[op-ed snap] Lessons from Bhutan

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Education reforms


CONTEXT

  • Bhutan’s teachers, doctors and other medical staff will earn more than civil servants of corresponding grades, if a policy recently announced by the country’s government is implemented. The new salary scales will benefit about 13,000 teachers and doctors.
  • No other country has accorded teachers and doctors such pride of place in its government service, both in terms of remuneration and symbolism. Remarkably, the proposal was announced by Bhutan’s Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, himself a qualified doctor — which suggests that professional experience informs the policy.

Analysis of initiative

  • The commission’s strategy to achieve desired national outcomes through education opens with the notation, “making teaching a profession of choice”.
  • The proposal then is evidently at the core of a larger governmental strategy to achieve the country’s human developmental objectives.
  • The decision also comes in the wake of high levels of teacher attrition, especially the best.
  • Intuiting the correlation, as Bhutan has, between attracting the best talent to a profession and the renumeration it potentially offers is easy.
  •  An independent study led by the economist, Peter Dolton, has demonstrated a distinct correlation between student outcomes in a country, as measured by PISA scores, and the status that its teachers enjoy.
  • The initiative’s latest report, Global Teacher Status Index 2018, based on its own surveys across 35 countries, goes on to make a strong case for high wages to improve teacher status.

The fiscal implications

  • Bhutan already spends about 7.5% of its GDP on education. The fiscal implications of the new salary structure are unclear now.
  • For instance, the Minister concerned in Tamil Nadu, one of India’s better performing States on educational indices, turned down demands of striking teachers for better pension explaining that wages, pensions, administrative costs and interest repayments already amounted to 71% of the State’s expenditure. He asserted it leaves little for other developmental programmes.

Can India afford a similar policy?

  • India currently spends about 3% of its GDP on education, accounting for about 10% of the Centre’s and States’ budgetary expenses.
  • The NITI Aayog in its report last year recommended that India raise this to 6% of GDP by 2022.
  • Paying teachers (and doctors) significantly higher salaries may seem like a tall order, but the Central and State governments could consider rationalising both teacher recruitment and allocation of funds to existing programmes.
  • Some programmes may have outlived their purpose, while others could be pared down or better directed.
  • In fact, improving accountability in the system could free up huge savings.

A mechanism to fix shortcomings

  • A World Bank study found that teacher absenteeism in India was nearly 24%, which costs the country about $1.5 billion annually.
  • Absenteeism could be the result of many factors, including teachers taking up a second job or farming to boost incomes, providing parental or nursing care in the absence of support systems, or lacking motivation.
  • The incentive of an enviable income which is girded with unsparing accountability could mitigate many ills that plague the system, free fiscal space and help meet important national developmental objectives.
  • Case study of Delhi – Piloting a policy of such consequence may also be easier in a smaller State, say Delhi.
  • Education is a key focus area for the Delhi government; the State invests 26% of its annual budget in the sector (much more than the national average).
  • The administration has also worked on improving teacher motivation as a strategy for better educational outcomes.
  • The base has been set. The political leadership in the State, which is unafraid of the bold and big in the social sector, could build on this.
  • Moreover, since the State is highly urban and well-connected, it would be easier to enforce accountability measures, which must underpin so heavy an expenditure.

Conclusion

  • Ultimately, no investment that enables an educated, healthy, responsible and happy community can be deemed too high by any society.
  • The short-term GDP-minded would do well to consider these words in OECD’s ‘Education at a Glance 2018’ report: “The quality of education can be a strong predictor of a country’s economic prosperity.
  • Shortfalls in academic achievement are extremely costly, as governments must then find ways to compensate for them, and ensure the social and economic welfare of all.
  •  Governments intent on improving the quality of education they offer must step out of incrementalism in policy-making.
  • Improving teacher status by offering top notch salaries to attract the best to the profession could be that revolutionary policy-step forward, which Bhutan has shown a willingness to take.

[op-ed snap] Miles to go: self-care medical interventions

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Improvement in self care interventions


CONTEXT

Self-care, which mostly happens outside the formal health system, is nothing new. What has changed is the deluge of new diagnostics, devices and drugs that are transforming the way common people access care, when and where they need them.

The relevance of self-care health interventions

  • With the ability to prevent disease, maintain health and cope with illness and disability with or without reliance on health-care workers, self-care interventions are gaining more importance.
  • Millions of people, including in India, face the twin problems of acute shortage of healthcare workers and lack of access to essential health services.
  • According to the World Health Organization, which has released self-help guidelines for sexual and reproductive health, over 400 million across the world already lack access to essential health services and there will be a shortage of about 13 million health-care workers by 2035.

