a transgender person is left vague.

The provision to obtain a certificate from District Screening Committee for the identity as transgender persons
goes against the principle of to self-perceived gender identity.

It does not separately clarify any of the terms used in defining the trasgenders, like for example, trans-men
and trans-women.

1.3 SCs directions to curb female foeticide

Why in news?

Supreme Court has issued additional directions to curb female foeticide in Voluntary Health Association Vs State of
Punjab case.

What was the judgment?

The heart of the issue was the increase of female foeticide, resultant imbalance of sex ratio and the
indifference in the implementation of the stringent law that is in force.

It gave the following guidelines -

All the States and the Union Territories in India should maintain a centralized database to make available the
number of boys and girls being born.

It should contain the birth information for each District, Municipality, Corporation or Gram Panchayat so that
a number of boys and girls born can be readily compared.

SC also asked for an effective implementation of the The Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques
(Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994.

The statutory authorities as envisaged under the Act should be constituted to implement the legislation.

The Courts that deal with the complaints made under the Act should be fast tracked.

The judicial officers who deal with these cases should be periodically trained in the Judicial Academies to
develop sensitivity towards the issue.

The Courts that deal with these complaints should submit the quarterly report to the High Courts, which is
supposed to monitor the progress of these cases.

States and districts notified under the Act should also submit quarterly progress report to the Government of

The awareness campaigns with regard to the provisions of the Act should be undertaken and it should be
monitored by the State Legal Services Authorities.

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1.4 Is prohibition the right option?

Why in news?

Few state governments in India, have resorted to complete prohibition of alcohol sales to reduce consumption of
alcohol in their respective states. e.g. Kerala and Bihar.

What are the negatives of prohibition?

In the absence of legitimate alcohol, locally-produced illegal alcohol sales increase.

Illicit liquor is manufactured in an unregulated and crude manner.

Fatal methanol poisoning is common in illicit liquor and it is also associated with loss vision among those
who consume them.

The government does not have any regulation over these illicit liquor manufacturers. Hence, they do not
contribute to the tax revenue of the state.

Liquor smuggling from adjacent states is also seen to increase in states which impose prohibition.

Prohibition leads to increase in crime related to illegal marketing of liquor. e.g - Direction to ban
alcohol in the Bombay Presidency in the early 1950s was the chief cause of the growth of the smuggling

Though well intentioned, it is against the personal liberty and in way creates inequality where the rich
has access to liquor and poor doesnt.

What are the difficulties in enforcing the prohoibition?

Smuggling - It is difficult to enforce prohibition in any state, when adjacent states permit liquor sales.
Liquor from adjacent states will be smuggled.

Stigma At present times, it is consumed by the youth and the middle and upper middle classes without any
associated stigmas.

Finance - The implementation of the law has also had an adverse impact on the states finances as well as on
economic activity.

Tourism - The hotel and hospitality industry has been hit. Big weddings, seminars and conferences are no
longer taking place in the state.

What is the alternate?

Create awareness to bring about behavioural change.

Liquor ban during working hours to ensure productivity and law and order.

Rehabilitation centres have to be established to help people willing to quit the habit.

Setting up rules to limit the liquor shops to certain numbers and places.

1.5 State of jails

Why in news?

The eight alleged SIMI terrorists who were killed by Madhya Pradesh Police on Monday hours after they had broken
out of Bhopal Central Jail.

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What is the status according to NCRB?

Jail staff vacancies severely compromise jail security.

According to the latest data on prisons, published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2015,
there is a vacancy of 33% among prison guards, and 36% among officers.

As many as 200 inmates escaped both in jailbreaks and from custody while outside prison premises
across the country in 2015.

Prisons across the country are facing a severe staff crunch with over 27,000 vacancies against the
sanctioned strength of a little over 80,000.

Bihar and Jharkhand, have the most poorly guarded jails. Both states have over 65% vacancy among
officers, staff and jail guards. Bihar, along with Rajasthan, also has the highest vacancy among officers, at 71%.

Madhya Pradesh, which also witnessed a similar jailbreak by three alleged SIMI activists of the same group in
2013, has a vacancy of 28%.

Delhi has some of the most overcrowded jails in the country, housing over 220 inmates for every 100
that it should be having.

UP, which has the highest number of prisoners and sanctioned strength of jail staff and officers, faces a
vacancy of 33%.

What is the State of Muslims?

Muslims make up 15.8% of all convicts and 20.9% of all undertrials in jails across the country. This is higher
than their share in the countrys population, which is 14.2%.

In some states, this gap is even far wider.

In Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, the percentage of Muslims in the incarcerated population was almost thrice
the percentage of Muslims in the overall population.

In states such as West Bengal, Gujarat and Rajasthan, Muslims have almost double the share of undertrial
populations in prisons than their share in the populations of the states.

It is also important to compare these figures with those of Muslim convicts languishing in jails across states. A
bigger gap between the two figures would show that while more Muslims are being booked in such
states, they are not being convicted for lack of evidence.

Caste-based analysis shows that 34% of the convicts belong to the general category, while 31.2% belong to
the OBC category. Also, 21% belong to the scheduled castes, while 14% belonged to the schedule tribes. Almost
similar is the case for undertrial prisoners.

Tamil Nadu also tops in use of preventive detention law with 1,268 detenues held across the State in

1.6 A duty of tolerance

Why in news?

The President of India recently emphasised on tolerance.

What is tolerance?

It refers to the conditional acceptance of or non-interference with beliefs, actions or practices that one
considers being wrong but still tolerable, such that they should not be prohibited or constrained.

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Disagreement with the belief and ideology of others is no reason for their suppression, because there can be
more than one path for the attainment of truth and salvation.

Even if there is only one truth, it may have a hundred facets.

What is its significance?

An unmistakable feature of any nation which professes to be democratic is the prevalence of tolerance.

Tolerance is vital because it promotes the receiving or acknowledging of new ideas and this helps to break the
status quo mentality.

It is particularly needed in large and complex societies comprising people with varied beliefs, as in India. This
is because readiness to tolerate views other than ones own facilitates harmonious coexistence.

What are the ill effects of intolerance?

Intolerance stems from a strong assumption of the infallibility and truth of ones beliefs, the rigid conviction
about the rightness of ones beliefs and their superiority over others.

This leads to forcible imposition of ones ideology on others, often resulting in violence.

Religious and political persecution will become rampant.

Intolerance has inhibiting effects on freedom of thought and discussion.

An intolerant society does not allow dissent. Suppression of dissent by censorship is an indispensable
instrument for an intolerant authoritarian regime.

What are the legal backings for tolerance?

The necessity for tolerance has been internationally recognised.

The Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations proclaims that to achieve the goals of the Charter
we need to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours.

UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on

Religion or Belief requires states to adopt all necessary measures for the speedy elimination of intolerance in
all its forms and manifestations.

The Supreme Court in the case regarding the screening of the film Ore OruGramathiley, laid down an
extremely important principle: Freedom of expression protects not merely ideas that are accepted but those
that offend, shock or disturb the state or any sector of the population. Such are the demands of the pluralism,
tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no democratic society.

Bijoe Emmanuel vs. State of Kerala- Students belonging to the faith, Jehovahs Witnesses, stood up
when the national anthem was sung to show their respect but declined to sing along.

The students were expelled. The Supreme Court reversed the decision and observed that the students did not
hold their beliefs idly or out of any unpatriotic sentiment but because they truly believed that their religion
forbade singing the national anthem of any country.

It concluded: Our tradition teaches tolerance; our philosophy preaches tolerance; our Constitution practices
tolerance. Let none dilute it.

Fundamental duty calls to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the
people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities

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1.7 School Education Quality Index

Why in news?

NITI Aayog organized the first regional workshop on the School Education Quality Index (SEQI).

What is SEQI?

It is a composite index that will report annual improvements of States on key domains of education quality.

It was conceptualized and designed by NITI Aayog and the MHRD.

The aim of the index is to shift the focus of States from inputs towards outcomes, encourage state-led
innovations to improve quality and facilitate sharing of best practices.

The goal of the index is not to compare the levels of States but to compare the improvements that States make
on the index.

SEQI is divided into two categories - Outcomes and Governance & Management.

Outcomes is further divided into Learning, Access and Equity

Governance & Management is divided into Governance Processes and Structural Reforms.

Currently the index has 34 indicators and 1000 points, with the highest weightage given to learning outcomes.

What is the significance of the meet?

The objective was to sensitize and support States/ UTs in improving learning outcomes among school children
across India.

The meet emphasised that the increase in education spending in India has not led to an improvement in
learning outcomes.

Inputs such as infrastructure, teacher training, student-teacher ratio etc. alone have had negligible impact on
student learning.

Integrating inputs with accountability and early childhood literacy/numeracy will radically transform the
quality of education imparted in schools.

1.8 Transgender Option in Railway Reservation

Why in news?

The Railways and Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) have included
transgender/third gender as a gender option alongside males and females in the Railway Ticket Reservation

The inclusion is in compliance with a April 2014 judgment of the Supreme Court of India in the case of
National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) vs. Union of India.

What was the case about?

The Lawyers Collective, a NGO had filed an intervention, on behalf of Ms.Laxmi Narayan Tripathy, a
Hijra/transgender activist.

She sought recognition of self-identified gender of persons, either as male/female/third gender, based on their

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The petitioner alleged violation of Article 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India by the IRCTC, by non-
inclusion of transgender/third gender as a gender option in its reservation forms.

They also demanded special coaches and reserved seats for the transgender community in all trains, for their
care and protection.

The NALSA in its petition had also sought several directions from the Supreme Court. It includes

1. Granting of equal rights and protection to transgender persons

2. Inclusion of a third category in recording ones sex/gender in identity documents

3. Admission in educational institutions, hospitals, among others.

What was the judgment?

The apex court directed the Centre and the State governments to recognise transgender as the third sex.

It also directed to provide them with the benefits accorded to socially and economically backward classes.

The Bench observed that the non-existence of law recognising transgender as the third gender could not be
continued to be relied on as a ground to discriminate them in availing equal opportunities in education and

It said the Centre and the State governments should

1. develop social welfare schemes for the transgender community

2. run public awareness campaigns to erase the social stigma attached to them, apart from considering
carving out job reservations for them.

1.9 Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan

Why in news?

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently launched Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA)
scheme which aims to reduce IMR and MMR.

What is the current scenario?

In India, one pregnant woman dies every 12 minutes, with 45,000 dying each year. Of them, less than one in
five (19.7%) undergo pre-natal health checks.

India is committed to work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in maternal and
child healthcare.

With the implementation of several schemes, significant progress was observed in the maternal health care
service indicators like institutional deliveries and Ante Natal Care (ANC) coverage.

As per latest data of the Rapid Survey on Children (2013 14), the institutional deliveries in India are 78.7%.

With the objective to provide quality ANC to every pregnant woman the Government has launched the
PMSMA, a fixed day ANCs given every month across the country which in turn can avoid many preventable

What is PMSMA?

The primary objective of the programme is to identify and initiate follow-up actions on high-risk pregnancies
to reduce maternal mortality rate (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR).

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Under the campaign, a minimum package of antenatal care services is to be provided to the beneficiaries on
the 9th day of every month under PMSMA Clinics to ensure that every pregnant woman receives at least one
checkup in the 2nd/ 3rd trimester of pregnancy.

The scheme also encourages obstetricians-gynaecologists (OBGY) and physicians from the private sector and
retired OBGY specialists to provide voluntary services at designated public health facilities.

It also launched the PSMA Web Portal & a Mobile Application along with the 360 degree communication
package to raise awareness about the campaign.

The programme will provide special free antenatal care to pregnant women.

This will ensure identification of high risk status like anemia, gestational diabetes, hypertension and infection

These services including ultrasound, blood and urine tests will be provided in addition to the routine antenatal
check-ups at the identified health facility in both rural and urban areas.

Those pregnant women with unwanted pregnancies need to be provided with safe abortion care services after
proper counselling.

A Mother and Child Protection cards has been provided with a sticker indicating the condition and risk factor
of the pregnant women.(eg: Green Sticker no risk factor detected, Red Sticker high risk pregnancy)

Scheme targets women who have not received or dropped out of ANC check-ups and a minimum package of
medicines such as IFA (Iron and folic acid)and calcium supplements would be provided to all pregnant women
attending the PMSMA clinics.

Before leaving the facility every pregnant women to be counselled, may be individually or in groups, on
nutrition, rest, safety, birth preparedness, identification of danger signs, institutional delivery and Post
partum Family Planning ( PPFP ) .

1.10 Swasthya Raksha Programme

Why in news?

'Swasthya Raksha Programme was launched by the AYUSH Ministry to promote health and health education in
selected districts/ villages.

What are the objectives of the program?

To organize SwasthyaRakshanOut Patient Departments (OPD), SwasthyaParikshan Camps and

Health/Hygiene awareness programme.

Awareness about cleanliness of domestic surroundings and environment.

Provide medical aid/incidental support in the adopted Colonies/villages.

Documentation of demographic information, food habits, hygiene conditions, seasons, lifestyle etc.,
incidence/prevalence of disease and their relation to the incidence of disease.

Assessment of health status and propagation of Ayurvedic concept of pathya-apathya and extension of health
care services.

What are the initiatives taken so far?

Developed banners, hoardings, posters, handouts in Hindi, English and 07 regional languages.

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SwasthyaRakshan OPDs organized in each village on weekly basis for providing treatment for various disease

SwasthyaParikshan Camps organized on weekly basis.

Survey is undertaken in the identified villages to identify prevalent diseases.

Individual Health screening of people have been done.

For Health Promotion and health education, mass campaigning through rallies, NukkadNataks focussing on
personal, environmental and social hygiene are being for creating awareness about hygiene.

1.11 Child Abuse

What constitutes Child Abuse?

Child abuse has many forms: physical, emotional, sexual, neglect, and exploitation. Any of these that are
potentially or actually harmful to a child's health, survival, dignity and development are abuse.

Violence may take place in homes, schools, orphanages, residential care facilities, on the streets, in the
workplace, in prisons and in places of detention."

It affects the normal development of a child impairing their mental, physical and social being. In extreme
cases abuse of a child can result in death.

What are its manifestations?

Physical abuse - When a child has been physically harmed due to action or lack of action (bystanders not
helping) by another person.

Emotional abuse - Failure to provide a supportive environment for a child, so that they may develop a full and
healthy range of emotional abilities.

Sexual abuse is engaging a child in any sexual activity that he/she does not understand or cannot give
informed consent for or is not physically, mentally or emotionally prepared for.

Neglect or negligent treatment is purposeful omission of some or all developmental needs of the child by a
caregiver with the intention of harming the child.

Exploitation can be commercial or otherwise, where by the child is used for some form of labour, or other
activity that is beneficial for others. Example: child labour or child prostitution.

What are the problems in India?

It is largely a hidden problem.

Numbers of cases of child abuse in the home are hard to attain because most of these crimes go unreported.

Focus with regards to abuse has generally been in the more public domain such as child labour, prostitution,
marriage, etc. Intra-family abuse or abuse that takes place in institutions such as schools or government
homes has received minimal attention.

In most cases, the families themselves are not supportive to the child on account of misplaced notions of
family honour or that they have not taught the child to understand and then express any violations.

What should be the approach to protect?

Community approach - Increase awareness and promote participation of community including civil society
in protecting children from abuse.

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Empowerment -Empowerment of Children through provision of Healthcare (including psychological

support), education coupled with skills.

Legality -Provide protection from abuse through legal provisions.

What are the legal protections available?

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2000 established a framework for protection of, both
children in need of care and protection and for children in contact with the law.

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was established by the Government of
India in March 2007 by an Act of Parliament.

Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) 2008 - The guiding principles recognize that child
protection is a primary responsibility of the family, supported by community, government and civil society

Prevention of children from Sexual Offences (POCSO Act 2012): specifically address the issue of
sexual offences committed against children.

Thus, a comprehensive approach has to be developed and implemented in letter and spirit to protect the
children from abuse and uphold their rights.

1.12 Child Abduction Draft Bill

Why in news?

The ministry of women and child development (WCD) has been working on an Act to bring Indian law in line with the
Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, 1980.

What is Hague Convention?

Hague Abduction Convention is a multilateral treaty that provides an expeditious procedure to return a child
internationally abducted by a parent from one member country to another.

The contracting states will have to cooperate with each other in expeditiously sending back the runaway
parent and the child to the country of the childs habitual residence.

However, a return order would not decide the issue of custody but would only ensure that the custody battle is
settled in the jurisdiction of the country where the child has lived for most part of his life.

What is the need for the bill in India?

In the absence of a domestic law on inter-parental child abduction in India, very often children of NRIs who have
grown up abroad become silent victims of their parents marital dispute when they are forcibly brought back by one of
the parents.

What are the provisions of the Draft Bill?

The draft Bill would be applicable to all such cases of inter-country parental abductions where a child, less
than 16 years old, is taken away from India by one of the parents without the consent of the other.

The draft law mandates setting up of a central authority, to be headed by a joint secretary level officer, where
an aggrieved parent can approach for the return of a child.

The authority would have the power to decide all such cases.

Makes an exception only in cases where the child has been taken away with consent or where returning the
child poses some kind of grave risk to him or her.

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What are the factors to be considered?

In a majority of the cases, such children who have adapted to the culture of the country they are residing, find
it difficult to cope up, when brought to India.

Signing the convention will ensure enforcement of custody orders of foreign courts. Presently, a parent takes
advantage of the absence of a domestic law and knows if he/she brings the child to India it will be difficult to
enforce the custody order of a foreign court.

