Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic Resistance

This article deals with ‘Antibiotic Resistance.’ This is part of our series on ‘Governance’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

What is Antibiotic Resistance ?

Antibiotic resistance happens when microorganisms (such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites) evolve when they are exposed to antibiotic and develop resistance mechanisms to it or acquire that resistance from another bacterium

Examples of How Antibiotic Resistance Spreads

History

2010 It became a topic of debate in India when British journal Lancet  named an enzyme as NDM-1,which had  antimicrobial resistance 

(NDM-1 =  New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1 => resistant to beta-lactam antibiotics like Penicillin).  
2016 Colistin is the last resort antibiotics. Resistance to Colistin was detected in China .
 
September 2016 United Nations held a high level meeting to tackle antimicrobial resistance .  

Note – It was only the fourth time where general assembly has held a high-level meeting for a health issue (previously-it was for HIV, non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and diabetes and the Ebola).
 
 2017 US woman died from an infection that was resistant to all 26 available antibiotics .

Causes of Antibiotic Resistance & how it spreads ?

Major sources of resistance:

  • Overuse of antibiotics by human beings  (over prescription + self medication)
  • Overuse in the veterinary sector
  • Environmental antibiotic contamination due to pharmaceutical companies and hospital discharge. 
  • Lack of new antibiotics being developed
  • Patients not finishing treatment
  • Poor infection control in hospitals
Antibiotic Resistance

Ways to control

Various stakeholders have to perform different functions

Prescriber Prescriber should
1. Follow guidelines
2. Perform Antimicrobial susceptibility tests
3. Maintain hygiene, disinfection and sterilization in the hospital.
 
Farmer Farmers should
1. Follow guidelines.
2. Use only animal specific antibiotics
3. Maintain hygiene
Public Public should
1. Follow prescription and don’t self medicate himself
2. Public awareness and education should be carried out
 
Politician Politician should
1. Establish Antibiotic Resistance related laws
2. Make National Plans and Guidelines
3. Invigorate the antibiotic development of pharmaceutical companies  
Researcher Researcher should
1. Develop new generation of antibiotics
2. Develop Molecular Techniques for identifying resistance genes.

Initiatives taken by Government to control Antibiotic Resistance

1 . Red Line Campaign

  • Launched in 2016    
  • Medicines with Red Line are not to be consumed without doctor’s prescription

2. National Surveillance System for Anti-Microbial Resistance 

  • It will keep a close watch on such cases ..

3. National Action Plan on Anti Microbial Resistance

  • Started in April 2017  .

4. Amending Drugs and Cosmetic Rule, 1945

  • Schedule H1  added
  • Drugs in Schedule H1 are required to be sold in the country with the following conditions:-
    1. Their sale has to be registered in register with name of prescriber and patient 
    2. Drug  shall be labelled with the symbol Rx & drug warning.

International Level Steps to control Antibiotic Resistance

1 . By WHO

  1. WHO is providing technical assistance in helping countries to develop their national action plans, and strengthen their surveillance systems 
  2. One Health’ approach by WHO with World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)  – for optimal use of antibiotics in both humans and animals.

2. By United Nations

  • A high-level meeting on antimicrobial resistance was held at the United Nations General Assembly  

3. New Antibiotics

  • Many new antibiotics are being developed which are effective against all microbes.
  • Eg : In 2018 , ODLs (a new class of antibiotics) was discovered by University of Illinois and Nosopharm, company of France

Welfare Schemes , Laws and Institutions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes

Welfare Schemes , Laws and Institutions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes

This article deals with ‘Welfare Schemes , Laws and Institutions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.’ This is part of our series on ‘Governance’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

Vulnerable Groups

Groups  that  experience  a  higher  risk  of  poverty  and  social  exclusion  than  the  general  population.  (European Commission)

Following groups can be identified as Vulnerable Groups in India

  1. Schedule Caste
  2. Schedule Tribe
  3. Religious Minorities
  4. Differently Abled Persons
  5. Old age people/ Senior Citizens
  6. Orphans and Street Children
  7. Women
  8. Sexual Minorities  

Reason why they are more vulnerable than other groups is because they lack

  1. Economic capital in the form of material assets and income
  2. Cultural capital such as educational qualifications and status
  3. Social capital in the form of networks of contacts and social associations.

Scheduled Caste & Scheduled Tribe

Safeguarding Measures

1 . Constitutional Measures

1 . 1 Affirmative Action

Article 15(4) State can make special provisions for the advancement of socially and educationally backward class of citizens including Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
Article 16(4) Reservation in public services
Article 355 Claims of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be taken into consideration in making  appointments to the public services

1 . 2 Protective Measures

Article 17 Abolition of Untouchability
Article 23 Forced labour is  prohibited
Article 25 State is empowered to throw open Hindu religious institutions  to all classes and sections of Hindus

1 .3 Political Measures

Article 330 Reservation of seats in Lok Sabha in proportion of their population
Article 332 Reservation in  Legislative Assembly
Article 243-D(1) Reservation in Panchayat
Article 243-T(1) Reservation in Municipality

1 . 4 Administrative rights 

Schedule 5 Provisions for Scheduled Areas (for more, Click here)
Schedule 6 Provisions for Tribal Areas (for more, Click here)
Article 338 National Commission for Scheduled Castes (for more, Click here)
Article 338-A National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (for more, Click here)

1 .5 Specifically for STs

Article 19(5) State can impose restriction on freedom of movement or residence in the benefit of Scheduled Tribes.
Article 164 Appoint special minister for tribal welfare in the states of MP, Bihar, and Orrisa.
Schedule 5 & 6 Discussed in Polity

2. Legal Measures

2.1 Legal measures for Scheduled Castes

  • Protection of Civil Rights Act (PCRA), 1955 :  deals with untouchability
  • SCs and STs (Prevention of the Atrocities) Act, 1989 :
    • Prevents commission of atrocities against SC/ST by person other than SCs & STs
    • It leads to establishment of special courts for speedy trial of such offence
  • Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013

2.2 Legal measures for Scheduled Tribes

  • SCs and STs (Prevention of the Atrocities) Act, 1989 :
  • Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996
  • Forest Rights Act, 2006

Constitutional Measure Analysis : Affirmative Action /Reservation

Reservation  in Indian law is quota based affirmative action . 

We have already dealt with Reservation and it’s indepth analysis in another chapter. For reading it, Click here.

Act Analysis : SCs and STs (Prevention of the Atrocities) Act, 1989

MEANING OF THE ATROCITIES UNDER THE ACT

  • The term atrocity has not been defined in law (but list of atrocities is given).

Applicable to

  • Act is applicable in connection with Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes who are subjected to violence and brutalities by any person who is not a member of a Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

TYPES OF ATROCITIES MENTIONED IN ACT

Atrocities under the act include (but are not limited to):

  1. Social discrimination
  2. Beating, lashing and other forms of torture
  3. Arson-the burning of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes communities and their homes
  4. Violence against women
  5. Bonded labour
  6. Denial of rights, especially land rights
  7. Deny to give job or do business with person belonging to SC/ST
  8. Police abuses against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and custodial abuse

Imprisonment

  • Person will be put behind the bars at the same instant when FIR is lodged against person
  • No provision of Anticipatory Bail. Bail can only be granted by High Court.
  • Imprisonment ranging for 6 months to life imprisonment

Regarding Government Servant

  • If any government Servant indulge in such activity, there is provision of imprisonment of 6months to 1 year
  • Case can be registered against Government Servant only when he is found guilty in Investigation .

Other Provisions

  • Special Courts to deal with these cases
  • To fight the case, SC/ST is provided with financial aid and lawyer

Working of Act

  • There are only 194 Special courts => only 1 out of 3 district has special court
  • Conviction rate is very low

2018 Judgement on SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act

Supreme Court’s Judgement-  SC/ST Atrocities Act 1989 is being misused (NCRB data, conviction rate is 15% ) — and checks are needed to prevent such misuse . To check the misuse, Supreme Court placed two checks

  • No FIR should be filed under the SC/ST Atrocities Act till it is investigated by a DSP-level officer
  • No FIR should be registered against government servant under SC /ST Atrocities Act  without the approval of the appointing authority.
  • Anticipatory bail can be given on the orders of Magistrate

August 2018 : Lok Sabha has passed amendment in the Act to nullify the Judgement.

Act Analysis : Forest Rights Act,2006

  • Schedule Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers(Recognition of Forest Rights) Act came into force in 2006.
  • It has been enacted to recognize and vest the forest rights and occupation of forest land in forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers, who have been residing in such forests for generations, but whose rights could not be recorded. 

