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1. Non-Communicable Diseases

1.1. Findings of the report

Steps taken Globally

  • The Moscow Declaration adopted during the First Global Ministerial Conference on Healthy Lifestyles and Non-communicable Disease Control in 2011 stressed on the need of a multi-sectoral approach.

  • Member States of WHO have adopted and taken action on a number of interventions such as Global Action Plan for Prevention and Control of NCDs (2013-2020), the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the Global Strategy on Diet Physical Activity and Health etc.

  • WHO’s Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 to strengthen and integrate mental health prevention and prevention services.

  • The WHO Mental Health Atlas to provide a comprehensive, longitudinal, monitoring of the mental health system performance.

  • Adoption of an Outcome Document at the UN General Assembly in 2014, which included four time-bound commitments for implementation in 2015 and 2016. The commitments include setting national NCD targets, developing a national plan, reducing risk factors for NCDs and strengthening health systems to respond to NCDs.

  • In 2015, a specific NCD target within SDG target 3.4 was adopted which is a one-third reduction of premature NCD mortality by 2030 through prevention and treatment of NCDs and the promotion of mental health and well-being.

  • In 2017, the Montevideo Roadmap 2018–2030 on NCDs as a Sustainable Development Priority was adopted by Member States at the WHO Global Conference on NCDs.

  • 25x25 strategy where Member States agreed to a 25% reduction in premature NCD mortality by 2025.

  • NCDs and mental disorders currently pose one of the biggest threats to health and development globally, particularly in the developing world. The risk of dying prematurely from an NCD in a low or lower-middle income country is almost double that in high-income country.

  • NCDs affect the people around the world at all stages of the life course, from childhood to old age. Obesity, including in children, is increasing in all countries, with the most rapid rises occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

  • Most of the premature death is due to four NCDs —cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes. Many other NCDs, such as neurological, skin, genetic disorders, disabilities etc., are closely associated with these four major NCDs.

  • Although the number of premature deaths has risen in the years 2000 to 2015, the probability of dying from any one of the four major NCDs is declining due to

  • A growing younger population aged 30 to 70 years.

  • Falling mortality in two categories, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases.

  • The global rate of decline in NCDs death was 17% between 2000 and 2015. However it is still not enough to meet the target of a one-third reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2030, as specified in SDG target 3.4.

  • There is increasing evidence about the role of indoor and outdoor air pollution, with its links to urbanization, in the development of NCDs.

  • Mental disorders: Depression alone affects 300 million people globally and is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Nearly 800,000 people die from suicide every year. People with severe mental disorders have a reduced life expectancy of 10 to 20 years, largely owing to lack of treatment.

Challenges

  • Failure in converting their Commitments: into legislative and regulatory measures sustained investments, or in financing for NCD programmes consistently. This will have enormous health, economic, and societal consequences in all countries.

  • Capacity building: Many countries do not have the requisite technical expertise, resources, research capacity, and data to address NCD challenges

  • Mental disorders are too often not included in basic UHC packages: It leads to an exceptionally large gap in treatment.

  • Ageing population: The growing trend of population ageing has enormous ramifications for the prevention and management of NCDs.

  • Vicious cycle of poverty and NCDs: NCDs and their risk factors worsen poverty, while poverty, isolation, marginalization, and discrimination contribute to rising rates of NCDs, poses a threat to public health and socio-economic development.

  • Other challenges: Weak health systems, inadequate access, and lack of prevention and health promotion services and evidence-based interventions and medicines are other challenges to each country’s path towards UHC in line with its national context and priorities.

1.2 Recommendations

  • Leadership and responsibility: Heads of state and government and not just Ministers of Health should be involved in overseeing while political leaders at all levels should take responsibility for comprehensive local actions.

  • Prioritizing interventions: within the overall NCD and mental health agenda, based on public health needs. For e.g. comprehensive tobacco control, comprehensive cardiovascular prevention and treatment programmes etc.

  • Re-orienting health systems: to ensure that the national UHC public benefit package includes NCD and mental health services, strengthen primary health services to ensure suitable coverage and synergise existing chronic-care platforms to jumpstart NCD and mental health care.