The draft Bill proposes to have a central authority to decide all child removal cases and present before the high
court, with its recommendations. But to find the child, the coordination mechanism between law enforcement,
the legal process and this new body is not clear.

A 2014 Berkeley University study for the US Justice Department, records that a lot of women are fleeing
unfavourable conditions. Forcing them to go back is not the solution.

What are the recommendations by Law Commission?

Recommends adding jail sentence (1 year jail term) and making the absconding parent pay for related
proceedings - including the cost of search, if the child is found to have been wrongfully removed from her
habitual location.

The Law Commission only makes an exception in cases where the parent, involved in the alleged wrongful
removal or retention, did so in an attempt to escape from any act of domestic violence. This provision is
specifically aimed at protecting women fleeing domestic violence.

What are its shortcomings?

Majority of those fleeing with children are women, it is not clear whether the penalisation, if findings of
violence or abuse are inconclusive.

A subsection allows for refusal to return the child to non-conducive situations - But no further explanation is
given of what these might be.

The recommendations do not safeguard the rights of the weaker party a person unable to cover costs of
litigation abroad.

1.13 National e- Health Authority

Why in news?

The Government of India is now scheduled to launch the National e-Health Authority (NeHA).

What is NeHA?

It is a regulatory body, tasked with overseeing the digitisation of health information.

As a statutory body it is tasked with the promotion/adoption of eHealth standards, enforcement of

privacy & security measures for electronic health data, and regulation of storage & exchange of
Electronic Health Records.
What are the advantages?

Healthcare APIs would allow the doctors iPad to talk to the chemists cash register, and lab tests to
communicate with the hospitals database.

It would remind mothers to vaccinate their children, push notifications to remind about the medication.

An alert will be made when traveling to an epidemic belt.

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Online Registration System (ORS) will be implemented in various hospitals in States/UTs and Central Govt.
Hospital/Institutes to provide online registration, online appointment services to citizens along with online
viewing of medical reports on ORS portal by citizens.

Scientists could search through hundreds of millions of records to find cures and validate current practices.

Policymakers would be able to conduct disease surveillance and formulate public health interventions,
clinicians and patients would have timely access to their records.

1.14 The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act,

Why FRA?

The aim of the act was to ensure recognition of the rights of the forest dwellers and also involve the traditional forest
dwellers in conservation of forests and biodiversity.

What are the eligibility criteria?

Eligibility to get rights under the Act is confined to those who "primarily reside in forests" and who
depend on forests and forest land for a livelihood.

Further, either the claimant must be a member of the Scheduled Tribes scheduled in that area or must have
been residing in the forest for 75 years.

What are the rights conferred?

Right to hold and live in the forest land under the individual or common occupation for habitation or for
self-cultivation for livelihood by a member or members of a forest dwelling Scheduled Tribe or other
traditional forest dwellers.

Community rights such as nistar.

Right of ownership, access to collect, use, and dispose of minor forest produce( includes all non-
timber forest produce of plant origin).

Right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource which they
have been traditionally protecting.

Right of access to biodiversity and community right to intellectual property and traditional knowledge related
to biodiversity and cultural diversity.

What is the process of recognition?

The Act provides that the gram sabha, or village assembly, will initially pass a resolution recommending
whose rights to which resources should be recognised.

This resolution is then screened and approved at the level of the sub-division and subsequently at the district

The screening committees consist of three government officials (Forest, Revenue and Tribal Welfare
departments) and three elected members of the local body at that level. They also hear appeals.

What are the provisions for resettlement?

People can be resettled from areas if it is found to be necessary for wildlife conservation.

The first step is to show that relocation is scientifically necessary and no other alternative is available.

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The second step is that the local community must consent to the resettlement.

Finally, the resettlement must provide not only compensation but a secure livelihood.

What are the issues?

Inclusion of Other Traditional Forest Dwellers diluted the law by taking the focus away from the
Scheduled Tribes who have a symbiotic relationship of the tribals with forest, which was the original intent
of the 2005 Bill. Tribals have emotional, psychological and cultural attachments with the forest and they
always lived in the forest and cannot be separated from forests. The same is not be said of the other
traditional forest dwellers i.e. non tribals, who turn to forests only for livelihood.

The cut-off date to qualify for holding of rights was initially prescribed as 25 October 1980. It was
changed to 13 December 2005. Tribal activists feel that it was meant to benefit the other traditional forest
dwellers, who are required to prove that they have been occupying the forestland for three generations as laid
down in the Act.

The cap of 4 hectares in the land entitlement of actual occupation. This provision hurts those Scheduled
Tribe families who have ancestral land in excess of 4 hectares. There is no provision of compensation for
surrendering extra land.

The Forest Act overlooked the thousands of pending cases against the forest dwellers for minor offences.
Although the Act confers them the right over minor forest produce, it has no provision for dropping the cases
against the poor tribals.

The individual rights trumped over community rights. According to these statistics from the report
on FRA, people are predictably keen to claim individual rights as this enables them to encash real estate and
other financial opportunities.

The effectiveness of the act lies in the implementation, which largely depends on the inclination of the forest
officials to implement the act in its spirit.

2. December - 2016

2.1 Pushed Patriotism

Why in news?

The Supreme Court ordered all cinema halls across the country should play the national anthem and that those
present must stand up in respect

What was the case about?

The order came on a writ petition by Shyam Narayan Chouksey in October.

The petition, which referred to the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act of 1971, claimed that the
national anthem is sung in various circumstances which are not permissible and can never be countenanced
in law.

It also referred to Article 51 (A) of the Indian Constitution to contend that it was the duty of every person to
show respect when the anthem was played.

However, the petition had not asked the court to direct the anthem to be played in movie halls.
Instead, it had focused on the commercial exploitation of the anthem.

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However the court ordered cinema halls to mandatorily play the national anthem before every screening even
as all those present have to stand up to show respect.

Cinemas should also display the national flag on screen when the anthem is played.

All doors in a cinema hall should remain closed to prevent any kind of disturbance when the anthem is played.

The court banned the commercial exploitation of the national anthem and ordered there should not be
dramatisation of the anthem or its inclusion as part of any variety show.

The court ordered that the anthem or part of it should not be printed or displayed in places disgraceful to its
status. It also banned the display, recitation or use of the abridged version of the anthem.

It said the order should come into effect in 10 days.

The five-page written order was meant to be an interim measure on Mr.Choukseys petition.

However did not elaborate why movie halls were particularly chosen as venues to instill nationalism.

What was the courts rationale behind the order?

The Bench said the protocol of showing respect to the anthem and flag was rooted in our national identity,
national integrity and constitutional patriotism.

It also said that the playing of the anthem is to be seen as an opportunity for the public to express their love
for the motherland.

The practice, according to the court, will instil a feeling of committed patriotism and nationalism.

Justice Misra observed in the order that a time has come, the citizens of the country must realise that they
live in a nation and are duty bound to show respect to the national anthem, which is a symbol of the
constitutional patriotism and inherent national quality.

He also said in court, It is time people feel this is my country. This is my motherland... You are an Indian first.
In other countries, you respect their restrictions. In India, you do not want any restrictions?

The Bench said there was no space for the perception of individual rights in this issue.

Why this judgment is irrational?

1. Against Fundamental rights

What was the Bijoe Emmanuel vs State Of Kerala case about?

The three child-appellants, Bijoe, BinuMol and Bindu Emmanuel, are the faithful of Jehovahs Witnesses.
Daily during the morning assembly in their school when the National Anthem is sung, they stand respectfully
but they do not sing. They do not sing because, according to them, it is against the tenets of their religious
faith not the words or the thoughts of the Anthem but the singing of it.

The MLA thought it was unpatriotic of the children not to sing the National Anthem. So, he put a question in
the Assembly and a Commission was appointed.

The Commission reported that the children are law- abiding and that they showed no disrespect to the
National Anthem.

But the Head Mistress expelled the children from the school from July 26, 1985. Finally the children filed a
Writ Petition in the High Court seeking relief but their plea was rejected.

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SCs view on High Courts order

There is no provisions of law which obliges anyone to sing the National Anthem nor do we think that it is
disrespectful to the National Anthem if a person who stands up respectfully when the National Anthem is sung
does not join the singing.

It is true Art. 51-A(a) of the Constitution enjoins a duty on every citizen of India to abide by the Constitution
and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem.

Proper respect is shown to the National Anthem by standing up when the National Anthem is sung. It will not
be right to say that disrespect is shown by not joining in the singing.

Article 25 is an article of faith in the Constitution, incorporated in recognition of the principle that the real test
of a true democracy is the ability of even an insignificant minority to find its identity under the countrys

SCs view on the question of tolerance

The Court was satisfied that the expulsion of the three children from the school is a violation of their
Fundamental Right to freedom of conscience and freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.

We, therefore, find that the Fundamental Rights of the appellants under Art. 19(1)(a) and 25(1) have been
infringed and they are entitled to be protected. We allow the appeal, set aside the judgment of the High Court
and direct the respondent authorities to re-admit the children into the school We only wish to add: our
tradition teaches tolerance; our philosophy preaches tolerance; our constitution practises tolerance; let us not
dilute it.

2. Against Safety

57 people died in a stampede after they were locked inside the Uphaar theatre hall and fire broke out.

The SC in its judgment said that while the theatres were entitled to regulate entry and exit, under no
circumstances should doors, which also double up as emergency exists be bolted or locked.

Rule 10 (8) of the Delhi Cinematographic Rules mandates that all exit doors for public to the open air shall be
available for exit during the whole time the public is in the building and shall not be locked or bolted.

Therefore the order that all doors in a cinema hall should remain closed to prevent any kind of disturbance
is against the safety of the public inside the halls.

3. Absurdity

On the one hand the court banned the commercial exploitation of the national anthem and ordered there should not
be dramatisation of the anthem and on the other it does the same by making it mandatory to play it in theatres.

4. Ineffectiveness

The enforced patriotism is simply transforming a private emotion into tokenistic public spectacle.
One stand up not necessarily because you want to, but because if dont, theyre likely to labelled a traitor.

2.2 Vasectomy Fortnight

Why in news?

The government observed Vasectomy Fortnight to create awareness about male sterilisation.

What is the problem?

Of the 40 lakh sterilisation procedures done in 2014-15, vasectomies accounted for only 1.9%.

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Yet men are unwilling to share the burden of birth control.

What is the reason?

There is an attached taboo.

There are concerns among men about losing physical vigour.

There is a lack of willingness to share the burden of contraception.

Women are also against their husbands undergoing vasectomies fearing it may rob the family of its means of

Are vasectomies effective?

Sterilisation is simpler in men than women.

Vasectomies are generally cheaper than tubectomies.

They are also much less invasive than tubectomies.

Recovery time and surgical risk are smaller.

Complications are rare and deaths are rarer.

What should be done?

Vigorous campaigning

Efficient counselling

Providing post-operative services and education.

It also should be noted that sterilisation should be the last option of birth control.

Quick facts

Total Fertility Rate

It is the average number of children born per woman

Replacement level fertility

It is when the total fertility rate is the same as the dying population, implying that the population exactly replaces itself
from one generation to the next.

2.3 Ban on Liquor Vends on Highways

Why in news?

The Supreme Court banned States and Union Territories from granting licences for the sale of liquor along National
and State highways across the country.

What was the order?

The Bench said the licences of liquor shops across the highways will not be renewed after March 31, 2017.

The judgment ordered that the prohibition on sale of liquor alongside highways would extend to stretches of
such highways that fall within limits of municipal corporations, city towns and local authorities.

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The court prohibited signages and advertising of availability of liquor on highways and ordered the existing
ones to be removed forthwith from both national and State highways. It noted that the highway should be
absolutely free from any distraction or attractions.

It also ordered that no shop for sale of liquor should be visible from the National and State highways and
noted that the visibility is the first temptation.

Neither should they be directly accessible from the highways nor should they be situated within a distance of
500 metres from the outer edge of the highways or service lanes.

It gave the Chief Secretaries and the State police chiefs a months time to chalk out a plan for enforcement of
the judgment.

One of the pleas noted that, India being a signatory to the Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety, it is
imperative that policy guidelines are framed to control road accidents. Also, the excise policies of Indian states
and Union territories should be amended to conform to the spirit of Article 47 & Article 21 of the
Constitution of India.

What was the courts rationale?

SC noted that drunken driving was the main culprit behind a large number of road accidents in the country.

The judgment is a result of the deep concern the court had expressed recently on the 1.5 lakh fatalities
annually in road accidents and about 15,000-16,000 deaths were caused because of driving under the
influence of alcohol.. It had blamed the Centre and the States for not doing enough as lives were lost on the

An analysis of road accident data 2015 reveals that around 1,374 accidents and 400 deaths take place every
day on Indian roads, resulting in 57 accidents and loss of 17 lives on an average every hour

The court said revenue generation could not be a valid reason for a state or a Union Territory to give licence
for liquor shops on highways.

Though many hailed the decision aimed at saving human lives, others argued that even if liquor is not
available along National Highways, one can always buy it beforehand. Those who are fond of drinking will not
stop because of this.

What was the governments reaction?

Liquor vends in Haryana were shifted from National and State Highways in 2014 following the orders of the
Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The Telangana government expected a huge impact on the business of retail outlets selling Indian Made
Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and bars along highways in the wake of the order.

The Kerala government will comply with the Supreme Court order to shut down liquor shops abutting national
and State highways though it was not sure whether the order applied to bar hotels, wine and beer parlours,
and toddy outlets.

2.4 Land of religious body can be acquired

Why in news?

The Allahabad High Court has ruled that a land belonging to a religious body can be acquired for a public purpose.

What were the rights violated?

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Church of North India Association challenged a notification by which four plots of land were acquired in
Firozabad district for construction of a by-pass connecting Agra with Etawah.

The petitioner had also argued that the acquisition of the land violated the Place of Worship (Special
Provisions) Act which safeguards all religious properties.

The court dismissed the plea.

The Courts order violated the right to freedom of religion and the freedom to manage religious affairs
guaranteed under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution.

Though right to property is no longer a fundamental right for a citizen, Article 26 confers right to every
religious denomination to own and acquire movable and immovable property.

What was the courts rationale?

It stated that Once there is public purpose for which land in question has been acquired, invoking
provision of the National Highways Act, 1956, then no relief can be accorded to the petitioner.

However the court said that in view of Christmas festivities, the structures should not be demolished for the
period of one month but thereafter the aggrieved party and the NHAI should work out modality for
demolition or shifting of the same.

The court said that the Place of Worship (Special Provisions) Act only bars any person from converting any
place of worship of any religious denomination or different religious denomination and that the provision
had been introduced to see that communal harmony is not disturbed and persons of one religious community
may not take on the other.

2.5 The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill

Why in news?

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2014, introduced in LokSabha in 2014, was passed in the RajyaSabha on

What is the Disability Bill, 2014 about?

The draft legislation is based on the 2010 report SudhaKaul Committee, and will replace the Persons with
Disabilities Act, 1995.

The Bill is being brought to comply with the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which
India became a signatory in 2007.

The 1995 Act recognised 7 disabilities - blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impairment, locomotor
disability, mental retardation and mental illness.

The 2014 Bill expanded the definition of disability to cover 19 conditions, including cerebral palsy,
haemophilia, multiple sclerosis, autism and thalassaemia among others.

The Bill also allowed the central government to notify any other condition as a disability.

Persons with at least 40% of a disability are entitled to certain benefits such as reservations in education
and employment, preference in government schemes, etc.

The Bill confers several rights and entitlements to disabled persons. These include disabled friendly access to
all public buildings, hospitals, modes of transport, polling stations, etc.

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In case of mentally ill persons, district courts may award two types of guardianship. A limited guardian takes
decisions jointly with the mentally ill person. A plenary guardian takes decisions on behalf of the mentally ill
person, without consulting him.

Violation of any provision of the Act is punishable with imprisonment up to six months, and/or fine of Rs
10,000. Subsequent violations carry a higher penalty and longer imprisonment.

What are the changes made to the 2014 Bill?

The government brought 119 amendments to the Bill, and this legislation has been pending in the House since
February 2014.

Additional Categories - The amended version recognises two other disabilities i.e resulting from acid
attacks andParkinsons Disease, taking the number of recognised conditions to 21, and defines each one
of them.

It makes a special mention of the needs of women and children with disabilities, and lays down specific
provisions on the guardianship of mentally ill persons.

Establishment definition - The amendments include private firms in the definition of establishments,
which previously referred to only government bodies. All such establishments have to ensure that persons
with disabilities are provided with barrier-free access in buildings, transport systems and all kinds of public
infrastructure, and are not discriminated against in matters of employment.

Reservation - The 1995 law had 3% reservation for the disabled in higher education institutions and
government jobs. The 2014 Bill raised the ceiling to 5%. But the amendments cut the quota to 4%.

Imprisonment - It removed the jail term entirely, and only keep fines for breaking the law or discriminating
against persons with disabilities.

Reasonable Restriction- The proposed amended law defines discrimination as any distinction, exclusion,
restriction on the basis of disability which impairs or nullifies the exercise on an equal basis of rights in the
political, social, cultural, civil or any other field. However, it excuses such discrimination if it is shown that
the impugned act or omission is a proportionate means of achieving legitimate aim.

What are the issues?

Larger coverage - The 2011 Census put the number of disabled in India at 2.68 crore, or 2.21% of the
population. This is a gross underestimation, especially in the light of the proposed amendments, which greatly
widen the current Census definition of disability.

The Bill makes a larger number of people eligible for rights and entitlements by reason of their disability, and
for welfare schemes and reservations in government jobs and education.

The amendments also dilute safeguards provided in the originally proposed Bill. When a greater number of
disabilities are being brought under the purview of the Act, the percentage of reservation should go up
proportionately, instead it has been reduced.

Chief Commissioner - The amendments do away with the provision in the 2014 Bill for strong National and
State Commissions for Persons with Disabilities, with powers on a par with a civil court. They instead continue
with the status quo of having only a Chief Commissioner with far fewer powers.

The chief commissioner has only recommending powers and there is no provision to ensure he or she too is a
disabled person. Every commission minorities, women, SCs or STs has a chairperson from the same

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Exception Clause - The exception clause to the discrimination is justified that certain jobs cannot be carried
out by people with disabilities. e.g A blind person cannot be employed in the military. However, every job has
certain basic requirements, and no person with disability will apply for it unless he or she meets the criteria.
Therefore this provision is unnecessary and paves way for extreme interpretations.

The bill fails to specify the degree of disability for thalassaemia, learning disabilities or autism. Moreover, in
India there are no suitable tools to quantify autism or learning disabilities.

State Subject - Though it has the legal space under Article 253 to make a law to implement an international
treaty, the question is whether it is appropriate for Parliament to impose legal and financial obligations on
states and municipalities with regard to disability, which is a State List subject.

The Financial Memorandum does not provide any estimate of the financial resources required to meet
obligations under the Bill.

In extraordinary situations district courts may appoint plenary guardians for mentally ill persons. The Bill
does not lay down principles for such determination, in a consistent manner, across various courts.

2.6 Forest Rights Act - Report Card

Why in news?

On the tenth anniversary of the historic passage of the Forest Rights Act, tribal resistance to defend their rights is
growing even as government after government tries to dilute its provisions

What are the provisions of the Act?

The Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2005 seeks to recognise forest rights of forest
dwelling Scheduled Tribes (FDSTs) who have been occupying the land before October 25, 1980.

An FDST nuclear family would be entitled to the land currently occupied subject to a maximum of 2.5
hectares. The land may be allocated in all forests including core areas of National Parks and Sanctuaries.

In core areas, an FDST would be given provisional land rights for five years, within which period he would be
relocated and compensated. If the relocation does not take place within five years, he gets permanent right
over the land.

The Act outlines 12 forest rights which include the right to live in the forest, to self-cultivate, and to use minor
forest produce. Activities such as hunting and trapping are prohibited.

The Gram Sabha is empowered to initiate the process of determining the extent of forest rights that may be
given to each eligible individual or family.

What were the initial shortcomings?

The initial bill was diluted of some important recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee on
community forest rights, access to minor forest produce etc.

The clause that Non-tribal Traditional Forest Dwellers would have to show evidence of their occupation of the
land for 75 years virtually negated the inclusion of these largely poorer sections, many of them Dalits, in the
law. Later the government brought in the three generation or 75-year clause.

The Bill with these obnoxious clauses was circulated and listed for immediate discussion and passage.

The Bill became law, but without the amendments promised. After much discussion and pressure, some of
them were included in the Rules. It included giving prime importance to the role of the gram sabhas.

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In spite of its inadequacies, there can be little doubt that the Forest Rights Act (FRA) stands as a powerful
instrument to protect the rights of tribal communities. It is a hindrance to corporate interests to their free loot
and plunder of Indias mineral resources, its forests, its water.

What are the latest moves against the act?

New legislations - A series of new legislations undermine the rights and protections given to tribals in the
FRA, including the condition of free informed consent from gram sabhas for any government plans to
remove tribals from the forests and for the resettlement or rehabilitation package.

Several laws were pushed without any consultation with tribal communities. They include the amendments to
the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act and a
host of amendments to the Rules to the FRA which undermine the FRA.

The requirement of public hearings and gram sabha consent has been done away with for mid-sized coal
mines. In Telangana the government has illegalised traditional methods of forest land cultivation. The
Jharkhand government has brought amendments to the Chotanagpur and also the SanthalPargana Tenancy
Acts which eliminate rights of gram sabhas and permit tribal land to be taken over by corporates, real estate
players, private educational and medical institutions without tribal consent.

In Maharashtra the government has issued a notification of Village Rules which gives all rights of forest
management to government-promoted committees as opposed to the gram sabha.

Change in Policy - The commitment to ensure ease of business is of late being translated into clearing all
private sector-sponsored projects in tribal-inhabited forest areas. The National Board for Wildlife, with the
Prime Minister as Chairperson, was reconstituted, slashing the number of independent experts from 15
members to three, packing it with subservient officials.

In last two years the clearances for projects have included diversion to the extent of 1.34 lakh hectares of
forest land. In many areas this will lead to massive displacement of tribal communities.

In the multipurpose Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh alone, now given a national status by the Central
government, 2 lakh hectares of forest land will be submerged affecting around 85,000 families, more than half
tribals, including 100 habitations of particularly vulnerable tribal communities. In almost all these projects,
the affected tribal families have not yet received their pattas (land ownership documents), one of the
conditions set by the FRA.

Freeze of the actual implementation - Neither individual pattas nor pattas for community forest
resources are being given. According to one analysis, between May 2015 and April 2016, eight out of every 10
claims were rejected.

Gujarat has one of the worst records in implementation of the FRA. Although 98 per cent of the approximately
1.9 lakh tribal claims had been approved by the gram sabhas, the bureaucrats in the sub-divisional committee
and above brought the acceptance down to just 38 per cent.

What is the role of Judiciary?

The same institution, which gave tribals hope through the Samata judgment, the historic Niyamgiri judgment,
has also clubbed together a number of hostile petitions to the FRA and is giving them a sympathetic hearing.

In January last year the court in an ominous intervention in a writ petition filed by Wildlife Trust of India and
others issued notice to all State governments to file an affidavit giving data regarding the number of claims
rejected within the territory of the State and the extent of land over which such claims were made and rejected
and the consequent action taken up by the State after rejection of the claims.

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This has rightly been taken by tribal communities and their organisations as a prelude to mass evictions.
Maharashtra issued a notification dated April 23, 2015, directing the police to take action against identified
encroachers, namely those whose claims have been rejected.

Till 1985, the department of Tribal Affairs was under the Home Ministry. Tribal rights and struggles for
justice were viewed as a law and order issue, always a problem.

Under the present dispensation this retrograde approach seems to have been resurrected, which has to be

2.7 Status of tribal development

Why in news?

Ministry of Tribal Affairs has recently released an annual report.

What are the findings?

The tribal population in India lags behind other social groups on various social parameters.

Health - Tribal population, with a vast majority engaged in agricultural labour, has the largest number of
anaemic women.

The community also registered the highest child mortality and infant mortality rates, when compared to
other social groups.

At an all-India level, there is a shortfall of 6,796 Sub Centres, 1267 Primary Health Centres and 309
Community Health Centres in tribal areas as on March 2015.

Education - While educational achievements on the whole have improved, the Report shows that the gross
enrolment ratio among tribal students in the primary school level has declined in 2015-16.

The dropout rate among tribal students has been at an alarming level.

While the overall poverty rates among the tribal population have fallen compared to previous years, they
remain relatively poorer when weighed against other social groups.

Rehabilitation - Out of an estimated 85 lakh persons displaced due to development projects and natural
calamities, only less than 25% have been rehabilitated so far.

In 2014, the Central government initiated the VanbandhuKalyanYojana for the holistic development and
welfare of tribal population on a pilot basis.

The Report points out that the token budgetary provisions being made under the VanbandhuKalyanYojana is
minuscule and barely sufficient to meet the purpose of the Scheme given that it intends to cover 27 States
across the country.

The Ministry has emphasised that more funds be provided for the Scheme from the year 2016-17 onwards.

What is VanbandhuKalyanYojana?

It was launched by Ministry of Tribal Affairs in 2014.

The Scheme mainly focuses on bridging infrastructural gaps and gap in human development indices between
Schedule tribes and other social groups.

It also envisages to focus on convergence of different schemes of development of Central

Ministries/Departments and State Governments with outcome oriented approach.

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It aims to improve the quality of life in tribal areas, quality of education, qualitative and sustainable
employment for tribal families and protection of tribal culture and heritage

2.8 International Guidelines for Tribal Communities

Why in news?

India has opposed international guidelines that require free or uninfluenced consent of tribal communities for
commercially using their traditional knowledge at the global biodiversity negotiations in Cancun, Mexico.

What are the guidelines?

More than 160 countries negotiated, under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity
(CBD), ways to ensure sustainable use of bio resources, including traditional knowledge of indigenous
communities and equitable sharing of benefits from commercial use of such resources with local communities
in Cancun last week.

An expert group under the CBD had recommended guidelines that sought countries to formulate laws that
require free, prior informed consent of tribal communities for accessing their traditional knowledge to
ensure benefit sharing and prevent unlawful appropriation of such knowledge.

Term prior implies the approval of tribal communities is taken well in advance, informed means all relevant
information is placed before them and free means the consent is obtained without any coercion or

While most countries agreed that rules should be framed for prior informed consent, they
had differences in including the term free in the guidelines.

Several developed and developing countries such as European Union, Peru, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico,
Morocco, Philippines and Bolivia supported using free prior informed consent in the guidelines but India, the
African Group, Timor Leste and Indonesia opposed reference to free prior informed consent.

In the face of the protest from India and others, diluted guidelines allowing countries to obtain consent as per
their national legislations were agreed upon.

Eventually, the CBD approved a compromised text of the guideline that says the countries can seek prior
informed consent, free prior informed consent or approval and involvement, depending on national

2.9 Refugee vs Refugee

What is the issue?

Ever since the 2014 Assembly elections forced the PDP and BJP into a coalition in Jammu and Kashmir, tensions
have erupted repeatedly over a lot of issues.

The latest issues that are deepening the faultlines between Jammu and the Valley are the issuance of identity
cards to Hindu refugees from West Pakistan, and the settlement of Muslim refugees from Myanmar
in the state.

What are the identity certificates that the J&K govt has been issuing?

They have a picture of the holder along with his name and parentage, and certify that he became a refugee from an
area now in Pakistan after Partition.

The certificate issued, says that the holder was a resident of an area in undivided India (that is now a part of
Pakistan), and that he is now living at a particular place in J&K as a refugee from (erstwhile) West Pakistan.

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How many West Pakistan refugees currently live in India?

No recent figures are available. The 1951 Census counted 72,95,870 people who had moved to India from East
Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and West Pakistan during Partition.

Those who settled elsewhere became Indian citizens domiciled in the respective states, the 5,764 families who had
arrived in Jammu from the adjoining areas of Pakistan were treated only as Indian citizens, and not as
permanent residents of J&K.

The refugees coming to J&K were treated differently from those who settled down elsewhere in accordance with
Section 6 of the Constitution of the state.

What is the impact of identity certificates?

Demands for permanent resident status to West Pakistan refugees probably started during and after the 1965 and
1971 wars.

Many permanent residents were displaced from areas now controlled by Pakistan. And the state govt, in order to
settle them elsewhere, took back agricultural land from West Pakistan refugees.

The literate among those who lost their lands eyed jobs in the central government, especially in the Army and
paramilitary forces.

There was no major problem until around 2000, but thereafter, in the context of militancy, all central
government recruiting agencies started asking for domicile certificates in order to ascertain their place
of residence.

Because the refugees were not permanent residents of the state, they faced difficulty in establishing that they lived
in areas of the Jammu region.

Though the identity certificates being issued to them do not confer upon them the status of permanent
residents of J&K, they do give them an official address for the first time since they migrated to the state
nearly 7 decades ago.

Politicians in the Muslim-majority Valley seeing the issuance of identity certificates to West Pakistan refugees,
who are overwhelmingly Hindu, as the first step to granting them domicile status as part of a bigger plot to
change the states demographic contours.

How do Rohingyas fit into these tensions?

Rohingyas are a roughly 1-million strong ethnic Muslim community in Myanmar, most of whom are
denied citizenship rights as their government considers them to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

A sizeable number have fled to India to escape persecution and violence, including nearly 7,000-8,000 in the
Jammu region. Many of them carry certificates issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) in Delhi.

The belief that Kashmiri Muslims are taking away a major chunk of the states resources, leads many in
predominantly Hindu Jammu to look at the settlement of new Muslim families with resentment and suspicion.

As with the West Pakistan refugees and the Muslim population in Kashmir, settlements of Rohingya Muslims in
Jammu city appear to many Hindus as a conspiracy to change the demography of the region.

2.10 Migration in India

Why in news?

According to Census data released, southern states, especially Tamil Nadu and Kerala, have shown the highest
increase in migrant population.

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Who are migrants?

The present study considers migrants by place of last residence i.e those who have last resided at a place other
than their place of enumeration are deemed to be migrants.

The study, however, does not point out whether these are interstate or intrastate migrants.

What is the current scenario?

Migration patterns in India are increasingly reflecting the economic divide in the country, with more migrants
over the last decade heading to the southern states, which have grown at a faster clip during this period.

With 45.36 Crore migrants in India, every third citizen of the country is a migrant.

Of these, 69% are women.

Migrants constitute 37.8% of Indias 121.03 Crore population. Over the last decade, the total number of
migrants in India rose by 44.35 per cent from 31.45 Crore in 2001. During the same period, Indias population
grew 17.64%.

Tamil Nadus migrant population surged 98% from 1.58 Crore in 2001 to 3.13 Crore in 2011. During the
same period, the population of the state grew by 15.6%. Migrants now constitute 43.4 per cent of the states
population compared to 25.44 per cent in 2011.

Keralas migrant population has grown by 77. The states population in the same period grew by 4.9 per cent.
In Kerala, nearly 49% of the population called themselves migrants.

Karnataka too has shown a 50% increase in its migrant population.

Only Andhra Pradesh, with a 40% rise in migrant population, has shown a growth below the national average.

The only other states which have shown a higher growth of migrant population are Meghalaya and Manipur,
where the number of migrants have grown by 108% and 97% respectively.

For Jammu and Kashmir, it was 55% and Assam 52%.

What is the reason for migration?

While globally, migration is attempt by people to survive and prosper, in India, marriage appears to be
the biggest reason why people migrate.

Of the total 45.36 Crore migrants, 69% people referred to marriage being the reason for their migration.

Only 11.17% of the migrants termed work and business as causes.

Why women migrate?

Majority of women have cited marriage or having migrated with their husbands as the reason for their

Apart from these, the Census data shows that Indian women are also migrating for work and education.

The number of Indian women who are economic migrants moving for the sake of work, business or education
has grown by 129%.

During the same period, the number of male economic migrants grew by 51%.

Why surge in migration to Southern States?

The socio-economic development of the southern states is considerably higher and that attracts people.

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Another factor is that because of better education levels and awareness, local residents of these areas get
drawn towards better economic opportunities. This vacuum that gets created gets filled up by people from

These developed areas face a crisis of manpower, especially for low-skilled jobs, which leads to

2.11 Economic migrants contribution

What is the issue?

There are times when economic compulsions force people to leave the zones of kinship, culture and comfort to seek a
better life elsewhere. Migration must not be confused with refugees.

If the problem is different, the solution cannot be the same. We need separate sets of policies, frameworks and

Why are the economic migrants to be treated differently?

Economic migration is a natural outcome of an interconnected world, driven by global demand and supply in
the labour market.

The latest migration-related data indicate that over 90% of the 247 million people estimated to be living
outside the country of their birth are economic migrants and only 10% may be refugees or asylum seekers.

Economic migration is not a zero-sum situation i.e what one person gains the other must lose. 35% of them
are highly skilled, who provide crucial support to growth of the global economy, particularly in the knowledge
and innovation sectors.

Also as per the McKinsey Global report, migrants contribute around 9.4% of global gross domestic product,
which amounts to an output of $ 6.7 trillion $3 trillion more than what they might have produced in their
countries of origin.

If we see the element of productivity, migrants of all skill levels contribute to productivity effect in the top
destination countries and so to global growth.

Studies indicate that economic migrants contribute positively to new business formation, innovation and job
creation, which act as catalysts of growth for destination countries, in particular, and for the global economy in
general they contribute above their weight.

What should be done?

We need to develop a more comprehensive and long-term vision for addressing the economic dimension of

We need to synergise this with Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development, by which we have committed to
cooperate for facilitating orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including
through implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.

The following should be done -

Migrants should be kept at the core of the agenda and develop programmes, tools and methodology to
enhance the interests of migrants and their families while maintaining policy space for governments of
destination, transit and origin.

The economic dimension of migration and work towards eliminating barriers to economic migration should be
focussed upon.

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An environment for safe, orderly,regular, open and legal migration should be created.

Recognition of skills and human mobility partnerships should be focussed upon.

Equal opportunities to women should be provided and non-discriminatory policies and practices should be

Special provisions to take care of people in vulnerable situations and inclusion of persons with disabilities
should be included.

The human rights of migrants should be protected and exploitation and abuse should be stopped.

Incidents and impact of irregular migration, including trafficking of people and migrant smuggling, as well as
facilitating return and reintegration should be reduced.

Provisions to respond to the situations of natural, man-made disasters and crises due to conflicts should be
made, as these have the potential to disrupt the migration phenomenon and disproportionately affect the
interest of migrants.

Research indicates that a large section of migrants works in the informal sector. This is a grey area with its
own sets of challenges and remains largely unregulated. A comprehensive, and objective understanding of
these challenges is essential for the success of global governance as well as Agenda 2030 on Sustainable

2.12 Survey on Inter-Caste Marriages and Untouchability

Why in news?

A new survey called SARI (Social Attitudes Research for India) investigated what people think about inter-caste and
inter-religious marriage.

What are the findings?

People from all backgrounds said that they would raise objections to people marrying from other social

Nearly 50% of the non-Scheduled Caste respondents in Delhi and 70% in Uttar Pradesh said that they would
oppose a child or close relative marrying a Dalit.