It guarantees following rights

  1. Title Rights : the right in the land is granted to STs and the people who are residing there for 75 years but don’t have documents (maximum 4 hectare)
  2. Right of use of resources. Eg : Minor Forest Produce (honey, herbs etc) , Common Property Resource etc
  3. Relief and Developmental Rights : in case of any displacement of tribals , proper relief packages should be given
  4. Forest Management Rights 

Issues wrt Forest Right Act

  1. Task of documenting the claims of communities is very tedious
  2. Reluctance on the part of bureaucracy
  3. Narrow interpretation of the law
  4. Opposition from wildlife conservationists
  5. Forest Rights Act is often in conflict with other laws e.g. Rights in protected areas like wildlife sanctuaries, national parks etc.

Way forward

  • Political will should be there
  • Devolution of fund, functions and functionaries
  • Awareness among the tribals about their rights

Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG)

  • 1973 : Dhebar Commission created Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) as a separate category, who are less developed among the tribal groups. 
  •  2006 : Government of India renamed it to Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
  • At present, they are 75 in number.
Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups
Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups

PVTGs have some basic characteristics

  • Small population.
  • Relatively physically isolated.
  • Absence of written language
  • Subsistence => hunting or gathering.
  • Zero or negative population growth.
  • Extremely low level of literacy.

Problems faced by them

  • Growth of PVTGs’ population is either stagnating or declining
  • Health status of PVTGs is in an awful condition because of  poverty, illiteracy, lack of safe drinking water, bad sanitary conditions etc
  • Condition of education is also very poor, with an average literacy rate of 10% to 44% in PVTGs.

Scheme: Scheme for Development of PVTGs

  • It identifies 75 PVTGs as the most vulnerable among the Scheduled Tribes. 
  • It gives state governments flexibility in planning initiatives. 
  • Long term Conservation cum Development plan for five years for each PVTG to be established by States.
  • Scheme is funded entirely by Central government.

Schemes for upliftment of SCs and STs

1 . Umbrella Scheme for SCs

  • After rationalisation of Centrally Sponsored  Schemes, all the Schemes for Scheduled Castes are taken under one Grand scheme that is Umbrella Scheme for Scheduled Castes which is Core of the Core Scheme and is 100% Centrally Sponsored

Some of the Schemes under this are

Educational Empowerment 1. Pre-Matric Scholarships to SC Students  
2. Post Matric Scholarship   
3. Full financial support for pursuing studies beyond 12th class, in notified institutes of excellence like IITs, NITs,  IIMs, reputed Medical/Law and other institutions.
4. National Fellowship: Financial assistance to SC students for pursuing research studies     
5. National Overseas Scholarship:  for pursuing higher studies of Master level  and PhD programmes abroad.  
6. Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojna
Economic Empowerment 1. Standup India  
2. Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes

2. Stand Up India

  • Every bank branch will provide
    • loan from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore
    • to one Dalit or Adivasi member and one woman each
    • For greenfield enterprises in the non-farm sector without collateral.

3. Eklavya Schools

  • Budget 2018 : announced establishment of Eklavya Schools.
  • To be established in all Tribal blocks with more than 50% ST population
  • Ekalavya schools will provide boarding and lodging facilities to tribal students.
  • These schools will have special facilities for preserving local art and culture besides providing training in sports and skill development.

e-Governance

e-Governance

In this article, we will look into topic of e-Governance in India. In the syllabus of GS 2 , following aspects have been mentioned wrt e-Governance

  • applications
  • models
  • successes
  • limitations, and
  • potential

What is e-Governance

Using  Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in government functioning with aim of making it (SMART) simple, moral, accountable , responsive and transparent

In whole process , government  use  Information and Communication Technology as tool

Note : It is not just using Apps or Websites for purpose of governance (as people assume it commonly) . Infact, it covers use of whole range of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools.

Models of E-Governance

5 models of e-Governance are given by American Prof Arie Halachmi (from IGNOU Public Administration)

Models of e-Governance

Model 1 : Broadcasting

What Use of  Information and Communication Technology & Media to disseminate / broadcast governance info that is already present in paper form.
Application 1. Broadcasting Laws, Rules , Judgements, result-marksheet on internet
2. Information about tourist spots, fees, taxes etc on government sites

Model 2 : Critical Flow

What Some what like broadcasting
– Release critical information through  Information and Communication Technology /media to targeted audience  .
Application 1. Inform Pregnant women’s address to ASHA worker so that she can take proper care of that women

2. Making available corruption related data about a particular Ministry / Division/ Officials online to its electoral constituency or to the concerned regulatory body.  

Model 3 : Comparative Analysis

  • More popular in 3rd World nations
  • They create Benchmark parameters (for parameters like Infant Mortality Rate, Maternal Mortality Rate, Life expectancy etc) & then measure Regional parameters at District , State & National level to compare it with benchmark parameters

Model 4 : e-Advocacy Model

What 1. Make some online forum & start gathering opinion of public for particular policy.
2. Other way to use is to place opinion of eminent persons on online forum & try to convert public opinion towards opinion of those persons .
Application 1. Human Resources beyond Boundaries : Can use human resources beyond geographical & bureaucratic barriers  

2. 2 way channel : People can also tell what they think & what they want .

Model 5 : Interactive Services

What – It is 2 way channel
– Mainly used in providing public services online to public .
– Government to Consumer to Government Model (G2C2G Model)
Application 1. Financial E-Payment of Taxes  & getting slip of payment (paying tax is C2G and Getting slip is G2C)  

2. Polity/Accountability : E-Referendums , opinion Polls  (Government asking opinion is G2C & People giving opinion is C2G)

3. E-Grievance Redressal like SWAGAT in Gujarat

4. Human Resource Development : E-Education, E-Gyankosh  (give education via internet to people and the take online exams from Public)

ICT initiatives in Governance

1 . e-Vidhan

  • Using e-Governance  in Legislative Process .
  • It is a mission mode project to make  functioning of State Legislatures  paperless

It is Software suite of

  • Public website
  • Secure website (for members)
  • mobile apps

that fully automate the functioning of legislative assembly 

  • Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs is the Nodal Ministry for the project.
  • Himachal Pradesh became the first state to use e-vidhan site and launch a mobile app

What will be done

  1. No papers in the House. All replies to questions, copies of bills and reports will be provided online
  2. MLAs will use touch-screen device at their tables
  3. Government departments will communicate with Vidhan Sabha online for sending replies to approved questions
  4. Government will cut down expenditure incurred on use of paper and other overheads.
  5. Digital audio and video recordings facility available.
  6. Common people will also get access to important documents and videos
  7. Common people can also ask question to MLA through the mobile app and public website.

2. e-Samiksha

  • e-Samiksha is an online monitoring and compliance mechanism developed by Cabinet secretariat 
  • It is used for tracking the progress on projects & policy initiatives by cabinet secretary and PM on a real-time basis.
  • e-Patrachar facility has been launched which sends meeting notices and agendas, circulars, letters, etc. through e-mail and SMS .
e-Samiksha

3. UPaAI System

  • UPAAI is a hindi word meaning ‘solution’.
  • UPaAI = Unified Planning and Analysis Interface
  • It will provide an integrated platform for data on infrastructure and social indices for each constituency to the MP  and help him or her take better decisions related to MPLAD funds and also other Central Schemes.
  • It will be monitored by PMO too
  • In the next phase, it will be extended to include state schemes, and bring district magistrates and members of legislative assemblies on same platform.

4. Government e-Marketplace (GeM)

  • GeM aims to ensure that public procurement of goods and services   is carried out through the online platform.
  • It promotes transparency & eliminates corruption.
  • Helpful in easy auditing because it will leave audit trail
Government e-Marketplace

5. e-Office

  • NIC has developed e-Office to transform the traditional functioning of departments of the governments.
  • It has functions like
    • Unified Internal Messaging 
    • e-Filing : To make digital files and share it with others
    • e-Financial Management
    • Knowledge Management System providing important documents and files accessible at any place
e-Office

e-Technology in the aid of farmers

ICT can be used to provide extension services to the farmers (extension services are those services which change outlook of farmers to use scientific research and new knowledge in farming practices )

Examples where e-Technology is used in aid of farmers

1 . e-Nam

  • Using ICT , farmer can sell his product anywhere in India
  • Helps in better price realisation .
e-NAM

2. m-Kisan Portal

  • Run by Agriculture Ministry
  • There are more than 800 websites of union & state departments of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry & Fisheries but due to Digital Divide web traffic is dismal
  • Govt came up with innovative idea to leverage advantage from 40 crore mobiles in rural areas. M-Kisan portal is used in two ways
    • Push SMS system used to send advisory to farmers by Government
    • Pull SMS & USSD used by farmers for asking queries
  • USSD module of M-Kisan : Faster & efficient than SMS and works on any mobile with nominal charge of ₹6/month
m-Kisan Portal

3. e-Mausam Krishi Seva

  • Weather information is send
  • Can be received both online or through SMS by registering on online portal
e-Mausam Krishi Seva

4. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)

  • PMFBY aims to assess the damage to crops for insurance purposes through GPS aided mobile images, satellite and Drone imagery. This will improve accuracy and compensation.