  • Collaborate and regulate: Governments should increase engagement with the private sector, academia, civil society, and communities, building on a whole-of-society approach to NCDs, and share experiences and challenges, including policy models that work.

  • Finance: Governments and the international community should develop a new economic paradigm for funding action on NCDs and mental health. The percentage of national budgets allocated to health, health promotion, and essential public health functions should be increased.

  • Strengthen accountability of government to their citizens: for action on NCDs. Also, WHO should simplify the existing NCD accountability mechanism and establish clear tracking for the highest impact programmes that can lead to achievement of SDG target 3.4.

2. National Health Profile-2018

2.1 About National Health Profile

  • Objective of this annual publication is to create a database of health information of India which is comprehensive, up-to-date and easily accessible to all stakeholders in the healthcare sector.

  • National Health Profile covers- o Demographic information,

  • Socio-economic information,

  • Health status

  • Health finance indicators,

  • Comprehensive information on health infrastructure and human resources in health.

  • It is prepared by Central Bureau of Health Intelligence.

  • Health Profile is an important tool as it has helped in designing various programmes and benefitted many initiatives like Free Drugs and Diagnostics and Mission Parivar Vikas.

2.2 About National Health Resource Repository (NHRR)

  • It is the first ever registry in India of authentic, standardised and updated geo-spatial data of all public and private healthcare.

  • ISRO is the project technology partner for providing data security.

  • It aims to strengthen evidence-based decision making and develop a platform for citizens and provider-centric services by secured Information Technology (IT)-enabled repository of India’s healthcare resources.

  • It seeks to promote meaningful use of data collection and exchange services for better healthcare management by providing a common platform for sharing information.

  • It shall enable advanced research towards ongoing & forthcoming healthcare challenges arising from other determinants of health like – disease, environment etc.

  • It shall also enhance the coordination between central and state government for optimization of health resources, and decentralize the decision making at district and state level.

  • It shall promote convergence between similar programmes by providing interoperability.

  • It also seeks to furnish standardized data, distribution of resources and trends on the global platform, using regularly updated health status indicators.

3. Nutrition Security

Background

  • This is an annual report jointly prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

  • UNICEF and WHO have joined for the first time.

  • For the first time, this year’s report provides two measures of food insecurity: o prevalence of undernourishment (PoU),

  • prevalence of severe food insecurity based on Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES). This is a new tool based on direct interviews to measure people's ability to access food.

  • The report assesses the trends for six nutrition indicators, including three SDG 2 indicators of child malnutrition (stunting, wasting and overweight) and three World Health Assembly (WHA) indicators (Anaemia in women of reproductive age, exclusive breastfeeding in first 6 months and low birth weight) .

  • The focus of this year's report is on the nexus between SDG 2 and SDG 16 - that is, between conflict, food security and peace.

  • The report shows how conflict affects food security and nutrition, and how improved food security and more-resilient rural livelihoods can prevent conflict and contribute to lasting peace.

3.1 Key messages of the report

  • Rise in undernourishment: The number of chronically undernourished people in the world is estimated to have increased to 815 million in 2016 from 777 million in 2015. After a prolonged decline (900 million in 2000), this recent increase could signal a reversal of trends.

  • Stunting: Though there is fall in stunting, 155 million children under five years of age suffer from stunted growth globally.

  • Wasting: It affects one in twelve (52 million or 8%) of all children under five years of age in 2016, more than half of whom (27.6 million) live in Southern Asia.

  • Coexistence of multiple malnutrition: under-nutrition among children, anaemia among women, and adult obesity have been found simultaneously. o In 2016, 41 million children under five years of age were overweight.

  • Areas affected: Parts of sub-Saharan Africa, South-Eastern Asia and Western Asia is worst affected, and deterioration is observed in situations of conflict and conflict combined with droughts or floods/climate (due to El Nino and La Nina) related shocks.

  • An estimated 489 million of 815 million undernourished people and an estimated 122 million of 155 million stunted children live in countries affected by conflict.

  • Africa has the highest levels of severe food insecurity reaching 27.4 % of the population - almost four times that of any other region in 2016.

  • In Asia, the prevalence of severe food insecurity decreased slightly between 2014 and 2016, from 7.7 to 7.0 % overall, driven mainly by the reduction observed in Central Asia and Southern Asia.

  • The prevalence of food insecurity was slightly higher among women at the global level as well as in every region of the world.

  • Addressing food insecurity and malnutrition in conflict-affected situations requires immediate humanitarian assistance, long-term development and sustaining peace.

How does Conflict affect food security and nutrition?

  • Conflict can cause deep economic recessions, drive up inflation, disrupt employment and erode finances for social protection and health care, to the detriment of the availability and access of food in markets and so

  • UN's assessment of India between 2014-16

  • 14.5% of the total population is undernourished

  • 21.5% Children under five suffer from wasting in 2016.

  • 38.5% children under five are stunted

  • 51.4% women of reproductive age are anaemic

  • Obesity among adults has reached 3.6% and is increasing.

  • Exclusive breastfeeding has increased rapidly and around 64.9% children are exclusively breast fed for first six months.

3.2. Reasons behind such a scenario:

  • Insufficient intake of both macro and micro-nutrients cause malnourishment. Since food security in India is primarily focussed on providing rice and wheat only, the diet lacks other essential nutrients and results into stunting etc.

  • Only 17% children achieved a minimum level of diet diversity.

  • Acute food insecurity in tribal and rural households is due to a loss of their traditional dependence on forest livelihood and the State’s deepening agrarian crisis.

  • Systemic issues and a weaknesses in public nutrition programmes have aggravated the problem e.g. many of the tribal families do not receive rations (through public distribution system) because they do not have a ration card.

  • The nutrition expenditure as a percentage of the Budget has drastically declined in many states. damaging health and nutrition.

  • The impact on food systems can be severe if the economy and people’s livelihoods rely significantly on agriculture, as the effects can be felt across the food- value chain, including production, harvesting, processing, transportation, financing and marketing.

  • Conflict undermines resilience and often forces individuals and households to engage in increasingly destructive and irreversible coping strategies that threaten their future livelihoods, food security and nutrition.

Can food insecurity and under-nutrition trigger conflict?

  • According to WFP, undernourishment is one of the important determinants of the incidences of armed conflict, and that when coupled with poverty, food insecurity increases the likelihood and intensity of armed conflict.

  • In countries with low socio-economic indicators - such as higher rates of child

  • mortality, poverty, food insecurity and undernutrition - there is a higher risk of conflict.

  • Sharp increase in food prices tend to exacerbate the risk of political unrest and conflict, as witnessed between 2007-08 and 2011 when food riots broke out in more than 40 countries (Arab Spring).

  • A severe drought tends to threaten local food security and aggravate humanitarian conditions, which in turn can trigger large-scale human displacement and create a breeding ground for igniting or prolonging conflicts as seen in Syrian civil war.

  • Competition for natural resources can be detrimental to the food security of vulnerable rural households, potentially culminating in conflict as seen in Darfur and in greater horn of Africa.

Gender dimensions involved in food security and nutrition in conflict zones

  • Men and women often have different roles and responsibilities in securing adequate food and nutrition at the household level. Conflicts tend to alter gender roles and social norms.

  • The engagement of men in conflict puts greater responsibility in the hands of women in sustaining the livelihood of the household, including for the access to food, nutrition and health care of household members.

  • Conflict situations often are characterized by increased sexual violence, mostly targeted at women.

  • In crisis situations and among refugees, one in every five women of childbearing age is likely to be pregnant. Conflicts put these women and their babies at increased risk if health-care systems falter and their food security situation deteriorates.

  • Rural women often have less access to resources and income, which makes them more vulnerable and hence more likely to resort to riskier coping strategies which may affect their health and eventually of entire household.

  • Conflict leads to increased female labour participation particularly in low skilled work which may expose them to unsafe and insecure labour conditions.

  • Child labour in its worst forms are seen during times of conflict.

  • Shifting gender roles can also have beneficial effects on household welfare. Where women gain more control of resources, household food consumption tends to increase and child nutrition improve. Their economic empowerment may further give them greater voice in household and community decision-making as seen in Somalia, Colombia, Nepal etc.