There was even greater opposition to inter-religious marriages.

In Delhi, about 60% of Hindus said they would oppose a child or relative marrying a Muslim; a similar
fraction of Muslims would oppose a child or relative marrying a Hindu.

In Uttar Pradesh, the opposition was even greater: about 75% of Hindus opposed marriages with Muslims,
and only a slightly lower fraction of Muslims, about 70%, opposed marriages with Hindus

The survey asked respondents whether they thought there should be laws to stop marriages between upper
castes and lower castes. About 40% respondents in Delhi and more than 60% in rural Uttar Pradesh said that
such laws should exist.

Laws against intermarriage have been sought among the lower castes as well as the upper castes.

A higher fraction of women than men in each of Delhi, urban Uttar Pradesh, and rural Uttar Pradesh said they
would support laws against inter-caste marriage.

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The idea that laws should prohibit inter-caste marriages was not confined to older generations. The only
demographic factor that is strongly associated with support for laws against inter-caste marriage is education.

How prevalent is untouchability?

Among non-Dalit Hindus in Delhi, a third said that someone in their household practises untouchability. In
Uttar Pradesh, half of adults said that someone practises it.

In Delhi, half the adults in non-SC Hindu households, where someone practises untouchability, said
they themselves practise it. In Uttar Pradesh 70% did.

These numbers are, we dont think that they capture the full extent of the problem. That is because some
people know that it is not politically correct to admit practising untouchability to a stranger.

Even though women and men live in similar households, women are more likely to report
untouchability in the household. This suggests that either men are uninformed or they are giving a
socially desirable, but incorrect, answer.

Women may be more likely to report untouchability where it exists because they are less aware that it is not a
politically correct thing to say.

Another reason why women may be more likely to report untouchability is it is often practised in the context
of food, utensils, and domestic help.

Women are more likely to work with food and utensils than men, and so they are probably more likely than
men to enforce untouchability.

Why inter caste marriages are less prevalent?

Inter-caste or inter-religious marriages can make a person an outcast among his family and neighbours.
He may even be barred from family inheritance. Even when families are not adamantly opposed to an
inter-caste marriage, there is a strong belief that it is more convenient to settle down with a socially
and culturally familiar person.

The finding that even many educated people think there should be laws against inter-caste marriage raises
serious questions about our education system and whether it is doing enough to reduce caste
and religious prejudice.

It is telling that many of the youth passing out of the premier technical and medical institutions still depend
on their parents to choose their spouses.

What should be done?

Each year, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment makes available 500 monetary awards to inter-
caste couples. The small size of this programme makes it more of a symbolic gesture than an actual incentive,
but it is nevertheless a good idea.

The government should be doing much more to promote inter-group marriage and to protect those who seek
them. In practice, officials in the courts and the police often enforce divisive social norms rather than
enforcing the laws. They may discourage or intimidate couples who try to marry across caste or religious lines.

Lack of government support in the face of family disapproval may be one reason why the India Human
Development Survey found that only 5% of marriages are inter-caste.

To end untouchability will mean that everyone, from government official, to teacher, to young mother has to
make an effort. Everyone needs to admit that untouchability is still a widespread problem, not only in rural
India but also in urban India.

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A study of primary school students in the United States found that white students who read about both the
accomplishments of and the discrimination faced by black Americans later displayed less biased attitudes
towards blacks than white children who had merely read about accomplishments.

So, rather than simply denying the existence of untouchability it is time for parents, teachers, and even the
government to start talking to children about ending these practices today.

2.13 Gender Selectiveness

Why in news?

A Kerala newspaper offered scientific advice for conceiving boys.

What is the current scenario?

Indian society has long had a preference for sons.

As a result, sex-selective abortion and female foeticide have led to the country having one of the worlds most
skewed sex ratios.

According to the Census 2011, there were 914 girls to every 1,000 boys in India for children up to the age of

A report pointed to the fact that in the absence of prenatal sex selection, several families resort to repeated
pregnancies in their quest for a male child and data has shown that at every family size, there were more boys
born than girls.

What is the issue?

Fuelling the countrys obsession with sons, a newspaper in Kerala called Mangalam, last week offered
scientifically proven advice on how to conceive a boy.

Among the advice offered by the newspaper are eating plenty of mutton, never skipping breakfast and always
sleeping with the face turned leftwards.

The column contains more ridiculous food habits to be followed to ensure male baby.

Several women in the country even pin their hopes for a male offspring on what are known as sex-selection

Women are consuming these harmful drugs linked to birth defects and stillbirths without realising that
the sex of a child cannot be altered in the womb.

What are the consequences?

The article in the Kerala daily just goes to show that gender selection is widespread despite initiatives taken by
the Indian government, NGOs and health workers.

The message isnt going through and the people still value boys more than girls.

Apart from the obvious gore in this practise, it also reflects a mentality that proves harmful to girl children,
when the escape the sex selectiveness and enter the world.

Stereotypical gender roles that assign certain duties and ideal behaviour to people impact the way men treat

When children are exposed to an imbalanced power system from almost the day they were born, a sense of
invincibility makes boys believe people will excuse their deplorable behaviour.

Children are not born violent, or aggressive or disrespectful of women. They learn to be so from grown-ups
and other sources.

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How prevalent is the crime among juveniles?

More and more young people are taking to heinous crimes such as rape are magnifications of this mentality.

Rape was the third most prevalent crime among juveniles in 2015 after theft and trespassing or burglary, says
the National Crime Records Bureau.

In 2015, more than 41,000 juveniles were apprehended across the country, 1,841 on rape-related charges.

1680 cases of rape were registered under juveniles in India under Section 376. Minors were booked in 88
cases of gang rape.

Moreover, as one of our columnists noted, notions of honour are central to the discourse on rape.

The rape of a daughter, sister or wife is a source of dishonour to males within the family structure. This deters
the reporting of rape to the police.

What should be done?

In order to change the long-standing preference for sons, there is a need to first change the image of girls in
our society.

Violence against women will not decrease unless there is a thrust on having a gender-neutral approach
towards policies and programmes.

This is because investing in men is also a way of ensuring womens empowerment, because a gender sensitive
father, brother or spouse will positively impact womens lives.

2.14 Sachar Committee Report

Why in news?

Ten years has been completed since Sachar Committee submitted its report.

What is Sachar Committee?

On March 9, 2005, the then PM issued a Notification for the constitution of a High Level Committee to prepare a
report on the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community of India.

The seven-member High Level Committee, chaired by Justice RajindarSachar, submitted its final report to the
Prime Minister on November 17, 2006.

The Sachar Committee has compiled data from a number of sources. The report frames these issues as
related to identity, security and equity.

Barring some generic observations about the causes for the development deficit among Muslims, there is no
explicit or detailed discussion of the causes of such conditions.

What are the recommendations?

The Committee made a number of recommendations to address the status of the Muslim community in India,

Set up an Equal Opportunity Commission to look into grievances of deprived groups like minorities.

Create a nomination procedure to increase participation of minorities in public bodies.

Establish a delimitation procedure that does not reserve constituencies with high minority population for SCs.

Create a National Data Bank (NDB) where all relevant data for various socio-religious categories are maintained.

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Increase employment share of Muslims, particularly where there is great deal of public dealing.

Work out mechanisms to link madarsas with higher secondary school board. Recognise degrees from madarsas for
eligibility in defence, civil and banking examinations.

Set up an autonomous assessment and monitoring authority to evaluate the extent of development benefits.

The Committee suggested that policies should sharply focus on inclusive development and mainstreaming
of the Community while respecting diversity.

What is the outcome?

An analysis of government data show that most indicators have not seen significant improvement in the years
since the Report was submitted.

In some cases things seem to have, in fact, deteriorated in 2005, for example, the share of Muslims
among Indias police forces was 7.63%; in 2013, it fell to 6.27%.

The government subsequently stopped releasing data on police personnel broken down by religion.

Muslims continued to have the lowest average monthly per capita expenditure among all communities.

The work participation rate for Muslim men increased only slightly to 49.5% in 2011 from 47.5% in 2001; for
Muslim women, the increase was even smaller, from 14.1% in 2001 to 14.8% in 2011.

Figures in IAS and IPS - The Sachar Committee recorded the percentage of Muslims in the IAS and IPS as 3%
and 4% respectively. These numbers were 3.32% and 3.19% respectively on January 1, 2016.

The fall in Muslim representation in the IPS was due to a steep fall in the share of Muslim promotee
officers in the IPS from 7.1% in the Sachar Report to merely 3.82% at the beginning of 2016.

Census datas - As per the Census of 2001, Muslims were 13.43% of Indias population; in 2011, they were 14.2%.

The increase of 24.69% in the population of Muslims between the two Censuses was the smallest
ever recorded for the community.

The sex ratio among Muslims remained better than that of India overall in both 2001 and 2011, and the percentage
of Muslims living in urban centres too remained higher than the national average in both Censuses.

The abysmally low representation of Muslim OBCs suggests that the benefits of entitlements meant for the
backward classes are yet to reach them.

The conditions of the general Muslim category are lower than the Hindu - OBCs who have the benefit of
reservation. However, the conditions of Muslim-OBCs are worse than those of the general Muslim category.

The three groups of Muslims in India ashrafs, ajlafs and arzals, (in order of caste hierarchy) require
different types of affirmative action.

3. January - 2017

3.1 Supreme Court on Religion

Why in news?

The Supreme Court ruled that religion, race, caste, community or language would not be allowed to play any role in
the electoral process.

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What is Section 123 of RPA?

Section 123(3) of the Act defines as corrupt practice appeals made by a candidate or his agents to vote or
refrain from voting for any person on the ground of his religion, race, caste, community or language.

What came up for interpretation before the Constitution Bench was the meaning of the term his since that
would define whose religion it has to be when an appeal is made.

Previous judgments handed out conflicting views and hence the question came up before the seven judges.

What was the judgment?

In Abhiram Singh v C.D. Commachen by a 4-3 majority ruling, a seven-judge Constitution Bench held
that an of a candidate would be declared null and void if an appeal is made to seek votes on religion, race,
caste, community or language.

The majority view interpreted Section 123(3) of the RPA to mean that this provision was laid down with intent
to clearly proscribe appeals based on sectarian, linguistic or caste considerations.

The majority view stated that his would mean religion of candidate, his agents, voters as well as any
other person who brings up religion in an appeal for votes.

It will include religious and spiritual leaders, often engaged by candidates to mobilise their followers.

What was the dissenting view?

Three judges dissented with the majority view stating the word his is in reference to the candidate or that
of a rival candidate only and not the voter or anybody else.

They stated that to hold that a person who seeks to contest an election is prohibited from speaking of the
legitimate concerns of citizens that the injustices faced by them on the basis of basis of origin in religion, race,
caste, community or language would be remedied is to reduce democracy to an abstraction.

What is the majority view?

The elections to the State legislature or to the Parliament or any other body in the State is a secular

The State being secular in character will not identify itself with any one of the religions or religious

The concerns under Section 123(3) of the Act have increased with the tremendous reach already available to a
candidate through the print and electronic media none of which were seriously contemplated till about fifteen
years ago.

Therefore now it is necessary to ensure that the provisions of sub-section (3) of Section 123 of the Act are not
exploited by a candidate or anyone on his behalf by making an appeal on the ground of religion.

So Section 123(3) has to be interpreted in a manner that leaves no scope for any sectarian caste or language-
based appeal.

What was the shortcoming?

The bench, however, refrained from revisiting its 1995 judgment on Hindutva.

According to this three-judge bench judgment of 1995, an appeal in the name of Hindutva to seek votes was
not a corrupt practice warranting disqualification of a candidate as it was a way of life and not a religion.

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3.2 Mass Molestation

Why in news?

The mass molestation during the events of New Years-eve in Bengaluru once again holds a mirror up to Indian

What happened during New Years Eve at Bengaluru?

Thousands of celebrators had gathered in and around Mahatma Gandhi Road and Brigade Road to ring in
2017 on New Years Eve to celebrate.

According to reports a large number of women were sexually assaulted around midnight.

While no complaint had been filed, Bengaluru police have taken up an investigation based on the reports of
women being groped and physically attacked.

Another similar incident has come into the public domain, with CCTV footage showing a woman being
grabbed as she makes her way home in a residential street before she pulls herself free and escapes.

How a minister responded?

Karnataka Home Minister blamed the violence on western culture.

This concurs with the prevelant thought of the society that for women to wear western dress and be out and
about having a good time is to invite sexual harassment.

This shows why women are hesitant to came forth and register an offence, as they themselves are held

What society should do?

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 had sought to simplify procedures for women to bring sexual
offences to the attention of the police.

To truly convince women that the state is on the same page, every crime against a woman must be regarded as
a horror.

But without an administrative ethos that does not flip an accusation on a woman and instead asserts a
womans right to bodily integrity no matter where she is and what she is doing, no amount of law-making can
significantly change things.

Apart from these change in mind-set it should also be discussed by administration failed to prevent these

Why police couldnt stop?

There is a factor of inadequacies of police leadership.

They look up to the Chief Minister or Home Minister for approval of even minor and routine field decisions.

The police were also outnumbered in a few places, where the gathering of revellers was more than usual.

The local police stations could have possibly made an assessment late in the afternoon so that extra policemen
could have been directed to localities where the crowds were pouring in.

There was therefore an element of failure on the part of city police intelligence.

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The police were reluctant to use force against the antisocial elements. They wait for orders from the top most

This unfortunate situation has developed over the years because of many complaints of police excesses and the
judicial enquiries ordered as a sequel.

Many belonging to the Opposition lose no time accusing the police of overreaction, only to embarrass the
ruling party even where there is consensus that the situation on the ground did warrant police opening fire or
using batons.

Unless this situation changes, one will continue to hear complaints of police failures.

What changes have to be done?

New institutions within the police so as to draw benefit from public inputs should be formed

Reliance should be more on institutional wisdom and memory rather than on individual experiences.

In specific terms, what is required now is to restructure existing police arrangements for special
occasions such as New Year celebrations.

The police sensitivity to the task of protecting our women should be enhanced.

The law on sexual assaults on women should also be made more stringent.

New methods of training will certainly help, but only moderately. Imaginative day-to-day interaction on the
subject between the higher ranks and policemen at the grass-roots level will alone help.

3.3 Pan-India expansion of Maternity Benefit Programme

Why in news?

PM has announced pan-India expansion of MBP in all the districts with effect from January 2017.

Why MBP is needed?

An under-nourished mother almost inevitably gives birth to a low birth weight baby.

Owing to economic and social distress many women continue to work to earn a living right upto the last
days of their pregnancy.

Furthermore, they resume working soon after childbirth impending their ability to exclusively breastfeed
their young infant in the first six months.

What is MBP?

To address the above issues, in accordance with the provisions of Section 4(b) of National Food Security Act,
Maternity Benefit Programme was formulated by the MWCD.

It is a conditional cash transfer scheme.

It provides cash incentives to Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW&LM).

1. for the wage loss so that the woman can take adequate rest before and after delivery;

2. to improve her health and nutrition during the period of pregnancy and lactation;

3. to breastfeed the child during the first six months of the birth, which is very vital for the development of
the child.

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All PW&LM, excluding those in regular employment with the Government or PSUs are eligible.

The cash incentive of Rs.6,000/- is payable in three instalments for the first two live births in three stages.

The cash transfer would be Aadhaar linked through the individual bank/post office account etc. in DBT mode.

It is expected that annually about 51.70 lakh beneficiaries would avail of the benefit.

Why the expansion of MBP matters?

Expansion of MBP will have huge impact on the PW&LM as it will not only provide them compensation for the
wage loss but will also provide them adequate nutrition and rest before and after delivery.

Mothers will have sufficient time to breastfeed the child during first six months of the birth.

Resultantly, it is expected that it will reduce mother mortality rate, IMR, under-nutrition and its
adverse effects.

It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme and the cost sharing between Centre and States is 60:40 for all the States and
UTs (with legislature), 90:10 for NER and Himalayan States and 100% GoI share for UTs without legislatures.

3.4 Denotified tribes in India

What is the issue?

A recent report of the NCDNT has highlighted that many of the denotified, nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes are
lacking access to socio-economic benefits.

What are denotified tribes?

It has its bases in Criminal Tribes Act of 1871.

The act provided that if the Local Government is convinced that a tribe, gang or class of persons is addicted to
the systematic commission of non-bailable offences then it can suggest it to be a criminal tribe.

The then Governor General in Council gives the final approval.

Based on Ayyangar Committees recommendations The Criminal Tribes Act of 1952 repealed the notification.

This act 'de-notified' the tribal communities designated as criminals who then came to be called "denotified

However the act was replaced by Habitual Offenders Act.

This shifted the identification to the individual, rather than the collective tribal community.

The habitual offenders have principles of registration, restrictions on movement and provisions for corrective

What is NCDNT?

NCDNT is the National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes.

It is set up under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to study the developmental issues
of denotified and nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes in India.

What are the concerns with denotified tribes?

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has stated that the once tagged criminal tribes
were still being stigmatised socially.

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The Habitual Offenders Act has failed to address this.

Many of the denotified, nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes are spread among SC/ST/OBC and many are still
not classified anywhere.

There are many anomalies in terms of identification of these communities, from state to state. Ex: Backward
Tribe (Puducherry), Extremely Backward Classes (Bihar), Primitive Tribes (Jharkhand/ Odisha).

This identification crisis makes it difficult for them to receive socio-economic benefits such as education,
health, housing, etc.

Many people also do not know what is denotified tribe and which authority is looking after their grievances.

What is the way forward?