5. PUSA Krishi App

  • Developed by Indian Council of Agricultural Research
  • Functions
    • Information about various varieties of particular crop and the region it is best suited for 
    • Information about animal feed and bio-fertilizers
  • Farmers can get realtime solutions from ICAR Scientists by posting their queries there
PUSA Krishi App

6. e-Krishi Kiran 

  • Site for farmers of Gujarat State
  • Connects farmer with various government departments & Universities
  • Farmer just have to provide his land record number and all information would be given back to him
e-Krishi Kiran

Private Sector using E-technology in the Aid of Farmer

1 . Kisan Raja

  • For controlling the ON/OFF switch of water motors using mobile .
Kisan Raja

2. Nirantara

  • Horticulture app made by Bangalore based company

Use of e-Technology in Education

How  Information and Communication Technology (ICT) helps in spreading quality Education .

Time-Money-Location constrains gone 
• Knowledge sharing without time, money, location constrains 
• Synchronous learning: live lecture, google hangout 
• Asynchronous: recorded/ blog. 
Student benefit 
• Pace determined by learner 
• more interaction with teacher 
• Internet forum, idea-exchange, eutoff-speculation 
Skill / youth 
• Massive open source online leaning systems; LMS- learning 
management system (Egyankosh, Moodle) 
• Digital library: less staff, faster search and dispatch, 24x7; 
no copyright issues for blind (WIPO Marrakesh Treaty)

Schemes

1 . Swayam Portal

  • Started in June 2017 by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)
  • Web portal where Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) will be available on all kinds of subjects.
  • System also allows the transfer of credits that a college student earns from a course on Swayam directly into their academic records
Swayam Portal

2. Swayam Prabha TV

  • It is group of 32 channels telecasted on DTH to deliver educational content
  • Institutions like IGNOU, IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi etc are the contributing partners.

3. e – Pathshala

  • Provides access to textbooks &  other resources 
  • Developed by the NCERT
e-Pathshala

4. e-Basta Platform

Student and Teachers open account on this platform

Publisher Publisher can place e-books on this portal & students can buy e-books from this platform.
No piracy  because publisher himself will be selling his book .
Teacher Can bundle e-books , maps & videos as per his module and send to account of students
This is e-Basta
Students Students can access anywhere , anytime & don’t have to carry any weight

5. Vidya Lakshmi Portal

  • Started in 2015 Budget
  • Single portal where student can apply for loan from multiple banks & scholarship from government
Vidya Lakshmi Portal

6. PRIVATE Platforms

There are numerous private educational platforms like

  • Khan Academy (pioneer in online free classes)
  • Unacadamy
  • Udemy (best lecture on all subjects from coding to literature by private teachers who are best in their field)

ICT in Public Health

1 . ECHO Clinic

  • Under this concept of weekly or fortnightly classes held by best specialists using teleconferencing to reach out to under-served areas. 
  • It does not provide care directly to patients like in telemedicine. Instead, they equip primary healthcare clinicians in remote areas with the knowledge and support to manage complex cases.

2. Mera Aspataal

  • Mera Aspataal’- (My Hospital) application is an IT based feedback system to collect information on patients’ level of satisfaction
  • Implemented in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.

3. NEHA

  • National E-Health Authority
  • When patient go from one hospital to other he/she is asked for undergoing same tests . Using this portal data of all past health checkups is recorded in his account so that doctor can check his past health history

4. Pharma Jan Samadhaan

  • Under NPPA (National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority)
  • Complaint can be launched on this portal if
    • Particular drug is overpriced or
    • There is non availability of particular drug or
    • Sold without approval
  • Actions within 48 hours is assured
Jan Pharma Samadhan

5. Kilkari Project

  • It is mobile voice message service  launched by Government of India with help of Melinda & Gates Foundation
  • Deliver weekly messages to families about pregnancy, family planning, nutrition, childbirth and maternal and child care.
  • Database for the Kilkari programme will be taken from the successful Mother and Child Tracking System (MCTS) . Every woman registered with MCTS will receive weekly messages 
  • In all, 72 free audio messages, each of about two-minute duration, will reach targeted beneficiaries from the fourth month of pregnancy until the child is a year old.

6. ANMOL

  • ANMOL is a tablet-based application that allows ANMs to enter and update data for beneficiaries of their jurisdiction. 
  • This will ensure more prompt entry and regular upgradation of data

7. MCTS

  • Mother and Child Tracking System
  • It is a tracking system to ensure all pregnant women receive their antenatal care check ups and children receive free immunization

8. E-Shushrut

  • Patient Management System
  • Developed by C-DAC

 Use of ICT in Policing & Public Order

1 . Khoya Paya Portal

  • 70 thousand children in India go missing each year & forced to child labour, sex trafficking to middle east
  • On this portal
    • parent & other known can upload photo & information about the lost child or
    • if somebody has found or sighted some lost child
  • Note-  this is not FIR which need to be filed separately
Khoya Paya Portal

2. CCTNS

  • Crime & Criminals Tracking Network System
  • System will change to Online record keeping for better police management , intelligence sharing & case tracking

3. Virtual Police Station for Public

  • Launched in National Capital Region
  • International NGO Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has developed this
  • First-of-its kind training tool to acquaint public with the functioning of a police station

4. Surakshit Naari, Sashakt Naari

Following things done under this scheme

  • Panic Button & GPS System in Mobiles => women can send distress signal and her current location 
  • 181 – Universal Women Helpline number which will be active 24X7
  • Himmat App 
  • CCTV Surveillance cameras in trains to be installed . 
  • Middle Bay in trains reserved for women.

Benefits

1 . In Administration

  • It helped in decreasing distance between government and citizen
  • It has also helped in increasing citizen participation in governance
  • Resulted in increasing transparency and accountability

2. To Society

  • Inclusive growth : Those who cant afford education are getting it via MOOCs
  • Telemedicine and projects like Kilkari etc helping pregnant women and reducing IMR, MMR etc

3. To Economy

  • It has resulted in Ease of doing business
  • Farmers are getting extension services helping to increase the productivity of farmers.
  • Tax compliance has been increasing as it has become easy to file taxes
  • Resulted in less leakage in subsidy via JAM

Challenges

  • E-governance is seen more as computerisation & office automation  rather than as a means to transform citizens from passive to active participants in governance.  
  • Digital Divide => Rural vs Urban & Male vs Female => Approximately 70% of the population lives in rural areas where illiteracy is high.
  • Funding to these programs is short in comparison to our huge ambitions we have placed on these schemes
  • Privacy & No Data Protection Law (Legal Vacuum)  : Aadhar information & other records are to be used but there is no law to ensure privacy will be insured  .
  • Quality of Local content is not good. Most of portals aren’t user friendly. 
  • No special programmes to make public aware about these programmes. Mere ads willn’t serve the purpose.
  • Status Quo attitude of the government departments : Despite a push given to e-governance initiatives, many government departments continue insisting upon physical forms and signatures.
  • Security and privacy of information is a technical challenge for e-governance implementation as people are wary about sharing their information with the government agencies.

Conclusion : Kentaro Toyama, formerly CEO of Microsoft India, has shown IT intervention has limited impact on developmental outcomes when the political will is absent. This is because technology can only be the ‘force multiplier’, it is not the force itself. The positive intent must originate in politics and motivate the bureaucracy to deliver on its mandate.

Issue of Poverty

Issue of Poverty

This article deals with ‘Issue of Poverty.’ This is part of our series on ‘Governance’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

About Poverty

Poverty is the worst form of violence – Gandhiji

Definition of Poverty

Poverty is a socially created concept due to unequal distribution of benefits of socio-economic progress.

World Bank definition

Extreme poverty Living on less than $ 1.25 per day
Moderate poverty Living on less than $ 2 per day

Note – poverty is measured in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) exchange rate & not absolute exchange rate.

Poverty Gap

  • (mean income among poor)- (poverty line)
  • It measures Depth of poverty
  • Also called Foster-Greer-Thorbecke (FGT) Index

Engel’s Law

  • When incomes rise , % age of overall income spent on food items decrease
  • This  is evident from data too
area Average MPCE % food Expenditure
Urban Rs.2399 38.5%
Rural Rs.1278 48.6%

MPCE = Monthly per capita Expenditure

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) & Poverty

  • SDG 1 :  End poverty in all its forms every-where by 2030
    1. SDG wants to end Global Extreme Poverty by 2030
    2. By 2030 , reduce atleast by half the people living in poverty according to national definitions.
  • India is home to 26% of the global extreme poor. This means that the world’s ability to end extreme poverty by 2030 —  hinges on India’s ability to make strong and sustained inroads in reducing poverty

Constitutional Provisions regarding Poverty

  • Article 39 : Adequate Livelihood
  • Article 21 : Right to life with dignity
  • Article 17 : Untouchability
  • Article 41 : Right to work, public assistance and education
  • Article 47: Nutrition and standard of living
  • Article 46 : Education and Economic interests of SC / STs

Causes of Poverty

1 . Economic Reason

  • Models of growth not conducive for poverty alleviation – India chose capital intensive model in labour intensive country which was a great fault.
  • Widespread reliance on agriculture(more than 60% population dependent on sector  contributing 15% to GDP)
  • Lack of institutional formal credit leading to debt trap
  • Large scale inequality
  • MATTHEW EFFECT :  The phenomenon, widely spread across advanced welfare states that middle class tend to be the main beneficiary of social benefits & services that are targeted to poor (India is trying to rectify this using Targeted Delivery of Subsidy with help of Aadhar) 

2. Demographic

  • Rapid Population growth with inadequate growth of new job opportunities.

3. Social Cause

  • Caste system : subordination of low caste people by the high caste people caused  poverty of the former.
  • Joint family system provides social security to its members. Some people take undue advantage of it. They live upon the income of others. They become idlers. Their normal routine of life consists in eating, sleeping and begetting children.
  • Social Customs : ruralites spend a large percentage of annual earnings on social ceremonies like marriage, death feast etc. As a result, they remain in debt and poverty.

4. Climatic Factors

  • Drought, Floods, Cyclones etc perpetuates poverty

5. Historical factors

  • like colonialism & imperialism which led to exploitation of Indian people and it’s natural resources. India’s wealth was drained to metropole Britain for two centuries.

6. Institutional Factors

  • Withdrawal of Government from Social Security especially after LPG Reforms
  • Anti poverty schemes not successfully implemented due to institutional inadequacies

Poverty Line

What is Poverty Line?

  • It defines a threshold income. Households earning below this threshold are considered poor.
  • Different countries have different methods of defining the threshold income depending on local socio-economic needs.

Different approaches to define poverty line

There are two approaches regarding this

  1. Nutritional Approach : based on certain minimum criteria of nutrition intake
  2. Relative Deprivation Approach : It doesn’t take into account just nutritional deficits but in comparison to the progressive section, person is not that progressed . Eg : Person earning less than 60% of country’s per capita income

Nutritional Approach is generally followed by developing countries . But now time has come that India should move from Nutritional Approach to Relative Deprivation Approach to ensure Sustainable and Equitable Development.

Poverty line in India is decided by

  • Earlier it was used to be determined by erstwhile Planning Commission
  • Now NITI Aayog decide (Commission under Arvind Panagariya made for this & gave report  ) 
  • June 2016- Panagariya has  suggested that
    • Tendulkar Committee’s report should be accepted for poverty line estimation
    • But socio-economic indicators, say, as collected by Socio-Economic Caste Census, should be used to determine entitlement for benefits

Various Committees constituted for Poverty Line Determination

1 . Lakdawala Committee

In books, we frequently come across the Poverty Line defined as 2400 calorie in Rural & 2100 calorie in Urban . This definition of Poverty Line was based on the recommendations of Lakdawala Committee.

Calorie
Rural 2400
Urban 2100

2. Tendulkar Committee

Tendulkar Committee defined Poverty Line based on per capita monthly expenditure.

Area Monthly Expenditure per person (Rs.)
Rural 816
Urban 1000

While calculating , Tendulkar Committee based it’s recommendation on

  • Food
  • Health
  • Education
  • Clothing

The poverty has declined according to Tendulkar  committee report

Year%age of population below Poverty Line
2004 37.2%
2011 22%

Reduction in poverty is attributed to

  • Increase in employment in non agriculture sector – Construction sector absorbed the landless laborers & daily wage earners from villages
  • Schemes like MGNREGA, National rural livelihood mission reduced the stress during lean season, created employment opportunities during non agricultural seasons also.
  • India’s demographic bulge provided more working population compared to dependents (Children and elders) – More working hands, reduced unemployment
  • Social welfare schemes like PDS, AAY, MGNREGA, NRLM, Pension schemes and others provided safety net to the poor
  • Inward remittances – Large emigration of citizen to  US, EU etc. and to west Asian destinations like UAE, Saudi, Qatar etc. generated huge inward remittances for India, which directly benefited dependents in India
  • Quality jobs in Service sector like BPO, Hospitality, Retail chain, E – commerce supply chain provided heavy wages
  • Rapid growth of the economy during this period except 2008 recession , provided better opportunities to come out of poverty through better employment opportunities, increased demand for services etc.

3. C Rangarajan Committee

C Rangarajan Committee  defined Poverty Line based on Monthly Expenditure of  family of five.

Urban poverty line (Rs) Rs 7035 per family of five, per month
Rural poverty line (Rs) Rs 4860  per family of five, per month

Rangarajan Committee took more things than Tendulkar Committee into it’s calculations

  • Food (both included this)
  • Clothing (both included this )
  • Education (both included this )
  • Health (both included this )
  • Rent (only Rangarajan)
  • Transportation (only Rangarajan)

Rangarajan recommends that at any given point of time,

  • bottom 35% rural junta always be considered poor
  • bottom 25% urban junta always be considered poor.

Rangarajan Committee recommended delinking of the Poverty Estimate lines from the Government Entitlement Benefits . Food Security benefits should be given in accordance with Social and Caste dimensions and not BPL.

Critique of these Poverty Lines

  • Experts argue that Indian way of calculating poverty  is incorrect.  It is simply what some call a “starvation line”. According to critics, the government has deliberately kept poverty line low. A low poverty line has enabled the government to show that millions have moved out of poverty. 
  • India should be using some relative measure as opposed to absolute measure to define Poverty. In most of Europe, a family with a net income of less than 60% of the “median net disposable income”  is counted as poor. A poverty line “relative” to the national average also gives an idea about the state of inequality. 
  • A comparison shows that India’s poverty line is abysmally low than even African Poverty Lines. Even poverty line of Rwanda is higher than that of India . Per capita poverty line of a rural adult Rwandian in Indian terms comes out to be Rs. 900/ month,  more than Rs. 816 for a person in rural India. 
  • Other critique which PL faces is that , once decided the PL remains same for years & don’t take into account inflation.  It needs to be updated every year by applying cost inflation index to keep it realistic.
  • Multidimensional Poverty Index : We define Poverty in  very limited way by just looking to household consumption  . UNDP define Poverty using Multidimensional Poverty Index which takes holistic view and consider indicators like Health , Education and Standard of Living . Need to move toward that

Two other important Committees

Saxena Committee – For recommending Methodology of finding Rural Poor
By Rural Ministry
Hashim Committee (2012) For recommending Methodology to find Urban Poor (BPL)
– By Urban Ministry

1 . Saxena Committee on Rural Poverty (2009)

  • When Tendulkar Committee Report came, Ministry of Rural development  , hurriedly set up a committee known as the SAXENA COMMITTEE , in 2009 to review the methodology for inclusion of person in BPL Category to include them in government schemes
  • Recommendation of the Committee
    • Gave famous Automatic Inclusion and Automatic Exclusion principle
    • Automatic  inclusion criterion for the most vulnerable sections of society (E.g. homeless people, persons with disability)
    • Automatic Exclusion : Those having motor bike etc
    • Percentage of people entitled to Below Poverty Line (BPL) status should be revised upwards to at least 50%.
    • Apart from Automatically included, find other using scores of various deprivations .

2. Hashim Committee on Urban Poverty (2012)

  • To suggest methodology for inclusion of person in BPL category in Urban Areas to include them in government schemes .
  • Recommendations of Hashim Committee
    • Automatic Exclusion
    • Automatic Inclusion
    • Scoring Index:  remaining households will be assigned scores from 0 to 12 based on various indicators . They should be considered eligible for inclusion in the BPL List in the increasing order higher scores 

Multidimensional Poverty Index

  • In India , we calculate poverty using Tendulkar Method based on household consumption
  • But UNDP takes holistic view of poverty and measures it differently
  • Released since 2010 .
  • In Multidimensional Poverty, they look into following components to measure poverty (HES)
    • Health with Components like child mortality
    • Education with components like years of schooling
    • Standard of Living with components like Electricity, water etc

Impact of Poverty

Several issues like hunger, illness and thirst are both causes and effects of poverty. Hence , term known as poverty trap is usually used for this ie bad cycle is created not allowing people to come out of poverty.

Poverty Trap
On Society Poverty => homeless => social unrest => crime

Poverty results in  inequalities which can culminate into violent upheavals like Arab Spring .  Various Revolutions in Arab Spring started because of the lack of jobs and high poverty levels. 
 