Way-forward

  • Prevent conflict through addressing its root and immediate causes such as economic exclusion, extractive or predatory institutions, inequitable social services, access to and use of natural resources, food insecurity, and climatic disasters.

  • Timely intervention by government and humanitarian organisations.

  • Scaling up social protection, Cash-for-work and food-for-assets programmes, creating or rehabilitating critical productive infrastructure, such as roads or irrigation systems.

  • Farmers displaced by conflict can be trained in new livelihood skills, with which they can earn an income in camp settings.

  • In pastoralist regions, watering points can be built in safe areas to avoid the risk of leading livestock into conflict zones.

  • Support can be provided to internally displaced people, refugees and ex-combatants for returning home and resuming productive activities, for example, by providing seeds, tools, livestock, or skills training.

4. Who Releases New Global Classification Of Diseases

About Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS)

  • Launched in October 2015, it is being developed to support the global action plan on antimicrobial resistance.

  • It is aimed at supporting global surveillance and research in order to strengthen the evidence base on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and help informed decision-making and drive national, regional, and global actions.

  • It promotes and supports a standardized approach to the collection, analysis and sharing of AMR data at a global level by encouraging and facilitating the establishment of national AMR surveillance systems that are capable of monitoring AMR trends and producing reliable and comparable data.

Objectives of GLASS:

  • Foster national surveillance systems and harmonized global standards;

  • estimate the extent and burden of AMR globally by selected indicators;

  • analyse and report global data on AMR on a regular basis;

  • detect emerging resistance and its international spread;

  • inform implementation of targeted prevention and control programmes; and

  • assess the impact of interventions.

4.1. About ICD

  • The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is a common language used all over the world by researchers and policy makers as a reference for data, whereas doctors and other medical practitioners use it to diagnose disease and other conditions.

  • The ICD serves as a foundation for identifying global health trends and is used by health insurers whose reimbursements depend on ICD coding.

4.2. Significant features of ICD- 11

  • It is an advance preview to allow countries to plan how to use the new revision, prepare translations, and train health professionals. The new ICD will be presented at the World Health Assembly in May 2019 for adoption by member states and will go into effect from January 2022.

  • Includes more codes: The new edition carries about 55,000 codes for injuries, diseases and causes of death, more than the 10th edition that had 14,400 codes.

  • More closely reflects the progress in medicine and advances in scientific understanding: the codes relating to antimicrobial resistance in the new ICD are more closely aligned with the Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS) (box).

  • Better captures data regarding healthcare safety, meaning it will help identify and reduce unnecessary events that may harm health, including unsafe workflows in hospitals. It also uses for the first time an electronic and user friendly format.

  • Inclusion of new chapters, including ones on traditional medicine and sexual health. While traditional medicine has not been classified in this system until now, the chapter on sexual health brings together conditions that were previously categorized in other ways (for instance gender incongruence was earlier listed under mental health condition).

  • Gaming Disorder: The WHO also added gaming disorder to the section on addictive disorders. Gaming addiction pushes all other activities to the periphery affecting personal, familial, social, educational and occupational functioning and can lead to disturbed sleep patterns, diet problems and lack of physical activities.

5. Draft Higher Education Commission Of India (Heci) Bill, 2018

5.1 Challenges in Higher Education in India

  • Enrolment: The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of India in higher education is only 25.2% which is quite low as compared to the developed as well as, other developing countries. With the increase of enrolments at school level, the supply of higher education institutes is insufficient to meet the growing demand in the country.

  • Equity: According to various studies the GER in higher education in India among male and female varies to a greater extent and there are regional variations too.

  • Quality: Still Large number of colleges and universities in India are unable to meet the minimum requirements laid down by the UGC and our universities are not in a position to mark its place among the top universities of the world.

  • Faculty: Faculty shortages and the inability of the state educational system to attract and retain well qualified teachers have been posing challenges to quality education for many years. There are 40 per cent vacancies of faculty members in central universities.

  • Infrastructure: Poor infrastructure is another challenge to the higher education system of India particularly the institutes run by the public sector.

  • Political interference: Most of the educational Institutions are owned by the political leaders, who are playing key role in governing bodies of the Universities.

  • Structure of higher education: Management of the Indian education faces challenges of overcentralisation, bureaucratic structures and lack of accountability, transparency, and professionalism.

  • Regulation issues: The existing regulatory structure (represented by UGC) requires redefinition based on changing priorities of higher education

  • Multiple regulatory bodies such as UGC, AICTE, MCI etc with overlapping jurisdiction and grey areas exist.

  • Regulatory and grants/funds-giving roles are mixed up.

  • Excessive and restrictive regulation and lack of institutional autonomy exist.

  • To enhance quality of education in higher educational institutions and for its uniform development, there is a need for creation of a Body that lays down uniform standards, and ensures maintenance of the same through systematic monitoring and promotion

Arguments in favour of the bill

  • The fund-granting process of the UGC and the technical education regulator — All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) — has been plagued with allegations of corruption and inefficiency.

  • The separation of grant functions will help HECI to focus only on academic matters.

  • UGC has been criticised in the past, especially for what has been seen as its restrictive regime. The Professor Yash Pal committee and Hari Gautam committee recommended an education regulator to rid the higher education sector of red tape.

  • HECI could mark the end of "Inspection Raj". HECI will specify norms and standards to establish, commence or wind up academic operations of an HEI using an online e-governance module. The effectivity of the body will increase through transparent public disclosures, merit-based decision making on matters regarding standards and quality in higher education.

  • The power to ensure compliance will help in improving standards/quality of the higher educational institutions (HEI).

  • The advisory council with the head of all state councils for higher education as its members would also provide larger opportunity to States which so far had a negligible role in the formulation of higher education policy.

  • Encouraging HEIs to establish code of good practices covering promotion of research, teaching and learning is futuristic.

Criticism against the bill

  • Since UGC has been established through an Act of Parliament, it should have been discussed within the parliament and with the academicians on how to improve it first, before deciding upon its replacement.

  • Transferring all financial powers from the UGC to the MHRD would amount to imposing direct state control over higher education institutions. This

  • shift in financial control to the Ministry could be used for regimentation of knowledge

  • The bill talks about promoting autonomy. Several institutions have opposed autonomy as it is a route towards commercialisation and increased marginalisation or complete exclusion of students from socially oppressed and economically weaker sections.

  • The powers to authorise, monitor, shut down, lay down norms for graded autonomy or standards for performance-based incentivisation, and even recommend disinvestment from higher education institutions have been made unilateral and absolute.

  • With its mandate of improving academic standards with a specific focus on learning outcomes, evaluation of academic performance by institutions, and training of teachers, the HECI is likely to overregulate and micromanage universities.

  • The proposed draft has drastically reduced the presence of teachers in the body. UGC has 4 teacher members out of total 10 members, while the HECI has only 2 teacher members out of total 12 members.

6. Indecent Representation Of Women (Prohibition) Act (Irwa), 1986

Background

  • Government enacted the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (IRWA), 1986 to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements, publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner, in response to the demand by the women’s movement for a legislative action against the derogatory depiction of women in India.

  • Under the Act, the term “indecent representation” has been defined in Section 2(c) as the depiction in any manner of the figure of a woman, her form or body or any part thereof in such a way as to have the effect of being indecent, or derogatory to, denigrating, women, or is likely to deprave, corrupt or injure the public morality or morals.

  • Since then, technological revolution has resulted in the development of new forms of communication, such as internet, multi-media messaging, cable television, over-the-top (OTT) services and applications e.g. Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, Chat On, Snapchat, Instagram etc.

  • Hence, the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2012 was introduced in Rajya Sabha in December, 2012 which referred the Bill to Department related Parliament Standing Committee for consideration

6.1 Amendments Proposed

  • The amendments proposed based on the observations made by Parliamentary standing committee on Human Resource Development and recommendations from the National Commission for Women (NCW) are:

  • Widening the definition of following terms:

  • Advertisement to include digital form or electronic form or hoardings, or through SMS, MMS etc.

  • Indecent representation of women to mean the depiction of the figure or form of a woman in such a way that it has the effect of being indecent or derogatory or is likely to deprave or affect public morality.

  • Electronic form means any information generated, sent or stored in media, magnetic and optical form (as defined in the Information Technology Act, 2000).

  • Publish includes printing or distributing or broadcasting through audio visual media.

  • Distribution to include publication, license or uploading using computer resource, or communication device.

  • Expands section 4 of the Act to include that No person shall publish or distribute or cause to be published or cause to be distributed by “any means any material” which contains indecent representation of women in any form.

  • Penalty similar to that provided under the Information Technology Act, 2000: Sections 67 and 67A of the IT Act lay down a punishment of three to five years for circulating obscene material and five to seven years for circulating sexually explicit material, respectively.

  • Creation of a Centralised Authority under the aegis of National Commission of Women (NCW) which is to be headed by Member Secretary, NCW, having representatives from Advertising Standards Council of India, Press Council of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and one member having experience of working on women issues. o Its function will be to receive complaints or grievances regarding any programme or advertisement broadcasted or publication and investigate/examine all matters relating to the indecent representation of women.

  • Widens the scope of the Act to cover new forms of communication such as the internet, satellite based communication, cable television etc which remained outside the application of 1986 Act which focused primarily on print media and advertising.

  • Reduce the complexity in application of the laws as the Amendment seeks to align the act on the lines of Information Technology Act, 2000.

  • Counter the rising menace of “Revenge Porn”: The proposed amendment is a gender-specific statute and thus, is likely to be an enabling provision for countering the presence of such non-consensual material over the web.

6.2 Significance

Concerns

  • The term “indecent representation” continues to be defined in a vague manner, leaving the same open to misinterpretation.

  • When the standard of derogatory portrayal is not categorically defined, there is always a possibility of the same being interpreted on the benchmark of an orthodox morality. For instance the case of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) controversy in film certification in recent past.

  • This may encourage moral policing of women’s bodies to the extent that any content involving “nudity” would be disallowed or banned, irrespective of the purpose behind its publication, like the Breast Cancer Awareness Video which was banned by Facebook, though it later issued an apology for the same. Also recently, a Kerala magazine showed a model breastfeeding a child on cover page was trying to convey a cause for breastfeeding in public, however, a case was filed under section 4 of the Act against the magazine.

  • Conflict with Freedom of expression (Article 19(1)(a)) In Ajay Goswami v. Union of India (2007), while examining the scope of Section 292 of IPC and Sections 3, 4 and 6 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, the Supreme Court held that the commitment to freedom of expression demands that it cannot be suppressed, unless the situations created by it allowing the freedom are pressing and the community interest is endangered.

Way forward

  • Unless a standard is set to determine exactly what the legislation attempts to penalise, the regulatory framework proposed to be enforced may remain hollow to a certain extent.

  • The Government should regularly conduct awareness generation programmes and publicity campaigns on various laws relating to women including the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 through workshops, fairs, cultural programmes, seminars, training programmes, etc.

  • Further, advertisements must regularly be brought out in the print and electronic media to create awareness on laws relating to rights of women.

7. Women In Prisons

7.1 Condition of women prisoners in India (based on 2015 data):

  • There are approximately 4.2 Lakh persons in jail in India, of which, around 18000 (about 4.3%) are women. Of these, around 12000 (66.8%) are undertrial prisoners.

  • The number of women prisoners is showing an increasing trend - from 3.3% of all prisoners in 2000 to 4.3% in 2015.

  • About 50% of these women are in age group of 30-50 years and the next 31% are in age group of 18-30 years.

The International Norms:

UN BANGKOK RULES on women offenders and prisoners:

  • Adopted in 2010, these rules talk about appropriate healthcare to women, treating them with humanity and preserving their dignity during searches, protecting them from violence and provide for the children of the prisoners.

  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is the core international treaty on the protection of the rights of prisoners. India ratified the Covenant in 1979 and is bound to incorporate its provisions into domestic law and state practice.

  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR) states that prisoners have a right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

  • The UN standard Minimum Rule presents most comprehensive guidelines regarding prisoners and was adopted by UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 1957.

  • There are 1,401 prisons in India, and only 18 are exclusive for women which can house just around 3000 female prisoners. Thus, a majority of women inmates are housed in women’s enclosures of general prisons.

7.2 Problems faced by women prisoners

  • Women are often confined to small wards inside male prisons, their needs becoming secondary to those of the general inmate population.

  • While several cases of sexual harassment, violence and abuse against women in jails have been observed, the grievance redressal mechanism is still weak.

  • There is inadequacy of female staff which often translates to the reality that male staff becomes responsible for female inmates, which is very much undesirable.

  • Their small numbers (4.3%) ensure they remain low on policy priority and hence the coverage of facilities such as sanitary napkins, pre- and post-natal care for pregnant mothers is patchy.

  • They are not provided with meals that are nutritious and according to their bodily requirements.

  • Women tend to lose ties with their children over the years, due to inadequate child custody procedures (children upto 6 years are allowed in jail with their mothers, after that they are sent away to children home).

  • They are abandoned or harassed post-release, mainly due to the stigma attached with incarceration.

7.3 Details and recommendations of the report

  • Other Steps taken for women prisoners

  • Model Prison Manual, 2016

  • The manual contains additional provisions for Women prisoners and their children as well.

  • These provisions are based on UN Bangkok Rules and is drafted by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D),

  • The manual calls for women doctors, superintendents, separate kitchens for women inmates, and pre- and post-natal care for pregnant inmates, as also temporary release for an impending delivery.

  • It also talk about ensuring creche and nursery schools for the children to be looked after.

7.4.  Swadhar Greh:

  • This is a scheme for rehabilitation of women victims of difficult circumstances. Among other beneficiaries, the scheme also includes women prisoners released from jail and are without family, social and economic support.

  • • Care-giving mothers: o They should be allowed to make arrangements for their children prior to their imprisonment

  • They should be allowed reasonable suspension of detention.

  • If there is no relative/friend, her child below 6 years should be put in a child care institution.

  • Extended visits and frequent meetings should be allowed with the child.

  • • Undertrial women: o Bail should be granted to those who have spent one-third of their maximum possible sentence in detention by amending section 436A of CrPC.

  • A maximum time frame may be decided for release of women prisoners after bail is granted but surety is not produced.

  • Post-natal stage women: o A separate accommodation should be provided to them to maintain hygiene and protect the infant from contagion, for at least a year after childbirth.

  • Special provisions related to health and nutrition of such women be made.

  • Instruments of restraint, punishment by close confinement or disciplinary segregation should never be used on pregnant and lactating women.

  • Pregnant women: o They must be given information and access to abortion during incarceration, to the extent permissible by law.

  • Women with sensory disabilities or those with language barriers: o Legal consultations must be conducted in confidentiality and without censorship.

  • Adequate arrangements must be made by the prison administration to ensure that such persons do not face any disadvantage by providing an independent interpreter

  • For grievance redressal: o Apart from the prisoner herself, her legal adviser or family members should be allowed to make complaints regarding her stay in prison.

  • An inmate register can also be placed at an accessible spot in the prison for submitting grievances.

  • All official visitors must hold special one-on-one interviews with prisoners away from prison authorities during inspection visits.

  • For mental needs:

  • They should be given access to female counsellors/psychologists at least on a weekly basis or as frequently as needed by them.

  • For re-integration of women in society: o A comprehensive after-care programme should be put in place, covering employment, financial support, regaining of child custody, shelter, counselling, continuity of health care services etc.

  • Counselling should also be provided to family members and employers to adequately receive the woman after release

  • Prison authorities should coordinate with local police to ensure released prisoners are not harassed by them due to the attached stigma

  • At least one voluntary organisation should be designated in each district to help with integration of released prisoners.

  • Prisoners must be given the right to vote.

8. Disha Dashboard

8.1. District Development and Monitoring Committees/DISHA

  • These are constituted by the union government to ensure a better coordination among all the elected representatives in Parliament, State Legislatures and Local Governments (Panchayati Raj Institutions/ Municipal Bodies) for efficient and time-bound development of districts.

  • These committees would monitor the implementation of schemes and programmes of Ministry of Rural Development and other Ministries to promote synergy and convergence for greater impact.