A recommendation is underway to form a district-level Grievances Redressal Committee under the District
Collector to hear the grievances of these communities/groups/tribes.

Proper classification of the denotified tribes will ensure them the benefits of reservation.

Ensuring occupational opportunities for them will go a long way in eliminating the social stigma.

3.5 Higher Education in India

What is the present condition?

Around 45 million Indian undergraduate students are too poor to pursue higher education, according to data from
the National Sample Survey, 2014.

Around 35 million students were enrolled in institutions of higher education in 2014-15 out of which around 60%
are enrolled in private institutions.

Private sector accounts for 76% of total institutions of higher education.

What the status of Indian GER?

Low gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education has been another concern in India.

The GER of higher education has increased from 10 per cent in 2004 to 23.6 per cent in 2014, according to MHRD

Despite the increase, Indias GER is the lowest among major emerging economies such as Brazil, China,
Russia according to World Bank data.

More than half the students aged between 16 and 17 years did not enroll for higher education after completing

What are the hurdles in increasing enrolment?

Successive governments have argued that allowing private sector in higher education would lead to higher

This allowed expansion of private educational institutions.

While it is true that GER in higher education has recorded growth during this period, the increased cost of higher
education due to privatisation has deprived millions of aspirants from education.

Higher per capita expenditure on higher education in some states has resulted in better GER. For example, the per
capita expenditure of Goa is Rs 14,634 and the GER is 33.2 per cent.

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Global experience also suggests that higher public investment in education yields positive results, according to the
mission document of RUSA.

Are students forced to enroll in private institutions?

The first decade of the 21st century witnessed expansion of higher educational institutions, according to National
Higher Education Mission (known as RashtriyaUchchatarShikshaAbhiyan RUSA).

While government-owned institutions for higher education increased 49%, private sector institutions recorded a
63% growth in the same period (2006-12).

Around 53% college students are enrolled in private institutions because there are not enough public higher
educational institutions. Many of them would rather be in government-run institutions.

So, while there is high demand for public higher educational institutions, successive governments have failed to
meet the demand, pushing students towards private education.

Private expenditure on education for general courses has increased 175.8% (during 2008-14).

The TSR Subramanian Committee report on New Education Policy, admitted that uncontrolled
privatisation of higher education has resulted in the proliferation of private institutions for higher education.

While there are a few institutions which can be identified as Centres of Excellence, there are a large number,
which could well be described as degree shops.

3.6 Report on SSA and Mid-Day-Meal Scheme

Why in news?

The Standing Committee on Human Resource Development submitted its report on the implementation of
SarvaShikshaAbhiyan (SSA) and Mid-Day-Meal Scheme (MDMS).

What is SSA?

SSA was launched in 2000.

It seeks to achieve universal access to education and retention of students in schools.

MDMS, launched in 1995, seeks to address the issues of hunger and education in schools by serving hot
cooked meals and improving the nutritional status of children, enrolment, attendance and retention rates.

What are the findings?

The enrolment is now near universal.

But the learning outcomes are still far from satisfactory. e.g Only about half the children in standard V could
do a two-digit subtraction problem with borrowing.

The educational development has been better in economically developed areas with strong
infrastructural support as compared to the backward regions of the country.

The State Institutes of Educational Management and Trainings, which act on state specific issues and
innovations, are absent.

There are wide variations in the nature and effectiveness of the District Institutes of Education and

There are a large number of teacher vacancies under SSA, which adversely affects the implementation of
the scheme.

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MDMS led to more attendance of pupils but did not significantly aid fresh enrolments into schools.

MDMS has diverted the attention of teachers and students on activities related to it, rather than towards
teaching and learning activities.

There is also a shortfall in the infrastructure required for the implementation of MDMS. e.g Lack of
pucca buildings, separate toilet facilities for boys & girls, unavailability and poor functional condition of
kitchen sheds, etc.

The states did not follow the central governments guidelines on delivering food grains at the school by Public
Distribution System dealers.

There were also instances where due to the long supply chain, the supplied food grains got adulterated and

The states have not earmarked funds for priority areas in education out of the increased fund devolution to
states, as a part of recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission.

What are the recommendations?

Therefore the states should undertake measures at their own level to improve learning outcomes.

The policy should shift its approach from input-based expenditure to outcome-focused achievement.

The funding should focus on progress towards goals, such as improving learning outcomes of children in
elementary schools.

The government should introduce programmes to minimise the gap between states with regard to
educational status.

The discrepancies between national and state systems (such as the norms for age of entry) should be removed.

The vacancies created under SSA must remain as sanctioned posts and the states can recruit fresh
teachers against these vacancies.

The district nodal authorities must strictly demand utilisation certificates from the implementing
authority and the schools so that delivery of funds/food grains are not delayed.

The states must proportionately adjust the increased devolution of funds for education.

The pilot project of establishing Smart Classes in government schools must be initiated to make the
teachinglearning process more effective through computer enabled techniques.

3.7 Swachh Bharat Mission Progress and Problems

What is SBM?

On 2 October 2014, Prime Minister announced the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), which targets eradicating
open defecation in India by 2019.

SBM is a much-needed endeavour to improve sanitation standards in India.

Globally, India had a worse record than even poorer regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, Haiti, Ghana, etc. in
terms of open defecation.

What has been the progress?

Between October 2014 and February 2016, the share of rural households defecating in the open went down by
just over seven percentage points.

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The figure was still above the halfway mark.

Both the extent of open defecation and their progress in eradicating it varies greatly across states.

What are the problems?

Toilet Coverage - The states which recorded better toilet coverage also had a lower share of households
contributing to open defecation.

Sikkim, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, which had higher individual toilet coverage, fared best in
terms of rural sanitation.

Odisha, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand and Telangana with less coverage were among the laggards.

Usage - 6% of households in India reported open defecation despite having toilets.

Access to Water - It is important in determining toilet use. 63% of the households that defecated in the
open reported having toilets without running water.

States with poor access to water in toilets have a higher share of households contributing to open defecation.
e.g Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Bihar

Budget - The government set aside Rs 9,000 crore for rural sanitation in the 2016-17 Union budget but this
has been accompanied by declining funds for the National Rural Drinking Water Programme.

This is unlikely to help eradicate open defecation.

Caste-based discrimination in the provision of water also seems to be responsible for low toilet usage.

Out of the 102 hand-pumps constructed in village in Rajasthan in the last 10 years, only two could be located
in areas inhabited by lower-caste people.

With a regular toilet requiring at least 20-30 litres of water in a day for smooth functioning, even obtaining a
few litres every day is a struggle in these areas.

Maintenance of toilets - It is critical to ensure usage.

What should be done?

It is essential to meet all the above shortcomings to achieve Swacch Bharat.

But it is to be remembered that eradicating open defecation would require much more than just meeting toilet
construction targets.

Spending on toilet construction has steadily grown but the spending on the expenditure for behaviour change
campaign activities is much less. In October, it constituted just 0.8% of the spending on construction of toilets.

Even that is limited to big billboards and advertisements.

But it has more to do with person to person engagement.

It is to be noted that the demand for toilets that will eliminate open defecation.

Therefore demand for toilets has to be created at local level and then people need to be made aware of

3.8 Urban poor out of affordable housing benefits

Why in news?

The poor in urban India might stay untouched by the initiatives announced by the Prime Minister on the last day of

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What is PMAY?

The objective of PMAY is to provide shelter to homeless individuals, especially those who belong to lower income

The implementation will be carried out in three phases.

Under PMAY, the government aims to cover around two million non-slum urban poor households.

The mission is being implemented over 2015-2022, providing central assistance to urban local bodies and other
implementing agencies, through states and Union Territories.

What is the major issue?

Experts agree the affordable housing segment will get a needed boost but not in big cities.

Effects of the new schemes launched under the PradhanMantriAwasYojana (PMAY) would be felt more in
tier-II and tier-III cities.

The initial fillip would be visible in rural and semi-urban areas.

The effect would not be much visible in cities, as the land prices are higher.

3.9 Slums and Urban Housing

What is the issue?

A last year report states that, , though only limited housing were built, there is a 23% vacancy in urban housing built
under the PMAY.

What are the problems in slums?

A slum is a heavily populated urban informal settlement characterized by substandard housing and lack of

The global urban population is about to be doubled by 2050.

In most of the developing countries, the first residence for a migrant in the city is in the slum.

Slums comprise of significant health risks.

They lack basic facilities like road and drinking water.

The illegal nature of housing makes slum dwellers susceptible to extortion.

They are also more prone to disasters like urban floods.

What has been done?

The agenda of Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable was enshrined in the UNs Sustainable
Development Goal.

It was complemented in the Habitat III summit in Ecuador by a New Urban Agenda of giving slum
dwellers upgraded housing with basic services by 2030.

A common approach is to build higher quality, affordable housing for the poor on the citys periphery.

Same is the case with the PradhanMantriAwasYojana (PMAY), which aims to achieve Housing for all by 2022.

Yet there is 23% vacancy in urban housing built under the PMAY.

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Why slum dwellers reject new housing?

There is a pattern where people are willing to give up better living conditions like more space and toilets on
premises for better opportunities in the core areas.

The main reason is a lack of affordable housing finance.

Social Networks The new housing distances the one who relocates, from the family members who dont.

The credit ecosystem that existed based on trust, social relationship and nurtured for generations is also lost.

Slum dwellers give each other material and psychological support along with informal insurance that the state
does not provide.

Some of them do not move to the relocated areas as their livelihood is deeply rooted in these slums and the
new areas have poor accessibility and livelihood options are limited.

Intrinsic skills like zari making are related to specific markets. Relocation renders these skills redundant.

Slums in the core areas have better access to education and medical facilities.

The benefits of relocation only materialise among those relocated at an early age.

What is the solution?

The link between shelter and livelihood options should be understood.

The slum development should also promote affordable social infrastructure and mobility options to

The services and lives of the slum people need to be acknowledged and included in designing solutions,
through participatory negotiations and institutions.

Policies can be designed and tested to allow people to preserve their social networks even as they are

Greater investment should be made in collecting data on the preferences of poor migrants not just on interest

Also slums can be viewed as partial solutions to a bigger problem.

They represent a survival strategy in the face of insufficient affordable housing and lack of tenure security.

They blend production and distribution spaces along with living quarters. e.gBeedi work is done at home.

They demonstrate innovative shelters and efficient livelihood strategies, which form an important part of the
urban ecosystem.

3.10 Resettlement Fund for PoK refugees

Why in news?

The Centre will deposit Rs. 2,000 crore into the bank accounts of 36,000 Hindu refugees from Pakistan-occupied
Kashmir (PoK).

Who are PoK refugees?

The refugees from West Pakistan, mostly from PoK, settled in different areas of Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri

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However, they are not permanent residents of the state in terms of Jammu and Kashmir Constitution.

Some of the families were displaced during Partition in 1947, and others during the 1965 and 1971 wars with

The displaced people can cast their votes in LokSabha polls but not in the elections to Jammu and Kashmir

What is the current move?

Each PoK refugee would get Rs. 5.5 lakh and the Centre will bear the cost.

The west Pakistan refugees have been demanding a similar package for a long-time.

The resettlement fund will be disbursed once the figures and data of refugees are compiled.

The Home Ministry has sought bank account details of all the families from the State government as it intends to
transfer the money directly into their accounts instead of giving it to the State government.

This is for the first time that the Centre has allocated Rs.2,000crore for providing relief instead of setting up a
State-Centre committee first to examine their demands.

Jammu and Kashmir Sharanarthi Action Committee (JKSAC), an organisation representing the
displaced people of the PoK has been maintaining that the package should not be seen as final settlement as Rs
9,200 crore was required to settle all of them.

The central government has approved several concessions including special recruitment drives for induction into
paramilitary forces, equal employment opportunities in the state, admission for the children of refugees in
KendriyaVidyalayas, among others.

3.11 India to ratify ILOs convention

Why in news?

The Government of India decided to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 182 on the worst
forms of child labour and Convention 138 on Minimum Age of Employment.

What is the necessity?

About 4.3 million children are subjected to child labour.

Another 10 million are officially out-of-school.

Child labour perpetuates illiteracy and poverty. I

t is the root cause of organised crimes such as human trafficking, terror and drug mafia.

This decision will have a path-breaking impact on the lives of those who are forced to remain on the margins
of society and subject to exploitative conditions.

Moreover, our failure to ratify the two conventions, which are two of the eight core labour conventions, despite
being a founder-member of the ILO, reflected poorly on us as a nation.

What was the delay?

ILO Convention 138 says that the minimum age for employment should not be less than the age of completion
of compulsory schooling (14 years of age in India's case).

The ILO Convention 182 calls for the need to formulate legislation for prohibition and elimination of the worst
forms of child labour.

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We were not able to ratify these ILO conventions primarily because we had not banned all kinds of
occupations for kids below 14 years of age.

Since the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016 has been passed by Parliament
and prohibits employment of children up to 14 years of age, the ILO conventions can now be ratified.

Consequently, the Government of India decided to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) .

As a matter of urgency, the government will take immediate and effective measures to prohibit and eliminate
the worst forms of child labour, child slavery, child prostitution and their use in pornography, use of children
for illicit activities such as drug trafficking, and exposure to any hazardous work which is likely to harm the
health, safety or morals of children.

India will not adhere to a fixed deadline by which the worst forms of child labour must be eliminated.

It will ultimately depend on the level of moral courage, public concern, social empathy, political will and the
implementation of resources invested in the development and protection of children.

3.12 Corporate Social Responsibility in India

What is CSR?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) isreferred as a corporate initiative to assess and take responsibility for
the company's effects on the environment and impact on social welfare and to promote positive social and
environmental change.

It efforts that go beyond what may be required by regulators.

The income is earned only from the society and therefore it should be given back.

What is the legal mandate?

Under Companies Act, 2013 any company with a

1. net worth of the company to be Rs 500 crore or more or

2. turnover of the company to be Rs 1000 crore or more or

3. net profit of the company to be Rs 5 crore or more.

has to spend at least 2% of last 3 years average net profits on CSR activities as specified in Schedule VII and as
amended from time to time. The rules came into effect from 1 April 2014.

Further as per the CSR Rules, the provisions of CSR are not only applicable to Indian companies, but also
applicable to branch and project offices of a foreign company in India.

Further, the qualifying company will be required to constitute a CSR Committee consisting of 3 or more

The CSR Committee shall formulate and recommend to the Board, a policy which indicates the activities to be
undertaken, allocate resources and monitor the CSR Policy of the company.

India is the first country in the world to enshrine corporate giving into law.

How is it beneficial to companies?

Consumers are socially conscious - Many consumers actively seek out companies that support charitable
causes. Therefore CSR attracts customers.

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Competitive advantage - Businesses that show how they are more socially responsible than their
competitors tend to stand out.

Boosts employee morale -CSR practices have a significant impact on employee morale, as it reinforces his
confidence on Companys empathy.

What is the effect of legislation?

More spending - The private sectors combined charitable spend increased from 33.67bn rupees in 2013 to
around 250bn rupees after the laws enactment.

Mainstreaming Charity - It has brought CSR from the fringes to the boardroom. Companies now have to
think seriously about the resources, timelines and strategies needed to meet their legal obligations.

But it also has its shortcomings.

Non-compliance - A survey found that 52 of the countrys largest 100 companies failed to spend the
required 2% last year.

A smaller proportion has gone further to allegedly cheating by giving donations to charitable foundations that
then return the fund minus a commission.

Roll back - Charitable spending was used as a big reputation builder for family-led conglomerates with a long
tradition of philanthropy. Now its just about legal compliance. Many companies that were giving more than
2% have scaled back their spending.

Inequality - One of the challenges for the corporate sector is finding credible charity partners to support. So
the bigger charities that are more well-known are being flooded with money leaving out smaller charities.

Compounding the problem is that smaller charities often lack the capacity to cope with companies
bureaucratic and operational demands.

Geography - There is also a geographic bias under the 2% law, with companies funding projects closer to
where they are based. Therefore more industrialised states are winning over poorer, more remote regions
where development aid is acutely needed.

Politics - Some companies looking to gain goodwill by backing government-led projects rather than
independent initiatives.

What should be done?

What India needs is large-scale social innovation and systems change and mandatory spending achieves a
little in this direction.

It also deflects pressure on companies to change their business practices.

CSR should be more inclusive by which an organization should think about and evolve its relationships with
stakeholders for the common good, and demonstrate its commitment by adopting appropriate business
processes and strategies.

A set of national voluntary guidelines to spell out what responsible business should look like and set out that
CSR is more than just charitable giving should be formalised.

3.13 Corruption Perceptions Index

Why in news?

The Annual Index of Transparency International has placed India on the watch list for its inability to curb mega
corruption scandals and petty bribery.

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What is Transparency International (TI)?

Transparency International (TI) is an international non-governmental organization founded in 1993 and

based in Berlin, Germany.

The major aim of transparency international to take action to combat corruption and prevent criminal
activities arising from corruption

It publishes the Global Corruption Barometer and the Corruption Perceptions Index, Global Corruption
Report and Bribe Payers Index.

The corruption perception index was created in 1995.

The CPI defines corruption as the misuse of public power for private benefit.

It annually ranks the countries by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments
and opinion surveys.

How is the index compiled?

The index is compiled by using the data of the World Bank, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and other such

Countries are scored in a scale ranging from 0 to 100, 0 being highly corrupt and 100 very clean.

What are the highlights of CPI-2016?

This years results highlight the connection between corruption and inequality, which feed off each other to
create a vicious circle between corruption, unequal distribution of power in society, and unequal distribution
of wealth.

The Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 covers acuities of public sector corruption in 176 countries.