On Children – This leads children to build an antisocial behavior . Discrimination and social exclusion often push them to more aggressiveness and less self-control   
Terrorism Most of the time terrorists do come from poorer countries with high unemployment
 
Diseases Diseases are very common in people living in poverty because they lack the resources to maintain a healthy living environment. 
 
Education – Many people living in poverty are unable to attend school from a very early age.
– Obtaining a basic education could bring 171 million people out of poverty. A bad cycle is created; poverty prevents people from gaining a good education, and not obtaining an education prevents people from escaping poverty.
 

How can India  reduce poverty

Eventhough India has grown rapidly, its growth has been less effective at reducing poverty than in some of India’s middle-income peers such as China, Vietnam, Brazil and Turkey. Following can be done in this respect

In Agricultural sector With 4 out of every 5 of India’s poor living in rural areas, progress will need to focus on the rural poor. Using Agricultural Sector, Poverty can be removed through following initiatives
1. Value addition through food processing
2. Organic farming 
3. Cooperation farming, milk cooperatives and farmer produces organization 
 
In Manufacturing sector Create Jobs in India via
1. Skill development
2. Make in India  
In Service sector 1. Creation of quality jobs in BPO, IT, ITES for youth 
2. Promotion of tourism
3. Promotion of higher job creation in E commerce, supply chain, Hospitality and construction sector  
In Governance 1. Effective implementation of JAM trinity for targeting beneficiaries and ensuring Subsidies reach the poor
2. Universal health insurance to reduce out of pocket expenditure to health care  

Value Addition : Capability Approach to Poverty by Amartya Sen

  • Capability approach  is an economic theory conceived in the 1980s as an approach to welfare economics.
  • Traditionally
    • Poverty has been defined by an individual’s level of income.
    • Eg : Extreme Poverty is defined as those  who live on $1.25 per day or less.
    • As a result, following this approach governments center their Poverty Removal Policies on  job creation, GDP growth and other economic policies
  • Capability Approach
    • In richer countries, all are fortunate enough that they can earn good income. Does that mean , they are not poor
    • Amartya Sen’s Capability approach defines Poverty in Holistic Way.  A better approach is to see poverty  as deprivation of a person’s capabilities to live the life they value

Issue of Hunger

Issue of Hunger

This article deals with ‘Issue of Hunger.’ This is part of our series on ‘Governance’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

What is Food Security ?

It means , all people have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food at all time.

It has three aspects wrt access

Physical There should be presence of food
Social Caste aspect and gender aspect
1. Dalits aren’t given food or given food on ground
2. Male child given nutritious food than girl child
Economic People should have money to buy food

Malnutrition

  • It is physiological condition due to unbalanced macro and micro nutrients manifested in form of
    • Wasting ie weight:height ratio is less
    • Stunting ie Height is lower wrt age
    • Underweight ie Weight is lower wrt age
    • Anaemia – Red Blood Cells reduces
  • Malnutrition at early stages reduces intelligence and affects the formation of cognitive and non-cognitive skills that affect the long term wellbeing.
  • Cost of malnutrition is high both for individuals and nations 

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and Hunger

Two goals are associated with this ie SDG 2 and SDG 12

SDG and Hunger

 SDG 2 aims to End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

SDG 12 aims to Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

We have to keep in mind that, on one hand humanity faces issue of hunger and on other hand , large amount of food is simply wasted due to wrong practices. It has been estimated that :-

  • 1/3rd food produced in world gets rotten due to poor transport, storage, processing
  • By 2050, 3 planets are required to sustain human lifestyle

IFPRI Global Hunger Index

  • Status of India (2019)
    • Rank = 102 out of 117 countries (In 2014 – it was 55)
    • India has highest number of hungry people in the world    
  • But they have also appreciated MGNREGA, NRHM & ICDS programmes of the government and recognised their role in reducing hunger but even after that , absolute number is very high

Hidden Hunger

  • 2014 Report of IFPRI also  spoke about HIDDEN HUNGER
  • If you are giving just Carbohydrates in diet to person, he willn’t die . But this isn’t enough for overall development of human body. Vitamins and other micro-nutrients are equally necessary 
  • If person doesn’t get proper micro-nutrients in his diet, his hidden hunger will remain
  • More than 50% women & children in India suffer from Anaemia
  • To fight hidden hunger – give
    • iodized salt,
    • fortified flour,
    • bio fortification of crops ,
    • PDS Reforms,
    • Education

Cause of Malnutrition

Green revolution phase saw new, fast growing varieties of staples especially wheat and rice, the following decades saw a steady decline in the food basket diversity, especially of traditional grains such as bajra, millet which have nutritional value.

  • Micronutrient Deficiencies / Hangover of Green Revolution : Green Revolution phase saw new, fast-growing varieties of staples, especially wheat and rice, the following decades saw a steady decline in the food basket diversity, especially of traditional grains such as bajra and millet, which have high nutritional value. Indians suffer deficiencies in vitamins and minerals- iron, vitamin A, zinc and iodine due to faulty diet
  • Breastfeeding practices :  Lack of improvement in infant and young child feeding practices are also responsible for poor status of nutrition.
  • Poor sanitation : About half of Indians defecate outside without using toilets and from here children pick up parasites and chronic infection that impair the ability of the intestines to absorb nutrition. 
  • Problem with Public Distribution System
    • Leakages in PDS : In 2012, 46% of total grains released through PDS leaked
    • Wastage : 62,000 tonnes of wheat & rice damaged in Food Corporation of India godowns
  • Social Causes : Women in household and girlchild  don’t get proper food (compared to other members)

Implications of Hunger

Hunger leads to unending cycle of hunger for future generations as well

Implications of Hunger

What India is doing to fight Hunger / Malnutrition

  • Mid Day Meals in School
  • POSHAN Scheme (refer below)
  • MGNREGA – Increased income of poors
  • National Food Security Act and PDS System
  • Integrated Child Development Program (ICDP)
  • Initiatives such as India Food Banking Network (IFBN), are promoting the concept of collaborative consumption with support from the private sector and civil society organisations. 
  • National Iron Plus Initiative and Vitamin A supplements 
  • Guidelines on Infant and Young Child Feeding – Recommending exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life
  • Anganwadi worker and ASHAs Worker  working towards this especially in rural areas .

POSHAN Scheme

  • POSHAN = PM’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment   Abhiyaan
  • Aims : ensure holistic development and adequate nutrition for pregnant women, mothers and children.
  • Seeks to reduce the level of stunting, undernutrition and low birth weight by 2% each
  • Union government had signed a loan deal worth $200 million with the World Bank for the POSHAN Abhiyaan.

Public Distribution System (PDS)

Indian government gives subsidized food grains to it’s population thorugh

When Introduced When PDS was introduced it was universal scheme  
Targeted PDS In 1997 :  Targeted PDS was introduced (Not given to all but on the basis of some criteria)  
National Food Security Act (NFSA) – Criteria => Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) will be used
– Food grains will be given to 67% population

National Food Security Act (NFSA)

We will study National Food Security Act with detail as this system is presently used in India for Public food distribution at subsidized rates. Under the act,

  • Central Government procures , store and then supply it to states
  • State Government identifies the beneficiaries using Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC)  in a way that it cover 67% of population and then distribute cereals /allowance to them.
National Food Security Act

Entitlements under NFSA

What Following things are given at mentioned rates
1. Rice at ₹3/kg
2. Wheat at ₹2/ kg
3. Coarse Grain at ₹1/kg
To whom 1. Antyodaya Family is given 35kg/Family/ month
2. Priority Households are given 5kg/person/month (max : 5 person)
3. ₹6000 is given to pregnant women
4. Free meals and ration given to students

Criticism of NFSA

  • No need to cover 67% population & it should have been targeted scheme  . It will lead to Fiscal deficit
  • Hidden Hunger Problem will remain because it don’t have pulses, edible oil, fruits, veggies and milk component in it. Present diet will just provide Carbohydrates 
  • Nothing done to reduce leakage . GPS Truck tracking , CCTV etc should have been used in this but there isn’t any provision like this in the act
  • Economic Survey is of the view that instead of this , Food Stamps should be given to targeted people who can buy the food of their choice from market

Alternatives to present National Food Security Act

1 . Universal

When PDS was introduced it was universal scheme . In 1997, Targeted PDS started but states like Tamil Nadu continued to use Universal Entitlement

Pros No Exclusion Errors
Cons Fiscal Deficit Issues
– Theoretically, subsidy should be targeted to poor only

2. CashTransfer

Give Cash via Direct Benefit Transfer . People will buy themselves

Pros 1. Increased choice on what to eat
2. Nutritional Security instead of food security
3. Low administrative cost
4. No leakages
Cons 1. No surety that it will be used to buy food
2. Expose already vulnerable people to price volatility of food
3. Financial Inclusion is not 100% and most of persons outside net are those who need food subsidy the most .

3. Food Coupons

Pros Household is given the freedom to choose where it buys food
Increases incentive for competitive prices and assured quality of food grains among PDS stores
Ration shops get full price for food grains from the poor; no incentive to turn the poor away  
Cons Food coupons are not indexed for inflation; may expose recipients to inflation
Difficult to administer; there have known to be delays in issuing food coupons and reimbursing shops

4. Use Technology

Some of the states are already using the technology to stop leakages in the PDS and showing positive results . These include

Issue of Smart Card Haryana , Tamil Nadu, Punjab
Using GPS Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu
SMS based Monitoring Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, UP

Pressure Groups

Pressure Groups

This article deals with ‘Pressure Groups.’ This is part of our series on ‘Governance’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

What are Pressure Groups ?

  • Pressure Groups are group of people trying to pressurise the administrative – political system to protect and promote their interests

How & why they were born in India ?

1 . Market Economy

  • In market economy there is struggle over tax/tariffs and race to get concession from the government. Different business groups emerged (eg FICCI, ASSOCHAM etc in India) to pressurise government to make such policies which serve their interests.

2 . Welfare State

  • Government started to look after welfare functions eg reservation in education & jobs
  • Different groups emerged to safeguard their interests

3. Political Angle

  • Politicians set their priorities according to vote bank because ultimately they need votes to win elections. Hence, politicians will always favour landless labourer and workers because their number is more .
  • In this case, Zamindars and Businessmen will try to protect their interests by forming pressure group because number wise they cant win .

4. Activist Angle

  • Pressure groups are also formed to protect the rights of people 
  • Narmada Bachao Andolan – To rehabilitate displaced and protect environment
  • Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan in Rajasthan pressurised government to form RTI
  • (Note -They are NGOs too)

Political Party vs Pressure Group

Political Party Pressure Group
They are Permanent  They are temporary
They  have long term vision & aim  . They are formed on ideological lines , common values and preferences. They have short term & narrow vision . Some  cases,  they  may  focus  on  a  single issue  (for  instance  opposing  a  planned  road  development).
Have cadre based organisation No cadre
Eg : BJP, INC, BSP etc Eg : FICCI, ADR etc

Lobbying vs Pressure Group

Lobbying Act of loitering in lobbies of  legislative assembly and influence decisions of law-makers .
Pressure group Pressure groups do lobby but apart from that they do many other things too to pressurise decision makers (ie lobbying is one of the weapon of Pressure Groups)
1. Funding election
2. Sponsoring candidate
3. Keeping bureaucracy satisfied
4. Exploit caste , religion , region etc

Global  Experience  with  Lobbying

  • Various democracies of west =>   see  lobbying  as   part  of  democratic  functioning  that  allows individuals  and  groups  to  legitimately  influence  decisions  that  affect  them. 
  • No  country  ,  including  India,  has  banned  lobbying.  In  fact,  a  few  countries  even  regulate  the  activity, like  USA,  Canada,  Australia,  Germany  and  Taiwan.  
  • In  USA,  lobbying  is  regulated under   Lobbying  Disclosure  Act,  1995.  

Lobbying  in  India

  • In India, there is no law to regulate lobbying . But Organisations like FICCI etc do lobbying ahead of budget to get concessions
  • In India, lobbying is controversial subject because people equate  lobbying, with corruption  in  India  as  every  dealing with    government  requires  bribes  to  be  paid  to  officials. 
  • Large number of corruption cases involving Lobbying are present. Eg :      2010 Nira Radia (lobbyist) tapes 
  • Lobbying is   against  the  right  to  equality which places those with money power at advantageous position.
  • Examples of Lobbying by Indian Corporations
    1. Ranbaxy  lobbied via  Patton  Boggs  to preserve  access  to  affordable  generics in US. 
    2. Wipro  lobbied  in  the U.S  for  favourable  visa  policies.   
    3. Not  only  private  companies  but  even  Indian  government  lobbied  for  the  Indo-US  civilian  nuclear deal. 
  • While  lobbying  is  not  a  new  phenomenon  in  India,  it  is  largely  unregulated.   Companies  are  not  mandated  to  disclose  their  activities  .   private  member’s  Bill  to  regulate  lobbying  was   introduced  in  the  Lok  Sabha  by Kalikesh  Narayan  Singh  Deo.  

It  is  not  lobbying ,  but  the  lack  of  transparency &  regulations  that  is  at  the  root  of  the  problem.  

Type of Pressure Groups

The  different  types  of  pressure  groups  found  in  India  are  business  groups,  trade  unions,  peasant groups,  student  groups,  teachers’  association,  caste  and  religious  associations,  women’s associations,  etc.

1 . Business  Groups

  • Most  important  and  organised  pressure  group  => have  enough resources  to  safeguard  their  interests. 
  • Eg :  FICCI  and Associated  Chamber  of  Commerce (ASSOCHAM). 
  • Exerts pressure via funding parties

2. Trade unions

  • Trade  Unions    are  closely  affiliated to  political  parties
  • Weapon –  strike  , demonstrations

3. Peasant  Organisations

  • Present before independence as well but post abolition  of  Zamindari  &  Green  Revolution  , they became very important
  • Eg :  All  India  Kisan  Congress,  Akhil  Bharatiya  Kisan  Sangh etc
  • but mostly  peasant  groups  have  been  organised  on  territorial  basis.
  • Their  demands  relate  to  procurement  prices ,  fertiliser  subsidy,    electricity  charges,  etc. 

4. Student  Organisations

  • Mostly  affiliated  with  political parties .
    • National  Students  Union  of  India  (NSUI)  – Congress Party
    • Students  Federation  of  India  (SFI)  – Communist  Party  of  India
    • Akhil Bharatiya  Vidyarthi  Parishad  (ABVP) – BJP  
  • They  try  to pressurise  governmental  policy  on  various  crucial  issues,  their  activities  are  not  just  confined  to educational  issues

5. Community  Associations

  • These  community  groups  are  organised  on the  basis  of  caste,  class  and  religion. 
    • Caste  organisations  :  Scheduled  Caste Federation,  Backward  Caste  Federation,  etc. 
    • Religion :  Vishwa  Hindu  Parishad,  Northern  and  Southern  India  Christian  Conference,  etc.  

Interest Groups vs Cause Groups Pressure Groups

1 . Interest  groups 

  • Represent  a  particular  interest  of  society:  workers,  employers, consumers  or  religious  group etc .
  • Membership – limited  to  people of that interest
  • Eg :
    • Trade  unions (AITUC etc)
    • Business   corporations (FICCI, ASSOCHAM etc )  
    • Professional  bodies
    • Regional groups
    • Caste Groups  like Karni Sena , Jat Mahasangh etc 

2. Cause  groups 

  • Groups  that  are based  on  certain cause 
  • Causes  range  from  charity , poverty reduction , environment, human  rights, transparency  in  governance  etc.
  • Membership is open to  all. Members are motivated by  altruistic  concerns  
  • Eg
    • Mazdoor  Kisan  Shakti  Sangathan  =  transparency  in  governance 
    • PETA = Animal Rights
    • India  against  Corruption.

Tools used by functioning in Pressure Groups

These methods and tools can be broadly divided into two groups

Direct Tools In which pressure groups directly interacts with Policy Makers
Indirect Tools In which pressure groups indirectly pressurises Policy Makers via consequences Policy makers have to face if they don’t accept their demands eg Hartals etc

1 . Meetings with Ministers  and  Civil  Servants

  • They are centre of power
  • Groups  aspire  to  get  in  touch  with  them  to  get  some  sort  of  concessions

2. Parliament

  • Changes can be brought in details of act via MPs + Parliamentary Questions

3. Funding Political Parties

  • All parties need funds to fight elections

4. By Changing Public  Opinion

  • Eg : Association  for Democratic  Reforms  by making election funding data public or using PIL route to introduce affidevits for contesting parties to show their assets , liabilities, criminal cases etc    

5. Direct  Action

  • Eg : Strikes , Blockades , boycotts  and sit-ins
  • Eg   Ramleela  Maidan  by  India  against Corruption

6. Showing Strength

  • By showing strength via rallies, pressure can be made to act or face consequences in next elections

Role & benefits of pressure groups

1 . Representation to Unrepresented

  • Pressure  groups  provide  a  mouthpiece  for  groups  and  interests  that  are  not  adequately represented  through  the  electoral  process   
  • Eg
    • Women’s  organizations  such  as  SEWA, NCW –  women-friendly  laws  such  as  Protection  of  Women  from Domestic  Violence  Act,  2005. 
    • In  the  North-Eastern  State  of  Manipur-  ‘Just  Peace’ and  Meira  Paibis  (women’s groups)  are  trying  to  influence  the  government  to  listen  to  people’s  genuine  grievances. 

2. Policy formulation

  • Business Groups like FICCI =>  consulted while forming Business Policy
  • Kisan Unions =>  consulted while forming agricultural policies
  • Students unions like ABVP, NSUI, AISF etc => consulted while forming education policies.

3. Persistent check on Government’s power

  • Elections are held just once in 5 years.
  • These Pressure groups keeps check on government all the time

4. Education

  • Pressure  groups  promote  political  debate,  discussion  and  argument. 
  • Eg : Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) helps in educating on common people on political issues and elections 

5. Other

  • Ensures pluralism in representation of interests. In policy making you will find group which demand complete ban of tobacco to group of tobacco manufacturers who is pressurising government not to implement such policies

Points against Pressure Groups

1 . Create Political  Inequality

  • Instead of  dispersing power    widely  ,  pressure  groups  tend  to  empower  the already  powerful.  

2. Tyranny  of  the  minority

  • Pressure  groups  help  to  prevent  a  ‘tyranny  of  the majority’  .  However, pressure  groups  may  create  the  opposite  problem ie Tyranny of Minority.  
  • These groups sometimes ransack the whole state eg Jat Agitation in which property worth Billions was vandalised .

3. Decreases the Legitimacy of the Government

  • When government work under pressure of Pressure groups, common public lose trust in government

4. ‘Behind  the  scenes’  influence

  • Lacks transparency and accountability.

Comparison of Indian and western pressure groups

  • The American  pressure  groups  are  regarded  as  the  fourth  organ  of  the  government  but the  Indian  pressure  groups  are  not  yet  able  to  play  such  significant  role  .
  • In India  and  Great  Britain , cabinet  and  civil  service  are  the  main  targets  of pressure  groups  .  However,  the  targets  of American  pressure  groups  are  the  Congress  and  its  committees  
  • Indian  pressure  groups  based  on  caste,  religion,  region,  etc.  are  more  powerful  than the modern groups like business organisations which are powerful in western nations
  • In  USA  pressure  groups take  interest  in  foreign  policy  issues  while  in  India  ,  pressure  groups  are  concerned  more  with domestic  policy  issues  and  problems,

MNREGA

MNREGA

This article deals with ‘MNREGA.’ This is part of our series on ‘Governance’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

Introduction

  • Government as an employer of the last resort is an idea that has existed since Great Depression in United States.
  • However, MGNREGA takes this policy to a new realm because of its massive reach, universal nature, and its initiation during a period of rapid economic growth.

About Program (prelims)

  • MGNREGA = Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (2005)
  • Under Ministry of Rural Development
  • Provides a legal guarantee for 100 days of employment  to adult member of any rural household willing to do unskilled manual work
  • It is demand driven scheme (not supply driven)
  • Wages are to be paid according to the Minimum Wages Act 1948 for agricultural labourers . Equal wages will be provided to both men and women.
  • 60:40 wage and material ratio has to be maintained ( labour-intensive nature of the scheme)
  • Central Govt pays  100 percent wage cost of manual labour & 75 percent of the material cost
  • Social Audit has to be done by the Gram Sabha (legal provision).

Achievements of MNREGA

  • Revitalization of Rural Labour Markets : Poor workers have got bargaining power to demand higher wages .
  • Women : Women are getting work as right leading to their emancipation  (dealt separately).
  • Sustainable Assets in water harvesting created especially in states like Bihar , Gujarat, Rajasthan etc . This also led to increase in agro productivity .
  • Hundreds of bonded labour (Saheriya Adivasis) in Rajasthan freed from generations of bondage. 
  • MGNREGA has reduced distress migration.
  • Has shown some unintended benefits => Banks account opened by poor workers because wages were paid through  banks (Financial Inclusion).
  • Empowering Gram Panchayats :  act gave gram Sabhas the mandate to plan their own works and untied funds to execute these works. No other scheme has placed funds at this scale (Rs 15 lakh per year on average) directly with Gram Panchayats.
  • MGNREGA has served as an important shock absorber for the rural economy by providing an important relief in times of distress eg distress situation created by drought .

Criticism

  • Corruption : workers not paid in full or forced to pay bribes to get jobs + ghost workers
  • Poor Quality Infrastructure : Roads and irrigation canals built by unskilled labour  are of very poor quality (₹ 3 trillion spent without tangible outcomes)  .
  • No attempt is made to impart skill among workers.
  • MGNREGA pushed up rural wages without having much of an impact on rural productivity
  • MGNREGA program has been found to distort labour markets
    • Construction companies complain that NREGA has affected the availability of labour  .
    • MGNREGA has contributed to farm labour shortage in states like Punjab & Haryana .

According to some experts whole ideology on which MGNREGA is based is flawed because it is trying to contain migration of labour. As B.R. Ambedkar pointed out nearly a hundred years ago, the real solution to rural distress is to be found in rapid industrialization as well as urbanization. Govt shouldn’t stop  time tested process of migration & instead provide more job facilities in urban centres.

Suggestions to improve

  • MGNREGA should have an intensified focus on marginalised communities in the most backward blocks
  • Emphasis  on skill development  
  • Act should  be linked with the Socio-Economic Caste Census to ensure better targeting. 
  • Fighting corruption through the use of IT and community-based accountability mechanisms
  • Suspend  the NREGA programme during peak farming periods
  • In order  to  create  the  productive  assets,  the  scheme  should  be  converged  with  related  programmes  in the department  of agriculture,  irrigation, animal  husbandry  and  road  transport.

Side Topic : Why  higher  women  participation  in  MGNREGA

Women  participation  in  the  flagship  rural  job  scheme  MGNREGA  has  clocked  around  51%  in financial  year  2015-16. 

  • Wage  differential:  in  informal  sector,  there  is  generally  greater  wage  differential  between man  and  women,  whereas  MGNREGA  provides  equal  wages
  • Work  near  to  home
  • Unskilled  work:  since  work  provided  in  MGNREGA  is  unskilled,  men  who  are  educated  or can  find  work  in  near-by  towns,  does  not  seek  work  and  women  from  household  take  part in  work.
  • Migration:  generally,  men    migrates  to  urban  areas,  leaving  women  behind who  in  turn  go  to  MGNREGA  
  • Work  place  facilities:  MGREGA  says  that  crèche  facility  must  be  made  available  at  worksite
  • Mobilisation  by  Self Help Groups  in  Kerala  and  other  organizations  in  Rajasthan.

This  show  that  if  equal  wages,  better  facilities  at  work,  working  facilities  closer  to  home  are  provided women  take  active  participation  in  work.  

Film Certification Issues

Film Certification Issues

This article deals with ‘Regulatory Bodies.’ This is part of our series on ‘Governance’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

Cases in news

2019 Nanak Shah Faqir certified by CBFC but not allowed to be screened in Punjab  
2018 Supreme Court in case related to Padmavat has laid down the law: Once a film has been cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), it has the right to state protection for screenings. States cannot suspend screenings citing law and order concerns. 
2017 Board refused to issue a film certificate to  Lipstick Under My Burkha (2017),  claiming film  portrayed a woman’s “fantasy above life” &  contained sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography that degraded the Indian culture. 

Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)

How CBFC work

  • CBFC was created under Cinematograph Act, 1952 & is a statutory body
  • Main function = regulate the exhibition of films
  • Headquartered in Mumbai
  • Central Government appoints  non-official members and a Chairman who constitute the Board 
  • CBFC has  nine Regional Offices  . 
  • Upon receiving an application for certification, relevant regional officer appoints an Examining Committee. Body assign each film to one of the four categories
    • U – Unrestricted public exhibition
    • A- Restricted to adults
    • UA –Unrestricted public exhibition (with word of caution that Parental discretion required for children below 12 years)
    • S – viewing by  special class of persons (for example: doctors)
  • If the applicant isn’t happy with the certification , he can apply to the Revising Committee
  • In case of persisting dissatisfaction ,  matter goes to independent Appellate Tribunal, whose members are appointed by I&B . Any further dispute goes to court.

Main Issues & Analysis

1 . Autonomy of CBFC

  • Cinematograph Act, 1952 empowers Central Government with overriding powers on censorship of films.
    • All members of CBFC including Chairman are appointed by and holds office “during the pleasure of the Central Government
    • Centre  can uncertify a film already certified.