  • The Chairperson of the committee will be the senior most Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) elected from the district, nominated by the Union Ministry of Rural Development.

  • The other Members of Parliament (Lok Sabha) representing the district will be designated as Co-Chairpersons.

  • One MP (Rajya Sabha) representing the State and exercising option to be associated with the district level Committee of that district (on first come basis) will be designated as Co-Chairperson.

  • The committee will include various other members such as: All Members of the State Legislative Assembly elected from the district, All Mayors / the Chairpersons of Municipalities, chairperson of the Zilla Panchayat etc.

  • Five elected heads of Gram Panchayat including two women, One representative each of SC, ST and Women to be nominated by the Chairperson will be among other members of the committee.

  • The Member Secretary of DISHA should be the District Collector / District Magistrate/ Deputy Commissioner except in cases where specific exemption has been given by the Union Government.

9. Global Action Plan On Physical Activity 2018-2030

9.1. About the Action Plan

  • It recommends a set of policy areas, for improving the environments and opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to do more walking, cycling, sport, active recreation, dance and play.

  • Plan target- 15% relative reduction in the global prevalence of physical inactivity in adults and in adolescents by 2030.

  • Related Sustainable Development Goals SGDs

  • Investing in policies to promote physical activities can contribute directly to achieving many of the 2030 SDGs as follows-

  • SDG2: Ending all forms of malnutrition.

  • SDG3: Good Health and well-being.

  • SDG8: Descent work and economic growth

  • Increasing inactivity is linked to various Non-Communicable Diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and obesity) which in turn are responsible for a high number of premature deaths all over the world. It is estimated that inactivity itself kills more than 5 million per year and is as dangerous as smoking.

  • This global action plan sets out four strategic objectives achievable through 20 policy actions that are universally applicable to all countries viz, Creative active society, create active environment, Create Active People, and Create active System.

  • The framework consists of policy actions aimed at improving the social, cultural, economic, environmental factors and enhance individual education and information respectively.

9.2. Important Recommendations

  • Certain important ones among various recommendations by the Plan are-

  • Implement best practice communication campaigns and community-based campaigns, linked with community-based programmes, to heighten awareness, knowledge and understanding of, and appreciation for, the multiple health benefits of regular physical activity.

  • Implement regular mass-participation initiatives in public spaces, engaging whole communities, to provide free access to enjoyable and affordable, socially and culturally appropriate experiences of physical activity.

  • Strengthen Urban and Transport planning policies that enable and promote walking, cycling, other forms of mobility involving the use of wheels (including wheelchairs, scooters and skates) and the use of public transport, in urban, peri-urban and rural communities.

  • Strengthen provision of good-quality physical education and more positive experiences and opportunities for active recreation, sports and play for girls and boys, applying the principles of the whole-of-school approach to establish health and physical literacy, and promote the enjoyment of, and participation in, physical activity, according to capacity and ability.

  • Enhance provision of more physical activity programmes and promotion in parks and other natural environments as well as in private and public workplaces, to support participation in physical activity, by all people of diverse abilities.

  • Strengthen the national and institutional research and evaluation capacity and stimulate the application of digital technologies and innovation to accelerate the development and implementation of effective policy solutions aimed at increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviour.

  • Strengthen financing mechanisms to secure sustained implementation of national and subnational action and the development of the enabling systems that support the development and implementation of such policies.

10. HAPPY SCHOOLS PROJECT

10.1. About the Project

  • It was launched in 2014 with the aim of promoting learner well-being and holistic development in School.

  • The framework of the Project aims to bring happiness and the quality of education together by calling for education systems to shift away from traditional measures and to instead embrace a diversity of talents and intelligences by recognizing values, strengths and competences that contribute to enhancing happiness.

  • The Project framework consists of 22 criteria for a happy school under three categories – People, Place and Process.

10.2 Need for the project

  • Over the decades the education system in India has become stressful and competitive for children. The rote learning system and the objectivity of merit and exam-oriented system is making children bogged down.

  • There is a rising trend of rising intolerance and violent extremism as well as increasing level of anxiety and depressions which further aggravates and results into suicides in worst case scenario.

June Indian Society and Issues

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