India position - India, sharing rank 79 with Belarus, Brazil and China, scored 40 out of 100. India has
marginally improved over last year's score of 38. However the rank slipped from 76 in 2015 to 79 in 2016. But
since eight more countries were evaluated in 2016 (176 countries) from previous 168 countries, the rank
cannot be taken as the judgment base.

The condition of India showed growth with inequality but the poor performance and the low score
echoes the country's inability to deal with petty and large scale corruption and scandals.

About 70% of the total 176 countries in the index are below the mid-point of the scale. The global average
score was a concerning 43, indicating rampant corruption in a country's public sector.

Countries with a lower score are estimated to be more corrupt, generally characterized by exemption for
corruption, weak institutions and poor governance.

The index also showed that majority of Asia Pacific countries were placed in the bottom half of the Corruption
Perceptions Index 2016.

Besides, 19 out of 30 countries in this region scored 40 or less out of 100.

The most corrupt countries - According to the Transparency International's index, Somalia, South Sudan,
North Korea and Syria are allegedly the most corrupt countries in the world. Somalia has held this position for
the past 10 years.

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The most non-corrupt countries - Denmark and New Zealand were tied in the first place as the world's
most non-corrupt countries with their spotless public sectors. Finland, Sweden and Switzerland are following
them in the list.

3.14 Three new additions to the vaccination basket

Why in news?

The basket of vaccines in Indias Universal ImmunisationProgramme (UIP) was static for many years until the
entry of the Pentavalent vaccine [Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hepatitis B, and Haemophilus B (HIB)], and
Japanese Encephalitis vaccines.

There have been regular additions to the basket since. Two new vaccines Measles-Rubella (MR) and
Pneumococcal Conjugate are lined up for launch in January and February respectively, and a
third,Rotavirus Vaccine, will become part of the UIP in 5 states from February.

What is rubella?

More commonly known as German Measles, Congenital Rubella Syndrome, or CRS, is believed to affect
about 25,000 children born in India every year.

Symptoms can include cataracts and deafness, and the disease can also affect the heart and the brain.

10-30% of adolescent females and 12-30% of women in the reproductive age-group are susceptible to rubella
infection in India.

The vaccine will be introduced in Goa, Karnataka, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu.

The Health Ministry will run a campaign among children aged 9 months to 15 years before making the vaccine a
part of routine immunisation. Two shots will be given one between the ages of 9-12 months, the other at age
one-and-a- half.

The monovalent measles vaccine is already part of the UIP basket of 10 vaccines; it will be discontinued once MR
is introduced.

What is Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV)?

PCV is a mix of several bacteria of the pneumococci family, which are known to cause pneumonia hence
conjugate in the name. Pneumonia caused by the pneumococcus bacteria is supposed to be the most common.

Pneumonia and diarrhoea have long been responsible for the most child deaths in India approximate estimates
say pneumonia is responsible for about 20% of under-5 child mortality in India, of which half are of
pneumococcal origin.

In 2008, the WHOs Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group reported that 5 countries in which 44% of the
worlds children aged less than 5 years live (India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Nigeria) contribute
more than half of all new pneumonia cases annually.

It estimated around 43 million pneumonia cases (23% of the global total) and an incidence of 0.37 episodes per
child-year for clinical pneumonia in India.

In Himachal Pradesh and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar from March 17. Three doses will be administered at
one-and-a-half months, three-and-a-half months and 9 months.

The annual incidence of severe pneumococcal pneumonia in India was estimated to be 4.8 episodes per 1,000
children younger than 5 years.

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The top five contributors to Indias pneumococcal pneumonia burden in terms of number of cases and deaths were
Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jharkhand.

What is Rotavirus?

Rotavirus infections are the most common cause of diarrhoea in children. The rotavirus vaccine first
became a part of UIP in April 2016.

An estimated 1 lakh children die every year of the disease.

The vaccine is currently being administered in HP, Haryana, Odisha and AP. From February, it will be a part of
UIP also in Assam, Tripura, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

3.15 Indias fight against Leprosy

What is the issue?

16 years ago, Leprosy was eliminated globally as a public health issue. But, Indias fight against leprosy is far from

The WHO asked South-East Asian countries, including India which accounted for 60% of such cases worldwide in
2015, to focus on preventing disabilities in children.

What are the facts?

According to WHO, leprosy affected 2,12,000 people globally in 2015. India alone reported 1,27,326 new
cases, accounting for 60% of new cases globally.

Of the new cases, 8.9% were children and 6.7% presented with visible deformities. The remaining 10,286 new
cases (5%) were reported by 92 countries. Thirty countries reported zero new cases.

Why it is an unacceptable number?

Though present numbers are a fraction of what was reported a decade ago, they are unacceptable, as an effective
treatment for leprosy multidrug therapy, or MDT has been available since the 1980s and can fully
cure leprosy.

Global statistics show that 94% of new cases were reported from 14 countries. Only 6% of new cases were
reported from the rest of the world.

India is among the 22 countries considered as having a high burden for leprosy along with high transmission by

How it spreads?

While the mode of transmission of leprosy is not known, the most widely held belief is that the disease
was transmitted by contact between those with leprosy and healthy persons.

More recently, the possibility of transmission by the respiratory route is gaining ground. There are also other
possibilities such as transmission through insects which cannot be completely ruled out.

In most parts of the world males are affected more frequently than females, often in the ratio of 2:1,
according to WHOs Global Leprosy Report.

What needs to be done?

World Leprosy Day is observed on the last Sunday of January since 1954.To effectively combat stigma, a multi-
sectoral approach is needed.

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Health authorities need to reach out to and include leprosy-affected persons and communities in their

Laws or regulations that sanction or abet discrimination against persons suffering from leprosy should be

A concert of voices should be mobilised to counter harmful social attitudes. NGOs and civil society organisations
should be included in campaigns to challenge leprosy-related stigma, and to address discrimination against
affected persons and their family members.

In 2016, WHO launched the Global Leprosy Strategy 20162020: Accelerating towards a leprosy-free
world, with the aim of reinvigorating efforts to control leprosy and avert disabilities, especially among children
still affected by the disease in endemic countries.

India, which is among the endemic countries, has been advised to include strategic interventions in national
plans to meet the new targets, such as screening all close contacts of persons affected by leprosy; promoting a
shorter and uniform treatment regimen, and incorporating specific interventions against stigmatisation and

4. February - 2017
4.1 Women Empowerment
Why in news?

The Women Reservation Bill occupied centre stage as Union Minister Urban Development Minister and Chief Minister
of AP supported reservation of one-third seats in LokSabha and State Assemblies for women in The National Women's
Parliament (NWP)

What is the NWP?

It is a three-day event being organised by Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly with the theme Empowering
women strengthening democracy.

Over 10,000 women delegates, including women MPs, MLAs and those who have excelled in different walks of
life from across the country and abroad, are attending the conclave.

What is the status of the bill?

Commonly known as the Women's Reservation Bill.

It was introduced by the UPA-I government in May 2008.

The Bill was passed in the RajyaSabha in 2010 but it lapsed following the dissolution of the 15th LokSabha.

What are the features of the then bill?

The Constitution (One Hundred and Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2008 seeks to reserve one-third of
all seats for women in the LokSabha and the state legislative assemblies.

The allocation of reserved seats shall be determined by such authority as prescribed by Parliament.

One third of the total number of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be reserved
for women of those groups in the LokSabha and the legislative assemblies.

Reserved seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the state or union territory.

Reservation of seats for women shall cease to exist 15 years after the commencement of this Amendment Act.

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What were the issues?

There are divergent views on the reservation policy. Proponents stress the necessity of affirmative action to
improve the condition of women.

Some recent studies on panchayats have shown the positive effect of reservation on empowerment of women
and on allocation of resources.

Opponents argue that it would perpetuate the unequal status of women since they would not be perceived to
be competing on merit.

They also contend that this policy diverts attention from the larger issues of electoral reform such as
criminalisation of politics and inner party democracy.

Reservation of seats in Parliament restricts choice of voters to women candidates. Therefore, some experts
have suggested alternate methods such as reservation in political parties and dual member constituencies.

Rotation of reserved constituencies in every election may reduce the incentive for an MP to work for his
constituency as he may be ineligible to seek re-election from that constituency.

The report examining the 1996 womens reservation Bill recommended that reservation be provided for
women of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) once the Constitution was amended to allow for reservation for

It also recommended that reservation be extended to the RajyaSabha and the Legislative Councils. Neither of
these recommendations has been incorporated in the Bill.

4.2 Health Care System for the Elderly

What is the issue?

India has a favorable demographic dividend but soon would be offset by rapid ageing of people at the top end of the

What could offset the gains of demographic dividend?

Demographic dividend (DD) occurs when the proportion of working people in the total population is high.

This indicates that more people have the potential to be productive and contribute to growth of the economy.

But this will eventually lead to approximately 20% of Indians being elderly by 2050.

This would be a dramatic jump from the current 6% level.

This is a cause of concern for policymakers as India already has the worlds second largest population of the
elderly i.e people above 60 years of age

This would increase demand for healthcare services and accommodation and there by generating enormous socio-
economic pressures.

What is the need to re-gear the health care system?

According to the National Sample Survey Organisations 2004 survey, nearly 3% of elderly were living alone, 9.3%
were living with their spouses and 35.6%.

However many among the younger generation are increasing nleft with less time, energy and willingness to care
for their parents, or simply emigrate abroad and are unable to do so.

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Therefore elders suffer abandonment by family, destitution, inability to access health care, low levels of
institutional support, loneliness and depression.

Also as the size of the elderly population expands, there will be a shift in the disease patterns from communicable
to non-communicable.

What should be done?

Even though the private sector is making available a variety of retirement communities across the country in
addition to innovations in healthcare delivery, still the elderly poor very much depend on the government
to come up with the resources and institutions to support their needs.

Several mature economies have created multiple models for elder care, such as universal health insurance,
networks of nursing homes etc.,

India should also adopt such a system.

The advocacy and information campaigns shoul be to redirect social attitudes toward ageing.

The health-care system should be regeared toward preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative aspects of

4.3 Over-Medicalization

What was the issue?

More hospitals are abandoning the traditional natural birth method by encouraging women to undergo surgical
deliveries instead.

What is over-medicalization?

Obstetrician involvement and unnecessary medical interventions in normal childbirth, without evidence of
effectiveness, is called Over-Medicalization of childbirth.

The problem of over-medicalization has been generally associated with high-income countries where there is
the prevalence of private institutions.

But now it is rapidly becoming more common in low and middle-income countries, also increasing the health
costs and the risk of harm.

What are the risks of Caesarean delivery?

Hospitals push women to have Caesareans since they are far costlier than natural births costing at least Rs

At times, its not the healthcare industry to be blamed entirely.

There are patients who want their child to be born on a particular date, because it is auspicious. Others wish to
avoid the pain of undergoing a natural birth.

Caesareans are also likely to cause more infections and certain disorders, which include blood
clotting, obstruction in bowel movements, bladder infection, and, in severe cases, even hemorrhage.

It also increases the chances of mothers spiraling into post-partum depression and other post-traumatic

New-born are also subject to life-threatening risks.

There is a possibility that they could get hurt, cut or suffocated during the procedure.

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When the child grows older, there are greater chances of him/her suffering from obesity or respiratory
disorders like asthma as well.

Experts claim that natural birth ensures a quicker recovery for mothers, and it gives newborns a family of
microbes which strengthen their immunity.

What is the statistics on the issue?

A report published by the ICMR School of Public Health states thst in the last decade, Telengana showed
74.8% of surgical deliveries in the private sector, Tamil Nadu showed 58% caesarean deliveries, while Kerala
showed 41%.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the optimal caesarean birthrate should be at a
minimum, not exceeding 10-15% of the overall deliveries that take place in a country.

Childbirth is a traumatic experience.

In the throes of pain, an uninformed woman will be convinced to have a surgical delivery, if her physician
plants the idea.

In high stress situations, even a mere suggestion does the trick.

It is the responsibility of the parents to be well-versed in the options available to them in order to make
informed choices.

For all reasons and purposes, natural birth is recommended.

Regardless of everything, its important that hospitals declare the number of Caesarean births that take place
that a stop can be put on unnecessary caesareans.

4.4 Implementation of RTE Act

Why in news?

A recent study analysed cases in the High Courts and the Supreme Court from 2010 to 2015, which directly affected
rights of a child under the RTE Act.

What is the issue?

The RTE Act has been considered to be a landmark legislation that seeks to realise the fundamental right to
education for all children in the age group of 6-14 years.

But even after eight years the implementation of RTE Act has suffered due to official apathy.

Therefore judiciary has stepped into a governance vacuum.

What are the indicators of poor implementation?

Many schools in the country continue to lack adequate drinking water facilities, playgrounds or the necessary
infrastructure prescribed by the Act.

Cases of corporal punishment that are banned under the RTE Act are still being reported.

Learning outcomes have been found to be very low.

Other issue include lack of clarity on if all unaided private schools and some specified government schools are
prohibited from conducting admission tests/interviews or not.

Also many private schools continue to charge donations from children.

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Bureaucratic apathy and weak institutional mechanisms are some factors that have contributed to this.

What are the findings of the study?

The study suggests that some provisions of the Act are more litigated than the others.

Access to education - 49% of the cases on the RTE Act have dealt with questions of access to education.

This may be because issues such as denial of admission, fixing age-limits for admission to a particular class,
transfer of students from one school to another, and conducting screening tests at the time of admission, are
urgent in nature.

Section 12 - 24% of the cases exclusively refer to Section 12(1)(c) of the Act,

This mandates all non-minority, unaided private schools to reserve 25% seats for children belonging to
economically weaker sections and disadvantaged groups.

The cases in the section are due to issues like denial of admission by private schools, delayed reimbursement
by State governments to private schools, ambiguity over definitions of economically weaker sections and
disadvantaged groups.

Other issues included the applicability of the RTE Act to minority schools, applicability of the no-detention
policy to private schools, and the definition of neighbourhood for admission into neighbourhood schools.

11% are related to provisions mandating basic facilities and adequate infrastructure in schools.

Only 5% of the cases are related to the facilities for disabled students prescribed under the Act.

What are the limitations of the judiciary?

Fewer litigations over infrastructural norms and availability of qualified teachers as required under the RTE
Act does not necessarily imply that these norms are better implemented than the others.

They may also not be a high priority for litigants who are generally individual parents.

Provisions on banning corporal punishment and prescription of pupil-teacher ratio in classrooms have not
been contested at all, in spite of anecdotal evidence and news reports.

Courts are usually demand-driven and give priority to issues that are brought forward by litigants. Hence
many provisions of the RTE Act remain under-enforced.

Many of the disputes are related to district/State-wise implementation of the Act.

Therefore courts could not focus on long-term reliefs involving systemic reform.

Only in few cases, the courts have formulated monitoring mechanisms to ensure timely implementation of
their orders.

What should be done?

Grievance redressal - Awareness of the act should be built and grievance redressal mechanisms under the
RTE Act should be strengthened.

This can save litigation costs and diminish barriers of rights to education.

Strategic litigation across High Courts should also be explored, for pushing implementation of the RTE Act by
state governments.

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Civil Societies - More efforts by civil society organisations will be useful in getting targeted judicial orders
for the effective implementation of the Act.

Executive - They should strengthen education delivery mechanisms and summon necessary political will to
implement Act.

Meanwhile, the judiciary should continue to play a significant role in enforcing the RTE Act to hold
governments accountable and ensure the Acts enforcement.

4.5 Assessing Students on International Standard

Why in news?

The Ministry of Human Resource Development decided to re-enter the Programme for International Student
Assessment (PISA).

What is PISA?

Programme for International Student Assessment PISA is a global evaluation of 15-year-olds conducted by the
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development to test mathematical, scientific and
reading skills of school students.

A major goal of PISA is to untangle the factors that are associated with educational outcomes and to guide
governments in constructing policies that improve these outcomes.

During the UPA government, India had quit the test, complaining about questions being set out of context in
relation to the Indian socio-cultural background.

Is PISA out of Indian context?

Indian student may find it more comfortable to do sums using mangoes rather than avocados for units.

But it is to be understood that the context of math and science is the universe and its contents.

But Shanghais students succeeded in test involving European motifs.

This suggests that the problem lies in India.

Why PISA can be significant?

India lost out by boycotting PISA in 2012 and 2015, when Asian countries like China, South Korea and
Singapore surged ahead.

It should be understood that PISA is not a contest.

It is a research exercise generating data which can be compared across borders.

Finishing last should be seen as an opportunity to improve teaching methods and school systems by intelligent

As result of this, International Standards can be adopted by Indian school boards for betterment.

It is also a reliable indicator of the future intellectual capital of participating countries.

It is a function of projected GDP, a reflection of the future wealth of nations.

A country hoping to win the global GDP race should regard PISA as a target.

The present government has done well to seek to return to PISAs global testing system.

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But the crucial reform still lies ahead.

PISA data must be used to improve the structural imbalance and the school system.

4.6 Solutions to Open Defecation Problem

What is pit emptying?

A pit latrine is a type of toilet that collects human feces in a hole in the ground.

When the latrine pit is full, the toilet is no longer usable.

The emptying can either be done manually with shovels and buckets or with motorized pumps.

Why Indians dont want to use pit latrines?

As these latrines require periodic manual pit emptying, most of the rural Indians dont want to use pit latrines.

They are afraid of the problems they will face when the pit fills up.

For this reason, they build a very large pit that would take decades to fill up.

But, latrines with very large pits are expensive. So, most rural families couldnt afford them and they opt for open

What is the governments response?