Meaning of self help health care

  • Self-help would mean different things for people living in very diverse conditions.
  • While it would mean convenience, privacy and ease for people belonging to the upper strata who have easy access to healthcare facilities anytime, for those living in conditions of vulnerability and lack access to health care, self-help becomes the primary, timely and reliable form of care.
  • Not surprisingly, the WHO recognises self-care interventions as a means to expand access to health services.
  • Soon, the WHO would expand the guidelines to include other self-care interventions, including for prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases.

The situation of self help health care in India

  • India has some distance to go before making self-care interventions for sexual and reproductive health freely available to women.
  • Home-based pregnancy testing is the most commonly used self-help diagnostics in this area in India.
  • Interventions include self-managed abortions using approved drugs — morning-after pills taken soon after unprotected sex, and mifepristone and misoprostol taken a few weeks into pregnancy — that can be had without the supervision of a healthcare provider. 
  • While the morning-after pills are available over the counter, mifepristone and misoprostol are scheduled drugs and need a prescription from a medical practitioner, thus defeating the very purpose of the drugs.
  • The next commonly consumed drug to prevent illness and disease is the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention.
  • India is yet to come up with guidelines for PrEP use and include it in the national HIV prevention programme.
  • Despite the WHO approving the HIV self-test to improve access to HIV diagnosis in 2016, the Pune-based National AIDS Research Institute is still in the process of validating it for HIV screening

Conclusion

One of the reasons why people shy away from getting tested for HIV is stigma and discrimination. The home-based testing provides privacy. India has in principle agreed that rapid HIV testing helps to get more people diagnosed and opt for treatment, reducing transmission rates.

Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Explained: Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN)

Mains Paper 1 : Population & Associated Issues |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RIIN, ILP

Mains level : Citizenship issue in Nagaland


News

  • Four years after Assam started revising the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Nagaland government has initiated a move to implement its own version of citizenship register, albeit only for indigenous communities of the state.

Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN)

  • The Government of Nagaland has decided to set up a Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) with the aim of preventing fake indigenous inhabitants’ certificates.
  • The RIIN will be the master list of all indigenous inhabitants of the state.

How will the list be prepared?

  • The RIIN list will be based on “an extensive survey”.
  • It will involve official records of indigenous residents from rural and (urban) wards and would be prepared under the supervision of the district administration.
  • The preparation of the list will start from July 10, 2019, and the whole process will be completed within 60 days from the start.
  • Designated teams of surveyors will be formed within seven days from the date of publication of the notification, and thereafter these teams will be sent across each village and ward.
  • The database will note each family’s original residence, current residence as well as the concerned Aadhaar

What is the review procedure?

  • Respondents will be given an opportunity to make their case before the authorities.
  • Eventually, respective Dy. Commissioners will adjudicate on the claims and objections based on official records and the evidence produced.
  • This process will be completed before December 10, 2019.

Unique identity through Indigenous Inhabitant Certificate

  • Based on the adjudication and verification, a list of indigenous inhabitants will be finalised and each person will be given a unique ID.
  • The final list or the RIIN will be created and its copies will be placed in all villages and ward.
  • Electronic copies of the list will also be stored in the State Data Centre. A mechanism or electronic and SMS-based authentication will be put in place.
  • All indigenous inhabitants of the state would be issued a barcoded and numbered Indigenous Inhabitant Certificate.
  • The process will be conducted across Nagaland and will be done as part of the online system of Inner Line Permit (ILP), which is already in force in Nagaland.

The Inner Line Permit (ILP)

  • ILP is an official travel document required by Indian citizens residing outside certain “protected” states while entering them.
  • The ILP is issued by the Govt. of India and is obligatory for all those who reside outside the protected states.
  • With the ILP, the government aims to regulate movement to certain areas located near the international border of India.
  • ILP’s origin dates back to the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873, which protected the British Crown’s interest in tea, oil and elephant trade.
  • It prohibited “British subjects” or Indians from entering into these protected areas.
  • After Independence, in 1950, the word “British subjects” was replaced by Citizens of India and the focus of the ban on free movement was explained as a bid to protect tribal cultures in northeastern India.

How will be the process monitored?

  • The entire exercise will be monitored by the Commissioner of Nagaland.
  • In addition, the state government will designate nodal officers of the rank of a Secretary to the state government. Their role will be to monitor the implementation.
  • However, they will have no say in the adjudication process.
  • The nodal officers will submit monthly reports of their visits and their assessments to a permanent committee set up under the Home Department to monitor the whole exercise.

How will the RIIN be updated?

