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1. Mob Lynching

1.1. Mob Lynching in India

  • Mob Lynching or Mob violence is a violent punishment or execution, without following due process of law, for real or alleged crimes.

  • India is perhaps the only place in the world where mobile messaging has led to such a widespread mass exodus and lynching.

  • In September 2017, the Supreme Court had asked states to take strong measures to curb such instances of violence in the name of cow protection, but not much steps were taken to that effect.

  • More recently, Supreme Court denounced the horrendous acts of mobocracy and gave certain directions to

1.2 Need of a separate law

  • No existing law: Presently there is no law which criminalizes mob lynching as a separate crime.

  • Deterrence: A dedicated law would help create enough deterrence against such heinous crime.

  • Ensure governance: The killing of human being by a crowd out to enforce mob justice puts a dent on democratic society and questions governance capabilities of the state. Thus, it needs to be punished.

  • Deal with multi-dimensional challenges: such as vigilantism, lynching due to spread of rumor etc.

  • However, some experts feel that the lynch mob is a law and order challenge and there are enough provisions in IPC related to murder, attempt to murder, acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention etc. to tackle such menace if implemented strongly and effectively.deal with such crimes. o Appointment by states of senior police officers as nodal officers in districts,

  • Identification of vulnerable and sensitive regions

  • More efficient patrolling of highways in these areas

  • Lodging of FIRs without delay Compensation schemes for victims and their families

  • Designated fast track courts to try the culprits

  • Prompt departmental action against police officers and administrative officials who fail to uphold the law.

  • A special law to be framed by Parliament, creating a separate offence of lynching.

1.3. Issues with mob lynching

  • Against rule of law: The process of adjudication takes place within the courts of justice, and not on the streets.

  • Against human rights: The lynching by mob create an atmosphere where human beings are dehumanised, freedom of speech, expression and personal choices are endangered and plurality and diversity is not accepted.

  • Fuel communalism and casteism: as in most cases, victims are the most vulnerable people of society - nomadic tribes, religious minorities, lower castes etc.

  • No database to analyse trends: As per Ministry of Home Affairs there is no record keeping on public lynching. Thus, making it difficult to draw conclusions and possible solutions to the problem.

  • Rise in causes that fuel the tendency towards such incidents o Loss of faith of people in the judicial/democratic system of governance especially the poor and marginalized. So they are tempted to deliver instant justice in their own ways.

  • Socio-political framework: it involves people with little or no education, deep fissures and mistrust, political patronage to achieve narrow political gains, rising intolerance and growing polarization.

  • Misinformation and propagandas spread through platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp: For e.g. recent rumours regarding child lifters have incited many impulsive and unplanned acts of violence across the country.

  • The incapability/unwillingness of law enforcement agencies to act against mob crimes further encourages it to take the law into their own hands frequently. Public officials and police departments should be held accountable for showing incompetence rather than putting onus on social media platforms completely

  • Dispersion of responsibility and guilt unlike sense of responsibility in individual action.

Way forward

  • Setting example and ensuring prosecution and punishment: Mob lynching points to a disruption that reflects the loss of trust in state capabilities in justice delivery. Thus, such reiterative brutality and assaults on personal liberty and the right to life needs to be suppressed and punished so that perpetrators know that they would not be able to get away with it.

  • Focus needed on social/attitudinal change: through reaching out to local communities to keep peace and check trouble makers from spreading rumours, creating awareness regarding misuse of social media by mass campaigns with help of civil society etc.

  • Strengthening administration and governance to ensure public confidence in state institutions: by strengthening local intelligence networks, swifter response from police, proactive flagging of rumors.

  • Holding Social media platforms accountable: WhatsApp should change its platform to enable privacy in messages between individuals and tracking identity where forwarded message is to public.

  • Adopt innovative practices as adopted in various states: For example o Telangana police has trained a team of 500 police officers to tackle the fake news menace. These officers go to villages to spread awareness about social issues. Police personnel have also been added to local WhatsApp groups in villages to spot rumors that could lead to violence.

  • The West Bengal police took to Twitter to dispel a rumor that government had sanctioned a five-day holiday on account of Eid, nixing attempts to incite communal tension.

2. The Trafficking Of Persons (Prevention, Protection And Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018

Human Trafficking in India

  • The most current available data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) indicate that there were more than 8,000 reported cases of human trafficking across India in 2016.

  • West Bengal (having porous borders with Bangladesh and Nepal) has become a human trafficking hub as it registered more than one-third of the total number of victims in 2016.

  • India is a source, transit as well as a consumer country in South-East Asian human-trafficking industry.

2.1 Steps Taken To Combat Human Trafficking

  • India ratified the UNTOC in 2011.

  • The Government of India applies the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, as well as Section 370 and 370A IPC provides stringent punishment for human trafficking; trafficking of children for exploitation in any form including physical exploitation; or any form of sexual exploitation, slavery, servitude or the forced removal of organs.

  • Apart from this, there many other laws and provisions that protect people from exploitation, like-

  • Article 23 (1) of Indian Constitution prohibits Trafficking in Human and forced labour,

  • The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA) for prevention of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.

  • Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976,

  • Protection of Children from Sexual offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation, etc.

  • Lok Sabha has recently passed the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018.

What is human trafficking?

  • United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) defines Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

  • Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

  • Human trafficking is a crime against the person because of the violation of the victim's right to movement through coercion and because of their commercial exploitation. It is the third largest organized crime in the world.

What increases vulnerability to human trafficking?

  • Political Instability: It creates unstable conditions in which people may live in constant fear with limited options for survival or earning a living. o It may also lead to forced migration leading to homelessness, unemployment, and other deprivations of which traffickers may take advantage.

  • Poverty: Traffickers specifically target poor and marginalized communities to offer vulnerable individuals false opportunities to improve their circumstances. Parents are often forced to sell their children due to poverty.

  • Gender Inequality: makes women more vulnerable to recruitment by traffickers.

  • Addictions: Traffickers use substance dependency and addiction to keep control of the trafficked person. Some traffickers purposely supply drugs to vulnerable people to break down their resistance and coerce them into forced labour or sex.

  • Mental Health: People with mental health issues face a variety of challenges including isolation, diminished capacity to consent or offer informed consent, and limited ability to assess risk and detect ill-intentions. Traffickers are skilled in detecting these vulnerabilities and manipulating them to their advantage.

  • Online Vulnerability: Traffickers maintain an online presence to lure vulnerable adults and children with the goal of meeting them in person, to take and circulate explicit photos, and to coerce an individual to comply with their demands.

2.2. Salient Features of the Anti-trafficking Bill, 2018

  • A National Anti-Trafficking Bureau (NATB) will be established for coordinating, monitoring and surveillance of trafficking cases. It will also deal with crimes having inter-state ramifications.

  • Anti-Trafficking Relief and Rehabilitation Committees to be established at the national, state, and district levels.

  • These Committees will be responsible for:

  • (i) providing compensation to victims,

  • (ii) repatriation of victims, and

  • (iii) re-integration of victims in society, among others.

  • State Anti-Trafficking Officers: He will be responsible for: (i) follow up action under the Bill, as per the instructions of the State Anti-Trafficking Committee, and (ii) providing relief and rehabilitation services. The state government will also appoint a Police Nodal Officer at the state and district levels.

  • Anti-Trafficking Units: ATUs will deal with the prevention, rescue, and protection of victims and witnesses, and for the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offences. In districts where an ATU is not functional, this responsibility will be taken up by the local police station.

  • Protection and rehabilitation: It requires the central or state government to set up Protection Homes. These would provide shelter, food, counselling, and medical services to victims.

  • Designated courts will be established in each district to provide time-bound (within an year) judgement. The bill also provides penalties for various offences.

Analysis

  • The bill provides a robust policy framework which ties together the approaches of prevention, rescue and rehabilitation and also introduced the concept of ‘aggravated forms of trafficking’ such as begging, child-bearing, administering hormones, etc.

  • The bill provides protection to witness as well as confidentiality through in-camera proceedings, video-conferencing etc along with a provision for time-bound trial.

  • It seeks to build the capacity of victims by providing capital, infrastructure, education and skill development to empower them to access justice and to prevent further trafficking. This will be accomplished and strengthened through the intelligence apparatus to improve the collection, collation and dissemination of operational intelligence.

  • However, there still remain certain issues that need to be rectified, like-

  • It has not been sent to the standing committee as demanded by many.

  • It is also believed that it is just rehash of existing laws as section 370 of IPC still exists. The creation of several anti-trafficking bureaucratic bodies will create confusion in the enforcement of these laws.

  • Various vague phrases and provisions like “any propaganda material that promotes trafficking of person or exploitation of a trafficked person in any manner” provides scope for wider interpretations which may have impact on freedom of speech and expression.

Recommended Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking by Human Rights Council of the UN

  • Promotion and protection of human rights. Anti-trafficking measures should not adversely affect the human rights and dignity of persons and, in particular, the rights of those who have been trafficked, migrants, internally displaced persons, refugees and asylum-seekers.

  • Identification of trafficked persons and traffickers. A failure to identify a trafficked person correctly is likely to result in a further denial of that person’s rights.

  • Effective and realistic anti-trafficking strategies must be based on accurate and current information, experience and analysis.

  • There is an urgent need to harmonize legal definitions, procedures and cooperation at the national and regional levels in accordance with international standards through an adequate legal framework.

  • An adequate law enforcement response to trafficking is dependent on the cooperation of trafficked persons and other witnesses. Law enforcement officials must also be sensitized to the paramount requirement of ensuring the safety of trafficked persons.

  • Appropriate protection and support should be extended to all trafficked persons without discrimination.

  • Strategies aimed at preventing trafficking should take into account root causes like addressing issues like inequality, poverty and all forms of discrimination and prejudice.

  • Child victims of trafficking should be provided with appropriate assistance and protection and full account should be taken of their special rights and needs.

  • To overcome the problem of lack of awareness about right to remedies among the victims of trafficking, legal and other material assistance should be provided to trafficked persons to enable them to realize their right to adequate and appropriate remedies.

  • States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations are responsible for the actions of those working under their authority and are therefore under an obligation to take effective measures to prevent their nationals and employees from engaging in trafficking and related exploitation.

  • International, multilateral and bilateral cooperation can play an important role in combating trafficking activities. Such cooperation is particularly critical between countries involved in different stages of the trafficking cycle.

  • No accurate data on their exact number: though 68th round of NSSO survey for employment and unemployment indicate 3.9 Million, unofficial numbers may be higher.

  • No legal framework currently recognizing their rights: Though India has two laws which address the concerns of domestic workers and in a circuitous way regard them as ‘workers’ which include Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008 and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, neither of these identifies workers as rights bearing workers.

  • Indifferent attitude of State governments towards domestic workers: states have failed to include domestic workers in their respective schedules of employment.

  • Vast Sector and still not considered an economic activity: In purview of labour laws the work of domestic workers is not termed as a work- cooking, cleaning, babysitting, etc. are not recognized as work by state. They don’t have access to basic social security benefits including Maternity leaves, Pension and insurance.

  • It has also been criticised for not being in accordance with the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council.

  • The provisions without safeguards could result in harassment of transgenders. The use of phrases such as ‘administration of hormones’ in the Bill can be used to target transgender persons, since many of them take hormones during their process of gender affirmation.

  • Certain provisions such as confiscation of property will hurt those sex workers which are voluntarily involved in the job. The Bill promotes “rescue raids” by the police and institutionalisation of victims in the name of rehabilitation.

3. Proposed National Policy For Domestic Workers

3.1. Issues with the domestic workers

  • The Minimum Wages Act 1948 doesn’t take domestic workers into account: This results in poor grievance redressal in case of underpaid workers.

  • Includes Children below age of sixteen: who are unable to enjoy their fundamental right under article 21A that guarantees them compulsory elementary education.

  • India is a signatory to the International Labor Organization’s 189th convention, known as the Convention on Domestic Workers, but has not ratified it yet.

3.2 Past efforts towards legislation for Domestic workers

  • The National Platform for Domestic Workers submitted a draft bill, the Domestic Workers Regulation of Work and Social Security Bill, 2016 which called for the compulsory registration of the employer and the employee with the District Board for regulation of domestic workers.

  • Domestic Workers lack an organized union: they come under the unorganized sector, thus they don’t act as a pressure group which disables them to highlight their grievances to the authorities.

  • Migrant Workers: Most of these are from vulnerable communities – Adivasis, Dalits or landless OBCs and almost all of them are migrants who require work to survive. Overwhelming number of them are women.

  • Victims of abuse: they are often mistreated and are verbally or physically abused and also many times face sexual harassment which creates an unsafe working environment.

  • Remain out of mainstream economy: they are unable to utilize the benefits of rapid economic development and growth.

3.3. Salient Features for proposed National Policy for domestic workers

Initiatives by states

  • Many state governments like Rajasthan, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Tripura have included domestic workers in the schedule of Minimum Wages Act and workers are, therefore, entitled to file cases before the concerned authorities in case of any grievances in this regard.

  • Mathadi board model prevalent in Maharashtra: The Mathadi boards were set up to ensure fair wages were paid to workers carrying loads. This ensures that equal wages are paid for equal work. • Inclusion of domestic workers in the existing legislations.

  • Registration of domestic workers.

  • Right to form their own associations, trade unions.

  • Right to have minimum wages, access to social security, protection from abuse, harassment, violence.

  • Right to enhance their professional skills.

  • Protection of domestic workers from abuse and exploitation.

  • Domestic workers to have access to courts, tribunals, etc.

  • Establishment of a mechanism for regulation of placement agencies.

  • Aims to provide equitable salaries and fair employment terms, protection from abuse/harassment and violence and address their grievances and resolve disputes.

  • States to set up a Board/Trust to register and regulate placement agencies for domestic workers. The board will make recommendations on working hours, minimum wages and leave entitlements, promoting equal pay for equal work.

  • Clearly define part time, full time and live-in workers, employers and private placement agencies.

  • Domestic workers would now be included in the Universal Social Security code that is being drafted by labour Ministry, which would provide them with benefits such as medical insurances, pensions, maternity and mandatory leave.

  • It would be a step forward in formalization of domestic workers.

4. Development Induced Displacement Of Tribals

Background

  • Numerous big development projects have been seen as crucial for the overall development of the economy. For example, Dams are known as the ‘temples of India’.

  • Many of these projects have been set up in tribal areas and on the lands owned by tribals. These are the groups that have traditionally depended on the common property resource basically on forestland for their survival.

Related Information

  • The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) was constituted consequent to the amendment of Article 338 of the Constitution of India and insertion of a new Article 338A vide the Constitution (Eighty-ninth Amendment) Act, 2003 which, inter-alia, enjoins upon the Commission to oversee the implementation of various safeguards provided to Scheduled Tribes under the Constitution or under any other law for the time being in force or under any other order of the Government and to evaluate the working of such safeguards.

  • Article 338 provides for a Special Officer for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes under this Constitution and report to the President upon the working of those safeguards at such intervals as the President may direct, and the President shall cause all such reports to be laid before each House of Parliament.

  • A major legislation that deals with the issue of displacement and resettlement is Land acquisition, Rehabilitation, Resettlement Act 2013.

  • Other laws for tribal development include Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 (PESA), Forest Rights Act 2006 and Fifth Schedule of the Constitution.

  • ‘Development induced displacement and resettlement (DIDR)’ can be defined as the forcing of communities and individuals out of their homes, often also their homelands, for the purposes of economic development. At the international level, it is viewed as a violation of human rights.

  • Compensation and rehabilitation policies designed to mitigate effects of displacement are often unsuccessful. This is largely due to corruption of street level bureaucrats, underestimation of the value of resources, failure of planners to recognize the intricacies of the existing social and economic systems of the displaced and lack of involvement of displaced persons in the planning process.

4.1. Problems faced by the displaced families can be summarised as:

  • The affected communities many a times are not even consulted regarding the actions and their consequences on them. For example, in case of Bargi Project over Narmada, it was told that 104 villages will be affected, while 162 villages got submerged leading to displacement of people.

  • Under-evaluation of Compensation: Due to high level of corruption, illiteracy among the Tribals and various other reasons, the people are cheated as compensation is not enough in terms of the loss they ususlaly go through.

  • Inability to handle cash compensation: Their money gets depleted quickly through fraud, from repayment of old debt, in liquor and other conspicuous consumption. A lifetime of livelihood security or shelter is squandered in months, sometimes weeks, condemning displaced persons to assured and irrevocable destitution.

  • Failure to acquire cultivable land: The problems associated with the absence of a comprehensive rehabilitation plan, of undervaluation of compensation and the inability to negotiate a money economy, combine as serious barriers for displaced land owners to secure alternate cultivable lands.

  • Traumatic, Forced and delayed relocation: The driving objective of project authorities has not been to prepare and assist the families to relocate and to make a gradual and less painful transition to their new habitats. Instead the only objective is to vacate the submergence zone of what are perceived to be its human encumbrances.

  • Problems in resettlement sites: Resettlement sites are often inhospitable in a number of ways (small houses, temporary structures, absence of basic facilities, schools and colleges, etc.) and their locations are selected without reference to availability of livelihood opportunities, or the preferences of displaced persons themselves.

  • Multiple displacement: Due to absence of coordination among offices, displacement takes place twice or thrice, for which the villagers are not even compensated.

  • Failure to provide alternative livelihood: Land for land policy rarely operationalise and the authorities are unable to provide non-land based sustainable livelihood to the displaced.

  • Important Provisions of Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013

  • The process for land acquisition involves a Social Impact Assessment survey, preliminary notification stating the intent for acquisition, a declaration of acquisition, and compensation to be given by a certain time. All acquisitions require rehabilitation and resettlement to be provided to the people affected by the acquisition.

  • The ‘public purpose’ for which land can be acquired by the government is defined.

  • The Act also provides for schools and playgrounds, health centers, roads and electric connections and assured sources of safe drinking water for each family.

  • The role of the gram sabha has been clearly stressed and the government has to consult them.

  • Compensation for the owners of the acquired land shall be four times the market value in case of rural areas and twice in case of urban areas.

  • In case of acquisition of land for use by private companies or public private partnerships, consent of 80 per cent of the displaced people will be required. Purchase of large pieces of land by private companies will require provision of rehabilitation and resettlement.

  • The Act forbids land acquisition when such acquisition would include multi-crop irrigated area. However, such acquisition may be permitted on demonstrable last resort, which will be subjected to an aggregated upper limit for all the projects in a District or State as notified by the State Government. In addition to the above condition, wherever multi-crop irrigated land is acquired an equivalent area of cultivable wasteland shall be developed by the state for agricultural purposes.

  • Problems of host communities: Unoccupied areas rarely exist and therefore resettlement takes place in existing settlements. This increases competition for few available resources and jobs. Therefore, the host communities rarely accept the displaced people.

  • Special vulnerabilities due to class, caste, gender, age, etc is also observed during displacement. The displaced family's livelihood, their family, kinship systems, cultural identity and informal social networks are badly affected and disrupted. The condition of the women is even more traumatic. Lack of policy framework and social securities has made them insecure and psychologically very weak.

4.2 Recommendations for Rehabilitation and Resettlement of displaced people:

  • Agricultural land: The state government should provide only land fit for agriculture to the displaced family within the command area of Irrigation Project with proper irrigation facilities.

  • While awarding compensation in respect of tribal people, “land for land” policy should be followed to the maximum extent.

  • The ceiling of 2.5. acres of land should be waived in case of ST people, and they should be provided equal or at least 2.5 acres of land within the Command Area in case of irrigation project such as Polavaram.

  • Means of livelihood: The state government should also take care of the people without land holdings (who depended on minor forest produce for livelihood) by providing them adequate means of livelihood. The government may consider developing an industrial estate/hub adjoining the resettlement area to provide employment and economic opportunities to the displaced families.

  • Housings: Government should immediately re-build the newly constructed houses which are destroyed by flash flood to mitigate the sufferings of displaced.

  • The compensation packages need to be revised keeping in view the suggestions of the Supreme Court of India in the case of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd.

  • Infrastructure: In the resettlement colonies, focus/emphasis needs to be given for creation of social infrastructure like setting up of Colleges, University, Stadiums, Medical College on the pattern of AIIMs, Art and Music academies/centers, etc. in addition to their entitlement.

  • Advance Construction and compensation: The State Government must ensure that R&R work is completed and compensation paid to the project affected as well as project displaced families at least four months prior to submergence or commissioning of the project or their displacement, whichever is earlier.

  • Overseeing the process: The NCST strongly recommended that there should be a dedicated team of R&R officials to be stationed in rehabilitation area to oversee the developmental activities and other welfare measures for a period of at least 5 years from completion of the project.

  • Alternative solutions such as reviving traditional systems of water harvesting (it has worked in various parts of Rajasthan and has changed the economy of farmers and also addressed drinking water problems in the region), applying modern rainwater harvesting models and building small check dams, precise irrigation methods, sustainable mining etc. can be adopted instead of bigger projects.

5. NATIONAL HEALTH STACK

About NHS

  • Vision: A centralized health record for all citizens of the country in order to streamline the health information and facilitate effective management of the same.

  • Scope: The scope of the National Health Stack includes (and is not restricted) to the following subjects: o Induction of Private Hospitals and Private Practitioners into the Primary and Secondary healthcare ecosystem;

  • Focus on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD); Disease Surveillance; Health Schemes Management Systems; Nutrition Management; School Health Schemes; Emergency Management; e-Learning Platform for health, Telehealth, Tele-radiology; Diagnostic Equipment; Health Call Centre(s) etc.

  • It will be India's first futuristic nationally shared digital healthcare infrastructure usable by both the Centre and states across public and private sectors.

Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Swasthya Suraksha Mission

  • It was launched in 2003 with objectives of correcting regional imbalances in the availability of affordable/ reliable tertiary healthcare services and also to augment facilities for quality medical education in the country.

  • It has two components, viz-

  • Setting up new AIIMS

  • Upgradation of government medical colleges

  • It is a collection of cloud-based services.

  • It will provide a mechanism through which every user participating in the system can be uniquely identified. The registrant may create a virtual health ID to preserve their privacy when interacting with other users or stakeholders in the system.

  • It will be built in the context of PM- RSSM (Pradhan

  • Mantri Rashtriya Swasthya Suraksha Mission), but will be designed ‘beyond RSSM’ to support existing and future health initiatives, both public and private.

5.1. Components of NHS

  • National Health Electronic Registries: to create a single source of health data of the nation.

  • A Coverage and Claims platform: to support large health protection schemes, enable horizontal and vertical expansion of RSSM by states and robust fraud detection.

  • A Federated Personal Health Records (PHR) Framework: to solve twin challenges of access to their own health data by patients and availability of health data for medical research which is critical for advancing understanding of human health.

  • A National Health Analytics Platform: to bring a holistic view combining information on multiple health initiatives and feed into smart policy making, for instance, through improved predictive analytics.

  • Other horizontal Components: including, and not restricted to, unique Digital Health ID, Health Data Dictionaries and Supply Chain Management for Drugs, payment gateways etc shared across all health programs.

5.2. Benefits of the NHS

  • With the adoption of this technology approach, the government’s policies on health and health protection can achieve:

  • Continuum of Care as the Stack supports information flow across primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare

  • Shift focus from Illness to Wellness to drive down future cost of health protection

  • Cashless Care to ensure financial protection to the poor

  • Timely Payments on Scientific Package Rates to service providers, a strong lever to participate in government-funded healthcare programs

  • Robust Fraud Detection to prevent funds leakage

  • Improved Policy Making through access to timely reporting on utilization and measurement of impact across health initiatives

  • Enhanced Trust and Accountability through non-repudiable transaction audit trails

5.3. Criticism against proposed NHS

  • Though the document assures consent-driven interaction, it does not elaborate on whether the health data fiduciaries will be government or private bodies.

  • Having a health stack, the base of which is personal health data, throws up more questions about who owns, who can access and control such digital data.

  • In case of leak of sensitive health data, a person might have to face significant financial and social harm. Insurance companies may also deny claim or raise claims based on health data.

  • In the absence of a law, the requirement for consent will be the decision of a company or government department, which will be discretionary, arbitrary and without adequate democratic legitimacy.

  • A digital technology architecture does not mean good data will be available as people (both patient and person recording the data) keep fudging depending upon their knowledge and political motives.

6. Punjab Drug Menace

6.1. Facts about drug problem in Punjab:

  • Doda/Phukki/left-over husk of Opium is consumed by farmers and workers of many states and at least 1/3rd rural population consumes it in Punjab. It does not come within drug addiction.

  • According to PODS (Punjab Opioid Dependency Survey), in NDPS Act, 1985

  • It was passed in 1985 in a bid to criminalize the cultivation, and possession of narcotic drugs.

  • The death penalty was introduced in the Act in 1989, to deter narco-terrorism.

  • The law also provides a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for offences involving commercial quantities of drugs. This determination assumes that people found with commercial quantities of drugs are drug traffickers.

  • Under the law, proving possession alone is sufficient, the prosecution does not have to prove intent to lead to conviction. Since intent is harder to prove than a criminal act alone, strict liability ensures higher convictions.

  • 2015 the state suffered from 90% Heroin addiction. Punjab's proximity to Afghanistan and Pakistan, with which it shares a border, has meant that it's a major transit route in the lucrative drug smuggling trade (Golden Crescent). That's one reason why heroin is so readily available here.

  • The Narcotic terrorism is also an after effect of the violent separatist militancy which existed in the state in 1980s and 1990s.

6.2 Impacts of drug abuse

  • On Family: The drug abuse problems may affect interpersonal relationships, instability in family, violence, child abuse, economic insecurity, deprivation of schooling and risk of sexually transmitted disease, including HIV infection.

  • On Health: Health problems impair family life and productive employment, diminish the quality of life and may threaten survival.

  • On Crime: Crime and drugs are inter-related in several ways. Firstly, illicit production, manufacture, distribution or possession of drugs may constitute a crime. Secondly, drugs may increase the likelihood of occurrence of other non-drug crimes such as the illegal use of guns, various forms of violence and terrorism. Thirdly, drugs may be used to make money, with subsequent money-laundering.

  • On Development: The economic costs of drug abuse can be categorized as direct and indirect. Direct costs involve increased costs of police, courts, military, treatment programmes, welfare payments to drug addicts and their families, as well as increased security measures by businesses. Indirect economic costs include the displacement of legal industries; diminished control over the economy; spending money for drugs and inappropriate use of money gained from drug sales; and fiscal problems related to the inability to tax the drug economy.

6.3 Other recent steps taken by Punjab Government to fight drug menace

  • Task Force: Punjab government has set up a Special Task Force against drugs which has been given a mandate “to prepare and implement a comprehensive programme to eliminate drugs from the state.”

  • Community Project: A community participation programme called DAPO (Drug Abuse Prevention Officer) project has been started to raise awareness. The government has announced that all its employees and members of PRIs would be ex-officio DAPOs.

  • Buddy Project: The project aims to create student awareness. The project involves teachers, students and parents and also aims to have teachers trained by a special team comprising STF officers, psychologists and education officers.

  • Ooat (Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment): under this programme, the health department has opened 81 OOAT clinics for opium and heroin addicts since May. Addicts are given buprenorphine, an opioid substitute.

  • Recently a ban has also been put on sale of syringes without a prescription

6.4. Criticism against the new moves

  • NDPS already had a section 31A introduced in 2001 which provided for mandatory death penalty to repeat offenders. It was watered down by a 2014 amendment to reflect a Bombay High Court judgment that held it “unconstitutional”. The NDPS Act is itself notorious for being misused, making the inclusion of death sentence risky.

  • Mandatory drug testing of employees will violate the fundamental right to life and personal liberty. Further, the government has around 3.5 lakh employees and it would be a tall order to get all of them tested.

  • The test cannot establish whether a person is an addict or not. The test can only confirm the presence of narcotics in samples. For instance, a regular user of heroin may test negative if he or she has abstained for three-four days.

  • It is well-known that the vast majority of drug addicts are unemployed youth. It is this segment of youth who need to be targeted for proactive and preventive measures and not government employees alone.

Way-Forward

  • In large parts of India, the consumption of marijuana (by Shiva devotees during festivals) and opium (in Punjab and Rajasthan) has great social acceptability. Therefore, the policies must have a reasonable distinction between a recreational user and an addict.

  • Worldwide, the tide of public opinion is slowly turning against the police-led, enforcement and punishment-based approach to drug control. The Global Commission on Drug Policy came out with a report in 2011 which advocated complete decriminalisation.

  • Compulsive addicts must not be treated as despicable criminals, but as fellow human beings in need of care and counselling.

  • Punjab should focus on cracking down on big suppliers. It should propose tighter controls at the border through which some of the narcotics enter.

  • It should draw up a comprehensive health-based policy to deal with addiction, including an enumeration of addicts, the long-term follow-up of patients who manage to shake off the habit at government de-addiction centres, a rehab plan for such patients, plus education and awareness building from a young age.

7. Institutions Of Eminence

Overall findings of the Empowered Committee which recommended IOE tag:

  • Most of the institutions which applied for IOE are new (less than 20 years old) and rely excessively on fees. They are “yet to find their feet” as younger private institutions having smaller alumni base lack “financial sustainability”. To be within 500 in world ranking in the next 10 years is “a tall order” for them.

  • 'Specialised institutions’ may be attracted to the IoE status only for the financial incentives involved.

  • In state controlled universities, lack of finances are holding back hiring. Therefore, faculty vacancies continue to exist.

  • The existing framework to apply for IOE is lacking in the sense that several eminent institutions like IIM Ahmedabad, TISS, etc. failed to fit. The management institutes should also be ranked separately.

  • There should be more flexibility and funds for certain institutions such as Gandhigram Rural institute of Higher Education in Tamil Nadu.

  • The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has granted Institution of Eminence (IoE) status to six educational institutions including 3 from Public Sector and 3 from Private Sector.

Background

  • None of the Indian universities had found a place in World University Rankings in 2017. Thus, in budget 2016, the government had committed to empower Higher Educational Institutions to help them become world class teaching and research institutions.

  • In this context, the government had formed an Empowered Expert Committee (EEC) chaired by N. Gopalaswami to recommend 6 institutions as Institutions of Eminence.

What is IOE?

  • IOE is a tag given to institutions which are either National institution Ranking Framework

  • This framework outlines a methodology to rank institutions across the country, launched in 2015.

  • The methodology draws from the overall recommendations broad understanding arrived at by a Core Committee set up by Ministry of Human Resource Development, to identify the broad parameters for ranking various universities and institutions.

  • The parameters broadly cover “Teaching, Learning and Resources,” “Research and Professional Practices,” “Graduation Outcomes,” “Outreach and Inclusivity,” and “Perception”. among Top 50 in the National institution Ranking Framework (in their category) or among Top 500 in internationally recognised rankings like the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and have a good mix of foreign and domestic students as well as faculty, have international standard infrastructure and are multi-disciplinary in their approach.

7.1. Benefits of declaration as IoE

  • Financial Assistance: Each public Institution selected as ‘Institution of Eminence’ will get financial assistance up to Rs. 1000 Crore over the period of five years under this scheme.

  • Autonomy: These Institutions shall be provided with greater autonomy to:

  • admit foreign students up to 30% of admitted students;

  • recruit foreign faculty upto 25% of faculty strength;

  • offer online courses upto 20% of its programmes;

  • enter into academic collaboration with top 500 in the world ranking Institutions without permission of UGC;

  • fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction;

  • flexibility of course structure in terms of number of credit hours and years to take a degree;

  • complete flexibility in fixing of curriculum and syllabus, etc.

  • World Class Institutions: They will get more opportunity to scale up their operations with more skills and quality improvement so that they become World Class Institutions in the field of education.

  • World Ranking: It is expected that the above selected Institutions will come up in top 500 of the world ranking in 10 years and in top 100 of the world ranking eventually overtime.

  • Criticism of the Move

  • The model for the Higher Education sector remains dependent on state patronage. Also, the entry into the global education race could now become an overriding concern.

  • To gauge institutions principally by their prospective rankings, without regard for the relevance of outcomes, would be reductionist.

  • There is lack of transparency in the selection process which may be cured by public sharing of benchmarks and guidelines.

  • The knowledge economy does not consist of multi-disciplinary universities alone, but in current scenario universities seem to be the only one eligible for the IoE tag.

  • Both in the interest of parity and for fear of losing opportunity, a separate category could be created to accommodate sectoral institutions, like the Indian Institutes of Management.

July Indian Society and Issues

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