Governments solution to the problem of pit emptying is to promote affordable latrines with two pits.

The two-pit latrine design is a technical and biological solution to the problems of open defecation and manual

Having a second pit would allow the contents of a first pit to decompose before being emptied.

According to the Prohibition of Manual Scavenging Act, emptying human waste that has decomposed in a latrine
pit is not manual scavenging, and therefore, it is not illegal.

Also some politicians wanted to shame and embarrass people who defecate out in open, as it would force them to
use the toilets.

What is the problem associated with the responses?

The two-pit latrine design does not address the social consequences associated with pit emptying.

Families in rural areas dont want to empty a decomposed pit by hand as emptying even a decomposed pit is
considered as ritually polluting and would cause them to become outcaste.

The solution of shaming people is a double-edged sword, because it would make people to feel that they are

What is the solution to the problem?

It is difficult to get people to change life-long habits. It is a change to their daily routine and social status.

We need to disrupt peoples existing behaviour by using powerful motives. But we also want people to have
emotional reasons to build and use toilets.

Recently, Secretary of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, emptied the decomposed waste from a twin-
pit latrine in Warangal district.

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His action deserves praise because he identified the problem of pit emptying must become central to Indias efforts
to eliminate open defecation.

This effort must not stop and demonstrations must be done from celebrities to village leaders across the country.

So the real challenge lies at effort to change peoples minds on how about and where to defecate, who can empty
latrine pits, and ultimately, how Dalits should be treated.

4.7 Reluctance to become a Good Samaritan

Why in news?

An 18-year-old was caught under the rear wheel of a State transport bus in Koppal, Karnataka. He was badly injured
and was crying for help. None helped till an ambulance came and took the victim to hospital and the doctors could not
save him.

Why people are reluctant to act?

The Law Commission of India observes that 50% of those killed in road accidents could have been saved had
timely assistance been rendered to them.

Yet when an accident occurs, people are reluctant to help due to following reasons.

Hospital procedures - People fear that they would be made to pay admission costs in a hospital or detained
there for long hours.

Police Harrasment - The consequences of involvement cant be predicted or controlled.

The police dont always convey a sense of security to the common citizen. The person helps is ofter
subjected to the same ruthlessness that the perpetrator might deserve.

Crowd mentality - People gather to watch as there will always be more to see. Even the lone individual who
wants to take the initiative also loses the instinct to do so, once the crowd gathers, since they discourage
individuality. The pressure to behave like everybody else greatly increases.

Mobile phones - The idea of taking a picture creates the satisfaction of doing something. The fact of sending a
picture that spreads across the country liberates a person from the torment of not doing anything. By creating a
distance between the viewer and the object, the camera phone neutralises the horror of seeing someone screaming
in pain and thereby it mitigates the guilt.

What are the legal protections available?

Parliament has not enacted such a law.

But the Centre has notified guidelines for the protection of those who help accident victims and the SC
approved it.

In January 2016, a Standard Operating Procedure to make these guidelines work was introduced.

Now, the Union Road Transport Ministry has added a significant clause under which a Good Samaritans
affidavit will have the legal force of a statement.

The guidelines say that if a statement is required, it should be recorded in a single examination.

The police should not compel them to disclose their particulars or to be witnesses.

The Union Health Ministry directed hospitals that they should not detain those who bring accident victims for
admission. They should not be required to pay for.

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Has the good samaritan law instilled confidence?

Karnataka has a Good Samaritan law that protects the kind-hearted citizen helping an accident victim from
police harassment.

The enactment of this law marks a step towards change in onlooker behaviour as it acknowledges source of fear.

The mere enactment was not enough to create the confidence to act in a scene, like the one witnessed in

What should be done?

Only a few State governments have adopted the Good Samaritan guidelines. All States must get actively involved
in their implementation.

Also it will take sometime for people to feel secure under good samaritan law provisions and therefore these law
should be heavly advertised.

Any law that attempts to change peoples perception of a state agency demands a parallel change in the
behaviour of the agency (police) itself.

Police should publicise the names of many Good Samaritans over the coming years to make an impact on the
public to get rid of its insecurity and apprehensions.

As the education system was blamed in the incident, the administrators and political leaders dont appreciate what
it takes to make education an experience that has the potential to create self-awareness and

4.8 Gated Communities

What are Gated communities?

The term gated community refers to any type of neighborhood that has controlled access using one or more gate
that residents or visitors must pass through.

The trend for such dwellings picked up in southern California in the 1960s.

Why these communities flourished?

Their most remarkable growth is seen in countries like India, Brazil and Mexico, where they have grown manifold
mainly because of a lack of confidence in law enforcement.

As the middle class grew more disappointed with the states ability to assure personal safety and basic utilities, it
ran into property developers, who offered walled residences.

Fear of crime and the outsider have always been the fundamental reasons for people moving into gated

Why gated communities are not the solution?

In India, there are frequent reports about criminals who easily breach the porous security of a gated complex.

Eventually, every gated community dweller must engage with the city. To stop keep looking over our shoulders,
our streets and public transport need to be safe.

Also, in the gated communities, all the action happens within the gates. If the wall wasnt there, life would be
conducted outside and therefore, greater social surveillance against petty crimes.

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Gated communities also promotes a general feeling of social paranoia, implying that other parts of the area
are unsafe and the gated community is necessary to protect residents.

Thus, the tall gates of the complex represents the separation of us and them (poor people who are living outside),
thereby, laying the basis for more crime.

These communities may have made some people more secure, but hiding ourselves in private enclaves cannot be a
solution to our unsafe cities.

4.9 Demanding ST Status - Narikuravars

What is the issue?

The Constitution ensures certain protection and benefits for communities deemed as having Scheduled Tribe
(ST) status.

Social and political mobilisation has led to the increase of number of STs 225 in 1960 to 700 today.

As the number of communities demanding ST status expands, it brings the criteria of the recognition and the
legitimacy of the process under scrutiny.

What does the constitution say?

The Constitution only states that STs are specified by the President after consultation with the Governor.

It does not define or specify a particular criterion.

According to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the criterion includes

1. Indication of primitive traits,

2. Distinctive culture,

3. Geographical isolation,

4. Shyness of connect with the community at large &

5. Backwardness

Who are Narikuravars?

Many communities try to prove themselves as meeting the criteria, to avail of the benefits of being accorded
ST status.

One such group is Narikuravar.

They are a semi-nomadic tribe, originating in Northern India before migrating south to Tamil Nadu.

They share religious, cultural, and political characteristics with many of the Roma groups in Europe.

Traditionally hunters, they were mostly providing security for kings.

However, once invaders took over they became nomadic and retreated into forests, where they preserved their

When hunting became illegal, they started living at the margins of the society in dire poverty, making and
selling small ornaments.

What is their present socio-economic status?

It has high levels of illiteracy, multiple health challenges, and unemployment.

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Currently, there are about 8,500 Narikuravar families in Tamil Nadu i.e less than 1% of their population.

The government classifies them as a Most Backward Class community.

Such a classification leads to the assumption that they have a higher chance of being above the poverty line
than communities recognised as STs.

Due to this classification, they have been competing for access to government benefits with nineteen other
larger communities with higher socio-economic status.

Do they satisfy the criteria for STs?

Their nomadism across rural and urban areas is against the criteria of geographical isolation.

Narikuravar sell their products to the community at large. So they might not display shyness of connect.

But since these criteria are not explicit, it is difficult for the community to formulate clear political demands.

What does it signify?

The betterment of obviously disadvantaged groups like Narikuravar rests on discretionary political acts.

This is because there is no well-developed, transparent criterion and a clear definition of what makes groups
eligible for ST status.

Such criteria with specific economic and social data should be developed.

It can help compare communities requesting ST status with other STs and to the Indian population at large.

4.10 Babri Masjid issue

Why in news?

Chief Justice of India said the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suits were a matter of sentiments and religion
that were best resolved amicably, preferably without intervention by the courts.

What the CJI has said?

In 2010, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court directed that the site occupied by the Babri Masjid
before its demolition should be divided three ways equally among Muslims, Hindus and NirmohiAkhara
group of Hindu Sadhus.

Recently a three-judge bench heard a petition by a BJP MP challenging the 2010 ruling to split the disputed land.

The Supreme Court suggested an out-of-court settlement since its a matter of religion and sentiments.

CJI said the court will ask any person to mediate who is acceptable to all sides.

However, at least 5 earlier attempts at resolving the decades-old quarrel through negotiations have not been

Whats the dispute?

It is about a plot measuring 2.77 acres in Ayodhya that houses the Babri mosque and Ram Janmabhoomi.

This land is considered sacred among Hindus as it is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram.

Muslims argue that the land houses Babri mosque, where they had offered prayers for years before the dispute

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The controversy is over whether the Babri mosque was built on top of a Ram temple after demolishing or
modifying it in the 16th century.

Muslims, on the other hand, say the mosque was built by Mir Baqi in 1528 and that Hindus took control
over it in 1949, when some people placed idols of Lord Ram inside the mosque

What are some of the important incidents happened?

In 1853, he first recorded incident of violence over the holy site takes place during the reign of NawabWajid
Ali Shah of Awadh.

In 1984, Hindu groups form a committee to spearhead the construction of the Ram temple at the Janmabhoomi

In 1990, Volunteers of the VHP partially damage the mosque. The then PM intervenes and tries to resolve the
issue through negotiations, but these fail.

On 6 December 1992, a large crowd of Hindu karsevaks (volunteers) demolished the 16th-century Babri
Mosque in the city of Ayodhya. The demolition occurred after a political rally at the site turned violent.

This leads to some of the most deadliest riots across the country, leading to the deaths of more than 2,000 people.

The central government, headed by P V NarasimhaRao, sets up a commission of enquiry under Justice M S
Liberhan on December 16.

The High Court orders the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to excavate the site to determine if it was
earlier a temple.

The ASI begins the survey to determine whether a temple existed on the site.

It finds evidence of the presence of a temple under the mosque. Muslim organisations dispute the findings.

In 2010, the Allahabad High Court pronounces its judgment on the four title suits relating to the dispute and said
that the disputed land be divided into three parts equally.

4.11 Maternity Benefit Bill

Why in news?

LokSabha recently passed The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

What are the salient features of the bill?

The bill to amend the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961.

It increases the paid maternity leave for pregnant women working in the organised sector from 12 weeks to 26

The 26 weeks of leave will be for the first two pregnancies.

For the third child, it will be of 12 weeks and 6 weeks for the fourth.

It allows 12 weeks of paid maternity leave to mothers who are adopting a child below the age of three months
and also to commissioning mothers who opt for surrogacy.

It mandates employers to allow a woman to work from home.

Organisations which employ more than 30 women (or 50 people, whichever is less) will now have to provide a

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The mother is allowed to visit the crche four times during the day.

What are the positives?

The enhancement of paid maternity leave for women is a progressive step.

India is in third place, only Canada and Norway, in the level of maternity benefits such as paid time off work
extended to women.

The amendment is in line with several expert recommendations including that of the World Health
Organisation, which recommends exclusive breastfeeding of children for the first 24 weeks.

Giving benefits to adoptive mothers as well as women who get children using embryo transfers signals India is
in step with social changes.

What are the shortcomings?

The amended law covers only women in the organised work sector i.e only 1.8 million women, a small subset
of women in the workforce.

It ignores roughly 90% of the Indian women who are employed in the unorganised sector i.e shops, small
service providers and cottage industries, in households as domestic helps etc.

The only support available to them is a small conditional cash benefit of 6,000 during pregnancy and
lactation offered under the Maternity Benefit Programme.

The Bill excludes paternity leave. Therefore the benefit burden may discourage employers to hire women.

Demands for inclusion of a non-discrimination clause in the bill were also made to ensure that no person is
discriminated against for having availed any parental benefits.

What is the present condition of women in India?

India lags far behind when it comes to maternal and infant mortality indicators.

Every third woman in the country is undernourished and every second woman is anaemic.

An undernourished woman is most likely to give birth to a low-weight baby.

The UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2014 states that India recorded the highest number of
maternal deaths, and accounted for 17% of global deaths due to pregnancy and childbirth-related

The Infant Mortality Rate is 40 per 1,000 live births.

As per UNDPs Human Development Report 2015, women clock 297 minutes of unpaid work daily, compared
to just 31 minutes for men.

What should be done?

The income guarantees during the 26-week period should be ensured through a universal social insurance

Such a policy would harmonise the varying maternity benefit provisions found in different laws that govern
labour at present.

Paternity leave should be included to stop discrimination against women in recruitment by employers who
currently have to factor in benefit payments.

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Attitudinal change is also critical. Apart from not paying full benefits, many employers in corporate sector
avoid appointing women in critical functions out of unwillingness to cope with womens life cycle changes,
even seeking undertakings on avoiding pregnancy.

Also the effectiveness of the revised Maternity Benefit Act depends on its proper implementation.

4.12 Mental Healthcare Bill

Why in news?

The Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016 was recently passed by Parliament.

What are the provisions of the bill?

Definition - It defines mental illness as a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or
memory that grossly impairs judgment, behaviour, capacity to recognise reality or ability to meet the ordinary
demands of life.

It also includes mental conditions associated with the abuse of alcohol and drugs.

It does not include mental retardation which is a condition of arrested or incomplete development of
mind of a person, characterised by sub-normality of intelligence.

Rights - It ensures every person shall have a right to access mental health care and treatment from mental
health services run or funded by the appropriate government.

It assures free treatment for homeless or people Below Poverty Line, even if they do not possess a BPL card.

It ensure right to live with dignity and there shall be no discrimination on any basis including gender, sex,
sexual orientation, religion, culture, caste, social or political beliefs, class or disability.

A person with mental illness shall have the right to confidentiality in respect of his mental health.

Advance Directive - A person with mental illness shall have the right to make an advance directive i.e how
he wants to be treated for the illness and who his nominated representative shall be.

This should be certified by a medical practitioner.

If a mental health professional/ relative/care-giver do not wish to follow the directive, he can make an
application to the Mental Health Board to review the advance directive.

Mental Health Authority - The Bill empowers the government to set-up Mental Health Authority at
national and state levels.

Every mental health institute and mental health practitioners will have to be registered with this Authority.

A Mental Health Review Board will be constituted to protect the rights of persons with mental illness and
manage advance directives.

Mode of treatment - A medical practitioner shall not be held liable for any unforeseen consequences on
following a valid advance directive.

A person with mental illness shall not be subjected to electro-convulsive therapy without the use of muscle
relaxants and anaesthesia.

Also, electro-convulsive therapy will not be performed for minors.

Sterilisation will not be performed on such persons.

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They shall not be chained under any circumstances.

They shall not be subjected to seclusion or solitary confinement.

Physical restraint may only be used, if necessary.

Suicide - A person who attempts suicide shall be presumed to be suffering from mental illness at that time
and will not be punished under IPC.

The government shall have a duty to provide care, treatment and rehabilitation to a person, having severe
stress and who attempted to commit suicide, to reduce the risk of recurrence of attempt to commit suicide.

4.13 The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill

What is Surrogacy?

When an another woman carries and gives birth to a child for a couple who want to have a baby but are unable to do
so, because of infertility or some other problem, it is called surrogacy. This has been in the grey legal area in India.

What is the need for the bill?

In 2002, India became the first country to legalise commercial surrogacy.

By 2012, India had become the surrogacy capital of the world with surrogacy tourism valued at approximately
$500 million annually.

Surrogate motherspractice it as a way of earning livelihood and are often abused.

Legal issues also emerge

e.g In 2008, a Japanese couple began the process with a surrogate mother in Gujarat, but before the child was
born they split and there were no takers for the child.

In 2012, an Australian couple commissioned a surrogate mother, and arbitrarily chose one of the twins that
was born.

So the 228th report of the Law Commission of India recommended prohibiting commercial surrogacy.

What is the aim of the bill?

It aims to prevent exploitation of women, especially those in rural and tribal areas.

It prohibits couples who already have biological or adopted children from commissioning babies through

It ensures parentage of children born out of surrogacy is legal and transparent.

What are the features of the Bill?

The bill was introduced in LokSabha in November 2016.

It bans commercial surrogacy.

Commercial surrogacy will result in a jail term of at least 10 years and a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh.

The commissioning couples should be Indians, should have been married for at least five years and should
have proven infertility are candidates.

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Only a married blood relative to the commission parents can be a surrogate mother. She must have herself
borne a child, and should not be a NRI or a foreigner,

Under no circumstances money shall be paid to her, except for medical expenses.

She can be a surrogate only once in her lifetime.

Overseas Indians, foreigners, unmarried couples, single parents, live-in partners and gay couples are barred
from commissioning the services of surrogate mothers.

In essence, the Bill limits the practice of surrogacy to heterosexual Indian couples who have been married for
five years, have no children, and are able to persuade a relative to become a surrogate altruistically for them.

The Bill will apply to the whole of India, except Jammu and Kashmir.

What are the shortcomings?

Disqualifying on the basis of nationality, marital status, sexual orientation or age, is against the right to

The right to life includes the right to reproductive and right to parenthood. So the state should not decide
the modes of parenthood

Sudden interruption would just push the $400 million industry underground. Thus the very purpose of the
bill- to protect surrogate mothers from exploitation would be defeated.

Fertility specialists and attached business would suffer.

Commissioning mothers, who are carrying a child, would be left in a limbo.

Restricting only a blood relative to be a surrogate mother is illogical and unreasonable.

4.14 Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act

Why in news?

The Supreme Court recently declined a womans plea to abort her 26-week-old foetus detected with Downs

What was the courts rationale?

It was contended that the congenital abnormality found in the womans foetus and the womans anguish about the
future were the reasons for her decision of abortion.