  • Once the RIIN is finalised, no fresh indigenous inhabitant certificates will be issued except to newborn babies born to the indigenous inhabitants of Nagaland.
  • In case anyone who is left out of the RIIN, he/she will need to file an application before Home Commissioner who will get the matter verified and take necessary action for updating the RIIN if needed.
Citizenship and Related Issues

J&K Reservation Bill

Mains Paper 2 : Federalism |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Art. 370

Mains level : Row over Art. 370


News

  • Recently Rajya Sabha has passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Bill.
  • Passed by Lok Sabha last week, the Bill partially amends a Presidential Order of 1954 in order to amend the state’s Reservation Act.

About the Bill

  • The Bill amends the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004 and replaces an Ordinance promulgated on March 1, 2019.
  • The earlier Act provided for reservation in appointment and promotions in state government posts, and admission to professional institutions for certain reserved categories.
  • The Act provides for reservation in appointment and promotions in certain state government posts to persons belonging to socially and educationally backward classes.
  • It defines socially and educationally backward classes to include persons living in areas adjoining the Actual Line of Control.

Amendments to the Bill

  • With the constitutional amendments, the benefits of reservation available to the residents along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) have been extended to residents living along the International Border (IB).
  • This benefits residents in Jammu, Samba and Kathua.
  • Through the Presidential Order, the Cabinet applied the 77th Constitutional Amendment of 1995 to J&K, giving benefits of reservation in promotion to SCs and STs in government service.
  • The Cabinet also applied the 103rd Constitutional Amendment of 2019 to J&K, which gave 10% reservation to Economically Weaker Sections among people in the general category.

What is the 1954 executive order?

  • The 1954 order is an executive order issued by the President under Article 370 to extend provisions of an Act of Parliament to J&K State, which can be done only with the concurrence of the state government.
  • The Constitution of India applies to Jammu & Kashmir by virtue of Article 370, which provides a mechanism for the way it applies.
  • Article 370 defines state government as ‘the Maharaja’ and/or the ‘Sadar-i-Riyasat’ aided by a council of ministers.

Then what is the controversy?

  • At the centre of the controversy is the question whether the Governor, in the absence of an elected government, has the authority to give consent to extend a law of Parliament and change the constitutional arrangement between J&K and the Union.
  • While bringing the ordinance, the Union govt. said the amendments were recommended by the State Administrative Council (SAC) headed by J&K Governor.
  • While no one in J&K has opposed the decision to provide benefits to SCs, STs and EWS, there has been opposition to the route taken by the Centre and its nominee the J&K Governor.
  • It is accused that Union Govt. “breached” Article 370 while issuing the amendment to the 1954 Presidential Order.

Issue with Governor’s authority

  • The issue of the Governor’s powers was defined by the Supreme Court in Mohammad Maqbool Damnoo versus State of J&K (1972).
  • While dealing with the replacement of an elected Sadr-i-Riyasat with the Centre-appointed Governor, the court observed that a Governor is “head of government aided by a council of ministers”.
  • It is not as if the state government, by such a change (replacing elected Sadr-i-Riyasat with Centre-appointed Governor) is made irresponsible to the state legislature.

Arguments by regional parties

  • One of the main regional parties has challenged the amendment to the Presidential Order of 1954.
  • The regional parties contend that “concurrence” means the concurrence of an elected government, and not that of a nominated government.
  • Elected govt. is a must for any amendment to the Presidential Order of 1954, and that this is thus in contravention of Article 370.
  • They contend that the government means an elected government and that the President cannot seek concurrence of the Governor because “the Governor is a representative of the President”.
J&K – The issues around the state

Japan resumes commercial whaling after 31 years

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IWC

Mains level : Mandate of IWC


News

  • Japan has resumed commercial whaling after 31 years, meeting a long-cherished goal of traditionalists that’s seen as a largely lost cause.
  • Japan’s six-month notice to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission took effect.

Background

  • Some countries under the umbrella of scientific research are continuously killing the whales and selling meat and producing whale oil, which has brought various whales under the category of endangered species and are vanishing day by day.
  • Japan, Iceland and Norway are some of the countries recorded with largest number of commercial whaling.
  • Japan was an IWC member since 1951.

Reasons for Japan’s Withdrawal

  • Japan has been practicing commercial whale hunting for past 30 years under a scientific programme, granted as an exception under the IWC ban.
  • Small-scale whaling is traditional in some parts of Japan, but whale meat was only ever popular in the postwar period.
  • Japan has used whales not only as a source of protein but also for a variety of other purposes.
  • Engagement in whaling has been supporting local communities, and thereby developed the life and culture of using whales.

Why whale meat?

  • Whale meat was an affordable source of protein during the lean times after World War II, with consumption peaking at 223,000 tons in 1962.
  • But whale was quickly replaced by other meats.
  • Whale meat consumption was down to 6,000 tons in 1986, a year before the commercial whaling moratorium imposed by the IWC.