2. Vagueness in language

  • Certification under Cinematograph Act, 1952 can be denied if it is against security of state, challenges sovereignty and integrity etc . All these are inline with restrictions on Freedom of Speech under Article 19(2)but  there is  no clause in Cinematograph Act that SC judgements on Article 19(2) should be kept in mind while making judgement. This create problem because CBFC interpret these terms vaguely and take upon itself the role of moral policing 

3. States overruling CBFC & Courts order

  • Even films with certificates have been stopped at the State level on a perceived threat to law and order. These include
    • Punjabi film Sadda Haq
    • Kamal Haasan’s Viswaroopam
    • Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan
    • Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela etc

4. Sticking only to Certification

  • CBFC does not always see itself as a certifying authority, but rather plays role of censor .
  • Even Shyam Benegal Report has suggested  that  CBFC should only certify a film.

Case for Censorship

A passage of a 1989 Supreme Court judgement (S. Rangarajan v P. Jagjivan Ram) says in part: “The combination of act and speech, sight and sound will have a strong impact on the minds of the viewers and can affect emotions. Therefore, it has potential for evil & Censorship by prior restraint is, therefore, not only desirable but also necessary.’’

Shyam Benegal Committee

Union Ministry of Information & Broadcasting constituted a committee headed by noted film-maker Shyam Benegal to look into revamping the film certification process by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

Committee submitted its recommendations . Most important among them were

  • CBFC should only be a film certification body
  • In case, film goes beyond relaxation under Article 19(2), CBFC can deny certification. But  CBFC will have to give proper explanation
  • Members of Regional Boards which are selected by government should instead be selected by bodies like Film Federation of India (FFI), National Commission of Women (NCW) , National Commission for protection of Child Rights etc
  • More Categories : CBFC should be more specific and apart from U category
    • UA Category can be broken up into further sub-categories – UA12+ & UA15+.
    • A category should also be sub-divided into A and AC (Adult with Caution) categories.
  • In order to preserve Indian Cinemaevery applicant be asked to deposit the Director’s Cut in the NFAI(National Film Archives of India)  for preservation of Indian Cinema, instead of the certified version
  • Out-of-turn certification may be permitted for which the applicant would have to pay 5 times the fee 

Problems

  • Still not clear that whether Supreme Court’s judgement will be kept in mind regarding  Article 19(2) 
  • Similar recommendations were earlier given by committees like  Justice  Mudgal Committee in 2012  but nothing came out after that. 

Way forward

Government should quit the arena of film certification and let the body setup by Industry decide film certification. This is the model in place in all the democracies. In US , rating system is overseen by an industry body (Motion Picture Association of America) & difference in the potential box-office earnings of films allows filmmakers to make decisions based on market logic

Cricket Governance

Cricket Governance

Following the spot match fixing scandal in IPL and the issue of extreme political interference in the working of BCCI, the Supreme Court (SC) had appointed a committee to look into the matter under the chairmanship of former CJI RM Lodha  The Committee suggested sweeping reforms in the troubled BCCI. 

2015 : Supreme Court appointed Lodha Committee to improve cricket administration in India.

Recommendations of Lodha Committee

Analysing Legalising Betting

July 2018 : Law Commission has reported to Government of India that since it is impossible to stop illegal gambling in India, the only viable option is to “regulate” it . Law Commission has recommended “cashless” gambling

  • Transaction between Gamblers to be linked to PAN & Aadhar card
  • Cap on number of gambling transactions
  • Regulations to protect vulnerable groups from exploitation

Present Law

  • The law— gambling is largely governed by the Public Gambling Act of 1867
  • Only  gambling in ‘games of chance’ is prohibited. Games of skill have no restriction. This distinction essentially means horse-racing is only sport in India in which gambling is legal. 

Other problem (legal)

  • Betting is a state subject — to legalise sports betting pan India,  each state have to make law legalising it separately .
  • A shorter route would be for the Council of States to pass a resolution stating that Parliament should legislate on sports betting in national interest.

Arguments that betting should be legalised

  • Gambling cant be eliminated and thrives underground . Hence, it is better to regulate it.
  • Taxing the gambling will generate revenue which can be used in public welfare measures (about ₹20,000 crore in tax revenue)
  • It will reduce money laundering
  • Western Nations have legalised it and results are good. We can take example from other countries & sports like betting on football is legal in UK and this has helped in making football Premier League more attractive & opportunity to fans to bid legally on their teams .
  • Gambling is not new to India and is part of Indian traditions.
    • Betting on Horse races already legal in India
    • Naradasamriti describes gambling as lawful amusement when carried in public gambling houses
    • Kautilya also says gambling should be done in regulated way

Arguments that betting shouldn’t be legalised

  • Not good especially in India due to huge poverty in India. Given the bitter results, many states have banned lottery in India, since poor people spend their money to test their fortune .
  • Gambling will lead to other social evils like alcoholism, drug abuse, sex trade etc .
  • Lessons learned from Mahabharata : Pandavas and teachings of Gandhi .
  • It’ll be very difficult for the government to curb illegal cricket betting as it is very efficient closed-door system (why to pay tax if underground betting provide same without paying tax) .
  • India can take example from Brazil where socio-economic situation is more like India . In  2014(near World Cup) Brazil realised it was missing out on a huge revenue generator, and  made betting legal . This led to gambling addiction, and even a rise in crime.
  • If cricket betting is legalised, there will be efforts to fix more games. It will be a nightmare for law enforcement agencies.

Jail Reforms

Jail Reforms

This article deals with ‘Jail Reforms.’ This is part of our series on ‘Governance’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

Introduction

  • Oct 2018 :  Supreme Court formed a committee on prison Reforms headed by former Supreme Court judge, Justice Amitava Roy. (But this is not the first time that such a body is being set up, example being the Justice A.N. Mulla committee )
  • June 2017 : murder of a women life convict in Byculla women’s prison over missing ration

Punjab Cases

  • March 2019 : IG PS Umranangal given special treatment in Jail in blatant violation of Punjab Jail Manual
  • Evergreen issue : periodic seizure of drugs and mobile phones from inmates
  • 2012 Bibi Jagir Kaur : Special treatment given to her in Kapurthala Modern Jail

Problems with Prison System

  • Overcrowding : occupancy rate at all-India level was 114 %
  • Jail Manual Problem
    • Outdated Jail Manuals prepared during Colonial Times.
    • Prison management is a state subject. Therefore, there are great variations in Prison manuals among different states.
  • Frequent cases of Custodial Deaths, Custodial Suicides & Custodial Rapes
  • Undertrials : Number of under-trials constitute 67% of total inmates (UK : 20%) with major reasons being lack of money to obtain bail or delay in trial. NHRC has called this a case of blatant Human Right violation 
  • Neglect of health and hygiene and giving Insufficient food and inadequate clothing
  • Focus on retributive justice rather than reformation and rehabilitation
  • Availability of drugs inside the prisons
  • Access to mobiles to prisoners to beat the communication protocol.
  • Influential prisoners get concessions  privileges and favourable exemptions like recent V.K. Shashikala Case (Tamil Nadu)
  • Difficulty of re-integration in Society : No Vocal Training and  psychological help given so that prisoners on release can re-integrate in society. Most of times, jails produce hardened criminals instead of reformed person

Solutions

  • Surveillance & Monitoring :
    • Supreme Court last year ordered to install CCTV cameras in all the prisons in the country.
  • Reforms in bail laws– so that bail remains a norm and jail an exception for all people not just rich and affluent. It will address problem of Overcrowding and Undertrials
    • May 2017 – Law Commission headed by Justice (Retd) BS Chauhan highlighted  once again that bail is the norm and jail the exception  but it’s application is limited to rich and affluent while people from lower socio-economic strata languish in jails. Commission recommended to make it easier for all those awaiting  trial to obtain bail
    • Law Commission has also recommended to Amend CrPC such that (268 Report, 2017)
      • Those detained for an offence that would attract up to seven years’ imprisonment be released on completing one-third of that period (currently , it is half)
      • those charged with offences attracting a longer jail term, after they complete half of that period.
      • For those who had spent the whole period as undertrials, the period undergone may be considered for remission.
  • Focus on reformation – provide them vocational training, employing them meaningfully after release, creating an open prison system for non-hard core criminals etc. should be tried
  • Upgradation and Uniformity in Manuals  –
  • Justice Mulla Committee suggested setting up of a National Prison Commission as a continuing body to bring about modernization of prisons in India.
  • Implement National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Guidelines to Custodial Deaths  : FIR should be filed and all cases must be reported  to the NHRC within 24 hours of their occurrence . Erring prison officials should be given exemplary punishment . 
  • Make Comprehensive anti-torture legislation – Even Supreme court has told government to consider passing a comprehensive anti-torture legislation
  • Reintegration within Society : Parivarthana programme taken up in Andhra Pradesh has proved to be a boon to prisoners to reform themselves and lead a dignified life after their release from jail. Under this, Parivarthana Centres have come up at district jail and sub-jails.
  • Option of Open Jails can also be considered which follows rehabilitative approach instead of retributive one.