It was also argued that it was the womans constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy.

The court refused permission by calling the foetus a life.

It cited that the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971 places a 20-week ceiling on termination of

What is MTP Act, 1971?

Abortion in India is legal only up to twenty weeks of pregnancy under specific conditions and situations.

One, the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury of
physical or mental health, or

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Two, there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental
abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.

Was the law challenged on any other occasion?

On 2015, a 14-year-old rape victim sought and received permission from the Supreme Court to abort after the 20
weeks deadline had passed.

Her petition was treated as a special case, meaning it could not be used as a precedent.

On January 2017, the Judges had relaxed the 20-week cap to permit another woman to terminate her 24-week

In that case the foetus was diagnosed with anencephaly a congenital defect in which the baby is born without
parts of the brain and skull.

The court had said that the abortion was necessary to preserve the womans life.

In the case of the foetus with Downs Syndrome, the court said the foetus posed no danger to the womans life.

What the draft MPT bill 2014 provides?

The draft MTP increased the legal limit for abortion from 20 weeks to 24 weeks.

It provides for abortion beyond 24 weeks under defined conditions.

The Bill amends Section 3 of the 1971 Act to provide that the length of pregnancy shall not apply in a decision to
abort a foetus diagnosed with substantial foetal abnormalities or if it is alleged by the pregnant woman to have
been caused by rape.

It also takes into account the reality of a massive shortage of both doctors and trained midwives, and seeks to
allow Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha practitioners to carry out abortions.

Why is it essential to change the MTP law?

Foetal abnormalities show up only by 18 weeks, so just a two-week window after that is too small for the
would-be parents to take the difficult call on whether to keep their baby.

Even for the medical practitioner, this window is too small to exhaust all possible options before advising the

There is an urgentneed to empower women with sexual rights, legal protrction against sex crimes and sex choices
both in their own interest and for the sake of reducing the fertility rate as a whole.

The lack of legal approval moves abortion to underground and they are done in unhygienic conditions by
untrained proffessionals.

4.15 SDMCs Order

Why in news?

South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) made it mandatory for all hotels and restaurants in its jurisdiction to give
full access to the general public to their toilet facilities.

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What the order has said?

The move is part of a soon-to-be national campaign to make more toilet facilities available to the public,
with special focus on women and children.

The broad ideas are hygiene and security.

The suggestion came from Delhi Lieutenant Governor who urged SDMC to explore the possibility.

Restaurant managements have been given the discretion to charge up to Rs 5 per use of their toilets.

SDMC claims that as a result of the initiative, an additional 3,500 toilets will be accessible to the public.

What is the reaction of the public?

Many have complained of an undermining of their rights of admission.

Others have pointed out that it is insensitive to deny access to an individual who needs to use the

Both sides agree that the proposed Rs 5 charge to ostensibly cover costs of maintenance and cleaning.

What is the need for such a decision?

The corporation maintains that because restaurants get health trade licences from the corporation, they are
bound to follow its orders.

While on paper, the SDMC has 600 urinals and roughly 400 toilet complexes in its jurisdiction, most of
them are unusable.

Maintenance of the SDMCs public facilities is poor because the corporation does not have jetting machines
that spray water at high pressure to clean the toilets.

So, in the light of the SDMC order, it is pertinent to consider, the state of its existing public utilities also.

Why it is not a proper solution?

It is just a quick fix solution.

It did not look into the full system, including the availability of toilets, water for flushing, the sewerage
network, sewage treatment and provisions for discharge of the treated sewage into waterbodies.

Instead of outlining a programme incorporating these elements, the problem is trivialised by shifting attention

Health and Sanitation should be provided the government and the private restaurants cannot be forced to
open their toilets to the public.

It is not a solution round the clock.

What could be done?

The solution lies in building more public toilets and ensuring they are properly maintained and
financially sustainable.

Most public toilets are single-storey buildings; they could easily have another floor of toilets, thereby doubling
the capacity without any need for additional land.

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Another possible approach for the SDMC would be to use public-private partnership, not only to build
toilets, but provide and/or fix the different links in the supply chain of managing and disposing waste.

Sewage treatment plants can also be built on land leased by the government and capital invested by the
private sector.

4.16 Banning Cow Slaughter

Why in news?

The Uttar Pradesh government is undertaking a crackdown on buffalo slaughterhouses, meat processing plants and
retail outlets in the state, including the legal ones.

What are the cons of meat production?

Apart from the religious sentiments being hurt, meat production is also detrimental to the environment.

Agriculture contributes roughly 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions and half of this comes from meat

An estimated 30% of the worlds land not covered with ice is used to grow food for livestock, leaving a huge
footprint in terms of land and water consumption.

Eating around 100g of meat per day per person results in emitting about 7.2 kg of CO2 per day as compared to
2.9 kg of CO2 emitted by vegan diets.

What are the necessities for slaughter houses?

Freedom - India is a secular nation and the culture of eating food differs across communities, regions and
religions. Hence this cannot be infringed upon.

Economy of Farmers - The cow has been traditional used for ploughing, drawing water from wells for
irrigation, threshing grain and pulling carts.

Due to modernisation most of these activities became redundant

So the farmer today rears cattle and buffaloes essentially for milk.

The viability of milk production depends on maintaining only high-milking animals.

But it is not possible if there is no mechanism available for disposal of unproductive animals.

It costs about Rs 70,000 per animal per year to be fed properly and looked after.

A small farmer cannot afford to spend such an amount on unproductive animals.

The reason for increase in Buffalo population by 61% between 1997 and 2012 and the maintaining of female
buffaloes at the rate of 82% of its total population is due to the availability of an avenue for disposal in the
form of slaughterhouses.

The current environment of closing down abattoirs and so-called unlicensed meat shops discourage dairy

This could eventually hit the countrys milk production and force reliance on imports.

Nutrition - Beef is a cheap source of protein for a large number of people, hence critical for their nutritional

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4.17 Ban on Liquor Vends

Why in news?

The Supreme Court ordered to remove liquor vends located within 500 m distance of national, State highways,
associated roads and service lanes.

What was the order?

The licences of liquor shops across the highways will not be renewed after March 31, 2017.

The judgment ordered that the prohibition on sale of liquor alongside highways would extend to stretches of
such highways that fall within limits of municipal corporations, city towns and local authorities.

The ban also extends to bars, pubs and restaurants located on highways.

It also prohibits signage and advertising of availability of liquor on highways.

No shop for sale of liquor should be visible from the National and State highways and noted that the visibility
is the first temptation.

What was the courts rationale?

The order is intended to prevent drunk driving.

1.5 lakh fatalities happen annually in road accidents and about 10% deaths were caused because of driving
under the influence of alcohol.

The court said revenue generation could not be a valid reason for a state or a Union Territory to give licence
for liquor shops on highways.

India being a signatory to the Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety, it is imperative that policy guidelines
are framed to control road accidents.

Is the freedom of choice compromised?

The judgement infringes on individuals right to decide with their own free will.

But alcohol influences the brain and compromises its ability to make a reasoned choice.

Moreover, there is third party damage.

Those around the abusers like wives, children, neighbours, those walking or driving on the streets, the poor
sleeping on footpaths are at grievous risk.

Therefore the issue is not simply about the freedom of choice of drinkers.

It is also the freedom of life, safety and dignity, of family income and the productivity of other people.

Whether prohibition is effective?

According to WHO, the annual per adult consumption of absolute alcohol in India is 4,000 ml.

It is 100 ml in Pakistan and 200 ml in Bangladesh.

In the predominantly Buddhist Myanmar and Bhutan, it is 700 ml.

It is less than 1,000 ml in 26 countries where governments and culture have taken an anti-alcohol view.

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So culture does influence peoples behaviour, especially when the government also holds a similar view.

Most religions in India prohibit drinking. If government policy and efforts complement this cultural factor,
lessening the present alcohol consumption is possible.

Alcohol consumption might never become zero.

So the initial focus of prohibition should be towards reducing alcohol consumption.

What are the shortcomings?

It will not stop the availability of liquor. One can always buy it beforehand.

The order does not exempt outlets in cities and towns, where most of the consumers are local residents.

The move halves the countrys excise revenues from alcohol from current levels of Rs.12,000crore per annum.

States could lose Rs.50,000crore in overall tax revenues. Maharashtra is expected to be the worst-hit.

Retail outlets can perhaps move another 500 m with minimal expense and no great loss of clientele but
established hotels and clubs does not enjoy such luxury.

Smaller administrative units like Puducherry will find relocation of many shops impossible, as they are caught
between the highway and the sea.

Goa, a small State that depends heavily on tourism, is in a similarly difficult situation.

The relaxation of the liquor-free zone from 500 m to 220 m from the highways in the case of areas with a
population of 20,000 or less might only partly address their concerns.

Even if less than 5% of the jobs in the travel and tourism sector are affected, it could amount to 1.5 million

The ban will also hurt the many small businesses which survive around the bars and restaurants.

It is neither easy nor perhaps even desirable for bars to move away from the highways into residential

What should be done?

There are better ways of dealing with drunken driving starting like stricter enforcement of current laws,
tougher and more frequent policing, and stiffer consequences, like deterrent fines and loss of driving

A zero tolerance approach to drunk driving has shown positive results wherever it has been enforced
adequately, such as in Mumbai.

4.18 Moral Policing - Anti-Romeo Squads

Why in news?

The setting up of anti-Romeo squads was one of the election promises in Uttar Pradesh.

What is the purpose of these squads?

They were meant to curtail eve-teasing and provide greater security to women.

It is aimed at taking action against boys who are found outside girls colleges, and are involved in eveteasing
and molesting girl students

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But couples were stopped just for being spotted together, though the squad admittedly had no legal
jurisdiction to stop them.

Why it is bad?

If the police cant tell the difference between molesters and amicable couples, the squads disperse humiliation,
extortion and violence on innocent young people in public places.

It violates citizens rights and dignity

It brings back medieval repressions especially at a time when walls between the genders are breaking.

They make it unsafe for women to step out with men of their choice, inhibit families and foist retrograde
notions about the sexes meeting.

Earlier accusation of love jihad to describe mixed-religion marriages as was aggression targeted minorities.
It included references to an incident of alleged abduction, gangrape and forced conversion of a Hindu girl to
Islam in Kharkhoda area of Meerut.

The current move has expanded hatred towards all young people.

It is also against the concept of minimum government.

4.19 TSR Subramanian committee

Why in news?

The government has decided to junk the TSR Subramanian committee report on education reform.

What is the view of HRD ministry?

It termed the report as a mere compilation of older reports

The ministry will soon announce another committee to give a fresh report.

What the original report contains?

In 2015, the TSR Subramanian was set up to give a new education policy, which submitted its report in May,

The original report bans the political parties from universities. However it is not present in the officially
published report.

Banning political parties from the campus is unlikely to go down well with the political class
considering this is where they get recruits from.

It had talked of the need for a standing Education Commission to continually assess the changing
circumstances of the education sector and advise the HRD ministry on the need to upgrade policy accordingly.

At the school level, it proposed that the Right to Education Act be amended to include mandatory learning
outcome norms with the existing norms on infrastructure.

It wanted to bring minority institutions under the purview of applicability of the Economically Weaker
Sections quota.

It had recommended that the selection of teachers for government schools be handled by an autonomous body
to reduce corruption and politicisation.

On the higher education front, it had called for a flexible and nuanced regulatory regime that allowed high-
quality institutions much greater freedom than before on financial and administrative decisions.

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It suggested that accreditation of quality be made more outcome-based instead of being based on input
metrics such as spending on infrastructure.

What is the way ahead?

It is the governments prerogative to accept, fully or partially, or reject a report it commissioned.

But junking a report that had many progressive recommendations is odd.

Some of the recommendations it made represented a radical change from the past thinking and some arent
entirely new.

But together they could have proven a worthy template for the countrys education policy.

The government should retain the best of what the Subramanian panel had recommended.

4.20 Report of the Working Group on Migration

Why in news?

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation had constituted a Working Group to assess the impact
of migration on housing, infrastructure, and livelihoods.

The Group submitted its report recently.

What were the observations?

Migration in India -

1. Rural to Rural Areas - 47.4%,

2. Urban to Urban Areas - 22.6%,

3. Rural to Urban Areas - 22.1% &

4. Urban to Rural Areas - 7.9%

Reasons for migration - The share of family related migration (marriage) has increased from 28% to 36%
between 2001 & 2011 Censuses.

While 87% women migrants move due to family related reasons, 50% of men move due to work.

The share of work-related migration decreased from 16% to 13% between Censuses.

However, in terms of absolute numbers work-related migrants increased.

Migrant workforce - In urban areas, about 33% of the male workforce, and 56% of the female workforce is
composed of migrant workers.

Nature of jobs - In urban areas, 33% of the male migrants work in traditional services (trade, hotels), followed
by 27% in manufacturing, and 16% in modern services (real estate, education, health).

Among female migrants in urban areas, 34% work in public services (public administration, railways),
followed by 23% in manufacturing.

Accesses to employment - Certain states have introduced domicile requirements with regard to employment.
This puts migrants at a disadvantage.

The Group recommended that states should remove such domicile requirements and laws.

Access to benefits - Migrants are registered to claim legal and social entitlements at their source location.

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Post migration, they lose access to these benefits at the destination.

The Group recommended that PDS should be made portable, and expanded to extend coverage to migrants.

Housing - One of the key issues with regard to housing is poor supply, for both ownership and rental.

Short-term migrants do not have access to short-duration accommodation.

The Group recommended -

1. Expansion of basic services to all settlements,

2. Provision of wide variety of rental accommodation &

3. Provision of dormitories and working womens hostels.

4.21 Dealing with Homelessness

What is the issue?

While the PradhanMantriAwasYojana (PMAY) has been expanded to include even the middle classes, little is being
done to resolve the issue of homelessness.

What the official data says?

Homeless are those living in a structure without a roof.

According to the latest official data, merely 658 shelters have been created since the launch of the Shelter for
Homeless programme under the National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM) in 2013.

These shelters across the country cater to a total homeless population of 35,000.

This does not even amount to 5% of the total urban homeless population of 9.38 lakh.

But the civil society feel that the census figures itself is a gross-underestimate.

They estimate the extent of homelessness at 1% of the urban population i.e. 30 lakh people which is thrice the
census figures.

The low census count is attributed to the difficulties of counting those without a permanent abode or the fact
that the census data on homelessness excludes those such as construction labourers who sleep where they

What does the Supreme Court mandate?

As per the norms laid down by the Supreme Court, there has to be one shelter with capacity for 100 persons or
two shelters for 50 persons for every one lakh urban population.

The SC Commissioner report of 2011, had mandated compliance of these norms within a two-month period.

It had also asked for a mapping of homeless population, separate shelters for homeless women, setting aside
30% of the total number of shelters for persons with disabilities, senior citizens or addicts.

How do states fare?

The 658 shelters are only in 18 states.

Of these, states such as West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Odisha, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh hold a poor
record of creating between one to five shelters each.

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The maximum number of shelters, around 200, is in Delhi.

This is also the direct result of the Supreme Court pulling up the state government in the wake of the
mounting homeless deaths in the winter of 2009-10.

But Maharashtra with a far greater homeless population than Delhi, has created only 14 shelters.

Uttar Pradesh does not have a single new shelter has been built or existing one renovated under NULM in the

What is the reason for poor performance?

Mumbai has been the biggest defaulter and has been citing the lack of land as the reason for not providing any
new shelters for the homeless.

There is also the underlying prejudice that looks at the homeless as migrants who need not be provided for.

The poor numbers on ground are matched by the meagre budgetary provisions made for the homeless as
compared to housing for the relatively better-off segments.

The total budget available for constructing new houses under PMAY is over Rs 6,000 crore.

On the other hand, Rs 349 crore is the total provision for entire the NULM of which Shelter for Homeless is
just one of the seven components.

Therefore what is needed is the ample night shelters and cheap rental units for the homeless. This is how the
entire world has dealt with the issue of homelessness.

4.22 Access to Persons with Disabilities

What is the issue?

Recently, the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) drafted the rules of the new
law i.e Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 and made available it to the public for comments.

But they are not published in an accessible format to Persons with Disabilities.

What are the features of the act?

It covers 21 categories of disabilities compared to 7 in the 1995 legislation.

It includes Speech and Language Disability and Specific Learning Disability, Blood disorders (Thalassemia,
Hemophilia and Sickle Cell disease), Acid attack victims, Dwarfism and Muscular dystrophy.

The central government can add three more types of disabilities, if required.

Gender perspective - The bill specifically deals with gender sensitivity in certain chapters like Health,
Social Security, and others instead of having a general purpose chapter on gender specific issues.

Private sector - It provides a definite period for all private sectors to make their organisations disability

Disability entitlements - It ensures all Indias validity for disability entitlements by the proposal for a
universal identity card for the disabled.

It specifies a two-year jail term and a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh for discriminating against disabled persons.

It also provides Right to Free Legal Aid to ensure a better access to justice.

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Accessibility - It mandated the respective governments to ensure that all their public documents are in
accessible formats.

What is Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan?

India has also launched the Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan).

The campaign focuses not just on accessibility to physical infrastructure, but also on Information and
Communication Technologies.

What is the underlying problem?

People with disabilities miss out on information to do with their own lives because of lack of accessibility.

Both the new legislation and the campaign are focussed on addressing the problem.

In spite of this, the new rules to the legislation are not made accessible to Person with Disabilities.

This makes it clearly evident that the attitudinal barriers are here to stay.

Formulating an ambitious campaign will be ineffective without the attitudinal change in the government.

Therefore publishing the rules without making them accessible should soon be rectified.


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