Back2Basics

International Whaling Commission (IWC)

  • The IWC is an Inter-Governmental Organisation set up by the terms of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) signed in Washington, D.C in 1946.
  • It aims to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry.
  • The main duty of the IWC is to keep under review and revise as necessary the measures laid down in the Schedule to the Convention which govern the conduct of whaling throughout the world.
  • The body is the first piece of International Environmental Legislation established in 1946.
  • Commercial whaling was banned by the IWC in 1986 after some species were almost driven to extinction.
  • 89 countries have the membership of in IWC and all the member countries are signatories to this convention.
  • India is a member state of the IWC.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

“Sanchay Jal, Behtar Kal” Campaign

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sanchay Jal Behtar Kal Campaign

Mains level : Importance of Water Harvesting


News

  • Rolling out its water conservation plan under the Jal Shakti Abhiyan, the Centre said it would focus its time-bound, mission-mode campaign on 1,592 “water-stressed” blocks in 257 districts.

Sanchay Jal, Behtar Kal Campaign

  • It is a campaign for rainwater harvesting and water conservation.
  • The plan would rely largely on mass awareness programmes.
  • It will also involve focused implementation and convergence of existing water conservation schemes under the NREGS, Integrated Watershed Management Programme, and PMKSY’s per-drop-more-crop (micro-irrigation) programme.
  • The five targeted interventions would include water conservation and rainwater harvesting, renovation of traditional and other water bodies/ tanks, re-use and borewell recharge structures, watershed development, and intensive afforestation.

Why such move?

  • India’s water availability is estimated to decline to 1,341 cubic meter per capita per year by 2025 (from 5,177 cubic meter per capita per year in 1951).
  • But there are also examples of states such as Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat and others that have undertaken efforts to resolve it.
  • The United Nations, under its sustainable development goals, expects all countries to provide clean drinking water to every household by 2030.
  • At present, only 8% of the total rainwater in the country is harvested — one of the many reasons why it needs to become a people’s movement.
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

India-assisted IT-biotech park inaugurated in Cote d’Ivoire

Mains Paper 3 : Effects Of Liberalization On The Economy, Changes In Industrial Policy and their effects on Industrial Growth |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the FTZ, Location details of Cote de Ivory

Mains level : India's trade relation with Africa



News

  • The Mahatma Gandhi IT and Biotechnology Park in Cote d’Ivoire, a dedicated free trade zone built with India’s assistance to build development capacities, has been inaugurated.

Mahatma Gandhi IT and Biotechnology Park (MGIT-BP)

  • MGIT-BP is a dedicated Free Trade Zone (FTZ) for IT and Biotechnology.
  • The inauguration of the project is an important milestone in 150th anniversary celebration of birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • The MGIT-BP is being built with India’s assistance through EXIM Bank Lines of Credit of USD 20 million.
  • The MGIT-BP project consists of two parts firstly, architectural concept and design for the buildings of FTZ and construction of main building to host IT enterprises.
  • It has Computer Assembly Plant, VSAT with Satellite Earth Station, Networking Lab, Human DNA Lab, Data Storage Area Network, an Audio-Visual Lab and a power generator.

What are FTZ?

  • A free-trade zone (FTZ) is a class of special economic zone.
  • It is a geographic area where goods may be landed, stored, handled, manufactured or reconfigured and re-exported under specific customs regulation and generally not subject to customs duty.
  • Free trade zones are generally organized around major seaports, international airports, and national frontiers—areas with many geographic advantages for trade.
  • The World Bank defines free trade zones as “in, duty-free areas, offering warehousing, storage, and distribution facilities for trade, transshipment, and re-export operations.”
Trade Sector Updates – Falling Exports, TIES, MEIS, Foreign Trade Policy, etc.

[pib] Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan

Mains level : Not Much



News

  • Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan is running successfully to motivate children to learn Science, Maths and Technology through observation and experimentation confirmed HRD Minister.

Rashtriya Aavishkar Abhiyan (RAA)

  • Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan is a unique concept developed by the Ministry of HRD that aims to inculcate a spirit of inquiry, creativity and love for Science and Mathematics in school children.
  • It was launched on 9th July, 2015 by Late Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Former President of India.
  • It is a convergent framework across School Education and Higher Education to motivate children of the age group from 6-18 years in learning Science, Mathematics and Technology.
  • It focuses on learning through observation, experimentation, inference drawing, model building, etc. both through inside and outside classroom activities and processes.
  • It seeks to create curiosity, excitement and spirit of innovation and exploration amongst school children.
  • It encourages higher education institutions to become Mentoring Institutions and assist secondary and elementary schools in the study of Science and Mathematics.
Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes